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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 3:8-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

HOMILY 6
TITUS 3:8-15

“These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject. Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

Having spoken of the love of God to man, of His ineffable regard for us, of what we were and what He has done for us, he has added, “These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works”; that is, Discourse of these things, and from a consideration of them exhort to almsgiving. For what has been said will not only apply to humility, to the not being puffed up, and not reviling others, but to every other virtue. So also in arguing with the Corinthians, he says, “Ye know that our Lord being rich became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9.) Having considered the care and exceeding love of God for man, he thence exhorts them to almsgiving, and that not in a common and slight manner, but “that they may be careful,” he says, “to maintain good works,” that is, both to succor the injured, not only by money, but by patronage and protection, and to defend the widows and orphans, and to afford a refuge to all that are afflicted. For this is to maintain good works. For these things, he says, are good and profitable unto men. “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain.” What do these “genealogies” mean? For in his Epistle to Timothy he mentions “fables and endless genealogies.” (1 Tim. 1:4.) [Perhaps both here and there glancing at the Jews, who, priding themselves on having Abraham for their forefather, neglected their own part. On this account he calls them both “foolish and unprofitable”; for it is the part of folly to confide in things unprofitable.3] “Contentions,” he means, with heretics, in which he would not have us labor to no purpose, where nothing is to be gained, for they end in nothing. For when a man is perverted and predetermined not to change his mind, whatever may happen, why shouldest thou labor in vain, sowing upon a rock, when thou shouldest spend thy honorable toil upon thy own people, in discoursing with them upon almsgiving and every other virtue? How then does he elsewhere say, “If God peradventure will give them repentance” (2 Tim. 2:25); but here, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself”? In the former passage he speaks of the correction of those of whom he had hope, and who had simply made opposition. But when he is known and manifest to all, why dost thou contend1 in vain? why dost thou beat the air? What means, “being condemned of himself”? Because he cannot say that no one has told him, no one admonished him; since therefore after admonition he continues the same, he is self-condemned.

Ver. 12. “When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus; be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis.” What sayest thou? After having appointed him to preside over Crete, dost thou again summon him to thyself? It was not to withdraw him from that occupation,2 but to discipline him the more for it. For that he does not call him to attend upon him, as if he took him everywhere with him as his follower, appears from what he adds:

“For I have determined there to winter.”

Now Nicopolis3 is a city of Thrace.

Ver. 14. “Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.”

These were not of the number to whom Churches had been intrusted, but of the number of his companions. But Apollos was the more vehement, being “an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures.” (Acts 18:24.) But if Zenas was a lawyer, you say, he ought not to have been supported by others. But by a lawyer here is meant one versed in the laws of the Jews. And he seems to say, supply their wants abundantly, that nothing may be lacking to them.

Ver. 14, 15. “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith.”

That is, either those that love Paul himself,4 or those men that are faithful.

“Grace be with you all. Amen.”

How then dost thou command him to stop the mouths of gainsayers, if he must pass them by when they are doing everything to their own destruction?5 He means that he should not do it principally for their advantage, for being once perverted in their minds, they would not profit by it. But if they injured others, it behooved him to withstand and contend with them; and manfully await6 them, but if thou art reduced to necessity, seeing them destroying others, be not silent, but stop their mouths, from regard to those whom they would destroy. It is not indeed possible for a zealous man of upright life to abstain from contention, but so do as I have said. For the evil arises from idleness and a vain philosophy, that one should be occupied about words only. For it is a great injury to be uttering a superfluity of words, when one ought to be teaching, or praying, or giving thanks. For it is not right to be sparing of our money but not sparing of our words; we ought rather to spare words than our money, and not to give ourselves up to all sorts of persons.

What means, “that they be careful to maintain good works”? That they wait not for those who are in want to come to them, but that they seek out those who need their assistance. Thus the considerate man shows his concern, and with great zeal will he perform this duty. For in doing good actions, it is not those who receive the kindness that are benefited, so much as those who do it that make gain and profit, for it gives them confidence towards God. But in the other case, there is no end of contention: therefore he calls the heretic incorrigible. For as to neglect those for whom there is a hope of conversion is the part of slothfulness, so to bestow pains upon those who are diseased past remedy is the extreme of folly and madness; for we render them more bold.

“And let ours,” he says, “learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” You observe that he is more anxious for them than for those who are to receive their kindnesses. For they might probably have been brought on their way by many others, but I am concerned, he says, for our own friends. For what advantage would it be to them, if others should dig up treasures,7 and maintain their teachers? This would be no benefit to them, for they remained unfruitful. Could not Christ then, Who with five loaves fed five thousand men, and with seven loaves fed four thousand, could not He have supported Himself and His disciples?

Moral. For what reason then was He maintained by women? For women, it is said, followed Him, and ministered unto Him. (Mark 15:41.) It was to teach us from the first that He is concerned for those who do good. Could not Paul, who supported others by his own hands, have maintained himself without assistance from others? But you see him receiving and requesting aid. And hear the reason for it. “Not because I desire a gift,” he says, “but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Phil. 4:17.) And at the beginning too, when men sold all their possessions and laid them at the Apostles’ feet, the Apostles, seest thou, were more concerned for them than for those who received their alms. For if their concern had only been that the poor might by any means be relieved, they would not have judged so severely of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, when they kept back their money. Nor would Paul have charged men to give “not grudgingly nor of necessity.” (2 Cor. 9:7.) What sayest thou, Paul? dost thou discourage giving to the poor? No, he answers; but I consider not their advantage only, but the good of those who give. Dost thou see, that when the prophet gave that excellent counsel to Nebuchadnezzar, he did not merely consider the poor. For he does not content himself with saying, Give to the poor; but what? “Break off thy sins by almsdeeds,1 and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” (Dan. 4:27.) Part with thy wealth, not that others may be fed, but that thou mayest escape punishment. And Christ again says, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor … and come and follow Me.” (Matt. 19:21.) Dost thou see that the commandment was given that he might be induced to follow Him? For as riches are an impediment, therefore he commands them to be given to the poor, instructing the soul to be pitiful and merciful, to despise wealth, and to flee from covetousness. For he who has learnt to give to him that needs, will in time learn not to receive from those who have to give. This makes men like God. Yet virginity, and fasting, and lying on the ground, are more difficult than this, but nothing is so strong and powerful to extinguish the fire of our sins as almsgiving. It is greater than all other virtues. It places the lovers of it by the side of the King Himself, and justly. For the effect of virginity, of fasting, of lying on the ground, is confined to those who practice them, and no other is saved thereby. But almsgiving extends to all, and embraces the members of Christ, and actions that extend their effects to many are far greater than those which are confined to one.

For almsgiving is the mother of love, of that love, which is the characteristic of Christianity, which is greater than all miracles, by which the disciples of Christ are manifested. It is the medicine of our sins, the cleansing of the filth of our souls, the ladder fixed to heaven; it binds together the body of Christ. Would you learn how excellent a thing it is? In the time of the Apostles, men selling their possessions brought them to them, and they were distributed. For it is said, “Distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” (Acts 4:35.) For tell me how, setting aside the future, and not now considering the kingdom that is to come, let us see who in the present life are the gainers, those who received, or those who gave. The former murmured and quarreled with each other. The latter had one soul. “They were of one heart, and of one soul,” it is said, “and grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32.) And they lived in great simplicity.2 Dost thou see that they were gainers even by thus giving? Tell me now, with whom would you wish to be numbered, with those who gave away their possessions, and had nothing, or with those who received even the goods of others?

See the fruit of almsgiving, the separations and hindrances were removed, and immediately their souls were knit together. “They were all of one heart and of one soul.” So that even setting aside almsgiving, the parting with riches is attended with gain. And these things I have said, that those who have not succeeded to an inheritance from their forefathers may not be cast down, as if they had less than those who are wealthy. For if they please they have more. For they will more readily incline to almsgiving, like the widow, and they will have no occasion for enmity towards their neighbor, and they will enjoy freedom in every respect. Such an one cannot be threatened with the confiscation of his goods, and he is superior to all wrongs. As those who fly unincumbered with clothes are not easily caught, but they who are incumbered with many garments and a long train are soon overtaken, so it is with the rich man and the poor. The one, though he be taken, will easily make his escape, whilst the other, though he be not detained, is incumbered by cords of his own, by numberless cares, distresses, passions, provocations, all which overwhelm the soul, and not these alone, but many other things which riches draw after them. It is much more difficult for a rich man to be moderate and to live frugally, than for the poor, more difficult for him to be free from passion. Then he, you say, will have the greater reward.—By no means.—What, not if he overcomes greater difficulties?—But these difficulties were of his own seeking. For we are not commanded to become rich, but the reverse. But he prepares for himself so many stumbling-blocks and impediments.

Others not only divest themselves of riches, but macerate their bodies, as travelers in the narrow way. Instead of doing this, thou heatest more intensely the furnace of thy passions, and gettest more about thee.3 Go therefore into the broad way, for it is that which receives such as thee. But the narrow way is for those who are afflicted and straitened, who bear along with them nothing but those burdens, which they can carry through it, as almsgiving, love for mankind, goodness, and meekness. These if thou bearest, thou wilt easily find entrance, but if thou takest with thee arrogance, a soul inflamed with passions, and that load of thorns, wealth, there is need of wide room for thee to pass, nor wilt thou well be able to enter into the crowd without striking others, and coming down upon them on thy way. In this case a wide distance from others is required. But he who carries gold and silver, I mean the achievements of virtue, does not cause his neighbors to flee from him, but brings men nearer to him, even to link themselves with him.1 But if riches in themselves are thorns, what must covetousness be? Why dost thou take that away with thee? Is it to make the flame greater by adding fuel to that fire? Is not the fire of hell sufficient? Consider how the Three Children overcame the furnace. Imagine that to be hell. With tribulation were they plunged into it, bound and fettered; but within they found large room; not so they that stood around without.

Something of this kind even now will be experienced, if we will manfully resist the trials that encompass us. If we have hope in God, we shall be in security, and have ample room, and those who bring us into these straits shall perish. For it is written, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein.” (Ecclus. 26:27.) Though they bind our hands and our feet, the affliction will have power to set us loose. For observe this miracle. Those whom men had bound, the fire set free. As if certain persons were delivered up to the servants of their friends, and the servants, from regard to the friendship of their master, instead of injuring them, should treat them with much respect; so the fire, when as it knew that the Three Children were the friends of its Lord, burst their fetters, set them free, and let them go, and became to them as a pavement, and was trodden under their feet. And justly, since they had been cast into it for the glory of God. Let us, as many of us as are afflicted, hold fast these examples.

But behold, they were delivered from their affliction, you say, and we are not. True, they were delivered, and justly; since they did not enter into that furnace expecting deliverance, but as if to die outright. For hear what they say: “There is a God in Heaven, Who will deliver us. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Dan. 3:17, 18.) But we, as if bargaining on the chastisements of the Lord, even fix a time, saying, “If He does not show mercy till this time.” Therefore it is that we are not delivered. Surely Abraham did not leave his home expecting again to receive his son, but as prepared to sacrifice him; and it was contrary to his expectation that he received him again safe. And thou, when thou fallest into tribulation, be not in haste to be delivered,2 prepare thy mind for all endurance, and speedily thou shalt be delivered from thy affliction. For God brings it upon thee for this end, that He may chasten thee. When therefore from the first we learn to bear it patiently, and do not sink into despair, He presently relieves us, as having effected the whole matter.

I should like to tell you an instructive story, which has much of profit in it. What then is it? Once, when a persecution arose, and a severe war was raging against the Church, two men were apprehended. The one was ready to suffer anything whatever; the other was prepared to submit with firmness to be beheaded, but with fear and trembling shrunk from other tortures. Observe then the dispensation towards these men. When the judge was seated, he ordered the one who was ready to endure anything, to be beheaded. The other he caused to be hung up and tortured, and that not once or twice, but from city to city. Now why was this permitted? That he might recover through torments that quality of mind which he had neglected, that he might shake off all cowardice, and be no longer afraid to endure anything. Joseph too, when he was urgent to escape from prison, was left to remain there. For hear him saying, “Indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews; but do thou make mention of me to the king.” (Gen. 40:14, 15.) And for this he was suffered to remain, that he might learn not to place hope or confidence in men, but to cast all upon God. Knowing these things therefore let us give thanks to God, and let us do all things that are expedient for us, that we may obtain the good things to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father be glory, with the Holy Ghost, now and ever, and world without end. Amen

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 2:11-3:7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

HOMILY 5
TITUS 2:11-3:7

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, Teaching them that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Having demanded from servants so great virtue, for it is great virtue to adorn the doctrine of our God and Saviour in all things, and charged them to give no occasion of offense to their masters, even in common matters, he adds the just cause, why servants should be such: “For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared.” Those who have God for their Teacher,1 may well be such as I have described, seeing their numberless sins have been forgiven to them. For you know that in addition to other considerations, this in no common degree awes and humbles the soul, that when it had innumerable sins to answer for, it received not punishment, but obtained pardon, and infinite favors. For if one, whose servant had committed many offenses, instead of scourging him with thongs, should grant him a pardon for all those, but should require an account of his future conduct, and bid him beware of falling into the same faults again, and should bestow high favors upon him, who do you think would not be overcome at hearing of such kindness? But do not think that grace stops at the pardon of former sins—it secures us against them in future, for this also is of grace. Since if He were never to punish those who still do amiss, this would not be so much grace, as encouragement to evil and wickedness.

“For the grace of God,” he says, “hath appeared, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world; looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” See, how together with the rewards he places the virtue. And this is of grace, to deliver us from worldly things, and to lead us to Heaven. He speaks here of two appearings; for there are two; the first of grace, the second of retribution and justice.

“That denying ungodliness,” he says, “and worldly lusts.”

See here the foundation of all virtue. He has not said “avoiding,” but “denying.” Denying implies the greatest distance, the greatest hatred and aversion. With as much resolution and zeal as they turned from idols, with so much let them turn from vice itself, and worldly lusts. For these too are idols, that is, worldly lusts,1 and covetousness, and this he names idolatry. Whatever things are useful for the present life are worldly lusts, whatever things perish with the present life are worldly lusts. Let us then have nothing to do with these. Christ came, “that we should deny ungodliness.”2 Ungodliness relates to doctrines, worldly lusts to a wicked life.

“And should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.”

Dost thou see, what I always affirm, that it is not sobriety only to abstain from fornication, but that we must be free from other passions. So then he who loves wealth is not sober. For as the fornicator loves women, so the other loves money, and even more inordinately, for he is not impelled by so strong a passion. And he is certainly a more powerless3 charioteer who cannot manage a gentle horse, than he who cannot restrain a wild and unruly one. What then? says he, is the love of wealth weaker than the love of women? This is manifest from many reasons. In the first place, lust springs from the necessity of nature, and what arises from this necessity must be difficult to restrain, since it is implanted in our nature. Secondly, because the ancients had no regard for wealth, but for women they had great regard, in respect of their chastity. And no one blamed him who cohabited with his wife according to law, even to old age, but all blamed him who hoarded money. And many of the Heathen philosophers despised money, but none of them were indifferent to women, so that this passion is more imperious than the other. But since we are addressing the Church, let us not take our examples from the Heathens, but from the Scriptures. This then the blessed Paul places almost in the rank of a command. “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.”4 (1 Tim. 6:8.) But concerning women he says, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent”—and “come together again.” (1 Cor. 7:5.) And you see him often laying down rules for a lawful intercourse, and he permits the enjoyment of this desire, and allows of a second marriage, and bestows much consideration upon the matter, and never punishes on account of it. But he everywhere condemns him that is fond of money. Concerning wealth also Christ often commanded that we should avoid the corruption of it, but He says nothing about abstaining from a wife. For hear what He says concerning money; “Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath” (Luke 14:33); but he nowhere says, “Whosoever forsaketh not his wife”; for he knew how imperious that passion is. And the blessed Paul says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4); but he has nowhere said that the care of riches is honorable, but the reverse. Thus he says to Timothy, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts.” (1 Tim. 6:9.) He says not, they that will be covetous, but, they that will be rich.

And that you may learn from the common, notions the true state of this matter, it must be set before you generally. If a man were once for all deprived of money, he would no longer be tormented with the desire of it, for nothing so much causes the desire of wealth, as the possession of it. But it is not so with respect to lust, but many who have been made eunuchs have not been freed from the flame that burned within them, for the desire resides in other organs, being seated inwardly in our nature. To what purpose then is this said? Because the covetous is more intemperate than the fornicator, inasmuch as the former gives way to a weaker passion. Indeed it proceeds less from passion than from baseness of mind. But lust is natural, so that if a man does not approach a woman, nature performs her part and operation. But there is nothing of this sort in the case of avarice.

“That we should live godly in this present world.”

And what is this hope? what the reward of our labors?

“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing.”

For nothing is more blessed and more desirable than that appearing. Words are not able to represent it, the blessings thereof surpass our understanding.

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour.”1

Where are those who say that the Son is inferior to the Father?

“Our great God and Saviour.” He who saved us when we were enemies. What will He not do then when He has us approved?2

“The great God.” When he says great with respect to God, he says it not comparatively but absolutely,3 after Whom no one is great, since it is relative. For if it is relative, He is great by comparison, not great by nature. But now He is incomparably great.

Ver. 14. “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people.”

“Peculiar”: that is, selected from the rest, and having nothing in common with them.

“Zealous of good works.”

Dost thou see that our part is necessary, not merely works, but “zealous”; we should with all alacrity, with a becoming earnestness, go forward in virtue. For when we were weighed down with evils, and incurably diseased, it was of His lovingkindness that we were delivered. But what follows after this is our part as well as His.

Ver. 15. “These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.”

“These things speak and exhort.” Do you see how he charges Timothy? “Reprove, rebuke, exhort.” But here, “Rebuke with all authority.” For the manners of this people were more stubborn, wherefore he orders them to be rebuked more roughly, and with all authority. For there are some sins, which ought to be prevented by command. We may with persuasion advise men to despise riches, to be meek, and the like. But the adulterer, the fornicator, the defrauder, ought to be brought to a better course by command. And those who are addicted to augury and divination, and the like, should be corrected “with all authority.” Observe how he would have him insist on these things with independence, and with entire freedom.4

“Let no man despise thee.” But

Chap. 3:1. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers.”

What then? even when men do evil, may we nor revile them? nay, but “to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man.” Hear the exhortation, “To speak evil of no man.” Our lips should be pure from reviling. For if our reproaches are true, it is not for us to utter them, but for the Judge to enquire into the matter. “For why,” he says, “dost thou judge thy brother?” (Rom. 14:10.) But if they are not true, how great the fire.5 Hear what the thief says to his fellow-thief. “For we are also in the same condemnation.” (Luke 23:40.) We are running the same hazard.6 If thou revilest others, thou wilt soon fall into the same sins. Therefore the blessed Paul admonishes us: “Let him that standeth, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12.)

“To be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.”

Unto Greeks and Jews, to the wicked and the evil. For when he says, “Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall,” he wakens their fears from the future; but here, on the contrary, he exhorts them from the consideration of the past, and the same in what follows;

Ver. 3. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish.”

Thus also he does in his Epistle to the Galatians, where he says, “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” (Gal. 4:4.) Therefore he says, Revile no one, for such also thou wast thyself.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”

Therefore we ought to be thus to all, to be gently disposed. For he who was formerly in such a state, and has been delivered from it, ought not to reproach others, but to pray, to be thankful to Him who has granted both to him and them deliverance from such evils. Let no one boast; for all have sinned. If then, doing well thyself, thou art inclined to revile others, consider thy own former life, and the uncertainty of the future, and restrain thy anger.7 For if thou hast lived virtuously from thy earliest youth, yet nevertheless thou mayest have many sins; and if thou hast not, as thou thinkest, consider that this is not the effect of thy virtue, but of the grace of God. For if He had not called thy forefathers, thou wouldest have been disobedient. See here how he mentions every sort of wickedness. How many things has not God dispensed by the Prophets and all other means? have we heard?

“For we,” he says, “were once deceived”

Ver. 4. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” How? “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Strange! How were we drowned1 in wickedness, so that we could not be purified, but needed a new birth? For this is implied by “Regeneration.” For as when a house is in a ruinous state no one places props under it, nor makes any addition to the old building, but pulls it down to its foundations, and rebuilds it anew; so in our case, God has not repaired us, but has made us anew. For this is “the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” He has made us new men. How? “By His Spirit”; and to show this further, he adds,

Ver. 6. “Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

Thus we need the Spirit abundantly.

“That being justified by His grace”—again by grace and not by debt—“we may be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

At the same time there is an incitement to humility, and a hope for the future. For if when we were so abandoned, as to require to be born again, to be saved by grace, to have no good in us, if then He saved us, much more will He save us in the world to come.

For nothing was worse than the brutality of mankind before the coming of Christ. They were all affected towards each other as if enemies and at war. Fathers slew their own sons, and mothers were mad against their children. There was no order settled, no natural, no written law; everything was subverted. There were adulteries continually, and murders, and things if possible worse than murders, and thefts; indeed we are told by one of the heathen, that this practice was esteemed a point of virtue. And naturally, since they worshiped a god2 of such character. Their oracles frequently required them to put such and such men to death. Let me tell you one of the stories of that time. One Androgeus, the son of Minos, coming to Athens, obtained a victory in wrestling, for which he was punished and put to death. Apollo therefore, remedying one evil by another, ordered twice seven youths to be executed on his account. What could be more savage than this tyrannical command? And it was executed too. A man undertook to atone the mad rage of the demon, and slew these young men, because the deceit of the oracle prevailed with them. But afterwards, when the young men resisted and stood upon their defense, it was no longer done. If now it had been just, it ought not to have been prevented, but if unjust, as undoubtedly it was, it ought not to have been commanded at all. Then they worshiped boxers and wrestlers. They waged constant wars in perpetual succession, city by city, village by village, house by house. They were addicted to the love of boys, and one of their wise men made a law that Pædrasty, as well as anointing for wrestling,3 should not be allowed to slaves, as if it was an honorable thing; and they had houses for this purpose, in which it was openly practiced. And if all that was done among them was related, it would be seen that they openly outraged nature, and there was none to restrain them. Then their dramas were replete with adultery, lewdness, and corruption of every sort. In their indecent nocturnal assemblies, women were admitted to the spectacle. There was seen the abomination of a virgin sitting in the theater during the night, amidst a drunken multitude of young men madly reveling. The very festival was the darkness, and the abominable deeds practiced by them. On this account he says, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures.” One man loved his stepmother,4 a woman her step-son, and in consequence hung herself. For as to their passion for boys, whom they called their “Pædica,” it is not fit to be named. And would you see a son married to his mother? This too happened among them, and what is horrible, though it was done in ignorance, the god whom they worshiped did not prevent it, but permitted this outrage to nature to be committed, and that though she was a person of distinction. And if those, who, if for no other reason, yet for the sake of their reputation with the multitude, might have been expected to adhere to virtue; if they rushed thus headlong into vice, what is it likely was the conduct of the greater part, who lived in obscurity? What is more diversified than this pleasure? The wife of a certain one fell in love with another man, and with the help of her adulterer, slew her husband upon his return. The greater part of you probably know the story. The son of the murdered man killed the adulterer, and after him his mother, then he himself became mad, and was haunted by furies. After this the madman himself slew another man, and took his wife. What can be worse than such calamities as these? But I mention these instances taken from the Heathens,1 with this view, that I may convince the Gentiles, what evils then prevailed in the world. But we may show the same from our own writings. For it is said, “They sacrificed their sons and daughters unto devils.” (Ps. 106:37.) Again, the Sodomites were destroyed for no other cause than their unnatural appetites. Soon after the coming of Christ, did not a king’s daughter dance at a banquet in the presence of drunken men, and did she not ask as the reward of her dancing the murder and the head of a Prophet? “Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?” (Ps. 6:2.)

“Hateful,” he says, “and hating one another.” For it must necessarily happen, when we let loose every pleasure on the soul, that there should be much hatred. For where love is, with virtue, no man overreacheth another in any matter. Mark also what Paul says, “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10.) Dost thou see how every species of wickedness prevailed? It was a state of gross darkness, and the corruption of all that was right. For if those who had the advantage of prophecies, and who saw so many evils inflicted upon their enemies, and even upon themselves, nevertheless did not restrain themselves, but committed numberless foolish crimes, what would be the case with others? One of their lawgivers ordered that virgins should wrestle naked in the presence of men. Many blessings on you! that ye cannot endure the mention of it; but their philosophers were not ashamed of the actual practice. Another, the chief of their philosophers, approves of their going out to the war, and of their being common,2 as if he were a pimp and pander to their lusts.

“Living in malice and envy.”

For if those who professed philosophy among them made such laws, what shall we say of those who were not philosophers? If such were the maxims of those who word a long beard, and assumed the grave cloak,3 what can be said of others? Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature. For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs. But you reduce the head to the feet, and raise the feet to the head. You suffer women to bear arms, and are not ashamed. But why do I mention these things? They introduce on the stage a woman that murders her own children, nor are they ashamed to stuff the ears of men with such abominable stories.

Ver. 4. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

What means, “according to the hope”? That, as we have hoped, so we shall enjoy eternal life, or because ye are even already heirs.

“This is a faithful saying.”

Because he had been speaking of things future and not of the present, therefore he adds, that it is worthy of credit. These things are true, he says, and this is manifest from what has gone before. For He who has delivered us from such a state of iniquity, and from so many evils, will assuredly impart to us the good things to come, if we abide in grace. For all proceeds from the same kind concern.

Moral. Let us then give thanks to God, and not revile them; nor accuse them, but rather let us beseech them, pray for them, counsel and advise them, though they should insult and spurn us. For such is the nature of those who are diseased.4 But those who are concerned for the health of such persons do all things and bear all things, though it may not avail, that they may not have themselves to accuse of negligence. Know ye not that often, when a physician despairs of a sick man, some relative standing by addresses him, “Bestow further attendance, leave nothing undone, that I may not have to accuse myself, that I may incur no blame,5 no self-reproach.” Do you not see the great care that near kinsmen take of their relations, how much they do for them, both entreating the physicians to cure them, and sitting perseveringly beside them? Let us at least imitate them. And yet there is no comparison between the objects of our concern. For if any one had a son diseased in his body, he could not refuse to take a long journey to free him from his disease. But when the soul is in a bad state, no one concerns himself about it, but we all are indolent, all careless, all negligent, and overlook our wives, our children, and ourselves, when attacked1 by this dangerous disease. But when it is too late, we become sensible of it. Consider how disgraceful and absurd it is to say afterwards, “we never looked for it, we never expected that this would be the event.” And it is no less dangerous than disgraceful. For if in the present life it is the part of foolish men to make no provision for the future, much more must it be so with respect to the next life, when we hear many counseling us, and informing us what is to be done, and what not to be done. Let us then hold fast that hope.2 Let us be careful of our salvation, let us in all things call upon God, that He may stretch forth His hand to us. How long will you be slothful? How long negligent? How long shall we be careless of ourselves and of our fellow-servants? He hath shed richly upon us the grace of His Spirit. Let us therefore consider how great is the grace he has bestowed upon us, and let us show as great earnestness ourselves, or, since this is not possible, some, although it be less. For if after this grace we are insensible, the heavier will be our punishment. “For if I,” He says, “had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin.” (John 15:22.) But God forbid that this should be said of us, and grant that we may all be thought worthy of the blessings promised to those who have loved Him, in Jesus Christ our Lord, &c.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, fathers of the church, Notes on Titus, Scripture, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 2:2-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

HOMILY 4
TITUS 2:2-10

“That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

There are some failings which age has, that youth has not. Some indeed it has in common with youth, but in addition it has2 a slowness, a timidity, a forgetfulness, an insensibility, and an irritability. For this reason he exhorts old men concerning these matters, “to be vigilant.”3 For there are many things which at this period make men otherwise than vigilant, especially what I mentioned, their general insensibility, and the difficulty of stirring or exciting them. Wherefore he also adds, “grave, temperate.”4 Here he means prudent. For temperance is named from the well-tempered5 mind. For there are, indeed there are, among the old, some who rave and are beside themselves, some from wine, and some from sorrow. For old age makes them narrowminded.

“Sound in faith, in charity [love], in patience.”

He has well added “in patience,” for this quality more especially befits old men.

Ver. 3. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness.”

That is, that in their very dress and carriage they exhibit modesty.

“Not false accusers, not given to much wine.”

For this was particularly the vice of women and of old age. For from their natural coldness at that period of life arises the desire of wine, therefore he directs his exhortation to that point, to cut off all occasion of drunkenness, wishing them to be far removed from that vice, and to escape the ridicule that attends it. For the fumes mount more easily from beneath, and the membranes (of the brain) receive the mischief from their being impaired by age, and this especially causes intoxication. Yet wine is necessary at this age, because of its weakness, but much is not required. Nor do young women require much, though for a different reason, because it kindles the flame of lust.

“Teachers of good things.”

And yet thou forbiddest a woman to teach; how dost thou command it here, when elsewhere thou sayest, “I suffer not a woman to teach”? (1 Tim. 2:12.) But mark what he has added, “Nor to usurp authority over the man.” For at the beginning it was permitted to men to teach both men and women. But to women it is allowed to instruct by discourse at home. But they are nowhere permitted to preside, nor to extend their speech to great length, wherefore he adds, “Nor to usurp authority over the man.”

Ver. 4. “That they may teach the young women to be sober.”

Observe how he binds the people together, how he subjects the younger women to the elder. For he is not speaking there of daughters, but merely in respect of age. Let each of the elder women, he means, teach any one that is younger to be sober.

“To love their husbands.”

This is the chief point of all that is good in a household, “A man and his wife that agree together.” (Ecclus. 25:1.) For where this exists, there will be nothing that is unpleasant. For where the head is in harmony with the body, and there is no disagreement between them, how shall not all the other members be at peace? For when the rulers are at peace, who is there to divide and break up concord? as on the other hand, where these are ill disposed to each other, there will be no good order in the house. This then is a point of the highest importance, and of more consequence than wealth, or rank, or power, or aught else. Nor has he said merely to be at peace, but “to love their husbands.” For where love is, no discord will find admittance, far from it, other advantages too spring up.

“To love their children.” This is well added, since she who loves the root, will much more love the fruit.

“To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good.” All these spring from love. They become “good, and keepers at home,” from affection to their husbands.

“Obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

She who despises her husband, neglects also her house; but from love springs great soberness, and all contention is done away. And if he be a Heathen, he will soon be persuaded; and if he be a Christian, he will become a better man. Seest thou the condescension of Paul? He who in everything would withdraw us from worldly concerns, here bestows his consideration upon domestic affairs. For when these are well conducted, there will be room for spiritual things, but otherwise, they too will be marred. For she who keeps at home will be also sober, she that keeps at home will be also a prudent manager, she will have no inclination for luxury, unseasonable expenses, and other such things.

“That the word of God,” he says, “be not blasphemed.”

See how his first concern is for the preaching of the word, not for worldly things; for when he writes to Timothy, he says, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2); and here, “that the word of God,” and the doctrine, “be not blasphemed.” For if it should happen that a believing woman, married to an unbeliever, should not be virtuous, the blasphemy is usually carried on to God; but if she be of good character, the Gospel obtains glory from her, and from her virtuous actions. Let those women hearken who are united to wicked men or unbelievers; let them hear, and learn to lead them to godliness by their own example. For if thou gain nothing else, and do not attract thy husband to embrace right doctrines, yet thou hast stopped his mouth, and dost not allow him to blaspheme Christianity; and this is no mean thing, but great indeed, that the doctrine should be admired through our conversation.

Ver. 6. “Young men likewise exhort to be soberminded.”

See how he everywhere recommends the observance of decorum. For he has committed to women the greater part in the instruction of women, having appointed the elder to teach the younger. But the whole instruction of men he assigns to Titus himself. For nothing is so difficult for that age as to overcome unlawful pleasures. For neither the love of wealth, nor the desire of glory, or any other thing so much solicits the young, as fleshly lust. Therefore passing over other things, he directs his admonition to that vital point. Not however that he would have other things neglected; for what says he?

Ver. 7. “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works.”

Let the elder women, he says, teach the younger, but do thou thyself exhort young men to be soberminded. And let the luster of thy life be a common school of instruction, a pattern of virtue to all, publicly exhibited, like some original model, containing in itself all beauties, affording examples whence those who are willing may easily imprint upon themselves any of its excellences.

Ver. 7, 8. “In [thy] doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

By “him that is of the contrary part,” he means the devil, and every one who ministers to him. For when the life is illustrious, and the discourse corresponds to it, being meek and gentle, and affording no handle to the adversaries, it is of unspeakable advantage. Of great use then is the ministry of the word, not any common word, but that which is approved, and cannot be condemned, affording no pretext to those who are willing to censure it.

Ver. 9. “Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things.”

Dost thou see what he has previously said, “that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” He therefore is deserving of condemnation, who under pretense of continence separates wives from their husbands, and he who under any other pretext takes away servants from their masters. This is not “speech that cannot be condemned,” but it gives great handle to the unbelieving, and opens the mouths of all against us.

“Not answering again.”

Ver. 10. “Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

Thus he has well said in another place, “Doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.” For if thou servest thy master with good will, yet the occasion of this service proceeds from thy fear,1 and he who with so great fear renders Him service, shall receive the greater reward. For if he restrain not his hand, or his unruly tongue, how shall the Gentile admire the doctrine that is among us? But if they see their slave, who has been taught the philosophy of Christ, displaying more self-command than their own philosophers, and serving with all meekness and good will, he will in every way admire the power of the Gospel. For the Greeks judge not of doctrines by the doctrine itself, but they make the life and conduct the test of the doctrines. Let women therefore and servants be their instructors by their conversation. For both among themselves, and everywhere, it is admitted that the race of servants is passionate, not open to impression, intractable, and not very apt to receive instruction in virtue, not from their nature, God forbid, but from their ill breeding,2 and the neglect of their masters. For those who rule them care about nothing but their own service; or if they do sometimes attend to their morals, they do it only to spare themselves the trouble that would be caused them by their fornication, their thefts, or their drunkenness, and being thus neglected and having no one to concern himself about them, they naturally sink into the very depths of wickedness. For if under the direction of a father and mother, a guardian, a master, and teacher, with suitable companions, with the honor of a free condition, and many other advantages, it is difficult to escape intimacies with the wicked, what can we expect from those who are destitute of all these, and are mixed up with the wicked, and associate fearlessly with whomsoever they will, no one troubling herself about their friendships? What sort of persons do we suppose they will be? On this account it is difficult for any servant to be good, especially when they have not the benefit of instruction either from those without or from ourselves. They do not converse with free men of orderly conduct, who have a great regard for their reputation. For all these reasons it is a difficult and surprising thing that there should ever be a good servant.

When therefore it is seen that the power of religion, imposing a restraint upon a class naturally so self-willed, has rendered them singularly well behaved and gentle, their masters, however unreasonable they may be, will form a high opinion of our doctrines. For it is manifest, that having previously infixed in their souls a fear of the Resurrection, of the Judgment, and of all those things which we are taught by our philosophy to expect after death, they have been able to resist wickedness, having in their souls a settled principle to counterbalance the pleasures of sin. So that it is not by chance or without reason, that Paul shows so much consideration for this class of men: since the more wicked they are, the more admirable is the power of that preaching which reforms them. For we then most admire a physician, when he restores to a healthy and sane state one who was despaired of, whom nothing benefited, who was unable to command his unreasonable desires, and wallowed in them. And observe what he most requires of them; the qualities which contribute most to their masters’ ease.

“Not answering again, not purloining”; that is, to show all good will in matters intrusted to them, to be particularly faithful in their masters’ concerns, and obedient to their commands.

Moral. Do not therefore think that I enlarge upon this subject without a purpose. For the rest of my discourse will be addressed to servants. Look not to this, my good friend, that thou servest a man, but that thy service is to God, that thou adornest the Gospel. Then thou wilt undertake everything in obedience to thy master, bearing with him, though impatient, and angry without a cause. Consider that thou art not gratifying him, but fulfilling the commandment of God; then thou wilt easily submit to anything. And what I have said before, I repeat here, that when our spiritual state is right, the things of this life will follow. For a servant, so tractable and so well disposed, will not only be accepted by God, and made partaker of those glorious crowns, but his master himself, whom he serves so well, even though he be brutish and stone-hearted, inhuman and ferocious, will commend and admire him, and will honor him above all the rest, and will set him over their heads, though he be a Gentile.

And that servants are required to be thus disposed towards a Gentile master, I will show you by an example. Joseph, who was of a different religion from the Egyptian, was sold to the chief cook.1 What then did he? When he saw the young man was virtuous, he did not consider the difference of their religion, but loved and favored and admired him, and committed the others to his superintendence, and knew nothing of the affairs of his own house because of him. Thus he was a second master, and even more of a master than his lord, for he knew more of his master’s affairs than his master himself. And even afterwards, as it seems to me, when he believed the unjust accusation framed against him by his wife, yet from his former regard for him, retaining a respect for that just man, he satisfied his resentment with imprisonment. For if he had not greatly reverenced and esteemed him from his former conduct, he would have thrust his sword through his body, and dispatched him at once. “For jealousy is the rage of a man; therefore he will not regard any ransom, neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” (Prov. 6:34, 35.) And if such is the jealousy of men in general, much more violent must it have been with him, an Egyptian and barbarian, and injured as he thought by one whom he had honored. For you all know that injuries do not affect us in the same way from all persons, but that those grieve us most bitterly and deeply which proceed from those who were well-affected toward us, who had trusted us and whom we had trusted, and who had received many kindnesses from us. He did not consider with himself, nor say, What! have I taken a servant into my house, shared with him my substance, made him free, and even greater than myself, and is this the return that he makes me? He did not say this, so much was his mind prepossessed by his previous respect for him.

And what wonder if he enjoyed so much honor in the house, when we see what great regard he obtained even in a prison. You know how practiced in cruelty are the dispositions of those who have the custody of prisons. They profit by the misfortune of others, and harass those whom others support in their afflictions, making a gain of them that is truly deplorable, with a more than brutal cruelty. For they take advantage of those wretched circumstances which ought to excite their pity. And we may further observe, that they do not treat in the same manner all their prisoners; for those who are confined upon accusation only, and who are injuriously treated, they perhaps pity, but they punish with numberless inflictions those who are imprisoned for shameful and atrocious crimes. So that the keeper of the prison not only from the manner of such men might have been expected to be inhuman, but from the cause for which he was imprisoned. For who would not have been incensed against a young man, who having been raised to so great honor, was charged with requiting such favors by a base attempt upon the master’s wife. Would not the keeper, considering these things, the honor to which he had been raised, and the crime for which he was imprisoned, would he not have treated him with more than brutal cruelty? But he was raised above all these things by his hope in God. For the virtue of the soul can mollify even wild beasts. And by the same meekness which had gained his master, he captivated also the keeper of the prison. Thus Joseph was again a ruler, he ruled in the prison as he had ruled in the house. For since he was destined to reign, it was fit that he should learn to be governed, and while he was governed he became a governor, and presided in the house.

For if Paul requires this of one who is2 promoted to a Church, saying, “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5), it was fit that he who was to be a governor, should first be an excellent ruler of the house. He presided over the prison, not as over a prison, but as if it had been a house. For he alleviated the calamities of all, and took charge of those who were imprisoned as if they had been his own members, not only taking an interest in their misfortunes and consoling them, but if he saw any one absorbed in thought, he went to him and enquired the cause, and could not bear even to see any one dejected, or be easy till he had relieved his dejection. Such love as this, many a one has not shown even to his own children. And to these things may be traced the beginning of his good fortune. For our part must go before, and then the blessing of God will follow.

For that he did show this care and concern we learn from the story. He saw, it is said, two eunuchs who had been cast into prison by Pharaoh, his chief butler and chief baker, and he said, “Wherefore look ye so sadly today?” (Gen. 40:7.) And not from this question only, but from the conduct of these men, we may discern his merit. For, though they were the officers of the king, they did not despise him, nor in their despair did they reject his services, but they laid open to him all their secret, as to a brother who could sympathize with them.

And all this has been said by me to prove, that though the virtuous man be in slavery, in captivity, in prison; though he be in the depth of the earth, nothing will be able to overcome him. This I have said to servants, that they may learn that though they have masters that are very brutes, as this Egyptian, or ferocious as the keeper of the prison, they may gain their regard, and though they be heathen as they were, or whatever they be, they may soon win them to gentleness. For nothing is more engaging than good manners, nothing more agreeable and delightful than meekness, gentleness, and obedience. A person of this character is suitable to all. Such an one is not ashamed of slavery, he does not avoid the poor, the sick, and the infirm. For virtue is superior, and prevails over everything. And if it has such power in slaves, how much more in those who are free? This then let us practice, whether bond or free, men or women. Thus we shall be loved both by God and men; and not only by virtuous men, but by the wicked; nay by them more especially, for they more especially honor and respect virtue. For as those who are under rule stand most in awe of the meek, so do the vicious most revere the virtuous, knowing from what they themselves have fallen. Since such then is the fruit of virtue, this let us pursue, and attain. If we adhere to this, nothing will be formidable, but all things easy and manageable. And though we pass through the fire and through the water, all things yield to virtue, even death itself. Let us then be zealous in the pursuit of it, that we may attain the good things to come, in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 1:12-2:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

HOMILY 3
TITUS 1:12-2:1

“One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Creatians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn born the truth.”

There are several questions here. First, who it was that said this? Secondly, why Paul quoted it? Thirdly, why he brings forward a testimony that is not correct? Let us then offer a seasonable solution of these, having premised some other things. For when Paul was discoursing to the Athenians, in the course of his harangue he quoted these words, “To the Unknown God”: and again, “For we also are His offspring, as certain also of your own poets have said.” (Acts 17:23, 28.) It was Epimenides1 who said this, himself a Cretan, and whence he was moved to say it is nesessary to mention. It is this. The Cretans have a tomb a Jupiter, with this inscription. “Here lieth Zan, whom they call Jove.” On account of this inscription, then, the poet ridiculing the Cretans as liars, as he proceeds, introduces, to increase the ridicule, this passage.

For even a tomb, O King, of thee

They made, who never diedst, but aye shalt be.

If then this testimony is true, observe what a difficulty! For if the poet is true who said that they spoke falsely, in asserting that Jupiter could die, as the Apostle says, it is a fearful thing! Attend, beloved, with much exactness. The poet said that the Cretans were liars for saying that Jupiter was dead. The Apostle confirmed his testimony: so, according to the Apostle, Jupiter is immortal: for he says, “this witness is true”! What shall we say then? Or rather how shall we solve this? The Apostle has not said this, but simply and plainly applied this testimony to their habit of falsehood. Else why has he not added, “For even a tomb, O king, of thee, they made”? So that the Apostle has not said this, but only that one had well said, “The Creatians are always liars.” But it is not only from hence that we are confident that Jupiter is not a God. From many other arguments we are able to prove this, and not from the testimony of the Cretans. Besides, he has not said, that in this they were liars. Nay and it is more probable that they were deceived as to this point too.2 For they believed in other gods, on which account the Apostle calls them liars.

And as to the question, why does he cite the testimonies of the Greeks? It is because we put them most to confusion when we bring our testimonies and accusations from their own writers, when we make those their accusers, who are admired among themselves. For this reason he elsewhere quotes those words, “To the Unknown God.” For the Athenians, as they did not receive all their gods from the beginning, but from time to time admitted some other, as those from the Hyperboreans, the worship of Pan, and the greater and the lesser mysteries, so these same, conjecturing that besides these there might be some other God, of whom they almost implying, “if there might be some God unknown to them.” He therefore said to them, Him whom you have by anticipation acknowledged, I declare to you. But those words, “We also are His offspring,” are quoted from Aratus, who having preciously said, “Earth’s paths are full of Jove, the sea is full”—adds, “For we too are His offerings,” in which I conceive he shows that we are sprung from God. How then does Paul wrest what is said of Jupiter to the God of the universe? He has not transferred to God, and was neither justly nor properly applied to Jupiter, this he restores to God, since the name of God belongs to Him alone, and is not lawfully bestowed upon idols.

And from what writers should he address them? From the Prophets? They would not have believe them. Since with the Jews too he does not argue from the Gospels, but from the Prophets. For this reason he says, “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, to them that are without law, as without law, to those that are under the Law, as under the Law.” (1 Cor. 9:20, 21.) Thus does God too, as in the case of the wise men, He does not conduct them by an Angel, nor a Prophet, nor an Apostle, nor an Evangelist, but how? By a start. For as their art made them conversant with these, He made use of such means to guide them. So in the case of the oxen, that drew the ark. “If it goeth up by the way of his own coast, then He hath done us this great evil” (1 Sam. 6:9), as their prophets suggested. Do these prophets then speak the truth? No; but he refutes and confounds them out of their own mouths. Again, in the case of the witch, because Saul believed in her, he caused him to hear through her what was about to befall him. Why then did Paul stop the mouth of the spirit, that said, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation”? (Acts 16:17.) And why did Christ hinder the devils from speaking of Him? In this case there was reason, since the miracles were going on. For here it was not a star that proclaimed Him, but He Himself; and the demons again were not worshiped1; for it was not an image that spoke, that it should be forbidden. He also suffered Balaam to bless, and did not restrain him. Thus He everywhere condescends.

And what wonder? for He permitted opinions erroneous, and unworthy of Himself, to prevail, as that He was a body formerly,2 and that He was visible. In opposition to which He says, “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24.) Again, that He delighted in sacrifices, which is far from His nature. And He utters words at variance with His declarations of Himself, and many such things. For He nowhere considers His own dignity, but always what will be profitable to us. And if a father considers not his own dignity, but talks lispingly with his children, and calls their meat and drink not by their Greek names, but by some childish and barbarous words, much more doth God. Even in reproving He condescends, as when He speaks by the prophet, “Hath a nation changed their gods?” (Jer. 2:11), and in every part of Scripture there are instances of His condescension both in words and actions.

Ver. 13. “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.”

This he says, because their disposition was froward, deceitful, and dissolute. They have these numberless bad qualities; and because they are prone to lying, deceiving, gluttonous, and slothful, severe reproof is necessary. For such characters will not be managed by mildness, “therefore rebuke them.” He speaks not here of Gentiles, but of his own people. “Sharply.” Give them, he says, a stroke that cuts deep. For one method is not to be employed with all, but they are to be differently dealt with, according to their various characters and dispositions. He does not here have recourse to exhortation. For as he who treats with harshness the meek and ingenuous, may destroy them; so he who flatters one that requires severity, causes him to perish, and does not suffer him to be reclaimed.

“That they may be sound in the faith.”

This then is soundness, to introduce nothing spurious, nor foreign. But if they who are scrupulous about meats are not sound, but are sick and weak; for, “Them that are weak,” he says, “receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” (Rom 14:1); what can be said of those who observe the same fasts, (with the Jews,) who keep the sabbaths, who frequent the places that are consecrated by them? I speak of that at Daphne,3 of that which is called the cave of Matrona, and of that plain in Cilicia, which is called Saturn’s. How are these sound? With them a heavier stroke is necessary. Why then does he not do the same with the Romans? Because their dispositions were different, they were of a nobler character.

Ver. 14. “Not giving heed,” he says, “to Jewish fables.”

The Jewish tenets were fables in two ways, because they were imitations, and because the thing was past its season, for such things become fables at last. For when a thing ought not to be done, and being done, is injurious, it is a fable even as it is useless. As then those4 ought not to be regarded, so neither ought these. For this is not being sound. For if thou believest the Faith, why dost thou add other things, as if the faith were not sufficient to justify? Why dost thou enslave thyself by subjection to the Law? Hast thou no confidence in what thou believest? This is a mark of an unsound and unbelieving mind. For one who is faithful does not doubt, but such an one evidently doubts.

Ver. 15. “Unto the pure,” he says, “all things are pure.”

Thou seest that this is said to a particular purpose.

“But unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure.”

Things then are not clean or unclean from their own nature, but from the disposition of him who partakes of them.

“But even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

Ver. 16. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.”

The swine therefore is clean. Why then was it forbidden as unclean? It was not unclean by nature; for, “all things are pure.” Nothing is more unclean than a fish, inasmuch as it even feeds upon human flesh. But it was permitted and considered clean. Nothing is more unclean than a bird, for it eats worms; or than a stag, which is said to have its name1 from eating serpents. Yet all these were eaten. Why then was the swine forbidden, and many other things? Not because they were unclean, but to check excessive luxury. But had this been said, they would not have been persuaded; they were restrained therefore by the fear of uncleanness. For tell me, if we enquire nicely into these things, what is more unclean than wine; or than water, with which they mostly purified themselves? They touched not the dead, and yet they were cleansed by the dead, for the victim was dead, and with that they were cleansed. This therefore was a doctrine for children. In the composition of wine, does not dung form a part? For as the vine draws moisture from the earth, so does it from the dung that is thrown upon it. In short, if we wish to be very nice, everything is unclean, otherwise if we please not to be nice, nothing is unclean. Yet all things are pure. God made nothing unclean, for nothing is unclean, except sin only. For that reaches to the soul, and defiles it. Other uncleanness is human prejudice.

“But unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

For how can there be anything unclean among the pure? But he that has a weak soul makes everything unclean, and if there be set abroad a scrupulous enquiry into what is clean or unclean, he will touch nothing. For even these things are not clean, I speak of fish, and other things, according to their notions; (for “their mind and conscience,” he says, “is defiled,”) but all are impure. Yet Paul says not so; he turns the whole matter upon themselves. For nothing is unclean, he says, but themselves, their mind and their conscience; and nothing is more unclean than these;2 but an evil will is unclean.

“They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

2:1. “But speak thou the things that become sound doctrine.”

This then is uncleanness. They are themselves unclean. But be not thou silent on that account. Do thy part, although they may not receive thee. Advise and counsel them, though they may not be persuaded. Here he censures them more severely. For they who are mad imagine that nothing stands still, yet this arises not from the objects that are seen, but from the eyes that see. Because they are unsteady and giddy, they think that the earth turns round with them, which yet turns not, but stands firm. The derangement3 is of their own state, not from any affection of the element. So it is here, when the soul is unclean, it thinks all things unclean. Therefore scrupulous observances are no mark of purity, but it is the part of purity to be bold in all things. For he that is pure by nature ventures upon all things, they that are defiled, upon nothing. This we may say against Marcion. Seest thou that it is a mark of purity to be superior to all defilement, to touch nothing implies impurity. This holds even with respect to God. That He assumed flesh is a proof of purity; if through fear He had not taken it, there would have been defilement. He who eats not things that seem unclean, is himself unclean and weak, he who eats, is neither. Let us not call such pure, they are the unclean. He is pure, who dares to feed upon all things. All this caution we ought to exercise towards the things that defile the soul. For that is uncleanness, that is defilement. None of these things is so. Those who have a vitiated palate think what is set before them is unclean, but this is the effect of their disorder. It becomes us therefore to understand the nature of things pure, and things unclean.

Moral. What then is unclean? Sin, malice, covetousness, wickedness.4 As it is written: “Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings.” (Isa. 1:16.) “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Ps. 51:10.) “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing.” (Isa. 52:11.) These observances were emblems of purifications.5 “Touch not a dead body,” it is said. For sin is such, it is dead and offensive. “The leper is unclean.” For sin is a leprosy, various and multiform. And that they had this meaning, appears from what follows. For if the leprosy is general, and overspreads the whole body, he is clean; if it is partial, he is unclean. Thus you see that what is various and changeable is the unclean thing. He again whose seed passes from him is unclean, consider one that is so in soul, casting away his seed. He who is uncircumcised is unclean. These things are not allegorical6 but typical, for he who does not cut off the wickedness of his heart is the unclean person. He who worketh on the Sabbath is to be stoned, that is, he who is not at all times devoted to God, shall perish.7 You see how many varieties of uncleanness there are. The woman in child-bed is unclean. Yet God made child-birth, and the seed of copulation. Why then is the woman unclean, unless something further was intimated? And what was this? He intended to produce piety in the soul, and to deter it from fornication. For if she is unclean who has borne a child, much more she who has committed fornication. If to approach his own wife is not altogether pure, much less to have intercourse with the wife of another. He who attends a funeral is unclean, much more he who has mixed in war and slaughter. And many kinds of uncleanness would be found, if it were necessary to recount them all. But these things are not now required of us. But all is transferred to the soul.

For bodily things are nearer to us, from these therefore he introduced instruction. But it is not so now. For we ought not to be confined to figures, and shadows, but to adhere to the truth, and to uphold it: sin is the unclean thing. From that let us flee, from that let us abstain. “If thou comest near it, it will bite1 thee.” (Ecclus. 21:2.) Nothing is more unclean than covetousness. Whence is this manifest? From the facts themselves. For what does it not defile? the hands, the soul, the very house where the ill-gotten treasure is laid up. But the Jews consider this as nothing. And yet Moses carried off the bones of Joseph. Samson drank from the jawbone of an ass, and ate honey from the lion, and Elijah was nourished by ravens, and by a widow woman. And tell me, if we were to be precise about these things, what can be more unclean than our books, which are made of the skins of animals? The fornicator, then, is not the only one that is unclean, hut others more than he, as the adulterer. But both the one and the other are unclean, not on account of the intercourse, (for according to that reasoning a man cohabiting with his own wife would be unclean,) but because of the wickedness of the act, and the injury done to his neighbor in his nearest interests. Dost thou see that it is wickedness that is unclean? He who had two wives was not unclean, and David who had many wives was not unclean. But when he had one unlawfully, he became unclean. Why? Because he had injured and defrauded his neighbor. And the fornicator is not unclean on account of the intercourse, but on account of the manner of it, because it injures the woman, and they injure one another, making the woman common, and subverting the laws of nature. For she ought to be the wife of one man, since it is said, “Male and female created He them.” (Gen. 1:27.) And, “they twain shall be one flesh.” Not “those many,” but “they twain shall be one flesh.” Here then is injustice, and therefore the act is wicked. Again, when anger exceeds due measure, it makes a man unclean, not in itself, but because of its excess. Since it is not said, “He that is angry,” merely, but “angry without a cause.” Thus every way to desire overmuch is unclean, for it proceeds from a greedy and irrational disposition. Let us therefore be sober, I beseech you, let us be pure, in that which is real purity, that we may be thought worthy to see God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 1:5-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

HOMILY 2
TITUS 1:5-11

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.”

The whole life of men in ancient times was one of action and contention; ours on the contrary is a life of indolence. They knew that they were brought into the world for this purpose, that they might labor according to the will of Him who brought them into it; but we, as if spiritual things. I speak not only of the Apostles, but of those that followed them. You see them accordingly traversing all places, and pursuing this as their only business, living altogether as in a foreign land, as those who had no city upon earth. Hear therefore what the blessed Apostle saith,

“For this cause left I thee in Crete.”

As if the whole world had been one house, they divided it among themselves, administering its affairs everywhere, each taking care of his several portion of it.

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are [R. V. were] wanting.”

He does not command this in an imperious manner; “that thou shouldest set in order,” he says. Here we see a soul free from all envy, seeking everywhere the advantage of his disciples, not curiously solicitous, whether the good was done by himself or by another. For where he in his own person set it in order. But those things which were rather attended with honor and praise he committed to his disciple, as the ordination of Bishops, and such other things as required some farther arrangement,1 or, so to speak, to be brought to greater perfection. What sayest thou? does he farther set in order thy work? and dost thou not think it a disgrace bringing shame upon thee? By no means; for I look only to the common good, and whether it be done by me, or by another, it makes no difference to me. Thus it becomes him to be affected who presides in the Church, not to seek his own honor, but the common good.

“And ordain elders in every city,” here he is speaking of Bishops, as we have before said,2 “as I had appointed thee. If any is blameless.” “In every city,” he says, for he did not wish the whole island to be intrusted to one, but that each should have his own charge and care, for thus he would have less labor himself, and those under his rule would receive greater attention, if the Teacher had not to go about to3 the presidency of many Churches, but was left to be occupied with one only, and to bring that into order.

Ver. 6. “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.”

Why does he bring forward such an one? To stop the mouths of those heretics, who comdemned marriage, showing that it is not an unholy thing in itself, but so far honorable, that a married man might ascend the holy throne; and at the same reproving the wanton, and not permitting their admission into this high office who contracted a second marriage. For he who retains no kind regard for her who is departed, how shall he be a good president? and what accusation would he not incur? For you all know, that though it is not forbidden by the laws to enter into a second marriage, yet it is a thing liable to many ill constructions. Wishing therefore a ruler to give no handle for reproach to those under his rule, he on this account says, “If any be blameless,”4 that is, if his life be free from reproach, if he has given occasion to no one to assail his character. Hear what Christ says, “If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23.)

“Having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.”

We should observe what care he bestows upon children. For he who cannot be the instructor of his own children, how should he be the Teacher of others? If he cannot keep in order those whom he has had with him from the beginning, whom he has brought up, and without? For if the incompetency5 of the father had not been great, he would not have allowed those to become bad whom from the first he had under his power. For it is not possible, indeed it is not, that one should turn out ill who is brought up with much care, and has received great attention. Sins are not so prevalent by nature, as to overcome so much previous care. But if, occupied in the pursuit of wealth, he has made his children a secondary concern, and not bestowed much care upon them, even so he is unworthy. For if when nature prompted, he was so void of affection or so senseless, that he thought more of his wealth than of his children, how should he be raised to the Episcopal throne, and so great rule? For if he was unable to restrain them it is a great proof of his weakness; and if he was unconcerned, his want of affection is much to be blamed. He then that neglects his own children, how shall he take care of other men’s? And he has not only said, “not riotous,” but not even “accused of riot.” There must not be an ill report, or such an opinion of them.

Ver. 7. “For a Bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker.”

For a ruler without, as he rules by law and compulsion, perhaps does not consult the wishes of those under his rule. But he who ought to rule men with their own consent, and who will be thankful for his rule, if he so conduct himself as to do everything of his own will, and share counsels with no one, makes his presidency tyrannical rather than popular. For he must be “blameless, as the steward of God, not self-willed, not soon angry.” For how shall he instruct others to rule that passion, who has not taught himself? For power leads on to many temptations, it makes a man more harsh and difficult to please, even him that was very mild, surrounding him with so many occasions of anger. If he have not previously practiced himself in this virtue, he will grow harsh, and will injure and destroy much that is under his rule.

“Not given to wine,1 no striker.” Here he is speaking of the insolent man. For he should do all things by admonition or rebuke, and not by insolence. What necessity, tell me, for insult? He ought to terrify, to alarm, to penetrate the soul with the threat of hell. But he that is insulted becomes more impudent, and rather despises him that insults him. Nothing produces contempt more than insult; it disgraces the insolent person, and prevents his being respected, as he ought to be. Their discourse ought to be delivered with much caution. In reproving sins they should bear in mind the future judgment, but keep clear of all insolence. Yet if any prevent them from doing their duty, they must prosecute the matter with all authority. “Not a striker,” he says. The teacher is the physician of souls. But the physician does not strike, but heals and restores him that has stricken him. “Not given to filthy lucre.”

Ver. 8. “But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate.”

Ver. 9. “Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught.”

You see what intensity of virtue he required. “Not given to filthy lucre,” that is, showing great contempt for money. “A lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy”; he means, giving away all his substance to them that need. “Temperate”; he speaks not here of one who fasts, but of one who commands his passions, his tongue, his hands, his eyes. For this is temperance, to be drawn aside by no passion.

“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught.” By “faithful” is here meant “true,” or that which was delivered through faith, not requiring reasonings, or questionings.

“Holding fast,” that is, having care of it, making it his business. What then, if he be ignorant of the learning that is without? For this cause, he says, “the faithful word, according to teaching.”2

“That he may be able both to exhort, and to convince the gainsayers.”

So that there is need not of pomp of words, but of strong minds, of skill in the Scriptures and of powerful thoughts. Do you not see that Paul put to flight the whole world, that he was more powerful than Plato and all the rest? But it was by miracles, you say. Not by miracles only, for if you peruse the Acts of the Apostles, you will find him often prevailing by his teaching previously to his miracles.

“That he may be able by sound doctrine to exhort,” that is, to retain his own people, and to overthrow the adversaries. “And to convince the gainsayers.” For if this is not done, all is lost. He who knows not how to combat the adversaries, and to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” and to beat down reasonings, he who knows not what he ought to teach with regard to right doctrine, far from him be the Teacher’s throne. For the other qualities may be found in those under his rule, such as to be “blameless, to have his children in subjection, to be hospitable, just, holy.” But that which characterizes the Teacher is this, to be able to instruct in the word, to which no regard is now paid.

Ver. 10. “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision;”

Ver. 11. “Whose mouths must be stopped.”

Seest thou how he shows that they are such? From their not wishing to be ruled, but to rule. For he has glanced at this. When therefore thou canst not persuade them, do not give them charges, but stop their mouths, for the benefit of others. But of what advantage will this be, if they will not obey, or are unruly? Why then should he stop their mouths? In order that others may be benefited by it.

“Who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake.”

For if he has undertaken the office of a Teacher, and is not able to combat these enemies, and to stop their mouths who are so shameless, he will become in each case the cause of their destination who perish. And if some one has thus advised, “Seek not to be a judge, unless thou canst take away iniquity” (Ecclus. 7:6); much more may we say here, “Seek not to be a Teacher, if thou art unequal to the dignity of the office; but though dragged to it, decline it.” Dost thou see that the love of power,1 the love of for filthy lucre, is a cause of these evils? “Teaching things which they ought not,” he says, “for filthy lucre’s sake.”

Moral. For there is nothing which is not which is not spoiled by these passions. But as when violent winds, falling on a calm sea, turn it up from its foundation, and mingle the sand with the waves, so these passions assailing the soul turn all upside down, and dim the clearness of the mental sight, but especially does the mad desire of glory. For a contempt for money any one may easily attain, but to despise the honor that proceeds from the multitude, requires a great effort, a philosophic temper, a certain angelic soul that reaches to the very summit of heaven. For there is no passion so tyrannical, so universally prevalent, in a greater or less degree indeed, but still everywhere. How then shall we subdue it, if not wholly, yet in some little part? By looking up to heaven, by setting God before our eyes, by entertaining thoughts superior to early things. Imagine, when thou desirest glory, that thou hast already attained it, and mark the end, and thou wilt find it to be nothing. Consider with what loss it is attended, of how many and how great blessings it will deprive thee. For thou wilt undergo the toils and danger, yet be deprived of the fruits and rewards of them. Consider that the majority are bad, and despise their opinion. In the case of each individual, consider what the man is, and thou wilt see how ridiculous a thing is glory, that it is rather to be called shame.

And after this, lift up thy thoughts to the theater2 above. When in doing any good thou considerest that it ought to be displayed to men, and thou seekest for some spectators of the action, and art in travail to be seen, reflect that God beholds thee, and all that desire will be extinguished. Retire from the earth, and look to that theater that is in Heaven. If men should praise thee, yet hereafter they will blame thee, will envy thee, will assail thy character; or if they do not, yet their praise will not benefit thee. It is not so with God. He delights in praising our virtuous deeds. Hast thou spoken well, and obtained applause? What hast thou gained? For if those who applauded thee were benefited, changed in their minds, become better men, and had desisted from their evil deeds, then mightest thou indeed rejoice, not at the praises bestowed, but at the wonderful change for the better. But if they continue their praises, and loud plaudits, but gain no good by what they applaud, thou oughtest rather to grieve: for these things turn to their judgment and condemnation.3 But thou obtainest glory for thy piety. If thou art truly pious, and conscious of no guilt, thou shouldest rejoice, not because thou are reputed pious, but because thou art so. But if, without bring so, thou desirest the good opinion of the multitude, consider that they will not be thy judges at the last day, but He who knoweth perfectly the things that are hid. And if while conscious of guilt, thou art supposed by all to be pure, instead of rejoicing, thou shouldest grieve and mourn bitterly, keeping constantly in view that Day, in which all things will be revealed, in which the hidden things of darkness will be brought to light.

Dost thou enjoy honor? reject it, knowing that it renders thee a debtor. Does no one honor thee? thou oughtest to rejoice at it. For God will not lay4 to thy charge this, among other things, that thou hast enjoyed honor. Seest thou not that God upbraids Israel with this among other things, by his prophet, “I took of your sons for Prophets, and of your young men for sanctification”? (Amos 2:11, Sept.) Thou wilt therefore gain this advantage at least, that thou wilt not aggravate thy punishment. For he who is not honored in the present life, who is despised, and held in no consideration, but is insulted and scorned, gains this at least, if nothing else, that he has not to answer for being honored by his fellow-servants.5 And on many other accounts he gains6 by it. He is brought down and humbled, nor if he would, can he be high-minded, if7 he takes the more heed to himself. But he, who enjoys more honor, besides being responsible for great debts, is lifted up into arrogance and vainglory, and becomes the slave of men; and as this tyranny increases, he is compelled to do many things which he would not.

Knowing therefore that it is better to want glory, than to possess it, let us not seek for honors, but evade them when they are offered, let us cast them from us, let us extinguish that rulers of the church, and to those under their rule. For a soul desirous of honor, and of being glorified, shall not see the kingdom of heaven. This is not my own saying. I speak not my own words, but those of the Spirit of God. He shall not see it, though he practice virtue. For he saith, “They have their reward.” (Matt. 6:5.) He then, who has no reward to receive, how shall he see the kingdom of heaven? I forbid thee not to desire glory, but I would wish it to be the true glory, that which proceeds from God. “Whose praise,” it is said, “is not of men, but of God.” (Rom. 2:29.) Let us be pious in secret, not cumbered with parade, and show, and hypocrisy. Let us cast away the sheep’s clothing, and rather let us become sheep. Noting is more worthless than the glory of men. Should thou see a company of little children, mere sucklings, wouldest thou desire glory from them?1 Be thus affected towards all men with respect to glory.

It is for this reason called vainglory. Dost thou see the masks worn by stage-players? how beautiful and splendid they are, fashioned to the extreme height of elegance. Canst thou show me any such real countenance? By no means. What then? didst thou ever fall in love with them? No. Wherefore? Because they are empty, imitating beauty, but not being really beautiful. Thus human glory is empty, and an imitation of glory: it is not true glory. That beauty only which is natural, which is within, is lasting: that which is put on externally often conceals deformity, conceals it from men until the evening. But when the theater breaks-up, and the masks are taken off, each appears what he really is.

Let us therefore pursue truth, and not be as if we were on the stage and acting a part. For of what advantage is it, tell me, to be gazed at by a multitude? It is vainglory, and nothing else. For return to thy house, and solitude, and immediately all is gone. Thou hast gone to the market-place, thou hast turned upon thee the eyes of all present. What hast thou gained? Nothing. It vanished, and passed away like dissolving smoke. Do we then love things thus unsubstantial? How unreasonable is this! what madness! To one thing only let us look, to the never seek the praise of men; but if it falls to us, we shall despise, deride, and reject it. We shall be affected as those who desire gold, but receive clay. Let not any one praise thee, for it profits nothing; and if he blame thee, it harms thee not. But with God praise and blame are attended with real gain and loss, whilst all is vain that proceeds from men. And herein we are made like unto God, that He needs not glory from men. “I receive not” said Christ, “honor from men.” (John 5:41.) Is this then a light thing, tell me? When thou art unwilling to despise glory, say, “By despising it, I shall resemble God,” and immediately thou wilt despise it. But it is impossible that the slave of glory should not be a slave to all, more servile than slaves in reality. For we do not impose upon our slaves such tasks, as glory exacts from her captives. Base and shameful are the things she makes them say, and do,2 and suffer, and when she sees them obedient, she is the more urgent in her commands.

Let us fly then, I entreat you, let us fly from this slavery. But how shall we be able? If we think seriously3 of what is in this world, if we observe that things present are a dream, a shadow, and nothing better; we shall easily overcome this desire, and neither in little nor in great things shall be led captive by it. But if in little things we do not despise it, we shall easily be overcome by it in the most important. Let us therefore remove far from us the sources of it, and these are, folly, and meanness of mind, so that, if we assume a lofty spirit, we shall be able to look beyond honor from the multitude, and to extend our views to heaven, and obtain the good things there. Of which God grant that we may all be partakers, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 1:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

HOMILY 1
ON 1 TITUS 1:1-4

“Paul, a servant of God, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, mine own son after the common faith; Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

Titus was an approved one of the companions of Paul; otherwise, he would not have committed to him the charge of that whole island, nor would he have commanded him to supply what was deficient, as he says, “That thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting.” (Ver. 5.) He would not have given him jurisdiction over so many Bishops, if he had not placed great confidence in him. They say that he also was a young man, because he calls him his son, though this does not prove it. I think that there is mention made of him in the Acts.In the Vulgate, Acts 18:7, there is mention of “Titus, surnamed Justus,” at Corinth, and a few MSS. have the name. In the Syriac, which St. Chrysostom might know, “Titus” stands for “Justus.” [W. and Hort. read: Τιτίου ʼΙούστου.—P. S.]

“>1 Perhaps he was a Corinthian, unless there was some other of the same name. And he summons Zenas, and orders Apollos to be sent to him, never Titus. (Tit. 3:13.) For he also attests their superior virtue and courage in the presence of the Emperor.

Some time seems to have since elapsed, and Paul, when he wrote this Epistle, appears to have been at liberty. For he says nothing about his trials, but dwells continually upon the grace of God, as being a sufficient encouragement to believers to persevere in virtue. For to learn what they had deserved, and to what state they had been transferred, and that by grace, and what had been vouchsafed them, was no little encouragement. He takes aim also against the Jews, and if he censures the whole nation, we need not wonder, for he does the same in the case of the Galatians, saying, “O foolish Galatians.” (Gal. 3:1.) And this does not proceed from a censorious temper, but from affection. For if it were done for his own sake, one might fairly blame him; but if from the fervor of his zeal for the Gospel, it was not done reproachfully. Christ too, on many occasions, reproached the Scribes and Pharisees, not on his own account, but because they were the ruin of all the rest.

And he writes a short Epistle, with good reason, and this is a proof of the virtue of Titus, that he did not require many words, but a short remembrance. But this Epistle seems to have been written before that to Timothy, for that he wrote as near his end and in prison, but here, as free and at liberty. For his saying, “I have determined to winter at Nicopolis” (Tit. 3:12), is a proof that he was not yet in bonds, as when he wrote to Timothy.

Ver. 1. “Paul, a servant of God, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect.”

You observe how he uses these expressions indifferently, sometimes calling himself the “servant of God,” and sometimes the “servant of Christ,” thus making no difference between the Father and the Son.

“According to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness. In hope of eternal life.”

“According to the faith of God’s elect.” It is because thou hast believed, or rather because thou wast intrusted? I think he meant, that he was intrusted with God’s elect, that is, not for any achievements of mine, nor from my toils and labors, did I receive this dignity. It was wholly the effect of His goodness who intrusted me. Yet that the grace may not seem without reason, (for still the whole was not of Him, for why did He not intrust it to others?) he therefore adds, “And the acknowledging of the truth that is after godliness.” For it was for this acknowledgment that I was intrusted, or rather it was of His grace that this too was intrusted to me, for He was the author of this also. Whence Christ Himself said, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.” (John 15:16.) And elsewhere this same blessed one writes, “I shall know, even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12.) And again, “If I may apprehend that, for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12.) First we are apprehended, and afterwards we know: first we are known, and then we apprehend:1 first we were called, and then we obeyed. But in saying, “according to the faith of the elect,” all is reckoned to them, because on their account I am an Apostle, not for my worthiness, but “for the elect’s sake.” As he elsewhere says, “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos.” (1 Cor. 3:21.)

“And the acknowledging the truth that is after godliness.” For there is a truth in other things, that is not according to godliness; for knowledge in matters of agriculture, knowledge of the arts, is true knowledge; but this truth is after godliness. Or this, “according to faith,” means that they believed, as the other elect believed, and acknowledged the truth. This acknowledging then is from faith, and not from reasonings.

“In hope of eternal life.” He spoke of the present life, which is in the grace of God, and he also speaks of the future, and sets before us the rewards that follow the mercies which God has bestowed upon us. For He is willing to crown us because we have believed, and have been delivered from error. Observe how the introduction is full of the mercies of God, and this whole Epistle is especially of the same character, thus exciting the holy man himself, and his disciples also, to greater exertions. For nothing profits us so much as constantly to remember the mercies of God, whether public or private. And if our hearts are warmed when we receive the favors of our friends, or hear some kind word or deed of theirs, much more shall we be zealous in His service when we see into what dangers we had fallen, and that God has delivered us from them all.

“And the acknowledging of the truth.” This he says with reference to the type. For that was an “acknowledging” and a “godliness,” yet not of the Truth,2 yet neither was it falsehood, it was godliness, but it was in type and figure. And he has well said, “In hope of eternal life.” For the former was in hope of the present life. For it is said, “he that doeth these things shall live in them.” (Rom. 10:5.) You see how at the beginning he sets forth the difference of grace. They are not the elect, but we. For if they were once called the elect, yet are they no longer called so.

Ver. 2. “Which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”

That is, not now upon a change of mind, but from the beginning it was so foreordained. This he often asserts, as when he says, “Separated unto the Gospel of God.” (Rom. 1:1.) And again, “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate.” (Rom. 8:29.) Thus showing our high origin, in that He did not love us now first, but from the beginning: and it is no little matter to be loved of old, and from the beginning.

“Which God, that cannot lie, promised.” If He “cannot lie,” what He has promised will assuredly be fulfilled. If He “cannot lie,” we ought not to doubt it, though it be after death. “Which God, that cannot lie,” he says, “promised before the world began”; by this also, “before the world began,” he shows that it is worthy of our belief. It is not because the Jews have not come in, that these things are promised. It had been so planned from the first. Hear therefore what he says,

“But hath in His own3 times manifested.”

Wherefore then was the delay? From His concern for men, and that it might be done at a seasonable time. “It is time for Thee, Lord, to work” (Ps. 119:125), says the Prophet. For by “His own1 times” is meant the suitable times, the due, the fitting.

Ver. 3. “But hath in due times manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me.”

That is, the preaching is committed unto me. For this included everything, the Gospel, and things present, and things future, life, and godliness, and faith, and all things at once. “Through preaching,” that is, openly and with all boldness, for this is the meaning of “preaching.” For as a herald proclaims2 in the theater in the presence of all, so also we preach, adding nothing, but declaring the things which we have heard. For the excellence of a herald consists in proclaiming to all what has really happened, not in adding or taking away anything. If therefore it is necessary to preach, it is necessary to do it with boldness of speech. Otherwise, it is not preaching. On this account Christ did not say, Tell it “upon the housetops,” but “preach upon the housetops” (Matt. 10:27); showing both by the place and by the manner what was to be done.

“Which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”

The expressions, “committed unto me,” and “according to the commandment,” show the matter to be worthy of credit, so that no one should think it discreditable, nor be hesitating about it, or discontented. If then it is, a commandment, it is not at my disposal. I fulfill what is commanded. For of things to be done, some are in our power, others are not. For what He commands, that is not in our power, what He permits, is left to our choice. For instance, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matt. 5:22.) This is a commandment. And again, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matt. 5:23, 24.) This also is a command. But when He says, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast” (Matt. 19:21): and, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matt. 19:12): this is not a command, for He makes His hearer the disposer of the matter, and leaves him the choice, whether he will do it or not. For these things we may either do or not do. But commandments are not left to our choice, we must either perform them, or be punished for not doing so. This is implied when he says, “Necessity is laid upon me; yea woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:16.) This I will state more plainly, that it may be manifest to all. For instance, He that is intrusted with the government of the Church, and honored with the office of a Bishop, if he does not declare to the people what they ought to do, will have to answer for it. But the layman is under no such obligation. On this account Paul also says, “According to the commandment of God our Saviour,” I do this. And see how the epithets fit in to what I have said. For having said above, “God who cannot lie,” here he says, “According to the commandment of God our Saviour.” If then He is our Saviour, and He commanded these things with a view that we should be saved, it is not from a love of command. It is a matter of faith, and the commandment of God our Saviour.

“To Titus mine own3 son,” that is, my true son. For it is possible for men not to be true sons, as he of whom he says, “If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, with such an one no not to eat.” (1 Cor. 5:11.) Here is a son,4 but not a true son. A son indeed he is, because he has once received the grace, and has been regenerated: but he is not a true son, because he is unworthy of his Father, and a deserter to the usurped sovereignty of another. For in children by nature, the true and the spurious are determined by the father that begot, and the mother who bore them. But it is not so in this case, but it depends on the disposition. For one who was a true son may become spurious, and a spurious son may become a true one. For it is not the force of nature, but the power of choice, on which it depends, whence it is subject to frequent changes. Onesimus was a true son, but he was again not true, for he became “unprofitable”; then he again became a true son, so as to be called by the Apostle his “own bowels.” (Philem. 12.)

Ver. 4. “To Titus, mine own son after the common faith.”

What is “after the common faith”? After he had called him his own son, and assumed the dignity of a father, hear how it is that he lessens and lowers that honor. He adds, “After the common faith”; that is, with respect to the faith I have no advantage over thee; for it is common, and both thou and I were born by it. Whence then does he call him his son? Either only wishing to express his affection for him, or his priority in the Gospel, or to show that Titus had been enlightened by him. On this account he calls the faithful both children and brethren; brethren, because they were born by the same faith; children, because it was by his hands. By mentioning the common faith, therefore, he intimates their brotherhood.

Ver. 4. “Grace and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

Because he had called him his son, he adds, “from God the Father,” to elevate his mind by showing whose son he was, and by not only naming the common faith, but by adding “our Father,” he implies that he has this honor equally with himself. moral. Observe also how he offers the same prayers for the Teacher, as for the disciples and the multitude. For indeed he needs such prayers as much, or rather more than they, by how much he has greater enmities to encounter, and is more exposed to the necessity of offending God. For the higher is the dignity, the greater are the dangers of the priestly office. For one good act in his episcopal office is sufficient to raise him to heaven and one error to sink him to hell itself. For, to pass over all other cases of daily occurrence, if he happens, either from friendship or any other cause, to have advanced an unworthy person to a Bishopric, and have committed to him the rule of a great city, see to how great a flame he renders himself obnoxious. For not only will he have to account for the souls that are lost, for they are lost through the man’s irreligion, but for all that is done amiss by the other. For he that is irreligious in a private station will be much more so when he is raised to power. It is much indeed, if a pious man continue such after his elevation to rule. For he is then more strongly assailed by vainglory, and the love of wealth, and self-will, when office gives him the power; and by offenses, insults, and reproaches, and numberless other evils. If therefore any one be irreligious, he will become more so when raised to office; and he who appoints such a ruler will be answerable for all the offenses committed by him, and for the whole people. But if it is said of him who gives offense to one soul, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6); what will he have to suffer who offends so many souls, whole cities and populations, and multitudes of families,1 men, women, children, citizens, and husbandmen, the inhabitants of the city itself, and of all places subject to it? To say thrice as much more is to say nothing, so severe is the vengeance and the punishment to which he will be obnoxious. So that a Bishop especially needs the grace and peace of God. For if without these he governs the people, all is ruined and lost, for want of those helms. And though he be skilled in the art of steering, he will sink the vessel and those that sail in it, if he has not these helms, “the grace and peace of God.”

Hence I am struck with astonishment at those who desire so great a burden. Wretched and unhappy man, seest thou what it is thou desirest? If thou art by thyself, unknown and undistinguished, though thou committest ten thousand faults, thou hast only one soul for which to give an account, and for it alone wilt thou be answerable. But when thou art raised to this office, consider for how many persons thou art obnoxious to punishment. Hear what Paul says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls as they that must give account.” (Heb. 13:17.) But dost thou desire honor and power? But what pleasure is there in this honor? I confess, I see not. For to be a ruler indeed is not possible, since it depends upon those under thy rule to obey or not. And to any one who considers the matter closely; it will appear that a Bishop does not so much come to rule, as to serve a multitude of masters, who are of opposite desires and sentiments. For what one commends, another blames; what this man censures, that admires. To whom therefore shall he listen, with whom shall he comply? It is impossible! And the slave that is bought with money complains if his master’s commands are contrary to each other. But shouldest thou grieve, when so many masters give the contrary orders, thou art condemned even for this, and all mouths are opened against thee. Tell me then, is this honor, is this rule, is this power?

One who holds the Episcopal office has required a contribution of money. He who is unwilling to contribute not only withholds it, but that he may not seem to withhold it from indifference, he accuses his Bishop. He is a thief, he says, a robber, he engulfs the goods of the poor, he devours the rights of the needy. Cease thy calumnies! How long wilt thou say these things? Wilt thou not contribute? No one compels thee, there is no constraint. Why dost thou revile him who counsels and advises thee? Is any one reduced to need, and he from inability, or some other hindrance, has not lent a hand? No allowance is made for him, the reproaches in this case are worse than in the other. This then is government! And he cannot avenge himself. For they are his own bowels, and as though the bowels be swollen, and though they give pain to the head and the rest of the body, we venture not on revenge, we cannot take a sword and pierce them; so if one of those under our rule be of such sort, and create trouble and disorder by these accusations, we dare not avenge ourselves, for this would be far from the disposition of a father, but we must endure the grief till he becomes sound and well.

The slave bought with money has an appointed work, which when he has performed, he is afterwards his own master. But the Bishop is distracted on every side and is expected to do many things that are beyond his power. If he knows not how to speak, there is great murmuring; and if he can speak, then he is accused of bring vainglorious. If he cannot raise the dead, he is of no worth, they say: such an one is pious, but this man is not. If he eats a moderate meal, for this he is accused, he ought to be strangled, they say. If he is seen at the bath,1 he is much censured. In short, he ought not to look upon the sun! If he does the same things that I do, if he bathes, eats and drinks, and wears the same clothing, and has the care of a house and servants, on what account is he set over me? But he has domestics to minister to him, and an ass to ride upon, why then is he set over me? But say, ought he then to have no one to wait upon him? Ought he himself to light his own fire, to draw water, to cleave wood, to go to market? How great a degradation would this be! Even the holy Apostles would not that any ministers of the word should attend upon the tables of the widows, but they considered it a business unworthy of them: and would you degrade them to the offices of your own domestics? Why dost not thou, who commandest these things, come and perform these services? Tell me, does not he minister to thee a better service than thine, which is bodily? Why dost thou not send thy domestic to wait upon him? Christ washed the feet of His disciples; is it a great thing for thee to give this service to thy Teacher? But thou art not willing to render it thyself, and thou grudgest it to him. Ought he then to draw his livelihood from heaven? But God wills not so.

But you say, “Had the Apostles free men to serve them?” Would you then hear how the Apostles lived? They made long journeys, and free men and honorable women laid down their lives and souls for their relief. But hear this blessed Apostle thus exhorting; “Hold such in reputation” (Phil. 2:29, 30): and again, “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” See What he says! but thou hast not a word to throw away upon thy spiritual father, much less wilt thou submit to any danger in his behalf. But thou sayest, “He ought not to frequent the bath.” And where is this forbidden? there is nothing honorable in being unclean.

These are not the things we find blamed or applauded at all. For the qualities which a Bishop is required to possess are different, as to be blameless, sober, orderly, hospitable, apt to teach. These the Apostle requires, and these we ought to look for in a ruler of the Church, but nothing further. Thou art not more strict than Paul, or rather more strict than the Spirit. If he be a striker, or violent, or cruel, and unmerciful, accuse him. These things are unworthy of a Bishop. If he be luxurious, this also is censurable. But if he takes care of his body that he may minister to thee, if he attends to his health that he may be useful, ought he for this to be accused? Knowest thou not that bodily infirmity no less than infirmity of soul injures both us and the Church? Why, otherwise, does Paul attend to this matter, in writing to Timothy, “Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thy often infirmities”? (1 Tim. 5:23.) For if we could practice virtue with the soul alone, we need not take care of the body. And why then were we born at all? But if this has contributed a great share, is it not the extreme of folly to neglect it?

For suppose a man honored with the Bishopric, and intrusted with a public charge of the Church, and let him in other respects be virtuous, and have every quality, which a priest ought to possess, yet let him be always confined to his bed by reason of great infirmity, what service will he be able to render? Upon what mission can he go? what visitation can he undertake? whom can he rebuke or admonish? These things I say, that you may learn not causelessly to accuse him, but rather may receive him favorably; as also that if any one desire rule in the Church, seeing the shower of abuse that attends it, he may quench that desire. Great indeed is the danger of such a station, and it requires “the grace and peace of God.” Which that we may have abundantly, do you pray for us, and we for you, that practicing virtue aright we may so obtain the blessings promised, through Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 10:16-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 25, 2018

HOMILY XXXIII
Matt. 10:16

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Having made them feel confident about their necessary food, and opened unto them all men’s houses, and having invested their entrance with an appearance to attract veneration, charging them not to come in as wanderers, and beggars, but as much more venerable than those who received them (for this He signifies by His saying, “the workman is worthy of his hire;” and by His commanding them to inquire, who was worthy, and there to remain, and enjoining them to salute such as receive them; and by His threatening such as receive them not with those incurable evils): having I say, in this way cast out their anxiety, and armed them with the display of miracles, and made them as it were all iron and adamant, by delivering them from all worldly things, and enfranchising them from all temporal care: He speaks in what follows of the evils also that were to befall them; not only those that were to happen soon after, but those too that were to be in long course of time; from the first, even long beforehand, preparing them for the war against the devil. Yea, and many advantages were hence secured; and first, that they learnt the power of His foreknowledge; secondly, that no one should suspect, that through weakness of their Master came these evils upon them; thirdly, that such as undergo these things should not be dismayed by their falling out unexpectedly, and against hope; fourthly, that they might not at the very time of the cross be troubled on hearing these things. For indeed, they were just so affected at that time; when also He upbraided them, saying, “Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts; and none of you asketh me, whither goest Thou?”3 And yet He had said nothing as yet touching Himself, as that He should be bound, and scourged, and put to death, that He might not hereby also confound their minds; but for the present He announces before what should happen to themselves.

Then, that they might learn that this system of war is new, and the manner of the array unwonted; as He sends them bare, and with one coat, and unshod, and without staff, and without girdle or scrip, and bids them be maintained by such as receive them; so neither here did He stay His speech, but to signify His unspeakable power, He saith, “Even thus setting out, exhibit the gentleness of “sheep,” and this, though ye are to go unto “wolves;” and not simply unto wolves, but “into the midst of wolves.”

And He bids them have not only gentleness as sheep, but also the harmlessness of the dove. “For thus shall I best show forth my might, when sheep get the better of wolves, and being in the midst of wolves, and receiving a thousand bites, so far from being consumed, do even work a change on them: a thing far greater and more marvellous than killing them, to alter their spirit, and to reform their mind; and this, being only twelve, while the whole world is filled with the wolves.”

Let us then be ashamed, who do the contrary, who set like wolves upon our enemies. For so long as we are sheep, we conquer: though ten thousand wolves prowl around, we overcome and prevail. But if we become wolves, we are worsted, for the help of our Shepherd departs from us: for He feeds not wolves, but sheep: and He forsakes thee, and retires, for neither dost thou allow His might to be shown. Because, as He accounts the whole triumph His own, if thou being ill used, show forth gentleness; so if thou follow it up and give blows, thou obscurest His victory.

2. But do thou consider, I pray thee, who they are that hear these injunctions, so hard and laborious: the timid and ignorant; the unlettered and uninstructed; such as are in every respect obscure, who have never been trained up in the Gentile laws, who do not readily present themselves in the public, places; the fishermen, the publicans, men full of innumerable deficiencies. For if these things were enough to confound even the lofty and great, how were they not enough to cast down and dismay them that were in all respects untried, and had never entertained any noble imagination? But they did not cast them down.

“And very naturally,” some one may perhaps say; “because He gave them power to cleanse lepers, to drive out devils.” I would answer as follows: Nay, this very thing was enough especially to perplex them, that for all their raising the dead, they were to undergo these intolerable evils, both judgments, and executions, and the wars which all would wage on them, and the common hatred of the world; and that such terrors await them, while themselves are working miracles.

3. What then is their consolation for all these things? The power of Him that sends them. Wherefore also He puts this before all, saying, “Behold, I send you.” This suffices for your encouragement, this for confidence, and fearing none of your assailants.

Seest thou authority? seest thou prerogative? seest thou invincible might? Now His meaning is like this: “Be not troubled” (so He speaks), “that sending you among wolves, I command you to be like sheep and like doves. For I might indeed have done the contrary, and have suffered you to undergo nothing terrible, nor as sheep to be exposed to wolves; I might have rendered you more formidable than lions; but it is expedient that so it should be. This makes you also more glorious; this proclaims also my power.”

This He said also unto Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”1 “It is I, now mark it, who have caused you so to be.” For in saying, “I send you forth as sheep,” He intimates this. “Do not therefore despond, for I know, I know certainly, that in this way more than any other ye will be invincible to all.”

After this, that they may contribute something on their own part also, and that all might not seem to be of His grace, nor they supposed to be crowned at random, and vainly, He saith, “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” “But what,” it might be said, “will our wisdom avail in so great dangers? nay, how shall we be able to have wisdom at all, when so many waves are drenching us all over? For let a sheep be ever so wise, when it is in the midst of wolves, and so many wolves, what will it be able to do? Let the dove be ever so harmless, what will it profit, when so many hawks are assailing it?” In the brutes indeed, not at all: but in you as much as possible.

But let us see what manner of wisdom He here requires. That of the serpent, He saith. For even as that animal gives up everything, and if its very body must be cut off, doth not very earnestly defend it, so that it may save its head; in like manner do thou also, saith He, give up every thing but the faith; though goods, body, life itself, must be yielded. For that is the head and the root; and if that be preserved, though thou lose all, thou wilt recover all with so much the more splendor.2

On this account then He neither commanded to be merely a simple and single-hearted sort of person, nor merely wise; but hath mixed up both these, so that they may become virtue; taking in the wisdom of the serpent that we may not be wounded in our vitals; and the harmlessness of the dove, that we may not retaliate on our wrongdoers, nor avenge ourselves on them that lay snares; since wisdom again is useless, except this be added. Now what, I ask, could be more strict-than these injunctions? Why, was it not enough to suffer wrong? Nay, saith He, but I do not permit thee so much as to be indignant. For this is “the dove.” As though one should cast a reed into fire, and command it not to be burnt by the fire, but to quench it.

However, let us not be troubled; nay, for these things have come to pass, and have had an accomplishment, and have been shown in very deed, and men became wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; not being of another nature, but of the same with us.

Let not then any one account His injunctions impracticable. For He beyond all others knows the nature of things; He knows that fierceness is not quenched by fierceness, but by gentleness. And if in men’s actual deeds too thou wouldest see this result, read the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and thou wilt see how often, when the people of the Jews had risen up against them and were sharpening their teeth, these men, imitating the dove, and answering with suitable meekness, did away with their wrath, quenched their madness, broke their impetuosity. As when they said, “Did not we straitly command you, that ye should not speak in this name?”1 although able to work any number of miracles, they neither said nor did anything harsh, but answered for themselves with all meekness, saying, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”2

Hast thou seen the harmlessness of the dove? Behold the wisdom of the serpent. “For we cannot but speak the things, which we know and have heard.”3 Seest thou how we must be perfect on all points, so as neither to be abased by dangers, nor provoked by anger?

4. Therefore He said also,4

“Beware of men, for they shall deliver you up to councils, and they shall scourge you in their synagogues: and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and the Gentiles.”

Thus again is He preparing them to be vigilant, in every case assigning to them the sufferance of wrong, and permitting the infliction of it to others; to teach thee that the victory is in suffering evil, and that His glorious trophies are thereby set up. For He said not at all, “Fight ye also, and resist them that would vex you,” but only, “Ye shall suffer the utmost ills.”

O how great is the power of Him that speaks! How great the self-command of them that hear! For indeed we have great cause to marvel, how they did not straightway dart away from Him on hearing these things, apt as they were to be startled at every sound, and such as had never gone further than that lake, around which they used to fish; and how they did not reflect, and say to themselves, “And whither after all this are we to flee? The courts of justice against us, the kings against us, the governors, the synagogues of the Jews, the nations of the Gentiles, the rulers, and the ruled.” (For hereby He not only forewarned them of Palestine, and the ills therein, but discovered also the wars throughout the world, saying, “Ye shall be brought before kings and governors;” signifying that to the Gentiles also He was afterwards to send them as heralds.) “Thou hast made the world our enemy, Thou hast armed against us all them that dwell on the earth, peoples, tyrants, kings.”

And what follows again is much more fearful, since men are to become on our account murderers of brothers, of children, of fathers.

“How, then,” one might say, “will the rest of men believe, when they see on our account, children slain by their fathers, and brethren by brethren, and all things filled with abominations?” What? will not men, as though we were destructive demons, will they not, as though we were devoted, and pests of the world, drive us out from every quarter, seeing the earth filled with blood of kinsmen, and with so many murderers? Surely fair is the peace (is it not?) which we are to bring into men’s houses and give them, while we are filling those houses with so many slaughters. Why, had we been some great number of us, instead of twelve; had we been, instead of “unlearned and ignorant,” wise, and skilled in rhetoric, and mighty in speech; nay more, had we been even kings, and in possession of armies and abundance of wealth; how could we have persuaded any, while kindling up civil wars, yea, and other wars far worse than they? Why, though we were to despise our own safety, which of all other men will give heed to us?”

But none of these things did they either think or say, neither did they require any account of His injunctions, but simply yielded and obeyed. And this came not from their own virtue only, but also of the wisdom of their Teacher. For see how to each of the fearful things He annexed an encouragement; as in the case of such as received them not, He said, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city;” so here again, when He had said, “Ye shall be brought before governors and kings,” He added, “for my sake, for a testimony to them, and the Gentiles.” And this is no small consolation, that they are suffering these things both for Christ, and for the Gentiles’ conviction. Thus God, though no one regard, is found to be everywhere doing His own works. Now these things were a comfort to them, not that they desired the punishment of other men, but that they might have ground of confidence, as sure to have Him everywhere present with them, who had both foretold and foreknown these things; and because not as wicked men, and as pests, were they to suffer all this.

And together with these, He adds another, and that no small consolation for them, saying,

“But when they deliver you up, take no thought1 how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.”2

For lest they should say, “How shall we be able to persuade men, when such things are taking place?” He bids them be confident as to their defense also. And elsewhere indeed He saith, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom;”3 but here, “It is the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you,” advancing them unto the dignity of the prophets. Therefore, when He had spoken of the power that was given, then He added also the terrors, the murders, and the slaughters.

“For the brother shall deliver up the brother,” saith He, “to death, and the father the child, and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”4

And not even at this did He stop, but added also what was greatly more fearful, and enough to shiver a rock to pieces: “And ye shall be hated of all men.” And here again the consolation is at the doors, for, “For my name’s sake,” saith He, “ye shall suffer these things.” And with this again another, “But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”5

And these things in another point of view likewise were sufficient to rouse up their spirits; since at any rate the power of their gospel was to blaze up so high, as that nature should be despised, and kindred rejected, and the Word preferred to all, chasing all mightily away. For if no tyranny of nature is strong enough to withstand your sayings, but it is dissolved and trodden under foot, what else shall be able to get the better of you? Not, however, that your life will be in security, because these things shall be; but rather ye will have for your common enemies and foes them that dwell in the whole world.

5. Where now is Plato? Where Pythagoras? Where the long chain6 of the Stoics? For the first, after having enjoyed great honor, was so practically refuted, as even to be sold out of the country,7 and to succeed in none of his objects, no, not go much as in respect of one tyrant: yea, he betrayed his disciples, and ended his life miserably. And the Cynics, mere pollutions as they were, have all passed by like a dream and a shadow. And yet assuredly no such thing ever befell them, but rather they were accounted glorious for their heathen philosophy, and the Athenians made a public monument of the epistles of Plato, sent them by Dion; and they passed all their time at ease, and abounded in wealth not a little. Thus, for instance, Aristippus was used to purchase costly harlots; and another made a will, leaving no common inheritance; and another, when his disciples had laid themselves down like a bridge, walked on them; and he of Sinope, they say, even behaved himself unseemly in the market place.

Yea, these are their honorable things. But there is no such thing here, but a strict temperance, and a perfect decency, and a war against the whole world in behalf of truth and godliness, and to be slain every day, and not until hereafter their glorious trophies.

But there are some also, one may say, skilled in war amongst them; as Themistocles, Pericles. But these things too are children’s toys, compared with the acts of the fishermen. For what canst thou say? That he persuaded the Athenians to embark in their ships, when Xerxes was marching upon Greece? Why in this case, when it is not Xerxes marching, but the devil with the whole world, and his evil spirits innumerable assailing these twelve men, not at one crisis only, but throughout their whole life, they prevailed and vanquished; and what was truly marvellous, not by slaying their adversaries, but by converting and reforming them.

For this especially you should observe throughout, that they slew not, nor destroyed such as were plotting against them, but having found them as bad as devils, they made them rivals of angels, enfranchising human nature from this evil tyranny, while as to those execrable demons that were confounding all things, they drave them out of the midst of markets, and houses, or rather even from the very wilderness. And to this the choirs of the monks bear witness, whom they have planted everywhere, clearing out not the habitable only, but even the uninhabitable land. And what is yet more marvellous, they did not this in fair conflict, but in the enduring of evil they accomplished it all. Since men actually had them in the midst, twelve unlearned persons, binding, scourging, dragging them about, and were not able to stop their mouths; but as it is impossible to bind the sunbeam, so also their tongue. And the reason was, “it was not they” themselves “that spake,” but the power of the Spirit. Thus for instance did Paul overcome Agrippa, and Nero, who surpassed all men in wickedness. “For the Lord,” saith he, “stood with me, and strengthened me, and delivered me out of the mouth of the lion.”1

But do thou also admire them, how when it was said to them, “Take no thought,” they yet believed, and accepted it, and none of the terrors amazed them. And if thou say, He gave them encouragement enough, by saying, “It shall be the Spirit of your Father that shall speak;” even for this am I most amazed at them, that they doubted not, nor sought deliverance from their perils; and this, when not for two or three years were they to suffer these things, but all their life long. For the saying, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved,” is an intimation of this.

For His will is, that not His part only should be contributed, but that the good deeds should be also done of them. Mark, for instance, how from the first, part is His, part His disciples’. Thus, to do miracles is His, but to provide nothing is theirs. Again, to open all men’s houses, was of the grace from above; but to require no more than was needful, of their own self-denial. “For the workman is worthy of his hire.” Their bestowing peace was of the gift of God, their inquiring for the worthy, and not entering in without distinction unto all, of their own self command. Again, to punish such as received them not was His, but to retire with gentleness from them, without reviling or insulting them, was of the apostles’ meekness. To give the Spirit, and cause them not to take thought, was of Him that sent them, but to become like sheep and doves, and to bear all things nobly, was of their calmness and prudence. To be hated and not to despond, and to endure, was their own; to save them that endured, was of Him who sent them.

Wherefore also He said, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” That is, because the more part are wont at the beginning indeed to be vehement, but afterwards to faint, therefore saith He, “I require the end.” For what is the use of seeds, flourishing indeed at first, but a little after fading away? Therefore it is continued patience that He requires of them. I mean, lest any say, He wrought the whole Himself, and it was no wonder that they should prove such, suffering as they did nothing intolerable; therefore He saith unto them, “There is need also of patience on your part. For though I should rescue you from the first dangers, I am reserving you for others more grievous, and after these again others will succeed; and ye shall not cease to have snares laid for you, so long as ye have breath. For this He intimated in saying, “But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”

For this cause then, though He said, “Take no thought what ye shall speak;” yet elsewhere He saith, “Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”2 That is, as long as the contest is among friends, He commands us also to take thought; but when there is a terrible tribunal, and frantic assemblies, and terrors on all sides, He bestows the influence from Himself, that they may take courage and speak out, and not be discouraged, nor betray the righteous cause.

For in truth it was a very great thing, for a man occupied about lakes, and skins, and receipt of custom, when tyrants were on their thrones and satraps, and guards standing by them, and the swords drawn, and all standing on their side; to enter in alone, bound, hanging down his head, and yet be able to open his mouth. For indeed they allowed them neither speech nor defense with respect to their doctrines, but set about torturing them to death, as common pests of the world. For “They,” it is said, “that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also;” and again, “They preach things contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying that Jesus Christ is king.”1 And everywhere the courts of justice were preoccupied by such suspicions, and much influence from above was needed, for their showing both the truth of the doctrine they preached, and that they are not violating the common laws; so that they should neither, while earnest to speak of the doctrine, fall under suspicion of overturning the laws; nor again, while earnest to show that they were not overturning the common government, corrupt the perfection of their doctrines: all which thou wilt see accomplished with all due consideration, both in Peter and in Paul, and in all the rest. Yea, and as rebels and innovators, and revolutionists, they were accused all over the world; yet nevertheless they both repelled this impression, and invested themselves with the contrary, all men celebrating them as saviors, and guardians, and benefactors. And all this they achieved by their much patience. Wherefore also Paul said, “I die daily;”2 and he continued to “stand in jeopardy” unto the end.

6. What then must we deserve, having such high patterns, and in peace giving way to effeminacy, and remissness? With none to make war (it is too evident) we are slain; we faint when no man pursues, in peace we are required to be saved, and even for this we are not sufficient. And they indeed, when the world was on fire, and the pile was being kindled over the whole earth, entering, snatched from within, out of the midst of the flame, such as were burning; but thou art not able so much as to preserve thyself.

What confidence then will there be for us? What favor? There are no stripes, no prisons, no rulers, no synagogues, nor aught else of that kind to set upon us; yea, quite on the contrary we rule and prevail. For both kings are godly, and there are many honors for Christians, and precedences, and distinctions, and immunities, and not even so do we prevail. And whereas they being daily led to execution, both teachers and disciples, and bearing innumerable stripes, and continual brandings, were in greater luxury than such as abide in Paradise; we who have endured no such thing, not even in a dream, are softer than any wax. “But they,” it will be said, “wrought miracles.” Did this then keep them from the scourge? did it free them from persecution? Nay, for this is the strange thing, that they suffered such things often even at the hands of them whom they benefited, and not even so were they confounded, receiving only evil for good. But thou if thou bestow on any one any little benefit, and then be requited with anything unpleasant, art confounded, art troubled, and repentest of that which thou hast done.

If now it should happen, as I pray it may not happen nor at any time fall out, that there be a war against churches, and a persecution, imagine how great will be the ridicule, how sore the reproaches. And very naturally; for when no one exercises himself in the wrestling school, how shall he be distinguished in the contests? What champion, not being used to the trainer, will be able, when summoned by the Olympic contests, to show forth anything great and noble against his antagonist? Ought we not every day to wrestle and fight and run? See ye not them that are called Pentathli, when they have no antagonists, how they fill a sack with much sand, and hanging it up try their full strength thereupon? And they that are still younger, practise the fight against their enemies upon the persons of their companions.

These do thou also emulate, and practise the wrestlings of self denial. For indeed there are many that provoke to anger, and incite to lust, and kindle a great flame. Stand therefore against thy passions, bear nobly the mental pangs, that thou mayest endure also those of the body.

7. For so the blessed Job, if he had not exercised himself well before his conflicts, would not have shone so brightly in the same. Unless he had practised freedom from all despondency, he would have uttered some rash word, when his children died. But as it was he stood against all the assaults, against ruin of fortune, and destruction of so great affluence: against loss of children, against his wife’s commiseration, against plagues in body, against reproaches of friends, against revilings of servants.

And if thou wouldest see his ways of exercise also, hear him saying, how he used to despise wealth: “If I did but rejoice,” saith he. “because my wealth was great: if I set gold up for a heap, if I put my trust in a precious stone.”3 Therefore neither was he confounded at their being taken away, since he desired them not when present.

Hear how he also managed what related to his children, not giving way to undue softness, as we do, but requiring of them all circumspection. For he who offered sacrifice even for their secret sins, imagine how strict a judge he was of such as were manifest.1

And if thou wouldest also hear of his strivings after continence, hearken to him when he saith, “I made a covenant with mine eyes, that I should not think upon a maid.”2 For this cause his wife did not break his spirit, for he loved her even before this, not however immoderately, but as is due to a wife.

Wherefore I am led even to marvel, whence it came into the devil’s thought to stir up the contest, knowing as he did of his previous training. Whence then did it occur to him? The monster is wicked, and never despairs: and this turns out to us a very great condemnation, that he indeed never gives up the hope of our destruction, but we despair of our own salvation.

But for bodily mutilation and indignity, mark how he practised himself. Why, inasmuch as he himself had never undergone any such thing, but had continued to live in wealth and luxury, and in all other splendor, he used to divine other men’s calamities, one by one. And this he declared, d, when he said, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me; and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”3 And again, “But I wept for every helpless man, and groaned when I saw a man in distress.”4

So because of this, nothing of what happened confounded him, none of those great and intolerable ills. For I bid thee not look at the ruin of his substance, nor at the loss of his children, nor at that incurable plague, nor at his wife’s device against him; but at those things which are far more grievous than these.

“And what,” saith one, “did Job suffer more grievous than these? for from his history there is nothing more than these for us to learn.” Because we are asleep, we do not learn, since he surely that is anxious, and searches well for the pearl, will know of many more particulars than these. For the more grievous, and apt to infuse greater perplexity, were different.

And first, his knowing nothing certain about the kingdom of heaven, and the resurrection; which indeed he also spoke of, lamenting. “For I shall not live alway, that I should suffer long.”5 Next, his being conscious to himself of many good works. Thirdly, his being conscious of no evil thing. Fourthly, his supposing that at God’s hands he was undergoing it; or if at the devil’s, this again was enough to offend him. Fifthly, his hearing his friends accusing him of wickedness, “For thou hast not been scourged,” say they, “according to what thy sins deserve.”6 Sixthly, his seeing such as lived in wickedness prospering, and exulting over him. Seventhly, not having any other to whom he might look as even having ever suffered such things.

8. And if thou wouldest learn how great these things are, consider our present state. For if now, when we are looking for a kingdom, and hoping for a resurrection, and for the unutterable blessings, and are conscious to ourselves of countless evil deeds, and when we have so many examples, and are partakers of so high a philosophy; should any persons lose a little gold, and this often, after having taken it by violence, they deem life not to be lived in, having no wife to lay sore on them, nor bereaved of children, nor reproached by friends, nor insulted by servants, but rather having many to comfort them, some by words, some by deeds; of how noble crowns must not he be worthy, who seeing what he had gotten together by honest labor, snatched away from him for nought and at random, and after all that, undergoing temptations without number, like sleet, yet throughout all abides unmoved, and offers to the Lord his due thanksgiving for it all?

Why, though no one had spoken any of the other taunts, yet his wife’s words alone were sufficient utterly to shake a very rock. Look, for example, at her craft. No mention of money, none of camels, and flocks, and herds, (for she was conscious of her husband’s self command with regard to these), but of what was harder to bear than all these, I mean, their children; and she deepens the tragedy, and adds to it her own influence.

Now if when men were in wealth, and suffering no distress, in many things and oft have women prevailed on them: imagine how courageous was that soul, which repulsed her, assaulting him with such powerful weapons, and which trod under foot the two most tyrannical passions, desire and pity. And yet many having conquered desire, have yielded to pity. That noble Joseph, for instance, held in subjection the most tyrannical of pleasures, and repulsed that strange woman, plying him as she did with innumerable devices; but his tears he contained not, but when he saw his brethren that had wronged him, he was all on fire with that passion, and quickly cast off the mask, and discovered the part he had been playing.7 But when first of all she is his wife, and when her words are piteous, and the moment favorable for her, as well as his wounds and his stripes, and those countless waves of calamities; how can one otherwise than rightly pronounce the soul impassive to so great a storm to be firmer than any adamant?

Allow me freely to say, that the very apostles, if not inferior to this blessed man, are at least not greater than he was. For they indeed were comforted by the suffering for Christ; and this medicine was so sufficient daily to relieve them, that the Lord puts it everywhere, saying, “for me, for my sake,” and, “If they call me, the master of the house, Beelzebub.”1 But he was destitute of this encouragement, and of that from miracles, and of that from grace; for neither had he so great power of the Spirit.

And what is yet greater, nourished in much delicacy, not from amongst fishermen, and publicans, and such as lived frugally, but after enjoyment of so much honor, he suffered all that he did suffer. And what seemed hardest to bear in the case of the apostles, this same he also underwent, being hated of friends, of servants, of enemies, of them who had received kindness of him: and the sacred anchor, the harbor without waves, namely, that which was said to the apostles, “for my sake,” of this he had no sight.

I admire again the three children, for that they dared the furnace, that they stood up against a tyrant. But hear what they say, “We serve not thy Gods, nor worship the image which thou hast set up.”2 A thing which was the greatest encouragement to them, to know of a certainty that for God they are suffering all whatsoever they suffer. But this man knew not that it was all conflicts, and a wrestling; for had he known it, he would not have felt what was happening. At any rate, when he heard, “Thinkest thou that I have uttered to thee mine oracles for nought, or that thou mightest be proved righteous?”3 consider how straightway, at a bare word, he breathed again, how he made himself of no account, how he accounted himself not so much as to have suffered what he had suffered, thus saying, “Why do I plead any more, being admonished and reproved of the Lord, hearing such things, I being nothing?”4 And again, “I have heard of Thee before, as far as hearing of the ear; but now mine eye hath seen Thee; wherefore I have made myself vile, and have melted away; and I accounted myself earth and ashes.”5

This fortitude then, this moderation, of him that was before law and grace, let us also emulate, who are after law and grace; that we may also be able to share with him the eternal tabernacles; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the victory forever and ever. Amen.

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St Augustine’s Tenth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 5:1-3)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

HOMILY X
1 John 5:1–3.

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat Him, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, because we love God, and do His commandments. For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments.”

1. I Suppose ye remember, those of you who were present yesterday, to what place in the course of this epistle our exposition has reached: namely, “He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also.”1 Thus far we discoursed. Let us see then what comes next in order. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”2 Who is he that believeth not that Jesus is the Christ? He that does not so live as Christ commanded. For many say, “I believe:” but faith without works saveth not. Now the work of faith is Love, as Paul the apostle saith, “And faith which worketh by love.”3 Thy past works indeed, before thou didst believe, were either none, or if they seemed good, were nothing worth. For if they were none, thou wast as a man without feet, or with sore feet unable to walk: but if they seemed good, before thou didst believe, thou didst run indeed, but by running aside from the way thou wentest astray instead of coming to the goal. It is for us, then, both to run, and to run in the way. He that runs aside from the way, runs to no purpose, or rather runs but to toil. He goes the more astray, the more he runs aside from the way. What is the way by which we run? Christ hath told us, “I am the Way.”4 What the home to which we run? “I am the Truth.” By Him thou runnest, to Him thou runnest, in Him thou restest. But, that we might run by Him, He reached even unto us: for we were afar off, foreigners in a far country. Not enough that we were in a far country, we were feeble also that we could not stir. A Physician, He came to the sick: a Way, He extended Himself to them that were in a far country. Let us be saved by Him, let us walk in Him. This it is to “believe that Jesus is the Christ,” as Christians believe, who are not Christians only in name, but in deeds and in life, not as the devils believe. For “the devils also believe and tremble,”5 as the Scripture tells us. What more could the devils believe, than that they should say, “We know who thou art, the Son of God?”6 What the devils said, the same said Peter also. When the Lord asked them who He was, and whom did men say that He was, the disciples made answer to Him, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”7 And this he heard from the Lord: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” See what praises follow this faith. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” What meaneth, “Upon this rock I will build my Church”? Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Upon this rock,” saith He, “I will build my Church.” Mighty praise! So then, Peter saith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God:” the devils also say, “We know who thou art, the Son of God, the Holy One of God.” This Peter said, this also the devils: the words the same, the mind not the same. And how is it clear that Peter said this with love? Because a Christian’s faith is with love, but a devil’s without love. How without love? Peter said this, that he might embrace Christ; the devils said it, that Christ might depart from them. For before they said, “We know who thou art, the Son of God, they said, “What have we to do with thee? Why art thou come to destroy us before the time?” It is one thing then to confess Christ that thou mayest hold Christ, another thing to confess Christ that thou mayest drive Christ from thee. So then ye see, that in the sense in which he here saith, “Whoso believeth,” it is a faith of one’s own, not as one has a faith in common with many. Therefore, brethren, let none of the heretics say to you, “We also believe.” For to this end have I given you an instance from the case of devils, that ye may not rejoice in the words of believing, but search well the deeds of the life.

2. Let us see then what it is to believe in Christ; what to believe that Jesus, He is the Christ. He proceeds: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” But what is it to believe that? “And every one that loveth Him that begat Him, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” To faith he hath straightway joined love, because faith without love is nothing worth. With love, the faith of a Christian; without love, the faith of a devil: but those who believe not, are worse than devils, more stupid than devils. Some man will not believe in Christ: so far, he is not even upon a par with devils. A person does now believe in Christ, but hates Christ: he hath the confession of faith in the fear of punishment, not in love of the crown: thus the devils also feared to be punished. Add to this faith love, that it may become a faith such as the Apostle Paul speaks of, a “faith which worketh by love:”1 thou hast found a Christian, found a citizen of Jerusalem, found a fellow-citizen of the angels, found a pilgrim sighing in the way: join thyself to him, he is thy fellow-traveller, run with him, if indeed thou also art this. “Every one that loveth Him that begat Him, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” Who “begat”? The Father. Who “is begotten”? The Son. What saith he then? “Every one that loveth the Father, loveth the Son.”

3. “In this we know that we love the sons of God.”2 What is this, brethren? Just now he was speaking of the Son of God, not of sons of God: lo, here one Christ was set before us to contemplate, and we were told, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat,” i.e. the Father, “loveth Him also that is begotten of Him,” i.e. the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And he goes on: “In this we know that we love the sons of God;” as if he bad been about to say, “In this we know that we love the Son of God.” He has said, “the sons of God,” whereas he was speaking just before of the Son of God—because the sons of God are the Body of the Only Son of God, and when He is the Head, we the members, it is one Son of God. Therefore, he that loves the sons of God, loves the Son of God, and he that loves the Son of God, loves the Father; nor can any love the Father except he love the Son, and he that loves the sons, loves also the Son of God. What sons of God? The members of the Son of God. And by loving he becomes himself a member, and comes through love to be in the frame of the body of Christ, so there shall be one Christ, loving Himself. For when the members love one another, the body loves itself. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.”3 And then he goes on to say, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members.” John was speaking just before of brotherly love, and said, “He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?”4 But if thou lovest thy brother, haply thou lovest thy brother and lovest not Christ? How should that be, when thou lovest members of Christ? When therefore thou lovest members of Christ, thou lovest Christ; when thou lovest Christ, thou lovest the Son of God; when thou lovest the Son of God, thou lovest also the Father. The love therefore cannot be separated into parts. Choose what thou wilt love; the rest follow thee. Suppose thou say, I love God alone, God the Father. Thou liest: if thou lovest, thou lovest Him not alone; but if thou lovest the Father, thou lovest also the Son. Behold, sayest thou, I love the Father, and I love the Son: but this only, the Father God and the Son God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, that Word by which all things were made, and “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us:” this alone I love. Thou liest; for if thou lovest the Head, thou lovest also the members; but if thou lovest not the members, neither lovest thou the Head. Dost thou not quake at the voice uttered by the Head from Heaven on behalf of His members, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?”5 The persecutor of His members He called His persecutor: His lover, the lover of His members. Now what are His members, ye know, brethren: none other than the Church of God. “In this we know that we love the sons of God, in that we love God.” And how? Are not the sons of God one thing, God Himself another? But he that loves God, loves His precepts. And what are the precepts of God? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”6 Let none excuse himself by another love, for another love; so and so only is it with this love: as the love itself is compacted in one, so all that hang by it doth it make one, and as fire melts them down into one. It is gold: the lump is molten and becomes some one thing. But unless the fervor of charity be applied, of many there can be no melting down into one. “That we love God,” by this “know we that we love the sons of God.”

4. And by what do we know that we love the sons of God? By this, “that we love God, and do His commandments.” We sigh here, by reason of the hardness of doing the commandments of God. Hear what follows. O man, at what toilest thou in loving? In loving avarice. With toil is that loved which thou lovest: there is no toil in loving God. Avarice will enjoin thee labors, perils, sore hardships and tribulations; and thou wilt do its bidding. To what end? That thou mayest have that with which thou shalt fill thy chest, and lose thy peace of mind. Thou didst feel thyself haply more secure before thou hadst it, than since thou didst begin to have. See what avarice has enjoined thee. Thou hast filled thine house, and art in dread of robbers; hast gotten gold, lost thy sleep. See what avarice has enjoined thee. Do, and thou didst. What does God enjoin thee! Love me. Thou lovest gold, thou wilt seek gold, and perchance not find it: whoso seeks me, I am with him. Thou wilt love honor, and perchance not attain unto it: who ever loved me, and did not attain? God saith to thee, thou wouldest make thee a patron, or a powerful friend: thou seekest a way to his favor by means of another inferior. Love me, saith God to thee: favor with me is not had by making interest with some other: thy love itself makes me present to thee. What sweeter than this love, brethren? It is not without reason that ye heard just now in the Psalm, “The unrighteous told me of delights,1 but not as is Thy law, O Lord.”2 What is the Law of God? The commandment of God. What is the commandment of God? That “new commandment,” which is called new because it maketh new: “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”3 Hear because this is the law of God. The apostle saith, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so shall ye fulfill the law of Christ.”4 This, even this, is the consummation of all our works; Love. In it is the end: for this we run: to it we run; when we are come to it, we shall rest.

5. Ye have heard in the Psalm, “I have seen the end of all perfection.5 He hath said, I have seen the end of all perfection: what had he seen? Think we, had he ascended to the peak of some very high and pointed mountain, and looked out thence and seen the compass of the earth, and the circles of the round world, and therefore said, “I have seen the end of all perfection”? If this be a thing to be praised, let us ask of the Lord eyes of the flesh so sharp-sighted, that we shall but require some exceeding high mountain on earth, that from its summit we may see the end of all perfection. Go not far: lo, I say to thee, it is here; ascend the mountain, and see the end. Christ is the Mountain; come to Christ: thou seest thence the end of all perfection. What is this end? Ask Paul: “But the end of the, commandment is charity, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned:”6 and in another place, “Charity is the fullness,” or fulfillment, “of the law.” What so finished and terminated as “fullness”? For, brethren, the apostle here uses end in a way of praise. Think not of consumption, but of consummation. For it is in one sense that one says, I have finished my bread, in another, I have finished my coat. I have finished the bread, by eating it: the coat, by making it. In both places the word is “end,” “finish:” but the bread is finished by its being consumed, the coat is finished by being made: the bread, so as to be no more; the coat, so as to be complete. Therefore in this sense take ye also this word, end, when the Psalm is read and ye hear it said, “On the end, a Psalm of David.”7 Ye are for ever hearing this in the Psalms, and ye should know what ye hear. What meaneth, “On the end”?—“For Christ is the end of the law unto every one that believeth.”8 And what meaneth, “Christ is the end”? Because Christ is God, and “the end of the commandment is charity,” and “Charity is God:” because Father and Son and Holy Ghost are One. There is He the End to thee; elsewhere He is the Way. Do not stick fast in the way, and so never come to the end. Whatever else thou come to, pass beyond it, until thou come to the end. What is the end? It is good for me to “hold me fast in God.”9 Hast thou laid fast hold on God? thou hast finished the way: thou shalt abide in thine own country. Mark well! Some man seeks money: let not it be the end to thee: pass on, as a traveller in a strange land. But if thou love it, thou art entangled by avarice; avarice will be shackles to thy feet: thou canst make no more progress. Pass therefore this also: seek the end. Thou seekest health of the body: still do not stop there. For what is it, this health of the body, which death makes an end of, which sickness debilitates, a feeble, mortal, fleeting thing? Seek that, indeed, lest haply ill-health hinder thy good works: but for that very reason, the end is not there, for it is sought in order to something else. Whatever is sought in order to something else, the end is not there: whatever is loved for its own sake, and freely, the end is there. Thou seekest honors; perchance seekest them in order to do something, that thou mayest accomplish something, and so please God: love not the honor itself, lest thou stop there. Seekest thou praise? If thou seek God’s, thou doest well; if thou seek thine own, thou doest ill; thou stoppest short in the way. But behold, thou art loved, art praised: think it not joy when in thyself thou art praised; be thou praised in the Lord, that thou mayest sing, “In the Lord shall my soul be praised.”1 Thou deliverest some good discourse, and thy discourse is praised. Let it not be praised as thine, the end is not there. If thou set the end there, there is an end of thee: but an end, not that thou be perfected, but that thou be consumed. Then let not thy discourse be praised as coming from thee, as being thine. But how praised? As the Psalm saith, “In God will I praise the discourse, in God will I praise the word.”2 Hereby shall that which there follows come to pass in thee: “In God have I hoped, I will not fear what man can do unto me.”3 For when all things that are thine are praised in God, no fear lest thy praise be lost, since God faileth not. Pass therefore this also.

6. See, brethren, how many things we pass, in which is not the end. These we use as by the way; we take as it were our refreshment at the halting places on our journey, and pass on.4 Where then is the end? “Beloved, we are sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be;”5 here is this said, in this epistle. As yet then, we are on the way; as yet, wherever we come, we must pass on, until we attain unto some end. “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. That is the end; there perpetual praising, there Alleluia6 always without fail. This, then is the end he has spoken of in the Psalm: “I have seen the end of all perfection:”7 and as though it were said to him, What is the end thou hast seen? “Thy commandment, exceeding broad.” This is the end: the breadth of the commandment. The breadth of the commandment is charity, because where charity is, there are no straits. In this breadth. this wide room, was the apostle when he said, “Our mouth is open to you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged: ye are not straitened in us.”8 In this, then, is “Thy commandment exceeding broad.” What is the broad commandment? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.” Charity, then, is not straitened. Wouldest thou not be straitened here on earth? Dwell in the broad room. For whatever man may do to thee, he shall not straiten thee; because thou lovest that which man cannot hurt: lovest God, lovest the brotherhood, lovest the law of God, lovest the Church of God: it shalt be for ever. Thou laborest here on earth, but thou shall come to the promised enjoyment. Who can take from thee that which thou lovest? If no man can take from thee that which thou lovest, secure thou sleepest: or rather secure thou walchest, lest by sleeping thou lose that which thou lovest. For not without reason is it said, “Enlighten mine eyes, lest at any time I sleep in death.”9 They that shut their eyes against charity, fall asleep in the lusts of carnal delights. Be wakeful, therefore. For then are the delights, to eat, to drink, to wanton in luxury, to play, to hunt; these vain pomps all evils follow. Are we ignorant that they are delights? who can deny that they delight? But more beloved is the law of God. Cry against such persuaders: “The unrighteous have told me of delights: but not so as is thy law, O Lord.”10 This delight remaineth. Not only remaineth as the goal to which thou mayest come, but also calleth thee back when thou fleest.

7. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”11 Already ye have heard, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” See how He would not have thee divide thyself over a multitude of pages: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” On what two commandments? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”12 See here of what commandments this whole epistle talks. Therefore hold fast love, and set your minds at rest. Why fearest thou lest thou do evil to some man? Who does evil to the man he loves? Love1 thou: it is impossible to do this without doing good. But it may be, thou rebukest? Kindness2 does it, not fierceness. But it may be thou beatest? For discipline thou dost this; because thy kindness of love3 will not let thee leave him undisciplined. And indeed there come somehow these different and contrary results, that sometimes hatred uses winning ways, and charity shows itself fierce. A person hates his enemy, and feigns friendship for him: he sees him doing some evil, he praises him: he wishes him to go headlong, wishes him to go blind over the precipice of his lusts, haply never to return; he praises him, “For the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul;”4 he applies to him the unction of adulation; behold, he hates, and praises. Another sees his friend doing something of the same sort; he calls him back; if he will not hear, he uses words even of castigation, he scolds, he quarrels:5 there are times when it comes to this, that one must even quarrel! Behold, hatred shows itself winningly gentle, and charity quarrels! Stay not thy regard upon the words of seeming kindness, or the seeming cruelty of the rebuke; look into the vein6 they come from; seek the root whence they proceed. The one is gentle and bland that he may deceive, the other quarrels that he may correct. Well then, it is not for us, brethren, to enlarge your heart: obtain from God the gift to love one another. Love all men, even your enemies, not because they are your brethren, but that they may be your brethren; that ye may be at all times on fire with brotherly love, whether toward him that is become thy brother, or towards thine enemy, so that, by being beloved, he may become thy brother. Wheresoever ye love a brother, ye love a friend. Now is he with thee, now is he knit to thee in unity, yea catholic unity. If thou art living aright, thou lovest a brother made out of an enemy. But thou lovest some man who has not yet believed Christ, or, if he have believed, believes as do the devils: thou rebukest his vanity. Do thou love, and that with a brotherly love: he is not yet a brother, but thou lovest to the end he may be a brother. Well then, all our love is a brotherly love, towards Christians, towards all His members. The discipline of charity, my brethren, its strength, flowers, fruit, beauty, pleasantness, food, drink, meat, embracing, hath in it no satiety. If it so delight us while in a strange land, in our own country how shall we rejoice!

8. Let us run then, my brethren, let us run, and love Christ. What Christ? Jesus Christ. Who is He? The Word of God. And how came He to the sick? “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us.”7 It is complete then, which the Scripture foretold, “Christ must suffer, and rise again the third day from the dead.”8 His body, where is it? His members, where toil they? Where must thou be, that thou mayest be under thine Head? “And that repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name through all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”9 There let thy charity be spread abroad. Christ saith, and the Psalm, i.e. the Spirit of God, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad:” and for-sooth some man will have charity to be confined to Africa! Extend thy charity over the whole earth if thou wilt love Christ, for Christ’s members are over all the earth. If thou lovest but a part, thou art divided: if thou art divided, thou art not in the body; if thou art not in the body, thou art not under the Head. What profiteth it thee that thou believest10 and blasphemest? Thou adorest Him in the Head, blasphemest Him in the Body. He loves His Body. If thou hast cut thyself off from His Body, the Head hath not cut itself off from its Body. To no purpose dost thou honor me, cries thine Head to thee from on high, to no purpose dost thou honor me. It is all one as if a man would kiss thine head and tread upon thy feet: perchance with nailed boots he would crush thy feet, while he will clasp thy head and kiss it: wouldest thou not cry out in the midst of the words with which he honors thee, and say, What art thou doing, man? thou treadest on me. Thou wouldest not mean, Thou treadest on my head; for the head he honored; but more would the head cry out for the members trodden upon, than for itself because it was honored. Does not the head itself cry out, I will none of thine honor; do not tread on me? Now say if thou canst, How have I trodden upon thee? say that to the head: I wanted to kiss thee, I wanted to embrace thee. But seest thou not, O fool, that what thou wouldest embrace does in virtue of a certain unity, which knits the whole frame together, reach to that which thou treadest upon? Above11 thou honorest me, beneath12 thou treadest upon me. That on which thou treadest pains more than that which thou honorest rejoiceth. In what sort does the tongue cry out? “It hurts me.” It saith not, “It hurts my foot,” but, “It hurts me,” saith it. O tongue, who has touched thee? who has struck? who has goaded? who has pricked? No man, but I am knit together with the parts that are trodden upon. How wouldest thou have me not be pained, when I am not separate?

9. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, ascending into heaven on the fortieth day, did for this reason commend to us His Body where it would continue to lie, because He saw that many would honor Him for that He is ascended into heaven: and saw that their honoring Him is useless if they trample upon His members here on earth. And lest any one should err, and, while he adored the Head in heaven should trample upon the feet on earth, He told us where would be His members. For being about to ascend, He spake His last words on earth: after those same words He spake no more on earth. The Head about to ascend into heaven commended to us His members on earth and departed. Thenceforth thou findest not Christ speaking on earth; thou findest Him speaking, but from heaven. And even from heaven, why? Because His members on earth were trodden upon. For to the persecutor Saul He said from on high, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”1 I am ascended into heaven, but still I lie on earth: here I sit at the right hand of the Father, but there I yet hunger, thirst, and am a stranger. In what manner then did He commend to us His Body, when about to ascend into heaven? When the disciples asked Him, saying, “Lord, wilt thou at this time present2 thyself, and when shall be the kingdom of Israel?”3 He made answer, now at the point to depart, “It is not for you to know the time which the Father hath put in His own power: but ye shall receive strength of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me.” See where His Body is spread abroad, see where He will not be trodden upon: “Ye shall be witnesses to me, unto Jerusalem, and unto Judea, and even unto all the earth.” Lo, where I lie that am ascending! For I ascend, because I am the Head: my Body lies yet beneath. Where lies? Throughout the whole earth. Beware thou strike not, beware thou hurt not, beware thou trample not: these be the last words of Christ about to go into heaven. Look at a sick man languishing on his bed, lying in his house, and worn out with sickness, at death’s door, his soul as it were even now between his teeth: who, anxious, it may be, about something that is dear to him, which he greatly loves, and it comes into his mind, calls his heirs, and says to them, I pray you, do this. He, as it were, detains his soul by a violent effort, that it may not depart ere those words be made sure. When he has dictated those last words, he breathes out his soul, he is borne a corpse to the sepulchre. His heirs, how do they remember the last words of the dying man? How, if one should stand up and say to them, Do it not: what would they say? “What? shall I not do that which my father, in the act of breathing out his soul, commanded me with his last breath, the last word of his that sounded in my ears when my father was departing this life? Whatever other words of his I may not regard, his last have a stronger hold upon me: since which I never saw him more, never more heard speech of his. Brethren, think with Christian hearts; if to the heirs of a man, his words spoken when about to go to the tomb are so sweet, so grateful, so weighty, what must we account of the last words of Christ, spoken not when about to go back to the tomb, but to ascend into heaven! As for the man who lived and is dead, his soul is hurried off to other places, his body is laid in the earth, and whether these words of his be done or not, makes no difference to him: he has now something else to do, or something else to suffer: either in Abraham’s bosom he rejoices, or in eternal fire he longs for a drop of water, while his corpse lies there senseless in the sepulchre; and yet the last words of the dying man are kept. What have those to look for, who keep not the last words of Him that sitteth in heaven, who seeth from on high whether they be despised or not despised? The words of Him, who said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?” who keeps account, unto the judgment, of all that He seeth His members suffer?

10. And what have we done, say they? We are the persecuted, not the persecutors. Ye are the persecutors, O wretched men. In the first place, in that ye have divided the Church. Mightier the sword of the tongue than the sword of steel. Agar, Sarah’s maid, was proud, and she was afflicted by her mistress for her pride. That was discipline, not punishment.4 Accordingly, when she had gone away from her mistress, what said the angel to her? “Return to thy mistress.”5 Then, O carnal soul, like a proud bond-woman, suppose thou have suffered any trouble for discipline’ sake, why rarest thou? “Return to thy mistress,” hold fast the peace of the Church.6 Lo, the gospels are produced, we read where the Church is spread abroad: men dispute against us, and say to us, “Betrayers!”1 Betrayers of what? Christ commendeth to us His Church, and thou believest not: shall I believe thee, when thou revilest my parents? Wouldest thou that I should believe thee about the “betrayers”? Do thou first believe Christ. What is worth believing? Christ is God, thou art man: which ought to be believed first? Christ has spread His Church abroad over all the earth: I say it—despise me: the gospel speaks—beware. What saith the gospel? “It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.”2 Where remission of sins, there the Church is. How the Church? Why, to her it was said,3 “To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” 4Where is this remission of sins spread abroad? “Through all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Lo, believe Christ! But, because thou art well aware that if thou shalt believe Christ, thou wilt not have anything to say about “betrayers,” thou wilt needs have me to believe thee when thou speakest evil against my parents, rather than thyself believe what Christ foretold!

• • • • • • • •

[The remainder of the Homily is wanting in all the manuscripts. It seems also that St. Augustin was hindered from completing the exposition of the entire epistle, as he had undertaken to do: at least Possidius specifies this work under the title, “In Epist. Joannis ad Parthos Tractatus decem,” and it is scarcely likely that the whole of the fifth chapter was expounded in this tenth Homily.—Of the “Sermons,” there are none upon the remaining part of this epistle: the following extracts from other works of St. Augustin will supply what will be most desiderated: namely, his exposition of the text on “the Three Witnesses,” of “the sin unto death,” and of the twentieth verse].

Contra Maximinum, lib. ii. c. 22 §. 3.

1 Joann 5:7–8. Tres sunt testes; spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis; et tres unum sunt.5

I would not have thee mistake that place in the epistle of John the apostle where he saith, “There are three witnesses: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three are one.” Lest haply thou say that the Spirit and the water and the blood are diverse substances, and yet it is said, “the three are one:” for this cause I have admonished thee, that thou mistake not the matter. For these are mystical expressions,6 in which the point always to be considered is, not what the actual things are, but what they denote as signs: since they are signs of things, and what they are in their essence is one thing, what they are in their signification another. If then we understand the things signified, we do find these things to be of one substance. Thus, if we should say, the rock and the water are one, meaning by the Rock, Christ; by the water, the Holy Ghost: who doubts that rock and water are two different substances? yet because Christ and the Holy Spirit are of one and the same nature, therefore when one says, the rock and the water are one, this can be rightly taken in this behalf, that these two things of which the nature is diverse, are signs of other things of which the nature is one. Three things then we know to have issued from the Body of the Lord when He hung upon the tree: first, the spirit: of which it is written, “And He bowed the head and gave up the spirit:”7 then, as His side was pierced by the spear, “blood and water.” Which three things if we look at as they are in themselves, they are in substance several and distinct, and therefore they are not one. But if we will inquire into the things signified I by these, there not unreasonably comes into our thoughts the Trinity itself, which is the One, Only, True, Supreme God, Father and Son and Holy Ghost, of whom it could most truly be said, “There are Three Witnesses, and the Three are One:” so that by the term Spirit we should understand God the Father to be signified; as indeed it was concerning the worshipping of Him that the Lord was speaking, when He said, “God is a Spirit:”8 by the term, blood, the Son; because “the Word was made flesh:”9 and by the term water, the Holy Ghost; as, when Jesus spake of the water which He would give to them that thirst, the evangelist saith, “But this said He of the Spirit which they that believed on Him were to receive.”10 Moreover, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “Witnesses,” who that believes the Gospel can doubt, when the Son saith, “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me, He beareth witness of me.”11 Where, though the Holy Ghost is not mentioned, yet He is not to be thought separated from them. Howbeit neither concerning the Spirit hath He kept silence elsewhere, and that He too is a witness hath been sufficiently and openly shown. For in promising Him He said, “He shall bear witness of me.”1 These are the “Three Witnesses, and the Three are One, because of one substance. But whereas, the signs by which they were signified came forth from the Body of the Lord, herein they figured the Church preaching the Trinity, that it hath one and the same nature: since these Three in threefold manner signified are One, and the Church that preacheth them is the Body of Christ. In this manner then the three things by which they are signified came out from the Body of the Lord: like as from the Body of the Lord sounded forth the command to “baptize the nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”2 “In the name:” not, In the names: for “these Three are One,” and One God is these Three. And if in any other way this depth of mystery which we read in John’s epistle can be expounded and understood agreeably with the Catholic faith, which neither confounds nor divides the Trinity, neither believes the substances diverse nor denies that the persons are three, it is on no account to be rejected. For whenever in Holy Scriptures in order to exercise the minds of the faithful any thing is put darkly, it is to be joyfully welcomed if it can be in many ways but not unwisely expounded.

De Sermone Domini in Monte, lib. i. 22, §. 73.

1 John 5:16. Si quis scit peccare fratrem suum peccatum non ad mortem, postulabit, et dabit illi Dominus vitam qui peccat non ad mortem; est autem peccatum ad mortem; non pro illo dico ut roget.

But what presses harder upon the present question [in the Lord’s command of praying for enemies and persecutors] is that saying of the apostle John, “If any man know that his brother sinneth a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and the Lord will give life to that man who sinneth not unto death: but there is a sin unto death: not for that do I say that he should ask.” For it manifestly shows that there are some “brethren” whom we are not commanded to pray for, whereas the Lord bids us pray even for our persecutors. Nor can this question be solved except we acknowledge, that there are some sins in brethren that are worse than the sin of enemies in persecuting. That “brethren” mean Christians, may be proved by many texts of Holy Writ; the plainest, however, is that of the apostle which he puts thus: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother.”3 For he has not added our; but thought it plain enough, when by the term brother he spake of the Christian that should have an unbelieving wife. And accordingly he says just afterwards, “But if the unbelieving depart, let her depart: but a brother or sister is not put under servitude in a matter of this sort.” The “sin,” therefore, of a brother, “unto death,” I suppose to be when, after the acknowledging of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, one fights against the brotherhood, and is set on by the fire-brands of hatred4 against the very grace through which he was reconciled to God.5 But “a sin not unto death” is when a person, not having alienated his love from his brother. yet through some infirmity of mind may have failed to exhibit the due offices of brotherhood. Wherefore, on the one hand, the Lord on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”6 since they had not yet, by being made partakers of the grace of the Holy Spirit, entered into the fellowship of holy brotherhood; and blessed Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles prays for them who are stoning him;7 because they had not yet believed Christ, and were not fighting against that grace of communion. On the other hand, the apostle Paul does not pray for Alexander, and the reason I suppose, is, that this man was a brother, and had sinned “unto death,” i.e. by opposing the brotherhood in a spirit of hatred.8 Whereas for such as had not broken off the bonds of love, but had given way through fear, he prays that they may be forgiven. For so he says: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.”9 Then he subjoins for whom he prays, saying, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” This difference of sins it is that distinguishes Judas with his treason from Peter with his denial. Not that to him who repenteth there is to be no forgiveness: lest we go against that sentence of the Lord, in which He commands always to forgive the brother who asks his brother’s forgiveness:1 but that the mischief of that sin is, that the man cannot submit to the humiliation of begging for pardon, even when he is forced by his evil conscience both to acknowledge and to publish his sin. For when Judas had said, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood,”2 he went and hanged himself in desperation, rather than pray for forgiveness in humiliation. Wherefore it makes a great difference, what sort of repentance God forgives. For many are much quicker than others to confess that they have sinned, and are angry with themselves in such sort that they vehemently wish they had not sinned, while yet they cannot lay down their pride, and submit to have the heart humbled and broken so as to implore pardon: a state of mind which one may well believe to be, for the greatness of their sin, a part of their already begun damnation.

And this, perhaps, it is “to sin against the Holy Ghost:”3 i.e. through malice and envy to fight against brotherly charity after receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit: that sin which the Lord saith hath no forgiveness, either here or in the world to come … For the Lord in saying to the Pharisees, “Whosoever shall speak an evil word against the Son of Man,”4 &c., may have meant to warn them to come to the grace of God, and having received it, not to sin as they have now sinned. For now they have spoken an evil word against the Son of Man, and it may be forgiven them, if they be converted and believe and receive the Holy Spirit: which when they have received, if they will then have ill-will against the brotherhood and oppose the grace they have received, there is no forgiveness for them, either in this world or in the world to come.

Liber de Correptione et Gratia, § 35.

By this grace such is the liberty they receive, that although as long as they live here they have to fight against the lusts of sins, and are overtaken by some sins for which they must daily pray, “Forgive us our debts,” yet they no longer serve the sin which is unto death, of which the apostle John saith, “There is a sin unto death, I do not say that he shall ask for that.” Concerning which sin (since it is not expressed) many different opinions may be formed: but I affirm that sin to be the forsaking until death5 the “faith which worketh by love.

Contra Maximinum, lib. ii. c. 14, § 2, 3.

1 John 4:20. “Ut simus in vero Filio ejus Jesu Christo; ipse est verus Deus et vita aterna.”6

When ye read, “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ,” think of the “true Son” of God. But this Son ye in no wise think to be the true Son of God, if ye deny Him to be begotten of the substance of the Father. For was He already Son of Man and by gift of God became Son of God, begotten indeed of God, but by grace, not by nature? Or, though not Son of Man, yet was He some sort of creature which, by God’s changing it, was converted into Son of God? If you mean nothing of this sort, then was He either begotten of nothing, or of some substance. But thou hast relieved us from all fear of having to suppose that you affirm the Son of God to be of nothing, for thou hast declared that this is not your meaning. Therefore, He is of some substance. If not of the substance of the Father, then of what? Tell me. But ye cannot find any other … Consequently, the Father and the Son are of one and the same substance. This is the Homousion … In the Scriptures both you and we read, “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ; He is the true God and Eternal Life.” Let both parties yield to such weighty evidence. Tell us then, whether this “true Son” of God, discriminated as He is by the property of this name from those who are sons by grace,1 be of no substance or of some substance. Thou sayest, “I do not say that He is of no substance, lest I should say that He is of nothing.” He is therefore of some substance: I ask, of what? If not of the substance of the Father, seek another. If thou findest not another, as indeed thou canst find none at all, then acknowledge it to be the Father’s, and confess the Son Homöusios, “of one substance with the Father.” Flesh is begotten of flesh, the Son of flesh is begotten of the substance of the flesh. Set aside corruption, reject from the eye of the mind all carnal passions, and behold “the invisible things of God understood by the means of the things that are made.”2 Believe that the Creator who hath given flesh power to beget flesh, who hath given parents power of the substance of the flesh to generate “true sons” of flesh, much more had power to beget a “true Son” of His own substance, and to have one substance with the true Son, the spiritual incorruption remaining and carnal corruption being altogether alien there from.3

Collatio cum Maximino, § 14.

If He is begotten, He is Son: if He is Son, He is the “true Son,” because Only-Begotten. For we also are called sons: He Son by nature, we sons by grace … To say that because He is begotten, He is of another nature, is to deny that He is the “true Son.” Now we have the Scripture: “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ; He is the true God and Eternal Life.”4 Why “true God”? because “true Son” of God. For if He has given to animals this property, that what they beget shall be none other than what they themselves are: man begets man, dog begets dog, and should God not beget God? If then He is of the same substance, why callest thou Him less? Is it because when a human father begets a son, though human beget human, yet greater begets less? If so, then let us wait for Christ to grow as human beings grow whom human beings beget!5 But if Christ, ever since He was begotten (and this was not in time but from eternity), is what He is, and yet is less than the Father, at that rate the human condition is the better of the two: for a human being at any rate can grow, and has the property of sooner or later attaining to the age, to the strength of the father; but He never: then how is He a “true Son”?

De Trinitate, lib. i. 6, § 9.

And if the Son be not of the same substance as the Father, then is He a made substance: if a made substance, then not “all things were made by Him:” but, “all things were made by Him;”6 therefore, He is of one and the same substance with the Father. And therefore, not only God, but True (or, Very) God. Which the same John doth most openly affirm in his epistle: Scimus quod Filius Dei venerit et dederit nobis intellectum ut cognoscamus verum Deum, et simus in vero Filio ejus Jesu Christo. Hic est verus Deus et vita aterna.” “We know that the Son of God is come; and hath given us an understanding that we may (learn to) know the True God,7 and may be in His true Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and Eternal Life.”

10. Hence also by consequence we understand, that what the apostle Paul saith, “Who only hath immortality,”8 he saith not merely of the Father, but of the One and Only God, which the Trinity itself is. For neither is the “Eternal Life” itself mortal in respect of any mutability: and consequently, since the Son of God “is Eternal Life,” He also is to be understood together with the Father, where it is said, “Who only hath immortality.

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St Augustine’s Ninth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 4:17-21)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

HOMILY IX
1 John 4:17–21.

“Herein is love made perfect in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. Let us love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

1. Ye remember, beloved, that of the epistles of John the apostle the last past remains to be handled by us and expounded to you, as the Lord vouchsafes. Of this debt then we are mindful: and ye ought to be mindful of your claim. For indeed this same charity, which in this epistle is chiefly and almost alone commended, at once maketh us most faithful in paying our debts, and you most sweet in exacting your rights. I have said, most sweet in exacting, because where charity is not, he that exacts is bitter: but where charity is, both he that exacts is sweet, and he of whom it is exacted, although he undertakes some labor, yet charity makes the very labor to be almost no labor, and light. Do we not see how, even in dumb and irrational animals, where the love is not spiritual but carnal and natural, with great affection the mother yields herself to her young ones when they will have the milk which is their right: and however impetuously the suckling rushes at the teats, yet that is better for the mother than that it should not suck nor exact that which of love is due? Often we see great calves driving their heads at the cow’s udders with a force that almost lifts up the mother’s body, yet does she not kick them off; nay, if the young one be not there to suck, the lowing of the dam calls for it to come to the teats. If then there be in us that spiritual charity of which the apostle saith, “I became small in the midst of you even as a nurse cherishing her young ones;”2 we love you the more when ye are exacting. We like not the sluggish, because for the languid ones we are afraid. We have been obliged, however, to intermit the continuous reading of this epistle, because of certain stated lessons coming between, which must needs be read on their holy days, and the same preached upon. Let us now come back to the order which was interrupted; and what remains, holy brethren, receive ye with all attention. I know not whether charity could be more magnificently commended to us, than that it should be said, “Charity is God.”3 Brief praise, yet mighty praise: brief in utterance, mighty in meaning! How soon is it said, “Love is God!” This also is short: if thou count it, it is one: if thou weigh it, how great is it! “Love is God, and he that dwelleth,” saith he, “in love, dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him.” Let God be thy house, and be thou an house of God; dwell in God, and let God dwell in thee. God dwelleth in thee, that He may hold thee: thou dwellest in God, that thou mayest not fall; for thus saith the apostle of this same charity “Charity never falleth.”1 How should He fall whom God holdeth?

2. “Herein is our love made perfect in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.”2 He tells how each may prove himself, what progress charity has made in him; or rather what progress he has made in charity. For if charity is God, God is capable neither of proficiency nor of deficiency: that charity is said to be making proficiency in thee, means only that thou makest proficiency in it. Ask therefore what proficiency thou hast made in charity, and what thine heart will answer thee, that thou mayest know the measure of thy profiting. For he has promised to show us in what we may know Him, and hath said, “In this is love made perfect in us.” Ask, in what? “That we have boldness in the day of judgment.” Whoso hath boldness in the day of judgment, in that man is charity made perfect. What is it to have boldness in the day of judgment? Not to fear lest the day of judgment should come. There are men who do not believe in a day of judgment; these cannot have boldness in a day which they do not believe will come. Let us pass these: may God awaken them, that they may live; why speak we of the dead? They do not believe that there will be a day of judgment; they neither fear nordesire what they do not believe. Some man has begun to believe in a day of judgment: if he has begun to believe, he has also begun to fear. But because he fears as yet, because he hath not yet boldness in the day of judgment, not yet is charity in that man made perfect. But for all that, is one to despair? In whom thou seest the beginning, why despairest thou of the end? What beginning do I see? (sayest thou.) That very fear. Hear the Scripture: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”3 Well then, he has begun to fear the day of judgment: by fearing let him correct himself, let him watch against his enemies, i.e. his sins; let him begin to come to life again inwardly, and to mortify his members which are upon the earth, as the apostle saith, “Mortify your members which are upon the earth.”4 By the members upon earth he means spiritual wickedness:5 for he goes on to expound it, “Covetousness, uncleanness,”6 and the rest which he there follows out. Now in proportion as this man who has begun to fear the day of judgment, mortifies his members which are upon the earth, in that proportion the heavenly members rise up and are strengthened. But the heavenly members are all good works. As the heavenly members rise up, he begins to desire that which once he feared. Once he feared lest Christ should come and find in him the impious whom. He must condemn; now he longs for Him to come, because He shall find the pious man whom He may crown. Having now begun to desire Christ’s coming, the chaste soul which desires the embrace of the Bridegroom renounces the adulterer, becomes a virgin within by faith, hope, and charity. Now hath the man boldness in the day of judgment: he fights not against himself when he prays, “Thy kingdom come.”7 For he that fears lest the kingdom of God should come, fears lest his prayer be heard. How can he be said to pray, who fears lest his prayer be heard? But he that prays with boldness of charity, wishes now that He may come. Of this same desire said one in the Psalm, “And thou, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver my soul.”8 He groaned at being so put off. For there are men who with patience submit to die; but there are some perfect who with patience endure to live. What do I mean? When a person still desires this life, that person, when the day of death comes, patiently endures death: he struggles against himself that he may follow the will of God, and in his mind desires that which God chooseth, not what man’s will chooseth: from desire of the present life there comes a reluctance against death, but yet he takes to him patience and fortitude, that he may with an even mind meet death; he dies patiently. But when a man desires, as the apostle saith, “to be dissolved and to be with Christ,”9 that person, not patiently dies, but patiently lives, delightedly dies. See the apostle patiently living, i.e. how with patience he here, not loves life, but endures it. “To be dissolved,” saith be, “and to be with Christ, is far better: but to continue in the flesh is necessary for your sakes.” Therefore, brethren, do your endeavor, settle it inwardly with yourselves to make this your concern, that ye may desire the day of judgment. No otherwise is charity proved to be perfect, but only when one has begun to desire that day. But that man desires it, who hath boldness in it, whose conscience feels no alarm in perfect and sincere charity.

3. “In this is His love perfected in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.” Why shall we have boldness? “Because as He is are we also in this world.” Thou hast heard the ground of thy boldness: “Because as He is,” saith the apostle, “are we also in this world.” Does he not seem to have said something impossible? For is it possible for man to be as God? I have already expounded to you that “as” is not always said of equality, but is said of a certain resemblance. For how sayest thou, As I have ears, so has my image? Is it quite so? and yet thou sayest “so, as.” If then we were made after God’s image, why are we not so as God? Not unto equality, but relatively to our measure. Whence then are we given boldness in the day of judgment? “Because as He is, are we also in this world.” We must refer this to the same charity, and understand what is meant. The Lord in the Gospel saith, “If ye love them that love you, what reward shall ye have? do not the publicans this?”1 Then what would He have us do? “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray far them that persecute you.” If then He bids us love our enemies, whence brings He an example to set before us? From God Himself: for He saith, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” How doth God this? He loveth His enemies, “Who maketh His sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.” If this then be the perfection unto which God inviteth us, that we love our enemies as He loved His; this is our boldness in the day of judgment, that “as He is, so are we also in this world:” because, as He loveth His enemies in making His sun to rise upon good and bad, and in sending rain upon the just and unjust, so we, since we cannot bestow upon them sun and rain, bestow upon them our tears when we pray for them.

4. Now therefore concerning this same boldness, let us see what he says. Whence do we understand that charity is perfect? “There is no fear in charity.”2 Then what say we of him that has begun to fear the day of judgment? If charity in him were perfect, he would not fear. For perfect charity would make perfect righteousness, and he would have nothing to fear: nay rather he would have something to desire; that iniquity may pass away, and God’s kingdom come. So then, “there is no fear in charity.” But in what charity? Not in charity begun: in what then? “But perfect charity,” saith he, “casteth out fear.” Then let fear make the beginning, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear, so to say, prepares a place for charity. But when once charity has begun to inhabit, the fear which prepared the place for it is cast out. For in proportion as this increases, that decreases: and the more this comes to be within, is the fear cast out. Greater charity, less fear; less charity, greater fear. But if no fear, there is no way for charity to come in. As we see in sewing, the thread is introduced by means of the bristle;3 the bristle first enters, but except it come out the thread does not come into its place: so fear first occupies the mind, but the fear does not remain there, because it enters only in order to introduce charity. When once there is the sense of security in the mind, what joy have we both in this world and in the world to come! Even in this world, who shall hurt us, being full of charity? See how the apostle exults concerning this very charity: “Who shall separate us from the charity of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”4 And Peter saith: “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers5 of that which is good?—There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.”6 The consciousness of sins torments the heart: justification has not yet taken place. There is that in it which itches, which pricks. Accordingly in the Psalm what saith he concerning this same perfection of righteousness? “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing to thee, and that I be not pricked.”7 What is this, “That I be not pricked?” That there be not that which shall goad my conscience. Fear doth goad: but fear not thou: charity enters in, and she heals the wound that fear inflicts. The fear of God so wounds as doth the leech’s knife;8 it takes away the rottenness, and seems to make the wound greater. Behold, when the rottenness was in the body, the wound was less, but perilous: then comes the knife; the wound smarted less than it smarts now while the leech is cutting it. It smarts more while he is operating upon it than it would if it were not operated upon; it smarts more under the healing operation, but only that it may never smart when the healing is effected. Then let fear occupy thine heart, that it may bring in charity; let the cicatrice succeed to the leech’s knife. He is such an Healer, that the cicatrices do not even appear: only do thou put thyself under His hand. For if thou be without fear, thou canst not be justified. It is a sentence pronounced by the Scriptures; “For he that is without fear, cannot be justified.”1 Needs then must fear first enter in, that by it charity may come. Fear is the healing operation: charity, the sound condition. “But he that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Why? “Because fear hath torment;” just as the cutting of the surgeon’s knife hath torment.

5. But there is another sentence, which seems contrary to this if it have not one that understands.2 Namely, it is said in a certain place of the Psalms, “The fear of the Lord is chaste, enduring forever.”3 He shows us an eternal fear, but a chaste. But if he there shows us an eternal fear, does this epistle perchance contradict him, when it saith, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear?” Let us interrogate both utterances of God. One is the Spirit, though the books two, though the mouths two though the tongues two. For this is said by the mouth of John, that by the mouth of David: but think not that the Spirit is more than one. If one breath fills two pipes [of the double-flute], cannot one Spirit fill two hearts, move two tongues? But if two pipes filled by one breathing sound in unison, can two tongues filled with the Spirit or Breathing of God make a dissonance? There is then an unison there, there is a harmony, only it requires one that can hear. Behold, this Spirit of God hath breathed into and filled two hearts, hath moved two tongues: and we have heard from the one tongue, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear;” we have heard from the other, “The fear of the Lord is chaste, enduring for ever.” How is this? The notes seem to jar. Not so: rouse thine ears: mark the melody. It is not without cause that in the one place there is added that word, chaste, in the other it is not added: but because there is one fear which is called chaste, and there is another fear which is not called chaste. Let us mark the difference between these two fears, and so understand the harmony of the flutes. How are we to understand, or how to distinguish? Mark, my beloved. There are men who fear God, lest they be cast intohell, lest haply they burn with the devil in everlasting fire. This is the fear which introduces charity: but it comes that it may depart. For if thou as yet fearest God because of punishments, not yet dost thou love Him whom thou in such sort fearest. Thou dost not desire the good things, but art afraid of the evil things. Yet because thou art afraid of the evil things, thou correctest thyself and beginnest to desire the good things. When once thou hast begun to desire the good, there shall be in thee the chaste fear. What is the chaste fear? The fear lest thou lose the good things themselves. Mark! It is one thing to fear God lest He cast thee into hell with the devil, and another thing to fear God lest He forsake thee. The fear by which thou fearest lest thou be cast into hell with the devil, is not yet chaste; for it comes not from the love of God, but from the fear of punishment: but when thou fearest God lest His presence forsake thee, thou embracest Him, thou longest to enjoy God Himself.

6. One cannot better explain the difference between these two fears, the one which charity casteth out, the other chaste, which endureth for ever, than by putting the case of two married women, one of whom, you may suppose, is willing to commit adultery, delights in wickedness, only fears lest she be condemned by her husband. She fears her husband: but because she yet loves wickedness, that is the reason why she fears her husband. To this woman, the presence of her husband is not grateful but burdensome; and if it chance she live wickedly, she fears her husband, lest he should come. Such are they that fear the coming of the day of judgment. Put the case that the other loves her husband, that she feels that she owes him chaste embraces, that she stains herself with no uncleanness of adultery; she wishes for the presence of her husband. And how are these two fears distinguished? The one woman fears, the other also fears. Question them: they seem to make one answer: question the one, Dost thou fear thine husband? she answers, I do. Question the other, whether she fears her husband; she answers, I do fear him. The voice is one, the mind diverse. Now then let them be questioned, Why? The one saith, I fear my husband, lest he should come: the other saith, I fear my husband, lest he depart from me. The one saith, I fear to be condemned: the other, I fear to be forsaken. Let the like have place in the mind of Christians, and thou findest a fear which love casteth out, and another fear, chaste, enduring for ever.

7. Let us speak then first to these who fear God, just in the manner of that woman who delights in wickedness; namely, she fears her husband test he condemn her; to such let us first speak. O soul, which fearest God lest He condemn thee, just as the woman fears, who delights in wickedness: fears her husband, lest she be condemned by her husband as thou art displeased at this woman, so be displeased at thyself. If perchance thou hast a wife, wouldest thou have thy wife fear thee thus, that she be not condemned by thee? that delighting in wickedness, she should be repressed only by the weight of the fear of thee, not by the condemnation of her iniquity? Thou wouldest have her chaste, that she may love thee, not that she may fear thee. Show thyself such to God, as thou wouldest have thy wife be to thee. And if thou hast not yet a wife, and wishest to have one, thou wouldest have her such. And yet what are we saying, brethren? That woman, whose fear of her husband is, to be condemned by her husband, perhaps does not commit adultery, lest by some means or other it come to her husband’s knowledge, and he deprive her of this temporal light of life: now the husband can be deceived and kept in ignorance; for he is but human, as she is who can deceive him. She fears him, from whose eyes she can be hid: and dost thou not fear the face ever upon thee of thine Husband? “The countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil.”1 She catches at her husband’s absence, and haply is incited by the delight of adultery; and yet she saith to herself, I will not do it: he indeed is absent, but it is hard to keep it from coming in some way to his knowledge. She restrains herself, lest it come to the knowledge of a mortal man, one who, it is also possible, may never know it, who, it is also possible, may be deceived, so that he shall esteem a bad woman to be good, esteem her to be chaste who is an adulteress: and dost thou not fear the eyes of Him whom no man can deceive? thou not fear the presence of Him who cannot be turned away from thee? Pray God to look upon thee, and to turn His face away from thy sins; “Turn away Thy face from my sins.”2 But whereby dost thou merit that He should turn away His face from thy sin, if thou turn not away thine own face from thy sins? For the same voice saith in the Psalm: “For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sins is ever before me.”3 Acknowledge thou, and He forgives.4

8. We have addressed that soul which hath as yet the fear which endureth not for ever, but which love shuts out and casts forth: let us address that also which hath now the fear which is chaste, enduring for ever. Shall we find that soul, think you, that we may address it? think you, is it here in this congregation? is it, think you, here in this chancel?5 think you, is it here on earth? It cannot but be, only it is hidden. Now is the winter: within is the greenness in the root. Haply we may get at the ears of that soul. But wherever that soul is, oh that I could find it, and instead of its giving ear to me, might myself give ear to it! It should teach me something, rather than learn of me! An holy soul, a soul of fire, and longing for the kingdom of God: that soul, not I address, but God Himself doth address, and thus consoleth while patiently it endures to live here on earth: “Thou wouldest that I should even now come, and I know that thou wishest I should even now come: I know what thou art, such that without fear thou mayest wait for mine advent; I know that is a trouble to thee: but do thou even longer wait, endure; I come, and come quickly.” But to the loving soul the time moves slowly. Hear her singing, like a lily as she is from amid the thorns; hear her sighing and saying, “I will sings, and will understand in a faultless6 way: when will thou come unto me?”7 But in a faultless way well may she not fear; because “perfect love casteth out fear.” And when He is come to her embrace, still she fears, but8 in the manner of one that feels secure. What does she fear? She will beware and take heed to herself against her own iniquity, that she sin not again: not test she be cast into the fire, but lest she be forsaken by Him. And there shall be in in her—what? the “chaste fear, enduring for ever.” We have heard the two flutes sounding in unison. That speaks of fear, and this speaks of fear: but that, of the fear with which the soul fears lest she be condemned; this, of the fear with which the soul fears lest she be forsaken.9 That is the fear which charity casteth out: this, the fear that endureth for ever.

9. “Let us love,10 because He first loved us.”11 For how should we love, except He had first loved us? By loving we became friends: but He loved us as enemies, that we might be made friends. He first loved us, and gave us the gift of loving Him. We did not yet love Him: by loving we are made beautiful. If a man deformed and ill-featured love a beautiful woman, what shall he do? Or what shall a woman do, if, being deformed and ill-featured and black-complexioned, she love a beautiful man? By loving can she become beautiful? Can he by loving become handsome? He loves a beautiful woman, and when he sees himself in a mirror, he is ashamed to lift up his face to her his lovely one of whom he is enamored. What shall he do that he may be beautiful? Does he wait for good looks to come? Nay rather, by waiting old age is added to him, and makes him uglier. There is nothing then to do, there is no way to advise him, but only that he should restrain himself, and not presume to love unequally: or if perchance he does love her, and wishes to take her to wife, in her let him love chastity, not the face of flesh. But our soul, my brethren, is unlovely by reason of iniquity: by loving God it becomes lovely. What a love must that be that makes the lover beautiful! But God is always lovely, never unlovely, never changeable. Who is always lovely first loved us; and what were we when He loved us but foul and unlovely? But not to leave us foul; no, but to change us, and of unlovely make us lovely. How shall we become lovely? By loving Him who is always lovely. As the love increases in thee, so the loveliness increases: for love is itself the beauty of the soul. “Let us love, because He first loved us.” Hear the apostle Paul: “But God showed His love in us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us:”1 the just for the unjust, the beautiful for the foul. How find we Jesus beautiful? “Thou art beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men; grace is poured upon thy lips.”2 Why so? Again see why it is that He is fair; “Beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men:” because “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”3 But in that He took flesh, He took upon Him, as it were, thy foulness, i.e. thy mortality, that He might adapt Himself to thee, and become suited to thee, and stir thee up to the love of the beauteousness within. Where then in Scripture do we find Jesus uncomely and deformed, as we have found Him comely and “beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men?” where find we Him also deformed? Ask Esaias: “And we saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness.”4 There now are two flutes which seem to make discordant sounds: howbeit one Spirit breathes into both. By this it is said, “Beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men:” by that it is said in Esaias, “We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness.” By one Spirit are both flutes filled, they make no dissonance. Turn not away thine ears, apply the understanding. Let us ask the apostle Paul, and let him expound to us the unison of the two flutes. Let him sound to us the note, “Beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men.—Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”5 Let him sound to us also the note, “We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness.—He made Himself of no reputation, taking upon Him the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men, and in fashion found as man. He had no form nor comeliness,” that He might give thee form and comeliness. What form? what comeliness? The love which is in charity:6 that loving, thou mayest run;7 running, mayest love. Thou art fair now: but stay not thy regard upon thyself, lest thou lose what thou hast received; let thy regards terminate in Him by whom thou wast made fair. Be thou fair only to the end He may love thee. But do thou direct thy whole aim to Him, run thou to Him, seek His embraces, fear to depart from Him; that there may be in thee the chaste fear, which endureth for ever. “Let us love, because He first loved us.”

10. “If any man say, I love God.”8 What God?9 wherefore love we? “Because He first loved us,” and gave us to love. He loved us ungodly, to make us godly; loved us unrighteous, to make us righteous; loved us sick, to make us whole. Ask each several man; let him tell thee if he love God. He cries out, he confesses: I love, God knoweth. There is another question to be asked. “If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.” By what provest thou that he is a liar? Hear. “For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?” What then? does he that loves a brother, love God also? He must of necessity love God, must of necessity love Him that is Love itself. Can one love his brother, and not love Love? Of necessity he must love Love. What then? because he loves Love, does it follow that he loves God? Certainly it does follow. In loving Love, he loves God. Or hast thou forgotten what thou saidst a little while ago, “Love is God”?1 If “Love is God,” whoso loveth Love, loveth God. Love then thy brother, and feel thyself assured. Thou canst not say, “I love my brother, but I do not love God.” As thou liest, if thou sayest “I love God,” when thou lovest not thy brother, so thou art deceived when thou sayest, I love my brother, if thou think that thou lovest not God. Of necessity must thou who lovest thy brother, love Love itself: but “Love is God:” therefore of necessity must he love God, whoso loveth his brother. But if thou love not the brother whom thou seest, how canst thou love God whom thou seest not? Why does he not see God? Because he has not Love itself. That he does not see God, is, because he has not love: that he has not love, is, because he loves not his brother. The reason then why he does not see God, is, that he has not Love. For if he have Love, he sees God, for “Love is God:” and that eye is becoming more and more purged by love, to see that Unchangeable Substance, in the presence of which he shall always rejoice, which he shall enjoy to everlasting, when he is joined with the angels. Only, let him run now, that he may at last have gladness in his own country. Let him not love his pilgrimage, not love the way: let all be bitter save Him that calleth us, until we hold Him fast, and say what is said in the Psalm: “Thou hast destroyed all that go a-whoring from Thee”2—and who are they that go a-whoring? they that go away and love the world: but what shalt thou do? he goes on and says:—“but for me it is good to cleave to God.” All my good is, to cling unto God, freely. For if thou question him and say, For what dost thou cling to Him? and he should say, That He may give me—Give thee what? It is He that made the heaven, He that made the earth: what shall He give thee? Already thou are cleaving to Him: find something better, and He shall give it thee.

11. “For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.”3 Marvellous fine talk it was, that thou didst say, “I love God,” and hatest thy brother! O murderer, how lovest thou God? Hast thou not heard above in this very epistle, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer”?4 Yea, but I do verily love God, however I hate my brother. Thou dost verily not love God, if thou hate thy brother. And now I make it good by another proof. This same apostle hath said, “He gave us commandment that we should love one another.” How canst thou be said to love Him whose commandment thou hatest? Who shall say, I love the emperor, but I hate his laws? In this the emperor understands whether thou love him, that his laws be observed throughout the provinces. Our Emperor’s law, what is it? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”5 Thou sayest then, that thou lovest Christ: keep His commandment, and love thy brother. But if thou love not thy brother, how canst thou be said to love Him whose commandment thou despisest?—Brethren, I am never satiated in speaking of charity in the name of the Lord. In what proportion ye have an insatiable desire of this thing, in that proportion we hope the thing itself is growing in you, and casting out fear, that so there may remain that chaste fear which is for ever permanent. Let us endure the world, endure tribulations, endure the stumbling-blocks of temptations. Let us not depart from the way; let us hold the unity of the Church, hold Christ, hold charity. Let us not be plucked away from the members of His Spouse, not be plucked away from faith, that we may glory in His coming: and we shall securely abide in Him, now by faith, then by sight, of whom we have so great earnest, even the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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St Augustine’s Eighth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 4:12-16)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

HOMILY VIII
1 John 4:12–16.

“If we love one another, God abideth1 in us, and His love will be perfected in us. In this know we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and are witnesses that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.”

1. Love is a sweet word, but sweeter the deed. To be always speaking of it, is not in our power: for we have many things to do, and divers businesses draw us different ways, so that our tongue has not leisure to be always speaking of love: as indeed our tongue could have nothing better to do. But though we may not always be speaking of it, we may always keep it. Just as it is with the Alleluia which we sing at this present time,2 are we always doing this? Not one hour, I do not say for the whole space of it, do we sing Alleluia, but barely during a few moments of one hour, and then give ourselves to something else. Now Alleluia, as ye already know, means, Praise ye the Lord. He that praises God with his tongue, cannot be always doing this: he that by his life and conduct praises God, can be doing it always. Works of mercy, affections of charity, sanctity of piety, incorruptness of chastity, modesty of sobriety, these things are always to be practiced: whether we are in public, or at home; whether before men, or in our chamber; whether speaking, or holding our peace; whether occupied upon something, or free from occupation: these are always to be kept, because all these virtues which I have named are within. But who is sufficient to name them all? There is as it were the army of an emperor seated within in thy mind. For as an emperor by his army does what he will, so the Lord Jesus Christ, once beginning to dwell in our inner man, (i.e. in the mind through faith), uses these virtues as His ministers. And by these virtues which cannot be seen with eyes, and yet when they are named are praised—and they would not be praised except they were loved, not loved except they were seen; and if not loved except seen, they are seen with another eye, that is, with the inward beholding of the heart—by these invisible virtues, the members are visibly put in motion: the feet to walk, but whither? whither they are moved by the good will which as a soldier serves the good emperor: the hands to work; but what? that which is bidden by charity which is inspired within by the Holy Ghost. The members then are seen when they are put in motion; He that orders them within is not seen: and who He is that orders them within is known almost alone to Him that orders, and to him who within is ordered.

2. For, brethren, ye heard just now when the Gospel was read, at least if ye had for it the ear not only of the body but also of the heart. What said it? “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them.”3 Did He mean to say this, that whatever good things we do, we should hide them from the eyes of men,4 and fear to be seen? If thou fearest spectators thou wilt not have imitators: thou oughtest therefore to be seen. But thou must not do it to the end thou mayest be seen. Not there should be the end of thy joy, not there the goal of thy rejoicing, that thou shouldest account thyself to have gotten the whole fruit of thy good work, when thou art seen and praised. This is nothing. Despise thyself when thou art praised, let Him be praised in thee who worketh by thee. Therefore do not for thine own praise work the good thou doest: but to the praise of Him from whom thou hast the power to do good. From thyself thou hast the ill doing, from God thou hast the well doing. On the other hand, see perverse men, how preposterous they are. What they do well, they will needs ascribe to themselves; if they do ill, they will needs accuse God. Reverse this distorted and preposterous proceeding, which puts the thing, as one may say, head downwards, which makes that undermost which is uppermost,1 and that upwards which is downwards. Dost thou want to make God undermost and thyself uppermost? Thou goest headlong, not elevatest thyself; for He is always above. What then? thou well, and God ill? nay rather, say this, if thou wouldest speak more truly, I ill, He well; and what I do well from Him is the well-doing: for from myself whatever I do is ill. This confession strengthens the heart, and makes a firm foundation of love. For if we ought to hide our good works lest they be seen of men, what becomes of that sentence of the Lord in the sermon which He delivered on the mount? Where He said this, there He also said a little before, “Let your good works shine before men.”2 And He did not stop there, did not there make an end, but added, “And glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” And what saith the apostle? “And I was unknown by face unto the Churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And in me they glorified God.”3 See how he also, in regard that he became so widely known did not set the good in his own praise, but in the praise of God. And as for him, in his own person, that he was one who laid waste the Church, a persecutor, envious, malignant, it is himself that confesses this, not we that reproach him therewith. Paul loves to have his sins spoken of by us, that He may be glorified who healed such a disease. For it was the hand of the Physician that cut end healed the greatness of the sore. That voice from heaven prostrated the persecutor, and raised up the preacher; killed Saul, and quickened Paul.4 For Saul was the persecutor of a holy man; thence had this man his name, when he persecuted the Christians:5 afterward of Saul he became Paul. What does the name Paulus mean? Little. Therefore when he was Saul, he was proud, lifted up; when he was Paul, he was lowly, little. Thus we say, I will see thee “paulo post,” i.e. after a little while.6 Hear that he was made little: “For I am the least of the apostles;7 and, To me the least of all saints,” he saith in another place. So was he among the apostles as the hem of the garment: but the Church of the Gentiles touched it, as did the woman which had the flux, and was made whole.8

3. Then, brethren, this I would say, this I do say, this if I might I would not leave unsaid: Let there be in you now these works, now those, according to the time, according to the hours, according to the days. Are you always to be speaking? always to keep silence? always to be refreshing the body? always to be fasting? always to be giving bread to the needy? always to be clothing the naked? always to be visiting the sick? always to be bringing into agreement them that disagree? always to be burying the dead? No: but now this, now that. These things are taken in hand, and they stop: but that which as emperor commands all the forces within neither hath beginning nor ought to stop. Let charity within have no intermission: let the offices of charity be exhibited according to the time. Let “brotherly love” then, as it is written, let “brotherly love continue.”9

4. But perchance it will have struck some of you all along, while we have been expounding to you this epistle of blessed John, why it is only “brotherly” love that he so emphatically commends. “He that loveth his brother,” saith he: and, “a commandment is given us that we love one another.”10 Again and again it is of brotherly love that he speaks: but the love of God, i.e. the love with which we ought to love God, he has not so constantly named; howbeit, he has not altogether left it unspoken. But concerning love of an enemy, almost throughout the epistle, he has said nothing. Although he vehemently preaches up and commends charity to us, he does not tell us to love our enemies, but tells us to love our brethren. But just now, when the Gospel was read, we heard, “For if ye love them that love you, what reward shall ye have? Do not even the publicans this? “11 How is it then that John the apostle, as the thing of great concern to us in order to a certain perfection, commends brotherly love; whereas the Lord saith it is not enough that we love our brethren, but that we ought to extend that love so that we may reach even to enemies? He that reaches even unto enemies does not overleap the brethren. It must needs, like fire, first seize upon what is nearest, and so extend to what is further off. A brother is nearer to thee than any chance person. Again, that person has more hold upon thee whom thou knowest not, who yet is not against thee, than an enemy who is also against thee. Extend thy love to them that are nearest, yet do not call this an extending: for it is almost loving thyself, to love them that are close to thee Extend it to the unknown, who have done thee no ill. Pass even them: reach on to love thine enemies. This at least the Lord commands. Why has the apostle here said nothing about loving an enemy.

5. All love,1 whether that which is called carnal, which is wont to be called not “dilectio” but “amor:” (for the word “dilectio” is wont to be used of better objects, and to be understood of better objects:) yet all love, dear brethren, hath in it a wishing well to those who are loved. For we ought not so to love, nor are we able so to love, (whether “diligere” or “amare:” for this latter word the Lord used when He said, “Petra, amas me?” “Peter, lovest thou me?”) we ought not so to love2 men, as we hear gluttons say, I love thrushes. Thou askest why he loves them? That he may kill, that he may consume. He says he loves, and to this end loves he them, that they may cease to be; to this end loves he them, that he may make away with them. And whatever we love in the way of food, to this end love we it, that it may be consumed and we recruited. Are men to be so loved as to be consumed? But there is a certain friendliness of well wishing, by which we desire at some time or other to do good to those whom we love. How if there be no good that we can do? The benevolence, the wishing well, of itself sufficeth him that loves. For we ought not to wish men to be wretched, that we may be enabled to practise works of mercy. Thou givest bread to the hungry: but better it were that none hungered, and thou hadst none to give to. Thou clothest the naked: oh that all were clothed, and this need existed not! Thou buriest the dead: oh that it were come at last, that life where none shall die! Thou reconcilest the quarrelling: oh that it were here at last, that eternal peace of Jerusalem, where none shall disagree! For all these are offices done to necessities. Take away the wretched; there will be an end to works of mercy. The works of mercy will be at an end: shall the ardor of charity be quenched? With a truer touch of love thou lovest the happy man, to whom there is no good office thou canst do; purer will that love be, and far more unalloyed. For if thou have done a kindness to the wretched, perchance thou desirest to lift up thyself over against him, and wishest him to be subject to thee, who hast done the kindness to him. He was in need, thou didst bestow; thou seemest to thyself greater because thou didst bestow, than he upon whom it was bestowed. Wish him thine equal, that ye both may be under the One Lord, on whom nothing can be bestowed.

6. For in this the proud soul has passed bounds, and, in a manner, become avaricious. For, “The root of all evils is avarice;”3 and again it is said, “The beginning of all sin is pride.”4 And we ask, it may be, how these two sentences agree: “The root of all evils is avarice;” and, “The beginning of all sin is pride.” If pride is the beginning of all sin, then is pride the root of all evils. Now certainly, “the root of all evils is avarice.” We find that in pride there is also avarice, (or grasping;) for man has passed bounds: and what is it to be avaricious? to go beyond that which sufficeth. Adam fell by pride: “the beginning of all sin is pride,” saith it: did he fall by grasping? What more grasping, than he whom God could not suffice? In fact, my brethren, we read how man was made after the image and likeness of God: and what said God of him? “And let him have power over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over all cattle which move upon the earth.”5 Said He, Have power over men? “Have power,” saith He: He hath given him natural power: “have power” over what? “over the fishes of the sea, the fowl of the heaven, and all moving things which move upon the earth.” Why is this power over these things a natural power? Because man hath the power from this; that he was made after the image of God. And in what was he made after God’s image? In the intellect, in the mind, in the inner man; in that he understands truth, distinguishes between right and wrong, knows by whom he was made, is able to understand his Creator, to praise his Creator: he hath this intelligence, who hath prudence. Therefore when many by evil lusts wore out in themselves the image of God, and by perversity of their manners extinguished the very flame, so to say, of intelligence, the Scripture cried aloud to them, “Become not ye as the horse and mule which have no understanding.”1 That is to say, I have set thee above the horse and mule; thee, I made after mine image, I have given thee power over these. Why? Because they have not the rational mind: but thou by the rational mind art capable of truth, understandest what is above thee: be subject to Him that is above thee, and beneath thee shall those things be over which thou was set. But because by sin man deserted Him whom he ought to be under, he is made subject to the things which he ought to be above.

7. Mark what I say: God, man, beasts: to wit, above thee, God; beneath thee, the beasts. Acknowledge Him that is above thee, that those that are beneath thee may acknowledge thee.2 Thus, because Daniel acknowledged God above him, the lions acknowledged him above them. But if thou acknowledge not Him that is above thee, thou despisest thy superior, thou becomest subject to thine inferior. Accordingly, how was the pride of the Egyptians quelled? By the means of frogs and flies.3 God might have sent lions: but a great man may be scared by a lion. The prouder they were, the more by the means of things contemptible and feeble was their wicked neck broken. But Daniel, lions acknowledge, because he was subject to God. What? the martyrs who were cast to the wild beasts to fight with them, and were torn by the teeth of savage creatures, were they not under God? or were those three men servants of God, and the Maccabees not servants of God? The fire acknowledged as God’s servants the three men, whom it burned not, neither hurt their garments;4 and did it not acknowledge the Maccabees?5 It acknowledged the Maccabees; it did, my brethren, acknowledge them also. But there was need of a scourge, by the Lord’s permission: He hath said in Scripture, “He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”6 For think ye, my brethren, the iron would have pierced into the vitals7 of the Lord unless He had permitted it, or that He would have hung fastened to the tree, unless it had been His will? Did not His own creature acknowledge Him? Or did He set an ensample of patience to His faithful ones? Ye see then, God delivered some visibly, some He delivered not visibly: yet all He spiritually delivered, spiritually deserted none. Visibly He seemed to have deserted some, some He seemed to have rescued. Therefore rescued He some, that thou mayest not think that He had not power to rescue. He has given proof that He has the power, to the end that where he doth it not, thou mayest understand a more secret will, not surmise difficulty of doing. But what, brethren? When we shall have come out of all these snares of mortality, when the times of temptation shall have passed away, when the river of this world shall have fleeted by, and we shall have received again that “first robe,”8 that immortality which by sinning we have lost, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption,” that is, this flesh shall have put on incorruption, “and this mortal shall have put on immortality;”9 the now perfected sons of God, in whom is no more need to be tempted, neither to be scourged, shall all creatures acknowledge: subjected to us shall all things be, if we here be subjected to God.

8. So then ought the Christian to be, that he glory not over other “men.” For God hath given it thee to be over the beasts, i.e. to be better than the beasts. This hast thou by nature; thou shall always be better than a beast. If thou wish to be better than another man, thou wilt begrudge him when thou shalt see him to be thine equal. Thou oughtest to wish all men to be thine equals; and if by wisdom thou surpass any, thou oughtest to wish that he also may be wise. As long as he is slow, he learns from thee; as long as he is untaught, he hath need of thee; and thou art seen to be the teacher, he the learner; therefore thou seemest to be the superior, because thou art the teacher; he the inferior, because the learner. Except thou wish him thine equal, thou wishest to have him always a learner. But if thou wish to have him always a learner, thou wilt be an envious teacher. If an envious teacher, how wilt thou be a teacher? I pray thee, do not teach him thine enviousness. Hear the apostle speaking of the bowels of charity: “I would that all were even as I.”10 In what sense did he wish all to be his equals? In this was he superior to all, that by charity he wished all to be his equals. I say then, man has past bounds; he would needs be greedy of more than his due, would be above men, he that was made above the beasts: and this is pride.

9. And see what great works pride does. Lay it up in your hearts, how much alike, how much as it were upon a par, are the works it doeth, and the works of charity. Charity feeds the hungry, and so does pride: charity, that God may be praised; pride, that itself may be praised. Charity clothes the naked, so does pride: charity fasts, so does pride: charity buries the dead, so does pride. All good works which charity wishes to do, and does; pride, on the other hand, drives at the same, and, so to say, keeps her horses up to the mark. But charity is between her and it, and leaves not place for ill-driven pride; not ill-driving, but ill-driven. Woe to the man whose charioteer is pride, for he must needs go headlong! But that, in the good that is done, it may not be pride that sets us on, who knows? who sees it? where is it? the works we see: mercy feeds, pride also feeds; mercy takes in the stranger, pride also takes in the stranger; mercy intercedes for the poor, pride also intercedes. How is this? In the works we see no difference. I dare to say somewhat, but not I; Paul hath said it: charity dies, that is, a man having charity confesses the name of Christ, suffers martyrdom: pride also confesses, suffers also martyrdom. The one hath charity, the other hath not charity. But let him that hath not charity hear from the apostle: “If I distribute all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.1 So then the divine Scripture calls us off from the display of the face outwardly to that which is within; from this surface which is vaunted before men, it calls us off to that which is within. Return to thy own conscience, question it. Do not consider what blossoms outwardly, but what root there is in the ground. Is lust rooted there? A show there may be of good deeds, truly good works there cannot be. Is charity rooted there? Have no fear: nothing evil can come of that. The proud caresses, love2 is severe. The one clothes, the other smites. For the one clothes in order to please men, the other smites in order to correct by discipline. More accepted is the blow of charity than the alms of pride. Come then within, brethren; and in all things, whatsoever ye do, look unto God your witness. See, if He seeth, with what mind ye do it. If your heart accuse you not that ye do it for the sake of display, it is well: fear ye not. But when ye do good, fear not lest another see you. Fear thou lest thou do it to the end that thou mayest be praised: let the other see it, that God may be praised. For if thou hidest it from the eyes of man, thou hidest it from the imitation of man, thou withdrawest from God His praise. Two are there to whom thou doest the alms: two hunger; one for bread, the other for righteousness. Between these two famishing souls:—as it is written, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled:”3—between these two famishing persons thou the doer of the good work art set; if charity does the work by occasion of the one, therein it hath pity on both, it would succor both. For the one craves what he may eat, the other craves what he may imitate. Thou feedest the one, give thyself as a pattern to the other; so hast thou given alms to both: the one thou hast caused to thank thee for killing his hunger, the other thou hast made to imitate thee by setting him an example.

10. Shew mercy then, as men of merciful hearts; because in loving enemies also, ye love brethren. Think not that John has given no precept concerning love of our enemy, because he has not ceased to speak of brotherly love. Ye love brethren. “How,” sayest thou, “do we love brethren?” I ask wherefore thou lovest an enemy. Wherefore dost thou love him? That he may be whole in this life? what if it be not expedient for him? That he may be rich? what if by his very riches he shall be blinded? That he may marry a wife? what if he shall have a bitter life of it? That he may have children? what if they shall be bad? Uncertain therefore are these things which thou seemest to wish for thine enemy, in that thou lovest him; they are uncertain. Wish for him that he may have with thee eternal life; wish for him that he may be thy brother: when thou lovest him, thou lovest a brother. For thou lovest in him not what he is, but what thou wishest that he may be. I once said to you, my beloved, if I mistake not: There is a log of timber lying in sight; a good workman has seen the log, not yet planed, just as it was hewn from the forest, he has taken a liking to it, he would make something out of it. For indeed he did not love it to this end that it should always remain thus. In his art he has seen what it shall be, not in his liking what it is; and his liking is for the thing he will make of it, not for the thing it is. So God loved us sinners. We say that God loved sinners: for He saith, “They that are whole need not the Physician, but they that are sick.”1 Did He love us sinners to the end we should still remain sinners? As timber from the wood our Carpenter saw us, and had in His thoughts the building He would make thereof, not the unwrought timber that it was. So too thou seest thine enemy striving against thee, raging, biting with words, exasperating with contumelies, harassing with hatred: thou hast regard to this in him, that he is a man. Thou seest all these things that are against thee, that they were done by man; and thou seest in him that he was made by God. Now that he was made man, was God’s doing: but that he hates thee, is his doing; that he has ill-will at thee, is his doing. And what sayest thou in thy mind? Lord, be merciful to him, forgive him his sins, strike terror into him, change him. Thou lovest not in him what he is, but what thou wishest him to be. Consequently, when thou lovest an enemy, thou lovest a brother. Wherefore, perfect love is the loving an enemy: which perfect love is in brotherly love. And let no man say that John the apostle has admonished us somewhat less, and the Lord Christ somewhat more. John has admonished us to love the brethren; Christ has admonished us to love even enemies. Mark to what end Christ hath bidden thee to love thine enemies. That they may remain always enemies? If He bade it for this end, that they should remain enemies, thou hatest,2 not lovest. Mark how He Himself loved, i.e. because He would not that they should be still the persecutors they were, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”3 Whom He willed to be forgiven, them He willed to be changed: whom He willed to be changed, of enemies He deigned to make brethren, and did in truth make them so. He was killed, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven: sent the Holy Ghost to His disciples: they began with boldness to preach His name, they did miracles in the name of Him that was crucified and slain: those slayers of the Lord saw them; and they who in rage had shed His blood, by believing drank it.

11. These things have I said, brethren, and somewhat at length: yet because charity was to be more earnestly commended to you, beloved, in this way was it to be commended. For if there be no charity in you, we have said nothing. But if it be in you, we have as it were cast oil upon the flames. And in whom it was not, perchance by words it hath been kindled. In one, that which was there hath grown; in another, that hath begun to be, which was not. To this end therefore have we said these things, that ye be not slow to love your enemies. Does any man rage against thee? he rages, pray thou; he hates, pity thou. It is the fever of his soul that hates thee: he will be whole, and will thank thee. How do physicians love them that are sick? Is it the sick that they love? If they love them as sick, they wish them to be always sick. To this end love they the sick; not that they should still be sick, but that from being sick they should be made whole. And how much have they very often to suffer from the frenzied! What contumelious language! Very often they are even struck by them. He attacks the fever, forgives the man. And what shall I say, brethren? does he love his enemy? Nay, he hates his enemy, the disease; for it is this that he hates, and loves the man by whom he is struck: he hates the fever. For by whom or by what is he struck? by the disease, by the sickness, by the fever. He takes away that which strives against him, that there may remain that from which he shall have thanks. So do thou. If thine enemy hate thee, and unjustly hate thee; know that the lust of the world reigns in him, therefore he hates thee. If thou also hate him, thou on the other hand renderest evil for evil. What does it, to render evil for evil? I wept for one sick man who hated thee; now bewail I thee, if thou also hatest. But he attacks thy property; he takes from thee I know not what things which thou hast on earth: therefore hatest thou him, because he puts thee to straits on earth. Be not thou straitened, remove thee to heaven above; there shalt thou have thine heart where there is wide room, so that thou mayest not be straitened in the hope of life eternal. Consider what the things are that he takes from thee: not even them would he take from thee, but by permission of Him who “scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”4 He, this same enemy of thine, is in a manner the instrument5 in the hands of God, by which thou mayest be healed. If God knows it to be good for thee that he should despoil thee, He permits him; if He knows it to be good for thee that thou shouldest receive blows, He permits him to smite thee: by the means of Him He careth for thee: wish thou that he may be made whole.

12. “No man hath seen God at any time.” See, beloved: “If we love one another, God will dwell in us, and His love will be perfected in us.”1 Begin to love; thou shalt be perfected. Hast thou begun to love? God has begun to dwell in thee: love Him that has begun to dwell in thee, that by more perfect indwelling He may make thee perfect. “In this we know that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.”2 It is well: thanks be to God! We come to know that He dwelleth in us. And whence come we to know this very thing, to wit, that we do know that He dwelleth in us? Because John himself has said this: “Because He hath given us of His Spirit.” Whence know we that He hath given us of His Spirit? This very thing, that He hath given thee of His Spirit, whence comest thou to know it? Ask thine own bowels: if they are full of charity, thou hast the Spirit of God. Whence know we that by this thou knowest that the Spirit of God dwelleth in thee? “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”3

13. “And we have seen, and are witnesses, that God hath sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.”4 Set your minds at rest, ye that are sick: such a Physician is come, and do ye despair? Great were the diseases, incurable were the wounds, desperate was the sickness. Dost thou note the greatness of thine ill, and not note the omnipotence of the Physician? Thou art desperate, but He is omnipotent; Whose witnesses are these that first were healed, and that announce the Physician: yet even they are made whole in hope rather than in the reality. For so saith the apostle: “For by hope we are saved.”5 We have begun therefore to be made whole in faith: but our wholeness shall be perfected “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.”6 This is hope, not the reality. But he that rejoiceth in hope shall hold the reality also: whereas he that hath not the hope, shall not be able to attain unto the reality.

14. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.”7 Now we may say it in not many words; “Whosoever shall confess;” not in word but in deed, not with tongue but with the life. For many confess in words, but in deeds deny. “And we have known and believed the love which God hath in us.”8 And again, by what hast thou come to know this? “Love is God.” He hath already said it above, behold he saith it again. Love could not be more exceedingly commended to thee than that it should be called God. Haply thou wast ready to despise a gift of God. And dost thou despise God? “Love is God: and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him.” Each mutually inhabiteth the other; He that holdeth, and he that is holden. Thou dwellest in God, but that thou mayest be holden: God inhabiteth thee, but that He may hold thee, lest thou fall. Lest haply thou imagine that thou becomest an house of God in such sort as thine house supports thy flesh: if the house in which thou art withdraw itself from under thee, thou fallest; but if thou withdraw thyself, God falleth not. When thou forsakest Him, He is none the less; when thou hast returned unto Him, He is none the greater.9 Thou art healed, on Him thou wilt bestow nothing; thou art made clean, thou art new-made, thou art set right: He is a medicine to the unhealthy, is a rule for the crooked, is light for the bedarkened, is an habitation for the deserted. All therefore is conferred on thee: see thou imagine not that ought is conferred upon God by thy coming unto Him: no, not so much as a slave. Shall God, forsooth, not have servants if thou like not, if all like not? God needs not the servants, but the servants need God: therefore saith the Psalm, “I have said unto the Lord, thou art my God.”10 He is the true Lord. And what saith it? “For of my goods Thou hast no need.” Thou needest the good thou hast by thy servant. Thy servant needeth the good he hath by thee, that thou mayest feed him; thou also needest the good thou hast by thy servant, that he may help thee. Thou canst not draw water for thyself, canst not cook for thyself, canst not run before thy horse, canst not tend thy beast. Thou seest that thou needest the good thou hast by thy servant, thou needest his attendance. Therefore thou art not a true lord, while thou hast need of an inferior. He is the true Lord, who seeks nothing from us; and woe to us if we seek not Him! He seeks nothing from us: yet He sought us, when we sought not Him. One sheep had strayed; He found it, He brought it back on His shoulders rejoicing.1 And was the sheep necessary for the Shepherd, and not rather the Shepherd necessary for the sheep?—The more I love to speak of charity, the less willing am I that this epistle should be finished. None is more ardent in the commending of charity. Nothing more sweet is preached to you, nothing more wholesome drunk by you: but only thus if by godly living ye confirm in you the gift of God. Be not ungrateful for His so great grace, who, though He had one Only Son, would not that He should be alone a Son; but, that He might have brethren, adopted unto Him those who should with Him possess life eternal.

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