ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
HOMILIES ON SECOND TIMOTHY
[Translated by the Rev. James Tweed, M.A., of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge;
re-edited by the Rev. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.]
HOMILY I: 2 TIMOTHY i. 1, 2.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Jesus Christ, to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
WHAT is the reason of his writing this second Epistle to Timothy? He had said, "I hope to come unto thee shortly" (1 Tim. iii. 14), and as this had not taken place, instead of coming to him, he consoles him by a letter, when he was grieving perhaps for his absence, and oppressed by the cares of the government, which he had now taken in hand. For even great men, when they are placed at the helm, and are charged with the direction of the Church, feel the strangeness of their position, and are overwhelmed, as it were, by the waves of business. This was particularly the case when the Gospel was first preached, when the ground was everywhere unturned, and all was opposition and hostility. There were, besides, heresies commencing from the Jewish teachers, as he has shown in his former Epistle. Nor does he only comfort him by letters, he invites him to come to him: "Do thy diligence," he says, "to come shortly unto me," and, "when thou comest, bring with thee the books, but especially the parchments." (2 Tim. iv. 9 and 13.) And he seems to have written this Epistle when his end was approaching. For he says, "I am now ready to be offered up"; and again, "At my first answer no man stood with me." (2 Tim. iv. 6 and 16.) To set all this right, he both offers consolation from his own trials, and also says,
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus."
Thus at the very commencement he raises up his mind. Tell me not, he says, of the dangers here. These obtain for us eternal life, where there is no peril, where grief and mourning flee away. For He hath not made us Apostles only that we might encounter dangers, but that we might even suffer and die.(1) And as it would not be a consolation to recount to him his own troubles, but rather an increase of his grief, he begins immediately with offering comfort, saying, "According to the promise of life which is in Jesus Christ." But if it is a "promise," seek it not here. For, "hope that is seen is not hope." (Rom. viii. 24.)
Ver. 2. "To Timothy, my dearly beloved son."
Not merely his "son," but, "dearly beloved"; since it is possible for sons not to be beloved. Not such, he means, art thou; I call thee not merely a son, but a "dearly beloved son." As he calls the Galatians his children, but at the same time complains of them; "My little children," he says, "of whom I travail in birth again." (Gal. iv. 19.) And he bears particular testimony to his virtue by calling him "beloved." For where love does not arise from nature, it must arise from the merit of the object. Those who are born of us, are loved not only on account of their virtue, but from the force of nature; but when those who are of the faith are beloved, it is on account of nothing but their merit, for what else can it be? And this especially in the case of Paul, who never acted from partiality. And further, he shows by calling him his "beloved son," that it was not because he was offended with him, or despised him, or condemned him; that he did not come to him.
Ver. 2. "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord."
These things which he before prayed for, he again invokes upon him. And observe how, at the very beginning, he excuses himself for not having come to him, nor seen him. For his words, "Till I come," and, "Hoping to come to thee shortly," had led Timothy to expect his coming soon. For this he excuses himself, but he does not immediately mention the cause of his not coming, lest he should grieve him mightily. For he was detained in prison by the emperor. But when at the end of the Epistle he invited him to come to him, then he informed him of it. He does not at the outset plunge him into sorrow, but encourages the hope that he shall see him. "Greatly desiring to see thee," and "Do thy diligence to come unto me shortly." (2 Tim. i. 4, and iv. 9.) Immediately therefore he raises him up, and proceeds to praise him.
Ver. 3, 4. "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I might be filled with joy."
"'I thank God,' he says, 'that I remember thee,' so much do I love thee." This is a mark of excessive love, when a man glories in his affection from loving so much. "I thank God," he says, "Whom I serve": and how? "With a pure conscience," for he had not violated his conscience. And here he speaks of his blameless life, for he everywhere calls his life his conscience. Or because I never gave up any good that I purposed, for any human cause, not even when I was a persecutor. Wherefore he says, "I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Tim. i. 13); all but saying, "Do not suspect that it was done of wickedness." He properly commends his own disposition, that his love may appear sincere. For what he says is in fact, "I am not false, I do not think one thing and profess another." So in the book of Acts we read he was compelled to praise himself. For when they slandered him as a seditious man and an innovator, he said in his own defense, "Ananias said to me, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard." (Acts xxii. 14, 15.) In the same manner here, that he may not, as if he bad been forgetful, have the character of one void of friendship and conscience, he justly praises himself, saying, that "without ceasing I have remembrance of thee," and not simply that, but "in my prayers." That is, it is the business of my prayers, that which I constantly continue to perform. For this he shows by saying, "For this I besought God day and night, desiring to see thee." Mark his fervent desire, the intensity(1) of his love. And again, his humility, how he apologizes to his disciples, and then he shows that it was not on light or vain grounds; and this he had shown us before, but again gives proof of it. "Being mindful of thy tears." It was natural for Timothy, when parting from him,(2) to mourn and weep, more than a child torn away from the milk and from the breast of its mother. "That I may be filled with joy; greatly desiring to see thee." I would not willingly have deprived myself of so great a pleasure, though I had been of an unfeeling and brutal nature, for those tears coming to my remembrance would have been enough to soften me. But such is not my character. I am one of those who serve God purely; so that many strong motives urged me to come to thee. So then he wept. And he mentions another cause, and that of a consolatory kind.
Ver. 5. "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee."
This is another commendation, that Timothy came not of Gentiles, nor of unbelievers, but of a family that served Christ from the first. (Acts xvi. 1, 3.)
"Which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice."
For Timothy, it says, "was the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and believed." How a Jewess? how believing? Because she was not of the Gentiles, "but on account of his father, who was a Greek, and of the Jews that were in those quarters, he took and circumcised him." Thus, as these mixtures of Jews and Gentiles took place, the Law began gradually to be dissolved. And mark in how many ways he shows that he did not despise him. "I serve God," he says, "I have a true conscience" for my part, and thou hast thy "tears," and not thy tears only, but for "thy faith," because thou art a laborer for the Truth, because there is no deceit in thee. As therefore thou showest thyself worthy of love, being so affectionate, so genuine a disciple of Christ; and as I am not one of those who are devoid of affection, but of those who earnestly pursue the Truth; what hindered me from coming to thee?
"And I am persuaded that in thee also."
From the beginning, he means, thou hast had this excellency. Thou receivedst from thy forefathers the faith unfeigned. For the praises of our ancestors, when we share in them, redound also to us. Otherwise they avail nothing, but rather condemn us; wherefore he has said, "I am persuaded that in thee also." It is not a conjecture, he means, it is my persuasion; I am fully assured of it. If therefore from no human motive thou hast embraced it, nothing will be able to shake thy faith.
Ver. 6. "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands."
You see how greatly dispirited and dejected he considers him to be. He almost says, "Think not that I despise thee, but be assured that I do not condemn thee, nor have I forgotten thee. Consider, at any rate, thy mother and thy grandmother. It is because I know that thou hast unfeigned faith that I put thee in remembrance." For it requires much zeal to stir up the gift of God. As fire requires fuel, so grace requires our alacrity, that it may be ever fervent. "I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, that is in thee by the putting on of my hands," that is, the grace of the Spirit, which thou hast received, for presiding over the Church, for the working of miracles, and for every service. For this grace it is in our power to kindle or to extinguish; wherefore he elsewhere says," Quench not the Spirit." (1 Thess. v. 19.) For by sloth and carelessness it is quenched, and by watchfulness and diligence it is kept alive. For it is in thee indeed, but do thou render it more vehement, that is, fill it with confidence, with joy and delight. Stand manfully.
Ver. 7. "For God bath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
That is, we did not receive the Spirit, that we should shrink from exertion, but that we may. speak with boldness. For to many He gives a spirit of fear, as we read in the wars of the Kings. "A spirit of fear fell upon them." (Ex. xv. 16?) That is, he infused terror into them. But to thee He has given, on the contrary, a spirit of power, and of love toward Himself. This, then, is of grace, and yet not merely of grace, but when we have first performed our own parts. For the Spirit that maketh us cry, "Abba, Father," inspires us with love both towards Him, and towards our neighbor, that we may love one another. For love arises from power, and from not fearing. For nothing is so apt to dissolve love as fear, and a suspicion of treachery.
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind":(1) he calls a healthy state of the soul a sound mind, or it may mean sobriety of mind, or else a sobering of the mind, that we may be sober-minded, and that if any evil befall us, it may sober us, and cut off superfluities.
MORAL. Let us then not be distressed at the evils that happen to us. This is sobriety of mind. "In the season of temptation," he says, "make not haste." (Ecclus. ii. 2.) Many have their several griefs at home, and we share in each other's sorrows, though not in their sources. For one is unhappy on account of his wife, another on account of his child, or his domestic, another of his friend, another of his enemy, another of his neighbor, another from some loss. And various are the causes of sorrow, so that we can find no one free from trouble and unhappiness of some kind or other, but some have greater sorrows and some less. Let us not therefore be impatient, nor think ourselves only to be unhappy.
For there is no such thing in this mortal life as being exempt from sorrow. If not to-day, yet to-morrow; if not to-morrow, yet some later day trouble comes. For as one cannot sail, I mean, over a long sea, and not feel disquietude, so it is not possible to pass through this life, without experience of sorrow, yea though you name a rich man; for in that he is rich, he hath many occasions of inordinate desires,(2) yea, though the king himself, since he too is ruled by many, and cannot do all that he would. Many favors he grants contrary to his wishes, and more than all men is obliged to do what he would not. How so? Because he has many about him who wish to receive his gifts. And just think how(3) great is his chagrin, when he is desirous to effect something, but is unable, either from fear or suspicion, or hindered by enemies or by friends. Often when he has succeeded in achieving some end, he loses all the pleasure of it, from many becoming at enmity with him. Again, do you think that they are free from grief, who live a life of ease? It is impossible. As a man cannot escape death, so neither can he escape sorrow. How many troubles must they endure, which we cannot express in words, and which they only can know by experience! How many have prayed a thousand times to die, in the midst of their wealth and luxury! For luxury by no means puts men out of the reach of grief: it is rather the very thing to produce sorrows, diseases, and uneasiness, often when there is no real ground for it. For when such is the habit of the soul, it is apt to grieve even without a cause. Physicians say that from a weak state of the stomach arise sorrows(1) without any occasion; and does not the like happen to ourselves, to feel uneasy, without knowing any cause for it? In short, we can find no one who is exempted from sorrow. And if he has less occasion for grief than ourselves, yet he thinks otherwise, for he feels his own sorrows, more than those of other men. As they who suffer pain in any part of their bodies, think that their sufferings exceed their neighbor's. He that has a disease of the eye, thinks there is nothing so painful, and he that has a disorder in the stomach, considers that the sorest of diseases, and each thinks that the heaviest of sufferings, with which he is himself afflicted. So it is with sorrow, each thinks his own present grief the most severe. For of this he judges by his own experience. He that is childless considers nothing so sad as to be without children; he that is poor, and has many children, complains of the extreme evils of a large family. He who has hut one, looks upon this as the greatest misery, because that one, being set too much store by, and never corrected, becomes willful, and brings grief upon his father. He who has a beautiful wife, thinks nothing so bad as having a beautiful wife, because it is the occasion of jealousy and intrigue. He who has an ugly one, thinks nothing worse than having a plain wife, because it is constantly disagreeable. The private man thinks nothing more mean, more useless, than his mode of life. The soldier declares that nothing is more toilsome, more perilous, than warfare; that it would he better to live on bread and water than endure such hardships. He that is in power thinks there can be no greater burden than to attend to the necessities of others. He that is subject to that power, thinks nothing more servile than living at the beck of others. The married man considers nothing worse than a wife, and the cares of marriage. The unmarried declares there is nothing so wretched as being unmarried, and wanting the repose of a home. The merchant thinks the husbandman happy in his security. The husbandman thinks the merchant so in his wealth. In short, all mankind are somehow hard to please, and discontented and impatient. When condemning the whole race, he saith, "Man is a thing of nought" (Ps. cxliv. 4), implying that the whole kind is a wretched unhappy creature. How many long for old age! How many think youth a happy time! Thus each different period has its unhappiness. When we find ourselves censured on account of our youth, we say, why are we not old? and when our heads are hoary, we ask whither has our youth flown? Numberless, in short, are the occasions of sorrow. There is one path only by which this unevenness can be escaped. It is the path of virtue. Yet that too has its sorrows, only they are sorrows not unprofitable, but productive of gain and advantage. For if any one has sinned, he washes away his sin by the compunction that comes of his sorrow. Or, if he has grieved in sympathizing with a fallen brother, this is not without its recompense. For sympathy with those that are in misery gives us great confidence towards God.
Hear therefore what philosophy is taught by the example of Job in holy Scripture! Hear also what Paul saith: "Weep with them that weep"; and again, "Condescend to men of low estate." (Rom. xii. 15, 16.) For, by the communication of sorrow, the extreme burden of it is lightened. For as in the case of a heavy load, he that hears part of the weight relieves him who was bearing it alone, so it is in all other things.
But now, when any one of our relatives dies, there are many who sit by and console us. Nay, we often raise up even an ass that has fallen; hut when the souls of our brethren are falling. we overlook them and pass by, as if they were of less value than an ass. And if we see any one entering into a tavern indecently; nay, if we see him drunk, or guilty of any other unseemly action, we do not restrain him, we rather join him in it. Whence Paul has said: "They not only do these things, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. i. 32.) The greater part even form associations(2) for the purposes of drunkenness. But do thou, O man, form associations to restrain the madness of inebriety. Such friendly doings are beneficial to those who are in bonds or in affliction. Something of this kind Paul enjoined to the Corinthians, alluding to which he says, "That there be no gatherings when I come." (1 Cor. xvi. 2.) But now everything is done with a view to luxury, reveling, and pleasure. We have a common seat, a common table, we have wine in common, and common expenses, but we have no community of alms. Such were the friendly doings in the time of the Apostles; they brought all their goods into the common stock. Now I do not require you to bestow all, but some part. "Let each lay by him in store on the first day of the week, as God has prospered him," and lay it down as a tribute for the seven days. In this way give aims, whether more or less. "For thou shalt not appear before the Lord empty." (Ex. xxiii. 15.) This was said to the Jews, how much more then to us. For this cause the poor stand before the doors, that no one may enter empty, but each may do alms at his entrance. Thou enterest to implore mercy. First show mercy. He that comes later owes the more. For when we have been first, he that is second pays down more.(1) Make God thy debtor, and then offer thy prayers. Lend to Him, and then ask a return, and thou shalt receive it with usury. God wills this, and does not retract. If thou ask with alms, He holds himself obliged. If thou ask with alms, thou lendest and receivest interest. Yes, I beseech you! It is net for stretching out thy hands thou shalt be heard stretch forth thy hands, not to heaven, but to the poor. If thou stretch forth thy hand to the hands of the poor, thou hast reached the very summit of heaven. For He who sits there receives thine alms. But if thou liftest them up without a gift, thou gainest nothing. If the king, arrayed in purple, should come to thee and ask an alms, wouldest thou not readily give all that thou hast? But now when thou art entreated through the poor, not by an earthly but a heavenly King, dost thou stand regardless, and defer thy gift? What punishment then dost thou not deserve? For the being heard depends not upon the lifting up of thy hands, nor on the multitude of thy words, but upon thy works. For hear the prophet, "When ye" spread "forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear." (Isa. i. 15.) For he ought to be silent, who needs mercy, and not even to look up to heaven; he that hath confidence may say(3) much. But what says the Scripture, "Judge for the fatherless, plead for the widow, learn to do good." (Isa. i. 17.) In this way we shall be heard, though we lift not up our hands, nor utter a word, nor make request. In these things then let us be zealous, that we may obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
HOMILY II: 2 TIMOTHY i. 8-10.
"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ."
THERE is nothing worse than that man should measure and judge of divine things by human reasonings. For thus he will fall from that rock(2) a vast distance, and be deprived of the light. For if he who wishes with human eyes to apprehend the rays of the sun will not only not apprehend them, but, besides this failure, will sustain great injury; so, but in a higher degree, is he in a way to suffer this, and abusing the gift of God, who would by human reasonings gaze intently on that Light. Observe accordingly how Marcion, and Manes, and Valentinus, and others who introduced their heresies and pernicious doctrines(4) into the Church of God, measuring divine things by human reasonings, became ashamed of the Divine economy. Yet it was not a subject for shame, but rather for glorying; I speak of the Cross of Christ. For there is not so great a sign of the love of God for mankind, not heaven, nor sea, nor earth, nor the creation of all things out of nothing, nor all else beside, as the Cross. Hence it is the boast of Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Gal. vi. 14.) But natural men, and those who attribute to God no more than to human beings, stumble, and become ashamed. Wherefore Paul from the first exhorts his disciple, and through him all others, in these words: "Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of our Lord," that is,(5) Be not ashamed, that thou preachest One that was crucified, but rather glory in it." For in themselves death and imprisonment and chains are matters of shame and reproach. But when the cause is added before us, and the mystery viewed aright, they will appear full of dignity, and matter for boasting. For it was that death which saved the world, when it was perishing. That death connected earth with heaven, that death destroyed the power of the devil, and made men angels, and sons of God: that death raised our nature to the kingly throne. Those chains were the conversion of many. "Be not" therefore "ashamed," he says, "of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel"; that is, though thou shouldest suffer the same things, be not thou ashamed. For that this is implied appears from what he said above; "God hath given us a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind"; and by what follows, "Be thou partaker of the sufferings of the Gospel": not merely be not ashamed of them, but be not ashamed even to experience them.
And he does not say, "Do not fear," but, the more to encourage him, "be not ashamed," as if there were no further danger, if he could overcome the shame. For shame is only then oppressive, when one is overcome by it. Be not therefore ashamed, if I, who raised the dead, who wrought miracles, who traversed the world, am now a prisoner. For I am imprisoned, not as a malefactor, but for the sake of Him who was crucified. If my Lord was not ashamed of the Cross, neither am I of chains. And with great propriety, when he exhorts him not to be ashamed, he reminds him of the Cross. If thou art not ashamed of the Cross, he means, neither be thou of chains; if our Lord and Master endured the Cross, much more should we chains. For he who is ashamed of what He endured, is ashamed of Him that was crucified. Now it is not on my own account that I bear these chains; therefore do not give way to human feelings, but bear thy part in these sufferings. "Be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel." He says not this, as if the Gospel could suffer injury, but to excite his disciple to suffer for it.
"According to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."
More especially because it was a hard thing to say, "Be partakers of afflictions," he again consoles him.(1) Reckon that thou sustainest these things, not by thine own power, but by the power of God. For it is thy part to choose and to be zealous, but God's to alleviate sufferings and bid them cease.(2) He then shows him the proofs of His power. Consider how thou wast saved, how thou wast called. As he elsewhere says, "According to His power that worketh in us." (Eph. iii. 20.) So much was it a greater exercise of power to persuade the world to believe, than to make the Heavens. But how was he "called with a holy calling"?(3) This means, He made them saints, who were sinners and enemies. "And this not of ourselves, it was the gift of God." If then He is mighty in calling us, and good, in that He hath done it of grace and not of debt, we ought not to fear. For He Who, when we should have perished,(4) saved us, though enemies, by grace, will He not much more cooperate with us, when He sees us working? "Not according to our own works," he says, "but according to his own purpose and grace," that is, no one compelling, no one counseling Him, but of His own purpose, from the impulse of His own goodness, He saved us; for this is the meaning of "according to His own purpose." "Which was given us before the world began." That is, it was determined without beginning that these things should be done in Christ Jesus. This is no light consideration, that from the first He willed it. It was not an after-thought. How then is not the Son eternal? for He also willed it from the beginning.
Ver. 10. "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel."
Thou seest the power, thou seest the gift bestowed not by works, but through the Gospel. These are objects of hope: for both were wrought in His Body. And how will they be wrought in ours? "By the Gospel."
Ver. 11. "Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an Apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles."
Why does he so constantly repeat this, and call himself a teacher of the Gentiles? Because he wishes to persuade them that they also ought to draw close to the Gentiles. Be not therefore dismayed at my sufferings. The sinews of death are unstrung. It is not as a malefactor that I suffer, but because I am "a teacher of the Gentiles." At the same time he makes his discourse worthy of credit.
Ver. 12. "For the which cause I also suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed. For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
"I am not ashamed," he says. For are chains, are sufferings, a matter for shame? Be not then ashamed! Thou seest how he illustrates his teaching by his works. "These things," he says, "I suffer": I am cast into prison, I am banished; "For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him(1) against That Day." What is(2) "that which is committed"?(3) The faith, the preaching of the Gospel. He, who committed this to him, he says, will preserve it unimpaired. I suffer everything, that I may not be despoiled of this treasure, and I am not ashamed at these things, so long as it is preserved uninjured. Or he calls the Faithful the charge which God committed to him, or which he committed to God. For he says, "Now I commit you to the Lord." (Acts xx. 32.) That is, these things will not be unprofitable to me. And in Timothy is seen the fruit of the charge thus "committed." You see that he is insensible to sufferings, from the hope that he entertains of his disciples.
MORAL. Such ought a Teacher to be, so to regard his disciples, to think them everything. "Now we live," he says, "if ye stand fast in the Lord." And again, "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ?" (1 Thess. iii. 8, and ii. 19.) You see his anxiety in this matter, his regard for the good of his disciples, not less than for his own.(4) For teachers ought to surpass natural parents, to be more zealous than they. And it becomes their children to be kindly affectioned towards them. For he says, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls as they that must give account." (Heb. xiii. 17.) For say, is he subject to so dangerous a responsibility, and art thou not willing to obey him, and that too, for thy own benefit? For though his own state should be good, yet as long as thou art in a bad condition his anxiety continues, he has a double account to render. And consider what it is to be responsible and anxious for each of those who are under his rule. What honor wouldest thou have reckoned equal, what service, in requital of such dangers? Thou canst not offer an equivalent. For thou hast not yet devoted thy soul for him, but he lays down his life for thee, and if he lays it not down here, when the occasion requires it, he loses it There. But thou art not willing to submit even in words. This is the prime cause of all these evils, that the authority of rulers is neglected, that there is no reverence, no fear. He says, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves." But now all is turned upside down and confounded. And this I say not for the sake of the rulers; (for what benefit will they have of the honor they receive from us,(5) except so far as we are rendered obedient;) but I say it for your advantage. For with respect to the future, they will not be benefited by the honor done them, but receive the greater condemnation, neither will they he injured as to the future by ill treatment, but will have the more excuse. But all this I desire to be done for your own sakes. For when rulers are honored by their people, this too is reckoned against them; as in the case of Eli it is said, "Did I not choose him out of his father's house?" (1 Sam. ii. 27.) But when they are insulted, as in the instance of Samuel, God said, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me." (1 Sam. viii. 7.) Therefore insult is their gain, honor their burden. What I say, therefore, is for your sakes, not for theirs. He that honors the Priest, will honor God also; and he who has learnt to despise the Priest, will in process of time insult God. "He that receiveth you," He saith, "receiveth Me." (Matt. x. 40.) "Hold my priests in honor" (Ecclus. vii. 31?), He says. The Jews learned to despise God, because they despised Moses, and would have stoned him. For when a man is piously disposed towards the Priest, he is much more so towards God. And even if the Priest be wicked, God seeing that thou respectest him, though unworthy of honor, through reverence to Him, will Himself reward thee. For if "he that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward" (Matt. x. 41); then he who honoreth and submitteth and giveth way to the Priest shall certainly be rewarded. For if in the case of hospitality, when thou knowest not the guest, thou receivest so high a recompense, much more wilt thou be requited, if thou obeyest him whom He requires thee to obey. "The Scribes and Pharisees," He says, "sit in Moses' seat; all therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works." (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.) Knowest thou not what the Priest is? He is an Angel(6) of the Lord. Are they his own words that he speaks? If thou despisest him, thou despisest not him, but God that ordained him. But how does it appear, thou askest, that he is ordained of God? Nay, if thou suppose it otherwise, thy hope is rendered vain. For if God worketh nothing through his means, thou neither hast any Laver, nor art partaker of the Mysteries, nor of the benefit of Blessings; thou art therefore not a Christian. What then, you say, does God ordain all, even the unworthy? God indeed doth not ordain all, but He worketh through all, though they be themselves unworthy, that the people may be saved. For if He spoke, for the sake of the people, by an ass, and by Balaam, a most wicked man, much more will He speak by the mouth of the Priest. What indeed will not God do or say for our salvation? By whom doth He not act? For if He wrought through Judas and those other that "prophesied," to whom He will say," I never knew you; depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity" (Matt. vii. 22, 23); and if others "cast out devils" (Ps. vi. 8); will He not much more work through the Priests? Since if we were to make inquisition into the lives of our rulers, we should then become the ordainers(1) of our own teachers, and all would be confusion; the feet would be uppermost, the head below. Hear Paul saying, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment." (1 Cor. iv. 3.) And again, "Why dost thou judge thy brother?" (Rom. xiv. 10.) For if we may not judge our brother, much less our teacher. If God commands this indeed, thou doest well, and sinnest if thou do it not; but if the contrary, dare not do it, nor attempt to go beyond the lines that are marked out. After Aaron had made the golden calf, Corah, Dathan, and Abiram raised an insurrection against him. And did they not perish? Let each attend to his own department. For if he teach perverted doctrine, though he be an Angel, obey him not; but if he teach the truth, take heed not to his life, but to his words. Thou hast Paul to instruct thee in what is right both by words and works. But thou sayest, "He gives not to the poor, he does not govern well." Whence knowest thou this? Blame not, before thou art informed. Be afraid of the great account. Many judgments are formed upon mere opinion. Imitate thy Lord, who said, "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, and if not, I will know." (Gen. xviii. 21.) But if thou hast enquired, and informed thyself, and seen; yet await the Judge, and usurp not the office of Christ. To Him it belongs, and not to thee, to make this inquisition. Thou art an inferior servant, not a master. Thou art a sheep, be not curious concerning the shepherd, lest thou have to give account of thy accusations against him. But you say, How does he teach me that which he does not practice himself? It is not he that speaks to thee. If it be he whom thou obeyest, thou hast no reward. It is Christ that thus admonishes thee. And what do I say? Thou oughtest not to obey even Paul, if he speaks of himself, or anything human, but the Apostle, that has Christ speaking in him. Let not us judge one another's conduct, but each his own. Examine thine own life.
But thou sayest, "He ought to be better than I." Wherefore? "Because he is a Priest." And is he not superior to thee in his labors, his dangers, his anxious conflicts and troubles? But if he is not better, oughtest thou therefore to destroy thyself? These are the words of arrogance.(2) For how is he not better than thyself? He steals, thou sayest, and commits sacrilege! How knowest thou this? Why dost thou cast thyself down a precipice? If thou shouldest hear it said that such an one hath a purple robe,(3) though thou knewest it to be true, and couldest convict him, thou declinest to do it, and pretendest ignorance, not being willing to run into unnecessary danger. But in this case thou art so far from being backward, that even without cause thou exposest thyself to the danger. Nor think thou art not responsible for these words. Hear what Christ says, "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." (Matt. xii. 36.) And dost thou think thyself better than another, and dost thou not groan, and beat thy breast, and bow down thy head, and imitate the Publican?
And then thou destroyest thyself, though thou be better. Be silent, that thou cease not to be better. If thou speak of it, thou hast done away the merit; if thou thinkest it, I do not say so; if thou dost not think it, thou hast added much. For if a notorious sinner, when he confessed, "went home justified," he who is a sinner in a less degree, and is conscious of it, how will he not be rewarded? Examine thy own life. Thou dost not steal; but thou art rapacious, and overbearing, and guilty of many other such things. I say not this to defend theft; God forbid! deeply lament if there is any one really guilty of it, but I do not believe it. How great an evil is sacrilege, it is impossible to say. But I spare you. For I would not that our virtue should be rendered vain by accusing others. What was worse than the Publican? For it is true that he was a publican, and guilty of many offenses, yet because the Pharisee only said, "I am not as this publican," he destroyed all his merit. I am not, thou sayest, like this sacrilegious Priest. And dost not thou make all in vain?
This I am compelled to say, and to enlarge upon in my discourse, not so much because I am concerned for them, but because I fear for you, lest you should render your virtue vain by this boasting of yourselves, and condemnation of others. For hear the exhortation of Paul, "Let every one prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." (Gal. vi. 4.)
If you had a wound, tell me, and should go to a physician, would you stay him from salving and dressing your own wound, and be curious to enquire whether the physician had a wound, or not? and if he had, would you mind it? Or because he had it, would you forbear dressing your own, and say, A physician ought to be in sound health, and since he is not so, I shall let my wound go uncured? For will it be any palliation(1) for him that is under rule, that his Priest is wicked? By no means. He will suffer the destined punishment, and you too will meet with that which is your due. For the Teacher now only fills a place. For "it is written, They shall all be taught of God." (John vi. 45; Isa. liv. 13.) "Neither shall they say, Know the Lord. For all shall know Me from the least to the greatest." (Jer. xxxi. 34.) Why then, you will say, does he preside? Why is he set over us? I beseech you, let us not speak ill of our teachers, nor call them to so strict an account, lest we bring evil upon ourselves. Let us examine ourselves, and we shall not speak ill of others. Let us reverence that day, on which he enlightened(2) us. He who has a father, whatever faults he has, conceals them all. For it is said, "Glory not in the dishonor of thy father; for thy father's dishonor is no glory unto thee. And if his understanding fail, have patience with him." (Ecclus. iii. 10-12.) And if this be said of our natural fathers, much more of our spiritual fathers. Reverence him, in that he every day ministers to thee, causes the Scriptures to be read, sets the house in order for thee, watches for thee, prays for thee, stands imploring God on thy behalf, offers supplications for thee, for thee is all his worship. Reverence all this, think of this, and approach him with pious respect. Say not, he is wicked. What of that? He that is not wicked,(3) doth he of himself bestow upon thee these great benefits? By no means. Everything worketh according to thy faith. Not even the righteous man can benefit thee, if thou art unfaithful, nor the unrighteous harm thee, if thou art faithful. God, when He would save His people, wrought for the ark by Oxen.(4) Is it the good life or the virtue of the Priest that confers so much on thee? The gifts which God bestows are not such as to be effects of the virtue of the Priest. All is of grace. His part is but to open his mouth, while God worketh all: the Priest only performs a symbol.(5) Consider how wide was the distance between John and Jesus. Hear John saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee" (Matt. iii. 14), and, "Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose." (John i. 27.) Yet notwithstanding this difference, the Spirit descended. Which John had not. For "of His fullness," it is said, "we all have received." (John i. 16.) Yet nevertheless, It descended not till He was baptized. But neither was it John who caused It to descend. Why then is this done? That thou mayest learn that the Priest performs a symbol.(6) No man differs so widely from another man, as John from Jesus, and yet with him(7) the Spirit descended, that we may learn, that it is God who worketh all, that all is God's doing. I am about to say what may appear strange, but be not astonished nor startled at it. The Offering is the same, whether a common man, or Paul or Peter offer it. It is the same which Christ gave to His disciples, and which the Priests now minister. This is nowise inferior to that, because it is not men that sanctify even this, but the Same who sanctified the one sanctifies the other also. For as the words which God spake are the same which the Priest now utters, so is the Offering the same, and the Baptism, that which He gave. Thus the whole is of faith. The Spirit immediately fell upon Cornelius, because he had previously fulfilled his part, and contributed his faith. And this is His Body, as well as that. And he who thinks the one inferior to the other, knows not that Christ even now is present, even now operates. Knowing therefore these things, which we have not said without reason, but that we may conform your minds in what is right, and render you more secure for the future, keep carefully in mind what has been spoken. For if we are always hearers, and never doers, we shall reap no advantage from what is said. Let us therefore attend diligently to the things spoken. Let us imprint them upon our minds. Let us have them ever engraved upon our consciences, and let us continually ascribe glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
HOMILY III: 2 TIMOTHY i. 13-18.
"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost Which dwelleth in us. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well."
NOT by letters alone did Paul instruct his disciple in his duty, but before by words also which he shows, both in many other passages, as where he says, "whether by word or our Epistle" (2 Thess. ii. 15), and especially here. Let us not therefore suppose that anything relating to doctrine was spoken imperfectly. For many things he delivered to him without writing. Of these therefore he reminds him, when he says, "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me." After the manner of artists, I have impressed on thee the image of virtue, fixing in thy soul a sort of rule, and model, and outline of all things pleasing to God. These things then hold fast, and whether thou art meditating any matter of faith or love, or of a sound mind, form from hence your ideas of them. It will not be necessary to have recourse to others for examples, when all has been deposited within thyself.
"That good thing which was committed unto thee keep,"--how?--"by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." For it is not in the power of a human soul, when instructed with things so great, to be sufficient for the keeping of them. And why? Because there are many robbers, and thick darkness, and the devil still at hand to plot against us; and we know not what is the hour, what the occasion for him to set upon us. How then, he means, shall we be sufficient for the keeping of them? "By the Holy Ghost"; that is if we have the Spirit: with us, if we do not expel grace, He will stand by us. For, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." (Ps. cxxvii. 1.) This is our wall, this our castle, this our refuge. If therefore It dwelleth in us, and is Itself our guard, what need of the commandment? That we may hold It fast, may keep It, and not banish It by our evil deeds.
Then he describes his trials and temptations, not to depress his disciple, but to elevate him, that if he should ever fall into the same, he may not think it strange, when he looks back and remembers what things happened to his Teacher. What then says he? Since it was probable that Timothy might be apprehended, and be deserted, and be relieved by no friendly attention, or influence, or assistance, but be abandoned even by his friends and the faithful themselves, hear what he says, "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me." It seems that there were then in Rome many persons from the regions of Asia. "But no one stood by me," he says, no one acknowledged me, all were alienated. And observe the philosophy of his soul. He only mentions their conduct, he does not curse them, but he praises him that showed kindness to him, and invokes a thousand blessings upon him, without any curse on them. "Of whom is Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain. But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out diligently and found me." Observe how he everywhere speaks of the shame, and not of the danger, lest Timothy should be alarmed. And yet it was a thing that was full of peril. For he gave offense to Nero by making friends with one of his prisoners.(2) But when he was in Rome, he says, he not only did not shun intercourse with me, but "sought me out very diligently, and found me."
"The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well."
Such ought the faithful to be. Neither fear, nor threats, nor disgrace, should deter them from assisting one another, standing by them and succoring them as in war. For they do not so much benefit those who are in danger, as themselves, by the service they render to them, making themselves partakers of the crowns due to them. For example, is any one of those who are devoted to God visited with affliction and distress, and maintaining the conflict with great fortitude; whilst thou art not yet brought(3) to this conflict? It is in thy power if thou wilt, without entering into the course, to be a sharer of the crowns reserved for him, by standing by him, preparing his mind,(1) and animating and exciting him. Hence it is that Paul elsewhere says, "Ye have done well that ye did communicate with my affliction. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity." (Phil. iv. 14, 16.) And how could they that were far off share in the affliction of him that was not with them? How? He says, "ye sent once and again unto my necessities." Again he says, speaking of Epaphroditus, "Because he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, that he might supply your lack of service toward me." (Phil. ii. 30.) For as in the service of kings, not only those who fight the battle, but those who guard the baggage, share in the honor; and not merely so, but frequently even have an equal portion of the spoils, though they have not imbrued their hands in blood, nor stood in array, nor even seen the ranks of the enemy; so it is in these conflicts. For he who relieves the combatant, when wasted with hunger, who stands by him, encouraging him by words, and rendering him every service, he is not inferior to the combatant.
For do not suppose Paul the combatant, that irresistible and invincible one, but some one of the many, who, if he had not received much consolation and encouragement, would not perhaps have stood, would not have contended. So those who are out of the contest may perchance be the cause of victory to him, who is engaged in it, and may be partakers of the crowns reserved for the victor. And what wonder, if he who communicates to the living is thought worthy of the same rewards with those who contend, since it is possible to communicate after death even with the departed, with those who are asleep, who are already crowned, who want for nothing. For hear Paul saying, "Partaking in the memories of the Saints."(2) And how may this be done? When thou admirest a man,(3) when thou doest any of those acts for which he was crowned, thou art evidently a sharer in his labors, and in his crowns.
"The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day." He had compassion on me, he says, he shall therefore have the like return in that terrible Day, when we shall have need of much mercy. "The Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord." Are there two Lords then? By no means. But "to us there is one Lord Christ Jesus, and one God." (1 Cor. viii. 6.) Here those who are infected with the heresy of Marcion assail this expression; but let them learn that this mode of speech is not uncommon in Scripture; as when it is said, "The Lord said unto my Lord" (Ps. cx. 1); and again, "I said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord" (Ps. xvi. 2); and, "The Lord rained fire from the Lord." (Gen. xix. 24.) This indicates that the Persons are of the same substance, not that there is a distinction of nature. For we are not to understand that there are two substances differing from each other, but two Persons, each being of the same substance.
Observe too, that he says, "The Lord grant him mercy." For as he himself had obtained mercy from Onesiphorus, so he wished him to obtain the same from God. MORAL. And if Onesiphorus, who exposed himself to danger, is saved by mercy, much more are we also saved by the same. For terrible indeed, terrible is that account, and such as needs great love for mankind, that we may not hear that awful sentence, "Depart from me ... I never knew you, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. vii. 23); or that fearful word, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. xxv. 40): that we may not hear, "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed" (Luke xvi. 16): that we may not hear that voice full of horror, "Take him away, and cast him into outer darkness": that we may not hear those words full of terror, "Thou wicked and slothful servant." (Matt. xxii. 13, and xxv. 26.) For awful truly and terrible is that tribunal. And yet God is gracious and merciful. He is called a God "of mercies and a God of comfort" (2 Cor. i. 3); good as none else is good, and kind, and gentle, and full of pity, Who "willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted and live." (Ez. xviii. 24; xxxiii. 11.) Whence then, whence is that Day so full of agony and anguish? A stream of fire is rolling before His face. The books of our deeds are opened. The day itself is burning as an oven, the angels are flying around, and many furnaces are prepared. How then is He good and merciful, and full of lovingkindness to man? Even herein is He merciful, and He shows in these things the greatness of His lovingkindness. For He holds forth to us these terrors, that being constrained by them, we may be awakened to the desire of the kingdom.
And observe how, besides commending Onesiphorus, he specifies his kindness, "he oft refreshed me"; like a wearied wrestler overcome by heat, he refreshed and strengthened him in his tribulations. And in how many things he ministered to me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. Not only at Ephesus, but here also he refreshed me. For such ought to be the conduct of one on the watch and awakened to good actions. not to work once, or twice, or thrice, but through the whole of life. For as our body is not fed once for all, and so provided with sustenance for a whole life, but needs also daily food, so in this too, godliness requires to be supported every day by good works. For we ourselves have need of great mercy. It is on account of our sins that God, the Friend of man, does all these things, not that He needs them Himself, but He does all for us. For therefore it is that He has revealed them all, and made them known to us, and not merely told us of them, but given us assurance of them by what He has done. Though He was worthy of credit upon His word only, that no one may think it is said hyperbolically, or in the way of threatening merely, we have further assurance by His works. How? By the punishments which He has inflicted both publicly and privately. And that thou mayest learn by the very examples, at one time he punished Pharaoh, at another time He brought a flood of water upon the earth, and that utter destruction, and again at another time a flood of fire: and even now we see in many instances the wicked suffering vengeance, and punishments, which things are figures of Hell.
For lest we should slumber and be slothful, and forget His word, He awakens our minds by deeds; showing us, even here, courts of justice, judgment seats, and trials. Is there then among men so great a regard for justice, and doth God, whose ordinance even these things are, make no account of it? Is this credible? In a house, in a market-place, there is a court of justice. The master daily sits in judgment upon his slaves, calls them to account for their offenses, punishes some and pardons others. In the country, the husbandman and his wife are daily at law. In a ship, the master is judge, and in a camp the general over his soldiers, and everywhere one may see judicial proceedings. In trades, the master judges the learner. In short all, publicly and privately, are judges to one another. In nothing is the consideration of justice overlooked, and all in every place give account of their actions. And is the inquisition for justice here thus spread through cities, through houses, and among individuals; and is there no regard for what is justice there, where "the right hand of God is full of righteousness" (Ps. xlviii. 10), and "His righteousness is as the mountains of God"? (Ps. xxxvi. 6.)
How is it then that God, "the righteous Judge, strong and patient" (Ps. vii. 11, Sept.), bears thus with men, and does not exact punishment? Here thou hast the cause, He is longsuffering, and thereby would lead thee to repentance. But if thou continuest in sin, thou "after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath." (Rom. ii. 5.) If then He is just, He repays according to desert, and does not overlook those who suffer wrongfully, but avenges them. For this is the part of one who is just. If He is powerful, He requites after death, and at the Resurrection: for this belongs to him who is powerful. And if because He is longsuffering He bears with men, let us not be disturbed, nor ask, why He does not prosecute vengeance here? For if this were done, the whole human race before this would have been swept away, if every day He should call us to account for our transgressions, since there is not, there is not indeed, a single day pure from sin, but in something greater or less we offend; so that we should not one of us have arrived at our twentieth year, but for His great long-suffering, and His goodness, that grants us a longer space for repentance, that we may put off our past transgressions.
Let each therefore, with an upright conscience, entering into a review of what he has done, and bringing his whole life before him, consider, whether he is not deserving of chastisements and punishments without number? And when he is indignant that some one, who has been guilty of many bad actions, escapes with impunity; let him consider his own faults, and his indignation will cease. For those crimes appear great, because they are in great and notorious matters; but if he will enquire into his own, he will perhaps find them more numerous. For to rob and to defraud is the same thing, whether it be done for gold or silver; since both proceed from the same mind. He that will steal a little would not refuse to steal much, if it fell in his way; and that it does not, is not his own choice, but an accidental circumstance. A poor man, who robs a poorer, would not hesitate to rob the rich if he could. His forbearance arises from weakness, and not from choice. Such an one, you say, is a ruler; and takes away the property of those who are under his rule. And say, dost not thou steal? For tell me not that he steals talents, and you as many(1) pence. In giving alms, some cast in gold, while the widow threw in two mites, yet she contributed not less than they. Wherefore? Because the intention is considered, and not the amount of the gift. And then, in the case of alms, thou wilt have God judge thus, and wouldest, because of thy poverty, receive no less a reward for giving two mites than he who lays down many talents of gold? and is not the same rule applicable to wrongful dealings? How is this consistent? As she who contributed two mites was considered equal to the greatest givers, because of her good intention, so thou, who stealest two mites, art as culpable as those mightier robbers. Nay, if I may give utterance to something strange, thou art a worse robber than they. For a man would be equally an adulterer, whether he committed the sin with the wife of a king, or of a poor man, or of a slave: since the offense is not judged by the quality of the persons, but by the wickedness of his will who commits it; so is it likewise in this case. Nay, I should call him who committed the sin with an inferior perhaps more guilty, than him who intrigued with the queen herself. For in this case, wealth, and beauty, and other attractions might be pleaded, none of which exist in the other. Therefore the other is the worse adulterer. Again, he seems to me a more determined drunkard, who commits that excess with bad wine; so he is a worse defrauder, who does not despise small thefts; for he who commits great robberies, would perhaps not stoop to petty thefts, whereas he who steals little things would never forbear greater, therefore he is the greater thief of the two. For how should he despise gold, who does not despise silver? So that when we accuse our rulers, let us recount our own faults, and we shall find ourselves more given to wrong and robbery than they; unless we judge of right and wrong rather by the act, than by the intention of the mind, as we ought to judge. If one should be convicted of having stolen the goods of a poor man, another those of a rich man, will they not both be punished alike? Is not a man equally a murderer, whether he murder a poor and deformed, or a rich and handsome, man? When therefore we say that such an one has seized upon another person's land, let us reflect upon our own faults, and then we shall not condemn other men, but we shall admire the longsuffering of God. We shall not be indignant that judgment does not fall upon them, but we shall be more slow to commit wickedness ourselves. For when we perceive ourselves liable to the same punishment, We shall no longer feel such discontent, and shall desist from offenses, and shall obtain the good things to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father, &c.
HOMILY IV: 2 TIMOTHY ii. 1-7.
"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall beable to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. no man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."
THE young sailor at sea is inspired with great confidence, if the Master of the ship has been preserved in a shipwreck. For he will not consider that it is from his inexperience that he is exposed to the storm, but from the nature of things; and this has no little effect upon his mind. In war also the Captain, who sees his General wounded and recovered again, is much encouraged. And thus it produces some consolation to the faithful, that the Apostle should have been exposed to great sufferings, and not rendered weak by the utmost of them. And had it not been so, he would not have related his sufferings. For when Timothy heard, that he who possessed so great powers, who had conquered the whole world, is a prisoner, and afflicted, yet is not impatient, nor discontented upon the desertion of his friends; he, if ever exposed to the same sufferings himself, would not consider that it proceeded from human weakness, nor from the circumstance of his being a disciple, and inferior to Paul, since his teacher too suffered the like, but that all this happened from the natural course of things. For Paul himself did this,(1) and related what had befallen him, that he might strengthen Timothy, and renew his courage. And he shows that it was for this reason he mentioned his trials and afflictions, in that he has added, "Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." What sayest thou? Thou hast shaken us with terrors, thou hast told us that thou art in chains, in afflictions, that all have forsaken thee, and, as if thou hadst said thou hadst not suffered anything, nor been abandoned by any, thou addest, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong"?--And justly too. For these things were to thy strengthening more than to his.(1) For if I, Paul, endure these things, much more oughtest thou to bear them. If the master, much more the disciple. And this exhortation he introduces with much affection, calling him "son," and not only so, but "my son." If thou art a son, he means, imitate thy father. If thou art a son, be strong in consideration of the things which I have said, or rather be strong, not merely from what I have told you, but "of God." "Be strong," he says, "in the grace that is in Christ Jesus"; that is, "through the grace of Christ." That is, stand firmly. Thou knowest the battle. For elsewhere he says, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood." (Eph. vi. 12.) And this he says not to depress but to excite them. Be sober therefore, he means, and watch have the grace of the Lord cooperating with thee, and aiding thee in thy contest, contribute thy own part with much alacrity and resolution. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men"; to "faithful" men, not to questioners nor to reasoners, to "faithful." How faithful? Such as betray not the Gospel they should preach. "The things which thou hast heard," not which thou hast searched out. For "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. x. 17.) But wherefore, "among many witnesses"? As if he had said: Thou hast not heard in secret, nor apart, but in the presence of many, with all openness of speech. Nor does he say, Tell, but "commit," as a treasure committed is deposited in safety. Again he alarms his disciple, both from things above and things below. But he says not only "commit to faithful men"; for of what advantage is it that one is faithful, if he is not able to convey his doctrine to others? when he does not indeed betray the faith; but does not render others faithful? The teacher therefore ought to have two qualities, to be both faithful, and apt to teach; wherefore he says, "who shall be able to teach others also."
"Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Oh, how great a dignity is this, to be a soldier of Jesus Christ! Observe the kings on earth, how great an honor it is esteemed to serve under them. If therefore the soldier of the king ought to endure hardness, not to endure hardness is not the part of any soldier. So that it behooves thee not to complain, if thou endurest hardness, for that is the part of a soldier; but to complain, if thou dost not endure hardness.
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully."
These things are said indeed to Timothy, but through him they are addressed to every teacher and disciple. Let no one therefore of those who hold the office of a Bishop disdain to hear these things, but let him be ashamed not to do them. "If any one strive for masteries," he says, "he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully." What is meant by "lawfully"? It is not enough that he enters into the lists, that he is anointed, and even engages, unless he comply with all the laws of the exercise, with respect to diet, to temperance and sobriety, and all the rules of the wrestling school, unless, in short, he go through all that is befitting for a wrestler,(2) he is not crowned. And observe the wisdom of Paul. He mentions wrestlers and soldiers, the one to prepare him for slaughter and blood, the other with reference to endurance, that he might bear everything with fortitude, and be ever in exercise.
"The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits."
He had first spoken from his own example as a teacher. He now speaks from those that are more common, as wrestlers and soldiers, and in their case he sets before him the rewards. First, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier; secondly, that he may be crowned; now he proposes a third example that more particularly suits himself. For the instance of the soldier and the wrestler corresponds to those who are under rule, but that of the husbandman to the Teacher. (Strive) not as a soldier or a wrestler only, but as a husbandman too. The husbandman takes care not of himself alone, but of the fruits of the earth. That is, no little reward of his labors is enjoyed by the husbandman.
Here he both shows, that to God nothing is wanting, and that there is a reward for Teaching, which he shows by a common instance. As the husbandman, he says, does not labor without profit, but enjoys before others the fruits of his own toils, so is it fit that the teacher should do: either he means this, or he is speaking of the honor to be paid to teachers, but this is less consistent. For why does he not say the husbandman simply, but him "that laboreth"? not only that worketh, but that is worn with toil? And here with reference to the delay of reward, that no one may be impatient, he says, thou reapest the fruit already, or there is a reward in the labor itself. When therefore he has set before him the examples of soldiers, of wrestlers, and husbandmen, and all figuratively, "No one," he says, "is crowned except he strive lawfully." And having observed that "the husbandman who laboreth must first be partaker of the fruits," he adds,
"Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."
It is on this account that he has spoken these things in proverb and parable. Then again to show his affectionate disposition, he ceases not to pray for him, as fearing for his own son, and he says,
Ver. 8, 9. "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my Gospel. Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer, even unto bonds."
On what account is this mentioned? It is directed chiefly against the heretics, at the same time to encourage Timothy, by showing the advantage of sufferings, since Christ, our Master, Himself overcame death by suffering. Remember this, he says, and thou wilt have sufficient comfort. "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead." For upon that point many had already begun to subvert the dispensation, being ashamed at the immensity of God's love to mankind. For of such a nature are the benefits which God has conferred upon us, that men were ashamed to ascribe them to God, and could not believe He had so far condescended. "According to my Gospel." Thus he everywhere speaks in his Epistles, saying "according to my Gospel,"(1) either because they were bound to believe him, or because there were some who preached "another Gospel." (Gal. i. 6.)
"Wherein I suffer trouble," he says, "as an evil-doer, even unto bonds." Again he introduces consolation and encouragement from himself, and he prepares(2) his hearer's mind with these two things; first, that he should know him to endure hardness; and, secondly, that he did not so but for a useful purpose, for in this case he will gain, in the other will even suffer harm. For what advantage is it, that you can show that a Teacher has exposed himself to hardship, but not for any useful purpose? But if it is for any benefit, if for the profit of those who are taught, then it is worthy of admiration?
"But the word of God is not bound." That is, if we were soldiers of this world, and waged an earthly warfare, the chains that confine our hands would avail. But now God has made us such that nothing can subdue us. For our hands are bound, but not our tongue, since nothing can bind the tongue but cowardice and unbelief alone; and where these are not, though you fasten chains upon us, the preaching of the Gospel is not bound. If indeed you bind a husbandman, you prevent his sowing, for he sows with his hand: but if you bind a Teacher, you hinder not the word, for it is sown with his tongue, not with his hand. Our word therefore is not subjected to bonds. For though we are bound, that is free, and runs its course. How? Because though bound, behold, we preach. This is for the encouragement of those that are free. For if we that are bound preach, much more does it behoove you that are loose to do so. You have heard that I suffer these things, as an evil-doer. Be not dejected. For it is a great wonder, that being bound I do the work of those that are free, that being bound I overcome all, that being bound I prevail over those that bound me. For it is the word of God, not ours. Human chains cannot bind the word of God. "These things I suffer on account of the elect."
Ver. 10. "Therefore I endure all things," he says, "for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
Behold another incentive. I endure these things, he says, not for myself, but for the salvation of others. It was in my power to have lived free from danger; to have suffered none of these things, if I had consulted my own interest. On what account then do I suffer these things? For the good of others, that others may obtain eternal life. What then dost thou promise thyself? He has not said, simply on account of these particular persons; but "for the elect's sake." If God has chosen them, it becomes us to suffer everything for their sakes. "That they also may obtain salvation." By saying, "they also," he means, as well as we. For God hath chosen us also; and as God suffered for our sakes, so should we suffer for their sakes. Thus it is a matter of retribution, not of favor. On the part of God it was grace, for He having received no previous benefit, hath done us good: but on our parts it is retribution, we having previously received benefits from God, suffer for these, for whom we suffer, in order "that they may obtain salvation." What sayest thou? What salvation? Art thou who wast not the author of salvation to thyself, but wast destroying thyself, art thou the author of salvation to others? Surely not, and therefore he adds, "salvation that is in Christ Jesus"; that which is truly salvation, "with eternal glory." Present things are afflictive, but they are but on earth. Present things are ignominious, but they are temporary. They are full of bitterness and pain; but they last only to-day and to-morrow.
Such is not the nature of the good things, they are eternal, they are in heaven. That is true glory, this is dishonor.
MORAL. For observe, I pray, beloved, that is not glory which is on earth, the true glory is in heaven. But if any one would be glorified, let him be dishonored. If he would obtain rest, let him suffer affliction. If any one would be forever illustrious, would enjoy pleasure, let him despise temporal things. And that dishonor is glory, and glory dishonor, let us now set before us to the best of our power, that we may see what is real glory. It is not possible to be glorified upon earth; if thou wouldest be glorified, it must be through dishonor. And let us prove this in the examples of two persons, Nero and Paul. The one had the glory of this world, the other the dishonor. How? The first was a tyrant, had obtained great success had raised many trophies, had wealth ever flowing in, numerous armies everywhere; he had the greater part of the world and the imperial city subject to his sway, the whole senate crouching to him, and his palace too(1) was advancing with splendid show. When he must be armed, he went forth arrayed in gold and precious stones. When he was to sit still in peace, he sat clothed in robes of purple. He was surrounded by numerous guards and attendants. He was called Lord of land and sea, Emperor,(2) Augustus, Caesar, King, and other such high-sounding names as implied(3) flattery and courtship; and nothing was wanting that might tend to glory. Even wise men and potentates and sovereigns trembled at him. For beside all this, he was said to be a cruel and violent man. He even wished to be thought a god, and he despised both all the idols, and the very God Who is over all. He was worshiped as a god. What greater glory than this? Or rather what greater dishonor? For--I know not how--my tongue is carried away by the force of truth, and passes sentence before judgment. Meanwhile let us examine the matter according to the opinion of the multitude, and of unbelievers, and the estimation of flattery.
What is greater in the common estimation of glory than to be reputed a god? It is indeed a great disgrace that any human being should be so mad, but for the present let us consider the matter according to the opinion of the multitude. Nothing then was wanting to him, that contributes to human glory, but he was worshiped by all as a god. Now in opposition to him, let us consider Paul. He was a Cilician, and the difference between Rome and Cilicia, all know. He was a tent-maker, a poor man, unskilled in the wisdom of those without, knowing only the Hebrew tongue, a language despised by all, especially by the Italians. For they do not so much despise the barbarian, the Greek, or any other tongue as the Syriac, and this has affinity with the Hebrew. Nor wonder at this, for if they despised the Greek, which is so admirable and beautiful, much more the Hebrew. He was a man that often lived in hunger, often went to bed without food, a man that was naked, and had not clothes to put on; "in cold, and nakedness," as he says of himself. (1 Cor. xi. 27.) Nor was this all; but he was cast into prison at the command of Nero himself, and confined with robbers, with impostors, with gave-breakers, with murderers, and he was, as he himself says, scourged as a malefactor. Who then is the more illustrious? The name of the one the greater part have never heard of. The other is daily celebrated by Greeks, and Barbarians, and Scythians, and those who inhabit the extremities of the earth.
But let us not yet consider what is the case now, but even at that time who was the more illustrious, who the more glorious, he that was in chains, and dragged bound from prison, or he that was clothed in a purple robe, and walked forth from a palace? The prisoner certainly. For the other, who had armies at his command, and sat arrayed in purple, was not able to do what he would. But the prisoner, that was like a malefactor, and in mean attire, could do everything with more authority. How? The one said, "Do not disseminate the word of God." The other said, "I cannot forbear; 'the word of God is not bound.'" Thus the Cilician, the prisoner, the poor tent- maker, who lived in hunger, despised the Roman, rich as he was, and emperor, and ruling over all, who enriched so many thousands; and with all his armies he availed nothing. Who then was illustrious? who venerable? He that in chains was a conqueror, or he that in a purple robe was conquered? He that standing below, smote, or he that sitting above, was smitten? He that commanded and was despised, or he who was commanded and made no account of the commands? He who being alone was victorious, or he who with numerous armies was defeated? The king therefore so came off, that his prisoner triumphed over him. Tell me then on whose side you would be? For do not look to what comes afterwards, but to what was then their state. Would you be on the side of Nero, or of Paul? I speak not according to the estimate of faith, for that is manifest; but according to the estimate of glory, and reverence, and preeminence. Any man of right understanding would say, on the side of Paul. For if to conquer is more illustrious than to be conquered, he is more glorious. And this is not yet much, that he conquered, but that being in so mean a state he conquered one in so exalted a condition. For I say, and will not cease to repeat it, though bound with a chain, yet he smote him that was invested with a diadem.
Such is the power of Christ. The chain surpassed the kingly crown, and this apparel was shown more brilliant than that. Clothed in filthy rags, as the inhabitant of a prison, he turned all eyes upon the chains that hung on him, rather than on the purple robe. He stood on earth bound down and stooping low, and all left the tyrant mounted on a golden chariot to gaze on him. And well they might. For it was customary to see a king with white horses, but it was a strange and unwonted sight to behold a prisoner conversing with a king with as much confidence as a king would converse with a pitiful and wretched slave. The surrounding multitude were all slaves of the king, yet they admired not their lord, but him who was superior to their lord. And he before whom all feared and trembled, was trampled upon by one solitary man. See then how great was the brightness of these very chains!
And what need to mention what followed after these things? The tomb of the one is nowhere to be seen; but the other lies in the royal city itself, in greater splendor than any king, even there where he conquered, where he raised his trophy. If mention is made of the one, it is with reproach, even among his kindred, for he is said to have been profligate. But the memory of the other is everywhere accompanied with a good report, not among(1) us only, but among his enemies. For when truth shines forth, it puts to shame even one's enemies, and if they admire him not for his faith, yet they admire him for his boldness and his manly freedom. The one is proclaimed by all mouths, as one that is crowned, the other is loaded with reproaches and accusations. Which then is the real splendor?
And yet I am but praising the lion for his talons, when I ought to be speaking of his real honors. And what are these? Those in the heavens. How will he come in a shining vesture with the King of Heaven! How will Nero stand then, mournful and dejected! And if what I say seems to thee incredible and ridiculous, thou art ridiculous for deriding that which is no subject for laughter. For if thou disbelievest the future, be convinced from what is past. The season for being crowned is not yet come, and yet how great honor has the combatant gained! What honor then will he not obtain, when the Distributor of the prizes shall come! He was among foreigners, "a stranger and a sojourner" (Heb. xi. 13), and thus is he admired: what good will he not enjoy, when he is amongst his own? Now "our life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii. 3); yet he who is dead worketh more and is more honored than the living. When that our life shall come, what will he not participate? What will he not attain?
On this account God made him enjoy these honors, not because he wanted them. For if when in the body he despised popular glory, much more will he despise it now that he is delivered from the body. Nor only on this account has He caused him to enjoy honor, but that those who disbelieve the future may be convinced from the present. I say that when the Resurrection shall be, Paul will come with the King of Heaven, and will enjoy infinite blessings. But the unbeliever will not be convinced. Let him believe then from the present. The tent-maker is more illustrious, more honored than the king. No emperor of Rome ever enjoyed so great honor. The emperor is cast out, and lies, no one knows where. The tent-maker occupies the midst of the city, as if he were a king, and living. From these things believe, even with respect to the future. If he enjoys so great honor here, where he was persecuted and banished, what will he not be when he shall come hereafter? If when he was a tent-maker, he was so illustrious, what will he be when he shall come rivaling the beams of the sun? If in so much meanness he overcame such magnificence, to whom, at his coming, will he not be superior? Can we avoid the conclusion? Who is not moved by the fact, that a tent-maker became more honorable than the most honored of kings? If here things happen so beyond the course of nature, much more will it be so hereafter. If thou wilt not believe the future, O man, believe the present. If thou wilt not believe invisible things, believe things that are seen: or rather believe things which are seen, for so thou wilt believe things which are invisible. But if thou wilt not, we may fitly say with the Apostle, "We are pure from your blood" (Acts xx. 26): for we have testified to you of all things, and have left out nothing that we should have said. Blame yourselves therefore, and to yourselves(2) will ye impute the punishment of Hell. But let us, my beloved children, be imitators of Paul, not in his faith only, but in his life, that we may attain to heavenly glory, and trample upon that glory that is here. Let not any things present attract us. Let us despise visible things, that we may obtain heavenly things, or rather may(3) through these obtain the others, but let it be our aim preeminently to obtain those, of which God grant that we may be all accounted worthy, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
HOMILY V: 2 TIMOTHY ii. 11-14.
"It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us: if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord, that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers."
MANY of the weaker sort of men give up the effort of faith, and do not endure the deferring of their hope. They seek things present, and form from these their judgment of the future. When therefore their lot here was death, torments, and chains, and yet he says, they shall come to eternal life, they would not have believed, but would have said, "What sayest thou? When I live, I die; and when I die, I live? Thou promisest nothing on earth, and dost thou give it in heaven? Little things thou dost not bestow; and dost thou offer great things?" That none therefore may argue thus, he places beyond doubt the proof of these things, laying it down beforehand already, and giving certain signs. For, "remember," he says, "that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead"; that is, rose again after death. And now showing the same thing he says, "It is a faithful saying," that he who has attained a heavenly life, will attain eternal life also. Whence is it "faithful"? Because, he says, "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him." For say, shall we partake with Him in things laborious and painful; and shall we not in things beneficial? But not even a man would act thus, nor, if one had chosen to suffer affliction and death with him, would he refuse to him a share in his rest, if he had attained it. But how are we "dead with Him"? This death he means both of that in the Layer, and that in sufferings. For he says, "Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus" (2 Cor. iv. 10); and, "We are buried with Him by baptism into death" (Rom. vi. 4); and, "Our old man is crucified with Him"; and, "We have been planted together in the likeness of His death." (Rom. vi. 5, 6.) But he also speaks here of death by trials: and that more especially, for he was also suffering trials when he wrote it. And this is what he says, "If we have suffered death on His account, shall we not live on His account? This is not to be doubted. 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him,'" not absolutely, we shall reign, but "if we suffer," showing that it is not enough to die once, (the blessed man himself died daily,) but there was need of much patient endurance; and especially Timothy had need of it. For tell me not, he says, of your first sufferings, but that you continue to suffer.
Then on the other side he exhorts him, not from the good, but from the evil. For if wicked men were to partake of the same things, this would be no consolation. And if having endured they were to reign with Him, but not having endured were not indeed to reign with Him, but were to suffer no worse evil, though this were terrible, yet it would not be enough to affect most men with concern. Wherefore he speaks of something more dreadful still. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. So then there is a retribution not of good things only, but of the contrary. And consider What it is probable that he will suffer, who is denied in that kingdom. "Whosoever shall deny Me, him will I also deny." (Matt. x. 33.) And the retribution is not equal, though it seems so expressed. For we who deny Him are men, but He who denies us is God; and how great is the distance between God and man, it is needless to say.
Besides, we injure ourselves; Him we cannot injure. And to show this, he has added, "If we believe not, He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself": that is, if we believe not that He rose again, He is not injured by it. He is faithful and unshaken, whether we say so or not. If then He is not at all injured by our denying Him, it is for nothing else than for our benefit that He desires our confession. For He abideth the same, whether we deny Him or not. He cannot deny Himself, that is, His own Being. We may say that He is not; though such is not the fact. It is not in His nature, it is not possible for Him not to be, that is, to go into nonentity.(1) His subsistence always abides, always is. Let us not therefore be so affected, as if we could gratify or could injure Him. But lest any one should think that Timothy needed this advice, he has added,
"Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord, that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers." It is an overawing thing to call God to witness what we say, for if no one would dare to set at nought the testimony of man when appealed to, much less when the appeal is to God. If any one, for instance, entering into a contract, or making his will, chooses to call witnesses worthy of credit, would any transfer the things to those who are not included? Surely not. And even if he wishes it, yet fearing the credibility of the witnesses, he avoids it. What is "charging them before the Lord"? he calls God to witness both what was said, and what was done.
"That they strive not about words to no profit;" and not merely so, but "to the subverting of the hearers." Not only is there no gain from it, but much harm. "Of these things then put them in remembrance," and if they despise thee, God will judge them. But why does he admonish them not to strive about words? He knows that it is a dainty(1) thing, and that the human soul is ever prone to contend and to dispute about words. To guard against this, he has not only charged them "not to strive about words," but to render his discourse more alarming, he adds, "to the subverting of the hearers."
Ver. 15. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Everywhere this "not being ashamed"! And why is he ever so careful to guard him against shame? Because it was natural for many to be ashamed both of Paul himself, as being a tent-maker, and of the preaching, since its teachers perished. For Christ had been crucified, himself was about to be beheaded, Peter was crucified with his head downwards, and these things they suffered from audacious and despicable men. Because such men were in power, he says, "Be not ashamed"; that is, fear not to do anything tending to godliness, though it be necessary to submit to slavery or any other suffering. For how does any one become approved? By being "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." As the workman is not ashamed of any work, so neither should he be ashamed who labors in the Gospel. He should submit to anything.
"Rightly dividing the word of truth."
This he hath well said. For many distort it, and pervert it in every way, and many additions are made to it. He has not said directing it, but "rightly dividing," that is, cut away what is spurious, with much vehemence assail it, and extirpate it. With the sword of the Spirit cut off from your preaching, as from a thong, whatever is superfluous and foreign to it.
Ver. 16. "And shun profane novelties of speech."(2)
For they will not stop there. For when anything new has been introduced, it is ever producing innovations, and the error of him who has once left the safe harbor is infinite, and never stops.
"For they will increase unto more ungodliness," he says,
Ver. 17. "And their word will eat as doth a canker."
It is an evil not to be restrained, not curable by any medicine, it destroys the whole frame. He shows that novelty of doctrine is a disease, and worse than a disease. And here he implies that they are incorrigible, and that they erred not weakly but willfully.
"Of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus,"
Ver. 18. "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some."
He has well said, "They will increase unto more ungodliness." For it appears indeed to be a solitary evil, but see what evils spring out of it. For if the Resurrection is already past, not only do we suffer loss in being deprived of that great glory, but because judgment is taken away, and retribution also. For if the Resurrection is past, retribution also is past. The good therefore have reaped persecutions and afflictions, and the wicked have not been punished, nay verily, they live in great pleasure.(3) It were better to say that there is no resurrection, than that it is already past.
"And overthrow," he says, "the faith of some."
"Of some," not of all. For if there is no resurrection, faith is subverted. Our preaching is vain, nor is Christ risen; and if He is not risen, neither was He born, nor has He ascended into heaven. Observe how this error, while it seems to oppose the doctrine of the Resurrection, draws after it many other evils. What then, says one, ought we to do nothing for those who are subverted?(4)
Ver. 19. "Nevertheless," he says, "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord(5) depart from iniquity."
He shows that even before they were subverted, they were not firm. For otherwise, they would not have been overthrown at the first attack, as Adam(1) was firm before the commandment. For those who are fixed not only are not harmed through deceivers, but are even admired.
And he calls it "sure," and a "foundation"; so ought we to adhere to the faith; "having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." What is this? He has taken it from Deuteronomy;" that is, Firm souls stand fixed and immovable. But whence are they manifest? From having these characters inscribed upon their actions, from their being known by God, and not perishing with the world, and from their departing from iniquity.
"Let every one," he says, "that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."
These are the distinguishing marks of the foundation. As a(3) foundation is shown to be firm, and as letters are inscribed upon a stone that the letters may be significant. But these letters are shown by works, "Having," he says, "this seal" fixed thereon, "Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." Thus if any one is unrighteous, he is not of the foundation. So that this too is of the seal, not to do iniquity.
MORAL. Let us not therefore put off from us the royal seal and token, that we may not be of those who are not sealed, that we may not be unsound, that we may be firmly grounded, that we may be of the foundation, and not carried to and fro. This marks them that are of God, that they depart from iniquity. For how can any one be of God Who is just, if he does iniquity, if by his works he opposes Him, if he insults Him by his misdeeds? Again we are speaking against injustice, and again we have many that are hostile to us. For this affection, like a tyrant, has seized upon the souls of all, and, what is worse, not by necessity nor violence, but by persuasion and gentle insinuation, and they are grateful for their slavery. And this is indeed the misery; for if they were held by constraint and not by love, they would soon depart. And whence is it, that a thing which is most bitter, appears to be sweet? whence is it that righteousness, which is a most sweet thing, becomes bitter? It is the fault of our senses. Thus some have thought honey bitter, and have taken with pleasure other things that were noxious. And the cause is not in the nature of things, but in the perverseness of the sufferers. The judging faculty of the soul(4) is disordered? Just as a balance, if its beam be unsteady,(6) moves round, and does not show accurately the weight of things placed in it; so the soul, if it has not the beam of its own thoughts fixed, and firmly riveted to the law of God, being carried round and drawn down, will not be able to judge a right of actions.
For if any one will examine carefully, he will perceive the great bitterness of injustice, not to those who suffer it, but to those who practice it, and to these more than to the others. And let us riot speak of things future, but for the present of things here. Hath it not battles, judgments, condemnation, ill will, abuse? what is more bitter than these? Hath it not enmities, and wars, and accusations? what is more bitter than these? Hath it not conscience continually scourging and gnawing us? If it were possible, I could wish to draw out from the body the soul of the unrighteous man, and you would see it pale and trembling, ashamed, hiding its head, anxiously fearful, and self-condemned. For should we sink down into the very depths of wickedness, the judging faculty of the mind(7) is not destroyed, but remains unbribed. And no one pursues injustice thinking it to be good, but he invents excuses, and has recourse to every artifice of words to shift off the accusation. But he cannot get it off his conscience. Here indeed the speciousness of words, the corruption of rulers, and multitudes of flatterers, is often able to throw justice into the shade, but within, the conscience(8) has nothing of this sort, there are no flatterers there, no wealth to corrupt the judge. For the faculty of judging is naturally implanted in us by God, and what comes from God cannot be so corrupted. But uneasy slumbers, thick-coming fancies, and the frequent recollections of guilt, destroy our repose. Has any one, for instance, unjustly deprived another of his house? not only is he that is robbed rendered unhappy, but the man who robbed him. If he is persuaded of a future judgment, (if indeed any one is so persuaded,) he groans exceedingly, and is in misery. But if he believes not in futurity, yet he blushes for shame; or rather there is no man, whether Greek, Jew, or heretic, who is not afraid of a judgment to come.
And although he is not a philosopher with respect to futurity; yet he fears and trembles at what may befall him here, lest he may have some retribution in his property, his children, his family, or his life. For many such visitations God inflicts. For since the doctrine of the Resurrection is not sufficient to bring all men to reason, He affords even here many proofs of His righteous judgment, and exhibits them to the world. One who has gained wrongfully is without children, another falls in war, another is maimed in his body, another loses his son. He considers these things, on these his imagination dwells, and he lives in continual fear.
Know you not what the unrighteous suffer? Is there no bitterness in these things? And were there nothing of this sort, do not all condemn him, and hate and abhor him, and think him less rational than a beast, even those who are themselves unrighteous? For if they condemn themselves, much more do they condemn another, calling him rapacious, fraudulent, a pestilent fellow. What pleasure then can he enjoy? He has only the heavier care and anxiety to preserve his gains, and the being more anxious and troubled. For the more wealth any one gets about him, the more painful watchfulness does he store up for himself. Then what are the curses of those whom he has wronged, their pleadings against him?(1) And what, if sickness should befall him? For it is impossible for one, who has fallen into sickness, however atheistically. he may be inclined, not to be anxious about these things, not to be thoughtful, when he is unable to do anything. For as long as we are here, the soul enjoying itself, does not tolerate painful thoughts: but when it is about to take its flight from the body, then a greater fear constrains it, as entering into the very portals of judgment. Even robbers, whilst they are in prison, live without fear, but when they are brought to the very curtain of the court,(2) they sink with terror. For when the fear of death is urgent, like a fire consuming all things besides, it obliges the soul to philosophize, and to take thought for futurity. The desire of wealth, the love of gain, and of bodily pleasures, no longer possesses it. These things passing away like clouds, leave the judging faculty clear, and grief entering in softens the hard heart. For nothing is so opposite to philosophy, as a life of pleasure; nor, on the other hand, is anything so favorable to philosophy as affliction. Consider what the covetous man will then be. For, "an hour of affliction," it is said, "maketh a man forget much pleasure." (Ecclus. ii. 27.) What will then be his state, when he considers those whom he has robbed, and injured, and defrauded, when he sees others reaping the fruits of his grasping, and himself going to pay the penalty? For it cannot, indeed it cannot be, that when fallen into sickness he should not reflect upon these things. For often the soul of itself is distracted with agony and terror. What a bitterness is this, tell me! And with every sickness these things must be endured. And what will he not suffer when he sees others punished or put to death?
These things await him here. And as to what he must undergo hereafter, it is not possible to say what punishment, what vengeance, what torments, what racks are reserved for him There. These things we declare. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke viii. 8.) We are for ever discoursing of these things, not willingly, but of necessity. For we could wish there were no obligation to mention such things at all. But since it must be, we would at least, by a little medicine, deliver you from your disease, and restore you to health. But whilst you remain in this sickness, it would show a mean and weak spirit, not to say cruelty and inhumanity, to desist from the healing treatment. For if when physicians despair of our bodies, we beseech them not to neglect us, not to cease to our last breath applying whatever is in their power, shall we not much more exhort ourselves? For perhaps when we have come to the very gates of Hell, the vestibule of wickedness itself, it may be possible to recover, to renew our strength, to lay hold on eternal life! How many, who have heard ten times and remained insensible, have afterwards at one hearing been converted! Or rather, not at one hearing; for though they seemed insensible at the ten discourses, yet they gained something, and afterwards showed all at once abundant fruit. For as a tree may receive ten strokes, and not fall; then afterwards be brought down all at once by a single blow: yet it is not done by that one blow, but by the ten which made that last successful. And this is known to him who sees the root, though he who takes his view of the trunk above knows it not. So it is in this case. And thus often, when physicians have applied many remedies, no benefit is perceived; but afterwards some one comes in and effects an entire cure. Yet it is not the work of him alone, but of these who have already reduced the disorder. So that, if now we do not bring forth the fruits of hearing the word, yet hereafter we shall. For that we shall bring them forth, I am fully persuaded. For it is not, indeed it is not possible that such eager desire, such a love of hearing, should fail of its effect. God forbid! But may we all. having become worthy of the admonitions of Christ, obtain the everlasting blessings, &c.
HOMILY VI: 2 TIMOTHY ii. 20, 21.
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
MANY men are still even now perplexed to account for the fact, that the wicked are suffered to remain, and are not yet destroyed. Now doubtless various reasons may be assigned for this, as, that they may be converted, or that by their punishment they may be made an example to the multitude. But Paul here mentions a similar case. For he says,
"In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth." Showing by this, that as in a great house it is likely there should be a great difference of vessels, so here also, in the whole world, for he speaks not of the Church only, but of the world at large. For think not, I pray, that he means it of the Church; for there he would not have any vessels of wood or of earth, but all of gold or silver where is the body of Christ, where is that "pure virgin, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. v. 27.) And this is what he means to say Let it not disturb thee that there are corrupt and wicked men. For in a great house there are such vessels. But what then? they do not receive the same honor. But some are to honor and some to dishonor. "Nay," says one, "in a house they may be of some use, but not at all in the world." Though God employs them not for such honorable service, he makes use of them for other purposes. For instance, the vainglorious man builds much, so does the covetous man, the merchant, the tradesman, the magistrate; there are certain works in the world suited to these. But the golden vessel is not of such a nature. It is employed about the royal table. He does not say however that wickedness is a necessary thing, (for how should it be?) but that the wicked also have their work. For if all were of gold or of silver, there would be no need of the viler sort. For instance, if all were hardy, there would be no need of houses; if all were free from luxury, there would be no need of dainties. If all were careful only for necessaries, there would be no need of splendid building.
"If therefore a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified." Seest thou that it is not of nature, nor of the necessity of matter, to be a vessel of gold or of earth, but of our own choice? For otherwise the earthen could not become gold, nor could the golden descend to the vileness of the other. But in this case there is much change, and alteration of state. Paul was an earthen vessel, and became a golden one. Judas was a golden vessel, and became an earthen one. The earthen vessels, therefore, are such from uncleanness. The fornicator and the covetous man become earthen vessels. "But how then does he say elsewhere, 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels,' so that he does not despise but honor the earthen vessel, speaking of it as the recipient of the treasure?" There he shows the nature itself, and not the form of the material. For he means to say that our body is an earthen vessel. For as earthenware is nothing else but baked clay, so is our body nothing but clay consolidated by the heat of the soul; for that it is earthen, is evident. For as such a vessel is often by falling broken and dashed to pieces, so our body falls and is dissolved by death. For how do our bones differs from a potsherd, hard and dry as they are? or our flesh from clay, being, like it, composed of water? But, as I said, how is it that he does not speak contemptuously of it? Because there he is discoursing of its nature, here of our choice. "If a man," he says, "purge himself from these," not merely "cleanse," but "cleanse out,"(1) that is, cleanse himself perfectly, "he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use." The others therefore are useless for any good purpose, though some use is made of them. "And prepared(2) unto every good work." Even though he do it not, he is fit for it, and has a capacity for it. We ought therefore to be prepared for everything, even for death, for martyrdom, for a life of virginity, or for all these.
Ver. 22. "Flee also youthful lusts."
Not only the lust of fornication, but every inordinate desire is a youthful lust. Let the aged learn that they ought not to do the deeds of the youthful. If one be given to insolence, or a lover of power, of riches, of bodily pleasures, it is a youthful lust, and foolish. These things must proceed from a heart not yet established, from a mind not deeply grounded, but in a wavering state. What then does he advise in order that none may be captivated by these things? "Flee youthful" imaginations, "but
"Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
He calls virtue in general, "righteousness" godliness of life, "faith, meekness, charity."
What is meant by "those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart"? It is as if he said, Rejoice not in those who only call upon the Lord; but those who call upon Him sincerely and unfeignedly, who have nothing of deceit about them, who approach Him in peace, who are not contentious. With these associate thyself. But with others be not easy, but only as far as lies in you, be peaceable.
Ver. 23. "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes."
Do you see how he everywhere draws him off from questions; not that he was not able to overthrow them; for he was well able. For had he not been able he would have said, Be diligent, that thou mayest be able to refute them; as when he says, "Give attendance to reading, for by so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. iv. 13, 16.) But he knew that it was useless to enter at all into these disputes, that there will be no end of it, save contentions, enmities, insults, and reproaches. These "questions" therefore "avoid"; so that there are other questions, some relating to the Scriptures, some to other things.
Ver. 24. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive."
Not even in questions ought he to strive, for the servant of the Lord must keep far from strife, since God is the God of peace, and what should the servant of the God of peace have to do with strife?
"But be gentle unto all men."
How is it then he says, "Rebuke with all authority" (Tit. ii. 15); and again, "Let no man despise thy youth" (1 Tim. iv. 12): and again, '"Rebuke them Sharply"? (Tit. i. 13.) Because this is consistent with meekness. For a strong rebuke, if it be given with gentleness, is most likely to wound deeply: for it is possible, indeed it is, to touch more effectually by gentleness, than one overawes by boldness.
"Apt to teach"; that is, those who are willing to be taught. For "a man that is an heretic," he says, "after the first and second admonition reject." (Tit. iii. 10.) "Patient." He has well added this, for it is a quality which a teacher above all things ought to possess. All things are vain without it. And if fishermen do not despair, though often they cast their nets for a whole day without catching anything, much more should not we. For see what is the result. From constant teaching, it often happens that the plow of the word, descending to the depth of the soul, roots out the evil passion that troubled it. For he that hears often will at length be affected. A man cannot go on hearing continually without some effect being produced. Sometimes therefore, when he was on the point of being persuaded, he is lost by our becoming weary. For the same thing occurs, as if an unskillful husbandman should in the first year dig about the vine he had planted, and seeking to reap some fruit in the second year, and again in the third, and gathering nothing, should after three years despair, and in the fourth year, when he was about to receive the recompense of his labors, abandon his vine. And having said, "Patient," he is not satisfied, but goes on to say,
Ver. 25. "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves."
For he that teaches must be especially careful to do it with meekness. For a soul that wishes to learn cannot gain any useful instruction from harshness and contention. For when it would apply, being thus thrown into perplexity, it will learn nothing. He who would gain any useful knowledge ought above all things to be well disposed towards his teacher, and if this be not previously attained, nothing that is requisite or useful can be accomplished. And no one can be well disposed towards him who is violent and overbearing. How is it then that he says, "A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject"? He speaks there of one incorrigible, of one whom he knows to be diseased beyond the possibility of cure.
"If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
Ver. 26. "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil."
What he says amounts to this. Perhaps there will be a reformation. Perhaps! for it is uncertain. So that we ought to withdraw only from those, of whom we can show plainly, and concerning whom we are fully persuaded, that whatever be done, they will not be reformed. "In meekness," he says. In this temper, you see, we ought to address ourselves to those who are willing to learn, and never cease from conversing with them till we have come to the demonstration.(1)
"Who are taken captive by him at his will." It is truly said, "Who are taken captive,"(2) for meanwhile they float in error. Observe here how he teaches to be humble-minded. He has not said, if peradventure you should be able, but, "if peradventure God should grant them a recovery"; if anything be done, therefore, all is of the Lord. Thou plantest, thou waterest but He soweth and maketh it produce fruit. Let us not therefore be so affected, as if we ourselves wrought the persuasion, even if we should persuade any one. "Taken captive by him," he says, "to His will."(1) This no one will say relates to doctrine, but to life. For "His will" is that we live rightly. But some are in the snare of the devil by reason of their life, we ought not therefore to be weary even with respect to these.
"If peradventure," he says, "they may recover, that are taken captive, unto His will." Now "If peradventure," implies much longsuffering. For not to do the will of God is a snare I of the devil.
For as a sparrow, though it be not wholly enclosed, but only caught by the foot, is still under the power of him who set the snare; so though we be not wholly subverted, both in faith and life, but in life only, we are under the power of the devil. For "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven"; and again, "I know you not; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. vii. 21-23.) You set there is no advantage from our faith, when our Lord knows us not: and to the virgins he says the same, "I know you not." (Matt. xxv. 12.) What then is the benefit of virginity, or of many labors, when the Lord knows us not? And in many places we find men not blamed for their faith, but punished for their evil life only; as elsewhere, not reproved for evil lives, but perishing for their pravity of doctrine. For these things hold together.(2) You see that when we do not the will of God, we are under the snare of the devil. And often not only from a bad life, but from one defect, we enter into Hell, where there are not good qualities to counterbalance it, since the virgins were not accused of fornication or adultery, nor of envy or ill-will, nor of drunkenness, nor of unsound faith, but of a failure of oil, that is, they failed in almsgiving, for that is the oil meant.(3) And those who were pronounced accursed in the words, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire," were not accused of any such crimes, but because they had not fed Christ.
MORAL. Seest thou that a failure in alms-giving is enough to cast a man into hell. fire? For where will he avail who does not give alms? Dost thou fast every day? So also did those virgins, but it availed them nothing. Dost thou pray? What of that? prayer without alms-giving is unfruitful, without that all things are unclean and unprofitable. The better part of virtue is destroyed. "He that loveth not his brother," it is said, "knoweth not God." (1 John iv. 8.) And how dost thou love him, when thou dost not even impart to him of these poor worthless things? Tell me, therefore, dost thou observe chastity? On what account? From fear of punishment? By no means. It is of a natural endowment that thou observest it, since if thou wast chaste from fear of punishment, and didst violence to nature in submitting to so severe a rule, much more oughtest thou to do alms. For to govern the desire of wealth, and of bodily pleasures, is not the same thing. The latter is much more difficult to restrain. And wherefore? Because the pleasure is natural, and the desire of it is innate and of natural growth in the body. It is not so with riches. Herein we are able to resemble God, in showing mercy and pity. When therefore we have not this quality, we are devoid of all good. He has not said, "ye shall be like unto your Father, if ye fist," nor "if ye be virgins," nor "if ye pray," hath He said, "ye shall be like unto your Father," for none of these things can be applied to God, nor are they His acts. But what? "Be ye merciful, as your Father in Heaven is merciful." (Luke vi. 36.) This is the work of God. If therefore thou hast not this, what hast thou? He says: "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." (Hosea vi. 6.) God made Heaven, and earth, and sea. Great works these, and worthy of His wisdom! But by none of these has He so powerfully attracted human nature to Himself, as by mercy and the love of mankind. For that indeed is the work of power and wisdom and goodness. But it is far more so that He became a servant. Do we not for this more especially admire Him? are we not for this still more amazed at Him? Nothing attracts God to us so much as mercy. And the prophets from beginning to end discourse upon this subject. But I speak not of mercy that is accompanied with covetousness. That is not mercy. For it is not the root of the thorn but of the olive that produces the oil(4); so it is not the root of covetousness, of iniquity, or of rapine, that produces mercy. Do not put a slander on almsgiving. Do not cause it to be evil spoken of by all. If thou committest robbery for this, that thou mayest give alms, nothing is more wicked than thy almsgiving. For when it is produced by rapine, it is not almsgiving, it is inhumanity, it is cruelty, it is an insult to God. If Cain so offended, by offering inferior gifts of his own, shall he not offend, who offers the goods of another? An offering is nothing else but a sacrifice, a purification, not a pollution. And thou who darest not to pray with unclean hands, dost thou offer the dirt and filth of robbery, and think thou doest nothing wrong? Thou sufferest not thy hands to be full of dirt and filth, but having first cleansed these, thou offerest. Yet that filth is no charge against thee, while the other deserves reproach and blame. Let it not therefore be our consideration, how we may offer prayers and oblations with clean hands, but how the things offered may be pure. If one, after having washed a vessel clean, should fill it with unclean gifts, would it not be ridiculous mockery? Let the hands be clean; and they will be so, if we wash them not with water only, but first with righteousness. This is the purifier of the hands. But if they be full of unrighteousness, though they be washed a thousand times, it avails nothing. "Wash you, make you clean" (Isa. i. 16), He says, but does He add, "Go to the baths, the lakes, the rivers"? No; but what? "Put away the evil of your doings from your souls." This is to be clean.(1) This it is to be cleansed from defilement. This is real purity. The other is of little use; but this bestows upon us confidence towards God. The one may be obtained by adulterers, thieves, murderers, by worthless, and dissolute, and effeminate persons, and especially the latter. For they are ever careful of the cleanliness of their bodies, and scented with perfumes, cleansing their sepulcher.(2) For their body(3) is but a sepulcher, since the soul is dead within it. This cleanness therefore may be theirs,(4) but not that which is inward.
To wash the body is no great matter. That is a Jewish purification, senseless(5) and unprofitable, where purity within is wanting. Suppose one to labor under a putrefying sore, or consuming ulcer; let him wash his body ever so much, it is of no advantage. And if the putrefaction of the body receives no benefit from cleansing and disguising the outward appearance; when the soul is infected with rottenness, what is gained by the purity of the body? Nothing! Our prayers ought to be pure, and pure they cannot be, if they are sent forth from a corrupt soul, and nothing so corrupts the soul as avarice and rapine. But there are some who after committing numberless sins during the day, wash themselves in the evening and enter the churches, holding up their hands with much confidence, as if by the washing of the bath they had put off all their guilt. And if this were the case, it would be a vast advantage to use the bath daily! I would not myself cease to frequent the baths,(6) if it made us pure, and cleansed us from our sins! But these things are trifling and ridiculous, the toys of children. It is not the filth of the body, but the impurity of the soul, to which God is averse. For He says, "Blessed are the pure "--does He say in body? No--"in heart: for they shall see God." (Matt. v. 8.) And what says the Prophet: "Create in me a clean heart, O God." (Ps. li. 10.) And again, "Wash my heart from wickedness." (Jer. iv. 14.)
It is of great use to be in the habit of doing good actions. See how trifling and unprofitable these washings are. But when the soul is prepossessed by a habit, it does not depart from it, nor does it venture to draw nigh in prayer, till it has fulfilled these ceremonies. For instance, we have brought ourselves to a habit of washing and praying, and without washing we do not think it right to pray. And we do not willingly pray with unwashed hands, as if we should offend God, and violate our conscience. Now if this trifling custom has so great power over us, and is observed every day; if we had brought ourselves to a habit of almsgiving, and had determined so constantly to observe it, as never to enter a house of prayer with empty hands, the point would be gained. For great is the power of habit both in good things and in evil, and when this carries us on, there will be little trouble. Many are in the habit of crossing(7) themselves continually, and they need no one to remind them of it, but often when the mind is wandering after other things, the hand is involuntarily drawn by custom, as by some living teacher, to make the sign. Some have brought themselves into a habit of not swearing at all, and therefore neither willingly nor unwillingly do they ever do it. Let us then bring ourselves into such a habit of almsgiving.
What labors were it worth to us to discover such a remedy. For say, were there not the relief of almsgiving, while we still by our numberless sins rendered ourselves liable to Divine vengeance, should we not have lamented sadly? Should we not have said, O that it were possible by our wealth to wash away our sins, and we would have parted with it all! O that by our riches we could put away the wrath of God, then we would not spare our substance? For if we do this in sickness, and at the point of death we say, "If it were possible to buy off death, such an one would give all his possessions"; much more in this matter. For see how great is the love of God for man. He has granted us power to buy off not temporal but eternal death. Do not purchase, He says, this short life, but that life that is everlasting. It is that I sell thee, not the other: I do not mock thee. Didst thou gain the present life, thou hadst gained nothing. I know the worth of that which I offer thee. The bargainers and traffickers in worldly goods do not act thus. They, when they can(1) impose on whom they will, give a little to receive a great deal. It is not so with God. He gives the greater by far for the less.
Tell me, if you were to go to a merchant, and he were to set before you two stones, one of little worth,(2) and the other very precious, and sure to fetch a large amount of wealth; if he allowed you for the price of the cheap one to carry off the more costly, should you complain of him? No! You would rather admire his liberality. So now, two lives are set before us, the one temporal, the other eternal. These God offers us for sale, but He would sell us the latter rather than the former. Why do we complain, like silly children, that we receive the more precious?(3) Is it possible then to purchase life for money? Yes, when what we bestow is our own, and not the property of another; when we do not practice an imposture. But, you say, henceforth the goods are mine. They are not thine after rapine. They are still thy neighbor's, though thou wert a thousand times the master of them. For if thou shouldest receive a deposit, it would not be thine own even for the short season that the depositor was traveling, though it might be laid up with thee. If therefore that is not ours, which we received with the consent and thanks of those who deposited it, even for the short period that we retain it, much less is that ours, which we plundered against the will of its owner. He is the master of it, however long thou mayest withhold it. But Virtue is(4) really our own; as for money, even our own is not strictly ours, much less that of others. Today it is ours, to-morrow it belongs to another. What is of virtue is our own possession. This does not suffer loss, like other things, but is entirely possessed by all who have it. This therefore let us acquire, and let us despise riches, that we may be able to attain those real goods, of which God grant that we may be thought worthy to partake, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
HOMILY VII: 2 TIMOTHY iii. 1-7.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away. For of this sort are they, which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts and pleasures, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
HE had said in the former Epistle, that "the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith" (1 Tim. iv. 1, 2); and elsewhere in this Epistle he foretells that something of this kind will afterwards happen; and here again he does the same thing: "This know, that in the last days perilous times shall come." And this he pronounces not only from the future, but from the past; "As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses." And again from reasoning; "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver." But why does he do this? In order that Timothy may not be troubled, nor any one of us, when there are evil men. If there were such in the time of Moses, and will be hereafter, it is no wonder that there are such in our times.
"In the last days perilous times shall come," he says, that is, exceeding bad times. How shall times be perilous?(5) He says it not blaming the days, nor the times, but the men of those times. For thus it is customary with us to speak of good times or evil times, from the events that happen in them, caused by men. Immediately he sets down the root and fountain, whence these and all other evils spring, that is, overweeningness. He that is seized with this passion is careless even of his own interests. For when a man overlooks the concerns of his neighbor, and is careless of them, how should he regard his own? For as he that looks to his neighbor's affairs will in them order his own to advantage, so he that looks down upon his neighbor's concerns will neglect his own. For if we are members one of another, the welfare of our neighbor is not his concern only, but that of the whole body, and the injury of our neighbor is not confined to him, but distracts with pains all else as well.(1) If we are a building, whatever part is weakened, it affects the whole whilst that which is solid gives strength and support to the rest. So also in the Church, if thou hast slighted thy neighbor, thou has injured thyself. How? In that one of thy own members hath suffered no small hurt. And if he, who does not impart of hid possessions, goes into Hell, much more will he be condemned, who sees a neighbor suffering severer evils, and does not stretch out his hand, since in this case the loss is more grievous.
"For men shall be lovers of their own selves." He that loves himself may be said not to love himself, but he that loves his brother, loves himself in the truest sense. From self-love springs covetousness. For the wretched niggardly temper of self-love contracts that love which should be widely extended, and diffused on every side. "Covetous." From covetousness springs boastfulness, from boastfulness pride, from pride blasphemy, from blasphemy defiance and disobedience. For he who exalts himself against men, will easily do it against God. Thus sins are produced. Often they ascend from below. He that is pious towards men, is still more pious towards God. He who is meek to his fellow-servants, is more meek to his Master. He that despises his fellow-servants, will end with despising God Himself. MORAL. Let us not then despise one another for that is an evil training which teaches us to despise God. And indeed to despise one another is in effect to despise God, Who commanded us to show all regard to one another. And this may be otherwise manifested by an example. Cain despised his brother, and so, immediately after, he despised God. How despised Him? Mark his insolent answer to God; "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. iv. 9.) Again, Esau despised his brother, and he too despised God. Wherefore God said, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." (Rom. ix. 13; Mal. i. 2, 3.) Hence Paul says, "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person as Esau." (Heb. xii. 16.) The brethren of Joseph despised him, and they also despised God. The Israelites despised Moses, and they also despised God. So too the sons of Eli despised the people, and they too despised God. Would you see it also from the contrary? Abraham, who was tender of his brother's son, was obedient to God, as is manifest in his conduct with respect to his son Isaac, and in all his other virtues. Again, Abel was meek to his brother, and he also was pious towards God. Let us not therefore despise one another, lest we learn also to despise God. Let us honor one another, that we may learn also to honor God. He that is insolent with respect to men, will also be insolent with respect to God. But when covetousness and selfishness and insolence meet together, what is wanting to complete destruction? Everything is corrupted, and a foul flood of sins bursts in. "Unthankful," he says. For how can the covetous man be thankful? To whom will he feel gratitude? To no one. He considers all men his enemies, and desires the goods of all. Though you spend your whole substance upon him, he will feel no gratitude. He is angry that you have not more, that you might bestow it upon him. And if you made him master of the whole world, he would still be unthankful, and think that he had received nothing. This desire is insatiable. It is the craving of disease; and such is the nature of the cravings of disease.
He who has a fever can never be satisfied, but with constant desire of drinking, is never filled, but suffers a continual thirst; so he who is mad after wealth never knows the fulfillment of his desire; whatever is bestowed upon him, he is still unsatisfied, and will therefore never be thankful. For he will feel no gratitude to him, who does not give him as much as he wishes, and this no one can ever do. And as there is no limit to his wishes, he will feel no gratitude. Thus no one is so unthankful as the covetous, so insensible as the lover of money. He is the enemy of all the world. He is indignant that there are men. He would have all one vast desert, that he might have the property of all. And many wild imaginations does he form. "O that there were an earthquake," he says, "in the city, that all the rest being swallowed up, I might be left alone, to have, if possible, the possessions of all! O that a pestilence would come and destroy everything but gold! O that there might be a submersion, or an eruption of the sea!" Such are his imaginations. He prays for nothing good, but for earthquakes, and thunderbolts, for wars, and plagues, and the like. Well, tell me now, thou wretched man, more servile than any slave, if all things were gold, wouldest thou not be destroyed by thy gold,(2) and perish with hunger? If the world were swallowed up by an earthquake, thou also wouldest perish by thy fatal desire. For if there were no other men than thyself, the necessaries of life would fail thee. For suppose that the other inhabitants of the earth were destroyed at once, and that their gold and silver came of its own accord to thee. (For such men fancy to themselves absurdities, and impossibilities.) But if their gold and silver, their vests of silk and cloth of gold, came into thy hands, what would it profit thee? Death would only the more certainly overtake thee, when there were none to prepare bread or till the earth for thee; wild beasts would prowl around, and the devil agitate thy soul with fear. Many devils indeed now possess it, but then they would lead thee to desperation, and plunge thee at once into destruction. But you say, "I would wish there should be tilling of the land and men to prepare food." Then they would consume somewhat. "But I would not have them consume anything." So insatiable is this desire! For what can be more ridiculous than this? Seest thou the impossibility of the thing? He wishes to have many to minister to him, yet he grudges them their share of food, because it diminishes his substance! What then? Wouldest thou then have men of stone? This is all a mockery; and waves, and tempest, and huge billows, and violent agitation, and storm, overwhelm the soul. It is ever hungry, ever thirsty. Shall we not pity and mourn for him? Of bodily diseases this is thought a most painful one, and it is called by physicians bulimy,(1) when a man being filled, is yet always hungry. And is not the same disorder in the soul more lamentable? For avarice is the morbid hunger of the soul, which is always filling, never satisfied, but still craving. If it were necessary to drink hellebore, or submit to anything a thousand times worse, would it not be worth our while to undertake it readily, that we might be delivered from this passion? There is no abundance of riches that can fill the belly of greediness. And shall we not be ashamed, that men can be thus transported with the love of money, whilst we show not any proportion of such earnestness in love to God, and honor Him not as bullion is honored? For money men will undergo watchings, and journeyings and continual perils, and hatred, and hostility, and, in short, everything. But we do not venture to utter a mere word for God, nor incur an enmity, but if we are required to assist any of those who are persecuted, we abandon the injured person, withdrawing ourselves from the hatred of the powerful, and the danger it involves. And though God has given us power that we might succor him, yet we suffer him to perish, from our unwillingness to incur men's hatred and displeasure. And this many profess to justify, saying, "Be loved for nothing, but be not hated for nothing." But is this to be hated for nothing? Or what is better than such hatred? For to be hated on account of God is better than to be loved on His account: for when we are loved for God's sake, we are debtors for the honor, but when we are hated for His sake, He is our debtor to reward us. The lovers of wealth know no limit to their love, be it never so great; but we, if we have done ever so little, think that we have fulfilled everything. We love not God as much, no, not by many times over so much, as they love gold. Their inordinate rage for gold is a heavy accusation against them. It is our condemnation that we are not so beside ourselves for God; that we do not bestow upon the Lord of all as much love as they bestow upon mere earth, for gold from the mine is no better.
Let us then behold their madness, and be ashamed of ourselves. For what though we are not inflamed with the love of gold, while we are not earnest in our prayers to God? For in their case men despise wife, children, substance, and their own safety, and that when they are not certain that they shall increase their substance. For often, in the very midst of their hopes, they lose at once their life and their labor. But we, though we know that, if we love Him as we ought to love Him, we shall obtain our desire, yet love Him not, but are altogether cold in our love both to our neighbor and to God; cold in our love to God, because cold in our love to our neighbor. For it is not, indeed it is not possible that a man, who is a stranger to the feeling of love, should have any generosity or manly spirit, since the foundation of all that is good is no other than love. "On this," it is said, "hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt. xxii. 40.) For as fire set to a forest is wont to clear away everything, so the fire of love, wherever it is received, consumes and makes way through everything that is hurtful to the divine harvest, and renders the soil pure and fit for the reception of the seed. Where there is love, all evils are removed. There is no love of money, the root of evil, there is no self-love(2): there is no boasting; for why should one boast over his friend? Nothing makes a man so humble as love. We perform the offices of servants to our friends, and are not ashamed; we are even thankful for the opportunity of serving them. We spare not our property, and often not out persons; for dangers too are encountered at times for him that is loved. No envy, no calumny is there, where there is genuine love. We not only do not slander our friends, but we stop the mouth of slanderers. All is gentleness and mildness. Not a trace of strife and contention appears. Everything breathes peace. For "Love," it is said, "is this fulfilling of the law." (Rom. xiii. 10.) There is nothing offensive with it. How so? Because where love exists, all the sins of covetousness, rapine, envy, slander, arrogance, perjury, and falsehood are done away. For men perjure themselves, in order to rob, but no one would rob him whom he loved, but would rather give him his own possessions. For we are more obliged than if we received from him. Ye know this, all you that have friends, friends, I mean, in reality, not in name only, but whoever loves as men ought to love, whoever is really linked to another. And let those who are ignorant of it learn from those who know.
I will now cite you from the Scriptures a wonderful instance of friendship. Jonathan, the son of Saul, loved David, and his soul was so knit to him, that David in mourning over him says, "Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. Thou wast wounded unto death." (2 Sam. i. 25, 26.) What then? did he envy David? Not at all, though he had great reason. How? Because, by the events he perceived that the kingdom would pass from himself to him, yet he felt nothing of the kind. He did not say, "This is he that is depriving me of my paternal kingdom," but he favored his obtaining the sovereignty; and he spared not his father for the sake of his friend. Yet let not any one think him a parricide, for he did not injure his father, but restrained his unjust attempts. He rather spared than injured him. He did not permit him to proceed to an unjust murder. He was many times willing even to die for his friend, and far from accusing him, he restrained even his father's accusation. Instead of envying, he joined in obtaining the kingdom for him. Why do I speak of wealth? He even sacrificed his own life for him. For the sake of his friend, he did not even stand in awe of his father, since his father entertained unjust designs, but his conscience was free from all such. Thus justice was conjoined with friendship.
Such then was Jonathan. Let us now consider David. He had no opportunity of returning the recompense, for his benefactor was taken away before the reign of David, and slain before he whom he had served came to his kingdom. What then? As far as it was allowed him and left in his power, let us see how that righteous man manifested his friendship. "Very pleasant," he says, "hast thou been to me, Jonathan; thou wast wounded unto death." (2 Sam. i. 25, Gr.) Is this all? This indeed was no slight tribute, but he also frequently rescued from danger his son and his grandson, remembrance of the kindness of the father, and he continued to support and protect his children, as he would have done those of his own son. Such friendship I would wish all to entertain both towards the living and the dead.
Let women listen to this (for it is on their account especially that I refer to the departed) who enter into a second marriage, and defile the bed of their deceased husband, though they have loved him.(1) Not that I forbid a second marriage, or pronounce it a proof of wantonness, for Paul does not allow me, stopping my mouth by saying to women, "If she marry she hath not sinned." (1 Cor. vii. 28 and 40.) Yet let us attend to what follows, "But she is happier if she so abide." This state is much better than the other. Wherefore? for many reasons. For if it is better not to marry at all than to marry, much more in this case. "But some, you say, could not endure widowhood, and have fallen into many misfortunes." Yes; because they know not what widowhood is. For it is not widowhood to be exempt from a second marriage, as neither is it virginity to be altogether unmarried. For as "that which is comely," and "that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction," is the mark of the one state, so it is the mark of the other to be desolate, to "continue in supplications and prayers," to renounce luxury and pleasure. For "she that liveth in pleasure is dead whilst she liveth." (1 Tim. v. 6.) If remaining a widow, thou wouldest have the same pomp, the same show, the same attire, as thou hadst while thy husband was living, it were better for thee to marry. For it is not the union that is objectionable, but the multitude of cares that attend it. But that which is not wrong, thou dost not: but that which is not indifferent, which is liable to blame, in that thou involvest thyself. On this account "some have turned aside after Satan," because they have not been able to live properly as widows.
Wouldest thou know what a widow is, and what a widow's dignity, hear Paul's account of it. "If she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." (1 Tim. v. 10.) But when after the death of thy husband, thou art arrayed in the same pomp of wealth, no wonder if thou canst not support widowhood. Transfer this wealth, therefore, to heaven, and thou wilt find the burden of widowhood tolerable. But, thou sayest, what if I have children to succeed to their father's inheritance? Instruct them also to despise riches. Transfer thy own possessions, reserving for them just a sufficiency. Teach them too to be superior to riches. But what if besides my silver and gold, I am surrounded by a crowd of slaves, oppressed by a multitude of affairs, how shall I be equal to the care of all these things, when deprived of the support of my husband? This is but an excuse, a pretense, as appears from many causes. For if thou dost hot deserve wealth, nor seek to increase thy present possessions, thy burden will be light. To get riches is much more laborious than to take care of them. If therefore thou cuttest off this one thing, accumulating, and suppliest the needy out of thy substance, God will hold over thee His protecting hand. And if thou sayest this from a real desire to preserve the inheritance of thy fatherless children, and art not, under this pretense, possessed with covetousness; He who searches the heart knows how to secure their riches, even He who commanded thee to bring up children.
For it is not possible, indeed it is not, that a house established by almsgiving should suffer any calamity. If it should be unfortunate for a time, in the end it will prosper. This will be more than spear and shield to all the household. Hear what the devil says concerning Job. "Hast not thou made an hedge about him and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?" (Job i. 10.) Wherefore? Hear Job himself saying, "I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the orphans." (Job xxix. 15.) As he who does not turn aside from the calamities of others, will not suffer even in his own misfortunes, because he has learnt to sympathize; so he who will not bear the griefs of sympathy, will learn all sorrow in his own person.(1) And, as in the case of a bodily disease, if, when the foot is mortified, the hand does not sympathize by cleansing the wound, washing away the discharge, and applying a plaster, it will suffer the like disease of its own; so she who will not minister to another when she is not herself afflicted, will have to bear sufferings of her own. For the evil spreading from the other part will reach to this also, and the question will not be of ministering to the other, but of its own cure and relief. So it is here also. He that will not relieve others, will be a sufferer himself. "Thou hast hedged him in," saith Satan, "within and without," and I dare not attack him! But he suffered afflictions, you say. True. But those afflictions were the occasion of great good. His substance was doubled, his reward increased, his righteousness enlarged, his crown was splendid, his prize glorious. Both his spiritual and temporal blessings were augmented. He lost his children, but he received, not these restored, but others in their room, and those too he had safe for the Resurrection. Had they been restored, the number would have been diminished, but now having given others in their stead, He will present them also at the Resurrection. All these things happened to him, because of his openhandedness in almsgiving. Let us then do likewise, that we may obtain the same rewards by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
HOMILY VIII: 2 TIMOTHY iii. 1-4.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."
IF any now takes offense at the existence of heretics, let him remember that it was so from the beginning, the devil always setting up error by the side of truth. God from the beginning promised good, the devil came too with a promise. God planted Paradise, the devil deceived, saying, "Ye shall be as gods." (Gen. iii. 5.) For as he could show nothing in actions, he made the more promises in words. Such is the character of deceivers. After this were Cain and Abel, then the sons of Seth and the daughters of men; afterwards Ham and Japhet, Abraham and Pharaoh, Jacob and Esau; and so it is even to the end, Moses and the magicians, the Prophets and the false prophets, the Apostles and the false apostles, Christ and Antichrist. Thus it was then, both before and at that time. Then there was Theudas, then Simon, then were the Apostles, then too this party of Hermogenes and Philetus. In short, there was no time when falsehood was not set up in opposition to truth. Let us not therefore be distressed. That it would be so, was foretold from the beginning. Therefore he says, "Know that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection." The unthankful then is unholy, and this is natural, for what will he be to others, who is not grateful to his benefactor? The unthankful man is a truce-breaker, he is without natural affection.
"False accusers," that is, slanderers. For those who are conscious that they have no good in themselves, whilst they commit many sins and offenses, find consolation in defaming the characters of others.
"Incontinent," with respect both to their tongue and their appetite, and everything else.
"Fierce," hence their inhumanity and cruelty, when any one is covetous selfish, ungrateful, licentious.
"Despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady." "Traitors," betrayers of friendship; "heady" having no steadiness; "high-minded," filled with arrogance. "Lover of pleasures more than lovers of God."
Ver. 5. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."
In the Epistle to the Romans, he says somewhat on this wise, "Having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law" (Rom. ii. 20), where he speaks in commendation of it: but here he speaks of this sin as an evil beyond all other defects. And why is this? Because he does not use the words in the same signification. For an image is often taken to signify a likeness; but sometimes a thing without life, and worthless. Thus he says himself in his Epistle to the Corinthians, "A man ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God." (1 Cor. xi. 7.) But the Prophet says, "Man walketh in an image." (Ps. xxxix. 9, Gr.) And the Scripture sometimes takes a lion to represent royalty, as, "He couched as a lion, and as a lion's whelp, who shall raise him up?" (Gen. xlix. 9, Gr.) And sometimes to signify rapacity, as, "a ravening and a roaring lion." (Ps. xxii. 13.) And we ourselves do the same. For as things are compounded and varied in themselves, they are fitly adduced for various images and examples. As when we would express our admiration of a beautiful woman, we say, she is like a picture; and when we admire a painting, we say that it speaks, that it breathes But we do not mean to express the same thing, but in one case to mark likeness, in the other beauty. So here with respect to form, in the one passage, it means a model, or representation, a doctrine, or pattern of godliness; in the other, something that is lifeless, a mere appear out the power. For as a fair and florid body, when it has no strength, is like a painted figure, so is a right faith apart from works. For let us suppose any one to be "covetous, a traitor, heady," and yet to believe aright; of what advantage is it, if he wants all the qualities becoming a Christian, if he does not the works that characterize godliness, but outdoes the Greeks in impiety, when he is a mischief to those with whom he associates, causes God to be blasphemed, and the doctrine to be slandered by his evil deeds?
"From such turn away" he says. But how is this, if men are to be so "in the latter times"? There were probably then such, in some degree at least, though not to the same excess. But, in truth, through him he warns all to turn away from such characters.
Ver. 6. "For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lust."
Vet. 7. "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Do you see them employing the artifice of that old deceiver, the weapons which the devil used against Adam? "Entering into houses," he says. Observe how he shows their impudence by this expression,(1) their dishonorable ways, their deceitfulness. "Leading captive silly women," so that he who is easy to be deceived is a "silly woman," and nothing like a man: for to be deceived is the part of silly women. "Laden with sins." See whence arises their persuasion, from their sins, from their being conscious to themselves of nothing good! And with great propriety has he said "laden."(2) For this expression marks the multitude of their sins, and their state of disorder and confusion; "led away with divers lusts." He does not accuse nature, for it is not women simply, but such women as these, that he blames. And why "divers lusts"? by that are implied their various faults, their luxury, their disorderly conduct, their wantonness. "Divers lust" he says, that is, of glory, of wealth, of pleasure, of self- will, of honor: and perchance other vile desires are implied.
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." He does not say thus to excuse, but to threaten them severely; for their understanding was callous because they had weighed themselves down with lusts and sins.
Ver. 8. "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth."
Who are these?(3) The magicians in the time of Moses. But how is it their names are nowhere else introduced? Either they were handed down by tradition, or it is probable that Paul knew them by inspiration.
"Men of corrupt minds," he says, "reprobate concerning the faith."
Ver. 9. "But they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifested unto all men, as theirs also was."
"They shall proceed no further"; how then does he say elsewhere, "They will increase unto more ungodliness"? (2 Tim. ii. 16.) He there means, that beginning to innovate and to deceive, they will not pause in their error, but will always invent new deceits and corrupt doctrines, for error is never stationary. But here he says, that they shall not be able to deceive, nor carry men away with them, for however at first they may seem to impose upon them, they will soon and easily be detected. For that he is speaking to this effect appears from what follows. "For their folly shall be manifest unto all." Whence? Every way--" as theirs also was." For if errors flourish at first, they do not continue to the end for so it is with things that are not fair by nature, but fair in appearance; they flourish for a time, and then are detected, and come to nought. But not such are our doctrines, and of these thou art a witness, for in our doctrines there is no deceit, for who would choose to die for a deceit?
Ver. 10. "But thou hast fully known(1) my doctrine." Wherefore be strong; for thou wert not merely present, but didst follow closely. Here he seems to imply that the period had been long, in that he says, "Thou hast followed up my doctrine"; this refers to his discourse. "Manner of life"; this to his conduct. "Purpose"; this to his zeal, and the firmness of his soul. I did not say these things, he says, and not do them; nor was I a philosopher in words only. "Faith, longsuffering." He means how none of these things troubled me. "Charity," which those men had not; "patience," nor yet this. Towards the heretics, he means, I show much longsuffering; "patience," that under persecution.
Ver. 11. "Persecutions, afflictions"
There are two things that disquiet a teacher, the number of heretics, and men's wanting fortitude to endure sufferings. And yet he has said much about these, that such always have been, and always will be, and no age will be free from them, and that they will not be able to injure us, and that in the world there are vessels of gold and of silver. You see how he proceeds to discourse about his afflictions, "which came upon me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra."
Why has he selected these instances out of many? Because the rest was known to Timothy, and these perhaps were new events, and he does not mention the former ones, for he is not enumerating them particularly, for he is not actuated by ambition or vainglory, but he recounts them for the consolation of his disciple, not from ostentation. And here he speaks of Antioch in Pisidia, and Lystra, whence Timothy himself was. "What persecutions I endured." There was twofold matter of consolation, that I displayed a generous zeal, and that I was not forsaken. It cannot be said, that God abandoned me, but He rendered my crown more radiant.
"What persecutions I endured: but out of But why, he says, should I speak only of myself? Each one that will live godly will be persecuted. Here he calls afflictions and sorrows, "persecutions," for it is not possible that a man pursuing the course of virtue should not be exposed to grief, tribulation, and temptations. For how can he escape it who is treading in the strait and narrow way, and who has heard, that "in the world ye shall have tribulation"? (John xvi. 33.) If Job in his time said, "The life of man upon earth h a state of trial" (Job vii. 1, Gr.); how much more was it so in those days?
Ver. 13. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived?."
Let none of these things, he says, disturb thee, if they are in prosperity, and thou in trials. Such is the nature of the case. From my own instance thou mayest learn that it is impossible for man, in his warfare with the wicked, not to be exposed to tribulation. One cannot be in combat and live luxuriously, one cannot be wrestling and feasting. Let none therefore of those who are contending seek for ease or joyous living. Again, the present state is contest, warfare, tribulation, straits, and trials, and the very scene of conflicts. The season for rest is not now, this is the time for toil and labor. No one who has just stripped and anointed himself thinks of ease. If thou thinkest of ease, why didst thou strip, or prepare to fight? "But do I not maintain the fight?" you say. What, when thou dost not conquer thy desires, nor reset the evil bias of nature?
Ver. 14. "But continue thou in the things that thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through the faith which in Christ Jesus."
What is this? As the prophet David exhorted, saying, "Be not thou envious against the workers of iniquity" (Ps. xxxvii. 1) so Paul exhorts, "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned" and not simply learned, but "hast been assured of," that is, hast believed. And what have I believed? That this is the Life. And if thou seest things happening contrary to thy belief, be not troubled. The same happened to Abraham, yet he was not affected by it. He had heard, "In Isaac shall they seed be called" (Gen. xxi. 12); and he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac yet he was not troubled nor dismayed. Let no one be offended because of the wicked. This the Scripture taught from the beginning.
What then, if the good be in prosperity, and the wicked be punished? The one is likely to happen, the other not so. For the wicked will possibly be punished, but the good cannot always be rejoicing. No one was equal to Paul yet he passed all his life in afflictions, in tears and groanings night and day. "For the space of three years," he says, "I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." (Acts xx. 31.) And again: "That which cometh upon me daily." (1 Cor. xi. 28.) He did not rejoice to-day, and grieve to-morrow, but he ceased not daily to grieve. How then does he say, "Evil men shall wax worse and worse"? He has not said, they shall find rest, but" they shall wax worse and worse." Their progress is for the worse. He has not said, they shall be in prosperity. But if they are punished, they are punished that thou mayest not suppose their sins are unavenged. For since we are not deterred from wickedness by the fear of hell, in very tenderness He rouses us from our insensibility, and awakens us. If no wicked man was ever punished, no one would believe that God presides over human affairs. If all were punished, no one would expect a future resurrection, since all had receded their due here. On this account He both punishes, and forbears to punish. On this account the righteous suffer tribulation here, because they are sojourners, and strangers, and are in a foreign country. The just therefore endure these things for the purpose of trial. For hear what God said to Job: "Thinkest thou that I have warned thee other- any affliction suffer but the punishment of their sins. Under all circumstances, therefore, whether afflictive or otherwise, let us give thanks to God. For both are beneficial. He does nothing in hatred or enmity to us, but all things from care and consideration for us.
"Knowing that from a child thou hast known the sacred writings. The holy Scriptures he calls "sacred writings." In these thou wast nurtured, so that through them thy faith ought to be firm and unshaken. For the root was laid deep, and nourished by length of time,(2) nor will anything subvert it. that is, they will not suffer thee to have any foolish feeling, such as most men have. For he who knows the Scriptures as he ought, is not offended at anything that happens; he endures all things manfully, referring them partly to faith, and to the incomprehensible nature of the divine dispensation, and partly knowing reasons for them, and finding examples in the Scriptures. Since it is a great sign of knowledge not to be curious about everything, nor to wish to know all things. And if you will allow me, I will explain myself by an example. Let us suppose a river, or rather rivers (I ask no allowance, I only speak of what rivers really are,) all are not of the same depth. Some have a shallow bed, others one deep enough to drown one unacquainted with it. In one part there are whirlpools, and not in another. It is good therefore to forbear to make trial of all,(3) and it is no small proof of knowledge not to wish to sound all the depths: whereas he that would venture on every part of the river, is really most ignorant of the peculiar nature of rivers and will often be in danger of perishing from venturing into the deeper parts with the same boldness with which he crossed the shallows. So it is in the things of God. He that will know all things, and ventures to intrude into everything, he it is that h most ignorant what God is. And of rivers indeed, the greater part is safe, and the depths and whirlpools few, but with respect to the things of God, the greater part is hidden, and it is not possible to trace out His works. Why then art thou bent on drowning thyself in those depths?
Know this, however, that God dispenses all things, that He provides for all, that we are free agents, that some things He works, and some things He permits; that He wills noting evil to be done; that all things are not done by His will, but some by ours also; all evil things by ours alone, all good things by our will conjointly with His influence; and that nothing is without His knowledge. Therefore He worketh all things.(4) Thou then knowing this canst reckon what things are good, what are evil, and what are indifferent. Thus virtue is good, vice is evil; but riches and poverty life and death, are things indifferent. If thou knowest this, thou wilt know thereby, that the righteous are afflicted that they may be crowned, the wicked, that they may receive the punishment of their sins. But all sinners are not punished here, lest the generality should disbelieve the Resurrection; nor all the righteous afflicted, lest men should think that vice, and not virtue, is approved. These are the rules and limits. Bring what you will to the test of these, and you will not be perplexed with doubt. For as there is among calculators the number of six thousand, to which all things can be reduced, and everything can be divided and multiplied in the scale of six thousand, and this is known to all who are acquainted with arithmetic(1); so he who knows those rules, which I will briefly recapitulate, will never be offended. And what are these? That virtue is a good, vice an evil; that diseases, poverty, ill-treatment, false accusations, and the like, are things indifferent; that the righteous are afflicted here or if ever they are in prosperity, it is that virtue may not appear odious; that the wicked enjoy pleasure now that hereafter they may be punished, or if they are sometimes visited, it is that vice may not seem to be approved, nor their actions to go unpunished; that all are not punished, lest there should be a disbelief of the time of resurrection; that even of the good, some who have done bad actions are quit of them here; and of the wicked, some have good ones, and are rewarded for them here, that their wickedness may be punished hereafter (Matt. vi. 5); that the works of God are for the most part incomprehensible, and that the difference between us and Him is greater than can be expressed. If we reason on these grounds, nothing will be able to trouble or perplex us. If we listen to the Scriptures continually, we shall find many such examples.
"Which are able," he says, "to make thee wise unto salvation."
For the Scriptures suggest to us what is to be done, and what is not to be done. For hear this blessed one elsewhere saying, "Thou art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes?" (Rom. ii. 19, 20.) Thou seest that the Law is the light of them which are in darkness; and if that which showeth the letter, the letter which killeth, is light, what then is the Spirit which quickeneth? If the Old Covenant is light, what is the New, which contains so many, and so great revelations? where the difference is as great, as if any one should open heaven to those who only know the earth, and make all things there visible. There we learn concerning hell, heaven, and judgment. Let us not believe in things irrational. They are nothing but imposture. "What," you say, "when what they foretell comes to pass?" It is because you believe it, if it does come to pass. The impostor has taken thee captive. Thy life is in his power, he manages thee as he win. If a captain of robbers should have under his power and disposal the son of a king, who had fled to him, preferring the desert, and his lawless company, would he be able to pronounce whether he would live or die? Assuredly he would, not because he knows the future, but because he is the disposer of his life or death, the youth having put himself in his power. For according to his own pleasure, he may either kill him, or spare his life, as he is become subject to him, and it is equally at his(2) disposal to sat whether thou shalt be rich or poor. The greater part of the world have delivered themselves up into the hands of the devil.
And furthermore, it contributes much to favor the pretenses of these deceivers, that a man has accustomed himself to believe in them. For no one takes notice of their failures, but their lucky conjectures are observed. But if these men have any power of prognosticating, bring them to me, a believer. I say not this, as magnifying myself, (for it is no great honor to be superior to these things,) and indeed I am deep-laden with sins; but with respect to these matters, I will not be humble-minded; by the grace of God I despise them all. Bring me this pretender to magic; let him, if he has any power of prognosticating, tell me what will happen to me to-morrow. But he will not tell me. For I am under the power of the King, and he has no claim to my allegiance or submission. I am far from his holes and caverns. I war under the king. "But some one committed theft," you say, "and this man discovered it." This is not always true, certainly, but for the most part absurdities and falsehoods. For they know nothing. If indeed they know anything, they ought rather to speak of their own concerns, how the numerous offerings to their idols have been stolen, how so much of their gold has been melted. Why have they not informed their Priests? Even for the sake of money, they have not been able to give information when their idol-temples have been burnt, and many have perished with them.(3) Why do they not provide for their own salty? But it is altogether a matter of chance, if they have predicted anything. With us there are prophets, and they do not fail. They do not speak truth in one instance and falsehood in another, but always declare the truth; for this is the privilege of foreknowledge.
Cease, then, from this madness, I beseech you, if at bast you believe in Christ; and if you believe not, why do you expose yourselves? Why do you deceive? "How long win ye halt on both your hips?" (1 Kings xviii. 21, Sept.) Why do you go to them? Why enquire of them? The infant you go to them, the infant you enquire, you put yourself in slavery to them. For you enquire, as if you believed. "No," you say, "I do not enquire, as believing, but making trial of them." But to make trial, whether they speak the truth, is the part not of one who believes that they are false, but of one who still doubts. Wherefore then dost thou enquire what will happen? For if they answered, "This will happen, but do so and so, and thou wilt escape it"; even in that case thou oughtest by no means to be an idolater; yet thy madness were not so great. But if they foretell future events,(1) he that listens to them will gain nothing more than unavailing sorrow. The event does not happen, but he suffers the uneasiness, and torments(2) himself.
If it were for our good, God would not have grudged us this foreknowledge. He who has revealed to us things in heaven, would not have envied us. For, "All things," He says, "that I have heard of the Father I have made known unto you "; and, "I call you not servants, but friends. Ye are my friends" (John xv. 15.) Why then did He not make these things known unto us? Because He would not have us concerned about them. And as a proof that He does not envy us this knowledge, such things were revealed to the ancients, because they were babes, even about an ass,(4) and the like. But to us, because He would not have us concerned about such things, He has not cared to reveal them. But what do we learn? Things which they never knew, for little indeed were all those things of old. But what we are taught is this, that we shall rise again, that we shall be immortal, and incorruptible, that our life shall have no end, that all things will pass away, that we shall be caught up in the clouds, that the wicked shall suffer punishment, and numberless other things, and in all these there is no falsehood. Is it not better to know these than to hear that the ass that was lost is found? Lo, thou hast gotten thine ass! Lo, thou hast found him! What is thy gain? Will he not soon be lost again some other way? For if he leave thee not, at bast thou wilt lose him in thy death. But the things which I have mentioned, if we will but hold them fast, we shall retain perpetually. These therefore let us pursue. To these stable and enduring goods let us attach ourselves. Let us not give heed to soothsayers, fortune-tellers, and jugglers, but to God who knoweth all things certainly, whose knowledge is universal. Thus we shall know all that it befits us to know, and shall obtain all good things, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
HOMILY IX: 2 TIMOTHY iii. 16, 17.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." [R. V.: Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable &c.]
HAVING offered much exhortation and consolation from other sources, he adds that which is more perfect, derived from the Scriptures; and he is reasonably full in offering consolation, be- breath, when he saw him departing as it were in death,(3) rent his garments for grief, what think to die, and that he could not enjoy his company when he was near his death which is above all things apt to be distressing? For we are less grateful for the past time, when we have been deprived of the more recent intercourse of those who are departed. For this reason when he had previously offered much consolation, he then discourses concerning his own death: and this m no ordinary way, but is words adapted to comfort him and fill him with joy; so as to have it considered as a sacrifice rather than a death; a migration, as in fact it was, and a removal to a better state. "For I am now ready to be offered up" (2 Tim. iv. 6), he says. For this reason he writes: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,(5) and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" All what Scripture? all that sacred writing, he means, of which I was speaking. This is said of what he was discoursing of; about which he said, "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures." All such, then, "is given by inspiration of God"; therefore, he means, do not doubt; and it is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works"
"For doctrine." For thence we shall know, whether we ought to learn or to be ignorant of anything. And thence we may disprove what is false, thence we may be corrected and brought to a right mind, may be comforted and consoled, and if anything is deficient, we may have it added to us.
"That the man of God may be perfect." For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If thou wouldest learn anything, thou mayest learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us!
"Thoroughly furnished unto all good works";
Chap. iv. 1. "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead."
He either means the wicked and the just, or the departed and those that are still living; for many will be left alive. In the former Epistle he raised his fears, saying. "I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things" (1 Tim. vi. 13): but here he sets before him what is more dreadful "Who shall judge the quick and the dead," that is, Who shall call them to account "at His appearing and His kingdom." When shah He judge? at His appearing with glory, and in His kingdom. Either he says this to show that He will not come in the way that He now has come, or, "I call to witness His coming, and His kingdom. He calls Him to witness, showing that he had reminded Him of that appearing. Then teaching him how he ought to preach the word, he adds,
Ver. 2. "Preach the word: be infant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
What means "in season, out of season"? That is, have not any limited season: let it always be thy season, not only in peace and security, and when sitting in the Church. Whether thou be in danger, in prison, in chains, or going to thy death, at that very time reprove. Withhold not rebuke, for reproof is then most seasonable, when thy rebuke will be most successful, when the reality is proved. "Exhort," he says. After the manner of physicians, having shown the wound, he gives the incision, he applies the plaster. For if you omit either of these, the other becomes useless. If you rebuke without convicting you will seem to be rash, and no one will tolerate it, but after the matter is proved, he will submit to rebuke: before, he will be headstrong. And if you convict and rebuke, but vehemently, and do not apply exhortation,(1) all your labor will be lost. For conviction(2) is intolerable in itself if consolation be not mingled with it. As if incision, though salutary in itself, have not plenty of lenitives to assuage the pain, the patient cannot endure cutting and hacking, so it is in this matter.
"With all longsuffering and doctrine." For he that reproves is required to be longsuffering, that he may not believe hastily, and rebuke needs consolation, that it may be received as it ought. And why to "longsuffering" does he add "doctrine"? "Not as in anger, not as in hatred, not as insulting over him, not as having caught an enemy. Far be these things from thee." But how? As loving as sympathizing with him, as more distressed than himself at his grief, as melted at his sufferings? "With all longsuffering and doctrine." No ordinary teaching is implied.
Ver. 3. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine."
Before they grow stiffnecked,(3) preoccupy them all. For this reason he says, "in season, out of season "; do everything so as to have willing disciples.
"But after their own lusts," he says, "shall they heap to themselves teachers."
Nothing can be more expressive than these words For by saying "they shall heap to themselves," he shows the indiscriminate multitude of the teachers, as also by their being elected by their disciples. "They shall heap to themselves teachers" he says, "having itching ears." Seeking for such as speak to gratify and delight their hearers.
Ver. 4. "And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables."
This he foretells, not as willing to throw him into despair, but to prepare him to bear it firmly, when it shall happen. As Christ also did m saying "They will deliver you up, and they will scourge you, and bring you before the synagogues, for My name's sake." (Matt. x. 17.) And this blessed man elsewhere says, "For I know this, that after my departures shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." (Acts xx. 29.) But this he said that they might watch, and duly use the present opportunity.
Ver. 5. "But watch thou in all things, endure affliction."
It was for this therefore, that he foretold these things; as Christ also toward the end predicted that there should be "false Christs and false prophets; so he too, when he was about to depart, spoke of these things. "But watch thou in all things, endure affliction"; that is, labor, preoccupy their minds before this pestilence assails them; secure the safety of the sheep before the wolves enter in, everywhere endure hardship.
"Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Thus it was the work of an evangelist that he should endure hardship, both in himself, and from those without; "make full proof of" that is, fulfill" thy ministry." And behold another necessity for his enduring affliction,
Ver. 6. "For I am now ready to be poured out,(1) and the time of my departure is at hand."
He has not said of my sacrifice; but, what is
Often, when I have taken the Apostle into my hands, and have considered this passage, I have been at a loss to understand why Paul here speaks so loftily: "I have fought the good fight." But now by the grace of God I seem to have found it out. For what purpose then does he speak thus? He is desirous to console the despondency of his disciple, and therefore bids him be of good cheer, since he was going to his crown, having finished all his work, and obtained a glorious end. Thou oughtest to rejoice, he says, not to grieve. And why? Because, "I have fought the good fight." As a father whose son was sitting by him, bewailing his orphan state, might console him, saying, Weep not, my son; we have lived a good life, we have arrived at old age, and now we leave thee. Our life has been irreproachable, we depart with glory, and thou mayest be held in admiration for our actions, Our king is much indebted to us. As if he had said, We have raised trophies, we have conquered enemies, and this not boastfully. God forbid; but to raise up his dejected son, and to encourage him by his praises in heart." (1 Thess. ii. 17.) If he then felt so much at being separated from his disciples, what thinkest thou were the feelings of Timothy? If on parting from him whilst living he wept, so that Paul says, "Being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy." (2 Tim. i. 4), how much more at his death? These things then he wrote to console him. Indeed the whole Epistle is full of consolation, and is a sort of Testament. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." "A good fight," he says, therefore do thou engage in it. But is that a good fight, where there are imprisonment, chains, and death? Yea, he says for it is fought in the cause of Christ, and great crowns are won in it. "The good fight"! There is no worthier than this contest. This crown is without end. This is not of olive leaves. It has not a human umpire. It has not men for spectator. The theater is crowded with Angels. There men labor many days, and suffer hardships, and for one hour they receive the crown, and immediately all the pleasure passes away. But here far otherwise, it continues for ever in brightness, us both to contend and to run; to contend, by enduring afflictions firmly, and to run, not vainly, but to some good end. It is truly a good fight, not only delighting, but benefiting the spectator: and the race does not end in nothing It is not a mere display of strength and of rivalry. It draws all up to heaven. This race is, brighter than the sun's yea, this which Paul ran upon earth, than that which he runs in heaven. And how had he "finished his course"? He traversed the whole world, beginning from Galilee and Arabia, and advancing to the extremities of the each, so that, as he says, "From Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ." (Rom. xv. 19.) He passed over the earth like a bird, or rather more swiftly than a bird: for a bird only flies over it, but he, having the wing of the Spirit, made his way through numberless impediments, dangers, deaths, and calamities, so that he was even teeter than a bird. Had he been a mere bird, he might have alighted and been taken, but bring upborne by the Spirit he soared above all snares as a bird with a wing of fire.
"I have kept the faith," he says. There were many things that would have robbed him of it, not only human friendships, but menances, and deaths, and countless other perils: but he stood firm against all. How? by being sober and watchful. This might have sufficed for the consolation of his disciples, but he further adds the rewards. And what are these?
Ver. 8. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."
Here again he calls virtue in general righteousness. Thou shouldest not grieve that I shall depart, to be invested with that crown which will by Christ be placed upon my head. But if I continued here, truly thy mightest rather grieve, and fear lest I should fail and perish.
Ver. 8. "Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me Christ? By rejoicing at His coming; and he who rejoices at His coming, will perform works worthy of His joy; he will throw away his substance if need be, and even his life, so that he may obtain future blessings, that he may be thought worthy to behold that second coming in a fitting state, in confidence, in brightness and glory. This is to "love His appearing." He who loves His appearing will do everything to ensure, before His general coming, a particular coming to himself. And how, you will say, is this possible? Hear from Christ, who and make Our abode with him." (John xiv. promise to come to us in particular: for He says, "We will come and make Our abode with him." If any man "love His appearing," he will do everything to invite Him to himself, and to hold Him, that the light may shine upon him. Let there be nothing unworthy of His coming, and He will soon take up His abode with us.
And it is called His "Epiphany,"(1) because He will appear above,(2) and shine forth from on high. Let us therefore "seek those things that are above," and we shall soon draw down those beams upon us. None of those who grovel below, and bury themselves in this lower earth, will be able to view the light of that Sun. None of those who defile themselves with worldly things will be able to behold that Sun of right- thyself from that depth, from the waves of a worldly life, if thou wouldest see the Sun, and enjoy His appearing. Then thou wilt see Him with great confidence. Be even now a philosopher. Let not a spirit of perverseness possess thee, lest He smite thee severely, and bring thee low. Let not thy heart be hardened; nor darkened, lest thou be shipwrecked there. Let there be no self-deceit. For the rocks beneath the sea cause the most fatal shipwrecks. Nourish no wild beasts, I mean evil passions, worse than wild beasts. Confide not in things ever flowing, that thou mayest be able to stand firmly. None can stand upon water, but upon a rock all find a secure footing. Worldly things are as water, as a torrent, that passes away. "The waters," he saith, "are come in unto my soul." (Ps. lxix. that we suffer for Christ. This divine incantation let us repeat, and it will charm away the pain of every wound.
And how can we suffer for Christ, you ask? If one accuse thee falsely in any case, not on account of Christ, yet if thou bearest it patiently, if thou givest thanks, if thou prayest for him, all this thou doest for Christ. But if thou curse him, if thou utter discontent, if thou attempt to revenge it, though thou shouldest not be able, it is not for Christ's sake; thou sufferest loss, and art deprived of thy reward on account of thy intention. For it rests with us either to the disposition of our own minds. As, for instance, great were the sufferings of Job, yet he suffered with thankfulness; and he was justified, not because he suffered, but because in suffering he endured it thankfully. Another under the same sufferings, yet not the same, for none ever suffered like Job--but under lighter sufferings, exclaims is impatient, curses the whole world, and complains against God. He is condemned and sentenced, not because he suffered, but because he blasphemed; and he blasphemed, not from any necessity arising from his afflictions, since if necessity arising from events were the cause, Job too must have blasphemed; but since he, who suffered more severely, did no such thing, it did not come to pass from this cause, but from the man's weakness of purpose. We want therefore strength of soul, and nothing will then appear grievous, but if our soul is weak, we find a grievance in everything.
According to our dispositions, all things become tolerable or intolerable. Let us strengthen our resolution, and we shall bear all things easily. The tree whose roots are fixed deep in the earth is not shaken by the utmost violence of the storm, but if it be set lightly in the surface of the ground, a slight gust of wind will tear it up from the roots. So it is with us; if our flesh be nailed down by the fear of God, nothing will be able to shake us; but if we merely intend well, a little shock will subvert and destroy us. Where- soul cleaveth to Thee "; observe, he says not, draweth nigh, but "cleaveth to Thee"; and again, "My soul thirsteth for Thee." (Ps. lxii. 3.) He said not merry "longeth," that he might by such words express the vehemence of so to cleave and be united to Him, that we may never be separated from Him. If thus we hold by God, if thus we rivet our thoughts upon Him, if we thirst with the love of Him, all that we desire will be ours, and we shall obtain the good things to come, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and for ever. Amen.
HOMILY X: 2 TIMOTHY iv. 9-13.
"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments."
IT is worth while to enquire why he calls Timothy to him, inasmuch as he was intrusted with a Church, and a whole nation. It was not from arrogance. For Paul was ready to come to him; for we find him saying, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God." (1 Tim. iii.15.) But he was withholden by a strong necessity. He was no longer matter of his own movements. He was in prison, and had been confined by Nero, and was all but on the point of death. That this might not happen before he saw his disciple, he therefore sends for him, desiring to see him before he dies, and perhaps to deliver much in charge to him. Wherefore he says "Hasten to come to me before the winter."
"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." He does not say, "That I may see thee before I depart this life," which would have grieved him, but "because I am alone," he says, "and have no one to help or support me."
"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is deputed to Thessalonica"; that is, having loved his own ease and security from danger, he has chosen rather to live luxuriously at home, than to suffer hardships with me, and share my present danger. He has blamed him alone, not for the sake of blaming him, but to confirm us, that we may not be effeminate in declining toils and dangers, for this is, "having loved this present world." At the same time he wishes to draw his disciple to him.
"Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia."
These he does not censure. For Titus was one of the most admirable men, so that to him he intrusted the affairs of the island, no small island, I mean, but that great one of Crete.
"Only Luke is with me." For he adhered to him inseparably. It was he who wrote the Gospel, and the General(2) Acts; he was devoted to labors, and to learning, and a man of fortitude; of him Paul writes, "whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches." (2 COR. viii. 18.)
"Take Mark, and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
It is not for his own relief, but for the ministry imprisoned, he did not cease to preach. So it was on the same account he sent for Timothy, not for his own, but for the Gospel's sake, that his death might occasion no disturbance to the faithful, when many of his own disciples were present to prevent tumults, and to console those who would scarce have endurance to bear up at his death. For it is probable that the believers at Rome were men of consequence.
"And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments."
The word here translated "cloak"(4) may mean a garment, or, as some say, a bag, in which the books were contained. But what had he to do with books, who was about to depart and go to God? He needed them much, that he might deposit them in the hands of the faithful, who would retain them in place of his own teaching. All the faithful, then, would suffer a great blow, but particularly those who were present at his death, and then enjoyed his society. But the cloak he requires, that he might not be obliged to receive one from another. For we see him making a great point of avoiding this; and elsewhere, when he was addressing those from Ephesus, he says, "Ye know that 35); and again, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Ver. 14. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; the Lord reward him according to his works."
Here he again makes mention of his trial, not he might bear them firmly. Though they be mean and contemptible persons, and without honor, who cause these trials, they ought all, he says, to be borne with fortitude. For he who suffers wrong from any great personage, receives no little distinction from the superiority of him who does the wrong. But he who is injured by a vile and abject person, suffers the greater annoyance. "He did me much evil," he says, that is, he persecuted me in various ways. But these things will not go unpunished! For the Lord will reward him according to his works. As he said above: "What persecutions I endured, but out of them all the Lord delivered me." (2 Tim iii. 11.) So also here he consoles his disciples by a double consideration, that he himself had suffered wrong, and that the other would be rewarded for his evil deeds. Not that the Saints rejoice in the punishment of their persecutors, but that the cause of the Gospel required it, and the weaker would derive consolation from it.
Ver. 15. "Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words."
That is, he is hostile to us, and opposes us. He has not said, Revenge, punish, expel him, although by the grace given him he might have so done, but he does no such thing; nor does he arm Timothy against him, but only commands him to avoid him, leaving vengeance to God, and for the consolation of the weaker he has says these things to prepare the mind of his disciple, is manifest also from what follows. But see how he mentions other of his trials.
Ver. 16. "At my first answer," he says, "no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge."
Do you see how he spares his friends, notwithstanding it was a grievous thing they had done? For it is not the same thing to be despised by aliens, as by our own friends. Do you see his intense dejection? It cannot be friends; for these also betrayed me. "All men," he says "forsook me." And this was no light offense. For if he that in war abandons one who is exposed to danger, and shrinks from meeting the hands of his enemies, is justly smitten by his friends, as having utterly betrayed their cause, much more in the case of the Gospel. But what "first answer" does he speak of? He had stood before Nero, and had escaped. But afterwards, because he had converted his cup-bearer, he was beheaded. And here again is encouragement for his disciple in what follows.
Ver. 17. "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me."
Though deserted by man, God doth not permit him to suffer any harm. He strengthened me, he says, that is, He gave me boldness in speaking. He suffered me not to sink.
"That by me the preaching might be fully known."
That is, might be fulfilled. Observe his great humility. He does not say He strengthened me as deserving of His gift, but that "the preaching," with which I was intrusted, "might be fully known." As if any one should wear a purple robe and a diadem, and to that circumstance should owe his safety. "And that all the Gentiles might hear." What is this? That the luster of the Gospel, and the care of His Providence for me, might be known to all.
"And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."
Ver. 18. "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work."
See how near he had been to death. He had fallen into the very jaws of the lion. For he calls Nero a lion from his ferocity, and the violent and dating character of his government. "The Lord delivered me," he says, "and will deliver." But if he says, "He will deliver me," why does he say, "I am ready to be offered"? Attend to the expression, "He delivered me," he says, "from the lion's mouth"; and again, "He will deliver me," not from the lion's mouth, but "from every evil work." For then He delivered me from the danger; but now that enough has been done for the Gospel, He will yet again deliver me from every sin that is, He will not suffer me to depart with condemnation. For striving against sin" (Heb. xii. 4), and not yield, is a deliverance from another lion, even the devil, so that this preservation is greater than the former when he seems to be given up.
"And will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen,"
This then is salvation, when we shine forth there. But what means, "He will preserve me unto His kingdom"? He will deliver me from all blame, and preserve me there. For this is to be preserved unto His kingdom, to die here on account of it. For "He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." (John xii. 25.)
"To whom be glory." Lo, here is a doxology to the Son.
Ver. 19. "Salute Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus."
For he was then in Rome, of whom he said "The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day." (2 Tim. i. 18.) By this naming of him, he makes those of his household also more zealous in such good actions.
"Salute Priscilla and Aquila." These are they of whom he makes continual mention, with whom too he had lodged, and who had taken Apollos to them. He names the woman first, as being I suppose more zealous, and more faithful, for she had then received Apollos; or it might be done indifferently. And it was to them no slight consolation to be thus saluted.(1) It conveyed a demonstration of esteem and love, and a participation in much grace. For the bare salutation of that holy and blessed man was sufficient to fill with grace him who received it.
Ver. 20. "Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick."
This Trophimus and Tychicus, we know from the book of the Acts, sailed away with him from Judea, and were everywhere his companions, perhaps as being more zealous than the rest.
""Trophimus I have let at Miletum sick." Why then didst thou not hem him, instead of leaving him? The Apostles could not do everything or they did not dispense miraculous gifts upon all occasions, lest more should be ascribed whose voice was weak. Why was not this defect removed? Nay, he was often afflicted with grief and dejection, and he was not admitted into the Land of Promise.
For many things were permitted by God, that the weakness of human nature might be manifested. And if with these defects the insensible Jews could ask, Where is Moses who brought us would they not have been affected towards him if he had brought them also into the Land of Promise? If he had not been suffered to be overpowered by the fear of Pharaoh, would they not have thought him a God? We see that the people of Lystra were thus affected in the case when they rent their clothes, and ran in among when he had healed the man lame from his birth, when all were amazed at the miracle, answered and said, "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk"? (Acts iii. 12.) Hear also the blessed Paul, saying, "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, lest I should be exalted above measure." (2 Cor. xii. 7.) But this, you say, was an expression of humility. Far from it. The thorn was not sent him that he might be humble, nor does he say this only out of humility. There are other causes besides to be assigned for it. Observe therefore how God, accounting for it, says, "My grace is sufficient for thee"; not "that thou mayest not be exited above measure," but what? "For my strength is made perfect in weakness." Two ends therefore were answered at once: what was doing was made dearly manifest, and the whole was ascribed to God. For this cause he has said elsewhere, "We carry this treasure in earthen vessels" (2 COR. iv. 7); that is, in bodies weak and liable to suffering. Why? "That the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." If our bodies were not subject to infirmity, all would be ascribed to them. And elsewhere we see him grieving at the infirmity of Epaphroditus, concerning whom he writes, "He was sick nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him." (Phil. ii. 27.) And many other instances there are of his ignorance of events, which was profitable both for him and his disciples.
"Trophimus I have left at Miletum sick." Miletus was near Ephesus, Did this happen then when he sailed to Judea, or upon some other occasion? For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not.(2) We see him however deserted by all. "For Demas," he says, "hath forsaken me. Crescens is departed into Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Erastus abode at Corinth. Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick."
Ver. 21. "Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens and Linus, and Claudia?'
This Linus, some say, was second(1) Bishop of the Church of Rome after Peter. "And Claudia." You see how zealous for the faith the women were, how ardent! Such was Priscilla and this Claudia already crucified, already prepared for the battle! But why, when there were so many faithful, does he mention only these women? Manifestly because they in purpose had already withdrawn from worldly affairs, and were illustrious above other. For a woman as such, meets not with any impediments. It is the work of divine grace, that this sex should be impeded only in the affairs of this life, or rather not even in them. For a woman undertakes no small share of the whole administration, being the keeper of the house. And without her not even political affairs could be properly conducted. For if their domestic concerns were in a state of confusion and disorder, those who are engaged in public affairs would be kept at home, and political business would be ill managed. So that neither in those matters, as neither in spiritual, is she inferior. For she is able, if so inclined, to endure a thousand deaths. Accordingly many women have suffered martyrdom. She is able to practice chastity even more than men, no such strong flame disturbing her; "holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord" (Heb. xii, 14); and contempt of wealth, if she will, and in short all other virtues.
"Do thy diligence to come before winter." See how he urges him, yet he does not say anything to grieve him. He does not say, "Before I die," lest he should afflict him; but, "Before winter," that thou be not detained.
"Eubulus," he says, "greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren." He does not mention the rest by name. Seest thou that those were the most zealous?
Ver. 22. "The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit."
There can be no better prayer than this. Grieve not for my departure. The Lord will be with thee. And he says, not "with thee," but "with thy spirit." Thus there is a twofold assistance, the grace of the Spirit,(2) and God helping it. And otherwise God will not be with us, if we have not spiritual grace. For if we be deserted by grace, how shall He be with us?
"Grace be with us. Amen."
Thus he prays for himself too, that they may always be well-pleasing to Him, that they may have grace together with the spiritual gift, for where this is, nothing will be grievous. For as he who beholds the king, and is in favor with him, is sensible of no uneasiness; so though our friends forsake us, though we be overtaken by calamity we shall feel no distress, if that grace be with us and fortify us.
MORAL. But how shall we draw down grace upon us? By doing what is pleasing to God, and obeying Him in all things. In great houses do we not see those domestics in favor, who do not regard their own interest, but with all zeal and alacrity promote their masters' and who not from the compulsion of the master, but from their own affection and good disposition, order all things well. When they are always before their eyes, when they are engaged in the house, when they are not occupied in any private concerns, nor caring for their own, but rather consider their masters' concerns as their own. For he who makes what is his own his master's, does not really give up his own to his master, but makes his interest his own; he commands even as himself in his affairs,(3) and rules equally with him. He is often as much feared by the domestics, and whatever he says his master says too, and he is henceforth dreaded by all his enemies.
And if he who in worldly concerns prefers his masters interests to his own, does not really neglect his own interest, but rather advance it the more; much more is this the case in spiritual matters. Despise thine own concerns, and thou wilt receive those of God. This He Himself wills. Despise each, and seize upon the kingdom of heaven. Dwell there, not here. Be formidable there, not here. If thou art formidable there thou wilt be formidable not to men, but to demons, and even to the devil himself. But if thy dependence is on worldly wealth, thou wilt be contemptible to them, and often to men too. Whatever be thy riches thou wilt be rich in servile things. But if thou despisest these, thou wilt be radiant in the house of the King.
Such were the Apostles, despising a servile house and worldly wealth! And see how they commanded in the affairs of their Master. "Let one," they said, "be delivered from disease, another from the possession of devils: bind this man, and loose that." This was done by them on earth, but it was fulfilled as in Heaven. For, "whatever ye shall bind on earth," said He, "shall be bound in Heaven." (Matt. xviii. 18.) And greater power than His own did He give them. And that I lie not, appears from His own words. "He that believeth in Me, greater works shall he do than these which I do." (John xiv. 12.) Why so? Because this honor is reflected upon the Master.(1) As in our own affairs, if the servant has great power, the master is the more admired, for if the servant is so powerful, much more is he who commands him. But if any man, neglecting his master's service thinks only of his wife, his son, or his servant, and seeks to be rich, and to lay up treasure there, by stealing and robbing his master of his possessions, he is presently ruined, and his wealth perishes with him.
Wherefore having these examples, I beseech you, let us not regard our possessions, that we may regard ourselves: nay, let us despise them, that we may obtain them. If we despise them, He will take care of them; if we take care of them, God will despise them. Let us labor in the concerns of God, not in our own, or rather really in our own, for His are our own. I speak not of heaven,(2) nor of earth, nor of the things of this world: these are unworthy of Him. And they belong alike to the faithful and the unbelievers. What then do I speak of as His? His glory and His kingdom. These are His, and ours for His sake. How? "If we be dead with Him," He says, "we shall also live with Him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. ii. 11.) We are become "joint heirs," and are called His "brethren." Why do we sink below, when He is drawing us upward towards Himself? How long shall we be poor, and beggarly? Heaven is set before us; and do we linger on earth? Is His kingdom opened to us, and do we choose such poverty as is here? Is life immortal offered us, and do we spend ourselves for lands, for wood and stones? Be truly rich. I would wish thee to be so. Be covetous and rapacious, I blame thee not for it. Here it is a fault not to be covetous, here it is blameworthy not to be grasping. What then is this? "The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matt. xi. 12.) There be thou violent! be grasping! It is not diminished by being seized upon. For neither is virtue divided, nor piety lessened, nor the kingdom of Heaven. Virtue is increased when thou seizest upon it, whilst temporal goods are lessened when they are seized upon. And this appears from hence: Let there be ten thousand men in a city; if all seize on virtue, it is multiplied, for they become righteous in ten thousand things.(3) If no one seizes upon it, it is diminished, for it is nowhere to be found.
Thou seest then that good things are multiplied on being possessed by many, but earthly goods are rather diminished by seizing. Let us not therefore sit down content with poverty, but let us choose riches. God is then rich, when those who enjoy His kingdom are many. "For He is rich," it is said, "unto all that call upon Him." (Rom. x. 12.) Increase then His substance; and thou wilt increase it by taking possession of it, by being covetous of it, by violently seizing it. And truly there is need of violence. Wherefore? Because there are so many impediments, as wives and children, cares and worldly business; besides those demons, and him who is the ruler of them, the devil. There is need then of violence, there is need of fortitude. He who takes by violence is exposed to toils. How? He endures all things, he contends against necessities. How? He almost attempts impossibilities. If such are those who take by violence, and we shrink from attempting even what is possible, how shall we ever win? or when shall we enjoy the things for which we strive? "The violent," it is said, "take" the kingdom of heaven "by force." Violence and rapacity are needed. For it is not simply set before us, and ready to our hands. He who seizes by violence, is ever sober and watchful, he is anxious and thoughtful, that he may make his seizure at a seasonable time. Dost thou not see that in war he who is about to make a seizure keeps watch and is under arms the whole night? If then they who aim at seizing upon worldly goods, watch and are armed all the night long, should we, who wish to seize upon spiritual things, sleep and snore in the day, and continue always naked and unarmed? For he who is engaged in sin is unarmed; as he who practices righteousness is armed. We do not fortify ourselves with almsgiving. We do not prepare for ourselves lamps that are burning, we do not fence ourselves in spiritual armor. We do not learn the way that leads thither. We are not sober and watchful, and therefore we can seize no spoil.
If a man wishes to make an attempt on a kingdom, does he not set death before him in a thousand shapes? Is he not armed at all points, does he not practice the art of war, does he not do everything with this view, and so rush on to the attack? But we do not act thus. We wish to take the spoil while we are sleeping, and therefore we come off with empty hands. Dost thou not see plunderers, how they flee, how rapidly they move? how they force their way through everything? And there is need of expedition here. The devil is in pursuit of thee. He orders those before to detain thee. But if thou art strong, if thou art watchful, thou wilt spurn one, and thrust aside another, and escape from all, as a bird. Yea, if thou depart hence, if thou escape from the market and the tumult, I mean this life, and arrive at those higher regions beyond these, in the world to come. For there, as in a solitude, there is no tumult, no one to disturb, or to stay thy course.
Hast thou seized? Yet a little exertion is needed after the seizure, that what thou hast seized may not be taken from thee. If we run on, if we look to none of those things that are set before our eyes, if we consider nothing but how we may escape from those who would hinder us, we shall be able to retain with all security what we have seized. Hast thou seized on chastity? Tarry not; flee beyond the reach of the devil. If he sees that he cannot overtake thee, he will cease to pursue; as we, when we can no longer see those who have robbed us, despair of the pursuit, and do not pursue, nor call on others to stop thief, but suffer them to escape. So do thou run vigorously at the beginning, and when thou art beyond the reach of the devil, he will not afterwards attack thee, but thou wilt be in safety, securely enjoying those unspeakable blessings, which God grant that we may all obtain through Jesus Christ our Lord. To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, and worship, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.