Portion of Homily XXIII
Chap. x. ver. 1. "For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant."
Now this he said, implying that they were not very well instructed in
these things. And what is this which thou wouldest not have us ignorant
Ver. 1-5 "That our fathers," saith he, "were all under the cloud,
and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the
cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did
all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual Rock
that followed them: and the Rock was Christ. Howbeit with most of them
God was not well pleased."
And wherefore saith he these things? To point out that as they were
nothing profited by the enjoyment of so great a gift, so neither these
by obtaining Baptism and partaking of spiritual Mysteries, except they
go on and show forth a life worthy of this grace. Wherefore also he introduces
the types both of Baptism and of the Mysteries.
But what is, "They were baptized into Moses?" Like as we, on our belief
in Christ and His resurrection, are baptized, as being destined in our
own persons to partake in the same mysteries; for, "we are baptized," saith
he, "for the dead," i.e., for our own bodies; even so they putting confidence
in Moses, i.e., having seen him cross first, ventured also themselves into
the waters. But because he wishes to bring the Type near the Truth; he
speaks it not thus, but uses the terms of the Truth even concerning the
Further: this was a symbol of the Font, and that which follows, of the
Holy Table. For as thou eatest the Lord's Body, so they the manna: and
as thou drinkest the Blood, so they water from a rock. For though they
were things of sense which were produced, yet were they spiritually exhibited,
not according to the order of nature, but according to the gracious intention
of the gift, and together with the body nourished also the soul, leading
it unto faith. On this account, you see, touching the food he made no remark,
for it was entirely different, not in mode only but in nature also; (for
it was manna;) but respecting the drink, since the manner only of the supply
was extraordinary and required proof, therefore having said that "they
drank the same spiritual drink," he added, "for they drank of a spiritual
Rock that followed them," and he subjoined, "and the Rock was Christ."
For it was not the nature of the rock which sent forth the water, (such
is his meaning,) else would it as well have gushed out before this time:
but another sort of Rock, a spiritual One, performed the whole, even Christ
who was every where with them and wrought all the wonders. For on this
account he said, "that followed them"
Perceivest thou the wisdom of Paul, how in both cases he points cut
Him as the Giver, and thereby brings the Type nigh to the Truth? "For He
who set those things before them," saith he, "the same also hath prepared
this our Table: and the same Person both brought them through the sea and
thee through Baptism; and before them set manna, but before thee His Body
[4.] As touching His gift then, such is the case: now let us observe
also what follows, and consider, whether when they showed themselves unworthy
of the gift, He spared them. Nay, this thou canst not say. Wherefore also
he added, "Howbeit with most of them God was not well-pleased;" although
He had honored them with so great honor. Yea, it profited them nothing,
but most of them perished. The truth is, they all perished, but that he
might not seem to prophesy total destruction to these also, therefore he
said, "most of them." And yet they were innumerable, but their number profited
them nothing: and these were all so many tokens of love; but not even did
this profit them, inasmuch as they did not themselves show forth the fruits
Thus, since most men disbelieve the things said of hell, as not being
present nor in sight; he alleges the things heretofore done as a proof
that God doth punish all who sin, even though He have bestowed innumerable
benefits upon them: "for if ye disbelieve the things to come," so he speaks,
"yet surely the things that are past ye will not disbelieve." Consider,
for example, how great benefits He bestowed on them: from Egypt and the
slavery there He set them free, the sea He made their path, from heaven
he brought down manna, from beneath He sent forth strange and marvellous
fountains of waters; He was with them every where, doing wonders and fencing
them in on every side: nevertheless since they showed forth nothing worthy
of this gift, He spared them not, but destroyed them all.
Ver. 5. "For they were overthrown," saith he, "in the wilderness."
Declaring by this word both the sweeping destruction, and the punishments
and the vengeance inflicted by God, and that they did not so much as attain
to the rewards proposed to them. Neither were they in the land of promise
when He did these things unto them, but without and afar somewhere, and
wide of that country; He thus visiting them with a double vengeance, both
by not permitting them to see the land, and this too though promised unto
them, and also by actual severe punishment.
And what are these things to us? say you. To thee surely they belong.
Wherefore also he adds,
Ver. 6. "Now these things were figures of us."
For as the gifts are figures, even so are the punishments figures: and
as Baptism and the Table were sketched out prophetically, so also by what
ensued, the certainty of punishment coming on those who are unworthy of
this gift was proclaimed beforehand for our sake that we by these examples
might learn soberness. Wherefore also he adds,
"To the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also
lusted." For as in the benefits the types went before and the substance
followed, such shall be the order also in the punishments. Seest thou how
he signifies not only the fact that these shall be punished, but also the
degree, more severely than those ancients? For if the one be type, and
the other substance, it must needs be that the punishments should as far
exceed as the gifts.
And see whom he handles first: those who eat in the idol-temples. For
having said, "that we should not lust after evil things," which was general,
he subjoins that which is particular, implying that each of their sins
arose from evil lusting. And first he said this,
Ver. 7. "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is
written, `the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.'"
Do you hear how he even calls them "idolaters?" here indeed making the
declaration, but afterwards bringing the proof. And he assigned the cause
too wherefore they ran to those tables; and this was gluttony. Wherefore
having said, "to the intent that we should not lust after evil things,"
and having added, nor "be idolaters," he names the cause of such transgression;
and this was gluttony. "For the people sat down," saith he, "to eat and
to drink," and he adds the end thereof, "they rose up to play." "For even
as they," saith he, "from sensuality passed into idolatry; so there is
a fear lest ye also may fall from the one into the other." Do you see how
he signifies that these, perfect men forsooth, were more imperfect than
the others whom they censured? Not in this respect only, their not bearing
with their brethren throughout, but also in that the one sin from ignorance,
but the others from gluttony. And from the ruin of the former he reckons
the punishment to these, but allows not these to lay upon another the cause
of their own sin but pronounces them responsible both for their injury,
and for their own.
"Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed."
Wherefore doth he here make mention of fornication. again, having so largely
discoursed concerning it before? It is ever Paul's custom when he brings
a charge of many sins, both to set them forth in order and separately to
proceed with his proposed topics, and again in his discourses concerning
other things to make mention also of the former: which thing God also used
to do in the Old Testament, in reference to each several transgression,
reminding the Jews of the calf and bringing that sin before them. This
then Paul also does here, at the same time both reminding them of that
sin, and teaching that the parent of this evil also was luxury and gluttony.
Wherefore also he adds, "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of
them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand."
And wherefore names he not likewise the punishment for their idolatry?
Either because it was clear and more notorious, or because the plague was
not so great at that time, as in the matter of Balaam, when they joined
themselves to Baalpeor, the Midianifish women appearing in the camp and
alluring them to wantonness according to the counsel of Balaam. For that
this evil counsel was Balaam's Moses sheweth after this, in the following
statement at the end of the Book of Numbers. (Numbers chapter 31, verse
8; Numbers chapter 31, verse 11; Numbers chapter 31, verse 15; Numbers
chapter 31, verse 16, in our translation.) "Balaam also the son of Beor
they slew in the war of Midian with the sword and they brought the spoils.
... And Moses was wroth, and said, Wherefore have ye saved all the women
alive? For these were to the children of Israel for a stumbling-block,
according to the word of Balaam, to cause them to depart from and despise
the word of the Lord for Peor's sake."
Ver. 9. "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted,
and perished by serpents."
By this he again hints at another charge which he likewise states at
the end, blaming them because they contended about signs. And indeed they
were destroyed on account of trials, saying, "when will the good things
come? when the rewards?" Wherefore also he adds, on this account correcting
and alarming them,
Ver. 10. "Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished
by the destroyer."
For what is required is not only to suffer for Christ, but also nobly
to bear the things that come on us, and with all gladness: since this is
the nature of every crown. Yea, and unless this be so, punishment rather
will attend men who take calamity with a bad grace. Wherefore, both the
Apostles when they were beaten rejoiced, and Paul gloried in his sufferings.
[5.] Ver. 11. "Now all these things happened unto them by way of
example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of
the ages are come."
Again he terrifies them speaking of the "ends," and prepares them to
expect things greater than had already taken place. "For that we shall
suffer punishment is manifest," saith he, "from what hath been said, even
to those who disbelieve the statements concerning hell-fire; but that the
punishment also will be most severe, is evident, from the more numerous
blessings which we have enjoyed, and from the things of which those were
but figures. Since, if in the gifts one go beyond the other, it is most
evident that so it will be in the punishment likewise." For this cause
he both called them types, and said that they were "written for us" and
made mention of an "end" that he might remind them of the consummation
of all things. For not such will be the penalties then as to admit of a
termination and be done away, but the punishment will be eternal; for even
as the punishments in this world are ended with the present life, so those
in the next continually remain. But when he said, "the ends of the ages,"
he means nothing else than that the fearful judgment is henceforth nigh
Ver. 12. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest
Again, he casts down their pride who thought highly of their knowledge.
For if they who had so great privileges suffered such things; and some
for murmuring alone were visited with such punishment, and others for tempting,
and neither their multitude moved God to repent, nor their having attained
to such things; much more shall it be so in our case, except we be sober.
And well said he, "he that thinketh he standeth:" for this is not even
standing as one ought to stand, to rely on yourself: for quickly will such
an one fall: since they too, had they not been high-minded and self-confident,
but of a subdued frame of mind, would not have suffered these things. Whence
it is evident, that chiefly pride, and carelessness from which comes gluttony
also, are the sources of these evils. Wherefore even though thou stand,
yet take heed lest thou fall. For our standing here is not secure standing,
no not until we be delivered out of the waves of this present life and
have sailed into the tranquil haven. Be not therefore high-minded at thy
standing, but guard against thy falling; for if Paul feared who was firmer
than all, much more ought we to fear.
[6.] Now the Apostle's word, as we have seen, was, "Wherefore let him
that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" but we cannot say even
this; all of us, so to speak, having fallen, and lying prostrate on the
ground. For to whom am I to say this? To him that committeth extortion
every day? Nay, he lies prostrate with a mighty fall. To the fornicator?
He too is cast down to the ground. To the drunkard? He also is fallen,
and knoweth not even that he is fallen. So that it is not the season for
this word, but for that saying of the prophet which he spake even to the
Jews, (Jeremiah chapter 8 verse 4)-"He that falleth, doth he not rise again?"
For all are fallen, and to rise again they have no mind. So that our exhortation
is not concerning the not falling, but concerning the ability of them that
are fallen to arise. Let us rise again then, late though it be, beloved,
let us rise again, and let us stand nobly. How long do we lie prostrate?
How long are we dranken, besotted with the excessive desire of the things
of this life? It is a meet opportunity now to say, (Jeremiah chapter 6,
verse 10) "To whom shall I speak and testify?" So deaf are all men become
even to the very instruction of virtue, and thence filled with abundance
of evils. And were it possible to discern their souls naked; as in armies
when the battle is ended one may behold some dead, and some wounded, so
also in the Church we might see. Wherefore I beseech and implore you, let
us stretch out a hand to each other and thoroughly raise ourselves up.
For I myself am of them that are smitten, and require one to apply some
Do not however despair on this account. For what if the wounds be severe?
yet are they not incurable; such is our physician: only let us feel our
wounds. Although we be arrived at the very extreme of wickedness, many
are the ways of safety which He strikes out for us. Thus, if thou forbear
to be angry with thy neighbor, thine own sins shall be forgiven. "For if
ye forgive men," saith He, "your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
(Matthew chapter 6, verse 14) And if thou give alms, He will remit thee
thy sins; for, "break off thy sins," saith He, "by alms." (Daniel chapter
4, verse 24) And if thou pray earnestly, thou shalt enjoy forgiveness:
and this the widow signifieth who prevailed upon that cruel judge by the
importunity of her prayer. And if thou accuse thine own sins, thou hast
relief: for "declare thou thine iniquities first, that thou mayest be justified:"
(Isaiah chapter 47, verse 26) and if thou art sorrowful on account of these
things, this too will be to thee a powerful remedy: "for I saw," saith
He, "that he was grieved and went sorrowful, and I healed his ways." (Isaiah
chapter 57, verse 17) And if, when thou sufferest any evil, thou bear it
nobly, thou hast put away the whole. For this also did Abraham say to the
rich man, that "Lazarus received his evil things, and here he is comforted."
And if thou hast pity on the widow, thy sins are washed away. For, "Judge,"
saith He, "the orphan, and plead for the widow, and come and let us reason
together, saith the Lord. And if your sins be as scarlet, I will make them
white as snow; and if they be as crimson, I will make them white as wool."
(Isaiah chapter 1, verse 17) For not even a single scar of the wounds doth
He suffer to appear. Yea, and though we be come to that depth of misery
into which he fell, who devoured his father's substance and fed upon husks,
and should repent, we are undoubtedly saved. And though we owe ten thousand
talents, if we fall down before God and bear no malice, all things are
forgiven us. Although we have wandered away to that place whither the sheep
strayed from his keeper, even thence He recovers us again: only let us
be willing, beloved. For God is merciful. Wherefore both in the case of
him that owed ten thousand talents, He was content with His falling down
before Him; and in the case of him who had devoured his father's goods,
with his return only; and in the case of the sheep, with its willingness
to be borne.
[7.] Considering therefore the greatness of His mercy, let us here make
Him propitious unto us, and "let us come before His face by a full confession,"
(Psalms chapter 95, verse 2 LXX.) that we may not depart hence without
excuse, and have to endure the extreme punishment. For if in the present
life we exhibit even an ordinary diligence, we shall gain the greatest
rewards: but if we depart having become nothing better here, even though
we repent ever so earnestly there it will do us no good. For it was our
duty to strive while yet remaining within the lists, not after the assembly
was broken up idly to lament and weep: as that rich man did, bewailing
and deploring himself, but to no purpose and in vain, since he overlooked
the time in which he ought to have done these things. And not he alone,
but many others there are like him now among the rich; not willing to despise
wealth, but despising their own souls for wealth's sake: at whom I cannot
but wonder, when I see men continually interceding with God for mercy,
whilst they are doing themselves incurable harm, and unsparing of their
very soul as if it were an enemy. Let us not then trifle, beloved, let
us not trifle nor delude ourselves, beseeching God to have mercy upon us,
whilst we ourselves prefer both money and luxury, and, in fact, all things
to this mercy. For neither, if any one brought before thee a case and said
in accusation of such an one, that being to suffer ten thousand deaths
and having it in his power to rid himself of the sentence by a little money,
he chose rather to die than to give up any of his property, would you say
that he was worthy of any mercy or compassion. Now in this same way do
thou also reason touching thyself. For we too act in this way, and making
light of our own salvation, we are sparing of our money. How then dost
thou beseech God to spare thee, when thou thyself art so unsparing of thyself,
and honorest money above thy soul?
Wherefore also I am greatly astonished to see, how great witchery lies
hid in wealth, or rather not in wealth, but in the souls of those that
are beguiled. For there are, there are those that utterly derided this
sorcery. For which among the things therein is really capable of bewitching
us? Is it not inanimate matter? is it not transitory? is not the possession
thereof unworthy of trust? is it not full of fears and? dangers? nay, of
murders and conspiracy? of enmity and hatred? of carelessness and much
vice? is it not dust and ashes? what madness have we here? what disease?
"But,"say you, "we ought not merely to bring such accusations against
those that are so diseased, but also to destroy the passion." And in what
other way shall we destroy it, except by pointing out its baseness and
how full it is of innumerable evils?
But of this it is not easy to persuade a lover concerning the objects
of his love. Well then, we must set before him another sort of beauty.
But incorporeal beauty he sees not, being yet in his disease. Well then,
let us show him some beauty of a corporeal kind, and say to him, Consider
the meadows and the flowers therein, which are more sparkling than any
gold, and more elegant and transparent than all kinds of precious stones.
Consider the limpid streams from their fountains, the rivers which like
oil flow noiselessly out of the earth. Ascend to heaven and behold the
lustre of the sun, the beauty of the moon, the stars that cluster like
flowers. "Why, what is this," say you, "since we do not, I suppose, make
use of them as of wealth?" Nay, we use them mere than wealth, inasmuch
as the use thereof is more needful, the enjoyment more secure. For thou
hast no fear, lest, like money, any one should take them and go off: but
you may be ever confident of having them, and that without anxiety or care.
But if thou grieve because thou enjoy-est them in common with others, and
dost not possess them alone like money; it is not money, but mere covetousness,
which thou seemest to me to be in love with: nor would even the money be
an object of thy desire, if it had been placed within reach of all in common.
[8.] Therefore, since we have found the beloved object, I mean Covetousness,
come let me show thee how she hates and abhors thee, how many swords she
sharpens against thee, how many pits she digs, how many nooses she ties,
how many precipices she prepares; that thus at any rate thou mayest do
away with the charm. Whence then are we to obtain this knowledge? From
the highways, from the wars, from the sea, from the courts of justice.
For she hath both filled the sea with blood, and the swords of the judges
she often reddens contrary to law, and arms those who on the highway lie
in wait day and night, and persuades men to forget nature, and makes parricides
and matricides, and introduces all sorts of evils into man's life. Which
is the reason why Paul entitles her "a root of these things."(1 Timothy
chapter 6, verse 10) She suffers not her lovers to be in any better condition
than those who work in the mines. For as they, perpetually shut up in darkness
and in chains, labor unprofitably; so also these buried in the caves of
avarice, no one using any force with them, voluntarily draw on their punishment,
binding on themselves fetters that cannot be broken. And those condemned
to the mines. at least when even comes on, are released from their toils;
but these both by day and night are digging in these wretched mines. And
to those there is a definite limit of that hard labor, but these know no
limit, but the more they dig so much the greater hardship do they desire.
And what if those do it unwillingly, but these of their own will? in that
thou tellest me of the grievous part of the disease, that it is even impossible
for them to be rid of it, since they do not so much as hate their wretchedness.
But as a swine in mud, so also do these delight to wallow in the noisome
mire of avarice, suffering worse things than those condemned ones. As to
the fact that they are in a worse condition, hear the circumstances of
the one, and then thou wilt know the state of the other.
Now it is said that that soil which is impregnated with gold has certain
clefts and recesses in those gloomy caverns. The malefactor then condemned
to labor in that place, taking for that purpose a lamp and a mattock, so,
we are told, enters within, and carries with him a cruse to drop oil from
thence into the lamp, because there is darkness even by day, without a
ray of light, as I said before. Then when the time of day calls him to
his wretched meal, himself, they say, is ignorant of the time, but his
jailor from above striking violently on the cave, by that clattering sound
declares to those who are at work below the end of the day.
Do ye not shudder when ye hear all this? Let us see now, whether there
be not things more grievous than these in the case of the covetous. For
these too, in the first place, have a severer jailor, viz. avarice, and
so much severer, as that besides their body he chains also their soul.
And this darkness also is more awful than that. For it is not subject to
sense, but they producing it within, whithersoever they go, carry it about
with themselves. For the eye of their soul is put out: which is the reason
why more than all Christ calls them wretched, saying, "But if the light
that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." (S. Matthew chapter
6, verse 23) And they for their part have at least a lamp Shining, but
these are deprived even of this beam of light; and therefore every day
they fall into countless pitfalls. And the condemned when night overtakes
them have a respite, sailing into that calm port which is common to all
the unfortunate, I mean the night: but against the covetous even this harbor
is blocked up by their own avarice: such grievous thoughts have they even
at night, since then, without disturbance from any one, at full leisure
they cut themselves to pieces.
Such are their circumstances in this world; but those in the next, what
discourse shall exhibit? the intolerable furnaces, the rivers burning with
fire, the gnashing of teeth, the chains never to be loosed, the envenomed
worm, the rayless gloom, the never-ending miseries. Let us fear them, beloved,
let us fear the fountain of so great punishments, the insatiate madness,
the destroyer of our salvation. For it is impossible at the same time to
love both money and your soul. Let us be convinced that wealth is dust
and ashes, that it leaves us when we depart hence, or rather that even
before our departure it oftentimes darts away from us, and injures us both
in regard of the future and in respect of the present life. For before
hell fire, and before that punishment, even here it surrounds us with innumerable
wars, and stirs up strifes and contests. For nothing is so apt to cause
war as avarice: nothing so apt to produce beggary, whether it show itself
in wealth or in poverty. For in the souls of poor men also this grievous
disease ariseth, and aggravates their poverty the more. And if there be
found a poor covetous man, such an one suffers not punishment in money,
but in hunger. For he allows not himself to enjoy his moderate means with
comfort, but both racks his belly with hunger and punishes his whole body
with nakedness and cold, and every where appears more squalid and filthy
than any prisoners; and is always wailing and lamenting as though he were
more wretched than all, though there be ten thousand poorer than he. This
man, whether he go into the market-place, goes away with many a stripe;
or into the bath, or into the theatre, he will still be receiving more
wounds, not only from the spectators, but also from those upon the stage,
where he beholds not a few of the unchaste women glittering in gold. This
man again, whether he sail upon the sea, regarding the merchants and their
richly-freighted ships and their enormous profits, will not even count
himself to live: or whether he travel by land, reckoning up the fields,
the suburban farms, the inns, the baths, the revenues arising out of them,
will count his own life thenceforth not worth living; or whether thou shut
him up at home, he will but rub and fret the wounds received in the market,
and so do greater despite to his own soul: and he knows only one consolation
for the evils which oppress him; death and deliverance from this life.
And these things not the poor man only, but the rich also, will suffer,
who falls into this disease, and so much more than the poor, inasmuch as
the tyranny presses more vehemently on him, and the intoxication is greater.
Wherefore also he will account himself poorer than all; or rather, he is
poorer. For riches and poverty are determined not by the measure of the
substance, but by the disposition of the mind: and he rather is the poorest
of all, who is always hangering after more and is never able to stay this
Portion of Homily XXIV
1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13 There hath no temptation taken
you, but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer
you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation
make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
Thus, because he terrified them greatly, relating the ancient examples,
and threw them into an agony, saying, "Let him that thinketh he standeth
take heed lest he fall; "though they had borne many temptations, and had
exercised themselves many times therein; for "I was with you," saith he,
"in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling:" (1 Corinthians chapter
2, verse 3) lest they should say, "Why terrify and alarm us? we are not
unexercised in these troubles, for we have been both driven and persecuted,
and many and continual dangers have we endured:" repressing again their
pride, he says, "there hath no temptation taken you but such as man can
bear," i.e.,small, brief, moderate. For he uses the expression "man can
bear,'' in respect of what is small; as when he says, "I speak after the
manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh." (Romans chapter
6, verse 19) "Think not then great things," saith he, "as though ye had
overcome the storm. For never have ye seen a danger threatening death nor
a temptation intending slaughter:" which also he said to the Hebrews, "ye
have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Hebrews chapter
12, verse 4)
Then, because he terrified them, see how again he raises them up, at
the same time recommending moderation; in the words, "God is faithful,
Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." There are
therefore temptations which we are not able to bear. And what are these?
All, so to speak. For the ability lies in God's gracious influence; a power
which we draw down by our own will. Wherefore that thou mayest know and
see that not only those which exceed our power, but not even these which
are "common to man" is it possible without assistance from God easily to
bear, he added,
"But will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that ye may
be able to endure it."
For, saith he, not even those moderate temptations, as I was remarking,
may we bear by our own power: but even in them we require aid from Him
in our warfare that we may pass through them, and until we have passed,
bear them. For He gives patience and brings on a speedy release; so that
in this way also the temptation becomes bearable. This he covertly imtimates,
saying, "will also make the way of escape, that ye may be able to bear
it:" and all things he refers to Him.
[2.] Ver. 14. "Wherefore, my brethren, flee from idolatry."
Again he courts them by the name of kindred, and urges them to be rid
of this sin with all speed. For he did not say, simply, depart, but "flee;"
and he calls the matter "idolatry," and no longer bids them quit it merely
on account of the injury to their neighbor, but signifies that the very
thing of itself is sufficient to bring a great destruction.
Ver. 15. "I speak as to wise men: judge ye what I say."
Because he hath cried out aloud and heightened the accusation, calling
it idolatry; that he might not seem to exasperate them and to make his
speech disgusting, in what follows he refers the decision to them, and
sets his judges down on their tribunal with an encomium. "For I speak as
to wise men," saith he: which is the mark of one very confident of his
own rights, that he should make the accused himself the judge of his allegations.
Thus also he more elevates the hearer, when he discourses not as commanding
nor as laying down the law, but as advising with them and as actually pleading
before them. For with the Jews, as more foolishly and childishly disposed,
God did not so discourse, nor did He in every instance acquaint them with
the reasons of the commands, but merely enjoined them; but here, because
we have the privilege of great liberty, we are even admitted to be counsellors.
And he discourses as with friends, and says, "I need no other judges, do
ye yourselves pass this sentence upon me, I take you for arbiters."
[3.] Ver. 16. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion
of the Blood of Christ?"
What sayest thou, O blessed Paul? When thou wouldest appeal to the hearer's
reverence, when thou art making mention of awful mysteries, dost thou give
the title of "cup of blessing" to that fearful and most tremendous cup?
"Yea," saith he; "and no mean title is that which was spoken. For when
I call it `blessing,' I mean thanksgiving, and when I call it thanksgiving
I unfold all the treasure of God's goodness, and call to mind those mighty
gifts." Since we too, recounting over the cup the unspeakable mercies of
God and all that we have been made partakers of, so draw near to Him, and
communicate; giving Him thanks that He hath delivered from error the whole
race of mankind; that being afar off, He made them nigh; that when they
had no hope and were without God in the world, He constituted them His
own brethren and fellow-heirs. For these and all such things, giving thanks,
thus we approach. "How then are not your doings inconsistent," saith he,
"O ye Corinthians; blessing God for delivering you from idols, yet running
again to their tables?"
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the
Blood of Christ?". Very persuasively spake he, and awfully. For what
he says is this: "This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His
side, and of that do we partake." But he called it a cup of blessing, because
holding it in our hands, we so exalt Him in our hymn, wondering, astonished
at His unspeakable gift, blessing Him, among other things, for the pouring
out of this self-same draught that we might not abide in error: and not
only for the pouring it out, but also for the imparting thereof to us all.
"Wherefore if thou desire blood," saith He, "redden not the altar of idols
with the slaughter of brute beasts, but My altar with My blood." Tell me,
What can be more tremendous than this? What more tenderly kind? This also
lovers do. When they see those whom they love desiring what belongs to
strangers and despising their own, they give what belongs to themselves,
and so persuade them to withdraw themselves from the gifts of those others.
Lovers, however, display this liberality in goods and money and garments,
but in blood none ever did so. Whereas Christ even herein exhibited His
care and fervent love for us. And in the old covenant, because they were
in an imperfect state, the blood which they used to offer to idols He Himself
submitted to receive, that He might separate them from those idols; which
very thing again was a proof of His unspeakable affection: but here He
transferred the service to that which is far more awful and glorious, changing
the very sacrifice itself, and instead of the slaughter of irrational creatures,
commanding to offer up Himself.
[4.] "The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the Body
of Christ?" Wherefore said he not, the participation? Because he intended
to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in
that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by
being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united
to him by this bread.
But why adds he also, "which we break?" For although in the Eucharist
one may see this done, yet on the cross not so, but the very contrary.
For, "A bone of Him," saith one, "shall not be broken." But that which
He suffered not on the cross, this He suffers in the oblation for thy sake,
and submits to be broken, that he may fill all men.
Further, because he said, "a communion of the Body," and that which
communicates is another thing from that whereof it communicates; even this
which seemeth to be but a small difference, he took away. For having said,
"a communion of the Body," he sought again to express something nearer.
Wherefore also he added,
Ver. 17. "For we, who are many, are one bread, one body." "For
why speak I of communion?" saith he, "we are that self-same body." For
what is the bread? The Body of Christ. And what do they become who partake
of it? The Body of Christ: not many bodies, but one body. For as the bread
consisting of many grains is made one, so that the grains no where appear;
they exist indeed, but their difference is not seen by reason of their
conjunction; so are we conjoined both with each other and with Christ:
there not being one body for thee, and another for thy neighbor to be nourished
by, but the very same for all. Wherefore also he adds,
"For we all partake of the one bread." Now if we are all nourished
of the same and all become the same, why do we not also show forth the,
same love, and become also in this respect one? For this was the old way
too in the time of our forefathers: "for the multitude of them that believed,"
saith the text, "were of one heart and soul." (Acts chapter 4, verse 32)
Not so, however, now, but altogether the reverse. Many and various are
the contests betwixt all, and worse than wild beasts are we affected towards
each other's members. And Christ indeed made thee so far remote, one with
himself: but thou dost not deign to be united even to thy brother with
due exactness, but separatest thyself, having had the privilege of so great
love and life from the Lord. For he gave not simply even His own body;
but because the former nature of the flesh which was framed out of earth,
had first become deadened by sin and destitute of life; He brought in,
as one may say, another sort of dough and leaven, His own flesh, by nature
indeed the same, but free from sin and full of life; and gave to all to
partake thereof, that being nourished by this and laying aside the old
dead material, we might be blended together unto that which is living and
eternal, by means of this table.