Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 39-46 (Luke 7:31-8:56) pp. 149-198.
7:31-35. To what therefore shall I liken the men of this generation, and to what are they like? They are like to children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have played unto you, and ye have not danced: we have wailed unto you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came, neither eating bread, nor drinking wine, and ye say, that he hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking: and ye say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine drinker: a friend of publicans and sinners. And wisdom is justified of her children.
THOSE who have a sound mind examine everything, rejecting the false, but receiving and praising that which is without blame. And such the wise Paul also requires us to be, where writing he said: "1 Be ye wise money-changers; prove all |150 things, and hold that which is good: abstain from every evil kind." We therefore also, as I said, must closely examine with the discerning eye of the mind whatever is done, and search into the nature of actions, that so we may approve of that which is without blame, while we reject that which is counterfeit. But if, making no distinctions, we run the risk of passing an evil sentence upon things highly praiseworthy: and of deeming that which is evil fit for commendation and applause, the prophet's words will apply to us: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil: who call bitter sweet, and sweet bitter: who put light for darkness, and darkness for light." Such was the character of the Israelites, and especially of those whose lot it was to be their chiefs, the Scribes namely and Pharisees: of whom Christ said, "To what shall I liken the men of this generation? and so on."
There was perchance a sort of game among the Jewish children, something of this kind. A troop of youths was divided into two parts: who, making sport of the confusion in the world, and the uneven course of its affairs, and the painful and rapid change from one extreme to the other, played some of them on instruments of music: while the rest wailed. But neither did the mourners share the merriment of those who were playing music and rejoicing: nor again did those with the instruments of music join in the sorrow of those who were weeping: and finally, they reproached one another with their want of sympathy, so to speak, and absence of affection. For the one party would say, "We have played unto you, and ye have not danced:" to which the others would rejoin, "We have wailed unto you, and ye have not wept." Christ declares, therefore, that both the Jewish populace, and their rulers, were in some such state of feeling as this;2 "For John |151 came, He says, neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and they say, that he hath a devil: the Son of man came eating and drinking; and they say, Behold! a man gluttonous, and a wine drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners." By what then wilt thou be won unto the faith, O foolish Pharisee, when thou thus blamest all things indifferently, nor countest anything worthy of thy praise? The blessed Baptist was the forerunner of the Saviour, saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand." For he was a man fit to win confidence, and able to persuade, as having even from them the testimony that his life was noble, and worthy of admiration. For he dwelt in the deserts, clad in poor and rough clothing, and scarcely allaying the necessities of the body with locusts and wild honey. Thou wentest out to see him as one who was holy, and had attained to the perfection of all virtue. And dost thou venture afterwards to speak ill of such a one? of one who ought rather to be counted worthy of all admiration? Dost thou say that he hath a devil, who by fastings is mortifying the law of sin that lurks in our fleshly members, and wars against the law of our mind? What is greater than a life of abstinence? For the very fact of being able to rebuke wisely those pleasures that lead to evil, and to cast over them as a bridle the laboriousness of a life of abstinence, how is not this a great and excellent thing! The blessed Baptist was entirely devoted to piety unto Christ; nor was there in him the very slightest regard either for fleshly lusts, or for the things of this world. Having altogether abandoned, therefore, the vain and unprofitable distractions of this world, he laboured at one, and that a very urgent task, of blamelessly fulfilling the ministry entrusted to him. For he was commanded to preach, saying: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Tell me, dost thou think that this man hath a devil?----one over whom the tyranny of Satan had no power; who was the captive of no evil lusts; who had overleapt the pitfalls of the base love of the flesh; who had commanded the herds of demons to be still, and manfully resisted their attacks. For verily he could not have attained to this glory and virtue but through Christ, Who is |152 exalted above Satan, who tempts and gnashes his teeth at the prosperity of the saints. Art thou not ashamed, then, of slandering one who had attained to so great patience and endurance, and had wound chaplets of manly virtue round his head? Hast thou whetted thy tongue even at him, and ventured basely to calumniate him, by affirming that he is a madman, and contemptible, and not in his right mind?
Let us, then, see what is on the other side, and which seems, as it were, to follow a different course from the Baptist's conduct. Christ was not in the wilderness, but rather made the city His habitation in company with the holy Apostles: He did not eat locusts and wild honey: His clothing was not of camel's hair, nor had He a leathern girdle upon his loins. His mode of life rather was such as is usual in towns, with no such hardness in it as that practised by the holy Baptist. Dost thou, then, praise Him at least? Dost thou approve of His easiness of approach, and His freely mixing with others, and entire carelessness about His diet? By no means. Thy censoriousness extended even unto Christ: for thou saidst, "Behold a man gluttonous, and drinking wine! a friend of publicans and sinners!" Because thou hast occasionally seen Jesus faring luxuriously, does He appear to thee a drinker of wine, and a carouser, and gluttonous? How canst thou prove this? For when once upon a time Mary and Martha received Him at Bethany, and one of them was distracted with overmuch service, Christ is seen preventing excess, and reducing us to a bare sufficiency. For He said, "Martha, Martha: thou art careful, and hurried about many things: but few things are required, or one." And such He was constantly and everywhere.
But dost thou accuse Him because He went about with publicans and sinners? And is this the cause of thine offence? But what detriment can it be imagined that Christ suffered, from His willingness to be with sinners? He was not liable at all to be taken by their sins, being entirely beyond the reach of fault. He even said, at one time: "The prince of this world cometh, and will find nothing in Me?" at another, |153 again: "Who of you rebuketh Me because of sin?" He could in no respect therefore be contaminated by being with sinners.
But thou sayest, the law of Moses commanded that "we should not hold converse with the wicked." Let us, however, study the object of the law: let us see for what cause it forbade the Israelites holding intercourse with the wicked, and mingling with the deceivers. Now the truth most certainly is, that the law of Moses ordained these things, not so much that thou mightest vaunt thyself over others, and make the commandment a reason for boasting; but rather, because thy mind is weak, and readily drawn aside into folly, and because thy heart runs willingly after evil pleasures, it would free thee from the wish to be with those whose life is culpable, lest thou shouldst become like them in mind, and foolishly be caught in their snare. "For evil communications corrupt good manners." Thou receivedst the commandment therefore as a safeguard for thy infirmity. For if thou hadst been established in virtue, and thy mind steadfast in the fear of God, the law would not have hindered thee from holding useful intercourse with those who were weak, in order that they might become imitators of thy piety, and learn to emulate thy doings: that walking in the steps of thy zeal, they might advance to that which is more excellent. Conceive, therefore, no proud imaginings, since, even in the commandment of Moses, thou art accused of infirmity. Thou blamest Christ for going about with sinners and publicans. Is it because thou art afraid lest He should suffer from their contamination? Tell me, then, dost thou imagine that He also shares thy frailness? Art thou entirely ignorant of the mysteries respecting Him? That the Word being God was with us: that is, was incarnate for our sakes? That the Father sent Him "not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Now it belongs to one who condemns, to avoid the company of such as are still in their sins: but it is the part of him who wishes to save to be with them, and admonish them, and prevail upon them to change from their disgraceful courses, and instead of |154 the path of wickedness, to choose the way that leadeth to eternal life. "He came not to call the righteous, hut sinners, to repentance." And as He said Himself, "They that are whole need not a Physician: but they that are sick." Why therefore dost thou blame Him for loving man so well, and find fault with His godlike gentleness? Why reproach Him for being kind to us, and healing our sickness? And yet every body praises physicians, not when they avoid those who are sick, but when they are constantly with them, and by the resources of their art bring them gradually back to sound health. And why then, since Jesus is the Physician of souls and spirits, dost thou blame Him for saving sinners? He could sustain no pollution, even though He ate with sinners: for yon bright sun sheds its radiance upon, and visits every thing under heaven: it chances, then, that impurities also are found lying exposed to it: but that which pours down this radiance is not in the least defiled, even though it shed it on matters so abominable.3 Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Sun of Righteousness: a wicked man, then, in no way whatsoever defiles Him, though close at His side, and eating with Him.
And thus much, then, we have said respecting Christ the Saviour of us all. It is not, however, perhaps unlikely, that some may object, and say; 'Does not also the new and saving preaching of the Gospel plainly command us to withdraw from the communications of impure men? For most wise Paul also wrote to some: "I have written unto you in the epistle, that ye hold no intercourse with fornicators: If any one called a brother be a fornicator, or a drunkard, or covetous, or an extortioner, or idolater: with such a one no not to eat." It had been fitting, therefore, for Christ to have been the type to us of this behaviour.' Thou hast missed thy measure, my beloved! Thou wishest to vie with |155 thy Master's sovereign dignity: Thou catchest at that which is above thy nature. Consider the infirmity of thy mind. Christ was God: but thou art a man, tyrannized over by fleshly pleasures, with a mind easily beguiled into error, and readily made the prey of sins. If, however, thou feelest confident of thy ability manfully to maintain a blameless course of conduct, and also to admonish others, there is nothing to hinder even thee from wishing to be with the wicked and sinloving. For often the admonitions of spiritually-minded e men have profited those who are in sin. If, on the contrary, thou thyself art scarcely saved, even when keeping far away from the company of the evil, maintain thy carefulness in this respect. Call to thy remembrance the writer of the book of Proverbs, who says; "He that walketh with the wise, shall become wise: but he who walketh with fools, shall become known." And again, "He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled." And again also the blessed David: "With the holy, thou wilt become holy; and with the pure, thou wilt become pure: with the elect, thou wilt become elect; and with the crooked, thou wilt be made crooked." In order, then, "that thou mayest be delivered like a roc from the nets," flee from wicked men; keep apart from those who cannot be restrained from pollution; and supplicate Christ to purify thy corruptions, or rather all thy human weaknesses. For the Word that came from God is God, even though He became flesh, that is, man: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |156
7:36-50. And a certain Pharisee desired Him to eat with him. And having entered the Pharisee's house, He reclined at his table. And, behold, a woman who was a sinner in the city, when she knew that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood behind Him at His feet, and, weeping, began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed, His feet, and anointed them with ointment. When the Pharisee who had bidden Him saw it, he said in himself, If this were a prophet, He would have known who and of what sort the woman is who toucheth Him, that she is a sinner. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he said, Teacher, say on. He saith to him; A certain money-lender had two debtors; the one owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty: and when they could not repay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of them will love him most? and Simon answered and said, I suppose he that had most forgiven him. And He said to him, Thou hast rightly judged. And turning to the woman He said to Simon, Thou seest this woman. I entered into thine house: thou gavest no water for My feet; but she hath, washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with her hair. Thou gavest Me no kiss, but she from the time I came in hath not ceased kissing My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she hath anointed My feet with ointment. For this reason, I tell thee, her many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much: but he to whom little is forgiven, loveth little. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven thee. And those who were reclining with Him at table began to say in themselves, Who is This That forgiveth sins also? But He said, to the woman, Thy faith hath made thee live: go in peace.
"ALL ye people, clap your hands, and praise God with the voice of thanksgiving.'' And what is the cause of the festival? It is that the Saviour hath newly constructed for us a way of salvation, untrodden by them of old time. |157 For the law, which the all-wise Moses ordained, was for the reproof of sin, and the condemnation of offences: but it justified absolutely no one. For the very wise Paul writes, "Whosoever rejected the law of Moses, was put to death without mercy at the mouth of two or three witnesses." But our Lord Jesus Christ, having removed the curse of the law, and proved the commandment which condemns to be powerless and inoperative, became our merciful High Priest, according to the words of the blessed Paul. For He justifies the wicked by faith, and sets free those held captive by their sins. And this He proclaimed to us by one of the holy prophets, saying, "In those days, and at that time, saith the Lord, they shall seek for the sin of Israel, and there shall be none: and for the sin of Judah, and thou shalt not find it: for I will be merciful to those that have been left in the land, saith the Lord." But lo! the fulfilment of the promise came to pass for us at the time of His Incarnation, as we are assured by the purport of the holy Gospels. For he was invited by one of the Pharisees, and being kind and loving unto man, and "willing that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth," He consented, and granted the favour to him who requested it. And having entered, He reclined at table: and immediately there entered a woman defiled with filthy lewdness: who, like one scarcely roused from wine and intoxication, and made sensible of the guilt of her transgressions, offered supplication unto Christ, as able to cleanse her, and deliver her from all fault, and free her from her former sins, as "not remembering iniquities." And this she did, washing His feet with tears, and anointing them with ointment, and wiping them with her hair. Thus a woman, who beforetime had been lewd, and guilty of sensuality, a sin difficult to wash away, missed not the path of salvation; for she fled for refuge to Him Who knoweth how to save, and is able to raise from the depths of impurity.
She then failed not in her purpose. But the foolish Pharisee, the blessed Evangelist tells us, was offended, and said within himself, "If this were a prophet, He would have known who and of what sort the woman is that toucheth Him, that she is a sinner." The Pharisee therefore was boastful, |158 and utterly without understanding. For it was his duty rather to regulate his own life, and earnestly adorn it by all virtuous pursuits; and not to pass sentence upon the infirm, and condemn others. But we affirm of him, that having been brought up in the customs of the law, he gave too wide an influence to its institutions, and required the Legislator Himself to be subject to the commandments of Moses. For the law commanded the holy to keep apart from the impure: and God also blamed those whose lot it was to be the chiefs of the congregation of the Jews, for their unwillingness in this respect. For He thus spake by one of the holy prophets: "they make no distinction between the holy and the profane." But Christ arose for us, not to subject our state to the curses that are by the law, but to redeem those subject to sin by a mercy superior to the law. For the law was instituted "because of transgressions," as Scripture declares, "that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God, because by the works of the law no flesh is justified." For there was no one so far advanced in virtue, spiritual virtue I mean, as to be able to fulfil all that had been commanded, and that blamelessly. But the grace that is by Christ justifieth, because, doing away with the condemnation of the law, it frees us by means of faith.
That proud and foolish Pharisee therefore did not even deem Jesus to have attained to the measure of a prophet: but He made the woman's tears an opportunity for clearly instructing him in the mystery. For He taught the Pharisee, and all who were assembled there, that the Word being God, "came into the world in our likeness, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by Him." He came that He might forgive the debtors much and little, and shew mercy upon small and great, that there might be no one whatsoever who did not participate in His goodness. And as a pledge and plain example of His grace, He freed that unchaste woman from her many iniquities by saying, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Worthy indeed of God is a declaration such as this! It is a word joined with supreme authority. For since the law condemned those that were in sin, who, I ask, was able to declare things above the law, except Him only Who ordained it? Immediately therefore He |159 both set the woman free, and directed the attention of that Pharisee, and those who were dining with him, to more excellent things: for they learned that the Word being God, was not as one of the prophets, but rather far beyond the measure of humanity, even though He became man. And one may say to him who invited Him, Thou was trained up, O Pharisee, in the sacred Scriptures; thou knowest I suppose of course the commands given by most wise Moses: thou hast examined the words of the holy prophets: Who then is This That walking in a path contrary to the sacred commands, hath delivered from guilt? Who That hath pronounced them free who have boldly broken the things ordained? Recognise therefore by the facts themselves One superior to the prophets and the law: remember that one of the holy prophets proclaimed these things in old time of Him, and said, "They shall be in wonder at our God, and shall be afraid of Thee. Who is a God like unto Thee, That forgiveth the transgressions, and passeth over the iniquities of the remnant of His inheritance, nor retaineth His anger unto the end, because He willeth mercy?"
Those therefore who were at meat with the Pharisee, were astonished and wondered at seeing Christ the Saviour of all possessed of such godlike supremacy, and using expressions above the right of man. For they said, "Who is This That forgiveth sins also?" Dost thou wish me to tell thee Who He is? He Who is in the bosom of God the Father, and was begotten of Him by nature: by Whom every thing was brought into being: Who possesses supreme sovereignty, and is worshipped by every thing in heaven and in earth. He submitted Himself to our estate, and became our High Priest, in order that He might present us unto God, pure and clean, having put off the ill savour of sin, and having Him instead in us as a sweet savour. For, as most wise Paul writes, "We are a sweet savour of Christ unto God." This is He Who spake by the voice of the prophet Ezechiel, "And I will be to you a God, and I will save you from all your uncleannesses." See therefore, that the actual accomplishment agreed with what had before been promised by the holy prophets. Acknowledge Him as God----Him so gentle and loving unto men. Seize upon the way of salvation: flee from the law that killeth: accept |160 the faith which is above the law. For it is written, "That which is written killeth," even the law: "but the spirit giveth life," even the spiritual purification that is in Christ. Satan had bound the inhabitants of earth with the cords of sin: Christ has loosed them; He has made us free, has abolished the tyranny of sin, has driven away the accuser of our infirmities; and the Scripture is fulfilled, that "all iniquity shall stop its mouth;" "for it is God That justifieth: 'Who is he that condemneth?" This the divine Psalmist also prayed might be accomplished, when thus addressing Christ the Saviour of all. "Let sinners perish from off the earth: and the wicked, so that they may not be found." For verily we must not say of one clothed with the Spirit, that he curseth those who are infirm and sinful:----for it is not fitting for the saints to curse any:----but rather that he prays this of God. For before the coming of the Saviour we all were in sin: there was no one who acknowledged Him Who by nature and verily is God. "There was no one doing good, no not one; but they all had turned aside together, and become reprobate." But because the Only-begotten submitted Himself to emptiness, and became flesh, and was made man, sinners have perished, and exist no longer. For the dwellers upon earth have been justified by faith, have washed away the pollution of sin by holy baptism, have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, have sprung out of the hand of the enemy; and having bidden as it were the hosts of devils to depart, dwell under the yoke of Christ.
Christ's gifts therefore raise men to a hope long looked for, and to a most dear joy. The woman who was guilty of many impurities, and deserving of blame for most disgraceful deeds, was justified, that we also may have confidence that Christ certainly will have mercy upon us, when He sees us hastening to Him, and endeavouring to escape from the pitfalls of wickedness. Let us too stand before Him: let us shed the tears of repentance: let us anoint Him with ointment: for the tears of him that repenteth are a sweet savour to God. Call him to mind who saith, "Awake, they who are drunken with wine: weep and howl all they who drink wine to drunkenness." For Satan intoxicates the heart, and agitates the mind by wicked pleasure, leading men clown to the pollutions of sensuality. But while there is time, let us awake; and as most |161 wise Paul says, "Let us not be constantly engaged in revels and drunkenness, nor in chambering and wantonness; but rather let us work what is good: for we are not of the night, nor of darkness, but children of light and of the day. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and clothe ourselves with the works of light." Be not troubled when thou meditatest upon the greatness of thy former sins: but rather know, that still greater is the grace that justifieth the sinner, and absolveth the wicked.
Faith then in Christ is found to be the pledge to us of these great blessings: for it is the way that leadeth unto life: that bids us go to the mansions that are above: that raises us to the inheritance of the saints: that makes us members of the kingdom of Christ: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |162
8:4-8. And when a large multitude was gathered together, and some of every city were come to Him, He spake by a parable. The Sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and was trampled upon, and the birds of heaven devoured it. And other fell upon the rock, and, when it had sprung up, it withered away because it had no moisture. And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it. And other fell upon the good ground, and it grew up, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold. While saying these things He cried out, He that hath ears to hear let him hear.
The blessed prophets have spoken to us in manifold ways respecting Christ the Saviour of us all. For some proclaimed Him as a Light that was to come: and others as One of royal rank and greatness. For one of them even says, "Blessed is he who hath seed in Zion, and kinsmen in Jerusalem: for lo! her just king shall reign, and princes shall bear rule with judgment. And That Man shall be One That hideth His words." For the word of the Saviour is constantly, so to speak, hidden. So also the blessed Psalmist has brought Him before us saying, "I will open My mouth in parables." See therefore that that which was spoken by Him in old time has come to pass. For a large multitude was assembled round Him of people from all Judaea, and He spake to them in parables. But inasmuch as they were not worthy to learn the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, the word was wrapt for them in darkness: for they had killed the holy prophets, and being guilty of much blood of the righteous, heard themselves thus plainly addressed: "Which of the prophets have not your fathers killed?" And again, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her; how often would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you." |163
But their wicked acts did not extend merely to the holy prophets, but even mounted up to Him Who is Lord of the prophets: that is Christ. For being insolent, and setting up against Him, so to speak, their haughty neck, they gave not the slightest heed to the duty of receiving faith in Him: and even wickedly resisted His public teaching, and rebuked those who wished to be constantly with Him, and thirsted for His instruction, impiously saying, "He hath a devil and is mad: why hear ye Him?" To them therefore it was not granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but rather unto us, who are more ready to embrace the faith. For He hath given unto us, as being perfect wisdom, the ability "to understand parables, and the dark saying, the words of the wise, and their riddles." For parables we may say are the images not of visible objects, but rather of those cognizable by the intellect and spiritual. For that which it is impossible to see with the eyes of the body, the parable points out unto the eyes of the mind, beautifully shaping out the subtilty of things intellectual, by means of the things of sense, and which are as it were palpable to the touch. Let us see therefore what benefit the Saviour's word weaves for us.
The Sower, He says, went out to "sow his seed, and so forth." Concerning whom then did He thus speak? Evidently concerning Himself. For He verily is the Sower of all that is good, and we are His husbandry: and by Him and from Him is the whole harvest of spiritual fruits. And this He taught us when saying, "Without Me ye can do nothing."
In the imaginations therefore of the mind, see, I pray, a husbandman walking along, and everywhere casting seed in the fields: of which some falls on the pathways, and some on the rocks; and some on thorny places: and again some on good, that is, on fertile ground. That however on the |164 pathways was snatched away: and that on the rocks, when it had just sprouted, and scarcely shot up, quickly withered of drought: and that among thorns was choked: hut that which fell on good ground prospered, for it bore fruit, He says, a hundredfold.
Now what the aim is of the discourse, and what the profounder teaching of the parable, we shall learn from Him Who framed it. Before us even the blessed disciples found these things hard to understand, and drew near unto the Revealer of mysteries, supplicating Him and saying, "What is the parable? And what was Christ's reply? "The seed is the word of God: those on the way are they who have heard, and afterwards the devil cometh, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved." And 4 as to the cause of the seed on the pathways being snatched away, we see in a moment that it is the hardness of the ground. A pathway always is hard and untilled, because it is exposed to every one's feet, nor is any seed admitted into it, but lies rather upon the surface, ready for any birds that will to snatch it away. All those therefore, whose mind is hard and unyielding, and so to speak, pressed together, do not "receive the divine seed: for the divine and sacred admonition finds no entrance into them, nor do they accept the words that would produce in them the fear of God, and by means of which they could bring forth as fruits the glories of virtue. They have made themselves a beaten and trampled pathway for unclean demons, yea, and for Satan himself, such as never can bear holy fruit. Let those therefore awake, whose heart is sterile and unfruitful: open your mind, receive the sacred seed, be like productive and well-tilled soil, bring forth unto God the fruits that will raise you to an incorruptible life: guard your mind, shut the entrance against the thief, drive away from your hearts the flocks of birds, in order that the seed may abide with you; that ye may be ground luxuriant in corn, and very fertile, and rich abundantly in bringing forth fruit. |165
And next, let us also consider those others of whom Christ said, "And those upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, and they have no root: these for a while believe, and in time of temptation depart away." For there are verily men whose faith has not been proved, depending on words simply, and not applying their mind to the examining of the mystery: of such the piety is sapless and without root. For when they enter the churches, they feel pleasure often in seeing so many assembled, and joyfully receive instruction in the mysteries from him whose business it is to teach, and laud him with praises: but this they do with no discretion or judgment, but with unpurified wills: and when they have gone out of the churches, at once they forget the sacred doctrines, and proceed in their customary course; not having stored up within them any thing for their future benefit. And if the affairs of Christians go on peacefully, and no trial disturb them, they even then scarcely maintain in them the faith, and that, so to speak, in a confused and tottering state. But if persecution trouble them, and the enemies of the truth attack the churches of the Saviour, their heart loves not the battle, and their mind throws away the shield and flees, being devoid of zeal, and destitute of love towards God, and ready for desertion. But O ye fearful and infirm, one may well say, why do ye flee from that which would be your glory? and escape from conflicts to which ye have been trained? For hereby those who wish may win for themselves the trophy of victory. Do ye also struggle: twine the chaplet of manliness, thirst for the rewards of perseverance, for the honours of patience.
I think too that I may rightly bring forward the following argument: they who glitter on lofty thrones, and govern earthly things, when is it they see the steadfast soldier, whose desire is set on victory? Is it in times when peace smiles, and the din of arms is still? Or is it rather when he goes courageously against those who are marshalling for the attack? As I imagine, it is the latter case that is true rather than the former. Therefore as the prophet Jeremiah has said, "Take up arms and shields." Especially as the right hand of God our Saviour is invincible in the battle, and as most wise Paul has said, "He does not permit men to be tried more than they can |166 bear, but with the trial will make also the way of egress, that they may be able to endure patiently."
But even if it possibly be our lot to suffer when contending in defence of piety towards Christ, then altogether and in every way are we worthy of envy, and glorious, and possessed of splendid hopes. Moreover, a praised death is incomparably better than an ignominious life. For so also the Saviour said to the holy apostles, "Fear not them who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Did He therefore command us thus entirely to disregard these extreme dangers, while He Himself remained aloof from similar trials? But lo! He laid down His life for us, and with His blood purchased the world. We are therefore not our own, but His Who bought and redeemed us, and to Whom we owe our lives. For as the divine Paul said, "For this reason Christ died and lived, that He might be Lord of the dead and the living." We ought therefore to possess a mind incapable of being shaken, that especially whenever temptation arrive, we may shew ourselves approved and victorious in the power of patience: and ready with joy to undergo conflicts, and seize the opportunity of suffering for piety's sake towards Christ.
Thus much then being disposed of and explained, let us next consider the thorns among which the divine seed is choked. What again says the Saviour? "But that which fell among the thorns are they who have heard, and by cares, and wealth, and pleasures of the world, go and are choked, and yield no fruit." For the Saviour scatters the seed, which having obtained a firm hold in the souls that have received it, and already, so to say, shot up, and just begun to be visible, is choked by worldly cares, and dries up, being overgrown by empty occupations, and as the prophet Jeremiah 5 said, "it becomes a handful, that can produce no meal." In these things therefore we must be like skilful husbandmen: who having perseveringly cleansed away the thorns, and torn up by the root whatever is injurious, then scatter the seed in clean furrows; and therefore one can say with confidence, "that doubtless they shall come with joy, bearing their sheaves." But if a man cast his |167 seed in ground that is fertile in thorns, and fruitful in briars, and densely covered with useless stubble, he sustains a double loss: of his seed first, and also of his trouble. In order therefore that the divine seed may blossom well in us, let us first cast out of the mind worldly cares, and the unprofitable anxiety which makes us seek to be rich, "For we brought nothing into the world, nor can we take any thing out." For what profit is there in possessing superfluities? "Treasures profit not the wicked," as Scripture saith, "but righteousness delivereth from death." For immediately upon the possession of affluence, there run up, and, so to speak, forthwith hem us in, the basest wickednesses; profligate banquets, the delights of gluttony, and carefully prepared sauces; music, and drunkenness, and the pitfalls of wantonness; pleasures and sensuality, and pride hateful to God. But as the disciple of the Saviour has said, "Every thing that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of the world; and the world passeth away, and its lust; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
This is the good seed, and worthy of admiration: the land rich and well productive, that bringeth forth fruit a hundredfold. For men say, that the best soils do sometimes under cultivation produce a hundredfold; so that this is a mark of every fertile and productive spot. And of such it has been very justly said by one of the holy prophets at the mouth of God, "And all nations shall congratulate you; because ye are a desirable land." For when the divine word falls upon a mind pure and skilful in cleansing itself from things hurtful, it then fixes its root deeply, and shoots up like an ear of corn, and so to speak, being strong in blade, and well flowered, brings its fruit to perfection.
But I think it may be useful to mention this to you, who wish to learn what is good. For Matthew, when relating this chapter to us, said that the good ground brought forth, fruit in three degrees. "For one, he says, brought forth a hundred, |168 and one sixty, and one thirtyfold." Observe therefore, that just as Christ described three degrees of loss, so similarly the degrees of success are equal in number. For those seeds that fall upon the pathway are snatched away by the birds: and those upon the rocks, having merely shot up, within a little while wither away: and those among the thorns are choked. But that desirable land brings forth fruit in three several degrees, as I said: a hundred, sixty, and thirtyfold. For as most wise Paul writes, "Each one severally of us has his own gift from God, one in one manner, and another in another." For we do not at all find that the successes of the saints are in equal measure. On us however it is incumbent to emulate these things that are better and superior to those of meaner kind; for so will Christ bountifully bestow happiness upon us: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |169
8:19-21. And there came to Him His mother, and His brethren, and were not able to speak with Him because of the multitude. Bui it was told Him, Thy mother, and Thy brethren stand without, wishing to see Thee. But He answered and said unto them, My mother and My brethren are these who hear the word of God and do it.
ONCE again let the words of praise in the book of Psalms be quoted by us; "What shall I render unto the Lord for all He hath rendered unto me?" For what can we offer Him that is equal to His love towards us? Shall we choose for our guidance the commands of the law, and honour Him with sacrifices of blood? Does He feel pleasure in the slaughter of bullocks and goats? No certainly: for they are an abomination unto Him. For by one of His holy prophets He even plainly declared to those who were rendering Him the legal service, "I hate, I abominate your feast days: nor will I smell at your festivals: because though ye bring Me whole burnt offerings and sacrifices, I will not accept them; nor regard your displays for salvation." What therefore ought to be the spiritual sacrifice which we offer Him, the wise Psalmist again teaches us saying, "I said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord; because my good things Thou needest not." When thus we approach Him, He will accept us: if this be the offering we make Him it will be dear and agreeable: this is the spiritual sacrifice, according as it is written, "Hath the Lord delight in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in our hearkening to His voice? Behold! to hearken is better than sacrifices; and to listen than the fat of rams." For that obedience and the hearkening unto God, is the cause of every blessing, the present lesson teaches us. For some entered and told Christ respecting His holy mother and His brethren. And He, it says, answered in these words, "My mother and My brethren are they who hear the word of God and do it."
Now let not any one imagine that Christ spurned the honour due to His mother, or contemptuously disregarded the love owed |170 to His brethren: for He it was Who spake the law by Moses, and clearly said, "Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee." And how I pray could He have rejected the love due to brethren, Who even commanded us to love not merely our brethren, but those who stand in the relation to us of foes? For He says, "Love your enemies." What therefore does Christ wish to teach? His object then is highly to exalt His love towards those who are willing to bow the neck to His commands: and in what way I will explain. The greatest honours; and the most complete affection is that which we all owe to our mothers and brethren. If therefore He says that they who hear His word and do it are His mother and brethren, is it not plain to every one, that He bestows on those who follow Him a love thorough and worthy of their acceptance? For so He would make them readily embrace the desire of yielding themselves to His words, and of submitting their mind to His yoke, by means of a complete obedience.
But that God greatly rejoices in those whose minds are thus disposed, He assures us by one of the holy prophets, thus saying, "And on whom shall I look, except upon the humble and meek, and that trembleth at My words?" For just as our fathers after the flesh feel pleasure in those sons whose choice it is to perform the things that are good and agreeable to them, and who wish to accord with them in mind, so also the God of all loves the obedient, and deigns His mercy to him who thoroughly hearkens to Him. And the converse also is true: that he rejects him who is disobedient and untractable. For He also blamed the Jews who fell into this wickedness, saying, "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if I then am a father, where is My honour? and if I am a master, where is My fear? saith the Lord Almighty." For either we ought to fear the Lord of all as a master, or to honour Him at least as a father,----a thing which is far greater and better than the former: for love casteth out fear.
For that there is no obedience without reward, and on the other hand, no disobedience without penalty, is made plain by what God spake by His holy prophet to those who disregarded Him: "Behold, they who serve Me shall eat, but ye shall suffer hunger: behold, they who serve Me shall drink, but ye shall suffer thirst: behold, they who obey Me shall |171 rejoice, but ye shall lament: behold, they who serve Me shall exult in happiness, but ye shall groan, and wail from contrition of your heart." For let us see, if you will, even from the writings of Moses, the grief to which disobedience has brought us. We have been driven from a paradise of delights, and have also fallen under the condemnation of death; and while intended for incorruption:----for so God created the universe:----we yet have become accursed, and subject to the yoke of sin. And how then have we escaped from that which befel us, or Who is He that aided us, when we had sunk into this great misery? It was the Only-begotten Word of God, by submitting Himself to our estate, and being found in fashion as a man, and becoming obedient unto the Father even unto death. Thus has the guilt of the disobedience that is by Adam been remitted: thus has the power of the curse ceased, and the dominion of death been brought to decay. And this too Paul teaches, saying, "For as by the disobedience of the one man, the many became sinners, so by the obedience of the One, the many became righteous." For the whole nature of man became guilty in the person of him who was first formed; but now it is wholly justified again in Christ. For He became for us the second commencement of our race after that primary one; and therefore all things in Him have become new. And Paul assures of this, writing, "Therefore every man who is in Christ is a new creation; and the former things have passed away: behold, they have become new."
In order then that Christ may win us all unto obedience, He promises us surpassing honours, and deigns us the highest love, saying, "My mother and My brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it." For who among men is so obdurate and ungentle, as to refuse to honour, and accord the most complete love to his mother and brethren? For the all-powerful law of nature, even without our will, obliges us to this. When therefore, bowing our neck to the Saviour's commands, we become His followers, and so are in the relation of a mother and brethren to Him, how does He regard us before God's judgment seat? Is it not with gentleness and love? What doubt can there be of this? And what is comparable to this honour and goodness? What is there worthy of being matched with a gift thus splendid and desirable? For He takes us unto Him, that where |172 He is, there we also may be with Him. For this He even deigned to promise us, saying, "I will go, and make ready a place for you: and return again and take you with Me, that where I am, there ye also may be with Me."
Servitude, therefore, is a thing worth our gaining, and the pledge of noble honours. And this, we say, is fulfilled not by our merely hearing the words of God, but by our endeavouring to perform what is commanded. This thou learnest from what one of the holy Apostles declares: "But become doers of the law 6, and not hearers only. If any be a hearer of the law, and not a doer, he is like a man regarding his natural face in a mirror. For he has regarded himself, and gone away: and at once forgotten what manner of person he was. But he who hath, looked into the perfect law of liberty, and wrought: not being a forgetful hearer, but an active doer,7 he shall be blessed in his doing."
Now though the argument already brought forward is sufficient for the persuasion of right-thinking men, yet I will add for their advantage that also which is correctly said in the words of the blessed Paul: "For the land that hath drunk in the rain that hath come oft upon it, and bringeth forth the root serviceable for them for whose sake it is tilled, receiveth a blessing from God. But if it bring forth thorns and thistles, it is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing: and its end is to be burnt." For like rain, the Saviour sendeth down upon the hearts of those who hear, the word of spiritual consolation; even the sacred doctrine of salvation. If then a man be possessed of understanding, he will bring forth the fruits of an abundant intellectual harvest: but if he be careless and negligent, he of course has no claim to the praises of virtue, and instead of grapes will bring forth thorns. And what his end will be, we learn from the words of Isaiah. For he says: |173 "For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the man of Judah: a plant new and well-beloved: and I looked that it would bring forth grapes, but it brought forth iniquity, and not righteousness, but a cry." And that Israel was thus punished for its neglect of that fruitfulness which was both fitting for itself and well pleasing to God; having neither obeyed His commands, nor consented to perform them; we learn again from' His words, where He says: "But now I will shew you what I will do to My vineyard. I will take away its fence, and it shall be wasted: and I will rend its wall, and it shall be trampled under foot. And I will abandon My vineyard: and it shall not be pruned, nor tilled: and thorns shall grow up in it as on waste ground; and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it." It is plain, therefore, to every man, that God hath no respect for the wicked soul that beareth thorns. For it is left unprotected, and without a wall, and exposed to the depredations of whoever will; a place for thieves and wild animals; and sharing in no spiritual consolation. For this I consider, and this only, is the meaning of there falling upon it no rain. When Israel suffered these things, the Psalmist so to speak wailed over him, and said to the God of all: "The vine that Thou broughtest out of Egypt, Thou castedst out the nations and plantedst it." And again thus proceeds: "Its shade covered the mountains; and its boughs were as the cedars of God: it sent forth its branches to the sea, and its foliage to the river." He made too supplications for what they had suffered, saying; "Why hast Thou broken down her hedges, and all the wayfarers pluck her? The boar out of the wood destroyeth her: and the ass of the desert feedeth upon her." For the soul that is undefended, and deemed unworthy of protection from on high, becomes a pasture ground for evil beasts. For it is plundered by Satan and his angels.
In order, therefore, that we may not fall into such severe tribulations, let us bow the neck of our mind to Christ the Saviour of all. Let us receive the Word of God and do it: for if our choice be so to act, He will crown us with lofty honours; for He is the distributor of the crowns; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |174
8:22-25. But it came to pass on a certain day that He went into a ship with His disciples. And He said unto them, Let us go over to the other side of the lake: and they went. But as they were sailing, He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind upon the lake, and the ship was filled and they were in danger. And they drew near, and awoke Him, saying, Master, Master, we perish. Then He arose, and rebuked the winds, and the raging of the waters, and they were still: and there was a great calm. But He said to them, Where is your faith? And they were afraid, and wondered among themselves, saying, Who, then, is This, that He commandeth even the winds, and waters, and they obey Him?
ONCE again draw near, that as with the Psalmist's harp we may cry aloud: "I will bless the Lord at all times: and at all times shall His praise be in my mouth." For He ever doeth wonderful things; and giveth occasions thick and closely pressing one upon another for His praise: and every word falls short of His power, and of His majesty far exalted above all. For true is it that "the glory of the Lord covereth over the Word." But we must not on this account forget the glory that is His due and fitting right: but rather must hasten joyfully to offer such fruits as are proportionate to our power. For certainly there is nothing whatsoever that a man can affirm to be better than praise, even though it be but little that we can offer. Come, therefore, and let us praise Christ the Saviour of all: let us behold the supremacy of His might, and the majesty of His godlike dominion.
For He was sailing, together with the holy Apostles, across the sea, or rather lake of Tiberias, and an unexpected and violent tempest arose upon the vessel; and the waves, piled up high by the gusts of the winds, filled the disciples with the fear of death. For they were terrified not a little, although well acquainted with seamanship, and by no means inexperienced |175 in the tumults of the waves. But inasmuch as the greatness of the clangor made their terror now unendurable, as having no other hope of safety except Him only Who is the Lord of powers even Christ, they arouse Him, saying, Master, Master, save us, we perish: for the Evangelist says that He was asleep.8 With most wise purpose, as it seems to me, was this also done. For some one, I imagine, may say, Why did He fall asleep at all? To which we reply, that the event was so arranged as to be good and profitable. For that they might not ask aid of Him immediately when the tempest began to dash upon the ship, but when, so to speak, the evil was at its height, and the terrors of death were troubling the disciples; that so the might of His godlike sovereignty might be more manifest, in calming the raging sea, and rebuking the savage blasts of the wind, and changing the tempest to a calm, and that the event might thus become a means of improvement to them that were sailing with Him, He purposely fell asleep.
But they, as I said, wake Him, saying: Save 9 me, We perish. See here, I pray, smallness of faith united with faith. For they believe that He can save; and deliver from all evil those who call upon Him. For had they not so far had a firm faith in Him, they certainly would not have asked this of Him, And yet as having but little faith, they say, Save me, we perish. For it was not a thing possible, or that could |176 happen, for them to perish when they were with Him Who is Almighty.
The vessel, then, was severely tossed by the violence of the tempest, and the breaking of the waves: and along with the whip the faith of the disciples also was tossed, so to speak, by similar agitations. But Christ, Whose authority extends over all, immediately arose, and at once appeased the storm, restrained the blasts of wind, quieted their fear, and yet further proved by deeds that He is God, at Whom all created things tremble and quake, and to Whose nods is subject the very nature of the elements. For He rebuked the tempest: and Matthew says that the manner of the rebuke was with godlike authority. For he tells us, that our Lord said to the sea: "Peace, be thou still." What can there be more grand than this in majesty? or what can equal its sublimity? Right worthy of God is the word, and the might of the commandment, so that we too may utter the praise written in the book of Psalms: "Thou rulest the power of the sea: and stillest the turbulence of its waves." He too has Himself said somewhere by one of the holy prophets: "Why fear ye not Me, saith the Lord? nor tremble at My presence? I Who have set the sand as the bound of the sea, a commandment for ever, and it hath not passed it." For the sea is subject to the will of Him Who made all creation, and is, as it wore, placed under the Creator's feet, varying its motions at all times according to His good pleasure, and yielding submission to His lordly will.
When, therefore, Christ had calmed the tempest, He also changed into confidence the faith of the holy disciples, which had been shaken along with the ship, no longer permitting it to be in doubt; and wrought in them, so to say, a calm, smoothing the waves of their weak faith. For He said, "Where is your faith?" 10 Another Evangelist, however, affirms of Him, that He said, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" For when the fear of death unexpectedly |177 befals, it troubles sometimes even a well-established mind, and exposes it to the blame of littleness of faith; and such also is the effect of any other trouble too great to boar upon those who are tried by it. For this reason there once drew near certain unto Christ, and said: "Increase our faith."' For the man who is still exposed to blame for littleness of faith falls short of him who is perfect in faith. For just as gold is tried in the fire, so also is faith by temptations. But the mind of man is weak, and altogether in need of strength and help from above, in order that it may be well with him, and that he may be able to maintain a steadfast course, and be strong, manfully to endure whatsoever befal. And this our Saviour taught us, saying; "Without Me ye can do nothing." And the wise Paul also confesses the same, where he writes; "I am able to do all things through Christ, That strengtheneth me."
The Saviour, therefore, wrought miracles, changing by His all-prevailing nod the tempest into a calm, and smoothing the raging storm into a settled peace. But the disciples wondering at the divine sign, whispered one to another, saying: "Who, then, is This, that He commands even the winds and the waters, and they obey Him?" Did the blessed disciples, then, thus say to one another, "Who is This?" from not knowing Him? But how is not this utterly incredible? For they knew Jesus to be God, and the Son of God. For also Nathaniel plainly confessed, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel." Yes, and Peter too, that chosen one of all the Apostles, when they were in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, and Christ put a question to them all, and said, "Whom do men say that the Son of man "is?" and certain had answered, '' Some, indeed, Elias; but others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets"----made a correct and blameless confession of faith in Him, saying, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God." And Christ praised him for thus speaking, honoured him with crowns, and counted the disciple worthy of surpassing honours: for He said, '' Blessed art thou, Simon, son of Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father in heaven." And how could Peter, who was taught of God, not know Him Whom he plainly said was the Son of the living God? It was not then as being ignorant of His glory, that the wise disciples say, |178 Who is This? but rather as wondering at the immensity of His power, and at the lofty and incomparable greatness of His sovereignty. For the wretched Jews, either as being entirely ignorant of the mystery of Christ, or as not deigning Him, in their great wickedness, any regard, rebuked Him, and threw stones at Him, when He called God His Father. For they ventured even to say, "Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God?" For they did not comprehend in their mind the depth of the mystery. God was in visible form like unto us: the Lord of all bore the likeness of a slave: He Who is high exalted was in lowliness: and He who surpasses all intellectual comprehension, and transcends every created being, was in the measure of us men. And as the disciples knew this, they wonder at the glory of the Godhead; and as they view It present in Christ, and yet see that He was like unto us, and visible in the flesh, they say, "Who is This?" instead of, How great He is! and of what nature! and with how great power, and authority, and majesty. He commands even the waters and the wind, and they obey Him!
There is also in this much for the admiration and improvement of those who hear: for creation is obedient to whatsoever Christ chooses to command. And what excuse can avail us, if we do not submit to do the same? or can deliver from the fire and condemnation him who is disobedient and untractable, setting up, so to speak, the neck of his haughty mind against Christ's commands, and whose heart it is impossible to soften? It is our duty, therefore, understanding that all those things that have been brought into existence by God entirely agree with His will, ourselves to become like the rest of creation, and avoid disobedience as a thing that leads to perdition. Let us rather, then, submit to Him Who summons us to salvation, and to the desire of living uprightly and lawfully, that is, evangelically: for so Christ will fill us with the gifts that come from above, and from Himself: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and over, Amen 11. |179
8:26-36. And they went to the country of the Gerasenes, which is over against Galilee. And when He went out on land, there met Him a certain man who had devils, and for a long time had not worn clothing, nor abode in a house, but in the tombs. And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, What is there between me and Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High? I beseech Thee, Torment me not. But He had commanded the unclean spirit to go out of the man: for from a long time it had seized him, and he was kept bound with chains and fetters, and was watched: and breaking his bonds, he was driven, by the devil into the wilderness. And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because that many devils had entered into him. And they besought Him not to command them to go into the abyss. But there was there a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought Him to suffer them to enter into them. And He suffered them. But when the devils had gone out of the man, they entered into the swine. And the herd rushed over the precipice into the lake, and was drowned. When then the keepers saw what had happened, they fled, and told it in the city and villages. And they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man out of whom the devils had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed, and sober-minded. And they were afraid. But they who saw it told them in what manner the demoniac had been saved.
THE prophet Habakkuk foresaw the glory of the Saviour, and, overcome by His wonderful deeds, he offered up praises unto Him, saying: "O Lord, I have heard Thy hearing, and been afraid: I have considered Thy doings, and been |180 astonished." For of which of the deeds wrought by our common Saviour Christ can any one say, that it is not worthy of all admiration? which of them is not great, and highly to be praised, and a proof of His godlike authority? And this we can very clearly see in what has been here read to us from the evangelic Scriptures. Let us behold, then, the tyranny of the enemy shaken by Christ, and the earth set free from the wickedness of demons: let us see the heads of the serpent bruised by Him, and the swarm of venomous reptiles driven away overpowered and in terror: and those who in old time had been full of cunning and audacity; who had held subject to their sway all that lies beneath the heavens; who had prided themselves upon their temples of vast cost, and on their beautifully sculptured altars; who had been honoured with sacrifices; and crowned with universal praises; fall from their former glory, and as though retaining sovereignty over no one single man, beg for a herd of swine! A very plain proof is this of the unexpected misery that had befallen them, and of their being broken utterly.
But no more: for I perceive that in my discourse I have taken a leap, as it were, from what we began with, and have hurried to the latter part of the lesson. Come, therefore, that, like a fleet and strong-limbed horse, we may as with a bridle, turn it back to the beginning. For the Saviour, in company with the holy disciples, had landed in the country of the Gerasenes; and immediately a man met them, in whom dwelt many unclean spirits: and he was void of mind and understanding, and in no respect different from those already dead, and laid in the earth: or rather, perhaps, even in a more miserable state. For they, carefully wrapped in their grave-clothes, are laid in the earth, like one on his mother's bosom: but he, in great misery and nakedness, wandering among the graves of the dead, was in utter wretchedness, leading a disgraceful and ignominious life: and so was a proof of the cruelty of the demons, and a plain demonstration of their impurity. And besides this, it is a charge and accusation against them of hatred unto mankind: for they would have no man whatsoever upon earth sober, but wish them like one intoxicated, and crazed, to know nothing to their profit, but be left in ignorance even of Him Who is the Maker of all. For of |181 whomsoever they have possession, and have subjected to their power, him at once they make an example of great misery, deprived of every blessing, and destitute of all sobriety, and bereft moreover entirely even of reason itself.
But why, say some, have they possession of men? To such, then, as wish to have this explained, I answer, that the reason of these things is very deep: for so somewhere God is addressed by one of His saints, "Thy judgments are a vast abyss." But as long as we bear this in mind, we shall perchance not shoot beside the mark. The God of all, then, purposely permits some to fall into their power, not so much that they may suffer, as that we may learn by their example in what way the demons treat us, and so may avoid the wish of being subject to them. For by the suffering of one, many are edified.
But the Gerasene, or rather the herd of demons lying concealed within him, fell down before Christ's feet, saying, "What is there between me and Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High? I beseech Thee, torment me not.'" Here observe, I pray, the mixture of fear with great audacity, and overweening pride: and that the words which he is forced, as it were, to ejaculate, are coupled with inflated haughtiness! For it is a proof of the pride of the enemy, that he ventures to say, "What is there between me and Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High? Thou knowest, then, for certain, that He is the Son of God Most High: thou therefore confessest that He is also God, and Lord of heaven and earth, and of all things therein: and how, then, having usurped that which is not thine, or rather that which is His, and assumed to thyself a glory which in no possible way is thy right:----for thou claimedst to be worshipped:----didst thou affirm that He had nothing to do with thee, Whom, as far as thy endeavours went, thou causedst to be expelled from that dignity which most fitly is His alone? All men upon earth are His; and these thou wickedly corruptedst, removing them far from the knowledge of Him Who truly is the Lord and Maker of all, and plungedst them into the mire of sin, making them thy worshippers:----and afterwards dost thou say, "What is there between me and Thee?" What earthly king would endure to have those placed under his sceptre harrassed by barbarians? Or what |182 shepherd is so unfeeling and indifferent, as when savage beasts attack his flocks, to take no heed of the calamity, nor endeavour to aid his sheep? Confess, even though against thy will, who thou art, and to Whom thou speakest. Utter words such as befit thee: such namely as, "I pray Thee, torment me not." "For He had commanded, it says, the spirit to go out of the man."
Observe, I pray again, the incomparable majesty of Him Who transcends all, even of Christ. With irresistible might and unequalled authority He crushes Satan by simply willing that so it should be. He does not permit him to venture to give one look of opposition to His commands. Fire and flames unto him was Christ's will: so that it is true as the blessed Psalmist said, that "the hills melted like wax before the face of God." And again elsewhere, "Touch the hills, and they shall smoke." For he compares to the hills those high and boastful powers of wickedness; which nevertheless, as though in contact with fire, melt like wax before the might and sovereignty of our Saviour. And besides this they smoke: now smoke is an indication of tire about to burst into a blaze; and this it is the lot of the impure spirits to suffer.
But Christ asked him, and commanded him to tell, What was his name. And he said, "Legion, because that many devils had entered into him." Did Christ then ask because He did not know it, and like one of us, wished to learn it as something that had escaped Him? But how is it not perfectly absurd for us to say or imagine any thing of the kind? For as being God, "He knoweth all things, and searcheth the hearts and reins." He asked therefore for the plan of salvation's sake, that we might learn that a great multitude of devils shared 12 the one soul of the man, engendering in him a wretched and impure madness. For he was their work, and they indeed are "wise to do evil," as the Scripture saith, but to do "good they have no knowledge."
As therefore the Psalmist said, "let us keep the feast with flowers." And "Let all the people clap their hands." For |183 let us bear in mind what was the character of our enemies; and who were those princes of all beneath the heavens before the coining of our Saviour: bitter were they, impure, murderers, and full of all immorality. But Christ setteth us free from the hatred of these noxious beings. Let us therefore with exultation and gladness in our great joy exclaim, "We will cut asunder their cords, and cast away their yoke from us." For we have been set free, as I said, by the might of Christ, and delivered from those bitter and iniquitous beings, who in old time had the dominion over us. |184
The herd then of impure spirits asked for a herd----worthy of and like itself----of swine! And Christ purposely gave them leave, though He well knew what they would do. And I can imagine some one saying, Why did He grant their request? To which we answer, That He gave them the power, in order that this, like all His other conduct, might be a means of benefit to us, and inspire us with the hope of safety. But perhaps thou wilt say, How, and in what manner? Listen therefore. They ask for power over swine: plainly as something which they do not possess. For what possible doubt can there be, that they would not have asked it, if it had been in their power to take it without hindrance? But those who have no power over things thus trifling and valueless, how can they injure any one of those whom Christ has scaled, and who place their hope on Him? Comfort therefore thy heart: for perhaps thou wast terrified at hearing that a crowd of wicked spirits dwelt in one man, and made him wander among the graves of the dead in shame and nakedness, and bereft of mind and understanding. Inasmuch as thou too art a man exposed to temptations, thou fearedst a misery thus bitter and unendurable, should Satan attack thee. Rouse therefore thy heart to confidence: do not suppose that any such thing can happen while Christ surrounds us with protection and love. It is certain that they possess no power even over swine. So great is the providence which the Almighty Governor of our affairs deigns to bestow on human things. For He even said to the holy apostles, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them falleth to the ground without your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." For if He bestow His protection upon things thus trifling and valueless, how will He not deem us worthy of all regard, for whose sake He Who by nature is God, even became man, and endured the contumelies of the Jews? Away therefore with fear: for God aids, and encircles with the armour of His good pleasure those whose wish it is to live for Him, and who seek to perform those things that are pleasing in His sight.
And this too we may learn, from what befel the herd of swine, that wicked demons are cruel, and mischievous, and hurtful, and treacherous to those who are in their power. |185
This the fact clearly proves, that they hurried the swine over a precipice and drowned them in the waters. Christ therefore granted their request, that we might learn from what happened, that their disposition is ruthless and bestial, incapable of being softened, and solely intent on doing evil to those whom they can get into their power.
if therefore there be any one among us wanton and swinish, filth-loving and impure, and willingly contaminated with the abominations of sin, such a one by God's permission, falls into their power, and sinks into the abyss of perdition. But it can never happen to those who love Christ, to become subject unto them: nor to us, as long as we walk in His footsteps, and, avoiding negligence in the performance of what is right, desire those things which are honourable, and belong to that virtuous and laudable conversation, which Christ has marked out for us by the precepts of the Gospel: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |186
8:40-48. And when Jesus returned, the multitude received Him; for they were all waiting for Him. And behold there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. And as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. A woman who had had an issue of blood twelve years, and had spent all her substance upon physicians, and could be healed of none, came near behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood staunched. And Jesus said, Who touched Me? And when all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitudes press and throng Thee. But Jesus said, Some one touched Me; for I know that power has gone forth from Me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid from Him, she came trembling, and fell down before Him, and declared before all the people, for what cause she had touched Him, and that she was healed immediately. And He said unto her, My daughter, thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.
Those who are skilful in elucidating the mystery of the dispensation of the Only-begotten in the flesh, and whose minds are illuminated with divine light, the Spirit commanded, saying, "Declare His praise among the Gentiles, and His miracles among all nations." Did He then command them to declare the praise of our universal Saviour Christ among the multitudes of the Gentiles, to the inhabitants, that is, of the whole world, for no other reason than that He might be admired, or was it not that He might also be believed on by all men? I verily affirm that it was both in order that He might be admired, and also that we might believe that the Word of God the Father is very God, even though, as John says, He was made flesh. For He also somewhere declares unto the Jews, "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not: |187 but if I do them, though ye believe not Me, believe the works."
Let us then once again behold Him benefiting multitudes by the miracles He wrought for their good. For there was a ruler and teacher of the synagogue of the Jews, called Jairus; and him the Gospel narrative here announces to us. For he fell down before the feet of Christ our common Saviour, to ask for the unloosing of death, and the annulling of corruption. For his daughter was, so to speak, at the very gates of the grave. Come then, and let us ask Jairus to tell us in what light he regards Him to Whom he offers his request. For if thou drawest near regarding Him as a mere man, and like unto one of us; as one, that is, Who possesses no power superior to ourselves, thou missest thy mark, and hast wandered from the right road, in asking of a man that which requires the power of God. The supreme nature alone is able to give life to the dead. It alone has immortality: and from It every thing that is called into being borrows its life and motion. Ask therefore of men the things that belong unto men, and of God the things that belong unto God.
Moreover thou worshippest Him as the Almighty God: and doest so, as certainly knowing and testifying that He is able to give thee the accomplishment of thy requests. What argument therefore is sufficient for thy defence, that once thou stonedst Christ the Saviour of all; and with the rest didst persecute Him, and most foolishly and impiously say, "For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy: because that Thou being a man, makest Thyself God."
And not only must we wonder at this, but at the following as well. For Lazarus indeed arose from the dead at the summons of Christ, Who made him come forth from the very grave, when he had been there four days, and corruption had already begun. And those indeed who were spectators of the miracle were astonished at the majesty of the deed. But the rulers of the synagogue of the Jews made the very miracle food for envy, and an act thus great and excellent was stored up in their memory as a seed whence sprung the guilt of murder. For when they had assembled, they took counsel one with another, certainly for no lawful deed, but for one rather that brought upon them their final doom. For they said, "What |188 do we? for This man doeth many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, the Romans will come, and take away both our nation and our place." What then sayest thou to this, O Jairus? Thou sawest death abolished in the case of Lazarus; death which always and to every one before had been stern and unyielding. Thou sawest destruction lose its power, from which no one on earth had escaped. And how then dost thou imagine thou canst make Him subject unto death Who is supreme over death: the Overthrower of destruction, and the Giver of life? How can He Who delivered others from the snares of death, Himself be liable to suffer it, unless He wills so to do for the plan of salvation's sake. The text therefore concerning them is true, "that they are foolish children, and unwise."
But the fate of the damsel was not without profit to her father. For just as sometimes the violence of the reins brings the spirited steed that has bounded away from the road back to its proper course, so also trouble often compels the soul of man to yield obedience to those things which are for its good, and are commanded. To this effect we find the blessed David also addressing God over all, concerning those men who, not being as yet willing to walk uprightly, were led on, so to speak, by the disorderly impulses of their mind to the pit of destruction. "With bridle and bit Thou shalt restrain the jaws of those who draw not near to Thee." For the force of circumstances brings men, as I said, even against their wills to the necessity of bowing their neck to God, as we may see indirectly shewn in the Gospel parables. For Christ somewhere said, that when the banquet was ready, a servant was sent to call them to the supper, and gather those that were bidden: but they, employing fictitious excuses of various kinds, would not come. Then the Lord, it says, spake to that servant: "Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in that My house may be filled." What then is the meaning of men being invited from the hedges,----and that as it were by force,----if it be not what is here referred to? For sometimes misfortunes beyond the power of endurance hedge men into extreme misery: and meeting, it may be, with care and assistance from those who fear Christ, they are thus led on unto faith in Him and love: and being weaned from their former |189 error received by tradition from their fathers, they accept the saving word of the Gospel. And such we may well affirm to be those who are called from the hedges. It is indeed more excellent and praiseworthy, when the withdrawal from former error to hasten to the truth is the fruit of freewill: and such converts gathering the confirmation of their belief from the sacred Scriptures, and enjoying the instruction of such as are skilful in initiating men into the mysteries, will advance onwards to a correct and blameless faith. But those others, who are kindled, if we may so speak, by force and the troubles they meet with to the acknowledgment of the truth, are not upon an equality with the former, but when admitted must be careful to maintain constancy, and flee from a fickle levity: for it is their duty to preserve an unwavering faith, lest they be found reprobate and feeble workers, deserters after the seal 13, cowards and traitors after taking up arms. Let them not hasten back to their former deeds, lest that be said of them which was spoken by one of the holy apostles: "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of truth, than having known it to turn back from the holy commandment that was delivered unto them. The case of the true proverb has befallen them: the dog that returns to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to wallowing in the mire."
Not however to make this digression too long, let us return to our original subject. Jairus then drew near; but we deny that his coming was the fruit of freewill; rather it was the fear of death which made him thus act against his will: for it had already, so to speak, assailed his daughter; and she was |190 his only one. He set utterly at nought then the reputation of consistency in his wicked words and thoughts. For he who had ofttimes made the attempt to slay Christ, for raising the dead from the grave, asks of Him the unloosing of death. In order then that his character may be seen to be harsh and abominable, and that he may be convicted of being such by the very facts, Christ accompanied him, and yielded to his request.
But there was also a sort of wise management in what was done. For had He not yielded to his request for grace, both himself and whosoever else suffered under the same ignorance, or rather, want of common sense, would have said forsooth, that He was not able to raise the damsel, nor drive death away from her, even if He had gone to the house: that being then without power, and unequal to the accomplishment of the divine miracle, He made His displeasure at Jairus a pretext for keeping away. To put a stop therefore to the impure and unbridled calumny of the Jews, and restrain the tongues of the numerous persons ever ready for fault-finding, He consents immediately, and promises to raise up her who was in danger. And the promises were followed by the fulfiment, in order that disbelief on their part might be without excuse, and that this miracle, like the rest, might be for their condemnation. For Christ also said of them, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father."
The Saviour then wont to raise the damsel, and to implant in the dwellers upon earth the sure hope of the resurrection of the dead. But as He was midway on His road, another miracle, not unlike the former, was wonderfully wrought. For there was a woman afflicted with an issue of blood, the prey of a severe and violent malady, which refused to yield to the skill of physicians, and set at nought all the appliances of human remedies. For she could "not be healed, it says, by any," even though she had unsparingly lavished all her substance upon those who promised to deliver her from her disease. When therefore the unhappy woman had given up all hope from men, and now survived only for utter misery, she conceived in her a wise plan. For she had recourse to the Physician Who is from above, from heaven, as One Who is able |191 readily and without effort to effect those things that are beyond our power, and Whose decrees, whatever it be He would accomplish, nothing can oppose.
Her faith in this was perhaps occasioned by seeing Jairus leading Him to his house, to prove Himself mightier than death, by delivering his daughter from its inevitable bonds. For she thought perchance within herself, that if He be mightier than death, and the destroyer of corruption, how much more can He also alleviate the malady that afflicts her, staunching by ineffable power the fountains of her issue of blood! She draws near therefore and touches the hem of His garment; but secretly and not openly: for she hoped to be able to escape notice, and. as it were, to steal healing from One Who knew not of it. But why, tell me, was the woman careful to escape notice? For why should she not draw near to Christ with more boldness than that leper, and ask for the remission of her incurable pain?, For he said, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." Why should not she act like those blind men, who when Christ passed by called out and said, "Have mercy upon us, Lord Jesus, the Son of David"? What then was it made that sick woman wish to remain hid? It was because the law of the all-wise Moses imputed impurity to any woman who was suffering from an issue of blood, and everywhere called her unclean: and whoever was unclean, might neither touch any thing that was holy, nor approach a holy man. For this reason the woman was careful to remain concealed, lest as having transgressed the law, she should have to bear the punishment which it imposed. And when she touched, she was healed immediately and without delay.
But the miracle did not remain hid; for the Saviour, though knowing all things, asked as if He knew it not, saying, 'Who touched Me?' And when the holy apostles with good reason said, "The multitudes throng Thee and press Thee 14," He sets before them what had been done, saying, "Somebody touched Me: for I know that power has gone forth from Me." Was |192 it then for love of glory that the Lord did not allow this instance of His godlike working----the miracle, I mean, that had happened to the woman to remain concealed? By no means do we say this, but rather, that it was because He ever keeps in view the benefit of those who are called to grace through faith. The concealment then of the miracle would have been injurious to many, but being made known, it benefited them in no slight degree; and especially the ruler of the synagogue himself. For it gave security to the hope to which he looked forward, and made him firmly trust that Christ would deliver his daughter from the bonds of death.
But it is itself a fit subject for our admiration. For that woman was delivered, being saved from a state of suffering thus bitter and incurable; and thereby we again obtain the firm assurance, that the Emmanuel is very God. How and in what manner? Both from the miraculous event itself, and from the words which with divine dignity He spake. "For, I know, He said, that power has gone forth from Me." But it transcends our degree, or probably that even of the angels, to send forth any power, and that of their own nature, as something that is of themselves. Such an act is an attribute appropriate solely to the Nature That is above all, and supreme. For every created being whatsoever that is endued with power, whether of healing, or the like, possesses it not of itself, but as a thing given it by God. For to the creature all things are given, and wrought in it, and of itself it can do nothing. As God therefore He said "I knew that power has gone forth from Me."
And the woman now made confession; and inasmuch as with her malady, with the disease, I mean, which had afflicted her, she had put off the fear, which made her wish to remain concealed, she proclaimed the divine miracle: and therefore was very fitly deemed worthy of His tranquillizing words, and received security that she should suffer from her malady no more; for our Saviour Christ said unto her, "Daughter, thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace."
And this too was for the benefit of Jairus, though it was indeed a hard lesson. For he learns, that neither the legal worship, nor the shedding of blood, nor the slaying of goats and calves, nor the circumcision of the flesh, nor the rest of the |193 sabbaths, nor ought besides of these temporary and typical matters, can save the dwellers upon earth; faith only in Christ can do so, by means of which even the blessed Abraham was justified, and called the friend of God, and counted worthy of especial honours. And the blessing of God has been given also to those, who according to the terms of the promise were to be his sons: even unto us. "For they are not all Israel; who are of Israel, neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all sons: but the children of the promise are accounted as the seed." To us then this grace belongs: for we have been adopted as Abraham's sons, "being justified not so much by the works of the law, as by faith in Christ;" by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen 15. |194
8:49-56. And while He is speaking, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying, Thy daughter is dead: trouble no more the Teacher. But when Jesus heard it, He answered and said, Fear not: believe only, and she shall live. And when He came unto the house, He suffered no one to go in with Him, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept and bewailed her. But He said, Weep not: for the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But He made them all go out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit returned, and she arose immediately: and He commanded to give her somewhat to eat. And her parents were astonished. And He commanded them to tell no one what was done.
O COME, all ye who love the glory of the Saviour, and thereby weave crowns for your heads, come once again, that we may rejoice in Him, and as we extol Him with endless praises, let us say in the words of the prophet Isaiah: "O Lord, my God, I will praise Thee; and I will laud Thy name; for Thou hast wrought wonderful works, even a counsel true from the beginning." What then is the counsel and purpose of God the Father, which was from the beginning, and was true? Plainly that respecting us. For Christ foreknew, even before the foundations of the world, His mystery: but it was in the last ages of the world that He arose for the inhabitants of earth, that having borne the sin of the world, He might abolish both it and death, which is its consequence, and was brought upon us by its means. For so He Himself plainly said, "I am the resurrection and the life:" and "he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but hath passed from death unto life." And this then we shall see fulfilled in actual facts. For the ruler of the synagogue of the Jews drew near, and embracing the Saviour's |195 knees, besought Him to deliver his daughter from the bonds of death:----for lo! already she had been brought down unto this, and was in extreme danger. And the Saviour consented, and set out with him, and was even hastening onward to the house of him who asked the favour, as well knowing that what was being done would profit many of those who followed Him, and would also be for His own glory. And thus on the way the woman was saved, who was the victim of a severe and incurable malady. For she had an issue of blood, which no one could stanch, and which set at nought the art of physicians: but no sooner had she touched the hem in faith, than she was forthwith healed; and a miracle thus glorious and manifest was, so to speak, the work merely of Christ's journey.
And afterwards there met them from the ruler of the synagogue's house a messenger, saying: "Thy daughter is dead: trouble not the Teacher." What, then, was Christ's answer, seeing that He possesses universal sovereignty; that He is Lord of life and death; and by the all-powerful determination of His will accomplishes whatsoever He desires? He saw the man oppressed with the weight of sorrow, swooning, and stupefied, and all but despairing of the possibility of his daughter being rescued from death. For misfortunes are able to disturb even an apparently well-constituted mind, and to estrange it from its settled convictions. To aid him, therefore, He gives him a kind and saving word, fit to sustain him in his fainting state, and work in him an unwavering faith, saying, "Fear not: only believe, and she shall live."
And having now come to the house of His supplicant, He quiets their lamentations, silences the musicians, and stops the tears of the weepers, saying, "The damsel is not dead, but rather sleepeth." And they, it says, laughed at Him. Observe here, I pray, the great skill of the management. For though He well knew that the damsel was dead, He said, "She is not dead, but rather sleepeth." For what reason? That by their laughing at Him, they might give a clear and manifest acknowledgment that the damsel was dead. For probably there would be some of that class who always resist His glory, who would reject the divine miracle, and say, that the damsel was not yet dead; and that in being delivered from |196 sickness, there was nothing done by Christ very extraordinary. To have, therefore, the acknowledgment of many that the damsel was dead, He said, that she was rather sleeping. And let no man affirm that Christ spake untruly. For to Him, as being Life by nature, there is nothing dead. And this is the reason why we, having a firm hope of the resurrection of the dead, call them "those that sleep." For in Christ they will arise: and, as the blessed Paul says, "They live to Him," in that they are about to live.
But observe this also. For as if to teach us to avoid vainglory;---- though certainly no such admirable deeds can be wrought by us;----when He came to the house in which the damsel was lying dead, He took in with Him but three of the holy Apostles, and the father and the mother of the damsel.
And the manner in which He wrought the miracle was worthy of God. For having taken her, it says, by the hand, He said, Damsel, arise: and she arose immediately. O the power of a word, and the might of commands that nothing can resist!
O the life-producing touch of the hand, that abolishes death, and corruption! These are the fruits of faith, for the sake of which the law also was given to those of old time by the hand of Moses.
But perhaps some one may say to this: 'But lo! any one can see that the ceremonial ordained by the law is unlike and at variance with faith in Christ: for the law commands us to
make use of bloody sacrifices; but faith rejects everything of the kind, and has brought in for mankind a worship to be offered in spirit and in truth. For even Christ is somewhere found thus speaking by the harp of the Psalmist to God the Father in heaven: "Sacrifices and offerings Thou didst not desire: whole burnt offerings, and for sins, Thou hadst no pleasure in: but a body hast Thou framed for Me. Then said I, Lo! I come: for in the chapter of the books it is written of Me: I delight to do Thy will, O God," Offerings therefore by blood are unavailing; but the sweet savour of spiritual worship is very acceptable to God. And this no man can present unto Him, unless first he possess that faith which is by Christ. And the blessed Paul bears witness to this, where he writes: "Without faith, no man can ever do that which is well pleasing.16 "' |197
It is necessary, therefore, for us to explain in what sense we say that the law was given because of faith. The blessed Abraham then was justified by obedience and faith. For it is written: "That Abraham believed God; and he was called the friend of God, and faith was counted to him for righteousness." And God promised him both that he should be the father of many nations, and that all nations should be blessed in him; that is to say, by the imitation of his faith. One can see, therefore, that the grace that is by faith is prior to the ceremonial enjoined by the law, in that Abraham attained unto it while still uncircumcised. And afterwards, in process of time, the law entered by the hand of Moses. Did it then thrust away the justification that is by faith,----that I mean which God promised to those who follow the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, which he had while still uncircumcised? But how can this be true? The blessed Paul, therefore, writes: "This I say then, that the covenant, which was confirmed of old by God, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years afterwards, does not disannul, so as to make the promise given to the fathers of no effect." And again: "Is the law then against the promises of God? It may not be." And the same divine Paul further teaches us the reasons for which the law at length entered by the ministration of angels, and the manner in which it confirms the faith in Christ, by having been brought in before the time of the incarnation of the Only-begotten, saying at one time, that "the law entered that sin might abound:" and at another again, "that the Scripture hath included all things under sin:" and again, "The law, therefore, was added, because of transgressions."
Do you wish to learn how the Scripture included all things under sin? If so, I will explain it to the best of my ability. The heathen, then, as those who were without God, and destitute of hope, were in this world as men imprisoned in the pitfalls of baseness, and entangled without hope of escape in the cords of sin. On the other hand, the Israelites possessed indeed the law as a schoolmaster: but no man could be justified by its moans. For there is no profit to them that are in their sins in an offering by blood. And to this Paul again bears witness, saying; "For the blood of bulls, and of goats, cannot |198 take away sins." The law is the proof of the infirmity of all men: and therefore the blessed Paul calls it "the ministry of condemnation." Sin abounded by its means: and that, not as though it made any man sin, but rather because it declared the condemnation of him who was subject to offences. It was enacted, therefore, because of transgressions, that as now no man was able to attain to a blameless life, the bringing in of the justification that is by Christ might be altogether necessary. For there was no other way by which the inhabitants of earth could escape from the tyranny of sin. The law, then, entered first for the sake of faith, to declare the guilt of those who were liable to infirmities, and prove them to be sinners. It sent men, therefore, so to speak, to the cleansing that is in Christ by faith. And for this reason the blessed Paul again wrote: "Therefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." For we are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Faith, then, in every way, is the cause of life, as that which slays sin, the mother and nurse of death. Excellently, therefore, said Christ to the ruler of the synagogue of the Jews, when his daughter was dead; "Fear not: only believe, and she shall live." For, as I said, Christ makes those live who approach Him by faith, in that He is life; "for in Him we live and move, and are:" and He will raise the dead "suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump,"" as it is written. And having this hope in Him, we shall both attain to the city that is above, and reign as kings with Him; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.
[Selected footnotes moved to the end and renumbered. Almost all marginalia, any purely textual footnotes, most Greek or Syriac material has been omitted without notice]
1. y Concerning this quotation, which very frequently is met with in S. Cyril, three different opinions have been held: 1°. that of Archbp. Usher, who contended that it belonged to some apocryphal Gospel, as that of the Hebrews: 2°. that of Crojus, who considered that it was collected by the Fathers from Christ's parable of the Talents: and 3°. that of Sylburgius, who referred it to St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, I. v. 21. That the last alone is true, the Syriac here goes far to prove, quoting it expressly from St. Paul, as also do S. Cyril's Greek remains, as his Commentary on Is. iii., on Job. vii. 12., &c. In the previous Sermon also the quotation has already occurred, coupled with a portion of the same text, "prove all things." And Tischendorf gives it as a different reading of the passage in Thes. from Chrysostom, Theodoret, (saec. v.), Ambrosiaster, (saec. iii. vel iv.), and Œcumenius, (saec. xi.) The patristic authority for this opinion is, however, really far greater, as it occurs frequently in their works, in connection with the two other main portions of St. Paul's command. Thus Basil the Great (saec. iv.), in bis homily on the beginning of the book of Proverbs, says: .... And Athanasius, Hom. in Mat. xxi. 8. .... And similar quotations might be multiplied indefinitely. On the contrary, however, Origen, in the Latin version of his Commentary in Johannem, and Jerome, Ep. ad Minerium, quote it as a saying of our Lord's: there can, however, be little doubt that the majority of the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries regarded it as a genuine portion of St. Paul's Epistle, though probably it was not extant in many of the MSS., and so was occasionally quoted as a saying attributed by tradition to our Lord.
2. z A passage follows in Mai from B. f. 73, interpreting the mourners by the prophets, and the players by the Apostles, the predictions of the former being generally of woe and punishment, while the latter proclaimed "the grace of repentance." As alien both to the general tenor of the Commentary, and the closeness with which S. Cyril confines himself to the text, it is most probably an interpolation.
3. d S. Cyril uses a similar metaphor in his 15th paschal homily, to shew that the divine nature of our Lord suffered no corruption by its union with the human nature. (Ed. Aub. V. pt. 2. 205.) "The sun retains its brightness untarnished, even though it shed its rays upon mud and slime; how, then, could the divine nature, which is incorruptible, and liable to no change or injury, sustain harm by consorting with the inferior? Would it not rather overpower the inferior nature, and, illuminating it with its own excellencies, elevate it to something incomparably better?"
4. h This passage is contained in Cramer ii. 66, and as generally is the case, his MS. agrees more closely with the Syriac than Mai's, but is rendered comparatively valueless by the extreme carelessness and inaccuracy with which it is edited.
5. i One or two similar instances will subsequently be found of incorrect quotations probably from memory.
6. l The reading νόμου for λόγου in this and the following verse is found in very few even of the inferior MSS., but occurs in the Aethiopic and Arabic versions.
7. m Owing to the paucity of adjectives in Syriac, an attribute is generally expressed by the addition of a substantive, and this idiom is frequent in the Greek of the N. T., but nowhere more so than in St. James. As, therefore, "the mammon of unrighteousness" is "the unrighteous mammon," and "a hearer of forgetfulness," "a forgetful hearer;" so a "doer of doings" is "an active doer."
8. n Mai here inserts two passages, the first referring to our Lord's austerity of manners (φιλοσοφία) in sleeping with only a pillow under His head; and the second at the end of the paragraph, enlarging upon the economy: but as the first of these is contained in Cramer entire and the beginning of the second, in the extracts in his Catena from S. Cyril's Commentary on S. Mark, (cf. c. iv. v. 35.), we have another proof that the passages not acknowledged by the Syriac are often taken from other works of this father. In the second extract there is a remark so worthy of Cyril that I append it: it is to the effect, that in our Lord's miracles generally the Apostles were only eyewitnesses, and in danger, therefore, of not really appreciating them: it was necessary, therefore, for them to experience in their own persons their Master's divine power, that they might be fully impressed with His majesty: and thus, therefore, He did not save them till they were in the very terrors of death.
9. o S. Cyril was here probably quoting from memory: for though σῶσον is read in some MSS., it is universally regarded as an interpolation, and does not appear in Cyril's own text: while the pronoun "me," "Save me," has no MS. authority whatsoever.
10. p Mai adds a passage enlarging upon the idea, "and with the tempest of the waves does away with the tempest of their soul, rebuking them, and at the same time admonishing them, that their fear was caused not by the trials that befel them, but by the weakness of their faith."
11. q Mai from A. f. 126. appends a passage containing two allegorical interpretations, the first explaining the lake as signifying Judaea, in which a tempest rose against the disciples, appeased by Christ, when after His resurrection He said, Peace be unto you: and the second the more ordinary one of the ship being the Church, the saints the rowers, &c.
12. s As a general rule, the Syriac is a very exact translation of the Greek, to judge by the fragments in Mai: here, however, the word κατενείματο, which he renders "divided" or "shared," has probably only the meaning of "possessed," the proper signification being to "graze off' land with cattle," "depasci."
13. u S. Chrysostom also speaks of soldiers having a seal, at the end of Hom. iii. in Ep. ii. ad Cor. "For like the seal that soldiers have, so He also gives the Spirit to the faithful, that shouldest thou desert, thou mayest be detected by all. For the Jews indeed had circumcision as a seal, but we have the earnest of the Spirit," And in the Martyrdom of S. Maximilian, we learn that this was a stamped piece of lead, worn probably only by new recruits: for when he was required to take the military oath, he refused, saying, "Non accipio signaculum saeculi, et, si signaveris, rumpo illud, quia nihil valeo. Ego Christianus sum: non licet mihi plumbum collo portare post signum salutare Domini Jesu Christi, Quem tu ignoras." Du Cange Glos.----By the fathers, the word "seal" is generally applied either to baptism or ordination: but it has several less frequent meanings.
14. x Of this portion of the commentary Mai has recovered but very little: this passage, however, is found by him in one Catena A. f. 130, but with three or four slight additions; of which the most important is, that it inserts here, "which was a very great sign of the reality of His flesh, and of His trampling down pride; for they did not follow Him at a distance, but closed Him round on all sides."
15. y Mai adds from H. f. 30. an allegorical interpretation of the two miracles given there under the names both of Origen and Cyril, and in Corderius under those of Cyril and Geometra. In the appendix however to vol. xiv. of the Bibliotheca vet. Patrum Gallandii, p. 95, it is found in Origen's Commentaries, and to him therefore it should be assigned.
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