Church Fathers: Nicene Fathers Vol 10: 110.01.42 Homily LXI-LXII

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Church Fathers: Nicene Fathers Vol 10: 110.01.42 Homily LXI-LXII



TOPIC: Nicene Fathers Vol 10 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 110.01.42 Homily LXI-LXII

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Homily LXI.

Matthew Chapter 18.

"Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times. but, Until seventy times seven."hyperlink

Peter supposed he was saying something great, wherefore also as aiming at greatness he added, "Until seven times?" For this thing, saith he, which Thou hast commanded to do, how often shall I do? For if he forever sins, but forever when reproved repents, how often dost thou command us to bear with this man? For with regard to that other who repents not, neither acknowledges his own faults, Thou hast set a limit, by saying, "Let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican;" but to this no longer so, but Thou hast commanded to accept him.

How often then ought I to bear with him, being told his faults, and repenting? Is it enough for seven times?

What then saith Christ, the good God, who is loving towards man? "I say not unto thee, until seven times, but, until seventy times seven," not setting a number here, but what is infinite and perpetual and forever. For even as ten thousand times signifies often, so here too. For by saying, "The barren hath borne seven,"hyperlink the Scripture means many. So that He hath not limited the forgiveness by a number, but hath declared that it is to be perpetual and forever.

This at least He indicated by the parable that is put after. For that He might not seem to any to enjoin great things and hard to bear, by saying, "Seventy times seven," He added this parable, at once both leading them on to what He had said, and putting down him who was priding himself upon this, and showing the act was not grievous, but rather very easy. Therefore let me add, He brought forward His own love to man, that by the comparison, as He saith, thou mightest learn, that though thou forgive seventy times seven, though thou continually pardon thy neighbor for absolutely all his sins, as a drop of water to an endless sea, so much, or rather much more, doth thy love to man come short in comparison of the boundless goodness of God, of which thou standest in need, for that thou art to be judged, and to give an account.

Wherefore also He went on to say, "The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.hyperlink And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay,hyperlink he commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and his children, and all that he had."hyperlink

Then after this man had enjoyed the benefit of mercy, he went out, and "took by the throat his fellow-servant, which owed him an hundred pence;"hyperlink and having by these doings l moved his lord, he caused him to cast him again into prison, until he should pay off the whole.

Seest thou how great the difference between sins against man and against God? As great as between ten thousand talents, and a hundred pence, or rather even much more. And this arises both from the difference of the persons, and the constant succession of our sins. For when a man looks at us, we stand off and shrink from sinning: but when God sees us every day, we do not forbear, but do and speak all things without fear.

But not hereby alone, but also from the benefit and from the honor of which we have partaken, our sins become more grievous.

And if ye are desirous to learn how our sins against Him are ten thousand talents. or rather even much more, I will try to show it briefly. But I fear test to them that are inclined to wickedness, and love continually to sin, I should furnish still greater security, or should drive the meeker sort to despair, and they should repeat that saying of the disciples, "who can be saved?"hyperlink

Nevertheless for all that I will speak, that I may make those that attend more safe, and more meek. For they that are incurably diseased, and past feeling, even without these words of mine, do not depart from their own carelessness, and wickedness; and if even from hence they derive greater occasion for contempt, the fault is not in what is said, but in their insensibility; since what is said surely is enough both to restrain those that attend to it, and to prick their hearts; and the meeker sort, when they see on the one hand the greatness of their sins, and learn also on the other hand the power of repentance, will cleave to it the more, wherefore it is needful to speak.

I will speak then, and will set forth our sins, both wherein we offend against God, and wherein against men, and I will set forth not each person's own, but what are common; but his own let each one join to them after that from his conscience.

And I will do this, having first set forth the good deeds of God to us. What then are His good deeds? He created us when we were not, and made all things for our sakes that are seen, Heaven, sea, air, all that in them is, living creatures, plants, seeds; for we must needs speak briefly for the boundless ocean of the works. Into us alone of all that are on earth He breathed a living soul such as we have, He planted a garden, He gave a help-meet, He set us over all the brutes, He crowned us with glory and honor.

After that, when man had been unthankful towards his benefactor, He vouchsafed unto him a greater gift.

2. For look not to this only, that He cast him out of paradise, but mark also the gain that arose from thence. For after having cast him out of paradise, and having wrought those countless good works, and having accomplished His various dispensations, He sent even His own Son for the sake of them that had been benefited by Him and were hating Him, and opened Heaven to us, and unfolded paradise itself, and made us sons, the enemies, the unthankful.

Wherefore it were even seasonable now to say, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"hyperlink And He gave us also a baptism of the remission of sins, and a deliverance from vengeance, and an inheritance of a kingdom, and He promised numberless good things on our doing what is right, and stretched forth His hand, and shed abroad His Spirit into our hearts.

What then? After so many and such great blessings, what ought to be our disposition; should we indeed, even if each day we died for Him who so loves us, make due recompense, or rather should we repay the smallest portion of the debt? By no means, for moreover even this again is turned to our advantage.

How then are we disposed, whose disposition ought to be like this? Each day we insult His law. But be ye not angry, if I let loose my tongue against them that sin, for not you only will I accuse, but myself also.

Where then would ye that I should begin? With the slaves, or with the free? with them that serve in the army, or with private persons? with the rulers, or with the subjects? with the women, or with the men? with the aged men, or with the young? with what age? with what race? with what rank? with what pursuit?

Would ye then that I should make the beginning with them that serve as soldiers? What sin then do not these commit every day, insulting, reviling, frantic, making a gain of other men's calamities, being like wolves, never clear from offenses, unless one might say the sea too was without waves. What passion doth not trouble them? what disease cloth not lay siege to their soul?

For to their equals they show a jealous disposition, and they envy, and seek after vainglory; and to those that are subject to them, their disposition is covetous; but to them that have suits, and run unto them as to a harbor, their conduct is that of enemies and perjured persons. How many robberies are there with them! How many frauds! How many false accusations, and meannesses! how many servile flatteries!

Come then, let us apply in each case the law of Christ. "He that saith to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.hyperlink He that hath looked on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her.hyperlink Unless one humble himself as the little child, he shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."hyperlink

But these even study haughtiness, becoming towards them that are subject to them, and are delivered into their hands, and who tremble at them, and are afraid of them, more fierce than a wild beast; for Christ's sake doing nothing, but all things for the belly, for money, for vainglory.

Can one indeed reckon up in words the trespass of their actions? What should one say of their decisions, their laughter, their unseasonable discourses, their filthy language? But about covetousness one cannot so much as speak. For like as the monks on the mountains know not even what covetousness is, so neither do these; but in an opposite way to them, For they indeed, because of being far removed from the disease, know not the passion, but these, by reason of being exceedingly intoxicated with it, have not so much as a perception how great the evil is. For this vice hath so thrust aside virtue and tyrannises, that it is not accounted so much as a heavy charge with those madmen.

But will ye, that we leave these, and go to others of a gentler kind? Come then, let us examine the race of workmen and artisans. For these above all seem to live by honest labors, and the sweat of their own brow. But these too, when they do not take heed to themselves, gather to themselves many evils from hence. For the dishonesty that arises from buying and selling they bring into the work of honest labor, and add oaths, and perjuries, and falsehoods to their covetousness often, and are taken up with worldly things only, and continue riveted to the earth; and while they do all things that they may get money, they do not take much heed that they may impart to the needy, being always desirous to increase their goods. What should one say of the revilings that are uttered touching such matters, the insults, the loans, the usurious gains, the bargains full of much mean trafficking, the shameless buyings and sellings.

3. But will ye that we leave these too, and go to others who seem to be more just? Who then are they? They that are possessed of lands, and reap the wealth that springs from the earth. And what can be more unjust than these? For if any one were to examine how they treat their wretched and toil-worn laborers, he will see them to be more cruel than savages. For upon them that are pining with hunger, and toiling throughout all their life, they both impose constant and intolerable payments, and lay on them laborious burdens, and like asses or mules, or rather like stones, do they treat their bodies, allowing them not so much as to draw breath a little, and when the earth yields, and when it doth not yield, they alike wear them out, and grant them no indulgence. And what can be more pitiable than this, when after having labored throughout the whole winter, and being consumed with frost and rain, and watchings, they go away with their hands empty, yea moreover in debt, and fearing and dreading more that this famine and shipwreck, the torments of the overlookers,hyperlink and their dragging them about, and their demands, and their imprisonments, and the services from which no entreaty can deliver them!

Why should one speak of the merchandise which they make of them, the sordid gains which they gain by them, by their labors and their sweat filling winepresses, and wine vats, but not suffering them to take home so much as a small measure, but draining off the entire fruits into the casks of their wickedness, and flinging to them for this a little money?

And new kinds of usuries also do they devise, and not lawful even according to the laws of the heathens, and they frame contracts for loans full of many a curse. For not the hundredth part of the sum, but the half of the sum they press for and exact; and this when he of whom it is exacted has a wife, is bringing up children, is a human being, and is filling their threshing floor, and their wine-press by his own toils.

But none of these things do they consider. Wherefore now it were seasonable to bring forward the prophet and say, "Be astonished, O Heaven, and be horribly afraid, O earth,"hyperlink to what great brutality hath the race of man been madly carried away!hyperlink

But these things I say, not blaming crafts, nor husbandry, nor military service,hyperlink but ourselves. Since Cornelius also was a centurion, and Paul a worker in leather, and after his preaching practised his craft, and David was a king, and Job enjoyed the possession of land and of large revenues, and there was no hindrance hereby to any of these in the way of virtue.

Bearing in mind all these things, and considering the ten thousand talents, let us at least hence hasten to remit to our neighbors their few and trifling debts. For we too have an account to give of the commandments wherewith we have been trusted, and we are not able to pay all, no not whatever we may do. Therefore God hath given us a way to repayment both ready and easy, and which is able to cancel all these things, I mean, not to be revengeful.

In order then that we may learn this well, let us hear the whole parable, going on regularly through it. "For there was brought unto Him," it saith, "one which owed ten thousand talents, and when he had not to pay, He commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and his children." Wherefore, I pray thee? Not of cruelty, nor of inhumanity (for the loss came back again upon himself, for she too was a slave), but of unspeakable tenderness.

For it is His purpose to alarm him by this threat, that He might bring him to supplication, not that he should be sold. For if He had done it for this intent, He would not have consented to his request, neither would He have granted the favor.

Wherefore then did He not do this, nor forgive the debt before the account? Desiring to teach him, from how many obligations He is delivering him, that in this way at least he might become more mild towards his fellow servant. For even if when he had learnt the weight of his debt, and the greatness of the forgiveness, he continued taking his fellow-servant by the throat; if He had not disciplined him beforehand with such medicines, to what length of cruelty might he not have gone?

What then saith the other? "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And his Lord s was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt."hyperlink

Seest thou again surpassing benevolence? The servant asked only for delay and putting off the time, but He gave more than he asked, remission and forgiveness of the entire debt. For it had been his will to give it even from the first, but he did not desire the gift to be his only, but also to come of this man's entreaty, that he might not go away uncrowned. For that the whole was of him, although this other fell down to him and prayed, the motive of the forgiveness showed, for "moved with compassion" he forgave him. But still even so he willed that other also to seem to contribute something, that he might not be exceedingly covered with shame, and that he being schooled in his own calamities, might be indulgent to his fellow-servant.

4. Up to this point then this man was good and acceptable; for he confessed, and promised to pay the debt, and fell down before him, and entreated, and condemned his own sins, and knew the greatness of the debt. But the sequel is unworthy of his former deeds. For going out straightway, not after a long time but straightway, having the benefit freshhyperlink upon him, he abused to wickedness the gift, even the freedom bestowed on him by his master.

For, "he found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what thou owest."hyperlink

Seest thou the master's benevolence? Seest thou the servant's cruelty? Hear, ye who do these things for money. For if for sins we must not do so, much more not for money.

What then saith the other? "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all."hyperlink But he did not regard even the words by which he had been saved (for he himself on saying this was delivered from the ten thousand talents), and did not recognize so much as the harbor by which he escaped shipwreck; the gesture of supplication did not remind him of his master's kindness, but he put away from him all these things, from covetousness and cruelty and revenge, and was more fierce than any wild beast, seizing his fellow-servant by the throat.

What doest thou, O man? perceivest thou not, thou art making the demand upon thyself, thou an thrusting the sword into thyself, and revoking the sentence and the gift? But none of these things did he consider, neither did he remember his own state, neither did he yield; although the entreaty was not for equal objects.

For the one besought for ten thousand talents, the other for a hundred pence; the one his fellow-servant, the other his lord; the one received entire forgiveness, the other asked for delay, and not so much as this did he give him, for "he cast him into prison."

"But when his fellow-servants saw it, they accused him to their lord." Not even to men is this well-pleasing, much less to God. They therefore who did not owe, partook of the grief.

What then saith their lord? "O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredsthyperlink me; shouldest not thou also have had compassion, even as I had pity on thee?"hyperlink

See again the lord's gentleness. He pleads with him, and excuses himself, being on the point of revoking his gift; or rather, it was not he that revoked it, but the one who had received it. Wherefore He saith, "I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me; shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant?" For even if the thing cloth seem to thee hard; yet shouldest thou have looked to the gain, which hath been, which is to be. Even if the injunction be galling, thou oughtest to consider the reward; neither that he hath grieved thee, but that thou hast provoked God, whom by mere prayer thou hast reconciled. But if even so it be a galling thing to thee to become friends with him who hath grieved thee, to fall into hell is far more grievous; and if thou hadst set this against that, then thou wouldest have known that to forgive is a much lighter thing.

And whereas, when he owed ten thousand talents, he called him not wicked, neither reproached him, but showed mercy on him; when he had become harsh to his fellow-servant, then he saith, "O thou wicked servant."

Let us hearken, the covetous, for even to us is the word spoken. Let us hearken also, the merciless, and the cruel, for not to others are we cruel, but to ourselves. When then thou art minded to be revengeful, consider that against thyself art thou revengeful, not against another; that thou art binding up thine own sins, not thy neighbors. For as to thee, whatsoever thou mayest do to this man, thou doest as a man and in the present life, but God not so, but more mightily will He take vengeance on thee, and with the vengeance hereafter.

"For He delivered him over till he should pay that which was due," that is, for ever; for he will never repay. For since thou art not become better by the kindness shown thee, it remains that by vengeance thou be corrected.

And yet, "The graces and the gifts are without repentance,"hyperlink but wickedness has had such power as to set aside even this law. What then can be a more grievous thing than to be revengeful, when it appears to overthrow such and so great a gift of God.

And he did not merely "deliver" him, but "was wroth." For when he commanded him to be sold, his were not the words of wrath (therefore neither did he do it), but a very great occasion for benevolence; but now the sentence is of much indignation, and vengeance, and punishment.

What then means the parable? "So likewise shall my Father do also unto you," He saith, "if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."hyperlink

He saith not "your Father," but "my Father." For it is not meet for God to be called the Father of such a one, who is so wicked and malicious.

5. Two things therefore doth He here require, both to condemn ourselves for our sins, and to forgive others; and the former for the sake of the latter, that this may become more easy (for he who considers his own sins is more indulgent to his fellow-servant); and not merely to forgive with the lips, but from the heart.

Let us not then thrust the sword into ourselves by being revengeful. For what grief hath he who hath grieved thee inflicted upon thee, like thou wilt work unto thyself by keeping thine anger in mind, and drawing upon thyself the sentence from God to condemn thee? For if indeed thou art watchful, and keepest thyself under control, the evil will come round upon his head, and it will be he that will suffer harm; but if thou shouldest continue indignant, and displeased, then thyself wilt undergo the harm not from him, but from thyself.

Say not then that he insulted thee, and slandered thee, and did unto thee ills beyond number; for the more thou tellest, so much the more dost thou. declare him a benefactor. For he hath given thee an opportunity to wash away thy sins; so that the greater the injuries he hath done thee, so much more is he become to thee a cause of a greater remission of sins.

For if we be willing, no one shall be able to injure us, but even our enemies shall advantage us in the greatest degree. And why do I speak of men? For what can be more wicked than the devil; yet nevertheless, even hence have we a great opportunity of approving ourselves; and Job showeth it. But if the devil hath become a cause of crowns, why art thou afraid of a man as an enemy?

See then how much thou gainest, bearing meekly the spiteful acts of thine enemies. First and greatest, deliverance from sins; secondly, fortitude and patience; thirdly, mildness and benevolence; for he that knoweth not how to be angry with them that grieve him, much more will he be ready to serve them that love him. Fourthly, to be free from anger continually, to which nothing can be equal. For of him that is free from anger, it is quite clear that he is delivered also from the despondency hence arising, and will not spend his life on vain labors and sorrows. For he that knows not how to hate, neither cloth he know how to grieve, but will enjoy pleasure, and ten thousand blessings. So that we punish ourselves by hating others, even as on the other hand we benefit ourselves by loving them.

Besides all these things, thou wilt be an object of veneration even to thy very enemies, though they be devils; or rather, thou wilt not so much as have an enemy whilst thou art of such a disposition.

But what is greater than all, and first, thou gainest the favor of God. Shouldest thou have sinned, thou wilt obtain pardon; shouldest thou have done what is right, thou wilt obtain a greater confidence. Let us accomplish therefore the hating no one, that God also may love us, that, though we be in debt for ten thousand talents, He may have compassion and pity us.

But hast thou been injured by him? Pity him then, do not hate him; weep and mourn, do not turn away from him. For thou art not the one that hath offended against God, but he; but thou hast even approved thyself, if thou endure it. Consider that Christ, when about to be crucified, rejoiced for Himself, but wept for them that were crucifying Him. This ought to be our disposition also; and the more we are injured, so much the more should we lament for them that are injuring us. For to us many are the benefits hence arising, but to them the opposites.

But did he insult thee, and strike thee before all? Then bath he disgraced and dishonored himself before all, and hath opened the mouths of a thousand accusers, and for thee hath he woven more crowns, and gathered for thee many to publish thy forbearance.

But did he slander thee to others? And what is this? God is the one that is to demand the account, not they that have heard this. For to himself hath he added occasion of punishment, so that not only for his own sins he should give account, but also of what he said of thee. And upon thee hath he brought evil report with men, but he himself hath incurred evil report with God.

And if these things are not sufficient for thee, consider that even thy Lordhyperlink was evil reported of both by Satan and by men, and that to those most loved by Him; and His Only-Begotten the same again. Wherefore He said, "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, much more shall they call them of His household."hyperlink

And that wicked demon did not only slander Him, but was also believed, and slandered Him not in ordinary matters, but with the greatest reproaches and accusations. For he affirmed Him to be possessed, and to be a deceiver, and an adversary of God.

But hast thou also done good, and received evil? Nay, in respect of this most of all lament and grieve for him that hath done the wrong, but for thyself rather rejoice, because thou art become like God, "Who maketh the sun to rise upon evil and good."hyperlink

But if to follow God is beyond thee, although to him that watcheth not even this is hard; yet nevertheless if this seem to thee to be too great for thee, come let us bring thee to thy fellow-servants, to Joseph, who suffered countless things, and did good unto his brethren; to Moses, who after their countless plots against him, prayed for them; to the blessed Paul, who cannot so much as number what he suffered from them, and is willing to be accursed for them; to Stephen, who is stoned, and entreating this sin may be forgiven them. And having considered all these things, cast away all anger, that God may forgive us also all our trespasses by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, might, honor, now and always, and world without end. Amen.



Footnotes



1 [R. V. margin, "seventy times and seven." There is no difference of reading, but one of interpretation. Comp. Augustin, vol. vi., p.107, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers. Chrysostom does not indicate which view he accepts.-R]

2 1 Sam. ii. 5.

3 [R. V., "make a reckoning."]

4 [R. V., "wherewith to pay."]

5 Matt. xviii. 23-25. [The textual variations are slight.-R.]

6 Matt. xviii. 28.

7 Matt. xix. 25. [Comp. Mark x. 26.]

8 Rom. xi. 33.

9 Matt. v.22.

10 Matt. v. 28.

11 Matt. xviii. 3. [Slightly altered.]

12 [e0pitro/pwn, "stewards," answering here to "overseers," in the worst sense.-R.]

13 Jer. ii. 12.

14 e0cbakxeu/qh.

15 [ou0de\ a0grou/j occurs here in the Greek, but is ignored by the translator; probably because the thoughts was implied in "husbandry" (gewrgi/an).-R.]

16 ["The lord of that servant," according to our authorities; The Homily varies.-R.]

17 Matt. xviii. 26, 27.

18 e!naulon.

19 Matt. xviii. 28.

20 Matt. xviii. 29. [R. V. omits "all" in this verse, with the best authorities. Probably taken from verse 26.-R.]

21 [R. V., "besoughtest."]

22 Matt. xviii. 32. [R. V., "have had mercy on thy fellow servant, even as I had mercy on thee." The verb is the same in both clauses. "On thy fellow servant," omitted here, is inserted in the comment.-R.]

23 Rom. xi. 29. [Freely cited.]

24 Matt. xviii. 35. [The best New Testament authorities omit "their trespasses," which was readily introduced from similar passages.-R.]

25 Despo/thj.

26 Matt. x. 25.



Homily LXII.

Matthew Chapter 19, Verse 1

"And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, He departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Jud'a beyond Jordan."

Having constantly left Jud'a on account of the envy of those men, now He frequents it from this time forth, because the passion was to be nigh at hand; He goeth not up, however, unto Jerusalem for a while, but "into the coasts of Jud'a."

"And," when He was come, "great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them."hyperlink

For neither in the teaching by words doth He continue always, nor in the wonderful working of signs, but He doeth now one now the other, variously working the salvation of them that were waiting upon Him and following Him, so as by the miracles to appear, in what He said, a Teacher worthy of belief, and by the teaching of His word to increase the profit from the miracles; and this was to lead them by the hand to the knowledge of God.

But do thou mark, I pray thee, this too, how the disciples pass over whole multitudes with one word, not declaring by name each of them that are healed. For they said not, that such a one, and such another, but that many, teaching us to be unostentatious. But Christ healed, benefiting both them, and by them many others. For the healing of these men's infirmity was to others a foundation for the knowledge of God.

But not so to the Pharisees, but even for this self-same thing they become more fierce, and come unto Him tempting Him. For because they could not lay hold of the works that were doing, they propose to Him questions. For they "came unto Him, and tempting Him said, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?"hyperlink

O folly! They thought to silence Him by their questions, although they had already received certain proof of this power in Him. When at least they argued much about the Sabbath, when they said, "He blasphemeth," when they said, "He hath a devil," when they found fault with His disciples as they were walking in the corn fields, when they argued about unwashen hands, on every occasion having sewed fast their mouths, and shut up their shameless tongue, He thus sent them away. Nevertheless, not even so do they keep off from Him. For such is wickedness, such is envy, shameless and bold; though it be put to silence ten thousand times, ten thousand times doth it assault again.

But mark thou, I pray thee, their craft also from the form of their question. For neither did they say unto Him, Thou didst command not to put away a wife, for indeed He had already discoursed about this law; but nevertheless they made no mention of those words; but took occasion from hence, and thinking to make their snare the greater, and being minded to drive Him to a necessity of contradicting the law, they say not, why didst Thou enact this or that? but as though nothing had been said, they ask, "Is it lawful expecting that He had forgotten having said it; and being ready if on the one hand He said, "It is lawful to put away," to bring against Him the things He Himself had spoken, and to say, How then didst Thou affirm the contrary? but if the same things now again as before, to bring against Him the words of Moses.

What then said He? He said not," tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?" although afterwards He saith this, but here He speaks not thus. Why can this be? In order that together with His power He might show forth His gentleness also. For He doth neither always keep silence, lest they should suppose they are hidden; nor doth He always reprove, in order that He may instruct us to bear all things with gentleness.

How then cloth He answer them? "Have ye not read, that He which made them athyperlink the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall behyperlink one flesh? So that they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."hyperlink

See a teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him.

But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many Women.

But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her.

And see how He saith, "He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female," that is, from one root they sprung. and into one body came they together, "for the twain shall be one flesh."

After this, to make it a fearful thing to find fault with this lawgiving, and to confirm the law, He said not, "Sever not therefore, nor put asunder," but, "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

But if thou put forward Moses, I tell thee of Moses' Lord, and together with this, I rely upon the time also. For God at the beginning made them male and female; and this law is older (though it seem to have been now introduced by me), and with much earnestness established. For not merely did He bring the woman to the man, but also commanded to leave father and mother. And neither did He make it a law for him merely to come to the woman, but also "to cleave to her," by the form of the language intimating that they might not be severed. And not even with this was He satisfied, but sought also for another greater union, "for the twain," He saith, "shall be one flesh."

Then after He had recited the ancient law, which was brought in both by deeds and by words, and shown it to be worthy of respect because of the giver, with authority after that He Himself too interprets and gives the law, saying, "So that they are no more twain, but one flesh." Like then as to sever flesh is a horrible thing,hyperlink so also to divorce a wife is unlawful. And He stayed not at this, but brought in God also by saying, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," showing that the act was both against nature, and against law; against nature, because one flesh is dissevered; against law, because that when God hath joined and commanded it not to be divided, ye conspire to do this.

2. What then ought they to have done after this? Ought they not to have held their peace, and to have commended the saying? ought they not to have marvelled at His wisdom? ought they not to have stood amazed at His accordance with the Father? But none of these things do they, but as though they were contending for the law, they say, "How then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?"hyperlink And yet they ought not now to have brought this forward, but rather He to them; but nevertheless He doth not take advantage of them, nor doth He say to them, "I am not now bound by this," but He solves this too.

And indeed if He had been an alien from the old covenant, He would not have striven for Moses, neither would He haste argued positively from the things done once for all at the beginning; He would not have studied to show that His own precepts agreed with those of old.

And indeed Moses had given many other commandments besides, both those about meats, and those about the Sabbath; wherefore then do they nowhere bring him forward, as here? From a wish to enlist the multitude of the husbands against him. For this was considered a thing indifferent with the Jews, and all used to do so much as this. Accordingly it was for this reason that when so many things had been said on the mount, they remembered this commandment only now.

Nevertheless, unspeakable wisdom maketh a defense even for these things, and saith. "Moses for the hardness of your hearts" thus made the law. And not even him doth He suffer to remain under accusation, forasmuch as He had Himself given him the law; but delivers him from the charge, and turns the whole upon their head, as everywhere He doth.

For again when they were blaming His disciples for plucking the ears of corn, He shows themselves to be guilty; and when they were laying a trangression to their charge as to their not washing their hands, He shows themselves to be the transgressors, and touching the Sabbath also: both everywhere, and here in like manner.

Then because the saying was hard to bear, and brought on them much blame, He quickly directs back His discourse to that ancient law, saying as He had said before also, "But in the beginning it was not so," that is, God by His acts at the beginning ordained the contrary. For in order that they may not say, Whence is it manifest, that "for our hardness Moses said this?" hereby again He stoppeth their mouths. For if this were the primary law, and for our good, that other would not have been given at the beginning; God in creating would not have so created, He would not have said such things.

"But I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication, and marry another, committeth adultery."hyperlink For since he had stopped their mouths, He then gives the law with His own authority, like as touching the meats, like as touching the Sabbath.

For with regard to the meats likewise, when He had overcome them, then, and not till then, He declared unto the multitude, that, "Not that which goeth in defileth the man; "hyperlink and with regard to the Sabbath, when He had stopped their mouths, He saith, "Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath day;"hyperlink and here this self-same thing.

But what took place there, this happened here also. For as there, when the Jews had been put to silence the disciples were troubled, and came unto Him with Peter and said, "Declare unto us this parable;"hyperlink even so now also they were troubled and said, "If the case of the man be so, it is good not to marry."hyperlink

For now they understood the saying more than before. Therefore then indeed they held their peace, but now when there hath been gainsaying, and answering, and question, and learning by reply, and the law appeared more clear, they ask Him. And openly to contradict they do not dare, but they bring forward what seemed to be a grievous and galling result of it, saying, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." For indeed it seemed to be a very hard thing to have a wife full of every bad quality, and to endure a wild beast perpetually shut up with one in the house. And that thou mayest learn that this greatly troubled them, Mark said,hyperlink to show it, that they spake to Him privately.

3. But what is, "If such be the case of a man with his wife?" That is, if to this end he is joined with her, that they should be one, or, on the other hand, if the man shall get to himself blame for these things, and always transgresses by putting away, it were easier to fight against natural desire and against one's self, than against a wicked woman.

What then saith Christ? He said not, "yea, it is easier, and so do," lest they should suppose that the thing is a law; but He subjoined, "Not all men receive it, but they to whom it is given,"hyperlink raising the thing, and showing that it is great, and in this way drawing them on, and urging them.

But see herein a contradiction. For He indeed saith this is a great thing; but they, that it is easier. For it was meet that both these things should be done, and that it should be at once acknowledged a great thing by Him, that it might render them more forward, and by the things said by themselves it should be shown to be easier, that on this ground too they might the rather choose virginity and continence. For since to speak of virginity seemed to be grievous, by the constraint of this law He drove them to this desire. Then to show the possibility of it, He saith, "There are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother's womb, there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men, and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven's sake,"hyperlink by these words secretly leading them to choose the thing, and establishing the possibility of this virtue, and all but saying, Consider if thou weft in such case by nature, or hadst endured this selfsame thing at the hands of those who inflict such wanton injuries, what wouldest thou have done, being deprived indeed of the enjoyment, yet not having a reward? Thank God therefore now, for that with rewards and crowns thou undergoest this, which those men endure without crowns; or rather not ever this, but what is much lighter, being supported both by hope, and by the consciousness of the good work, and not having the desire so raging like waves within thee.

For the excision of a member is not able to quell such waves, and to make a calm, like the curb of reason; or rather, reason only can do this.

For this intent therefore He brought in those others, even that He might encourage these, since if this was not what He was establishing, what means His saying concerning the other eunuchs? But when He saith, that they made themselves eunuchs, He means not the excision of the members, far from it, but the putting away of wicked thoughts. Since the man who hath mutilated himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul saith, "I would they were even cut offhyperlink which trouble you."hyperlink And very reasonably. For such a one is venturing on the deeds of murderers. and giving occasion to them that slander God's creation. and opens the mouths of the Manich'ans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves amongst the Greeks. For to cut off our members hath been from the beginning a work of demoniacal agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the work of God, treat they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security. as being irresponsible; and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members, and by impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds.

These are the ordinances of the devil, bringing in, besides the things which we have mentioned, another wicked doctrine also, and making way beforehand for the arguments concerning destiny and necessity even from hence, and everywhere marring the freedom given to us of God. and persuading us that evil deeds are of nature, and hence secretly implanting many other wicked doctrines, although not openly. For such are the devil's poisons.

Therefore I beseech you to flee from such lawlessness. For together with the things I have mentioned. neither doth the force of lust become milder hereby, but even more fierce. For from another origin hath the seed that is in us its sources, and from another cause do its waves swell. And some say from the brain, some from the loins, this violent impulse hath its birth; but I should say from nothing else than from an ungoverned will and a neglected mind: if this be temperate, there is no evil result from the motions of nature.

Having spoken then of the eunuchs that are eunuchs for nought and fruitlessly, unless with the mind they too practise temperance, and of those that are virgins for Heaven's sake, He proceeds again to say, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it," at once making them more earnest by showing that the good work is exceeding in greatness, and not suffering the thing to be shut up in the compulsion of a law, because of His unspeakable gentleness. And this He said, when He showed it to be most possible, in order that the emulation of the free choice might be greater.

And if it is of free choice, one may say, how doth He say, at the beginning, "All men do not receive it, but they to whom it is given?" That thou mightest learn that the conflict is great, not that thou shouldest suspect any compulsory allotments. For it is given to those, even to the willing.

But He spake thus to show that much influence from above is needed by him who entereth these lists, whereof He that is willing shall surely partake. For it is customary for Him to use this form of speech when the good work done is great, as when He saith, "To you it is given to know the mysteries."

And that this is true, is manifest even from the present instance. For if it be of the gift from above only, and they that live as virgins contribute nothing themselves, for nought did He promise them the kingdom of Heaven, and distinguish them from the other eunuchs.

But mark thou, I pray, how from some men's wicked doings, other men gain. I mean, that the Jews went away having learnt nothing, for neither did they ask with the intent of learning, but the disciples gained even from hence.

4. "Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But He said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. And He laid His hands on them, and departed thence."hyperlink

And wherefore did the disciples repel the little children? For dignity. What then doth He? Teaching them to be lowly, and to trample under foot worldly pride, He doth receive them, and takes them in His arms, and to such as them promises the kingdom; which kind of thing He said before also.hyperlink

Let us also then, if we would be inheritors of the Heavens, possess ourselves of this virtue with much diligence. For this is the limit of true wisdom; to be simple with understanding; this is angelic life; yes, for the soul of a little child is pure from all the passions. Towards them who have vexed him he bears no resentment, but goes to them as to friends, as if nothing had been done; and how much soever he be beaten by his mother; after her he seeks, and her doth he prefer to all. Though thou show him the queen with a diadem, he prefers her not to his mother clad in rags, but would choose rather to see her in these, than the queen in splendor. For he useth to distinguish what pertains to him and what is strange to him, not by its poverty and wealth, but by friendship. And nothing more than necessary things doth he seek, but just to be satisfied from the breast, and then he leaves sucking. The young child is not grieved at what we are grieved, as at loss of money and such things as that, and he doth not rejoice again at what we rejoice, namely, at these temporal things, he is not eager about the beauty of persons.

Therefore He said, "of such is the kingdom of Heaven," that by choice we should practise these things, which young children have by nature. For since the Pharisees from nothing rise so much as out of craft and pride did what they did, therefore on every hand He charges the disciples to be single hearted, both darkly hinting at those men, and instructing these. For nothing so much lifts up unto haughtiness, as power and precedence. Forasmuch then as the disciples were to enjoy great honors throughout the whole world, He preoccupies their mind, not suffering them to feel anything after the manner of men, neither to demand honors from the multitude, nor to have men dear the wayhyperlink before them.

For though these seem to be little things, yet are they a cause of great evils. The Pharisees at least being thus trained were carried on into the very summit of evil, seeking after the salutations, the first seats, the middle places,hyperlink for from these they were cast upon the shoal of their mad desire of glory, then from thence upon impiety. So therefore those men went away having drawn upon themselves a curse by their tempting, but he little children a blessing, as being freed from all these.

Let us then also be like the little children, and "in malice be we babes."hyperlink For it cannot be, it cannot be for one otherwise to see Heaven, but the crafty and wicked must needs surely be cast into hell.

5. And before hell too, we shall here suffer the utmost ills. "For if thou be evil," it is said, "thou alone shalt endure the evil; but if good, it is for thyself and for thy neighbor."hyperlink Mark, at any rate, how this took place in the former instances also. For neither was anything more wicked than Saul, nor more simple and single-hearted than David. Which therefore was the stronger? Did not David get him twice into his hands, and having the power to slay him, forebore? Had he not him shut up as in a net and prison, and spared him? And this when both others were urging him, and when he himself was able to accuse him of countless charges; but nevertheless he suffered him to go away safe. And yet the other was pursuing him with all his army, but he was, with a few desperate fugitives, wandering and changing from place to place; nevertheless the fugitive had the advantage of the king, forasmuch as the one came to the conflict with simplicity, the other with wickedness.

For what could be more wicked than that man, who when he was leading his armies, and bringing all his wars to a successful issue, and undergoing the labors of the victory and the trophies, but bringing the crowns to him, assayed to slay him?

6. Such is the nature of envy, it is ever plotting against its own honors, and wasting him that hath it, and encompassing him with countless calamities. And that miserable man, for instance, until David departed, burst not forth into that piteous cry, bewailing himself and saying, "I am sore distressed, and the Philistines make war against me, and the Lord is departed from me."hyperlink not in war, but was both in safety and in glory; for indeed unto the king passed the glory of the captain. For neither was the man disposed to usurpation, nor did he assay to depose the other from his throne, but for him did he achieve all things, and was earnestly attached to him, and this is evident even from what followed afterwards. For when indeed he was set under him, any one of them who do not search carefully might perhaps suppose these things to be by the usual custom of a subject; but after he had withdrawn himself out of Saul's kingdom, what then was there to restrain him, and to him even to slay? Had not the other beet evil towards him once, twice, and often? Was it not after having received benefits from him Was it not having nothing whereof to accuse him? Was not Saul's kingdom and safety danger and insecurity to himself? must he not needs wander and be a fugitive, and be in trembling for fear of the utmost ills, while the other is alive, and reigning? Nevertheless none of these things constrained him to stain his sword with blood, but when he saw him asleep, and bound, and alone, and in the midst of his own men, and had touched his head, and when there were many rousing him those who were urging him on, and refrained from the murder, and sent him away both safe and well; and as though he had been rather a body guard of his, and a shield-bearer, not an enemy, so did he chide the host for their treachery towards the king.hyperlink

What could be equal to this soul? What to that mildness? For this it is possible to see even by the things that have been mentioned but much more by what are done now. For when we have considered our vileness, then we shall know more perfectly the virtue of those saints. Wherefore I entreat you to hasten towards the emulation of them.

For indeed if thou lovest glory, and for this cause art plotting against thy neighbor, then shalt thou enjoy it more largely, when having spurned it, thou wilt abstain from the plotting. For like as to become richhyperlink is contrary to covetousness, so is the loving of glory to the obtaining of glory. And if ye be minded, let us inquire into each. For since we have no fear of hell, nor much regard for the kingdom, come and even from the things present let us lead you on.

For who are they that are ridiculous? Tell me. Is it not they that are doing anything for the sake of glory from the multitude? And who are the objects of praise? Is it not they who spurn the praise of the multitude? Therefore if the love of vainglory be matter of reproach, and it cannot be concealed that the vainglorious man loves it, he will assuredly be an object of reproach, and the love of glory is become to him a cause of dishonor. And not in this respect only doth he disgrace himself, but also in that he is compelled to do many things shameful, and teeming with the utmost disgrace. And like as with respect to their gains men are wont to suffer harm more than anything from the disease of covetousness (they become at least the subjects of many tricks, and of small gains make great losses, wherefore this saying hath prevailed even to be a proverb); and as to the voluptuous man likewise, his passion becomes a hindrance to the enjoyment of his pleasure. These at least that are exceedingly given up thereto, and are the slaves of women these above all do women carry about as servants, and will never vouchsafe to treat them as men, buffeting, spurning them, leading, and taking them about everywhere, and giving themselves airs, and in everything merely giving them orders.

Even so also than him that is arrogant and mad about glory, and accounts himself to be high, nothing is more base and dishonored. For the race of man is fond of contention, and against nothing else doth it set itself so much, as against a boaster, and a contemptuous man, and a slave of glory.

And he himself too, in order to maintain the fashion of his pride, exhibits the conduct of a slave to the common sort, flattering, courting them, serving a servitude more grievous than that of one bought for money.

Knowing then all these things, let us lay down these passions, that we may not both pay a penalty here, and there be punished without end. Let us become lovers of virtue. For so both before reaching the kingdom we shall reap the greatest benefits here, and when we are departed thither we shall partake of the eternal blessings; unto which God grant we may all attain by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.



Footnotes



1 Matt. xix. 2.

2 Matt. xix. 3.

3 [R. V. "from."]

4 [R. V., "become."]

5 Matt. xix. 4-6.

6 e/nage\j.

7 Matt. xix. 7. ["How" is substituted for "why."]

8 [The citation agrees with the briefer reading, accepted by Tischendorf; comp. R. V. margin.-R.]

9 Matt. xv. 11.

10 Matt. xii. 12.

11 Matt. xv. 15.

12 Matt. xix. 10. [Compare the more exact citation which follows. -R.]

13 Mark x. 10.

14 Matt. xix. 11.

15 Matt. xix. 12.

16 a0poko/yontai, which may mean this. [R. V. margin, "mutilate themselves."]

17 Gal. v. 12. [Whatever be the meaning of the verb in Galatians, there can be no question that the use here made of the passage is forced.-R.]

18 Matt. xix. 13-15.

19 Matt. xviii. 3, 4.

20 sobei=n.

21 mesasmou/j.

22 1 Cor. xiv. 20.

23 Prov. ix. 12, LXX.

24 1 Sam. xxviii. 15.

25 1 Sam. xxvi. 16.

26 Mss. "not to make money," and presently, "not to love glory;" but Savile's reading is rightly adopted by Mr. Field, with the Latin Translator.