I. Let us reason a little about the Festival, that we may keep
it spiritually. For different persons have different ways of keeping Festival;
but to the worshipper of the Word a discourse seems best; and of discourses,
that which is best adapted to the occasion. And of all beautiful things
none gives so much joy to the lover of the beautiful, as that the lover
of festivals should keep them spiritually. Let us look into the matter
thus. The Jew keeps festival as well as we, but only in the letter. For
while following after the bodily Law, he has not attained to the spiritual
Law. The Greek too keeps festival, but only in the body, and in honour
of his own gods and demons, some of whom are creators of passion by their
own admission, and others were honoured out of passion. Therefore even
their manner of keeping festival is passionate, as though their very sin
were an honour to God, in Whom their passion takes refuge as a thing to
be proud of.1 We too keep festival, but we keep it as is pleasing to the
Spirit. And it is pleasing to Him that we should keep it by discharging
some duty, either of action or speech. This then is our manner of keeping
festival, to treasure up in our soul some of those things which are permanent
and will cleave 'to it, not of those which will forsake us and be destroyed,
and which only tickle our senses for a little while; whereas they are for
the most part, m my judgment at least, harmful and ruinous. For sufficient
unto the body is the evil thereof. What need has that fire of further fuel,
or that beast of more plentiful food, to make it more uncontrollable, and
too violent for reason?
II. Wherefore we must keep the feast spiritually. And this is the beginning
of our discourse; for we must speak, even if our speech do seem a little
too discursive; and we must be diligent for the sake of those who love
learning, that we may as it were mix up some seasoning with our solemn
festival. The children of the Hebrews do honour to the number Seven, according
to the legislation of Moses (as did the Pythagoreans in later days to the
number Four, by which indeed they were in the habit of swearing2 as the
Simonians and Marcionites3 do by the number Eight and the number Thirty,
inasmuch as they have given names to and reverence a system of Aeons of
these numbers); I cannot say by what rules of analogy, or in consequence
of what power of this number; anyhow they do honour to it. One thing indeed
is evident, that God, having in six days created matter, and given it form,
and having arranged it in all kinds of shapes and mixtures, and having
made this present visible world, on the seventh day rested from all His
works, as is shewn by the very name of the Sabbath, which in Hebrew means
Rest. If there be, however, any more lofty reason than this, let others
discuss it. But this honour which they pay to it is not confined to days
alone, but also extends to years. That belonging to days the Sabbath proves,
because it is continually observed among them; and in accordance with this
the removal of leaven is for that number of days.4 And that belonging to
years is shewn by the seventh year, the year of Release;5 and it consists
not only of Hebdomads, but of Hebdomads of Hebdomads, alike in days and
years. The Hebdomads of days give birth to Pentecost, a day called holy
among them; and those of years to what they call the Jubilee, which also
has a release of land, and a manumission of slaves, and a release of possessions
bought. For this nation consecrates to God, not only the firstfruits of
offspring, or of firstborn, but also those of days and years. Thus the
veneration paid to the number Seven gave rise also to the veneration of
Pentecost. For seven being multiplied by seven generates fifty all but
one day, which we borrow from the world to come, at once the Eighth and
the first, or rather one and indestructible. For the present sabbatism
of our souls can find its cessation there, that a portion may be given
to seven and also to eight6 (so some of our predecessors have interpreted
this passage of Solomon).
III. As to the honour paid to Seven there are many testimonies, but
we will be content with a few out of the many. For instance, seven precious
spirits are named; for I think Isaiah7 loves to call the activities of
the Spirit spirits; and the Oracles of the Lord are purified seven times
according to David,8 and the just is delivered from six troubles and in
the seventh is not smitten.9 But the sinner is pardoned not seven times,
but seventy times seven.10 And we may see it by the contrary also (for
the punishment of wickedness is to be praised), Cain being avenged seven
times, that is, punishment being exacted from him for his fratricide, and
Lamech seventy times seven,11 because he was a murderer after the law and
the condemnation.12 And wicked neighbours receive sevenfold into their
bosom;13 and the House of Wisdom rests on seven pillars14 and the Stone
of Zerubbabel is adorned with seven eyes;15 and God is praised seven times
a day.16 And again the barren beareth seven,17 the perfect number, she
who is contrasted with her who is imperfect in her children."18
IV. And if we must also look at ancient history, I perceive that Enoch,19
the seventh among our ancestors, was honoured by translation. I perceive
also that the twenty-first, Abraham,20 was given the glory of the Patriarchate,
by the addition of a greater mystery. For the Hebdomad thrice repeated
brings out this number. And one who is very bold might venture even to
come to the New Adam, my God and Lord Jesus Christ, Who is counted the
Seventy-seventh from the old Adam who fell under sin, in the backward genealogy
according to Luke.21 And I think of the seven trumpets of Jesus, the son
of Nave, and the same number of circuits and days and priests, by which
the walls of Jericho were shaken down.22 And so too the seven compassings
of the City; in the same way as there is a mystery in the threefold breathings
of Elias, the Prophet, by which he breathed life into the son of the Sareptan
widow,23 and the same number of his floodings of the wood,24 when he consumed
the sacrifice with fire sent from God, and condemned the prophets of shame
who could not do the like at his challenge. And the sevenfold looking for
the cloud imposed upon the young servant; and Elissaaeus stretching himself
that number of times upon the child of the Shunammite, by which stretching
the breath of life was restored.25 To the same doctrine belongs, I think
(if I may omit the seven-stemmed and seven-lamped candlestick of the Temple26
) that the ceremony of the Priests' consecration lasted seven days;27 and
seven that of the purifying of a leper,28 and that of the Dedication of
the Temple29 the same number, and that in the seventieth year the people
returned from the Captivity;30 that whatever is in Units may appear also
in Decads, and the mystery of the Hebdomad be reverenced in a more perfect
number. But why do I speak of the distant past? Jesus Himself who is pure
perfection, could in the desert and with five loaves feed five thousand,
and again with seven loaves four thousand. And the leavings after they
were satisfied were in the first case twelve baskets full, and in the other
seven baskets;31 neither, I imagine, without a reason or unworthy of the
Spirit. And if you read for yourself you may take note of many numbers
which contain a meaning deeper than appears on the surface. But to come
to an instance which is most useful to us on the present occasion, not
that for these reasons or others very similar or yet more divine, the Hebrews
honour the Day of Pentecost, m@d we also honour it; just as there are other
rites of the Hebrews which we observe ... they were typically observed
by them, and by us they are sacramentally reinstated. And now having said
so much by way of preface about the Day, let us proceed to what we have
to say further.
V. We are keeping the feast of Pentecost and of the Coming of the Spirit,
and the appointed time of the Promise, and the fulfilment of our hope.
And how great, how august, is the Mystery. The dispensations of the Body
of Christ are ended; or rather, what belongs to His Bodily Advent (for
I hesitate to say the Dispensation of His Body, as long as no discourse
persuades me that it is better to have put off the body32 ), and that of
the Spirit is beginning. And what were the things pertaining to the Christ?
The Virgin, the Birth, the Manger, the Swaddling, the Angels glorifying
Him, the Shepherds running to Him, the course of the Star, the Magi worshipping
Him and bringing Gifts, Herod's murder of the children, the Flight of Jesus
into Egypt, the Return from Egypt, the Circumcision, the Baptism, the Witness
from Heaven, the Temptation, the Stoning for our sake (because He had to
be given as an Example to us of enduring affliction for the Word), the
Betrayal, the Nailing, the Burial, the Resurrection, the Ascension; and
of these even now He suffers many dishonours at the hands of the enemies
of Christ; and He bears them, for He is longsuffering. But from those who
love Him He receives all that is honourable. And He defers, as in the former
case His wrath, so in ours His kindness; in their case perhaps to give
them the grace of repentance, and in ours to test our love; whether we
do not faint in our tribulations33 and conflicts for the true Religion,
as was from of old the order of His Divine Economy, and of his unsearchable
judgments, with which He orders wisely all that concerns us. Such are the
mysteries of Christ. And what follows we shall see to be more glorious;
and may we too be seen. As to the things of the Spirit, may the Spirit
be with me, and grant me speech as much as I desire; or if not that, yet
as is in due proportion to the season. Anyhow He will be with me as my
Lord; not in servile guise, nor awaiting a command, a.s some think.34 For
He bloweth where He wills and on whom He wills, and to what extent He wills.35
Thus we are inspired both to think and to speak of the Spirit.
VI. They who reduce the Holy Spirit to the rank of a creature are blasphemers
and wicked servants, and worst of the wicked. For it is the part of wicked
servants to despise Lordship, and to rebel against dominion, and to make
That which is free their fellow-servant. But they who deem Him God are
inspired by God36 and are illustrious in their mind; and they who go further
and call Him so, if to well disposed hearers are exalted; if to the low,
are not reserved enough, for they commit pearls to clay, and the noise
of thunder to weak ears, and the sun to feeble eyes, and solid food to
those who are still using milk;37 whereas they ought to lead them little
by little up to what lies beyond them, and to bring them up to the higher
truth; adding light to light, and supplying truth upon truth. Therefore
we will leave the more mature discourse, for which the time has not yet
come, and will speak with them as follows.
VII. If, my friends, you will not acknowledge the Holy Spirit to be
uncreated, nor yet eternal; clearly such a state of mind is due to the
contrary spirit-forgive me, if in my zeal I speak somewhat over boldly.
If, however, you are sound enough to escape this evident impiety, and to
place outside of slavery Him Who gives freedom to yourselves, then see
for yourselves with the help of the Holy Ghost and of us what follows.
For I am persuaded that you are to some extent partakers of Him, so that
I will go into the question with you as kindred souls. Either shew me some
mean between lordship and servitude, that I may there place the rank of
the Spirit; or, if you shrink from imputing servitude to Him, there is
no doubt of the rank in which you must place the object of your search.
But you are dissatisfied with the syllables, and you stumble at the word,
and it is to you a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence;38 for so is
Christ to some minds. It is only human after all. Let us meet one another
in a spiritual manner; let us be full rather of brotherly than of self
love. Grant us the Power of the Godhead, and we will give up to you the
use of the Name. Confess the Nature in other words for which you have greater
reverence, and we will heal you as infirm people, filching from you some
matters in which you delight. For it is shameful, yes, shameful and utterly
illogical, when you are sound in soul, to draw petty distinctions about
the sound, and to hide the Treasure, as if you envied it to others, or
were afraid lest you should sanctify your own tongue too. But it is even
more shameful for us to be in the state of which we accuse you, and, while
condemning your petty distinctions of words to make petty distinctions
VIII. Confess, my friends, the Trinity to be of One Godhead; or if you
will, of One Nature; and we will pray the Spirit to give you this word
God. He will give it to you, I well know, inasmuch as He has already granted
you the first portion and the second;39 and especially if that about which
we are contending is some spiritual cowardice, and not the devil's objection.
Yet more clearly and concisely, let me say, do not you call us to account
for our loftier word (for envy has nothing to do with this ascent), and
we will not find fault with what you have been able to attain, until by
another road you are brought up to the same resting place. For we are not
seeking victory, but to gain brethren, by whose separation from us we are
torn. This we concede to you in whom we do find something of vital truth,
who are sound as to the Son. We admire your life, but we do not altogether
approve your doctrine. Ye who have the things of the Spirit, receive Himself
in addition, that ye may not only strive, but strive lawfully,40 which
is the condition of your crown. May this reward of your conversation be
granted you, that you may confess the Spirit perfectly and proclaim with
us, aye and before us, all that is His due. Yes, and I will venture even
more on your behalf; I will even utter the Apostle's wish. So much do I
cling to you, and so much do I revere your array, and the colour of your
continence, and those sacred assemblies, and the august Virginity, and
purification, and the Psalmody that lasts all night41 and your love of
the poor, and of the brethren, and of strangers, that I could consent to
be Anathema from Christ, and even to suffer something as one condemned,
if only you might stand beside us, and we might glorify the Trinity together.
For of the others why should I speak, seeing they are clearly dead (and
it is the part of Christ alone to raise them, Who quickeneth the dead by
His own Power), and are unhappily separated in place as they are bound
together by their doctrine; and who quarrel among themselves as much as
a pair of squinting eyes in looking at the same object, and differ with
one another, not in sight but in position-if indeed we may charge them
only with squinting, and not with utter blindness. And now that I have
to some extent laid down your position, come, let us return again to the
subject of the Spirit, and I think you will follow me now.
IX. The Holy Ghost, then, always existed, and exists, and always will
exist. He neither had a beginning, nor will He have an end; but He was
everlastingly ranged with and numbered with the Father and the Son. For
it was not ever fitting that either the Son should be wanting to the Father,
or the Spirit to the Son. For then Deity would be shorn of Its Glory in
its greatest respect, for It would seem to have arrived at the consummation
of perfection as if by an afterthought. Therefore He was ever being partaken,
but not partaking; perfecting, not being perfected; sanctifying, not being
sanctified; deifying, not being deified; Himself ever the same with Himself,
and with Those with Whom He is ranged; invisible, eternal, incomprehensible,
unchangeable, without quality, without quantity, without form, impalpable,
self-moving, eternally moving, with free-will, self-powerful, All-powerful
(even though all that is of the Spirit is referable to the First Cause,
just as is all that is of the Only-begotten); Life and Lifegiver; Light
and Lightgiver; absolute Good, and Spring of Goodness; the Right, the Princely
Spirit; the Lord, the Sender, the Separator; Builder of His own Temple;
leading, working as He wills; distributing His own Gifts; the Spirit of
Adoption, of Truth, of Wisdom, of Understanding, of Knowledge, of Godliness,
of Counsel, of Fear (which are ascribed to Him42 ) by Whom the Father is
known and the Son is glorified; and by Whom alone He is known; one class,
one service, worship, power, perfection, sanctification. Why make a long
discourse of it? All that the Father hath the Son hath also, except the
being Unbegotten; and all that the Son hath the Spirit hath also, except
the Generation. And these two matters do not divide the Substance, as I
understand it, but rather are divisions within the Substance.43
X. Are you labouring to bring forth objections? Well, so am I to get
on with my discourse. Honour the Day of the Spirit; restrain your tongue
if you can a little. It is the time to speak of other tongues-reverence
them or fear them, when you see that they are of fire. To-day let us teach
dogmatically; to-morrow we may discuss. To-day let us keep the feast; to-morrow
will be time enough to behave ourselves unseemly-the first mystically,
the second theatrically; the one in the Churches, the other in the marketplace;
the one among the sober, the other among the drunken; the one as befits
those who vehemently desire, the other, as among those who make a joke
of the Spirit. Having then put an end to the element that is foreign to
us, let us now thoroughly furnish our own friends.
XI. He wrought first in the heavenly and angelic powers, and such as
are first after God and around God. For from no other source flows their
perfection and their brightness, and the difficulty or impossibility of
moving them to sin, but from the Holy Ghost. And next, in the Patriarchs
and Prophets, of whom the former saw Visions of God, or knew Him, and the
latter also foreknew the future, having their master part moulded by the
Spirit, and being associated with events that were yet future as if present,
for such is the power of the Spirit. And next in the Disciples of Christ
(for I omit to mention Christ Himself, in Whom He dwelt, not as energizing,
but as accompanying His Equal), and that in three ways, as they were able
to receive Him, and on three occasions; before Christ was glorified by
the Passion, and after He was glorified by the Resurrection; and after
His Ascension, or Restoration, or whatever we ought to call it, to Heaven.
Now the first of these manifests Him-the healing of the sick and casting
out of evil spirits, which could not be apart from the Spirit; and so does
that breathing upon them after the Resurrection, which was clearly a divine
inspiration; and so too the present distribution of the fiery tongues,
which we are now commemorating. But the first manifested Him indistinctly,
the second more expressly, this present one more perfectly, since He is
no longer present only in energy, but as we may say, substantially, associating
with us, and dwelling in us. For it was fitting that as the Son had lived
with us in bodily form-so the Spirit too should appear in bodily form;
and that after Christ had returned to His own place, He should have come
down to us-Coming because He is the Lord; Sent, because He is not a rival
God. For such words no less manifest the Unanimity than they mark the separate
XII. And therefore He came after Christ, that a Comforter should not
be lacking unto us; but Another Comforter, that you might acknowledge His
co-equality. For this word Another marks an Alter Ego, a name of equal
Lordship, not of inequality. For Another is not said, I know, of different
kinds, but of things consubstantial. And He came in the form of Tongues
because of His close relation to the Word. And they were of Fire, perhaps
because of His purifying Power (for our Scripture knows of a purifying
fire, as any one who wishes can find out), or else because of His Substance.
For our God is a consuming Fire, and a Fire44 burning up the ungodly;45
though you may again pick a quarrel over these words, being brought into
difficulty by the Consubstantiality. And the tongues were cloven, because
of the diversity of Gifts; and they sat to signify His Royalty and Rest
among the Saints, and because the Cherubim are the Throne of God. And it
took place in an Upper Chamber (I hope I am not seeming to any one over
tedious), because those who should receive it were to ascend and be raised
above the earth; for also certain upper chambers46 are covered with Divine
Waters,47 by which the praise of God are sung. And Jesus Himself in an
Upper Chamber gave the Communion of the Sacrament to those who were being
initiated into the higher Mysteries, that thereby might be shewn on the
one hand that God must come down to us, as I know He did of old to Moses;
and on the other that we must go up to Him, and that so there should come
to pass a Communion of God with men, by a coalescing of the dignity. For
as long as either remains on its own footing, the One in His Glory48 the
other in his lowliness, so long the Goodness of God cannot mingle with
us, and His lovingkindness is incommunicable, and there is a great gulf
between, which cannot be crossed; and which separates not only the Rich
Man from Lazarus and Abraham's Bosom which he longs for, but also the created
and changing natures from that which is eternal and immutable.
XIII. This was proclaimed by the Prophets in such passages as the following:-The
Spirit of the Lord is upon me;49 and, There shall rest upon Him Seven Spirits;
and The Spirit of the Lord descended and led them;50 and The spirit of
Knowledge filling Bezaleel,51 the Master-builder of the Tabernacle; and,
The Spirit provoking to anger;52 and the Spirit carrying away Elias in
a chariot,53 and sought in double measure by Elissaeus; and David led and
strengthened by the Good and Princely Spirit.54 And He was promised by
the mouth of Joel first, who said, And it shall be in the last days that
I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh (that is, upon all that believe),
and upon your sons and upon your daughters,55 and the rest; and then afterwards
by Jesus, being glorified by Him, and giving back glory to Him, as He was
glorified by and glorified the Father.56 And how abundant was this Promise.
He shall abide for ever, and shall remain with you, whether now with those
who in the sphere of time are worthy, or hereafter with those who are counted
worthy of that world, when we have kept Him altogether by our life here,
and not rejected Him in so far as we sin.
XIV. This Spirit shares with the Son in working both the Creation and
the Resurrection, as you may be shewn by this Scripture; By the Word of
the Lord were the heavens made, and all the power of them by the breath
of His Mouth;57 and this, The Spirit of God that made me, and the Breath
of the Almighty that teacheth me;58 and again, Thou shalt send forth Thy
Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the
earth.59 And He is the Author of spiritual regeneration. Here is your proof:-None
can see or enter into the Kingdom, except he be born again of the Spirit,60
and be cleansed from the first birth, which is a mystery of the night,
by a remoulding of the day and of the Light, by which every one singly
is created anew. This Spirit, for He is most wise and most loving,61 if
He takes possession of a shepherd makes him a Psalmist, subduing evil spirits
by his song,62 and proclaims him King; if he possess a goatherd and scraper63
of sycamore fruit,64 He makes him a Prophet. Call to mind David and Amos.
If He possess a goodly youth, He makes him a Judge of Elders,65 even beyond
his years, as Daniel testifies, who conquered the lions in their den.66
If He takes possession of Fishermen, He makes them catch the whole world
in the nets of Christ, taking them up in the meshes of the Word. Look at
Peter and Andrew and the Sons of Thunder, thundering the things of the
Spirit. If of Publicans, He makes gain of them for discipleship, and makes
them merchants of souls; witness Matthew, yesterday a Publican, today an
Evangelist. If of zealous persecutors, He changes the current of their
zeal, and makes them Pauls instead of Sauls, and as full of piety as He
found them of wickedness. And He is the Spirit of Meekness, and yet is
provoked by those who sin. Let us therefore make proof of Him as gentle,
not as wrathful, by confessing His Dignity; and let us not desire to see
Him implacably wrathful. He too it is who has made me today a bold herald
to you;-if without rest to myself, God be thanked; but if with risk, thanks
to Him nevertheless; in the one case, that He may spare those that hate
us; in the other, that He may consecrate us, in receiving this reward of
our preaching of the Gospel, to be made perfect by blood.
XV. They spoke with strange tongues, and not those of their native land;
and the wonder was great, a language spoken by those who had not learnt
it. And the sign is to them that believe not,67 and not to them that believe,
that it may be an accusation of the unbelievers, as it is written, With
other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people, and not even
so will they listen to Me68 saith the Lord. But they heard. Here stop a
little and raise a question, how you are to divide the words. For the expression
has an ambiguity, which is to be determined by the punctuation. Did they
each hear in their own dialect69 so that if I may so say, one sound was
uttered, but many were heard; the air being thus beaten and, so to speak,
sounds being produced more clear than the original sound; or are we to
put the stop after "they Heard," and then to add "them speaking in their
own languages" to what follows, so that it would be speaking in languages
their own to the hearers, which would be foreign to the speakers? I prefer
to put it this latter way; for on the other plan the miracle would be rather
of the hearers than of the speakers; whereas in this it would be on the
speakers' side; and it was they who were reproached for drunkenness, evidently
because they by the Spirit wrought a miracle in the matter of the tongues.
XVI. But as the old Confusion of tongues was laudable, when men who
were of one language in wickedness and impiety, even as some now venture
to be, were building the Tower;70 for by the confusion of their language
the unity of their intention was broken up, and their undertaking destroyed;
so much more worthy of praise is the present miraculous one. For being
poured from One Spirit upon many men, it brings them again into harmony.
And there is a diversity of Gifts, which stands in need of yet another
Gift to discern which is the best, where all are praiseworthy. And that
division also might be called noble of which David says, Drown O Lord and
divide their tongues.71 Why? Because they loved all words of drowning,
the deceitful tongue.72 Where he all but expressly arraigns the tongues
of the present day73 which sever the Godhead. Thus much upon this point.
XVII. Next, since it was to inhabitants of Jerusalem, most devout Jews,
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, Egyptians, and Libyans, Cretans too, and
Arabians, and Mesopotamians, and my own Cappadocians, that the tongues
spake, and to Jews (if any one prefer so to understand it), out of every
nation under heaven thither collected; it is worth while to see who these
were and of what captivity. For the captivity in Egypt and Babylon was
circumscribed, and moreover had long since been brought to an end by the
Return; and that under the Romans, which was exacted for their audacity
against our Saviour, was not yet come to pass, though it was in the near
future. It remains then to understand it of the captivity under Antiochus,
which happened not so very long before this time. But if any does not accept
this explanation, as being too elaborate, seeing that this captivity was
neither ancient nor widespread over the world, and is looking for a more
reliable-perhaps the best way to take it would be as follows. The nation
was removed many times, as Esdras related; and some of the Tribes were
recovered, and some were left behind; of whom probably (dispersed as they
were among the nations) some would have been present and shared the miracle.
XVIII. These questions have been examined before by the studious, and
perhaps not without occasion; and whatever else any one may contribute
at the present day, he will be joined with us. But now it is our duty to
dissolve this Assembly, for enough has been said. But the Festival is never
to be put an end to; but kept now indeed with our bodies; but a little
later on altogether spiritually there, where we shall see the reasons of
these things more purely and clearly, in the Word Himself, and God, and
our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Festival and Rejoicing of the Saved-to
Whom be the glory and the worship, with the Father and the Holy Ghost,
now and for ever. Amen.
1 They deify bad passions, and then act as if the gratification
of them were an honour to the gods in whom they have personified them.
2 The followers of Pythagoras swore by their master,
who taught them the mystic properties of the number Four, which he called
the Fountain of the Universe, because all things were made of four elements.
3 The Simonians and Marcionites were two Gnostic sects,
the one deriving its name form Simon Magus, the other from Marcion of Sinope.
Simon, of whom we read in the Acts c. viii., is generally regarded by the
Fathers as the precursor of the Gnostic Heresies. He maintained a system
of Emanations from God, of which he claimed to be himself the chief. In
his teaching the first cause of all things was an Ineffable Existence or
Non-existence, which he sometimes called Silence and sometimes Fire, from
which the Universe was generated by a series of six Emanations called Roots,
which he arranged in pairs, male and female; and these six contained among
them the whole Essence of his first Principle Silence. These Roots with
Simon himself and his consort Helena, make up the Ogdoad referred to in
Macion was a native of Sinope in Pontus, and flourished
about the middle of the Second Century. His system of teaching was mainly
rationalistic, and did not recognize (Dr. Mansel tells us, "Gnostic Heresies,"
p. 203) any theory of Emanations as connecting links between God and the
world; for from his point of view the Supreme God was not, even indirectly,
the Author of the world. It would seem that S. Gregory is confusing Marcion
with Valentinus, and Egyptian heresiarch who flourished about the same
time. In his theory we first find a system of "Aeons," divided into an
Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Dodecad. Or ye man y mean Marcus, a follower of
Valentinus, and founder of the subordinate sect of the Marcosians.
4 Exod. xii. 15.
5 Ib. xxi. 2.
6 Eccles. xi. 2. S. Gregory himself (Or. xviii. "in laudem
Patris," c. 20) comments upon this passage as enjoining liberal almsgiving.
S. Ambrose (in Luc. vi.) has a mystical interpretation somewhat resembling
that here referred to: but I cannot find a predecessor of Gregory on the
verse. Some later commentators, according to Cornelius and Lapide, take
the Seven of the poor in this life, and the Eight of the souls in Purgatory,
following a common interpretation of these numbers.
7 Isa. xi. 2.
8 Ps. xix. 6.
9 Job v. 19.
10 Matt. xviii. 22.
11 Gen. iv. 24.
12 It will be worth while, says Nicetas, to add S. John
Chrysostom's account of the seven fold punishment which was inflicted on
Cain. The number Seven he says (Hom. in Gen. xix. 5, p. 168 c.) is often
used in Holy Scripture in the sense of multitude, as e.g., in such places,
as, "The barren hath borne seven," and the like. So here; the greatness
of the crime is implied, and that it is not a simple and single crime,
but seven sins; and those of such a sort that every one of them must be
avenged by a very severe punishment. First, that he envied his brother
when he saw that God loved him, a sin which without any other added to
it was sufficient to be deadly. The next was that this sin was against
a brother. The third that he compassed a deceit. The fourth that he perpetrated
a murder. The fifth that it was his brother that he slew. The sixth that
he was the first man to commit a murder. The seventh that he lied to God.
You have followed these steps with your mind, or do you desire that I should
repeat the enumeration in a fuller way, to make you understand how each
of these sins would be visited with a very severe penalty, even if it stood
alone. Who would judge a man worthy of pardon who envies another simply
because he enjoys the favour and love of God? Here then is one very great
and inexpiable sin. And this is shewn to be even more atrocious when he
who is envied is a brother, and has done him no wrong. Further, he contrived
a deceit, bringing his brother out by a trick into the field, without reverence
for nature herself. The fourth crime is the murder which he committed.
The fifth is that it was his brother whom he put to death; his brother,
I say, that came out of the same womb. Sixthly, he was the first inventor
of murder. Seventhly, when questioned by God he did not hesitate to lie.
And therefore because he dared to lay hands on his brother, he draws upon
himself severe punishments. He then proceeds to shew how Lamech's crime
was worse than Cain's, and is therefore said to be punished seventy times;
that is, in manifold ways. Lamech slew a man and a young man, and this,
after the law against murder had been given; that is, after God had punished
Cain. Cain's punishment he says was sevenfold, corresponding to his seven
sins: - 1. Cursed is the ground for thy sake. 2. Thou shalt till the ground;
i.e., thou shalt never rest from the toils of husbandry. 3. It shall not
yield unto thee its strength; 4. thy labours shall be barren, and 5. "sighting
and trembling" shalt thou be. And the sixth is from the lips of Cain himself:
- "If Thou castest me out form the earth," i.e., from all earthly conveniences,
"from Thy face shall I be hid." And God put a mark upon Cain; this is the
seventh punishment - a mark of infamy declaring his guilt and shame to
all that should see him. Others according to the same authority (and Bishop
Wordsworth adopts the explanation) explains it thus. From Cain to the Deluge
are seven generations, and then the world was punished because sin had
spread far and wide. But Lamech's sin could not be cured by the Deluge,
but only by Him Who taketh away the sin of the world. Then count all the
generations from Adam to Christ, and according to the Genealogy in Luke,
you will find that our Lord was born in the seventieth generation. This
is S. Jerome's explanation.
13 Ps. lxxix. 12.
14 Prov. ix. i.
15 Zech. iii. 9 .
16 Ps. cxix. 164.
17 1 Sam. ii. 5.
18 Peninnah who had "many" children is called Imperfect
in her children, because Many is an indefinite word; where Hannah's one
child Samuel was so perfect a man that he was as it were seven to his mother.
For Seven is mystically, as Six or Ten is arithmetically, the perfect number.
(Six because it is the sum of its own factors, 1, 2, 3: Ten, because it
is the basis of numeration: Seven because it is the number of Creation;
for God rested on the Sabbath Day.).
19 Jude 14.
20 Gen. v. 22.
21 Luke iii. 34.
22 Josh. vi. 4. &c.
23 1 Kgs. xvii. 21.
24 Ib. xviii. 33.
25 2 Kgs. iv. 25, where the LXX. has "he contracted himself
upon the child until seven times, and the child opened his eyes;" saying
nothing about the sneezing of the child, which the Hebrew and Vulgate mention,
while they omit the number in the case of Elisha's similar action. S. Bernard
has a curious explanation of the seven sneezes of the child(in Cant. xvi).
26 Ex. xxv. 32, 37.
27 Levit. viii. 33.
28 Ib. xiv. 8.
29 1 Kings viii. 6.
30 2 Chron. xxxvi. 32.
31 Different words are used here as in the New Testament
for Baskets. The second implies a larger size; it is the word used for
the "basket" in which St. Paul was let down from the wall of Damascus,
Acts ix. 25.
32 S. Gregory makes this explanation because there were
certain heretics who taught that our Lord at His Ascension laid aside His
Humanity. It is said that this was held by certain Manichaeans, who based
their idea on Ps. xix. 4, where the LXX. and Vulgate read, "He hath set
His Tabernacle in the Sun."
33 Ephes. iii. 13.
34 The reference is to the Macedonians or Pneumatomachi,
followowers of Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had passed
from extreme or Anomoean Arianism to Semi-Arianism, and was forcibly intruded
on the See by order of Constantius in 343, but was afterwards deposed.
After his deposition he broached the heresy known by his name, denying
the Deity of the Holy Ghost; some of its adherents, with Macedonius himself,
maintaining Him to be a mere creature; others stopping short of this; and
others calling Him a creature and servant of the Son. The heresy was formally
condemned in the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381.
35 John iii. 8.
36 S. Gregory here commends the practice of reserve in
respect of the Deity of the Holy Ghost. To believe it is necessary to salvation,
he would say; but in view of the prevailing ignorance it is well to be
careful before whom we give Him the Name of God. But he demands that his
hearers should give to the Holy Ghost all the Attributes of Godhead, and
should bear with those who, like himself, gave Him also the Name, as he
prays that they all may have grace to do (Bénoît).
37 Heb. v. 12.
38 Isa. viii. 14; Rom. ix. 33; 1 Pet. ii. 8.
39 i.e., inasmuch as He has granted you a right faith
in the Consubstantiality and Unity of the Trinity, I am sure He will in
time grant you the grace also to call Him by the Name of God.
40 2 Tim. ii. 5.
41 The Constantinopolitan followers of Macedonius at
the period were noted for their strict asceticism. The attempt to revive
the Night Office among the secular Clergy of the Diocese brought great
odium on S. John Chrysostom a few years later.
42 ie.,by Isaiah.
43 Job xxxviii. 4, Ps. v. 10, xxxvi., cxxxix. 7-15. cxlii.,
Isa. xi. 1-3, xlviii. 16, Mal. iii 6, Wisd. I. 2, John i. 14, iii. 24,
xv. 26, xvi. 14. 15, Acts xiii. 2, Rom. iv. 17, xv. 16, 19, 1 Cor. ii.
10, vi. 19, viii. 2, 2 Cor. iii. 1, 6, xiii. 4, 2 Thess. iii. 5, 1 Tim.
vi. 10, Heb. ix. 14.
44 Heb. xii. 20.
45 Deut. iv. 24.
46 Ps. civ. 3.
47 Ps. cxlviii. 4.
48 e'pi\ perioph=j; Billius renders "In specula sua,"
"On His watch tower," and the meaning is admissible, but the context seems
rather to point to the passive sense of Majesty or Glory. The word is not
in the Lexicon, and Suicer does not notice it; but the corresponding adjective
has only the passive sense. Specula, however, is used in the sense of Eminence,
but apparently only geographically.
49 Isa. lxi. 1.
50 Ib. xi. 2; lxiii. 14.
51 Exod. xxxi. 3.
52 Isa. lxiii. 10.
53 2 Kgs. ii. 11.
54 Ps. li. 12; cxliii. 10.
55 Joel ii. 28.
56 John xiv. 16.
57 Ps. xxxiii. 6.
58 Job. xxxiii. 4.
59 Ps. civ. 30.
60 John iii. 3.
61 Wisd. i. 6.
62 1 Sam. xvi. 23.
63 The Hebrew word means "a cultivator of sycamores."
The LXX. rendering is due to the process of maturing the fruit, which grows
on the stem of the trunk, and is made to mature by puncturing it with an
iron instrument, when after three days the fruit is fit to eat. The Hebrew
word occurs only this once in the Bible; Aquila renders it by "Looking
for;" Symmachus by "propping with stakes."
64 Amos vii. 14.
66 Dan. vi. 22.
67 1 Cor. xiv. 22.
68 Isa. xxviii. 11.
69 The actual order of the words in the Greek of Acts
ii. 6 is, They heard each individual in his own dialect them speaking;
so that the position of the comma affects the meaning.
70 Gen. xi. 7.
71 Ps. lv. 9.
72 Ib. lii. 4.
73 Arians, Macedonians, and Kindred sects.