Portion of Homily XVI.
Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 20
6. "For I say unto you, Except your righteousness shall exceed the
righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into
the kingdom of Heaven."33
Here by righteousness He means the whole of virtue; even as also discoursing
of Job, He said, "He was a blameless man, righteous."34 According to the
same signification of the word, Paul also called that man "righteous" for
whom, as he said, no law is even set. "For," saith he, "a law is not made
for a righteous man."35 And in many other places too one might find this
name standing for virtue in general.
But observe, I pray thee, the increase of grace; in that He will have
His newly-come disciples better than the teachers in the old covenant.
For by "Scribes and Pharisees" here, He meant not merely the lawless, but
the well-doers. For, were they not doing well, He would not have said they
have a righteousness; neither would He have compared the unreal to the
And observe also here, how He commends the old law, by making a comparison
between it and the other; which kind of thing implies it to be of the same
tribe and kindred. For more and less, is in the same kind. He cloth not,
you see, find fault with the old law, but will have it made stricter. Whereas,
had it been evil,36 He would not have required more of it; He would not
have made it more perfect, but would have cast it out.
And how one may say, if it be such, doth it not bring us into the Kingdom?
It doth not now bring in them who live after the coming of Christ, favored
as they are with more strength, and bound to strive for greater things:
since as to its own foster-children, them it doth bring in one and all.
Yea, for "many shall come," saith He, "from east and west, and shall lie
down in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."37 And Lazarus also receiving
the great prize, is shown dwelling in Abraham's bosom. And all, as many
as have shone forth with excellency in the old dispensation. shone by it,
every one of them. And Christ Himself, had it been in anything evil or
alien from Him, would not have fulfilled it all when He came. For if only
to attract the Jews He was doing this, and not in order to Drove it akin
to the new law, and concurrent therewith; wherefore did He not also fulfill
the laws and customs of the Gentiles, that He might attract the Gentiles
So that from all considerations it is clear, that not from any badness
in itself doth it fail to bring us in, but because it is now the season
of higher precepts.
And if it be more imperfect than the new, neither cloth this imply it
to be evil: since upon this principle the new law itself will be in the
very same case. Because in truth our knowledge of this, when compared with
that which is to come, is a sort of partial and imperfect thing, and is
done away on the coming of that other. "For when," saith He, "that which
is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away:"38 even
as it befell the old law through the new. Yet we are not to blame the new
law for this, though that also gives place on our attaining unto the Kingdom:
for "then," saith He, "that which is in part shall be done away:" but for
all this we call it great.
Since then both the rewards thereof are greater, and the power given
by the Spirit more abundant, in reason it requires our graces to be greater
also. For it is no longer "a land that floweth with milk and honey," nor
a comfortable39 old age, nor many children, nor corn and wine, and flocks
and herds: but Heaven, and the good things in the Heavens, and adoption
and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and to partake of the inheritance
and to be glorified and to reign with Him, and those unnumbered rewards.
And as to our having received more abundant help, hear thou Paul, when
he saith," There is therefore no condemnation now to them which are in
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit:40 for
the law of the Spirit of life hath made me free from the law of sin and
7. And now after threatening the transgressors, and setting great rewards
for them that do right, and signifying that He justly requires of us something
beyond the former measures; He from this point begins to legislate, not
simply. but by way of comparison with the ancient ordinances, desiring
to intimate these two things: first, that not as contending with the former,
but rather in great harmony with them, He is making these enactments; next,
that it was meet and very seasonable for Him to add thereto these second
And that this may be made yet clearer, let us hearken to the words of
the Legislator. What then doth He Himself say?
"Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shall not
And yet it was Himself who gave those laws also, but so far He states
them impersonally. For if on the one hand He had said, "Ye have heard that
I said to them of old," the saying would have been hard to receive, and
would have stood in the way of all the hearers. If again, on the other
hand, after having said, "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old
by my Father," He had added, "But I say," He would have seemed to be taking
yet more on Himself.
Wherefore He hath simply stated it, making out thereby one point only;
the proof that in fitting season He had come saying these things. For by
the words, "It was said to them of old," He pointed out the length of the
time, since they received this commandment. And this He did to shame the
hearer, shrinking from the advance to the higher class of His commandments;
as though a teacher should say to a child that was indolent, "Knowest thou
not how long a time thou hast consumed in learning syllables?" This then
He also covertly intimates by the expression, "them of old time," and thus
for the future summons them on to the higher order of His instructions:
as if He had said, "Ye are learning these lessons long enough, and you
must henceforth press on to such as are higher than these."
And it is well that He doth not disturb the order of the commandments,
but begins first with that which comes earlier, with which the law also
began. Yea, for this too suits with one showing the harmony between them.
"But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without
a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment."43
Seest thou authority in perfection? Seest thou a bearing suited to a
legislator? Why, which among prophets ever spake on this wise? which among
righteous men? which among patriarchs? None; but, "Thus saith the Lord."
But the Son not so. Because they were publishing their Master's commands,
He His Father's. And when I say, "His Father's," I mean His own. "For mine,"
saith He, "are thine, and thine are mine."44 And they had their fellow-servants
to legislate for, He His own servants.
Let us now ask those who reject the law, "is, 'Be not angry' contrary
to 'Do no murder'? or is not the one commandment the completion and the
development of the other?" Clearly the one is the fulfilling of the other,
and that is greater on this very account. Since he who is not stirred up
to anger, will much more refrain from murder; and he who bridles wrath
will much more keep his hands to himself. For wrath is the root of murder.
And you see that He who cuts up the root will much more remove the branches;
or rather, will not permit them so much as to shoot out at all. Not therefore
to abolish the law did He make these enactments, but for the more complete
observation of it. For with what design did the law enjoin these things?
Was it not, that no one might slay his neighbor? It follows, that he who
was opposing the law would have to enjoin murder. For to murder, were the
contrary to doing no murder. But if He doth not suffer one even to be angry,
the mind of the law is established by Him more completely. For he that
studies to avoid murder will not refrain from it equally with him that
hath put away even anger; this latter being further removed from the crime.
8. But that we may convict them in another way also, let us bring forward
all their allegations. What then do they affirm? They assert that the God
who made the world, who "makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
who sends the rain on the just and on the unjust," is in some sense an
evil being.45 But the more moderate (forsooth) among them, though declining
this, yet while they affirm Him to be just, they deprive Him of being good.
And some other one, who is not, nor made any of the things that are, they
assign for a Father to Christ. And they say that he, who is not good, abides
in his own, and preserves what are his own; but that He, that is good,
seeks what are another's, and desires of a sudden to become a Saviour to
them whose Creator He was not.46 Seest thou the children of the devil,
how they speak out of the fountain of their father, alienating the work
of creation from God: while John cries out, "He came unto His own," and,
"The world was made by Him?"47
In the next place, they criticise the law in the old covenant, which
bids put out "an eye for an eye," and "a tooth for a tooth;"48 and straightway
they insult and say, "Why, how can He be good who speaks so?"
What then do we say in answer to this? That it is the highest kind of
philanthropy. For He made this law, not that we might strike out one another's
eyes, but that fear of suffering by others might restrain us from doing
any such thing to them. As therefore He threatened the Ninevites with overthrow,
not that He might destroy them. (for had that been His will, He ought to
have been silent), but that He might by fear make them better, and so quiet
His wrath: so also hath He appointed a punishment for those who wantonly
assail the eyes of others, that if good principle dispose them not to refrain
from such cruelty, fear may restrain them from injuring their neighbors'
And if this be cruelty, it is cruelty also for the murderer to be restrained,
and the adulterer checked. But these are the sayings of senseless men,
and of those that are mad to the extreme of madness. For I, so far from
saying that this comes of cruelty, should say, that the contrary to this
would be unlawful, according to men's reckoning. And whereas, thou sayest,
"Because He commanded to pluck out "an eye for an eye," therefore He is
cruel;" I say, that if He had not given this commandment, then He would
have seemed, in the judgment of most men, to be that which thou sayest
For let us suppose that this law had been altogether done away, and
that no one feared the punishment ensuing thereupon, but that license had
been given to all the wicked to follow their own disposition in all security,
to adulterers, and to murderers,49 to perjured persons, and to parricides;
would not all things have been turned upside down? would not cities, market-places,
and houses, sea and land, and the whole world, have been filled with unnumbered
pollutions and murders? Every one sees it. For if, when there are laws,
and fear, and threatening, our evil dispositions are hardly checked; were
even this security taken away, what is there to prevent men's choosing
vice? and what degree of mischief would not then come revelling upon the
whole of human life?
The rather, since cruelty lies not only in allowing the bad to do what
they will, but in another thing too quite as much; to overlook, and leave
uncared for, him who hath done no wrong, but who is without cause or reason
suffering ill. For tell me; were any one to gather together wicked men
from all quarters, and arm them with swords, and bid them go about the
whole city, and massacre all that came in their way, could there be anything
more like a wild beast than he? And what if some other should bind, and
confine with the utmost strictness those whom that man had armed, and should
snatch from those lawless hands them, who were on the point of being butchered;
could anything be greater humanity than this?
Now then, I bid thee transfer these examples to the law likewise; for
He that commands to pluck out "an eye for an eye," hath laid the fear as
a kind of strong chain upon the souls of the bad, and so resembles him,
who detains those assassins in prison; whereas he who appoints no punishment
for them, doth all but arm them by such security, and acts the part of
that other, who was putting the swords in their hands, and letting them
loose over the whole city.
Seest thou not, how the commandments, so far from coming of cruelty,
come rather of abounding mercy? And if on account of these thou callest
the Lawgiver grievous, and hard to bear with; tell me which sort of command
is the more toilsome and grievous, "Do no murder," or, "Be not even angry"?
Which is more in extreme, he who exacts a penalty for murder, or for mere
anger? He who subjects the adulterer to vengeance after the fact, or he
who enjoins a penalty even for the very desire, and that penalty everlasting?
See ye not how their reasoning comes round to the very contrary? how the
God of the old covenant, whom they call cruel, will be found mild and meek:
and He of the new, whom they acknowledged to be good, will be hard and
grievous, according to their madness? Whereas we say, that there is but
one and the same Legislator of either covenant, who dispensed all meetly,
and adapted to the difference of the times the difference between the two
systems of law. Therefore neither are the first commandments cruel, nor
the second hard and grievous, but all of one and the same providential
For that He Himself gave the old covenant also, hear the affirmation
of the prophet, or rather (so we must speak), of Him who is both the one
and the other: "I will make a covenant with you, not according to the covenant
which I made with your fathers."50
But if he receive not this, who is diseased with the Manichaean doctrines,51
let him hear Paul saying the very same in another place, "For Abraham had
two sons, one by the bondmaid, and another by the freewoman; and these
are two covenants."52 As therefore in that case the wives are different,
the husband the same; so here too the covenants are two, the Lawgiver one.
And to prove to thee that it was of one and the same mildness; in the
one He saith, "An eye for an eye," but in this other, "If one smite thee
on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."53
For as in that case He checks him that cloth the wrong with the fear
of this suffering, even so also in this. "How so," it may be said, "when
He bids turn to him the other cheek also?" Nay, what of that? Since not
to take away his fear did He enjoin this, but as charging yourself to allow
him to take his fill entirely. Neither did He say, that the other continues
unpunished, but, "do not thou punish;" at once both enhancing the fear
of him that smiteth, if he persist, and comforting him who is smitten.
9. But these things we have said, as one might say them incidentally,
concerning all the commandments. Now we must go on to that which is before
us, and keep to the thread of what had been affirmed. "He that is angry
with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:" so
He speaks. Thus He hath not altogether taken the thing away: first, because
it is not possible, being a man, to be freed from passions: we may indeed
get the dominion over them, but to be altogether without them is out of
Next, because this passion is even useful, if we know how to use it
at the suitable time.54 See, for instance, what great good was wrought
by that anger of Paul, which he felt against the Corinthians, on that well-known
occasion; and how, as it delivered them from a grievous pest, so by the
same means again he recovered the people of the Galatians likewise, which
had fallen aside; and others too beside these. What then is the proper
time for anger? When we are not avenging ourselves, but checking others
in their lawless freaks, or forcing them to attend in their negligence.
And what is the unsuitable time? When we do so as avenging ourselves:
which Paul also forbidding, said "Avenge not yourselves, dearly beloved,
but rather give place unto wrath."55 When we are contending for riches:
yea, for this hath he also taken away, where he saith, "Why do ye not rather
take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?"56
For as this last sort is superfluous, so is the first necessary and profitable.
But most men do the contrary; becoming like wild beasts when they are injured
themselves, but remiss and cowardly when they see despite done to another:
both which are just opposite to the laws of the Gospel.
Being angry then is not a transgression, but being so unseasonably.
For this cause the prophet also said, "Be ye angry, and sin not."57
10. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger
of the council."
By the council in this place He means the tribunal of the Hebrews: and
He hath mentioned this now, on purpose that He might not seem everywhere
to play the stranger and innovator.
But this word, "Raca," is not an expression of a great insolence, but
rather of some contempt and slight on the part of the speaker. For as we,
giving orders either to our servants, or to any very inferior person, say,
"Away with thee; you here, tell such an one:"58 so they who make use of
the Syrians' language say, "Raca," putting that word m stead of "thou."
But God, the lover of man, roots up even the least faults, commanding us
to behave to one another in seemly manner, and with due respect; and this
with a view of destroying hereby also the greater.
"But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."59
To many this commandment hath appeared grievous and galling, if for
a mere word we are really to pay so great a penalty. And some even say
that it was spoken rather hyperbolically. But I fear lest, when we have
deceived ourselves with words here, we may in deeds there suffer that extreme
For wherefore, tell me, doth the commandment seem overburdensome? Knowest
thou not that most punishments and most sins have their beginning from
words? Yea, for by words are blasphemies, and denials are by words, and
revilings, and reproaches, and perjuries, and bearing false witness.60
Regard not then its being a mere word, but whether it have not much danger,
this do thou inquire. Art thou ignorant that in the season of enmity, when
wrath is inflamed, and the soul kindled, even the least thing appears great,
and what is not very reproachful is counted intolerable? And often these
little things have given birth even to murder, and overthrown whole cities.
For just as where friendship is, even grievous things are light, so where
enmity lies beneath, very trifles appear intolerable. And however simply
a word be spoken, it is surmised to have been spoken with an evil meaning.
And as in fire: if there be but a small spark, though thousands of planks
lie by, it doth not easily lay hold of them; but if the flame have waxed
strong and high, it readily seizes not planks only, but stones, and all
materials that fall in its way; and by what things it is usually quenched,
by the same it is kindled the more (for some say that at such a time not
only wood and tow, and the other combustibles, but even water darted forth
upon it doth but fan its power the more); so is it also with anger; whatever
any one may say, becomes food in a moment for this evil conflagration.
All which kind of evils Christ checking beforehand, had condemned first
him that is angry without a cause to the judgment, (this being the very
reason why He said, "He that is angry shall be in danger of the judgment");
then him that saith "Raca," to the council. But as yet these are no great
things; for the punishments are here. Therefore for him who calleth "fool"
He hath added the fire of hell, now for the first time mentioning the name
of hell. For having before discoursed much of the kingdom, not until then
did He mention this; implying, that the former comes of His own love and
indulgence towards man, this latter of our negligence.
11. And see how He proceeds by little and little in His punishments,
all but excusing Himself unto thee, and signifying that His desire indeed
is to threaten nothing of the kind, but that we drag Him on to such denunciations.
For observe: "I bade thee," saith He, "not be angry for nought, because
thou art in danger of the judgment. Thou hast despised the former commandment:
see what anger hath produced; it hath led thee on straightway to insult,
for thou hast called thy brother `Raca.' Again, I set another punishment,
`the council.' If thou overlook even this, and proceed to that which is
more grievous, I visit thee no longer with these finite punishments, but
with the undying penalty of hell, lest after this thou shouldest break
forth61 even to murder." For there is nothing, nothing in the world more
intolerable than insolence; it is what hath very great power62 to sting
a man's soul. But when the word too which is spoken is in itself more wounding
than the insolence, the blaze becomes twice as great. Think it not then
a light thing to call another "fool." For when of that which separates
us from the brutes, and by which especially we are human beings, namely,
the mind and the understanding,-when of this thou hast robbed thy brother,
thou hast deprived him of all his nobleness.
Let us not then regard the words merely, but realizing the things themselves,
and his feeling, let us consider how great a wound is made by this word,
and unto how much evil it proceeds. For this cause Paul likewise cast out
of the kingdom not only "the adulterous" and "the effeminate," but "the
revilers"63 also. And with great reason: for the insolent man mars all
the beauty of charity, and casts upon his neighbor unnumbered ills, and
works up lasting enmities, and tears asunder the members of Christ, and
is daily driving away that peace which God so desires: giving much vantage
ground unto the devil by his injurious ways, and making him the stronger.
Therefore Christ Himself, cutting out the sinews of the devil's power,
brought in this law.
For indeed He makes much account of love: this being above all things
the mother of every good, and the badge of His disciples, and the bond
which holds together our whole condition. With reason therefore doth He
remove with great earnestness the roots and the sources of that hatred
which utterly spoils it.
Think not therefore that these sayings are in any wise hyperbolical,
but consider the good done by them, and admire the mildness of these laws.
For there is nothing for which God takes so much pains, as this; that we
should be united and knit together one with another. Therefore both in
His own person, and by His disciples, as well those in the Old, as in the
New Testament, He makes so much account of this commandment; and is a severe
avenger and punisher of those who despise the duty. For in truth nothing
so effectually gives entrance and root to all wickedness, as the taking
away of love. Wherefore He also said, "When iniquity abounds, the love
of the many shall wax cold."64 Thus Cain became his brother's murderer;
thus Esau; thus Joseph's brethren; thus our unnumbered crimes have come
revelling in, this bond being dissevered. You see why He Himself also roots
out whatever things injure this, on every side, with great exactness.
12. Neither doth He stop at those precepts only which have been mentioned,
but adds also others more than those: whereby He signifies how much account
He makes thereof. Namely, having threatened by "the council," by "the judgment,"
and by "hell," He added other sayings again in harmony with the former,
"If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that
thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar,
and go away;65 first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer
O goodness! O exceeding love to man! He makes no account of the honor
due unto Himself, for the sake of our love towards our neighbor; implying
that not at all from any enmity, nor out of any desire to punish, had He
uttered those former threatenings, but out of very tender affection. For
what can be milder than these sayings? "Let my service," saith he, "be
interrupted, that thy love may continue; since this also is a sacrifice,
thy being reconciled to thy brother." Yea, for this cause He said not,
"after the offering," or "before the offering;" but, while the very gift
lies there, and when the sacrifice is already beginning, He sends thee
to be reconciled to thy brother; and neither after removing that which
lies before us,67 nor before presenting the gift, but while it lies in
the midst, He bids thee hasten thither.
With what motive then doth He command so to do, and wherefore? These
two ends, as it appears to me, He is hereby shadowing out and providing
for. First, as I have said, His will is to point out that He highly values
charity? and considers it to be the greatest sacrifice: and that without
it He doth not receive even that other; next, He is imposing such a necessity
of reconciliation, as admits of no excuse. For whoso hath been charged
not to offer before he be reconciled, will hasten, if not for love of his
neighbor, yet, that this may not lie unconsecrated,68 to run unto him who
hath been grieved, and do away the enmity. For this cause He hath also
expressed it all most significantly, to alarm and thoroughly to awaken
him. Thus, when He had said, "Leave thy gift," He stayed not at this, but
added, "before the altar" (by the very place again causing him to shudder);
"and go away." And He said not merely, "Go away," but He added, "first,
and then come and offer thy gift." By all these things making it manifest,
that this table receives not them that are at enmity with each other.
Let the initiated hear this, as many as draw nigh in enmity: and let
the uninitiated hear too: yea, for the saying hath some relation to them
also. For they too offer a gift and a sacrifice: prayer, I mean, and alms-giving.
For as to this also being a sacrifice, hear what the prophet saith: "A
sacrifice of praise will glorify me;"69 and again, "Sacrifice to God a
sacrifice of praise;"70 and, "The lifting up of mine hands is an evening
sacrifice."71 So that if it be but a prayer, which thou art offering in
such a frame of mind, it were better to leave thy prayer, and become reconciled
to thy brother, and then to offer thy prayer.
For to this end were all things done: to this end even God became man,
and took order for all those works, that He might set us at one.
And whereas in this place He is sending the wrong doer to the sufferer,
in His prayer He leads the sufferer to the wrong doer, and reconciles them.
For as there He saith, "Forgive men their debts;" so here, "If he hath
ought against thee, go thy way unto him."
Or rather, even here too He seems to me to be sending the injured person:
and for some such reason He said not, "Reconcile thyself to thy brother,"
but, "Be thou reconciled. " And while the saying seems to pertain to the
aggressor, the whole of it really pertains to him that is aggrieved. Thus,
"If thou art reconciled to him," saith Christ, "through thy love to him
thou wilt have me also propitious, and wilt be able to offer thy sacrifice
with great confidence. But if thou art still irritated, consider that even
I readily command that which is mine to be lightly esteemed, that ye may
become friends; and let these thoughts be soothing to thine anger."
And He said not, "When thou hast suffered any of the greater wrongs,
then be reconciled; but, "Though it be some trifle that he hath against
thee." And He added not, "Whether justly or unjustly; but merely, "If he
hath ought against thee." For though it be justly, not even in that case
oughtest thou to protract the enmity; since Christ also was justly angered
with us, yet nevertheless He gave Himself for us to be slain, "not imputing
For this cause Paul also, when urging us in another way to reconciliation,
said, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."73 For much as Christ by
this argument of the sacrifice, so there Paul by that of the day, is urging
us on to the self-same point. Because in truth he fears the night, lest
it overtake him that is smitten alone, and make the wound greater. For
whereas in the day there are many to distract, and draw him off; in the
night, when he is alone, and is thinking it over by himself, the waves
swell, and the storm becomes greater. Therefore Paul, you see, to prevent
this, would fain commit him to the night already reconciled, that the devil
may after that have no opportunity, from his solitude, to rekindle the
furnace of his wrath, and make it fiercer. Thus also Christ permits not,
though it be ever so little delay, lest, the sacrifice being accomplished,
such an one become more remiss, procrastinating from day to day: for He
knows that the case requires very speedy treatment. And as a skillful physician
exhibits not only the preventives of our diseases, but their correctives
also, even so doth He likewise. Thus, to forbid our calling "fool," is
a preventive of enmity; but to command reconciliation is a means of removing
the diseases that ensue on the enmity.
And mark how both commands are set forth with earnestness. For as in
the former case He threatened hell, so here He receives not the gift before
the reconciliation, indicating great displeasure, and by all these methods
destroying both the root and the produce.
And first of all He saith, "Be not angry;" and after that, "revile not."
For indeed both these are augmented, the one by the other: from enmity
is reviling, from reviling enmity. On this account then He heals now the
root, and now the fruit; hindering indeed the evil from ever springing
up in the first instance: but if perchance it may have sprouted up and
borne its most evil fruit, then by all means He burns it down the more.
13. Therefore, you see, having mentioned, first the judgment, then the
council, then hell, and having spoken of His own sacrifice, He adds other
topics again, thus speaking:
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with
That is, that thou mayest not say, "What then, if I am injured;" "what
if I am plundered, and dragged too before the tribunal?" even this occasion
and excuse He hath taken away: for He commands us not even so to be at
enmity. Then, since this injunction was great, He draws His advice from
the things present, which are wont to restrain the grosser sort more than
the future. "Why, what sayest thou?" saith He. "That thine adversary is
stronger, and doeth thee wrong? Of course then he will wrong thee more,
if thou do not make it up, but art forced to go into court. For in the
former case, by giving up some money, thou wilt keep thy person free; but
when thou art come under the sentence of the judge, thou wilt both be bound,
and pay the utmost penalty. But if thou avoid the contest there, thou wilt
reap two good results: first, not having to suffer anything painful: and
secondly, that the good done will be thereafter thine own doing, and no
longer the effect of compulsion on his part. But if thou wilt not be ruled
by these sayings, thou wrongest not him, so much as thyself."
And see here also how He hastens him; for having said, "Agree with thine
adversary," He added, "quickly;" and He was not satisfied with this, but
even of this quickness He hath required a further increase, saying, "Whilst
thou art in the way with him;" pressing and hastening him hereby with great
earnestness. For nothing doth so much turn our life upside down, as delay
and procrastination in the performance of our good works. Nay, this hath
often caused us to lose all. Therefore, as Paul for his part saith, "Before
the sun set, do away the enmity;" and as He Himself had said above, "Before
the offering is completed, be reconciled;" so He saith in this place also,
"Quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him," before thou art come to
the doors of the court; before thou standest at the bar and art come to
be thenceforth under the sway of him that judgeth. Since, before entering
in, thou hast all in thine own control but if thou set thy foot on that
threshold, thou wilt not by ever so earnest efforts be able to arrange
thy matters at thy will, having come under the constraint of another.
But what is it "to agree?" He means either, consent rather to suffer
wrong?" or, "so plead the cause, as if thou weft in the place of the other;"
that thou mayest not corrupt justice by self-love, but rather, deliberating
on another's cause as thine own, mayest so proceed to deliver thy vote
in this matter. And if this be a great thing, marvel not; since with this
view did He set forth all those His blessings, that having beforehand smoothed
and prepared the hearer's soul, he might render it apter to receive all
Now some say that He obscurely signifies the devil himself, under the
name of the adversary; and bids us have nothing of his, (for this, they
say, is to "agree" with him): no compromise being possible after our departure
hence, nor anything awaiting us, but that punishment, from which no prayers
can deliver. But to me He seems to be speaking of the judges in this world,
and of the way to the court of justice, and of this prison.
For after he had abashed men by higher things, and things future, he
alarms them also by such as are in this life. Which thing Paul also cloth,
using both the future and the present to sway his hearer: as when, deterring
from wickedness, he points out to him that is inclined to evil, the ruler
armed: thus saying, "But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for
he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God."75 And again,
enjoining us to be subject unto him, he sets forth not the fear of God
only, but the threatening also of the other party, and his watchful care.
"For ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience
sake."76 Because the more irrational, as I have already said, are wont
to be sooner corrected by these things, things which appear and are at
hand. Wherefore Christ also made mention, not of hell only, but also of
a court of justice, and of being dragged thither, and of the prison, and
of all the suffering there; by all these means destroying the roots of
murder. For he who neither reviles, nor goes to law, nor prolongs enmity,
how will he ever commit murder? So that from hence also it is evident,
that in the advantage of our neighbor stands our own advantage. For he
that agrees with his adversary, will benefit himself much more; becoming
free, by his own act, from courts of law, and prisons, and the wretchedness
that is there.
14. Let us then be obedient to His sayings; let us not oppose ourselves,
nor be contentious; for first of all, even antecedently to their rewards,
these injunctions have their pleasure and profit in themselves. And if
to the more part they seem to be burdensome. and the trouble which they
cause, great; have it in thy mind that thou art doing it for Christ's sake,
and the pain will be pleasant. For if we maintain this way of reckoning
at all times, we shall experience nothing burdensome, but great will be
the pleasure we reap from every quarter; for our toil will no longer seem
toil, but by how much it is enhanced, so much the sweeter and pleasanter
doth it grow.
When therefore the custom of evil things, and the desire of wealth,
keep on bewitching thee; do thou war against them with that mode of thinking
which tells us, "Great is the reward we shall receive, for despising the
pleasure which is but for a season;" and say to thy soul; "Art thou quite
dejected because I defraud thee of pleasure? Nay, be of good cheer, for
I am introducing thee into Heaven. Thou doest it not for man's sake, but
for God's. Be patient therefore a little while, and thou shall see how
great is the gain. Endure for the present life, and thou shalt receive
an unspeakable confidence." For if we would thus discourse with our own
soul, and not only consider that which is burdensome in virtue. but take
account also of the crown that comes thereof, we shall quickly withdraw
it from all wickedness.
For if the devil, holding out pleasure for a season, but pain for ever,
is yet strong, and prevails; seeing our case is just the reverse in these
matters, the labor temporary, the pleasure and profit immortal, what plea
shall we have, if we follow not virtue after so great encouragement? Why,
the object of our labors is enough to set against all, and our clear persuasion
that for God's sake we are enduring all this. For if one having the king
his debtor, thinks he hath sufficient security for all his life; consider
how great will he be, who hath made the Gracious and Everlasting God a
debtor to himself, for good deeds both small and great. Do not then allege
to me labors and sweats; for not by the hope only of the things to come,
but in another way also, God hath made virtue easy, assisting us everywhere,
and putting His hand to our work. And if thou wilt only contribute a little
zeal, everything else follows. For to this end He will have thee too to
labor a little, even that the victory may be thine also. And just as a
king would have his own son present indeed in the array; he would have
him shoot with the bow,77 and show himself, that the trophy may be reckoned
his, while he achieves it all Himself: even so doth God in our war against
the devil: He requires of thee one thing alone, that thou show forth a
sincere hatred against that foe. And if thou contribute this to Him, He
by Himself brings all the war to an end. Though thou burn with anger, with
desire of riches, with any tyrannical passion whatever; if He see thee
only stripping thyself and prepared against it, He comes quickly to thee,
and makes all things easy, and sets thee above the flame, as He did those
children of old in the Babylonian furnace: for they too carried in with
them nought but their good will.
In order then that we also may extinguish all the furnace of disordered
pleasure here, and so escape the hell that is there, let these each day
be our counsels, our cares, and our practice, drawing towards us the favor
of God, both by our full purpose concerning good works, and by our frequent
prayers. For thus even those things which appear insupportable now, will
be most easy, and light, and lovely. Because, so long as we are in our
passions, we think virtue rugged and morose and arduous, vice desirable
and most pleasing; but if we would stand off from these but a little, then
both vice will appear abominable and unsightly, and virtue easy, mild,
and much to be desired. And this you may learn plainly from those who have
done well. Hear, for instance, how of those passions Paul is ashamed, even
after his deliverance from them, saying, "For what fruit had ye then in
those things, whereof ye are now ashamed?"78 But virtue, even after his
labor, he affirms to be light, calling79 the laboriousness of our affliction
momentary and "light," and rejoicing in his sufferings, and glorying in
his tribulations, and taking a pride in the marks wherewith he had been
branded for Christ's sake.
In order then that we too may establish ourselves in this habit, let
us order ourselves each day by what hath been said, and "forgetting those
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are
before, let us press on towards the prize of the high calling:"80 unto
which God grant that we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever.
33 Matt. v.20.
34 Job i. 1, LXX. "That man was true, blameless, righteous,
devout, refraining from every evil deed."
35 1 Tim. i. 9.
36 There is Ms. authority for reading "of an evil one."
37 Matt. viii. 11.
38 1 Cor. xiii. 10.
39 liparo/n .
40 [This addition to Rom. viii. 1 ( "who walk," etc.),
now rejected by all critical editors, is not found in any patristic authority
older than Chrysostom. The argument abuove shows how it was added from
an assumed application to sanctification.-R.]
41 Rom. viii. 1, 2.
42 Matt. v.21.
43 Matt. v.22. [Chrysostom reads ei\kh=| in this verse,
and interprets accordingly see also Homily XVII. 2. The term is wanting
in the two oldest Mss. of the Greek Testament, and in the Vulgate. Comp.
R. V. in loco.-R.]
44 John xvii. 10.
45 St. Iren. v. 2. "Vain also are those who say that the
Lord came to what was another's, as though coveting it, in order to present
that man who had been made by another, to that God, who had neither made
nor ordered him, yea, rather, who had deserted him from men's first original
formation. His coming, therefore, is not just, coming as He did by their
account to what was none of His." [Ibid. pp. 527, 528.] In Lib. iii. 11,
he specifies Marcion as teaching this doctrine.
46 John i. 11, 10.
47 Tertull. adv. Macdon. ii. 18 ; Exod. xxi. 24. "Which
of the good rules of the law should I rather defend, than those which heresy
hath craved for her own purposes? As the rule of retaliation, requiring
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and bruise for bruise. There is no tinge
here of any permission for repaying an injury in kind, but the whole drift
of it is to restrain violence. That is, because that most stubborn and
faithless people would count it hard or even inconceivable to await God's
redress, which the prophet was afterwards to proclaim, in the words, `Vengeance
is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord 0'; the commission of wrong during
the interval was to be in a manner smothered by the fear of immedtate retribution."
[ Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.III. p. 311.] St. Augustin (contr. Adim. c.
8), says the same in reply to the Manich'ans.3.
48 ["And to thieves" should be inserted here. The omission
was probably accidental.-R.]
49 Jer. xxxi. 31, 32.
50 Because they denied the authority of the Old Testament,
but received the New, including St. Paul's Epistles.
51 Gal. iv. 22. 4.
52 Matt. v. 39.
53 See Bp. Butler's Sermon on Resentment.
54 Rom. xii. 19.
55 1 Cor. vi. 7.
56 Ps. iv. 5, LXX., comp. Eph. iv. 26."Stand in awe, and
sin not," in our version. Another part of the same Hebrew verb is, however,
rendered "rage" in our translation: 2 Kings xix. 27, 28; Is. xxxvii. 28,
29. [The R. V. has the marginal rendering, "Be ye angry," in Ps. iv. 5.
In Eph. iv. 26, the LXX. is accurately cited.-R.]
57 [The original repeats the emphatic and contemptuous
58 [ei0j th\n he/ennan tou= puroj. Comp. R. V. in loco.-R.]
59 [One Ms. adds here kai\ a0nairein ("and murdering").
The words are bracketed in Field's Greek text while the Latin version has
61 o9 ma/lista du/natai da/knein.
62 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.
63 Matt. xxiv. 12. [ "Shall be multiplied" is a more exact
rendering of the verb in the first clause. Comp. R. V.-R.]
64 a!elqe, St. Chrys. u#page, rec. text. [There is no
Mss. authority for the former reading in the New Testament passage, but
the authorities for the text of the Homilies are divided between a!pelqe
65 Matt. v.23, 24.
66 sunelo/nta to\ porkei/mena. Mr. Field translates this,
"quickly doing the work in hand:" alleging that the word sunairei=n cannot
well stand for "removing." But its strict meaning seems to be "to pack
up," or "put into a small compass." So Odyss. xx. 95. xlai=nan me\n sunelw\n
kai\ kw/mea, poi=sin e!neuden. And this meaning suits well enough with
the word prokei/mena, taken in its liturgical sense. [The technical sense
of the verb is "to contract," and the context favors Field's view. The
command was neither "after hastening through the service (Latin, nec propere
confecto sacrificio) nor before beginning it."-R.]
67 [th\n a0ga/phn, properly rendered "love" in the next
69 Ps. l.23.
70 Ps. l. 14.
71 Ps. cxli. 2.
72 2 Cor. v. 19.
73 Eph. iv. 26.
74 Matt. v. 25.
75 Rom. xiii. 4.
76 Rom v. 5.
77 [This clause is not found in the Greek text of Field,
nor noticed in the critical notes. The Latin version has jacula viorare,
and was probably inadvertently followed by the translator.-R.]
78 Rom. vi. 21.
79 2 Cor. iv. 17, xii. 10; Rom. v. 3; Gal. vi. 17; Col.
80 Phil. iii. 13, 14.