"Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive greater damnation."
After this, next He derides them for gluttony: and the grievous thing was, that not from rich men's goods, but from the poor they indulged their own belly, and aggravated their poverty, which they should have relieved. For neither did they merely eat, but devoured.
Moreover also the manner of their overreaching was yet more grievous, "for a pretense making long prayers."
For every one is worthy of vengeance who doeth any evil thing; but he that is deriving even the reason for so doing from godliness, and is using this cloke for his wickedness, is justly liable to a far more grievous punishment. And wherefore did He not depose them? Because the time suffered it not as yet. So therefore He lets them alone for a time, but by His sayings, He secures that the people be not deceived, lest, through the dignity of those men, they be drawn on to the same emulation.
For as He had said, "Whatsoever they bid you do, that do;" He shows how many things they do amiss, lest from thence He should be supposed amongst the unwise to commit all to them.
"Woe unto you, for ye shut up the kingdom against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."hyperlink But if to profit no one be a charge against a man, even to hurt and hinder, what plea hath that? But what means, "them that are entering in?" Them that are fit for it. For when they were to lay injunctions on others, they used to make the burdens intolerable, but when they themselves were to do any of the things required, on the contrary, so far from doing anything, they went much beyond this in wickedness, they even used to corrupt others. These are they that are called pests,hyperlink who make their employment the ruin of others, standing right contrary to teachers. For if it be the part of a teacher to save that which is perishing, to destroy that which is on the point of being saved is that of a destroyer.
After this, again another charge: compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves;"hyperlink that is, not even the fact that hardly ye have taken him, and with endless toils, induces you to be sparing towards him, although of the things we have hardly acquired, we are more sparing, but you not even this renders more gentle.
Here He lays to their charge two things; one, that they are unprofitable for the salvation of the many, and need much toil in order to win over even one; another, that they were remiss in the preservation of him whom they had gained, or rather that they were not only careless, but even traitors, by their wickedness in their life corrupting him, and making him worse. For when the disciple sees his teachers to be such as these, he becomes worse than they. For he stops not at his teacher's wickedness; but as when his teacher is virtuous, he imitates him, so when he is bad, he even goes beyond him, by reason of our proneness to what is evil.
And He calls him "a child of hell," that is, a very hell. And He said "twofold more than you," that He might both alarm those, and make these feel the more severely, because they are teachers of wickedness. And not this only, but because they labor to instill into their disciples a greater wickedness, hardening them to a much greater depravity than they have, and this is above all a mark of a depraved soul.
Then He derides them for folly also, because they bade them disregard the greater commandments. And yet before He had said the opposite, that "they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne." But these things too they did again and were doing everything for the corruption of those who were subject to them, in little things requiring strictness, and despising the great.
"For ye pay tithe," He saith, "of mint and anise, and have omittedhyperlink the weightier matters of the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith. These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone."hyperlink
Here then He naturally saith it, where it is tithe and almsgiving, for what doth it hurt to give alms? But not to keep the law; for neither doth it say thus. Therefore here indeed He saith, "These ought ye to have done;" but where He is speaking about clean and unclean, He no longer adds this, but makes a distinction, and shows that the inward purity is necessarily followed by the outward, but the converse is no longer so.
For where there is a plea of love to man, He passes it over lightly, for this very reason, and because it was not yet time expressly and plainly to revoke the things of the law. But where it is an observance of bodily purification, He overthrows it more plainly.
So, therefore, while with respect to alms He saith, "These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone," touching purifications He speaks not on this wise, but what? "Ye make clean," He saith, "the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they are full of extortion, and injustice. Cleanse that which is within the cup, that the outside may be clean also."hyperlink And He took it from a thing confessed and manifest, from a cup and platter.
2. Then, to show that there is no harm arising from despising bodily cleansings, but very great vengeance from not regarding the purifications of the soul, which is virtue, He called these "a gnat," for they are small and nothing, but those other a camel, for they were beyond what men could bear. Wherefore also He saith, "Straining at the gnat, and swallowing the camel."hyperlink For indeed the one were enacted for the sake of the other, I mean of mercy and judgment; so that not even then did they profit being done alone. For whereas the little things were mentioned for the sake of the great, and after that these last were neglected, and labor was spent on those alone, nothing was gained even then by this. For the greater followed not the lesser, but the lesser were sure to follow these greater.
But these things He saith to show, that even before grace was come, these were not among the principal things, or amongst those upon which men should spend their labor, but the matters required were different. But if before the grace they were so, much more when high commandments had come, were these things unprofitable, and it was not meet to practise them at all.
In every case then is vice a grievous thing, but especially when it does not so much as think it needs amendment; and it is yet more grievous, when it thinks itself sufficient even to amend others; to express which Christ calls them "blind guides." For if for a blind man not to think he needs a guide be extreme misery and wretchedness; when he wishes himself to guide others, see to what a gulf it leads.
But these things He said, by all intimating their mad desire of glory, and their exceeding frenzy concerning this pest. For this became a cause to them of all their evils, namely, that they did all things for display. This both led them away from the faith, and caused them to neglect what really is virtue, and induced them to busy themselves about bodily purifyings only, neglecting the purifications of the soul. So therefore to lead them into what really is virtue, and to the purifyings of the soul, He makes mention of mercy, and judgment, and faith. For these are the things that comprise our life, these are what purify the soul, justice, love to man, truth; the one inclining us to pardonhyperlink and not suffering us to be excessively severe and unforgiving to them that sin (for then shall we gain doubly, both becoming kind to man, and hence meeting also ourselves with much kindness from the God of all), and causing us both to sympathize with them that are despitefully entreated, and to assist them; the other not suffering them to be deceitful, and crafty.
But neither when He saith, "These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone," doth He say it as introducing a legal observance; away with the thought;hyperlink neither with regard to the platter and the cup, when He said, "Cleanse that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also," doth He bring us unto the old regard for little things, but on the contrary indeed, He doth all things to show it to be superfluous. For He said not, Cleanse the outside of them also, but that which is within, and the outside is sure to follow.
And besides, neither is it concerning a cup and platter he is speaking, but of soul and body, by the outside meaning the body, by the inside the soul. But if with regard to the platter there be need of that which is within much more with regard to thee.
But ye do the contrary, saith He, observing things trifling and external, ye neglect what are great and inward: whence very great mischief arises, for that thinking ye have duly performed all, ye despise the other things; and despising them, ye do not so much as strive or attempt to perform them.
After this, He again derides them for vainglory, calling 'them "whited sepulchers."hyperlink and unto all adding, "ye hypocrites;" which thing is the cause of all their evils, and the origin of their ruin. And He did not merely call them whited sepulchers, but said, that they were full of uncleanness and hypocrisy. And these things He spake, indicating the cause wherefore they did not believe, because they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
But these things not Christ only, but the prophets also constantly lay to their charge, that they spoil, that their rulers judge not according to the rule of justice, and every where you may find the sacrifices indeed refused, but these things required. So that there is nothing strange, nothing new, neither in the lawgiving, nor in the accusation, nay not even in the comparison of the sepulchre. For the prophet makes mention thereof, neither did he call them merely a sepulchre, "but their throat an open sepulchre."hyperlink
Such are many men now also, decking themselves indeed outwardly, but full of iniquity within. For now too there is many a mode, and many a care for outward purifications, but of those in the soul not so much as one. But if indeed any one should tear open each man's conscience, many worms and much corruption would he find, and an ill savor beyond utterance; unreasonable and wicked lusts I mean, which are more unclean than worms.
3. But that "they" should be such persons is not "so" dreadful a thing (although it be dreadful), but that "you," that have been counted worthy to become temples of God, should of a sudden have become sepulchers, having as much ill savor, this is extreme wretchedness. He in whom Christ dwells, and the Holy Spirit hath worked, and such great mysteries, that this man should be a sepulchre, what wretchedness is this? What mournings and lamentations doth this call for, when the members of Christ have become a tomb of uncleanness? Consider how thou wast born, of what things thou hast been counted worthy, what manner of garment thou hast received, how thou wast built a temple without a breach! how fair! not adorned with gold, neither with pearls, but with the spirit that is more precious than these.
Consider that no sepulchre is made in a city, so then neither shalt thou be able to appear in the city above. For if here this is forbidden, much more there. Or rather even here thou art an object of scorn to all, bearing about a dead soul, and not to be scorned only, but also to be shunned. For tell me. if any one were to go round, bearing about a dead body, would not all have rushed away? would not all have fled? Think this now likewise. For thou goest about, bearing a spectacle far more grievous than this, a soul deadened by sins, a soul paralyzed.
Who now will pity such a one? For when thou dost not pity thine own soul, how shall another pity him that is so cruel, such an enemy to himself?hyperlink If any one, where thou didst sleep and eat, had buried a dead body, what wouldest thou not have done? but thou art burying a dead soul, not where thou dinest, nor where thou sleepest, but in the members of Christ: and art thou not afraid lest a thousand lightnings and thunderbolts be hurled from above upon thine head?
And how dost thou even dare to set foot in the churches of God, and in holy temples, having within thee the savor of so much abomination? For if one bearing a dead body into the king's courts and burying it would have suffered the utmost punishment, thou setting thy foot in the sacred courts. and filling the house with so much ill savor, consider what a punishment thou wilt undergo.
Imitate that harlot who anointed with ointment the feet of Christ, and filled the whole house with the odor, the opposite to which thou doest to His house! For what though thou be not sensible of the ill savor? For this most of all is the grievous part of the disease; wherefore also thou art incurably diseased, and more grievously than they that are maimed in their bodies, and become fetid. For that disease indeed is both felt by the sick and is without any blame, nay even is deserving of pity; but this of hatred and punishment.
Since then both in this respect it is more grievous, and from the sick not being sensible of it as he ought to be; come, give thyself to my words, that I may teach thee plainly the mischief of it.
But first listen to what thou sayest in the Psalm, "Let my prayer be set forth in Thy sight as incense."hyperlink When then not incense, but a stinking smoke arises from thee, and from thy deeds, what punishment dost thou not deserve to undergo?
What then is the stinking smoke? Many come in gazing about at the beauty of women; others curious about the blooming youth of boys. After this, dost thou not marvel, how bolts are not launched, and all things are not plucked up from their foundations? For worthy both of thunderbolts and hell are the things that are done; but God, who is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forbears awhile His wrath, calling thee to repentance and amendment.
What doest thou, O man? Art thou curiously looking after women's beauty, and dost thou not shudder at thus doing despite unto the temple of God? Doth the church seem to thee a brothel, and less honorable than the market-place. For in a market-place indeed thou art afraid and ashamed to appear to be looking after any woman, but in God's temple, when God Himself is discoursing unto thee, and threatening about these things, thou art committing whoredom and adultery at the very time in which thou art being told not to do this. And dost thou not shudder, nor stand amazed?
These things do the spectacles of wantonness teach you, the pest that is so hard to put down, the deleterious sorceries, the grievous snares of the thoughtless, the pleasurable destruction of the unchaste
Therefore the prophet also blaming thee, said, "Thine eyes are not good, neither is thine heart."hyperlink
It were better for such men to be blind; it were better to be diseased, than to abuse thine eyes for these purposes.
It were meet indeed that ye had within you the wall to part you from the women; but since ye are not so minded, our fathers thought it necessary by these boardshyperlink to wall you off; since I hear from the eider ones, that of old there were not so much as these partitions; "For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female."hyperlink And in the apostle's time also both men and women were together. Because the men were men, and the women women, but now altogether the contrary; the women have urged themselves into the manners of courtezans, but the men are in no better state than frantic horses.
Heard ye not, that the men and women were gathered together in the upper room, and that congregation was worthy of the heavens? And very reasonably. For even women then practised much self-denial, and the men gravity and chastity. Hear, for instance, the seller of purple saying, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come in, and abide with me."hyperlink Hear the women, who went about with the apostles, having taken unto themselves manly courage, Priscilla, Persis, and the rest; from whom our present women are as far removed as our men from their men.
4. For then indeed even travelling into far countries women brought not on themselves evil report; but now even though brought up in a chamber, they hardly escape this suspicion. But these things arise from their decking of themselves, and their luxury, Then the business of those women was to spread the word; but now to appear beauteous, and fair, and comely in countenance. This is glory to them, this salvation; but of lofty and great works they do not even dream.
What woman exerts herself to make her husband better? what man hath taken to himself this care to amend his wife? There is not one: but the woman's whole study is upon the care of ornaments of gold, and raiment, and the other adornments of the person, and how to increase their substance; but the man's both this, and others more than this, all however worldly.
Who, when about to marry, inquires about the disposition and nurture of the damsel? No one; but straightway about money, and possessions, and measures of property of various and different kinds; like as if he were about to buy something, or to settle some common contract.
Therefore they do even so call marriage. For I have heard many say, such a man has contracted with such a woman, that is, has married. And they offer insult to the gifts of God, and as though buying and selling, so do they marry, and are giver in marriage.
And writings there are, requiring greater security than those about buying and selling. Learn how those of old married, and imitate them. How then did they marry? They inquired about ways of life, and morals, and virtue of the soul. Therefore they had no need of writings, nor of security by parchment and ink; for the bride's disposition sufficed them in the place of all.
I therefore entreat you likewise not to seek after wealth and affluence, but a good disposition, and gentleness. Seek for a pious and self-denying damsel, and these will be to thee better than countless treasures. If thou seek the things of God, these others will come also; but if thou pass by those, and hasten unto these, neither will these follow.
But such a man, one will say, became rich by his wife! Art thou not ashamed of bringing forward such examples? I had ten thousand times sooner become a poor man, as I have heard many say, than gain wealth from a wife. For what can be more unpleasing than that wealth? What more painful than the abundance? What more shameful than to be notorious from thence, and for it to be said by all, such a man became rich by a wife? For the domestic discomforts I pass by, all that must needs result from hence, the wife's pride, the servility, the strifes, the reproaches of the servants. "The beggar," "the ragged one." "the base one, and sprung of base." "Why, what had he when he came in?" "Do not all things belong to our mistress?" But thou dost not care at all about these sayings, for neither art thou a freeman. Since the parasites likewise hear worse things than these, and are not pained wherefore neither are these, but rather pride themselves in their disgrace; and when we tell them of these things,"Let me have," saith one of them, "something pleasant and sweet, and let it choke me." Alas! the devil,what proverbs hath he brought into the world, of power to overturn the whole life of such persons. See at least this self-same devilish and pernicious saying; of how much ruin it is full. For it means nothing else than these words, Have thou no regard to what is honorable; have thou no regard to what is just; let all those things be cast aside, seek one thing alone, pleasure. Though the thing stifle thee, let it be thy choice; though all that meet thee spurn thee, though they smear thy face with mire, though they drive thee away as a dog, bear all. And what else would swine say, if they had a voice? What else would filthy dogs? But perhaps not even they would have said such things, as the devil hath persuaded men to rave.
Wherefore I entreat you, being conscious of the senselessness of such words as these, to flee such proverbs, and to choose out those in the Scriptures that are contrary to them.
But what are these? "Go not," it is said, "after thy lusts, and refrain thyself from thine appetites."hyperlink And, touching an harlot again, it is said in opposition to this proverb, "Give not heed to a bad woman: for honey droppeth from the lips of a woman that is an harlot, which, for a season, is luscious unto thy throat; but afterwards thou shalt find it more bitter than gall, and sharper than a two-edged sword."hyperlink Unto these last then let us listen, not unto those. For hence indeed spring our mean, hence our slavish thoughts, hence men become brutes, because in everything they will follow after pleasure according to this proverb, which, even without arguments of ours, is of itself ridiculous. For after one is choked, what is the gain of sweetness?
Cease, therefore, to set up such great absurdity, and to kindle hell and unquenchable fire; and let us look steadfastly (at length though late) as we ought, unto the things to come, having put away the film on our eyes, that we may both pass the present life honestly, and with much reverence and godly fear, and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.
1 [ This verse is omitted in the best authoritites, and its position varies in the later Mss. and versions which give it. In this Homily it is placed before our verse 23. It is well attested in Mark xii. 40, and Luke xx.. 47-R.]
2 Matt. xxiii. 13. [See note 1. "Of heaven" is omitted here, but in none of our New Testament authorities.-R.]
4 Matt. xxiii. 15. [R. V., "a son of hell," with the margin, Greek, "Gehenna." ]
5 [R. V., "have left undone."]
6 Matt. xxiii. 23. [R. V., "to have left the others undone.""And cummin" is omttted.-R.]
7 Matt. xxiii. 25, 26. [The minor textual variations appear in the above English rendering.]
8 [Matt. xxiii. 24. R. V., correctly, "strain out the gnat," etc.]
9 [The Oxford edition has "candor," probably a misprint, since the Greek term is suggnw/mhn.-R.]
10 [The clause, "for this we showed before," is omitted by the translator.-R.]
11 Matt. xxiii. 27.
12 Ps v. 9.
13 [polemion o!nta e9autw=| kai\ e9xqro/n.]
14 Ps. cxli. 2.
15 Jer. xxii. 17, LXX .
17 Gal. iii. 28. [The passage is inexactly cited, the form being altered to correspond with the previous part of the verse. Comp.R.V.-R.]
18 Acts xvi. 15. [Two Mss. have a reading more exactly agreeing with the New Testament text.-R.]
19 Ecclus. xviii. 30.
Matthew Chapter 23, Verse 29 And Matthew Chapter 23, Verse 30
"Woe unto you, because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish their sepulchers,hyperlink and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets."
Not because they build, nor because they blame the others, doth He say, woe, but because, while both thus, and by what they say, they are pretending to condemn their fathers, they do worse. For in proof that the condemnation was a pretense, Luke saith, ye do allow because ye build; for, "Woe unto you," saith He, "for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness, and ye allow the deeds of your fathers, for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchers."hyperlink For here He reproves their purpose, wherewith they built, that it was not for the honoring of them that were slain, but as making a show of the murders, and afraid, lest, when the tombs had perished by time, the proof and memory of such daring should fade away, setting up these glorious buildings, as a kind of trophy, and priding themselves in the daring deeds of those men, and displaying them.
For the things that ye now dare to do, show that ye do these things also in this spirit. For, though ye speak the contrary, saith He, as condemning them, as, for instance, "We should not, if we had been in their days, have been partakers with them;" yet the disposition is evident wherewith ye say these things. Wherefore also unfolding it, though darkly, still He hath expressed it. For when He had said, ye say, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets;" He added, "Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them that slew the prophets." And what blame is it to be a murderer's son, if one partake not in the mind of one's father? None. Whence it is evident, that for this same thing He brings it forward against them, hinting at their affinity in wickedness.
And this is manifest too by what comes after; He adds at least, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers."hyperlink For as those beasts are like their parents, in the destructiveness of their venom, so also are ye like your fathers in murderousness.
Then, because He was searching their temper of mind, which is to the more part obscure, He doth, from those things also which they were about to perpetrate, which would be manifest to all, establish His words. For, because He had said, "Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets," making it evident, that of their affinity in wickedness He is speaking, and that it was a pretense to say, "We should not have been partakers with them," He added, "Fill ye up therefore the measure of your fathers,"hyperlink not commanding, but declaring beforehand, what was to be, that is, His own murder.
Therefore, having brought in their refutation, and having shown that they were pretenses which they said in their own defense, as, for instance, "We would not have been partakers with them," (for they who refrain not from the Lord, how should they have refrained from the servants), He makes after this His language more condemnatory,hyperlink calling them "serpents, and generation of vipers," and saying, "How shall ye escape the damnation of hell,"hyperlink at once perpetrating such things, and denying them, and dissembling your purpose?
Then rebuking them more exceedingly from another cause also, He Saith, "I will send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes, and some of them shall ye kill and crucify, and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues."hyperlink For that they should not say, "Though we crucified the Lord, yet from the servants we should have refrained, if we had been then;" "Behold," He saith, "I send servants also to you, prophets likewise themselves, and neither will ye spare them." But these things He saith, showing that it was nothing strange, that He should be murdered by those sons, being both murderous and deceitful, and having much guile, and surpassing their fathers in their outrages.
And besides what hath been said, He shows them to be also exceedingly vainglorious. For when they say, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them," they spake out of vainglory, and were practising virtue in words only, but in their works doing the contrary.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, that is, wicked sons of wicked men, and more wicked than those who begat them. For He showeth that they are committing greater crimes, both by their committing them after those others, and by their doing much more grievous things than they, and this, while positively affirming that they never would have fallen into the same. For they add that which is both the end and the crown of their evil deeds. For the others slew them that came to the vineyard, but these, both the son, and them that were bidding them to the wedding.
But these things He saith, to separate them off from the affinity to Abraham, and to show that they had no advantage from thence, unless they followed his works; wherefore also He adds, "How can ye fleehyperlink from the damnation of hell," when following them that have committed such acts?
And here He recalls to their remembrance John's accusation, for he too called them by this name, and reminded them of the judgment to come. Then, because they are nothing alarmed by judgment and hell, by reason of their not believing them, and because the thing is future, He awes them by the things present, and saith, "Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and scribes: and some of them shall ye kill and crucify, and scourge;hyperlink that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barschias, whom ye stew between the templehyperlink and the altar. Verily I say unto you, that all these things shall come upon this generation."hyperlink
2. See by how many things He has warned them. He said, Ye condemn your fathers, in that ye say, "We would not have been partakers with them;" and this is no little thing to shame them. He said, While ye condemn them, ye do worse things, even ye yourselves; and this is sufficient to cover them with disgrace. He said, These things shall not be without punishment; and hence he implants in them fear beyond words. He hath reminded them at least of hell. Then because that was to come, He brought home to them the terrors as even present. "For all these things shall come," He saith, "upon this generation."
He added also unspeakable severity to the vengeance, saying, that they shall suffer more grievous things than all; yet by none of these things did they become better. But if any one say, And why do they suffer more grievously than all? we would say, Because they have first committed more grievous things than all, and by none of the things that have been done to them have they been brought to a sound mind.
Heardest thou not Lamech saying, "Of Lamech vengeance shall be taken seventy times sevenfold;"hyperlink that is, "I am deserving of more punishment than Cain." Why could this be? Yet he did not slay his brother; but because not even by his example was he brought to a better mind. And this is what God saith elsewhere, "Requiting the sins of fathers upon children for the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."hyperlink Not as though one were to suffer punishment for the crimes committed by others, but inasmuch as they who, after many sin and have been punished, yet have not grown better, but have committed the same offenses, are justly worthy to suffer their punishments also.
But see how seasonably he also mentioned Abel, indicating that this murder likewise is of envy. What then have ye to say? Know ye not what Cain suffered? Did God hold His peace at his deeds? Did He not exact the severest penalty? Heard ye not what things your fathers suffered, when they slew the prophets; were they not delivered over to punishments, and inflictions of vengeance without number? How then did ye not become better? And why do I speak of the punishments of your fathers, and what they suffered? Thou who thyself condemnest thy fathers, how is it thou doest worse? For moreover even ye yourselves have declared that "He will miserably destroy those wicked men."hyperlink What favor then will ye have after this, committing such things after such a sentence?
But who is this Zacharias? Some say, the father of John; some, the prophet; some, a priest with two different names, whom the Scripture also calls, the son of Jehoiada.hyperlink
But do thou mark this, that the outrage was twofold. For not only did they slay holy men, but also in a holy place. And saying these things, He did not only alarm them, but also comfort His disciples, showing that the righteous men also who were before them suffered these things. But these He alarmed, foretelling that like as they paid their penalty, even so should these too suffer the utmost extremities. Therefore He calls themhyperlink "prophets, and wise men, and scribes," even hereby again taking away every plea of theirs. "For ye cannot say," He saith, "Thou didst send from among the Gentiles, and therefore we were offended;" but they were led on unto this by being murderous, and thirsting for blood. Wherefore He also said beforehand, "For this cause do I send prophets and scribes." This did the prophets also lay to their charge, saying, "They mingle blood with blood,"hyperlink and that they are men of blood. Therefore also did He command the blood to be offered to Him, showing that if in a brute it be thus precious, much more in a man. Which He saith to Noah likewise, "I will require all blood that is shed."hyperlink And ten thousand other such things might one find Him enjoining with regard to their not committing murder; wherefore He commanded them not even to eat that which was strangled.
Oh the love of God towards man! that though He foreknew they would profit nothing, He still doeth His part. For I will send, He saith, and this knowing they would be slain. So that even hereby they were convicted of saying vainly, "We should not have been partakers with our fathers." For these too slew prophets even in their synagogues, and reverenced neither the place, nor the dignity of the persons. For not merely ordinary persons did they slay, but prophets and wise men, such that they had nothing to lay to their charge. And by these He meaneth the apostles, and those after them, for, indeed, many prophesied. Then, willing to aggravate their fears, He saith, "Verily, verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation;" that is, I will bring all upon your heads, and will make the vengeance sore. For he that knew many to have sinned, and was not sobered, but himself hath committed the same sins again, and not the same only, but also far more grievous, would justly deserve to suffer a far more grievous punishment than they. For like as, if he had been minded, he would have gained greatly, had he grown better by their examples, even so, since he continued without amendment, he is liable to a heavier vengeance, as having had the benefit of more warning by them who had sinned before and been punished, and having reaped no advantage.
3. Then He directs His speech unto the city, in this way too being minded to correct His hearers, and saith, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!"hyperlink What meaneth the repetition? this is the manner of one pitying her, and bemoaning her, and greatly loving her. For, like as unto a woman beloved, herself indeed ever loved, but who had despised Him that loved her, and therefore on the point of being punished, He pleads, being now about to inflict the punishment. Which He doth in the prophets also, using these words, "I said, Turn thou unto me, and she returned not."hyperlink
Then having called her, He tells also her blood-stained deeds, "Thou that killesthyperlink the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not," in this way also pleading for His own dealings; not even with these things hast thou turned me aside, nor withdrawn me from my great affection toward thee, but it was my desire even so, not once or twice, but often to draw thee unto me. "For how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not."hyperlink And this He saith, to show that they were ever scattering themselves by their sins. And His affection He indicates by the similitude; for indeed the creature is warm in its love towards its brood. And everywhere in the prophets is this same image of the wings, and in the song of Moses and in the Psalms, indicating His great protection and care.
"But ye would not," He saith. "Behold your house is left desolate,"hyperlink stripped of the succor which cometh from me. Surely it was the same, who also was before protecting them, and holding them together, and preserving them; surely it was He who was ever chastening them. And He appoints a punishment, which they had ever dreaded exceedingly; for it declared the entire overthrow of their polity. "For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."hyperlink And this is the language of one that loves earnestly, earnestly drawing them unto Him by the things to come, not merely warning them by the past; for of the future day of His second coming doth He here speak.
What then? Did they not see Him from that time? But it is not that hour which He meaneth in saying, Henceforth, but the time up to His crucifixion.
For since they were forever accusing Him of this, that He was a kind of rival God, and a foe to God, He moves them to love Him by this, namely, by showing Himself to be of one accord with His Father; and He indicates Himself to be the same that was in the prophets. Wherefore also He uses the same words as did the prophets.
And by these He intimated both His resurrection, and His second coming, and made it plain even to the utterly unbelieving, that then most surely they should worship Him. And how did He make this plain? By speaking of many things that were first to be, that He should send prophets, that they should kill them; that it should be in the synagogues; that they should suffer the utmost extremities; that their house should be left desolate; that they should undergo things more grievous than any, and such as never were undergone before. For all these things are enough to furnish even to the most senseless and contentious a clear proof of that which should come to pass at His coming.
For I will ask them, Did He send the prophets and wise men? Did they slay them in their synagogue? Was their house left desolate? Did all the vengeance come upon that generation? It is quite plain that it was so, and no man gainsays it. As then all these things came to pass, so shall those also come to pass, and most surely they shall submit then.
But they shall derive thence no advantage in the way of defense, as neither will they who repent of their course of life then.
Wherefore let us, while it is time, practise what is good. For like as they henceforth derived no advantage from their knowledge, even so neither shall we ourselves from our repentance for our wickedness. For neither to the pilot, when the bark is sunk in the sea from his remissness, will there remain anything more; nor to the physician, when the sick man is gone; but each of these must before the end devise, and execute all things, so as to be involved in no danger, nor shame; but after this, all is unprofitable.
Let us also then, while in sickness, send for physicians, and lay out money, and exert unceasing diligence, that having risen up from our affliction, we may depart hence in health.
And as much care as we exert about our servants, when their bodies are sick, so much let us show forth upon ourselves, when our soul is diseased. And indeed we are nearer to ourselves than our servants, and our souls are more necessary than those bodies, but nevertheless it were well if we exert at least an equal diligence. For if we do not this now, when gone, thenceforth we may obtain nothing more in the way of plea.
4. Who is so wretched, one may say, as not to show even as much thought as this? Why this is the marvellous thing, that we are held in so little esteem with our ownselves, that we despise ourselves more than our servants. For when our servants are sick of a fever, we send for physicians, and make a separation in the house, and compel them to obey the laws of that art; and if these are neglected, we are displeased with them, and set persons to watch them, who will not, even should they wish them, suffer them to satiate their desire; and if they who have the care of these persons should say, that medicines must be procured at great cost, we yield; and whatsoever they may enjoin, we obey, and we pay them hire for these injunctions.
But when we are sick (or rather there is no time when we are not sick), we do not so much as call in the physician, we do not lay out money, but as though some ruffian,hyperlink and enemy, and foes were concerned, so do we disregard our soul. And these things I say, not finding fault with our attention towards our servants, but thinking it meet to take at least as much care of our souls. And how should we do? one may say. Show it to Paul when ill; call in Matthew; let John sit by it. Hear from them, what we ought to do that is thus ill, they will surely tell, and will not conceal. For they are not dead, but live and speak. But doth the soul take no heed to them, being weighed down by the fever? Do thou compel it, and awaken its reasoning power. Call in the prophets. There is no need to pay money to these physicians, for neither do they themselves demand hire for themselves, nor for the medicines which they prepare do they drive thee to the necessity of expense, except for almsgiving; but in everything else they even add to thy possessions; as, for instance, when they require thee to be temperate, they deliver thee from unseasonable and wrong expenses; when they tell thee to abstain from drunkenness, they make thee wealthier. Seest thou the skill of physicians, who besides health, are supplying thee also with riches? Sit down therefore by them, and learn of them the nature of thy diseaseú For instance, dost thou love wealth, and greedy gain, like as the fevered love water? Listen at any rate to their admonitions. For like as the physician saith to thee, If thou wilt gratify thy desire, thou wilt perish, and undergo this or that; even so also Paul: "They that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare of the devil, and into foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."hyperlink
But art thou impatient? Hear him saying, "Yet a little while, and He that cometh will come, and will not tarry.hyperlink The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing;"hyperlink and again, "The fashion of this world passeth away."hyperlink
For neither doth he command only, but also soothes, as a physician should. And like as they devise some other things in the place of cold things, so doth this man draw offhyperlink the desire another way. Dost thou wish to be rich, saith he; let it be "in good works." Dost thou desire to lay up treasure? I forbid it not at all; only let it be in Heaven.
And like as the physician saith, that what is cold is hurtful to teeth, to nerves, to bones; so he too, more briefly indeed, as heedful of brevity, yet far more, clearly and more powerfully, saith," For the love of money is the root of all evils."hyperlink
Of what then should one make use? He tells this also: of contentedness instead of covetousness. "For contentment," he saith, "with godliness is great gain."hyperlink But if thou art dissatisfied, and desirest more, and art not yet equal to cast away all superfluous things, he tells also him that is thus diseased, how he ought to handle these things too. "That they that rejoice in wealth, be as though they rejoiced not; and they that have, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it."hyperlink
Seest thou what manner of things he enjoins? Wilt thou thou call in also another physician besides? To me at least it seems well. For neither are these physicians like those of the body, who often, while vying one with another, overwhelm the sick man. But not so these, for they have regard to the health of the sick, not to their own vainglory. Be not then afraid of the number of them; one Master speaks in all, that is, Christ.
5. See, for instance, another again entering in, and saying severe things concerning this disease, or rather it is the Master by him;hyperlink "For ye cannot serve God and mammon."hyperlink Yea, saith he, and how will these things be? how shall we cease from the desire? Hence may we learn this also. And how shall we know? Hear him saying this too: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal."hyperlink
Seest thou how by the place, by the things that waste there, He draws men off from this desire that is here, and rivets them to Heaven, where all things are impregnable? For if ye transfer your wealth there where neither rust nor moth corrupts, nor thieves break through and steal, ye will both expel this disease, and establish your soul in the greatest abundance.
And together with what we have said, He brings forward an example also to teach thee moderation. And like as the physician, to alarm the sick man saith, that such a one died from the use of cold water; so doth He also bring in the rich man,hyperlink laboring indeed, and longing for life and health, but not able to attain thereto, because of having set his heart on covetousness, but going away empty. And besides this man, another is shown to thee again by another evangelist, he that was in torment,hyperlink and was not master so much as of a drop of water. Then showing that His injunctions are easy, He saith, "Behold the fowls of the air."hyperlink But being compassionate, He suffers not even the rich to despair. "For the things which are impossible with men, are possible with God,"hyperlink saith He. For though thou be rich, the physician is able to cure thee. For neither was it wealth that He took away, but to be slave of riches, and a lover of greedy gain.
How then is it possible for the rich man to be saved. By possessing his goods in common with them that are in need, being such as Job was, and exterminating out of his soul the desire of more, and in no points going beyond real need.
He shows thee together with these this selfsame publican also, that was grievously oppressed by the fever of covetousness, quickly set free from it. For what more sordid than a publican? Nevertheless, the man became indifferent to wealth from obeying the laws of the physician. For indeed He hath for His disciples such persons as these, that were sick of the same diseases as we are, and have recovered their health quickly. And He shows us each, in order we may not despair. See at least this publican. Mark again another, a chief of the publicans, who promised four fold indeed for all that he had extorted, and the half of all that he possessed, that he might receive Jesus.
But art thou on fire with exceeding desire for riches. Have the possessions of all men instead of thine own. For indeed I give thee, He saith, more than thou seekest, in opening to thee the houses of the wealthy throughout the world. "For whosoever hath forsaken father or mother, or lands, or house, shall receive an hundredfold."hyperlink Thus wilt thou not enjoy more abundant possessions only, but thou wilt even remove this grievous thirst altogether, and wilt endure all things easily, so far from desiring more, not seeking often even necessary things. Thus doth Paul suffer hunger, and is held in honor more than when he ate. Forasmuch as a wrestler also, when striving, and winning crowns, would not choose to give up and to be in repose; and a merchant who hath entered on sea voyages would not desire to be afterwards in idleness.
And we therefore, if we should taste as we ought of spiritual fruits, shall thenceforth not even account the things present to be anything, being seized by the desire of the things to come as with some most noble intoxication.
Let us taste of them, therefore, that we may both be delivered from the turmoil of the things present, and may attain the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
1 [ There are two variations in the text of verse 29: the omission of "Scribes and Pharisees. hypocrites !" and the substitution of "their" for "of the righteous".-R.]