1 Corinthians 4
Ver. 1. "Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and
stewards of the mysteries of God." After he had cast down their spirit,
mark how again he refreshes it, saying, "as ministers of Christ." Do not
thou then, letting go the Master, receive a name from the servants and
ministers. "Stewards;" saith he, indicating that we ought not to give these
things unto all, but unto whom it is due, and to whom it is fitting we
Ver. 2. "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found
faithful:" that is, that he do not appropriate to himself his master's
goods, that he do not as a master lay claim for himself but administer
as a steward. For a steward's part is to administer well the things committed
to his charge: not to say that his master's things are his own; but, on
the contrary, that his own are his master's. Let every one think on these
things, both he that hath power in speech and he that possesses wealth,
namely, that he hath been entrusted with a master's goods and that they
are not his own; let him not keep them with himself, nor set them down
to his own account; but let him impute them unto God who gave them all.
Wouldest thou see faithful stewards? Hear what saith Peter, "Why look ye
so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made
this man to walk?" (Acts chapter 3, verse 12) Unto Cornelius also he saith,
"We also are men of like passions with you:" and unto Christ Himself, "Lo,
we have left all, and followed Thee." (St. Matthew chapter 19, verse 27)
And Paul, no less, when he had said, "I labored more abundantly than they
all," (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 10) added, "yet not I, but the grace
of God which was with me." Elsewhere also, setting himself strongly against
the same persons, he said, "For what hast thou which thou didst not receive?"
(C. iv. 7.) "For thou hast nothing of thine own, neither wealth, nor speech,
nor life itself; for this also is surely the Lord's. Wherefore, when necessity
calls, do thou lay down this also. But if thou dostest on life, and being
ordered to lay it down refusest, thou art no longer a faithful steward."
"And how is it possible, when God calls, to resist?" Well, that is just
what I say too: and on this account do I chiefly admire the loving-kindness
of God, that the things which He is able, even against thy will, to take
from thee, these He willeth not to be paid in (eisenekqhnai) by thee unwillingly,
that thou mayest have a reward besides. For instance, He can take away
life without thy consent; but His will is to do so with thy consent, that
thou mayest say with Paul, "I die daily," (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse
31) He can take away thy glory without thy consent, and bring thee low:
but He will have it from thee with thine own goodwill, that thou mayest
have a recompense. He can make thee poor, though unwilling, but He will
have thee willingly become such, that He may weave crowns for thee. Seest
thou God's mercy to man? Seest thou our own brutish stupidity?
What if thou art come to great dignity, and hast at any time obtained
some office of Church government? Be not high-minded. Thou hast not acquired
the glory, but God hath put it on thee. As if it were another's, therefore,
use it sparingly; neither abusing it nor using it upon unsuitable things,
nor puffed up, nor appropriating it unto thyself; but esteem thyself to
be poor and inglorious. For never,-hadst thou been entrusted with a king's
purple to keep,-never would it have become thee to abuse the robe and spoil
it, but with the more exactness to keep it for the giver. Is utterance
given thee? Be not puffed up; be not arrogant; for the gracious gift is
not thine. Be not grudging about thy Master's good, but distribute them
among thy fellow-servants; and neither be thou elated with these things
as if they were thine own, nor be sparing as to the distribution of them.
Again, if thou hast children, they are God's which thou hast. If such be
thy thought, thou wilt both be thankful for having them, and if bereft
thou wilt not take it hard. Such was Job when he said, (Job chapter 1,
verse 21) "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away."
For we have all things from Christ. Both existence itself we have through
Him, and life, and breath, and light, and air, and earth. And if He were
to exclude us from any one of these, we are lost and undone. For (1 S.
Pet. ii. xx.) "we are sojourners and pilgrims" And all this about "mine,"
and "thine," is bare words only, and doth not stand for things. For if
thou do but say the house is thine, it is a word without a reality: since
the very air, earth, matter, are the Creator's; and so art thou too thyself,
who hast framed it; and all other things also. But supposing the use to
be thine, even this is uncertain, not on account of death alone, but also
before death, because of the instability of things.
[6.] These things then continually picturing to ourselves, let us lead
strict lives; and we shall gain two of the greatest advantages. For first,
we shall be thankful both when we have and when we are bereaved; and we
shall not be enslaved to things which are fleeting by, and things not our
own. For whether it be wealth that He taketh, He hath taken but His own;
or honor, or glory, or the body, or the life itself: be it that He taketh
away thy son, it is not thy son that He hath taken, but His own servant.
For thou formedst him not, but He made him. Thou didst but minister to
his appearing; the whole was God's own work. Let us give thanks therefore
that we have been counted worthy to be His ministers in this matter. But
what? Wouldest thou have had him for ever? This again proves thee grudging,
and ignorant that it was another's child which thou hadst, and not thine
own. As therefore those who part resignedly are but aware that they have
what was not theirs; so whoever gives way to grief is in fact counting
the King's property his own. For, if we are not our own, how can they be
ours? I say, we: for in two ways we are His, both on account of our creation,
and also on account of the faith. Wherefore David saith, "My substance
is with Thee:" (Psalms chapter 39, verse 7 upostasij Sept. "hope" rec.
vers. of. ver. 6; Psalms chapter 139, verse 14) and Paul too, "For in Him
we live and move and have our being:" (Acts chapter 17, verse 28) and plying
the argument about the faith, he says, (1 Corinthians 6:19 and 1 Corinthians
chapter 6, verse 20) "Ye are not your own," and "ye were bought with a
price." For all things are God's. When then He calls and chooses to take,
let us not, like grudging servants, fly from the reckoning, nor purloin
our Master's goods. Thy soul is not thine; and how can thy wealth be thine?
How is it then that thou spendest on what is unnecessary the things which
are not thine? Knowest thou not that for this we are soon to be put on
our trial, that is, if we have used them badly? But seeing that they are
not our's but our Master's, it were right to expend them upon our fellow-servants.
It is worth considering that the omission of this was the charge brought
against that rich man: and against those also who had not given food to
the Lord. (St. Luke chapter 16, verse 21. St. Matthew chapter 25, verse
[7.] Say not then, "I am but spending mine own, and of mine own I live
delicately." It is not of thine own, but of other men's. Other men's, I
say, because such is thine own choice: for God's will is that those things
should be thine, which have been entrusted unto thee on behalf of thy brethren.
Now the things which are not thine own become thine, if thou spend them
upon others: but if thou spend on thyself unsparingly, thine own things
become no longer thine. For since thou usest them cruelly, and sayest,
"That my own things should be altogether spent on my own enjoyment is fair:"
therefore I call them not thine own. For they are common to thee and thy
fellow-servants; just as the sun is common, the air, the earth, and all
the rest. For as in the case of the body, each ministration belongs both
to the whole body and to each several member; but when it is applied to
one single member only, it destroys the proper function of that very member:
so also it comes to pass in the case of wealth. And that what I say may
be made plainer; the food of the body which is given in common to the members,
should it pass into one member, even to that it turns out alien in the
end. For when it cannot be digested nor afford nourishment, even to that
part, I say, it turns out alien. But if it be made common, both that part
and all the rest have it as their own.
So also in regard of wealth. If you enjoy it alone, you too have lost
it: for you will not reap its reward. But if you possess it jointly with
the rest, then will it be more your own, and then will you reap the benefit
of it. Seest thou not that the hands minister, and the mouth softens, and
the stomach receives? Doth the stomach say, Since I have received, I ought
to keep it all? Then do not thou I pray, in regard to riches, use this
language. For it belongs to the receiver to impart. As then it is a vice
in the stomach to retain the food and not to distribute it, (for it is
injurious to the whole body,) so it is a vice in those that are rich to
keep to themselves what they have. For this destroys both themselves and
others. Again, the eye receives all the light: but it doth not itself alone
retain it, but enlightens the entire body. For it is not its nature to
keep it to itself, so long as it is an eye. Again, the nostrils are sensible
of perfume; but they do not keep it all to themselves, but transmit it
to the brain, and affect the stomach with a sweet savor, and by their means
refresh the entire man. The feet alone walk; but they move not away themselves
only, but transfer also the whole body. In like manner do thou, whatsoever
thou hast been entrusted withal, keep it not to thyself alone, since thou
art doing harm to the whole and to thyself more than all.
And not in the case of the limbs only may one see this occuring: for
the smith also, if he chose to impart of his craft to no one, ruins both
himself and all other crafts. Likewise the cordwainer, the husbandman,
the baker, and everyone of those who pursue any necessary calling; if he
chose not to communicate to anyone of the results of his art, will ruin
not the others only but himself also with them.
And why do I say, "the rich?" For the poor too, if they followed after
the wickedness of you who are covetous and rich, would injure you very
greatly and soon make you poor; yea rather, they would quite destroy you,
were they in your want unwilling to impart of their own: the tiller of
the ground, (for instance,) of the labor of his hands; the sailor, of the
gain from his voyages; the soldier, of his distinction won in the wars.
Wherefore if nothing else can, yet let this at least put you to shame,
and do you imitate their benevolence. Dost thou impart none of thy wealth
unto any? Then shouldest thou not receive any thing from another: in which
case, the world will be turned upside down. For in every thing to give
and receive is the principle of numerous blessings: in seeds, in scholars,
in arts. For if any one desire tO keep his art to himself, he subverts
both himself and the whole course of things. And the husbandman, if he
bury and keep the seeds in his house, will bring about a grievous famine.
So also the rich man, if he act thus in regard of his wealth, will destroy
himself before the poor, heaping up the fire of hell more grievous upon
his own head.
[8.] Therefore as teachers, however many scholars they have, impart
some of their lore unto each; so let thy possession be, many to whom thou
hast done good. And let all say, "such an one he freed from poverty, such
an one from dangers. Such an one would have perished, had he not, next
to the grace of God, enjoyed thy patronage. This man's disease thou didst
cure, another thou didst rid of false accusation, another being a stranger
you took in, another being naked you clothed." Wealth inexhaustible and
many treasures are not so good as such sayings. They draw all men's gaze
more powerfully than your golden vestments, and horses, and slaves. For
these make a man appear even odious: (fortixon, a conj. of Saville's for
fortixa) they cause him to be hated as a common foe; but the former proclaim
him as a common father and benefactor. And, what is greatest of all, Favor
from God waits on thee in every part of thy proceedings. What I mean is,
let one man say, He helped to portion out my daughter: another, And he
afforded my son the means of taking his station among men: (eij andraj
emfanhnai) another, He made my calamity to cease: another, He delivered
me from dangers. Better than golden crowns are words such as these, that
a man should have in his city innumerable persons to proclaim his beneficence.
Voices such as these are pleasanter far, and sweeter than the voices of
the heralds marching before the archons; to be called saviour, benefactor,
defender, (the very names of God;) and not, covetous, proud, insatiate,
and mean. Let us not, I beseech you, let us not have a fancy for any of
these titles, but the contrary. For if these, spoken on earth, make one
so splendid and illustrious; when they are written in heaven, and God proclaims
them on the day that shall come, think what renown, what splendor thou
shalt enjoy! Which may it be the lot of us all to obtain, through the grace
and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom unto the Father
and the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and always and unto everlasting
1 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 3 and 1 Corinthians chapter 4, verse
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of
you, or of man's judgment: yea I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing
against myself, yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is
Together with all other ills, I know not how, there hath come upon man's
nature the disease of restless prying and of unseasonable curiosity, which
Christ Himself chastised, saying, (St. Matthew chapter 7, verse 1) "Judge
not, that ye be not judged." A kind of thing, which hath no pleasure as
all other sins have, but only punishment and vengeance. For though we are
ourselves full of ten thousand evils, and bearing the "beams" in our own
eyes, we become exact inquisitors of the offences of our neighbor which
are not at all bigger than "motes." And so this matter at Corinth was failing
out. Religious men and dear to God were ridiculed and cast out for their
want Of learning; while others, brimful of evils innumerable, were classed
highly because of their fluent speech. Then like persons sitting in public
to try causes, these were the sort of votes they kept rashly passing: "such
an one is worthy: such an one is better than such another; this man is
inferior to that; that, better than this." And, leaving off to mourn for
their own bad ways, they were become judges of others; and in this way
again were kindling grievous warfare.
Mark then, how wisely Paul corrects them, doing away with this disease.
For since he had said, "Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man
be found faithful," and it seemed as if he were giving them an opening
to judge and pry into each man's life, and this was aggravating the party
feeling; lest such should be the effect on them, he draws them away from
that kind of petty disputation, saying, "With me it is a very small thing
that I should be judged of you;" again in his own person carrying on the
[2.] But what means, "With me it is a very small thing that I should
be judged of you or of man's day?" (hmeraj) "I judge myself unworthy,"
saith he, "of being judged by you." And why say I, "by you?" I will add,
"by (xai to [tou]) any one else." Howbeit, let no one condemn Paul of arrogance;
though he saith that no man is worthy to pass sentence concerning him.
For first, he saith these things not for his own sake, but wishing to rescue
others from the odium which they had incurred from the Corinthians. And
in the next place, he limits not the matter to the Corinthians merely,
but himself also he deposes from this right of judging; saying, that to
decree such things was a matter beyond his decision. At least he adds,
"I judge not mine own self."
But besides what has been said, we must search out the ground upon which
these expressions were uttered. For he knew well in many cases how to speak
with high spirit: and that, not of pride or arrogance, but of a certain
excellent management [oixonomiaj aristhj] seeing that in the present case
also he saith this, not as lifting up himself, but as taking down other
men's sails, and earnestly seeking to invest the saints with due honor.
For in proof that he was one of the very humble, hear what he saith, bringing
forward the testimony of his enemies on this point; "His bodily presence
is weak, and his speech of no account; (2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse
10) and again, "Last of all, as to one born out of due time, He appeared
unto me also." (2 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 8) But notwithstanding,
see this lowly man, when the time called on him, to what a pitch he raises
the spirit of the disciples, not teaching pride but instilling a wholesome
courage. For with these same discoursing he saith, "And if the world shall
be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 1 Corinthians
chapter 6, verse 2. For as the Christian ought to be far removed from arrogance,
so also from flattery and a mean spirit. Thus, if any one says, "I count
money as nothing, but all things here are to me as a shadow, and a dream,
and child's play;" we are not at all to charge him as arrogant; since in
this way we shall have to accuse Solomon himself of arrogance, for speaking
austerely (filosofounta) on these things, saying "Vanity of vanities (Ecclesiastes
chapter 1, verse 2) all is vanity." But God forbid that we should call
the strict rule of life by the name of arrogance. Wherefore to despise
these things is not haughtiness, but greatness of soul; albeit we see kings,
and rulers, and potentates, making much of them. But many a poor man, leading
a strict life despises them; and we are not therefore to call him arrogant
but highminded: just as, on the other hand, if any be extremely addicted
to them, we do not call him lowly of heart and moderate, but weak, and
poor spirited, and ignoble. For so, should a son despise the pursuits which
become his father and affect slavish ways, we should not commend him as
lowly of heart, but as base and servile we should reproach him. What we
should admire in him would be, his despising those meaner things and making
much account of what came to him from his father. For this is arrogance,
to think one's self better than one's fellow-servants: but to pass the
true sentence on things cometh not of boasting, but of strictness of life.
On this account Paul also, not to exalt himself, but to humble others,
and to keep down those who were rising up out of their places, and to persuade
them to be modest, said, "With me it is a very small thing that I should
be judged of you or of man's day." Observe how he soothes the other party
also. For whosoever is told that he looks down on all alike, and deigns
not to be judged of any one, will not thenceforth any more feel pain, as
though himself were the only one excluded. For if he had said, "Of you,"
only, and so held his peace; this were enough to gall them as if treated
contemptuously. But now, by introducing, "nor yet of man's day," he brought
alleviation to the blow; giving them partners in the contempt. Nay, he
even softens this point again, saying, "not even do I judge myself." Mark
the expression, how entirely free from arrogance: in that not even he himself,
he saith, is capable of so great exactness.
[3.] Then because this saying also seemed to be that of one extolling
himself greatly, this too he corrects, saying, "Yet am I not hereby justified."
What then? Ought we not to judge ourselves and our own misdeeds? Yes surely:
there is great need to do this when we sin. But Paul said not this, "For
I know nothing," saith he, "against myself." What misdeed then was he to
judge, when he "knew nothing against himself?' Yet, saith he, "he was not
justified." (1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 3) We then who have our conscience
filled with ten thousand wounds, and are conscious to ourselves of nothing
good, but quite the contrary; what can we say?
And how could it be, if he knew nothing against himself that he was
not justified? Because it was possible for him to have committed certain
sins, not however, knowing that they were sins. From this make thine estimate
how great shall be the strictness of the future judgment. It is not, you
see, as considering himself unblameable that he saith it is so unmeet for
him to be judged by them, but to stop the mouths of those who were doing
so unreasonably. At least in another place, even though men's sins be notorious,
he permits not judgment unto others, because the occasion required it.
"For why dost thou judge thy brother," saith he, (Romans chapter 14, verse
10) or, "thou, why dost thou set at nought thy brother?" For thou wert
not enjoined, O man, to judge others, but to test thine own doings. Why
then dost thou seize upon the office of the Lord? Judgment is His, not
To which effect, he adds, "Therefore judge nothing before the time,
until the Lord come; who will both bring to light the hidden things of
darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall
each man have his praise from God." What then? Is it not right that our
teachers should do this? It is right in the case of open and confessed
sins, and that with fitting opportunity, and even then with pain and inward
vexation: not as these were acting at that time, of vain-glory and arrogance.
For neither in this instance is he speaking of those sins which all own
to be such, but about preferring one before another, and making comparisons
of modes of life. For these things He alone knows how to judge with accuracy,
who is to judge our secret doings, which of these be worthy of greater
and which of less punishment and honor. But we do all this according to
what meets our eye. "For if in mine own errors," saith he, "I know nothing
clearly, how can I be worthy to pass sentence on other men? And how shall
I who know not my own case with accuracy, be able to judge the state of
others?" Now if Paul felt this, much more we. For (to proceed) he spake
these things, not to exhibit himself as faultless, but to shew that even
should there be among them some such person, free from transgression, not
even he would be worthy to judge the lives of others: and that if he, though
conscious to himself of nothing declare himself guilty, much more they
who have ten thousand sins to be conscious of in themselves.
[4.] Having thus, you see, stopped the mouths of those who pass such
sentences, he travails next with strong feeling ready to break out and
come upon the unclean person. And like as when a storm is coming on, some
clouds fraught with darkness run before it; afterwards, when the crash
of the thunders ariseth and works the whole heavens into one black cloud,
then all at once the rain bursts down upon the earth: so also did it then
happen. For though he might in deep indignation have dealt with the fornicator,
he doth not so; but with fearful words he first represses the swelling
pride of the man, since in truth, what had occurred was a twofold sin,
fornication, and, that which is worse than fornication, the not grieving
over the sin committed. For not so much does he bewail the sin, as him
that committed it and did not as yet repent. Thus, "I shall bewail many
of those," saith he, not simply "who have sinned heretofore," but he adds,
"who have not repented of the uncleanness and impurity which they wrought."
(2 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 21) For he who after sinning hath practised
repentance, is a worthy object not of grief but of gratulations, having
passed over into the choir of the righteous. For, (Isaiah chapter 43, verse
26) "declare thou thine iniquities first, that thou mayest be justified:"
but if after sinning one is void of shame, he is not so much to be pitied
for falling as for lying where he is fallen.
Now if it be a grievous fault not to repent after sins; to be puffed
up because of sins, what sort of punishment doth it deserve? For if he
who is elate for his good deeds is unclean, what pardon shall he meet with
who has that feeling with regard to his sins?
Since then the fornicator was of this sort, and had rendered his mind
so headstrong and unyielding through his sin, he of course begins by casting
down his pride. And he neither puts the charge first, for fear of making
him hardened, as singled out for accusation before the rest; nor yet later,
lest he should suppose that what related to him was but incidental. But,
having first excited great alarm in him by his plain speaking towards others,
then, and not till then, he goes on to him, in the course of his rebuke
to others giving the man's wilfulness a share beforehand.
For these same words, viz. "I know nothing against myself, yet am I
not hereby justified," and this, "He that judgeth me is the Lord, who will
both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the
counsels of the hearts," glance not lightly both upon that person, and
upon such as act in concert with him and despise the saints. "For what,"
saith he, "if any outwardly appear to be virtuous and admirable persons?
He, the Judge, is not a discerner of externals only, but also brings to
light all secrets."
[5.] On two accounts you see, or rather on three, correct judgement
belongs not to us. One, because, though we be conscious to ourselves of
nothing, still we need one to reprove our sins with strictness. Another,
because the most part of the things which are done escape us and are concealed.
And for a third besides these, because many things which are done by others
seem to us indeed fair, but they come not of a right mind. Why say ye then,
that no sin hath been committed by this or that person? That such an one
is better than such another? Seeing that this we are not to pronounce,
not even concerning him who knows nothing against himself. For He who discerns
secrets, He it is who with certainty judges. Behold, for example; I for
my part know nothing against myself: yet neither so am I justified, that
is, I am not quit of accounts to be given, nor of charges to be answered.
For he doth not say this, "I rank not among the righteous;" but "I am not
pure from sin." For elsewhere he saith also, (Romans chapter 6, verse 7,
dedixaiwtai, toutestin aphllaxtai.) "He that hath died is justified from
sin," that is, "is liberated."
Again, many things we do, good indeed, but not of a right mind. For
so we commend many, not from a wish to render them conspicuous, but to
wound others by means of them. And the thing done indeed is right for the
well-doer is praised; but the intention is corrupt: for it is done of a
satanical purpose. For this one hath often done, not rejoicing with his
brother, but desiring to wound the other party.
Again, a man hath committed a great error; some other person, wishing
to supplant him, says that he hath done nothing, and comforts him forsooth
in his error by recurring to the common frailty of nature. But oftentimes
he doth this from no mind to sympathize, but to make him more easy in his
Again, a man rebukes oftentimes not so much to reprove and admonish,
as publicly to (expompeusai xai extragwdhsai) display and exaggerate his
neighbor's sin. Our counsels however themselves men do not know; but, (Romans
chapter 8, verse 27) "He that searcheth the hearts," knows them perfectly;
and He will bring all such things into view at that time. Wherefore he
saith, "Who will bring to light the secret things of darkness and make
manifest the counsels of the hearts."
[6.] Seeing then that not even where we "know nothing against ourselves,"
can we be clean from accusations, and where we do any thing good, but do
it not of a right mind, we are liable to punishment; consider how vastly
men are deceived in their judgments. For all these matters are not be come
at by men, but by the unsleeping Eye alone: and though we may deceive men,
our sophistry will never avail against Him. Say not then, darkness is around
me and walls; who seeth me? For He who by Himself formed our hearts, Himself
knoweth all things. (Psalms chapter 139, verse 12) "For darkness is no
darkness with Him." And yet he who is committing sin, well saith, "Darkness
is around me and walls;" for were there not a darkness in his mind he would
not have cast out the fear of God and acted as he pleased. For unless the
ruling principle be first darkened, the entrance of sin without fear is
a thing impossible. Say not then, who seeth me? For there is that (Hebrews
chapter 4, verse 12) "pierceth even unto soul and spirit, joints and marrow;"
but thou seest not thyself nor canst thou pierce the cloud; but as if thou
hadst a wall on all sides surrounding thee, thou art without power to look
up unto the heaven.
For whatsoever sin thou wilt, first let us examine, and thou shalt see
that so it is engendered. For as robbers and they who dig through walls
when they desire to carry off any valuable thing, put out the candle and
then do their work; so also doth men's perverse reasoning in the case of
those who are committing sin. Since in us also surely there is a light,
the light of reason, ever burning. But if the spirit of wickedness coming
eagerly on with its strong blast quench that flame, it straightway darkens
the soul and prevails against it, and despoils it straightway of all that
is laid up therein. For when by unclean desire the soul is made captive,
even as a cloud and mist the eyes of the body, so that desire intercepts
the foresight of the mind, and suffers it to see nothing at any distance,
either precipice, or hell, or fear; but thenceforth, having that deceit
as a tyrant over him, he comes to be easily vanquished by sin; and there
is raised up before his eyes as it were a wall without windows, which suffers
not the ray of righteousness to shine in upon the mind, the absurd conceits
of lust enclosing it as with a rampart on all sides. And from that time
forward the unchaste woman is everywhere meeting him: standing present
before his eyes, before his mind, before his thoughts. And as the blind,
although they stand at high noon beneath the very central point of the
heaven, receive not the light, their eyes being fast dosed up; just so
these also, though ten thousand doctrines of salvation sound in their ears
from all quarters, having their soul preoccupied with this passion stop
their ears against such discourses. And they know it well who have made
the trial. But God forbid that you should know it from actual experience.
[7.] And not only this sin hath these effects, but every misplaced affection
as well. For let us transfer, if you please, the argument from the unchaste
woman unto money, and we shall see here also thick and unbroken darkness.
For in the former case, inasmuch as the beloved object is one and shut
up in one place, the feeling is not so violent; but in the case of money
which sheweth itself every where, in silversmiths' shops, in taverns, in
foundries for gold, in the houses of the wealthy, the passion blows a vehement
gale. For when servants swaggering in the market place, horses with golden
trappings, men decked with costly garments, are seen with desire by him
who has that distemper, the darkness becomes intense which envelopes him.
And why speak of houses and silversmiths' shops? for my part I think that
such persons, though it be but in a picture and image that they see the
wealth, are convulsed, and grow wild, and rave. So that from all quarters
the darkness gathers around them. And if they chance to behold a portraiture
of a King, they admire not the beauty of the precious stones, nor yet the
gold, nor the purple robe, but they pine away. And as the wretched lover
before mentioned, though he see but the image of the woman beloved, cleaveth
unto the lifeless thing; so this man also, beholding a lifeless image of
wealth, is more strongly affected in the same way, as being holden of a
more tyrannical passion. And he must henceforth either abide at home, or
if he venture into the Forum, return home with innumerable hurts. For many
are the objects which grieve his eyes. And just as the former seeth nothing
else save the woman, even so the latter hastens by poor persons, and all
things else, that he may not obtain so much as a slight alleviation. But
upon the wealthy he steadily fixeth his eyes; by the sight of them introducing
the fire into his own soul mightily and vehemently. For it is a fire that
miserably devours the person that falls into it; and if no hell were threatened
nor yet punishment, this condition were itself punishment; to be continually
tormented and never able to find an end to the malady.
[8.] Well: these things alone might suffice to recommend our fleeing
from this distemper. But there is no greater evil than inconsideration
which causes men to be rivetted unto things thatbring sorrow of heart and
no advantage. Wherefore I exhort that you cut off the passion at its beginning:
for just as a fever on its first attack, does not violently burn up the
patients with thirst, but on its increase and the heightening of its fire
causes from that time incurable thirst; and though one should let them
fill themselves full of drink, it puts not out the furnace but makes it
burn fiercer: so also it happens in regard to this passion; unless when
it first invadeth our soul we stop it and shut the doors; having got in,
from that time it makes the disease of those who have admitted it incurable.
For so both good things and bad, the longer they abide in us, the more
powerful they become.
And in all other things too, any one may see that this cometh to pass.
For so a plant but lately set in the ground is easily pulled up; but no
more so when rooted for a long time; it then requires great strength in
the lever. And a building newly put together is easily thrown down by those
who push against it; but once well fixed, it gives great trouble to those
who attempt to pull it down. And a wild beast that hath made his accustomed
haunt in certain places for a long time is with difficulty driven away.
Those therefore who are not yet possessed by the passion in question,
I exhort not to be taken captive. For it is more easy to guard against
falling into it, than having fallen to get away.
[9.] But unto those who are seized by it and broken down, if they will
consent to put themselves into the hands of the Word of healing, I promise
large hope of salvation, by the Grace of God. For if they will consider
those who have suffered and fallen into that distemper and have recovered,
they will have good hopes respecting the removal of the disease. Who then
ever fell into this disease, and was easily rid of it? That welt-known
Zacchaeus. For who could be more fond of money than a publican? But all
at once he became a man of strict life, (Filosofoj) and put out all that
blaze. Matthew in like manner: for he too was a publican, living in continual
rapine. But he likewise all at once stripped himself of the mischief, and
quenched his thirst, and followed after spiritual gain. Considering therefore
these, and the like to them, despair not even thou. For if thou wilt, quickly
thou shalt be able to recover. And if you please, according to the rule
of physicians, we will prescribe accurately what thou shouldest do.
It is necessary then, before all other things, to be right in this,
that we never despond, nor despair of our salvation. Next, we must look
not only upon the examples of those who have done well, but also upon the
sufferings of those who have persisted in sin. For as we have considered
Zacchaeus, and Matthew, even so ought we also to take account of Judas,
and Gehazi, and Ahar, [perhaps Achan, Josh. vii.] and Ahab, and Ananias,
and Sapphira, in order that by the one, we may cast out all despair, and
by the other cut off all indolence; and that the soul become not reckless
of the remedies suggested. And let us teach them of themselves to say what
the Jews said on that day, approaching unto Peter, (Acts chapter 2, verse
37, cf. xvi, 30.) "What must we do to be saved?" And let them hear what
they must do.
[10.] What then must we do? We must know how worthless the things in
question are, and that wealth is a run-away slave, and heartless, and encompasseth
its possessors with ills innumerable. And such words, like charms, let
us sound in their ears continually. And as physicians soothe their patients
when they ask for cold water, by saying that they will give it, making
excuses about the spring, and the vessel, and the fit time, and many more
such, (for should they refuse at once, they make them wild with phrensy,)
so let us also act towards the lovers of money. When they say we desire
to be rich, let us not say immediately that wealth is an evil thing; but
let us assent, and say that we also desire it; but in due time; yea, true
wealth; yea, that which hath undying pleasure: yea, that which is gathered
for thyself, and not for others, and those often our enemies. And let us
produce the lessons of true wisdom, and say, we forbid not riches, but
ill-gotten riches. For it is lawful to be rich, but without covetousness,
without rapine and violence, and an ill report from all men. With these
arguments let us first smooth them down, and not as yet discourse of hell.
For the sick man endures not yet such sayings. Wherefore let us go to this
world for all our arguments upon these matters; and say, "Why is it thy
choice to be rich through covetousness? That the gold and the silver may
be laid up. for others, but for thee, curses and accusations innumerable?
That he whom you have defrauded may be stung by want of the very necessaries
of life, and bewail himself, and draw down upon thee the censure of thousands;
and may go at fall of evening about the market place, encountering every
one in the alleys, and in utter perplexity, and not knowing what to trust
to even for that one night? For how is he to sleep after all, with pangs
of the belly, restless famine besetting him, and that often while it is
freezing, and the rain coming down on him? And while thou, having washed,
returnest home from the bath, in a glow with soft raiment, merry of heart
and rejoicing, and hastening unto a banquet prepared and costly: he, driven
every where about the market place by cold and hunger, takes his round,
stooping low and stretching out his hands; nor hath he even spirit without
trembling to make his suit for his necessary food to one so full fed and
so bent on taking his ease; nay, often he has to retire with insult. When
therefore thou hast returned home, when thou liest down on thy couch, whenthe
lights round thine house shine bright, when the table is prepared and plentiful,
at that time call to rememberance that poor miserable man wandering about,
like the dogs in the alleys, in darkness and in mire; except indeed when,
as is often the case, he has to depart thence, not unto house, nor wife,
nor bed, but unto a pallet of straw; even as we see the dogs baying all
through the night. And thou, if thou seest but a little drop failing from
the roof, throwest the whole house into confusion, calling thy slaves and
disturbing every thing: while he, laid in rags, and straw, and dirt, has
to bear all the cold.
What wild beast would not be softened by these things? Who is there
so savage and inhuman that these things should not make him mild? and yet
there are some who are arrived at such a pitch of cruelty as even to say
that they deserve what they suffer. Yea, when they ought to pity, and weep,
and help to alleviate men's calamities, they on the contrary visit them
with savage and inhuman censures. Of these I should be glad to ask, Tell
me, why do they deserve what they suffer? Is it because they would be fed
and not starve?
No, you will reply; but because they would be fed in idleness. And thou,
dost not thou wanton in idleness? What say I? Art thou not oft-times toiling
in an occupation more grievous than any idleness, grasping, and oppressing,
and coveting? Better were it if thou too wert idle after this sort; for
it is better to be idle in this way, than to be covetous. But now thou
even tramplest on the calamities of others, not only idling, not only pursuing
an occupation worse than idleness, but also maligning those who spend their
days in misery.
And let us farther narrate to them the disasters of others; the untimely
bereavements, the dwellers in prison, those who are torn to pieces before
tribunals, those who are trembling for life; the unlooked for widowhood
of women; the sudden reverse of the rich: and with this let us soften their
minds. For by our narrations concerning others, we shall induce them by
all means to fear these evils in their own case too. For when they hear
that the son of such an one who was a covetous and grasping man, or (h
tou deinoj instead of hn; tou deinoj) the wife of such an one who did many
tyrannical actions, after the death of her husband endured afflictions
without end; the injured persons setting upon the wife and the children,
and a general war being raised from all quarters against his house; although
a man be the most senseless of beings, yet expecting himself also to suffer
the same, and fearing for his own lest they undergo the same fate, he will
become more moderate. Now we find life full of many such histories, and
we shall not be at a loss for correctives of this kind.
But when we speak these things, let us not speak them as giving advice
or counsel, test our discourse become too irksome: but as in the order
of the narrative and by association with something else, let us proceed
in each case unto that kind of conversation, and let us be constantly putting
them upon stories of the kind, permitting them to speak of no subject except
these which follow: How such an one's splendid and famous mansion fell
down; How it is so entirely desolate that all things that were in it have
come into the hands of others; How many trials have taken place daily about
this same property, what a stir; How many of that man's relations (oixetai,
probably oixeioi) have died either beggars, or inhabitants of a prison.
All these things let us speak as in pity for the deceased, and as depreciating
things present; in order that by fear and by pity we may soften the cruel
mind. And when we see men shrinking into themselves at these narrations,
then and not till then let us introduce to their notice also the doctrine
of hell, not as terrifying these, but in compassion for others. And let
us say, But why speak of things present? For far, indeed, will our concern
be from ending with these; a yet more grievous punishment will await all
such persons: even a river of fire, and a poisonous worm, and darkness
interminable, and undying tortures. If with such addresses we succeed in
throwing a spell over them, we shall correct both ourselves and them, and
quickly get the better of our infirmity.
And on that day we shall have God to praise us: as also Paul saith,
"And then shall each man have praise from God." For that which cometh from
men, is both fleeting, and sometimes it proceeds from no good intentions.
But that which cometh from God both abideth continually, and shines out
clearly. For when He who knew all things before their creation, and who
is free from all passion, gives praise, then also the demonstration of
our virtue is even unquestionable.
Knowing these things therefore, let us act so as to be praised of God,
and to acquire the greatest blessings; which God grant us all to obtain,
through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom
to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, honor, now and always,
and unto all the ages of eternity. Amen.