CATECHETICAL LECTURES I-XII
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
PROLOGUE TO THE CATECHETICAL LECTURES OF CYRIL, ARCHBISHOP OF JERUSALEM.
1. ALREADY there is an odour of blessedness upon you, O ye who are soon to be enlightened1: already ye are gathering the spiritual flowers, to weave heavenly crowns: already the fragrance of the Holy Spirit has breathed upon you: already ye have gathered round the vestibule of the King’s palace; may ye be led in also by the King! For blossoms now have appeared upon the trees; may the fruit also be found perfect! Thus far there has been an inscription of your names, and a call to service, and torches of the bridal train, and a longing for heavenly citizenship, and a good purpose, and hope attendant thereon. For he lieth not who said, that to them that love God all things work together for good. God is lavish in beneficence, yet He waits for each man’s genuine will: therefore the Apostle added and said, to them that are called according to a purpose. The honesty of purpose makes thee called: for if thy body be here but not thy mind, it profiteth thee nothing.
2. Even Simon Magus once came to the Laver: he was baptized, but was not enlightened; and though he dipped his body in water, he enlightened not his heart with the Spirit: his body went down and came up, but his soul was not buried with Christ, nor raised with Him. Now I mention the statements of (men’s) falls, that thou mayest not fall: for these things happened to them by way of example, and they are written for the admonition of those who to this day draw near. Let none of you be found tempting His grace, lest any root of bitterness spring up and trouble you. Let none of you enter saying, Let us see what the faithful are doing: let me go in and see, that I may learn what is being done. Dost thou expect to see, and not expect to be seen? And thinkest thou, that whilst thou art searching out what is going on, God is not searching thy heart ?
3. A certain man in the Gospels once pried into the marriage feasts, and took an unbecoming garment, and came in, sat down, and ate: for the bridegroom permitted it. But when he saw them all clad in white, he ought to have assumed a garment of the same kind himself: whereas he partook of the like food, but was unlike them in fashion and in purpose. The bridegroom, however, though bountiful, was not undiscerning: and in going round to each of the guests and observing them (for his care was not for their eating, but for their seemly behaviour), he saw a stranger not having on a wedding garment, and said to. him, Friend, how camest thou in hither? In what a colour! With what a conscience! What though the door- keeper forbade thee not, because of the bountifulness of the entertainer? what though thou weft ignorant in what fashion thou shouldest come in to the banquet?—thou didst come in, and didst see the glittering fashions of the guests: shouldest thou not have been taught even by what was before thine eyes? Shouldest thou not have retired in good season, that thou mightest enter in good season again? But now thou hast come in unseasonably, to be unseasonably cast out. So he commands the servants, Bind his feet, which daringly intruded: bind his hands, which knew not how to put a bright garment around him: and cast him into the outer darkness; for he is unworthy of the wedding torches. Thou seest what happened to that man: make thine own condition safe.
4. For we, the ministers of Christ, have admitted every one, and occupying, as it were, the place of door-keepers we left the door open: and possibly thou didst enter with thy soul bemired with sins, and with a will defiled. Enter thou didst, and wast allowed: thy name was inscribed. Tell me, dost thou behold this venerable constitution of the Church? Dost thou view her order and discipline the reading of Scriptures, the presence of the ordained, the course of instruction? Be abashed at the place, and be taught by what thou seest. Go out opportunely now, and enter most opportunely to-morrow.
If the fashion of thy soul is avarice, put on another fashion and come in. Put off thy former fashion, cloke it not up. Put off, I pray thee, fornication and uncleanness, and put on the brightest robe of chastity. This charge I give thee, before Jesus the Bridegroom of souls come in and see their fashions. A long notice s is allowed thee; thou hast forty days for repentance: thou hast full opportunity both to put off, and wash, and to put on and enter. But if thou persist in an evil purpose, the speaker is blameless, but thou must not look for the grace: for the water will receive, but the Spirit will not accept thee. If any one is conscious of his wound, let him take the salve; if any has fallen, let him arise. Let there be no Simon among you, no hypocrisy, no idle curiosity about the matter.
5. Possibly too thou art come on another pretext. It is possible that a man is wishing to pay court to a woman, and came hither on that account. The remark applies in like manner to women also in their turn. A slave also perhaps wishes to please his master, and a friend his friend. I accept this bait for the hook, and welcome thee, though thou camest with an evil purpose, yet as one to be saved by a good hope. Perhaps thou knewest not whither thou wert coming, nor in what kind of net thou art taken. Thou art come within the Church’s nets: be taken alive, flee not: for Jesus is angling for thee, not in order to kill, but by killing to make alive: for thou must die and rise again. For thou hast heard the Apostle say, Dead indeed unto sin, but living unto righteousness. Die to thy sins, and live to righteousness, live from this very day.
6. See, I pray thee, how great a dignity Jesus bestows on thee. Thou weft called a Catechumen, while the word echoed round thee from without; hearing of hope, and knowing it not; hearing mysteries, and not understanding them; hearing Scriptures, and not knowing their depth. The echo is no longer around thee, but within thee; for the indwelling Spirit henceforth makes thy mind a house of God. When thou shalt have heard what is written concerning the mysteries, then wilt thou understand things which thou knewest not. And think not that thou receivest a small thing: though a miserable man, thou receivest one of God’s titles. Hear St. Paul saying, God is faithful. Hear another Scripture saying, God is faithful and just. Foreseeing this, the Psalmist, because men are to receive a title of God, spoke thus in the person of God: I said, Ye are Gods, and are all sons of the Most High. But beware lest thou have the title of “faithful,” but the will of the faithless. Thou hast entered into a contest, toil on through the race: another such opportunity thou canst not have. Were it thy wedding-day before thee, wouldest thou not have disregarded all else, and set about the preparation for the feast? And on the eve of consecrating thy soul to the heavenly Bridegroom, wilt thou not cease from carnal things, that thou mayest win spiritual?
7. We may not receive Baptism twice or thrice; else it might be said, Though I have failed once, I shall set it right a second time: whereas if thou fail once, the thing cannot be set right; for there is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism: for only the heretics are re-baptized, because the former was no baptism.
8. For God seeks nothing else from us, save a good purpose. Say not, How are my sins blotted out? I tell thee, By willing, by believing. What can be shorter than this? But if, while thy lips declare thee willing, thy heart be silent, He knoweth the heart, who judgeth thee. Cease from this day from every evil deed. Let not thy tongue speak unseemly words, let thine eye abstain from sin, and from roving after things unprofitable.
9. Let thy feet hasten to the catechisings; receive with earnestness the exorcisms: whether thou be breathed upon or exorcised, the act is to thee salvation. Suppose thou hast gold unwrought and alloyed, mixed with various substances, copper, and tin, and iron, and lead: we seek to have the gold alone; can gold be purified from the foreign substances without fire? Even so without exorcisms the soul cannot be purified; and these exorcisms are divine, having been collected out of the divine Scriptures. Thy face has been veiled, that thy mind may henceforward be free, lest the eye by roving make the heart rove also. But when thine eyes are veiled, thine ears are not hindered from receiving the means of salvation. For in like manner as those who are skilled in the goldsmith’s craft throw in their breath upon the fire through certain delicate instruments, and blowing up the gold which is hidden in the crucible stir the flame which surrounds it, and so find what they are seeking; even so when the exorcists inspire terror by the Spirit of God, and set the soul, as it were, on fire in the crucible of the body, the hostile demon tees away, and there abide salvation and the hope of eternal life, and the soul henceforth is cleansed from its sins and hath salvation. Let us then, brethren, abide in hope, and surrender ourselves, and hope, in order that the God of all may see our purpose, and cleanse us from our sins, and impart to us good hopes of our estate, and grant us repentance that bringeth salvation. God hath called, and His call is to thee.
10. Attend closely to the catechisings, and though we should prolong our discourse, let not thy mind be wearied out. For thou art receiving armour against the adverse power, armour against heresies, against Jews, and Samaritans, and Gentiles. Thou hast many enemies; take to thee many darts, for thou hast many to hurl them at: and thou hast need to learn how to strike down the Greek, how to contend against heretic, against Jew and Samaritan. And the armour is ready, and most ready the sword of the Spirit: but thou also must stretch forth thy right hand with good resolution, that thou mayest war the Lord’s warfare, and overcome adverse powers, and become invincible against every heretical attempt.
11. Let me give thee this charge also. Study our teachings and keep them for ever. Think not that they are the ordinary homilies; for though they also are good and trustworthy, yet if we should neglect them to-day we may study them to-morrow. But if the teaching concerning the layer of regeneration delivered in a consecutive course be neglected to-day, when shall it be made right? Suppose it is the season for planting trees: if we do not dig, and dig deep, when else can that be planted rightly which has once been planted ill? Suppose, pray, that the Catechising is a kind of building: if we do not bind the house together by regular bonds in the building, lest some gap be found, and the building become unsound, even our former labour is of no use. But stone must follow stone by course, and corner match with corner, and by our smoothing off inequalities the building must thus rise evenly. In like manner we are bringing to thee stones, as it were, of knowledge. Thou must hear concerning the living God, thou must hear of Judgment, must hear of Christ, and of the Resurrection. And many things there are to be discussed in succession, which though now dropped one by one are afterwards to be presented in harmonious connexion. But unless thou fit them together in the one whole, and remember what is first, and what is second, the builder may build, but thou wilt find the building unsound.
12. When, therefore, the Lecture is delivered, if a Catechumen ask thee what the teachers have said, tell nothing to him that is without. For we deliver to thee a mystery, and a hope of the life to come. Guard the mystery for Him who gives the reward. Let none ever say to thee, What harm to thee, if I also know it? So too the sick ask for wine; but if it be given at a wrong time it causes delirium, and two evils arise; the sick man dies, and the physician is blamed. Thus is it also with the Catechumen, if he hear anything from the believer: both the Catechumen becomes delirious (for he understands not what he has heard, and finds fault with the thing, and scoffs at what is said), and the believer is condemned as a traitor. But thou art now standing on the border: take heed, pray, to tell nothing out; not that the things spoken are not worthy to be told, but because his ear is unworthy to receive. Thou wast once thyself a Catechumen, and I described not what lay before thee. When by experience thou hast learned how high are the matters of our teaching, then thou wilt know that the Catechumens are not worthy to hear them.
13. Ye who have been enrolled are become sons and daughters of one Mother. When ye have come in before the hour of the exorcisms, let each one of you speak things tending to godliness: and if any of your number be not present, seek for him. If thou wert called to a banquet, wouldest thou not wait for thy fellow guest? If thou hadst a brother, wouldest thou not seek thy brother’s good?
Afterwards busy not thyself about unprofitable matters: neither, what the city has done, nor the village, nor the King, nor the Bishop, nor the Presbyter. Look upward; that is what thy present hour needeth. Be still, and know that I am God. If thou seest the believers ministering, and shewing no care, they enjoy security, they know what they have received, they are in possession of grace. But thou standest just now in the turn of the scale, to be received or not: copy not those who have freedom from anxiety, but cherish fear.
14. And when the Exorcism has been done, until the others who are being exorcised have come, let men be with men, and women with women. For now I need the example of Noah’s ark: in which were Noah and his sons, and his wife and his sons’ wives. For though the ark was one, and the door was shut, yet had things been suitably arranged. If the Church is shut, and you are all inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men, and women with women: lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction. Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away. Further, let the men when sitting have a useful book; and let one read, and another listen: and if there be no book, let one pray, and another speak something useful. And again let the party of young women sit together in like manner, either singing or reading quietly, so that their lips speak, but others’ ears catch not the sound: for I suffer not a woman to speak in the Church. And let the married woman also follow the same example, and pray; and let her lips move, but her voice be unheard, that a Samuel may come, and thy barren soul give birth to the salvation of “God who hath heard thy prayer;” for this is the interpretation of the name Samuel.
15. I shall observe each man’s earnestness, each woman’s reverence. Let your mind be refined as by fire unto reverence; let your soul be forged as metal: let the stubbornness of unbelief be hammered out: let the superfluous scales of the iron drop off, and what is pure remain; let the rust of the iron be rubbed off, and the true metal remain. May God sometime shew you that night, the darkness which shines like the day, concerning which it is said, The darkness shall not be hidden from thee. and the night shall shine as the day. Then may the gate of Paradise be opened to every man and every woman among you. Then may you enjoy the Christ-bearing waters in their fragrance. Then may you receive the name of Christ, and the power of things divine. Even now, I beseech you, lift up the eye of the mind: even now imagine the choirs of Angels, and God the Lord of all there sitting, and His Only-begotten Son sitting with Him on His right hand, and the Spirit present with them; and Thrones and Dominions doing service, and every man of you and every woman receiving salvation. Even now let your ears ring, as it were, with that glorious sound, when over your salvation the angels shall chant, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: when like stars of the Church you shall enter in, bright in the body and radiant in the soul.
16. Great is the Baptism that lies before you: a ransom to captives; a remission of offences; a death of sin; a new-birth of the soul; a garment of light; a holy indissoluble seal; a chariot to heaven; the delight of Paradise; a welcome into the kingdom; the gift of adoption! But there is a serpent by the wayside watching those who pass by: beware lest he bite thee with unbelief. He sees so many receiving salvation, and is seeking whom he may devour. Thou art coming in unto the Father of Spirits, but thou art going past that serpent. How then mayest thou pass him? Have thy feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; that even if he bite, he may not hurt thee. Have faith in-dwelling, stedfast hope, a strong sandal, that thou mayest pass the enemy, and enter the presence of thy Lord. Prepare thine own heart for reception of doctrine, for fellowship in holy mysteries. Pray more frequently, that God may make thee worthy of the heavenly and immortal mysteries. Cease not day nor night: but when sleep is banished from thine eyes, then let thy mind be free for prayer. And if thou find any shameful thought rise up in thy mind, turn to meditation upon Judgment to remind thee of Salvation. Give thy mind wholly to study, that it may forget base things. If thou find any one saying to thee, Art thou then going in, to descend into the water? Has the city just now no baths? take notice that it is the dragon of the sea who is laying these plots against thee. Attend not to the lips of the talker, but to God who worketh in thee. Guard thine own soul, that thou be not ensnared, to the end that abiding in hope thou mayest become an heir of everlasting salvation.
17. We for our part as men charge and teach you thus: but make not ye our building hay and stubble and chaff, lest we suffer loss, from our work being burnt up: but make ye our work gold, and silver, and precious stones! For it lies in me to speak, but in thee to set thy mind upon it, and in God to make perfect. Let us nerve our minds, and brace up our souls, and prepare our hearts. The race is for our soul: our hope is of things eternal: and God, who knoweth your hearts, and observeth who is sincere, and who a hypocrite, is able both to guard the sincere, and to give faith to the hypocrite: for even to the unbeliever, if only he give his heart, God is able to give faith. So may He blot out the handwriting that is against you, and grant you forgiveness of your former trespasses; may He plant you into His Church, and enlist you in His own service, and put on you the armour of righteousness: may He fill you with the heavenly things of the New Covenant, and give you the seal of the Holy Spirit indelible throughout all ages, in Christ Jesus Our Lord: to whom be the glory for ever and ever! Amen.
( To the Reader.)
These Catechetical Lectures for those who are to be enlightened thou mayest lend to candidates for Baptism, and to believers who are already baptized, to read, but give not at all, neither to Catechumens, nor to any others who are not Christians, as thou shalt answer to the Lord. And if thou make a copy, write this in the beginning, as in the sight of the Lord.
FIRST CATECHETICAL LECTURE OF
OUR HOLY FATHER CYRIL, ARCHBISHOP OF JERUSALEM,
TO THOSE WHO ARE TO BE ENLIGHTENED, DELIVERED EXTEMPORE AT JERUSALEM, AS AN INTRODUCTORY LECTURE TO THOSE WHO HAD COME FORWARD FOR BAPTISM:
WITH A READING FROM ISAIAH,
Wash you, make you clean; put away your iniquities from your souls, from before mine eyes, and the rest.
1. DISCIPLES of the New Testament and partakers of the mysteries of Christ, as yet by calling only, but ere long by grace also, make you a new heart and a news spirit, that there may be gladness among the inhabitants of heaven: for if over one sinner that repenteth there is joy, according to the Gospel, how much more shall the salvation of so many souls move the inhabitants of heaven to gladness. As ye have entered upon a good and most glorious path, run with reverence the race of godliness. For the Only-begotten Son of God is present here most ready to redeem you, saying, Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy, laden, and l will give you rest. Ye that are clothed with the rough garment of your offences, who are holden with the cards of your own sins, hear the voice of the Prophet saying, Wash you, make you clean, put away your iniquities from before Mine eyes: that the choir of Angels may chant over you, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Ye who have just lighted the torches of faith, guard them carefully in your hands unquenched; that He, who erewhile on this all-holy Golgotha opened Paradise to the robber on account of his faith, may grant to you to sing the bridal song.
2. If any here is a slave of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the new birth into freedom and adoption; and having put off the miserable bondage of his sins, and taken on him the most blessed bondage of the Lord, so may he be counted worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Put off, by confession, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit, that ye may put on the new man, which is renewed according to knowledge of Him that created him. Get you the earnest of the Holy Spirit through faith, that ye may be able to be received into the everlasting habitations. Come for the mystical Seal, that ye may be easily recognised by the Master; be ye numbered among the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on His right hand, and inherit the life prepared for you. For they to whom the rough garment s of their sins still clings are found on the left hand, because they came not to the grace of God which is given through Christ at the new birth of Baptism: new birth I mean not of bodies, but the spiritual new birth of the soul. For our bodies are begotten by parents who are seen, but our souls are begotten anew through faith: for the Spirit bloweth where it listeth: and then, if thou be found worthy, thou mayest hear, Well done, good and faithful servant, when thou art found to have no defilement of hypocrisy in thy conscience.
3. For if any of those who are present should think to tempt God’s grace, he deceives himself, and knows not its power. Keep thy soul free from hypocrisy, O man, because of Him who searcheth hearts and reins. For as those who are going to make a levy for war examine the ages and the bodies of those who are taking service, so also the Lord in enlisting souls examines their purpose: and if any has a secret hypocrisy, He rejects the man as unfit for His true service; but if He finds one worthy, to him He readily gives His grace. He gives not holy things to the dogs; but where He discerns the good conscience, there He gives the Seal of salvation, that wondrous Seal, which devils tremble at, and Angels recognise; that the one may be driven to flight, and the others may watch around it as kindred to themselves. Those therefore who receive this spiritual and saving Seal, have need also of the disposition akin to it. For as a writing-reed or a dart has need of one to use it, so grace also has need of believing minds.
4. Thou art receiving not a perishable but a spiritual shield. Henceforth thou art planted in the invisible Paradise. Thou receivest a new name, which thou hadst not before. Heretofore thou wast a Catechumen, but now thou wilt be called a Believer. Thou art transplanted henceforth among the spiritual olive-trees, being grafted from the wild into the good olive-tree, from sins into righteousness, from pollutions into purity. Thou art made partaker of the Holy Vine. Well then, if thou abide in the Vine, thou growest as a fruitful branch; but if thou abide not, thou wilt be consumed by the fire. Let us therefore bear fruit worthily. God forbid that in us should be done what befell that barren fig- tree. that Jesus come not even now and curse us for our barrenness. But may all be able to use that other saying, But I am like a fruitful olive- free in the house of God: I hare trusted in the mercy of God far ever,— an olive-tree not to be perceived by sense, but by the mind, and full of light. As then it is His part to plant and to water, so it is thine to bear fruit: it is God’s to grant grace, but thine to receive and guard it. Despise not the grace because it is freely given, but receive and treasure it devoutly.
5. The present is the season of confession: confess what thou hast done in word or in deed, by night or by day; confess in an acceptable time, and in the day of salvation receive the heavenly treasure. Devote thy time to the Exorcisms: be assiduous at the Catechisings, and remember the things that shall be spoken, for they are spoken not for thine ears only, but that by faith thou mayest seal them up in the memory. Blot out from thy mind all earthly care: for thou art running for thy soul. Thou art utterly forsaking the things of the world: little are the things which thou art forsaking, great what the Lord is giving. Forsake things present, and put thy trust in things to come. Hast thou run so many circles of the years busied in vain about the world, and hast thou not forty days to be free (for prayer), for thine own soul’s sake? Be still, and know that I am God, saith the Scripture. Excuse thyself from talking many idle words: neither backbite, nor lend a willing ear to backbiters; but rather be prompt to prayer. Shew in ascetic exercise that thy heart is nerved. Cleanse thy vessel, that thou mayest receive grace more abundantly. For though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Ghost is bestowed in proportion to each man’s faith. If thou hast laboured little, thou receivest little; but if thou hast wrought much, the reward is great. Thou art running for thyself, see to thine own interest.
6. If thou hast aught against any man, forgive it: thou comest here to receive forgiveness of sins, and thou also must forgive him that hath sinned against thee. Else with what face wilt thou say to the Lord, Forgive me my many sins, if thou hast not thyself forgiven thy fellow-servant even his little sins. Attend diligently the Church assemblies; not only now when diligent attendance is required of thee by the Clergy, but also after thou hast received the grace. For if, before thou hast received it, the practice is good, is it not also good after the bestowal? If before thou be grafted in, it is a safe course to be watered and tended, is it not far better after the planting? Wrestle for thine own soul, especially in such days as these. Nourish thy soul with sacred readings; for the Lord hath prepared for thee a spiritual table; therefore say thou also after the Psalmist, The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall lack nothing: in a place of grass, there hath He made me rest; He hath fed me beside the waters of comfort, He hath converted my saul:—that Angels also may share your joy, and Christ Himself the great High Priest, having accepted your resolve, may present you all to the Father, saying, Behold, I and the children whom God hath given Me. May He keep you all well-pleasing in His sight! To whom be the glory, and the power unto the endless ages of eternity. Amen.
ON REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS, AND CONCERNING THE ADVERSARY.
EZEKIEL xviii. 20—23. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins, etc.
1. A FEARFUL thing is sin, and the sorest disease of the soul is transgression, secretly cutting its sinews, and becoming also the cause of eternal fire; an evil of a man’s own choosing, an offspring of the will For that we sin of our own free will the Prophet says plainly in a certain place: Yet I planted thee a fruitful vine, wholly true: how art thou turned to bitterness, (and become) the strange vine? The planting was good, the fruit coming from the will is evil; and therefore the planter is blameless, but the vine shall be burnt with fire since it was planted for good, and bore fruit unto evil of its own will. For God, according to the Preacher, made man upright, and they have themselves sought out many inventions. For we are His workmanship, says the Apostle, created unto good works, which God afore prepared, that we should walk in them. So then the Creator, being good, created for good works; but the creature turned of its own free will to wickedness. Sin then is, as we have said, a fearful evil, but not incurable; fearful for him who clings to it, but easy of cure for him who by repentance puts it from him. For suppose that a man is holding fire in his hand; as long as he holds fast the live coal he is sure to be burned, but should he put away the coal, he would have cast away the flame also with it. If however any one thinks that he is not being burned when sinning, to him the Scripture saith, Shall a man wrap up fire in his bosom, and not burn his clothes? For sin burns the sinews of the soul, [and breaks the spiritual bones of the mind, and darkens the light of the heart].
2. But some one will say, What can sin be? Is it a living thing? Is it an angel? Is it a demon? What is this which works within us? It is not an enemy, O man, that assails thee from without, but an evil shoot growing up out of thyself. Look right on with thine eyes, and there is no lust. [Keep thine own, and] seize not the things of others, and robbery has ceased. Remember the Judgment, and neither fornication, nor adultery, nor murder, nor any transgression of the law shall prevail with thee. But whenever thou forgettest God, forthwith thou beginnest to devise wickedness and to commit iniquity.
3. Yet thou art not the sole author of the evil, but there is also another most wicked prompter, the devil. He indeed suggests, but does not get the mastery by force over those who do not consent. Therefore saith the Preacher, If the spirit of him that hath power rise up against thee, quit not thy place. Shut thy door, and put him far from thee, and he shall not hurt thee. But if thou indifferently admit the thought of lust, it strikes root in thee by its suggestions, and enthrals thy mind, and drags thee down into a pit of evils.
But perhaps thou sayest, I am a believer, and lust does not gain the ascendant over me, even if I think upon it frequently. Knowest thou not that a root breaks even a rock by long persistence? Admit not the seed, since it will rend thy faith asunder: tear out the evil by the root before it blossom, lest from being careless at the beginning thou have afterwards to seek for axes and fire. When thine eyes begin to be diseased, get them cured in good time, lest thou become blind, and then have to seek the physician.
4. The devil then is the first author of sin, and the father of the wicked: and this is the Lord’s saying, not mine, that the devil sinneth from the beginning: none sinned before him. But he sinned, not as having received necessarily from nature the propensity to sin, since then the cause of sin is traced back again to Him that made him so; but having been created good, he has of his own free will become a devil, and received that name from his action. For being an Archangel he was afterwards called a devil from his slandering: from being a good servant of God he has become rightly named Satan; for “Satan” is interpreted the adversary. And this is not my teaching, but that of the inspired prophet Ezekiel: for he takes up a lamentation over him and says, Thou wast a seal of likeness, and a crown of beauty; in the Paradise of God wast thou barn: and soon after, Thou wast barn blameless in thy days, from the day in which thou wast created, until thine iniquities were found in thee. Very rightly hath he said, were found in thee; for they were not brought in from without, but thou didst thyself beget the evil. The cause also he mentions forthwith: Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty: for the multitude of thy sins wast thou wounded, and I did cast thee to the ground. In agreement with this the Lord says again in the Gospels: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Thou seest the harmony of the Old Testament with the New. He when cast out drew many away with him. It is he that puts lusts into them that listen to him: from him come adultery, fornication, and every kind of evil. Through him our forefather Adam was east out for disobedience, and exchanged a Paradise bringing forth wondrous fruits of its own accord for the ground which bringeth forth thorns.
5. What then? some one will say. We have been beguiled and are lost. Is there then no salvation left? We have fallen: Is it not possible to rise again? We have been blinded: May we not recover our sight? We have become crippled: Can we never walk upright? In a word, we are dead: May we not rise again? He that woke Lazarus who was four days dead and already stank, shall He not, O man, much more easily raise thee who art alive? He who shed His precious blood for us, shall Himself deliver us from sin. Let us not despair of ourselves, brethren; let us not abandon ourselves to a hopeless condition. For it is a fearful thing not to believe in a hope of repentance. For he that looks not for salvation spares not to add evil to evil: but to him that hopes for cure, it is henceforth easy to be careful over himself. The robber who looks not for pardon grows desperate; but, if he hopes for forgiveness, often comes to repentance. What then, does the serpent cast its slough, and shall not we cast off our sin? Thorny ground also, if cultivated well, is turned into fruitful; and is salvation to us irrecoverable? Nay rather, our nature admits of salvation, but the will also is required.
6. God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure. For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive? Will He grant pardon? Hear what the Psalmist says: How great is the multitude of Thy goodness, O Lord! Thine accumulated offences surpass not the multitude of God’s mercies: thy wounds surpass not the great Physician’s skill. Only give thyself up in faith: tell the Physician thine ailment: say thou also, like David: I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in thy case, which he says forthwith: And thou forgavest the wickedness of my heart.
7. Wouldest thou see the loving-kindness of God, O thou that art lately come to the catechising? Wouldest thou see the loving-kindness of God, and the abundance of Has long-suffering? Hear about Adam. Adam, God’s first- formed man, transgressed: could He not at once have brought death upon him? But see what the Lord does, in His great love towards man. He casts him out from Paradise, for because of sin he was unworthy to live there; but He puts him to dwell over against Paradise: that seeing whence he had fallen, and from what and into what a state he was brought down, he might afterwards be saved by repentance. Cain the first-born man became his brother’s murderer, the inventor of evils, the first author of murders, and the first envious man. Yet after slaying his brother to what is he condemned? Groaning and trembling shalt thou be upon the earth. How great the offence, the sentence how light!
8. Even this then was truly loving-kindness in God, but little as yet in comparison with what follows. For consider what happened in the days of Noe. The giants sinned, and much wickedness was then spread over the earth, and because of this the flood was to come upon them: and in the five hundredth year God utters His threatening; but in the six hundredth He brought the flood upon the earth. Seest thou the breadth of God’s loving- kindness extending to a hundred years? Could He not have done immediately what He did then after the hundred years? But He extended (the time) on purpose, granting a respite for repentance. Seest thou God’s goodness? And if the men of that time had repented, they would not have missed the loving-kindness of God.
9. Come with me now to the other class, those who were saved by repentance. But perhaps even among women some one will say, I have committed fornication, and adultery, I have defiled my body by excesses of all kinds: is there salvation for me? Turn thine eyes, O woman, upon Rahab, and look thou also for salvation; for if she who had been openly and publicly a harlot was saved by repentance, is not she who on some one occasion before receiving grace committed fornication to be saved by repentance and fasting? For inquire how she was saved: this only she said: For your God is God in heaven and upon earth. Your God; for her own she did not dare to say, because of her wanton life. And if you wish to receive Scriptural testimony of her having been saved, you have it written in the Psalms: I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon among them that know me. O the greatness of God’s loving-kindness, making mention even of harlots in the Scriptures: nay, not simply I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon, but with the addition. among them that know me. There is then in the case both of men and of women alike the salvation which is ushered in by repentance.
10. Nay more, if a whole people sin, this surpasses not the loving- kindness of God. The people made a calf, yet God ceased not from His loving-kindness. Men denied God, but God denied not Himself. These be thy gods, O Israel, they said: yet again, as He was wont, the God of Israel became their Saviour. And not only the people sinned, but also Aaron the High Priest. For it is Moses that says: And the anger of the Lord came upon Aaron: and l prayed for him, saith he, and God forgave him. What then, did Moses praying for a High Priest that sinned prevail with God, and shall not Jesus, His Only-begotten, prevail with God when He prays for us? And if He did not hinder Aaron, because of his offence, from entering upon the High Priesthood, will He hinder thee, who art come out from the Gentiles, from entering into salvation? Only, O man, repent thou also in like manner, and grace is not forbidden thee. Render thy way of life henceforth unblameable; for God is truly loving unto man, nor can all time worthily tell out His loving kindness; nay, not if all the tongues of men unite together will they be able even so to declare any considerable part of His loving-kindness. For we tell some part of what is written concerning His loving-kindness to men, but how much He forgave the Angels we know not: for them also He forgives, since One alone is without sin, even Jesus who purgeth our sins. And of them we have said enough.
11. But if concerning us men thou wilt have other examples also set before thee, come on to the blessed David, and take him for an example of repentance. Great as he was, he fell: after his sleep, walking in the eventide on the housetop, he cast a careless look, and felt a human passion. His sin was completed, but there died not with it his candour concerning the confession of his fault. Nathan the Prophet came, a swift accuser, and a healer of the wound. The Lord is wroth, he says, and thou hast sinned. So spoke the subject to the reigning king. But David the king was not indignant, for he regarded not the speaker, but God who had sent him. He was not puffed up by the array of soldiers standing round: for he had seen in thought the angel-host of the Lord, and he trembled as seeing Him who is invisible; and to the messenger, or rather by him in answer to God who sent him, he said, I have sinned against the Lords. Seest thou the humility of the king? Seest thou his confession? For had he been convicted by any one? Were many privy to the matter? The deed was quickly done, and straightway the Prophet appeared as accuser, and the offender confesses the fault. And because he candidly confessed, he received a most speedy cure. For Nathan the Prophet who had uttered the threat, said immediately, The Lord also hath put away thy sin. Thou seest the swift relenting of a merciful God. He says, however, Thou hast greatly provoked the enemies of the Lord. Though thou hadst many enemies because of thy righteousness, thy self-control protected thee; but now that thou hast surrendered thy strongest armour, thine enemies are risen up, and stand ready against thee.
12. Thus then did the Prophet comfort him, but the blessed David, for all he heard it said, The LORD hath put away thy sin, did not cease from repentance, king though he was, but put on sackcloth instead of purple, and instead of a golden throne, he sat, a king, in ashes on the ground; nay, not only sat in ashes, but also had ashes for his food, even as he saith himself, I have eaten ashes as it were bread. His lustful eye he wasted away with tears saying, Every night will I wash my couch, and water my bed with my tears. When his officers besought him to eat bread he would not listen. He prolonged his fast unto seven whole days. If a king thus made confession oughtest not thou, a private person, to confess? Again, after Absalom’s insurrection, though there were many roads for him to escape, he chose to flee by the Mount of Olives, in thought, as it were, invoking the Redeemer who was to go up thence into the heavens. And when Shimei cursed him bitterly, he said, Let him alone, for he knew that “to him that forgiveth it shall be forgiven.”
13. Thou seest that it is good to make confession. Thou seest that there is salvation for them that repent. Solomon also fell but what saith he? Afterwards I repented. Ahab, too, the King of Samaria, became a most wicked idolater, an outrageous man, the murderer of the Prophets, a stranger to godliness, a coveter of other men’s fields and vineyards. Yet when by Jezebel’s means he had slain Naboth, and the Prophet Elias came and merely threatened him, he rent his garments, and put on sackcloth. And what saith the merciful God to Elias? Hast than seen how, Ahab is pricked in the heart before Me? as if almost He would persuade the fiery zeal of the Prophet to condescend to the penitent. For He saith, I will not bring the evil in his days. And though after this forgiveness he was sure not to depart from his wickedness, nevertheless the forgiving God forgave him, not as being ignorant of the future, but as granting a forgiveness corresponding to his present season of repentance. For it is the part of a righteous judge to give sentence according to each case that has occurred.
14. Again, Jeroboam was standing at the altar sacrificing to the idols: his band became withered, because he commanded the Prophet who reproved him to be seized: but having by experience learned the power of the man before him, he says, Entreat the face of the Lord thy God ; and because of this saying his hand was restored again. If the Prophet healed Jeroboam, is Christ not able to heal and deliver thee from thy sins? Manasses also was utterly wicked, who sawed Isaiah asunder, and was defiled with all kinds of idolatries, and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; but having been led captive to Babylon he used his experience of misfortune for a healing course of repentance: for the Scripture saith that Manasses humbled himself before the Lord, and prayed, and the Lord heard him, and brought him back to his kingdom. If He who sawed the Prophet asunder was saved by repentance, shall not thou then, having done no such great wickedness, be saved ?
15. Take heed lest without reason thou mistrust the power of repentance. Wouldst thou know what power repentance has? Wouldst thou know the strong weapon of salvation, and learn what the force of confession is? Hezekiah by means of confession routed a hundred and fourscore and five thousand of his enemies. A great thing verily was this, but still small in comparison with what remains to be told: the same king by repentance obtained the recall of a divine sentence which had already gone forth. For when he had fallen sick, Esaias said to him, Set thine house in order; for thou shall die, and not live. What expectation remained, what hope of recovery, when the Prophet said, for thou shalt die? Yet Hezekiah did not desist from repentance; but remembering what is written, When thou shalt turn and lament, then shalt thou be saved, he turned to the wall, and from his bed lifting his mind to heaven (for thickness of walls is no hindrance to prayers sent up with devotion), he said, “Remember me, O Lord, for it is sufficient for my healing that Thou remember me. Thou art not subject to times, but art Thyself the giver of the law of life. For our life depends not on a nativity, nor on a conjunction of stars, as some idly talk; but both of life and its duration. Then art Thyself the Lawgiver according to Thy Will.” And he, who could not hope to live because of the prophetic sentence, had fifteen years added to his life, and for the sign the sun ran backward in his course Well then, for Ezekias’ sake the sun turned back but for Christ the sun was eclipsed, not retracing his steps, but suffering eclipse, and therefore shewing the difference between them, I mean between Ezekias and Jesus. The former prevailed to the cancelling of God’s decree, and cannot Jesus grant remission of sins? Turn and bewail thyself, shut thy door, and pray to be forgiven, pray that He may remove from thee the burning flames. For confession has power to quench even fire, power to tame even lions.
16. But if thou disbelieve, consider what befel Ananias and his companions. What streams did they pour out? How many vessels of water could quench the flame that rose up forty-nine cubits high? Nay, but where the flame mounted up a little too high, faith was there poured out as a river, and there spoke they the spell against all ills: Righteous art Thou, O Lord, in all the things that Thou hast done to us: for we have sinned, and transgressed Thy law. And their repentance quelled the flames. If thou believest not that repentance is able to quench the fire of hell, learn it from what happened in regard to Ananias. But some keen hearer will say, Those men God rescued justly in that case: because they refused to commit idolatry, God gave them that power. And since this thought has occurred, I come next to a different example of penitence.
17. What thinkest thou of Nabuchodonosor? Hast thou not heard out of the Scriptures that he was bloodthirsty, fierce, lion-like in disposition? Hast thou not heard that he brought out the bones of the kings from their graves into the light? Hast thou not heard that he carried the people away captive? Hast thou not heard that he put out the eyes of the king, after he had already seen his children slain? Hast thou not heard that he brake in pieces the Cherubim? I do not mean the invisible beings;—away with such a thought, O man,—but the sculptured images, and the mercy-seat, in the midst of which God spoke with His voice. The veil of the Sanctuary he trampled under foot: the altar of incense he took and carried away to an idol-temple: all the offerings he took away: the Temple he burned from the foundations. How great punishments did he deserve, for slaying kings, for setting fire to the Sanctuary, for taking the people captive, for setting the sacred vessels in the house of idols? Did he not deserve ten thousand deaths?
18. Thou hast seen the greatness of his evil deeds: come now to God’s loving-kindness. He was turned into a wild beast, he abode in the wilderness, he was scourged, that he might be saved. He had claws as a lion; for he was a ravager of the Sanctuary. He had a lion’s mane: for he was a ravening and a roaring lion. He ate grass like an ox: for a brute beast he was, not knowing Him who had given him the kingdom. His body was wet from the dew; because after seeing the fire quenched by the dew he believed not. And what happened? After this, saith he, I, Nabuchodonosor, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and I blessed the Most High, and to Him that liveth for ever I gave praise and glory. When, therefore, he recognised the Most High, and sent up these words of thankfulness to God, and repented himself for what he had done, and recognised his own weakness, then God gave back to him the honour of the kingdom.
19. What then? When Nabuchodonosor, after having done such deeds, had made confession, did God give him pardon and the kingdom, and when thou repentest shall He not give thee the remission of sins, and the kingdom of heaven, if thou live a worthy life? The LORD is loving unto man, and swift to pardon, but slow to punish. Let no man therefore despair of his own salvation. Peter, the chiefest and foremost of the Apostles, denied the Lord thrice before a little maid: but he repented himself, and wept bitterly. Now weeping shews the repentance of the heart: and therefore he not only received forgiveness for his denial, but also held his Apostolic dignity unforfeited.
20. Having therefore, brethren, many examples of those who have sinned and repented and been saved, do ye also heartily make confession unto the Lord, that ye may beth receive the forgiveness of your former sins, and be counted worthy of the heavenly gift, and inherit the heavenly kingdom with all the saints in Christ Jesus; to Whom is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
ROMANS vi. 3, 4. Or know ye not that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? were buried therefore with Him by our baptism into death, etc.
1. Rejoice, ye heavens, and let the earth be glad, for those who are to be sprinkled with hyssop, and cleansed with the spiritual hyssop, the power of Him to whom at His Passion drink was offered on hyssop and a reed. And while the Heavenly Powers rejoice, let the souls that are to be united to the spiritual Bridegroom make themselves ready. For the voice is heard of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. For this is no light matter, no ordinary and indiscriminate union according to the flesh, but the All-searching Spirit’s election according to faith. For the intermarriages and contracts of the world are not made altogether with judgment: but wherever there is wealth or beauty, there the bridegroom speedily approves: but here it is not beauty of person, but the soul’s clear conscience; not the condemned Mammon, but the wealth of the soul in godliness.
2. Listen then, O ye children of righteousness, to John’s exhortation when he says, Make straight the way of the Lord. Take away all obstacles and stumbling-blocks, that ye may walk straight onward to eternal life. Make ready the vessels of the soul, cleansed by unfeigned faith, for reception of the Holy Ghost. Begin at once to wash your robes in repentance, that when called to the bride-chamber ye may be found clean. For the Bridegroom invites all without distinction, because His grace is bounteous; and the cry of loud-voiced heralds assembles them all: but the same Bridegroom afterwards separates those who have come in to the figurative marriage. O may none of those whose names have now been enrolled hear the words, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? But may you all hear, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou wast faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
For now meanwhile thou standest outside the door: but God grant that you all may say, The King hath brought me into His chamber. Let my soul rejoice in the Lord: for He hath me with a garment of salvation, and a robe of gladness: He hath crowned me with a garland as a bridegroom, and decked me with ornaments as a bride: that the soul of every one of you may be found not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; I do not mean before you have received the grace, for how could that be? since it is for remission of sins that ye have been called; but that, when the grace is to be given, your conscience being found uncondemned may concur with the grace.
3. This is in truth a serious matter, brethren, and you must approach it with good heed. Each one of you is about to be presented to God before tens of thousands of the Angelic Hosts: the Holy Ghost is about to seal your souls: ye are to be enrolled in the army of the Great King. Therefore make you ready, and equip yourselves, by putting on I mean, not bright apparel, but piety of soul with a good conscience. Regard not the Laver as simple water, but rather regard the spiritual grace that is given with the water. For just as the offerings brought to the heathen altars, though simple in their nature, become defiled by the invocation of the idols, so contrariwise the simple water having received the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and of Christ, and of the Father, acquires a new power of holiness.
4. For since man is of twofold nature. soul and body, the purification also is twofold, the one incorporeal for the incorporeal part, and the other bodily for the body: the water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul; that we may draw near unto God. having our heart sprinkled by the Spirit, and our body washed with pure water. When going down, therefore, into the water, think not of the bare element, but look for salvation by the power of the Holy Ghost: for without both thou canst not possibly be made perfect. It is not I that say this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter: for He saith, Except a man be born anew (and He adds the words) of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Neither doth he that is baptized with water, but not found worthy of the Spirit, receive the grace in perfection; nor if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but receive not the seal by water, shall he enter into the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine, for it is Jesus who hath declared it: and here is the proof of the statement from Holy Scripture. Cornelius was a just man, who was honoured with a vision of Angels, and had set up his prayers and alms-deeds as a good memorial before God in heaven. Peter came, and the Spirit was poured out upon them that believed, and they spoke with other tongues, and prophesied: and after the grace of the Spirit the Scripture saith that Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; in order that, the soul having been born again by faith, the body also might by the water partake of the grace.
5. But if any one wishes to know why the grace is given by water and not by a different element, let him take up the Divine Scriptures and he shall learn. For water is a grand thing, and the noblest of the four visible elements of the world. Heaven is the dwelling-place of Angels, but the heavens are from the waters: the earth is the place of men, but the earth is from the waters: and before the whole six days’ formation of the things that were made, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water. The water was the beginning of the world, and Jordan the beginning of the Gospel tidings: for Israel deliverance from Pharaoh was through the sea, and for the world deliverance from sins by the was of water with the word of God. Where a covenant is made with any, there is water also. After the flood, a covenant was made with Noah: a covenant for Israel from Mount Sinai, but with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop. Elias is taken up, but not apart from water: for first he crosses the Jordan, then in a chariot mounts the heaven. The high-priest is first washed, then offers incense; for Aaron first washed, then was made high- priest: for how could one who had not yet been purified by water pray for the rest? Also as a symbol of Baptism there was a layer set apart within the Tabernacle.
6. Baptism is the end of the Old Testament, and beginning of the New. For its author was John, than whom was none greater among them that are born of women. The end he was of the Prophets: for all the Prophets and the law were until John: but of the Gospel history he was the first-fruit. For it saith, The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, &c.: John came baptising in the wilderness. You may mention Elias the Tishbite who was taken up into heaven, yet he is not greater than John: Enoch was translated, but he is not greater than John: Moses was a very great lawgiver, and all the Prophets were admirable, but not greater than John. It is not I that dare to compare Prophets with Prophets: but their Master and ours, the Lord Jesus, declared it: Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John: He saith not “among them that are born of virgins,” but of women. The comparison is between the great servant and his fellow-servants: but the pre-eminence and the grace of the Son is beyond comparison with servants. Seest thou how great a man God chose as the first minister of this grace?—a man possessing nothing, and a lover of the desert, yet no hater of mankind: who ate locusts, and winged his soul for heaven: feeding upon honey, and speaking things both sweeter and more salutary than honey: clothed with a garment of camel’s hair, and shewing in himself the pattern of the ascetic life; who also was sanctified by the Holy Ghost while yet he was carried in his mother’s womb. Jeremiah was sanctified, but did not prophesy, in the womb: John alone while carried in the womb leaped for joy, and though he saw not with the eyes of flesh, knew his Master by the Spirit: for since the grace of Baptism was great, it required greatness in its founder also.
7. This man was baptizing in Jordan, and there went out unto hint all Jerusalem, to enjoy the first-fruits of baptisms: for in Jerusalem is the prerogative of all things good. But learn, O ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, how they that came out were baptized by him: confessing their sins, it is said. First they shewed their wounds, then he applied the remedies, and to them that believed gave redemption from eternal fire. And if thou wilt be convinced of this very point, that the baptism of John is a redemption from the threat of the fire, hear how he says, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Be not then henceforth a viper, but as thou hast been formerly a viper’s brood, put off, saith he, the slough of thy former sinful life. For every serpent creeps into a hole and casts its old slough, and having rubbed off the old skin, grows young again in body. In like manner enter thou also through the strait and narrow gate: rub off thy former self by fasting, and drive out that which is destroying thee. Put off the old man with his doings, and quote that saying in the Canticles, I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on?
But there is perhaps among you some hypocrite, a man-pleaser, and one who makes a pretence of piety, but believes not from the heart; having the hypocrisy of Simon Magus; one who has come hither not in order to receive of the grace, but to spy out what is given: let him also learn from John: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees, Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. The Judge is inexorable; put away thine hypocrisy.
8. What then must you do? And what are the fruits of repentance? Let him that hath two coats give to him that hath none: the teacher was worthy of credit, since he was also the first to practise what he taught: he was not ashamed to speak, for conscience hindered not his tongue: and he that hath meat, let hive do likewise. Wouldst thou enjoy the grace of the Holy Spirit, yet judges the poor not worthy of bodily food? Seekest thou the great gifts, and imparrest not of the small? Though thou be a publican, or a fornicator, have hope of salvation: the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. Paul also is witness, saying, Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor the rest, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified. He said not, such are same of you, but such were some of you. Sin committed in the state of ignorance is pardoned, but persistent wickedness is condemned.
9. Thou hast as the glory of Baptism the Son Himself, the Only-begotten of God. For why should I speak any more of man? John was great, but what is he to the Lord? His was a loud-sounding voice, but what in comparison with the Word? Very noble was the herald, but what in comparison with the King? Noble was he that baptized with water, but what to Him that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and with fire? The Saviour baptized the Apostles with the Holy Ghost and with fire, when suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire: and it sat upon each one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.
10. If any man receive not Baptism, he hath not salvation; except only Martyrs, who even without the water receive the kingdom. For when the Saviour, in redeeming the world by His Cross, was pierced in the side, He shed forth blood and water; that men, living in times of peace, might be baptized in water, and, in times of persecution, in their own blood. For martyrdom also the Saviour is wont to call a baptism, saying, Can ye drink rite cup which I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And the Martyrs confess, by being made a spectacle unto the world, and to Angels, and to men; and thou wilt soon confess:—but it is not yet the time for thee to hear of this.
11. Jesus sanctified Baptism by being Himself baptized. If the Son of God was baptized, what godly man is he that despiseth Baptism? But He was baptized not that He might receive remission of sins, for He was sinless; but being sinless, He was baptized, that He might give to them that are baptized a divine and excellent grace. For since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same, that having been made partakers of His presence in the flesh we might be made partakers also of His Divine grace: thus Jesus was baptized, that thereby we again by our participation might receive both salvation and honour. According to Job, there was in the waters the dragon that draweth, up Jordan into his mouth. Since, therefore, it was necessary to break the heads of the dragon in pieces s He went down and bound the strong one in the waters, that we might receive power to tread upon serpents and scorpions. The beast was great and terrible. No fishing-vessel was able to carry one scale of his tail: destruction ran before him, ravaging all that met him. The Life encountered him, that the mouth of Death might henceforth be stopped, and all we that are saved might say, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?The sting of death is drawn by Baptism.
12. For thou goest down into the water, bearing thy sins, but the invocation of grace, having sealed thy soul, suffereth thee not afterwards to be swallowed up by the terrible dragon. Having gone down dead in sins, thou comest up quickened in righteousness. For if thou hast been united with the likeness of the Saviour’s death, thou shall also be deemed worthy of His Resurrection. For as Jesus took upon Him the sins of the world, and died, that by putting sin to death He might rise again in righteousness; so thou by going down into the water, and being in a manner buried in the waters, as He was in the rock art raised again walking in newness of life.
13. Moreover, when thou hast been deemed worthy of the grace, He then giveth thee strength to wrestle against the adverse powers. For as after His Baptism He was tempted forty days (not that He was unable to gain the victory before, but because He wished to do all things in due order and succession), so thou likewise, though not daring before thy baptism to wrestle with the adversaries, yet after thou hast received the grace and art henceforth confident in the armour of righteousness, must then do battle, and preach the Gospel, if thou wilt.
14. Jesus Christ was the Son of God, yet He preached not the Gospel before His Baptism. If the Master Himself followed the right time in due order, ought we, His servants, to venture out of order? From that time Jesus began to preach, when the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him in a bodily shape, like a dove; not that Jesus might see Him first, for He knew Him even before He came in a bodily shape, but that John, who was baptizing Him, might behold Him. For I, saith he, knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on Him, that is He. If thou too hast unfeigned piety, the Holy Ghost cometh down on thee also, and a Father’s voice sounds over thee from on high—not, “This is My Son,” but, “This has now been made My son;” for the “is” belongs to Him alone, because In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. To Him belongs the “is,” since He is always the Son of God: but to thee “has now been made:” since thou hast not the sonship by nature, but receivest it by adoption. He eternally “is;” but thou receivest the grace by advancement.
15. Make ready then the vessel of thy soul, that thou mayest become a son of God, and an heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ; if, indeed, thou art preparing thyself that thou mayest receive; if thou art drawing nigh in faith that thou mayest be made faithful; if of set purpose thou art putting off the old man. For all things whatsoever thou hast done shall be forgiven thee, whether it be fornication, or adultery, or any other such form of licentiousness. What can be a greater sin than to crucify Christ? Yet even of this Baptism can purify. For so spoke Peter to the three thousand who came to him, to those who had crucified the Lord, when they asked him, saying, Men and brethren, what shall we do? For the wound is great. Thou hast made us think of our fall, O Peter, by saying, Ye killed the Prince of Life. What salve is there for so great a wound? What cleansing for such foulness? What is the salvation for such perdition? Repent, saith he, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. O unspeakable loving-kindness of God! They have no hope of being saved, and yet they are thought worthy of the Holy Ghost. Thou seest the power of Baptism! If any of you has crucified the Christ by blasphemous words; if any of you in ignorance has denied Him before men; if any by wicked works has caused the doctrine to be blasphemed; let him repent and be of good hope, for the same grace is present even now.
16. Be of good courage, O Jerusalem; the Lord will take away all thine iniquities. The Lord will wash away the filth of His sons and of His daughters by the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning. He will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be cleansed from all your sin. Angels shall dance around you, and say, Who is this that cometh up in white array, leaning upon her beloved? For the soul that was formerly a slave has now adopted her Master Himself as her kinsman: and He accepting the unfeigned purpose will answer: Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair: thy teeth are like flocks of sheep new shorn, (because of the confession of a good conscience: and further) which have all of them twins; because of the twofold grace, I mean that which is perfected of water and of the Spirit, or that which is announced by the Old and by the New Testament. And God grant that all of you when you have finished the course of the fast, may remember what I say, and bringing forth fruit in good works, may stand blameless beside the Spiritual Bridegroom, and obtain the remission of your sins from God; to whom with the Son and Holy Spirit be the glory for ever. Amen.
ON THE TEN POINTS OF DOCTRINE.
COLOSSIANS ii. 8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, etc.
1. VICE mimics virtue, and the tares strive to be thought wheat, growing like the wheat in appearance, but being detected by good judges from the taste. The devil also transfigures himself into an angel of light; not that he may reascend to where he was, for having made his heart hard as an anvil, he has henceforth a will that cannot repent; but in order that he may envelope those who are living an Angelic life in a mist of blindness, and a pestilent condition of unbelief. Many wolves are going about in sheeps’ clothing, their clothing being that of sheep, not so their claws and teeth: but clad in their soft skin, and deceiving the innocent by their appearance, they shed upon them from their fangs the destructive poison of ungodliness. We have need therefore of divine grace, and of a sober mind, and of eyes that see, lest from eating tares as wheat we suffer harm from ignorance, and lest from taking the wolf to be a sheep we become his prey, and from supposing the destroying Devil to be a beneficent Angel we be devoured: for, as the Scripture saith, he goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. This is the cause of the Church’s admonitions, the cause of the present instructions, and of the lessons which are read.
2. For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines. For what profit is it, to know well the doctrines concerning God, and yet to be a vile fornicator? And again, what profit is it, to be nobly temperate, and an impious blasphemer? A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines: also there is need of a wakeful soul, since there are many that make spoil through philosophy and vain deceit. The Greeks on the one hand draw men away by their smooth tongue, for honey droppeth from a harlot’s lips: whereas they of the Circumcision deceive those who come to them by means of the Divine Scriptures, which they miserably misinterpret though studying them from childhood to all age, and growing old in ignorance. But the children of heretics, by their good words and smooth tongue, deceive the hearts of the innocent, disguising with the name of Christ as it were with honey the poisoned arrows of their impious doctrines: concerning all of whom together the Lord saith, Take heed lest any man mislead you. This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it.
3. But before delivering you over to the Creed, I think it is well to make use at present of a short summary of necessary doctrines; that the multitude of things to be spoken, and the long interval of the days of all this holy Lent, may not cause forgetfulness in the mind of the more simple among you; but that, having strewn some seeds now in a summary way, we may not forget the same when afterwards more widely tilled. But let those here present whose habit of mind is mature, and who have their senses already exercised to discern good and evil, endure patiently to listen to things fitted rather for children, and to an introductory course, as it were, of milk: that at the same time both those who have need of the instruction may be benefited, and those who have the knowledge may rekindle the remembrance of things which they already know.
I. OF GOD.
4. First then let there be laid as a foundation in your soul the doctrine concerning God that God is One, alone unbegotten, without beginning, change, or variation; neither begotten of another, nor having another to succeed Him in His life; who neither began to live in time, nor endeth ever: and that He is both good and just; that if ever thou hear a heretic say, that there is one God who is just, and another who is good, thou mayest immediately remember, and discern the poisoned arrow of heresy. For some have impiously dared to divide the One God in their teaching: and some have said that one is the Creator and Lord of the soul, and another of the body; a doctrine at once absurd and impious. For how can a man become the one servant of two masters, when our Lord says in the Gospels, No man can serve two masters? There is then One Only God, the Maker both of souls and bodies: One the Creator of heaven and earth, the Maker of Angels anti Archangels: of many the Creator, but of One
only the Father before all ages,—of One only, His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom He made all things visible and invisible.
5. This Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not circumscribed in any place, nor is He less than the heaven; but the heavens are the works of His fingers, and the whale earth is held in His grasp: He is in all things and around all. Think not that the sun is brighter than He, or equal to Him: for He who at first formed the sun must needs be incomparably greater and brighter. He foreknoweth the things that shall be, and is mightier than all, knowing all things and doing as He will; not being subject to any necessary sequence of events, nor to nativity, nor chance, nor fate; in all things perfect, and equally possessing everyabsolute form of virtue, neither diminishing nor increasing, but in mode and conditions ever the same; who hath prepared punishment for sinners, and a crown for the righteous.
6. Seeing then that many have gone astray in divers ways from the One God, some having deified the sun, that when the sun sets they may abide in the night season without God; others the moon, to have no God by day; others the other parts of the world; others the arts; others their various kinds of food; others their pleasures; while some, mad after women, have set up on high an image of a naked woman, and called it Aphrodite, and worshipped their own lust in a visible form; and others dazzled by the brightness of gold have deified it and the other kinds of matter;—whereas if one lay as a first foundation in his heart the doctrine of the unity of God, and trust to Him, he roots out at once the whole crop of the evils of idolatry, and of the error of the heretics: lay thou, therefore, this first doctrine of religion as a foundation in thy soul by faith.
7. Believe also in the Son of God, One and Only, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was begotten God of God, begotten Life of Life, begotten Light of Light, Who is in all things likes to Him that begat, Who received not His being in time, but was before all ages eternally and incomprehensibly begotten of the Father: The Wisdom and the Power of God, and His Righteousness personally subsisting: Who sitteth on the right hand of the Father before all ages.
For the throne at God’s right hand He received not, as some have thought, because of His patient endurance, being crowned as it were by God after His Passion; but throughout His being,—a being by eternal generation,—He holds His royal dignity, and shares the Father’s seat, being God and Wisdom and Power, as hath been said; reigning together with the Father, and creating all things for the Father, yet lacking nothing in the dignity of Godhead, and knowing Him that hath begotten Him, even as He is known of Him that hath begotten; and to speak briefly, remember thou what is written in the Gospels, that none knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any the Father save the Son.
8. Further, do thou neither separate the Son from the Father, nor by making a confusion believe in a Son-Fatherhood; but believe that of One God there is One Only-begotten Son, who is before all ages God the Word; not the uttered word diffused into the air, nor to be likened to impersonal words; but the Word the Son, Maker of all who partake of reason, the Word who heareth the Father, and Himself speaketh. And on these points, should God permit, we will speak more at large in due season; for we do not forget our present purpose to give a summary introduction to the Faith.
CONCERNING HIS BIRTH OF THE VIRGIN.
9. Believe then that this Only-begotten Son of God for our sins came down from heaven upon earth, and took upon Him this human nature of like passions with us, and was begotten of the Holy Virgin and of the Holy Ghost, and was made Man, not in seeming and mere show, but in truth; nor yet by passing through the Virgin as through a channel; but was of her made truly flesh, [and truly nourished with milk], and did truly eat as we do, and truly drink as we do. For if the Incarnation was a phantom, salvation is a phantom also. The Christ was of two natures, Man in what was seen, but God in what was not seen; as Man truly eating like us, for He had the like feeling of the flesh with us; but as God feeding the five thousand from five loaves; as Man truly dying, but as God raising him that had been dead four days; truly sleeping in the ship as Man, and walking upon the waters as God.
OF THE CROSS.
10. He was truly crucified for our sins. For if thou wouldest deny it, the place refutes thee visibly, this blessed Golgotha, in which we are now assembled for the sake of Him who was here crucified; and the whole world has since been filled with pieces of the wood of the Cross. But He was crucified not for sins of His own, but that we might be delivered from our sins. And though as Man He was at that time despised of men, and was buffeted, yet He was acknowledged by the Creation as God: for when the sun saw his Lord dis-honoured, he grew dim and trembled, not enduring the sight.
OF HIS BURIAL.
11. He was truly laid as Man in a tomb of rock; but rocks were rent asunder by terror because of Him. He went down into the regions beneath the earth, that thence also He might redeem the righteous. For, tell me, couldst thou wish the living only to enjoy His grace, and that, though most of them are unholy; and not wish those who from Adam had for a long while been imprisoned to have now gained their liberty? Esaias the Prophet proclaimed with loud voice so many things concerning Him; wouldst thou not wish that the King should go down and redeem His herald? David was there, and Samuel, and all the Prophets, John himself also, who by his messengers said, Art thou He that should come, or look we for another? Wouldst thou not wish that He should descend and redeem such as these?
OF THE RESURRECTION.
12. But He who descended into the regions beneath the earth came up again; and Jesus, who was buffed, truly rose again the third day. And if the Jews ever worry thee, meet them at once by asking thus: Did Jonah come forth from the whale on the third day, and bath not Christ then risen from the earth on the third day? Is a dead man raised to life on touching the bones of Elisha, and is it not much easier for the Maker of mankind to be raised by the power of the Father? Well then, He truly rose, and after He had risen was seen again of the disciples: and twelve disciples were witnesses of His Resurrection, who bare witness not in pleasing words, but contended even unto torture and death for the truth of the Resurrection. What then, shall every word be established at the mouth of two of three witnesses, according to the Scripture, and, though twelve bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ, art thou still incredulous in regard to His Resurrection?
CONCERNING THE ASCENSION.
13. But when Jesus had finished His course of patient endurance, and had redeemed mankind from their sins, He ascended again into the heavens, a cloud receiving Him up: and as He went up Angels were beside Him, and Apostles were beholding. But if any man disbelieves the words which I speak, let him believe the act teal power of the things now seen. All kings when they die have their power extinguished with their life: but Christ crucified is worshipped by the whole world. We proclaim The Crucified, and the devils tremble now. Many have been crucified at various times; but of what other who was crucified did the invocation ever drive the devils away?
14. Let us, therefore, not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ; but though another hide it, do thou openly seal it upon thy forehead, that the devils may behold the royal sign and flee trembling far away. Make then this sign at eating and drinking, at sitting, at lying down, at rising up, at speaking, at walking: in a word, at every act. For He who was here crucified is in heaven above. If after being crucified and buried He had remained in the tomb, we should have had cause to be ashamed; but, in fact, He who was crucified on Golgotha here, has ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives on the East. For after having gone down hence into Hades, and come up again to us, He ascended again from us into heaven, His Father addressing Him, and saying, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.
OF JUDGMENT TO COME.
15. This Jesus Christ who is gone up shall come again, not from earth but from heaven: and I say, “not from earth,” because there are many Antichrists to come at this time from earth. For already, as thou base seen, many have begun to say, I am the Christ: and the abomination of desolation is yet to come, assuming to himself the false title of Christ. But look thou for the true Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, coming henceforth no more from earth, but from heaven, appearing to all more bright than any lightning and bril-liancy of light, with angel guards attended, that He may judge both quick and dead, and reign in a heavenly, eternal kingdom, which shall have no end. For on this point also, I pray thee, make thyself sure, since there are many who say that Christ’s Kingdom hath an end.
OF THE HOLY GHOST.
16. Believe thou also in the Holy Ghost, and hold the same opinion concerning Him, which thou hast received to hold concerning the Father and the Son, and follow not those who teach blasphemous things of Him. But learn thou that this Holy Spirit is One, indivisible, of manifold power; having many operations, yet not Himself divided; Who knoweth the mysteries, Who searcheth all things, even the deep things of God: Who descended upon the Lord Jesus Christ in form of a dove; Who wrought in the Law and in the Prophets; Who now also at the season of Baptism sealeth thy soul; of Whose holiness also every intellectual nature hath need: against Whom if any dare to blaspheme, he hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come: “Who with the Father and the Son together” is honoured with the glory of the Godhead: of Whom also thrones, and dominions, principalities, and powers have need. For there is One God, the Father of Christ; and One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of the Only God; and One Holy Ghost, the sanctifier and deifier of all, Who spoke in the Law and in the Prophets, in the Old and in the New Testament.
17. Have thou ever in thy mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.
OF THE SOUL.
18. Next to the knowledge of this venerable and glorious and all-holy Faith, learn further what thou thyself art: that as man thou art of a two-fold nature, consisting of soul and body; and that, as was said a short time ago, the same God is the Creator both of soul and body. Know also that thou hast a soul self-governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator: immortal because of God that gives it immortality; a living being, rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth. For it is not according to thy nativity that thou sinnest, nor is it by the power of chance that thou committest fornication, nor, as some idly talk, do the conjunctions of the stars compel thee to give thyself to wantonness. Why dost thou shrink from confessing thine own evil deeds, and ascribe the blame to the innocent stars? Give no more heed, pray, to astrologers; for of these the divine Scripture saith, Let the stargazers of the heaven stand up and save thee, and what follows: Behold, they all shall be consumed as stubble on the fire, and shall not deliver their soul from the flame.
19. And learn this also, that the soul, before it came into this world, had committed no sin, but having come in sinless, we now sin of our free-will. Listen not, I pray thee, to any one perversely interpreting the words, But if I do that which I would not: but remember Him who saith, If ye be willing, and hearken unto Me, ye shall eat the good things of the land: but if ye be not willing, neither hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, &c.: and again, As ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. Remember also the Scripture, which saith, seven as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge: and, That which may be known of God is manifest in them; and again, their eyes they have dosed. Also remember how God again accuseth them, and saith, Yet I planted thee a fruitful vine, wholly true: how art thou turned to bitterness, thou the strange vine?
20. The soul is immortal, and all souls are alike both of men and women; for only the members of the body are distinguished. There is not a class of souls sinning by nature, and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature: but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only, and alike in all. I know, however, that I am talking much, and that the time is already long: but what is more precious than salvation? Art thou not willing to take trouble in getting provisions for the way against the heretics? And wilt thou not learn the bye-paths of the road, lest from ignorance thou fall down a precipice? If thy teachers think it no small gain for thee to learn these things, shouldest not thou the learner gladly receive the multitude of things told thee?
21. The soul is self-governed: and though the devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou acceptest it; if thou wilt not, thou rejectest. For if thou were a fornicator by necessity, then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou were a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness: since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.
OF THE BODY.
22. Thou hast learned, beloved, the nature of the soul, as far as there is time at present now do thy best to receive the doctrine of the body also. Suffer none of those who say that this body is no work of God: for they who believe that the body is independent of God, and that the soul dwells in it as in a strange vessel, readily abuse it to fornication. And yet what fault have they found in this wonderful body? For what is lacking in comeliness? And what in its structure is not full of skill? Ought they not to have observed the luminous construction of the eyes? And how the ears being set obliquely receive the sound unhindered? And how the smell is able to distinguish scents, and to perceive exhalations? And how the tongue ministers to two purposes, the sense of taste, and the power of speech? How the lungs placed out of sight are unceasing in their respiration of the air? Who imparted the incessant pulsation of the heart? Who made the distribution into so many veins and arteries? Who skilfully knitted together the bones with the sinews? Who assigned a part of the food to our substance, and separated a part for decent secretion, and hid away the unseemly members in more seemly places? Who when the human race must have died out, rendered it by a simple intercourse perpetual?
23. Tell me not that the body is a cause of sin. For if the body is a cause of sin, why does not a dead body sin? Put a sword in the right hand of one just dead, and no murder takes place. Let beauties of every kind pass before a youth just dead, and no impure desire arises. Why? Because the body sins not of itself, but the soul through the body. The body is an instrument, and, as it were, a garment and robe of the soul: and if by this latter it be given over to fornication, it becomes defiled: but if it dwell with a holy soul, it becomes a temple of the Holy Ghost. It is not I that say this, but the Apostle Paul hath said, Know ye not, that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you? Be tender, therefore, of thy body as being a temple of the Holy Ghost. Pollute not thy flesh in fornication: defile not this thy fairest robe: and if ever thou hast defiled it, now cleanse it by repentance: get thyself washed, while time permits.
24. And to the doctrine of chastity let the first to give heed be the order of Solitaries and of Virgins, who maintain the angelic life in the world; and let the rest of the Church’s people follow them. For you, brethren, a great crown is laid up: barter not away a great dignity for a petty pleasure: listen to the Apostle speaking: Lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthri
ght. Enrolled henceforth in the Angelic books for thy profession of chastity, see that thou be not blotted out again for thy practice of fornication.
25. Nor again, on the other hand, in maintaining thy chastity be thou puffed up against those who walk in the humbler path of matrimony. For as the Apostle saith, Let marriage be had in honour among all, and let the bed be undefiled. Thou too who ratainest thy chastity, wast thou not begotten of those who had married? Because thou hast a possession of gold, do not on that account reprobate the silver. But let those also be of good cheer, who being married use marriage lawfully; who make a marriage according to God’s ordinance, and not of wantonness for the sake of unbounded license; who recognise seasons of abstinence, that they may give themselves unto prayer; who in our assemblies bring clean bodies as welt as clean garments into the Church; who have entered upon matrimony for the procreation of children, but not for indulgence.
26. Let those also who marry but once not reprobate those who have consented to a second marriages: for though continence is a noble and admirable thing, yet it is also permissible to enter upon a second marriage, that the weak may not fall into fornication. For it is good for them, saith the Apostle, if they abide even as I. But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. But let all the other practices be banished afar, fornication, adultery, and every kind of licentiousness: and let the body be kept pure for the Lord, that the Lord also may have respect unto the body. And let the body be nourished with food, that it may live, and serve without hindrance; not, however, that it may be given up to luxuries.
27. And concerning food let these be your ordinances, since in regard to meats also many stumble. For some deal indifferently with things offered to idols, while others discipline themselves, but condemn those that eat: and in different ways men’s souls are defiled in the matter of meats, from ignorance of the useful reasons for eating and not eating. For we fast by abstaining from wine and flesh, not because we abhor them as abominations, but because we look for our reward; that having scorned things sensible, we may enjoy a spiritual and intellectual feast; and that having now sown in tears we may reap in joy in the world to come. Despise not therefore them that eat, and because of the weakness of their bodies partake of food: nor yet blame these who use a little wine for their stomach’s sake and their often infirmities: and neither condemn the men as sinners, nor abhor the flesh as strange food; for the Apostle knows some of this sort, when he says: forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain firm meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe. In abstaining then from these things, abstain not as from things abominable, else thou hast no reward: but as being good things disregard them for the sake of the better spiritual things set before thee.
28. Guard thy soul safely, lest at any time thou eat of things offered to idols: for concerning meats of this kind, not only I at this time, but ere now Apostles also, and James the bishop of this Church, have had earnest care: and the Apostles and Elders write a Catholic epistle to all the Gentiles, that they should abstain first from things offered to idols, and then strata blood also and from things strangled. For many men being of savage nature, and living like dogs, both lap up blood, in imitation of the manner of the fiercest beasts, and greedily devour things strangled. But do thou, the servant of Christ, in eating observe to eat with reverence. And so enough concerning meats.
29. But let thine apparel be plain, not for adornment, but for necessary covering: not to minister to thy vanity, but to keep thee warm in winter, and to hide the unseemliness of the body: lest under pretence of hiding the unseemliness, thou fall into another kind of unseemliness by thy extravagant dress.
OF THE RESURRECTION.
30. Be tender, I beseech thee, of this body, and understand that thou wilt be raised from the dead, to be judged with this body. But if there steal into thy mind any thought of unbelief, as though the thing were impossible, judge of the things unseen by what happens to thyself. For tell me; a hundred years ago or more, think where wast thou thyself: and from what a most minute and mean substance thou art come to so great a stature, and so much dignity of beauty. What then? Cannot He who brought the non- existent into being, raise up again that which already exists and has decayed? He who raises the corn, which is sown for our sakes, as year by year it dies,—will He base difficulty in raising us up, for whose sakes that corn also has been raised? Seest thou how the trees stand now for many months without either fruit or leaves: but when the winter is past they spring up whole into life again as if from the dead: shall not we much rather and more easily return to life? The rod of Moses was transformed by the will of God into the unfamiliar nature of a serpent: and cannot a man, who has fallen into death, be restored to himself again?
31. Heed not those who say that this body is not raised; for it is raised: and Esaias is witness, when he says: The dead shall arise, and they that are in the tombs shall awake: and according to Daniel, Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall arise, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame. But though to rise again is common to all men, yet the resurrection is not alike to all: for the bodies received by us all are eternal, but not like bodies by all: for the just receive them, that through eternity they may join the Choirs of Angels; but the sinners, that they may endure for ever the torment of their sins.
OF THE LAVER.
32. For this cause the Lord, preventing us according to His loving- kindness, has granted repentance at Baptism, in order that we may cast off the chief—nay rather the whole burden of our sins, and having received the seal by the Holy Ghost, may be made heirs of eternal life. But as we have spoken sufficiently concerning the Layer the day before yesterday, let us now return to the remaining subjects of our introductory teaching.
OF THE DIVINE SCRIPTURES.
33. Now these the divinely-inspired Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament teach us. For the God of the two Testaments is One, Who in the Old Testament foretold the Christ Who appeared in the New; Who by the Law and the Prophets led us to Christ’s school. For before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, and, the law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ. And if ever thou hear any of the heretics speaking evil of the Law or the Prophets, answer in the sound of the Saviour’s voice, saying, Jesus came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it. Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dose thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters.
34. For after the death of Alexander, the king of the Macedonians, and the division of his kingdom into four principalities, into Babylonia, and Macedonia, and Asia, and Egypt, one of those who reigned over Egypt, Ptolemy Philadelphus, being a king very fond of learning, while collecting the books that were in every place, heard from Demetrius Phalereus, the curator of his library, of the Divine Scriptures of the Law and the Prophets, and judged it much nobler, not to get the books from the possessors by force against their will, but rather to propitiate them by gifts and friendship; and knowing that what is extorted is often adulterated, being given unwillingly, while that which is willingly supplied is freely given with all sincerity, he sent to Eleazar, who was then High Priest, a great many gifts for the Temple here at Jerusalem, and caused him to send him six interpreters from each of the twelve tribes of Israel for the translation. Then, further, to make experiment whether the books were Divine or not, he took precaution that those who had been sent should not combine among themselves, by assigning to each of the interpreters who had come his separate chamber in the island called Pharos, which lies over against Alexandria, and committed to each the whole Scriptures to translate. And when they had fulfilled the task in seventy- two days, he brought together all their translations, which they had made in different chambers without sending them one to another, and found that they agreed not only in the sense but even in words. For the process was no word-craft, nor contrivance of human devices: but the translation of the Divine Scriptures, spoken by the Holy Ghost, was of the Holy Ghost accomplished.
35. Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave, and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.
36. Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects.
37. But shun thou every diabolical operation, and believe not the apostate Serpent, whose transformation from a good nature was of his own free choice: who can over-persuade the willing, but can compel no one. Also give heed neither to observations of the stars nor auguries, nor omens, nor to the fabulous divinations of the Greeks. Witchcraft, and enchantment, and the wicked practices of necromancy, admit not even to a hearing. From every kind of intemperance stand aloof, giving thyself neither to gluttony nor licentiousness, rising superior to all covetousness and usury.
Neither venture thyself at heathen assemblies for public spectacles, nor ever use amulets in sicknesses; shun also all the vulgarity of tavern-haunting. Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans, or into Judaism: for Jesus Christ henceforth hath ransomed thee. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths, and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean. But especially abhor all the assemblies of wicked heretics; and in every way make thine own soul safe, by fastings, prayers, almsgivings, and reading the oracles of God; that having lived the rest of thy life in the flesh in soberness and godly doctrine, thou mayest enjoy the one salvation which flows from Baptism; and thus enrolled in the armies of heaven by God and the Father, mayest also be deemed worthy of the heavenly crowns, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
HEBREWS xi. 1, 2. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.
1. How great a dignity the Lord bestows on you in transferring you from the order of Catechumens to that of the Faithful, the Apostle Paul shews, when he affirms, God is faithful, by Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ. For since God is called Faithful, thou also in receiving this title receivest a great dignity. For as God is called Good, and Just, and Almighty, and Maker of the Universe, so is He also called Faithful. Consider therefore to what a dignity thou art rising, seeing thou art to become partaker of a title of God.
2. Here then it is further required, that each of you be found faithful in his conscience: for a faithful man it is hard to find: not that thou shouldest shew thy conscience to me, for thou art not to be judged of man’s judgment; but that thou shew the sincerity of thy faith to God, who trieth the reins and hearts, and knoweth the thoughts of men. A great thing is a faithful man, being richest of all rich men. For to the faithful man belongs the whole world of wealth, in that he disdains and tramples on it. For they who in appearance are rich, and have many possessions, are poor in soul: since the more they gather, the more they pine with longing for what is still lacking. But the faithful man, most strange paradox, in poverty is rich: for knowing that we need only to have food and raiment, and being therewith content, he has trodden riches under foot.
3. Nor is it only among us, who bear the name of Christ, that the dignity of faith is great: but likewise all things that are accomplished in the world, even by those who are aliens from the Church, are accomplished by faith.
By faith the laws of marriage yoke together those who have lived as strangers: and because of the faith in marriage contracts a stranger is made partner of a stranger’s person and possessions. By faith husbandry also is sustained, for he who believes not that he shall receive a harvest endures not the toils. By faith sea-faring men, trusting to the thinnest plank, exchange that most solid element, the land, for the restless motion of the waves, committing themselves to uncertain hopes, and carrying with them a faith more sure than any anchor. By faith therefore most of men’s affairs are held together: and not among us only has there been this belief, but also, as I have said, among those who are without. For if they receive not the Scriptures, but bring forward certain doctrines of their own, even these they accept by faith.
4. The lesson also which was read to-day invites you to the true faith, by setting before you the way in which you also must please God: for it affirms that without faith it is impossible to please Him. For when will a man resolve to serve God, unless he believes that He is a giver of reward? When will a young woman choose a virgin life, or a young man live soberly, if they believe not that for chastity there is a crown that fadeth not away? Faith is an eye that enlightens every conscience, and imparts understanding; for the Prophet saith, And if ye behave not, ye shall not understand.
Faith stoppeth the mouths of lions, as in Daniel’s case: for the Scripture saith concerning him, that Daniel was brought up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. Is there anything more fearful than the devil? Yet even against him we have no other shield than faith, an impalpable buckler against an unseen foe. For he sends forth divers arrows, and shoots dawn in the dark night those that watch not; but, since the enemy is unseen, we have faith as our strong armour, according to the saying of the Apostle, In all thinks taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. A fiery dart of desire of base indulgence is often cast forth from the devil: but faith, suggesting a picture of the judgment, cools down the mind, and quenches the dart.
5. There is much to tell of faith, and the whole day would not be time sufficient for us to describe it fully. At present let us be content with Abraham only, as one of the examples from the Old Testament, seeing that we have been made his sons through faith. He was justified not only by works, but also by faith: for though he did many things well, yet he was never called the friend of God, except when he believed. Moreover, his every work was performed in faith. Through faith he left his parents; left country, and place, and home through faith. In like manner, therefore, as he was justified be thou justified also. In his body he was already dead in regard to offspring, and Sarah his wife was now old, and there was no hope left of having children. God promises the old man a child, and Abraham without being weakened in faith, though he considered his own body now as good as dead, heeded not the weakness of his body, but the power of Him who promised, because he counted Him faithful who had promised, and so beyond all expectation gained the child from bodies as it were already dead. And when, after he had gained his son, he was commanded to offer him up, although he had heard the word, In Isaac shall thy seed be called, he proceeded to offer up his son, his only son, to God, believing that God is able to raise up even from the dead. And having bound his son, and laid him on the wood, he did in purpose offer him, but by the goodness of God in delivering to him a lamb instead of his child, he received his son alive. Being faithful in these things, he was sealed for righteousness, and received circumcision as a seal of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision, having received a promise thai he should be the father of many nations.
6. Let us see, then, how Abraham is the father of many nations. Of Jews he is confessedly the father, through succession according to the flesh. But if we hold to the succession according to the flesh, we shall be compelled to say that the oracle was false. For according to the flesh be is no longer father of us all: but the example of his faith makes us all sons of Abraham. How? and in what manner? With men it is incredible that one should rise from the dead; as in like manner it is incredible also that there should be offspring from aged persons as good as dead. But when Christ is preached as having been crucified on the tree, and as having died and risen again, we believe it. By the likeness therefore of our faith we are adopted into the sonship of Abraham. And then, following upon our faith, we receive like him the spiritual seal, being circumcised by the Holy Spirit through Baptism, not in the foreskin of the body, but in the heart, according to Jeremiah, saying, And ye shall be circumcised unto God in the foreskin of your heart: and according to the Apostle, in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, and the rest.
7. This faith if we keep we shall be free from condemnation, and shall be adorned with all kinds of virtues. For so great is the strength of faith, as even to buoy men up in walking on the sea. Peter was a man like ourselves, made up of flesh and blood, and living upon like food. But when Jesus said, Come, he believed, and walked upon the waters, and found his faith safer upon the waters than any ground; and his heavy body was upheld by the buoyancy of his faith. But though he had safe footing over the water as long as he believed, yet when he doubted, at once he began to sink: for as his faith gradually relaxed, his body also was drawn down with it. And when He saw his distress, Jesus who remedies the distresses of our souls, said, O than of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And being nerved again by Him who grasped his right hand, be had no sooner recovered his faith, than, led by the hand of the Master, he resumed the same walking upon the waters: for this the Gospel indirectly mentioned, saying, when they were gone up into the ship. For it says not that Peter swam across and went up, but gives us to understand that, after returning the same distance that he went to meet Jesus, he went up again into the ship.
8. Yea, so much power hath faith, that not the believer only is saved, but some have been saved by others believing. The paralytic in Capernaum was not a believer, but they believed who brought him, and let him down through the tiles: for the sick man’s soul shared the sickness of his body. And think not that I accuse him without cause: the Gospel itself says, when Jesus saw, not his faith, but their faith, He saith to the sick of the palsy, Arise! The bearers believed, and the sick of the palsy enjoyed the blessing of the cure.
9. Wouldest thou see yet more surely that some are saved by others’ faith? Lazarus died: one day had passed, and a second, and a third: his sinews were decayed, and corruption was preying already upon his body. How could one four days dead believe, and entreat the Redeemer on his own behalf? But what the dead man lacked was supplied by his true sisters. For when the Lord was come, the sister fell down before Him, and when He said, Where have ye laid him? and she had made answer, Lord, by this time he stinketh; for he hath been four days dead, the Lord said, If thou believe, thou shale see the glory of God; as much as saying, Supply thou the dead man’s lack of faith: and the sisters’ faith had so much power, that it recalled the dead from the gates of hell. Have then men by believing, the one on behalf of the other, been able to raise the dead, and shale not thou, if thou believe sincerely on thine own behalf, be much rather profited? Nay, even if thou be faithless, or of little faith, the Lord is loving unto man; He condescends to thee on thy repentance: only on thy part say with honest mind, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief. But if thou thinkest that thou really art faithful, but hast not yet the fulness of faith, thou too hast need to say like the Apostles, Lord, increase our faith: for some part thou hast of thyself, but the greater part thou receivest from Him.
10. For the name of Faith is in the form of speech s one, but has two distinct senses. For there is one kind of faith, the dogmatic, involving an assent of the soul on some particular point: and it is profitable to the soul, as the Lord saith: He that heareth My words, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and cometh not into judgment: and again, He that believeth in the Son is not judged, but hath passed from death unto life. Oh the great loving-kindness of God! For the righteous were many years in pleasing Him: but what they succeeded in gaining by many years of well-pleasing, this Jesus now bestows on thee in a single hour. For if thou shale believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead, thou shale be saved, and shale be transported into Paradise by Him who brought in thither the robber. And doubt not whether it is possible; for He who on this sacred Golgotha saved the robber after one single hour of belief, the same shall save thee also on thy believing.
11. But there is a second kind of faith, which is bestowed by Christ as a gift of grace. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit: to another faith, by the same Spirit, and to another girls of healing. This faith then which is given of grace from the Spirit is not merely doctrinal, but also worketh things above man’s power. For whosoever hath this faith, shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove. For whenever any one shall say this in faith, believing that it cometh to pass, and shall not doubt in his heart, then receiveth he the grace.
And of this faith it is said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed. For just as the grain of mustard seed is small in size, but fiery in its operation, and though sown in a small space has a circle of great branches, and when grown up is able even to shelter the fowls; so, likewise, faith in the swiftest moment works the greatest effects in the soul. For, when enlightened by faith, the soul hath visions of God, and as far as is possible beholds God, and ranges round the bounds of the universe, and before the end of this world already beholds the Judgment, and the payment of the promised rewards. Have thou therefore that faith in Him which cometh from thine own self, that thou mayest also receive from Him that faith which worketh things above man.
12. But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines. This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart, taking care while you rehearse it that no Catechumen chance to overhear the things which have been delivered to you. I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light should wish to lead you astray. For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be to you anathema. So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed, and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith. And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments. Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them an the table of your heart.
13. Guard them with reverence, lest per chance the enemy despoil any who have grown slack; or lest some heretic pervert any of the truths delivered to you. For faith is like putting money into the bank, even as we have now done; but from you God requires the accounts of the deposit. I charge you, as the Apostle saith, before God, who quickeneth all things, and Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession, that ye keep this faith which is committed to you, without spot, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. A treasure of life has now been committed to thee, and the Master demandeth the deposit at His appearing, which in His own times He shall shew, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen nor can see. To Whom be glory, honour, and power for ever and ever. Amen.
CONCERNING THE UNITY OF GOD. ON THE ARTICLE, I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD. ALSO CONCERNING HERESIES.
ISAIAH xlv. 16, 17. (Sept.) Sanctify yourselves unto Me, O islands. Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; they shall not be ashamed, neither shall they be confounded for ever, etc.
1. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed also be His Only-begotten Son. For with the thought of God let the thought of Father at once be joined, that the ascription of glory to the Father and the Son may be made indivisible For the Father hath not one glory, and the Son another, but one and the same, since He is the Father’s Only-begotten Son; and when the Father is glorified, the Son also shares the glory with Him, because the glory of the Son flows from His Father’s honour: and again, when the Son is glorified, the Father of so great a blessing is highly honoured.
2. Now though the mind is most rapid in its thoughts, yet the tongue needs words, and a long recital of intermediary speech. For the eye embraces at once a multitude of the ‘starry quire;’ but when any one wishes to describe them one by one, which is the Morning-star, and which, the Evening-star, and which each one of them, he has need of many words. In like manner again the mind in the briefest moment compasses earth and sea and all the bounds of the universe; but what it conceives in an instant, it uses many words to describe. Yet forcible as is the example I have mentioned, still it is after all weak and inadequate. For of God we speak not all we ought (for that is known to Him only), but so much as the capacity of human nature has received, and so much as our weakness can bear. For we explain not what God is but candidly confess that we have not exact knowledge concerning Him. For in what concerns God to confess our ignorance is the best knowledge. Therefore magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together,—all of us in common, for one alone is powerless; nay rather, even if we be all united together, we shall yet not do it as we ought I mean not you only who are here present, but even if all the nurslings of the whole Church throughout the world, both that which now is and that which shall be, should meet together, they would not be able worthily to sing the praises of their Shepherd.
3. A great and honourable man was Abraham, but only great in comparison with men; and when he came before God, then speaking the truth candidly he saith, I am earth and ashes. He did not say ‘earth,’ and then cease, lest he should call himself by the name of that great element; but he added `and ashes,’ that he might represent his perishable and trail nature. Is there anything, he saith, smaller or lighter than ashes? For take, saith he, the comparison of ashes to a house, of a house to a city, a city to a province, a province to the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire to the whole earth and all its bounds, and the whole earth to the heaven in which it is embosomed;—the earth, which bears the same proportion to the heaven as the centre to the whole circumference of a wheel, for the earth is no more than this in comparison with the heaven: consider then that this first heaven which is seen is less than the second, and the second than the third, for so far Scripture has named them, not that they are only so many, but because it was expedient for us to know so many only. And when in thought thou hast surveyed all the heavens, not yet will even the heavens be able to praise God as He is, nay, not if they should resound with a voice louder than thunder. But if these great vaults of the heavens cannot worthily sing God’s praise, when shall ‘earth and ashes,’ the smallest and least of things existing, be able to send up a worthy hymn of praise to God, or worthily to speak of God, that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and holdeth the inhabitants thereof as grasshoppers.
4. If any man attempt to speak of God, let him first describe the bounds of the earth. Thou dwellest on the earth, and the limit of this earth which is thy dwelling thou knowest not: how then shalt thou be able to form a worthy thought of its Creator? Thou be-boldest the stars, but their Maker thou beholdest not: count these which are visible, and then describe Him who is invisible, Who telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names. Violent rains lately came pouring down upon us, and nearly destroyed us: number the drops in this city alone: nay, I say not in the city, but number the drops on thine own house for one single hour, if thou canst: but thou canst not. Learn then thine own weakness; learn from this instance the mightiness of God: for He hath numbered the drops of rain, which have been poured down on all the earth, not only now but in all time. The sun is a work of God, which, great though it be, is but a spot in comparison with the whole heaven; first gaze stedfastly upon the sun, and then curiously scan the Lord of the sun. Seek not the things that are too deep for thee, neither search out the things that are above thy strength: what is commanded thee, think thereupon.
5. But some one will say, If the Divine substance is incomprehensible, why then dost thou discourse of these things? So then, because I cannot drink up all the river, am I not even to take in moderation what is expedient for me? Because with eyes so constituted as mine I cannot take in all the sun, am I not even to look upon him enough to satisfy my wants? Or again, because I have entered into a great garden, and cannot eat all the supply of fruits, wouldst thou have me go away altogether hungry? I praise and glorify Him that made us; for it is a divine command which saith, Let every breath praise the Lord. I am attempting now to glorify the Lord, but not to describe Him, knowing nevertheless that I shall fall short of glorifying Him worthily, yet deeming it a work of piety even to attempt it at all. For the Lord Jesus encourageth my weakness, by saying, No man hath seen God at any time.
6. What then, some man will say, is it not written, The little ones’ Angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven[? Yes, but the Angels see God not as He is, but as far as they themselves are capable. For it is Jesus Himself who saith, Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father. The Angels therefore behold as much as they can bear, and Archangels as much as they are able; and Thrones and Dominions more than the former, but yet less than His worthiness: for with the Son the Holy Ghost alone can rightly behold Him: for He searcheth all things, and knoweth even the deep things of God: as indeed the Only-begotten Son also, with the Holy Ghost, knoweth the Father fully: For neither, saith He, knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. For He fully beholdeth, and, according as each can bear, revealeth God through the Spirit: since the Only-begotten Son together with the Holy Ghost is a partaker of the Father’s Godhead.
He, who was begotten knoweth Him who begot; and He Who begot knoweth Him who is begotten. Since Angels then are ignorant (for to each according to his own capacity doth the Only-begotten reveal Him through the Holy Ghost, as we have said), let no man be ashamed to confess his ignorance. I am speaking now, as all do on occasion but how we speak, we cannot tell: how then can I declare Him who hath given us speech? I who have a soul, and cannot tell its distinctive properties, how shall I be able to describe its Giver?
7. For devotion it suffices us simply to know that we have a God; a God who is One, a living, an ever-living God; always like unto Himself; who has no Father, none mightier than Himself, no successor to thrust Him out from His kingdom: Who in name is manifold, in power infinite, in substance uniform. For though He is called Good. and Just, and Almighty and Sabaoth, He is not on that account diverse and various; but being one and the same, He sends forth countless operations of His Godhead, not exceeding here and deficient there, but being in all things like unto Himself. Not great in loving-kindness only, and little in wisdom, but with wisdom and loving-kindness in equal power: not seeing in part, and in part devoid of sight; but being all eye, and all ear, and all mind: not like us perceiving in part and in part not knowing; for such a statement were blasphemous, and unworthy of the Divine substance. He foreknoweth the things that be; He is Holy, and Almighty, and excelleth all in goodness, and majesty, and wisdom: of Whom we can declare neither beginning, nor form, nor shape. For ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape, saith Holy Scripture. Wherefore Moses saith also to the Israelites: And take ye good heed to your own souls, for ye saw no similitude. For if it is wholly impossible to imagine His likeness, how shall thought come near His substance?
8. There have been many imaginations by many persons, and all have failed. Some have thought that God is fire; others that He is, as it were, a man with wings, because of a true text ill understood, Thou shalt hide me under the shadow of Thy wings. They forgot that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten, speaks in like manner concerning Himself to Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and ye would not[. For whereas God’s protecting power was conceived as wings, they failing to understand this sank down to the level of things human, and supposed that the Unsearchable exists in the likeness of man. Some again dared to say that He has seven eyes, because it is written, seven eyes of the Lord looking upon the whale earth. For if He has but seven eyes surrounding Him in part, His seeing is therefore partial and not perfect: but to say this of God is blasphemous; for we must believe that God is in all things perfect, according to our Saviour’s word, which saith, Your Father in heaven is perfect: perfect in sight, perfect in power, perfect in greatness, perfect in foreknowledge, perfect in goodness, perfect in justice, perfect in loving-kindness: not circumscribed in any space, but the Creator of all space, existing in all, and circumscribed by none. Heaven is His throne, but higher is He that sitteth thereon: and earth is His footstool, but His power reacheth unto things under the earth.
9. One He is, everywhere present, beholding all things, perceiving all things, creating all things through Christ: For all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. A fountain of every good, abundant and unfailing, a river of blessings, an eternal light of never- failing splendour, an insuperable power condescending to our infirmities: whose very Name we dare not hear. Wilt thou find a footstep of the Lord? saith Job, or hast thou attained unto the least things which the Almighty hath made? If the least of His works are incomprehensible, shall He be comprehended who made them all? Eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. If the things which God hath prepared are incomprehensible to our thoughts, how can we comprehend with our mind Himself who hath prepared them? O the depth of the riches, and wisdom, and knowledge of God! How un-searchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! saith the Apostle. If His judgments and His ways are incomprehensible, can He Himself be comprehended?
10. God then being thus great, and yet greater, (for even were I to change my whole substance into tongue, I could not speak His excellence: nay more, not even if all Angels should assemble, could they ever speak His worth), God being therefore so great in good-ness and majesty, man hath yet dared to say to a stone that he hath graven, Thou art my God 10! O monstrous blindness, that from majesty so great came down so low! The tree which was planted by God, and nourished by the rain, and afterwards burnt and turned into ashes by the fire,—this is addressed as God, and the true God is despised. But the wickedness of idolatry grew yet more prodigal, and cat, and dog, and wolf were worshipped instead of God: the man-eating lion also was worshipped instead of God, the most loving friend of man. The snake and the serpent, counterfeit of him who thrust us out of Paradise, were worshipped, and He who planted Paradise was despised. And I am ashamed to say, and yet do say it, even onions were worshipped among some. Wine was given to make glad the heart of man: and Dionysus (Bacchus) was worshipped instead of God. God made corn by saying, Let the earth bring forth grass, yielding seed after his kind and after. his likeness, that bread may strengthen man’s heart: why then was Demeter (Ceres) worshipped? Fire cometh forth from striking stones together even to this day: how then was Hephaestus (Vulcan) the creator of fire?
11. Whence came the polytheistic error of the Greeks? God has no body: whence then the adulteries alleged among those who are by them called gods? I say nothing of the transformations of Zeus into a swan: I am ashamed to speak of his transformations into a bull: for bellowings are unworthy of a god. The god of the Greeks has been found an adulterer, yet are they not ashamed: for if he is an adulterer let him not be called a god. They tell also of deaths, and falls, and thunder-strokes of their gods. Seest thou from how great a height and how low they have fallen? Was it without reason then that the Son of God came down from heaven? or was it that He might heal so great a wound? Was it without reason that the Son came? or was it in order that the Father might be acknowledged? Thou hast learned what moved the Only-begotten to come down from the throne at God’s right hand. The Father was despised, the Son must needs correct the error: for He THROUGH WHOM ALL, THINGS WERE MADE must bring them all as offerings to the Lord of all. The wound must be healed: for what could be Worse than this disease, that a stone should be worshipped instead of God?
12. And not among the heathen only did the devil make these assaults; for many of those who are falsely called Christians, and wrongfully addressed by the sweet name of Christ, have ere now impiously dared to banish God from His own creation. I mean the brood of heretics, those most ungodly men of evil name, pretending to be friends of Christ but utterly hating Him. For he who blasphemes the Father of the Christ is an enemy of the Son. These men have dared to speak of two Godheads, one good and one evil! O monstrous blindness! If a Godhead, then assuredly good. But if not good, why called a Godhead? For if goodness is an attribute of God; if loving-kindness, beneficence, almighty power, are proper to God, then of two things one, either in calling Him God let the name and operation be united; or if they would rob Him of His operations, let them not give Him the bare name.
13. Heretics have dared to say that there are two Gods, and of good and evil two sources, and these unbegotten. If both are unbegotten it is certain that they are also equal, and both mighty. How then doth the light destroy the darkness? And do they ever exist together, or are they separated? Together they cannot be; for what fellowship hath light with darkness? saith the Apostle. But if they are far from each other, it is certain that they hold also each his own place; and if they hold their own separate places, we are certainly in the realm of one God, and certainly worship one God. For thus we must conclude, even if we assent to their folly, that we must worship one God. Let us examine also what they say of the good God. Hath He power or no power? If He hath power, how did evil arise against His will? And how doth the evil substance intrude, if He be not willing? For if He knows but cannot hinder it, they charge Him with want of power; but if He has the power, yet hinders not, they accuse Him of treachery. Mark too their want of sense. At one time they say that the Evil One hath no communion with the good God in the creation of the world; but at another time they say that he hath the fourth part only. Also they say that the good God is the Father of Christ; but Christ the call this sun If, therefore according to them, the world was made by the Evil One, and the sun is in the world, how is the Son of the Good an unwilling slave in the kingdom of the Evil? We bemire ourselves in speaking of these things, but we do it lest any of those present should from ignorance fall into the mire of the heretics. I know that I have defiled my own mouth and the ears of my listeners: yet it is expedient. For it is much better to hear absurdities charged against others, than to fall into them from ignorance: far better that thou know the mire and hate it, than unawares fall into it. For the godless system of the heresies is a road with many branches, and whenever a man has strayed from the one straight way, then he falls down precipices again and again.
14. The inventor of all heresy was Simon Magus: that Simon, who in the Acts of the Apostles thought to purchase with money the unsaleable grace of the Spirit, and heard the words, Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, and the rest: concerning whom also it is written, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us. This man, after he had been cast out by the Apostles, came to Rome, and gaining over one Helena a harlot, was the first that dared with blasphemous mouth to say that it was himself who appeared on Mount Sinai as the Father, and afterwards appeared among the Jews, not in real flesh but in seeming, as Christ Jesus, and afterwards as the Holy Spirit whom Christ promised to send as the Paraclete. And he so deceived the City of Rome that Claudius set up his statue, and wrote beneath it, in the language of the Romans, “Simoni Deo Sancto,” which being interpreted signifies, “To Simon the Holy God.”
15. As the delusion was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right; and when the supposed god Simon wished to shew himself off, they straightway shewed him as a corpse. For Simon promised to rise aloft to heaven, and came riding in a daemons’ chariot on the air; but the servants of God fell on their knees, and having shewn that agreement of which Jesus spoke, that If two of you shall agree concerning anything that they shall ask, it shall be done unto them, they launched the weapon of their concord in prayer against Magus, and struck him down to the earth. And marvellous though it was, yet no marvel. For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven: and nothing wonderful, for Paul was there, who was caught up to the third heaven, and into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful far a man to utter. These brought the supposed God down from the sky to earth, thence to be taken down to the regions below the earth. In this man first the serpent of wickedness appeared; but when one head had been cut off, the root of wickedness was found again with many heads.
16. For Cerinthus made havoc of the Church, and Menander, and Carpocrates, Ebionites also, and Marcion, that mouthpiece of ungodliness. For he who proclaimed different gods, one the Good, the other the Just, contradicts the Son when He says, O righteous Father. And he who says again that the Father is one, and the maker of the world another, opposes the Son when He says, If then God so clothes the grass of the field which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the furnace of fire; and, Who maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Here again is a second inventor of more mischief, this Marcion. For being confuted by the testimonies from the Old Testament which are quoted in the New, he was the first who dared to cut those testimonies out, and leave the preaching of the word of faith without witness, thus effacing the true God: and sought to undermine the Church’s faith, as if there were no heralds of it.
17. He again was succeeded by another, Basilides, of evil name, and dangerous character, a preacher of impurities. The contest of wickedness was aided also by Valentinus, a preacher of thirty gods. The Greeks tell of but few: and the man who was called—but more truly was not—a Christian extended the delusion to full thirty. He says, too, that Bythus the Abyss (for it became him as being an abyss of wickedness to begin his teaching from the Abyss) begot Silence, and of Silence begot the Word. This Bythus was worse than the Zeus of the Greeks, who was united to his sister: for Silence was said to be the child of Bythus. Dost thou see the absurdity invested with a show of Christianity? Wait a little, and thou wilt be shocked at his impiety; for he asserts that of this Bythus were begotten eight Aeons; and of them, ten; and of them, other twelve, male and female. But whence is the proof of these things? See their silliness from their fabrications. Whence hast thou the proof of the thirty Aeons? Because, saith he, it is written, that Jesus was baptized, being thirty years old. But even if He was baptized when thirty years old, what sort of demonstration is this from the thirty years? Are there then five gods, because He brake five loaves among five thousand? Or because he had twelve Disciples, must there—also be twelve gods?
18. And even this is still little compared with the impieties which follow. For the last of the deities being, as he dares to speak, both male and female, this, he says, is Wisdom. What impiety! For the Wisdom of God is Christ His Only-begotten Son: and he by his doctrine degraded the Wisdom of God into a female element, and one of thirty, and the last fabrication. He also says that Wisdom attempted to behold the first God, and not bearing His brightness fell from heaven, and was cast out of her thirtieth place. Then she groaned, and of her groans begat the Devil, and as she wept over her fall made of her tears the sea. Mark the impiety. For of Wisdom how is the Devil begotten, and of prudence wickedness, or of light darkness? He says too that the Devil begat others, some of whom created the world: and that the Christ came down in order to make mankind revolt from the Maker of the world.
19. But hear whom they say Christ Jesus to be, that thou mayest detest them yet more. For they say that after Wisdom had been cast down, in order that the number of the thirty might not be incomplete, the nine and twenty Aeons contributed each a little part, and formed the Christ: and they say that He also is both male and females. Can anything be more impious than this? Anything more wretched? I am describing their delusion to thee, in order that thou mayest hate them the more. Shun, therefore, their impiety, and do not even give greeting to a man of this kind, lest thou have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: neither make curious inquiries, nor be willing to enter into conversation with them.
20. Hate all heretics, but especially him who is rightly named after mania, who arose not long ago in the reign of Probus. For the delusion began full seventy years ago, and there are men still living who saw him with their very eyes. But hate him not for this, that he lived a short time ago; but because of his impious doctrines hate thou the worker of wickedness, the receptacle of all filth, who gathered up the mire of every heresy. For aspiring to become preeminent among wicked men, he took the doctrines of all, and having combined them into one heresy filled with blasphemies and all iniquity, he makes havoc of the Church, or rather of those outside the Church, roaming about like a lion and devouring. tttHeed not their fair speech, nor their supposed humility: for they are serpents, a generation of vipers. Judas too said Hail! Master, even while he was betraying Him. Heed not their kisses, but beware of their venom.
21. Now, lest I seem to accuse him without reason, let me make a digression to tell who this Manes is, and in part what he teaches: for all time would fail to describe adequately the whole of his foul teaching. But for help in time of need, store up in thy memory what I have said to former hearers, and will repeat to those now present, that they who know not may learn, and they who know may be reminded. Manes is not of Christian origin, God forbid! nor was he like Simon cast out of the Church, neither himself nor the teachers who were before him. For he steals other men’s wickedness, and makes their wickedness his own: but how and in what manner thou must hear.
22. There was in Egypt one Scythianus, a Saracen by birth, having nothing in common either with Judaism or with Christianity. This man, who dwelt at Alexandria and imitated the life of Aristotle, composed four books, one called a Gospel which had not the acts of Christ, but the mere name only, and one other called the book of Chapters, and a third of Mysteries, and a fourth, which they circulate now, the Treasure. This man had a disciple, Terebinthus by name. But when Scythianus purposed to come into Judaea, and make havoc of the land, the Lord smote him with a deadly disease, and stayed the pestilence.
23. But Terebinthus, his disciple in this wicked error, inherited his money and books and heresy, and came to Palestine, and becoming known and condemned in Judaea he resolved to pass into Persia: but lest he should be recognised there also by his name he changed it and called himself Buddas. However, he found adversaries there also in the priests of Mithras: and being confuted in the discussion of many arguments and controversies, and at last hard pressed, he took refuge with a certain widow. Then having gone up on the housetop, and summoned the daemons of the air, whom the Manichees to this day invoke over their abominable ceremony of the fig, he was smitten of God, and cast down from the housetop, and expired: and so the second beast was cut off.
24. The books, however, which were the records of his impiety, remained; and both these and his money the widow inherited. And having neither kinsman nor any other friend, she determined to buy with the money a boy named Cubricus: him she adopted and educated as a son in the learning of the Persians, and thus sharpened an evil weapon against mankind. So Cubricus, the vile slave, grew up in the midst of philosophers, and on the death of the widow inherited both the books and the money. Then, lest the name of slavery might be a reproach, instead of Cubricus he called himself Manes, which in the language of the Persians signifies discourse. For as he thought himself something of a disputant, he surnamed himself Manes, as it were an excellent master of discourse. But though he contrived for himself an honourable title according to the language of the Persians, yet the providence of God caused him to become a self-accuser even against his will, that through thinking to honour himself in Persia, he might proclaim himself among the Greeks by name a maniac.
25. He dared too to say that he was the Paraclete, though it is written, But whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath no forgiveness. He committed blasphemy therefore by saying that he was the Holy Ghost: let him that communicates with those heretics see with whom he is enrolling himself. The slave shook the world, since by three things the earth is shaken, and the fourth it cannot bear,—if a slave became a king. Having come into public he now began to promise things above man’s power. The son of the King of the Persians was sick, and a multitude of physicians were in attendance: but Manes promised, as if he were a godly man, to cure him by prayer. With the departure of the physicians, the life of the child departed: and the man’s impiety was detected. So the would-be philosopher was a prisoner, being cast into prison not for reproving the king in the cause of truth, not for destroying the idols, but for promising to save and lying, or rather, if the truth must be told, for committing murder. For the child who might have been saved by medical treatment, was murdered by this man’s driving away the physicians, and killing him by want of treatment.
26. Now as there are very many wicked things which I tell thee of him, remember first his blasphemy, secondly his slavery (not that slavery is a disgrace, but that his pretending to be free-born, when he was a slave, was wicked), thirdly, the falsehood of his promise, fourthly, the murder of the child, and fifthly, the disgrace of the imprisonment. And there was not only the disgrace of the prison, but also the flight from prison. For he who called himself the Paraclete and champion of the truth, ran away: he was no successor of Jesus, who readily went to the Cross, but this man was the reverse, a runaway. Moreover, the King of the Persians ordered the keepers of the prison to be executed: so Manes was the cause of the child’s death through his vain boasting, and of the gaolers’ death through his flight. Ought then he, who shared the guilt of murder, to be worshipped? Ought he not to have followed the example of Jesus, and said, If ye seek Me, let these go their way? Ought he not to have said, like Jonas, Take me, and cast me into the sea: for this storm is because of me?
27. He escapes from the prison, and comes into Mesopotamia: but there Bishop Archelaus, a shield of righteousness, encounters him: and having accused him before philosophers as judges, and having assembled an audience of Gentiles, lest if Christians gave judgment, the judges might be thought to shew favour,—Tell us what thou preachest, said Archelaus to Manes. And he, whose mouth was as an open sepulchre, began first with blasphemy against the Maker of all things, saying, The God of the Old Testament is the author of evils, as He says of Himself, I am a consuming fire. But the wise Archelaus undermined his blasphemous argument by saying, “If the God of the Old Testament, as thou sayest, calls Hire-self a fire, whose Son is He who saith, I came to send fire on the earth? If thou findest fault with Him who saith, The Lord killeth, and maketh alive, why dost thou honour Peter, who raised up Tabitha, but struck Sapphira dead? If again thou findest fault, because He prepared fire, wherefore dost thou not find fault with Him who saith, Depart from Me into everlasting fire? If thou findest fault with Him who saith, I am God that make peace, and create evil, explain how Jesus saith, I came not to send peace but a sword. Since both speak alike, of two things one, either both are good, because of their agreement, or if Jesus is blameless in so speaking. why blamest thou t Him that saith the like in the Old Testament?”
28. Then Manes answers him: “And what sort of God causes blindness? For it is Paul who saith, In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the Gospel should shine unto them.” But Archelaus made a good retort, saying, “Read a little before: But if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are perishing. Seest thou that in them that are perishing it is veiled? For it is not right to give the things which are holy unto the dogs. Again, Is it only the God of the Old Testament that hath blinded the minds of them that believe not? Hath not Jesus Himself said, For this cause speak I unto them in parables, that seeing they may not see? Was it from hating them that He wished them not to see? Or because of their unworthiness, since their eyes they had dosed. For where there is wilful wickedness, there is also a withholding of grace: for to him that hath shall be given; but from hint that hath not shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
29. “But if some are right in their interpretation, we must say as follows (for it is no unworthy expression)—If indeed He blinded the thoughts of them that believe not he blinded them for a good purpose, that they might look with new sight on what is good. For he said not, He blinded their soul, but, the thoughts of them that believe not. And the meaning is something of this kind: `Blind the lewd thoughts of the lewd, and the man is saved: blind the grasping and rapacious thought of the robber, and the man is saved.’ But wilt thou not understand it thus? Then there is yet another interpretation. The sun also blinds those whose sight is dim: and they whose eyes are diseased are hurt by the light and blinded. Not that the sun’s nature is to blind, but that the substance of the eyes is incapable of seeing. In like manner unbelievers being diseased in their heart cannot look upon the radiance of the Godhead. Nor hath he said, ‘He hath blinded their thoughts, that they should not hear the Gospel:’ but, that the light of the glory of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ should not shine unto them. For to hear the Gospel is permitted to all: but he glory of the Gospel is reserved for Christ’s true children only. Therefore the Lord spoke in parables to those who could not hear: but to the Disciples he explained the parables in private: for the brightness of the glory is for those who have been enlightened, the blinding for them that believe not.” These mysteries, which the Church now explains to thee who art passing out of the class of Catechumens, it is not the custom to explain to heathen. For to a heathen we do not explain the mysteries concerning Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, nor before Catechumens do we speak plainly of the mysteries: but many things we often speak in a veiled way, that the believers who know may understand, and they who know not may get no hurt.
30. By such and many other arguments the serpent was overthrown: thus did Archelaus wrestle with Manes and threw him. Again, he who had fled from prison flees from this place also: and having run away from his antagonist, he comes to a very poor village, like the serpent in Paradise when he left Adam and came to Eve. But the good shepherd Archelaus taking forethought for his sheep, when he heard of his flight, straightway hastened with all speed in search of the wolf. And when Manes suddenly saw his adversary, he rushed out and fled: it was however his last flight. For the officers of the King of Persia searched everywhere, and caught the fugitive: and the sentence, which he ought to have received in the presence of Archelaus, is passed upon him by the king’s officers. This Manes, whom his own disciples worship, is arrested and brought before the king. The king reproached him with his falsehood and his flight: poured scorn upon his slavish condition, avenged the murder of his child, and condemned him also for the murder of the gaolers: he commands him to be flayed after the Persian fashion. And while the rest of his body was given over for food of wild beasts, his skin, the receptacle of his vile mind, was hung up before the gates like a sack. He that called himself the Paraclete and professed to know the future, knew not his own flight and capture.
31. This man has had three disciples, Thomas, and Baddas, and Hermas. Let none read the Gospel according to Thomas: for it is the work not of one of the twelve Apostles, but of one of the three wicked disciples of Manes. Let none associate with the soul-destroying Manicheans, who by decoctions of chaff counterfeit the sad look of fasting, who speak evil of the Creator of meats, and greedily devour the daintiest, who teach that the man who plucks up this or that herb is changed into it. For if he who crops herbs or any vegetable is changed into the same, into how many will husbandmen and the tribe of gardeners be changed? The gardener, as we see, has used his sickle against so many: into which then is he changed? Verily their doctrines are ridiculous, and fraught with their own condemnation and shame! The same man, being the shepherd of a flock, both sacrifices a sheep and kills a wolf. Into what then is he changed? Many men both net fishes and lime birds: into which then are they transformed?
32. Let those children of sloth, the Manicheans, make answer; who without labouring themselves eat up the labourers’ fruits: who welcome with smiling faces those who bring them their food, and return curses instead of blessings. For when a simple person brings them anything, “Stand outside a while,” saith he, “and I will bless thee.” Then having taken the bread into his hands (as those who have repented and left them have confessed), “I did not make thee,” says the Manichee to the bread: and sends up curses against the Most High; and curses him that made it, and so eats what was made. If thou hatest the food, why didst thou look with smiling countenance on him that brought it to thee? If thou art thankful to the bringer, why dost thou utter thy blasphemy to God, who created and made it? So again he says, “I sowed thee not: may he be sown who sowed thee! I reaped thee not with a sickle: may he be reaped who reaped thee! I baked thee not with fire: may he be baked who baked thee!” A fine return for the kindness!
33. These are great faults, but still small in comparison with the rest. Their Baptism I dare not describe before men and women. I dare not say what they distribute to their wretched communicants. … Truly we pollute our mouth in speaking of these things. Are the heathen more detestable than these? Are the Samaritans mote wretched? Are Jews more impious? Are fornicators more impure? But the Manichee sets these offerings in the midst of the altar as he considers it. And dost thou, O man, receive instruction from such a mouth? On meeting this man dost thou greet him at all with a kiss? To say nothing of his other impiety, dost thou not flee from the defilement, and from men worse than profligates, more detestable than any prostitute?
34. Of these things the Church admonishes and teaches thee, and touches mire, that thou mayest not be bemired: she tells of the wounds, that thou mayest not be wounded. But for thee it is enough merely to know them: abstain from learning by experience. God thunders, and we all tremble; and they blaspheme. God lightens, and we all bow down to the earth; and they have their blasphemous sayings about the heavens. These things are written in the books of the Manichees. These things we ourselves have read, because we could not believe those who told of them: yes, for the sake of your salvation we have closely inquired into their perdition.
35. But may the Lord deliver us from such delusion: and may there be given to you a hatred against the serpent, that as they lie in wait for the heel, so you may trample on their head. Remember ye what I say. What agreement can there be between our state and theirs? What communion hath light with darkness? What hath the majesty of the Church to do with the abomination of the Manichees? Here is order, here is discipline, here is majesty, here is purity: here even to look upon a woman to lust after her is condemnation. Here is marriage with sanctity, here steadfast continence, here virginity in honour like unto the Angels: here partaking of food with thanksgiving, here gratitude to the Creator of the world. Here the Father of Christ is worshipped here are taught fear and trembling before Him who sends the rain: here we ascribe glory to Him who makes the thunder and the lightning.
36. Make thou thy fold with the sheep: flee from the wolves: depart not from the Church. Hate those also who have ever been suspected in such matters: and unless in time thou perceive their repentance, do not rashly trust thyself among them. The truth of the Unity of God has been delivered to thee: learn to distinguish the pastures of doctrine. Be an approved banker, holding fast that which is good, abstaining from every form of evil. Or if thou hast ever been such as they, recognise and hate thy delusion. For there is a way of salvation, if thou reject the vomit, if thou from thy heart detest it, if thou depart from them, not with thy lips only, but with thy soul also: if thou worship the Father of Christ, the God of the Law and the Prophets, if thou acknowledge the Good and the Just to be one and the same God. And may He preserve you all, guarding you from falling or stumbling, stablished in the Faith, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians iii. 14, 15. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, … of whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named, etc.
1. Of God as the sole Principle we have said enough to you yesterday: by “enough” I mean, not what is worthy of the subject, (for to reach that is utterly impossible to mortal nature), but as much as was granted to our infirmity. I traversed also the bye-paths of the manifold error of the godless heretics: but now let us shake off their foul and soul-poisoning doctrine, and remembering what relates to them, not to our own hurt, but to our greater detestation of them, let us come back to ourselves, and receive the saving doctrines of the true Faith, connecting the dignity of Fatherhood with that of the Unity, and believing in One God the Father: for we must not only believe in one God; but this also let us devoutly receive, that He is the Father of the Only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. For thus shall we raise our thoughts higher than the Jews, who admit indeed by their doctrines that there is One God, (for what if they often denied even this by their idolatries?); but that He is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, they admit not; being of a contrary mind to their own Prophets, who in the Divine Scriptures affirm, The Lord said unto me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee. And to this day they rage and gather themselves together against the Lord, and against His Anointed, thinking that it is possible to be made friends of the Father apart from devotion towards the Son, being ignorant that no man cometh unto the Father but by the Son, who saith, I am the Door, and I am the Way. He therefore that refuseth the Way which leadeth to the Father, and he that denieth the Door, how shall he be deemed worthy of entrance unto God? They contradict also what is written in the eighty-eighth Psalm, He shall call Me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the helper of my salvation. And I will make him my first-born, high among the kings of the earth. For if they should insist that these things are said of David or Solomon or any of their successors, let them shew how the throne of him, who is in their judgment described in the prophecy, is as the days of heaven, and as the sun before God, and as the moan established for ever. And how is it also that they are not abashed at that which is written, From the womb before the morning-star have I begotten thee: also this, He shall endure with the sun, and before the moon, from generation to generation. To refer these passages to a man is a proof of utter and extreme insensibility.
3. Let the Jews, however, since they so will, suffer their usual disorder of unbelief, both in these and the like statements. But let us adopt the godly doctrine of our Faith, worshipping one God the Father of the Christ, (for to deprive Him, who grants to all the gilt of generation, of the like dignity would be impious): and let us Believe in One God the Father, in order that, before we touch upon our teaching concerning Christ, the faith concerning the Only-begotten may be implanted in the soul of the hearers, without being at all interrupted by the intervening doctrines concerning the Father.
4. For the name of the Father, with the very utterance of the title, suggests the thought of the Son: as in like manner one who names the Son thinks straightway of the Father also. For if a Father, He is certainly the Father of a Son; and if a Son, certainly the Son of a Father. Lest therefore from our speaking thus, in One God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, and from our then adding this also, and in One Lord Jesus Christ, any one should irreverently suppose that the Only-begotten is second in rank to heaven and earth,—for this reason before naming them we named God the Father, that in thinking of the Father we might at the same time think also of the Son: for between the Son and the Father no being whatever comes.
5. God then is in an improper sense the Father of many, but by nature and in truth of One only, the Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; not having attained in course of time to being a Father, but being ever the Father of the Only-begotten. Not that being without a Son before, He has since by change of purpose become a Father: but before every substance and every intelligence, before times and all ages, God hath the dignity of Father, magnifying Himself in this more than in His other dignities; and having become a Father, not by passion, or union, not in ignorance, not by effluence, not by diminution, not by alteration, for every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Rather of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow of turning. Perfect Father, He begat a perfect Son, and delivered all things to Him who is begotten: (for all things, He saith, are delivered unto Me of My Father:) and is honoured by the Only-begotten: for, I honour My Father, saith the Son; and again, Even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. Therefore we also say like the Apostle, Blessed be the God and Rather of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Rather of mercies, and God of all consolation: and, We bow our knees unto the Father from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named: glorifying Him with the Only-begotten: for he that denieth the Rather, denieth the Son also: and again, He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also; knowing that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
6. We worship, therefore, as the Father of Christ, the Maker of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to whose honour the former temple also, over against us here, was built. For we shall not tolerate the heretics who sever the Old Testament from the News, but shall believe Christ, who says concerning the temple, Wist ye trot that I must be its My Father’s house? and again, Take these things hence, and make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise, whereby He most clearly confessed that the former temple in Jerusalem was His own Father’s house. But if any one from unbelief wishes to receive yet more proofs as to the Father of Christ being the same as the Maker of the world, let him hear Him say again, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and not one of them shall fall on the ground without My Father which is in heaven; this also, Behold the fowls of the heaven that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them; and this, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
7. But lest any one from simplicity or perverse ingenuity should suppose that Christ is but equal in honour to righteous men, from His saying, I ascend to My Father, and your Father, it is well to make this distinction beforehand, that the name of the Father is one, but the power of His operation manifold. And Christ Himself knowing this has spoken unerringly, I go to My Father, and your Father: not saying ‘to our Father,’ but distinguishing, and saying first what was proper to Himself, to My Father, which was by nature; then adding, and your Father, which was by adoption. For however high the privilege we have received of saying in our prayers, Our Father, which art in heaven, yet the gift is of loving- kindness. For we call Him Father, not as having been by nature begotten of Our Father which is in heaven; but having been transferred from servitude to sonship by the grace of the Father, through the Son and Holy Spirit, we are permitted so to speak by ineffable loving-kindness.
8. But if any one wishes to learn how we call God “Father,” let him hear Moses, the excellent schoolmaster, saying, Did not this thy Father Himself buy thee, and make thee, and create thee? Also Esaias the Prophet, And now, O Lord. Thou art our Father: and we all are clay, the works of Thine hands. For most clearly has the prophetic gift declared that not according to nature, but according to God’s grace, and by adoption, we call Him Father.
9. And that thou mayest learn more exactly that in the Divine Scriptures it is not by any means the natural father only that is called father, hear what Paul says:—For though ye should have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the Gospel. For Paul was father of the Corinthians, not by having begotten them after the flesh, but by having taught and begotten them again after the Spirit. Hear Job also saying, I was a father of the needy: for he called himself a father, not as having begotten them all, but as caring for them. And God’s Only-begotten Son Himself, when nailed in His flesh to the tree at the time of crucifixion, on seeing Mary, His own Mother according to the flesh, and John, the most beloved of His disciples, said to him, Behold! thy mother, and to her, Behold! thy Son: teaching her the parental affection due to him, and indirectly explaining that which is said in Luke, and His father and His mother marvelled at Him: words which the tribe of heretics snatch up, saying that He was begotten of a man and a woman. For like as Mary was called the mother of John, because of her parental affection, not from having given him birth, so Joseph also was called the father of Christ, not from having begotten Him (for he knew her not, as the Gospel says, until she had brought forth her first-born Son), but because of the care bestowed on His nurture.
10 Thus much then at present, in the way of a digression, to put you in remembrance. Let me, however, add yet another testimony in proof that God is called the Father of men in an improper sense. For when in Esaias God is addressed thus, For Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Sarah travailed not with us, need we inquire further on this point? And if the Psalmist says, Let them be troubled from His countenance, the Father of the fatherless, and Judge of the widows, is it not manifest to all, that when God is called the Father of orphans who have lately lost their own fathers, He is so named not as begetting them of Himself, but as caring for them and shielding them. But whereas God, as we have said, is in an improper sense the Father of men, of Christ alone He is the Father by nature, not by adoption: and the Father of men in time, but of Christ before all time, as He saith, And new, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
11. We believe then in one God the Father the Unsearchable and Ineffable, Whom no man hath seen, but the Only-begotten alone hath declared Him. For He which is of God, He hath seen God: whose face the Angels do alway behold in heaven, behold, however, each according to the measure of his own rank. But the undimmed vision of the Father is reserved in its purity for the Son with the Holy Ghost.
12. Having reached this point of my discourse, and being reminded of the passages just before mentioned, in which God was addressed as the Father of men, I am greatly amazed at men’s insensibility. For God with unspeakable loving-kindness deigned to be called the Father of men,—He in heaven, they on earth,—and He the Maker of Eternity, they made in time,— He who holdeth the earth in the hollow of His hand, they upon the earth as grasshoppers. Yet man forsook his heavenly Father, and said to the stock, Thou art my father, and to the stone, Thou hast begotten me. And for this reason, methinks, the Psalmist says to mankind, Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house, whom thou hast chosen for a father, whom thou hast drawn upon thyself to thy destruction.
13. And not only stocks and stones, but even Satan himself, the destroyer of souls, have some ere now chosen for a father; to whom the Lord said as a rebuke, Ye do the deeds of your father, that is of the devil, he being the father of men not by nature, but by fraud.
For like as Paul by his godly teaching came to be called the father of the Corinthians, so the devil is called the father of those who of their own will consent unto him.
For we shall not tolerate those who give a wrong meaning to that saying, Hereby know we the children of God, and the children of the devil, as if there were by nature some men to be saved, and some to be lost. Whereas we come into such holy sonship not of necessity but by choice: nor was the traitor Judas by nature a son of the devil and of perdition for certainly he would never have cast out devils at all in the name of Christ: for Satan casteth not out Satan. Nor on the other hand would Paul have turned from persecuting to preaching. But the adoption is in our own power, as John saith, But as marry as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe in His name. For not before their believing, but from their believing they were counted worthy to become of their own choice the children of God.
14. Knowing this, therefore, let us walk spiritually, that we may be counted worthy of God’s adoption. Far as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For it profiteth us nothing to have gained the title of Christians, unless the works also follow; lest to us also it be said, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works ham. Far if we call on Him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, let us pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, loving not the world, neither the things that are in the world: for any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Wherefore, my beloved children, let us by our works offer glory to our Father which is in heaven, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is heaven. Let us cast all our care upon Him, for our Father knoweth what things we have need of.
15. But while honouring our heavenly Father let us honour also the fathers of our flesh: since the Lord Himself hath evidently so appointed in the Law and the Prophets, saying, Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thy days shall be long in the land. And let this commandment be especially observed by those here present who have fathers and mothers. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord. For the Lord said not, He that loveth father or mother is not worthy of Me, lest thou from ignorance shouldest perversely mistake what was rightly written, but He added, more than Me. For when our fathers on earth are of a contrary mind to our Father in heaven, then we must obey Christ’s word. But when they put no obstacle to godliness in our way, if we are ever carried away by ingratitude, and, forgetting their benefits to us, hold them in contempt, then the oracle will have place which says, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
16. The first virtue of godliness in Christians is to honour their parents, to requite the troubles of those who begot them, and with all their might to confer on them what tends to their comfort (for if we should repay them ever so much, yet we shall never be able to return their gift of life), that they also may enjoy the comfort provided by us, and may confirm us in those blessings which Jacob the supplanter shrewdly seized; and that our Father in heaven may accept our good purpose, and judge us worthy to shine amid righteous as the sun in the kingdom of our Father: To whom be the glory, with the Only-begotten our Saviour Jesus Christ, and with the Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever, to all eternity. Amen.
JEREMIAH xxxix. 18, 19 (Septuagint). The Great, the strong God, Lord of great Counsel, and mighty in His works, the Great God, the Lord Almighty and of great name.
1. By believing in One God we cut off all misbelief in many gods, using this as a shield against Greeks; and every opposing power of heretics; and by adding, in One God The Father, we contend against those of the circumcision, who deny the Only begotten Son of God. For, as was said yesterday, even before explaining the truths concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, we made it manifest at once, by saying “The Father,” that He is the Father of a Son: that as we understand that God is, so we may understand that He has a Son. But to those titles we add that He is also “Almighty;” and this we affirm because of Greeks and Jews together, and all heretics.
2. For of the Greeks some have said that God is the soul of the world: and others that His power reaches only to heaven, and not to earth as well, Some also sharing their error and misusing the text which says, “And Thy truth unto the clouds,” have dared to circumscribe God’s providence by the clouds and the heaven, and to alienate from God the things on earth; having forgotten the Psalm which says, If I go up into heaven, Thou art there. if I go down into hell, Thou art present. For if there is nothing higher than heaven, and if hell is deeper than the earth, He who rules the lower regions reaches the earth also.
3. But heretics again, as I have said before, know not One Almighty God. For He is Almighty who rules all things, who has power over all things. But they who say that one God is Lord of the soul, and some other of the body, make neither of them perfect, because either is wanting to the other. For how is he almighty, who has power over the soul, but not over the body? And how is he almighty who has dominion over bodies, but no power over spirits? But these men the Lord confutes, saying on the contrary, Rather fear ye Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. For unless the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has the power over both, how does He subject both to punishment? For how shall He be able to take the body which is another’s and cast it into hell, except He first bind the strong man, and spoil his goods?
4. But the Divine Scripture and the doctrines of the truth know but One God, who rules all things by His power, but endures many things of His will. For He rules even over the idolaters, but endures them of His forbearance: He rules also over the heretics who set Him at nought, but bears with them because of His long-suffering: He rules even over the devil, but bears with him of His long-suffering, not from want of power; as if defeated. For he is the beginning of the Lord’s creation, made to be mocked, not by Himself, for that were unworthy of Him, but by the Angels whom He hath made. But He suffered him to live, for two purposes, that he might disgrace himself the more in his defeat, and that mankind might be crowned with victory. O all wise providence of God! which takes the wicked purpose for a groundwork of salvation for the faithful. For as He took the unbrotherly purpose of Joseph’s brethren for a groundwork of His own dispensation, and, by permitting them to sell their brother from hatred, took occasion to make him king whom He would; so he permitted the devil to wrestle, that the victors might be crowned; and that when victory was gained, he might be the more disgraced as being conquered by the weaker, and men be greatly honoured as having conquered him who was once an Archangel.
5. Nothing then is withdrawn from the power of God; for the Scripture says of Him, for all things are Thy servants(. All things alike are His servants, but from all these One, His only Son, and One, His Holy Spirit, are excepted; and all the things which are His servants serve the Lord through the One Son and in the Holy Spirit. God then rules all, and of His long-suffering endures even murderers and robbers and fornicators, having appointed a set time for recompensing every one, that if they who have had long warning are still impenitent in heart, they may receive the greater condemnation. They are kings of men, who reign upon earth, but not without the power from above: and this Nebuchadnezzar once learned by experience, when he said; For His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His power from generation to generation.
6. Riches, and gold, and silver are not, as some think, the devil’s: for the whole world of riches is for the faithful man, but for the faithless not even a penny. Now nothing is more faithless than the devil; and God says plainly by the Prophet, The gold is Mine, and the silver is Mine, and to whomsoever I will I give it. Do thou but use it well, and there is no fault to be found with money: but whenever thou hast made a bad use of that which is good, then being unwilling to blame thine own management, thou impiously throwest back the blame upon the Creator. A man may even be justified by money: I was hungry, and ye gave Me meat: that certainly was from money. I was naked, and ye clothed Me: that certainly was by money. And wouldest thou learn that money may become a door of the kingdom of heaven? Sell, saith He, that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.
7. Now I have made these remarks because of those heretics who count possessions, and money, and men’s bodies accursed. For I neither wish thee to be a slave of money, nor to treat as enemies the things which God has given thee for use. Never say then that riches are the devil’s: for though he say, All these will I give thee, for they are delivered unto me, one may indeed even reject his assertion; for we need not believe the liar: and yet perhaps he spoke the truth, being compelled by the power of His presence: for he said not, All these will I give thee, for they are mine, but, for they are delivered unto me. He grasped not the dominion of them, but confessed that he had been entrusted with them, and was for a time dispensing them. But at a proper time interpreters should inquire whether his statement is false or true.
8. God then is One, the Father, the Almighty, whom the brood of heretics have dared to blaspheme. Yea, they, have dared to blaspheme the Lord of Sabaoth, who sitteth above the Cherubim: they have dared to blaspheme the Lord Adonai: they have dared to blaspheme Him who is in the Prophets the Almighty God. But worship thou One God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Flee from the error of many gods, flee also from every heresy, and say like Job, But I will call upon the Almighty Lord, which doeth great things and unsearchable, glorious things and marvellous without number, and, For all these things there is honour from the Almighty: to Whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
ON THE WORDS, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, AND OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.
JOB xxxviii. 2—3. Who is this that hideth counsel from Me, and keepeth words in his heart, and thinketh to hide them from Me?
1. To look upon God with eyes of flesh is impossible: for the incorporeal cannot be subject to bodily sight: and the Only begotten Son of God Himself hath testified, saying, No man hath seen God at any time. For if according to that which is written in Ezekiel any one should understand that Ezekiel saw Him, yet what saith the Scripture? He saw the likeness of the glory of the Lord; not the Lord Himself, but the likeness of His glory, not the glory itself, as it really is. And when he saw merely the likeness of the glory, and not the glory itself, he fell to the earth from fear. Now if the sight of the likeness of the glory brought fear and distress upon the prophets, any one who should attempt to behold God Himself would to a certainty lose his life, according to the saying, No man shall see My face and live. For this cause God of His great loving- kindness spread out the heaven as a veil of His proper Godhead, that we should not perish. The word is not mine, but the Prophet’s. If Thou shalt rend the heavens, trembling will take hold of the mountains at sight of Thee, and they will flaw down. And why dost thou wonder that Ezekiel fell down on seeing the likeness of the glory? when Daniel at the sight of Gabriel, though but a servant of God, straightway shuddered and fell on his face, and, prophet as he was, dared not answer him, until the Angel transformed himself into the likeness of a son of man. Now if the appearing of Gabriel wrought trembling in the Prophets, had God Himself been seen as He is, would not all have perished?
2. The Divine Nature then it is impossible to see with eyes of flesh: but from the works, which are Divine, it is possible to attain to some conception of His power, according to Solomon, who says, For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the Maker of them is seen. He said not that from the creatures the Maker is seen, but added proportionably. For God appears the greater to every man in proportion as he has grasped a larger survey of the creatures: and when his heart is uplifted by that larger survey, he gains withal a greater conception of God.
3. Wouldest thou learn that to comprehend the nature of God is impossible? The Three Children in the furnace of fire, as they hymn the praises of God, say Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the Cherubim. Tell me what is the nature of the Cherubim, and then look upon Him who sitteth upon them. And yet Ezekiel the Prophet even made a description of them, as far as was possible, saying that every one has four faces, one of a man, another of a lion, another of an eagle, and another of a calf; and that each one had six wings, and they had eyes on all sides; and that under each one was a wheel of four sides. Nevertheless though the Prophet makes the explanation, we cannot yet understand it even as we read. But if we cannot understand the throne, which he has described, how shall we be able to comprehend Him who sitteth thereon, the Invisible and Ineffable God? To scrutinise then the nature of God is impossible: but it is in our power to send up praises of His glory for His works that are seen.
4. These things I say to you because of the following context of the Creed, and because we say, WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, AND OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE; in order that we may remember that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the same as He that made the heaven and the earth, and that we may make ourselves safe against the wrong paths of the godless heretics, who have dared to speak evil of the All wise Artificer of all this world, men who see with eyes of flesh, but have the eyes of their understanding blinded.
5. For what fault have they to find with the vast creation of God?— they, who ought to have been struck with amazement on beholding the vaultings of the heavens: they, who ought to have worshipped Him who reared the sky as a dome, who out of the fluid nature of the waters formed the stable substance of the heaven. For God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water. God spake once for all, and it stands fast, and falls not. The heaven is water, and the orbs therein, sun, moon, and stars are of fire: and how do the orbs of fire run their course in the water? But if any one disputes this because of the opposite natures of fire and water, let him remember the fire which in the time of Moses in Egypt flamed amid the hail, and observe the all-wise workmanship of God. For since there was need of water, because the earth was to be tilled, He made the heaven above of water that when the region of the earth should need watering by showers, the heaven might from its nature be ready for this purpose.
6. But what? Is there not cause to wonder when one looks at the constitution of the sun? For being to the sight as it were a small body he contains a mighty power; appearing from the East, and sending forth his light unto the West: whose rising at dawn the Psalmist described, saying: And he cometh forth out of his chamber as a bridegroom. He was describing the brightness and moderation of his state on first becoming visible unto men: for when he rides at high noon, we often flee from his blaze: but at his rising he is welcome to all as a bridegroom to look on.
Observe also his arrangement (or rather not his, but the arrangement of Him who by an ordinance determined his course), how in summer he rises higher and makes the days longer, giving men good time for their works: but in winter contracts his course, that the period of cold may be increased, and that the nights becoming longer may contribute to men’s rest, and contribute also to the fruitfulness of the products of the earth. See also how the days alternately respond each to other in due order, in summer increasing, and in winter diminishing; but in spring and autumn granting equal intervals one to another. And the nights again complete the like courses; so that the Psalmist also says of them, Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night claimeth knowledge. For to the heretics who have no ears, they all but cry aloud, and by their good order say, that there is none other God save the Creator who hath set them their bounds, and laid out the order of the Universe
7. But let no one tolerate any who say that one is the Creator of the light, and another of darkness: for let him remember how Isaiah says, I am the God who made the light, and created darkness. Why, O man, art thou vexed thereat? Why art thou offended at the time that is given thee for rest? A servant would have had no rest from his masters, had not the darkness necessarily brought a respite. And often after wearying ourselves in the day, how are we refreshed in the night, and he who was yesterday worn with toils, rises vigorous in the morning because of the night’s rest? And what more helpful to wisdom than the night? For herein oftentimes we set before our minds the things of God; and herein we read and contemplate the Divine Oracles. And when is our mind most attuned to Psalmody and Prayer? Is it not at night? And when have we often called our own sins to remembrance? Is not at night? Let us not then admit the evil thought, that another is the maker of darkness: for experience shews that this also is good and useful.
8. They ought to have felt astonishment and admiration not only at the arrangement of sun and moon, but also at the well-ordered choirs of the stars, their unimpeded courses, and their risings in the seasons due to each: and how some are signs of summer, and others of winter; and how some mark the season for sowing, and others shew the commencement of navigation. And a than sitting in his ship, and sailing amid the boundless waves, steers his ship by looking at the stars. For of these matters the Scripture says well, And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for years, not for fables of astrology and nativities. But observe how He has also graciously given us the light of day by gradual increase: for we do not see the sun at once arise; but just a little light runs on before, in order that the pupil of the eye may be enabled by previous trial to look upon his stronger beam: see also how He has relieved the darkness of the night by rays of moonlight.
9. Who is the father of the rain? And who hath begotten the drops of dew? Who condensed the air into clouds, and bade them carry the waters of the rains, now bringing golden-tinted clouds from the north, now changing these into one uniform appearance, and again transforming them into manifold circles and other shapes? Who can number the clouds in wisdom? Whereof in Job it saith, And He knoweth the separations of the clouds, and hath bent down the heaven to the earth: and, He who numbereth the clouds in wisdom: and, the cloud is not rent under Him. For so many measures of waters lie upon the clouds, yet they are not rent: but come down with all good order upon the earth. Who bringeth the winds out of their treasuries? And who, as we said before, is he that hath begotten the drops of dew? And out of whose womb cometh the ice? For its substance is like water, and its strength like stone. And at one time the water becomes snow like wool, at another it ministers to Him who scattereth the mist like ashes, and at another it is changed into a stony substance; since He governs the waters as He will. Its nature is uniform, and its action manifold in force. Water becomes in vines wine that maketh glad the heart of man: and in olives oil that maketh man’s face to shine: and is transformed also into bread that strengtheneth man’s heart, and into fruits of all kinds which He hath created.
10. What should have been the effect of these wonders? Should the Creator have been blasphemed? Or worshipped rather? And so far I have said noticing of the unseen works of His wisdom. Observe, I pray you, the spring, and the flowers of every kind in all their likeness still diverse one from another; the deepest crimson of the rose, and the purest whiteness of the lily: for these spring from the same rain and the same earth, and who makes them to differ? Who fashions them? Observe, pray, the exact care: from the one substance of the tree there is part for shelter, and part for divers fruits: and the Artificer is One. Of the same vine part is for burning, and part for shoots, and part for leaves, and part for tendrils, and part for clusters.
Admire also the great thickness of the knots which run round the reed, as the Artificer hath made them. From one and the same earth come forth creeping things, and wild beasts, and cattle, and trees, and food; and god, and silver, and brass, and iron, and stone. The nature of the waters is but one, yet from it comes the substance of fishes and of birds; whereby as the former swim in the waters, so the birds fly in the air.
11. This great and wide sea, therein are things creeping innumerable. Who can describe the beauty of the fishes that are therein? Who can describe the greatness of the whales, and the nature of its amphibious animals, how they live both on dry land and in the waters? Who can tell the depth and the breadth of the sea, or the force of its enormous waves? Yet it stays at its bounds, because of Him who said, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further, but within thyself shall thy waves be broken. Which sea also clearly shews the word of the command imposed upon it, since after it has run up, it leaves upon the beach a visible line made by the waves, shewing, as it were, to those who see it, that it has not passed its appointed bounds.
12. Who can discern the nature of the birds of the air? How some carry with them a voice of melody, and others are variegated with all manner of painting on their wings, and others fly up into mid air and float motionless, as the hawk: for by the Divine command the hawk spreadeth out his wings and floateth motionless, looking towards the south. What man can behold the eagle’s lofty flight? If then thou canst not discern the soaring of the most senseless of the birds, how wouldest thou understand the Maker of all?
13. Who among men knows even the names of all wild beasts? Or who can accurately discern the physiology of each? But if of the wild beasts we know not even the mere names, how shall we comprehend the Maker of them? God’s command was but one, which said, Let the earth bring forth wild beasts, and cattle, and creeping things, after their hinds and from one earth, by one command, have sprung diverse natures, the gentle sheep and the carnivorous lion, and various instincts of irrational animals, bearing resemblance to the various characters of men; the fox to manifest the craft that is in men, and the snake the venomous treachery of friends, and the neighing horse the wantonness of young men, and the laborious ant, to arouse the sluggish and the dull: for when a man passes his youth in idleness, then he is instructed by the irrational animals, being reproved by the divine Scripture saying, Go to the ant, thou sluggard, see and emulate her ways, and become wiser than she. For when thou seest her treasuring up her food in good season, imitate her, and treasure up for thyself fruits of good works for the world to come. And again, Go to the bee, and learn how industrious she is: how, hovering round all kinds of flowers, she collects her honey for thy benefit: that thou also, by ranging over the Holy Scriptures, mayest lay hold of salvation for thyself, and being filled with them mayest say, How sweet are thy words unto my throat, yea sweeter than honey and the honeycomb unto my mouth.
14. Is not then the Artificer worthy the rather to be glorified? For what? If thou knowest not the nature of all things, do the things that have been made forthwith become useless? Canst thou know the efficacy of all herbs? Or canst thou learn all the benefit which proceeds from every animal? Ere now even from venomous adders have come antidotes for the preservation of men. But thou wilt say to me, “The snake is terrible.” Fear thou the Lord, and it shall not be able to hurt thee. “A scorpion stings.” Fear the Lord, and it shall not sting thee. “A lion is bloodthirsty.” Fear thou the Lord, and he shall lie down beside thee, as by Daniel. But truly wonderful also is the action of the animals: how some, as the scorpion, have the sharpness in a sting; and others have their power in their teeth; and others do battle with their claws; while the basilisk’s power is his gaze. So then from this varied workmanship understand the Creator’s power.
15. But these things perhaps thou knowest not: thou wouldest have nothing in common with the creatures which are without thee. Enter now into thyself, and from thine own nature consider its Artificer. What is there to find fault with in the framing of thy body? Be master of thyself, and nothing evil shall proceed from any of they members. Adam was at first without clothing in Paradise with Eve, but it was not because of his members that he deserved to be cast out. The members then are not the cause of sin, but they who use their members amiss; and the Maker thereof is wise. Who prepared the recesses of the womb child-bearing? Who gave life to the lifeless thing within it? Who knitted us with sinews and banes, and clothed us with skin and flesh, and, as soon as the child was born, brought streams of milk out of the breasts? How grows the babe into a boy, and the boy into a youth, and then into a man; and, still the same, passes again into an old man, while no one notices the exact change from day to day? Of the food, how is one part changed into blood, and another separated for excretion, and another part changed into flesh? Who gives to the heart its unceasing motion? Who wisely guarded the tenderness of the eyes with the fence of the eyelids? For as to the complicated and wonderful contrivance of the eyes, the voluminous books of the physicians hardly give us explanation. Who distributes the one breath to the whole body? Thou seest, O man, the Artificer, thou seest the wise Creator.
16. These points my discourse has now treated at large, having left out many, yea, ten thousand other things, and especially things incorporeal and invisible, that thou mayest abhor those who blaspheme the wise and good Artificer, and from what is spoken and read, and whatever thou canst thyself discover or conceive, from the greatness and beauty of the creatures mayest proportionably see the maker of them, and bending the knee with godly reverence to the Maker of the worlds, the worlds, I mean, of sense and thought, both visible and invisible, thou mayest with a grateful and holy tongue, with unwearied lips and heart, praise God and say, How wonderful are Thy works, O Lord; in wisdom hast Thou made them all. For to Thee belongeth honour, and glory, and majesty, both now and throughout all ages. Amen.
APPENDIX TO LECTURE IX.
NOTE.—In the manuscripts which contain this discourse under the name of “A Homily of S. Basil on God as Incomprehensible,” some portions are changed to suit that subject: but the conclusion especially is marked by great addition and variation, which it is well to reproduce here. Accordingly in place of the words in 15: ti mempton, “What is there to find fault with?” and the following, the manuscripts before mentioned have it thus:
“What is there to find fault with in the framing of the body? Come forth into the midst and speak. Control thine own will, and nothing evil shall proceed from any of thy members. For every one of these has of necessity been made for our use. Chasten thy reasoning unto piety, submit to God’s commandments, and none of these members sin in working and serving in the uses for which they were made. If thou be not willing, the eye sees not amiss, the, ear hears nothing which it ought not, the hand is not stretched out for wicked greed, the foot walketh not towards injustice, thou hast no strange loves, committest no fornication, covetest not thy neighbour’s wife. Drive out wicked thoughts from thine heart, be as God made thee, and thou wilt rather give thanks to thy Creator.
Adam at first was without clothing, faring daintily in Paradise: and after he had received the commandment, but failed to keep it, and wickedly stretched forth his hand (not because the hand wished this, but because his will stretched forth his hand to that which was forbidden), because of his disobedience he lost also the good things he had received. Thus the members are not the cause of sin to those who use them, but the wicked mind, as the Lord says, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, fornications, adulteries, envyings, and such like. In what things thou choosest, therein thy limbs serve thee; they are excellently made for the service of the soul: they are provided as servants to thy reason. Guide them well by the motion of piety; bridle them by the fear of God; bring them into subjection to the desire of temperance and abstinence, and they will never rise up against thee to tyrannise over thee; but rather they will guard thee, and help thee more mightily in thy victory over the devil, while expecting also the incorruptible and everlasting crown of the victory. Who openeth the chambers of the womb? Who, &c.”
At the end of the same section, after the words “Wise Creator,” this is found: “Glorify Him in His unsearchable works, and concerning Him whom thou art not capable of knowing inquire not curiously what His essence is. It is better for thee to keep silence, and in faith adore, according to the divine Word, than daringly to search after things which neither thou canst reach, nor Holy Scripture hath delivered to thee. These points my discourse has now treated at large, that thou mayest abhor those who blaspheme the wise and good Artificer, and rather mayest thyself also say, How wonderful are Thy works O Lord; in wisdom hast Thou made them all. To Thee be the glory, and power, and worship, with the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.”
ON THE CLAUSE, AND IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, WITH A READING FROM THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; yet to us there is One God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.
1. THEY who have been taught to believe “IN ONE GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY,” ought also to believe in His Only-begotten Son. For he that denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. I am the Door, saith Jesus; no one cometh unto the Father but through Me. For if thou deny the Door, the knowledge concerning the Father is shut off from thee. No man knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him. For if thou deny Him who reveals, thou remainest in ignorance. There is a sentence in the Gospels, saying, He that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him For the Father hath indignation when the Only-begotten Son is set at nought. For it is grievous to a king that merely his soldier should be dishonoured; and when one of his nobler officers or friends is dishonoured, then his anger is greatly increased: but if any should do despite to the king’s only-begotten son himself, who shall appease the father’s indignation on behalf of his only-begotten son?
2. If, therefore, any one wishes to shew piety towards God, let him worship the Son, since otherwise the Father accepts not his service. The Father spoke with a loud voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. The Father was well pleased; unless thou also be well pleased in Him, thou hast not life. Be not thou carried away with the Jews when they craftily say, There is one God alone; but with the knowledge that God is One, know that there is also an Only-begotten Son of God. I am not the first to say this, but the Psalmist in the person of the Son saith, The Lord said unto Me, Thou art My Son. Heed not therefore what the Jews say, but what the Prophets say. Dost thou wonder that they who stoned and slew the Prophets, set at naught the Prophets’ words?
3. Believe thou IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. For we say “One Lord Jesus Christ,” that His Son-ship may be “Only- begotten:” we say “One,” that thou mayest not suppose another: we say “One,” that thou mayest not profanely diffuse the many names of His action among many sons. For He is called a Door; but take not the name literally for a thing of wood, but a spiritual, a living Door, discriminating those who enter in. He is called a Way, not one trodden by feet, but leading to the Father in heaven; He is called a Sheep, not an irrational one, but the one which through its precious blood cleanses the world from its sins, which is led before the shearers, and knows when to be silent. This Sheep again is called a Shepherd, who says, I am the Good Shepherd: a Sheep because of His manhood, a Shepherd because of the loving-kindness of His Godhead. And wouldst thou know that there are rational sheep? the Saviour says to the Apostles, Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Again, He is called a Lion, not as a devourer of men, but indicating as it were by the title His kingly, and stedfast, and confident nature: a Lion He is also called in opposition to the lion our adversary, who roars and devours those who have been deceived. For the Saviour came, not as having changed the gentleness of His own nature, but as the strong Lion of the tribe of Judah, saving them that believe, but treading down the adversary. He is called a Stone, not a lifeless stone, cut out by men’s hands, but a chief corner-stone, on whom whosoever believeth shall not be put to shame.
4. He is called CHRIST, not as having been anointed by men’s hands, but eternally anointed by the Father to His High-Priesthood: on behalf of men.
He is collect Dead, not as having abode among the dead, as all in Hades, but as being alone free among the dead. He is called Son of Man, not as having had His generation from earth, as each of us, but as coming upon the clouds TO JUDGE BOTH QUICK AND DEAD. He is called LORD, not improperly as those who are so called among men, but as having a natural and eternal Lordship. He is called JESUS by a fitting name, as having the appellation from His salutary healing. He is called Son, not as advanced by adoption, but as naturally begotten. And many are the titles of our Saviour; lest, therefore, His manifold appellations should make thee think of many sons, and because of the errors of the heretics, who say that Christ is one, and Jesus another, and the Door another, and so on, the Faith secures thee beforehand, saying well, IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST: for though the titles are many, yet their subject is one.
5. But the Saviour comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who have need of gladness He becomes a Vine; and to those who want to enter in He stands as a Door; and to those who need to offer up their prayers He stands a mediating High Priest. Again, to those who have sins He becomes a Sheep, that He may be sacrificed for them. He is made all things to all men, remaining in His own nature what He is. For so remaining, and holding the dignity of His Sonship in reality unchangeable, He adapts Himself to our infirmities, just as some excellent physician or compassionate teacher; though He is Very Lord, and received not the Lordship by advancement, but has the dignity of His Lordship from nature, and is not called Lord improperly, as we are, but is so in verity, since by the Father’s bidding He is Lord of His own works. For our lordship is over men of equal rights and like passions, nay often over our elders, and often a young master rules over aged servants. But in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lordship is not so: but He is first Maker, then Lord: first He made all things by the Father’s will, then, He is Lord of the things which were made by Him.
6. Christ the Lord is He who was barn in the city of David. And wouldest thou know that Christ is Lord with the Father even before His Incarnation, that thou mayest not only accept the statement by faith, but mayest also receive proof from the Old Testament? Go to the first book, Genesis: God saith, Let us make man, not ‘in My image,’ but, in Our image. And after Adam was made, the sacred writer says, And God created man; in the image of God created He him. For he did not limit the dignity of the Godhead to the Father alone, but included the Son also: that it might be shewn that man is not only the work of God, but also of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself also Very God. This Lord, who works together with the Father, wrought with Him also in the case of Sodom, according to the Scripture: And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven. This Lord is He who afterwards was seen of Moses, as much as he was able to see. For the Lord is loving unto man, ever condescending to our infirmities.
7. Moreover, that you may be sure that this is He who was seen of Moses, hear Paul’s testimony, when he says, For they all drank of a spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was Christ. And again: By faith Moses forsook Egypt, and shortly after he says, accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. This Moses says to Him, Shew me Thyself. Thou seest that the Prophets also in those times saw the Christ, that is, as far as each was able. Shew me Thyself, that I may see Thee with understanding. But He saith, There shall no man see My face, and live. For this reason then, because no man could see the face of the Godhead and live, He took on Him the face of human nature, that we might see this and live. And yet when He wished to shew even that with a little majesty, when His face did shine as the sun, the disciples fell down affrighted. If then His bodily countenance, shining not in the full power of Him that wrought, but according to the capacity of the Disciples, affrighted them, so that even thus they could not bear it, how could any man gaze upon the majesty of the Godhead? ‘A great thing,’ saith the Lord, ‘thou desirest, O Moses: and I approve thine insatiable desire, and I will do this things for thee, but according as thou art able. Behold, I will put thee in the clift of the rock: for as being little, thou shall lodge in a little space.’
8. Now here I wish you to make safe what I am going to say, because of the Jews. For our object is to prove that the Lord Jesus Christ was with the Father. The LORD then says to Moses, I will pass by before thee with My glory, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee. Being Himself the LORD, what LORD doth He proclaim? Thou seest how He was covertly teaching the godly doctrine of the Father and the Son. And again, in what follows it is written word for word: And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, both keeping righteousness and shewing mercy unto thousands, taking away iniquities, and transgressions, and sins. Then in what follows, Moses bowed his head and worshipped before the Lord who proclaimed the Father, and said: Go Thou then, O Lord, in the midst of us.
9. This is the first proof: receive now a second plain one. The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand. The LORD says this to the Lord, not to a servant, but to the Lord of all, and His own Son, to whom He put all things in subjection. But when He saith that all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him, and what follows; that God may be all in all. The Only- begotten Son is Lord of all, but the obedient Son of the Father, for He grasped not the Lordship, but received it by nature of the Father’s own will. For neither did the Son grasp it, nor the Father grudge to impart it. He it is who saith, AlI things are delivered unto Me of My Father; “delivered unto Me, not as though I had them not before; and I keep them well, not robbing Him who hath given them.”
10. The Son of God then is Lord: He is Lord, who was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, according to the Angel who said to the shepherds, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that unto you is barn this day in the city of David Christ the Lord: of whom an Apostle says elsewhere, The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching the gospel of peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all. But when he says, of all, do thou except nothing from His Lordship: for whether Angels, or Archangels, or principalities, or powers, or any created thing named by the Apostles, all are under the Lordship of the Son. Of Angels He is Lord, as thou hast it in the Gospels, Then the Devil departed from Him, and the Angels came and ministered unto Him; for the Scripture saith not, they succoured Him, but they ministered unto Him, that is, like servants. When He was about to be born of a Virgin, Gabriel was then His servant, having received His service as a peculiar dignity. When He was about to go into Egypt, that He might overthrow the gods of Egypt made with hands, again an Angel appeareth to Joseph in a dream. After He had been crucified, and had risen again, an Angel brought the good tidings, and as a trustworthy servant said to the women, Go, tell His disciples that He is risen, and goeth before you into Galilee; lo, I have told you: almost as if he had said, “I have not neglected my command, I protest that I have told you; that if ye disregard it, the blame may not be on me, but on those who disregard it.” This then is the One Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the lesson just now read speaks: For though there be many that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, and so on, yet to us there is One God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and One Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.
11. And He is called by two names, Jesus Christ; Jesus, because He saves,—Christ, because He is a Priest. And knowing this the inspired Prophet Moses conferred these two titles on two men distinguished above all: his own successor in the government, Auses, he renamed Jesus; and his own brother Aaron he surnamed Christ, that by two well-approved men he might represent at once both the High Priesthood, and the Kingship of the One Jesus Christ who was to come. For Christ is a High Priest like Aaron; since He glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest, but He that spake unto Him, Than art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. And Jesus the son of Nave was in many things a type of Him. For when he began to rule over the people, he began from Jordan, whence Christ also, after He was baptized, began to preach the gospel. And the son of Nave appoints twelve to divide the inheritance’; and twelve Apostles Jesus sends forth, as heralds of the truth, into all the world. The typical Jesus saved Rahab the harlot when she believed: and the true Jesus says, Behold, the publicans and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. With only a shout the walls of Jericho fell down in the time of the type: and because Jesus said, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, the Temple of the Jews opposite to us is fallen, the cause of its fall not being the denunciation but the sin of the transgressors.
12. There is One Lord Jesus Christ, a wondrous name, indirectly announced beforehand by the Prophets. For Esaias the Prophet says, Behold, thy Saviour cometh, having His own reward. Now Jesus in Hebrew is by interpretation Saviour. For the Prophetic gift, foreseeing the murderous spirit of the Jews against their Lord, veiled His name, lest from knowing it plainly beforehand they might plot against Him readily. But He was openly called Jesus not by men, but by an Angel, who came not by his own authority, but was sent by the power of God, and said to Joseph, Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived, in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. And immediately he renders the reason of this name, saying, for He shall save His people from their sins. Consider how He who was not yet born could have a people, unless He was in being before He was born. This also the Prophet says in His person, From the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of My name; because the Angel foretold that He should be called Jesus. And again concerning Herod’s plot again he says, And under the shadow of His hand hath He hid Me.
13. Jesus then means according to the Hebrew “Saviour,” but in the Greek tongue “The Healer;” since He is physician of souls and bodies, curer of spirits, curing the blind in body, and leading minds into light, healing the visibly lame, and guiding sinners’ steps to repentance, saying to the palsied, Sin no more, and, Take up thy bed and walk. For since the body was palsied for the sin of the soul, He ministered first to the soul that He might extend the healing to the body. If, therefore, any one is suffering in soul from sins, there is the Physician for him: and if any one here is of little faith, let him say to Him, Help Thou mine unbelief. If any is encompassed also with bodily ailments, let him not be faithless, but let him draw nigh; for to such diseases also Jesus ministers, and let him learn that Jesus is the Christ.
14. For that He is Jesus the Jews allow, but not further that He is Christ. Therefore saith the Apostle, Who is the liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? But Christ is a High Priest, whose priesthood passes not to another, neither having begun His Priesthood in time, nor having any successor in His High-Priesthood: as thou heardest on the Lord’s day, when we were discoursing in the congregation on the phrase, After the Order of Melchizedek. He received not the High-Priesthood from bodily succession, nor was He anointed with oil prepared by man, but before all ages by the Father; and He so far excels the others as with an oath He is made Priest: For they are priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him that said, The Lord sware, and will not repent. The mere purpose of the Father was sufficient for surety: but the mode of assurance is twofold, namely that with the purpose there follows the oath also, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong encouragement for our faith, who receive Christ Jesus as the Son of God.
15. This Christ, when He was come, the Jews denied, but the devils confessed. But His forefather David was not ignorant of Him, when he said, I have ordained a lamp for mine Anointed: which lamp some have interpreted to be the brightness of Prophecy, others the flesh which He took upon Him from the Virgin, according to the Apostle’s word, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels. The Prophet was not ignorant of Him, when He said, and announceth unto men His Christ. Moses also knew Him, Isaiah knew Him, and Jeremiah; not one of the Prophets was ignorant of Him. Even devils recognised Him, for He rebuked them, and the Scripture says, because they knew that He was Christ. The Chief-priests knew Him not, and the devils confessed Him: the Chief Priests knew Him not, and a woman of Samaria proclaimed Him, saying, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?
16. This is Jesus Christ who came a High-Priest of the good things to come; who for the bountifulness of His Godhead imparted His own title to us all. For kings among men have their royal style which others may not share: but Jesus Christ being the Son of God gave us the dignity of being called Christians. But some one will say, The name of “Christians” is new, and was not in use aforetime: and new-fashioned phrases are often objected to on the score of strangeness. The prophet made this point safe beforehand, saying, But upon My servants shall a new name be called, which shall be blessed upon the earth. Let us question the Jews: Are ye servants of the Lord, or not? Shew then your new name. For ye were called Jews and Israelites in the time of Moses, and the other prophets, and after the return from Babylon, and up to the present time: where then is your new name? But we, since we are servants of the Lord, have that new name: new indeed, but the new name, which shall be blessed upon the earth. This name caught the world in its grasp: for Jews are only in a certain region, but Christians reach to the ends of the world: for it is the name of the Only- begotten Son of God that is proclaimed.
17. But wouldest thou know that the Apostles knew and preached the name of Christ, or rather had Christ Himself within them? Paul says to his hearers, Or seek ye a proof of Christ that speaketh in me? Paul proclaims Christ, saying, For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. Who then is this? The former persecutor. O mighty wonder! The former persecutor him self preaches Christ. But wherefore? Was he bribed? Nay there was none to use this mode of persuasion. But was it that he saw Him present on earth, and was abashed? He had already been taken up into heaven. He went forth to persecute, and after three days the persecutor is a preacher in Damascus. By what power? Others call friends as witnesses for friends but I have presented to you as a witness the former enemy: and dost thou still doubt? The testimony of Peter and John, though weighty, was yet of a kind open to suspicion: for they were His friends. But of one who was formerly his enemy, and afterwards dies for His sake, who can any longer doubt the truth?
18. At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers. For all were amazed at Paul, and said, Is not this he that was formerly a persecutor? Did he not come hither, that he might lead us away bound to Jerusalem? Be not amazed, said Paul, I know that it is hard for me to kick against the pricks: I know that I am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God; but I did it in ignorance: for I thought that the preaching of Christ was destruction of the Law, and knew not that He came Himself to fulfil the Law and not to destroy it. But the grace of God was exceeding abundant in me.
19. Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness. Egypt bears witness, which received the Lord while yet young in the body: Symeon bears witness, who received Him in his arms, and said, Now, Lord, latest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. Anna also, the prophetess, a most devout widow, of austere life, bears witness of Him. John the Baptist bears witness, the greatest among the Prophets, and leader of the New Covenant, who in a manner united both Covenants in Himself, the Old and the New. Jordan is His witness among rivers; the sea of Tiberias among seas: blind and lame bear witness, and dead men raised to life, and devils saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus? we know Thee, who Thou art, the Holy One of God. Winds bear witness, silenced at His bidding: five loaves multiplied into five thousand bear Him witness. The holy wood of the Cross bears witness, seen among us to this day, and from this place now almost filling the whole world, by means of those who in faith take portions from it. The palm-tree on the ravine bears witness, having supplied the palm-branches to the children who then hailed Him. Gethsemane bears witness, still to the thoughtful almost shewing Judas. Golgotha, the holy hill standing above us here, bears witness to our sight: the Holy Sepulchre bears witness, and the stone which lies there to this day. The sun now shining is His witness, which then at the time of His saving Passion was eclipsed: the darkness is His witness, which was then from the sixth hour to the ninth: the light bears witness, which shone forth from the ninth hour until evening. The Mount of Olives bears witness, that holy mount from which He ascended to the Father: the rain-bearing clouds are His witnesses, having received their Lord: yea, and the gates of heaven bear witness [having received their Lord, concerning which the Psalmist said, Lift up your doors, O ye Princes, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors; and the King Glory shall come in. His former enemies bear witness, of whom the blessed Paul is one, having been a little while His enemy, but for a long time His servant: the Twelve Apostles are His witnesses, having preached the truth not only in words, but also by their own torments and deaths: the shadow of Peter bears witness, having healed the sick in the name of Christ. The handkerchiefs and aprons bear witness, as in like manner by Christ’s power they wrought cures of old through Paul Persians and Goths, and all the Gentile converts bear witness, by dying for His sake, whom they never saw with eyes of flesh: the devils, who to this day are driven out by the faithful, bear witness to Him.
20. So many and diverse, yea and more than these, are His witnesses: is then the Christ thus witnessed any longer disbelieved? Nay rather if there is any one who formerly believed not, let him now believe: and if any was before a believer, let him receive a greater increase of faith, by believing in our Lord Jesus Christ, and let him understand whose name he hears. Thou art called a Christian: be tender of the name; let not our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, be blasphemed through thee: but rather let your good works shine fare men that they who see them may in Christ Jesus our Lord glorify the Father which is in heaven: To whom be the glory, both now and for ever and ever. Amen.
ON THE WORDS, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER VERY GOD BEFORE ALL AGES, BY WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE.
HEBREWS i. 1. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.
1. THAT we have hope in Jesus Christ has been sufficiently shewn, according to our ability, in what we delivered to you yesterday. But we must not simply believe in Christ Jesus nor receive Him as one of the many who are improperly called Christs. For they were figurative Christs, but He is the true Christ; not having risen by advancement from among men to the Priesthood, but ever booing the dignity of the Priesthood from the Father. And for this cause the Faith. guarding us beforehand lest we should suppose Him to be one of the ordinary Christs, adds to the profession of the Faith, that we believe IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD.
2. And again on hearing of a “Son,” think not of an adopted son but a Son by nature, an Only-begotten Son, having no brother. For this is the reason why He is called “Only-begotten,” because in the dignity of the Godhead, and His generation from the Father, He has no brother. But we call Him the Son of God, not of ourselves, but because the Father Himself named Christ His Son: and a true name is that which is set by fathers upon their children.
3. Our Lord Jesus Christ erewhile became Man, but by the many He was unknown. Wishing, therefore, to teach that which was not known, He called together His disciples, and asked them, Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? —not from vain-glory, but wishing to shew them the truth, lest dwelling with God, the Only-begotten of God, they should think lightly of Him as if He were some mere man. And when they answered that some said Elias, and some Jeremias, He said to them, They may be excused for not knowing, lint ye, My Apostles, who in My name cleanse lepers, and cast out devils, and raise the dead, ought not to be ignorant of Him, through whom ye do these wondrous works. And when they all became silent (for the matter was too high for man to learn), Peter, the foremost of the Apostles and chief herald of the Church, neither aided by cunning invention, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but enlightened in his mind from the Father, says to Him, Thou art the Christ, not only so, but the Son of the living God. And there follows a blessing upon his speech (for in truth it was above man), and as a seal upon what he had said, that it was the Father who had revealed it to him. For the Saviour says, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My father which is in heaven. He therefore who acknowledges our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, partakes of this blessedness; but he who denies the Son of God is a poor and miserable man.
4. Again, I say, on hearing of a Son, understand it not merely in an improper sense, but as a Son in truth, a Son by nature, without beginning; not as having come out of bondage into a higher state of adoption, but a Son eternally begotten by an inscrutable and incomprehensible generation. And in like manner on hearing of the First- born, think not that this is after the manner of men; for the first-born among men have other brothers also. And it is somewhere written, Israel is My son, My first-born. But Israel is, as Reuben was, a first-born son rejected: for Reuben went up to his father’s couch; and Israel cast his Father’s Son out of the vineyard, and crucified Him.
To others also the Scripture says, Ye are the sons of the Lord your God: and in another place, I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all sons of the Most High. I have said, not, “I have begotten.” They, when God so said, received the sonship, which before they had not: but He was not begotten to be other than He was before; but was begotten from the beginning Son of the Father, being above all beginning and all ages, Son of the Father, in all things like to Him who begot Him, eternal of a Father eternal, Life of Life begotten, and Light of Light, and Truth of Truth, and Wisdom of the Wise, and King of King, and God of God, and Power of Power.
5. If then thou hear the Gospel saying, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, understand “according to the flesh.” For He is the Son of David at the end of the ages, but the Son of God BEFORE ALL AGES, without beginning. The one, which before He had not, He received; but the other, which He hath, He hath eternally as begotten of the Father. Two fathers He hath: one, David, according to the flesh, and one, God, His Father in a Divine manner. As the Son of David, He is subject to time, and to handling, and to genealogical descent: but as Son according to the Godhead, He is subject neither to time nor to place, nor to genealogical descent: for His generation who shall declare? God is a Spirit; He who is a Spirit hath spiritually begotten, as being incorporeal, an inscrutable and incomprehensible generation. The Son Himself says of the Father, The Lora said unto Me, Thou art My Son, to-day have I begotten Thee. Now this to- day is not recent, but eternal: a timeless to-day, before all ages. From the womb, before the morning star, have I begotten Thee.
6. Believe thou therefore on Jesus Christ, SON of the living God, and a Son ONLY-BEGOTTEN, according to the Gospel which says, Far God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. And again, He that believeth on the Son is not judged, but hath passed out of death into life. But he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. And John testified concerning Him, saying, And we beheld His glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the father,— full of grace and truth: at whom the devils trembled and said, Ah! what have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the living God.
7. He is then the Son of God by nature and not by adoption, begotten of the Father. And he that loveth Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him; but he that despiseth Him that is begotten casts back the insult upon Him who begat. And whenever thou hear of God begetting, sink not down in thought to bodily things, nor think of a corruptible generation, lest thou be guilty of impiety. God is a Spirit, His generation is spiritual: for bodies beget bodies, and for the generation of bodies time needs must intervene; but time intervenes not in the generation of the Son from the Father. And in our case what is begotten is begotten imperfect: but the Son of God was begotten perfect; for what He is now, that is He also from the beginning, begotten without beginning. We are begotten so as to pass from infantile ignorance to a state of reason: thy generation, O man, is imperfect, for thy growth is progressive. But think not that it is thus in His case, nor impute infirmity to Him who hath begotten. For if that which He begot was imperfect, and acquired its perfection in time, thou art imputing infirmity to Him who hath begotten; if so be, the Father did not bestow from the beginning that which, as thou sayest, time bestowed afterwards.
8. Think not therefore that this generation is human, nor as Abraham begat Isaac. For in begetting Isaac, Abraham begat not what he would, but what another granted. But in God the Father’s begetting there is neither ignorance nor intermediate deliberation. For to say that He knew not what He was be-getting is the greatest impiety; and it is no less impious to say, that after deliberation in time He then became a Father. For God was not previously without a Son, and afterwards in time became a Father; but hath the Son eternally, having begotten Him not as men beget men, but as Himself only knoweth, who begat Him before all ages Very God.
9. For the Father being Very God begot the Son like unto Himself, Very God; not as teachers beget disciples, not as Paul says to some, For in Christ Jesus I begat you through the Gospel. For in this case he who was not a son by nature became a son by discipleship, but in the former case He was a Son by nature, a true Son. Not as ye, who are to be illuminated, are now becoming sons of God: for ye also become sons, but by adoption of grace, as it is written, But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to became children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And we indeed are begotten of water and of the Spirit, but not thus was Christ begotten of the Father. For at the time of His Baptism addressing Him, and saying, This is My Son, He did not say, “This has now become My Son,” but, This is My Son; that He might make manifest, that even before the operation of Baptism He was a Son.
10. The Father begat the Son, not as among men mind begets word. For the mind is substantially existent in us; but the word when spoken is dispersed into the air and comes to an end. But we know Christ to have been begotten not as a word pronounced, but as a Word substantially existing and living; not spoken by the lips, and dispersed, but begotten of the Father eternally and ineffably, in substance. For, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, sitting at God’s right hand;—the Word understanding the Father’s will, and creating all things at His bidding: the Word, which came down and went up; for the word of utterance when spoken comes not down, nor goes up; the Word speaking and saying, The things which I have seen with My Father, these I speak: the Word possessed of power, and reigning over all things: for the Father hath committed all things unto the Son.
11. The Father then begot Him not in such wise as any man could understand, but as Himself only knoweth. For we profess not to tell in what manner He begot Him, but we insist that it was not in this manner. And not we only are ignorant of the generation of the Son from the Father, but so is every created nature. Speak to the earth, if perchance it may teach thee: and though thou inquire of all things which are upon the earth, they shall not be able to tell thee. For the earth cannot tell the substance of Him who is its own potter and fashioner. Nor is the earth alone ignorant, but the sun also: for the sun was created on the fourth day, without knowing what had been made in the three days before him; and he who knows not the things made in the three days before him, cannot tell forth the Maker Himself. Heaven will not declare this: for at the Father’s bidding the heaven also was like smoke established by Christ. Nor shall the heaven of heavens declare this, nor the waters which are above the heavens. Why then art thou cast down, O man, at being ignorant of that which even the heavens know not? Nay, not only are the heavens’ ignorant of this generation, but also every angelic nature. For if any one should ascend, were it possible, into the first heaven, and perceiving the ranks of the Angels there should approach and ask them how God begot His own Son, they would say perhaps, “We have above us beings greater and higher; ask them.” Go up to the second heaven and the third; attain, if thou canst, to Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers: and even if any one should reach them, which is impossible, they also would decline the explanation, for they know it not.
12. For my part, I have ever wondered at the curiosity of the bold men, who by their imagined reverence fall into impiety. For though they know nothing of Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers, the workmanship of Christ, they attempt to scrutinise their Creator Himself. Tell me first, O most daring man, wherein does Throne differ from Dominion, and then scrutinise what pertains to Christ. Tell me what is a Principality, and what a Power, and what a Virtue, and what an Angel: and then search out their Creator, for all things were made by Him. But thou wilt not, or thou canst not ask Thrones or Dominions. What else is there that knoweth the deep things of God, save only the Holy Ghost, who spoke the Divine Scriptures? But not even the Holy Ghost Himself has spoken in the Scriptures concerning the generation of the Son from the Father. Why then dost thou busy thyself about things which not even the Holy Ghost has written in the Scriptures? Thou that knowest not the things which are written, busiest thou thyself about the things which are not written? There are many questions in the Divine Scriptures; what is written we comprehend not, why do we busy ourselves about what is not written? It is sufficient for us to know that God hath begotten One Only Son.
13. Be not ashamed to confess thine ignorance, since thou sharest ignorance with Angels. Only He who begot knoweth Him who was begotten, and He who is begotten of Him knoweth Him who begat. He who begot knoweth what He begat: and the Scriptures also testify that He who was begotten is God. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so also hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father; and, as the Father quickeneth whom He will, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. Neither He who begot suffered any loss, nor is anything lacking to Him who was begotten (I know that I have said these things many times, but it is for your safety that they are said so often): neither has He who begat, a Father, nor He who was begotten, a brother. Neither was He who begot changed into the Son, nor did He who was begotten become the Fathers. Of One Only Father there is One Only-begotten Son: neither two Unbegotten, nor two Only-begotten; but One Father, Un-begotten (for He is Unbegotten who hath no father); and One Son, eternally begotten of the Father; begotten not in time, but before all ages; not increased by advancement, but begotten that which He now is.
14. We believe then IN THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, WHO WAS BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER VERY GOD. For the True God begetteth not a false god, as we have said, nor did He deliberate and afterwards beget; but He begat eternally, and much more swiftly than our words or thoughts: for we speaking in time, consume time; but in the case of the Divine Power, the generation is timeless. And as I have often said, He did not bring forth the Son from non existence into being, nor take the non-existent into sonship: but the Father, being Eternal, eternally and ineffably begat One Only Son, who has no brother. Nor are there two first principles; but the Father is the head of the Son; the beginning is One. For the Father begot the Son VERY GOD, called Emmanuel; and Emmanuel being interpreted is, God with us.
15. And wouldest thou know that He who was begotten of the Father, and afterwards became man, is God? Hear the Prophet saying, This is our God, none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him. He hath found out every way of knowledge, and given it to Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterwards He was seen on earth, and conversed among men. Seest thou herein God become man, after the giving of the law by Moses? Hear also a second testimony to Christ’s Deity, that which has just now been read, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. For lest, because of His presence here in the flesh, He should be thought to have been advanced after this to the Godhead, the Scripture says plainly, Therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. Seest thou Christ as God anointed by God the Father?
16. Wouldest thou receive yet a third testimony to Christ’s Godhead? Hear Esaias saying, Egypt hath laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia: and soon after, In Thee shall they make supplication, because God is in Thee, and there is no God save Thee. Far Thou art God, and we knew it not, the God of Israel, the Saviour. Thou seest that the Son is God, having in Himself God the Father: saying almost the very same which He has said in the Gospels: The Father is in Me, and I am in the Father. He says not, I am the Father, but the Farther is in Me, and I am in the Father. And again He said not, I and the Father am one, but, I and the Father am one, that we should neither separate them, nor make a confusion of Son-Father. One they are because of the dignity pertaining to the Godhead, since God begat God. One in respect of their kingdom; for the Father reigns not over these, and the Son over those, lifting Himself up against His Father like Absalom: but the kingdom of the Father is likewise the kingdom of the Son. One they are, because there is no discord nor division between them: for what things the Father willeth, the Son willeth the same. One, because the creative works of Christ are no other than the Father’s; for the creation of all things is one, the Father having made them through the Son: For He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created, saith the Psalmist. For He who speaks, speaks to one who hears: and He who commands, gives His commandment to one who is present with Him.
17. The Son then is VERY GOD, having the Father in Himself, not changed into the Father; for the Father was not made man, but the Son. For let the truth be freely spoken. The Father suffered not for us, but the Father sent Him who suffered. Neither let us say, There was a time when the Son was not; nor let us admit a Son who is the Father: but let us walk in the king’s highway; let us turn aside neither on the left hand nor on the right. Neither from thinking to honour the Son, let us call Him the Father; nor from thinking to honour the Father, imagine the Son to be some one of the creatures. But let One Father be worshipped through One Son, and let not their worship be separated. Let One Son be proclaimed, sitting at the right hand of the Father before all ages: sharing His throne not by advancement in time after His Passion, but by eternal possession.
18. He who hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father: for in all things the Son is like to Him who begat Him; begotten Life of Life and Light of Light, Power of Power, God of God; and the characteristics of the Godhead are unchangeable in the Son; and he who is counted worthy to behold Godhead in the Son, attains to the fruition of the Father. This is not my word, but that of the Only-begotten: Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father. And to be brief, let us neither separate them, nor make a confusion: neither say thou ever that the Son is foreign to the Father, nor admit those who say that the Father is at one time Father, and at another Son: for these are strange and impious statements, and not the doctrines of the Church. But the Father having begotten the Son, remained the Father and is not changed. He begat Wisdom, yet lost not wisdom Himself; and begot Power, yet became not weak: He begot God, but lost not His own Godhead: and neither did He lose anything Himself by diminution or change; nor has He who was begotten any thing wanting. Perfect is He who begat, Per-feet that which was begotten: God was He who begot, God He who was begotten; God of all Himself, yet entitling the Father His own God. For He is not ashamed to say, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.
19. But lest thou shouldest think that He is in a like sense Father of the Son and of the creatures, Christ drew a distinction in what follows. For He said not, “I ascend to our Father,” lest the creatures should be made fellows of the Only-begotten; but He said, My Father and your Father; in one way Mine, by nature; in another yours, by adoption. And again, to my God and your God, in one way Mine, as His true and Only-begotten Son, and in another way yours, as His workmanship. The Son of God then is VERY GOD, ineffably begotten before all ages (for I say the same things often to you, that it may be graven upon your mind). This also believe, that God has a Son: but about the manner be not curious, for by searching thou wilt not find Exalt not thyself, lest thou fall: think upon those things only which have been commanded thee. Tell me first what He is who begat, and then learn that which He begat; but if thou canst not conceive the nature of Him who hath begotten, search not curiously into the manner of that which is begotten.
20. For godliness it sufficeth thee to know, as we have said, that God hath One Only Son, One naturally begotten; who began not His being when He was born in Bethlehem, but ALL AGES. For hear the Prophet Micah saying, And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephrata, art little to be among the thousands of Judah. Out of thee shall come forth unto Me a Ruler, who shall feed My people Israel: and His goings forth are front the beginning, from days of eternity. Think not then of Him who is now come forth out of Bethlehem, but worship Him who was eternally begotten of the Father. Suffer none to speak of a beginning of the Son in time, but as a timeless Beginning acknowledge the Father. For the Father is the Beginning of the Son, timeless, incomprehensible, without beginning. The fountain of the river of righteousness, even of the Only-begotten, is the Father, who begot Him as Himself only knoweth. And wouldest thou know that our Lord Jesus Christ is King Eternal? Hear Him again saying, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad. And then, when the Jews received this hardly, He says what to them was still harder, Before Abraham was, I am. And again He saith to the Father, And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. He says plainly, “before the world was, I had the glory which is with Thee.” And again when He says, For Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world, He plainly declares, “The glory which I have with thee is from eternity.”
21. We believe then IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, BEGOTTEN OF HIS FATHER VERY GOD BEFORE ALL WORLDS, BY WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE. For whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or flowers, all things were made through Him, and of things created none is exempted from His authority. Silenced be every heresy which brings in different creators and makers of the world; silenced the tongue which blasphemes the Christ the Son of God; let them be silenced who say that the sun is the Christ, for He is the sun’s Creator, not the sun which we see. Silenced be they who say that the world is the workmanship of Angels, who wish to steal away the dignity of the Only-begotten. For whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or anything that is named, all things were made by Christ. He reigns over the things which have been made by Him, not having seized another’s spoils, but reigning over His own workmanship, even as the Evangelist John has said, All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. All things were made by Him, the Father working by the Son.
22. I wish to give also a certain illustration of what I am saying, but I know that it is feeble; for of things visible what can be an exact illustration of the Divine Power? But nevertheless as feeble be it spoken by the feeble to the feeble. For just as any king, whose son was a king, if he wished to form a city, might suggest to his son, his partner in the kingdom, the form of the city, and he having received the pattern, brings the design to completion; so, when the Father wished to form all things, the Son created all things at the Father’s bidding, that the act of bidding might secure to the Father His absolute authority, and yet the Son in turn might have authority over His own workmanship, and neither the Father be separated from the lordship over His own works, nor the Son rule over things created by others, but by Himself. For, as I have said, Angels did not create the world, but the Only-begotten Son, begotten, as I have said, before all ages, BY WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE, nothing having been excepted from His creation. And let this suffice to have been spoken by us so far, by the grace of Christ.
23. But let us now recur to our profession of the Faith, and so for the present finish our discourse. Christ made all things, whether thou speak of Angels, or Archangels, of Dominions, or Thrones. Not that the Father wanted strength to create the works Himself, but because He willed that the Son should reign over His own workmanship, God Himself giving Him the design of the things to be made. For honouring His own Father the Only-begotten saith, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. And again, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work, there being no opposition in those who work. For all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, saith the Lord in the Gospels. And this we may certainly know from the Old and New Testaments. For He who said, Let us make man in our image and after our likeness, was certainly speaking to some one present. But clearest of all are the Psalmist’s words, He spoke and they were made; He commanded, and they were created, as if the Father commanded and spoke, and the Son made all things at the Father’s bidding. And this Job said mystically, Which alone spread out the heaven, and walketh upon the sea as an firm ground; signifying to those who understand that He who when present here walked upon the sea is also He who aforetime made the heavens. And again the Lord saith, Or didst Thou take earth, and fashion clay into a living beings? then afterwards, Are the gates of death opened to Thee through fear, and did the door-keepers of hell shudder at sight of Thee? thus signifying that He who through loving-kindness descended into hell, also in the beginning made man out of clay.
24. Christ then is the Only-begotten Son of God, and Maker of the world. For He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; and He came unto His own, as the Gospel teaches us. And not only of the things which are seen, but also of the things which are not seen, is Christ the Maker at the Father’s bidding. For in Him, according to the Apostle, were all flyings created that are in the heavens, and that are upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created by Him and for Him; and He is before all, and in Him all things consist. Even if thou speak of the worlds, of these also Jesus Christ is the Maker by the Father’s bidding. For in these last days God spake unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds. To whom be the glory, honour, might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
ON THE WORDS INCARNATE, AND MADE MAN.
ISAIAH vii 10—14. And the Lord spoke again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign, etc.: andBehold! a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.
1. NURSLINGS of purity and disciples of chastity, raise we our hymn to the Virgin-born God with lips full of purity. Deemed worthy to partake of the flesh of the Spiritual Lamb, let us take the head together with the feet, the Deity being understood as the head, and the Manhood taken as the feet. Hearers of the Holy Gospels, let us listen to John the Divine. For he who said, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, went on to say, and the Word was made flesh. For neither is it holy to worship the mere man, nor religious to say that He is God only without the Manhood. For if Christ is God, as indeed He is, but took not human nature upon Him, we are strangers to salvation. Let us then worship Him as God, but believe that He also was made Man. For neither is there any profit in calling Him man without Godhead nor any salvation in refusing to confess the Manhood together with the Godhead. Let us confess the presence of Him who is both King and Physician. For Jesus the King when about to become our Physician, girded Himself with the linen of humanity, and healed that which was sick. The perfect Teacher of babes became a babe among babes, that He might give wisdom to the foolish. The Bread of heaven came down on earth that He might feed the hungry.
2. But the sons of the Jews by setting at nought Him that came, and looking for him who cometh in wickedness, rejected the true Messiah, and wait for the deceiver, themselves deceived; herein also the Saviour being found true, who said, I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: but if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. It is well also to put a question to the Jews. Is the Prophet Esaias, who saith that Emmanuel shall be born of a virgin, true or false? For if they charge him with falsehood, no wonder: for their custom is not only to charge with falsehood, but also to stone the Prophets. But if the Prophet is true, point to the Emmanuel, and say, Whether is He who is to come, for whom ye are looking, to be born of a virgin or not? For if He is not to be born of a virgin, ye accuse the Prophet of falsehood: but if in Him that is to come ye expect this, why do ye reject that which has come to pass already?
3. Let the Jews, then, be led astray, since they so will: but let the Church of God be glorified. For we receive God the Word made Man in truth, not, as heretics say, of the will of man and woman, but OF THE VIRGIN AND THE HOLY GHOST according to the Gospel, MADE MAN, not in seeming but in truth. And that He was truly Man made, of the Virgin, wait for the proper time of instruction in this Lecture, and thou shalt receive the proofs: for the error of the heretics is manifold. And some have said that He has not been born at all of a virgin: others that He has been born, not of a virgin, but of a wife dwelling with a husband. Others say that the Christ is not God made Man, but a man made God. For they dared to say that not He—the pre-existent Word—was made Man; but a certain man was by advancement crowned.
4. But remember thou what was said yesterday concerning His Godhead. Believe that He the Only-begotten Son of God—He Himself was again begotten of a Virgin. Believe the Evangelist John when he says, And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. For the Word is eternal, BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER BEFORE ALL WORLDS: but the flesh He took on Him recently for our sake. Many contradict this, and say: “What cause was there so great, for God to come down into humanity? And, is it at all God’s nature to hold intercourse with men? And, is it possible for a virgin to bear, without man?” Since then there is much controversy, and the battle has many forms, come, let us by the grace of Christ, and the prayers of those who are present, resolve each question.
5. And first let us inquire for what cause Jesus came down. Now mind not my argumentations, for perhaps thou mayest be misled but unless thou receive testimony of the Prophets on each matter, believe not what I say: unless thou learn from the Holy Scriptures concerning the Virgin, and the place, the time, and the manner, receive not testimony from man. For one who at present thus teaches may possibly be suspected: but what man of sense will suspect one that prophesied a thousand and more years beforehand? If then thou seekest the cause of Christ’s coming, go back to the first book of the Scriptures. In six days God made the world: but the world was for man. The sun however resplendent with bright beams, yet was made to give light to man, yea, and all living creatures were formed to serve us: herbs and trees were created for our enjoyment. All the works of creation were good, but none of these was an image of God, save man only. The sun was formed by a mere command, but man by God’s hands: Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness. A wooden image of an earthly king is held in honour; holy much more a rational image of God?
But when this the greatest of the works of creation was disporting himself in Paradise, the envy of the Devil cast him out. The enemy was rejoicing over the fall of him whom he had envied: wouldest thou have had the enemy continue to rejoice? Not daring to accost the man because of his strength, he accosted as being weaker the woman, still a virgin: for it was after the expulsion from Paradise that Adam knew live his wife.
6. Cain and Abel succeeded in the second generation of mankind: and Cain was the first murderer. Afterwards a deluge was poured abroad because of the great wickedness of men: fire came down from heaven upon the people of Sodom because of their transgression. After a time God chose out Israel: but Israel also turned aside, and the chosen race was wounded. For while Moses stood before God in the mount, the people were worshipping a calf instead of God. In the lifetime of Moses, the law-giver who had said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, a man dared to enter a place of harlotry and transgress. After Moses, Prophets were sent to cure Israel: but in their healing office they lamented that they were not able to overcome the disease, so that one of them says, Woe is me! for the godly man is perished out of the earth, and there is none that doeth right among men: and again, They are all gone out of the way, they are together became unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one: and again, Cursing and stealing, and adultery, and murder are poured out upon the land. Their sons and their daughters they sacrificed unto devils. They used auguries, and enchantments, and divinations. And again, they fastened their garments with cords, and shade hangings attached to the altar.
7. Very great was the wound of man’s nature; from the feet to the had there was no soundness in it; none could apply mollifying ointment, neither oil, nor bandages. Then bewailing and wearying themselves, the Prophets said, Who shall give salvation out of Sion? And again, Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, and upon the son of man whom Thou modest strong for Thyself: so will not we go back from Thee. And another of the Prophets entreated, saying, Bow the heavens, O Lord and come down. The wounds of man’s nature pass our healing. They slew Thy Prophets, and cast down Thine altars. The evil is irretrievable by us, and needs thee to retrieve it.
8. The Lord heard the prayer of the Prophets. The Father disregarded not the perishing of our race; He sent forth His Son, the Lord from heaven, as healer: and one of the Prophets saith, The Lord whom ye seek, cometh, and shall suddenly come. Whither? The Lord shall come to His own temple, where ye stoned Him. Then another of the Prophets, on hearing this, saith to him: In speaking of the salvation of God, speakest thou quietly? In preaching the good tidings of God’s coming for salvation, speakest thou in secret? O thou that bringest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain. Speak to the cities of Judah. What am I to speak? Behold our God! Behold! the Lord cometh with strength! Again the Lord Himself saith, Behold! l come, and l will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall flee unto the Lord. The Israelites rejected salvation through Me: I came to gather all nations and tongues. For He came to His own and His own received Him not. Thou comest and what dost Thou bestow on the nations? I come to gather all nations, and I will leave on them a sign. For from My conflict upon the Cross I give to each of My soldiers a royal seal to bear upon his forehead. Another also of the Prophets said, He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under His feet. For His coming down from heaven was not known by men.
9. Afterwards Solomon hearing his father David speak these things, built a wondrous house, and foreseeing Him who was to come into it, said in astonishment, Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Yea, saith David by anticipation in the Psalm inscribed For Solomon, wherein is this, He shall come down like rain into a fleece: rain, because of His heavenly nature, and into a fleece, because of His humanity. For rain, coming down into a fleece, comes down noiselessly: so that the Magi, not knowing the mystery of the Nativity, say, Where is tie that is born King of the Jews? and Herod being troubled inquired concerning Him who was born, and said, Where is the Christ to be born?
10. But who is this that cometh down? He says in what follows, And with the sun He endureth, and before the moon generations of generations. And again another of the Prophets saith, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold! thy King cometh unto thee, just and having salvation. Kings are many; of which speakest thou, O Prophet? Give us a sign which other Kings have not. If thou say, A king clad in purple, the dignity of the apparel has been anticipated. If thou say, Guarded by spear-men, and sitting in a golden chariot, this also has been anticipated by others. Give us a sign peculiar to the King whose coming thou announcest. And the Prophet maketh answer and saith, Behold! thy King cometh unto thee, just, and having salvation: He is meek, and riding upon an ass and a young foal, not on a chariot. Thou hast a unique sign of the King who came. Jesus alone of kings sat upon an unyoked foal, entering into Jerusalem with acclamations as a king. And when this King is come, what doth He? Thou also by the blood of the covenant hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.
11. But He might perchance even sit upon a foal: give us rather a sign, where the King that entereth shall stand. And give the sign not far from the city, that it may not be unknown to us: and give us the sign plain before our eyes, that even when in the city we may behold the place. And the Prophet again makes answer, saying: And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the cast. Does any one standing within the city fail to behold the place?
12. We have two signs, and we desire to learn a third. Tell us what the Lord cloth when He is come. Another Prophet saith, Behold! our God, and afterwards, He will come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear: then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be distinct. But let yet another testimony be told us. Thou sayest, O Prophet, that the Lord cometh, and doeth signs such as never were: what other clear sign tellest thou? The Lord Himself entereth into judgment with the elders of His people, and with the princes thereof. A notable sign! The Master judged by His servants, the eiders, and submitting to it.
13. These things the Jews read, but hear not: for they have stopped the ears of their heart, that they may not hear. But let us believe in Jesus Christ, as having come in the flesh and been made Man, because we could not receive Him otherwise. For since we could not look upon or enjoy Him as He was, He became what we are, that so we might be permitted to enjoy Him. For if we cannot look full on the sun, which was made on the fourth day, could we behold God its Creator? The Lord came down in fire on Mount Sinai, and the people could not bear it, but said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; and let not God speak to us, lest we die: and again, For who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, and shall live? If to hear the voice of God speaking is a cause of death, how shall not the sight of God Himself bring death? And what wonder? Even Moses himself saith, I exceedingly fear and quake.
14. What wouldest thou then? That He who came for our salvation should become a minister of destruction because men could not bear Him? or that He should suit His grace to our measure? Daniel could not bear the vision of an Angel, and were thou capable of the sight of the Lord of Angels? Gabriel appeared, and Daniel fell down: and of what nature or in what guise was he that appeared? His countenance was like lightning; not like the sun: and his eyes as lamps of fire, not as a furnace of fire: and the voice of his words as the voice of a multitude, not as the voice of twelve legions of angels; nevertheless the Prophet fell down. And the Angel cometh unto him, saying, Fear not, Daniel, stand upright: be of good courage, thy words are heard. And Daniel says, I stood up trembling: and not even so did he make answer, until the likeness of a man’s hand touched him. And when he that appeared was changed into the appearance of a man, then Daniel spoke: and what saith he? O my Lord, at the vision of Thee my inward parts were turned within me, and no strength remaineth in me, neither is there breath left in me. If an Angel appearing took away the Prophet’s voice and strength, would the appearance of God have allowed him to breathe? And until there touched me as it were a vision of a man, saith the Scripture, Daniel took not courage. So then after trial shewn of our weakness, the Lord assumed that which man required: for since man required to hear from one of like countenance, the Saviour took on Him the nature of like affections, that men might be the more easily instructed.
15. Learn also another cause. Christ came that He might be baptized, and might sanctify Baptism: He came that He might work wonders, walking upon the waters of the sea. Since then before His appearance in flesh, the sea saw Him and fled, and Jordan was turned back, the Lord took to Himself His body, that the sea might endure the sight, and Jordan receive Him without fear. This then is one cause; but there is also a second. Through Eve yet virgin came death; through a virgin, or rather from a virgin, must the Life appear: that as the serpent beguiled the one, so to the other Gabriel might bring good tidings. Men forsook God, and made carved images of men. Since therefore an image of man was falsely worshipped as God, God became truly Man, that the falsehood might be done away. The Devil had used the flesh as an instrument against us; and Paul knowing this, saith, But l see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity, and the rest. By the very same weapons, therefore, wherewith the Devil used to vanquish us, have we been saved. The Lord took on Him from us our likeness, that He might save man’s nature: He took our likeness, that He might give greater grace to that which lacked; that sinful humanity might become partaker of God. For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. It behoved the Lord to suffer for us; but if the Devil had known Him, he would not have dared to approach Him. For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. His body therefore was made a bait to death that the dragon, hoping to devour it, might disgorge those also who had been already devoured. For Death prevailed and devoured; and again, God wiped away every tear from off every face.
16. Was it without reason that Christ was made Man? Are our teachings ingenious phrases and human subtleties? Are not the Holy Scriptures our salvation? Are not the predictions of the Prophets? Keep then, I pray thee, this deposit undisturbed, and let none remove thee: believe that God became Man. But though it has been proved possible for Him to be made Man, yet if the Jews still disbelieve, let us hold this forth to them What strange thing do we announce in saying that God was made Man, when yourselves say that Abraham received the Lord as a guest? What strange thing do we announce, when Jacob says, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved? The Lord, who ate with Abraham, ate also with us. What strange thing then do we announce? Nay more, we produce two witnesses, those who stood before Lord on Mount Sinai: Moses was in a clift of the rock, and Elias was once in a clift of the rock: they being present with Him at His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, spoke to the Disciples of His decease which fire should accomplish at Jerusalem. But, as I said before, it has been proved possible for Him to be made man: and the rest of the proofs may be left for the studious to collect.
17. My statement, however, promised to declare also the time of the Saviour’s and the place: and I must not go away convicted of falsehood, but rather send away the Church’s novices well assured. Let us therefore inquire the time when our Lord came: because His coming is recent, and is disputed: and because Christ Jesus is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Moses then, the prophet, saith, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: but let that “like unto me” be reserved awhile to be examined in its proper place. But when cometh this Prophet that is expected? Recur, he says, to what has been written by me: examine carefully Jacob’s prophecy addressed to Judah: Judah, thee may thy brethren praise, and afterwards, not to quote the whole, A prince shall not fail out of Judah, nor a ruler from his loins, until He come, for whom it is reserved; and He is the expectation, not of the Jews but of the Gentiles. He gave, therefore, as a sign of Christ’s advent the cessation of the Jewish rule. If they are not now under the Romans, the Christ is not yet come: if they still have a prince of the race of Judah and of David, he is not yet come that was expected. For I am ashamed to tell of their recent doings concerning those who are now called Patriarchs among them, and what their descent is, and who their mother: but I leave it to those who know. But He that cometh as the expectation of the Gentiles, what further sign then hath He? He says next, Binding his foal unto the vine. Thou seest that foal which was clearly announced by Zachariah.
18. But again thou askest yet another testimony of the time. The LORD said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee: and a few words further on, Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron. I have said before that the kingdom of the Romans is clearly called a rod of iron; but what is wanting concerning this let us further call to mind out of Daniel. For in relating and interpreting to Nebuchadnezzar the image of the statue, he tells also his whole vision concerning it: and that a stone cut out of a mountain without hands, that is, not set up by human contrivance, should overpower the whole world: and he speaks most clearly thus; And in the days of those kingdoms the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, and His kingdom shall not be left to another people.
19. But we seek still more clearly the proof of the time of His coming. For man being hard to persuade, unless he gets the very years fear a clear calculation, does not believe what is stated. What then is the season, and what the manner of the time? It is when, on the failure of the kings descended from Judah, Herod a foreigner succeeds to the kingdom? The Angel, therefore, who converses with Daniel says, and do thou now mark the words, And thou shalt know and understand: From the going forth of the word for making answer, and for the building of Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince are seven weeks and three score and two weeks. Now three score and nine weeks of years contain four hundred and eighty-three years. He said, therefore, that after the building of Jerusalem, four hundred and eighty-three years having passed, and the rulers having failed, then cometh a certain king of another race, in whose time the Christ is to be born. Now Darius the Mede built the city in the sixth year of his own reign, and first year of the 66th Olympiad according to the Greeks. Olympiad is the name among the Greeks of the games celebrated after four years, because of the day which in every four years of the sun’s courses is made up of the three (supernumerary) hours in each year. And Herod is king in the 186th Olympiad, in the 4th year thereof. Now from the 66th to the 186th Olympiad there are 120 Olympiads intervening, and a little over. So then the 120 Olympiads make up 480 years: for the other three years remaining are perhaps taken up in the interval between the first and fourth years. And there thou hast the proof according to the Scripture which saith, From the going forth of the word that Jerusalem be restored and built until Messiah the Prince are seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Of the times, therefore, thou hast for the present this proof, although there are also other different interpretations concerning the aforesaid weeks of years in Daniel.
20. But now hear the place of the promise, as Micah says, And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephrathah, art than little to be among the thousands of Judah? For out of thee shall come forth unto Me a ruler, to be governor in Israel: and His goings forth are front the beginning, from the days of eternity. But assuredly as to the places, thou being an inhabitant of Jerusalem, knowest also beforehand what is written in the hundred and thirty-first psalm. Lo! We heard of it at Ephrathah, we found it in the plains of the wood. For a few years ago the place was woody. Again thou hast heard Habakkuk say to the Lord, When the years draw nigh, than shalt be made known, when the time is come, thou shalt be shewn. And what is the sign, O Prophet, of the Lord’s coming? And presently he saith, In the midst of two lives shalt thou be known, plainly saying this to the Lord, “Having come in the flesh thou livest and diest, and after rising from the dead thou livest again.” Further, from what part of the region round Jerusalem cometh He? From east, or west, or north, or south? Tell us exactly. And he makes answer most plainly and says, God shall come from Teman (now Teman is by interpretation ‘south’) and the Holy One front Mount Paran, shady, woody: what the Psalmist spake in like words, We found it in the plains of the wood.
21. We ask further, of whom cometh He and how? And this Esaias tells us: Behold! the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel. This the Jews contradict, for of old it is their wont wickedly to oppose the truth: and they say that it is not written “the virgin,” but “the damsel.” But though I assent to what they say, even so I find the truth. For we must ask them, If a virgin be forced, when does she cry out and call for helpers, after or before the outrage? If, therefore, the Scripture elsewhere says, The betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her, doth it not speak of a virgin?
But that you may learn more plainly that even a virgin is called in Holy Scripture a “damsel,” hear the Book of the Kings, speaking of Abishag the Shunamite, And the damsel was very fair: for that as a virgin she was chosen and brought to David is admitted.
22. But the Jews say again, This was said to Ahaz in reference to Hezekiah. Well, then, let us read the Scripture: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God, in the depth or in the height. And the sign certainly must be something astonishing. For the water from the rock was a sign, the sea divided, the sun turning back, and the like. But in what I am going to mention there is still more manifest refutation of the Jews.(I know that I am speaking at much length, and that my hearers are wearied: but bear with the fulness of my statements, because it is for Christ’s sake these questions are moved, and they concern no ordinary matters.) Now as Isaiah spoke this in the reign of Ahaz, and Ahaz reigned only sixteen years, and the prophecy was spoken to him within these years, the objection of the Jews is refuted by the fact that the succeeding king, Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, was twenty-five years old when he began to reign: for as the prophecy is confined within sixteen years, he must have been begotten of Ahaz full nine years before the prophecy. What need then was there to utter the prophecy concerning one who had been already begotten even before the reign of father Ahaz? For he said not, hath conceived, but “the virgin shall conceive,” speaking as with foreknowledge.
23. We know then for certain that the Lord was to be born of a Virgin, but we have to shew of what family the Virgin was. The Lord sware in truth unto and will not set it aside. Of the fruit of body will I set upon thy throne: and again, seed will I establish for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. And afterwards, Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me, and as the moon established for ever. Thou seest that the discourse is of Christ, not of Solomon. For Solomon’s throne endured not as the sun. But if any deny this, because Christ sat not on David’s throne of wood, we will bring forward that saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: for it signifies not his wooden seat, but the authority of his teaching. In like manner then I would have you seek for David’s throne not the throne of wood, but the kingdom itself. Take, too, as my witnesses the children who cried aloud, Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is the King of Israel. And the blind men also say, Son of David, have mercy on us. Gabriel too testifies plainly to Mary, saying, And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. Paul also saith, Remember Jesus Christ raised firm the dead, of the seed of David, according to my Gospel: and in the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans he saith, Which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. Receive thou therefore Him that was born of David, believing the prophecy which saith, And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to rule over the Gentiles: in Him shall the Gentiles trust.
24. But the Jews are much troubled at these things. This also Isaiah foreknew, saying, And they shall wish that they had been burnt with fire: for unto us a child is born(not unto them), unto us a Son is given. Mark thou that at first He was the Son of God, then was given to us. And a little after he says, And of His peace there is no bound. The Romans have bounds: of the kingdom of the Son of God there is no bound. The Persians and the Medes have bounds, but the Son has no bound. Then next, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it. The Holy Virgin, therefore, is from David.
25. For it became Him who is most pure, and a teacher of purity, to have come forth from a pure bride-chamber. For if he who well fulfils the office of a priest of Jesus abstains froth a wife, how should Jesus Himself be born of man and woman? For thou, saith He in the Psalms, art He that took Me out of the womb. Mark that carefully, He that took Me out of the womb, signifying that He was begotten without man, being taken from a virgin’s womb and flesh. For the manner is different with those who are begotten according to the course of marriage.
26. And from such members He is not ashamed to assume flesh, who is the framer of those very members. But then who telleth us this? The Lord saith unto Jeremiah: Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee. If, then, in fashioning man He was not ashamed of the contact, was He ashamed in fashioning for His own sake the holy Flesh, the veil of His Godhead? It is God who even now creates the children in the womb, as it is written in Job, East thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast knit me together with bones and sinews. There is nothing polluted in the human frame except a man defile this with fornication and adultery. He who formed Adam formed Eve also, and male and female were formed by God’s hands. None of the members of the body as formed from the beginning is polluted. Let the mouths of all heretics be stopped who slander their bodies, or rather Him who formed them. But let us remember Paul’s saying, Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you? And again the Prophet hath spoken before in the person of Jesus, My flesh is from them: and in another place it is written, Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she bringeth forth. And what is the sign? He tells us in what follows, She shall bring forth, and the remnant of their brethren shall return. And what are the nuptial pledges of the Virgin, the holy bride? And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness. And Elizabeth, talking with Mary, speaks in like manner: And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
27. But both Greeks and Jews harass us and say that it was impossible for the Christ to be born of a virgin. As for the Greeks we will stop their mouths from their own fables. For ye who say that stones being thrown were changed into men, how say ye that it is imposssible for a virgin to bring forth? Ye who fable that a daughter was born from the brain, how say ye that it is impossible for a son to have been born frown a virgin’s womb? Ye who falsely say that Dionysus was born from the thigh of your Zeus, how set ye at nought our truth? I know that I am speaking of things unworthy of the present audience: but in order that thou in due season mayest rebuke the Greeks, we have brought these things forward answering them from their own fables.
28. But those of the circumcision meet thou with this question: Whether is harder, for an aged woman, barren and past age, to bear, or for a virgin in the prime of youth to conceive? Sarah was barren, and though it had ceased to be with her after the manner of women, yet, contrary to nature, she bore a child. If, then, it is against nature for a barren woman to conceive, and also for a virgin, either, therefore, reject both, or accept both. For it is the same God who both wrought the one and appointed the other. For thou wilt not dare to say that it was possible for God in that former ease, and impossible in this latter. And again: how is it natural for a man’s hand to be changed in a single hour into a different appearance and restored again? How then was the hand of Moses made white as snow, and at once restored again? But thou sayest that God’s will made the change. In that case God’s will has the power, and has it then no power in this ease? That moreover was a sign concerning the Egyptians only, but this was a sign given to the whole world. But whether is the more difficult, O ye Jews? For a virgin to bear, or for a rod to be quickened into a living creature? Ye confess that in the case of Moses a perfectly straight rod became like a serpent, and was terrible to him who cast it down, and he who before held the rod fast, fled from it as from a serpent; for a serpent in truth it was: but he fled not because he feared that which he held, but because he dreaded Him that bad changed it. A rod had teeth and eyes like a serpent: do then seeing eyes grow out of a rod, and cannot a child be born of a virgin’s womb, if God wills? For I say nothing of the fact that Aaron’s rod also produced in a single night what other trees produce in several year. For who knows not that a rod, after losing its bark, will never sprout, not even if it be planted in the midst of rivers? But since God is not dependent on the nature of trees, but is the Creator of their natures, the unfruitful, and dry, and barkless rod budded, and blossomed, and bare almonds. He, then, who for the sake of the typical high-priest gave fruit supernaturally to the rod, would He not for the sake of the true High- Priest grant to the Virgin to bear a child?
29. These are excellent suggestions of the narratives: but the Jews still contradict, and do not yield to the statements concerning the rod, unless they may be persuaded by similar strange and supernatural births. Question them, therefore, in this way: of whom in the beginning was Eve begotten? What mother conceived her the motherless? But the Scripture saith that she was born out of Adam’s side. Is Eve then born out of a man’s side without a mother, and is a child not to be born without a father, of a virgin’s womb? This debt of gratitude was due to men from womankind: for Eve was begotten of Adam, and not conceived of a mother, but as it were brought forth of man alone. Mary, therefore, paid the debt, of gratitude, when not by man but of herself alone in an immaculate way she conceived of the Holy Ghost by the power of God.
30. But let us take what is yet a greater wonder than this. For that of bodies bodies should be conceived, even if wonderful, is nevertheless possible: but that the dust of the earth should become a man, this is more wonderful. That clay moulded together should assume the coats and splendours of the eyes, this is more wonderful. That out of dust of uniform appearance should be produced both the firmness of bones, and the softness of lungs, and other different kinds of members, this is wonderful. That clay should be animated and travel round the world self moved, and should build houses, this is wonderful. That clay should teach, and talk, and act as carpenter, and as king, this is wonderful. Whence, then, O ye most ignorant Jews, was Adam made? Did not God take dust from the earth, and fashion this wonderful frame? Is then clay changed into an eye, and cannot a virgin bear a son. Does that which for men is more impossible take place, and is that which is possible never to occur?
31. Let us remember these things, brethren: let us use these weapons in our defence. Let us not endure those heretics who teach Christ’s coming as a phantom. Let us abhor those also who say that the Saviour’s birth was of husband and wife; who have dared to say that He was the child of Joseph and Mary, because it is written, And he took unto him his wife. For let us remember Jacob who before he received Rachel, said to Laban, Give me my wife. For as she before the wedded state, merely because there was a promise, was called the wife of Jacob, so also Mary, because she had been betrothed, was called the wife of Joseph. Mark also the accuracy of the Gospel, saying, And in the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, and so forth. And again when the census took place, and Joseph went up to enrol himself, what saith the Scripture? And Joseph also went up from Galilee, to enrol himself with Mary who was espoused to him, being great with child. For though she was with child, yet it said not “with his wife,” but with her who was espoused to him. For God sent forth His Son, says Paul, not made of a man and a woman, but made of a woman only, that is of a virgin. For that the virgin also is called a woman, we shewed before. For He who makes souls virgin, was born of a Virgin.
32. But thou wonderest at the event: even she herself who bare him wondered at this. For she saith to Gabriel, How shall this be to me, since I know not a man? But he says, The Holy Ghost shall came upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is to be born shall be called the Son of God. Immaculate and undefiled was His generation: for where the Holy Spirit breathes, there all pollution is taken away: undefiled from the Virgin was the incarnate generation of the Only-begotten. And if the heretics gainsay the truth, the Holy Ghost shall convict them: that overshadowing power of the Highest shall wax wroth: Gabriel shall stand face to face against them in the, day of judgment: the place of the manger, which received the Lord, shall put them to shame. The shepherds, who then received the good tidings, shall bear witness; and the host of the Angels who sang praises and hymns, and said, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of His good pleasure: the Temple into which He was then carried up on the fortieth day: the pairs of turtle-doves, which were offered on His behalf: and Symeon who then took Him up in his arms, and Anna the prophetess who was present.
33. Since God then beareth witness, and the Holy Ghost joins in the witness, and Christ says, Why do ye seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth? let the heretics be silenced who speak against His humanity, for they speak against Him, who saith, Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Adored be the Lord the Virgin-born, and let Virgins acknowledge the crown of their own state: let the order also of Solitaries acknowledge the glory of chastity for we men are not deprived of the dignity of chastity. In the Virgin’s womb the Saviour’s period of nine months was passed: but the Lord was for thirty and three years a man: so that if a virgin glories because of the nine months, much more we because of the many years.
34. But let us all by God’s grace run the race of chastity, young men and maidens, old men and children; not going after wantonness, but praising the name of Christ. Let us not be ignorant of the glory of chastity: for its crown is angelic, and its excellence above man. Let us be chary of our bodies which are to shine as the sun: let us not for short pleasure defile so great, so noble a body: for short and momentary is the sin, but the shame for many years and for ever. Angels walking upon earth are they who practise chastity: the Virgins have their portion with Mary the Virgin. Let all vain ornament be banished, and every hurtful glance, and all wanton gait, and every flowing robe, and perfume enticing to pleasure. But in all for perfume let there be the prayer of sweet odour, and the practice of good works, and the sanctification of our bodies: that the Virgin-born Lord may say even of us, both men who live in chastity and women who wear the crown, I will dwell in them; and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. To whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[The Oxford translation of Mr. Church, then fellow of Oriel College; revised by Edward Hamilton Gifford, D.D., formerly Archdeacon of London, and Canon of S. Paul’s.]