From Homily VII
Chap. iii. ver. 1. "If then ye were raised together with Christ."
He brings them together, having above established that He died. Therefore
he saith, "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things
that are above." No observances are there. "Where Christ is seated on the
right hand of God." Wonderful! Whither hath he led our minds aloft! How
hath he filled them with mighty aspiration! It was not enough to say, "the
things that are above," nor yet, "where Christ is," but what? "seated on
the right hand of God." From that point he was preparing them henceforward
to see the earth.
Ver. 2, 3, 4. "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on
the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with
Christ in God. When Christ who is your life shall be manifested, then shall
ye also with Him be manifested in glory."
This is not your life, he saith, it is some other one. He is now urgent
to remove them, and insists upon showing that they are seated above, and
are dead; from both considerations establishing the position, that they
are not to seek the things which are here. For whether ye be dead, ye ought
not to seek them; or Whether ye be above, ye ought not to seek them. Doth
Christ appear? Neither doth your life. It is in God, above. What then?
When shall we live? When Christ shall be manifested, who is your life;
then seek ye glory, then life, then enjoyment.
This is to prepare the way for drawing them off from pleasure and ease.
Such is his wont: when establishing one position, he darts off to another;
as, for instance, when discoursing of those who at supper were beforehand
with one another, he all at once falls upon the observance of the Mysteries.
For he hath a great rebuke when it is administered unsuspected. "It is
hid," he saith, from you. "Then shall ye also with Him be manifested."
So that, now, ye do not appear. See how he hath removed them into the very
heaven. For, as I said, he is always bent upon showing that they have the
very same things which Christ hath; and through all his Epistles, the tenor
is this, to show that in all things they are partakers with Him. Therefore
he uses the terms, Head, and Body, and does everything to convey this to
If therefore we shall then be manifested, let us not grieve, when we
enjoy not honor: if this life be not life, but it be hidden, we ought to
live this life as though dead. "Then shall ye also," he saith, "with Him
be manifested in glory." "In glory," he said, not merely "manifested."
For the pearl too is hidden so long as it is within the oyster. If then
we be treated with insult, let us not grieve; or whatever it be we suffer;
for this life is not our life, we are strangers and sojourners. "For ye
died," he saith. Who is so witless, as for a corpse, dead and buried, either
to buy servants, or build houses, or prepare costly raiment? None. Neither
then do ye; but as we seek one thing only, namely, that we be not in a
naked state, so here too let us seek one thing and no more. Our first man
is buried: buried not in earth, but in water; not death-destroyed, but
buried by death's destroyer, not by the law of nature, but by the governing
command that is stronger than nature. For what has been done by nature,
may perchance be undone; but what has been done by His command, never.
Nothing is more blessed than this burial, whereat all are rejoicing, both
Angels, and men, and the Lord of Angels. At this burial, no need is there
of vestments, nor of coffin, nor of anything else of that kind. Wouldest
thou see the symbol of this? I will show thee a pool wherein the one was
buried, the other raised; in the Red Sea the Egyptians were sunk beneath
it, but the Israelites went up from out of it; in the same act he buries
the one, generates the other.
Marvel not that generation and destruction take place in Baptism; for,
tell me, dissolving and cementing, are they not opposite? It is evident
to all. Such is the effect of fire; for fire dissolves and destroys wax,
but it cements together metallic earth, and works it into gold. So in truth
here also, the force of the fire, having obliterated the statue of wax,
has displayed a golden one in its stead; for in truth before the Bath we
were of clay, but after it of gold. Whence is this evident? Hear him saying,
"The first man is of the earth, earthy, the second man is the Lord from
heaven." (1 Cor. xv. 47.) I spoke of a difference as great as that between
clay and gold; but greater still do I find the difference between heavenly
and earthy; not so widely do clay and gold differ, as do things earthy
and heavenly. Waxen we were, and clay-formed. For the flame of lust did
much more melt us, than fire doth wax, and any chance temptation did far
rather shatter us than a stone doth things of clay. And, if ye will, let
us give an outline of the former life, and see whether all was not earth
and water, and full of fluctuation and dust, and instability, and flowing
And if ye will, let us scrutinize not the former things, but the present,
and see whether we shall not find everything that is, mere dust and water.
For what wilt thou tell me of? authority and power? for nothing in this
present life is thought to be more enviable than these. But sooner may
one find the dust when on the air stationary, than these things; especially
now. For to whom are they not under subjection? To those who are lovers
of them; to eunuchs; to those who will do anything for the sake of money;
to the passions of the populace; to the wrath of the more powerful. He
who was yesterday up high on his tribunal, who had his heralds shouting
with thrilling voice, and many to run before, and haughtily clear the way
for him through the forum, is to-day mean and low,and of all those things
bereft and bare, like dust blast-driven, like a stream that hath passed
by. And like as the dust is raised by our feet, so truly are magistracies
also produced by those who are engaged about money, and in the whole of
life have the rank and condition of feet; and like as the dust when it
is raised occupies a large portion of the air, though itself be but a small
body, so too doth power; and like as the dust blindeth the eyes, so too
doth the pride of power bedim the eyes of the understanding.
But what? Wilt thou that we examine that object of many prayers, wealth?
Come, let us examine it in its several parts. It hath luxury, it hath honors,
it hath power. First then, if thou wilt, let us examine luxury. Is it not
dust? yea, rather, it goeth by swifter than dust, for the pleasure of luxurious
living reacheth only to the tongue, and when the belly is filled, not to
the tongue even. But, saith one, honors are of themselves pleasant things.
Yet what can be less pleasant than that same honor, when it is rendered
with a view to money? When it is not from free choice and with a readiness
of mind, it is not thou that reapest the honor, but thy wealth. So that
this very thing makes the man of wealth, most of all men, dishonored. For,
tell me; suppose all men honored thee, who hadst a friend; the while confessing
that thou, to be sure, wert good for nothing, but that they were compelled
to honor thee on his account; could they possibly in any other way have
so dishonored thee? So that our wealth is the cause of dishonor to us,
seeing it is more honored than are its very possessors, and a proof rather
of weakness than of power. How then is it not absurd that we are not counted
of as much value as earth and ashes, (for such is gold,) but that we are
honored for its sake? With reason. But not so he that despiseth wealth;
for it were better not to be honored at all, than so honored. For tell
me, were one to say to thee, I think thee worthy of no honor at all, but
for thy servants' sakes I honor thee, could now anything be worse than
this dishonor? But if to be honored for the sake of servants, who are partakers
of the same soul and nature with ourselves, be a disgrace, much more then
is it such, to be honored for the sake of meaner things, such as the walls
and courts of houses, and vessels of gold, and garments. A scorn indeed
were this, and shame; better die than be so honored. For, tell me, if thou
wert in peril in this thy pride, and some low and disgusting person were
to be willing to extricate thee from thy peril, what could be worse than
this? What ye say one to another about the city, I wish to say to you.
Once on a time our city gave offense to the Emperor, and he gave orders
that the whole of it should utterly be destroyed, men, children, houses,
and all. (For such is the wrath of kings, they indulge their power as much
as ever they choose, so great an evil is power) It was then in the extremest
of perils. The neighboring city, however, this one on the sea-coast, went
and besought the king in our behalf: upon which the inhabitants of our
city said that this was worse than if the city had been razed to the ground.
So, to be thus honored is worse than being dishonored. For see whence honor
hath its root. The hands of cooks procure us to be honored, so that to
them we ought to feel gratitude; and swineherds supplying us with a rich
table, and weavers, and spinners, and workers in metal, and confectioners,
and table furnishers.
Were it not then better not to be honored at all, than to be beholden
to these for the honor? And besides this, moreover, I will endeavor to
prove clearly that opulence is a condition full of dishonor; it embases
the soul; and what is more dishonorable than this? For tell me, suppose
one had a comely person, and passing all in beauty, and wealth were to
go to him and promise to make it ugly, and instead of healthy, diseased,
instead of cool, inflamed; and having filled every limb with dropsy, were
to make the countenance bloated, and distend it all over; and were to swell
out the feet, and make them heavier than logs, and to puff up the belly,
and make it larger than any tun; and after this, it should promise not
even to grant permission to cure him, to those who should be desirous of
doing so, (for such is the way with power,) but would give him so much
liberty as to punish any one that should approach him to withdraw him from
what was harming him; well then, tell me, when wealth works these effects
in the soul, how can it be honorable?
But this power is a more grievous thing than the disease itself; as
for one in disease not to be obedient to the physician's injunctions is
a more serious evil than the being diseased; and this is the case with
wealth, seeing it creates inflammation in every part of the soul, and forbids
the physicians to come near it. So let us not felicitate these on the score
of their power, but pity them; for neither were I to see a dropsical patient
lying, and nobody forbidding him to take his fill of whatever drinks he
pleased and of meats that are harmful, would I felicitate him because of
his power. For not in all cases is power a good thing, nor are honors either,
for these too fill one with much arrogance. But if thou wouldest not choose
that the body should along with wealth contract such a disease, how comest
thou to overlook the soul, and when contracting not this scourge alone,
but another also? For it is on fire all over with burning fevers and inflammations,
and that burning fever none can quench, for wealth will not allow of this,
having persuaded it that those things are gains, which are really losses,
such as not enduring any one and doing everything at will. For no other
soul will one find so replete with lusts so great and so extravagant, as
theirs who are desirous of being rich. For what silly trifles do they not
picture to themselves! One may see these devising more extravagant things
than limners of hippocentaurs, and chimaeras, and dragon-footed things,
and Scyllas, and monsters. And if one should choose to give a picture of
one lust of theirs, neither Scylla, nor chimaera, nor hippocentaur will
appear anything at all by the side of such a prodigy; but you will find
it to contain every wild beast at once.
And perchance some one will suppose that I have been myself possessed
of much wealth, seeing I am so true to what really comes of it. It is reported
of one (for I will first confirm what I have said from the legends of the
Greeks)-it is reported amongst them of a certain king, that he became so
insolent in luxury, as to make a plane tree of gold, and a sky above it,
and there sate, and this too when invading a people skilled in warfare.
Now was not this lust hippocentaurean, was it not Scyllaean? Another, again,
used to cast men into a wooden bull. Was not this a very Scylla? And even
him, the king I just mentioned, the warrior, wealth made, from a man a
woman, from a woman, what shall I say? a brute beast, and yet more degraded
than this for the beasts, if they lodge under a tree, take up with nature,
and seek for nothing further; but the man in question overshot the nature
even of beasts.
What then can be more senseless than are the wealthy? And this arises
from the greediness of their desires. But, are there not many that admire
him? Therefore truly do they share in the laughter he incurs. That displayed
not his wealth but his folly. How much better than that golden plane tree
is that which the earth produceth! For the natural is more grateful than
the unnatural. But what meant that thy golden heaven, O senseless one?
Seest thou how wealth that is abundant maketh men mad? How it inflamed
them? I suppose he knows not the sea even, and perchance will presently
have a mind to walk upon it. Now is not this a chimaera? is it not a hippocentaur?
But there are, at this time also, some who fall not short even of him,
but are actually much more senseless. For in point of senselessness, wherein
do they differ, tell me, from that golden plane tree, who make silver jars,
pitchers, and scent bottles? And wherein do those women differ, (ashamed
indeed I am, but it is necessary to speak it,) who make chamber utensils
of silver? It is ye should be ashamed, that are the makers of these things.
When Christ is famishing, dost thou so revel in luxury? yea rather, so
play the fool! What punishment shall these not suffer? And inquirest thou
still, why there are robbers? why murderers? why such evils? when the devil
has thus made you ridiculous. For the mere having of silver dishes indeed,
this even is not in keeping with a soul devoted to wisdom, but is altogether
a piece of luxury; but the making unclean vessels also of silver, is this
then luxury? nay, I will not call it luxury, but senselessness; nay, nor
yet this, but madness; nay rather, worse than even madness.
I know that many persons make jokes at me for this; but I heed them
not, only let some good result from it. In truth, to be wealthy does make
people senseless and mad. Did their power reach to such an excess, they
would have the earth too of gold, and walls of gold, perchance the heaven
too, and the air of gold. What a madness is this, what an iniquity, what
a burning fever! Another, made after the image of God, is perishing of
cold; and dost thou furnish thyself with such things as these? O the senseless
pride! What more would a madman have done? Dost thou pay such honor to
thine excrements, as to receive them in silver? I know that ye are shocked
at hearing this; but those women that make such things ought to be shocked,
and the husbands that minister to such distempers. For this is wantonness,
and savageness, and inhumanity, and brutishness, and lasciviousness. What
Scylla, what chimaera, what dragon, yea rather what demon, what devil would
have acted on this wise? What is the benefit of Christ? what of the Faith?
when one has to put up with men being heathens, yea rather, not heathens,
but demons? If to adorn the head with gold and pearls be not right; one
that useth silver for a service so unclean, how shall he obtain pardon?
Is not the rest enough, although even it is not bearable, chairs and footstools
all of silver? although even these come of senselessness. But everywhere
is excessive pride; everywhere is vainglory. Nowhere is it use, but everywhere
I am afraid lest, under the impulse of this madness, the race of woman
should go on to assume some portentous form: for it is likely that they
will wish to have even their hair of gold. Else declare that ye were not
at all affected by what was said, nor were excited greatly, and fell a
longing, and had not shame withheld you, would not have refused. For if
they dare to do what is even more absurd than this, much more, I think,
will they long for their hair, and lips, and eyebrows, and every part to
be overlaid with molten gold.
But if ye are incredulous, and think I am speaking in jest, I will relate
what I have heard, or rather what is now existing. The king of the Persians
wears his beard golden; those who are adepts at such work winding leaf
of gold about his hairs as about the woof, and it is laid up as a prodigy.
Glory to Thee, O Christ; with how many good things hast Thou filled
us! How hast Thou provided for our health! From how great monstrousness,
from how great unreasonableness, hast Thou set us free! Mark! I forewarn
you, I advise no longer; but I command and charge; let him that wills,
obey, and him that wills not, be disobedient; that if ye women do continue
thus to act, I will not suffer it, nor receive you, nor permit you to pass
across this threshold. For what need have I of a crowd of distempered people?
And what if, in my training of you, I do not forbid what is not excessive?
And yet Paul forbade both gold and pearls. (1 Tim. ii. 9.) We are laughed
at by the Greeks, our religion appears a fable.
And to the men I give this advice: Art thou come to school to be instructed
in spiritual philosophy? Divest thyself of that pride! This is my advice
both to men and women; and if any act otherwise, henceforward I will not
suffer it. The disciples were but twelve, and hear what Christ saith unto
them, "Would ye also go away?" (John vi. 67.) For if we go on for ever
flattering you, when shall we reclaim you? when shall we do you service?
"But," saith one, "there are other sects, and people go over." This is
a cold argument, "Better is one that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten
thousand transgressors." (Ecclus. xvi. 3.) For, what wouldest thou choose
thyself, tell me; to have ten thousand servants that were runaways and
thieves, or a single one that loved thee? Lo! I admonish and command you
to break up both those gay deckings for the face, and such vessels as I
have described, and give to the poor, and not to be so mad.
Let him that likes quit me at once; let him that likes accuse me, I
will not suffer it in any one. When I am about to be judged at the Tribunal
of Christ, ye stand afar off, and your favor, while I am giving in my account.
"Those words have ruined all! he says, `let him not go and transfer himself
to another sect!' Nay! he is weak! condescend to him!" To what point? Till
when? Once, and twice, and thrice, but not perpetually.
Lo! I charge you again, and protest after the pattern of the blessed
Paul, "that if I come again I will not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) But when
ye have done as ye ought, then ye will know how great the gain is, how
great the advantage. Yes! I entreat and beseech you, and would not refuse
to clasp your knees and supplicate you in this behalf. What softness is
it! What luxury, what wantonness! This is not luxury, but wantonness. What
senselessness is it! What madness! So many poor stand around the Church;
and though the Church has so many children, and so wealthy, she is unable
to give relief to even one poor person; "but one is hungry, and another
is drunken" (1 Cor. xi. 21); one voideth his excrement even into silver,
another has not so much as bread! What madness! what brutishness so great
as this? May we never come to the proof, whether we will prosecute the
disobedient, nor to the indignation which allowing these practices would
cause us; but that willingly and with patience we may avoid all this, that
we may live to God's glory, and be delivered from, the punishment in the
other world, and may obtain the good things promised to those who love
Him, through the grace and love toward man, &c.
A Portion of Homily VIII.
Colossians iii. 5-7.-"Mortify your members which are upon the earth;
fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which
is idolatry; for which things' sake, cometh the wrath of God upon the sons
of disobedience; in the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in
I Know that many are offended by the foregoing discourse, but what can
I do? ye heard what the Master enjoined. Am I to blame? what shall I do?
See ye not the creditors, when debtors are obstinate, how they wear collars?
Heard ye what Paul proclaimed today? "Mortify" he saith, "your members
which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire,
and covetousness, which is idolatry." What is worse than such a covetousness?
This is worse than any desire. This is still more grievous than what I
was speaking of, the madness, and the silly weakness about silver. "And
covetousness," he saith, "which is idolatry." See in what the evil ends.
Do not, I pray, take what I said amiss, for not by my own good-will, nor
without reason, would I have enemies; but I was wishful ye should attain
to such virtue, as that I might hear of you the things I ought. So that
I said it not for authority's sake, nor of imperiousness, but out of pain
and of sorrow. Forgive me, forgive! I have no wish to violate decency by
discoursing upon such subjects, but I am compelled to it.
Not for the sake of the sorrows of the poor do I say these things, but
for your salvation; for they will perish, will perish, that have not fed
Christ. For what, if thou dost feed some poor man? still so long as thou
livest so voluptuously and luxuriously, all is to no purpose. For what
is required is, not the giving much, but not too little for the property
thou hast; for this is but playing at it.
"Mortify therefore your members," he saith, "which are upon the earth."
What sayest thou? Was it not thou that saidst, "Ye are buried; ye are buried
together with Him; ye are circumcised: we have put off the body of the
sins of the flesh" (c. ii. 11, 12; Rom. vi. 4); how then again sayest thou,
"Mortify"? Art thou sporting? Dost thou thus discourse, as though those
things were in us? There is no contradiction; but like as if one, who has
clean scoured a statue that was filthy, or rather who has recast it, and
displayed it bright afresh, should say that the rust was eaten off and
destroyed, and yet should again recommend diligence in clearing away the
rust, he doth not contradict himself, for it is not that rust which he
scoured off that he recommends should be cleared away, but that which grew
afterwards; so it is not that former putting to death he speaks of, nor
those fornications, but those which do afterwards grow.
He said that this is not our life, but another, that which is in heaven.
Tell me now. When he said, Mortify your members that are upon the earth,
is then the earth also accused? or does he speak of the things upon the
earth as themselves sins? "Fornication, uncleanness," he saith. He has
passed over the actions which it is not becoming even to mention, and by
"uncleanness" has expressed all together.
"Passion," he said, "evil desire."
Lo! he has expressed the whole in the class. For envy, anger, sorrow,
all are "evil desire."
"And covetousness," he saith, "which is idolatry. For which
things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."
By many things he had been withdrawing them; by the benefits which are
already given, by the evils to come from which we had been delivered, being
who, and wherefore; and all those considerations, as, for instance, who
we were, and in what circumstances, and that we were delivered therefrom,
how, and in what manner, and on what terms. These were enough to turn one
away, but this one is of greater force than all; unpleasant indeed to speak
of, not however to disservice, but even serviceable. "For which things'
sake cometh," he saith, "the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."
He said not, "upon you," but, "upon the sons of disobedience."
"In the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in them." In order
to shame them, he saith, "when ye lived in them," and implying praise,
as now no more so living: at that time they might.
Ver. 8. "But now put ye also away all these."
He speaks always both universally and particularly; but this is from
Ver. 8, 9. "Anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out
of your mouth. Lie not one to another."
"Shameful speaking," he saith, "out of your mouth," clearly intimating
that it pollutes it.
Ver. 9, 10. "Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings,
and have put on the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after
the image of Him that created him."
It is worth enquiring here, what can be the reason why he calls the
corrupt life, "members," and "man," and "body," and again the virtuous
life, the same. And if "the man" means "sins," how is it that he saith,
"with his doings"? For once he said, "the old man," showing that this is
not man, but the other. The moral choice doth rather determine one than
the substance, and is rather "man" than the other. For his substance casteth
him not into hell, nor leadeth him into the kingdom, but men the themselves:
and we neither love nor hate any one so far as he is man, but so far as
he is such or such a man. If then the substance be the body, and in either
sort cannot be accountable, how doth he say that it is evil? But what is
that he saith, "with his doings"? He means the choice, with the acts. And
he calleth him "old," on purpose to show his deformity, and hideousness,
and imbecility; and "new," as if to say, Do not expect that it will be
with this one even as with the other, but the reverse: for ever as he farther
advances, he hasteneth not on to old age, but to a youthfulness greater
than the preceding. For when he hath received a fuller knowledge, he is
both counted worthy of greater things, and is in more perfect maturity,
in higher vigor; and this, not from youthfulness alone, but from that "likeness"
also, "after" which he is. Lo! the best life is styled a creation, after
the image of Christ: for this is the meaning of, "after the image of Him
that created him," for Christ too came not finally to old age, but was
so beautiful as it is not even possible to tell.
Ver. 11. "Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision,
Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ is all, and in all."
Lo! here is a third encomium of this "man." With him, there is no difference
admitted either of nation, or of rank, or of ancestry, seeing he hath nothing
of externals, nor needeth them; for all external things are such as these,
"circumcision, and uncircumcision, bondman, freeman, Greek," that is, proselyte,
"and Jew," from his ancestors. If thou have only this "man," thou wilt
obtain the same things with the others that have him.
"But Christ," he saith, "is all, and in all": Christ will be all things
to you, both rank, and descent, "and" Himself "in you all." Or he says
another thing, to wit, that ye all are become one Christ, being His body.