1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 1 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse
2. Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached
unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand; by which also
ye are saved: in what words I preached it unto you.
Having finished the discourse of spiritual gifts, he passes to that
which is of all most necessary, the subject of the resurrection. For in
this too they were greatly unsound. And as in men's bodies, when the fever
lays actual hold of their solid parts, I mean the nerves and the veins
and the primary elements, the mischief becomes incurable unless it receive
much attention; just so at that time also it was like to happen. Since
to the very elements of godliness the mischief was proceeding. Wherefore
also Paul uses great earnestness. For not of morals was his discourse henceforth
nor about one man's being a fornicator, another covetous, and another having
his head covered; but about the very sum of all good things. For touching
the resurrection itself they were at variance. Because this being all our
hope, against this point did the devil make a vehement stand, and at one
time he was wholly subverting it, at another his word was that it was "past
already;" which also Paul writing to Timothy called a gangrene, I mean,
this wicked doctrine, and those that brought it in he branded, saying,
"Of whom is Hymenoeus and Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred,
saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of
some." (2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 17 and 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 18)
At one time then they said thus, but at another that the body rises not
again but the purification of the soul is the resurrection.
But these things that wicked demon persuaded them to say, not wishing
to overturn the resurrection only, but also to show that all the things
done for our sakes are a fable. For if they were persuaded that there is
no resurrection of bodies, he would have gradually persuaded them that
neither was Christ raised. And thereupon he would introduce also this in
due course, that He had not come nor had done what He did. For such is
the craft of the devil. Wherefore also Paul calls it "cunning craftiness,"
because he doth not straightway signify what he intends to effect, for
fear of being detected, but dressing himself up in a mask of one kind,
he fabricates arts of another kind: and like a crafty enemy attacking a
city with walls, he secretly undermines it from below: so as thereby to
be hardly guarded against and to succeed in his endeavors. Therefore such
snares on his part being continually detected, and these his crafty ambushes
hunted out by this admirable and mighty man, he said, "For we are not ignorant
of his devices." (2 Corinthians chapter 2, verse 11) So also here he unfolds
his whole guile and points out all his stratagems, and whatsoever he would
fain effect, Paul puts before us, with much exactness going over all. Yea,
and therefore he put this head after the rest, both because it was extremely
necessary and because it involves the whole of our condition.
And observe his consideration: how first having secured his own, he
then proceeds even beyond in his discourse, and them that are without he
doth abundantly reduce to silence. Now he secures his own, not by reasonings,
but by things which had already happened and which themselves had received
and believed to have taken place: a thing which was most of all apt to
shame them, and capable of laying hold on them. Since if they were unwilling
to believe after this, it was no longer Paul but themselves they would
disbelieve: which thing was a censure on those who had once for all received
it and changed their minds. For this cause then he begins also from hence,
implying that he needs no other witnesses to prove his speaking truth,
but those very persons who were deceived.
[2.] But that what I say may become clearer, we must needs in what follows
attend to the very words. What then are these? "I make known unto you,
brethren," saith he, "the gospel which I preached unto you." Seest thou
with what modesty he commences? Seest thou how from the beginning he points
out that he is bringing in no new nor strange thing? For he who "maketh
known" that which was already known but afterwards had fallen into oblivion,
"maketh known" by recalling it into memory.
And when he called them "brethren," even from hence he laid the foundation
of no mean part of the proof of his assertions. For by no other cause became
we "brethren," but by the dispensation of Christ according to the flesh.
And this is just the reason why he thus called them, at the same time soothing
and courting them, and likewise reminding them of their innumerable blessings.
And what comes next again is demonstrative of the same. What then is
this? "The gospel." For the sum of the gospels hath its original hence,
from God having become man and having been crucified and having risen again.
This gospel also Gabriel preached to the Virgin, this also the prophets
to the world, this also the apostles all of them.
"Which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye
stand. By which also ye are saved, in what word I preached unto you; if
ye hold it fast, except ye believed in vain."
Seest thou how he calls themselves to be witnesses of the things spoken?
And he saith not, "which ye heard," but, "which ye received," demanding
it of them as a kind of deposit, and showing that not in word only, but
also by deeds and signs and wonders they received it, and that they should
hold it safe.
Next, because he was speaking of the things long past, he referred also
to the present time, saying, "wherein also ye stand," taking the vantage
ground of them that disavowal might be out of their power, though they
wished it never so much. And this is why at the beginning he said not,
"I teach you," but, 'I make known unto you' what hath already been made
And how saith he that they who were so tossed with waves "stand?" He
feigns ignorance to profit them; which also he doth in the case of the
Galatians, but not in like manner. For inasmuch as he could not in that
case affect ignorance, he frames his address in another way, saying, "I
have confidence toward yon in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise
minded." (Galatians chapter 5, verse 10) He said not, "that ye were none
otherwise minded," because their fault was acknowledged and evident, but
he answers for the future; and yet this too was uncertain; but it was to
draw them to him more effectually. Here however he doth feign ignorance,
saying, "wherein also ye stand."
Then comes the advantage; "by which also ye are saved, in what words
I preached it unto you." "So then, this present exposition is for doctrine
clearness and interpretation. For the doctrine itself ye need not," saith
he, "to learn, but to be reminded of it and corrected." And these things
he saith, leaving them no room to plunge into recklessness once for all.
But what is, "in what word I preached it unto you?" After what manner
did I say," saith he, "that the resurrection takes place? For that there
is a resurrection I would not say that ye doubt: but ye seek perhaps to
obtain a clearer knowledge of that saying. This then will I provide for
you: for indeed I am well assured that ye hold the doctrine." Next, because
he was directly affirming, "wherein also ye stand;" that he might not thereby
make them more remiss, he alarms them again, saying, "If ye hold it fast,
except ye believed in vain;" intimating that the stroke is on the chief
head, and the contest for no common things but in behalf of the whole of
the faith. And for the present he saith it with reserve, but as he goes
on and waxes warm, he throws off the veil and proceeds to cry out and say,
"But if Christ hath not been raised then is our preaching vain, your faith
also is vain: ye are yet in your sins:" but in the beginning not so: for
thus it was expedient to proceed, gently and by degrees.
Ver. 3. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also
Neither here doth he say, "I said unto you," nor, "I taught you," but
uses the same expression gain, saying, "I delivered unto you that which
also I received:" nor again here doth he say, "I was taught," but, "I received:"
establishing these two things; first, that one ought to introduce nothing
from one's self; next, that by demonstration from his deeds they were fully
persuaded, not by bare words: and by degrees while he is rendering his
argument credible, he refers the whole to Christ, and signifies that nothing
was of man in these doctrines.
But what is this, "For I delivered unto you first of all?" for that
is his word. "In the beginning, not now." And thus saying he brings the
time for a witness, and that it were the greatest disgrace for those who
had so long time been persuaded now to change their minds: and not this
only, but also that the doctrine is necessary. Wherefore also it was "delivered"
among "the first," and from the beginning straightway. And what didst thou
so deliver? tell me. But this he doth not say straightway, but first, "I
received." And what didst thou receive? "That Christ died for our sins."
He said not immediately that there is a resurrection of our bodies, yet
this very thing in truth he doth establish, but afar off and by other topics
saying that "Christ died," and laying before a kind of strong base and
irrefragable foundation of the doctrine concerning the resurrection. For
neither did he simply say that "Christ died;" although even this were sufficient
to declare the resurrection, but with an addition, "Christ died for our
[3.] But first it is worth while to hear what those who are infected
with the Manichaean doctrines say here, who are both enemies to the truth
and war against their own salvation. What then do these allege? By death
here, they say, Paul means nothing else than our being in sin; and by resurrection,
our being delivered from our sins. Seest thou how nothing is weaker than
error? And how it is taken by its own wings, and needs not the warfare
from without, but by itself it is pierced through? Consider, for instance,
these men, how they too have pierced themselves through by their own statements.
Since if this be death, and Christ did not take a body, as ye suppose,
and yet died, He was in sin according to you. For I indeed say that He
took unto Himself a body and His death, I say, was that of the flesh; but
thou denying this, wilt be compelled to affirm the other. But if He was
in sin, how saith He, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" and "The prince
of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me?" (John chapter 8, verse 46;
John chapter 14, verse 30) and again, "Thus it becometh Us to fulfill all
righteousness?" (Matthew chapter 3, verse 15) Nay, how did He at all die
for sinners, if Himself were in sin? For he who dies for sinners ought
himself to be without sin. Since if he himself also sin, how shall he die
for other sinners? But if for others' sins He died, He died being without
sin: and if being without sin He died, He died-not the death of sin; for
how could He being without sin?-but the death of the body. Wherefore also
Paul did not simply say, "He died," but added, "for our sins:" both forcing
these heretics against their will to the confession of His bodily death,
and signifying also by this that before death He was without sin: for he
that dies for others' sins, it followeth must himself be without sin.
Neither was he content with this, but added, "according to the Scriptures:"
hereby both again making his argument credible, and inti-mating what kind
of death he was speaking of: since it is the death of the body which the
Scriptures everywhere proclaim. For, "they pierced My hands and My feet,"
(Psalms chapter 21, verse 18) saith He, and, "they shall look on Him Whom
they pierced." (John chapter 19, verse 37. Zechariah chapter 12, verse
10) And many other instances, too not to name all one by one, partly in
words and partly in types, one may see in them stored up, setting forth
His slaughter in the flesh and that He was slain for our sins. For, "for
the sins of my people," saith one, "is He come to death: "and, the Lord
delivered Him up for our sins: "and, "He was wounded for our transgressions."
(Is. liii.) But if thou dost not endure the Old Testament, hear John crying
out and declaring both, as well His slaughter in the body as the cause
of it: thus, "Behold," saith he, "the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the
sin of the world:" (John chapter 1, verse 29) and Paul saying, "For Him
Who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him:" (2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 21) and
again, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse
for us:" (Galatians chapter 3, verse 13) and again, "having put off from
himself principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing
over them;" (Colossians chapter 2, verse 15) and ten thousand other sayings
to show what happened at His death in the body, and because of our sins.
Yea, and Christ Himself saith, "for your sakes I sanctify Myself"and, "now
the prince of this world hath been condemned;" showing that having no sin
he was slain.
[4.] Ver. 4. "And that he was buried."
And this also confirms the former topics, for that which is buried is
doubtless a body. And here he no longer adds, "according to the Scriptures."
He had wherewithal, nevertheless he adds it not. For what cause? Either
because the burial was evident unto all, both then and now, or because
the expression, "according to the Scriptures," is set down of both in common.
Wherefore then doth he add, "according to the Scriptures," in this place,
"and that He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures," and is
not content with the former clause, so spoken in common? Because this also
was to most men obscure: wherefore here again he brings in "the Scriptures"
by inspiration, having so conceived this thought so wise and divine.
How is it then that he doth the same in regard of His death? Because
in that case too, although the cross was evident unto all and in the sight
of all He was stretched upon it; yet the cause was no longer equally so.
The fact indeed of his death all knew, but that He suffered this for the
sins of the world was no longer equally known to the multitude. Wherefore
he brings in the testimony from the Scriptures.
This however hath been sufficiently proved by what we have said. But
where have the Scriptures said that He was buried, and on the third day
shall rise again? By the type of Jonah which also Himself alleges, saying,
"As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall
also the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth." (Matthew chapter 12, verse 40) By the bush in the desert. For oven
as that burned, yet was not consumed, (Exodus chapter 3, verse 2) so also
that body died indeed, but was not holden of death continually. And the
dragon also in Daniel shadows out this. For as the dragon having taken
the food which the prophet gave, burst asunder in the midst; even so Hades
having swallowed down that Body, was rent asunder, the Body of itself cutting
asunder its womb and rising again.
Now if thou desirest to hear also in words those things which thou hast
seen in types, listen to Isaiah, saying, "His life is taken from the earth,"
(Isaiah chapter 53, verse 8, Isaiah chapter 53, verse 10, Isaiah chapter
53, verse 11) and," it pleaseth the Lord to cleanse Him from His wound...to
show unto Him light:" and David before him, "Thou wilt not leave My soul
to Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption." (Psalms
chapter 16, verse 10)
Therefore Paul also sends thee on to the Scriptures, that thou mayest
learn that not without cause nor at random were these things done. For
how could they, when so many prophets are describing and proclaiming them
beforehand? And no where doth the Scripture mean the death of sin, when
it makes mention of our Lord's death, but that of the body, and a burial
and resurrection of the same kind.
[5.] Ver. 5. "And that He appeared to Cephas:" he names immediately
the most credible of all. "Then to the twelve."
Ver. 6. "Then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once;
of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep."
Ver. 7. "Then he appeared to James; then to all the Apostles."
Ver. 8. "And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared
to me also."
Thus, since he had mentioned the proof from the Scriptures, he adds
also that by the events, producing as witnesses of the resurrection, after
the prophets, the apostles and other faithful men. Whereas if he meant
that other resurrection, the deliverance from sin, it were idle for him
to say, He appeared to such and such an one; for this is the argument of
one who is establishing the resurrection of the body, not of one obscurely
teaching deliverance from sins. Wherefore neither said he once for all,
"He appeared," although it were sufficient for him to do so, setting down
the expression in common: but now both twice and thrice, and almost in
each several case of them that had seen Him he employs it. For "He appeared,"
saith he, "to Cephas, He appeared to above five hundred brethren, He appeared
to me also." Yet surely the Gospel saith the contrary, that He was seen
of Mary first. (Mark chapter 16, verse 9) But among men He was seen of
him first who did most of all long to see Him.
But of what twelve apostles doth he here speak? For after He was received
up, Matthias was taken into the number, not after the resurrection immediately.
But it is likely that He appeared even after He was received up. At any
rate, this our apostle himself after His ascension was both called, and
saw Him. Therefore neither doth he set down the time, but simply and without
defining recounts the appearance. For indeed it is probable that many took
place; wherefore also John said, "This third time He was manifested." (John
chapter 21, verse 14)
"Then He appeared to above five hundred brethren." Some say that "above,"
is above from heaven; that is, "not walking upon earth, but above and overhead
He appeared to them:" adding, that it was Paul's purpose to confirm, not
the resurrection only, but also the ascension. Others say that the expression,
"above five hundred," means, "more than five hundred."
"Of whom the greater part remain until now." Thus, "though I relate
events of old," saith he, "yet have I living witnesses." "But some are
fallen asleep." He said not, "are dead," but, "are fallen asleep," by this
expression also again confirming the resurrection. "After that, He was
seen of James." I suppose, His brother. For the Lord is said to have Himself
ordained him and made him Bishop in Jerusalem first. "Then to all the apostles."
For there were also other apostles, as the seventy.
"And last of all he appeared unto me also, as unto one born out of due
time." This is rather an expression of modesty than any thing else. For
not because he was the least, therefore did he appear to him after the
rest. Since even if He did call him last, yet he appeared more illustrious
than many which were before him, yea rather than all. And the five hundred
brethren too were not surely better than James, because He appeared to
them before him.
Why did He not appear to all at the same time? That He might first sow
the seeds of faith. For he that saw Him first and was exactly and fully
assured, told it unto the residue: then their report coming first placed
the hearer in expectation of this great wonder, and made way before for
the faith of sight. Therefore neither did He appear to all together, nor
in the beginning to many, but to one alone first, and him the leader of
the whole company and the most faithful: since indeed there was great need
of a most faithful soul to be first to receive this sight. For those who
saw him after others had seen him, and heard it from them, had in their
testimony what contributed in no small degree to their own faith and tended
to prepare their mind beforehand; but he who was first counted worthy to
see Him, had need, as I have said, of great faith, not to be confounded
by a sight so contrary to expectation. Therefore he appears to Peter first.
For he that first confessed Him to be Christ was justly also counted worthy
first to behold His resurrection. And not on this account alone doth He
appear to him first, but also because he had denied Him, more abundantly
to comfort him and to signify that he is not despaired of, before the rest
He vouchsafed him even this sight and to him first entrusted His sheep.
Therefore also He appeared to the women first. Because this sex was made
inferior, therefore both in His birth and in His resurrection this first
tastes of His grace.
But after Peter, He appears also to each at intervals, and at one time
to fewer, at another to more, hereby making them witnesses and teachers
of each other, and rendering His apostles trustworthy in all that they
[6.] "And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared
to me also." What mean here his expressions of humility, or wherein are
they seasonable? For if he wishes to show himself worthy of credit and
to enrol himself among the witnesses of the resurrection, he is doing the
contrary of what he wishes: since it were meet that he exalt himself and
show that he was great, which in many places he doth, the occasion calling
for it. Well, the very reason why he here also speaks modestly is his being
about to do this. Not straightway, however, but with his own peculiar good
sense: in that having first spoken modestly and heaped up against himself
many charges, he then magnifies the things concerning himself. What may
the reason be? That, when he comes to utter that great and lofty expression
concerning himself, "I labored more abundantly than all," his discourse
may be rendered more acceptable, both hereby, and by its being spoken as
a consequence of what went before and not as a leading topic. Therefore
also writing to Timothy, and intending to say great things concerning himself,
he first sets down his charges against himself. For so all persons, when
speaking in high terms of others, speak out freely and with boldness: but
he that is compelled to praise himself, and especially when he also calls
himself to witness, is disconcerted and blushes. Therefore also this blessed
man first declares his own misery, and then utters that lofty expression.
This then he doth, partly to abate the offensiveness of speaking about
himself, and partly that he might hereby recommend to their belief what
he had to say afterwards. For he that truly states what things are discreditable
to him and conceals none of them, such as that he persecuted the Church,
that he laid waste the faith, doth hereby cause the things that are honorable
to him also to be above suspicion.
And consider the exceeding greatness of his humility. For having said,
"and last of all He appeared to me also," he was not content with this:
"For many that are last shall be first," saith He, "and the first last."
(Matthew chapter 20, verse 16) Therefore he added, "as unto one born out
of due time." Neither did he stop here, but adds also his own judgment
and with a reason, saying,
Ver. 9. "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to
be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God."
And he said not, of the twelve alone, but also of all the other apostles.
And all these things he spake, both as one speaking modestly and because
he was really so disposed as I said, making arrangements also beforehand
for what was intended to be spoken and rendering it more acceptable. For
had he come forward and said, "Ye ought to believe me that Christ rose
from the dead; for I saw Him and of all I am the most worthy of credit,
inasmuch as I have labored more," the expression might have offended the
hearers: but now by first dwelling on the humiliating topics and those
which involve accusation, he both took off what might be grating in such
a narrative, and prepared the way for their belief in his testimony.
On this account therefore neither doth he simply, as I said, declare
himself to be the last and unworthy of the appellation of an apostle, but
also states the reason, saying, "because I persecuted the Church." And
yet all those things were forgiven, but nevertheless he himself never for
got them, desiring to signify the greatness of God's favor: wherefore also
he goes on to say,
[7.] Ver. 10. "But by the grace of God I am what I am."
Seest thou again another excess of humility? in that the defects he
imputes to himself, but of the good deeds nothing; rather he refers all
to God. Next, lest he might hereby render his hearer supine, he saith,
"And His grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain." And this
again with reserve: in that he said! not, "I have displayed a diligence
worthy of His grace," but, "it was not found vain."
"But I labored more abundantly than they all." He said not, "I was honored,"
but, "I labored;" and when he had perils and deaths to speak of, by the
name of labor he again abates his expression.
Then again practicing his wonted humility, this also he speedily passes
by and refers the whole to God, saying, "Yet not I, but the grace of God
which was with me." What can be more admirable than such a soul? who having
in so many ways depressed himself and uttered but one lofty word, not even
this doth he call his own; on every side finding ways, both from the former
things and from them that follow after, to contract this lofty expression,
and that because it was of necessity that he came to it.
But consider how he abounds in the expressions of humility. For so,
"to me last of all He appeared," saith he. Wherefore neither doth he with
himself mention any other, and saith, "as of one born out of due time,"
and that himself is "the least of the apostles," and not even worthy of
this appellation. And he was not content even with these, but that he might
not seem in mere words to be humble-minded, he states both reasons and
proofs: of his being "one born out of due time," his seeing Jesus last;
and of his being unworthy even of the name of an apostle, "his persecuting
the Church." For he that is simply humble-minded doeth not this: but he
that also sets down the reasons utters all from a contrite mind. Wherefore
also he elsewhere makes mention of these same things, saying, "And I thank
him that enabled me; even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that He counted me
faithful, appointing the to his service, though I was before a blasphemer,
and a persecutor, and injurious." (1 Timothy chapter 1, verse 12, 1 Timothy
chapter 1, verse 13)
But wherefore did he utter at all that same lofty expression, "I labored
more abundantly than they?" He saw that the occasion compelled him. For
had he not said this, had he only depreciated himself, how could he with
boldness call himself to witness, and number himself with the rest, and
Ver. 11. "Whether then it be I or they, so we preach."
For the witness ought to be trustworthy, and a great man. But how he
"labored more abundantly than they," he indicated above, saying, "Have
we no right to eat and to drink, as also the other Apostles?" And again,
"to them that are without law as without law." Thus, both where exactness
was to be displayed, he overshot all: and where there was need to condescend,
he displayed again the same great superiority.
But some cite his being sent to the Gentiles and his overrunning the
larger part of the world. Whence it is evident that he enjoyed more grace.
For if he labored more, the grace was also more: but he enjoyed more grace,
because he displayed also more diligence. Seest thou how by those particulars
whereby he contends and strives to throw into shade the things concerning
himself, he is shown to be first of all?
[8.] And these things when we hear, let us also make open show of our
defects, but of our excellencies let us say nothing. Or if the opportunity
force it upon us, let us speak of them with reserve and impute the whole
to God's grace: which accordingly the Apostle also doth, ever and anon
putting a bad mark upon his former life, but his after-state imputing to
grace, that he might signify the mercy of God from every circumstance:
from His having saved him such as he was and when saved making him again
such as he is. Let none accordingly of those who are in sin despair, let
none of those in virtue be confident, but let the one be exceeding fearful
and the other forward. For neither shall any slothful man be able to abide
in virtue, nor one that is diligent be weak to escape from evil. And of
both these the blessed David is an example, who after he slumbered a little,
had a great downfall: and when he was pricked in his heart, again hastened
up to his former height. Since in fact both are alike evils, both despair
and slothfulness; the one quickly casting a man down from the very arch
of the heavens; the other not suffering the fallen to rise again. Wherefore
with respect to the one, Paul said, "Let him that thinketh he standeth
take heed lest he fall:" (1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 12) but unto
the other, "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts: (Hebrews
chapter 4, verse 7) and again, "Lift up the hands that hang down and the
palsied knees." (Hebrews chapter 12, verse 12) And him too that had committed
fornication but repented, he therefore quickly refreshes, "that such an
one might not be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow?" (2 Corinthians
chapter 2, verse 7)
Why then in regard of other griefs art thou cast down, O man? Since
if for sins, where only grief is beneficial, excess works much mischief,
much more for all other things. For wherefore grievest thou? That thou
hast lost money? Nay, think of those that are not even filled with bread,
and thou shalt very speedily obtain consolation. And in each of the things
that are grievous to thee mourn not the things that have happened, but
for the disasters that have not happened give thanks. Hadst thou money
and didst: thou lose it? Weep not for the loss, but give thanks for the
time when thou didst enjoy it. Say like Job, "Have we received good at
the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job chapter 2, verse
10) And together with that use this argument also; that even if thou didst
lose thy money, yet thy body thou hast still sound and hast not with thy
poverty to grieve that it also is maimed. But hath thy body too endured
some outrage? Yet is not this the bottom of human calamities, but in the
middle of the cask thou art as yet carried along. For many along with poverty
and maiming, both wrestle with a demon and wander in deserts: others again
endure other things more grievous than these. For may it never be our lot
to suffer all that it is possible for one to bear.
These things then ever considering, bear in mind them that suffer worse,
and be vexed at none of those things: but when thou sinnest, only then
sigh, then weep; I forbid thee not, nay I enjoin thee rather; though even
then with moderation, remembering that there is returning, there is reconciliation.
But seest thou others in luxury and thyself in poverty: and another in
goodly robes, and in preeminence? Look not however on these things alone,
but also on the miseries that arise out of these. And in thy poverty too,
consider not the beggary alone, but the pleasure also thence arising do
thou take into account. For wealth hath indeed a cheerful mask, but its
inward parts are full of gloom; and poverty the reverse. And shouldest
thou unfold each man's conscience, in the soul of the poor thou wilt see
great security and freedom: but in that of the rich, confusions, disorders,
tempests. And if thou grievest, seeing him rich, he too is vexed much more
than thou when he beholds one richer than himself. And as thou fearest
him, even so doth he another, and he hath no advantage over thee in this.
But thou art vexed to see him in office, because thou art in a private
station and one of the governed. Recollect however the day of his ceasing
to hold office. And even before that day the tumults, the perils, the fatigues,
the flatteries, the sleepless nights, and all the miseries.
[9.] And these things we say to those who have no mind for high morality:
since if thou knowest this, there are other and greater things whereby
we may comfort thee: but for the present we must use the coarser topics
to argue with thee. When therefore thou seest one that is rich, think of
him that is richer than he, and thou wilt see him in the same condition
with thyself. And after him look also on him that is poorer than thyself,
consider how many have gone to bed hungry, and have lost their patrimony,
and live in a dungeon, and pray for death every day. For neither doth poverty
breed sadness, nor wealth pleasure, but both the one and the other our
own thoughts are wont to produce in us. And consider, beginning from beneath:
the scavenger grieves and is vexed that he cannot be rid of this his business
so wretched and esteemed so disgraceful: but if thou rid him of this, and
cause him, with security, to have plenty of the necessaries of life, he
will grieve again that he hath not more than he wants: and if thou grant
him more, he will wish to trouble them again, and will therefore vex himself
no less than before: and if thou grant him twofold or threefold, he will
be out of heart again because he hath no part in the state: and if you
provide him with this also, he will count himself wretched because he is
not one of the highest officers of state. And when he hath obtained this
honor, he will mourn that he is not a ruler; and when he shall be ruler,
that it is not of a whole nation; and when of a whole nation, that it is
not of many nations; and when of many nations, that it is not of all. When
he becomes a deputy, he will vex himself again that he is not a king; and
if a king, that he is not so alone; and if alone, that he is not also of
barbarous nations; and if of barbarous nations, that he is not of the whole
world even: and if of the whole world, why not likewise of another world?
And so his course of thought going on without end does not suffer him ever
to be pleased. Seest thou, how even if from being mean and poor thou shouldest
make a man a king, thou dost not remove his dejection, without first correcting
his turn of thought, enamored as it is of having more?
Come, let me show thee the contrary too, that even if from a higher
station thou shouldest bring down to a lower one him that hath consideration,
thou wilt not cast him into dejection and grief. And if thou wilt, let
us descend the same ladder, and do thou bring down the satrap from his
throne and in supposition deprive him of that dignity. I say that he will
not on this account vex himself, if he choose to bear in mind the things
of which I have spoken. For he will not reckon up the things of which he
hath been deprived, but what he hath still, the glory arising from his
office. But if thou take away this also, he will reckon up them who are
in private stations and have never ascended to such sway, and for consolation
his riches will suffice him. And if thou also cast him out again from this,
he will look to them that have a moderate estate. And if thou shouldest
take away even moderate wealth, and shouldest allow him to partake only
of necessary food, he may think upon them that have not even this, but
wrestle with incessant hunger and live in prison. And even if thou shouldest
bring him into that prison-house, when he reflects on them that lie under
incurable diseases and irremediable pains, he will see himself to be in
much better circumstances. And as the scavenger before mentioned not even
on being made a king will reap any cheerfulness, so neither will this man
ever vex himself if he become a prisoner. It is not then wealth that is
the foundation of pleasure, nor poverty of sadness, but our own judgment,
and the fact, that the eyes of our mind are not pure, nor are fixed anywhere
and abide, but without limit flutter abroad. And as healthy bodies, if
they be nourished with bread alone, are in good and vigorous condition:
but those that are sickly, even if they enjoy a plentiful and varied diet,
become so much the weaker; so also it is wont to happen in regard of the
soul. The mean spirited, not even in a diadem and unspeakable honors can
be happy: but the denying, even in bonds and fetters and poverty, will
enjoy a pure pleasure.
[10.] These things then bearing in mind, let us ever look to them that
are beneath us. There is indeed, I grant, another consolation, but of a
high strain in morality, and mounting above the grossness of the multitude.
What is this? That wealth is naught, poverty is naught, disgrace is naught,
honor is naught, but for a brief time and only in words do they differ
from each other. And along with this there is another soothing topic also,
greater than it; the consideration of the things to come, both evil and
good, the things which are really evil and really good, and the being comforted
by them. But since many, as I said, stand aloof from these doctrines, therefore
were we compelled to dwell on other topics, that in course we might lead
on to them the receivers of what had been said before.
Portion of Homily XXXIX
1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 11Whether then it be I or they, so
we preach, and so ye believed.
Having exalted the Apostles and abased himself, then again having exalted
himself above them that he might make out an equality: (for he did effect
an equality, when he showed that he had advantages over them as well as
they over him,) and having thereby proved himself worthy of credit; neither
so doth he dismiss them, but again ranks himself with them, pointing out
their concord in Christ. Nevertheless he doth it not so as that he should
seem to have been tacked on to them, but as himself also to appear in the
same rank. For so it was profitable for the Gospel. Wherefore also he was
equally earnest, on the one hand, that he might not seem to overlook them;
on the other, that he might not be on account of the honor paid to them
held cheap by those that were under his authority. Therefore he also now
makes himself equal again, saying,
"Whether then it be I or they, so we preach." "From whomsoever,"
saith he, "ye choose to learn, learn; there is no difference between us."
And he said not, "if ye will not believe me, believe them;" but while he
makes himself worthy of credit and saith that he is of himself sufficient,
he affirms the same also of them by themselves. For the difference of persons
took no effect, their authority being equal. And in the Epistle to the
Galatians he doth this, taking them with him, not as also standing in need
of them, but saying indeed that even himself was sufficient: "For they
who were of repute imparted nothing to me:" (Galatians chapter 2, verse
6) nevertheless, even so I follow after agreement with them. "For they
gave unto me," saith he, "their right hands." (Galatians chapter 2, verse
9) For if the credit of Paul were always to depend on others and to be
confirmed by testimony from others, the disciples would hence have received
infinite injury. It is not therefore to exalt himself that he doeth this,
but fearing for the Gospel. Wherefore also he here saith, making himself
equal, "Whether it be I or they, so we preach."
Well did he say, "we preach," indicating his great boldness of speech.
For we speak not secretly, nor in a corner, but we utter a voice clearer
than a trumpet. And he said not, "we preached," but, "even now `so we preach.'""And
so ye believed." Here he said not, "ye believe," but, "ye believed." Because
they were shaken in mind, therefore he ran back to the former times, and
proceeds to add the witness from themselves.