Sermon LXVII. (on the Passion, XVI.: Delivered on the Sunday.)
I. The Contemplation of the Prophecies of Christ's Suffering are a Great Source of Pious Delight.
The minds of the faithful, beloved, ought indeed always to be occupied with wonder atGod's works and their reasoning faculties devoted particularly to those reflexions by which they may gain increase of faith. For so long as the pious heart's attention is directed either to the benefits which all enjoy, or to special gifts of His grace, it keeps aloof from many vanities and retires from bodily cares into a spiritual seclusion. But this must be the more eagerly and thoroughly done at the season of the Lord Passion, that what is then read in the sacred lections may surely be received with the ears of understanding, and that the themes which are great in word may be seen to be yet greater from the mysterious realities which underlie them. For the first reason for our lifting up our heartshyperlink is that the voices of the prophets have sung of the things which the truth of the Gospel has also narrated, not as destined to happen, but as having happened, and that what man's ears had not yet learnt was to be accomplished, was already being proclaimed as fulfilled by the (Holyhyperlink ) Spirit. For King David, whose seed according to the flesh is Christ, completed his lifetime more than 1,100hyperlink years before the day of the Lord's Crucifixion, and endured none of those punishments which he relates as inflicted upon himself. But because by his mouth One spoke Who was to take suffering flesh of his stock, the story of the cross is tightly anticipated in the person of him who was the bodily ancestor of the Saviour. For David truly suffered in Christ, because Jesus was truly crucified in the flesh which He had from David.
II. The Divine Foreknowledge Does Not Account for the Jews'wickedness So as to Excuse Them.
Since then all things which Jewish ungodliness committed against the Lord of Majesty were foretold so long beforehyperlink , and the language of the prophets is concerned not so much with things to come as with things last, what else is thereby revealed to us but the unchangeable order of God's eternal decrees, with Whom the things which are to be decided are already determined, and what will be is already accomplished? For since both the character of our actions and the fulfilment of all our wishes are fore-known to God,. how much better known to Him are His own works? And He was rightly pleased that things should be recorded as if done which nothing could hinder from being done. And hence when the Apostles also, being full of the Holy Ghost, suffered the threats and cruelty of Christ's enemies, they said to God with one consent, "For truly in this city against Thy holy Servant Jesus, Whom Thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel were gathered together to do what Thy hand and Thy counsel ordained to come to passhyperlink ." Did then the wickedness of Christ's persecutors spring from God's plan, and was that unsurpassable crime prefaced and set in motion by the hand of God? Clearly we must not think this of the highest Justice: that which was fore-known in respect of the Jews' malice is far different, indeed quite contrary to what was ordained in respect of Christ's Passion. Their desire to slay Him did not proceed from the same source as His to die: nor were their atrocious crime and the Redeemer's endurance the offspring of One Spirit. The Lord did not incite but permit those madmen's naughty hands: nor in His foreknowledge of what must be accomplished did He compel its accomplishment, even though it was in order to its accomplishment that He had taken flesh.
III. Christ Was in No Sense the Author of His Murderer's Guilt.
In fact, the case of the Crucified is so different from that of His crucifiers that what Christ undertook could not be reversed, while what they did could be wiped out. For He Who came to save sinners did not refuse mercy even to His murderers, but changed the evil of the wicked into the goodness of the believing, that God's grace might be the more wonderful, being mercifully put in force, not according to men's merits, but according to the multitude of the riches of God's wisdom anti knowledge, seeing that they also who had shed the Saviour's blood were received into the baptismal flood. For, as says the Scripture, which contains the Apostles' acts when the preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter pierced the hearts of the Jews, and they acknowledged the iniquity of their crime, saying, "what shall we do, brethren?" the same Apostle said, "Repent and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise, and to your sons, and to all that are afar off, whomsoever our Lord God has called," and soon after the Scripture goes on to say: "they therefore that received his word were baptized, and there were added on that day about 3,000 soulshyperlink ." And so, in being willing to suffer their furious rage, the Lord Jesus Christ was in no way the Author of their crimes; nor did He force them to desire this, but permitted them to be able, and used the madness of the blinded people just as He did also the treachery of His betrayer, whom by kindly acts and words He vouchsafed to recall from the awful crime he had conceived, by taking him for a disciple, by promoting him to be an apostle, by warning him with signs, by admitting him to the revelation of holy mysterieshyperlink , that one who had lacked no degree of kindness to correct him, might have no pretext for his crime at all.
IV. The Enormity Ofjudas' Crime is Set Forth.
But O ungodliest of men, "thou seed of Chanaan and not of Judahyperlink ," and no longer "a vessel of election," but "a son of perdition" and death, thou didst think the devil's instigations would profit thee better, so that, inflamed with the torch of greed, thou wert ablaze to gain 30 pieces of silver and sawest not what riches thou wouldst lose. For even if thou didst not think the Lord's promises were to be believed, what reason was there for preferring so small a sum of money to what thou hadst already received? Thou wast wont to command the evil spirits, to heal the sick, to receive honour with the rest of the apostles, and that thou mightest satisfy thy thirst for gain, it was open to thee to steal from the box that was in thy chargehyperlink . But thy mind, which lusted after forbidden things, was more strongly stimulated by that which was less allowed: and the amount of the price pleased thee not so much as the enormity of the sin. Wherefore thy wicked bargain is not so detestable merely because thou countedst the Lord sO cheap, but because thou didst sell Him Who was the Redeemer, yea, even thieve, and badst no pity on thyselfhyperlink . And justly was thy punishment put into thine own hands because none could be found more cruelly bent on thy destruction than thyself.
V. Christ's Passion Was for Our Redemption by Mysteryand Example.
The fact, therefore, that at the time appointed, according to the purpose of His will, jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried was not the doom necessary to His own condition, but the method of redeeming us from captivity. For "the Word became flesh" in order that from the Virgin's womb He might take our suffering nature, and that what could not be inflicted on the Son of God might be inflicted on the Son of Man. For although at His very birth the signs of Godhead shone forth in Him, and the whole course of His bodily growth was full of wonders, yet had He truly assumed our weaknesses, and without share in sin had spared Himself no human frailty, that He might impart what was His to us and heal what was ours in Himself. For He, the Almighty Physician, had prepared a two-fold remedy for us in our misery, of which the one part consists of mystery and the other of examplehyperlink , that by the one Divine powers may be bestowed, by the other human weaknesses driven outhyperlink . Because as God is the Author of our justification, so man is a debtor to pay Him devotion.
VI.we Can Only Attain to Christ's Perfection by Following in His Steps.
Therefore, dearly-beloved, by this unspeakable restoration of our health no place is left us for pride or for idleness: because we have nothing which we did not receivehyperlink , and we are expressly warned not to treat the gifts of God's grace with negligencehyperlink . For He that comes so timely to our aid justly urges us with precept, and He that leads us to glory mercifully incites us to obedience. Wherefore the Lord Himself is rightly made our way, because save through Christ there is no coming to Christ. But through Him and to Him does he take his way who treads the path of His endurance and humiliation, and on that road you may be sure there are not wanting the heats of toil, the clouds of sadness, the storms of fear. The snares of the wicked, the persecutions of the unbelieving, the threats of the powerful, the insults of the proud are I there; and all these things the Lord of hosts and King of glory passed through in the form of our weakness and in the likeness of sinful flesh, to the end that amid the danger of this present life we might desire not so much to avoid and escape them as to endure and overcome them.
VII. Christ Cry of "Forsaken" On the Cross Was to Teach Us the Insufficiency of the Human Nature Without the Divine.
Hence it is that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Head, representing all the members of His body in Himself, and speaking for those whom He was redeeming in the punishment of the cross, uttered that cry which He had once uttered in the psalm, "O God, My God, look upon Me: why hast Thou forsaken Mehyperlink ?" That cry, dearly-beloved, is a lesson, not a complaint. For since in Christ there is oneperson of God and man, and He could not have been forsaken by Him, from Whom He could not be separated, it is on behalf of us, trembling and weak ones, that He asks why the flesh that is afraid to suffer has not been heard. For when the Passion was beginning, to cure anti correct our weak fear He had said, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will but as Thou;" and again, "Father, if this cup cannot pass except I drink it, Thy will be donehyperlink ." As therefore He had conquered the tremblings of the flesh, and had now accepted the Father's will, and trampling all dread of death under foot, was then carrying out the work of His design, wily at the very time of His triumph over such a victory does He seek the cause and reason of His being forsaken, that is, not heard, save to show that the feeling which He entertained in excuse of His human fears is quite different from the deliberate choice which, in accordance with the Father's eternal decree, He had made for the reconciliation of the world? And thus the very cry of "Unheard" is the exposition of a mighty Mystery, because the Redeemer's power would have conferred nothing on mankind if our weakness in Him had obtained what it sought. Let these words dearly-beloved, suffice to-day, lest we burden you by the length of our discourse: let us put off the rest till Wednesday. The Lord shall hear you if you pray that we may keep our promise through the bounty of Him Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Erigendi sursum nostri cordis the liturgical allusion is the same as that noticed in Sermon LXXIV. 5, n. 6.
2 The epithet sanctus is of doubtful genuineness here.
3 This calculation is based apparently on that of Prosper's Chronicon, which again, follows that of Eusebius.
4 There is another reading here, ut (for et) non tam de futuris quam de proesentibus (for proeteritis) , &c., which the Ballerinii probably do right to reject. Trans. "foretold so long before that the language of the prophets is concerned not so much with the future as with the present."
5 Acts iv. 27, 28; it is perhaps worth noticing that Leo does not strictly follow the Biblical account in saying that the Apostle's were "full of the Holy Ghost" at the time of uttering this prayer: v. 31 says they were so filled afterwards.
6 Acts ii. 37-41.
7 Consecrando mysteriis I think he has, as so often, the institution of the Holy Eucharist especially in his mind together, of course, with other sacramental ordinances (such as Holy Baptism and matrimony) which our Saviour blessed with His sanction and made the means of holiness to His disciples.
8 Apocrypha, Hist. of Susanna, v. 56: said by Daniel to one of the two elders; cf. also Acts ix. 15, and S. John xvii. 12.
9 This last privilege which Leo, with curious sarcasm, co-ordinates with the other three is spoken of twice by S. John, viz. xii. 6, and xiii. 29.
10 Redemptorem etiam tuum ne tibi parceres, vendidisti. It seems to me that Leo's preaching power is nowhere better shown than in the passages where he draws out the heinousness of Judas' guilt: cf Sermon LVIII. chaps. 3 and 4, and Sermon LXII. chap. 4.
11 Aliud est in sacramento, aliud in exemplo, cf. Serm. LXIIL chap. 4. n. 7.
12 Exigantur: another reading perhaps more in keeping with the context and Leo's usual language is erigantur (raised): cf. Lett. XXVIII. (Tome), chap. 3, humana augens, divina non minuens, etc.
13 Cf. 1 Cor. iv. 7, and 1 Tim. iv. 14.
14 Cf. 1 Cor. iv. 7, and 1 Tim. iv. 14.
15 Ps. xxii. 1.
16 S. Matt. xxvi. 39, 42.
Sermon LXVIII. (on the Passion, XVII.: Delivered on the Wednesday.)
I. Christ's Godhead Never Forsook Him in His Passion.
The last discourse, dearly-beloved, of which we desire now to give the promised portion, had reached that point in the argument where we were speaking of that cry which the crucified Lord uttered to the Father: we bade the simple and unthinking hearer not take the words "My Con, &c.," in a sense as if, when Jesus was fixed upon the wood of the cross, the Omnipotence of the Father's Deity had gone away from Him; seeing that God's and Man's Nature were so completely joined in Him that the union could not be destroyed by punishment nor by death. For while each substance retained its own properties, God neither held aloof from the suffering of His body nor was made passible by the flesh, because the Godhead which was in the Sufferer did not actually suffer. And hence, in accordance with the Nature of the Word made Man, He Who was made in the midst of all is the same as He through Whom all things were made. He Who is arrested by the hands of wicked men is the same as He Who is bound by no limits. He Who is pierced with nails is the same as He Whom no wound can affect. Finally, He Who underwent death is the same as He Who never ceased to be eternal, so that both facts are established by indubitable signs, namely, the truth of the humiliation in Christ and the truth of the majesty; because Divine power joined itself to human frailty to this end, that God, while making what was ours His, might at the same time make what was His ours. The Son, therefore, was not separated from the Father, nor the Father from the Son; and the unchangeable Godhead and the inseparable Trinity did not admit of any division. For although the task of undergoing Incarnation belonged peculiarly to the Only-begotten Son of God, yet the Father was not separated from the Son any more than the flesh was separated from the Wordhyperlink .
II. Christ's Death Was Voluntary an His Part, and Yet in Saving Others He Could Not Save Himself.
Jesus, therefore, cried with a loud voice, saying, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" in order to notify to all how it behoved Him not to be rescued, not to be defended, but to be given up into the hands of cruel men, that is to become the Saviour of the world and the Redeemer of all men, not by misery but by mercy; and not by the failure of succour but by the determination to die. But what must we feel to be the intercessory power of His life Who died and rose again by His own inherent powerhyperlink For the blessed Apostle saysthe Father "spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us allhyperlink ;" and again, he says, "For Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify ithyperlink ." And hence the giving up of the Lord to His Passion was as much of the Father's as of His own will, so that not only did the Father "forsake" Him, but He also abandoned Himself in a certain sense, not in hasty flight, but in voluntary withdrawal. For the might of the Crucified restrained itself from those wicked men, and in order to avail Himself of a secret design, He refused to avail Himself of His open power. For how would He who had come to destroy death and the author of death by His Passion have saved sinners, if he had resisted His persecutors? This, then, had been the Jews' belief, that Jesus had been forsaken by God, against Whom they had been able to commit such unholy cruelty; for not understanding the mystery of His wondrous endurance, they said in blasphemous mockery: "He saved others, Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we believe Himhyperlink ." Not at your blind will, O foolish scribes and wicked priests, was the Saviour's power to be displayed, nor in obedience to blasphemers' evil tongues was the Redemption of mankind to be delayed; for if you had wished to recognize the Godhead of the Son of God, you would have observed His numberless works, and they must have confirmed you in that faith, which you so deceitfully promise. But if, as you yourselves acknowledge, it is true that He saved others, why have those many, great miracles, which have been done under the public gaze, done nothing to soften the hardness of your hearts, unless it be because you have always so resisted the Holy Ghost as to turn all God's benefits towards you into your destruction? For even though Christ should descend from the cross, youwould yet remain in your crime.
III. A Transition Was Then Being Effect from the Old to the New Dispensation.
Therefore the insults of empty exultation were scorned, and the Lord's mercy in restoring the lost and the fallen was not turned from the path of its purpose by contumely or reviling. For a peerless victim was being offered to God for the world's salvation, and the slaying of Christ the true Lamb, predicted through so many, ages, was transferring the sons of promise into the liberty of the Faith. The New Testament also was being ratified, and in the blood of Christ the heirs of the eternal Kingdom were being enrolled; the High Pontiff was entering the Holy of Holies, and to intercede with God the spotless Priest was passing in through the veil of His fleshhyperlink . In fine, so evident a transition was being effected fromthe Law to the Gospel, from the from the synagogue to Sc the Church, from many sacrifices to the One Victimhyperlink , that, when the Lord gave up the ghost, that mystic veil which hung before and shut out the inner part of the Temple and its holy recess was by sudden force torn from top to bottomhyperlink , for the reason that Truth was displacing figures, and forerunners were needless in the presence of Him they announced. Tothis was added a terrible confusion of all the elements, and nature herself withdrew her support from Christ's crucifiers. And although the centurion in charge of the crucifixion, in fright at what he had seen, said "truly this man was the Son of Godhyperlink ," yet the wicked hearts of the Jews, which were harder than all tombs and rocks, is not reported to have been pierced by any compunction: so that it seems the Roman soldiers were then readier to recognize the Son of God than the priests of Israel.
IV. Let Us Profit by Fasting and Good Works at This Sacred Season of the Year.
Because, then, the Jews, deprived of all the sanctification imparted by these mysteries, turned their light into darkness and their "feasts into mourninghyperlink ," let us, dearly-beloved, prostrate our bodies and our souls and worship God's Grace, which has been poured out upon all nations, beseeching the merciful Father and the rich Redeemer from day to day to give us His aid and enable us to escape all the dangers of this life. For the crafty tempter is present everywhere, and leaves nothing free from his snares. Whom, God's mercy helping us, which is stretched out to us amid all dangers, we must ever with stedfast faith resisthyperlink so that, though he never ceases to asail, he may never succeed in carrying the assault. Let all, dearly-beloved, religiously keep and profit by the fast, and let no excesses mar the benefits of such self-restraint as we have proved convenient both for soul and body. For the things which pertain to sobriety and temperance must be the more diligently observed at this season, that a lasting habit may be contracted from a brief zeal; and whether in works of mercy or in strict self-denial, no hours may be left idle by the faithful, seeing that, as years increase and time glides by, we are bound to increase our store of works, and not squander our opportunities. And to devout wills and religious souls God's Mercy will be granted, that He may enable us to obtain that which He enabled us to desire, Who liveth and reigneth with our Lord Jesus Christ His Son, and with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 For the doctrine here stated, cf. Serm. LI., chap. vi.
2 Quoe vero illic vitoe intercessio sentienda est, ubi anima et potestate est emissa et potestate revocata ? If we adopt Quesnel's conjecture intercisio for intercessio the meaning is I suppose, "What cutting off of the thread of life is conceivable in His case Who &c.?"
3 Rom. viii. 32.
4 Eph. v. 2, and 25, 29.
5 S. Matt. xxvii. 42.
6 Cf. Heb. x. 20: and below, S. Matt. xxvii. 51 and 54.
7 The older editions here add quoe Deus est (which is God), which however both Quesnel and the Ball. reject as a marginal gloss.
8 Cf. Heb. x. 20: and below, S. Matt. xxvii. 51 and 54.
9 Cf. Heb. x. 20: and below, S. Matt. xxvii. 51 and 54.
10 Cf. Amos viii. 10: and below, 1 Pet. v. 9.
11 Cf. Amos viii. 10: and below, 1 Pet. v. 9.
Sermon LXXI. (on the Lord's Resurrection, I.; Delivered on Holy Saturday in the Vigil of Easterhyperlink .)
I. We Must All Be Partakers in Christ's Resurrection Life.
In my last sermonhyperlink , dearly-beloved, not in- appropriately, as I think, we explained to you our participation in the cross of Christ, whereby the life of believers contains in itself the mystery of Easter, and thus what is honoured at the feast is celebrated by our practice. And how useful this is you yourselves have proved, and by your devotion have learnt, how greatly benefited souls and bodies are by longer fasts, more frequent prayers, and more liberal alms. For there can be hardly any one who has not profited by this exercise, and who has not stored up in the recesses of his conscience something over which he may rightly rejoice. But these advantages must be retained with persistent care, lest our efforts fall away into idleness, and the devil's malice steal what God's grace gave. Since, therefore, by our forty days' observancehyperlink we have wished to bring about this effect, that we should feel something of the Cross at the time of the Lord's Passion, we must strive to be found partakers also of Christ's Resurrection, and "pass from death unto lifehyperlink ," while we are in this body. For when a man is changed by some process from one thing into another, not to be what he was is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is a beginning. But the question is, to what a man either dies or lives: because there is a death, which is the cause of living, and there is a life, which is the cause of dying. And nowhere else but in this transitory world are both sought after, so that upon the character of our temporal actions depend the differences of the eternal retributions. We must die, therefore, to the devil and live to God: we must perish to iniquity that we may rise to righteousness.Let the old sink, that the new may rise; and since, as says the Truth, "no one can serve two mastershyperlink ," let not him be Lord who has caused the overthrow of those that stood, but Him Who has raised the fallen to victory.
II. God Did Not Leave His Soul in Hell, Nor Suffer His Flesh to See Corruption.
Accordingly, since the Apostle says, "the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is from heaven heavenly. As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heavenhyperlink ," we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impossibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood. And hence that the disturbed minds of the disciples might not be racked by prolonged grief, He with such wondrous speed shortened the three days' delay which He had announced, that by joining the last part of the first and the first part of the third day to the whole of the second, He cut off a considerable portion of the period, and yet did not lessen the number of days. The Saviour's Resurrection therefore did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted not either part of the Human Nature which He had assumed, reunited by Its power that which Its power had separatedhyperlink .
III. Christ's Manifestation After the Resurrection Showed that His Person Was Essentially the Same as Before.
And then there followed many proofs, whereon the authority of the Faith to be preached through the whole world might be based. And although the rolling away of the stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated the whole deed by themselves fully built up the truth of the Lord's Resurrection, yet did He often appear plainly to the eyes both of the women and of the Apostleshyperlink not only talking with them, but also remaining and eating with them, and allowing Himself to be handled by the eager and curious hands of those whom doubt assailed. For to this end He entered when the doors were closed upon the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, and after giving them the light of understanding opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself showed them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the marks of His most recent Passion, whereby it might be acknowledged that in Him the properties of the Divine and Human Nature remained undivided, and we might in such sort know that the Word was not what the flesh is, as to confess God's only Son to be both Word and Flesh.
IV. But Though It is the Same, It is Also Glorified.
The Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, dearly. beloved, does not disagree with this belief, when he says, "even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no morehyperlink ." For the Lord's Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power. The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist: the body was made impassible, which it had been possible to crucify: it was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it. And properly is Christ's flesh said not to be known in that state in which it had been known, because nothing remained passible in it, nothing weak, so that it was both the same in essence and not the same in glory. But what wonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ's body, when he says of all spiritual Christians "wherefore henceforth we know no one after the flesh." Henceforth, he says, we begin to experience the resurrection in Christ, since the time when in Him, Who died for all, all our hopes were guaranteed to us. We do not hesitate in diffidence, we are not under the suspense of uncertainty, but having received an earnest of the promise, we now with the eye of faith see the things which will be, and rejoicing in the uplifting of our nature, we already possess what we believe.
V. Being Saved by Hope, We Must Not Fulfil the Lasts of the Flesh.
Let us not then be taken up with the appearances of temporal matters, neither let our contemplations be diverted from heavenly to earthly things. Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished: and the mind intent on what is permanent must fix its desires there, where what is offered is eternal. For although "by hope we were savedhyperlink ," and still bear about with us a flesh that is corruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections do not dominate us, and are justified in ceasing to be named after that, the will of which we do not follow. And so, when the Apostle says, "make not provision for the flesh in the lusts thereofhyperlink ," we understand that those things are not forbidden us, which conduce to health and which human weakness demands, but because we may not satisfy all our desires nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we recognizethat we are warned to exercise such self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which is placed under the mind's controlhyperlink . And hence the same Apostle says in another place, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth ithyperlink ;" in so far, of course, as it must be nourished and cherished not in vices and luxury, but with a view to its proper functions, so that nature may recover herself and maintain due order, the lower parts not prevailing wrongfully and debasingly over the higher, nor the higher yielding to the lower, lest if vices overpower the mind, slavery ensues where there should be supremacy.
VI. Our Godly Resolutions Must Continue All the Year Round, Not Be Confined to Easier Only.
Let God's people then recognize that they are a new creation in Christ, and with all vigilance understand by Whom they have been adopted and Whom they have adoptedhyperlink . let not the things, which have been made new, return to their ancient instability; and let not him who has "put his hand to the ploughhyperlink " forsake his work, but rather attend to that which he sows than look back to that which he has left behind. Let no one fall back into that from which he has risen, but, even though from bodily weakness he still languishes under certain maladies, let him urgently desire to be healed and raised up. For this is the path of health through imitation of the Resurrection begun in Christ, whereby, notwithstanding the many accidents and falls to which in this slippery life the traveller is liable, his feet may be guided from the quagmire on to solid ground, for, as it is written, "the steps of a man are directed by the Lord,and He will delight in his way. When the just man falls he shall not be overthrown, because the Lord will stretch out His handhyperlink ." These thoughts, dearly-beloved, must be kept in mind not only for the Easter festival, but also for the sanctification of the whole life, and to this our present exercise ought to be directed, that what has delighted the souls of the faithful by the experience of a short observance may pass into a habit and remain unalterably, and if any fault creep in, it may be destroyed by speedy repentance. And because the cure of old-standing diseases is slow and difficult, remedies should be applied early, when the wounds are fresh, so that rising ever anew from all downfalls, we may deserve to attain to the incorruptible Resurrection of our glorified flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen.
1 The time of delivery of this and the next Sermons was first identified by Quesnel with Easter Eve: for a most instructive note on the ceremonies of that day in early times, see Bright's n. 102.
2 Viz. Serm. LXX. in which (chap 6) he had promised to continue the subject (superest ut de resurrectionis consortio disseramus : quod ne continuato sermone et mihi et vobis fiat onerosum, in diem sabbati promissa differemus).
3 Acc. to Bright (n. 103), "As to the duration of Lent, there was anciently much diversity....Although it was not until the time of Gregory II. (715 - 731) that it became strictly a forty days' fast, there is no doubt that in the fourth century it not earlier a period was generally observed which might be called `forty days.
4 Cf. 1 S. John iii. 14.
5 S. Matt. vi. 24.
6 1 Cor. xv. 47-49. Leo's text agrees with the Vulgate in inserting `heavenly
0' after `from heaven
0' and in translating foreswmen (let us bear) not fore/somen (we shall bear), but is peculiar in its paraphrase at the end of the quotation ("the image of him, &c.").
7 Cf. Serm. LXX. chap. 3, nisi enim Verbum caro fieret, et tam solida consisteret unitas in utraque natura, ut a suscipiente susceptam nec ipsum breve mortis tempus abiungeret, nunquam valeret ad oeternitatem redire mortalitas. Bright (n. 96) quotes authorities ancient and more recent to show that this has always been the Christian's belief.
8 From this point to the end of the chapter the language is almost identical with a passage in Letter XXVIII. (Tome), chap. 5.
9 2 Cor. v. 16. It must be borne in mind that the application of the phrase after the flesh (kata\ sa/rka) is mistaken: S. Paul means 'according to the ordinary view of man," as in Rom. viii. 1, and 2 Cor. x. 2. See Bright's note 107.
10 Rom. viii. 24.
11 Rom. xiii. 14.
12 Cf. Serm. XIX. chap. 1.
13 Eph. v. 29.
14 Quo suscepta sit (sc. nova creatura) quemve susceperit, i.e. Christ has taken on Him human nature, and we by virtue thereof are partakers of the Divine.
15 S. Luke ix. 62.
16 Ps. xxxvii. 23, 24.
Sermon LXXII. (on the Lord's Resurrection, II.)
I. The Cross is Not Only the Mystery of Salvation, But an Example to Follow.
The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative, and the ears of the mind have been so reached through the ear of flesh that none of you can fail to have a picture of the events: for the text of the Divinely-inspired story has clearly shown the treachery of the Lord Jesus Christ's betrayal, the judgment by which He was condemned, the barbarity of His crucifixion, and glory of His resurrection. But a sermon is still required of us, that the priests' exhortation may be added to the solemn reading of Holy Writ, as I am sure you are with pious expectation demanding of us as your accustomed due. Because therefore there is no place for ignorance in faithful ears, the seed of the Word which consists of the preaching of the Gospel, ought to grow in the soil of your heart, so that, when choking thorns and thistles have been removed, the plants of holy thoughts and the buds of right desires may spring up freely into fruit. For the cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals, is both a mystery and an examplehyperlink : a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect, an example whereby man's devotion is excited: for to those who are rescued from the prisoner's yoke Redemption further procures the power of following the way of the cross by imitation. For if the world's wisdom so prides itself in its error that every one follows the opinions and habits and whole manner of life of him whom he has chosen as his leader, how shall we share in the name of Christ save by being inseparably united to Him, Who is, as He Himself asserted, "the Way, the Truth, and the Lifehyperlink ?" the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness.
II. Christ Look Our Nature Upon Him for Our Salvation.
For when the whole body of mankind had fallen in our first parents, the merciful God purposed so to succour, through His only-begotten Jesus Christ, His creatures made after His image, that the restoration of our nature should not be effected apart from it, and that our new estate should be an advance upon our original position. Happy, if we had not fallen from that which God made us; but happier, if we remain that which He has re-made us. It was much to have received form from Christ; it is more to have a substance in Christhyperlink . For we were taken up into its own proper self by that Nature (which condescended to those limitations which loving-kindness dictated and which yet incurred no sort of change. We were taken up by that Naturehyperlink , which destroyed not what was His in what was ours, nor what was ours in what was His; which made the person of the Godhead and of the Manhood so one in Itself that by co-ordination of weakness and power, the flesh could not be rendered inviolable through the Godhead, nor the Godhead passible through the flesh. We were taken up by that Nature, which did not break off the Branch from the common stock of our race, and yet excluded all taint of the sin which has passed upon all men. That is to say, weakness and mortality, which were not sin, but the penalty of sin, were undergone by the Redeemer of the World in the way of punishment, that they might be reckoned as the price of redemption. What therefore in all of us is the heritage of condemnation, is in Christ "the mystery of godlinesshyperlink ." For being free from debt, He gave Himself up to that most cruel creditor, and suffered the hands of Jews to be the devil's agents in torturing His spotless flesh. Which flesh He willed to be subject to death, even up to His(speedy)hyperlink resurrection, to this end, that believers in Him might find neither perse- cution intolerable, nor death terrible, by the remembrance that there was no more doubt about their sharing His glory than there was about His sharing their nature.
III. The Presence of the Risen and Ascended Lord Is Still with Us.
And so, dearly-beloved, if we unhesitatingly believe with the heart what we profess with the mouth, in Christ we are crucified, we are dead, we are buried; on the very third day, too, we are raised. Hence the Apostle says, "If ye have risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting on God's right hand: set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. For when Christ, your life, shall have appeared, then shall ye also appear with Him in gloryhyperlink ." But that the hearts of the faithful may know that they have that whereby to spurn the lusts of the world and be lifted to the wisdom that is above, the Lord promises us His presence, saying, "Lo! I am with you all the days, even till the end of the agehyperlink ." For not in vain had the Holy Ghost said by Isaiah: "Behold! a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God wire ushyperlink ." Jesus, therefore, fulfils the proper meaning of His name, and in ascending into the heavens does not forsake His adopted brethren, though "He sitteth at the right hand of the Father," yet dwells in the whole body, and Himself from above strengthens them for patient waiting while He summons them upwards to His glory.
IV. We Must Have the Same Mind as Was in Christ Jesus.
We must not, therefore, indulge in folly amid vain pursuits, nor give way to fear in the midst of adversities. On the one side, no doubt, we are flattered by deceits, and on the other weighed down by troubles; but because "the earth is full of the mercy of the Lordhyperlink ," Christ's victory is assuredly ours, that what He says may be fulfilled, "Fear not, for I have overcome the worldhyperlink ." Whether, then, we fight against the ambition of the world, or against the lusts of the flesh, or against the darts of heresy, let us arm ourselves always with the Lord's Cross. For our Paschal feast will never end, if we abstain from the leaven of the old wickedness (in the sincerity of truthhyperlink . For amid all the changes of this life which is full of various afflictions, we ought to remember the Apostle's exhortation; whereby he instructs us, saying, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God counted it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men and found in fashion as a man. Wherefore God also exalted Him, and gave Him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things below, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Fatherhyperlink ." If, he says, you understand "the mystery of great godliness," and remember what the Only-begotten Son of God did for the salvation of mankind, "have that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus," Whose humility is not to be scorned by any of the rich, not to be thought shame of by any of the high-born. For no human happiness whatever can reach so great a height as to reckon it a source of shame to himself that God, abiding in the form of Coy, thought it not unworthy of Himself to take the form of a slave.
V. Only He Who Holds T/re Truth on the Incarnation Can Keep Easter Properly.
Imitate what He wrought: love what He loved, and finding in you the Grace of God, love in Him your nature in return, since as He was not dispossessed of riches in poverty, lessened not glory in humility, lost not eternity in death, so do ye, too, treading in His footsteps, despise earthly things that ye may gain heavenly: for the taking up of the cross means the slaying of lusts, the killing of vices, the turning away from vanity, and the renunciation of all error. For, though the Lord's Passover can be kept by no immodest, self-indulgent, proud, or miserly person, yet none are held so far aloof from this festival as heretics, and especially those who have wrong views on the Incarnation of the Word, either disparaging what belongs to the Godhead or treating what is of the flesh as unreal. For the Son of God is true God, having from the Father all that the Father is, with no beginning in time, subject to no sort of change, undivided from the One God, not different from the Almighty, the eternal Only-begotten of the eternal Father; so that the faithful intellect believing in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in the same essence of the one Godhead, neither divides the Unity by suggesting degrees of dignity, nor confounds the Trinity by merging the Persons in one. But it is not enough to know the Son of God in the Father's nature only, unless we acknowledge Him in what is ours without withdrawal of what is His own. For that self-emptying, which He underwent for man's restoration, was the dispensation of compassion, not the loss of powerhyperlink . For, though by the eternal purpose of God there was "no other name under heaven given to men whereby they must be savedhyperlink ," the Invisible made His substance visible. the Intemporal temporal, the Impassible passible: not that power might sink into weakness, but that weakness might pass into indestructible power.
VI. A Mystical Application of the Term "Passover" Is Given.
For which reason the very feast which by us is named Pascha, among the Hebrews is called Phase, that is Pass-overhyperlink , as the evangelist attests, saying, "Before the feast of Pascha, Jesus knowing that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world unto the Fatherhyperlink ." But what was the nature in which He thus passed out unless it was ours, since the Father was in the Son and the Son in the Father inseparably? But because the Word and the Flesh is one Person, the Assumed is not separated from the Assuming nature, and the honour of being promoted is spoken of as accruing to Him that promotes, as the Apostle says in a passage we have already quoted, "Wherefore also God exalted Him and gave Him a name which is above every name." Where the exaltation of His assumed Manhood is no doubt spoken of, so that He in Whose sufferings the Godheard remains indivisible is likewise coeternal in the glory of the Godhead. And to share in this unspeakable gift the Lord Himself was preparing a blessed "passing over" for His faithful ones, when on the very threshhold of His Passion he interceded not only for His Apostles and disciples but also for the whole Church, saying, "But not for these only I pray, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word, that they all may be one, as Thou also, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in ushyperlink ."
VII. Only True Believers Can Keep the Easter Festival.
In this union they can have no share who deny that in the Son of God, Himself true God, man's nature abides, assailing the health-giving mystery and shutting themselves out from the Easter festival. For, as they dissent from the Gospel and gainsay the creed, they cannot keep it with us, because although they dare to take to themselves the Christian name, yet they are repelled by every creature who has Christ for his Head: for you rightly exult and devoutly rejoice in this sacred season as those who, admitting no falsehood into the Truth, have no doubt about Christ's Birth according to the flesh, His Passion and Death, and the Resurrection of His body: inasmuch as without any separation of the Godhead you acknowledge a Christ, Who was truly born of a Virgin's womb, truly hung on the wood of the cross, truly laid in an earthly tomb, truly raised in glory, truly set on the right hand of the Father's majesty; "whence also," as the Apostle says, "we look for a Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall refashion the body of our humility to become conformed to the body of His gloryhyperlink ." Who liveth and reigneth, &c.
1 Cf. Serm. LXIII. 4, above: Salvator noster - et sacramentum condidit et exemplum : ut unum apprehenderent renascendo, alterum sequerentur imitando.
2 S. John xiv. 6.
3 i.e. that both of the two natures in Christ should be ours, as he goes on to show.
4 The words in brackets are of doubtful genuineness, and seem in themselves a medioeval imitation of Leo's style.
5 Sacramentum pietatis, the regular Latin version of 1 Tim. iii. 16.
6 Celerrimam. The epithet spoils the argument, and is probably an interpolation. Cf. however Serm. LXXI. chap. 2, above.
7 Col. iii. 1- 4.
8 S. Matt. xxviii. 20.
9 Is. vii. 14 ; S. Matt. i. 23.
10 Ps. xxxiii. 5.
11 S. John xvi. 33.
12 Cf. 1 Cor. v. 8: the words in brackets are of doubtful authority.
13 Phil. ii. 5-11.
14 Much the same language is used in Lett. XXVIII. (Tome) 3 and Serm. XXIII. 2.
15 Acts iv. 12.
16 Phase id transitus dicitur, cf. the Vulgate, Exod. xii. 11, est enim Phase (id est transitus) Domini. The form of the word is due to defective transliteration, the correct Hebrew form being Pesach, which "is derived from a root which means to step over or to overleap, and thus points back to the historical origin of the festival (Exod. xii.)." - Edersheim's Temple, p. 179.
17 S. John xiii. 1; the word for "pass" here in the Gk. is metabh, in the Lat. transeat.
18 S. John xvii. 20, 21.
19 Phil. iii. 20, 21.
Sermon LXXIII. (on the Lord's Ascension, I.)
I.the Events Recorded as Happening After the Resurrection Were Intended to Convince Its Truth.
Since the blessed and glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the Divine power in three days raised the true Temple of God, which the wickedness of the Jews had overthrown, the sacred forty days, dearly-beloved are to-day ended, which by most holy appointment were devoted to our most profitable instruction, so that, during the period that the Lord thus protracted the lingering of His bodily presence, our faith in the Resurrection might be fortified by needful proofs. For Christ's Death had much disturbed the disciples' hearts, and a kind of torpor of distrust had crept over their grief-laden minds at His torture on the cross, at His giving up the ghost, at His lifeless body's burial. For, when the holy women, as the Gospel-story has revealed,brought word of tile stone rolled away from the tomb, the sepulchre emptied of the body, and the angels bearing witness to the living Lord, their words seemed like ravings to the Apostles and other disciples. Which doubtfulness, the result of human weakness, the Spirit of Truth would most assuredly not have permitted to exist in His own preacher's breasts, had not their trembling anxiety and careful hesitation laid the foundations of our faith. It was our perplexities and our dangers that were provided for in the Apostles: it was ourselves who in these men were taught how to meet the cavillings of the ungodly and the arguments of earthly wisdom. We are instructed by their lookings, we are taught by their hearings, we are convinced by their handlings. Let us give thanks to the Divine management and the holy Fathers' necessary slowness of belief. Others doubted, that we might not doubt.
II. And Therefore They are in the Highest Degree Instructive.
Those days, therefore, dearly-beloved, which intervened between the Lord's Resurrection and Ascension did not pass by in uneventful leisure, but great mysterieshyperlink were ratified in them, deep truthshyperlink revealed. In them the fear of awful death was removed, and the immortality not only of the soul but also of the flesh established. In them, through the Lord's breathing upon them, the Holy Ghost is poured upon all the Apostles, and to the blessed Apostle Peter beyond the rest the care of the Lord's flock is entrusted, in addition to the keys of the kingdom. Then it was that the Lord joined the two disciples as a companion on the way, and, to the sweeping away of all the clouds of our uncertainty, upbraided them with the slowness of their timorous hearts. Their enlightened hearts catch the flame of faith, and lukewarm as they have been, are made to burn while the Lord unfolds the Scriptures. In the breaking of bread also their eyes are opened as they eat with Him: how far more blessed is the opening of their eyes, to whom the glorification of their nature is revealed than that of our first parents, on whom fell the disastrous consequences of their transgression.
III. The Prove the Resurrection of the Flesh.
And in the course of these and other miracles, when the disciples were harassed by bewildering thoughts, and the Lord had appeared in their midst and said, "Peace be unto youhyperlink ," that what was passing through their hearts might not be their fixed opinion (for they thought they saw a spirit not flesh), He refutes their thoughts so discordant with the Truth, offers to the doubters' eyes the marks of the cross that remained in His hands and feet, and invites them to handle Him with careful scrutiny, because the traces of the nails and spear had been retained to heal the wounds of unbelieving hearts, so that not with wavering faith, but with most stedfast knowledge they might comprehend that the Nature which had been lain in the sepulchre was to sit on God the Father's throne.
IV. Christ's Ascension Has Given Us Greater Privileges and Joys Than the Devil Had Taken from Us.
Accordingly, dearly-beloved, throughout this time which elapsed between the Lord's Resurrection and Ascension, God's Providence had this in view, to teach and impress upon both the eyes and hearts of His own people that the Lord Jesus Christ might be acknowledged to have as truly risen, as He was truly born, suffered, and died. And hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been both bewildered at His death on the cross and backward in believing His Resurrection, were so strengthened by the clearness of the truth that when the Lord entered the heights of heaven, not only were they affected with no sadness, but were even filled with great joy. And truly great and unspeakable was their cause for joy, when in the sight of the holy multitude, above the dignity of all heavenly creatures, the Nature of mankind went up, to pass above the angels' ranks and to rise beyond the archangels' heights, and to have Its uplifting limited by no elevation until, received to sit with the Eternal Father, It should be associated on the throne with His glory, to Whose Nature It was united in the Son. Since then Christ's Ascension is our uplifting, and the hope of the Body is raised, whither the glory of the Head has gone before, let us exult, dearly-beloved, with worthy joy and delight in the loyal paying of thanks. For to-day not only are we confirmed as possessors of paradise, but have also in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven, and have gained still greater things through Christ's unspeakable grace than we had lost through the devil's malice. For us, whom our virulent enemy had driven out from the bliss of our first abode, the Son of God has made members of Himself and placed at the right hand of the Father, with Whom He lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.