ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
COMMENTARY ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES HOMILIES 43-55
[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 XLIII: ACTS XX. 1.
"And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia."
THERE was need of much comforting after that uproar. Accordingly, having done this, he goes into Macedonia, and then into Greece. For, it says, "when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia." (v. 2, 3.) Again he is persecuted by the Jews, and goes into Macedonia. "And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Trophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas." (v. 4. 5.) But how does he call Timothy a man "of Thessalonica?"(*) This is not his meaning, but, "Of Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus and Gaius: of Derbe, Timothy,"(1) etc., these, he says, went before him to Troas, preparing the way for him. "And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days."(v. 6.) For it seems to me that he made a point of keeping the feasts in the large cities. "From Philippi," where the affair of the prison had taken place. This was his third coming into Macedonia, and it is a high testimony that be bears to the day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (v. 7.) It was then the (season between Easter and) Pentecost.(2) See how everything was subordinate to the preaching. It was also, it says, the Lord's day.(t) Not even during night-time was he silent, nay he discourse the rather then, because of stillness. Mark how he both made a long discourse, and beyond the time of supper itself. But the Devil disturbed the feast--not that he prevailed, however--by plunging the hearer in sleep, and causing him to fall down. "And," it says, "there were many lights in the upper chamber, Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him, said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted." (v. 8-12.) But observe, I pray you, the theatre, how crowded it was: and the miracle, what it was. "He was sitting in a window," at dead of night. Such was their eagerness to hear him! Let us take shame to our selves! "Aye, but a Paul" say you, "was discoursing then." Yes, and Paul discourses now, or rather not Paul, either then or now, window in the case now, no importunity of hunger, or sleep, and yet we do not care to hear: no crowding in a narrow space here, nor any other such comfort. And the wonderful circumstance is, that though he was a youth, he was not listless and indifferent; and danger of falling down. It was not from listlessness that he slumbered, but from necessity of nature. But observe, I beseech you, so fervent was their zeal, that they even assembled in a third loft: for they had not a Church yet. "Trouble not yourselves," he says. He said not, "He shall come to life again, for I will raise him up:" but mark the unassuming way in which he comforts them: "for his life," says he, "is in him. When he was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten." This thing cut short the discourse; it did no harm, however. "When he had eaten," it says, "and discoursed a long while, even till break of day, so he departed." Do you mark the frugality of the supper? Do you observe how they passed the whole night? Such were their meals, that the hearers came away sober, and fit for hearing. But we, in what do we differ from dogs? Do you mark what a difference (between us and those men)? "And they brought the young man alive, and," it says, "were not a little comforted," both because they received him back alive and because a miracle had been wrought.(*) "And we went before to ship, and sated unto Thasos,(2) there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot." (v. 13.) We often find Paul parting from the disciples. For behold again, he himself goes ardor: giving them the easier way, and himself choosing the more painful. He went afoot, both that he might arrange many matters, and by way of training them to bear a parting from him.(3) "And when he had joined us at Thasos, having taken him on board, we came to. Mytilene; and having sailed thence on the morrow, we come over against Chios "--then they pass the island--"and on the next day we touched at Samos, and having stopped at Trogylium, on the following day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the Pentecost." (v. 14-16.) Why this haste? Not for the sake of the feast, but of the multitude. At the same time, by this he conciliated the Jews, as being one that did honor the feasts, wishing to gain even his adversaries: at the same time also he delivers the word.(4) Accordingly, see what great gain accrued, from all being present. But that the interests of the people of Ephesus might not be neglected on that account, he managed for this in a different way. But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "And having embraced them," it says, "he departed for to go into Macedonia." (v. 1.) By this again he refreshed them @@@anekth'sato, giving them much consolation. "And having exhorted" the Macedonians, "with much discourse, he came into Greece." (v. 2.) Observe how we every where find him accomplishing all by means of preaching, not by miracles. "And we, sailed," etc. The writer constantly shows him to us as hasting to get to Syria; and the reason of it was the Church, and Jerusalem, but still he restrained his desire, so as to set all right in those parts also(5) And yet Troas is not a large place: why then do they pass seven days in it? Perhaps it was large as regarded the number of believers. And after he had passed seven days there, on the following day he spent the night in teaching: so hard did he find it to tear himself away from them, and they from him. "And when we came together" it says, "to break bread." (v. 7-12.) At the very time (of breaking bread) the discourse having taken its commencement,(*) extended:(1) as representing that they were hungry, and it was not unseasonable: for the principal object (which brought them together) was not teaching, but they came together "to break bread;" discourse however having come up, he prolonged the teaching. See how all partook also at Paul's table. It seems to me, that he discoursed while even sitting at table, teaching us to consider all other things as subordinate to this. Picture to yourselves, I beseech you, that house with its lights, with its crowd, with Paul in the midst, discoursing, with even the windows occupied by many: what a thing it was to see, and to hear that trumpet, and behold that gracious countenance!(2) But why did he discourse during night time? Since "he was about to depart," it says, and was to see them no more: though this indeed he does not tell them, they being too weak (to bear it), but be did tell it to the others. At the same time too the mirage which took place would make them evermore to remember that evening; so that the fall turned out to the advantage of the teacher. Great was the delight of the hearers, and even when interrupted it was the more increased. That (young man) was to rebuke all that are careless (of the word), he whose death was caused by nothing else than this, that he wished to hear Paul. "And we went before to ship," etc. (v. 13.) Wherefore does the writer say where they came, and where they went to? To show in the first place that he was making the voyage more leisurely--and this upon human grounds--and sailing past (some): also (for the same reason he tells) where he made a stay, and what parts he sailed past; (namely,) "that he might not have to spend the time in Asia." (v. 16.) Since had he come there, he could not have sailed by; he did not like to pain those who would have begged him to remain. "For he hasted," it says, "if it were possible for him to keep the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem:" and (this) was not possible of he stayed). Observe, how he is also moved like other men. For therefore it is that all this is done, that we may not fancy that he was above human nature: (therefore) you see him desiring (something), and hasting, and in many instances not obtaining (his object): for those great and holy men were partakers of the same nature with us; it was in the will and purpose that the), differed, and so it was that also they attracted upon themselves the great grace they did. See, for instance, how many things they order by an economy of their own. "That we give not offence" (2 Cor. vi. 3) to those who wish (to take offence), and, "That our ministry be not blamed." Behold, both an irreproachable life and on the other hand condescension. This is (indeed to be ) called economy, to the (very) summit and height (of it).(3) For he that went beyond the commandments of Christ, was on the other hand more humble than all. "I am made all things to all men," he says, "that I might gain all." (1 Cor. ix. 22.) He cast himself also upon dangers, as he says in another place; "In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes in imprisonments." (2 Cor. vi. 4, 5.) And great was his love for Christ. For if there be not this, all else is superfluous, both the economy (of condescending accommodation), and the irreproachable life, and the exposing himself to dangers. "Who is weak," he says, "and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?" (2 Cor. xi. 29.) These words let us imitate, and let us cast ourselves upon dangers for our brethren's sake. Whether it be fire, or the sword, cast thyself on it, beloved, that thou mayest rescue (him that is) thy member: cast thyself, be not afraid. Thou art a disciple of Christ, Who laid down His life for His brethren: a fellow-disciple with Paul, who chose to suffer numberless ills for his enemies, for men that were and avenged him; he despised royal luxury, and for the sake of those who were afflicted he became a fugitive, a wanderer, lonely and deserted; he passed his days in a foreign land; and yet he blamed not himself, nor said, "What is this? I despised royalty, with all that honor and glory: I chose to avenge those who were wronged, and God hath overlooked me: and not only hath He not brought me back to my former honor, but even forty years am I passing in a foreign land. Truly, handsomely(1) have I received my wages, have I not!" But nothing of the kind did he say or think. So also do thou: be it that (thou have to wait) a long time, be not thou offended, be not discomposed: God will of a surety give thee thy reward. The more the recompense is delayed, the more is the interest of it increased. Let us have a soul apt to sympathize, let us have a heart that knows how to feel with others in their sorrows: no unmerciful temper (@@@wmo'n), no inhumanity. Though thou be able to confer no relief, yet weep thou, groan, grieve over what has happened: even this is not to no purpose. If it behooves us to feel for those who are justly punished by God, much more for those who suffer unjustly at the hands of men. (They of) "Aenan,"(2) it saith, "came not forth to mourn for the house which was near her" (Micah i. II): they shall receive pain, "in return for that they built for derision." And again, Ezekiel makes this an accusation against them, that they did not grieve for (the afflicted). (Ezek. xvi. 2.) What sayest thou, O Prophet? God punisheth, and shall I grieve for those that He is punishing? Yea verily: for God Himself that punisheth wisheth this: since neither does He Himself wish to punish, nay, even Himself grieves when punishing. Then be not thou glad at it. You will say, "If they are justly punished, we ought not to grieve." Why, the thing we ought to grieve for is this--that they were found worthy of punishment. Say, when thou seest thy son undergoing cautery or the knife, dost thou not grieve? and sayest thou not to thyself, "What is this? It is for health this cutting, to quicken his recovery; it is for his deliverance, this burning?" but for all that, when thou hearest him crying out, and not able to health being restored is not enough to carry off the shock to nature. So also in the case of these, though it be in order to their health that they are punished, nevertheless let us show a brotherly feeling, a fatherly disposition. They are cuttings and cauteries, the punishments sent by God: but it is for this we ought to weep, that they were sick, that they needed such a mode of cure. If it be for crowns that any suffer these things, then grieve not; for instance, as Paul, as Peter suffered: but when it is for punishment that one suffers justice, then weep, then groan. Such was the part the prophets acted; thus one of them said, "Ah! Lord, dost thou destroy the residue of Israel?" (Ezek. ix. 8.) We see men-slayers, wicked men, suffering punishment, and we are distressed, and grieve for them. Let us not be philosophical beyond measure: let us show ourselves pitiful, that we may be pitied; there is nothing equal to this beautiful trait: nothing so marks to us the stamp of human nature as the showing pity, as the being kind to our fellow-men. In fact, therefore do the laws consign to public executioners the whole business of punishment: having compelled the judge to punish so far as to pronounce the sentence, thereafter they call forth those to perform the act itself. So true is it, that though it be justly done, it is not the part of a generous (@@@philoso'phou) soul to inflict punishment, but it requires another sort of person for this: since even God punishes not by His own hand, but by means of the angels. Are they then executioners, the angels? God forbid: I say not this, but they are avenging powers. When Sodom was destroyed, the whole was done by them as the instruments: when the judgments in Egypt were inflicted, it was through them. For, "He sent," it says, "evil angels among them." (Psalm lxxvii. 50.) But when there is need of saying, God does this by Himself: thus, He sent the Son:--(b) but,(3) "He that receiveth you, receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me." (Matt. x. 40.) (a) And again He saith, "Then will I say unto the angels, Gather together them that do iniquity, and cast them into the furnace." (Matt. xiii. 3o, 41, 42.) But concerning the just, not so. (c) And again, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness." (Matt. xxii. 13.) Observe how in that case His servants minister: but when the point is to do good, see Himself doing the good, Himself calling: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you." (Matt. xxv. 34.) When the matter is, to converse with Abraham, then Himself comes to him: when it is, to depart to Sodom, He sends His servants, like a judge raising up those who are to punish. "Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matt. xxv. 21); I (will make thee): but that other, not Himself, but His servants bind. Knowing these things, let us not rejoice over those who are suffering punishment, but even grieve: for these let us mourn, for these let us weep, that for this also we may receive a reward. But now, many rejoice even over those who suffer evil unjustly. But not so, we: let us show all sympathy: that we also may have God vouchsafed us, through the grace and mercy of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XLIV: ACTS XX. 17-21.
"And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the Church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord jesus Christ."
SEE him, hasting to sail by, and yet not overlooking them, but taking order for all. Having sent for the rulers, through those he discourses to them (the Ephesians): but it is worthy of admiration, how finding himself under a necessity of saying certain great things about himself, he tries to make the least he can of it (@@@peira^ta @@@metria'zein). "Ye know." For just as Samuel, when about to deliver up the government to Saul says in their presence, "Have I taken aught of your hands? Ye are witnesses, and God also" (1 Sam. xii. 3, 5); (so Paul here). David also, when disbelieved, says, "I was with the flock keeping my father's sheep: and when the bear came, I scared her away with my hands" (1 Sam. xvii. 34, 35): and Paul himself too says to the Corinthians "I am become a fool; ye have compelled me." (2 Cor. xii. 11.) Nay, God Himself also does the same, not speaking of himself upon any and every occasion, but only when He is disbelieved, then He brings up His benefits. Accordingly, see what Paul does here: first he adduces their own testimony: that you may not imagine his words to be mere boasting, he calls the hearers themselves as witnesses of the things he says, since he was not likely to speak lies in their presence. This is the excellence of a teacher, to have for witnesses of his merits those who are his disciples. And what is wonderful, Not for one day nor for two, says he, have I continued doing this. He wishes to cheer them for the future, that they may bravely bear all things, both the parting from him, and the trials about to take place--just as it was in the case of Moses and Joshua. And see how he begins: "How I have been with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility of mind." Observe, what most becomes rulers: "hating pride" (Exod. xviii. 21, LXX.), says (Moses): which (qualification) is especially in point for rulers, because to them there is (almost) a necessity of becoming arrogant. This (humility) is the groundwork of all that is good, as in fact Christ saith,(1) "Blessed are the poor in spirit." (Matt. v. 3.) And (here) not simply, "with humility of mind," but, "with all humility." For there are many kinds of humility, in word and in action, towards rulers, and toward the ruled. Will you that I mention to you some kinds of humility? There are some who are lowly towards those who are lowly, and high towards the high: this is not the character of humility.(2) Some then are such. Then, that he may not seem to be arrogant, he lays a foundation beforehand, removing that suspicion: For, "if, says he, I have acted 'with all humility of mind,' it is not from arrogance that I say the things I say." Then for his gentleness, ever with much condescension making them his fellows. "With you," he says, "have I been, serving the Lord;" he makes the good works common to them with himself: none of it his own peculiar. "What?" (you will say) "why, against God could he possibly bear himself arrogantly?" And yet there are many who do bear themselves arrogantly against God: but this man not even against his own disciples. This is the merit of a teacher, by his own achievements of virtue to form the character of his disciples. Then for his fortitude, upon which also he is very concise. "With many tears," he says, "and temptations which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews." Do you see that he grieves at their doings? But here too he seems to show how sympathizing he was: for he suffered for those who were going to perdition, for the doers themselves: what was done to himself, he even rejoiced at it; for he belonged to that band which "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for that Name (Acts v. 41): and again he says, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you" (Col. i. 24): and again, "For our light affliction, which is but for the moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (2 Cor. iv. 17). These things, however, he says, by way of making the least of his merits (@@@metria'zwn). But there he show his fortitude, not so much of daring, as of enduring: "I," says he, "have been evil entreated, but it was with you: and what is indeed the grievous part of the business, at the hands of Jews." Observe, he puts here both love and fortitude. Mark, here, I pray you, a character of teaching: "I kept back nothing," he says, ungruding fulness, unshrinking promptness--" of what was profitable unto you :" because there were things which they did not need to learn. For as the hiding some things would have been like grudging, so the saying all things would be folly. This is why he adds, "that was profitable unto you. But have showed you, and have taught you :" have not only said, but also taught: not doing this either as a mere matter of form. For that this is what he means, observe what he says: "publicly, and from house to house:" thereby representing the exceeding toil, the great earnestness and endurance. "Both Jews, and Greeks." Not (addressing myself) to you alone. "Testifying:" here, the boldness of speech: and that, even though we do no good, yet we must speak: for(1) this is the meaning of "testifying," when we speak to those who do not pay attention: and so the word @@@diamartu'rasqai is for the most part used. "I call heaven and earth to witness "(Deut. iv. 26), @@@diamartu'romai, Moses, says: and now Paul himself, @@@Diamarturo'menos "both to Jews and Greeks repentance toward God." What testifiest thou? That they should be careful about their manner of life: that they should repent, and draw near to God. "Both to Jews and Greeks"--for neither did the Jews know Him--both(2) by reason of their works, he says, "repentance towards God," and, by reason that they knew not the Son, he adds, "and faith in the Lord Jesus" To what end, then, sayest thou these things? to what end dost thou put them in mind of them? What has come of it? hast thou anything to lay to their charge? Having first alarmed their feeling, then he add, "And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." (v. 22-24). Wherefore says he this? By way of preparing them to be always ready to meet dangers, whether seen or unseen, and in all things to obey the Spirit.(*) He shows that it is for great objects that he is led away from them. "Save that the Holy me, saying "--to show that he departs willingly; that (see Hom. xlv. p. 273) you may not imagine it any bond or necessity, when he says, "bound in the Spirit--that in every city bonds and afflictions await me." Then also he adds this, "I count not my life dear, until I shall have fulfilled my course and the ministry, which I received of the Lord Jesus." Until I shall have finished my course, says he, with joy. Do you mark how (clearly) these were the words not of one lamenting, but of one who forbore to make the most (of his troubles) (@@@metria'zontos) of one who would instruct those (whom he addressed), and sympathize with them in the things which were befalling He says not, "I grieve indeed,(1) but one must needs bear it:" "but," says he, "of none of those things do I make account, neither do I have," i. e. account "my life dear to me." Why this again? not to extol himself, but to teach them, as by the former words, humility, so by these, fortitude and boldness: "I have it not precious," i.e. "I love it not before this: I account it more precious to finish my course, to testify." And he says not, "to preach," "to teach "--but what says he? "to testify (@@@diamartu'rasqai)--the Gospel of the grace of God." He is about to say something more uncomfortable (@@@phortikw'teron), namely, "I am pure from the blood of all men (because on my part) there is nothing lacking:" he is about to lay upon them the whole weight and burden: so he first mollifies their feelings by saying, "And now behold I know that ye shall see my face no more." The consolation(2) is twofold: both that "my face ye shall see no more," for in heart I am with you: and that it was not they alone (who should see him no more): for, "ye shall see my face no more, ye all, among whom I have gone about preaching the Kingdom."(*) So that he may well (say), "Wherefore I take you to record (read @@@dio` @@@mart. for @@@diamart.),--seeing I shall be with you no more--" that I am pure from the blood of all men." (v. 26.) Do you mark how he terrifies them, and troubled and afflicted as their souls are, how hard he rubs them (@@@epitri'bei)? But it was necessary. "For I have not shunned," he says, "to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (v. 27.) Why then, he who does not speak, has blood to answer for: that is, murder! Nothing could be more terrifying than this. He shows that they also, if they do it not, have blood to answer for. So, whereas he seems to be justifying himself, in fact he is terrifying them. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (or, bishops) to feed the Church of God (see note 8), which He hath purchased with His own blood." (v. 28.) Do you mark? he enjoins them two things. Neither success in bringing others right of itself is any gain--for, I fear, he says, "lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away" (1 Cor. ix. 27); nor the being diligent for one's self alone. For such an one is selfish, and seeks his own good only, and is like to him who buried his talent. "Take heed to yourselves:" this he says, not because our own salvation is more precious than that of the flock, but because, when we take heed to ourselves, then the flock also is a gainer. "In which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God." See, it is from the Spirit ye have your ordination. This is one constraint: then he says, "To feed the Church of the Lord."(3) Lo! another obligation: the Church is the Lord's. And a third: "which He hath purchased with His own blood." It shows(4) how precious the concern is; that the peril is about no small matters, seeing that even His own blood He spared not. He indeed, that he might reconcile those who were enemies, poured out even His blood: but thou, even when they are become thy friends, art not able to retain them. "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." (v. 29.) Again he engages (@@@enistre'phei) them from another quarter, from the things which should come after: as when he says, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood. After my departing," he says, "grievous wolves shall enter in among you" (Eph. vi. 12); twofold the evil, both that he himself would not be present, and that others would assail them. "Then why depart, if thou knowest this beforehand?" The Spirit draws me, he says. Both "wolves," and "grievous, not sparing the flock;" and what is worse, even "from among your own selves:" the grievous thing (this), when the war is moreover an intestine War. The matter is exceeding serious, for it is "the Church of the Lord :" great the peril for with blood He redeemed it: mighty the war, and twofold. "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (v. 30.) "How then? what comfort shall there be?" "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." (v. 31.) See how many strong expressions are here: "with tears," and "night and day," and "every one." For it was not that if he saw many,(1) then he came in (to the work), but even were it for a single soul, he was capable of doing everything (for that one soul). So it was, in fact, that he compacted them together (@@@sunekro'thsen) (so firmly as he did). "Enough done on my part: three years have I remained:" they had establishing enough, he says; enough of roofing. "With tears," he says. Seest thou that the tears were on this account? The bad man grieves not: grieve thou: perhaps he will grieve also. As, when the sick man sees his physician partaking of food, he also is incited to do the same: so likewise here, when he sees thee weeping, he is softened: he will be a good and great man.(2)
(Recapitulation.) "Not knowing," he says, "the things that shall befall me." (v. 22, 23.) Then is this why thou departest? By no means; on the contrary (I know that), "bonds and afflictions await me." That (there are)trials, I know, but of what kind I know not: which was more grievous. "But none of these things move me" (v. 24): for do not suppose that I say these things as lamenting them: for "I hold not my own life dear. It is to raise up their minds that he says all" this, and to persuade them not only not to flee, but also to bear nobly. Therefore it is that he calls it a "course" and a "ministry," on the one hand, showing it to be glorious from its being a race, on the other, showing what was due from it, as being a ministry. I am a minister: nothing more. Having comforted them, that they might not grieve that he was so evil entreated, and having told them that he endured those things "with joy," and having shown the fruits of them would give them pain, that he may not overwhelm their minds. "And(3) now behold," etc. "Wherefore I take you to record, that I am pure from the blood of all men, because I have not shrunk from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God" (v. 25-27): * * * that (counsel) which concerns the present matter. "For I know this," etc. (v. 29.) "What then," someone might say, "thinkest thou thyself so great? if thou shouldest depart, are we to die?" I say not this, he replies, that my absence causeth this: but what? That there should rise up against you certain of another sort: he says not, "because of my departing," but "after my departing:" that is, after his going on his journey.--And yet this thing has happened already: much more (then will it happen) hereafter. Then we have the cause, "to draw away disciples after them." (v. 30). That there are heresies, this is the cause, and no other than this. Then comes also consolation. But if He "purchased" it" with His own blood," He will assuredly stand forward in its defence. "Night and day," he says, "I cease not to warn with tears." (v. 31.) This might well be said in our case also: and though the speech seems to refer peculiarly to the teachers, it is common also to the disciples. For what, though I speak and exhort and weep night and day, while the disciple obeys not? Therefore(4) it is that he says, "I take you to record:" since also himself says, "I am pure from the blood of all men: for I have not shunned to declare unto you." (v. 26, 27.) Why then, this only is to be a teacher, to declare, to preach, to instruct, shrink from nothing, to exhort night and day: but if, while one is doing all this, nothing comes of it, ye know what remains. Then ye have another justification: "I am pure from the blood of all men." Think not that these words are spoken to us only: for indeed this speech is addressed to you also, that ye should attend to the things spoken, that ye should not start away from the hearing. What can I do? Lo! each day I rend myself with crying out, "Depart from the theatres:" and many laugh at us: "Desist from swearing, from covetousness:" numberless are our exhortations, and there is none to hear us. But I do not discourse during night? Fain would I do this also in the night time, and at your tables, if it were possible that one could be divided into ten thousand pieces, so as to be present with you and discourse. But if once in the week we call to you, and ye shrink back, and some of you do not even come here, and you that do come, depart having received no profit,--what shall we do? Many I know even sneer at us, that we are forever discoursing about the same things: so wearisome are we become to you by very satiety. But for this not we are to blame, but the hearers may thank themselves. For he indeed who is making good progress, rejoices to hear the same things always; it seems to be his praises that he hears spoken: but he who does not wish to get on, seems even to be annoyed, and though he hear the same thing but twice, it seems to him that he is hearing it often.
"I am pure," he says, "from the blood of all men." (v. 26.) This was fit and proper for Paul to say, but we dare not say it, conscious as we are of numberless faults. Wherefore for him the ever vigilant, ever at hand, the man enduring all things for the sake of the salvation of his disciples, it was fit and proper to say this: but we must say that of Moses, "The Lord was wroth with me for your sakes" (Deut. iii. 26), because ye lead us also into many sins. For when we are dispirited at seeing you make no progress, is not the greater part of our strength struck down? For what, I ask you has been done? Lo! by the grace of God we also have now passed the space of three years,(1) not indeed night and day exhorting you, but doing this, often every third day, or every seventh. What more has come of it? We accuse, we rebuke, we weep, we are in anguish, although not openly, yet in heart. But those (inward) tears are far more bitter than these (outward ones): for these indeed bring a kind of relief to the feelings of the sorrowful, whereas those aggravate it, and bind it fast. Since when there is any cause of grief, and one cannot give vent to the sorrow, lest he should seem to be vainglorious, think what he suffers! Were it not that people would tax me with excessive love of display, you would see me each day shedding fountains of tears: but to those my chamber is witness, and my hours of solitude. For believe me I have (at times) despaired of my own salvation, but from my mourning on your account, I have not even leisure to bemoan my own evils: so entirely are ye all in all to me. And whether I perceive you to be advancing, then, for very delight, I am not sensible of my own evils: or whether I see you not advancing, such is my grief, I again dismiss my own cares from my thoughts: brightening up on account of your good things, though I myself have evils without number, and saddened on account of your painful things, though my own successes are without number. For what hope is there for the teacher, when his flock is destroyed? What kind of life, what kind of expectation is there for him? With what sort of confidence will he stand up before God? what will he say? For grant that he has nothing laid to his charge, has no punishment to suffer, but is "pure from the blood of all men :" yet even so will he suffer a grief incurable: since fathers also though they be not liable to be called to account for their children's sins, nevertheless have grief and vexation. And this profits them nothing,(2) nor shields them (@@@proi'statai) For it is they that watch for our souls, as those that must give account." (Heb. xiii. 17.) This seems to be a fearful thing: to me this gives no concern after your destruction. For whether I give account, or not, it is no profit to me. Might it be, that ye were saved, and I to give account because of you: ye saved, and I charged with not having fulfiled my part! For my anxiety is not that you should be saved through me as the means, but only that you should be saved, no matter by what person as the instrument. Ye know not the pangs of spiritual childbirth, how overpowering they are; how he who is in travail with this birth, would rather be cut into ten thousand pieces, than see one of those to whom he has given birth perishing and undone. Whence shall we persuade you? By no other argument indeed, but by what has been done, in all that regards you we shall clear ourselves.(1) We too shall be able to say, that in nothing have we "shrunk from declaring" to you the whole truth: nevertheless we grieve: and that we do grieve, is manifest from the numberless plans we lay and contrivances we devise. And yet we might say to ourselves, What matters it to me? I have done my part, "I am pure from" (their) "blood:" but this is not enough for comfort. If we could tear open our heart, and show it to you, ye would see with what largeness it holds (you) within it, both women and children and men; for such is the power of love, that it makes the soul more spacious than the heaven. "Receive us," says (Paul): "we have wronged no man, ye are not straitened in us." (2 Cor. vii. 2; vi. 12.) He had all Corinth in his heart, and says, "Ye are not straitened: be ye also enlarged (2 Cor. vi. 13); but I myself could not say this, for I well know, that ye both love me and receive me. But what is the profit either from my love or from yours, when the things pertaining to God thrive not in us? It is a ground for greater sorrow, an occasion of worse mischief (@@@lu'mhs, al. @@@lu'phs). I have nothing to lay to your charge: "for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." (Gal. iv. 15.) "We yearn not only to [give you the Gospel, but also our own souls." (1 Thess. ii. 8.) We are loved and we love (you): but this is not the question. But let us love Christ, "for the first commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God: and the second is like unto it, And thy neighbor as thyself." (Matt. xxii. 37-39.) We have the second, we need the first: need the first, exceedingly, both I and you. We have it, but not as we ought. Let us love Him: ye know how great a reward is laid up for them that love Christ: let us love Him with fervor of soul, that, enjoying his goodwill, we may escape the stormy waves of this present life, and be found worthy to obtain the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and mercy 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 XLV: ACTS XX. 32.
"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified."
WHAT he does when writing in an Epistle, this he does also when speaking in council from exhorting, he ends with prayer: for since he had much alarmed them by saying, "Grievous wolves shall enter in among you" (v. 29), therefore, not to overpower them, and make them lose all self- possession, observe the consolation (he gives). "And now," he says, as always, "I commend you, brethren, to God, and to the word of His grace: that is, to His grace: it is grace that saveth. He constantly puts them in mind of grace, to make them more earnest as being debtors, and to persuade them to have confidence. "Which is able to build you up."(*) He does not say, to build, but, "to build up," showing that they had (already) been built. Then he puts them in mind of the hope to come; "to give you an inheritance," he says, "among all them which are sanctified." Then exhortation again: "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." (v. 33.) He takes away that which is the root of evils, the love of money. "Silver, or gold," he says. He says not, I have not taken, but, not even "coveted." No great thing this, but what follows after is great. "Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring, ye ought to support the weak." (v. 34, 35.) Observe him employed in work and not simply that, but toiling. "These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me:" so as to put them to shame. And see how worthily of them. For he says not, Ye ought to show yourselves superior to money, but what? "to support the weak "--not all indiscriminately--" and to hear the word of the Lord which He spake, It is more blessed to give than to receive."(*) For lest any one should think that it was spoken with reference to them, and that he gave himself for an ensample, as he elsewhere says, "giving an ensample to you" (Phil. iii. 17), he added the declaration of Christ, Who said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." He prayed over them while exhorting them: he shows it both by action,--"And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all," (v. 36)--he did not simply pray, but with much feeling: (@@@katanu'xews): great was the consolation--and by his saying," I commend you to the Lord. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more." (v. 37, 38.) He had said, that "grievous wolves should enter in;" had said, "I am pure from the blood of all men:" and yet the thing that grieved them most of all was this, "that they should see him no more:" since indeed it was this that made the war grievous. "And they accompanied them," it says, "unto the ship. And it came to pass, that after we had torn ourselves from them"--so much did they love him, such was their affection towards him-"and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: and finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre" (Acts xxi. 1-3): he came to Lycia, add having left Cyprus, he sailed down to Tyre--" for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem." (v. 4.) They too prophesy of the afflictions. It is so ordered that they should be spoken by them also, that none might imagine that Paul said those things without cause, and only by way of boasting. And there again they part from each other with prayer. "And when we had accomplished those days, we departed, and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him." (v. 5-8.) Having come to Cęsarea, it says, we abode with Philip, which was one of the seven. "And the same man had four-daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." (v. 9.) But it is not these that foretell to Paul, though they were prophetesses; it is Agabus. "And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." (v. 10, 11.) He who formerly had declared about the famine, the same says, This "man, who owneth this girdle, thus shall they bind." (ch. xi. 28.) The same that the prophets used to do, representing events to the sight, when they spoke about the captivity--as did Ezekiel-- the same did this (Agabus). "And," what is the grievous part of the business, "deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem." (v. 12.) Many even besought him not to depart, and still he would not comply. "Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?"(1) (v. 13.) Do you mark? Lest, having heard that saying, "I go bound in the Spirit" (ch. xx. 22), you should imagine it a matter of necessity, or that he fell into it ignorantly, therefore these things are foretold. But they wept, and he comforted them, grieving at their tears. For, "what mean ye," he says, "to weep and to break my heart?" Nothing could be more affectionate: because he saw them weeping, he grieved, he that felt no pain at his own trials. "For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done."v. 13, 14.) Ye do me wrong in doing this: for do I grieve? Then they ceased, when he said, "to break my heart." I weep, he says, for you, not on account of my own sufferings: as for those men), I am willing even to die for them. But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "Silver, or gold, or apparel," etc. (ch. xx. 33, 34; 1 Cor. ix.; 2 Cor. xi.) So then, it was not in Corinth only that they did this(1)--they that corrupted the disciples, but in Asia as well. But he nowhere casts this up as a reproach to the Ephesians, when writing to them. And why? Because he did not fall upon any subject that obliged him to speak of this. But to the Corinthians he says, "My boasting has not been stopped in the regions of Achaia." (2 Cor. xi. 10.) And he does not say, Ye did not give to me; but, "Silver, or gold, or apparel, I coveted not," that it might not seem to be their doing, that they had not given. And he does not say, From no man have I coveted the necessaries of life, that again it might not look like accusing them: but he covertly hints as much, seeing that he provided subsistence for others as well as himself. See how he worked with earnestness, "night and day" (discoursing to others), "with tears warning each one of them." (v. 31.) (Here) again he puts them in fear: "I have showed you all things," he says: ye cannot take refuge in the plea of ignorance: "have shown you" by works "how that so laboring ye ought to work." And he does not say, that to receive is bad, but that not to receive is better. For, "remember," he says, "the words of the Lord which he spake: It is more blessed to give than to receive." (v. 35.) And where said He this? Perhaps the Apostles delivered it by unwritten tradition; or else it is plain from recorded sayings, from) which one could infer it.(2) For in fact here he has shown both boldness in meeting dangers, sympathy with those over whom he ruled, teaching with (unshrinking) boldness, humility, (voluntary) poverty: but, what we have here is even more than that poverty. For if He says there (in the Gospel), "If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast and give to the poor" (Matt. xix. 21), when, besides receiving nothing himself, he provides sustenance for others also, what could equal this? It is one degree to fling away one's possessions; a second, to be sufficient for the supply of one's own necessities: a third, to provide for others also; a fourth, for one (to do all this) who preaches and has a right to receive. So that here is a man far better than those who merely forego possessions. "Thus it is right to support the weak:" this is (indeed) sympathy with the weak; for to give from the labors of others, is easy. "And they fell on his neck," it says, "and wept." (v. 37.) He shows their affection also by saying, "Upon his neck," as taking a last and yet a last embrace, such was the love they conceived from his discourse, such the spell of love that bound them. For if we groan when simply parting from each other, although we know that we shall receive one another back again, what a tearing away of themselves it must have been to them! Methinks Paul also wept. "Having torn ourselves away," he says: he shows the violence of it by saying, "having torn ourselves away from them." And with reason: otherwise they could never have got to sea. What means, "We came with a straight course unto Coos?" Instead of saying, "we did not go round nor make stay in other places." Then "unto Rhodes." (ch. xxi. 1.) See how he hastes on. "And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia. (v. 2.) Possibly that ship (in which they had come) was making a stay there: wherefore they shifted to another, and not having found one going to Cęsarea, but (finding this) for Phenice, they embarked in it (and pursued their voyage), having left Cyprus also and Syria: but the expression, "having left it on the left hand," is not said simply in that meaning), but that they made speed not to get to Syria either.(3) "We landed at Tyre." (v. 3.) Then they tarry with the brethren seven days. Now that they were come near to Jerusalem, they no longer run. (b) "Who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem." (v. 4.) Observe how, when the Spirit does not forbid, he complies. They said, "Adventure not thyself into the theatre, and he did not adventure" (ch. xix. 31): often they bore him off (from dangers), and he complied: again he escaped by a window: and now, though numberless persons, so to say, beseech him, both those at Tyre and those at Cęsarea, weeping also and predicting numberless dangers, he refuses to comply. And yet it is not merely), they predicted the dangers, but "said by the Spirit." If then the Spirit bade, why did he gainsay? "By the Spirit," that is, they knowing "by the Spirit" what would be the consequences, said to him): for of course it does not mean that the exhortation they made was by the Spirit. For they did not simply foretell to him the dangers through the Spirit), but added of themselves) that it behooved him not to go up-- sparing him. But "after we had accomplished the days," i.e. had fulfilled the appointed days, "we separated, and went on our way: they all bringing us on our way with wives and children." (v. 5.)--See how great was the entreaty. And again they part with prayer. Also in Ptolemais they stay one day, but in Cęsarea many. (v. 6-8.) (a) Now that they are near to Jerusalem, they no longer hurry. For observe, I pray you, all the days. "After the day of unleavened bread" they came "to Troas in five days" (ch. xx. 6); then they there spent "seven;" in all, twelve: then to "Thasos," to "Mytilene," to "Trogylium" and "over against Chios," and to "Samos" and "Miletus" (ib. 13-17); eighteen in all. Then to "Cos," to "Rhodes," to "Patara," twenty-one: then say(1) five to "Tyre;" twenty-six: there "seven;" thirty-three; "Ptolemais," thirty-four; then to "Cęsarea, many days" (ch. xxi. 1-10); and then, thereafter, the prophet puts them up thence.c) When Paul has heard that he has to suffer numberless perils, then he is in haste, not flinging himself upon the dangers but accounting it to be the command of the Spirit.(e) And Agabus does not say, "They shall bind" Paul, that he may not seem to speak upon agreement with Paul), but "the man that owneth this girdle" (v. 11)--so then he had a girdle also.(2) But when they could not persuade him--this was why they wept--then they "held their peace." Do you mark the resignation? do you mark the affection? "They held their peace," it says, "saying, The will of the Lord be done." (v. 12-14.) (g) The Lord, say they, Himself will do that which is pleasing in his sight. For they perceived that it was the will of God. Else Paul would not be so bent (upon going)--he that on all other occasions delivers himself out of dangers. (d) "And after these, days," it says, "having taken up our baggage"--i. e. having received the supplies) necessary for the journey-- "we went up to Jerusalem." (v. 15.) "And there went with us also certain of the disciples from Cęsarea, bringing us to one with whom we should lodge, one Mnason, an ancient disciple of Cyprus."(*) (v. 16.) "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly." (v. 17.) (f) "Bringing us," it says, "(to him) with whom we should lodge"--not to the church: for on the former occasion (ch. xv. 4), when they went up concerning the decrees, they lodged with the Church, but now with a certain "ancient disciple." (The expression) shows that the preaching had been going on a long time: whence it seems to me that this writer in the Acts epitomizes the events of many years, relating (only) the matters of chief importance. (h) So unwilling were they to burthen the Church, when there was another to lodge them; and so little did they stand upon their dignity. "The brethren," it says, "received us gladly." Affairs among the Jews were now full of peace: there was not much war fare (among them). "Bringing us," it says, "to one with whom we should lodge." Paul was the guest he entertained. Perchance some one of you says: Aye, if it were given me to entertain Paul as a guest, I readily and with much eagerness would do this. Lo! it is in thy power to entertain Paul's Master for thy guest, and thou wilt not: for "he that receiveth one of these least," he saith, "receiveth Me." (Matt. xviii. 5; Luke ix. 48.) By how much the brother may be least, so much the more does Christ come to thee through him. For he that receives the great, often does it from vainglory also; but he that receives the small, does it purely for Christ's sake. It is in thy power to entertain even the Father of Christ as thy guest, and thou will not: for,8) "I was a stranger," He says, "and ye took me in" (Matt. xxv. 35): and again, "Unto one of the least of these the brethren that believe on Me, ye have done it unto Me." (ib. 40.) Though it be not Paul, yet if it be a believer and a brother, although the least, Christ cometh to thee through him. Open thine house, take Him in. "He that receiveth a prophet," He saith, "shall receive a prophet's reward." (Matt. x. 41.) Therefore too he that receives Christ, shall receive the reward of him who has Christ for his guest.(1) Do not thou disbelieve His words, but be believing. Himself hath said, Through them I come to thee: and that thou mayest not disbelieve, He lays down both punishments for those who do not receive, and honors for those who do receive; since He would not have done this, unless both the person honored and the person insulted were Himself. "Thou receivedst Me," He saith, "into thy lodging, I will receive thee into the Kingdom of My Father; thou tookest away My hunger, I take away thy sins; thou sawest Me bound, I see thee loosed; thou sawest Me a stranger, I make thee a citizen of heaven; thou gavest Me bread, I give thee an entire Kingdom, that thou mayest inherit and possess it." He saith not, "Receive," but, "Inherit," the word which is spoken of those who have possession by right of ownership; as when we say, "This have I inherited." Thou didst it to Me in secret, I will proclaim it openly: and of thine acts indeed I say, that they were of free gift, but Mine are of debt. "For since thou," He saith, "didst begin, I follow and come after: I am not ashamed to confess the benefits conferred on Me, nor from what things thou didst free Me, hunger and nakedness and wandering. Thou sawest Me bound, thou shalt not behold the fire of hell; thou sawest Me sick, thou shalt not behold the torments nor the punishments." O hands, truly blessed, which minister in such services as these, which are accounted worthy to serve Christ! Feet which go into prisons for Christ's sake, with ease defy the fire: no trial of bonds have they, (the hands)(2) which saw Him bound! Thou clothedst Him with a garment, and thou puttest on a garment of salvation: thou wast in prison with Him, and with Him thou findest thyself in the Kingdom, not ashamed, knowing that thou visitedst Him. The Patriarch knew not that he was entertaining Angels, and he did entertain them. (Gen. xviii. 3.) Let us take shame to ourselves, I beseech you: he was sitting in mid-day, being in a foreign land, where he had none inheritance, "not so much as to set his foot on" (ch. vii. 5):he was a stranger, and the stranger entertained strangers: for he was a citizen of heaven. Therefore, not even while he was on earth was he a stranger (to Him). We are rather strangers than that stranger, if we receive not strangers. He had no home, and his tent was his place of reception. And mark his liberality--he killed a calf, and kneaded fine meal: mark his ready mind--by himself and his wife: mark the unassuming manner--he worships and beseeches them. For all these qualities ought to be in that man who entertains strangers--readiness, cheerfulness, liberality. For the soul of the stranger is abashed, and feels ashamed; and unless (his host) show excessive joy, he is as (if) slighted, and goes away, and it becomes worse than not to have received him, his being received in this way. Therefore he worships them, therefore he welcomes them with speech, therefore with a seat. For who would have hesitated, knowing that this work was done unto Him? "But we are not in a foreign land." If we will, we shall be able to imitate him. How many of the brethren are strangers? There is a common apartment, the Church, which we call the "Xenon." Be inquisitive (@@@perierga'zesthe), sit before the doors, receive those who come yourselves; though you may not wish to take them into your houses, at any rate in some other way (receive them), by supplying them with necessaries. "Why, has not the Church means" you will say? She has: but what is that to you? that they should be fed from the common funds of the Church, can that benefit you? If another man prays, does it follow that you are not bound to pray? Wherefore do you not say, "Do not the priests pray? then why should I pray? "But I," you will say, "give to him who cannot be received there." Give, though it be to that one: for what we are anxious for is this, that you should give at any rate. Hear what Paul says: "That it may relieve them that are widows indeed; and that the Church be not burdened." (1 Tim. v. 16.) Be it how you will, only do it. But I put it, not, "that the Church be not burdened," but, "that thou be not burdened;" for at this rate thou wilt do nothing, leaving all to the Church. This is why there is a common room set apart by the Church, that you may not say these things. "The Church," say you, "has lands,(3) has money, and revenues." And has she not charges? I ask; and has she not a daily expenditure? "No doubt," you will say. Why then do you not lend aid to her moderate means? I am ashamed indeed to say these things: however, I compel no man, if any one imagines what I am saying to be for gain. Make for yourself a guest-chamber in your own house: set up a bed there, set up a table there and a candlestick. (comp. 2 Kings iv. 10.) For is it not absurd, that whereas, if soldiers should come, you have rooms set apart for them, and show much care for them, and furnish them with everything, because they keep off from you the visible war of this world, yet strangers have no place where they might abide? Gain a victory over the Church. Would you put us to shame? This do: surpass us in liberality: have a room, to which Christ may come; say, "This is Christ's cell; this building is set apart for Him." Be it but an underground chamber, and mean, He disdains it not. "Naked and a stranger," Christ goes about, it is but a shelter He wants: afford it, though but this. Be not uncompassionate, nor inhuman; be not so earnest in worldly matters, so cold in spiritual. Let also the most faithful of thy servants be the one entrusted with this office, and let him bring in the maimed, the beggars, and the homeless. These things I say to shame you. For ye ought indeed to receive them in the upper part of your house; but if ye will not do this, then though it be below, though but where thy mules are housed, and thy servants, there receive Christ. Perchance ye shudder at hearing this. What then, when ye do not even this? Behold, I exhort, behold, I bid you; let this be a matter to be taken up in earnest. But ye do not wish it thus, perhaps? Do it some other way. There are many poor men and poor women: set apart some one (of these) constantly to remain there: let the poor man be (thine inmate) though but as a guard to thy house: let him be to thee wall and fence, shield and spear. Where alms are, the devil dares not approach, nor any other evil thing. Let us not overlook so great a gain. But now a place is set apart for a chariot, and for litters (@@@basterni'ois) another; but for Christ Who is wandering, not even one! Abraham received the strangers in the place where he abode himself; his wife stood in the place of a servant, the guests in the place of masters. He knew not that he was receiving Christ; knew not that he was receiving Angels; so that had he known it, he would have lavished his whole substance. But we, who know that we receive Christ, show not even so much zeal as he did who thought that he was receiving men. "But they are impostors," you will say, "many of them, and unthankful." And for this the greater thy reward. when thou receivest for the sake of Christ's name. For if thou knowest indeed that they are impostors, receive them not into thy house: but if thou dost not know this, why dost thou accuse them lightly? "Therefore I tell them to go to the receiving house." But what kind of excuse is there for us, when we do not even receive those whom we know, but shut our doors against all? Let our house be Christ's general receptacle: let us demand of them as a reward, not money, but that they make our house the receptacle for Christ; let us run about everywhere, let us drag them in, let us seize our booty: greater are the benefits we receive than what we confer. He does not bid thee kill a calf: give thou bread to the hungry, raiment to the naked, shelter to the stranger. But that thou mayest not make this thy pretext, there is a common apartment, that of the Church; throw thy money into that, and then thou hast received them: since (Abraham) there had the reward of those things also which were done by his servants. "He gave the calf to a young man, and he hasted to dress it." (Gen. xviii. 7.) So well trained were his servants also! They ran, and murmured not as ours do: for he had made them pious. He drew them out to war, and they murmured not: so well disciplined were they. (Gen. xiv. 14.) For he had equal care for all as for himself: he all but said as Job did, "We were alike formed in the same womb." (Job xxxiii. 6.) Therefore let us also take thought for their salvation, and let us make it our duty to care for our servants, that they may be good; and let our servants also be instructed in the things pertaining to God. Then will virtue not be difficult to us, if we train them orderly. Just as in war, when the soldiers are well-disciplined, the general carries on war easily, but the contrary happens, when this is not so; and when the sailors too are of one mind, the pilot easily handles the rudder-strings; so here likewise. For say now, if thy servants have been so schooled, thou wilt not be easily exasperated, thou wilt not have to find fault, wilt not be made angry, wilt not need to abuse them. It may be, thou wilt even stand in awe of thy servants, if the), are worthy of admiration, and they will be helpers with thee, and will give thee good counsel. But from all these shall all things proceed that are pleasing to God, and thus shall the whole house be filled with blessing, and we, performing things pleasing to God, shall enjoy abundant succor from above, unto which may we all attain, 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 XLVI: ACTS XXI. 18, 19.
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James: and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry." THIS was the Bishop of Jerusalem; and to him (Paul) is sent on an earlier occasion. This (James) was brother of the Lord; a great and admirable man. (To him, it says,) "Paul entered in with us." Mark the (Bishop's) unassuming behavior: "and the elders" (were present). Again Paul relates to them the things relating to the Gentiles, not indulging in vainglory, God forbid, but wishing to show forth the mercy of God, and to fill them with great joy. (ch. xv.) See accordingly: "when they heard it," it says, "they glorified God,"--not praised nor admired Paul: for in such wise had he narrated, as referring all to Him-- "and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believed." Observe with what modest deference they too speak: "they said to him:" not (James) as Bishop discourses authoritatively, but they take Paul as partner with them in their view; "Thou seest, brother:" as though immediately and at the outset apologizing for themselves, and saying, "We did not wish this. Seest thou! the necessity of the thing? 'how many thousands,' say they, 'of Jews there are which' have come together." And they say not, "how many thousands we have made catechumens," but, "there are. And these," say they, "are all zealous for the law." (v. 20.) Two reasons--the number of them, and their views. For neither had they been few, would it have been right to despise them: nor, if they were many and did not all cling to the law, would there have been need to make much account of them. Then also a third cause is given: "And they all," it says, "have been informed of thee "--they say not, "have heard," but @@@kathchh'thhsan, that is, so they have believed, and have been taught, "that thou teachest apostasy from Moses to all the Jews which are among the Gentiles, by telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs." (v. 21.) "What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee" (v. 22, 23): they say these things as advising, not as commanding. "We have four men which have a vow on them ;them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them." Make thy defence in act, not in word--" that they may shave themselves," it says, "and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law" (v. 23, 24): they say not, "teachest," but, of superabundance, "that thou thyself also keepest the law." For of course not this was the matter of chief interest, whether he did not teach others, but, that he did himself observe the law. "What then" (he might say), "if the Gentiles should learn it? I shall injure them." How so? say they, seeing that even we, the teachers of the Jews, have sent unto them. "As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have, written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication." (v. 25.) Here with a kind of remonstrance (@@@entreptikw^s), As "we," say they, commanded them, although we are preachers to the Jews, so do thou, although a preacher to the Gentiles, cooperate with us. Observe Paul: he does not say, "Well, but I can bring forward Timothy, whom I circumcised: well, but I can satisfy them by what I have to say (of myself) :" but he complied, and did all: for in fact thus was it expedient (to do).[*] For it was one thing to take (effectual) measures for clearing himself, and another to have done these things without the knowledge of any (of the parties). It was a step open to no suspicion, the fact of his even bearing the expenses. "Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, signifying the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them." (v. 26.) "Signifying," @@@diagge'llwn, i.e. @@@kata'ggellwn, publicly notifying: so that it was he who made himself conspicuous. "And when the seven days were about to be completed, the Jews from Asia"--for (his arrival) most keeps times with theirs--"when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place." (v. 27, 28.) Mark their habitual conduct, how turbulent we everywhere find it, how men who with or without reason make a clamor in the midst. "For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple and forthwith the doors were shut," (v. 29, 30.) "Men of Israel," it says, "help: this is the man that (teaches) against the people, and the law, and this place."--the things which most trouble them, the Temple and the Law. And Paul does not tax the Apostles with being the cause of these things to him. "And they drew him," it says, "out of the Temple: and the doors were shut." For they wished to kill him; and therefore were dragging him out, to do this with greater security. "And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the tribune of the cohort, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the tribune came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude." (v. 31-34.) But the tribune having come down delivered him, and "commanded him to be bound with two chains :" (hereby) appeasing the anger of the people. "And when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the Soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him!" (v. 34-36.) What means, "Away with him?" that is, what they say with us according to the Roman custom, To the standards with him! "And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the tribune, May I speak unto thee?" (v. 37.) In the act of being borne along up the stairs, he requests to say something to the tribune: and observe how quietly he does it. "May I speak unto thee?" he says. "Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Art thou not then that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?" (v. 38.) For (this Egyptian) was a revolutionary and seditious person. With regard to this then Paul clears himself, and * *
(Recapitulation.) "Do therefore this that we say unto thee," etc. (v. 23, 24.) He shows that it was not necessary to do this upon principle (@@@prohgoume'nws)--whence also they obtain his compliance--but that it was economy and condescension.[*] "As touching the Gentiles," etc. (v. 25.) Why, then, this was no hindrance to the preaching, seeing they themselves legislated for them to this effect. Why, then, in his taking Peter to task he does not absolutely (@@@haplw^s) charge him with doing wrong: for precisely what he does on this occasion himself, the same does Peter on that occasion, (merely) holding his peace, and establishing his doctrine. (Gal. ii. 11.) And he says not, For why? it is not right to teach those among the Gentiles. "It is not enough to have not (so) preached there, but there was need also to do something more, that those may be persuaded that thou observest the law. The affair is one of condescension, be not alarmed." They do not advise him (to this course) sooner, until they have first spoken of the economy and the gain. "And besides, the doing this in Jerusalem, is a thing to be borne. 'Do thou this thing therefore' here, that it may be in thy power abroad to do the other." (b) "The next day," it says, "he took them" (v. 26): he deferred it not; for when there is economy in the case, this is the way of it. (a) "Jews from Asia having seen him," for it was natural that they were spending some days there, "in the Temple." (v. 27.) (c) Mark the economy (of Providence) that appeared (in this). (p. 279 note) After the (believing) Jews had been persuaded (concerning him), then it is that those (Jews of Asia) set upon him in order that those (believing Jews) may not also set upon him. Help, say they, "ye men of Israel!" as though it were some (monster) difficult to be caught, and hard to be overcome, that has fallen into their hands. "All men," they say, "everywhere, he teaseth not to teach;" not here only. And then the accusation (is) more aggravated by the present circumstances. "And yet more," say they, "he has polluted the temple, having brought into it men who are Greeks." (v. 28.) And yet in Christ's time there "came up (Greeks) to worship" (John xii. 20): true, but here it speaks of Greeks who had no mind to worship. "And they seized Paul," etc. (v. 30-35.) They no longer wanted laws nor courts of justice: they also beat him. But he forbore to make his defence then; he made it afterward: with reason; for they would not even have heard him then. Pray, why did they cry, "Away with him?" (v. 36.) They feared he might escape them. Observe how submissively Paul speaks to the tribune. "May I speak unto thee? Then art not thou that Egyptian?" (v. 37, 38.) This Egyptian, namely, was a cheat and impostor, and the devil expected to cast a cloud over (the Gospel) through him, and implicate both Christ and His Apostles in the charges pertaining to those (imposters): but he prevailed nothing, nay the truth became even more brilliant, being nothing defeated by the machinations of the devil, nay rather shining forth all the more. Since if there had not been impostors, and then these (Christ and His Apostles) had prevailed, perhaps some one might have laid hold upon this: but when those impostors did actually appear, this is the wonder. "In order," says (the Apostle), "that they which are approved may be made manifest." (1 Cor. xi. 19.) And Gamaliel says, "Before these days stood up Theudas." Then let us not grieve that heresies exist, seeing that false Christs wished to attack even Christ both before this and after; with a view to throw Him into the shade, but on every occasion we find the truth shining out transparent. So it was with the Prophets: there were false prophets, and by contrast with these they shone the more: just as disease enhances health, and darkness light, and tempest calm. There is no room left for the Greeks to say that (our teachers) were impostors and mountebanks: for those (that were such) were exposed. It was the same in the case of Moses: God suffered the magicians, on purpose that Moses might not be suspected to be a magician: He let them teach all men to what length magic can go in making a fantastic show: beyond this point they deceived not, but themselves confessed their defeat. Impostors do us no harm, rather do us good, if we will apply our mind to the matter. What then, you will say, if we are partners with them in common estimation? The estimation is not among us, but with those who have no judgment. Let not us greatly care for the estimation of the many, nor mind it more than needs. To God we live, not to men: in heaven we have our conversation, not on earth: there lie the awards and the prizes of our labors, thence we look for our praises, thence for our crowns. Thus far let us trouble ourselves about men--that we do not give and afford them a handle against us. But if, though we afford none, those choose to accuse us thoughtlessly and without discrimination, let us laugh, not weep. "Provide" thou "things honest before the Lord and before men" (2. Cor. viii. 21): if, though thou provide things honest, that man derides, give thyself no more concern (for that). Thou hast thy patterns in the Scriptures. For, saith he, "do I now persuade men or God?" (Gal. i. 10) and again, "We persuade men, but we are made manifest unto God." (2 Cor. v. 11.) And Christ (spoke) thus of them that take offence: "Let them alone, they be blind guides of the blind (Matt. xv. 14); and again, "Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you" (Luke vi. 26): and again, "Let your works shine, that men may see, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. v. 16.) And, "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matt. xviii. 6.) These sayings are not contrary, nay, they are exceedingly in accord. For when the offence is with us, then woe unto us, but when not with us, not so. And again, Woe to (that man) through whom "the name of God is blasphemed." (Rom. ii. 24.) How then if I do what is right in anything, but another blasphemes? That is nothing to me, but only to him: for through him (God) was blasphemed. "And how is it possible to do what is right in anything, and ,yet give a handle to the rest?" Whence will ye that. I bring examples--from present, or from old times? Not to be easily scared (@@@psophodeei^s), shall we speak to the very point now in hand? Paul judaized in Jerusalem, but in Antioch not so: he judaized, and they were offended (p. 282, note), but those had no right to be offended. He is said to have saluted both Nero's cupbearer and his concubine : what, think ye, must they have said against him because of this? But they had no right to do so. Since, if he drew them to him for loose living or any wicked acts, one might well be offended: but if in order to right living, what is there to be offended at? Let me mention something that happened to one of my acquaintance. The wrath of God once fell upon (a city), and he being very young (was) in the order of deacon. The bishop was absent at the time, and of the presbyters none took thought for the matter, but indiscriminately they caused in one night immense numbers of people to be baptized all at once, and they did indiscriminately receive baptism, all of them ignorant of everything: these he took apart by a hundred or two hundred together, and discoursed to them, not upon any other subject, but only on the sacraments, so that the unbaptized also were not allowed to be present. Many thought he did this because he coveted rule. But he cared not for that: neither however did he continue the thing for a (longer) time, but immediately desisted. When then? Was he the cause of the scandal? I think not. For if indeed he had done this without cause, they might with reason have ascribed it to him: and so again, if he had continued to do so. For when aught of what is pleasing to God is hindered by another's taking offence, it is right to take no notice: but then is the time to mind it, when we are not forced because of him to offend God. For, say, if, while we are discoursing and putting drunkards to shame (@@@skwpto'ntwn), any one take offence--am I to give over speaking? Hear Christ say, "Will ye also go away?" (John vi. 67.) So then, the right thing is, neither to take no notice, nor to take too much, of the weakness of the many. Do we not see the physicians acting thus: how, when it may be done, they humor the whims of their patients, but when the gratification does harm, then they will not spare? Always it is good to know the right mean. Many reviled, because a certain beautiful virgin stayed, and they railed upon those who catechised (her). What then? Was it their duty to desist for that? By no means. For let us not look to this only, whether some be offended, but whether they are justly offended, and so that it is no hurt to ourselves (to give way). "If meat," saith (Paul), "offend my brother, I will eat no meat as long as the world lasts." (1 Cor. viii. 13.) With reason: for the not eating did (him) no harm. If however it offend him, that I wish to renounce (@@@apota'xasqai) (the world), it is not right to mind him. And whom, you will ask, does this offend? Many, to my knowledge. When therefore the hindrance is a thing indifferent, let (the thing) be done. Else, if we were to look only to this, many are the things we have to desist from: just as, on the other hand, if we should despise (all objections), we have to destroy many (brethren). As in fact Paul also took thought beforehand concerning offence: "Lest," he says, "in this liberality which is administered by us:" for it was attended with no loss (to him) to obviate an ill surmise. But when we fall into such a necessity as that great evils should ensue through the other's taking offence let us pay no heed to that person. He has to thank himself for it, and we are not now accountable, for it was not possible to spare him without hurt (to ourselves). Some were offended, because certain believers sat down to meat in (heathen) temples. It was not right to sit down: for no harm came of this (their not doing it). They were offended, because Peter ate with the Gentiles. But he indeed spared them, but (Paul) not so. On all occasions it behooves us in following the laws of God to take great pains that we give no matter of offence; that both ourselves may not have to answer for it, and may have mercy vouchsafed us from God, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XLVII: ACTS XXI. 39, 40.
"But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the' people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying."
Observe how, when he discourses to those that are without, he does not decline availing himself of the aids afforded by the laws. Here he awes the tribune by the name of his city. And again, elsewhere he said, "Openly, uncondemned, Romans as we are, they have cast us into prison." (ch. xix. 37.) For since the tribune said, "Art thou that Egyptian?" he immediately drew him off from that surmise: then, that he may not be thought to deny his nation, he says at once, "I am a Jew:" he means his religion? (b) What then? he did not deny (that he was a Christian): God forbid: for he was both a Jew and a Christian, observing what things he ought: since indeed he, most of all men, did obey the law: (a) as in fact he elsewhere calls himself, "Under the law to Christ." (I Cor. ix. 21.) What is this, I pray? (c) The man that believes in Christ. And when discoursing with Peter, he says: "We, Jews by nature.--But I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people." (Gal. ii. 15.) And this is a proof, that he does not speak lies, seeing he takes all as his witnesses. Observe again how mildly he speaks. This again is a very strong argument that he is chargeable with no crime, his being so ready to make his defence, and his wishing to come to discourse with the people of the Jews. See a man well-prepared (@@@tetagme'non @@@a'ndra)!--Mark the providential ordering of the thing: unless the tribune had come, unless he had bound him, he would not have desired to speak for his defence, he would not have obtained the silence he did. "Standing on the stairs." Then there was the additional facility afforded by the locality, that he should have a high place to harangue them from--in chains too! What spectacle could be equal to this, to see Paul, bound with two chains, and haranguing the people! (To see him,) how he was not a whit perturbed, not a whit confused; how, seeing as he did so great a multitude all hostility against him, the ruler standing by, he first of all made them desist from their auger: then, how prudently (he does this). Just what he does in his Epistle to the Hebrews, the same he does here: first he attracts them by the sound of their common mother tongue: then by his mildness itself. "He spake unto them," it says, "in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you." (ch. xxii. 1.) Mark his address, at once so free from all flattery, and so expressive of meekness. For he says not, "Masters," nor "Lords," but, "Brethren," just the word they most liked: "I am no alien from. you," he says, nor "against you." "Men," he says, "brethren, and fathers:" this, a term of honor, that of kindred. "Hear ye," says he, "my"- -he says not, "teaching," nor "harangue," but, "my defence which I now make unto you." He puts himself in the posture of a suppliant. "And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence." (v. 2.) Do you observe how the using the same tongue subdued them? In fact, they had a sort of awe for that language. Observe also how he prepares the way for his discourse, beginning thus: "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cihcia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day." (v. 3.) "I am a man," he says, "which am a Jew:" which thing they liked most of all to hear; "born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia." That they may not again think him to be of another nation, he adds his religion: "but brought up in this city." (p. 282, note.) He shows how great was his zeal for the worship, inasmuch as having left his native city, which was so great and so remote too, he chose to be brought up here for the Law's sake. See how from the beginning he attached himself to the law.[*] But this he says, not only to defend himself to them, but to show that not by human intent was he led to the preaching of the Gospel, but by a Divine power: else, having been so educated, he would not have suddenly changed. For if indeed he had been one of the common order of men, it might have been reasonable to suspect this: but if he was of the number of those who were most of all bound by the law, it was not likely that he Should change lightly, and without strong necessity. But perhaps some one may say: "To have been brought up here proves nothing: for what if thou camest here for the purpose of trading, or for some other cause?" Therefore he says, "at the feet of Gamaliel:" and not simply, "by Gamaliel," but "at his feet," showing his perseverance, his assiduity, his zeal for the hearing, and his great reverence for the man. "Taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers." Not simply, "the law," but "the law of the fathers;" showing that he was such from the beginning, and not merely one that knew the Law. All this seems indeed to be spoken on their side, but in fact it told against them, since he, knowing the law, forsook it. "Yes: but what if thou didst indeed know the law accurately, but dost not vindicate it, no, nor love it?" "Being a zealot," he adds: not simply (one that knew it). Then, since it was a high encomium he had passed upon himself, he makes it theirs as well as his, adding, "As ye all are this day." For he shows that they act not from any human object, but from zeal for God; gratifying them, and preoccupying their minds, and getting a hold upon them in a way that did no harm. Then he brings forward proofs also, saying, "and I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders" (v. 4, 5): "How does this appear." As witnesses he brings forward the high-priest himself and the eiders. He says indeed, "Being a zealot, as ye" (Hom. xix. p. 123): but he shows by his actions, that he went beyond them. "For I did not wait for an opportunity of seizing them: I both stirred up the priests, and undertook journeys: I did not confine my attacks, as ye did, to men, I extended them to women also: "both binding, and casting into prisons both men and women." This testimony is incontrovertible; the (unbelief) of the Jews (is left) without excuse. See how many witnesses he brings forward, the elders, the high-priest, and those in the city. Observe his defence, how it is not of cowardly fear (for himself, that he pleads), no, but for teaching and indoctrination. For had not the hearers been stones, they would have felt the force of what he was saying. For up to this point he had themselves as witnesses: the rest, however, was without witnesses: "From whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And I answered, Who are Thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom thou persecutest." (v. 6, 7, 8.) Why then, these very things ought to have been held worthy of credit, from those that went before: otherwise he would not have undergone such a revolution. How if he is only making a fine story of it, say you? Answer me, Why did he suddenly fling away all this zeal? Because he looked for honor? And yet he got just the contrary. But an easy life, perhaps? No, nor that either. Well but something else? Why it is not in the power of thought to invent any other object. So then, leaving it to themselves to draw the inference, he narrates the facts. "As I came nigh," he says, "unto Damascus, about noonday." See how great was the excess of the light. What if he is only making a fine story, say you? Those who were with him are witnesses, who led him by the hand, who saw the light. "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me." (v. 9.) But in another place he says, "Hearing the voice, but seeing no man." (Acts ix. 7.) It is not at variance: no, there were two voices, that of Paul and the Lord's voice: in that place, the writer means Paul's voice (Horn. xix. P. 124, note); as in fact (Paul) here adds, "The voice of Him that spake unto me. Seeing no man:" he does not say, that they did not see the light: but, "no man," that is, "none speaking," And good reason that it should be so, since it behooved him alone to have that voice vouchsafed unto him. For if indeed they also had heard it, (the miracle) would not have been so great. Since persons of grosser minds are persuaded more by sight, those saw the light, and were afraid. In fact, neither did the light take so much effect on them, as it did on him: for it even blinded his eyes: by that which befel him, (God) gave them also an opportunity of recovering their sight, if they had the mind. It seems to me at least, that their not believing was providentially ordered, that they might be unexceptionable witnesses. "And he said unto me" it says, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom thou persecutest." (comp. ch. ix. 5.) Well is the name of the city (Nazareth) also added, that they might recognize (the Person): moreover, the Apostles also spoke thus. (ch. ii. 22; iv. 10; x. 38.) And Himself bore witness, that they were persecuting Him. "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. Enter into the city," it says, "and there it shall be spoken to thee of all that is appointed for thee to do." (v. 10-13.) Lo! again another witness. And see how unexceptionable he makes him also. "And one Ananias," he says, "a devout man according to the law,"--so far is it from being anything alien!--"having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt" (there). "And I in the same hour received sight." Then follows the testimony borne by the facts. Observe how it is interwoven, of persons and facts; and the persons, both of their own and of aliens: the priests, the elders, and his fellow-travellers: the facts, what he did and what was done to him: and facts bear witness to facts, not persons only. Then Ananias, an alien; then the fact itself, the recovery of sight; then a great prophecy. "And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see That Just One." (v. 14.) It is well said, "'Of the fathers," to show that they were not Jews, but aliens from the law, and that it was not from zeal (for the law) that they were acting. "That thou shouldest know HIs will." Why then His will is this. See how in the form of narrative it is teaching. "And see That Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shall be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And see," he says, "that Just One." (v. 15.) For the present he says no more than this: if He is Just, they are guilty. "And hear the voice of His mouth." See how high he raises the fact! "For thou shall be His witness--for this, because thou wilt not betray the sight and hearing (i.e. "prove false to")--" both of what thou hast seen, and of what thou hast heard:" by means of both the senses he claims his faith, fulness- -"to all men. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on His name." (v. 16.) Here it is a great thing he has uttered. For he said not, "Be baptized in His name:" but, "calling on the name of Christ." It shows that He is God: since it is not lawful to "call upon" any other, save God. Then he shows also, that he himself was not compelled: for, "I said," says he, "What must I do?" Nothing is (left) without witness: no; he brings forward the witness of a whole city, seeing they had beheld him led by the hand. But see the prophecy fulfilled. "To all men," it is said. For he did become a witness to Him, and a witness as it ought to be; by what he suffered, by what he did, and by what he said. Such witnesses ought we also to be, and not to betray the things we have been entrusted withal: I speak not only of doctrines, but also of the manner of life. For observe: because he had seen, because he had heard, he bears witness to all men, and nothing hindered him. We too bear witness (Mod. text "have heard") that there is a Resurrection and numberless good things: we are bound to bear witness of this to all men. "Yes, and we do bear witness," you will say, "and do believe." How; when ye act the contrary? Say now: if any one should call himself a Christian, and then having apostatized should hold with the Jews, would this testimony suffice? By no means: for men would desire the testimony which is borne by the actions. Just so, if we say that there is a Resurrection and numberless good things, and then despise those things and prefer the things here, who will believe us? Not what we say, but what we do, is what all men look to. "Thou shalt be a witness," it says, "unto all men:" not only to the friendly, but also to the unbelievers: for this is what witnesses are for; not to persuade those who know, but those who know not. Let us be trustworthy witnesses. But how shall we be trustworthy? By the life we lead. The Jews assaulted him: our passions assault us, bidding us abjure our testimony. But let us not obey them: we are witnesses from God. (Christ) is judged that He is not God: He has sent us to bear witness to Him. Let us bear witness and persuade those who have to decide the point: if we do not bear witness, we have to answer for their error also. But if in a court of justice, where worldly matters come in question, nobody would receive a witness full of numberless vices, much less here, where such (and so great) are the matters to be considered. We say, that we have heard Christ, and that we believe the things which He has promised: Show it, say they, by your works: for your life bears witness of the contrary--that ye do not believe. Say, shall we look at the money-getting people, the rapacious, the covetous? the people that mourn and wail, that build and busy themselves in all sorts of things, as though they were never to die? "Ye do not believe that ye shall die, a thing so plain and evident: and how shall we believe you when ye bear witness?" For there are, there are many men, whose state of mind is just as if they were not to die. For when in a lengthened old age they set about building and planting, when will they take death into their calculations? It will be no small punishment to us that we were called to bear witness, but were not able to bear witness of the things that we have seen. We have seen Angels with our eyes, yea, more clearly than those who have (visibly) beheld them. We shall be (Mud. text "Then let us be") witnesses to Christ: for not those only are "martyrs," (or witnesses, whom we so call), but ourselves also. This is why they are called martyrs, because when bidden to abjure (the faith), they endure all things, that they may speak the truth: and we, when we are bidden by our passions to abjure, let us not be overcome. Gold saith: Say that Christ is not Christ. Then listen not to it as to God, but despise its biddings. The evil lusts "profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him." (Tit. i. 16.) For this is not to witness, but the contrary. And indeed that others should deny, (Him) is nothing wonderful: but that we who have been called to bear witness should deny Him, is a grievous and a heinous thing: this of all things does the greatest hurt to our cause. "It shall be to (your)selves for a testimony." (Luke xxi. 13), He saith: but (this is) when we ourselves stand to it firmly. If we would all bear witness to Christ, we should quickly persuade the greater number of the heathen. It is a great thing, my beloved, the life (one leads). Let a man be savage as a beast, let him openly condemn thee on account of thy doctrine, yet he secretly approves, yet he will praise, yet he will admire. For say, whence can an excellent life proceed? From no source, except from a Divine Power working in us. "What if there be heathen also of such a character?" If anywhere any of them be such, it is partly from nature, partly from vainglory. Wilt thou learn what a brilliancy there is in a good life, what a force of persuasion it has? Many of the heretics have thus prevailed, and while their doctrines are corrupt, yet the greater part of men out of reverence for their (virtuous) life did not go on to examine their doctrine: and many even condemning them on account of their doctrine, reverence them on account of their life: not rightly indeed, but still so it is, that they do thus feel (towards them). This has brought slanders on the awful articles of our creed, this has turned everything upside down, that no one takes any account of good living: this is a mischief to the faith. We say that Christ is God; numberless other arguments we bring forward, and this one among the rest, that He has persuaded all men to live rightly: but this is the case with few. The badness of the life is a mischief to the doctrine of the Resurrection, to that of the immortality of the soul, to that of the Judgment: many other (false doctrines) too it draws on with itself, fate, necessity, denial of a Providence. For the soul being immersed in numberless vices, by way of consolations to itself tries to devise these, that it may not be pained in having to reflect that there is a Judgment, and that virtue and vice lie in our own power. (Such a) life works numberless evils, it makes men beasts, and more irrational than beasts: for what things are in each several nature of the beasts, these it has often collected together in one man, and turned everything upside down. This is why the devil has brought in the doctrine of Fate: this is why he has said that the world is without a Providence (Hom. ii. p. 15): this is why he advances his hypothesis of good natures, and evil natures, and his hypothesis of evil (uncreated and) without beginning, and material (in its essence): and, in short, all the rest of it, that he may ruin our life. For it is not possible for a man who is of such a life either to recover himself from corrupt doctrines, or to remain in a sound faith: but of inevitable necessity he must receive all this. For I do not think, for my part, that of those who do not live aright, there could be easily found any who do not hold numberless satanical devices--as, that there is a nativity (or birth-fate) (@@@ge'nesis), that things happen at random, that all is hap-hazard and chance-medley. Wherefore I beseech you let us have a care for good living, that we may not receive evil doctrines. Cain received for punishment that he should be (ever) groaning and trembling. (Gen. iv. 14.) Such are the wicked, and being conscious within themselves of numberless bad things, often they start out of their sleep, their thoughts are full of tumult, their eyes full of perturbation; everything is fraught for them with misgivings, everything alarms them, their soul is replete with grievous expectation and cowardly apprehension, contracted with impotent fear and trembling. Nothing can be more effeminate than such a soul, nothing more inane. Like madmen, it has no self-possession. For it were well for it that in the enjoyment of calm and quiet it were enabled to take knowledge of its proper nobility. But when all things terrify and throw it into perturbation, dreams, and words, and gestures, and forebodings, indiscriminately, when will it be able to look into itself, being thus troubled and amazed? Let us therefore do away with its fear, let us break asunder its bonds. For were there no other punishment, what punishment could exceed this--to be living always in fear, never to have confidence, never to be at ease? Therefore knowing these things assuredly, let us keep ourselves in a state of calm and be careful to practise virtue, that maintaining both sound doctrines and an upright life, we may without offence pass through this life present, and be enabled to attain unto the good things which God hath promised to them that love Him, through the grace and mercy of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XLVIII: ACTS XXII. 17-20.
"And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him."
SEE how he thrusts himself (into danger), I came, he says, after that vision, "to Jerusalem. I was in a trance," etc. Again, this is without witness: but observe, the witness follows from the result. He said, "They will not receive thy testimony:" they did not receive it. And yet from calculations of reason the surmise should have been this, that they would assuredly receive him. For I was the man that made war upon the Christians: so that they ought to have received him. Here he establishes two things: both that they are without excuse, since they persecuted him contrary to all likelihood or calculation of reason; and, that Christ was God, as prophesying things contrary to expectation, and as not looking to past things, but fore-knowing the things to come. How then does He say, "He shall bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and children of Israel?" (Acts ix. 15.) Not, certainly persuade. Besides which, on other occasions we find the Jews were persuaded, but here they were not. Where most of all they ought to have been persuaded, as knowing his former zeal (in their cause), here they were not persuaded. "And when the blood of Thy martyr Stephen," etc. See where again his discourse terminates, namely, in the forcible main point (@@@eis @@@to` @@@ischuro`n @@@kepha'laion): that it was he that persecuted, and not only persecuted but killed, nay, had he ten thousand hands (@@@muri'ais @@@chersi`n @@@anairw^n) would have used them all to kill Stephen. He reminded them of the murderous spirit heinously indulged (by him and them). Then of course above all they would not endure him, since this convicted them; and truly the prophecy was having its fulfilment: great the zeal, vehement the accusation, and the Jews themselves witnesses of the truth of Christ! "And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live." (v. 21, 22.) The Jews would not endure to hear out all his harangue,[*] but excessively fired by their wrath, they shouted, it says, "Away with him; for it is not fit that he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, the tribune commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that be should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him." (v. 23, 24.) Whereas both the tribune ought to have examined whether these things were so--yes, and the Jews themselves too --or, if they were not so, to have ordered him to be scourged, he "bade examine him by scourging, that he might know for what cause they so clamored against him." And yet he ought to have learnt from those clamorers, and to have asked whether they laid hold upon aught of the things spoken: instead of that, without more ado he indulges his arbitrary will and pleasure, and acts with a view to gratify them: for he did not look to this, how he should do a righteous thing, but only how he might stop their rage unrighteous as it was. "And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman and uncondemned?" (v. 25.) Paul lied not, God forbid: for he was a Roman. if there was nothing else, he would have been afraid (to pretend this), lest he should be found out, and suffer a worse punishment. (See Sueton. Vit. Claud. § 25.) And observe he does not say it peremptorily (@@@haplw^s), but, "Is it lawful for you?" The charges brought are two, both its being without examination, and his being a Roman. They held this as a great privilege, at that time: for they say that (it was only) from the time of Hadrian that all were named Romans, but of old it was not so. He would have been contemptible had he been scourged: but as it is, he puts them into greater fear (than they him). Had they scourged him, they would also have dismissed the whole matter, or even have killed him; but as it is, the result is not so. See how God permits many (good results) to be brought about quite in a human way, both in the case of the Apostles and of the rest (of mankind). Mark how they suspected the thing to be a pretext, and that in calling himself a Roman, Paul lied: perhaps surmising this from his poverty. "When the centurion heard that, he went and told the tribune, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the tribune came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the tribune answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the tribune also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him." (v. 26-29.)--"But I," he says, "was free born." So then his father also was a Roman. What then comes of this? He bound him, and brought him down to the Jews. "On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty whereof he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them." (v. 30.) He discourses not now to the multitude, nor to the people. "And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." (ch. xxiii. 1.) What he means is this: I am not conscious to myself of having wronged you at all, or of having done anything worthy of these bonds. What then said the high priest? Right justly, and ruler-like, and mildly: "And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." (v. 3- 5.) Because "I knew not that he was high priest." Some say, Why then does he defend himself as if it was matter of accusation, and adds, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people?" For if he were not the ruler, was it right for no better reason than that to abuse (him or any) other? He says himself, "Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it" (1 Cor. iv. 12); but here he does the contrary, and not only reviles, but curses. They are the words of boldness, rather than of anger; he did not choose to appear in a contemptible light to the tribune. For suppose the tribune himself had spared to scourge him, only as he was about to be delivered up to the Jews, his being beaten by their servants would have more emboldened him: this is why Paul does not attack the servant, but the person who gave the order. But that saying, "Thou whited wall, and dost thou sit to judge me after the law?" (is) instead of, Being (thyself) a culprit: as if he had said, And (thyself) worthy of stripes without number. See accordingly how greatly they were struck with his boldness; for whereas the point was to have overthrown the whole matter, they rather commend him.(1) (infra, v. 9.) "For it is written," etc. He wishes to show that he thus speaks, not from fear, nor because (Ananias) did not deserve to be called this, but from obedience to the law in this point also. And indeed I am fully persuaded that he did not know that it was the high priest,(2) since he had returned now after a long interval, and was not in the habit of constant intercourse with the Jews; seeing him too in the midst among many others: for the high priest was no longer easy to be seen at a glance, there being many of them and diverse.(*) So, it seems to me, in this also he spoke with a view to his plea against them: by way of showing that he does obey the law; therefore he (thus) exculpates himself.
(Recapitulation.) (b) But let us review what has been said. (a) "And when I was came again to Jerusalem," etc. (v. 17.) How was it,(3) that being a Jew, and there brought up and taught, he did not stay there? Nor did he abide there, unless he had a mind to furnish numberless occasions against him: everywhere just like an exile, fleeing about from place to place.(c) "While I prayed in the temple," he says, "it came to pass that I was in a trance." (To show) that it was not simply a phantom of the imagination, therefore "while he prayed" (the Lord) stood by him. And he shows that it was not from fear of their dangers that he fled, but because they would "not receive" his "testimony." (v. 18.) But why said he "They know I imprisoned?" (v. 19.) Not to gainsay Christ, but because he wished to learn this which was so contrary to all reasonable expectation. Christ, however, did not teach him (this),(4) but only bade him depart, and he obeys: so obedient is he. "And they lifted up their voices," it says, "and said, Away with him: it is not fit that this fellow should live." (v. 22.) Nay, ye are the persons not fit to live; not he, who in everything obeys God. O villains and murderers! "And shaking out their clothes," it says, "they threw dust into the air" (v. 23), to make insurrection more fierce, because they wished to frighten the governor. And observe; they do not say what the charge was, as in fact they had nothing to allege, but only think to strike terror by their shouting. "The tribune commanded," etc. and yet he ought to have learnt from the accusers, "wherefore they cried so against him. And as they bound him, etc. And the chief captain was afraid, after he learnt that he was a Roman." Why then it was no falsehood. "On the morrow, because he would know the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, etc., he brought him down before the council." (v. 24-30.) This he should have done at the outset. He brought him in, loosed. This above all the Jews would not know what to make of.(5) "And Paul," it says, "earnestly beholding them." It shows his boldness, and how it awed them (@@@to` @@@entreptiko'n). "Then the high priest Ananias." etc.ch. xxiii. 1, 2.) Why, what has he said that was affronting? What is he beaten for? Why what hardihood, what shamelessness! Therefore (Paul) set him down (with a rebuke) "God shall smite thee thou whited wall." (v. 3.) Accordingly (Ananias) himself is put to a stand, and dares not say a word: only those about him could not bear Paul's boldness. They saw a man ready to die(1) * * * for if this was the case, (Paul) had but to hold his peace, and the tribune would have taken him, and gone his way; he would have sacrificed him to them. He both shows that he suffers willingly what he suffers, and thus excuses himself before them, not that he wished to excuse himself to them--since as for those, he even strongly condemns them--but for the sake of the people.(2) "Violating the law, commandest thou me to be beaten?" Well may he say so: for to kill a man who had done (them) no injury, and that an innocent person, was a violating of the law. For neither was it abuse that was spoken by him, unless one would call Christ's words abusive, when He says, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, for ye are like unto whited walls." (Matt. xxiii. 27.) True, you will say: but if he had said it before he had been beaten, it would have betokened not anger, but boldness. But I have mentioned the reason of this.(8) And (at this rate) we often find Christ Himself "speaking abusively" to the Jews when abused by them; as when He says, "Do not think that I will accuse you." (John v. 45.) But this is not abuse, God forbid. See, with what gentleness he addresses these men: "I wist not," he says, "that he was God's high priest" (v. 4, 5): and, (to show) that he was not dissembling he adds, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." He even confesses him to be still ruler. Let us also learn the gentleness also,(4) that in both the one and the other we may be perfect. For one must look narrowly into them, to learn what the one is and what the other: narrowly, because these virtues have their corresponding vices hard by them: mere forwardness passing itself off for boldness, mere cowardice for gentleness:(5) and need being to scan them, lest any person possessing the vice should seem to have the virtue: which would be just as if a person should fancy that he was cohabiting with the mistress, and not know that it was the servant--maid. What then is gentleness, and what mere cowardice? When others are wronged, and we do not take their part, but hold our peace, this is cowardice: when we are the persons ill-treated, and we bear it, this is gentleness. What is boldness? Again the same, when others are the persons for whom we contend. What forwardness? When it is in our own cause that we are willing to fight. So that magnanimity and boldness go together, as also (mere) forwardness and (mere) cowardice. For he that (does not) resent on his own behalf,(6) Will hardly but resent on behalf of others: and he that does not stand up for his own cause, will hardly fail to stand up for others. For when our habitual disposition is pure from passion, it admits virtue also. Just as a body when free from fever admits strength, so the soul, unless it be corrupted by the passions, admits strength. It betokens great strength, this gentleness; it needs a generous and a gallant soul, and one of exceeding loftiness, this gentleness. Or, think you, is it a small thing to suffer ill, and not be exasperated? Indeed one would not err if in speaking of the disposition to stand up for our neighbors, one should call it the spirit of manly courage. For he that has had the strength to be able to overcome so strong a passion (as this of selfishness), will have the strength to dare the attack on another. For instance, these are two passions, cowardice and anger: if thou have overcome anger, it is very plain that thou overcomest cowardice also: but thou gettest the mastery over anger, by being gentle: therefore (do so) with cowardice also, and thou wilt be manly. Again, if thou hast not got the better of anger, thou art become forward (and pugnacious); but not having got the better of this, neither canst thou get the better of fear; consequently, thou wilt be a coward too: and the case is the same as with the body; if it be weak, it is quickly overcome both by cold and heat: for such is the ill temperament, but the good temperament is able to stand all (changes). Again, greatness of soul is a virtue, and hard by it stands prodigality: economy is a virtue, the being a good manager; hard by it stands parsimony and meanness. Come, let us again collate and compare the virtues (with their vices). Well, then, the prodigal person is not to be called great-minded. How should he? The man who is overcome by numberless passions, how should he be great of soul? For this is not despising money; it is only the being ordered about by other passions: for just as a man, if he were at the beck and bidding of robbers to obey their orders, could not be free (so it is here). His large spending does not come of his contempt of money, but simply from his not knowing how to dispose of it properly: else, were it possible both to keep it and to lay it out on his pleasure, this is what he would like. But he that spends his money on fit objects, this is the man of high soul: for it is truly a high soul, that which is not in slavery to passion, which accounts money to be nothing. Again, economy is a good thing: for thus that will be the best manager, who spends in a proper manner, and not at random without management. But parsimony is not the same thing with this. For the former(1) indeed, not even when an urgent necessity demands, touches the principal of his money: but the latter will be brother to the former. Wells then, we will put together the man of great soul, and the prudent economist, as also the prodigal and the mean man: for both of these are thus affected from littleness of soul, as those others are (from the opposite). Let us not then call him high-souled, who simply spends, but him who spends aright: nor let us call the economical manager mean and parsimonious, but him who is unseasonably sparing of his money. What a quantity of wealth that rich man spent, "who was clothed in purple and fine linen?" (Luke xvi. 19.) But he was not high-souled: for his soul was possessed by an unmerciful disposition and by numberless lusts: how then should it be great? Abraham had a great soul, spending as he did for the reception of his guests, killing the calf, and, where need was, not only not sparing his property, but not even his life. If then we see a person having his sumptuous table, having his harlots and his parasites, let us not call him a man of a great mind, but a man of an exceedingly little mind. For see how many passions he is enslaved and subject to-- gluttony, inordinate pleasure, flattery: but him who is possessed by so many, and cannot even escape one of them, how can any one call magnanimous? Nay, then most of all let us call him little-minded, when he spends the most: for the more he spends, the more does he show the tyranny of those passions: for had they not excessively got the mastery over him, be would not have spent to excess. Again, if we see a person, giving nothing to such people as these, but feeding the poor, and succoring those in need, himself keeping a mean table--him let us call an exceedingly high-souled man: for it is truly a mark of a great soul, to despise one's own comfort, but to care for that of others. For tell me, if you should see a person despising all tyrants, and holding their commands of no account, but rescuing from their tyranny those who are oppressed and evil entreated; would you not think this a great man? So let us account of the man in this case also. The passions are the tyrant: if then we despise them, we shall be great: but if we rescue others also from them, we shall be far greater, as being sufficient not only for ourselves, but for others also. But if any one, at a tyrant's bidding, beat some other of his subjects, is this greatness of soul? No, indeed: but the extreme of slavery, in proportion as he is great. And now also there is set before us (@@@pro'keitai) a soul that is a noble one and a free: but this the prodigal has ordered to be beaten by his passions: the man then that beats himself, shall we call high-souled? By no means. Well then * *, but let us see what is greatness of soul, and what prodigality; what is economy, and what meanness; what is gentleness, and (what) dulness and cowardice; what boldness, and what forwardness: that having distinguished these things from each other, we may be enabled to passthis life) well-pleasing to the Lord, and to attain unto the good things promised, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY XLIX.(1) ACTS. XXIII. 6-8.
"But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both."
AGAIN he discourses simply as man, and he does not on all occasions alike enjoy the benefit of supernatural aid. "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee:"(2) both in this, and in what comes after it, he wished to divide the multitude, which had an evil unanimity against him. And he does not speak a falsehood here either: for he was a Pharisee by descent from his ancestors. "Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." For since they would not say for what reason they arraigned him, he is compelled therefore to declare it himself. "But the Pharisees," it says, "confess both." And yet there are three things: how then does he say both? "Spirit and Angel" is put as one.(3) When he is on their side, then they plead for him. "And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but" (what) "if a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?"(4)(*) (v. 9.) Why did they not plead for him before this? Do you observe, how, when the passions give way, the truth is discovered? Where is the crime, say they, if an angel has spoken to him, or a spirit? Paul gives them no handle against him. "And when there arose a great dissension, the tribune, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle." (v. 10.) The tribune is afraid of his being pulled in pieces, now that he has said that he is a Roman: and the matter was not without danger. Do you observe that Paul had a right to profess himself a Roman? Else, neither would (the tribune) have been afraid now. So it remains that the soldiers must bear him off by force. But when the wretches saw all to be without avail, they take the whole matter into their own hands, as they would fain have done before, but were prevented: and their wickedness stops nowhere, though it received so many checks: and yet how many things were providentially ordered, on purpose that they might settle down from their rage, and learn those things through which they might possibly recover themselves! But none the less do they set upon him. Sufficient for proof of his innocence was even this, that the man was saved when at the point to be pulled in pieces, and that with these so great dangers about him, he escaped them all. "And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy." (v. 11-13.) "They bound themselves under a curse," it says. See how vehement and revengeful they are in their malice l What means, "bound under a curse?"(1) Why then those men are accused forever, seeing they did not kill Paul. And forty together. For such is the nature of that nation: when there needs concerting together for a good object, not even two concur with each other: but when it is for an evil object, the entire people does it. And they admit the rulers also as accomplices. "And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. Now therefore ye with the council signify to the tribune that he bring him down unto you to-morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the tribune: For he hath a certain thing to tell him. So he took him, and brought him to the tribune, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. Then the tribune took him by the hand, anti went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? And he said, the Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to-morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. But do not thou yield unto them for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. So the tribune then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast showed these things to me." (v. 14-22). Again he is saved by man's forethought. And observe: Paul lets no man learn this, not even the centurion, that the matter might not become known. And the centurion having come, reported to the tribune. And it is well done of the tribune also, that he bids him keep it secret, that it might not become known: moreover he gives his orders to the centurions only, at the time when the thing was to be done: and so Paul is sent into Caesarea, that there too he might discourse in a greater theatre and before a more splendid audience: that so the Jews may not be able to say, "If we had seen Paul, we would have believed--if we had heard him teaching." Therefore this excuse too is cut off from them. "And the Lord," it said, "stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Yet) even after He has appeared to him, He again suffers him to be saved by man's means. And one may well be astonished at Paul;(2) he i was not taken aback, neither said, "Why, what is this? Have I then been deceived by Christ?" but he believed: yet, because he believed, he did not therefore sleep: no; what was in his own power by means of human wisdom, he did not abandon. "Bound themselves by a curse:" it was a kind of necessity that those men fastened on themselves by the curse. "That they would neither eat nor drink." Behold fasting the mother of murder! Just as Herod imposed on himself that necessity by his oath, so also do these. For such are the devil's (ways): under the pretext forsooth of piety he sets his traps. "And they came to the chief priests," etc. And yet they ought to have come (to the tribune), ought to have laid a charge, and assembled a court of justice: for these are not the doings for priests, but for captains of banditti, these are not the doings for rulers, but for ruffians. They endeavor also to corrupt the ruler: but it was providentially ordered, to the intent that he also should learn of their plot. For not (only) by their having nothing to say, but also by their secret attempt, they convicted themselves that they were naught. It is likely too that after (Paul was gone) the chief priests came to (the tribune) making their request, and were put to shame. For(3) of course he would not have liked either to deny or to grant their request. How came he to believe (the young man's tale)? He did so in consequence of what had already taken place; because it was likely they would do this also. And observe their wickedness: they as good as laid a necessity on the chief priests also: for if they undertook so great a thing themselves, and engaged themselves in the whole risk, much more ought those to do thus much. Do you observe, how Paul is held innocent by those that are without, as was also Christ by Pilate? See their malice brought to naught: they delivered him up, to kill and condemn him: but the result is just the contrary; he is both saved, and held innocent. For had it not been so,(1) he would have been pulled in pieces: had it not been so, he would have perished, he would have been condemned. And not only does the tribune) rescue him from the rush (made upon him), but also from much other(2) (violence): see how he becomes a minister to him, insomuch that without risk he is carried off safe with so large a force. "And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; and provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Fare ye well." (v. 23- 30). See how the letter speaks for him as a defence--for it says, "I found nothing worthy of death," but as accusation against them (rather) than against him. "About to have been killed of them:" so set upon his death were they. First, "I came with the army, and rescued him:" then also "I brought him down unto them:" and not even so did they find anything to lay to his charge: and when they ought to have been stricken with fear and shame for the former act, they again attempt to kill him, insomuch that again his cause became all the more clear. "And his accusers," he says, "I have sent unto thee:" that at the tribunal where these things are more strictly examined, he may be proved guiltless.
(Recapitulation.) Let us look then to what has been said above. "I," he says, "am a Pharisee:" then, that he may not seem to pay court, he adds, "Of the hope and resurrection of the dead it is, that I am called in question." (v. 6.) From this charge and calumny he commends himself. "For the Sadducees indeed," etc. The Sadducees have no knowledge of anything incorporeal, perhaps not even God; so gross (@@@pachei^s) are they: whence neither do they choose to believe that there is a Resurrection. "And the scribes," etc. Look; the tribune also hears that the Pharisees have acquitted him of the charges, and have given sentence (Mss. and Edd. @@@epshphi'sato, "he gave sentence") in his favor, and with greater confidence carries him off by force. Moreover all that was spoken (by Paul) was full of right-mindedness (@@@philosophi'as). "And the night following the Lord stood by him," etc. See what strong consolation! First he praises him, "As thou hast testified to My cause in Jerusalem;" then He does not leave him to be afraid for the uncertain issue of his journey to Rome: for thither also, He saith, thou shalt not depart alone (@@@mo'nos), Cat. and Edd. @@@mo'non), but thou shalt also have all this boldness of speech. Hereby it was made manifest, not (only) that he should be saved, but that (he should be so) in order to great crowns in the great city. But why did He not appear to him before he fell into the danger? Because it is evermore in the afflictions that God comforts us; for He appears more wished-for, while even in the dangers He exercises and trains us. Besides, he was then at ease, when free from bonds; but now great perils were awaiting him. "We have bound ourselves," they say, "under a curse, that we will not eat nor drink." (v. 14.) What is all this zeal? "That he may bring him down," it says, "unto you, as though ye would enquire into his case more perfectly." (v. 15.) Has he not twice made a speech unto you? has he not said that he is a Pharisee? What (would ye have) over and above this? So reckless were they and afraid of nothing, not tribunals, not laws: such their hardihood which shrunk from nothing. They both declare their purpose, and announce the way of carrying it into effect. "Paul's sister's son heard of it." (v. 16.) This was of God's providence, their not perceiving that it would be heard. What then did Paul? he was not alarmed, but perceived that this was God's doing: and casting all upon Him, so he acquits himself (from further concern about it:) "having called one of the centurions," etc. (v. 17.) He told of the plot, he was believed; he is saved. If he was acquitted of the charge, why did (the tribune) send the accusers? That the enquiry might be more strict: that the man might be the more entirely cleared.
Such are God's ways of ordering: the very things by which we are hurt, by these same are we benefited. Thus it was with Joseph: his mistress sought to ruin him: and she seemed indeed to be contriving his ruin, but by her contriving she placed him in a state of safety: for the house where that wild beast (of a woman) was kept was a den in comparison with which the prison was gentle. (Gen. xxxix. 1-20.) For while he was there, although he was looked up to and courted, he was in constant fear, test his mistress should set upon him, and worse than any prison was the fear that lay upon him: but after the accusation he was in security and peace, well rid of that beast, of her lewdness and her machinations for his destruction: for it was better for him to keep company with human creatures in miserable plight, than with a maddened mistress. Here he comforted himself, that for chastity's sake he had fallen into it: there he had been in dread, lest he should receive a death-blow to his soul: for nothing in the world is more annoying than a woman in love can be to a young man who will not (meet her advances): nothing more detestable (than a woman in such case), nothing more fell: all the bonds in the world are light to this. So that the fact was not that he got into prison, but that he got out of prison. She made his master his foe, but she made God his friend: brought him into closer relation to Him Who is indeed the true Master; she cast him out of his stewardship in the family, but made him a familiar friend to that Master. Again, his brethren sold him (Gen. xxxvii. 18); but they freed him from having enemies dwelling in the same house with him, from envy and much ill will, and from daily machinations for his ruin: they placed him far aloof from them that hated him. For what can be worse than this, to be compelled to dwell in the same house with brethren that envy one; to be an object of suspicion, to be a mark for evil designs? So that while they and she were severally seeking to compass their own ends, far other were the mighty consequences working out by the Providence of God for that just man. When he was in honor, then was he in danger; when he was in dishonor, then was he in safety. The eunuchs did not remember him, and right well it was that they did not, that the occasion of his deliverance might be more glorious: that the whole might be ascribed, not to man's favor, but to God's Providence (Gen. xl. 23): that at the right moment, Pharaoh, reduced to need, might bring him out; that not as conferring but as receiving a benefit, the king might release him from the prison. (ib. xli. 40.) It behooved to be no servile gift, but that the king should be reduced to a necessity of doing this: it behooved that it should be made manifest what wisdom was in him. Therefore it is that the eunuch forgets him, that Egypt might not forget him, that the king might not be ignorant of him. Had he been delivered at that time, it is likely he would have desired to depart to his own country: therefore he is kept back by numberless constraints, first by subjection to a master, secondly by being in prison, thirdly by being over the kingdom, to the end that all this might be brought about by the Providence of God. Like a spirited steed that is eager to bound off to his fellows, did God keep him back there, for causes full of glory. For that he longed to see his father, and free him from his distress, is evident from his calling him thither. (Gen. xlv. 9.)
Shall we look at other instances of evil designing, how they turn out to our good, not only by having their reward, but also by their working at the very time precisely what is for our good? This (Joseph's) uncle (Esau) had ill designs against his father (Jacob), and drove him out of his native land: what then? (Gen. xxvii. 41.) He too set him (thereby) aloof from the danger; for he too got (thereby) to be in safety. He made him a wiser and a better man (@@@philosophw'teron); he was the means of his having that dream (Gen. xxviii. 12.) But, you will say, he was a slave in a foreign land? Yes, but he arrives among his own kindred, and receives a bride, and appears worthy to his father-in-law. (ib. xxix. 23.) But he too cheated him? Yes, but this also turned out to his good, that he might be the father of many children. But it was in his mind to design evil against him? True, but even this was for his good, that he might thereupon return to his own country; for if he had been in good circumstances, he would not have so longed for home. But he defrauded him of his hire? Aye, but he got more by the means. (ib. xxxi. 7.) Thus, in every point of these men's history, the more people designed their hurt, the more their affairs flourished. If (Jacob) had not received the elder daughter, he would not soon have been the. father of so many children; he would have dragged out a long period in childlessness, he would have mourned as his wife did. For she indeed had reason to mourn, as not having become a mother (ib. xxx. 1, 2.); but he had his consolation: whence also he gives her a repulse. Again, had not (Laban) defrauded him of his hire, he would not have longed to see his own country; the higher points (@@@philosophi'a) of the man's character would not have come to light, (his wives) would not have become more closely attached to him. For see what they say: "With devouring hath he devoured us and our money." (Gen. xxxi. 15.) So that this became the means of riveting their love to him. After this he had in them not merely wives, but (devoted) slaves; he was beloved by them: a thing that no possession can equal: for nothing, nothing whatever, is more precious than to be thus loved by a wife and to love her. "And a wife," Scripture says, "that agrees with her husband." (Ecclus. xxv. 1. "A man and a wife that agree together." E.V.) One thing this, as the Wise Man puts it, of the things for which a man is to be counted happy; for where this is, there all wealth, all prosperity abounds: as also, where it is not, there all besides profits nothing, but all goes wrong, all is mere unpleasantness and confusion. Then let us seek this before all things. He that seeks money, seeks not this. Let us seek those things which can remain fixed. Let us not seek a wife from among the rich, lest the excess of wealth on her side produce arrogance, lest that arrogance be the means of marring all. See you not what God did? how He put the woman in subjection? (Gen. iii. 16.) Why art thou ungrateful, why without perception? The very benefit God has given thee by nature, do not thou mar the help it was meant to be. So that it is not for her wealth that we ought to seek a wife: it is that we may receive a partner of our life, for the appointed order of the procreation of children. It was not that she should bring money, that God gave the woman; it was that she might be an helpmate. But she that brings money, becomes, instead of a wife, a setter up of her own will (@@@epi'boulos), a mistress--it may be a wild beast instead of a wife--while she thinks she has a right to give herself airs upon her wealth. Nothing more shameful than a man who lays himself out to get riches in this way. If wealth itself is full of temptations, what shall we say to wealth so gotten? For you must not look to this, that one or another as a rare and unusual case, and contrary to the reason of the thing, has succeeded: as neither ought we in other matters to fix our regards upon the good which people may enjoy, or their chance successes, out of the common course: but let us look to the reason of the thing as it is in itself, and see whether this thing be not fraught with endless annoyance. Not only you bring yourself into a disreputable position; you also disgrace your children by leaving them poor, if it chance that you depart this life before the wife: and you give her incomparably more occasions for connecting herself with a second bridegroom. Or do you not see that many women make this the excuse for a second marriage--that they may not be despised; that they want to have some man to take the management of their property? Then let us not bring about so great evils for the sake of money; but let us dismiss all (such aims), and seek a beautiful soul, that we may also succeed in obtaining love. This is the exceeding wealth, this the great treasure, this the endless good things: whereunto may we all attain by the grace and loving kindness 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 L: ACTS XXIII. 31, 32, 33.
"Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him."
LIKE some king whom his body-guards escort, so did these convey Paul; in such numbers too, and by night, for fear of the wrath of the people? Now then you will say that they have got him out of the city, they desist from their violence? No indeed. But (the tribune) would not have sent him off with such care for his safety, but that while he himself had found nothing amiss in him, he knew the murderous disposition of his adversaries. "And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come." Already Lysias has spoken for his exculpation; (but the Jews seek to) gain the hearer beforehand. "And he ordered him to be kept in custody in Herod's praetorium" (v. 34, 35): again Paul is put in bonds. "And after five days came down the high priest Ananias with the elders." See how for all this they do not desist; hindered as they were by obstacles without number, nevertheless they come, only to be put to shame here also. "And with an orator, one Tertullus." And what need was there of "an orator? Which (persons) also informed the governor against Paul." (c. xxiv. I.) See how this man also from the very outset (b) with his praises seeks to gain the judge beforehand. "And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness." (v. 2, 3.) Then as having much to say, he passes by the rest: "Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world." (a) As a revolutionary and seditious person he wishes to deliver him up. And yet, it might be answered, it is ye that have done this. (c) And see how he would put up the judge to a desire of punishing, seeing he had here an opportunity to coerce the man that turned the world upside down! As if they had achieved a meritorious action, they make much of it: "Having found this fellow," etc., "a mover of sedition," say they, "among all the Jews throughout the world." (Had he been such), they would have proclaimed him as a benefactor and saviour of the nation ! "And a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." (v. 4, 5.) They thought this likely to tell as a reproach--" of the Nazarenes :" and by this also they seek to damage him--for Nazareth was a mean place. And, "we have found him," say they: see how maliciously they calumniate him: (found him), as if he had been always giving them the slip, and with difficulty they had succeeded in getting him: though he had been seven days in the Temple! "Who also hath gone about to profane the temple; whom we took, [and would have judged according to our law."] (v. 6.) See how they insult even the Law; it was so like the Law, forsooth, to beat, to kill, to lie in wait! And then the accusation against Lysias: though he had no right, say they, to interfere, in the excess of his confidence he snatched him from us: [" But the tribune Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee]:[*] by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, where of we accuse him. And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so." (v. 7-9). What then says Paul? "Then Paul; after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a just judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself." (v. 10,) This is not the language of flattery, his testifying to the judge's justice: no, the adulation was rather in that speech of the orator, "By thee we enjoy great quietness." If so, then why are ye seditious? What Paul sought was justice. "Knowing thee to be a just judge, I cheerfully," says he, "answer for myself." Then also he enforces this by the length of time: that (he had been judge) "of many years. Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship." (v. 11.) And what is this? (It means), "that I could not immediately have raised a commotion." Because the accuser had nothing to show (as done) in Jerusalem, observe what he said: "among all the Jews throughout the world." Therefore it is that Paul here forcibly attracts him--" to worship," he says, "I came up," so far am I from raising sedition--and lays a stress upon this point of justices being the strong point. "And they neither found me in the Temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city" (v. 12); which in fact was the truth. And the accusers indeed use the term "ringleader," as if it were a case of fighting and insurrection; but see how mildly Paul here answers. "But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy,[*] so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." (v. 14, 15.) The accusers were separating him (as an alien), but he indentifies himself with the Law, as one of themselves. "And in this," says he, "do I exercise my self, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. In which they found me purified in the temple, not with multitude, neither with tumult." (v. 16, 17, 18.) Why then camest thou up? What brought thee hither? To worship, says he; to do alms. This was not the act of a factious person. Then also he casts out their person: "but," says he, (they that found me, were) "certain Jews from Asia, who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me while I stood before the council, except it be for this one voice, that I cried, standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day." (v. 19, 20, 21.) For this is justification in superabundance, not to flee from his accusers, but to be ready to give account to all. "Of the resurrection of the dead," says he, "am I this day called in question." And not a word said he of what he had to say, how they had conspired against him, had violently kept him, had laid wait for him--for these matters are course spoken of by the tribune--but by Paul, though there was danger, not so: no, he is silent, and only defends himself, though he had very much to say. (b) "In which" (alms), says he, "they found me in course of purifying in the Temple." Then how did he profane it? For it was not the part of the same man both to purify himself and worship and come for this purpose, and then to profane it. This has with it a surmise of the justice of his cause, that he does not fall into a long discourse. And he gratifies the judge, I suppose, by that also (namely, by), making his defence compendious: (d) seeing that Tertullus before him did make a long harangue. (f) And this too is a proof of mildness, that when one has much to say, in order not to be troublesome one says but few words. (c) But let us look again at what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "Then the soldiers," etc. (v. 31-33.) (a) This also made Paul famous in Caesarea, his coming with so large a force. --"But," says Tertullus, 'that I be not further tedious," (e) showing that (Felix) does find him tedious (@@@egko'ptetai): "I beseech thee," he does not say, Hear the matter, but, "hear us of thy clemency." (ch. xxiv. 4.) Probably it is to pay court, that he thus lays out his speech. (g) "For having found this man, a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world" (v. 5): how then, it might be said, if he did this elsewhere (and not here)? No, says he; among us also he has profaned the Temple; "attempted," says he, "to profane it:" but the how, he leaves untold. "Whom also we took." etc. "But the tribune," etc. And while he thus exaggerates what relates to the tribune, see how he extenuates the part of the accusers themselves. "We took him," he says, "and would have judged him according to our Law." (v. 6.) He shows that it is a hardship to them that they have to come to foreign tribunals, and that they would not have troubled him had not the tribune compelled them, and that he, having no concern in the matter, had seized the man by force: for in fact the wrongs done were against us, and with us the tribunal ought to have been. For that this is the meaning, see what follows: "with great violence" (v. 7), he says. For this conduct is violence. "From whom thou mayest know." He neither dares to accuse him (the tribune)--for the man Was indulgent (forsooth)--nor does he wholly pass it by. Then again, test he should seem to be lying, he adduces Paul himself as his own accuser. "From whom, by examining him, thou mayest take knowledge of all these things." (v. 8.) Next, as witnesses also of the things spoken, the accusers, the same persons themselves both witnesses and accusers: "And the Jews also assented," etc. (v. 9.) But Paul, "Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a just judge." (v. 10.) Why then, he is no stranger or alien or revolutionary person, seeing he had known the judge for many years. And he does well to add the epithet "just," that he (Felix) might not look to the chief priest, nor to the people, nor the accuser. See, how he did not let himself be carried away into abuse, although there was strong provocation. "Believing," he says, "that there will be a resurrection:" now a man who believed a resurrection, would never have done such things--" which" (resurrection) "they themselves also allow. (v. 15.) He does not say it of them, that they believe "all things written in the Prophets :" it was he that believed them all, not they: but how "all," it would require a long discourse to show. And he nowhere makes mention of Christ. Here by saying, "Believing," he does (virtually) introduce what relates to Christ; for the present he dwells on the subject of the resurrection, which doctrine was common to them also, and removed the suspicion of any sedition. And for the cause of his going up, "I came," he says, "to bring alms to my nation and offerings." (v. 17.) How then should I have troubled those, for the bringing offerings to whom I had come so long a journey? "Neither with multitude, nor with tumult." (v. 18.) Everywhere he does away the charge of sedition. And he also does well to challenge his accusers who were from Asia, "Who ought to accuse before thee," etc., but he does well also not to reject this either; "or else," says he, "let these same here say. Touching the resurrection of the dead," etc. (v. 19, 20, 21): for in fact it was on this account they were sore troubled from the first, because he preached the Resurrection. This being proved, the things relating to Christ also were easily introduced, that He was risen. "What evil doing," he says, "they found in me. In the council (ch. iv. 2) he says: the examination not having taken place in private. That these things which I say are true, those witness who bring this charge against me. "Having," he says, "a conscience void of offence both toward God, and toward men." (v. 16.) This is the perfection of virtue, when even to men we give no handle against us, and are careful to be void of offence with God. "That I cried," he says, "in the council'." He also shows their violence. They have it not to say, Thou didst these things under the pretext of alms: for (it was) "not with multitude, nor with tumult:" especially as upon enquiry made concerning this thing, nothing further was found. Do you observe his moderation, though there were dangers? do you observe how he keeps his tongue from evil-speaking, how he seeks only one thing, to free himself from the charges against himself, not that he may criminate them, except so far as he might be obliged to do so while defending himself? Just as Christ also said: "I have not a devil, but I honor My Father: but ye do dishonor Me." (John viii. 49.)
Let us imitate him, since he also was an imitator of Christ. If he, with enemies, who went even to the length of murder and slaughter, said nothing offensive to them, what pardon shall we deserve, who in reviling and abuse become infuriated, calling our enemies villains, detestable wretches? what pardon shall we deserve, for having enemies at all? Hear you not, that to honor (another) is to honor one's self? So it is: but we disgrace ourselves. You accuse (some one) that he has abused you: then why do you bring yourself under the same accusation? Why inflict a blow on yourself? Keep free from passion, keep unwounded: do not, by wishing to smite another, bring the hurt upon yourself. What, is the other tumult of our soul not enough for us, the tumult that is stirred up, though there be none to stir it up--for example, its outrageous lusts, its griefs and sorrows, and such like--but we must needs heap up a pile of others also? And how, you will say, is it possible, when one is insulted and abused, to bear this? And how is it nor possible, I ask? Is a wound got from words; or do words inflict bruises on our bodies? Then where is the hurt to us? So that, if we will, we can bear it. Let us lay down for ourselves a law not to grieve, and we shall bear it: let us say to ourselves, "It is not from enmity; it is from infirmity "--for it is indeed owing to an infirmity, since, for proof that it comes not from enmity nor from malignity of disposition, but from infirmity, the other also would fain have restrained (his anger), although he had suffered numberless wrongs. If we only have this thought in our minds, that it is from infirmity, we shall bear it, and while we forgive the offending person, we shall try not to fall into it ourselves. For I ask all you who are present: would ye have wished to be able to exercise such a philosophic temper, as to bear with those who insult you? I think so. Well, then, he insulted unwillingly; he would rather not have done so, but he did it, forced by his passion: refrain thyself. Do you not see (how it is with) the demoniacs (in their fits)? Just then as it is with them, so with him: it is not so much from enmity, as from infirmity (that he behaves as he does): endure it. And as for us-- it is not so much from the insults as they are in themselves that we are moved, as from our own selves: else how is it that when madmen offer us the same insults, we bear it? Again, if those who insult us be our friends, in that case too we bear it: or also our superiors, in that case also we bear it: how then is it not absurd, that in the case of these three, friends, madmen, and superiors, we bear it, but where they are of the same rank or our inferiors, we do not bear it? I have oftentimes said: It is but an impulse of the moment, something that hurries us away on the sudden: let us endure it for a little, and we shall bear the whole thing. The greater the insults, the more weak the offender. Do you know when it behooves us to grieve? When we have insulted another, and he keeps silence: for then he is strong, and we weak: but if the contrary be the case, you must even rejoice: you are crowned, you are proclaimed conqueror, without having even entered into the contest, without having borne the annoyance of sun, and heat, and dust, without having grappled with an antagonist and let him close with you; nothing but a mere wish on your part, sitting or standing, and you have got a mighty crown: a crown far greater than those (combatants earn): for to throw an enemy standing to the encounter, is nothing like so great as to overcome the darts of anger. You have conquered, without having even let him close with you, you have thrown down the passion that was in you, have slain the beast that was roused, have quelled the anger that was raging, like some excellent herdsman. The fight was like to have been an intestine one, the war a civil war. For, as those who sit down to besiege from without (endeavor to), embroil (the besieged) in civil discords, and then overcome them; so he that insults, unless he rouse the passion within us, will not be able to overcome us: unless we kindle the flame in ourselves, he has no power. Let the spark of anger be within us, so as to be ready for lighting at the right moment, not against ourselves, nor so as to involve us in numberless evils. See ye not how the fire in houses is kept apart, and not thrown about at random everywhere, neither among straw, nor among the linen, nor just where it may chance, that so there may not be danger, if a wind blow on it, of its kindling a flame: but whether a maid- servant have a lamp, or the cook light a fire, there is many an injunction given, not to do this in the draught of the wind, nor near a wooden panel, nor in the night-time: but when the night has come on, we extinguish the fire, fearing lest perchance while we are asleep and there is none to help, it set fire, and burn us all. Let this also be done with regard to anger; let it not be scattered everywhere up and down in our thoughts, but let it be in some deep recess of the mind, that the wind arising from the words of him who is opposing us may not easily reach to it, but that it receive the wind (which is to rouse it) from ourselves, who know how to rouse it in due measure and with safety. If it receive the wind from without, it knows no moderation; it will set everything on fire: oftentimes when we are asleep this wind will come upon it, and will burn up all. Let it therefore be with us (in safe keeping) in such sort as only to kindle a light: for anger does kindle a light when it is managed as it ought to be: and let us have torches against those who wrong others, against the devil. Let not the spark lie anywhere as it may chance, nor be thrown about; let us keep it safe under ashes: in lowly thoughts let us keep it slumbering. We do not want it at all times, but when there is need to subdue and to make tender, to mollify obduracy, and convict the soul. What evils have angry and wrathful passions wrought! And what makes it grievous indeed is, that when we have parted asunder, we have no longer the power to come together again, but we wait for others (to do this): each is ashamed, and blushes to come back himself and reconcile the other. See, he is not ashamed to part asunder and to be separated; no, he takes the lead as author of the evil: but to come forward and patch that which is rent, this he is ashamed to do: and the case is just the same, as if a man should not shrink from cutting off a limb, but should be ashamed to join it together again. What sayest thou, O man? Hast thou committed great injuries, and thyself been the cause of the quarrel? Why, then, thou wouldest justly be the first to go and be reconciled, as having thyself furnished the cause. But he did the wrong, he is the cause of the enmity? Why then, for this reason also thou must do it, that men may the more admire thee, that in addition to the former, thou mayest get the first prize in the latter also: as thou wast not the cause of the enmity, so neither of its being extended further. Perhaps also the other, as conscious within himself of numberless evils, is ashamed and blushes. But he is haughty? On this account above all, do not thou hesitate to run and meet him: for if the ailment in him be twofold, both haughtiness and anger, in this thou hast mentioned the very reason why thou oughtest to be the first to go to him, thou that art the one in sound health, the one who is able to see: as for him, he is in darkness: for such is anger and false pride. But do thou, who art free from these and in sound health, go to him--thou the physician, go to the sick. Does any of the physicians say, Because such an one is sick, I do not go to him? No, this is the very reason above all why they do go, when they see that he is not able to come to them. For of those who are able (to come) they think less, as of persons not extremely ill, but not so of those who lie at home sick. Or are not pride and anger, think you, worse than any illness? is not the one like a sharp fever, the other like a body swollen with inflammation? Think what a thing it is to have a fever and inflammation: go to him, extinguish the fire, for by the grace of God thou canst: go, assuage the heat as it were with water. "But," you will say, "how if he is only the more set up by my doing this very thing?" This is nothing to thee: thou hast done thy part, let him take account for himself: let not our conscience condemn us, that this thing happens in consequence of any omission of what ought to have been done on our part. "In so doing," says the Scripture, "thou shall heap coals of fire on his head." (Rom. xii. 20, cf. Hom. in l. xxii. § 3.) And yet, for all that this is the consequence, it bids us go and be reconciled and do good offices--not that we may heap coals of fire, but that (our enemy) knowing that future consequence, may be assuaged by the present kindness, that he may tremble, that he may fear our good offices rather than our hostilities, and our friendships rather than our ill designs. For one does not so hurt his hater by showing his resentment as an enemy, as by doing him good and showing kindness. For by his resentment, he has hurt both himself and perhaps the other also in some little degree: but by doing good offices, he has heaped coals of fire on his head. "Why then," you will say, "for fear of thus heaping coals one ought not to do this (b) but to carry on the enmity to greater lengths." By no means: it is not you that cause this, but he with his brutish disposition. For if, when you are doing him good, and honoring him, and offering to be reconciled, he persists in keeping up the enmity, it is he has kindled the fire for himself, he has set his own head on fire; you are guiltless. Do not want to be more merciful than God (b), or rather, if you wish it, you will not be able, not even in the least degree. How should you? "As far as the heaven is from the earth," Scripture says, "so far are My counsels from your counsels" (Isa. xlv. 8): and again, "If ye," He says, "being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more your heavenly Father" (Matt. vii. 11)? But in fact this talk is mere pretext and subterfuge. Let us not prevaricate with God's commandments. "And how do we prevaricate," you will say? He has said, "In so doing, thou wilt heap coals of fire on his head:" and you say, I do not like to do this. (a) But are you willing to heap coals after another fashion, that is upon your own head? For in fact this is what resentment does: (c) since you shall suffer evils without number. (e) You say, "I am afraid for my enemy, be, cause he has done me great injuries:" in reality is it this you say? But how came you to have an enemy? But how came you to hate your enemy? You fear for him that has injured you, but do you not fear yourself? Would that you had a care for yourself! Do not act (the kindness) with such an aim as this: or rather do it, though it be but with such an aim. But you do it not at all. I say not to you, "thou wilt heap coals of fire:" no, I say another and a greater thing: only do it. For Paul says this only by way of summoning thee (if only), in hope of the vengeance, to put an end to the enmity. Because we are savage as wild beasts in disposition, and would not otherwise endure to love our enemy, unless we expected some revenge, he offers this as a cake, so to say, to a wild beast. For to the Apostles (the Lord) says not this, but what says He? "That ye may be like to your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. v. 45.) And besides, it is not possible that the benefactor and the benefited should remain in enmity. This is why Paul has put it in this way. 'Why, affecting a high and generous principle in thy words, why in thy deeds dost thou not even observe (common) moderation? (It sounds)well; thou dost not feed him, for fear of thereby heaping upon him coals of fire: well then, thou sparest him? well then, thou lovest him, thou actest with this object in view? God knows, whether thou hast this object in so speaking, and are not palming this talk upon us as a mere pretence and subterfuge. Thou hast a care for thine enemy, thou fearest lest he be punished, then wouldest thou not have extinguished thine anger? For he that loves to that degree that he overlooks his own interest for the sake of the other's advantage, that man has no enemy. (Then indeed) thou mightest say this. How long shall we trifle in matters that are not to be trifled with, and that admit of no excuse? Wherefore I beseech you, let us cut off these pretexts; let us not despise God's laws: that we may be enabled with well-pleasing to the Lord to pass this life present, and attain unto the good things promised, 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 LI: ACTS XXIV. 22, 23.
"And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them and said, When Lysias the tribune shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him."
SEE how much close investigation is made by the many in a long course of time, that it should not be said that the trial was hurried over. For, as the orator had made mention of Lysias, that he took "him away with violence, Felix," he says, "deferred them. Having knowledge of that way:" that is, he put them off on purpose: not because he wanted to learn, but as wishing to get rid of the Jews. On their account, he did not like to let him go: to punish him was not possible; that would have been (too) barefaced. "And to let him have liberty,[*] and to forbid none of his acquaintance to minister to him." So entirely did he too acquit him of the charges. Howbeit, to gratify them, he detained him, and besides, expecting to receive money, he called for Paul. "And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance (i.e. self-control or chastity), and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him; wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix's room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound." (v. 24-27.) See how close to the truth are the things written. But he sent for him- frequently, not that he admired him, nor that he praised the things spoken, nor that he wished to believe, but why? "Expecting," it says, "that money should have been given him." Observe how he does not hide here the mind of the judge. "Wherefore he sent for him," etc. And yet if he had condemned him, he would not have done this, nor have wished to hear a man, condemned and of evil character. And observe Paul, how, though reasoning with a ruler, he says nothing of the sort that was likely to amuse and entertain, but (" he reasoned," it says,) "of righteousness, and of the coming judgment," and of the resurrection. And such was the force of his words, that they even terrified the governor.[*] This man is succeeded in his office by another, and he leaves Paul a prisoner: and yet he ought not to have done this; he ought to have put an end to the business: but he leaves him, by way of gratifying them. They however were so urgent, that they again besought the judge. Yet against none of the Apostles had they set themselves thus pertinaciously; there, when they had attacked, anon they desisted. So providentially is he removed from Jerusalem, having to do with such wild beasts. And they nevertheless request that he might be brought again there to be tried. "Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favor against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him." (ch. xxv. 1-3.) Here now God's providence interposed, not permitting the governor to do this: for it was natural that he having just come to the government would wish to gratify them: but God suffered him not. "But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought." (v. 4-6.) But after they came down, they forthwith made their accusations shamelessly and with more vehemence: and not having been able to convict him on grounds relating to the Law, they again according to their custom stirred the question about Caesar, being just what they did in Christ's case. For that they had recourse to this is manifest by the fact, that Paul defends himself on the score of offences against Caesar. "And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me "? (v. 7-9.) Wherefore he too gratifies the Jews, the whole people, and the city. Such being the case, Paul terrifies him also, using a human weapon for his defence. "Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged; to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar." (v. 10-11.) Some one might say, How is it, that having been told, "Thou must also bear witness of Me in Rome," (ch. xxiii. 11), he, as if unbelieving, did this? God forbid: nay, he did it, because he so strongly believed. For it would have been a tempting of God to be bold on account of that declaration, and to cast himself into numberless dangers, and to say: "Let us see if God is able even thus to deliver me." But not so does Paul; no, he does his part, all that in him lies, committing the whole to God. Quietly also he reproves the governor: for, "If, says he, I am an offender, thou doest well: but if not, why dost thou give me up?" "No man," he says, "may sacrifice me." He put him in fear, so that even if he wished, he could not sacrifice him to them; while also as an excuse to them he had Paul's appeal to allege. "Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus." (v. 12, 13.) Observe, he communicates the matter to Agrippa, so that there should be other hearers once more, both the king, and the army, and Bernice. Thereupon a speech in his exculpation. "And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's, cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: but had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether be would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To-morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him." (v. 14-22.) And observe a crimination of the Jews, not from Paul, but also from the governor. "Desiring," he says, "to have judgment against him." To whom I said, to their shame, that "it is not the manner of the Romans," before giving an opportunity to speak for himself, "to sacrifice a man." But I did give him (such opportunity), and I found no fault in him. "Because I doubted," says he, of "such manner of questions: he casts a veil also over his own wrong. Then the other desires to see him. (b) But let us look again at what has been said. (Recapitulation.) "And when Felix," etc. (v. 22.) Observe on all occasions how the governors try to keep off from themselves the annoyance of the Jews, and are often compelled to act contrary to justice, and seek pretexts for deferring: for of course it was not from ignorance that he deferred the cause, but knowing it. And his wife also hears, together with the governor. (v. 24.) This seems to me to show great honor. For he would not have brought his wife to be present with him at the hearing, but that be thought great things of him. It seems to me that she also longed for this. And observe how Paul immediately discourses not only about faith, nor about remission of sins, but also about practical points of duty. "Go thy way," he says, "for this time: when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." (v. 25.) Observe his hardness of heart: hearing such things, "he hoped that he should receive money from him !" (v. 26.) And not only so, but even after conversing with him--for it was towards the end of his government--he left him bound, "willing to show the Jews a pleasure" (v. 27): so that he not only coveted money, but also glory. How, O wretch, canst thou look for money from a man who preaches the contrary? But that he did not get it, is evident from his leaving him bound; he would have loosed him, had he received it. "Of temperance," it says, he reasoned; but the other was hankering to receive money from him who discoursed these things! And to ask indeed he did not dare: for such is wickedness: but he hoped it. "And when two years were completed," etc., so that it was but natural that he showed them a pleasure, as he had been so long governor there. "Now when Festus was come into the province," etc. (ch. xxv. 1, 2.) At the very beginning, the priests came to him, who would not have hesitated to go even to Caesarea, unless he had been seen immediately coming up, since immediately on his arrival they come to him. And he spends ten days? in order, I suppose, to be open to those who wished to corrupt him with bribes. But Paul was in the prison. "They besought him," it says, "that he would send for him:" why did they desire it as a favor, if he was deserving of death? But thus their plotting became evident even to him, so that discoursing of it (to Agrippa), he says, "desiring to have judgment against him." They wanted to induce him to pass sentence now immediately, being afraid of Paul's tongue. What are ye afraid of? What are ye in such a hurry? In fact, that expression, "that he should be kept " (v. 4), shows this. Does he want to escape? "Let them therefore," he says, "which among you are able, accuse him." (v. 5.) Again accusers, again at Caesarea, again Paul is brought forth. And having come, immediately "he sat on the judgment-seat" (v. 6); with all his haste: they so drove, so hurried him. While as yet he had not got acquainted with the Jews, nor experienced the honor paid to him by them, he answered rightly: but now that he had been in Jerusalem ten days, he too wants to pleasure them (by sacrificing Paul to them): then, also to deceive Paul, "Wilt thou," says he, "be judged there of these things by me?" (v. 9.) I am not giving thee up to them--but this was the fact--and he leaves the point to his own choice, that by this mark of respect he might get him to yield: since his was the sentence, and it would have been too barefaced, when he had been convicted of nothing here, to take him back thither. "But Paul said, At Caesar's tribunal am I standing," etc. (v. 10): he did not say, I will not, lest he should make the judge more vehement, but (here) again is his great boldness: They cast me out once for all, themselves, and by this they think to condemn me, by their showing that I have offended against Caesar: at his bar I choose to be judged, at the bar of the injured person himself. "To the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou also very well knowest." Here now he reproved him, that he too wished to sacrifice him to the Jews: then, on the other hand, he relaxes (the sternness of) his speech: "if then I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die." I utter sentence against myself. For along with boldness of speech there must be also justness of cause, so as to abash (the hearer). "But if there be nothing in the things whereof these accuse me, no man "--however he may wish it--"no man may sacrifice me to please them." He said, not, I am not worthy of death, nor, I am worthy to be acquitted, but, I am ready to take my trial before Caesar. At the same time too, remembering the dream, he was the more confident to appeal. (ch. xxiii. II.) And he said not, Thou (mayest not), but, neither any other man may sacrifice me, that it might be no affront to him. "Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council "-- do you observe how he seeks to gratify them? for this is favor --" having conferred," it says, "with the council, he said, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shall thou go." (v. 12.) See how his trial is again lengthened out, and how the plot against him becomes an occasion for the preaching: so that with ease and in safe custody he should be taken away to Rome, with none to plot evil against him: for it was not the same thing his simply coming there, and his coming on such a cause. For, in fact this was what made the Jews come together there. (ch. xxviii. 17.) Then again, some time passes while he tarries at Jerusalem, that you may learn, that, though some time passed, the evil design against him prevails nothing, God not permitting it. But this king Agrippa, who was also a Herod, was a different Agrippa, after him of James' time, so that this is the fourth (Herod). See how his enemies cooperate with him against their will. To make the audience large, Agrippa falls into a desire of hearing: and he does not simply hear, but with much parade. And see what a vindication (@@@apologi'an)! So writes Festus, and the ruthlessness of the Jews is openly made a show of: for when it is the governor that says these things, he is a witness above all suspicion: so that the Jews are condemned by him also. For, when all had pronounced sentence against them, then, and not sooner, God brings upon them the punishment. But observe: Lysias gave it against them, Felix against them, Festus against them--although he wished to gratify them--Agrippa against them. What further? The Pharisees--even they gave it against themselves. No evil, says Festus, "of such things as I supposed: no accusation did they bring against him." (v. 18.) And yet they did bring it: true, but they did not prove it: for their evil design and daring plot against him gave cause to surmise this, but the examination brought out nothing of the kind. "And of one Jesus," he says, "which was dead." (v. 19.) He says naturally enough, "of one" (Jesus), as being a man in office, and not caring for these things. "And not knowing, for my part, what to make of the enquiry concerning these things" (v. 20)--of course, it went beyond a judge's hearing, the examining into these matters. If thou art at a loss, why dost thou drag him to Jerusalem? But the other would not deign this: no, "To Caesar" (says he); as in fact it was touching Caesar that they accused him Do you hear the appeal? hear the plotting of the Jews? hear their factious spirit? All these things provoked him to a desire (of hearing him): and he gives them the gratification and Paul becomes more renowned. For such as I said, are the ill designs (of enemies). Had not these things been so, none of these rulers would have deigned to hear him, none would have heard with such quietness and silence. And he seems indeed to be teaching, he seems to be making a defence; but he rather makes a public harangue with much orderliness. Then let us not think that ill designs against us are a grievous thing. So long as we do not make ill designs against ourselves, no one will be able to have ill designs against us: or rather, people may do this, but they do us no hurt; nay, even benefit us in the highest degree: for it rests with ourselves, whether we shall suffer evil, or not suffer evil. Lo! I testify, and proclaim with a loud voice, more piercing even than the sound of a trumpet--and were it possible to ascend on high and cry aloud, I would not shrink from doing it- -him that is a Christian, none of all the human beings that inhabit the earth will have power to hurt. And why do I say, human beings? Not even the Evil Spirit himself, the tyrant, the Devil, can do this, unless the man injure himself; be what it may that any one works, in vain he works it. For even as no human being could hurt an angel, if he were on earth, so neither can one human being hurt another human being. But neither again will he himself be able to hurt another, so long as he is good. What then can be equal to this, when neither to be hurt is possible, nor to hurt another? For this thing is not less than the former, the not wishing to hurt another. Why, that man is a kind of angel, yea, like God. For such is God; only, He indeed (is such) by nature, but this man, by moral choice: neither to be hurt is possible (for either), nor to hurt another. But this thing, this "not possible,' think not that it is for any want of power--for the contrary to this is want of power--no, I speak of the morally incompatible (@@@to` @@@anendekto'n). For the (Divine) Nature is neither Itself susceptible of hurt, nor capable of hurting another: since this very thing in itself is a hurt. For in no other way do we hurt ourselves, than by hurting another, and our greatest sins become such from our doing injury to ourselves. So I that for this reason also the Christian cannot be hurt, namely, because neither can he hurt. But how in hurting others we hurt ourselves, come, let us take this saying in hand for examination in detail. Let a man wrong another, insult, overreach; whom then has he hurt? is it not himself first? This is plain to every one. For to the one, the damage is in money, to himself, it is in the soul; to destruction, and to punishment. Again, let another be envious: is it not himself he has injured? For such is the nature of injustice: to its own author first it does incalculable hurt. "Yes, but to another also?" True, but nothing worth considering: or rather, not even a little--nay, it even benefits him. For let there be,--as the whole matter lies most in these examples,--let there be some poor man, having but little property and (barely) provided with necessary food, and another rich and wealthy, and having much power, and then let him take the poor man's property, and strip him naked, and give him up to starvation, while he shall luxuriate in what he has unjustly taken from the other: not only has he not hurt that man at all--he has even benefited him, while himself he has not only not benefited, but even hurt. For how should it be otherwise? In the first place, harassed by an evil conscience, and day by day condemning himself and being condemned by all men: and then, secondly, in the judgment to come. But the other, how is he benefited? Because to suffer ill and bear it nobly, is great gain: for it is a doing away of sins, this suffering of ill, it is a training to philosophy, it is a discipline of virtue. Let us see which of the two is in evil case, this man or that. For the one, if he be a man of well-ordered mind, will bear it nobly: the other will be every day in a constant tremor and misgiving: which then is hurt, this man or that? "You talk idly," say you: "for when a man has nothing to eat, and is forced to bewail himself and to feel himself very wretched, or comes and begs, and gets nothing. is not that a ruining of both soul and body?" No, it is you that talk idly: for I show facts in proof. For say, does none of the rich feel himself wretched? What then? Is poverty the cause of his wretchedness? "But he does not starve." And what of that? The greater is the punishment, when having riches he does this. For neither does wealth make a man strong-minded, nor poverty make him weak otherwise none of those living in wealth would pass a wretched life, nor would any of those in poverty (not) curse his fate. But that yours is indeed the idle talk, I will make manifest to you from hence. Was Paul in poverty or in wealth? did he suffer hunger, or did he not? You may hear himself saying, "In hunger and thirst." (2 Cor. xi. 27.) Did the prophets suffer hunger, or did they not? They too had a hard time of it. "Again, you fetch up Paul to me, again the prophets, some ten or twenty men." But whence shall I bring examples? "Show me from the many some who bear ills nobly." But the rare is ever such: however, if you will, let us examine the matter as it is in itself. Let us see whose is the greater and sharper care, whose the more easy to be borne. The one is solicitous about his necessary food, the other about numberless matters, freed from that care. The rich man is not afraid on the score of hunger, but he is afraid about other things: oftentimes for his very life. The poor man is not free from anxiety about food, but he is free from other anxieties, he has safety, has quietness, has security.
If to injure another is not an evil, but a good, wherefore are we ashamed? wherefore do we cover our faces? Wherefore, being reproached, are we vexed and disconcerted? If the being injured is not a good thing, wherefore do we pride ourselves, and glory in the thing, and justify ourselves on its account? Would you learn how this is better than that? Observe those who are in the one condition, and those who are in the other. Wherefore are laws? Wherefore are courts of justice? Wherefore punishments? Is it not, on account of those men, as being diseased and unsound? But the pleasure lies great, you will say. Let us not speak of the future: let us look into the present. What is worse than a man who is under such a suspicion as this? what more precarious? what more unsound? is he not always in a state of shipwreck? Even if he do any just thing, he, is not credited, condemned as he is by all on account of his power (of injuring): for in all who dwell with him he has accusers: he cannot enjoy friendship: for none would readily choose to become the friend of a man who has such a character, for fear of becoming implicated with him in the opinion held of him. As if he were a wild beast, all men turn away from him; as from a pest, a foe, a man-slayer, and an enemy of nature, so they shrink from the unjust man. If he who has wronged another happen to be brought into a court of justice, he does not even need an accuser, his character condemns him in place of any accuser. Not so he who is injured; he has all men to take his part, to condole with him, to stretch out the hand of help: he stands on safe ground. If to injure another be a good and a safe thing, let any one confess that he is unjust: but if he dares not do this, why then does he pursue it as a good thing? But let us see in our own persons, if his same be done there, what evils come of it: (I mean,) if any of the parts or functions within us having overstepped its proper bounds, grasp at the office of some other. For let the spleen, if it will, have left its proper place, and seize on the part belonging to some other organ along with its own, is not this disease? The moisture within us, let it fill every place, is it not dropsy and gout? is not this to ruin itself, along with the other? Again, let the bile seek for a wide room, and let the blood be diffused throughout every part. But how is it in the soul with anger, lust, and all the rest. if the food exceed its proper measure? Again in the body, if the eye wish to take in more, or to see more than is allotted to it, or admit a greater light than is proper. But if, when the light is good, yet the eye is ruined, if it choose to see more than is right: consider what it must be in the case of an evil thing. If the ear take in a (too) loud voice, the sense is stunned: the mind, if it reason about things above itself, it is overpowered: and whatever is in excess, mars all. For this is @@@pleonexi'a, the wanting to have more than what is marked off and allotted. So too in respect of money; when we will needs put upon (us) more burdens (than is meet), although we do not perceive it, to our sore hurt we are nourishing within ourselves a wild beast; much having, yet much wanting, numberless the cares we entangle ourselves withal, many the handles we furnish the devil against ourselves. In the case of the rich, however, the devil has not even need of labor, so surely do their very concerns of business of themselves ruin them. Wherefore I beseech you to abstain from the lust of these things, that we may be enabled to escape the snares of the evil one, and having taken hold of virtue, to attain unto the good things eternal, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory forever. Amen.
HOMILY LII: ACTS XXV. 23.
"And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth.
See what an audience is gathered together for Paul. Having collected all his guards, the governor is come, and the king, and the tribunes, "with the principal men," it says, "of the city." Then Paul being brought forth, see how he is proclaimed as conqueror. Festus himself acquits him from the charges, for what says Festus? "And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him." (v. 24- 27.) Mark how he accuses them, while he acquits him. O what an abundance of justifications! After all these repeated examinations, the governor finds not how he may condemn him. They said he was worthy of death. On this account he said also: "When I found," says he "that he had committed nothing worthy of death.--Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord." This too is a proof of Paul's spotlessness, that the judge found nothing to say concerning him. "Therefore I have brought him forth," he says, "before you. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crime laid against him." Such were the great straits into which the Jews brought themselves and their rulers! What then? "Agrippa said to Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself." (ch. xxvi. I.) From his great desire to hear, the king permits him to speak. But Paul speaks out forthwith with boldness, not flattering, but for this reason saying that he is happy, namely, because (Agrippa) knew all. "Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself. I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews. Especially because I know thee to be expert in all questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently." (v. 2, 3.) And yet, had he been conscious of guilt, he should have feared at being tried in the presence of one who knew all the facts: but this is a mark of a clear conscience, not to shrink from a judge who has an accurate knowledge of the circumstances, but even to rejoice, and to call himself happy. "I beseech thee," he says, "to hear me patiently." Since he is about to lengthen out his speech, and to say something about himself, on this account, he premises an entreaty, and (then) says: "My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews: which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." (v. 4, 5.) Then how should I have become a seditious person, who when young was (thus) testified of by all? Then too from his sect: "after the most straitest sect" says he, "of our religion I lived." "What then, if though the sect indeed be worthy of admiration, thou art evil?" Touching this also I call all to witness--touching my life and conversation. "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" (v. 6-8.) Two arguments he lays down for the Resurrection: one, the argument from the prophets: and he does not bring forward any prophet (in particular,) but the doctrine itself as held by the Jews: the other and stronger one, the argument from the facts--(especially from this,) that Christ Himself held discourse with him. And he lays the ground for this by (other) arguments, relating accurately his former madness. Then too, with high commendation of the Jews, he says, "Night and day," says he, "serving (God) look to attain unto." So that even if I had not been of unblemished life, it is not for this (doctrine) that I ought to be brought to trial:-- "for which hope, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews." And then another argument "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" Since, if such an opinion had not existed, if they had not been brought up in these dogmas, but they were now for the first time brought in, perhaps some one might not have received the saying. Then he tells, how he persecuted: this also helps the proof: and he brings forward the chief priests as witnesses, and the "strange cities," and that he heard Him saying to him, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks," and shows the mercifulness of God, that, though being persecuted He appeared (to men), and did that benefit not to me only, but also sent me as teacher to others: and shows also the prophecy, now come to pass, which he then heard, "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee." Showing all this, he says: "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art Thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; but rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee: delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins (v. 9-18):--observe how mildly he discourses--God, he says, said (this) to me, "that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are--sanctified by faith that is in Me." By these things, says he, I was persuaded, by this vision He drew me to Himself, and so persuaded me, that I made no delay. "Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." (v. 19, 20.) I therefore, who instructed others also concerning the most excellent way of living, how should I myself have become the author of sedition and contention? "For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." (v. 21, 22.) See how free from flattery his speech is, and how he ascribes the whole to God. Then his boldness--but neither do I now desist: and the sure grounds--for it is from the prophets that I urge the question, "Whether the Christ was to suffer:" then the Resurrection and the promise, "Whether He, as the first to rise from the dead, should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles." (v. 23.) Festus saw the boldness, and what says he? For Paul was all along addressing himself to the king--he was in a manner annoyed, and says to him, "Thou art beside thyself, Paul:" for, "while he thus discoursed, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself: much learning doth make thee mad." (v. 24.) What then says Paul? With gentleness, "I am not mad," says he, "most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." (v. 25.) Then too he gives him to understand why, turning from him, he addressed his speech to the king: "For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him: for this thing was not done in a corner." (v. 26.) He shows, that (the king) knows all perfectly; at the same time, all but saying to the Jews, And ye indeed ought to have known these things--for this is the meaning of that which he adds, "For this thing was not done in a corner. And Agrippa, said to Paul, En oli'gw(i) thou persuadest me to be a Christian." What is en oli'gw(i)? "Within a little, para` mikro'n. "And Paul said, I could pray to God," kai` en @@@oli'gw(i) @@@kai` @@@pollw(i)^, (that is) "I could pray to God," for my part, not "in little" (but "in much "): he does not simply pray, he prays (not briefly, but) with largeness--"that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were such as I am."[*] Then he adds, "except these bonds;" and yet it was matter of glory; true, but looking to their notion of it, therefore says he, "except these bonds." (v. 27-29.)
(Recapitulation.) "And on the morrow," etc. (v. 23.) The Jews desisted ever since Paul exercised his right of appeal. Then also for him the theatre becomes a splendid one: "with great pomp" they were present. "And Festus said," etc. "The whole multitude of the Jews--"not some of them only, and others not so--"both at Jerusalem, and also here," they said "that he ought not to live any longer." (v. 24.) "And I having found," etc. It shows that he did right in appealing to Caesar. For if though they had no great matter to allege against him, yet those (at Jerusalem) were mad against him, with good reason may he go to Caesar. "That after examination had by you," he says, "I may get somewhat to write." Observe how the matter is repeatedly put to the test. The Jews therefore may thank themselves for this vindication (of Paul), which would come to the ears of those also who were at Rome. See how they become the unwilling heralds both of their own wickedness and of Paulus virtue, even to the emperor himself: so that Paul was carried away (to Rome)with more renown than if he had gone thither without bonds: for not as an impostor and a deceiver, after so many judges had acquitted him, was. he now carried thither. Quit therefore of all charges, among those with whom he was bred and born, and not only so, (but) thus free from all suspicion, he makes his appearance at Rome. "Then Paul," etc. (ch. xxvi. I-3.) And he said not, Why is this? once for all I have appealed to Caesar: I have been tried many times: when will there be an end of this? but what did he? Again he is ready to render an account, and that, before the man who was the best informed on the subject; and with much boldness, seeing they were not his judges to condemn him: but still, though they were not his judges, since that declaration was in force, "Unto Caesar shalt thou go, he renders an account and gives full answers, "touching all the things," and not merely on one and another here and there. They accuse me of sedition, accuse me of heresy, accuse me that I have profaned the temple: "touching all these things I answer for myself:" now that these are not things in accordance with my ways, my accusers themselves are witnesses: "my manner of life from my youth," etc. (v. 4.) which is what he says on a former occasion "Being a zealot." (ch. xxii. 3.) And when the whole people was present, then he challenges their testimony: not before the tribunal, but before Lysias, and again here, when more were present: whereas in that hearing there needed not much vindication of himself, since Lysias' letter exculpated him. "Know all the Jews," he says, "which knew me from the beginning."And he does not say what kind of life his was, but leaves it to their own conscience, and lays the whole stress on his sect, as he would not have chosen that sect, if he had been a man of evil disposition and bad character (@@@ponhro`s @@@kai` @@@mokthhro's). "But, for this hope" (Mss. and Edd. @@@haire'sews) he says, "I stand and am judged." (v. 6, 7.) This hope is honored among themselves also, because of this they pray, because of tiffs they worship, that unto this they may attain: this same do I show forth. Why then, it is acting like madmen, to be doing all things for the sake of attaining to this, and yet to persecute him who believes in the same. "I indeed thought with myself," that is, I determined, "to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." (v. 9.) I was not one of Christ's disciples: among those who fought against Him, was I. Whence also he is a witness who has a right to be believed, because he, a man who was doing numberless things, makes war on the believers, persuading them to blaspheme, stirring up all against them, cities, rulers, and by himself doing all this of his own accord, was thus suddenly changed. Then again the witnesses, those who were with him: next he shows what just cause he had to be persuaded, both from the light, and from the prophets, and from the results, and from the things which have now taken place. See accordingly, how both from the prophets, and from these particulars, he confirms the proof to them. For that he may not seem to be broaching some novelty, although he had great things to say, yet he again takes refuge with the prophets, and puts this as a question for discussion. Now this had a stronger claim upon belief, as having actually come to pass: but since he alone saw (Christ), he again fetches proof of it from the prophets. And see how he does not discourse alike in the court of justice, and in the assembly (of his own people); there indeed he says, "ye slew Him:" but here no such thing, that he might not kindle their anger more: but he shows the same thing, by saying, "Whether the Christ was to suffer." He so frees them from accusations: for the prophets, he says, say this. Therefore receive ye also the rest. Since he has mentioned the vision, he then without fear goes on to speak also of the good wrought by it. "To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. For to this end have I appeared unto thee" (v. 1618), not to punish, but to make thee an Apostle. He shows the evils which possess unbelievers, "Satan, darkness;" the good things belonging to believers, light, God, "the inheritance of the saints. Whereupon, O king Agrippa," etc. (v. 19, 20.) He not only exhorts them to repent, but also to show forth a life worthy of admiration. And see how everywhere the Gentiles are admitted into connection with the people (Israel): for those who were present were of the Gentiles. "Testifying," he says, "both to great and small," (v. 22) that is, both to distinguished and undistinguished. This is also for the soldiers. Observe: having left the post of defendant, he took up that of teacher--and therefore also it is that Festus says to him, "Thou art beside thyself"--but then, that he may not seem to be himself the teacher, he brings in the prophets, and Moses: "Whether the Christ was to suffer, whether He as the first to rise from the dead should show light both to the people, and to the Gentiles." (v. 53.) "And Festus said with a loud voice"--in such anger and displeasure (did he speak)--"Paul, thou art beside thyself." What then said Paul? "I am not mad," etc. "For this thing," he says, "was not done in a corner." (v. 25, 26.) Here he speaks of the Cross, of the Resurrection: that the doctrine was come to every part of the world. "King Agrippa," he says, "believest thou"--he does not say, the Resurrection, but--"the prophets?" (v. 57.) Then he forestalls him, and says: "I know that thou believest." En oli'gw(i) (i.e. within a little,) "almost thou persuadeth the to be a Christian." (v. 28.) Paul did not understand what the phrase @@@en @@@oli'gw(i)( meant: he thought it meant @@@ex @@@oligou (i.e. with little cost or trouble), wherefore also he answers (as) to this: so unlearned was he. And he said not, I do not wish (that), but, "I pray that not only thou, but also all that hear." Mark how free from flattery his speech is.-- "I pray that this day they may be all such as I am, except these bonds." (v. 29.) He, the man that glories in his bonds, that puts them forth as a golden chain, deprecates them for these men: for they were as yet too weak in their minds, and it was rather in condescension that he so spake. For what could be better than those bonds which always in his Epistles he prefers (to all things else), saying, "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ:" (Eph. iii. I) and again, "On this account I am bound with this chain" (Acts xxviii. 20), "but the word of God is not bound;" and, "Even unto bonds, as an evil-doer." (2 Tim. ii. 9.) The punishment was twofold. For if indeed he had been so bound, as with a view to his good, the thing would have carried with it some consolation: but now (he is bound) both "as an evil-doer," and as with a view to very ill consequences; yet for none of these things cared he.
Such is a soul winged with heavenly love. For if those who cherish the foul (earthly passion which men call) love, think nothing either glorious of precious, but those things alone which tend to gratify their lust, they think both glorious and honorable, and their mistress is everything to them; much more do those, who have been taken captive by this heavenly love, think nothing of the cost (@@@ta` @@@epiti'mia). But if we do not understand what I am saying, it is no marvel, while we are unskilled in this Divine Wisdom. For if any one be caught with the fire of Christ's love, he becomes such as a man would become who dwelt alone upon the earth, so utterly careless is he for glory or disgrace: but just as if he dwelt alone, he would care for nothing, no more does he in this case. As for trials, he so despises them, both scourges and imprisonments, as though the body in which he suffers these things were another's and not his own, or as though he had got a body made of adamant: while as for the sweet things of this life, he so laughs them to scorn, is so insensible to them, as we are insensible of dead bodies, being ourselves dead. He is as far from being taken captive by any passion, as the gold refined in the fire and purified is free from alloy. For even as flies would not dart into the midst of a flame, but fly from it, so the passions dare not even to come near this man. Would that I could bring forward examples of all this from among ourselves: but since we are at a loss for such, we must needs betake ourselves to this same Paul. Observe him then, how he felt towards the whole world. "The world is crucified unto me," he says, "and I unto the world" (Gal. vi. 14): I am dead to the world, and the world is dead to me. And again: "It is no longer. I that live, but Christ liveth in me.(ib. ii. 20.) And, to show you that he was as it were in solitude, and so looked upon the things present, hear himself saying, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." (2 Cor. iv. 18.) What sayest thou? Answer me. And yet what thou sayest is the contrary; thou seest the things invisible, and the visible thou seest not. Such eyes as thou hadst gotten, such are the eyes which are given by Christ: for as these bodily eyes see indeed the things that are seen, but things unseen they see not: so those (heavenly eyes) do the contrary: none that beholds the invisible things, beholds the visible: no one beholding the things seen, beholds the invisible. Or is not this the case with us also? For when having turned our mind inwards we think of any of the unseen things, our views become raised above the things on earth. Let us despise glory: let us be willing to be laughed at rather than to be praised. For he indeed who is laughed at is nothing hurt: but he who is praised is much hurt. Let us not think much of those things which terrify men, but as we do in the case of children, this let us do here: namely, if we see any one terrifying children, we do not hold that man in admiration: since in fact whoever does frighten, only frightens children; for were it a man, he could not frighten him. Just as those who frighten (children in sport), do this either by drawing up their eyelids, or by otherwise distorting their face, but with the eye looking naturally and mild they would not be able to do this: so these others do this, by distorting their mental vision (@@@to` @@@dioratiko`n @@@th^s @@@dianoi'as). So that of a mild man and beautiful in soul nobody would be afraid; on the contrary, we all respect him, honor and venerate him. See ye not, how the man who causes terror is also an object of hatred and abhorrence to us all? For of those things which are only able to terrify what do we not turn away from? Is it not so with wild beasts, with sounds, with sights, with places, with the air, such as darkness? Let us not therefore think it a great thing, if men fear us. For, in the first place, no man indeed is frightened at us: and, secondly, it is no great thing (if they were). Virtue is a great good: and see how great. However wretched we may deem the things by means of which it consists, yet we admire virtue itself, and count them blessed (that have it). For who would not count the patient sufferer blessed, although poverty and such like things seem to be wretched? When therefore it shines forth through those things which seem to be wretched, see how surpassingly great this is! Thinkest thou much, O man, because thou art in power? And what sort of power? say, was it conferred by appointment? (If so,) of men thou hast received power: appoint thyself to it from within. For the ruler is not he who is so called, but he who is really so. For as a king could not make a physician or an orator, so neither can he make a ruler: since it is not the (imperial)letters nor the name that makes a ruler. For, if you will, let any man build a medicine-shop, let him also have pupils, let him have instruments too and drugs, and let him visit those who are sick: are these things sufficient to make a physician? By no means: but there is need of art, and without that, not only do these things profit nothing, but they even hurt: since it were better that he who is not a physician should not even possess medicines. He that possesses them not, neither saves nor destroys: but he that possesses them, destroys, if he knows not how to use them: since the healing power is not only in the nature of the medicines, but also in the art of the person applying them: where this is not, all is marred. Such also is the ruler: he has for instruments, his voice, anger, executioners, banishments, honors, gifts, and praises; he has also for medicines., the law; has also for his patients, men; for a place to practise in, the court of justice; for pupils, he has the soldiers: if then he know not the science of healing, all these profit him nothing. The judge is a physician of souls, not of bodies: but if this art of healing the bodies needs so much care, much more that of healing the soul, since the soul is of more importance than the body. Then not the mere having the name of ruler is to be a ruler: since others also are called by great names: as Paul, Peter, James, and John: but the names do not make them that which they are called, as neither does my name make me (to be that which John was); I bear indeed the same name with that blessed man, but I am not the same thing (@@@homw'numos, @@@ou @@@mh`n @@@sunw'numos), I am not John, but am called so. In the same way they are not rulers, but are called so. But those others are rulers even without these adjuncts, just as also a physician, though he may not actually practise his science, yet if he have it in his soul, he is a physician. Those are rulers, who bear rule over themselves. For there are these four things, soul, family; city, world: and the things form a regular progression (@@@hodw(i)^ @@@probai'nei). He therefore that is to superintend a family, and order it well, must first bring his own soul into order; for it is his family: but if he cannot order his own family, where there is but one soul, where he himself is master, where he is always along with himself, how shall he order others? He that is able to regulate his own soul, and makes the one part to rule, the other to be subject, this man will be able to regulate a family also: but he that can do this by a family, can do it by a city also: and if by a city, then also by the world. But if he cannot do this for his own soul, how then shall he be able to do it for the world? These things have been spoken by me, that we may not be excited about offices of rule; that we may know what ruling is: for this (which is so called) is not ruling, but a there object of derision, mere slavery, and many other names one might call it by. Tell me, what is proper to a ruler? is it not to help one's subjects, and to do them good? What then, if this be not the case? how shall he help others, who has not helped himself? he who has numberless tyrannies of the passions in his own soul, how shall he root out those of others? Again, with respect to "luxury" or delightful living: the true luxury or delight is not this (which is so called), but quite another thing. For as we have shown that the ruler is not he who is so called, but another (who has something more than the name), so the person who lives indeed in delight is another sort of person (than he whom we so describe). For "luxury" or delightful living seems indeed to be, the enjoying pleasure and the gratifying the belly: yet it is not this thing, but the contrary: it is, to have a soul worthy of admiration, and to be in a state of pleasure. For let there be a man eating, drinking, and wantoning; then let him suffer cares and loss of spirits: can this man be said to be in a state of delight? Therefore, it is not eating and drinking, it is the being in pleasure, that makes true luxury or delightful living. Let there be a man who gets only dry bread, and let him be filled with gladness: is not this pleasure? Well then, it is the true luxury. Let us see then, to whom this befalls--whether to the rich, or to those who are not rich? Neither to the one part altogether, nor to the other, but to those who so order their own souls, that they may not have many grounds for sorrows. And where is such a life as this to be found? for I see you all eager and Wishing to hear what this life is which has no sorrows. Well then, let this be acknowledged first by you, that this is pleasure, this the true luxury, to have no sorrow to cause annoyance; and ask not of me meats, and wine, and sauces, and silken robes, and a sumptuous table. But if I shall show that apart from all these such a life as that is present (within our reach), then welcome thou this pleasure, and this life: for the most part of painful things happen to us from our not calculating things as we ought. Who then will have the most sorrows--he that cares for none of these things, or he that cares for them? He that fears changes, or he that does not fear? He that is in dread of jealousy, of envy, of false accusations, of plottings, of destruction, or he that stands aloof from these fears? He that wants many things, or he that wants nothing? He that is a slave to masters without number, or he that is a slave to none? He that has need of many things, or he that is free? He that has one lord to fear, or he that fears despots innumerable? Well then, greater is the pleasure here. This then let us pursue, and not be excited about the things present: but let us laugh to scorn all the pomp of life, and everywhere practise moderation, that we may be enabled so to pass through this life, that it may he without pain, and to attain unto the good things promised, 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 LIII: ACTS XXVI. 30-32.
"And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: and when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar."
SEE how again also they pass sentence in his favor, and after having said, "Thou art beside thyself," (v. 24) they acquit him, as undeserving not only of death, but also of bonds, and indeed would have released him entirely, if he had not appealed to Caesar. But this was done providentially, that he should also depart with bonds. "Unto bonds," he says, "as an evil doer." (1 Tim. ii. 9.) For if his Lord "was reckoned among the transgressors" (Mark xv. 28), much more he: but as the Lord did not share with them in their character, so neither did Paul. For in this is seen the marvellous thing, the being mixed up with such, and vet receiving no harm from them. "And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia;one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we touched at Sidon." (ch. xxvii. 1-3.) See how far Aristarchus also accompanies Paul. To good and useful purpose is Aristarchus present, as he would take back the report of all to Macedonia. "And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. Julius gave Paul liberty," it says, acting "courteously, that he might refresh himself;" as it was but natural that he should be much the worse from his bonds and the fear, and the being dragged hither and thither. See how the writer does not hide this either, that Paul wished" to refresh himself. And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary." (v. 4.) Again trials, again contrary winds. See how the life of the saints is thus interwoven throughout: escaped from the court of justice, they fall in with shipwreck and storm. "And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pam-phylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein." (v. 5, 6.) "A ship of Alexandria," it says. It is likely that both those (in the former ship) would bear to Asia the report of what had befallen Paul, and that these would do the same in Lycia. See how God does not innovate or change the order of nature, but suffers them to sail into the unfavorable winds. But even so the miracle is wrought. That they may sail safely, He did not let them go out in the (open) sea, but they always sailed near the land. "And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; and, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them." (v. 7-9.) By "the fast" here, I suppose he means that of the Jews.[*] For they departed thence a long time after the Pentecost, so that it was much about midwinter that they arrived at the coasts of Crete. And this too was no slight miracle, that they also should be saved on his account. "Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the southwest and northwest. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close to Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.[t] And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive" (R. V. "were driven.") (v. 10-15.) Paul therefore advised them to remain, and he foretells what would come of it: but they, being in a hurry, and being prevented by the place, wished to winter at Phenice. Mark then the providential ordering of the events: first indeed, "when the south wind blew softly, supposing they had obtained their purpose," they loosed the vessel, and came forth; then when the wind bore down upon them, they gave way to it driving them, and were with difficulty saved. "And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands,[tt] strake sail,[s] and so were driven. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss." (v. 16-21.) Then after so great a storm he does not speak as insultingly over them, but as wishing that at any rate he might be believed for the future. Wherefore also he alleges what had taken place for a testimony of the truth of what was about to be said by him. "And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss or any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island." (v. 22-26.) And he foretells two things; both that they must be cast upon an island, and that though the ship would be lost, those who were in it should be saved--which thing he spoke not of conjecture, but of prophecy--and that he "must be brought before Caesar." But this that he says, "God hath given thee all," is not spoken boastfully, but in the wish to win those who were sailing in the ship: for (he spoke thus), not that they might feel themselves bound to him, but that they might believe what he was saying. "God hath given thee; "as much (as to say), They are worthy indeed of death, since they would not listen to thee: however, this is done out of favor to thee. "But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; and sounded, and found it twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. Then fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off." (v. 27-32.) The sailors however, were about to escape, having no faith in what was said: but the centurion does believe Paul, For he says, If these flee, "ye cannot be saved:" so saying, not on this account, but that he might restrain them, and the prophecy might not fall to the ground. See how as in a church they are instructed by the calmness of Paul's behavior, how he saved them out of the very midst of the dangers. And it is of providential ordering that Paul is disbelieved, that after proof of the facts, he might be believed: which accordingly was the case. And he exhorts them again to take some meat, and they do as he bids them, and he takes some first, to persuade them not by word, but also by act, that the storm did them no harm, but rather was a benefit to their souls. "And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting having taken nothing." (v. 33.) (b) And how, say you, did they go without food, having taken nothing? how did they bear it? Their fear possessed them, and did not let them fall into a desire of food, being, as they were, at the point of extreme jeopardy; (f) but they had no care for food. "Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat," (v. 34-36) seeing that there was no question about their lives being saved. (d) "And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore." (v. 37-41.) "They made towards shore," having given the rudder-handles to the wind: for oftentimes they do it not in this way. They were borne along, having loosed the rigging, i.e. the sails. "And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmovable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves;" for when there is a strong wind, this is the consequence, the stern bearing the brunt (of the storm). (a) "And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape." (v. 42.) Again the devil tries to hinder the prophecy, and they had a mind to kill some, but the centurion suffered them not, that he might save Paul, so much was the centurion attached to him. "But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: and the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land." (v. 43, 44.) "And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita." (ch. xxviii. 1.) Do you mark what good came of the storm? Why then it was no mark of their being forsaken, that the storm came upon them. (c) Now this that happened was in consequence of the season of the year; but the wonder is greater, that at such a season they were saved from the midst of the dangers, both he, and for his sake the rest, (e) and this too in the Hadriatic. There were two hundred and seventy-six souls in all: no small matter this also, if indeed they believed. The voyage was at an unseasonable time. (g) It is natural to suppose they would ask the reason why they were sailing, and would learn all. Nor was it for nothing that the voyage was so protracted; it afforded Paul an opportunity for teaching.
(Recapitulation.) And Paul says, "I perceive that (this voyage will be) with hurt and loss." (v. 10.) And observe how unassuming the expression is. That he may not seem to prophesy, but to speak as of conjecture, "I perceive," says he. For they would not have. received it, had he said this at the outset. In fact he does prophesy on this former occasion, as he does afterward, and says (there), "The God whom I serve," leading them on. Then how comes it that it was not "with loss" (of any) "of their lives?" It would have been so, but that God brought them safe through it. For as far as depended on the nature of the thing, they had perished, but God prevented it. Then, to show that it was not from conjecture that he so spake, the master of the ship said the contrary (v. 11), and he a man of experience in the matter: so far was it from being the case that Paul's advice was given from conjecture. More over, the place suggested this same (which the master said), "being not commodious;" and it was evident that from conjecture "the more part advised" (v. 12) as they did, rather than Paul. Then, severe the storm (that ensued), deep the darkness: and that they may not forget, the vessel also goes to pieces, and the corn is flung out and all beside, that they may not have it in their power after this to be shameless. For this is why the vessel goes to pieces, and their souls are tightly braced. Moreover, both the storm and the darkness contributed not a little to his obtaining the hearing he did. Accordingly observe how the centurion does as he bids him, insomuch that he even let the boat go, and destroyed it. And if the sailors did not as yet comply with his bidding, yet afterwards they do so: for in fact this is a reckless sort of people. (v. 13-20.) "Sirs, ye should have hearkened to me," etc. (v. 21.) One is not likely to have a good reception, when he chides in the midst of calamity; but when he tells them what more there is (to come) of the calamity, and then predicts the good, then he is acceptable. Therefore he attacks them then first, when "all hope that they should be saved was taken away:" that none may say, Nothing has come of it. And their fear also bears witness. Moreover, the place is a trying one, for it was in the Adriatic, and then their long abstinence. They were in the midst of death. It was now the fourteenth day that they were going without food, having taken nothing. "Wherefore," said he, "I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health" (v. 34), that ye should eat, lest ye perish of hunger. Observe, his giving thanks after all that had happened strengthened them. For this showed an assured mind that they would be saved. (b) "Then were they all of good cheer; and they also took some meat." (v. 36.) And not only so, but henceforth they so cast all their care upon Paul, that they even cast out the corn (v. 37), being so many. (a) Two hundred and seventy-six souls (v. 38): whence had they victuals? (c) See how they do their part as men, and how Paul does not forbid them. "And when it was day," etc., "they loosed the rudder-bands." (v. 39, 40.) And the vessel goes to pieces in the daytime, that they may not be clean dissolved with the terror: that you may see the prophecy brought out as fact. "And the soldiers' counsel," etc. (v. 42.) Do you mark that in this respect also they were given to Paul? since for his sake the centurion suffered them not to be slain. So confessedly wicked do those men seem to me to have been: insomuch that they would have chosen even to slay them: but some swam on shore, others were borne on boards, and they all were thus saved, and the prophecy received accomplishment; (a prophecy,) although not solemn from length of time, since he did not deliver it a number of years before, but keeping close to the nature of the things themselves: (still a prophecy it was,) for all was beyond the reach of hope. And (so) it was through themselves being saved that they learnt who Paul was. But some one may say: why did he not save the ship? That they might perceive how great a danger they had escaped: and that the whole matter depended, not on the help of man, but on God's hand saving them independently of a ship. So that righteous men, though. they may be in a tempest, or on the sea, or in the deep, suffer nothing dreadful, but even save others together with themselves. If (here was) a ship in danger and suffering wreck, and prisoners were saved for Paul's sake, consider what a thing it is to have a holy man in a house: for many are the tempests which assail us also, tempests far more grievous than these (natural ones), but He can also give us to be delivered, if only we obey holy men as those (in the ship) did, if we do what they enjoin. For they are not simply saved, but themselves also contributed to other men's believing (@@@pi'stin @@@eish'negkan). Though the holy man be in bonds, he does greater works than those who are free. And look how this was the case here. The free centurion stood in need of his bound prisoner: the skilful pilot was in want of him who was no pilot--nay rather, of him who was the true pilot. For he steered as pilot not a vessel of this (earthly) kind, but the Church of the whole world, having learnt of Him Who is Lord also of the sea; (steered it,) not by the art of man, but by the wisdom of the Spirit. In this vessel are many shipwrecks, many waves, spirits of wickedness, "from within are fightings, from without are fears" (2 Cor. vii. 5): so that he was the true pilot. Look at our whole life: it is just such (as was this voyage). For at one time we meet with kindliness, at another with a tempest; sometimes from our own want of counsel, sometimes from our idleness, we fall into numberless evils; from our not hearkening to Paul, when we are eager to go somewhither, where he bids us not. For Paul is sailing even now with us, only not bound as he was then: he admonishes us even now, and says to those who are (sailing) on this sea, "take heed unto yourselves: for after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you" (Acts xx. 29): and again, "In the last times perilous times shall come: and men shall be lovers of their own selves, lovers of money, boasters." (2 Tim. iii. 2.) This is more grievous than all storms. Let us therefore abide where he bids us--in faith, in the safe haven: let us hearken unto him rather than to the pilot that is within us, that is, our own reason. Let us not straightway do just what this may suggest; not what the owner of the ship: no, but what Paul suggests: he has passed through many such tempests. Let us not learn (to our cost) by experience, but before the experience let us "avoid both harm and loss." Hear what he says: "They that will be rich fall into temptation." (1 Tim. vi. 9.) Let us therefore obey him; else, see what they suffered, because they did not take his counsel. And again he tells in another place what causes shipwrecks: "Who," he says, "have made shipwreck concerning the faith. But do thou continue in the things which thou hast learned and wast assured of." (1 Tim. i. 19.) Let us obey Paul: though we be in the midst of a tempest, we shall surely. be freed from the dangers: though we remain without food fourteen days, though hope of safety may have left us, though we be in darkness and mist, by doing his bidding, we shall be freed from the dangers. Let us think that the whole world is a ship, and in this the evildoers and those who have numberless vices, some rulers, others guards, others just men, as Paul was, others prisoners, those bound by their sins: if then we do as Paul bids us, we perish not in our bonds, but are released from them: God will give us also to him. Or think you not that sins and passions are grievous bonds? for it is not the hands only that are bound, but the whole man. For tell me, when any one possessed of much money uses it not, nor spends it, but keeps it close, is he not bound more grievously than any prisoner by his miserliness, a bond that cannot be broken? What again, when a man gives himself up to (the belief in) Fate, is not he too bound with other fetters? What, when he gives himself up to observations (of times)? What, when to omens? are not these more grievous than all bonds? What again, when he gives himself up to an unreasonable lust and to love? Who shall break in pieces these bonds for you? There is need of God's help that they may be loosed. But when there are both bonds and tempest, think how great is the amount of dangers. For which of them is not enough to destroy? The hunger, the tempest, the wickedness of those on board, the unfitness of the season? But against all these, Paul's glory stood its ground. So is it now: let us keep the saints near us, and there will be no tempest: or rather, though there be a tempest, there will be great calm and tranquillity, and freedom from dangers: since that widow had the saint for her friend, and the death of her child was loosed, and she received back her son alive again. (1 Kings xvii. 17.) Where the feet of saints step, there will be nothing painful; and if such should happen, it is for proving us and for the greater glory of God. Accustom the floor of thy house to be trodden by such feet, and an evil spirit will not tread there. For as where a sweet odor is, there a bad odor will not find place: so where the holy unguent is, there the evil spirit is choked, and it gladdens those who are near it, it delights, it refreshes the soul. Where thorns are, there are wild beasts: where hospitality is, there are no thorns: for almsgiving having entered in, more keenly than any sickle it destroys the thorns, more violently than any fire. Be not thou afraid: (the wicked one) fears the tracks of saints, as foxes do lions. For "the righteous," it says, "is as bold as a lion." (Prov. xxviii. 1.) Let us bring these lions into our house, and all the wild beasts are put to flight, the lions not needing to roar, but simply to utter their voice. For not so much does the roaring of a lion put the wild beasts to flight, as the prayer of a righteous man puts to flight evil spirits: let him but speak, they cower. And where are such men now to be found, you will say? Everywhere, if we believe, if we seek, if we take pains. Where hast thou sought, tell me? When didst thou take this work in hand? When didst thou make this thy business? But if thou seekest not, marvel not that thou dost not find. For "he that seeketh findeth" (Matt. vii. 7), not he that seeketh not. Listen to those who live in deserts: away with thy gold and silver: (such holy men) are to be found in every part of the world. Though thou receive not such an one in thy house, yet go thou to him, live with the man, be at his dwelling-place, that thou mayest be able to obtain and enjoy his blessing. For a great thing it is to receive a blessing from the saints: which let us be careful to obtain, that being helped by their prayers we may enjoy mercy from God, through the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY LIV: ACTS XX. 1.
"And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand."
"Showed," he says, "no little kindness to us--barbarians" (as they were(*))--" having kindled a fire:" else it were of no use that their lives be saved, if the wintry weather must destroy them. Then Paul having taken brushwood, laid it on the fire. See how active he is; observe how we nowhere find him doing miracles for the sake of doing them, but only upon emergency. Both during the storm when there was a cause he prophesied, not for the sake of prophesying, and here again in the first instance he lays on brushwood:-nothing for vain display, but (with a simple view) to their being preserved, and enjoying some warmth. Then a viper "fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live." (v. 4.) Well also was this permitted, that they should both see the thing and utter the thought, in order that, when the result ensued, there might be no disbelieving the miracle. Observe their good feeling (towards the distressed), in saying this (not aloud, but) among themselves--observe (also) the natural judgment clearly expressed even among barbarians, and how they do not condemn without assigning a reason. And these also behold, that they may wonder the more. "And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god." (v. 5, 6.) They expected him, it says, to fall down dead: and again, having seen that nothing of the kind happened to him, they said, He is a god. Again (viz. as in ch. xiv. 11), another excess on the part of these men. "In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him." (v. 7, 8.) Behold again another hospitable man, Publius, who was both rich and of great possessions: he had seen nothing, but purely out of compassion for their misfortune, he received them, and took care of them. So that he was worthy to receive kindness: wherefore Paul as a requital for his receiving them, "healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary" (v. 9, 10), both us and the rest. See how when they were quit of the storm, they did not become(1) more negligent, but what a liberal entertainment was given to them for Paul's sake: and three months were they there, all of them provided with sustenance. See how all this is done for the sake of Paul, to the end that the prisoners should believe, and the soldiers, and the centurion. For if they were very stone, yet from the counsel they heard him giving, and from the prediction they had heard him making, and from the miracles they knew him to have wrought, and from the sustenance they by his means enjoyed, they must have got a very high notion of him. See, when the judgment is right, and not preoccupied by some passion, how immediately it gets right judgings, and gives sound verdicts. "And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.(*) And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage." (v. 11-15.) Already the preaching has reached to Sicily: see how it has run through (even to those lands): at Puteoli also they found some: others also came to meet them. Such was the eagerness of the brethren, it nothing disconcerted them, that Paul was in bonds. But observe also how Paul himself also was affected after the manner of men. For it says, "he took courage, when he saw the brethren." Although he had worked so many miracles, nevertheless even from sight he received an accession (of confidence). From this we learn, that he was both comforted after the manner of men, and the contrary. "And when we came to Rome, Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him." (v. 16.) Leave was given him to dwell by himself. No slight proof this also of his being held in much admiration: it is clear they did not number him among the rest. "And it came to pass, that after three days he called together them that were the chief of the Jews." After three days he called the chief of the Jews, that their ears might not be preoccupied. And what had he in common with them? for they would not (else) have been like to accuse him. Nevertheless, it was not for this that he cared; it was for the teaching that he was concerned, and that what he had to say might not offend them.
(Recapitulation.) "And the barbarians," etc. (v. 2.) The Jews then, beholding all the many miracles they did, persecuted and harassed (Paul); but the barbarians, who had seen none, merely on the ground of his misfortune, were kind to him.--"No doubt," say they, "this man is a murderer:" (v. 4). They do not simply pronounce their judgment, but say, "No doubt," (i.e.) as any one may see "and vengeance," say they, "suffereth him not to live." Why then, they held also the doctrine of a Providence, and these barbarians were far more philosophic than the philosophers, who allow not the benefit of a Providence to extend to things "below the moon:" whereas (these barbarians) suppose God to be present everywhere, and that although a (guilty) man may escape many (a danger), he will not escape in the end. And they do not assail him forthwith, but for a time respect him on account of his misfortune: nor do they openly proclaim their surmise, but speak it "among themselves: a murderer;" for the bonds led them to suspect this. "They showed no small kindness," and yet (some of them) were prisoners. Let those be ashamed that say, Do not do good to those in prison: let these barbarians shame us; for they knew not who these men were, but simply because they were in misfortune (they were kind): thus much they perceived, that they were human beings, and therefore they considered them to have a claim upon their humanity. "And for a great while," it says, "they expected that he would die." (v. 6.) But when he shook his hand, and flung off the beast, then they saw and were astonished. And the miracle did not take place suddenly, but the men went by the length of time, "after they had looked a great while," so plainly was there no deceit, no haste here (@@@sunarpagh'). "Publius," it says, "lodged them courteously" (v. 7): two hundred and seventy-six persons. Consider how great the gain of his hospitality: not as of necessity, not as unwilling, but as reckoning it a gain he lodged them for three days: thereafter having met with his requital, he naturally honored Paul much more, when the others also received healing. "Who also," it says, "honored us with many honors" (v. 10): not that he received wages, God forbid; but as it is written, "The workman is worthy of his meat. And when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary." (Matt. x. 10.) It is plain that having thus received them, they also received the word of the preaching: for it is not to be supposed, that during an entire three months they would have had all this kindness shown them,(1) had these persons not believed strongly, and herein exhibited the fruits (of their con version): so that from this we may see a strong proof of the great number there was of those that believed. Even this was enough to t establish (Paul's) credit with those (his fellow voyagers). Observe how m all this voyage they nowhere touched at a city, but (were cast) on an island, and passed the entire s winter (there, or) sailing--those being herein under training for faith, his fellow-voyagers, I mean. (a) "And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux." (v. 11.) Probably this was painted on it: so addicted were they to their idols. (d) "And when the south wind blew, we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome." (v. 13, 14.) (b) Observe them tarrying a while, and again hasting onwards.e) "And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and the Three Taverns" (v. 15): not fearing the danger. (c) Paul therefore was now so much respected, that he was even permitted to be by himself: for if even before this they used him kindly, much more would they now. (g) "He was suffered," it says, "to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept him." (v. 16.) That it might not be possible for any plot to be laid against him there either--for there could be no raising of sedition now. So that in fact they were not keeping Paul in custody, but guarding him, so that nothing unpleasant should happen: for it was not possible now, in so great a city, and with the Emperor there, and with Paul's appeal, for anything to be done contrary to order. So surely is it the case, that always through the things which seem to be against us, all things turn out for us. "With the soldier"--for he was Paul's guard. "And having called together the chief of the Jews" (v. 17), he discourses to them, who both depart gainsaying, and are taunted by him, yet they dare not say anything: for it was not permitted them to deal with his matter at their own will. For this is a marvellous thing, that not by the things which seem to be for our security, but by their very opposites, all comes to be for us. And that you may learn this--Pharaoh commanded the infants to be cast into the river. (Exod. 1. 22.) Unless the infants had been cast forth, Moses would not have been saved, he would not have been brought up in the palace. When he was safe, he was not in honor; when he was exposed, then he was in honor. But God did this, to show His riches of resource and contrivance. The Jew threatened him, saying, "Wouldest thou kill me?" (ib. ii. 14) and this too was of profit to him. It was of God's providence, in order that he should see that vision in the desert, in order that the proper time should be completed, that he should learn philosophy in the desert, and there live in security. And in all the plottings of the Jews against him the same thing happens: then he becomes more illustrious. As also in the case of Aaron; they rose up against him, and thereby made him more illustrious (Num. xvi. xvii.): that so his ordination should be unquestionable, that he might be held in admiration for the future also from the plates of brass (@@@tw^n @@@peta'lwn @@@tou^ @@@chalkou^). Of course you know the history: wherefore I pass over the narration. And if ye will, let us go over the same examples from the beginning. Cain slew his brother, but in this he rather benefited him: for hear what Scripture says, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me" (Gen. iv. 10): and again in another place, "To the blood that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Heb. xii. 24.) He freed him from the uncertainty of the future, he increased his reward: we have all learnt hereby what love God had for him. For what was he injured? Not a whit, in that he received his end sooner. For say, what do they gain, who die more slowly? Nothing: for the having good days does not depend on the living many years or few years, but in the using life properly. The Three Children were thrown into the furnace, and through this they became more illustrious: Daniel was cast into the pit, and thence was he made more renowned. (Dan. iii. and vi.) You see that trials in every case bring forth great good even in this life, much more in the life to come: but as to malice, the case is the same, as if a man having a reed should set himself to fight with the fire: it seems indeed to beat the fire, but it makes it brighter, and only consumes itself. For the malice of the wicked becomes food and an occasion of splendor to virtue: for by God's turning the unrighteousness to good account, our character shines forth all the more. Again, when the devil works anything of this kind, he makes those more illustrious that endure. How then, you will say, was this not the case with Adam, but, on the contrary, he became more disgraced? Nay, in this case of all others God turned (the malice of) that (wicked one) to good account: but if (Adam) was the worse for it, it was he that injured himself: for it is the wrongs that are done to us by others that become the means of great good to us, not so the wrongs which are done by ourselves. As indeed, because the fact is that when hurt by others, we grieve, but not so when hurt by ourselves, therefore it is that God shows, that he who suffers unjustly at the hands of another, gets renown, but he who injures himself, receives hurt: that so we may bear the former courageously, but not the latter. And besides, the whole thing there was Adam's own doing. Wherefore didst thou the woman's bidding? (Gen. iii. 6.) Wherefore when she counselled thee contrary to God), didst thou not repel her? Thou wast assuredly thyself the cause. Else, if the devil was the cause, at this rate all that are tempted ought to perish: but if all do not perish, the cause (of our destruction) rests with ourselves.(1) "But," you will say, "all that are tempted ought (at that rate) to succeed." No: for the cause is in ourselves. "At that rate it ought to follow that (some) perish without the devil's having anything to do with it." Yes: and in fact many do perish without the devil's being concerned in it: for surely the devil does not bring about all (our evil doings); no, much comes also from our own sluggishness by itself alone: and if he too is anywhere concerned as a cause, it is from our offering the occasion. For say, why did the devil prevail in Judas' case? When "Satan entered into him" (John xiii. 27), you will say. Yes, but hear the cause: it was because "he was a thief, and bare what was put in the bag." (ib. xii. 6.) It was he that himself gave the devil a wide room for entering into him: so that it is not the devil who puts into us the beginning, it is we that receive and invite him. "But," you will say, "if there were no devil, the evils would not have become great." True, but then our punishment would admit of no plea for mitigation: but as it is, beloved, our punishment is more mild, whereas if we had wrought the evils of ourselves, the chastisements would be intolerable. For say, if Adam, without any counsel, had committed the sin he did, who would have snatched him out of the dangers? "But he would not have sinned," you will say? What right hast thou to say this? For he who had so little solidity, that was so inert and so ready for folly as to receive such advice as this, much more would he without any counsel have become this (that he did become). What devil incited the brethren of Joseph to envy? If then we be watchful brethren, the devil becomes to us the cause even of renown. Thus, what was Job the worse for his falling into such helplessness of distress? "Speak not of this instance," you will say: "(Job was not the worse,) but the weak person is the worse." Yes, and the weak person is the worse, even if there be no devil. "But in a greater degree," you will say, "when there is the devil's power working along with him." True, but he is the less punished, when he has sinned through the devil's working with him; for the punishments are not the same for all sins. Let us not deceive ourselves: the devil is not the cause of our taking harm, if we be watchful:(1) rather what he does, is to awake us out of our sleep; what he does, is to keep us on the alert. Let us for a while examine these things: suppose there were no wild beasts, no irregular states of the atmosphere; no sicknesses, no pains, no sorrows, nor anything else of the kind: what would not man have become? A hog rather than a man, revelling in gluttony and drunkenness, and troubled by none of those things. But as it is, cares and anxieties are an exercise and discipline of philosophy, a method for the best of training. For say, let a man be brought up in a palace, having no pain, nor care, nor anxiety, and having neither cause for anger nor failure, but whatever he sets his mind upon, that let him do, in that let him succeed, and have all men obeying him: (see whether) such a man would not become more irrational than any wild beast. But as it is, our reverses and our afflictions are as it were a whetstone to sharpen us. For this reason the poor are for the most part wiser than the rich, as being driven about and tost by many waves. Thus a body also, being idle and without motion, is sickly and unsightly: but that which is exercised, and suffers labor and hardships, is more comely and healthy: and this we should find to hold also in the case of the soul. Iron also, lying unused, is spoilt, but if worked it shines brightly; and in like manner a soul which is kept in motion. Now these reverses are precisely what keeps the soul in motion. Arts again perish, when the soul is not active: but it is active when it has not everything plain before it: it is made active by adverse things. If there were no adverse things, there would be nothing to stir it: thus, if everything existed ready-made in beautiful sort, art would not have found wherein to exercise itself. So, if all things were level to our understanding, the soul would not find wherein to exert itself: if it had to be carried about everywhere, it would be an unsightly object. See you not, that we exhort nurses not to make a practice of carrying children always, that they may not bring them into a habit (of wanting to be carried) and so make them helpless? This is why those children which are brought up under the eyes of their parents are weak, in consequence of the indulgence, which by sparing them too much injures their health. It is a good thing, even pain in moderation; a good thing, care; a good thing, want; for(2) they make us strong: good also are their opposites: but each of these when in excess destroys us; and the one relaxes, but the other (by overmuch tension) breaks us. Seest thou not, that Christ also thus trains His own disciples? If they needed these things, much more do we. But if we need them, let us not grieve, but even rejoice in our afflictions. For these are remedies, answering to our wounds, some of them bitter, others mild; but either of them by itself would be useless. Let us therefore return thanks to God for all these things: for He does not suffer them to happen at random, but for the benefit of our souls. Therefore, showing forth our gratitude, let us return Him thanks, let us glorify Him, let us bear up courageously, considering that it is but for a time, and stretching forward our minds to the things future, that we may both lightly bear the things present, and be counted worthy to attain unto the good things to come, through the grace and mercy of His only begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY LV: ACTS XXVIII. 17-20.
"And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, thought I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had aught to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
He wished to exculpate both himself and others; himself, that they might not accuse him, and by so doing hurt themselves; and thoseothers), that it might not seem that the whole thing was of their doing. For it was likely that a report was prevalent, that he had been delivered up by the Jews; and this was enough to alarm them. He therefore addresses himself to this, and defends himself as to his own conduct.(*) "How then is it reasonable," it might be said, "that they should deliver thee up without a cause?" The Roman governors, he says, bear me witness, who wished to let me go. "How was it then that they did not let (thee) go?" "When the Jews spake against it," he says. Observe how he extenuates (in speaking of) their charges against him.(1) Since if he had wished to aggravate matters, he might have used them so as to bear harder upon them. Wherefore, he says, "I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar:" so that his whole speech is of a forgiving nature. What then? didst thou this, that thou mightest accuse them? No, he says: "Not that I had aught to accuse my nation of:" but that I might escape the danger. For it is for your sakes "that I am bound with this chain." So far am I, he says, from any hostile feeling towards you. Then they also were so subdued by his speech, that they too apologized for those of their own nation: "And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed or spake any harm of thee." (v. 21.) Neither through letters, nor through men, have they made known any harm of thee. Nevertheless, we wish to hear from thyself: ''But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest" (v. 22): and then forestalled him by showing their own sentiments. "For as concerning this sect, it is known to us, that everywhere it is spoken against. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses and out of the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." (v. 23, 24.) They said not, we speak against it, but "it is spoken against." Then he did not immediately answer, but gave them a day, and they came to him, and he discoursed, it says, "both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the Prophets. And some believed, and some be-believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (v. 25-27.) But when they departed, as they were opposed to each other, then he reproaches them, not because he wished to reproach those (that believed not), but to confirm these (that believed). "Well said Esaias," says he to them. So that to the Gentiles it is given to know this mystery. No wonder then, if they did gainsay: this was foretold from the first. Then again he moves their jealousy (on the score) of them of the Gentiles. "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Amen." (v. 28-31.) It shows the freedom he had now: without hindrance in Rome, he who had been hindered in Judea; and he remained teaching there for two years. What of the (years) after these?(1)
(Recapitulation.) (d) "Who having examined me," says he, "found nothing in me" (v. 18). When those ought to have rescued, they "delivered (him) into the hands of the Romans." And such the superabundance,(2) * * because those had not power to condemn but delivered him prisoner. "Not as having aught to accuse my nation of," (v. 19) am I come. See what friendliness of expression "my nation:" he does not hold them as aliens. He does not say, I do not accuse, but, "I have not (whereof) to accuse:" although he had suffered so many evils at their hands. But nothing of all this does he say, nor make his speech offensive: neither does he seem to be sparing them as matter of favor. For this was the main point, to show that they delivered him prisoner to the Romans,(3) when those ought to have condemned him. (a) "For this cause," he says, "I wished to see you" (v. 20): that it might not be in any man's power to accuse me, and to say what (naturally) might suggest itself (@@@ta` @@@parista'mena), that having escaped their hands I have come for this: not to bring evils upon others, but myself fleeing from evils. "I was compelled to appeal unto Cęsar." Observe them also speaking more mildly to him. "We beg," say they: and wish to speak in exculpation of those (at Jerusalem). (e) Whereas they ought to accuse them, they plead for them: by the very fact of their exonerating them, they do in fact accuse them.(4) (b) For this very thing was a proof that they knew themselves exceedingly in the wrong. Had they been confident, they would at any rate have done this, so that he should not have it in his power to make out his story in his own way, and besides they shrank from coming. And by their many times attempting they showed * * (f) "As for this sect, it is known to us," say they, "that it is everywhere spoken against." (v. 21, 21.) (*) True, but (people) are also everywhere persuaded (as, in fact, here), "some were persuaded, and some believed not. And when they had appointed him a day," etc. (v. 23-25.) See again how not by miracles but by Law and Prophets he puts them to silence, and how we always find him doing this. And yet he might also have wrought signs; but then it would no longer have been matter of faith. In fact, this (itself) was a great sign, his discoursing from the Law and the Prophets. Then that you may not deem it strange (that they believed not), he introduces the prophecy which saith "Hearing ye shall hear and not understand," more now than then: "and ye shall see and not perceive" (v. 26) more now than then. This is not spoken for the former sort, but for the unbelievers. How then? Was it contrary to the prophecy, that those believed? ("Go,") it says, "unto this people" (that is), to the unbelieving people. He did not say this to insult them, but to remove the offence. "Be it known then," he says, "unto you, that unto the Gentiles is sent the salvation of God. They," says he, "will hear it too." (v. 28.) Then why dost thou discourse to us? Didst thou not know this? Yes, but that ye might be persuaded, and that I might exculpate myself, and give none a handle (against me). (c) The unbelieving were they that withdrew. But see how they do not now form plots against him. For in Judea they had a sort of tyranny. Then wherefore did the Providence of God order that he should go thither, and yet the Lord had said, "Get thee out quickly from Jerusalem?" (ch. xxii. 18.) That both their wickedness might be shown and Christ's prophecy made good, that they would not endure to hear him: and so that all might learn that he was ready to suffer all things, and that the event might be for the consolation of those in Judea: for there also (the brethren) were suffering many grievous evils. But if while preaching the Jewish doctrines, he suffered thus, had he preached the doctrines of the glory of Christ, how would they have endured him? While "purifying himself" (ch. xxi. 26) he was intolerable, and how should he have been tolerable while preaching? What(1) lay ye to his charge? What have ye heard? He spoke nothing of the kind. He was simply seen, and he exasperated all against him. Well might he t then be set apart for the Gentiles: well might he be sent afar off: there also destined to discourse to the Gentiles. First he calls the Jews, then having shown them the facts he comes to the Gentiles. (ch. xxiv. 18.) "Well spake the Holy Ghost," etc. But this saying, "The Spirit said," is nothing wonderful: for an angel also is said to say what the Lord saith: but(2) He (the Spirit) not so. When one is speaking of the things said by the angel, one does not say, Well said the angel, but, Well said the Lord. "Well said the Spirit:" as much as to say, It is not me that ye disbelieve. But God foreknew this from the first. "He discoursed," it says, "with boldness, unhindered" (v. 31): for it is possible to speak with boldness, yet hindered. His boldness nothing checked: but in fact he also spoke unhindered. (c) "Discoursed,(3)" it says, "the things concerning the kingdom of God:" mark, nothing of the things of sense, nothing of the things present. (f) But of his affairs after the two years, what say we? (b) (The writer) leaves the hearer athirst for more: the heathen authors do the same (in their writings), for to know everything makes the reader dull and jaded. Or else he does this, (e) not having it in his power to exhibit it from his own personal knowledge. (a) Mark the order of God's Providence,(4) "I have been much hindered from coming unto you . . . having a great desire these many years to come unto you." (Rom xv. 22, 23.) (d) But he fed them with hopes. (g) I am in haste to go to Spain, and "I hope," says he, "to see you in my journey, and to be brought thitherward on my journey by you, if first I be filled with your company in some measure." (ib. 24.) (i) Of this he says, I will come and rest together with you "in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel" (ib. 29): and again "I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints" (ib. 25): this is the same that he has said here, "To do alms to my nation I came." (Acts xxiv. 17.) (h) Do you mark how he did not foresee everything--that sacred and divine head, the man higher than the heavens, that had a soul able to grasp all at once, the holder of the first place-- Paul? The man whose very name, to them that know him, suffices for rousing of the soul, for vigilance, for shaking off all sleep! Rome received him bound coming up from the sea, saved from a ship-wreck--and was saved from the shipwreck of error. Like an emperor that has fought a naval battle and overcome, he entered into that most imperial city. (k) He was nearer now to his crown. Rome received him bound, and saw him crowned and proclaimed conqueror. There he had said, I will rest together with you: but this was the beginning of a course once more, and he added trophies to trophies, a man not to be overcome. Corinth kept him two years, and Asia three, and this city two for this time; a second time he again entered it, when also he was consummated. Thus he escaped then, and having filled the whole world, he so brought his life to a close. Why didst thou wish to learn what happened after these two years? Those too are such as these: bonds, tortures, fightings, imprisonments, lyings in wait, false accusations, deaths, day by day. Thou hast seen but a small part of it? How much soever thou hast seen, such is he for all the rest. As in the case of the sky, if thou see one part of it, go where thou wilt thou shalt see it such as this: as it is with the sun, though thou see its rays but in part, thou mayest conjecture the rest: so is it with Paul. His Acts thou hast seen in part; such are they all throughout, teeming with dangers. He was a heaven having in it the Sun of Righteousness, not such a sun (as we see): so that that man was better than the very heaven. Think you that this is a small thing-- when you say "The Apostle," immediately every one thinks of him (as), when you say "The Baptist," immediately they think of John? To what shall one compare his words? To the sea, or even to the ocean? But nothing is equal to them. More copious than this (sea) are (his) streams; purer and deeper; so that one would not err in calling Paul's heart both a sea and a heaven, the one for purity, the other for depth. He is a sea, having for its voyagers not those who sail from city to city, but those from earth to heaven: if any man sail in this sea, he will have a prosperous voyage. On this sea, not winds, but instead of winds the Holy and Divine Spirit wafts the souls which sail thereon: no waves are here, no rock, no monsters: all is calm. It is a sea which is more calm and secure than a haven, having no bitter brine, but a pure fountain both sweeter than * *, and brighter and more transparent than the sun: a sea it is, not having precious stones, nor purple dye as ours, but treasures far better than those. He who wishes to descend into this sea, needs not divers, needs not oil, but much loving- kindness he will find in it all the good things that are in the kingdom of Heaven. He will even be able to become a king, and to take the whole world into his possession, and to be in the greatest honor; he who sails on this sea will never undergo shipwreck, but will know all things well. But as those who are inexpert in this (our visible sea) are suffocated (in attempting to dive therein), so is it in that other sea: which is just the case with the heretics, when they attempt things above their strength. It behooves therefore to know the depth, or else not to venture. If we are to sail on this sea, let us come well-girded. "I could not," he says, "speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal." (1 Cor. iii. 1.) Let no one who is without endurance sail on this sea. Let us provide for ourselves ships, that is, zeal, earnestness, prayers, that we, may pass over the sea in quiet. For indeed this is the living water. Like as if one should get a mouth of fire, such a mouth does that man get who knows Paul well: like as if one should have a sharp sword, so again does such an one become invincible. And for the understanding of Paul's words there is needed also a pure life. For therefore also he said: "Ye are become such as have need of milk, seeing ye are dull of hearing." (Heb. v. 11, 12.) For there is, there is an infirmity of hearing. For as a stomach which is infirm could not take in wholesome food (which it finds) hard of digestion, so a soul which is become tumid and heated, unstrung and relaxed, could not receive the word of the Spirit. Hear the disciples saying, "This is a hard saying: who can hear it" (John vi. 60)? But if the soul be strong and healthy, all is most easy, all is light: it becomes more lofty and buoyant: it is more able to soar and lift itself on high. Knowing then these things, let us bring our soul into a healthy state: let us emulate Paul, and imitate that noble, that adamantine soul: that, advancing in the steps of his life, we may be enabled to sail through the sea of this present life, and to come unto the haven wherein are no waves, and 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 Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.