St. Chrysostom 349 - 407 58:
Homilies on Acts & Romans
1 About Me 8
2 Education
3 Philosophy
4 Politics
5 News
6 Travel
7 Sports
8 Funding
 
2 Romans 32 809.1 0
 
Page Data
Menu 1 .38 :19
Menu 2 4,071 16.3 13:35
Total 457,369 1,830 25:25
Menu-Body 4% 1/25
Chapters 87
Pages per chapter 21 17:31
1 Acts of the Apostles 55
Introduction 1.2 1
1 Acts 2 “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day on which, having given charge to the Apostles, whom He had chosen, by the Holy Spirit, He was taken up.”  31.2 26
2 Acts 6  “When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”  19.2 16
3 Acts “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.” 23.5 19:35
4  Acts 2. 2 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven.” 18.5 15:25
5 Acts 2. “Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.” 17.3 14:25
6 Acts 2. 22 “Ye men of Israel, hear these my words.”  18.9 15:45
7 Acts 2. 37 “Now when they heard these words (E.V. ‘this,’) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 18.5 15:25
8 Acts 3. 1 “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” 15 12:30
9 Acts 3. “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we have made this man to walk?” 27.5 22:55 
10 Acts 4. 1 “And as they spake unto the people, there came unto them the priests, and the captain of the temple.” 21.9 18:15
11 Acts 4. 23 “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.” 16.9 14:05
12 Acts 4. 36, 37 And Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation), a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.” 15 12:30
13 Acts 5. 17, “Then having risen up, the high-priest and they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the Apostles, and put them in the common prison.” 19.9 16:35
14 Acts 5. 34 “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded the men to be put forth a little space.” 20.7 17:15
15 Acts 6. 8 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” 19.8 16:30
16 Acts 7. 6, 7 “And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve Me in this place.”  19.9 16:35
17  Acts 7. 35 “This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel which appeared to him in the bush.” 17.5 14:35
18 Acts 7. 54 “When they heard these things, they were cut to “the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” 22.3 18:35
19 Acts 8. 26, 27 “And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went.”  22.2 18:30
20 Acts 9. 10, “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” 16 13:20
21 Acts 9. 26, 27 “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way.” 20 16:40
22 Acts 10. 1–4 “There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”  16.3 13:35
23 Acts 10. 23, 24 “Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.” 20 16:40
24 Acts 10. 44, 46 “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” 20.6 17:10
25 Acts 1“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that rose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” 16.4 13:40
26 Acts 12. 2 “Now at that time Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. Then were the days of unleavened bread.” 17.3 14:25
27  Acts 12. 18, “Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Cæsarea, and there abode.” 14.3 11:55
28 Acts 13. 4, 5 “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.” 12 10
29 Acts 13. 16, “Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought He them out of it.” 20.5 17:05
30 Acts 13. 42 “And as they were going out (text rec. ‘from the syn. of the Jews,’) they besought (the Gentiles) that these words might be spoken unto them on the following sabbath.”  18.4 15:20
31  Acts 14. 14, “Which when the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.”  18.3 15:15
32 Acts 15. 1 “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” 13 10:50
33 Acts 15. 13, “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets.” 18.3 15:15
34  Acts 15. 35 “Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” 19.9 16:35
35 Acts 16. 13, “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont (Chrys. “was thought likely”) to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” 13.2 11
36 Acts 16. 25, 26 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” 14.3 11:55
37 Acts 17. 2, 3 “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” 14 11:40
38 Acts 17. 16, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.” 20.8 17:20
39 Acts 17. 32–34, 18. 1 “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth.” 16.3 13:35
40 Acts 18. “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.” 15.2 12:40
41 Acts 14. 8, 9 “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.”  22 18:20
42 Acts 14. 223 “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about the Way.”  17.4 14:30
43 Acts 20. 1 “And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.”  12.1 10:05
44 Acts 20. 17–21 “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the Church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” 16.9 14:05
45 Acts 20. 32 “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.” 18.8 15:40
46 Acts 218, “And the day following Paul went in with us unto James: and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.” 12.9 10:45
47 Acts 239, 40 “But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying.” 15.9 13:15
48 Acts 22. 17–20 “And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” 14.4 12
49  Acts 28. 6–8 “But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” 16.1 13:15
50 Acts 28. 332, 33 “Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: who, when they came to Cæsarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.”  19.3 16:05
51 Acts 24. 22, 23 “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them and said, When Lysias the tribune shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.”  19 0
52 Acts 25. 23 "And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.” 21.5 0
53 Acts 26. 30–32 “And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: and when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar.” 17.2 15:50
54 Acts 28. 1 “And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.” 14.7 12:15
55 Acts 28. 17–20 “And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had aught to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” 12 10
2 Epistle to Romans 32
Preface & Argument 14.2 11:50
1  Rom. 2 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, (which He promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.)” 16.3 13:35
2 Rom. 8 “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”  27.2 22:40
3 Rom. “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness.” 15.8 13:10
4 Rom. 26, 27 “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one towards another.” 13.5 11:15
5  Rom. 28 “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” 29.6 24:40
6 Rom. 2. 17, 18 “Behold,thou art called a Jew, and restest in the Law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the Law.” 24.1 20:05
7 Rom. 3. 9–“What then have we more than they?For we have proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues have they used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.” 36.8 30:05
8 Rom. 4. 2 “What shall we then say that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” 34.9 29:05
9 Rom. 4. 23 “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him for righteousness; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” 20.4 17
10 Rom. 5. “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon (διἥλθεν6 mss. εἴς…) all men, for that all have sinned.”  25.3 21:05
11 Rom. 6. 5 “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” 28.8 24
12 Rom. 6. “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members (so 4 mss. Sav. the members of your flesh) servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” 38.8 32:20
13 Rom. 7. “For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” 46.2 38:30
14 Rom. 8. 12, “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” 46 38:20
15 Rom. 8. 28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” 23.4 19:30
16 Rom. 9. 1 “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” 45.7 38:05
17 Rom. 10. 1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is, that they might be saved.” 22 18:20
18 Homily 18. “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? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent? as it is written.” 29.5 24:35
19 Rom. 17 “What then? Israel hath not obtained that, which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded.”  33.9 28:15
20 Rom. 12. 1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” 17.7 14:45
21 Rom. 12. 4, 5 “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” 18.8 15:40
22 Rom. 12. “ Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not.” 15.8 13:10
23 Rom. 13. 1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” 20.9 17:25
24 Rom. 13. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” 16.1 13:25
25 Rom. 14. 2 “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things; another, who is weak, eateth herbs.” 25.2 21
26 Rom. 14. “I know, and am persuaded by (Gr. in) the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself, but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” 17.4 14:30
27 Rom. 14. 25–27 “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and (mss. τεwhich Sav. omits) by the Scriptures of the Prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, to Him be glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” 15.5 12:55
28 Rom. 15. 8 “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” 12.2 10:10
29 Rom. 15. “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” (So most: S. Chrys. “others.”) 19.8 16:30
30 Rom. 16. 5 “Salute my well-beloved Epenetus, who is the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ.”  21.2 17:40
31 Rom. 16. 5 “Salute my well-beloved Epenetus, who is the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ.” 21.2 0
32 Rom. 16. 17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” 15.2 12:40
1 Acts of the Apostles
1 - Introduction

The present volume of St. Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles has been delayed for some time by the difficulty of fixing the Text. Some farther account of the grounds on which this has been done will be given in the Preface to Part 2. (vid. infra.) It may suffice for the present to say, that these Homilies appear to have been less carefully reported than usual, and published without a revision by the Author. The printed text was formed for the most part (Erasmus’s Latin Version entirely) from a manuscript, said to be of the tenth century, in which these Homilies are given in a very different form, evidently the work of a later hand, and intended to make them read more smoothly. The earlier text, shown to be such by internal evidence, and alone followed in the Catena and all other ancient extracts and compilations, is preserved in other mss. and appears to have been in general disregarded by former editors, from its difficulty. The Translation was originally made from Savile’s Text, by the Rev. J. Walker, M.A. of Brasenose College, and the Rev. J. Sheppard, M.A. of Oriel College, Oxford. The Editors are much indebted to the Rev. H. Browne, M.A. of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who has restored the Text and corrected the Translation accordingly, the difference being frequently so great as to require a passage to be translated anew. He has likewise undertaken to prepare the Greek Text for publication, and to supply the prefatory matter. Many passages will still be found imperfect and unsatisfactory, but it has been thought better to leave them evidently so, than to resort to uncertain conjectures. A few conjectural emendations, however, have been admitted into the Text, and many more suggested.

C. Marriott.

Oxford, Feast of St. James. 1851.

 
1 - 1 Acts 2 “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day on which, having given charge to the Apostles, whom He had chosen, by the Holy Spirit, He was taken up.”

To many persons this Book is so little known, both it and its author, that they are not even aware that there is such a book in existence. For this reason especially I have taken this narrative for my subject, that I may draw to it such as do not know it, and not let such a treasure as this remain hidden out of sight. For indeed it may profit us no less than even the Gospels; so replete is it with Christian wisdom and sound doctrine, especially in what is said concerning the Holy Ghost. Then let us not hastily pass by it, but examine it closely. Thus, the predictions which in the Gospels Christ utters, here we may see these actually come to pass; and note in the very facts the bright evidence of Truth which shines in them, and the mighty change which is taking place in the disciples now that the Spirit has come upon them. For example, they heard Christ say, “Whoso believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14. and again, when He foretold to the disciples, that they should be brought before rulers and kings, and in their synagogues they should scourge them, and that they should suffer grievous things, and overcome all (Matt. 10. 18): and that the Gospel should be preached in all the world (Ib. 24. now all this, how it came to pass exactly as it was said, may be seen in this Book, and more besides, which He told them while yet with them. Here again you will see the Apostles themselves, speeding their way as on wings over land and sea; and those same men, once so timorous and void of understanding, on the sudden become quite other than they were; men despising wealth, and raised above glory and passion and concupiscence, and in short all such affections: moreover, what unanimity there is among them now; nowhere any envying as there was before, nor any of the old hankering after the preeminence, but all virtue brought in them to its last finish, and shining through all, with surpassing lustre, that charity, concerning which the Lord had given so many charges saying, “In this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another.” (John 13. 35.) And then, besides, there are doctrines to be found here, which we could not have known so surely as we now do, if this Book had not existed, but the very crowning point of our salvation would be hidden, alike for practice of life and for doctrine.

The greater part, however, of this work is occupied with the acts of Paul, who “laboured more abundantly than they all.” (1 Cor. 15. 10.) And the reason is, that the author of this Book, that is, the blessed Luke, was his companion: a man, whose high qualities, sufficiently visible in many other instances, are especially shown in his firm adherence to his Teacher, whom he constantly followed. Thus at a time when all had forsaken him, one gone into Galatia, another into Dalmatia, hear what he says of this disciple: “Only Luke is with me.” (2 Tim. 4. 10.) And giving the Corinthians a charge concerning him, he says, “Whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches.” (2 Cor. 8. 18.) Again, when he says, “He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve,” and, “according to the Gospel which ye received” (1 Cor. 15. 5, , he means the Gospel of this Luke. So that there can be no mistake in attributing this work to him: and when I say, to him, I mean, to Christ. And why then did he not relate every thing, seeing he was with Paul to the end? We may answer, that what is here written, was sufficient for those who would attend, and that the sacred writers ever addressed themselves to the matter of immediate importance, whatever it might be at the time: it was no object with them to be writers of books: in fact, there are many things which they have delivered by unwritten tradition. Now while all that is contained in this Book is worthy of admiration, so is especially the way the Apostles have of coming down to the wants of their hearers: a condescension suggested by the Spirit who has so ordered it, that the subject on which they chiefly dwell is that which pertains to Christ as man. For so it is, that while they discourse so much about Christ, they have spoken but little concerning His Godhead; it was mostly of the Manhood that they discoursed, and of the Passion, and the Resurrection, and the Ascension. For the thing required in the first instance was this, that it should be believed that He was risen, and ascended into heaven. As then the point on which Christ himself most insisted was, to have it known that He was come from the Father, so is it this writer’s principal object to declare, that Christ was risen from the dead, and was received up into Heaven, and that He went to God, and came from God. For, if the fact of His coming from God were not first believed, much more, with the Resurrection and Ascension added thereto, would the Jews have found the entire doctrine incredible. Wherefore gently and by degrees he leads them on to higher truths. Nay, at Athens Paul even calls Him man simply, without saying more (Acts 17. 3. For if, when Christ Himself spoke of His equality with the Father, they often attempted to stone Him, and called Him a blasphemer for this reason, it was little to be expected that they would receive this doctrine from the fishermen, and that too, with the Cross coming before it.

But why speak of the Jews, seeing that even the disciples often upon hearing the more sublime doctrines were troubled and offended? Therefore also He told them, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16. 12.) If those could not, who had been so long time with Him, and had been admitted to so many secrets, and had seen so many wonders, how was it to be expected that men, but newly dragged away from altars, and idols, and sacrifices, and cats, and crocodiles (for such did the Gentiles worship), and from the rest of their evil ways, should all at once receive the more sublime matters of doctrine? And how in particular should Jews, hearing as they did every day of their lives, and having it ever sounded in their ears, “The Lord thy God is one Lord, and beside Him is none other” (Deut. 6. : who also had seen Him hanging nailed on the Cross, nay, had themselves crucified and buried Him, and not seen Him even risen: when they were told that this same person was God and equal with the Father, how should they, of all men, be otherwise than shocked and revolted? Therefore it is that gently and little by little they carry them on, with much consideration and forbearance letting themselves down to their low attainments, themselves the while enjoying in more plentiful measure the grace of the Spirit, and doing greater works in Christ’s name than Christ Himself did, that they may at once raise them up from their grovelling apprehensions, and confirm the saying, that Christ was raised from the dead. For this, in fact, is just what this Book is: a Demonstration of the Resurrection:  this being once believed, the rest would come in due course. The subject then and entire scope of this Book, in the main, is just what I have said. And now let us hear the Preface itself.

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” (v. Why does he put him in mind of the Gospel? To intimate how strictly he may be depended upon. For at the outset of the former work he says, “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order.” (Luke 3.) Neither is he content with his own testimony, but refers the whole matter to the Apostles, saying, “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.” (Luke 2.) Having then accredited his account in the former instance, he has no need to put forth his credentials afresh for this treatise, seeing his disciple has been once for all satisfied, and by the mention of that former work he has reminded him of the strict reliance to be placed in him for the truth. For if a person has shown himself competent and trustworthy to write of things which he has heard, and moreover has obtained our confidence, much more will he have a right to our confidence when he has composed an account, not of things which he has received from others, but of things which he has seen and heard. For thou didst receive what relates to Christ; much more wilt thou receive what concerns the Apostles.

What then, (it may be asked), is it a question only of history, with which the Holy Spirit has nothing to do? Not so. For, if “those delivered it unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word;” then, what he says, is theirs. And why did he not say, ‘As they who were counted worthy of the Holy Spirit delivered them unto us;’ but “Those who were eyewitnesses?” Because, in matter of belief, the very thing that gives one a right to be believed, is the having learned from eyewitnesses: whereas the other appears to foolish persons mere parade and pretension. And therefore John also speaks thus: “I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John. 34.) And Christ expresses Himself in the same way to Nicodemus, while he was dull of apprehension, “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and no one receiveth our witness.” (Ib. 3. 11.) Accordingly, He gave them leave to rest their testimony in many particulars on the fact of their having seen them, when He said, “And do ye bear witness concerning Me, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15. 27.) The Apostles themselves also often speak in a similar manner; “We are witnesses, and the Holy Spirit which God hath given to those that obey Him.” (Acts 2. 3; and on a subsequent occasion, Peter, still giving assurance of the Resurrection, said, “Seeing we did eat and drink with Him.” (Acts 10. 41.) For they more readily received the testimony of persons who had been His companions, because the notion of the Spirit was as yet very much beyond them. Therefore John also at that time, in his Gospel, speaking of the blood and water, said, he himself saw it, making the fact of his having seen it equivalent, for them, to the highest testimony, although the witness of the Spirit is more certain than the evidence of sight, but not so with unbelievers. Now that Luke was a partaker of the Spirit, is abundantly clear, both from the miracles which even now take place; and from the fact that in those times even ordinary persons were gifted with the Holy Ghost; and again from the testimony of Paul, in these words, “Whose praise is in the Gospel” (2 Cor. 8. 18); and from the appointment to which he was chosen: for having said this, the Apostle adds, “But also appointed of the Churches to travel with us with this grace which is administered by us.”

Now mark how unassuming he is. He does not say, The former Gospel which I preached, but, “The former treatise have I made;” accounting the title of Gospel to be too great for him; although it is on the score of this that the Apostle dignifies him: “Whose praise,” he says, “is in the Gospel.” But he himself modestly says, “The former treatise have I made—O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach:” not simply “of all,” but from the beginning to the end; “until the day,” he says, “in which He was taken up.” And yet John says, that it was not possible to write all: for “were they written, I suppose,” says he, “that even the world itself could not contain the books written.” (John 225.) How then does the Evangelist here say, “Of all?” He does not say “all,” but “of all,” as much as to say, “in a summary way, and in the gross;” and “of all that is mainly and pressingly important.” Then he tells us in what sense he says all, when he adds, “Which Jesus began both to do and to teach;” meaning His miracles and teaching; and not only so, but implying that His doing was also a teaching.

But now consider the benevolent and Apostolic feelings of the writer: that for the sake of a single individual he took such pains as to write for him an entire Gospel. “That thou mightest have,” he says, “the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 4.) In truth, he had heard Christ say, “It is not the will of My Father that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matt. 18. 14.) And why did he not make one book of it, to send to one man Theophilus, but has divided it into two subjects? For clearness, and to give the brother a pause for rest. Besides, the two treatises are distinct in their subject-matter.

But consider how Christ accredited his words by His deeds. Thus He saith, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (Ib. 129.) He taught men to be poor,  and exhibited this by His actions: “For the Son of Man,” He says, “hath not where to lay His head.” (Ib. 8. 20.) Again, He charged men to love their enemies; and He taught the same lesson on the Cross, when He prayed for those who were crucifying Him. He said, “If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also” (Ib. 5. 40): now He not only gave His garments, but even His blood. In this way He bade others teach. Wherefore Paul also said, “So as ye have us for an example.” (Philip. 3. 17.) For nothing is more frigid than a teacher who shows his philosophy only in words: this is to act the part not of a teacher, but of a hypocrite. Therefore the Apostles first taught by their conduct, and then by their words; nay rather they had no need of words, when their deeds spoke so loud. Nor is it wrong to speak of Christ’s Passion as action, for in suffering all He performed that great and wonderful act, by which He destroyed death, and effected all else that He did for us.

“Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He, through the Holy Spirit, had given commandments unto the Apostles whom He had chosen. After He had given commandments through the Spirit” (v. ; i.e. they were spiritual words that He spake unto them, nothing human; either this is the meaning, or, that it was by the Spirit that He gave them commandments. Do you observe in what low terms he still speaks of Christ, as in fact Christ had spoken of Himself? “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils” (Matt. 12. 28); for indeed the Holy Ghost wrought in that Temple. Well, what did He command? “Go ye therefore,” He says, “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Ib. 28. 19, 20.) A high encomium this for the Apostles; to have such a charge entrusted to them, I mean, the salvation of the world! words full of the Spirit! And this the writer hints at in the expression, “through the Holy Ghost” (and, “the words which I spake unto you,” saith the Lord, “are Spirit”) (John 6. 6; thus leading the hearer on to a desire of learning what the commands were, and establishing the authority of the Apostles, seeing it is the words of the Spirit they are about to speak, and the commandments of Christ. “After He had given commandments,” he says, “He was taken up.” He does not say, ‘ascended;’ he still speaks as concerning a man. It appears then that He also taught the Disciples after His resurrection, but of this space of time no one has related to us the whole in detail. St. John indeed, as also does the present writer, dwells at greater length on this subject than the others; but none has clearly related every thing (for they hastened to something else); however, we have learnt these things through the Apostles, for what they heard, that did they tell. “To whom also He shewed Himself alive.” Having first spoken of the Ascension, he adverts to the Resurrection; for since thou hast been told that “He was taken up,” therefore, lest thou shouldest suppose Him to have been taken up by others, he adds, “To whom He shewed Himself alive.” For if He shewed Himself in the greater, surely He did in the minor circumstance. Seest thou, how casually and unperceived he drops by the way the seeds of these great doctrines?

“Being seen of them during forty days.” He was not always with them now, as He was before the Resurrection. For the writer does not say “forty days,” but, “during forty days.” He came, and again disappeared; by this leading them on to higher conceptions, and no longer permitting them to stand affected towards Him in the same way as before, but taking effectual measures to secure both these objects, that the fact of His Resurrection should be believed, and that He Himself should be ever after apprehended to be greater than man. At the same time, these were two opposite things; for in order to the belief in His Resurrection, much was to be done of a human character, and for the other object, just the reverse. Nevertheless, both results have been effected, each when the fitting time arrived.

But why did He appear not to all, but to the Apostles only? Because to the many it would have seemed a mere apparition, inasmuch as they understood not the secret of the mystery. For if the disciples themselves were at first incredulous and were troubled, and needed the evidence of actual touch with the hand, and of His eating with them, how would it have fared in all likelihood with the multitude? For this reason therefore by the miracles wrought by the Apostles He renders the evidence of His Resurrection unequivocal, so that not only the men of those times—this is what would come of the ocular proof—but also all men thereafter, should be certain of the fact, that He was risen. Upon this ground also we argue with unbelievers. For if He did not rise again, but remains dead, how did the Apostles perform miracles in His name? But they did not, say you, perform miracles? How then was our religion (ἔθνος) instituted? For this certainly they will not controvert nor impugn what we see with our eyes: so that when they say that no miracles took place, they inflict a worse stab upon themselves. For this would be the greatest of miracles, that without any miracles, the whole world should have eagerly come to be taken in the nets of twelve poor and illiterate men. For not by wealth of money, not by wisdom of words, not by any thing else of this kind, did the fishermen prevail; so that objectors must even against their will acknowledge that there was in these men a Divine power, for no human strength could ever possibly effect such great results. For this He then remained forty days on earth, furnishing in this length of time the sure evidence of their seeing Him in His own proper Person, that they might not suppose that what they saw was a phantom. And not content with this, He added also the evidence of eating with them at their board: as to signify this, the writer adds, “And being at tablewith them, He commanded.” (v. 4.) And this circumstance the Apostles themselves always put forth as an fallible token of the Resurrection; as where they say, “Who did eat and drink with Him.” (Acts 10. 41.)

And what did He, when appearing unto them those forty days? Why, He conversed with them, says the writer, “concerning the kingdom of God.” (v. 3.) For, since the disciples both had been distressed and troubled at the things which already had taken place, and were about to go forth to encounter great difficulties, He recovered them by His discourses concerning the future. “He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father.” (v. 4.) First, He led them out to Galilee, afraid and trembling, in order that they might listen to His words in security. Afterwards, when they had heard, and had passed forty days with Him, “He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem.” Wherefore? Just as when soldiers are to charge a multitude, no one thinks of letting them issue forth until they have armed themselves, or as horses are not suffered to start from the barriers until they have got their charioteer; so Christ did not suffer these to appear in the field before the descent of the Spirit, that they might not be in a condition to be easily defeated and taken captive by the many. Nor was this the only reason, but also there were many in Jerusalem who should believe. And then again that it might not be said, that leaving their own acquaintance, they had gone to make a parade among strangers, therefore among those very men who had put Christ to death do they exhibit the proofs of His Resurrection, among those who had crucified and buried Him, in the very town in which the iniquitous deed had been perpetrated; thereby stopping the mouths of all foreign objectors. For when those even who had crucified Him appear as believers, clearly this proved both the fact of the crucifixion and the iniquity of the deed, and afforded a mighty evidence of the Resurrection. Furthermore, lest the Apostles should say, How shall it be possible for us to live among wicked and bloody men, they so many in number, we so few and contemptible, observe how He does away their fear and distress, by these words, “But wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of Me.” (v. 4.) You will say, When had they heard this? When He said, “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.” (John 16. 7.) And again, “I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter, that He may abide with you.” (ib. 14. 16.)

But why did the Holy Ghost come to them, not while Christ was present, nor even immediately after his departure, but, whereas Christ ascended on the fortieth day, the Spirit descended “when the day of Pentecost,” that is, the fiftieth, “was fully come?” (Acts 2. 1.) And how was it, if the Spirit had not yet come, that He said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost?” (John 20. 22.) In order to render them capable and meet for the reception of Him. For if Daniel fainted at the sight of an Angel (Dan. 8. 17), much more would these when about to receive so great a grace. Either this then is to be said, or else that Christ spoke of what was to come, as if come already; as when He said, “Tread ye upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the devil.” (Luke 10. 19.) But why had the Holy Ghost not yet come? It was fit that they should first be brought to have a longing desire for that event, and so receive the grace. For this reason Christ Himself departed, and then the Spirit descended. For had He Himself been there, they would not have expected the Spirit so earnestly as they did. On this account neither did He come immediately after Christ’s Ascension, but after eight or nine days. It is the same with us also; for our desires towards God are then most raised, when we stand in need. Accordingly, John chose that time to send his disciples to Christ when they were likely to feel their need of Jesus, during his own imprisonment. Besides, it was fit that our nature should be seen in heaven, and that the reconciliation should be perfected, and then the Spirit should come, and the joy should be unalloyed. For, if the Spirit being already come, Christ had then departed, and the Spirit remained; the consolation would not have been so great as it was. For in fact they clung to Him, and could not bear to part with Him; wherefore also to comfort them He said, “It is expedient for you that I go away.” (John 16. 7.) On this account He also waits during those intermediate days, that they might first despond for awhile, and be made, as I said, to feel their need of Him. and then reap a full and unalloyed delight. But if the Spirit were inferior to the Son, the consolation would not have been adequate; and how could He have said, “It is expedient for you?” For this reason the greater matters of teaching were reserved for the Spirit, that the disciples might not imagine Him inferior.

Consider also how necessary He made it for them to abide in Jerusalem, by promising that the Spirit should be granted them. For lest they should again flee away after His Ascension, by this expectation, as by a bond, He keeps them to that spot. But having said, “Wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of Me,” He then adds, “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (v. 4, 5.) For now indeed He gives them to see the difference there was betwixt Him and John, plainly, and not as heretofore in obscure hints; for in fact He had spoken very obscurely, when He said, “Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he:” but now He says plainly, “John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 111.) And he no longer uses the testimony, but merely adverts to the person of John, reminding the disciples of what he had said, and shows them that they are now become greater than John; seeing they too are to baptize with the Spirit. Again, He did not say, I baptize you with the Holy Ghost, but, “Ye shall be baptized:” teaching us humility. For this was plain enough from the testimonyof John, that it was Christ Himself Who should baptize: “He it is that shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3. 16.); wherefore also He made mention of John.

The Gospels, then, are a history of what Christ did and said; but the Acts, of what that “other Comforter” said and did. Not but that the Spirit did many things in the Gospels also; even as Christ here in the Acts still works in men as He did in the Gospels: only then the Spirit wrought through the Temple, now through the Apostles: then, He came into the Virgin’s womb, and fashioned the Temple; now, into Apostolic souls: then in the likeness of a dove; now, in the likeness of fire. And wherefore? Showing there the gentleness of the Lord, but here His taking vengeance also, He now puts them in mind of the judgment likewise. For, when need was to forgive, need was there of much gentleness; but now we have obtained the gift, it is henceforth a time for judgment and examination.

But why does Christ say, “Ye shall be baptized,” when in fact there was no water in the upper room? Because the more essential part of Baptism is the Spirit, through Whom indeed the water has its operation; in the same manner our Lord also is said to be anointed, not that He had ever been anointed with oil, but because He had received the Spirit. Besides, we do in fact find them receiving a baptism with water and a baptism with the Spirit, and these at different moments. In our case both take place under one act, but then they were divided. For in the beginning they were baptized by John; since, if harlots and publicans went to that baptism, much rather would they who thereafter were to be baptized by the Holy Ghost. Then, that the Apostles might not say, that they were always having it held out to them in promises (John 14. 15, 16), (for indeed Christ had already discoursed much to them concerning the Spirit, that they should not imagine It to be an impersonal Energy or Operation, (ἐνέργειαν ἀνυπόστατον) that they might not say this, then, He adds, “not many days hence.” And He did not explain when, that they might always watch: but, that it would soon take place, He told them, that they might not faint; yet the exact time He refrained from adding, that they might always be vigilant. Nor does He assure them by this alone; I mean, by the shortness of the time, but withal by saying, “The promise which ye have heard of Me.” For this is not, saith He, the only time I have told you, but already I have promised what I shall certainly perform. What wonder then that He does not signify the day of the final consummation, when this day which was so near He did not choose to reveal? And with good reason; to the end they may be ever wakeful, and in a state of expectation and earnest heed.

For it cannot, it cannot be, that a man should enjoy the benefit of grace except he watch. Seest thou not what Elias saith to his disciple? “If thou see me when I am taken up” (2 Kings 2. 10), this that thou askest shall be done for thee. Christ also was ever wont to say unto those that came unto Him, “Believest thou?” For if we be not appropriated and made over to the thing given,neither do we greatly feel the benefit. So it was also in the case of Paul; grace did not come to him immediately, but three days intervened, during which he was blind; purified the while, and prepared by fear. For as those who dye the purple first season with other ingredients the cloth that is to receive the dye, that the bloom may not be fleeting; so in this instance God first takes order that the soul shall be thoroughly in earnest, and then pours forth His grace. On this account also, neither did He immediately send the Spirit, but on the fiftieth day. Now if any one ask, why we also do not baptize at that season of Pentecost? we may answer, that grace is the same now as then; but the mind becomes more elevated now, by being prepared through fasting. And the season too of Pentecost furnishes a not unlikely reason. What may that be? Our fathers held Baptism to be just the proper curb upon evil concupiscence, and a powerful lesson for teaching to be sober-minded even in a time of delights.

As if then we were banquetting with Christ Himself, and partaking of His table, let us do nothing at random, but let us pass our time in fastings, and prayers, and much sobriety of mind. For if a man who is destined to enter upon some temporal government, prepares himself all his life long, and that he may obtain some dignity, lays out his money, spends his time, and submits to endless troubles; what shall we deserve, who draw near to the kingdom of heaven with such negligence, and both show no earnestness before we have received, and after having received are again negligent? Nay, this is the very reason why we are negligent after having received, that we did not watch before we had received. Therefore many, after they have received, immediately have returned to their former vomit, and have become more wicked, and drawn upon themselves a more severe punishment; when having been delivered from their former sins, herein they have more grievously provoked the Judge, that having been delivered from so great a disease, still they did not learn sobriety, but that has happened unto them, which Christ threatened to the paralytic man, saying, “Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5. and which He also predicted of the Jews, that “the last state shall be worse than the first.” (Matt. 12. 45.) For if, saith He, showing that by their ingratitude they should bring upon them the worst of evils, “if I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sin” (John 15. 2; so that the guilt of sins committed after these benefits is doubled and quadrupled, in that, after the honour put upon us, we show ourselves ungrateful and wicked. And the Laver of Baptism helps not a whit to procure for us a milder punishment. And consider: a man has gotten grievous sins by committing murder or adultery, or some other crime: these were remitted through Baptism. For there is no sin, no impiety, which does not yield and give place to this gift; for the Grace is Divine. A man has again committed adultery and murder; the former adultery is indeed done away, the murder forgiven, and not brought up again to his charge, “for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 129); but for those committed after Baptism he suffers a punishment as great as he would if both the former sins were brought up again, and many worse than these. For the guilt is no longer simply equal, but doubled and tripled. Look: in proof that the penalty of these sins is greater, hear what St. Paul says: “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10. 28, 29.)

Perhaps we have now deterred many from receiving baptism. Not however with this intention have we so spoken, but on purpose that having received it, they may continue in temperance and much moderation. ‘But I am afraid,’ says one. If thou wert afraid, thou wouldest have received and guarded it. ‘Nay,’ saith he, ‘but this is the very reason why I do not receive it,—that I am frightened.’ And art thou not afraid to depart thus? ‘God is merciful,’ saith he. Receive baptism then, because He is merciful and ready to help. But thou, where to be in earnest is the thing required, dost not allege this mercifulness; thou thinkest of this only where thou hast a mind to do so. And yet that was the time to resort to God’s mercy, and we shall then be surest of obtaining it, when we do our part. For he that has cast the whole matter upon God, and, after his baptism, sins, as being man it is likely, he may, and repents, shall obtain mercy; whereas he that prevaricates with God’s mercy, and departs this life with no portion in that grace, shall have his punishment without a word to be said for him. ‘But how if he depart,’ say you, ‘after having had the grace vouchsafed to him?’ He will depart empty again of all good works. For it is impossible, yes, it is in my opinion impossible, that the man who upon such hopes dallied with baptism should have effected ought generous and good. And why dost thou harbor such fear, and presume upon the uncertain chance of the future? Why not convert this fear into labor and earnestness, and thou shalt be great and admirable? Which is best, to fear or to labor? Suppose some one to have placed thee, having nothing to do, in a tottering house, saying, Look for the decaying roof to fall upon thy head: for perhaps it will fall, perhaps not; but if thou hadst rather it should not, then work and inhabit the more secure apartment: which wouldest thou have rather chosen, that idle condition accompanied with fear, or this labor with confidence? Why then, act now in the same way. For the uncertain future is like a decayed house, ever threatening to fall; but this work, laborious though it be, ensures safety.

Now God forbid that it should happen to us to fall into so great straits as to sin after baptism. However, even if aught such should happen, God is merciful, and has given us many ways of obtaining remission even after this. But just as those who sin after baptism are punished for this reason more severely than the Catechumens, so again, those who know that there are medicines in repentance, and yet will not make use of them, will undergo a more grievous chastisement. For by how much the mercy of God is enlarged, by so much does the punishment increase, if we do not duly profit by that mercy. What sayest thou, O man? When thou wast full of such grievous evils, and given over, suddenly thou becamest a friend, and wast exalted to the highest honor, not by labors of thine own, but by the gift of God: thou didst again return to thy former misconduct; and though thou didst deserve to be sorely punished, nevertheless, God did not turn away, but gave unnumbered opportunities of salvation, whereby thou mayest yet become a friend: yet for all this, thou hast not the will to labor. What forgiveness canst thou deserve henceforth? Will not the Gentiles with good reason deride thee as a worthless drone? For if there be power in that doctrine of yours, say they, what means this multitude of uninitiated persons? If the mysteries be excellent and desirable, let none receive baptism at his last gasp. For that is not the time for giving of mysteries but for making of wills; the time for mysteries is in health of mind and soundness of soul. For, if a man would not prefer to make his will in such a condition; and if he does so make it, he gives a handle for subsequent litigation (and this is the reason why testators premise these words: “Alive, in my senses, and in health, I make this disposal of my property:”), how should it be possible for a person who is no longer master of his senses to go through the right course of preparation for the sacred mysteries? For if in the affairs of this life, the laws of the world would not permit a man who was not perfectly sound in mind to make a will, although it be in his own affairs that he would lay down the law; how, when thou art receiving instruction concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the unspeakable riches of that world, shall it be possible for thee to learn all clearly, when very likely too thou art beside thyself through the violence of thy malady? And when wilt thou say those words to Christ, in the act of being buried with Him when at the point to depart hence? For indeed both by works and by words must we show our good will towards Him. (Rom. 6. 4.) Now what thou art doing is all one, as if a man should want to be enlisted as a soldier, when the war is just about to break up; or to strip for the contest in the arena, just when the spectators have risen from their seats. For thou hast thine arms given thee, not that thou shouldest straightway depart hence, but that being equipped therewith, thou mayest raise a trophy over the enemy. Let no one think that it is out of season to discourse on this subject, because it is not Lent now. Nay, this it is that vexes me, that ye look to a set time in such matters. Whereas that Eunuch, barbarian as he was and on a journey, yea on the very highway, he did not seek for a set time (Acts 8. 27); no, nor the jailer, though he was in the midst of a set of prisoners, and the teacher he saw before him was a man scourged and in chains, and whom he was still to have in his custody. (ib. 16. 29.) But here, not being inmates of a jail, nor out on a journey, many are putting off their baptism even to their last breath.

Now if thou still questionest that Christ is God, stand away from the Church: be not here, even as a hearer of the Divine Word, and as one of the catechumens: but if thou art sure of this, and knowest clearly this truth, why delay? Why shrink back and hesitate? For fear, say you, lest I should sin. But dost thou not fear what is worse, to depart for the next world with such a heavy burden? For it is not equally excusable, not to have gotten a grace set before you, and to have failed in attempting to live uprightly. If thou be called to account, Why didst thou not come for it? what wilt thou answer? In the other case thou mayest allege the burden of thy passions, and the difficulty of a virtuous life: but nothing of the kind here. For here is grace, freely conveying liberty. But thou fearest lest thou shouldest sin? Let this be thy language after Baptism: and then entertain this fear, in order to hold fast the liberty thou hast received; not now, to prevent thy receiving such a gift. Whereas now thou art wary before baptism, and negligent after it. But thou art waiting for Lent: and why? Has that season any advantage? Nay, it was not at the Passover that the Apostles received the grace, but at another season; and then three thousand (Luke says,) and five thousand were baptized: (ch. 2. 44. 4, and ch. x.) and again Cornelius. Let us then not wait for a set time, lest by hesitating and putting off we depart empty, and destitute of so great gifts. What do you suppose is my anguish when I hear that any person has been taken away unbaptized, while I reflect upon the intolerable punishments of that life, the inexorable doom! Again, how I am grieved to behold others drawing near to their last gasp, and not brought to their right mind even then. Hence too it is that scenes take place quite unworthy of this gift. For whereas there ought to be joy, and dancing, and exultation, and wearing of garlands, when another is christened; the wife of the sick man has no sooner heard that the physician has ordered this, than she is overcome with grief, as if it were some dire calamity; she sets up the greatest lamentation, and nothing is heard all over the house but crying and wailing, just as it is when condemned criminals are led away to their doom. The sick man again is then more sorely grieved; and if he recovers from his illness, is as vexed as if some great harm had been done to him. For since he had not been prepared for a virtuous life, he has no heart for the conflicts which are to follow, and shrinks at the thought of them. Do you see what devices the devil contrives, what shame, what ridicule? Let us rid ourselves of this disgrace; let us live as Christ has enjoined. He gave us Baptism, not that we should receive and depart, but that we should show the fruits of it in our after life. How can one say to him who is departing and broken down, Bear fruit? Hast thou not heard that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace?” (Gal. 5. 22.) How comes it then that the very contrary takes place here? For the wife stands there mourning, when she ought to rejoice; the children weeping, when they ought to be glad together; the sick man himself lies there in darkness, and surrounded by noise and tumult, when he ought to be keeping high festival; full of exceeding despondency at the thought of leaving his children orphans, his wife a widow, his house desolate. Is this a state in which to draw near unto mysteries? answer me; is this a state in which to approach the sacred table? Are such scenes to be tolerated? Should the Emperor send letters and release the prisoners in the jails, there is joy and gladness: God sends down the Holy Ghost from Heaven to remit not arrears of money, but a whole mass of sins, and do ye all bewail and lament? Why, how grossly unsuitable is this! Not to mention that sometimes it is upon the dead that the water has been poured, and holy mysteries flung upon the ground. However, not we are to blame for this, but men who are so perverse. I exhort you then to leave all, and turn and draw near to Baptism with all alacrity, that having given proof of great earnestness at this present time, we may obtain confidence for that which is to come; whereunto that we may attain, may it be granted unto us all by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

 
1 - 2 Acts 6 “When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

When the disciples intend to ask anything, they approach Him together, that by dint of numbers they may abash Him into compliance. They well knew that in what He had said previously, “Of that day knoweth no man” (Matt. 24. 36), He had merely declined telling them: therefore they again drew near, and put the question. They would not have put it had they been truly satisfied with that answer. For having heard that they were about to receive the Holy Ghost, they, as being now worthy of instruction, desired to learn. Also they were quite ready for freedom: for they had no mind to address themselves to danger; what they wished was to breathe freely again; for they were no light matters that had happened to them, but the utmost peril had impended over them. And without saying any thing to Him of the Holy Ghost, they put this question: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They did not ask, when? but whether “at this time.” So eager were they for that day. Indeed, to me it appears that they had not any clear notion of the nature of that kingdom; for the Spirit had not yet instructed them. And they do not say, When shall these things be? but they approach Him with greater honour, saying, “Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom,” as being now already fallen. For there they were still affected towards sensible objects, seeing they were not yet become better than those who were before them; here they have henceforth high conceptions concerning Christ. Since then their minds are elevated, He also speaks to them in a higher strain. For He no longer tells them, “Of that day not even the Son of Man knoweth” (Mark 13. 3; but He says, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power (Acts 7.) Ye ask things greater than your capacity, He would say. And yet even now they learned things that were much greater than this. And that you may see that this is strictly the case, look how many things I shall enumerate. What, I pray you, was greater than their having learned what they did learn? Thus, they learned that there is a Son of God, and that God has a Son equal with Himself in dignity (John 5. 17–20); they learned that there will be a resurrection (Matt. 17. 9); that when He ascended He sat on the right hand of God (Luke 22. 69); and what is still more stupendous, that Flesh is seated in heaven, and adored by Angels, and that He will come again (Mark 16. 19); they learned what is to take place in the judgment (Matt. 16. 27); learned that they shall then sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 227); learned that the Jews would be cast out, and in their stead the Gentiles should come in (Matt. 14. 28). For, tell me, which is greater? to learn that a person will reign, or to learn the time when? (Luke 22. Paul learned “things which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12. ; things that were before the world was made, he learned them all. Which is the more difficult, the beginning or the end? Clearly to learn the beginning. This, Moses learned, and the time when, and how long ago: and he enumerates the years. And the wise Solomon saith, “I will make mention of things from the beginning of the world.” And that the time is at hand, they do know: as Paul saith, “The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing.” (Phil. 4. 5). These things they knew not then, and yet He mentions many signs (Matt. ch. xxiv). But, as He has just said, “Not many days hence,” wishing them to be vigilant, and did not openly declare the precise moment, so is it here also. However, it is not about the general Consummation that they now ask Him, but, “Wilt Thou at this time,” say they, “restore the kingdom to Israel?” And not even this did He reveal to them. They also asked this about the end of the world before: and as on that occasion He answered by leading them away from thinking that their deliverance was near and, on the contrary, cast them into the midst of perils, so likewise on this occasion but more mildly. For, that they may not imagine themselves to be wronged, and these things to be mere pretences, hear what He says: He immediately gives them that at which they rejoiced: for He adds: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 8.) Then, that they may make no more enquiries, straightway He was received up. Thus, just as on the former occasion He had darkened their minds by awe, and by saying, “I know not;” here also He does so by being taken up. For great was their eagerness on the subject, and they would not have desisted; and yet it was very necessary that they should not learn this. For tell me, which do the Gentiles most disbelieve? that there will be a consummation of the world, or that God is become man, and issued from the Virgin? But I am ashamed of dwelling on this point, as if it were about some difficult matter. Then again, that the disciples might not say, Why dost thou leave the matter in suspense? He adds, “Which the Father hath put in His own power.” And yet He declared the Father’s power and His to be one: as in the saying, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.” (John 5. 21.) If where need is to work, Thou actest with the same power as the Father; where it behooves to know, dost Thou not know with the same power? Yet certainly to raise up the dead is much greater than to learn the day. If the greater be with power, much more the other.

But just as when we see a child crying, and pertinaciously wishing to get something from us that is not expedient for him, we hide the thing, and show him our empty hands, and say, “See, we have it not:” the like has Christ here done with the Apostles. But as the child, even when we show him our empty hands, persists with his crying, conscious he has been deceived, and then we leave him, and depart, saying, “Such an one calls me:” and we give him something else instead, in order to divert him from his desire, telling him it is a much finer thing than the other, and then hasten away; in like manner Christ acted. The disciples asked to have something, and He said He had it not. And on the first occasion he frightened them. Then again they asked to have it now: He said He had it not; and He did not frighten them now, but after having shown the empty hands, He has done this, and gives them a plausible reason: “Which the Father,” He says, “hath put in his own power.” What? Thou not know the things of the Father! Thou knowest Him, and not what belongs to Him! And yet Thou hast said, “None knoweth the Father but the Son” (Luke 10. 25); and, “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2. 10); and Thou not know this! But they feared to ask Him again, lest they should hear Him say, “Are ye also without understanding?” (Matt. 15. 26.) For they feared Him now much more than before. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” As in the former instance He had not answered their question (for it is the part of a teacher to teach not what the disciple chooses, but what is expedient for him to learn), so in this, He tells them beforehand, for this reason, what they ought to know, that they may not be troubled. In truth, they were yet weak. But to inspire them with confidence, He raised up their souls, and concealed what was grievous. Since he was about to leave them very shortly, therefore in this discourse He says nothing painful. But how? He extols as great the things which would be painful: all but saying, “‘Fear not’: for ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria.” For since he had said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not” (Matt. 10. 5), what there He left unsaid, He here adds, “And to the uttermost part of the earth;” and having spoken this, which was more fearful than all the rest, then that they may not again question Him, He held His peace. “And having this said, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (v. 9). Seest thou that they did preach and fulfil the Gospel? For great was the gift He had bestowed on them. In the very place, He says, where ye are afraid, that is, in Jerusalem, there preach ye first, and afterwards unto the uttermost part of the earth. Then for assurance of what He had said, “While they beheld, He was taken up.” Not “while they beheld” did He rise from the dead, but “while they beheld, He was taken up.” Inasmuch, however, as the sight of their eyes even here was not all-sufficient; for in the Resurrection they saw the end, but not the beginning, and in the Ascension they saw the beginning, but not the end: because in the former it had been superfluous to have seen the beginning, the Lord Himself Who spake these things being present, and the sepulchre showing clearly that He is not there; but in the latter, they needed to be informed of the sequel by word of others: inasmuch then as their eyes do not suffice to show them the height above, nor to inform them whether He is actually gone up into heaven, or only seemingly into heaven, see then what follows. That it was Jesus Himself they knew from the fact that He had been conversing with them (for had they seen only from a distance, they could not have recognized Him by sight), but that He is taken up into Heaven the Angels themselves inform them. Observe how it is ordered, that not all is done by the Spirit, but the eyes also do their part. But why did “a cloud receive Him?” This too was a sure sign that He went up to Heaven. Not fire, as in the case of Elijah, nor fiery chariot, but “a cloud received Him;” which was a symbol of Heaven, as the Prophet says; “Who maketh the clouds His chariot” (Ps. civ. ; it is of the Father Himself that this is said. Therefore he says, “on a cloud;” in the symbol, he would say, of the Divine power, for no other Power is seen to appear on a cloud. For hear again what another Prophet says: “The Lord sitteth upon a light cloud” (Is. 14. . For it was while they were listening with great attention to what He was saying, and this in answer to a very interesting question, and with their minds fully aroused and quite awake, that this thing took place. Also on the mount Sinai the cloud was because of Him: since Moses also entered into the darkness, but the cloud there was not because of Moses. And He did not merely say, “I go,” lest they should again grieve, but He said, “I send the Spirit” (John 16. 5, 7); and that He was going away into heaven they saw with their eyes. O what a sight they were granted! “And while they looked stedfastly,” it is said, “toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven”—they used the expression “This” demonstratively, saying, “this Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall thus”—demonstratively, “in this way”—“come in like manner as ye have seen Him going into heaven.” (v. 10, 11.) Again, the outward appearance is cheering “in white apparel”. They were Angels, in the form of men. And they say, “Ye men of Galilee:” they showed themselves to be trusted by the disciples, by saying, “Ye men of Galilee.” For this was the meaning: else, what needed they to be told of their country, who knew it well enough? By their appearance also they attracted their regard, and shewed that they were from heaven. But wherefore does not Christ Himself tell them these things, instead of the Angels? He had beforehand told them all things; “What if ye shall see the Son of Man going up where He was before?” (John 6. 6.

Moreover the Angels did not say, ‘whom you have seen taken up,’ but, “going into heaven:” ascension is the word, not assumption; the expression “taken up,” belongs to the flesh. For the same reason they say, “He which is taken up from you shall thus come,” not, “shall be sent,” but, “shall come. He that ascended, the same is he also that descended” (Eph. 4. 10). So again the expression, “a cloud received Him:” for He Himself mounted upon the cloud. Of the expressions, some are adapted to the conceptions of the disciples, some agreeable with the Divine Majesty. Now, as they behold, their conceptions are elevated: He has given them no slight hint of the nature of His second coming. For this, “Shall thus come,” means, with the body; which thing they desired to hear; and, that he shall come again to judgment “thus” upon a cloud. “And, behold, two men stood by them.” Why is it said, “men?” Because they had fashioned themselves completely as such, that the beholders might not be overpowered. “Which also said:” their words moreover were calculated for soothing: “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” They would not let them any longer wait there for Him. Here again, these tell what is greater, and leave the less unsaid. That “He will thus come,” they say, and that “ye must look for Him from heaven.” For the rest, they called them off from that spectacle to their saying, that they might not, because they could not see Him, imagine that He was not ascended, but even while they are conversing, would be present ere they were aware. For if they said on a former occasion, “Whither goest Thou?” (John 13. 36) much more would they have said it now.

“Wilt Thou at this time,” say they, “restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Recapitulation). They so well knew his mildness, that after His Passion also they ask Him, “Wilt thou restore?” And yet He had before said to them, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, but the end is not yet,” nor shall Jerusalem be taken. But now they ask Him about the kingdom, not about the end. And besides, He does not speak at great length with them after the Resurrection. They address then this question, as thinking that they themselves would be in high honor, if this should come to pass. But He (for as touching this restoration, that it was not to be, He did not openly declare; for what needed they to learn this? hence they do not again ask, “What is the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” for they are afraid to say that: but, “Wilt Thou restore the kingdom to Israel?” for they thought there was such a kingdom), but He, I say, both in parables had shown that the time was not near, and here where they asked, and He answered thereto, “Ye shall receive power,” says He, “when the Holy Ghost is come upon you. Is come upon you,” not, “is sent,” to shew the Spirit’s coequal Majesty. How then darest thou, O opponent of the Spirit, to call Him a creature?. “And ye shall be witnesses to Me.” He hinted at the Ascension. “And when he had spoken these things. Which they had heard before, and He now reminds them of. “He was taken up.” Already it has been shown, that He went up into heaven. “And a cloud, etc.” “Clouds and darkness are under His feet,” (Ps. 18. 9; xcvii. saith the Scripture: for this is declared by the expression, “And a cloud received Him:” the Lord of heaven, it means. For as a king is shown by the royal chariot, so was the royal chariot sent for Him. “Behold, two men, etc. That they may vent no sorrowful exclamations, and that it might not be with them as it was with Elisha, (2 Kings 2. 1 who, when his master was taken up, rent his mantle. And what say they? “This Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall thus come.” And, “Behold, two men stood by them.” (Matt. 18. 16.) With good reason: for “in the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established” (Deut. 17. 6): and these utter the same things. And it is said, that they were “in white apparel.” In the same manner as they had already seen an Angel at the sepulchre, who had even told them their own thoughts; so here also an Angel is the preacher of His Ascension; although indeed the Prophets had frequently foretold it, as well as the Resurrection.

Everywhere it is Angels as at the Nativity, “for that which is conceived in her,” saith one, “is by the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 20): and again to Mary, “Fear not, Mary.” (Luke 30.) And at the Resurrection: “He is not here; He is risen, and goeth before you.” (ib. 24. 6.) “Come, and see!” (Matt. 28. 6.) And at the Second Coming. For that they may not be utterly in amaze, therefore it is added, “Shall thus come.” (ib. 25. 31.) They recover their breath a little; if indeed He shall come again, if also thus come, and not be unapproachable! And that expression also, that it is “from them” He is taken up, is not idly added. And of the Resurrection indeed Christ Himself bears witness (because of all things this is, next to the Nativity, nay even above the Nativity, the most wonderful: His raising Himself to life again): for, “Destroy,” He says, “this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2. 19.) “Shall thus come,” say they. If any therefore desires to see Christ; if any grieves that he has not seen Him: having this heard, let him show forth an admirable life, and certainly he shall see Him, and shall not be disappointed. For Christ will come with greater glory, though “thus,” in this manner, with a body; and much more wondrous will it be to see Him descending from heaven. But for what He will come, they do not add.

“Shall thus come,” etc. This is a confirmation of the Resurrection; for if he was taken up with a body, much rather must He have risen again with a body. Where are those who disbelieve the Resurrection? Who are they, I pray? Are they Gentiles, or Christians? for I am ignorant. But no, I know well: they are Gentiles, who also disbelieve the work of Creation. For the two denials go together: the denial that God creates any thing from nothing, and the denial that He raises up what has been buried. But then, being ashamed to be thought such as “know not the power of God” (Matt. 22. 29), that we may not impute this to them, they allege: We do not say it with this meaning, but because there is no need of the body. Truly it may be seasonably said, “The fool will speak foolishness.” (Is. xxxii. 6.) Are you not ashamed not to grant, that God can create from nothing? If he creates from matter already existing, wherein does He differ from men? But whence, you demand, are evils? Though you should not know whence, ought you for that to introduce another evil in the knowledge of evils? Hereupon two absurdities follow. For if you do not grant, that from things which are not, God made the things which are, much more shall you be ignorant whence are evils: and then, again, you introduce another evil, the affirming that Evil (τὴν κακίαν) is uncreated. Consider now what a thing it is, when you wish to find the source of evils, to be both ignorant of it, and to add another to it. Search after the origin of evils, and do not blaspheme God. And how do I blaspheme? says he. When you make out that evils have a power equal to God’s; a power uncreated. For, observe what Paul says; “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” (Rom. 20.) But the devil would have both to be of matter, that there may be nothing left from which we may come to the knowledge of God. For tell me, whether is harder: to take that which is by nature evil (if indeed there be ought such; for I speak upon your principles, since there is no such thing as evil by nature), and make it either good, or even coefficent of good? or, to make of nothing? Whether is easier (I speak of quality); to induce the non-existent quality; or to take the existing quality, and change it into its contrary? where there is no house, to make the house; or where it is utterly destroyed, to make it identically exist again? Why, as this is impossible, so is that: to make a thing into its opposite. Tell me, whether is harder; to make a perfume, or to make filth have the effect of perfume? Say, whether of these is easier (since we subject God to our reasonings: nay, not we, but ye); to form eyes, or to make a blind man to see continuing blind, and yet more sharp-sighted, than one who does see? To make blindness into sight, and deafness into hearing? To me the other seems easier. Say then do you grant God that which is harder, and not grant the easier? But souls also they affirm to be of His substance. Do you see what a number of impieties and absurdities are here! In the first place, wishing to show that evils are from God, they bring in another thing more impious than this, that they are equal with Him in majesty, and God prior in existence to none of them, assigning this great prerogative even to them! In the next place, they affirm evil to be indestructible: for if that which is uncreated can be destroyed, ye see the blasphemy! So that it comes to this, either that nothing is of God if not these; or that these are God! Thirdly, what I have before spoken of, in this point they defeat themselves, and prepare against themselves fresh indignation. Fourthly, they affirm unordered matter to possess such inherent (ἐπιτηδειότητα) power. Fifthly, that evil is the cause of the goodness of God, and that without this the Good had not been good. Sixthly, they bar against us the ways of attaining unto the knowledge of God. Seventhly, they bring God down into men, yea plants and logs. For if our soul be of the substance of God, but the process of its transmigration into new bodies brings it at last into cucumbers, and melons, and onions, why then the substance of God will pass into cucumbers! And if we say, that the Holy Ghost fashioned the Temple of our Lord’s body in the Virgin, they laugh us to scorn: and if, that He dwelt in that spiritual Temple, again they laugh; while they themselves are not ashamed to bring down God’s substance into cucumbers, and melons, and flies, and caterpillars, and asses, thus excogitating a new fashion of idolatry: for let it not be as the Egyptians have it, “The onion is God;” but let it be, “God in the onion”! Why dost thou shrink from the notion of God’s entering into a body? ‘It is shocking,’ says he. Why then this is much more shocking. But, forsooth, it is not shocking—how should it be?—this same thing which is so, if it be into us! ‘But thy notion is indeed shocking.’ Do ye see the filthiness of their impiety?—But why do they not wish the body to be raised? And why do they say the body is evil? By what then, tell me, dost thou know God? by what hast thou the knowledge of existing things? The philosopher too: by means of what is he a philosopher, if the body does nothing towards it? Deaden the senses, and then learn something of the things one needs to know! What would be more foolish than a soul, if from the first it had the senses deadened? If the deadening of but a single part, I mean of the brain, becomes a marring of it altogether; if all the rest should be deadened, what would it be good for? Show me a soul without a body. Do you not hear physicians say, The presence of disease sadly enfeebles the soul? How long will ye put off hanging yourselves? Is the body material? tell me. “To be sure, it is.” Then you ought to hate it. Why do you feed, why cherish it? You ought to get quit of this prison. But besides: “God cannot overcome matter, unless he (συμπλακἥ) implicate himself with it: for he cannot issue orders to it (O feebleness!) until he close with it, and (σταθἥ) take his stand (say you) through the whole of it!” And a king indeed does all by commanding; but God, not by commanding the evil! In short, if it were unparticipant of all good, it could not subsist at all. For Evil cannot subsist, unless it lay hold upon somewhat of the accidents of Virtue: so that if it had been heretofore all unmixed with virtue, it would have perished long ago: for such is the condition of evils. Let there be a profligate man, let him put upon himself no restraint whatever, will he live ten days? Let there be a robber, and devoid of all conscience in his dealings with every one, let him be such even to his fellow-robbers, will he be able to live? Let there be a thief, void of all shame, who knows not what blushing is, but steals openly in public. It is not in the nature of evils to subsist, unless they get some small share at least in good. So that hereupon, according to these men, God gave them their subsistence. Let there be a city of wicked men; will it stand? But let them be wicked, not only with regard to the good, but towards each other. Why, it is impossible such a city should stand. Truly, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom. 22.) If bodily substance be evil, then all things visible exist idly, and in vain, both water and earth, and sun, and air; for air is also body, though not solid. It is in point then to say, “The wicked have told me foolish things.” (Ps. cxix. 85.) But let not us endure them, let us block up our ears against them. For there is, yea, there is, a resurrection of bodies. This the sepulchre which is at Jerusalem declares, this the pillar to which He was bound, when He was scourged. For, “We did eat and drink with Him,” it is said. Let us then believe in the Resurrection, and do things worthy of it, that we may attain to the good things which are to come, through Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father, and the Holy Ghost together, be power, honor, now and for ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 3 Acts “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.”

“Then returned they,” it is said: namely, when they had heard. For they could not have borne it, if the angel had not (ὑπερέθετο) referred them to another Coming. It seems to me, that it was also on a sabbath-day that these things took place; for he would not thus have specified the distance, saying, “from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey,” unless they were then going on the sabbath-day a certain definite distance. “And when they were come in,” it says, “they went up into an upper room, where they were making their abode:” so they then remained in Jerusalem after the Resurrection: “both Peter, and James, and John:” no longer is only the latter together with his brother mentioned, but together with Peter the two: “and Andrew, and Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, and James (the son) of Alphæus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas, (the brother) of James.” (v. 13.) He has done well to mention the disciples: for since one had betrayed Christ, and another had been unbelieving, he thereby shows that, except the first, all of them were preserved.

“These were all continuing with one accord in prayer together with the women.” (v. 14.) For this is a powerful weapon in temptations; and to this they had been trained. “Continuing with one accord.” Good. (καλὥς). Besides, the present temptation directed them to this: for they exceedingly feared the Jews. “With the women,” it is said: for he had said that they had followed Him: “and with Mary the mother of Jesus.” (Luke 28. 55.) How then is it said, that “that disciple” took her to his own home” (John 14. 26), at that time? But then the Lord had brought them together again, and so returned. “And with His brethren.” (John 17. 5.) These also were before unbelieving. “And in those days,” it says, “Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said.” (v. 15.) Both as being ardent, and as having been put in trust by Christ with the flock, and as having precedence in honor, he always begins the discourse. (“The number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty.) Men and brethren,” he says, “this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before,” etc. (v. 16.) Why did he not ask Christ to give him some one in the room of Judas? It is better as it is. For in the first place, they were engaged in other things; secondly, of Christ’s presence with them, the greatest proof that could be given was this: as He had chosen when He was among them, so did He now being absent. Now this was no small matter for their consolation. But observe how Peter does everything with the common consent; nothing imperiously. And he does not speak thus without a meaning. But observe how he consoles them concerning what had passed. In fact, what had happened had caused them no small consternation. For if there are many now who canvass this circumstance, what may we suppose they had to say then?

“Men and brethren,” says Peter. For if the Lord called them brethren, much more may he. “Men,” he says: they all being present. See the dignity of the Church, the angelic condition! No distinction there, “neither male nor female.” I would that the Churches were such now! None there had his mind full of some worldly matter, none was anxiously thinking about household concerns. Such a benefit are temptations, such the advantage of afflictions!

“This Scripture,” says he, “must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before.” Always he comforts them by the prophecies. So does Christ on all occasions. In the very same way, he shows here that no strange thing had happened, but what had already been foretold. “This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled,” he says, “which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before.” He does not say, David, but the Spirit through him. See what kind of doctrine the writer has at the very outset of the book. Do you see, that it was not for nothing that I said in the beginning of this work, that this book is the Polity of the Holy Spirit? “Which the Holy Ghost spake before by the mouth of David.” Observe how he appropriates (οἰκειοὕται) him; and that it is an advantage to them, that this was spoken by David, and not by some other Prophet. “Concerning Judas,” he says, “which was guide.” Here again mark the philosophical temper of the man: how he does not mention him with scorn, nor say, “that wretch,” “that miscreant:” but simply states the fact; and does not even say, “who betrayed Him,” but does what he can to transfer the guilt to others: nor does he animadvert severely even on these: “Which was guide,” he says, “to them that took Jesus.” Furthermore, before he declares where David had spoken, he relates what had been the case with Judas, that from the things present he may fetch assurance of the things future, and show that this man had already received his due. “For he was numbered,” says he, “with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man acquired a field out of the reward of iniquity.” (v. 17, 18.) He gives his discourse a moral turn, and covertly mentions the cause of the wickedness, because it carried reproof with it. And he does not say, The Jews, but, “this man, acquired” it. For since the minds of weak persons do not attend to things future, as they do to things present, he discourses of the immediate punishment inflicted. “And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst.” He does well to dilate not upon the sin, but upon the punishment. “And,” he says, “all his bowels gushed out.” This brought them consolation. “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue Aceldama, that is to say, the field of blood.” (v. 19). Now the Jews gave it this name, not on this account, but because of Judas; here, however, Peter makes it to have this reference, and when he brings forward the adversaries as witnesses, both by the fact that they named it, and by saying, “in their proper tongue,” this is what he means.

Then after the event, he appositely brings in the Prophet, saying, “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein” (v. 20) (Ps. lxix. 25): this is said of the field and the dwelling: “And his bishopric let another take; that is, his office, his priesthood. So that this, he says, is not my counsel, but His who hath foretold these things. For, that he may not seem to be undertaking a great thing, and just such as Christ had done, he adduces the Prophet as a witness. “Wherefore it behooves of these men which have companied with us all the time.” (v. 21.) Why does he make it their business too? That the matter might not become an object of strife, and they might not fall into contention about it. For if the Apostles themselves once did this, much more might those. This he ever avoids. Wherefore at the beginning he said, “Men and brethren. It behooves” to choose from among you. He defers the decision to the whole body, thereby both making the elected objects of reverence and himself keeping clear of all invidiousness with regard to the rest. For such occasions always give rise to great evils. Now that some one must needs be appointed, he adduces the prophet as witness: but from among what persons: “Of these,” he says, “which have companied with us all the time.” To have said, the worthy must present themselves, would have been to insult the others; but now he refers the matter to length of time; for he says not simply, “These who have companied with us,” but, “all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection” (v. 2: that their college (ὁ χορὸς) might not be left mutilated. Then why did it not rest with Peter to make the election himself: what was the motive? This; that he might not seem to bestow it of favor. And besides, he was not yet endowed with the spirit. “And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.” (v. 23.) Not he appointed them: but it was he that introduced the proposition to that effect, at the same time pointing out that even this was not his own, but from old time by prophecy; so that he acted as expositor, not as preceptor. “Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus.” Perhaps both names are given, because there were others of the same name, for among the Apostles also there were several names alike; as James, and James (the son) of Alphæus; Simon Peter, and Simon Zelotes; Judas (the brother) of James, and Judas Iscariot. The appellation, however, may have arisen from a change of life, and very likely also of the moral character. “They appointed two,” it is said, “Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said; Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and Apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” (v. 24, 25.) They do well to mention the sin of Judas, thereby showing that it is a witness they ask to have; not increasing the number, but not suffering it to be diminished. “And they gave forth their lots” (for the spirit was not yet sent), “and the lot fell upon Matthias: and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles.” (v. 26.)

“Then,” it says, “returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (Recapitulation), “which is nigh to Jerusalem, at the distance of a sabbath-day’s journey:” so that there was no long way to go, to be a cause of alarm to them while yet trembling and fearful. “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room.” They durst not appear in the town. They also did well to go up into an upper room, as it became less easy to arrest them at once. “And they continued,” it is said, “with one accord in prayer.” Do you see how watchful they were? “Continuing in prayer,” and “with one accord,” as it were with one soul, continuing therein: two things reported in their praise. “Where they were abiding,” etc., to, “And Mary the Mother of Jesus and His brethren.” Now Joseph perhaps was dead: for it is not to be supposed that when the brethren had become believers, Joseph believed not; he who in fact had believed before any. Certain it is that we nowhere find him looking upon Christ as man merely. As where His mother said, “Thy father and I did seek thee sorrowing.” (Luke 2. 48.) And upon another occasion, it was said, “Thy mother and thy brethren seek thee.” (Matt. 13. 47.) So that Joseph knew this before all others. And to them the brethren Christ said, “The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth. (John 7. 7.)

Again, consider the moderation of James. He it was who received the Bishopric of Jerusalem, and here he says nothing. Mark also the great moderation of the other Apostles, how they concede the throne to him, and no longer dispute with each other. For that Church was as it were in heaven: having nothing to do with this world’s affairs: and resplendent not with wails, no, nor with numbers, but with the zeal of them that formed the assembly. They were “about an hundred and twenty,” it says. The seventy perhaps whom Christ Himself had chosen, and other of the more earnest-minded disciples, as Joseph and Matthias. (v. 14.) There were women, he says, many, who followed Him. (Mark 15. 41.) “The number of the names together. Together” they were on all occasions.

“Men and brethren,” etc. Here is forethought for providing a teacher; here was the first who ordained a teacher. He did not say, ‘We are sufficient.’ So far was he beyond all vain-glory, and he looked to one thing alone. And yet he had the same power to ordain as they all collectively. But well might these things be done in this fashion, through the noble spirit of the man, and because prelacy then was not an affair of dignity, but of provident care for the governed. This neither made the elected to become elated, for it was to dangers that they were called, nor those not elected to make a grievance of it, as if they were disgraced. But things are not done in this fashion now; nay, quite the contrary.—For observe, they were an hundred and twenty, and he asks for one out of the whole body: with good right, as having been put in charge of them: for to him had Christ said, “And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22. 32, Ben.)

“For he was numbered with us,” (πρὥτος τοῦ πράγματος αὐθεντει absent from A.B.C ) says Peter. On this account it behooves to propose another; to be a witness in his place. And see how he imitates his Master, ever discoursing from the Scriptures, and saying nothing as yet concerning Christ; namely, that He had frequently predicted this Himself. Nor does he mention where the Scripture speaks of the treachery of Judas; for instance, “The mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me” (Ps. cix. 1.); but where it speaks only of his punishment; for this was most to their advantage. It shows again the benevolence of the Lord: “For he was numbered with us” (τοὕτο γὰρ αὐτοὺς μάλιστα ὡφέλει· Δείκνυσι πάλιν A.B.C ), he says, “and obtained his lot of this ministry.” He calls it everywhere “lot,” showing that the whole is from God’s grace and election, and reminding them of the old times, inasmuch as God chose him into His own lot or portion, as of old He took the Levites. He also dwells upon the circumstances respecting Judas, showing that the reward of the treachery was made itself the herald of the punishment. For he “acquired,” he says, “a field out of the reward of the iniquity.” Observe the divine economy in the event. “Of the iniquity,” he says. For there are many iniquities, but never was anything more iniquitous than this: so that the affair was one of iniquity. Now not only to those who were present did the event become known, but to all thereafter, so that without meaning or knowing what they were about, they gave it a name; just as Caiaphas had prophesied unconsciously. God compelled them to call the field in Hebrew “Aceldama.” (Matt. 26. 24.) By this also the evils which were to come upon the Jews were declared: and Peter shows the prophecy to have been so far in part fulfilled, which says, “It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” We may with propriety apply this same to the Jews likewise; for if he who was guide suffered thus, much more they. Thus far however Peter says nothing of this. Then, showing that the term, “Aceldama,” might well be applied to his fate, he introduces the prophet, saying, “Let his habitation be desolate.” For what can be worse desolation than to become a place of burial? And the field may well be called his. For he who cast down the price, although others were the buyers, has a right to be himself reckoned owner of a great desolation. This desolation was the prelude to that of the Jews, as will appear on looking closely into the facts. For indeed they destroyed themselves by famine, and killed many, and the city became a burial-place of strangers, of soldiers,for as to those, they would not even have let them be buried, for in fact they were not deemed worthy of sepulture.

“Wherefore of these men which have companied with us,” continues Peter. Observe how desirous he is they should be eye-witnesses. It is true indeed that the Spirit would shortly come; and yet great care is shown with regard to this circumstance. “Of these men,” he says, “which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.” He shows that they had dwelt with Christ, not simply been present as disciples. In fact, from the very beginning there were many that then followed Him. Observe, for instance, how this appears in these words: “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Jesus.—All the time,” he says, “that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John.” (John 40.) True! for no one knew what preceded that event, though they did learn it by the Spirit. “Unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.” He said not, a witness of the rest of his actions, but a witness of the resurrection alone. For indeed that witness had a better right to be believed, who was able to declare, that He Who ate and drank, and was crucified, the same rose again. Wherefore it was needed that he should be a witness, not only of the time preceding this event, nor only of what followed it, and of the miracles; the thing required was, the resurrection. For the other matters were manifest and acknowledged, but the resurrection took place in secret, and was manifest to these only. And they do not say, Angels have told us; but, We have seen. For this it was that was most needful at that time: that they should be men having a right to be believed, because they had seen.

“And they appointed two,” it is said. Why not many? That the feeling of disappointment might not reach further, extending to many. Again, it is not without reason that he puts Matthias last; he would show, that frequently he that is honourable among men, is inferior before God. And they all pray in common saying, “Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show. Thou,” not “We.” And very seasonably they use the epithet, “heart-knowing:” for by Him Who is this must the choice be made. So confident were they, that assuredly one of them must be appointed. They said not, Choose, but, “Show the chosen one;” knowing that all things were foreordained of God; “Whom Thou didst choose: one of these two,” say they, “to have his lot in this ministry and apostleship.” For there was besides another ministry (διακονία). “And they gave them their lots.” For they did not yet consider themselves to be worthy to be informed by some sign. And besides, if in a case where neither prayer was made, nor men of worth were the agents, the casting of lots so much availed, because it was done of a right intention, I mean in the case of Jonah (Jonah 7); much more did it here. Thus, did he, the designated, fill up the company, complete the order: but the other candidate was not annoyed; for the apostolic writers would not have concealed that or any other failings of their own, seeing they have told of the very chief Apostles, that on other occasions they had indignation (Matt. 20. 24; Matt. 26. 8), and this not once only, but again and again.

Let us then also imitate them. And now I address no longer every one, but those who aim at preferment. If thou believest that the election is with God, be not displeased. (Mark 10. 14, 214. 4.) For it is with Him thou art displeased, and with Him thou art exasperated: it is He who has made the choice; thou doest the very thing that Cain did; because, forsooth, his brother’s sacrifice was preferred, he was indignant, when he ought to have felt compunction. However, that is not what I mean here; but this, that God knows how to dispense things for the best. In many cases, thou art in point of disposition more estimable than the other but not the fit person. Besides, on the other hand, thy life is irreproachable, and thy habits those of a well-nurtured man, but in the Church this is not all that is wanted. Moreover, one man is adapted for one thing, another for another. Do you not observe, how much discourse the holy Scripture has made on this matter? But let me say why it is that the thing has become a subject of competition: it is because we come to the Episcopate not as unto a work of governing and superintending the brethren, but as to a post of dignity and repose. Did you but know that a Bishop is bound to belong to all, to bear the burden of all; that others, if they are angry, are pardoned, but he never; that others, if they sin, have excuses made for them, he has none; you would not be eager for the dignity, would not run after it. So it is, the Bishop is exposed to the tongues of all, to the criticism of all, whether they be wise or fools. He is harassed with cares every day, nay, every night. He has many to hate him, many to envy him. Talk not to me of those who curry favor with all, of those who desire to sleep, of those who advance to this office as for repose. We have nothing to do with these; we speak of those who watch for your souls, who consider the safety and welfare of those under them before their own. Tell me now: suppose a man has ten children, always living with him, and constantly under his control; yet is he solicitous about them; and a bishop, who has such numbers, not living under the same roof with him, but owing obedience to his authority—what does he not need to be! But he is honored, you will say. With what sort of honor, indeed! Why, the paupers and beggars abuse him openly in the market-place. And why does he not stop their mouths then? Yes, very proper work, this, for a bishop, is it not? Then again, if he do not give to all, the idle and the industrious alike, lo! a thousand complaints on all sides. None is afraid to accuse him, and speak evil of him. In the case of civil governors, fear steps in; with bishops, nothing of the kind. As for the fear of God, it does not influence people, as regards them, in the least degree. Why speak of the anxiety connected with the word and doctrine? the painful work in Ordinations? Either, perhaps, I am a poor wretched incompetent creature, or else, the case is as I say. The soul of a Bishop is for all the world like a vessel in a storm: lashed from every side, by friends, by foes, by one’s own people, by strangers. Does not the Emperor rule the whole world, the Bishop a single city? Yet a Bishop’s anxieties are as much beyond those of the emperor, as the waters of a river simply moved, by the wind are surpassed in agitation by the swelling and raging sea. And why? because in the one case there are many to lend a hand, for all goes on by law and by rule; but in the other there is none of this, nor is there authority to command; but if one be greatly moved, then he is harsh; if the contrary, then he is cold! And in him these opposites must meet, that he may neither be despised, nor be hated. Besides, the very demands of business preoccupy him: how many is he obliged to offend, whether he will or not! How many to be severe with! I speak not otherwise than it is, but as I find it in my own actual experience. I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is, that it is an affair that requires a great mind. Many are the exigencies which throw a man out of his natural temper; and he had need have a thousand eyes on all sides. Do you not see what a number of qualifications the Bishop must have? to be apt to teach, patient, holding fast the faithful word in doctrine (see 1 Tim. 3. 2–9; Tit. 7–9). What trouble and pains does this require! And then, others do wrong, and he bears all the blame. To pass over every thing else: if one soul depart unbaptized, does not this subvert all his own prospect of salvation? The loss of one soul carries with it a penalty which no language can represent. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value, that the Son of God became man, and suffered so much, think how sore a punishment must the losing of it bring! And if in this present life he who is cause of another’s destruction is worthy of death, much more in the next world. Do not tell me, that the presbyter is in fault, or the deacon. The guilt of all these comes perforce upon the head of those who ordained them. Let me mention another instance. It chances, that a bishop has inherited from his predecessor a set of persons of indifferent character. What measures is it proper to take in respect of bygone transgressions (for here are two precipices) so as not to let the offender go unpunished, and not to cause scandal to the rest? Must one’s first step be to cut him off? There is no actual present ground for that. But is it right to let him go unmarked? Yes, say you; for the fault rests with the bishop who ordained him. Well then? must one refuse to ordain him again, and to raise him to a higher degree of the ministry? That would be to publish it to all men, that he is a person of indifferent character, and so again one would cause scandal in a different way. But is one to promote him to a higher degree? That is much worse.

If then there were only the responsibility of the office itself for people to run after in the episcopate, none would be so quick to accept it. But as things go, we run after this, just as we do after the dignities of the world. That we may have glory with men, we lose ourselves with God. What profit in such honor? How self-evident its nothingness is! When you covet the episcopal rank, put in the other scale, the account to be rendered after this life. Weigh against it, the happiness of a life free from toil, take into account the different measure of the punishment. I mean, that even if you have sinned, but in your own person merely, you will have no such great punishment, nothing like it: but if you have sinned as bishop, you are lost. Remember what Moses endured, what wisdom he displayed, what good deeds he exhibited: but, for committing one sin only, he was bitterly punished; and with good reason; for this fault was attended with injury to the rest. Not in regard that the sin was public, but because it was the sin of a spiritual Ruler (ίερέως) cf. S.); for in truth we do not pay the same penalty for public and for hidden faults. (Aug in Ps. xcix. 6.) The sin may be the same, but not the (ζημία) harm of it; nay, not the sin itself; for it is not the same thing to sin in secret and unseen, and to sin openly. But the bishop cannot sin unobserved. Well for him if he escape reproach, though he sin not; much less can he think to escape notice, if he do sin. Let him be angry, let him laugh, or let him but dream of a moment’s relaxation, many are they that scoff, many that are offended, many that lay down the law, many that bring to mind the former bishops, and abuse the present one; not that they wish to sound the praise of those; no, it is only to carp at him that they bring up the mention of fellow-bishops, of presbyters. Sweet, says the proverb, is war to the inexperienced; but it may rather be said now, that even after one has come out of it, people in general have seen nothing of it: for in their eyes it is not war, but like those shepherds in Ezekiel, we slay and devour. (Ezek. xxxiv. 2.) Which of us has it in his power to show that he has taken as much care for the flocks of Christ, as Jacob did for Laban’s? (Gen. xxxi. 40.) Which of us can tell of the frost of the night? For talk not to me of vigils, and all that parade.The contrary plainly is the fact. Prefects, and governors (ὕπαρχοι καὶ τοπάρχαι) of provinces, do not enjoy such honour as he that governs the Church. If he enter the palace, who but he is first? If he go to see ladies, or visit the houses of the great, none is preferred to him. The whole state of things is ruined and corrupt. I do not speak thus as wishing to put us bishops to shame, but to repress your hankering after the office. For with what conscience, (even should you succeed in becoming a bishop, having made interest for it either in person or by another), with what eyes will you look the man in the face who worked with you to that end? What will you have to plead for your excuse? For he that unwillingly, by compulsion and not with his own consent, was raised to the office, may have something to say for himself, though for the most part even such an one has no pardon to expect, and yet truly he so far has something to plead in excuse. Think how it fared with Simon Magus. What signifies it that you give not money, if, in place of money, you pay court, you lay many plans, you set engines to work? “Thy money perish with thee!” (Acts 8. 20.) Thus was it said to him, and thus will it be said to these: your canvassing perish with you, because you have thought to purchase the gift of God by human intrigue! But there is none such here? And God forbid there should be! For it is not that I wish any thing of what I have been saying to be applicable to you: but just now the connexion has led us on to these topics. In like manner when we talk against covetousness, we are not preaching at you, no, nor against any one man personally. God grant it may be the case, that these remedies were prepared by us without necessity. The wish of the physician is, that after all his pains, his drugs may be thrown away because not wanted: and this is just what we desire, that our words may not have been needed, and so have been spoken to the wind, so as to be but words. I am ready to submit to anything, rather than be reduced to the necessity of using this language. But if you like, we are ready to leave off; only let our silence be without bad effects. No one, I imagine, though he were ever so vainglorious, would wish to make a display of severity, when there is nothing to call for it. I will leave the teaching to you: for that is the best teaching, which teaches by actions. For indeed the best physicians, although the sickness of their patients brings them in fees, would rather their friends were well. And so we too wish all to be well. (2 Cor. 13. 7.) It is not that we desire to be approved, and you reproved. I would gladly manifest, if it were possible, with my very eyes, the love which I bear to you: for then no one would be able to reproach me, though my language were ever so rough. “For speech of friends, yea, were it insult, can be borne;” more “faithful are the wounds of a friend, rather than the ready kisses of an enemy. (Prov. xxvii. 6.) There nothing I love more than you, no, not even light itself. I would gladly have my eyes put out ten thousand times over, if it were possible by this means to convert your souls; so much is your salvation dearer to me than light itself. For what profit to me in the rays of the sun, when despondency on your account makes it all thick darkness before my eyes? Light is good when it shines in cheerfulness, to a sorrowful heart it seems even to be a trouble. How true this is, may you never learn by experience! However, if it happen to any of you to fall into sin, just stand by my bedside, when I am laid down to rest and should be asleep; see whether I am not like a palsied man, like one beside himself, and, in the language of the prophet, “the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. (Ps. xxxviii. 10.) For where is our hope, if you do not make progress? where our despondency, if you do excellently? I seem to have wings, when I hear any thing good of you. “Fulfil ye my joy.” (Phil. 2. 2.) This one thing is the burden of my prayers, that I long for your advancement. But that in which I strive with all is this, that I love you, that I am wrapped up in you, that you are my all, father, mother, brethren, children. Think not then that any thing that has been said was said in a hostile spirit, nay, it is for your amendment. It is written “A brother assisted by his brother is as a strong city.” (Prov. 18. 19.) Then do not take it in disdain: for neither do I undervalue what you have to say. I should wish even to be set right by you. For all (Edd. ‘all we’) ye are brethren, and One is our Master: yet even among brothers it is for one to direct, while the others obey. Then disdain it not, but let us do all to the glory of God, for to Him belongs glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 
1 - 4 Acts 2. 2 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven.”

Dost thou perceive the type? What is this Pentecost? The time when the sickle was to be put to the harvest, and the ingathering was made. See now the reality, when the time was come to put in the sickle of the word: for here, as the sickle, keen-edged, came the Spirit down. For hear the words of Christ: “Lift up your eyes,” He said, “and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4. 35.) And again, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.” (Matt. 9. 38.) But as the first-fruits of this harvest, He himself took our nature, and bore it up on high. Himself first put in the sickle. Therefore also He calls the Word the Seed. “When,” it says, “the day of Pentecost was fully come” (Luke 8. 5, that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven.” (v. 2.) Why did this not come to pass without sensible tokens? For this reason. If even when the fact was such, men said, “They are full of new wine,” what would they not have said, had it been otherwise? And it is not merely, “there came a sound,” but, “from heaven.” And the suddenness also startled them, and brought all together to the spot. “As of a rushing mighty wind:” this betokens the exceeding vehemence of the Spirit. “And it filled all the house:” insomuch that those present both believed, and (Edd. τούτους) in this manner were shown to be worthy. Nor is this all; but what is more awful still, “And there appeared unto them,” it says, “cloven tongues like as of fire.” (v. 3.) Observe how it is always, “like as;” and rightly: that you may have no gross sensible notions of the Spirit. Also, “as it were of a blast:” therefore it was not a wind. “Like as of fire.” For when the Spirit was to be made known to John, then it came upon the head of Christ as in the form of a dove: but now, when a whole multitude was to be converted, it is “like as of fire. And it sat upon each of them.” This means, that it remained and rested upon them.” For the sitting is significant of settledness and continuance.

Was it upon the twelve that it came? Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Joel 2. 28.) “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” (v. 4.) For, that the effect may not be to frighten only, therefore is it both “with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Matt. 3. 11.) They receive no other sign, but this first; for it was new to them, and there was no need of any other sign. “And it sat upon each of them,” says the writer. Observe now, how there is no longer any occasion for that person to grieve, who was not elected as was Matthias, “And they were all filled,” he says; not merely received the grace of the Spirit, but “were filled. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” It would not have been said, All, the Apostles also being there present, unless the rest also were partakers. For were it not so, having above made mention of the Apostles distinctively and by name, he would not now have put them all in one with the rest. For if, where it was only to be mentioned that they were present, he makes mention of the Apostles apart, much more would he have done so in the case here supposed. Observe, how when one is continuing in prayer, when one is in charity, then it is that the Spirit draws near. It put them in mind also of another vision: for as fire did He appear also in the bush. “As the Spirit gave them utterance, ἀποφθέγγεσθαι (Exod. 3. 2.) For the things spoken by them were ἀποφθέγματα, profound utterances. “And,” it says, “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men.” (v. 5.) The fact of their dwelling there was a sign of piety: that being of so many nations they should have left country, and home, and relations, and be abiding there. For, it says, “There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded. (v. 6.) Since the event had taken place in a house, of course they came together from without. The multitude was confounded: was all in commotion. They marvelled; “Because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were amazed,” it says, “and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?” (v. 7–13.) They immediately turned their eyes towards the Apostles. “And how” (it follows) “hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene:” mark how they run from east to west: “and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And, they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” O the excessive folly! O the excessive malignity! Why it was not even the season for that; for it was Pentecost. For this was what made it worse: that when those were confessing—men that were Jews, that were Romans, that were proselytes, yea perhaps that had crucified Him—yet these, after so great signs, say, “They are full of new wine!”

But let us look over what has been said from the beginning. (Recapitulation.) “And when the day of Pentecost,” etc. “It filled,” he says, “the house.” That wind πνοὴ was a very pool of water. This betokened the copiousness, as the fire did the vehemence. This nowhere happened in the case of the Prophets: for to uninebriated souls such accesses are not attended with much disturbance; but “when they have well drunken,” then indeed it is as here, but with the Prophets it is otherwise. (Ez. 3. 3.) The roll of a book is given him, and Ezekiel ate what he was about to utter. “And it became in his mouth,” it is said, “as honey for sweetness.” (And again the hand of God touches the tongue of another Prophet; but here it is the Holy Ghost Himself: (Jer. 9) so equal is He in honor with the Father and the Son.) And again, on the other hand, Ezekiel calls it “Lamentations, and mourning, and woe.” (Ez. 2. 10.) To them it might well be in the form of a book; for they still needed similitudes. Those had to deal with only one nation, and with their own people; but these with the whole world, and with men whom they never knew. Also Elisha receives the grace through the medium of a mantle (2 Kings xiii.); another by oil, as David (1 Sam. 16. and Moses by fire, as we read of him at the bush. (Exod. 3. 2.) But in the present case it is not so; for the fire itself sat upon them. (But wherefore did the fire not appear so as to fill the house? Because they would have been terrified.) But the story shows, that it is the same here as there. For you are not to stop at this, that “there appeared unto them cloven tongues,” but note that they were “of fire.” Such a fire as this is able to kindle infinite fuel. Also, it is well said, Cloven, for they were from one root; that you may learn, that it was an operation sent from the Comforter.

But observe how those men also were first shown to be worthy, and then received the Spirit as worthy. Thus, for instance, David: what he did among the sheepfolds, the same he did after his victory and trophy; that it might be shown how simple and absolute was his faith. Again, see Moses despising royalty, and forsaking all, and after forty years taking the lead of the people (Exod. 2. and Samuel occupied there in the temple (1 Sam. 3. ; Elisha leaving all (1 Kings 14. 2; Ezekiel again, made manifest by what happened thereafter. In this manner, you see, did these also leave all that they had. They learnt also what human infirmity is, by what they suffered; they learnt that it was not in vain they had done these good works. (1 Sam. 9. and 16.) Even Saul, having first obtained witness that he was good, thereafter received the Spirit. But in the same manner as here did none of them receive. Thus Moses was the greatest of the Prophets, yet he, when others were to receive the Spirit, himself suffered diminution. But here it is not so; but just as fire kindles as many flames as it will, so here the largeness of the Spirit was shown, in that each one received a fountain of the Spirit; as indeed He Himself had foretold, that those who believe in Him, should have “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4. 14.) And good reason that it should be so. For they did not go forth to argue with Pharaoh, but to wrestle with the devil. But the wonder is this, that when sent they made no objections; they said not, they were “weak in voice, and of a slow tongue.” (Exod. 4. 10.) For Moses had taught them better. They said not, they were too young. (Jer. 6.) Jeremiah had made them wise. And yet they had heard of many fearful things, and much greater than were theirs of old time; but they feared to object.—And because they were angels of light, and ministers of things above “Suddenly there came from heaven,” etc. To them of old, no one “from heaven” appears, while they as yet follow after a vocation on earth; but now that Man has gone up on high, the Spirit also descends mightily from on high. “As it were a rushing mighty wind;” making it manifest by this, that nothing shall be able to withstand them, but they shall blow away all adversaries like a heap of dust. “And it filled all the house.” The house also was a symbol of the world. “And it sat upon each of them,” etc. and “the multitude came together, and were confounded.” Observe their piety; they pronounce no hasty judgment, but are perplexed: whereas those reckless ones pronounce at once, saying, “These men are full of new wine.” Now it was in order that they might have it in their power, in compliance with the Law, to appear thrice in the year in the Temple, that they dwelt there, these “devout men from all nations.” Observe here, the writer has no intention of flattering them. For he does not say that they pronounced any opinion: but what? “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded.” And well they might be; for they supposed the matter was now coming to an issue against them, on account of the outrage committed against Christ. Conscience also agitated their souls, the very blood being yet upon their hands, and every thing alarmed them. “Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?” For indeed this was confessed. “And how hear we” so much did the sound alarm them. “Every man in our own tongue,” etc. for it found the greater part of the world assembled there. “Parthians and Medes,” etc. This nerved the Apostles: for, what it was to speak in the Parthian tongue, they knew not but now learnt from what those said. Here is mention made of nations that were hostile to them, Cretans, Arabians, Egyptians, Persians: and that they would conquer them all was here made manifest. But as to their being in those countries, they were there in captivity, many of them: or else, the doctrines of the Law had become disseminated among the Gentiles in those countries. So then the testimony comes from all quarters: from citizens, from foreigners, from proselytes. “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” For it was not only that they spoke (in their tongues), but the things they spoke were wonderful. Well then might they be in doubt: for never had the like occurred. Observe the ingenuousness of these men. They were amazed and were in doubt, saying, “What meaneth this?” But “others mocking said, ‘These men are full of new wine’” (John 8. 48), and therefore mocked. O the effrontery! And what wonder is it? Since even of the Lord Himself, when casting out devils, they said that He had a devil! For so it is; wherever impudent assurance exists, it has but one object in view, to speak at all hazards, it cares not what; not that the man should say something real and relevant to the matter of discourse, but that he should speak no matter what. “They are full of new wine.” Quite a thing of course (is not it?), that men in the midst of such dangers, and dreading the worst, and in such despondency, have the courage to utter such things! And observe: since this was unlikely; because they would not have been drinking much at that early hour, they ascribe the whole matter to the quality (of the wine), and say, “They are full” of it. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them.” In a former place you saw his provident forethought, here you see his manly courage. For if they were astonished and amazed, was it not as wonderful that he should be able in the midst of such a multitude to find language, he, an unlettered and ignorant man? If a man is troubled when he speaks among friends, much more might he be troubled among enemies and bloodthirsty men. That they are not drunken, he shows immediately by his very voice, that they are not beside themselves, as the soothsayers: and this too, that they were not constrained by some compulsory force. What is meant by, “with the eleven?” They expressed themselves through one common voice, and he was the mouth of all. The eleven stood by as witnesses to what he said. “He lifted up his voice,” it is said. That is, he spoke with great confidence, that they might perceive the grace of the Spirit. He who had not endured the questioning of a poor girl, now in the midst of the people, all breathing murder, discourses with such confidence, that this very thing becomes an unquestionable proof of the Resurrection: in the midst of men who could deride and make a joke of such things as these! What effrontery, think you, must go to that! what impiety, what shamelessness! For wherever the Holy Spirit is present, He makes men of gold out of men of clay. Look, I pray you, at Peter now: examine well that timid one, and devoid of understanding; as Christ said, “Are ye also yet without understanding?” (Matt. 15. 16) the man, who after that marvellous confession was called “Satan.” (Ib. 16. 23.) Consider also the unanimity of the Apostles. They themselves ceded to him the office of speaking; for it was not necessary that all should speak. “And he lifted up his voice,” and spoke out to them with great boldness. Such a thing it is to be a spiritual man! Only let us also bring ourselves into a state meet for the grace from above, and all becomes easy. For as a man of fire falling into the midst of straw would take no harm, but do it to others: not he could take any harm, but they, in assailing him, destroy themselves. For the case here was just as if one carrying hay should attack one bearing fire: even so did the Apostles encounter these their adversaries with great boldness.

For what did it harm them, though they were so great a multitude? Did they not spend all their rage? did they not turn the distress upon themselves? Of all mankind were ever any so possessed with both rage and terror, as those became possessed? Were they not in an agony, and were dismayed, and trembled? For hear what they say, “Do ye wish to bring this man’s blood upon us?” (Acts 5. 28.) Did they (the Apostles) not fight against poverty and hunger: against ignominy and infamy (for they were accounted deceivers): did they not fight against ridicule and wrath and mockery?—for in their case the contraries met: some laughed at them, others punished them;—were they not made a mark for the wrathful passions, and for the merriment, of whole cities? exposed to factions and conspiracies: to fire, and sword, and wild beasts? Did not war beset them from every quarter, in ten thousand forms? And were they any more affected in their minds by all these things, than they would have been at seeing them in a dream or in a picture? With bare body they took the field against all the armed, though against them all men had arbitrary power against them, were: terrors of rulers, force of arms, in cities and strong walls: without experience, without skill of the tongue, and in the condition of quite ordinary men, matched against juggling conjurors, against impostors, against the whole throng of sophists, of rhetoricians, of philosophers grown mouldy in the Academy and the walks of the Peripatetics, against all these they fought the battle out. And the man whose occupation had been about lakes, so mastered them, as if it cost him not so much ado as even a contest with dumb fishes: for just as if the opponents he had to outwit were indeed more mute than fishes, so easily did he get the better of them! And Plato, that talked a deal of nonsense in his day, is silent now, while this man utters his voice everywhere; not among his own countrymen alone, but also among Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and in India, and in every part of the earth, and to the extremities of the world. Where now is Greece, with her big pretentions? Where the name of Athens? Where the ravings of the philosophers? He of Galilee, he of Bethsaida, he, the uncouth rustic, has overcome them all. Are you not ashamed—confess it—at the very name of the country of him who has defeated you? But if you hear his own name too, and learn that he was called Cephas, much more will you hide your faces. This, this has undone you quite; because you esteem this a reproach, and account glibness of tongue a praise, and want of glibness a disgrace. You have not followed the road you ought to have chosen, but leaving the royal road, so easy, so smooth, you have trodden one rough, and steep, and laborious. And therefore you have not attained unto the kingdom of heaven.

Why then, it is asked, did not Christ exercise His influence upon Plato, and upon Pythagoras? Because the mind of Peter was much more philosophical than their minds. They were in truth children shifted about on all sides by vain glory; but this man was a philosopher, one apt to receive grace. If you laugh at these words, it is no wonder; for those aforetime laughed, and said, the men were full of new wine. But afterwards, when they suffered those bitter calamities, exceeding all others in misery; when they saw their city falling in ruins, and the fire blazing, and the walls hurled to the ground, and those manifold frantic horrors, which no one can find words to express, they did not laugh then. And you will laugh then, if you have the mind to laugh, when the time of hell is close at hand, when the fire is kindled for your souls. But why do I speak of the future? Shall I show you what Peter is, and what Plato, the philosopher? Let us for the present examine their respective habits, let us see what were the pursuits of each. The one wasted his time about a set of idle and useless dogmas, and philosophical, as he says, that we may learn that the soul of our philosopher becomes a fly. Most truly said, a fly! not indeed changed into one, but a fly must have entered upon possession of the soul which dwelt in Plato; for what but a fly is worthy of such ideas! The man was full of irony, and of jealous feelings against every one else, as if he made it his ambition to introduce nothing useful, either out of his own head or other people’s. Thus he adopted the metempsychosis from another, and from himself produced the Republic, in which he enacted those laws full of gross turpitude. Let the women, he says, be in common, and let the virgins go naked, and let them wrestle before the eyes of their lovers, and let there also be common fathers, and let the children begotten be common. But with us, not nature makes common fathers, but the philosophy of Peter does this; as for that other, it made away with all paternity. For Plato’s system only tended to make the real father next to unknown, while the false one was introduced. It plunged the soul into a kind of intoxication and filthy wallowing. Let all, he says, have intercourse with the women without fear. The reason why I do not examine the maxims of poets, is, that I may not be charged with ripping up fables. And yet I am speaking of fables much more ridiculous than even those. Where have the poets devised aught so portentous as this? But (not to enter into the discussion of his other maxims), what say you to these—when he equips the females with arms, and helmets, and greaves, and says that the human race has no occasion to differ from the canine! Since dogs, he says, the female and the male, do just the same things in common, so let the women do the same works as the men, and let all be turned upside down. For the devil has always endeavored by their means to show that our race is not more honorable than that of brutes; and, in fact, some have gone to such a pitch of (κενοδοξίας) absurdity, as to affirm that the irrational creatures are endued with reason. And see in how many various ways he has run riot in the minds of those men! For whereas their leading men affirmed that our soul passes into flies, and dogs, and brute creatures; those who came after them, being ashamed of this, fell into another kind of turpitude, and invested the brute creatures with all rational science, and made out that the creatures—which were called into existence on our account—are in all respects more honorable than we! They even attribute to them foreknowledge and piety. The crow, they say, knows God, and the raven likewise, and they possess gifts of prophecy, and foretell the future; there is justice among them, and polity, and laws. Perhaps you do not credit the things I am telling you. And well may you not, nurtured as you have been with sound doctrine; since also, if a man were fed with this fare, he would never believe that there exists a human being who finds pleasure in eating dung. The dog also among them is jealous, according to Plato. But when we tell them that these things are fables, and are full of absurdity, ‘You do not enter (ἐνοήσατε) into the higher meaning,’ say they. No, we do not enter into this your surpassing nonsense, and may we never do so: for it requires (of course!) an excessively profound mind, to inform me, what all this impiety and confusion would be at. Are you talking, senseless men, in the language of crows, as the children are wont (in play)? For you are in very deed children, even as they. But Peter never thought of saying any of these things: he uttered a voice, like a great light shining out in the dark, a voice which scattered the mist and darkness of the whole world. Again, his deportment, how gentle it was, how considerate (ἐπιεικὲς); how far above all vainglory; how he looked towards heaven without all self-elation, and this, even when raising up the dead! But if it had come to be in the power of any one of those senseless people (in mere fantasy of course) to do anything like it, would he not straightway have looked for an altar and a temple to be reared to him, and have wanted to be equal with the gods? since in fact when no such sign is forthcoming, they are forever indulging such fantastic conceits. And what, pray you, is that Minerva of theirs, and Apollo, and Juno? They are different kinds of demons among them. And there is a king of theirs, who thinks fit to die for the mere purpose of being accounted equal with the gods. But not so the men here: no, just the contrary. Hear how they speak on the occasion of the lame man’s cure. “Ye men of Israel, why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk? (ch. 3. 12.) We also are men of like passions with you. (Ibid. 14. 14.) But with those, great is the self-elation, great the bragging; all for the sake of men’s honors, nothing for the pure love of truth and virtue. (φιλοσοφίας ἔνεκεν.) For where an action is done for glory, all is worthless. For though a man possess all, yet if he have not the mastery over this (lust), he forfeits all claim to true philosophy, he is in bondage to the more tyrannical and shameful passion. Contempt of glory; this it is that is sufficient to teach all that is good, and to banish from the soul every pernicious passion. I exhort you therefore to use the most strenuous endeavors to pluck out this passion by the very roots; by no other means can you have good esteem with God, and draw down upon you the benevolent regard of that Eye which never sleepeth. Wherefore, let us use all earnestness to obtain the enjoyment of that heavenly influence, and thus both escape the trial of present evils, and attain unto the future blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and to all ages. Amen.

 
1 - 5 Acts 2. “Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.”

“Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem,” whom the writer above described as strangers. Here he directs his discourse to those others, the mockers, and while he seems to reason with those, he sets these right. For indeed it was divinely ordered that “some mocked,” that he might have a starting-point for his defence, and by means of that defence, might teach. “And all ye that dwell in Jerusalem.” It seems they accounted it a high encomium to dwell in Jerusalem too. “Be this,” says he, “known unto you, and hearken unto my words.” In the first instance he made them more disposed to attend to him. “For not as ye suppose,” says he, “are these drunken.” Do you observe the mildness of his defence? (v. 15.) Although having the greater part of the people on his side, he reasons with those others gently; first he removes the evil surmise, and then he establishes his apology. On this account, therefore, he does not say, “as ye mock,” or, “as ye deride,” but, “as ye suppose;” wishing to make it appear that they had not said this in earnest, and for the present taxing them with ignorance rather than with malice. “For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” And why this? Is it not possible at the third hour to be drunken? But he did not insist upon this to the letter; for there was nothing of the kind about them; the others said it only in mockery. Hence we learn that on unessential points one must not spend many words. And besides, the sequel is enough to bear him out on this point: so now the discourse is for all in common. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God. (v. 16, 17. Joel 2. 28.) Nowhere as yet the name of Christ, nor His promises but the promise is that of the Father. Observe the wisdom: observe the considerate forbearance: (συγκατάβασιν.) He did not pass on to speak at once of the things relating to Christ; that He had promised this after His Crucifixion; truly that would have been to upset all. And yet, you will say, here was sufficient to prove His divinity. True, it was, if believed (and the very point was that it should be believed); but if not believed, it would have caused them to be stoned. “And I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.” He offers even to them excellent hopes, if they would have them. And so far, he does not leave it to be regarded as the exclusive advantage of himself and his company; which would have made them be looked upon with an evil eye; thus cutting off all envious feeling. “And your sons shall prophesy.” And yet, he says, not yours this achievement, this distinction; the gift has passed over to your children. Himself and his company he calls their sons, and those whom he is addressing he calls his and their fathers. “And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” So far he shows that he and his have found favor, in that they had received (καταξιωθέντας) the Spirit; not so they whom he is addressing; for that they had crucified the Lord. So Christ also, willing to mitigate their wrath, said, “By whom do your sons cast out devils?” (Matt. 12. 27.) He did not say, My disciples; for indeed it seemed a flattering mode of expression. And so Peter also did not say, ‘They are not drunk, but speak by the Spirit:’ but he takes refuge with the prophet, and under shelter of him, so speaks. As for the accusation of drunkenness, he cleared himself of that by his own assertion; but for the grace, he fetches the prophet as witness. “I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.” “And your sons,” etc. To some the grace was imparted through dreams, to others it was openly poured forth. For indeed by dreams the prophets saw, and received revelations.

Then he goes on with the prophecy, which has in it also something terrible. “And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs” “in the earth beneath”. (v. 19.) In these words he speaks both of the judgment to come, and of the taking of Jerusalem. “Blood and fire, and vapor of smoke.” Observe how he describes the capture. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood.” (v. 20.) This results from the (διαθέσεως) internal affection of the sufferers. It is said, indeed, that many such phenomena actually did occur in the sky, as Josephus attests. At the same time the Apostle strikes fear into them, by reminding them of the darkness which had lately occurred, and leading them to expect things to come. “Before that great and notable day of the Lord come.” For be not confident, he means to say, because at present you sin with impunity. For these things are the prelude of a certain great and dreadful day. Do you see how he made their souls to quake and melt within them, and turned their laughter into pleading for acquittal? For if these things are the prelude of that day, it follows that the extreme of danger is impending. But what next? He again lets them take breath, adding, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Rom. 10. 13.) This is said concerning Christ, as Paul affirms, but Peter does not venture as yet to reveal this.

Well, let us look over again what has been said. It is well managed, that as against men laughing and mocking, he starts up and begins with, “Be this known unto you all and hearken unto my words.” But he begins by saying, “Ye men of Judea.” By the expression ᾽Ιουδαἵοι, I take him to mean those that lived in Judea.—And, if you please, let us compare those expressions in the Gospel, that you may learn what a sudden change has taken place in Peter. “A damsel,” it is written, “came out unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.” And, says he, “I know not the Man.” And being again questioned, “he began to curse and to swear.” (Matt. 26. 69–72.) But see here his boldness, and his great freedom of speech.—He did not praise those who had said, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God;” but by his severity towards those others, he made these more earnest, and at the same time his address is clear from all appearance of adulation. And it is well to remark, on all occasions, however the Apostles may condescend to the level of their hearers (συγκατάβασις), their language is clear from all appearance both of adulation and of insolence: which is a difficult point to manage.

Now that these things should have occurred at “the third hour,” was not without cause. For the brightness of this fire is shown at the very time when people are not engaged in their works, nor at dinner; when it is bright day, when all are in the market-place. Do you observe also the freedom which fills his speech? “And hearken to my words.” And he added nothing, but, “This,” says he, “is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days.” He shows, in fact, that the consummation is nigh at hand, and the words, “In the last days,” have a kind of emphasis. “I will pour out,” etc. And then, that he may not seem to limit the privilege to the sons only, he subjoins, “And your old men shall dream dreams.” Mark the sequence. First sons; just as David said, “Instead of thy fathers, were begotten thy sons.” (Ps. xlv. 17.) And again Malachi; “They shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. And on my handmaidens, and on my servants.” (Mal. 4. 6.) This also is a token of excellence, for we have become His servants, by being freed from sin. And great is the gift, since the grace passes over to the other sex also, not as of old, it was limited to just one or two individuals, as Deborah and Huldah. He did not say that it was the Holy Ghost, neither did he expound the words of the prophet; but he merely brings in the prophecy to fight its own battle. As yet also he has said nothing about Judas; and yet it was known to all what a doom and punishment he had undergone; for nothing was more forcible than to argue with them from prophecy: this was more forcible even than facts. For when Christ performed miracles, they often contradicted Him. But when Christ brought forward the prophet, saying, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand,” they were silent, and “no man,” we read, “was able to answer Him a word.” (Ps. xc. 1.) And on all occasions He Himself also appealed to the Scriptures; for instance, “If he called them gods to whom the word of God came.” (John 10. 35.) And in many places one may find this. On this account here also Peter says, “I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh;” that is, upon the Gentiles also. But he does not yet reveal this, nor give interpretations; indeed, it was better not to do so (as also this obscure saying, “I will show wonders in heaven above,” put them the more in fear because it was obscure.) And it would have been more an offence, had it been interpreted from the very first. Then besides, even as plain, he passes over it, wishing to make them regard it as such. But after all, he does interpret to them anon, when he discourses to them upon the resurrection, and after he has paved the way by his discourse. (infra v. 39.) For since the good things were not sufficient to allure them, it is added, “And I will show wonders, etc.”. Yet this has never been fulfilled. For none escaped then in that former judgment, but now the faithful did escape, in Vespasian’s time. And this it is that the Lord speaks of, “Except those days had been shortened, not all flesh should be saved.”—“Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.” (Matt. 24. 22.) The worst to come first; namely, the inhabitants to be taken, and then the city to be razed and burnt. Then he dwelt upon the metaphor, bringing before the eyes of the hearers the overthrow and the taking. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood.” What means, the moon turned into blood? It denotes the excess of the slaughter. The language is fraught with helpless dismay. (supra p. 32.) “And it shall come to pass, every one who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Every one,” he says: though he be priest (but he does not vet reveal the meaning), though bond, though free. For there is no male nor female in Christ Jesus, no bond, no free. (Gal. 3. 28.) Well may it be so, for all these are but shadow. For if in king’s palaces there is no high-born nor low-born, but each appears according to his deeds; and in art, each is shown by his works; much more in that school of wisdom (φιλοσοφια). “Every one who shall invoke.” Invoke: not any how, for it is written, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord:” but with (διαθέσεως) inward earnest affection, with a life more than commonly good, with the confidence which is meet. Thus far, however, he makes the discourse light, by introducing that which relates to faith, and that terrible which relates to the punishment. For in the invocation is the salvation.

What, I pray you, is this you say? Do you talk of salvation for them after the Cross? Bear with me a little. Great is the mercy of God. And this very fact does, no less than the resurrection, prove him to be God, yea, no less than His miracles—the fact that He calls these to Him. For surpassing goodness is, above all things, peculiarly God’s own. Therefore also He says, “None is good save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18. 19.) Only let us not take this goodness for an occasion of negligence. For He also punishes as God. In fact, the very punishments here spoken of, He brought them to pass, even He who said, “Every one who shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” I speak of the fate of Jerusalem; that intolerable punishment: of which I will tell you some few of the particulars, useful to us in our contest, both with the Marcionites and many other heretics. For, since they distinguish between Christ a good God, and that evil God of the Old Testament, let us see who it was that effected these things. The evil God, taking vengeance for Christ? or not so? How then alien to Him? But was it the good God? Nay, but it is demonstrated that both the Father and the Son did these things. The Father in many places; for instance, when He says in the parable of the vineyard, “He will miserably destroy those wicked husbandmen” (Matt. 24; again in the parable of the marriage feast, the King is said to send His armies (ib. 22. 7): and the Son, when He says, “But those Mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me.” (Luke 14. 27.) * * *. And they sent, saying, We will not have Thee to reign over us. Would you like then to hear the things which actually came to pass? Moreover, Christ Himself also speaks of the future tribulations, than which never any thing more dreadful came to pass; never any thing more ruthless, my beloved, than the deeds then done! And He Himself declared it. For what could you wish to see more grievous than these? * * *—probed them with their daggers!— * * * But shall I relate to you the shocking case of the woman, that tragic tale? * * * (Joseph. B. J. 6. 3. 4.) Did not the actual events cast all misery into the shade? But shall I tell you of famines and pestilences? One might speak of horrors without number: nature was unknown; law unknown; they outdid wild beasts in ferocity. True, these miseries came by the fate of wars; but because God, because Christ so willed it to be. These facts will apply both against the Marcionites and against those who do not believe that there is a hell: for they are sufficient to silence their impudence. Are not these calamities more severe than the Babylonian? Are not these sufferings more grievous than the famines of that time? Yes, for “never was the like from the beginning of the world” “no, nor ever shall be such.” (Matt. 24. 21.) And this was Christ’s own declaration. In what sense then, think ye, is it said that Christ remitted them their sin? Perhaps it seems a commonplace question: but do ye solve it.—It is not possible to show anywhere, even in fiction, any thing like what the reality was here. And had it been a Christian that wrote this history, the matter might be regarded with suspicion: but if he was a Jew, and a Jewish zealot, and after the Gospel, how can the meaning of the facts be otherwise than palpable to all men? For you will see the man, how, everywhere, he always extols the concerns of the Jews.—There is therefore a hell, O man! and God is good.—Aye, did you shudder at hearing these horrors? But these, which take place here, are nothing in comparison with what shall be in that world. Once more I am compelled to seem harsh, disagreeable, stern. But what can I do? I am set to this: just as a severe schoolmaster is set to be hated by his scholars: so are we. For would it not be strange indeed, that, while those who have a certain post assigned them by kings do that which is appointed them, however disagreeable the task may be, we, for fear of your censure, should leave our appointed task undone? Another has a different work. Of you, many have it for their work, to show mercy, to act humanely, to be pleasant and agreeable to the persons to whom you are benefactors. But to those to whom we do good, we seem stern and severe, troublesome and disagreeable. For we do good, not by the pleasure we give, but by the pain we inflict. So it is also with the physician: though he indeed is not excessively disagreeable, for the benefit afforded by his art is had immediately; ours hereafter. So again the magistrate is odious to the disorderly and seditious; so the legislator is vexatious to them for whom he makes laws. But not so he that invites to enjoyment, not so he that prepares public festivities and entertainments, and puts all the people in garlands: no, these are men that win acceptance, feasting, as they do, whole cities with all sorts of spectacles; contributing largely, bearing all the cost. And therefore those whom they have treated, requite them for these enjoyments with words of welcome and benediction, with hanging (παραπετάσματα) of tapestries, and a blaze of lamps, and with wreaths, and boughs, and brilliant garments. Whereas, at the sight of the physician, the sick become sad and downcast: at sight of the magistrate, the rioters become subdued: no running riot then, no gambolling, except when he also goes over into their ranks. Let us see, then, which render the best service to their cities; those who provide these festivities, and banquetings, and expensive entertainments, and manifold rejoicings; or those who restrain all those doings, bearing before them stocks, scourges, executioners, dreaded soldiers, and a voice fraught with much terror: and issuing orders, and making men hang down their heads, and with the rod dispersing the idlers in the market-place. Let us see, I say; these are the disagreeable, those the beloved: let us see where the gain rests. (λήλει.) What comes then of your pleasure-givers? A kind of frigid enjoyment, lasting till the evening, and to-morrow vanished; mirth ungoverned, words unseemly and dissolute. And what of these? Awe, sobriety, subdued thoughts; reasonableness of mind, an end of idleness; a curb on the passions within; a wall of defence, next to God, against assailants from without. It is by means of these we have each our property but by those ruinous festivities we dissipate it. Robbers indeed have not invaded it, but vainglory together with pleasure acts the part of robber. Each sees the robber carrying off everything before his eyes, and is delighted at it! A new fashion of robbery, this, to induce people to be glad when one is plundering them! On the other part, there is nothing of the kind: but God, as the common Father, has secured us as by a wall against all depredators, both seen and unseen. For, “Take heed,” saith He, “that ye do not your alms before men.” (Matt. 6. 1.) The soul learns from the one, excess; from the other to flee injustice. For injustice consists not merely in grasping at more wealth than belongs to us, but in giving to the belly more than its needful sustenance, in carrying mirth beyond its proper bounds, and causing it to run into frantic excesses. From the one, it learns sobriety; from the other, unchastity. For it is unchastity, not merely to have carnal intercourse with women, but even to look upon a woman with unchaste eyes. From the one, it learns modesty; from the other, conceited self-importance. For, “All things,” says the Apostle, “are lawful for me, but not all things expedient.” (1 Cor. 6. 12.) From the one, decent behavior; from the other unseemliness. For, as to the doings in the theatres, I pass these. But to let you see that it is not even a pleasure either, but a grief, show me, but a single day after the festival, both those who spent their money in giving it, and those who were feasted with spectacles: and you shall see them all looking dejected enough, but most of all him, your (ἔκεἵνον) famous man that has spent his money for it. And this is but fair: for, the day before, he delighted the common man, and the common man indeed was in high good humor and enjoyment, and rejoiced indeed in the splendid garment, but then not having the use of it, and seeing himself stripped of it, he was grieved and annoyed; and wanted to be the great man, seeing even his own enjoyment to be small compared with his. Therefore, the day after, they change places, and now he, the great man, gets the larger share in the dejection.

Now if in worldly matters, amusements are attended with such dissatisfaction, while disagreeable things are so beneficial, much more does this hold in things spiritual. Why is it that no one quarrels with the laws, but on the contrary all account that matter a common benefit? For indeed not strangers from some other quarter, nor enemies of those for whom the laws are made, came and made these orders, but the citizens themselves, their patrons, their benefactors: and this very thing, the making of laws, is a token of beneficence and good-will. And yet the laws are full of punishment and restraint, and there is no such thing as law without penalty and coercion. Then is it not unreasonable, that while the expositors of those laws are called deliverers, benefactors, and patrons, we are considered troublesome and vexatious if we speak of the laws of God? When we discourse about hell, then we bring forward those laws: just as in the affairs of the world, people urge the laws of murder, highway robbery, and the like, so do we the penal laws: laws, which not man enacted, but the Only-Begotten Son of God Himself. Let him that hath no mercy, He says, be punished (Matt. 18. 2; for such is the import of the parable. Let him that remembereth injuries, pay the last penalty. Let him that is angry without cause, be cast into the fire. Let him that reviles, receive his due in hell. If you think these laws which you hear strange, be not amazed. For if Christ was not intended to make new laws, why did He come? Those other laws are manifest to us; we know that the murderer and adulterer ought to be punished. If then we were meant only to be told the same things over again, where was the need of a heavenly Teacher? Therefore He does not say, Let the adulterer be punished, but, whoso looketh on with unchaste eyes. And where, and when, the man will receive punishment, He there tells us. And not in fine public monuments, nor yet somewhere out of sight, did He deposit His laws; not pillars of brass did He raise up, and engrave letters thereon, but twelve souls raised He up for us, the souls of the Apostles, and in their minds has He by the Spirit inscribed this writing. This cite we to you. If this was authorized to Jews, that none might take refuge in the plea of ignorance, much more is it to us. But should any say, “I do not hear, therefore have no guilt,” on this very score he is most liable to punishment. For, were there no teacher, it would be possible to take refuge in this plea; but if there be, it is no longer possible. Thus see how, speaking of Jews, the Lord deprives them of all excuse; “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin:” (John 15. 2: and Paul again, “But I say, have they not heard? Nay, but into all the earth went forth their sound.” (Rom. 10. 18.) For then there is excuse, when there is none to tell the man; but when the watchman sits there, having this as the business of his life, there is excuse no longer. Nay, rather, it was the will of Christ, not that we should look only upon these written pillars, but that we should ourselves be such. But since we have made ourselves unworthy of the writing, at least let us look to those. For just as the pillars threaten others, but are not themselves obnoxious to punishment, nor yet the laws, even so the blessed Apostles. And observe; not in one place only stands this pillar, but its writing is carried round about in all the world. Whether you go among the Indians, you shall hear this: whether into Spain, or to the very ends of the earth, there is none without the hearing, except it be of his own neglect. Then be not offended, but give heed to the things spoken, that ye may be able to lay hold upon the works of virtue, and attain unto the eternal blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, power, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 6 Acts 2. 22 “Ye men of Israel, hear these my words.”

“Ye men of Israel”: it is not for flattery that he uses this term; but, as he has borne hard upon them, he relaxes a little, and puts them in mind of their great ancestor Israel. Here again he begins with an introduction, that they may not become excited, now that he is going to make express mention to them of Jesus: for in what preceded, there was no reason why they should be excited, while the Prophet was the subject of discourse: but the name of Jesus would have given offence at the very outset.—And he does not say, “Do as I bid you,” but, Hear; as being not at all exacting. And observe how he forbears to speak of the high matters, and begins with the very low: “Jesus,” he says: and then straightway mentions the place He belonged to, being one which was held in mean estimation: “Jesus of Nazareth”: and does not say anything great about Him, nor even such as one would say about a Prophet, so far: “Jesus,” he says, “of Nazareth, a man proved (to be) from God among you.” Observe; what great matter was this, to say that He was sent from God? For this was the point which on all occasions both He and John and the Apostles were studious to show. Thus hear John saying: “The same said unto me On whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding on him, this is He.” (John 33.) But Christ Himself does this to an extreme; Of Myself I am not come, He sent Me. (ib. 7. 28.) And everywhere in the Scriptures this seems the point most studiously insisted upon. Therefore also this holy leader of the blessed company, the lover of Christ, the good shepherd, the man put in trust with the keys of heaven, the man who received the Spiritual Wisdom, when he has first subdued the Jews by fear; and has shown what great things have been vouchsafed to the disciples, and what a right they have to be believed, then first proceeds to speak concerning Him. Only think what boldness it was to say it, in the midst of the murderers—that He is risen! And yet he does not all at once say, He is risen; but what?—“He came,” says he, “from God: this is manifest by the signs which”—he does not yet say, Jesus Himself wrought: but what?—“which God wrought by Him in the midst of you.” He calls themselves as witnesses. “A man proved (to be sent) from God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God wrought by him in the midst of you, as also ye yourselves know.” Then, having fallen upon the mention of that their sacrilegious outrage, observe how he endeavors to quit them of the crime: “Him,” he says, “being by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God delivered up”: (v. 2 adding however, “ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:” for though it was predetermined, still they were murderers. “By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God:” all but using the same words as Joseph did; just as he said to his brethren; “Be not angry one with another by the way: God sent me hither.” (Gen. xlv. 5, 24.) It is God’s doing. “What of us, then?” (it might be said,) “it was even well done on our part.” That they may not say this, therefore it is that he adds, “By wicked hands ye have crucified and slain.” Here then he hints at Judas; while at the same time he shows them that it was not from any strength of theirs, and would not have been, if He had not Himself permitted it: it was God that delivered Him up. He has transferred the evil entire upon the head of Judas, now already parted from them; for he it was that delivered Him over to them by the kiss. Or, “By wicked hands,” refers to the soldiers: for neither is it simply, “Ye have slain,” but, By wicked men ye have done this. And observe how everywhere they make it of great importance that the Passion should first be confessed. Whom God Raised Up (v. 2, says he. This was the great thing; and observe how he sets it in the middle of his discourse: for the former matters had been confessed; both the miracles and the signs and the slaying—“Whom God,” says he, “raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be kept in its power.” It is something great and sublime that he has hinted at here. For the expression, “It was not possible,” even itself is that of one assigning something. It shows that death itself in holding Him had pangs as in travail, and was sore bestead: whereas, by pains, or, travail-pangs, of death,the Old Testament means danger and disaster: and that He so rose as never more to die. For the assertion, “Seeing that it was not possible that He should be holden of it,” means this, that Hisrising was not common to the rest. Then, however, before their thoughts can enter at all into his meaning, he brings David upon them, an authority which sets aside all human reasoning. “For David saith (with reference) to Him.” (v. 25.) And observe how, once more, the testimony is lowly. For therefore he begins the citation further up, with the matters of lowlier import: therefore was death not in the number of grievous things because, says he, “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, that He is on my right hand that I should not be moved:” (v. 25–27) and, “that Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” Then, having finished the citation from the Prophet, he adds; “Men and brethren.” (v. 29.) When he is about to say anything great, he uses this opening address, to rouse and to conciliate them. “Let me be allowed,” he says, “to speak freely to you of the patriarch David.” Remarkable lowliness, in a case where he was giving no hurt, nor was there any reason why the hearers should be angry. For he did not say, This is not said concerning David, but concerning the Christ. But in another point of view: by his reverential expression towards the blessed David, he awed them; speaking of an acknowledged fact as if it were a bold thing to say, and therefore begging them to pardon him for saying it. And thereupon his expression is not simply “concerning David,” but “concerning the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried:” he does not also say, “and is not risen again,” but in another way (though this too would have been no great thing to say), “And his sepulchre is with us unto this day,” he has said what comes to the same thing. Then—and even so he does not come to the mention of Christ, but what next?—he goes on with his encomium upon David, “Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that with an oath God had sworn unto him.” (v. 30.) But this he says, that were it but on account of the honor shown to David, and the descent from him, they may accept what is said concerning Christ’s resurrection, as seeing that it would be an injury to the prophecy, and a derogating from (τἥς εἰς αὐτοὺς τιμἥς) their honor, if this were not the fact. “And knowing,” he says, “that with an oath God had sworn unto him”—he does not say simply “promised”—“of the fruit of his loins after the flesh to raise up Christ, to seat Him upon his throne.” Observe how he has again only hinted at what is sublime. For now that he has soothed them with his expression, he confidently adds this: The prophet saith it “of His resurrection, that neither was His soul left in hell, nor did His flesh see corruption.” (v. 31.) This again is wonderful: it shows that His resurrection was not like that of other men. For though death laid hold on Him, yet it did not its own work then.—And, as regards the sin, he has spoken of that, covertly and darkly; of the punishment, he forbore to add anything; but that they had slain Him, this he has spoken out; for the rest he now comes to the sign given by God. And when it is once proved, that He, the slain, was just, was dear to God, then, though thou be silent of the punishment, be sure that he which did the sin will condemn himself more than ever thou canst condemn him. So then, that he refers all to the Father, is in order that they may receive what is said: and that assertion, “Not possible,” he fetches in from the prophecy. Well then, let us again look over what has been said.

“Jesus of Nazareth, a man proved (to be sent) from God unto you.” (Recapitulation of 5. 22–3: one, of whom, by reason of His works, there can be no doubt; but who, on the contrary, is demonstrated. Thus also Nicodemus said, “No man can do these miracles which Thou doest—By miracles, and wonders, and signs which God wrought by Him in the midst of you” (John 3. : not secretly. Setting out from facts notorious to those whom he was addressing, he then comes to things hidden. Thereupon in saying, “By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” (v. 2 he shows that it was not because they had the power to do it, and that there was a wisdom and a Divine arrangement in the event, seeing it was from God. He rapidly passes over the unpleasant part, adding, “Whom God raised up,” etc. (v. 2. For it is always a point of great importance with them to show that He was once dead. Though ye should deny it, says he, (ἐκεῖνοι) those (present) will bear witness to the fact. “Having loosed the pangs of death.” He that gives Death trouble, may much more give trouble to them that crucified Him: however, nothing of the kind is here said, as that He had power to slay you. Meanwhile, let us also learn thus to hold. For one that is in pain like a woman in travail, does not hold the thing held, and is not active but passive; and makes haste to cast it off. And it is well said: “For David saith in reference to him” (v. 25); that you may not refer that saying to the Prophet.—“Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing,” etc. (v. 30, 31.) Do you observe how he now interprets the prophecy, and does not give it bare of comment? How did He “seat Him upon” David’s “throne?” For the kingdom after the Spirit is in heaven. Observe how, along with the resurrection, he has also declared the kingdom in the fact of His rising again. He shows that the Prophet was under constraint: for the prophecy was concerning Him. Why does he say, not, Concerning His kingdom (it was a great matter), but “Concerning His resurrection?” And how did He seat Him upon his (David’s) throne? Why, He reigns as King over Jews also, yea, what is much more, over them that crucified Him. “For His flesh saw no corruption.” This seems to be less than resurrection, but it is the same thing.

“This Jesus”—observe how he does not call Him otherwise—“hath God raised up; whereof all we are witnesses. Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted” (v. 33, 3: again he takes refuge with the Father, and yet it had been enough to say what precedes: but he knows what a great point this is. Here he has hinted at the Ascension also, and that Christ is in heaven: but neither does he say this openly. “And having received,” says he, “the promise of the Holy Ghost.” Observe how, in the beginning of his discourse, he does not say that Jesus Himself had sent It, but the Father: now, however, that he has mentioned His signs and the things done to Him by the Jews, and has spoken of His resurrection, he boldly introduces what he has to say about these matters, again adducing themselves as witnesses by both senses: “He hath shed forth this, which ye do see and hear.” And of the resurrection he has made continual mention, but of their outrageous deed he has spoken once for all. “And having received the promise of the Holy Ghost.” This again is great. “The promise,” he says; because promised before His Passion. Observe how he now makes it all His “He hath poured forth this”, covertly making a great point. For if it was He that poured it forth, it is of Him that the Prophet has spoken above, “In the last days I will pour forth of My Spirit on My Servants, and on Mine handmaids, and I will do wonders in the heaven above. (supra, v. 17.) Observe what he secretly puts into it! But then, because it was a great thing, he again veils it with the expression of “His having received of the Father.” He has spoken of the good things fulfilled, of the signs; has said, that He is king, the point that touched them; has said, that it is He that gives the Spirit. (Arist. Rhet. 3.) (For, however much a person may say, if it does not issue in something advantageous, he speaks to no purpose.) Just as John: “The same,” says he, “shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 3. 11.) And it shows that the Cross not only did not make Him less, but rendered Him even more illustrious, seeing that of old God promised it to Him, but now has given it. Or it may be, “the promise” which He promised to us. He so foreknew it about to be, and has given it to us greater after the resurrection. And, “hath poured it out,” he says; not requiring worthiness: and not simply gave, but with abundance. Whence does this appear? Henceforth after the mention of His giving the Spirit, he confidently speaks also of His ascension into heaven; and not only so, but again adducing the witness, and reminding them of that Person concerning Whom Christ once spake. (Matt. 22. 4 “For not David,” says he “ascended into the heavens. (v. 34.) Here he no longer speaks in lowly phrase, having the confidence which results from the things said; nor does he say, “Be it permitted me to speak,” or the like: “But he saith himself; The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Now if He be David’s Lord, much more shall they not disdain Him. “Sit thou on My right hand;” he has set the whole matter here; “until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool:” here also he has brought upon them a great terror, just as in the beginning he showed what He does to His friends, what to his enemies. And again, as to the act of subjugation, not to provoke unbelief, he ascribes it to the Father. Since then these are great things that he has uttered, he again brings his discourse down to lowly matters. “Let therefore,” he says, “the whole house of Israel know assuredly: i.e. question ye not, nor doubt ye: then also in the tone of command it follows; “that God hath made Him both Lord”—this he says from David—“and Christ,” (v. 36), this from the Psalm: For when it would have been rightly concluded, “Let therefore the whole house of Israel know assuredly that” He sitteth on the right hand of God, this, which would have been great, he forbears, and brings in a different matter which is much more humble, and the expression “Hath made;” i.e. hath ordained: so that there is nothing about (οὐσίωσις) communication of substance here, but the expression relates to this which has been mentioned. “Even this Jesus, Whom ye crucified.” He does well to end with this, thereby agitating their minds. For when he has shown how great it is, he has then exposed their daring deed, so as to show it to be greater, and to possess them with terror. For men are not so much attracted by benefits as they are chastened by fear.

But the admirable and great ones, and beloved of God, need none of these motives: men, such as was Paul: not of the kingdom, not of hell, made he account. For this is indeed to love Christ, this to be no hireling, nor to reckon it a matter of trafficking and trading, but to be indeed virtuous, and to do all for the love of God. (Rom. 9. 3.) Then what tears does it not deserve, when, owing so large a measure, we do not even like traders seek the kingdom of heaven! He promises us so great things, and not even so is He worthy to be heard? What can come up to this enmity!And yet, they are mad after money-making, though it be with enemies, though it be with slaves, though it be with persons most hostile to them, that they come in contact, though it be with persons utterly evil, if only they expect that they shall be enabled by their means to make money, they will do everything, will flatter, and be obsequious, and make themselves slaves, and will esteem them more to be revered than all men, to get some advantage out of them: for the hope of money does not allow them to give a thought to any such considerations as these. But the Kingdom is not so powerful as money is; nay, rather, not in the smallest proportion as powerful. For it is no ordinary Being that promises: but this is greater than even the Kingdom itself that we receive it from such a Giver! But now the case is the same as if a king, wishing, after ten thousand other benefits, to make us his heirs and coheirs with his son should be despised: while some captain of a band of robbers, who has done ten thousand wrongs to us and to our parents, and is himself fraught with ten thousand wickednesses, and has utterly marred our honor and our welfare, should, on presenting a single penny, receive our worship. God promises a Kingdom, and is despised: the Devil helps us to hell, and he is honored! Here God, there Devil. But let us see the difference of the tasks enjoined. For if there were none of these considerations in the case: if it were not, here God, there Devil; not, here one helping to a kingdom, there to a hell: the nature itself of the tasks enjoined were sufficient to induce us to comply with the former. For what does each enjoin? The one, the things which make glorious; the other the things which put to shame: one, the things which involve in ten thousand calamities and disgraces; the other, the things which have with them abundant refreshment. For look: the one saith, “Learn ye of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt. 129): the other saith, Be thou savage, and ungentle, and passionate, and wrathful, and more a wild beast than a man. Let us see which is more useful, which, I pray you, more profitable. “Speak not of this,” say you. * * * But consider that he is the devil: above all indeed, if that be shown: there is need also to undergo toils, and, on the other hand, the prize of victory will be greater. For not he that enjoins easy tasks is the kind (κηδεμὼν) benefactor, but he that enjoins what is for our good. Since fathers also enjoin disagreeable tasks; but for this they are fathers: and so again do masters to slaves: but kidnappers and destroyers (λυμεὥνες) on the other hand, do just the reverse. And yet that the commands of Christ are attended with a pleasure, is manifest from that saying. For to what sort do you take the passionate man to belong, and to what the forbearing and meek? Does not the soul of the (ἐκείνου) one seem to be in a kind of solitary retreat, enjoying exceeding quiet; while that of (τούτου) the other is like a market-place and tumult and the midst of cities, where great is the clamor of those going out, the noise of camels, mules, asses: of men shouting loud to those that meet them, that they may not be trodden under foot: and again, of silver-beaters, of braziers, of men thrusting and pushing this way and that and some overborne, some overbearing? But the soul of (τούτου) the former is like some mountain-top, with its delicate air, its pure sunshine, its limpid gushing fountains, its multitude of charming flowers, while the vernal meads and gardens put on their plumage of shrubs and flowers, and glance with rifling waters: and if any sound is heard there, it is sweet, and calculated to affect the ear with a sense of much delight. For either the warbling birds perch on the outermost spray of the branching trees, and cicadas, nightingales and swallows, blended in one harmony, perform a kind of concerted music; or the zephyr gently stirring the leaves, draws whistling tones from pines and firs, resembling oft the notes of the swan: and roses, violets, and other flowers, gently swayed, and (κυανίζοντα) dark-dimpling, show like a sea just rippled over with gentle undulations. Nay, many are the images one might find. Thus, when one looks at the roses, one shall fancy that he beholds in them the rainbow; in the violets a waving sea; in the lilies, the sky. But not by the spectacle alone, and the beholding, does such an one then cause delight: but also in the very body of him that looks to the meadow, rather it refreshes him, and causes him to breathe freely, so that he thinks himself more in heaven than on earth. There is withal a sound of a different kind, when water from the mountain-steep, borne by its own force through ravines gently plashes over its pebbly bed with lulling noise, and so relaxes our frame with the pleasurable sensations, as quickly to draw over our eyes the soft languor of slumber. You have heard the description with pleasure: perhaps also it has made you enamored of solitude. But sweeter far than this solitude is the soul * * of the long-suffering. For it was not for the sake of describing a meadow, nor for the sake of making a display of language, that we have broached this similitude: but the object was, that, seeing how great is the delight of the long suffering, and how, by converse with a long suffering man, one would be far more both delighted and benefited, than by frequenting such spots, ye may follow after such men. For when not even a breath of violence proceeds from such a soul, but mild and engaging words, then indeed does that gentle softness of the zephyr find its counterpart: entreaties also, devoid of all arrogance, but forming the resemblance to those winged warblers,—how is not this far better? For not the body is fanned by the soft breeze of speech; no, it refreshes our souls heated and glowing. A physician, by ever so great attention, could not so speedily rid a man of the fever, as a patient man would cool, by the breath of his own words, a person who was passionate and burning with wrath. And why do I speak of a physician? Not even iron, made red-hot and dipped into water, so quickly parts with its heat, as does the passionate man when he comes in contact with the soul of the long-suffering. But as, if it chance that singing birds find their way into the market, they go for nothing there, just so is it with our precepts when they light upon souls addicted to wrathful passions. Assuredly, sweeter is gentleness than bitterness and frowardness.—Well, but the one was God’s bidding, the other the devil’s. Do you see that it was not for nothing that I said, even if there were no devil or God in the case, the things enjoined would be enough in themselves to (ἀποστἥσαι) revolt us? For the one is both agreeable to himself, and serviceable to others, the other displeasing to himself, and hurtful to others. Nothing is more unpleasant than a man in a passion, nothing more noisome, more odious, more shocking, as also nothing more pleasing than one who knows not what it is to be in a passion. Better dwell with a wild beast than with a passionate man. For the beast, when once tamed, abides by its law; but the man, no matter how often you have tamed him, again turns wild, unlesshowever he should of himself settle down into some such habit (of gentleness).

For as a bright sunny day and winter with all its gloom, so are the soul of the angry and that of the gentle. However, let us at present look not to the mischievous consequences resulting to others, but to those which affect the persons themselves: though indeed it is also no slight mischief (to one’s self) to cause ill to another, for the present, however, let that be the consideration. What executioner with his lash can so lacerate the ribs, what red-hot lancets (ὀβελίσκοι) ever so pierced the body, what madness can so dispossess a man of his natural reason, as anger and rage do? I know many instances of persons engendering diseases by giving loose to anger: and the worst of fevers are precisely these. But if they so injure the body, think of the soul. For do not argue that you do not see the mischief, but rather consider, if that which is the recipient of the malignant passion is so hurt, what must be the hurt sustained by that which engenders it! Many have lost their eyes, many have fallen into most grievous disease. Yet he that bears bravely, shall endure all things easily. But, however, both such are the troublesome tasks the devil enjoins, and the wages he assigns us for these is hell. He is both devil and foe to our salvation, and we rather do his bidding than Christ’s, Saviour as He is, and Benefactor and Defender, and speaking as He does such words, which are both sweeter, and more reverend, and more profitable and beneficial, and are both to ourselves and to those who live in our company the greatest of blessings. Nothing worse than anger, my beloved, nothing worse than unseasonable wrath. It will not have any long delay; it is a quick, sharp passion. Many a time has a mere word been blurted out in anger, which needs for its curing a whole lifetime, and a deed been done which was the ruin of the man for life. For the worst of it is this, that in a little moment, and by one act, and by a single word, full oft has it cast us out from the possession of eternal good, and brought to nought a world of pains. Wherefore I beseech you to do all you can to curb this savage beast. Thus far, however, I have spoken concerning meekness and wrath; if one should take in hand to treat of other opposites, as covetousness and the mad passion for glory, contrasted with contempt of wealth and of glory; intemperance with sobriety; envy with benevolence; and to marshal them each against its opposite, then one would know how great the difference. Behold how from the very things enjoined it is plainly shown, that the one master is God, the other the devil! Why then, let us do God’s bidding, and not cast ourselves into bottomless pits; but while there is time, let us wash off all that defiles the soul, that we may attain unto the eternal blessings, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 7 Acts 2. 37 “Now when they heard these words (E.V. ‘this,’) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Do you see what a great thing gentleness is? More than any vehemence, it pricks our hearts, inflicts a keener wound. For as in the case of bodies which have become callous, the man that strikes upon them does not affect the sense so powerfully, but if he first mollify them and make them tender, then he pierces them effectually; so in this instance also, it is necessary first to mollify. But that which softens, is not wrath, not vehement accusation, not personal abuse; it is gentleness. The former indeed rather aggravate the callousness, this last alone removes it. If then you are desirous to reprove any delinquent, approach him with all possible mildness. For see here; he gently reminds them of the outrages they have committed, adding no comment; he declares the gift of God, he goes on to speak of the grace which bore testimony to the event, and so draws out his discourse to a still greater length. So they stood in awe of the gentleness of Peter, in that he, speaking to men who had crucified his Master, and breathed murder against himself and his companions, discoursed to them in the character of an affectionate father and teacher. Not merely were they persuaded; they even condemned themselves, they came to a sense of their past behavior. For he gave no room for their anger to be roused, and darken their judgment, but by means of humility he dispersed, as it were, the mist and darkness of their indignation, and then pointed out to them the daring outrage they had committed. For so it is; when we say of ourselves that we are injured, the opposite party endeavor to prove that they have not done the injury; but when we say, we have not been injured, but have rather done the wrong, the others take the contrary line. If, therefore, you wish to place your enemy (εἰς ἀγώνα) in the wrong, beware of accusing him; nay (ἀγώνισαι), plead for him, he will be sure to find himself guilty. There is a natural spirit of opposition in man. Such was the conduct of Peter. He did not accuse them harshly; on the contrary, he almost endeavored to plead for them, as far as was possible. And this was the very reason that he penetrated into their souls. You will ask, where is the proof that they were pricked? In their own words; for what say they? “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Whom they had called deceivers, they call “brethren:” not that hereby they put themselves on an equality with them, but rather by way of attracting their brotherly affection and kindness: and besides, because the Apostles had deigned to call them by this title. And, say they, “What shall we do?” They did not straightway say, Well then, we repent; but they surrendered themselves to the disciples. Just as a person on the point of shipwreck, upon seeing the pilot, or in sickness the physician, would put all into his hands, and do his bidding in everything; so have these also confessed that they are in extreme peril, and destitute of all hope of salvation. They did not say, How shall we be saved? but, “What shall we do?” Here again Peter, though the question is put to all, is the man to answer. “Repent,” says he, “and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ.” (v. 38.) He does not yet say, Believe, but, “Be baptized every one of you.” For this they received in baptism. Then he speaks of the gain; “For the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” If you are to receive a gift, if baptism conveys remission, why delay? He next gives a persuasive turn to his address, adding, “For the promise is unto you” (v. 39): for he had spoken of a promise above. “And to your children,” he says: the gift is greater, when these are to be heirs of the blessings. “And to all,” he continues, “that are afar off:” if to those that are afar off, much more to you that are near: “even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Observe the time he takes for saying, “To those that are afar off.” It is when he finds them conciliated and self-accusing. For when the soul pronounces sentence against itself, no longer can it feel envy. “And with many other words did he testify, and exhort, saying.” (v. 40.) Observe how, throughout, the writer studies brevity, and how free he is from ambition and display. “He testified and exhorted, saying.” This is the perfection of teaching, comprising something of fear and something of love. “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” He says nothing of the future, all is about the present, by which indeed men are chiefly swayed; he shows that the Gospel releases from present evils as well. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (v. 41.) Think you not this cheered the Apostles more than the miracle? “And they continued steadfastly and with one accord in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.” (v. 42.) Here are two virtues, perseverance and concord. “In the Apostles’ doctrine,” he says: for they again taught them; “and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer.” All in common, all with perseverance. “And fear came upon every soul” (v. 4: of those that believed. For they did not despise the Apostles, like common men, nor did they fix their regard on that which was visible merely. Verily, their thoughts were kindled into a glow. And as Peter had before spoken much, and declared the promises, and the things to come, well might they be beside themselves with fear. The wonders also bore witness to the words: “Many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles.” As was the case with Christ; first there were signs, then teaching, then wonders; so was it now. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common.” (v. 44.) Consider what an advance was here immediately! For the fellowship was not only in prayers, nor in doctrine alone, but also in (πολιτεία) social relations. “And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” See what fear was wrought in them! “And they parted them,” he says, showing the (τὸ οἰκονομικὸν) wise management: “As every man had need.” Not recklessly, like some philosophers among the Greeks, of whom some gave up their land, others cast into the sea great quantities of money; but this was no contempt of riches, but only folly and madness. For universally the devil has made it his endeavor to disparage the creatures of God, as if it were impossible to make good use of riches. “And continuing daily with one accord in the temple” (v. 46), they enjoyed the benefit of teaching. Consider how these Jews did nothing else great or small, than assiduously attend at the temple. For, as having become more earnest, they had increased devotion also to the place. For the Apostles did not for the present pluck them away from this object, for fear of injuring them. “And breaking bread from house to house, did take their portion of food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.” (v. 47.) It seems to me that in mentioning “bread,” he here signifies fasting and hard life; for they “took their portion of food,” not of dainty fare. “With gladness,” he says. Seest thou that not the dainty fare, but the (τροφἥς οὐ τρυφἥς) food made the enjoyment. For they that fare daintily are under punishment and pain; but not so these. Do you see that the words of Peter contain this also, namely, the regulation of life? “And singleness of heart.” For no gladness can exist where there is no simplicity. How had they “favor with all the people?” On account of their alms deeds. For do not look to the fact, that the chief priests for envy and spite rose up against them, but rather consider that “they had favor with the people.”—“And the Lord added to the Church daily (ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό) together such as should be saved.—And all that believed were together.” Once more, the unanimity, the charity, which is the cause of all good things!

“Now when they heard this,” etc. “Then Peter said unto them,” etc. (Recapitulation, 5. 37.) What had been said was not enough. For those sayings indeed were sufficient to bring them to faith; but these are to show what things the believer behooves to do. And he said not, In the Cross, but, “In the name of Jesus Christ let every one of you be baptized.” (v. 38.) And he does not put them continually in mind of the Cross, that he may not seem to reproach them, but he says simply, “Repent:” and why? That we may be punished? No: “And let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” And yet quite other is the law; of this world’s tribunals: but in the case of the Gospel proclamation (κηρύγματος); when the delinquent has confessed, then is he saved! Observe how Peter does not instantly hurry over this, but he specifies also the conditions, and adds, “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost;” an assertion accredited by the fact, that the Apostles themselves had received that gift. “For the promise,” etc. (v. 39.) “The promise,” i.e. the gift of the Holy Ghost. So far, he speaks of the easy part, and that which has with it a great gift; and then he leads them to practice: for it will be to them a ground of earnestness, to have tasted already of those so great blessings “and with many other words did he testify,” etc. (v. 40). Since, however, the hearer would desire to learn what was the sum and, substance of these further words, he tells us this: “Saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation.” “They then, that gladly received his words,” etc. (v. 4 they approved of what had been said, although fraught with terror, and after their assent given, proceed at once to baptism. “And they continued” it is written, “steadfastly in the doctrine” (or, “teaching”) “of the Apostles” (v. 4: for it was not for one day, no nor for two or three days that they were under teaching as being persons who had gone over to a different course of life. “And they continued with one accord in the Apostles’ doctrine,” etc. The expression is not, ὁμοὕ “together,” but ὁμοθυμαδὸν, “with one accord;” (“and daily,” he says afterwards, “they were continuing with one accord in the temple,”) i.e. with one soul. And here again in his conciseness, he does not relate the teaching given; for as young children, the Apostles nourished them with spiritual food. “And fear came upon every soul” (v. 4: clearly, of those, as well, who did not believe; namely, upon seeing so great a change all at once effected, and besides in consequence of the miracles. “And all that believed were together, and had all things in common,” etc. (v. 44.) They are all become angels on a sudden; all of them continuing in prayer and hearing, they saw that spiritual things are common, and no one there has more than other, and they speedily came together (ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ), to the same thing in common, even to the imparting to all. “And all the believing” (v. 4, it says, were ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ: and to see that this does not mean that they were together in place, observe what follows “And had all things common”. “All,” it says: not one with the exception of another. This was an angelic commonwealth, not to call anything of theirs their own. Forthwith the root of evils was cut out. By what they did, they showed what they had heard: this was that which he said, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”—“And daily continuing with one accord in the temple.” (v. 46.) Since they are become three thousand, they take them abroad now: and withal, the boldness imparted by the Spirit being great: and daily they went up as to a sacred place, as frequently we find Peter and John doing this: for at present they disturbed none of the Jewish observances. And this honor too passed over to the place; the eating in the house. In what house? In the Temple. Observe the increase of piety. They cast away their riches, and rejoiced, and had great gladness, for greater were the riches they received without labor (ἄπονα Cat. al. ἀγαθά). None reproached, none envied, none grudged; no pride, no contempt was there. As children they did indeed account themselves to be under teaching: as new born babes, such was their disposition. Yet why use this faint image? If you remember how it was when God shook our city with an earthquake, how subdued all men were. (Infra, Hom. xli. §2.) Such was the case then with those converts. No knavery, no villany then: such is the effect of fear, of affliction! No talk of “mine” and “thine” then. Hence gladness waited at their table; no one seemed to eat of his own, or of another’s;—I grant this may seem a riddle. Neither did they consider their brethren’s property foreign to themselves; it was the property of a Master; nor again deemed they aught their own, all was the brethren’s. The poor man knew no shame, the rich no haughtiness. This is gladness. The latter deemed himself the obliged and fortunate party; the others felt themselves as honored herein, and closely were they bound together. For indeed, because when people make doles of money, there are apt to be insults, pride, grudging; therefore says the Apostle, “Not grudgingly, or of necessity.”—(2 Cor. 9. 7.) “With gladness and simplicity of heart,” etc. See of how many things he bears witness to them! Genuine faith, upright conduct, perseverance in hearing, in prayers, in singleness, in cheerfulness. “Praising God.” (v. 47.) Two things there were which might deject them; their abstemious living, and the loss of their property. Yet on both these accounts did they rejoice. “And having favor with all the people.” For who but must love men of this character, as common fathers? They conceived no malice toward each other; they committed all to the grace of God. “With all the people.” Fear there was none; yea, though they had taken their position in the midst of dangers. By singleness, however, he denotes their entire virtue, far surpassing their contempt of riches, their abstinence, and their preseverance in prayer. For thus also they offered pure praise to God: this is to praise God. But observe also here how they immediately obtain their reward. “Having favor with all the people.” They were engaging, and highly beloved. For who would not prize and admire their simplicity of character; who would not be linked to one in whom was nothing underhand? To whom too does salvation belong, but to these? To whom those great marvels? Was it not to shepherds that the Gospel was first preached? and to Joseph, being a man of simple mind, insomuch that he did not let a suspicion of adultery frighten him into doing wrong? Did not God elect rustics, those artless men? For it is written, “Blessed is every simple soul.” (Prov. 125.) And again, “He that walketh simply, walketh surely.” (Prov. 10. 9.) “True,” you will say, “but prudence also is needed.” Why, what is simplicity, I pray you, but prudence? For when you suspect no evil, neither can you fabricate any: when you have no annoyances, neither can you remember injuries. Has any one insulted you? You were not pained. Has any one reviled you? You were nothing hurt. Has he envied you? Still you had no hurt. Simplicity is a high road to true philosophy. None so beautiful in soul as the simple. For as in regard of personal appearance, he that is sullen, and downcast, and reserved (σύννους), even if he be good-looking, loses much of his beauty; while he that relaxes his countenance, and gently smiles, enhances his good looks; so in respect of the soul, he that is reserved, if he have ten thousand good points, disfigures them; but the frank and simple, just the reverse. A man of this last description may be safely made a friend, and when at variance easily reconciled. No need of guards and outposts, no need of chains and fetters with such an one; but great is his own freedom, and that of those who associate with him. But what, you will say, will such a man do if he fall among wicked people? God, Who has commanded us to be simple-minded, will stretch out His hand. What was more guileless than David? What more wicked than Saul? Yet who triumphed? Again, in Joseph’s case; did not he in simplicity approach his master’s wife, she him with wicked art? Yet what, I pray, was he the worse? Furthermore, what more simple than was Abel? what more malicious than Cain? And Joseph again, had he not dealt artlessly with his brethren? Was not this the cause of his eminence, that he spoke out unsuspiciously, while they received his words in malice? He declared once and again his dreams unreservedly; and then again he set off to them carrying provisions; he used no caution; he committed all to God: nay, the more they held him in the light of an enemy, the more did he treat them as brothers. God had power not to have suffered him to fall into their hands; but that the wonder might be made manifest, how, though they do their worst, he shall be higher than they: though the blow do come upon him, it comes from another, not from himself. On the contrary, the wicked man strikes himself first, and none other than himself. “For alone,” it is said, “shall he bear his troubles.” (Prov. 9. 12.) Ever in him the soul is full of dejection, his thoughts being ever entangled: whether he must hear aught or say aught, he does all with complaints, with accusation. Far, very far from such do friendship and harmony make their abode: but fightings are there, and enmities, and all unpleasantness. They that are such suspect even themselves. To these not even sleep is sweet, nor anything else. And have they a wife also, lo, they are enemies and at war with all: what endless jealousies, what unceasing fear! Aye, the wicked, πονηρὸς has his name from πονεἵν, “to have trouble.” And, indeed, thus the Scripture is ever calling “wickedness” by the name of labor; as, for instance, “Under his tongue is toil and labor;” and again, “In the midst of them is toil and labor.” (Ps. 10. 7; xc. 10; and lv. 11.)

Now if any one should wonder, whence those who had at first been of this last class, now are so different, let him learn that affliction was the cause, affliction, that school-mistress of heavenly wisdom, that mother of piety. When riches were done away with, wickedness also disappeared. True, say you, for this is the very thing I am asking about; but whence comes all the wickedness there is now? How is it that it came into the minds of those three thousand and five thousand straightway, to choose virtue, and that they simultaneously became Christian philosophers, whereas now hardly one is to be found? how was it that they then were in such harmony? What was it, that made them resolute and active? What was it that so suddenly inflamed them? The reason is, that they drew near with much piety; that honors were not so sought after as they are now; that they transferred their thoughts to things future, and looked for nothing of things present. This is the sign of an ardent mind, to encounter perils; this was their idea of Christianity. We take a different view, we seek our comfort here. The result is, that we shall not even obtain this, when the time is come. “What are we to do?” asked those men. We, just the contrary—“What shall we do?” What behooved to be done, they did. We, quite the reverse. Those men condemned themselves, despaired of saving themselves. This is what made them such as they were. They knew what a gift they had received. But how can you become like them, when you do everything in an opposite spirit? They heard, and were forthwith baptized. They did not speak those cold words which we do now, nor did they contrive delays (p. 47, note ; and yet they had heard all the requirements: but that word, “Save yourselves from this generation,” made them to be not sluggish; rather they welcomed the exhortation; and that they did welcome it, they proved by their deeds, they showed what manner of men they were. They entered at once the lists, and took off the coat; whereas we do enter, but we intend to fight with our coat on. This is the cause that our antagonist has so little trouble, for we get entangled in our own movements, and are continually thrown down. We do precisely the same thing as he who, having to cope with a man frantic, breathing fire; and seeing him, a professed wrestler, covered with dust, tawny, stripped, clotted with dirt from the sand and sun, and running down with sweat and oil and dirt; himself, smelling of perfumes, should put on his silken garments, and his gold shoes, and his robe hanging down to his heels, and his golden trinkets on the head, and so descend into the arena, and grapple with him. Such a one will not only be impeded, but being taken up with the sole idea of not staining or rending his fine clothes, will tumble at the very first onset, and withal will suffer that which he chiefly dreaded, the damage of those his fond delights. The time for the contest is come, and say, are you putting on your silks? It is the time of exercise, the hour of the race, and are you adorning yourself as for a procession? Look not to outward things, but to the inward. For by the thoughts about these things the soul is hampered on all sides, as if by strong cords, so that she cannot let you raise a hand, or contend against the adversary; and makes you soft and effeminate. One may think himself, even when released from all these ties, well off, to be enabled to conquer that impure power. And on this account Christ too did not allow the parting with riches alone to suffice, but what saith He? “Sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow Me.” (Mark 10. 21.) Now if, even when we cast away our riches, we are not yet in a safe position, but stand still in need of some further art and close practice; much more, if we retain them, shall we fail to achieve great things, and, instead thereof, become a laughing-stock to the spectators, and to the evil one himself. For even though there were no devil, though there were none to wrestle with us, yet ten thousand roads on all sides lead the lover of money to hell. Where now are they who ask why the devil was made (διατί ὁ δ. γέγονεν;)? Behold here the devil has no hand in the work, we do it all ourselves. Of a truth they of the hills might have a right to speak thus, who after they had given proof of their temperance, their contempt of wealth and disregard of all such things, have infinitely preferred to abandon father, and houses, and lands, and wife, and children. Yet, they are the last to speak so: but the men who at no time ought to say it, these do say it. Those are indeed wrestlings with the devil; these he does not think worth entering into. You will say, But it is the devil who instils this same covetousness. Well, flee from it, do not harbor it, O man. Suppose now, you see one flinging out filth from some upper story, and at the same time a person seeing it thrown out, yet standing there and receiving it all on his head: you not only do not pity him, but you are angry, and tell him it serves him right; and, “Do not be a fool,” everyone cries out to him, and lays the blame not so much on the other for shooting out the filth, as on him for letting it come on him. But now, you know that covetousness is of the devil; you know that it is the cause of ten thousand evils; you see him flinging out, like filth, his noisome imaginations; and do you not see that you are receiving on your bare head his nastiness, when it needed but to turn aside a little to escape it altogether? Just as our man by shifting his position would have escaped; so, do you refuse to admit such imaginations, ward off the lust. And how am I to do this? you will ask. Were you a Gentile, and had eyes for things present alone, the matter perhaps might be one of considerable difficulty, and yet even the Gentiles have achieved as much; but you—a man in expectation of heaven and heavenly bliss—and you to ask, “How am I to repel bad thoughts?” Were I saying the contrary, then you might doubt: did I say, covet riches, “How shall I covet riches,” you might answer, “seeing such things as I do?” Tell me, if gold and precious stones were set before you, and I were to say, Desire lead, would there not be reason for hesitation? For you would say, How can I? But if I said, Do not desire it; this had been plainer to understand. I do not marvel at those who despise, but at those who despise not riches. This is the character of a soul exceeding full of stupidity, no better than flies and gnats, a soul crawling upon the earth, wallowing in filth, destitute of all high ideas. What is it you say? Are you destined to inherit eternal life; and do you say, how shall I despise the present life for the future? What, can the things be put in competition? You are to receive a royal vest; and say you, How shall I despise these rags? You are going to be led into the king’s palace; and do you say, How shall I despise this present hovel? Of a truth, we ourselves are to blame in every point, we who do not choose to let ourselves be stirred up ever so little. For the willing have succeeded, and that with great zeal and facility. Would that you might be persuaded by our exhortation, and succeed too, and become imitators of those who have been successful, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, and power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 8 Acts 3. 1 “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”

Everywhere we find these two Apostles in great harmony together. “To him Simon Peter beckoned.” (John 13. 24.) These two also “came together to the sepulchre. (Ib. 20. 3 et seq.) And concerning John, Peter said unto Christ, “And what shall this man do?” (Ib. 221.) Now as for the other miracles, the writer of this book omits them; but he mentions the miracle by which they were all put in commotion. Observe again that they do not come to them purposely; so clear were they of ambition, so closely did they imitate their Master. Why now did they go up to the temple? Did they still live as Jews? No, but for expediency (χρησίμως). A miraculous sign again takes place, which both confirms the converts, and draws over the rest; and such, as they were a sign for having wrought. The disease was in the nature of the man, and baffled the art of medicine. He had been forty years lame (ch. 4. 20), as the writer says afterwards, and no one during all that time had cured him. And the most obstinate diseases are those which are born with men. It was a great calamity, insomuch that even to provide for himself his necessary sustenance was impossible for him. The man was conspicuous both from the place, and from his malady. Hear how the matter is related. “And a certain man, lame from his mother’s womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple.” (v. 2.) He sought to receive alms, and he did not know who the men were. “Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us.” (v. 3, 4.) Yet, not even so were the man’s thoughts elevated, but he persisted in his importunity. For such is poverty; upon a refusal, it compels people still to persist. Let this put us to shame who fall back in our prayers. But observe, I pray you, Peter’s gentleness: for he said, “Look on us.” So truly did their very bearing, of itself, betoken their character. “And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee.” (v. 5, 6.) He did not say, I give thee something much better than silver or gold: but what? “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up.” (v. 7.) Such was also the way of Christ. Often He healed by word, often by an act, often also He stretched forth the hand, where men were somewhat weak in faith, that the cure might not appear to be spontaneous. “And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up.” This act made manifest the Resurrection, for it was an image of the Resurrection. “And immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked.” (v. 8.) Perhaps it was by way of trying himself that he put it thus to further proof, whether perchance the thing done might not be to no purpose. His feet were weak; it was not that he had lost them. Some say that he did not even know how to walk. “And entered with them into the temple.” Of a truth it was marvellous. The Apostles do not urge him; but of his own accord he follows, by the act of following pointing out his benefactors. “And leaping and praising God;” not admiring them, but God that wrought by them. The man was grateful.

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple,” etc. You observe how they continued in prayer. “The ninth hour:” there they prayed together. “And a certain man,” etc. The man was in the act of being carried at that instant. “Whom they laid daily:” (his bearers carried him away:) “at the gate,” etc. just when people went into the temple. And that you may not suppose that they carried him for some other purpose, but that it was in order that he might receive alms, hear what the writer says: “so that he might receive alms of those entering into the temple.” (Recapitulation of vv. 1–8.) And this is the reason why he also makes mention of the places, to give evidence of what he relates. “And how was it,” you may ask, “that they did not present him to Christ?” Perhaps they were certain unbelieving men, that haunted the temple, as in fact neither did they present him to the Apostles, when they saw them entering, after having done such great miracles. “He asked,” it is written, “to receive an alms.” (v. 3.) Their bearing marked them as certain devout and righteous men. “And Peter fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said,” etc. (v. 4, 5.) And observe how John is everywhere silent, while Peter makes excuse for him also; “Silver and gold,” he says, “have I none.” (v. 6.) He does not say, I have none here, as we are wont to speak, but absolutely, I have none. “What then?” he might say, “do you take no notice of me, your suppliant?” Not so, but of what I have, receive thou. Do you remark how unassuming Peter is, how he makes no display even to the object of his beneficence? “In the name,” etc. “And he took him by the hand,” etc. (v. 7.) And the mouth and the hand did all. Such sort of persons were the Jews; lame, and the right thing being to ask for health, these same ask for money, grovelling on the ground: for this it was that they beset the temple—to get money. What then does Peter? He did not despise him; he did not look about for some rich subject; he did not say, If the miracle is not done to some great one (εἰς ἐκεἵνον), nothing great is done: he did not look for some honor from him, no, nor heal him in the presence of people; for the man was at the entrance, not where the multitude were, that is, within. But Peter sought no such object; nor upon entering did he proclaim the matter: no, it was by his bearing that he attracted the lame man to ask. And the wonder is, that he believed so readily. For those who are set free from diseases of long standing, hardly believe their very eyesight. Once healed, he remains with the Apostles, giving thanks to God. “And he entered,” it is said, “with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” (v. 8.) Observe how restless he is, in the eagerness of his delight, at the same time shutting the mouths of the Jews. Also, that he leaped, was to prevent the suspicion of hypocrisy; for after all, this was beyond the possibility of deception. For if previously he was totally unable to walk, even when hunger pressed hard (and indeed he would not have chosen to share with his bearers the proceeds of his begging, if he had been able to manage for himself), this holds still more in the present case. And how should he have feigned in behalf of those who had given him no alms? But the man was grateful, even after his recovery. And thus on either side his faith is shown, both by his thankfulness, and by the recent event.

He was so well known to all, that “they recognized him. And all the people,” it says, “saw him walking and praising God; and they recognized (ἐπεγίνωσκον) that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple.” (v. 9.) It is well said, “they recognized,” inasmuch as he was one unknown now by reason of what had happened: for we use this term with regard to objects, which we find a difficulty in recognizing. “And they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.” Needs must it be believed that the name of Christ remits sins, seeing it produces even such effects as this. (“And as he held Peter and John, all the people came together at the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.” (v. 11.) From his good feelings and love towards the Apostles, the lame man would not leave them; perhaps he was thanking them openly, and praising them. “And all the people,” it is said, “ran together unto them. And when Peter saw them, he answered.” (v. 12.) Again it is he who acts, and addresses the people.

And in the former instance, it was the circumstance of the tongues that aroused them to hearing, now it was this miracle; then, he took occasion to speak from their accusations now, from their supposition. Let us then consider, in what this address differs from the former, and in what it agrees with that. The former was held in a house, before any one has come over, and before they themselves have wrought anything; this, when all are wondering, and the healed man is standing by; when none doubt, as in the other case where some said “These men are full of new wine.” (Acts 12. 13.) At the one, he was surrounded by all the Apostles as he spoke; but at this, he has John alone; for by this time he is bold, and become more energetic. Such is the nature of virtue; once started, it advances, and never stops. Observe also how it was divinely ordered, that the miracle should take place in the temple, that others also might wax bold, while the Apostles work not in holes (εἰς καταδύσεις) and corners, and in secret: though not in the interior of the temple either, where the greater number were. How then, I pray you, was it believed? The man himself who was healed proclaimed the benefit. For there was no reason why he should lie, nor why he should have joined a different set of people. Either then it was because of the spaciousness of the place, that he there wrought the miracle, or because the spot was retired. And observe the event. They went up for one object, and they accomplished another. Thus also did Cornelius: he prayed and fasted * * *. But hitherto they always call Him, “of Nazareth.” “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” said Peter, walk. For in the first instance, the thing required was, that He should be believed in.

Let us not, I pray you, give over at the beginning of the story: and if one has named some particular achievement of virtue, and then has dropped it for awhile, let us begin over again. If we get into the right mood (ἐν ἕξει), we shall soon arrive at the end, soon reach the summit. For earnestness, it is said, begets earnestness, and dulness begets dulness. He who has effected some little reformation, thereby receives encouragement to approach greater things, and thence again to go on something more than that; and just as it is with fire, the more wood it lays hold on, the more vehement it becomes, so likewise zeal, the more pious reflections it kindles, the more effectually is it armed against their opposites. As, for example: There are set in us, like so many thorns, perjury, falsehood hypocrisy, deceit, dishonesty, abusiveness, scoffing, buffoonery, indecency, scurrility; again under another head, covetousness, rapacity, injustice, calumny, insidiousness; again, wicked lust, uncleanness, lewdness, fornication, adultery; again, envy, emulation, anger, wrath, rancor, revenge, blasphemy, and numberless others. If we effect a reformation in the first instances, not only in them will the success have been achieved, but through them in the following cases also. For reason has then gained more strength to overthrow those other vices. For instance, if he, who has frequently sworn, once extirpates that satanic habit, he has not only gained this point, but a habit of piety in other respects will have been brought in. For no one, I suppose, averse to swearing would easily consent to do any other wicked act; he will feel a reverence for the virtue already acquired. Just as the man who wears a beautiful robe, will blush to roll himself in the mire; so is it also here. From this beginning he will come to learn not to be angry, not to strike, not to insult. For if once he has come right in little matters, the whole affair is done. Often, however, something of this sort takes place, that a person has once reformed, and then again through carelessness falls back into the old sins but too readily, so that the case becomes irremediable. For instance, we have made it a law to ourselves not to swear; we have got on well, for some three, or even four days; after that being hard put to it, we scattered away the whole of our collected gain; we then fall into indolence and recklessness. Still it is not right to give over; one must set to work zealously again. For it is said, he that has built up a house, and then sees his building pulled down, will have less spirit for building again. Yes, but for all this, one must not be dispirited, but must once more set to work zealously.

Let us then lay down daily laws for ourselves. For a time let us begin with the easier. Let us retrench all that superfluity of paths, and put a bridle on our tongues; let no one swear by God. Here is no outlay, here is no fatigue, here is no cost of time. It is sufficient to will, and all is done. It is a matter of habit. I beseech and entreat you, let us contribute thus much of zeal. Tell me, if I had bid you contribute your money, would not each one of you readily cast in according to his ability? If you saw me in extreme danger, would you not, if it had been possible, have cut off your own flesh to give me? Well, I am in danger now, and in great danger, such indeed that, were I withal confined to a dungeon, or had I received ten thousand stripes, or were a convict in the mines, I could not suffer more. Reach me then the hand. Consider how great is the danger, that I should not have been able to reform this which is least: I say “least” in regard to the labor required. What shall I have to say hereafter, when thus called to account? “Why did you not remonstrate? why did you not enjoin? why did you not lay the law before them? why did you not check the disobedient?” It will not be enough for me to say, that I did admonish. It will be answered, “You ought to have used more vehement rebuke; since Eli also admonished.” (1 Sam. 2. 24.) But God forbid I should compare you with Eli’s sons. Indeed, he did admonish them and say, “Nay, my sons, do not so; evil is the report that I hear of you.” (1 Sam. 3. 13.) But subsequently the Scripture saith, that he did not admonish his sons: since he did not admonish them severely, or with threats. For is it not strange indeed, that in the synagogues of the Jews the laws are in such force, and whatever the teacher enjoins is performed; while here we are thus despised and rejected? It is not my own glory that I care for (my glory is your good report), but it is for your salvation. Every day we lift up our voice, and shout in your ears. But there is none to hear. Still we take no strong measures. I fear we shall have to give an account at the coming Day of this excessive and unseasonable leniency.

Wherefore, with a loud and clear voice, I proclaim to all and testify, that those who are notorious for this transgression, who utter words which come “of the evil one,” (Matt. 5. 37.) (for such is swearing,) shall not step over the threshold of the Church. Let this present month be the time allowed you for reforming in this matter. Talk not to me, “Necessity of business compels me to use oaths, else people do not believe me.” To begin with this, retrench those oaths which come merely of habit. I know many will laugh, but it is better to be laughed at now, than wept for hereafter. They will laugh, who are mad. For who, I ask, in his right mind would laugh at the keeping of the commandment? But suppose they do; why, it will not be at us, but at Christ, that such men will laugh. You shudder at the word! I knew you would. Now if this law were of my making, at me would be the laughing; but if Another be the Lawgiver, the jeering passes over to Him. Yes, and Christ was once spit upon, and smitten with the palm, smitten upon the face. Now also He bears with this, and it is no wonder (οὐδὲν ἀπεικὸς)! For this, hell is prepared; for this, the worm that dieth not. Behold, again I say and testify; let him laugh that will, let him scoff that listeth. Hereunto are we set, to be laughed at and mocked, to suffer all things. We are “the offscouring” (1 Cor. 4. 1 or the world, as blessed Paul says. If any man refuse to conform to this order, that man I, by my word, as with a trumpet’s blast, do prohibit to set foot over the Church’s threshold, be he prince, be he even the crowned head. Either depose me from this station, or if I am to remain, expose me not to danger. I cannot bear to ascend this throne, without effecting some great reformation. For if this be impossible, it is better to stand below. Nothing more wretched than a ruler who does his people no good. Do exert yourselves, and attend to this, I entreat you; and let us strive, and of a surety more will come of it. Fast, entreat God (and we will do the same with you) that this pernicious habit may be eradicated. It is no great matter, to become teachers to the world; no small honor to have it said everywhere, that really in this city there is not a man that swears. If this come to pass, you will receive the reward not only of your own good works; indeed what I am to you, this you will become to the world. Assuredly others also will emulate you; assuredly you will be a candle set upon a candlestick.

And is this, you will say, the whole matter? No, this is not all, but this is a beginning of other virtues. He who swears not, will certainly attain unto piety in other respects, whether he will or not, by dint of self-respect and awe. But you will urge that most men do not keep to it, but fall away. Well, better one man that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors. In fact, hereby is everything subverted, everything turned upside down, I mean, because after the fashion of the Theatre we desire numbers not a select number. For what indeed will a multitude be able to profit? Would you learn that it is the saints, not the numbers, which make the multitude? Lead out to war ten hundred thousand men, and one saint, and let us see who achieves the most? Joshua the son of Nun went out to war, and alone achieved all; the rest were of no use. Wouldest thou see, beloved, that the great multitude, when it does not the will of God, is no better than a thing of naught? I wish indeed, and desire, and with pleasure would be torn in pieces, to adorn the Church with a multitude, yea, but a select multitude; yet if this be impossible, that the few should be select, is my desire. Do you not see, that it is better to possess one precious stone, than ten thousand farthing pieces? Do you not see that it is better to have the eye sound, than to be loaded with flesh, and yet deprived of sight? Do you not see that it is better to have one healthy sheep, than ten thousand with the murrain; that fine children, though few, are better than many children diseased withal; that in the Kingdom there will be few, but in hell many? What have I to do with a multitude? what profit therein? None. Rather they are a plague to the rest. It is as if one who had the option of ten healthy persons or ten thousand sick folks, should take to himself the latter in addition to the ten. The many who do nothing well, will avail us only for punishment hereafter, and disgrace for the time being. For no one will urge it as a point in our favor that we are many; we shall be blamed for being unprofitable. In fact, this is what men always tell us, when we say, We are many; “aye, but bad,” they answer.

Behold again: I give warning, and proclaim with a loud voice, let no one think it a laughing matter: I will exclude and prohibit the disobedient; and as long as I sit on this throne, I will give up not one of its rights. If any one depose me from it, then I am no longer responsible; as long as I am responsible, I cannot disregard them; on account not of my own punishment, but of your salvation. For I do exceedingly long for your salvation. To advance it, I endure pain and vexation. But yield your obedience, that both here and hereafter you may receive a plentiful reward, and that we may in common reap eternal blessings; through the grace and mercy of the only-begotten Son of God; to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 9 Acts 3. “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we have made this man to walk?”

There is greater freedom of speech in this harangue, than in the former. Not that he was afraid on the former occasion, but the persons whom he addressed there, being jesters and scoffers, would not have borne it. Hence in the beginning of that address he also bespeaks their attention by his preamble; “Be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.” (ch. 2. 14.) But here there is no need of this management. (κατασκευἥς.) For his hearers were not in a state of indifference. The miracle had aroused them all; they were even full of fear and amazement. Wherefore also there was no need of beginning at that point, but rather with a different topic; by which, in fact, he powerfully conciliated them, namely, by rejecting the glory which was to be had from them. For nothing is so advantageous, and so likely to pacify the hearers, as to say nothing about one’s self of an honorable nature, but, on the contrary, to obviate all surmise of wishing to do so. And, in truth, much more did they increase their glory by despising glory, and showing that what had just taken place was no human act, but a Divine work; and that it was their part to join with the beholders in admiration, rather than to receive it from them. Do you see how clear of all ambition he is, and how he repels the honor paid to him? In the same manner also did the ancient fathers; for instance, Daniel said, “Not for any wisdom that is in me.” (Dan. 2. 30.) And again Joseph, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 18.) And David, “When the lion and the bear came, in the name of the Lord I rent them with my hands.” (1 Sam. 17. 34.) And so likewise here the Apostles, “Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” (v. 13.) Nay, not even this; for not by our own merit did we draw down the Divine influence. “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers.” See how assiduously he thrusts himself (εἰσωθει) upon the fathers of old, lest he should appear to be introducing a new doctrine. In the former address he appealed to the patriarch David, here he appeals to Abraham and the rest. “Hath glorified His Servant Jesus.” Again a lowly expression, like as in the opening address.

But at this point he proceeds to enlarge upon the outrage, and exalts the heinousness of the deed, no longer, as before, throwing a veil over it. This he does, wishing to work upon them more powerfully. For the more he proved them accountable, the better his purpose were effected. “Hath glorified,” he says, “His Servant Jesus, Whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.” The charge is twofold: Pilate was desirous to let Him go; you would not, when he was willing. “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince (or Author) of Life: Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (v. 14, 15.) Ye desired a robber instead of Him. He shows the great aggravation of the act. As he has them under his hand, he now strikes hard. “The Prince of Life,” he says. In these words he establishes the doctrine of the Resurrection. “Whom God hath raised from the dead.” (ch. 2. 26.) “Whence doth this appear?” He no longer refers to the Prophets, but to himself, inasmuch as now he has a right to be believed. Before, when he affirmed that He was risen, he adduced the testimony of David; now, having said it, he alleges the College of Apostles. “Whereof we are witnesses,” he says.

“And His name, through faith in His name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” Seeking to declare the matter (ζητὥν τὸ πρἅγμα εὶπεἵν), he straightway brings forward the sign: “In the presence,” he says, “of you all.” As he had borne hard upon them, and had shown that He Whom they crucified had risen, again he relaxes, by giving them the power of repentance; “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” (v. 17.) This is one ground of excuse. The second is of a different kind. As Joseph speaks to his brethren, “God did send me before you (Gen. xlv. 5); what in the former speech he had briefly said, in the words, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken,”—this he here enlarges upon: “But what God before had showed by the mouth of all His Prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled.” (v. 18.) At the same time showing, that it was not of their doing, if this be proved, that it took place after God’s counsel. He alludes to those words with which they had reviled Him on the Cross, namely “Let Him deliver Him, if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God. If He trust in God, let Him now come down from the cross.” (Matt. xxvii. 42, 43.) O foolish men, were these idle words? It must needs so come to pass, and the prophets bear witness thereunto. Therefore if He descended not, it was for no weakness of His own that He did not come down, but for very power. And Peter puts this by way of apology for the Jews, hoping that they may also close with what he says. “He hath so fulfilled,” he says. Do you see now how he refers everything to that source? “Repent ye therefore,” he says, “and be converted.” He does not add, “from your sins;” but, “that your sins, may be blotted out,” means the same thing. And then he adds the gain: “So shall the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.” (v. 19.) This betokens them in a sad state, brought low by many wars.For it is to the case of one on fire, and craving comfort, that the expression applies. And see now how he advances. In his first sermon, he but slightly hinted at the resurrection, and Christ’s sitting in heaven; but here he also speaks of His visible advent. “And He shall send Jesus the Christ ordained (for you), “Whom the heaven must (i.e. must of necessity) receive, until the times of the restitution of all things.” The reason why He does not now come is clear. “Which God hath spoken,” he continues, “by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” Before, he had spoken of David, here he speaks of Moses. “Of all things,” he says, “which He hath spoken.” But he does not say, “which Christ,” but, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (v. 20, 21.) Then he betakes him to the ground of credibility, saying, “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things.” And then the greatness of the punishment: “And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those that follow, after, as many as have spoken have likewise foretold of these days.” (v. 23, 24.) He has done well to set the distinction here. For whenever he says anything great, he appeals to them of old. And he found a text which contained both truths; just as in the other discourse he said, “Until He put His foes under His feet.” (ch. 2. 35.) The remarkable circumstance is, that the two things stand together; that is, subjection and disobedience, and the punishment. “Like unto me,” he says. Then why are ye alarmed? “Ye are the children of the prophets” (v. 25): so that to you they spake, and for your sakes have all these things come to pass. For as they deemed that through their outrage they had become alienated (and indeed there is no parity of reason, that He Who now is crucified, should now cherish them as His own), he proves to them that both the one and the other are in accordance with prophecy. “Ye are the children,” he says, “of the Prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, ‘And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.’ Unto you first,” he continues, “God having raised up His Son (τόν Παἵδα) sent Him.” “To others indeed also, but to you first who crucified Him.” “To bless you,” he adds, “in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” (v. 26.)

Now let us consider again more minutely what has been read out. (Recapitulation.) In the first place, he establishes the point that the miracle was performed by them; saying, “Why marvel ye?” And he will not let the assertion be disbelieved: and to give it more weight, he anticipates their judgment. “Why look ye,” he says, “so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” (v. 12.) If this troubles and confounds you, learn Who was the Doer, and be not amazed. And observe how on all occasions when he refers to God, and says that all things are from Him, then he fearlessly chides them: as above where he said, “A man approved of God among you.” (ch. 2. 22.) And on all occasions he reminds them of the outrage they had committed, in order that the fact of the Resurrection may be established. But here he also subjoins something else; for he no more says, “of Nazareth,” but what? “The God of our fathers hath glorified His Servant Jesus.” (v. 13.) Observe also the modesty. He reproached them not, neither did he say at once, “Believe then now: behold, a man that has been forty years lame, has been raised up through the name of Jesus Christ.” This he did not say, for it would have excited opposition. On the contrary, he begins by commending them for admiring the deed, and again calls them after their ancestor: “Ye men of Israel.” Moreover, he does not say, It was Jesus that healed him: but, “The God of our fathers hath glorified,” etc. But then, lest they should say, How can this stand to reason—that God should glorify the transgressor? therefore he reminds them of the judgment before Pilate, showing that, would they but consider, He was no transgressor; else Pilate had not wished to release Him. And he does not say, “when Pilate was desirous,” but, “was determined to let Him go.” “But ye denied the Holy One,” etc. (v. 13, 14.) Him who had killed others, ye asked to be released; Him Who quickeneth them that are killed, ye did not wish to have! And that they might not ask again, How should it be that God now glorifies Him, when before He gave no assistance? he brings forward the prophets, testifying that so it behooved to be. “But those things which God before had showed,” etc., (infra v. 18.) Then, lest they should suppose that God’s dispensation was their own apology, first he reproves them. Moreover, that the denying Him “to Pilate’s face,” was no ordinary thing; seeing that he wished to release Him. And that ye cannot deny this, the man who was asked in preference to Him is witness against you. This also is part of a deep dispensation. Here it shows their shamelessness and effrontery; that a Gentile, one who saw Him for the first time, should have discharged Him, though he had heard nothing striking; while they who had been brought up among His miracles, have done the very opposite! For, as he has said, “When he (Pilate) had determined to let Him go,” that it may not be imagined that he did this of favor, we read, “And he said, It is a custom with you to release one prisoner: will ye therefore that I release unto you this man? (Matt. xxvii. 15.) “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just.” (Mark 15. 6.) He does not say, “Ye delivered up;” but everywhere, “Ye denied.” For, said they, “We have no king but Cæsar.” (John 14. 15.) And he does not say only, Ye did not beg off the innocent, and, “Ye denied” Him but, “Ye slew” Him. While they were hardened, he refrained from such language; but when their minds are most moved, then he strikes home, now that they are in a condition to feel it. For just as when men are drunk we say nothing to them, but when they are sober, and are recovered from their intoxication then we chide them; thus did Peter: when they were able to understand his words, then he also sharpened his tongue, alleging against them many charges; that, Whom God had glorified, they had delivered up; Whom Pilate would have acquitted they denied to his face; that they preferred the robber before Him.

Observe again how he speaks covertly concerning Christ’s power, showing that He raised Himself: just as in his first discourse he had said, “Because it was not possible that He should be holden of it” (ch. 2. 2, so here he says, “And killed the Prince of Life.” (v. 15.) It follows that the Life He had was not from another. The prince (or author) of evil would be he that first brought forth evil; the prince or author of murder, he who first originated murder; so also the Prince (or Author) of Life must be He Who has Life from Himself. “Whom God raised up,” he continues: and now that he has uttered this, he adds, “And his name, upon faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by Him hath given Him this perfect soundness. The faith which is by Him ἡ δι᾽ αὐτοὕ πίστις. And yet it was ἡ εἰς αὐτὸν πιστις, “the faith which is in Him” (as its object) that did all. For the Apostles did not say, “By the name,” but, “In the name,” and it was in Him (εἰς αὐτὸν) that the man believed. But they did not yet make bold to use the expression, “The faith which is in Him.” For, that the phrase “By Him” should not be too low, observe that after saying, “Upon the faith of His name,” he adds, “His name hath made him strong,” and then it is that he says, “Yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness.” Observe how he implies, that in the καὶ ἐκεἵνο former expression also “Whom God raised up,” he did but condescend to their low attainments. For that Person needed not Another’s help for His rising again, Whose Name raised up a lame man, being all one as dead. Mark how on all occasions he adduces their own testimony. Thus above, he said, “As ye yourselves also know;” and, “In the midst of you:” and here again, “Whom ye see and know: in the presence of you all.” (ch. 2. 22.) And yet that it was, “In His name,” they knew not: but they did know that the man was lame, that he stands there whole. They that had wrought the deed themselves confessed, that it was not by their own power, but by that of Christ. And had this assertion been unfounded, had they not been truly persuaded themselves that Christ had risen again, they would not have sought to establish the honor of a dead man instead of their own, especially while the eyes of the multitude were upon them. Then, when their minds were alarmed, immediately he encourages them, by the appellation of Brethren, “And now, brethren, I wot, etc.” For in the former discourse he foretold nothing, but only says concerning Christ, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly:” here he adds an admonition. There he waited till the people spoke: here, he knew how much they had already effected, and that the present assembly was better disposed toward them. “That through ignorance ye did it.” And yet the circumstances mentioned above were not to be put to the score of ignorance. To choose the robber, to reject Him Who had been adjudged to be acquitted, to desire even to destroy Him—how should this be referred to ignorance? Nevertheless, he gives them liberty to deny it, and to change their mind about what had happened. “Now this indeed, that you put to death the innocent, ye knew: but that you were killing “the Prince of Life,” this, belike, ye did not know.” And he exculpated not them alone, but also the chief contrivers of the evil, “ye and your rulers:” for doubtless it would have roused their opposition, had he gone off into accusation. For the evil-doer, when you accuse him of some wickedness that he has done, in his endeavor to exonerate himself, grows more vehement. And he no longer says, “Ye crucified,” “Ye killed,” but, “Ye did it;” leading them to seek for pardon. If those rulers did it through ignorance, much more did these present. “But these things which God before had showed,” etc. (v. 18.) But it is remarkable, that both in the first and in the second discourse, speaking to the same effect, that is, in the former, “By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God;” and in this, “God before had showed that Christ should suffer;” in neither does he adduce any particular text in proof. The fact is, that each one of such passages is accompanied with many accusations, and with mention of the punishment in store for them as; “I will deliver up,” says one, “the wicked in requital for His grave, and the rich in return for His death.” (Is. liii. 9.) And again, * * * “Those things,” he says, “which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled.” It shows the greatness of that “counsel,” in that all spoke of it, and not one only. It does not follow, because the event was through ignorance, that it took place irrespectively of God’s ordinance. See how great is the Wisdom of God, when it uses the wickedness of others to bring about that which must be. “He hath fulfilled,” he says: that they may not imagine that anything at all is wanting; for whatsoever Christ must needs suffer, has been fulfilled. But do not think, that, because the Prophets said this, and because ye did it through ignorance, this sufficeth to your exculpation. However, he does not express himself thus, but in milder terms says, “Repent ye therefore.” (v. 19.) “Why? For either it was through ignorance, or by the dispensation of God.” “That your sins may be blotted out.” I do not mean the crimes committed at the Crucifixion; perhaps they were through ignorance; but so that your other sins may be blotted out: this only. “So shall the times of refreshing come unto you.” Here he speaks of the Resurrection, obscurely. For those are indeed times of refreshing, which Paul also looked for, when he said, “We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened.” (2 Cor. 5. 4.) Then to prove that Christ is the cause of the days of refreshing, he says, “And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was for you ordained.” (v. 20.) He said not, “That your sin may be blotted out,” but, “your sins;” for he hints at that sin also. “He shall send.” And whence? “Whom the heaven must receive.” (v. 21.) Still “must” “receive?” And why not simply, Whom the heaven hath received? This, as if discoursing of old times: so, he says, it is divinely ordered, so it is settled: not a word yet of His eternal subsistence.—“For Moses indeed said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord raise up for you:” “Him shall ye hear in all things that He shall speak unto you:” and having said, “All things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets,” (v. 2 now indeed he brings in Christ Himself. For, if He predicted many things and it is necessary to hear Him, one would not be wrong in saying that the Prophets have spoken these things. But, besides, he wishes to show that the Prophets did predict the same things. And, if any one will look closely into the matter, he will find these things spoken in the Old Testament, obscurely indeed, but nevertheless spoken. “Who was purposely designed,” says he: in Whom there is nothing novel. Here he also alarms them, by the thought that much remains to be fulfilled. But if so, how says he, “Hath fulfilled?” (v. 18.) The things which it was necessary “that Christ should suffer,” are fulfilled: the things which must come to pass, not yet. “A prophet shall the Lord God raise up for you from among your brethren, like unto me.” This would most conciliate them. Do you observe the sprinkling of low matters and high, side by side,—that He Who was to go up into the heavens should be like unto Moses? And yet it was a great thing too. For in fact He was not simply like unto Moses, if so be that “every soul which will not hear shall be destroyed.” And one might mention numberless other things which show that He was not like unto Moses; so that it is a mighty text that he has handled. “God shall raise Him up unto you,” says Moses, “from among your brethren,” etc.: consequently Moses himself threatens those that should not hear. “Yea, and all the prophets,” etc.: all this is calculated to attract “Yea, and all the prophets,” says the Apostle, “from Samuel.” He refrains from enumerating them singly, not to make his discourse too long; but having alleged that decisive testimony of Moses, he passes by the rest. “Ye,” he says, “are the children of the Prophets, and of the covenant which God made.” (v. 25) “Children of the covenant;” that is, heirs. For lest they should think that they received this offer from the favor of Peter, he shows, that of old it was due to them, in order that they may the rather believe that such also is the will of God. “Unto you first,” he continues, “God having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him.” (v. 26.) He does not say simply, “Unto you He sent His Son,” but also, after the resurrection, and when He had been crucified. For that they may not suppose that he himself granted them this favor, and not the Father, he says, “To bless you.” For if He is your Brother, and blesses you, the affair is a promise. “Unto you first.” That is, so far are you from having no share in these blessings, that He would have you become moreover promoters and authors of them to others. For you are not to feel like castaways. “Having raised up”: again, the Resurrection. “In turning away,” he says, “every one of you from his iniquities.” In this way He blesses you: not in a general way. And what kind of blessing is this? A great one. For of course not the turning a man away from his iniquities is itself sufficient to remit them also. And if it is not sufficient to remit, how should it be to confer a blessing? For it is not to be supposed that the transgressor becomes forthwith also blessed; he is simply released from his sins. But this, “Like unto me,” would no wise apply. “Hear ye Him,” he says; and not this alone, but he adds, “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” When he has shown them that they had sinned, and has imparted forgiveness to them, and promised good things, then indeed, then he says, “Moses also says the same thing.” What sort of connection is this: “Until the times of the restitution;” and then to introduce Moses, saying, that all that Christ said shall come to pass? Then also, on the other hand, he says, as matter of encomium (so that for this reason also ye ought to obey): “Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant:” i.e. heirs. Then why do you stand affected towards that which is your own, as if it were another’s? True, you have done deeds worthy of condemnation; still you may yet obtain pardon. Having said this, with reason he is now able to say, “Unto you God sent his Son Jesus to bless you.” He says not, To save you, but what is greater; that the crucified Jesus blessed His crucifiers.

Let us then also imitate Him. Let us cast out that spirit of murder and enmity. It is not enough not to retaliate (for even in the Old Dispensation this was exemplified); but let us do all as we would for bosom-friends, as we would for ourselves so for those who have injured us. We are followers of Him, we are His disciples, who after being crucified, sets everything in action in behalf of his murderers, and sends out His Apostles to this end. And yet we have often suffered justly; but those acted not only unjustly, but impiously; for He was their Benefactor, He had done no evil, and they crucified Him. And for what reason? For the sake of their reputation. But He Himself made them objects of reverence. “The scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that do ye, but after their works do ye not.” (Matt. 28. 2.) And again in another place, “Go thy way, show thyself to the priest.” (ib. 8. 4.) Besides, when He might have destroyed them, He saves them. Let us then imitate Him, and let no one be an enemy, no one a foe, except to the devil.

Not a little does the habit of not swearing contribute to this end: I mean to the not giving way to wrath: and by not giving way to wrath, we shall not have an enemy either. Lop off the oaths of a man, and you have clipt the wings of his anger, you have smothered all his passion. Swearing, it is said, is as the wind to wrath. Lower the sails; no need of sails, when there is no wind. If then we do not clamor, and do not swear, we have cut the sinews of passion. And if you doubt this, just put it to experiment. Impose it as a law upon the passionate man that he shall never swear, and you will have no necessity of preaching moderation to him. So the whole business is finished. For even though you do not forswear yourselves yet, by swearing at all, do you not know in what absurd consequences you involve yourselves—binding yourselves to an absolute necessity and as with a cord, and putting yourselves to all manner of shifts, as men studying how to rescue their soul from an evil which there is no escaping, or, failing of that, obliged by that self-imposed necessity to spend your life thenceforth in vexation, in quarrels, and to curse your wrath? But all is in vain, and to no purpose. Threaten, be peremptory (διόρισαι), do all, whatever it be, without swearing; so: it is in your power to reverse (ἀναλὕσαι) both what you have said and what you have done if you have the mind. Thus on the present day I must needs speak more gently to you. For since ye have heard me, and the greater part of the reformation is achieved by you, now then let us see for what purpose the taking of oaths was introduced, and why allowed to be. In relating to you their first origin, and when they were conceived, and how, and by whom we shall give you this account in requital for your obedience. For it is fit that he who has made his practice right, should be taught the philosophy of the matter, but he who is not yet doing the right, is not worthy to be told the history.

They made many covenants in Abraham’s time, and slew victims, and offered sacrifices, and as yet oaths were not. Whence then did they come in? When evil increased, when all was confusion, upside down, when men had turned aside to idolatry: then it was, then, when men appeared no longer worthy to be believed, that they called God as witness, as if thereby giving an adequate surety for what they said. Such in fact is the Oath: it is a security where men’s principles cannot be trusted. So that in the indictment of the swearer the first charge is this,—that he is not to be trusted without a surety, and a great surety too: for such is the exceeding faithlessness, that they ask not man as surety, but will needs have God! Secondly, the same charge lies against him who receives the oath: that, in a question of compact, he must drag in God for warranty, and refuse to be satisfied unless he get Him. O the excessive stupidity, the insolence of such conduct! Thou, a worm, earth and dust, and ashes, and vapor, to drag in thy Lord as the surety, and to compel the other to drag Him in likewise! Tell me, if your servants were disputing with each other, and exchanging assurances with each other, and the fellow-servant should declare that for his part he would not be satisfied till he had their common master given him for surety, would he not have stripes given him without number, and be made to know that the master is for other purposes, and not to be put to any such use as this? Why do I speak of a fellow-servant? For should he choose any respectable person, would not that person consider it an affront? But I do not wish to do this, say you. Well: then do not compel the other to do so either: since where men only are in question, this is done—if your party says, “I give such an one as my surety,” you do not allow him. “What then,” say you, “am I to lose what I have given?” I am not speaking of this; but that you allow him to insult God. For which reason greater shall be the inevitable punishment to him who forces the oath upon another, than to him who takes it: the same holds with regard to him who gives an oath when no one asks him. And what makes it worse, is, that every one is ready to swear, for one farthing, for some petty item, for his own injustice. All this may be said, when there is no perjury; but if perjury follow in the train, both he that imposes and he that takes the oath have turned everything upside down. “But there are some things,” you will say, “which are unknown.” Well take these into account, and do nothing negligently; but, if you do act negligently, take the loss to yourself as your punishment. It is better to be the loser thus, than in a very different way. For tell me—you force a man to take an oath, with what expectation? That he will forswear himself? But this is utter insanity; and the judgment will fall upon your own head; better you should lose your money, than he be lost. Why act thus to your own detriment, and to the insulting of God? This is the spirit of a wild beast, and of an impious man. But you do this in the expectation that he will not forswear himself? Then trust him without the oath. “Nay, there are many,” you reply, “who in the absence of an oath would presume to defraud; but, once the oath taken, would refrain.” You deceive yourself, man. A man having once learnt to steal, and to wrong his neighbor, will presume full oft to trample upon his oath; if on the contrary he shrinks from swearing, he will much more shrink from injustice. “But he is influenced against his will.” Well then, he deserves pardon.

But why am I speaking of this kind of oaths, while I pass over those in the market-place? For as regards these last, you can urge none of these pleas. For ten farthings you there have swearing and forswearing. In fact, because the thunderbolt does not actually fall from heaven, because all things are not overthrown, you stand holding God in your bonds: to get a few vegetables, a pair of shoes, for a little matter of money, calling Him to witness. What is the meaning of this? Do not let us imagine, that because we are not punished, therefore we do not sin; this comes of God’s mercy; not of our merit. Let your oath be an imprecation upon your own child, upon your own self: say, “Else let the hangman lash my ribs.” But you dare not. Is God less valuable than thy ribs? is He less precious than thy pate? Say “Else let me be struck blind.” But no. Christ so spares us, that He will not let us swear even by our own head; and yet we so little spare the honor of God, that on all occasions we must drag Him in! Ye know not what God is, and with what sort of lips he behooves to be invoked. Why, when we speak of any man of eminent worth, we say, “First wash your mouth, and then make mention of him:” and yet, that precious Name which is above every name, the Name which is marvellous in all the earth, the Name which devils hear and tremble, we haul about as we list! Oh! the force of habit! thereby has that Name become cheap. No doubt, if you impose on any one the necessity of coming into the sacred edifice to take his oath there, you feel that you have made the oath an awful one. And yet how is it that it seems awful in this way, but because we have been in the habit of using that at random, but not this? For ought not a shudder of awe to be felt when God is but named? But now, whereas among the Jews His Name was held to be so reverend, that it was written upon plates, and none was allowed to wear the characters except the high-priest alone: we bandy about His Name like any ordinary word. If simply to name God was not allowed to all; to call Him to witness, what audacity is it! nay, what madness! For if need were (rather than this) to fling away all that you have, ought you not readily to part with all? Behold, I solemnly declare and testify; reform these oaths of the forum, these superfluous oaths, and bring to me all those who wish to take them. Behold, in the presence of this assembly, I charge those who are set apart for the tending of the Houses of Prayer, I exhort and issue this order to them, that no person be allowed to take such oaths at his own discretion: or rather, that none be allowed to swear in any other way, but that the person be brought to me, whosoever he be, since even for these matters less will not serve but they must needs come before us, just as if one had to do with little children. May there be no occasion! It is a shame in some things still to need to be taught. Do you dare to touch the Holy Table, being a person unbaptized? No, but what is still worse, you the baptized dare to lay your hand upon the Holy Table, which not even all ordained persons are allowed to touch, and so to take your oath. Now you would not go and lay your hand upon the head of your child, and yet do you touch the Table, and not shudder, not feel afraid? Bring these men to me; I will judge, and send them away rejoicing, both the one and the other. Do what you choose; I lay it down as a law that there be no swearing at all. What hope of salvation, while we thus make all to have been done in vain? Is this the end of your bills, and your bonds, that you should sacrifice your own soul? What gain do you get so great as the loss? Has he forsworn himself? You have undone both him and yourself. But has he not? even so still you have undone (both), by forcing him to transgress the commandment. Let us cast out this disease from the soul: at any rate let us drive it out of the forum, out of our shops, out of our other work-places; our profits will but be the greater. Do not imagine that the success of your worldly plans is to be ensured by transgressions of the Divine laws. “But he refuses to trust me,” say you; and in fact I have sometimes heard this said by some: “Unless I swear oaths without number, the man will not trust me.” Yes, and for this you may thank yourself, because you are so off-hand with your oaths. For were it not so, but on the contrary were it clear to all men that you do not swear, take my word for it, you would be more readily believed upon your mere nod, than those are who swallow oaths by thousands. For look now: which do you more readily believe? me who do not swear, or those that do swear? “Yes,” say you, “but then you are ruler and bishop.” Then suppose I prove to you that it is not only for that reason? Answer me with truth, I beseech you; were I in the habit of perpetually swearing, would my office stand me in that stead? Not a whit. Do you see that it is not for this reason? And what do you gain at all? Answer me that. Paul endured hunger; do you then also choose to hunger rather than to transgress one of the commandments of God. Why are you so unbelieving? Here are you, ready to do and suffer all things for the sake of not swearing: and shall not He reward you? Shall He, Who sustains day by day both takers and breakers of oaths, give you over to hunger, when you have obeyed Him? Let all men see, that of those who assemble in this Church not one is a swearer. By this also let us become manifest, and not by our creed alone; let us have this mark also to distinguish us both from the Gentiles and from all men. Let us receive it as a seal from heaven, that we may everywhere be seen to be the King’s own flock. By our mouth and tongue let us be known, in the first place, just as the barbarians are by theirs: even as those who speak Greek are distinguished from barbarians, so let us be known. Answer me: the birds which are said to be parrots, how are they known to be parrots? is it not by speaking like men? Let us then be known by speaking like the Apostles; by speaking like the Angels. If any one bid you swear tell him, “Christ has spoken, and I do not swear.” This is enough to make a way for all virtue to come in. It is a gate to religion, a high road leading to the philosophy of piety; a kind of training-school. These things let us observe, that we may obtain also the future blessings, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, power and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 10 Acts 4. “And as they spake unto the people, there came unto them the priests, and the captain of the temple.”

Ere yet they had time to take breath after their first trials, straightway they enter into others. And observe how the events are disposed. First, they were all mocked together; this was no small trial: secondly, they enter into dangers. And these two things do not take place in immediate succession; but when first the Apostles have won admiration by their two discourses, and after that have performed a notable miracle, thereupon it is that, after they are waxen bold, through God’s disposal, they enter the lists. But I wish you to consider, how those same persons, who in the case of Christ must need look out for one to deliver Him up to them, now with their own hands arrest the Apostles, having become more audacious and more impudent since the Crucifixion. In truth, sin, while it is yet struggling to the birth, is attended with some sense of shame; but when once fully born, it makes those more shameless who practise it. “And the captain of the temple,” it is said. The object again was to attach a public criminality to what was doing, and not to prosecute it as the act of private individuals: such in fact was constantly their plan of proceeding.

“Being grieved that they taught the people.” (v. 2.) Not merely because they taught, but because they declared, not alone that Christ Himself was risen from the dead, but moreover, that we through Him do rise again. “Because they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” So mighty was His Resurrection, that to others also He is the cause of a resurrection. “And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day; for it was now eventide. (v. 3.) What impudence! They feared not the multitude; for this also the captain of the temple was with them: they had their hands still reeking with the blood of the former victim. “For it was now eventide,” it is said. It was with the wish to abate their spirit that those men did this, and guarded them; but the delay only served to make the Apostles more intrepid. And consider who these are who are arrested. They are the chiefs of the Apostles, who are now become a pattern to the rest, that they should no longer crave each other’s support, nor want to be together. “Howbeit, many having heard the word, believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” (v. 4.) How was this? Did they see them in honor? Did they not behold them put in bonds? How then did they believe? Do you see the evident efficacy? And yet even those that believed already might well have become weaker. But no, it is no longer so: for Peter’s sermon had laid the seed deep into them, and had taken a hold upon their understandings. Therefore were their enemies incensed, that they did not fear them, that they made no account of their present troubles. For, say they, if He that was crucified effects such great things, and makes the lame to walk, we fear not these men either. This again is of God’s ordering. For those who now believe were more numerous than the former. Therefore it was that in their presence they bound the Apostles, to make them also more fearful. But the reverse took place. And they examine them not before the people, but privately, that the hearers may not profit by their boldness.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the High Priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the High Priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.” (v. 5, 6.) For now along with the other evils (of the times), the Law was no longer observed. And again they set off the business with the form of a tribunal, to constitute them guilty by their iniquitous sentence. “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (v. 7.) And yet they knew it well; for it was because they were “grieved that they preached through Jesus the resurrection” that they arrested them. Then for what purpose do they question them? They expected the numbers present would make them recant, and thought by this means to have put all right again. Observe then what they say: “And by what name have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them.” (v. 8.) And now, I pray you, call to mind Christ’s saying; “When they deliver you up unto the synagogues, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall speak; for it is the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Luke 12. 114.) So that it was a mighty Power they enjoyed. What then says Peter? “Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel.” Mark the Christian wisdom of the man; how full of confidence it is: he utters not a word of insult, but says with respect, “Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we be this day called to account of the good deed done to the impotent man.” He takes them in hand right valiantly; by the opening of his speech he exposes them, and reminds them of the former things: that it is for a work of beneficence they are calling them to account. As if he had said, “In all fairness we ought to have been crowned for this deed, and proclaimed benefactors; but since “we are even put upon our trial for a good deed done to an impotent man,” not a rich man, not powerful, not noble—and yet who would feel envy in a case like this?” It is a most forcible (ἀπαγγελια, al. ἐπαγγελία) way of putting the case; and he shows that they are piercing their own selves:—“By what means this man is made whole: be it known unto you all, and to all the people Israel; that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth:”—this is what would vex them most. For this was that which Christ had told the disciples, “What ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops.—That in the name of Jesus Christ,” he says, “of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.” (v. 10). (Matt. 10. 27.) Think not, he says that we conceal the country, or the nature of the death. “Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand before you whole.” Again the death, again the resurrection. “This is the stone,” he says, “which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” (v. 11.) He reminds them also of a saying which was enough to frighten them. For it had been said, “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matt. 244.)—Neither is there salvation in any other, (v. 12.) Peter says. What wounds, think you, must these words inflict on them! “For there is none other name,” he continues, “under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Here he utters also lofty words. For when the object is, not to carry some point successfully, but only to show boldness he does not spare; for he was not afraid of striking too deep. Nor does he say simply, “By another;” but, “Neither is there salvation in any other:” that is, He is able to save us. In this way he subdued their threatening.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (v. 13.) The two unlearned men beat down with their rhetoric them and the chief priests. For it was not they that spake, but the grace of the Spirit. “And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” (v. 14.) Great was the boldness of the man; that even in the judgment-hall he has not left them. For had they said that the fact was not so, there was he to refute them. “But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What are we to do to these men?” (v. 15.) See the difficulty they are in, and how the fear of men again does everything. As in the case of Christ, they were not able (as the saying is) to undo what is done, nor to cast it into the shade, but for all their hindering, the Faith did but gain ground the more; so was it now. “What shall we do?” O the folly! to suppose that those who had tasted of the conflict, would now take fright at it: to expect, impotent as their efforts had proved in the beginning, to effect something new, after such a specimen of oratory as had been exhibited! The more they wished to hinder, the more the business grew upon their hands. But what say they? “For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach, in the name of Jesus.” (v. 16–18.) See what effrontery is shown by these, and what greatness of mind by the Apostles. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people.” (v. 19–21.) The miracles shut their mouths: they would not so much as let them finish their speech, but cut them short in the middle, most insolently. “For all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed.” (v. 22.) But let us look over what has been said from the beginning.

“And as they spake unto the people, etc. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Recapitulation, 5. 2.) So then at first they did all for the sake of man’s opinion (or glory): but now another motive was added: that they should not be thought guilty of murder, as they said subsequently, “Do ye wish to bring this man’s blood on us?” (ch. 5. 28.) O the folly! Persuaded that He was risen, and having received this proof of it, they expected that He Whom death could not hold, could be cast into the shade by their machinations! What can match the folly of this! Such is the nature of wickedness: it has no eyes for anything, but on all occasions it is thrown into perturbation. Finding themselves overborne, they felt like persons who have been outwitted: as is the case with people who have been forestalled and made a sport of in some matter. And yet they everywhere affirmed that it was God that raised Him: but it was “in the Name of Jesus” that they spake; showing that Jesus was risen. “Through Jesus, the resurrection of the dead”: for they themselves also held a resurrection: a cold and puerile doctrine, indeed, but still they held it. Why this alone, was it not sufficient to induce them to do nothing to them—I mean, that the disciples with such boldness bore themselves in the way they did? Say, wherefore, O Jew, dost thou disbelieve? Thou oughtest to have attended to the sign done, and to the words, not to the evil disposition of the many. “By their teaching the people.” For already they were in ill repute with them by reason of what they had done to Christ; so that they were rather increasing their own obloquy. “And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold until the morrow; for it was now eventide.” (v. 3.) In the case of Christ, however, they did not so; but having taken Him at midnight, they immediately led him away, and made no delay, being exceedingly in fear of the multitude: whereas in the case of the Apostles here, they were bold. And they no more take them to Pilate, being ashamed and blushing at the thought of the former affair, lest they should also be taken to task for that.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes were gathered together at Jerusalem.” (v. 5.) Again in Jerusalem: and there it is that men’s blood is poured out; no reverence for their city either; “And Annas, and Caiaphas,” etc. (v. 6.) “And Annas,” it says, “and Caiaphas.” His maid-servant it was that questioned Peter, and he could not bear it: in his house it was that Peter denied, when Another was in bonds there: but now, when he has come into the midst of them all, see how he speaks! “By what name have ye done this?” Why dost thou not speak it, what it is, but keepest that out of sight? “By what name have ye done this?” (v. 7.) And yet he affirmed, It was not we that did it. “Ye rulers of the people,” etc. (v. 8.) Observe his wisdom: he does not say outright, “In the Name of Jesus we did it,” but how? “In His Name this man”—He does not say, “was made whole by us;” but—“doth stand here before you whole.” And again, “If we be examined concerning the good deed done to the impotent man.” (v. 9.) He hits them hard, that they are always making a crime of such acts, finding fault with works of beneficence done to men: and he reminds them of their former doings, that they run to do murder, and not only so, but make a crime of doing good deeds. Do you observe too (in point of rhetoric) with what dignity they express themselves? Even in the use of words they were becoming expert by practice, and henceforth they were not to be beaten down. “Be it known unto you all,” etc. (v. 10.) Whereby he shows them that they rather do, in spite of themselves, preach Christ; themselves extol the doctrine, by their examining and questioning. O exceeding boldness—“Whom ye crucified! Whom God raised up”—this is bolder still! Think not that we hide what there is to be ashamed of. He says this all but tauntingly: and not merely says it, but dwells upon the matter. “This,” says he, “is the Stone which was set at naught by you builders;” and then he goes on to teach them, saying in addition, “Which is made the head of the corner” (v. 11.); that is to say, that the Stone is indeed approved! Great was the boldness they now had, in consequence of the miracle. And when there was need to teach, observe how they speak and allege many prophecies; but when the point was to use boldness of speech, then they only speak peremptorily. Thus “Neither,” says he, “is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (v. 12.) It is manifest to all, he says, because not to us alone was that Name given; he cites even themselves as witnesses. For, since they asked, “In what name did ye it?” “In Christ’s,” says he: “there is none other name. How is it that ye ask? On all hands this is palpable. “For there exists not another name under heaven, whereby we must be saved.” This is the language of a soul which has renounced (κατεγνωκυίας) this present life. His exceeding out-spokenness proves here, that when he speaks in lowly terms of Christ, he does it not of fear, but of wise forbearance (συγκαταβαίνων): but now that it was the fitting time, he speaks not in lowly terms: by this very thing intending to strike dismay into them. Behold another miracle not less than the former. “And beholding the boldness of Peter and John,” etc. “And they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” (v. 13.) Not without a meaning has the Evangelist set down this passage; but in saying, “they recognized them that they had been with Jesus,” he means, in His Passion: for only these were with Him at that time, and then indeed they had seen them humble, dejected: and this it was that most surprised them: the greatness of the change. For in fact Annas and Caiaphas with their company were there, and these then also had stood by Him, and their boldness now amazed them. “And beholding the boldness.” For not only their words; their very bearing showed it; that they should stand there so intrepidly to be tried in a cause like this, and with uttermost peril impending over them! Not only by their words, but by their gesture also, and their look and voice, and, in short, by everything about them, they manifested the boldness with which they confronted the people. From the things they uttered, they marvelled, perhaps: “that they were unlearned and common men:” for one may be unlearned, yet not a common or private man, and a common man, yet not unlearned. “Having perceived,” it says. Whence? From what they said? Peter does not draw out long speeches, but then by his very manner and method (τἥς ἀπαγγελίας καὶ τἥς συνθήκης) he declares his confidence. “And they recognized them that they had been with Jesus.” Which circumstance made them believe that it was from Him they had learned these things, and that they did all in the character of His disciples. But not less than the voice of these, the miracle uttered a voice of its own: and that sign itself stopped their mouths. “And beholding the man,” etc. So that they would have been peremptory (ἐπέσκηψαν) with them, if the man had not been with them. “We cannot deny it.” So that they would have denied it, if the thing had not been so: if the testimony had not been that of the people in general. “But that it spread no further among the people.” (v. 17.) And yet it was palpable to all men! But such is the nature of wickedness: everywhere it is shamed. “Let us straitly threaten them.” What sayest thou? Threaten? And expect ye to stop the preaching? And yet all beginnings are hard and trying. Ye slew the Master, and did not stop it: and now, if ye threaten, do ye expect to turn us back? The imprisonment did not prevail with us to speak submissively, and shall ye prevail? “And they called them, and commanded them,” etc. (v. 18, 19.) It had been much better for them to let them go. “And Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” When the terror was abated (for that command was tantamount to their being dismissed), then also the Apostles speak more mildly: so far were they from mere bravery: “Whether it be right,” says he: and “We cannot but speak. Whether it be right in the sight of God to obey you rather than God.” (v. 20.) Here by “God” they mean Christ, for he it was that commanded them. And once more they confirm the fact of His Resurrection. “For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard:” so that we are witnesses who have a right to be believed. “So when they had further threatened them.” (v. 21.) Again they threatened in vain. “They let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.” So then the people glorified God, but these endeavored to destroy them: such fighters against God were they! Whereby they made them more conspicuous and illustrious. “For My strength,” it is said, “is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12. 9.)

Already these as martyrs have borne testimony: set in the battle against all, they said, “We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” If the things we speak be false, reprehend them; if true, why hinderest thou? Such is philosophy! Those, in perplexity, these in gladness: those covered with exceeding shame, these doing all with boldness: those in fear, these in confidence. For who, I would ask, were the frightened? those who said, “That it spread no further among people,” or these who said, “we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard?” And these had a delight, a freedom of speech, a joy surpassing all; those a despondency, a shame, a fear; for they feared the people. But these were not afraid of those; on the contrary, while these spake what they would, those did not what they would. Which were in chains and dangers? was it not these last?

Let us then hold fast to virtue; let not these words end only in delight, and in a certain elevation of the spirits. This is not the theatre, for singers (κιθαρώδων), and tragedians, and musicians (κιθαριστὥν), where the fruit consists only in the enjoyment and where the enjoyment itself passes with the passing day. Nay, would that it were enjoyment alone, and not mischief also with the enjoyment! But so it is: each man carries home with him much of what he has witnessed there, sticking to him like the infection of a plague: and one indeed, of the younger sort, having culled such snatches of song here and there of those satanic plays, as he could fix in his memory, goes singing them about the house: while another, a senior, and forsooth too staid for such levity, does not this indeed, but what is there spoken, both the preachments and the very words, he remembers it all; and another again, some filthy and absurd ditty. From this place you depart, taking nothing with you.—We have laid down a law—nay, not we: God forbid! for it is said, “Call no man your master upon the earth” (Matt. 28. 8); Christ has laid down a law that none should swear. Now, say, what has been done with regard to this law? For I will not cease speaking of it; “lest,” as the Apostle saith, “if I come again, I must not spare.” (2 Cor. 13. 2.) I ask then, have you laid the matter to heart? have you thought of it seriously? have you been in earnest about it, or must we again take up the same subject? Nay, rather, whether you have or not, we will resume it, that you may think seriously about it, or, if you have laid it to heart, may again do this the more surely, and exhort others also. With what then, I pray you, with what shall we begin? Shall it be with the Old Testament? For indeed this also is to our shame, that the precepts of the Law, which we ought to surpass, we do not even thus observe! For we ought not to be hearing such matters as these: these are precepts adapted to the poor Jewish level (τἥς ᾽Ιουδαἳκἥς εὐτελείας): we ought to be hearing those counsels of perfection; “Cast away thy property, stand courageously, and give up thy life in behalf of the Gospel, scorn all the goods of earth, have nothing in common with this present life; if any wrong thee, do him good; if any defraud thee, bless him; if any revile thee, show him honor; be above everything.” (S. Ambros. de Off. i. 2.) These and such as these are what we ought to be hearing. But here are we discoursing about swearing; and our case is just the same as if, when a person ought to be a philosopher, one should take him away from the great masters, and set him to spell syllables letter by letter! Just think now what a disgrace it would be for a man having a flowing beard, and with staff in hand, and cope on shoulders, to go to school with children, and be set the same tasks with them: would it not be above measure ridiculous? And yet the ridicule which belongs to us is even greater. For not as the difference between philosophy and the spelling-lesson, so is that between the Jewish polity and ours: no indeed, but as the difference between angels and men. Say now, if one could fetch down an angel from heaven, and should bid him stand here and listen to our preaching, as one whose duty it is to conform himself thereto, would it not be shameful and preposterous? But if to be yet, like children, under teaching about these things be ridiculous; what must it be, not even to attend to these things: how great the condemnation, how great the shame! To be Christians still, and to have to learn that it is not right to swear! However, let us put up with that, lest we incur even worse ridicule.

Well, then, let us speak to you to-day from the Old Testament. What does it tell us? “Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One.” And why? “For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth.” (Ecclus. 28. 10.) See the discernment of this wise man. He did not say, “Accustom not to swearing” thy mind, but “thy mouth”; because being altogether an affair of the mouth, thus it is easily remedied. For at last it becomes a habit without intention; as for instance, there are many who entering the public baths, as soon as they have passed the threshold, cross (Hom. in 1 Cor. 17) themselves (σφραγίζονται). This the hand has got to do, without any one’s bidding, by force of habit. Again, at the lighting of a candle, often when the mind is intent on something else, the hand makes the sign. In the same way also the mouth, without concurrence of the mind, articulates the word, from mere habit, and the whole affair is in the tongue. “Neither use thyself,” he says, “to the naming of the Holy One. For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth.” He speaks not here of false oaths, but he cuts down all oaths, and to them also assigns their punishment. Why then, swearing is a sin. For such in truth is the soul; full of all these ulcers, all these scars. But you do not see them? Yes, this is the mischief of it; and yet you might see if you wished; for God has given you eyes. With eyes of this kind did the Prophet see, when he said, “My wounds stink, and are corrupt, because of my foolishness.” (Ps. xxxviii. 5.) We have despised God, we have hated that good Name, we have trodden Christ under foot, we have lost all reverence, none names the Name of God with honor. Yet if you love any one, even at his name you start to your feet; but God you thus continually invoke, and make nothing of it. Call upon Him for the benefit of your enemy; call upon Him for the salvation of your own soul; then he will be present, then you will delight Him; whereas now you provoke Him to anger. Call upon Him as Stephen did; “Lord,” he said, “lay not this sin to their charge.” (ch. 7. 59.) Call upon Him as did the wife of Elkanah, with tears and sobs, and prayers. (1 Sam. 10.) I prevent you not, rather I earnestly exhort you to it. Call upon him as Moses called upon Him, yea, cried, interceding for those who had driven him into banishment. For you to make mention at random of any person of consideration, is taken as an insult: and do you bandy God about in your talk, in season, out of season? I do not want to hinder you from keeping God always in your mind: nay, this I even desire and pray for, only that you should do this, so as to honor Him. Great good would this have done us, if we had called upon God only when we ought, and for what we ought. And why, I would ask, were such miracles wrought in the Apostles’ times, and not in ours? And yet it is the same God, the same Name. But no, the case is not the same. For then they called upon Him only for those objects which I have mentioned; whereas we call upon Him not for these, but quite other purposes.—If a man refuse to believe you, and that is why you swear, say to him, “Believe me:” however, if you will needs make oath, swear by yourself. I say this, not to set up a law against Christ’s law; God forbid; for it is said. “Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay (Matt. 5. 37): but by way of coming down to your present level, that I may more easily lead you to the practice of this commandment, and divert you from this tyrannical habit. How many who have done well in other respects, have been undone by these practices! Shall I tell you why it was permitted the ancients to take oaths? (for to take false oaths, was not permitted to them either.) Because they swore by idols. But are you not ashamed to rest in laws, by which they in their infirmity were led on to something better? It is true, when I take a Gentile in hand, I do not immediately lay this injunction upon him, but in the first place I exhort him to know Christ; but if the believer, who has both learnt Him and heard Him, must needs crave the same forbearance with the Gentile, what is the use, what the gain (of his Christianity?)—But the habit is strong, and you cannot detach yourself from it? Well then, since the tyranny of habit is so great, transfer it into another channel. And how is this to be done? you will ask. What I have said often, I say also now; let there be many monitors (λογισταὶ), let there be many examiners and censors (ἐξετασταὶ, δοκιμασταί). Say, if you chance to put on your mantle inside out, you allow your servant to correct your mistake, and are ashamed to learn of him, although there is much to be ashamed of in this; and here when you are getting hurt to your soul, are you ashamed to be taught better by another? You suffer your menial to put your dress in order, and to fasten your shoes, and will you not endure him that would put your soul in order? Let even your menial, your child, your wife, your friend, your kinsman, your neighbor, be your teachers on this point. For as when a wild beast is hunted down from all sides, it is impossible for it to escape; so he that has so many to watch him, so many to reprove him, who is liable to be struck at from all sides, cannot help being on his guard. The first day he will find it hard to put up with, and the second, and the third; but after that it will come easier, and, the fourth passed, there will not even be anything to do. Make the experiment, if you doubt me; take it into consideration, I beseech you. It is not a trifling matter to be wrong in, nor yet to come right in; on both sides it is great for evil and for good. May the good be effected, through the grace and loving-mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 11 Acts 4. 23 “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.”

Not for their own glory did they tell the tale—how should such be their motive?—but what they displayed was the proofs therein exhibited of the grace of Christ. All that their adversaries had said, this they told; their own part, it is likely, they omitted: this made the hearers all the more courageous. What then? These again flee to the true Succor, to the Alliance invincible, and again, “with one accord. And when they heard that,” it is said, “with one accord they lifted up their voice to God, and said:” (v. 2 and with great earnestness, for it is no prayer made at random. Observe with what exquisite propriety their prayers are framed: thus, when they besought to be shown who was meet for the Apostleship, they said, “Thou, Lord, which knowest the heart of all men, show:” (ch. 2 for it was a subject for Prescience there: but here, where the thing needed was that the mouths of their adversaries should be stopped, they speak of lordship; wherefore they begin thus: Lord, “(Δέσποτα) the God that madest heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who, by the Holy Ghost through the mouth of Thy servant, David our father, didst say, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ.” (v. 24–26.) It is to sue God, as one may say upon His own covenants, that they thus produce this prophecy: and at the same time to comfort themselves with the thought, that in vain are all the imaginations of their foes. This then is what they say: Bring those words into accomplishment, and show that they “imagine vain things.—For of a truth,” they proceed, “there were gathered together in this city, against Thy holy Child Jesus, (Παἵδα) Whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings.” (v. 27–29.) Observe their largeness of mind (φιλοσοφίαν). These are not words of imprecation. In saying, “their threatenings, they do not mean this or that thing specifically threatened, but only in general, the fact of their threatening, perhaps, as being formidable. In fact, the writer is concise in his narrative. And observe, they do not say, “Crush them, cast them down;” but what? “And grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word.” Let us also learn thus to pray. And yet how full of wrath one would be, when fallen among men intent upon killing him, and making threats to that effect? how full of animosity? But not so these saints. “By stretching forth Thine hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by the Name of Thy holy Child Jesus.” (v. 30.) If in that Name the mighty deeds are wrought, great will be the boldness.

“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together.” (v. 31.) This was the proof that they were heard, and of His visitation. “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” What means, “They were filled?” It means, They were inflamed; and the Gift burned up within them. “And they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” (v. 32.) Do you see that together with the grace of God they also contributed their part? For everywhere it ought to be well observed, that together with the grace of God they do their part likewise. Just as Peter said above, “Silver and gold have I none”; and again, that “they were all together.” (ch. 3. 6.) But in this place, having mentioned that they were heard, the sacred writer proceeds to speak also of them, what virtue they showed. Moreover, he is just about to enter upon the narrative of Sapphira and Ananias, and with a view to show the detestable conduct of that pair, he first discourses of the noble behavior of the rest. Now say, did their love beget their poverty, or the poverty the love? In my opinion, the love begat the poverty, and then the poverty drew tight the cords of love. For observe what he says: “They were all of one heart and of one soul.” Behold, heart and soul are what make the “together.” “Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power the Apostles rendered their testimony (ἀπεδίδουν) of the resurrection.” (v. 33.) The phrase betokens them to be as persons put in trust with a deposit: he speaks of it as a debt or obligation: that is, their testimony they with boldness did render, or pay off, to all. “And great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked.” (v. 34.) Their feeling was just as if they were under the paternal roof, all for awhile sharing alike. It is not to be said, that though indeed they maintained the rest, yet they did it with the feeling that the means whereof they maintained them were still their own. No, the admirable circumstance is this, that they first alienated their property, and so maintained the rest, on purpose that the maintenance might not come as of their own private means, but as of the common property. “For as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the price of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles’ feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” (v. 35.) A great mark of honor this, that “they laid them at the Apostles’ feet. And Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (‘which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation.’)” (v. 36.) I do not think that this is the same with the companion of Matthias; for that person was also called Justus and Barsabas, but this, Joses and “Barnabas” “son of consolation“. I suppose he also received the name from his virtue, as being qualified and suited for this duty. “A Levite, and of the country of Cyprus by birth.” Observe on all occasions how the writer indicates the breaking up of the Law. But how was he also a “Cyprian by birth?” Because they then even removed to other countries, and still were called Levites. “Having land, sold it, and brought the price, and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.

Let us now look over again what has been said. “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.” (Recapitulation, 5. 23.) See the unostentatious conduct of the Apostles, and their largeness of mind. They did not go about boasting, and say, “How we served (ἀπεχρησάμεθα) the priests!” nor were they ambitious of honor: but, we read, “they came unto their own company. Observe how they do not cast themselves upon temptations, but when the temptations present themselves, with courage endure them. Had it been some other of the disciples, perhaps, emboldened by the countenance of the multitude, he might have insulted, might have vented ever so many harsh expressions. But not so these true philosophers; they do all with mildness and with gentleness. “And when they heard that, we read, with one accord they lifted up their voice to God.” (v. 24.) That shout proceeded from delight and great emotion. Such indeed are the prayers which do their work, prayers replete with true philosophy, prayers offered up for such objects, by such persons, on such occasions, in such a manner; whereas all others are abominable and profane. “Lord, Thou the God that madest heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” Observe how they say nothing idle, no old wives’ talk and fables, but speak of His power. Just as Christ Himself said to the Jews, “If I by the Spirit of God do cast out devils:” behold the Father also speaks by the Spirit. For what saith it? “Lord, the God Who, by the Holy Ghost, through the mouth of our father Thy servant David didst say, Why did the nations rage?” (v. 25.) Scripture is wont thus to speak of one as of many. “For of a truth, Lord, against Thy Holy Child Jesus, Whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate,” etc. (v. 27.) Observe how, even in prayer, they circumstantially describe the Passion, and refer all to God.—That is, Not they had power to do this: but Thou didst it all, Thou that didst permit, that dost call to account, and yet didst bring to accomplishment, Thou the All-skilful and Wise, that didst serve Thee of Thine enemies for Thine own pleasure. (v. 28.) “For to do whatever Thy hand,” etc. Here they discourse of His exceeding Skill and Wisdom and Power. So then, as enemies they came together, and with murderous purpose, and as opposing themselves, but they did what things Thou wouldest: “For to do,” as it is said, “whatsoever Thy hand and Thy purpose determined before to be done.” What means, “Thy hand?” Here he seems to me to denote one and the same thing by power and purpose, meaning that for Thee it is enough but to will: for it is not by power that one determines. “Whatsoever Thy hand,” etc. i.e. Whatsoever Thou didst ordain: either this is the meaning, or, that by His hand He did effect. “And now, Lord, regard their threatenings.” (v. 29.) As at that time, it is said, they “imagined vain things,” so “now,” grant that their imaginations may be in vain: i.e. let not their threatenings come into accomplishment. And this they said not because they would themselves deprecate any hardship, but for the preaching’s sake. For they do not say, “and deliver us out of dangers;” but what? “And grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word.” Thou Who didst bring to pass the former designs, bring these also to accomplishment. Observe, how they affirm God to be the Author of their confidence; and how they ask all for God’s sake, nothing for their own glory or ambition. They promise for their own part, that they will not be dismayed; but they pray that signs may be wrought “by stretching forth Thy hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done:” (v. 30) for without these, however great the zeal they showed, they would be striving to no purpose. God assented to their prayer, and manifested this, by shaking the place. For “when they had prayed,” it is said, “the place was shaken.” (v. 31.) And wherefore this was done, hear from the prophet, when he says, “He looketh on the earth, and maketh it to tremble. (Ps. civ. 32.) For by this He made it manifest that He is present to their prayers. And again, another prophet saith, “The earth was shaken, and did tremble at the presence of the Lord.” (Ps. 18. 7; lxviii. 8.) And God did this, both to make it more awful, and to lead them on to a courageous trust. “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” They gained increased boldness. As it was the beginning (of their work), and they had besought a sensible sign for their persuasion (πρὸς τὸ πεισθἥναι αὐτους)—but after this we nowhere find the like happening—therefore great was the encouragement they received. In fact, they had no means of proving that He was risen, save by miraculous signs. So that it was not only their own assurance (ἀσφαλείαν) that they sought: but that they might not be put to shame, but that they might speak with boldness. “The place was shaken,” and that made them all the more unshaken. For this is sometimes a token of wrath, sometimes of favor and providence, but on the present occasion, of wrath. For in those times it took place in an unusual manner. Thus, at the Crucifixion, the earth was shaken: and the Lord Himself says, “Then there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.” (Matt. 24. 7.) But then the wrath of which it was a sign was against the adversaries: as for the disciples, it filled them with the Spirit. Observe, even the Apostles, after the prayer, are “filled with the Holy Ghost.” “And the multitudes of them that believed,” etc. (v. 32.) Great, you perceive, is the virtue of this thing, seeing their was need of this (grace) even in that Company. For this is the foundation of all that is good, this of which he now for the second time makes mention, exhorting all men to the contempt of riches: “Neither said any of them that aught of the things he possessed was his own,” “but they had all things common.” For that this was in consequence not merely of the miraculous signs, but of their own purpose, is manifest by the case of Sapphira and Ananias. “And with great power gave the Apostles witness,” etc. (v. 33.) Not in word, but with power the Apostles exhibited their testimony of the Resurrection: just as Paul saith, “And my preaching was not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but with manifestation of the Spirit and of power.” And it is not merely, With power, but, “With great power.” (1 Cor. 2. 4.) “And great grace,” it says, “was upon them all; for neither was there any among them that lacked.” (v. 34.) This is why the grace (was upon them all,) for that “there was none that lacked:” that is, from the exceeding ardor of the givers, none was in want. For they did not give in part, and in part reserve: nor yet in giving all, give it as their own. And they lived moreover in great abundance: they removed all inequality from among them, and made a goodly order. “For as many as were possessors,” etc. And with great respect they did this: for they did not presume to give into their hands, nor did they ostentatiously present, but brought to the Apostles’ feet. To them they left it to be the dispensers, made them the owners, that thenceforth all should be defrayed as from common, not from private, property. This was also a help to them against vain-glory. If this were done now, we should live more pleasant lives, both rich and poor, nor would it be more pleasant to the poor than to the rich themselves. And if you please, let us now for awhile depict it in words, and derive at least this pleasure from it, since you have no mind for it in your actions. For at any rate this is evident, even from the facts which took place then, that by selling their possessions they did not come to be in need, but made them rich that were in need. However, let us now depict this state of things in words, and let all sell their possessions, and bring them into the common stock—in words, I mean: let none be excited, rich or poor. How much gold think you would be collected? For my part, I conjecture—for of course it is not possible to speak exactly—that supposing all here, men and women, to empty out their whole property, lands, possessions, houses,—for I will not speak of slaves, since at that time there was no such thing, but doubtless such as were slaves they sat at liberty,—perhaps ten hundred thousand pounds weight of gold would be the amount collected: nay, twice or thrice as much. For consider; at what number of “juga (yokes) is our city rated? How many (of the population) shall we say are Christians? shall we say an hundred thousand, and the rest Greeks and Jews? Then what thousands (of pounds) of gold would be collected! And what is the number of poor? I do not think more than fifty thousand. Then to feed that number daily, what abundance there would be! And yet if the food were received in common, all taking their meals together, it would require no such great outlay after all. But, you will ask, what should we do after the money was spent? And do you think it ever could be spent? Would not the grace of God be ten thousand fold greater? Would not the grace of God be indeed richly poured out? Nay, should we not make it a heaven upon earth? If, where the numbers were three thousand and five thousand, the doing of this thing had such splendid success, and none of them complained of poverty, how much more glorious would this be in so vast a multitude? And even of those that are without, who would not contribute?—But, to show that it is the living separately that is expensive and causes poverty, let there be a house in which are ten children: and the wife and the man, let the one work at her wool, the other bring his earnings from his outdoor occupation: now tell me, in which way would these spend most? by taking their meals together and occupying one house, or by living separately? Of course, by living separately. For if the ten children must live apart, they would need ten several rooms, ten tables, ten attendants, and the income otherwise in proportion. Is it not for this very reason, that where there is a great number of servants, they have all one table, that the expense may not be so great? For so it is, division always makes diminution, concord and agreement make increase. The dwellers in the monasteries live just as the faithful did then: now did ever any of these die of hunger? was ever any of them not provided for with plenty of everything? Now, it seems, people are more afraid of this than of falling into a boundless and bottomless deep. But if we had made actual trial of this, then indeed we should boldly venture upon this plan (τοὕ πράγματος). What grace too, think you, would there not be! For if at that time, when there was no believer but only the three thousand and the five thousand: when all, throughout the world, were enemies, when they could nowhere look for comfort, they yet boldly entered upon this plan with such success; how much more would this be the case now, when by the grace of God there are believers everywhere throughout the world? What Gentile would be left? For my part, I think there would not be one: we should so attract all, and draw them to us? But yet if we do but make fair progress, I trust in God that even this shall be realized. Only do as I say, and let us successfully achieve things in their regular order; if God grant life, I trust that we shall soon bring you over to this way of life.

In the first place, as regards that law about swearing: accomplish that; establish it firmly: and let him that has kept it make known him that has not, and call him to account withal and rebuke him sternly. For the (supra, Hom. viii.) appointed time (ἡ προθεσμία), is at hand and I am holding inquisition in the matter, and him that is found guilty I will banish and exclude. But God forbid that any such should be found among us; rather may it appear, that all have strictly kept this spiritual watchword. And as in war it is by the watchword that friends and strangers are shown, so let it be now; for indeed now also we are engaged in a war; that we may know our brethren that are properly such. For what a good thing it is that we should have this to be our cognizance both here and in a foreign land! What a weapon this, against the very head of the devil! A mouth that cannot swear will soon both engage God in prayers, and smite the devil a deadly blow. A mouth that cannot swear will also be incapable of using insulting language. Cast out this fire from your tongue, as you would from a house: this fire, drag it out. Give your tongue a little rest: make the sore less virulent. Yea, I beseech you, do this, that I may go on to set you another lesson: for as long as this is not rightly done, I dare not pass on to any other. Let this lesson be got perfectly, and you shall have a consciousness of the achievement, and then I will introduce you to other laws, or rather not I, but Christ. Implant in your soul this good thing, and by little and little ye shall be a paradise of God, far better than that paradise of old. No serpent among you, no deadly tree, nor any such thing. Fix this habit deep. If this be done, not ye only that are present shall be benefitted, but all that are in all the world; and not they alone, but those that are to succeed hereafter. For a good habit having once entered, and being kept by all, will be handed on to long ages, and no circumstances shall be able to erase it. If he that gathered sticks on the sabbath was stoned,—the man that is doing a far more heinous work than that gathering, the man that is amassing a load of sins, for such is the multitude of oaths, what shall he undergo? what shall he not have to endure? You will receive great assistance from God, if this be well achieved by you. If I were to say, Be not abusive, immediately you will plead to me your indignation; should I say, Be not envious, you will urge some other excuse. But in this case you have nothing of the kind to say. On which account I began with the easy precepts, which indeed is also the uniform practice in all arts. And thus one comes to the higher duties, by learning first those which are easier far. How easy it is you will see, when by the grace of God having succeeded in this, you shall receive another precept.

Put it in my power to speak out boldly, in the presence both of Gentiles and of Jews, and, above all, of God. Yea, I entreat you by the love, by the pangs wherewith I have travailed for your birth, “my little children.” I will not add what follows, “of whom I travail in birth again;” nor will I say, “until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4. 19). For I am persuaded, that Christ has been formed in you. Other language I will use towards you; “My brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown.” (Phil. 4. 1.) Believe me that I shall use no other language. If at this moment there were placed upon my head ten thousand richly-jewelled royal crowns, they could not give me the joy which I feel at your growth in holiness; or rather, I do not think the monarch himself has such a joy, as that wherewith I joy over you. Let him have come home, victorious over all the nations at war with him, let him have won many other crowns besides the crown of his right; and receive other diadems as tokens of his victory: I do not think he would joy over his trophies, as I joy over your soul’s progress. For I exult, as if I had a thousand crowns on my head; and well may I rejoice. For if by the grace of God you achieve this good habit, you will have gained a thousand battles far more difficult than his; by wrestling and fighting with malicious demons, and fiendish spirits, with the tongue, not with sword, but by the will. For consider how much is gained, if so be that you do succeed! You have eradicated, first, a heinous habit; secondly, an evil conceit, the source of all evil, namely, the opinion that the thing is indifferent and can do no hurt; thirdly, wrath; fourthly, covetousness; for all these are the offspring of swearing. Nay, hence you will acquire a sure footing in the way to all other virtues. For as when children learn their letters, they learn not them alone, but by means of them are gradually taught to read; so shall it be with you. That evil conceit will no longer deceive you, you will not say, This is indifferent; you will no longer speak by mere habit, but will manfully stand against all, so that having perfected in all parts that virtue which is after God, you may reap eternal blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness of His Only-Begotten Son, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 12 Acts 4. 36, 37 And Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation), a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.”

The writer is now about to relate the affair of Ananias and Sapphira, and in order to show that the man’s sin was of the worst description, he first mentions him who performed the virtuous deed; that, there being so great a multitude all doing the same, so great grace, so great miracles, he, taught by none of these, but blinded by covetousness, brought destruction upon his own head. “Having land,—meaning that this was all he possessed,—sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles’ feet. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.” (ch. 5. 2.) The aggravating circumstance was, that the sin was concerted, and none other saw what was done. How came it into the mind of this hapless wretch to commit this crime? “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (v. 3.) Observe even in this, a great miracle performed, greater far than the former. “Whiles it remained,” says he, “was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” (v. 4.) That is, “Was there any obligation and force? do we constrain you against your will?” “Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost.” (v. 5.) This miracle is greater than that of the lame man, in respect of the death inflicted, and the knowing what was in the thought of the heart, even what was done in secret. “And great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, and wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” (v. 6–8.) The woman he would fain save, for the man had been the author of the sin: therefore he gives her time to clear herself, and opportunity for repentance, saying, “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Holy Ghost? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then she fell down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost; and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (v. 9–11.)

After this fear had come upon them, he wrought more miracles; both Peter and the rest; “And by the hands of the Apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them,” i.e. to the Apostles; “but the people magnified them,” i.e. the Jewish people. If “no man durst join himself unto them,” the Apostles, “there were,” however, “the more added unto the Lord, believers, multitudes both of men and of women, insomuch that they brought out into the streets their impotent folk, and laid them upon couches and beds, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” (v. 12–15.) For Peter was the wonderful one, and he to whom they more gave heed both because of his public harangue, the first and the second and the third, and because of the miracle; for he it was that wrought the miracle, the first, the second, the third: for the present miracle was twofold: first, the convicting the thoughts of the heart, and next the inflicting of death at his word of command. “That at the least the shadow of Peter passing by,” etc. This had not occurred in the history of Christ; but see here what He had told them actually coming to pass, that “they which believe on Me, the works that I do shall they do also; and greater works than these shall they do.” (John 14. 12.) “There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them that were vexed with unclean spirits; and they were healed every one.” (v. 16.)

And now I would have you observe the way in which their whole life is interwoven. First there was despondency on account of Christ taken from them, and then came joy because of the Spirit descending upon them; again, dejection because of the scoffers, and then joy in the result of their own apology. And here again we find both dejection and gladness. In that they were become conspicuous, and that God made revelations to them, there was gladness: in that they had cut off some of their own company, there was sadness. Once more: again there is gladness upon their success, and again sadness by reason of the High Priest. And so it will be seen to be the case throughout. And the same will be found to hold in the case of the ancient saints likewise.—But let us look over again what has been said.

“They sold them,” it is written, “and brought the prices, and laid them down at the Apostles’ feet.” (Recapitulation. 4. 34–37.) See, my beloved brethren, how instead of leaving the Apostles to sell, they themselves sold, and presented the prices to them. “But a certain man named Ananias,” etc. (v. 1.) This history touches Bishops too, and very forcibly. And the wife of Ananias was privy to the thing done: therefore he examines her. But perhaps some one will say that he dealt very harshly with her. What do you mean? What harshness? If for gathering sticks a man is to be stoned, much rather ought he for sacrilege; for this money was become sacred. He that has chosen to sell his goods and distribute them, and then withdraws them, is guilty of sacrilege. But if he is sacrilegious, who resumes from his own, much more he who takes from what is not his own. And do not think that because the consequence is not now the same, the crime will go unpunished. Do you see that this is the charge brought against Ananias, that having made the money sacred, he afterwards secreted it? Couldest thou not, said Peter, after selling thy land, use the proceeds as thine own? Wast thou forbidden? Wherefore after thou hadst promised it? See how at the very beginning, the devil made his attack; in the very midst of such signs and wonders, how this man was hardened! Something of the same kind had happened upon a time in the Old Testament. The son of Charmi coveted the devoted thing: for observe there also what vengeance ensues upon the sin. Sacrilege, beloved, is a most grievous crime, insulting, and full of contempt. We neither obliged thee to sell, the Apostle says, nor to give thy money when thou hadst sold; of thine own free choice thou didst it; why hast thou then stolen from the sacred treasury? “Why,” he says, “hath Satan filled thine heart?” (v. 3.) Well, if Satan did the thing, why is the man made guilty of it? For admitting the influence of the devil, and being filled with it. You will say, they ought to have corrected him. But he would not have received correction; for he that has seen such things as he had seen, and is none the better, would certainly be none the better for anything else that could be done; the matter was not one to be simply passed over: like a gangrene, it must be cut out, that it might not infect the rest of the body. As it is, both the man himself is benefitted in regard that he is not left to advance further in wickedness, and the rest, in that they are made more earnest; otherwise the contrary would have ensued. In the next place, Peter proves him guilty, and shows that the deed was not hidden from him, and then pronounces the sentence. But wherefore, upon what purpose hast thou done this? Didst thou wish to keep it? Thou oughtest to have kept it all along, and never to have professed to give it. The sacrilege, beloved, is a grievous one. For another, it may be, coveted what was not his own: but it was at thy discretion to keep what was thine own. Why then didst thou first make it sacred, and then take it? Out of excessive contempt hast thou done this. The deed does not admit of pardon, it is past pleading for.—Therefore let it be no stumbling-block to any, if at present also there are sacrilegious persons. If there were such persons then, much more now, when evils are many. But let us “rebuke them before all, that others also may fear.” (1 Tim. 5. 20.) Judas was sacrilegious, but it was no stumbling-block to the disciples. Do you see how many evils spring from love of money? “And great fear, it is said, came on all them that heard these things.” (v. 5.) That man was punished, and others profited thereby. Not without cause. And yet, signs had been wrought before: true, but there was not such a sense of fear. So true is that saying, “The Lord is known by executing judgments.” (Ps. 9. 16.) The same thing had occurred in the case of the Ark: Uzzah was punished and fear came upon the rest. (2 Sam. 6. 7.) But in that instance the king through fear removed from him the Ark; but here the disciples became more earnestly heedful. “And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in,” etc. (v. 7.) But observe how Peter, instead of sending for her, waited till she entered; and how none of the others durst carry out the intelligence. Such the teacher’s awfulness, such the disciples’ reverence, such the obedience! “An interval of three hours,”—and yet the woman did not hear of it, and none of those present reported it, although there was time enough for it to be noised abroad; but they were afraid. This circumstance the Evangelist relates with wonder even, when he says, “Not knowing what was done, came in.” “And Peter answered unto her,” etc. (v. 8.) And yet she might have perceived even from this that Peter knew the secret. For why, having questioned none other, does he question you? Was it not clear that he asked because he knew? But so great was her hardness, it would not let her attempt to evade the guilt; and with great confidence she replied; for she thought she was speaking only to a man. The aggravation of the sin was, that they committed it as with one soul, just as upon a settled compact between them. “How is it that ye have agreed together,” he said, “to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door.” (v. 9.) First he makes her learn the sin, and then shows that she will justly suffer the same punishment with her husband, since she has committed the same wickedness: “And they shall carry thee out. And she fell down straightway at his feet,” for she was standing near him, “and yielded up the ghost.” (v. 10.) So entirely by their own act had they invited upon themselves the vengeance! Who after that would not be struck with awe? who would not fear the Apostle? who would not marvel? who not be afraid? “And they were with one accord, all of them in Solomon’s porch,” (v. 1 no longer in a house, but having occupied the very Temple, they there passed their time! No longer they guarded themselves against touching the unclean; nay, without scruple they handled the dead. And observe how, while to their own people they are severe, against the aliens they do not exercise their power. “But the people,” he says, “magnified them.” (v. 13.) And as he had mentioned their being “in Solomon’s porch,” that you may not wonder how the multitude allowed this, he tells us that they did not dare even to approach them: for “no man,” he says, “durst join himself unto them.” “But believers were the more added unto the Lord, multitudes both of men and women: insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” (v. 14, 15.) Great faith, surpassing what had been shown in the case of Christ. How comes this? Because Christ declared: “And greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto My Father.” (John 14. 12.) And these things the people do, while the Apostles remain there, and are not moving about from place to place: also from other places they were all bringing their sick on beds and couches: and from all quarters accrued to them fresh tribute of wonder; from them that believed, from them that were healed, from him that was punished; from their boldness of speech towards those (their adversaries), from the virtuous behavior of the believers: for certainly the effect produced was not owing to the miracles only. For though the Apostles themselves modestly ascribe it all to this cause, declaring that they did these things in the name of Christ, yet at the same time the life and noble conduct of the men helped to produce this effect. “And believers were more added unto the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” Observe, how he now no longer tells the number of them that believe; at such a rate was the faith making way even to an immense multitude, and so widely was the Resurrection proclaimed. So then “the people magnified them:” but they were now no longer lightly to be despised as once they were: for in a little moment, at a single turn of the scale, such have been the effects produced by the fisherman and by the publican! Earth was become a heaven, for manner of life, for boldness of speech, for wonders, for all besides; like Angels were they looked upon with wonder: all unconcerued for ridicule, for threats, for perils: compassionate were they, and beneficent; some of them they succoured with money, and some with words, and some with healing of their bodies and of their souls; no kind of healing (πἅν εἶδος ἰατρείας) but they accomplished.

Peter all but pleads for himself, when at the point to inflict the punishment, and at the same time gives a lesson to the rest. For because the act would seem exceeding stern, therefore it is that he does so much in the case. In respect of the woman also the process of judgment was terrible. But see how many evils grow out of the sacrilege: covetousness, contempt of God, impiety; and upon these too he pleaded for himself before the assembly, in that he did not immediately proceed to punishment, but first exposed the sin. None groaned, none lamented, all were terrified. For as their faith increased, the signs also were multiplied, and great was the fear among their own company: for the things which are from without do not so militate (πολεμεἵ) against our peace, as do the acts of our own people. If we be firmly joined together, no warfare will be hard: but the mischief would be the being divided and broken up. Now they went about in the public place: with boldness they attacked even the market, and in the midst of enemies they prevailed, and that saying was fulfilled, “Be Thou Ruler in the midst among Thine enemies.” (Ps. cx. 2.) This was a greater miracle, that they, arrested, cast into prison, should do such acts as these!

If those for lying suffered such things, what shall not the perjured suffer? Because she simply affirmed, “Yea, for so much,” ye see what she suffered. Bethink you then; they that swear and forswear themselves, of what should they be worthy? It comes in opportunely to-day even from the Old Testament to show you the heinousness of perjury. “There was,” it says, “a flying sickle, ten cubits in breadth.” (Zech. 5. 2.) The “flying” betokens the swift advent of the vengeance which pursues oaths; that it is many cubits in length and breadth, signifies the force and magnitude of the woes; that it comes flying “from heaven,” is to show that the vengeance comes from the judgment-seat on high: that it is in the form of a sickle,” denotes the inevitableness of the doom: for just as the sickle, where it comes and has hooked the neck, is not drawn back with nothing but itself, but with the head reaped off, even so the vengeance which comes upon the swearers is severe, and will not desist until it have completed its work. But if we swear and escape, let us not be confident; this is but to our woe. For what think ye? How many, since Ananias and Sapphira, have dared the same with them? How is it then, say you, that they have not met with the same fate? Not because it was allowed in them, but because they are reserved for a greater punishment. For those who often sin and are not punished, have greater reason to fear and dread than if they were punished. For the vengeance is increased for them by their present impunity and the long-suffering of God. Then let us not look to this, that we are not punished; but let us consider whether we have not sinned: if sinning we are not punished, we have the more reason to tremble. Say, if you have a slave, and you only threaten him, and do not beat him; when is he most in fear, when most inclined to run away? Is is not when you only threaten him? And hence we advise each other not to be continually using threats, thereby choosing rather to agitate the mind by the terror, and lacerating it worse than with blows. For in the one instance the punishment is momentary, but in the other it is perpetual. If then no one feels the stroke of the sickle, do not look to this, but rather let each consider whether he commits such sins. Many like things are done now as were done before the Flood, yet no flood has been sent: because there is a hell threatened, and vengeance. Many sin as the people did in Sodom, yet no rain of fire has been poured down; because a river of fire is prepared. Many go the lengths of Pharaoh; yet they have not fared like Pharaoh, they have not been drowned in a Red Sea: for the sea that awaits them, is the sea of the bottomless pit, where the punishment is not accompanied with insensibility, where there is no suffocation to end all, but in ever lengthened torture, in burning, in strangling, they are consumed there. Many have offended like the Israelites, but no serpents have devoured them: there awaits them the worm that never dieth. Many have been like Gehazi, yet they have not been struck with leprosy: for instead of leprosy, it remains for them to be cut asunder, and numbered among the hypocrites. Many have both sworn and forsworn; but if they have indeed escaped, let us not be confident: the gnashing of teeth awaits them. Yea, here too they will suffer many grievous woes, though, it may be, not immediately, but after further transgressions, that the vengeance may be the greater; for even we often set out at first with small sins, and then through great offences lose all. Therefore when you see anything happening to you, call to mind that particular sin of yours. The sons of Jacob are an example of this. Remember Joseph’s brothers; they had sold their brother, they had even attempted to slay him; nay, they had slain him, as far as inclination went; they had deceived and grieved the old man; they suffered nothing. After many years they are brought into extreme peril, and now they are put in remembrance of this their sin. Exceeding wisely is this circumstance brought in. Hear what they say: “We are verily guilty concerning our brother.” (Gen. xlii. 21.) In this manner then do thou also, when anything happens, say, We are verily guilty, because we have not obeyed Christ; because we have sworn; my much swearing, and my false swearing, has fallen upon my own head. Confess thou; since they also confessed, and were saved. For what though the punishment follow not immediately? Since Ahab also did not immediately after his sin in the matter of Naboth suffer that vengeance which he yet at last suffered. (1 Kings 219.) And what is the reason of this? God sets thee a time, in which to wash thyself clean; but if thou persist, at last He will send down the vengeance. You have seen the fate of liars. Consider what is the fate of false swearers, consider, and desist. It is impossible a swearer should not forswear himself, whether he will or not; and no perjurer can be saved. One false oath sufficeth to finish all, to draw down upon us the whole measure of vengeance. Let us then take heed to ourselves, that we may escape the punishment due to this offence, and be deemed worthy of the loving kindness of God, through the grace and mercies of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 13 Acts 5. 17, “Then having risen up, the high-priest and they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the Apostles, and put them in the common prison.”

“Having risen up,” that is, being roused, being excited at the things taking place, the high-priest and they which were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the Apostles:” they now assault them more vigorously: “and put them in the common prison;” but did not forthwith bring them to trial, because they expected them again to be softened down. “But the Angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” “And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught.” (v. 19–21.) This was done both for the encouragement of the disciples, and for the benefit and instruction of the others. And observe how the proceeding in the present instance is just the same as in what Christ Himself did. Namely, in His miracles though He does not let men see them in the act of being wrought, He furnishes the means whereby they may be apprised of the things wrought: thus, in His Resurrection, He did not let them see how He rose: in the water made wine, the guests do not see it done, for they have been drinking much, and the discernment He leaves to others. Just so in the present case, they do not see them in the act of being brought forth, but the proofs from which they might gather what had been done, they do see. And it was by night that the Angel put them forth. Why was this? Because in this way they were more believed than they would have been in the other: so, people would not even have had occasion to put the question: they would not in some other way have believed. So it was in the old times, in the case of Nebuchadnezzar: he saw them praising God in the furnace, and then indeed he was put in amazement. (Dan. 3. 24.) Whereas then these priests ought as their first question to have asked, How came ye out? instead of this, as if nothing had happened, they ask, “Did we not straitly charge you not to speak?” (v. 28.) And observe, by report of others they are apprised of all the circumstances: they see the prison remaining closed with safety, and the guards standing before the doors. A twofold security this; as was the case at the sepulchre, where was both the seal, and the men to watch. See how they fought against God! Say, was this of man’s doing, that happened to them? Who led them forth, when the doors were shut? How came they out, with the keepers standing before the door? Verily they must be mad or drunken to talk so. Here are men, whom neither prison, nor bonds, nor closed doors, had been able to keep in; and yet they expect to overpower them: such is their childish folly! Their officers come and confess what has taken place, as if on purpose to debar them from all show of reason. Do you mark how there is miracle upon miracle, differing in kind, some wrought by them, others on them, and these more illustrious than the others? “And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high-priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high-priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.” (v. 21–25.) It is well ordered that the information was not brought to them at once, but they are first utterly at a loss what to think, that when they have considered it well and seen that there is a Divine Power in the case, then they may learn the whole state of the case. “Then came one, and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the other officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the multitude, lest they should have been stoned.” (v. 25, 26.) O the folly of the men! “They feared,” saith he, “the multitude.” Why, how had the multitude helped the Apostles? When they ought to have feared that God Who was continually delivering them like winged creatures out of their power, instead of that, “they feared the multitude!” “And the high-priest,” shameless, reckless, senseless, “asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” (v. 27, 28.) What then (say the Apostles)? Again with mildness they address them; and yet they might have said, “Who are ye, that ye countermand God?” But what do they say? Again in the way of exhortation and advice, and with much mildness, they make answer. “Then Peter and the other Apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (v. 29.) High magnanimity! He shows them too that they are fighting against God. For, he says, Whom ye killed, Him hath God raised up. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (v. 30, 31.) And again they refer the whole to the Father, that He should not seem to be alien to the Father. “And hath exalted,” saith He, “with his right hand.” He affirms not merely the Resurrection, but the Exaltation also. “For to give repentance to Israel.” Observe here as before the gain (to them): observe the perfection of doctrine conveyed in the form of apology. “And we are witnesses of these things.” (v. 32.) Great boldness of speech! And the ground of their credibility: “And so is also the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Do you observe that they allege not only the Spirit’s testimony? And they said not, “Whom He hath given” to us, but, “to them that obey Him:” therein alike showing their own unassuming temper, and intimating the greatness of the gift, and showing the hearers that it was possible for them also to receive the Spirit. See, how these people were instructed both by deeds and by words, and yet they paid no heed, that their condemnation might be just. For to this end did God suffer the Apostles to be brought to trial, that both their adversaries might be instructed, and all might learn, and that the Apostles might be invigorated to boldness of speech. “And they hearing that, were cut to the heart.” (v. 33.) The others (on a former occasion) “when they heard these things were pricked;” here they were cut (as with a saw) (διεπρίοντο) “and desired to slay them.” (ch. 2. 37.)

But it is necessary now to look over again what we have read. “But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. Brought them forth.” (Recapitulation, 5. 19, 20.) He did not bring them away to benefit themselves thereby, but, “Stand,” he says, “and speak in the temple to the people.” But if the guards had put them out, as those thought, they would have fled, that is, supposing they had been induced to come out: and if those had put them forth, they would not have stood in the temple, but would have absconded. No one is so void of sense, as not at once to see this. “Did we not straitly charge you?” (v. 28.) Well, if they undertook to obey you, ye do well to call them to account: but if even at the very time they told you they would not obey, what account have you to call them to, what defence is there for them to make? “And behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Mark the inconsistency of the accusations, and the exceeding folly. They want to make it appear now, that the dispositions of the Jews are sanguinary, as if they were doing these things not for the truth’s sake, but in the wish to be revenged. And for this reason too the Apostles do not answer them with defiance (θρασέως): for they were teachers. And yet where is the man, who, with a whole city to back him, and endowed with so great grace, would not have spoken and uttered something big? But not so did these: for they were not angered; no, they pitied these men, and wept over them, and marked in what way they might free them from their error and wrath. And they no longer say to them, “Judge ye:” (ch. 4. 19) but they simply affirm, saying, “Whom God raised up, Him do we preach: it is by the will of God that these things are done.” They said not, Did not we tell you even then, that “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard?” (ib. 20.) for they are not contentious for glory; but they repeat again the same story,—the Cross, the Resurrection. And they tell not, wherefore He was crucified—that it was for our sakes: but they hint at this indeed, but not openly as yet, wishing to terrify them awhile. And yet what sort of rhetoric is here? None at all, but everywhere it is still the Passion, and the Resurrection and the Ascension, and the end wherefore: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus,” etc. (v. 30, 31.) And yet what improbable assertions are these! Very improbable, no doubt; but for all that, not rulers, not people, had a word to say against them: but those had their mouths stopped, and these received the teaching. “And we,” saith he, “are witnesses of these things.” (v. 32.) Of what things? Of His having promised forgiveness and repentance: for the Resurrection indeed was acknowledged, now. But that He giveth forgiveness, both we are witnesses, and “so is the Holy Ghost,” Who would not have come down, unless sins had been first remitted: so that this is an indisputable proof. “When they heard that, they were cut” (to the heart), “and took counsel to slay them.” (v. 33.) Hearest thou of the forgiveness of sins, O wretched man, and that God doth not demand punishment, and dost thou wish to slay them? What wickedness was this! And yet, either they ought to have convicted them of lying, or if they could not do that, to have believed: but if they did not choose to believe, yet they ought not to slay them. For what was there deserving of death? Such was their intoxication, they did not even see what had taken place. Observe, how everywhere the Apostles, when they have made mention of the crime, add the mention of forgiveness; showing, that while what had been done was worthy of death, that which was given was proffered to them as to benefactors! In what other way could any one have persuaded them?

“Then stood up the high-priest,” etc. As men in high repute, these (the Apostles) were about to take their place near to the Prophets. The Sadducees were they that were most sore on the subject of the Resurrection. But perchance some one will say: Why, what man, endowed with such gifts as the Apostles were, would not have been great? But consider, I pray you, how, before that they were endowed with the grace, “they were continuing steadfastly with one accord in prayer” (ch. and depending on the aid from above. And dost thou, my beloved, hope for the kingdom of heaven, yet endurest naught? And hast thou received the Spirit, yet sufferest not such things, nor encounterest perils? But they, before they had breathing-time from their former dangers, were again led into others. And even this too, that there is no arrogance, no conceit, how great a good it is! To converse with mildness, what a gain it is! For not all that they did was the immediate work of grace, but there are many marks of their own zeal as well. That the gifts of grace shine forth in them, this was from their own diligence. See, for instance, from the very beginning, how careful Peter is; how sober and vigilant: how they that believed cast away their riches, had no private property, continued in prayer, showed that they were of one mind, passed their time in fastings. What grace, I ask (alone), did all this? Therefore it is that He brings the evidence home to them through their own officers. Just as in the case of Christ, it was their officers who said, “Never man spake as this Man speaketh.” (John 7. 46.) These (proofs) are more apt to be believed than the Resurrection.—Observe also the moderation shown by (the rulers) themselves, and how they give way. “The high-priest asked them, saying,” etc. (v. 27): here he reasons with them, forsooth, in a moderate tone; for he was frightened: indeed to hinder was what he desired rather than to kill, since that he cannot do: and with the view to rouse them all, and show them the extreme danger they are in, “And intend,” says he (to the Apostles), “to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Dost thou still take Him to be but man? He wants to make it appear that the injunction was necessary for their own safety. But mark what (Peter) says: “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (v. 31.) Here he forbears to mention the Gentiles, not to give them a handle against him. “And they desired,” it says, “to slay them.” (v. 33.) See again these in perplexity, these in pain: but those in quiet and cheerfulness and delight. It is not merely, They were grieved, but “They were cut” (to the heart). Truly this makes good that proverb, “Evil do, evil fare:” as we may see in this case. Here were these men in bonds, set at the bar of judgment, and the men that sit in judgment upon them were in distress and helpless perplexity. For as he who strikes a blow upon the adamant, gets the shock of the blow himself, so it was with these men. But they saw that not only was their boldness of speech not stopped, but rather their preaching increased the more, and that they discoursed without a thought of fear, and afforded them no handles against them.

Let us imitate these, my beloved: let us be undaunted in all our dangers. There is nothing dreadful to him that fears God; but all that is dreadful is for others. For when a man is delivered from his passions, and regards all present things as a shadow, say, from whom shall he suffer anything dreadful? whom shall he have to fear? whom shall he need plead to? Let us flee to this Rock which cannot be shaken. If any one were to build for us a city, and throw up a wall around it, and remove us to a land uninhabited, where there were none to disturb us, and there supply us with abundance of everything, and not suffer us to have aught to trouble us with anybody, he would not set us in such perfect safety, as Christ hath done now. Be it a city made of brass, if you will, surrounded on all sides with a wall, lofty and impregnable, let there be no enemy near it; let it have land plentiful and rich, let there be added abundance of other things, let the citizens too be mild and gentle, and no evil-doer there, neither robber, nor thief, no informer, no court of justice, but merely agreements (συναλλάλματα); and let us dwell in this city: not even thus would it be possible to live in security. Wherefore? Because there could not but be differences with servants, with wives, with children, to be a groundwork of much discomfort. But here was nothing of the kind; for here was nothing at all to pain them or cause any discomfort. Nay, what is more wonderful to say, the very things which are thought to cause discomfort, became matter of all joy and gladness. For tell me, what was there for them to be annoyed at? what to take amiss? Shall we cite a particular case for comparison with them? Well, let there be one of consular dignity, let him be possessed of much wealth, let him dwell in the imperial city, let him have no troublesome business with anybody, but only live in delight, and have nothing else but this to do, seated at the very summit of wealth and honor and power: and let us set against him a Peter, in bonds if you will, in evils without number: and we shall find that he is the man that lives the most delightfully. For when there is such excess of joy, as to be delighted when in bonds, think what must be the greatness of that joy! For like as those who are high in office, whatsoever evils may happen, are not sensible of them, but continue in enjoyment: so did these the more rejoice on account of these very evils. For it is impossible, impossible in words to express how great pleasure falls to their lot, who suffer for Christ’s sake: for they rejoice in their sufferings, rather than in their good things. Whoso loves Christ, knows what I say.—But what as regards safety? And who, I ask, if he were ever so rich, could have escaped so many perils, going about among so many different nations, for the sole purpose of bringing about a reformation in their manner of life? For it was just as if by royal mandate that they carried all before them, nay, far more easily, for never mandate could have been so effectual, as their words were. For the royal edict compels by necessity, but these drew men willingly and spontaneously, yea, and with hearts above measure thankful. What royal edict, I ask, would ever have persuaded men to part with all their property and their lives; to despise home, country, kindred, yea, even self-preservation? Yet the voices of fishermen and tent-makers availed for this. So that they were both happy, and more powerful and strong than all others. “Yes,” say you, “those of course were, for they wrought miracles.” (supra, p. 83, note 4.) But I ask what miracles did those who believed work, the three thousand, and the five thousand; and yet these, we read, passed their time in gladness? And well they might: for that which is the groundwork of all discomforts, the possession of riches, was done away with. For that, that, I say, was ever the cause both of wars and fighting, and grief, and discomfort, and all evils: the thing which makes life full of labor and troubles, it is that. And indeed it would be found that many more rich than poor have reason to be sad. If any think this is not true, their notion is derived not from the nature of the things, but from their own fancy. And if the rich do enjoy some sort of pleasure, this is not to be wondered at: for even those who are covered all over with the itch, have a good deal of pleasure. For that the rich are for all the world like these, and their mind affected in the same sort, is plain from this circumstance. Their cares annoy them, and they choose to be engrossed with them for the sake of the momentary pleasure: while those who are free from these affections, are in health and without discomfort. Whether is more pleasant, I ask, whether of the two more safe? To have to take thought only for a single loaf of bread and suit of clothes, or for an immense family, both slaves and freemen, not having care about himself (only)? For as this man has his fears for himself, so have you for those who depend on your own person. Why, I pray you, does poverty seem a thing to be shunned? Just in the same way as other good things are, in the judgment of many, things to be deprecated. “Yes,” say you, “but it is not that those good things are subjects for deprecation, but that they are hard of attainment.” Well, so is poverty, not a thing to be deprecated, but hard of attainment: so that if one could bear it, there would be no reason to deprecate it. For how is it that the Apostles did not deprecate it? how is it that many even choose it, and so far from deprecating, even run to it? For that which is really a thing to be deprecated, cannot be an object of choice save to madmen. But if it be the men of philosophic and elevated minds that betake themselves to this, as to a safe and salubrious retreat, no wonder if to the rest it wears a different appearance. For, in truth, the rich man seems to me to be just like a city, unwalled, situated in a plain, inviting assailants from all sides: but poverty, a secure fortress, strong as brass can make it, and the way up to it difficult. “And yet,” say you, “the fact is just the reverse: for these are they, who are often dragged into courts of law, these are they who are overborne and ill-treated.” No: not the poor, as poor, but those who being poor want to be rich. But I am not speaking of them, but of such as make it their study to live in poverty. For say, how comes it that nobody ever drags the brethren of the hills into courts of law? and yet if to be poor is to be a mark for oppression, those ought most of all to be dragged thither, since they are poorer than all others. How comes it that nobody drags the common mendicants into the law-courts? Because they are come to the extreme of poverty. How is it that none does violence to them, none lays vexatious informations against them? Because they abide in a stronghold too safe for that. How many think it a condition hard to struggle against, poverty, I mean, and begging! What then, I ask, is it a good thing to beg? “It is good, if there be comfort,” say you; “if there be one to give: it is a life so free from trouble and reverses, as every one knows.” But I do not mean to commend this; God forbid! what I advise is the not aiming at riches.

For say, whom would you rather call blessed? those who find themselves at home with virtue, (ἐπιτηδείους πρὸς ἀρετήν) or those who stand aloof? Of course, those who are near. Say then, which of the two is the man to learn anything that is profitable, and to shine in the true wisdom? the former, or the latter? The first, all must see. If you doubt it, satisfy yourself in this way. Fetch hither from the market-place any of the poor wretches there; let him be a cripple, lame, maimed: and then produce some other person, comely of aspect, strong in body, full of life and vigor in every part, overflowing with riches: let him be of illustrious birth, and possessed of great power. Then let us bring both these into the school of philosophy: which of them, I ask, is more likely to receive the things taught? The first precept, at the outset, “Be lowly and moderate” (for this is Christ’s command): which will be most able to fulfil it, this one or the other? “Blessed are they that mourn” (Matt. 5. : which will most receive this saying? “Blessed are the lowly:” which will most listen to this? “Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (ib. 8, 6, 10). Which will with ease receive these sayings? And, if you will, let us apply to all of them these rules, and see how they will fit. Is not the one inflamed and swollen all over, while the other is ever lowly minded and subdued in his whole bearing? It is quite plain. Yes, and there is a saying to that effect among those that are without: “(I was) a slave, Epictetus by name, a cripple in body, for poverty a very Irus, and a friend of the Immortals.” For how, I would ask, can it be otherwise, but that the soul of the rich must teem with evils; folly, vainglory, numberless lusts, anger and passion, covetousness, iniquity, and what not? So that even for philosophy, the former is more congenially (ἐπιτηδεία) disposed than the latter. By all means seek to ascertain which is the more pleasant: for this I see is the point everywhere discussed, whether such an one has the more enjoyable way of life. And yet even as regards this, we need not be in doubt; for to be near to health, is also to have much enjoyment. But whether of the two, I would ask, is best disposed (ἐπιτήδειος) to the matter now in hand, that which we will needs carry into accomplishment—our law, I mean—the poor man or the rich? Whether of them will be apt to swear? The man who has children to be provoked with, the man who has his covenants with innumerable parties, or the man who is concerned to apply for just a loaf of bread or a garment? This man has not even need of oaths, should he wish, but always lives free from cares of business; nay, more, it is often seen that he who is disciplined to swear not at all, will also despise riches; and one shall see in his whole behavior his ways all branching off from this one good habit, and leading to meekness, to contempt of riches, to piety, to subduedness of soul, to compunction of heart. Then let us not be indolent, my beloved, but let us again show great earnestness: they who have succeeded, that they may keep the success achieved, that they be not easily caught by the receding wave, nor the refluent tide carry them back again they too who are yet behindhand, that they may be raised up again, and strive to make up that which is wanting. And meanwhile let those who have succeeded, help those who have not been able to do the same: and by reaching out their hands, as they would to men struggling in the deep water, receive them into the haven of no-swearing (ἀνωμοσίας). For it is indeed a haven of safety, to swear not at all: whatever storms burst upon us, to be in no danger of sinking there: be it anger, be it insult, be it passion, be it what it may, the soul is stayed securely; yea, though one have vented some chance word or other that ought not, and had been better not, to be spoken, yet he has laid himself under no necessity, no law. (Supra, Hom. 9. §5. ad. Pop. Ant. 8. §3.) See what Herod did for his oath’s sake: he cut off the head of the Fore-runner. “But because of his oaths,” it says, “and because of them which sat at meat with him” (Mark 6. 26), he cut off the head of the Prophet. Think what the tribes had to suffer for their oath in the matter of the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 25–10): what Saul had to suffer for his oath (1 Sam. 14. 24, etc.). For Saul indeed perjured himself, but Herod did what was even worse than perjury, he committed murder. Joshua again—you know how it fared with him, for his oath in the matter of the Gibeonites. (Joshua, ch. ix.) For it is indeed a snare of Satan, this swearing. Let us burst the cords; let us bring ourselves into a condition in which it will be easy (not to swear); let us break loose from every entanglement, and from this snare of Satan. Let us fear the command of the Lord: let us settle ourselves in the best of habits: that, making progress, and having achieved this and the rest of the commandments, we may obtain those good things which are promised to them that love Him, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 14 Acts 5. 34 “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded the men to be put forth a little space.”

This Gamaliel was Paul’s teacher. And one may well wonder, how, being so right-minded in his judgment, and withal learned in the law, he did not yet believe. But it cannot be that he should have continued in unbelief to the end. Indeed it appears plainly from the words he here speaks. He “commanded,” it says, “to put the men forth a little space and said unto them.” Observe how judiciously he frames his speech, and how he immediately at the very outset puts them in fear. And that he may not be suspected of taking their part, he addresses them as if he and they were of the same opinion, and does not use much vehemence, but as speaking to men intoxicated through passion, he thus expresses himself: “Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.” (v. 35.) Do not, he would say, go to work rashly and in a hurry. “For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody: to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to naught.” (v. 36.) By examples he teaches them prudence; and, by way of encouragement, mentions last the man who seduced the greatest number. Now before he gives the examples, he says, “Take heed to yourselves;” but when he has cited them, then he declares his opinion, and says, “Refrain from these men.” For, says he, “there rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to naught. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow them.” (al. it) (v. 37–39.) Then what is there, he would say, to hinder you to be overthrown? For, says he (take heed), “lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” He would dissuade them both by the consideration that the thing is impossible, and because it is not for their good. And he does not say by whom these people were destroyed, but that there they “were scattered,” and their confederacy fell away to nothing. For if, says he, it be of man, what needs any ado on your part? but if it be of God, for all your ado you will not be able to overcome it. The argument is unanswerable. “And they were persuaded by him.” (v. 40.) How were they persuaded? So as not to slay them, but merely to scourge. For, it says, “And when they had called the Apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.” See after what great works they are scourged! And again their teaching became more extended: for they taught at home and in the temple, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (v. 442.) And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” (ch. 6. 1.) Not absolutely in those immediate days; for it is the custom of Scripture to speak of things next about to happen, as taking place in immediate succession. But by “Hellenists” I suppose he means those who spoke Greek “against the Hebrews”: for they did not use the Greek language. Behold another trial! observe how from within and from without there are warrings, from the very first! “Then,” it says, “the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.” (v. 2.) Well said: for the needful must give precedence to the more needful. But see, how straightway they both take thought for these (inferior matters), and yet do not neglect the preaching. “Because their widows were overlooked:” for those (the Hebrews) were treated as the persons of greater consequence (αἰδεσιμώτεροι). “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost” (v. 3–5.) so were the others also full of faith; not to have the same things happening as in the case of Judas, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira—“and Philip, and Prochoras, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (v. 5–7.)

But let us look over again what has been spoken. “Ye men of Israel take heed to yourselves.”(Recapitulation, 5. 35.) See here, I pray you, how mildly Gamaliel reasons, and how he says but a few words to them, and does not recount ancient histories, although he might have done so, but more recent instances, which are most powerful to produce belief. With this view he throws out a hint himself, saying, “For before these days” (v. 36): meaning, not many days before. Now had he at once said, “Let these men go,” both himself would have fallen into suspicion, and his speech would not have been so effective: but after the examples, it acquired its own proper force. And he mentions not one instance, but a second also: “for,” saith the Scripture, “in the mouth of two witnesses” (Matt. 18. 16): and yet he had it in his power to mention even three. “Refrain from these men.” (v. 38.) See how mild his manner is, and his speech not long, but concise, and his mention even of those (impostors) how free from passion: “And all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered.” And for all this he does not blaspheme Christ. They heard him, all these unbelievers, heard him, these Jews. “For if this council or this work be of men, it will come to naught.” Well then, since it did not come to nought, it is not of men. “But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.” (v. 39.) Once more he checks them by the impossibility and the inexpediency of the thing, saying, “Lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” And he does not say, If Christ be God; but the work (itself) declares (this). He does not pronounce upon it, either that, it is “of men,” or that it is “of God;” but he leaves the proof to the future. “They were persuaded by him.” (v. 40.) Then why, it may be asked, do ye scourge them? Such was the incontrovertible justness of his speech, they could not look it in the face; nevertheless, they sated their own animosity; and again they expected to terrify them in this way. By the fact also of his saying these things not in the presence of the Apostles, he gained a hearing more than he would otherwise have done; and then the suavity of his discourse and the justness of what was said, helped to persuade them. In fact, this man all but preached the Gospel. “Ye were persuaded,” one may say, “that ye had not strength to overthrow it. Wherefore did ye not believe?” Such is the witness borne even by enemies. There it is four hundred, there, four thousand: and here the first movers were twelve. Let not the number which added itself affright you. (ch. 2. 44. 4.) He might also have mentioned another instance, that of the Egyptian, but what he has spoken is fully sufficient. And he closes his speech with an alarming topic: “Lest haply,” etc. And he does not pronounce upon it, lest he should seem to be pleading their cause; but he reasons by way of syllogism from the issue of the matter. And he does not venture to pronounce that it is not of men, nor yet that it is of God; for had he said that it was of God, they would have gainsaid him: but had he said that it was of men, they would again have taken prompt measures. Therefore he bids them wait for the end, saying, “Refrain.” But they once more threaten knowing indeed that they avail nothing, but doing after their manner. Such is the nature of wickedness: it attempts even impossibilities.—“And after this man rose up Judas,” etc. These things Josephus relates in detail. (Ant. xx. 8; ib. 5. 2; 18. 1. B. J. ii. 8. 1.) But what a great thing it was that he ventured to affirm: that it was of God, when in the sequel it received its proof from the events! Great boldness of speech, great freedom from all respect of persons! And he does not say, “But if ye do not overthrow it, it is of God;” but, “If it be of God, it will not be overthrown.” “And to him they agreed.” (v. 40.) They reverenced the high character of the man. “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ.” (v. 41.) What miracles so wonderful as this? Nowhere is the like of this recorded of the old saints: for Jeremiah indeed was scourged for the word of God, and they threatened Elijah, and the rest: but in this case, even by this very thing, and not only by their miracles, these showed forth the power of God. He does not say, that they were not pained, but that though pained they rejoiced. How does this appear? From their boldness afterwards: they were so instant still, even after their beatings, in preaching the word. “But in the temple,” it says, “and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (v. 42.) “And in those days”—when these things were done, when there were scourgings, when there were threatenings, when the disciples were multiplying—also, it says, “there arose a murmuring.” (ch. 6. 1.) And this comes of the multitude: for it is impossible to have strict order in a multitude. “There arose a murmuring,” etc. to,—“And a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.—There arose murmuring against the Hebrews”—for that description of people seemed to be more honorable—“because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” (v. 1–7.) So then there was a daily ministration for the widows. And observe how he calls it a “ministration” (διακονία), and not directly alms: extolling by this at once the doers, and those to whom it was done. “Were neglected.” This did not arise from malice, but perhaps from the carelessness of the multitude. And therefore he brought it forward openly, for this was no small evil. Observe, how even in the beginning the evils came not only from without, but also from within. For you must not look to this only, that it was set to rights, but observe that it was a great evil that it existed. “Then the twelve,” etc. (v. 2.) Do you observe how outward concerns succeed to inward? They do not act at their own discretion, but plead for themselves to the congregation. So ought it to be done now. “It is not reason,” says he, “that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.” First he puts to them the unreasonableness of the thing; that it is not possible for both things to be done with the same attention: just as when they were about to ordain Matthias, they first show the necessity of the thing, that one was deficient, and there must needs be twelve. And so here they showed the necessity; and they did it not sooner, but waited till the murmuring arose; nor, on the other hand, did they suffer this to spread far. And, lo! they leave the decision to them: those who pleased all, those who of all were honestly reputed, them they present: not now twelve, but “seven, full of the Spirit and of wisdom: well reported of” for their conversation. (v. 3.) Now when Matthias was to be presented, it was said, “Therefore must one of these men which have companied with us all the time” (ch. 2: but not so here: for the case was not alike. And they do not now put it to the lot; they might indeed themselves have made the election, as moved by the Spirit: but nevertheless, they desire the testimony of the people. The fixing the number, and the ordaining them, and for this kind of business, rested with them: but the choice of the men they make over to the people, that they might not seem to act from favor: just as God also leaves it to Moses to choose as elders those whom he knew. (Num. 116.) “And of wisdom.” For indeed there needs much wisdom in such ministrations. For think not, because he hath not the word committed unto him, that such an one has no need of wisdom: he does need it, and much too. “But we,” saith he, “will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (v. 4.) Again they plead for themselves, beginning and ending with this. “Will give ourselves continually,” he saith. For so it behooved, not just to do the mere acts, or in any chance way, but to be continually doing them. “And the saying,” we are told, “pleased the whole multitude.” (v. 5, 6.) This too was worthy of their wisdom. All approved of what was said so sensible was it. “And they chose,” it says (again it is the people (αὐτοί) that choose,) “Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.” They separated them from the multitude, and it is the people (αὐτοί) that draw them, not the Apostles that lead them. Observe how he avoids all that is superfluous: he does not tell in what way it was done, but that they were ordained (ἐχειροτονήθησαν) with prayer: for this is the meaning of χειροτονία, (i.e. “putting forth the hand,”) or ordination: the hand of the man is laid upon (the person,) but the whole work is of God, and it is His hand which toucheth the head of the one ordained, if he be duly ordained. “And the word of God,” it says, “increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied.” (v. 7.) It is not for nothing that he says this: it shows how great is the virtue of alms and good order. And as he is about in the sequel to enlarge (αὔξειν) upon the affair of Stephen, he puts first the causes which led to it. “And many,” he says, “of the priests were obedient to the faith.” For since they perceived such to be the mind of their ruler and teacher, they put the matter to the test of facts.—It is also a subject for wonder, how it was that the multitude was not divided in its choice of the men, and how it was that the Apostles were not rejected by them. But what sort of rank these bore, and what sort of office they received, this is what we need to learn. Was it that of Deacons? And yet this is not the case in the Churches. But is it to the Presbyters that the management belongs? And yet at present there was no Bishop, but the Apostles only. Whence I think it clearly and manifestily follows, that neither Deacons nor Presbyters is their designation: but it was for this particular purpose that they were ordained. And this business was not simply handed over to them without further ceremony, but the Apostles prayed over them, that power might be given to them. But observe, I pray you, if there were need of seven men for this, great in proportion must have been the sums of money that flowed in, great in proportion also the number of widows. So then the prayers were not made in an off-hand way, but with much deliberate attention: and this office, as well as preaching, was thus brought to good effect; for what they did, they effected mostly by the means of these (their prayers.) Thus they were enabled to give their attention to things spiritual; thus were these also free to undertake long journeys; thus were these put in trust with the word. But the writer does not say this, nor extol them, but that it was “not reason” that they should leave the work given to them. Thus they had been taught by Moses’s example not to undertake the management of everything by themselves. (Num. 114.) “Only,” it is said, “that we should remember the poor.” (Gal. 2. 10.) And how did they bring these forward? They fasted. “Look you out seven men,” etc. (v. 3.) It is not simply, spiritual men, but, “full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” for it needed very great superiority of mind (φιλοσοφίας) to bear the complainings of widows. For what profits it, that the dispenser of alms steal not, if nevertheless he waste all, or be harsh and easily provoked? “And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” (v. 5.) And in this regard Philip also was admirable: for it is of him that the writer says: “And we entered into the house of Philip the Evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.”—(ch. 28.) Dost thou mark how matters are ordered quite otherwise than after the matter of men? “And the number of disciples was multiplied in Jerusalem.” (v. 7.) In Jerusalem the multitude increased. Wonderful, where Christ was slain, there the preaching increased! And not only was it not the case that some were offended then in the manner of Ananias, but the awe became even greater: while these are scourged, those threatening, those tempting the Spirit, those murmuring. But I would have thee remark under what circumstances the multitude increased: after these trials, then it was that the multitude increased, and not before. Mark also how great the mercy of God. Of those chief-priests, of the very men who had indignation and sore displeasure and so cried out and said, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save;” of these same, “Many,” it says, “were obedient unto the faith.” (Matt. xxvii. 42.)

Him therefore let us also imitate. He received them, and did not cast them out. So let us requite those our enemies, who have wrought us even numberless ills. Whatever good thing we may have, let us impart to them: let us not pass them by, in our acts of beneficence. For if we ought, by suffering ill, to sate their rage, much more, by doing them good: for this is a less thing than the other. For it is not all alike, to do good to an enemy, and to be willing to suffer greater wrongs than he wishes (to inflict): from the one we shall come on to the other. This is the dignity of Christ’s disciples. Those crucified Him, when He had come for the very purpose of doing them good; His disciples they scourged; and after all this, He admits them to the same honor with His disciples, making them equally partakers of His gifts. I beseech you, let us be imitators of Christ: in this regard it is possible to imitate Him: this makes a man like unto God: this is more than human. Let us hold fast to Mercy: she is the schoolmistress and teacher of that higher Wisdom. He that has learnt to show mercy to the distressed, will learn also not to resent injuries; he that has learnt this, will be able to do good even to his enemies. Let us learn to feel for the ills our neighbors suffer, and we shall learn to endure the ills they inflict. Let us ask the person himself who ill-treats us, whether he does not condemn himself? would he not be glad to show a nobler spirit (φιλοσοφεἵν)? must he not own that his behavior is nothing but passion, that it is little-minded, pitiful? would he not like to be of those who are wronged and are silent, and not of those who do wrong, and are beside themselves with passion? can he go away not admiring the patient sufferer? Do not imagine that this makes men despicable. Nothing makes men so despicable, as insolent and injurious behavior: nothing makes men so respectable, as endurance under insolence and injury. For the one is a ruffian, the other a philosopher; the one is less than man, the other is equal to angels. For though he be inferior to the wrong-doer, yet, for all that, he has the power, if he had the mind, to be revenged. And besides, the one is pitied by all, the other hated. What then? The former will be much the better of the two: for everybody will treat the one as a madman, the other as a man of sense. He cannot speak of him in evil sort: yea, thou fearest, says one, lest perchance he be not such (as thou wouldest represent). Best that thou speak not evil in thy thought even; next, that thou speak it not to another. Pray not then to God against this man: if thou hear him evil-spoken of, take his part: say, It was passion that spoke such words, not the man; say, It was anger, not my friend: his madness, not his heart. Thus let us account of each offence. Wait not for the fire to be kindled, but check it before it comes to that: do not exasperate the savage beast, rather do not suffer it to become exasperated: for thou wilt no longer be able to check it, if once the flame be kindled. For what has the man called thee? “Thou fool and simpleton.” And which then is liable to the name? the called, or the caller? For the one, be he ever so wise, gets the character of being a fool: but the other, even if he be a simpleton, gets credit for being wise, and of philosophic temper. Say, which is the simpleton? he who alleges against another what is untrue, or he who even under such treatment is unmoved? For if it be the mark of true philosophy to be unmoved however moved; to fall into a passion when none moves to anger—what folly is it! I say not yet, how sore a manner of punishment is in store for those who utter such reproaches and revilings against their neighbor. But how? has he called thee “a low fellow and low-born, a sorry creature and of sorry extraction?” Again he has turned the taunt against himself. For the other will appear worthy and respectable, but he a sorry creature indeed: for to cast up such things, that is to say, meanness of birth, as a disgrace, is little-minded indeed: while the other will be thought a great and admirable character, because he thinks nothing of such a taunt, and is no more affected by it than if he were told that he had about him any other ordinary and quite indifferent circumstance. But does he call thee “adulterer,” and such like? At this thou mayest even laugh: for, when the conscience is not smitten, there can be no occasion for wrath. * * For when one has considered what bad and disgraceful disclosures he makes, still for all that, there is no need to grieve. He has but laid bare now, what everybody must be apprised of by and bye: meanwhile, as regards himself he has shown all men that he is not to be trusted, for that he knows not how to screen his neighbor’s faults: he has disgraced himself more than he has the other; has stopped up against himself every harbor: has made terrible to himself the bar at which he must hereafter be tried. For not the person (whose secrets are betrayed) will be the object of everybody’s aversion, but he, who where he ought not to have raised the veil, has stripped off the clothes. But speak thou nothing of the secrets thou knowest: hold thou thy peace if thou wouldest bear off the good fame. For not only wilt thou overthrow what has been spoken, and hide it: but thou wilt also bring about another capital result: thou wilt stop sentence being given against thyself. Does somebody speak evil of thee? Say thou: “Had he known all, he would not have spoken only thus much.”—So you admire what has been said, and are delighted with it? Aye, but you must follow it. For when we tell you all these maxims of the heathen moralists, it is not because Scripture does not contain hundreds of such sayings, but because these are of more force to put you to the blush. As in fact Scripture itself is wont to use this appeal to our sense of shame; for, instance, when it says, “Do ye even as the heathen.” (Jer. xxxv. 3.) And the prophet Jeremiah brought forward into public view the children of Rechab, how they would not consent to violate the command of their father.—Miriam and her company spake evil of Moses, and he immediately begged them off from their punishment; nay, would not so much as let it be known that his cause was avenged. (Num. ch. xii.) But not so we: on the contrary, this is what we most desire; to have all men know that they have not passed unpunished. How long shall we breathe of the earth?—One party cannot make a fight. Pluck the madmen from both sides, you will exasperate them the more: but pluck from right or from left, and you have quenched the passion. The striker, if he has to do with one who will not put up with blows, is the more set on: but if with one who yields, he is the sooner unnerved, and his blow is spent upon himself. For no practised pugilist so unnerves the strength of his antagonist, as does a man who being injuriously treated makes no return. For the other only goes off ashamed, and condemned, first by his own conscience, and secondly by all the lookers on. And there is a proverb too, which says, that “to honor another, is to honor one’s self”: therefore also to abuse another is to abuse one’s self. None, I repeat, will be able to harm us, unless we harm ourselves; nor will any make me poor, unless I make myself such. For come, let us look at it in this way. Suppose that I have a beggarly soul, and let all lavish all their substance upon me, what of that? So long as the soul is not changed, it is all in vain. Suppose I have a noble soul, and let all men take from me my substance: what of that? So long as you do not make the soul beggarly, no harm is done. Suppose my life be impure, and let all men say just the contrary of me: what of that? For though they say it, yet they do not judge thus of me in their heart. Again, suppose my life be pure, and let all say of me just the reverse: and what of that? For in their own conscience they will condemn themselves: since they are not persuaded of what they say. Just as we ought not to admit the praise, so neither the criminations. And why say I these things? None will ever be able to plot against us, nor lay us under any evil charge, if we choose (that they shall not). For how now, I ask you? Let him drag me into a court of justice, let him lay vexatious informations, let him, if you will, have the very soul out of me: and what of that? for a little while, undeservedly to suffer these things, what does it signify? “Well, but this,” say you, “is of itself an evil.” Well, but of itself this is a good, to suffer undeservedly. What? would you have the suffering to be deserved? Let me mention again a piece of philosophy, from one of the sages. A certain person, says the story, had been put to death. And one of the sage’s disciples said to him, “Woe is me, that he should have suffered unjustly!” The other turned upon him, “Why, how now?” said he, “would you have had him justly suffer?” (Socrates ap. Diog. Laert. and Xen. Mem. Socr.) John also, was not he unjustly put to death? Which then do you rather pity: them that justly suffer death, or him? Do you not count them miserable, while him you even admire? Then what is a man injured, when from death itself he has got great gain, not merely no hurt? If indeed the man had been immortal, and this made him mortal, no doubt it would be a hurt: but if he be mortal, and in the course of nature must expect death a little later, and his enemy has but expedited his death, and glory with it, what is the harm? Let us but have our soul in good order, and there will be no harm from without. But thou art not in a condition of glory? And what of that? That which is true of wealth, the same holds for glory: if I be magnanimous (μεγαλοπρεπής), I shall need none; if vainglorious, the more I get, the more I shall want. In this way shall I most become illustrious, and obtain greater glory; namely, if I despise glory. Knowing these things, let us be thankful to Him Who hath freely given us such a life, and let us ensue it unto His glory; for to Him belongs the glory, forever. Amen.

 
1 - 15 Acts 6. 8 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

See how even among the seven one was preëminent, and won the first prize. For though the ordination was common to him and them, yet he drew upon himself greater grace. And observe, how he wrought no (signs and wonders) before this time, but only when he became publicly known; to show that grace alone is not sufficient, but there must be ordination also; so that there was a further access of the Spirit. For if they were full of the Spirit, it was of that which is from the Laver of Baptism. “Then there arose certain of them of the synagogue.” (v. 9.) Again he uses the phrase of “rising up” (ἀνάστασιν, Hom. 13. p. 8, to denote their exasperation and wrath. Here we have a great multitude. And observe the difference in the form of accusation: for since Gamaliel had stopped them from finding fault on the former plea, they bring in another charge. “And there rose up, it says, certain of them of the synagogue of those who are called (τὥν λεγομένων. Edd. τἥς λεγομένης) Libertines, and of the Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.” (v. 9–12.) That they may establish the charge, the phrase is, “he speaks against God, and against Moses.” And with this object too they disputed, that they might force him to say somewhat. But he now discoursed more openly, and perhaps spoke of the cessation of the Divine Law: or, spoke it not, but hinted as much: since had he spoken plainly, there had been no need of suborned men, nor yet of false witnesses. The synagogues were diverse: to wit, “Of the Libertines”: “of the Cyrenians, i.e. those in the parts beyond Alexandria “of the Alexandrians,” etc.. There also they seem to have had synagogues according to their different nations; for many stayed behind there, that they might not be obliged to be continually travelling. The Libertines perhaps were freedmen of the Romans. As there were many foreigners dwelling there, so they had their synagogues, where the Law was to be read. “Disputing with Stephen.” Observe him, not taking upon him to teach, but forced to do so. The miracles once more brought him into ill-will; but when he overcame in argument, it was false-witness! For they did not wish to kill intolerable to them. “They could not resist, etc.: then they suborned men.” Everywhere out of hand, but by means of a sentence, that they might hurt their reputation also: and leaving those (the Apostles), they attack these (the disciples), thinking in this way to terrify those also. They say not, “he speaketh,” but, “he ceaseth not to speak. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law.” (v. 12, 13.) “Ceaseth not,” say they, as if he made this his business. “For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.” (v. 14.) “Jesus,” they say, “the Nazarene,” as a term of reproach, “shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs.” This is also what they said about Christ. “Thou that destroyest this Temple.” (Matt. xxvii. 40.) For great was their veneration for the Temple (as indeed they had chosen to leave their own country (μετοικεἴν) in order to be near it) and for the name of Moses. The charge is twofold. If He “shall change the customs,” He will also introduce others instead: observe how the charge is a bitter one, and fraught with perils. “And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” (v. 15.) So possible is it even for one in a lower degree to shine. For what, I ask, had this man less than the Apostles? He lacked not miracles, and great was the boldness he exhibited.—“They saw His face,” it is said, “as it had been the face of an angel.” (Ex. xxxiv. 30.) For this was his grace, this was the glory of Moses. God made him thus gracious (ἐπίχαριν) of visage, now that he was about to say somewhat, thus at once by his very look to awe them. For there are, yes, there are faces full-fraught with spiritual grace, lovely to them that love, awful to haters and enemies. It mentions also the reason, why they suffered his oration.—“Then,” it proceeds, “said the high-priest, Are these things so?” (ch. 7. 1.) Observe, the question is put with mildness, that he may effect some great mischief. For this reason Stephen too begins his speech in a tone of gentleness, and says, “Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran.” (v. 2.) Immediately at the outset he overthrows their conceit, and makes it appear by what he says, that the temple is nothing, that the customs are nothing either, without their suspecting his drift: also that they shall not overcome the preaching; and that from powerless (ἀμηχάνων) things God evermore contrives Him powerful (εὐμήχανα) instruments. Mark then how these threads make the texture of the whole speech: and moreover that having evermore enjoyed exceeding goodness, they still requited their Benefactor with the opposite conduct, and that they are now attempting impossibilities. “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he came into Charran.” Both the temple was not, and sacrifice was not, and yet a vision of God was vouchsafed to Abraham, and yet had he Persians for his ancestors, and was in a strange land. And he does well at the beginning of his speech to call Him, “the God of glory:” seeing that He hath made them that are without honor to be glorious. “Because” (says he) “it was He that made them glorious, He will make us also.” Observe how he leads them away from things of the body, from the place, in the first instance, as the place was in question. “The God of glory,” says he: implying again, that He needs not the glory which comes from us, which comes by the Temple: for Himself is the Fountain thereof. Think not, he would say, in this way to glorify Him. “And from thy kindred.” How then saith the Scripture, that Abraham’s father was willing to go out? Hence we learn, that it was in consequence of Abraham’s vision, that his father was moved to join in the migration. (Gen. 131.) “And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into a land which I shall show thee.” (v. 3.) It shows how far these men are from being children of Abraham, how obedient he was. “And from thy kindred.” Uncomfortable (φορτικὰ) reflections, both, that he endured the labors, while ye reap the fruits, and that all your ancestors were in evil case. “Then came he out of the land of the Chaldæans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, He removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And He gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on.” (v. 4, 5.) See how he raises their thoughts away from (their possession of) the land. For if He said (that, He will give: clearly all came from him, and nothing from themselves. For he came, having left both kindred and country. Wherefore then did He not give it to him? Truly it was a figure of another land. “And He promised to give it to him.” Do you perceive, that he does not merely resume the thread of his discourse? “He gave him not,” says he; “and He promised; and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.” Again, what God can do: that out of impossibilities, He doeth all. For here is a man in Persia, so far away, and this man God saith He will make lord of Palestine. But let us look back to what was said before.

Whence, I pray you, did that grace bloom upon the countenance of Stephen? (Recapitulation.) The writer gives him this report above, that he was “full of faith.” (ch. 6. 8). For it is possible to have a grace that does not consist in works of healing: “For to one is given the grace of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12. 8, 9) in such and such wise (τοιὣσδε). But here, it seems to me, it says that he was also gracious to look at: “They saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” “Full of faith and of power”: (v. 15) which is also the character given of Barnabas “he was a good man, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” (ch. 124.) Whence we learn that the sincere and innocent are, above all others, the men to be saved, and that these same are also more gracious. “Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words.” (v. 11.) In the case of the Apostles they were annoyed that they preached the Resurrection, and that much people flowed unto them: but in this case, that they were getting their diseases healed. (ch. 4. 2.) The things for which they ought to give thanks, they made matter of blame: O the madness! The men who overcame them by works, they expected to overcome by words! It is just what they did in the case of Christ, and always they forced them to words. For they were ashamed to seize them without more ado, having nothing to charge them with. And observe, not the persons themselves who bring them to judgment bear witness against them; for they would have been refuted: but they simply hire others, that it may not seem to be an act of mere violence. It is all of a piece with their proceeding in the case of Christ. And observe the power of the preaching, that, though they are not only scourged but stoned, it still prevails: not only, private individuals as they are, dragged to the bar, but assailed from all quarters: and, their enemies themselves being witnesses, not only were these worsted, but “they were not able” even “to resist” (v. 10), though they were exceeding shameless: so mightily did it overthrow them, for all that they could do with their preposterous figments (as the saying that He had a devil—He that cast out devils!). For the battle was not man’s, but God’s against men. And there were many combined together; not only they in Jerusalem, but others as well. (v. 9.) For “we have heard him,” say they, “speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” (v. 11.) O ye shameless ones! Ye work blasphemous deeds, and think nothing of it. This is why Moses is added—because the things of God were no great concern to them: and it is ever and always Moses that they make mention of: “This Moses, which brought us out.” (ch. 7. 40.) “And they stirred up the people.” (v. 12.) Fickleness of the multitude! And yet how could a man who was a blasphemer have so succeeded? How could a blasphemer work such miracles among the people? But the undisciplined multitude made them strong who had the worst of it (in argument).—This was what most annoyed them. “We have heard him,” they say, “speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God” (v. and again, “This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law,” and with an addition, “the customs” “which Moses delivered to us” (v. Moses, not God. Upon the supposition of a design to overturn their manner of life (πολιτείας), they accused him of impiety also. But to show that it was not in the nature of such a man to speak such things, and harshly “Then all,” it says, “which were in the council, looking steadfastly upon him, saw his face, as it had been the face of an angel” (v. 15): so mild was he even in countenance. For, in cases where persons were not falsely accused, Scripture mentions nothing of this kind: but as in this case it was all false accusation, with reason does God rectify it by the very look of the man. For the Apostles indeed were not falsely accused, but were forbidden: but this man is falsely accused: and therefore before all else his countenance pleads for him. This abashed even the priest. “And he said,” etc. (ch. 7. 1.) He shows here, that the promise was made before the Place, before Circumcision, before Sacrifice, before the Temple, and that it was not of their merit that these received either Circumcision or Law, but that the land was the reward of obedience alone. Moreover, that neither on the giving of circumcision does the promise receive its fulfillment. Also, that these were figures, and (so was) both the leaving his country at God’s command—not against the law (for home and country is where God shall lead): “Then came he out,” it says, “of the land of the Chaldeans” (v. :—and that if one look closely into the matter, the Jews are of Persian origin: and that, without miracles, one must do as God bids, whatever hardships be the consequence; since the Patriarch left both the grave of his father and all that he had, in obedience to God’s command. But if Abraham’s father was not allowed to take part with him in the privilege of migrating to Palestine, because he was unworthy: much more shall the children (be excluded at last), for all that they may have gone a good distance on the way. “And He promised,” it says, “to give it to him, and to his seed after him.” (v. 5.) Herein is shown the greatness both of God’s goodness and of Abraham’s faith. For the expression, “when as yet he had no child,” does show his obedience and faith. “Promised to give it to him and to his seed.” And yet the events showed the contrary: namely, after he came, he had not “so much as to set his foot on,” had not a child; which very things were contrary to his faith.

These things having seen, let us likewise, whatever God shall promise, receive the same, however contrary may be the events. And yet in our case, they are not contrary, but very suitable. For where the promises are, there, when the contraries turn out, they are really contrary; but in our case it is just the reverse: for He has told us that we should have tribulation here, but our rest there. Why do we confound the times? Why do we turn things upside down? Say, art thou afflicted, and livest in poverty, and in dejection? Be not troubled: for it were worth being troubled at, wert thou destined to be afflicted in that world: as for this present affliction, it is the cause of rest. “This sickness,” saith He, “is not unto death.” (John 14.) That affliction is punishment: this, schooling and correction. It is a contest, this life present: if so, to fight is our business now: it is war and battle. In war one does not seek to have rest, in war one does not seek to have dainty living, one is not anxious about riches, one’s care is not about a wife then: one thing only he looks at, how he may overcome his foes. Be this our care likewise: if we overcome, and return with the victory, God will give us all things. Be this alone our study, how we may overcome the devil: though after all it is not our own study that does it, but God’s grace does the whole business. Be it our one study, how we may attract His grace, how we may draw to ourselves that assistance. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8. 31.) Let us make one thing our study; that He be not our enemy, that He turn not away from us.

Not the being afflicted is an evil; the evil is, to sin. This is the sore affliction, however we may pass our days in luxury:—not to speak of the life to come, it is so even in this life present. Think how our conscience is stung with remorse, and whether this is not worse than any kind of torture! I should like to put the question searchingly to those who live in evil ways (ἐν κακοἵς), whether they never come to reflect upon their own sins, whether they do not tremble, and are in fear and anguish, whether they do not think those blessed who live in abstinence, them of the mountains, them of the strict rule? (τοὺς ἐν πολλῇ φιλοσοφί& 139·.) Dost thou wish to find rest in the life to come? Suffer affliction in this life for Christ’s sake: there is nothing equal to this rest. The Apostles rejoiced when scourged. Paul gives this exhortation, saying, “Rejoice in the Lord.” (Philip. 4. 4.) And how can there be rejoicing, where there are bonds, where there are tortures; where there are courts of justice? There, most of all, is rejoicing. But say, how can there be rejoicing, where these are not? For he who is conscious of no evil, will have a sort of exceeding delight, insomuch that in what degree you speak of tribulation, in the same you tell of his delight. The soldier who has received numberless wounds and is come home again, will he not return with exceeding delight, with his wounds as his title for speaking up boldly, and as evidence of his glory and renown? And thou, if thou be able to exclaim as Paul does, “I bear the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6. 17), wilt be able to become great and glorious and renowned. “But there is no persecution.” Make thy stand against glory: and should any one speak anything against thee, fear not to be evil-spoken of for Christ’s sake: make thy stand against the tyranny of pride, against the fighting of anger, against the torment of concupiscence. These also are “marks,” these also are torments. For, I ask, what is the worst in tortures? Is it not, that the soul is pained, and is on fire? For in the other case, the body too has its share: but in this, the whole belongs to the soul. On the soul alone comes all the smart, when one is angry, when one is envious, whatever else of this kind one does, or rather suffers. For, in fact, it is not action, but passion, not a doing, but a suffering—to be angered, to feel envy: therefore indeed they are called passions (or sufferings) (πάθη, perturbationes) of the soul, yea wounds, and bruises. For it is indeed a suffering, and worse than suffering. Bethink you, ye that are angry, that ye do such things in “passion,” in a state of suffering. Therefore he who is not angry suffers not. Do you mark that not he who is abused is the sufferer, but he that abuses, as I said above? For that he is a sufferer, is plain in the first place from the very fact, that such a thing is called by this name of passion: and it is also plain from the (effects on the) body: for these are the affections (πάθη) for “sufferings,” as we call them engendered by anger, viz. dimness of vision, insanity, and numberless others. “But he insulted my boy,” say you; “but he called him clown.” Deem it not weakness thy not doing the same thing thyself. For, I ask you, was it well done? You will not say that: then leave that undone which being done were not well done. I know what passions are engendered in such cases. “But,” say you, “how if he despise me, how if he say it again?” Show him that he is in the wrong: rebuke him, entreat him: by meekness anger is put down: go and expostulate with him. For though in cases of wrong done to ourselves it is right not to do even this, yet it is quite necessary to do it in behalf of others. Do not look on it as an insult to yourself that your boy has been insulted: annoyed you may be for his sake, yet not as if you were insulted: for it does not follow because your boy has been ill-treated, that you are disgraced, but he is disgraced that did the ill. Quench (thine anger) that sharp sword: let it lie in its scabbard. If we have it unsheathed, we shall be apt to use it even when the time is not proper, being drawn on by it: but if it be hidden, though a necessity should arise, yet, while we seek it in order to draw it, the anger will be quenched. Christ would not have us be angry on his account: (hear what He saith to Peter: “Put up again thy sword into the sheath:”) (Matt. 26. 5 and art thou angry on account of a boy? Teach thy boy also to be philosophical: tell him thy own sufferings: imitate (herein) thy Teacher. (Matt. 26. 52.) When they too (His disciples) were about to be treated with dishonor, He said not, “I will avenge you:” but, “to Me also,” saith He, “they have done the same: bear it nobly, for ye are not better than I.” These words too do thou speak to thy son and thy boy: “Thou art not better than thy master.” But these words of philosophy are counted as the talk of a widow woman. Alas! that it is not in the power of words to bring it home to people in the way that it is possible to be taught it by actual experience! And that you may learn this; stand between two combatants, take part with the wronged, not with the wrong-doers that you may learn whether you shall not see the victory on your side, whether you shall not get splendid crowns.—See, how God is insulted, and how He answers; how gently, “Where,” saith He, “is Abel thy brother?” and what saith the other: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 6. 9.) What could be more contumacious than this? Would any one have heard it (patiently) even from a son? and if from a brother, would he not have thought such conduct an insult? What then? See how again God gently answers, “The voice of thy brother’s blood,” saith He “crieth unto Me.” “But God,” it will be said, “is superior to wrath.” Yes, but for this reason the Son of God came down, that He might make thee a God as far as human power can go. “But I cannot,” says one, “seeing I am man.” Well then, let us give you men for instances. And do not suppose I speak of Paul or of Peter: no, but of some of inferior sort, yea, very much lower down. Eli’s menial insulted Hannah, saying, “Put away thy wine from thee.” (1 Sam. 14.) What could be more insulting than this? What then said she? “I am a woman of a hard lot.” Indeed, there is nothing equal to affliction: she is the mother of true philosophy. But this same woman, though she has her rival, insulted her not: but what does she? She takes refuge with God, and in her prayer does not even make mention of her, nor say, “Avenge me, for such an one reproaches me:” so magnanimous was that woman (let us men be ashamed):—and yet ye know, that there is nothing like jealousy. The publican, when insulted by the Pharisee, insulted not in return, though, had he wished it, he might have done so: but he bore it like a philosopher, saying, “Be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18. 13.) Mephibosheth, having been accused and calumniated by his servant, neither said, nor did, any evil to him, not even in the presence of the king himself. (2 Sam. 14. 26.) Shall I tell you even of a harlot, what philosophic magnanimity she showed? Hear Christ saying, as she was wiping His feet with her hair, “The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom before you.” (Matt. 231.) Do you see her standing, and taking courage, and washing away her own sins? Observe, how she was not angry even with the Pharisee, when reproached by him: “for had He known,” says he, “that this woman is a sinner, He would not have suffered her (Luke 7. 39): and how she said not to him, “What then? Say, art thou pure from sins?” but felt more, wept more, and let fall hotter tears. But if women and publicans and harlots play the philosopher, and that before grace (i.e. of Baptism), what pardon can they deserve, who, after so great grace, fight, and worry, and kick one another, worse than beasts? Nothing is more base than passion, nothing more disgraceful, nothing more frightful, nothing more odious, nothing more hurtful. These things I say, not only in order that towards men we may be gentle, but also if a wife be a talker, that thou mayest bear it: let thy wife be to thee a school for training and exercise (παλαίστρα καὶ γυμνάσιον). For how can it but be absurd, to submit to exercises which yield no profit, where we afflict the body, but not to practise exercises at home, which, even before the contest, present to us a crown? Does thy wife abuse thee? Do not thou become a woman: to be abusive is womanly: it is a disease of the soul, an inferiority. Think not that it is unworthy of thee, when thy wife abuses thee. Unworthy it is, when thou art abusive, but she bears patiently (φιλοσοφῇ): then dost thou act unseemly, then art thou disgraced: but if, having been abused, thou bear it, great is the proof of thy strength. I do not say this, to induce wives to be abusive: God forbid: but only in case it should so happen at the instance of Satan. It is the part of men that are strong, to bear the weak. And if thy servant contradict thee, bear it philosophically: not what he deserves to have said to him, do thou say or do, but that which it behooves thee both to do and to say. Never insult a girl by uttering some foul word against her: never call thy servant, scoundrel (μιαρὸν): not he is disgraced, but thou. It is not possible to be master of one’s self, being in a passion. Like a sea rolling mountains high, it is all hurly-burly: or even as a pure fountain, when mire is cast into it, becomes muddied, and all is in turmoil. You may beat him, you may rend his coat to rags, but it is you that sustain the greater damage: for to him the blow is on the body and the garment, but to you on the soul. It is your own soul that you have cut open; it is there that you have inflicted a wound: you have flung your own charioteer from his horses, you have got him dragging along the ground upon his back. And it is all one, as if one driver being in a passion with another, should choose to be thus dragged along. You may rebuke, you may chide, you may do whatever if be, only let it be without wrath and passion. For if he who rebukes is physician to him who offends, how can he heal another, when he has first hurt himself, when he does not heal himself? Say, if a physician should go to heal another person, does he first wound his own hand, first blind his own eyes, and so set about healing that other? God forbid. So also, however thou rebuke, however thou chide, let thine eyes see clearly. Do not make thy mind muddy, else how shall the cure be wrought? It is not possible to be in the same tranquillity, being in a passion, and being free from passion. Why dost thou first overturn thy master from his seat, and then discourse with him as he lies sprawling on the ground? Seest thou not the judges, how, when about to hold the assize, they seat themselves upon the bench, in their becoming attire? Thus do thou likewise dress thy soul with the judicial robe (which is gentleness). “But he will not be afraid of me,” say you. He will be the more afraid. In the other case, though you speak justly, your servant will impute it to passion: but if you do it with gentleness, he will condemn himself: and, what is of the first importance, God will accept thee, and thus thou wilt be able to attain unto the eternal blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 16 Acts 7. 6, 7 “And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve Me in this place.”

See, what a number of years the Promise has been given, and the manner of the Promise, and nowhere sacrifice, nowhere circumcision! He here shows, how God Himself suffered them to be afflicted, not that He had anything to lay to their charge. “And they shall bring them into bondage,” etc. But nevertheless, they did not these things with impunity. “And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage I will judge, said God.” For, to show that they are not to go by this, in estimating who are pious (by reason of their saying, “He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him,”) (Matt. xxvii. 4.—He, the Same that promised, He that gave the land, first permits the evils. So also now, though He has promised a Kingdom, yet He suffers us to be exercised in temptations. If here the freedom was not to be till after four hundred years, what wonder, with regard to the Kingdom? Yet he performed it, and lapse of time availed not to falsify His word. Moreover, it was no ordinary bondage they underwent. And the matter does not terminate solely in the punishment of those (their oppressors); but they themselves also, He saith, shall enjoy a mighty salvation. Here he reminds them too of the benefit which they enjoyed. “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so he begat Isaac.” Here he lets himself down to lower matters. “And circumcised him on the eighth day: and Isaac (begat) Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs.” (v. 8).—Here he seems to hint now at the type. “And the patriarchs moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt.” (v. 9.) Here again, the type of Christ. Though they had no fault to find with him, and though he came on purpose to bring them their food, they thus ill-treated him. Still here again the promise, though it is a long while first, receives its fulfillment. “And God was with him”—this also is for them—“and delivered him out of all his afflictions.” (v. 10). He shows that unknowingly they helped to fulfil the prophecy, and that they were themselves the cause, and that the evils recoiled on their own selves. “And gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt, Gave him favor,” in the eyes of a barbarian, to him, the slave, the captive: his brethren sold him, this (barbarian) honored him. “Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren.” (v. 11–They came down to buy, and had to depend upon him for everything. What then did he? “He made himself known to his brethren:” not to this point only did he carry his friendliness; he also made them known to Pharaoh, and brought them down into the land. “And Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.” (v. 13–18). Then again, fresh disappointment (ἀνελπιστία): first, famine, but they came through that: secondly, the falling into the hands of their enemy: thirdly, the being destroyed by the king. Then (to show) God’s fulness of ways and means (εὐμήχανον), “In which time,” it says, “Moses was born, and was exceeding fair.” (v. 20.) If the former circumstance was wonderful, that Joseph was sold by his brethren, here again is another circumstance more wonderful still, that the king “nourished” the very person who was to overthrow his dominion, being himself the person that was to perish. Do you observe all along a figurative enacting, so to say, of the resurrection of the dead? But it is not the same thing for God himself to do a thing, and for a thing to come to pass in connection with man’s purpose (προαίρεσις). For these things indeed were in connection with man’s purpose but the Resurrection by itself, independently.—“And he was mighty,” it says, “in word and in deed” (v. 2: he that was to have died. Then again he shows how ungrateful they were to their benefactor. For, just as in the former instance, they were saved by the injured Joseph, so here again they were saved by another injured person, I mean, Moses. “And when he was full forty years old,” etc. For what though they killed him not actually? In intention they did kill, as did the others in the former case. There, they sold out of their own into a strange land: here, they drive from one strange land into another strange land: in the former case, one in the act of bringing them food; in this, one in the act of giving them good counsel; one to whom, under God, the man was indebted for his life! Mark how it shows (the truth of) that saying of Gamaliel’s, “If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.” (ch. 5. 39.) See the plotted-against eventually becoming the authors of salvation to those plotting against them: the people, plotting against itself, and itself plotted against by others; and for all this, saved! A famine, and it did not consume them: nor was this all: but they were saved by means of the very person, whom they had expected to be destroyed (by their means). A royal edict, and it did not consume them: nay then most did their number increase, when he was dead “who knew” them. Their own Saviour they wished to kill, but for all that, they had not power to do it. Do you observe, that by the means whereby the devil tried to bring to naught the promise of God, by those very means it was advanced?

“And God spake on this wise,” etc. (Recapitulation, 5. 6, 7.) This is suitable to be said here also: that God is rich in ways and means to bring us up from hence. For this above all showed the riches of God’s resources, that in its very reverses (ἀποστροφῇ) the nation increased, while enslaved, while evil-entreated, and sought to be exterminated. And this is the greatness of the Promise. For had it increased in its own land, it had not been so wonderful. And besides, it was not for a short time, either, that they were in the strange land: but for four hundred years. Hence we learn a (great lesson) of philosophic endurance (φιλοσοφίαν):—they did not treat them as masters use slaves, but as enemies and tyrants—and he foretold that they should be set in great liberty: for this is the meaning of that expression, “They shall serve (Me): and they shall come up hither again” (ἐνταὕθα ἐπανελεύσονται); and with impunity.—And observe, how, while he seems to concede something to circumcision, he in fact allows it nothing (v. 8); since the Promise was before it, and it followed after.—“And the patriarchs,” he says, “moved with envy.” (v. 9.) Where it does no harm, he humors (χαρίζεται) them: for they prided themselves much on these also.—And he shows, that the saints were not exempt from tribulation, but that in their very tribulations they obtained help. And that these persons did themselves help to bring about the results, who wished to cut short these same (afflictions): just as these made Joseph the more glorious: just as the king did Moses, by ordering the children to be killed: since had he not ordered, this would not have been: just as also that (Hebrew) drives Moses into exile, that there he may have the Vision, having become worthy. Thus also him who was sold for a slave, makes He to reign as king there, where he was thought to be a slave. Thus also does Christ in His death give proof of His power: thus also does He there reign as king where they sold Him. “And gave him favor and wisdom,” etc. (v. 10.) This was not only by way of honor, but that he should have confidence in his own power. “And he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.” “Now there came a dearth,” etc. On account of famine—such preparations is he making—“with threescore and fifteen souls,” he says, “Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.” (v. 11–16). It shows, that they were not masters even to the extent of a burying-place. “But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, till another king arose, which knew not Joseph” (v. 17, 18). Observe, that it is not during the four hundred years that He multiplies them, but (only) when the end was about to draw nigh. And yet already four hundred years were passed, nay more, in Egypt. But this is the wonder of it. “The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil-entreated our fathers, that they should cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.” (v. 19.) “Dealt subtly:” he hints at their not liking to exterminate them openly: “that they should cast out their young children,” it says. “In which time Moses was born and was exceeding fair.” (v. 20.) This is the wonder, that he who is to be their champion, is born, neither after nor before, these things, but in the very midst of the storm (θυμῷ). “And was nourished up in his father’s house three months.” But when man’s help was despaired of, and they cast him forth, then did God’s benefit shine forth conspicuous. “And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.” (v. 21.) Not a word of Temple, not a word of Sacrifice, while all these Providences are taking place. And he was nourished in a barbarian house. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” (v. 22.) “Was trained,” both in discipline and in letters. “And when he was full forty years old.” (v. 23.) Forty years he was there, and was not found out from his being circumcised. Observe, how, being in safety, they overlook their own interests, both he and Joseph, in order that they may save others: “And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.” (v. 23–25.)—See how up to this point he is not yet offensive to them; how they listened to him while he said all this. And “his face,” we read, “was as the face of an angel” (ch. 6. 15).—“For he supposed,” etc. And yet it was by deeds that his championship was shown; what intelligence was there need of here? but still for all this “they understood not. And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?” (v. 26–28.) Do you mark with what mildness he addresses them? He who had shown his wrath in the case of the other, shows his gentleness in his own case. “But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday?” Mark; the very words which they said to Christ: “Who made Thee ruler and judge over us?” So habitual a thing was it for Jews to wrong (their benefactors) when in the act of receiving benefits! And again, mark the atrocious baseness: (μιαρίαν al. μοχθηρίαν, Sav. marg.) “As thou didst the Egyptian yesterday! Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.” (v. 29.) But neither did flight extinguish the plan of Providence, as neither did death (i.e. the death of Christ).

“And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.” (v. 30.) Do you mark that it is not hindered by lapse of time? For when he was an exile, when a stranger, when he had now passed much time in a foreign land, so as to have two sons, when he no longer expected to return, then does the Angel appear to him. The Son of God he calls an Angel, as also he calls Him man. (Appears) in the desert, not in a temple. See how many miracles are taking place, and no word of Temple, no word of Sacrifice. And here also not simply in the desert, but in the bush. “When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him.” (v. 31.) Lo! he was deemed worthy of the Voice also. “I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (v. 32, 33.) Lo! how He shows that He is none other than “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”—He, “the Angel of the Great Counsel.” (Is. 9. 6. LXX. “Wonderful, Counsellor,” E.V.) Here he shows what great loving-kindness God herein exhibits. “Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet; for the place where thou standest is holy ground.” Not a word of Temple, and the place is holy through the appearance and operation of Christ. Far more wonderful this than the place which is in the Holy of Holies: for there God is nowhere said to have appeared in this manner, nor Moses to have thus trembled. And then the greatness of His tender care. “I have seen, I have seen the affliction of My people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.” (v. 34.) See, how he shows, that both by kindnesses, and by chastisements, and by miracles, God was drawing them to Him: but they were still the same. That God is everywhere present, they learned.

Hearing these things, let us in our afflictions flee to Him. “And their groaning,” saith He, “I have heard:” not simply, “because of their calamities.” But if any should ask, Why then did He suffer them to be evil entreated there? Why, in the first place, to every just man his sufferings are the causes of his rewards. And in the next place, as to why He afflicted them: it was to show His power, that He can (do all), and not only so, but that He may also train them. Observe in fact; when they were in the desert, then they “waxed fat, they grew thick, they spread out in breadth, they kicked” (Deut. xxxii. 15): and ever and always ease was an evil. Therefore also from the beginning He said to Adam: “In the sweat of thy face thou shall eat thy bread.” (Gen. 3. 19.) Also (it was) in order that having come out of much suffering into rest, they might give thanks to God. For affliction is a great good. For hear the Prophet saying, “It is good for me, that Thou hast humbled me.” (Ps. cxix. 71.) But if to great and wonderful men affliction be a great (good), much more to us. And, if you will, let us examine into the nature of affliction as it is in itself. Let there be some person rejoicing exceedingly, and gay, and giving a loose to jollity: what more unseemly, what more senseless than this? Let there be one sorrowing and dejected: what more truly philosophic than this? For, “It is better,” we read, “to go into the house of mourning, than into the house of laughter.” (Eccles. 7. 2.) But, likely enough, you do not like the saying, and want to evade it. Let us however see, what sort of man Adam was in Paradise, and what he was afterwards: what sort of man Cain was before, and what he was afterwards. The soul does not stand fast in its proper place, but, like as by a running tide, (ῥεύματος, Edd. πνεύματος, “wind”) is raised and buoyed up by pleasure, having no steadfastness; facile in making professions, prompt at promising; the thoughts all in restless commotion: laughter ill-timed, causeless hilarity, idle clatter of unmeaning talk. And why speak of others? Let us take in hand some one of the saints, and let us see what he was while in pleasure, what again, when in distress. Shall we look at David himself? When he was in pleasure and rejoicing, from his many trophies, from his victory, from his crowns, from his luxurious living, from his confidence, see what sort of things he said and did: “But I said in my prosperity,” says he, “I shall never be moved.” (Ps. xxx. 6.) But when he has come to be in affliction, hear what he says: “And if He say to me, I have no mind for thee; lo! here am I, let Him do that which is pleasing in His sight.” (2 Sam. 15. 26.) What can be more truly philosophic than these words? “Whatsoever may be pleasing to God,” saith he, “so let it be.” And again he said to Saul: “If the Lord stirreth thee up against me, may thy sacrifice be acceptable.” (1 Sam. 26. 19.) And then too, being in affliction, he spared even his enemies: but afterwards, not friends even, nor those who had done him no injury. Again, Jacob when he was in affliction, said: “If the Lord will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on.” (Gen. 28. 20.) As also the son of Noah did nothing of the kind erewhile; but when he was no longer afraid for his safety, you hear how wanton he became. (ib. 9. 22.) Hezekiah too, when he was in affliction, see what things he did in order to his deliverance; he put on sackcloth, and such like; but when he was in pleasure, he fell through the haughtiness of his heart. (2 Kings ch. 14. 20.) For, saith the Scripture, “When thou hast eaten, and drunk, and art filled, take heed to thyself.” (Deut. 6. 112.) For perilous, as on a precipice’s brink, is the post of affluence. “Take heed,” saith he, “to thyself.” When the Israelites were afflicted, they became all the more increased in number: but when He left them to themselves, then they all went to ruin. And why speak of examples from the ancients? In our own times, let us see, if you please, is it not the case, that when the most are in good case, they become puffed up, hostile to everybody, passionate, while the power is with them: but if it be taken away, they are gentle, lowly (and as) human beings, are brought to a consciousness of their own natural condition. Therefore the Scripture saith, “Pride hath holden them unto the end: their iniquity shall go forth as from fatness.” (Ps. lxxiii. 6. LXX.)

Now these things I have spoken, that we should not make enjoyment every way our object. How then does Paul say, “Rejoice alway?” He does not say simply, “Rejoice,” but he adds, “in the Lord.” (Phil. 4. 4.) This is the greatest joy, such as the Apostles rejoiced withal; the joy of which prisons, and scourges, and persecutions, and evil report, and all painful things, are the source, and the root, and the occasion; whence also it comes to a happy issue. But that of the world, on the contrary, begins with sweets and ends in bitters. Neither do I forbid to rejoice in the Lord, nay, I earnestly exhort to this. The Apostles were scourged, and they rejoiced: were bound, and they gave thanks: were stoned, and they preached. This is the joy I also would have: from nothing bodily has it its origin, but from spiritual things. It is not possible for him who joys after the fashion of the world, to rejoice also after a godly sort: for every one who joys after the world’s fashion, has his joy in riches, in luxury, in honor, in power, in arrogance: but he who rejoices after the mind of God, has his joy in dishonor for God’s sake, in poverty, in want, in fasting, in humbleness of mind. Seest thou, how opposite are the grounds (of joy)? To go without joy here, is to be without grief also: and to be without grief here, is to go without pleasure too. And in truth these are the things which produce real joy, since the others have the name only of joy, but they altogether consist of pain. What misery the arrogant man endures! How is he cut short (διακόπτεται) in the midst of his arrogance, bespeaking for himself numberless insults, much hatred, great enmity, exceeding spite, and many an evil eye! Whether it be that he is insulted by greater men, he grieves: or that he cannot make his stand against everybody, he is mortified. Whereas the humble man lives in much enjoyment: expecting honor from none, if he receive honor, he is pleased, but if not, he is not grieved. He takes it contentedly that he is honored; but above all, none dishonors him. Now not to seek honor, and yet to be honored—great must be the enjoyment of this. But in the other, it is just the reverse: he seeks honor, and is not honored. And the pleasure that the honor gives is not the same to him who seeks it, as it is to him who seeks it not. The one, however much he receives, thinks he has received nothing: the other, though you give him ever so little, takes it as though he had received all. Then again, he who lives in affluence and luxury has numberless affairs of business, and let his revenues flow in to him ever so easily, and, as it were, from full fountains, yet he fears the evils arising from luxurious living, and the uncertainty of the future: but the other is always in a state of security and enjoyment, having accustomed himself to scantiness of diet. For he does not so bemoan himself at not partaking of a sumptuous board, as he luxuriates in not fearing the uncertainty of the future. But the evils arising from luxurious living, how many and great they are, none can be ignorant: it is necessary, however, to mention them now. Twofold the war, in the body, and in the soul: twofold the storm: twofold the diseases; not only in this respect, but because they are both incurable, and bring with them great calamities. Not so, frugality: but here is twofold health, twofold the benefits. “Sleep of health,” we read, “is in moderate eating.” (Ecclus. xxxi. 20.) For everywhere, that which keeps measure is pleasant, that which is beyond measure, ceases to please. For say now: on a little spark put a great pile of fagots, and you will no longer see the fire shining, but much disagreeable smoke. On a very strong and large man lay a burden which exceeds his strength, and you will see him with his burden lying prostrate on the ground. Embark too large a freight in your vessel, and you have ensured a grievous shipwreck. Just so it is here. For just as in overladen ships, great is the tumult of the sailors, the pilot, the man at the prow, and the passengers, while they cast into the sea the things above deck, and things below; so here too, with their vomitings upwards, and their purgings downwards, they mar their constitutions, and destroy themselves. And what is the most shameful of all, the mouth is made to do the office of the nether parts, and that becomes the more shameful member. But if to the mouth the disgrace be such, think what must it be in the soul! For indeed there it is all mist, all storm, all darkness, great the uproar of the thoughts, at being so thronged and crushed, the soul itself crying out at the abuse done to it: all (the parts and faculties) complaining of one another, beseeching, entreating, that the filth may be discharged somewhere. And after it is flung out, still the turmoil is not at an end; but then comes fever and diseases. “And how comes it,” say you, “that one may see these luxurious livers, in goodly plight, riding on horseback? What idle talk is this,” say you, “to tell us of diseases? It is I that am diseased, I that am racked, I that am disgusting, while I have nothing to eat.” Ah me! for one may well lament at such words. But the sufferers with the gout, the men that are carried on litters, the men that are swathed with bandages, from what class of people, I ask you, shall we see these? And indeed, were it not that they would deem it an insult, and think my words opprobrious, I would before now have addressed them even by name. “But there are some of them, who are in good health as well.” Because they give themselves not merely to luxurious living, but also to labors. Else show me a man, who does nothing whatever but fatten himself, free from pain as he lies there, without an anxious thought. For though a host of physicians without number came together, they would not be able to rescue him from his diseases. It is not in the nature of things. For I will hold you a medical discourse. Of the matters sent down into the belly, not all becomes nourishment; since even in the food itself, not all is nutritive, but part of it in the process of digestion passes into stool, part is turned into nourishment. If then in the process of digestion the operation is perfect, this is the result, and each finds its proper place; the wholesome and useful part betakes itself to its appropriate place, while that which is superfluous and useless, withdraws itself, and passes off. But if it be in too great quantity, then even the nutritive part of it becomes hurtful. And, to speak by way of example, in order that my meaning may be clearer to you: in wheat part is fine flour, part meal, part bran: now if the mill be able to grind (what is put in), it separates all these: but if you put in too much, all becomes mixed up together. Wine again, if it go through its proper process of formation, and under due influence of the seasons, then, whereas at first all is mixed together, anon part settles into lees, part rises into scum, part remains for enjoyment to those that use it, and this is the good part, and will not readily undergo any change. But what they call “nourishment,” is neither wine, nor lees, while all are mixed up together.—The same may be seen in the river, when its waters make a whirling flood. As at such time we see the fishes floating at top, dead, their eyes first blinded by the muddy slime: so is it with us. For when gormandizing, like a flood of rain, has drenched the inward parts, it puts all in a whirl, and makes that the faculties (λογισμοὶ), healthy till then and living in a pure element, drift lifeless on the surface. Since then by all these examples we have shown how great the mischief is, let us cease to count these men happy for that, for which we ought to think them wretched, and to bemoan ourselves for that, for which we ought to count ourselves happy, and let us welcome sufficiency with a contented mind. Or do you not hear even what physicians tell you, that “want is the mother of health?” But what I say is, that want is mother, not of bodily health, but also of that of the soul. These things Paul also, that physician indeed, cries aloud; when he says, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content.” (1 Tim. 6. 8.) Let us therefore do as he bids us, that so, being in sound health, we may perform the work that we ought to do, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 17 Acts 7. 35 “This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel which appeared to him in the bush.”

This is very suitable to the matter in hand. “This Moses,” he says. “This,” the man who had been in danger of losing his life; the man who had been set at naught by them; “this” the man whom they had declined: “this” same, God having raised up, sent unto them. “Whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler?” just as they themselves (the hearers) said, “We have no king, but Cæsar.” (John 14. 15.) He here shows also, that what was then done, was done by Christ. “The same did God send by the hand of the Angel,” who said unto him, “I am the God of Abraham.” “This” same Moses, he says,—and observe how he points to his renown—“this” same Moses, he says, “brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me” (v. 36, 37): set at naught like me. Him, likewise, Herod wished to kill, and in Egypt He found preservation just as it was with the former, even when He was a babe, He was aimed at for destruction. “This is he, that was in the Church in the wilderness with the Angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” (v. 38.) Again no mention of temple, none of sacrifice. “With the Angel,” it says, “he received the lively oracles to give unto the fathers.” It shows, that he not only wrought miracles, but also gave a law, as Christ did. Just as Christ first works miracles, and then legislates: so did Moses. But they did not hear him, keeping their disobedience, even after the miracles: “To whom,” he says, “our fathers would not obey:” (v. 39) after the wonders done in those forty years. And not only so, but just the contrary: “but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt. Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us; for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the Prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” (v. 40, 43.) The expression, “gave them up,” means, He suffered. “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion he had seen.” (v. 44.) Even when there was a Tabernacle, yet there were no sacrifices. “Did ye offer unto Me slain beasts and sacrifices?” (Amos 5. 25.) There was “the tabernacle of witness,” and yet it profited them nothing, but they were consumed. But neither before, nor afterwards, did the miracles profit them aught. “Which also, our fathers that came after brought in.” Seest thou, how the holy place is there wherever God may be? For to this end also he says, “in the wilderness,” to compare place with place. Then the benefit (conferred upon them): And our fathers that came after brought it in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; who found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. (v. 45, 46.) David “desired to find favor:” and he builded not, he, the wonderful, the great; but the castaway, Solomon. “But Solomon,” it says, “built Him an house. Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in (places) made with hands.” (v. 47–50.) This was shown indeed already by what had been before said: but it is shown also by the voice of a prophet; “What house will ye build for Me? saith the Lord God. As saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build for me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Is. lxvi. 2.)

Marvel not, he says, if they on whom Christ confers His benefits refuse His kingdom, seeing in the case of Moses it was just the same. (Recapitulation). “He brought them out;” and rescued them not in a general way, but also while they were in the wilderness. “Wonders and signs,” etc. (v. 35–50.) Do you mark that they themselves (Stephen’s hearers) are concerned in those old miracles also? “This is that Moses:” (v. 37) he, that conversed with God; he, that had been saved out of situations so strange and wonderful; he, that wrought so great works, and had so great power. “Which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet,” etc. He shows, that the prophecy must by all means be fulfilled, and that Moses is not opposed to Him. “This is he that was in the Church in the wilderness, and, that said unto the children of Israel.” (v. 38.) Do you mark that thence comes the root, and that “salvation is from the Jews?” (John 4. 22.) “With the Angel,” it says, “which spake unto him.” (Rom. 116.) Lo, again he affirms that it was He (Christ) that gave the Law, seeing Moses was with “Him” in the Church in the wilderness. And here he puts them in mind of a great marvel, of the things done in the Mount: “Who received living oracles to give unto us.” On all occasions Moses is wonderful, and (so) when need was to legislate. What means the expression, “Living oracles” (λόγια)? Those, whereof the end was shown by words (διὰ λόγων): in other words, he means the prophecies. Then follows the charge, in the first instance, against the patriarchs after, the “signs and wonders,” after the receiving of the “lively oracles: To whom,” he says, “our fathers would not obey.” (v. 39.) But concerning those, Ezekiel says that they are not “living;” as when he says, “And I gave you statutes that are not good.” (Ezek. 20. 25.) It is with reference to those that he says, “Living. But thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt”—the place where they groaned, where they cried, whence they called upon God. “And said unto Aaron, Make us gods which shall go before us.” (v. 40.) O the folly! “Make,” say they; “that they may go before us.” Whither? “Into Egypt.” See how hard they were to tear away from the customs of Egypt! What sayest thou? What, not wait for him that brought thee out, but flee the benefit, and deny the Benefactor? And mark how insulting they are: “For as for this Moses,” they say:—“which brought us out of the land of Egypt” nowhere the name of God: instead of that, they ascribed all to Moses. Where they ought to give thanks (to God), they bring Moses forward: where it was, to do as the Law bade them, they no longer make account of Moses. “We know not what is become of him.” And yet he told them that he was going up to receive the Law: and they had not patience to wait forty days. “Make us gods”—they did not say, “a God.”—And yet one may well wonder at this, that they do not even know.—“And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifices unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands” (v. 4: for which they ought to have hid their faces. What wonder that ye know not Christ, seeing ye knew not Moses, and God Who was manifested by such wonders? But they not only knew Him not: they also insulted in another way, by their idol making. “Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven” (v. 42.) Hence these same “customs” date their origin, hence the sacrifices: they were themselves the first that made sacrifices to their idols! For that is why it is marked, “They made a calf in Horeb, and offered sacrifices to the idol:” seeing that, before this the name of sacrifice is nowhere mentioned, but only lively ordinances, and “lively oracles. And rejoiced”—that is the reason for the feasts. (Exod. xxxii. 5, 6.) “As it is written in the Book of the Prophets”—and observe, he does not cite the text without a purpose, but shows by it that there is no need of sacrifices; saying: “Did ye offer slain beasts and sacrifice to Me?”—He lays an emphasis on this word (to Me?). “Ye cannot say that it was from sacrificing to Me, that ye proceeded to sacrifice to them:—“by the space of forty years:” and this too, “in the wilderness,” where He had most signally shown Himself their Protector. “Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan: images which ye made to worship them.” The cause of sacrifices! “And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” (v. 43.) Even the captivity, an impeachment of their wickedness! “But a Tabernacle,” say you, “there was (the Tabernacle) ‘of Witness.’” (v. 44.) (Yes,) this is why it was: that they should have God for Witness: this was all. “According to the fashion,” it says, “that was shown thee on the mount:” so that on the mount was the Original. And this Tabernacle, moreover, “in the wilderness,” was carried about, and not locally fixed. And he calls it, “Tabernacle of witness:” i.e. (for witness) of the miracles, of the statutes. This is the reason why both it and those (the fathers) had no Temple. “As He had appointed, that spake unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.” Again, it was none other than He (Christ) that gave the fashion itself. “Until the days of David” (v. 45): and there was no temple! And yet the Gentiles also had been driven out: for that is why he mentions this: “Whom God drave out,” he says, “before the face of our fathers. Whom He drave out,” he says: and even then, no Temple! And so many wonders, and no mention of a Temple! So that, although first there is a Tabernacle, yet nowhere a Temple. “Until the days of David,” he says: even David, and no Temple! “And he sought to find favor before God” (v. 46): and built not:—so far was the Temple from being a great matter! “But Solomon built Him an house.” (v. 47.) They thought Solomon was great: but that he was not better than his father, nay not even equal to him, is manifest. “Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.” (v. 48, 49.) Nay, not even these are worthy of God, forasmuch as they are made, seeing they are creatures, the works of His hand. See how he leads them on by little and little (showing) that not even these are to be mentioned. And again the prophecy says openly, “What house will ye build Me?” etc. (v. 50.)

What is the reason that at this point he speaks in the tone of invective (καταφορικὥς)? Great was his boldness of speech, when at the point to die: for in fact I think he knew that this was the case. “Ye stiffnecked,” he says, “and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” This also is from the prophets: nothing is of himself. “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” (v. 51.) When it was not His will that sacrifices should be, ye sacrifice: when it is His will, then again ye do not sacrifice: when He would not give you commandments, ye drew them to you: when ye got them, ye neglected them. Again, when the Temple stood, ye worshipped idols: when it is His will to be worshipped without a Temple, ye do the opposite. Observe, he says not, “Ye resist God,” but, “the Spirit:” so far was he from knowing any difference between Them. And, what is greater: “As your fathers did,” he says, “so do ye.” Thus also did Christ (reproach them), forasmuch as they were always boasting much of their fathers. “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One:” he still says, “the Just One,” wishing to check them: “of Whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers”—two charges he lays against them—“who have received the Law by the disposition of Angels, and have not kept it.” (v. 52.) How, “By the disposition of Angels?” Some say (The Law), disposed by Angels; or, put into his hand by the Angel Who appeared to him in the bush; for was He man? No wonder that He who wrought those works, should also have wrought these. “Ye slew them who preached of Him,” much more Himself. He shows them disobedient both to God, and to Angels, and the Prophets, and the Spirit, and to all: as also Scripture saith elsewhere: “Lord, they have slain Thy Prophets, and thrown down Thine altars.” (1 Kings 14. 10.) They, then, stand up for the Law, and say, “He blasphemeth against Moses:” he shows, therefore, that it is they who blaspheme, and that (their blasphemy is not only against Moses, but) against God; shows that “they” from the very beginning have been doing this: that “they” have themselves destroyed their “customs,” that there is no need of these: that while accusing him, and saying that he opposed Moses, they themselves were opposing the Spirit: and not merely opposing, but with murder added to it: and that they had their enmity all along from the very beginning. Seest thou, that he shows them to be acting in opposition both to Moses and to all others, and not keeping the Law? And yet Moses had said, “A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you: and the rest also told of this (Christ) that He would come: and the prophet again said, “What house will ye build Me?” and again, “Did ye offer to Me slain beasts and sacrifices” those “forty years?” (Deut. 18. 18.)

Such is the boldness of speech of a man bearing the Cross. Let us then also imitate this: though it be not a time of war, yet it is always the time for boldness of speech. For, “I spake,” says one, “in Thy testimonies before kings, and was not ashamed.” (Ps. cxix. 46.) If we chance to be among heathens, let us thus stop their mouths. without wrath, without harshness. (Comp. Hom. in 1 Cor. 4. §6; xxxiii. §4, 5; Col. 1§2.) For if we do it with wrath, it no longer seems to be the boldness (of one who is confident of his cause,) but passion: but if with gentleness, this is boldness indeed. For in one and the same thing success and failure cannot possibly go together. The boldness is a success: the anger is a failure. Therefore, if we are to have boldness, we must be clean from wrath that none may impute our words to that. No matter how just your words may be, when you speak with anger, you ruin all: no matter how boldly you speak, how fairly reprove, or what not. See this man, how free from passion as he discourses to them! For he did not abuse them: he did but remind them of the words of the Prophets. For, to show you that it was not anger, at the very moment he was suffering evil at their hands, he prayed, saying, “Lay not to their charge this sin.” So far was he from speaking these words in anger; no, he spake in grief and sorrow for their sakes. As indeed this is why it speaks of his appearance, that “they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel,” on purpose that they might believe. Let us then be clean from wrath. The Holy Spirit dwelleth not where wrath is: cursed is the wrathful. It cannot be that aught wholesome should approach, where wrath goes forth. For as in a storm at sea, great is the tumult, loud the clamor, and then would be no time for lessons of wisdom (φιλοσοφεἵν): so neither in wrath. If the soul is to be in a condition either to say, or to be disciplined to, aught of philosophy, it must first be in the haven. Seest thou not how, when we wish to converse on matters of serious import, we look out for places free from noise, where all is stillness, all calm, that we may not be put out and discomposed? But if noise from without discomposes, much more disturbance from within. Whether one pray, to no purpose does he pray “with wrath and disputings:” (1 Tim. 2. 8) whether he speak, he will only make himself ridiculous: whether he hold his peace, so again it will be even then: whether he eat, he is hurt even then: whether he drink, or whether he drink not; whether he sit, or stand, or walk; whether he sleep: for even in their dreams such fancies haunt them. For what is there in such men that is not disagreeable? Eyes unsightly, mouth distorted, limbs agitated and swollen, tongue foul and sparing no man, mind distraught, gestures uncomely: much to disgust. Mark the eyes of demoniacs, and those of drunkards and madmen; in what do they differ from each other? Is not the whole madness? For what though it be but for the moment? The madman too is possessed for the moment: but what is worse than this? And they are not ashamed at that excuse; “I knew not (saith one) what I said.” And how came it that thou didst not know this, thou the rational man, thou that hast the gift of reason, on purpose that thou mayest not act the part of the creatures without reason, just like a wild horse, hurried away by rage and passion? In truth, the very excuse is criminal. For thou oughtest to have known what thou saidst. “It was the passion,” say you, “that spoke the words, not I.” How should it be that? For passion has no power, except it get it from you. You might as well say, “It was my hand that inflicted the wounds, not I.” What occasion, think you, most needs wrath? would you not say, war and battle? But even then, if anything is done with wrath, the whole is spoiled and undone. For of all men, those who fight had best not be enraged: of all men, those had best not be enraged, who want to hurt (τοὺς ὑβρίζοντας). And how is it possible to fight then? you will ask. With reason, with self-command (ἐπιεικεί& 139·): since fighting is, to stand in opposition. Seest thou not that even these (common) wars are regulated by definite law, and order, and times? For wrath is nothing but an irrational impulse: and an irrational creature cannot possibly perform aught rational. For instance, the man here spoke such words, and did it without passion. And Elias said,” How long will ye halt on both your knees?” (1 Kings 18. 2 and spake it not in passion. And Phinees slew, and did it without passion. For passion suffers not a man to see, but, just as in a night-battle, it leads him, with eyes blindfolded and ears stopped up, where it will. Then let us rid ourselves of this demon, at its first beginning let us quell it, let us put the sign of the Cross on our breast, as it were a curb. Wrath is a shameless dog: but let it learn to hear the law. If there be in a sheep-fold a dog so savage as not to obey the command of the shepherd, nor to know his voice, all is lost and ruined. He is kept along with the sheep: but if he makes a meal on the sheep, he is useless, and is put to death. If he has learnt to obey thee, feed thy dog: he is useful when it is against the wolves, against robbers, and against the captain of the robbers that he barks, not against the sheep, not against friends. If he does not obey he ruins all: if he learns not to mind thee, he destroys all. The mildness in thee let not wrath consume, but let it guard it, and feed it up. And it will guard it, that it may feed in much security, if it destroy wicked and evil thoughts, if it chase away the devil from every side. So is gentleness preserved, when evil works are nowhere admitted: so we become worthy of respect, when we learn not to be shameless. For nothing renders a man so shameless, as an evil conscience. Why are harlots without shame? Why are virgins shamefaced? Is it not from their sin that the former, from their chastity that the latter, are such? For nothing makes a person so shameless, as sin. “And yet on the contrary,” say you, “it puts to shame.” Yes; him who condemns himself: but him that is past blushing, it renders even more reckless: for desperation makes daring. For “the wicked,” saith the Scripture, “when he is come into the depths of evils, despiseth.” (Prov. 18. 3.) But he that is shameless, will also be reckless, and he that is reckless, will be daring.

See in what way gentleness is destroyed, when evil thoughts gnaw at it. This is why there is such a dog, barking mightily: we have also sling and stone (ye know what I mean): we have also spear and enclosure and cattle-fold: let us guard our thoughts unhurt. If the dog be gentle (σαίνῃ) with the sheep, but savage against those without, and keep vigilant watch, this is the excellence of a dog: and, be he ever so famished, not to devour the sheep; be he ever so full, not to spare the wolves. Such too is anger meant to be: however provoked, not to forsake gentleness; however at quiet, to be on the alert against evil thoughts: to acknowledge the friend, and not for any beating forsake him, and for all his caressing, to fly at the intruder. The devil uses caressing full oft: let the dog know at sight that he is an intruder. So also let us caress (σαίνωμεν) Virtue, though she put us to pain, and show our aversion to Vice, though she give us pleasure. Let us not be worse than the dogs, which, even when whipped and throttled, do not desert their master: but if the stranger also feed them, even so they do hurt. There are times when anger is useful; but this is when it barks against strangers. What means it, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause?” (Matt. 5. 22.) It means, Stand not up in thine own quarrel, neither avenge thyself: if thou see another suffering deadly wrong, stretch out thy hand to help him. This is no longer passion, when thou art clear of all feeling for thyself alone. David had gotten Saul into his power, and was not moved by passion, did not thrust the spear into him, the enemy he had in his power; but took his revenge upon the Devil. (1 Sam. 26. 7.) Moses, when he saw a stranger doing an injury, even slew him (Exod. 2. 2: but when one of his own people, he did not so: them that were brethren he would have reconciled; the others not so. That “most meek” (Num. 12. Moses, as Scripture witnesseth of him, see how he was roused! But not so, we: on the contrary, where we ought to show meekness, no wild beast so fierce as we: but where we ought to be roused, none so dull and sluggish. (Hom. vi. de laud. Pauli, ad fin.) On no occasion do we use our faculties to the purpose they were meant for: and therefore it is that our life is spent to no purpose. For even in the case of implements; if one use them, one instead of other, all is spoilt: if one take his sword, and then, where he should use it and cut with it, uses only his hand, he does no good: again, where he should use his hand, by taking the sword in hand he spoils all. In like manner also the physician, if where he ought to cut, he cuts not, and where he ought not, he does cut, mars all. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us use the thing (τᾥ πράγματι) at its proper time. The proper time for anger is never, where we move in our own quarrel: but if it is our duty to correct others, then is the time to use it, that we may by force deliver others. (Hom. in Matt. 16. §7.) So shall we both be like unto God, always keeping a spirit free from wrath, and shall attain unto the good things that are to come, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, and honor, now and evermore, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 18 Acts 7. 54 “When they heard these things, they were cut to “the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”

{{small-caps|See, once more, the wrong-doers in trouble. Just as the Jews are perplexed, saying, “What are we to do with these men?” so these also are “cut to the heart.” (ch. 4. 16.) And yet it was he that had good right to be incensed, who, having done no wrong, was treated like a criminal, and was spitefully calumniated. But the calumniators had the worst of it in the end. So true is that saying, which I am ever repeating, “Ill to do, is ill to fare.” And yet he (in his charges against them) resorted to no calumny, but proved (what he said). So sure are we, when we are shamefully borne down in a matter wherein we have a clear conscience, to be none the worse for it.—“If they desired,” say you, “to kill him, how was it that they did not take occasion, out of what he said, that they might kill him?” They would fain have a fair-seeming plea to put upon their outrage. “Well then, was not the insulting them a fair plea?” It was not his doing, if they were insulted: it was the Prophet’s accusation of them. And besides, they did not wish it to look as if they killed him because of what he had said against them—just as they acted in the case of Christ; no, but for impiety: now this word of his was the expression of piety. Wherefore, as they attempted, besides killing him, to hurt his reputation also, “they were cut to the heart.” For they were afraid lest he should on the contrary become an object of even greater reverence. Therefore, just what they did in Christ’s case, the same they do here also. For as He said, “Ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of God” (Matt. 26. 6, and they, calling it blasphemy, “ran upon Him;” just so was it here. There, they “rent their garments;” here, they “stopped their ears. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” (v. 55–58.) And yet, if he lied, they ought to have thought him beside himself, and to have let him go.—But he wished to bring them over, “and said, Behold,” etc., for, since he had spoken of Christ’s death, and had said nothing of His resurrection, he would fain add this doctrine also. “Standing at the right hand of God.” And in this manner He appeared to him: that, were it but so, the Jews might receive Him: for since the (idea of His) sitting (at the right hand of God) was offensive to them, for the present he brings forward only what relates to His Resurrection. This is the reason also why his face was glorified. For God, being merciful, desired to make their machinations the means of recalling them unto Himself. And see, how many signs are wrought! “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” Here again, “without the city,” and even in death, Confession and Preaching. (Heb. 13. 21.) “And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (v. 59.) This is meant to show them that he is not perishing, and to teach them. “And he knelt down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (v. 60.) To clear himself, and show that neither were his former words prompted by passion, he says, “Lord” “lay not this sin to their charge”: wishing also even in this way to win them over. For to show that he forgave their wrath and rage in murdering him, and that his own soul was free from all passion, was the way to make his saying to be favorably received.

“And Saul was consenting unto his death.” Hereupon arises a persecution, and it becomes a great one. “And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem. And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles.” (ch. 8. 1.) Mark how once more God permits temptations to arise; mark, and well observe, how the events are ordered by Divine Providence. They were admired because of the signs: being scourged, they were none the worse for it: (some) were ordained in the matter of the widows: the word increased: once more, God permits a great hindrance to arise. And a persecution of no ordinary kind “and they were all scattered,” etc.; for they feared their enemies, now become more daring: and at the same time it is shown that they were but men, these that were afraid, that fled. For, that thou mayest not say after these things that by grace alone they effected (what they did), they were also persecuted, and themselves became more timorous, while their adversaries were more daring. “And were all scattered abroad,” it says, “except the Apostles.” But this was divinely ordered, so that they should no longer all sit there in Jerusalem. “And devout men,” it says, “carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” (v. 2.) If they were “devout,” why did they “make great lamentation over him?” They were not yet perfect. The man was gracious and amiable: this also shows that they were men—not their fear alone, but their grief and lamentation. Who would not have wept to see that mild, that lamb-like person stoned, and lying dead? Fit eulogy to be spoken over his grave has the Evangelist recorded, in this one speech, “Lay not this sin to their charge.”—“And made,” he says, “great lamentation over him.”—But let us look over again what has been said.

He mentions the cause of his (angelic) appearance (Recapitulation, 7. 54; 8. 2.); “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” And when he said, “I see the heavens opened, they stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.” (v. 56, 57.) And yet in what respect are these things deserving of accusation? “Upon him,” the man who has wrought such miracles, the man who has prevailed over all in speech, the man who can hold such discourse! As if they had got the very thing they wanted, they straightway give full scope to their rage. “And the witnesses,” he says, “laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.” (v. 58.) Observe how particularly he relates what concerns Paul, to show thee that the Power which wrought in him was of God. But after all these things, not only did he not believe, but also aimed at Him with a thousand hands: for this is why it says, “And Saul was consenting unto his death.”—And this blessed man does not simply pray, but does it with earnestness: “having kneeled down.” Mark his divine death! So long only the Lord permitted the soul to remain in him. “And having said this, he fell asleep.” (v. 60.)—“And they were all scattered abroad throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. (ch. 8. 1.) And now without scruple they had intercourse with Samaria, whereas it had been said to them, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” “and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” (Matt. 10. 5.) “Except the Apostles,” it says: they, in this way also, wishing to win the Jews,—but not to leave the city,—and to be the means of inspiring others with boldness.

“As for Saul, he made havoc of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” (v. 3.) Great was his frenzy: that he was alone, that he even entered into houses: for indeed he was ready to give his life for the Law. “Haling,” it says, “men and women:” mark both the confidence, and the violence, and the frenzy. All that fell into his hands, he put to all manner of ill-treatment: for in consequence of the recent murder, he was become more daring. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria.” (v. 4–9.) Observe another trial, this affair of Simon. “Giving out,” it says, “that he was himself some great one. To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the Apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.” (v. 10–15.) And (yet) great signs had been done: how then had they not received the Spirit? They had received the Spirit, namely, of remission of sins: but the Spirit of miracles they had not received. “For as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (v. 16, 17.) For, to show that this was the case, and that it was the Spirit of miracles they had not received, observe how, having seen the result, Simon came and asked for this. “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the Apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” (v. 18, 19.)

“The persecution,” say you, “gained strength.” True, but at that very time to men possessed before (by a hostile power) it brought deliverance. For it planted the miracles like a stronghold, in the heart of the enemy’s country.—Not even the death of Stephen quenched their rage, nay, increased it rather: it scattered wide the teachers, so that the greater became the discipleship.—“And there was joy.” And yet there had been “great lamentation:” true; but mark again the good—“Of a long time” was the malady, but this man brought them deliverance.—And how came he to baptize Simon also? Just as Christ chose Judas.—And “beholding the signs” which he did, forasmuch as the others did not receive the (power of working) signs, he durst not ask for it.—How was it then that they did not strike him dead, as they did Ananias and Sapphira? Because even in the old times, he that gathered sticks (on the sabbath-day) was put to death as a warning to others (Num. 15. 3 and in no other instance did any suffer the same fate. So too on the present occasion, “Peter said to him, Thy money perish, because thou hast imagined that the gift of God is to be purchased with money.”—(v. 20.) Why had not these received the Holy Ghost, when baptized? Either because Philip kept this honor for the Apostles; or, because he had not this gift (to impart); or, he was one of the Seven: which is rather to be said. Whence, I take it, this Philip was one of the Apostles. But observe; those went not forth: it was Providentially ordered that these should go forth and those be lacking, because of the Holy Ghost: for they had received power to work miracles, but not also to impart the Spirit to others: this was the prerogative of the Apostles. And observe (how they sent) the chief ones: not any others, but Peter and John. “And when Simon,” it says, “saw that through laying on of the Apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given.” He would not have said, “And having seen,” unless there had been some sensible manifestation. “Then laid they their hands on them,” etc. Just as Paul also did, when they spake with tongues. (ch. 14. 6.) Observe the execrable conduct of Simon. “He offered money,” with what object? And yet he did not see Peter doing this for money. And it was not of ignorance that he acted thus; it was because he would tempt them, because he wished to get matter of accusation against them. And therefore also Peter says, “Thou hast no part nor lot in this matter, for thine heart is not right before God “because thou hast thought,” etc. (v. 21.) Once more he brings to light what was in the thoughts, because Simon thought to escape detection. “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive the bond of inquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.” (v. 22–24.) Even this he did only formally, as words of course, when he ought to have wept and mourned as a penitent. “If perchance it may be forgiven thee.” Not as though it would not have been pardoned, had he wept, but this is the manner of the Prophet also, to denounce absolutely, (ἀπαγορεύειν) and not to say, “Howbeit, if thou do this, thy sin shall be forgiven,” but that in any wise the punishment shall take effect.

(a) “Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went everywhere, preaching the word.” But I would have thee admire how even in a season of calamity they neglected not the preaching. “Hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” (Recapitulation, 5. 4–6.) Just as in the case of Moses by contrast (with the magicians) the miracles were evident miracles, so here also. There was magic, and so these signs were manifest. (b) “For unclean spirits came out of many that were possessed with them” (v. 7); for this was a manifest miracle:—not as the magicians did: for the other (Simon), it is likely, bound (men with spells);—“and many,” it says, “that were palsied and lame were healed.” There was no deceit here: for it needed but that they should walk and work. “And to him they all gave heed, saying, This (man) is the Power of God.” (v. 10.) And that was fulfilled which was spoken by Christ, “There shall come false Christs and false Prophets in My name.”—(Matt. 24. 24.) “And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” (v. 11.) (a) And yet there ought to have been not one demoniac there, seeing that of a long time he had been bewitching them with sorceries: but if there were many demoniacs, many palsied, these pretences were not truth. But Philip here by his word also won them over, discoursing concerning the kingdom of Christ. (v. 12.) “And Simon,” it says, “being baptized, continued with Philip (v. not for faith’s sake, but in order that he might become such (as he). (b) But why did they not correct him instantly? They were content with his condemning himself. For this too belonged to their work of teaching (τἥς διδασκαλίας). But when he had not power to resist, he plays the hypocrite, just as did the magicians, who said, “This is the finger of God.” And indeed that he might not be driven away again, therefore he “continued with Philip,” and did not part from him. “And when the Apostles which were at Jerusalem,” etc. (v. 13, 14.) See how many things are brought about by God’s Providence through the death of Stephen! (a) “But they,” it says, “having come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet He was fallen upon none of them. Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (v. 15–17.) Seest thou that it was not to be done in any ordinary manner, but it needed great power to give the Holy Ghost? For it is not all one, to obtain remission of sins, and to receive such a power. (b) By degrees it is, that those receive the gift. It was a twofold sign: both the giving to those, and the not giving to this man. Whereas then this man ought, on the contrary, to have asked to receive the Holy Ghost, he, because he cared not for this, asks power to give It to others. And yet those received not this power to give: but this man wished to be more illustrious than Philip, he being among the disciples! (a) “He offered them money.” (v. 18, 19.) What? had he seen the others doing this? had he seen Philip? Did he imagine they did not know with what mind he came to them? (b) “Thy money with thee to perdition” (v. 20): since thou hast not used it as it ought to be used. These are not words of imprecation, but of chastisement. “To thee,” he says, be it (to thee): being such. As if one should say, Let it perish along with thy purpose. Hast thou so mean conceptions of the gift of God, that thou hast imagined it to be altogether a thing of man? It is not this. (a) Wherefore also Peter well calls the affair a gift: “Thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” Dost thou observe how on all occasions they are clean from money? “For thine heart is not right in the sight of God.” (v. 21.) Dost thou see how he does all of malice? To be simple, however, was the thing needed. (b) For had it been done with simplicity, he would have even welcomed his willing mind. Seest thou that to have mean conceptions of great things is to sin doubly? Accordingly, two things he bids him: “Repent and pray, if haply the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (v. 22.) Seest thou it was a wicked thought he had entertained? Therefore he says, “If haply it may be forgiven thee:” because he knew him to be incorrigible. (a) “For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” (v. 23.) Words of exceeding wrath! But otherwise he did not punish him: that faith may not thereafter be of compulsion; that the matter may not seem to be carried ruthlessly; that he may introduce the subject of repentance: or also, because it suffices for correction to have convicted him, to have told him what was in his heart, to have brought him to confess himself overcome (ὅτι ἐ& 128·λω). For that he says, “Pray ye for me,” is a confession that he has done wrong. Observe him, what a miscreant he is; when he was convicted, then he believed: when again he was convicted, then he became humble. “Seeing his miracles,” “he was amazed,” and came over. He thought to be able to escape detection: he thought the thing was an art: but when he had not power to defeat (ἑλεἵν) the Apostles, * * *. (b) Again, he fears the multitude, and is afraid to deny it; and yet he might have said, “I did not know: I did it in simplicity: but he was struck with dismay first by the former circumstance, that he was overcome (ὅτι ἐ& 128·λω), by the miracles and secondly by this, that his thoughts are made manifest. Therefore he now takes himself a long wayoff, to Rome, thinking the Apostle would not soon come there.

“And they, when they had testified, and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem. (v. 25.) “Testified,” probably because of him (Simon), that they may not be deceived; that thenceforth they may be safe. “Having preached,” it says, “the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem.” Why do they go thither again where was the tyranny of the bad, where were those most bent upon killing them? Just as generals do in wars, they occupy that part of the scene of war which is most distressed. “And preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.” Observe them again, how they do not (προηγουμένως) of set purpose come to Samaria, but driven by stress of persecution, just as it was in the case of Christ; and how when the Apostles go thither, it is to men now believers, no longer Samaritans. “But when the Apostles,” it says, “which were at Jerusalem heard this, they sent unto them Peter and John. Sent” them, again, to rid them of magic. And besides, (the Lord) had given them a pattern at the time when the Samaritans believed. “And in many villages,” it says, “of the Samaritans, they preached the Gospel.” (John 4. 39.) Observe how actively employed even their journeys were, how they do nothing without a purpose.

Such travels should we also make. And why do I speak of travels? Many possess villages and lands, and give themselves no concern, nor make any account of this. That baths may be provided, their revenues increased, courts and buildings erected, for this they take plenty of pains: but for the husbandry of souls, not so. When you see thorns—answer me—you cut them up, you burn, you utterly destroy them, to rid your land of the hurt thence arising. And seest thou the laborers themselves overrun with thorns, and dost not cut them up, and art thou not afraid of the Owner Who shall call thee to account? For ought not each individual believer to build a Church, to get a Teacher, to cooperate (συναί· ρεσθαι) (with him), to make this above all his object, that all may be Christians? Say, how is it likely thy laborer should be a Christian, when he sees thee so regardless of his salvation? Thou canst not work miracles, and so convert (πεῖσαι) him. By the means which are in thy power, convert him; by kindness, by good offices, by gentleness, by courting (κολακεί& 139·) him, by all other means. Market-places, indeed, and baths, the most do provide; but no Churches: nay, sooner everything than this! Wherefore I beseech and implore, as a favor I entreat, yea as a law I lay it down, that there be no estate to be seen destitute of a Church. Tell not me, There is one hard by; there is one in the neighboring properties; the expense is great, the income not great. If thou have anything to expend upon the poor, expend it there: better there than here. Maintain a Teacher, maintain a Deacon, and a sacerdotal body complete. As by a bride, whether a wife whom thou takest, or a daughter whom thou givest in marriage, so act by the Church: give her a dowry. So shall thy estate be filled with blessing. For what shall not be there of all that is good? Is it a small thing, tell me, that thy wine-press should be blessed; a small thing, tell me, that of thy fruits God is the first to taste, and that the first fruits are there (with Him)? And then even for the peace of the laboring people this is profitable. Then as one whom they must respect, there will be the presbyter among them and this will contribute to the security of the estate. There will be constant prayers there through thee (infra, note p. 119) hymns and Communions through thee; the Oblation on each Lord’s Day. For only consider what a praise it will be, that, whereas others have built splendid tombs, to have it said hereafter: “Such a one built this,” thou hast reared Churches! Bethink thee that even until the coming of Christ thou shalt have thy reward, who hast reared up the altars of God.

Suppose an Emperor had ordered thee to build an house that he might lodge there, wouldest thou not have done everything to please him? And here now it is palace of Christ, the Church, the Church which thou buildest. Look not at the cost, but calculate the profit. Thy people yonder cultivate thy field: cultivate thou their souls: they bring to thee thy fruits, raise thou them to heaven. He that makes the beginning is the cause of all the rest: and thou wilt be the cause that the people are brought under Christian teaching (κατηχουμένων) both there, and in the neighboring estates. Your baths do but make the peasants less hardy, your taverns give them a taste for luxury, and yet you provide these for credit’s sake. Your markets and fairs, (πανηγύρεις) on the other hand, promote covetousness. But think now what a thing it would be to see a presbyter, the moving picture of Abraham, gray-headed, girded up, digging and working with his own hands? What more pleasant than such a field! Their virtue thrives. No intemperance there, nay, it is driven away: no drunkenness and wantonness, nay, it is cast out: no vanity, nay, it is extinguished. All benevolent tempers shine out the brighter through the simplicity of manners. How pleasant to go forth and enter into the House of God, and to know that one built it himself: to fling himself on his back in his litter, and after the bodily benefit of his pleasant airing, be present both at the evening and the morning hymns, have the priest as a guest at his table, in associating with him enjoy his benediction, see others also coming thither! This is a wall for his field, this its security. This is the field of which it is said, “The smell of a full field which the Lord hath blessed.” (Gen. xxvii. 27.) If, even without this, the country is pleasant, because it is so quiet, so free from distraction of business, what will it not be when this is added to it? The country with a Church is like the Paradise of God. No clamor there, no turmoil, no enemies at variance, no heresies: there you shall see all friends, holding the same doctrines in common. The very quiet shall lead thee to higher views, and receiving thee thus prepared by philosophy, the presbyter shall give thee an excellent cure. For here, whatever we may speak, the noise of the market drives it all out: but there, what thou shalt hear, thou wilt keep fixed in thy mind. Thou wilt be quite another man in the country through him: and moreover to the people there he will be director, he will watch over them both by his presence and by his influence in forming their manners. And what, I ask, would be the cost? Make for a beginning a small house (ἐν τάξει ναοὕ) to serve as temple. Thy successor will build a porch, his successor will make other additions, and the whole shall be put to thy account. Thou givest little, and receivest the reward for the whole. At any rate, make a beginning: lay a foundation. Exhort one another, vie one with another in this matter. But now, where there is straw and grain and such like to be stored, you make no difficulty of building: but for a place where the fruits of souls may be gathered in, we bestow not a thought; and the people are forced to go miles and miles, and to make long journeys, that they may get to Church! Think, how good it is, when with all quietness the priest presents himself in the Church, that he may draw near unto God, and say prayers for the village, day by day, and for its owner! Say, is it a small matter, that even in the Holy Oblations evermore thy name is included in the prayers, and that for the village day by day prayers are made unto God?—How greatly this profits thee for all else! It chances that certain (great) persons dwell in the neighborhood, and have overseers: now to thee, being poor, one of them will not deign even to pay a visit: but the presbyter, it is likely, he will invite, and make him sit at his table. How much good results from this! The village will in the first place be free from all evil suspicion. None will charge it with murder, with theft: none will suspect anything of the kind.—They have also another comfort, if sickness befall, if death.—Then again the friendships formed there by people as they go side by side (to and from the Church) are not struck up at random and promiscuously: and the meetings there are far more pleasant than those which take place in marts and fairs. The people themselves also will be more respectable, because of their presbyter. How is it you hear that Jerusalem was had in honor in the old times above all other cities? Why was this? Because of the then prevailing religion. Therefore it is that where God is honored, there is nothing evil: as, on the contrary, where He is not honored, there is nothing good. It will be great security both with God and with men. Only, I beseech you, that ye be not remiss: only may you put your hand to this work. For if he who brings out “the precious from the vile,” shall be “as the mouth of God” (Jer. 15. 19); he who benefits and recovers so many souls, both that now are and that shall be even until the coming of Christ, what favor shall not that person reap from God! Raise thou a garrison against the devil: for that is what the Church is. Thence as from headquarters let the hands go forth to work: first let the people hold them up for prayers, and then go their way to work. So shall there be vigor of body; so shall the tillage be abundant; so shall all evil be kept aloof. It is not possible to represent in words the pleasure thence arising, until it be realized. Look not to this, that it brings in no revenue: if thou do it at all in this spirit, then do it not at all; if thou account not the revenue thou gettest thence greater than from the whole estate beside; if thou be not thus affected, then let it alone; if thou do not account this work to stand thee more in stead than any work beside. What can be greater than this revenue, the gathering in of souls into the threshing-floor which is in heaven! Alas, that ye know not how much it is, to gain souls! Hear what Christ says to Peter, “Feed My sheep.” (John 215–17.) If, seeing the emperor’s sheep, or herd of horses, by reason of having no fold or stable, exposed to depredation, thou wert to take them in hand, and build a fold or stables, or also provide a shepherd or herdsman to take charge of them, what would not the emperor do for thee in return? Now, thou gatherest the flock of Christ, and puttest a shepherd over them, and thinkest thou it is no great gain thou art earning? But, if for offending even one, a man shall incur so great a punishment, how can he that saves so many, ever be punished? What sin will he have thenceforth? for, though he have it, does not this blot it out? From the punishment threatened to him that offends, learn the reward of him that saves. Were not the salvation of even one soul a matter of great importance, to offend would not move God to so great anger. Knowing these things, let us apply ourselves forthwith to this spiritual work. And let each invite me, and we will together help to the best of our ability. If there be three joint-owners, let them do it by each bearing his part: if but one, he will induce the others also that are near. Only be earnest to effect this, I beseech you, that in every way being well-pleasing unto God, we may attain unto the eternal blessings, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 19 Acts 8. 26, 27 “And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went.”

It seems to me, this (Philip) was one of the seven; for from Jerusalem he would not have gone southwards, but to the north; but from Samaria it was “towards the south. The same is desert:” so that there is no fear of an attack from the Jews. And he did not ask, Wherefore? but “arose and went. And, behold,” it says, “a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.” (v. 27, 28.) High encomiums for the man, that he, residing in Ethiopia and beset with so much business, and when there was no festival going on, and living in that superstitious city, came “to Jerusalem for to worship.” Great also is his studiousness, that even “sitting in his chariot he read. And,” it says, “the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him reading the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” (v. 29–31.) Observe again his piety; that though he did not understand, he read, and then after reading, examines. “And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (v. 32–35.) Observe how it is Providentially ordered. First he reads and does not understand; then he reads the very text in which was the Passion and the Resurrection and the Gift. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (v. 36.) Mark the eager desire, mark the exact knowledge. “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” (v. 38, 39.) But why did the Spirit of the Lord bear him away? (Hereby) the occurrence was shown to be more wonderful. Even then, the eunuch did not know him. Consequently this was done, that Philip might afterwards be a subject of wonder to him. “For,” it says, “he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea.” (v. 40.) This (Philip, therefore) was one of the seven; for there in fact he is afterwards found at Cæsarea. It was well and expedient therefore that the Spirit caught Philip away; else the eunuch would have desired to go with him, and Philip would have grieved him by declining to comply with his request, the time being not yet come. (a) But at the same time here was an encouraging assurance for them that they shall also prevail over the heathen: for indeed the high character (τὸ ἀξιόπιστον) of the (first) believers was enough to move them. If however the eunuch had stayed there, what fault could have been found? But he knew him not: for this is why it says, “he went on his way rejoicing:” so that had he known him, he would not have been (so) delighted.

“And the Angel of the Lord,” etc. (Recapitulation, 5. 26.) (b) See Angels assisting the preaching, and not themselves preaching, but calling these (to the work). But the wonderful nature of the occurrence is shown also by this: that what of old was rare, and hardly done, here takes place with ease, and see with what frequency! (c) “An eunuch,” it says, “a man of great authority, under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.” (v. 27.) For there women bore rule of old, and this was the law among them. Philip did not yet know for whose sake he had come into the desert: (d) butwhat was there to hinder his learning all (these particulars) accurately, while in the chariot? “Was reading the prophet Esaias.” (v. 28.) For the road was desert, and there was no display in the matter. Observe also at what time: in the most violent heat (of the day). (e) “And the Spirit said unto him.” (v. 29.) Not now the Angel but the Spirit urges him. Why is this? “Then,” the vision took place, in grosser form, through the Angel, for this is for them that are more of the body, but the Spirit is for the more spiritual. And how did He speak to him? Of course, suggested it to him. Why does not the Angel appear to the other, and bring him to Philip? Because it is likely he would not have been persuaded, but rather terrified. Observe the wisdom of Philip: he did not accuse him, not say, “I know these things exactly:” did not pay court to him, and say, “Blessed art thou that readest.” But mark his speech, how far it is from harshness alike and from adulation; the speech rather of a kind and friendly man. “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (v. 30.) For it was needful that he should himself ask, himself have a longing desire. He plainly intimates, that he knows that the other knew nothing: and says, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” at the same time he shows him that great was the treasure that lay therein. It tells well also, that the eunuch looked not to the outward appearance (σχἥμα) (of the man), said not, “Who art thou?” did not chide, not give himself airs, not say that he did know. On the contrary, he confesses his ignorance: wherefore also he learns. He shows his hurt to the physician: sees at a glance, that he both knows the matter, and is willing to teach. Look how free he is from haughtiness; the outward appearance announced nothing splendid. So desirous was he of learning, and gave heed to his words; and that saying, “He that seeketh, findeth,” (Matt. 7. 8.) was fulfilled in him. “And,” it says, “he besought Philip, that he would come up and sit with him.” (v. 31.) Do you mark the eagerness, the longing desire? But should any say he ought to have waited for Philip (to speak), (the answer is), he does not know what is the matter: he could not in the least tell what the other was going to say to him, but supposed merely that he was about to receive some (lesson of) prophecy. And moreover, this was more respectful, that he did not draw him into his chariot, but besought him. “And Philip,” we have read, “ran to him, and heard him reading;” even the fact of his running, showed that he wished to say (something). “And the place,” it says, “of the Scripture which he read was this: As a sheep He was led to the slaughter.” (v. 32.) And this circumstance, also, is a token of his elevated mind, (φιλοσοφίας) that he had in hand this prophet, who is more sublime than all others. Philip does not relate matters to him just as it might happen, but quietly: nay, does not say anything until he is questioned. Both in the former instance he prayed him, and so he does now, saying, “I pray thee of whom speaketh the prophet this?” That he should at all know either that the Prophets speak in different ways about different persons, or that they speak of themselves in another person—the question betokens a very thoughtful mind. Let us be put to shame, both poor and rich, by this eunuch. Then, it says, “they came to a certain water, and he said, Lo, here is water.” (v. 36.) Again, of his own accord he requests, saying, “What doth hinder me to be baptized?” And see again his modesty: he does not say, Baptize me, neither does he hold his peace; but he utters somewhat midway betwixt strong desire and reverent fear, saying, “What doth hinder me?” Do you observe that he has the doctrines (of faith) perfect? For indeed the Prophet had the whole, Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, Judgment to come. And if he shows exceeding earnestness of desire, do not marvel. Be ashamed, all ye as many as are unbaptized. “And,” it says, “he commanded the chariot to stand still.” (v. 38.) He spoke, and gave the order at the same moment, before hearing (Philip’s answer). “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip;” (v. 39) in order that the occurrence might be shown to be of God; that he might not consider it to be merely man. “And he went,” it says, “on his way rejoicing.” (P. 12note 2.) This hints, that he would have been grieved had he known: for the greatness of his joy, having had the Spirit also vouchsafed to him, he did not even see things present—“But Philip was found at Azotus.” (v. 40.) Great was the gain to Philip also:—that which he heard concerning the Prophets, concerning Habakkuk, concerning Ezekiel, and the rest, he saw done in his own person. (Bel. & Dr. 5. 36; Ez. 3. 12.) Thence it appears that he went a long distance, seeing he “was found at Azotus.” (The Spirit) set him there, where he was thenceforth to preach: “And passing through, he preached in all the cities, until he came to Cæsarea.”

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” (ch. 9. 2.) He fitly mentions Paul’s zeal, and shows that in the very midst of his zeal he is drawn. “Yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter,” and not yet sated with the murder of Stephen, he was not yet glutted with the persecution of the Church, and the dispersion. Lo, this was fulfilled which was spoken by Christ, that “they which kill you shall think they offer worship to God.” (John 16. 2.) He then in this wise did it, not as the Jews: God forbid! For that he did it through zeal, is manifest from his going abroad even to strange cities: whereas they would not have cared even for those in Jerusalem; they were for one thing only, to enjoy honor. But why went he to Damascus? It was a great city, a royal city: he was afraid lest that should be preoccupied. And observe his strong desire and ardor (and), how strictly according to the Law he went to work: he goes not to the governor, but “to the priest. That if he found any of this way:” for so the believers were called, probably because of their taking the direct way that leads to heaven. And why did he not receive authority to have them punished there, but brings them to Jerusalem! He did these things here with more authority. And mark on what a peril he casts himself. He was not afraid lest he should take any harm, but (yet) he took others also with him, “that if,” it says, “he found any of this way, whether they were men or women”—Oh, the ruthlessness!—“he might bring them bound.” By this journey of his, he wished to show them all (how he would act): so far were they from being earnest in this matter. Observe him also casting (people) into prison before this. The others therefore did not prevail: but this man did prevail, by reason of his ardent mind. “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (v. 3, 4.) Why not in Jerusalem? why not in Damascus? That there might be no opening for different persons to relate the occurrence in different ways, but that he alone should be the authentic narrator (ἀξιόπιστος), he that went for this purpose. In fact, he says this both in his oration on the stairs, and when pleading before Agrippa. “Fell to the earth”: (ch. xxii, 6: 26. 1 for excess of light is wont to shock, because the eyes have their measure: it is said also that excess of sound makes people deaf and stunned (as in a fit) (ἀποπλἥγας). But him it only blinded, and extinguished his passion by fear, so that he should hear what was spoken. “Saul, Saul,” saith He, “why persecutest thou me?” And He tells him nothing: does not say, Believe, nor anything whatever of the kind: but expostulates with him, all but saying, What wrong, great or small, hast thou suffered from Me, that thou doest these things? “And he said, Who art Thou Lord?” (v. 5) thus in the first place confessing himself His servant. “And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest:” think not thy warring is with men. And they which were with him heard the voice of Paul, but saw no person to whom he answered—for (the Lord) suffered them to be hearers of what was less important. Had they heard the other Voice, they would not have believed; but perceiving Paul answering (some person), they marvelled. “But arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (v. 6.) Observe, how He does not immediately add all, but first softens his mind. In the same way He called the disciples also a second time. “It shall be told thee,” etc.: He gives him good hopes, and (intimates) that he shall recover his sight also. “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus” (v. 7, 8):—the spoils of the devil (τὰ σκεύη αὐτοὕ), “his goods” (Matt. 13. 29), as from some city, yea, some metropolis which has been taken. And the wonder of it is, the enemies and foes themselves brought him in, in the sight of all! “And for three days he neither did eat nor drink, being blinded.” (v. 9.) What could equal this? To compensate the discouragement in the matter of Stephen, here is encouragement, in the bringing in of Paul: though that sadness had its consolation in the fact of Stephen’s making such an end, yet it also received this further consolation: moreover, the bringing in of the villages of the Samaritans afforded very great comfort.—But why did this take place not at the very first, but after these things? That it might be shown that Christ was indeed risen. This furious assailant of Christ, the man who would not believe in His death and resurrection, the persecutor of His disciples, how should this man have become a believer, had not the power of His resurrection been great indeed? Be it so, that the other Apostles favored (His pretensions): what say you to this man? Why then not immediately after His resurrection? That his hostility might be more clearly shown as open war. The man who is so frantic as even to shed blood and cast men into prisons, all at once believes! It was not enough that he had never been in Christ’s company: the believers must be warred upon by him with vehement hostility: he left to none the possibility of going beyond him in fury: none of them all could be so violent. But when he was blinded, then he saw the proofs of His sovereignty and loving kindness: then he answers, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” that none may say that he played the hypocrite, he that was even eager for blood, and went to the priests, and flung himself upon such dangers, in persecuting and bringing to punishment even them that were in foreign parts—under these circumstances he now acknowledges His sovereignty. And why was he shone upon by that light not within the city, but before it? The many would not have believed, since even there (at Jerusalem when the people heard the voice which came from above, they said that “it thundered” (John 12. 29, supra, note 2, p. 12; but this man was authority enough in reporting what was his own affair. And bound he was brought in, though not with bonds upon him: and they drew him, who had expected to draw the others. “And he eat not, neither drank:” he condemned himself for the past, he confessed, prayed, besought God. But should any say, This was the effect of compulsion: (we answer) The same thing happened to Elymas: then how came it that he was not changed? (ch. xiii. de Laud. Pauli Hom. iv. §t. 2. p. 491.) What (evidence) could be more compulsory than the earthquake at the Resurrection, the report of the soldiers, the other miracles, the seeing Himself risen? But these things do not compel (belief) they are calculated to teach (it) (οὐκ ἀναγκαστικὰ ἀλλὰ διδακτικά). Why did not the Jews believe when they were told of these things? That he spoke truth was manifest: for he would not have been changed, had this not happened; so that all were bound to believe. He was not inferior to them that preached the Resurrection, and was more credible, by being all at once converted. He had no intercourse with any of the believers; it was at Damascus that he was converted, or rather before he came to Damascus that this happened to him. I ask the Jew: Say, by what was Paul converted? He saw so many signs, and was not converted: his teacher (Gamaliel, supra, p. 87, note was converted, and he remained unconverted. Who convinced him—and not only convinced, but all at once inspired him with such ardent zeal? Wherefore was it, that he wished even to go into hell itself for Christ’s sake? The truth of the facts is manifest.

But, as I said, for the present let us take shame to ourselves (when we think of) the eunuch, both in his baptism and his reading. Do ye mark how he was in a station of great authority, how he was in possession of wealth, and even on his journey allowed himself no rest? What must he have been at home, in his leisure hours, this man who rested not even on his travels? What must he have been at night? Ye that are in stations of dignity, hear: imitate his freedom from pride, (de Lazaro, Conc. iii. §3, t. p. 748. c) his piety. Though about to return home, he did not say to himself: “I am going back to my country, there let me receive baptism;” those cold words which most men use! No need had he of signs, no need of miracles: from the Prophet merely, he believed. (b) But why is it (so ordered) that he sees (Philip) not before he goes to Jerusalem, but after he has been there? It was not meet that he should see the Apostles under persecution. Because he was yet weak, the Prophet was not easy; (but yet the Prophet) catechized him. For even now, if any of you would apply himself to the study of the Prophets, he would need no miracles. And, if you please, let us take in hand the prophecy itself. “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. (v. 22, 23.) It is likely he had heard that He was crucified, and now he learns, that “His life is taken away from the earth,” and the rest that “He did no sin, nor deceit in His mouth:” that He prevailed to save others also: and who He is, Whose generation is unutterable. It is likely he had seen the riven rocks there (on the spot), and (had heard) how the veil was rent, and how there was darkness, and so forth: and all these things Philip mentioned, merely taking his text from the Prophet. It is a great thing, this reading of the Scriptures! That was fulfilled which was spoken by Moses, “Sitting, lying down, rising up, and walking, remember the Lord thy God.” (Deut. 6. 7.) For the roads, especially when they are lonely, give us opportunity for reflection, there being none to disturb us. Both this man is on the road and Paul on the road: howbeit the latter no man draws, but Christ alone. This was too great a work for the Apostles: and, greater still, in that, the Apostles being at Jerusalem, and no person of authority at Damascus, he nevertheless returned thence converted: yet those at Damascus knew that he did not come from Jerusalem converted, for he brought letters, that he might put the believers in bonds. Like a consummate Physician, when the fever was at its height, Christ brought help to him: for it was needful that he should be quelled in the midst of his frenzy. For then most of all would he be brought down, and condemn himself as one guilty of dreadful audacity. (a) For these things Paul deplores himself, saying, “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all His long suffering.” (1 Tim. 13–16.) Verily one has reason to admire this eunuch. He did not see Christ, he saw no miracle: he beheld Jerusalem standing yet entire (συνεστὥτα): he believed Philip. How came he to behave thus? His soul was earnest (μεμεριμνημένη). Yet the thief (on the cross) had seen miracles: the wise men had seen a star; but this man, nothing of the kind. So great a thing is the careful reading of the Scriptures! What of Paul then! did he not study the law? But he, it seems to me, was specially reserved, for the purpose which I have already mentioned by anticipation, because Christ would fain draw to Himself the Jews by inducements from every quarter. For had they been in their right mind, nothing was so likely to do them good as this; for this, more than miracles and all else, was calculated to attract them: as, on the other hand, nothing is so apt to prove a stumbling block to men of duller minds. See then how, after the Apostle, we have God also doing miracles. They accused the Apostles after these miracles of theirs; they cast them into prison: see thereupon God doing the miracles. For instance, the bringing them out of prison, was His miracle: the bringing Philip, His miracle: the bringing Paul over, was His.—Observe in what way Paul is honored, in what way the eunuch. There, Christ appears, probably because of his hardness, and because Ananias would not (else) have been persuaded. Conversant with these wonders, let us show ourselves worthy. But many in these times, even when they come to church, do not know what is read; whereas the eunuch, even in public (ἐπ᾽ ἀγορἅς) and riding in his chariot, applied himself to the reading of the Scriptures. Not so you: none takes the Bible in hand: nay, everything rather than the Bible.

Say, what are the Scriptures for? For as much as in you lies, it is all undone. What is the Church for? Tie up the Bibles: perhaps the judgment would not be such, not such the punishment: if one were to bury them in dung, that he might not hear them, he would not so insult them as you do now. For say, what is the insult there? That the man has buried them. And what here? That we do not hear them. Say, when is a person most insulted—when he is silent, and one makes no answer, or, when he does speak (and is unheeded)? So that the insult is greater in the present case, when He does speak and thou wilt not hear: greater the contempt. “Speak not to us” (Is. xxx. 10), we read, they said of old to the Prophets: but ye do worse, saying, Speak: we will not do. For there they turned them away that they should not even speak, as feeling that from the voice itself they got some sort of awe and obligation; whereas you, in the excess of your contempt, do not even this. Believe me, if you stopped our mouths by putting your hands over them, the insult would not be so great as it is now. For say, whether shows greater contempt, he that hears, even when hindering by this action, or, he that will not even hear? Say—if we shall look at it as a case of an insult offered—suppose one person to check the party insulting him, and to stop his mouth, as being hurt by the insults, and another person to show no concern, but pretend not even to hear them: whether will show most contempt? Would you not say the latter? For the former shows that he feels himself hit: the latter all but stops the mouth of God. Did ye shudder at what was said? Why, the mouth by which God speaks, is the mouth of God. Just as our mouth is the mouth of our soul, though the soul has no mouth, so the mouth of the Prophets is the mouth of God. Hear, and shudder. There, common (to the whole congregation) stands the deacon crying aloud, and saying, “Let us attend to the reading.” It is the common voice of the whole Church, the voice which he utters, and yet none does attend. After him begins the Reader, “The Prophecy of Esaias,” and still none attends, although Prophecy has nothing of man in it. Then after this, he says, “Thus saith the Lord,” and still none attends. Then after this punishments and vengeances, and still even then none attends. But what is the common excuse? “It is always the same things over again.” This it is most of all, that ruins you. Suppose you knew the things, even so you certainly ought not to turn away: since in the theatres also, is it not always the same things acted over again, and still you take no disgust? How dare you talk about “the same things,” you who know not so much as the names of the Prophets? Are you not ashamed to say, that this is why you do not listen, because it is “the same things over again,” while you do not know the names of those who are read, and this, though always hearing the same things? You have yourself confessed that the same things are said. Were I to say this as a reason for finding fault with you, you would need to have recourse to quite a different excuse, instead of this which is the very thing you find fault with.—Do not you exhort your son? Now if he should say, “Always the same things!” would not you count it an insult? It would be time enough to talk of “the same things,” when we both knew the things, and exhibited them in our practice. Or rather, even then, the reading of them would not be superfluous. What equal to Timothy? tell me that: and yet to him says Paul, “Give attention to reading, to exhortation. (1 Tim. 4. 13.) For it is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom. “I said,” saith the Preacher, “I am become wise: and then it departed from me.”—(Eccles. 7. 24.) Shall I show you that the things are not “the same?” How many persons, do you suppose, have spoken upon the Gospels? And yet all have spoken in a way which was new and fresh. For the more one dwells on them, the more insight does he get, the more does he behold the pure light. Look, what a number of things I am going to speak of:—say, what is narrative? what is prophecy? what is parable? what is type? what is allegory? what is symbol? what are Gospels? Answer me only to this one point, which is plain: why are they called Gospels, “good tidings?” And yet ye have often heard that good news ought to have nothing sad in it: yet this “good news” has abundance of sadness in it. “Their fire,” it saith, “shall never be quenched: their worm shall not die:” (Mark 9. 44.) “Shall appoint his portion,” it saith, “with the hypocrites,” with them that are “cut asunder: then shall He say, I know you not: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 24. 57. 23.) Surely, we do not deceive ourselves, when we imagine that we tell you in your own mother-tongue (῾Ελληνιστί) these good tidings? You look downcast; you are stunned; you are struck all of a heap, unable to hold up your heads. “Good news” should have nothing in it of a duty to be done, but rather should counsel what is good: whereas these “Gospels” have endless duties to be done. And again, to mention other things, as for instance, Except a man hate father and mother, he is not worthy of Me” (Luke 14. 26): and “I am not come to bring peace upon earth, but a sword” (Matt. 10. 34; Luke 12. 5: and “In the world ye shall have tribulation—(John 16. 33.) excellent good tidings these, are they not! For good news is such as this—“You shall have this and that good thing:” as in common life men say one to another, “What shall I have for my good news? Your father is coming, or, your mother:” he does not say, “You must do this or that.”—Again, tell me, how do the Gospels differ from the Prophets? Why are not the Prophecies also called Gospels, good tidings? For they tell the same things: for instance, “The lame shall leap as an hart.” (Is. xxxv. 6.) “The Lord shall give the word to them that preach the Gospel” (Ps. lxviii. and, “A new heaven and a new earth.” (Is. lxv. 17.) Why are not those also called Gospels? But if, while you do not so much as know what “Gospels” mean, you so despise the reading of the Scriptures, what shall I say to you?—Let me speak of something else. Why four Gospels? why not, ten? why not twenty? If “many have taken in hand to set forth a narrative” (Luke , why not one person? Why they that were disciples (i.e. Apostles)? why they that were not disciples? But why any Scriptures at all? And yet, on the contrary, the Old Testament says, “I will give you a New Testament.” (Jer. xxxi. 31.) Where are they that say, “Always the same things?” If ye knew these, that, though a man should live thousands of years, they are not “the same things,” ye would not say this. Believe me, I will not tell you the answers to any of these questions; not in private, not in public: only, if any find them out, I will nod assent. For this is the way we have made you good-for-nothing, by always telling you the things ready to your hands, and not refusing when we ought. Look, you have questions enough: consider them, tell me the reasons. Why Gospels? Why not Prophecies? Why duties, to be done, in the Gospels? If one is at a loss, let another seek the answer, and contribute each to the others from what he has: but now we will hold our peace. For if what has been spoken has done you no good, much less would it, should we add more. We only pour water into a vessel full of holes. And the punishment too is all the greater for you. Therefore, we will hold our peace. Which that we may not have to do, it rests with yourselves. For if we shall see your diligence, perhaps we will again speak, that both ye may be more approved, and we may rejoice over you, in all things giving glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: to Him be glory and dominion now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 20 Acts 9. 10, “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”

What may be the reason that He neither drew any one of high authority and importance, nor caused such to be forthcoming for the purpose of instructing Paul? It was, because it was not meet that he should be induced by men, but only by Christ Himself: as in fact this man taught him nothing, but merely baptized him; for, as soon as baptized (φωτισθείς), he was to draw upon himself the grace of the Spirit, by his zeal and exceeding earnestness. And that Ananias was no very distinguished person, is plain. For, “the Lord,” it says, “spake unto him in a vision, and Ananias answered and said, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem.” (v. 13.) For if he spoke in objection to Him, much more would he have done so, had He sent an Angel. And this is why, in the former instance, neither is Philip told what the matter is; but he sees the Angel, and then the Spirit bids him go near to the chariot. But observe here how the Lord relieves him of his fear: “He is blind,” saith He, “and prayeth, and art thou afraid?” In the same way Moses also is afraid: so that the words betokened that he was afraid, and shrunk from the task, not that he did not believe. He said,” have heard from many concerning this man.” What sayest thou? God speaketh, and thou hesitatest? They did not yet well know the power of Christ. “And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name.” (v. 14.) How was that known? It is likely that they, being in fear, made minute enquiries. He does not say this, as thinking that Christ does not know the fact, but, “such being the case, how,” says he, “can these things be?” As in fact those (in the Gospel) say, “Who can be saved?”—(Mark 10. 26.) This is done, in order that Paul may believe him that shall come to him: “he hath seen in a vision:” it hath showed him beforehand: “he prayeth,” saith (the Lord): fear not. And observe, He speaks not to him of the success achieved: teaching us not to speak of our achievements. And, though He saw him afraid, for all this He said it not. “Thou shalt not be disbelieved:” “he hath seen,” saith He, “in a vision a man (named) Ananias:” for this is why it was “in a vision,” namely, because he was blind. And not even the exceeding wonderfulness of the thing took possession of the disciple’s mind, so greatly was he afraid. But observe: Paul being blind, in this way He restored to sight. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (v. 15, 16.) “Not only,” saith He, “shall he be a believer, but even a teacher, and great boldness shall he show: ‘before Gentiles and kings’—such shall be the spread of the doctrine!—that just as He astonished (him) by the former, so He may (startle him even more) by the latter. “And Ananias went, and entered into the house, and laid his hands upon him, and said, Brother Saul”—he straightway addresses him as a friend by that name—“Jesus, Who appeared unto thee in the way in which thou camest”—and yet Christ had not told him this, but he learnt it from the Spirit—“hath sent me unto thee, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (v. 17.) As he said this, he laid his hands upon him. “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales.” (v. 18.) Some say this was a sign of his blindness. Why did he not blind his eyes (entirely)? This was more wonderful, that, with his eyes open, he did not see: (v. 8) which was just his case in respect of the Law, untilthe Name of Jesus was put on him. “And he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And having taken food, he recovered strength.” (v. 19.) He was faint, therefore, both from his journey and from his fear; both from hunger, and from dejection of mind. Wishing therefore to deepen his dejection, He made the man blind until the coming of Ananias: and, that he might not imagine the blindness to be (only) fancy, this is the reason of the scales. He needed no other teaching: that which had befallen was made teaching (to him). “And he was with the disciples which were at Damascus certain days. And straightway in the synagogues he preached Jesus, that He is the Son of God.” (v. 20.) See, straightway he was a teacher in the synagogues. He was not ashamed of the change, was not afraid while the very things in which he was glorious afore-time, the same he destroyed. Even from his first appearance on the stage here was a man, death-dealing, ready for deeds of blood: seest thou what a manifest sign (was here)? And with this very thing, he put all in fear: for, said they, Hither also is he come for this very thing. “But all that heard him were amazed, and said: Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.” (v. 222.) As one learned in the Law, he stopped their mouths, and suffered them not to speak. They thought they were rid of disputation in such matters, in getting rid of Stephen, and they found another, more vehement than Stephen.

(Recapitulation.) But let us look at what relates to Ananias. The Lord said not to him, Converse with him, and catechize him. For if, when He said, “He prayeth, and hath seen a man laying his hands upon him,” (v. 112.) He did not persuade him, much less had He said this. So that he shall not disbelieve thee, “he hath seen in a vision.” Observe how in the former instance neither is Philip told all immediately. Fear not, He saith: “for this man is a chosen vessel for Me. (v. 15.) He more than sufficiently released him of his fear, if the case be so that this man shall be so zealous in our cause, as even to suffer many things. And justly he is called “a vessel” (or, instrument)—for reason shows that evil is not a physical quality: “a vessel of election” (or, chosen instrument), He saith; for we choose that which is approved. And let not any imagine, that (Ananias) speaks in unbelief of what was told him, as imagining that Christ was deceived: far from it! but affrighted and trembling, he did not even attend to what was said, at hearing the name of Paul. Moreover, the Lord does not tell that He has blinded him: at the mention of his name fear had prepossessed his soul: “see,” he says, “to whom Thou art betraying me: ‘and hither for this very purpose is he come, to bind all that call upon Thy Name.’ I fear, lest he take me to Jerusalem: why dost Thou cast me into the mouth of the lion?” He is terrified, even while he speaks these words; that from every quarter we may learn the energetic character (ἀρετήν) of the man. For that these things should be spoken by Jews, were nothing wonderful: but that these (the believers) are so terrified, it is a most mighty proof of the power of God. Both the fear is shown, and the obedience greater after the fear. For there was indeed need of strength. Since He says, “a vessel of election,” that thou mayest not imagine that God is to do all, He adds, “to bear My Name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel. Ananias has heard what he most desired—that against the Jews also he will take his stand: this above all gave him courage. “For I,” saith He, “will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” At the same time also this is said by way of putting Ananias to the blush: If he, that was so frantic, shall suffer all things, and thou not willing even to baptize him! “It is well,” saith he: “let him continue blind” (this is why he says these words): “he is blind: why dost Thou at all bid me open his eyes, that he may bind (men) again?” Fear not the future: for that opening of his eyes he will use not against you, but for you (with reference to that saying, “That he may receive his sight” (v. these words are spoken): for not only will he do you no harm, but he “will suffer many things.” And what is wonderful indeed is, that he shall first know “how great things he shall suffer,” and then shall take the field against the perils.—“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus”—he saith not, “Who made thee blind,” but, “Who appeared with thee in the way, hath sent me unto thee that thou mayest receive thy sight” (v. 17): observe this man also, how he utters nothing boastful, but just as Peter said in the case of the lame man, “Why look ye on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk,” (ch. 3. 1 so here also he saith, “Jesus, Who appeared unto thee.” (b) Or, (he saith it) that the other may believe: and he saith not, He that was crucified, the Son of God, He that doeth wonders: but what? “He that appeared unto thee:” (speaking) from what the other knew: as Christ also added no more, neither said, I am Jesus, the Crucified, the Risen: but what? “Whom thou persecutest.” Ananias said not, “The persecuted,” that he may not seem as it were to rave over him (ἐπενθουσί& 139·ν), to deride him, “Who appeared unto thee in the way:” and yet He did not (visibly) appear, but was seen by the things done. And immediately he added, wishing to draw a veil over the accusation: “That thou mayest receive thy sight.” I came not to reprove the past, but to bestow the gift: “that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (a) With hands laid on, he spake these words. “And immediately there fell from his eyes,” etc. (v. 18): a double blindness is removed.—And why saith it, “Having taken food, he was strengthened?” (v. 19.) Because they that are in such case become relaxed: he had no heart to partake of food before, until he obtained the mighty gifts. (c) It seems to me, that both Paul and Cornelius, at the very instant when the words were spoken, received the Spirit. And yet (in this case) the giver was no great one. So true is it, that there was naught of man’s in the things done, nor aught was done by man, but God was present, the Doer of these things. And at the same time (the Lord) both teaches him to think modestly of himself, in that He does not bring him to the Apostles who were so admired, and shows that there is nothing of man here. He was not filled, however, with the Spirit which works signs: that in this way also his faith might be shown; for he wrought no miracles. “And straightway,” it says, “in the synagogues he preached Jesus”—(v. 20) not that He is risen—not this: no, nor that He liveth: but what? immediately he strictly expounded the doctrine—“that this is the Son of God. And all that heard him were amazed,” etc. (v. 21.) They were reduced to utter incredulity. And yet they ought not to have wondered only, but to worship and reverence. “Is not this he,” etc. He had not merely been a persecutor, but “destroyed them which called on this Name”—they did not say, “on Jesus;” for hatred, they could not bear even to hear His name—and what is more marvellous still, “and came hither for this purpose,” etc. “We cannot say, that he associated with the Apostles before.” See by how many (witnesses) he is confessed to have been of the number of the enemies! But Paul not only was not confounded by these things, nor hid his face for shame, but “increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews” (v. 2, i.e. put them to silence, left them nothing to say for themselves, “proving, that this is very Christ.” “Teaching,” it says: for this man was a teacher.

“And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him.” (v. 23.) The Jews again resort to that valid argument (ἰσχυρὸν συλλογισμόν) of theirs, not now seeking false-accusers and false-witnesses; they cannot wait for these now: but what do they? They set about it by themselves. For as they see the affair on the increase, they do not even use the form of a trial. “But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.” (v. 24.) For this was more intolerable to them than the miracles which had taken place—than the five thousand, the three thousand, than everything, in short. And observe him, how he is delivered, not by (miraculous) grace, but by man’s wisdom—not as the apostles were—(ἐκεἴνοι, ch. 5. 19) that thou mayest learn the energetic (ἀρετὴν) character of the man, how he shines even without miracles. “Then the disciples took him by night,” that the affair might not be suspected, “and let him down by the wall in a basket.” (v. 25.) What then? having escaped such a danger, does he flee? By no means, but goes where he kindled them to greater rage.

(Recapitulation, 5. 20, 21.) “And straightway in the synagogues he preached Jesus”—for he was accurate in the faith—“that this is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed,” etc., for indeed it was incredible. “But Saul increased,” etc. Therefore “after many days” this happens: viz. the Jews “took counsel to kill him. And their laying await was known of Saul.” (v. 22–24.) What does this mean? It is likely that for awhile he did not choose to depart thence, though many, perhaps, besought him; but when he learnt it, then he permitted his disciples: for he had disciples immediately.

“Then the disciples,” etc. (v. 25.) Of this occurrence he says: “The ethnarch of Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend me.” (2 Cor. 132.) But observe the Writer here, that he does not tell the story ambitiously, and so as to show what an important person Paul was, saying, “For they stirred up the king,” and so forth: but only, “Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall—in a basket:” for they sent him out alone, and none with him. And it was well they did this: the consequence being, that he showed himself to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Now they sent him out, as bound to provide for his safety by flight: but he did just the contrary—he leaped into the midst of those who were mad against him. This it is to be on fire, this to be fervent indeed! From that day forth he knew all the commands which the Apostles had heard: “Except a man take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt. 10. 38.) The very fact that he had been slower to come than the rest made him more zealous: for “to whom much is forgiven” (Luke 7. 47) the same will love more, so that the later he came, the more he loved: * * * and having done ten thousand wrongs, he thought he could never do enough to cast the former deeds into the shade. “Proving” (v. 2, it says: i.e. with mildness teaching. And observe, they did not say to him, Thou art he that destroyed: why art thou changed? for they were ashamed: but they said it to themselves. For he would have said to them, This very thing ought to teach you, as in fact he does thus plead in his speech before Agrippa. Let us imitate this, man: let us bear our souls in our hands ready to confront all dangers.—(That he fled from Damascus) this was no cowardice: he preserved himself for the preaching. Had he been a coward, he would not have gone to Jerusalem, would not immediately have commenced teaching: he would have abated somewhat of his vehemence: for he had been taught by the fate of Stephen. He was no coward, but he was also prudent (οἰκονομικός) (in husbanding himself). Wherefore he thought it no great thing to die for the Gospel’s sake, unless he should do this to great advantage: willing not even to see Christ, Whom most of all he longed to see, while the work of his stewardship among men was not yet complete. (Phil. 23, 2. Such ought to be the soul of a Christian. From his first appearance from the very outset, the character of Paul declared itself: nay even before this, even in the things which he did “not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10. , it was not by man’s reasoning that he was moved to act as he did. For if, so long afterwards, he was content not to depart, much more at the beginning of his trading voyage, when he had but just left the harbor! Many things Christ leaves to be done by (ordinary) human wisdom, that we may learn that (his disciples) were men, that it was not all everywhere to be done by grace: for otherwise they would have been mere motionless logs: but in many things they managed matters themselves.—This is not less than martyrdom,—to shrink from no suffering for the sake of the salvation of the many. Nothing so delights God. Again will I repeat what I have often said: and I repeat it, because I do exceedingly desire it: as Christ also did the same, when discoursing concerning forgiveness: “When ye pray, forgive if ye have aught against any man:” (Mark 125.) and again to Peter He said, “I say not unto thee, Forgive until seven times, but until seventy-times seven.” (Matt. 18. 22.) And Himself in fact forgives the transgressions against Him. So do we also, because we know that this is the very goal of Christianity, continually discourse thereof. Nothing is more frigid than a Christian, who cares not for the salvation of others. Thou canst not here plead poverty: for she that cast down the two mites, shall be thine accuser. (Luke 21.) And Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none.” (Acts 3. 6.) And Paul was so poor, that he was often hungered, and wanted necessary food. Thou canst not plead lowness of birth: for they too were ignoble men, and of ignoble parents. Thou canst not allege want of education: for they too were “unlearned men.” (Acts 4. 13.) Even if thou be a slave therefore and a runaway slave, thou canst perform thy part: for such was Onesimus: yet see to what Paul calls him, and to how great honor he advances him: “that he may communicate with me,” he says, “in my bonds.” (Philem. 5. 13.) Thou canst not plead infirmity: for such was Timothy, having often infirmities; for, says the apostle, “Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities.” (1 Tim. 5. 23.) Every one can profit his neighbor, if he will fulfil his part. See ye not the unfruitful trees, how strong they are, how fair, how large also, and smooth, and of great height? But if we had a garden; we should much rather have pomegranates, or fruitful olive trees: for the others are for delight to the eye, not for profit, which in them is but small. Such are those men who only consider their own interest: nay, not such even since these persons are fit only for burning: whereas those trees are useful both for building and for the safety of those within. Such too were those Virgins, chaste indeed, and decent, and modest, but profitable to none (Matt. 25. wherefore they are burned. Such are they who have not nourished Christ. For observe that none of those are charged with particular sins of their own, with fornication, for instance, or with perjury; in short, with no sin but the having been of no use to another. Such was he who buried his talent, showing indeed a blameless life, but not being useful to another. (ib. 25.) How can such an one be a Christian? Say, if the leaven being mixed up with the flour did not change the whole into its own nature, would such a thing be leaven? Again, if a perfume shed no sweet odor on those who approach it, could we call it a perfume? Say not, “It is impossible for me to induce others (to become Christians)”—for if thou art a Christian, it is impossible but that it should be so. For as the natural properties of things cannot be gainsaid, so it is here: the thing is part of the very nature of the Christian. Do not insult God. To say, that the sun cannot shine, would be to insult Him: to say that a Christian cannot do good, is to insult God, and call Him a liar. For it is easier for the sun not to give heat, nor to shine, than for the Christian not to send forth light: it is easier for the light to be darkness, than for this to be so. Tell me not that it is impossible: the contrary is the impossible. Do not insult God. If we once get our own affairs in a right state, the other will certainly follow as a natural and necessary consequence. It is not possible for the light of a Christian to be hid; not possible for a lamp so conspicuous as that to be concealed. Let us not be careless. For, as the profit from virtue reaches both to ourselves, and to those who are benefited by it: so from vice there is a two-fold loss, reaching both to ourselves, and to those who are injured by it. Let there be (if you will) some private man, who has suffered numberless ills from some one, and let no one take his part, yet let that man still return good offices; what teaching so mighty as this? What words, or what exhortations could equal it? What wrath were it not enough to extinguish and soften? Knowing therefore these things, let us hold fast to virtue, as knowing that it is not possible to be saved otherwise, than by passing through this present life in doing these good works, that we may also obtain the good things which are to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 21 Acts 9. 26, 27 “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way.”

One may well be much at a loss here to understand how it is that, whereas in the Epistle to the Galatians Paul says, “I went not to Jerusalem,” but “into Arabia” and “to Damascus,” and, “After three years I went up to Jerusalem,” and “to see Peter” (Gal. 17), (ἱστορἥσαι Cat.) here the writer says the contrary. (There, Paul says,) “And none of the Apostles saw I; but here, it is said (Barnabas), brought him to the Apostles.”—Well, then, either (Paul) means, “I went not up with intent to refer or attach myself to them (ἀναθέσθαι)—for what saith he? “I referred not myself, neither went I to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me:” or else, that the laying await for him in Damascus was after his return from Arabia; or else, again, that the visit to Jerusalem was after he came from Arabia. Certainly of his own accord he went not to the Apostles, but “assayed to join himself unto the disciples”—as being a teacher, not a disciple—“I went not,” he says, “for this purpose, that I should go to those who were Apostles before me: certainly, I learnt nothing from them.” Or, he does not speak of this visit, but passes it by, so that the order is, “I went into Arabia, then I came to Damascus, then to Jerusalem, then to Syria:” or else, again, that he went up to Jerusalem, then was sent to Damascus, then to Arabia, then again to Damascus, then to Cæsarea. Also, the visit “after fourteen years,” probably, was when he brought up the alms to the brethren together with Barnabas: (Gal. 2. or else he means a different occasion. (Acts 130.) For the Historian for conciseness, often omits incidents, and condenses the times. Observe how unambitious the writer is, and how he does not even relate (related in ch. 22. 17–2 that vision, but passes it by. “He assayed,” it says, “to join himself to the disciples. And they were afraid of him.” By this again is shown the ardor of Paul’s character: not (only) from the mouth of Ananias, and of those who wondered at him there, but also of those in Jerusalem: “they believed not that he was a disciple:” for truly that was beyond all human expectation.He was no longer a wild beast, but a man mild and gentle! And observe how he does not go to the Apostles, such is his forbearance, but to the disciples, as being a disciple. He was not thought worthy of credit. “But Barnabas”—“Son of Consolation” is his appellation, whence also he makes himself easy of access to the man: for “he was a kind man” (ch. 12, exceedingly, and this is proved both by the present instance, and in the affair of John (Mark)—“having taken him, brought him to the Apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord in the way.” (xv. 39.) It is likely that at Damascus also he had heard all about him: whence he was not afraid but the others were, for he was a man whose glance inspired fear. “How,” it says, “he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken unto him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of Jesus” (v. 28): these things were demonstrative of the former, and by his acts he made good what was spoken of him. “And he spake, and disputed with the Hellenists.” (v. 29.) So then the disciples were afraid of him, and the Apostles did not trust him; by this therefore he relieves them of their fear. “With the Hellenists:” he means those who used the Greek tongue: and this he did, very wisely; for those others, those profound Hebrews had no mind even to see him. “But they,” it says, “went about to slay him:” a token, this, of his energy, and triumphant victory, and of their exceeding annoyance at what had happened. Thereupon, fearing lest the issue should be the same as in the case of Stephen, they sent him to Cæsarea. For it says, “When the brethren were aware of this, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus” (v. 30), at the same time to preach, and likely to be more in safety, as being in his own country. But observe, I pray you, how far it is from being the case that everything is done by (miraculous) grace; how, on the contrary, God does in many things leave them to manage for themselves by their own wisdom and in a human way; so to cut off the excuse of idle people: for if it was so in the case of Paul, much more in theirs. “Then, it says, “the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace (they), being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” (v. 31.) He is about to relate that Peter goes down (from Jerusalem), therefore that you may not impute this to fear, he first says this. For while there was persecution, he was in Jerusalem, but when the affairs of the Church are everywhere in security, then it is that he leaves Jerusalem. See how fervent and energetic he is! For he did not think, because there was peace, therefore there was no need of his presence. Paul departed, and there was peace: there is no war nor disturbance. Them, they respected most, as having often stood by them, and as being held in admiration by the multitude: but him, they despised, and were more savage against him. See, how great a war, and immediately, peace! See what that war effected. It dispersed the peace-makers. In Samaria, Simon was put to shame: in Judea, the affair of Sapphira took place. Not that, because there was peace, therefore matters became relaxed, but such was the peace as also to need exhortation. “And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.” (v. 32.) Like the commander of an army, he went about, inspecting the ranks, what part was compact, what in good order, what needed his presence. See how on all occasions he goes about, foremost. When an Apostle was to be chosen, he was the foremost: when the Jews were to be told, that these were “not drunken,” when the lame man was to be healed, when harangues to be made, he is before the rest: when the rulers were to be spoken to, he was the man; when Ananias, he (ch. 15; 2. 15; 3. 4–12; 4. 8; 5. 3–15.): when healings were wrought by the shadow, still it was he. And look: where there was danger, he was the man, and where good management (was needed); but where all is calm, there they act all in common, and he demands no greater honor (than the others). When need was to work miracles, he starts forward, and here again he is the man to labor and toil. “And there he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.” (v. 33, 34.) And why did he not wait for the man’s faith, and ask if he wished to be healed? In the first place, the miracle served for exhortation to many: hear then how great the gain. “And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.” (v. 35.) For the man was notable. “Arise, and make thy bed:” he does well to give a proof of the miracle: for they not only released men of their diseases, but in giving the health they gave the strength also. Moreover, at that time they had given no proofs of their power, so that the man could not reasonably have been required to show his faith, as neither in the case of the lame man did they demand it. (ch. 3. 6.) As therefore Christ in the beginning of His miracles did not demand faith, so neither did these. For in Jerusalem indeed, as was but reasonable, the faith of the parties was first shown; “they brought out their sick into the streets, but as Peter passed by, his shadow at least might fall upon some of them” (ch. 5. 15); for many miracles had been wrought there; but here this is the first that occurs. For of the miracles, some were wrought for the purpose of drawing others (to faith); some for the comfort of them that believed. “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.” (v. 36–38). Why did they wait till she was dead? Why was not Peter solicited (ἐσκύλη) before this? So right-minded (φιλοσοφοὕντες) were they, they did not think it proper to trouble (σκύλλειν) the Disciples about such matters, and to take them away from the preaching: as indeed this is why it mentions that the place was near, seeing they asked this as a thing beside his mark, and not now in the regular course. “Not to delay to come unto them:” for she was a disciple. And Peter arose, and went with them. And when he was come, they led him into the upper chamber.” (v. 39.) They do not beseech, but leave it to him to give her life (σωτηρίαν.) See what a cheering inducement to alms is here! “And all the widows,” it says, “stood round him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.” Peter went into the apartment, as one who took it calmly, but see what an accession came of it! It is not without a meaning that the Writer has informed us of the woman’s name, but to show that the name she bore (φερώνυμος ἦν) matched her character; as active and wakeful was she as an antelope. For in many instances there is a Providence in the giving of names, as we have often told you. “She was full,” it says, “of good works:” not only of alms, but “of good works,” first, and then of this good work in particular. “Which,” it says, “Dorcas made while she was with them.” Great humility! Not as we do; but they were all together in common, and in company with them she made these things and worked. “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” (v. 40.) Why does he put them all out? That he may not be confused nor disturbed by their weeping. “And having knelt down, he prayed.” Observe the intentness of his prayer. “And he gave her his hand.” (v. 41.) So did Christ to the daughter of Jairus: “And (says the Evangelist) having taken her by the hand.” Mark severally, first the life, then the strength brought into her, the one by the word, the other by his hand—“And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive:” to some for comfort, because they received back their sister, and because they saw the miracle, and for kindly support (προστασίαν) to others. “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.” (v. 42–43.) Mark the unassuming conduct, mark the moderation of Peter, how he does not make his abode with this lady, or some other person of distinction, but with a tanner: by all his acts leading men to humility, neither suffering the mean to be ashamed, nor the great to be elated! “Many days;” for they needed his instruction, who had believed through the miracles.—Let us look then again at what has been said.

“Assayed,” it says, “to join himself to the disciples.” (Recapitulation, 5. 26.) He did not come up to them unabashed, but with a subdued manner. “Disciples” they were all called at that time by reason of their great virtue, for there was the likeness of the disciples plainly to be seen. “But they were all afraid of him.” See how they feared the dangers, how the alarm was yet at its height in them. “But Barnabas,” etc. (v. 27.)—it seems to me that Barnabas was of old a friend of his—“and related,” etc.: observe how Paul says nothing of all this himself: nor would he have brought it forward to the others, had he not been compelled to do so. “And he was with them, coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (v. 28, 29.) This gave them all confidence. “But they went about to slay him: which when the brethren knew” etc. (v. 30.) Do you observe how both there (at Damascus), and here, the rest take care for him, and provide for him the means of departure, and that we nowhere find him thus far receiving (direct supernatural) aid from God? So the energy of his character is betokened. “To Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus:” so that, I suppose, he did not continue his journey by land, but sailed the rest of it. And this (departure) is Providentially ordered, that he might preach there also: and so likewise were the plots against him ordered by God’s Providence, and his coming to Jerusalem, that the story about him might no longer be disbelieved. For there he was “speaking boldly,” it says, “in the name of the Lord Jesus; and he spake and disputed against the Hellenists;” and again, “he was with them coming in and going out.—So the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace”—i.e. it increased: and peace with itself, that peace which is peace indeed: for the war from without would have done them no harm —“they being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the consolation of the Holy Ghost.” And the spirit consoled them both by the miracles and by the works, and independently of these in the person of each individual. “And it came to pass, etc. And Peter said unto him, Eneas,” etc. (v. 32–34.) But before discourse, before exhortations, he says to the lame man himself, “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” This word he believed in any wise, and was made whole. Observe how unassuming he is: for he said not, “In the Name,” but rather as a sign he narrates the miracle itself, and speaks as its Evangelist. “And having seen him,” it says, “all that dwelt in Lydda, and Saron, turned unto the Lord.—Now there was at Joppa,” etc. (v. 35, 36.) Observe everywhere the signs taking place. But let us so believe them, as if we were now beholding them. It is not simply said, that Tabitha died, but that she died, having been in a state of weakness. And (yet) they did not call Peter until she died; then “they sent and told him not to delay to come unto them.” Observe, they send and call him by others. And he comes: he did not think it a piece of disrespect, to be summoned by two men: for, it says, “they sent two men unto him.”—Affliction, my beloved, is a great thing, and rivets our souls together. Not a word of wailing there, nor of mourning. Seehow thoroughly matters are cleansed! “Having washed her,” it says, “they laid her in an upper chamber:” that is, they did all (that was right) for the dead body. Then Peter having come, “knelt down, and prayed; and turning him to the body, said, Tabitha, arise.” (v. 40.) They did not perform all their miracles with the same ease. But this was profitable for them: for truly God took thought not only for the salvation of others, but for their own. He that healed so many by his very shadow, how is it that he now has to do so much first? There are cases also in which the faith of the applicants coöperated. This is the first dead person that he raises. Observe how he, as it were, awakes her out of sleep: first she opened her eyes: then upon seeing (Peter) she sat up: then from his hand she received strength. “And it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (v. 42.) Mark the gain, mark the fruit, that it was not for display. Indeed, this is why he puts them all out, imitating his Master in this also.

 For where tears are—or rather, where miracles are, there tears ought not to be; not where such a mystery is celebrating. Hear, I beseech you: although somewhat of the like kind does not take place now, yet in the case of our dead likewise, a great mystery is celebrating. Say, if as we sit together, the Emperor were to send and invite some one of us to the palace, would it be right, I ask, to weep and mourn? Angels are present, commissioned from heaven and come from thence, sent from the King Himself to call their fellow servant, and say, dost thou weep? Knowest thou not what a mystery it is that is taking place, how awful, how dread, and worthy indeed of hymns and lauds? Wouldest thou learn, that thou mayest know, that this is no time for tears? For it is a very great mystery of the Wisdom of God. As if leaving her dwelling, the soul goes forth, speeding on her way to her own Lord, and dost thou mourn? Why then, thou shouldst do this on the birth of a child: for this in fact is also a birth, and a better than that. For here she goes forth to a very different light, is loosed as from a prison-house, comes off as from a contest. “Yes,” say you, “it is all very well to say this, in the case of those of whose salvation we are assured.” Then, what ails thee, O man, that even in the case of such, thou dost not take it in this way? Say, what canst thou have to condemn in the little child? Why dost thou mourn for it? What in the newly baptized? for he too is brought into the same condition: why dost thou mourn for him? For as the sun arises clear and bright, so the soul, leaving the body with a pure conscience, shines joyously. Not such the spectacle of Emperor as he comes in state to take possession of the city (ἐπιβαίνοντα πόλεως), not such the hush of awe, as when the soul having quitted the body is departing in company with Angels. Think what the soul must then be! in what amazement, what wonder, what delight! Why mournest thou? Answer me.—But it is only in the case of sinners thou doest this? Would that it were so, and I would not forbid your mournings, would that this were the object! This lamentation were Apostolic, this were after the pattern of the Lord; for even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. I would that your mournings were discriminated by this rule. But when thou speakest the words of one that would call back (the dead), and speakest of thy long intimacy and his beneficence, it is but for this thou mournest (not because he was a sinner), thou dost but pretend to say it. Mourn, bewail the sinner, and I too will give a loose to tears; I, more than thou, the greater the punishment to which he is liable as such: I too will lament, with such an object. But not thou alone must lament him that is such; the whole city must do the same, and all that meet you on the way, as men bewail them that are led to be put to death. For this is a death indeed, an evil death, the death of sinners. But (with you) all is clean reversed. Such lamentation marks a lofty mind, and conveys much instruction; the other marks a littleness of soul. If we all lamented with this sort of lamentation, we should amend the persons themselves while yet living. For as, if it rested with thee to apply medicines which would prevent that bodily death, thou wouldest use them, just so now, if this death were the death thou lamentest, thou wouldest prevent its taking place, both in thyself and in him. Whereas now our behavior is a perfect riddle; that having it in our power to hinder its coming, we let it take place, and mourn over it when it has come. Worthy indeed of lamentations are they (when we consider), what time as they shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, what words they shall then hear, what they shall suffer! To no purpose have these men lived: nay, not to no purpose, but to evil purpose! Of them too it may be fitly said, “It were good for them had they never been born.” (Mark 14. 21.) For what profit is it, I ask, to have spent so much time to the hurt of his own person? Had it been spent only to no purpose, were not that, I ask you, punishment enough! If one who has been an hired servant twenty years were to find that he has had all his labor in vain, would he not weep and lament, and think himself the most miserable of men? Why, here is a man who has lost all the labor of a whole life: not one day has he lived for himself, but to luxury, to debauchery, to covetousness, to sin, to the devil. Then, say, shall we not bewail this man? shall we not try to snatch him from his perils? For it is, yes, it is possible, if we will, to mitigate his punishment, if we make continual prayers for him, if for him we give alms. However unworthy he may be, God will yield to our importunity. For if Paul showed mercy on one (who had no claims on his mercy), and for the sake of others spared one (whom he would not have spared), much more is it right for us to do this. By means of his substance, by means of thine own, by what means thou wilt, aid him: pour in oil, nay rather, water. Has he no alms-deeds of his own to exhibit? Let him have at least those of his kindred. Has he none done by himself? At least let him have those which are done for him, that his wife may with confidence beg him off in that day, having paid down the ransom for him. The more sins he has to answer for, the greater need has he of alms, not only for this reason, but because the alms has not the same virtue now, but far less: for it is not all one to have done it himself, and to have another do it for him; therefore, the virtue being less, let us by quantity make it the greatest. Let us not busy ourselves about monuments, not about memorials. This is the greatest memorial: set widows to stand around him. Tell them his name: bid them all make for him their prayers, their supplications: this will overcome God: though it have not been done by the man himself, yet because of him another is the author of the almsgiving. Even this pertains to the mercy of God: “widows standing around and weeping” know how to rescue, not indeed from the present death, but from that which is to come. Many have profited even by the alms done by others on their behalf: for even if they have not got perfect (deliverance), at least they have found some comfort thence. If it be not so, how are children saved? And yet there, the children themselves contribute nothing, but their parents do all: and often have women had their children given them, though the children themselves contributed nothing. Many are the ways God gives us to be saved, only let us not be negligent.

How then if one be poor? say you. Again I say, the greatness of the alms is not estimated by the quantity given, but by the purpose. Only give not less than thine ability, and thou hast paid all. How then, say you, if he be desolate and a stranger, and have none to care for him? And why is it that he has none, I ask you? In this very thing thou sufferest thy desert, that thou hast none to be thus thy friend, thus virtuous. This is so ordered on purpose that, though we be not ourselves virtuous, we may study to have virtuous companions and friends—both wife, and son, and friend—as reaping some good even through them, a slight gain indeed, but yet a gain. If thou make it thy chief object not to marry a rich wife, but to have a devout wife, and a religious daughter, thou shalt gain this consolation; if thou study to have thy son not rich but devout, thou shalt also gain this consolation. If thou make these thine objects then wilt thyself be such as they. This also is part of virtue, to choose such friends, and such a wife and children. Not in vain are the oblations made for the departed, not in vain the prayers, not in vain the almsdeeds: all those things hath the Spirit ordered, wishing us to be benefited one by the other. See: he is benefited, thou art benefited: because of him, thou hast despised wealth, being set on to do some generous act: both thou art the means of salvation to him, and he to thee the occasion of thine almsgiving. Doubt not that he shall get some good thereby. It is not for nothing that the Deacon cries, “For them that are fallen asleep in Christ, and for them that make the memorials for them.” It is not the Deacon that utters this voice, but the Holy Ghost: I speak of the Gift. What sayest thou? There is the Sacrifice in hand, and all things laid out duly ordered: Angels are there present, Archangels, the Son of God is there: all stand with such awe, and in the general silence those stand by, crying aloud: and thinkest thou that what is done, is done in vain? Then is not the rest also all in vain, both the oblations made for the Church, and those for the priests, and for the whole body? God forbid! but all is done with faith. What thinkest thou of the oblation made for the martyrs, of the calling made in that hour, martyrs though they be, yet even “for martyrs?” It is a great honor to be named in the presence of the Lord, when that memorial is celebrating, the dread Sacrifice, the unutterable mysteries. For just as, so long as the Emperor is seated, is the time for the petitioner to effect what he wishes to effect, but when he is risen, say what he will, it is all in vain, so at that time, while the celebration of the mysteries is going on, it is for all men the greatest honor to be held worthy of mention. For look: then is declared the dread mystery, that God gave Himself for the world: along with that mystery he seasonably puts Him in mind of them that have sinned. For as when the celebration of Emperors’ victories is in progress, then, as many as had their part in the victory receive their meed of praise, while at the same time as many as are in bonds are set at liberty in honor of the occasion; but when the occasion is past, he that did not obtain this favor then, no longer gets any: so is it here likewise: this is the time of celebration of a victory. For, saith it, “so often as ye eat this bread, ye do show forth the Lord’s death.” Then let us not approach indifferently, nor imagine that these things are done in any ordinary sort. But it is in another sense that we make mention of martyrs, and this, for assurance that the Lord is not dead: and this, for a sign that death has received its death’s blow, that death itself is dead. Knowing these things, let us devise what consolations we can for the departed, instead of tears, instead of laments, instead of tombs, our alms, our prayers, our oblations, that both they and we may attain unto the promised blessings, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 22 Acts 10. 1–4 “There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”

This man is not a Jew, nor of those under the Law, but he had already forestalled our manner of life. Observe, thus far, two persons, both of high rank, receiving the faith, the eunuch at Gaza and this man; and the pains taken on behalf of these men. But do not imagine that this was because of their high rank: God forbid! it was because of their piety. For that the Scripture mentions their dignified stations, is to show the greatness of their piety; since it is more wonderful when a person being in a position of wealth and power is such as these were. What makes the praise of the former is, his undertaking so long a journey, and this when there was no (festival) season to require it, and his reading on his road, and while riding in his chariot, and his beseeching Philip, and numberless other points: and the great praise of the latter is, that he makes alms and prayers, and is a just man, holding such a command. The reason why the writer describes the man so fully, is, that none may say that the Scripture history relates falsehoods: “Cornelius,” he says, “a centurion of the band called the Italian band.” (v. 1.) A “band,” σπεἵρα, is what we now call a “numerous.” “A devout man,” he says, “and one that feared God with all his house” (v. : that you may not imagine that it is because of his high station that these things are done.—When Paul was to be brought over, there is no angel, but the Lord Himself: and He does not send him to some great one, but to a very ordinary person: but here, on the contrary, He brings the chief Apostle (to these Gentiles), not sends them to him: herein condescending to their weakness, and knowing how such persons need to be treated. As indeed on many occasions we find Christ Himself hasting (to such), as being more infirm. Or (it may be) because (Cornelius) was not able himself to leave his home. But here again is a high commendation of alms, just as was there given by means of Tabitha. “A devout man,” it says, “and one that feared God with all his house.” Let us hear this, whoever of us neglect them of our own house, whereas this man was careful of his soldiers also. “And that gave alms,” it says, “to all the people.” Both his doctrines and his life were right. “He saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.” (v. 3.) Why does he see the angel? This also was in order to the full assurance of Peter, or rather, not of him, but of the others, the weaker ones. “At the ninth hour,” when he was released from his cares and was at quiet, when he was engaged in prayers and compunction. “And when he looked on him, he was afraid.” (v. 4.) Observe how what the angel speaks he does not speak immediately, but first rouses and elevates his mind. At the sight, there was fear, but a fear in moderation, just so far as served to fix his attention. Then also the words relieved him of his fear. The fear roused him: the praise mitigated what was unpleasant in the fear. “Thy prayers,” saith he, “and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter.” (v. 5.) Lest they should come to a different person, he designates the man not only by his surname, but by the place. “And the same,” saith he, “is lodging with one Simon a tanner, who hath his house by the seaside.” (v. 6.) Do you mark how the Apostles, for love of solitude and quiet, affected the retired quarters of the cities? “With one Simon a tanner:” how then if it chanced that there was another? Behold, there is another token, his dwelling by the seaside. All three tokens could not possibly coincide (elsewhere). He does not tell him for what purpose, that he may not take off the intense desire, but he leaves him to an eager and longing expectation of what he shall hear. “And when the Angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.” (v. 7, 8.) Do you see, that it is not without purpose that the writer says this? (it shows) that those also “who waited on him continually” were such as he. “And when he had declared the whole matter unto them:” observe the unassuming character of the man: for he does not say, Call Peter to me: but, in order also to induce him to come, he declared the whole matter:—this was so ordered by Providence;—for he did not choose to use the authority of his rank to fetch Peter to him; therefore “he declared the matter;” such was the moderation of the man: and yet no great notion was to be formed of one lodging with a tanner. “And on the morrow, as they journeyed, and drew nigh to the city” (v. 9.)—observe how the Spirit connects the times: no sooner than this, and no later, He Causes this to take place—“Peter about the sixth hour went up upon the housetop to pray:” that is, privately and quietly, as in an upper chamber. “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten; but while they made ready, there fell upon him a trance.” (v. 10.) What means this expression, ἔκστασις, “trance?” Rather, there was presented to him a kind of spiritual view (θεωρία): the soul, so to say, was caused to be out of the body (ἐξέστη). “And saw heaven opened, and, knit at the four corners, a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.” (v. 11–16.) What is this? It is a symbol of the whole world. The man was uncircumcised: and —for he had nothing in common with the Jews—they would all accuse him as a transgressor: “thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them: (ch. 1” this was a thing altogether offensive to them: observe then what is providentially managed. He himself also says, “I have never eaten:” not being himself afraid—far be the thought from us—but it is so contrived by the Spirit, in order that he may have it to say in answer to those accusing him, that he did object: for it was altogether necessary for them to observe the Law. He was in the act of being sent to the Gentiles: therefore that these also may not accuse him, see how many things are contrived (by the Providence of God). For, that it may not seem to be a mere fancy, “this was done thrice. I said,” saith he, “Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten aught common or unclean.—And the voice came unto him, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (ch. 18, with 10. 14.) It seems indeed to be spoken to him, but the whole is meant for the Jews. For if the teacher is rebuked, much more these. The earth then, this is what the linen sheet denotes, and the wild beasts in it, are they of the Gentiles, and the command, “Kill and eat,” denotes that he must go to them also; and that this thing is thrice done, denotes baptism. “What God hath cleansed,” saith it, “call not thou common.” Great daring! Wherefore did he object? That none may say that God was proving him, as in the case of Abraham, this is why he says, “Not so, Lord,” etc. not gainsaying—just as to Philip also He said, “How many loaves have ye?” Not to learn, but tempting, or “proving him.” And yet it was the same (Lord) that had discoursed above (in the Law) concerning things clean and unclean. But in that sheet were also “all the four-footed beasts of the earth:” the clean with the unclean. And for all this, he knew not what it meant. “Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. But while Peter,” it says, “doubted in himself” (v. 17, 18), the men come at the right moment to solve his doubt: just as (the Lord) suffered Joseph first to be perturbed in mind, and then sends the Angel: for the soul with ease accepts the solution, when it has first been in perplexity. His perplexity neither lasts long (when it did occur), nor (did it occur) before this, but just at the moment when they “asked whether he were lodging there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” (supra, p. 142, and 145, note 7; 5. 19, 20.) And this again is a plea for Peter in answer to the disciples, that he did doubt, and was instructed to doubt nothing. “For I,” saith He, “have sent them.” Great is the authority of the Spirit! What God doth, this the Spirit is said to do. Not so the Angel, but having first said, “Thy prayers and thine alms have ascended, for a memorial before God,” to show that he is sent from thence, then he adds, “And now send men,” etc.: the Spirit not so, but, “For I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” (v. 222.) They speak his praises, so as to persuade him that an Angel has in fact appeared unto him. “Then called he them in,” (b) that they may suffer no harm, “and lodged them:” thenceforth he without scruple takes his meals with them. “And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Cæsarea accompanied him. And the morrow after, they entered into Cæsarea.” (v. 23, 24.) The man was a person of note, and it was in a city of note that he then was.

(a) But let us look over again what has been said. “There was a certain man in Cæsarea,” etc. (Recapitulation, 5. 2.) Observe with whom the beginning of the Gentiles is made—with “a devout man,” and one proved to be worthy by his works. For if, though the case be so, they are still offended, if this had not been the case, what would not have been the consequence! But mark the greatness of the assurance. (c) To this end all is done (in the way it is done), and the affair takes its beginning from Judea. (d) “He saw in a vision, evidently,” etc. (v. . It was not in his sleep that the Angel appeared to him, but while he was awake, in the daytime, “about the ninth hour. He saw an Angel of God coming in unto him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid.” So occupied was he with himself. Implying, that it was in consequence of the Angel’s calling him by a voice that he saw him; as, had he not called him, he would not have seen him: so taken up was he with the act in which he was engaged. But the Angel says to him, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God, and now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, who is called Peter.” (v. 5.) So far, he signified that the sending for him would be for good consequences, but in what way good, he did not intimate. So, neither does Peter relate the whole matter, but everywhere, the narratives are in part only, for the purpose of making the hearers apply their minds to what is said. “Send and call for Simon:” in like manner the Angel only calls Philip. “And as they went on their journey, and drew nigh to the city” (v. 9): in order that Peter should not be in perplexity too long. “Peter went up upon the housetop,” etc. Observe, that not even his hunger forced him to have recourse to the sheet. “Rise, Peter,” saith the Voice, “kill and eat.” (v. 13.) Probably he was on his knees when he saw the vision.—To me it seems that this also denotes the Gospel (or, “the Preaching”). That the thing taking place was of God (the circumstances made evident, namely), both that he sees it (descending) from above, and that he is in a trance; and, that the voice comes from thence, and the thrice confessing that the creatures there were unclean, and its coming from thence, and being drawn back thither (all this), is a mighty token of the cleanness (imparted to them).—But why is this done? For the sake of those thereafter, to whom he is about to relate it. For to himself it had been said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles.” (Matt. 10. 5.) * * For if Paul needed both (to give) circumcision, and (to offer) sacrifice, much more (was some assurance needed) then, in the beginning of the Preaching, while they were as yet weaker. (Acts 16. 3; 216.)—Observe too how he did not at once receive them. For, it says, they “called, and asked, whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodging there.” (v. 18.) As it was a mean looking house, they asked below, they inquired of the neighbors. “And while Peter thought, the Spirit said unto him, Arise, get thee down, and go, nothing doubting, for I have sent them.” (v. 19, 20.) And he does not say, For to this end did the vision appear unto thee; but, “I have sent them. Then Peter went down” (v. 2—this is the way the Spirit must be obeyed, without demanding reasons. For it is sufficient for all assurance to be told by Him, This do, this believe: nothing more (is needed)—“Then Peter went down, and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?” He saw a soldier, saw a man: it was not that he was afraid, on the contrary, having first confessed that he was the person whom they sought, then he asks for the cause (of their coming); that it may not be supposed that the reason of his asking the cause, was, that he wished to hide himself: (he asks it) in order, that if it be immediately urgent, he may also go forth with them, but if not, may receive them as guests. “And they said, etc. into his house.” (v. 22.) This he had ordered them. Do not think he has done this out of contempt: not as of contempt has he sent, but so he was ordered. “And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.” (v. 24.) It was right that his kinsmen and friends should be gathered to him. But being there present, they would have heard from him (what had happened).

See how great the virtue of alms, both in the former discourse, and here! There, it delivered from death temporal; here, from death eternal; and opened the gates of heaven. Such are the pains taken for the bringing of Cornelius to the faith, that both an angel is sent, and the Spirit works, and the chief of the Apostles is fetched to him, and such a vision is shown, and, in short, nothing is left undone. How many centurions were there not besides, and tribunes, and kings, and none of them obtained what this man did! Hear, all ye that are in military commands, all ye that stand beside kings. “A just man,” it says, “fearing God; devout” (v. 2, and 2; and what is more than all, with all his house. Not as we (who): that our servants may be afraid of us, do everything. but not that they may be devout. And over the domestics too, so * *. Not so this man; but he was “one that feared God with all his house” (v. , for he was as the common father of those with him, and of all the others (under his command.) But observe what (the soldier) says himself. For, fearing * *, he adds this also: “well reported of by all the nation.” For what if he was uncircumcised? Nay, but those give him a good report. Nothing like alms: great is the virtue of this practice, when the alms is poured forth from pure stores; for it is like a fountain discharging mud, when it issues from unjust stores, but when from just gains, it is as a limpid and pure stream in a paradise, sweet to the sight, sweet to the touch, both light and cool, when given in the noon-day heat. Such is alms. Beside this fountain, not poplars and pines, nor cypresses, but other plants than these, and far better, of goodly stature: friendship with God, praise with men, glory to Godward, good-will from all; blotting out of sins, great boldness, contempt of wealth. This is the fountain by which the plant of love is nourished: for nothing is so wont to nourish love, as the being merciful: it makes its branches to lift themselves on high. This fountain is better than that in Paradise (Gen. 2. 10); a fountain, not dividing into four heads, but reaching unto Heaven itself: this gives birth to that river “which springeth up into eternal life” (John 4. on this let Death light, and like a spark it is extinguished by the fountain: such, wherever it drops, are the mighty blessings it causes. This quenches, even as a spark, the river of fire: this so strangles that worm, as naught else can do. (Mark 9. 44.) He that has this, shall not gnash his teeth. Of the water of this, let there be dropped upon the chains, and it dissolves them: let it but touch the firebrands, it quenches all.—A fountain does not give out streams for a while and anon run dry,—else must it be no more a fountain,—but ever gushes: so let our fountain give out more copiously of the streams of mercy (in alms). This cheers him that receives: this is alms, to give out not only a copious, but a perennial, stream. If thou wouldest that God rain down His mercy upon thee as from fountains, have thou also a fountain. And yet there is no comparison (between God’s fountain and thine): for if thou open the mouths of this fountain, such are the mouths of God’s Fountain as to surpass every abyss. God does but seek to get an opportunity on our part, and pours forth from His storehouses His blessings. When He expends, when He lavishes, then is He rich, then is He affluent. Large is the mouth of that fountain: pure and limpid its water. If thou stop not up the fountain here, neither wilt thou stop up that fountain.—Let no unfruitful tree stand beside it, that it may not waste its spray. Hast thou wealth? Plant not poplars there: for such is luxury: it consumes much, and shows nothing for it in itself, but spoils the fruit. Plant not a pine-tree—such is wantonness in apparel, beautiful only to the sight, and useful for nothing—nor yet a fir-tree, nor any other of such trees as consume indeed, but are in no sort useful. Set it thick with young shoots: plant all that is fruitful, in the hands of the poor, all that thou wilt. Nothing richer than this ground. Though small the reach of the hand, yet the tree it plants starts up to heaven and stands firm. This it is to plant. For that which is planted on the earth will perish, though not now, at any rate a hundred years hence. Thou plantest many trees, of which thou shalt not enjoy the fruit, but ere thou canst enjoy it, death comes upon thee. This tree will give thee its fruit then, when thou art dead.—If thou plant, plant not in the maw of gluttony, that the fruit end not in the draught-house: but plant thou in the pinched belly, that the fruit may start up to heaven. Refresh the straightened soul of the poor, lest thou pinch thine own roomy soul.—See you not, that the plants which are over-much watered at the root decay, but grow when watered in moderation? Thus also drench not thou thine own belly, that the root of the tree decay not: water that which is thirsty, that it may bear fruit. If thou water in moderation, the sun will not wither them, but if in excess, then it withers them: such is the nature of the sun. In all things, excess is bad; wherefore let us cut it off, that we also may obtain the things we ask for.—Fountains, it is said, rise on the most elevated spots. Let us be elevated in soul, and our alms will flow with a rapid stream: the elevated soul cannot but be merciful, and the merciful cannot but be elevated. For he that despises wealth, is higher than the root of evils.—Fountains are oftenest found in solitary places: let us withdraw our soul from the crowd, and alms will gush out with us. Fountains, the more they are cleaned, the more copiously they flow: so with us, the more we spend, the more all good grows.—He that has a fountain, has nothing to fear: then neither let us be afraid. For indeed this fountain is serviceable to us for drink, for irrigation, for building, for everything. Nothing better than this draught: it is not possible for this to inebriate. Better to possess such a fountain, than to have fountains running with gold. Better than all gold-bearing soil is the soul which bears this gold. For it advances us, not into these earthly palaces, but into those above. The gold becomes an ornament to the Church of God. Of this gold is wrought “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6. 17), the sword by which the dragon is beheaded. From this fountain come the precious stones which are on the King’s head. Then let us not neglect so great wealth, but contribute our alms with largeness, that we may be found worthy of the mercy of God, by the grace and tender compassion of His only begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 23 Acts 10. 23, 24 “Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.”

“He” called them in, and lodged them.” Good, that first he gives the men friendly treatment, after the fatigue of their journey, and makes them at home with him; “and on the morrow,” sets out with them.” And certain accompany him: this too as Providence ordered it, that they should be witnesses afterwards when Peter would need to justify himself. “And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.” This is the part of a friend, this the part of a devout man, that where such blessings are concerned, he takes care that his near friends shall be made partakers of all. Of course (his “near” friends), those in whom he had ever full confidence; fearing, with such an interest at stake, to entrust the matter to others. In my opinion, it was by Cornelius himself that both friends and kinsmen had been brought to a better mind. “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.” (v. 25.) This, both to teach the others, and by way of giving thanks to God, and showing his own humility: thereby making it plain, that though he had been commanded, yet in himself he had great piety. What then did Peter? “But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (v. 26.) Do you mark how, before all else (the Apostles) teach them this lesson, not to think great things of them? “And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (v. 27, 28.) Observe, he straightway speaks of the mercy of God, and points out to them that it is a great grace that God has shown them. Observe also how while he utters great things, at the same time he speaks modestly. For he does not say, We, being men who do not deign to keep company with any (such), have come to you: but what says he? “Ye know”—God commanded this—“that it is against law to keep company with, or come unto, one of another nation.” Then he goes on to say, “And to me God has shown”—this he says, that none may account the thanks due to him—“that I should call no man”—that it may not look like obsequiousness to him, “no human being,” says he—“common or unclean.” (v. 29.) “Wherefore also”—that they may not think the affair a breach of the law on his part, nor (Cornelius) suppose that because he was in a station of command therfore he had complied, but that they may ascribe all to God,—“wherefore also I came without gainsaying as soon as I was sent for:” (though) not only to keep company, but even to come unto (him) was not permitted. “I ask therefore, for what intent ye have sent for me.” Already Peter had heard the whole matter from the soldiers also, but he wishes them first to confess, and to make them amenable to the Faith. What then does Cornelius? He does not say, Why, did not the soldiers tell thee? but observe again, how humbly he speaks. For he says, “From the fourth day I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And at the ninth hour,” he says, “I was praying.” (v. 30, 31.) It seems to me, that this man had also fixed for himself set times of a life under stricter rule, and on certain days. For this is why he he says, “From the fourth day.” See how great a thing prayer is! When he advanced in piety, then the Angel appears to him. “From the fourth day:” i.e. of the week; not “four days ago.” For, “on the morrow Peter went away with them, and on the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea:” this is one day: and the day on which the persons sent came (to Joppa) one day: and on the third (the Angel) appeared: so that there are two days after that on which (Cornelius) had been praying. “And, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing:” he does not say, an Angel, so unassuming is he: “and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter: he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” (v. 31–33.) (b) See what faith, what piety! He knew that it was no word of man that Peter spake, when he said, “God hath shown me.” Then says the man, “We are present to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord. (a)Therefore it was that Peter asked, “For what intent have ye sent for me?” on purpose that he might so speak these very words. (d) “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him.” (v. 34, 35.) That is, be he uncircumcised or circumcised. (c) This also Paul declaring, saith, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Rom. 2. 11.) (e) What then? (it may be asked) is the man yonder in Persia acceptable to Him? If he be worthy, in this regard he is acceptable, that it should be granted him to be brought unto faith (τᾥ καταξιωθἥναι τῆς πίστεως). The Eunuch from Ethiopia He overlooked not. “What shall one say then of the religious men who have been overlooked?” It is not the case, that any (such) ever was overlooked. But what he says is to this effect, that God rejects no man. “In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness:” (by righteousness) he means, all virtue. Mark, how he subdues all elation of mind in him. That (the Jews) may not seem to be in the condition of persons cast off (he adds), “The word which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all (v. 36): this he says also for the sake of those present (of the Jews), that He may persuade them also: this is why he forces Cornelius to speak. “He,” saith he, “is Lord of all.” But observe at the very outset, “The word,” says he, “which He sent unto the children of Israel;” he gives them the preëminence. Then he adduces (these Gentiles) themselves as witnesses: “ye know,” says he, “the matter which came to pass throughout all Judea, beginning at Galilee”—then he confirms it from this also—“after the baptism which John preached” (v. 37)—“even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power.” (v. 38.) He does not mean, Ye know Jesus, for they did not know Him, but he speaks of the things done by Him: “Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: by this he shows that many cases of lost senses or paralyzed limbs are the devil’s work, and a wrench given to the body by him: as also Christ said. “For God was with Him.” Again, lowly terms. “And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem” (v. 39): both “we,” saith he, and ye. Then the Passion, and the reason why they do not believe: “Whom also they slew, and hanged on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.” (v. 40, 41.) This is a proof of the Resurrection. “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (v. 42.) This is great. Then he adduces the testimony from the Prophets: “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” (v. 43.) This is a proof of that which was about to be: this is the reason why he here cites the Prophets.

But let us look over again what relates to Cornelius. (Recapitulation.) He sent, it says, to Joppa to fetch Peter. “He was waiting for him,” etc; see how fully he believed that Peter would certainly come: (b) “and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.” (v. 24, 25.) (a) Mark how on every side it is shown how worthy he is! (So) the Eunuch there desired Philip to come up and sit in the chariot (ch. 8. 3, although not knowing who he was, upon no other introduction (ἐπαγγελίας) than that given by the Prophet. But here Cornelius fell at his feet. (c) “Stand up, I myself also am a man.” (v. 26.) Observe how free from adulation his speech is on all occasions, and how full of humility. “And conversing with him, he came in.” (a) (v. 27.) Conversing about what? I suppose saying these words: “I myself also am a man.” (e) Do you mark (Peter’s) unassuming temper? He himself also shows that his coming is God’s doing: “Ye know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew,” etc. (v. 28.) And why did he not speak of the linen sheet? Observe Peter’s freedom from all vainglory: but, that he is sent of God, this indeed he mentions; of the manner in which he was sent, he speaks not at present; when the need has arisen, seeing he had said, “Ye know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or to come unto, one of another nation,” he simply adds, “but to me God hath shown,” etc. There is nothing of vainglory here. “All ye,” he says, “know.” He makes their knowledge stand surety for him. But Cornelius says, “We are present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord” (v. 3: not, Before man, but, “Before God.” This is the way one ought to attend to God’s servants. Do you see his awakened mind? do you see how worthy he was of all these things? “And Peter,” it says, “opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” (v. 34.) This he said also by way of justifying himself with the Jews then present. For, being at the point to commit the Word to these (Gentiles), he first puts this by way of apology. What then? Was He “a respecter of persons” beforetime? God forbid! For beforetime likewise it was just the same: “Every one,” as he saith, “that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, would be acceptable to Him.” As when Paul saith, “For when the Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the things of the Law.” (Rom. 2. 14.) “That feareth God and worketh righteousness:” he assumes both doctrine and manner of life: is “accepted with Him;” for, if He did not overlook the Magi, nor the Ethiopian, nor the thief, nor the harlot, much more them that work righteousness, and are willing, shall He in anywise not overlook. “What say you then to this, that there are likely persons (ἐπιεικεἵς), men of mild disposition, and yet they will not believe?” (Above, p. 149, note 2.) Lo, you have yourself named the cause: they will not. But besides the likely person he here speaks of is not this sort of man, but the man “that worketh righteousness:” that is, the man who in all points is virtuous and irreproachable, when he has the fear of God as he ought to have it. But whether a person be such, God only knows. See how this man was acceptable: see how, as soon as he heard, he was persuaded. “Yes, and now too,” say you, “every one would be persuaded, be who he may.” But the signs that are now, are much greater than those, and more wonderful.—Then Peter commences his teaching, and reserves for the Jews the privilege of their birth. “The word,” he says, “which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace (v. 36), not bringing judgment. He is sent to the Jews also: yet for all this He did not spare them. “Preaching peace through Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all.” First he discourses of His being Lord and in exceeding elevated terms, seeing he had to deal with a soul more than commonly elevated, and that took all in with ardor. Then he proves how He was Lord of all, from the things which He achieved “throughout all Judea. For ye know,” saith he, “the matter which came to pass throughout all Judea:” and, what is the wonderful part of it, “beginning at Galilee: after the baptism which John preached.” (v. 37.) First he speaks of His success, and then again he says concerning Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Why, what a stumbling-block, this birthplace! “How God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power.” (v. 38.) Then again the proof—how does that appear?—from the good that He did. “Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil:” and the greatness of the power shown when He overcomes the devil; and the cause, “Because God was with Him.” Therefore also the Jews spake thus: “We know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for none can do these miracles except God be with him.” (John 3. 2.) Then, when he has shown that He was sent from God, he next speaks of this, that He was slain: that thou mayest not imagine aught absurd. Seest thou how far they are from hiding the Cross out of view, nay, that together with the other circumstances they put also the manner? “Whom also,” it says, “they slew by hanging on a tree. And gave Him,” it is added, “to be made manifest not to all the people, but to witnesses before ordained of God, even unto us:” and yet it was (Christ) Himself that elected them; but this also he refers to God. “To the before-ordained,” he says, “even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after that He was risen from the dead.” (v. 39, 41.) See whence he fetches his assurance of the resurrection. What is the reason that being risen he did no sign, but only ate and drank? Because the Resurrection itself was a great sign, and of this nothing was so much a sign as the eating and drinking. “To testify,” saith he—in a manner calculated to alarm—that they may not have it in their power to fall back upon the excuse of ignorance: and he does not say, “that He is the Son of God,” but, what would most alarm them, “that it is He which is ordained of God, to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (v. 42.) “To him give all the Prophets witness,” etc. (v. 43.) When by the terror he has agitated them, then he brings in the pardon, not spoken from himself but from the Prophets. And what is terrifying is from him, what is mild from the Prophets.

All ye that have received this forgiveness, all ye to whom it has been vouchsafed to attain unto faith, learn, I beseech you, the greatness of the Gift, and study not to be insolent to your Benefactor. For we obtained forgiveness, not that we should become worse, but to make us far better and more excellent. Let none say that God is the cause of our evil doings, in that He did not punish, nor take vengeance. If (as it is said) a ruler having taken a murderer, lets him go, say, is he (not) judged to be the cause of the murders afterwards committed? See then, how we expose God to the tongues of the wicked. For what do they not say, what leave unuttered? “(God) Himself,” say they, “allowed them; for he ought to have punished them as they deserved, not to honor them, nor crown them, nor admit them to the foremost privileges, but to punish and take vengeance upon them: but he that, instead of this, honors them, has made them to be such as they are.” Do not, I beseech and implore you, do not let any man utter such speech as far as we are concerned. Better to be buried ten thousand times over, than that God through us should be so spoken of! The Jews, we read, said to (Christ) Himself, “Thou that destroyest the Temple, and in three days buildest it up, come down from the Cross” (Matt. xxvii. 40): and again, “If Thou be the Son of God:” but the reproaches here are more grievous than those, that through us He should be called a teacher of wickedness! Let us cause the very opposite to be said, by having our conversation worthy of Him that calleth us, and (worthily) approaching to the baptism of adoption. For great indeed is the might of baptism (φωτίσματου): it makes them quite other men than they were, that partake of the gift; it does not let the men be men (and nothing more). Make thou the Gentile (τὸν ῞Ελληνα), to believe that great is the might of the Spirit, that it has new-moulded, that it has fashioned thee anew. Why waitest thou for the last gasp, like a runaway slave, like a malefactor, as though it were not thy duty to live unto God? Why dost thou stand affected to Him, as if thou hadst in Him a ruthless, cruel Master? What can be more heartless (ψυχρότερον), what more miserable, than those who make that the time to receive baptism? God made thee a friend, and vouchsafed thee all His good things, that thou mayest act the part of a friend. Suppose you had done some man the greatest of wrongs, had insulted him, and brought upon him disgraces without end, suppose you had fallen into the hands of the person wronged, and he, in return for all this, had honored you, made you partaker of all that he had, and in the assembly of his friends, of those in whose presence he was insulted, had crowned you, and declared that he would hold you as his own begotten son, and then straightway had died: say, would you not have bewailed him? would you not have deemed his death a calamity? would you not have said, Would that he were alive, that I might have it in my power to make the fit return, that I might requite him, that I might show myself not base to my benefactor? So then, where it is but man, this is how you would act; and where it is God, are you eager to be gone, that you may not requite your benefactor for so great gifts? Nay rather, choose the time for coming to Him so that you shall have it in your power to requite Him like for like. True, say you, but I cannot keep (the gift). Has God commanded impossibilities? Hence it is that all is clean reversed, hence that, all the world over, every thing is marred—because nobody makes it his mark to live after God. Thus those who are yet Catechumens, because they make this their object, (how they may defer baptism to the last,) give themselves no concern about leading an upright life: and those who have been baptized (φωτισθεντες), whether it be because they received it as children, or whether it be that having received it in sickness, and afterwards recovered (ἀνενεγκόντες), they had no hearty desire to live on (to the glory of God), so it is, that neither do these make an earnest business of it: nay, even such as received it in health, have little enough to show of any good impression, and warmly affected for the time, these also presently let the fire go out. Why do you flee? why do you tremble? what is it you are afraid of? You do not mean to say that you are not permitted to follow your business? I do not part you from your wife! No, it is from fornication that I bar you. I do not debar you from the enjoyment of your wealth? No, but from covetousness and rapacity. I do not oblige you to empty out all your coffers? No, but to give some small matter according to your means to them that lack, your superfluities to their need, and not even this unrewarded. We do not urge you to fast? We do but forbid you to besot yourselves with drunkenness and gormandizing. The things we would retrench are but the very things which bring you disgrace; things which even here, on this side of hell-fire, you yourselves confess to be things to be shunned and hated. We do not forbid you to be glad and to rejoice? Nay, only rejoice not with a disgraceful and unbecoming merriment. What is it you dread, why are you afraid, why do you tremble? Where marriage is, where enjoyment of wealth, where food in moderation, what matter of sin is there in these things? And yet, they that are without enjoin the opposites to these, and are obeyed. For they demand not according to thy means, but they say, Thou must give thus much: and if thou allege poverty, they will make no account of that. Not so Christ: Give, saith He, of what thou hast, and I inscribe thee in the first rank. Again those say, If thou wilt distinguish thyself, forsake father, mother, kindred, friends, and keep close attendance on the Palace, laboring, toiling, slaving, distracted, suffering miseries without number. Not so Christ; but keep thou, saith He, at home with thy wife, with thy children, and as for thy daily occupations reform and regulate them on the plan of leading a peaceable life, free from cares and from perils. True, say you, but the other promises wealth. Aye, but Christ a kingdom, and more, He promises wealth also with it. For, “Seek ye,” saith He, “the kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6. 3: throwing in, by way of additional boon, what the other holds out as the main thing: and the Psalmist says, he has “never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.” (Ps. xxxvii. 25.) Let us set about practising virtue, let us make a beginning; let us only lay hold on it, and you shall see what the good will be. For surely in these (worldly) objects you do not succeed so without labor, that you should be so faint-hearted for these (higher) objects—that you should say, Those are to be had without labor, these only with toil. Nay,—what need to tell you what is the true state of the case?—those are had only with greater labor. Let us not recoil from the Divine Mysteries, I beseech you. Look not at this, that one who was baptized before thee, has turned out ill, and has fallen from his hope: since among soldiers also we see some not doing their duty by the service, while we see others distinguishing themselves, and we do not look only at the idle ones, but we emulate these, the men who are successful. But besides, consider how many, after their baptism, have of men become angels!

Fear the uncertainty of the future. “As a thief in the night,” so death comes: and not merely as a thief, but while we sleep it sets upon us, and carries us off while we are idling. To this end has God made the future uncertain, that we may spend our time in the practice of virtue, because of the uncertainty of expectation. But He is merciful, say you. How long shall we hear this senseless, ridiculous talk? I affirm not only that God is merciful, but that nothing can be more merciful than He, and that He orders all things concerning us for our good. How many all their life do you see afflicted with the worst form of leprosy! (ἐν ἐλέφαντι διάγοντας, “Elephantiasis,”) how many blind from their earliest youth even to old age! others who have lost their eyesight, others in poverty, others in bonds, others again in the mines, others entombed (καταχωσθέντας) together, others (slaughtered) in wars! These things say you, do not look like mercy. Say, could He not have prevented these things had He wished, yet He permits them? True, say you. Say, those who are blind from their infancy, why are they so? I will not tell you, until you promise me to receive baptism, and, being baptized, to live aright. It is not right to give you the solution of these questions. The preaching is not meant just for amusement. For even if I solve this, on the back of this follows another question: of such questions there is a bottomless deep. Therefore do not get into a habit of looking to have them solved for you: else we shall never stop questioning. For look, if I solve this, I do but lead the way to question upon question, numberless as the snowflakes. So that this is what we learn, rather to raise questions, not to solve the questions that are raised. For even if we do solve them, we have not solved them altogether, but (only) as far as man’s reasoning goes. The proper solution of such questions is faith: the knowing that God does all things justly and mercifully and for the best: that to comprehend the reason of them is impossible. This is the one solution, and another better than this exists not. For say, what is the use of having a question solved? This, that one needs no longer to make a question of the thing which is solved. And if thou get thyself to believe this, that all things are ordered by the Providence of God, Who, for reasons known to Himself, permits some things and actively works others, thou art rid of the need of questioning, and hast gotten the gain of the solution. But let us come back to our subject. Do you not see such numbers of men suffering chastisements? God (say you) permits these things to be. Make the right use of the health of the body, in order to the health of the soul. But you will say, What is the use to me of labors and toil, when it is in my power to get quit of all (my sins) without labor? In the first place, this is not certain. It may happen, that a person not only does not get quit of his sins without labor, but that he departs hence with all his sins upon him. However, even if this were certain, still your argument is not to be tolerated. He has drawn thee to the contests: the golden arms lie there. When you ought to take them, and to handle them, you wish to be ingloriously saved, and to do no good work! Say, if war broke out, and the Emperor were here, and you saw some charging into the midst of the phalanxes of the enemy, hewing them down, dealing wounds by thousands, others thrusting (with the sword’s point), others bounding (now here, now there), others dashing on horseback, and these praised by the Emperor, admired, applauded, crowned: others on the contrary thinking themselves well off if they take no harm, and keeping in the hindmost ranks, and sitting idly there; then after the close of the war, the former sort summoned, honored with the greatest gifts, their names proclaimed by the heralds: while of the latter, not even the name becomes known, and their reward of the good obtained is only that they are safe: which sort would you wish to belong to? Why, if you were made of stone, if you were more stupid even than senseless and lifeless things, would you not ten thousand times rather belong to the former? Yea, I beseech and implore you. For if need were to fall fighting, ought you not eagerly to choose this? See you not how it is with them that have fallen in the wars, how illustrious they are, how glorious? And yet they die a death, after which there is no getting honor from the emperor. But in that other war, there is nothing of the kind, but thou shalt in any wise be presented with thy scars. Which scars, even without persecutions, may it be granted all us to have to exhibit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 24 Acts 10. 44, 46 “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”

Observe God’s providential management. He does not suffer the speech to be finished, nor the baptism to take place upon a command of Peter, but, when He has made it evident how admirable their state of mind is, and a beginning is made of the work of teaching, and they have believed that assuredly baptism is the remission of sins, then forthwith comes the Spirit upon them. Now this is done by God’s so disposing it as to provide for Peter a mighty ground of justification. And it is not simply that the Spirit came upon them, but, “they spake with tongues:” which was the thing that astonished those who had come together. They altogether disliked the matter, wherefore it is that the whole is of God; and as for Peter, it may almost be said, that he is present only to be taught (with them) the lesson, that they must take the Gentiles in hand, and that they themselves are the persons by whom this must be done. For whereas after all these great events, still both in Cæsarea and in Jerusalem a questioning is made about it, how would it have been if these (tokens) had not gone step by step with the progress of the affair? Therefore it is that this is carried to a sort of excess. Peter seizes his advantage, and see the plea he makes of it. “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (v. 47.) Mark the issue to which he brings it; how he has been travailing to bring this forth. So (entirely) was he of this mind! “Can any one, he asks, “forbid water?” It is the language, we may almost say, of one triumphantly pressing his advantage (ἐπεμβαίνοντος) against such as would forbid, such as should say that this ought not to be. The whole thing, he says, is complete, the most essential part of the business, the baptism with which we were baptized. “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (v. 48.) After he has cleared himself, then, and not before, he commands them to be baptized: teaching them by the facts themselves. Such was the dislike the Jews had to it! Therefore it is that he first clears himself, although the very facts cry aloud, and then gives the command. “Then prayed they him”—well might they do so—“to tarry certain days:” and with a good courage thenceforth he does tarry.

“And the Apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” (ch. 11–3.) After such great things, “they of the circumcision contended:” not the Apostles; God forbid! It means, they took no small offence. And see what they allege. They do not say, Why didst thou preach? but, Why didst thou eat with them? But Peter, not stopping to notice this frigid objection—for frigid indeed it is—takes his stand (ἵσταται) on that great argument, If they had the Spirit Itself given them, how could one refuse to give them the baptism? But how came it that in the case of the Samaritans this did not happen, but, on the contrary, neither before their baptism nor after it was there any controversy, and there they did not take it amiss, nay, as soon as they heard of it, sent the Apostles for this very purpose? (ch. 8. 14.) True, but neither in the present case is this the thing they complain of; for they knew that it was of Divine Grace: what they say is, Why didst thou eat with them? Besides, the difference is not so great for Samaritans as it is for Gentiles. Moreover, it is so managed (as part of the Divine plan) that he is accused in this way: on purpose that they may learn: for Peter, without some cause given, would not have related the vision. But observe his freedom from all elation and vainglory. For it says, “But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa, praying:” he does not say why, nor on what occasion: “and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me (v. 4, 5): upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.” (v. 6, 7.) As much as to say, This of itself was enough to have persuaded me—my having seen the linen sheet: but moreover a Voice was added. “But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.” (v. 8.) Do you mark? “I did my part,” says he: “I said, that I have never eaten aught common or unclean:” with reference to this that they said, “Thou wentest in, and didst eat with them.” But this he does not say to Cornelius: for there was no need to mention it to him. “But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.” (v. 9, 10.) The essential points were those (that ensued at Cæsarea); but by these he prepares the way for them. Observe how he justifies himself (by reasons), and forbears to use his authority as teacher. For the more mildly he expresses himself, the more tractable he makes them. “At no time,” says he, “has aught common or unclean entered into my mouth.—And, behold—this too was part of his defence—three men stood at the house in which I was, sent to me from Cæsarea. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting.” (v. 112.) Do you mark that it is to the Spirit the enacting of laws belongs! “And these also accompanied me”—nothing can be more lowly, when he alleges the brethren for witnesses!—“these six men, and we entered into the man’s house: and he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (v. 13, 14.) And he does not mention the words spoken by the Angel to Cornelius, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God, that he may not disgust them; but what says he? “He shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved:” with good reason this is added. Also he says nothing of the man’s fitness (ἐπιεικές). “The Spirit,” he might say, “having sent (me), God having commanded, on the one part having summoned (me) through the Angel, on the other urging (me) on, and solving my doubt about the things, what was I to do?” He says none of these things, however: but makes his strong point of what happened last, which even in itself was an incontrovertible argument. “And as I began to speak,” etc. (v. 15.) Then why did not this happen alone? Of superabundance (ἐκ περιουσίας) this is wrought by God, that it might be shown that the beginning too was not from the Apostle. But had he set out of his own motion, without any of these things having taken place, they would have been very much hurt: so that from the beginning he disposes their minds in his favor**: saying to them, “Who have received the Holy Ghost even as we.” And not content with this, he reminds them also of the words of the Lord: “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” (v. 16.) He means, that no new thing has happened, but just what the Lord foretold. “But there was no need to baptize?” (Comp. p. 158.) But the baptism was completed already. And he does not say, I ordered them to be baptized: but what says he? “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (v. 17.) He shows that he had himself done nothing: for the very thing which we have obtained, he says, that same did those men receive. That he may more effectually stop their mouths, therefore he says, “The like gift.” Do you perceive how he does not allow them to have less: when they believed, says he, the same gift did God give unto them, as He did to us who believed on the Lord, and Himself cleanses them. And he does not say, To you, but to us. Why do you feel aggrieved, when we call them partakers (with us?) “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (v. 18.) Do you mark that it all came of Peter’s discourse, by his admirably skilful way of relating the facts? They glorified God that He had given repentance to themselves (καὶ αὐτοῖς) also: they were humbled by these words. Hence was the door of faith opened thenceforth to the Gentiles. But, if you please, let us look over again what has been said.

“While Peter yet spake,” etc. (Recapitulation.) He does not say that Peter was astonished, but, “They of the circumcision:” since he knew what was in preparation. And yet they ought to have marvelled at this, how they themselves had believed. When they heard that they had believed, they were not astonished, but when God gave them the Spirit. Then “answered Peter and said,” etc. (v. 47.) And therefore it is that he says, “God hath shown that I should not call common or unclean any human being.” (v. 28.) He knew this from the first, and plans his discourse beforehand (with a view to it). Gentiles? What Gentiles henceforth? They were no longer Gentiles, the Truth being come. It is nothing wonderful, he says, if before the act of baptism they received the Spirit: in our own case this same happened. Peter shows that not as the rest either were they baptized, but in a much better way. This is the reason why the thing takes place in this manner, that they may have nothing to say, but even in this way may account them equal with themselves. “And they besought him,” it says, “to tarry certain days.” (v. 48.) “And the Apostles and brethren, etc. And they of the circumcision contended with him.” (ch. 12.) Do you remark how they were not kindly disposed towards him? Saying “Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” (v. 3.) Do you note what zeal they had for the Law? Not Peter’s authority abashed them, not the signs which had taken place, not the success achieved, what a thing it was, the Gentiles having “received the word:” but they contended about those petty things. For if none of those (signs) had taken place, was not the success (itself) enough? But not so does Peter frame his defence: for he was wise, or rather it was not his wisdom, but the Spirit that spake the words. And by the matter of his defence, he shows that in no one point was he the author, but in every point God, and upon Him he casts the whole. “The trance,” he says—“it was He that caused me to fall into it, for “I was in Joppa,” etc.: the vessel—it was He that showed it; I objected: again, He spake, and even then I did not hear: the Spirit commanded me to go, and even then though I went, I did not run: I told that God had sent me, and after these things, even then I did not baptize, but again God did the whole. God baptized them, not I.” And he does not say, Was it not right then to add the water? but, implying that nothing was lacking, “What was I, that I should withstand God?” What a defence is here! For he does not say, Then knowing these things, hold your peace; but what? He stands their attack, and to their impeachment he pleads—“What was I, to be able to hinder God?” It was not possible for me to hinder—a forcible plea indeed, and such as might well put them to shame. Whence being at last afraid, “they held their peace and glorified God.”

In like manner ought we also to glorify God for the good things which befall our neighbors, only not in the way that the rest of the newly-baptized are insulted, when they see others receiving baptism, and immediately departing this life. It, is right to glorify God, even though all be saved: and as for thee, if thou be willing, thou hast received a greater gift (than they): I do not mean in respect of the baptism, for the gift there is the same for him as for thee, but in regard that thou hast received a set time for winning distinction. The other put on the robe, and was not suffered to exhibit himself therewith in the procession, whereas to thee, God hath given full opportunity to use thine arms for the right purpose, thereby to make proof of them. The other goes his way, having only the reward of his faith: thou standest in the course, both able to obtain an abundant recompense for thy works, and to show thyself as much more glorious than he, as the sun is than the smallest star, as the general, nay rather as the Emperor himself, than the lowest soldier. Then blame thyself, or rather not blame, but correct: for it is not enough to blame thyself; it is in thy power to contend afresh. Hast thou been thrown? hast thou taken grievous hurt? Stand up, recover thyself: thou art still in the course, the meeting (θέατρον) is not yet broken up. Do you not see how many that have been thrown in the wrestling have afterwards resumed the combat? Only do not willingly come by thy fall. Dost thou count him a happy man for departing this life? Much rather count thyself happy. Was he released of his sins? But thou, if thou wilt, shalt not only wash away thy sins, but shalt also have achievements (of good works), which in his case is not possible. It is in our power to recover ourselves. Great are the medicinal virtues (φάρμακα) of repentance: let none despair of himself. That man truly deserves to be despaired of, who despairs of himself; that man has no more salvation, nor any hopes. It is not the having fallen into a depth of evils, it is the lying there when fallen, that is dreadful, it is not the having come into such a condition, it is the making light of it that is impious. The very thing that ought to make thee earnest, say, is it this that makes thee reckless? Having received so many wounds, hast thou fallen back? Of the soul, there can be no incurable wound; for the body, there are many such, but none for the soul: and yet for those we cease not in our endeavors to cure them, while for these we are supine. Seest thou not the thief (on the cross), in how short a time he achieved (his salvation)? Seest thou not the Martyrs, in how short a time they accomplished the whole work? “But martyrdom is not to be had nowadays.” True, but there are contests to be had, as I have often told you, if we had the mind. “For they that wish,” says the Apostle, “to live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3. 12.) They that live godly are always undergoing persecution, if not from men, at any rate from evil spirits, which is a more grievous persecution. Yes, and it is in consequence, first and foremost, of ease and comfort, that those who are not vigilant undergo this. Or thinkest thou it is a trifling persecution to be living at ease? This is more grievous than all, this is worse than persecution. For, like a running flux, ease makes the soul languid (χαυνοἵ): and as summer and winter, so persecution and ease. But to show you that this is the worse persecution, listen: it induces sleep in the soul, an excessive yawning and drowsiness, it stirs up the passions on every side, it arms pride, it arms pleasure, it arms anger, envy, vainglory, jealousy. But in time of persecution none of these is able to make a disturbance; but fear, entering in, and plying the lash vigorously, as one does to a barking dog, will not let any of these passions so much as attempt to give tongue. Who shall be able in time of persecution to indulge in vainglory? Who to live in pleasure? Not one: but there is much trembling and fear, making a great calm, composing the harbor into stillness, filling the soul with awe. I have heard from our fathers (for in our own time God grant it may not happen, since we are bidden not to ask for temptation), that in the persecution of old time one might see men that were indeed Christian. None of them cared for money, none for wife, none for children, nor home, nor country: the one great concern with all was to save their lives (or, souls). There were they hiding, some in tombs and sepulchres, some in deserts: yes tender and dainty women too, fighting all the while with constant hunger.

Then think whether any longing for sumptuous and dainty living at all came into the mind of a woman, while in hiding beside a coffin (παρὰ λάρνακι), and waiting for her maid-servant to bring her meal, and trembling lest she should be taken, and lying in her terror as in a furnace: was she even aware that there ever was such a thing as dainty living, that such things as dress and ornaments exist at all (ὅτι κόσμος ὅλως ἐστίν)? Seest thou that now is the persecution, with our passions, like wild beasts, setting upon us on every side? Now is the trying persecution, both in this regard, and especially if it is not even thought to be persecution at all. For this (persecution) has also this evil in it, that being war, it is thought to be peace, so that we do not even arm ourselves against it, so that we do not even rise: no one fears, no one trembles. But if ye do not believe me, ask the heathen, the persecutors, at what time was the conduct of the Christians more strict, at what time were they all more proved? Few indeed had they then become in number, but rich in virtue. For say, what profit is it, that there should be hay in plenty, when there might be precious stones? The amount consists not in the sum of numbers, but in the proved worth. Elias was one: yet the whole world was not worth so much as he. And yet the world consists of myriads: but they are no myriads, when they do not even come up to that one. “Better is one that doeth the will of God, than ten thousand who are transgressors:” for the ten thousands have not yet reached to the one. “Desire not a multitude of unprofitable children.” (Ecclus. 16. 1.) Such bring more blasphemy against God, than if they were not Christians. What need have I of a multitude? It is (only) more food for the fire. This one might see even in the body, that better is moderate food with health, than a (fatted) calf with damage. This is more food than the other: this is food, but that is disease. This too one may see in war: that better are ten expert and brave men, than ten thousand of no experience. These latter, besides that they do no work, hinder also those that do work. The same too one may see to be the case in a ship, viz. that better are two experienced mariners, than ever so great a number of unskilful ones: for these will sink the ship. These things I say, not as looking with an evil eye upon your numbers, but wishing that all of you should be approved men, and not trust in your numbers. Many more in number are they who go down into hell: but greater than it is the Kingdom, however few it contain. As the sand of the sea was the multitude of the people (Israel) yet one man saved them. Moses was but one, and yet he availed more than they all: Joshua was one and he was enabled to do more than the six hundred thousand. Let us not make this our study merely, that (the people) may be many, but rather, that they may be excellent; when this shall have been effected, then will that other follow also. No one wishes at the outset to make a spacious house, but he first makes it strong and sure, then spacious: no one lays the foundations so that he may be laughed at. Let us first aim at this, and then at the other. Where this is, that also will be easy: but where this is not, the other, though it be, is to no profit. For if there be those who are able to shine in the Church, there will soon be also numbers: but where these are not, the numbers will never be good for anything. How many, suppose you, may there be in our city who are likely to be saved (τοὺς σωζομένους)? It is disagreeable, what I am going to say, but I will say it nevertheless. Among all these myriads, there are not to be found one hundred likely to be saved: nay, even as to these, I question it. For think, what wickedness there is in the young, what supineness in the aged! None makes it his duty to look after his own boy, none is moved by anything to be seen in his elder, to be emulous of imitating such an one. The patterns are defaced, and therefore it is that neither do the young become admirable in conduct. Tell not me, “We are a goodly multitude:” this is the speech of men who talk without thought or feeling (ψυχρὥν.) In the concerns of men indeed, this might be said with some show of reason: but where God is concerned, (to say this with regard to Him) as having need of us, can never be allowed. Nay, let me tell you, even in the former case, this is a senseless speech (ψυχρόν). Listen. A person that has a great number of domestics, if they be a corrupt set what a wretched time will he have of it! For him who has none, the hardship, it seems, amounts to this, that he is not waited on: but where a person has bad servants, the evil is, that he is ruining himself withal, and the damage is greater (the more there are of them.) For it is far worse than having to be one’s own servant, to have to fight with others, and take up a (continual) warfare. These things I say, that none may admire the Church because of its numbers, but that we may study to make the multitude proof-worthy; that each may be earnest for his own share of the duty—not for his friends only, nor his kindred as I am always saying, nor for his neighbors, but that he may attract the strangers also. For example, Prayer is going on; there they lie (on bended knees), all the young, stupidly unconcerned (ψυχροὶ), (yes,) and old too: filthy nuisances rather than young men; giggling, laughing outright, talking—for I have heard even this going on—and jeering one another as they lie along on their knees: and there stand you, young man or elder: rebuke them, if you see them (behaving thus): if any will not refrain, chide him more severely: call the deacon, threaten, do what is in your power to do: and if he dare do anything to you, assuredly you shall have all to help you. For who is so irrational, as, when he sees you chiding for such conduct, and them chidden not to take your part? Depart, having received your reward from the Prayer.—In a master’s house, we count those his best-disposed servants, who cannot bear to see any part of his furniture in disorder. Answer me; if at home you should see the silver plate lie tossed out of doors, though it is not your business, you will pick it up and bring it into the house: if you see a garment flung out of its place, though you have not the care of it, though you be at enmity with him whose business it is, yet, out of good-will to the master, will you not put it right? So in the present case. These are part of the furniture: if you see them lying about in disorder, put them to rights: apply to me, I do not refuse the trouble: inform me, make the offender known to me: it is not possible for me to see all: excuse me (in this). See, what wickedness overspreads the whole world! Said I without reason that we are (no better than) so much hay (disorderly as) a troubled sea? I am not talking of those (young people), that they behave thus; (what I complain of, is) that such a sleepy indifference possesses those who come in here, that they do not even correct this misbehavior.

Again I see others stand talking while Prayer is going on; while the more consistent of them (do this) not only during the Prayer, but even when the Priest is giving the Benediction. O, horror! When shall there be salvation? when shall it be possible for us to propitiate God?—Soldiers go to their diversion, and you shall see them, all keeping time in the dance, and nothing done negligently, but, just as in embroidery and painting, from the well-ordered arrangement in each individual part of the composition, there results at once an exceeding harmony and good keeping, so it is here: we have one shield, one head, all of us (in common): and if but some casual point be deranged by negligence, the whole is deranged and is spoilt, and the good order of the many is defeated by the disorder of the one part. And, fearful indeed to think of, here you come, not to a diversion, not to act in a dance, and yet you stand disorderly. Know you not that you are standing in company with angels? with them you chant, with them sing hymns, and do you stand laughing? Is it not wonderful that a thunderbolt is not launched not only at those (who behave thus), but at us? For such behavior might well be visited with the thunderbolt. The Emperor is present, is reviewing the army: and do you, even with His eyes upon you, stand laughing, and endure to see another laughing? How long are we to go on chiding, how long complaining? Ought not such to be treated as very pests and nuisances; as abandoned, worthless reprobates, fraught with innumerable mischiefs, to be driven away from the Church? When will these forebear laughing, who laugh in the hour of the dread Mystery (ἑν ὣρᾳ φρίκης)? when refrain from their trifling, who talk at the instant of the Benediction? Have they no sense of shame before those who are present? have they no fear of God? Are our own idle thoughts not enough for us, is it not enough that in our prayers we rove hither and thither, but laughter also must needs intrude, and bursts of merriment? Is it a theatrical amusement, what is done here? Aye, but, methinks, it is the theatres that do this: to the theatres we owe it that the most of you so refuse to be curbed by us, and to be reformed. What we build up here, is thrown down there: and not only so, but the hearers themselves cannot help being filled with other filthinesses besides: so that the case is just the same as if one should want to clean out a place with a fountain above it discharging mire; for however much you may clean out, more runs in. So it is here. For when we clean people out, as they come here from the theatres with their filthiness, thither they go again, and take in a larger stock of filthiness, as if they lived for the purpose of only giving us trouble, and then come back to us, laden with ordure, in their manners, in their movements, in their words, in their laughter, in their idleness. Then once more we begin shovelling it out afresh, as if we had to do this only on purpose that, having sent them away clean, we may again see them clogging themselves with filth. Therefore I solemnly protest to you, the sound members, that this will be to you judgment and condemnation, and I give you over to God from this time forth, if any having seen a person behaving disorderly, if any having seen any person talking, especially in that part (of the Service), shall not inform against him, not bring him round (to a better behavior). To do this is better than prayer. Leave thy prayer and rebuke him, that thou mayst both do him good, and thyself get profit, and so we may be enabled all to be saved and to attain unto the Kingdom of Heaven, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 25 Acts 1 “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that rose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

The persecution turned out to be no slight benefit as “to them that love God all things work together for good.” (Rom. 8. 28.) If they had made it their express study how best to establish the Church, they would have done no other thing than this—they dispersed the teachers. Mark in what quarters the preaching was extended. “They travelled,” it says, “as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch; to none however did they preach the word but to Jews only.” Dost thou mark with what wise purposes of Providence so much was done in the case of Cornelius? This serves both to justify Christ, and to impeach the Jews. When Stephen was slain, when Paul was twice in danger, when the Apostles were scourged, then the Gentiles received the word, then the Samaritans. Which Paul also declares: “To you it was necessary that the Word of God should first be spoken; but since ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn unto the Gentiles.” (ch. 13. 46.) Accordingly they went about, preaching to Gentiles also. “But some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus:” (v. 20.) for it is likely both that they could now speak Greek, and that there were such men in Antioch. “And the hand of the Lord,” it says, “was with them,” that is, they wrought miracles; “and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” (v. 21.) Do you mark why now also there was heed of miracles (namely) that they might believe? “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.” (v. 22.) What may be the reason that, when such a city received the word, they did not come themselves? Because of the Jews. But they send Barnabas. However, it is no small part of the providential management even so that Paul comes to be there. It is both natural, and it is wisely ordered, that they are averse to him, and (so) that Voice of the Gospel, that Trumpet of heaven, is not shut up in Jerusalem. Do you mark how on all occasions, Christ turns their ill dispositions to needful account and for the benefit of the Church? Of their hatred to the man, He availed Himself for the building up of the Church. But observe this holy man—Barnabas, I mean—how he looked not to his own interests, but hasted to Tarsus. “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” (v. 23, 24.) He was a very kind man, and single-hearted, and considerate (συγγνωμονικός). “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul.” (v. 25.) He came to the athletic wrestler, the general (fit to lead armies), the champion of single combat, the lion—I am at a loss for words, say what I will—the hunting-dog, killer of lions, bull of strength, lamp of brightness, mouth sufficing for a world. “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.” (v. 26.) Verily this is the reason why it was there they were appointed to be called Christians, because Paul there spent so long time! “And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people. And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” No small matter of praise to that city! This is enough to make it a match for all, that for so long a time it had the benefit of that mouth, it first, and before all others: wherefore also it was there in the first place that men were accounted worthy of that name. Do you observe the benefit resulting (to that city) from Paul, to what a height that name, like a standard (σημεἵον), exalted it? Where three thousand, where five thousand, believed, where so great a multitude, nothing of the sort took place, but they were called “they of the way:” here they were called Christians. “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.” (v. 27.) It was need that the fruit of alms should also be planted there. And see how of necessity (ἀναγκαίως) (it comes about that) none of the men of note becomes their teacher. They got for their teachers, men of Cyprus, and Cyrene, and Paul—though he indeed surpassed (the Apostles) themselves—since Paul also had for teachers Ananias and Barnabas. But here of necessity (this was the case). “And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there would be great dearth throughout the world, which also came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar.” (v. 28.) “By the Spirit,” it says: for, that they may not imagine that this was the reason why the famine came, (namely) because Christianity was come in, because the demons were departed, the Holy Ghost foretells it: this, however, was nothing wonderful, for in fact Christ predicted it. Not this was the reason, else this must have been the case from the beginning: but it was because of the evils done to the Apostles—and God had borne long with them; but, when they pressed upon them, a great famine ensues, betokening to the Jews the coming woes. “If it was because of them, in any wise it ought to have stopped (there), when it did exist. What harm had the Gentiles done, that they should have their share in the evils? They ought rather to have been marked as approved (εὐδοκιμἥσαι), because they were doing their part, were slaying, punishing, taking vengeance, persecuting on every side. And mark also at what time the famine comes: precisely when the Gentiles were thenceforth added to the Church. But if, as you say, it was because of the evils (done by the Jews), these ought to have been exempted.” How so? Christ, forestalling this objection, said, “Ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16. 33.) (It is) just as if you should say, They ought not to have been scourged either. “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea.” (v. 29.) Mark how the famine becomes to them the means of salvation, an occasion of alms-giving, a harbinger of many blessing. And (so it might have been) to you, one may say, if you were so minded, but ye would not. But it is predicted, that they might be prepared beforehand for almsgiving. “Unto the brethren which dwelt in Judæa;” for they were enduring great hardships, but before this, they were not suffering from famine. “Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” (v. 30.) Do you mark them, that no sooner do they believe than they bring forth fruit, not only for their own but for those afar off? And Barnabas is sent and Saul, to minister (the same.) Of this occasion (᾽Ενταὕθα) he says (to the Galatians), “And James, Cephas, and John gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, only” (they would) “that we should remember the poor.” (Gal. 2. 9.) James was yet living.

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution,” etc. (Recapitulation.) Do you mark how even in the tribulation instead of falling to lamentations and tears, as we do, they give themselves up to a great and good work? “Travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch,” and there with more security preached the word. “And some of them, which were men of Cyprus and Cyrene,” etc. (v. 20.) And they did not say, “(What), we, Cyrenians and Cyprians, to attack this splendid and great city!” but trusting in the grace of God, they applied themselves to the work of teaching, nor did these (Gentiles) themselves think scorn to learn anything of them. Mark how by small means all is brought about: mark the preaching how it spreads: mark those in Jerusalem, having like care for all, holding the whole world as one house. “They heard that Samaria had received the word, and” (ch. 8. 1 to Samaria they send the Apostles: they heard what had befallen at Antioch, and to Antioch they send Barnabas: they also send again, and (these) prophets. For the distance was great, and it was not meet the Apostles at present should separate from thence, that they might not be thought to be fugitives, and to have fled from their own people. But then, almost precisely, is the time of their parting from Jerusalem, when the state (of the Jews) was shown to be past remedy, when the war was close at hand, and they must needs perish: when the sentence was made absolute. For, until Paul went to Rome, the Apostles were there (at Jerusalem). But they depart, not because afraid of the war—how should it be so?—seeing those they went to, were those that should bring the war: and moreover the war breaks out only after the Apostles were dead. For of them (the Apostles) says, “The wrath is come upon them unto the end.” (1 Thess. 2. 16.) The more insignificant the persons, the more illustrious the grace, working great results by small means.—“And he exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord, for he was a good man.” (v. 23, 24.) By “good man,” I take it, he means one that is kind, (χρηστὸν) sincere, exceedingly desirous of the salvation of his neighbors—“for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. To cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart” (this is said): with encomium and praise. “And much people was added unto the Lord:” for like rich land this city received the word, and brought forth much fruit. “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus,” etc. (v. 25.) But why did he take him off from Tarsus and bring him here? Not without good reason; for here were both good hopes, and a greater city, and a great body of people. See how grace works all, not Paul: by small means the affair was taking its commencement. When it is become difficult the Apostles take it up. Why did they not before this seen Barnabas? Because they had enough to do (ἠσχόληντο) with Jerusalem. Again they justified themselves to the Jews, that the Gentiles were receiving (προσελάμβανε) the word, even without enjoying so great attention. There is about to be a questioning: therefore the affair of Cornelius forestalled it. Then indeed they say, “That we to the Gentiles, and they to the Circumcision.” (Gal. 2. 9.) Observe, henceforth the very stress of the famine introduces the fellowship on the part of the Gentiles, namely, from the alms. For they receive the offerings sent from them.

“Now they which were scattered abroad,” etc. (v. 19) and not as we who pass our time in lamentations and tears, in our calamities; but with more fearlessness they passed their time, as having got to a distance from those hindering them, and as being among men not afraid of the Jews: which also helped. And they came to Cyprus, where they had the sea between them, and greater freedom from anxiety: so they made no account of the fear of men, but (still) they gave the precedence to the regard of the Law: “they spake to Jews only. But there were in Antioch certain men of Cyprus and Cyrene:” these, of all others, least cared for the Jews: “who spake unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus.” (v. 20.) Probably it was because of their not knowing Hebrew, that they called them Greeks. And “when” Barnabas, it says, “came and had seen the grace of God,”—not the diligence of men—“he exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord” (v. 2: and by this he converted more. “And much people was added unto the Lord.” Why do they not write to Paul, but send Barnabas? They did not yet know the virtue of the man: but it is providentially ordered that Barnabas should come. As there was a multitude, and none to hinder, well might the faith grow, and above all because they had no trials to undergo. Paul also preaches, and is no longer compelled to flee. And it is well ordered, that not they speak of the famine, but the prophets. The men of Antioch also did not take it amiss that they sent not the Apostles, but were content with their teachers: so fervent were they all for the word. They did not wait for the famine to come, but before this they sent: “according as each had the ability.” And observe, among the Apostles, others are put in charge with this trust, but here Paul and Barnabas. For this was no small order (οἰκονομία) of Providence. Besides, it was the beginning, and it was not fit they should be offended.

“As each had the ability, they sent.” But now, none does this, although there is a famine more grievous than that. For the cases are not alike, for (all) to bear the calamity in common, and, while all (the rest) abound, for the poorer to be famishing. And the expression shows that the givers also were poor, for, it says, “as each of them had the means.” A twofold famine, even as the abundance is twofold: a severe famine, a famine not of hearing the word of the Lord, but of being nourished by alms. Then, both the poor in Judea enjoyed the benefit, and so did those in Antioch who gave their money; yea, these more than those: but now, both we and the poor are famishing: they being in lack of necessary sustenance, and we in luxurious living, lacking the mercy of God. But this is a food, than which nothing can be more necessary. This is not a food, from which one has to undergo the evils of repletion: not a food, of which the most part ends in the draught. (ἀφεδρὥνα.) Nothing more beauteous, nothing more healthful, than a soul nurtured by this food: it is set high above all disease, all pestilence, all indigestion and distemper: none shall be able to overcome it, (ἑλεἵν) but just as, if one’s body were made of adamant, no iron, nor anything else, would have power to hurt it, even so when the soul is firmly compact by almsgiving, nothing at all shall be able to overcome it. For say, what shall spoil this? Shall poverty? It cannot be, for it is laid up in the royal treasuries. But shall robber and housebreaker? Nay, those are walls which none shall be able to break through. But shall the worm? Nay, this treasure is set far above the reach of this mischief also. But shall envy and the evil eye? Nay, neither by these can it be overcome. But shall false accusations and plottings of evil? No, neither shall this be, for safe as in an asylum is this treasure. But it were a shame should I make it appear as if the advantages which belong to almsgiving were only these (the absence of these evils), and not (the presence of) their opposites. For in truth it is not merely that it is secure from ill-will; it also gets abundant blessing from those whom it benefits. For as the cruel and unmerciful not only have for enemies those whom they have injured, but those also who are not themselves hurt, partake the grief and join in the accusation: so those that have done great good have not only those who are benefited, but those also who are not themselves affected, to speak their praises. Again (that), it is secure from the attacks of the evil-disposed, and robbers, and housebreakers—what, is this all the good, or is it this—that besides the not suffering diminution, it grows also and increases into multitude? What more shameful than Nebuchadnezzar, what more foul, what more iniquitous? The man was impious; after tokens and signs without number he refused to come to his senses (ανενεγκεἵν), but cast the servants of God into a furnace: and (yet) after these doings, he worshipped. What then said the Prophet? “Wherefore,” saith he, “O king let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, ransom (λύτρωσαι) thy sins by alms, and thine iniquities by mercies to the poor: peradventure there shall be pardon for thy transgressions.” (Dan. 3. 27.) In so speaking, he said it not doubting, nay, with entire confidence, but wishing to put him in greater fear, and to make a stronger necessity of doing these things. For if he had spoken it as a thing unquestionable, the king would have been more supine: just as it is with us, we then most urge some person (whom we wish to persuade), when they say to us, “Exhort such an one,” and do not add, “he will be sure to hear,” but only, “peradventure he will hear:” for by leaving it doubtful, the fear is made greater, and urges him the more. This is the reason why the Prophet did not make the thing certain to him. What sayest thou? For so great impieties shall there be pardon? Yes. There is no sin, which alms cannot cleanse, none, which alms cannot quench: all sin is beneath this: it is a medicine adapted for every wound. What worse than a publican? The very matter (ὑπόθεσις) (of his occupation) is altogether one of injustice: and yet Zaccheus washed away all these (sins). Mark how even Christ shows this, by the care taken to have a purse, and to bear the contributions put into it. And Paul also says, “Only that we remember the poor” (Gal. 2. 10): and everywhere the Scripture has much discourse concerning this matter. “The ransom,” it saith, “of a man’s soul is his own wealth” (Prov. 13. 8): and with reason: for, saith (Christ), “if thou wouldest be perfect, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me.” (Matt. 14. 21.) This may well be part of perfection. But alms may be done not only by money, but by acts. For example: one may kindly stand (προστἥναι) by a person (to succor and defend him), one may reach to him a helping hand: the service rendered (προστασία) by acts has often done more good even than money. Let us set to work all the different kinds of almsgiving. Can you do alms by money? Be not slack. Can you by good offices? Say not, Because I have no money, this is nothing. This is a very great point: look upon it as if you had given gold. Can you do it by kind attentions (θεραπείας)? Do this also. For instance, if you be a physician, (give) your skill: for this also is a great matter. Can you by counsel? This (service) is much greater than all: this (alms) is better than all, or it is also more, by how much the gain it has is greater. For in so doing you put away not starvation, but a grievous death. (ch. 3. 6; 6. 4.) With such alms the Apostles above measure abounded: therefore it was that the distribution of money they put into the hands of those after them, themselves exhibiting the (mercy) shown by words. Or is it, think you, a small alms, to a lost, castaway soul, a soul in uttermost jeopardy, possessed by a burning fever (πυρώσεως), to be able to rid it of its disease? For example, do you see one possessed by love of money? Pity the man. Is he in danger of suffocation? Quench his fire. “What if he will not be persuaded?” Do your part, and be not remiss. Have you seen him in bonds?—for wealth is indeed bonds. (Matt. 25. 35 ff.) Go to him, visit him, console him, try to release him of his bonds. If he refuse, he shall bear the blame himself. Have you seen him naked, and a stranger?—for he is indeed naked, and a stranger to heaven. Bring him to your own inn, clothe him with the garment of virtue, give him the city which is in heaven. “What if I myself be naked?” say you. Clothe also yourself first: if you know that you are naked, assuredly you know that you need to be clothed; if you know what sort of nakedness this is. What numbers of women now wear silken apparel but are indeed naked of the garments of virtue! Let their husbands clothe these women. “But they will not admit those garments; they choose to have these.” Then do this also first: induce them to have a longing for those garments: show them that they are naked: speak to them of judgment to come: answer me, what is the clothing we shall need there? But if ye will bear with me, I also will show you this nakedness. He that is naked, when it is cold, shrinks and shudders, and stands there cowering, and with his arms folded: but in summer heat, not so. If then I shall prove to you that your rich men, and rich women, the more they put on, the more naked they are, do not take it amiss. How then, I ask you, when we raise the subject of hell-fire, and of the torments there? Do not these shrink and shudder more than those naked ones? Do they not bitterly groan and condemn themselves? What? when they come to this or that man, and say to him, Pray for me, do they not speak the same words as those (naked wretches)?

Now indeed, after all that we can say, the nakedness is not yet apparent: but it will be plain enough there. How, and in what way? When these silken garments and precious stones shall have perished, and it shall be only by the garments of virtue and of vice that all men are shown, when the poor shall be clad with exceeding glory, but the rich, naked and in disgraceful sort, shall be haled away to their punishments. What more naked (Edd. “more dainty”) than that rich man who arrayed himself in purple? What poorer than Lazarus? Then which of them uttered the words of beggars? which of them was in abundance? Say, if one should deck his house with abundance of tapestry hangings, and himself sit naked within, what were the benefit? So it is in the case of these women. Truly, the house of the soul, the body I mean, they hang round with plenty of garments: but the mistress of the house sits naked within. Lend me the eyes of the soul, and I will show you the soul’s nakedness. For what is the garment of the soul? Virtue, of course. And what its nakedness? Vice. For just as, if one were to strip any decent person, that person would be ashamed, and would shrink and cower out of sight; just so the soul, if we wish to see it, the soul which has not these garments, blushes for shame. How many women, think you, at this moment feel ashamed, and would fain sink to the very depth, as if seeking some sort of curtain, or screen, that they may not hear these words? But those who have no evil conscience, are exhilarated, rejoice, find delight, and gayly deck themselves (ἐγκαλλωπίζονται) with the things said. Hear concerning that blessed Thekla, how, that she might see Paul, she gave even her gold: and thou wilt not give even a farthing that thou mayest see Christ: thou admirest what she did, but dost not emulate her. Hearest thou not that “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy?” (Matt. 5. 7.) What is the gain of your costly garments? how long shall we continue agape for this attire? Let us put on the glory of Christ: let us array ourselves with that beauty, that both here we may be praised, and there attain unto the eternal good things, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 26 Acts 12. 2 “Now at that time Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. Then were the days of unleavened bread.”

“At that time,” of course meaning the time immediately following: for this is the custom of Scripture. And he well says that Herod “the king” (did this): this was not he of Christ’s time. Lo, a different sort of trial—and mark what I said in the beginning, how things are blended, how rest and trouble alternate in the whole texture of the history—not now the Jews, nor the Sanhedrim, but the king. Greater the power, the warfare more severe, the more it was done to obtain favor with the Jews. “And,” it says, “he slew James the brother of John with the sword:” (taking him) at random and without selection. But, should any raise a question, why God permitted this, we shall say, that it was for the sake of these (Jews) themselves: thereby, first, convincing them, that even when slain (the Apostles) prevail, just as it was in the case of Stephen: secondly, giving them opportunity, after satiating their rage, to recover from their madness; thirdly, showing them that it was by His permission this was done. “And when he saw,” it says, “that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. O excessive wickedness! On whose behalf was it, that he gratified them by doing murders thus without plan or reason? “And it was the day of unleavened bread.” Again, the idle preciseness of the Jews: to kill indeed they forbade not, but at such a time they did such things! “Whom having arrested, he put in ward, having delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers.” (v. 4.) This was done both of rage, and of fear. “He slew,” it says, “James the brother of John with the sword.” Do you mark their courage? For, that none may say that without danger or fear of danger they brave death, as being sure of God’s delivering them, therefore he permits some to be put to death, and chief men too, Stephen and James, thereby convincing their slayers themselves, that not even these things make them fall away, and hinder them. “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him.” (v. 5.) For the contest was now for life and death: both the slaying of the one made them fearful, and the casting of the other into prison. “And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains; and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.” (v. 6, 7.) In that night He delivered him. “And a light shined in the prison,” that he might not deem it fancy: and none saw the light, but he only. For if, notwithstanding this was done, he thought it a fancy, because of its unexpectedness; if this had not been, much more would he have thought this: so prepared was he for death. For his having waited there many days and not being saved caused this. Why then, say you, did He not suffer him to fall into the hands of Herod, and then deliver him? Because that would have brought people into astonishment, whereas this was credible: and they would not even have been thought human beings. But in the case of Stephen, what did He not do? Did He not show them his face as it had been the face of an angel? But what in short did He leave undone here also? “And the angel said to him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals.” (v. 8.) Here again it shows, that it was not done of craft: for one that is in haste and wishes to break out (of prison), is not so particular as to take his sandals, and gird himself. “And he did so. And he said unto him, Put on thy cloak, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the Angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of its own accord.” (v. 9, 10.) Behold, a second miracle. “And they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” (v. 10, 11.) When the angel departed, then Peter understood: “Now I perceive,” says he, not then. But why is this so, and why is Peter not sensible of the things taking place, although he had already experienced a like deliverance when all were released? (ch. 5. 18.) (The Lord) would have the pleasure come to him all at once, and that he should first be at liberty, and then be sensible of what had happened. The circumstance also of the chains having fallen off from his hands, is a strong argument of his not having fled. “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” (v. 12.) Observe how Peter does not immediately withdraw, but first brings the good tidings to his friends. “And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness,”—Mark even the servant-girls, how full of piety they are,—“but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.” (v. 13–15.) But they, though it was so, shook their heads (incredulously): “And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. And they said, It is his angel. “But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.” (v. 16, 17.) But let us review the order of the narrative.

(Recapitulation.) “At that time,” it says, “Herod the king stretched forth his hands to afflict certain of the Church.” (v. 1.) Like a wild beast, he attacked all indiscriminately and without consideration. This is what Christ said: “My cup indeed ye shall drink, and with the baptism wherewith I am baptized, shall ye be baptized.” (Mark 10. 39.) (b) “And he killed James the brother of John.” (v. 2.) For there was also another James, the brother of the Lord: therefore to distinguish him, he says, “The brother of John.” Do you mark that the sum of affairs rested in these three, especially Peter and James? (a) And how was it he did not kill Peter immediately? It mentions the reason: “it was the day of unleavened bread:” and he wished rather to make a display (ἐκπομπεὕσαι) with the killing of him. “And when he saw it pleased the Jews.” (v. 3.) For their own part, they now in consequence of Gamaliel’s advice, abstained from bloodshedding: and besides, did not even invent accusations; but by means of others they compassed the same results. (c) This (counsel of Gamaliel’s) above all was their condemnation: for the preaching was shown to be no longer a thing of men. “He proceeded further to kill Peter also.” (ch. 5. 8.) In very deed was that fulfilled, “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Psa. xliv. 13.) “Seeing,” it says, “it was a pleasing thing to the Jews.” (Rom. 8. 36.) A pleasing thing, bloodshed, and unrighteous bloodshed, wickedness, impiety! He ministered to their senseless (ἀτόποις) lusts: for, whereas he ought to have done the contrary, to check their rage, he made them more eager, as if he were an executioner, and not a physician to their diseased minds. (And this) though he had numberless warnings in the case of both his grandfather and his father Herod, how the former in consequence of his putting the children to death suffered the greatest calamities, and the latter by slaying John raised up against himself a grievous war. But as they thought * * He feared lest Peter, in consequence of the slaying of James, should withdraw; and wishing to have him in safe keeping, he put him in prison: “and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers” (v. : the stricter the custody, the more wondrous the display. “Peter therefore was kept in prison.” (v. 5.) But this was all the better for Peter, who was thereby made more approved, and evinced his own manly courage. And it says, “there was earnest prayer making.” It was the prayer of (filial) affection: it was for a father they asked, a father mild. “There was,” it says, “earnest prayer.” Hear how they were affected to their teachers. No factions, no perturbation: but they betook them to prayer, to that alliance which is indeed invincible, to this they betook them for refuge. They did not say, “What? I, poor insignificant creature that I am, to pray for him!” for, as they acted of love, they did not give these things a thought. And observe, it was during the feast, that (their enemies) brought these trials upon them, that their worth might be the more approved. “And when Herod,” etc. (v. 6.) See Peter sleeping, and not in distress or fear! That same night, after which he was to be brought forth, he slept, having cast all upon God. “Between two soldiers, bound with two chains.” (comp. 1 Pet. 5. 7.) Mark, how strict the ward! “And says, Arise.” (v. 7.) The guards were asleep with him, and therefore perceived nothing of what was happening. “And a light shined.” What was the light for? In order that Peter might see as well as hear, and not imagine it to be all fancy. And the command, “Arise quickly,” that he may not be remiss. He also smote him; so deeply did he sleep. (a) “Rise,” says he, “quickly:” this is not to hurry him (θορυβοὕντος) but to persuade him not to delay. (c) “And” immediately “his chains fell off from his hands.” (b) How? answer me: where are the heretics?—let them answer. “And the Angel said unto him,” etc. (v. 8) by this also convincing him that it is no fancy: to this end he bids him gird himself and put on his shoes, that he may shake off his sleep, and know that it is real. (a) (e) “And he wist not that it was true that was done by the Angel, but thought he saw a vision” (v. 9): (e) well he might, by reason of the excessive greatness (ὑπερβολὴν) of the things taking place. Do you mark what a thing it is for a miracle to be excessive (ὑπερβολὴ σημείου)? how it amazes (ἐκπλήττει) the beholder? how it will not let the thing be believed? For if Peter “thought he saw a vision,” though he had girded himself and put on his shoes, what would have been the case with another? “And,” it says, “when they had passed the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate, which opened unto them of its own accord” (v. 10): and yet the things that had happened within (the prison) were more marvellous: but this was now more after the manner of man. “And having gone out, they went along one street and immediately (all ‘until’) the Angel departed from him.” (v. 11.) When there was no hindrance, then the Angel departed. For Peter would not have gone along (προἥλθεν), there being so many hindrances. “And when he came to himself:” for in very truth, it was indeed an amazement (ἔκπληξις). “Now,” saith he, “I know”—now, not then, when I was in the prison,—“that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered” (v. it says: viz. where he was, or, that he must not without more ado depart but requite his Benefactor: “he came to the house of Mary the mother of John.” Who is this John? Probably he that was always with them: for this is why he adds his distinctive name (τὸ παράσημον), “whose surname was Mark.” But observe, “praying” in the night, how much they got by it: what a good thing affliction is; how wakeful it made them! Do you see how great the gain resulting from the death of Stephen? do you see how great the benefit accruing from this imprisonment? For it is not by taking vengeance upon those who wronged them that God shows the greatness of the Gospel: but in the wrong-doers themselves, without any harm happening to those, he shows what a mighty thing the afflictions in themselves are, that we may not seek in any wise deliverance from them, nor the avenging of our wrongs. And mark how the very servant-girls were henceforth upon an equality with them. “For joy,” it says, “she opened not.” (v. 13, 14.) This too is well done, that they likewise may not be amazed by seeing him at once, and that they may be incredulous, and their minds may be exercised. “But ran in,” etc. just as we are wont to do, she was eager to be herself the bringer of the good tidings, for good news it was indeed. “And they said unto her, Thou art mad: but she constantly affirmed that it was even so: then said they, It is his Angel.” (v. 15.) This is a truth, that each man has an Angel. And what would the Angel? It was from the time (of night) that they surmised this. But when he “continued knocking, and when they had opened, and saw him, they were astonished. But he beckoning to them with his hand” (v. 16, 17), made them keep quiet, to hear all that had happened to him. He was now an object of more affectionate desire to the disciples, not only in consequence of his being saved, but by his sudden coming in upon them and straightway departing. Now, both his friends learn all clearly; and the aliens also learn, if they had a mind, but they had not. The same thing happened in the case of Christ. “Tell these things,” he says, “to James, and to the brethren.” How free from all vainglory! Nor did he say, Make known these things to people everywhere, but, “to the brethren. And he withdrew to another place:” for he did not tempt God, nor fling himself into temptation: since, when they were commanded to do this, then they did it. “Go,” it was said, “speak in the temple to the people.” (ch. 5. 20.) But this the Angel said not (here); on the contrary, by silently removing him and bringing him out by night, he gave him free permission to withdraw—and this too is done, that we may learn that many things are providentially brought about after the manner of men—so that he should not again fall into peril.—For that they may not say, “It was his Angel,” after he was gone, they say this first, and then they see himself overthrowing their notion of the matter. Had it been the Angel, he would have knocked at the door, would not have retired to another place. And what followed in the day, make them sure.

“So Peter was kept in the prison,” etc. (v. 5.) They, being at large, were at prayer: he, bound, was in sleep. “And he wist not that it was true.” (v. 9.) If he thought it was true that was happening, he would have been astonished, he would not have remembered (all the circumstances): but now, seeming to be in a dream, he was free from perturbation. “When,” it says, “they were past the first and the second ward”—see also how strong the guard was—“they came unto the iron gate.” (v. 10.) “Now know I that the Lord hath sent His Angel.” (v. 11.) Why is not this effected by themselves? (I answer,) By this also the Lord honors them, that by the ministry of His Angels he rescues them. Then why was it not so in the case of Paul? There with good reason, because the jailer was to be converted, whereas here, it was only that the Apostle should be released. (ch. 16. 25.) And God disposes all things in divers ways. And there too, it is beautiful, that Paul sings hymns, while here Peter was asleep. “And when he had considered, he came to the house of Mary,” etc. (v. 12.) Then let us not hide God’s marvels, but for our own good let us study to display these abroad for the edifying of the others. For as he deserves to be admired for choosing to be put into bonds, so is he worthy of more admiration, that he withdrew not until he had reported all to his friends. “And he said, Tell James and the brethren.” (v. 17.) That they may rejoice: that they may not be anxious. Through these those learn, not those through him: such thought had he for the humbler part!—

Truly, nothing better than affliction not above measure (συμμέτρου). What think you must have been their state of mind—how full of delight! Where now are those women, who sleep the whole night through? Where are those men, who do not even turn themselves in their bed? Seest thou the watchful soul? With women, and children, and maid-servants, they sang hymns to God, made purer than the sky by affliction. But now, if we see a little danger, we fall back. Nothing ever was more splendid than that Church. Let us imitate these, let us emulate them. Not for this was the night made, that we should sleep all through it and be idle. To this bear witness the artisans, the carriers, and the merchants (to this), the Church of God rising up in the midst of the night. Rise thou up also, and behold the quire of the stars, the deep silence, the profound repose: contemplate with awe the order (οἰκονομίαν) of thy Master’s household. Then is thy soul purer: it is lighter, and subtler, and soaring disengaged: the darkness itself, the profound silence, are sufficient to lead thee to compunction. And if also thou look to the heavens studded with its stars, as with ten thousand eyes, if thou bethink thee that all those multitudes who in the daytime are shouting, laughing, frisking, leaping, wronging, grasping, threatening, inflicting wrongs without number, lie all one as dead, thou wilt condemn all the self-willedness of man. Sleep hath invaded and defeated (ἡλεγξεν) nature: it is the image of death, the image of the end of all things. If thou (look out of window and) lean over into the street, thou wilt not hear even a sound: if thou look into the house, thou wilt see all lying as it were in a tomb. All this is enough to arouse the soul, and lead it to reflect on the end of all things.

Here indeed my discourse is for both men and women. Bend thy knees, send forth groans, beseech thy Master to be merciful: He is more moved by prayers in the night, when thou makest the time for rest a time for mourning. Remember what words that king uttered: “I have been weary with my groaning: every night will I wash my bed, I will water my couch with my tears.” (Ps. 6. 6.) However delicate a liver thou mayest be, thou art not more delicate than he: however rich thou mayest be, thou art not richer than David. And again the same Psalmist saith, “At midnight I rose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness.” (Ps. cxix. 62.) No vainglory then intrudes upon thee: how can it, when all are sleeping, and not looking at thee? Then neither sloth nor drowsiness invades thee: how can they, when thy soul is aroused by such great things? After such vigils come sweet slumbers and wondrous revelations. Do this, thou also the man, not the woman only. Let the house be a Church, consisting of men and women. For think not because thou art the only man, or because she is the only woman there, that this is any hindrance. “For where two,” He saith, “are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18. 20.) Where Christ is in the midst, there is a great multitude. Where Christ is, there needs must Angels be, needs must Archangels also and the other Powers be there. Then ye are not alone, seeing ye have Him Who is Lord of all. Hear again the prophet also saying, “Better is one that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors.” (comp. Ecclus. 16. 3.) Nothing more weak than a multitude of unrighteous men, nothing more strong than one man who lives according to the law of God. If thou hast children wake up them also, and let thy house altogether become a Church through the night: but if they be tender, and cannot endure the watching, let them stay for the first or second prayer, and then send them to rest: only stir up thyself, establish thyself in the habit. Nothing is better than that storehouse which receives such prayers as these. Hear the Prophet speaking: “If I remembered Thee upon my bed, I thought upon Thee in the dawn of the morning.” (Ps. lxiii. 7.) But you will say: I have labored much during the day, and I cannot. Mere pretext this and subterfuge. For however much thou hast labored, thou wilt not toil like the smith, who lets fall such a heavy hammer from a great height upon the (metal flying off in) sparks, and takes in the smoke with his whole body: and yet at this work he spends the greater part of the night. Ye know also how the women, if there is need for us to go into the country, or to go forth unto a vigil, watch through the whole night. Then have thou also a spiritual forge, to fashion there not pots or cauldrons, but thine own soul, which is far better than either coppersmith or goldsmith can fashion. Thy soul, waxen old in sins, cast thou into the smelting-furnace of confession: let fall the hammer from on high: that is, the condemnation of thy words (τὥν ῥημάτων τὴν κατάγνωσιν): light up the fire of the Spirit. Thou hast a far mightier craft (than theirs). Thou art beating into shape not vessels of gold, but the soul, which is more precious than all gold, even as the smith hammers out his vessel. For it is no material vessel that thou art working at, but thou art freeing thy soul from all imaginations belonging to this life. Let a lamp be by thy side, not that one which we burn, but that which the prophet had, when he said, “Thy law is a lamp unto my feet.” (Ps. cxix. 105.) Bring thy soul to a red heat, by prayer: when thou seest it hot enough, draw it out, and mould it into what shape thou wilt. Believe me, not fire so effectual to burn off rust, as night prayer to remove the rust of our sins. Let the night-watchers, if no one else, shame us. They, by man’s law, go their rounds in the cold, shouting loudly, and walking through lanes (στενωπὥν) and alleys, oftentimes drenched with rain and (all) congealed with cold, for thee and for thy safety, and the protection of thy property. There is he taking such care for thy property, while thou takest none even for thy soul. And yet I do not make thee go thy rounds in the open air like him, nor shout loudly and rend thy sides: but in thy closet itself, or in thy bedchamber, bend thy knees, and entreat thy Lord. Why did Christ Himself pass a whole night on the mountain? Was it not, that He might be an ensample to us? Then is it that the plants respire, in the night, I mean: and then also does the soul take in the dew even more than they. What the sun has parched by day becomes cool again at night. More refreshing than all dew, the tears of the night descend upon our lusts and upon all heat and fever of the soul, and do not let it be affected in any such way. But if it do not enjoy the benefit of that dew, it will be burnt up in the daytime. But God forbid (it should be so)! Rather, may we all, being refreshed, and enjoying the mercy of God, be freed from the burden of our sins, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 27 Acts 12. 18, “Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Cæsarea, and there abode.”

Some persons, it is likely, are at a loss how to explain it, that God should quietly look on while (His) champions are put to death, and now again the soldiers on account of Peter: and yet it was possible for Him after (delivering) Peter to rescue them also. But it was not yet the time of judgment, so as to render to each according to his deserts. And besides, it was not Peter that put them into his hands. For the thing that most annoyed him was the being mocked; just as in the case of his grandfather when he was deceived by the wise men, that was what made him (feel) cut to the heart—the being (eluded and) made ridiculous. “And having put them to the question,” it says, “he ordered them to be led away to execution.” (Matt. 2. 16.) And yet he had heard from them—for he had put them to the question—both that the chains had been left, and that he had taken his sandals, and that until that night he was with them. “Having put them to the question:” but what did they conceal? Why then did they not themselves also flee? “He ordered them to be led away to execution:” and yet he ought to have marvelled, ought to have been astonished at this. The consequence is, by the death of these men (the thing), is made manifest to all: both his wickedness is exposed to view, and (it is made clear that) the wonder (is) of God. “And he went down from Judea to Cæsarea, and there abode: and Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, ‘It is the voice of a god, and not of a man,’ And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” (v. 20. 23.) * * But see how (the writer) here does not hide these things. Why does he mention this history? Say, what has it to do with the Gospel, that Herod is incensed with the Tyrians and Sidonians? It is not a small matter, even this, how immediately justice seized him; although not because of Peter, but because of his arrogant speaking. And yet, it may be said, if those shouted, what is that to him? Because he accepted the acclamation, because he accounted himself to be worthy of the adoration. Through him those most receive a lesson, who so thoughtlessly flattered him (al. οἱ κολακεύοντες). Observe again, while both parties deserve punishment, this man is punished. For this is not the time of judgment, but He punishes him that had most to answer for, leaving the others to profit by this man’s fate. “And the word of God,” it says, “grew,” i.e. in consequence of this, “and multiplied.” (v. 24.) Do you mark God’s providential management? “But Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.” (v. 25.) “Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaën, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” (ch. 13. 1.) He still mentions Barnabas first: for Paul was not yet famous, he had not yet wrought any sign. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (v. 2, 3.) What means, “Ministering?” Preaching. “Separate for Me,” it says, “Barnabas and Saul.” What means, “Separate for Me?” For the work, for the Apostleship. See again by what persons he is ordained (γυμνοτέρα. Cat. σεμνοτέρα, “more awful.”) By Lucius the Cyrenean and Manaën, or rather, by the Spirit. The less the persons, the more palpable the grace. He is ordained henceforth to Apostleship, so as to preach with authority. How then does he himself say, “Not from men, nor by man?” (Gal. 1.) Because it was not man that called or brought him over: this is why he says, “Not from men. Neither by man,” that is, that he was not sent by this (man), but by the Spirit. Wherefore also (the writer) thus proceeds: “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” (v. 4.) But let us look over again what has been said.

(Recapitulation.) “And when it was day,” etc. (v. 18.) For if the Angel had brought out the soldiers also, along with Peter, it would have been thought a case of flight. Then why, you may ask, was it not otherwise managed? Why, where is the harm? Now, if we see that they who have suffered unjustly, take no harm, we shall not raise these questions. For why do you not say the same of James? Why did not (God) rescue him? “There was no small stir among the soldiers.” So (clearly) had they perceived nothing (of what had happened). Lo, I take up the plea in their defence. The chains were there, and the keepers within, and the prison shut, nowhere a wall broken through, all told the same tale: the man had been carried off: why dost thou condemn them? Had they wished to let him off, they would have done it before, or would have gone out with him. “But he gave them money?” (ch. 3. 6.) And how should he, who had not to give even to a poor man, have the means to give to these? And then neither had the chains been broken, nor were they loosed. He ought to have seen, that the thing was of God, and no work of man. “And he went down from Judea to Cæsarea, and there abode. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon,” etc. (v. 19.) He is now going to mention (a matter of) history: this is the reason why he adds the names, that it may be shown how he keeps to the truth in all things. “And,” it says, “having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, they desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.” (v. 20, 21.) For probably there was a famine. “And on a set day,” etc. (Joseph. Ant. xix.) Josephus also says this, that he fell into a lingering disease. Now the generality were not aware of this, but the Apostle sets it down: yet at the same time their ignorance was an advantage, in regard that they imputed what befell (Agrippa) to his putting James and the soldiers to death. Observe, when he slew the Apostle, he did nothing of this sort but when (he slew) these; in fact he knew not what to say about it: as being at a loss, then, and feeling ashamed, “he went down from Judea to Cæsarea.” I suppose it was also to bring those (men of Tyre and Sidon) to apologize, that he withdrew (from Jerusalem): for with those he was incensed, while paying such court to these. See how vainglorious the man is: meaning to confer the boon upon them, he makes an harangue. But Josephus says, that he was also arrayed in a splendid robe made of silver. Observe both what flatterers those were, and what a high spirit was shown by the Apostles: the man whom the whole nation so courted, the same they held in contempt. (v. 24.) But observe again a great refreshing granted to them, and the numberless benefits accruing from the vengeance inflicted upon him. But if this man, because it was said to him, “It is the voice of God and not of a man (v. 2 although he said nothing himself, suffered such things: much more should Christ, had He not Himself been God (have suffered) for saying always as He did, “These words of mine are not Mine” (John 14. 10; 18. 36) and, “Angels minister to Me,” and such like. But that man ended His life by a shameful and miserable death, and thenceforth no more is seen of him. And observe him also, easily talked over even by Blastus, like a poor creature, soon incensed and again pacified, and on all occasions a slave of the populace, with nothing free and independent about him. But mark also the authority of the Holy Ghost: “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul.” (ch. 13. 2.) What being would have dared, if not of the same authority, to say this? “Separate,” etc. But this is done, that they may not keep together among themselves. The Spirit saw that they had greater power, and were able to be sufficient for many. And how did He speak to them? Probably by prophets: therefore the writer premises, that there were prophets also. And they were fasting and ministering: that thou mayest learn that there was need of great sobriety. In Antioch he is ordained, where he preaches. Why did He not say, Separate for the Lord, but, “For me?” It shows that He is of one authority and power. “And when they had fasted,” etc. Seest thou what a great thing fasting is? “So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost:” it shows that the Spirit did all.

A great, yes a great good is fasting: it is circumscribed by no limits. When need was to ordain, then they fast: and to them while fasting, the Spirit spake. Thus much only do I enjoin: (I say) not fast, but abstain from luxury. Let us seek meats to nourish, not things to ruin us; seek meats for food, not occasions of diseases, of diseases both of soul and body: seek food which hath comfort, not luxury which is full of discomfort: the one is luxury, the other mischief; the one is pleasure, the other pain; the one is agreeable to nature, the other contrary to nature. For say, if one should give thee hemlock juice to drink, would it not be against nature? if one should give thee logs and stones, wouldest thou not reject them? Of course, for they are against nature. Well, and so is luxury. For just as in a city, under an invasion of enemies when there has been siege and tumult, great is the uproar, so is it in the soul, under invasion of wine and luxury. “Who hath woe? who hath tumults? who hath discomforts and babblings? Are they not they that tarry long at the wine? Whose are bloodshot eyes?” (Prov. 28. 29, 30.) But yet, say what we will, we shall not bring off those who give themselves up to luxury, unless we bring into conflict therewith a different affection. And first, let us address ourselves to the women. Nothing uglier than a woman given to luxury, nothing uglier than a woman given to drink. The bloom of her complexion is faded: the calm and mild expression of the eyes is rendered turbid, as when a cloud intercepts the rays of the sunshine. It is a vulgar, (ἀνελεύθερον) slave-like, thoroughly low-lived habit. How disgusting is a woman when from her breath you catch sour whiffs of fetid wine: a woman belching, giving out a fume (χυμὸν) of decomposing meats; herself weighed down, unable to keep upright; her face flushed with an unnatural red; yawning incessantly, and everything swimming in a mist before her eyes! But not such, she that abstains from luxurious living: no (this abstinence makes her look) a more beautiful, well-bred (σωφρονεστέρα) woman. For even to the body, the composure of the soul imparts a beauty of its own. Do not imagine that the impression of beauty results only from the bodily features. Give me a handsome girl, but turbulent (τεταραγμένην), loquacious, railing, given to drink, extravagant, (and tell me) if she is not worse-looking than any ugly woman? But if she were bashful, if she would hold her peace, if she learnt to blush, if to speak modestly (συμμέτρως), if to find time for fastings; her beauty would be twice as great, her freshness would be heightened, her look more engaging, fraught with modesty and good breeding (σωφροσύνης καὶ κοσμιότητος). Now then, shall we speak of men? What can be uglier than a man in drink? He is an object of ridicule to his servants, of ridicule to his enemies, of pity to his friends; deserving condemnation without end: a wild beast rather than a human being; for to devour much food is proper to panther, and lion, and bear. No wonder (that they do so), for those creatures have not a reasonable soul. And yet even they, if they be gorged with food more than they need, and beyond the measure appointed them by nature, get their whole body ruined by it: how much more we? Therefore hath God contracted our stomach into a small compass; therefore hath He marked out a small measure of sustenance, that He may instruct us to attend to the soul.

Let us consider our very make, and we shall see there is in us but one little part that has this operation—for our mouth and tongue are meant for singing hymns, our throat for voice—therefore the very necessity of nature has tied us down, that we may not, even involuntarily, get into much trouble (πραγματείαν) (in this way). Since, if indeed luxurious living had not its pains, nor sickness and infirmities, it might be tolerated: but as the case is, He hath stinted thee by restrictions of nature, that even if thou wish to exceed, thou mayest not be able to do so. Is not pleasure thine object, beloved? This thou shalt find from moderation. Is not health? This too thou shalt so gain. Is not easiness of mind? This too. Is not freedom? is not vigor and good habit of body, is not sobriety and alertness of mind? (All these thou shalt find); so entirely are all good things there, while in the other are the contraries to these, discomfort, distemper, disease, embarrassment—waste of substance (ἀνελευθερία). Then how comes it, you will ask, that we all run eagerly after this? It comes of disease. For say, what is it that makes the sick man hanker after the thing that does him harm? Is not this very hankering a part of his disease? Why is it that the lame man does not walk upright? This very thing, does it come of his being lazy, and not choosing to go to the physician? For there are some things, in which the pleasure they bring with them is temporary, but lasting the punishment: others just the contrary, in which the endurance is for a time, the pleasure perpetual. He, therefore, that has so little solidity and strength of purpose as not to slight present sweets for future, is soon overcome. Say, how came Esau to be overcome? how came he to prefer the present pleasure to the future honor? Through want of solidity and firmness of character. (Gen. 25. 33.) And this fault itself, say you, whence comes it? Of our ownselves: and it is plain from this consideration. When we have the mind, we do rouse ourselves, and become capable of endurance. Certain it is, if at any time necessity comes upon us, nay, often only from a spirit of emulation, we get to see clearly what is useful for us. When therefore thou art about to indulge in luxury, consider how brief the pleasure, consider the loss—for loss it is indeed to spend so much money to one’s own hurt—the diseases, the infirmities: and despise luxury. How many shall I enumerate who have suffered evils from indulgence? Noah was drunken, and was exposed in his nakedness, and see what evils came of this. (Gen. 9. 20.) Esau through greediness abandoned his birthright, and was set upon fratricide. The people of Israel “sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” (Ex. xxxii. 6.) Therefore saith the Scripture, “When thou hast eaten and drunken, remember the Lord thy God.” (Deut. 6. 12.) For they fell over a precipice, in failing into luxury. “The widow,” he saith, “that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth” (1 Tim. 5. 6): and again, “The beloved waxed sleek, grew thick, and kicked” (Deut. xxxii. 15): and again the Apostle, “Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Rom. 13. 14.) I am not enacting as a law that there shall be fasting, for indeed there is no one who would listen; but I am doing away with daintiness, I am cutting off luxury for the sake of your own profit: for like a winter torrent, luxury overthrows all: there is nothing to stop its course: it casts out from a kingdom: what is the gain of it (τί τὸ πλέον)? Would you enjoy a (real) luxury? Give to the poor; invite Christ, so that even after the table is removed, you may still have this luxury to enjoy. For now, indeed, you have it not, and no wonder: but then you will have it. Would you taste a (real) luxury? Nourish your soul, give to her of that food to which she is used: do not kill her by starvation.—It is the time for war, the time for contest: and do you sit enjoying yourself? Do you not see even those who wield sceptres, how they live frugally while abroad on their campaigns? “We wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6. and are you fattening yourself when about to wrestle? The adversary stands grinding his teeth, and are you giving a loose to jollity, and devoting yourself to the table? I know that I speak these things in vain, yet not (in vain) for all. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8. 8.) Christ is pining through hunger, and are you frittering yourself away (διασπᾅς) with gluttony? Two inconsistencies (Δύο ἀμετρίαι). For what evil does not luxury cause? It is contrary to itself: so that I know not how it gets its name: but just as that is called glory, which is (really) infamy, and that riches, which in truth is poverty, so the name of luxury is given to that which in reality is nauseousness. Do we intend ourselves for the shambles, that we so fatten ourselves? Why cater for the worm that it may have a sumptuous larder? Why make more of their humors (ἰχὥρας)? Why store up in yourself sources of sweat and rank smelling? Why make yourself useless for everything? Do you wish your eye to be strong? Get your body well strung? For in musical strings, that which is coarse and not refined, is not fit to produce musical tones, but that which has been well scraped, stretches well, and vibrates with full harmony. Why do you bury the soul alive? why make the wall about it thicker? Why increase the reek and the cloud, with fumes like a mist steaming up from all sides? If none other, let the wrestlers teach you, that the more spare the body, the stronger it is: and (then) also the soul is more vigorous. In fact, it is like charioteer and horse. But there you see, just as in the case of men giving themselves to luxury, and making themselves plump, so the plump horses are unwieldy, and give the driver much ado. One may think one’s self (ἀγαπητὸν) well off, even with a horse obedient to the rein and well-limbed, to be able to carry off the prize: but when the driver is forced to drag the horse along, and when the horse falls, though he goad him ever so much, he cannot make him get up, be he ever so skilful himself, he will be deprived of the victory. Then let us not endure to see our soul wronged because of the body, but let us make the soul herself more clear-sighted, let us make her wing light, her bonds looser: let us feed her with discourse, with frugality, (feeding) the body only so much that it may be healthy, that it may be vigorous, that it may rejoice and not be in pain: that having in this sort well ordered our concerns, we may be enabled to lay hold upon the highest virtue, and to attain unto the eternal good things by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 28 Acts 13. 4, 5 “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.”

As soon as they were ordained they went forth, and hasted to Cyprus, that being a place where was no ill-design hatching against them, and where moreover the Word had been sown already. In Antioch there were (teachers) enough, and Phœnice too was near to Palestine; but Cyprus not so. However, you are not to make a question of the why and wherefore, when it is the Spirit that directs their movements: for they were not only ordained by the Spirit, but sent forth by Him likewise. “And when they were come to Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.” Do you mark how they make a point of preaching the word to them first, not to make them more contentious? The persons mentioned before “spake to none but to Jews only” (ch. 119), and so here they betook them to the synagogues. “And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus: which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.” (v. 6–8.) Again a Jew sorcerer, as was Simon. And observe this man, how, while they preached to the others, he did not take it much amiss, but only when they approached the proconsul. And then in respect of the proconsul the wonder is, that although prepossessed by the man’s sorcery, he was nevertheless willing to hear the Apostles. So it was with the Samaritans: and from the competition (συγκρίσεως) the victory appears, the sorcery being worsted. Everywhere, vainglory and love of power are a (fruitful) source of evils! “But Saul, who is also Paul,”—(v. 9) here his name is changed at the same time that he is ordained, as it was in Peter’s case,—“filled with the Holy Ghost, looked upon him, and said, O full of all guile and all villany, thou child of the devil:” (v. 10) and observe, this is not abuse, but accusation: for so ought forward, impudent people to be rebuked “thou enemy of all righteousness;” here he lays bare what was in the thoughts of the man, while under pretext of saving he was ruining the proconsul: “wilt thou not cease,” he says, “to pervert the ways of the Lord?” (He says it) both confidently (αξιοπίστως), It is not with us thou art warring, nor art thou fighting (with us), but “the ways of the Lord” thou art perverting, and with praise (of these, he adds) “the right” ways. “And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind.” (v. 11.) It was the sign by which he was himself converted, and by this he would fain convert this man. As also that expression, “for a season,” puts it not as an act of punishing, but as meant for his conversion: had it been for punishment, he would have made him lastingly blind, but now it is not so, but “for a season” (and this), that he may gain the proconsul. For, as he was prepossessed by the sorcery, it was well to teach him a lesson by this infliction (and the sorcerer also), in the same way as the magicians (in Egypt) were taught by the boils. (Ex. 9. 11.) “And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness: and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” (v. 12.) But observe, how they do not linger there, as (they might have been tempted to do) now that the proconsul was a believer, nor are enervated by being courted and honored, but immediately keep on with their work, and set out for the country on the opposite coast. “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.” (v. 13, 14.) And here again they entered the synagogues, in the character of Jews, that they might not be treated as enemies, and be driven away: and in this way they carried the whole matter successfully. “And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” (v. 15.) From this point, we learn the history of Paul’s doings, as in what was said above we have learned not a little about Peter. But let us review what has been said.

(Recapitulation.) “And when they were come to Salamis,” the metropolis of Cyprus, “they preached the word of God.” (v. 5.) They had spent a year in Antioch: it behooved that they should go hither also (to Cyprus) and not sit permanently where they were (the converts in Cyprus): needed greater teachers. See too how they remain no time in Seleucia, knowing that (the people there) might have reaped much benefit from the neighboring city (of Antioch): but they hasten on to the more pressing duties. When they came to the metropolis of the island, they were earnest to disabuse (διορθωσαι) the proconsul. But that it is no flattery that (the writer) says, “he was with the proconsul, a prudent man” (v. 7), you may learn from the facts; for he needed not many discourses, and himself wished to hear them. And he mentions also the names. * * * Observe, how he said nothing to the sorcerer, until he gave him an occasion: but they only “preached the word of the Lord.” Since (though Elymas) saw the rest attending to them, he looked only to this one object, that the proconsul might not be won over. Why did not (Paul) perform some other miracle? Because there was none equal to this, the taking the enemy captive. And observe, he first impeaches, and then punishes, him. He shows how justly the man deserved to suffer, by his saying, “O full of all deceit” (v. 10): (“full of all,”) he says: nothing wanting to the full measure: and he well says, of all “deceit,” for the man was playing the part of a hypocrite.—“Child of the devil,” because he was doing his work: “enemy of all righteousness,” since this (which they preached) was the whole of righteousness (though at the same time): I suppose in these words he reproves his manner of life. His words were not prompted by anger, and to show this, the writer premises, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” that is, with His operation. “And now behold the hand of the Lord is upon thee.” (v. 11.) It was not vengeance then, but healing: for it is as though he said: “It is not I that do it, but the hand of God.” Mark how unassuming! No “light,” as in the case of Paul, “shone round about him.” (ch. 9. 3.) “Thou shalt be blind,” he says, “not seeing the sun for a season,” that he may give him opportunity for repentance: for we nowhere find them wishing to be made conspicuous by the more stern (exercise of their authority), even though it was against enemies that this was put forth: in respect of those of their own body (they used severity), and with good reason, but in dealing with those without, not so; that (the obedience of faith) might not seem to be matter of compulsion and fear. It is a proof of his blindness, his “seeking some to lead him by the hand.” (ch. 5. ff.) And the proconsul sees the blindness inflicted, “and when he saw what was done, he believed:” and both alone believed not merely this, but, “being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord” (v. he saw that these things were not mere words, nor trickery. Mark how he loved to receive instruction from his teachers, though he was in a station of so high authority. And (Paul) said not to the sorcerer, “Wilt thou not cease to pervert” the proconsul? What may be the reason of John’s going back from them? For “John,” it says, “departing from them returned to Jerusalem” (v. (he does it) because they are undertaking a still longer journey: and yet he was their attendant, and as for the danger, they incurred it (not he).—Again, when they were come to Perga, they hastily passed by the other cities, for they were in haste to the metropolis, Antioch. And observe how concise the historian is. “They sat down in the synagogue,” he says, and, “on the sabbath day” (v. 14, 15): that they might prepare the way beforehand for the Word. And they do not speak first, but when invited: since as strangers, they called upon them to do so. Had they not waited, there would have been no discourse. Here for the first time we have Paul preaching. And observe his prudence: where the word was already sown, he passes on: but where there was none (to preach), he makes a stay: as he himself writes: “Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named.” (Rom. 15. 20.) Great courage this also. Truly, from the very outset, a wonderful man! crucified, ready for all encounters (παρατεταγμένος), he knew how great grace he had obtained, and he brought to it zeal equivalent. He was not angry with John: for this was not for him: but he kept to the work, he quailed not, he was unappalled, when shut up in the midst of a host. Observe how wisely it is ordered that Paul should not preach at Jerusalem: the very hearing that he is become a believer, this of itself is enough for them; for him to preach, they never would have endured, such was their hatred of him: so he departs far away, where he was not known. But it is well done, that “they entered the synagogue on the sabbath day” when all were collected together. “And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word or exhortation for the people, say on.” (v. 15.) Behold how they do this without grudging, but no longer after this. If ye did wish this (really), there was more need to exhort.

He first convicted the sorcerer (and showed), what he was; and that he was such, the sign showed: “thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun” this was a sign of the blindness of his soul: “for a season” (v. he says, to bring him to repentance. But, oh that love of rule! oh, that lust of vainglory! how it does overturn and ruin everything; makes people stand up against their own, against each other’s salvation; renders them blind indeed, and dark, insomuch that they have even to seek for some to lead them by the hand! Oh that they did even this, oh that they did seek were it but some to lead them by the hand! But no, they no longer endure this, they take the whole matter into their own hands. (This vice) will let no man see: like a mist and thick darkness it spreads itself over them, not letting any see through it. What pleas shall we have to offer, we who for one evil affection, overcome another evil affection (supra p. 176), but not for the fear of God! For example, many who are both lewd and covetous, have for their niggardliness put a bridle upon their lust, while other such, on the contrary, have for pleasure’s sake, despised riches. Again, those who are both the one and the other, have by the lust of vainglory overcome both, lavishing their money unsparingly, and practising temperance to no (good) purpose; others again, who are exceedingly vainglorious, have despised that evil affection, submitting to many vile disgraces for the sake of their amours, or for the sake of their money: others again, that they may satiate their anger, have chosen to suffer losses without end, and care for none of them, provided only they may work their own will. And yet, what passion can do with us, the fear of God is impotent to effect! Why speak I of passion? What shame before men can do with us, the fear of God has not the strength to effect! Many are the things we do right and wrong, from a feeling of shame before men; but God we fear not. How many have been shamed by regard to the opinions of men into flinging away money! How many have mistakenly made it a point of honor to give themselves up to the service of their friends (only), to their hurt! How many from respect for their friendships have been shamed into numberless wrong acts! Since then both passion and regard for the opinion of men are able to put us upon doing wrong things and right, it is idle to say, “we cannot:” we can, if we have the mind: and we ought to have the mind. Why canst not thou overcome the love of glory, when others do overcome it, having the same soul as thou, and the same body; bearing the same form, and living the same life? Think of God, think of the glory that is from above: weigh against that the things present, and thou wilt quickly recoil from this worldly glory. If at all events thou covet glory, covet that which is glory, indeed. What kind of glory is it, when it begets infamy? What kind of glory, when it compels one to desire the honor of those who are inferior, and stands in need of that? Real honor is the gaining the esteem of those who are greater than one’s self. If at all events thou art enamoured of glory, be thou rather enamoured of that which comes from God. If enamoured of that glory thou despisest this world’s glory, thou shalt see how ignoble this is: but so long as thou seest not that glory, neither wilt thou be able to see this, how foul it is, how ridiculous. For as those who are under the spell of some wicked, hideously ugly woman, so long as they are in love with her, cannot see her ill-favoredness, because their passion spreads a darkness over their judgment: so is it here also: so long as we are possessed with the passion, we cannot perceive what a thing it is. How then might we be rid of it? Think of those who (for the sake of glory) have spent countless sums, and now are none the better for it: think of the dead, what glory they got, and (now) this glory is nowhere abiding, but all perished and come to naught: bethink thee how it is only a name, and has nothing real in it. For say, what is glory? give me some definition. “The being admired by all,” you will say. With justice, or also not with justice? For if it be not with justice, this is not admiration, but crimination (κατηγορία), and flattery, and misrepresentation (διαβολή). But if you say, With justice, why that is impossible: for in the populace there are no right judgments; those that minister to their lusts, those are the persons they admire. And if you would (see the proof of this), mark those who give away their substance to the harlots, to the charioteers, to the dancers. But you will say, we do not mean these, but those who are just and upright, and able to do great and noble good acts. Would that they wished it, and they soon would do good: but as things are, they do nothing of the kind. Who, I ask you, now praises the just and upright man? Nay, it is just the contrary. Could anything be more preposterous than for a just man, when doing any such good act, to seek glory of the many—as if an artist of consummate skill, employed upon an Emperor’s portrait, should wish to have the praises of the ignorant! Moreover, a man who looks for honor from men, will soon enough desist from the acts which virtue enjoins. If he will needs be gaping for their praises, he will do just what they wish, not what himself wishes. What then would I advise you? You must look only to God, to the praise that is from Him, perform all things which are pleasing to Him, and go after the good things (that are with Him), not be gaping for anything that is of man: for this mars both fasting and prayer and alms-giving, and makes all our good deeds void. Which that it be not our case, let us flee this passion. To one thing alone let us look, to the praise which is from God, to the being accepted of Him, to the commendation from our common Master; that, having passed through our present life virtuously, we may obtain the promised blessings together with them that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 29 Acts 13. 16, “Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought He them out of it.”

Behold Barnabas giving place to Paul—how should it be otherwise?—to him whom he brought from Tarsus; just as we find John on all occasions giving way to Peter: and yet Barnabas was more looked up to than Paul: true, but they had an eye only to the common advantage. “Then Paul stood up,” it says;—this was a custom of the Jews—“and beckoned with his hand.” And see how he prepares the way beforehand for his discourse: having first praised them, and showed his great regard for them in the words, “ye that fear God,” he so begins his discourse. And he says not, Ye proselytes, since it was a term of disadvantage. “The God of this people chose our fathers: and the people”—See, he calls God Himself their God peculiarly, Who is the common God of men; and shows how great from the first were His benefits, just as Stephen does. This they do to teach them, that now also God has acted after the same custom, in sending His own Son; (Luke 20. as (Christ) Himself (does) in the parable of the vineyard—“And the people,” he says, “He exalted when it sojourned in the land of Egypt”—and yet the contrary was the case: true, but they increased in numbers; moreover, the miracles were wrought on their account: “and with an high arm brought He them out of it.” Of these things (the wonders) which were done in Egypt, the prophets are continually making mention. And observe, how he passes over the times of their calamities, and nowhere brings forward their faults, but only God’s kindness, leaving those for themselves to think over. “And about the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness.” (v. 18.) Then the settlement. “And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He divided their land to them by lot.” (v. 19.) And the time was long; four hundred and fifty years. “And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” (v. 20.) Here he shows that God varied His dispensations towards them (at divers times). “And afterward they desired a king:” and (still) not a word of their ingratitude, but throughout he speaks of the kindness of God. “And God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.” (v. 21.) “And when he had removed him, He raised up unto them David to be their king: to whom also He gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” (v. 22, 23.) This was no small thing that Christ should be from David. Then John bears witness to this: “When John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not He. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose.” (v. 24, 25.) And John too not merely bears witness (to the fact), but (does it in such sort that) when men were bringing the glory to him, he declines it: for it is one thing (not to affect) an honor which nobody thinks of offering; and another, to reject it when all men are ready to give it, and not only to reject it, but to do so with such humility. “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain.” (v. 26–28.) On all occasions we find them making a great point of showing this, that the blessing is peculiarly theirs, that they may not flee (from Christ), as thinking they had nothing to do with Him, because they had crucified Him. “Because they knew Him not,” he says: so that the sin was one of ignorance. See how he gently makes an apology even on behalf of those (crucifiers). And not only this: but he adds also, that thus it must needs be. And how so? “By condemning Him, they fulfilled the voices of the prophets.” Then again from the Scriptures. “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead. And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people—”(v. 29–3 that He rose again. “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He, Whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (v. 32–39.) Observe how Paul here is more vehement in his discourse: we nowhere find Peter saying this. Then too he adds the terrifying words: “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (v. 40, 41.)

(a) Observe how he twines (the thread of) his discourse (alternately) from things present, from the prophets. Thus, “from (this man’s) seed according to the promise”—(v. 2: (c) the name of David was dear to them; well then, is it not (a thing to be desired) that a son of his, he says, should be their king?—(b) then he adduces John: then again the prophets, where he says, “By condemning they fulfilled,” and again, “All that was written:” then the Apostles as witnesses of the Resurrection: then David bearing witness. For neither the Old Testament proofs seemed so cogent when taken by themselves as they are in this way, nor yet the latter testimonies apart from the former: wherefore he makes them mutually confirm each other. “Men and brethren,” etc. (v. 26.) For since they were possessed by fear, as having slain Him, and conscience made them aliens (the Apostles), discourse not with them as unto Christicides, neither as putting into their hands a good which was not theirs, but one peculiarly their own. (d) “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers:” as much as to say, not ye, but they: and again, apologizing even for those, “Because they knew Him not, and the voices of the Prophets which are read every sabbath day, in condemning Him, they fulfilled them.” A great charge it is against them that they continually hearing heeded not. But no marvel: for what was said above concerning Egypt and the wilderness, was enough to show their ingratitude. And observe how this Apostle also, as one moved by the Spirit Himself, continually preaches the Passion, the Burial. (g) “Having taken Him down from the tree.” Observe, what a great point they make of this. He speaks of the manner of His death. Moreover they bring Pilate (conspicuously) forward, that (the fact of) the Passion may be proved by the mention of the tribunal (by which he was condemned), but at the same time, for the greater impeachment of those (His crucifiers), seeing they delivered Him up to an alien. And he does not say, They made a complaint (against Him), (ἐνέτυχον, al. ἐντυγχάνει) but, “They desired, though having found no cause of death” (in Him), “that He should be slain. (e) Who appeared,” he says, “for many days to them that came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem.” (Rom. 12.) Instead of** he says, “Who are His witnesses unto the people,” to wit, “The men which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem.” Then he produces David and Esaias bearing witness. “The faithful (mercies),” the abiding (mercies), those which never perish. (h) Paul loved them exceedingly. And observe, he does not enlarge on the ingratitude of the fathers, but puts before them what they must fear. For Stephen indeed with good reason does this, seeing he was about to be put to death, not teaching them; and showing them, that the Law is even now on the point of being abolished: (ch. vii.) but not so Paul; he does but threaten and put them in fear. (f) And he does not dwell long on these, as taking it for granted that the word is of course believed; nor enlarge upon the greatness of their punishment, and assail that which they affectionately love, by showing the Law about to be cast out: but dwells upon that which is for their good (telling them), that great shall be the blessings for them being obedient, and great the evils being disobedient.

But let us look over again what has been said. “Ye men of Israel,” etc. (v. 16–21.) The Promise then, he says, the fathers received; ye, the reality. (j) And observe, he nowhere mentions right deeds of theirs, but (only) benefits on God’s part: “He chose: Exalted: Suffered their manners:” these are no matters of praise to them: “They asked, He gave.” But David he does praise (and him) only, because from him the Christ was to come. “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will.” (v. 22.) (i) Observe also; it is with praise (that he says of him), “David after that he had served the will of God:” just as Peter—seeing it was then the beginning of the Gospel—making mention of him, said, “Let it be permitted me to speak freely of the patriarch David.” (ch. 2. 29.) Also, he does not say, Died, but, “was added to his fathers. (k) Of this man’s seed,” etc. “When John,” he says, “had first preached before His entry”—by entry he means the Incarnation—“the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” (v. 23–25.) Thus also John, writing his Gospel, continually has recourse to him: for his name was much thought of in all parts of the world. And observe, he does not say it “Of this man’s seed,” etc. from himself, but brings John’s testimony.

“Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham”—he also calls them after their father—“unto you was the word of this salvation sent.” (v. 26.) Here the expression, “Unto you,” does not mean, Unto (you) Jews, but it gives them a right to sever themselves from those who dared that murder. And what he adds, shows this plainly. “For,” he says, “they that dwell at Jerusalem, because they know Him not.” (v. 27.) And how, you will say, could they be ignorant, with John to tell them? What marvel, seeing they were so, with the prophets continually crying aloud to them? Then follows another charge: “And having found no cause of death in Him:” in which ignorance had nothing to do. For let us put the case, that they did not hold Him to be the Christ: why did they also kill Him? And “they desired of Pilate, he says, that He should be slain.” (v. 28.) “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him.” (v. 29.) Observe what a point he makes of showing that the (whole) thing was a (Divine) Dispensation. See, by saying what did they persuade men? (By telling them) that He was crucified? Why, what could be less persuasive than this? That He was buried—by them to whom it was promised that He should be salvation? that He who was buried forgives sins, yea, more than the Law (has power to do)? And (observe), he does not say, From which ye would not but, “from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses.” (v. 39.) “Every one,” he says: be who he may. For those (ordinances) are of no use, unless there be some benefit (accruing therefrom.) This is why he brings in forgiveness later: and shows it to be greater, when, the thing being (otherwise) impossible, yet this is effected. “Who are His witnesses,” he says, “unto the people”—the people that slew Him. Who would never have been so, were they not strengthened by a Divine Power: for they would never have borne such witness to blood-thirsty men, to the very persons that killed Him. But, “He hath raised up Jesus again: This day,” he says, “I have begotten thee.” (v. 33.) Aye, upon this the rest follows of course. Why did he not allege some text by which they would be persuaded that forgiveness of sins is by Him? Because the great point with them was to show, in the first place, that He was risen: this being acknowledged, the other was unquestionable. “Through this man,” nay more, by Him, “is remission of sins.” (v. 38.) And besides, he wished to bring them to a longing desire of this great thing. Well then, His death was not dereliction, but fulfilling of Prophecy.—For the rest, he puts them in mind of historical facts, wherein they through ignorance suffered evils without number. And this he hints in the conclusion, saying, “Look, ye despisers, and behold.” And observe how, this being harsh, he cuts it short. Let not that, he says, come upon you, which was spoken for the others, that “I work a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though one declare it unto you.” (v. 41.) Marvel not that it seems incredible: this very thing was foretold from the first—(that it would not be believed). “Behold, ye despisers,” as regards those who disbelieve in the Resurrection.

This too might with reason be said to us: “Behold ye despisers.” For the Church indeed is in very evil case, although ye think her affairs to be in peace. For the mischief of it is, that while we labor under so many evils, we do not even know that we have any. “What sayest thou? We are in possession of our Churches, our Church property, and all the rest, the services are held, the congregation comes to Church every day.” True, but one is not to judge of the state of a Church from these things. From what then? Whether there be piety, whether we return home with profit each day, whether reaping some fruit, be it much or little, whether we do it not merely of routine and for the formal acquittance of a duty (ἀφοσιούμενοι). Who has become a better man by attending (daily) service for a whole month? That is the point: otherwise the very thing which seems to bespeak a flourishing condition (of the Church,) does in fact bespeak an ill condition, when all this is done, and nothing comes of it. Would to God (that were all), that nothing comes of it: but indeed, as things are, it turns out even for the worse. What fruit do ye get from your services? Surely if you were getting any profit by them, ye ought to have been long leading the life of true wisdom (τἥς φιλοσοφίας), with so many Prophets twice in every week discoursing to you, so many Apostles, and Evangelists, all setting forth the doctrines of salvation, and placing before you with much exactness that which can form the character aright. The soldier by going to his drill, becomes more perfect in his tactics: the wrestler by frequenting the gymnastic ground becomes more skilful in wrestling: the physician by attending on his teacher becomes more accurate, and knows more, and learns more: and thou—what hast thou gained? I speak not to those who have been members of the Church only a year, but to those who from their earliest age have been attending the services. Think you that to be religious is to be constant in Church-going (παραβάλλειν τᾕ συνάξει)? This is nothing, unless we reap some fruit for ourselves: if (from the gathering together in Church) we do not gather (συνάγωμεν) something for ourselves, it were better to remain at home. For our forefathers built the Churches for us, not just to bring us together from our private houses and show us one to another: since this could have been done also in a market-place, and in baths, and in a public procession:—but to bring together learners and teachers, and make the one better by means of the other. With us it has all become mere customary routine, and formal discharge of a duty: a thing we are used to; that is all. Easter comes, and then great the stir, great the hubbub, and crowding of—I had rather not call them human beings, for their behavior is not commonly human. Easter goes, the tumult abates, but then the quiet which succeeds is again fruitless of good. “Vigils, and holy hymn-singing.”—And what is got by these? Nay, it is all the worse. Many do so merely out of vanity. Think how sick at heart it must make me, to see it all like (so much water) poured into a cask with holes in it! But ye will assuredly say to me, We know the Scriptures. And what of that? If ye exemplify the Scriptures by your works, that is the gain, that the profit. The Church is a dyer’s vat: if time after time perpetually ye go hence without receiving any dye, what is the use of coming here continually? Why, the mischief is all the greater. Who (of you) has added ought to the customary practices he received from his fathers? For example: such an one has a custom of observing the memorial of his mother, or his wife, or his child: this he does whether he be told or whether he be not told by us, drawn to it by force of habit and conscience. Does this displease thee, you ask? God forbid: on the contrary, I am glad of it with all my heart: only, I would wish that he had gained some fruit also from our discoursing, and that the effect which habit has, were also the effect as regards us (your teachers)—the superinducing of another habit. Else why do I weary myself in vain, and talk uselessly, if ye are to remain in the same state, if the Church services work no good in you? Nay, you will say, we pray. And what of that? “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7. 21.) Many a time have I determined to hold my peace, seeing no benefit accruing to you from my words; or perhaps there does accrue some, but I, through insatiableness and strong desire, am affected in the same way as those that are mad after riches. For just as they, however much they may get, think they have nothing; so I, because I ardently desire your salvation, until I see you to have made good progress, think nothing done, because of my exceeding eager desire that you should arrive at the very summit. I would that this were the case, and that my eagerness were in fault, not your sloth: but I fear I conjecture but too rightly. For ye must needs be persuaded, that if any benefit had arisen in all this length of time, we ought ere now to have done speaking. In such case, there were no need to you of words, since both in those already spoken there had been enough said for you, and you would be yourselves able to correct others. But the fact, that there is still a necessity of our discoursing to you, only shows, that matters with you are not in a state of high perfection. Then what would we have to be brought about? for one must not merely find fault. I beseech and entreat you not to think it enough to have invaded the Church, but that ye also withdraw hence, having taken somewhat, some medicine, for the curing of your own maladies: and, if not from us, at any rate from the Scriptures, ye have the remedies suitable for each. For instance, is any passionate? Let him attend to the Scripture-readings, and he will of a surety find such either in history or exhortation. In exhortation, when it is said, “The sway of his fury is his destruction” (Ecclus. 2; and, “A passionate man is not seemly” (Prov. 125); and such like: and again, “A man full of words shall not prosper” (Ps. cxl. and Christ again, “He that is angry with his brother without a cause” (Matt. 5. 2; and again the Prophet, “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Ps. 4. ; and, “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce.” (Gen. xlix. 7.) And in histories, as when thou hearest of Pharaoh filled with much wrath, and the Assyrian. Again, is any one taken captive by love of money? let him hear, that “There is not a more wicked thing than a covetous man: for this man setteth even his own soul for sale” (Ecclus. 9. 9); and how Christ saith, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6. 2; and the Apostle, that “the love of money is a root of all evils” (1 Tim. 6. 10); and the Prophet, “If riches flow in, set not your heart upon them” (Ps. lxii. 10); and many other like sayings. And from the histories thou hearest of Gehazi, Judas, the chief scribes, and that “gifts blind the eyes of the wise.” (Exod. 28. 8 and Deut. 16. 19.) Is another proud? Let him hear that “God resisteth the proud” (James 4. 6); and, “Pride is the beginning of sin” (Ecclus. 10. 1 and, “Every one that hath a high heart, is impure before the Lord.” (Prov. 16. 5.) And in the histories, the devil, and all the rest. In a word, since it is impossible to recount all, let each choose out from the Divine Scriptures the remedies for his own hurts.

So wash out, if not the whole at once, a part at any rate, part today, and part tomorrow, and then the whole. And with regard to repentance too, and confession, and almsgiving, and justice also, and temperance, and all other things, thou wilt find many examples. “For all these things,” says the Apostle, “were written for our admonition.” (1 Cor. 10. 11.) If then Scripture in all its discoursing is for our admonition, let us attend to it as we ought. Why do we deceive ourselves in vain? I fear it may be said of us also, that “our days have fallen short in vanity, and our years with haste.” (Ps. lxxvii. 33.) Who from hearing us has given up the theatres? Who has given up his covetousness? Who has become more ready for almsgiving? I would wish to know this, not for the sake of vainglory, but that I may be inspirited to more zeal, seeing the fruit of my labors to be clearly evident. But as things now are, how shall I put my hand to the work, when I see that for all the rain of doctrine pouring down upon you shower after shower, still our crops remain at the same measure, and the plants have waxed none the higher? Anon the time of threshing is at hand (and) He with the fan. I fear me, lest it be all stubble: I fear, lest we be all cast into the furnace. The summer is past, the winter is come: we sit, both young and old, taken captive by our own evil passions. Tell not me, I do not commit fornication: for what art thou the better, if though thou be no fornicator thou art covetous? It matters not to the sparrow caught in the snare that he is not held tight in every part, but only by the foot: he is a lost bird for all that; in the snare he is, and it profits him not that he has his wings free, so long as his foot is held tight. Just so, thou art caught, not by fornication, but by love of money: but caught thou art nevertheless; and the point is, not how thou art caught, but that thou art caught. Let not the young man say, I am no money-lover: well, but perchance thou art a fornicator: and then again what art thou the better? For the fact is, it is not possible for all the passions to set upon us at one and the same time of life: they are divided and marked off, and that, through the mercy of God, that they may not by assailing us all at once become insuperable, and so our wrestling with them be made more difficult. What wretched inertness it shows, not to be able to conquer our passions even when taken one by one, but to be defeated at each several period of our life, and to take credit to ourselves for those which (let us alone) not in consequence of our own hearty endeavors, but merely because, by reason of the time of life, they are dormant? Look at the chariot-drivers, do you not see how exceedingly careful and strict they are with themselves in their training-practice, their labors, their diet, and all the rest, that they may not be thrown down from their chariots, and dragged along (by the reins)?—See what a thing art is. Often even a strong man cannot master a single horse: but a mere boy who has learnt the art shall often take the pair in hand, and with ease lead them and drive them where he will. Nay, in India it is said that a huge monster of an elephant shall yield to a stripling of fifteen, who manages him with the utmost ease. To what purpose have I said all this? To show that, if by dint of study and practice we can throttle into submission (ἄγχομεν) even elephants and wild horses, much more the passions within us. Whence is it that throughout life we continually fail (in every encounter)? We have never practised this art: never in a time of leisure when there is no contest, talked over with ourselves what shall be useful for us. We are never to be seen in our place on the chariot, until the time for the contest is actually come. Hence the ridiculous figure we make there. Have I not often said, Let us practise ourselves upon those of our own family before the time of trial? With our servants (παἵδας) at home we are often exasperated, let us there quell our anger, that in our intercourse with our friends we may come to have it easily under control. And so, in the case of all the other passions, if we practised ourselves beforehand, we should not make a ridiculous figure in the contests themselves. But now we have our implements and our exercises and our trainings for other things, for arts and feats of the palæstra, but for virtue nothing of the sort. The husbandman would not venture to meddle with a vine, unless he had first been practised in the culture of it: nor the pilot to sit by the helm, unless he had first practised himself well at it: but we, in all respects unpractised, wish for the first prizes! It were good to be silent, good to have no communication with any man in act or word, until we were able to charm (κατεπᾴδειν) the wild beast that is within us. The wild beast, I say: for indeed is it not worse than the attack of any wild beast, when wrath and lust make war upon us? Beware of invading the market-place (Μὴ ἐμβάλῃς εἰς ἀγοράν) with these beasts, until thou have got the muzzle well upon their mouths, until thou have tamed and made them tractable. Those who lead about their tame lions in the market-place, do you not see what a gain they make of it, what admiration they get, because in the irrational beast they have succeeded in producing such tameness—but, should the lion suddenly take a savage fit, how he scares all the people out of the market-place, and then both the man that leads him about is himself in danger, and if there be loss of life to others, it is his doing? Well then do thou also first tame thy lion, and so lead him about, not for the purpose of receiving money, but that thou mayest acquire a gain, to which there is none equal. For there is nothing equal to gentleness, which both to those that possess it, and to those who are its objects, is exceeding useful. This then let us follow after, that having kept in the way of virtue, and with all diligence finished our course therein, we may be enabled to attain unto the good things eternal, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 

1 - 30 Acts 13. 42 “And as they were going out (text rec. ‘from the syn. of the Jews,’) they besought (the Gentiles) that these words might be spoken unto them on the following sabbath.”

Do you mark Paul’s wisdom? He not only gained admiration at the time, but put into them a longing desire for a second hearing, while in what he said he dropped some seeds (εἰπών τινα σπέρματα) as it were, and forbore to solve (the questions raised), or to follow out the subject to its conclusion, his plan being to interest them and engage their good-will to himself, and not make (people) listless and indifferent by casting all at once into the minds of those (who first heard him). He told them the fact, that “through this Man is remission of sins announced unto you,” but the how, he did not declare. “And when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and worshipping proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas”—after this point he puts Paul first—“who, speaking unto them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” (v. 43.) Do you observe the eagerness, how great it is? They “followed” them, it says. Why did they not baptize them immediately? It was not the proper time: there was need to persuade them in order to their steadfast abiding therein. “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” (v. 44.) “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and contradicted the things spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” (v. 45.) See malice wounded in wounding others: this made the Apostles more conspicuous—the contradiction which those offered. In the first instance then they of their own accord besought them to speak (and now they opposed them): “contradicting,” it says, “and blaspheming.” O recklessness! “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (v. 46.) Do you mark how by their contentious behavior they the more extended the preaching, and (how the Apostles here) gave themselves the more to the Gentiles, having (by this very thing) pleaded their justification, and made themselves clear of all blame with their own people (at Jerusalem)? (c) See how by their “envy” they bring about great things, other (than they looked for): they brought it about that the Apostles spake out boldly, and came to the Gentiles! For this is why he says, “And speaking out boldly, Paul and Barnabas said.” They were to go out to the Gentiles: but observe the boldness coming with measure: for if Peter pleaded in his justification, much more these needed a plea, none having called them there. (ch. 14.) But by saying “To you first,” he showed that to those also it was their duty (to preach), and in saying “Necessary,” he showed that it was necessary to be preached to them also. “But since ye turn away from it”—he does not say, “Woe unto you,” and “Ye are punished,” but “We turn unto the Gentiles.” With great gentleness is the boldness fraught! (a) Also he does not say, “Ye are unworthy,” but “Have judged yourselves unworthy. Lo, we turn unto the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have sent thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (v. 47.) For that the Gentiles might not be hurt at hearing this, as if the case were so that, had the Jews been in earnest, they themselves would not have obtained the blessings, therefore he brings in the prophecy, saying, “A light of the Gentiles,” and, “for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And hearing” (this) “the Gentiles” (v. 48)—this, while it was more cheering to them, seeing the case was this, that whereas those were of right to hear first, they themselves enjoy the blessing, was at the same time more stinging to those—“and the Gentiles,” it says, “hearing” (this) “were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and believed, as many as were ordained unto eternal life”: i.e., set apart for God. Observe how he shows the speediness of the benefit: “And the word of the Lord was borne through all the region,” (v. 49) διεφέρετο, instead of διεκομίζετο, “was carried or conveyed through (it).” (d) “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” (v. 50.) “The devout women,” (b) instead of the proselyte-women. They did not stop at “envy,” but added deeds also. (e) Do you see what they effected by their opposing the preaching? to what dishonor they brought these (“honorable women”)? “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.” (v. 51.) Here now they used that terrible sign which Christ enjoined, “If any receive you not, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matt. 10. 14; Mark 6. but these did it upon no light ground, but because they were driven away by them. This was no hurt to the disciples; on the contrary, they the more continued in the word: “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (v. 5 for the suffering of the teacher does not check his boldness, but makes the disciple more courageous.

“And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews.” (ch. 14. 1.) Again they entered into the synagogues. See how far they were from becoming more timid! Having said, “We turn unto the Gentiles,” nevertheless (by going into the synagogues) they superabundantly fortify their own justification (with their Jewish brethren). “So that,” it says, “a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed.” For it is likely they discoursed as to Greeks also. “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.” (v. 2.) Together (with themselves) now they took to stirring up the Gentiles too, as not being themselves sufficient. Then why did the Apostles not go forth thence? Why, they were not driven away, only attacked. “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” (v. 3.) This caused their boldness; or rather, of their boldness indeed their own hearty good-will was the cause—therefore it is that for a long while they work no signs—while the conversion of the hearers was (the effect) of the signs, though their boldness also contributed somewhat. “But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the Apostles.” (v. 4.) No small matter this dividing. And this was what the Lord said, “I am not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10. 34.) “And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, they were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: and there they preached the Gospel.” (v. 5–7.) Again, as if they purposely wished to extend the preaching after it was increased, they once more sent them out. See on all occasions the persecutions working great good, and defeating the persecutors, and making the persecuted illustrious. For having come to Lystra, he works a great miracle, by raising the lame man. “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: the same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice”—why with a loud voice? that the multitude should believe—“Stand upright on thy feet.” (v. 8, 9.) But observe, he gave heed, it says, to the things spoken by Paul. Do you mark the elevation of the man’s mind (φιλοσοφίαν)? He was nothing defeated (παρεβλάβη) by his lameness for earnestness of hearing. “Who fixing his eyes upon him, and perceiving,” it says, “that he had faith to be made whole.” He was already predisposed in purpose of mind. And yet in the case of the others, it was the reverse: for first receiving healing in their bodies, they were then taken in hand for cure of their souls, but this man not so. It seems to me, that Paul saw into his soul. “And he leaped,” it says, “and walked.” (v. 10.) It was a proof of his perfect cure, the leaping. “And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.” (v. 11–13.) But this purpose was not yet manifest, for they spake in their own tongue, saying, “The gods in the likeness of men are come down to us:” therefore the Apostle said nothing to them as yet. But when they saw the garlands, then they went out, and rent their garments, “Which when the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you.” (v. 14, 15.) See how on all occasions they are clean from the lust of glory, not only not coveting, but even repudiating it when offered: just as Peter also said, “Why gaze ye on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk” (ch. 3. so these also say the same. And Joseph also said of the dreams, “Is not their interpretation of God?” (Gen. lx. 8.) And Daniel in like manner, “And to me also, not through the wisdom that is in me was it revealed.” (Dan. 2. 30.) And Paul everywhere says this, as when he says, “And for these things who is sufficient? Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think (aught) as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor. 2. 16; 3. 5.) But let us look over again what has been said.

(Recapitulation.) “And when they were gone out,” etc. (v. 4. Not merely were the multitudes drawn to them, but how? they besought to have the same words spoken to them again, and by their actions they showed their earnestness. “Now when the congregation,” etc. (v. 43.) See the Apostles on all occasions exhorting, not merely accepting men, nor courting them, but, “speaking unto them,” it says, “they persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. But when the Jews,” etc. (v. 45.) Why did they not contradict before this? Do you observe who on all occasions they were moved by passion? And they not only contradicted, but blasphemed also. For indeed malice stops at nothing. But see what boldness of speech! “It was necessary,” he says, “that the word should have been spoken first to you, but since ye put it from you,”—(v. 46) it is not put as affronting (though) it is in fact what they did in the case of the prophets: “Talk not to us,” said they, “with talk”—(Is. xxx. 10): “but since ye put it from you”—it, he saith, not us: for the affront on your part is not to us. For that none may take it as an expression of their piety (that he says,) “Ye judge not yourselves worthy,” therefore he first says, “Ye put it from you,” and then, “We turn unto the Gentiles.” The expression is full of gentleness. He does not say, We abandon you, but so that it is possible—he would say—that we may also turn hither again: and this too is not the consequence of the affront from you, “for so hath (the Lord) commanded us.”—(v. 47.) “Then why have ye not done this?” It was indeed needful that the Gentiles should hear, and this not before you: it is your own doing, the “before you.” “For so hath the Lord commanded us: I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation,” i.e. for knowledge which is unto salvation, and not merely of the Gentiles, but of all men, “unto the ends of the earth—As many as were ordained unto eternal life” (v. 48.): this is also a proof, that their having received these Gentiles was agreeable with the mind of God. But “ordained,” not in regard of necessity: “whom He foreknew,” saith the Apostle, “He did predestinate.” (Rom. 8. 29.) “And the word of the Lord,” etc. (v. 49.) No longer in the city (only) were (their doctrines) disseminated, but also in the (whole) region. For when they of the Gentiles had heard it, they also after a little while came over. “But the Jews stirred up the devout women, and raised persecution”—observe even of what is done by the women, they are the authors—“and cast them,” it says, “out of their coasts” (v. 50), not from the city merely. Then, what is more terrible, “they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. But the disciples, it says, were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” (v. 552.) The teachers were suffering persecution, and the disciples rejoiced.

“And so spake, that a great multitude,” etc. (ch. 14. 1.) Do you mark the nature of the Gospel, the great virtue it has? “Made their minds evil-affected,” it says, “against the brethren:” (v. 2.) i.e. slandered the Apostles, raised numberless accusations against them: (these people, being simple, they “made evil-affected,” disposed them to act a malignant part. And see how on all occasions he refers all to God. “Long time,” he says, “abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace.” (v. 3.) Think not this (expression, “Gave testimony,”) hath aught derogatory (to the Lord’s Divine Majesty): “Who witnessed,” it is said, “before Pontius Pilate.” (1 Tim. 6. 13.) Then the boldness—“and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” Here he speaks it as concerning their own nation. “And the multitude of the city,” etc. (v. 4, 5.) Accordingly they did not wait for it, but saw the intention of attacking them,and fled, on no occasion kindling their wrath, “to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, and Derbe, and the adjacent region.” (v. 6.) They went away into the country, not into the cities only.—Observe both the simplicity of the Gentiles, and the malignity of the Jews. By their actions they showed that they were worthy to hear: they so honored them from the miracles only. The one sort honored them as gods, the other persecuted them as pestilent fellows: and (those) not only did not take offence at the preaching, but what say they? “The gods, in the likeness of men, are come down to us;” but the Jews were offended. “And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius.” (v. 112.) I suppose Barnabas was a man of dignified appearance also. Here was a new sort of trial, from immoderate zeal, and no small one: but hence also is shown the virtue of the Apostles, (and) how on all occasions they ascribe all to God.

Let us imitate them: let us think nothing our own, seeing even faith itself is not our own, but more God’s (than ours). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and this,” saith he, “not of ourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2. 8.) Then let us not think great things of ourselves, nor be puffed up, being as we are, men, dust and ashes, smoke and shadow. For say, Why dost thou think great things of thyself? Hast thou given alms, and lavished thy substance? And what of that? Think, what if God had chosen not to make thee rich? think of them that are impoverished, or rather, think how many have given (not their substance only, but) their bodies moreover, and after their numberless sacrifices, have felt still that they were miserable creatures! Thou gavest for thyself, Christ (not for Himself, but) for thee: thou didst but pay a debt, Christ owed thee not.—See the uncertainty of the future, and “be not high-minded, but fear” (Rom. 120); do not lessen thy virtue by boastfulness. Wouldest thou do something truly great? Never let a surmise of thy attainments as great enter thy mind. But thou art a virgin? So were those in (the Gospel) virgins, but they got no benefit from their virginity, because of their cruelty and inhumanity. (Matt. 25. 12.) Nothing like humility: this is mother, and root, and nurse,and foundation, and bond of all good things: without this we are abominable, and execrable, and polluted. For say—let there be some man raising the dead, and healing the lame, and cleansing the lepers, but with proud self-complacency: than this there can be nothing more execrable, nothing more impious, nothing more detestable. Account nothing to be of thyself. Hast thou utterance and grace of teaching? Do not for this account thyself to have aught more than other men. For this cause especially thou oughtest to be humbled, because thou hast been vouchsafed more abundant gifts. For he to whom more was forgiven, will love more (Luke 7. 47): if so, then oughtest thou to be humbled also, for that God having passed by others, took notice of thee. Fear thou because of this: for often this is a cause of destruction to thee, if thou be not watchful. Why thinkest thou great things of thyself? Because thou teachest by words? But this is easy, to philosophize in words: teach me by thy life: that is the best teaching. Sayest thou that it is right to be moderate, and dost thou make a long speech about this thing, and play the orator, pouring forth thy eloquence without a check? But “better than thou is he” shall one say to thee, “who teaches me this by his deeds”—for not so much are those lessons wont to be fixed in the mind which consist in words, as those which teach by things: since if thou hast not the deed, thou not only hast not profited him by thy words, but hast even hurt him the more—“better thou wert silent.” Wherefore? “Because the thing thou proposest to me is impossible: for I consider, that if thou who hast so much to say about it, succeedest not in this, much more am I excusable.” For this cause the Prophet says, “But unto the sinner said God. Why declarest thou My statutes?” (Ps. lx. 16.) For this is a worse mischief, when one who teaches well in words, impugns the teaching by his deeds. This has been the cause of many evils in the Churches. Wherefore pardon me, I beseech you, that my discourse dwells long on this evil affection (πάθει). Many take a deal of pains to be able to stand up in public, and make a long speech: and if they get applause from the multitude, it is to them as if they gained the very kingdom (of heaven): but if silence follows the close of their speech, it is worse than hell itself, the dejection that falls upon their spirits from the silence! This has turned the Churches upside down, because both you desire not to hear a discourse calculated to lead you to compunction, but one that may delight you from the sound and composition of the words, as though you were listening to singers and minstrels (κιθαρῳδὥν καὶ κιθαριστὣν, supra p. 68): and we too act a preposterous and pitiable part in being led by your lusts, when we ought to root them out. And so it is just as if the father of a poor cold-blooded child (already, more delicate than it ought to be), should, although it is so feeble, give it cake and cold (drink) and whatever only pleases the child, and take no account of what might do it good; and then, being reproved by the physicians, should excuse himself by saying, “What can I do? I cannot bear to see the child crying.” Thou poor, wretched creature, thou betrayer! for I cannot call such a one a father: how much better were it for thee, by paining him for a short time, to restore him to health forever, than to make this short-lived pleasure the foundation of a lasting sorrow? Just such is our case, when we idly busy ourselves about beautiful expressions, and the composition and harmony of our sentences, in order that we may please, not profit: (when) we make it our aim to be admired, not to instruct; to delight, not prick to the heart; to be applauded and depart with praise, not to correct men’s manners! Believe me, I speak not other than I feel—when as I discourse I hear myself applauded, at the moment indeed I feel it as a man (for why should I not own the truth?): I am delighted, and give way to the pleasurable feeling: but when I get home, and bethink me that those who applauded received no benefit from my discourse, but that whatever benefit they ought to have got, they lost it while applauding and praising, I am in pain, and groan, and weep, and feel as if I had spoken all in vain. I say to myself: “What profit comes to me from my labors, while the hearers do not choose to benefit by what they hear from us?” Nay, often have I thought to make a rule which should prevent all applauding, and persuade you to listen with silence and becoming orderliness. But bear with me, I beseech you, and be persuaded by me, and, if it seem good to you, let us even now establish this rule, that no hearer be permitted to applaud in the midst of any person’s discourse, but if he will needs admire, let him admire in silence: there is none to prevent him: and let all his study and eager desire be set upon the receiving the things spoken.—What means that noise again? I am laying down a rule against this very thing, and you have not the forbearance even to hear me!—Many will be the good effects of this regulation: it will be a discipline of philosophy. Even the heathen philosophers—we hear of their discoursing, and nowhere do we find that noisy applause accompanied their words: we hear of the Apostles, making public speeches, and yet nowhere do the accounts add, that in the midst of their speeches the hearers interrupted the speakers with loud expressions of approbation. A great gain will this be to us. But let us establish this rule: in quiet let us all hear, and speak the whole (of what we have to say). For if indeed it were the case that we departed retaining what we had heard, what I insist upon is, that even so the praise is not beneficial—but not to go too much into particulars (on this point); let none tax me with rudeness —but since nothing is gained by it, nay, it is even mischievous, let us loose the hindrance, let us put a stop to the boundings, let us retrench the gambollings of the soul. Christ spoke publicly on the Mount: yet no one said aught, until He had finished His discourse. I do not rob those who wish to be applauded: on the contrary, I make them to be more admired. It is far better that one’s hearer, having listened in silence, should by his memory throughout all time applaud, both at home and abroad, than that having lost all he should return home empty, not possessed of that which was the subject of his applauses. For how shall the hearer be otherwise than ridiculous? Nay, he will be deemed a flatterer, and his praises no better than irony, when he declares that the teacher spoke beautifully, but what he said, this he cannot tell. This has all the appearance of adulation. For when indeed one has been hearing minstrels and players, it is no wonder if such be the case with him, seeing he knows not how to utter the strain in the same manner: but where the matter is not an exhibition of song or of voice, but the drift and purport of thoughts and wise reflection (φιλοσοφίας), and it is easy for every one to tell and report what was said, how can he but deserve the accusation, who cannot tell what the matter was for which he praised the speaker? Nothing so becomes a Church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose (φιλοσοφία καὶ πολὺς ὁ λιμήν). These things I beseech and entreat: for I go about in quest of ways by which I shall be enabled to profit your souls. And no small way I take this to be: it will profit not you only, but us also. So shall we not be carried away with pride (ἐκτραχηλίζεσθαί), not be tempted to love praises and honor, not be led to speak those things which delight, but those which profit: so shall we lay the whole stress of our time and diligence not upon arts of composition and beauties of expression, but upon the matter and meaning of the thoughts. Go into a painter’s study, and you will observe how silent all is there. Then so ought it to be here: for here too we are employed in painting portraits, royal portraits (every one of them), none of any private man, by means of the colors of virtue—How now? Applauding again? This is a reform not easy, but (only) by reason of long habit, to be effected.—The pencil moreover is the tongue, and the Artist the Holy Spirit. Say, during the celebration of the Mysteries, is there any noise? any disturbance? when we are baptizing (βαπτιζώμεθα), when we are doing all the other acts? Is not all Nature decked (as it were) with stillness and silence?Over all the face of heaven is scattered this charm (of repose).—On this account are we evil spoken of even among the Gentiles, as though we did all for display and ostentation. But if this be prevented, the love of the chief seats also will be extinguished. It is sufficient, if any one be enamoured of praise, that he should obtain it after having been heard, when all is gathered in. Yea, I beseech you, let us establish this rule, that doing all things according to God’s will, we may be found worthy of the mercy which is from Him, through the grace and compassion of His only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

 
1 - 31 Acts 14. 14, “Which when the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.”

Mark the vehemence with which all this is done by the Apostles: “rent their clothes, ran in, cried out,” all from strong affection of the soul, revolted by the things that were done. For it was a grief, indeed a grief inconsolable, that they should needs be thought gods, and introduce idolatry, the very thing which they came to destroy! This also was a contrivance of the devil—but he did not prevail. But what say they? “We also are men of like passions with you.” At the very outset they overthrew the evil. They said not simply, “Men,” but “As ye.” Then, that they may not seem to honor the gods, hear what they add: “Preaching unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, Who made heaven, the sea, and all things that are therein.” Observe how they nowhere mention things invisible. (b) For they had learnt that one should study not so much to say somewhat worthy of God, as to say what is profitable for the hearers. (a) What then? if He be Maker of all things, why does He not also attend to these things by His Providence?—“Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (v. 16)—but wherefore He suffered them, this he does not say, for at present he keeps to the matter of immediate importance, nowhere bringing in the name of Christ. Observe, he does not wish to swell the accusation against them, but rather that they themselves should refer all to God. “Nevertheless, He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, giving you rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.” (v. 17.) (c) See how covertly he puts the accusation “in that He did good,” etc. And yet if God did this, He could not have “let them alone;” on the contrary, they ought to be punished, for that, enjoying so great benefits, they had not acknowledged Him, not even as their feeder. “From heaven,” he says, “giving you rain.” Thus also David said, “From the fruit of their corn and wine and oil were they made to abound” (Ps. 4. 7), and in many places speaking of Creation, he brings forward these benefits: and Jeremiah mentions first Creation, then Providence (shown) by the rains, so that the Apostle here discourses as taught from those Scriptures. “Filling,” he says, “with food and gladness.” (Jer. 5. 24.) With large liberality (φιλοτιμίας) the food is given, not merely for a frugal sufficiency, nor stinted by the need. “And saying these things, they scarcely stopped the multitudes” (v. 18)—indeed by this very thing they gained most admiration—“from sacrificing to them.” Do you observe that this was the point with them to put an end to that madness? “But there came,” it says, “certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium” (v. 19).—Indeed children of the devil, that not in their own cities only, but also beyond them, they did these things, and as much made it their study to make an end of the preaching, as the Apostles were in earnest to establish it!—“and having persuaded the multitude and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city.” (e) So then, the Gentiles regarded them as gods, but these “dragged” him, “out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Having persuaded the multitude”—for it is not likely that all thus reverenced them. In the very city in which they received this reverence, in the same were they thus terribly ill treated. And this also profited the beholders. “Lest any man,” he says, “should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth aught from me.” (v. 20.)—“Howbeit as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and came into the city.” (d) Here is fulfilled that saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12. 9.) Greater this than the raising of the lame man! (f) “Came into the city.” Do you mark the zeal, do you mark how fervent he is, how set on fire! He came into the city itself again: for proof that if on any occasion he did retire, it was because he had sown the word, and because it was not right to inflame their wrath. (h) Then they went over all the cities in which they had been in danger. “And on the morrow,” it says, “he went forth with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the Gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (v. 222.) This they said, this they showed. But it is purposely so done, not only by the Apostles, but by the disciples also, that they may learn from the very outset both the might of the preaching, and that they must themselves also suffer such things, that they may stand nobly, not idly gaping for the miracles, but much more (ready) for the trials. Therefore also the Apostle himself said, “Having the same conflict which ye saw in me and heard.” (Phil. 30.) Persecutions succeeded to persecutions: wars, fightings, stonings. (g) These things, not less than the miracles, both made them more illustrious, and prepared for them a greater rejoicing. The Scripture nowhere says that they returned rejoicing because they had done miracles, but (it does say that they rejoiced), that “they were counted worthy for that Name to suffer shame.” (ch. 5. 41.) And this they were taught of Christ, saying, “Rejoice not that the devils obey you.” (Luke 10. 20.) For the joy indeed and without alloy is this, to suffer aught for Christ’s sake. (i) “And that through much tribulation:” what sort of cheering (προτροπή) is this? how did they persuade them, by telling them at the outset of tribulations? Then also another consolation. “And when they had appointed for them elders in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (v. 23.) Do you mark Paul’s ardor?—Then other consolation: “Commended them,” it says, “to the Lord. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia (v. 24, 25): (l) and thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.” (v. 26.) Why do they come back to Antioch? To report what had taken place yonder. And besides, there is a great purpose of Providence concerned: for it was needful that they should thenceforth preach with boldness to the Gentiles. They come therefore, reporting these things, that they may be able to know them: and it is providentially ordered, that just then came those who forbade to keep company with the Gentiles in order that from Jerusalem they might obtain great encouragement, and so go their ways with boldness. And besides, it shows that in their temper there was nothing of self-will: for they come, at the same time showing their boldness, in that without the authority of those (at Jerusalem) they had preached to the Gentiles, and their obedience, in that they refer the matter to them: for they were not made arrogant, as (ἀπενοήθησαν) having achieved so great successes. “Whence,” it says, “they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.” And yet moreover the Spirit had said, “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (ch. 13. 2.) “And when they were come, and had gathered the Church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.” (v. 27, 28.) For the city being great had need of teachers.—But let us look over again what has been said.

(Recapitulation.) “Which when the Apostles,” etc. (v. First by the sight they checked them, by rending their garments. This did Joshua the son of Nun upon the occasion of the defeat of the people. Then think not that this action was unworthy of them: for such was the eagerness, they would not otherwise have restrained it would not otherwise have quenched the conflagration (πύραν). Therefore when need is to do something that is fit to be done, let us not decline it. For if even after all this they hardly persuaded them, if they had not acted thus, what might have been the consequence? For if they had not done thus, they would have been thought to make a show of humility (ταπεινοθρονεἵν), and to be all the more desirous of the honor. And observe their language, how in rebuking it is moderated, alike full of wonder and of rebuke. This above all it was that hindered them, the saying, “Preaching unto you to turn from these vanities unto God.” (v. 15.) We are men indeed, they say, but greater than these: for these are dead things. Mark how they not only subvert (the false), but teach (the true), saying nothing about things invisible—“Who made,” say they, “heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein. Who in times past,” etc. (v. 16, 17.) He names as witnesses even the years (in their courses). “And there came thither certain Jews,” etc. (v. 19.) O that Jewish madness! Among a people that had so honored the Apostles, they had the hardihood to come, and to stone Paul. “And they dragged him out of the city,” being afraid of those (others),—“Supposing he had been dead.” (k) “Howbeit,” etc. “and came into the city.” (v. 20.) For that the spirits of the disciples might not be downcast because they who were accounted gods suffered such treatment, they came in unto them and discoursed. “Then on the morrow,” etc. And observe, first he goes forth to Derbe, and then comes back to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch