Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.42 On Virginity Part 2

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.42 On Virginity Part 2

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.42 On Virginity Part 2

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Chapter VI.

This, I believe, makes the greatness of the prophet Elias, and of him who afterwards appeared in the spirit and power of Elias, than whom "of those that are born of women there was none greaterhyperlink ." If their history conveys any other mystic lesson, surely this above all is taught by their special mode of life, that the man whose thoughts are fixed upon the invisible is necessarily separated from all the ordinary events of life; his judgments as to the True Good cannot be confused and led astray by the deceits arising from the senses. Both, from their youth upwards, exiled themselves from human society, and in a way from human nature, in their neglect of the usual kinds of meat and drink, and their sojourn in the desert. The wants of each were satisfied by the nourishment that came in their way, so that their taste might remain simple and unspoilt, as their ears were free from any distracting noise, and their eyes from any wandering look. Thus they attained a cloudless calm of soul, and were raised to that height of Divine favour which Scripture records of each. Elias, for instance, became the dispenser of God's earthly gifts; he had authority to close at will the uses of the sky against the sinners and to open them to the penitent. John is not said indeed to have done any miracle; but the gift in him was pronounced by Him Who sees the secrets of a man greater than any prophet's. This was so, we may presume, because both, from beginning to end, so dedicated their hearts to the Lord that they were unsullied by any earthly passion; because the love of wife or child, or any other human call, did not intrude upon them, and they did not even think their daily sustenance worthy of anxious thought; because they showed themselves to be above any magnificencehyperlink of dress, and made shift with that which chance offered them, one clothing himself in goat-skins, the other with camel's hair. It is my belief that they would not have reached to this loftiness of spirit, if marriage had softened them. This is not simple history only; it is "written for our admonitionhyperlink ," that we might direct our lives by theirs. What, then, do we learn thereby? This: that the man who longs for union with God must, like those saints, detach his mind from all worldly business. It is impossible for the mind which is poured into many channels to win its way to the knowledge and the love of God.

Chapter VII.

An illustration will make our teaching on this subject clearer. Imagine a stream flowing from a spring and dividing itself off into a number of accidental channels. As long as it proceeds so, it will be useless for any purpose of agriculture, the dissipation of its waters making each particular current small and feeble, and therefore slow. But if one were to mass these wandering and widely dispersed rivulets again into one single channel, he would have a full and collected stream for the supplies which life demands. Just so the human mind (so it seems to me), as long as its current spreads itself in all directions over the pleasures of the sense, has no power that is worth the naming of making its way towards the Real Good; but once call it back and collect it upon itself, so that it may begin to move without scattering and wandering towards the activity which is congenital and natural to it, it will find no obstacle in mounting to higher things, and in grasping realities. We often see water contained in a pipe bursting upwards through this constraining force, which will not let it leak; and this, in spite of its natural gravitation: in the same way, the mind of man, enclosed in the compact channel of an habitual continence, and not having any side issues, will be raised by virtue of its natural powers of motion to an exalted love. In fact, its Maker ordained that it should always move, and to stop is impossible to it; when therefore it is prevented employing this power upon trifles, it cannot be but that it will speed toward the truth, all improper exits being closed. In the case of many turnings we see travellers can keep to the direct route, when they have learnt that the other roads are wrong, and so avoid them; the more they keep out of these wrong directions, the more they will preserve the straight course; in like manner the mind in turning from vanities will recognize the truth. The great prophets, then, whom we have mentioned seem to teach this lesson, viz. to entangle ourselves with none of the objects of this world's effort; marriage is one of these, or rather it is the primal root of all striving after vanities.

Chapter VIII.

Let no one think however that herein we depreciate marriage as an institution. We are well aware that it is not a stranger to God's blessing. But since the common instincts of mankind can plead sufficiently on its behalf, instincts which prompt by a spontaneous bias to take the high road of marriage for the procreation of children, whereas Virginity in a way thwarts this natural impulse, it is a superfluous task to compose formally an Exhortation to marriage. We put forward the pleasure of it instead, as a most doughty champion on its behalf. It may be however, notwithstanding this, that there is some need of such a treatise, occasioned by those who travesty the teaching of the Church. Such personshyperlink "have their conscience seared with a hot iron," as the Apostle expresses it; and very truly too, considering that, deserting the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the "doctrines of devils," they have some ulcers and blisters stamped upon their hearts, abominating God's creatures, and calling them "foul," "seducing," "mischievous," and so on. "But what have I to do to judge them that are withouthyperlink ?" asks the Apostle. Truly those persons are outside the Court in which the words of our mysteries are spoken; they are not installed under God's roof, but in the monastery of the Evil One. They "are taken captive by him at his willhyperlink ." They therefore do not understand that all virtue is found in moderation, and that any declension to either sidehyperlink of it becomes a vice. He, in fact, who grasps the middle point between doing too little and doing too much has hit the distinction between vice and virtue. Instances will make this clearer. Cowardice and audacity are two recognized vices opposed to each other; the one the defect, the other the excess of confidence; between them lies courage. Again, piety is neither atheism nor superstition; it is equally impious to deny a God and to believe in many gods. Is there need of more examples to bring this principle home? The man who avoids both meanness and prodigality will by this shunning of extremes form the moral habit of liberality; for liberality is the thing which is neither inclined to spend at random vast and useless sums, nor yet to be closely calculating in necessary expenses. We need not go into details in the case of all good qualities. Reason, in all of them, has established virtue to be a middle state between two extremes. Sobriety itself therefore is a middle state, and manifestly involves the two declensions on either side towards vice; he, that is, who is wanting in firmness of soul, and is so easily worsted in the combat with pleasure as never even to have approached the path of a virtuous and sober life, slides into shameful indulgence; while he who goes beyond the safe ground of sobriety and overshoots the moderation of this virtue, falls as it were from a precipice into the "doctrines of devils," "having his conscience seared with a hot iron." In declaring marriage abominable he brands himself with such reproaches; for "if the tree is corrupt" (as the Gospel says), "the fruit also of the tree will be like ithyperlink "; if a man is the shoot and fruitage of the tree of marriage, reproaches cast on that turn upon him who casts themhyperlink . These persons, then, are like branded criminals already; their conscience is covered with the stripes of this unnatural teaching. But our view of marriage is this; that, while the pursuit of heavenly things should be a man's first care, yet if he can use the advantages of marriage with sobriety and moderation, he need not despise this way of serving the state. An example might be found in the patriarch Isaac. He married Rebecca when he was past the flower of his age and his prime was well-nigh spent, so that his marriage was not the deed of passion, but because of God's blessing that should be upon his seed. He cohabited with her till the birth of her only childrenhyperlink , and then, closing the channels of the senses, lived wholly for the Unseen; for this is what seems to be meant by the mention in his history of the dimness of the Patriarch's eyes. But let that be as those think who are skilled in reading these meanings, and let us proceed with the continuity of our discourse. What then, were we saying? That in the cases where it is possible at once to be true to the diviner love, and to embrace wedlock, there is no reason for setting aside this dispensation of nature and misrepresenting as abominable that which is honourable. Let us take again our illustration of the water and the spring. Whenever the husbandman, in order to irrigate a particular spot, is bringing the stream thither, but there is need before it gets there of a small outlet, he will allow only so much to escape into that outlet as is adequate to supply the demand, and can then easily be blended again with the main stream. If, as an inexperienced and easy-going steward, he opens too wide a channel, there will be danger of the whole stream quitting its direct bed and pouring itself sideways. In the same way, if (as life does need a mutual succession) a man so treats this need as to give spiritual things the first thought, and because of the shortnesshyperlink of the time indulges but sparingly the sexual passion and keeps it under restraint, that man would realize the character of the prudent husband man to which the Apostle exhorts us. About the details of paying these trifling debts of nature he will not be over-calculating, but the long hours of his prayershyperlink will secure the purity which is the key-note of his life. He will always fear lest by this kind of indulgence he may become nothing but flesh and blood; for in them God's Spirit does not dwell. He who is of so weak a character that he cannot make a manful stand against nature's impulse had betterhyperlink keep himself very far away from such temptations, rather than descend into a combat which is above his strength. There is no small danger for him lest, cajoled in the valuation of pleasure, he should think that there exists no other good but that which is enjoyed along with some sensual emotion, and, turning altogether from the love of immaterial delights, should become entirely of the flesh, seeking always his pleasure only there, so that his character will be a Pleasure-lover, not a God-lover. It is not every man's gift, owing to weakness of nature, to hit the due proportion in these matters; there is a danger of being carried far beyond it, and "sticking fast in the deep mirehyperlink ," to use the Psalmist's words. It would therefore be for our interest, as our discourse has been suggesting, to pass through life without a trial of these temptations, lest under cover of the excuse of lawful indulgence passion should gain an entrance into the citadel of the soul.

Chapter IX.

Custom is indeed in everything hard to resist. It possesses an enormous power of attracting and seducing the soul. In the cases where a man has got into a fixed state of sentiment, a certain imagination of the good is created in him by this habit; and nothing is so naturally vile but it may come to be thought both desirable and laudable, once it has got into the fashionhyperlink . Take mankind now living on the earth. There are many nations, and their ambitions are not all the same. The standard of beauty and of honour is different in each, the custom of each regulating their enthusiasm and their aims. This unlikeness is seen not only amongst nations where the pursuits of the one are in no repute with the other, but even in the same nation, and the same city, and the same family; we may see in those aggregates also much difference existing owing to customary feeling. Thus brothers born from the same throe are separated widely from each other in the aims of life. Nor is this to be wondered at, considering that each single man does not generally keep to the same opinion about the same thing, but alters it as fashion influences him. Not to go far from our present subject, we have known those who have shown themselves to be in love with chastity all through the early years of puberty; but in taking the pleasures which men think legitimate and allowable they make them the starting-point of an impure life, and when once they have admitted these temptations, all the forces of their feeling are turned in that direction, and, to take again our illustration of the stream, they let it rush from the diviner channel into low material channels, and make within themselves a broad path for passion; so that the stream of their love leaves dry the abandoned channel of the higher wayhyperlink and flows abroad in indulgence. It would be well then, we take it, for the weaker brethren to fly to virginity as into an impregnable fortress, rather than to descend into the career of life's consequences and invite temptations to do their worst upon them, entangling themselves in those things which through the lusts of the flesh war against the law of our mind; it would be well for them to considerhyperlink that herein they risk not broad acres, or wealth, or any other of this life's prizes, but the hope which has been their guide. It is impossible that one who has turned to the world and feels its anxieties, and engages his heart in the wish to please men, can fulfil that first and great commandment of the Master, "Thou shall love God with all thy heart and with all thy strengthhyperlink ." How can he fulfil that, when he divides his heart between God and the world, and exhausts the love which he owes to Him alone in human affections? "He that is unmarried careth for the things of the Lord; but he that is married careth for the things that are of the worldhyperlink ." If the combat with pleasure seems wearisome, nevertheless let all take heart. Habit will not fail to produce, even in the seemingly most fretfulhyperlink , a feeling of pleasure through the very effort of their perseverance; and that pleasure will be of the noblest and purest kind; which the intelligent may well be enamoured of, rather than allow themselves, with aims narrowed by the lowness of their objects, to be estranged from the true greatness which goes beyond all thought.

Chapter X.

What words indeed could possibly express the greatness of that loss in falling away from the possession of real goodness? What consummate power of thought would have to be employed! Who could produce even in outline that which speech cannot tell, nor the mind grasp? On the one hand, if a man has kept the eye of his heart so clear that he can in a way behold the promise of our Lord's Beatitudes realized, he will condemn all human utterance as powerless to represent that which he has apprehended. On the other hand, if a man from the atmosphere of material indulgences has the weakness of passion spreading like a film over the keen vision of his soul, all force of expression will be wasted upon him; for it is all one whether you understate or whether you magnify a miracle to those who have no power whatever of perceiving ithyperlink . Just as, in the case of the sunlight, on one who has never from the day of his birth seen it, all efforts at translating it into words are quite thrown away; you cannot make the splendour of the ray shinehyperlink through his ears; in like manner, to see the beauty of the true and intellectual light, each man has need of eyes of his own; and he who by a gift of Divine inspiration can see it retains his ecstasy unexpressed in the depths of his consciousness; while he who sees it not cannot be made to know even the greatness of his loss. How should he? This good escapes his perception, and it cannot be represented to him; it is unspeakable, and cannot be delineated. We have not learnt the peculiar language expressive of this beauty. An example of what we want to say does not exist in the world; a comparison for it would at least be very difficult to find. Who compares the Sun to a little spark? or the vast Deep to a drop? And that tiny drop and that diminutive spark bear the same relation to the Deep and to the Sun, as any beautiful object of man's admiration does to that real beauty on the features of the First Good, of which we catch the glimpse beyond any other good. What words could be invented to show the greatness of this loss to him who suffers it? Well does the great David seem to me to express the impossibility of doing this. He has been lifted by the power of the Spirit out of himself, and sees in a blessed state of ecstacy the boundless and incomprehensible Beauty; he sees it as fully as a mortal can see who has quitted his fleshly envelopments and entered, by the mere power of thought, upon the contemplation of the spiritual and intellectual world, and in his longing to speak a word worthy of the spectacle he bursts forth with that cry, which all re-echo, "Every man a liarhyperlink !" I take that to mean that any man who entrusts to language the task of presenting the ineffable Light is really and truly a liar; not because of any hatred on his part of the truth, but because of the feebleness of his instrument for expressing the thing thought ofhyperlink . The visible beauty to be met with in this life of ours, showing glimpses of itself, whether in inanimate objects or in animate organisms in a certain choiceness of colour, can be adequately admired by our power of aesthetic feeling. It can be illustrated and made known to others by description; it can be seen drawn in the language as in a picture. Even a perfect typehyperlink of such beauty does not baffle our conception. But how can language illustrate when it finds no media for its sketch, no colour, no contourhyperlink , no majestic size, no faultlessness of feature; nor any other commonplace of art? The Beauty which is invisible and formless, which is destitute of qualities and far removed from everything which we recognize in bodies by the eye, can never be made known by the traits which require nothing but the perceptions of our senses in order to be grasped. Not that we are to despair of winning this object of our love, though it does seem too high for our comprehension. The more reason shows the greatness of this thing which we are seeking, the higher we must lift our thoughts and excite them with the greatness of that object; and we must fear to lose our share in that transcendent Good. There is indeed no small amount of danger lest, as we can base the apprehension of it on no knowable qualities, we should slip away from it altogether because of its very height and mystery. We deem it necessary therefore, owing to this weakness of the thinking faculty, to lead it towards the Unseen by stages through the cognizances of the senses. Our conception of the case is as follows.

Chapter XI.

Now those who take a superficial and unreflecting view of things observe the outward appearance of anything they meet, e.g. of a man, and then trouble themselves no more about him. The view they have taken of the bulk of his body is enough to make them think that they know all about him. But the penetrating and scientific mind will not trust to the eyes alone the task of taking the measure of reality; it will not stop at appearances, nor count that which is not seen amongst unrealities. It inquires into the qualities of the man's soul. It takes those of its characteristics which have been developed by his bodily constitution, both in combination and singly; first singly, by analysis, and then in that living combination which makes the personality of the subject. As regards the inquiry into the nature of beauty, we see, again, that the man of half-grown intelligence, when he observes an object which is bathed in the glow of a seeming beauty, thinks that that object is in its essence beautiful, no matter what it is that so prepossesses him with the pleasure of the eye. He will not go deeper into the subject. But the other, whose mind's eye is clear, and who can inspect such appearances, will neglect those elements which are the material only upon which the Form of Beauty works; to him they will be but the ladder by which he climbs to the prospect of that Intellectual Beauty, in accordance with their share in which all other beauties get their existence and their name. But for the majority, I take it, who live all their lives with such obtuse faculties of thinking, it is a difficult thing to perform this feat of mental analysis and of discriminating the material vehicle from the immanent beauty, and thereby of grasping the actual nature of the Beautiful; and if any one wants to know the exact source of all the false and pernicious conceptions of it, he would find it in nothing else but this, viz. the absence, in the soul's faculties of feeling, of that exact training which would enable them to distinguish between true Beauty and the reverse. Owing to this men give up all search after the true Beauty. Some slide into mere sensuality. Others incline in their desires to dead metallic coin. Others limit their imagination of the beautiful to worldly honours, fame, and power. There is another class which is enthusiastic about art and science. The most debased make their gluttony the test of what is good. But he who turns from all grosser thoughts and all passionate longings after what is seeming, and explores the nature of the beauty which is simple, immaterial, formless, would never make a mistake like that when he has to choose between all the objects of desire; he would never be so misled by these attractions as not to see the transient character of their pleasures and not to win his way to an utter contempt for every one of them. This, then, is the path to lead us to the discovery of the Beautiful. All other objects that attract men's love, be they never so fashionable, be they prized never so much and embraced never so eagerly, must be left below us, as too low, too fleeting, to employ the powers of loving which we possess; not indeed that those powers are to be locked up within us unused and motionless; but only that they must first be cleansed from all lower longings; then we must lift them to that height to which sense can never reach. Admiration even of the beauty of the heavens, and of the dazzling sunbeams, and, indeed, of any fair phenomenon, will then cease. The beauty noticed there will be but as the hand to lead us to the love of the supernal Beauty whose glory the heavens and the firmament declare, and whose secret the whole creation sings. The climbing soul, leaving all that she has grasped already as too narrow for her needs, will thus grasp the idea of that magnificence which is exalted far above the heavens. But how can any one reach to this, whose ambitions creep below? How can any one fly up into the heavens, who has not the wings of heaven and is not already buoyant and lofty-minded by reason of a heavenly calling? Few can be such strangers to evangelic mysteries as not to know that there is but one vehicle on which man's soul can mount into the heavens, viz. the self-made likeness in himself to the descending Dove, whose wingshyperlink David the Prophet also longed for. This is the allegorical name used in Scripture for the power of the Holy Spirit; whether it be because not a drop of gallhyperlink is found in that bird, or because it cannot bear any noisome smell, as close observers tell us. He therefore who keeps away from all bitterness and all the noisome effluvia of the flesh, and raises himself on the aforesaid wings above all low earthly ambitions, or, more than that, above the whole universe itself, will be the man to find that which is alone worth loving, and to become himself as beautiful as the Beauty which he has touched and entered, and to be made bright and luminous himself in the communion of the real Light. We are told by those who have studied the subject, that those gleams which follow each other so fast through the air at night and which some call shooting starshyperlink , are nothing but the air itself streaming into the upper regions of the sky under stress of some particular blasts. They say that the fiery track is traced along the sky when those blasts ignite in the ether. In like manner, then, as this air round the earth is forced upwards by some blast and changes into the pure splendour of the ether, so the mind of man leaves this murky miry world, and under the stress of the spirit becomes pure and luminous in contact with the true and supernal Purity; in such an atmosphere it even itself emits light, and is so filled with radiance, that it becomes itself a Light, according to the promise of our Lord that "the righteous should shine forth as the sunhyperlink ." We see this even here, in the case of a mirror, or a sheet of water, or any smooth surface that can reflect the light; when they receive the sunbeam they beam themselves; but they would not do this if any stain marred their pure and shining surface. We shall become then as the light, in our nearness to Christ's true light, if we leave this dark atmosphere of the earth and dwell above; and we shall be light, as our Lord says somewhere to His discipleshyperlink , if the true Light that shineth in the dark comes down even to us; unless, that is, any foulness of sin spreading over our hearts should dim the brightness of our light. Perhaps these examples have led us gradually on to the discovery that we can be changed into something better than ourselves; and it has been proved as well that this union of the soul with the incorruptible Deity can be accomplished in no other way but by herself attaining by her virgin state to the utmost purity possible,-a state which, being like God, will enable her to grasp that to which it is like, while she places herself like a mirror beneath the purity of God, and moulds her own beauty at the touch and the sight of the Archetype of all beauty. Take a character strong enough to turn from all that is human, from persons, from wealth, from the pursuits of Art and Science, even from whatever in moral practice and in legislation is viewed as right (for still in all of them error in the apprehension of the Beautiful comes in, sense being the criterion); such a character will feel as a passionate lover only towards that Beauty which has no source but Itself, which is not such at one particular time or relatively only, which is Beautiful from, and through, and in itself, not such at one moment and in the next ceasing to be such, above all increase and addition, incapable of change and alteration. I venture to affirm that, to one who has cleansed all the powers of his being from every form of vice, the Beauty which is essential, the source of every beauty and every good, will become visible. The visual eye, purged from its blinding humour, can clearly discern objects even on the distant skyhyperlink ; so to the soul by virtue of her innocence there comes the power of taking in that Light; and the real Virginity, the real zeal for chastity, ends in no other goal than this, viz. the power thereby of seeing God. No one in fact is so mentally blind as not to understand that without telling; viz. that the God of the Universe is the only absolute, and primal, and unrivalledhyperlink Beauty and Goodness. All, maybe, know that; but there are those who, as might have been expected, wish besides this to discover, if possible, a process by which we may be actually guided to it. Well, the Divine books are full of such instruction for our guidance; and besides that many of the Saints cast the refulgence of their own lives, like lamps, upon the path for those who are "walking with Godhyperlink ." But each may gather in abundance for himself suggestions towards this end out of either Covenant in the inspired writings; the Prophets and the Law are full of them; and also the Gospel and the Traditions of the Apostles. What we ourselves have conjectured in following out the thoughts of those inspired utterances is this.

Chapter XII.

This reasoning and intelligent creature, man, at once the work and the likeness of the Divine and Imperishable Mind (for so in the Creation it is written of him that "God made man in His imagehyperlink "), this creature, I say, did not in the course of his first production have united to the very essence of his nature the liability to passion and to death. Indeed, the truth about the image could never have been maintained if the beauty reflected in that image had been in the slightest degree opposedhyperlink to the Archetypal Beauty. Passion was introduced afterwards, subsequent to man's first organization; and it was in this way. Being the image and the likeness, as has been said, of the Power which rules all things, man kept also in the matter of a Free-Will this likeness to Him whose Will is over all. He was enslaved to no outward necessity whatever; his feeling towards that which pleased him depended only on his own private judgment; he was free to choose whatever he liked; and so he was a free agent, though circumvented with cunning, when he drew upon himself that disaster which now overwhelms humanity. He became himself the discoverer of evil, but he did not therein discover what God had made; for God did not make death. Man became, in fact, himself the fabricator, to a certain extent, and the craftsman of evil. All who have the faculty of sight may enjoy equally the sunlight; and any one can if he likes put this enjoyment from him by shutting his eyes: in that case it is not that the sun retires and produces that darkness, but the man himself puts a barrier between his eye and the sunshine; the faculty of vision cannot indeed, even in the closing of the eyes, remain inactivehyperlink , and so this operative sight necessarily becomes an operative darknesshyperlink rising up in the man from his own free act in ceasing to see. Again, a man in building a house for himself may omit to make in it any way of entrance for the light; he will necessarily be in darkness, though he cuts himself off from the light voluntarily. So the first man on the earth, or rather he who generated evil in man, had for choice the Good and the Beautiful lying all around him in the very nature of things; yet he wilfully cut out a new way for himself against this nature, and in the act of turning away from virtue, which was his own free act, he created the usage of evil. For, be it observed, there is no such thing in the world as evil irrespective of a will, and discoverable in a substance apart from that. Every creature of God is good, and nothing of His "to be rejected"; all that God made was "very goodhyperlink ." But the habit of sinning entered as we have described, and with fatal quickness, into the life of man; and from that small beginning spread into this infinitude of evil. Then that godly beauty of the soul which was an imitation of the Archetypal Beauty, like fine steel blackenedhyperlink with the vicious rust, preserved no longer the glory of its familiar essence, but was disfigured with the ugliness of sin. This thing so great and precioushyperlink , as the Scripture calls him, this being man, has fallen from his proud birthright. As those who have slipped and fallen heavily into mud, and have all their features so besmeared with it, that their nearest friends do not recognize them, so this creature has fallen into the mire of sin and lost the blessing of being an image of the imperishable Deity; he has clothed himself instead with a perishable and foul resemblance to something else; and this Reason counsels him to put away again by washing it off in the cleansing water of this callinghyperlink . The earthly envelopment once removed, the soul's beauty will again appear. Now the putting off of a strange accretion is equivalent to the return to that which is familiar and natural; yet such a return cannot be but by again becoming that which in the beginning we were created. In fact this likeness to the divine is not our work at all; it is not the achievement of any faculty of man; it is the great gift of God bestowed upon our nature at the very moment of our birth; human efforts can only go so far as to clear away the filth of sin, and so cause the buried beauty of the soul to shine forth again. This truth is, I think, taught in the Gospel, when our Lord says, to those who can hear what Wisdom speaks beneath a mystery, that "the Kingdom of God is within youhyperlink ." That wordhyperlink points out the fact that the Divine good is not something apart from our nature, and is not removed far away from those who have the will to seek it; it is in fact within each of us, ignored indeed, and unnoticed while it is stifled beneath the cares and pleasures of life, but found again whenever we can turn our power of conscious thinking towards it. If further confirmation of what we say is required, I think it will be found in what is suggested by our Lord in the searching for the Lost Drachmahyperlink . The thought, there, is that the widowed soul reaps no benefit from the other virtues (called drachmas in the Parable) being all of them found safe, if that one other is not amongst them. The Parable therefore suggests that a candle should first be lit, signifying doubtless our reason which throws light on hidden principles; then that in one's own house, that is, within oneself, we should search for that lost coin; and by that coin the Parable doubtless hints at the image of our King, not yet hopelessly lost, but hidden beneath the dirt; and by this last we must understand the impurities of the flesh, which, being swept and purged away by carefulness of life, leave clear to the view the object of our search. Then it is meant that the soul herself who finds this rejoices over it, and with her the neighbours, whom she calls in to share with her in this delight. Verily, all those powers which are the housemates of the soul, and which the Parable names her neighbours for this occasionhyperlink , when so be that the image of the mighty King is revealed in all its brightness at last (that image which the Fashioner of each individual heart of us has stamped upon this our Drachmahyperlink ), will then be converted to that divine delight and festivity, and will gaze upon the ineffable beauty of the recovered one. "Rejoice with me," she says, "because I have found the Drachma which I had lost." The neighbours, that is, the soul's familiar powers, both the reasoning and the appetitive, the affections of grief and of anger, and all the rest that are discerned in her, at that joyful feast which celebrates the finding of the heavenly Drachma are well called her friends also; and it is meet that they should all rejoice in the Lord when they all look towards the Beautiful and the Good, and do everything for the glory of God, no longer instruments of sinhyperlink . If, then, such is the lesson of this Finding of the lost, viz. that we should restore the divine image from the foulness which the flesh wraps round it to its primitive state, let us become that which the First Man was at the moment when he first breathed. And what was that? Destitute he was then of his covering of dead skins, but he could gaze without shrinking upon God's countenance. He did not yet judge of what was lovely by taste or sight; he found in the Lord alone all that was sweet; and he used the helpmeet given him only for this delight, as Scripture signifies when it said that "he knew her nothyperlink " till he was driven forth from the garden, and till she, for the sin which she was decoyed into committing, was sentenced to the pangs of childbirth. We, then, who in our first ancestor were thus ejected, are allowed to return to our earliest state of blessedness by the very same stages by which we lost Paradise. What are they? Pleasure, craftily offered, began the Fall, and there followed after pleasure shame, and fear, even to remain longer in the sight of their Creator, so that they hid themselves in leaves and shade; and after that they covered themselves with the skins of dead animals; and then were sent forth into this pestilential and exacting land where, as the compensation for having to die, marriage was institutedhyperlink . Now if we are destined "to depart hence, and be with Christhyperlink ," we must begin at the end of the route of departure (which ties nearest to ourselves); just as those who have travelled far from their friends at home, when they turn to reach again the place from which they started, first leave that district which they reached at the end of their outward journey. Marriage, then, is the last stage of our separation from the life that was led in Paradise; marriage therefore, as our discourse has been suggesting, is the first thing to be left; it is the first station as it were for our departure to Christ. Next, we must retire from all anxious toil upon the land, such as man was bound to after his sin. Next we must divest ourselves of those coverings of our nakedness, the coats of skins, namely the wisdom of the flesh; we must renounce all shameful things done in secrethyperlink , and be covered no longer with the fig-leaves of this bitter world; then, when we have torn off the coatings of this life's perishable leaves, we must stand again in the sight of our Creator; and repelling all the illusion of taste and sight, take for our guide God's commandment only, instead of the venom-spitting serpent. That commandment was, to touch nothing but what was Good, and to leave what was evil untasted; because impatience to remain any longer in ignorance of evil would be but the beginning of the long train of actual evil. For this reason it was forbidden to our first parents to grasp the knowledge of the opposite to the good, as well as that of the good itself; they were to keep themselves from "the knowledge of good and evilhyperlink ," and to enjoy the Good in its purity, unmixed with one particle of evil: and to enjoy that, is in my judgment nothing else than to be ever with God, and to feel ceaselessly and continually this delight, unalloyed by aught that could tear us away from it. One might even be bold to say that this might be found the way by which a man could be again caught up into Paradise out of this world which lieth in the Evil, into that Paradise where Paul was when he saw the unspeakable sights which it is not lawful for a man to talk ofhyperlink .


33 S. Matt. xii. 11.

34 semnothtoj; not as Galesinius renders, "asperitate quadam gravi."

35 1 Cor. x. 11.

36 1 Tim. iv. 2.

37 1 Cor. v. 12.

38 2 Tim. ii. 16.

39 epi ta parakeimena. Galesinius wrongly renders "in contrarias partes." Cf. Arist. Eth, ii. 5.

40 Cf. S. Matt. vii. 18; from which it will he seen that Gregory confirms the Vulgate "malum" for sapron, since he quotes it as kakon here.

41 tou proferontoj; not "of their Creator," or "of their father" (Livineius).

42 mexri miaj wdinoj. So perhaps Rom. ix. 10: 9Pebekka ec enoj koithn exousa, i.e. ex uno concubitu. Below, c. 9 (p. 139, c. 11), Gregory uses the same expression of one birth.

43 kairou sustolhn

44 thn ek sumfwnou kaqarothta th sxolh twn proseuxwn aforizwn, "durch haufiges Gebet die innige Reinheit festzustellen sucht," J. Rupp. The Latin fails to give the full force, "ex convenientia quadam munditiam animi in orationum studio constituit:" sxolh is abundant time from the business of life.

45 kreittwn, k. t. l., "melius" (Livineius), not "validior."

46 ilun, a better reading than ulhn. Cf. Ps. lxix. 2, "the mire of depth" (ilun buqou).

47 ouden outw th fusei feukton estin, wj k. t. l. Both Livineius and Galesinius have missed the meaning here. Jac. Billius has rightly interpreted, "Nihil natura tam turpe ac fugiendum est, quin, si," &c.

48 epi ta anw, Reg. Cod., better than to.

49 Reading frontizontaj, with Reg. Cod.

50 S. Matt. xxii. 37.

51 1 Cor. vii. 32 (R.V.).

52 toij duskolwtatoij; better than to take this as a neuter.

53 anaisqhtwj exontwn; Reg. Cod.

54 augazein; intrans. in N. T.

55 Ps. cxvi. 11.

56 ouxi tw misei thj alhqeiaj alla th asqeneia thj dihghsewj, the reading of Codd. Vatican & Reg.

57 oude to arxetupon, k. t. l.

58 These are evidently the elements of beauty as then recognized by the eye; it is still the Hellenic standard.

59 Ps. lv. 6.

60 Cf. Augustine, Tract. 6 in Joann.: "Columba fel non habet. Simon habebat; ideo separatus est a columbae visceribus." Aristotle asserts the contrary; but even Galen denies that it possesses a bladder (lib. de atr. bil. sub fin.).

61 diattontaj, corrected by Livineius, the transcriber of the Vatican ms., for diatattontaj. Cf. Arist. Meteor. I. iv: kai omoiwj kata platoj kai baqoj oi dokountej asterej diattein ginontai: and, in the same chapter, diaqeontej asterej. Cf. Seneca. Nat. Quaest. iii. 14: "Videmus ergo `Stellarum longos a tergo albescere tractus.

0' Haec velut stellae exsiliunt et transvolant." This and much else, in the preceding and following notes to this treatise, is taken from those of Fronto Ducaeus, printed in the Paris Edit. The Paris Editors, Fronto Ducaeus and Claude Morell, used Livineius' edition (1574) of this treatise, which is based on the Vatican Cod. and Bricman's (of Cologne); and they corrected from the Cod. of F. Morell, Regius Professor of Theology; and from the Cod. Regius.

62 S. Matt. xiii. 43.

63 S. John ix. 5; John i. 9.

64 ta en tw ouranw thlaugwj kaqoratai. The same word in S. Mark viii. 25 ("clearly") evidently refers to the second stage of recovered sight, the power of seeing the perspective. The mss. reading is en tw agiw, for which aeri and hliw have been conjectured: ouranw is due to Galesinius; there is a similar place in Dio Chrys. (de regno eg tyrann.): "impaired sight," he says, "cannot see even what is quite close, ugiej de ousa mexrij ouranou te kai asterwn ecikneitai, i.e. the distant sky. Just above, aporruyamenw (purged) is a better reading than aporriyamenw, and supported by F. Morell's ms.

65 monwj.

66 Gen. v. 24; Gen. vi. 9.

67 Gen. i. 27.

68 upenantiwj; i.e. even as a sub-contrary.

69 argein.

70 skotouj energeian.

71 1 Tim. iv. 4;Gen. i. 31.

72 katemelanqh.

73 Cf. Prov. xx. 6. mega anqrwpoj; and Ambrose (de obitu T eodosii), "Magnum et honorabile est homo misericors;" and the same on Ps. cxix. 73, "Grande homo, et preciosum vir misericors, et vere magnus est, qui divini operis interpres est, et imitator Dei."

74 thj politeiaj: used in the same sense in "On Pilgrimages."

75 S. Luke xvii. 21.

76 o logoj, i.e. Scripture. So to logion in Gregory passim, and Clement. Alex. (Siromata).

77 S. Luke xv. 8.

78 nun.

79 eneshmhnato <\[_th draxmh.

80 Rom. vi. 13.

81 Gen. iv. 1.

82 Gen. iii. 16.

83 Philip. i. 23.

84 2 Cor. iv. 2.

85 Gen. ii. 17.

86 2 Cor. xii. 4.