Portion of Homily XL
3. "Then they brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind
and dumb, and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake
O wickedness of the evil spirit! he had barred up both entrances, whereby
that person should have believed, as well sight as hearing; nevertheless,
both did Christ open.
"And all the people were amazed, saying, Is not this the Son of David?
But the Pharisees said, This fellow doths not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub,
the prince of the devils."
And yet what great thing had been said? Nevertheless, not even this
did they endure: to such a degree, as I have already remarked, are they
ever stung by the good works done to their neighbors, and nothing grieves
them so much as the salvation of men. And yet He had actually retired,
and had given room for their passion to subside; but the evil was again
rekindled, because a benefit was again conferred; and the evil spirit was
not so indignant as they. For he indeed departed from the body, and gave
place and fled away, uttering no sound; but these were endeavoring now
to slay, now to defame Him. That is, their first aim not succeeding, they
would fain hurt His good name.
Such a thing is envy, than which no worse evil can exist. For the adulterer
indeed enjoys some pleasure, such as it is, and in a short time accomplishes
his proper sin; but the envious man punishes himself, and takes vengeance
upon himself more than on the person whom he envies, and never ceases from
his sin, but is continually engaged in the commission thereof. For as a
sow in mire, and evil spirits in our hurt, so also doth he delight in his
neighbor's ills; and if anything painful take place, then is he refreshed,
and takes breath; accounting the calamities of others his own joys, and
the blessings of others his own ills; and he considers not what pleasure
may accrue to himself, but what pain to his neighbor. These men therefore
were it not meet to stone and beat to death, like mad dogs, like destroying
demons, like the very furies?
For as beetles feed on dung, so do these men on the calamities of others,
being a sort of common foes and enemies of our nature. And whereas the
rest of mankind pity even a brute when it is killed, dost thou, on seeing
a man receive benefits, become like a wild beast, tremble, and turn pale?
Why, what can be worse than this madness? Therefore, you see, whoremongers
and publicans were able to enter into the kingdom, but the envious, being
within it, went out: For "the children of the kingdom," it is said, "shall
be cast out." And the former, once freed from their present wickedness,
attained to things which they never looked for, while these latter lost
even the good things which they had; and very reasonably. For this turns
a man into a devil, this renders one a savage demon. Thus did the first
murder arise; thus was nature forgotten; thus the earth defiled; thus afterwards
did it open its mouth, to receive yet living, and utterly destroy, Dathan,
and Korah, and Abiram, and all that multitude.
4. But to declaim against envy, one may say, is easy; but we ought to
consider also how men are to be freed from the disease. How then are we
to be rid of this wickedness? If we bear in mind, that as he who hath committed
fornication cannot lawfully enter the church, so neither he that envies;
nay, and much less the latter than the former. For as things are, it is
accounted even an indifferent thing; wherefore also it is little thought
of; but if its real badness be made evident, we should easily refrain from
Weep then, and groan; lament, and entreat God. Learn to feel and to
repent for it, as for a grievous sin. And if thou be of this mind, thou
wilt quickly be rid of the disease.
And who knows not, one may say, that envy is an evil thing? No one indeed
is ignorant of it: yet they have not the same estimation of this passion
as of adultery and fornication. When, at least, did any one condemn himself
bitterly for having envied? when did he entreat God concerning this pest,
that He would be merciful to him? No man at any time: but if he shall fast
and give a little money to a poor man, though he be envious to the thousandth
degree, he counts himself to have done nothing horrid, held as he is in
subjection by the most accursed passion of all. Whence, for example, did
Cain become such as he was? Whence Esau? Whence the children of Laban?
Whence the sons of Jacob? Whence Korah Dathan, and Abiram, with their company?
Whence Miriam? Whence Aaron? Whence the devil himself?
Herewith consider this also; that thou injurest not him whom thou enviest,
but into thyself thou art thrusting the sword. For wherein did Cain injure
Abel? Did he not even against his own will send him the more quickly into
the kingdom? but himself he pierced through with innumerable evils. Wherein
did Esau harm Jacob? Did not Jacob grow wealthy, and enjoy unnumbered blessings;
while he himself both became an outcast from his father's house, and wandered
in a strange land, after that plot of his? And wherein did Jacob's sons
again make Joseph the worse, and this, though they proceeded even unto
blood? had not they to endure famine, and encounter peril to the utmost,
whereas he became king of all Egypt? For the more thou enviest, the more
dost thou become a procurer of greater blessing to the object of thine
envy. For there is a God who beholds these things; and when He sees him
injured, that doeth no injury, him He exalts the more, and so makes him
glorious, but thee He punishes.
For if them that exult over their enemies, He suffer not to go unpunished
("For rejoice not," it is said, "when thine enemies fall, lest at any time
the Lord see it, and it displease Him" ); much more such as envy those
who have done no wrong.
Let us then extirpate the many-headed wild beast. For in truth many
are the kinds of envy. Thus, if he that loves one that is a friend to him
hath no more than the publican, where shall he stand who hates him that
doeth him no wrong? and how shall he escape hell, becoming worse than the
heathens? Wherefore also I do exceedingly grieve, that we who are commanded
to copy the angels, or rather the Lord of the angels, emulate the devil.
For indeed there is much envy, even in the church; and more among us, than
among those under authority. Wherefore we must even discourse unto ourselves.
5. Tell me then, why dost thou envy thy neighbor? Because thou seest
him reaping honor, and words of good report? Then dost thou not bear in
mind how much evil honors bring on the unguarded? lifting them up to pride,
to vainglory, to arrogance, to contemptuousness; making them more careless?
and besides these evils, they wither also lightly away. For the most grievous
thing is this, that the evils arising therefrom abide immortal, but the
pleasure at the moment of its appearing, is flown away. For these things
then dost thou envy? tell me.
"But he hath great influence with the Ruler, and leads and drives all
things which way he will, and inflicts pain on them that offend him, and
benefits his flatterers, and hath much power." These are the sayings of
secular persons, and of men that are riveted to the earth. For the spiritual
man nothing shall be able to hurt.
For what serious harm shall he do to him? vote him out of his office?
And what of that? For if it be justly done, he is even profited; for nothing
so provokes God, as for one to hold the priest's office unworthily. But
if unjustly, the blame again falls on the other, not on him; for he who
hath suffered anything unjustly, and borne it nobly, obtains in this way
the greater confidence towards God.
Let us not then aim at this, how we may be in places of power, and honor,
and authority, but that we may live in virtue and self denial. For indeed
places of authority persuade men to do many things which are not approved
of God; and great vigor of soul is needed, in order to use authority aright.
For as he that is deprived thereof, practises self restraint, whether with
or against his will, so he that enjoys it is in some such condition, as
if any one living with a graceful and beautiful damsel were to receive
rules never to look upon her unchastely. For authority is that kind of
thing. Wherefore many, even against their will, hath it induced to show
insolence; it awakens wrath, and removes the bridle from the tongue, and
tears off the door of the lips; fanning the soul as with a wind, and sinking
the bark in the lowest depth of evils. Him then who is in so great danger
dost thou admire, and sayest thou he is to be envied? Nay, how great madness
is here! Consider, at any rate (besides what we have mentioned), how many
enemies and accusers, and how many flatterers this person hath besieging
him. Are these then, I pray thee, reasons for calling a man happy? Nay,
who can say so?
"But the people," you say, "hold high account of him." And what is this?
For the people surely is not God, to whom he is to render account: so that
in naming the people, thou art speaking of nothing else than of other breakers,
and rocks, and shoals, and sunken ridges. For to be in favor with the people,
the more it makes a man illustrious, the greater the dangers, the cares,
the despondencies it brings with it. For such an one has no power at all
to take breath or stand still, having so severe a master. And why say I,
"stand still and take breath"? Though such an one have never so many good
works, hardly doth he enter into the kingdom. For nothing is so wont to
overthrow men, as the honor which comes of the multitude, making them cowardly,
ignoble, flatterers, hypocrites.
Why, for instance, did the Pharisees say that Christ was possessed?
Was it not because they were greedy of the honor of the multitude?
And whence did the multitude pass the right judgment on Him? Was it
not because this disease had no hold on them? For nothing, nothing so much
tends to make men lawless and foolish, as gaping after the honor of the
multitude. Nothing makes them glorious and immoveable, like despising the
Wherefore also great vigor of soul is needed for him who is to hold
out against such an impulse, and so violent a blast. For as when things
are prosperous, he prefers himself to all, so when he undergoes the contrary,
he would fain bury himself alive: and this is to him both hell, and the
kingdom, when he hath come to be overwhelmed by this passion.
Is all this then, I pray thee, matter of envyings, and not rather of
lamentations and tears? Every one surely can see. But thou doest the same,
in envying one in that kind of credit, as if a person, seeing another bound
and scourged and torn by innumerable wild beasts, were to envy him his
wounds and stripes. For in fact, as many men as the multitude comprises,
so many bonds also, so many tyrants hath he: and, what is yet more grievous,
each of these hath a different mind: and they all judge whatever comes
into their heads concerning him that is a slave to them, without examining
into anything; but whatever is the decision of this or that person, this
they also confirm.
What manner of waves then, what tempest so grievous as this? Yea, such
a one is both puffed up in a moment by the pleasure, and is under water
again easily, being ever in fluctuation, in tranquillity never. Thus, before
the time of the assembly, and of the contests in speaking, he is possessed
with anxiety and fear; but after the assembly he is either dead with despondency,
or rejoices on the contrary without measure; a worse thing than sorrow.
For that pleasure is not a less evil than sorrow is plain from the effect
it has on the soul; how light it makes it, and unsteady, and fluttering.
And this one may see even from those of former times. When, for instance,
was David to be admired; when he rejoiced, or when he was in anguish? When,
the people of the Jews? groaning and calling upon God, or exulting in the
wilderness, and worshipping the calf? Wherefore Solomon too, who best of
all men knew what pleasure is, saith, "It is better to go to the house
of mourning, than to the house of laughter." Wherefore Christ also blesses
the one, saying, "Blessed are they that mourn," but the other sort He bewails,
saying, "Woe unto you that laugh, for ye shall weep." And very fitly. For
in delight the soul is more relaxed and effeminate, but in mourning it
is braced up, and grows sober, and is delivered from the whole swarm of
passions, and becomes higher and stronger.
Knowing then all these things, let us shun the glory that comes from
the multitude, and the pleasure that springs therefrom, that we may win
the real and everlasting glory; unto which may we all attain, by the grace
and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might,
forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew Chapter 12, Verse 25 And Matthew Chapter 12, Verse 26
"And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom
divided against itself shall be brought to desolation; and every city or
house divided against itself, shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan,
he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?"
Even before now they had accused Him of this, that "by Beelzebub He
casteth out the devils." But whereas then He did not rebuke them, allowing
them both to know His power by His more numerous miracles, and by His teaching
to learn His majesty: now, since they continued saying the same, He proceeds
also to rebuke them, showing His Godhead by this first, that He made their
secrets public; and secondly, by the very act of casting out the devils
And indeed the accusation too was very shameless. Because, as I have
said, envy seeks not what to say, but only that it may say somewhat. Yet
for all that, not even so did Christ despise them, but defends Himself
with the forbearance proper to Him, teaching us to be meek to our enemies;
and though they say such things, as we are neither conscious of, nor have
they any the least probability, not to be disturbed, nor troubled, but
with all long suffering to render them an account. This then He did most
especially on that very occasion, affording the strongest proof, that the
things were false that were said by them. For neither was it a demoniac's
part to exhibit so much meekness; it was not a demoniac's part to know
For, in truth, both because of the exceeding impudence of such a suspicion,
and because of the fear of the multitude, they durst not publicly make
these charges, but were turning them in their mind. But He, to show them
that He knew all that likewise, doth not set down the accusation, nor doth
He expose their wickedness; but the refutation He adds, leaving it to the
conscience of them that bad said it to convict them. For on one thing only
was He bent, to do good to them that were sinning, not to expose them.
Yet surely, if He had been minded to extend his speech in length, and
to make them ridiculous, and withal to have exacted of them also the most
extreme penalty, there was nothing to hinder Him. Nevertheless He put aside
all these things, and looked to one object only, not to render them more
contentious, but more candid, and so to dispose them better toward amendment.
How then doth He plead with them? Not by allegation out of the Scriptures
(for they would not so much as attend, but were sure rather to distort
their meaning), but by the events of ordinary life. For "every kingdom,"
saith He, "divided against itself shall not stand; and a city and a house,
if it be divided, is soon dissolved."
For the wars from without are not so ruinous as the civil ones. Yea,
and this is the case in bodies too; it is the case even in all things;
but for this time He takes His illustration from those that are more publicly
And yet, what is there more powerful on earth than a kingdom? Nothing,
but nevertheless it perishes if in dissension. And if in that case one
throw the blame on the great burden of the affairs thereof, as breaking
down by its own weight; what wouldest thou say of a city? and what of a
house? Thus, Whether it be a small thing, or a great, if at dissension
with itself, it perishes. If then I, having a devil, do by him cast out
the devils, there is dissension and fighting among devils, and they take
their stand one against another. But if they stand one against another,
their strength is wasted and destroyed. "For if Satan cast out Satan" (and
He said not "the devils," implying their great unanimity one with another),
"he is then divided against himself;" so He speaks. But if he be divided,
he is become weaker, and is ruined; and if he be ruined, how can he cast
Seest thou how great the absurdity of the accusation, how great the
folly, the inconsistency? Since it is not for the same persons to say first,
that He stands, and casts out devils, and then to say, that He stands by
that, which it was likely would be the cause of His undoing.
2. This then being the first refutation, the next after it is that which
relates to the disciples. For not always in one way only, but also in a
second and third, He solves their objections, being minded most abundantly
to silence their shamelessness. Which sort of thing He did also with respect
to the Sabbath, bringing forward David, the priests, the testimony that
saith, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice," the cause of the Sabbath,
for which it was ordained; "for the Sabbath," saith He," was for man."
This then He doth in the present case also: where after the first He proceeds
to a second refutation, plainer than the former.
"For if I," saith He, "by Belezebub cast out devils, by whom
do your sons cast them out?"
See here too His gentleness. For He said not, "my disciples," nor, "the
apostles," but "your sons;" to the end that if indeed they were minded
to return to the same nobleness with them, they might derive hence a powerful
spring that way; but if they were uncandid, and continued in the same course,
they might not thenceforth be able to allege any plea, though ever so shameless.
But what He saith is like this, "By whom do the apostles cast them out?"
For in fact they were doing so already, because they had received authority
from Him, and these men brought no charge against them; their quarrel not
being with the acts, but with the person only. As then it was His will
to show that their. sayings arose only from their envy against Him, He
brings forward the apostles; thus: If I so cast them out, much more those,
who have received their authority from me. Nevertheless, no such thing
have ye said to them. How then bring ye these charges against me, the author
of their doings, while acquitting them of the accusations? This, however,
will not free you from your punishment, rather it will condemn you the
more. Therefore also He added, "They shall be your judges." For when persons
from among you, and having been practised in these things, both believe
me and obey, it is most clear that they will also condemn those who are
against me both in deed and word.
"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom
of God is come unto you."
What means "the Kingdom"? "My coming." See how again He conciliates
and soothes them, and draws them to the knowledge of Himself, and signifies
that they are warring with their own good, and contentious against their
own salvation. "For whereas ye ought to rejoice," saith He, "and leap for
joy, that One is come bestowing those great and unutterable blessings,
hymned of old by the prophets, and that the time of your prosperity is
at hand; ye do the contrary; so far from receiving the blessings, you do
even speak ill of them, and frame accusations that have no real being."
Now Matthew indeed saith, "If I by the Spirit of God cast out"; but
Luke, "If I by the finger of God cast out the devils:" implying that to
cast out devils is a work of the greatest power, and not of any ordinary
grace. And He means indeed that from these things they should infer and
say, If this be so, then the Son of God is come. This, however, He saith
not, but in a reserved way, and so as not to be galling to them, He darkly
intimates it by saying, "Then the kingdom of God is Come unto you."
Seest thou exceeding wisdom? By the very things which they were blaming,
He showed His presence shining forth.
Then, to conciliate them, He said not simply, "The Kingdom is come,"
but, "unto you," as though He had said, To you the good things are come;
wherefore then feel displeased at your proper blessings? why war against
your own salvation? This is that time, which the prophets long ago foretold:
this, the sign of that advent which was celebrated by them, even these
things being wrought by divine power. For the fact indeed, that they are
wrought, yourselves know; but that they are wrought by divine power, the
deeds themselves cry out. Yea, and it is impossible that Satan should be
stronger now; rather he must of absolute necessity be weak. But it cannot
be, that he who is weak should, as though he were strong, cast out the
Now thus speaking He signified the power of charity, and the weakness
of separation and contentiousness. Wherefore He was Himself also continually
charging His disciples, on every occasion, concerning charity, and teaching
them that the devil, to subvert it, leaves nothing undone.
3. Having then uttered His second refutation, He adds also a third,
"How can one enter into the strong man's house, and spoil his goods,
except he first bind the strong man, and then spoil his goods?"
For that Satan cannot possibly cast out Satan is evident from what hath
been said; but that neither in any other way is it possible to cast him
out, except one first get the better of him, this too is acknowledged by
What then is established hereby? The former statement, with more abundant
evidence. "Why, I am so far," saith He, "from using the devil as an ally,
that I make war upon him, and bind him; and an infallible proof thereof
is the plundering of his goods." See how the contrary is proved, of what
they were attempting to establish. For whereas they wished to show, that
not by His own power doth He cast out devils, He shows that not only the
devils, but even their very chief leader is held by Him bound with all
authority; and that over him, before them, did He prevail by His own power.
And this is evident from the things that are done. For if he be the prince,
and they subjects, how, except he were worsted, and made to bow down, could
they have been spoiled?
And here His saying seems to me to be a prophecy likewise. For not only,
I suppose, are the evil spirits the goods of the devil, but also the men
that are doing his works. Therefore to declare that He doth not only cast
out devils, but also will drive away all error from the world, and will
put down his sorceries, and make all his arts useless, He said these things.
And He said not, He will take away, but "He will spoil," to express
what is done with authority. But He calls him "strong," not because he
is so by nature, God forbid, but declaring his former tyranny, which arose
from our remissness.
4. "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not
with me scattereth abroad."
Behold also a fourth refutation. For what is my desire? saith He. To
bring men to God, to teach virtue, to proclaim the kingdom. What, that
of the devil, and the evil spirits? The contrary to these. How then should
he that gathers not with me, nor is at all with me, be likely to co-operate
with me? And why do I say co-operate? Nay, on the contrary, his desire
is rather to scatter abroad my goods. He then who is so far from cooperating
that he even scatters abroad, how should he have exhited such unanimity
with me, as with me to cast out the devils?
Now it is a natural surmise that He said this not of the devil only,
but Himself also of Himself, as being for His part against the devil, and
scattering abroad his goods. And how, one may say, is he that is not with
me against me? By this very fact, of his not gathering. But if this be
true, much more he that is against him. For if he that doth not co-operate
is an enemy, much more he that wages war.
But all these things He saith, to indicate His enmity against the devil,
how great and unspeakable it is. For tell me, if thou must go to war with
any one, he that is not willing to fight on thy side, by this very fact
is he not against thee? And if elsewhere He saith, "He that is not against
you is for you," it is not contrary to this. For here He signified one
actually against them, but there He points to one who in part is on their
side: "For they cast out devils," it is said "in Thy name."
last portion of Homily XLIII
4. When therefore He had condemned them, having proved most amply that
they were sinning inexcusably, and that their disobedience arose from their
own perverseness not from their Teacher's inability, and when He had demonstrated
this as well by many other arguments, as also by the Ninevites, and by
the queen: then He speaks also of the punishment that should overtake them,
darkly indeed, yet He doth speak of it, interweaving an intense fear in
"For when," saith He, "the unclean spirit is gone out of the man, he
walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I
will return to my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he
findeth it empty, and swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with
himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in
and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
Even so shall it be also unto this generation."
By this He signifies, that not only in the world to come, but here too
they should suffer most grievously. For since He had said, "The men of
Nineveh shall rise up in judgment, and shall condemn this generation;"
lest, on account of the postponement of the time, they should despise and
grow more careless, by this He brings His terror close upon them. Wherewith
the prophet Hosea likewise threatening them said, that they should be "even
as the prophet that is beside himself, the man that is carried away by
a spirit;", that is to say, as the madmen, and distracted by evil spirits,
even the false prophets. For here, by "a prophet that is beside himself,"
he means the false prophet, such as are the augurs. Much to the same effect
Christ also tells them, that they shall suffer the utmost evils.
Seest thou how from everything He urges them to attend to His sayings;
from things present, from things to come; by those who had approved themselves
(the Ninevites, I mean, and that queen), and by the offending Tyrians and
Sodomites? This did the prophets likewise, bringing forward the sons of
the Rechabites, and the bride that forgetteth not her proper ornament and
her girdle, and "the ox that knoweth his owner, and the ass that remembereth
his crib." Even so here too, when He had by a comparison set forth their
perverseness, He speaks afterwards of their punishment also.
What then can the saying mean? As the possessed, saith He, when delivered
from that infirmity, should they be at all remiss, draw upon themselves
their delusion more grievous than ever: even so is it with you. For before
also ye were possessed by a devil, when ye were worshipping idols, and
were slaying your sons to the devils, exhibiting great madness; nevertheless
I forsook you not, but cast out that devil by the prophets; and again in
my own person I am come, willing to cleanse you more entirely. Since then
you will not attend, but have wrecked yourselves in greater wickedness
(for to kill prophets was a crime not nearly so great and grievous as to
slay Him); therefore your sufferings will be more grievous than the former,
those at Babylon, I mean, and in Egypt, and under the first Antiochus.
Because what things befell them in the time of Vespasian and Titus, were
very far more grievous than those. Wherefore also He said, "There shall
be great tribulation, such as never was, neither shall be." But not this
only doth the illustration declare, but that they should be also utterly
destitute of all virtue, and more assailable by the power of the devils,
than at that time. For then even although they sinned, yet were there also
among them such as acted uprightly, and God's providence was present with
them, and the grace of the Spirit, tending, correcting, fulfilling all
its part; but now of this guardianship too they shall be utterly deprived;
so He tells them; so that there is now both a greater scarcity of virtue,
and a more intense affliction, and a more tyrannical operation of the devils.
Ye know accordingly even in our generation, when he who surpassed all
in impiety, I mean Julian, was transported with his fury, how they ranged
themselves with the heathens, how they courted their party. So that, even
if they seem to be in some small degree chastened now, the fear of the
emperors makes them quiet; since, if it were not for that, far worse than
the former had been their daring. For in all their other evil works they
surpass their predecessors; sorceries, magic arts, impurities, they exhibit
in great excess. And amongst the rest, moreover, strong as is the curb
which holds them down, they have often made seditions, and risen up against
kings, which has resulted in their being pierced through with the worst
Where now are they that seek after signs? Let them hear that a considerate
mind is needed, and if this be wanting, signs are of no profit. See, for
instance, how the Ninevites without signs believed, while these, after
so many miracles, grew worse, and made themselves an habitation of innumerable
devils, and brought on themselves ten thousand calamities; and very naturally.
For when a man, being once delivered from his ills, fails to be corrected,
he will suffer far worse than before. Yea, therefore He said, "he finds
no rest," to indicate, that positively and of necessity such an one will
be overtaken by the ambush of the devils. Since surely by these two things
he ought to have been sobered, by his former sufferings, and by his deliverance;
or rather a third thing also is added, the threat of having still worse
to endure. But yet by none of these were they made better.
5. All this might be seasonably said, not of them only, but of us also,
when after having been enlightened, and delivered from our former ills,
we again cleave unto the same wickedness, for more grievous also thenceforth
will be the punishment of our subsequent sins. Therefore to the sick of
the palsy also Christ said, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more,
lest a worse thing come unto thee;" and this to a man who was thirty-eight
years in his infirmity. And what, one might ask, was he to suffer worse
than this? Something far worse, and more intolerable. For far be it from
us, that we should endure as much as we are capable of enduring. For God
is at no loss for inflictions. For according to the greatness of His mercy,
so also is His wrath.
With this He charges Jerusalem also by Ezekiel. "I saw thee," saith
He, "polluted in blood; and I washed thee, and anointed thee; and thou
hadst renown for thy beauty; and thou pouredst out thy fornications," saith
He, "on those who dwell near thee," wherefore also the more grievous are
His threatenings to thee when thou sinnest.
But from hence infer not thy punishment only, but also the boundless
longsuffering of God. How often at least have we put our hands to the same
evil deeds, and yet He suffers long! But let us not be sanguine, but fear;
since Pharaoh too, had he been taught by the first plague, would not have
experienced the later ones; he would not afterwards have been drowned,
his host and all together.
And this I say, because I know many, who like Pharaoh are even now saying,
"I know not God," and making those that are in their power cleave to the
clay and to the bricks. How many, though God bids them assauge their "threatening,"
cannot bear so much as to relax the toil!
"But we have no Red Sea now, to pass through afterwards." But we have
a sea of fire, a sea not like that, either in kind or in size, but far
greater and fiercer, having its waves of fire, of some strange and horrible
fire. A great abyss is there, of most intolerable flame, Since everywhere
fire may be seen roving quickly round, like some savage wild beast. And
if here this sensible and material fire leaped like a wild beast out of
the furnace, and sprang upon those who were sitting without, what will
not that other fire do to such as have fallen into it?
Concerning that day, hear the prophets, saying, "The day of the Lord
is incurable, full of anger and wrath." For there will be none to stand
by, none to rescue, nowhere the face of Christ, so mild and calm. But as
those who work in the mines are delivered over to certain cruel men, and
see none of their friends, but those only that are set over them; so will
it be then also: or rather not so, but even far more grievous. For here
it is possible to go unto the king, and entreat, and free the condemned
person: but there, no longer; for He permits it not, but they continue
in the scorching torment, and in so great anguish, as it is not possible
for words to tell. For if, when any are in flames here, no speech can describe
their sharp pangs, much less theirs, who suffer it in that place: since
here indeed all is over in a brief point of time, but in that place there
is burning indeed, but what is burnt is not consumed.
What then shall we do there? For to my self also do I say these things.
6. "But if thou," saith one, "who art our teacher, speakest so of thyself,
I care no more; for what wonder, should I be punished?" Nay, I entreat,
let no man seek this consolation; for this is no refreshment at all. For
tell me; was not the devil an incorporeal power? Was he not superior to
men? Yet he fell away. Is there any one who will derive consolation from
being punished along with him? By no means. What of all who were in Egypt?
did they not see those also punished who were in high places, and every.
house in mourning? Were they then hereby refreshed, and comforted? No surely;
and it is manifest by what they did afterwards, as men tortured by some
kind of fire, rising up together against the king, and compelling him to
cast out the people of the Hebrews.
Yea, and very unmeaning is this saying, to suppose that it gives comfort
to be punished with all men, to say, "As all, so I too." For why should
I speak of hell? Think, I pray you, of those that are seized with gout,
how, when they are racked by sharp pain, though you show them ten thousand
suffering worse, they do not so much as take it into their mind. For the
intensity of their anguish allows not their reason any leisure for thinking
of others, and so finding consolation. Let us not then feed ourselves with
these cold hopes. For to receive consolation from the ills of our neighbors,
takes place in ordinary sufferings; but when the torment is excessive,
and all our inward parts full of tempest, and the soul is now come to be
unable so much as to know itself, whence shall it derive consolation? So
that all these sayings are an absurdity, and fables of foolish children.
For this, of which thou speakest, takes place in dejection, and in moderate
dejection, when we are told, "the same thing hath befallen such an one;"
but sometimes not even in dejection: now if in that case it hath no strength,
much less in the anguish and burden unspeakable, which "the gnashing of
And I know that I am galling you, and giving you pain by these words;
but what can I do? For I would fain not speak thus, but be conscious of
virtue both in myself, and in all of you; but since we are in sins, the
more part of us, who will grant me ability to pain you indeed, and to penetrate
the understanding of them that hear me? Then might I so be i at rest. But
now I fear lest any despise my sayings, and their punishments become the
greater for their indifferent way of hearing. Since, when a master utters
a threat, should one of the fellow-servants hear and make light of his
menace, not without punishment would he hasten by him, provoked as he is,
but rather it would be a ground for increasing his chastisement. Wherefore
I entreat you, let us pierce our own hearts, when we hear His sayings regarding
hell. For nothing is more delightful than this discourse, by how much nothing
is more bitter than the reality. But how delightful to be told of hell?
one may ask. Because it were so far from delight to fall into hell, which
result, our words that appear so galling, keep off. And before this they
furnish another pleasure: in that they brace up our souls, and make us
more reverent, and elevate the mind, and give wings to the thoughts, and
cast out the desires that so mischievously beset us; and the thing becomes
7. Wherefore, to proceed, together with the punishment let me speak
also of the shame. For as the Jews shall then be condemned by the Ninevites,
so we too by many that seem beneath us now.
Let us imagine then how great the mockery, how great the condemnation;
let us imagine, and cast some foundation at length, some door of repentance.
To myself I say these things, to myself first I give this advice, and
let no one be angry, as though he were condemned. Let us enter upon the
narrow way. How long shall it be luxury? how long sloth? Have we not had
enough of indolence, mirth, procrastination? Will it not be the same over
again, feasting, and surfeiting, and expense, and wealth, and acquisitions,
and buildings? And what is the end? Death. What is the end? Ashes, and
dust, and coffins, and worms.
Let us show forth then a new kind of life. Let us make earth, heaven;
let us hereby show the Greeks, of how great blessings they are deprived.
For when they behold in us good conversation, they will look upon the very
face of the kingdom of Heaven. Yea, when they see us gentle, pure from
wrath, from evil desire, from envy, from covetousness, rightly fulfilling
all our other duties, they will say, "If the Christians are become angels
here, what will they be after their departure hence? if where they are
strangers they shine so bright, how great will they become when they shall
have won their native land!" Thus they too will be reformed, and the word
of godliness "will have free course, not less than in the apostles' times.
For if they, being twelve, converted entire cities and countries; were
we all to become teachers by our careful conduct, imagine how high our
cause will be exalted. For not even a dead man raised so powerfully attracts
the Greek, as a person practising self-denial. At that indeed he will be
amazed, but by this he will be profited. That is done, and is past away;
but this abides, and is constant culture to his soul.
Let us take heed therefore to ourselves, that we may gain them also.
I say nothing burdensome. I say not, do not marry. I say not, forsake cities,
and withdraw thyself from public affairs; but being engaged in them, show
virtue. Yea, and such as are busy in the midst of cities, I would fain
have more approved than such as have occupied the mountains. Wherefore?
Because great is the profit thence arising. "For no man lighteth a candle,
and setteth it under the bushel." Therefore I would that all the candles
were set upon the candlestick, that the light might wax great.
Let us kindle then His fire; let us cause them that are sitting in darkness
to be delivered from their error. And tell me not, "I have a wife, and
children belonging to me, and am master of a household, and cannot duly
practise all this." For though thou hadst none of these, yet if thou be
careless, all is lost; though thou art encompassed with all these, yet
if thou be earnest, thou shall attain unto virtue. For there is but one
thing that is wanted, the preparation of a generous mind; and neither age,
nor poverty, nor wealth, nor reverse of fortune, nor anything else, will
be able to impede thee. Since in fact both old and young, and men having
wives, and bringing up children, and working at crafts, and serving as
soldiers, have duly performed all that is enjoined. For so Daniel was young,
and Joseph a slave, and Aquila wrought at a craft, and the woman who sold
purple was over a workshop, and another was the keeper of a prison, and
another a centurion, as Cornelius; and another in ill health, as Timothy;
and another a runaway, as Onesimus; but nothing proved an hindrance to
any of these, but all were approved, both men and women, both young and
old, both slaves and free, both soldiers and people.
Let us not then make vain pretexts, but let us provide a thoroughly
good mind, and whatsoever we may be, we shall surely attain to virtue,
and arrive at the good things to come; by the grace and love towards man
of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be unto the Father, together with the
Holy Ghost. glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.