Aurelius Augustinus 354 - 430 75
Sermons
1 About Me 8
2 Education
3 Philosophy
4 Politics
5 News
6 Travel
7 Sports
8 Funding
 
Page Data
Menu Pages .35 Time 18
Total 252,996 1,012 14:04
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Chapters 87
Pages per chapter 11.63 9:41
1 Agreement of the evangelists Matthew and Luke in the generations of the Lord 53.9 49:25.
2 Words of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chap. iii. 13', “Then Jesus cometh from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.” Concerning the Trinity 27.2 22:40.
3 Words of the Gospel, Matt. Chap. v. 3 and 8', “Blessed are the poor in spirit:” etc., but especially on that, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  20 17:05
4 On that which is written in the Gospel, Matt. v. 16', “Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven:” and contrariwise, Chap. vi., “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them.” 6.3 5:15
5 Words of the Gospel, Matt. v. 22', “Whosoever shall say to his brother, thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.”  6.3 5:15
6 Again, on Matt. vi'. on the Lord’s Prayer. To the Competentes 15.9 13:15.
7 Missing
8 Again on the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. vi'. To the Competentes 15.6 13
9 Again, on the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. vi'. To the Competentes 5.2 4:20
10 Words of the Gospel, Matt. vi. 19', “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” etc. An exhortation to alms-deeds 18.9 15:45.
11 Words of the Gospel, Matt. vii. 7', “Ask, and it shall be given you;” etc. An exhortation to alms-deeds 14.9 12:25
12 Words of the Gospel, Matt. viii. 8', “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,” etc., and of the words of the apostle, 1 Cor. viii. 10', “For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple,” etc. 23.8 1:14:21
13 Words of the Gospel, Matt. viii. 23', “And when he was entered into a boat,” etc 2.7 2:15.
14 Words of the Gospel, Matt. x. 16', “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” etc. Delivered on a Festival of Martyrs 3.7 3:05.
15 Words of the Gospel, Matt. x. 28', “Be not afraid of them that kill the body.” Delivered on a Festival of Martyrs 10.1 8:25.
16 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 2', “Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples, and said unto him, art thou He that cometh, or look we for another?” etc 6.4 5:20.
17 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25', “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding,” etc 11.5 9:35.
18 Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25', “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth,” etc 6.1 5:05.
19 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 28', “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” etc 5.8 4:50.
20 Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 28', “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” etc 4.9 4:05.
21 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 32', “Whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come.” Or, “on the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.” 52.7 43:55
22 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 33', “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good,” etc 7.7 6:25
23 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiii. 19', etc., where the Lord Jesus explaineth the parables of the sower 5.6 4:40
24 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiii. 52', “Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of Heaven,” etc 6.6 5:30.
25 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiv. 24', “But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves.” 10.9 9:05
26 Again on Matt. xiv. 25': Of the Lord walking on the waves of the sea, and of Peter tottering 10.2 8:30
27 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xv. 21',“Jesus went out thence, and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanitish woman,” etc. 18.1 15:05
28 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 1', “After six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother,” etc. 6.9 5:45
29 Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii'., where Jesus showed Himself on the mount to His three disciples 1.5 1:15
30 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 19', “Why could not we cast it out”? etc., and on prayer 13.7 11:25.
31 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 7', where we are admonished to beware of the offences of the world 18.5 15:25.
32  Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 15', “If thy brother sin against thee, go, shew him his fault between thee and him alone;” and of the words of Solomon, he that winketh with the eyes deceitfully, heapeth sorrow upon men; but he that reproveth openly, maketh peace 20.8 17:20.
33 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 21', “How oft shall my brother sin against me,” etc 11.5 9:35.
34 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 17', “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.” 3.2 2:40
35 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 17', “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.” 8.3 6:55
36 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 21',“Go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,” etc 18.3 15:15
37 Delivered on the Lord’s Day, on that which is written in the Gospel, Matt. xx. 1', “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that was a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.” 21.6 18
38 About the two blind men sitting by the way side, and crying out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Thou Son of David.” 37.8 31:30
39  Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxi. 19', where Jesus dried up the fig-tree; and on the words, Luke xxiv. 28', where He made a pretence as though He would go further 14.2 11:50
40 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxii. 2', etc., about the marriage of the king’s son; against the Donatists, on charity. Delivered at Carthage in the Restituta 20.6 17:10.
41 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxii. 42', where the Lord asks the Jews whose son they said David was 12.7 10:35.
42 Same words of the Gospel 4.1 3:25
43  “then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.” 15.4 12:50
44  where the slothful servant who would not put out the talent he had received, is condemned 2 1:40
45 where the miracle of the seven loaves is related 8.4 7.
46  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself,” etc. And on the words 1 John ii. 15', “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 12.1 10:05
47 “But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” 5.7 4:45
48  Words of the Gospel, Luke vii. 2', etc.; on the three dead persons whom the Lord raised 10.9 9:05
49 “And behold, a woman who was in the city, a sinner,” etc. On the remission of sins, against the Donatists 17.8 14:50.
50 where the case of the three persons is treated of, of whom one said, “I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest,” and was disallowed: another did not dare to offer himself, and was aroused; the third wished to delay, and was blamed 6.7 5:35.
51 “The harvest truly is plenteous,” 15.1 12:35
52 “He that rejecteth you rejecteth me.” 4.7 3:55
53 “And a certain woman named Martha received him into her house,”  7.5 6:15
54 Martha and Mary 6.3 5:15.
55  “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight,” 17.4 14:30
56 “Now do ye Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and the platter,” 5.3 4:25
57 “And he said unto them, take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness.” 13.3 11:05
58 “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and be ye yourselves like,” etc. And on the words of the 34th Psalm, v. 12', “what man is he that desireth life,” 8.5 7:05
59 “Ye know how to interpret the face of the Earth and the Heaven,” etc.; and of the words, “for as thou art going with thine adversary before the magistrate, on the way give diligence to be quit of him,”  6.2 5:10
60 where we are told of the fig-tree, which bare no fruit for three years; and of the woman which was in an infirmity eighteen years; and on the words of the ninth Psalm, v. 19', “Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the nations be judged in thy sight.” 7.4 6:10
61 where the kingdom of God is said to be “like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal;” and of that which is written in the same chapter, “Lord, are they few that are saved?”  4.2 3:30
62 “A certain man made a great supper,” 11.9 9:55
63 “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness,” etc.  10.5 8:45
64 “If thy brother sin, rebuke him,” etc., touching the remission of sins 6.6 5:30.
65 “They ought always to pray, and not to faint,” etc. And on the two who went up into the temple to pray: and of the little children who were presented unto Christ 7.1 5:55
66 “He himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, peace be unto you,” etc. 9.6 8
67 “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” etc. Against the Arians 25.9 21:35.
68 Same words of the Gospel, John i'., “In the beginning was the word,” etc. 4.2 3:30
69  “In the beginning was the word,” 6.4 5:20
70 “In the beginning was the word,”  5 4:10
71 “The world was made through him,” 5.6 4:40
72 “When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee,” 9.2 7:40
73 “and Jesus also was bidden, and his disciples, to the marriage.” 5.8 4:50
74 “If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples,”  8.1 6:45
75 Words of the Gospel, John ix. 4 and 31', “We must work the works of him that sent me,” etc. Against the Arians. And of that which the man who was born blind and received his sight said, “We know that God heareth not sinners.”  11.2 9:20
76 giving sight to the man that was born blind. 9.8 8:10
77 shepherd, and the hireling, and the thief 22.3 18:35. 
78  “I am the good shepherd,” etc. Against the Donatists 15.5 12:55.
79  “I and the Father are one.”  8.3 6:55
80 “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.” Against a certain expression of Maximinus, a bishop of the Arians, who spread his blasphemy in Africa where he was with the Count Segisvult 7.1 5:55.
81  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” 4.9 4:05
82 “I am the way,”  15.5 12:55
83 “I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away,” etc. 7.5 6:15
84 “He will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement.”  7.1 5:55
85 “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name;” and on the words of Luke x. 17', “Lord, even the demons are subject unto us in thy name.” 13.3 11:05
86 “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?” 3.4 2:50
87 “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?”  3.4 2:50
Adversizement

The Sermons of St. Augustin, besides their other excellencies, furnish a beautiful picture of perhaps the deepest and most powerful mind of the Western Church adapting itself to the little ones of Christ. In them, he who has furnished the mould for all the most thoughtful minds for fourteen hundred years, is seen forming with loving tenderness the babes in Christ. Very touching is the child-like simplicity, with which he gradually leads them through what to them were difficulties, watching all the while whether he made himself clear to them, keeping up their attention, pleased at their understanding, dreading their approbation, and leading them off from himself to some practical result. Very touching the tenderness with which he at times reproves, the allowance which he makes for human infirmities and for those in secular life, if they will not make their infirmities their boast, or in allowed duties and indulgences forget God. But his very simplicity precludes the necessity of any preface. His Sermons explain themselves. They appear from a passage in the Commentary on the Psalms to have been often taken down in writing at the time by the more attentive sort of hearers (as were those of St. Chrysostom); Possidius states that this was done from the commencement of his presbyterate, and that “thence through the body of Africa, excellent doctrine and the most sweet savour of Christ was diffused and made manifest, the Church of God beyond seas, when it heard thereof, partaking of the joy.” Those on the New Testament have been now selected, both as furnishing a comment, and as a gradual introduction to what is found in a larger measure elsewhere, the spiritual interpretation of Holy Scripture. It will doubtless seem strange to some at first sight that the spiritual meaning of numbers, for instance, should be made a part of religious instruction. And yet, it might not require any great diffidence to think that St. Augustin knew better than any of us, the tendency and effects of his mode of teaching upon minds, which he evidently treated with such tender care, and that they who have entered into that system can estimate its value better than they who have not. It will appear also, probably, that a system which sees a meaning everywhere in Holy Scripture is more reverential than one which overlooks it; as, on the other hand, as a fact, the anti-mystical interpretation has both in ancient and modern times stood connected with a cold rationalism, and with heresy. This is, however, a large subject, upon which this does not seem the place to enter, since such interpretations are here only incidental and subordinate, and it is here intended only to give a practical warning. Those who close their eyes, of course, never see. The eye also requires to be insensibly familiarized with what, as new, is strange to it. But whoever will not set himself against what is in fact the received mode of interpretation of the Church, will be insensibly won by it, and will have his reward. The interpretations of St. Augustin were, as he himself often says, sought by his own prayers and the prayers of his people, and will, to those who receive them, open a rich variety of meaning and instruction. One might instance, of the most solemn sort, the analogy of the three dead, whom our Lord raised, with the three stages of sin, consent, act, and habit, as an affecting and impressive specimen of this mode of instruction, which has been adopted, in a manner, by the spiritual perception of the Western Church.

On his directly practical teaching, it will be borne in mind, that to him the Church is mainly indebted for the overthrow of Pelagianism, and the vindication of the doctrine of the free grace of God. When then he insists, as he does so frequently, on the value of good works and especially almsgiving, to which he seems to recur with such especial sympathy, it will not be hastily thought that so deep and consistent a thinker, and so imbued with Divine truth, was at variance with himself and with it, and we may in his teaching gain more constraining motives to encourage ourselves and others, if so one great stain of our times, the neglect of Christ’s poor, may be mitigated or effaced. On the other hand, when he speaks of heresy, he speaks of what he had himself been; of the nothingness of this world’s pleasures and applause, of what he had himself, when unbaptized, too miserably tasted; of Christ’s power to save out of them, what he had himself felt; of the grace of God, what he had himself used; of the value of alms, as having himself given up what was his; of humility, as showing it in the very language in which he praises it; of the joys of Heaven, and the love of God, as that for which he had abandoned freely and for ever all on earth, for which he was daily labouring, enduring, sighing.

It remains to say, that the text used is that of the Benedictines, in which their large resources in mss. have been so excellently employed, and that the Editors are indebted for the translation to the Rev. R. G. Macmullen, M.A., Fellow of Corpus Christi College.

E. B. Pusey.

Christ Church, Oxford, Feast of St. Barnabas, 1844.

 
1 Agreement of the evangelists Matthew and Luke in the generations of the Lord.

May He, beloved, fulfil your expectation who hath awakened it: for though I feel confident that what I have to say is not my own, but God’s, yet with far more reason do I say, what the Apostle in his humility saith, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” I do not doubt accordingly that you remember my promise; in Him I made it through whom I now fulfil it, for both when I made the promise, did I ask of the Lord, and now when I fulfil it, do I receive of Him. Now you will remember, beloved, that it was in the matins of the festival of the Lord’s Nativity, that I put off the question which I had proposed for resolution, because many came with us to the celebration of the accustomed solemnities of that day to whom the word of God is usually burdensome; but now I imagine that none have come here, but they who desire to hear, and so I am not speaking to hearts that are deaf, and to minds that will disdain the word, but this your longing expectation is a prayer for me. There is a further consideration; for the day of the public shows has dispersed many from hence, for whose salvation I exhort you to share my great anxiety, and do you with all earnestness of mind, entreat God for those who are not yet intent upon the spectacles of the truth, but are wholly given up to the spectacles of the flesh; for I know and am well assured, that there are now among you those who have this day despised them, and have burst the bonds of their inveterate habits; for men are changed both for the better and the worse. By daily instances of this kind are we alternately made joyful and sad; we joy over the reformed, are sad over the corrupted; and therefore the Lord doth not say that he who beginneth, shall be saved, “But he that endureth unto the end shall be saved.”

Now what more marvellous, what more magnificent thing could our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and also the Son of man (for this also He vouchsafed to be), grant to us, than the gathering into His fold not only of the spectators of these foolish shows, but even some of the actors in them; for He hath combated unto salvation not only the lovers of the combats of men with beasts, but even the combatants themselves, for He also was made a spectacle Himself. Hear how. He hath told us Himself, and foretold it before He was made a spectacle, and in the words of prophecy announced beforehand what was to come to pass, as if it were already done, saying in the Psalms, “They pierced My hands and My feet, they told all My bones.” Lo! how He was made a spectacle, for His bones to be told! and this spectacle He expresseth more plainly, “they observed and looked upon Me.” He was made a spectacle and an object of derision, made a spectacle by them who were to show Him no favour indeed in that spectacle, but who were to be furious against Him, just as at first He made His martyrs spectacles; as saith the Apostle, “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” Now two sorts of men are spectators of such spectacles; the one, carnal, the other, spiritual men. The carnal look on, as thinking those martyrs who are thrown to the beasts, or beheaded, or burnt in the flames, to be wretched men, and they detest and abhor them; but others look on, like the holy Angels, not regarding the laceration of their bodies, but admiring the unimpaired purity of their faith. A grand spectacle to the eyes of the heart doth a whole mind in a mangled body exhibit! When these things are read of in the church, you behold them with pleasure with these eyes of the heart, for if you were to behold nothing, you would hear nothing; so you see you have not neglected the spectacles to-day, but have made a choice of spectacles. May God then be with you, and give you grace with gentle persuasiveness to report your spectacles to your friends, whom you have been pained to see this day running to the amphitheatre, and unwilling to come to the church; that so they too may begin to contemn those things, by the love of which themselves have become contemptible, and may, with you, love God, of whom none who love Him can ever be ashamed, for that they love Him who cannot be overcome: let them, as you do, love Christ, who by that very thing wherein He seemed to be overcome, overcame the whole world. For He hath overcome the whole world as we see, my brethren; He hath subjected all powers, He hath subjugated kings, not with the pride of soldiery, but by the ignominy of the Cross: not by the fury of the sword, but by hanging on the Wood, by suffering in the body, by working in the Spirit. His body was lifted up on the Cross, and so He subdued souls to the Cross; and now what jewel in their diadem is more precious than the Cross of Christ on the foreheads of kings? In loving Him you will never be ashamed. Whereas from the amphitheatre how many return conquered, because those are conquered, for whom they are so madly interested! still more would they be conquered were they to conquer. For so would they be enslaved to the vain joy, to the exultation of a depraved desire, who are conquered by the very circumstance of running to these shows. For how many, my brethren, do you think have this day been in hesitation whether they would go here or there? And they who in this hesitation, turning their thoughts to Christ, have run to the church, have overcome, not any man, but the devil himself, him that hunteth after the souls of the whole world. But they who in that hesitation have chosen rather to run to the amphitheatre, have assuredly been overcome by him whom the others overcame—overcame in Him who saith, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” For the Captain suffered Himself to be tried, only that He might teach His soldiers to fight.

That our Lord Jesus Christ might do this He became the Son of man by being born of a woman. But now, “would He have been any less a man, if He had not been born of the Virgin Mary” one may say. “He willed to be a man; well and good; He might have so been, and yet not be born of a woman; for neither did He make the first man whom He made, of a woman.” Now see what answer I make to this. You say, Why did He choose to be born of a woman? I answer, Why should He avoid being born of a woman? Granted that I could not show that He chose to be born of a woman; do you show why He need have avoided it. But I have already said at other times, that if He had avoided the womb of a woman, it might have betokened, as it were, that He could have contracted defilement from her; but by how much He was in His own substance more incapable of defilement, by so much less had He cause to fear the woman’s womb, as though He could contract defilement from it. But by being born of a woman, He purposed to show to us some high mystery. For of a truth, brethren, we grant too, that if the Lord had willed to become man without being born of a woman, it were easy to His sovereign Majesty. For as He could be born of a woman without a man, so could He also have been born without the woman. But this hath He shown us, that mankind of neither sex might despair of its salvation, for the human sexes are male and female. If therefore being a man, which it behoved Him assuredly to be, He had not been born of a woman, women might have despaired of themselves, as mindful of their first sin, because by a woman was the first man deceived, and would have thought that they had no hope at all in Christ. He came therefore as a man to make special choice of that sex, and was born of a woman to console the female sex, as though He would address them and say; “That ye may know that no creature of God is bad, but that unregulated pleasure perverteth it, when in the beginning I made man, I made them male and female. I do not condemn the creature which I made. See I have been born a Man, and born of a woman; it is not then the creature which I made that I condemn, but the sins which I made not.” Let each sex then at once see its honour, and confess its iniquity, and let them both hope for salvation. The poison to deceive man was presented him by woman, through woman let salvation for man’s recovery be presented; so let the woman make amends for the sin by which she deceived the man, by giving birth to Christ. For the same reason again, women were the first who announced to the Apostles the Resurrection of God. The woman in Paradise announced death to her husband, and the women in the Church announced salvation to the men; the Apostles were to announce to the nations the Resurrection of Christ, the women announced it to the Apostles. Let no one then reproach Christ with His birth of a woman, by which sex the Deliverer could not be defiled, and to which it was in the purpose of the Creator to do honour.

But, say they, “how are we to believe that Christ was born of a woman?” I would answer, by the Gospel which hath been preached and is still preached to all the world. But these men, blind themselves, and aiming to blind others, seeing not what they ought to see, whilst they try to shake what ought to be believed, endeavour to obtrude a question on a matter which is now believed through all the earth. For they answer and say: “Do not think to overwhelm us with the authority of the whole world—let us look to Scripture itself, urge not arguments of mere numbers against us, for the seduced multitude favours you.” To this I answer, in the first place, “Does the seduced multitude favour me?” This multitude was once a scantling. Whence grew this multitude, which in this increase was announced so long before? For this which hath been seen to increase, is none other than the same which was seen beforehand. I need not have said, it was a scantling; once it was Abraham only. Consider, brethren; it was Abraham alone throughout all the world at that time; throughout the whole world, among all men, and all nations; Abraham alone to whom it was said, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed;” and what he alone believed of his own single person, is exhibited as present now to many in the multitude of his seed. Then it was not seen, and was believed; now it is seen, and it is contested; and what was then said to one man, and was by that one believed, is disputed now by some few, when in many it is made good. He who made His disciples fishers of men, inclosed within His nets every kind of authority. If great numbers are to be believed, what more widely diffused over the whole world than the Church? If the rich are to be believed, let them consider how many rich He hath taken; if the poor, let them consider the thousands of poor; if nobles, almost all the nobility are within the Church; if kings, let them see all of them subjected to Christ; if the more eloquent, and wise, and learned, let them see how many orators, and scientific men, and philosophers of this world, have been caught by those fishermen, to be drawn from the depth to salvation; let them think of Him who, coming down to heal by the example of His own humility that great evil of man’s soul, pride, “chose the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” (not the really wise, but who seemed so to be), “and chose the base things of the world, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.”

“Whatever you may choose to say,” they say, “we find that in the place where we read that Christ was born, the Gospels disagree with one another, and two things which disagree cannot both be true;” for, says one, “when I have proved this disagreement, I may rightly disallow belief in it, or, at least, do you who accept the belief in it, shew the agreement.” And what disagreement, I ask, will you prove? “A plain one,” says he, “which none can gainsay.” With what security, brethren, do you hear all this, because ye are believers! Attend, dearly beloved, and see what wholesome advice the Apostle gives, who says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus our Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith;” for with this simple and assured faith ought we to abide stedfastly in Him, that He may Himself open to the faithful what is hidden in Him; for as the same Apostle saith, “In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;” and He does not hide them to refuse them, but to stir up desire for those hidden things. This is the advantage of their secrecy. Honour in Him then what as yet thou understandest not, and so much the more as the veils which thou seest are more in number: for the higher in honour any one is, the more veils are suspended in his palace. The veils make that which is kept secret honoured, and to those who honour it, the veils are lifted up; but as for those who mock at the veils, they are driven away from even approaching them. Because then we “turn unto Christ, the veil is taken away.”

They bring forward then their cavillings, and say, “You allow Matthew is an Evangelist.” We answer: Yes indeed, with a godly confession, and a heart devout, in neither having any doubt at all, we answer plainly, Matthew is an Evangelist. “Do you believe him?” they say. Who will not answer, I do? How clear an assent doth that your godly murmur convey! So, brethren, you believe it in all assurance; you have no cause to blush for it. I am speaking to you, who was once deceived, when as in my early boyhood I chose to bring to the divine Scriptures a subtlety of criticising before the godly temper of one who was seeking truth: by my irregular life I shut the gate of my Lord against myself: when I should have knocked for it to be opened, I went on so as to make it more closely shut, for I dared to search in pride for that which none but the humble can discover. How much more blessed now are you, with what sure confidence do you learn, and in what safety, who are still young ones in the nest of faith, and receive the spiritual food; whereas I, wretch that I was, as thinking myself fit to fly, left the nest, and fell down before I flew: but the Lord of mercy raised me up, that I might not be trodden down to death by passers by, and put me in the nest again; for those same things then troubled me, which now in quiet security I am proposing and explaining to you in the Name of the Lord.

As then I had begun to say, thus do they cavil. “Matthew,” say they, “is an Evangelist, and you believe him?” Immediately that we acknowledge him to be an Evangelist, we necessarily believe him. Attend then to the generations of Christ, which Matthew has set down. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham.” How the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham? He could not be shown to be so, but by the succession of generations; for certain it is that when the Lord was born of the Virgin Mary, neither Abraham nor David was in this world, and dost thou say that the same man is both the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham? Let us, as it were, say to Matthew, Prove thy word, for I am waiting for the succession of the generations of Christ. “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; and Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king.” Now observe how from this point the genealogy is brought down from David to Christ, who is called the Son of Abraham, and the Son of David. “And David begat Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; and Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; and Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; and Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; and Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon; and after the carrying away into Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; and Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; and Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; and Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Thus then by the order and succession of fathers and forefathers, Christ is found to be the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham.

Now upon this thus faithfully narrated, the first cavil they bring is, that the same Matthew goes on to say, “All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Then in order to tell us how Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, he went on and said, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise;” for by the line of the generations he had showed why Christ is called the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham. But now it needed to be shown how He was born and appeared among men: and so there follows immediately that narrative, by means of which we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was not only born of the everlasting God, coeternal with Him who begat Him before all times, before all creation, by whom all things were made; but was also now born from the Holy Ghost, of the Virgin Mary, which we confess equally with the other; for you remember and know (for I am speaking to Catholics, to my brethren), that this is our faith, that this we profess and confess; for this faith thousands of martyrs have been slain in all the world.

This also which follows they like to laugh at, whose wish it is to destroy the authority of the Evangelical books, that they may show as it were that we have without any good reason believed what is said, “When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily;” for because he knew that she was not with child by him, he thought that she was so to say necessarily an adulteress. “Being a just man,” as the Scripture saith, “and not willing to make her a public example,” (that is, to divulge the matter, for so it is in many copies), “he was minded to put her away privily.” The husband indeed was in trouble, but as being a just man he deals not severely; for so great justice is ascribed to this man, as that he neither wished to keep an adulterous wife, nor could bring himself to punish and expose her. “He was minded to put her away privily,” because he was not only unwilling to punish, but even to betray her; and mark his genuine justice; for he did not wish to spare her, because he had a desire to keep her; for many spare their adulterous wives through a carnal love, choosing to keep them even though adulterous, that they may enjoy them through a carnal desire. But this just man has no wish to keep her, and so does not love in any carnal sort; and yet he does not wish to punish her; and so in his mercy he spares her. How truly just a man is this! He would neither keep an adulteress, lest he should seem to spare her because of an impure affection, and yet he would not punish or betray her. Deservedly indeed was he chosen for the witness of his wife’s virginity: and so he who was in trouble through human infirmity, was assured by Divine authority.

For the Evangelist goes on to say, “While he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in sleep, saying, Joseph, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus.” Why Jesus? “for He shall save His people from their sins.” It is well known then, that “Jesus” in the Hebrew tongue is in Latin interpreted “Saviour,” which we see from this very explanation of the name; for as if it had been asked, “Why Jesus?” he subjoined immediately as explaining the reason of the word, “for He shall save His people from their sins.” This then we religiously believe, this most firmly hold fast, that Christ was born by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary.

1What then do our adversaries say? “If,” says one, “I shall discover a lie, surely you will not then believe it all; and such I have discovered.” Let us see: I will reckon up the generations; for by their slanderous cavillings they invite and bring us to this. Yes, if we live religiously, if we believe Christ, if we do not desire to fly out of the nest before the time, they only bring us to this—to the knowledge of mysteries. Mark then, holy brethren, the usefulness of heretics; their usefulness, that is, in respect of the designs of God, who makes a good use even of those that are bad; whereas, as regards themselves, the fruit of their own designs is rendered to them, and not that good which God brings out of them. Just as in the case of Judas; what great good did he! By the Lord’s Passion all nations are saved; but that the Lord might suffer, Judas betrayed Him. God then both delivers the nations by the Passion of His Son, and punishes Judas for his own wickedness. For the mysteries which lie hid in Scripture, no one who is content with the simplicity of the faith would curiously sift them, and therefore as no one would sift them, no one would discover them but for cavillers who force us. For when heretics cavil, the little ones are disturbed; when disturbed, they make search, and their search is, so to say, a beating of the head at the mother’s breasts, that they may yield as much milk as is sufficient for these little ones. They search then, because they are troubled; but they who know and have learnt these things, because they have investigated them, and God hath opened to their knocking, they in their turn open to those who are in trouble. And so it happens that heretics serve usefully for the discovery of the truth, whilst they cavil to seduce men into error. For with less carefulness would truth be sought out, if it had not lying adversaries; “For there must be also heresies among you,” and as though we should enquire the cause, he immediately subjoined, “that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”

1What then is it that they say? “See; Matthew enumerates the generations, and says, that “from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Now three times fourteen make forty-two; yet they number them, and find them forty-one generations, and immediately they bring up their cavilling and their insulting mockery, and say, “What means it, when in the Gospel it is said that there are three times fourteen generations, yet when they are numbered all together, they are found to be not forty-two, but forty-one?” Doubtless there is a great mystery here: and glad are we, and we give thanks unto the Lord, that by the occasion of cavillers we have discovered something which gives us in the discovery the more pleasure, in proportion to its obscurity when it was the object of search; for, as I have said before, we are exhibiting a spectacle to your minds. From Abraham then to David are fourteen generations: after that, the enumeration begins with Solomon, for David begat Solomon; the enumeration, I say, begins with Solomon, and reaches to Jechonias, during whose life the carrying away into Babylon took place; and so are there other fourteen generations, by reckoning in Solomon at the head of the second division, and Jechonias also, with whom that enumeration closes to fill up the number fourteen; and the third division begins with this same Jechonias.

1Give attention, holy brethren, to this circumstance, at once mysterious and pleasant; for I confess to you the feeling of my own heart, whereby I believe that when I have brought it forth, and you have got taste of it, you will give the same report of it. Attend then. In the third division, beginning from this Jechonias unto the Lord Jesus Christ, are found fourteen generations; for this Jechonias is reckoned twice, as the last of the former, and the first of the following division. “But why is Jechonias,” one may say, “reckoned twice?” Nothing took place of old among the people of Israel, which was not a mysterious figure of things to come: and indeed it is not without good reason that Jechonias is reckoned twice, because if there be a boundary between two fields, be it a stone, or any dividing wall, both he who is on the one side measures up to that same wall, and he who is on the other takes the beginning of his measurement again from the same. But why this was not done in the first connecting link of the divisions, when we number from Abraham to David fourteen generations, and begin to reckon the fourteen others, not from David over again, but from Solomon, a reason must be given which contains an important mystery. Attend then. The carrying away into Babylon took place when Jechonias was appointed king in the room of his deceased father. The kingdom was taken from him, and another appointed in his room; still the carrying away unto the Gentiles took place during the lifetime of Jechonias, for no fault of Jechonias is mentioned for which he was deprived of the kingdom; but the sins rather of those who succeeded him are marked out. So then there follows the Captivity and the passing away into Babylon; and the wicked do not go alone, but the saints also go with them: for in that Captivity were the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel, and the Three Children who were cast into the flames, and so made famous. They all went according to the prophecy of the prophet Jeremiah.

1Remember then, that Jechonias, rejected without any fault of his, ceased to reign, and passed over unto the Gentiles, when the carrying away unto Babylon took place. Now observe the figure hereby manifested beforehand, of things to come in the Lord Jesus Christ. For the Jews would not that our Lord Jesus Christ should reign over them, yet found they no fault in Him. He was rejected in His own person, and in that of His servants also, and so they passed over unto the Gentiles as into Babylon in a figure. For this also did Jeremiah prophesy, that the Lord commanded them to go into Babylon: and whatever other prophets told the people not to go into Babylon, them he reproved as false prophets. Let those who read the Scriptures, remember this as we do; and let those who do not, give us credit. Jeremiah then on the part of God threatened those who would not go into Babylon, whereas to them who should go he promised rest there, and a sort of happiness in the cultivation of their vines, and planting of their gardens, and the abundance of their fruits. How then does the people of Israel, not now in figure but in verity, pass over unto Babylon? Whence came the Apostles? Were they not of the nation of the Jews? Whence came Paul himself? for he saith, “I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Many of the Jews then believed in the Lord; from them were the Apostles chosen; of them were the more than five hundred brethren, to whom it was vouchsafed to see the Lord after His resurrection; of them were the hundred and twenty in the house, when the Holy Ghost came down. But what saith the Apostle in the Acts of the Apostles, when the Jews refused the word of truth? “We were sent unto you, but seeing ye have rejected the word of God, lo! we turn unto the Gentiles.” The true passing over then into Babylon, which was then prefigured in the time of Jeremiah, took place in the spiritual dispensation of the time of the Lord’s Incarnation. But what saith Jeremiah of these Babylonians, to those who were passing over to them? “For in their peace shall be your peace.” When Israel then passed over also into Babylon by Christ and the Apostles, that is, when the Gospel came unto the Gentiles, what saith the Apostle, as though by the mouth of Jeremiah of old? “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” For they were not yet Christian kings, yet he prayed for them. Israel then praying in Babylon hath been heard; the prayers of the Church have been heard, and the kings have become Christian, and you see now fulfilled what was then spoken in figure; “In their peace shall be your peace,” for they have received the peace of Christ, and have left off to persecute Christians, that now in the secure quiet of peace, the Churches might be built up, and peoples planted in the garden of God, and that all nations might bring forth fruit in faith, and hope, and love, which is in Christ.

1The carrying away into Babylon took place of old by Jechonias, who was not permitted to reign in the nation of the Jews, as a type of Christ, whom the Jews would not have reign over them. Israel passed over unto the Gentiles, that is, the preachers of the Gospel passed over unto the people of the Gentiles. What marvel then, that Jechonias is reckoned twice? for if he were a figure of Christ passing over from the Jews unto the Gentiles, consider only what Christ is between the Jews and Gentiles. Is He not that Corner-stone? In a corner-stone you see the end of one wall, and the beginning of another; up to that stone you measure one wall, and another from it; therefore the corner-stone which connects both walls is reckoned twice. Jechonias then as prefiguring the Lord was, as it were, a type of the corner-stone; and as Jechonias was not permitted to reign over the Jews, but they went unto Babylon, so Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected, is made the head of the corner,” that the Gospel might reach unto the Gentiles. Hesitate not then to reckon the head of the corner twice, and you have at once the number written: and so there are fourteen in each of the three divisions, yet altogether the generations are not forty-two, but forty-one; for as when the order of the stones runs in a straight line, they are all reckoned but once, but when there is a deviation from the straight line to make an angle, that stone at which the deviation begins must be reckoned twice, because it belongs at once to that line which is finished at it, and to that other line which begins from it; so as long as the order of the generations continued in the Jewish people, it made no angle in the regular division of fourteen; but when the line was turned that the people might pass over into Babylon, a sort of angle as it were was made at Jechonias, so that it was necessary to reckon him twice, as the type of that adorable Corner-stone.

1They have another cavil. “The generations of Christ,” say they, “are numbered through Joseph, and not through Mary.” Attend awhile, holy brethren. “It ought not to be,” they say, “through Joseph.” And why not? Was not Joseph the husband of Mary? “No,” they say. Who says so? For the Scripture saith by the authority of the Angel that he was her husband. “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Again, he was commanded to name the Child, though He was not born of his seed; “She shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus.” Now the Scripture is intent on showing, that He was not born of Joseph’s seed, when he is told in his trouble as to her being with child, “He is of the Holy Ghost;” and yet his paternal authority is not taken from him, forasmuch as he is commanded to name the Child; and again the Virgin Mary herself, who was well aware that it was not by him that she conceived Christ, yet calls him the father of Christ.

1Consider when this was. When the Lord Jesus, as to His Human Nature, was twelve years old (for as to His Divine Nature He is before all times, and without time), He tarried behind them in the temple, and disputed with the elders, and they wondered at His doctrine; and His parents who were returning from Jerusalem sought Him among their company, among those, that is, who were journeying with them, and when they found Him not, they returned in trouble to Jerusalem, and found Him disputing in the temple with the elders, when He was, as I said, twelve years old. But what wonder? The Word of God is never silent, though it is not always heard. He is found then in the temple, and His mother saith to Him, “Why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing;” and He said, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s service?” This He said for that the Son of God was in the temple of God, for that temple was not Joseph’s, but God’s. See, says some one, “He did not allow that He was the Son of Joseph.” Wait, brethren, with a little patience, because of the press of time, that it may be long enough for what I have to say. When Mary had said, “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing,” He answered, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s service?” for He would not be their Son in such a sense, as not to be understood to be also the Son of God. For the Son of God He was—ever the Son of God—Creator even of themselves who spake to Him; but the Son of Man in time; born of a Virgin without the operation of her husband, yet the Son of both parents. Whence prove we this? Already have we proved it by the words of Mary, “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.”

1Now in the first place for the instruction of the women, our sisters, such saintly modesty of the Virgin Mary must not be passed over, brethren. She had given birth to Christ—the Angel had come to her, and said, “Behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.” She had been thought worthy to give birth to the Son of the Highest, yet was she most humble; nor did she put herself before her husband, even in the order of naming him, so as to say, “I and Thy father,” but she saith, “Thy father and I.” She regarded not the high honour of her womb, but the order of wedlock did she regard, for Christ the humble would not have taught His mother to be proud. “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” Thy father and I, she saith, “for the husband is the head of the woman.” How much less then ought other women to be proud! for Mary herself also is called a woman, not from the loss of virginity, but by a form of expression peculiar to her country; for of the Lord Jesus the Apostle also said, “made of a woman,” yet there is no interruption hence to the order and connection of our Creed wherein we confess “that He was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.” For as a virgin she conceived Him, as a virgin brought Him forth, and a virgin she continued; but all females they called “women,” by a peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue. Hear a most plain example of this. The first woman whom God made, having taken her out of the side of a man, was called a woman before she “knew” her husband, which we are told was not till after they went out of Paradise, for the Scripture saith, “He made her a woman.”

1The answer then of the Lord Jesus Christ, “I must be about My Father’s service,” does not in such sense declare God to be His Father, as to deny that Joseph was His father also; And whence prove we this? By the Scripture, which saith on this wise, “And He said unto them, Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s service; but they understood not what He spake to them: and when He went down with them, He came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.” It did not say, “He was subject to His mother,” or was “subject to her,” but “He was subject to them.” To whom was He subject? was it not to His parents? It was to both His parents that He was subject, by the same condescension by which He was the Son of Man. A little way back women received their precepts. Now let children receive theirs—to obey their parents, and to be subject to them. The world was subject unto Christ, and Christ was subject to His parents.

20. You see then, brethren, that He did not say, “I must needs be about My Father’s service,” in any such sense as that we should understand Him thereby to have said, “You are not My parents.” They were His parents in time, God was His Father eternally. They were the parents of the Son of Man—“He,” the Father of His Word, and Wisdom, and Power, by whom He made all things. But if all things were made by that Wisdom, “which reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things,” then were they also made by the Son of God to whom He Himself as Son of Man was afterwards to be subject; and the Apostle says that He is the Son of David, “who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” But yet the Lord Himself proposes a question to the Jews, which the Apostle solves in these very words; for when he said, “who was made of the seed of David,” he added, “according to the flesh,” that it might be understood that He is not the Son of David according to His Divinity, but that the Son of God is David’s Lord; for thus in another place, when He is setting forth the privileges of the Jewish people, the Apostle saith, “Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever.” As, “according to the flesh,” He is David’s Son; but as being “God over all, blessed for ever,” He is David’s Lord. The Lord then saith to the Jews, “Whose Son say ye that Christ is?” They answered, “The Son of David.” For this they knew, as they had learnt it easily from the preaching of the Prophets; and in truth, He was of the seed of David, “but according to the flesh,” by the Virgin Mary, who was espoused to Joseph. When they answered then that Christ was David’s Son, Jesus said to them, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I put Thine enemies under Thy feet. If David then in spirit call Him Lord, how is He his Son?” And the Jews could not answer Him. So we have it in the Gospel. He did not deny that He was David’s Son, so that they could not understand that He was also David’s Lord. For they acknowledged in Christ that which He became in time, but they did not understand in Him what He was in all eternity. Wherefore wishing to teach them His Divinity, He proposed a question touching His Humanity; as though He would say, “You know that Christ is David’s Son, answer Me, how He is also David’s Lord?” And that they might not say, “He is not David’s Lord,” He introduced the testimony of David himself. And what doth he say? He saith indeed the truth. For you find God in the Psalms saying to David, “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat.” Here then He is the Son of David. But how is He the Lord of David, who is David’s Son? “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand.” Can you wonder that David’s Son is his Lord, when you see that Mary was the mother of her Lord? He is David’s Lord then as being God. David’s Lord, as being Lord of all; and David’s Son, as being the Son of Man. At once Lord and Son. David’s Lord, “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;” and David’s Son, in that “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.”

2Joseph then was not the less His father, because he knew not the mother of our Lord, as though concupiscence and not conjugal affection constitutes the marriage bond. Attend, holy brethren; Christ’s Apostle was some time after this to say in the Church, “It remaineth that they that have wives be as though they had none.” And we know many of our brethren bringing forth fruit through grace, who for the Name of Christ practise an entire restraint by mutual consent, who yet suffer no restraint of true conjugal affection. Yea, the more the former is repressed, the more is the other strengthened and confirmed. Are they then not married people who thus live, not requiring from each other any carnal gratification, or exacting the satisfaction of any bodily desire? And yet the wife is subject to the husband, because it is fitting that she should be, and so much the more in subjection is she, in proportion to her greater chastity; and the husband for his part loveth his wife truly, as it is written, “In honour and sanctification,” as a coheir of grace: as “Christ,” saith the Apostle, “loved the Church.” If then this be a union, and a marriage; if it be not the less a marriage because nothing of that kind passes between them, which even with unmarried persons may take place, but then unlawfully; (O that all could live so, but many have not the power!) let them at least not separate those who have the power, and deny that the man is a husband or the woman a wife, because there is no fleshly intercourse, but only the union of hearts between them.

2Hence, my brethren, understand the sense of Scripture concerning those our ancient fathers, whose sole design in their marriage was to have children by their wives. For those even who, according to the custom of their time and nation, had a plurality of wives, lived in such chastity with them, as not to approach their bed, but for the cause I have mentioned, thus treating them indeed with honour. But he who exceeds the limits which this rule prescribes for the fulfilment of this end of marriage, acts contrary to the very contract by which he took his wife. The contract is read, read in the presence of all the attesting witnesses; and an express clause is there that they marry “for the procreation of children;” and this is called the marriage contract. If it was not for this that wives were given and taken to wife, what father could without blushing give up his daughter to the lust of any man? But now, that the parents may not blush, and that they may give their daughters in honourable marriage, not to shame, the contract is read out. And what is read from it?—the clause, “for the sake of the procreation of children.” And when this is heard, the brow of the parent is cleared up and calmed. Let us consider again the feelings of the husband who takes his wife. The husband himself would blush to receive her with any other view, if the father would blush with any other view to give her. Nevertheless, if they cannot contain (as I have said on other occasions), let them require what is due, and let them not go to any others than those from whom it is due. Let both the woman and the man seek relief for their infirmity in themselves. Let not the husband go to any other woman, nor the woman to any other man, for from this adultery gets its name, as though it were “a going to another.” And if they exceed the bounds of the marriage contract, let them not at least exceed those of conjugal fidelity. Is it not a sin in married persons to exact from one another more than this design of the “procreation of children” renders necessary? It is doubtless a sin, though a venial one. The Apostle saith, “But I speak this of allowance,” when he was treating the matter thus. “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” What does this mean? That you do not impose upon yourselves any thing beyond your strength, that you do not by your mutual continence fall into adultery. “That Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” And that he might not seem to enjoin what he only allowed (for it is one thing to give precepts to strength of virtue, and another to make allowance to infirmity), he immediately subjoined; “But this I speak of allowance, not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself.” As though he would say, I do not command you to do this; but I pardon you if you do.

2So then, my brethren, give heed. Those famous men who marry wives only for the procreation of children, such as we read the Patriarchs to have been, and know it, by many proofs, by the clear and unequivocal testimony of the sacred books; whoever, I say, they are who marry wives for this purpose only, if the means could be given them of having children without intercourse with their wives, would they not with joy unspeakable embrace so great a blessing? would they not with great delight accept it? For there are two carnal operations by which mankind is preserved, to both of which the wise and holy descend as matter of duty, but the unwise rush headlong into them through lust; and these are very different things. Now what are these two things by which mankind is preserved? The first which is confined to ourselves and relates to taking nourishment (which cannot of course be taken without some gratification of the flesh), is eating and drinking; if you do not this you will die. By this one support then of eating and drinking does the race of man subsist, by a law of its nature. But by this men are only supported as far as themselves are concerned; for they do not provide for any succession by eating and drinking, but by marrying wives. For so is the race of man preserved; first, by the means of life; but because whatever care they exercise they cannot of course live for ever, there is a second provision made, that those who are newly born may replace those who die. For the race of man is, as it is written, like the leaves on a tree, or an olive, that is, or a laurel, or some tree of this sort, which is never without foliage, yet whose leaves are not always the same. For, as it is written, “it shooteth forth some, and casteth others,” because those which sprout afresh replace the others as they fall, for the tree is ever casting its leaves, yet is ever clothed with leaves. So also the race of man feels not the loss of those who die day by day, because of the supply of those who are newly born; and thus the whole race of mankind is according to its own laws sustained, and as leaves are ever seen on the trees, so is the earth seen to be full of men. Whereas if they were only to die, and no fresh ones be born, the earth would be stripped of all its inhabitants, as certain trees are of all their leaves.

2Seeing then that the human race subsists in such sort, as that those two supports, of which enough has now been said, are necessary to it, the wise, and understanding, and the faithful man descends to both as matter of duty, and does not fall into them through lust. But how many are there who rush greedily to their eating and drinking, and make their whole life to consist in them, as if they were the very reason for living. For whereas men really eat to live, they think that they live to eat. These will every wise man condemn, and holy Scripture especially, all gluttons, drunkards, gormandizers, “whose god is their belly.” Nothing but the lust of the flesh, and not the need of refreshment, carries them to the table. These then fall upon their meat and drink. But they who descend to them from the duty of maintaining life, do not live to eat, but eat to live. Accordingly, if the offer were made to these wise and temperate persons that they should live without food or drink, with what great joy would they embrace the boon! that now they might not even be forced to descend to that into which it had never been their custom to fall, but that they might be lifted up always in the Lord, and no necessity of repairing the wastings of their body might make them lay aside their fixed attention towards Him. How think ye that the holy Elias received the cruse of water, and the cake of bread, to satisfy him for forty days? With great joy no doubt, because he eat and drank to live, and not to serve his lust. But try to bring this about, if you could, for a man who, like the beast in his stall, places his whole blessedness and happiness in the table. He would hate your boon, and thrust it from him, and look upon it as a punishment. And so in that other duty of marriage, sensual men seek for wives only to satisfy their sensuality, and therefore at length are scarce contented even with their wives. And oh! I would that if they cannot or will not cure their sensuality, they would not suffer it to go beyond that limit which conjugal duty prescribes, I mean even that which is granted to infirmity. Nevertheless, if you were to say to such a man, “why do you marry?” he would answer perhaps for very shame, “for the sake of children.” But if any one in whom he could have unhesitating credit were to say to him, “God is able to give, and yea, and will give you children without your having any intercourse with your wife;” he would assuredly be driven to confess that it was not for the sake of children that he was seeking for a wife. Let him then acknowledge his infirmity, and so receive that which he pretended to receive only as matter of duty.

2It was thus those holy men of former times, those men of God sought and wished for children. For this one end—the procreation of children, was their intercourse and union with their wives. It is for this reason that they were allowed to have a plurality of wives. For if immoderateness in these desires could be well-pleasing to God, it would have been as much allowed at that time for one woman to have many husbands, as one husband many wives. Why then had all chaste women no more than one husband, but one man had many wives, except that for one man to have many wives is a means to the multiplication of a family, whereas a woman would not give birth to more children, how many soever more husbands she might have. Wherefore, brethren, if our fathers’ union and intercourse with their wives, was for no other end but the procreation of children, it had been great matter of joy to them, if they could have had children without that intercourse, since for the sake of having them they descended to that intercourse only through duty, and did not rush into it through lust. So then was Joseph not a father because he had gotten a son without any lust of the flesh? God forbid that Christian chastity should entertain a thought, which even Jewish chastity entertained not! Love your wives then, but love them chastely. In your intercourse with them keep yourselves within the bounds necessary for the procreation of children. And inasmuch as you cannot otherwise have them, descend to it with regret. For this necessity is the punishment of that Adam from whom we are sprung. Let us not make a pride of our punishment. It is his punishment who because he was made mortal by sin, was condemned to bring forth only a mortal posterity. This punishment God has not withdrawn, that man might remember from what state he is called away, and to what state he is called, and might seek for that union, in which there can be no corruption.

2Among that people then, because it was necessary that there should be an abundant increase until Christ came, by the multiplication of that people in whom were to be prefigured all that was to be prefigured as instruction for the Church, it was a duty to marry wives, by means of whom that people in whom the Church should be foreshown might increase. But when the King of all nations Himself was born, then began the honour of virginity with the mother of the Lord, who had the privilege of bearing a Son without any loss of her virgin purity. As that then was a true marriage, and a marriage free from all corruption, so why should not the husband chastely receive what his wife had chastely brought forth? For as she was a wife in chastity, so was he in chastity a husband; and as she was in chastity a mother, so was he in chastity a father. Whoso then says that he ought not to be called father, because he did not beget his Son in the usual way, looks rather to the satisfaction of passion in the procreation of children, and not the natural feeling of affection. What others desire to fulfil in the flesh, he in a more excellent way fulfilled in the spirit. For thus they who adopt children, beget them by the heart in greater chastity, whom they cannot by the flesh beget. Consider, brethren, the laws of adoption; how a man comes to be the son of another, of whom he was not born, so that the choice of the person who adopts has more right in him than the nature of him who begets him has. Not only then must Joseph be a father, but in a most excellent manner a father. For men beget children of women also who are not their wives, and they are called natural children, and the children of the lawful marriage are placed above them. Now as to the manner of their birth, they are born alike; why then are the latter set above the other, but because the love of a wife, of whom children are born, is the more pure. The union of the sexes is not regarded in this case, for this is the same in both women. Where has the wife the pre-eminence but in her fidelity, her wedded love, her more true and pure affection? If then a man could have children by his wife without this intercourse, should he not have so much the more joy thereby, in proportion to the greater chastity of her whom he loves the most?

2See too by this how it may happen, that one man may have not two sons only, but two fathers also. For by the mention of adoption, it may occur to your thoughts that so it may be. For it is said; A man can have two sons, but two fathers he cannot have. But the truth is, it is found that he can have two fathers also, if one have begotten him of his body, and another adopted him in love. If one man then can have two fathers, Joseph could have two fathers also; might be begotten by one, and adopted by another. And if this be so, what do their cavillings mean, who insist that Matthew has followed one set of generations, and Luke another? And in fact we find that so it is, for Matthew has given Jacob as the father of Joseph, and Luke Heli. Now it is true it might seem, as if one and the same man, whose son Joseph was, had two names. But inasmuch as the grandfathers, and all the other progenitors which they enumerate, are different, and in the very number of the generations, the one has more, and the other fewer, Joseph is plainly shown hereby to have had two fathers. Now having disposed of the cavil of this question, forasmuch as clear reason has shown that it may happen that he who has begotten a child may be one father, and he who has adopted him another: supposing two fathers, it is nothing strange if the grandfathers and the great grandfathers, and the rest in the line upwards which are enumerated, should be different as coming from different fathers.

2And let not the law of adoption seem to you to be foreign to our Scriptures, and that, as if it were recognised only in the practice of human laws, it cannot fall in with the authority of the divine books. For it is a thing established of old time, and frequently heard of in the Ecclesiastical books—that not only the natural way of birth, but the free choice of the will also, should give birth to a child. For women, if they had no children of their own, used to adopt children born of their husbands by their hand-maids, and even oblige their husbands to give them children in this way; as Sarah, Rachel, and Leah. And in doing this the husbands did not commit adultery, in that they obeyed their wives in that matter which had regard to conjugal duty, according to what the Apostle saith: “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband; and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” Moses too, who was born of a Hebrew mother and was exposed, was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. There were not then indeed the same forms of law as now, but the choice of the will was taken for the rule of law, as the Apostle saith also in another place, “The Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law.” But if it is permitted to women to make those their children to whom they have not given birth, why should it not be allowed men to do so too with those whom they have not begotten of their body, but of the love of adoption. For we read that the patriarch Jacob even, the father of so many children, made his grandchildren, the sons of Joseph, his own children, in these words: “These too shall be mine, and they shall receive the land with their brethren, and those which thou begettest after them shall be thine.” But it will be said, perhaps, that this word “adoption” is not found in the Holy Scriptures. As though it were of any importance by what name it is called, when the thing itself is there—for a woman to have a child to whom she has not given birth, or a man a child whom he has not begotten. And he may, without any opposition from me, refuse to call Joseph adopted, provided he grant that he may have been the son of a man of whose body he was not born. Yet the Apostle Paul does continually use this very word “adoption,” and that to express a great mystery. For though Scripture testifies that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, it says, that the brethren and coheirs whom He hath vouchsafed to have, are made so by a kind of adoption through Divine grace. “When,” saith he, “the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” And in another place: “We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” And again, when he was speaking of the Jews, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh; who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the testaments, and the giving of the law; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever.” Where he shows, that the word “adoption,” or at least the thing which it signifies, was of ancient use among the Jews, just as was the Testament and the giving of the Law, which he mentions together with it.

2Added to this; there is another way peculiar to the Jews, in which a man might be the son of another of whom he was not born according to the flesh. For kinsmen used to marry the wives of their next of kin, who died without children, to raise up seed to him that was deceased. So then he who was thus born was both his son of whom he was born, and his in whose line of succession he was born. All this has been said, lest any one, thinking it impossible for two fathers to be mentioned properly for one man, should imagine that either of the Evangelists who have narrated the generations of the Lord are to be, by an impious calumny, charged so to say with a lie; especially when we may see that we are warned against this by their very words. For Matthew, who is understood to make mention of that father of whom Joseph was born, enumerates the generations thus: “This one begat the other,” so as to come to what he says at the end, “Jacob begat Joseph.” But Luke—because he cannot properly be said to be begotten who is made a child either by adoption, or who is born in the succession of the deceased, of her who was his wife—did not say, “Heli begat Joseph,” or “Joseph whom Heli begat,” but “Who was the son of Heli,” whether by adoption, or as being born of the next of kin in the succession of one deceased.

30. Enough has now been said to show that the question, why the generations are reckoned through Joseph and not through Mary, ought not to perplex us; for as she was a mother without carnal desire, so was he a father without any carnal intercourse. Let then the generations ascend and descend through him. And let us not exclude him from being a father, because he had none of this carnal desire. Let his greater purity only confirm rather his relationship of father, lest the holy Mary herself reproach us. For she would not put her own name before her husband; but said, “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” Let not then these perverse murmurers do that which the chaste spouse of Joseph did not. Let us reckon then through Joseph, because as he is in chastity a husband, so is he in chastity a father. And let us put the man before the woman, according to the order of nature and the law of God. For if we should cast him aside and leave her, he would say, and say with reason, “Why have you excluded me? Why do not the generations ascend and descend through me?” Shall we say to him, “Because thou didst not beget Him by the operation of thy flesh?” Surely he will answer, “And is it by the operation of the flesh that the Virgin bare Him? What the Holy Spirit wrought, He wrought for both.” “Being a just man,” saith the Gospel. The husband then was just and the woman just. The Holy Spirit reposing in the justice of them both, gave to both a Son. In that sex which is by nature fitted to give birth, He wrought that birth which was for the husband also. And therefore doth the Angel bid them both give the Child a name, and hereby is the authority of both parents established. For when Zacharias was yet dumb, the mother gave a name to her newborn son. And when they who were present “made signs to his father what he would have him called, he took a writing-table and wrote” the name which she had already pronounced. So to Mary too the Angel saith, “Behold, thou shalt conceive a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus.” And to Joseph also he saith, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” Again it is said, “And she brought forth a Son to him,” by which he is established to be a father, not in the flesh indeed, but in love. Let us then acknowledge him to be a father, as in truth he is. For most advisedly and most wisely do the Evangelists reckon through him, whether Matthew in descending from Abraham down to Christ, or Luke in ascending from Christ through Abraham up to God. The one reckons in a descending, the other in an ascending order; but both through Joseph. And why? Because he is the father. How the father? Because he is the more undeniably a father in proportion as he is more chastely so. He was thought, it is true, to be the father of our Lord Jesus Christ in another way: that is, as other parents are according to a fleshly birth, and not through the fruitfulness of a wholly spiritual love. For Luke said, “Who was supposed to be the father of Jesus.” Why supposed? Because men’s thoughts and suppositions were directed to what is usually the case with men. The Lord then was not of the seed of Joseph, though He was supposed to be; yet nevertheless the Son of the Virgin Mary, who is also the Son of God, was born to Joseph, the fruit of his piety and love.

3But why does St Matthew reckon in a descending, and Luke in an ascending order? I pray you give attentive ear to what the Lord may help me to say on this matter; with your minds now at ease, and disembarrassed from all the perplexity of these cavillings. Matthew descends through his generations, to signify our Lord Jesus Christ descending to bear our sins, that in the seed of Abraham all nations might be blessed. Wherefore, he does not begin with Adam, for from him is the whole race of mankind. Nor with Noe, because from his family again, after the flood, descended the whole human race. Nor could the man Christ Jesus, as descended from Adam, from whom all men are descended, bear upon the fulfilment of prophecy; nor, again, as descended from Noe, from whom also all men are descended; but only as descended from Abraham, who at that time was chosen, that all nations should be blessed in his seed, when the earth was now full of nations. But Luke reckons in an ascending order, and does not begin to enumerate the generations from the beginning of the account of our Lord’s birth, but from that place, where he relates His Baptism by John. Now, as in the incarnation of the Lord, the sins of the human race are taken upon Him to be borne, so in the consecration of His Baptism are they taken on Him to be expiated. Accordingly, St. Matthew, as representing His descent to bear our sins, enumerates the generations in a descending order; but the other, as representing the expiation of sins, not His own, of course, but our sins, enumerates them in an ascending order. Again, St. Matthew descends through Solomon, by whose mother David sinned; St. Luke ascends through Nathan another son of the same David, through whom he was purged from his sin. For we read, that Nathan was sent to him to reprove him, and that he might through repentance be healed. Both Evangelists meet together in David; the one in descending, the other in ascending; and from David to Abraham, or from Abraham to David, there is no difference in any one generation. And so Christ, both the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, comes up to God. For to God must we be brought back, when renewed in Baptism, from the abolition of sins.

3Now, in the generations which Matthew enumerates, the predominant number is forty. For it is a custom of the Holy Scriptures, not to reckon what is over and above certain round numbers. For thus it is said to be four hundred years, after which the people of Israel went out of Egypt, whereas it is four hundred and thirty. And so here the one generation, which exceeds the fortieth, does not take away the predominance of that number. Now this number signifies the life wherein we labour in this world, as long as we are absent from the Lord, during which the temporal dispensation of the preaching of the truth is necessary. For the number ten, by which the perfection of blessedness is signified, multiplied four times, because of the fourfold divisions of the seasons, and the fourfold divisions of the world, will make the number forty. Wherefore Moses and Elias, and the Mediator Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, fasted forty days, because in the time of this life, continence from the enticements of the body is necessary. Forty years also did the people wander in the wilderness. Forty days the waters of the flood lasted. Forty days after His resurrection did the Lord converse with the disciples, persuading them of the reality of His risen body, whereby He showed that in this life, “wherein we are absent from the Lord” (which the number forty, as has been already said, mystically figures), we have need to celebrate the memory of the Lord’s Body, which we do in the Church, till He come. Forasmuch, then as our Lord descended to this life, and “the Word was made flesh, that He might be delivered for our sins, and rise again for our justification,” Matthew followed the number forty; so that the one generation which there exceeds that number, either does not hinder its predominance—just as those thirty years do not hinder the perfect number of four hundred—or that it even has this further meaning, that the Lord Himself, by the addition of whom the forty-one is made up, so descended to this life to bear our sins, as yet, by a peculiar and especial excellency, whereby He is in such sense man, as to be also God, to be found to be excepted from this life. For of Him only is that said, which never has been or shall be able to be said of any holy man, however perfected in wisdom and righteousness, “The Word was made Flesh.”

3But Luke, who ascends up through the generations from the baptism of the Lord, makes up the number seventy-seven, beginning to ascend from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself through Joseph, and coming through Adam up to God. And that is, because by this number is signified the abolition of all sins, which takes place in Baptism. Not that the Lord Himself had any thing to be forgiven Him in baptism, but that by His humility He set forth its usefulness to us. And though that was only the baptism of John, yet there appeared in it to outward sense the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and hereby was consecrated the Baptism of Christ Himself, whereby Christians were to be baptized. The Father in the voice which came from heaven, the Son in the person of the Mediator Himself, the Holy Ghost in the dove.

3Now, why the number seventy-seven should contain all sins which are remitted in Baptism, there occurs this probable reason, for that the number ten implies the perfection of all righteousness, and blessedness, when the creature denoted by seven cleaves to the Trinity of the Creator; whence also the Decalogue of the Law was consecrated in ten precepts. Now the “transgression” of the number ten is signified by the number eleven; and sin is known to be transgression, when a man, in seeking something “more,” exceeds the rule of justice. And hence the Apostle calls avarice “the root of all evils.” And to the soul which goes a-whoring from God, it is said, in the Person of the same Lord, “Thou wast in hope, if thou didst depart from Me, that thou wouldest have something more.” Because the sinner then has in his transgression, that is, in his sin, regard to himself alone—in that he wishes to gratify himself by some private good of his own (whence they are blamed “who seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s;” and charity is commended, “which seeketh not her own”); therefore, this number eleven, by which transgression is signified, is multiplied, not ten times, but seven, and so makes up seventy-seven. For transgression looks not to the Trinity of the Creator, but to the creature, that is, to the man himself, which creature the number seven denotes. Three, because of the soul, in which there is a kind of image of the Trinity of the Creator (for it is in the soul that man has been made after the image of God); and four, because of the body. For the four elements of which the body is made up are known by all. And if any one know them not, he may easily remember, that this body of the world, in which our bodies move along, has, so to say, four principal parts, which even Holy Scripture is constantly making mention of, East, and West, and North, and South. And forasmuch as sins are committed either by the mind, as in the will only, or by the works of the body also, and so visibly; therefore the Prophet Amos continually introduces God as threatening, and saying, “For three and four iniquities I will not turn away,” that is,” I will not dissemble My wrath.” Three, because of the nature of the soul; four, because of that of the body; of which two, man consists.

3So, then, seven times eleven, that is, as has been explained, the transgression of righteousness, which has regard only to the sinner himself, make up the number seventy-seven, in which it is signified, that all sins which are remitted in Baptism are contained. And hence it is that Luke ascends up through seventy-seven generations unto God, as showing that man is reconciled unto God by the abolition of all sin. Hence the Lord Himself saith to Peter, who asked Him how oft he ought to forgive a brother, “I say not unto thee seven times, but until seventy times and seven.” Now, whatever else can be drawn out of these recesses and treasures of God’s mysteries by those who are more diligent and more worthy than I, receive. Yet have I spoken according to my poor ability, as the Lord hath aided and given me power, and as I best could, considering also the little time I had. If any one of you be capable of anything further, let him knock at Him from whom I too receive what I am able to receive and speak. But, above all things, remember this; not to be disturbed by the Scriptures, which you do not yet understand, nor be puffed up by what you do understand; but what you do not understand, with submission wait for, and what you do understand, hold fast with charity.

 
2 Words of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chap. iii. 13', “Then Jesus cometh from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.” Concerning the Trinity.

1. The lesson of the Gospel hath set before me a subject whereof to speak to you, beloved, as though by the Lord’s command, and by His command in very deed. For my heart hath waited for an order as it were from Him to speak, that I might understand thereby that it is His wish that I should speak on that which He hath also willed should be read to you. Let your zeal and devotion then give ear, and before the Lord our God Himself aid ye my labour. For we behold and see as it were in a divine spectacle exhibited to us, the notice of our God in Trinity, conveyed to us at the river Jordan. For when Jesus came and was baptized by John, the Lord by His servant (and this He did for an example of humility; for He showeth that in this same humility is righteousness fulfilled, when as John said to Him, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” He answered, “Suffer it to be so now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled”), when He was baptized then, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a Dove: and then a Voice from on high followed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Here then we have the Trinity in a certain sort distinguished. The Father in the Voice,—the Son in the Man,—the Holy Spirit in the Dove. It was only needful just to mention this, for most obvious is it to see. For the notice of the Trinity is here conveyed to us plainly and without leaving room for doubt or hesitation. For the Lord Christ Himself coming in the form of a servant to John, is doubtlessly the Son: for it cannot be said that it was the Father, or the Holy Spirit. “Jesus,” it is said, “cometh;” that is, the Son of God. And who hath any doubt about the Dove? or who saith, “What is the Dove?” when the Gospel itself most plainly testifieth, “The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove.” And in like manner as to that voice there can be no doubt that it is the Father’s, when He saith, “Thou art My Son.” Thus then we have the Trinity distinguished.

And if we consider the places, I say with confidence (though in fear I say it), that the Trinity is in a manner separable. When Jesus came to the river, He came from one place to another; and the Dove descended from heaven to earth, from one place to another; and the very Voice of the Father sounded neither from the earth, nor from the water, but from heaven; these three are as it were separated in places, in offices, and in works. But one may say to me, “Show the Trinity to be inseparable rather. Remember that thou who art speaking art a Catholic, and to Catholics art thou speaking.” For thus doth our faith teach, that is, the true, the right Catholic faith, gathered not by the opinion of private judgment, but by the witness of the Scriptures, not subject to the fluctuations of heretical rashness, but grounded on Apostolic truth: this we know, this we believe. This though we see it not with our eyes, nor as yet with the heart, so long as we are being purified by faith, yet by this faith we most lightly and most strenuously maintain—That the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are a Trinity inseparable; One God, not three Gods. But yet so One God, as that the Son is not the Father, and the Father is not the Son, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. This ineffable Divinity, abiding ever in itself, making all things new, creating, creating anew, sending, recalling, judging, delivering, this Trinity, I say, we know to be at once ineffable and inseparable.

What am I then about? See: The Son came separately in the Man; The Holy Spirit descended separately from heaven in the form of a Dove; The Voice of the Father sounded separately out of heaven, “This is My Son.” Where then is this inseparable Trinity? God hath made you attentive by my words. Pray for me, and open, as it were, the folds of your hearts, and may He grant you wherewith your hearts so opened may be filled. Share my travail with me. For you see what I have undertaken; and not only what, but who I am that have undertaken it, and of what I wish to speak, and where and what my position is, even in that “body which is corruptible, and presseth down the soul, and the earthly habitation weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things.” When therefore I abstract my mind from the multiplicity of things, and gather it up into the One God, the inseparable Trinity, that so I may see something which I may say of it, think ye that in this “body which presseth down the soul,” I shall be able to say (in order that I may speak to you something worthy of the subject), “O Lord, I have lifted up my soul unto Thee.” May He assist me, may He lift it up with me. For I am too infirm in respect of Him, and He in respect of me is too mighty.

Now this is a question which is often proposed by the most earnest brethren, and often has place in the conversation of the lovers of God’s word; for this much knocking is wont to be made unto God, while men say, “Doeth the Father anything which the Son doeth not? or doeth the Son anything which the Father doeth not?” Let us first speak of the Father and the Son. And when He to Whom we say, “Be Thou my helper, leave me not,”  shall have given good success to this essay of ours, then shall we understand how that the Holy Spirit also is in no way separated from the operation of the Father and the Son. As concerning the Father and the Son, then, brethren, give ear. Doeth the Father anything without the Son? We answer, No. Do you doubt it? For what doeth He without Him “by Whom all things were made? All things,” saith the Scripture, “were made by Him.” And to inculcate it fully upon the slow, and hard, and disputatious it added, And without Him was not anything made.”

What then, brethren? “All things were made by Him.” We understand then by this that the whole creation which was made by the Son, the Father made by His Word—God, by His Power and Wisdom. Shall we then say, “All things” indeed when they were created, “were made by Him,” but now the Father doeth not all things by Him? God forbid! Be such a thought as this far from the hearts of believers; be it driven away from the mind of the devout; from the understanding of the godly! It cannot be that He created by Him, and doth not govern by Him. God forbid that what existeth should be governed without Him, when by Him it was made, that it might have existence! But let us show by the testimony of the same Scripture that not only were all things created and made by Him as we have quoted from the Gospel, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made,” but that the things which were made are also governed and ordered by Him. You acknowledge Christ then to be the Power and Wisdom of God; acknowledge too what is said of Wisdom, “She reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly doth she order all things.” Let us not then doubt that by Him are all things ruled, by whom all things were made. So then the Father doeth nothing without the Son, nor the Son without the Father.

But so a difficulty meets us, which we have undertaken to solve in the Name of the Lord, and by His will. If the Father doeth nothing without the Son, nor the Son without the Father, will it not follow, that we must say that the Father also was born of the Virgin Mary, the Father suffered under Pontius Pilate, the Father rose again and ascended into heaven? God forbid! We do not say this, because we do not believe it. “For I believed, therefore have I spoken: we also believe, and therefore speak.” What is in the Creed? That the Son was born of a Virgin, not the Father. What is in the Creed? That the Son suffered under Pontius Pilate and was dead, not the Father. Have we forgotten, that some, misunderstanding this, are called “Patripassians,” who say that the Father Himself was born of a woman, that the Father Himself suffered, that the Father is the same as the Son, that they are two names, not two things? And these hath the Church Catholic separated from the communion of saints, that they might not deceive any, but dispute in separation from her.

Let us then recall the difficulty of the question to your minds. One may say to me, “You have said that the Father doeth nothing without the Son, nor the Son without the Father, and testimonies you have adduced out of the Scriptures, that the Father doeth nothing without the Son, for that ‘all things were made by Him;’ and again, that that which was made is not governed without the Son, for that He is the Wisdom of the Father, ‘reaching from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordering all things.’ And now you tell me, as if contradicting yourself, that the Son was born of a Virgin, and not the Father; the Son suffered, not the Father; the Son rose again, not the Father. See then, here I see the Son doing something which the Father doeth not. Do you therefore either confess that the Son doeth something without the Father, or else that the Father also was born and suffered, and died and rose again. Say one or the other of these, choose one of the two.” No: I will choose neither, I will say neither the one nor the other. I will neither say the Son doeth anything without the Father, for I should lie were I to say so; nor that the Father was born, suffered, and died, and rose again, for I should equally lie were I to say this. “How then, saith he, will you disentangle yourself from these straits?”

The proposing of the question pleases you. May God grant His aid, that its solution may please you too. See, what I am asking Him, that He would free both me and you. For in one faith do we stand in the Name of Christ; and in one house do we live under one Lord, and in one body are we members under One Head, and by One Spirit are we quickened. That the Lord then may set both me who speak, and you who hear, free from the straits of this most perplexing question, I say as follows: The Son indeed and not the Father was born of the Virgin Mary; but this very birth of the Son, not of the Father, was the work both of the Father and the Son. The Father indeed suffered not, but the Son, yet the suffering of the Son was the work of the Father and the Son. The Father did not rise again, but the Son, yet the resurrection of the Son was the work of the Father and the Son. We seem then to be already quit of this question, but peradventure it is only by words of my own; let us see whether it is not as well by words divine. It is my place then to prove by testimonies of the sacred books, that the birth, and passion, and resurrection of the Son were in such sort the works of the Father and the Son, that whereas it is the birth, and passion, and resurrection of the Son only, yet these three things which belong to the Son only, were wrought neither by the Father alone, nor by the Son alone, but by the Father and the Son. Let us prove each several point, you hear as judges; the case has been already laid open; now let the witnesses come forth. Let your judgment say to me, as is wont to be said to pleaders in a cause, “Establish what you promise.” I will do so assuredly, with the Lord’s assistance, and will cite the books of heavenly law. Ye have listened to me attentively while proposing the question, listen now with still more attention while I prove my point.

I must first teach you concerning the birth of Christ, how it is the work of the Father and the Son, though what the Father and the Son did work pertains only to the Son. I will quote Paul; one competently versed in the divine law. That Paul, I say, will I quote, who prescribes the laws of peace, not of litigation, for lawyers at this day also have a Paul who prescribes the laws of the courts, not the Christian’s laws. Let the holy Apostle show us then how the birth of the Son was the work of the Father. “But,” saith he, “when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law.” Thus have ye heard him, and because it is plain and express, have understood. See, the Father made the Son to be born of a Virgin. For “when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son;” the Father sent His Christ. How sent He Him? “made of a woman, made under the Law.” The Father then made Him of a woman under the Law.

Doth this peradventure perplex you, that I said of a virgin, and Paul saith of a woman? Let not this perplex you; let us not stop here, for I am not speaking to persons without instruction. The Scripture saith both, both “of a virgin,” and “of a woman.” Where saith it, “of a virgin? Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son.” And “of a woman,” as you have just heard; here there is no contradiction. For the peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue gives the name of “women” not to such as have lost their virgin estate, but to females generally. You have a plain passage in Genesis, when Eve herself was first made, “He made her a woman.” Scripture also in another place saith, that God ordered “the women” to be separated “which had not known man by lying with him.” This then ought now to be well established, and should not detain us, that so we may be able to explain, by the Lord’s assistance, what will deservedly detain us.

1We have then proved that the birth of the Son was the work of the Father; now let us prove that it was the work of the Son also. Now what is the birth of the Son of the Virgin Mary? Surely it is His assumption of the form of a servant in the Virgin’s womb. Is the birth of the Son ought else, but the taking of the form of a servant in the womb of the Virgin? Now hear how that this was the work of the Son also. “Who when He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant.” “When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,” who was “made His Son of the seed of David according to the flesh.” In this then we see that the birth of the Son was the work of the Father; but in that the Son Himself “emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,” we see that the birth of the Son was the work also of the Son Himself. This then has been proved; so let us pass on from this point, and receive ye with attention that which comes next in order.

1Let us prove that the Passion also of the Son was the work of the Father and the Son. We may see that the Passion of the Son is the work of the Father, since it is written, “Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;” and that the Passion of the Son was His own work also, “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” The Father delivered up the Son, and the Son delivered up Himself. This Passion was wrought out for one, but by both. As therefore the birth, so the Passion, of Christ, was not the work of the Son without the Father, nor of the Father without the Son. The Father delivered up the Son, and the Son delivered up Himself. What did Judas in it, but his own sin? Let us then pass on from this point also, and come we to the resurrection.

1Let us see the Son indeed, and not the Father, rising again, but both the Father and the Son working the resurrection of the Son. The resurrection of the Son is the work of the Father; for it is written, “Wherefore He exalted Him, and gave Him a name which is above every name.” The Father therefore raised the Son to life again, in exalting, and awakening Him from the dead. And did the Son also raise Himself? Assuredly He did. For He said of the temple, as the figure of His own body, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again.” Lastly, as the laying down of life has reference to the Passion, so the taking it again has reference to the resurrection. Let us see then if the Son laid down His life indeed, and the Father restored His life to Him, and not He to Himself. For that the Father restored it is plain. For so saith the Psalm, “Raise Thou Me up, and I will requite them.” But why do ye wait for a proof from me that the Son also restored life to Himself? Let Him speak Himself; “I have power to lay down My life.” I have not yet said what I promised. I have said, “to lay it down;” and you are crying out already, for you are flying past me. For well-instructed as ye are in the school of your heavenly teacher, as attentively listening to, and in pious affection rehearsing, what is read, ye are not ignorant of what comes next. “I have power,” saith He,“to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself, and take it again.”

1I have made good what I promised; I have established my propositions with, as I think, the strongest proofs and testimonies. Hold fast then what you have heard. I will recapitulate it briefly, and entrust it to be stored up in your minds as a thing, to my thinking, of the greatest usefulness. The Father was not born of the Virgin; yet this birth of the Son from the Virgin was the work both of the Father and the Son. The Father suffered not on the Cross; yet the Passion of the Son was the work both of the Father and the Son. The Father rose not again from the dead; yet the resurrection of the Son was the work both of the Father and the Son. You see then a distinction of Persons, and an inseparableness of operation. Let us not say therefore that the Father doeth any thing without the Son, or the Son any thing without the Father. But perhaps you have a difficulty as to the miracles which Jesus did, lest peradventure He did some which the Father did not! Where then is that saying, “The Father who dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works?” All that I have now said was plain; it needed to be barely mentioned; there was no necessity for much labour to make it understood, but only that care should be taken, that it might be brought to your remembrance.

1I wish to say something further, and here ask sincerely both for your more earnest attention, and your devotion to Godward. For none but bodies are held or contained in places suited to the nature of bodies. The Divinity is beyond all such places: let no one seek for it as though it were in space. It is everywhere invisible and inseparably present; not in one part greater, and another smaller; but whole everywhere, and nowhere divided. Who can see? Who can comprehend this? Let us restrain ourselves: let us remember who we are; and of Whom we speak. Let this and that, or whatever appertains to the nature of God, be with a pious faith embraced, with a holy respect entertained, and as far as is allowed us, as far as is possible for us, in an unspeakable sort understood. Let words be hushed: let the tongue be silent, let the heart be aroused, let the heart be lifted up thither. For it is not of such a nature as that it can ascend into the heart of man; but the heart of man must itself ascend to it. Let us consider the creatures (“for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made”), if haply in the things which God hath made, with which we have some familiarity of intercourse, we may find some resemblance, whereby we may prove that there are some three things which may be exhibited as three separably, yet whose operation is inseparable.

1Come, brethren, give me your whole attention. But first of all consider what it is that I promise; if haply I can find any resemblance in the creature, for the Creator is too high above us. And peradventure some one of us, whose mind the glare of truth hath, as it were, stricken with sparks of its brightness, can say those words, “I said in my ecstasy.”—What saidst thou in thine ecstasy?—“I am cast away from the sight of Thine eyes.”  For it seems to me as if he who said this had lifted up his soul unto God, and had been carried beyond himself, while they said daily unto him, “Where is thy God?”—had reached by a kind of spiritual contact to that unchangeable Light, and through the weakness of his sight had been unable to endure it, and so had fallen back again into his own, as it were, sick and languid state, and had compared himself with that Light, and had felt that the eye of his mind could not yet be attempered to the light of God’s wisdom. And because he had done this in ecstasy, hurried away from his bodily senses, and taken up into God, when he was recalled in a manner from God to man, he said, “I said in my ecstasy.” For I saw in ecstasy I know not what, which I could not long endure, and being restored to my mortal estate, and the manifold thoughts of mortal things from the body which presseth down the soul, I said, what? “I am cast away from the sight of Thine eyes.” Thou art far above, and I am far below. What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to comprehend what thou wouldest say, it is not God; if thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend Him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if it be God, thou hast not comprehended it. How therefore wouldest thou speak of that which thou canst not comprehend?

1Let us see then, if haply we cannot find something in the creature whereby we may prove that some three things are exhibited separately whose operation is yet inseparable. But whither shall we go? To the heaven, to dispute of the sun and moon and stars? To the earth, to dispute of shrubs, and trees, and animals which fill the earth? Or of the heaven and the earth itself, which contain all the things that are in heaven and earth? How long, O man, wilt thou roam over the creation? Return unto thyself, see, consider, examine thine own self. Thou art searching among the creatures for some three things which are separately exhibited, whose operation is yet inseparable; if then thou art searching for this among the creatures, search for it first in thine own self. For thou art not other than a creature. It is a resemblance thou art searching for. Wouldest thou search for it among the cattle? For of God it was thou wast speaking, when thou wast in search for this resemblance. Thou wast speaking of the Trinity of Majesty ineffable, and because thou didst fail in contemplating  the Divine Nature, and with becoming humility didst confess thine infirmity, thou didst come down to human nature; there then pursue thine enquiry. Wilt thou make thy search among the cattle, in the sun, or the stars? What of these was made after the image and likeness of God? Thou mayest search in thine own self for something more familiar to thee, and more excellent than all these. For God made man after His own image and likeness. Search then in thine own self, if haply the image of the Trinity bear not some vestige of the Trinity. And what is this image? It is an image very different from its model; yet different as it is, it is an image and a likeness notwithstanding, not indeed in the same way as the Son is the Image, being the Same Which the Father is. For an image is in one sort in a son, and in another in a mirror. There is great difference between them. Thine image in thy son is thine own self, for the son is by nature what thou art. In substance the same as thou, in person other than thou. Man then is not an image as the Only-begotten Son is, but made after a sort of image and likeness. Let him then search for something in himself, if so be he may find it, even for some three things which are exhibited separately, whose operation is yet inseparable. I will search, and do ye search with me. I will not search in you, but do ye search in yourselves, and I in myself. Let us search in concert, and in concert discuss our common nature and substance.

1See, O man, and consider whether what I am saying be true. Hast thou a body and flesh? I have, you say. For how am I in this place that I now occupy, and how do I move from place to place? How do I hear the words of one who is speaking, but by the ears of my body? How do I see the mouth of him who is speaking, but by the eyes of my body? It is plain then that thou hast a body, no need is there to trouble one’s self about so plain a matter. Consider then another point, consider what it is that acts through this body. For thou hearest by means of the ear, but it is not the ear that hears. There is something else within which hears by means of the ear. Thou seest by means of the eye—examine this eye. What! hast thou acknowledged the house, and paid no regard to him that inhabiteth it? Doth the eye see by itself? Is it not another that sees by means of the eye? I will not say, that the eye of a dead man, from whose body it is plain the inhabitant hath departed, sees not, but any man’s eye who is only thinking of something else, sees not the form of the object that is before him. Look then into thine inner man. For there it is rather that the resemblance must be sought for of some three things which are exhibited separately, whose operation is yet inseparable. What then is in thy mind? Peradventure if I search, I find many things there, but there is something very nigh at hand, which is understood more easily. What then is in thy soul? Call it to mind, reflect upon it. For I do not require that credit should be given me in what I am about to say; if thou find it not in thyself, admit it not. Look inward then; but first let us see what had escaped me, whether man be not the image, not of the Son only, or of the Father only, but of the Father and the Son, and so consequently of course of the Holy Ghost also. The words in Genesis are, “Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness.”  So then the Father doth not act without the Son, nor the Son without the Father. “Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness. Let us make,” not, “I will make,” or “Make thou,” or “Let him make,” but, “Let Us make after,” not “thine image,” or “mine,” but, “after Our image.”

1I am asking, I am speaking remember of a distant resemblance. So let no one say, See what he has compared to God! I have advertised you of this already, and by anticipation have both put you on your guard, and have guarded myself. The two are indeed very far removed from each other, as the lowest from the Highest, as the changeable from the Unchangeable, the created from the Creator, the human nature from the Divine. Lo! I apprise you of this at first, that no one may say ought against me, because there is so great a difference in the things whereof I am about to speak. Lest then while I am asking for your ears, ye should any of you be getting ready your teeth, remember I have undertaken merely to show, that there are some three things which are separately exhibited, whose operation is yet inseparable. How like or how unlike these things are to the Almighty Trinity is no concern of mine at present; but in the very creatures of the lowest order, and subject to change, we do find three things which may be separately exhibited, whose operation is yet inseparable. O carnal imagination! obstinate, unbelieving conscience! Why as concerning that ineffable Majesty dost thou doubt as to that thing, which thou canst discover in thine own self? For I ask thee, O man, hast thou memory? If not, how hast thou retained what I have said? But perhaps thou hast forgotten already what I said but a little while ago. Yet these very words, “I said”—these two syllables, thou couldest not retain except by memory. For how shouldest thou know they were two, if as the second sounded, thou hadst forgotten the first? But why do I dwell longer on this? Why am I so urgent? Why do I so press conviction? For thou hast memory; it is plain. I am searching then for something else. Hast thou understanding? “I have,” you will say. For hadst thou not memory, thou couldest not retain what I said; and hadst thou not understanding, thou couldest not comprehend what thou hast retained. Thou hast then this as well as the other. Thou recallest thine understanding unto that which thou dost retain within, and so thou seest it, and by seeing art fashioned into that state as to be said to know. But I am searching for a third thing. Memory thou hast, whereby to retain what is said; and understanding thou hast, whereby to understand what is retained; but as touching these two, I ask again of thee, Hast thou not with thy will retained and understood? Undoubtedly, with my will, you will say. So then thou hast will.

These are the three things which I promised I would bring home to your ears and minds. These three things are in thee, which thou canst number, but canst not separate. These three then, memory, understanding, and will—these three, I say, consider how they are separately exhibited, yet is their operation inseparable.

20. The Lord will be my present help, and I see that He is present to help me; by your understanding what I say, I see that He is present to help me. For I perceive by these your voices how that you have understood me, and I surely trust that He will still assist us, that you may comprehend the whole. I promised to show you three things which are separately exhibited whose operation is yet inseparable. See then; I did not know what was in thy mind, and thou showedest me by saying, “Memory.” This word, this sound, this expression came forth from thy mind to mine ears. For before that, thou hadst the silent idea of this memory, but thou didst not express it. It was in thee, but it had not yet come to me. But in order that that which was in thee might be passed on to me, thou didst express the very word, that is, “Memory.” I heard it, I heard these three syllables in the word, “Memory.” It is a noun, a word of three syllables, it sounded, and came to my ear, and impressed a certain idea on my mind. The sound has passed away, but the word whereby the idea was conveyed, and the idea itself, remains. But I ask, when thou didst pronounce this word, “Memory,” thou seest certainly that it has reference to the memory only. For the other two things have their own proper names. For one is called “the understanding,” and the other, “the will,” not the “memory,” but that one alone is called “memory.” Nevertheless, whereby didst thou work in order to express this, in order to produce these three syllables? This word which has reference to the memory only, both memory was engaged in producing in thee, that thou mightest retain what thou saidst, and understanding, that thou mightest know what thou retainedst, and will, that thou mightest give expression to what thou knewest. Thanks be to the Lord our God! He hath helped us, both you and me. For I tell you the truth, beloved, that I undertook the examination and explanation of this subject with exceeding fear. For I was afraid lest haply I might gladden the spirit of the more enlarged in mind, and inflict on the slower capacities an afflictive weariness. But now I see both by the attention with which you have heard, and the quickness with which you have understood me, that you have not only caught what I have said, but that you have anticipated my words. Thanks be to the Lord!

2See then, henceforth I speak in all security of that which you have already understood; I am inculcating no unknown lesson, but am only conveying to you by recapitulation what you have already received. Now, of these three things, one only has been yet named and expressed; “Memory” is the name of one only of those three, yet all the three concurred in producing the name of this single one of the three. The single word “memory” could not be expressed, but by the operation of the will, and the understanding, and the memory. The single word “understanding” could not be expressed, but by the operation of the memory, the will, and the understanding; and the single word “will” could not be expressed, but by the operation of the memory and the understanding and the will. What I promised, then, I think has been explained, that which I have pronounced separately, I conceived inseparably. The three together have produced each one of these, but yet this one which the three have produced has reference not to the three, but to one. The three together have produced the word “memory,” but this word has reference to none but the memory only. The three together have produced the word “understanding,” but it has reference to none but the understanding only. The three together have produced the word “will,” but it has reference to none but the will only. So the Trinity concurred in the formation of the Body of Christ, but it belongs to none but Christ only. The Trinity concurred in the formation of the Dove from heaven; but it belongs to none but the Holy Spirit only. The Trinity formed the Voice from heaven, but this Voice belongs to none but the Father only.

2Let no one then say to me, no one with unfair cavils try to press upon my infirmity, saying, “Which then of these three, which you have shown to be in our mind or soul, which of themanswers to the Father, that is, so to say, to the likeness of the Father, which of them to that of the Son, and which of them to that of the Holy Ghost?” I cannot say—I cannot explain this. Let us leave somewhat to meditation and to silence. Enter into thine own self; separate thyself from all tumult. Look into thine inner self; see if thou have there some sweet retiring place of conscience, where there may be no noise, no disputation, no strife, or debatings; where there will be not a thought of dissensions, and obstinate contention. Be meek to hear the word, that so thou mayest understand. Perhaps thou mayest soon have to say, “Thou wilt make me hear of joy and gladness, and my bones shall rejoice;” the bones, that is, which are humbled, not those that are lifted up.

2It is enough, then, that I have shown that there are some three things which are exhibited separately, whose operation is yet inseparable. If thou hast discovered this in thine own self; if thou hast discovered it in man; if thou hast discovered it in a being that walketh on the earth, and beareth about a frail “body, which weigheth down the soul;” believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be exhibited separately, by certain visible symbols, by certain forms borrowed from the creatures, and still their operation be inseparable. This is enough. I do not say that “memory” is the Father,—the “understanding” the Son,—and “will” the Spirit; I do not say this; let men understand it how they will. I do not venture to say this. Let us reserve the greater truths for those who are capable of them: but, infirm as I am myself, I convey to the infirm only what is according to our powers. I do not say that these things are in any sort to be equalled with the Holy Trinity, to be squared after an analogy; that is, a kind of exact rule of comparison. This I do not say. But what do I say? See. I have discovered in thee three things, which are exhibited separately, whose operation is inseparable; and of these three, every single name is produced by the three together; yet does not this name belong to the three, but to some one of the three. Believe then in the Trinity, what thou canst not see, if in thyself thou hast heard, and seen, and retained it. For what is in thine own self thou canst know: but what is in Him who made thee, whatever it be, how canst thou know? And if thou shalt be ever able, thou art not able yet. And even when thou shalt be able, wilt thou be able so to know God, as He knoweth Himself? Let then this suffice you, beloved: I have said all I could; I have made good my promise as ye required. As to the rest which must be added, that your understanding may make advancement, this seek from the Lord.

 
3 Words of the Gospel, Matt. Chap. v. 3 and 8', “Blessed are the poor in spirit:” etc., but especially on that, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

1. By the return of the commemoration of a holy virgin, who gave her testimony to Christ, and was found worthy of a testimony from Christ, who was put to death openly, and crowned invisibly, I am reminded to speak to you, beloved, on that exhortation which the Lord hath just now uttered out of the Gospel, assuring us that there are many sources of a blessed life, which there is not a man that does not wish for. There is not a man surely can be found, who does not wish to be blessed. But oh! if as men desire the reward, so they would not decline the work that leads to it! Who would not run with all alacrity, were it told him, “Thou shalt be blessed”? Let him then also give a glad and ready ear when it is said, “Blessed, if thou shalt do thus.” Let not the contest be declined, if the reward be loved; and let the mind be enkindled to an eager execution of the work, by the setting forth of the reward. What we desire, and wish for, and seek, will be hereafter; but what we are ordered to do for the sake of that which will be hereafter, must be now. Begin now, then, to recall to mind the divine sayings, and the precepts and rewards of the Gospel. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven shall be thine hereafter; be poor in spirit now. Wouldest thou that the kingdom of heaven should be thine hereafter? Look well to thyself whose thou art now. Be poor in spirit. You ask me, perhaps, “What is to be poor in spirit?” No one who is puffed up is poor in spirit; therefore he that is lowly is poor in spirit. The kingdom of heaven is exalted; but “he who humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Mark what follows: “Blessed,” saith He, “are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Thou wishest to possess the earth now; take heed lest thou be possessed by it. If thou be meek, thou wilt possess it; if ungentle, thou wilt be possessed by it. And when thou hearest of the proposed reward, do not, in order that thou mayest possess the earth, unfold the lap of covetousness, whereby thou wouldest at present possess the earth, to the exclusion even of thy neighbour by whatever means; let no such imagination deceive thee. Then wilt thou truly possess the earth, when thou dost cleave to Him who made heaven and earth. For this is to be meek, not to resist thy God, that in that thou doest well He may be well-pleasing to thee, not thou to thyself; and in that thou sufferest ill justly, He may not be unpleasing to thee, but thou to thyself. For no small matter is it that thou shalt be well-pleasing to Him, when thou art displeased with thyself; whereas if thou art well-pleased with thine own self, thou wilt be displeasing to Him.

Attend to the third lesson, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The work consisteth in mourning, the reward in consolation; for they who mourn in a carnal sort, what consolations have they? Miserable consolations, objects rather of fear. There the mourner is comforted by things which make him fear lest he have to mourn again. For instance, the death of a son causes the father sorrow, and the birth of a son joy. The one he has carried out to his burial, the other he has brought into the world; in the former is occasion of sadness, in the latter of fear: and so in neither is there consolation. That therefore will be the true consolation, wherein shall be given that which may not be lost, so that they may rejoice for their after consolation, who mourn that they are in exile now.

Let us come to the fourth work and its reward, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Dost thou desire to be filled? Whereby? If the flesh long for fulness, after digestion thou wilt suffer hunger again. So He saith, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” If the remedy which is applied to a wound heal it, there is no more pain; but that which is applied against hunger, food that is, is so applied as to give relief only for a little while. For when the fulness is past, hunger returns. This remedy of fulness is applied day by day, yet the wound of weakness is not healed. Let us therefore “hunger and thirst after righteousness, that we may be filled” with that righteousness after which we now hunger and thirst. For filled we shall be with that for which we hunger and thirst. Let our inner man then hunger and thirst, for it hath its own proper meat and drink. “I,” saith He, “am the Bread which came down from heaven.” Here is the bread of the hungry; long also for the drink of the thirsty, “For with Thee is the well of life.”)

Mark what comes next: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Do this, and so shall it be done to thee; deal so with others, that God may so deal with thee. For thou art at once in abundance and in want—in abundance of temporal things, in want of things eternal. The man whom thou hearest is a beggar, and thou art thyself God’s beggar. Petition is made to thee, and thou makest thy petition. As thou hast dealt with thy petitioner, so shall God deal with His. Thou art at once full and empty; fill the empty with thy fulness, that thy emptiness may be filled with the fulness of God.

Mark what comes next: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is the end of our love; an end whereby we are perfected, and not consumed. For there is an end of food, and an end of a garment; of food when it is consumed by the eating; of a garment when it is perfected in the weaving. Both the one and the other have an end; but the one is an end of consumption, the other of perfection. Whatsoever we now do, whatsoever we now do well, whatsoever we now strive for, or are in laudable sort eager for, or blamelessly desire, when we come to the vision of God, we shall require no more. For what need he seek for, with whom God is present? or what shall suffice him, whom God sufficeth not? We wish to see God, we seek, we kindle with desire to see Him. Who doth not? But mark what is said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Provide thyself then with that whereby thou mayest see Him. For (to speak after the flesh) how with weak eyes desirest thou the rising of the sun? Let the eye be sound, and that light will be a rejoicing, if it be not sound, it will be but a torment. For it is not permitted with a heart impure to see that which is seen only by the pure heart. Thou wilt be repelled, driven back from it, and wilt not see it. For “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” How often already hath he enumerated the blessed, and the causes of their blessedness, and their works and recompenses, their merits and rewards! But nowhere hath it been said, “They shall see God.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be filled.” “Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy.” In none of these hath it been said, “They shall see God.” When we come to the “pure in heart,” there is the vision of God promised. And not without good cause; for there, in the heart, are the eyes, by which God is seen. Speaking of these eyes, the Apostle Paul saith, “The eyes of your heart being enlightened.” At present then these eyes are enlightened, as is suitable to their infirmity, by faith; hereafter as shall be suited to their strength, they shall be enlightened by sight. “For as long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord; For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Now as long as we are in this state of faith, what is said of us? “We see now through a glass darkly; but then face to face.”

Let no thought be entertained here of a bodily face. For if enkindled by the desire of seeing God, thou hast made ready thy bodily face to see Him, thou wilt be looking also for such a face in God. But if now thy conceptions of God are at least so spiritual as not to imagine Him to be corporeal (of which subject I treated yesterday at considerable length, if yet it was not in vain), if I have succeeded in breaking down in your heart, as in God’s temple, that image of human form; if the words in which the Apostle expresses his detestation of those, “who, professing themselves to be wise became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man,” have entered deep into your minds, and taken possession of your inmost heart; if ye do now detest and abhor such impiety, if ye keep clean for the Creator His own temple, if ye would that He should come and make His abode with you, “Think of the Lord with a good heart, and in simplicity of heart seek for Him.” Mark well who it is to whom ye say, if so be ye do say it, and say it in sincerity, “My heart said to Thee, I will seek Thy face.” Let thine heart also say, and add, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” For so wilt thou seek it well, because thou seekest with thine heart. Scripture speaks of the “face of God, the arm of God, the hands of God, the feet of God, the seat of God,” and His footstool; but think not in all this of human members. If thou wouldest be a temple of truth, break down the idol of falsehood. The hand of God is His power. The face of God is the knowledge of God. The feet of God are His presence. The seat of God, if thou art so minded, is thine own self. But perhaps thou wilt venture to deny that Christ is God! “Not so,” you say. Dost thou grant this too, that “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God? “I grant it,” you say. Hear then, “The soul of the righteous is the seat of wisdom.” “Yes.” For where hath God His seat, but where He dwelleth? And where doth He dwell, but in His temple? “For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Take heed therefore how thou dost receive God. “God is a Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.” Let the ark of testimony enter now into thy heart, if thou art so minded, and let Dagon fall. Now therefore give ear at once, and learn to long for God; learn to make ready that whereby thou mayest see God. “Blessed,” saith He, “are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Why dost thou make ready the eyes of the body? If He should be seen by them, that which should be so seen would be contained in space. But He who is wholly everywhere is not contained in space. Cleanse that whereby He may be seen.

Hear and understand, if haply through His help I shall be able to explain it; and may He help us to the understanding of all the above-named works and rewards, how suitable rewards are apportioned to their corresponding duties. For where is there anything said of a reward which does not suit, and harmonize with its work? Because the lowly seem as it were aliens from a kingdom, He saith, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Because meek men are easily despoiled of their land, He saith, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.” Now the rest are plain at once; they are understood of themselves, and require no one to treat of them at length; they need only one to mention them. “Blessed are they that mourn.” Now what mourner does not desire consolation? “They,” saith He, “shall be comforted.” “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” What hungry and thirsty man does not seek to be filled? “And they,” saith He, “shall be filled.” “Blessed are the merciful.” What merciful man but wishes that a return should be rendered him by God of His own work, that it may be so done to him, as he doeth to the poor? “Blessed,” saith He, “are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” How in each case hath every duty its appropriate reward: and nothing is introduced in the reward which doth not suit the precept! For the precept is, that thou be “poor in spirit;” the reward, that thou shalt have the “kingdom of heaven.” The precept is, that thou be “meek;” the reward, that thou shalt “possess the earth.” The percept is, that thou “mourn;” the reward, that thou shalt be “comforted.” The precept is, that thou “hunger and thirst after righteousness;” the reward, that thou shalt “be filled.” The precept is, that thou be “merciful;” the reward, that thou shalt “obtain mercy.” And so the precept is, that thou cleanse the heart; the reward, that thou shalt see God.

But do not so conceive of these precepts and rewards, as to think when thou dost hear, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” that the poor in spirit, or the meek, or they that mourn, or they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, or the merciful, will not see Him. Think not of those that are pure in heart, that they only will see Him, whilst the others will be excluded from the sight of Him. For all these several characters are the self-same persons. They shall all see; but they shall not see in that they are poor in spirit, or meek, or in that they mourn, and hunger and thirst after righteousness, or are merciful, but in that they are pure in heart. Just as if bodily works were duly assigned to the several members of the body, and one were to say for example, Blessed are they who have feet, for they shall walk; blessed are they that have hands, for they shall work; blessed are they that have a voice, for they shall cry aloud; blessed are they who have a mouth and tongue, for they shall speak; blessed are they that have eyes, for they shall see. Even so our Lord arranging in their order the members as it were of the soul, hath taught what is proper to each. Humility qualifies for the possession of the kingdom of heaven; meekness qualifies for possessing the earth; mourning for consolation; hunger and thirst after righteousness for being filled; mercy for the obtaining mercy; a pure heart for seeing God.

If then we desire to see God, whereby shall our eye be purified? For who would not care for, and diligently seek the means of purifying that eye whereby he may see Him whom he longeth after with an entire affection? The Divine record has expressly mentioned this when it says, “purifying their hearts by faith.” The faith of God then purifies the heart, the pure heart sees God. But because this faith is sometimes so defined by men who deceive themselves, as though it were enough only to believe (for some promise themselves even the sight of God and the kingdom of heaven, who believe and live evilly); against these, the Apostle James, incensed and indignant as it were with a holy charity, saith in his Epistle, “Thou believest there is one God.” Thou applaudest thyself for thy faith, for thou markest how that many ungodly men think there are gods many, and thou rejoicest in thyself because thou dost believe that there is but one God; “Thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Shall they also see God? They shall see Him who are pure in heart. But who can say that unclean spirits are pure in heart? And yet they also “believe and tremble.”

1Our faith then must be different from the faith of devils. For our faith purifies the heart; but their faith makes them guilty. For they do wickedly, and therefore say they to the Lord, “What have we to do with Thee?” When thou hearest the devils say this, thinkest thou that they do not acknowledge Him? “We know,” they say, “who Thou art: Thou art the Son of God.” This Peter says, and is commended; the devil says it, and is condemned. Whence cometh this, but that though the words be the same, the heart is different? Let us then make a distinction in our faith, and not be content to believe. This is no such faith as purifieth the heart. “Purifying their hearts,” it is said, “by faith.” But by what, and what kind of faith, save that which the Apostle Paul defines when he says, “Faith which worketh by love.” That faith distinguishes us from the faith of devils, and from the infamous and abandoned conduct of men. “Faith,” he says. What faith? “That which worketh by love,” and which hopeth for what God doth promise. Nothing is more exact or perfect than this definition. There are then in faith these three things. He in whom that faith is which worketh by love, must necessarily hope for that which God doth promise. Hope therefore is the associate of faith. For hope is necessary as long as we see not what we believe, lest perhaps through not seeing, and by despairing to see, we fail. That we see not, doth make us sad; but that we hope we shall see, comforteth us. Hope then is here, and she is the associate of faith. And then charity also, by which we long, and strive to attain, and glow with desire, and hunger and thirst. This then is taken in also; and so there will be faith, hope, and charity. For how shall there not be charity there, since charity is nothing else but love? And this faith is itself defined as that “which worketh by love.” Take away faith, and all thou believest perisheth; take away charity, and all that thou dost perisheth. For it is the province of faith to believe, of charity to do. For if thou believest without love, thou dost not apply thyself to good works; or if thou dost, it is as a servant, not as a son, through fear of punishment, not through love of righteousness. Therefore I say, that faith purifieth the heart, which worketh by love.

1And what does this faith effect at present? What does it by so many testimonies of Scripture, by its manifold lessons, its various and plentiful exhortations, but make us “see now through a glass darkly, and hereafter face to face.” But return not now in thought again to this thy bodily face. Think only of the face of the heart. Force, compel, press thine heart to think of things divine. Whatsoever occurs to thy mind that is like to a body, throw it off from thee. If thou canst not yet say, “It is this,” yet at least say, “It is not this.” For when wilt thou be able to say, “This is God”? Not even then, when thou shall see Him; for what thou shalt then see is ineffable. Thus the Apostle says, that he “was caught up into the third heaven, and heard ineffable words.” If the words are ineffable, what is He whose words they are? Therefore as thou dost think of God, perchance there is presented to thee the idea of some human figure of marvellous and exceeding greatness, and thou hast set it before the eyesof thy mind as something very great, and grand, and of vast extension. Still somewhere thou hast set bounds to it. If thou hast, it is not God. But if thou hast not set bounds to it, where can the face be? Thou art fancying to thyself some huge body, and in order to distinguish the members in it, thou must needs set bounds to it. For in no other way but by setting bounds to this large body, canst thou distinguish the members. But what art thou about, O foolish and carnal imagination! Thou hast made a large bulky body, and so much the larger, as thou hast thought the more to honour God. Another adds one cubit to it, and makes it greater than before.

1But “I have read,” you will say. What hast thou read, who hast understood nothing? Yet tell me, what hast thou read? Let us not thrust back the babe in understanding with his play. Tell me, what hast thou read? “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.” I hear thee; I have read it also: but it may be that thou thinkest thyself to have the advantage, in that thou hast both read and believed. But I also believe what thou hast just said. Let us then believe it together. What do I say? Let us search it out together. Lo! hold fast what thou hast so read and believed; “Heaven is My throne (that is, “my seat,” for “throne,” in Greek, is “seat,” in Latin), and the earth is My footstool.” But hast thou not read these words as well, “Who has meted out the heaven with the palm of His hand?” I conclude that thou hast read them; thou dost acknowledge them, and confess that thou believest them; for in that book we read both the one and the other, and believe both. But now think a while, and teach me. I make thee my teacher, and myself the little one. Teach me, I pray thee, “Who is He that sitteth on the palm of His hand?”

1See, thou hast drawn the figure and lineaments of the members of God from a human body. And perhaps it has occurred to thee to think, that it is according to the body that we were made after the Image of God. I will admit this idea for a time to be considered, and canvassed, and examined, and by disputation to be thoroughly sifted. Now then, if it please thee, hear me; for I heard thee in what thou wast pleased to say. God sitteth in heaven, and meteth out the heaven with His palm. What! doth the same heaven become broad when it is God’s seat, and narrow, when He meteth it out? Or is God when sitting, limited to the measure of His palm? If this be so, God did not make us after His likeness, for the palm of our hand is much narrower than that part of the body whereon we sit. But if He be as broad in His palm as in His sitting, He hath made our members quite unlike His. There is no resemblance here. Let the Christian then blush to set up such an idol in his heart as this. Wherefore take heaven for all saints. For the earth also is spoken of all who are in the earth, “Let all the earth worship Thee.” If we may properly say with regard to those who dwell on the earth, “Let all the earth worship Thee,” we may with the same propriety say also as to those who dwell in heaven, “Let all the heaven bear Thee.” For even the Saints who dwell on earth, though in their body they tread the earth, in heart dwell in heaven. For it is not in vain that they are reminded to “lift up their hearts,” and when they are so reminded, they answer, “that they lift them up:” nor in vain is it said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” In so far therefore as they have their conversation there, they do bear God, and they are heaven; because they are the seat of God; and when they declare the words of God, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

1Return then with me to the face of the heart, and make it ready. That to which God speaketh is within. The ears, and eyes, and all the rest of the visible members, are either the dwelling place or the instrument of some thing within. It is the inner man where Christ doth dwell, now by faith, and hereafter He will dwell in it, by the presence of His Divinity, when we shall have known “what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height; when we shall have known also the love of Christ that surpasseth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fulness of God.” Now then if thou wouldest enter into the meaning of these words, summon all thy powers to comprehend the breadth, and length, and height, and depth. Wander not in the imagination of the thoughts through the spaces of the world, and the yet comprehensible extent of this so vast a body. Look for what I am speaking of in thine own self. The “breadth” is in good works; the “length” is in long-suffering and perseverance in well-doing; the “height” is in the expectation of rewards above, for which height’s sake thou art bidden “to lift up thy heart.” Do well, and persevere in well-doing, because of God’s reward. Esteem earthly things as nothing, lest, when this earth shall be smitten with any scourge of that wise One, thou say that thou hast worshipped God in vain, hast done good works in vain, hast persevered in good works in vain. For by doing good works thou hadst as it were the “breadth,” by persevering in them thou hadst as it were the “length;” but by seeking earthly things thou hast not had the “height.” Now observe the “depth;” it is the grace of God in the secret dispensation of His will. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?” and, “Thy judgments are as a great depth.”

1This conversation of well-doing, of perseverance in well-doing, of hoping for rewards above, of the secret dispensation of the grace of God, in wisdom not in foolishness, nor yet in finding fault, because one man is after this manner and another after that; for “there is no iniquity with God;” apply this, I say, if you think good, also to the Cross of thy Lord. For it was not without a meaning that He chose this kind of death, in whose power it was even either to die or not. Now if it was in His power to die or not, why was it not in His power also to die in this or the other manner! Not without a meaning then did He select the Cross, whereby to crucify thee to this world. For the “breadth” is the transverse beam in the cross where the hands are fastened, to signify good works. The “length” is in that part of the wood which reaches from this transverse beam to the ground. For there the body is crucified and in a manner stands, and this standing signifies perseverance. Now “the height” is in that part, which from the same transverse beam projects upward to the head, and hereby is signified the expectation of things above. And where is the “depth” but in that part which is fixed in the ground? For so is the dispensation of grace, hidden and in secret. It is not seen itself, but from thence is projected all that is seen. After this, when thou shalt have comprehended all these things, not in the mere understanding but in action also (“for a good understanding have all they that do hereafter),” then if thou canst, stretch out thyself to attain to the knowledge of the “love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” When thou hast attained to it, thou “wilt be filled with all the fulness of God.” Then will be fulfilled the “face to face.” Now thou wilt be filled with all the fulness of God, not as if God should be full of thee, but so that thou shalt be full of God. Seek there, if thou canst, for any bodily face. Away with such trifles from the eye of the mind. Let the child cast away his playthings, and learn to handle more serious matters. And in many things we are but children; and when we were more so than we are, we were borne with by our betters. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God.” For by this is the heart purified; for that in it is that faith “which worketh by love.” Hence, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

 
4 On that which is written in the Gospel, Matt. v. 16', “Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven:” and contrariwise, Chap. vi., “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them.”

1. It is wont to perplex many persons, Dearly beloved, that our Lord Jesus Christ in His Evangelical Sermon, after He had first said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven;” said afterwards, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of them.” For so the mind of him who is weak in understanding is disturbed, is desirous to obey both precepts, and distracted by diverse, and contradictory commandments. For a man can as little obey but one master, if he give contradictory orders, as he can serve two masters, which the Saviour Himself hath testified in the same Sermon to be impossible. What then must the mind that is in this hesitation do, when it thinks that it cannot, and yet is afraid not to obey? For if he set his good works in the light to be seen of men, that he may fulfil the command, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven;” he will think himself involved in guilt because he has done contrary to the other precept which says, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of them.” And again, if fearing and avoiding this, he conceal his good works, he will think that he is not obeying Him who commands, saying, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works.”

But he who is of a right understanding, fulfils both, and will obey in both the Universal Lord of all, who would not condemn the slothful servant, if he commanded those things which could by no means be done. For give ear to “Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God,” both doing and teaching both duties. See how his “light shineth before men, that they may see his good works. We commend ourselves,” saith he, “to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” And again, “For we provide things honest, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of men.” And again, “Please all men in all things, even as I please all men in all things.” See, on the other hand, how he takes heed, that he “do not his righteousness before men to be seen of them. Let every man,” saith he, “prove his own work, and then shall he have glorying in himself, and not in another.” And again, “For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience.” And that, than which nothing is plainer, “If,” saith he, “I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” But lest any of those who are perplexed about the precepts of our Lord Himself as contradictory, should much more raise a question against His Apostle and say, How sayest thou, “Please all men in all things, even as I also please all men in all things:” and yet also sayest, “If I yet pleased men; I should not be the servant of Christ”? May the Lord Himself be with us, who spake also in His servant and Apostle, and open to us His will, and give us the means of obeying it.

The very words of the Gospel carry with them their own explanation; nor do they shut the mouths of those who hunger, seeing they feed the hearts of them that knock. The intention of a man’s heart, its direction and its aim, is what is to be regarded. For if he who wishes his good works to be seen of men, sets before men his own glory and advantage, and seeks for this in the sight of men, he does not fulfil either of those precepts which the Lord has given as touching this matter; because He has at once looked to “doing his righteousness before men to be seen of them;” and his light has not so shined before men that they should see his good works, and glorify His Father which is in heaven. It was himself he wished to be glorified, not God; he sought his own advantage, and loved not the Lord’s will. Of such the Apostle says, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Accordingly, the sentence was not finished at the words, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works;” but there was immediately subjoined why this was to be done; “that they may glorify your Father which is in heaven;” that when a man who does good works is seen of men, he may have only the intention of the good work in his own conscience, but may have no intention of being known, save for the praise of God, for their advantage-sake to whom he is thus made known; for to them this advantage comes, that God who has given this power to man begins to be well-pleasing to them; and so they do not despair, but that the same power might be vouchsafed to themselves also if they would. And so He did not conclude the other precept, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men,” otherwise than in the words, “to be seen of them;” nor did He add in this case, “that they may glorify your Father which is in heaven,” but rather, “otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” For by this He shows us, that they who are such, as He will not have His faithful ones to be, seek a reward in this very thing, that they are seen of men—that it is in this they place their good—in this that they delight the vanity of their heart—in this is their emptiness, and inflation, their swelling, and wasting away. For why was it not sufficient to say, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men,” but that he added, “that ye may be seen of them,” except because there are some who do their “righteousness before men;” not that they may be seen of them, but that the works themselves may be seen; and the Father which is in heaven, who hath vouchsafed to endow with these gifts the ungodly whom He had justified, may be glorified?

They who are such, neither do they account their righteousness as their own, but His, by the faith of whom they live (whence also the Apostle says, “That I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith;” and in another place, “That we may be the righteousness of God in Him.” Whence also he finds fault with the Jews in these words, “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God”). Whosoever then wish their good works to be so seen of men, that He may be glorified from whom they have received those things which are seen in them, and that thereby those very persons who see them, may through the dutifulness of faith be provoked to imitate the good, their light shines truly before men, because there beams forth from them the light of charity; theirs is no mere empty fume of pride; and in the very act they take precautions, that they do not their righteousness before men to be seen of them, in that they do not reckon that righteousness as their own, nor do they therefore do it that they may be seen; but that He may be made known, who is praised in them that are justified, that so He may bring to pass in him that praises that which is praised in others, that is, that He may make him that praises to be himself the object of praise. Observe the Apostle too, how that when he had said, “Please all men in all things, as I also please all men in all things;” he did not stop there, as if he had placed in that, namely, the pleasing men, the end of his intention; for else he would have said falsely, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ;” but he subjoined immediately why it was that he pleased men; “Not seeking,” saith he, “mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” So he at once did not please men for his own profit, lest he should not be “the servant of Christ;” and he did please men for their salvation’s sake, that he might be a faithful Minister of Christ; because for him his own conscience in the sight of God was enough, and from him there shined forth in the sight of men something which they might imitate.

 
5 Words of the Gospel, Matt. v. 22', “Whosoever shall say to his brother, thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.”

1. The section of the Holy Gospel which we just now heard when it was read, must have sorely alarmed us, if we have faith; but those who have not faith, it alarmed not. And because it does not alarm them, they are minded to continue in their false security, as knowing not how to divide and distinguish the proper times of security and fear. Let him then who is leading now that life which has an end, fear, that in that life which is without end, he may have security. Therefore were we alarmed. For who would not fear Him who speaketh the truth, and saith, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Yet “the tongue can no man tame.” Man tames the wild beast, yet he tames not his tongue; he tames the lion, yet he bridles not his own speech; he tames all else, yet he tames not himself; he tames what he was afraid of, and what he ought to be afraid of, in order that he may tame himself, that he does not fear. But how is this? It is a true sentence, and came forth from an oracle of truth, “But the tongue can no man tame.”

What shall we do then, my brethren? I see that I am speaking indeed to a large assembly, yet, seeing that we are one in Christ, let us take counsel as it were in secret. No stranger heareth us, we are all one, because we are all united in one. What shall we do then? “Whosoever saith to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire: But the tongue can no man tame.” Shall all men go into hell fire? God forbid! “Lord, Thou art our refuge from generation to generation:” Thy wrath is just: Thou sendest no man into hell unjustly. “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?” and whither shall I flee from Thee, but to Thee? Let us then understand, Dearly beloved, that if no man can tame the tongue, we must have recourse to God, that He may tame it. For if thou shouldest wish to tame it, thou canst not, because thou art a man. “The tongue can no man tame.” Observe a like instance to this in the case of those beasts which we do tame. The horse does not tame himself; the camel does not tame himself; the elephant does not tame himself; the viper does not tame himself; the lion does not tame himself; and so also man does not tame himself. But that the horse, and ox, and camel, and elephant, and lion, and viper, may be tamed, man is sought for. Therefore let God be sought to, that man may be tamed.

Therefore, “O Lord, art Thou become our refuge.” To Thee do we betake ourselves, and with Thy help it will be well with us. For ill is it with us by ourselves. Because we have left Thee, Thou hast left us to ourselves. Be we then found in Thee, for in ourselves were we lost. “Lord, Thou art become our refuge.” Why then, brethren, should we doubt that the Lord will make us gentle, if we give up ourselves to be tamed by him? Thou hast tamed the lion which thou madest not; shall not He tame thee, who made thee? For from whence didst thou get the power to tame such savage beasts? Art thou their equal in bodily strength? By what power then hast thou been able to tame great beasts? The very beasts of burden, as they are called, are by their nature wild. For in their untamed state they are unserviceable. But because custom has never known them except as in the hands and under the bridle and power of men, dost thou imagine that they could have been born in this tame state? But now at all events mark the beasts which are unquestionably of savage kind. “The lion roareth, who doth not fear?” And yet wherein is it that thou dost find thyself to be stronger than he? Not in strength of body, but in the interior reason of the mind. Thou art stronger than the lion, in that wherein thou wast made after the image of God. What! Shall the image of God tame a wild beast; and shall not God tame His own image?

In Him is our hope; let us submit ourselves to Him, and entreat His mercy. In Him let us place our hope, and until we are tamed, and tamed thoroughly, that is, are perfected, let us bear our Tamer. For oftentimes does our Tamer bring forth His scourge too. For if thou dost bring forth the whip to tame thy beasts, shall not God do so to tame His beasts (which we are), who of His beasts will make us His sons? Thou tamest thine horse; and what wilt thou give thy horse, when he shall have begun to carry thee gently, to bear thy discipline, to obey thy rule, to be thy faithful, useful beast? How dost thou repay him, who wilt not so much as bury him when he is dead, but cast him forth to be torn by the birds of prey? Whereas when thou art tamed, God reserveth for thee an inheritance, which is God Himself, and though dead for a little time, He will raise thee to life again. He will restore to thee thy body, even to the full number of thy hairs; and will set thee with the Angels for ever, where thou wilt need no more His taming hand, but only to be possessed by His exceeding mercy. For God will then be “all in all;” neither will there be any unhappiness to exercise us, but happiness alone to feed us. Our God will be Himself our Shepherd; our God will be Himself our Cup; our God will be Himself our glory; our God will be Himself our wealth. What multiplicity of things soever thou seekest here, He alone will be Himself all these things to thee.

Unto this hope is man tamed, and shall his Tamer then be deemed intolerable? Unto this hope is man tamed, and shall he murmur against his beneficent Tamer, if He chance to use the scourge? Ye have heard the exhortation of the Apostle, “If ye are without chastening, ye are bastards, and not sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Furthermore,” he says, “we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?” For what could thy father do for thee, that he corrected and chastised thee, brought out the scourge and beat thee? Could he make thee live for ever? What he could not do for himself, how should he do for thee? For some paltry sum of money which he had gathered together by usury and travail, did he discipline thee by the scourge, that the fruit of his labour when left to thee might not be squandered by thy evil living. Yes, he beats his son, as fearing lest his labours should be lost; forasmuch as he left to thee what he could neither retain here, nor carry away. For he did not leave thee anything here which could be his own; he went off, that so thou mightest come on. But thy God, thy Redeemer, thy Tamer, thy Chastiser, thy Father, instructeth thee. To what end? That thou mayest receive an inheritance, when thou shalt not have to carry thy father to his grave, but shall have thy Father Himself for thine inheritance. Unto this hope art thou instructed, and dost thou murmur? and if any sad chance befall thee, dost thou (it may be) blaspheme? Whither wilt thou go from His Spirit? But now He letteth thee alone, and doth not scourge thee; or He abandoneth thee in thy blaspheming; shalt thou not experience His judgment? Is it not better that He should scourge thee and receive thee, than that He should spare thee and abandon thee?

Let us say then to the Lord our God, “Lord, Thou art become our refuge from generation to generation.” In the first and second generations Thou art become our refuge. Thou wast our refuge, that we might be born, who before were not. Thou wast our refuge, that we might be born anew, who were evil. Thou wast a refuge to feed those that forsake Thee. Thou art a refuge to raise up and direct Thy children. “Thou art become our refuge.” We will not go back from Thee, when Thou hast delivered us from all our evils, and filled us with Thine own good things. Thou givest good things now, Thou dealest softly with us, that we be not wearied in the way; Thou dost correct, and chastise, and smite, and direct us, that we may not wander from the way. Whether therefore Thou dealest softly with us, that we be not wearied in the way, or chastisest us, that we wander not from the way, “Thou art become our refuge, O Lord.”

 
6 Again, on Matt. vi'. on the Lord’s Prayer. To the Competentes.

1. The order established for your edification requires that ye learn first what to believe, and afterwards what to ask. For so saith the Apostle, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.” This testimony blessed Paul cited out of the Prophet; for by the Prophet were those times foretold, when all men should call upon God; “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.” And he added, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? Or how shall they hear without a preacher? Or how shall they preach except they be sent?” Therefore were preachers sent. They preached Christ. As they preached, the people heard, by hearing they believed, and by believing called upon Him. Because then it was most rightly and most truly said, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” therefore have ye first learned what to believe: and to-day have learnt to call on Him in whom ye have believed.

The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, hath taught us a Prayer; and though He be the Lord Himself, as ye have heard and repeated in the Creed, the Only Son of God, yet He would not be alone. He is the Only Son, and yet would not be alone; He hath vouchsafed to have brethren. For to whom doth He say, “Say, Our Father, which art in heaven?” Whom did He wish us to call our Father, save His own Father? Did He grudge us this? Parents sometimes when they have gotten one, or two, or three children, fear to give birth to any more, lest they reduce the rest to beggary. But because the inheritance which He promiseth us is such as many may possess, and no one be straitened; therefore hath He called into His brotherhood the peoples of the nations; and the Only Son hath numberless brethren; who say, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” So said they who have been before us; and so shall say those who will come after us. See how many brethren the Only Son hath in His grace, sharing His inheritance with those for whom He suffered death. We had a father and mother on earth, that we might be born to labours and to death: but we have found other parents, God our Father, and the Church our Mother, by whom we are born unto life eternal. Let us then consider, beloved, whose children we have begun to be; and let us live so as becomes those who have such a Father. See, how that our Creator hath condescended to be our Father!

We have heard whom we ought to call upon, and with what hope of an eternal inheritance we have begun to have a Father in heaven; let us now hear what we must ask of Him. Of such a Father what shall we ask? Do we not ask rain of Him, to-day, and yesterday, and the day before? This is no great thing to have asked of such a Father, and yet ye see with what sighings, and with what great desire we ask for rain, when death is feared, when that is feared which none can escape. For sooner or later every man must die, and we groan, and pray, and travail in pain, and cry to God, that we may die a little later. How much more ought we to cry to Him, that we may come to that place where we shall never die!

Therefore is it said, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” This we also ask of Him that his Name may be hallowed in us; for Holy is it always. And how is His Name hallowed in us, except while it makes us holy. For once we were not holy, and we are made holy by His Name; but He is always Holy, and His Name always Holy. It is for ourselves, not for God, that we pray. For we do not wish well to God, to whom no ill can ever happen. But we wish what is good for ourselves, that His Holy Name may be hallowed, that that which is always Holy, may be hallowed in us.

“Thy kingdom come.” Come it surely will, whether we ask or no. Indeed, God hath an eternal kingdom. For when did He not reign? When did He begin to reign? For His kingdom hath no beginning, neither shall it have any end. But that we may know that in this prayer also we pray for ourselves, and not for God (for we do not say, “Thy kingdom come,” as though we were asking that God may reign); we shall be ourselves His kingdom, if believing in Him we make progress in this faith. All the faithful, redeemed by the Blood of His Only Son, will be His kingdom. And this His kingdom will come, when the resurrection of the dead shall have taken place; for then He will come Himself. And when the dead are risen, He will divide them, as He Himself saith, “and He shall set some on the right hand, and some on the left.” To those who shall be on the right hand He will say, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom.” This is what we wish and pray for when we say, “Thy kingdom come;” that it may come to us. For if we shall be reprobates, that kingdom will come to others, but not to us. But if we shall be of that number, who belong to the members of His Only-begotten Son, His kingdom will come to us, and will not tarry. For are there as many ages yet remaining, as have already passed away? The Apostle John hath said, “My little children, it is the last hour.” But it is a long hour proportioned to this long day; and see how many years this last hour lasteth. But nevertheless, be ye as those who watch, and so sleep, and rise again, and reign. Let us watch now, let us sleep in death; at the end we shall rise again, and shall reign without end.

“Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” The third thing we pray for is, that His will may be done as in heaven so in earth. And in this too we wish well for ourselves. For the will of God must necessarily be done. It is the will of God that the good should reign, and the wicked be damned. Is it possible that this will should not be done? But what good do we wish for ourselves, when we say, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth”? Give ear. For this petition may be understood in many ways, and many things are to be in our thoughts in this petition, when we pray God, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” As Thy Angels offend Thee not, so may we also not offend Thee. Again, how is “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth,” understood? All the holy Patriarchs, all the Prophets, all the Apostles, all the spiritual are as it were God’s heaven; and we in comparison of them are earth. “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth;” as in them, so in us also. Again, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth;” the Church of God is heaven, His enemies are earth. So we wish well for our enemies, that they too may believe and become Christians, and so the will of God be done, as in heaven, so also in earth. Again, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Our spirit is heaven, and the flesh earth. As our spirit is renewed by believing, so may our flesh be renewed by rising again; and “the will of God be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Again, our mind whereby we see truth, and delight in this truth, is heaven; as, “I delight in the law of God, after the inward man.” What is the earth? “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind?” When this strife shall have passed away, and a full concord brought about of the flesh and spirit, the will of God will be done as in heaven, so also in earth. When we repeat this petition, let us think of all these things, and ask them all of the Father. Now all these things which we have mentioned, these three petitions, beloved, have respect to the life eternal. For if the Name of our God is sanctified in us, it will be for eternity. If His kingdom come, where we shall live for ever, it will be for eternity. If His will be done as in heaven, so in earth, in all the ways which I have explained, it will be for eternity.

There remain now the petitions for this life of our pilgrimage; therefore follows, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Give us eternal things, give us things temporal. Thou hast promised a kingdom, deny us not the means of subsistence. Thou wilt give everlasting glory with Thyself hereafter, give us in this earth temporal support. Therefore is it “day by day,” and “to-day,” that is, in this present time. For when this life shall have passed away, shall we ask for daily bread then? For then it will not be called, “day by day,” but “to-day.” Now it is called, “day by day,” when one day passes away, and another day succeeds. Will it be called “day by day,” when there will be one eternal day? This petition for daily bread is doubtless to be understood in two ways, both for the necessary supply of our bodily food, and for the necessities of our spiritual support. There is a necessary supply of bodily food, for the preservation of our daily life, without which we cannot live. This is food and clothing, but the whole is understood in a part. When we ask for bread, we thereby understand all things. There is a spiritual food also which the faithful know, which ye too will know, when ye shall receive it at the altar of God. This also is “daily Bread,” necessary only for this life. For shall we receive the Eucharist when we shall have come to Christ Himself, and begun to reign with Him for ever? So then the Eucharist is our daily bread; but let us in such wise receive it, that we be not refreshed in our bodies only, but in our souls. For the virtue which is apprehended there, is unity, that gathered together into His body, and made His members, we may be what we receive. Then will it be indeed our daily bread. Again, what I am handling before you now is “daily bread;” and the daily lessons which ye hear in church, are daily bread, and the hymns ye hear and repeat are daily bread. For all these are necessary in our state of pilgrimage. But when we shall have got to heaven, shall we hear the word, we who shall see the Word Himself, and hear the Word Himself, and eat and drink Him as the angels do now? Do the angels need books, and interpreters, and readers? Surely not. They read in seeing, for the Truth Itself they see, and are abundantly satisfied from that fountain, from which we obtain some few drops. Therefore has it been said touching our daily bread, that this petition is necessary for us in this life.

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Is this necessary except in this life? For in the other we shall have no debts. For what are debts, but sins? See, ye are on the point of being baptized, then all your sins will be blotted out, none whatever will remain. Whatever evil ye have ever done, in deed, or word, or desire, or thought, all will be blotted out. And yet if in the life which is after Baptism there were security from sin, we should not learn such a prayer as this, “Forgive us our debts.” Only let us by all means do what comes next, “As we forgive our debtors.” Do ye then who are about to enter in to receive a plenary and entire remission of your debts, do ye above all things see that ye have nothing in your hearts against any other, so as to come forth from Baptism secure, as it were free and discharged of all debts, and then begin to purpose to avenge yourselves on your enemies, who in time past have done you wrong. Forgive, as ye are forgiven. God can do no one wrong, and yet He forgiveth who oweth nothing. How then ought he to forgive, who is himself forgiven, when He forgiveth all, who oweth nothing that can be forgiven Him?

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Will this again be necessary in the life to come? “Lead us not into temptation,” will not be said, except where there can be temptation. We read in the book of holy Job, “Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation?” What then do we pray for? Hear what. The Apostle James saith, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.” He spoke of those evil temptations, whereby men are deceived, and brought under the yoke of the devil. This is the kind of temptation he spoke of. For there is another sort of temptation which is called a proving; of this kind of temptation it is written, “The Lord your God tempteth (proveth) you to know whether ye love Him.” What means “to know”? “To make you know,” for He knoweth already. With that kind of temptation, whereby we are deceived and seduced, God tempteth no man. But undoubtedly in His deep and hidden judgment He abandons some. And when He hath abandoned them, the tempter finds his opportunity. For he finds in him no resistance against his power, but forthwith presents himself to him as his possessor, if God abandon him. Therefore that He may not abandon us, do we say, “Lead us not into temptation.” “For every one is tempted,” says the same Apostle James, “when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” What then has he hereby taught us? To fight against our lusts. For ye are about to put away your sins in Holy Baptism; but lusts will still remain, wherewith ye must fight after that ye are regenerate. For a conflict with your own selves still remains. Let no enemy from without be feared: conquer thine own self, and the whole world is conquered. What can any tempter from without, whether the devil or the devil’s minister, do against thee? Whosoever sets the hope of gain before thee to seduce thee, let him only find no covetousness in thee; and what can he who would tempt thee by gain effect? Whereas if covetousness be found in thee, thou takest fire at the sight of gain, and art taken by the bait of this corrupt food. But if he find no covetousness in thee, the trap remains spread in vain. Or should the tempter set before thee some woman of surpassing beauty; if chastity be within, iniquity from without is overcome. Therefore that he may not take thee with the bait of a strange woman’s beauty, fight with thine own lust within; thou hast no sensible perception of thine enemy, but of thine own concupiscence thou hast. Thou dost not see the devil, but the object that engageth thee thou dost see. Get the mastery then over that of which thou art sensible within. Fight valiantly, for He who hath regenerated thee is thy Judge; He hath arranged the lists, He is making ready the crown. But because thou wilt without doubt be conquered, if thou have not Him to aid thee, if He abandon thee: therefore dost thou say in the prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.” The Judge’s wrath hath given over some to their own lusts; and the Apostle says, “God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts.”  How did He give them up? Not by forcing, but by forsaking them.

“Deliver us from evil,” may belong to the same sentence. Therefore, that thou mayest understand it to be all one sentence, it runs thus, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Therefore he added “but,” to show that all this belongs to one sentence, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” How is this? I will propose them singly. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” By delivering us from evil, He leadeth us not into temptation; by not leading us into temptation, He delivereth us from evil.

1And truly it is a great temptation, dearly beloved, it is a great temptation in this life, when that in us is the subject of temptation, whereby we attain pardon, if in any of our temptations we have fallen. It is a frightful temptation, when that is taken from us, whereby we may be healed from the wounds of other temptations. I know that ye have not yet understood me. Give me your attention, that ye may understand. Suppose avarice tempts a man, and he is conquered in any single temptation (for sometimes even a good wrestler and fighter may get roughly handled): avarice then has got the better of a man, good wrestler though he be, and he has done some avaricious act. Or there has been a passing lust; it has not brought the man to fornication, nor reached unto adultery, for when this does take place, the man must at all events be kept back from the criminal act. But he “hath seen a woman to lust after her;” he has let his thoughts dwell on her with more pleasure than was right; he has admitted the attack; excellent combatant though he be, he has been wounded, but he has not consented to it; he has beaten back the motion of his lust, has chastised it with the bitterness of grief, he has beaten it back; and has prevailed. Still in the very fact that he had slipped, has he ground for saying, “Forgive us our debts.” And so of all other temptations, it is a hard matter that in them all there should not be occasion for saying, “Forgive us our debts.” What then is that frightful temptation which I have mentioned, that grievous, that tremendous temptation, which must be avoided with all our strength, with all our resolution; what is it? When we go about to avenge ourselves. Anger is kindled, and the man burns to be avenged. O frightful temptation! Thou art losing that, whereby thou hadst to attain pardon for other faults. If thou hadst committed any sin as to other senses, and other lusts, hence mightest thou have had thy cure, in that thou mightest say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” But whoso instigateth thee to take vengeance, will lose for thee the power thou hadst to say, “As we also forgive our debtors.” When that power is lost, all sins will be retained; nothing at all is remitted.

1Our Lord and Master, and Saviour, knowing this dangerous temptation in this life, when He taught us six or seven petitions in this Prayer, took none of them for Himself to treat of, and to commend to us with greater earnestness, than this one. Have we not said, “Our Father, which art in heaven;” and the rest which follows? Why after the conclusion of the Prayer, did He not enlarge upon it to us, either as to what He had laid down in the beginning, or concluded with at the end, or placed in the middle? For why said He not, if the Name of God be not hallowed in you, or if ye have no part in the kingdom of God, or if the will of God be not done in you, as in heaven, or if God guard you not, that ye enter not into temptation; why none of all these? but what saith He? “Verily I say unto you, that if ye forgive men their trespasses;” in reference to that petition, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Having passed over all the other petitions which He taught us, this He taught us with an especial force. There was no need of insisting so much upon those sins in which if a man offend, he may know the means whereby he may be cured: need of it there was, with regard to that sin in which if thou sin, there is no means whereby the rest can be cured. For this thou oughtest to be ever saying, “Forgive us our debts.” What debts? There is no lack of them; for we are but men; I have talked somewhat more than I ought, have said something I ought not, have laughed more than I ought, have eaten more than I ought, have listened with pleasure to what I ought not, have drunk more than I ought, have seen with pleasure what I ought not, have thought with pleasure on what I ought not; “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” This if thou hast lost, thou art lost thyself.

1Take heed, my brethren, my sons, sons of God, take heed, I beseech you, in that I am saying to you. Fight to the uttermost of your powers with your own hearts. And if ye shall see your anger making a stand against you, pray to God against it, that God may make thee conqueror of thyself, that God may make thee conqueror, I say, not of thine enemy without, but of thine own soul within. For He will give thee His present help, and will do it. He would rather that we ask this of Him, than rain. For ye see, beloved, how many petitions the Lord Christ hath taught us; and there is scarce found among them one which speaks of daily bread, that all our thoughts may be moulded after the life to come? For what can we fear that He will not give us, who hath promised and said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you; for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things before ye ask Him. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” For many have been tried even with hunger, and have been found gold, and have not been forsaken by God. They would have perished with hunger, if the daily inward bread were to leave their heart. After this let us chiefly hunger. For, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” But He can in mercy look upon our infirmity, and see us, as it is said, “Remember that we are dust.” He who from the dust made and quickened man, for that His work of clay’s sake, gave His Only Son to death. Who can explain, who can worthily so much as conceive, how much He loveth us?

 
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8 Again on the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. vi'. To the Competentes.

1. You have just repeated the Creed, where in brief summary is contained the Faith. I have already before now told you what the Apostle Paul says, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” Because then you have both heard, and learnt, and repeated how you must believe in God; hear to-day how He must be called upon. The Son Himself, as you heard when the Gospel was read, taught His disciples and His faithful ones this Prayer. Good hope have we of obtaining our cause, when such an Advocate hath dictated our suit. The Assessor of the Father, as you have confessed, who sitteth on the right hand of the Father; He is our Advocate who is to be our Judge. For from thence will He come to judge the quick and dead. Learn then, this Prayer also which you will have to repeat in eight days time. But whosoever of you have not repeated the Creed well, have yet time enough, let them learn it; because on the Sabbath day in the hearing of all who shall be present, you will have to repeat it: on the last Sabbath day, when you will be here to be baptized. But in eight days from to-day will you have to repeat this Prayer, which you have heard to-day.

Of which the first clause is, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” We have found then a Father in heaven; let us take good heed how we live on earth. For he who hath found such a Father, ought so to live that he may be worthy to come to his inheritance. But we say all in common, “Our Father.” How great a condescension! This the emperor says, and this says the beggar: this says the slave, and this his lord. They say all together, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Therefore do they understand that they are brethren, seeing they have one Father. Now let not the lord disdain to have his slave for a brother, seeing the Lord Christ has vouch-safed to have him for a brother.

“Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come.” This hallowing of God’s Name is that whereby we are made holy. For His Name is always Holy. We wish also for His kingdom to come; come it will, though we wish it not; but to wish and pray that His kingdom may come, is nothing else than to wish of Him, that He would make us worthy of His kingdom, lest haply, which God forbid, it should come, and not come to us. For to many that will never come, which nevertheless must come. For to them will it come, to whom it shall be said, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But it will not come to them to whom it shall be said, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” Therefore when we say, “Thy kingdom come,” we pray that it may come to us. What is, “may come to us”? May find us good. This we pray for then, that He would make us good; for then to us will His kingdom come.

We go on, “Thy will be done as in heaven so in earth.” The Angels serve Thee in heaven, may we serve Thee in earth! The Angels do not offend Thee in heaven, may we not offend Thee in earth! As they do Thy will, so may we do it also! And here what do we pray for, but that we may be good? For when we do God’s will (for He without doubt doeth His own will), then is His will done in us. And we may understand in another and a right sense these words, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” We receive the commandment of God, and it is well-pleasing to us, well-pleasing to our mind. “For we delight in the law of God after the inward man.” Then is His will done in heaven. For our spirit is compared to heaven, but to the earth our flesh. What then is “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth”? That as Thy command is well-pleasing to our mind, so may our flesh consent thereto; and so that strife be ended which is described by the Apostle, “for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” When the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, His will is even now done in heaven; when the flesh lusteth not against the Spirit, His will is now done in earth. There will be harmony complete when He will; be then the contest now, that there may be victory hereafter. Thus again, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth,” may be well understood, by making “heaven” to be the Church, because it is the throne of God; and “earth” the unbelievers, to whom it is said, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou go.” When therefore we pray for our enemies, for the enemies of the Church, the enemies of the Christian name, we pray that His will may be done “as in heaven, so in earth,” that is, as in Thy faithful ones, so in Thy blasphemers also, that they all may become “heaven.”

There follows next, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It may be understood simply that we pour forth this prayer for daily sustenance, that we may have abundance: or if not that, that we may have no want. Now he said “daily,” for as long as it is called “to-day.” Daily we live, and daily rise, and are daily fed, and daily hunger. May He then give us daily bread. Why did He not say “covering” too, for the support of our life is in meat and drink, our covering in raiment and lodging. Man should desire nothing more than these. Forasmuch as the Apostle saith, “We brought nothing into this world, neither can we carry anything out: having food and covering, let us be therewith content.” Perish covetousness, and nature is rich. Therefore if this prayer have reference to our daily sustenance, since this is a good understanding of the words, “Give us this day our daily bread;” let us not marvel, if under the name of bread other necessary things are also understood. As when Joseph invited his brethren, “These men,” saith he, “will eat bread with me to-day.” Why, were they to eat bread only? No, but in the mention of bread only, all the rest was understood. So when we pray for daily bread, we ask for whatever is necessary for us in earth for our bodies’ sake. But what saith the Lord Jesus? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Again, this is a very good sense of, “Give us this day our daily bread,” thy Eucharist, our daily food. For the faithful know what they receive, and good for them it is to receive that daily bread which is necessary for this time present. They pray then for themselves, that they may become good, that they may persevere in goodness, and faith, and a holy life. This do they wish, this they pray for; for if they persevere not in this good life, they will be separated from that Bread. Therefore, “Give us this day our daily bread.” What is this? Let us live so,that we be not separated from Thy altar. Again, the Word of God which is laid open to us, and in a manner broken day by day, is “daily bread.” And as our bodies hunger after that other, so do our souls after this bread. And so we both ask for this bread simply, and whatsoever is in this life needful both for our souls and bodies, is included in “daily bread.”

“Forgive us our debts,” we say, and we may well say so; for we say the truth. For who is he that lives here in the flesh, and hath no debts? What man is there that lives so, that this prayer is not necessary for him? He may puff himself up, justify himself he cannot. It were well for him to imitate the Publican, and not swell as the Pharisee, “who went up into the temple,” and boasted of his deserts, and covered up his wounds. Whereas he who said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,” knew wherefore he went up. This prayer the Lord Jesus, consider, my brethren, this prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to offer, those great first Apostles of His, the leaders of our flock. If the leaders of the flock then pray for the remission of their sins, what ought the lambs to do, of whom it is said, “Bring young rams unto the Lord”? You knew then that you have repeated this in the Creed, because amongst the rest you have mentioned there “the remission of sins.” There is one remission of sins which is given once for all; another which is given day by day. There is one remission of sins which is given once for all in Holy Baptism; another which is given as long as we live here in the Lord’s Prayer. Wherefore we say, “Forgive us our debts.”

And God has brought us into a covenant, and agreement, and a firm bond with Him, in that we say, “as we also forgive our debtors.” He who would say it effectually, “Forgive us our debts,” must say truly, “as we also forgive our debtors.” If this which is last he either say not, or say deceitfully, the other which is first he says in vain. We say to you then especially who are approaching to Holy Baptism, from your hearts forgive everything. And ye faithful, who taking advantage of this occasion are listening to this prayer, and our exposition of it, do ye wholly and from your hearts forgive whatsoever ye have against any. Forgive it there where God seeth. For sometimes a man remitteth with the mouth, and in the heart retaineth; he remitteth with the mouth for men’s sake, and retaineth in the heart, as not fearing the eyes of God. But do ye remit entirely. Whatever ye have retained up to these holy days, in these holy days at least remit. “The sun ought not to go down upon your wrath,” yet many suns have passed. Let then your wrath at length pass away also, now that we are celebrating the days of the great Sun, of that Sun of which Scripture saith, “Unto you shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.” What is, “in His wings”? In His protection. Whence it is said in the Psalms, “Keep me under the shadow of Thy wings.” But as to others who in the day of judgment shall repent, but all too late, and who shall mourn, yet unavailingly, it hath been foretold by Wisdom what they shall then say as they repent and groan for anguish of spirit, “What hath pride profited us, or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? All these things are passed away like a shadow.” And, “Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the Sun of righteousness rose not upon us.” That Sun riseth upon the righteous only; but this sun which we see, God “maketh,” daily “to rise upon the good and evil.” The righteous attain to the seeing of that Sun; and that Sun dwelleth now in our hearts by faith. If then thou art angry, let not this sun go down in thine heart upon thy wrath; “Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath;” lest haply thou be angry, and so the Sun of righteousness go down upon thee, and thou abide in darkness.

Now do not think that anger is nothing. “Mine eye was disordered because of anger,” saith the Prophet. Surely he whose eye is disordered cannot see the sun; and if he should try to see it, it were pain, and no pleasure to him. And what is anger? The lust of vengeance. A man lusteth to be avenged, and Christ is not yet avenged, the holy martyrs are not yet avenged. Still doth the patience of God wait, that the enemies of Christ, the enemies of the martyrs, may be converted. And who are we, that we should seek for vengeance? If God should seek it at our hands, where should we abide? He who hath never in any matter done us harm, doth not wish to avenge Himself of us; and do we seek to be avenged, who are almost daily offending God? Forgive therefore; from the heart forgive. If thou art angry, yet sin not. “Be ye angry, and sin not.” Be ye angry as being but men, if so be ye are overcome by it; yet sin not, so as to retain anger in your heart (for if ye do retain it, ye retain it against yourselves), lest ye enter not into that Light. Therefore forgive. What then is anger? The lust of vengeance. And what is hatred? Inveterate anger. If anger become inveterate, it is then called hatred. And this he seems to acknowledge, who when he had said, “Mine eye is disordered because of anger;” added, “I have become inveterate among all mine enemies.” What was anger when it was new, became hatred when it was turned into long continuance. Anger is a “mote,” hatred, a “beam.” We sometimes find fault with one who is angry, yet we retain hatred in our own hearts; and so Christ saith to us, “Thou seest the mote in thy brother’s eye, and seest not the beam in thine own eye.” How grew the mote into a beam? Because it was not at once plucked out. Because thou didst suffer the sun to rise and go down so often upon thy wrath, and madest it inveterate, because thou contractedst evil suspicions, and wateredst the mote, and by watering hast nourished it, and by nourishing it, hast made it a beam. Tremble then at least when it is said, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” Thou hast not drawn the sword, nor inflicted any bodily wound, nor by any blow killed another; the thought only of hatred is in thy heart, and hereby art thou held to be a murderer, guilty art thou before the eyes of God. The other man is alive, and yet thou hast killed him. As far as thou art concerned, thou hast killed the man whom thou hatest. Reform then, and amend thyself. If scorpions or adders were in your houses, how would ye toil to purify them, that ye might be able to dwell in safety? Yet are ye angry, yea inveterate anger is in your hearts, and there grow so many hatreds, so many beams, so many scorpions, so many vipers, and will ye not then purify the house of God, your heart? Do then what is said, “As we also forgive our debtors;” and so say securely, “Forgive us our debts.” For without debts in this earth ye cannot live; but those great crimes which it is your blessing to have been forgiven in Baptism, and from which we ought to be ever free, are of one sort, and of another are those daily sins, without which a man cannot live in this world, by reason of which this daily prayer with its covenant and agreement is necessary; that as we say with all cheerfulness, “Forgive us our debts;” so we may say with all truth, “As we also forgive our debtors.” So much then have we said as touching past sins; what now for the future?

“Lead us not into temptation:” forgive what we have done already, and grant that we may not commit any more sins. For whosoever is overcome by temptation, committeth sin. Thus the Apostle James saith, “Let no man say when he is tempted, he is tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  Therefore that thou be not drawn away by thy lust; consent not to it. It hath no means of conceiving, but by thee. Thou hast consented, hast as it were in thine heart admitted her embrace. Lust has risen up, deny thyself to her, follow her not. It is a lust unlawful, impure, and shameful, it will alienate thee from God. Give it not then the embrace of thy consent, lest thou have to bewail the birth; for if thou consent, that is, when thou hast embraced her, she conceives, “and when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” Dost thou not yet fear? “Sin bringeth forth death;” at least, fear death. If thou fear not sin, yet fear that whereunto it leads. Sin is sweet; but death is bitter. This is the infelicity of men; that for which they sin, they leave here when they die, and the sin themselves they carry with them. Thou dost sin for money, it must be left here: or for a country seat; it must be left here: or for some woman’s sake; she must be left here; and whatsoever it be for which thou dost sin, when thou shalt have closed thine eyes in death, thou must leave it here; yet the sin itself which thou committest, thou carriest with thee.

May sins then be forgiven; the past forgiven, and the future cease. But without them here below thou canst not live; be they either lesser sins, or small, or trivial. Yet let not even these small and trivial sins be despised. With little drops is the river filled. Let not even the lesser sins be despised. Through narrow chinks in the ship the water oozes in, the hold keeps filling, and if it be disregarded the ship is sunk. But the sailors are not idle; their hands are active,—active that the water may be drained off from day to day. So be thy hands active, that thou mayest pump from day to day. What is the meaning of “be thy hands active”? Let them give, do good works, so be thy hands engaged. “Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor and houseless into thine house; if thou seest the naked, clothe him.” Do all thou canst, do it with the means thou canst command, do it cheerfully, and so put up thy prayer with confidence. It will have two wings, a double alms. What is “a double alms”? “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given unto you.” The one alms is that which is done from the heart, when thou forgivest thy brother his sin. The other alms is that which is done out of thy substance, when thou dealest bread to the poor. Offer both, lest without either wing thy prayer remain motionless.

1Therefore when we have said, “Lead us not into temptation,” there follows, “But deliver us from evil.” Now whoso wishes to be delivered from evil, bears witness that he is in evil. And thus saith the Apostle, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” But who is there “that wisheth for life, and loveth to see good days”? Seeing that all men in this flesh have only evil days; who doth not wish it? Do thou what follows, “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile: depart from evil, and do good, seek peace, and ensue it;” and then thou hast got rid of evil days, and thy prayer, “deliver us from evil,” is fulfilled.

1Therefore the three first petitions, “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth,” are for eternity. But the four following relate to this life, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Shall we ask day by day for daily bread, when we shall have come to that fulness of blessing? “Forgive us our debts.” Shall we say this in that kingdom, when we shall have no debts? “Lead us not into temptation.” Shall we be able to say this then, when there will be no temptation? “Deliver us from evil.” Shall we say this, when there shall be nothing from which to be delivered? Therefore these four are necessary, because of our daily life, but the three first in reference to the life eternal. But all things let us ask, with a view of attaining to that life, and let us pray here, that we be not separated from it. Every day must this prayer be said by you, when you are baptized. For the Lord’s Prayer is said daily in the Church before the Altar of God, and the faithful hear it. We have no fear therefore as to your not learning it carefully, because even if any of you should be unable to get it perfectly, he will learn it by hearing it day by day.

1Therefore on the Saturday when by the grace of God you will keep the Vigil, you will have to repeat not the Prayer, but the Creed. For if you do not know the Creed now, you will not hear that every day in the Church, and among the people. But when you have learnt it, that you may not forget it, say it every day when you rise; when you are preparing for sleep, rehearse your Creed, to the Lord rehearse it, remind yourselves of it, and be not weary of repeating it. For repetition is useful, lest forgetfulness steal over you. Do not say, “I said it yesterday, I have said it today, I say it every day, I know it perfectly well.” Call thy faith to mind, look into thyself, let thy Creed be as it were a mirror to thee. Therein see thyself, whether thou dost believe all which thou professest to believe, and so rejoice day by day in thy faith. Let it be thy wealth, let it be in a sort the daily clothing of thy soul. Dost thou not always dress thyself when thou risest? So by the daily repetition of thy Creed dress thy soul, lest haply forgetfulness make it bare, and thou remain naked, and that take place which the Apostle saith, (may it be far from thee!) “If so be that being unclothed, we shall not be found naked.” For we shall be clothed by our faith: and this faith is at once a garment and a breastplate; a garment against shame, a breastplate against adversity. But when we shall have arrived at that place where we shall reign, no need will there be to say the Creed. We shall see God; God Himself will be our vision; the vision of God will be the reward of our present faith.

 
9 Again, on the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. vi'. To the Competentes.

1. You have rehearsed what you believe, hear now what you are to pray for. Forasmuch as you would not be able to call on Him, in whom you should not first have believed; as saith the Apostle, “How shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed?” Therefore have you first learned the Creed, where is a brief and sublime rule of your faith; brief in the number of its words, sublime in the weight of its contents. But the prayer which you receive to-day to be learned by heart, and to be repeated eight days hence, was dictated (as you heard when the Gospel was being read) by the Lord Himself to His disciples, and came from them unto us, since “their sound went into all the earth.”

Ye then who have found a Father in heaven, be loth to cleave to the things of earth. For ye are about to say, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” You have begun to belong to a great family. Under this Father the lord and the slave are brethren; under this Father the general and the common soldier are brethren; under this Father the rich man and the poor are brethren. All Christian believers have divers fathers in earth, some noble, some obscure; but they all call upon one Father which is in heaven. If our Father be there, there is the inheritance prepared for us. But He is such a Father, that we can possess with Him what He giveth. For He giveth an inheritance; but He doth not leave it to us by dying. For He doth not depart Himself, but He abideth ever, that we may come to Him. Seeing then we have heard of Whom we are to ask, let us know also what to ask for, lest haply we offend such a Father by asking amiss.

What then hath the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to ask of the Father which is in heaven? “Hallowed be Thy Name.” What kind of blessing is this that we ask of God, that His Name may be hallowed? The Name of God is always Holy; why then do we pray that it may be hallowed, except that we may be hallowed by it? We pray then that that which is Holy always, may be hallowed in us. The Name of God is hallowed in you when ye are baptized. Why will ye offer this prayer after ye have been baptized, but that that which ye shall then receive may abide ever in you?

Another petition follows, “Thy kingdom come.” God’s kingdom will come, whether we ask it or not. Why then do we ask it, but that that which will come to all saints may also come to us; that God may count us also in the number of His saints, to whom His kingdom is to come?

We say in the third petition, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” What is this? That as the Angels serve Thee in heaven, so we may serve Thee in earth. For His holy Angels obey Him; they do not offend Him; they do His commands through the love of Him. This we pray for then, that we too may do the commands of God in love. Again, these words are understood in another way, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” Heaven in us is the soul, earth in us is the body. What then is, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth”? As we hear Thy precepts, so may our flesh consent unto us; lest, whilst flesh and spirit strive together, we be not able to fulfil the commands of God.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” comes next in the Prayer. Whether we ask here of the Father support necessary for the body, by “bread” signifying whatever is needful for us; or whether we understand that daily Bread, which ye are soon to receive from the Altar; well it is that we pray that He would give it us. For what is it we pray for, but that we may commit no evil, for which we should be separated from that holy Bread. And the word of God which is preached daily is daily bread. For because it is not bread for the body, it is not on that account not bread for the soul. But when this life shall have passed away, we shall neither seek that bread which hunger seeks; nor shall we have to receive the Sacrament of the Altar, because we shall be there with Christ, whose Body we do now receive; nor will those words which we are now speaking, need to be said to you, nor the sacred volume to be read, when we shall see Him who is Himself the Word of God, by whom all things were made, by whom the Angels are fed, by whom the Angels are enlightened, by whom the Angels become wise; not requiring words of circuitous discourse; but drinking in the Only Word, filled with whom they burst forth and never fail in praise. For, “Blessed,” saith the Psalm, “are they who dwell in Thy house; they will be always praising Thee.”

Therefore in this present life, do we ask what comes next, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” In Baptism, all debts, that is, all sins, are entirely forgiven us. But because no one can live without sin here below, and if without any great crime which entails separation from the Altar, yet altogether without sins can no one live on this earth, and we can only receive the one Baptism once for all; in this Prayer we hear how we may day by day be washed, that our sins may day by day be forgiven us; but only if we do what follows, “As we also forgive our debtors.” Accordingly, my Brethren, I advise you, who are in the grace of God my sons, yet my Brethren under that heavenly Father; I advise you, whenever any one offends and sins against you, and comes, and confesses, and asks your pardon, that ye do pardon him, and forthwith from the heart forgive him; lest ye keep off from your own selves that pardon, which comes from God. For if ye forgive not, neither will He forgive you. Therefore it is in this life that we make this petition, for that it is in this life that sins can be forgiven, where they can be done. But in the life to come they are not forgiven, because they are not done.

Next after this we pray, saying, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This also, that we be not led into temptation, it is necessary for us to ask in this life, because in this life there are temptations; and that “we may be delivered from evil,” because there is evil here. And thus of all these seven petitions, three have respect to the life eternal, and four to the present life. “Hallowed be Thy name.” This will be for ever. “Thy kingdom come.” This kingdom will be for ever. “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” This will be for ever. “Give us this day our daily bread.” This will not be for ever. “Forgive us our debts.” This will not be for ever. “Lead us not into temptation.” This will not be for ever. “But deliver us from evil.” This will not be for ever: but where there is temptation, and where there is evil, there is it necessary that we make this petition.

 
10  Words of the Gospel, Matt. vi. 19', “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” etc. An exhortation to alms-deeds.

1. Every man who is in any trouble, and his own resources fail him, looks out for some prudent person from whom he may take counsel, and so know what to do. Let us suppose then the whole world to be as it were one single man. He seeks to escape evil, yet is slow in doing good; and as in this way tribulations thicken, and his own resources fail, whom can he find more prudent to receive counsel from than Christ? By all means, at least, let him find a better, and do what he will. But if he cannot find a better, let him come to Him whom he may find everywhere: let him consult, and take advice from Him, keep the good commandment, escape the great evil. For present temporal ills of which men are so sore afraid, under which they murmur exceedingly, and by their murmuring offend Him who is correcting them, so that they find not His saving Help; present ills I say without a doubt are but passing; either they pass through us, or we pass through them; either they pass away whilst we live, or they are left behind us when we die. Now that is not in the matter of tribulation great, which in duration is short. Whosoever thou art that art thinking of to-morrow, thou dost not recall the remembrance of yesterday. When the day after to-morrow comes, this to-morrow also will be yesterday. But now if men are so disquieted with anxiety to escape temporal tribulations which pass, or rather fly over, what thought ought they to take that they may escape those which abide and endure without end?

A hard condition is the life of man. What else is it to be born, but to enter on a life of toil? Of our toil that is to be, the infant’s very cry is witness. From this cup of sorrow no one may be excused. The cup that Adam hath pledged, must be drunk. We were made, it is true, by the hands of Truth, but because of sin we were cast forth upon days of vanity. “We were made after the image of God,” but we disfigured it by sinful transgression. Therefore does the Psalm remind us how we were made, and to what a state we have come. For it says, “Though a man walk in the image of God.” See, what he was made. Whither hath he come? Hearken to what follows, “Yet will he be disquieted in vain.” He walks in the image of truth, and will be disquieted in the counsel of vanity. Finally, see his disquiet, see it, and as it were in a glass, be displeased with thyself. “Though,” he says, “man walk in the image of God,” and therefore be something great, “yet will he be disquieted in vain;” and as though we might ask, How I pray thee, how is man disquieted in vain? “He heapeth up treasure,” saith he, “and knoweth not for whom he doth gather it.” See then, this man, that is the whole human race represented as one man, who is without resource in his own case, and hath lost counsel and wandered out of the way of a sound mind; “Heapeth up treasure, and knoweth not for whom he doth gather it.” What is more mad, what more unhappy? But surely he is doing it for himself? Not so. Why not for himself? Because he must die, because the life of man is short, because the treasure lasts, but he who gathereth it, quickly passeth away. As pitying therefore the man who “walketh in the image of God,” who confesseth things that are true, yet followeth after vain things, he saith, “He will be disquieted in vain.” I grieve for him; “he heapeth up treasure, and knoweth not for whom he doth gather it.” Doth he gather it for himself? No. Because the man dies whilst the treasure endures. For whom then? If thou hast any good counsel, give it to me. But counsel hast thou none to give me, and so thou hast none for thyself. Wherefore if we are both without it, let us both seek it, let us both receive it, and both consider the matter together. He is disquieted, he heapeth up treasure, he thinks, and toils, and is kept awake by anxiety. All day long art thou harassed by labour, all night agitated by fear. That thy coffer may be filled with money, thy soul is in a fever of anxiety.

I see it, I am grieved for thee; thou art disquieted, and as He who cannot deceive, assures us, “Thou art disquieted in vain.” For thou art heaping up treasures: supposing that all thy undertakings succeed, to say nothing of losses, of so great perils and deaths in the prosecution of every several kind of gain (I speak not of deaths of the body, but of evil thoughts, for that gold may come in, uprightness goeth out; that thou mayest be clothed outwardly, thou art made naked within), but to pass over these, and other such things in silence, to pass by all the things that are against thee, let us think only of the favourable circumstances. See, thou art laying up treasures, gains flow into thee from every quarter, and thy money runs like fountains; everywhere where want presseth, there doth abundance flow. Hast thou not heard, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them?”  Lo, thou art getting, thou art disquieted, not fruitlessly indeed, still in vain. “How,” thou wilt ask “am I disquieted in vain? I am filling my coffers, my walls will scarce hold what I get, how then am I disquieted in vain?” “Thou art heaping up treasure, and dost not know for whom thou gatherest it.” Or if thou dost know, I pray thee tell me. I will listen to thee. For whom is it? If thou art not disquieted in vain, tell me for whom thou art heaping up thy treasure? “For myself,” thou sayest. Dost thou dare say so, who must so soon die? “For my children.” Dost thou dare say this of them who must so soon die? It is a great duty of natural affection (it will be said) for a father to lay up for his sons; rather it is a great vanity, one who must soon die is laying up for those who must soon die also. If it is for thyself, why dost thou gather, seeing thou leavest all when thou diest. This is the case also with thy children; they will succeed thee, but not to abide long. I say nothing about what sort of children they may be, whether haply debauchery may not waste what covetousness hath amassed. So another by dissoluteness  squanders what thou by much toil hast gathered together. But I pass over this. It may be they will be good children, they will not be dissolute, they will keep what thou hast left, will increase what thou hast kept, and will not dissipate what thou hast heaped together. Then will thy children be equally vain with thyself, if they do so, if in this they imitate thee their father. I would say to them what I said just now to thee. I would say to thy son, to him for whom thou art saving I would say, “Thou art heaping up treasure, and knowest not for whom thou dost gather it.” For as thou knewest not, so neither doth he know. If the vanity hath continued in him, hath the truth lost its power with respect to him?

I forbear to urge, that it may be even during thy life thou art but laying up for thieves. In one night may they come and find all ready the gathering of so many days and nights. It may be thou art laying up for a robber, or a highwayman. I will say no more on this, lest I call to mind and re-open the wound of past sufferings. How many things which an empty vanity hath heaped together, hath the cruelty of an enemy found ready to its hand. It is not my place to wish for this: but it is the concern of all to fear it. May God avert it! May His own scourges be sufficient. May He to whom we pray, spare us! But if He ask thee for whom are we laying by, what shall we answer? How then, O man, whosoever thou art, that are heaping up treasure in vain, how wilt thou answer me, as I handle this matter with thee, and with thee seek counsel in a common cause? For thou didst speak and make answer, “I am laying up for myself, for my children, for my posterity.” I have said already how many grounds of fear there are, even as to those children themselves. But I pass over the consideration, that thy children may so live as to be a curse to thee, and as thine enemy would wish them; grant that they live as the father himself would have them. Yet how many have fallen into those mischances, I have declared, and reminded you of already. Thou didst shudder at them, though thou didst not amend thyself. For what hast thou to answer but this, “Perhaps it may not be so”? Well, I said so too; perhaps I say thou art but laying up for the thief, or robber, or highwayman. I did not say certainly, but perhaps. Where there is a perhaps, there is a perhaps-not; so then thou knowest not what will be, and therefore thou “art disquieted in vain.” Thou seest now how truly spake the Truth, how vainly vanity is disquieted. Thou hast heard and at length learnt wisdom, because when thou sayest, “Perhaps it is for my children,” but dost not dare to say, “I am sure that it is for my children,” thou dost not in fact know for whom thou art gathering riches. So then, as I see, and have said already, thou art thyself without resource; thou findest nothing wherewith to answer me, nor can I to answer thee.

Let us both therefore seek and ask for counsel. We have opportunity of consulting not any wise man, but Wisdom Herself. Let us then both give ear to Jesus Christ, “to the Jews a stumbling stone, and to the Gentiles foolishness, but to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.” Why art thou preparing a strong defence for thy riches? Hear the Power of God, nothing is more strong than He. Why art thou preparing wise counsel to protect thy riches? Hear the Wisdom of God, nothing is more Wise than He. Peradventure when I say what I have to say, thou wilt be offended, and so thou wilt be a Jew, “because to the Jews is Christ an offence.” Or peradventure, when I have spoken, it will appear foolish to thee, and so wilt thou be a Gentile, “for to the Gentiles is Christ foolishness.” Yet thou art a Christian, thou hast been called. “But to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.” Be not sad then when I have said what I have to say; be not offended; mock not my folly, as you deem it, with an air of disdain. Let us give ear. For what I am about to say, Christ hath said. If thou despise the herald, yet fear the Judge. What shall I say then? The reader of the Gospel has but just now relieved me from this embarrassment. I will not read anything fresh, but will recall only to your recollection what has just been read. Thou wast seeking counsel, as failing in thine own resources; see then what the Fountain of right counsel saith, the Fountain from whose streams is no fear of poison, fill from It what thou mayest.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth destroy, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” What more dost thou wait for? The thing is plain. The counsel is open, but evil desire lies hid; nay, not so, but what is worse, it too lies open. For plunder does not cease its ravages; avarice does not cease to defraud; maliciousness does not cease to swear falsely. And all for what? that treasure may be heaped together. To be laid up where? In the earth, and rightly indeed, by earth for earth. For to the man who sinned and who pledged us, as I have said, our cup of toil, was it said, “Earth thou art, and to earth shalt thou return.” With good reason is the treasure in earth, because the heart is there. Where then is that, “we lift them up unto the Lord?” Sorrow for your case, ye who have understood me; and if ye sorrow truly, amend yourselves. How long will ye be applauding and not doing? What ye have heard is true, nothing truer. Let that then which is true be done. One God we praise, yet we change not, that we may not in this very praise be disquieted in vain.

Therefore, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth;” whether ye have found by experience how what is laid up in the earth is lost, or whether ye have not so experienced it, yet do ye too fear lest ye should do so. Let experience reform him whom words will not reform. One cannot rise up now, one cannot go out, but all together with one voice are crying, “Woe to us, the world is falling.” If it be falling, why dost thou not remove? If an architect were to tell thee, that thy house would soon fall, wouldest thou not remove before thou didst indulge in thy vain lamentations? The Builder of the world telleth thee the world will soon fall, and wilt thou not believe it? Hear the voice of Him who foretelleth it, hear the counsel of Him who giveth thee warning. The voice of prediction is, “Heaven and earth shall pass away.” The voice of warning is, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth.” If then thou dost believe God in His prediction; if thou despise not His warning, let what He says be done. He who has given thee such counsel doth not deceive thee. Thou shalt not lose what thou hast given away, but shalt follow what thou hast only sent before thee. Therefore my counsel is, “Give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” Thou shalt not remain without treasure; but what thou hast on earth with anxiety, thou shalt possess in heaven free from care. Transport thy goods then. I am giving thee counsel for keeping, not for losing. “Thou shalt have,” saith He, “treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me,” that I may bring thee to thy treasure. This is not a wasting, but a saving. Why do men keep silence? Let them hear, and having at last by experience found what to fear, let them do that which will give them no cause of fear, let them transport their goods to heaven. Thou puttest wheat in the low ground; and thy friend comes, who knows the nature of the corn and the land, and instructs thy unskilfulness, and says to thee, “What hast thou done?” Thou hast put the corn in the flat soil, in the lower land; the soil is moist; it will all rot, and thou wilt lose thy labour. Thou answerest, What then must I do? Remove it, he says, into the higher ground. Dost thou then give ear to a friend who gives thee counsel about thy corn, and despisest thou God who gives thee counsel about thine heart? Thou fearest to put thy corn in the low earth, and wilt thou lose thy heart in the earth? Behold the Lord thy God when He giveth thee counsel touching thine heart, saith, “Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.” Lift up, saith He, thine heart to heaven, that it rot not in the earth. It is His counsel, who wisheth to preserve thy heart, not to destroy it.

If then this be so, what must be their repentance who have not done thereafter? How must they now reproach themselves! We might have had in heaven what we have now lost in earth. The enemy has broken up our house; but could he break heaven open? He has killed the servant who was set to guard; but could he kill the Lord who would have kept them, “where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” How many now are saying, “There we might have had, and hid our treasures safe, where after a little while we might have followed them securely. Why have we not hearkened to our Lord? Why have we despised the admonitions of the Father, and so have experienced the invasion of the enemy?” If then this be good counsel, let us not be slow in taking heed to it; and if what we have must be transported, let us transfer it into that place, from whence we cannot lose it. What are the poor to whom we give, but our carriers, by whom we convey our goods from earth to heaven? Give then: thou art but giving to thy carrier, he carrieth what thou givest to heaven. How, sayest thou, does he carry it to heaven? For I see that he makes an end of it by eating. No doubt, he carries it, not by keeping it, but by making it his food. What? Hast thou forgotten, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom; for I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat:” and,” Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it to Me.” If thou hast not despised the beggar that standeth before thee, consider to Whom what thou gavest him hath come. “Inasmuch,” saith he, “as ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it to Me.” He hath received it, who gave thee wherewith to give. He hath received it, who in the end will give His Own Self to thee.

For this have I at divers times called to your remembrance, Beloved, and I confess to you it astonishes me much in the Scriptures of God, and I ought repeatedly to call your attention to it. I pray you to think of what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself saith, that at the end of the world, when He shall come to judgment, He will gather together all nations before Him, and will divide men into two parts; that He will place some at His right hand, and others on His left; and will say to those on the right hand, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But to those on the left, “Depart ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Search out the reasons either for so great a reward, or so great a punishment. “Receive the kingdom,” and “Go into everlasting fire.” Why shall the first receive the kingdom? “For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat.” Why shall the other depart into everlasting fire? “For I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat.” What meaneth this, I ask? I see touching those who are to receive the kingdom, that they gave as good and faithful Christians, not despising the words of the Lord, and with sure trust hoping for the promises they did accordingly; because had they not done so, this very barrenness would not surely have accorded with their good life. For it may be they were chaste, no cheats, nor drunkards, and kept themselves from evil works. Yet if they had not added good works, they would have remained barren. For they would have kept, “Depart from evil,” but they would not have kept, “and do good.” Notwithstanding, even to them He doth not say, “Come, receive the kingdom,” for ye have lived in chastity; ye have defrauded no man, ye have not oppressed any poor man, ye have invaded no one’s landmark, ye have deceived no one by oath. He said not this, but, “Receive the kingdom, because I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat.” How excellent is this above all, when the Lord made no mention of the rest, but named this only! And again to the others, “Depart ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. How many things could He urge against the ungodly, were they to ask, “Why are we going into everlasting fire!” Why? Do ye ask, ye adulterers, menslayers, cheats, sacrilegious blasphemers, unbelievers. Yet none of these did He name, but, “Because I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat.”

I see that you are surprised as I am. And indeed it is a marvellous thing. But I gather as best I can the reason of this thing so strange, and I will not conceal it from you. It is written, “As water quencheth fire, so alms quencheth sin.” Again it is written, “Shut up alms in the heart of a poor man, and it shall make supplication for thee before the Lord.” Again it is written, “Hear, O king, my counsel, and redeem thy sins by alms.” And many other testimonies of the Divine oracles are there, whereby it is shown that alms avail much to the quenching and effacing of sins. Wherefore to those whom He is about to condemn, yea, rather to those whom He is about to crown, He will impute alms only, as though He would say, “It were a hard matter for me not to find occasion to condemn you, were I to examine and weigh you accurately and with much exactness to scrutinize your deeds; but, “Go into the kingdom, for I was hungry, and ye gave Me meat.” Ye shall therefore go into the kingdom, not because ye have not sinned, but because ye have redeemed your sins by alms. And again to the others, “Go ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” They too, guilty as they are, old in their sins, late in their fear for them, in what respect, when they turn their sins over in their mind, could they dare to say that they are undeservedly condemned, that this sentence is pronounced against them undeservedly by so righteous a Judge? In considering their consciences, and all the wounds of their souls, in what respect could they dare to say, We are unjustly condemned. Of whom it was said before in Wisdom, “Their own iniquities shall convince them to their face.” Without doubt they will see that they are justly condemned for their sins and wickednesses; yet it will be as though He said to them, “It is not in consequence of this that ye think, but ‘because I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat.’” For if turning away from all these your deeds, and turning to Me, ye had redeemed all those crimes and sins by alms, those alms would now deliver you, and absolve you from the guilt of so great offences; for, “Blessed are the merciful, for to them shall be shown mercy.” But now go away into everlasting fire. “He shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy.”

1O that I may have induced you, my brethren, to give away your earthly bread, and to knock for the heavenly! The Lord is that Bread. He saith, “I am the Bread of life.” But how shall He give to thee, who givest not to him that is in need? One is in need before thee, and thou art in need before Another, and since thou art in need before Another, and another is in need before thee, that other is in need before him who is in need himself. For He before whom thou art in need, needeth nothing. Do then to others as thou wouldest have done to thee. For it is not in this case as with those friends who are wont to upbraid in a way one another with their kindnesses; as, “I did this for thee,” and the other answers, “and I this for thee,” that He wishes us to do Him some good office, because He has first done such an office for us. He is in want of nothing, and therefore is He the very Lord. I said unto the Lord, “Thou art my God, for Thou needest not my goods.”Notwithstanding though He be the Lord, and the Very Lord, and needeth not our goods, yet that we might do something even for Him, hath He vouchsafed to be hungry in His poor. “I was hungry,” saith He, “and ye gave Me meat. Lord, when saw we Thee hungry? Forasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it to Me.” To be brief then, let men hear, and consider as they ought, how great a merit it is to have fed Christ when He hungereth, and how great a crime it is to have despised Christ when He hungereth.

1Repentance for sins changes men, it is true, for the better; but it does not appear as if even it would profit ought, if it should be barren of works of mercy. This the Truth testifieth by the mouth of John, who said to them that came to him, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance; And say not we have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. For now is the axe laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.” Touching this fruit he said above, “Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.” Whoso then bringeth not forth these fruits, hath no cause to think that he shall attain pardon for his sins by a barren repentance. Now what these fruits are, he showeth afterwards himself. For after these his words the multitude asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” That is, what are these fruits, which thou exhortest us with such alarming force to bring forth? “But he answering said unto them, he that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” My brethren, what is more plain, what more certain, or express than this? What other meaning then can that have which he said above, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire;” but that same which they on the left shall hear, “Go ye into everlasting fire, for I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat.” So then it is but a small matter to depart from sins, if thou shalt neglect to cure what is past, as it is written, “Son, thou hast sinned, do so no more.” And that he might not think to be secure by this only, he saith, “And for thy former sins pray that they may be forgiven thee.” But what will it profit thee to pray for forgiveness, if thou shalt not make thyself meet to be heard, by not bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, that thou shouldest be cut down as a barren tree, and be cast into the fire? If then ye will be heard when ye pray for pardon of your sins, “Forgive, and it shall be forgiven you; Give, and it shall be given you.”

 
11 Words of the Gospel, Matt. vii. 7', “Ask, and it shall be given you;” etc. An exhortation to alms-deeds.

1. In the lesson of the Holy Gospel the Lord hath exhorted us to prayer. “Ask,” saith He, “and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  Or if he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then,” saith He, “though ye be evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? Though ye be evil,” He saith, “ye know how to give good gifts unto your children.” A marvellous thing, Brethren! we are evil: yet have we a good Father. What is more evident? We have heard our proper name: “Though ye be evil, ye know how to give good gifts unto your children.” And now see what kind of Father He showeth them, whom he called evil. “How much more shall your Father?” Father of whom? undoubtedly of the evil. And what kind of Father? “None is good but God only.”

For this cause have we who are evil a good Father, that we may not always continue evil. No evil man can make another man good. If no evil man can make another good, how can an evil man make himself good? He only can make of an evil man a good man, who is good eternally. “Heal me, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved.” Why then do those vain onessay to me in words vain as themselves, “Thou canst save thyself if thou wilt”? “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed.” We were created good by The Good; for “God made man upright,” but by our own free will, we became evil. We had power from being good to become evil, and we shall have power from being evil to become good. But it is He who is ever Good, who maketh the good out of the evil; for man by his own will had no power to heal himself. Thou dost not look out for a physician to wound thyself; but when thou hast wounded thyself, thou lookest out for one to cure thee. Good things then after the time present, temporal good things, such as are concerned with the body and flesh, we do know how to give to our children, even though we are evil. For even these are good things, who would doubt it? A fish, an egg, bread, fruit, wheat, the light we see, the air we breathe, all these are good; the very riches by which men are lifted up, and which make them loth to acknowledge other men to be their equals; by which, I say, men are lifted up rather in love of their dazzling clothing, than with any thought of their common nature, even these riches, I repeat, are good; but all these goods which I have now mentioned may be possessed by good and bad alike; and though they be good themselves, yet cannot they make their owners good.

A good then there is which maketh good, and a good there is whereby thou mayest do good. The Good which maketh good is God. For none can make man good, save He who is Good eternally. Therefore that thou mayest be good, call upon God. But there is another good whereby thou mayest do good, and that is, whatever thou mayest possess. There is gold, there is silver; they are good, not such as can make thee good, but whereby thou mayest do good. Thou hast gold and silver, and thou desirest more gold and silver. Thou both hast, and desirest to have; thou art at once full, and thirsty. This is a disease, not opulence. When men are in the dropsy, they are full of water, and yet are always thirsty. They are full of water, and yet they thirst for water. How then canst thou take pleasure in opulence, who hast thereby this dropsical desire? Gold then thou hast, it is good; yet thou hast not whereby thou canst be made good, but whereby thou canst do good. Dost thou ask, What good can I do with gold? Hast thou not heard in the Psalm, “He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor, his righteousness remaineth for ever.” This is good, this is the good whereby thou art made good; righteousness. If thou have the good whereby thou art made good, do good with that good which cannot make thee good. Thou hast money, deal it out freely. By dealing it out freely, thou increasest righteousness. “For he hath dispersed abroad, hath distributed, hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth for ever.” See what is diminished and what increased. Thy money is diminished, thy righteousness increased. That is diminished which thou must soon have lost, that diminished which thou must soon have left behind thee; that increased which thou shalt possess for ever.

It is then a secret of gainful dealing I am giving; learn so to trade. For thou dost commend the merchant who selleth lead and getteth gold, and wilt thou not commend the merchant, who layeth out money, and getteth righteousness? But thou wilt say, I do not lay out my money, because I have not righteousness. Let him who has righteousness lay his money out; I have not righteousness, so at least let me have my money. Dost thou not then wish to lay out thy money, because thou hast not righteousness? Yea, lay it out then rather that thou mayest have righteousness. For from whence shalt thou have righteousness but from God, the Fountain of righteousness? Therefore, if thou wilt have righteousness, be God’s beggar, who just now out of the Gospel urged thee to ask, and seek, and knock. He knew His beggar, and lo the Householder, the mighty rich One, rich, to wit, in riches spiritual and eternal, exhorteth thee and saith, “Ask, seek, knock; he that asketh receiveth, he that seeketh findeth, to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” He exhorteth thee to ask, and will he refuse thee what thou askest?

Consider a similitude or comparison drawn from a contrary case (as of that unjust judge), which is an encouragement to us to prayer. “There was,” saith the Lord, “in a city a certain judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man.” A certain widow importuned him daily, and said, “Avenge me.” He would not for a long time; but she ceased not to petition, and he did through her importunity what he would not of his own good will. For thus by a contrary case hath He recommended us to pray.

Again, He saith, “A certain man to whom some guest had come, went to his friend, and began to knock and say, A guest is come to me, lend me three loaves.” He answered, “I am already in bed, and my servants with me.” The other does not leave off, but stands and presses his case, and knocks and begs as one friend of another. And what saith He? “I say unto you that he riseth, and not because of his friendship,” but “because of the other’s importunity he giveth him as many as he wanted. Not because of his friendship,” though he is his friend, but “because of his importunity.” What is the meaning of “because of his importunity?” Because he did not leave off knocking; because even when his request was refused, he did not turn away. He who was not willing to give, gave what was asked, because the other fainted not in asking. How much more then shall that Good One give who exhorteth us to ask, who is displeased if we ask not? But when at times He giveth somewhat slowly, it is that He is showing us the value of His good things; not that He refuses them. Things which have been long desired, are obtained with the greater pleasure, whereas those which are given quickly, are held cheap. Ask then, seek, be instant. By the very asking and seeking thou dost grow so as to contain the more. God is keeping in reserve for thee, what it is not His will to give thee quickly, that thou mayest learn for great things to long with great desire. Therefore “ought we always to pray, and not to faint.” 

If then God hath made us His beggars by admonishing, and exhorting, and commanding us to ask, and seek, and knock, let us for our part pay regard to those who ask from us. We ask, and from whom do we ask? Who are we that ask? What do we ask? From whom, or who are we, or what is it that we ask? We ask of the Good God; and we that ask are evil men; but we ask for righteousness, whereby we may be good. We ask then for that which we may have for ever, wherewith when we shall be filled, we shall want no more. But in order that we may be filled, let us hunger and thirst; hungering and thirsting, let us ask, and seek, and knock. “For blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Wherefore are they blessed? They do hunger and thirst, and are they blessed? Is want ever a blessing? They are not blessed in that they hunger and thirst, but in that they will be filled. There will there be blessedness, in the fulness, not in the hunger. But hunger must go before the fulness, that no loathing attach to the bread.

We have said then, from whom it is that we ask, and who we are that ask, and what we ask. But we also are asked ourselves. For we are God’s mendicants; that He may acknowledge His mendicants, let us on our part acknowledge ours. But let us think in this case again, when anything is asked of us, who they are that ask, from whom they ask, and what they ask? Who then are they that ask? Men. From whom do they ask? From men. Who are they that ask? Mortals. From whom? From mortals. Who are they that ask? Frail beings. From whom? From frail beings. Who are they that ask? Wretches. And from whom? From wretches. Excepting in the matter of wealth, they that ask are as they of whom they ask. With what face canst thou ask before thy lord, who dost not acknowledge thine own equal? “I am not,” he will say, “as he is,” far be it from me to be such as he. It is thus that one clad in silk, and puffed up with pride, speaks of one who is wrapped in rags. But I ask you when you both are stripped. I ask you not as you are now when clothed, but as you were when you were first born. Both were naked, both weak, beginning a life of misery, and therefore beginning it with cries.

See then, recall, O rich man, to mind thy first beginnings; see whether thou broughtest anything into the world. Now thou hast come indeed, and hast found so great abundance. But tell me, I pray thee, what didst thou bring hither? Tell me, or if thou art ashamed to say, hear the Apostle. “We brought nothing into this world.” He saith, “We brought nothing into this world.” But perhaps because thou broughtest in nothing, but yet hast found much here, thou wilt take away something hence? This too, peradventure through love of riches, thou art afraid to confess. Hear this also, and let the Apostle who will not flatter, tell thee. “We brought nothing into this world,” to wit when we were born; “neither can we carry anything out,” to wit when we shall depart out of the world. Thou broughtest in nothing, and thou shalt carry nothing away. Why then dost thou puff up thyself against the poor man? When infants first are born, let only the parents, servants, dependants, and the crowds of obsequious attendants, get out of the way; and then let the wealthy children with their cries be recognised. Let the rich woman and the poor give birth together; let them take no notice of their children, let them go away for a little while; then let them return, and recognise them if they can. See then, O rich man, “thou broughtest nothing into this world; neither canst thou carry anything out.” What I have said of them at their birth, I may say of them in death. If it be not so, when by any chance old sepulchres are broken up, let the bones of the rich be recognised if they can. Therefore, thou rich man, give ear to the Apostle, “We brought nothing into this world.” Acknowledge it, true it is. “Neither can we carry anything out.” Acknowledge it, this is true also.

What follows then? “Having food and covering, let us be therewith content; for they who wish to be rich fall into temptation, and many and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For avarice is the root of all evil, which some following after, have erred from the faith.” Now consider what they have abandoned. Grieved thou art that they have abandoned this, but see now in what they have entangled themselves. Hear; “They have erred from the faith, and entangled themselves in many sorrows.” But who? “They who wish to be rich.” It is one thing to be rich, another to wish to become rich. He is rich, who is born of rich parents, and he is rich not because he wished it, but because many left him their inheritances. His  wealth I see, I make no question as to the pleasure he takes in it. In this Scripture it is covetousness that is condemned, not gold, or silver, or riches, but covetousness. For they who do not wish to become rich, or do not care about it, who do not burn with covetous desires, nor are inflamed by the fires of avarice, but who yet are rich, let them hear the Apostle (it has been read to-day), “Charge them that are rich in this world.” Charge them what? Charge them before all things, not to be proud in their conceits, for there is nothing which riches do so much generate as pride. Each several fruit, each several grain of corn, each several tree, has its peculiar worm, and the worm of the apple is of one kind, and of the pear another, and of the bean another, and of the wheat another. The worm of riches is pride.

1“Charge therefore the rich of this world that they be not proud in their conceits.” He hath shut out the abuse, let him teach now the proper use. “That they be not proud in their conceits.” But whence cometh the defence against pride? From that which follows: “Nor trust in the uncertainty of riches.” They who trust not in the uncertainty of riches, are not proud in their conceits. If they be not proud in their conceits, let them fear. If they fear, they are not proud in their conceits. How many are they who were rich yesterday, and are poor to-day? How many go to sleep rich, and through robbers coming and taking all away, wake up poor? Therefore “charge them not to trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in the Living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy,” things temporal, and things eternal. But things eternal more for enjoyment, the things temporal for use. Things temporal as for travellers, things eternal as for inhabitants. Things temporal, whereby we may do good; things eternal, whereby we may be made good. Therefore let the rich do this, “Let them not be proud in their conceits, nor trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in the Living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy.” Let them do this. But what can they do with what they have? Hear what. “Let them be rich in good works, let them easily distribute.” For they have wherewithal. Why then do they not do it? Poverty is a hard estate. But they may give easily, for they have the means. “Let them communicate,” that is, let them acknowledge their fellow-mortals as their equals. “Let them communicate, let them lay up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come.” For, saith he, when I say, “Let them distribute easily, let them communicate,” I have no wish to spoil, or strip them, or leave them empty. It is a painful lesson I teach; I show them a place to put their goods, “let them lay up in store for themselves.” For I have no wish that they should remain in poverty. “Let them lay up for themselves in store.” I do not bid them lose their goods, but I show them whither to remove them. “Let them lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may hold on the true life.” The present then is a false life; let them lay hold on the true life. “For it is vanity of vanities, and all is vanity. What so great abundance hath man in all his labour, wherewith he laboureth under the sun?” Therefore the true life must be laid hold upon, our riches must be removed to the place of the true life, that we may find there what we give here. He maketh this exchange of our goods who also changeth ourselves.

1Give then, my brethren, to the poor, “Having food and covering, let us be therewith content.” The rich man has nothing from his riches, but what the poor man begs of him, food and covering. What more hast thou from all that thou possessest? Thou hast got food and necessary covering. Necessary I say, not useless, not superfluous. What more dost thou get from thy riches? Tell me. Assuredly all thou hast more will be superfluous. Let thy superfluities then be the poor man’s necessaries. But thou wilt say, I get costly banquets, I feed on costly meats. But the poor man, what does he feed on? On cheap food; the poor man feeds on cheap, and I, says he, on costly meats. Well, I ask you, when you both are filled, the costly enters into thee, but when it is once entered, what does it become? If we had but looking-glasses within us, should we not be put to shame for all the costly meat whereby thou hast been filled? The poor man hungers, and so does the rich; the poor man seeks to be filled, so does the rich. The poor man is filled with inexpensive, the rich with costly meats. Both are filled alike, the object whither both wish to attain is one and the same, only the one reaches it by a short, the other by a circuitous way. But thou wilt say, I relish better my costly food. True, and it is hard for thee to be satisfied, dainty as thou art. Thou knowest not the relish of that which hunger seasons. Not that I have said this to force the rich to feed on the meat and drink of the poor. Let the rich use what their infirmity has accustomed them to; but let them be sorry, that they are not able to do otherwise. For it would be better for them if they could. If then the poor man be not puffed up for his poverty, why shouldest thou for thine infirmity? Use then choice, and costly meats, because thou art so accustomed, because thou canst not do otherwise, because if thou dost change thy custom, thou art made ill. I grant thee this, make use of superfluities, but give to the poor necessaries; make use of costly meats, but give to the poor inexpensive food. He is looking to receive from thee, and thou art looking to receive from God; he is looking to the hand which was made as he was, and thou art looking to the hand that made thee, and made not thee only, but the poor man with thee. He set you both one and the same journey, this present life: you have found yourselves companions in it, you are walking one way: he is carrying nothing, thou art loaded excessively: he is carrying nothing with him, thou art carrying with thee more than thou dost need. Thou art loaded: give him of that thou hast; so shalt thou at once feed him, and lessen thine own burden.

1Give then to the poor; I beg, I advise, I charge, I command you. Give to the poor whatever ye will. For I will not conceal from you, Beloved, why it is that I have deemed it necessary to deliver this discourse to you. As I am going to and from the Church, the poor importune me, and beg me to speak to you, that they may receive something of you. They have urged me to speak to you; and when they see that they receive nothing from you, they suppose that all my labour among you is in vain. Something also they expect from me. I give them all I can; but have I the means sufficient to supply all their necessities? Forasmuch then as I have not means sufficient to supply all their necessity, I am at least their ambassador to you. You have heard and applauded; God be thanked. You have received the seed, you have returned an answer. But these your commendations weigh me down rather, and expose me to danger. I bear them, and tremble whilst I bear them. Nevertheless, my brethren, these your commendations are but the tree’s leaves; it is the fruit I am in quest of.

 
12 Words of the Gospel, Matt. viii. 8', “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,” etc., and of the words of the apostle, 1 Cor. viii. 10', “For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple,” etc.

1. We have heard, as the Gospel was being read, the praise of our faith as manifested in humility. For when the Lord Jesus promised that He would go to the Centurion’s house to heal His servant, He answered, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and he shall be healed.” By calling himself unworthy, he showed himself worthy for Christ to come not into his house, but into his heart. Nor would he have said this with so great faith and humility, had he not borne Him in his heart, of whose coming into his house he was afraid. For it were no great happiness for the Lord Jesus to enter into his house, and yet not to be in his heart. For this Master of humility both by word and example, sat down even in the house of a certain proud Pharisee, by name Simon; and though He sat down in his house, there was no place in this heart, “where the Son of Man could lay His Head.”

For so, as we may understand from the words of the Lord Himself, did He call back from His discipleship a certain proud man, who of his own accord was desirous to go with Him. “Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.” And the Lord seeing in his heart what was invisible, said, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Head.” That is, in thee, guile like the fox doth dwell, and pride as the birds of heaven. But the Son of Man simple as opposed to guile, lowly as opposed to pride, hath not where to lay His Head; and this very laying, not the raising up of the head, teaches humility. Therefore doth He call back this one who was desirous to go, and another who refused He draweth onward. For in the same place He saith to a certain man, “Follow Me.” And he said, “I will follow Thee, Lord, but let me first go and bury my father.” His excuse was indeed a dutiful one: and therefore was he the more worthy to have his excuse removed, and his calling confirmed. What he wished to do was an act of dutifulness; but the Master taught him what he ought to prefer. For He wished him to be a preacher of the living word, to make others live. But there were others by whom that first necessary office might be fulfilled. “Let the dead,” He saith, “bury their dead.” When unbelievers bury a dead body, the dead bury the dead. The body of the one hath lost its soul, the soul of the others hath lost God. For as the soul is the life of the body; so is God the life of the soul. As the body expires when it loses the soul, so doth the soul expire when it loses God. The loss of God is the death of the soul: the loss of the soul the death of the body. The death of the body is necessary; the death of the soul voluntary.

The Lord then sat down in the house of a certain proud Pharisee. He was in his house, as I have said, and was not in his heart. But into this centurion’s house He entered not, yet He possessed his heart. Zacchæus again received the Lord both in house and heart. Yet the centurion’s faith is praised for its humility. For he said, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof;” and the Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel;” according to the flesh, that is. For he too was an Israelite undoubtedly according to the spirit. The Lord had come to fleshly Israel, that is, to the Jews, there to seek first for the lost sheep, among this people, and of this people also He had assumed His Body. “I have not found there so great faith,” He saith. We can but measure the faith of men, as men can judge of it; but He who saw the inward parts, He whom no man can deceive, gave His testimony to this man’s heart, hearing words of lowliness, and pronouncing a sentence of healing.

But whence did he get such confidence? “I also,” saith he, “am a man set under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh: and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” I am an authority to certain who are placed under me, being myself placed under a certain authority above me. If then I a man under authority have the power of commanding, what power must Thou have, whom all powers serve? Now this man was of the Gentiles, for he was a centurion. At that time the Jewish nation had soldiers of the Roman empire among them. There he was engaged in a military life, according to the extent of a centurion’s authority, both under authority himself, and having authority over others; as a subject obedient, ruling others who were under him. But the Lord (and mark this especially, Beloved, as need there is you should), though He was among the Jewish people only, even now announced beforehand that the Church should be in the whole world, for the establishment of which He would send Apostles; Himself not seen, yet believed on by the Gentiles: by the Jews seen, and put to death. For as the Lord did not in body enter into this man’s house, and still, though in body absent, yet present in majesty, healed his faith, and his house; so the same Lord also was in body among the Jewish people only: among the other nations He was neither born of a Virgin, nor suffered, nor walked, nor endured His human sufferings, nor wrought His divine miracles. None of all this took place in the rest of the nations, and yet was that fulfilled which was spoken of Him, “A people whom I have not known, hath served Me.” And how if it did not know Him? “Hath obeyed Me by the hearing of the ear.” The Jewish nation knew, and crucified Him; the whole world besides heard and believed.

This absence, so to say, of His body, and presence of His power among all nations, He signified also in the instance of that woman who had touched the edge of His garment, when He asketh, saying, “Who touched Me?” He asketh, as though He were absent; as though present, He healeth. “The multitude,” say the disciples, “press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me?” For as if He were so walking as not to be touched by anybody at all, He said, “Who touched Me?” And they answer, “The multitude press Thee.” And the Lord would seem to say, I am asking for one who touched, not for one who pressed Me. In this case also is His Body now, that is, His Church. The faith of the few “touches” it, the throng of the many “press” it. For ye have heard, as being her children, that Christ’s Body is the Church, and if ye will, ye yourselves are so. This the Apostle says in many places, “For His body’s sake, which is the Church;” and again, “But ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” If then we are His body, what His body then suffered in the crowd, that doth His Church suffer now. It is pressed by many, touched by few. The flesh presses it, faith touches it. Lift up therefore your eyes, I beseech you, ye who have wherewithal to see. For ye have before you something to see. Lift up the eyes of faith, touch but the extreme border of His garment, it will be sufficient for saving health.

See ye how that which ye have heard out of the Gospel was at that time to come is now present. Therefore, said He, on occasion of the commendation of the Centurion’s faith, as in the flesh an alien, but of the household in heart, “Therefore I say unto you, Many shall come from the east and west.” Not all, but “many;” yet they shall “come from the East and West;” the whole world is denoted by these two parts. “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.” “But the children of the kingdom,” the Jews, namely. And how “the children of the kingdom”? Because they received the Law; to them the Prophets were sent, with them was the temple and the Priesthood; they celebrated the figures of all the things to come. Yet of what things they celebrated the figures, they acknowledged not the presence. And, “Therefore the children of the kingdom,” He saith, shall go into outer darkness, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” And so we see the Jews reprobate, and Christians called from the East and West, to the heavenly banquet, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, where the bread is righteousness, and the  cup wisdom.

Consider then, brethren, for of these are ye; ye are of this people, even then foretold, and now exhibited. Yes, verily, ye are of those who have been called from the East and West, to sit down in the kingdom of heaven, not in the temple of idols. Be ye then the Body of Christ, not the pressure of His Body. Ye have the border of His garment to touch, that ye may be healed of the issue of blood, that is, of carnal pleasures. Ye have, I say, the border of the garment to touch. Look upon the Apostles as the garment, by the texture of unity clinging closely to the sides of Christ. Among these Apostles was Paul, as it were the border, the least and last; as he saith himself, “I am the least of the Apostles.” In a garment the last and least thing is the border. The border is in appearance contemptible, yet is it touched with saving efficacy. “Even to this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked and buffeted.” What state so low, so contemptible as this! Touch then, if thou art suffering from a bloody flux. There will go power out of Him whose garment it is, and it will heal thee. The border was proposed to you just now to be touched, when out of the same Apostle there was read, “For if any one see him which hath knowledge sit at meat in an idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him who is weak, be emboldened to eat things offered to idols? And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died!” How think ye may men be deceived by idols, which they suppose are honoured by Christians? A man may say, “God knows my heart.” Yes, but thy brother did not know thy heart. If thou art weak, beware of a still greater weakness; if thou art strong, have a care of thy brother’s weakness. They who see what you do, are emboldened to do more, so as to desire not only to eat, but also to sacrifice there. And lo, “Through thy knowledge the weak brother perisheth.” Hear then, my brother; if thou didst disregard the weak, wouldest thou disregard a brother also? Awake. What if so thou sin against Christ Himself? For attend to what thou canst not by any means disregard. “But,” saith he, “when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” Let them who disregard these words, go now, and sit at meat in the idol’s temple; will they not be of those who press, and do not touch? And when they have been at meat in the idol’s temple, let them come and fill the Church; not to receive saving health, but to make a pressure there.

But thou wilt say, I am afraid lest I offend those above me. By all means be afraid of offending them, and so thou wilt not offend God. For thou who art afraid lest thou offend those above thee, see whether there be not One above him whom thou art afraid of offending. By all means then be loth to offend those above thee. This is an established rule with thee. But then is it not plain, that he must on no account be offended, who is above all others? Run over now the list of those above thee. First are thy father and mother, if they are educating thee aright; if they are bringing thee up for Christ; they are to be heard in all things, they must be obeyed in every command; let them enjoin nothing against one above themselves, and so let them be obeyed. And who, thou wilt say, is above him who begat me? He who created thee. For man begets, but God creates. How it is that man begets, he does not know; and what he shall beget, he does not know. But He who saw thee that He might make thee, before that he whom He made existed, is surely above thy father. Thy country again should be above thy very parents; so that whereinsoever thy parents enjoin aught against thy country, they are not to be listened to. And whatsoever thy country enjoin against God, it is not to be listened to. For if thou wilt be healed, if after the issue of blood, if after twelve years’ continuance in that disease, if after having spent thine all upon physicians, and not having received health, thou dost wish at length to be made whole; O woman, whom I am addressing as a figure of the Church, thy father enjoineth thee this, and thy people that. But thy Lord saith to thee, “Forget thine own people, and thy father’s house.” For what good? for what advantage? with what useful result? “Because the King hath desired thy beauty.” He hath desired what He made, since when deformed He loved thee, that He might make thee beautiful. For thee unbelieving, and deformed, He shed His Blood, and He made thee faithful and beauteous, He hath loved His own gifts in thee. For what didst thou bring to thy spouse? What didst thou receive for dowry from thy former father, and former people? Was it not the excesses  and the rags of sins? Thy rags He cast away, thy robe impure He tore asunder. He pitied thee that He might adorn thee. He adorned thee, that He might love thee.

What need of more, Brethren. Ye are Christians, and have heard, that “If ye sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” Do not disregard it, if ye would not be wiped out of the book of life. How long shall I go about to speak in bright and pleasing terms to you, what my grief forceth me to speak in some sort, and will not suffer me to keep secret? Whosoever they are who are minded to disregard these things, and sin against Christ, let them only consider what they are doing. We wish the rest of the Heathen to be gathered in; and ye are stones in their way: they have a wish to come; they stumble, and so return. For they say in their hearts, Why should we leave the gods whom the very Christians worship as we do? God forbid, thou wilt say, that I should worship the gods of the Gentiles. I know, I understand, I believe thee. But what account art thou making of the consciences of the weak which thou art wounding? What account art thou making of their price, if thou disregard the purchase? Consider for how great a price was the purchase made. “Through thy knowledge,” saith the Apostle, “shall the weak brother perish;” that knowledge which thou professest to have, in that thou knowest that an idol is nothing, and that in thy mind thou art thinking only of God, and so sittest down in the idol’s temple. In this knowledge the weak brother perisheth. And lest thou shouldest pay no regard to the weak brother, he added, “for whom Christ died.” If thou wouldest disregard him, yet consider his Price, and weigh the whole world in the balance with the Blood of Christ. And lest thou shouldest still think that thou art sinning against a weak brother, and so esteem it after that he had heard that he was “Peter,” a trivial fault, and of small account, he saith, “Ye sin against Christ.” For men are in the habit of saying, I sin against man; am I sinning against God?” Deny then that Christ is God. Dost thou dare deny that Christ is God? Hast thou learned this other doctrine, when thou didst sit at meat in the idol’s temple? The school of Christ doth not admit that doctrine. I ask; Where learnedst thou that Christ is not God? The Pagans are wont to say so. Seest thou what bad associations do? Seest thou, “that evil communications corrupt good manners?” There thou canst not speak of the Gospel, and thou dost hear others talking of idols. There thou losest the truth that Christ is God; and what thou dost drink in there, thou vomitest out in the Church. It may be thou art bold enough to speak here; bold enough to mutter among the crowds; “Was not then Christ a man? Was He not crucified?” This hast thou learned of the Pagans. Thou hast lost thy soul’s health, thou hast not touched the border. On this point then touch again the border, and receive health. As I taught thee to touch it in this that is written, “Whoso seeth a brother sit at meat in the idol’s temple;” touch it also concerning the Divinity of Christ. The same border said of the Jews, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” Behold, against Whom, even the Very God, thou dost sin, when thou sittest down with false gods.

It is no god, you will say; because it is the tutelary genius of Carthage. As though if it were Mars or Mercury, it would be a god. But consider in what light it is esteemed by them; not what it is in itself. For I know also as well as thou, that it is but a stone. If this “genius” be any ornament, let the citizens of Carthage live well; and they themselves will be this “genius” of Carthage. But if the “genius” be a devil, ye have heard in that same Scripture, “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” We know well that it is no God; would that they knew it too! but because of those weak ones who do not know it, their conscience ought not to be wounded. It is this that the Apostle warns us of. For that they regard that statue as something divine, and take it for a god, the altar is witness. What does the altar there, if it be not accounted a god? Let no one tell me; it is no deity, it is no God. I have said already, “Would that they only knew this, as we all do.” But how they regard it, for what they take it, and what they do about it, that altar is witness. It is convincing against the intentions of all who worship there, grant that it may not be convincing also against those who sit at meat with them!

1Yes, let not Christians press the Church, if the Pagans do. She is the Body of Christ. Were we not saying, that the Body of Christ was pressed, and not touched. He endured those who pressed Him; and was looking out for those who “touched” Him. And, Brethren, I would that if the Body of Christ be pressed by Pagans, by whom it is wont to be pressed; that at least Christians would not press the Body of Christ. Brethren, it is my business to speak to you, my business it is to speak to Christians; “For what have I to do to judge them that are without?” the Apostle himself saith. Them we address in another way, as being weak. With them we must deal softly, that they may hear the truth; in you the corruption must be cut out. If ye ask whereby the Pagans are to be gained over, whereby they are to be illuminated, and called to salvation; forsake their solemnities, forsake their trifling shows; and then if they do not consent to our truth, let them blush at their own scantiness.

1If he who is over thee be a good man, he is thy nourisher; if a bad man, he is thy tempter. Receive the nourishment in the one case with gladness, and in the temptation show thyself approved. Be thou gold. Regard this world as the furnace of the goldsmith; in one narrow place are there things, gold, chaff, fire. To the two former the fire is applied, the chaff is burned, and the gold purified. A man has yielded to threats, and been led away to the idol’s temple: Alas! I bewail the chaff; I see the ashes. Another has not yet yielded to threats nor terrors; has been brought before the judge, and stood firm in his confession, and has not bent down to the idol image: what does the flame with him? Does it not purify the gold? Stand, fast then, Brethren, in the Lord; greater in power, is He who hath called you. Be not afraid of the threats of the ungodly. Bear with your enemies; in them ye have those for whom ye may pray; let them by no means terrify you. This is saving health, draw out in this feast here from this source; here drink that wherewith ye may be satisfied, and not in those other feasts, that only whereby ye may be maddened. Stand fast in the Lord. Ye are silver, ye shall be gold. This similitude is not our own, it is out of Holy Scripture. Ye have read and heard, “As gold in the furnace hath He tried them, and received them as a burnt-offering.” See what ye shall be among the treasures of God. Be ye rich as touching God, not as if to make Him rich, but as to become rich from Him. Let Him replenish you; admit nought else into your heart.

1Do we lift up ourselves unto pride, or tell you to be despisers against the powers ordained? Not so. Do ye again who are sick on this point, touch also that border of the garment? The Apostle himself saith, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God. He then who resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” But what if it enjoin what thou oughtest not to do? In this case by all means disregard the power through fear of Power. Consider these several grades of human powers. If the magistrate enjoin anything, must it not be done? Yet if his order be in opposition to the Proconsul, thou dost not surely despise the power, but choosest to obey a greater power. Nor in this case ought the less to be angry, if the greater be preferred. Again, if the Proconsul himself enjoin anything, and the Emperor another thing, is there any doubt, that disregarding the former, we ought to obey the latter? So then if the Emperor enjoin one thing, and God another, what judge ye? Pay me tribute, submit thyself to my allegiance. Right, but not in an idol’s temple. In an idol’s temple He forbids it. Who forbids it? A greater Power. Pardon me then: thou threatenest a prison, He threateneth hell. Here must thou at once take to thee thy “faith as a shield, whereby thou mayest be able to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy.”

1But one of these powers is plotting, and contriving evil designs against thee. Well: he is but sharpening the razor wherewith to shave the hair, but not to cut the head. Ye have but just now heard this that I have said in the Psalm, “Thou hast worked deceit like a sharp razor.” Why did He compare the deceit of a wicked man in power to a razor? Because it does not reach, save to our superfluous parts. As hairs on our body seem as it were superfluous, and are shaven off without any loss of the flesh; so whatsoever an angry man in power can take from thee, count only among thy superfluities. He takes away thy poverty; can he take away thy wealth? Thy poverty is thy wealth in thy heart. Thy superfluous things only hath he power to take away, these only hath he power to injure, even though he had license given him so far as to hurt the body. Yea even this life itself to those whose thoughts are of another life, this present life, I say, may be reckoned among the things superfluous. For so the Martyrs have despised it. They did not lose life, but they gained Life.

1Be sure, Brethren, that enemies have no power against the faithful, except so far as it profiteth them to be tempted and proved. Of this be sure, Brethren, let no one say ought against it. Cast all your care upon the Lord, throw yourselves wholly and entirely upon Him. He will not withdraw Himself that ye should fall. He who created us, hath given us security touching our very hairs. “Verily I say unto you, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”  Our hairs are numbered by God; how much more is our conduct known to Him to whom our hairs are thus known? See then, how that God doth not disregard our least things. For if He disregarded them, He would not create them. For He verily both created our hairs, and still taketh count of them. But thou wilt say, though they are preserved at present, perhaps they will perish. On this point also hear His word, “Verily I say unto you, there shall not an hair of your head perish.”  Why art thou afraid of man, O man, whose place is in the Bosom of God? Fall not out of His Bosom; whatsoever thou shall suffer there, will avail to thy salvation, not to thy destruction. Martyrs have endured the tearing of their limbs, and shall Christians fear the injuries of Christian times? He who would do thee an injury now, can only do it in fear. He does not say openly, come to the idol-feast; he does not say openly, come to my altars, and banquet there. And if he should say so, and thou wast to refuse, let him make a complaint of it, let him bring it as an accusation and charge against thee: “He would not come to my altars, he would not come to my temple, where I worship.” Let him say this. He does not dare; but in his guile he contrives another attack. Make ready thy hair; he is sharpening the razor; he is about to take off thy superfluous things, to shave what thou must soon leave behind thee. Let him take off what shall endure, if he can. This powerful enemy, what has he taken away? what great thing has he taken away? That which a thief or housebreaker could take: in his utmost rage, he can but take what a robber can. Even if he should have license given him to the slaying of the very body, what does he take away, but what the robber can take? I did him too much honour, when I said, “a robber.” For be the robber who and what he may, he is a man. He takes from thee what a fever, or an adder, or a poisonous mushroom can take. Here lies the whole power of the rage of men, to do what a mushroom can! Men eat a poisonous mushroom, and they die. Lo! in what frail estate is the life of man; which sooner or later thou must abandon; do not struggle then in such wise for it, as that thou shouldest be abandoned thyself.

1Christ is our Life; think then of Christ. He came to suffer, but also to be glorified; to be despised, but to be exalted also; to die; but also to rise again. If the labour alarm thee, see its reward. Why dost thou wish to arrive by softness at that to which nothing but hard labour can lead? Now thou art afraid, lest thou shouldest lose thy money; because thou earnest thy money with great labour. If thou didst not attain to thy money, which thou must some time or other lose, at all events when thou diest, without labour, wouldest thou desire without labour to attain to the Life eternal? Let that be of higher value in thine eyes, to which after all thy labours thou shalt in such sort attain as never more to lose it. If this money, to which thou hast attained after all thy labours on such condition as that thou must some time lose it, be of high value with thee; how much more ought we to long after those things which are everlasting!

1Give no credit to their words, neither be afraid of them. They say that we are enemies of their idols. May God so grant, and give all into our power, as He hath already given us that which we have broken down. For this I say, Beloved, that ye may not attempt to do it, when it is not lawfully in your power to do it; for it is the way of ill-regulated men, and the mad Circumcelliones, both to be violent when they have no power, and to be ever eager in their wishes to die without a cause. Ye heard what we read to you, all of you who were present in the Mappalia. “When the land shall have been given into your power” (he saith first, “into your power,” and so enjoined what was to be done); “then,” saith he, “ye shall destroy their altars, and break in pieces their groves, and hew down all their images.” When we shall have got the power, do this. When the power has not been given us, we do not do it; when it is given, we do not neglect it. Many Pagans have these abominations on their own estates; do we go and break them in pieces? No, for our first efforts are that the idols in their hearts should be broken down. When they too are made Christians themselves, they either invite us to so good a work, or anticipate us. At present we must pray for them, not be angry with them. If very painful feelings excite us, it is rather against Christians, it is against our brethren, who will enter into the Church in such a mind, as to have their body there, and their heart anywhere else. The whole ought to be within. If that which man seeth is within, why is that which God seeth without?

1Now ye may know, Dearly Beloved, that these unite their murmurings with Heretics and with Jews. Heretics, Jews, and Heathens have made a unity against Unity. Because it has happened, that in some places the Jews have received chastisement because of their wickednesses; they charge and suspect us, or pretend, that we are always seeking the like treatment for them. Again, because it has happened that the heretics in some places have suffered the penalty of the laws for the impiety and fury of their deeds of violence; they say immediately that we are seeking by every means some harm for their destruction. Again, because it has been resolved that laws should be passed against the Heathen, yea for them rather, if they were only wise. (For as when silly boys are playing with the mud, and dirtying their hands, the strict master comes, shakes the mud out of their hands, and holds out their book; so has it pleased God by the hands of princes His subjects to alarm their childish, foolish hearts, that they may throw away the dirt from their hands, and set about something useful. And what is this something useful with the hands, but, “Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the houseless poor into thy house”? But nevertheless these children escape from their master’s sight, and return stealthily to their mud, and when they are discovered they hide their hands that they may not be seen.) Because then it has so pleased God, they think that we are looking out for the idols everywhere, and that we break them down in all places where we have discovered them. How so? Are there not places before our very eyes in which they are? Or are we indeed ignorant where they are? And yet we do not break them down, because God has not given them into our power. When does God give them into our power? When the masters of these things shall become Christians. The master of a certain place has just lately wished this to be done. If he had not been minded to give the place itself to the Church, and only had given orders that there should be no idols on his property; I think that it ought to have been executed with the greatest devotion, that the soul of the absent Christian brother, who wishes on his land to return thanks to God, and would not that there should be anything there to God’s dishonour, might be assisted by his fellow-Christians. Added to this, that in this case he gave the place itself to the Church. And shall there be idols in the Church’s estate? Brethren, see then what it is that displeases the Heathens. It is but a little matter with them that we do not take them away from their estates, that we do not break them down: they would have them kept up even in our own places. We preach against idols, we take them away from the hearts of men; we are persecutors of idols; we openly profess it. Are we then to be the preservers of them? I do not touch them when I have not the power; I do not touch them when the lord of the property complains of it; but when he wishes it to be done, and gives thanks for it, I should incur guilt if I did it not.

 
13 Words of the Gospel, Matt. viii. 23', “And when he was entered into a boat,” etc.

1. By the Lord’s blessing, I will address you upon the lesson of the Holy Gospel which has just been read, and take occasion thereby to exhort you, that against the tempest and waves of this world, faith sleep not in your hearts. “For the Lord Christ had not indeed death nor sleep in His power, and peradventure sleep overcame the Almighty One as He was sailing against His will?” If ye believe this, He is asleep in you; but if Christ be awake in you, your faith is awake. The Apostle saith, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” This sleep then of Christ is a sign of a high mystery. The sailors are the souls passing over the world in wood. That ship also was a figure of the Church. And all, individually indeed are temples of God, and his own heart is the vessel in which each sails; nor can he suffer shipwreck, if his thoughts are only good.

Thou hast heard an insult, it is the wind; thou art angry, it is a wave. When therefore the wind blows, and the wave swells, the ship is endangered, the heart is in jeopardy, the heart is tossed to and fro. When thou hast heard an insult, thou longest to be avenged; and, lo, avenged thou hast been, and so rejoicing in another’s harm thou hast suffered shipwreck. And why is this? Because Christ is asleep in thee. What does this mean, Christ is asleep in thee? Thou hast forgotten Christ. Rouse Him up then, call Christ to mind, let Christ awake in thee, give heed to Him. What didst thou wish? To be avenged. Hast thou forgotten, that when He was being crucified, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?” He who was asleep in thy heart did not wish to be avenged. Awake Him up then, call Him to remembrance. The remembrance of Him is His word; the remembrance of Him is His command. And then wilt thou say if Christ, awake in thee, What manner of man am I, who wish to be avenged! Who am I, who deal out threatenings against another man? I may die perhaps before I am avenged. And when at my last breath, inflamed with rage, and thirsting for vengeance, I shall depart out of this body, He will not receive me, who did not wish to be avenged; He will not receive me, who said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; forgive, and it shall be forgiven you.” Therefore will I refrain myself from my wrath, and return to the repose of my heart. Christ hath commanded the sea, tranquillity is restored.

Now what I have said as to anger, hold fast as a rule in all your temptations. A temptation has sprung up; it is the wind; thou art disturbed; it is a wave. Awake up Christ then, let Him speak with thee. “Who is this, since the winds and the sea obey Him?” Who is this, whom the sea obeyeth? “The sea is His, and He made it.” “All things were made by Him.” Imitate the winds then, and the sea rather; obey the Creator. At Christ’s command the sea giveth ear; and art thou deaf? The sea heareth, and the wind ceaseth: and dost thou still blow on? What! I say, I do, I devise; what is all this, but to be blowing on, and to be unwilling to stop in obedience to the word of Christ? Let not the wave master you in this troubled state of your heart. Yet since we are but men, if the wind should drive us on, and stir up the affections of our souls, let us not despair; let us awake Christ, that we may sail on a tranquil sea, and so come to our country. “Let us turn to the Lord,” etc.

 
14  Words of the Gospel, Matt. x. 16', “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” etc. Delivered on a Festival of Martyrs.

1. When the Holy Gospel was read, Brethren, ye heard how our Lord Jesus Christ strengthened His Martyrs by His teaching, saying, “Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.”Now consider, my Brethren, what he does. If but one wolf come among many sheep, be they ever so many thousands, they will all be put to confusion by one wolf in the midst of them: and though all may not be torn, yet all are frightened. What manner of design is this then, what manner of counsel, what manner of power, not to let in a wolf amongst the sheep, but to send the sheep against the wolves! “I send you,” saith He, “as sheep in the midst of wolves;” not to the neighbourhood of wolves, but “in the midst of wolves.” There was then at that time a herd of wolves, and but few sheep. For when the many wolves killed the few sheep, the wolves were changed and became sheep.

Let us hear then what advice He hath given, who hath promised the crown, but hath first appointed the combat; who is a spectator of the combatants, and assisteth them in their toil. What manner of conflict hath He prescribed? “Be ye,” saith He, “wise as serpents, and simple as doves.” Whoso understandeth, and holdeth to this, may die in assurance that he will not really die. For no one ought to die in this assurance, but he who knows that he shall in such sort die, as that death only shall die in him, and life be crowned.

Wherefore, Beloved, I must explain to you, though I have often spoken already on this subject, what it is to be “simple as doves, and wise as serpents.” Now if the simplicity of doves be enjoined us, what hath the wisdom of the serpent to do in the simplicity of the dove? This in the dove I love, that she has no gall; this I fear in the serpent, that he has poison. But now do not fear the serpent altogether; something he has for thee to hate, and something for thee to imitate. For when the serpent is weighed down with age, and he feels the burden of his many years, he contracts and forces himself into a hole, and lays aside his old coat of skin, that he may spring forth into new life. Imitate him in this, thou Christian, who dost hear Christ saying, “Enter ye in at the strait gate.” And the Apostle Paul saith to thee, “Put ye off the old man with his deeds, and put ye on the new man.” Thou hast then something to imitate in the serpent. Die not for the “old man,” but for the truth. Whoso dies for any temporal good dies “for the old man.” But when thou hast stripped thyself of all “that old man,” thou hast imitated the wisdom of the serpent. Imitate him in this again; “keep thy head safe.” And what does this mean, keep thy head safe? Keep Christ with thee. Have not some of you, it may be, observed, on occasions when you have wished to kill an adder, how to save his head, he will expose his whole body to the strokes of his assailant? He would not that that part of him should be struck, where he knows that his life resides. And our Life is Christ, for He hath said Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Here the Apostle also; “The Head of the man is Christ.” Whoso then keepeth Christ in him, keepeth his head for his protection.

Now what need is there to commend to you in many words the simplicity of the dove? For the serpent’s poison had need to be guarded against: there, there was a danger in imitation; there, there was something to be feared; but the dove may you imitate securely. Mark how the doves rejoice in society; everywhere do they fly and feed together; they do not love to be alone, they delight in communion, they preserve affection; their cooings are the plaintive cries  of love, with kissings they beget their young. Yea even when doves, as we have often noticed, dispute about their holes, it is as it were but a peaceful strife. Do they separate, because of their contentions? Nay, still do they fly and feed together, and their very strife is peaceful. See this strife of doves, in what the Apostle saith, “If any man obey not our word by this epistle, mark that man, and have no company with him.” Behold the strife; but observe now how it is the strife of doves, not of wolves. He subjoined immediately, “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” The dove loves even when she is in strife; and the wolf even when he caresses, hates. Therefore having the simplicity of doves, and the wisdom of serpents, celebrate the solemnities of the Martyrs in sobriety of mind, not in bodily excess, sing lauds to God. For He who is the Martyrs’ God, is our Lord God also, He it is who will crown us. If we shall have wrestled well, we shall be crowned by Him, who hath crowned already those whom we desire to imitate.

 
15 Words of the Gospel, Matt. x. 28', “Be not afraid of them that kill the body.” Delivered on a Festival of Martyrs.

1. The Divine oracles which have just been read teach us in fearing not to fear, and in not fearing to fear. Ye observed when the Holy Gospel was being read, that our Lord God before He died for us, would have us to be firm; and this by admonishing us “not” to fear, and withal to fear. For he said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” See where He advised us not to fear. See now where He advised us to fear. “But,” saith he, “fear Him who hath power to destroy both body and soul in hell.” Let us fear therefore, that we may not fear. Fear seems to be allied to cowardice: seems to be the character of the weak, not the strong. But see what saith the Scripture, “The fear of the Lord is the hope of strength.” Let us then fear, that we may not fear; that is, let us fear prudently, that we may not fear vainly. The holy Martyrs on the occasion of whose solemnity this lesson was read out of the Gospel, in fearing, feared not; because in fearing God, they did not regard men.

For what need a man fear from man? And what is that whereby one man should cause another fear, since both of them are men? One threatens and says, “I will kill thee;” and does not fear, lest after his threat he die before he have fulfilled it. “I will kill thee,” he says. Who says it, and to whom? I hear two men, the one threatening, and the other alarmed: of whom the one is powerful, and the other weak, yet both are mortal. Why then does he so stretch out himself, he, in honour, a somewhat more inflated power, in body, equal weakness? Let him securely threaten death who does not fear death. But if he fear that whereby he causes fear; let him think of himself, and compare himself with him whom he is threatening. Let him see in him whom he threateneth a likeness of condition, and so together with him let him seek like pity from the Lord. For he is but a man, and he threatens another man, a creature, another creature; only the one puffed up under his Creator’s eye, and the other fleeing for refuge to the same Creator.

Let the stout Martyr then, as he stands a man before another man, say; “I do not fear, because I fear.” Thou canst not do what thou art threatening, unless He will; but what He threateneth, none can hinder Him from doing. And then again, what dost thou threaten, and what canst thou do, if thou art permitted? Thy violence extends but to the flesh, the soul is safe from thee. Thou canst not kill what thou dost not see: visible thyself, thou threatenest that which is visible in me. But we have both an invisible Creator, whom we ought both to fear; who of that which was both visible and invisible created man. He made Him visible out of the earth, and with His Breath He breathed into Him an invisible Spirit. Therefore the invisible substance, that is, the soul, which has raised from the earth the earth as it lay, does not fear, when thou assaultest the earth. Thou canst strike the habitation, but canst thou strike him who dwells there? When the chain is broken, he escapes who before was bound, and he will now be crowned in secret. Why then dost thou threaten me, who canst do nothing to my soul? Through the desert of that to which thou canst do nothing, will that to which thy power extends rise again. For through the soul’s desert, will the flesh also rise again; and will be restored to its inhabitant, now no more to fail, but to endure for ever. Behold (I am using the words of a Martyr), behold, I say, not even on account of my body do I fear thy threats. My body indeed is subject to thy power; but even the hairs of my head are numbered by my Creator. Why should I fear lest I lose my body, who cannot even lose a hair? How shall he not have a care of my body, to whom my meanest things are so well known? This body which may be wounded and slain will for a time be ashes, but it will be for ever immortal. But to whom shall this be? To whom shall the body be restored for life eternal, even though it have been slain, destroyed, and scattered to the winds? to whom shall it be so restored? To him who has not been afraid to lay down his own life, since he does not fear, lest his body should be slain.

For, Brethren, the soul is said to be immortal, and immortal it is according to a certain manner of its own: for it is a kind of life which is able to give life to the body by its presence. For by the soul doth the body live. This life cannot die, and therefore is the soul immortal. Why then said I according to a certain manner of its own? Hear why. Because there is a true immortality, an immortality which is an entire unchangeableness; of which the Apostle saith, speaking of God, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in that light which no man may approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” If then God only hath immortality, the soul must needs be mortal. See then why it was that I said that the soul is immortal after a certain manner of its own. For in fact it may also die. Understand this, Beloved, and there will remain no difficulty. I venture to say then that the soul can die, can be slain also. Yet it is undoubtedly immortal. See, I venture to say, it is at once immortal, and it may be slain; and therefore I said that there is a kind of immortality, an entire unchangeableness, that is, which God Only hath, of whom it is said, “Who Only hath immortality;” for if the soul cannot be slain, how did the Lord Himself say, when He would make us fear, “Fear Him who hath power to slay both body and soul in hell”?

Hitherto I have confirmed, not solved, the difficulty. I have proved that the soul can be slain. The Gospel cannot be gainsaid but by the ungodly soul. Lo, something occurs to me here, and comes into my mind to speak. Life cannot be gainsaid, but by a dead soul. The Gospel is life, impiety and infidelity are the death of the soul. See then, it can die, and yet it is immortal. How then is it immortal? Because there is always a sort of life which is never extinguished in it. And how does it die? Not in ceasing to be life, but by losing its life. For the soul is both life to something else, and it has its own proper life. Consider the order of the creatures. The soul is the life of the body: God is the life of the soul. As the life, that is the soul, is present with the body, that the body die not; so ought the life of the soul, that is God, to be with it that the soul die not. How does the body die? By the soul’s leaving it. I say, by the soul’s leaving it the body dies; and it lies along a mere carcass, what was a little before a desirable, now a contemptible, object. There are in it still its several members, the eyes, and ears; but these are but the windows of the house, its inhabitant is gone. They who bewail the dead, cry in vain at the windows of the house; there is none within to hear. How many things does the fond affection of the mourner give utterance to, how many enumerate and call to mind; and with what a madness of sorrow, so to say, does he speak, as with one who was sensible of what was doing, when he is really speaking with one who is no longer there? He recounts his good qualities, and the tokens of his goodness towards himself. It was thou that didst give me this; and did this and that for me; it was thou who didst thus and thus dearly love me. But if thou wouldest only consider and understand, and restrain the madness of thy grief, he who once loved thee, is gone; in vain does the house receive thy knockings, in which thou canst not find a dweller.

Let us return to the subject I was speaking of a little while since. The body is dead. Why? Because its life, that is the soul, is gone. Again, the body is alive, and the man is impious, unbelieving, hard of belief, incorrigible; in this case whilst the body is alive, the soul by which the body lives is dead. For the soul is so excellent a thing, that it has power even though dead to give life to the body. So excellent a thing, I say, is the soul, so excellent a creature, that even though dead itself, it has power to quicken the body. For the soul of the impious, unbelieving, unregulated man is dead, and yet by it though dead the body lives. And therefore is it in the body; it sets on the hands to work, and the feet to walk; it directs the eye to see, it disposes the ears to hear, it discriminates tastes, avoids pains, seeks after pleasures. All these are tokens of the life of the body; but they are from the presence of the soul. If I were to ask a body whether it were alive; it would answer me, You see me walking, you see me working, you hear me talking, you perceive that I have certain aims and aversions, and do you not understand that the body is alive? By these works then of the soul which is placed within, I understand that the body is alive. I ask the soul also whether it is alive? It also has its proper works, by which it manifests its life. The feet walk. I understand by this that the body lives, but by the presence of the soul. I ask now, does the soul live? These feet walk. (To speak only of this one movement.) I am questioning both body and soul, as touching their life. The feet walk, I understand that the body lives. But whither do they walk? To adultery, it is said. Then is the soul dead. For so hath unerring Scripture said, “The widow who liveth in pleasure is dead.” Now since the difference is great between “pleasure” and adultery, how can the soul which is said to be dead in pleasure, live in adultery? It is surely dead. But it is dead even though it be not in this case. I hear a man speaking; the body then lives. For the tongue could not move itself in the mouth, and by its several motions give utterance to articulate sounds, were there not an inhabitant within; and a musician as it were to this instrument, to make use of his tongue. I understand it perfectly. Thus the body speaks; the body then lives. But I ask, is the soul alive also? Lo, the body speaks, and so is alive. But what does it speak? As I said concerning the feet; they walk, and so the body is alive, and I then asked, whither do they walk? that I might understand whether the soul was alive also. So also when I hear a man speak, I understand that the body is alive; I ask what does he speak, that I may know whether the soul is alive also. He speaks a lie. If so, then is the soul dead. How do we prove this? Let us ask the truth itself, which saith, “The mouth that lieth, slayeth the soul.” I ask, why is the soul dead? I ask as I did just now, why is the body dead? Because the soul, its life, was gone. Why is the soul dead? Because God, its life, hath forsaken it.

After this brief examination then, know and hold for certain that the body is dead without the soul, and that the soul is dead without God. Every man without God hath a dead soul. Thou dost bewail the dead: bewail the sinner rather, bewail rather the ungodly man, bewail the unbeliever. It is written, “The mourning for the dead is seven days; for a fool and an ungodly man all the days of his life.” What! are there no bowels of Christian compassion in thee; that thou mournest for a body from which the soul is gone, and mournest not for the soul, from which God is departed? Let the Martyr remembering this make answer to him that threatens him, “Why dost thou force me to deny Christ?” Wouldest thou then force me to deny the truth? And if I will not, what wilt thou do? Thou wilt assault my body, that my soul shall depart from it; but this same soul of mine has its body only for the soul’s sake. It is not so foolish or unwise. Thou wouldest wound my body; but wouldest thou, that through fear lest thou shouldest wound my body, and my soul should depart from it, I should wound mine own soul, and my God should depart from it? Fear not then, O Martyr, the sword of thy executioner; fear only thine own tongue, lest thou do execution upon thine own self, and slay, not thy body, but thy soul. Fear for thy soul, lest it die in hell-fire.

Therefore said the Lord, “Who hath power to slay both body and soul in hell-fire.” How? when the ungodly shall be cast into hell-fire, will his body and his soul burn there? Everlasting punishment will be the death of the body; the absence of God will be the death of the soul. Wouldest thou know what the death of the soul is? Understand the Prophet who saith, “Let the ungodly be taken away, that he may not see the glory of the Lord.”  Let the soul then fear its proper death, and not fear the death of its body. Because if it fear its own death, and so live in its God, by not offending and thrusting Him away from him, it will be found worthy to receive its body again at the end; not unto everlasting punishment, as the ungodly, but unto life eternal, as the righteous. By fearing this death, and loving that life, did the Martyrs, in hope of the promises of God, and in contempt of the threats of persecutors, attain themselves to be crowned with God, and have left to us the celebration of these solemnities.

 
 16 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 2', “Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples, and said unto him, art thou He that cometh, or look we for another?” etc.

1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel has set before us a question touching John the Baptist. May the Lord assist me to resolve it to you, as He hath resolved it to us. John was commended, as ye have heard, by the testimony of Christ, and in such terms commended, as that there had not risen a greater among those who were born of women. But a greater than he had been born of a Virgin. How much greater? Let the herald himself declare, how great the difference is between himself and his Judge, whose herald he is. For John went before Christ both in his birth and preaching; but it was in obedience that he went before Him; not in preferring himself before Him. For so the whole train of attendants walks before the judge; yet they who walk before, are really after him. How signal a testimony then did John give to Christ? Even to saying that he “was not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes.” And what more? “Of His fulness,” saith he, “have all we received.” He confessed that he was but a lamp lighted at His Light, and so he took refuge at His feet, lest venturing on high, he should be extinguished by the wind of pride. So great indeed was he, that he was taken for Christ; and if he had not himself testified that he was not He, the mistake would have continued, and he would have been reputed to be the Christ. What striking humility! Honour was proffered him by the people, and he himself refused it. Men were at fault in his greatness, and he humbled himself. He had no wish to increase by the words of men, seeing he had comprehended the Word of God.

This then did John say concerning Christ. And what said Christ of John? We have just now heard. “He began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?” Surely not; for John was not “blown about by every wind of doctrine.” “But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment?” No, for John was clothed in rough apparel; he had his raiment of camel’s hair, not of down. “But what went ye out for to see? A Prophet? yea, and more than a Prophet.” Why “more than a Prophet”? The Prophets foretold that the Lord would come, whom they desired to see, and saw not; but to him was vouchsafed what they sought. John saw the Lord; he saw Him, pointed his finger toward Him, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world;” behold, here He is. Now had He come and was not acknowledged; and so a mistake was made also as to John himself. Behold then here is He whom the Patriarchs desired to see, whom the Prophets foretold, whom the Law prefigured. “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.” And he gave a goodly testimony to the Lord, and the Lord to him. “Among them that are born of women,” saith the Lord, “there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is less in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he;” less in time, but greater in majesty. This He said, meaning Himself to be understood. Now exceedingly great among men is John the Baptist, than whom among men Christ alone is greater. It may also be thus stated and explained, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Not in the sense that I have before explained it. “Notwithstanding, he that is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he;” the kingdom of heaven he meant where the Angels are; he then that is the least among the Angels, is greater than John. Thus He set forth to us the excellence of that kingdom which we should long for; set before us a city, of which we should desire to be citizens. What sort of citizens are there? how great are they! Whoso is the least there, is greater than John. Than what John? “Than whom there hath not risen a greater among them that are born of women.”

Thus have we heard the true and good record both of John concerning Christ, and of Christ concerning John. What then is the meaning of this; that John sent his disciples to Him when He was shut up in prison, on the eve of being put to death, and said to them, “Go, say to Him, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” Is this then all that praise? That praise is it turned to doubting? What sayest thou, John. To Whom art thou speaking? What sayest thou? Thou speakest to thy Judge, thyself the herald. Thou stretchedst out the finger, and pointedst Him out; thou saidst, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world.” Thou saidst, “Of His fulness have we all received.” Thou saidst, “I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoes.” And dost thou now say, “Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” Is not this the same Christ? And who art thou? Art thou not His forerunner? Art thou not he of whom it was foretold, “Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before thee?” How dost thou prepare the way, and thou art thyself straying from the way? So then the disciples of John came; and the Lord said to them, “Go, tell John, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the poor have the Gospel preached to them; and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” Do not suspect that John was offended in Christ. And yet his words do sound so; “Art Thou He that should come?” Ask my works; “The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them;” and dost thou ask whether I am He? My works, saith He, are My words. “Go, show him again. And as they departed.” Lest haply any one should say, John was good at first, and the Spirit of God forsook him; therefore after their departure, he spake these words; after their departure whom John had sent, Christ commended John.

What is the meaning then of this obscure question? May that Sun shine upon us, from which that lamp derived its flame. And so the resolution of it is altogether plain. John had separate disciples of his own; not as in separation from Christ, but prepared as a witness to him. For meet it was that such an one should give his testimony to Christ, who was himself also gathering disciples, and who might have been envious of Him, for that he could not see Him. Therefore because John’s disciples highly esteemed their master, they heard from John his record concerning Christ, and marvelled; and as he was about to die, it was his wish that they should be confirmed by him. For no doubt they were saying among themselves; Such great things doth he say of Him, but none such of himself. “Go then, ask Him;” not because I doubt, but that ye may be instructed. “Go, ask Him,” hear from Himself what I am in the habit of telling you; ye have heard the herald, be confirmed by the Judge. “Go, ask Him, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” They went accordingly and asked; not for John’s sake, but for their own. And for their sakes did Christ say, “The blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.” Ye see Me, acknowledge Me then; ye see the works, acknowledge the Doer. “And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” But it is of you I speak, not of John. For that we might know that He spake not this of John, as they departed, “He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John;” the True, the Truth Himself, proclaimed his true praises.

I think this question has been sufficiently explained. Let it suffice then to have prolonged my address thus far. Now keep the poor in mind. Give, ye who have not given hitherto; believe me, ye will not lose it. Yes, truly, that only it seems ye lose, which ye do not carry to the circus. Now must we render unto the poor the offerings of such of you as have offered anything, and the amount which we have is much less than your usual offerings. Shake off this sloth. I am become a beggar for beggars; what is that to me? I would be a beggar for beggars, that ye may be reckoned among the number of children.

 
17 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25', “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding,” etc.

1. When the Holy Gospel was being read, we heard that the Lord Jesus exulted in Spirit, and said, “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Thus much to begin with, we find before we pass on further, if we consider the words of the Lord with due attention, with diligence, and above all with piety, that we ought not invariably to understand when we read of “confession” in the Scriptures, the confession of a sinner. Now especial need there was of saying this, and of reminding you, Beloved, of this, because as soon as this word was uttered by the reader’s voice, there followed upon it the sound of the beating of your breasts, when ye had heard, I mean, what the Lord said, “I confess to Thee, O Father.” At the uttering of these words, “I confess,” ye beat your breasts. Now what means this beating of the breast, but to show that which lies hid within the breast, and to chastise by the visible beating the secret sin? And why did ye this, but because ye heard, “I confess to Thee, O Father.” Ye heard the words “I confess,” but ye did not consider, who it is that confesses. But consider now. If Christ, from whom all sin is far removed, said, “I confess:” confession does not belong to the sinner only, but sometimes to him also that praiseth God. We confess then, whether in praising God, or accusing ourselves. In either case it is a godly confession, either when thou blamest thyself, who art not without sin, or when thou praisest Him who can have no sin.

But if we consider it well: thine own blame is His praise. For why is it that thou dost now confess in accusing thyself for thy sin? in accusing thyself why dost thou confess? but because thou art become alive from the dead? for the Scripture saith, “Confession perisheth from the dead, as from one that is not.” If confession perisheth from the dead, he who confesseth must be alive; and if he confesseth sin he hath undoubtedly risen again from death. Now if he that confesseth sin hath risen again from the dead, who hath raised him? No dead man can raise himself. He only was able to raise Himself, who though His Body was dead, was not dead. For He raised up that which was dead. He raised up Himself, who in Himself was alive, but in His Body that was to be raised was dead. For not the Father only, of whom it was said by the Apostle, “Wherefore God also hath exalted Him,” raised the Son, but the Lord also raised Himself, that is, His Body. Whence He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again.” But the sinner is dead, especially he whom the load of sinful habit presseth down, who is buried as it were like Lazarus. For he was not merely dead, he was buried also. Whosoever then is oppressed by the load of evil habit, of a wicked life, of earthly lusts, I mean, so that that in his case is true which is piteously described in a certain Psalm, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,” he is such an one, of whom it is said, “Confession perisheth from the dead, as from one that is not.” And who shall raise him up, but He who when the stone was removed, cried out, and said, “Lazarus, Come forth?” Now what is to “come forth,” but to bring forth what was hidden? He then who confesseth “cometh forth.” “Come forth” he could not were he not alive; he could not be alive, had he not been raised again. And therefore in confession the accusing of one’s self, is the praise of God.

Now one may say, what profit then is the Church, if he that confesseth comes forth, at once raised to life again by the voice of the Lord? What profit to Him that confesseth, is the Church, to which the Lord said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.” Consider this very case of Lazarus: he comes forth, but with his bands. He was alive already through confession, but he did not yet walk free, entangled as he was in his bands. What then doth the Church to which it was said, “Whatsoever ye shall loose, shall be loosed;” but what the Lord said forthwith to His disciples, “Loose him, and let him go”?

Whether then we accuse ourselves, or directly praise God, in both ways do we praise God. If with a pious intention we accuse ourselves, by so doing we praise God. When we praise God directly, we do as it were celebrate His Holiness, who is without sin: but when we accuse ourselves, we give Him glory, by whom we have risen again. This if thou shalt do, the enemy will find none occasion whereby to overreach thee before the judge. For when thou shall be thine own accuser, and the Lord thy Deliverer, what shall he be but a mere calumniator? With good reason hath the Christian hereby provided protection for himself against his enemies, not those that may be seen, flesh and blood, to be pitied, rather than to be feared, but against those against whom the Apostle exhorts us to arm ourselves: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood;” that is, against men whom ye see raging against you. They are but vessels, which another uses, they are but instruments which another handles. “The devil,” saith the Scripture, “entered into the heart of Judas, that he should betray the Lord.” One may say then, what have I done? Hear the Apostle, “Give not place to the devil.” Thou hast given him place by an evil will: he entered, and possessed, and now uses thee. He had not possessed thee, hadst thou not given him place.

Therefore doth he warn and say, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.” Any one might suppose this meant against the kings of the earth, against the powers of this world. How so? are they not flesh and blood? And once for all it is said, “not against flesh and blood.” Turn thy attention from all men. What enemies then remain? “Against principalities and powers of spiritual wickedness, the rulers of the world.”  It might seem as though he gave the devil and his angels more than they have. It is so, he has called them the “rulers of the world.” But to prevent misunderstanding, he explains what this world is, of which they are the rulers. “The rulers of the world, of this darkness.” What is, “of the world, of this darkness?” The world is full of those who love it, and of unbelievers, over whom he is ruler. This the Apostle calls darkness. This darkness the devil and his angels are the rulers of. This is not the natural, and unchangeable darkness: this darkness changes, and becomes light; it believes, and by believing is enlightened. When this takes place in it, it will hear the words, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” For when ye were darkness, ye were not in the Lord: again, when ye are light, ye are light not in yourselves, but in the Lord. “For what hast thou which thou hast not received?” Inasmuch then as they are invisible enemies, by invisible means must they be subdued. A visible enemy indeed thou mayest overcome by blows; thy invisible enemy thou conquerest by belief. A man is a visible enemy; to strike a blow is visible also. The devil is an invisible enemy; to believe is invisible also. Against invisible enemies then there is an invisible fight.

From these enemies how can any man say that he is safe? For this I had begun to speak of, but I thought it necessary to treat of these enemies at some little length. But now that we know our enemies, let us see to our defence against them. “In praising I will call upon the Lord, so shall I be safe from mine enemies.” Thou seest what thou hast to do. “In praising call;” that is, “in praising the Lord, call.” For thou wilt not be safe from thine enemies, if thou praise thyself. “In praising call upon the Lord, and thou shalt be safe from thine enemies.” For what doth the Lord Himself say? “The sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me, and there is the way, in which I will show him My salvation.” Where is the way? In the sacrifice of praise. Let not your foot then wander out of this way. Keep in the way; depart not from it; from the praise of the Lord depart not a foot, nay, not a nail’s breadth. For if thou wilt deviate from this way, and praise thyself instead of the Lord, thou wilt not be safe from thine enemies; for it is said of them, “They have laid stumbling-blocks for me by the way.” Therefore in whatever measure thou thinkest that thou hast good of thine own self, thou hast deviated from the praise of God. Why dost thou marvel then, if thine enemy seduce thee, when thou art thine own seducer? Hear the Apostle, “For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he seduceth himself.”

Give heed then to the Lord confessing; “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” I confess to Thee, that is, I praise Thee. I praise Thee, not I accuse myself. Now as far as the taking of very man is concerned, all is grace, singular and perfect grace. What merit had that man who is Christ, if thou take away the grace, even that so pre-eminent grace, whereby it behoved that there should be One Christ, and that He whom we acknowledge should be He? Take away this grace, and what is Christ but a mere man? what but the same as thou art thyself? He took a Soul, He took a Body, He took a perfect Man; He uniteth him to Himself, the Lord maketh one Person with the servant. What pre-eminent grace is this! Christ in heaven, Christ on earth; Christ at once both in heaven and earth; not two Christs, but the same Christ, both in heaven and earth. Christ with the Father, Christ in the Virgin’s womb; Christ on the Cross, Christ succouring some souls in hell; and on the self-same day Christ in paradise with the robber who confessed. And how did the robber attain to this blessedness, but because he held on that way, in which “He showeth His salvation”? That way, from which let not thy foot wander. For in that he accused himself, he praised God, and made his own life blessed. He looked in hope for this from the Lord, and said to Him, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” For he considered his own wicked deeds, and thought it much, if mercy should be shown him even at the last. But the Lord immediately after He had said, “Remember me”—when? “when Thou comest into Thy kingdom,” saith, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shall thou be with Me in paradise.” Mercy offered at once, what misery deferred.

Hear then the Lord confessing; “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” What do I confess? Wherein do I praise thee? For this confession, as I have said before, signifieth praise. “Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” What is this, Brethren? Understand by that which is opposed to them. “Thou hast hid these things,” saith he, “from the wise and prudent;” and he did not say, thou hast revealed them to the foolish and imprudent, but “Thou hast hid these things” indeed “from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” To these wise and prudent, who are really objects of derision, to the arrogant who in false pretence are great, yet in truth are only swollen up, he opposed not the foolish, nor the imprudent, but babes. Who are babes? The humble. Therefore “Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent.” Under the name of the wise and prudent, He hath Himself explained that the proud are understood, when He said, “Thou hast revealed them unto babes.” Therefore from those who are not babes Thou hast hidden them. What is from those who are not babes? From those who are not humble. And who are they but the proud? O way of the Lord! Either there was none, or it lay hid, that it might be revealed to us. Why did the Lord exult? “Because it was revealed unto babes.” We must be little babes; for if we would wish to be great, “wise and prudent” as it were, it is not revealed unto us. Who are these great ones? The wise and prudent. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Here then thou hast a remedy suggested from its opposite. For if by “professing thyself wise, thou art become a fool; profess thyself a fool, and thou wilt be wise.” But profess it in truth, profess it from the heart, for it is really so as thou professest. If thou profess it, do not profess it before men, and forbear to profess it before God. As to thyself, and all that is thine, thou art altogether dark. For what else is it to be a fool, but to be dark in heart? He saith of them at last, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Before they professed this, what do we find? “And their foolish heart was darkened.” Acknowledge then that thou art not to thyself a light. At best thou art but an eye, thou art not the light. And what good is even an open and a sound eye, if the light be wanting? Acknowledge therefore that of thine own self thou art no light to thyself; and cry out as it is written, “Thou, Lord, wilt light my candle: Thou wilt enlighten, O Lord, my darkness with Thy Light.” For myself I was all darkness; but Thou art the Light that scattereth the darkness, and enlighteneth me; of myself I am no light to myself, yea I have no portion of light but in Thee.

So John also, the friend of the Bridegroom, was thought to be the Christ, was thought to be the Light. “He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of the Light.” But what was the Light? It was the true Light. What is the true Light? “That which lighteneth every man.” If that be the true Light which lighteneth every man, then it lightened John also, who professed and confessed rightly, “Of His fulness have all we received.” See if he said ought else, but “Thou, O Lord, shalt lighten my candle.” Finally, being now enlightened, He gave His testimony. For the benefit of the blind the lamp gave witness to the Day. See how that He is a lamp; “Ye sent,” He said, “unto John, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light; he was a burning and a shining lamp.” He, the lamp, that is, a thing enlightened, was lighted that it might shine. That which can be lighted can be extinguished also. Now that it may not be extinguished, let it not expose itself to the wind of pride. Therefore, “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,” from those who thought themselves to be light, and were darkness; and who because they were darkness, and thought themselves to be light, could not even be enlightened. But they who were darkness, and confessed that they were darkness, were little babes, not great; were humble, not proud. Rightly therefore did they say, “O Lord, Thou wilt lighten my candle.” They knew themselves, they praised the Lord. They did not stray from the way of salvation; “They in praise called upon the Lord, and they were saved from their enemies.”

Turning then to the Lord our God, the Father Almighty, in purity of heart, let us render unto Him, as our frailty best can, our highest and abundant thanks, with our whole mind praying His singular goodness, that in His good pleasure He would vouchsafe to hear our prayers, that by His Power He would drive out the enemy from our deeds and thoughts, would enlarge our faith, direct our minds, grant us spiritual thoughts, and bring us safe to His endless blessedness, through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

 
18 Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25', “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth,” etc.

1. We have heard the Son of God saying, “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” What doth he confess to Him? Wherein doth he praise Him? “Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Who are the “wise and prudent”? Who the “babes”? What hath He hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes? By the “wise and prudent,” He signifieth those of whom St. Paul speaks; “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” Yet perhaps thou still askest who they are. They are they peradventure who in their much disputation concerning God, have spoken falsely of Him; who, puffed up by their own doctrines, could in no wise find out and know God, and who for the God whose substance is incomprehensible and invisible, have thought the air and sky to be God, or the sun to be God, or anything which holds high place among the creatures to be God. For observing the grandeur and beauty and powers of the creatures, they rested in them, and found not the Creator.

These men does the Book of wisdom reprove, where it is said, “For if they were able to know so much as to aim at the world, how did they not sooner find out the Lord thereof?” They are accused as wasting their time and their busy disputes in investigating and measuring as it were the creature; they sought out the courses of the stars, the intervals of the planets, the movements of the heavenly bodies, so as to arrive by certain calculations to that degree of knowledge as to foretell the eclipses of the sun and moon; and that as they had foretold, so should the event be according to the day and hour, and to the portion of the bodies which should be eclipsed. Great industry, great activity of mind. But in these things they sought after the Creator, who was not far off from them, and they found Him not. Whom if they could have found, they might have had within them. With the best reason then, and very rightly were they accused, who could investigate the numbers of the stars, and their varied movements, and know and foretell the eclipses of the luminaries: rightly accused, I say, in that they found not Him by whom these had been created and ordained, because they neglected to seek Him. But be not thou much disquieted, if thou art ignorant of the courses of the stars, and the proportions of the celestial and terrestrial bodies. Behold the fair beauty of the world, and praise its Creator’s counsel. Behold what He has made, and love Him who made it: be this thy greatest care. Love Him who made it; for He made thee also after His own image, that thou mightest love Him.

If then it is strange that those things of which Christ said, “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,” were hidden from such wise men as these, who, occupied wholly about the creatures, chose to seek the Creator carelessly, and could not find Him; still more strange is it that there should even be found some “wise and prudent” men who were able to know Him. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Perhaps thou dost ask, what truth do they hold in unrighteousness? “Because that which may be known of God is manifest among them.” How is it manifest? He goes on to say, “For God hath manifested it to them.” Dost thou still enquire how He manifested it to them to whom He gave not the law? How? “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”There were then some such, not as Moses the servant of God, not as many Prophets who had an insight into and knowledge of these things, and were aided by the Spirit of God, which they drew in by faith, and drank with the throat of godliness, and poured forth again by the mouth of the interior man. Not such as these were they; but far unlike them, who by means of this visible creation were able to attain to the understanding of the Creator, and to say of these things which God hath made; Behold what things He hath made, He governeth and containeth also. He who hath made them, Himself filleth what He hath made with His own presence. Thus much they were enabled to say. For these Paul also made mention of in the Acts of the Apostles, where, when he had said of God, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (forasmuch as he was speaking to the Athenians among whom those learned men had existed); he subjoined immediately; “As certain also of your own have said.” Now it was no trivial thing they said; “That in Him we live and move and have our being.”

In what then were they unlike the others? why were they blamed? why rightly accused? Hear the words of the Apostle which I had begun to quote; “The wrath of God,” saith he, “is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness” (even of those, namely, who had not received the law); “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” What truth? “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them.” By whose manifestation of it? “For God hath manifested it to them.” How? “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His Eternal Power and Godhead.” Why did He manifest it? “That they might be without excuse.” Wherein then are they to be blamed? “Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God.”

What mean these words, “Glorified Him not as God?” They did not give Him thanks. Is this then to glorify God; to give God thanks? Yes, verily. For what can be worse, if having been created after the image of God, and having come to know God, thou shalt not be thankful to Him? This surely, this is to glorify God, to give God thanks. The faithful know where and when it is said, “Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.” But who gives thanks to God, save he who “lifts up his heart unto the Lord?” Therefore are they blameable and without excuse, “Because when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, nor gave Him thanks. But”—what? “But they became vain in their imaginations.” Whence did they become vain, but because they were proud? Thus smoke vanishes away by rising up aloft, and a flame burns the more brightly and strongly in proportion as it is kept low; “They became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” So smoke, though it rise higher than the flame, is dark.

Finally, mark what follows, and see the point on which the whole matter depends. “For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” For arrogating to themselves what God had given, God took away what He had given. Therefore from the proud He hid Himself, who conveyed the knowledge of Himself only to those who through the creature sought diligently after the Creator. Well then did our Lord say, “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent;” whether from those who in their manifold disputations, and most busy search, have reached to the full investigation of the creature, but knew nothing of the Creator, or from them who when they knew God, glorified Him not as God, nor gave Him thanks, and who could not see perfectly or healthfully because they were proud. “Therefore Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” What babes? To the lowly. Say on whom doth My Spirit rest? “Upon him that is lowly and quiet, and who trembleth at My words.” At these words Peter trembled; Plato trembled not. Let the fisherman hold fast what that most famous philosopher has lost. “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Thou hast hid them from the proud, and revealed them to the humble. What things are these? For when He said this, He did not intend the heaven and earth, or point them out as it were with His hand as He spake. For these who does not see? The good see them, the bad see them; for He “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good.” What then are these things? “All things are delivered unto Me of My Father.”

 
19 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 28', “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” etc.

1. We heard in the Gospel that the Lord, rejoicing greatly in Spirit, said unto God the Father, “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” I have labour in talking, you in hearing: let us then both give ear to Him who goes on to say, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour.” For why do we labour all, except that we are mortal men, frail creatures and infirm, bearing about vessels of clay which crowd and straiten one another. But if these vessels of flesh are straitened, let the open expanse of charity be enlarged. What then does He mean by, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour,” but that ye may labour no more? In a word, His promise is clear enough; forasmuch as He called those who were in labour, they might perchance enquire, for what profit they were called: “and,” saith He, “I will refresh you.”

“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me;” not to raise the fabric of the world, not to create all things visible and invisible, not in the world so created to work miracles and raise the dead; but, “that I am meek and lowly in heart.” Thou wishest to be great, begin from the least. Thou art thinking to construct some mighty fabric in height; first think of the foundation of humility. And how great soever a mass of building one may wish and design to place above it, the greater the building is to be, the deeper does he dig his foundation. The building in the course of its erection, rises up on high, but he who digs its foundation, must first go down very low. So then you see even a building is low before it is high, and the top is raised only after humiliation.

What is the top in the erection of that building which we are constructing? Whither will the highest point of this building reach? I say at once, even to the Vision of God. Ye see how high, how great a thing it is to see God. Whoso longeth after it, understands both what I say and what he hears. The Vision of God is promised to us, of the very God, the Supreme God. For this is good, to see Him who seeth. For they who worship false gods, see them easily; but they see them “who have eyes and see not.” But to us is promised the Vision of the Living and the Seeing God, that we may desire eagerly to see that God of whom Scripture saith, “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, doth he not consider?” Doth He then not hear, who hath made for thee that whereby thou hearest? and doth not He see, who hath created that whereby thou seest? Well therefore in the foregoing words of this very Psalm doth He say, “Understand therefore ye unwise among the people, and ye fools at length be wise.” For many men commit evil deeds whilst they think they are not seen by God. And it is difficult indeed for them to believe that He cannot see them; but they think that He will not. Few are found of such great impiety, that that should be fulfilled in them which is written, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” This is but the madness of a few. For as great piety belongs but to the few, no less also does great impiety. But the multitude of men speak thus: What! is God thinking now upon this, that He should know what I am doing in my house, and does God care for what I may choose to do upon my bed? Who says this? “Understand, ye unwise among the people, and ye fools at length be wise.” Because as being a man, it is a labour for thee to know all that takes place in thy house, and for all the doings and words of thy servants to reach thee; thinkest thou that it is a like labour for God to observe thee, who did not labour to create thee? Doth not He fix His eye upon thee, who made thine eye? Thou wast not, and He created thee and gave thee being; and doth not He care for thee now that thou art, who “calleth those things which be not as though they were”? Do not then promise thyself this. Whether thou wilt or no, He seeth thee, and there is no place whither thou canst hide thyself from His eyes. “For if thou goest up into heaven, He is there; if thou goest down into hell, He is there also.” Great is thy labour, whilst unwilling to depart from evil deeds: yet wishest not to be seen by God. Hard labour truly! Daily art thou wishing to do evil, and dost thou suspect that thou art not seen? Hear the Scripture which saith, “He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? He that formed the eye, doth not He consider?” Where canst thou hide thy evil deeds from the eyes of God? If thou wilt not depart from them, thy labour is great indeed.

Hear Him then who saith, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour.” Thou canst not end thy labour by flying. Dost thou choose to fly from Him, and not rather to Him? Find out then whither thou canst escape, and so fly. But if thou canst not fly from Him, for that He is everywhere present; fly (it is quite nigh) to God, who is present where thou art standing. Fly. Lo in thy flight thou hast passed the heavens, He is there; thou hast descended into hell, He is there; whatever deserts of the earth thou shalt choose, there is He, who hath said, “I fill heaven and earth.” If then He fills heaven and earth, and there is no place whither thou canst fly from Him; cease this thy labour, and fly to His presence, lest thou feel His coming. Take courage from the hope that thou shalt by well-living see Him, by whom even in thy evil living thou art seen. For in evil living thou canst be seen, thou canst not see; but by well-living thou art both seen and seest. For with how much more tender nearness will He who crowneth the worthy look on thee, who in His pity saw thee that He might call thee when unworthy? Nathanael said to the Lord whom as yet he did not know, “Whence knewest thou me?” The Lord said unto him, “When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee.” Christ saw thee in thine own shade; and will He not see thee in His Light? For what is, “When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee”? What does it mean? Call to mind the original sin of Adam, in whom we all die. When he first sinned, he made himself aprons of fig-leaves,signifying by these leaves the irritations of lust to which he had been reduced by sinning. Hence are we born; in this condition are we born; born in sinful flesh, which “the likeness of sinful flesh” alone can cure. Therefore “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” He came of this flesh, but He came not as other men. For the Virgin conceived Him not by lust, but by faith. He came into the Virgin, who was before the Virgin. He made choice of her whom He created, He created her whom He designed to choose. He brought to the Virgin fruitfulness: He took not away her unimpaired purity. He then who came to thee without the irritation of the leaves of the fig-tree, “when thou wast under the fig-tree,” saw thee. Make ready then to see Him in His height of glory, by whom in His pity thou wast seen. But because the top is high, think of the foundation. What foundation? dost thou say? “Learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart.” Dig this foundation of lowliness deep in thee, and so wilt thou attain to the crowning top of charity. “Turning to the Lord,” etc.

 
20 Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 28', “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” etc.

1. It seems strange to some, Brethren, when they hear the Lord say, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” And they consider that they who have fearlessly bowed their necks to this yoke, and have with much submission taken this burden upon their shoulders, are tossed about and exercised by so great difficulties in the world, that they seem not to be called from labour to rest, but from rest to labour rather; since the Apostle also saith, “All who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” So one will say, “How is the yoke easy, and the burden light,” when to bear this yoke and burden is nothing else, but to live godly in Christ? And how is it said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you”? and not rather said, “Come ye who are at ease and idle, that ye may labour.” For so he found those men idle and at ease, whom he hired into the vineyard, that they might bear the heat of the day. And we hear the Apostle under that easy yoke and light burden say, “In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes,” etc., and in another place of the same Epistle, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice have I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep:” and the rest of the perils, which may be enumerated indeed, but endured they cannot be but by the help of the Holy Spirit.

All these grievous and heavy trials which he mentioned, did he very frequently and abundantly sustain; but in very deed the Holy Spirit was with him in the wasting of the outward man, to renew the inner man from day to day, and by the taste of spiritual rest in the affluence of the delights of God to soften down by the hope of future blessedness all present hardships, and to alleviate all heavy trials. Lo, how sweet a yoke of Christ did he bear, and how light a burden; so that he could say that all those hard and grievous sufferings at the recital of which as just above every hearer shudders, were a “light tribulation;” as he beheld with the inward eyes, the eyes of faith, at how great a price of things temporal must be purchased the life to come, the escape from the everlasting pains of the ungodly, the full enjoyment, free from all anxiety, of the eternal happiness of the righteous. Men suffer themselves to be cut and burnt, that the pains not of eternity, but of some more lasting sore than usual, may be bought off at the priceof severer pain. For a languid and uncertain period of a very short repose, and that too at the end of life, the soldier is worn down by all the hard trials of war, restless it may be for more years in his labours, than he will have to enjoy his rest in ease. To what storms and tempests, to what a fearful and tremendous raging of sky and sea, do the busy merchantmen expose themselves, that they may acquire riches inconstant as the wind, and full of perils and tempests, greater even than those by which they were acquired! What heats, and colds, what perils, from horses, from ditches, from precipices, from rivers, from wild beasts, do huntsmen undergo, what pain of hunger and thirst, what straitened allowances of the cheapest and meanest meat and drink, that they may catch a beast! and sometimes after all, the flesh of the beast for which they endure all this is of no use for the table. And although a boar or a stag be caught, it is more sweet to the hunter’s mind because it has been caught, than it is to the eater’s palate because it is dressed. By what sharp corrections of almost daily stripes is the tender age of boys brought under! By what great pains even of watching and abstinence in the schools are they exercised, not to learn true wisdom, but for the sake of riches, and the honours of an empty show, that they may learn arithmetic, and other literature, and the deceits of eloquence!

Now in all these instances, they who do not love these things feel them as great severities; whereas they who love them endure the same, it is true, but they do not seem to feel them severe. For love makes all, the hardest and most distressing things, altogether easy, and almost nothing. How much more surely then and easily will charity do with a view to true blessedness, that which mere desire does as it can, with a view to what is but misery? How easily is any temporal adversity endured, if it be that eternal punishment may be avoided, and eternal rest procured! Not without good reason did that vessel of election say with exceeding joy, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” See then how it is that that “yoke is easy, and that burden light.” And if it be strait to the few who choose it, yet is it easy to all who love it. The Psalmist saith, “Because of the words of Thy lips I have kept hard ways.” But the things which are hard to those who labour, lose their roughness to those same men when they love. Wherefore it has been so arranged by the dispensation of the Divine goodness, that to “the inner man who is renewed from day to day,” placed no longer under the Law but under Grace, and freed from the burdens of numberless observances which were indeed a heavy yoke, but meetly imposed on a stubborn neck, every grievous trouble which that prince who is cast forth could inflict from without on the outward man, should through the easiness of a simple faith, and a good hope, and a holy charity, become light through the joy within. For to a good will nothing is so easy, as this good will to itself, and this is enough for God. How much soever therefore this world may rage, most truly did the angels exclaim when the Lord was born in the flesh, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will;”because “His yoke,” who was then born, “is easy, and His burden light.” And as the Apostle saith, “God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it.”

 
21 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 32', “Whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come.” Or, “on the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.”

There has been a great question raised touching the late lesson of the Gospel, to the solution of which I am unequal by any power of mine own; but “our sufficiency is of God,” to whatever degree we are capable of receiving His aid. First then consider the magnitude of the question; that when ye see the weight of it laid upon my shoulders, ye may pray in aid of my labours, and in the assistance which is vouchsafed to me, may find edification for your own souls. When “one possessed with a devil was brought to the Lord, blind and dumb, and He had healed him so that he could speak and see, and all the people were amazed and said, Is not this the Son of David? the Pharisees hearing it said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” In these words He wished it to be understood from their own confession, that, through their not believing in Him they had chosen to belong to the kingdom of the devil, which as being divided against itself could accordingly not stand. Let then the Pharisees make choice of which they will. If Satan cannot cast out Satan, they can find nothing to say against the Lord; but if he can, then let them much more look to themselves, and depart out of his kingdom, which as being divided against itself cannot stand.

But now that they may not think that it is the prince of the devils in whom the Lord Jesus Christ casteth out devils, let them attend to what follows; “And if I,” He saith, “by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges.” He spoke this undoubtedly of his disciples, the “children” of that people; who as being the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were well conscious that they had learnt no evil arts from their Good Master, that through the prince of the devils they should cast out devils. “Therefore,” He saith, “shall they be your judges.” They, He saith, the base and contemptible things of this world, in whom none of this artificial malice, but the holy simplicity of My power is seen; they shall be My witnesses, they shall be your judges. Then He subjoins, “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” What is this? “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils,” He saith, and your children, to whom I have given no hurtful and deceitful doctrine but a simple faith, can in no other way cast them out; no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you; whereby the kingdom of the devil is subverted, and ye also are subverted with it.

And after that He had said, “By whom do your children cast them out?” to show that in them it was His grace, not their own desert; He saith, “Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, except He first bind the strong man, and then He will spoil his house?” Your children, saith He, who either have already believed in Me, or who shall yet believe, and cast out devils, not through the prince of the devils, but through the simplicity of holiness, who assuredly either once were, or still are what ye are also, sinners and ungodly; and so in the house of the devil, and the vessels of the devil, how could they be rescued from him whom he held so firmly through the iniquity which reigned over them, unless he were bound by the chains of My justice, that I might take away from him his vessels which once were vessels of wrath, and make them vessels of mercy? This it is which the blessed Apostle also says when he rebukes the proud, and those who boast as it were of their own deserts, “For who maketh thee to differ?” That is, who maketh thee to differ from the mass of perdition derived from Adam and from the vessels of wrath. And that no man might say, “My own righteousness,” he says, “What hast thou, that thou didst not receive?” And on this point he says of himself also, “We also once were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” So then he himself was a vessel in the house of that strong one, strong in evil, when he was a persecutor of the Church, a “blasphemer, injurious, living in malice and envy,” as he confesses. But He who bound the strong one, took away from him this vessel of perdition, and made it a vessel of election.

Afterwards, that the unbelievers and ungodly, the enemies of the Christian name, might not suppose by reason of the divers heresies and schisms of those who under the Christian name gather together flocks of lost sheep, that the kingdom of Christ also is divided against itself, He next adds, “He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad.” He does not say, he who is under the outward profession of My Name; or the form of My Sacrament; but “he who is not with Me is against Me.” Nor doth He say, he who gathereth not under the outward profession of My Name; but “he who gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad.” Christ’s kingdom then is not divided against itself; but men try to divide that which was bought with the price of the Blood of Christ. “For the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity.” For if he depart not from iniquity, he belongeth not to the kingdom of Christ, even though he name the Name of Christ. To give then some illustrations for example’s sake, the spirit of covetousness, and the spirit of luxuriousness, because the one heaps together, and the other lavishes, are divided against themselves; yet they belong both to the kingdom of the devil. Among idolaters the spirit of Juno and the spirit of Hercules, are divided against themselves; and both belong to the kingdom of the devil. The heathen Christ’s enemy, and the Jew Christ’s enemy, are divided against themselves; and both belong to the kingdom of the devil. Arianus and Photinianus both are heretics, and both are divided against themselves. The Donatist and Maximianist both are heretics, and both divided against themselves. All men’s vices and errors that are contrary to each other are divided against themselves, and all belong to the kingdom of the devil; therefore his kingdom shall not stand. But the righteous and the ungodly, the believer and the unbeliever, the Catholic and the heretic, are indeed divided against themselves, but they do not belong all to the kingdom of Christ. “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” Let no one flatter himself upon a mere name. If he would that the Name of the Lord should profit him, let “him that calleth upon the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

But these words of the Gospel, though they had some obscurity, which I think by the Lord’s assistance I have explained, were yet not so difficult, as that which follows would seem to be. “Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” What then will become of those whom the Church desires to gain? When they have been reformed and come into the Church from whatsoever error, is the hope in the remission of all sins that is promised them a false hope? For who is not convicted of having spoken a word against the Holy Ghost, before he became a Christian or a Catholic? In the first place, are not they who are called Pagans, the worshippers of many and false gods, and the adorers of idols, forasmuch as they say that the Lord Christ wrought miracles by magical arts, are not they like these who said that He cast out devils through the prince of the devils? And again, when day by day they blaspheme our sanctification, what else blaspheme they but the Holy Ghost? What? Do not the Jews—they who spoke concerning our Lord what gave occasion to this very discourse—do they not even to the present day speak a word against the Holy Ghost, by denying that He is now in Christians, just as the others denied Him to be in Christ? For not even did they revile the Holy Ghost, by asserting either that He existed not, or that though He existed, yet that He was not God, but a creature; or that He had no power to cast out devils; they did not speak thus unworthily, or anything like it, of the Holy Ghost. For the Sadducees indeed denied the Holy Ghost; but the Pharisees maintained His existence against their heresy, but they denied that He was in the Lord Jesus Christ, who they thought cast out devils through the prince of the devils, whereas He did cast them out through the Holy Ghost. And hence, both Jews and whatsoever heretics there are who confess the Holy Ghost, but deny that He is in the Body of Christ, which is His One Only Church, none other than the One Catholic Church, are without doubt like the Pharisees who at that time although they confessed the existence of the Holy Ghost, yet denied that He was in Christ, whose works in casting out devils they attributed to the prince of devils. I say nothing of the fact that some heretics either boldly maintain that the Holy Ghost is not the Creator but a creature, as the Arians, and Eunomians, and Macedonians, or so entirely deny His existence, as to deny that God is Trinity, but assert that He is God the Father only, and that He is sometimes called the Son, and sometimes the Holy Ghost; as the Sabellians, whom some call Patripassians, because they hold that the Father suffered; and forasmuch as they deny that He has any Son, without doubt they deny His Holy Spirit also. The Photinians again who say that the Father only is God, and the Son a mere man, deny altogether that there is any third Person of the Holy Ghost.

It is plain then that the Holy Ghost is blasphemed both by Pagans, and by Jews, and by heretics. Are they then to be left, and accounted without all hope, since the sentence is fixed, “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come”? and are they only to be deemed free from the guilt of this most grievous sin who are Catholics from infancy? For all those who have believed the word of God, that they might become Catholics, came surely into the grace and peace of Christ, either from among the Pagans, or Jews, or heretics: and if there be no pardon for them for the word which they have spoken against the Holy Ghost, in vain do we promise and preach to men, to turn to God, and receive peace and remission of sins, whether in Baptism or in the Church. For it is not said, “It shall not be forgiven him except in baptism;” but, “it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

Some think that they only sin against the Holy Ghost, who having been washed in the laver of regeneration in the Church, and having received the Holy Spirit, as though unthankful for so great a gift of the Saviour, have plunged themselves afterwards into any deadly sin; as adultery, or murder, or an absolute apostasy, either altogether from the Christian name, or from the Catholic Church. But how this sense of it may be proved, I know not; since the place of repentance is not denied in the Church to any sins whatever; and the Apostle says that heretics themselves are to be reproved to this end, “If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” For what is the advantage of amendment without any hope of forgiveness? Finally, The Lord did not say, “the baptized Catholic who shall speak a word against the Holy Ghost;” but “he who,” that is whosoever speaketh, be he who he may, “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Whether then he be a heathen, or a Jew, or a Christian, or a heretic from among Jews or Christians, or whatsoever other title of error he have, it is not said, this man, or that man; but “whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost,” that is who blasphemeth the Holy Ghost, “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” But moreover if every error contrary to truth, and inimical to Christian peace, as we have shown before, “speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost;” and yet the Church doth not cease to reform and gather out of every error those who shall receive remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost Himself, whom they have blasphemed; I think I have discovered an important secret for the clearing up this so great a question. Let us seek then from the Lord the light of explanation.

Lift up then, Brethren, lift up unto me your ears, and your hearts unto the Lord. I tell you, my Beloved; perhaps there is not in all holy Scripture found a more important or more difficult question. Wherefore (that I may make you a confession about myself), I have always in my discourses to the people avoided the difficulty and embarrassment of this question; not because I had no ideas of any sort on the subject, for in a matter of such great importance, I would not be negligent in “asking,” and “seeking,” and “knocking;” but because I did not think I could do justice to that understanding of it which was in some degree opened to me, by words suggested at the moment. But as I listened to to-day’s lesson, upon which it was my duty to discourse to you, as the Gospel was being read, there was such a beating at my heart, that I believed that it was God’s will that you should hear something on the subject by my ministry.

First then, I pray you to consider and understand that the Lord did not say, “No blasphemy of the Spirit shall be forgiven,” or, “whosoever speaketh any word whatsoever against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him;” but “whosoever speaketh a word;” for had he said the former, there would have remained to us no subject of disputation at all. Since if no blasphemy, and no word which is spoken against the Holy Ghost, shall be forgiven unto men; the Church could not gain any one out of all the classes of ungodly sinners who gainsay the gift of Christ, and the sanctification of the Church, whether Jews, or heathens, or heretics of whatsoever sort, and some even of little knowledge in the Catholic Church itself. But God forbid that the Lord should say this: God forbid, I say, that the Truth should say that every blasphemy and every word which should be spoken against the Holy Ghost, hath no forgiveness neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

His will indeed was to exercise us by the difficulty of the question, not to deceive us by a false decision. Wherefore there is no necessity for any one to think, that every blasphemy or every word which is spoken against the Holy Ghost hath no remission; but necessary it plainly is, that there should be some certain blasphemy, and some word which if it be spoken against the Holy Ghost can never attain to pardon and forgiveness. For if we take it to mean “every word,” who then can be saved? But if again we think there is no such “word,” we contradict the Saviour. There is then without doubt some certain blasphemy and some word which if it be spoken against the Holy Ghost, shall not be forgiven. Now what this word is, it is the Lord’s will we should enquire; and therefore He hath not expressed it. His will, I say, was that it should be enquired into, not denied. For the style of the Scriptures is often such, that when anything is so expressed as not to be limited either to a universal or particular signification, it is not necessary that it should be understood universally, and not particularly. This proposition then would be expressed in its whole extent, that is, universally, if it were said, “All blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;” or, “Whosoever speaketh any word whatsoever against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” But it would be expressed partially, that is, particularly, if it were said, “Some certain blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” But because this proposition is laid down neither in a universal, nor a particular form (for it is not said, “Every blasphemy;” or some certain blasphemy of the Spirit; but only indefinitely, “blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;” neither is it said, “Whosoever speaketh any word whatever,” or “whosoever speaketh some certain word,” but indefinitely, “whosoever speaketh a word”), there is no necessity that we should understand “every blasphemy and every word;” but necessary it plainly is that the Lord designed some kind of blasphemy, and some word to be understood; though He would not express it, that, if we should receive any right understanding of it by asking, and seeking, and knocking, we might not entertain a low esteem of it.

1In order to seeing this more plainly, consider that which the same Lord also saith of the Jews, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin.” For this again was not said with any such meaning, as if He intended it to be understood that the Jews would have been without any sin at all, if He had not come and spoken to them. For indeed He found them full of and laden with sins. Wherefore He saith, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” Laden! with what, but with the burdens of sins and transgressions of the Law? “For the Law entered that sin might abound.” Since then He saith Himself in another place, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;” how would “they not have had sin if He had not come”? if it be not that this proposition being expressed neither universally, nor particularly, but indefinitely, does not constrain us to understand it of all sin? But certainly unless we understand that there was some sin which they would not have had if Christ had not come and spoken unto them, we must say that the proposition was false, which God forbid. He doth not say then, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had had no sin;” lest the Truth should lie. Nor again did He say definitely, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had some certain sin;” lest our devout earnestness should not be exercised. For in the full abundance of the Holy Scriptures we feed upon the plain parts, we are exercised by the obscure: by the one, hunger is driven away, and daintiness by the other. Seeing then that it is not said, “they had had no sin,” we need not be disturbed, though we acknowledge that the Jews would have been sinners, even if the Lord had not come. But yet because it is said, “If I had not come, they had not had sin;” it must needs be that they contracted, though not all, yet some sin which they had not before, from the coming of the Lord. And this verily is that sin, that they believed not in Him who was present with and spake to them, and that counting Him as an enemy because He spake the truth, they put Him besides to death. This sin so great and terrible it is clear they had not had if He had not come and spoken to them. As then when we hear the words, “They had not had sin;” we do not understand all, but some, sin; so when we hear in to-day’s lesson, “Blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;” we understand not all, but a certain kind of blasphemy; and when we hear, “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him;” we ought not to understand every, but some certain word.

1For in that He saith also in this very text, “But blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;” surely we must needs understand not blasphemy of every spirit, but the Holy Spirit. And though He had not expressed this anywhere else more plainly, who could be so silly as to understand it in any other way? According to the same rule of speech is this expression also understood, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.” For He doth not say in that place, and of the Holy Spirit; yet this is understood. Nor because He said of water and of the Spirit, is any one forced to understand it of every spirit. Wherefore when you hear, “But the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;” as you must not understand it of every spirit, so not of every blasphemy against the Spirit.

1I see that you are now wishing to hear, since it is not every blasphemy of the Spirit, what that blasphemy is which shall not be forgiven, and what that word is, since it is not every word which if it shall be spoken against the Holy Ghost, shall not be forgiven neither in this world, neither in the world to come. And for my part I should be willing to tell you at once, what you are so very intently waiting to hear; but bear for a while the delay which a more careful diligence requires, till by the Lord’s assistance I shall unfold the whole meaning of the passage before us. Now the other two Evangelists, Mark and Luke, when they spake of the same thing, did not say “blasphemy” or “a word,” that we might understand it not of every blasphemy, but of some sort of blasphemy; not every word, but some certain word. What then did they say? In Mark it is thus written, “Verily I say unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies, where-withsoever they shall blaspheme. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offence.” In Luke it is thus: “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven.” Is there any departure from the truth of the same proposition because of some diversity in the expression? For indeed there is no other reason why the Evangelists do not relate the same things in the same way, but that we may learn thereby to prefer things to words, not words to things, and to seek for nothing else in the speaker, but for his intention, to convey which only the words are used. For what real difference is there whether it is said, “Blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;” or “he that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.” Except perhaps that the same thing is declared more plainly in this last than in the other form; and so one Evangelist does not overthrow, but explains the other. Now “blasphemy of the Spirit” is an unevident expression; because it is not directly said what spirit; for every spirit is not the Holy Spirit. Thus it might be called “blasphemy of the spirit,” when a man blasphemes with the spirit; as that may be called “prayer of the spirit,” when one prays with the spirit. Whence the Apostle says, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.” But when it is said, “he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost,” these ambiguities are removed. So the expression, “hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offence;” what is it, but what according to Matthew is expressed, “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come”? The very same idea is expressed in different words and different forms of speech. And what is in Matthew, “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost,” that we might not understand it of anything but blasphemy, others have more clearly expressed, “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost.” Yet the same thing is said by all; nor did any one of them depart from the intention of the Speaker, for the sake of understanding which only are words spoken, and written, and read, and heard.

1But one may say, See I have admitted and understood that where the word “blasphemy” is used, and neither all, nor some certain blasphemy expressed, it may be understood either of all, or of some certain blasphemy, but not necessarily of all; but again if it be not understood of some, that that which is said would be untrue: so again if it is not said every or some certain word, it is not necessary that every word should be understood, but unless some word be understood, in no way can what is said be true. But when we read, “He that shall blaspheme,” how can I understand any certain blasphemy, when the word “blasphemy” is not used, or any certain word, when the word “word” is not used, but it seems to be said as it were generally, “He that shall blaspheme.” To this objection I reply thus. If it were said in this passage also, “He that shall blaspheme with any kind of blasphemy whatever against the Holy Ghost,” there would be no reason why we should think that some particular blasphemy was to be sought for, when we ought rather to understand all blasphemy; but because all blasphemy could not be meant, lest the hope of forgiveness in case of their amendment should be taken away from heathens, and Jews, and heretics, and all kinds of men, who by their divers errors and contradictions blaspheme against the Holy Ghost; it remains without a doubt, that in the passage where it is written, “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness,” he must be meant, not who hath in any way whatever blasphemed; but he who hath blasphemed in such a particular way, that he can never be pardoned.

1For as in that it is said, “God tempteth no man,” it is not to be understood that God tempteth no man with any kind, but only not with some certain kind of temptation; lest that be false, which is written, “The Lord your God tempteth you;” and lest we deny that Christ is God, or say that the Gospel is false, when we read that He asked His disciple “tempting him; but He Himself knew what He would do.” For there is a temptation which induces to sin, with which “God tempteth no man,” and there is a temptation which only proves our faith, with which even God vouchsafes to tempt. So when we hear, “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost,” we must not take it of every kind of blasphemy, as neither in the other place, of every kind of temptation.

1So again when we hear, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” we do not of course understand it of one who believes in such a way “as the devils believe and tremble;” nor of those who receive baptism in such sort as Simon Magus, who though he could be baptized, could not be saved. As then when He said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” He had not in his view all who believe and are baptized, but some only; those, to wit, who are settled in that faith, which, according to the Apostle’s distinction, “worketh by love:” so when he said, “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness,” he did not intend every kind, but a specific sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, by which whosoever shall be bound, he shall never by any remission be loosed.

1That expression also of His, “He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood dwelleth in Me, and I in him,” how must we understand? Can we include in these words those even of whom the Apostle says, “that they eat and drink judgment to themselves;” when they eat this flesh and drink this blood? What! did Judas the impious seller and betrayer of his Master (though, as Luke the Evangelist declares more plainly, he ate and drank with the rest of His disciples this first Sacrament of His body and blood, consecrated by the Lord’s hands), did he “dwell in Christ and Christ in him”? Do so many, in fine, who either in hypocrisy eat that flesh and drink that blood, or who after they have eaten and drunk become apostate, do they “dwell in Christ or Christ in them”? Yet assuredly there is a certain manner of eating that Flesh and drinking that Blood, in which whosoever eateth and drinketh, “he dwelleth in Christ and Christ in him.” As then he doth not “dwell in Christ and Christ in him,” who “eateth the Flesh and drinketh the Blood of Christ” in any manner whatsoever, but only in some certain manner, to which He doubtless had regard when He spake these words. So in this expression also, “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness,” he is not guilty of this unpardonable sin, who shall blaspheme in any way whatever, but in that particular way, which it is His will, who uttered this true and terrible sentence, that we should seek out and understand.

1Now as to what that mode, or immoderateness rather, of blasphemy is, what that particular blasphemy, and what that word against the Holy Ghost, the order of my discourse requires me to say what I think, and not to put off any longer your expectation which has been so long but so necessarily deferred. Ye know, Dearly beloved, that in that invisible and incorruptible Trinity, which our faith and the Church Catholic maintains and preaches, God the Father is not the Father of the Holy Spirit, but of the Son; and that God the Son is not the Son of the Holy Spirit, but of the Father; but that God the Holy Spirit is the Spirit not of the Father only, or of the Son only, but of the Father and the Son. And that this Trinity, although the Property and particular Subsistence of each person is preserved, is yet, because of the undivided and inseparable Essence or Nature of Eternity, Truth, and Goodness, not three Gods but One God. And by this means, according to our capacity, and as far as it is granted us to see these things “through a glass darkly,” especially being such as we now are, there is conveyed to us the idea of Origination in the Father, Nativity in the Son, and the Communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, and in the Three Equality. By That then which is the Bond of communion between the Father and the Son, it is Their pleasure that we should have communion both among ourselves and with Them, and to gather us together in one by that same Gift, which One They both have, that is, by the Holy Spirit, at once God and the Gift of God. For in This are we reconciled to the Divinity, and take delight in It. For what would the knowledge of whatever good we know profit us, unless we also loved it? But as it is by the truth that we learn, so is it by charity that we love, that so we may attain also to a fuller knowledge, and enjoy in blessedness what we know. “Love moreover is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” And because it is through sin that we are alienated from the possession of true good, “Love covereth a multitude of sins.” So then the Father is Himself the True Origin to the Son, who is the Truth, and the Son is the Truth, originating from the True Father, and the Holy Spirit is Goodness, shed abroad from the Good Father and the Good Son; but in all Three the Divinity is equal, and the Unity Inseparable.

1First then in order to our receiving eternal life which shall be given at the last, there comes to us a gift from God’s goodness from the beginning of our faith, to wit, the remission of sins. For while they remain, there remains in some sort enmity against God, and alienation from Him, which comes from what is evil in us; since Scripture does not speak falsely, which says, “Your sins separate between you and God.” He does not then bestow on us His good things, except He take away our evil things. And the former increase in proportion as the latter are diminished; nor will the one be perfected, till the other be brought to an end. But now that the Lord Jesus forgives sins by the Holy Ghost, just as by the Holy Ghost He casts out devils, may be understood by this, that after His Resurrection from the dead, when He had said to His disciples, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” He immediately subjoined, “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they shall be retained.” For that regeneration also, in which there is a remission of all past sins, is wrought by the Holy Ghost, as the Lord saith, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” But it is one thing to be born of the Spirit, another to be nourished by the Spirit; just as it is one thing to be born of the flesh, which happens when the mother is delivered of her child; another to be nourished by the flesh, which happens when she gives suck to her infant, who turns himself that he may drink with pleasure thither whence he was born, to have life; that he may receive the support of life from thence, whence he received the beginning of his birth. We must believe then that the first blessing of God’s goodness in the Holy Ghost is the remission of sins. Whence the preaching of John the Baptist, who was sent as the forerunner of the Lord, also begins with it. For thus it is written, “In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judæa, saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Hence too the beginning of our Lord’s preaching, as we read, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now John, amongst the other things which he spake to those who came to be baptized by him, said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” The Lord also said, “John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence,” even at Pentecost. Now as to John’s expression, “with fire,” though tribulation also might be understood, which believers were to suffer for the name of Christ; yet may we reasonably think that the same Holy Spirit is signified also under the name of “fire.” Wherefore when He came it is said, “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” Hence also the Lord Himself said, “I am come to send fire on the earth.” Hence also the Apostle saith, “Fervent in the spirit;” for from Him comes the fervour of love. “For it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” And the contrary to this fervour is what the Lord said, “The love of many shall wax cold.” Now perfect love is the perfect gift of the Holy Spirit. But the first “gift” is that which is concerned with the remission of sins; by which blessing “we are delivered from the power of darkness;” and the prince of this world, who worketh in the children of disobedience” by no other power than the fellowship and the bond of sin, is “cast out” by our faith. For by the Holy Spirit, by whom the people of God are gathered together into one, is the unclean spirit who is divided against himself cast out.

20. Against this gratuitous gift, against this grace of God, does the impenitent heart speak. This impenitence then is “the blasphemy of the Spirit, which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” For against the Holy Spirit, by whom they whose sins are all forgiven are baptized, and whom the Church hath received, that “whosesoever sins she remits, they may be remitted,” does he speak, whether in the thought only, or also in the tongue, a very heinous and exceedingly ungodly word, who “when the patience of God leadeth him to repentance, after his hardness and impenitent heart treasureth up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds.” This impenitence then, for so by some one general name may we call both this blasphemy and the word against the Holy Ghost which hath no forgiveness for ever; this impenitence, I say, against which both the herald and the Judge cried out, saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;” against which the Lord first opened the mouth of the Gospel preaching, and against which He foretold that the same Gospel was to be preached in all the world, when He said to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead, “it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem:” this impenitence, in one word, hath no forgiveness “neither in this world, nor in the world to come;” for that repentance only obtaineth forgiveness in this world, that it may have its effect in the world to come.

2But this impenitence or impenitent heart may not be pronounced upon, as long as a man lives in the flesh. For we are not to despair of any so long as “the patience of God leadeth the ungodly to repentance,” and doth not hurry him out of this life; “God, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should return from his ways and live.” He is a heathen today; but how knowest thou whether he may not be a Christian to-morrow? He is a heretic to-day; but what if to-morrow he follow the Catholic truth? He is a schismatic to-day; but what if to-morrow he embrace Catholic peace? What if they, whom thou observest now in any kind of error that can be, and whom thou condemnest as in most desperate case, what if before they end this life, they repent and find the true life in that which is to come? Wherefore, Brethren, let also what the Apostle says urge you to this. “Judge nothing before the time.” For this blasphemy of the Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness (which I have understood to be not every kind of blasphemy, but a particular sort, and that as I have said or discovered, or even as I think clearly shown to be the case, the persevering hardness of an impenitent heart), cannot be taken hold of in any one, I repeat it, as long as he is still in this life.

2And let it not seem absurd, that whereas a man who perseveres in hardened impenitence even to the end of this life, speaks long and much against this grace of the Holy Spirit; yet the Gospel has called this so long contradiction of an impenitent heart, as though it were something of short duration, “a word,” saying, “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” For though this blasphemy be long continued, and made up of, and drawn out at length in very many words, yet it is the manner of Scripture to call even many words “a word.” For no prophet ever spoke one word only; yet we read, “the word which came to such and such a prophet.” And the Apostle says, “Let the elders be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” He does not say, “in words,” but, “in the word.” And St. James, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” He again does not say, “of the words,” but, “of the word;” although so many words out of the Holy Scriptures are read, and spoken, and heard in the Church at her celebrations and solemnities. As therefore, how long a time soever any of us have laboured in preaching the Gospel, he is not called a preacher of the words, but of the word; and how long time soever any of you may have attentively and diligently listened to our preaching, he is called a most earnest “hearer” not of the words, but “of the word;” so after the style of the Scripture and the custom of the Church, whoso throughout his whole life in the flesh, to whatever length it may be extended, shall have spoken no matter how many words, whether by mouth, or the thought only with an impenitent heart, against that remission of sins which is granted in the Church, he speaks “a word” against the Holy Ghost.

2Therefore not only every word spoken against the Son of Man, but, in fact, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; because where there is not this sin of an impenitent heart against the Holy Ghost, by whom sins are remitted in the Church, all other sins are forgiven. But how shall that sin be forgiven, which hinders the forgiveness of other sins also? All sins then are forgiven to them in whom is not this sin, which shall never be forgiven; but to him in whom it is, since this sin is never forgiven, neither are other sins forgiven; because the remission of all is hindered by the bond of this one. It is not then that “whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man shall be forgiven,” but “whoso speaketh against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven,” for that in the Trinity the Holy Ghost is greater than the Son, which no heretic even has ever maintained; but since whosoever he be that resisteth the truth and blasphemeth the Truth, which is Christ, even after such a manifestation of Himself among men, as that the Word who is the Son of Man and very Christ, “became flesh and dwelt among us;” if he have not also spoken that word of the impenitent heart against the Holy Ghost, of whom it is said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit;” and again, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;” that is, if he shall repent, he shall thereby receive the gift of the remission of all his sins, and of this also, that he “hath spoken a word against the Son of Man,” because to the sin of ignorance, or obstinacy, or blasphemy of whatever kind, he hath not added the sin of impenitence against the gift of God, and the grace of regeneration or reconciliation, which is conferred in the Church by the Holy Spirit.

2Wherefore, neither must we imagine, as some do, that the word which is spoken against the Son of Man is forgiven, but that which is spoken against the Holy Ghost is not forgiven, because Christ became the Son of Man by reason of His assuming flesh, in which respect the Holy Ghost of course is greater, who in His Own Substance is equal to the Father and the Only-begotten Son according to His Divinity, according to which also the Only-begotten Son Himself is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. For if this were the reason, surely nothing would have been said of any other kind of blasphemy, that that only might appear capable of forgiveness, which is spoken against the Son of Man, regarded only as man. But forasmuch as it is first said, “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men;” which in another Evangelist is also thus expressed, “All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewithsoever they shall blaspheme;” without doubt, that blasphemy also which is spoken against the Father is included in that general expression; and yet that alone is laid down as unpardonable, which is spoken against the Holy Ghost. What! did the Father also take the form of a servant, that in this respect the Holy Ghost should be greater than He? No surely: but after the universal mention of all sins and of all blasphemy, He wished to express more prominently the blasphemy which is spoken against the Son of Man for this reason, because although men should be even bound in that sin which He mentioned when He said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin:” which sin also in the Gospel according to John He shows to be a very grievous one, when He says of the Holy Spirit Himself, when He promised that He would send Him, “He shall reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believed not on Me:” yet if that hardness of the impenitent heart have not spoken a word against the Holy Ghost, even this which is spoken against the Son of Man shall be forgiven.

2Here perhaps some one may ask, “whether the Holy Ghost only forgiveth sins, and not the Father and the Son also?” I answer, Both the Father and the Son forgive them. For the Son Himself saith of the Father, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” And we say to Him in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” And amongst the other petitions we ask this, saying, “Forgive us our debts.” And again of Himself He saith, “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” “If then,” you will say, “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit forgive sins, why is that impenitence which shall never be forgiven, said to relate only to the blasphemy of the Spirit, as though he who should be bound in this sin of impenitence should seem to resist the gift of the Holy Spirit, because by that gift is wrought the remission of sins?” Now on this point, I will also ask, Whether Christ only cast out devils, or the Father and the Holy Spirit also? For if Christ only, what means His saying, “The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” For so it is said, “He doeth the works,” as if the Son doeth them not, but the Father who dwelleth in the Son. Why then in another place doth He say, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” And a little after, “For what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” But when in another place He says, “If I had not done amongst them the works which none other man did,” He speaks as if He did them alone. Now if these things are so expressed, as that nevertheless the works of the Father and the Son are inseparable, what must we believe of the Holy Spirit, but that He also worketh equally with them? For in that very place, from which this question arose which we are discussing, when the Son was casting out devils, He yet said, “If I in the Holy Spirit cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”

2And here perhaps one may say, “That the Holy Spirit is rather given by the Father and the Son, than that He worketh anything by His own will, and that this is the scope of the words, “In the Holy Spirit I cast out devils,” because not the Spirit Himself, but Christ in the Spirit, did it; so that the expression, “I cast out in the Holy Spirit,” might be understood as if it were said, “I cast out by the Holy Spirit.” For this is the usual style of the Scriptures, “They killed in the sword,” that is, by the sword. They “burnt in the fire,” that is, by the fire. “And Joshua took knives of flints, in which to circumcise,” that is, by which to circumcise, “the children of Israel.” But let those who on this account take from the Holy Spirit His proper power, look to that which we read to have been spoken by the Lord, “The Spirit bloweth where It listeth.” And as to what the Apostle says, “But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will;” it might be feared, lest one imagine that the Father and the Son do not work them: whereas amongst these works he has expressly mentioned both the “gifts of healings,” and the “workings of miracles,” in which surely is included also the driving out of devils. But when he adds the words, “Dividing to every man severally as He will;” does he not clearly show also the Power of the Holy Spirit, yet as plainly inseparable from the Father and the Son? If then these things are so expressed, as that notwithstanding the operation of the Trinity is understood to be inseparable: so that when the operation of the Father is spoken of, it is understood that He does not exercise it without the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and when the operation of the Son is spoken of, it is not without the Father and the Holy Spirit; and when the operation of the Holy Spirit is spoken of, it is not without the Father and the Son; it is sufficiently clear to those who have a sound faith, or who even understand as they best can, both that the words, “He doeth the works,” are spoken of the Father, in that from Him is also the first principle of the works, from whom is the existence of the Persons who co-operate in working: for that both the Son is born of Him, and the Holy Spirit proceedeth from Him, as the First Beginning, of whom the Son is born, and with whom He hath one Spirit in common; and again that when the Lord said, “If I had not done among them the works which none other did,” He did not speak in reference to the Father and the Spirit, as that They did not co-operate with Him in those works; but to men by whom we read of many miracles having been done, but by none such miracles as the Son did. And what the Apostle says of the Holy Spirit, “But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will,” is not said, because the Father and the Son do not co-operate with Him; but because in these works there are not many spirits, but One Spirit, and in His divers operations He is not diverse from Himself.

2And yet it is not without cause, but with reason and with truth said, that the Father, and not the Son and the Holy Spirit, said, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Nevertheless, we do not deny that the Son and the Holy Spirit co-operated in working this miracle of the voice sounding from heaven, though we know that it belongs to the Person of the Father only. For though the Son bearing flesh, was there conversing with men on earth, He was not the less on that account in the Bosom of the Father also as the Only-Begotten Word, when that Voice came out of the cloud; nor could it be either wisely and through the Spirit believed, that God the Father separated the operation of these audible and passing words from the co-operation of His Wisdom and His Spirit. In the same way when we say most rightly, that not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son walked upon the sea, who only had that flesh and those feet which rested on the waves; yet who would deny that the Father and the Holy Spirit co-operated in the work of so great a miracle? For so again we say most truly that the Son only took this our flesh, not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, and yet he hath no true wisdom who denies that the Father, or the Holy Spirit co-operated in the work of His Incarnation which belongeth only to the Son. So also we say that neither the Father, nor the Son, but the Holy Spirit only appeared both in the “form of a dove,” and in “tongues as it were of fire;” and gave to those to whom He came the power to tell in many and various tongues “the wonderful works of God;” and yet from this miracle which regards the Holy Spirit only, we cannot separate the co-operation of the Father and the Only-Begotten Word. So also the Whole Trinity work the works of each several Person in the Trinity, the Two co-operating in the work of the Other, through a perfect harmony of operation in the Three, and not through any deficiency of the power to work effectually in One. And since this is so, hence it is that the Lord Jesus cast out devils in the Holy Spirit. Not that He was not able to accomplish this alone, or that He assumed that aid as being insufficient for this work; but it was meet that the spirit who is divided against himself should be driven out by that Spirit, which the Father and the Son who are not divided in themselves have in common.

2And thus sins, because they are not forgiven out of the Church, must be forgiven by that Spirit, by whom the Church is gathered together into one. In fact, if any one out of the Church repent him of his sins, and for this so great sin whereby he is an alien from the Church of God, has an heart impenitent, what doth that other repentance profit him? seeing by this alone he speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, whereby he is alienated from the Church, which hath received this gift, that in her remission of sins should be given in the Holy Ghost? Which remission though it be the work of the Whole Trinity, is yet understood specially to belong to the Holy Spirit. For He is the Spirit of the adoption of sons, “in whom we cry Abba, Father;” that we may be able to say to Him, “Forgive us our debts.” And, “Hereby we know” as the Apostle John says, “that Christ dwelleth in us, by His Spirit which He hath given us.” “The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” For to Him appertains the fellowship, by which we are made the one body of the One only Son of God. Whence it is written, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit.” With a view to this fellowship they to whom He first came spake with the tongues of all nations. Because as by tongues the fellowship of mankind is more closely united; so it behoved that this fellowship of the sons of God and members of Christ which was to be among all nations should be signified by the tongues of all nations; that as at that time he was known to have received the Holy Ghost, who spake with the tongues of all nations; so now he should acknowledge that he has received the Holy Ghost, who is held by the bond of the peace of the Church, which is spread throughout all nations. Whence the Apostle says, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

2Now that He is the Spirit of the Father, the Son Himself saith, “He proceedeth from the Father.” And in another place, “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” And that He is the Spirit of the Son also the Apostle saith, “God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father;” that is, making you cry. For it is we that cry; but in Him, that is, by His shedding abroad love in our hearts, without which whoso crieth, crieth in vain. Whence he says again, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” To which Person then in the Trinity could the communion of this fellowship peculiarly appertain, but to that Spirit which is common to the Father and the Son?

30. That they who have separated from the Church have not this Spirit, the Apostle Jude has declared most plainly, saying, “Who separate themselves, natural, having not the Spirit.” Whence the Apostle Paul reproving those even in the Church itself, who by the names of men, though having a place in her unity, were raising a kind of schism, says amongst other things, “But the natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This shows his meaning, “doth not perceive,” that is doth not receive the word of knowledge. These as having a place in the Church, he speaks of as babes, not yet spiritual, but still carnal, and such as are to be fed with milk, not with meat. “Even,” he says, “as unto babes in Christ, have I given you milk and not meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” When we say, “not yet,” we must not despair, if that which is “not yet” tends to be. For he says, “ye are yet carnal.” And showing how it is that they are carnal, he says, “For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” And again more plainly, “For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?” These then, that is, Paul and Apollos, agreed together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace; and yet because the Corinthians began to divide them among themselves, and “to be puffed up for one against another,” they are said to be men—carnal and natural men, not able to receive the things of the Spirit of God; and yet because they are not separated from the Church, they are called “babes in Christ;” for indeed he desired that they should be either Angels, or even Gods, whom he reproved because they were men, that is, in those contentions, “They savoured not the things which be of God, but the things which be of men.” But of those who are separated from the Church it is not merely said, “perceiving not the things of the Spirit of God,” lest it should be referred to the perception of knowledge; but it is said, “Having not the Spirit.” For it does not follow, that he who hath it, should also by knowledge perceive what he hath.

3The “babes” then “in Christ” who have yet place in the Church, who are still natural and carnal, and cannot “perceive,” that is, understand and know what they have, have this Spirit. For how could they be babes in Christ except they were born anew of the Holy Spirit? Nor ought it to seem any wonder that one may have something, and yet not know what he hath. For to say nothing of the Divinity of the Almighty, and the Unity of the Unchangeable Trinity, who can easily perceive by knowledge what the soul is; and yet who is there that hath not a soul? Finally, that we may know most certainly that “babes in Christ,” who do not “perceive the things of the Spirit of God,” have notwithstanding the Spirit of God; let us look how the Apostle Paul, when a little while after he is rebuking them, saith, “Know ye not that ye are the temples of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” This surely he would in no wise say to those who are separated from the Church, who are described as “having not the Spirit.”

3But neither can he be said to be in the Church, and to belong to that fellowship of the Spirit, who is mixed up with Christ’s sheep by a bodily intercourse only in deceitfulness of heart. For the “Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit.” Wherefore whosoever are baptized in the congregations or separations rather of schismatics or heretics, although they have not been born again of the Spirit, like as it were to Ishmael, who was Abraham’s son after the flesh; not like Isaac, who was his son after the Spirit, because by promise; yet when they come to the Catholic Church, and are joined to the fellowship of the Spirit which without the Church they beyond doubt had not, the washing of the flesh is not repeated in their case. For “this form of godliness” was not wanting to them even when they were without; but there is added to them “the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” which cannot be given but within. Before they were Catholics indeed, they were as they of whom the Apostle says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” For the visible form of the branch may exist even when separated from the vine; but the invisible life of the root cannot be had, but in the vine. Wherefore the bodily sacraments, which even they who are separated from the Unity of Christ’s Body bear and celebrate, may give “the form of godliness;” but the invisible and spiritual power of godliness cannot in any wise be in them, just as sensation does not accompany a man’s limb, when it is amputated from the body.

3And since this is so, remission of sins, seeing it is not given but by the Holy Spirit, can only be given in that Church which hath the Holy Spirit. For this is the effect of the remission of sins, that the prince of sin, the spirit who is divided against himself, should no more reign in us, and that being delivered from the power of the unclean spirit, we should thenceforward be made the temple of the Holy Spirit, and receive Him, by whom we are cleansed through receiving pardon, to dwell in us, to work, increase, and perfect righteousness. For at His first coming, when they who had received Him spake with the tongues of all nations, and the Apostle Peter addressed those who were present in amazement, they were pricked in heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” show us. “And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” In the Church truly in which was the Holy Ghost, were both brought to pass, that is, both the remission of sins, and the receiving of this gift. And therefore was it “In the Name of Jesus Christ;” because when He promised the same Holy Ghost; He said, “Whom the Father will send in My Name.” For the Spirit dwelleth in no man without the Father and the Son; as neither doth the Son without the Father and the Holy Spirit, nor the Father without them. Their indwelling is inseparable, as their operation is inseparable; but sometimes they manifest themselves separately by symbols borrowed from the creatures, not in their own substance; just as they are pronounced separately by the voice in syllables which occupy separately their own spaces, and yet they are not separated from each other by any intervals, or moments of time. For they never can be pronounced together, whereas they can never exist, except together. But as I have already said, and not once only, the remission of sins, whereby the kingdom of the spirit which is divided against himself is overthrown and driven out, and the fellowship of the unity of the Church of God, out of which this remission of sins is not, are regarded as the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit, with the cooperation doubtless of the Father and the Son, because the Holy Spirit is Himself in some sort the fellowship of the Father and the Son. For the Father is not possessed as Father by the Son and the Holy Spirit in common; because He is not the Father of Both. And the Son is not possessed as Son by the Father and the Holy Spirit in common; because He is not the Son of Both. But the Holy Spirit is possessed as the Spirit by the Father and the Son in common, because He is the One Spirit of Both.

3Whosoever therefore shall be guilty of impenitence against the Spirit, in whom the unity and fellowship of the communion of the Church is gathered together, shall never have forgiveness; because he has stopped the source of forgiveness against himself, and deservedly shall he be condemned with the spirit, which is divided against himself, who is himself also divided against the Holy Spirit which is not divided against Himself. And of this the very testimonies of the Gospel warn us, would we with good attention search them. For according to Luke the Lord does not say, “That he who blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven:” in that place where He is answering those who said that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils. Whence it would seem that this was not said once only by the Lord; but we must not carelessly pass over the consideration of the occasion on which this last also was spoken. For He was speaking of those who should have confessed or denied Him before men, when He said, “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the Angels of God. But he that denieth Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God.” And lest from this the salvation of the Apostle Peter should be despaired of, he immediately subjoined, “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven; blasphemeth,” that is, with that blasphemy of an impenitent heart, by which resistance is made to remission of sins which is granted in the Church by the Holy Ghost. And this blasphemy Peter had not, who presently repented, when “he wept bitterly,” and who after he had overcome the spirit who is divided against himself, and who had desired to “have him to harass him,” and against whom the “Lord prayed for him that his faith might not fail,” even received the Very Holy Spirit whom he resisted not, that not only his sin might be forgiven him, but that through him remission of sins might be preached and dispensed.

3And in the narrative of the two other Evangelists, the occasion of speaking out this sentence of the blasphemy of the Spirit arose from the mention of the unclean spirit, who is divided against himself. For it had been said of the Lord, that “He cast out devils by the prince of the devils.” In that place the Lord says, that “by the Holy Spirit He casteth out devils,” that so the spirit who is not divided against Himself may overcome and cast out him who is divided against himself; but that that man would abide in his perdition, who refuses through impenitence to pass over into His peace, who is not divided against Himself. For thus runs the narrative of Mark; “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offence.” When he had delivered these words of the Lord, he then subjoined his own, saying, “Because they said He hath an unclean spirit;” that He might show that the cause of His saying this arose hence, because they had said that “He cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Not that this was a blasphemy which shall not be forgiven, forasmuch as even this shall be forgiven, if a right repentance follow it; but because, as I have said, there arose hence a cause for that sentence to be delivered by the Lord, since mention had been made of the unclean spirit whom the Lord shows to be divided against himself, because of the Holy Spirit who is not only not divided against Himself, but who also makes those whom He gathers together undivided, by forgiving those sins which are divided against themselves, and by inhabiting those who are cleansed, that it may be with them, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” And this gift of forgiveness none resists, but he who has the hardness of an impenitent heart. For in another place also the Jews said of the Lord that He had a devil, yet He spake nothing there of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; because they did not so bring forward the mention of the unclean spirit as that he could be shown out of their own mouths to be divided against himself, as Beelzebub, by whom they said that devils could be cast out.

3But in this passage according to Matthew, the Lord far more plainly explained what he intended to be understood here; namely, that he it is who speaks a word against the Holy Ghost, who with an impenitent heart resists the Unity of the Church, where in the Holy Spirit is given the remission of sins. For this spirit they have not, as has been said already, who even though they bear and handle the sacraments of Christ, are separated from His congregation. For when He spoke of the division of Satan against Satan, and how that He Himself cast out devils by the Holy Spirit, that Spirit, namely, which is not, as the other, divided against Himself; lest any one should think because of those who gather together their irregular assemblies under the Name of Christ, but without His fold, that the kingdom of Christ also was divided against itself, He immediately added, “He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad,” that He might show that they did not belong to Him who by gathering “without” wished not to “gather” but “to scatter abroad.” And afterwards He subjoined, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” What is this “wherefore?” Shall the blasphemy of the Spirit only not be forgiven, because “he who is not with Christ is against Him, and he who gathereth not with Him scattereth abroad?” Even so, doubtless. For he that gathereth not with Him, howsoever he may gather under His name, hath not the Holy Ghost.

3Thus then hath He altogether forced us to understand that the remission of no sin nor blasphemy can be effected anywhere else, save in the gathering together of Christ, which scattereth not abroad. For it is gathered together in the Holy Spirit, which is not as that unclean spirit, divided against Himself. And therefore all congregations, or dispersions rather, which call themselves Churches of Christ, and are divided against themselves and contrary one to the other, and hostile to the congregation of Unity, which is His True Church, do not therefore belong to His congregation, because they seem to have His Name. But they might belong to it, if the Holy Spirit in whom this congregation is joined together, were divided against Himself. But because this is not so (“for he that is not with Christ is against Him, and he that gathereth not with Him scattereth abroad”); therefore all manner of sin and all blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men in this congregation, which Christ gathereth together in the Holy Spirit, who is not divided against Himself. But that blasphemy of the Spirit Himself, whereby in an impenitent heart resistance is made to this so great gift of God even to the end of this present life, shall not be forgiven. For though a man so oppose himself to the truth, as to resist God speaking, not in the Prophets, but in His Only Son (since for our sakes He was pleased that He should be the Son of Man, that He might speak to us in Him), yet shall he be forgiven when in repentance he shall have recourse to the goodness of God, who forasmuch as He “willeth not the death of the wicked, but rather that he should turn from his way and live,” hath given the Holy Spirit to His Church, that whosoever forgiveth sins in the Spirit, they should be forgiven. But whoso stands out as an enemy to this gift, so as not in repentance to seek it, but by impenitence to gainsay it, his sin becomes unpardonable; not sin of any one specific kind, but the contempt, or even opposing of the remission of sins itself. And so a word is spoken against the Holy Spirit, when men never come from the dispersion to the congregation which has received the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins. Unto which congregation if any come without hypocrisy, though it be through the ministry of a wicked clergyman, a reprobate and a hypocrite, so he be a Catholic minister, he shall receive remission of sins in this Holy Spirit. For such is the working of this Spirit in the Holy Church, even in this present time, when the corn is as it were being threshed with the chaff, that he despises no man’s sincere confession, and is deceived by no man’s false pretences, and so flies from the reprobate, as yet by their ministry to gather together those that are approved. One refuge then there is against unpardonable blasphemy, that we take heed of an impenitent heart; and that it be not thought that repentance can avail ought, unless the Church be kept to, in which remission of sins is given, and the fellowship of the Spirit is preserved in the bond of peace.

3I have through the mercy and assistance of the Lord handled, as I best was able, this most difficult question, if indeed I have been able to do it in any measure. Nevertheless, whatever I have not been able to apprehend in the difficulties of it, let it not be imputed to the truth itself, which is a healthful exercise to the godly, even when it is hidden, but to my infirmity, who either could not see what others might have understood, or could not explain what I did understand. But for that which perhaps I have been able to discover by force of meditation, and to develop in words, to Him must the thanks be given, from whom I have sought, from whom I have asked, unto whom I have knocked, that I might have wherewithal to be nourished myself in meditation, and to minister to you in speaking.

 
22 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 33', “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good,” etc.

1. The Lord Jesus hath admonished us, that we be good trees, and that so we may be able to bear good fruits. For He saith, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit.” When He says, “Make the tree good, and his fruit good;” this of course is not an admonition, but a wholesome precept, to which obedience is necessary. But when He saith, “Make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt;” this is not a precept that thou shouldest do it; but an admonition, that thou shouldest beware of it. For He spoke against those, who thought that although they were evil, they could speak good things or have good works. This the Lord Jesus saith is impossible. For the man himself must first be changed, in order that his works may be changed. For if a man abide in his evil state, he cannot have good works; if he abide in his good state, he cannot have evil works.

But who was found good by the Lord, since “Christ died for the ungodly”? He found them all corrupt trees, but to those who “believed in His Name, He gave power to become the sons of God.” Whosoever then now is a good man, that is, a good tree, was found corrupt, and made good. And if when He came He had chosen to root up the corrupt trees, what tree would have remained which did not deserve to be rooted up? But He came first to impart mercy, that He might afterwards exercise judgment, to whom it is said, “I will sing unto Thee O Lord, of mercy and judgment.” He gave then remission of sins to those who believed in Him, He would not even take account with them of past reckonings. He gave remission of sins, He made them good trees. He delayed the ax, He gave security.

Of this ax does John speak, saying, “Now is the ax laid unto the root of the trees; every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire.” With this ax does the Householder in the Gospel threaten, saying, “Behold these three years I come to this tree, and find no fruit on it.” Now I must clear the ground; wherefore let it be cut down. And the husbandman intercedes, saying, “Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then Thou shalt come and cut it down.” So the Lord hath visited mankind as it were three years, that is, at three several times. The first time was before the Law; the second under the Law; the third is now, which is the time of grace. For if He did not visit mankind before the Law, whence was Abel, and Enoch, and Noe, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, whose Lord He was pleased to be called? And He to whom all nations belonged, as though He were the God of three men only, said, “I am the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.” But if He did not visit under the Law, He would not have given the Law itself. After the Law, came the very Master of the house in person; He suffered, and died, and rose again; He gave the Holy Spirit, He made the Gospel to be preached throughout all the world, and yet a certain tree remained unfruitful. Still is there a certain portion of mankind, which doth not yet amend itself. The husbandman intercedes; the Apostle prays for the people; “I bow my knees,” he saith, “unto the Father for you, that being rooted and grounded in love, ye may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” By bowing the knees, he intercedes with the Master of the house for us, that we be not rooted up. Therefore since He must necessarily come, let us take care that He find us fruitful. The digging about the tree is the lowliness of the penitent. For every ditch is low. The dunging it, is the filthy robe of repentance. For what is more filthy than dung; yet if well used, what more profitable?

Let each one then be a good tree; let him not suppose that he can bear good fruit, if he remain a corrupt tree. There will be no good fruit, but from the good tree. Change the heart, and the work will be changed. Root out desire, plant in charity. “For as desire is the root of all evil,” so is charity the root of all good. Why then do men fret and contend one with another, saying, “What is good?” O that thou knewest what good is! What thou dost wish to have is not very good; this is good which thou dost not wish to be. For thou dost wish to have health of body; it is good indeed; yet thou canst not think that to be any great good, which the wicked have as well. Thou dost wish to have gold and silver; I grant that these also are good things, but then only if thou make a good use of them; and a good use of them thou wilt not make, if thou art evil thyself. And hence gold and silver are to the evil evil; to the good are good, not because gold and silver make them good; but because they find them good, they are turned to a good use. Again, thou dost wish to have honour, it is good; but this too only if thou make a good use of it. To how many has honour been the occasion of destruction! And again, to how many has honour been the instrument  of good works!

Let us then, if we can, make a distinction as to these goods; for it is of good trees that we are speaking. And here there is nothing, which every one ought so much to think of, as to turn his eyes upon himself, to learn in himself, examine himself, inspect himself, search into himself, and find out himself; and kill what is displeasing; and long for and plant in that which is well-pleasing (to God). For when a man finds himself so empty of better goods, why is he greedy of external goods? And what profit is there in a coffer full of goods, with an empty conscience? Thou wishest to have good things, and dost thou not then wish to be good thyself? Seest thou not that thou oughtest rather to blush for thy good things, if thy house is full of good things, and thou its owner art evil? For what is there, tell me, thou wouldest wish to have that is bad. Not any one thing I am sure; neither wife; nor son; nor daughter; nor manservant; nor maidservant; nor country seat; nor a coat; nay nor a shoe; and yet thou art willing to have a bad life. I pray thee prefer thy way of life to thy shoes. All things which encompass thy sight, as being of elegance and beauty, are highly prized by thee; and art thou so lightly esteemed by thyself, and so devoid of beauty? If the good things of which thine house is full, which thou hast longed to possess, and feared to lose, could make answer to thee, would they not cry out to thee, As thou wishest to have us good, so do we also wish to have a good owner? And now in speechless accents do they address thy Lord against thee: “Lo! thou hast given him so many good things, and he himself is evil. What profit is there to him in that he hath, when he hath not Him who hath given him all!”

One then who has been admonished, and it may be moved to compunction by these words, may ask what is good? what is the nature of good? and whence it comes? Well is it that thou hast understood that it is thy duty to ask this. I will answer thy enquiries, and will say, “That is good which thou canst not lose against thy will.” For gold thou mayest lose even against thy will; and so thou canst a house; and honours, and even the health of the body; but the good whereby thou art truly good, thou dost neither receive against thy will, nor against thy will dost lose it. I enquire then, “What is the nature of this good?” One of the Psalms teaches us an important matter, perchance it is even this that we are seeking for. For it says, “O ye sons of men, how long will ye be heavy in heart?” How long will that tree be in its three years fruitlessness? “O ye sons of men, how long will ye be heavy in heart?” What is “heavy in heart”? “Why do ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?” And then it goes on to say what we must really seek after; “Know ye that the Lord hath magnified His Holy One?” Now Christ hath come, now hath He been magnified, now hath He risen again, and ascended into heaven, now is His Name preached through the world: “How long will ye be heavy in heart?” Let the times past suffice; now that that Holy One hath been magnified, “How long will ye be heavy in heart?” After the three years, what remains but the ax? “How long will ye be heavy in heart? Why do ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?” Vain, useless, frivolous,  fleeting things are these still sought after, now that Christ the Holy One hath been so magnified? Truth now is crying aloud, and is vanity still sought after? “How long will ye be heavy in heart?”

With good reason is this world severely scourged; for the world hath known now its Master’s words. “And the servant,” He saith, “that knew not his Master’s will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” Why? That he may seek after his Master’s will. The servant then who knew not His will, this was the world, before “He magnified His Holy One;” it was “the servant who knew not his Master’s will,” and therefore “shall be beaten with few stripes.” But the servant who now knoweth his Master’s will, that is now, since the Godhead “sanctified His Holy One,” and “doeth not His will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” What marvel then, if the world be now much beaten? “It is the servant which knew his Master’s will, and did commit things worthy of stripes.” Let him then not refuse to be beaten with many stripes; since if in unrighteousness he will not hear his teacher, in righteousness must he feel his avenger. At least, let him not murmur against Him that chasteneth him, when he sees that he is worthy of stripes, that so he may attain mercy; through Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
23 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiii. 19', etc., where the Lord Jesus explaineth the parables of the sower.

1. Both yesterday and to-day ye have heard the parables of the sower, in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do ye who were present yesterday, recollect to-day. Yesterday we read of that sower, who when he scattered seed, “some fell by the way side,” which the birds picked up; “some in stony places,” which dried up from the heat; “some among thorns, which were choked,” and could not bring forth fruit; and “other some into good ground, and it brought forth fruit, a hundred, sixty, thirty fold.” But to-day the Lord hath again spoken another parable of the sower, “who sowed good seed in his field. While men slept the enemy came, and sowed tares upon it.” As long as it was only in the blade, it did not appear; but when the fruit of the good seed began to appear, “then appeared the tares also.” The servants of the householder were offended, when they saw a quantity of tares among the good wheat, and wished to root them out, but they were not suffered to do so; but it was said to them, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Now the Lord Jesus Christ explained this parable also; and said that He was the sower of the good seed, and He showed how that the enemy who sowed the tares was the devil; the time of harvest, the end of the world; His field the whole world. And what saith He? “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, to burn them, but gather the wheat into My barn.” Why are ye so hasty, He says, ye servants full of zeal? Ye see tares among the wheat, ye see evil Christians among the good; and ye wish to root up the evil ones; be quiet, it is not the time of harvest. That time will come, may it only find you wheat! Why do ye vex yourselves? Why bear impatiently the mixture of the evil with the good? In the field they may be with you, but they will not be so in the barn.

Now ye know that those three places mentioned yesterday where the seed did not grow, “the way side,” “the stony ground,” and “the thorny places,” are the same as these “tares.” They received only a different name under a different similitude. For when similitudes are used, or the literal meaning of a term is not expressed, not the truth but a similitude of the truth is conveyed by them. I see that but few have understood my meaning; yet it is for the benefit of all that I speak. In things visible, a way side is a way side, stony ground is stony ground, thorny places are thorny places; they are simply what they are, because the names are used in their literal sense. But in parables and similitudes one thing may be called by many names; therefore there is nothing inconsistent in my telling you that that “way side,” that “stony ground,” those “thorny places,” are bad Christians, and that they too are the “tares.” Is not Christ called “the Lamb”? Is not Christ “the Lion” too? Among wild beasts, and cattle, a lamb is simply a lamb, and a lion, a lion: but Christ is both. The first are respectively what they are in propriety of expression; the Latter both together in a figurative sense. Nay much more; besides this it may happen that under a figure, things very different from one another may be called by one and the same name. For what is so different as Christ and the devil? yet both Christ and the devil are called “a lion.” Christ is called “a lion:” “The Lion hath prevailed of the tribe of Judah;” and the devil is called a lion: “Know ye not that your adversary the Devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour?” Both the one and the other then is a lion; the one a lion by reason of His strength; the other for his savageness; the one a lion for His “prevailing;” the other for his injuring. The devil again is a serpent, “that old serpent;” are we commanded then to imitate the devil, when our Shepherd told us, “Be ye wise as serpents, and simple as doves”?

Accordingly I yesterday addressed “the way side,” I addressed the “stony ground,” I addressed the “thorny places;” and I said, Be ye changed whilst ye may: turn up with the plough the hard ground, cast the stones out of the field, pluck up the thorns out of it. Be loth to retain that hard heart, from which the word of God may quickly pass away and be lost. Be loth to have that lightness of soil, where the root of charity can take no deep hold. Be loth to choke the good seed which is sown in you by my labours, with the lusts and the cares of this world. For it is the Lord who sows; and we are only His labourers. But be ye the “good ground.” I said yesterday, and I say again today to all, Let one bring forth “a hundred, another sixty, another thirty fold.” In one the fruit is more, in another less; but all will have a place in the barn. Yesterday I said all this, to-day I am addressing the tares; but the sheep themselves are the tares. O evil Christians, O ye, who in filling only press the Church by your evil lives; amend yourselves before the harvest come. “Say not, I have sinned, and what hath befallen me?” God hath not lost His power; but He is requiring repentance from thee. I say this to the evil, who yet are Christians; I say this to the tares. For they are in the field; and it may so be, that they who to-day are tares, may to-morrow be wheat. And so I will address the wheat also.

O ye Christians, whose lives are good, ye sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! the harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. We in this time present are like those servants of whom it was said, “Wilt Thou that we go and gather them up?” for we were wishing, if it might be so, that no evil ones should remain among the good. But it has been told us, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Why? For ye are such as may be deceived. Hear finally; “Lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” What good are ye doing? Will ye by your eagerness make a waste of My harvest? The reapers will come, and who the reapers are He hath explained, “And the reapers are the angels.” We are but men, the reapers are the angels. We too indeed, if we finish our course, shall be equal to the angels of God; but now when we chafe against the wicked, we are as yet but men. And we ought now to give ear to the words, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” For do ye think, my Brethren, that these tares we read of do not get up into this seat? Think ye that they are all below, and none above up here? God grant we may not be so. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you.” I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days.

 
24 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiii. 52', “Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of Heaven,” etc.

1. The lesson of the Gospel reminds me to seek out, and to explain to you, Beloved, as the Lord shall give me power, who is “that Scribe instructed in the kingdom of God, who is “like unto an householder bringing out of his treasure things new and old.” For here the lesson ended. “What are the new and old things of an instructed Scribe?” Now it is well known who they were, whom the ancients, after the custom of our Scriptures, called Scribes, those, namely, who professed the knowledge of the Law. For such were called Scribes among the Jewish people, not such as are so called now in the service of judges, or the custom of states. For we must not enter school to no purpose, but we must know in what signification to take the words of Scripture; lest when anything is mentioned out of it, which is usually understood in another secular use of the term, the hearer mistake it, and by thinking of its customary meaning, understand not what he has heard. The Scribes then were they who professed the knowledge of the Law, and to them belonged both the keeping and the studying, as well as also the transcribing and the expounding, of the books of the Law.

Such were they whom our Lord Jesus Christ rebukes, because they have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and “would neither enter in themselves, nor suffer others to enter in;” in these words finding fault with the Pharisees and Scribes, the teachers of the law of the Jews. Of whom in another place He says, “Whatsoever they say, do, but do not ye after their works, for they say and do not.” Why is it said to you, “For they say and do not?” but that there are some of whom what the Apostle says, is clearly exemplified, “Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.”  It is surely plain that the Lord speaks of these, “For they say and do not.” They then are Scribes, but not “instructed in the kingdom of God.”

Peradventure some of you may say, “And how can a bad man speak what is good, when it is written, in the words of the Lord Himself, ‘A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things. Ye hypocrites, how can ye being evil speak good things?’” In the one place He says, “How can ye being evil speak good things?” in the other He says, “What they say, do, but do ye not after their works. For they say, and do not.” If “they say and do not,” they are evil; if they are evil, they cannot “speak good things;” how then are we to do what we hear from them, when we cannot hear from them what is good? Now take heed, Holy and Beloved, how this question may be solved. Whatever an evil man brings forth from himself, is evil; whatever an evil man brings forth out of his own heart, is evil; for there is the evil treasure. But whatever a good man brings forth out of his heart, is good; for there is the good treasure. Whence then did those evil men bring forth good things? “Because they sat in Moses’ seat.” Had He not first said, “They sit in Moses’ seat;” He would never have enjoined that evil men should be heard. For what they brought forth out of the evil treasure of their own heart, was one thing; another what they gave utterance to out of the seat of Moses, the criers so to say of the judge. What the crier says, will never be attributed to him if he speak in the presence of the judge. What the crier says in his own house is one thing, what the crier says as hearing it from the judge is another. For whether he will or no, the crier must proclaim the sentence of punishment even of his own friend. And so whether he will or no, must he proclaim the sentence of the acquittal even of his own enemy. Suppose him to speak from his heart; he acquits his friend, and punishes his enemy. Suppose him to speak from the judge’s chair; he punishes his friend, and acquits his enemy. So with the Scribes; suppose them to speak out of their own heart; thou wilt hear, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.”  Suppose them to speak from Moses’ seat; thou wilt hear, “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness. Honour thy father and mother; thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself.” Do then this which the official seat proclaims by the mouth of the Scribes; not that which their heart utters. For so embracing both judgments of the Lord, thou wilt not be obedient in the one, and guilty of disobedience in the other; but wilt understand that both agree together, and wilt regard both that as true, “that a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things;” and that other also, that those Scribes did not speak good things out of the evil treasure of their heart, but that they were able to speak good things out of the treasure of Moses’ seat.

So then those words of the Lord will not disturb you, when He says, “Every tree is known by his own fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles?” The Scribes and Pharisees of the Jews therefore were thorns and thistles, and notwithstanding, “what they say do, but do ye not after their works.” So then the grape is gathered from thorns, and the fig from thistles, as He has given thee to understand according to the method I have just laid down. For so sometimes in the vineyard’s thorny hedge, the vines get entangled, and clusters of grapes hang from the brambles. Thou hadst no sooner heard the name of thorns, than thou wert on the point of disregarding the grape. But seek for the root of the thorns, and thou wilt see where to find it. Follow too the root of the hanging cluster, and thou wilt see where to find it. So understand that the one refers to the Pharisee’s heart, the other to Moses’ seat.

But why were they such as they were? “Because,” says St. Paul, “the vail is upon their heart. And they do not see that the old things are passed away, and all things are become new.”Hence it is that they were such, and all others who even now are like them. Why are they old things? Because they have been a long while published. Why new? Because they relate to the kingdom of God. How the vail then is taken away, the Apostle himself tells us. “But when thou shalt turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” So then the Jew who does not turn to the Lord, does not carry on his mind’s eye to the end. Just as at that time the children of Israel in this figure did not carry on the gaze of their eyes “to the end,” that is, to the face of Moses. For the shining face of Moses contained a figure of the truth; the vail was interposed because the children of Israel could not yet behold the glory of his countenance. “Which figure is done away.”For so said the Apostle; “which is done away.” Why done away? Because when the emperor comes, the images of him are taken away. The image is looked upon, when the emperor is not present; but where he is, whose image it is, there the image is removed. There were then images borne before Him, before that our Emperor the Lord Jesus Christ came. When the images were taken away, the glory of the Emperor’s presence is seen. Therefore, “When any one turneth to the Lord, the vail is taken away.” For the voice of Moses sounded through the vail, but the face of Moses was not seen. And so now the voice of Christ sounds to the Jews by the voice of the old Scriptures: they hear their voice, but they see not the face of Him that speaketh. Would they then that the vail should be taken away? “Let them turn to the Lord.” For then the old things are not taken away, but laid up in a treasury, that the Scribe may henceforth be “instructed in the kingdom of God, bringing forth out of his treasure” not “new things” only, nor “old things” only. For if he bring forth “new things” only or “old things” only; he is not “a scribe instructed in the kingdom of God, bringing forth out of his treasure things new and old.” If he say and do them not; he brings forth from the official seat, not from the treasure of his heart. And (we speak the truth, Holy Brethren) what things are brought out of the old, are illustrated by the new. Therefore do “we turn to the Lord, that the vail may be taken away.”

 
25  Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiv. 24', “But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves.”

1. The lesson of the Gospel which we have just heard is a lesson of humility to us all, that we may see and know where we are, and whither we must tend and hasten. For that ship which carries the disciples, which was tossed in the waves by a contrary wind, is not without its meaning. Nor without a meaning did the Lord after He had left the multitudes, go up into a mountain to pray alone; and then coming to His disciples found them in danger, walking on the sea, and getting up into the ship strengthened them, and appeased the waves. But what marvel if He can appease all things who created all? Nevertheless after He was come up into the ship, they who were being borne in her, came saying, “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.” But before this plain discovery of Himself they were troubled, saying, “It is a phantom.” But He coming up into the ship took away the fluctuation of mind from their hearts, when they were now more endangered in their souls by doubting, than before in their bodies by the waves.

Yet in all this that the Lord did, He instructs us as to the nature of our life here. In this world there is not a man who is not a stranger; though all do not desire to return to their own country. Now by this very journey we are exposed to waves and tempests; but we must needs be at least in the ship. For if there be perils in the ship, without the ship there is certain destruction. For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world. We are exposed to the violence of the waves; but He who helpeth us is God.

For in that when the Lord had left the multitudes, “He went up alone into a mountain to pray;” that mountain signifies the height of heaven. For having left the multitudes, the Lord after His Resurrection ascended Alone into heaven, and “there,” as the Apostle says, “He maketh intercession for us.” There is some meaning then in His “leaving the multitudes, and going up into a mountain to pray Alone.” For He Alone is as yet the First-begotten from the dead, after the resurrection of His Body, unto the right hand of the Father, the High Priest and Advocate of our prayers. The Head of the Church is above, that the rest of the members may follow at the end. If then “He maketh intercession for us,” above the height of all creatures, as it were on the mountain top, “He prayeth Alone.”

Meanwhile the ship which carries the disciples, that is, the Church, is tossed and shaken by the tempests of temptation; and the contrary wind, that is, the devil her adversary, rests not, and strives to hinder her from arriving at rest. But greater is “He who maketh intercession for us.” For in this our tossing to and fro in which we toil, He giveth us confidence in coming to us, and strengthening us; only let us not in our trouble throw ourselves out of the ship, and cast ourselves into the sea. For though the ship be in trouble, still it is the ship. She alone carrieth the disciples, and receiveth Christ. There is danger, it is true, in the sea; but without her there is instant perishing. Keep thyself therefore in the ship, and pray to God. For when all counsels fail, when even the rudder is unserviceable, and the very spreading of the sails is rather dangerous than useful, when all human help and strength is gone, there remains only for the sailors the earnest cry of entreaty, and pouring out of prayer to God. He then who grants to sailors to reach the haven, shall He so forsake His own Church, as not to bring it on to rest?

Yet, Brethren, this exceeding trouble is not in this ship, save only in the absence of the Lord. What! can he who is in the Church, have his Lord absent from him? When has he his Lord absent from him? When he is overcome by any lust. For as we find it said in a certain place in a figure, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil:” and this is understood not of this visible sun which holds as it were the zenith of glory among the rest of the visible creation, and which can be seen equally by us and by the beasts; but of that Light which none but the pure hearts of the faithful see; as it is written, “That was the true Light, which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world.” For this light of the visible sun “lighteneth” even the minutest and smallest animals. Righteousness then and wisdom is that true light, which the mind ceases to see, when it is overcome by the disordering of anger as by a cloud; and then, as it were, the sun goes down upon a man’s wrath. So also in this ship, when Christ is absent, every one is shaken by his own storms, and iniquities, and evil desires. For, for example, the law tells thee, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” If thou observe the truth of witness, thou hast light in the soul; but if overcome by the desire of filthy lucre, thou hast determined in thy mind to speak false witness, thou wilt at once begin through Christ’s absence to be troubled by the tempest, thou wilt be tossed to and fro by the waves of thy covetousness, thou wilt be endangered by the violent storm of thy lusts, and as it were through Christ’s absence be well nigh sunk.

What cause of fear is there, lest the ship be diverted from her course, and take a backward direction; which happens when, abandoning the hope of heavenly rewards, desire turneth the helm, and a man is turned to those things which are seen and pass away! For whosoever is disturbed by the temptations of lusts, and nevertheless still looks into those things which are within, is not so utterly in a desperate state, if he beg pardon for his faults, and exert himself to overcome and surmount the fury of the raging sea. But he who is so turned aside from what he was, as to say in his heart, “God does not see me; for He does not think of me, nor care whether I sin;” he hath turned the helm, borne away by the storm, and driven back to the point he came from. For there are many thoughts in the hearts of men; and when Christ is absent, the ship is tossed by the waves of this world, and by tempests manifold.

Now the fourth watch of the night, is the end of the night; for each watch consists of three hours. It signifies then, that now in the end of the world the Lord is come to help, and is seen to walk upon the waters. For though this ship be tossed about by the storms of temptations, yet she sees her Glorified God walking above all the swellings of the sea; that is, above all the principalities of this world. For before it was said by an expression suited to the time of His Passion,when according to the flesh He showed forth an example of humility, that the waves of the sea vainly raged against Him, to which He yielded voluntarily for our sakes, that that prophecy, “I am come into the depths of the sea, and the floods overflow Me,” might be fulfilled. For He did not repel the false witnesses, nor the savage shout of those that said, “Let Him be crucified.” He did not by His power repress the savage hearts and words of those furious men, but in patience endured them all. They did unto Him whatsoever they listed; because He “became obedient to death, even the death of the Cross.” But after that He was risen from the dead, that He might pray alone for His disciples placed in the Church as in a ship, and borne on in the faith of His Cross, as in wood, and in peril through this world’s temptations as through the waves of the sea; His Name began to be honoured even in this world in which He was despised, accused, and slain; that He who in the dispensation of His suffering in the flesh, “had come into the depths of the sea, and the floods had overwhelmed Him,” might now through the glory of His Name tread upon the necks of the proud as on the foaming waters. Just as we now see the Lord walking as it were upon the sea, under whose feet we behold the whole madness of this world subjected.

But to the perils of tempests are added also the errors of heretics; and there are not wanting those who so try the minds of them that are in the ship, as to say that Christ was not born of a Virgin, nor had a real body, but seemed to the eyes what He was not. And these opinions of heretics have sprung up now, when the Name of Christ is already glorified throughout all nations; when Christ, that is, is as it were now walking on the sea. The disciples in their trial said, “It is a phantom.” But He giveth us strength against these pestilent opinions by His own voice, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.” For men in vain fear have conceived these opinions concerning Christ, looking at his Honour and Majesty; and they think that He could not be so born, who hath deserved to be so Glorified, fearing Him as it were “walking on the sea.” For by this action the excellency of His honour is figured; and so they think that He was a phantom. But when he saith, “It is I;” what else doth He say but that there is nothing in Him which does not really exist? Accordingly if He showeth His flesh, it is flesh; if bones, they are bones; if scars, they are scars. For “there was not in Him yea and nay, but in Him was yea,” as the Apostle says. Hence that expression, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.” That is, do not so stand in awe of My Majesty, as to wish to take away the reality of My Being from Me. Though I walk upon the sea, though I have under My feet the elation and the pride of this world, as the raging waves, yet have I appeared as very Man, yet does My Gospel proclaim the very truth concerning Me, that I was born of a Virgin, that I am the Word made flesh; that I said truly, “Handle Me, and see, for a spirit hath not bones as ye see Me have,” that they were true impresses of My wounds which the hands of the doubting Apostle handled. And therefore “It is I; be not afraid.”

But this, that the disciples thought He was a phantom, does not represent these only, does not designate them only who deny that the Lord had human flesh, and who sometimes by their blind perverseness disturb even those who are in the ship; but those also who think that the Lord has in anything spoken falsely, and who do not believe that the things which He has threatened the ungodly will come to pass. As though He were partly true, and partly false, appearing like a phantom in His words, as though He were something which is “yea and nay.” But they who understand His voice aright, who saith, “It is I; be not afraid;” believe at once all the words of the Lord, so that as they hope for the rewards He promises, so do they fear the punishments He threatens. For as that is true which He will say to those who are set on the right hand, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;”  so is that true, which they on the left hand will hear, “Depart ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his Angels.” For this very opinion, by which men think that Christ’s threatenings against the unrighteous and the abandoned are not true, has arisen from this, that they see many nations and multitudes innumerable subject to His Name; so that hence Christ appears to them to be a phantom, because He walked upon the sea; that is, He seems to speak falsely in His threats of punishment, because, as it were, He cannot destroy such numberless people who are subject to His Name and honour. But let them hear Him, saying, “It is I;” let them not therefore “be afraid,” who believing Christ to be true in all things, not only seek after what He hath promised, but avoid also what He hath threatened; because though He walk upon the sea, that is, though all the nations of men in this world are subject unto Him; yet is He no phantom, and therefore He doth not speak falsely, when He saith, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” 

What then does Peter’s daring to come to Him on the waters also signify? For Peter generally stands for a figure of the Church. What else then do we think is meant by, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water;” but, Lord, if Thou art true, and in nothing speakest falsely, let Thy Church also be glorified in this world, because prophecy hath proclaimed this concerning Thee. Let her walk then on the waters, and so let her come to Thee, to whom it is said, “The rich among the people shall entreat Thy favour.” But since to the Lord the praise of men is no temptation, but men are ofttimes in the Church disordered by human praises and honours, and well nigh sunk by them; therefore did Peter tremble in the sea, terrified at the great violence of the storm. For who does not fear those words, “They who call thee blessed cause thee to err, and disturb the ways of thy feet?” And because the soul hath much wrestling against the eager desire of human praise, good is it in such peril to betake one’s self to prayer and earnest entreaty: lest haply he who is charmed with praise, be overwhelmed and sunk by blame. Let Peter cry out as he totters in the water, and say, “Lord, save me.” For the Lord will reach forth His hand, and though He chide, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” wherefore didst thou not look straight forward upon Him to whom thou wast making thy way, and glory only in the Lord? Nevertheless He will snatch him from the waves, and will not suffer Him to perish, who confesses his own infirmity, and begs His help. But when they had received the Lord into the ship, and their faith was strengthened and all doubt removed, and the tempests of the sea assuaged, so that they were come to a firm and secure landing, they all worship Him, saying, “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.” For this is that everlasting joy, where Truth made manifest, and the Word of God, and the Wisdom by which all things were made, and the exceeding height of His Mercy, are both known and loved.

 
26 Again on Matt. xiv. 25': Of the Lord walking on the waves of the sea, and of Peter tottering.

1. The Gospel which has just been read touching the Lord Christ, who walked on the waters of the sea; and the Apostle Peter, who as he was walking, tottered through fear, and sinking in distrust, rose again by confession, gives us to understand that the sea is the present world, and the Apostle Peter the type of the One Church. For Peter in the order of Apostles first, and in the love of Christ most forward, answers oftentimes alone for all the rest. Again, when the Lord Jesus Christ asked, whom men said that He was, and when the disciples gave the various opinions of men, and the Lord asked again and said, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” One for many gave the answer, Unity in many. Then said the Lord to Him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” Then He added, “and I say unto thee.” As if He had said, “Because thou hast said unto Me, ‘Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God;’ I also say unto thee, ‘Thou art Peter.’” For before he was called Simon. Now this name of Peter was given him by the Lord, and that in a figure, that he should signify the Church. For seeing that Christ is the rock (Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original name. Therefore Peter is so called  from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. “Therefore,” he saith, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock” which thou hast confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;” that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, “will I build My Church.” I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon thee.

For men who wished to be built upon men, said, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,” who is Peter. But others who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, “But I am of Christ.” And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter.

This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced “blessed,” bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship, a very little while after that he had heard that he was “blessed,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was “Peter,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was to be “built upon the Rock,” displeased the Lord when He had heard of His future Passion, for He had foretold His disciples that it was soon to be. He feared lest he should by death, lose Him whom he had confessed as the fountain of life. He was troubled, and said, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be to Thee.” Spare Thyself, O God, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die. Peter said to Christ, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die; but Christ far better said, I am willing to die for thee. And then He forthwith rebuked him, whom He had a little before commended; and calleth him Satan, whom he had pronounced “blessed.” “Get thee behind Me, Satan,” he saith, “thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”  What would He have us do in our present state, who thus findeth fault because we are men? Would you know what He would have us do? Give ear to the Psalm; “I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most High.” But by savouring the things of men; “ye shall die like men.” The very same Peter a little while before blessed, afterwards Satan, in one moment, within a few words! Thou wonderest at the difference of the names, mark the difference of the reasons of them. Why wonderest thou that he who was a little before blessed, is afterwards Satan? Mark the reason wherefore he is blessed. “Because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” Therefore blessed, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. For if flesh and blood revealed this to thee, it were of thine own; but because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven, it is of Mine, not of thine own. Why of Mine? “Because all things that the Father hath are Mine.” So then thou hast heard the cause, why he is “blessed,” and why he is “Peter.” But why was he that which we shudder at, and are loth to repeat, why, but because it was of thine own? “For thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those that be of men.”

Let us, looking at ourselves in this member of the Church, distinguish what is of God, and what of ourselves. For then we shall not totter, then shall we be founded on the Rock, shall be fixed and firm against the winds, and storms, and streams, the temptations, I mean, of this present world. Yet see this Peter, who was then our figure; now he trusts, and now he totters; now he confesses the Undying, and now he fears lest He should die. Wherefore? because the Church of Christ hath both strong and weak ones; and cannot be without either strong or weak; whence the Apostle Paul says, “Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” In that Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he represents the strong: but in that he totters, and would not that Christ should suffer, in fearing death for Him, and not acknowledging the Life, he represents the weak ones of the Church. In that one Apostle then, that is, Peter, in the order of Apostles first and chiefest, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be represented, that is, both the strong and weak; because the Church doth not exist without them both.

And hence also is that which was just now read, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” For I cannot do this in myself, but in Thee. He acknowledged what he had of himself, and what of Him, by whose will he believed that he could do that, which no human weakness could do. Therefore, “if it be Thou, bid me;” because when thou biddest, it will be done. What I cannot do by taking it upon myself, Thou canst do by bidding me. And the Lord said “Come.” And without any doubting, at the word of Him who bade him, at the presence of Him who sustained, at the presence of Him who guided him, without any delay, Peter leaped down into the water, and began to walk. He was able to do what the Lord was doing, not in himself, but in the Lord. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” What no one can do in Paul, no one in Peter, no one in any other of the Apostles, this can he do in the Lord. Therefore well said Paul by a wholesome despising of himself, and commending of Him; “Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” So then, ye are not in me, but together with me; not under me, but under Him.

Therefore Peter walked on the water by the bidding of the Lord, knowing that he could not have this power of himself. By faith he had strength to do what human weakness could not do. These are the strong ones of the Church. Mark this, hear, understand, and act accordingly. For we must not deal with the strong on any other principle than this, that so they should become weak; but thus we must deal with the weak, that they may become strong. But the presuming on their own strength keeps many back from strength. No one will have strength from God, but he who feels himself weak of himself. “God setteth apart a spontaneous rain for His inheritance.” Why do you, who know what I was about to say, anticipate me? Let your quickness be moderated, that the slowness of the rest may follow. This I said, and I say it again; hear it, receive it, and act on this principle. No one is made strong by God, but he who feels himself weak of his own self. And therefore a “spontaneous rain,” as the Psalm says, “spontaneous;” not of our deserts, but “spontaneous.” “A spontaneous rain” therefore “God setteth apart for his inheritance;” for “it was weak; but Thou hast perfected it.” Because Thou “hast set apart for it a spontaneous rain,” not looking to men’s deserts, but to Thine own grace and mercy. This inheritance then was weakened, and acknowledged its own weakness in itself, that it might be strong in Thee. It would not be strengthened, if it were not weak, that by Thee it might be “perfected” in Thee.

See Paul a small portion of this inheritance, see him in weakness, who said, “I am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” Why then art thou an Apostle? “By the grace of God I am what I am. I am not meet, but by the grace of God I am what I am.” Paul was “weak,” but Thou hast “perfected” him. But now because by “the grace of God he is what he is,” look what follows; “And His grace in me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all.” Take heed lest thou lose by presumption what thou hast attained through weakness. This is well, very well; that “I am not meet to be called an Apostle. By His grace I am what I am, and His grace in me was not in vain:” all most excellent. But, “I laboured more abundantly than they all;” thou hast begun, it would seem, to ascribe to thyself what a little before thou hadst given to God. Attend and follow on; “Yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” Well! thou weak one; thou shalt be exalted in exceeding strength, seeing thou art not unthankful. Thou art the very same Paul, little in thyself; and great in the Lord. Thou art he who didst thrice beseech the Lord, that “the thorn of the flesh, the messenger of Satan, by whom thou wast buffeted, might be taken away from thee.” And what was said to thee? what didst thou hear when thou madest this petition? “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” For he was “weak,” but Thou didst “perfect” him.

So Peter also said, “Bid me come unto Thee on the water.” I who dare this am but a man, but it is no man whom I beseech. Let the God-man bid, that man may be able to do what man cannot do. “Come,” said He. And He went down, and began to walk on the water; and Peter was able, because the Rock had bidden him. Lo, what Peter was in the Lord; what was he in himself? “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, I perish, save me.” When he looked for strength from the Lord, he had strength from the Lord; as a man he tottered, but he returned to the Lord. “If I said, my foot hath slipped” (they are the words of a Psalm, the notes of a holy song; and if we acknowledge them they are our words too; yea, if we will, they are ours also). “If I said my foot hath slipped.” How slipped, except because it was mine own. And what follows? “Thy mercy, Lord, helped me.” Not mine own strength, but Thy mercy. For will God forsake him as he totters, whom He heard when calling upon Him? Where then is that, “Who hath called upon God, and hath been forsaken by Him?”  where again is that, “Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord, shall be delivered.” Immediately reaching forth the help of His right hand, He lifted him up as he was sinking, and rebuked his distrust; “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Once thou didst trust in Me, hast thou now doubted of Me?

Well, brethren, my sermon must be ended. Consider the world to be the sea; the wind is boisterous, and there is a mighty tempest. Each man’s peculiar lust is his tempest. Thou dost love God; thou walkest upon the sea, and under thy feet is the swelling of the world. Thou dost love the world, it will swallow thee up. It skilleth only how to devour its lovers, not to carry them. But when thy heart is tossed about by lust, in order that thou mayest get the better of thy lust, call upon the Divinity of Christ. Think ye that the wind is then contrary, when there is this life’s adversity? For so when there are wars, when there is tumult, when there is famine, when there is pestilence, when even to every individual man his private calamity arriveth, then the wind is thought to be contrary, then it is thought that God must be called upon. But when the world wears her smile of temporal happiness, it is as if there were no contrary wind. But do not ask upon this matter the tranquil state of the times: ask only your own lust. See if there be tranquillity within thee: see if there be no inner wind which overturns thee; see to this. There needs great virtue to struggle with happiness, lest this very happiness allure, corrupt, and overthrow thee. There needs, I say, great virtue to struggle with happiness, and great happiness not to be overcome by happiness. Learn then to tread upon the world; remember to trust in Christ. And “if thy foot have slipped;” if thou totter, if some things there are which thou canst not overcome, if thou begin to sink, say, “Lord, I perish, save me.” Say, “I perish,” that thou perish not. For He only can deliver thee from the death of the body, who died in the body for thee. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

 
27 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xv. 21',“Jesus went out thence, and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanitish woman,” etc.

1. This woman of Canaan, who has just now been brought before us in the lesson of the Gospel, shows us an example of humility, and the way of godliness; shows us how to rise from humility unto exaltation. Now she was, as it appears, not of the people of Israel, of whom came the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and the parents of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; of whom the Virgin Mary herself was, who was the Mother of Christ. This woman then was not of this people; but of the Gentiles. For, as we have heard, the Lord “departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,” and with the greatest earnestness begged of Him the mercy to heal her daughter, “who was grievously vexed with a devil.” Tyre and Sidon were not cities of the people of Israel, but of the Gentiles; though they bordered on that people. So then, as being eager to obtain mercy she cried out, and boldly knocked; and He made as though He heard her not, not to the end that mercy might be refused her, but that her desire might be enkindled; and not only that her desire might be enkindled, but that, as I have said before, her humility might be set forth. Therefore did she cry, while the Lord was as though He heard her not, but was ordering in silence what He was about to do. The disciples besought the Lord for her, and said, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.” And He said, “I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Here arises a question out of these words; “If He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, how came we from among the Gentiles into Christ’s fold? What is the meaning of the so deep economy of this mystery, that whereas the Lord knew the purpose of His coming—that He might have a Church in all nations, He said that ‘He was not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’?” We understand then by this that it behoved Him to manifest His Bodily presence, His Birth, the exhibition of His miracles, and the power of His Resurrection, among that people: that so it had been ordained, so set forth from the beginning, so predicted, and so fulfilled; that Christ Jesus was to come to the nation of the Jews, to be seen and slain, and to gain from among them those whom He foreknew. For that people was not wholly condemned, but sifted. There was among them a great quantity of chaff, but there was also the hidden worth of the grain; there was among them that which was to be burnt, there was among them also that wherewith the barn was to be filled. For whence came the Apostles? whence came Peter? whence the rest?

Whence was Paul himself, who was first called Saul? That is, first proud, afterwards humble? For when he was Saul, his name was derived from Saul: now Saul was a proud king; and in his reign he persecuted the humble David. So when he who was afterwards Paul, was Saul, he was proud, at that time a persecutor of the innocent, at that time a waster of the Church. For he had received letters from the chief priests (burning as he was with zeal for the synagogue, and persecuting the Christian name), that he might show up whatever Christians he should find, to be punished. While he is on his way, while he is breathing out slaughter, while he is thirsting for blood, he is thrown to the ground by the voice of Christ from heaven the persecutor, he is raised up the preacher. In him was fulfilled that which is written in the Prophet, “I will wound and I will heal.” For that only in man doth God wound, which lifteth itself up against God. He is no unkindphysician who opens the swelling, who cuts, or cauterizes the corrupted part. He gives pain, it is true; but he only gives pain, that he may bring the patient on to health. He gives pain; but if he did not, he would do no good. Christ then by one word laid Saul low, and raised up Paul; that is, He laid low the proud, and raised up the humble. For what was the reason of his change of name, that whereas he was afore called Saul, he chose afterwards to be called Paul; but that he acknowledged in himself that the name of Saul when he was a persecutor, had been a name of pride? He chose therefore a humble name; to be called Paul, that is, the least. For Paul is, “the least.” Paul is nothing else but little. And now glorying in this name, and giving us a lesson of humility, he says, “I am the least of the Apostles.” Whence then, whence was he, but of the people of the Jews? Of them were the other Apostles, of them was Paul, of them were they whom the same Paul mentions, as having seen the Lord after His resurrection. For he says, “That He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”

Of this people too, of the people of the Jews, were they, who when Peter was speaking, setting forth the Passion, and Resurrection, and Divinity of Christ (after that the Holy Ghost had been received, when all they on whom the Holy Ghost had come, spake with the tongues of all nations), being pricked in spirit as they heard him, sought counsel for their salvation, understanding as they did that they were guilty of the Blood of Christ; because they had crucified, and slain Him, in whose name though slain by them they saw such great miracles wrought; and saw the presence of the Holy Ghost. And so seeking counsel they received for answer; “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and your sins shall be forgiven you.”Who should despair of the forgiveness of his sins, when the crime of killing Christ was forgiven to those who were guilty of it? They were converted from among this people of the Jews; were converted, and baptized. They came to the Lord’s table, and in faith drank that Blood, which in their fury they had shed. Now in what sort they were converted, how decidedly, and how perfectly, the Acts of the Apostles show. “For they sold all that they possessed, and laid the prices of their things at the Apostles’ feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need; and no man said that ought was his own, but they had all things common.” And, “They were,” as it is written, “of one heart and of one soul.” Lo here are the sheep of whom He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” For to them He exhibited His Presence, for them in the midst of their violence against Him He prayed as He was being crucified, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The Physician understood how those frenzied men were in their madness putting the Physician to death, and in putting their Physician to death, though they knew it not, were preparing a medicine for themselves. For by the Lord so put to death are all we cured, by His Blood redeemed, by the Bread of His Body delivered from famine. This Presence then did Christ exhibit to the Jews. And so He said, “I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” that to them He might exhibit the Presence of His body; not that He might disregard, and pass over the sheep which He had among the Gentiles.

For to the Gentiles He went not Himself, but sent His disciples. And in this was fulfilled what the Prophet said; “A people whom I have not known hath served Me.” See how deep, how clear, how express the prophecy is; “a people whom I have not known,” that is, to whom I have not exhibited My Presence, “hath served Me.” How? It goes on to say, “By the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me:” that is, they have believed, not by seeing, but by hearing. Therefore have the Gentiles the greater praise. For the others saw and slew Him; the Gentiles heard and believed. Now it was to call and gather together the Gentiles, that that might be fulfilled which we have just now chanted, “Gather us from among the Gentiles, that we may confess to Thy Name, and glory in Thy praise,” that the Apostle Paul was sent. He, the least, made great, not by himself, but by Him whom he once persecuted, was sent to the Gentiles, from a robber become a shepherd, from a wolf a sheep. He, the least Apostle, was sent to the Gentiles, and laboured much among the Gentiles, and through him the Gentiles believed. His Epistles are the witnesses.

Of this you have a very sacred figure in the Gospel also. A daughter of a ruler of the synagogue was really dead, and her father besought the Lord, that He would go to her; he had left her sick, and in extreme danger. The Lord set out to visit and heal the sick; in the mean time it was announced that she was dead, and it was told the father; “Thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master.” But the Lord who knew that He could raise the dead, did not deprive the despairing father of hope, and said to him, “Fear not: only believe.” So he set out to the maiden; and in the way a certain woman, who had suffered from an issue of blood, and in her lengthened illness had spent to no purpose all that she had upon physicians, pressed herself in, how she could, amongst the crowds. When she touched the border of His garment, she was made whole. And the Lord said, “Who touched Me?” The disciples who knew not what had taken place, and saw that He was thronged by the multitudes, and that He was troubling Himself about one single woman who had touched Him gently, answered in astonishment, “The multitudes press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me? And He said, Somebody hath touched Me? for the other press, she hath touched. The many then rudely press the Body of Christ, few touch it healthfully. “Somebody,” saith He, “hath touched Me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she fell down at His feet,” and confessed what had taken place. After this He set out again, and arrived whither He was going, and raised to life the young daughter of the ruler of the synagogue who was found to be dead.

This was a literal fact, and was fulfilled as it is related; but nevertheless these very things which were done by the Lord had some further signification, being (if we may so say) a sort of visible and significative words. And this is especially plain, in that place where He sought fruit on the tree out of season, and because He found none, dried up the tree by His curse. Unless this action be regarded as a figure, there is no good meaning in it; first to have sought fruit on that tree when it was not the season for fruit on any tree; and then even if it were now the time of fruit, what fault in the tree was it to have none? But because it signified, that He seeketh not for leaves only, but for fruit also, that is, not for the words only, but for the deeds of men, by drying up that tree whereon he found only leaves, he signified their punishment who can speak good things, but will not do them. And so it is in this place also. For surely there is a mystery in it. He who foreknoweth all things saith, “Who touched Me?” The Creator maketh Himself like one who is ignorant; and He asketh, who not only knew this, but who even foreknew all other things. Doubtless there is something which Christ would speak to us in this significant mystery.

That daughter of the ruler of the synagogue was a figure of the people of the Jews, for whose sake Christ had come, who said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman who suffered from the issue of blood, figured the Church from among the Gentiles, to which Christ was not sent in His bodily presence. He was going to the former, He was intent on her recovery; meanwhile the latter runs to meet Him, touches His border as though He knew it not; that is, she is healed by Him who is in some sense absent. He saith, “Who touched Me?” as though He would say; I do not know this people; “A people whom I have not known hath served Me. Some one hath touched Me. For I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me;” that is, that My Gospel hath gone out and filled the whole world. Now it is the border that is touched, a small and outside part of the garment. Consider the Apostles as it were the garment of Christ. Among them Paul was the border; that is, the last and least. For he said of himself that he was both; “I am the least of the Apostles.” For he was called after them all, he believed after them all, he healed more than they all. The Lord was not sent but “unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But because a “people whom He had not known, was also to serve Him, and to obey Him in the hearing of the ear,” He made mention of them too when He was among the others. For the same Lord said in a certain place, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, that there may be one fold and one shepherd.”

Of these was this woman; therefore she was not refused, but only put off. “I am not sent,” saith He, “but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And she was instant in her cries: she persevered, she knocked, as if she had already heard, “Ask, and receive; seek, and thou shalt find; knock, and it shall be opened unto thee.” She kept on, she knocked. For so the Lord when He spake these words, “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;” had also said before, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you;” that is, lest after despising your pearls, they should even ill use you. Cast not therefore before them what they despise.

And how distinguish we (as might be answered) who are “swine,” and who are “dogs”? This has been shown in the case of this woman. For He only answered to her entreaties, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Thou art a dog, thou art one of the Gentiles, thou worshippest idols. But for dogs what is so proper as to lick stones? “It is not” therefore “meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Had she retired after these words, she had gone away as she had come, a dog; but by knocking she was made of a dog one of human kind. For she persevered in asking, and from that reproach as it were she manifested her humility, and obtained mercy. For she was not excited, nor incensed, because she was called a dog, as she asked the blessing, and prayed for mercy, but she said, “Truth, Lord;” “Thou hast called me a dog, and truly a dog I am, I acknowledge my name: it is the Truth that speaks: but I ought not on that account to be refused this blessing. Verily I am a dog; ‘yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ It is but a moderate and a small blessing I desire; I do not press to the table, I only seek for the crumbs.”

1See, Brethren, how the value of humility is set before us! The Lord had called her a dog; and she did not say, “I am not,” but she said, “I am.” And because she acknowledged herself to be a dog, immediately the Lord said, “Woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou hast asked.” Thou hast acknowledged thyself to be a dog, I now acknowledge thee to be of human kind. “O woman, great is thy faith;” thou hast asked, and sought, and knocked; receive, find, be it opened unto thee. See, Brethren, how in this woman who was a Canaanite, that is, who came from among the Gentiles, and was a type, that is a figure, of the Church, the grace of humility has been eminently set before us. For the Jewish nation, to the end that it might be deprived of the grace of the Gospel, was puffed up with pride, because to them it had been vouchsafed to receive the Law, because out of this nation the Patriarchs had proceeded, the Prophets had sprung, Moses, the servant of God, had done the great miracles in Egypt which we have heard of in the Psalm, had led the people through the Red Sea, when the waters retired, and had received the Law, which he gave to this people. This was that whereupon the Jewish nation was lifted up, and through this very pride it happened that they were not willing to humble themselves to Christ the author of humility, and the restrainer of proud swelling, to God the Physician, who, being God, for this cause became Man, that man might know himself to be but man. O mighty remedy! If this remedy cure not pride, I know not what can cure it. He is God, and is made Man; He lays aside His Divinity, that is, in a manner sequestrates, hides, that is, what was His Own, and appears only in that He had taken to Him. Being God He is made man: and man will not acknowledge himself to be man, that is, will not acknowledge himself to be mortal, will not acknowledge himself to be frail, will not acknowledge himself to be a sinner, will not acknowledge himself to be sick, that so at least as sick he may seek the physician; but what is more perilous still, he fancies himself in sound health.

1So then for this reason that people did not come to Him, that is by reason of pride; and the natural branches are said to be broken off from the olive tree, that is from that people foundedby the Patriarchs; in other words, the Jews are for their punishment justly barren through the spirit of pride; and the wild olive is grafted into that olive tree. The wild olive tree is the people of the Gentiles. So says the Apostle, “that the wild olive tree is grafted into the good olive tree, but the natural branches are broken off.” Because of pride they were broken off: and the wild olive tree grafted in because of humility. This humility did the woman show forth when she said, “Truth, Lord,” “I am a dog, I desire only the crumbs.” In this humility also did the Centurion please Him; who when he desired that his servant might be healed by the Lord, and the Lord said, “I will come and heal him,” answered, “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof.” He did not receive Him into his house, but he had received Him already in his heart. The more humble, the more capacious, and the more full. For the hills drive back the water, but the valleys are filled by it. And what then, what said the Lord to those who followed Him after that he had said, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof”? “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel;” that is, in that people to whom I came, “I have not found so great faith.” And whence great? Great from being the least, that is, great from humility. “I have not found so great faith;” like a grain of mustard seed, which by how much smaller it is, by so much the more burning is it. Therefore did the Lord at once graft the wild olive into the good olive tree. He did it then when He said, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

1Lastly, mark what follows. “Therefore,”—that is, because “I have not found so great faith in Israel,” that is, so great humility with faith,—“Therefore I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” “Shall sit,” that is, “shall rest.” For we must not form notions of carnal banquets there, or desire any such thing in that kingdom, as to change not vices for virtues, but only to make an exchange of vices. For it is one thing to desire the kingdom of heaven for the sake of wisdom and life eternal; another, for the sake of earthly felicity, as though there we should have it in more abundant and greater measure. If thou think to be rich in that kingdom, thou dost not cut off, but only changest desire; and yet rich thou wilt really be, and in none other place but there wilt thou be rich; for here thy want gathers together the abundance of things. Why have rich men much? Because they want much. A greater want heaps together as it were greater means; there want itself shall die. Then thou shalt be truly rich, when thou shalt be in want of nothing. For now thou art not surely rich, and an Angel poor, who has not horses, and carriages, and servants. Why? Because he does not want any of these: because in proportion to his greater strength, is his want the less. Therefore there there are riches, and the true riches. Figure not to yourselves then banquets of this earth in that place. For the banquets of this world are daily medicines; they are necessary for a kind of sickness we have, wherewith we are born. This sickness every one is sensible of, when the hour for refreshment is passed. Wouldest thou see how great a sickness this is, that as an acute fever would be fatal in seven days? Do not fancy thyself then to be in health. Immortality will be health. For this present is only one long sickness. Because thou dost support thy disease by daily medicines; thou fanciest thyself in health; take away the medicines, and then see what thou canst do.

1For from the moment we are born, we must needs be dying. This disease must needs bring us to death. This indeed physicians say when they examine their patients. For instance, “This man has the dropsy, he is dying; this disease cannot be cured. This man has the leprosy: this disease too cannot be cured. He is in a consumption. Who can cure this? He must needs die, he must perish.” See, the physician has now pronounced that he is in a consumption; that he cannot but die; and yet sometimes the dropsical patient does not die of his disease, and the leprous does not die of his, nor the consumptive patient of his; but now it is absolutely necessary that every one who is born should die of this. He dies of it, he cannot do otherwise. This the physician and the unskilled both pronounce upon; and though he die somewhat more slowly, does he on that account not die? Where then is there true health, except where there is true immortality? But if it be true immortality, and no corruption, no wasting, what need will there be there of nourishment? Therefore, when you hear it said, “They shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;” get not your body, but your soul in order. There shall thou be filled; and this inner man has its proper food. In relation to it is it said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” And so truly filled shall they be that they shall hunger no more.

1Therefore did the Lord graft in at once the wild olive tree, when He said, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;” that is, they shall be grafted into the good olive tree. For Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are the roots of this olive tree; “but the children of the kingdom,” that is, the unbelieving Jews, “shall go away into outer darkness.” The “natural branches shall be broken off,” that the “wild olive tree may be grafted in.” Now why did the natural branches deserve to be cut off, except for pride? why the wild olive tree to be grafted in, except for humility? Whence also that woman said, “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” And thereupon she hears, “O woman, great is thy faith.” And so again that centurion, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof.” “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Let us then learn, or let us hold fast, humility. If we have it not yet, let us learn it; if we have it, let us not lose it. If we have it not yet, let us have it, that we may be grafted in; if we have it already, let us hold it fast, that we may not be cut off.

 
28 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 1', “After six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother,” etc.

1. We must now look into and treat of that vision which the Lord showed on the mount. For it is this of which He had said, “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man in His Kingdom.” Then began the passage which has just been read. “When He had said this, after six days He took three disciples, Peter, and James, and John, and went up into a mountain.” These three were those “some,” of whom He had said, “There be some here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man in His kingdom.” There is no small difficulty here. For that mount was not the whole extent of His kingdom. What is a mountain to Him who possesseth the heavens? Which we not only read He doth, but in some sort see it with the eyes of the heart. He calleth that His kingdom, which in many places He calleth the “kingdom of heaven.” Now the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of the saints. “For the heavens declare the glory of God.” And of these heavens it is immediately said in the Psalm, “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world.” Whose words, but of the heavens? And of the Apostles, and all faithful preachers of the word of God. These heavens therefore shall reign together with Him who made the heavens. Now consider what was done, that this might be made manifest.

The Lord Jesus Himself shone bright as the sun; His raiment became white as the snow; and Moses and Elias talked with Him. Jesus Himself indeed shone as the sun, signifying that “He is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” What this sun is to the eyes of the flesh, that is He to the eyes of the heart; and what that is to the flesh of men, that is He to their hearts. Now His raiment is His Church. For if the raiment be not held together by him who puts it on, it will fall off. Of this raiment, Paul was as it were a sort of last border. For he says himself, “I am the least of the Apostles.” And in another place, “I am the last of the Apostles.” Now in a garment the border is the last and least part. Wherefore as that woman which suffered from an issue of blood, when she had touched the Lord’s border was made whole, so the Church which came from out of the Gentiles, was made whole by the preaching of Paul. What wonder if the Church is signified by white raiment, when you hear the Prophet Isaiah saying, “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow”? Moses and Elias, that is, the Law and the Prophets, what avail they, except they converse with the Lord? Except they give witness to the Lord, who would read the Law or the Prophets? Mark how briefly the Apostle expresses this; “For by the Law is the knowledge of sin; but now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested:” behold the sun; “being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,” behold the shining of the Sun.

Peter sees this, and as a man savouring the things of men says, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” He had been wearied with the multitude, he had found now the mountain’s solitude; there he had Christ the Bread of the soul. What! should he depart thence again to travail and pains, possessed of a holy love to Godward, and thereby of a good conversation? He wished well for himself; and so he added, “If Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” To this the Lord made no answer; but notwithstanding Peter was answered. “For while he yet spake, a bright cloud came, and overshadowed them.” He desired three tabernacles; the heavenly answer showed him that we have One, which human judgment desired to divide. Christ, the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word in the Prophets. Why, Peter, dost thou seek to divide them? It were more fitting for thee to join them. Thou seekest three; understand that they are but One.

As the cloud then overshadowed them, and in a way made one tabernacle for them, “a voice also sounded out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son.” Moses was there; Elias was there; yet it was not said, “These are My beloved sons.” For the Only Son is one thing; adopted sons another. He was singled out in whom the Law and the prophets glorified. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him!” Because ye have heard Him in the Prophets, and ye have heard Him in the Law. And where have ye not heard Him? “When they heard this, they fell” to the earth. See then in the Church is exhibited to us the Kingdom of God. Here is the Lord, here the Law and the Prophets; but the Lord as the Lord; the Law in Moses, Prophecy in Elias; only they as servants and as ministers. They as vessels: He as the fountain: Moses and the Prophets spake, and wrote; but when they poured out, they were filled from Him.

But the Lord stretched out His hand, and raised them as they lay. And then “they saw no man, save Jesus only.” What does this mean? When the Apostle was being read, you heard, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” And “tongues shall cease,” when that which we now hope for and believe shall come. In then that they fell to the earth, they signified that we die, for it was said to the flesh, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return.” But when the Lord raised them up, He signified the resurrection. After the resurrection, what is the Law to thee? what Prophecy? Therefore neither Moses nor Elias is seen. He only remaineth to thee, “Who in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He remaineth to thee, “that God may be all in all.” Moses will be there; but now no more the Law. We shall see Elias there too; but now no more the Prophet. For the Law and the Prophets have only given witness to Christ, that it behoved Him to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day, and to enter into His glory. And in this glory is fulfilled what He hath promised to them that love Him, “He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him.”  And as if it were said, What wilt Thou give him, seeing Thou wilt love him? “And I will manifest Myself unto him.” Great gift! great promise! God doth not reserve for thee as a reward anything of His own, but Himself. O thou covetous one; why doth not what Christ promiseth suffice thee? Thou dost seem to thyself to be rich; yet if thou have not God, what hast thou? Another is poor, yet if he hath God, what hath he not?

Come down, Peter: thou wast desiring to rest on the mount; come down, “preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”Endure, labour hard, bear thy measure of torture; that thou mayest possess what is meant by the white raiment of the Lord, through the brightness and the beauty of an upright labouring in charity. For when the Apostle was being read we heard in praise of charity, “She seeketh not her own. She seeketh not her own;” since she gives what she possesses. In another place there is more danger in the expression, if you do not understand it right. For the Apostle, charging the faithful members of Christ after this rule of charity, says, “Let no man seek his own, but another’s.” For on hearing this, covetousness is ready with its deceits, that in a matter of business under pretence of seeking another’s, it may defraud a man, and so, “seek not his own, but another’s.” But let covetousness restrain itself, let justice come forth; so let us hear and understand. It is to charity that it is said, “Let no man seek his own, but another’s.” Now, O thou covetous one, if thou wilt still resist, and twist the precept rather to this point, that thou shouldest covet what is another’s; then lose what is thine own. But as I know thee well, thou dost wish to have both thine own and another’s. Thou wilt commit fraud that thou mayest have what is another’s; submit then to robbery that thou mayest lose thine own. Thou dost not wish to seek thine own, but then thou takest away what is another’s. Now this if thou do, thou doest not well. Hear and listen, thou covetous one: the Apostle explains to thee in another place more clearly this that he said, “Let no man seek his own, but another’s.” He says of himself, “Not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” This Peter understood not yet when he desired to live on the mount with Christ. He was reserving this for thee, Peter, after death. But now He saith Himself, “Come down, to labour in the earth; in the earth to serve, to be despised, and crucified in the earth. The Life came down, that He might be slain; the Bread came down, that He might hunger; the Way came down, that life might be wearied in the way; the Fountain came down, that He might thirst; and dost thou refuse to labour? ‘Seek not thine own.’ Have charity, preach the truth; so shall thou come to eternity, where thou shalt find security.”

 
29 Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii'., where Jesus showed Himself on the mount to His three disciples.

1. We heard when the Holy Gospel was being read of the great vision on the mount, in which Jesus showed Himself to the three disciples, Peter, James, and John. “His face did shine as the sun:” this is a figure of the shining of the Gospel. “His raiment was white as the snow:” this is a figure of the purity of the Church, to which it was said by the Prophet, “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.” Elias and Moses were talking with Him; because the grace of the Gospel receives witness from the Law and the Prophets. The Law is represented in Moses, the Prophets in Elias; to speak briefly. For there are the mercies of God vouchsafed through a holy Martyr to be rehearsed. Let us give ear. Peter desired three tabernacles to be made, one for Moses, one for Elias, and one for Christ. The solitude of the mountain had charms for him; he had been wearied with the tumult of the world’s business. But why sought he three tabernacles, but because he knew not as yet the unity of the Law, and of Prophecy, and of the Gospel? Lastly, he was corrected by the cloud, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.” Lo, the cloud hath made one tabernacle; wherefore didst thou seek for three? “And a voice came out of the cloud, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.” Elias speaketh; but “hear Him;” “Moses speaketh; but “hear Him.” The Prophets speak, the Law speaketh; but “hear Him,” who is the voice of the Law, and the tongue of the Prophets. He spake in them, and when He vouchsafed so to do, He appeared in His own person. “Hear ye Him:” let us then hear Him. When the Gospel spake, think it was the cloud: from thence hath the voice sounded out to us. Let us hear Him; that is, let us do what He saith, let us hope for what He hath promised.

 
30  Words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 19', “Why could not we cast it out”? etc., and on prayer.

1. Our Lord Jesus Christ reproved unbelief even in His own disciples, as we heard just now when the Gospel was being read. For when they had said, “Why could not we cast him out?” He answered, “Because of your unbelief.” If the Apostles were unbelievers, who is a believer? What must the lambs do, if the rams totter? Yet the mercy of the Lord did not disdain them in their unbelief; but reproved, nourished, perfected, crowned them. For they themselves, as mindful of their own weakness, said to Him, as we read in a certain place in the Gospel, “Lord, increase our faith. Lord,” say they, “increase our faith.” The knowing that they had a deficiency, was the first advantage; a greater happiness still, to know who it was of whom they were asking. “Lord,” say they, “increase our faith.” See, if they did not bring their hearts as it were to the fountain, and knocked that that might be opened to them, out of which they might fill them. For He would that men should knock at Him, not that He might repel those that knock, but that He might exercise those who long.

For do you think, Brethren, that God doth not know what is needful for you? He knoweth and preventeth our desires, who knoweth our want. And so when He taught His disciples to pray, and warned them not to use many words in prayer, He saith, “Use not many words; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him.” Now the Lord saith something different from this. What is this? Because He misliked that we should use many words in prayer, He said to us, “When ye pray, use not many words; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him.” If our “Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him,” why do we use even few words? What is the use of prayer at all, if “our Father knoweth” already “what things we have need of”? He saith to one, Do not make thy prayer to Me at great length; for I know what is needful for thee. If so, Lord, why should I so much as pray at all? Thou wouldest not that I should use long prayers, yea rather Thou dost even bid me to use near none at all. And then what meaneth that precept in another place? For He who saith, “Use not many words in prayer,” saith in another place, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” And that thou mightest not think that this first precept to ask was given cursorily, He added, “Seek, and ye shall find.” And that thou mightest not think that this too was cursorily given, see what He added further, see with what He finished. “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” see what He added. He would have thee ask that thou mayest receive, and seek that thou mayest find, and knock that thou mayest enter in. Seeing then that our Father knoweth already what is needful for us, how and why do we ask? why seek? why knock? why weary ourselves in asking, and seeking, and knocking, to instruct Him who knoweth already? And in another place the words of the Lord are, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” If men “ought always to pray,” how doth He say, “Use not many words”? How can I always pray, if I so quickly make an end? Here Thou biddest me to finish quickly; there “always to pray and not to faint:” what doth this mean? Now that thou mayest understand this, “ask, seek, knock.” For for this cause is it closed, not to shut thee out, but to exercise thee. Therefore, brethren, ought we to exhort to prayer, both ourselves and you. For other hope have we none amid the manifold evils of this present world, than to knock in prayer, to believe and to maintain the belief firm in the heart, that thy Father only doth not give thee what He knoweth is not expedient for thee. For thou knowest what thou dost desire; He knoweth what is good for thee. Imagine thyself under a physician, and in weak health, as is the very truth; for all this life of ours is a weakness; and a long life is nothing else but a prolonged weakness. Imagine thyself then to be sick under the physician’s hand. Thou hast a desire to ask thy physician leave to drink a draught of fresh wine. Thou art not prohibited from asking, for it may chance to do thee no harm, or even good to receive it. Do not then hesitate to ask; ask, hesitate not; but if thou receive not, do not take it to heart. Now if thou wouldest act thus in the hands of a man, the physician of the body, how much more in the hands of God, who is the Physician, the Creator, and Restorer, both of thy body and soul?

Wherefore, see how the Lord in this passage exhorted His disciples to prayer, when He said, “Ye could not cast out this devil because of your unbelief.” For then exhorting them to prayer He ended thus; “this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” If a man must pray, to cast out devils from another, how much more to cast out his own covetousness? how much more to cast out his own drunkenness? how much more to cast out his own luxuriousness? how much more to cast out his own uncleanness? How many things in a man are there, which if they are persevered in, allow of no admission into the kingdom of heaven! Consider, Brethren, how a physician is entreated for the preservation of temporal health, how, if any one is desperately ill, is he ashamed or slow to throw himself at a man’s feet? to bathe in tears the footsteps of any very able chief physician? And what if the physician say to him, “Thou canst not else be cured, except I bind thee, and use the fire and knife”? He will answer,” Do what thou wilt, only cure me.” With what eagerness does he long for the health of a few days, fleeting as a vapour, that for it he is content to be bound, and submit to the fire, and knife, and to be watched, that he neither eat nor drink what, or when, he pleases! All this he will endure, that he may die a little later; and yet he will not endure ever so little, that he may never die. If God, who is the Heavenly Physician over us, saith to thee, “Wilt thou be cured?” what wouldest thou say but “Yes.” Or it may be thou wouldest not say so, because thou fanciest thyself to be in health, that is, because thou art more grievously sick.

For if we suppose two sick persons, one who implores the physician with tears, the other, who in his sickness with infatuation derides him; he will hold out hope to the one that weeps, and will deplore the case of the other that laughs. Why? but because the sounder in health he thinks himself, the more dangerous his sickness is! This was the case with the Jews. Christ came to them that were sick; He found them all sick. Let no one then flatter himself on his healthful state, lest the physician give him up. He found all sick; it is the Apostle’s judgment, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Though He found them all sick, yet were there two sorts of sick folk. The one came to the Physician, clave to Christ, heard, honoured, followed Him, were converted. He received all without disdaining any, for to heal them, who healed of free favour, who cured by Almighty power. When then He received them, and joined them to Himself to be healed, they rejoiced. But there was another sort of sick, who had already become infatuated through the sickness of iniquity, and did not know themselves to be sick; they mocked Him, because He received the sick, and said to His disciples, “Lo, what manner of man is your Master, who eateth with publicans and sinners.” And He who knew what and who they were answered them, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” And He showed them who the “whole” were, and who the “sick.” “I am not come,” He saith, “to call the righteous, but sinners.”If sinners, He would say, do not come to Me, wherefore am I come? for whose sake am I come? If all are whole, wherefore hath so great a Physician come down from heaven? why hath He prepared for us a medicine not out of His stores, but of His own blood? That sort of sick then who had a milder sickness, who felt themselves to be sick, clave to the Physician, that they might be healed. But they whose sickness was more dangerous mocked the Physician, and abused the sick. Whither did their frenzy proceed at last? To seize the Physician, bind, scourge, crown Him with thorns, hang Him upon a Tree, kill Him on the Cross! Why dost thou marvel? The sick slew the Physician; but the Physician by being slain healed the frantic patient.

For first, not forgetting on the Cross His own character, and manifesting forth His patience to us, and giving us an example of love to our enemies; as He saw them raging round Him, who had known their disease, seeing He was the Physician, who had known the frenzy by which they had become infatuated, He said at once to the Father, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Now suppose ye that those Jews were not malignant, cruel, bloody, turbulent, and enemies of the Son of God? Suppose ye that that cry, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” was ineffectual and in vain? He saw them all, but He knew amongst them those that should one day be His. In a word, He died, because it was so expedient, that by His Death He might kill death. God died, that an exchange might be effected by a kind of heavenly contract, that man might not see death. For Christ is God, but He died not in that Nature in which He is God. For the same Person is God and man; for God and man is one Christ. The human nature was assumed, that we might be changed for the better; He did not degrade the Divine Nature down to the lower. For He assumed that which He was not, He did not lose that which He was. Forasmuch then as He is both God and man, being pleased that we should live by that which was His, He died in that which was ours. For He had nothing Himself, whereby He could die; nor had we anything whereby we could live. For what was He who had nothing whereby He could die? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  If thou seek for anything in God whereby He may die, thou wilt not find it. But we all die, who are flesh; men bearing about sinful flesh. Seek out for that whereby sin may live; it hath it not. So then neither could He have death in that which was His own, nor we life in that which was our own; but we have life from that which is His, He death from what is ours. What an exchange! What hath He given, and what received? Men who trade enter into commercial intercourse for exchange of things. For ancient commerce was only an exchange of things. A man gave what he had, and received what he had not. For example, he had wheat, but had no barley; another had barley, but no wheat; the former gave the wheat which he had, and received the barley which he had not. How simple it was that the larger quantity should make up for the cheaper sort! So then another man gives barley, to receive wheat; lastly, another gives lead, to receive silver, only he gives much lead against a little silver; another gives wool, to receive a ready-made garment. And who can enumerate all these exchanges? But no one gives life to receive death. Not in vain then was the voice of the Physician as He hung upon the tree. For in order that He might die for us because the Word could not die, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” He hung upon the Cross, but in the flesh. There was the meanness, which the Jews despised; there the dearness, by which the Jews were delivered. For for them was it said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And that voice was not in vain. He died, was buried, rose again, having passed forty days with His disciples, He ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Ghost on them, who waited for the promise. They were filled with the Holy Ghost, whom they had received, and began to speak with the tongues of all nations. Then the Jews who were present, amazed that unlearned and ignorant men, whom they had known as brought up among them with one tongue, should in the Name of Christ speak in all tongues, were in astonishment, and learnt from Peter’s words whence this gift came. He gave it, who hung upon the tree. He gave it, who was derided as He hung upon the tree, that from His seat in heaven He might give the Holy Spirit. They of whom He had said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” heard, believed. They believed, were baptized, and their conversion was effected. What conversion? In faith they drank the Blood of Christ, which in fury they had shed.

Therefore, to finish this discourse with that with which we began it, let us pray, and let us rely on God; let us live as He enjoineth; and when we totter in this life, let us call upon Him as the disciples called, saying, “Lord, increase our faith.” Peter both put his trust in Him, and tottered; but notwithstanding he was not disregarded and left to sink, but was lifted up and raised. For his trust whence was it? Not from anything of his own; but from what was the Lord’s. How? “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” For on the water was the Lord walking. “If it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” For I know that if it be Thou, Thou biddest, and it is done. “And He saith, Come.” He went down at His bidding, but in his own weakness he was afraid. Nevertheless when he was afraid, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Then the Lord took him by the hand, and said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” He first invited him, He delivered him, as he tottered, and stumbled; that it might be fulfilled which was said in the Psalm, “If I said my foot hath slipped, Thy mercy, O Lord, aided me.”

There are then two kinds of blessings, temporal and eternal. Temporal blessings are health, substance, honour, friends, a home, children, a wife, and the other things of this life in which we are sojourners. Put we up then in the hostelry of this life as travellers passing on, and not as owners intending to remain. But eternal blessings are, first, eternal life itself, the incorruption and immortality of body and soul, the society of Angels, the heavenly city, glory unfailing, Father and father-land, the former without death, the latter without a foe. These blessings let us desire with all eagerness, let us ask with all perseverance, not with length of words, but with the witness of groans. Longing desire prayeth always, though the tongue be silent. If thou art ever longing, thou art ever praying. When sleepeth prayer? When desire groweth cold. So then let us beg for these eternal blessings with all eager desire, let us seek for those good things with an entire earnestness, let us ask for those good things with all assurance. For those good things do profit him that hath them, they cannot harm him. But those other temporal good things sometimes profit, and sometimes harm. Poverty hath profited many, and wealth hath harmed many; a private life hath profited many, and exalted honour hath harmed many. And again, money hath profiled some, honourable distinction hath profited some; profited them who use them well; but from those who use them ill, the not withdrawing them hath harmed them more. And so, Brethren, let us ask for those temporal blessings too, but in moderation, being sure that if we do receive them, He giveth them, who knoweth what is expedient for us. Thou hast asked, and what thou hast asked, hath not been given thee? Trust thy Father, who would give it thee, were it expedient for thee. Lo! judge in this case by thine own self. For such as thy son who knows not the ways of men is in regard to thee, such in regard to the Lord art thou thyself, who knowest not the things of God. Lo, thy son cries a whole day before thee, that thou wouldest give him a knife, or a sword; thou dost refuse to give it him, thou wilt not give it, thou disregardest his tears, lest thou shouldest have to bewail his death. Let him cry, and beat himself, or throw himself upon the ground, that thou mayest set him on horseback; thou wilt not do it, because he does not know how to govern the horse, he may throw and kill him. To whom thou refusest a part, thou art reserving the whole. But that he may grow up, and possess the whole in safety, thou givest him not that little thing which is full of peril to him.

And so, Brethren, we say, pray as much as ye are able. Evils abound, and God hath willed that evils should abound. Would that evil men did not abound, and then evils would not abound. Bad times! troublesome times! this men are saying. Let our lives be good; and the times are good. We make our times; such as we are, such are the times. But what can we do? We cannot, it may be, convert the mass of men to a good life. But let the few who do give ear live well; let the few who live well endure the many who live ill. They are the corn, they are in the floor; in the floor they can have the chaff with them, they will not have them in the barn. Let them endure what they would not, that they may come to what they would. Wherefore are we sad, and blame we God? Evils abound in the world, in order that the world may not engage our love. Great men, faithful saints were they who have despised the world with all its attractions; we are not able to despise it even disfigured as it is. The world is evil, lo, it is evil, and yet it is loved as though it were good. But what is this evil world? For the heavens and the earth, and the waters, and the things that are therein, the fish, and birds, and trees, are not evil. All these are good: but it is evil men who make this evil world. Yet as we cannot be without evil men, let us, as I have said, whilst we live pour out our groans before the Lord our God, and endure the evils, that we may attain to the things that are good. Let us not find fault with the Master of the household; for He is loving to us. He beareth us, and not we him. He knoweth how to govern what He made; do what He hath bidden, and hope for what He hath promised.

 
31 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 7', where we are admonished to beware of the offences of the world.

1. The divine lessons, which we have just heard as they were being read, warn us to gather in a stock of virtues, to fortify a Christian heart, against the offences which were predicted to come, and this from the mercy of the Lord. “For what is man,” saith Scripture, “saving that Thou art mindful of him?” “Woe unto the world because of offences,” saith the Lord; the Truth says so; He alarmeth and warneth us, He would not have us to be off our guard; for surely He would not make us desperate. Against this “woe,” against this evil, that is, which is to be feared, and dreaded, and guarded against, Scripture counsels, and exhorts, and instructs us in that place, where it is said, “Great praise have they who love Thy law, and nothing is an offence to them.” He hath shown us an enemy to be guarded against, but He hath not omitted to show us also a wall of defence. Thou wast thinking, as thou heardest, “Woe unto the world because of offences,” whither thou mightest go beyond the world, that thou mightest not be exposed to offences. Therefore to avoid offences, whither wilt thou go beyond the world, unless thou fly to Him who made the world? And how shall we be able to fly to Him who made the world, unless we give ear to His law which is preached everywhere? And to give ear to it is but a small matter, unless we love it. For divine Scripture in making thee secure against offences doth not say, “Great peace have they who” hear “Thy law. For not the hearers of the law are just before God. But” because “the doers of the law shall be justified,” and, “faith worketh by love:” it saith, “Great peace have they who love Thy law, and nothing is an offence to them.” To this sentiment also agrees the passage which we have chanted in course; “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Because, “great peace have they who love Thy law.” For these “meek” ones are they who “love the law of God.” For, “Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law, that Thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the sinner.” How diverse seem those words of Scripture, yet into one meaning do they so flow and meet together, that whatsoever out of that most rich fountain thou canst hear, so that thou acquiesce therein, and art in loving harmony with the truth, thou will be at once filled with peace; glowing with love, and fortified against offences.

It is our place then to see, or seek, or learn, how we must be “meek;” and we are guided by that which I have just brought forward out of the Scriptures, to find what we are in quest of. Be attentive then, Beloved, for a little while; it is a weighty matter that is in hand, that we may be meek; a necessary thing in the adversities of life. But it is not the adverse circumstances of this life which are called offences; but mark what “offences” are. A man, for instance, under some hard necessity is weighed down by a press of trouble. That he is weighed down with a press of trouble, is no offence. By such pressure were even Martyrs pressed, but not oppressed. Of an offence beware, but of a press of trouble not so much. The last presseth thee, an offence oppresseth thee. What then is the difference between the two? In the press of trouble thou didst make ready to maintain patience, to hold fast constancy, not to abandon faith, not to consent to sin. This if thou maintain, or shall have maintained, the trouble that presseth thee shall not be thy fall; but that press of trouble shall avail to the same end as in the oil press, not to destroy the olive, but to extract the oil. In a word, if in this trouble that presseth thee thou ascribe praise unto God, how useful will the press be to thee, whereby such oil is pressed out! Under such a press the Apostles sat in chains, and in that press they sang a hymn to God. What precious oil was this that was pressed and forced out! Beneath a heavy press did Job sit on the dunghill, without resource, without help, without substance, without children; full, but of worms only, as far, that is, as concerned the outward man, but because he too was full of God within, he praised God, and that press was no “offence” to him. Where then was the “offence”? When his wife came to him and said, “Speak a word against God, and die.” When all had been taken from him by the devil, an Eve was reserved for the exercised sufferer, not to console but to tempt her husband. See then where the offence was. She exaggerated his miseries, and her miseries too with his, and began to persuade him to blaspheme. But he who was “meek,” because “God had taught him out of His law, and given him rest from the days of adversity;” had “great peace” in his heart as “loving the law of God, and nothing was an offence to him.” She was an offence, but not to him. In a word, behold the meek man, behold one taught in the law of God, the eternal law of God I mean. For that law on tables was not yet given to the Jews in the time of Job, but in the hearts of the godly there remained still the eternal law, from which that which was given to the people was copied. Because then by the law of God he had “rest given him from the days of adversity,” and “had great peace as loving the law of God,” behold how “meek” he is, and what he answers. Learn hereby what I propose to enquire; who are the meek. “Thou speakest,” he says, “as one of the foolish women speaketh. If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, shall we not bear the evil?”

We have heard by an example who the meek are: let us, if we can, define them in words. The meek are they, to whom in all their good deeds, in all the things they do well, nothing is pleasing but God; to whom in all the evils they suffer, God is not displeasing. Now, Brethren, attend to this rule, to this pattern; let us stretch ourselves out to it, let us seek for increase, that we may fill it. For what does it profit, that we plant, and water, except God shall give the increase? “For neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” Give ear, whosoever thou art, that wouldest be “meek,” who wouldest have “rest from the days of adversity, who lovest the law of God,” that there may be “no offence unto thee,” and that thou mayest “have great peace,” that thou mayest “possess the earth, and delight in the multitude of peace;” give ear, whosoever thou art that wouldest be “meek.” Whatsoever good thou doest, be not pleased with thyself. “For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”  So then whatever good thou doest, let nought but God be pleasing to thee; whatever evil thou sufferest, let not God be displeasing to thee. What needest thou more? Do this, and thou shalt live. The days of adversity shall not overwhelm thee; thou shall escape that which is said, “Woe unto the world because of offences.” For to what world is there woe because of offences, but to that of which it is said, “And the world knew Him not?” Not to that world of which it is said, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” There is an evil world, and there is a good world; the evil world, are all the evil men in this world; and the good world, all the good in this world. As we observe frequently with a field. This field is full: of what? Of wheat. Yet we say also, and say truly too, This field is full of chaff. So with a tree, it is full of fruit. Another says, it is full of leaves. And both he who says it is full of fruit, says true; and he who says it is full of leaves, says true. Neither has the full display of leaves taken away the room for the fruit, nor the full display of the fruit driven off the abundance of leaves. It is full of both; but the one the wind searcheth out, the other the husbandman gathereth in. So therefore when thou dost hear, “Woe unto the world because of offences,” be not afraid; “love the law of God, nothing shall be an offence to thee.”

But thy wife comes to thee advising thee to some evil thing. Thou dost love her as a wife should be loved; she is one of thy members. “But if thine eye offend thee, if thine hand offend thee, if thy foot offend thee,” thou hast just heard the Gospel, “cut them off, and cast them from thee.” Whosoever he be that is dear to thee, whosoever he be that is held in high estimation by thee, let him be so long of high esteem with thee, so long thy beloved member, as he shall not begin to offend thee, that is, to advise thee to any evil. Hear now how that this is the meaning of “offence.” I have brought forward the example of Job and his wife; but there the word “offence” did not occur. Hear the Gospel: when the Lord prophesied of His Passion, Peter began to persuade him not to suffer. “Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou art an offence to Me.” Here undoubtedly the Lord who hath given thee an example of life, hath taught thee both what an “offence” is, and how an offence is to be avoided. Him to whom He had a little while before said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona;” He had shown to be His member. But when he begins to be an offence, He cuts off the member; only He restored the member, and put it into its place again. He then will be an “offence” to thee, who shall begin to persuade thee to any evil thing. And here, Beloved, take heed; this takes place for the most part not through any evil will, but through a mistaken good will. Thy friend who loves thee, and is loved by thee again, thy father, thy brother, thy child, thy wife, sees thee in an evil case, and would have thee do what is evil. What do I mean by “sees thee in an evil case”? Sees thee in some press of trouble. This pressure it may be thou art suffering for righteousness’ sake; art suffering it because thou will not give false witness. I would speak merely by way of illustration. Examples abound; for “woe to the world, because of offences.” See, for instance, some powerful person, to cover his rapine and plunder, asks of you the service of a false witness. You refuse: refuse the false oath, lest thou shouldest deny Him that is true. That I may not dwell long on this, he is angry, he is powerful, he oppresses thee: a friend comes who would not have thee in this press of trouble, in this evil case; “I pray thee, do what is told thee; what great matter is it?” And then perhaps as Satan with the Lord, “It is written of Thee, He shall give His Angels charge concerning Thee, that Thou dash not Thy foot against a stone.”  Perhaps too this friend of thine, because he sees thou art a Christian, wishes to persuade thee out of the Law to do what he thinks you ought to do. “Do what the other tells.” “What? Do what the other wishes.” “But it is a lie, it is false.” “Well, have you not read, ‘All men are liars’?” Now is he an “offence.” He is a friend, what will you do? He is an eye, he is a hand: “Cut it off, and cast it from thee.” What is, “cut it off, and cast it from thee”? Consent not to him. For members in our body make up unity by consent, by consent they live, by consent are joined together one with the other. Where there is dissent, there is disease, or a sore. He is then one of thy members; thou wilt love him. But he is an offence to thee; “Cut him off, and cast him from thee.” Consent not to him; drive him off from thine ears, it may be he will return amended.

And how wilt thou do this that I say, “Cut him off, and cast him from thee,” and so, it may be, amend him? answer me, how thou art going to do it? He wished to persuade thee out of the Law to tell a lie. For he said, “speak.” And perhaps he did not dare to say, “speak a lie;” but thus, “speak what the other wishes.” Thou sayest, “But it is a lie.” And he to excuse it, says, “All men are liars.” Then do thou, my brother, say against this, “The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul.” Mark, it is no light thing thou hast heard, “The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul.” What can that powerful enemy, who oppresseth me, do to me, that thou pitiest me, and my condition, and wouldest not have me be in this evil case; whereas thou wouldest that I should be evil? What can that powerful man do to me, and what can he oppress? The flesh. He can oppress thy body, thou wilt say: I grant he may oppress it to destruction. Still how much more mildly does he deal with me, than I should with myself were I to lie! He kills my flesh; I kill my soul. He in his power and anger slays the body; “the mouth that lieth slayeth the soul.” He slays the body; and die it must, though it should not be slain; but the soul which iniquity slayeth not, the truth receiveth for ever. Preserve then what thou canst preserve; and let that perish which must perish sometime or other. Thou hast given an answer then, but thou hast not solved the “All men are liars.” Make answer to him to this too, that he may not fancy that he has said anything to persuade to lying, in bringing a testimony out of the Law; so urging thee out of the Law against the Law. For it is written in the Law, “Thou shalt not bear false witness;” and it is written in the Law, “All men are liars.” Recur then to that which I just lately suggested, when I defined in words as best I could the “meek” man. He is “meek” to whom in all things that he does well, nothing but God is pleasing, and in all the evils which he suffers, God is not displeasing. Make answer then to him who says, Lie, for it is written, “All men are liars:” I will not lie, for it is written, “The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul.” I will not lie, because it is written, “Thou shalt destroy them that speak lying.” I will not lie, because it is written, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Though he whom I displease by the truth harass my body with oppressions, I will give ear to my Lord, “Fear not them which kill the body.”

“How then are all men liars? What! Thou art not a man, I suppose?” Answer quickly and truly. “And O that I may not be a man, that so I may not be a liar.” For see; “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are all together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no not even one.” Why? Because they wished to be sons of men. But in order that he might deliver them from these iniquities, cure, heal, change, the sons of men; “he gave them power to become the sons of God.” What marvel then! Ye were men, if we were the sons of men; ye were all men, and were liars, for, “All men are liars.” The grace of God came to you, and “gave you power to become the sons of God.” Hear the voice of My Father saying, “I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all the children of the Most High.” Since then they are men, and the sons of men, if they are not the children of the Most High, they are liars, for, “all men are liars.” If they are the sons of God, if they have been redeemed by the Saviour’s grace, if purchased with His precious Blood, if born again of water and of the Spirit, if predestinated to the inheritance of heaven, then indeed are they children of God. And so thereby are gods. What then would a lie have to do with thee? For Adam was a mere man, Christ, man and God; God, the Creator of all creation. Adam a mere man, the Man Christ, the Mediator with God, the Only Son of the Father, the God-man. Lo, thou, O man, art far from God, and God is far above man; between them the God-man placed Himself. Acknowledge Christ, and by Him as Man ascend up to God.

Being then now reformed, and, if my words have been so blessed, “meek,” let us “hold fast our profession without wavering.” Let us love the law of God, that we may escape that which is written, “Woe unto the world because of offences.” Now I would say a few words about “offences,” of which the world is full, and how it is that offences thicken, pressing troubles abound. The world is laid waste, the winepress is trodden. Ah! Christians, heavenly shoot, ye strangers on the earth, who seek a city in heaven, who long to be associated with the holy Angels; understand that ye have come here on this condition only, that ye should soon depart. Ye are passing on through the world, endeavouring to reach Him who created it. Let not the lovers of the world, who wish to remain in the world, and yet, whether they will or no, are compelled to move from it; let them not disturb you, let them not deceive nor seduce you. These pressing troubles are not offences. Be ye righteous, and they will be only exercises. Tribulation comes; it will be as ye choose it, either an exercise, or a condemnation. Such as it shall find you to be, will it be. Tribulation is a fire; does it find thee gold? it takes away the filth: does it find thee chaff? it turns it into ashes. The pressing troubles then which abound are not “offences.” But what are “offences”? Those expressions, those words in which we are thus addressed. “See what Christian times bring about;” lo, these are the true offences. For this is said to thee, to this end, that if thou love the world, thou mayest blaspheme Christ. And this he saith to thee who is thy friend, and counsellor; and so “thine eye.” This he saith to thee who ministereth to thee, and shareth thy labours, and so “thine hand.” This he saith to thee it may be who supporteth thee, who lifteth thee up from a low earthly state; and so “thy foot.” Cast them all aside, cut them off, throw them all away from thee; consent not unto them. Answer such men, as he who was advised to give false witness answered. So do thou answer too; say to the man who saith to thee, “See, it is in Christian times that there are such pressing troubles; that the whole world is laid waste;” answer him, “And this Christ foretold me, before it came to pass.”

For wherefore art thou disturbed? Thine heart is disturbed by the pressing troubles of the world, as that ship was, in which Christ was asleep. Lo! what is the cause, stout-hearted man, that thy heart is disturbed? That ship in which Christ is asleep, is the heart in which faith is asleep. For what new thing, what new thing, I ask, is told thee, Christian? “In Christian times is the world laid waste, the world is failing.” Did not thy Lord tell thee, the world shall be laid waste? Did not thy Lord tell thee, the world shall fail? Why when the promise was made, didst thou believe, and art disturbed now, when it is being completed? So then the tempest beats furiously against thine heart; beware of shipwreck, awake up Christ. The Apostle says, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Christ dwelleth in thee by faith. Present faith, is Christ present; waking faith, is Christ awake; slumbering faith, is Christ asleep. Arise and stir thyself; say, “Lord, we perish.” See what the Heathen say to us; and what is worse, what evil Christians say! Awake up, O Lord, we perish. Let thy faith awake, and Christ begins to speak to thee. “‘Why art thou troubled?’ I told thee beforehand of all these things. I foretold them, that when evils came, thou mightest hope for good things, that thou mightest not faint in the evil.” Wonderest thou that the world is failing? Wonder that the world is grown old. It is as a man who is born, and grows up, and waxes old. There are many complaints in old age; the cough, the rheum, the weakness of the eyes, fretfulness, and weariness. So then as when a man is old; he is full of complaints; so is the world old; and is full of troubles. Is it a little thing that God hath done for thee, in that in the world’s old age, He hath sent Christ unto thee, that He may renew thee then, when all is failing? Dost thou not know that He notified this in the seed of Abraham? “The seed of Abraham,” says the Apostle, “which is Christ. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of One, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Therefore was there a son born to Abraham in his old age, because in the old age of this world was Christ to come. He came when all things were growing old, and made them new. As a made, created, perishing thing, the world was now declining to its fall. It could not but be that it should abound in troubles; He came both to console thee in the midst of present troubles, and to promise thee everlasting rest. Choose not then to cleave to this aged world, and to be unwilling to grow young in Christ, who telleth thee, “The world is perishing, the world is waxing old, the world is failing; is distressed by the heavy breathing of old age. But do not fear, “Thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle’s.”

See, they say, in Christian times it is that Rome perishes. Perhaps Rome is not perishing; perhaps she is only scourged, not utterly destroyed; perhaps she is chastened, not brought to nought. It may be so; Rome will not perish, if the Romans do not perish. And perish they will not if they praise God; perish they will if they blaspheme Him. For what is Rome, but the Romans? For the question is not of her wood and stones, of her lofty insulated  palaces, and all her spacious walls. All this was made only on this condition that it should fall some other day. When man built it, he laid stone on stone; and when man destroyed it, he removed stone from stone. Man made it, man destroyed it. Is any injury done to Rome, because it is said, “She is falling”? No, not to Rome, but to her builder perhaps. Do we then its builder any injury, because we say, Rome is falling, which Romulus built? This world itself will be burnt with fire, which God built. But neither does what man has made fall to ruin, except when God wills it; nor what God has made, except when He wills. For if the work of man fall not without God’s will, how can God’s work fall by the will of man? Yet God both made the world that was one day to fall for thee; and therefore made He thee as one who was one day to die. Man himself, the city’s ornament, man himself, the city’s inhabitant, ruler, governor, comes on this condition that he may go, is born on this condition that he may die, entered into the world on this condition that he may pass away; “Heaven and earth shall pass away:” what wonder then if some time or other there should be an end of a single city? And yet peradventure the city’s end is not come now; yet some time or other come it will. But why does Rome perish amid the sacrifices of Christians? Why was her mother Troy burnt amid the sacrifices of Heathens? The gods in whom the Romans have placed all their hope, yea the Roman gods in whom the Heathen Romans placed their hope, removed from the flames of Troy to found Rome. These very gods of Rome were originally the gods of Troy. Troy was burnt, and Æneas took the fugitive gods; yea rather himself a fugitive he took away these senseless gods. For they could be carried by the fugitive; but they could not flee away themselves. And coming with these gods into Italy, with these false gods, he founded Rome. It is too long to go through the whole story; yet would I briefly mention what their own writings contain. An author of theirs well known to all speaks thus; “As I have received the account, the Trojans who under the guidance of Æneas were wandering about as fugitives without any settled abode, originally built and inhabited Rome.” So they had their gods with them, they builded Rome in Latium, and there they placed the gods to be worshipped, which before were worshipped in Troy. Juno is introduced by their poet, incensed against Æneas and the fugitive Trojans, saying,

“A race of wandering slaves abhorred by me,

With prosperous passage cuts the Tuscan sea,

To fruitful Italy their course they steer,

And for their vanquished gods, design new temples

there.”

Now when these vanquished gods were carried into Italy, was it as a protecting deity, or as a presage of their future fall? “Love” therefore “the law of God, and nothing shall be an offence to you.” We pray you, we beseech you, we exhort you; be meek, sympathize with the suffering, bear the weak; and on this occasion of the concourse of so many strangers, and needy, and suffering people, let your hospitality and your good works abound. Let but Christians do what Christ enjoineth, and so will the Heathen blaspheme only to their own hurt.

 
32 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 15', “If thy brother sin against thee, go, shew him his fault between thee and him alone;” and of the words of Solomon, he that winketh with the eyes deceitfully, heapeth sorrow upon men; but he that reproveth openly, maketh peace.

1. Our Lord warns us not to neglect one another’s sins, not by searching out what to find fault with, but by looking out for what to amend. For He said that his eye is sharp to cast out a mote out of his brother’s eye, who has not a beam in his own eye. Now what this means, I will briefly convey to you, Beloved. A mote in the eye is anger; a beam in the eye is hatred. When therefore one who has hatred finds fault with one who is angry, he wishes to take a mote out of his brother’s eye, but is hindered by the beam which he carries in his own eye. A mote is the beginning of a beam. For a beam in the course of its growth, is first a mote. By watering the mote, you bring it to a beam; by nourishing anger with evil suspicions, you bring it on to hatred.

Now there is a great difference between the sin of one who is angry, and the cruelty of one who holds another in hatred. For even with our children are we angry; but who is ever found to hate his children? Among the very cattle too, the cow in a sort of weariness will sometimes in anger drive away her sucking calf; but anon she embraces it with all the affection of a mother. She is in a way disgusted with it, when she butts at it; yet when she misses it, she will seek after it. Nor do we discipline our children otherwise, than with a degree of anger and indignation; yet we should not discipline them at all, but in love to them. So far then is every one who is angry from hating; that sometimes one would be rather convicted of hating, if he were not angry. For suppose a child wishes to play in some river’s stream, by whose force he would be like to perish; if you see this, and patiently suffer it, this would be hating; your patient suffering him, is his death. How far better is it to be angry and correct him, than by not being angry to suffer him to perish! Above all things then is hatred to be avoided, and the beam to be cast out of the eye. Great is the difference indeed between one’s exceeding due limits in some words through anger, which he afterwards wipes off by repenting of it; and the keeping an insidious purpose shut up in the heart. Great, lastly, the difference between these words of Scripture; “Mine eye is disordered because of anger.” Whereas of the other it is said, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” Great is the difference between an eye disordered, and clean put out. A mote disorders, a beam puts clean out.

In order then that we may be able well to do and to fulfil what we have been admonished of to-day, let us first persuade ourselves to this, above all things to have no hate. For when there is no beam in thine own eye, thou seest rightly whatever may be in thy brother’s eye; and art uneasy, till thou cast out of thy brother’s eye what thou seest to hurt it. The light that is in thee, doth not allow thee to neglect thy brother’s light. Whereas if thou hate, and wouldest correct him, how dost thou improve his light, when thou hast lost thine own light? For the same Scripture, where it is written, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer,” hath expressly told us this also. “He that hateth his brother is in darkness even until now.” Hatred then is darkness. Now it cannot but be, that he who hateth another, should first injure himself. For him he endeavours to hurt outwardly, he lays himself waste inwardly. Now in proportion as our soul is of more value than our body, so much the more ought we to provide for it, that it be not hurt. But he that hateth another, doth hurt his own soul. And what would he do to him whom he hateth? What would he do? He takes away his money, can he take his faith away? he wounds his good fame, can he wound his conscience? Whatever injury he does, is but external; now observe what his injury to himself is? For he who hateth another is an enemy to himself within. But because he is not sensible of what harm he is doing to himself, he is violent against another, and that the more dangerously, that he is not sensible of the evil he is doing to himself; because by this very violence he has lost the power of perception. Thou art violent against thine enemy; by this violence of thine he is spoiled, and thou art wicked. Great is the difference between the two. He hath lost his money, thou thine innocence. Ask which hath suffered the heavier loss? He hath lost a thing that was sure to perish, and thou art become one who must now perish thyself.

Therefore ought we to rebuke in love; not with any eager desire to injure, but with an earnest care to amend. If we be so minded, most excellently do we practise that which we have been recommended to-day; “If thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between thee and him alone.” Why dost thou rebuke him? Because thou art grieved, that he should have sinned against thee? God forbid. If from love of thyself thou do it, thou doest nothing. If from love to him thou do it, thou doest excellently. In fact, observe in these words themselves, for the love of whom thou oughtest to do it, whether of thyself or him. “If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Do it for his sake then, that thou mayest “gain” him. If by so doing thou “gain” him, hadst thou not done it, he would have been lost. How is it then that most men disregard these sins, and say, “What great thing have I done? I have only sinned against man.” Disregard them not. Thou hast sinned against man; but wouldest thou know that in sinning against man thou art lost. If he, against whom thou hast sinned, have “rebuked thee between thee and him alone,” and thou hast listened to him, he hath “gained” thee. What can “hath gained thee,” mean; but that thou hadst been lost, if he had not gained thee. For if thou wouldest not have been lost, how hath he gained thee? Let no man then disregard it, when he sins against a brother. For the Apostle saith in a certain place, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ;” for this reason, because we have been all made members of Christ. How dost thou not sin against Christ, who sinnest against a member of Christ?

Let no one therefore say, “I have not sinned against God, but against a brother. I have sinned against a man, it is a trifling sin, or no sin at all.” It may be, thou sayest it is a trifling sin, because it is soon cured. Thou hast sinned against a brother; give him satisfaction, and thou art made whole. Thou didst a deadly thing quickly, but quickly too hast thou found a remedy. Who of us, my Brethren, can hope for the kingdom of heaven, when the Gospel says, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire?” Exceeding terror! but behold in the same place the remedy: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar.” God is not angry that thou deferrest to lay thy gift upon the Altar. It is thee that God seeketh more than thy gift. For if thou come with a gift to thy God, bearing an evil mind against thy brother, He will answer thee, “Thou art lost, what hast thou brought Me? Thou bringest thy gift, and thou art thyself no proper gift for God. Christ seeketh him whom He hath redeemed with His Blood, more than what thou hast found in thy barn.” So then, “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and so thou shalt come and offer thy gift.” Lo that “danger of hell fire,” how quickly dissolved it is! When thou wast not yet reconciled, thou wast “in danger of hell fire;” once reconciled, thou offerest thy gift before the altar in all security.

But men are easy and ready enough to inflict injuries, and hard to seek for reconciliation. Ask pardon, says one, of him whom thou hast offended, of him whom thou hast injured. He answers, “I will not so humble myself.” But now if thou despise thy brother, at least give ear to thy God. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Wilt thou refuse to humble thyself, who hast already fallen? Great is the difference between one who humbleth himself, and one who lieth on the ground. Already dost thou lie on the ground, and wilt thou then not humble thyself? Thou mightest well say, I will not descend; if thou hadst first been unwilling to fall.

This then ought one to do who hath done an injury. And he who hath suffered one, what ought he to do? What we have heard to-day, “If thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between thee and him alone.” If thou shall neglect this, thou art worse than he. He hath done an injury, and by doing an injury, hath stricken himself with a grievous wound; wilt thou disregard thy brother’s wound? Wilt thou see him perishing, or already lost, and disregard his case? Thou art worse in keeping silence, than he in his reviling. Therefore when any one sins against us, let us take great care, not for ourselves, for it is a glorious thing to forget injuries; only forget thine own injury, not thy brother’s wound. Therefore “rebuke him between thee and him alone,” intent upon his amendment, but sparing his shame. For it may be that through shame-facedness he will begin to defend his sin, and so thou wilt make him whom thou desirest to amend, still worse. “Rebuke him” therefore “between him and thee alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother;” because he would have been lost, hadst thou not done it. But “if he will not hear thee,” that is, if he will defend his sin as if it were a just action, “take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established; and if he will not hear them, refer it to the Church; but if he will not hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Reckon him no more amongst the number of thy brethren. But yet neither is his salvation on that account to be neglected. For the very heathen, that is, the Gentiles and Pagans, we do not reckon among the number of brethren; but yet are we ever seeking their salvation. This then have we heard the Lord so advising, and with such great carefulness enjoining, that He even added this immediately, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” Thou hast begun to hold thy brother for a publican; “thou bindest him on earth;” but see that thou bind him justly. For unjust bonds justice doth burst asunder. But when thou hast corrected, and been “reconciled to thy brother,” thou hast “loosed him on earth.” And when “thou shalt have loosed him on earth, he shall be loosed in heaven also.” Thus thou doest a great thing, not for thyself, but for him; for a great injury had he done, not to thee, but to himself.

But since this is so, what is that which Solomon says, and which we heard first to-day out of another lesson, “He that winketh with the eyes deceitfully, heapeth sorrow upon men; but he that reproveth openly, maketh peace”? If then “he that reproveth openly, maketh peace;” how “rebuke him between him and thee alone”? We must fear, lest the divine precepts should be contrary to one another. But no: let us understand that there is the most perfect agreement in them, let us not follow the conceits of certain vain ones, who in their error think that the two Testaments in the Old and New Books are contrary to each other; that so we should think that there is any contradiction here, because one is in the book of Solomon, and the other in the Gospel. For if any one unskilful in, and a reviler of the divine Scriptures, were to say, “See where the two Testaments contradict each other. The Lord saith, ‘Rebuke him between him and thee alone.’ Solomon saith, ‘He that reproveth openly maketh peace.’” Doth not the Lord then know what He hath commanded? Solomon would have the sinners’ hard forehead bruised: Christ spareth his shame who blushes for his sins. For in the one place it is written, “He that reproveth openly maketh peace;” but in the other, “Rebuke him between him and thee alone;” not “openly,” but apart and secretly. But wouldest thou know, whosoever thou art that thinkest such things, that the two Testaments are not opposed to each other, because the first of these passages is found in the book of Solomon, and the other in the Gospel? Hear the Apostle. And surely the Apostle is a Minister of the New Testament. Hear the Apostle Paul then, charging Timothy, and saying, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” So then not the book of Solomon, but an Epistle of Paul the Apostle seems to be at issue with the Gospel. Let us then without any prejudice to his honour lay aside Solomon for a while; let us hear the Lord Christ and His servant Paul. What sayest Thou, O Lord? “If thy brother sin against thee, rebuke him between him and thee alone.” What sayest thou, O Apostle? “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” What are we about? Are we listening to this controversy as judges? That be far from us. Yea, rather as those whose place is under the Judge, let us knock, that we may obtain, that it be opened to us; let us fly beneath the wings of our Lord God. For He did not speak in contradiction to His Apostle, seeing that He Himself spoke “in” him also, as he says, “Would ye receive a proof of Christ, who speaketh in me?” Christ in the Gospel, Christ in the Apostle: Christ therefore spake both; one by His own Mouth, the other by the mouth of His herald. For when the herald pronounces anything from the tribunal, it is not written in the records, “the herald said it;” but he is written as having said it, who commanded the herald what to say.

Let us then so give ear to these two precepts, Brethren, as that we may understand them, and let us settle ourselves in peace between them both. Let us but be in agreement with our own heart, and Holy Scripture will in no part disagree with itself. It is entirely true, both precepts are true; but we must make a distinction, that sometimes the one, sometimes the other must be done; that sometimes a brother must be “reproved between him and thee alone,” sometimes a brother “must be reproved before all, that others also may fear.” If we do sometimes the one, and sometimes the other, we shall hold fast the harmony of the Scriptures, and shall not err in fulfilling and obeying them. But a man will say to me, “When am I to do this one, and when the other? lest I ‘reprove between me and him alone,’ when I ought to ‘reprove before all;’ or ‘reprove before all,’ when I ought to reprove in secret.”

You will soon see, Beloved, what we ought to do, and when; only I would we may not be slow to practise it. Attend and see: “If thy brother sin against thee, rebuke him between him and thee alone.” Why? Because it is against thee that he hath sinned. What is that, “hath sinned against thee”? Thou knowest that he hath sinned. For because it was secret when he sinned against thee, seek for secresy, when thou dost correct his sin. For if thou only know that he hath sinned against thee, and thou wouldest “rebuke him before all,” thou art not a reprover, but a betrayer. Consider how that “just man” Joseph spared his wife with such exceeding kindness, in so great a crime as he had suspected her of, before he knew by whom she had conceived; because he perceived that she was with child, and he knew that he had not come in unto her. There remained then an unavoidable suspicion of adultery, and yet because he only had perceived, he only knew it, what does the Gospel say of him? “Then Joseph being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example.” The husband’s grief sought no revenge; he wished to profit, not to punish the sinner. “And not willing to make her a public example, he was minded to put her away privily.” But while he thought on these things, “behold, the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him,” in sleep; and told him how it was, that she had not defiled her husband’s bed, but that she had conceived of the Holy Ghost the Lord of them both. Thy brother then hath sinned against thee; if thou alone know it, then hath he really sinned against thee alone. For if in the hearing of many he hath done thee an injury, he hath sinned against them also whom he hath made witnesses of his iniquity. For I tell you, my dearly beloved Brethren, what you can yourselves recognise in your own case. When any one does my brother an injury in my hearing, God forbid that I should think that injury unconnected with myself. Certainly he has done it to me also; yea to me the rather, to whom he thought what he did was pleasing. Therefore those sins are to be reproved before all, which are committed before all; they are to be reproved with more secresy, which are committed more secretly. Distinguish times, and Scripture is in harmony with itself.

1So let us act; and so must we act not only when the sin is committed against ourselves, but when the sin is so committed by any one as that it is unknown by the other. In secret ought we to rebuke, in secret to reprove him; lest if we would reprove him publicly, we should betray the man. We wish to rebuke and reform him; but what if his enemy is looking out to hear something that he may punish? For example, a Bishop knows of some one who has killed another, and no one else knows of him. I wish to reprove him publicly; but thou art seeking to prosecute him.Decidedly then I will neither betray him, nor neglect him; I will reprove him in secret; I will set the judgment of God before his eyes; I will alarm his bloodstained conscience; I will persuade him to repentance. With this charity ought we to be endued. And hence men sometimes find fault with us, as if we do not reprove; or they think that we know what we do not know, or that we hush up what we know. And it may be that what thou knowest, I know also but I will not reprove in thy presence I because I wish to cure, not to act informer. There are men who commit adultery in their own houses, they sin in secret, sometimes they are discovered to us by their own wives, generally through jealousy, sometimes as seeking their husband’s salvation; in such cases we do not betray them openly, but reprove them in secret. Where the evil has happened, there let the evil die. Yet do we not neglect that wound; above all things showing the man who is in such a sinful state, and bears such a wounded conscience, that that is a deadly wound which they who suffer from, sometimes by an unaccountable perverseness despise; and seek out testimonies in their favour, I know not whence, null certainly and void, saying, “God careth not for sins of the flesh.” Where is that then which we have heard to-day, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge”? Lo! whosoever thou art that labourest under such a disease attend. Hear what God saith; not what thine own mind, in indulgence to thine own sins, may say, or what thy friend, thine enemy rather and his own too, bound in the same bond of iniquity with thee may say. Hear then what the Apostle saith; “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

1Come then, Brother, be reformed. Thou art afraid lest thine enemy should prosecute thee; and art thou not afraid lest God should judge thee? Where is thy faith? Fear whilst there is the time for fear. Far off indeed is the day of judgment; but every man’s last day cannot be far off; for life is short. And since this shortness is ever uncertain, thou knowest not when thy last day may be. Reform thyself today, because of to-morrow. Let the reproof in secret be of service to thee now. For I am speaking openly, yet do I reprove in secret. I knock at the ears of all; but I accost the consciences of some. If I were to say, “Thou adulterer, reform thyself;” perhaps in the first place I might say what I had no knowledge of; perhaps suspect on a rash hearsay report. I do not then say, “Thou adulterer, reform thyself;” but “whosoever thou art among this people who art an adulterer, reform thyself.” So the reproof is public; the reformation secret. This I know, that whoso feareth, will reform himself.

1Let no one say in his heart, “God careth not for sins of the flesh.” “Know ye not,” saith the Apostle, “that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.” “Let no man deceive himself.” But perhaps a man will say, “My soul is the temple of God, not my body,” and will add this testimony also, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” Unhappy interpretation! conceit meet for punishment! The flesh is called grass, because it dies; but take thou heed that that which dies for a time, rise not again with guilt. Wouldest thou ascertain a plain judgment on this point also? “Know ye not,” says the same Apostle, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?” Do not then any longer disregard sins of the body; seeing that your “bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God.” If thou didst disregard a sin of the body, wilt thou disregard a sin which thou committest against a temple? Thy very body is a temple of the Spirit of God within thee. Now take heed what thou doest with the temple of God. If thou wert to choose to commit adultery in the Church within these walls, what wickedness could be greater? But now thou art thyself the temple of God. In thy going out, in thy coming in, as thou abidest in thy house, as thou risest up, in all thou art a temple. Take heed then what thou doest, take heed that thou offend not the Indweller of the temple, lest He forsake thee, and thou fall into ruins. “Know ye not,” he says, “that your bodies” (and this the Apostle spake touching fornication, that they might not think lightly of sins of the body) “are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” For “ye have been bought with a great price.” If thou think so lightly of thine own body, have some consideration for thy price.

1I know, and as I do every one knows, who has used a little more than ordinary consideration, that no man who has any fear of God omits to reform himself in obedience to His words, but he who thinks that he has longer time to live. This it is which kills so many, while they are saying, “To-morrow, To-morrow;” and suddenly the door is shut. He remains outside with the raven’s croak, because he had not the moaning of the dove. “To-morrow, To-morrow;” is the raven’s croak. Moan plaintively as the dove, and beat thy breast; but whilst thou art inflicting blows on thy breast, be the better for the beating; lest thou seem not to beat thy conscience, but rather with blows to harden it, and make an evil conscience more unyielding instead of better. Moan with no fruitless moaning. For it may be thou art saying to thyself, “God hath promised me forgiveness, whenever I reform myself I am secure; I read the divine Scripture, “In the day that the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful and right, I will forget all his iniquities.” I am secure then, whenever I reform myself, God will give me pardon for my evil deeds.” What can I say to this? Shall I lift up my voice against God? Shall I say to God, Do not give him pardon? Shall I say, This is not written, God hath not promised this? If I should say ought of this, I should say falsely. Thou speakest well and truly; God hath promised pardon on thy amendment, I cannot deny it; but tell me, I pray thee; see, I consent, I grant, I acknowledge that God hath promised thee pardon, but who hath promised thee a to-morrow? Where thou dost read to me that thou shalt receive pardon, if thou reform thyself; there read to me how long thou hast to live. Thou dost confess, “I cannot read it there.” Thou knowest not then how long thou hast to live. Reform thyself, and so be always ready. Be not afraid of the last day, as a thief, who will break up thy house as thou sleepest; but awake and reform thyself to-day. Why dost thou put it off till to-morrow? If thy life is to be a long one, let it be both long and good. No one puts off a good dinner, because it is to be a long one, and dost thou wish to have a long evil life? Surely if it is to be long, it will be all the better if it be good; if it is to be short, it is well that its good be as long as possible. But men neglect their life to such a degree, as that they are unwilling to have anything bad except it. You buy a farm, and you look out for a good one; you wish to marry a wife, you choose a good one; you wish for the birth of children, and you long for good ones; you bargain for shoes, and you do not wish for bad ones; and yet a bad life you do love. How hath thy life offended thee, that thou art willing to have it only bad; that amid all thy good things thou shouldest thyself alone be evil?

1So then, my Brethren, if I should wish to reprove any of you individually in secret, perhaps he would listen to me. I reprove many of you now in public; all praise me; may some give attentive heed to me! I have no love for him who praises me with his voice, and with his heart despises me. For when thou dost praise, and not reform thyself, thou art a witness against thyself. If thou art evil, and thou art pleased with what I say, be displeased with thyself; because if thou art displeased with thyself as being evil, when thou dost reform, thou wilt be well pleased with thyself, which if I mistake not I said the day before yesterday. In all my words I set a mirror before you. Nor are they my words, but I speak at the bidding of the Lord, by whose terrors I refrain from keeping silence. For who would not rather choose to keep silence, and not to give account for you? But now I have undertaken the burden, and I cannot, and I ought not to shake it off my shoulders. When the Epistle to the Hebrews was being read, my Brethren, ye heard, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.” When do we it with joy? When we see man making progress in the words of God. When does the labourer in the field work with joy? When he looks at the tree, and sees the fruit; when he looks at the crop, and sees the prospect of abundance of corn in the floor; when he sees that he has not laboured in vain, has not bowed his back, and bruised his hands, and endured the cold and heat in vain. This is what he says, “That they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.” Did he say, “unprofitable for them”? No. He said, “unprofitable for you.” For when those who are set over you are saddened at your evil deeds, it is profitable for them; their very sadness is profitable for them; but it is unprofitable for you. But we do not wish that anything should be profitable for us, which for you is unprofitable. Let us then, Brethren, do good together in the Lord’s field; that at the reward we may rejoice together.

 
33 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 21', “How oft shall my brother sin against me,” etc.

1. Yesterday the holy Gospel warned us not to neglect the sins of our brethren: “But if thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between him and thee alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he shall refuse to hear thee, take with thee two or three more; that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them too, tell it to the Church. But if he shall neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” To-day also the section which follows, and which we heard when it was read, relates to the same subject. For when the Lord Jesus had said this to Peter, he went on to ask his Master, how often he should forgive a brother who had sinned against him; and he enquired whether seven times would be enough. “The Lord answered him, Not only seven times, but seventy times seven.” Then he added a parable very full of terror: That the “kingdom of heaven is like unto an householder, which took account with his servants; among whom he found one that owed ten thousand talents. And when he commanded all that he had, and all his family, and himself to be sold, and the debt to be paid, he fell down at his lord’s feet,” and prayed for delay, and obtained entire remission. For as we have heard, “His lord was moved with compassion, and forgave him all the debt.” Then that man free from his debt, but a bondslave of iniquity, after he had gone out from the presence of his lord, found in his turn a debtor of his own, who owed him, not ten thousand talents, the sum which had been remitted to him, but a hundred denarii; and “he began to drag him by the throat, and say, Pay me that thou owest.” Then he besought his fellow-servant as he had done his lord; but he did not find his fellow-servant such a man as the other had found his lord. He not only would not forgive him the debt; but he did not even grant him a delay. He hurried him along with great violence to make him pay, he who had been but just now set free from his debt to his lord. His fellow-servants were displeased; and “went and told their lord what was done;” and the lord summoned his servant to his presence, and said to him, “O thou wicked servant, when thou didst owe me so great a debt, in pity to thee I forgave thee all. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?” And he commanded that all which he had forgiven him should be paid.

It is then for our instruction that He put forth this parable, and by this warning He would save us from perishing. “So,” said He, “shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Lo, Brethren, the thing is plain, useful is the admonition, and a wholesome obedience is by all means due, that what hath been bidden may be fulfilled. For every man is at once God’s debtor, and hath also some brother a debtor to himself. For who is there who is not God’s debtor, but he in whom there can be found no sin? And who is there who hath not a brother his debtor, but he against whom no one hath sinned? Think you that any one among mankind can be found, who is not himself bounden to his brother by some sin? So then every man is a debtor, yet having himself his own debtors too. The righteous God therefore appointeth a rule for thee toward thy debtor, which He also will observe with His. For two works of mercy are there, which deliver us, which the Lord hath Himself briefly laid down in the Gospel: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you.” “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” relates to pardoning. “Give, and it shall be given unto you,” relates to doing kindnesses. As to what He saith of pardoning, thou both wishest thy sin to be pardoned thee, and thou hast another whom thou mayest pardon. Again, as to the doing kindnesses; a beggar asks of thee, and thou art God’s beggar. For we are all when we pray God’s beggars; we stand, yea rather we fall prostrate before the door of the Great Householder, we groan in supplication wishing to receive something; and this something is God Himself. What does the beggar ask of thee? Bread. And what dost thou ask of God, but Christ, who saith, “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven”? Would you be forgiven? Forgive. “Forgive, and it shall be forgiven you.” Would you receive? “Give, and it shall be given unto you.”

But now hear what in so plain a precept I may cause a difficulty. In this question of forgiveness when pardon is asked, and it is due from him who should grant it, it may be a difficulty to us as it was to Peter. “How often ought I to forgive? Is up to seven times sufficient?” “It is not sufficient,” saith the Lord, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.” Now reckon up how often thy brother hath sinned against thee. If thou canst reach the seventy-eighth fault, so as to get beyond the seventy times seven, then set about revenge. Is this then what He really means, and is it really so, that if he shall sin “seventy times seven,” thou shouldest forgive him; but if he shall sin seventy times and eight, it should then be lawful for thee not to forgive? Nay I am bold to say, that if he should even sin seventy-eight times, thou must forgive. Yea, as I have said, if he shall sin seventy-eight times, forgive. And if he sin a hundred times, forgive. And why need I say, so and so often? In one word, as often as he shall sin, forgive him. Have I then taken upon me to overpass the measure of my Lord? He fixed the limit of forgiveness in the number seventy-seven; shall I presume to overleap this limit? It is not so, I have not presumed to go at all beyond. I have heard the Lord Himself speaking in His Apostle where there is no measure or number fixed. For He says, “Forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, as God in Christ hath forgiven you.”  Here you have the rule. If Christ have forgiven thee thy sins “seventy times and seven” only, if He have pardoned up to this point, and refused to pardon beyond it; then do thou also fix this limit, and be loth to forgive beyond it. But if Christ hath found thousands of sins upon sins, and hath yet forgiven all; withdraw not then thy mercy, but ask the forgiveness of that large number. For it was not without a meaning that the Lord said “seventy times seven;” forasmuch as there is no trespass whatever which thou oughtest not to forgive. See this servant in the parable, who being a debtor was found to have a debtor, owed ten thousand talents. And I suppose that ten thousand talents are at least ten thousand sins. For I will not say how but one talent will include all sins. But how much did the other servant owe him? He owed a hundred denarii. Now is not this more than “seventy and seven”? And yet the Lord was wroth, because he did not forgive him. For not only is a hundred more than “seventy-seven;” but a hundred denarii, perhaps are a thousand” asses.” But what was this to ten thousand talents?

And so let us be ready to forgive all the trespasses which are committed against us, if we desire to be forgiven. For if we consider our sins, and reckon up what we do in deed, what by the eye, what by the ear, what by thought, what by numberless movements; I know not whether we so much as sleep without a talent. And therefore do we daily beg, daily knock at the ears of God by prayer, daily prostrate ourselves and say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” What debts of thine? All, or a certain part? Thou wilt answer, All. So then do thou with thy debtor. This then is the rule thou layest down, this the condition thou speakest of; this the covenant and agreement thou dost mention when thou prayest, saying, “Forgive us, as we forgive our debtors.”

What then, Brethren, is the meaning of “seventy times seven”? Hear, for it is a great mystery, a wonderful sacrament. When the Lord was baptized, the Evangelist St. Luke has in that place commemorated His generations in the regular order, series, and line in which they had come down to that generation in which Christ was born. Matthew begins at Abraham, and comes down to Joseph in a descending order; but Luke begins to reckon in an ascending order. Why does the one reckon in a descending, and the other in an ascending order? Because Matthew set forth the generation of Christ by which He came down to us; and so he began to reckon when Christ was born in a descending order. Whereas, because Luke begins to reckon when Christ was baptized; in this is the beginning of ascension, he begins to reckon in an ascending order, and in his reckoning he has completed seventy-seven generations. With whom did he begin his reckoning? Observe with whom? He began to reckon from Christ up to Adam himself, who was the first sinner, and who begat us with the bond of sin. He reckoned up to Adam, and so there are reckoned seventy-seven generations; that is, from Christ up to Adam and from Adam up to Christ are the aforesaid seventy-seven generations. So then if no generation was omitted, there is no exemption of any trespass which ought not to be forgiven. For therefore did he reckon up his seventy-seven generations, which number the Lord mentioned as to the forgiveness of sins; since he begins to reckon from the baptism, wherein all sins are remitted.

And, Brethren, observe in this a yet greater mystery. In the number seventy-seven is a mystery of the remission of sins. So many are the generations found to be from Christ to Adam. Now then, ask with somewhat more careful diligence for the secret meaning of this number, and enquire into its hidden meaning; with more careful diligence knock, that it may be opened unto thee. Righteousness consists in the observance of the Law of God: true. For the Law is set forth in ten precepts. Therefore it was that the servant in the parable “owed ten thousand talents.” This is that memorable Decalogue written by the finger of God, and delivered to the people by Moses, the servant of God. He “owed” then “ten thousand talents;” which signifies all sins, with reference to the number of the Law. And the other “owed a hundred denarii;” derived equally from the same number. For a hundred times a hundred make ten thousand; and ten times ten make a hundred. And the one “owed ten thousand talents,” and the other ten times ten denarii. For there was no departure from the number of the law, and in both numbers you will find every kind of sin included. Both are debtors, and both implore and beg for pardon; but the wicked, ungrateful servant would not repay what he had received, would not grant the mercy which had been undeservedly accorded to him.

Consider then, Brethren; every man begins from Baptism; he goes out free, the “ten thousand talents” are forgiven him; and when he goes out, he will soon find some fellow-servant his debtor. Let him note then, what sin itself is; for the number eleven is the transgression of the law. For the law is ten, sin eleven. For the law is denoted by ten, sin by eleven. Why is sin denoted by eleven? Because to get to eleven, there is the transgression of the ten. But the due limit is fixed in the law; and the transgression of it is sin. Now when you have passed beyond the ten, you come to eleven. This high mystery was figured out when the tabernacle was commanded to be built. There are many things mentioned there in number, which are a great mystery. Among the rest, curtains of haircloth were ordered to be made not ten, but eleven; because by haircloth is signified the confession of sins. Now what do you require more? Would you know how that all sins are contained in this number “seventy-seven”? Seven then is usually put for a whole; because in seven days the revolution of time is completed, and when the seventh is ended, it returns to the first again, that the same revolution may be continued. In such revolutions whole ages pass away: yet there is no departure from the number seven. For He spoke of all sins, when He said “seventy times seven;” for multiply that eleven seven times, and it makes seventy-seven. Therefore would He have all sins forgiven, for He marked them out by the number” seventy-seven.” Let no one then retain against himself by refusing to forgive, lest it be retained against him, when he prayeth. For God saith, “Forgive, and thou shalt be forgiven.” For I have forgiven thee first; do thou at least forgive after that. For if thou wilt not forgive, I will call thee back, and put upon thee again all that I had remitted to thee. For the Truth doth not speak falsely; Christ neither deceiveth, nor is deceived, and He hath said at the close of the parable, “So likewise shall your Father which is in heaven do unto you.” Thou findest a Father, imitate thy Father. For if thou wilt not imitate Him, thou art devising to be disinherited. “So likewise” then “shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Say not with the tongue, “I forgive,” and put off to forgive in the heart; for by His threat of vengeance God showeth thee thy punishment. God knoweth where thou speakest. Man can hear thy voice; God looketh into thy conscience. If thou sayest, I forgive; forgive. Better is it that thou shouldest be violent in words, and forgive in the heart, than in words be soft, and in the heart relentless.

Now then unruly boys will beg, and take it hard to be beat taking exception against us when we wish to chastise them after this fashion. “I have sinned, but forgive me.” Well, I have forgiven, and he sins again. “Forgive me,” he cries, and I have forgiven him. He sins a third time. “Forgive me,” he cries, and a third time I have forgiven him. Now then the fourth time let him be beat. And he will say, “What! have I tired you out to seventy-seven times?” Now if by such exceptions the severity of discipline sleep, upon the suppression of discipline wickedness will rage with impunity. What then is to be done? Let us reprove with words, and if need be with scourges; but let us withal forgive the sin, and cast away the remembrance of it from the heart. For therefore did the Lord add, “from your hearts,” that though through affection discipline be exercised, gentleness might not depart out of the heart. For what is so kind and gentle as the surgeon with his knife? He that is to be cut cries, yet cut he is; he that is to be cauterized cries, but cauterized he is. This is not cruelty; on no account let that surgeon’s treatment be called cruelty. Cruel he is against the wounded part that the patient may be cured; for if the wound be softly dealt with, the man is lost. Thus then would I advise, my Brethren, that we love our brethren, howsoever they may have sinned against us; that we let not affection toward them depart out of our hearts, and that when need is, we exercise discipline toward them; lest by the relaxation of discipline, wickedness increase, and we begin to be accused on God’s behalf, for it has been read to us, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” Certainly, if one, as is the only true way, distinguishes the times, and so solves the question, all is true. If the sin be in secret, rebuke it in secret. If the sin be public and open, rebuke it publicly that the sinner may be reformed; and “that others also may fear.”

 
34 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 17', “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.”

1. The Lord said to a certain young man, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” He did not say, “If thou wilt enter into life eternal,” but “If thou wilt enter into life;” laying down that as life, which is to be life eternal. Let us first then set forth the value of the love of this life. For even this present life, under whatever circumstances, is loved; and men fear and dread to end it of whatever kind it be; however full of trouble and misery. Hence may we see, hence consider, how the life eternal should be loved; when this life so miserable, and which must sometime come to an end, is loved so much. Consider, Brethren, how greatly should that life be loved, where thou wilt never end life. Thou dost love, it seems, this present life, where thou dost labour so much, hastest to and fro, art busy, sufferest fatigue; yea scarcely to be enumerated are the necessities of this miserable life; sowing, ploughing, clearing the ground, sailing, grinding, cooking, weaving; and after all these things thou hast to end thy life. See the evils thou dost suffer in this miserable life, which thou lovest; and dost thou think that thou shalt always live, and never die? Temples, stones, marbles, joined so strongly together with iron and lead, fall into ruin for all their strength; and does a man suppose that he shall never die? Learn then, Brethren, to seek for eternal life, where you will not endure all this, but will reign with God for ever. “For he who wisheth life,” as the Prophet says, “loveth to see good days.”  For in evil days death is rather wished for than life. Do we not hear and see men when they are involved in some tribulations and distresses, in law-suits or sicknesses and they see that they are in travail, do we not hear them saying nothing else but, “O God, send me death, hasten my days”? Yet when sickness comes, they run about, and physicians are fetched, and money and rewards are promised. Death himself says to thee, “Lo, here I am, whom but a little while ago thou wert asking of the Lord, why wouldest thou fly from me now? I have found thee to be a self-deceiver, and a lover of this miserable life.”

But as concerning these days which we are passing now, the Apostle says, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Are not these days indeed evil which we spend in this corruptible flesh, in or under so heavy a load of the corruptible body, amid so great temptations, amid so great difficulties, where there is but false pleasure, no security of joy, a tormenting fear, a greedy covetousness, a withering sadness? Lo, what evil days! yet no one is willing to end these same evil days, and hence men earnestly pray God that they may live long. Yet what is it to live long, but to be long tormented? What is it to live long, but to add evil days to evil days? When boys are growing up, it is as if days are being added to them; whereas they do not know that they are being diminished; and their very reckoning is false. For as we grow in up, the number of our days rather diminishes than increases. Appoint for any man at his birth, for instance, eighty years; every day he lives, he diminishes somewhat of that sum. Yet silly men rejoice at the oft-recurring birthdays, both of themselves and their children. O sensible man! If the wine in thy bottle is diminished, thou art sad; days art thou losing, and art thou glad? These days then are evil; and so much the more evil, in that they are loved. This world is so alluring, that no one is willing to finish a life of sorrow. For the true, the blessed life is this, when we shall rise again, and reign with Christ. For the ungodly too shall rise again but to go into the fire. Life then is there again, but that which is blessed. And blessed life there can be none but that which is eternal, where are “good days;” and those not many days, but one day. They are called “days” after the custom of this life. That day knows no rising, it knows no setting. To that day there succeeds no to-morrow; because no yesterday precedes it. This day, or these days, and this life, this true life, have we in promise. It is then the reward of a certain work. So if we love the reward, let us not fail in the work; and so shall we reign with Christ for ever.

 
35 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 17', “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.”

1. The Gospel lesson which has now sounded in our ears, Brethren, requires rather an attentive hearer and a doer, than an expositor. What is more clear than this light, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments”? What then have I to say but, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments”? Who is there that does not wish for life? and yet who is there that does wish to keep the commandments? If thou dost not wish to keep the commandments, why seekest thou after life? If thou art slow to the work, why dost thou hasten to the reward? The rich young man in the Gospel said that he had kept the commandments; then he heard the greater precepts, “If thou wilt be perfect, one thing is lacking to thee, go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor;” thou shalt not lose them, but “thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me.” For what shall it profit thee, if thou shalt do all the rest, and yet not follow Me?” But as ye have heard, “he went away” sad and “sorrowful; for he had great riches.” What he heard, have we heard also. The Gospel is Christ’s voice. He sitteth in heaven; but He doth not cease to speak on earth. Let us not be deaf, for He is crying out. Let us not be dead; for He is thundering. If thou wilt not do the greater things, do at least the less. If the burden of the greater be too much for thee, at least take up the less. Why art thou slow to both? why settest thyself against both? The greater are, “Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and follow Me.” The less are, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” These do; why do I call to thee, to sell thy possessions, from whom I cannot gain, that thou wouldest keep from plundering what is another’s? Thou hast heard, “Thou shalt not steal;” yet thou dost plunder. Before the eyes of so great a Judge, I find thee not a thief only, but a plunderer. Spare thyself, have pity on thyself. This life yet allows thee respite, do not refuse correction. Yesterday thou wast a thief; be not so to-day too. Or if peradventure thou hast been so to-day already, be not so to-morrow. Put a stop sometime to thy evil doing, and so require good for a reward. Thou wouldest have good things, and wouldest not be good; thy life is a contradiction to thy desires. If to have a good country-seat, is a great good: how great an evil must it be to have an evil soul!

The rich man “went away sorrowful;” and the Lord said, “How hardly shall he that hath riches enter into the kingdom of heaven!” And by putting forth a comparison He showed the difficulty to be such that it was absolutely impossible. For every impossible thing is difficult; but not every difficult thing is impossible. As to how difficult it is, take heed to the comparison; “Verily I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” A camel to go through the eye of a needle! If He had said a gnat, it would be impossible. And then when His disciples heard it, they were grieved and said, “If this be so, who then can be saved?” What rich man? Give ear then to Christ, ye poor, I am speaking to the people of God. Ye are more of you poor than rich, do ye then at least receive what I say, yet give heed. Whosoever of you boast of your poverty, beware of pride, lest the humble rich surpass you; beware of impiety, lest the pious rich surpass you; beware of drunkenness, lest the sober rich surpass you. Do not glory of your poverty, if they must not glory of their riches.

And let the rich give ear, if indeed they are rich; let them give ear to the Apostle, “Charge the rich of this world,” for there are who are the rich of another world. The poor are the rich of another world. The Apostles are the rich of another world, who said, “As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” So that ye may know of what poor he is speaking he added, “of this world.” Let the “rich” then “of this world” give ear to the Apostle, “Charge,” he says, “the rich of this world, that they be not proud in their conceits.” The first worm of riches is pride. A consuming moth, which gnaws the whole, and reduces it even to dust. “Charge them,” therefore, “not to be proud in their conceits, nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches” (they are the Apostle’s words), “but in the living God.” A thief may take away thy gold; who can take away thy God? What hath the rich man, if he hath not God? What hath the poor man not, if he have God? Therefore he says, “Nor to trust in riches, but in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy;” with which all things He giveth also Himself.

If then they ought not to “trust in riches,” not to confide in them, “but in the living God;” what are they to do with their riches? Hear what: “Let them be rich in good works.” What does this mean? Explain, O Apostle. For many are loth to understand what they are loth to practise. Explain, O Apostle; give none occasion to evil works by the obscurity of thy words. Tell us what thou dost mean by, “let them be rich in good works.” Let them hear and understand; let them not be suffered to excuse themselves; but rather let them begin to accuse themselves, and to say what we have just heard in the Psalm, “For I acknowledge my sin.”  Tell us what this is, “let them be rich in good works. Let them easily distribute.” And what is “let them easily distribute”? What! is this too not understood? “Let them easily distribute, let them communicate.” Thou hast, another hath not: communicate, that God may communicate to thee. Communicate here, and thou shalt communicate there. Communicate thy bread here, and thou shalt receive Bread there. What bread here? That which thou dost gather with sweat and toil, according to the curse upon the first man. What Bread there? Even Him who said, “I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven.” Here thou art rich, but thou art poor there. Gold thou hast, but thou hast not yet the Presence of Christ. Lay out what thou hast, that thou mayest receive what thou hast not. “Let them be rich in good works, let them easily distribute, let them communicate.”

Must they then lose all they have? He said, “Let them communicate,” not “Let them give the whole.” Let them keep for themselves as much as is sufficient for them, let them keep more than is sufficient. Let us give a certain portion of it. What portion? A tenth? The Scribes and Pharisees gave tithes for whom Christ had not yet shed His Blood. The Scribes and Pharisees gave tithes; lest haply thou shouldest think thou art doing any great thing in breaking thy bread to the poor; and this is scarcely a thousandth part of thy means. And yet I am not finding fault with this; do even this. So hungry and thirsty am I, that I am glad even of these crumbs. But yet I cannot keep back what He who died for us said whilst He was alive. “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” He does not deal softly with us; for He is a physician, He cuts to the quick. “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Scribes and Pharisees gave the tenth. How is it with you? Ask yourselves. Consider what you do, and with what means you do it; how much you give, how much you leave for yourselves; what you spend on mercy, what you reserve for luxury. So then, “Let them distribute easily, let them communicate, let them lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may hold on eternal life.”

I have admonished the rich; now hear, ye poor. Ye rich, lay out your money; ye poor, refrain from plundering. Ye rich, distribute your means; ye poor, bridle your desires. Hear, ye poor, this same Apostle; “Godliness with sufficiency is a great getting.” Getting is the acquiring of gain. The world is yours in common with the rich; ye have not a house in common with the rich, but ye have the heaven in common, the light in common. Seek only for a sufficiency, seek for what is enough, and do not wish for more. All the rest is a weight, rather than a help; a burden, rather than an honour. “Godliness with sufficiency is great gain.” First is Godliness. Godliness is the worship of God. “Godliness with sufficiency. For we brought nothing into this world.” Didst thou bring anything hither? Nay, not even did ye rich bring anything. Ye found all here, ye were born naked as the poor. In both alike is the same bodily infirmity; the same infant crying, the witness of our misery. “For we brought nothing into this world” (he is speaking to the poor), “neither can we carry anything out. And having food and covering, let us be therewith content.” “For they who wish to be rich.” “Who wish to be,” not who are. For they who are so, well and good. They have heard their lesson, that they be “rich in good works, that they distribute easily, that they communicate.” They have heard already. Do ye now hear who are not yet rich. “They who wish to be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many hurtful and foolish lusts.” Do ye not fear? Hear what follows; “which drown men in destruction and perdition.”  Dost thou not now fear? “for avarice is the root of all evil”? Avarice is the wishing to be rich, not the being rich already. This is avarice. Dost thou not fear to be “drowned in destruction and perdition”? Dost thou not fear “avarice the root of all evil”? Thou pluckest up out of thy field the root of thorns, and wilt thou not pluck up out of thy heart the root of evil desires? Thou cleansest thy field from which thy body gets its fruit, and wilt thou not cleanse thy heart where thy God indwelleth? “For avarice is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and entangled themselves in many sorrows.”

Ye have now heard what ye must do, ye have heard what ye must fear, ye have heard how the kingdom of heaven may be purchased, ye have heard by what the kingdom of heaven may be hindered. Be ye all of one mind in obeying the word of God. God made both the rich and poor. Scripture says, “The rich and the poor meet together, the Lord is the Maker of them both.” The rich and the poor meet together. In what way, except in this present life? The rich and the poor are born alike. Ye meet one another as ye walk on the way together. Do not thou oppress, nor thou defraud. The one hath need, the other hath plenty. But “the Lord is the Maker of them both.” By him who hath, He helpeth him that needeth; by him who hath not, He proveth him that hath. We have heard, we have spoken; let us fear, let us take heed, let us pray, let us attain.

 
36 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xix. 21',“Go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,” etc.

1. The Gospel by the present lesson has reminded me to speak to you, Beloved, of the heavenly treasure. For our God hath not, as unbelieving covetous men suppose, wished us to lose what we have: if what hath been enjoined us be properly understood, and piously believed, and devoutly received; He hath not enjoined us to lose, but rather shown a place where we may lay up. For no man can help thinking of his treasure, and following his riches in a kind of journeying of the heart. If then they are buried in the earth, his heart will seek the lowest earth; but if they are reserved in heaven, his heart will be above. If Christians therefore have the will to do what they know that they also make open profession of (not that all who hear know this; and I would that they who have known it, knew it not in vain); if then they have the will to “lift up the heart” above, let them lay up there, what they love; and though yet in the flesh on earth, let them dwell with Christ in heart; and as her Head went before the Church, so let the heart of the Christian go before him. As the members are to go where Christ the Head hath gone before, so shall each man at his rising again go where his heart hath now gone before. Let us go hence then by that part of us which we may; our whole man will follow whither one part of us is gone before. Our earthly house must fall to ruin; our heavenly house is eternal. Let us move our goods beforehand, whither we are ourselves getting ready to come.

We have just heard a certain rich man seeking counsel from the “Good Master” as to the means of obtaining eternal life. Great was the thing he loved, and of little value was that he was unwilling to renounce. And so in perverseness of heart, on hearing Him whom he had but now called “Good Master,” through the overpowering love of what was valueless, he lost the possession of what was of great price. If he had not wished to obtain eternal life, he would not have asked counsel how to obtain eternal life. How is it then, Brethren, that he rejected the words of Him whom he had called “Good Master,” drawn out for him as they were from the doctrine of the faith? What? Is He a Good Master before He teacheth, and when He hath taught, a bad one? Before He taught, He was called “Good.” He did not hear what he wished, but he did hear what was proper for him; he had come with longing, but he went away in sadness. What if He had told him, “Lose what thou hast”? when he went away sad, because it was said, “Keep what thou hast securely.” “Go,” saith He, “sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor.” Art thou afraid, it may be, lest thou shouldest lose it. See what follows; “And thou shall have treasure in heaven.” Before now it may be thou hast set some young slave to guard thy treasures; thy God will be the guardian of thy gold. He who gave them on earth, will Himself keep them in heaven. Perhaps he would not have hesitated to commit what he had to Christ, and was only sad because it was told him, “Give to the poor;” as though he would say in his heart, “Hadst Thou said, Give it to Me, I will keep it in heaven for thee; I would not hesitate to give it to my Lord, the ‘Good Master;’ but now thou hast said, ‘Give to the poor.’”

Let no one fear to lay out upon the poor, let no one think that he is the receiver whose hand he sees. He receives it Who bade thee give it. And this I say not out of mine own heart, or by any human conjecture; hear Him Himself, who at once exhorteth thee, and giveth thee a title of security. “I was an hungred,” saith He, and ye gave Me meat.” And when after the enumeration of all their kind offices, they answered, “When saw we Thee an hungred?” He answered, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these of Mine, ye have done it unto Me.” It is the poor man who begs, but He that is Rich receives. Thou givest to one who will make away with it, He receiveth it Who will restore it. Nor will He restore only what He receiveth; He is pleased to borrow upon interest, He promiseth more than thou hast given. Give the rein now to thy avarice, imagine thyself an usurer. If thou wert an usurer indeed, thou wouldest be rebuked by the Church, confuted by the word of God, all thy brethren would execrate thee, as a cruel usurer, desiring to wring gain from other’s tears. But now be an usurer, no one will hinder thee. Thou art willing to lend to a poor man, who whenever he may repay thee will do it with grief; but lend now to a debtor who is well able to pay, and who even exhorteth thee to receive what he promiseth.

Give to God, and press God for payment. Yea rather give to God, and thou wilt be pressed to receive payment. On earth indeed thou hadst to seek thy debtor; and he sought too, but only to find where he might hide himself from thy face. Thou hadst gone to the judge, and said, “Bid that my debtor be summoned;” and he on hearing this gets away, and cares not even to wish thee well, though to him perhaps in his need thou hadst given wealth by thy loan. Thou hast one then on whom thou mayest well lay out thy money. Give to Christ; He will of His own accord press thee to receive, whilst thou wilt even wonder that He hath received ought of thee. For to them who are placed on His right hand He will first say, “Come, ye blessed of My Father.” “Come” whither? “Receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” For what? “For I was an hundred, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick and in prison, and ye visited Me.” And they will say, “Lord, when saw we Thee?” What doth this mean? The debtor presses to pay,and the creditors make excuses. But the trusty debtor will not let them suffer loss thereby. “Do ye hesitate to receive? I have received, and are ye ignorant of it?” and He makes answer how He has received; “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these of Mine, ye have done it unto Me.” “I received it not by Myself; but by Mine. What was given to them came to Me; be secure, ye have not lost it. Ye looked to those who were little able to pay on earth; ye have One who is well able to pay in heaven. I,” He saith, “have received, I will repay.”

And what have I received, and what do I repay? “‘I was an hungred,’ He saith, ‘and ye gave Me meat;’ and the rest. I received earth, I will give heaven; I received temporal things, I will restore eternal; I received bread, I will give life.” Yea, we may even say thus, “I have received bread, I will give Bread; I have received drink, I will give Drink; I have received houseroom, I will give a House; I was visited in sickness, I will give Health; I was visited in prison, I will give Liberty. The bread which ye gave to My poor is consumed; the Bread which I will give both recruiteth the failing and doth not fail.” May He then give us Bread, He who is the living Bread which came down from heaven. When He shall give Bread, He will give Himself. For what didst thou intend when thou didst lend on usury? To give money, and to receive money; but to give a smaller sum, and to receive a larger. “I,” saith God, “will give thee an exchange for the better for all that thou hast given Me. For if thou wert to give a pound of silver, and to receive a pound of gold, with how great joy wouldest thou be possessed? Examine and question avarice. “I have given a pound of silver, I receive a pound of gold!” What proportion is there between silver and gold! Much more then, what proportion is there between earth and heaven! And thy silver and gold thou wert to leave here below; whereas thou wilt not abide thyself for ever here. “And I will give thee something else, and I will give thee something more, and I will give thee something better; I will give thee even that which will last for ever.” So then, Brethren, be our avarice restrained, that another, which is holy, may be enkindled. Evil altogether is her counsel, who hinders you from doing good. Ye are willing to serve an evil mistress, not owning a Good Lord. And sometimes two mistresses occupy the heart, and tear the slave asunder who deserves to be in slavery to such a double yoke.

Yes, sometimes two opposing mistresses have possession of a man, avarice and luxuriousness. Avarice says, “Keep;” luxuriousness, says, “Spend.” Under two mistresses bidding and exacting diverse things what canst thou do? They have both their mode of address. And when thou dost begin to be unwilling to obey them, and to take a step towards thy liberty; because they have no power to command, they use caresses. And their caresses are more to be guarded against than their commands. What says avarice? “Keep for thyself, keep for thy children. If thou shouldest be in want, no one will give to thee. Live not for the time present only; consult for the future.” On the other hand is luxuriousness. Live whilst thou mayest. Do good to thine own soul. Die thou must, and thou knowest not when; thou knowest not to whom thou shalt leave what thou hast, or who shall possess it. Thou art taking the bread out of thine own mouth, and perhaps after thy death thine heir will not so much as place a cup of wine upon thy tomb; or if so be he place a cup, he will drink himself drunk with it, not a drop will come down to thee. Do well therefore to thine own soul, when and whilst thou canst.” Thus avarice did enjoin one thing; “Keep for thyself, consult for the future.” Luxuriousness another, “Do well to thine own soul.”

But O free man, called unto liberty, be weary, be weary of thy servitude to such mistresses as these. Acknowledge thy Redeemer, thy Deliverer. Serve Him, He enjoineth easier things, He enjoineth not things contrary one to another. I am bold further to say; avarice and luxuriousness did enjoin upon thee contrary things, so that thou couldest not obey them both; and one said, “Keep for thyself, and consult for the future;” the other said, “Spend freely, do well to thine own soul.” Now let thy Lord and thy Redeemer come forth, and He shall say the same, and yet no contrary things. If thou wilt not, His house hath no need of an unwilling servant. Consider thy Redeemer, consider thy Ransom. He came to redeem thee, He shed His Blood. Dear He held thee whom He purchased at so dear a price. Thou dost acknowledge Him who bought thee, consider from what He redeemeth thee. I say nothing of the other sins which lord it proudly over thee; for thou wast serving innumerable masters. I speak only of these two, luxuriousness and avarice, giving thee contrary injunctions, hurrying thee into different things. Deliver thyself from them, come to thy God. If thou wast the servant of iniquity, be now the servant of righteousness. The words which they spake to thee, and the contrary injunctions they gave thee, the very same thou hearest now from thy Lord, yet are His injunctions not contrary. He doth not take away their words, but he taketh away their power. What did avarice say to thee? “Keep for thyself, consult for the future.” The word is not changed, but the man is changed. Now, if thou wilt, compare the counsellors. The one is avarice, the other righteousness.

Examine these contrary injunctions. “Keep for thyself,” says avarice. Suppose thou art willing to obey her, ask her where thou art to keep? Some well-defended place she will show thee, walled chamber, or iron chest. Well, use all precautions; yet peradventure some thief in the house will burst open the secret places; and whilst thou art taking precautions for thy money, thou wilt be in fear of thy life. It may be whilst thou art keeping up thy store, he whose mind is set to plunder them, has it even in his thoughts to kill thee. Lastly, even though by various precautions thou shouldest defend thy treasure and thy clothes against thieves; defend them still against the rust and moth. What canst thou do then? Here is no enemy without to take away thy goods, but one within consuming them.

No good counsel then has avarice given. See she has enjoined thee to keep, yet has not found a place where thou mayest keep. Let her give also her next advice, “Consult for the future.” For what future? for a few and those uncertain days. She says, “Consult for the future,” to a man who, it may be, will not live even till to-morrow. But suppose him to live as long as avarice thinks he will, not as long as she can prove, or assure him, or have any confidence about, but suppose him to live as long as she thinks, that he grow old and so come to his end: when he is even now bent double with old age, and leaning on his stick for support, still is he seeking gain, and hears avarice saying still, “Consult for the future.” For what future? When he is even at his last breath she speaks. She says, “for thy children’s sake.” Would that at least we did not find the old men who had no children avaricious. Yet to these even, to such as these even, who cannot even excuse their iniquity by any empty show of natural affection, she ceases not to say, “Consult for the future.” But it may be that these will soon blush for themselves; so let us look to those who have children, whether they are certain that their children will possess what they shall leave? Let them observe in their lifetime the children of other men, some losing what they had by the unjust violence of others, others by their own wickedness consuming what they possessed; and they remain in poor estate, who were the children of rich men. Cease then to be the home-born slaves of avarice. But a man will say, “My children will possess this.” It is uncertain; I do not say, it is false, but at best, it is uncertain. But now suppose it to be certain, what dost thou wish to leave them? What thou hast gotten for thyself. Assuredly what thou hast gotten was not left thee, yet thou hast it. If thou hast been able to get possession of what was not left to thee, then will they also be able to get what thou shalt not leave to them.

Thus have the counsels of avarice been refuted; but now let the Lord say the same words, now let righteousness speak: the words will be the same, but not the same the meaning. “Keep for thyself,” saith the Lord, “consult for the future.” Now ask Him, “Where shall I keep?” “Thou shalt have treasure in heaven, where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth.” Against what an enduring future shalt thou keep it! “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And of how many days this kingdom is, the end of the passage shows. For after He had said of those on the left hand, “So these shall go away into everlasting burning;” of those on the right hand He saith, “but the righteous into life eternal.”This is “consulting for the future.” A future which has no future beyond it. Those days without an end are called both “days,” and “a day.” For one when he was speaking of those days, saith, “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord for length of days.” And they are called a day, “This day have I begotten thee.” Now those days are one day; because there is no time, in it; that day is neither preceded by a yesterday, nor succeeded by a to-morrow. So then let us “consult for the future:” the words indeed which avarice said to thee are not different in terms from this, yet by them is avarice overthrown.

1One thing may yet be said, “But what am I to do about my children?” Hear on this point also the counsel of thy Lord. If thy Lord should say to thee, “The thoughts of them concern Me more who did create, than thee who didst beget them,” peradventure thou couldest have nothing to say. Yet thou wilt look upon that rich man who went away sorrowful, and was rebuked in the Gospel, and wilt say to thyself perhaps, “That rich man did evil in not selling all and giving to the poor, because he had no children; but I have children; I have those for whom I should be keeping something. In this weakness too the Lord is ready to advise with thee. I would be bold to speak through His mercy; I would be bold to say something, not of mine own imagining, but of His pity. Keep then for thy children too, but hear me. Suppose (such is man’s condition) any one should lose one of his children; mark, Brethren, mark how that avarice has no excuse, either as respects this world or the world to come. Such, I say, is man’s condition; for it is not that I wish it, but we see instances. Some Christian child has been lost: thou hast lost a Christian child; not that thou hast indeed lost him, but hast sent him before thee. For he is not gone quite away, but gone before. Ask thine own faith: surely thou too wilt go thither presently, where he hath gone before. It is but a short question I ask, which yet I suppose no one will answer. Does thy son live? Ask thy faith. If he live then, why is his portion seized upon by his brothers? But thou wilt say, What, will he return and possess it? Let it then be sent to him whither he is gone before; he cannot come to his goods, his goods can go to him. Consider only with Whom he is. If any son were serving at the Court, and became the Emperor’s friend, and were to say to thee, “Sell my portion, which is there, and send it to me;” wouldest thou find what to answer him? Well, thy son is now with the Emperor of all emperors, with the King of all kings, with the Lord of all lords; send to Him. I do not say thy son is in need himself; but his Lord with whom he is, is in need upon the earth. He vouchsafes to receive here, what He gives in heaven. Do what some avaricious men are wont to do, make out a conveyance, bestow upon those who are in pilgrimage, what thou mayest receive in thine own country.

1But now I am not speaking at all of thyself, but of thy child. Thou art hesitating to give what is thine own, yea, rather art hesitating to restore what is another’s; surely thou art hereby convicted, that it was not for thy children that thou wast laying up. See, thou dost not give to thy children, seeing thou wilt even take away from thy children. From this child at all events wilt thou take away. Why is he unworthy to receive his part, because he is living with One worthier than all? There would be reason in it, if he with whom thy son is living, were unwilling to receive it. Rich shalt thou now be for thine house, but that the house of God. So far it is then from me to say to thee, “Give what thou hast;” that I am saying to thee, “Pay that thou owest.” But thou wilt say, “His brothers will have it.” O evil maxim, which may teach thy children to wish for their brother’s death. If they shall be enriched by the property of their deceased brother, take heed how they may watch for one another in thine house. What then wilt thou do? Wilt thou divide his patrimony, and so give lessons of parricide?

1But I am unwilling to speak of the loss of a child, lest I seem to threaten calamities, which do befall men. Let us speak in some more happy and auspicious tone. I do not say then, thou wilt have one less; reckon rather that thou hast one more. Give Christ a place with thy children, be thy Lord added to thy family; be thy Creator added to thy offspring, be thy Brother added to the number of thy children. For though there is so great a distance, yet hath He condescended to be a Brother. And though He be the Father’s Only Son, He hath vouchsafed to have coheirs. Lo, how bountifully hath He given! why wilt thou give in such barren sort? Thou hast two children; reckon Him a third: thou hast three, let Him be reckoned as a fourth: thou hast five, let Him be called a sixth; thou hast ten, let Him be the eleventh. I will say no more; keep the place of one child for thy Lord. For what thou shalt give to thy Lord, will profit both thee and thy children; whereas, what thou dost keep for thy children wrongly, will hurt both thee and them. Now thou wilt give one portion, which thou hast reckoned as one child’s portion. Reckon that thou hast got one child more.

1What great demand is this, my Brethren? I give you counsel only; do I use violence? As saith the Apostle, “This I speak for your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you.” I imagine, Brethren, that it is a light and easy thought for a father of children to suppose that he has one child more, and thereby to procure such an inheritance as thou mayest possess for ever, both thou and thy children. Avarice can say nothing against it. Ye have cried out in acclamation at these words. Turn your words rather against her; let her not overcome you; let her not have greater power in your hearts, than your Redeemer. Let her not have greater power in your hearts, than He who exhorteth us to “lift up our hearts.” And so now let us dismiss her.

1What says luxuriousness? What? “Do well to thine own soul.” See also the Lord says the same, “Do well to thine own soul.” What luxuriousness was saying to thee, the same saith Righteousness to thee. But consider here again in what sense the words are used. If thou wouldest do well to thine own soul, consider that rich man who wished to do well to his soul, after the counsel of luxuriousness and avarice. His “ground brought forth plentifully, and he had no room where to bestow his fruits; and he said, What shall I do?” I have no room where to bestow my fruits; I have found out what to do; “I will pull down my” old “barns, and build new,” and will fill them, “and say to my soul, Thou hast much goods; take thy pleasure.” Hear the counsel against luxuriousness; “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” And whither must that soul which shall be required of him go? This night it shall be required, and shall go he knows not whither.

1Consider that other luxurious, proud, rich man. He “feasted sumptuously every day, and was clothed in purple and fine linen;” and “the poor man laid at his gate full of sores, and desired” in vain “the crumbs from the rich man’s table;” he fed the dogs with his sores, but he was not fed by the rich man. They both died; one of them was buried; of the other what is said? “He was carried by the Angels into Abraham’s bosom.” The rich man sees the poor man; yea rather it is now the poor man sees the rich; he longs for a drop of water on his tongue from his finger, from him who once longed for a crumb from his table. Indeed their lot was changed. The dead rich man asks for this in vain: O let not us who are alive hear it in vain. For he wished to return again to the world, and was not permitted; he wished one of the dead to be sent to his brethren, neither was this granted him. But what was said to him? “They have Moses and the Prophets;” and he said, “They will not hear except one go from the dead.” Abraham said to him, “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe though one go from the dead.”

1What luxuriousness then said in a perverted sense concerning the giving of alms, and procuring rest for our souls against the time to come, that so we may “do well to our souls,” Moses also and the Prophets have spoken. Let us give ear while we are alive. Because there he will desire in vain to hear, who has despised these words when he heard them here. Are we expecting that one should rise even from the dead, and tell us to do well to our own souls? It has been done already: thy father hath not risen again, but thy Lord hath risen. Hear Him, and accept good counsel. Spare not thy treasures, spend as freely as thou canst. This was the voice of luxuriousness: it has become the Lord’s Voice. Spend as freely as thou canst, do well to thy soul, lest this night thy soul be required. Here then ye have in Christ’s Name a discourse as I think on the duty of almsgiving. This your voice now applauding, is then only well-pleasing to the Lord, if He see withal your hands active in works of mercy.

 
37 Delivered on the Lord’s Day, on that which is written in the Gospel, Matt. xx. 1', “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that was a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.”

1. Ye have heard out of the Holy Gospel a parable well suited to the present season, concerning the labourers in the vineyard. For now is the time of the material vintage. Now there is also a spiritual vintage, wherein God rejoiceth in the fruit of His vineyard. For we cultivate God, and God cultivateth us. But we do not so cultivate God as to make Him any better thereby. For our cultivation is the labour of the heart, not of the hands. He cultivateth us as the husbandman doth his field. In then that He cultivateth us, He maketh us better; because so doth the husbandman make his field better by cultivating it, and the very fruit He seeketh in us is, that we may cultivate Him. The culture He exerciseth on us is, that He ceaseth not to root out by His Word the evil seeds from our hearts, to open our heart, as it were, by the plough of His Word, to plant the seed of His precepts, to wait for the fruit of piety. For when we have so received that culture into our heart, as to cultivate Him well, we are not ungrateful to our Husbandman, but render the fruit wherein He rejoiceth. And our fruit doth not make Him the richer, but us the happier.

See then; hear how, as I have said, “God cultivateth us.” For that we cultivate God, there is no need to be proved to you. For all men have this on their tongue, that men cultivate God, but the hearer feels a kind of awe, when he hears that God cultivates man; because it is not after the ordinary usage of men to say, that God cultivateth men, but that men cultivate God. We ought therefore to prove to you, that God also doth cultivate men; lest perchance we be thought to have spoken a word contrary to sound doctrine, and men dispute in their heart against us, and as not knowing our meaning, find fault with us. I have determined therefore to show you, that God doth also cultivate us; but as I have said already, as a field, that He may make us better. Thus the Lord saith in the Gospel, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches, My Father is the Husbandman.” What doth the Husbandman do? I ask you who are husbandmen. I suppose he cultivates his field. If then God the Father be a Husbandman, He hath a field; and His field He cultivateth, and from it He expecteth fruit.

Again, He “planted a vineyard,” as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself saith, “and let it out to husbandmen, who should render Him the fruit in the proper season. And He sent His servants to them to ask for the hire of the vineyard. But they treated them despitefully, and killed some,” and contemptuously refused to render the fruits. “He sent others also,” they suffered the like treatment. And then the Householder, the Cultivator of His field, and the Planter, and Letter out of His vineyard, said; “I will send Mine Only Son, it may be they will at least reverence Him.” And so He saith, “He sent His Own Son also. They said among themselves, This is the heir, come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they killed Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard. When the Lord of the vineyard cometh, what will He do to those wicked husbandmen? They answered, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out His vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render Him the fruits in their seasons.” The vineyard was planted when the law was given in the hearts of the Jews. The Prophets were sent, seeking fruit, even their good life: the Prophets were treated despitefully by them, and were killed. Christ also was sent, the Only Son of the Householder; and they killed Him who was the Heir, and so lost the inheritance. Their evil counsel turned out contrary to their designs. They killed Him that they might possess the inheritance; and because they killed Him, they lost it.

Ye have just heard too the parable out of the Holy Gospel; that “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a householder, which went out to hire labourers into His vineyard. He went out in the morning,” and hired those whom he found, and agreed with them for a denarius as their hire. He “went out again at the third hour, and found others,” and brought them to the labour of the vineyard. “And the sixth and ninth hour he did likewise. He went out also at the eleventh hour,” near the end of the day, “and found some idle and standing still, and he said to them, Why stand ye here?” Why do ye not work in the vineyard? They answered, “Because no man hath hired us.” “Go ye also,” said He, “and whatsoever is right I will give you.” His pleasure was to fix their hire at a denarius. How could they who had only to work one hour dare hope for a denarius? Yet they congratulated themselves in the hope that they should receive something. So then these were brought in even for one hour. At the end of the day he ordered the hire to be paid to all, from the last to the first. Then he began to pay at those who had come in at the eleventh hour, and he commanded a denarius to be given them. When they who had come at the first hour saw that the others had received a denarius, which he had agreed for with themselves “they hoped that they should have received more:” and when their turn came, they also received a denarius. “They murmured against the good man of the house, saying, Behold, thou hast made us who have borne the burning and heat of the day, equal and like to those who have laboured but one hour in the vineyard.” And “the good man,” returning a most just answer to one of them, said, “Friend, I do thee no wrong;” that is, “I have not defrauded thee, I have paid thee what I agreed for with thee. “I have done thee no wrong,” for I have paid thee what I agreed for. To this other it is my will not to render a payment, but to bestow a gift. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” If I had taken from any one what did not belong to me, rightly I might be blamed, as fraudulent and unjust: if I had not paid any one his due, rightly might I be blamed as fraudulent, and as withholding what belonged to another; but when I pay what is due, and give besides to whom I will, neither can he to whom I owed find fault, and he to whom I gave ought to rejoice the more.” They had nothing to answer; and all were made equal; “and the last became first, and the first last;” by equality of treatment, not by inverting their order. For what is the meaning of, “the last were first, and the first last”? That both the first and last received the same.

How is it that he began to pay at the last? Are not all, as we read, to receive together? For we read in another place of the Gospel, that He will say to those whom He shall set on the right hand, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” If all then are to receive together, how do we understand in this place, that they received first who began to work at the eleventh hour, and they last who were hired at the first hour? If I shall be able so to speak, as to reach your understanding, God be thanked. For to Him ought ye to render thanks, who distributeth to you by me; for nought of my own do I distribute. If ye ask me, for example, which of the two has received first, he who has received after one hour, or he who after twelve hours; every man would answer that he who has received after one hour, has received before him who received after twelve hours. So then though they all received at the same hour, yet because some received after one hour, others after twelve hours, they who received after so short a time are said to have received first. The first righteous men, as Abel, and Noe, called as it were at the first hour, will receive together with us the blessedness of the resurrection. Other righteous men after them, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of their age, called as it were at the third hour, will receive together with us the blessedness of the resurrection. Other righteous men, as Moses, and Aaron, and whosoever with them were called as it were at the sixth hour, will receive together with us the blessedness of the resurrection. After them the Holy Prophets, called as it were at the ninth hour, will receive together with us the same blessedness. In the end of the world all Christians, called as it were at the eleventh hour, will receive with the rest the blessedness of that resurrection. All will receive together; but consider those first men, after how long a time do they receive it? If then those first receive after a long time, we after a short time; though we all receive together, yet we seem to have received first, because our hire will not tarry long in coming.

In that hire then shall we be all equal, and the first as the last, and the last as the first; because that denarius is life eternal, and in the life eternal all will be equal. For although through diversity of attainments the saints will shine, some more, some less; yet as to this respect, the gift of eternal life, it will be equal to all. For that will not be longer to one, and shorter to another, which is alike everlasting; that which hath no end will have no end either for thee or me. After one sort in that life will be wedded chastity, after another virgin purity; in one sort there will be the fruit of good works, in another sort the crown of martyrdom. One in one sort, and another in another; yet in respect to the living for ever, this man will not live more than that, nor that than this. For alike without end will they live, though each shall live in his own brightness: and the denarius in the parable is that life eternal. Let not him then who has received after a long time murmur against him who has received after a short time. To the first, it is a payment; to the other, a free gift; yet the same thing is given alike to both.

There is also something like this in this present life, and besides that solution of the parable, by which they who were called at the first hour are understood of Abel and the righteous men of his age, and they at the third, of Abraham and the righteous men of his age, and they at the sixth, of Moses and Aaron and the righteous men of their age, and they at the eleventh, as in the end of the world, of all Christians; besides this solution of the parable, the parable may be seen to have an explanation in respect even of this present life. For they are as it were called at the first hour, who begin to be Christians fresh from their mother’s womb; boys are called as it were at the third, young men at the sixth, they who are verging toward old age, at the ninth hour, and they who are called as if at the eleventh hour, are they who are altogether decrepit; yet all these are to receive the one and the same denarius of eternal life.

But, Brethren, hearken ye and understand, lest any put off to come into the vineyard, because he is sure, that, come when he will, he shall receive this denarius. And sure indeed he is that the denarius is promised him; but this is no injunction to put off. For did they who were hired into the vineyard, when the householder came out to them to hire whom he might find, at the third hour for instance, and did hire them, did they say to him, “Wait, we are not going thither till the sixth hour”? or they whom he found at the sixth hour, did they say, “We are not going till the ninth hour”? or they whom he found at the ninth hour, did they say, “We are not going till the eleventh? For he will give to all alike; why should we fatigue ourselves more than we need?” What He was to give, and what He was to do, was in the secret of His own counsel: do thou come when thou art called. For an equal reward is promised to all; but as to this appointed hour of working, there is an important question. For if, for instance, they who are called at the sixth hour, at that age of life that is, in which as in the full heat of noon, is felt the glow of manhood’s years; if they, called thus in manhood, were to say, “Wait, for we have heard in the Gospel that all are to receive the same reward, we will come at the eleventh hour, when we shall have grown old, and shall still receive the same. Why should we add to our labour?” it would be answered them thus, “Art not thou willing to labour now, who dost not know whether thou shalt live to old age? Thou art called at the sixth hour; come. The Householder hath it is true promised thee a denarius, if thou come at the eleventh hour, but whether thou shalt live even to the seventh, no one hath promised thee. I say not to the eleventh, but even to the seventh hour. Why then dost thou put off him that calleth thee, certain as thou art of the reward, but uncertain of the day? Take heed then lest peradventure what he is to give thee by promise, thou take from thyself by delay.” Now if this may rightly be said of infants as belonging to the first hour, if it may be rightly said of boys as belonging to the third, if it may be rightly said of men in the vigour of life, as in the full-day heat of the sixth hour; how much more rightly may it be said of the decrepit? Lo, already is it the eleventh hour, and dost thou yet stand still, and art thou yet slow to come?

But perhaps the Householder hath not gone out to call thee? If he hath not gone out, what mean our addresses to you? For we are servants of his household, we are sent to hire labourers. Why standest thou still then? Thou hast now ended the number of thy years; hasten after the denarius. For this is the “going out” of the Householder, the making himself known; forasmuch as he that is in the house is hidden, he is not seen by those who are without; but when he “goeth out” of the house, he is seen by those without. So Christ is in secret, as long as He is not known and acknowledged; but when He is acknowledged, He hath gone out to hire labourers. For now He hath come forth from a hidden place, to be known of men: everywhere Christ is known, Christ is preached; all places whatsoever under the heaven proclaim aloud the glory of Christ. He was in a manner the object of derision and contempt among the Jews, He appeared in low estate and was despised. For He hid His Majesty, and manifested His infirmity. That in Him which was manifested was despised, and that which was hidden was not known. “For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” But is He still to be despised now that He sitteth in heaven, if He were despised when He was hanging on the tree? They who crucified Him wagged their head, and standing before His Cross, as though they had attained the fruit of their cruel rage, they said in mockery, “If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross. He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” He came not down, because He lay hid. For with far greater ease could He have come down from the Cross, who had power to rise again from the grave. He showed forth an example of patience for our instruction. He delayed His power, and was not acknowledged. For He had not then gone out to hire labourers, He had gone out, He had not made Himself known. On the third day He rose again, He showed Himself to His disciples, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Ghost on the fiftieth day after the resurrection, the tenth after the ascension. The Holy Ghost who was sent filled all who were in one room, one hundred and twenty men. They “were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with the tongues of all nations;” now was the calling manifest, now He went out to hire. For now the power of truth began to be made known to all. For then even one man having received the Holy Ghost, spake by himself with the tongues of all nations. But now in the Church oneness itself, as one man speaks in the tongues of all nations. For what tongue has not the Christian religion reached? to what limits does it not extend? Now is there no one “who hideth himself from the heat thereof;”  and delay is still ventured by him who stands still at the eleventh hour.

It is plain then, my Brethren, it is plain to all, do ye hold it fast, and be sure of it, that whensoever any one turns himself to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, from a useless or abandoned way of life, all that is past is forgiven him, and as though all his debts were cancelled, a new account is entered into with him. All is entirely forgiven. Let no one be anxious in the thought that there remains anything which is not forgiven him. But on the other hand, let no one rest in a perverse security. For these two things are the death of souls, despair, and perverse hope. For as a good and right hope saveth, so doth a perverse hope deceive. First, consider how despair deceiveth. There are men, who when they begin to reflect on the evils they have done, think they cannot be forgiven; and whilst they think they cannot be forgiven, forthwith they give up their souls to ruin, and perish through despair, saying in their thoughts, “Now there is no hope for us; for such great sins as we have committed cannot be remitted or pardoned us; why then should we not satisfy our lusts? Let us at least fill up the pleasure of the time present, seeing we have no reward in that which is to come. Let us do what we list, though it be not lawful; that we may at least have a temporal enjoyment, because we cannot attain to the receiving an eternal.” In saying such things they perish through despair, either before they believe at all, or when Christians already, they have fallen by evil living into any sins and wickednesses. The Lord of the vineyard goeth forth to them, and by the Prophet Ezekial knocketh, and calleth to them in their despair, and as they turn their backs to Him that calleth them. “In whatsoever day a man shall turn from his most wicked way, I will forget all his iniquities.” If they hear and believe this voice, they are recovered from despair, and rise up again from that very deep and bottomless gulf, wherein they had been sunk.

1But these must fear, lest they fall into another gulf, and they die through a perverse hope, who could not die through despair. For they change their thoughts, which are far different indeed from what they were before, but not less pernicious, and begin again to say in their hearts, “If in whatever day I turn from my most evil way, the merciful God, as He truly promiseth by the Prophet, will forget all my iniquities, why should I turn to-day and not to-morrow? Let this day pass as yesterday, in excess of guilty pleasure, in the full flow of licentiousness, let it wallow in deadly delights; to-morrow I shall ‘turn myself,’ and there will be an end to it.” One may answer thee, An end of what? Of mine iniquities, thou wilt say. Well, rejoice indeed, that to-morrow there will be an end of thine iniquities. But what if before to-morrow thine own end shall be? So then thou dost well indeed to rejoice that God hath promised thee forgiveness for thine iniquities, if thou art converted; but no one has promised thee to-morrow. Or if perchance some astrologer hath promised it, it is a far different thing from God’s promise. Many have these astrologers deceived, in that they have promised themselves advantages, and have found only losses. Therefore for the sake of these again whose hope is wrong, doth the Householder go forth. As He went forth to those who had despaired wrongly, and were lost in their despair, and called them back to hope; so doth He go forth to these also who would perish through an evil hope; and by another book He saith to them, “Make no tarrying to turn to the Lord.” As He had said to the others, “In whatsoever day a man shall turn from his most wicked way, I will forget all his iniquities,” and took despair away from them, because they had now given up their soul to perdition, despairing of forgiveness by any means; so doth He go forth to these also who have a mind to perish through hope and delay; and speaketh to them, and chideth them, “Make no tarrying to turn to the Lord, and put not off from day to day; for suddenly shall the wrath of the Lord come forth, and in the day of vengeance He will destroy thee.” Therefore put not off, shut not against thyself what now is open. Lo, the Giver of forgiveness openeth the door to thee; why dost thou delay? Thou oughtest to rejoice, were He to open after ever so long a time to thy knocking; thou hast not knocked, yet doth He open, and dost thou remain outside? Put not off then. Scripture saith in a certain place, as touching works of mercy, “Say not, Go, and come again, and to-morrow I will give; when thou canst do the kindness at once; for thou knowest not what may happen on the morrow.” Here then is a precept of not putting off being merciful to another, and wilt thou by putting off be cruel against thine own self? Thou oughtest not to put off to give bread, and wilt thou put off to receive forgiveness? If thou dost not put off in showing pity towards another, “pity thine own soul also in pleasing God.” Give alms to thine own soul also. Nay I do not say, give to it, but thrust not back His Hand that would give to thee.

1But men continually injure themselves exceedingly in their fear to offend others. For good friends have much influence for good, and evil friends for evil. Therefore it was not the Lord’s will to choose first senators, but fishermen, to teach us for our own salvation to disregard the friendship of the powerful. O signal mercy of the Creator! For He knew that had He chosen the senator, he would say, “My rank has been chosen.” If He had first made choice of the rich man, he would say, “My wealth has been chosen.” If He had first made choice of an emperor, he would say, “My power has been chosen.” If the orator he would say, “My eloquence has been chosen.” If of the philosopher, he would say, “My wisdom has been chosen.” Meanwhile He says, let these proud ones be put off awhile, they swell too much. Now there is much difference between substantial size and swelling; both indeed are large, but both are not alike sound. Let them then, He says, be put off, these proud ones, they must be cured by something solid. First give Me, He says, this fisherman. “Come, thou poor one, follow Me; thou hast nothing, thou knowest nothing, follow Me. Thou poor and ignorant one, follow Me. There is nothing in thee to inspire awe, but there is much in thee to be filled.” To so copious a fountain an empty vessel should be brought. So the fisherman left his nets, the fisherman received grace, and became a divine orator. See what the Lord did, of whom the Apostle says, “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, as if they were, that those things which are may be brought to nought.” And so now the fishermen’s words are read, and the necks of orators are brought down. Let all empty winds then be taken away, let the smoke be taken away which vanishes as it mounts; let them be utterly despised when the question is of this salvation.

1If any one in a city had some bodily sickness, and there was in that place some very skilful physician who was an enemy to the sick man’s powerful friends; if any one, I say, in a city were labouring under some dangerous bodily sickness; and there was in the same city a very skilful physician, an enemy as I said, of the sick man’s powerful friends, and they were to say to their friend, “Do not call him in, he knows nothing;” and they were to say this not from any judgment of their mind, but through dislike of him; would he not for his own safety’s sake remove from him the groundless assertions of his powerful friends, and with whatever offence to them, in order that he might live but a few days longer, call that physician in, whom common report had given out as most skilful to drive away the disease of his body? Well, the whole race of mankind is sick, not with diseases of the body, but with sin. There lies one great patient from East to West throughout the world. To cure this great patient came the Almighty Physician down. He humbled Himself even to mortal flesh, as it were to the sick man’s bed. Precepts of health He gives, and is despised; they who do observe them are delivered. He is despised, when powerful friends say, “He knows nothing.” If He knew nothing, His power would not fill the nations. If He knew nothing, He would not have been, before He was with us. If He knew nothing, He would not have sent the Prophets before Him. Are not those things which were foretold of old, fulfilled now? Does not this Physician prove the power of His art by the accomplishment of His promises? Are not deadly errors overturned throughout the whole world; and by the threshing of the world lusts subdued? Let no one say, “The world was better aforetime than now; ever since that Physician began to exercise His art, many dreadful things we witness here.” Marvel not at this? Before that any were in course of healing, the Physician’s residence seemed clean of blood; but now rather as seeing what thou dost, shake off all vain delights, and come to the Physician, it is the time of healing, not of pleasure.

1Let us then think, Brethren, of being cured. If we do not yet know the Physician, yet let us not like frenzied men be violent against Him, or as men in a lethargy turn away from Him. For many through this violence have perished, and many have perished through sleep. The frenzied are they who are made mad for want of sleep. The lethargic are they who are weighed down by excessive sleep. Men are to be found of both these kinds. Against this Physician it is the will of some to be violent, and forasmuch as He is Himself sitting in heaven, they persecute His faithful ones on earth. Yet even such as these He cureth. Many of them having been converted from enemies have become friends, from persecutors have become preachers. Such as these were the Jews, whom, though violent as men in frenzy against Him while He was here, He healed, and prayed for them as He hung upon the Cross. For He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Yet many of them when their fury was calmed, their frenzy as it were got under, came to know God, and Christ. When the Holy Ghost was sent after the Ascension, they were converted to Him whom they crucified, and as believers drunk in the Sacrament His Blood, which in their violence they shed.

1Of this we have examples. Saul persecuted the members of Jesus Christ, who is now sitting in heaven; grievously did he persecute them in his frenzy, in the loss of his reason, in the transport of his madness. But He with one word, calling to him out of heaven, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” struck down the frantic one, raised him up whole, killed the persecutor, quickened the preacher. And so again many lethargic ones are healed. For to such are they like, who are not violent against Christ, nor malicious against Christians, but who in their delay are only dull and heavy with drowsy words, are slow to open their eyes to the light, and are annoyed with those who would arouse them. “Get away from me,” says the heavy, lethargic man, “I pray thee, get away from me.” Why? “I wish to sleep.” But you will die in consequence. He through love of sleep will answer, “I wish to die.” And Love from above calls out “I do not wish it.” Often does the son exhibit this loving affection to an aged father, though he must needs die in a few days; and is now in extreme old age. If he sees that he is lethargic, and knows from the physician that he is oppressed with a lethargic complaint, who tells him “Arouse your father, do not let him sleep, if you would save his life”! Then will the son come to the old man, and beat, and squeeze, or pinch, or prick him, or give him any uneasiness, and all through his dutiful affection to him; and will not allow him to die at once, die though he soon must from very age; and if his life is thus saved, the son rejoices that he has now to live some few days more with him who must soon depart to make way for him. With how much greater affection then ought we to be importunate with our friends, with whom we may live not a few days in this world, but in God’s presence for ever! Let them then love us, and do what they hear us say, and worship Him, whom we also worship, that they may receive what we also hope for. “Let us turn to the Lord,” etc.

 
38 words of the Gospel, Matt. xx. 30', about the two blind men sitting by the way side, and crying out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Thou Son of David.”

1. Ye know, Holy Brethren, full well as we do, that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Physician of our eternal health; and that to this end He took the weakness of our nature, that our weakness might not last for ever. For He assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And, “though He was crucified through weakness,” as the Apostle saith, “yet He liveth by the power of God.” They are the words too of the same Apostle; “He dieth no more, and death shall have no more dominion over Him.” These things, I say, are well known to your faith. And there is also this which follows from it, that we should know that all the miracles which He did on the body, avail to our instruction, that we may from them perceive that which is not to pass away, nor to have any end. He restored to the blind those eyes which death was sure sometime to close; He raised Lazarus to life who was to die again. And whatever He did for the health of bodies, He did it not to this end that they should be for ever; whereas at the last He will give eternal health even to the body itself. But because those things which were not seen, were not believed; by means of these temporal things which were seen, He built up faith in those things which were not seen.

Let no one then, Brethren, say that our Lord Jesus Christ doeth not those things now, and on this account prefer the former to the present ages of the Church. In a certain place indeed the same Lord prefers those who “do not see, and yet believe,” to them who see and therefore believe. For even at that time so irresolute was the infirmity of His disciples, that they thought that He whom they saw to have risen again must be handled, in order that they might believe. It was not enough for their eyes that they had seen Him, unless their hands also were applied to His limbs, and the scars of His recent wounds were touched; that that disciple who was in doubt, might cry out suddenly when he had touched and recognised the scars, “My Lord and my God.” The scars manifested Him who had healed all wounds in others. Could not the Lord have risen again without the scars? Yes, but He knew the wounds which were in the hearts of His disciples, and to heal them He had preserved the scars on His own Body. And what said the Lord to him who now confessed and said, “My Lord and my God”? “Because thou hast seen,” He said, “thou hast believed; blessed are they who do not see, and yet believe.” Of whom spake He, Brethren, but of us? Not that He spake only of us, but of those also who shall come after us. For after a little while when He had departed from the sight of men, that faith might be established in their hearts, whosoever believed, believed, though they saw Him not, and great has been the merit of their faith; for the procuring of which faith they brought only the movement of a pious heart, and not the touching of their hands.

These things then the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This faith reigneth now in the Church, which is spread throughout the whole world. And now He worketh greater cures, on account of which He disdained not then to exhibit those lesser ones. For as the soul is better than the body, so is the saving health of the soul better than the health of the body. The blind body doth not now open its eyes by a miracle of the Lord, but the blinded heart openeth its eyes to the word of the Lord. The mortal corpse doth not now rise again, but the soul doth rise again which lay dead in a living body. The deaf ears of the body are not now opened; but how many have the ears of their heart closed, which yet fly open at the penetrating word of God, so that they believe who did not believe, and they live well, who did live evilly, and they obey, who did not obey; and we say, “Such a man is become a believer;” and we wonder when we hear of them whom once we had known as hardened. Why then dost thou marvel at one who now believes, who is living innocently, and serving God; but because thou dost behold him seeing, whom thou hadst known to be blind; dost behold him living, whom thou hadst known to be dead; dost behold him hearing, whom thou hadst known to be deaf? For consider that there are who are dead in another than the ordinary sense, of whom the Lord spake to a certain man who delayed to follow the Lord, because he wished to bury his father; “Let the dead,” said He, “bury their dead.” Surely these dead buriers are not dead in body; for if this were so, they could not bury dead bodies. Yet doth he call them dead; where, but in the soul within? For as we may often see in a household, itself sound and well, the master of the same house lying dead; so in a sound body do many carry a dead soul within; and these the Apostle arouses thus, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” It is the Same who giveth light to the blind, that awakeneth the dead. For it is with His voice that the cry is made by the Apostle to the dead, “Awake, thou that sleepest.” And the blind will be enlightened with light, when he shall have risen again. And how many deaf men did the Lord see before His eyes, when He said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”For who was standing before Him without his bodily ears? What other ears then did He seek for, but those of the inner man?

Again, what eyes did He look for when He spake to those who saw indeed, but who saw only with the eyes of the flesh? For when Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;” he understood indeed that if the Father were shown him, it might well suffice him; but how would the Father suffice him whom He that was equal to the Father sufficed not? And why did He not suffice? Because He was not seen. And why was He not seen? Because the eye whereby He might be seen was not yet whole. For this, namely, that the Lord was seen in the flesh with the outward eyes, not only the disciples who honoured Him saw, but also the Jews who crucified Him. He then who wished to be seen in another way, sought for other eyes. And therefore it was that to him who said, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;” He answered, “Have I been so long time with you; and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He who hath seen Me, hath seen the Father also.” And that He might in the mean while heal the eyes of faith, he has first of all instructions given him regarding faith, that so he might attain to sight. And lest Philip should think that he was to conceive of God under the same form in which he then saw the Lord Jesus Christ in the body, he immediately subjoined; “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?”He had already said, “He who hath seen Me, hath seen the Father also.” But Philip’s eye was not yet sound enough to see the Father, nor consequently to see the Son who is Himself Coequal with the Father. And so Jesus Christ took in hand to cure, and with the medicines and salve of faith to strengthen the eyes of his mind, which as yet were weak and unable to behold so great a light, and He said, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” Let not him then who cannot yet see what the Lord will one day show him, seek first to see what he is to believe; but let him first believe that the eye by which he is to see may be healed. For it was only the form of the servant which was exhibited to the eyes of servants; because if “He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” could have been now seen as equal with God by those whom He wished to be healed, He would not have needed to “empty Himself, and to take the form of a servant.” But because there was no way whereby God could be seen, but whereby man could be seen, there was; therefore He who was God was made man, that that which was seen might heal that whereby He was not seen. For He saith Himself in another place, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Philip might of course have answered and said, “Lord, lo, I see Thee; is the Father such as I see Thee to be? forasmuch as Thou hast said, ‘He who hath seen Me, hath seen the Father also’?” But before Philip answered thus, or perhaps before he so much as thought it, when the Lord had said, “He who hath seen Me, hath seen the Father also;” He immediately added, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” For with that eye he could, not yet see either the Father, or the Son who is equal with the Father; but that his eye might be healed for seeing, he was to be anointed unto believing. So then before thou seest what thou canst not now see, believe what as yet thou seest not. “Walk by faith,” that thou mayest attain to sight. Sight will not gladden him in his home whom faith consoleth not by the way. For so says the Apostle, “As long as we are in the body, we are in pilgrimage from the Lord.”  And he subjoins immediately why we are still “in pilgrimage,” though we have now believed; “For we walk by faith,” He says, “not by sight.”

Our whole business then, Brethren, in this life is to heal this eye of the heart whereby God may be seen. To this end are celebrated the Holy Mysteries; to this end is preached the word of God; to this end are the moral exhortations of the Church, those, that is, that relate to the correction of manners, to the amendment of carnal lusts, to the renouncing the world, not in word only, but in a change of life: to this end is directed the whole aim of the Divine and Holy Scriptures, that that inner man may be purged of that which hinders us from the sight of God. For as the eye which is formed to see this temporal light, a light though heavenly, yet corporeal, and manifest, not to men only, but even to the meanest animals (for for this the eye is formed, to see this light); if anything be thrown or fall into it, whereby it is disordered, is shut out from this light; and though it encompass the eye with its presence, yet the eye turns itself away from, and is absent from it; and through its disordered condition is not only rendered absent from the light which is present, but the light to see which it was formed, is even painful to it. So the eye of the heart too when it is disordered and wounded turns away from the light of righteousness, and dares not and cannot contemplate it.

And what is it that disorders the eye of the heart? Evil desire, covetousness, injustice, worldly concupiscence, these disorder, close, blind the eye of the heart. And yet when the eye of the body is out of order, how is the physician sought out, what an absence of all delay to open and cleanse it, that that may be healed whereby this outward light is seen! There is running to and fro, no one is still, no one loiters, if even the smallest straw fall into the eye. And God it must be allowed made the sun which we desire to see with sound eyes. Much brighter assuredly is He who made it; nor is the light with which the eye of the mind is concerned of this kind at all. That light is eternal Wisdom. God made thee, O man, after His own image. Would He give thee wherewithal to see the sun which He made, and not give thee wherewithal to see Him who made thee, when He made thee after His own image? He hath given thee this also; both hath He given thee. But much thou dost love these outward eyes, and despisest much that interior eye; it thou dost carry about bruised and wounded. Yea, it would be a punishment to thee, if thy Maker should wish to manifest Himself unto thee; it would be a punishment to thine eye, before that it is cured and healed. For so Adam in paradise sinned, and hid himself from the face of God. As long then as he had the sound heart of a pure conscience, he rejoiced at the presence of God; when that eye was wounded by sin, he began to dread the Divine light, he fled back into the darkness, and the thick covert of the trees, flying from the truth, and anxious for the shade.

Therefore, my Brethren, since we too are born of him, and as the Apostle says, “In Adam all die;” for we were all at first two persons if we were loth to obey the physician, that we might not be sick; let us obey Him now, that we may be delivered from sickness. The physician gave us precepts, when we were whole; He gave us precepts that we might not need a physician. “They that are whole,” He saith, “need not a physician, but they that are sick.” When whole we despised these precepts, and by experience have felt how to our own destruction we despised His precepts. Now we are sick, we are in distress, we are on the bed of weakness; yet let us not despair. For because we could not come to the Physician, He hath vouchsafed to come Himself to us. Though despised by man when he was whole, He did not despise him when he was stricken. He did not leave off to give other precepts to the weak, who would not keep the first precepts, that he might not be weak; as though He would say, “Assuredly thou hast by experience felt that I spake the truth when I said, Touch not this. Be healed then now at length, and recover the life thou hast lost. Lo, I am bearing thine infirmity; drink thou the bitter cup. For thou hast of thine own self made those my so sweet precepts which were given to thee when whole, so toilsome. They were despised and so thy distress began; cured thou canst not be, except thou drink the bitter cup, the cup of temptations, wherein this life abounds, the cup of tribulation, anguish, and sufferings. Drink then,” He says, “drink, that thou mayest live.” And that the sick man may not make answer, “I cannot, I cannot bear it, I will not drink;” the Physician, all whole though he be, drinketh first, that the sick man may not hesitate to drink. For what bitterness is there in this cup, which He hath not drunk? If it be contumely; He heard it first when He drove out the devils, “He hath a devil, and by Beelzebub He casteth out devils.” Whereupon in order to comfort the sick, He saith, “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?” If pains are this bitter cup, He was bound and scourged and crucified. If death be this bitter cup, He died also. If infirmity shrink with horror from any particular kind of death, none was at that time more ignominious than the death of the cross. For it was not in vain that the Apostle, when setting forth His obedience, added, “Made obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

But because He designed to honour His faithful ones at the end of the world, He hath first honoured the cross in this world; in such wise that the princes of the earth who believe in Him have prohibited any criminal from being crucified; and that cross which the Jewish persecutors with great mockery prepared for the Lord, even kings His servants at this day bear with great confidence on their foreheads. Only the shameful nature of the death which our Lord vouchsafed to undergo for us is not now so apparent, Who, as the Apostle says, “was made a curse for us.” And when as He hung, the blindness of the Jews mocked Him, surely He could have come down from the Cross, who if He had not so willed, had not been on the Cross; but it was a greater thing to rise from the grave than to come down from the Cross. Our Lord then in doing these Divine, and in suffering these human things, instructs us by His Bodily miracles and Bodily patience, that we may believe, and be made whole to behold those things invisible which the eye of the body hath no knowledge of. With this intent then He cured these blind men of whom the account has just now been read in the Gospel. And consider what instruction He has by their cure conveyed to the man who is sick within.

Consider the issue of the thing, and the order of the circumstances. Those two blind men sitting by the way side cried out as the Lord passed by, that He would have mercy upon them. But they were restrained from crying out by the multitude which was with the Lord. Now do not suppose that this circumstance is left without a mysterious meaning. But they overcame the crowd who kept them back by the great perseverance of their cry, that their voice might reach the Lord’s ears; as though He had not already anticipated their thoughts. So then the two blind men cried out that they might be heard by the Lord, and could not be restrained by the multitudes. The Lord “was passing by,” and they cried out. The Lord “stood still,” and they were healed. For “the Lord Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto Him, That our eyes may be opened.” The Lord did according to their faith, He recovered their eyes. If we have now understood by the sick, the deaf, the dead, the sick, and deaf, and dead, within; let us look out in this place also for the blind within. The eyes of the heart are clossd; “Jesus passeth by” that we may cry out. What is, “Jesus passeth by”? Jesus is doing things which last but for a time. What is “Jesus passeth by”? Jesus doeth things which pass by. Mark and see how many things of His have “passed by.” He was born of the Virgin Mary; is He being born always? As an infant was He suckled; is He suckled always? He ran through the successive ages of life unto man’s full estate; doth He grow in body always? Boyhood succeeded to infancy, to boyhood youth, to youth man’s full stature in several passing successions. Even the very miracles which He did are “passed by,” they are read and believed. For because these miracles are written that so they might be read, they “passed by” when they were being done. In a word, not to dwell long on this, He was Crucified: is He hanging on the Cross always? He was Buried, He Rose again, He Ascended into heaven; “now He dieth no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him.” And His Divinity abideth ever, yea, the Immortality of His Body now shall never fail. But nevertheless all those things which were wrought by Him in time have “passed by;” and they are written to be read, and they are preached to be believed. In all these things then, “Jesus passeth by.”

And what are “the two blind men by the way side,” but the two people to cure whom Jesus came? Let us show those two people in the Holy Scriptures. It is written in the Gospel, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also must I bring, that there may be one fold and One Shepherd.” Who then are the two people? One the people of the Jews, and the other of the Gentiles. “I am not sent,” He saith, “but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” To whom did He say this? To the disciples; when that woman of Canaan who confessed herself to be a dog, cried out that she might be found worthy of the crumbs from the master’s table. And because she was found worthy, now were the two people to whom He had come made manifest: the Jewish people, to wit, of whom He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” and the people of the Gentiles, whose type this woman exhibited whom He had first rejected, saying, “It is not meet to cast the children’s bread to the dogs;” and to whom when she said, “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table;” He answered, “O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” For of this people also was that centurion of whom the same Lord saith, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Because he had said, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” So then the Lord even before His Passion and Glorification pointed out two people, the one to whom He had come because of the promises to the Fathers; and the other whom for His mercy’s sake He did not reject; that it might be fulfilled which had been promised to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” Wherefore also the Apostle after the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension, when He was despised by the Jews, went to the Gentiles. Not that he was silent however towards the Churches which consisted of Jewish believers; “I was unknown,” he says, “by face unto the Churches of Judæa which were in Christ. But they heard only that he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed, and they glorified God in me.”  So again Christ is called the “Corner Stone who made both one.” For a corner joins two walls which come from different sides together. And what was so different as the circumcision and uncircumcision, having one wall from Judæa, the other from the Gentiles? But they are joined together by the corner stone. “For the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.” There is no corner in a building, except when two walls coming from different directions meet together, and are joined in a kind of unity. The “two blind men” then crying out unto the Lord were these two walls according to the figure.

1Attend now, dearly Beloved. The Lord was “passing by,” and the blind men “cried out.” What is “was passing by”? As we have already said, He was doing works which “passed by.” Now upon these passing works is our faith built up. For we believe on the Son of God, not only in that He is the word of God, by whom all things were made; for if He had always continued “in the form of God, equal with God,” and had not “emptied Himself in taking the form of a servant,” the blind men would not even have perceived Him, that they might be able to cry out. But when He wrought passing works, that is, “when He humbled Himself, having become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” the “two blind men cried out, Have mercy on us, thou Son of David.” For this very thing that He David’s Lord and Creator, willed also to be David’s Son, He wrought in time, He wrought “passing by.”

1Now what is it, Brethren, “to cry out” unto Christ, but to correspond to the grace of Christ by good works? This I say, Brethren, lest haply we cry aloud with our voices, and in our lives be dumb. Who is he that crieth out to Christ, that his inward blindness may be driven away by Christ as He is “passing by,” that is, as He is dispensing to us those temporal sacraments, whereby we are instructed to receive the things which are eternal? Who is he that crieth out unto Christ? Whoso despiseth the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso despiseth the pleasures of the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso saith not with his tongue, but with his life, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world,” crieth out unto Christ. Whoso “disperseth abroad and giveth to the poor, that his righteousness may endure for ever,” crieth out unto Christ. For let him that hears, and is not deaf to the sound, “sell that ye have, and give to the poor; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not;” let him as he hears the sound as it were of Christ’s footsteps “passing by,” cry out in response to this in his blindness, that is, let him do these things. Let his voice be in his actions. Let him begin to despise the world, to distribute to the poor his goods, to esteem as nothing worth what other men love, let him disregard injuries, not seek to be avenged, let him give his “cheek to the smiter,” let him pray for his enemies; if any “one have taken away his goods,” let “him not ask for them again;” if he “have taken anything from any man, let him restore fourfold.”

1When he shall begin to do all this, all his kinsmen, relations, and friends will be in commotion. They who love this world, will oppose him. What madness this! you are too extreme: what! are not other men Christians? This is folly, this is madness. And other such like things do the multitude cry out to prevent the blind from crying out. The multitude rebuked them as they cried out; but did not overcome their cries. Let them who wish to be healed understand what they have to do. Jesus is now also “passing by;” let them who are by the way side cry out. These are they “who know God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him.”  These are by the way side, to whom as blinded in heart Jesus gives His precepts. For when those passing things which Jesus did are recounted, Jesus is always represented to us as “passing by.” For even unto the end of the world there will not be wanting “blind men sitting by the way side.” Need then there is that they who sit by the way side should cry out. The multitude that was with the Lord would repress the crying of those who were seeking for recovery. Brethren, do ye see my meaning? For I know not how to speak, but still less do I know how to be silent. I will speak then, and speak plainly. For I fear “Jesus passing by” and “Jesus standing still;” and therefore I cannot keep silence. Evil and lukewarm Christians hinder good Christians who are truly earnest, and wish to do the commandments of God which are written in the Gospel. This multitude which is with the Lord hinders those who are crying out, hinders those that is who are doing well, that they may not by perseverance be healed. But let them cry out, and not faint; let them not be led away as if by the authority of numbers; let them not imitate those who became Christians before them, who live evil lives themselves, and are jealous of the good deeds of others. Let them not say, “Let us live as these so many live.” Why not rather as the Gospel ordains? Why dost thou wish to live according to the remonstrances of the multitude who would hinder thee, and not after the steps of the Lord, “who passeth by”? They will mock, and abuse, and call thee back; do thou cry out till thou reach the ears of Jesus. For they who shall persevere in doing such things as Christ hath enjoined, and regard not the multitudes that hinder them, nor think much of their appearing to follow Christ, that is of their being called Christians; but who love the light which Christ is about to restore to them, more than they fear the uproar of those who are hindering them; they shall on no account be separated from Him, and Jesus will “stand still,” and make them whole.

1For how are our eyes made whole? That as by faith we perceive Christ “passing by” in the temporal economy, so we may attain to the knowledge of Him as “standing still” in His unchangeable Eternity. For then is the eye made whole when the knowledge of Christ’s Divinity is attained. Let your love apprehend this; attend ye to the great mystery which I am to speak of. All the things which were done by our Lord Jesus Christ in time, graft faith in us. We believe on the Son of God, not on the Word only, “by which all things were made;” but on this very Word, “made flesh that He might dwell among us,” who was born of the Virgin Mary, and the rest which the Faith contains, and which are represented to us that Christ might “pass by,” and that the blind, hearing His footsteps as He “passeth by,” might by their works “cry out,” by their life exemplifying the profession of their faith. But now in order that they who cry out may be made whole, “Jesus standeth still.” For he saw Jesus now “standing still” who says, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.” For he saw Christ’s Divinity as far as in this life is possible. There is then in Christ the Divinity and the Humanity. The Divinity “standeth still,” the Humanity “passeth by.” What means, The Divinity “standeth still”? It changeth not, is not shaken, doth not depart away. For He did not so come to us, as to depart from the Father; nor did He so ascend as to change His place. When He assumed Flesh, it changed place; but God assuming Flesh, seeing He is not in place, doth not change His place. Let us then be touched by Christ “standing still,” and so our eyes be made whole. But whose eyes? The eyes of those who “cry out” when He is “passing by;” that is, who do good works through that faith, which hath been dispensed in time, to instruct us in our infancy.

1Now what thing more precious can we have than the eye made whole? They rejoice who see this created light which shines from heaven, or even that which is given out from a lamp. And how wretched do they seem, who cannot see this light? But wherefore do I speak, and talk of all these things, but to exhort you all to “cry out,” when Jesus “passeth by.” I hold up this light which perhaps ye do not see as an object of love to you, Holy Brethren. Believe, whilst as yet ye see not; and “cry out” that ye may see. How great is thought to be the unhappiness of men, who do not see this bodily light? Does any one become blind; immediately it is said; “God is angry with him, he has committed some wicked deed.” So said Tobias’ wife to her husband. He cried out because of the kid, lest it had come of theft; he did not like to hear the sound of any stolen thing in his house; and she, maintaining what she had done, reproached her husband; and when he said, “Restore it if it be stolen;” she answered insultingly, “Where are thy righteous deeds?” How great was her blindness who maintained the theft; and how clear a light he saw, who commanded the stolen thing to be restored! She rejoiced outwardly in the light of the sun; he inwardly in the light of Righteousness. Which of them was in the better light?

1It is to the love of this light that I would exhort you, Beloved; that ye would cry out by your works, when the Lord “passeth by;” let the voice of faith sound out, that “Jesus standing still,” that is, the Unchangeable, Abiding Wisdom of God, and the Majesty of the Word of God, “by which all things were made,” may open your eyes. The same Tobias in giving advice to his son, instructed him to this, to cry out; that is, he instructed him to good works. He told him to give to the poor, charged him to give alms to the needy, and taught him, saying, “My son, alms suffereth not to come into darkness.” The blind gave counsel for receiving and gaining light. “Alms,” saith he, “suffereth not to come into darkness.” Had his son in astonishment answered him, “What then, father, hast thou not given alms, that thou now speakest to me in blindness; art not thou in darkness, and yet thou dost say to me, “Alms suffereth not to come into darkness.” But no, he knew well what the light was, concerning which he gave his son instruction, he knew well what he saw in the inner man. The son held out his hand to his father, to enable him to walk on earth; and the father to the son, to enable him to dwell in heaven.

1To be brief; that I may conclude this Sermon, Brethren, with a matter which touches me very nearly, and gives me much pain, see what crowds there are which “rebuke the blind as they cry out.” But let them not deter you, whosoever among this crowd desire to be healed; for there are many Christians in name, and in works ungodly; let them not deter you from good works. Cry out amid the crowds that are restraining you, and calling you back, and insulting you, whose lives are evil. For not only by their voices, but by evil works, do wicked Christians repress the good. A good Christian has no wish to attend the public shows. In this very thing, that he bridles his desire of going to the theatre, he cries out after Christ, cries out to be healed. Others run together thither, but perhaps they are heathens or Jews? Ah! indeed, if Christians went not to the theatres, there would be so few people there, that they would go away for very shame. So then Christians run thither also, bearing the Holy Name only to their condemnation. Cry out then by abstaining from going, by repressing in thy heart this worldly concupiscence; hold on with a strong and persevering cry unto the ears of the Saviour, that Jesus may “stand still” and heal thee. Cry out amidst the very crowds, despair not of reaching the ears of the Lord. For the blind men in the Gospel did not cry out in that quarter, where no crowd was, that so they might be heard in that direction, where there was no impediment from persons hindering them. Amidst the very crowds they cried out; and yet the Lord heard them. And so also do ye even amidst sinners, and sensual then, amidst the lovers of the vanities of the world, there cry out that the Lord may heal you. Go not to another quarter to cry out unto the Lord, go not to heretics, and cry out unto Him there. Consider, Brethren, how in that crowd which was hindering them from crying out, even there were they who cried out made whole.

1For observe this too, Holy Brethren, what it is to persevere in crying out. I will speak of what many as well as myself have experienced in Christ’s name; for the Church does not cease to give birth to such as these. When any Christian has begun to live well, to be fervent in good works, and to despise the world; in this newness of his life he is exposed to the animadversions and contradictions of cold Christians. But if he persevere, and get the better of them by his endurance, and faint not in good works; those very same persons who before hindered will now respect him. For they rebuke, and hinder, and withstand him so long as they have any hope that he will yield to them. But if they shall be overcome by their perseverance who make progress, they turn round and begin to say, “He is a great man, a holy man, happy he to whom God hath given such grace.” Now do they honour him, they congratulate and bless and laud him; just as that multitude did which was with the Lord. They first hindered the blind men that they might not cry out; but when they continued to cry so as to attain to be heard, and to obtain the Lord’s mercy, that same multitude now says, “Jesus calleth you.” And they who a little before “rebuked them that they should hold their peace,” use now the voice of exhortation. Now he only is not called by the Lord who is not in labour in this world. But who is there in this life who is not in labour through his sins and iniquities? But if all labour, it is said to all, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour.”  Now if this is said to all, why ascribest thou thy miscarriage to Him that so inviteth thee? Come. His house is not too narrow for thee; the kingdom of God is possessed equally by all, and wholly by each one; it is not diminished by the increasing number of those who possess it, because it is not divided. And that which is possessed by many with one heart, is whole and entire for each one.

1Yet in the mysterious sense of this passage, Brethren, we recognise what is expressed most plainly in other places of the sacred books, that there are within the Church both good and bad, as I often express it, wheat and chaff. Let no one leave the floor before the time, let him bear with the chaff in the time of threshing, let him bear with it in the floor. For in the barn he will have none of it to bear with. The Winnower will come, who shall divide the bad from the good. There will then be a bodily separation too, which a spiritual separation now precedes. In heart be always separated from the bad, in body be united with them for a time, only with caution. Yet be not negligent in correcting those who belong to you, who in any way appertain to your charge, by admonition, or instruction, by exhortation, or by threats. Do it, in whatsoever way ye can. And because ye find in Scripture and in the examples of Saints, whether of those who lived before or after the coming of the Lord in this life, that the bad do not defile the good in unity with them, do not on this account become slow in the correction of the bad. In two ways the bad will not defile thee; if thou consent not to him, and if thou reprove him; this is, not to communicate with him, not to consent to him. For there is a communication, when an agreement either of the will or of the approbation is joined to his deed. This the Apostle teaches us, when he says, “Have no communication with the unfruitful works of darkness.” And because it was a small matter not to consent, if negligence in correction accompanied it, he says, “But rather reprove them.” See how he comprehended both at once, “Have no communication, but rather reprove them.” What is, “Have no communication”? Do not consent to them, do not praise them, do not approve them. What is, “But rather reprove them”? Find fault with, rebuke, repress them.

20. But then in the correction and repressing of other men’s sins, one must take heed, that in rebuking another he do not lift up himself; and that sentence of the Apostle must be thought of, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” Let the voice of chiding sound outwardly in tones of terror, let the spirit of love and gentleness be maintained within. “If a man be overtaken in a fault,” as the same Apostle says, “ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so shall ye fulfil the law of Christ.” And again in another place, “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are held captive by him at his will.” So then be neither consenting to evil, so as to approve of it; nor negligent so as not to reprove it; nor proud so as to reprove it in a tone of insult.

2But whoso forsaketh unity, violateth charity; and whosoever violateth charity, how great gifts soever he have, he is nothing. “If he speak with the tongues of men and of angels; if he knew all mysteries, if he have all faith, so as to remove mountains, if he distribute all his goods to the poor, if he give his body to be burned, and have not charity; it is nothing; it profiteth him nothing.”He possesseth all things to no useful end, who hath not that one thing by which he may use all these things well. So then let us embrace charity, “studying to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Let not those seduce us who understand the Scriptures in a carnal manner, and who in making a bodily separation, are separated themselves by a spiritual sacrilege from the good corn of the Church which is spread over the whole world. For throughout the whole world hath the good seed been sown. That good Sower, the Son of Man, hath scattered the good seed not in Africa only, but everywhere. But the enemy hath sown tares upon it. Yet what saith the Householder? “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Grow where? In the field, of course. What is the field? Is it Africa? No! What is it then? Let us not interpret it ourselves, let the Lord speak; let us not suffer any one to make his guess at his own pleasure. For the disciples said to the Master, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares.” And the Lord declared it: “The good seed,” said He, “are the children of the Kingdom. But the tares are the children of the wicked one.” Who sowed them? “The enemy that sowed them,” said He,” is the devil.” What is the field? “The field,” said He, “is this world.” What is the harvest? “The harvest,” said He, “is the end of the world.” Who are the reapers? “The reapers,” said He, “are the Angels.” Is Africa the world? Is this present time the harvest? Is Donatus the reaper? Look then for the harvest throughout the whole world, throughout the whole world “grow unto the harvest,” throughout the whole world bear with the tares even until the harvest. Let not perverse men seduce you, that chaff so light, which flies out of the floor before the coming of the Winnower; let them not seduce you. Hold them fast even to this single parable of the tares, and suffer them not to speak of anything else. This man, one will say, surrendered the Scriptures; no, not so: but this other man surrendered them. Whosoever it might be who has surrendered them, has their faithlessness made void the faithfulness of God? What is “the faithfulness of God”? That which He promised to Abraham, saying, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” What is the faithfulness of God? “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Grow where? Throughout the field. What is throughout the field? Throughout the world.

2Here they say; “It is true both kinds did once grow throughout the world, but the good wheat is diminished, and confined to this our country, and our small communion.” But the Lord doth not allow thee to interpret as thou wilt. He who explaineth this parable Himself, shutteth thy mouth, thy sacrilegious, profane, and ungodly mouth, that is counter to thine own interests, while thou runnest counter to the testator, even as he calleth thee to the inheritance. How doth He shut thy mouth? by saying, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” If the harvest hath come already, let us believe that the wheat has been diminished. Though not even then shall it be diminished, but gathered up into the barn. For so He saith, “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into My barn.” If then they grow until the harvest, and after the harvest are gathered in, how are they diminished, thou wicked, thou ungodly one? I grant that in comparison with the tares and chaff the wheat is less in quantity; still “both grow together until the harvest.” For “when iniquity aboundeth, the love of many waxeth cold;” the tares and the chaff multiply. But because throughout the whole world wheat cannot be wanting, which “by enduring unto the end shall be saved, both grow together until the harvest.” And if because of the abundance of the wicked it is said, “When the Son of Man cometh, thinkest thou, shall He find faith on the earth?” and by this denomination are signified all those who by transgression of the law imitate him to whom it was said,” Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return;” yet because of the abundance of the good also, and because of him to whom it was said, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the sea;” is that also written, “Many shall come from the East and West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, in the kingdom of God.” “Both” then “grow together until the harvest,” and both the tares or chaff have their passages in the Scriptures, and the wheat theirs. And they who do not understand them, confound them and are themselves confounded; and in their blind desire they make such an uproar, that they will not be silenced even by the clear manifestation of the truth.

2See, they say, the Prophet says, “Depart ye, go ye out from thence, and touch no unclean thing;” how then for peace sake should we bear with the wicked, from whom we are commanded to “go out and depart that we touch not the unclean thing”? We understand that “departure” spiritually, they corporally. For I also cry out with the Prophet (for however mean a vessel I am, God maketh use of me to minister to you); I also cry out and say to you, “Depart ye, go ye out from thence, and touch not the unclean thing;” but with the touch of the heart, not of the body. For what is it to “touch the unclean thing,” but to consent to sin. And what is it to “go out from thence,” but to do what appertaineth to the rebuking of the wicked, as far as can be done, according to each one’s grade and condition, with the maintenance of peace? Thou art displeased at a man’s sin, thou hast not “touched the unclean thing.” Thou hast reproved, rebuked, admonished him, hast administered, if the case required it, a suitable discipline, and such as doth not violate unity; then thou hast “gone out from thence.” Now consider the actions of the Saints, lest perhaps this should seem to be an interpretation of my own. As Saints have understood these words, so surely ought they to be understood. “Go ye out from them,” says the Prophet. I will first maintain this meaning of the words from their customary use, and will afterwards show that that meaning is not my own. It often happens that men are accused; and when they are accused they defend themselves, and when the accused defends himself with good reason and justice, the hearers say, “He has got out of this.” Got out; whither has he gone? He abides still in the place where he was, yet has he “got out of this.” How has he got out of it? By the good account he has rendered, and by his most satisfactory defence. This is what the holy Apostles did when they “shook off the dust from their feet” against those who did not receive the message of peace which was sent to them. That watchman, “got out from thence,” to whom it was I said, “I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel.” For it was told him “If thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his way, that wicked one shall die in his iniquity, and thou shalt deliver thy soul.” This if he do, he “goes out from him,” not by a bodily separation, but by the defence of his own work. For he did what it was his duty to do; though the other, whose duty it was to obey, obeyed not. This then is that, “Go ye out from thence.”

2So cried Moses and Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Let us see then if they acted thus, if they left the people of God, and betook themselves to other nations. How many and vehement rebukes did Jeremiah utter against the sinners, and wicked ones of his people. Yet he lived amongst them, he entered into the same temple with them, celebrated the same mysteries; he lived in that congregation of wicked men, but by his crying out “he went out from them.” This is “to go out from them;” this is not “to touch the unclean thing,” the not consenting to them in will, and the not sparing them in word. What shall I say of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, of Daniel, and Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets, who did not retire from the wicked people, lest they should desert the good who were mingled with that people, among whom themselves were able to be such as they were? When Moses himself, Brethren, was receiving the law in the mount, the people below made an idol. The people of God, the people who had been led through the waves of the Red Sea which gave way to them, and overwhelmed their enemies who followed after, after so many signs and miracles displayed in plagues upon the Egyptians even unto death, and for “their” protection unto deliverance, yet demanded an idol, obtained an idol by force, made an idol, adored an idol, sacrificed unto an idol. God showeth His servant what the people had done, and saith that He will destroy them from before His Face. Moses maketh intercession for them as he was about to return to this people; yet had he a good opportunity of retiring and “going out from them,” as these persons understand it, that he might “not touch the unclean thing,” might not live among them; but he did not so. And that he might not seem to have acted thus from necessity rather than from love, God offered him another people; so that He might destroy these: “I will make of thee,” He said, “a great nation.”  But he did not accept it; he cleaveth to the sinners, he prayeth for the sinners. And how does he pray? O signal proof of love, my Brethren! How does he pray? Mark that, as it were, mother’s fondness, of which I have often spoken. When God threatened the sacrilegious people, Moses’ tender heart trembled, and on their behalf he opposed himself to the wrath of God. “Lord,” he says, “if Thou wilt forgive their sin, forgive; but if not, blot me out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” With what a father’s and mother’s fondness, yet with what assurance said he this, as he considered at once the justice and the mercy of God; that in that He is just, He would not destroy the righteous man; and that in that He is merciful, He would pardon the sinners.

2It is now surely plain to your discernment, in what manner all such testimonies of the Scriptures are to be received; so that when Scripture says, that we must depart from the wicked, we are bid to understand this in no other sense, but that we depart in heart; lest by the separation from the good, we commit a greater evil than we shrink from in the union of the wicked, as these Donatists have done. But if they were truly good, and so had reproved the wicked, and not rather being themselves wicked, had defamed  the good, they would for peace sake bear with any, be they who they might, seeing they have received the Maximianists as sound, whom they condemned before as lost. Undoubtedly the Prophet has said plainly, “Depart ye, go ye out from thence, and touch not the unclean thing.” But that I may understand what he said, I pay attention to what he did. By his own deeds he explains his words. He said, “Depart ye.” To whom did he say so? To the righteous of course. From whom did he bid them depart? From sinners and wicked men of course. I ask then, did he depart from such himself? I find that he did not. So then he understood it in another sense. For surely he would be the first to do what he enjoined. He departed from them in heart, he rebuked and reproved them. By keeping himself from consenting to them, he “did not touch the unclean thing;” but by rebuking them he “went out” free in the sight of God; and to him God neither imputeth his own sins, because he sinned not; nor the sins of others, because he approved them not; nor negligence, because he kept not silence; nor pride, because he continued in unity. So then, my Brethren, how many soever ye have among you, who are still weighed down by the love of the world, covetous, or perjured persons, adulterers, spectacle hunters, consulters of astrologers, of fanatics, of soothsayers, of augurs and diviners, drunkards, sensualists, whatever there is of bad that ye know ye have among you; show your disapprobation of it all as far as ye are able, that ye may in heart “depart;” and reprove them, that ye may “go out from them;” and consent not to them, that “ye touch not the unclean thing.”

 
39 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxi. 19', where Jesus dried up the fig-tree; and on the words, Luke xxiv. 28', where He made a pretence as though He would go further.

1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel which has just been read, has given us an alarming warning, lest we have leaves only, and have no fruit. That is, in few words, lest words be present and deeds be wanting. Very terrible! Who does not fear when in this lesson he sees with the eyes of the heart the withered tree, withered at that word being spoken to it, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever”? Let the fear work amendment, and the amendment bring forth fruit. For without doubt, the Lord Christ foresaw that a certain tree would deservedly become withered, because it would have leaves, and would have no fruit. That tree is the synagogue, not that which was called, but that which was reprobate. For out of it also was called the people of God, who in sincerity and truth waited in the Prophets for the salvation of God, Jesus Christ. And forasmuch as it waited in faith, it was thought worthy to know Him when He was present. For out of it came the Apostles, out of it came the whole multitude of those who went before the ass of the Lord, and said, “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.” There was a great company then of believing Jews, a great company of those who believed in Christ before He shed His Blood for them. For it was not in vain that the Lord Himself had come to none “but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But in others, after He was crucified, and was now exalted into heaven, He found the fruit of repentance; and these He did not make to wither, but cultivated them in His field, and watered them with His word. Of this number were those four thousand Jews who believed, after that the disciples and those who were with them, filled with the Holy Ghost, spake with the tongues of all nations, and in that diversity of tongues announced in a way beforehand, that the Church should be throughout all nations. They believed at that time, and “they were the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” but because “the Son of Man had come to seek and to save that which was lost,” He found these also. But they lay hid here and there among thorns, as though wasted and dispersed by the wolves; and because they lay hid among thorns, He did not come to find them, save when torn by the thorns of His Passion; yet come He did, He found, He redeemed them. They had slain, not Him so much, as themselves. They were saved by Him who was slain for them. For, as the Apostles spake, they were pricked; they were pricked in conscience, who had pricked Him with the spear; and being pricked they sought for counsel, received it when it was given, repented, found grace, and believing drunk that Blood which in their fury they had shed. But they who have remained in this bad and barren race, even unto this day, and shall remain unto the end, were figured in that tree. You come to them at this day, and find with them all the writings of the Prophets. But these are but leaves; Christ is an hungred, and He seeketh for fruit; but findeth no fruit among them, because He doth not find Himself among them. For He hath no fruit, who hath not Christ. And he hath not Christ, who holdeth not to Christ’s unity, who hath not charity. And so by this chain he hath no fruit who hath not charity. Hear the Apostle, “Now the fruit of the Spirit is charity;” so setting forth the praise of this cluster, that is, of this fruit; “The fruit of the Spirit,” he says, “is charity,  joy, peace, long-suffering.” Do not wonder at what follows, when charity leads the way.

Accordingly, when the disciples marvelled at the withering of the tree, He set forth to them the value of faith, and said to them, “If ye have faith, and doubt not;” that is, if in all things ye have trust in God; and do not say, “God can do this, this He cannot do;” but rely on the omnipotence of the Almighty; “ye shall not only do this, but also if ye shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Now we read that miracles were wrought by the disciples, yea rather by the Lord through the disciples; for, “without Me,” He says, “ye can do nothing.” The Lord could do many things without the disciples, but the disciples nothing without the Lord. He who could make even the disciples themselves, was not certainly assisted by them to make them. We read then of the Apostles’ miracles, but we nowhere read of a tree being withered by them, nor of a mountain removed into the sea. Let us enquire therefore where this was done. For the words of the Lord could not be without effect. If ye are thinking of “trees” and “mountains” in their ordinary and familiar sense, it has not been done. But if ye think of that tree of which He spake, and of that mountain of the Lord of which the Prophet said, “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be manifest;” if ye think of it, and understand it thus, it has been done, and done by the Apostles. The tree is the Jewish nation, but I say again, that part of it which was reprobate, not that which was called; that tree which we have spoken of is the Jewish nation. The mountain, as the prophetic testimony hath taught us, is the Lord Himself. The withered tree is the Jewish nation reft of the honour of Christ; the sea is this world with all the nations. Now see the Apostles speaking to this tree which was about to be withered away, and casting the mountain into the sea. In the Acts of the Apostles they speak to the Jews who gainsay and resist the word of truth, that is, who have leaves and have no fruit, and they say to them, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye have put it from you” (for ye use the words of the Prophets, yet do not acknowledge Him whom the Prophets foretold, that is, ye have leaves only), “lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” For this also was foretold by the Prophets; “Behold, I have given Thee for a light of the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.” See then, the tree hath withered away; and Christ hath been removed unto the Gentiles, the mountain into the sea. For how should not the tree wither away which is planted in that vineyard, of which it was said, “I will command my clouds that they rain no rain upon it”?

Now that in order to convey this truth the Lord acted prophetically, I mean that, as concerning this tree, it was not His will merely to exhibit a miracle, but that by the miracle He conveyed the intimation of something to come, there are many things which teach and persuade us, yea even against our wills force us to believe. In the first place, what fault in the tree was it that it had no fruit, when even if it had no fruit at the proper season, that is, the season of its fruit, it would not assuredly be any fault in the tree; for the tree as being without sense and reason could not be to blame. But to this is added, that as we read it in the narrative of the other Evangelist who expressly mentions this, “it was not the time for that fruit.” For that was the time when the fig-tree shoots forth its tender leaves, which come, we know, before the fruit; and this we prove, because the day of the Lord’s Passion was at hand, and we know at what time He suffered; and if we did not know it, we ought of course to give credit to the Evangelist who says, “The time of figs was not yet.” So then if it was only a miracle that was to have been set forth, and not something to be prophetically figured, it would have been much more worthy of the clemency and mercy of the Lord, to have made green again any tree He might find withered; as He healed the sick, as He cleansed the lepers, as He raised the dead. But then contrariwise, as though against the ordinary rule of His clemency, He found a green tree, not yet bearing fruit out of its proper season, but still not refusing the hope of fruit to its dresser, and He withered it away; as though He would say to us, “I have no delight in the withering away of this tree, but thus I would convey to you, that I have not designed to do this without any cause for it, but only because I desired thereby to convey to you a lesson you might the more regard. It is not this tree that I have cursed, it is not on a tree without sense that I have inflicted punishment, but I have made thee fear, whosoever thou art that dost consider the matter, that thou mightest not despise Christ when He is an hungered, that thou mightest love rather to be enriched with fruit, than to be overshadowed by leaves.”

This one thing is that which the Lord intimates that He designed to signify by what He did. What else is there? He cometh to the tree being hungry, and seeketh fruit. Did He not know that it was not the time for it? What the cultivator of the tree knew, did not its Creator know? He seeketh on the tree then for fruit which it had not yet. Doth He really seek for it, or rather make a pretence of seeking it? For if He really sought it, He was mistaken. But this be far from Him, to be mistaken! He made then a pretence of seeking it. Fearing to allow this, that he maketh a pretence, thou dost confess that He was mistaken. Again, thou dost turn away from the idea of His being mistaken, and so run into that of His making a pretence. We are parched up between the two. If we are parched, let us beg for rain, that we may grow green, lest in saying anything unworthy of the Lord, we rather wither away. The Evangelist indeed says, “He came to the tree, and found no fruit on it.” “He found none,” would not be said of Him, unless He had either really sought for it, or made a pretence of seeking, though He knew that there was none there. Wherefore we do not hesitate, let us by no means say that Christ was mistaken. What then? shall we say He made a pretence? Shall we say this? How shall we get out of this difficulty? Let us say what, if the Evangelist had not said of the Lord in another place, we should not of ourselves dare to say. Let us say what the Evangelist has written, and when we have said, let us understand it. But in order that we may understand it, let us first believe. For, “unless ye believe,” says the Prophet, “ye shall not understand.” The Lord Christ after His Resurrection, was walking in the way with two of His disciples, by whom He was not yet recognised, and with whom He joined company as a third traveller. They came to the place whither they were going, and the Evangelist says, “But He made a pretence as though He would have gone further.” But they kept Him, saying, in the spirit of a courteous kindness, that it was already drawing toward evening, and praying Him to tarry there with them; being received and entertained by them, He breaketh Bread, and is known of them in blessing and breaking of the Bread. So then, let us not now fear to say, that He made a pretence of seeking, if He made a pretence of going further. But here there arises another question. Yesterday I insisted at some length on the truth which is in the Apostles; how then do we find any “pretence” in the Lord Himself? Therefore, Brethren, I must tell you, and teach you according to my poor abilities, which the Lord giveth me for your benefit, and must convey to you what ye may hold as a rule in the interpretation of all Scripture. Everything that is said or done is to be understood either in its literal signification, or else it signifies something figuratively; or at least contains both of these at once, both its own literal interpretation, and a figurative signification also. Thus I have set forth three things, examples of them must now be given; and from whence, but from the Holy Scriptures? It is said in its literal acceptation, that the Lord suffered, that He rose again, and ascended into heaven; that we shall rise again at the end of the world, that we shall reign with Him for ever, if we do not despise Him. Take all this as spoken literally, and look not out for figures; as it is expressed, so it really is. And so also with divers actions. The Apostle went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, the Apostle actually did this, it actually took place, it was an action peculiar to himself. It is a fact which he tells you; a simple fact according to its literal meaning. “The stone which the builders refused, is become the Head of the corner,” is spoken in a figure. If we take “the stone” literally, what “stone did the builders refuse, which became the Head of the corner”? If we take “the stone” literally, of what corner is this “stone” become the Head? If we admit that it was figuratively expressed, and take it figuratively, the Corner-stone is Christ: the head of the corner, is the Head of the Church. Why is the Church the Corner? Because she has called the Jews from one side, and the Gentiles from another, and these two walls as it were coming from different quarters, and meeting together in one, she has bound together by the grace of her peace. For, “He is our peace, who hath made both one.”

Ye have heard instances of a literal expression, and a literal action, and of a figurative expression; ye are waiting for an instance of a figurative action. There are many such, but meanwhile, as is suggested by this mention of the corner-stone, when Jacob anointed the stone which he had placed at his head as he slept, and in his sleep saw a mysterious dream, ladders rising from the earth to heaven, and Angels ascending and descending, and the Lord standing upon the ladder, he understood what it was designed to figure, and took the stone for a figure of Christ, to prove to us thereby that he was no stranger to the understanding of that vision and revelation. Do not wonder then that he anointed it, for Christ received His Name from “the anointing.” Now this Jacob was said in the Scripture to be “a man without guile.” And this Jacob ye know was called Israel. Accordingly in the Gospel, when the Lord saw Nathanael, He said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” And that Israelite not yet knowing who it was that talked with him, answered, “Whence knewest Thou me?” And the Lord said to him, “When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee;” as though he would say, When thou wast in the shadow of sin, I predestinated thee. And Nathanael, because he remembered that he had been under the fig-tree, where the Lord was not, acknowledged His Divinity, and answered, “Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.” He who had been under the fig-tree was not made a withered fig-tree; he acknowledged Christ. And the Lord said unto him, “Because I said, When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee, believest thou? thou shall see greater things than these.” What are these “greater things”? “Verily I say unto you” (for he “is an Israelite in whom is no guile;” remember Jacob in whom was no guile; and recollect of what he is speaking, the stone at his head, the vision in his sleep, the ladder from earth to heaven, the Angels ascending and descending; and so see what it is that the Lord would say to “the Israelite without guile”); “Verily I say unto you, Ye shall see heaven opened” (hear, thou guileless Nathanael, what guileless Jacob saw); “ye shall see heaven opened, and Angels ascending and descending” (unto whom?) “unto the Son of Man.” Therefore was He, as the Son of Man, anointed on the head; for “the head of the woman is the man, and the Head of the man is Christ.” Now observe, He did not say, “ascending from the Son of Man, and descending to the Son of Man,” as if He were only above; but “ascending and descending unto the Son of Man.” Hear the Son of Man crying out from above, “Saul, Saul.” Hear the Son of Man from below, “Why persecutest thou Me?”

Ye have heard an instance of a literal expression, as “that we shall rise again;” of a literal action, as that, according as it is said, “Paul went up to Jerusalem to see Peter.” “The stone which the builders refused,” is a figurative expression; “the anointed stone” which was at Jacob’s head, is a figurative action. There is now due to your expectation an example made out of both together, something which is at once a literal fact, and which also signifies something else figured by it. “We know that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free-woman;” this was literally a fact, not only a story, but a fact; are ye looking for that which was figured in it? “These are the two Testaments.” That then which is spoken figuratively, is a sort of fiction. But since it has some real event represented by it, and the very figure itself has its ground of truth, it escapes all imputation of falsehood. “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way side, some fell upon stony places, some fell among thorns, and some fell upon good ground.” Who went out “to sow,” or when went he out, or upon what “thorns,” or “stones” or “way side” or in what field did he sow? If we receive this as a fictitious story, we understand it in a figurative sense; it is fictitious. For if any sower really went out, and did cast the seed in these different places, as we have heard, it were no fiction, and so no falsehood. But now though it be a fiction, yet it is no falsehood. Why? Because the fiction has some further signification, it deceives thee not. It requires only one to understand it, and does not lead any one into error. And thus Christ wishing to convey this lesson to us, sought for fruit, and hereby set forth to us a figurative, and no deceiving fiction; a fiction therefore worthy of praise, not of blame; not one by the examination of which we might run into what was false; but by the diligent investigation of which we might discover what is true.

I see that one may say, Explain to me; what did that signify, that “He made a pretence of going further”? For if it had no further meaning, it is a deceit, a lie. We must then according to our rules of exposition, and distinctions, tell you what this “pretence of going further,” signified; “He made a pretence of going further,” and is kept back from going further. In so far then as the Lord Christ being as they supposed absent in respect of His Bodily presence, was thought to be really absent, He will as it were “go further.” But hold Him fast by faith, hold Him fast at the breaking of Bread. What shall I say more? Have ye recognised Him? If so, then have ye found Christ. I must not speak any longer on this Sacrament. They who put off the knowledge of this Sacrament, Christ goeth further from them. Let them then hold It fast, let them not let Him go; let them invite Him to their home, and so they are invited to heaven.

 
40 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxii. 2', etc., about the marriage of the king’s son; against the Donatists, on charity. Delivered at Carthage in the Restituta.

1. All the faithful know the marriage of the king’s son, and his feast, and the spreading of the Lord’s Table is open to them all who will. But it is of importance to each one to see how he approaches, even when he is not forbidden to approach It. For the Holy Scriptures teach us that there are two feasts of the Lord; one to which the good and evil come, the other to which the evil come not. So then the feast, of which we have just now heard when the Gospel was being read, has both good and evil guests. All who excused themselves from this feast are evil; but not all those who entered in are good. You therefore who are the good guests at this feast do I address, who have in your minds the words, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.” All you who are such do I address, that ye look not for the good without, that ye bear with the evil within.

I do not doubt that ye wish to hear, Beloved, who they are of whom I have spoken in my address, that they should not look for the good without, and should bear with the evil within. If all within are evil, whom do I address? If all within are good, whom did I advise them to bear with being evil? Let me first then with the Lord’s assistance get out of this difficulty as best I can. If you consider good perfectly and strictly speaking, none is good but God Alone. Ye have the Lord saying most plainly, “Why callest thou Me good? there is none Good but One, that is, God.” How then can that marriage feast have good and bad guests, if “none is good but God Alone”? In the first place ye ought to know, that after a certain sort we are all evil. Yes, doubtless after a certain sort are we all evil; but after no sort are we all good. For can we compare ourselves with the Apostles, to whom the Lord Himself said, “If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children?” If we consider the Scriptures, there was but one evil one among the twelve Apostles, with reference to whom the Lord said in a certain place, “And ye are clean, but not all.” But yet in addressing them all together, He said, “If ye being evil.” Peter heard this, John heard this, Andrew heard this, all the rest of the eleven Apostles heard it. What did they hear? “If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” When they heard that they were evil, they were in despair; but when they heard that God in heaven was their Father, they revived. “Ye being evil;” what then is due to the evil, but punishment? “How much more shall your Father which is in heaven?” What is due to children but reward. In the name of “evil” is the dread of punishment; in the name of “children” is the hope of heirs.

According to a certain respect then they were evil, who after another respect were good. For to them to whom it is said, “Ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children;” is added immediately, “How much more shall your Father which is in heaven?” He is then the Father of the evil, but not of those who are to be left so; because He is the Physician of them who are to be cured. According to a certain sort then they were evil. And yet those guests of the Householder at the King’s marriage, were not I suppose of that number of whom it was said, “they invited good and bad,” that they should be reckoned among the number of the bad, who we have heard were shut out in his person who was found not to have a wedding garment. According to a certain respect, I repeat they were bad, who yet were good; and according to a certain respect they were good, who yet were bad. Hear John according to what respect they were bad: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Behold after what respect they were bad: because they had sin. According to what respect were they good? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If then we should say, on the principle of this interpretation which ye have now heard me bring, as I think, out of the sacred Scriptures, viz. that the same men are both after a certain manner, good, and after a certain manner bad; if we should wish to receive according to this sense the words, “they invited good and bad,” the same persons, that is, at once good and bad; if we should wish so to receive them, we are not permitted so to do, by reason of that one who was found “not having a wedding garment,” and who was not merely “cast forth,” so as to be deprived of that feast, but so as to be condemned in the punishment of everlasting darkness.

But one will say, What of one man? what strange, what great matter is it, if one among the crowd “not having a wedding garment” crept in unperceived to the servants of the Householder? Could it be said because of that one, “they invited good and bad”? Attend therefore, my Brethren, and understand. That one man represented one class; for they were many. Here some diligent hearer may answer me, and say, “I have no wish for you to tell me your guesses; I wish to have it proved to me that that one represented many.” By the Lord’s present help, I will prove it clearly; nor will I search far, that I may be able to prove it. God will assist me in His own words in this place, and will furnish you by my ministry with a plain proof of it. “The Master of the house came in to see the guests.” See, my Brethren, the servants’ business was only to invite and bring in the good and bad; see that it is not said, that the servants took notice of the guests, and found among them a man which had not on a wedding garment, and spoke to him. This is not written. The Master of the house saw him, the Master of the house discovered, the Master of the house inspected, the Master of the house separated him out. It was not right to pass over this. But I have undertaken to establish another point, how that that one signifies many. “The Master of the house” then “came in to see the guests, and He found there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” For He who questioned him was One, to whom he could give no feigned reply. The garment that was looked for is in the heart, not on the body; for had it been put on externally, it could not have been concealed even from the servants. Where that wedding garment must be put on, hear in the words, “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness.” Of that garment the Apostle speaks, “If so be that we shall be found clothed, and not naked.” Therefore was he discovered by the Lord, who escaped the notice of the servants. Being questioned, he is speechless: he is bound, cast out, and condemned one by many. I have said, Lord, that Thou teachest us that in this Thou dost give warning to all. Recollect then with me, my Brethren, the words which ye have heard, and ye will at once discover, at once determine, that that one was many. True it was one man whom the Lord questioned, to one He said, “Friend, how camest thou in hither?” It was one who was speechless, and of that same one was it said, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Why? “For many are called, but few chosen.” How can any one gainsay this manifestation of the truth? “Cast him,” He saith, “into outer darkness.” “Him,” that one man assuredly, of whom the Lord saith, “for many are called, but few chosen.” So then it is the few who are not cast out. He was it is true but one man “who had not the wedding garment. Cast him out.” But why is he cast out? “For many are called, but few chosen.” Leave alone the few, cast out the many. It is true, that man was but one. Yet undoubtedly that one not only was many, but those many in numbers far surpassed the number of the good. For the good are many also; but in comparison of the bad, they are few. In the crop there is much wheat; compare it with the chaff, and the grains of corn are few. The same persons considered in themselves are many, in comparison with the bad are few. How do we prove that in themselves they are many? “Many shall come from the East and from the West.” Whither shall they come? To that feast, into which both good and bad enter. But speaking of another feast, He subjoined, “and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” That is the feast to which the bad shall not approach. Be that feast which now is, received worthily, that we may attain to the other. The same then are many, who are also few; in themselves many; in comparison with the bad few. Therefore what saith the Lord? He found one, and said, “Let the many be cast out, the few remain.” For to say, “many are called, but few chosen,” is nothing else than to show plainly who in this present feast are accounted to be such, as to be brought to that other feast, where no bad men shall come.

What is it then? I would not that ye all who approach the Lord’s Table which is in this life, should be with the many who are to be shut out, but with the few who are to be reserved. And how shall ye be able to attain to this? Take “the wedding garment.” Ye will say, “Explain this ‘wedding garment’ to us.” Without a doubt, that is the garment which none but the good have, who are to be left at the feast, reserved unto that other feast to which no bad man approaches, who are to be brought safely thither by the grace of the Lord; these have “the wedding garment.” Let us then, my Brethren, seek for those among the faithful who have something which bad men have not, and this will be “the wedding garment.” If we speak of sacraments, ye see how that these are common to the bad and good. Is it Baptism? Without Baptism it is true no one attaineth to God; but not every one that hath Baptism attaineth to Him. I cannot therefore understand Baptism, the Sacrament itself that is, to be “the wedding garment;” for this garment I see in the good, I see in the bad. Peradventure it is the Altar, or That which is received at the Altar. But no; we see that many eat, and “eat and drink judgment to themselves.” What is it then? Is it fasting? The wicked fast also. Is it running together to the Church? The wicked run thither also. Lastly, is it miracles? Not only do the good and bad perform them, but sometimes the good perform them not. See, among the ancient people Pharaoh’s magicians wrought miracles, the Israelites did not; among the Israelites, Moses only and Aaron wrought them; the rest did not, but saw, and feared, and believed. Were the magicians of Pharaoh who did miracles, better men than the people of Israel who could not do them, and yet that people were the people of God. In the Church itself, hear the Apostle, “Are all prophets? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues?”

What is that “wedding garment” then? This is the wedding garment: “Now the end of the commandment,” says the Apostle, “is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” This is “the wedding garment.” Not charity of any kind whatever; for very often they who are partakers together of an evil conscience seem to love one another. They who commit robberies together, who love the hurtful arts of sorceries, and the stage together, who join together in the shout of the chariot race, or the wild beast fight; these very often love one another; but in these there is no “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. The wedding garment” is such charity as this. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal.” Tongues have come in alone, and it is said to them, “How came ye in hither not having a wedding garment?” “Though,” said he, “I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” See, these are the miracles of men who very often have not “the wedding garment.” “Though,” he says, “I have all these, and have not Christ, I am nothing.” Is then “the gift of prophecy” nothing? is then “the knowledge of mysteries” nothing? It is not that these are nothing; but “I,” if I have them, “and have not charity, am nothing.” How many good things profit nothing without this one good thing! If then I have not charity, though I bestow alms freely upon the poor, though I have come to the confession of Christ’s Name even unto blood and fire, these things may be done even through the love of glory, and so are vain. Because then they may be done even from the love of glory, and so be vain, and not through the rich charity of a godly affection, he names them all also in express terms, and do thou give ear to them; “though I distribute all my goods for the use of the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” This then is “the wedding garment.” Question yourselves; if ye have it, ye may be without fear in the Feast of the Lord. In one and the same man there exist two things, charity and desire. Let charity be born in thee, if it be yet unborn, and if it be born, be it nourished, fostered, increased. But as to that desire, though in this life it cannot be utterly extinguished; “for if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;”  but in so far as desire is in us, so far we are not without sin: let charity increase, desire decrease; that the one, that is, charity, may one day be perfected, and desire be consumed. Put on “the wedding garment:” you I address, who as yet have it not. Ye are already within, already do ye approach to the Feast, and still have ye not yet the garment to do honour to the Bridegroom; “Ye are yet seeking your own things, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”  For “the wedding garment” is taken in honour of the union, the union, that is, of the Bridegroom to the Bride. Ye know the Bridegroom; it is Christ. Ye know the Bride; it is the Church. Pay honour to the Bride, pay honour to the Bridegroom. If ye pay due honour to them both, ye will be their children. Therefore in this make progress. Love the Lord, and so learn to love yourselves; that when by loving the Lord ye shall have loved yourselves, ye may securely love your neighbour as yourselves. For when I find a man that does not love himself, how shall I commit his neighbour whom he should love as himself to him? And who is there, you will say, who does not love himself? Who is there? See, “He that loveth iniquity hateth his own soul.” Does he love himself, who loves his body, and hates his soul to his own hurt, to the hurt of both his body and soul? And who loves his own soul? He that loveth God with all his heart and with all his mind. To such an one I would at once entrust his neighbour. “Love your neighbour as yourselves.”

One may say, “Who is my neighbour?” Every man is your neighbour. Had we not all the same two parents? Animals of every species are neighbours one to the other, the dove to the dove, the leopard to the leopard, the asp to the asp, the sheep to the sheep, and is not man neighbour to man? Call to mind the ordering of the creation. God spake, the waters brought forth swimming creatures, great whales, fish, birds, and such like things. Did all the birds come of one bird? Did all vultures come of one vulture? Did all doves come of one dove? Did all snakes come of one snake? or all gilt-heads of one gilt-head? or all sheep of one sheep? No, the earth assuredly brought forth all these kinds together. But when it came to man, the earth did not bring forth man. One father was made for us; not even two, father and mother: one father, I say, was made for us, not even two, father and mother; but out of the one father came the one mother; the one father came from none, but was made by God, and the one mother came out of him. Mark then the nature of our race: we flowed out of one fountain; and because that one was turned to bitterness, we all became from a good, a wild olive tree. And so grace came also. One begat us unto sin and death, yet as one race, yet as neighbours one to another, yet as not merely like, but related to each other. There came One against one; against the one who scattered, One who gathereth. Thus against the one who slayeth, is the One who maketh alive. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  Now as whosoever is born of the first, dieth; so whosoever believeth in Christ is made alive. Provided, that is, that he have “the wedding garment,” and be invited as one who is to remain, and not to be cast out.

So then, my Brethren, have charity. I have explained it to be this garment, this “wedding garment.” Faith is praised, it is plain, it is praised: but what kind of faith this is, the Apostle distinguishes. For certain who boasted of faith, and had not a good conversation, the Apostle James rebukes and says, “Thou believest there is one God, thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble.” Call to mind with me whereupon Peter was praised, whereupon called blessed. Was it because he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? He who pronounced Him blessed, regarded not the sound of the words, but the affection of the heart. For would ye know that Peter’s blessedness lay not in these words? The devils also said the same. “We know Thee who Thou art, the Son of God.” Peter confessed Him to be “the Son of God;” the devils confessed Him to be “the Son of God.” “Distinguish, my lord, distinguish between the two.” I do make a plain distinction. Peter spake in love, the devils from fear. And again Peter says, “I am with Thee, even unto death.” The devils say, “What have we to do with Thee?” So then thou who art come to the feast, glory not of faith only. Distinguish well the nature of this faith; and then in thee is recognised “the wedding garment.” Let the Apostle make the distinction, let him teach us; “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith.” Tell us, what faith? do not even the devils believe and tremble? I will tell thee, he says, and listen, I will now draw the distinction, “But faith which worketh by love.” What faith, then, and of what kind? “That which worketh by love.” “Though I have all knowledge,” he says, “and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” Have faith with love; for love without faith ye cannot have. This I warn, this I exhort, this in the name of the Lord I teach you, Beloved, that ye have faith with love; for ye may possibly have faith without love. I do not exhort you to have faith, but love. For ye cannot have love without faith; the love I mean of God and your neighbour; whence can it come without faith? How doth he love God, who doth not believe on God? How doth the fool love God, “who saith in his heart, there is no God”? Possible it is that ye may believe that Christ hath come and not love Christ. But it is not possible that ye should love Christ, and yet say that Christ hath not come.

So then, have faith with love. This is the “wedding garment.” Ye who love Christ, love one another, love your friends, love your enemies. Let not this be hard to you. What then do ye lose thereby, when ye gain so much? What? dost thou ask of God as some great favour, that thine enemy may die? This is not “the wedding garment.” Turn thy thoughts to the Bridegroom Himself hanging upon the Cross for thee, and praying to His Father for His enemies; “Father,” saith He, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Thou hast seen the Bridegroom speaking thus; see too the friend of the Bridegroom, a guest “with the wedding garment.” Look at the blessed Stephen, how he rebukes the Jews as though in rage and resentment, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye have resisted the Holy Ghost. Which of the Prophets have not your fathers killed?” Thou hast heard how severe he is with his tongue. And at once thou art prepared to speak against any one; and I would it were against him who offendeth God, and not who offendeth thee. One offendeth God, and thou dost not rebuke him; he offendeth thee, and thou criest out; where is that “wedding garment”? Ye have heard therefore how Stephen was severe; now hear how he loved. He offended those whom he was rebuking, and was stoned by them. And as he was being overwhelmed and bruised to death by the hands of his furious persecutors on every side, and the blows of the stones, he first said, “Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.” Then after he had prayed for himself standing, he bent the knee for them who were stoning him, and said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge; let me die in my body, but let not these die in their souls. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” After these words he added no more; he spake them and departed; his last prayer was for his enemies. Learn ye hereby to have “the wedding garment.” So do thou too bend the knee, and beat thy forehead against the ground, and as thou art about to approach the Table of the Lord, the Feast of the Holy Scriptures, do not say, “O that mine enemy might die! Lord, if I have deserved ought of Thee, slay mine enemy.” Because if so be that thou sayest so, dost thou not fear lest He should answer thee, “If I should choose to slay thine enemy, I should first slay thee. What! dost thou glory because thou hast now come invited hither? Think only what thou wast but a little while ago. Hast thou not blasphemed Me? hast thou not derided Me? didst thou not wish to wipe out My Name from off the earth? Yet now thou dost applaud thyself because thou hast come invited hither! If I had slain thee when thou wast Mine enemy, how could I have made thee My friend? Why, by thy wicked prayers dost thou teach Me to do, what I did not in thine own case?” Yea rather God saith to thee, “Let me teach thee to imitate Me. When I was hanging on the Cross, I said, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ This lesson I taught My brave soldier. Be thou My recruit against the devil. In no other way wilt thou fight at all unconquerably, unless thou dost pray for thine enemies. Yet by all means ask this, yea ask this very thing, ask that thou mayest persecute thine enemy; but ask it with discernment; distinguish well what thou askest. See, a man is thine enemy; answer me, what is it in him which is at enmity with thee? Is it in this, that he is a man, that he is at enmity with thee? No. What then? That he is evil. In that he is a man, in that he is that I made him, he is not at enmity with thee.” He saith to thee, “I did not make man evil; he became evil by disobedience, who obeyed the devil rather than God. What he has made himself, is at enmity with thee; in that he is evil, he is thine enemy; not in that he is a man. For I hear the word “man,” and “evil;” the one is the name of nature, the other of sin; the sin I cure; and the nature I preserve.” And so thy God saith to thee, “See, I do avenge thee, I do slay thine enemy; I take away that which makes him evil, I preserve that which constitutes him a man: now if I shall have made him a good man, have I not slain thine enemy, and made him thy friend?” So ask on what thou art asking, not that the men may perish, but that these their enmities may perish. For if thou pray for this, that the man may die; it is the prayer of one wicked man against another; and when thou dost say, “Slay the wicked one,” God answereth thee, “Which of you?”

Extend your love then, and limit it not to your wives and children. Such love is found even in beasts and sparrows. Ye know the sparrows and the swallows how they love their mates, how together they hatch their eggs, and nourish their young together, by a sort of free and natural kindliness, and with no thought of a return. For the sparrow does not say, “I will nourish my young, that when I am grown old, they may feed me.” He has no such thought; he loves and feeds them, for the love of them; displays the affection of a parent, and looks for no return. And so, I know, I am sure, do ye love your children. “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” Yea upon this plea it is that many of you excuse your covetousness, that ye are getting for your children, and are laying by for them. But I say, extend your love, let this love grow; for to love wives and children, is not yet that “wedding garment.” Have faith to Godward. First love God. Extend yourselves out to God; and whomsoever ye shall be able, draw on to God. There is thine enemy: let him be drawn to God. There is a son, a wife, a servant; let them be all drawn to God. There is a stranger; let him be drawn to God. There is an enemy; let him be drawn to God. Draw, draw on thine enemy; by drawing him on he shall cease to be thine enemy. So let charity be advanced, so be it nourished, that being nourished it may be perfected; so be “the wedding garment” put on; so be the image of God, after which we were created, by this our advancing, engraven anew in us. For by sin was it bruised, and worn away. How is it bruised? how worn away? When it is rubbed against the earth? And what is, “When it is rubbed against the earth”? When it is worn by earthly lusts. For “though man  walketh in this image, yet is he disquieted in vain.” Truth is looked for in God’s image, not vanity. By the love of the truth then be that image, after which we were created, engraven anew, and His Own tribute rendered to our Cæsar. For so ye have heard from the Lord’s answer, when the Jews tempted Him, as He said, “Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites; show Me the tribute money,” that is, the impress and superscription of the image. Show me what ye pay, what ye get ready, what is exacted of you. And “they showed Him a denarius;” and “He asked whose image and superscription it had.” They answered, “Cæsar’s.” So Cæsar looks for his own image. It is not Cæsar’s will that what he ordered to be made should be lost to him, and it is not surely God’s will that what He hath made should be lost to Him. Cæsar, my Brethren, did not make the money; the masters of the mint make it; the workmen have their orders, he issues his commands to his ministers. His image was stamped upon the money; on the money was Cæsar’s image. And yet he requires what others have stamped; he puts it in his treasures; he will not have it refused him. Christ’s coin is man. In him is Christ’s image, in him Christ’s Name, Christ’s gifts, Christ’s rules of duty.

 
41 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxii. 42', where the Lord asks the Jews whose son they said David was.

1. When the Jews were asked (as we have just now heard out of the Gospel when it was being read), how our Lord Jesus Christ, whom David himself called his Lord was David’s Son, they were not able to answer. For what they saw in the Lord, that they knew. For He appeared to them as the Son of man; but as the Son of God He was hidden. Hence it was, that they believed that He could be overcome, and that they derided Him as He hung upon the Tree, saying, “If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross, and we will believe on Him.” They saw one part of what He was, they knew not the other, “For had they known Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Yet they knew that the Christ was to be the Son of David. For even now they hope that He will come. They know not that He is come already, but this their ignorance is voluntary. For even if they did not acknowledge Him on the tree, they ought not to have failed to acknowledge Him on His Throne. For in whose Name are all nations called and blessed, but in His whom they think not to have been the Christ? For this Son of David, that is, “of the seed of David according to the flesh,” is the Son of Abraham. Now if it was said to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed;” and they see now that in our Christ are all nations blessed, why wait they for what is already come, and fear not that which is yet to come? for our Lord Jesus Christ, making use of a prophetic testimony to assert His authority, called Himself “the Stone.” Yea such a stone, “that whosoever shall stumble against it shall be shaken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.” For when this stone is stumbled against, it lieth low; by lying low, it “shaketh” him that stumbleth against it; being lifted on high, by its coming down it “grindeth” the proud “to powder.” Already therefore are the Jews “shaken” by that stumbling; it yet remains that by His Glorious Advent they should be “ground to powder” also, unless peradventure whilst they are yet alive, they acknowledge Him that they die not. For God is patient, and inviteth them day by day to the Faith.

But when the Jews could not answer the Lord proposing a question, and asking “whose Son they said Christ was;” and they answered, “the Son of David;” He goes on with the further question put to them, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand till I make Thine enemies My footstool. If David then,” He saith, “in spirit call Him Lord, how is He his Son?” He did not say, “He is not his Son, but how is He his son?” When he saith “How,” it is a word not of negation, but of enquiry; as though He should say to them, “Ye say well indeed that Christ is David’s Son, but David himself doth call Him Lord; whom he then calleth Lord, how is He his Son?” Had the Jews been instructed in the Christian faith, which we hold; had they not closed their hearts against the Gospel, had they wished to have spiritual life in them, they would, as instructed in the faith of the Church, have made answer to this question and said, “Because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God:” see how He is David’s Lord. But because “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;” see how He is David’s Son. But as being ignorant, they were silent, nor when they shut their mouths did they open their ears, that what they could not answer when questioned, they might after instruction know.

But seeing that is a great thing to know the mystery how He is David’s Son and David’s Lord: how one Person is both Man and God; how in the form of Man He is less than the Father, in the form of God equal with the Father; how again He saith, on the one hand, “The Father is greater than I;” and on the other, “I and My Father are one;” seeing this is a great mystery, our conduct must be fashioned, that it may be comprehended. For to the unworthy is it closed up, it is opened to those who are meet for it. It is not with stones, or clubs, or the fist, or the heel, that we knock unto the Lord. It is the life which knocks, it is to the life that it is opened. The seeking is with the heart, the asking is with the heart, the knocking is with the heart, the opening is to the heart. Now that heart which asks rightly, and knocks and seeks rightly, must be godly. Must first love God for His Own sake (for this is godliness); and not propose to itself any reward which it looks for from Him other than God Himself. For than Him is there nothing better. And what precious thing can he ask of God, in whose sight God Himself is lightly esteemed? He giveth earth, and thou rejoicest, thou lover of the earth, who art thyself become earth. If when He giveth earthly goods, thou dost rejoice, how much more oughtest thou to rejoice when He giveth thee Himself, who made heaven and earth? So then God must be loved for His own sake. For the Devil not knowing what was passing in the heart of holy Job, brought this as a great charge against him, saying, “Doth Job worship God for His Own sake.”

So then if the adversary brought this charge, we ought to fear lest it be brought against us. For with a very slanderous accuser have we to deal. If he seek to invent what is not, how much more will he seek to object what really is. Nevertheless let us rejoice, that ours is such a Judge, as cannot be deceived by our accuser. For if we had a man for our judge, the enemy might invent for him what he would. For none is more subtle in invention than the devil. For he it is who at this time also invents all false accusations against the saints. He knows his accusations can have no avail with God, and so He scatters them among men. Yet what does this profit him, seeing the Apostle says, “Our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience?” Yet think ye that he does not invent these false charges with aught of subtlety? Yes, well he knows what evil he shall work thereby, if the watchfulness of faith resist him not. For for this reason scatters he his evil charges against the good, that the weak may think that there are no good, and so may give themselves up to be hurried along, and made a prey of by their lusts, whilst they say within themselves, “For who is there that keeps the commandments of God, or who is there that preserves chastity?” and whilst he thinks that no one does, he himself becomes that no one. This then is the devil’s art. But such a man was Job, that he could not invent any such charge against him; for his life was too well known and manifest. But because he had great riches, he brought that against him, which if it had any existence, might lie in the heart, and not appear in the conduct. He worshipped God, he gave alms; and with what heart he did this none knew, no not the Devil himself; but God had known. God giveth His testimony to His own servant; the Devil calumniates the servant of God. He is allowed to be tried, Job is proved, the Devil is confounded. Job is found to worship God for His Own sake, to love Him for His Own sake; not because He gave him ought, but because He did not take away Himself. For he said, “The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; as it seemed good to the Lord, so is it done, blessed be the Name of the Lord.”  The fire of temptation approached him; but it found him gold, not stubble; it cleared away the dross from it, but did not reduce it to ashes.

Because then, in order to understand the mystery of God, how Christ is both man and God, the heart must be cleansed: and it is cleansed by a good conversation, by a pure life, by chastity, and sanctity, and love, and by “faith, which worketh by love” (now all this that I am speaking of, is, as it were, the tree which hath its root in the heart; for it is only from the root of the heart that actions proceed; in which if thou plant desire, thorns spring forth; if thou plant charity, good fruit): the Lord, after that question which He had proposed to the Jews, when they were not able to answer it, immediately went on to speak of good actions, that He might show why they were unworthy to understand what He asked them. For when those proud and wretched men were not able to answer, they ought of course to have said, “we do not know; Master, tell us.” But no: they were speechless at the proposing of the question, and they opened not their mouth to seek instruction. And so the Lord in reference to their pride said immediately, “Beware of the Scribes which love the chief seats in the synagogues, and the first rooms at feasts.” Not because they hold them, but because they love them. For in these words he accused their heart. Now none can accuse the heart, but He who can inspect it. For meet it is that to the servant of God, who holds some post of honour in the Church, the first place should be assigned; because if it were not given him, it were evil for him who refuses to give it; but yet it is no good to him to whom it is given. It is meet and right then that in the congregation of Christians their Prelates should sit in eminent place, that by their very seat they may be distinguished, and that their office may be duly marked; yet not so that they should be puffed up for their seat; but that they should esteem it a burden, for which they are to render an account. But who knows whether they love this, or do not love it? This is a matter of the heart, it can have no other judge but God. Now the Lord Himself warned His disciples, that they should not fall into this leaven; as He calls it in another place, “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” And when they supposed that He said this to them because they had brought no bread; He answered them, “Have ye forgotten how many thousands were filled with the five loaves? Then understood they,” it is said, “that He called their doctrine leaven.” For these present temporal good things they loved, but they neither feared the evil things eternal, nor loved the good things eternal. And so their hearts being closed, they could not understand what the Lord asked them.

But what then has the Church of God to do, that it may be able to understand what it has first obtained grace to believe? It must make the mind capacious for receiving what shall be given it. And that this may be done, that the mind, that is, may be capacious, our Lord God suspends His promises, He has not taken them away. Therefore does He suspend them, that we may stretch out ourselves; and therefore do we stretch ourselves out, that we may grow; and therefore do we grow, that we may reach them. Behold the Apostle Paul stretching himself out unto these suspended promises: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind, and stretching forth unto those things which are before, I press earnestly toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He was running on the earth; the prize hung suspended from heaven. He ran then on the earth; but in spirit he ascended. Behold him thus stretching himself out, behold him hanging forth after the suspended prize. “I press on,” he says, “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

We must journey on then, yet for this no need of anointing the feet, or looking out for beasts, or providing a vessel. Run with the heart’s affection, journey on with love, ascend by charity. Why seekest thou for the way? Cleave unto Christ, who by Descending and Ascending hath made Himself the Way. Dost thou wish to ascend? Hold fast to Him that ascendeth. For by thine own self thou canst not rise. “For no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.” If no one ascendeth but He that descended, that is, the Son of Man, our Lord Jesus, dost thou wish to ascend also? Be then a member of Him who Only hath ascended. For He the Head, with all the members, is but One Man. And since no one can ascend, but he who in His Body is made a member of Him; that is fulfilled, “that no man hath ascended, but He that descended.” For thou canst not say, “Lo, why hath Peter, for instance, ascended, why hath Paul ascended, why have the Apostles ascended, if no one hath ascended, but He that descended?” The answer to this is, “What do Peter, and Paul, and the rest of the Apostles, and all the faithful, what do they hear from the Apostle? ‘Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.’ If then the Body of Christ and His members belong to One, do not thou make two of them. For He left ‘father and mother, and clave to his wife, that two might be one flesh.’ He left His Father, in that here He did not show Himself as equal with the Father; but ‘emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.’ He left His mother also, the synagogue of which He was born after the flesh. He clave to His Wife, that is, to His Church. Now in the place where Christ Himself brought forward this testimony, He showed that the marriage bond might not be dissolved: ‘Have ye not read,’ said He, ‘that God which made them at the beginning, made them male and female; and said, They twain shall be in one flesh? What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’  And what is the meaning of ‘They twain shall be in one flesh’? He goes on to say; ‘Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh.’ Thus ‘no man hath ascended, but He that descended.’”

For that ye may know, that the Bridegroom and the Bride are One according to the Flesh of Christ, not according to His Divinity (for according to His Divinity we cannot be what He is; seeing that He is the Creator, we the creature; He the Maker, we His work; He the Framer, we framed by Him; but in order that we might be one with Him in Him, He vouchsafed to be our Head, by taking of us flesh wherein to die for us); that ye may know then that this whole is One Christ, He said by Isaiah, “He hath bound a mitre on me as a bridegroom, and clothed me with ornaments as a bride.” He is then at once the Bridegroom and the Bride. That is, the Bridegroom in Himself as the Head, the Bride in the body. “For they twain,” saith He, “shall be in one flesh; so now they are no more twain, but one flesh.”

Seeing then that we are of His members, in order that we may understand this mystery as I have said, Brethren, let us live holily, let us love God for His Own sake. Now He who showeth to us while in our pilgrimage the form of a servant, reserveth for those that reach their country the form of God. With the form of a servant hath He laid down the way, with the form of God He hath prepared the home. Seeing then that it is a hard matter for us to comprehend this, but no hard matter to believe it; for Isaiah says, “Unless ye believe ye shall not understand;” let us “walk by faith as long as we are in pilgrimage from the Lord, till we come to sight where we shall see face to face.” As walking by faith, let us do good works. In these good works, let there be a free love of God for His Own sake, and an active love of our neighbour. For we have nothing we can do for God; but because we have something we may do for our neighbour, we shall by our good offices to the needy, gain His favour who is the source of all abundance. Let every one then do what he can for others; let him freely bestow upon the needy of his superfluity. One has money; let him feed the poor, let him clothe the naked, let him build a church, let him do with his money all the good he can. Another has good counsel; let him guide his neighbour, let him by the light of holiness drive away the darkness of doubting. Another has learning; let him draw out of this store of the Lord, let him minister food to his fellow-servants, strengthen the faithful, recall the wandering, seek the lost, do all the good he can. Something there is, which even the poor may deal out to one another; let one lend feet to the lame, another give his own eyes to guide the blind; another visit the sick, another bury the dead. These are things which all may do, so that in a word it would be hard to find one who has not some means of doing good to others. And last of all comes that important duty which the Apostle speaks of; “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so shall ye fulfil the law of Christ.”

 
42 Same words of the Gospel, Matt. xxii.

1. The question which was proposed to the Jews, Christians ought to solve. For the Lord Jesus Christ, who proposed it to the Jews, did not solve it Himself, to the Jews, I mean, He did not, but to us He hath solved it. I will put you in remembrance, Beloved, and ye will find that He hath solved it. But first consider the knot of the question. He asked the Jews what they “thought of Christ, whose Son He was to be;” for they too look for the Christ. They read of Him in the Prophets, they expected Him to come, when He was come they killed Him; for where they read that Christ would come, there did they read that they should kill Christ. But His future coming they hoped for in the Prophets; for they did not see their future crime. He therefore so questioned them about the Christ, not as if about One who was unknown to them, or whose Name they had never heard, or whose coming they had never hoped for. For they err in that even yet they hope for Him. And we indeed hope for Him too; but we hope for Him as One who is to come as Judge, not to be judged. For the Holy Prophets prophesied both, that He should come first to be judged unrighteously, that He should come afterwards to judge with righteousness. “What think ye,” then, saith he, “of Christ? whose Son is He? They answered Him, The Son of David.” And this was entirely according to the Scriptures. But He said, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. If David then in spirit call Him Lord, how is He his Son?”

Here then is need of a caution, lest Christ be thought to have denied that He was the Son of David. He did not deny that He was the Son of David, but He enquired the way. “Ye have said that Christ is the Son of David, I do not deny it; but David calls Him Lord; tell me how is He his Son, who is also his Lord; tell me how?” They did not tell Him, but were silent. Let us then tell by the explanation of Christ Himself. Where? By His Apostle. But first, whereby do we prove that Christ hath Himself explained it? The Apostle says, “Would ye receive a proof of Christ who speaketh in me?” So then in the Apostle hath He vouchsafed to solve this question. In the first place, what said Christ speaking by the Apostle to Timothy? “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my Gospel.” See, Christ is the Son of David. How is He also David’s Lord? Tell us, O Apostle: “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Acknowledge David’s Lord. If thou acknowledge David’s Lord, our Lord, the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord of the Angels, equal with God, in the form of God, how is He David’s Son? Mark what follows. The Apostle shows thee David’s Lord by saying, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” And how is He David’s Son? “But He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him.” Christ “of the seed of David,” the Son of David, rose again because “He emptied Himself.” How did He “empty Himself”? By taking that which He was not, not by losing that which He was. He “emptied Himself,” He “humbled himself.” Though He was God, He appeared as man. He was despised as He walked on earth, He who made the heaven. He was despised as though a mere man, as though of no power. Yea, not despised only, but slain moreover. He was that stone that lay on the ground, the Jews stumbled against it, and were shaken. And what doth He Himself say? “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be shaken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.” First, He lay low, and they stumbled against Him; He shall come from above, and He will “grind” them that have been shaken “to powder.”

Thus have ye heard that Christ is both David’s Son, and David’s Lord: David’s Lord always, David’s Son in time: David’s Lord, born of the substance of His Father, David’s Son, born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Ghost. Let us hold fast both. The one of them will be our eternal habitation, the other is our deliverance from our present exile. For unless our Lord Jesus Christ had vouchsafed to become man, man had perished. He was made that which He made, that what He made might not perish. Very Man, Very God; God and man whole Christ. This is the Catholic faith. Whoso denieth that Christ is God is a Photinian; whoso denieth that Christ is man is a Manichæan. Whoso confesseth that Christ is God equal with the Father and very man, that He truly suffered, truly shed His blood (for the Truth would not have set us free, if He had given a false price for us); whoso confesseth both, is a Catholic. He hath the country, he hath the way. He hath the country, “In the beginning was the Word;” He hath the country, “Being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” He hath the way, “The Word was made flesh;” He hath the way, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.” He is the home whither we are going, He is the way whereby we go. Let us by Him go unto Him, and we shall not go astray.

 
43 Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxv. 1', “then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.”

1. Ye who were present yesterday remember my promise; which with the Lord’s assistance is to be made good to-day, not to you only, but to the many others also who have come together. It is no easy question, who the ten virgins are, of whom five are wise, and five foolish. Nevertheless, according to the context of this passage which I have wished should be read again to you to-day, Beloved, I do not think, as far as the Lord vouchsafes to give me understanding, that this parable or similitude relates to those women only who by a peculiar and more excellent sanctity are called Virgins in the Church, whom by a more usual term we are wont also to call, “The Religious;” but if I mistake not this parable relates to the whole Church. But though we should understand it of those only who are called “the Religious,” are they but ten? God forbid that so great a company of virgins should be reduced to so small a number! But perhaps one may say, “But what if though they be so many in outward profession, yet in truth they are so few, that scarce ten can be found!” It is not so. For if he had meant that the good virgins only should be understood by the ten, He would not have represented five foolish ones among them. For if this is the number of the virgins which are called, why are the doors of the great house shut against five?

So then let us understand, dearly Beloved, that this parable relates to us all, that is, to the whole Church together, not to the Clergy only of whom we spoke yesterday; nor to the laity only; but generally to all. Why then are the Virgins five and five? These five and five virgins are all Christian souls together. But that I may tell you what by the Lord’s inspiration I think, it is not souls of every sort, but such souls as have the Catholic faith, and seem to have good works in the Church of God; and yet even of them, “five are wise, and five are foolish.” First then let us see why they are called “five,” and why “virgins,” and then let us consider the rest. Every soul in the body is therefore denoted by the number five, because it makes use of five senses. For there is nothing of which we have perception by the body, but by the five folded gate, either by the sight, or the hearing, or the smelling, or the tasting, or the touching. Whoso then abstaineth from unlawful seeing, unlawful hearing, unlawful smelling, unlawful tasting, and unlawful touching, by reason of his uncorruptness hath gotten the name of virgin.

But if it be good to abstain from the unlawful excitements of the senses, and on that account every Christian soul has gotten the name of virgin; why are five admitted and five rejected? They are both virgins, and yet are rejected. It is not enough that they are virgins; and that they have lamps. They are virgins, by reason of abstinence from unlawful indulgence of the senses; they have lamps, by reason of good works. Of which good works the Lord saith, “Let your works shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Again He saith to His disciples, “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning.” In the “girded loins” is virginity; in the “burning lamps” good works.

The title of virginity is not usually applied to married persons: yet even in them there is a virginity of faith, which produces wedded chastity. For that you may know, Holy Brethren, that every one, every soul, as touching the soul, and that uncorruptness of faith by which abstinence from things unlawful is practised, and by which good works are done, is not unsuitably called “a virgin;” the whole Church which consists of virgins, and boys, and married men and married women, is by one name called a Virgin. Whence prove we this? Hear the Apostle saying, not to the religious women only but to the whole Church together; “I have espoused you to One Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” And because the devil, the corrupter of this virginity, is to be guarded against, after the Apostle had said, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ;” he subjoined, “But I fear, lest as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Few have virginity in the body; in the heart all ought to have it. If then abstinence from what is unlawful be good, whereby it has received the name of virginity, and good works are praiseworthy, which are signified by the lamps; why are five admitted and five rejected? If there be a virgin, and one who carries lamps, who yet is not admitted; where shall he see himself, who neither preserveth a virginity from things unlawful, and who not wishing to have good works walketh in darkness?

Of these then, my Brethren, yea, of these let us the rather treat. He who will not see what is evil, he who will not hear what is evil, he that turneth away his smell from the unlawful fumes, and his taste from the unlawful food of the sacrifices, he who refuseth the embrace of another man’s wife, breaketh his bread to the hungry, bringeth the stranger into his house, clotheth the naked, reconcileth the litigious, visiteth the sick, burieth the dead; he surely is a virgin, surely he hath lamps. What seek we more? Something yet I seek. What seekest thou yet, one will say? Something yet I seek; the Holy Gospel hath set me on the search. It hath said that even of these, virgins, and carrying lamps, some are wise and some foolish. By what do we see this? By what make the distinction? By the oil. Some great, some exceedingly great thing doth this oil signify. Thinkest thou that it is not charity? This we say as searching out what it is; we hazard no precipitate judgment. I will tell you why charity seems to be signified by the oil. The Apostle says, “I show unto you a way above the rest.” Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” This, that is “charity,” is “that way above the rest,” which is with good reason signified by the oil. For oil swims above all liquids. Pour in water, and pour in oil upon it, the oil will swim above. Pour in oil, pour in water upon it, the oil will swim above. If you keep the usual order, it will be uppermost; if you change the order, it will be uppermost. “Charity never falleth.”

What is it then, Brethren? Let us treat now of the five wise and the five foolish virgins. They wished to go to meet the Bridegroom. What is the meaning of “to go and meet the Bridegroom”? To go with the heart, to be waiting for his coming. But he tarried. “While he tarries, they all slept.” What is “all”? Both the foolish and the wise, “all slumbered and slept.” Think we is this sleep good? What is this sleep? Is it that at the tarrying of the Bridegroom, “because iniquity aboundeth, the love of many waxeth cold”? Are we to understand this sleep so? I like it not. I will tell you why. Because among them are the wise virgins; and certainly when the Lord said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;” He went on to say, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Where would ye have those wise virgins be? Are they not among those that “shall endure unto the end”? They would not be admitted within at all, Brethren, for any other reason, than because they have “endured unto the end.” No coldness of love then crept over them, in them love did not wax cold; but preserves its glow even unto the end. And because it glows even unto the end, therefore are the gates of the Bridegroom opened to them; therefore are they told to enter in, as that excellent servant, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” What then is the meaning of they “all slept”? There is another sleep which no one escapes. Remember ye not the Apostle saying, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,” that is, concerning them which are dead? For why are they called “they which are asleep,” but because they are in their own day? Therefore “they all slept.” Thinkest thou that because one is wise, he has not therefore to die? Be the virgin foolish, or be she wise, all suffer equally the sleep of death.

But men continually say to themselves, “Lo, the day of judgment is coming now, so many evils are happening, so many tribulations thicken; behold all things which the Prophets have spoken, are well-nigh fulfilled; the day of judgment is already at hand.” They who speak thus, and speak in faith, go out as it were with such thoughts to “meet the Bridegroom.” But, lo! war upon war, tribulation upon tribulation, earthquake upon earthquake, famine upon famine, nation against nation, and still the Bridegroom comes not yet. Whilst then He is expected to come, all they who are saying, “Lo, He is coming, and the Day of Judgment will find us here,” fall asleep. Whilst they are saying this, they fall asleep. Let each one then have an eye to this his sleep, and persevere even unto his sleep in love; let sleep find him so waiting. For suppose that he has fallen asleep. “Will not He who falls asleep afterwards rise again?”  Therefore “they all slept;” both of the wise and the foolish virgins in the parable, it is said, “they all slept.”

“Lo, at midnight there was a cry made.” What is, “at midnight”? When there is no expectation, no belief at all of it. Night is put for ignorance. A man makes as it were a calculation with himself: “Lo, so many years have passed since Adam, and the six thousand years are being completed, and then immediately according to the computation of certain expositors, the Day of Judgment will come;” yet these calculations come and pass away, and still the coming of the Bridegroom is delayed, and the virgins who had gone to meet him sleep. And, lo, when He is not looked for, when men are saying, “The six thousand years were waited for, and, lo, t