16 Nov

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 98

This post opens with a brief series of arguments (i.e., a series of abstracts or summaries concerning the psalms subject, intentions, etc.). The commentary follows. I’ve not added the names of the various authors being referred to as this would take quite some time and burden the text with many footnotes. At the end of the post one will find a list of the various uses to which this psalm was employed in the tradition along with traditional antiphons and collects.

TITLE. LXX. and Vulgate: A Psalm of David.
Chaldee Targum: A Prophetic Psalm.


ARG. THOMAS. That GOD, by the Advent of the Nativity, hath declared His salvation unto all. The Voice of the Apostles, rejoicing at the Resurrection of CHRIST. Further, the Voice of the Church to the LORD and to the Apostles. The Apostolic Voice. A Prophecy, and the calling of the Gentiles. Concerning the first and second coming of CHRIST.

VEN. BEDE. This title refers to the LORD CHRIST, concerning both Whose comings this Psalm is about to speak.
The Prophet speaks throughout the Psalm. In the first part he recommends the Christian people to be glad with the rejoicing of a new song, since the wondrous Advent of CHRIST is granted. O sing unto the Lord a new song, &c. In the second part he declares more fully in various ways that we should rejoice, because the Judge desired by the righteous is to come at last. Show yourselves joyful in the Lord, all ye lands, &c.

SYRIAC PSALTER. Of David. Concerning the freedom of the people from Egypt, when they conquered and triumphed. Spiritually, it is a prophecy of the coming of CHRIST and the calling of the Gentiles.

EUSEBIUS OF CÆSAREA. The calling of the Gentiles and the coming of CHRIST.

S. ATHANASIUS. A Psalm of exhortation and as it were of command.


98:1 O sing unto the LORD a new song: for he hath done marvellous things. With his own right hand, and with his holy arm: hath he gotten himself the victory.

The song must be new,* because of the unwonted (unaccustomed, unusual)  nature of the marvellous things which GOD has wrought.* When of old He brought His people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm (Ps 136:12), it was but one small nation that He saved, it was only a human enemy that He overthrew in the Red Sea. But now the salvation He has wrought extends to all the nations of the earth, the enemy He has routed is the Prince of the powers of the air (Eph 2:2), attended by all the spiritual wickednesses (Eph 6:12). He hath done marvellous things in the mystery of His Incarnation,* Nativity, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, and the mission of the HOLY GHOST, not to speak of the miracles He wrought in person during His earthly ministry,* of by the hands of His servants since. But the words most especially refer to His raising Himself up from the dead by His own inherent power, (C.) by the might of that Godhead which He united to the Manhood. Therefore He saith of His life, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”* And in that He wrought this marvel alone, with no human or angelic aid in the agony of His Passion, with no hand to pluck Him back from the grave; He said in prophecy of old, “The year of My redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore Mine own arm hath brought salvation unto Me, and My fury, it upheld Me.”* We may also, without any material change in the meaning, take the words as spoken by the FATHER, (L.) Who declares that He wrought the salvation of mankind by one instrument alone,* His Right Hand, the Only-begotten SON, in Whose Second Advent, of which this Psalm sings as well as His first, the triumph will be completed.

98:2The LORD declared his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen.

It is the manifestation of the Only-Begotten, (C.) the SAVIOUR of Mankind,* the Light to lighten the Gentiles, of Whom Simeon chanted his dying song, doubtless looking to this Psalm. And observe that it is not said in the first clause that GOD showed, but that He made known (A. V., LXX., Vulg.) His salvation.* For He had shown it in mystery of old to the Patriarchs. Adam knew Him, and so did Abel, who offered Him a lamb; and Seth, who called on His Name; and Noah, who was His type, saving mankind in the Ark; and Abraham, (Ay.) who offered up his son. But the world had forgotten Him, and therefore the FATHER made Him known. He did so with care that His Nativity should not pass unnoticed, (D. C.) for He made it known to the shepherds by the Angels, to the wise men by a star, to Zacharias and Elizabeth by S. Gabriel, to Simeon and Anna by the HOLY GHOST. But to the Gentiles, who had no previous knowledge to be recalled, He openly showed His righteousness. Wherefore it is to be noticed that the Apostles never address their Gentile congregations in parables, as their Master did the Jews, but make direct proclamation of the Gospel.

98:3 He hath remembered his mercy and truth toward the house of Israel: and all the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our GOD.

The term remembered is here employed,* as in the Benedictus and Magnificat, not as in any way denoting the possibility of forgetfulness on GOD’S part, but to set before our minds the length of time which elapsed before the promised Deliverer appeared, a delay which would, in any human analogy,* be due to oblivion. It is said, to the house of Israel, because the promises of mercy were originally made only to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so that GOD’S truth was concerned in fulfilling His pledge, and accordingly the first manifestation of the SAVIOUR, the first preaching of the Gospel, was amongst the people and in the land of Israel. And then the latter clause of the verse teaches us that this mercy of GOD is extended to all the ends of the world,* to all those Gentiles who had no claim on His truth, in that He has shown them His JESUS. And precisely so runs the prophecy in Isaiah: “It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the desolations of Israel; I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.”*

98:4Show yourselves joyful unto the LORD, all ye lands: sing, rejoice, and give thanks.

They tell us that by the use of these several words various grades of spiritual exultation are denoted, (C.) to each of which all the lands, the whole extent of the Church Universal, are invited. Show yourselves joyful is the first inarticulate expression of the soul’s delight, striving for utterance, but not yet able to collect itself, nor to perfectly understand the nature of its gladness; sing tells us that words of suitable devotion have been found at last; rejoice tells of the fervent happiness with which the Saints pour forth their prayers to GOD; and give thanks (which the LXX. and Vulgate render play, ψάλατε, psallite) implies the active laud of good works performed for His sake.

98:5 Praise the LORD upon the harp: sing to the harp with a psalm of thanksgiving.
98:6With trumpets also, and shawms: O show yourselves joyful before the LORD the King.

We have now five methods of rejoicing put before us,* the five words which we speak with our understanding in the Church,* better than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue, (P.) and answering to the five titles of CHRIST given earlier in the Psalm, to wit, right hand, holy arm, salvation, righteousness, and truth. As regards the mystical signification of the various instruments named here, we are reminded first that the harp teaches that all our faculties,* all parts of our conduct, should be vocal with melody to GOD. For a harp is imperfect, if even one chord be lacking, or if the strings be not tuned in harmony. What profits it thee, then, if thou be chaste, liberal in almsgiving, and yet envious? What advantage is it if thou have six strings sound and one broken? If even one fail,* the sound of the harp cannot be perfect. The harp (a symbol of mortification,* with its tense strings and empty hollow) is twice named, to teach us that bodily austerity and the practice of holiness need to be repeated, and not be left off after beginning, that we are to praise with body and soul, in prosperity and adversity, in this life and the next; (Z.) and it is coupled with the psalm of thanksgiving in the second place, because contemplation and prayer, in addition to active virtues, are essential to the full development of spiritual life and joy. Some, however, think that the ten-stringed psalter is meant here, implying the keeping of the moral law. With trumpets also and shawms. The Vulgate, distinguishing with sufficient accuracy between the straight silver trumpets implied by the former word, and the curved ram’s horns of the latter, translates, (P.) On ductile trumpets, and with the sound of the horny trumpet. The first are aptly assigned to the herald proclamation of the Gospel law, purified from the dross of the elder code by the fire and hammer of CHRIST’S Passion, while the humbler cornet is the pastoral address of Christian shepherds to their flocks. (Z.) Euthymius will have it that both the trumpets and the cornet denote the Apostles and their successors; saying that the plural word points to the four Gospels, the singular one to their identity; while the metallic epithet signifies the operation of the HOLY GHOST on the Apostles, shaping and moulding them at His will, and the word horn, as betokening that which once had animal life, implies that they were not mere dead instruments, but endowed with vitality and personal force.* Yet another view sees in the metal trumpets purged in the fire, the martyrs of CHRIST; and in the cornet, (C.) made of that which springs from the flesh, yet is not of it, but stands out from it, the Confessors who have checked all their carnal passions by austerity and by lifting themselves up towards GOD.
O show yourselves joyful before the Lord the King. (Ay.) We do this when we keep GOD so constantly present before us in our thoughts, words, and deeds, that we are conscious of acting with continual reference to Him, and not to the world or to ourselves, and that with a glad and filial service, not with the servile terror of bondslaves.* The notion is that of the processional march with music and singing to greet the King as He returns from victory and coronation. (C.) And as a monarch in such cases bestows largesses upon his subjects, so the special time for this rejoicing on our part is when our King comes to judgment,* and bestows rewards on His faithful people.

98:7Let the sea make a noise, and all that therein is: the round world, and they that dwell therein.
98:8Let the floods clap their hands, and let the hills be joyful together before the LORD: for he is come to judge the earth.

The Psalmist calls the inanimate creation,* which had aforetime been groaning and travailing in pain,* awaiting the SAVIOUR, (Cd.) to swell the hymn of triumph in honour of Almighty GOD,* raised by all that dwell in the round world. But there are spiritual meanings underlying the various terms used. The sea,* as one will have it, denotes the Law, once bitter, now made sweet by the wood of the Cross; or else, as so often, it means the restless, tossing, bitter, and sorrowful life of the world, and all that are mixed up with it, though it may also denote those who shed the salt tears of penitence: the round world,* those within the circle of the Church, firm and fruitful: the floods,* drinking in the waters of wisdom from their source, and irrigating the dry ground, denote all holy preachers of the Word; the hills are those in high position, especially in the offices of the Church. The Pseudo-Jerome,* arguing against the hyper-literalism of Jewish expositors, points to the phrase clap their hands, as inapplicable in any strict sense to the floods, and insists on the spiritual interpretation as necessarily meaning those Saints of various degrees of eminence,* from the merest rill to the mightiest torrent, who all alike flow from the LORD JESUS, the fountain of living waters. These clap their hands because they work for GOD, and are not content with talking about Him, since He is best served and praised with the hand, not with the voice. And observe, remarks S. Augustine, that it is exactly when the sea makes a noise, (A.) when the storms of persecution are raging, that the Saints are most zealous and most happy, that they clap their hands in honour of their King. Arnobius,* who seems to prefer that meaning of the floods which more than one commentator adopts, namely, all the faithful regenerated in the sweet waters of Baptism, reminds us that the rivers flow down from the hills, and bids us see here the exaltation of Christian Saints and teachers in the spiritual might and progress of their disciples in the Faith. For He is come to judge the earth.* We may take this either of the first or of the second coming of CHRIST. If of the first, then the ground of rejoicing is that the LORD comes to rule the world with a perfectly righteous code, and to do so not as of old, in the unseen majesty of Godhead, but in bodily and visible form as a Man dwelling with men. If of the second Advent, then the final victory over sin, and the renewal of all creation,* delivered at last from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of GOD, is the theme of rejoicing.

98:9With righteousness shall he judge the world: and the people with equity.

This Psalm ends precisely as the ninety-sixth,* with the exception of the last word, equity, instead of truth. It is a word of hope and of fear alike. Of hope, because the feeble and oppressed will find an advocate in their Judge against all the power arrayed against them, for it is written, “With righteousness shall He judge the poor, and argue with equity for the meek of the earth.”* Of fear, “for if Thou, LORD, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O LORD, who may abide it?”* But as He hath not yet come, why should men tremble? Let them amend, and rejoice. (A.) It is in thine own power, how thou shalt look for the coming of CHRIST. He delays that coming, that He may not have to condemn thee. Behold, He cometh not yet. He is in heaven, and thou on earth; He delays His Advent, delay not thou thy counsel. His coming is hard to the hard, is gentle to the loving. Look then at once what thou art; if hard, thou mayest soften; if gentle, rejoice that He is coming. For thou art a Christian. Yes, sayest thou. I believe that thou prayest, and thou sayest, “Thy kingdom come.” Thou desirest Him to come, of Whose coming thou art afraid. Amend, that thy prayer be not against thyself.

Wherefore: Glory be to the FATHER, the LORD and King; glory be to the SON, His own Right Hand, Who shall judge the world with righteousness; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who declared the salvation of GOD. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian. Saturday: Matins. [Christmas Day, Circumcision, Trinity Sunday, Holy Name, Invention and Exaltation of the Cross, Nails and Spear, Sacred Heart, Common of B.V.M., Common of Virgins: III. Nocturn.]

Monastic. Friday: II. Nocturn. [Christmas Day, Circumcision, Epiphany, Whitsun Day, Trinity Sunday, HOLY GHOST Name, Invention and Exaltation of the Cross, Common of B.V.M., Common of Virgins: II. Nocturn.]

Ambrosian. Thursday of Second Week: III. Nocturn. [Christmas Day: I. Nocturn. Epiphany: I. Nocturn.]

Parisian. Monday: Sext. [Christmas Day: III. Nocturn.]

Lyons. Friday: III. Nocturn. [Epiphany: III. Nocturn.]

Quignon. Monday: Lauds.


Gregorian. For He hath done marvellous things. [Christmas Day: The LORD declared, Alleluia, * His salvation, Alleluia. Epiphany: Before the morning star * begotten, and before the worlds, the LORD our SAVIOUR vouchsafed to be born to-day. Trinity Sunday: The FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST is one substance. O Blessed Trinity. Holy Name: O sing unto GOD, and sing praises unto His Name, make a path for Him Who ascendeth over the sunset, the LORD is His Name. Sacred Heart: All the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our GOD. Common of B.V.M.: After thy childbearing, thou didst remain a spotless Virgin; Mother of GOD, intercede for us. Common of Virgins: Come, Bride of CHRIST, receive the crown, which the LORD hath prepared for thee for evermore.]

Monastic. [Epiphany: As Christmas Day. Whitsun Day: Stablish the thing, O GOD, which Thou hast wrought in us, for Thy temple’s sake at Jerusalem, Alleluia, Alleluia. Trinity Sunday: Holy, Holy, Holy, LORD GOD Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Common of Virgins: Thou art fair and comely, O daughter of Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.]

Ambrosian. Show yourselves joyful before the LORD the King. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr. [Christmas and Epiphany: The LORD declared His salvation. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.]

Parisian. The LORD hath chosen out an heritage for us, which He hath loved. [Christmas Day: As Gregorian.]

Lyons. Let my crying * come unto Thee, O LORD. [Epiphany: As Christmas Day, Gregorian.]

Mozarabic. The LORD declared His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shown in the sight of the heathen.

1a (1) O sing unto the LORD a new song: for he hath done marvellous things.
1b (2) With his own right hand, and with his holy arm: hath he gotten himself the victory.


O LORD,* Who hast revealed Thy righteousness to all the Gentiles, and Thy salvation unto our minds, grant that as Thou didst once come to be judged on behalf of the lost, Thou mayest bestow mercy when Thou comest to judge, on them for whom Thou wast judged. Who.

Let Thy right hand deliver us,* O LORD, and bow the necks of the haughty under Thy dominion, that the nations maybe enlightened with the coming of truth, and with holiness of heart accept the salvation shown unto them. (11.)

Let all the earth sing unto Thee,* O LORD, sing a psalm, rejoice, and praise Thy Name, Whose Name is wonderful and glorious. Grant therefore unto the prayers of Thy Church, that Thou mayest never forsake in temptation those whom Thou callest in faith, and that they who sing unto Thee the song of praise may attain the reward of eternal blessedness in the world to come. (11.)

All the earth sings unto Thee,* O LORD, and all they that dwell therein, the floods clap their hands unto Thee; and not only do the voices of the Doctors wait on Thee with the service of speech, but their zeal also attends Thee with the observance of good works. Grant therefore, O our GOD, that by Thine inspiration both constant praise and unwearied meditation, together with the pure and undefiled religion of holy conversation, may prevail in us. (11.)

O GOD,* Who hast made known Thy salvation amongst the peoples, by revealing Thy righteousness in the sight of the Gentiles, show unto us the abundance of Thy mercies, that as we are lifted up by the knowledge of Thy salvation, we may be comforted by the revelation of Thy righteousness. (11.)

Let all creation sing a new song unto Thee,* O LORD, Who didst show forth in the Virgin Mary the marvel of a new childbearing, that a woman should compass a man, and a Virgin without knowing man should bring forth a male child; grant that we in this world may be aided by her prayers, who brought Thee forth in stainless birth: that our mind, strengthened by the light of the HOLY GHOST, may so conceive the affection of Thy love, as alway to bring forth the increase of good works. (11.)

Almighty, (D. C.) everlasting GOD, Who alone workest great marvels, remember Thy mercy, and correct us when we go astray, and make us so steadfastly and faithfully abide by Thee, that we may be fitted to sing acceptable songs unto Thee, our LORD, for evermore. (1.)~Neale, J.M., & Littledale, R.F. (1871) A Commentary on the Psalms from the Primitive and Medieval Writers. The scholars were Anglican but the work enjoyed wide popularity among Catholics.  The work is in the public domain

02 Feb

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 4:21-30

Luk 4:21  And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.

He began to say to them, “this day is fulfilled this scripture  (‘which has sounded,’ says Euthymius, and the Syriac version), in your ears”. This day is fulfilled in your hearing this prophecy of Isaiah, while you hear me preaching to you and to the rest of the poor of Galilee the year of full remission, and I am prepared to do, nay, I have already done in Capernaum, all that Isaiah has here foretold. I am the Messiah of whom Isaiah there prophesies, whom you, in accordance with the predictions of Jacob and Daniel, are already eagerly expecting every moment. For, though Jesus does not clearly say that He is the Messiah, yet He tacitly implies it.

Luk 4:22  And all gave testimony to him. And they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth. And they said: Is not this the son of Joseph?

all gave testimony to him–that He spoke well, not that He was the Messiah. Hence they call Him “the son of Joseph;” and, a little after, when they were rebuked by Him, they despised Him and wished to cast Him down headlong. So, nowadays, many people praise a preacher so long as he says to them what is pleasing and elegant, but when he attacks their vices they abuse and persecute him. Such is the way of the fickle multitude, who love themselves and their own desires. However, Bede takes this as meaning that they bore witness that He was the Messiah of whom Isaiah had prophesied these things; and he adds:—”How great their blindness, when, only on account of their knowledge of His origin, and because they had seen Him nourished, and that He had developed, through the stages of life among themselves, they set Him at nought whom, by his words and works, they knew to be Christ.”

And they wondered at his words of grace. “Words of grace,” he calls them (1) gracious, beautiful, suave, and pleasant; (2) full of grace and the Holy Spirit; (3) efficacious to move and persuade; (4) full of wisdom and eloquence, so as to convince those that heard them. For Christ spoke with a tongue that was more than human. “He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes,” Matt 7:29.

Luk 4:23  And he said to them: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself. As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country.

And he said to them, doubtless you will say to me this similitude (in the Greek παζαβολὴν—parable, proverb, or adage, in common use), Physician, heal thyself—that is, cure Thine own people and Thine own country, which should be as dear to Thee as Thyself; cure Thy fellow Nazarenes as Thou hast cured or art said to have cured the Capernaites. Thus it was that Christ presently explains it, He, by His Divine Spirit, seeing the hidden thoughts of the Nazarenes, and that they were wishing in their hearts for that which He now said. Anticipating their secret thought, He meets and answers it. “It was common among the Jews,” says Titus, “to taunt physicians who had caught any disease with this impudent and ironical saying, Physician, heal thyself.” For the common sense of mankind holds, and reason favours the opinion, that he who cannot cure himself, or neglects to do so, cannot cure others or should not attempt it. In point of fact, however, experience not seldom shows that the physician who cures others is unable to effect his own cure, but hands himself over to other physicians to be treated, because appetite often blinds the reason, and diseases obscure one’s scientific knowledge. Hence we judge better and more safely about the diseases of others than about our own. Self-love often perverts our judgment, so that Solomon warns us with the words, “Lean not unto thine own understanding,” Prov 3:5.

Tropologically: S. Anthony thus expounded the saying “Physician, heal thyself;” He that will cure the faults of others let him first cure his own. For they that will help others before they cure themselves shall relapse into their own faults. Indeed experience teaches us that they who remedy any fault in themselves easily cure it in others.

As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country. Hence it is, plain that these events took place in Nazareth after Jesus had preached and worked many miracles in the city of Capernaum, as has been said at v. 16, and S. Augustine (De Consensu, bk. ii. cap. 42) observes. The Gloss interprets, “We do not believe what a vague rumour has published, seeing that among us, on whom favours of the kind would have been more fittingly conferred, Thou hast done no such work.” Here in Nazareth, Thy fatherland which conceived Thee, nourished Thee, and brought Thee unto manhood, Thou hast brethren, sisters, kinsfolk, and neighbours, some rich, others poor, some sick, others suffering in other respects. Why then dost Thou not miraculously succour these Thine own people, to whom Thou art bound by blood, by love of home, and by natural affection?

Luk 4:24  And he said: Amen I say to you that no prophet is accepted in his own country.

Ye, 0 Nazarenes, despise Me as your fellow-townsman, and the son of a carpenter; wherefore you are unworthy that I should confer benefits upon you., Therefore (says the Interlinear), I work not among you, not because I hate my own country, but because you are incredulous.  S. Cyril adds that a citizen, being always near to his fellow-citizens, is deprived of the reverence which is his due at the hands of those who know him.

Thirdly, S. Chrysostom says, “Christ had abstained from miracles among the Nazarenes that He might not provoke them to envy.” For, as S. Ambrose says, God is a despiser of the envious; and the Gloss remarks that it is almost natural for fellow-citizens to envy one another; nor do they take account of merit, but call to mind a man’s frail childhood

Chrysologus (Serm. 48, at the end,) remarks, “To be powerful is, among one’s own people, a biting and a burning; to be eminent among one’s fellow-citizens and neighbours burns up one’s neighbours’ glory; and if neighbours owe honour to a neighbour they count it slavery.” There is an amusing apologue of a parrot, which touches this subject. A parrot, brought from the East to the West, where birds of this kind are not common, wondered that he was held in greater esteem and honour than he had been accustomed to in his own country. He occupied an ivory cage plaited with silver wire, and fed on the daintiest viands, such as did not fall to the share of the others, which were only western birds, but inferior to himself neither in beauty nor in the power of imitating the human voice. Then says a turtle-dove, shut up in the same cage with him, “There is nothing wonderful in this, for no one receives in his own country the honour which is his due.”

Tropologically: Christ here teaches the faithful, particularly men devoted to the Apostolic calling, that they ought to curb or to divert themselves of all excessive affection for their own country and kinsfolk, that they may be useful to all men—

“The fishes’ native country is the boundless sea;
Let the wide earth the brave man’s country be.”

S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. xviii.) says very well, “For great and noble men there is one country—that Jerusalem which is perceived by the mind, not those countries which we see here, now inhabited by one race of men, now by another.” And again (Orat. xxv.) “These earthly fatherlands, these differences of race, are the scenes, the illusions, of this our short fleeting life. For whatsoever country each one has previously got possession of, whether by injustice or by misfortune, that is called his country, while we are all alike strangers and sojourners, however much we may play upon the meaning of words.” Such was S. Basil, of whom S. Gregory of Nyssa, in his life, writes, “Basil the Great was free from the fear of exile, because he held that the only fatherland of men was Paradise, and regarded all the earth as nature’s common place of exile.”

Luk 4:25  In truth I say to You, there were many widows in the days of Elias (Elijah) in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth.
Luk 4:26  And to none of them was Elias (Elijah) sent, but to Sarepta (Zarephath) of Sidon, to a widow woman.

Three years and six months. This does not appear in the Old Testatment, but Jesus, as God, knew it, and revealed it to S. James, (James 5:17), for as to what is said in 1 Kings 18:1, “The word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying, Go and show thyself to Ahab that I may give rain upon the face of the earth.” This third year is not to be taken from the beginning of the drought, but as from the sojourn of Elias in Sarepta.

Throughout all the earth. In all the land—Israel and the neighbouring region, such as Sidon, and Sarepta, where this widow was.

The sense is that, as Elias, in the time of the famine, procured food for no Israelite, but only for the widow of Sarepta, a Sidonian, a Gentile, and a foreigner, because, valuing the prophet very highly, and believing him that God would provide for her hunger according to his word, she gave him the little oil and meal which she had, postponing her own and her children’s wants to his; so Christ, in like manner, puts the Capernaites before the Nazarenes, His own fellow-citizens, because the former hear Him as a Teacher sent from Heaven, honour Him and pay Him respect, but the latter despise Him as a carpenter, and their own fellow-townsman; and so He imparts to the former the spiritual bread of heavenly doctrine and miracles, but leaves the latter in their spiritual want. For Elias was the type and precursor of Christ, and the widow of Sarepta the type and first-fruits of the Gentiles whom Christ preferred before the Jews, His fellow-countrymen. Bede says that “Sidon” in Hebrew signifies “useless hunting;” “Sarepta,” “conflagration” or “neediness”—namely, of bread; that is, the Gentile world given up to the pursuit of worldly things, and suffering from the conflagration of their carnal passions and the want of spiritual bread. Elias is the prophetic, word, which, being received, feeds the hearts of them that believe.

Luk 4:27  And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian.

Naaman the Syrian, a foreigner and a Gentile (2 Kings 5). As Elisha, following his master Elias, did not prophecy to the Jews, his own people, but to foreigners, and did not therefore heal the lepers that were in Judæa, but Naaman the Gentile, by reason of his faith and their incredulity; so I preach and work miracles among these Capernaite strangers, on account of their faith, reverence, and good-will towards Me, but I leave you Nazarenes alone for your infidelity, your irreverence, and your contempt of Me. For Elisha, like Elias, was a type and forerunner of Christ; and Naaman the Gentile, a type of the Gentiles to whom Christ, leaving the Jews, would, by the apostles, transfer His faith, His church, and His grace. So Bede, Titus, Theophylact, Euthymius, Jansenius, Toletus, and others.

Luk 4:28  And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger.

And all in the synagogue…were filled with anger–because they knew that they were touched by these two examples of the widow and Naaman, as being incredulous, and that a slur was cast upon them as being unworthy of the miracles of Jesus; and again because they were indignant that Jesus, their fellow-townsman and equal, should compare Himself with, and place Himself before, Elias and Elisha, nay, make Himself out the Messiah, from the prophecy of Isaiah; and, lastly, because Christ hinted that He would transfer His gifts from the Jews to the Gentiles. So S. Thomas, Toletus, Francis Lucas, and others

Luk 4:29  And they rose up and thrust him out of the city: and they brought him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

They brought him to the brow of a hill. they dragged Him, as it seemed to them, by violence, but, in reality, Christ of His own accord allowed Himself to be led and dragged. The Greek word  ηγαγον implies a forceful act of leading or driving, as one might do to a stubborn mule.

That they might cast him down headlong—from the top of the hill to the bottom, and so kill Him, as one who had defamed his own native place, and inflicted injury and insult upon it; and therefore they brought Him forth outside of the city, as being unworthy of it, that they might cast Him from the top of the mountain, dash Him down upon the rocks, and break His whole body to pieces. This was a grievous piece of violence on the part of the Nazarenes against Christ, their fellow-citizen, and thus, as Euthymius observes, they confirmed in act, what He had spoken in words, namely, that a prophet is not held in honour in his own country, but dishonoured, nay, slain; and that therefore the Nazarenes were unworthy of the preaching and miracles of Christ.

S. Bonaventure, Toletus, and others add, that they took Christ out of the city to the top of the hill that they might slay Him as a blasphemer, because He had made Himself the Messiah. For though, by the law, the blasphemer was to be stoned, still they wished to cast Christ headlong upon the rocks and stones, because this is the same as if they had stoned Him. Whether the stones are cast at the man, or the man hurled headlong upon the stones, is all one; indeed, the latter is more cruel and terrible. So it was that they cast S. Stephen out of Jerusalem as a blasphemer, and stoned him; and S. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, was hurled down from a pinnacle of the Temple as a blasphemer, because He taught that Christ was the Messiah.

S. Ambrose points out that these men were worse than the devil, who did but set Christ upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and say to Him, “Cast thyself down,” while these did their best to hurl Him down by force. “The heritage of the disciples,” he says, “is worse than that of the master – he tempts the Lord by word, they attempt His life by their act—he says, ‘Cast thyself down,’ they do Him violence in order to cast Him down.”

Luk 4:30  But he passing through the midst of them, went his way.

Maldonatus thinks that Christ here made Himself invisible, S. Ambrose and Bede that He changed their wills, so that they consented to let Him go. Others hold the better opinion that Christ turned away their imagination or their eyes, or suspended their consciousness and held their hands and feet, so that, like men bereft of their senses, though they saw Him they could not or dared not lay hold of Him. Wherefore Christ here manifested His Godhead. S. Ambrose says, “Behold! the minds of these furious men, being suddenly changed, or stupefied, He goes down through the midst of them.” And he adds the reason, “For when He wills He is taken; when He wills He slips away; when He wills He is slain; because His hour had not yet come,” John vii. 30. For as yet he must preach, and at last be crucified at Jerusalem by the Father’s decree, but not cast down headlong in Nazareth. So Bede, S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and others. Brocardus, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” gives the tradition that Christ glided away from out of the hands of the Jews, and suddenly appeared on the opposite side of the mountain, and that therefore the place is called “the Leap of the Lord.”  N. de Lyra adds that the rock on which Christ stood yielded, and received like wax the impress of His feet, just as, when ascending into heaven from Mount Olivet, He left the marks of His feet there. This is what Adrichomius says, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” on the word “the Leap of the Lord:” “The tradition is that Christ fled to a high mountain, which is called from that circumstance ‘the Leap of the Lord,’ and that, at the touch of His garment, the rock flowed, and being melted and loosened like wax, made a kind of hollow for the Lord’s body to be received in and protected, a hollow of a capacity equal to the quantity of the Lord’s body. And in this, even at the present day, the lineaments and folds of the garment on the Lord’s back, and the marks of His feet are preserved, marked out as though by the hand of a sculptor.” This, however, lacks confirmation.

17 Jan

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 2:1-11

Jn 2:1-3  .  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.

Seasonably comes He at length, to the beginning of miracles, even if He seems to have been called to it without set purpose. For a marriage feast being held (it is clear that it was altogether holily), the mother of the Saviour is present, and Himself also being bidden comes together with His own disciples, to work miracles rather than to feast with them, and yet more to sanctify the very beginning of the birth of man: I mean so far as appertains to the flesh. For it was fitting that He, Who was renewing the very nature of man, and refashioning it all for the better, should not only impart His blessing to those already called into being, but also prepare before grace for those soon to be born, and make holy their entrance into being.

Receive also yet a third reason. It had been said to the woman by God, In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. How then was it not needful that we should thrust off this curse too, or how else could we escape a condemned marriage? This too the Saviour, being loving to man, removes. For He, the Delight and Joy of all, honoured marriage with His Presence, that He might expel the old shame of child-bearing. For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; and old things are passed away, as Paul saith, they are become new. He cometh therefore with. His disciples to the marriage. For it was needful that the lovers of miracles should be present with the Wonderworker, to collect what was wrought as a kind of food to their faith. But when wine failed the feasters, His mother called the Lord being good according to His wonted Love for man, saying, They have no wine. For since it was in His Power to do whatsoever He would, she urges Him to the miracle.

4 Jesus saith unto her Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

Most excellently did the Saviour fashion for us this |156 discourse also. For it behoved Him not to come hastily to action, nor to appear a Worker of miracles as though of His Own accord, but, being called, hardly to come thereto, and to grant the grace to the necessity rather than to the lookers on. But the issue of things longed for seems somehow to be even more grateful, when granted not off-hand to those who ask for it, but through a little delay put forth to most lovely hope. Besides, Christ hereby shews that the deepest honour is due to parents, admitting out of reverence to His Mother what He willed not as yet to do.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do.

The woman having great influence to the performing of the miracle, prevailed, persuading the Lord, on account of what was fitting, as her Son. She begins the work by preparing the servants of the assembly to obey the things that should be enjoined.

7, 8, 9, 10 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was (but the servants which drew the water knew); the governor of the feast called the bridegroom and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

The ministers accomplish what is commanded, and by unspeakable might was the water changed into wine. For what is hard to Him Who can do all things? He that calleth into being things which are not, how will He weary, trans-ordering into what He will things already made? They marvel at the thing, as strange; for such are Christ’s works to look upon. But the governor of the feast charges the bridegroom with expending what was better on the latter end of the feast, not unfitly, as appears to me, according to the narration of the story. |157

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him.

Many most excellent things were accomplished at once through the one first miracle. For honourable marriage was sanctified, the curse on women put away (for no more in sorrow shall they bring forth children, now Christ has blessed the very beginning of our birth), and the glory of our Saviour shone forth as the sun’s rays, and more than this, the disciples are confirmed in faith by the miracle.

The historical account then will stop here, but I think we ought to consider the other view of what has been said, and to say what is therein signified. The Word of God came down then from Heaven, as He Himself saith, in order that having as a Bridegroom, made human nature His own, He might persuade it to bring forth the spiritual offspring of Wisdom. And hence reasonably is the human nature called the bride, the Saviour the Bridegroom; since holy Scripture carries up language from human things to a meaning that is above us. The marriage is consummated on the third day, that is, in the last times of the present world: for the number three gives us beginning, middle, end. For thus is the whole of time measured. And in harmony with this do we see that which is said by one of the prophets, He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us, in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His Sight. Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord; His going forth is prepared as the morning. For He smote us for the transgression of Adam, saying, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. That which was smitten by corruption and death He bound up on the third day: that is, not in the first, or in the middle, but in the last ages, when for us made Man, He rendered all our nature whole, raising it from the dead in Himself. Wherefore He is also called the Firstfruits of them that slept. Therefore in saying it was the third day, whereon the marriage was being consummated, he signifies the last time. He mentions the place too; for he says it was in Cana of |158 Galilee. Let him that loves learning again note well: for not in Jerusalem is the gathering, but without Judaea is the feast celebrated, as it were in the country of the Gentiles. For it is Galilee of the gentiles, as the prophet saith. It is I suppose altogether plain, that the synagogue of the Jews rejected the Bridegroom from Heaven, and that the church of the Gentiles received Him, and that very gladly. The Saviour comes to the marriage not of His own accord; for He was being bidden by many voices of the Saints. But wine failed the feasters; for the law perfected nothing, the Mosaic writing sufficed not for perfect enjoyment, but neither did the measure of implanted sobriety reach forth so as to be able to save us. It was therefore true to say of us too, They have no wine. But the BounteousGod doth not overlook our nature worn out with want of good things. He set forth wine better than the first, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. And the law hath no perfection in good things, but the Divine instructions of Gospel teaching bring in fullest blessing. The ruler of the feast marvels at the wine: for every one, I suppose, of those ordained to the Divine Priesthood, and entrusted with the house of our Saviour Christ, is astonished at His doctrine which is above the Law. But Christ commandeth it to be given to him first, because, according to the voice of Paul, The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. And let the hearer again consider what I say. (source)

12 Jan

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 29

A Psalm OF David Himself, OF The Consummation OF The Tabernacle.

1. A Psalm of the Mediator Himself, strong of hand, of the perfection of the Church in this world, where she wars in time against the devil.

2. The Prophet speaks, “Bring unto the Lord, O ye Sons of God, bring unto the Lord the young of rams” (ver. 1). Bring unto the Lord yourselves, whom the Apostles, the leaders of the flocks, have begotten by the Gospel. “Bring unto the Lord glory and honour” (ver. 2). By your works let the Lord be glorified and honoured. “Bring unto the Lord glory to His name.” Let Him be made known gloriously throughout the world. “Worship the Lord in His holy court.” Worship the Lord in your heart enlarged and sanctified. For ye are His regal holy habitation. (“Young rams” reflects a minority reading found in some Hebrew manuscripts and was adopted by the Septuagint and the Vulgate, along with some early Protestant translations).

3. “The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters” (ver. 3). The Voice of Christ is upon the people. “The God of majesty hath thundered.” The God of majesty, from the cloud of the flesh, hath awfully preached repentance. “The Lord is upon many waters.” The Lord Jesus Himself, after that He sent forth His Voice upon the people, and so.

4. “The Voice of the Lord is in power” (ver. 4). The Voice of the Lord now in them themselves, making them powerful. “The Voice of the Lord is in great might.” The Voice of the Lord working great things in them.

5. “The Voice of the Lord breaking the cedars” (ver. 5). The Voice of the Lord humbling the proud in brokenness of heart. “The Lord shall break the cedars of Libanus.” The Lord by repentance shall break them that are lifted on high by the splendour of earthly nobility, when to confound them He shall have “chosen the base things of this world,” in the which to display His Divinity.

6. “And shall bruise them as the calf of Libanus” (ver. 6). And when their proud exaltation hath been cut off, He will lay them low after the imitation of His Own humility, who like a calf was led to slaughter by the nobility of this world. “For the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers agreed together against the Lord, and against His Christ.” “And the Beloved is as the young of the unicorns.” For even He the Beloved, and the Only One of the Father, “emptied Himself” of His glory; and was made man, like a child of the Jews, that were “ignorant of God’s righteousness,” and proudly boasting of their own righteousness as peculiarly theirs.

7. “The Voice of the Lord cutting short the flame of fire” (ver. 7). The Voice of the Lord, without any harm to Himself, passing through all the excited ardour of them that persecute Him, or dividing the furious rage of His persecutors, so that some should say, “Is not this haply the very Christ;” others, “Nay; but He deceiveth the people:” and so cutting short their mad tumult, as to pass some over into His love, and leave others in their malice.

8. “The Voice of the Lord moving the wilderness” (ver. 8). The Voice of the Lord moving to the faith the Gentiles once “without hope, and without God in the world;” where no prophet, no preacher of God’s word, as it were, no man had dwelt. “And the Lord will move the desert of Cades.” And then the Lord will cause the holy word of His Scriptures to be fully known, which was abandoned by the Jews who understood it not.

9. “The Voice of the Lord perfecting the stags” (ver. 9). For the Voice of the Lord hath first perfected them that overcame and repelled the envonomed tongues. “And will reveal the woods.” And then will He reveal to them the darknesses of the Divine books, and the shadowy depths of the mysteries, where they feed with freedom. “And in His temple doth every man speak of His glory.” And in His Church all born again to an eternal hope praise God, each for His own gift, which He hath received from the Holy Spirit.

10. “The Lord inhabiteth the deluge” (ver. 10). The Lord therefore first inhabiteth the deluge of this world in His Saints, kept safely in the Church, as in the ark. “And the Lord shall sit a King for ever.” And afterward He will sit reigning in them for ever.

11. “The Lord will give strength to His people” (ver. 11). For the Lord will give strength to His people fighting against the storms and whirlwinds of this world, for peace in this world He hath not promised them. “The Lord will bless His people in peace.” And the same Lord will bless His people, affording them peace in Himself; for, saith He, “My peace I give unto you, My peace I leave with you.”

17 Apr

St Augstine on The Gospel for Monday of Holy Week (John 12:1-11)

5. “Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom Jesus raised from the dead. And there they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that reclined at the table.” To prevent people thinking that the man had become a phantom, because he had risen from the dead, he was one of those who reclined at table; he was living, speaking, feasting: the truth was made manifest, and the unbelief of the Jews was confounded. The Lord, therefore, reclined at table with Lazarus and the others; and they were waited on by Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus.

6. But “Mary,” the other sister of Lazarus, “took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Such was the incident, let us look into the mystery it imported. Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment was righteousness, and therefore it was [exactly] a pound weight: but it was ointment of pure nard [nardi pistici], very precious. From his calling it “pistici,”6 we ought to infer that there was some locality from which it derived its preciousness: but this does not exhaust its meaning, and it harmonizes well with a sacramental symbol. The root of the word [“pure”] in the Greek is by us called “faith.” Thou weft seeking to work righteousness: the just shall live by faith.7 Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord’s footsteps. Wipe them l with thy hair: what thou hast of superfluity, give to the poor, and thou hast wiped the feet of the Lord; for the hair seems to be the superfluous part of the body. Thou hast something to spare of thy abundance: it is superfluous to thee, but necessary for the feet of the Lord. Perhaps on this earth the Lord’s feet are still in need. For of whom but of His members is He yet to say in the end, “Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of mine, ye did it unto me”?8 Ye spent what was superfluous for yourselves, but ye have done what was grateful to my feet.

7. “And the house was filled with the odor.” The world is filled with the fame of a good character: for a good character is as a pleasant odor. Those who live wickedly and bear the name of Christians, do injury to Christ: of such it is said, that through them “the name of the Lord is blasphemed.”9 If through such God’s name is blasphemed, through the good the name of the Lord is honored. Listen to the apostle, when he says, “We are a sweet savor of Christ in every place.” As it is said also in the Song of Songs, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth.”10 Attend again to the apostle: “We are a sweet savor,” he says, “of Christ in every place, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of life unto life, to the other the savor of death unto death: and who is sufficient for I these things?”11 The lesson of the holy Gospel before us affords us the opportunity of so speaking of that savor, that we on our part may give worthy utterance, and you diligent heed, to what is thus expressed by the apostle himself, “And who is sufficient for these things?” But have we any reason to infer from these words that we are qualified to attempt speaking on such a subject, or you to hear? We, indeed, are not so; but He is sufficient, who is pleased to speak by us what it may be for your profit to hear. The apostle, you see, is, as he calls himself, “a sweet savor:” but that sweet savor is “to some the savor of life unto life, and to others the savor of death unto death;” and yet all the while “a sweet savor” in itself. For he does not say, does he, To some we are a sweet savor unto life, to others an evil savor unto death? He called himself a sweet savor, not an evil; and represented himself as the same sweet savor, to some unto life, to others unto death. Happy they who find life in this sweet savor! but what misery can be greater than theirs, to whom the sweet savor is the messenger of death?

8. And who is it, says some one, that is thus slain by the sweet savor? It is to this the apostle alludes in the words, “And who is sufficient for these things?” In what wonderful ways God brings it about that the good savor is fraught both with life to the good, and with death to the wicked; how it is so, so far as the Lord is pleased to inspire my thoughts (for it may still conceal a deeper meaning beyond my power to penetrate),-yet so far, I say, as my power of penetration has reached, you ought not to have the information withheld. The integrity of the Apostle Paul’s life and conduct, his preaching of righteousness in word and exhibition of it in works, his wondrous power as a teacher and his fidelity as a steward, were everywhere noised abroad: he was loved by some, and envied by others. For he himself tells us in a certain place of some, that they preached Christ not sincerely, but of envy; “thinking,” he says, “to add affliction to my bonds.” But what does he add? “Whether in pretence or in truth, let Christ be preached.”12 They preach who love me, they preach who hate me; in that good savor the former live, in it the others die: and yet by the preaching of both let the name of Christ be proclaimed, with this excellent savor let the world be filled. Hast thou been loving one whose conduct evidenced his goodness then in this good savor thou hast lived. Hast thou been envying such a one then in this same savor thou hast died. But hast thou, pray, in thus choosing to die, converted this savor into an evil one? Turn from thine envious feelings, and the good savor will cease to slay thee.

9. And now, lastly, listen to what we have here, how this ointment was to some a sweet savor unto life, and to others a sweet savor unto death. When the pious Mary had rendered this grateful service to the Lord, straightway one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was yet to betray Him, said, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” Alas for thee, wretched man! the sweet savor hath slain thee. For the cause that led him so to speak is disclosed by the holy evangelist. But we, too, might have supposed, had not the real state of his mind been revealed in the Gospel, that the care of the poor might have induced him so to speak. Not so. What then? Hearkeu to a true witness: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the money bag, and bare13 what was put therein.” Did he bear it about, or bear it away? For the common service he bore it, as a thief he bore it away.

10. Look now, and learn that this Judas did not become perverted only at the time when he yielded to the bribery of the Jews and betrayed his Lord. For not a few, inattentive to the Gospel, suppose that Judas only perished when he accepted money from the Jews to betray the Lord. It was not then that he perished, but he was already a thief, and a reprobate, when following the Lord; for it was with his body and not with his heart that he followed. He made up the apostolic number of twelve, but had no part in the apostolic blessedness: he had been made the twelfth in semblance, and on his departure, and the succession of another, the apostolic reality was completed, and the entireness of the number conserved.14 What lesson then, my brethren, did our Lord Jesus Christ wish to impress on His Church, when it pleased Him to have one castaway among the twelve, but this, that we should bear with the wicked, and refrain from dividing the body of Christ? Here you have Judas among the saints,-that Judas, mark you! who was a thief, yea-do not overlook it-not a thief of any ordinary type, but a thief and a sacrilegist: a robber of money bags, but of such as were the Lord’s; of money bags, but of such as were sacred. If there is a distinction made in the public courts between such crimes as ordinary theft and peculation,-for by peculation we mean the theft of public property; and private theft is not visited with the same sentence as public,-how much more severe ought to be the sentence on the sacrilegious thief, who has dared to steal, not from places of any ordinary kind, but to steal from the Church? He who thieves from the Church, stands side by side with the castaway Judas. Such was this man Judas, and yet he went in and out with the eleven holy disciples. With them he came even to the table of the Lord: he was permitted to have intercourse with them, but he could not contaminate them. Of one bread did both Peter and Judas partake, and yet what communion had the believer with the infidel? Peter’s partaking was unto life, but that of Judas unto death. For that good bread was just like the sweet savor. For as the sweet savor, so also does the good bread give life to the good, and bring death to the wicked. “For he that eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself:”15 “judgment to himself,” not to thee. If, then, it is judgment to himself, not to thee, bear as one that is good with him that is evil, that thou mayest attain unto the rewards of the good, and be not hurled into the punishment of the wicked.

11. Lay to heart our Lord’s example while living with man upon earth. Why had He a money bag, who was ministered unto by angels, save to intimate that His Church was destined thereafter to have her repository for money? Why gave He admission to a thief, save to teach His Church patiently to bear with thieves? But he who had formed the habit of abstracting money from the bag, did not hesitate for money received to sell the Lord Himself. But let us see what answer our Lord gave to such words. See, brethren: He does not say to him, Thou speakest so on account of thy thievishness. He knew him to be a thief, yet did not betray him, but rather endured him, and showed us an example of patience in tolerating the wicked in the Church. “Then said Jesus to him: Let her keep it against the day of my burial.”16 He announced that His own death was at hand.

12. But what follows? “For the poor ye have always with you, but me ye will not have always.” We can certainly understand, “thepoor ye have always;” what He has thus said is true. When were the poor wanting in the Church? “But me ye will not have always;” what does He mean by this? How are we to understand, “Me ye will not have always”? Don’t be alarmed: it was addressed to Judas. Why, then, did He not say, thou wilt have, but, ye will have? Because Judas is not here a unit. One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.”17 If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven,-for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven:-if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church, then to these latter was it said, “But me ye will not have always.” But what means the “not always;” and what, the “always”? If thou art good, if thou belongest to the body represented by Peter, thou hast Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar. Thou hast Christ now, but thou wilt have Him always; for when thou hast gone hence, thou wilt come to Him who saidto the robber, “To-day shall thou be with me in paradise.”18 But if thou livest wickedly, thou mayest seem to have Christ now, because thou enterest the Church, signest thyself with the sign of Christ, art baptized with the baptism of Christ, minglest thyself with the members of Christ, and approachest His altar: now thou hast Christ, but by living wickedly thou wilt not have Him always.

13. It may be also understood in this way: “The poor ye will have always with you, but me ye will not have always.” The good may take it also as addressed to themselves, but not so as to be any source of anxiety; for He was speaking of His bodily presence. For in respect of His majesty, His providence, His ineffable and invisible grace, His own words are fulfilled, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.”19 But in respect of the flesh He assumed as the Word, in respect of that which He was as the son of the Virgin, of that wherein He was seized by the Jews, nailed to the tree, let down from the cross, enveloped in a shroud, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in His resurrection, “ye will not have Him always.” And why? Because in respect of His bodily presence He associated for forty days with His disciples, and then, having brought them forth for the purpose of beholding and not of following Him, He ascended into heaven and is no longer here. He is there, indeed, sitting at the right hand of the Father; and He is here also, having never withdrawn the presence of His glory. In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, “Me ye will not have always.” In this respect the Church enjoyed His presence only for a few days: now it possesses Him by faith, without seeing Him with the eyes. In whichever way, then, it was said, “But me ye will not have always,” it can no longer, I suppose, after this twofold solution, remain as a subject of doubt.

14. Let us listen to the other few points that remain: “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.” They were drawn by curiosity, not by charity: they came and saw. Hearken to the strange scheming of human vanity. Having seen Lazarus as one raised from the dead,-for the fame of such a miracle of the Lord’s had been accompanied everywhere with so much evidence of its genuineness, and it had been so openly performed, that they could neither conceal nor deny what had been done,-only think of the plan they hit upon. “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” O foolish consultation and blinded rage! Could not Christ the Lord, who was able to raise the dead, raise also the slain? When you were preparing a violent death for Lazarus, were you at the same time denuding the Lord of His power? If you think a dead man one thing, a murdered man another, look you only to this, that the Lord made both, and raised Lazarus to life when dead, and Himself when slain.

16 Apr

St Cyril of Alexandria on John 13:1-15 for Holy Thursday’s Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

xiii. 1 Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in this world, He loved them unto the end.

The meaning contained in the words before us seems |172 to most men somewhat obscure and not very capable of exact explanation, nor indeed to possess (as any one might suppose) any simple signification. For what can be the reason why the inspired Evangelist at this point notifies to us particularly, and (so to speak) as a necessary sequence of things, that: Before the feast of the passover, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, Christ acted as He did? And again, what is the meaning of: Having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end? Allowing therefore that the uncertainty involved in this passage is by no means slight, I suppose it to imply something of this sort, namely, that the Saviour, before enduring His suffering for our salvation, although aware (says the Evangelist) that the time of His translation to heaven was now close even at the doors, gave a proof of the absolute perfection of His love for His own that were in this world. And if there is any necessity for conceiving a wider meaning for the passage, I will only repeat once more what I was saying just now. To Christ our Saviour peculiarly belong as His own possessions all things made by Him, all intellectual and reasonable creatures, the powers above, and thrones, and principalities, and all things akin to these, in so far as regards the fact of their having been made [by Him]; and again, to Him peculiarly belong also the rational beings on earth, inasmuch as He is Lord of all, even though some refuse to adore Him as Creator. He loved therefore His own that were in the world. For not of angels doth He take hold, according to the voice of Paul; nor was it for the sake of the angelic nature, that, being in the form of God the Father, He counted it not a prize to he on an equality with God: but rather for the sake of us who are in the world, He the Lord of all has emptied Himself and assumed the form of a servant, called thereto by His love for us. Having therefore loved His own which were in this world, He loved them unto the end, although indeed before the feast, even before the passover, He knew that His hour was come that |173 He should depart out of this world unto the Father. For it would have been the manner of one who loved them, but not unto the end, to have become man, and then to have been unwilling to meet danger for the life of all; but He did love unto the end, not shrinking from suffering even this, although knowing beforehand that He would so suffer. For the Saviour’s suffering was not by Him unforeseen. While therefore, says the Evangelist, He might have escaped the rude insolence of the Jews and the unholiness of those who were meditating His Crucifixion, He gave a proof of the absolute perfection of His love towards His own which were in the world; for He did not shrink in the least from being offered up for the life of all mankind. For that herein especially we may see the most perfect measure of love, I will bring forward our Lord Jesus Christ Himself as witness, in saying to His holy disciples: This is My commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And for another reason the holy Evangelists always set themselves purposely to shew that our Lord Jesus the Christ foreknew the time of His suffering, namely, lest any of those who are wont to be heterodox should disparage His Divine glory by saying that Christ was overpowered through weakness on His part, and that it was against His will that He fell into the snares of the Jews and endured that death which was so very aweful. Therefore the language of the holy men is in accordance with the Divine system and profitable for our instruction.

2, 3, 4, 5 And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s [son], to betray Him, [Jesus,] knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God, and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments; and He took a towel, and girded Himself. Then He poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.

The Saviour strives to eradicate utterly from our thoughts |174 the vice of pride, as the basest of all human failings, and worthy of universal and utter abomination. For He knows that nothing so commonly injures the soul of man as this most loathsome and detestible passion, to which even the Lord of all Himself stands in just opposition, after the manner of an open foe; for the Lord resisteth the proud, according to the voice of Solomon. The holy disciples therefore especially stood in need of a sober and submissive temper, and of a mind that reckoned empty honour as no high ambition. For they possessed in no slight degree the germs of this sad infirmity, and would have easily glided down into subjection to it, if they had not received great help. For it is always against those who occupy an illustrious position that the malignant monster vainglory directs its attacks. Think then, what position can be more brilliant than that of the holy Apostles? or what more attractive of attention than their friendship with God? A man who is of little account in life would not be likely to experience this passion: for it always avoids one who possesses nothing that others can envy and nothing that is inaccessible to those whose lot is of no consequence in the world; for how could such a one possibly exhibit vainglory on any subject whatever? But pride is a feeling dear to a man when he is in an enviable position, and when for this reason he thinks himself better than his neighbour; foolishly supposing that he differs very greatly from the rest of mankind, as having achieved some special and surpassing degree of excellence, or as having followed a path of policy unfamiliar to and untrodden by the rest of the world. Since therefore it has come to be regularly characteristic of all who hold brilliant positions to be liable to attacks of the infirmity of pride, it was surely needful for the holy Apostles to find in Christ a Pattern of a modest temper; so that, having the Lord of all as their model and standard, they themselves also might mould their own hearts according to the Divine will. In no other way therefore (as it seems) could He rid them from the infirmity, except by teaching them clearly that each one should regard himself as inferior |175 in honour to the rest, even so far as to feel bound to undertake the part of a servant, without shrinking from discharging even the lowest of menial offices; [and this He taught them] by both washing the feet of the brethren and girding on a towel in order to perform the act. For consider what utterly menial behaviour it is, I mean according to the world’s way of thinking and outward practice. Therefore Christ has become a Pattern of a modest and unassuming temper to all living men, for we must not suppose the teaching was meant for the disciples alone. Accordingly the inspired Paul also, taking Christ as a standard, exhorts to this end, saying: Let each one of you have this mind in himself, which was also in Christ Jesus. And again: In lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself. For in a lowly temper there is established a settled habit of love and of yielding to the will of others. Moreover, in order to highly exalt the significance of what was done, and to prevent us from supposing that Christ’s action was a commonplace one, the inspired Evangelist again cannot help being astounded at the thought of the glory and the power that were in Christ, and His supremacy over all; as he shows by saying: Knowing that the Father had committed all things into His hands. For although, he says, Christ was not ignorant that He possessed authority over all, and that He came forth from God, that is, was begotten of the Essence of God the Father, and goeth unto God, that is, returns again to the heavens, there sitting as we know by the side of His own Father; yet so excessive was the humiliation He underwent that He even girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples. As therefore we have in this act of Christ a very excellent pattern of affectionate care, and a most conspicuous standard for our love for each other to imitate, let us be modest in mind, beloved, and let us consider that, whatever may be our own goodness, our brethren have attained to greater excellences than those to be found in ourselves. For that we may both think and be willing to think in this way, is the wish of Him Who is our great Pattern. |176

6, 7 So He cometh to Simon Peter, and he saith unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt understand hereafter. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.

The fiery and impulsive character of Peter, always far more eager than the other disciples to display devotion, can be observed, one might almost say, throughout all the records that are written of him. And so it happens that on this occasion also, following the bent of his peculiar character and usual tone of mind, he thrusts aside the lesson of extreme humility and love, the record of which has been preserved in this passage,—-remembering on the one hand who he is himself by nature, and on the other hand Who He is that is bringing the bason to him, and shrinking not from fulfilling the duty of a menial servant. For he is dismayed not a little at the action, which is in a manner hard of acceptance to faith, even though it happened to be seen by many eyes. For who is there who would not have shuddered at learning that He Who with the Father is Lord of all had shown His devotion to the service of His own disciples to be so intensely compassionate, that the very thing that seems to be the work of the lowest grade among servants, He willingly and of deliberate intention performed, to furnish a pattern and type of modesty in temper? Therefore the inspired disciple is dismayed and distressed at the circumstance, and makes the refusal as a natural result of his accustomed and habitual devotion. Moreover, not yet understanding the cause of the action, he supposes that the Lord is doing it with no special motive, and thinking only of the refreshment of their bodies; for that is the sole object of washing the feet, and not a little does it relieve their condition after walking. On this account he insists even very earnestly, saying: Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? For surely, he says, surely this ought to be done by us who are by nature in the condition of “servants,” not by Thee, the “Lord” of all. Christ however defers for a |177 while the explanation of the event; yet, to make him account its cause more weighty, He tells Peter that he should understand what the action meant hereafter, meaning of course at the time when He should give a fuller explanation of it.

And this point again, taken in connection with the others, will profit us not a little. For notice how, when the occasion calls for action, He defers His discourse; and again, when the occasion calls for discourse, He postpones action: for He was ever wont to assign all things to their fit and proper seasons. When therefore Peter made a sign of dissent, and plainly asserted that Christ should never wash his feet, the Saviour at once lays clearly before him the loss he would suffer in consequence, saying as follows:

Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.

Inasmuch therefore as He had come to what manifestly and obviously is the central point of the incident before us, He says: “If thou shouldst refuse to receive this strange and novel lesson of humility, thou wouldst find no part or lot with Me.” And since oftentimes our Lord Jesus the Christ, taking small matters as the suggestive occasions of His discourses, makes His exposition of general application; and, drawing out to a wide range the lessons arising out of a single event or the words spoken solely with regard to some individual circumstance, introduces into the discussion of the matters in hand a rich abundance of profitable illustrations: we shall suppose that in this also He meant to say that unless through His grace a man washes away from himself the defilement of sin and error, he will have no share in the life that proceeds from Him, and will remain without a taste of the kingdom of heaven. For the uncleansed may not enter the mansions above, but only they who have their conscience cleansed by love to Christ, and have been sanctified in the Spirit by Holy Baptism. |178

9 Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

He who lately exhibited to us so strongly his opposition to what Christ was doing, and who expressly refused to allow the washing of his feet, now offers not them only, but also hands and head as well. For if, says he, my refusal to assent to Thy wish and Thy deliberate purpose, in the matter of washing my feet, is to be followed by my falling away from my fellowship with Thee, and by my being excluded from the blessings for which I hope; then I will offer Thee my other members also, rather than incur so very frightful a loss. Certainly therefore pious devotion was the motive of the former refusal: it was the behaviour of one who feared to submit to the action because there seemed to be something about it which he could not bring himself to tolerate, and not at all the conduct of one who set himself in opposition to his master’s injunctions. For bearing in mind, as I said, both the dignity of the Saviour and the utter unworthiness of his own nature, he at first refused; but on learning the jeopardy in which he had thus put himself, immediately he hastens to change his will so as to conform to the good pleasure of his Master.

But look again closely, and accept what was done as a pattern for our profit. For in spite of having said: Thou shalt never wash my feet, he in a moment changes from his purpose thus expressed, not allowing it to be the uppermost thought in his mind that he ought to appear truthful in the eyes of men by adhering to his own words, but rather [influenced by the warning] that he would find a greater and more grievous loss to be the necessary consequence of holding to what he had said. Therefore every one ought to guard against using rash and hasty words, and no one ought in a spirit of violent energy to hastily urge a course of action, which on account of its very recklessness may be afterwards bitterly regretted. But if anything should ever happen to be said by any one in |179 such a way that by persistence in adhering to it something of great value and importance would suffer harm, let the speaker in such a case learn from the words before us that it is very much better for him not to preserve consistency, and not to vainly carry out an intention merely because he has once given expression to it, but rather to use all his efforts to do what will really be profitable to him. For every one, I imagine, will allow that it is safer to incur an indictment for inconsistency in our words, than to suffer a loss of indispensable blessings. And let swearing be altogether absent from our conversation; for words are often spoken on the spur of the moment and without deliberate intention, and our plans are necessarily liable to occasional change and chance. For surely it may be called a worthy and in very truth an enviable possession, to have a discreet tongue, that very rarely lapses into unbefitting language. And since even the Divine Scripture itself has shown to us that the matter is one for violent and tedious struggling—-for, as it is written, the tongue can no man tame,—-let us keep the utterance of our words free from oaths. For then, if circumstances compel us to refrain from carrying out something we have said, the blame will be less, and our error will be liable to a less severe indictment. And readily will pardon be granted, I think, even by God Himself, for the thoughtless levity of language that is ever besetting us: for who can understand his errors? according to that which is written. Else surely man would utterly perish from the face of the earth, since most easily does language fall away into mistakes of all kinds; for it is a work of the greatest difficulty to keep our tongue under due restraint. |180

10, 11 Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew him that should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean.

He draws His illustration from a common incident of ordinary human life, and opportunely contrives the rebuke to the traitor, teaching the man both to repent of his purpose and to change himself to a better mind. For even if Christ’s reproaches do not yet convict him of his meditated treachery, yet the saying must carry with it a stern significance. For in testifying to the perfect cleanness of some [but not all] of the disciples, He thereby makes the one who was not clean feel an uneasy suspicion, and points out the presence of a polluted one. For Christ graciously commends the cleanness of His other disciples, as shown by their willing joy in attending on Him continually, the hardship they underwent in following Him, their firmness in faith, and their fulness of love towards Him. On Judas, however, the reproach of his insatiable covetousness and the feebleness of his affection for our Lord Jesus the Christ are branding the ineffaceable stain, and steeping him in the pollution, of his incomparably hideous treachery. When therefore Christ says: Now ye are clean, but not all, though the language is obscure, yet it conveys a profitable rebuke to the traitor. For although He did not speak plainly, as we have just said, still in each man’s heart conscience was sitting in judgment, pricking the sinner to the heart, and bringing home to the guilty one the force of the words according to their necessary meaning.

And notice how fully the conduct of Christ is expressive of a certain set purpose and of God-befitting forbearance. For if He had said plainly who it was that would betray Him, He would have made the other disciples to be at enmity with the traitor. Judas might thence perhaps have suffered some fatal mischief, and |181 have undergone a premature penalty at the hands of one who was spurred on by pious zeal to prevent the murder of his Master by previously putting to death His would-be betrayer. Therefore, by merely giving an obscure hint, and then leaving the conviction to gnaw its way to the conscience, He proved incontestably the greatness of His inherent forbearance. For although He well, knew that Judas had no kindly feeling or wise consideration for His Master, but that he was full of the poison of devilish bitterness and even then devising the means whereby he might effect the betrayal, He honoured him in the same measure as the rest, and washed even his feet also, continually exhibiting the marks of His own love, and not letting loose His anger till He had tried every kind of remonstrance. For thou mayest perceive how this special characteristic also is peculiar to the Divine Nature. For although God knows what is about to happen, He brings His punishment prematurely on no man: but rather, after bearing with the guilty for the utmost length of needful time, when He sees them in no way profiting thereby, but rather remaining in their self-chosen evil ways, then at length He punishes them; showing it to be the actual result of their perverse folly, and not really an effect of His own counsel or of His will. For instance, Ezekiel on this account says: As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of him that dieth, but rather that he should turn from his evil way and live. Therefore with long-suffering and forbearance our Lord Jesus the Christ still treats the traitor just as He does His other disciples, although the devil had already put into his heart to betray Him, (for this also the Evangelist was constrained to point out at the outset of the narrative;) and washes his feet, thus making his impious conduct absolutely inexcusable, so that his apostasy might be seen to be the fruit of the wickedness which was in him. |182

12, 13, 14, 15 So when He had washed the disciples’ feet, and taken His garments, and sat down again, He said unto them: Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call Me Lord, and Master: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.

He now clearly explains the object of what He has done, and says that this example of incomparable humility had been set forth for the sake of the benefit therefrom derived for us: and in making His reproof of pride unanswerable, He is constrained to put forward the conspicuous example of His Own Person. For in such an act anyone may behold the incomparable greatness of His humiliation. When anything is in itself considered most ignoble, or held to be quite undignified, in what manner could it possibly suffer degradation or pass to a stage of lower esteem? For anyone may see that in such a thing, if in nothing else, there is an original and natural baseness. But when we have been observing an object pre-eminent for its high position, our wonder is excited if we see it suddenly humiliated: for it has descended to a sphere not its own. Therefore it was that our Lord Jesus the Christ felt constrained, in giving the lesson of humility to His disciples, or rather through them to all that dwell on the earth, not merely to say: “As I washed your feet, so also ought ye to do,” but rather to bring into conspicuous prominence His peculiar claim to their obedience; and, while setting forth to their minds the glory that was His by natural right, by His action to put to shame the vain-glorious. For He says: Ye yourselves style Me Lord, and Master; and ye say well, for so I am. And observe how in the midst of His discourse He showed His watchful care for the edification of those who believe, and was not unaware of the evil-speaking of the unholy heretics. For after saying to His own disciples: Ye style Me Lord, and Master; then, lest any should suppose that |183 He is not by nature Lord or Master, but that He holds the title simply as a mark of honour from those who shall be devoted to Him, He has emphatically added, to dispel such suggestions, the words: And ye say well, for so I am. For Christ does not hold the title Lord as an empty name of honour, like we do ourselves when, although we remain by nature mere servants, we are decorated by favour of others with titles that surpass our nature and merit: but He is in His nature “Lord,” possessing authority over the universe as God; concerning Whom it is said somewhere by the voice of the Psalmist: For all things serve Thee. And He is by nature “Master [or “Teacher“] also, for all wisdom cometh from the Lord, and by Him cometh all understanding. For inasmuch as He is wisdom He makes all intelligent beings wise, and in every rational creature both in heaven and in earth He implants the intelligence that is fitting for it. For just as, being Himself in His nature Life, He vivifies all things capable of receiving life; so also, since He is Himself the wisdom of the Father, He bestows on all the gifts of wisdom, namely, knowledge and perception of all good things. By nature therefore the Son is Lord and Master of all things. “Since therefore,” [He seems to say,] “I, Who am such as this and so mighty in glory, have shown you that I shrink not from condescending to this ill-befitting humiliation, even to have washed your feet, how will ye any longer refuse to do the like for one another?” And hereby He teaches them not to be ever scornfully declaiming against the honour bestowed on others, but each one to think his fellow-servant to excel himself and in every possible respect to be superior. And very excellent this teaching is: for I do not think anyone can shew us anything to match a temper that is ever averse to arrogance; and nothing so severs brethren and friends as the unbridled passion for miserable and petty dignities. For somehow we are always grasping after what is greater, and the empty honours of life are ever persuading our easily-yielding |184 minds to vault up towards a more brilliant station. In order therefore that we may save ourselves from this disease, and obtain final relief from so loathsome a passion,—-for the passion for vain-glory is a mere fraud, and nothing less,—-let us engrave on our inmost hearts the memory of Christ the King of all men washing His disciples’ feet, to teach us also to wash one another’s feet. For by this means every tendency to arrogance will be kept in restraint, and every form of worldly vain-glory will depart from among us. For if He Who is by nature Lord acts the part of a servant, how shall one that is a servant refuse to undergo any of those things that are altogether proper for his condition, without suffering in consequence the worst possible penalty?

03 Apr

Posts for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (April 3)

Last Weeks Posts: March 27-April 2.

Resources For Today’s Mass (Fourth Sunday of Lent). This is a weekly feature on my blog. The post for next Sunday’s resources (fifth Sunday of Lent) will be published on Wednesday. Some resources are already published, see below.

Father MacIntyre on John 11:1-45 for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

St Cyril of Alexandria on John 11:1-45 for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Father Boylan on Romans 8:8-11 for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Father Callan on Romans 8:8-11 for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

03 Apr

Asterius Amasea on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Bummer! I meant to publish this on March 24, the day on which this Gospel passage was read. It did appear on the blog which is part of my parish’s website. Oh, well, enjoy!

Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day.
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21 Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. And no one did give him: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell.
Luk 16:23 And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom:
Luk 16:24 And he cried and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.
Luk 16:25 And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.
Luk 16:26 And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot, nor from thence come hither.
Luk 16:27 And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren,
Luk 16:28 That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments.
Luk 16:29 And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them.
Luk 16:30 But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.
Luk 16:31 And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.

OUR God and Saviour does not lead men to hate wickedness and love virtue by negative precepts alone, but also by examples he makes clear the lessons of good conduct, bringing us both by deeds and words to the apprehension of a good and godly life. As he has often told us by the mouths of both prophets and evangelists, nay, even by his own voice also, that he turns away from the overbearing and haughty man of wealth, and loves a kindly disposition, and poverty when united to righteousness; so also in this parable, in order to confirm his teaching, he brings effective examples to attest the word, and in the narrative of the rich man and the |20 beggar points out the lavish enjoyment of the one, the straitened life of the other, and the end to which each finally came, in order that we, having discerned the truth from the practices of others, may justly judge our own lives.

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen.1 By two brief words the Scripture ridicules and satirizes the prodigal and unmeasured wastefulness of those who are wickedly rich. For purple is an expensive and superfluous color, and fine linen is not necessary. It is the nature and delight of those that choose a well-ordered and frugal life to measure the use of necessary things by the need of them; and to avoid the rubbish of empty vainglory and deceptive amusement as the mother of wickedness. And that we may see more clearly the meaning and force of |21 this teaching, let us note the original use of clothing; to what extent it is to be employed when kept within rational limits.

What, then, says the law of the Just One? Sheep God created with well-fleeced skins, abounding in wool. Take them, shear it off, and give it to a skilful weaver, and fashion for yourself tunic and mantle, that you may escape both the distress of winter, and the harm of the sun’s burning rays. But if you need for greater comfort lighter clothing in the time of summer, God has given the use of flax, and it is very easy for you to get from it a becoming covering, that at once clothes and refreshes you by its lightness. And while enjoying these garments, give thanks to the Creator that he has not only made us, but has also provided for us comfort and security in living; but if, rejecting the sheep and the wool, the needful provision |22 of the Creator of all things, and departing from rational custom through vain devices and capricious desires, you seek out fine linen, and gather the threads of the Persian worms and weave the spider’s airy web; and going to the dyer, pay large prices in order that he may fish the shell-fish out of the sea and stain the garment with the blood of the creature,—-this is the act of a man surfeited, who misuses his substance, having no place to pour out the superfluity of his wealth. For this in the Gospel such a man is scourged, being portrayed as stupid and womanish, adorning himself with the embellishments of wretched girls.

Others again, according to common report are lovers of like vanity; but having cherished wickedness to a greater degree, they have not restricted their foolish invention even to the things already mentioned; |23 but having found some idle and extravagant style of weaving, which by the twining of the warp and the woof, produces the effect of a picture, and imprints upon their robes the forms of all creatures, they artfully produce, both for themselves and for their wives and children, clothing beflowered and wrought with ten thousand objects. Thenceforth they become self-confident. They no longer engage in serious business; from the vastness of their wealth they misuse life, by not using it;2 they act contrary to Paul and contend against the divinely inspired voices,3 not by words, but by deeds. For what he by word forbade, these men by their deeds support and confirm. When, therefore, they dress themselves and appear in public, they look like pictured walls in the eyes of those that meet them. And |24 perhaps even the children surround them, smiling to one another and pointing out with the finger the picture on the garment; and walk along after them, following them for a long time. On these garments are lions and leopards; bears and bulls and dogs; woods and rocks and hunters; and all attempts to imitate nature by painting. For it was necessary, as it seems, to adorn not only their houses, but finally also their tunics and their mantles.

But such rich men and women as are more pious, have gathered up the gospel history and turned it over to the weavers; I mean Christ himself with all the disciples, and each of the miracles, as recorded in the Gospel. You may see the wedding of Galilee, and the water-pots; the paralytic carrying his bed on his shoulders; the blind man being healed with the clay; the woman with the bloody issue, taking hold of the |25 border of the garment; the sinful woman falling at the feet of Jesus; Lazarus returning to life from the grave. In doing this they consider that they are acting piously and are clad in garments pleasing to God. But if they take my advice let them sell those clothes and honor the living image of God. Do not picture Christ on your garments. It is enough that he once suffered the humiliation of dwelling in a human body which of his own accord he assumed for our sakes. So, not upon your robes but upon your soul carry about his image.

Do not portray the paralytic on your garments, but seek out him that lies sick. Do not tell continually the story of the woman with the bloody issue, but have pity on the straitened widow. Do not contemplate the sinful woman kneeling before the Lord, but, with contrition for your |26 own faults, shed copious tears. Do not sketch Lazarus rising from the dead, but see to it that you attain to the resurrection of the just. Do not carry the blind man about on your clothing, but by your good deeds comfort the living, who has been deprived of sight. Do not paint to the life the baskets of fragments that remained, but feed the hungry. Do not carry upon your mantles the water-pots which were filled in Cana of Galilee, but give the thirsty drink. Thus we have profited by the magnificent raiment of the rich man.

What follows must not, however, be overlooked; for there is added to the purple and fine linen, that he fared sumptuously every day. For of course both the adorning of one’s self with useless magnificence, and serving the belly and the palate luxuriously, belong to the same disposition. Luxuriousness, then, is a thing hostile to |27 virtuous life, but characteristic of idleness and inconsiderate wastefulness, of unmeasured enjoyment and slavish habit. And though at first blush it may seem a simple matter, it proves upon careful investigation to include manifold, great and many-headed evils. Luxuriousness would be impossible without great wealth; but to heap up riches without sin is also impossible; unless indeed it happens to some one rarely, as to Job, both to be abundantly rich, and at the same time to live in exact accord with justice. The man who will give himself to luxury, then, needs first a costly home, adorned like a bride, with gems and marbles and gold, and well adapted to the changes of the seasons of the year. For a dwelling is required that is warm, comfortable in winter, and turned toward the brightness of the south; but open toward the north in the summer, that |28 it may be fanned by northern breezes, light and cool. Besides this, expensive stuffs are demanded to cover the seats, the couches, the beds, the doors. For the rich carefully adorn all things, even things inanimate, while the poor are pitiably naked. Moreover, enumerate the gold and silver vessels, the costly birds from Phasis, wines from Phoenicia, which the vines of Tyre produce in abundance and at a high price, for the rich; and all the rest of the wasteful equipment which only those who use it can name with particularity.

Now luxury, steadily increasing in elaborateness, even mingles Indian spices with the food; and the apothecaries furnish supplies to the cooks rather than to the physicians. Then consider the multitude that serve the table,—-the table-setters, the cupbearers, the stewardesses and the musicians that go before them, women musicians, |29 dancing girls, flute-players, jesters, flatterers, parasites,—-the rabble that follows vanity. That these things may be gained, how many poor are robbed! how many orphans maltreated! how many widows weep! how many, dreadfully tortured, are driven to suicide!

Like one who has tasted some Lethean stream, the self-indulgent soul absolutely forgets what it itself is, and the body to which it has been joined, and that some day it shall be released from this union, and again at some future time inhabit the reconstructed body. But when the appointed time shall come, and the inexorable command separates the soul from the body, then also shall come the recollection of things done in the past life, and vain repentance, too late! For repentance helps when the penitent has power of amendment, but the possibility of reform being |30 taken away, grief is useless and repentance vain.

There was a certain beggar named Lazarus. The narrative describes him not simply as poor, destitute of money, and of the necessaries of life, but also as afflicted with a painful disease, emaciated in body, houseless, homeless, incurable, cast down at the rich man’s gate. And very carefully the narrative finally works up the circumstances of the beggar to signalize the hard-heartedness of him who had no pity; for the man that has no feeling of pity or sympathy for hunger or disease is an unreasoning wild beast in human form, deliberately and wickedly deceiving men; nay more, he is less sympathetic than the very beasts themselves; since, at least, when a hog is slaughtered, the rest of the drove feel some painful sensation and grunt miserably over the freshly spilled |31 blood; and the cattle that stand about when the bull is killed indicate their distress by passionate lowing. Flocks of cranes also when one of their mates is caught in the nets, flutter about him and fill the air with a sort of grieving clamor, seeking to release their mate and fellow. And how unnatural that man, endowed with reason and blessed with culture, who has also been taught goodness by the example of God, should take so little thought of his kinsman in pain and misfortune!

So the suffering but grateful pauper lay without feet, or else certainly he would have fled from the accursed and haughty man, and sought another place instead of the inhospitable gate, which was closed against the poor; he lay without hands, having not even a palm to stretch forth for alms; his very organs of speech were so impaired that his voice was hoarse and harsh; in fact, |32 he was quite mutilated in all his members, the wreck of a foul disease, a pitiable illustration of human infirmity.4 Yet not even such a list of misfortunes moved the haughty man to attention, but he passed the beggar as if he were a stone, deliberately filling up the measure of his sin; for, if accused, he could not utter this common and specious excuse, “I did not know: I was not aware: I did not notice the beggar howling.” For the beggar lay before his gate, a spectacle as he went in and out to make the condemnation of the proud man inevitable. He was even denied the crumbs from the table; and while the rich man was bursting with fulness, he was wasting away with want. Therefore it would have been fair and right to have made the Canaanitish Phoenician woman the teacher of the |33 misanthropic man of wealth, saying those things that are written: “Haughty wretch, even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table,5 and did you not think your brother, one who belongs to the same race, worthy of that bounty?” But the dogs were carefully fed, the watch-dogs by themselves and the hunting-dogs by themselves, and they were deemed worthy of a roof, and beds and attendants were carefully allotted to them; but the image of God was cast on the earth uncared for and trampled on,—-that image which the great Builder and Maker of all fashioned with his own hand, if one regards Moses as having given credible testimony to the genesis of man.

Now if the story of Lazarus had ended at this point, and the nature of things were such that our life was truly represented by |34 the inequality of his career with that of the rich man, I should have cried aloud with indignation,—-that we who are created equal, live on such unequal terms with men of the same race. But since that which remains is good to hear, do you, poor man, who groan over the past, take courage from the sequel, when you learn the blessed enjoyment of your fellow in poverty. For you will find that the just Judge renders exact judgment, so that the man who has lived a life of ease groans, and he who has had hardship finds luxury, each receiving his due reward.

And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Do you see who they were who ministered to the poor and just man, and who took him to heaven? For angels were his body-guard, looking upon him gently and mildly, and betokening by |35 their manner the attendance and relief that awaited him. And he was taken and placed in the bosom of the patriarch, a statement which affords ground for doubt to those who like to question minutely the deep things of the Scriptures, for if every just man, when he dies, should be taken to the same place, the bosom would be a great one and expanded to an endless extent, if it were intended to accommodate the whole multitude of the saints. But if this is absolutely impossible—-for the bosom can scarcely embrace one man and hardly two infants,—-the thought presents itself to us that the material bosom is the symbol of a spiritual truth; for what is it that is meant? Abraham, he says, receives those who have lived an upright life. Then tell us, wonderful Luke,—-for I will address you as though visibly present,—-why, when there were many just men, even older than Abraham, |36 did you withhold this distinction from his predecessors, passing in silence over Enoch, Noah and many others who were like these in their manner of life? But perhaps I understand you, and my judgment does not go wide of the mark. For Abraham was a minister of Christ, and, beyond other men, received the things of the revelation of Christ, and the mystery of the Trinity was adequately bodied forth in the tent of this old man when he entertained the three angels as wayfaring men. In short, after many mystical enigmas, he became the friend of God, who in after time put on flesh and, through the medium of this human veil, openly associated with men. On this account, Christ says that Abraham’s bosom is a sort of fair haven, and sheltered resting-place for the just. For we all have our salvation and expectation of the life to come, in Christ, who, in his |37 human descent, sprang from the flesh of Abraham. And I think the honor in the case of this old man has reference to the Saviour, who is the judge and rewarder of virtue, and who calls the just with a gracious voice, saying: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” 6 And it came to pass that the beggar died. Two sides of the beggar’s life are indicated: on the one hand is shown his poverty, and on the other his modesty and the humility of his character. Let not, therefore, the man who is without substance, in want of money, and clothed in pitiable garb appropriate to himself the praise of virtue, nor think that want will secure for him salvation. For not he who is poor from necessity is commended, but he is held up to admiration who of his own accord moderates his desires. For the poverty of |38 those who are in extreme want, and have at the same time an unmanageable or incorrigible disposition, leads to many evil deeds of daring. Whenever I have come near a ruler’s judgment-seat, I have seen that all housebreakers and kidnappers, thieves and robbers, and even murderers, were poor men, unknown, houseless and hearthless. So that from this it is clear that the Scripture accounts that poor man happy who bears his hardships with a philosophic mind, and shows himself nobly steadfast in the face of his circumstances in life, and does not wickedly do any evil deed to gain for himself the enjoyment of luxury. Such a man the Lord describes even more clearly in the first of the beatitudes, where he says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” 7 So, not every poor man is righteous, but only one who is like Lazarus; nor is every |39 rich man to be despaired of, but only one who has the disposition of him that neglected Lazarus; and in real life we easily find witnesses of this truth. For who is richer than was the godly Job? Nevertheless his great prosperity did not divorce him from righteousness nor, to speak briefly, did it estrange him from virtue. Who is poorer than was Iscariot? His poverty did not secure salvation for him; but while associating with the eleven poor men who loved wisdom, and with the Lord himself, who for our sakes voluntarily became poor,8 he was carried away by the wickedness of his covetous disposition and finally was guilty even of the betrayal.

It is also worth while to examine intelligently how each of these men when dead was carried forth. The poor man when he fell asleep had angels as his guards and |40 attendants, who carried him, full of joyful expectation, to the place of rest; and the rich man, Christ says, died and was buried. It is not possible in any respect to improve the declaration of the Scriptures, since a single sentence adequately indicates the unhonored decease of the rich man. For the sinner when he dies is indeed buried, being earthy in body, and worldly in soul. He debases the spiritual within him to the material by yielding to the enticements of the flesh, leaving behind no good memorial of his life, but, dying the death of beasts, is wrapped in unhonored forgetfulness. For the grave holds the body, and Hades the soul,—-two gloomy prisons dividing between them the punishment of the wicked. And who would not blame the wretched man for his thoughtlessness?—-since when he was on earth he prided himself, held his head high, exulted over all who lived about him and |41 were of the same race, deeming those whom he chanced to meet hardly better than ants and worms, and vainly boasting of his short-lived glory. But when he dies, and like a scourged slave is deprived of those usurped possessions of which in his folly he thought himself master, he is as deeply humiliated as he was previously highly exalted, and, uttering complaints like a lamenting old woman, calls loudly and vainly on the patriarch, saying, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” He seeks mercy, which he had not given when he had the power of benefiting another, and demands that Lazarus shall come down into the fire to him to help him. He prays that he may suck the finger of the leper slightly moistened in water. Such is |42 the thoughtlessness of those who love the body. This is the end of those who love wealth and pleasure. It therefore becomes the wise man who is provident of the future, to consider the parable as a sort of medicine, preventive of sickness; and to flee the experience of like evil, preferring the sympathetic and philanthropic disposition as the condition of the life to come. For the Scripture has presented the admonition to us dramatically in the persons of particular characters in order to impress upon us by a concrete and vivid example the law of good conduct, so that we may never think lightly of the precepts of the Scripture as terrifying in word only, without inflicting the threatened punishment. I know that most men, snared by such fancies, take the liberty of sinning. But the Scripture before us teaches quite the contrary, that neither any confession of |43 the justice of the judgment lightens the punishment, nor does pity for the one in torment lessen the penalty ordained; if indeed it is necessary that the Scripture attest the word of the patriarch. For after the manifold supplications of the rich man, and after hearing countless piteous appeals, Abraham was neither moved by the laments of the suppliant, nor did he remove from his pain the one who was bitterly scourged; but with austere mind he confirmed the final judgment, saying that God had allotted to each according to his desert. And he said to the rich man, Since in life you lived in luxury through the calamities of others, what you are suffering is imposed upon you as the penalty of your sin. But to him who once had hardships, and was trampled on and endured in bitterness life in the flesh, there is allotted here a sweet and joyful existence. |44 And besides, he says, There is also a great gulf which prevents them from intercourse with one another, and separates those who are being punished from those who are being honored, that they may live apart from each other, not mixing the rewards of good and evil deeds. And I suppose the parable to be a material representation of a spiritual truth. For let us not imagine that there is in reality a ditch digged by angels, like the trenches on the outer borders of military camps, but Luke by the similitude of a gulf has represented for us the separation of those who have lived virtuously and those who have lived otherwise. And this thought Isaiah also stamps for us with his approval, speaking somewhat thus: Is the hand of the Lord not strong to save, or is his ear heavy that it cannot hear? But our sins stand between us and God. Source.

19 Mar

St John Chrysostom’s First Discourse on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Note: The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is the subject of the Gospel Reading for Thursday of the Second Week of Lent which falls on March 24 of this year. For a few more resources on this reading one can consult my primary blog on March 24.



1. Yesterday, on the festival of Satan, ye celebrated a spiritual feast, receiving with all favour the word we addressed to you; spending a great portion of the day in thus drinking in that rapture which is full of sobriety, and rejoicing in company with St Paul. In this way ye gained a twofold benefit, since ye were both separate from the disorderly throng of feasters, and rejoiced in a spiritual and decorous manner. Ye also partook of that cup, not overflowing with unmixed wine, but filled with spiritual instruction. While others were following the festive companies of the evil one, ye, by your presence in this place, prepared yourselves as instruments of spiritual music, and surrendered your souls to the Divine Spirit that He might influence them, and breathe His own grace into your hearts. Thus ye gave forth a melody of perfect harmony, pleasing not only to men but also to the heavenly powers. |2

Let us, therefore, to-day, take up arms against inebriety, and expose the folly of a drunken and dissolute life. Let us oppose those who live in intemperance; not that we may shame them, but that we may put them beyond the reach of shame; not that we may blame them, but reform them; not that we may hold them up to contempt, but that we may turn them from all dishonourable exposure, and snatch them from the grasp of the tempter. For he who lives daily in excess of wine and luxury and. gluttony is under the very tyranny of the devil. And oh that something better may result from our words! Should they, however, continue in the same course after our warning, we shall not on that account cease from giving right counsel. For the springs, even if no one drink of them, continue to flow; and fountains, though no one should use their water, still burst forth; and rivers, though no man profit by them, still run on. So then, also, it is right that the preacher, even if no one attend to his voice, should fulfil all his duty.

For also in His love to man, a law is given by God to those who are entrusted with the ministry of the word, never to cease to discharge the duties of their office nor to be silent, whether the people have regard to their voice, or whether they neglect it. Jeremiah, therefore, having declared many threatenings to the Jews and warnings of future evils, was mocked by those who heard his voice, and was ridiculed all the day long. From human infirmity, feeling unable to endure scoffs and reviling, he at one time endeavoured to escape from his ministry. Hear him speak concerning this when he says: “I am in derision daily; then I said, I will not make mention of |3 Him, nor speak any more in the name of the Lord. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay,” (Jer. xx. 7, 9.) This it is which he says;—- “I was desirous to escape from prophesying, since the Jews did not listen to me; and all the while I was desiring this, the influence of the Holy Spirit penetrated like fire into my inmost soul, consuming all my inward parts and my bones, and devouring me, so that I could not endure the burning.” If, therefore, he, when he was laughed at and derided each day; when he desired to be silent, underwent such punishment; of what forgiveness can we be worthy, who never at any time are treated thus, if we faint on account of the slowness of some, and cease from instructing them, and especially when there are so many who are attentive!

2. I do not say these things to console or to comfort myself, for I have made up my mind, as long as I breathe, and as long as it shall seem good to God that I remain in this present life, to fulfil this ministry, and, whether any one attends or not, to do the work allotted to me. But since there are some who weaken the hands of many, and who, besides that they bring forward nothing useful for our present life, and relax the zeal of others, by derision and ridicule, saying: “Cease counselling; leave off warning; they do not attend to you: you have no fellow-feeling with them;”—-since there are those who say such things,—-purposing to expel this wicked and morose idea, this satanic counsel, from the minds of many, I address you thus at length. I know that such things were said even yesterday by many who, when they saw certain |4 people spending time in taverns, said, laughing and deriding: “Are these fully persuaded? These are they who never enter a tavern! Have they all arrived at wisdom?” What dost thou say, O man? Is it this that we undertook to do, to enclose all in the net in one day? For if ten only were persuaded—-if only five,—-if even one,—-is not this sufficient to console us? For my part I can even go beyond this. Suppose that none were persuaded by our words, although it is impossible that the word spoken to so many hearers can be fruitless—-suppose, however, even this,—-still the word would not be without profit.

For, if they did enter a tavern, they did not enter it with such shamelessness as was their wont; but even at the festive table they often thought of our words—-of the rebuke,—-of the blame; which, when they remembered, they would be ashamed—-they would inwardly blush. Neither, though acting in their usual way, did they do so with their usual recklessness. And this is the beginning of salvation, and of the best kind of change—-namely, the being in any degree ashamed—-the disapproving in some measure of that which was being done. Besides this, another and not smaller gain accrues to us from this our work. What then is it? It is the making those who are already wise more careful. It is the persuading them by the word spoken that they are of all men the best advised, since they are not led away with the multitude. I did not restore the sick to health? But I strengthened those that were well. The word did not lead any away from their sin? But it made more steadfast those who were living virtuously. |5

To these reasons I will add a third. I have not persuaded to-day? But I shall persuade, perhaps, to-morrow. Or even if not to-morrow, I may after to-morrow, or even the day following. He who to-day heard and rejected the word, perhaps will hear and obey to-morrow; he who spurns the word to-day and to-morrow, perhaps in a few more days will attend to that which is spoken. For even the fisherman often casts his net the whole day in vain; and in the evening, when he is about to depart, captures and takes home the fish that had escaped him all the day long. And if, on account of frequent want of success, we were to live in idleness, and cease from all work, our whole life would be brought to nought, and not only spiritual affairs but also temporal would be ruined. For also the husbandman, if on account of the once, or twice, or oft-repeated inclemency of the season, were to abandon his work, we all should perish by famine. Again, it the mariner, on account of the once, or twice, or oft-recurring storms, were to forsake the sea, the ocean would become impassable, and in that way also our life would be quite marred. Thus, going through all employments, if men should act as you urge and advise us to do, all would utterly fail, and the earth would become uninhabitable. All men, therefore, having this in view, if once, or twice, or if often they fail to gain the object of the labour in which they spend their time, still apply themselves to the work again with undiminished alacrity.

3. Knowing, then, all these things, beloved, let us not, I beseech you, speak in this way; let us not say, “What is the need of such discourses? No good results from them.” The husbandman once, or twice, or often sowing in the |6 same field, and failing to profit by it, labours again in the same ground, and often recovers in one good year the loss of all his previous time. It often happens that the merchant, suffering from many shipwrecks, does not shun the sea; but prepares his vessel, and hires seamen, and spends money again in the same kind of undertaking, although the future is as uncertain as before. And all who are accustomed to engage in any occupation whatever act in the same way as the husbandman and the merchant. If then they show such zeal in the affairs of this life, although the result is doubtful, shall we, because when we speak we are not listened to, immediately desist? What excuse shall we have? Besides, in their misfortunes, there is no one to console them for their loss, no one who, if the sea engulf the ship, will remove the poverty caused by the wreck. If the rain flood the field and cause the seed to perish, the husbandman must of necessity return home with empty hands. But with us, who preach and warn men, the case is not so. For when thou sowest the seed, and the hearer receives it not, and does not bring forth the fruit of obedience, thou hast the reward of thy intent, laid up with God; and thou wilt receive the same recompense whether the hearer obey or disobey; for thou hast performed all thy duty.

We are not responsible for not convincing those who hear, but only for giving them counsel. It is ours to warn; to give heed to the warning is theirs. And just as, if they do many good deeds without our giving any exhortation, all the gain would be theirs only, since we did not counsel them; so, if they give no heed when we warn, all the punishment falls on them; against us there is no |7 accusation, but rather a great reward from God awaits us, since we have discharged our duty. We are commanded only to give the money to the exchangers,1 that is, to speak and to give counsel. Speak, therefore, and warn thy brother. He listens not? Still thou hast thy reward prepared. Only always act thus, and never give up as long as life lasts, until you succeed in producing conversion. Let the termination of your giving counsel be the reception of your warning.

The Tempter continually goes to and fro to baffle our salvation, while he himself gains nothing, but rather is to the last degree a loser by his zeal; but still so maddened is he, that he often attempts impossible things, and attacks not only those whom he expects to cause utterly to stumble or fall, but also those who in all probability will escape his snares. Therefore, when he heard Job praised by that God who knows all secrets, he thought to be able to overcome, nor did he in his guile cease trying every method and every device in order to cause the man to fall. The Spirit of all evil and wickedness did not shrink from the attempt, though God had ascribed such grace to that just man. Are not we then ashamed? Tell me, do we not blush if, while the Enemy never despairs of accomplishing our ruin, but always expects it, we despair of the salvation of our brethren? In fact, Satan ought, before the attempt, to have abstained from the contest, for it was God himself who testified to the virtue of the righteous man. Still he did not desist, but because of his mad hatred of us, he, even after the favourable testimony of God himself, hoped to deceive that just man. In our case |8 there is no such circumstance to cause us to despair, and still we desist! The devil, also, although forbidden by God, does not cease from fighting against us; but thou, whilst God enjoins and incites thee to the recovery of the fallen, dost fly from the work! The tempter heard God saying: A just man, true, God-fearing, and abstaining from every evil work, and that there was none like him on the earth; yet after such strong and high testimony in favour of Job, he persevered, and said: “Shall I not at length, by the continuousness and greatness of the evils brought upon him, be able to circumvent him, and overthrow this great pillar?”

4. What forgiveness, therefore, will there be for us, if (while we undergo such fury of the wicked one against ourselves) we do not bring to bear even the smallest part of this zeal for the salvation of our brethren, even while in these matters we have God for our helper! For when thou seest thy brother wicked and morose and giving no heed to thee, say thus within thyself: “Shall I not some time or other bo able to persuade him.” Thus also St Paul commanded us to do: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God per-adventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” (2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.) Dost thou not observe how often fathers, when in despair about their children, sit down weeping, bewailing, embracing them, trying everything in their power until the last breath? This do thou also for thy brother. Although parents by their lamentations and tears can neither remove sickness nor avert approaching death, yet thou, in the case of a soul |9 even when given up, mayest through perseverance and assiduity, by lamentation and tears, bring about recovery and restoration. Hast thou given counsel and failed to convince? Then weep, and make frequent efforts; groan deeply, that, shamed by thy constancy, he may turn to seek salvation. What can I do alone? For I singly am not able to be present with you all every day, nor am I sufficient to convince such a multitude. But ye, if ye be minded to care for the salvation of each other, and every one to take in hand one of our neglected brethren—-ye would quickly further the edification of us all.

And what need is there to speak of those who, after repeated warnings, have come to their right mind? It behoves us not to abandon or neglect even those who are diseased incurably, even if we foresee clearly that, after having had the benefit of our zeal and good counsel, they will not at all profit by it. And if this that I say seem to you unreasonable, suffer me to confirm it by things which Christ himself said and did. For we men being ignorant of the future, cannot therefore be certain, as to the hearers, whether they will be persuaded or whether they will disbelieve that which we say; but Christ, knowing both one and the other perfectly, did not cease instructing the disobedient even to the end.

Thus, knowing that Judas would not be turned aside from his treachery, Christ did not desist from trying to turn him from his faithlessness, by counsel, by warnings, by kind treatment, by threatening, by every kind of instruction, and by continually checking him by His words as by a rein. This He did to teach us that, although we know beforehand that the brethren will not be persuaded, |10 we must do all in our power, since the reward of our admonition is sure. Mark also how assiduously and wisely the Lord restrained Judas when He said, “One of you shall betray me,” (Matt. xxvi. 21;) and again, “I speak not of you all. I know whom I have chosen,” (John xiii. 18;) and again, “One of you is a devil,” (John vi. 70.) He preferred to put them all in an agony of doubt rather than reveal the traitor or make him the more shameless by open reproof. For that these sayings produced trouble and dread in the others, although conscious in themselves of no evil, hear them each with earnest striving say, “Lord, is it I?” (Matt. xxvi. 22.)

Not only by words did He instruct him, but also by acts. For while Christ often and fully manifested., His love to man,—-cleansing the lepers, casting out devils, healing the sick, raising the dead, restoring the paralytic, and doing good to all; on the other hand, He punished no one, and constantly said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world,” (John xii. 47.) But that Judas should not think that Christ knew only how to bless and not to punish, Christ teaches him also this very thing, namely, that He was able to punish and inflict penalties on sinners.

5. Behold, then, how wisely and appropriately He teaches him this thing; and notice that He does not consent to punish or inflict a penalty on any human being. And why? In order that the disciple might learn His power to punish. For, had He punished any man, He would have seemed to have acted contrary to His own declaration when He said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” On the other hand, had He exhibited no |11 power of chastisement, the disciple would have remained in error, not learning from His deeds His power of inflicting punishment. How then did it come to pass?

In order that the disciple should be made to fear, and not become worse for lack of reverence, nor himself undergo punishment and penalty, Christ displayed this His power on the fig-tree, saying, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward,” (Matt. xxi. 3 9,) and, by His mere word, caused it instantly to wither. In this way, without causing harm to any man, Pie himself showed His might, though it was only a tree that bore the infliction. And the disciple, if he had attended to this instance of punishment, would have reaped profit from it. Still, however, even thus he was not corrected. And Christ, foreseeing even this, not only did this thing, but afterwards wrought a much greater wonder. For when the Jews came against Him, armed with swords and staves, He caused them all to become blind; this being shown by His saying, “Whom seek ye?” Since Judas had said again and again, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?” (Matt. xxvi. 15,) the Lord, wishing to prove to the Jews, and to let Judas also know, that He went of His own accord to His sufferings, and that all these events were in His own power;—-that He was not overpowered by the wickedness of another, He said, when the traitor with all his companions stood still, “Whom seek ye?” Judas did not know Him whom he came to betray, for his eyes were blinded. Nor was this all, but Christ by His word caused them all to fall backward to the ground. And since even this did not render them less cruel, nor cause the wretched man to desist from his treachery,—-for he was still |12 incorrigible,—-Christ even now did not give up His kindness and regard; but mark how movingly He deals with this mind devoid of shame, and how He speaks words which ought to melt a heart of stone. For when Judas advances to kiss Him, what does Christ say? “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke xxii. 48.) Art thou not ashamed of the manner in which thou betrayest Me? This Christ said to touch him, and bring his former intimacy to remembrance. But while the Lord acted and spoke thus, the betrayer did not change for the better—-not on account of the weakness of Him from whom the counsel came, but the worthlessness of him to whom it came. And Christ, although He foresaw all these things, did not cease, from the beginning to the close of the scene, to do all that was consistent with His own character.

Since we know all these things, we ought to teach and to love, constantly and fully, those of our brethren who are negligent, even though we do not gain the object of our counsel. For if, knowing such a result, the Lord exhibited such solicitude for him who would profit nothing by the warning, what allowance can be made for us, when, not knowing the result, we are thus careless about the salvation of our neighbour,—-when we desist after the second or third warning? Besides all these things that we have said, let us take into consideration our own case, since God addresses us day after day, by the prophets, by the apostles, and day after day we are disobedient; and still He does not cease to reason with and to call upon those who are always obstinate and inattentive. Paul also cries aloud, using these words: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did |13 beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God,” (2 Cor. v. 20.) If one may say a strange thing, he who foresees that the recipient of his counsel will in some degree be persuaded by it, and thus gives his advice, is not worthy of such praise as he who, oftentimes speaking and counselling, fails, but notwithstanding does not cease. For, in the first case, the hope of convincing stimulates him to exertion, even though he should be of all men most slothful; but the other, who gives counsel and is neglected, and still does not desist, gives proof of the most ardent and purest love; he is stimulated by no such hope as in the former instance;—-only through love towards his brother does he persevere in his anxious care.

But that we ought never to desert the fallen, even when we foresee that they will not be persuaded by us, we have already sufficiently shown. In the rest of this discourse, we must proceed with a charge against those who live in luxury. For as long as this feast lasts, Satan inflicts the wounds of excess on the souls of those who indulge in revels, and it is our duty to apply the healing remedies.

6. Yesterday, we alleged against such feasters the testimony of St Paul, who says, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Cor. x. 31.) To-day, we shall show them the Lord of Paul not only advising or counselling to abstain from luxury, but also punishing and inflicting penalties on one who lived in luxury; for the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus, and of the things which befell them, proves nothing less than this. And rather than that our |14 consideration of this subject should be superficial, I will read to you the parable from the commencement. “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores,” (Luke xvi. 19-21.)

Now for what reason did the Lord speak to them in parables? Why also did He explain some of these, and leave others unexplained? And what indeed is a parable? These, and other questions of this nature, we will reserve until another opportunity, so as not to digress from the argument now claiming our attention.

One thing, however, we will ask: Which of the evangelists has delivered to us this parable as spoken by Christ? Which then is it? It is St Luke only. For it is also necessary to know that, of the things which are related, some are related by all four; some, as by special information, by one only. And why? In order that the reading of the other Gospels might be necessary, and that their agreement with each other might be made manifest. For if they all delivered all the events, we should not examine them all with such care, since one only would be sufficient to inform us about everything. If, again, all spoke of different events, we should fail to discover their agreement. On this account they all wrote many things in common, while at the same time each received and delivered matters peculiar to himself.

To return, however, to Christ’s teaching in the parable. |15 It is this: A certain man, it is said, living in great wickedness, was rich; and he experienced no ill fortune, but all good things flowed to him as from a perennial fountain. For that nothing undesirable happened to him—-no cause of trouble—-none of the ills of human life —-is implied when it is said, that “he fared sumptuously every day.” And that he lived wickedly is clear from the end allotted to him, and even before his end, from the neglect which he displayed in the case of the poor man; for that he felt pity neither for the poor man at his gate nor for any other, he himself showed. For if he had no pity on the man continually laid at his gate, and placed before his eyes, whom every day, once or twice, or oftentimes, as he went in and out, he was obliged to see;—-for the man was not placed in a by-way, nor in a hidden and narrow place, but in a spot where the rich man, in his continual coming-in and going-out, was obliged, even if unwilling, to look upon him;—-if, therefore, the rich man did not pity him lying there in such suffering, and living in such distress,—-yea, rather, all his life long in misery because of sickness, and that of the most grievous kind,—-would he ever have been moved with compassion towards any of the afflicted whom he might casually meet? For though on one occasion the rich man passed him by, it was likely that he would manifest some feeling the next day; and if even then he disregarded the poor man, still on the third day, or the fourth, or even after that, he might be expected in some way to be moved to compassion, even if he were more cruel than the wild beasts. But he had no feeling: he was more severe and harsh than that judge who neither |16 feared God nor regarded man. For the judge, though so cruel and stern, was moved by the perseverance of the widow to be gracious and listen to her petition; but this man could not even thus be induced to give aid to the poor man, notwithstanding that his petition was not like that of the widow, but much easier and fairer. For she requested aid against her enemies, while this poor man was entreating that his hunger might be allayed, and that he should not be allowed to perish. The widow also caused trouble by her entreaties; but this man, though often in the day seen by the rich man, only lay without speaking: and this circumstance was quite sufficient to soften a heart harder than stone. When we are urged, we frequently feel annoyed; but when we see those who need our help remaining in perfect silence and saying not a word, and though always failing to gain their object, not bearing it hardly, but. only appearing before us in silence, even though we are more unfeeling than the very stones, we are shamed and moved by such exceeding humility. There is also another circumstance of not less weight, namely, that the very appearance of the poor man was pitiable, since he was emaciated by hunger and long sickness. Yet none of these things influenced that cruel man.

First, then, there was this vice of cruelty and inhumanity in a degree that could not be exceeded. For it is not the same thing for one living in poverty not to assist those who are in need, as for one who enjoys such luxury to neglect others who are wasting away through hunger. Again, it is not the same thing for one to pass by a poor man when he sees him once or twice, as to see him every day |17 without being moved by the oft-recurring sight to pity and benevolence. Again, it is not the same thing for one who is in difficulties and anxiety, and troubled in soul, not to help his neighbour, as for one enjoying such good fortune and unbroken prosperity, to neglect others who are perishing from hunger, and to shut up his bowels of compassion, and not rather, for the very sake of his own happiness, to become more benevolent. For know this of a truth, that unless we are the most cruel of all men, we are, by our very nature, apt, by our own prosperity, to be rendered milder and more gentle. But this rich man did not grow better on account of his prosperity, but remained ill-natured; or rather had, deep in his disposition, cruelty and inhumanity greater than that of a beast of the field.

Still it came to pass that a man living in wickedness and inhumanity enjoyed every kind of good fortune, and a just and virtuous man lingered in the greatest ills. For that Lazarus was a just man is made plain, as in the other case, by his end, and even before his end, by his patience and poverty. Do you not, indeed, seem to see these things present before our eyes? The ship of the rich man was laden with merchandise, and sailed with a fair wind. But do not marvel; for it was borne on to shipwreck, since he was not willing to bestow its burden wisely. Would you that I should give another proof of his wickedness? It is his living in luxury every day without fear. For this in truth is the height of wickedness; and not only now, (in this dispensation,) when we are required to show such moderation, but even in the beginning, under the old covenant, when there was no |18 revelation of the need of this self-control. For hear what the prophet says: “Woe to them that come to an evil day, that come near, and that make a Sabbath of lies,” (Amos vi. 3, LXX.)

The Jews suppose that the Sabbath was given to them for the sake of ease. But this is not the object of it; but it was in order that, separating themselves from, worldly affairs, they might bestow all that leisure on spiritual things. For that the Sabbath was not for the sake of idleness, but for spiritual work, is clear from its very circumstances. The priest, on that day, does a double portion of work, a single sacrifice being offered each common day, while on that day he is commanded to offer a double sacrifice. And if the Sabbath were for the sake of idleness, the priest before all others ought to be idle. Since therefore the Jews, separating themselves from worldly things, devoted not themselves to spiritual things, to temperance, and gentleness, and hearing the divine word, but did the very opposite, feasting, drinking, indulging in excess and luxury; on this account it is, that the prophet condemns them. For he says, “Woe to them that come to an evil day,” and, in continuation, “that make a Sabbath of lies.” He shows by that which follows how their Sabbath became unprofitable. How then did they make it unprofitable? By their working wickedness, living in luxury, drinking, and doing numberless other base and vile acts. And that this charge is true, hear what follows; for he intimates that which I am affirming, by that which he immediately adds, saying: “That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the |19 calves out of the midst of the stall; that drink refined wine, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments,” (Amos vi. 4, 6.)

Thou didst receive the Sabbath that thou mightest purify thy soul from wickedness; but thou hast increased wickedness. For what can be worse than this effeminacy —-this “sleeping upon beds of ivory?” The other sins, as drinking, covetousness, or prodigality, may be accompanied with some small amount of pleasure; but the sleeping on beds of ivory, what pleasure is there in it? Is more refreshing or sweeter sleep brought to us by the beauty of the couch? Nay, rather this beauty is more burdensome and more troublesome to us, if we reflect upon the matter. For whenever thou dost consider that while thou art sleeping on an ivory couch, another fellow-creature is not even able to enjoy the certainty of having bread to eat, will not conscience condemn thee and rise up to accuse this wrong? And if to sleep on an ivory couch be a reproach, what defence can we make when the bed is also decked with silver? Dost thou wish to know the true beauty of a couch? I will show thee the adornment, not of a couch belonging to one in private life, nor to a soldier, but to a king. Though thou shouldst be of all men the most desirous of honour, be assured that thou couldst not wish to have a couch more becoming than that of this king. It is also not that of an ordinary king, but of a very great king, a king of all kings most kingly, and even to this day magnified in the whole world. I show thee the couch of the blessed David. Of what kind then was it? It was not decked with silver and gold, but everywhere with tears and |20 confessions. And this he himself says, speaking thus: “All the night make I my bed to swim, and water my couch with my tears,” (Ps. vi. 6.) Thus with tears was it in all parts adorned as if with pearls.

8. Mark then with me this godly soul. For although by day manifold cares—-about the rulers, about the governors, about the tribes, about the different races, about soldiers, about war, about peace, about affairs of state, about household affairs, about things far off, about things near home, distracted and disturbed him, nevertheless, the leisure time which we all give to sleep he spent in confessions and prayers and tears. And this he did not for one night to cease from it the next, not for two or three nights, after intervals of repose; but he was doing this every night; for “every night,” said he, “wash I my bed, and water my couch with my tears,” (Ps. vi. 6, Prayer-book version,) indicating the abundance of his tears and their continuance. For when all were quiet and at rest, he alone held converse with God; and the eye of Him who never sleepeth was turned towards the man who bewailed and lamented and confessed his indwelling sins. Such a couch as this do thou prepare. For silver ornaments both excite the envy of man and enkindle wrath from above. But such tears as those of David can even extinguish the fire of Gehenna.

Do you wish me to show thee another couch? I mean that of Jacob. He lay on the ground, and a stone was under his head. Therefore also, he saw the symbolical stone,2 and that ladder on which angels were ascending |21 and descending. Couches of this kind let us also have, that we may see such visions. If we lie upon silver, we not only gain no pleasure, but also endure trouble. For whenever thou dost consider that in the severest cold in the middle of the night, while thou art sleeping on thy couch, the poor man lying on chaff in the porticoes of the baths, covered with straw, is trembling, numb with cold, and fainting with hunger, even if thou shouldst be most stony-hearted, be assured that thou wilt condemn thyself for being content that while thou art luxuriating in things superfluous, he is not able to enjoy even the necessaries of life. “No man that warreth,” saith the apostle, “entangleth himself with the affairs of this life,” (2 Tim. ii. 4.) Thou art a spiritual soldier; but such a soldier does not sleep on an ivory bed, but on the ground; he does not use scented unguents, for this is the habit of sensual and dissolute men—-of those who live on the stage, or in indolence; and it is not the odour of ointment that thou shouldst have, but that of virtue. The soul is none the more pure when the body is thus scented. Yea, this fragrance of the body and of the dress may even be a sign of inward corruption and uncleanness. For when Satan makes his approaches to corrupt the soul and fill it with all indolence, then also by means of ointments he impresses upon the body the stains which mark its inner defilement. And just as those who suffer continually from flux and catarrh defile their garments and person, constantly discharging these humours; in the same way the soul denies the body with the evil of this corrupt discharge. What noble or useful deed can be expected from a man scented with myrrh and living effeminately, or |22 rather keeping company with meretricious women, and giving himself up to the company of low actors? Rather let the soul exhale spiritual odours, in order that thou mayest in the greatest degree benefit both thyself and thy associates.

For nothing—-nothing is worse than luxury. Hear what Moses again says concerning it: “He is waxen fat, he is grown thick, he is increased, he that is beloved kicked,” (Deut. xxxii. 15, LXX.) And he does not say: “he rebelled,” but he “kicked,” indicating to us his wildness and intractableness. And again, in another place; “When thou hast eaten and art full, beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God,” (Deut. viii. 10, 11.) Thus does luxury lead to forgetfulness. Then do thou also, beloved, when thou sittest at table, remember that after the meal thou shouldst pray: and so moderately refresh thyself that thou mayest not through fulness be unable to bend the knee and call upon God. Do you not see beasts of burden, how after feeding, they recommence the journey, they bear loads, they fulfil all the service that falls to their lot? But thou when thou risest from table, art unfit for any work; thou art become useless. How wilt thou avoid being thought less worthy of honour than the very beasts? Wherefore? Because it is then the proper time to be sober and to watch. For the time after meals is the time for thanksgiving; and he who gives thanks should not indulge in excess, but be sober and vigilant. Let us not turn from the table to the couch, but to prayer, that we become not more irrational than the beasts.

9. I am aware that many will condemn that which is said, |23 as leading to a new and strange manner of living. But I the more condemn the evil customs that are now prevalent amongst us. For that when we rise from food, and from the table, we ought to proceed, not to sleep and the couch, but to prayers and the reading of the Holy Scriptures; this is made most clear by Christ. For when He had feasted the innumerable multitude in the wilderness, He did not dismiss them to lie down to sleep, but called them to hear the divine word.3 He did not fill them to repletion, nor allow them to fall into excess; but having satisfied their need, he led them to a spiritual feast. Thus let us also act, and let us accustom ourselves to eat so much only as will sustain our higher life, and not hinder and oppress it. For it was not for this that we were born, and exist—-namely, that we should eat and drink; but let us eat for this—-namely, that we may live. It was not given us at first to live for the sake of eating, but to eat for the sake of living. But we, as if we had come into the world merely to eat, upon this we spend everything.

In order that this charge against luxury may be corroborated, and come home to those who are living in it, let us return in our discourse to Lazarus. And thus the warning will become clearer, and the counsel more effectual, since you will see those who live in excess instructed and corrected, not by words only, but by acts. The rich man lived in this kind of wickedness, and luxuriated day by day, and was splendidly attired; but he was bringing |24 on himself severer punishment, stirring up a fiercer flame, making his condemnation more complete, and the penalty more inexorable.

But the poor man who was cast at his gate grieved not, nor blasphemed, nor complained. He did not say within himself, as many do, “Why is this so? This man living in wickedness and cruelty and inhumanity enjoys all things even beyond his need, and endures no trouble nor any of the unlooked-for reverses that often happen in human affairs. He enjoys unmixed pleasure, while I have not the opportunity of partaking even of necessary food. To this man, who squanders all his substance on parasites and flatterers and wine—-to him all good things flow like a river; while I live as an object to be gazed at —-an object of shame and derision, and am wasting through hunger. Is this Providence? Can it be Justice that overrules human affairs?”

He did not say any of these things, nor had he them in his mind. How is this manifest? From the circumstance that guardian angels surrounded him at his death, and bore him away to Abraham’s bosom. Had he been a blasphemer, he would not have gained this glory. Thus also most people wonder at this man merely because of his poverty; but I proceed to show that he endured these ninefold 4 afflictions, not for punishment, but that he might become more glorious. This result accordingly happened.

A dreadful thing, in truth, is poverty, as all who have had experience of it know. For no words can express |25 the trouble which they endure who live in poverty, without knowing the relief of true philosophy. And in the case of Lazarus, there was not only this evil, but bodily ‘weakness superadded, and that in the highest degree. Notice how it is shown that both these inflictions reached the highest pitch. That the poverty of Lazarus at that time surpassed all other poverty, is clear, when it is said that he did not obtain the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. And that his weakness had reached the same pitch as his poverty, beyond which it could not go, this also is shown when it is said that the dogs licked his sores.5 He was so feeble as not to be able to drive away the dogs; but he lay like a living corpse, seeing their approach, but powerless to keep them at a distance-To such an extent were his limbs emaciated; so much was he wasted by bodily sickness; so far was he worn down by trials. You see that poverty and weakness in the highest degree, as it were, besieged his body. And if each of these evils by itself is unbearable and dreadful, what adamantine strength must he have who must bear them both united! Many people are often in ill health, but they do not at the same time lack necessary food. Others may live in utter poverty, but they may enjoy |26 health; and the blessing on the one hand may counterbalance the evil on the other; but in the case we are considering, both these evils came together.

Suppose, however, that there may be some alleviation even in weakness and in poverty. But this cannot be, when in such a state of desertion. For if there were no one connected with him or at his home, to pity him, yet he might have met with compassion from some of the beholders, when lying before the public; but in this case the utter lack of helpers increased the afore-mentioned evils. And the being laid at the gate of the rich man added to his distress. If he had been placed in a desert and uninhabited place when he suffered this neglect, he would not have felt such grief; for the fact of there being no one nigh would have led him, even though unwillingly, to submit to these unavoidable evils; but being placed in the midst of so many people carousing and rejoicing, and meeting with not the slightest attention from any of them, made the thought of his own woes more bitter, and the more inflamed his grief. For we are so constituted as not to be so much distressed by evils when all helpers are at a distance, as when helpers who are near are unwilling to stretch out a hand to aid us. This grief, then, this poor man felt. There was no one either to console him by a word, or to comfort him by a kind act; no friend, no neighbour, no relation, no one of those who saw him; not one of all the corrupt household of the rich man.

10. Besides, in addition to these things, it would cause another accession of woe to see another man in such prosperity. Not that he was envious and evil-minded, but |27 because it is the nature of us all to feel our own private misfortunes more acutely when we see others in prosperity. And with respect to the rich man, there was another circumstance which would give Lazarus pain. For, in truth, not only by comparing his own ill-fortune with another’s prosperity did he feel the more deeply his own woes, but also by the consideration that another who acted with cruelty and inhumanity was in every respect fortunate; while he himself, with his virtue and meekness, suffered extreme misery; and thus, again, he would feel inconsolable grief. For if the rich man had been just, if he had been gentle, if he had been worthy of admiration, full of all virtue, the thought would not thus have grieved Lazarus. But now, when the rich man was living in wickedness, proceeding to the extreme of evil, displaying such inhumanity, and acting as an enemy, passing him by as shamelessly and pitilessly as though he were a stone; and notwithstanding all this was enjoying such prosperity, consider how likely it would be that this state of things would plunge the soul of the poor man in continual waves of woe! Consider how Lazarus would feel when he saw parasites, flatterers’ servants going up and down, coming in and out, as they hastened about, noisy, drinking, dancing, and displaying every form of wantonness. For, just as if he had come for the very purpose of being a witness of another’s prosperity, he was laid at his gate, having life only sufficient to make him sensible of his own ills. He suffered, as it were, shipwreck at the very harbour’s mouth, and was consumed with thirst at the very edge of the spring.

Shall I add to these yet another woe? It is this,—- |28 that he could nowhere see another Lazarus. We ourselves even though we suffer ten thousand ills, still are able looking at him (Lazarus) to gain effectual comfort and feel great consolation. For to find fellowship in his private ills, whether they be physical or mental, brings great alleviation to the sufferer. Lazarus, however, could not look to any other man suffering the same things as himself; or rather he could not even hear of any one of those going before him, who had endured such things. This of itself was enough to becloud his mind. And, besides this, we have to mention another thing:—-that he was unable to console himself with any hope of the resurrection, 6 but thought that present things are bounded by the present existence, for he lived under the old dispensation, (πρὸ τῆς χάριτος.) And if even now, in these days, after such a revelation of God’s character, and the blessed hope of the resurrection, and the knowledge of the punishment laid up for sinners, and the good things prepared for the righteous, many men are so feeble-minded and weak as not even to be confirmed by such expectations as these, what would he, in all probability, endure who was without such an anchor of hope? This man could not at any time thus console himself, because the time had not yet arrived when such revelations were vouchsafed to man. And even in addition to this, there was yet another thing, namely, that his character was maligned by foolish men. For the generality of men are accustomed, when they see any in hunger and thirst, or living in great trouble, not to entertain any charitable feeling respecting them, but rather to pass judgment on their life by their |29 misfortunes, and to suppose that they are thus afflicted entirely on account of their wickedness; and they say to each other many things of this kind—-foolishly no doubt—-but still they say so:—-“This man, if he were favourably regarded by God, would not have been suffered to be afflicted with poverty and other woes.” In this way it happened to Job and to Paul. To the former they said:—-“Hath it not often been said to thee in trouble, The force of thy words who can bear? For if thou didst instruct many, and strengthen the weak hands, and raise up the feeble with thy words, and give power to the tottering knees; yet now trouble has come upon thee, and thou art over-anxious. Is not thy fear the offspring of folly?” 7 (Job iv. 2-6, LXX.) The meaning of these words is this —-“If,” they say, “thou hadst acted rightly thou wouldst not have suffered these present ills; but thou art paying the penalty of sins and transgressions.”

And this it was especially that wounded the blessed Job.

Again concerning Paul, the barbarians spoke in the same strain; when they saw the viper hanging from his hand, they had no favourable opinion of him, but supposed that he was one of those who dare to commit the greatest crimes. This is plain from that which they said:—-“This man though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live,” (Acts xxviii. 4.) This same thing frequently disturbs ourselves not a little. But notwithstanding that the waves of trouble, dashing against each other, were so great, the bark of this poor man was not overwhelmed; and though he was placed as it were |30 in a furnace, he preserved his tranquillity as if refreshed with perpetual dew.

11. Nor did he say within himself anything of this kind—-as it seems many do say, namely:—-“This rich man when he departs this life will undergo punishments and penalties, and then one will have become one again; but if he there be honoured two will have come to nothing.” 8 Now, do not many among yourselves use such expressions in the market, or introduce into the church words which belong to the circus or the theatre? I should be ashamed, and blush to utter such words aloud, were it not necessary to say such things in order that you may avoid the unlicensed mirth and shame and harm springing from the use of such expressions. Many frequently laugh when they say these things; but this is the effect of satanical guile, in order to bring corrupt expressions into common use instead of sound words. Such things as these many constantly repeat in the workshop, in the market, in their houses,—-things full of utter unbelief and folly—-things that are in reality ridiculous and puerile. For to say, “if the wicked when they depart are punished,” and not to be fully persuaded in one’s own mind that they will in truth be punished, is a mark of unbelief and scepticism. If also it should result, even as it will result, even the very thought that the evil will enjoy the same rewards as the just, is utter folly.

What dost thou mean, tell me, when thou sayest, if the rich man when he departs should receive punishment, “one has become one?” (There is equality.) And how |31 is the saying true? For how many years do you wish that we suppose that he has here enjoyed wealth? Do you wish to suppose a hundred? I, for my part, am willing rather to suppose two hundred, or three hundred, or twice as many; or even, if you wish, a thousand, however impossible it may be. The days of our years, it is said, are eighty years, (alluding to Ps. xc. 10.) Suppose, however, a thousand. But can you, I pray, show me in this world a life that has no end?—-one that knows no limit, such as is the life of the just in heaven? Tell me then, if some one in the course of a hundred years, seeing for a single night a dream of prosperity; and, after enjoying in his sleep great luxury, should be punished for a hundred years—-would you be able to say of him one has become one, (there is an equal balance,) and place the one night of dreams as a counterpoise to the hundred years? It is impossible to say so. Think, then, in the same way concerning the life to come. For the proportion that the dream of one night has to the hundred years, the same the present life has to the future life; or, rather, the latter proportion is much the less. As a little drop to the fathomless ocean, so is a thousand years to that future glory and bliss. And what can one say more, except that that life has no limit, and knows no end; and that there is as much difference between dreams and realities as there is between our condition in this world and our condition in the next. Besides, even before the future punishment, those who live wickedly are punished now. For do not tell me only of enjoying a sumptuous table, and of being clothed in silken garments, and of being followed by troops of slaves, and of proceeding in state through the public places of |32 resort; but lay open to me the conscience of such a man, and there you shall see within great trouble on account of sins, perpetual dread, tempest, and confusion, and the reason, as in a court of justice, ascending the royal throne of conscience, sitting there as a judge, bringing forward the thoughts as ministers of justice, racking the mind, torturing it on account of sin, and vehemently accusing it; and this state of things is known to no one else, save only God, who sees all that takes place.

Again, he who commits fornication, though he be rich in the highest degree, and though he have no accuser, never ceases inwardly to accuse himself. The pleasure is fleeting, while the pain is lasting; there is fear from all sides and trembling, suspicion, and agony; he fears the by-ways, he trembles at the very shadows, at his own domestics, at those who know his guilt, at those who know it not, at the injured one, at her wronged husband: he goes about bearing with him a keen accuser—-his own conscience—-being self-condemned, and unable to find the slightest relief. And even on his bed, or at his table, or in the market, or in his house, by day, by night, even in his very dreams he often sees the image of his sin; he lives the life of a Cain, groaning and trembling on the earth; and though no one knows it, he has within himself the unquenchable fire.

This also they who rob and who are covetous suffer; this also does the drunkard suffer, and, in short, every one living in sin.

It is impossible that that tribunal can in any way be influenced. And if we do not follow after virtue, yet we are pained for not following after it; and if we follow |33 vice, as soon as we lose the pleasure that accompanies the sin, we feel the pain. Let us therefore not say concerning those who are prosperous here, and yet do ill, and concerning the just who enjoy felicity in the next world, that “one becomes one” (all is equally balanced,) but that “two come to nothing” (all the good is on one side.) For, to the just the life here and the life yonder both bring much pleasure; but they who live in wickedness and in luxury are punished both in the life here and the life yonder. For even here they are harassed by the expectation of the coming penalty, as well as by the bad opinion in which they are held by all, and by the fact that by the very sin itself their soul is corrupted; and after their departure thither they endure insupportable penalties.

Again, the just, even if they suffer a thousand ills here, are encouraged by pleasant hopes; they have unmixed, sure, and abiding pleasure; and after these things, innumerable blessings accrue to them, as also we see in the case of Lazarus.

Therefore do not say to me that he was full of sores; but mark this—-that he had within him a soul more precious than all gold; or rather, mark not only his soul, but also his body; for bodily perfection consists not in stoutness and vigour, but in being able to bear so many and so great afflictions. For, if one have in his body wounds of this kind, he is not therefore to be despised. But rather, if one have in his soul so many defects, for him we should have no regard;—-and such was that rich man, covered with wounds within. And as dogs licked the wounds of the one, so the evil spirits aggravated the sins |34 of the other; as the one starved for lack of food, so the other for lack of virtue.

12. Knowing, therefore, these things, let us act wisely, and let us not say that if God loved such a one, He would not have allowed him to be in poverty. This very thing is the greatest token of love. For “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth,” (Heb. xii. 6.) And again, “My son, if thou dost purpose to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for trial, make ready thy heart, and be strong,” (Ecclesiasticus ii. 1.) Let us then, beloved, cast these vain imaginations away from us, and these common sayings; for “filthiness and foolish talking and jesting, let it not proceed out of your mouth,” (Eph. v. 4.) Let us not say such things; and if we see others speaking thus, let us refute them, let us boldly arise and put a stop to such shameless speech. Tell me, if you should see any robber prowling about the road, lying in wait for those that pass by, and plundering the land, secreting gold and silver in caves and hiding-places, and shutting up in such places a great quantity of booty, gaining from this course of life rich garments and many captives; tell me, should you then think him happy on account of such wealth? Or should you think him miserable on account of the judgment about to overtake him? And even if he should escape this, if he should not be delivered into the hand of justice, nor fall into prison, nor have any accuser, nor come to trial, but eat and drink and enjoy great abundance, still we do not think him happy because of present and visible circumstances; but we think him miserable on account |35 of the things which are to come, and to which we look forward.

In the same way reason with yourself concerning the rich and the avaricious. Robbers lie in wait in the way and plunder travellers, and hide the wealth of others in their own lurking-places—-in caves or dens. Do not, therefore, think them happy on account of the present, but miserable on account of the future—-on account of the fearful judgment, the inevitable account to be rendered—-the outer darkness which will envelop them. Even though robbers often escape the hand of men, yet, notwithstanding though we know this, we deprecate for ourselves such a life as theirs, or even for our enemies we should deprecate such an accursed prosperity. Yet with respect to God such a thing cannot be said. No one can escape His judgment, but all who in any way live in covetousness and rapine will undergo the punishment allotted by Him—-that deathless punishment which has no end,—-in the same way as also did this rich man.

Taking all this, therefore, into consideration, beloved, think those blessed, not who live in wealth, but in virtue; think those miserable, not those who live in poverty, but in wickedness: let us look not at the present, but at the future; let us examine, not the outward appearance, but the conscience of each man; and following after the virtue and the bliss of right actions, let us, whether we be wealthy or poor, emulate Lazarus. He endured not one, nor two, nor three, but many tests of his goodness. These tests were his poverty, his weakness, his lack of helpers, his suffering these evils in a place where there |36 was at hand the means of complete relief, while no one vouchsafed a word of comfort, his seeing him who disregarded him possessing all that abundance, and not only possessing abundance, but living in wickedness, and suffering no ill; also, his being able to look to no other Lazarus, and his being unable to console himself by the thought of the resurrection. And besides all the aforesaid ills, there was his having to bear an ill-character among many, for the very reason that he was a sufferer. There was, not only for two or three days, but for his whole life, the seeing himself in such circumstances, and the rich man in the very opposite.

What excuse, therefore, shall we have if, while this man bore all these excessive evils with such fortitude, we cannot bear even the half of them? for you are unable—-you are unable, I say, to show, or even to name, any man who has borne such numerous and heavy evils. For this cause, therefore, Christ brought them before our notice, in order that whensoever we fall into trouble, seeing in his case the exceeding greatness of his affliction, we may, from his wisdom and patience, gain effectual consolation and comfort; for he is set as a general instructor of the whole world, for all who are suffering any kind of distress; enabling all to look to one who surpassed them all in the exceeding greatness of his woes. For all these things, therefore, let us give thanks unto God—-the merciful God; let us reap the benefit of this narrative, continually bearing it in mind, in the assembly, at home, in the market, yea everywhere; and let us diligently gain all the wealth of wisdom contained in this parable, in order that we may |37 without grief pass through evils, and that we may attain the good things in store. Which benefits may we all be enabled to gain, by the grace and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be praise, honour, adoration, now and ever, even to all eternity. Amen.

[Footnotes moved to the end and numbered]

1. * Matt. xxv. 27.

2. * Alluding to the stone cut out without hands, (Dan. ii. 34;) or to the corner “stone,” (Ps. cxviii. 22.)

3. * Probably Chrysostom would understand the sending away (Mark vi. 45) to be after an address. Time seems to be left after the feeding, (compare Mark vi. 35 with John vi. 16.)

4. * The word ninefold (ἐννέα τὸν ἀριθμόν) is used generally, or indefinitely, as in English, tenfold.

5. * Chrysostom, indeed, as Trench observes (Notes on Parables, xxvi.), sees in this circumstance an evidence of the extreme weakness and helplessness to which disease and hunger had reduced him, (see also chap. xi. of this Discourse, and the Discourse, “Quod Nemo Laeditur nisi a Seipso,” Paris ed., tom. iii. par. 2, fol. 471.) But he also alludes, with acceptance, to the other notion, that “medicinal virtue was attributed to the tongue of the dog.” (See the sixth Discourse of this series in the Paris edition (of Migne), tom. i. par. 2, fol. 1034: τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱ κύνες φιλανθρωπότεροι ἔλειχον αὐτοῦ τὰ τραύματα καὶ τὴν σηπεδόνα περιῄρουν καὶ ἐξεκάθαιρον.

6. * περὶ ἀναστάσεως φιλοσοφεῖν.

7. * ἐν ἀφροσύνῃ.

8. * These are proverbs: the former means—- Things are fairly balanced; all is rightly adjusted: the latter means—-Things are unequally adjusted.


25 Nov

The Time of the Anti-Christ~Cardinal Newman’s First Advent Discourse

This was originally posted on my primary blog.

The Time Of The Antichrist.

The Thessalonian Christians had supposed that the coming of Christ was at hand. St Paul writes towarn them against such an expectation. Not that he discountenances their looking out for our Lord’s coming, the contrary; but he tells them that a certain event must come before it, and until that had arrived the end would not be. “Let no man deceive you by any means,” he says; “For the day shall not come,except there come a falling away first,”- and he proceeds”and” except first “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”

As long as the world lasts, this passage of Scripture will be full of reverent interest to Christians. It is their duty to be ever watching for the advent of their Lord, to search for the signs of it in all that happens around them; an above all to keep in mind this great ans awful sign of which St Paul speaks to the Thessalonians. As our Lord’s first coming had its forerunner, so will the second have its own. The first was “One more than a prophet,” the Holy Baptist: the second will be more than an enemy of Christ; it will be the very image of Satan, the fearful and hateful Antichrist. Of him, as described in prophecy, I propose to speak; and in doing so, I shall follow the exclusive guidance of the ancient Fathers of the Church.

I follow the ancient Fathers, not as thinking that on such a subject they have the weight they possess in the instances of doctrine or ordinances. When they speak of doctrines, they speak of them as being universally held. They are witnesses to the fact that those doctrines having been received, not here or there, but everywhere. We receive those doctrines which they thus teach, not merely because they teach them, but because they bear witness to all Christians everywhere then held them. We take them as honest informants, but not as a sufficient authority in themselves, though they are an authority too. If they were to state these very same doctrines, but say, “These are our opinions: we deduced them from Scripture, and they are true,” we might well doubt about receiving them at their hands. We might fairly say, that we had as much right to deduce from Scripture as they had; that deductions from Scripture were mere opinions; that if our deductions agreed with theirs, that would be a happy coincidence, and increase our confidence in them; but if they did not, it could not be helped-we must follow our own light. Doubtless, no man has any right to impose his own deductions upon another, in matters of faith. There is an obvious obligation, indeed, upon the ignorant to submit to those who are better informed; and there is a fitness in the young submitting implicitly for a time to the teaching of their elders; but beyond this, one man’s opinion is not better than another’s. But this is not the state of the case as regards the Fathers. They do not speak of their own Private Opinion; they do not say, “This is true, because we see it in Scripture”-but, “this is true, because in matter of fact it is held, and has ever been held, by all the Churches, down to our times, without interruption, ever since the apostles: “Where the question is merely one of testimony, viz., whether they had the means of knowing that it had been and was so held; for if it was the belief of so many and independent Churches at once, and that, on the ground of its being from the Apostles, doubtless it cannot be true and Apostolic.

This, I say, is the mode in which the Fathers speak as regards doctrine; but it is otherwise when they interpret prophecy. In this matter there seems to have been no catholic, no formal and distinct, or at least no authoritative traditions; so that when they interpret Scripture they are for the most part giving, and profess to be giving, either their own private opinions, or vague, floating, and merely general  anticipations. This is what might have been expected; for it is not ordinarly the course of Divine Providence to interpret prophecy before the event. What the Apostles disclosed concerning the future, was for the most part disclosed to them in private, to individuals-not committed to writing, not intended for the edifying of the Body of Christ,-and was soon lost. Thus, in a few verses after the passage I have quoted, St Paul says, “Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” and he writes by hints and allusions, not speaking out. And it shows how little care was taken to discriminate and authenticate his prophetical intimations, that the Thessalonians had adopted an opinion, that he had said-what in fact he had not said-that the Day of Christ was immediately at hand.

Yet, though the Fathers do not convey to us the interpretation of prophecy with the same certainty as they convey doctrine, yet, in proportion to their agreement, their personal weight, and the prevalence, or again the authoritative character of the opinions they are stating, they are to be read with deference; for, to say the least, they are as likely to be right as commentators now; in some respects more so, because the interpretation of prophecy has in these times become a matter of controversy and party. And passion and prejudice have so interfered with soundness of judgment, that it is difficult to say who is to be trusted to interpret it, or whether a private Christian may not be as good and expositor as those by whom the office has been assumed.

Now to turn to the passage in question, which I shall examine by arguments drawn from Scripture, without being solicitous to agree, or to say why I am at issue, with modern commentators: “That Day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” Here the sign of the second Advent is said to be a certain frightful apostasy, and the manifestation of the man of sin, the son of perdition-that is, as he is commonly called, Antichrist. Our Saviour seems to add, that the sign will immediately precede Him, or that His coming will follow close upon it; for after speaking of “false prophets” and “false Christs,” “showing signs and wonders,” “iniquity abounding,” and “love waxing cold,” and the like, He adds, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Again He says, “When you shall see the Abomination of Desolation…stand in the holy place…then let them that be in Judea flee into the mountains.” Indeed, St Paul also implies this, when he says that Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming.

First, then, I say, if Antichrist is to come immediately before Christ, and to be the sign of His coming, it is manifest that the Antichrist is not come yet, but still to be expected; for, else Christ would have come before now.

Further, it appears that the time of Antichrist’s tyranny will be three years and a half, or, as Scripture expresses it, “a time, and times, and the dividing of time,” or “forty-two months,”-which is an additional reason for believing he is not come; for, if so, He must have come quite lately, his time being altogether so short; that is, within the last three years, and this we cannot say he has.

Besides, there are two other circumstances of his appearance, which have not been fulfilled. First, a time of unexpected trouble. “There shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be; and except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.” This has not yet been. Next, the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”

Now it may be objected to this conclusion, that St Paul says, in this passage before us, that “the mystery of iniquity does already work,” that is, even in his day, as if Antichrist had in fact come even them. But he would seem to mean merely this, that in his day there were shadows and forebodings, earnests and operative elements, of that which was one day to come in its fullness. Just as the types of Christ went before Christ, so the shadows of Antichrist precede him. In truth, every event of this world is a type of those that follow, history proceeding forward as a circle ever enlarging. The days of the Apostles typified the last days; there were false Christs, and risings, and troubles, and persecutions, and judicial destruction of the Jewish Church. In like manner, every age presents its own picture of those still future events, which, and which alone, are the real fulfillment of the prophecy which stands at the head of them all. Hence St John says, “Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that the Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” Antichrist was come, and was not come; it was, and it was not the last time. In the sense in which the Apostles’ Day might be called the “last time,” and the end of the world, it was also the time of Antichrist.

A second objection may be made as follows: St Paul says, “Now you know what withholds him, that he (Antichrist) may be revealed in his time.” Here a something is mentioned as keeping back the manifestation of the enemy of truth. He proceeds: “He that now withholds, will withhold, until he be taken out of the way.” Now this retraining power was in early times considered to be the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire (it is argued) has long been taken out of the way; it follows that Antichrist has long since come. In answer to this objection, I would grant that he “that withholds,” or “hinders,” means the power of Rome, for all the ancient writers o speak of it. And I grant that as Rome, according to the prophet Daniel’s vision, succeeded Greece, so Antichrist succeeds Rome, and the second coming succeeds Antichrist. But it does not follow hence that the Antichrist is come: for it is not clear that the Roman Empire is gone. Far from it: the Roman Empire in the view of prophecy, remains even to this day. Rome had a very different fate from the three other monsters mentioned by the Prophet (Daniel), as will be seen by his description of it. “Behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the its feet: and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” These ten horns, an Angel informed him, “are ten kings that shall rise out of this kingdom” of Rome. As, then, the ten horns belonged to the fourth beast, and were not separate from it, so the kingdoms, into which the Roman Empire was to be divided, are the continuation and termination of the Empire itself,-which lasts on, and in some sense lives in the view of prophecy, however we decide the historical question. Consequently, we have not yet seen the end of the Roman Empire. “That which withholds” still exists, up to the manifestation of its ten horns; and until it is removed, Antichrist will not come. And from the midst of those horns he will arise, as the same Prophet informs us: “I considered the horns, and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.”

Up to the time, then, when Antichrist shall actually appear, there has been and will be continual effort to manifest him to the world on the part of the powers of evil. The history of the Church is the history of that long birth. “The mystery of iniquity does already work,” says St Paul. “Even now there are many Antichrists,” says St John,-”every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come, and even now is already in the world.” It has been at work ever since, from the time of the Apostles, though kept under by him that “withholds.” At this very time there is a fierce struggle, the spirit of Antichrist is attempting to rise, and the political power in those countries which are prophetically Roman, firm and vigorous repressing it. And in fact, we actually have before our eyes, as our fathers also in the generation before us, a fierce and lawless principle everywhere at work-a spirit of rebellion against God and man, which the powers of government in each country can barely keep under with their greatest efforts. Whether this which we witness be that spirit of Antichrist, which is one day at length to be let loose, this ambitious spirit, the parent of all heresy, schism, sedition, revolution, and war-whether this be so or not, at least we know from prophecy that the present framework of society and government, as far as it is the representative of Roman powers, is that which withholds, and Antichrist is that which will rise when this restraint fails.

It has been more or less implied in the foregoing remarks, that the Antichrist is one man, an individual, not a power or a kingdom. Such surely is the impression left on the mind by the Scripture notices concerning him, after taking fully into account the figurative character of prophetical language. Consider these passages together, which describe him, and see whether we must not so conclude. First, the passage in St Paul’s Epistle: “That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the Son of perdition, who is the adversary and rival of all that is called God or worshipped; so that he sits as God in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God…Then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming…whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

Next, in the prophet Daniel: “Another shall arise after them, and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall not sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end.” Again: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exult and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished…Neither shall he regard the God of his Fathers, nor the Desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate he shall honor a god of forces, and a god whom his fathers knew not shall be honor with gold and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.” Let it be observed, that Daniel elsewhere describes other kings, and that the event has shown them certainly to be individuals,- for instance, Xerxes, Darius, and Alexander.

And in like manner St John: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His Name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all people and tongues and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in th book of life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. “

Further, that by Antichrist is meant some one person, is made probable by the anticipations which, as I have said, have already occurred in history, of the fulfilment of prophecy. Individual men have arisen actually answering in a great measure to the above description; and this circumstance creates a probability, that the absolute and entire fulfillment which is to come will be in an individual also, the most remarkable of these shadows for the destined scourge appeared before the time of the apostles, between them and the age of Daniel, viz., the heathen king Antiochus, of whom we read in the book of Maccabees. This instance is the more to the purpose, because he is actually described (as we suppose) by Daniel, in another part of his prophecy, in terms which seem also to belong to the Antichrist, and, as belonging, imply that Antiochus actually was what he seems to be, a type of that more fearful future enemy of the Church. This Antiochus was the savage persecutor of the Jews, in their latter times, as Antichrist will be of Christians. A few passages from the Maccabees will show you what he was. St Paul in the text speaks of an apostasy, and then of Antichrist following upon it; and thus is the future of the Christian Church typified in the past Jewish history. “In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen; and made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief.” Here was the falling away. After this introduction the enemy of truth appears. “After that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again,…and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, and entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light and all the vessels thereof, and the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold and the veil, and the crowns, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple; all which he pulled off. And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken proudly.” After this he set fire to Jerusalem, “and pulled down the houses and the walls thereof on every side…Then built they the city of David with a great and strong wall,…and they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein.” Next, King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, and everyone should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king, Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.” After this he forced these impieties on the chosen people. All were to be put to death who would not “profane the sabbath and festival days, and pollute the sanctuary and the holy people, and set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh and unclean beasts,” and “leave their children uncircumcised.” At length he set up an idol, or, in the words of history, “the abomination of desolation upon the later, and built idol altars throughout the cities of Judea on every side…and when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.” It is added, “Howbeit many in Israel were full resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat anything unclean, wherefore they chose ather to die…and there was very great wrath upon Israel.” Here we have presented to us some of the lineaments of Antichrist,who will be such and worse than such, as Antiochus.

The history of the apostate emperor Julian, who lived between 3oo and 400 years after Christ, furnishes us with another approximation to the predicted Antichrist, and an additional reason for thinking he will be one person, not a kingdom, power, or the like. And so again does Mahome, who propagated his imposture about 600 years after Christ came.

Lastly, that Antichrist is one individual man, not a power,-not a mere ethical spirit, or a political system, not a dynasty, or succession of rulers,-was the universal tradition of the early Church. “We must say,” writes St Jerome upon Daniel, “what has been handed down to us by all the ecclesiastical writers, that, in the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there will be ten kings, to divide the Roman territory between them, and an eleventh will rise up, a small king, who will subdue three of the ten, and thereupon receive the submission of the other seven. It is said that ‘the horn had eyes, as the eyes of a man,’ lest we should, as some have thought, suppose him to be the evil spirit, or a demon, whereas he is one man, in whom Satan shall dwell bodily. ‘And a mouth speaking great things;’ for he is the man of sin, the son of perdition, so that he dares to ’sit in the Temple of God, making himself as God.’ ‘The beast has been slain, and his carcass has perished;’ since the Antichrist blasphemes in that united Roman Empire, all its kingdoms are at one and the same time to be abolished, and there shall be no earthly kingdom, but the society of the saints, and the coming of the triumphant Son of God.” And Theodoret: “Having spoken of Antiochus Epiphanes, the prophet passes from the figure to the antitype; for the antitype of Antiochus is Antichrist. As Antiochus compelled the Jews to act impiously, so the man of sin, the son of perdition, will make every effort for the seduction of the pious, by false miracles, and by force and by persecution. As the Lord says, “Then will be great tribulation, such as never was from the beginning of the world till this time, nor ever shall be.”

What I have said upon this subject may be summed up as follows:-that the coming of Christ will be immediately preceded by a very awful and unparalleled outbreak of evil, called by St Paul an Apostasy, a falling away, in the midst of which a certain terrible Man of sin and Child of perdition, the special and singular enemy of Christ, or Antichrist, will appear; that this will be when revolutions prevail, and the present framework of society breaks to pieces; and that at present the spirit which he will embody and represent is kept under by “the powers that be,” but that on their dissolution, he will rise out of their bosom and knit them together again in his own evil way, under his own rule, to the exclusion of the Church. It would be out of place to say more than this at present. I will but insist on one particular circumstance contained in St Paul’s announcement which I have already in part commented on.

It is said there will “come a falling away, and the man of sin will be revealed.” In other words, the Man of Sin is born of an Apostasy, or at least comes into power through an Apostasy, or is preceded by an apostasy, or would not be except for an apostasy. So says the inspired text: now observe, how remarkably that course of Providence, a seen in history, has commented on this prediction.

First, we have a comment in the instance of Antiochus previous to the actual events contemplated in the prophecy. The Israelites, or at least great numbers of them, put off their own sacred religion, and then the enemy was allowed to come in.

Next the apostate emperor Julian, who attempted to overthrow the Church by craft, and introduce paganism back again: it is observable that he was preceded, nay, he was nurtured, by heresy; by that first great heresy which disturbed the peace and purity of the Church. About forty years before he became emperor, arose the pestilent Arian heresy which denied that Christ was God. It ate its way among the rulers of the Church like a canker, and what with the treachery of some, and mistakes of others, at one time it was all but dominant throughout Christendom. The few holy and faithful men, who witnessed to the Truth, cried out, with awe and terror at the apostasy, that Antichrist was coming. They called it the “forerunner of the Antichrist.” And true, his shadow came. Julian was educated in the bosom of Arianism by some of its principle upholders. His tutor was that Eusebius from whom it partisans took their name; and in due time he fell away to paganism, became a hater and persecutor of the Church, and was cutoff before he reigned out the brief period which will be the real Antichrist’s duration.

And thirdly, another heresy arose, a heresy in its consequences far more lasting and far-spreading; it was of a twofold character; with two heads, as I may call them, Nestorianism and Eutychianism, apparently opposed to one another, yet acting towards a common end: both in one way or other denied the truth of Christ’s gracious incarnation, and tended to destroy the faith of Christians not less certainly , though more insidiously, than the heresy of Arius. In spread through the east and through Egypt, corrupting and poisoning those Churches which had once, alas! been the most flourishing, the earliest abodes and strongholds of revealed truth. Out of this heresy, or at least by means of it, the impostor Mahoma sprang, and formed his creed. Here is another Shadow of the Antichrist.

These instances give us warning:-Is the enemy of Christ, and His Church, to arise out of a certain special falling away from God? And is there no reason to fear that some such Apostasy is graduallypreparing, gathering, hastening on in this very day? For is there not at this very time a special effort made almost all over the world, that is, every here and there, more or less in sight or out of sight, in this or that place, but most visibly and formidably in its most civilized and powerful parts, an effort to do without religion. Is there not an opinion avowed and growing, that a nation has nothing to do with Religion; that it is merely a matter for each man’s conscience?-which is all one with saying that we may let the Truth fail from the earth without trying to continue it in and on after our own time. Is there not a vigorous and united movement in all countries to cast down the Church of Christ from power and place? Is there not a feverish and ever-busy endeavour to get rid of the necessity of Religion in public transactions? for example, an attempt to get rid of oaths, under the pretense that they are too sacred for affairs of common life, instead of providing that they be taken more reverently and more suitably? an attempt to educate without Religion?-that is, by putting all forms of religion together, which comes to the same thing;- an attempt to enforce temperance, and the virtues which flow from it, without Religion, by means of Societies which are built on moral principles of utility? an attempt to make expedience, and not truth, the end and the rule of measures of State and the enactments of Law? an attempt to make numbers, and not the Truth, the ground of maintaining, or not maintaining, this or that creed, as if we had any reason whatever in Scripture for thinking that the many will be in the right and the few in the wrong? An attempt to deprive the Bible of its one meaning to the exclusion of all others, to make people think that it may have an hundred meanings all equally good, or in other words, that it has no meaning at all, is a dead letter, and may be put aside? an attempt to supersede Religion altogether, as far as it is external and objective, as far as it is displayed in ordinances, or can be expressed by written words,-to confine our inward feelings, and thus, considering how variable, how evanescent our feelings are, an attempt, in fact, to destroy Religion?

Surely, there is at this day a confederacy of evil, marshaling its hosts from all parts of the world, organizing itself, taking its measures, enclosing the Church of Christ as in a net, and preparing the way for a general Apostasy from it. Whether this very Apostasy is to give birth to Antichrist, or whether he is still to be delayed, as he has already been delayed so long, we cannot know; but at any rate this Apostasy, and all its tokens and instruments, are of the Evil One, and savour of death. Far be it from any of us to be those simple ones what taken in that snare which is circling around us! Far be it from any of us to be seduced with the fair promises in which Satan is sure to hide his poison! To you think he is so unskilful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination,-he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which revers them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.

Shall we Christians allow ourselves to have lot or part in this matter? Shall we, even with our little finger, help on the Mystery of Iniquity, which is travailing for birth, and convulsing the earth with its pangs? “O my soul, come not thou into their secret: unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united.” “What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? Wherefore, come out from among them, and be you separate,”…lest you be workers together with God’s enemies, and be opening the way for the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition.

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