Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 10: 30.01.27 Death of Brother Bk II Pt 3

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 10: 30.01.27 Death of Brother Bk II Pt 3

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 10 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 30.01.27 Death of Brother Bk II Pt 3

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91. So, then, man rose because man died; man was raised again, but God raised him. Then it was man according to the Flesh, now God is all in all.hyperlink For now we know not Christ according to the flesh,hyperlink but we possess the grace of that Flesh, so that we know Him the firstfruits of them that rest,hyperlink the firstborn of the dead.hyperlink Now the first-fruits are undoubtedly of the same nature and kind as the remaining fruits, the first of which are offered to God as a petition for a richer increase, as a holy thank-offering for all gifts, and as a kind of libation of that nature which has been restored. Christ, then, is the firstfruits of them that rest. But is this of His own who are at rest, who, as it were, freed from death, are holden by a kind of sweet slumber, or of all those who are dead? "As in Christ all die, so too in Christ shall all be made alive."hyperlink So, then, as the firstfruits of death were in Adam, so also the firstfruits of the resurrection are in Christ.

92. All men rise again, but let no one lose heart, and let not the just grieve at the common lot of rising again, since he awaits the chief fruit of his virtue. All indeed shall rise again,hyperlink but, as says the Apostle, "each in his own order." The fruit of the Divine Mercy is common to all, but the order of merit differs. The day gives light to all, the sun warms all, the rain fertilises the possessions of all with genial showers.

93. We are all born, and we shall all rise again, but in each state, whether of living or of living again, grace differs and the condition differs. For, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, the dead shall rise incorruptible and we shall be changed."hyperlink Moreover, in death itself some rest, and some live. Rest is good, but life is better. And so the Apostle rouses him that is resting to life, saying: "Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."hyperlink Therefore he is aroused that he may live, that he may be like to Paul, that he may be able to say: "For we that are alive shall not prevent those that are asleep."hyperlink He speaks not here of the common manner of life, and the breath which we all alike enjoy, but of the merit of the resurrection. For, having said, "And the dead which are in Christ shall rise first," he adds further; "And we that are alive shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet Christ in the air."hyperlink

94. Paul certainly is dead, and by his honourable passion exchanged the life of the body for everlasting glory; did he then deceive himself when he wrote that he should be caught up alive in the clouds to meet Christ? We read the same too of Enochhyperlink and of Elijah,hyperlink and thou too shalt be caught up in the Spirit. Lo the chariot of Elijah, lo the fire, though not seen are prepared, that the just may ascend, the innocent be borne forth, and thy life may not know death. For indeed the apostles knew not death, according to that which was said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, many of those standing here shall not taste death until they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom."hyperlink For he lives, who has nothing in him which can die, who has not from Egypt any shoe or bond, but has put it off before laying aside the service of this body. And so not Enoch alone is alive, for not he alone was caught up; Paul also was caught up to meet Christ.

95. The patriarchs also live, for God could not be called the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, except the dead were living; for He is not the God of the dead but of the living.hyperlink And we, too, shall live if we be willing to copy the deeds and habits of our predecessors. We are astonished at the rewards of the patriarchs, let us copy their faithfulness; we tell of their grace, let us follow their obedience; let us not, enticed by appetite, fall into the snares of the world. Let us lay hold of the opportunity, of the commandment of the Law, the mercy of our vocation, the desire of suffering. The patriarchs went forth from their own land, let us go forth in purpose from the power of the body; let us go forth in purpose as they in exile; but they esteemed that not to be exile which the fear of God caused, necessity did not enforce. They changed their land for another soil, let us change earth for heaven; they changed in earthly habitation, let us change in spirit. To them Wisdom showed the heaven illuminated with stars,hyperlink let it enlighten the eyes of our heart. Thus does the type agree with the truth, and the truth with the type.

96. Abraham, ready to receive strangers, faithful towards God, devoted in ministering, quick in his service, saw the Trinity in a type;hyperlink he added religious duty to hospitality, when beholding Three he worshipped One, and preserving the distinction of the Persons, yet addressed one Lord, he offered to Three the honour of his gift, while acknowledging one Power. It was not learning but grace which spoke in him, and he believed better what he had not learnt than we who have learnt. No one had falsified the representation of the truth, and so he sees Three, but worships the Unity. He brings forth three measures of fine meal, and slays one victim,hyperlink considering that one sacrifice is sufficient, but a triple gift; one victim, an offering of three. And in the four kings,hyperlink who does not understand that he subjected to himself the elements of the material creation, and all earthly things in a sign whereby the Lord's Passion was prefigured? Faithful in war, moderate in his triumph, in that he preferred not to become richer by the gifts of men, but by those of God.

97. He believed that he when old could beget a son,hyperlink and judged himself when a father able to sacrifice his son; nor did his fatherly affection tremble when duty aided the right hand of the old man,hyperlink for he knew that his son would be more acceptable to God when sacrificed than when whole. Therefore he brings his well-beloved son to be sacrificed, and offered promptly him whom he had received late; nor is he restrained by being called by the name of father, when his son called him "Father," and he replied, "My son." Dear pledges of love are these names, but the commands of God are loved still more. And so although their hearts felt for each other, their purpose remained firm. The father's hand stretched out the knife over his son, and the father's heart struck the blow that the sentence might not fail of being carried out; he feared lest the stroke should miss, lest his right hand should fail. He felt the movings of fatherly affection, but did not shrink from the work of submission, and hastened his obedience, even when he heard the voice from heaven. Let us then set God before all those whom we love, father, brother, mother, that He may preserve for us those whom we love, as in the case of Abraham we behold rather the liberal Rewarder than the servant.

98. The father offered indeed his son, but God is appeased not by blood but by dutiful obedience. He showed the ram in the thickethyperlink in the stead of the lad, that He might restore the son to his father, and yet the victim not fail the priest. And so Abraham was not stained with his son's blood, nor was God deprived of the sacrifice. The prophet spoke, and neither yielded to boastfulness nor continued obstinate, but took the ram in exchange for the lad. And by this is shown the more how piously he offered him whom he now so gladly received back. And thou, if thou offer thy gift to God, dost not lose it. But we are tenacious of our own; God gave His only Son for us,hyperlink we refuse ours. Abraham saw this and recognized the mystery, that salvation should be to us from the Tree, nor did it escape his notice that in one and the same sacrifice it was One that seemed to be offered, Another which could be slain.

99. Let us, then, imitate the devotion of Abraham, let us imitate the goodness of Isaac, let us imitate his purity. The man was plainly good and chaste, full of devotion towards God, chaste towards his wife. He returned not evil for evil, yielded to those who would thrust him out, received them again on their repentance, neither violent towards insolence, nor stubborn towards kindness. Fleeing from strife when he went away from others, ready to forgive when he received them again, and still more lavish of goodness when he forgave them. The fellowship of his company was sought, he gave in addition a feast of pleasure.

100. In Jacob, too, let us imitate the type of Christ, let there be some likeness of his actions in ourselves. We shall have our share with him, if we imitate him. He was obedient to his mother, he yielded to his brother, he served his father-in-law, he sought his wages from the increase, not from a division of the flocks. There was no covetous division, where his portion brought such gain. Nor was that sign without a purpose, the ladder from earth to heaven,hyperlink wherein was seen the future fellowship between men and angels through the cross of Christ, whose thigh was paralyzed,hyperlink that in his thigh he might recognize the Heir of his body, and foretell by the paralyzing of his thigh the Passion of his Heir.

101. We see, then, that heaven is open to virtue, and that this is the privilege not only of a few: "For many shall come from the east dud from the west, and the north and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God,"hyperlink giving expression to the enjoyment of perpetual rest since the motions of their souls are stilled. Let us follow Abraham in our habits, that he may receive us into his bosom, and cherish us with loving embrace, like Lazarus the inheritor of his humility surrounded by his own special virtues. The followers of the holy patriarch, approved of God, cherish us not in a bodily bosom, but in a clothing as it were of good works. "Be not deceived," says the Apostle, "God is not mocked."hyperlink

102. We have seen, then, how grave an offence it is not to believe the resurrection; for if we rise not again, then Christ died in vain, then Christ rose not again.hyperlink For if He rose not for us, He certainly rose not at all, for He had no need to rise for Himself. The universe rose again in Him, the heaven rose again in Him, the earth rose again in Him, for there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.hyperlink But where was the necessity of a resurrection for Him Whom the claims of death held not? For though He died as man, yet was He free in hell itself.

103. Wilt thou know how free? "I am become as a man that hath no help, free among the dead."hyperlink And well is He called free, Who had power to raise Himself, according to that which is written: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."hyperlink And well is He called free, Who had descended to rescue others. For He was made as a man, not, indeed, in appearance only, but so fashioned in truth, for He is man, and who shall know Him? For, "being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death,"hyperlink in order that through that obedience we might see His glory, "the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father,"hyperlink according to Saint John. For thus is the statement of Scripture preserved, if both the glory of the Only-begotten and the nature of perfect man are preserved in Christ.

104. And so He needed no helper. For He needed none when He made the world, so as to need none when He would redeem it. No legate, no messenger, but the Lord Himself made it whole. "He spake and it was done."hyperlink The Lord Himself made it whole, Himself in every part, because all things were by Him. For who should help Him in Whom all things were created and by Whom all things consist?hyperlink Who should help Him Who makes all things in a moment, and raises the dead at the last trump?hyperlink The "last," not as though He could not raise them at the first, or the second, or the third, but an order is observed, not that a difficulty may be at last overcome, but that the prescribed number be accomplished.

105. But it is now time, I think, to speak of the trumpets since my discourse is nearing its end, that the trumpet may also be the sign of the finishing of my address. We read of seven trumpets in the Revelation of John, which seven angels received.hyperlink And there you read that when the seventh angel sounded his trumpet, there was a great voice from heaven, saying: "The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever."hyperlink The word trumpet is also used for a voice, as you read: "Behold a door opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, as of a trumpet speaking with me and saying, Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must come to pass."hyperlink We read also: "Blow up the trumpet at the beginning of the month [the new moon];hyperlink and again elsewhere: "Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet."hyperlink

106. Therefore we ought with all our power to observe what is the signification of the trumpets, lest, accepting them, like old women, as part of the story, we should be in danger if we were to think things unworthy of spiritual teaching, or not befitting the dignity of the Scriptures. For when we read that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual hosts of wickedness, which are in high places,hyperlink we ought not to think of weapons of the flesh, but of such as are mighty before God.hyperlink It is not enough that one see the trumpet or hear its sound, unless one understands the signification of the sound. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, how shall one prepare himself for war?hyperlink Wherefore it is important that we understand the meaning of the voice of the trumpet, lest we seem barbarians, when we either hear or utter trumpet-sounds of this sort. And therefore when we speak, let us pray that the Holy Spirit would interpret them to us.

107. Let us, then, investigate what we read in the Old Testament concerning the kinds of trumpets, considering that those festivals which were enjoined on the Jews by the Law are the shadow of joys above and of heavenly festivals. For here is the shadow, there the truth. Let us endeavour to attain to the truth by means of the shadow. Of which truth the figure is expressed in this manner, where we read that the Lord said to Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a rest unto you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, it shall be called holy unto you. Ye shall not do any servile work, and ye shall kindle a whole burnt-offering unto the Lord."hyperlink And in the Book of Numbers: "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Make thee two trumpets of beaten work, of silver shalt thou make them, and they shall be to thee for calling the assembly and for the journeying of the camp. And thou shalt blow with them, and all the congregation shall be gathered together at the door of the tabernacle of witness. But if thou blow with one trumpet, all the princes and leaders of Israel shall come to thee; and ye shall blow a signal with the trumpet the first time, and they shall move the camp forward, and place it on the east. And ye shall blow a signal with the trumpet the second time, and they shall move the camp forward, and place it towards Libanus. And ye shall blow a signal with the trumpet the third time, and they shall move the camp forward, which shall be placed towards the north [Boream]. And ye shall blow a signal with the trumpet the fourth time, and they shall move the camp forward, which shall be placed towards the north [Aquilonem]. They shall blow a signal with the trumpet when they move forward. And when ye shall gather together the assembly, blow with the trumpet, but not the signal. And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets, and it shall be for you a statute for ever throughout your generations. But if ye shall go out to war into your own land, against the adversaries who resist you, ye shall sound a signal with the trumpets and ye shall be remembered before the Lord. and have deliverance from your dead. Also in the days of your gladness, and on your feast days, and on your new moons, ye shall blow with the trumpets, and at your whole burnt sacrifices and at your peace-offerings, and it shall be for you for your memorial before the Lord, saith the Lord."hyperlink hyperlink

108. What then? shall we esteem festival days by eating and drinking? But let no man judge us in respect of eating; "for we know that the Law is spiritual."hyperlink "Let no man therefore judge us in any meats or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or new moons, or a sabbath day, which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ."hyperlink Let us, then, seek the body of Christ which the voice of the Father, from heaven, as it were the last trumpet, has shown to you at the time when the Jews said that it thundered;hyperlink the body of Christ, which again the last trump shall reveal; for "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven at the voice of the Archangel, and at the trump of God, and they that are dead in Christ shall rise again;"hyperlink for "where the body is, there too are the eagles,"hyperlink where the body of Christ is, there is the truth.

108. The seventh trumpet, then, seems to signify the sabbath of the week, which is reckoned not only in days and years and periods (for which reason the number of the jubilee is sacred), but includes also the seventieth year, when the people returned to Jerusalem, who had remained seventy years in captivity. In hundreds also and in thousands the observation of the sacred number is by no means passed over, for not without a meaning did the Lord say: "I have left the seven thousand men, who have not bent their knees before Baal."hyperlink Therefore the shadow of the future rest is figured in time in the days, months, and years of this world, and therefore the children of Israel are commanded by Moses, that in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, a rest should be established for all at the "memorial of the trumpets;" and that no servile work should be done, but a sacrifice be offered to God, because that at the end of the week, as it were the sabbath of the world, spiritual and not bodily work is required of us. For that which is bodily is servile, for the body serves the soul, but innocence makes free, guilt reduces to slavery.

109. It was necessary, then, that spiritual things should be made known as in a mirror and in a riddle; "For now we see by means of a mirror, but then face to face."hyperlink Now we war after the flesh, then in the Spirit we shall see the divine mysteries. Let, then, the character of the true law be expressed in our manner of life, who walk in the image of God, for the shadow of the Law has now passed away. The carnal Jews had the shadow, the likeness is ours, the reality theirs who shall rise again. For we know that according to the Law there are these three, the shadow, the image or likeness, and the reality; the shadow in the Law, the image in the Gospel, the truth in the judgment. But all is Christ's, and all is in Christ, Whom now we cannot see according to the reality, but we see Him, as it were, in a kind of likeness of future things, of which we have seen the shadow in the Law. So, then, Christ is not the shadow but the likeness of God, not an empty likeness but the reality. And so the Law was by Moses, for the shadow was through man, the likeness was through the Law, the reality through Jesus. For reality cannot proceed from any other source than from reality.

110. If, then, any one desires to see this Image of God, he must love God, that he may be loved by God; and be no longer a servant but a friend, because he has kept the commandments of God, that he may enter into the cloud where God is.hyperlink Let him make to himself two reasonable trumpets of beaten work of proved silver, that is, composed of precious words and adorned, from which not a harsh shrill sound with dread-inspiring voice may be uttered, but high thanks to God may be poured forth with continuous exultation. For by the voice of such trumpets the dead are raised, not indeed by the sound of the metal, but aroused by the word of truth. And perchance it is those two trumpets by which Paul, through the Divine Spirit, spake when he said: "I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding, I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding;"hyperlink for the one without the other seems by no means to have perfect utterance.

111. Yet it is not every one's business to sound each trumpet, nor every one's business to call together the whole assembly, but that prerogative is granted to the priests alone,hyperlink and the ministers of God who sound the trumpets, so that whosoever shall hear and follow thither where the glory of the Lord is, and shall with early determination come to the tabernacle of witness, may be able also to see the divine works, and merit that appointed and eternal home for the entire succession of his posterity. For then is the war finished and the enemy put to flight, when the grace of the Spirit and the energy of the soul act together.

112. And these are salutary trumpets also, if one believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth; "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."hyperlink For with this twofold trumpet man arrives at that holy land, namely, the grace of the resurrection. Let them, then, ever sound to thee, that thou mayest ever hear the voice of God; may the utterances of the Angels and Prophets ever incite and move thee, that thou mayest hasten to things above.

113. David was thinking of this purpose in his breast when he said: "For I will pass into the place of the marvellous tabernacle, even to the house of God, with the voice of exultation and thanksgiving, the sound of one that feasts."hyperlink For not only are enemies overcome by the sound of these trumpets; but without them there could not be rejoicings, and festivals or new moons. For no one, unless he have received the promises of the Divine Word, and believes the message derived therefrom, can keep festivals or new moons, in which he desires to fill himself, freed from bodily pleasure and secular occupation, with the light of Christ. And sacrifices themselves cannot be pleasing to Christ unless confession of the mouth accompanies them, which according to custom stirs up the people to implore the grace of God at the priestly oblation.

114. Let us therefore be preachers of the Lord, and praise Him in the sound of the trumpet,hyperlink not thinking little or lightly of its power, but such things as can fill the ear of the mind, and enter into the depths of our inmost consciousness, so that we think not that what suits to the body is to be applied to the Godhead, nor measure the greatness of Divine Power by human might, so as to enquire how any one can rise again, or with what kind of body he will come, or how that which has been dissolved can again coalesce, and what is lost be restored, for all these things are accomplished as soon as they are determined by the Divine Will. And it is not a sound of a trumpet distinguishable by the bodily senses which is expected, but the invisible power of the Majesty of heaven operates; for with God to will is to do; nor need we enquire into the force required for the resurrection, but seek its fruit for ourselves. Which will be accomplished all the more easily, if freed from faults we attain to the fulness of the spiritual mystery, and the renewed flesh receives grace from the Spirit, and the soul obtains from Christ the brightness of eterna1 light.

115. But those mysteries pertain not to individuals only, but to the whole human race. For observe the order of grace according to the type of the Law. When the first trumpet sounds, it collects those towards the east, as the chief and elect; when the second sounds, those nearly equal in merit, who, being placed towards Libanus, have abandoned the follies of the nations; when the third, those who as it were, tossed on the sea of this world, have been driven hither and thither by the waves of this life; when the fourth, those who have by no means been able sufficiently to soften the hardness of their hearts by the commandments of spiritual utterance, and therefore are said to be towards the north-for, according to Solomon, the north is a hard wind.hyperlink

116. And so although all are raised again in a moment, yet all are raised in the order of their merits. And therefore they rise first, who yielding early to the impulses of devotion, and as it were going forth before the rising dawn of faith, received the rays of the eternal Sun. This one may rightly say either of the patriarchs in the course of the Old Testament, or of the apostles under the Gospel. And the second are they who, forsaking the rites of the Gentiles, passed from unholy error under the training of the Church. So, then, those first were of the fathers, those second of the Gentiles, for the light of faith took its beginning from those, among these it will remain to the end of the world. In the third place and in the fourth, those are raised who are in the south and in the north. The earth is divided into these four, of these four is the year made up, in these four is the earth completed, and from these four is the Church collected. For all who are considered to be joined to holy Church, by being called by the Divine Name, shall obtain the privilege of the resurrection and he grace of eternal bliss, for "they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."hyperlink

117. For it is no small light wherewith Christ encompasses His world: since "His going forth is from the height of heaven, and His progress to the height thereof, nor is there any who can hide himself from His heat."hyperlink For with His Goodness He enlightens all, and wills not to reject but to amend the foolish, and desires not to exclude the hard-hearted from the Church, but to soften them. And so the Church in the Song of Songs and Christ in the Gospel invites them, saying: "Come unto Me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you; take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart."hyperlink

118. And you may recognize also the voice of the invitation of the Church, for she says: "Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south, blow upon my garden, and let my ointment flow forth. Let my brother come down into his garden and eat the fruit of his precious trees."hyperlink For knowing even then, O holy Church, that from those also there would be fruitful works for thee, thou didst promise to thy Christ fruit from such as they, thou who didst first say that thou wast brought into the King's chamber. loving His breast above wine, since thou lovedst Him Who loved thee, soughtest Him Who fed thee, and didst despise dangers for religion's sake.

119. And then, O Bride, thou art called to come from Libanus, being in the Lord's judgment all fair and without fault. For thus it is written: "Thou art all fair, my love, and there is no fault in thee. Come hither from Libanus, my bride, come hither from Libanus."hyperlink

120. Afterwards, thou, fearing no rushing waters, no torrents coming down from Libanus, callest the north and south winds, wishing them to blow upon thy garden, that thy ointment may flow forth upon others, and that thou mayest offer to Christ in others the manifold fruits of thy productiveness.

121. And therefore "blessed is he who keepeth the words of this prophecy,"hyperlink which has revealed the resurrection to us by clearer testimony, saying: "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and they opened the books; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and hell gave up the dead which were in it."hyperlink We must, then, not question how they shall rise again, whom hell gives up and the sea restores.

122. Hear also when the future grace of the just is promised: "And I heard," he says, "a great voice from the throne saying: Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be their God with them: and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more."hyperlink

123. Compare now, if you will, and contrast this life with that; and choose, if you then can, unending bodily existence in toil, and in the wretched misery of such changes as we endure, in satiety when we have our wishes, in that disgust which attends our pleasures. If God were willing to let these last for ever, would you choose them? For if on its own account life is to be escaped from, that there may be an avoidance of troubles and rest from miseries, how much more is that rest to be sought for, which shall be followed by the eternal pleasure of the resurrection to come, where there is no succession of faults, no enticement to sin?

124. Who is so patient in suffering as not to pray for death? who has such endurance in weakness as not to wish rather to die than to live in debility? Who is so brave in sorrow as not to desire to escape from it even by death? But if we ourselves are dissatisfied while life lasts, although we know that a limit is fixed for it, how much more weary should we become of this life if we saw that the troubles of the body would be with us without end! For who is there who would wish to be excepted from death? Or what would be more unendurable than a miserable immortality? "If in this life only," he says, "we hope in Christ, we are more miserable than all men;"hyperlink not because to hope in Christ is miserable, but because Christ has prepared another life for those who hope in Him. For this life is liable to sin, that life is reserved for the reward.

124. And how much weariness do we find that the short stages of our lives bring us! The boy longs to be a young man; the youth counts the years leading to riper age; the young man, unthankful for the advantage of his vigorous time of life, desires the honour of old age. And so to all there comes naturally the desire of change, because we are dissatisfied with that which we now are. And lastly, even the things we have desired are wearisome to us; and what we have wished to obtain, when we have obtained it, we dislike.

125. Wherefore holy men have not without reason often lamented their lengthy dwelling here: Davidhyperlink lamented it, Jeremiahhyperlink lamented it, and Elijahhyperlink lamented it. If we believe wise men, and those in whom the Divine Spirit dwelt, they were hastening to better things; and if we enquire as to the judgment of others, that we may ascertain that all agree in one opinion, what great men have preferred death to sorrow, what great men have preferred it to fear! esteeming forsooth the fear of death to be worse than death itself. So death is not feared on account of evils which belong to it, but is preferred to the miseries of life, since the departure of the dying is desired and the dread of the living is avoided.

126. So be it, then. Granted that the Resurrection is preferable to this life. What! have philosophershyperlink themselves found anything with which we should have a greater delight to continue than to rise again? Even those indeed who say that souls are immortal do not satisfy me, seeing they only allow me a partial redemption. What grace can that be by which I am not wholly benefited? What life is that if the operation of God dies out in me? What righteousness is that which, if death is the end of natural existence. is common to the sinner and the just? What is that truth, that the soul should be considered immortal, because it moves itself and is always in motion? As regards that which in the body is common to us with beasts, it is perhaps uncertain what happens before the body exists, and the truth is not to be gathered from these differences but destroyed.

127. But is their opinion preferable, whohyperlink say that our souls, when they have passed out of these bodies, migrate into the bodies of beasts, or of various other living creatures? Philosophers, indeed, themselves are wont to argue that these are ridiculous fancies of poets, such as might be produced by draughts of the drugs of Circe;hyperlink and they say that not so much they who are represented to have undergone such things, as the senses of those who have invented such tales are changed into the forms of various beasts as it were by Circe's cup. For what is so like a marvel as to believe that men could have been changed into the forms of beasts? How much greater a marvel, however, would it be that the soul which rules man should take on itself the nature of a beast so opposed to that of man, and being capable of reason should be able to pass over to an irrational animal, than that the form of the body should have been changed? You yourselves, who teach these things, destroy what you teach. For you have given up the production of these portentous conversions by means of magic incantations.

128. Poets say these things in sport, and philosophers blame them and at the same time they imagine that those very things are true of the dead which they consider fictitious as regards the living. For they who invented such tales did not intend to assert the truth of their own fable, but to deride the errors of philosophers, who think that that same soul which was accustomed to overcome anger by gentle and lowly purpose, can now, inflamed by the raging impulses of a lion, impatient with anger and with unbridled rage, thirst for blood and seek for slaughter. Or again, that that soul, which as it were by royal counsel used to moderate the various storms of the people, and to calm them with the voice of reason, can now endure to howl in pathless and desert places after the fashion of a wolf; or that that soul which, groaning under a heavy burden, used to low in sad complaint over the labours of the plough, now changed into the fashion of a man, seeks for horns on his smooth brow;hyperlink or that another, which used of old to be borne aloft on rapid wing to the heights of heaven, now thinks of flighthyperlink no longer in its power, and mourns that it grows sluggish in the weight of a human body.

129. Perchance you destroyed Icarushyperlink through some such teaching, because the youth, led on by your persuasion, imagined, it may be, that he had been a bird. By such means too have many old men been deceived so as to submit to grievous pain, having unhappily believed the fables about swans, and thought that they, whilst soothing their pain with mournful strains, would be able to transmute their gray hair into downy feathers.

130. How incredible are these things! how odious! How much more fitting is it to believe in accordance with nature, in accordance with what takes place in every kind of fruit; to believe in accordance with the pattern of what has happened, in accordance with the utterances of prophets, and the heavenly promise of Christ 2 For what is better than to be sure that the work of God does not perish, and that those who are made in the image and likeness of God cannot be transformed into the shapes of beasts; since in truth it is not the form of the body but of the spirit which is made after the likeness of God. For in what manner could man, to whom are subjected the other kinds of living creatures, migrate with the better part of himself into an animal subjected to himself? Nature does not suffer this, and if nature did grace would not.

131. But I have seen what you, Gentiles, think of each other, and indeed it ought not to seem strange that you who worship beasts should believe that you can be changed into beasts. But I had rather that you judged better concerning what is due to you, that you may believe that you will be not in the company of wild beasts, but in the companionship of angels.

132. The soul has to depart from the surroundings of this life, and the pollutions of the earthly body, and to press on to those heavenly companies, though it is for the saints alone, to attain to them, and to sing praise to God (as in the prophet's words we hear of those who are harpinghyperlink and saying: "For great are Thy marvellous works, O Lord God Almighty, just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations; who shall not fear and magnify Thy Name, for Thou only art holy, for all nations shall come and worship before Thee"),hyperlink and to see Thy marriage feast, O Lord Jesus, in which the Bride is led from earthly to heavenly things, while all rejoice in harmony, for "to Thee shall all flesh come,"hyperlink now no longer subject to transitory things, but joined to the Spirit, to see the chambers adorned with linen, roses, lilies, and garlands. Of whom else is the marriage so adorned? For it is adorned with the purple stripes of confessors, the blood of martyrs, the lilies of virgins, and the crowns of priests.

133. Holy David desired beyond all else for himself that he might behold and gaze upon this, for he says: "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and see the pleasure of the Lord."hyperlink

134. It is a pleasure to believe this, a joy to hope for it; and certainly, not to have believed it is a pain, to have lived in this hope a grace. But if I am mistaken in this, that I prefer to be associated after death with angels rather than with beasts, I am gladly mistaken, and so long as I live will never suffer myself to be cheated of this hope.

135. For what comfort have I left but that I hope to come quickly to thee, my brother, and that thy departure will not cause a longseverance between us, and that it may be granted me, through thy intercessions, that thou mayest quickly call me who long for thee. For who is there who ought not to wish for himself beyond all else that "this corruptible should put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality"?hyperlink that we who succumb to death through the frailty of the body, being raised above nature, may no longer have to fear death.


93 1 Cor. xv. 28.

94 2 Cor. v. 16.

95 1 Cor. xv. 23.

96 Col. i. 18.

97 1 Cor. xv. 22.

98 1 Cor. xv. 23.

99 1 Cor. xv. 52.

100 Eph. v. 14.

101 1 Thess. iv. 14.

102 1 Thess. iv. 17.

103 Gen. v. 24.

104 2 [4] Kings ii. 11.

105 S. Matt. xvi. 28.

106 S. Luke xx. 38.

107 Gen. xv. 5.

108 Gen. xviii. 2.

109 Gen. xv. 6 ff.

110 Gen. xiv.

111 Gen. xv. 6.

112 Gen. xxii. 11.

113 Gen. xxii. 13.

114 Rom. viii. 32.

115 Gen. xxviii. 12.

116 Gen. xxxii. 25.

117 S. Matt. viii. 11.

118 Gal. vi. 7.

119 1 Cor. xv. 13.

120 Rev. xxi. 1.

121 Ps. lxxxviii. [lxxxvii.] 4, Ps. lxxxviii. [lxxxvii.] 5.

122 S. John ii. 19.

123 Phil. ii 7, Phil. ii. 8.

124 S. John i. 14.

125 Ps. xxxiii. [xxxii.] 9.

126 Col. i. 17.

127 1 Cor. xv. 52.

128 Rev. viii. 2.

129 Rev. xi. 15.

130 Rev. iv. 1.

131 Ps. lxxxi. [lxxx.] 3.

132 Ps. cl. 3.

133 Eph. vi. 12.

134 2 Cor. x. 4.

135 1 Cor. xiv. 8.

136 Lev. xxiii. 24, Lev. xxiii. 25.

137 Num. x. 1-10.

138 St. Ambrose translates the Septuagint as usual, but there are some variations. Probably Libanus is a copyist's mistake for Liba [Liba] the W.S.W. wind. So, too, Boream perhaps should be mare [paraqalassan]. In ch. 115, St. Ambrose in explaining the third trumpet speaks of the sea. The third and fourth trumpets are not mentioned except in the Septuagint, and it may be noticed that St. Ambrose changes the description of the positions of the camps [paremballousai], consttuta, into a direction, constituentur.

139 Rom. vii. 14.

140 Col. ii. 16.

141 S. S. John xii. 29.

142 1 Thess. iv. 16.

143 S. Luke xvii. 37.

144 1 [3] Kings xix. 18.

145 1 Cor. xiii. 12.

146 Ex. xxiv. 15.

147 1 Cor. xiv. 15.

148 Num. x. 8.

149 Rom. x. 10.

150 Ps. xlii. [xli.] 4 [LXX.].

151 Ps. cl. 3.

152 Prov. xxvii. 16 [LXX.].

153 S. Luke xiii. 26.

154 Ps. xix. [xviii.] 6.

155 S. Matt. xii. 28, Matt. xii. 29.

156 Cant. iv. 16.

157 Cant. iv. 7, Cant. iv. 8.

158 Rev. xxi. 7.

159 Rev. xx. 12, Rev. xx. 13.

160 Rev. xxi. 3.

161 1 Cor. xv. 19.

162 Ps. cxx. [cxix.] 5.

163 Jer. xx. 18.

164 1 Kings xix. 4.

165 Cicero, Tusc. Disp. I.; Plato, Phoeado.

166 From the Egyptians this opinion seems to have passed on to Pythagoras and Plato.

167 Ovid, Metamorph. XIV. 1.

168 Verg. Ecl. VI. 51.

169 Ovid, Metam. II. 4.

170 Metam. VIII. 3.

171 Rev. xiv. 2.

172 Rev. xv. 3, Rev. xv. 4.

173 Ps. lxv. [lxiv.] 3.

174 Ps. xxvii. [xxvi.] 4.

175 1 Cor. xv. 53.