BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
The text for Cyril's "Commentary on Luke" did not survive in Greek. But a very literal translation into Syriac was discovered in 1842 among the manuscripts from the Syrian monastery in the Nitrian desert in Egypt which had been brought back to the UK by Archdeacon Tattam. Long fragments also existed in the catena-commentaries published by Cramer, and by Angelo Mai. Robert Payne Smith edited the text and produced the translation. The process made clear to him the need for a proper Syriac dictionary, and his name is associated with Syriac studies forever because he produced the definitive one. The Nitrian manuscript was in two volumes. It had become mutilated during the centuries, and the final few leaves were missing, as well as odd other ones.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO S. LUKE,
NOW FIRST TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH
R. PAYNE SMITH, M. A.,
SUBLIBRARIAN OF THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY,
When I undertook the task of preparing for the press the Syriac Version of S. Cyril's Commentary upon the Gospel of S. Luke, discovered among the manuscripts lately obtained from Egypt, and deposited in the British Museum, I was aware that my labours would be of little practical benefit, unless I also made it accessible to theologians generally by means of an English translation. In the performance of this duty, my chief assistance has been derived from the Nova Bibliotheca Patrum of Cardinal Mai, published in 1844-58 at Rome: for so miserably defective is even the best Syriac Lexicon, that it has repeatedly happened that I have only been able to arrive with something like certainty at the meaning of a passage, by waiting until I found in some extract in Mai the equivalent in Greek of the word or phrase in question. Wherever this help has failed, I have carefully examined the use of words, in other Semitic dialects, or in the numerous Syriac works which during the last few years have issued from the press, and in which I had been in the habit of noting the occurrence of all new and unusual terms. To |iv have discussed these difficulties in notes, would have been only to crowd my pages with matter not generally interesting, and for which, I trust, I shall hereafter have a more fitting opportunity. I think, however, that I can safely say, that in no case have I come to a conclusion except upon reasonable grounds, and that, after due allowance made for possible errors, my translation will be found to convey a correct and adequate representation of the original work.
Of the value of the Commentary, I shall probably not be considered an impartial judge: still my conviction is, that it can scarcely fail of being regarded as an important addition to our means of forming an accurate judgment of what was the real teaching of one of the most famous schools of thought in the early Church. It has not indeed gained entire acceptance; its philosophy was too deep, its creed too mysterious, its longings too fervently fixed upon the supernatural, for the practical mind of the West readily to assent to doctrines which mock rather than exercise the powers of even the subtlest reason. And while the names of its doctors have become household words with us, and we owe to their labours the establishment of the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity in its main outlines as we hold it at present, still the student of Church History is aware, that in many minor, though still important particulars, the teaching of the Alexandrine school was in excess of what we at present hold. The Athanasian Creed does not embody the actual tenets of Athanasius, nor of the other great masters of Alexandria, except in the form in which they were modified and altered by the influence of rival schools: and |v in like manner S. Cyril, the inheritor at once of Athanasius' throne, and of his views, often uses arguments which the Monophysites could fairly claim as giving a colour to their belief, that after the union of the two natures in Christ it was no longer lawful to distinguish their separate limits.
It was the Nestorian controversy which called out the argumentative powers and the fiery zeal of S. Cyril; and it is certainly true that in that controversy he used Nestorius unfairly, taxing him with deductions, which, however logically they might seem to follow from his opponent's teaching, yet Nestorius himself expressly denied: but it is not true that the controversy led him into statements of doctrine beyond what his predecessors in the see of Alexandria had taught. For constantly what he opposed to his rival's views was the very doctrine of S. Athanasius; and the passage which he quotes in his treatise De recta Fide, ad Imperatrices, from that father's treatise on the Incarnation of Christ, is never exceeded in any of his own dogmatic statements. Its words are as follow:---- ὁμολογοῦμεν, καὶ εἶναι αὐτὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ θεὸν κατὰ πνεῦμα, υἱὸν ἀνθρώπου κατὰ σάρκα· οὐ δύο φύσεις τὸν ἕνα υἱὸν, μίαν προσκυνητὴν καὶ μίαν ἀπροσκύνητον· ἀλλὰ μίαν φύσιν τοῦ θεοῦ λόγου σεσαρκωμένην καὶ προσκυνουμένην μετὰ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ μίᾳ προσκυνήσει. This was S. Athanasius' doctrine, this also was S. Cyril's; and it is only a falsification of the facts of history to endeavour to bring the Alexandrine school into verbal accordance with the decrees of the general council of Chalcedon. The doctrine which prevailed there was that of the rival school of Antioch, which had always firmly stood by the literal interpretation of |vi the plain letter of Scripture; a sound, judicious, common-sense school, which had never depth enough to have fought the battle of the Arian heresy with the profoundness of conviction which gave such undying energy to the great chiefs of Alexandria; but which nevertheless had under Providence its due place in the Church, and corrected the tendency of Athanasius and Cyril to a too immoderate love of the supernatural and mysterious.
That S. Cyril however felt that there was no insuperable barrier between the two schools is shown by his reconciliation with John of Antioch, and their signing common articles of faith. For essentially both Cyril and John of Antioch held the mean between the extremes of Nestorius and Eutyches; only Cyril's leaning was towards Eutyches, John's towards Nestorius. And when subsequently the council of Chalcedon, A. D. 451, modified, happily and wisely, the decrees of the previous general council of Ephesus, A. D. 431, and adopted as their standard of faith the teaching of the Antiochian school as embodied in the famous Epistola Flaviana of Leo, Pope of Rome, they acknowledged this substantial agreement between Antioch and Alexandria,----between themselves and the council of Ephesus,----by their declaration that Λέων εἶπε τὰ τοῦ Κυρίλλου,----that what Leo wrote was the same that Cyril taught. And that in the main they were right this present Commentary will shew; for S. Cyril's doctrine in it is essentially moderate. There are indeed passages in which he apparently confounds the limits of the two natures in Christ, but many more in which he gives to each its proper attributes, and bears witness to the existence of both |vii the godhead and the manhood in the one person of our Lord, inseparable, yet unconfused.
But when Mai would go further, and deny that the Monophysites had any ground for claiming S. Cyril's authority in their favour, his uncritical turn of mind at once betrays him: for he rests chiefly upon the treatise De Incarnatione Domini, Nov. Bib. Pat. ii. 32-74:, ascribed by him to S. Cyril upon the testimony of a MS. in the Vatican. But independently of other internal evidence that this piece was written subsequently to the council of Chalcedon, it is absolutely impossible that Cyril could ever have adopted the very keystone and centre of Nestorius' teaching, the doctrine I mean of a συνάφεια (pp. 59, 71), a mere juxtaposition, or mechanical conjunction of the two natures in Christ, in opposition to a real union.
In the West, under the guiding minds of Augustine and Ambrose, the council of Chalcedon met at once with ready acceptance; but not so in the East. It was there that the controversy had been really waged against Arius, and the reaction from his teaching led many of the fathers into overstrained arguments which ended in heresies, ejected one after another from the Church. As in the process of fermentation there is a thick scum upon the surface while the work of purification is going on below, so each extraneous element, after mingling for a time with the great mass of Christian truth, was at length rejected with an ease or difficulty proportioned to the intense-ness of its admixture with sounder doctrines. And thus the general orthodoxy and invaluable services of the Alexandrine school caused whatever there was of |viii exaggeration in their views long and violently to resist this purifying process in those parts of the world which had been the nearest witnesses of their struggles in defence of the doctrine of the consubstantial nature of the Son. Up to the time also of the council ofChalcedon the language of the Fathers had been vague and confused: and the expression of S. John i. 14, that "the Word was made flesh;" as it had led the Arians to affirm that the Logos was a created being, so it had led orthodox Fathers to speak as if Christ's human body was "very God." And thus the Monophysites could count up a long array of all the great names in the Church, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clemens of Rome, Irenaeus, Melito of Sardes, Felix and Julius of Rome, the Gregories, Athanasius, Basil, and many more, who had confounded in Christ the human with the divine. With such authorities on their side the conflict was long and dubious, and in Justinian's time they seemed likely to gain the ascendancy: for the Pope then was the mere creature of simony, and consequently there was nothing to balance the tendencies of the Eastern Church. Accordingly in A. D. 533 Justinian, though nominally opposed to their tenets, decreed that "one of the holy and consubstantial Trinity was crucified:" and twenty years after, the fifth general council of Constantinople authoritatively ratified the same doctrine. But in the subsequent weak reign of Justin, the Patriarch of Constantinople, John the Jurist, thwarted by the Monophysite monks whom Theodora had planted in the capital, took such vigorous measures against the leaders of the party, that their principles have since exercised no appreciable influence in the Church. |ix
As the Monophysites had only pushed to excess the tendencies of the Alexandrine school----and it must be remembered that they are by no means to be confounded with the Eutychians, according to the fashion of Church histories in general, whereas really they anathematized them ---- the above sketch may place the reader in a position to judge of the statements of S. Cyril regarding this doctrine,----a doctrine after all of metaphysical rather than of practical importance. But, as a general rule, he will find the Commentary written in a tone of moderation, as might be expected in homilies addressed by a teacher to his own people, far from the baleful atmosphere of controversy, and in a place where his views were in full and hereditary possession of the teacher's chair. There is too a practical tone throughout, and while in his interpretation of the Old Testament he follows the usual tendencies of the fathers to see nothing there but types and allegories, in the New he chiefly follows the obvious meaning, and considers each parable or narrative or discourse as a whole, the key of which he generally finds in the occasion which gave rise to it. He even warns us against pushing the minutiae of parables into too prominent a position, by means of which the machinery to enforce a moral lesson becomes the medium for conveying some cabbalistic mystery: as when, instead of inferring the certainty of our having to give an account of the use of our worldly means from the parable of Dives and Lazarus, commentators use it to unveil the secrets of the future world; or discover the two sacraments in the pence given by the Samaritan to the host at the inn. |x
Like many other patristic Commentaries, it was delivered in a course of short Sermons, preached extemporaneously: for so we may conclude, not only from the opening sentences of Sermon III, and the reiteration of favourite texts, but also from their evidently being quoted from memory. Repeatedly S. Cyril's reading agrees neither with the Septuagint nor with any other Greek version of the Old Testament, though occasionally he (apparently) purposely follows Theodotion. In the New Testament he was evidently most familiar with S. Matthew's Gospel, and not only does he make his ordinary quotations from it, but even introduces its readings into the Commentary, after correctly giving S. Luke's text at the head of the Sermon. And as increased attention is now being paid to the collection of the various readings of Holy Scripture contained in the works of the fathers, the caution may not be out of place, that certainly in S. Cyril, and probably in the patristic writings generally, no importance is to be attached to the substitution of the words and phrases of one Gospel for those of another.
In the headings however placed before each Sermon, we have a most valuable addition to our materials for biblical criticism: for evidently they give us the received Alexandrine text as it was read in the beginning of the fifth century; and that S. Cyril was fully aware of the importance of correctness on this head is evident from his constant allusions to the readings of the other Gospels. Its value however will best appear by a comparison between it and the chief extant authorities, and I have therefore collated it in the margin, 1°. with the readings of the great |xi Vatican MS. published posthumously by Cardinal Mai, and which I have marked as B.; 2°. with the seventh edition of Tischendorf, now in process of publication, T.; 3°. with Griesbach, G.; and, 4°. with the textus receptus, ς. I have not however considered it necessary to notice unimportant transpositions in the order of words, and where Griesbach is equally in favour of two readings, I have usually omitted his name; as also I have done with the Syriac, represented by S., in the few cases in which it corresponds as much with the one as with the other Greek reading. It will be noticed that in all cases I have represented the Syriac by its equivalent in Greek, which rule I have also followed wherever it has appeared expedient to give in the margin the original word; often however of course the Greek is actually taken from the remains in Mai.
The most cursory glance at the margin will shew that the high expectation naturally formed of the probable value of so ancient a text is fully carried out in fact. Its readings are almost always supported by one or other of the chief authorities, far more so than those of B. itself. And even where it seems to stand alone, an examination of the readings in Tischendorf will almost universally shew that there is a strong array of evidence in its support among the most valued MSS., while it contains nothing which modern criticism has definitely condemned. One observation is however necessary, namely, that the Syriac language indulges in a fuller use of pronouns even than our own; and though I have noticed in the margin their addition wherever they might possibly |xii exist in the Greek, yet, like those in italics in our own version, they are really not to be regarded as variae lectiones, but only as the necessary result of the idiom of the language.
It may however be asked, whether the Syriac translator may be depended upon in his rendering of the. original Greek text. To this I can answer unhesitatingly in the affirmative: wherever the Greek is extant in Mai's collection, the exactness with which it is reproduced in the Syriac without the slightest alteration of tense and number, and with the most curious expedients for rendering those compound words in which Greek delights, is marvellous. Wherever also Mai has misunderstood a passage, or wrongly punctuated a sentence, it is as a usual rule correctly given in the Syriac, and though occasionally it has erred, as in rendering σχοῖνος, in Jer. viii. 8, by "cord," whereas it really means "pen," still such instances are extremely rare.
At the same time the translator has been guilty of one fault, which I am the more anxious to mention, as otherwise it might be laid to my own charge, namely, that he has taken no care to render each quotation always in the same words. The most glaring instance of this occurs in Is. i. 23, where no less than three different renderings are given of "Thy princes are disobedient" one only of which is the exact equivalent of the Greek ἀπειθοῦσι, though none deviate far from it; while the Peschito gives a fourth word, the equivalent of the Hebrew "rebellious." Similarly the words σωρηρίους ἐπιφανείας in Amos v. 22, have greatly puzzled the Syriac translator, who renders |xiiithem sometimes by "your appearances for salvation," sometimes "the salvation of your appearances," the language not admitting of a literal rendering on account of its scanty use of adjectives. And though the same Greek text naturally suggested to the translator the same Syriac rendering, still he has not troubled himself about maintaining verbal identity in the various places in which the same text occurs. For my own part, originally I made an entry of each text upon translating it, for the purpose of retaining as much verbal accuracy as possible; but when I found these variations in the Syriac, I gave up the attempt, and following the same plan as my predecessor, have contented myself with carefully rendering each text as it occurred, without comparing it with previous translations, and I think it will be found that neither of us have gone far astray from the exact sense of the original.
I need scarcely mention after the above, that the Syriac translator does not take his quotations from the Peschito. Of course in the Old Testament this was impossible, as that version represents, not the Septuagint, but the Hebrew. For the same reason, the use of our own version was equally an impossibility to myself, since, as is well known, the Greek differs too considerably from the Masoretic text, of which ours is a translation, for one to be at all the equivalent of the other. I am by no means however prepared to join in the general condemnation of the Septuagint, stamped as it is by the approval of our Lord and His apostles; and though parts of it are done far less efficiently than the rest, |xiv yet whoever neglects it throws away one of the most important means for attaining to a knowledge of the original Scriptures; and I know of no more difficult question than the adjudication between the vocalising and arrangement of the Hebrew text as represented by the Septuagint, and that which gives us the subsequent tradition of the Jewish schools. Not that there is the slightest room for doubting the authenticity and genuineness in all substantial points of the Scriptures of the Old Testament; for the question affects only the vowels and the division of words; and the vowels in Semitic languages are not so important as in those of the Indo-Germanic family. To the present day no Jewish author ever expresses them in writing, though they have so far adopted modern customs as no longer to string their consonants together in one unbroken line. Necessarily, however, under such circumstances reading in ancient times was a matter of no slight difficulty, and hence the dignity of the profession of the scribe, and the wonder of the Jews at our Lord and His apostles possessing the requisite knowledge. The Septuagint therefore possesses especial value, as being both the first attempt at fixing the meaning of the uncertain elements in the Hebrew language, and as dating prior to the establishment of Christianity: and though Jewish tradition subsequently grew more exact, and eliminated many mistakes into which the authors of the Septuagint had fallen, still the fact that these subsequent labours of the Jewish schools first found their expression in the version of Aquila, who had deserted Christianity, and published his translation as a rival |xv to the Septuagint, and certainly with no kindly intention towards the religion which he had abandoned, may well make us hesitate before we so unceremoniously decry a version, the mistakes of which can be ascribed to nothing worse than simple inefficiency. That from such hands and under such auspices the Masoretic text is so trustworthy, and so free from any real ground of suspicion, entirely as regards its consonants, and to a great extent as regards its vowels, is the result, under God's Providence, of the extreme reverence of the Jews for the letter of those ordinances which had been entrusted to their keeping, since the Christian Church was by no means aware of the importance of an exact inquiry into the true meaning of the earlier Scriptures, and contented itself with receiving what the Jews provided for its use; even Jerome himself scarcely giving us more than what his Jewish masters taught him, and Origen's knowledge of Hebrew being about as much as could be expected from the time it took him to acquire it.
In the New Testament the case was different: for of course it was just possible there to have used the words of our authorized Version. But so to have done would have brought me into constant opposition to my text; for I had not the Greek before me, but a Syriac rendering of it, punctuated to an extreme degree of nicety, and fixing the meaning to one definite sense. It seemed therefore my only honest course to reproduce as exactly as I could the version of the Syriac translator. Whether I should myself in all cases have given the same meaning to the original |xvi Greek is an entirely distinct thing; for the duty of a translator is not to give his own views, but those of his author. Still, as the memory naturally suggested the language of the authorized Version, it will no doubt be found to have exercised no little influence upon the words which I have used.
But it seemed to me expedient for another reason to reproduce as exactly as possible the renderings of the Syriac translation. For the perfecting of the English translation of the Inspired Word is one of the noblest tasks which the mind of man can undertake: and though there may be evils attendant upon interfering with our present noble Saxon Version, still none can be so great as its being regarded by a gradually increasing proportion of the community as deficient in correctness. To commission however any body of scholars, however competent, to undertake a completely new version, or at present even a general revision of what we have, would be, in my opinion, at least premature. The controversy ought to be carried on in a region distinct from the book which we use in our worship and devotion: and such at present is the case, the attempts at improvement being made by individuals, and not by any constituted authority. When, however, there has been gained a sufficient mass of results generally received, the time will have come for the proper steps to be taken for admitting them into the authorized version. And possibly in the New Testament the labours of so many scholars and commentators may in a few years bring matters to such a pass as may justify the proper authorities in undertaking its revision: but in |xvii the Old Testament the case is very different, and a lengthened period of far more profound study of Hebrew literature than at present prevails, carried on by many different minds, is required before anything more could be done than to bring the translation in a few unimportant particulars nearer to the Masoretic text.
In the present translation, therefore, I have used the utmost exactness in rendering all quotations from Holy Scripture, in the hope that it might not be without is value to shew in what way the New Testament was understood and rendered by so competent and ancient an authority as the Syriac translator of this present work.
It remains now only to mention the relation in which the Syriac Version of the Commentary stands to the Greek remains collected by Mai, and of which I have given a translation wherever the MS. of the Syriac was unfortunately defective.
As early then as the year 1838 Mai had shewn the great value of this Commentary by the extracts published in the tenth volume of his Auctores Classici: and from that time he laboured assiduously in making his collection as complete as possible, until at length in the 2nd vol. of his Bib. Pat. Nova, the fragments gathered by him from twelve different Catenae, together with a Latin translation, occupy more than 300 quarto pages.
But the critical acumen of Mai was by no means commensurate with his industry. With the usual fault of collectors, the smallest amount of external |xviii evidence was sufficient to override the strongest internal improbability: nor apparently did his reading extend much beyond those Manuscripts, among which he laboured with such splendid results. At all events, though Cyril was an author whom he greatly valued, not only does he ascribe to the Commentary a vast mass of matter really taken from Cyril's other works, but even numerous extracts from Theophylact, Gregory Nazianzen, and other writers, whose style and method of interpretation are entirely opposed to the whole tenor of Cyril's mind.
Although it scarcely belonged to my undertaking to sift these extracts, yet, as it might have thrown a suspicion upon the genuineness of the Syriac Version to find it unceremoniously rejecting nearly a third of what Mai had gathered, I have in most cases indicated the work or author to whom the rejected passages belong. A few still remain unaccounted for; but as the principle of Niketas, the compiler of the chief Catena upon S. Luke, confessedly was to gather from all Cyril's works whatever might illustrate the Evangelist's meaning, and as in so doing he often weaves two, or even three distinct extracts into one connected narrative, it is no wonder if it was more easy to gather such passages than to restore the disjecta membra to their original position. Several extracts also which escaped me at the time have since met my eye, of which the only one of importance is the remarkable explanation of the two birds at the cleansing of the leper, conf. Com. on Luke v. 14, and which is taken from a letter of Cyril to Acacius. |xix
But the value of the Commentary does not arise simply from the uncertainty attaching to what Mai has gathered, but also from the superior form in which it gives what really is Cyril's own. As a general rule, the Catenists give conclusions without premisses, striking statements separated from the context which defines their meaning, results as true generally which are only true particularly, or which at least are greatly modified by the occasion which led to them. As it is moreover the manner of the Catenists often to introduce extracts by a summary of what precedes them, or where their length precluded their admission to give an abstract of them in briefer words, it often happens that a passage really Cyril's is followed in Mai by an abstract of itself taken from some smaller Catena: and thus an amount of confusion and repetition is occasioned which contrasts unfavourably with the simplicity of arrangement and easiness of comprehension which prevail throughout the Commentary itself.
Nevertheless Mai probably took the best course in confining himself to the simple collection of materials: and at all events his works are carefully edited, punctuated intelligibly, and translated with very considerable correctness. No one, in using his very voluminous works, however much he may be inclined to regret his want of critical ability, will accuse him of an inefficient treatment of the materials before him. The very reverse is the case with the other Catena which I have used, and which was edited by Dr. Cramer.
In itself it is of considerable intrinsic value, but is |xx entirely untranslateable, except by one who will take the trouble of restoring the text, and entirely altering Dr. Cramer's punctuation.
In conclusion, I have to return my thanks to the Delegates of the University Press for undertaking both the publication of the Syriac Version of S. Cyril's Commentary, and also of the present English translation.
Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 1-11. (Luke 1:1-3:23) pp.1-48.
Miscellaneous fragments on Luke c. 1
COMMENTARY OF S. CYRIL,
PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA,
THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE.
In saying that the Apostles were eyewitnesses of the substantial and living Word, the Evangelist agrees with John, who says, that "the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled in us, and His glory was seen, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father." For the Word became capable of being seen by reason of the flesh, which is visible and tangible and solid: whereas in Himself He is invisible. And John again in his Epistle says, "That which was from the beginning, That which we have heard, That which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled around the Word of Life, and the Life became manifest." Hearest thou not that he speaks of the Life as capable of being handled? This he does that thou mayest understand that the Son became man, and was visible in respect of the flesh, but invisible as regards His divinity.1 |2
The arm enigmatically signifies the Word that was born of her: and by the proud, Mary means the wicked demons who with their prince fell through pride: and the Greek sages, who refused to receive the folly, as it seemed, of what was preached: and the Jews who would not believe, and were scattered for their unworthy imaginations about the Word of God. And by the mighty she means the Scribes and Pharisees, who sought the chief seats. It is nearer the sense, however, to refer it to the wicked demons: for these, when openly claiming mastery over the world, the Lord by His coining scattered, |3 and transferred those whom they had made captive unto His own dominion. For those things all came to pass according to her prophecy, that
Great used to he the haughtiness of these demons whom He scattered, and of the devil, and of the Greek sages, as I said, and of the Pharisees and Scribes. But He put them down, and exalted those who had humbled themselves under their mighty hand, "having given them authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy:" and made the plots against us of these haughty-minded beings of none effect. The Jews, moreover, once gloried in their empire, but were stripped of it for their unbelief; whereas the Gentiles. who were obscure and of no note, were for their faith's sake exalted.
By the hungry, she means the human race: for, excepting the Jews only, they were pining with famine. The Jews, however, were enriched by the giving of the law, and by the teaching of the holy prophets. For "to them belonged the giving of the law, the adoption of sons, the worship, the promises." But they became wanton with high feeding, and too elate at their dignity; and having refused to draw near humbly to the Incarnate One, they were sent empty away, carrying nothing with them, neither faith nor knowledge, nor the hope of blessings. For verily they became both outcasts from the earthly Jerusalem, and aliens from the glorious life that is to be revealed, because they received not the Prince of Life, but even crucified the Lord of Glory, and abandoned the fountain of living water, and set at nought the bread that came down from heaven. And for this reason there came upon them a famine severer than any other, and a thirst more bitter than every thirst: for it was not a famine of the material bread, nor a thirst of water, "but a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord." But the heathen, who were hungering |4 and athirst, and with their soul wasted away with misery, were filled with spiritual blessings, because they received the Lord. For the privileges of the Jews passed over unto them.
He hath taken hold of Israel,----not of the Israel according to the flesh, and who prides himself on the bare name, but of him who is so after the Spirit, and according to the true meaning of the appellation;----even such as look unto God, and believe in Him, and obtain through the Son the adoption of sons, according to the Word that was spoken, and the promise made to the prophets and patriarchs of old. It has, however, a true application also to the carnal Israel; for many thousands and ten thousands of them believed. "But He has remembered His mercy as He promised to Abraham:" and has accomplished what He spake unto him, that "in thy seed shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed." For this promise was now in the act of fulfilment by the impending birth of our common Saviour Christ, Who is that seed of Abraham, in Whom the Gentiles are blessed. "For He took on Him the seed of Abraham," according to the Apostle's words: and so fulfilled the promise made unto the fathers.
The word horn is used not only for power, but also for royalty. But Christ, Who is the Saviour that hath risen for us from the family and race of David, is both: for He is the King of kings, and the invincible power of the Father.
Christ is mercy and justice: for we have obtained mercy through Him, and been justified, having washed away the stains of wickedness through faith that is in Him.
But let no one accustom himself to swear from hearing that God sware unto Abraham. For just as anger, when spoken of |5 God, is not anger, nor implies passion, but signifies power exercised in punishment, or some similar motion; so neither is an oath an act of swearing. For God does not swear, but indicates the certainty of the event,----that that which He says will necessarily come to pass. For God's oath is His own word, fully persuading those that hear, and giving each one the conviction that what He has promised and said will certainly come to pass.
Observe, I pray, this also, that Christ is the Highest, Whose forerunner John was both in his birth, and in his preaching. What remains, then, for those to say, who lessen 3 His divinity? And why will they not understand, that when Zacharias said, "And thou shalt be called Prophet of the Highest," he meant thereby "of God," of Whom also were the rest of the prophets.
For those under the law, and dwelling in Judea, the Baptist was, as it were, a lamp, preceding Christ: and God so spake before of him; "I have prepared a lamp for My Christ." And the law also typified him in the lamp, which in the first tabernacle it commanded should be ever kept alight. But the Jews, after being for a short time pleased with him, flocking to his baptism, and admiring his mode of life, quickly made him sleep in death, doing their best to quench the ever-burning lamp. For this reason the Saviour also spake concerning him; "He was a burning and shining lamp, and ye were willing a little to rejoice for a season in his light." |6
For the world, indeed, was wandering in error, serving the creation in the place of the Creator, and was darkened over by the blackness of ignorance, and a night, as it were, that had fallen upon the minds of all, permitted them not to see Him, Who both by nature and truly is God. But the Lord of all rose for the Israelites, like a light and a sun. |7
From the Syriac, MS. 12,154.
Christ therefore was born in Bethlehem at the time when Augustus Caesar gave orders that the first enrolment should be made. But what necessity was there, some one may perhaps say, for the very wise Evangelist to make special mention of this? Yes, I answer: it was both useful and necessary for him to mark the period when our Saviour was born: for it was said by the voice of the Patriarch: "The head shall not depart from Judah, nor a governor from his thighs until He come, for Whom it is laid up: and He is the expectation of the Gentiles." That we therefore might learn that the Israelites had then no king of the tribe of David, and that their own native governors had failed, with good reason he makes mention of the decrees of Caesar, as now having beneath his sceptre Judaea as well as the rest of the nations: for it was as their ruler that he commanded the census to be made.
The book of the sacred Gospels referring the genealogy to Joseph, who was descended from David's house, has proved through him that the Virgin also was of the same tribe as David, inasmuch as the Divine law commanded that marriages should be confined to those of the same tribe: and the interpreter of the heavenly doctrines, the great apostle Paul, clearly declares the truth, bearing witness that the Lord arose out of Juda. The natures, however, which combined unto this real union were different, but from the two together is one God |8 the Son,4 without the; diversity of the natures being destroyed by the union. For a union of two natures was made, and therefore we confess One Christ, One Son, One Lord. And it is with reference to this notion of a union without confusion that we proclaim the holy Virgin to be the mother of God, because God the Word was made flesh and became man, and by the act of conception united to Himself the temple that He received from her. For we perceive that two natures, by an inseparable union, met together in Him without confusion, and indivisibly. For the flesh is flesh, and not deity, even though it became the flesh of God: and in like manner also the Word is God, and not flesh, though for the dispensation's sake He made the flesh His own. But although the natures which concurred in forming the union are both different and unequal to one another, yet He Who is formed from them both is only One: nor may we separate the One Lord Jesus Christ into man severally and God severally, but we affirm that Christ Jesus is One and the Same, acknowledging the distinction of the natures, and preserving them free from confusion with one another.
The sacred Evangelist says that Mary was betrothed to Joseph, to shew that the conception had taken place upon her betrothal solely, and that the birth of the Emanuel was miraculous, and not in accordance with the laws of nature. For the holy Virgin did not bear from the immission of man's seed. And what was the reason of this? Christ, Who is the first-fruits of all, the second Adam according to the Scriptures, was born of the Spirit, that he might transmit the grace (of the spiritual birth) to us also: for we too were intended, no longer to bear the name of sons of men, but of God rather, having obtained the new birth of the Spirit in Christ first, that he might be "foremost among all," as the most wise Paul declares.
And the occasion of the census most opportunely caused the holy Virgin to go to Bethlehem, that we might see another |9 prophecy fulfilled. For it is written, as we have already mentioned, "And thou Bethlehem, house of Ephratah, art very small to be among the thousands of Judah: from thee shall come forth for Me to be Ruler in Israel!"
But in answer to those who argue that, if He were brought forth in the flesh, the Virgin was corrupted: and if she were not corrupted, that He was brought forth only in appearance, we say; the prophet declares, "the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in and gone out, and the gate remaineth closed." If, moreover, the Word was made flesh without sexual intercourse, being conceived altogether without seed, then was He born without injury to her virginity.
In what sense then her firstborn? By firstborn she here means, not the first among several brethren, but one who was both her first and only son: for some such sense as (his exists among the significations of "firstborn." For sometimes also the Scripture calls that the first which is the only one; as "I am God, the First, and with Me there is no other." To shew then that the Virgin did not bring forth a mere man, there is added the word firstborn; for as she continued to be a virgin, she had no other son but Him Who is of the Father: concerning Whom God the Father also proclaims by the voice of David, "And I will set Him Firstborn high among the kings of the earth." Of Him also the all-wise Paul makes mention, saying, "But when He brought the First-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him." How then did He enter into the world? For He is separate from it, not so much in respect of place as of nature; for it is in nature that He differs from the inhabitants of the world: but He entered into it by being made man, and becoming a portion of it by the incarnation. For though He is the Only-begotten as regards His divinity, yet as having become our brother, He has also the name of Firstborn; that, being made the first-fruits as it were of the adoption of men, He might; make us also the sons of God.
Consider therefore that He is called the Firstborn in respect of the economy: for with respect to His divinity He is the |10 Only-begotten. Again, He is the Only-begotten in respect of His being the Word of the Father, having no brethren by nature, nor being co-ordinate with any other being: for the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, is One and Alone: but He becomes the Firstborn by descending to the level of created things. When therefore He is called the Only-begotten, He is so with no cause assigned by reason of which He is the Only-begotten, being "the Only-begotten God 5 into the bosom of the Father:" but when the divine Scriptures call Him Firstborn, they immediately also add of whom He is the firstborn, and assign the cause of His bearing this title: for they say, "Firstborn among many brethren:" and "Firstborn from the dead:" the one, because He was made like unto us in all things except sin; and the other, because He first raised up His own flesh unto incorruption. Moreover, He has ever been the Only-begotten by nature, as being the Sole begotten of the Father, God of God, and Sole of Sole, having shone forth God of God, and Light of Light: but He is the Firstborn for our sakes, that by His being called the Firstborn of things created, whatever resembles Him may be saved through Him: for if He must of necessity be the Firstborn, assuredly those must also continue to exist of whom He is the Firstborn. But if, as Eunomius 6 argues, He is called God's Firstborn, as born the first of many; and He is also the Virgin's Firstborn; then as regards her also, He must be the first as preceding another child: but if He is called Mary's Firstborn, as her only child, and not as preceding others, then is He also God's Firstborn, not as the first of many, but as the Only One born.
Moreover if the first are confessedly the cause of the second, but God and the Son of God are first, then is the Son the cause of those who have the name of sons, inasmuch as it is through Him that they have obtained the appellation. He therefore who is the cause of the second sons may justly be called the |11 Firstborn, not as being the first of them, but as the first cause of their receiving the title of sonship. And just as the Father being called the first----"for I, He saith, am the first, and I am after these things"----assuredly will not compel us to regard Him as similar in nature to those that are after Him; so also though the Son be called the first of creation, or the Firstborn before all creation, it by no means follows that He is one of the things made: but just as the Father said "I am the first," to shew that He is the origin of all things, in the same sense the Son also is called the first of creation. "For all things were made by Him," and He is the beginning of all created things, as being the Creator and Maker of the world 7.
He found man reduced to the level of the beasts: therefore is He placed like fodder in a manger, that we, having left off our bestial life, might mount up to that degree of intelligence which befits man's nature; and whereas we were brutish in soul, by now approaching the manger, even His own table, we find no longer fodder, but the bread from heaven, which is the body of life. |12
LET me begin my discourse to you with that which is written in the book of Psalms, "Come let us praise the Lord, and sing unto God our Saviour:" for He is the Head of our feast-day, and therefore let us tell His noble doings, and |13 relate the manner of that beautifully contrived dispensation, by means of which He has saved the world, and having placed on each one of us the yoke of His kingdom, is justly the object of our admiration. The blessed David therefore says in the Psalms, "All ye people clap your hands;" and again adds thereto, "Sing with understanding, God hath set a king over all the heathen." For this holy mystery was wrought with a wisdom most befitting Christ, if it be true, as true most certainly it is, that the Lord, though He is God, appeared unto us, and though He is in the form of God the Father, and possesses an incomparable and universal preeminence, took the likeness of a slave. But even so He was God and Lord; for He did not cease to be that which He had been.
The company of the holy prophets had before proclaimed both His birth in the flesh, and His assumption of our likeness as about in due time to come to pass: and inasmuch as this hope had now reached its fulfilment, the rational powers of heaven bring the glad tidings of His manifestation and appearance in this world, to shepherds first of all at Bethlehem, who were thus the earliest to receive the knowledge of the mystery. And the type answers to the truth: for Christ reveals Himself to the spiritual shepherds, that they may preach Him to the rest, just as the shepherds also then were taught His mystery by the holy angels, and ran to bear the glad tidings to their fellows. Angels therefore are the first to preach Him, and declare His glory as God born in the flesh in a wonderful manner of a woman.
But perchance some one may object to this; "that He Who was now born was still a child, and wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger: how then did the powers above praise Him as God?" Against such our argument stands firm. Understand, O man, the depth of the mystery! God was in visible form like unto us: the Lord of all in the likeness of a slave, albeit the glory of lordship is inseparable from Him. Understand that the Only-begotten was made flesh; that He endured to be born of a woman for our sakes, to put away the curse pronounced upon the first woman: for to her it was said, "In pains shalt thou bring forth children:" for it was as bringing forth unto death, that they endured the sting of |14 death 8. But because a woman has brought forth in the flesh the Immanuel, Who is Life, the power of the curse is loosed, and along with death have ceased also the pains that earthly mothers had to endure in bringing forth.
Wouldst thou learn also another reason of the matter? Remember what the very wise Paul has written of Him. "For as to the powerlessness of the law, wherein it was weak through the flesh, God having sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and because of sin, has condemned 9 the sin in His flesh, that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit 10." What then is the meaning of his saying that the Son was sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh?" It is this. The law of sin lies hidden in our fleshly members, together with the shameful stirring of the natural lusts: but when the Word of God became flesh, that is man, and assumed our likeness, His flesh was holy and perfectly pure; so that He was indeed in the likeness of our flesh, but not according to its standard. For He was entirely free from the stains and emotions natural to our bodies 11, and from that inclination which leads us to what is not lawful.
When therefore thou seest the child wrapped in swaddling-clothes, stay not thy thought solely upon His birth in the flesh, but mount up to the contemplation of His godlike glory: elevate thy mind aloft: ascend to heaven: so wilt thou behold |15 Him in the highest exaltation, possessed of transcendent glory; thou wilt see Him "set upon a throne high and lifted up;" thou wilt hear the Seraphim extolling Him in hymns, and saying that heaven and earth are full of His glory. Yea! even upon earth this has come to pass: for the glory of God shone upon the shepherds, and there was a multitude of the heavenly armies telling Christ's glory. And this it was which was proclaimed of old by the voice of Moses, "Rejoice, ye heavens, with Him, and let all the sons 12 of God worship Him." For very many holy prophets had been born from time to time, but never had any one of them been glorified by the voice of angels: for they were men, and according to the same measure as ourselves, the true servants of God, and bearers of His words. But not so was Christ: for He is God and Lord, and the Sender of the holy prophets, and, as the Psalmist says, "Who in the clouds shall be compared unto the Lord, and who shall be likened unto the Lord among the sons of God?" For the appellation of sonship is bestowed by Him as of grace upon us who lie under the yoke, and are by nature slaves: but Christ is the true Son 13, that is, He is the Son of God the Father by nature, even when He had become flesh: for He continued, as I have said, to be that which He had ever been, though He took upon Him that which He had not been.
And that what I say is true, the prophet Isaiah again assures us, saying, "Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel; butter and honey shall He eat: before He knoweth or chooseth the evil, He shall prefer the good: for before the Child distinguisheth good or evil, He is not obedient to evil in that He chooseth the good." And yet how is it not plain to all, that a new-born babe, as yet unable, from its youth and tenderness, to understand anything, is unequal to the task of distinguishing between good and evil? For he knows absolutely nothing. But in our Saviour Christ it was a great and extraordinary miracle: for He ate while yet a babe both butter and honey. And because He was God, ineffably made flesh, He knew only |16 the good, and was exempt from that depravity which belongs to man. And this too is an attribute of the supreme Substance; for that which is good by nature, firmly and unchangeably, belongs specially to It, and It only; "for there is none good, but one God," as the Saviour has Himself said.
Wouldst thou see another virtue of the Child? Wouldst thou see that He is by nature God, Who in the flesh was of woman? Learn what the prophet Isaiah says of Him: "And I drew near unto the prophetess, and she conceived, and bare a male; and the Lord said unto me, Call His name, Quick take captive, and spoil hastily.14 For before the Child shall know to call father or mother, He shall take the strength of Damascus." For contemporaneously with the birth of Christ the power of the devil was spoiled. For in Damascus he had been the object of religious service, and had had there very many worshippers; but when the holy Virgin brought forth, the power of his tyranny was broken; for the heathen were won unto the knowledge of the truth; and their firstfruits and leaders were the Magi, who came from the East to Jerusalem; whose teacher was the heaven, and their schoolmaster a star.
Look not therefore upon Him Who was laid in the manger as a babe merely, but in our poverty see Him Who as God is rich, and in the measure of our humanity Him Who excels the inhabitants of heaven, and Who therefore is glorified even by the holy angels. And how noble was the hymn, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and among men good will!" For the angels and archangels, thrones and lordships, and high above them the Seraphim, preserving their settled order, are at peace with God: for never in any way do they transgress His good pleasure, but are firmly established |17 in righteousness and holiness. But we, wretched beings, by having set up our own lusts in opposition to the will of our Lord, had put ourselves into the position of enemies unto Him. But by Christ this has been done away: for He is our peace; for He has united us by Himself unto God the Father, having taken away from the middle the cause of the enmity, even sin, and so justifies us by faith, and makes us holy and without blame, and calls near unto Him those who were afar off: and besides this, He has created the two people into one new man, so making peace, and reconciling both in one body to the Father. For it pleased God the Father to form into one new whole all things in Him, and to bind together things below and things above, and to make those in heaven and those on earth into one flock. Christ therefore has been made for us both Peace and Goodwill; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be glory and honour and might with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.15 |18
VERY numerous indeed is the assembly, and earnest the hearer:----for we see the Church full:----but the teacher is but poor. He nevertheless Who giveth to man a mouth and tongue, will further supply us with good ideas.17 For He somewhere says Himself, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." Since therefore ye have all come together eagerly on the occasion of this joyous festival 18 of our Lord, let us with cheerful torches brightly celebrate the feast, and apply ourselves to the consideration of what was divinely fulfilled, as it were, this day, gathering for ourselves from every quarter whatsoever may confirm us in faith and piety.
But recently we saw the Immanuel lying as a babe in the manger, and wrapped in human fashion in swaddling bands, but extolled as God in hymns by the host of the holy angels. For they proclaimed to the shepherds His birth, God the Father having granted to the inhabitants of heaven as a special privilege to be the first to preach Him. And to-day too we have seen Him obedient to the laws of Moses, or rather we have seen Him Who as God is the Legislator, subject to His |19 own decrees. And the reason of this the most wise Paul teaches us, saying, "When we were babes we were enslaved under the elements of the world; but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born 19 of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." Christ therefore ransomed from the curse of the law those who being subject to it, had been unable to keep its enactments. And in what way did He ransom them? By fulfilling it. And to put it in another way: in order that He might expiate the guilt of Adam's transgression, He showed Himself obedient and submissive in every respect to God the Father in our stead: for it is written, "That as through the disobedience of the One man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One, the many shall be made just." He yielded therefore His neck to the law in company with us, because the plan of salvation so required: for it became Him to fulfil all righteousness. 20 For having assumed the form of a slave, as being now enrolled by reason of His human nature among those subject to the yoke, He once even paid the half shekel to the collectors of the tribute, although by nature free, and as the Son not liable to pay the tax. |20 When therefore them seest Him keeping the law, be not offended, nor place the free-born among the slaves, but reflect rather upon the profoundness of the plan of salvation.
21 Upon the arrival, therefore, of the eighth day, on which it was customary for the circumcision in the flesh to be performed according to the enactment of the law, He receives His Name, even Jesus, which by interpretation signifies, the Salvation of the people. For so had God the Father willed that His Son should be named, when born in the flesh of a woman. For then especially was He made the salvation of the people, and not of one only, but of many, or rather of every nation, and of the whole world. He received His name, therefore, on the same occasion on which He was circumcised.
But come, and let us again search and see, what is the riddle, and to what mysteries the occurrence directs us. The blessed Paul has said, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing." To this it is probable that some may object, Did the God of all then command by the all-wise Moses a thing of no account to be observed, with a punishment decreed against those that transgressed it? Yes, I say: for as far as regards the nature of the thing, of that, I mean, which is done in the flesh, it is absolutely nothing, but it is pregnant with the graceful type of a mystery, or rather contains the hidden manifestation of the truth. For on the eighth 22 day Christ arose from the dead, and gave us the spiritual circumcision. For He commanded the holy Apostles: "Having gone, make ye disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And we affirm that the spiritual circumcision takes place chiefly in |21 the season of holy baptism, when also Christ makes us partakers of the Holy Ghost. And of this again, that Jesus of old, who was captain after Moses, was a type. For he first of all led the children of Israel across the Jordan: and then having halted them, immediately circumcised them with knives of stone. So when we have crossed the Jordan, Christ circumcises us with the power of the Holy Ghost, not purifying the flesh, but rather cutting off the defilement that is in our souls.
On the eighth day, therefore, Christ is circumcised, and receives, as I said, His Name: for then, even then, were we saved by Him 23 and through Him, "in Whom, it saith, ye were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands in the putting off of the fleshly body, with Christ's circumcision, having been buried together with Him in baptism, wherein also ye were raised with Him." His death, therefore, was for our sakes. as were also His resurrection and His circumcision. For He died, that we who have died together with Him in His dying unto sin, may no longer live unto sin: for which reason it is said, "If we have died together with Him, we shall also live together with Him." And He is said to have died unto sin, not because He had sinned, "for He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth," but because of our sin. Like as therefore we died together with Him when He died, so shall we also rise together with Him.
Again, when the Son was present among us, though by nature God and the Lord of all, He does not on that account despise our measure, but along with us is subject to the same law, although as God He was Himself the legislator. Like the Jews, He is circumcised when eight days old, to prove His descent from their stock, that they may not deny Him. For Christ was expected of the seed of David, and offered them the proof of His relationship. But if even when He was circumcised they said, "As for This man, we know not whence He is;" there |22 would have been a show of reason in their denial, had He not been circumcised in the flesh, and kept the law.
But after His circumcision, the rite was done away by the introduction of that which had been signified by it, even baptism: for which reason we are no longer circumcised. For circumcision seems to me to have effected three several ends: in the first place, it separated the posterity of Abraham by a sort of sign and seal, and distinguished them from all other nations. In the second, it prefigured in itself the grace and efficacy of Divine baptism; for as in old time he that was circumcised, was reckoned among the people of God by that seal, so also he that is baptized, having formed in himself Christ the seal, is enrolled into God's adopted family. And, thirdly, it is the symbol of the faithful when established in grace, who cut away and mortify the tumultuous risings of carnal pleasures and passions by the sharp surgery of faith, and by ascetic labours; not cutting the body, but purifying the heart, and being circumcised in the spirit, and not in the letter: whose praise, as the divine Paul testifies, needs not the sentence of any human tribunal, but depends upon the decree from above. 24
After His circumcision, she next waits for the time of her purification: and when the days were fulfilled, and the fortieth was the full time, God the Word, Who sitteth by the Father's side, is carried up to Jerusalem, and brought into the Father's presence in human nature like unto us, and by the shadow of the law is numbered among the firstborn. For even before the Incarnation the firstborn were holy, and consecrated to God, being sacrificed to Him according to the law. 25 O! how great and wonderful is the plan of salvation! "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" He Who is in the bosom of the Father, the Son Who shares His throne, and is coeternal with Him: by Whom all things are divinely brought into existence, submitted nevertheless to the measure of human nature, and even offered a sacrifice to His own Father, although adored by all, and glorified with |23 Him. And what did He offer? As the firstborn and a male a pair of turtles, or two young doves, according to what the law prescribed. But what does the turtle signify? And what too the other, the dove? Come, then, and let us examine this. The one, then, is the most noisy of the birds of the field: but the other is a mild and gentle creature. And such did the Saviour of all become towards us, shewing the most perfect gentleness, and like a turtle moreover soothing the world, and filling His own vineyard, even us who believe in Him, with the sweet sound of His voice. For it is written in the Song of Songs, "The voice of the turtle has been heard in our land." For Christ has spoken to us the divine message of the Gospel, which is for the salvation of the whole world.
Turtles, therefore, and doves were offered, when He presented Himself unto the Lord, and there might one see simultaneously meeting together the truth and the types. And Christ offered Himself for a savour of a sweet smell, that He might offer us by and in Himself unto God the Father, and so do away with His enmity towards us by reason of Adam's transgression, and bring to nought sin that had tyrannized over us all. For we are they who long ago were crying, "Look upon me, and pity me." 26 |24
27 The prophet Isaiah says, "Beautiful are the feet of them that bring good tidings of good:" and what could there be so sweet to learn as that God has saved the world by the mediation of the Son, in that He was made like unto us? For it is written, "that there is one God, and one Mediator of God and men, the Man Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself a ransom for us." For of His own accord He descended to our poverty, that He might make us rich by our gaining what is His. Behold Him therefore as one in our estate presented unto the Father, and obedient to the shadows of the law, offering sacrifice moreover according to what was customary, true though it be that these things were done by the instrumentality of His mother according to the flesh. Was He then unrecognised by all at Jerusalem, and known to none dwelling there? How could this be the case? For God the Father had before proclaimed by the holy prophets, that in due season the Son would be manifested to save them that were lost, and to give light to them that were in darkness. By one too of the holy prophets He said, "My righteousness approacheth quickly, and My mercy to be revealed, and My salvation shall burn as a torch. But the mercy and righteousness is Christ: for through Him have we obtained mercy and righteousness, having washed away our filthy vileness by faith that is in Him. And that which a torch going before them is to those in night and darkness, this has Christ become for those who are in mental gloom and darkness, implanting in them the divine light. For this reason also the blessed prophets prayed to be made partakers of His great grace, saying, "Shew us Thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation." |25
Christ 28 therefore was carried into the temple, being yet a little child at the breast: and the blessed Symeon being endowed with the grace of prophecy, takes Him in his arms, and filled with the highest joy, blessed God, and said; "Lord, now lettest 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 the nations, the Gentiles' light for revelation, and a glory of Thy people Israel." For the mystery of Christ had been prepared even before the very foundation of the world, but was manifested in the last ages of time, and became a light for those who in darkness and error had fallen under the devil's hand. These were they "who serve the creation instead of the Creator," worshipping moreover the dragon, the author of evil, and the impure throng of devils, to whom they attach the honour due unto God: yet were they called by God the Father to the acknowledgment of the Son Who is the true light. Of them in sooth He said by the voice of Isaiah, "I will make signs unto them, and receive them, because I will ransom them, and they shall be multiplied, as they were many: and I will sow them among the nations, and they who are afar off shall remember Me." For very many were they that were astray, but were called through Christ: and again they are many as they |26 were before; for they have been received and ransomed, having obtained as the token of peace from God the Father, the adoption into His family and the grace that is by faith in Jesus Christ. And the divine disciples were sown widely among the nations: and what is the consequence? Those who in disposition were far from God, have been made near. To whom also the divine Paul sends an epistle, saying, "Now ye who some time were afar off have been made near in the blood of Christ." And having been brought near, they make Christ their glorying: for again, God the Father has said of them, "And I will strengthen them in the Lord their God, and in His Name shall they glory, saith the Lord." This also the blessed Psalmist teaches, speaking as it were unto Christ the Saviour of all, and saying, "Lord, they shall walk in the light of Thy countenance, and in Thy Name shall they exult all the day, and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted: for Thou art the glorying of their strength." And we shall find also the prophet Jeremiah calling out unto God, "Lord, my strength and my help, and my refuge in the day of my evils, to Thee shall the heathen come from the end of the earth, and say, Our fathers took unto themselves false idols, in which there is no help."
Christ therefore became the Gentiles' light for revelation: but also for the glory of Israel. For even granting that some of them proved insolent, and disobedient, and with minds void of understanding, yet is there a remnant saved, and admitted unto glory through Christ. And the firstfruits of these were the divine disciples, the brightness of whose renown lightens the whole world.
And in another sense Christ is the glory of Israel, for He came of them according to the flesh, though He be "God over all, and blessed for evermore, Amen."
And Symeon blesseth also the holy Virgin as the handmaid of the divine counsel, and the instrument of the birth that submitted not itself to the laws of human nature. For being a virgin she brought forth, and that not by man, but by the power of the Holy Ghost having come upon her.
29 And what does the prophet Symeon say of Christ? "Behold This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be spoken against." For the |27 Immanuel is set by God the Father for the foundations of Sion, "being a stone elect, chief of the corner, and honourable." Those then that trusted in Him were not ashamed: but those who were unbelieving and ignorant, and unable to perceive the mystery regarding Him, fell, and were broken in pieces. For God the Father again has somewhere said, "Behold I lay in Sion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, and He that believeth on It shall not be ashamed; but on whomsoever It shall fall, It will winnow him." But the prophet bade the Israelites be secure, saying, "Sanctify the Lord Himself, and He shall be thy fear: and if thou trust upon Him, He shall be thy sanctification, nor shall ye strike against Him as on a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence." Because however Israel did not sanctify the Emmanuel Who is Lord and God, nor was willing to trust in Him, having stumbled as upon a stone because of unbelief, it was broken in pieces and fell. But many rose again, those, namely, who embraced faith in Him. For they changed from a legal to a spiritual service: from having in them a slavish spirit, they were enriched with That Spirit Which maketh free, even the Holy Ghost: they were made partakers of the divine nature: they were counted worthy of the adoption of sons: and live in hope of gaining the city that is above, even the citizenship, to wit, the kingdom of heaven.
And by the sign that is spoken against, he means the precious Cross, for as the most wise Paul writes, "to the Jews it is a stumbling-block, and foolishness to the heathen." And again, "To them that are perishing it is foolishness: but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God unto salvation." The sign therefore is spoken against, if to those that perish it seem to be folly; while to those who acknowledge its power it is salvation and life.
And Symeon further said to the holy Virgin, "Yea, a sword shall go through thy own soul also," meaning by the sword the pain which she suffered for Christ, in seeing Him |28 Whom she brought forth crucified; and not knowing at all that He would be more mighty than death, and rise again from the grave. Nor mayest thou wonder that the Virgin knew this not, when we shall find even the holy Apostles themselves with little faith thereupon: for verily the blessed Thomas, had he not thrust his hands into His side after the resurrection, and felt also the prints of the nails, would have disbelieved the other disciples telling him, that Christ was risen, and had shewed Himself unto them,
The very wise Evangelist therefore for our benefit teaches us all things whatsoever the Son, when He was made flesh, and consented to bear our poverty, endured for our sakes and in our behalf, that so we may glorify Him as our Redeemer, as our Lord, as our Saviour, and our God: 30 by Whom and with Whom to God the Father and the Holy Ghost be the glory and the power for over and ever, Amen.31 |29
TO say that the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him, must be taken as referring to His human nature. And examine, I pray you, closely the profoundness of the dispensation: the Word endures to be born in human fashion, although in His divine nature He has no beginning nor is subject to time: He Who as God is all perfect, submits to bodily growth: the Incorporeal has limbs that advance to the ripeness of manhood: He is filled with wisdom Who is Himself all wisdom. And what say we to this? Behold by these things Him Who was in the form of the Father made like unto us: the Rich in poverty: the High in humiliation: Him said to "receive," Whose is the fulness as God. So thoroughly did God the Word empty Himself! For what things are written of Him as a man shew the manner of the emptying. For it were a thing impossible for the Word begotten of God the Father to admit ought like this into His own nature: but when He became flesh, even a man like unto us, then He is born according to the flesh of a woman, and is said also to have been subject to the things that belong to man's state: and though the Word as being God could have made His flesh spring forth at once from the womb unto the measure of the perfect man, yet this would have been of the nature of a portent: and therefore He gave the habits and laws of human nature power even over His own flesh.
32 Be not therefore offended, considering perchance within thyself, How can God increase? or how can He Who gives grace to angels and to men receive fresh wisdom? Rather reflect upon the great skill wherewith we are initiated into His mystery. For the wise Evangelist did not introduce the Word in His abstract and incorporeal nature, and so say of Him that |30 He increased in stature and wisdom and grace, but after having shewn that He was born in the flesh of a woman, and took our likeness, he then assigns to Him these human attributes, and calls Him a child, and says that He waxed in stature, as His body grow little by little, in obedience to corporeal laws. And so He is said also to have increased in wisdom, not as receiving fresh supplies of wisdom,----for God is perceived by the understanding to be entirely perfect in all things, and altogether incapable of being destitute of any attribute suitable to the Godhead:----but because God the Word gradually manifested His wisdom proportionably to the age which the body had attained.
The body then advances in stature, and the soul 33 in wisdom: for the divine nature is capable of increase in neither one nor the other; seeing that the Word of God is all perfect. And with good reason he connected the increase of wisdom with the growth of the bodily stature, because the divine nature revealed its own wisdom in proportion to the measure of the bodily growth.
After the Evangelist had said, that Jesus advanced in wisdom and grace with God and men, he next shews that what he says is true: for he carries Him to Jerusalem in company with the holy Virgin, upon the summons of the feast: and then he says that He remained behind, and was afterwards found in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors both asking and answering questions regarding those things, as we may feel sure, which were spoken of old by the law: and that He was wondered at by all for His questions and answers. Thou seest Him advancing in wisdom and grace, by reason of His becoming known unto many as being what He was. |31
His mother certainly knew that He was not the child of Joseph, but she so speaks to avoid the suspicions of the Jews. And upon her saying, that "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing," the Saviour answers;
Here then first He makes more open mention of Him Who is truly His Father, and lays bare His own divinity: for when the holy Virgin said, Child, why hast Thou so done unto us? then at once shewing Himself to transcend the measure of human things, and teaching her that she had been made the handmaid of the dispensation in giving birth to the flesh, but that He by nature and in truth was God, and the Son of the Father That is in heaven, He says, Did ye not know that I must be at My Father's? 34 Here let the Valentinians, when they hear that the temple was God's, and that Christ was now at His own, Who long before also was so described in the law, and represented as in shadows and types, feel shame in affirming, that neither the Maker of the world, nor the God of the law, nor the God of the temple, was the Father of Christ.35 |32
The blessed Isaiah was not ignorant of the scope of John's preachings, but of old, even long before the time, bearing witness of it, he called Christ Lord and God: but John he styled His minister and servant, and said that he was a lamp advancing before the true light, the morning star heralding the sun, foreshowing the coming of the day that was about to shed its rays upon us: and that he was a voice, not a word, forerunning Jesus, as the voice docs the word.36
John, being chosen for the Apostleship, was also the last of the holy prophets: for which reason, as the Lord was not yet come, he says, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. And what is the meaning of "Prepare ye the way of the Lord?" It is put for, Make ready for the reception of whatever Christ may wish to enact: withdraw your hearts from the shadow of the law: cease from the types: think no more perversely. "Make the paths of our God straight." For every path that leadeth unto good is straight and smooth and easy: but the other is crooked that leadeth down to wickedness them that walk therein. For of such it is written, "Whose paths are crooked, and the tracks of their wheels awry." Straightforwardness therefore of the mind is as it were a straight path, having no crookedness. Such was the divine Psalmist's character, who thus sings, "A crooked heart hath not cleaved unto me." And Jesus,37 the son of Nun, in exhorting the people, said, "Make |33 straight your hearts unto the God of Israel:" while John cries, "Make straight your ways." And this means, that the soul must be straight, displaying its natural intuition as it was created: and it was created beautiful and very straight. But when it turns aside, and its natural state is perverted, this is called vice, and the perversion of the soul. The matter therefore is not very difficult: for if we continue as we are made, we shall be virtuous. 38
But when some one, as it were, exclaims against us, saying, How shall we prepare the way of the Lord? or how make His paths straight? for there are many impediments in the way of those that will live well,----Satan, who hates all that is beautiful, the unholy throng of wicked spirits, the law of sin itself that is in our fleshly members, and which arms itself against the inclinations of the mind to what is good, and many other passions besides, that have mastery over the mind of man:----what then shall we do, with so great difficulty pressing upon us? The word of prophecy meets these objections, saying, Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked way shall become straight, and the rough ways shall become smooth: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." 39
And all flesh did see the salvation of God, even of the Father: for He sent the Son to be our Saviour. And in these words by "flesh," man generally is to be understood, that is, the whole human race. For thus all flesh shall see the salvation of God: no longer Israel only, but all flesh. For the gentleness of the Saviour and Lord of all is not limited, nor did He save one nation merely, but rather embraced within His net the whole world, and has illuminated all who were in darkness. And this is what was celebrated by the Psalmist's lyre, "All the nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord." While at the same time the remnant of the Israelites is saved, as the great Moses also long ago declared, saying, "Rejoice ye nations with His people." |34
WE affirm therefore that the blessed Baptist, as being full of the Holy Ghost, was not ignorant of the daring acts that Jewish wickedness would venture against Christ. For he foreknew that they would both disbelieve in Him, and wagging their envenomed tongue, would pour forth railings and accusations against Him: accusing Him at one time of being born of fornication; at another, as one who wrought His miracles by the help of Beelzebub, prince of the devils: and again, as one that had a devil, and was no whit better than a Samaritan. Having this therefore in view, he calls even those of them who repent wicked, and reproves them because, though they had the law speaking unto them the mystery of Christ, and the predictions of the prophets relating thereunto, they nevertheless had become dull of hearing, and unready for faith in Christ the Saviour of all. "For who hath warned you to flee from the coining wrath?" Was it not the inspired Scripture, which tells the happiness of those who believe in Christ, but forewarns those who believe not, and are ignorant, that they will be condemned to severe and inevitable punishment?
Moreover, the fruit of repentance is, in the highest degree, faith in Christ: and next to it, the evangelic mode of life, and in general terms the works of righteousness in contradistinction to sin, which the penitent must bring forth as fruits worthy of repentance. And he has added; "Begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father: for I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." You see how most skilfully he humbles their foolish pride, and shews that their being born of Abraham according to the flesh is useless for their profit. For of |35 what benefit is nobility of birth, if men practise not the like earnest deeds, nor imitate the virtue of their ancestors? For the Saviour says unto them, "if ye were Abraham's children, ye would have done the works of Abraham." The relationship which God requires is one in character and manners: so that it is a vain thing to boast of holy and good parents, while we fall far short of their virtue.
But, says the Jew, if this be so, in what way is the send of Abraham still to be multiplied, and the promise made to him of God hold true, of which the terms are, that "He will multiply his seed as the stars of heaven?" By the calling of the Gentiles, O Jew: for it was said to Abraham himself, that "in Isaac shall a seed for thee be called:" and that "I have set thee as a father of many nations." But the phrase "in Isaac" means, According to promise. He is set therefore as a father of many nations by faith, that is to say, in Christ. And of these it was that God spake also by the voice of Ezekiel: "And I will take away out of their flesh the heart of stone, and will give them a heart of flesh, that they may know Me, that I am the Lord."
And the blessed Baptist apparently calls them stones, because they as yet knew not Him Who is by nature God, but were in error, and in their great folly worshipped the creation instead of the Creator: but they were called, and became the sons of Abraham, and acknowledged, by believing in Christ, Him Who is by nature God.
But that he may benefit in a still higher degree those that hear him, the blessed Baptist brings forward something more: "But already even the axe is laid at the root of the trees." But by the axe in this passage he signifies the sharp wrath which God the Father brought upon the Jews for their wickedness towards Christ, and audacious violence: for the wrath was brought upon them like an axe. And this the prophet Zecharias has explained to us, saying, "The wailing of Jerusalem shall be as the wailing of a grove of pomegranate trees cut down in the plain." And Jeremiah also addressing her, said, "The Lord called thy name a beautiful olive tree, very leafy to behold: at the sound of its felling, a fire was kindled upon it: great was the lamentation over it: its branches |36 have been made unserviceable: and the Lord of hosts That planted thee hath uttered evils against thee." And to this thou mayest add also the parable in the Gospels about the fig-tree. As being therefore a plant unfruitful, and no longer of generous kind, it was cut down by God. He does not, however, say that the axe was laid into the root, but at the root, that is, near the root. For the branches were cut off, but the plant was not dug up by its root: for the remnant of Israel was saved, and did not perish utterly.
THE blessed Luke has introduced three classes of men making inquiry of John,----the multitudes, the publicans, and, thirdly, the soldiers: and as a skilful physician applies to each malady a suitable and fitting remedy, so also the Baptist gave to each mode of life useful and becoming counsel, bidding the multitudes in their course towards repentance practise mutual kindness: for the publicans, he stops the way to unrestrained exactions: and very wisely tells the soldiers to oppress no one, but be content with their wages. |37
IT is written, that "a just father will bring up (his children) excellently." For those who are clad in the glory of the righteousness that is by Christ, and are acquainted with His sacred commands, will train up excellently and piously those who are their sons in the faith, giving them not the material bread of earth, but that which is from above, even from heaven. Of which bread the admirable Psalmist also makes mention, where he says, "Bread establisheth man's heart, and wine rejoiceth man's heart." Let us therefore now also establish our hearts: let our faith in Christ be assured, as we correctly understand the meaning of those evangelic writings now read unto us. "For when the people, it says, were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts of John, whether he were not the Christ, he answered them in the words which we have just heard read." |38
They had beheld with admiration the incomparable beauty of John's mode of life: the splendour of his conduct: the unparalleled and surpassing excellence of his piety. For so great and admirable was he, that even the Jewish populace began to conjecture whether he were not himself the Christ, Whom the law had described to them in shadows, and the holy prophets had before proclaimed. Inasmuch therefore as some ventured on this conjecture, he at once cuts away their surmise, declining as a servant the honours due to the Master, and transferring the glory to Him Who transcends all, even to Christ. For he knew that He is faithful unto those that serve Him. And what he acknowledges is in very deed the truth: for between God and man the distance is immeasurable. "Ye yourselves, therefore, he says, bear me witness that I said I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him." But where shall we find the holy Baptist thus speaking? In the Gospel of John, who has thus spoken concerning him; "And this is the testimony of John when the scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem sent to ask him whether he were the Christ. And he confessed, and denied not, and said, that I am not the Christ, but am he that is sent before Him." Great therefore and admirable in very deed is the forerunner, who was the dawning before the Saviour's meridian splendour, the precursor of the spiritual daylight, beautiful as the morning star, and called of God the Father a torch.
Having therefore thus declared himself not to be the Christ, he now brings forward proofs, which we must necessarily consider, and by which we may learn how immeasurable the distance evidently is between God and man, between the slave and the Master, between the minister and Him Who is ministered unto, between him who goes before as a servant, and Him Who shines forth with divine dignity. What, therefore, is the proof? "I indeed baptize in water: after me shall come He Who is mightier than I, Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." As I said, therefore, the difference is incomparable, the superiority immeasurable, if, as is the case, the blessed Baptist, being so great in virtue, declares that he is not worthy even, as it were, to touch His shoes. And his declaration is true: for if the rational powers above, |39 principalities, and thrones, and lordships, and the holy Seraphim themselves, who stand around His godlike throne, holding the rank of ministers, unceasingly crown Him with praises as the Lord of all, what dweller upon earth is worthy even to be nigh unto God? For though He be loving unto man, and gentle, and mild, yet must we, as being of slight account, and children of earth, confess the weakness of our nature.
And after this, he again brings forward a second proof, saying, "I indeed baptize you in water: but He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire." And this too is of great importance for the proof and demonstration that Jesus is God and Lord. For it is the sole and peculiar property of the Substance That transcends all, to be able to bestow on men the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and make those that draw near unto It partakers of the divine nature. But this exists in Christ, not as a thing received, nor by communication from another, but as His own, and as belonging to His substance: for "He baptizes in the Holy Ghost." The Word therefore That became man is, as it appears, God, and the fruit of the Father's substance. But to this, it may be, those will object who divide the one Christ into two sons,----those I mean who, as Scripture says, are "animal, and dividers, and having not the Spirit,"----that He Who baptizes in the Holy Ghost is the Word of God, and not He Who is of the seed of David. What answer shall we make, then, to this? Yes! we too affirm, without fear of contradiction, that the Word being God as of His own fulness bestows the Holy Ghost on such as are worthy: but this He still wrought, even when He was made man, as being the One Son with the flesh united to Him in an ineffable and incomprehensible manner. For so the blessed Baptist, after first saying, "I am not worthy to stoop down "and loose the thong 42 of His shoes," immediately added, |40"He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire;" plainly while having feet for shoes. For no one whose mind was awake would say, that the Word, while still incorporeal, and not as yet made like unto us, had feet and shoes, but only when He had become a man. Inasmuch, however, as He did not then cease to be God, He wrought even so works worthy of the Godhead, by giving the Spirit unto them that believe in Him. For He, in one and the same person, was at the same time both God and also man.
But yes, he objects, the Word wrought the works of Deity by means of Him Who is of the seed of David. If so then thou arguest, we will repeat to thee in answer the words of John; for he somewhere said unto the Jews, "There cometh after me a man Who was before me, because He is before me: and I knew Him not, but He That sent me to baptize in water, He said unto me, Upon Whom thou seest the Spirit descending from heaven, and abiding upon Him, This is He That baptizeth in the Holy Ghost: and I saw, and bare witness, that This is the Son of God." Behold, therefore, while plainly calling Him a man, he says that He is prior to him, and was before him, in that He is first, evidently in His divine nature; according to what was plainly said by Himself to the Jewish populace, "Verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am."
Next, he says as well, that the Spirit also came down from heaven upon Him. Do they pretend that the Holy Ghost came down upon the Word of God while still abstract and incorporeal? and represent Him Who bestows the Spirit as made partaker of His own Spirit? Or rather is this their meaning, that having received the Spirit in His human nature, He in His divine nature baptizes in the Holy Ghost? For He is Himself singly, and alone, and verily the Son of God the Father, as the blessed Baptist, being taught of God, himself bare witness, saying, "And I saw, and bare witness that This is the Son of God!" 43 |41
Wouldst thou have also a third proof, in addition to what have already been given? "His fan," he says, "is in His hand, and He shall purge His floor, and gather His wheat into His stores, but the chaff He shall burn with fire unquenchable." For he compares those upon earth to ears of corn, or rather to the threshingfloor and the wheat upon it: for each one of us has grown like an ear of corn. And our Lord once, when speaking to the holy Apostles, made a similar comparison of our state: "The harvest indeed is great: but the labourers are few: pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into His harvest." We therefore, who are upon the earth, are called ears of corn and wheat, and the harvest. And this harvest belongs to God over all: for He is Lord of all. But behold! says the blessed Baptist, the threshing floor belongs to Christ as its owner; for as such He purges it, removing and separating the chaff from the wheat. For the wheat is the just, whose faith is established and assured: but |42 the chaff signifies those whose mind is weak, and their heart easy to be ensnared, and unsafe and timorous, and blown about by every wind. The wheat, then, he says, is stored up in the granary: is deemed worthy, that is, of safety at God's hand, and mercy, and protection and love: but the chaff, as useless matter, is consumed in the fire.
In every way, therefore, we may perceive that the Word of God, even when He was man, nevertheless continued to be one Son. 44 For He performs those works that belong to Deity, possessing the majesty and glory of the Godhead inseparable from Him. If so we believe, He will crown us with His grace: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be glory and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.45 |43
[From the Syriac MS. 12,165.]
AGAIN come, that fixing our mind intently upon the Evangelic Scriptures, we may behold the beauty of the truth. Come let us direct the penetrating and accurate eyes of the mind unto the mystery of Christ; let us view with wonder the admirable skill of the divine economy: for so shall we see His glory. And thus to act is for our life: as He Himself assures us, when speaking unto God the Father in heaven, "Those things are life eternal: to know Thee Who alone art true; and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent." How therefore was He sent? and what was the manner of His coming unto us? For being by nature God That filleth all, how, as the blessed John the Evangelist said, "was He in the world," Himself being Lord? And how was He sent by the Father, when as God He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things? for all things were established by Him.
The wise John the Evangelist then teaches us, saying, "And the Word was made flesh." But perchance some one will say, 'What then? Having ceased to be the Word, did |44 He change into being flesh? Did He fall from His Majesty, having undergone a transformation unto something which previously He was not?' Not so, we say. Far from it. For by nature He is unchangeable and immutable. In saying, therefore, that the Word became flesh, the Evangelist means a man like unto us. For we also are often called flesh ourselves. For it is written, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God," meaning thereby that every man shall see it. While therefore He immutably retains that "which He was, yet as having under this condition assumed our likeness, He is said to have been made flesh.
Behold Him, therefore, as a man, enduring with us the things that belong to man's estate, and fulfilling all righteousness, for the plan of salvation's sake. And this thou learnest from what the Evangelist says: "And it came to pass that when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized, and prayed." Was He too then in need of holy baptism? But what benefit could accrue to Him from it? The Only-begotten Word of God is Holy of the Holy: so the Seraphim name Him in their praises: so every where the law names Him: and the company of the holy prophets accords with the writings of Moses. What is it that we gain by holy baptism? Plainly the remission of our sins. But in Jesus there was nought of this; "for He did no sin: neither was guile found "in His mouth," as the Scripture saith. "He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sins, and made higher than the heavens," according to the words of the divine Paul.
But yes! perchance some one will say, who has been ill instructed in the faith, 'Was it then God the Word that was baptized? Was He in need of being made partaker of the Holy Ghost? Not at all. Therefore it is that we affirm, that the man who was of the seed of David, and united unto Him by conjunction 47, was baptized and received the Spirit.' The |45Indivisible therefore is divided by you into two sous: and because He was baptized when, thirty years old, He was made holy, as you say, by being baptized. Was He therefore not holy until He arrived at His thirtieth year? Who will assent to you, when thus you corrupt the right and blameless faith? For "there is one Lord Jesus Christ," as it is written. But this we affirm: that He was not separate 48 from Him, and by Himself when baptized and made partaker of the Holy Ghost: for we know, both that He is God, and without stain, and Holy of the Holy: for we confess that "of His fulness have all we received." For the Holy Spirit indeed proceedeth from God the Father, but belongeth also to the Son. It is even often called the Spirit of Christ, though proceeding from God the Father. And to this Paul will testify, saying, at one time, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God: but ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any one have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." And again, "But because ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Father, our Father." The Holy Spirit therefore proceedeth indeed as I said from God the Father, but His Only-begotten Word, as being both by nature and verily Son, and resplendent with the Father's dignities, ministereth It to the creation, and bestoweth It on those that are worthy. Yea verily He said, "All things that the Father hath are mine."
But let us retort upon those who pervert the right belief this question; 'How can He Who received the Spirit, if He be, according to your phrase, a man, and the Son separately and by Himself, baptize with the Holy Ghost, and Himself give the Holy Spirit to them who are baptized?' For to be able to impart the Spirit to men suiteth not any one whatsoever of things created, but, together with God's other attributes, is the distinct property of Almighty God alone. But He Who gave It was man: for the wise John said, "After me cometh a Man, Who was before me . . . He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." As therefore it is unbefitting God the Word, |46 regarded as God the Word, to draw near unto holy baptism, and be made partaker of the Spirit, so in like manner it is altogether incredible, or rather impossible to believe that the ability to baptize men with the Holy Ghost, is the act of a mere man with nothing in Him superior to ourselves.
How then will the mystery be true? In that for our aid He assumed a kind of adaptation 49. The divine Word became man, even "He Who was in the form of God the Father, and thought it not robbery to be equal unto God," as most wise Paul says, "but took the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men, and humbling Himself to poverty." Enquire therefore Who He was that was first in the likeness of God the Father, and could be regarded as on an equality with Him, but took the form of a slave, and became then a man, and besides this made Himself poor. Was it He of the seed of David, as they argue, Whom they specially regard separately and by Himself as the other Son, distinct from the Word of God the Father? If so, let them shew that He ever was on an equality with the Father. Let them shew how He assumed the form of a slave. Or what shall we say was that form of a slave? And how did He empty Himself? For what is poorer than human nature? He therefore Who is the exact image of God the Father, the likeness, and visible expression of His person, Who shines resplendent in equality unto Him, Who by right of nature is free, and the yoke of Whoso kingdom is put upon all creation,----He it is Who took the form of a slave, that is, became a man, and made Himself poor by consenting to endure these human things, sin only excepted.
But how then, they object, was He baptized, and received also the Spirit? To which we reply, that He had no need of holy baptism, being wholly pure and spotless, and holy of the holy. Nor had He need of the Holy Ghost: for the Spirit That proceedeth from God the Father is of Him, and equal to Him in substance. We must now therefore at length hear what is the explanation of the economy. God in his love to man provided for us a way of salvation and of life. For believing in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and making this confession before many witnesses, we wash away all the filth |47 of sin, and are enriched by the communication of the Holy Spirit, and made partakers of the divine nature, and gain the grace of adoption. It was necessary therefore that the Word of the Father, when He humbled Himself unto emptiness, and deigned to assume our likeness, should become for our sakes the pattern and way of every good work. For it follows, that He Who in every thing is first, must in this also set the example. In order therefore that we may learn both the power itself of holy baptism, and how much we gain by approaching so great a grace, He commences the work Himself; and, having been baptized, prays that you, my beloved, may learn that never-ceasing prayer is a thing most fitting for those who have once been counted worthy of holy baptism.
And the Evangelist says that the heavens were opened, as having long been closed. For Christ said, "Forthwith shall ye see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." For both the flock above and that below being now made one, and one chief Shepherd appointed for all, the heavens were opened, and man upon earth brought near to the holy angels. And the Spirit also again came down as at a second commencement of our race: and upon Christ first, Who received it not so much for His own sake as for ours: for by Him and in Him are we enriched with all things. Most suitably therefore to the economy of grace does He endure with us the things of man's estate: for where otherwise shall we see Him emptied, Whose in His divine nature is the fulness? How became He poor as we are, if He were not conformed to our poverty? How did He empty Himself, if He refused to endure the measure of human littleness?
Having taken therefore Christ as our pattern, let us draw near to the grace of holy baptism, that so we may gain boldness to pray constantly, and lift up holy hands to God the Father, that He may open the heavens also unto us, and send down upon us too the Holy Ghost, to receive us as sons. For He spake unto Christ at the time of holy baptism, as though having by Him and in Him accepted man upon earth to the sonship, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." For He Who is the Son by nature and in truth, and the Only-begotten, when He became like unto us, is specially |48 declared to be the Son of God, not as receiving this for Himself:----for He was and is, as I said, very Son:----but that He might ratify the glory unto us. For He has been made our firstfruits, and firstborn, and second Adam: for which reason it is said, that "in Him all things have become new:" for having put oil the oldness that was in Adam, we have gained the newness that is in Christ: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be glory and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. 50
[Selected footnotes moved to the end and renumbered. Almost all marginalia, any purely textual footnotes, most Greek or Syriac material has been omitted without notice]
1. a There can be little doubt that this passage does not belong to the Commentary, but as I have hitherto been unable to find it in S. Cyril's Collected Works, I have thought it best to retain it. Mai's next extract on v. 32. is from the tenth Book against Julian, Op. VI. 331.; the following on v. 37. is the thirteenth, chapter against the Anthropomorphites, VI. 380.; and the third extract on v. 42. is the Commentary upon Issachar's name, signifying "a reward," in the Glaphyra, I. 227. (Ed. Aub.) All these I have omitted. The remaining extracts, forming a continuous Commentary upon the hymns of the blessed Virgin and Zacharias, I have retained, since it is scarcely probable that S. Cyril entirely passed them over; and, though the homilies, as proved by the Syriac, commenced with the first verse of chap, ii., yet possibly he may have prefaced them by an Exposition of these hymns. Cramer's Catena, nevertheless, contains portions of several of these extracts anonymously. The proof from the Syriac that the homilies began with the second chapter is decisive. Of the nine MSS. in which more or less of this Commentary is preserved, eight constantly mention the number of the homily, which they quote either in part or entire: in one of these, N°. 12, 154., a MS. probably of the eighth century, a series of extracts occurs occupying forty pages, beginning with the first and ending with the hundred and eighteenth homily; and the numbering of this Codex is identical with that of the rest, wherever two or more of them contain the same passage. The Syriac numbering apparently is also identical with that of the Greek. For in my earliest authority, Cod. 12,158, transcribed, as the Copyist states, in the year of our Lord 588., the numbering of the quotations from S.Cyril is still identical with that of the other Codices. This MS. contains a translation of two treatises of Severus of Antioch against Julian, and is probably at least a century anterior to the Syriac version of S. Cyril; so that its agreement with it, both in this and more material points, is of considerable importance. Evidently S. Cyril's Commentary upon the beginning of the Gospel was much more brief than it became subsequently: for whereas the twenty-first homily carries us down to the end of the fifth chapter, those that follow average ten homilies each. In like manner the concluding chapters of St. Luke were passed over by him very rapidly. Finally, as the Syriac, from time to time, does not recognise some of the passages collected by Mai from the Catenae, it is worth notice, that of his four first extracts, not less than three have been discovered in the published works of S.Cyril, incomplete as Aubert's edition is.
2. b Referred by Corderius to Victor.
3. c "He means the Arians, who said the Son was indeed God, but nevertheless inferior to the Father: as Eusebius, who was an Arian writer, especially in his interpretation of the 78th Psalm." Mai.----This charge against Eusebius, the late Professor Lee has endeavoured to disprove in the preface to his translation of the Theophania, a Syriac version of which was discovered among the Nitrian MSS. His translation is, however, inaccurate to the last degree; and the treatise in question leaves no doubt that Eusebius was the precursor of Arian doctrines.
4. d Θεὸς καὶ ὑιός, God the Son; as Θεὸς καὶ πατήρ is used by S. Cyril for God the Father. In the more ancient Syriac MSS. the conjunction in these phrases is constantly retained, while in those of a later date the tendency is to omit it.
5. e Mai translates contrary to the Greek "Unigenitius Dei."----S. Cyril's reading Θεός, agrees as usual with the Vatican MS., and is also supported by many of the fathers, and by the Oriental versions.
6. f Eunomius taught, that the Father and Son are unequal, both in degree and kind, whence his followers were called ἀνόμοιοι. He flourished about A. D. 360, and was a disciple of Aetius. St. Athanasius often refers to him in his treatise against the Arians. For a fuller account of him, cf. Newman's Arians, c. iv. sect. 4.
7. g For a very full and accurate discussion of the sense in which our Lord is both μονογενής and πρωτότοκος, the reader may consult S. Cyril's eighth Paschal Homily.
8. h Mai more correctly perhaps reads τῆς ἀνίας κέντρον.
9. i The Peschito has also this reading, though manifestly wrong.
10. k The passage which follows occurs also in MS. 12, 154, with no variae lectiones: as does also the subsequent explanation of Is. viii. 3.
11. l The Syriac translator has here misinterpreted S. Cyril, who does not say that our Lord was free from the emotions natural to bodies, but κινήματος καὶ ῥοπῆς τῆς ἡμᾶς ἀποφερούσης ἐφ̕ ἁ μὴ θέμις, that is, from that corruption of our nature which suggests sin to us, and inclines us to seek it. (James i. 14.) S. Cyril's main argument here is used by him with great force in his treatise De Incarnat. Dom. c. xi., wherein he shews, that our Lord took the flesh holy and perfectly pure, "to convict sin of injustice, and to destroy the power of death. For as long as sin sentenced only the guilty to death, no interference with it was possible, seeing that it had justice on its side. But when it subjected to the same punishment Him Who was innocent, and guiltless, and worthy of crowns of honour and hymns of praise, being convicted of injustice, it was by necessary consequence stripped of its power."
12. m This reading is supported by several MSS., two Scholia, and S. Augustine; but is rejected by St. Paul, Heb. i. 6.
13. n Mai reads ἡ ἀλήθεια, 'the reality.'
14. o The Fathers constantly refer this name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, to our Lord, and explain it of the overthrow of Satan. Another instance of S. Cyril's use of it will be found in his 17th Paschal Homily, as follows: The prophetess is the holy Virgin: and the name given to the child suiteth not man, but God: for, saith He, call His name. Spoil quickly: hastily plunder. For at His birth the heavenly and supernatural infant, while yet in swaddling bands and on His mother's bosom, because of His human nature, stripped forthwith Satan of his goods by His ineffable might as God: for the Magi came from the East to worship Him, &c.
15. p Several passages referred by Mai to this homily are not found in the Syriac, as was to be expected, the Catenists having made use not only of the Commentary, but also of S. Cyril's other works, especially the Julian books, besides the possibility of interpolations, and passages erroneously ascribed to him. The first omitted extract from B. is to shew that the shepherds typified the pastors of the Church, as also Christ the chief shepherd, Who came to seek the lost flock: while Bethlehem, the house of bread, His birthplace, is the Church, "where daily the mystical bread of life is sacrificed." The second passage (from what MS. is uncertain) gives a physical interpretation of the butter which the Emmanuel ate, unworthy of Cyril, and at variance with the spiritual interpretation of the prophecy given above. Thirdly, there are a series of extracts from I. taken chiefly from the Commentary on Isaiah. Conf. Vol. II. 134. 200. (Ed. Aub.) And, lastly, an extract from B., to the effect that probably it was an archangel who brought the message, accompanied by his usual attendants. The first passage is remarkable, both as speaking of a daily communion, and for its application of the word ἱερουργεῖταιto the "mystical bread of life." The Fathers generally use this word in the same manner as St. Paul, Rom. xv. 16., for the discharge of any religious duty, and in this sense it will be found to occur more than once in the course of the Commentary. Other examples may be seen in Suicer's Thesaurus under ἱερουργέω, and the only instance he gives of its application to the Lord's supper is from Zonaras, a writer of the twelfth century. It occurs, however, in Philostorgii Hist. Eccl. ix. 4., and is there referred by Valesius to the Lord's supper, but this interpretation is far from certain. For the historian is speaking of the heretic Eunomius, who, he says, retired to a small estate situated on the seashore near Chalcedon, οὐδὲ ἱερουργίας ἐξ οὗ τῆς Κυζίκου μετέστη οὐ μὲν οὖν ἐς ὅσον ἐνεβίω χρόνον ἥψατο. This Valesius translates by "ne saera quidem mysteria unquam celebravit;" but it rather means, that "he entirely abstained from all the duties of his sacred office." In support of his rendering Valesius quotes from Eusebius' Life of Constantine, Lib. IV. ... where, however, as Wernsdorf shews, by a comparison with other passages of Eusebius, that historian, in his usual rhetorical style, thus described the prayers for the safety of the Emperor, and the Church militant, which, as in our service, preceded the celebration of the Eucharist. The probability, therefore, is, that this extract is incorrectly referred to S. Cyril.
16. q The original Greek of both the third and fourth Sermons has been preserved in the Imperial Library at Paris; and that of the fourth only at Trinity College, Cambridge. The former has been printed by Aubert in his collected edition of S. Cyril's Works, Vol. V. part ii. p. 385., where the two Sermons are incorporated into one.
17. r From this it appears that these homilies were delivered extemporaneously, which accounts for a certain amount of repetition in them, especially of favorite texts.
18. s The feast of circumcision.
19. t I have not noticed the many verbal discrepancies between him and Aubert, as the Catenists naturally had to make many slight alterations in forming their extracts into a connected discourse.
20. u This passage, as far as "the plan of salvation," Mai for the present omits, but afterwards gives it in so different a form, and with such additions, that I think it better to append a separate translation. "Again He paid the half shekel to the collectors of the tribute, although not bound to pay, as being in very truth the Son: but He paid as being made under the law. For He must verily act fully according to the dispensation which He had undertaken for our sakes. And we shall find Him, moreover, even in the payment of the half shekel marked out as a Saviour and Redeemer (?). For the half shekel was a coin stamped with the royal image: and it was paid according to the law for two persons. Behold therefore again Christ represented in the half shekel. For being the image of the Father, the impress of His substance, the coin that came from heaven, He offered Himself as the ransom for the two people, the Jews, I mean, and the Gentiles." This fanciful style of interpretation seldom appears in the Syriac, and is equally rejected in the present case by Aubert's MS.
21. v This passage exists among the Syriac fragments, and is important in so far establishing the accuracy of Aubert's text, as it agrees with it in omitting an interpolation of the Catenist, found in Mai.
22. x So Justin Martyr's Dial. with Trypho. (p. 201. ed. F. Sylburgii, Heidelb. 1793.) "The ordinance of circumcision, which commanded infants to be circumcised on the eighth day only, was a type of the true circumcision from error and wickedness by means of the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ on the first day of the week. For the first day of the week, while remaining the first of all the days, is, nevertheless, in its relation to the whole circle of the week, called the eighth, and yet continues to be the first." So again, p. 288. "The ark, in which were eight persons, symbolizes by that number the eighth day, on which Christ arose from the dead."
23. y The next two or three paragraphs are not found in Aubert, but as they are in Mai's same MS. E, which contains most of the foregoing, and as it is possible that the Copyist of Aubert's MS. in reducing two Sermons into one, made large omissions to avoid the too great length, I have received them into the text.
24. z Mai's next extract is from the 15th book of the De Ador. Spir. l. 553 and is omitted.
25. a Aubert begins again here. The passage is also in the Aurea Catena, upon Luke ii. 24.
26. b A passage follows in Mai, either from E. or H., going over ground already traversed, and probably only a summary gathered from S. Cyril. It is valuable, nevertheless, as shewing how little idea the ancients had of the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin Mary: for it testifies that all women, except the Virgin, (αἱ ἄλλαι γυναῖκες,) conceived in sin, (ἐν ἀνομίαις.)
27. c The text is now taken from the Tr. Coll. MS. B. Q. 7. apparently of the 12th century. It is a volume of sermons, and among them has one with the following superscription: Κυρίλλου ἀρχεπισκπ. ἀλεξανδρείας, εἰς τὸν δίκαιον συμεὼν, καὶ ἐκ τῆς ἑρμηνείας τοῦ κατὰ λουκᾶν εὐαγγελίου· κε̃ εὐλο +
I owe my transcript to a friend, himself engaged in collecting and editing the Greek remains of this Father.
28. d Mai, whose extracts begin again at this clause, has admitted at the end of the first sentence an interpolation so curious, that I append it: "... and offered what is appointed in the law, a pair of turtles and two young pigeons, the type of temperance and gentleness, as well as also of each kind of life, marriage, namely, and celibacy, of both of which He is the Law-giver. For you may say that the active and more spiritual, who have taken upon themselves the single life, are the pigeons: but that those who occupy themselves with a family and other domestic cares are the turtle doves." As in the unworthy interpretation of the butter, referred to in the note at the end of the 2nd Sermon, it is impossible to say which MS. contains this interpolation, as the letters put by Mai at the commencement of each extract merely mean that those MSS. severally contain more or less of what follows. Immediately afterwards he has another passage, the false philosophy and bad Greek of which confirm its rejection by the two trustworthy MSS. It is to the effect, that Symeon was to be set free from the leaping-ground of life: for life is a ransom and prison. Upon the offering of the turtle doves, the reader may compare S. Cyril's explanation in the De Ador. Spir. Ed. Aub. I. 531. which agrees with the present Commentary.
29. Also in the Syriac. MS. 12,154.
30. g The doxology is taken from Aubert, and is identically the same with that which concludes every homily in the Syriac.
31. h Mai does not contain the above explanation of the sword that was to pierce the holy Virgin, but in its place has the following adaptation of it: "But to speak more briefly, we affirm that the sword here signifies the temptation like a knife, or even the passion itself brought upon the Immanuel by the madness of the Jews. And so the just Symeon seems to understand, and even to say. For the holy Virgin was all but killed by a sword in seeing Him That was born of her in the flesh crucified. Such also was that said by Zechariah (xiii. 7.): Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, that is, forthwith let the saving passion be enacted, and let the time of the shewing forth of good things come.To this Mai appends the following note: In codice B. f. 31. post σάρκα αδδιτυρ, καὶ ἀμφιγνοοῦσα εἴ γε καὶ θανάτου κρατήσει θανατωθείς: quam particulam de B. Virginis dubitatione circa futuram filii sui resurrectionem cum nec ceteri codices in Cyrillo habeant, nec pietas Christiana admittat, haud immerito praetermisimus: quamquam eadem legitur sub finem predictae homiliae in hypapantem," &c. The danger of such a method of treating MS. authority is shewn by the additional authority of the Tr. Cod., which completely agrees with Aubert, some slight verbal differences excepted.
32. From the Syriac: Ms. 12,151.
33. i That is, "the human soul:" for our Lord, being perfect man, had a human soul as well as a fleshly body, as we are taught in the Athanasian Creed, in opposition to the Apollinarian heresy "Of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting." And this human soul was capable of increasing in wisdom. This extract apparently is collected from what precedes.
34. l The style of the short extract that follows is entirely unlike Cyril's. Mai says, that the Catenae ascribe it to Origen as well as Cyril.
35. m Mai's next extract upon v. 52. may serve as an instance of the manner in which the Catenists joined with the utmost neatness passages from various works. It commences with S. Cyril's Commentary on John i. 14, Op. iv. 96: after which there follow a few lines, which may possibly be from the Commentary on Luke: and finally, we have the 28th assertion of the Thesaurus, Op. v. pt. i. 253. The doctrine of these extracts is nearly identical, all affirming that our Lord's increase in wisdom and stature and grace cannot be said of Him considered as the Word, but either must be understood of the increase of admiration on the part of all who beheld Him, and daily witnessed a fuller manifestation of His glory: or, as the two latter extracts teach, it refers to the human nature. As I have not been able to find the second extract in S. Cyril's collected works,, I give it entire: "And observe, that that which increases in any thing is different from that in which it is said to increase. If therefore He is said to increase in wisdom, it was not the wisdom that increased, but the human nature that increased in it. For as the Godhead day by day unveiled and manifested Itself in Him, He ever became an object of greater admiration to those that saw Him."
36. n This fragment is referred by two of Mai's MSS. to Chrysostom as well as Cyril, and by Corderius to Cyril and Basil.
37. o The name Joshua, as a corruption of the Jews, (certainly after the time of Josephus, but prior to Jerome, who once mentions it; cf. Com. in Os. I. 1.,) ought to be everywhere rejected; but the ΝΑΓΗ of the LXX. is an error of the copyists for ΝΑΓΝ. The Masorites have twice punctuated the name correctly in the case of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak. (Ez. ii. 2., iii. 2.)
38. p The style of this comment, so unlike Cyril's, and the extraordinary conclusion, both suggest caution in attributing to him the latter part of this extract.
39. q The next extract is from the Commentary on Isaiah, Op. ii. 506, and is therefore omitted.
40. r S. Cyril, whose habit it is to dwell at great length upon practical subjects, as will be seen afterwards in the Sermons from the Syriac, has exhausted two homilies upon John Baptist's lessons; but as they contained no doctrinal statements, nothing has been preserved in the Syriac, and by the Catenists only one extract: and even this in Cramer is referred to Origen.
41. s Although the preposition ἐν is occasionally used for the instrument or means, yet this is only admissible where the sense can still be traced back to its proper signification of local presence. And so here: "to baptize," is literally in Syriac "to make to stand," by a metaphor evidently drawn from what was actually the practice of John and the early Church: and "to be baptized" is the simple verb "to stand." Thus v. 21. is literally; "And it came to pass, when all the people stood, that Jesus also stood." And so the passage above is exactly; "I indeed make you to stand in "water;" "He shall make you to stand in the Holy Ghost," &c. And I have therefore in the translation retained "in," as most closely representing the Syriac.
42. t The Catenist in Mai has inserted in a parenthesis a curious observation, namely, that by the σφαιρωτήρ is meant "the tip of the shoe, ending in a point, such as the barbarians wear." The word, however, used by the Evangelist is ἱμάς simply a "thong:" and there can be no doubt that in the Septuagint, whence Cyril's word is taken, Gen. xiv. 23, the right reading is σφυρωτήρ, "a thong for the ankles," whereas σφαιρωτήρ, from σφαῖρα, "a ball," is the word for the pomegranates, used in the adorning of the golden candlestick. (Ex. xxv.31.)
43. v In the above defence of catholic doctrine against the heresies of Nestorius, S. Cyril must be taken as meaning, that the natural result of Nestorius' teaching is to divide the one Christ into two sons, and not that he expressly so taught. For in his seventeenth quaternion he says, "God the Word, even before the incarnation, was Son, and God, and coexistent with the Father: but in these last times assumed the form of the slave. But while, before He was Son, and so called; after the assumption of the flesh, He cannot be called Son separately, lest we should infer two Sons." The doctrine of Nestorius, as briefly sketched by the Council of Ephesus, was, that "He Who for our sakes became man, must not be called God." Hence his objection to the title θεοτόκος applied to the Virgin, and so valued by the fathers as expressing the inseparable union of the Divine and human natures in the one person of Christ. Hence his protest against worshipping Christ absolutely. (Quat. xvi.): and such expressions as, [Greek] (Quat. XV. Conf. Harduin. Concil. I. 1414, 1442.) In drawing these subtle conclusions, Nestorius (Ep. ad Cyrillum Hard. Conc. I, 1281.) also made that distinction between the Son of David and God the Word, so often attacked by Cyril in this Commentary: "God the Word, he says, was not the Son of David;" and as Cyril would fairly judge of his doctrine by this letter addressed to himself, no wonder he attributes to him, both here and elsewhere, a conclusion which follows apparently so directly from these words. In his seventeenth quaternion occurs probably Nestorius' most exact; statement, and from it equally S. Cyril would draw this conclusion, [Greek].
44. u In these words S. Cyril most accurately sums up the Catholic doctrine of the inseparable union of the two natures in Christ; which union Nestorius denied, anathematizing all who said that the Emmanuel was very God, and teaching instead that the Emmanuel was God indwelling in our nature. Si quis Eum Qui est Emmanuel, Deum verum esse dixerit, et non potius nobiscum Deum; hoc est, inhabitasse earn quae secundum nosmet est naturam, per id quod unitus est nostrae, quam de Maria Virgine suscepit; anathema sit. (An. I. Hard. Con. I. 1298.) To which it might well be replied, that the Emmanuel is "God with us," God and man, not God in man. A similar doctrine is contained in his fifteenth quaternion, as quoted above.
45. x The most important passages in the above homily have been preserved by the Catenists, but with the connection and course of the argument more than once broken. They ascribe, however, to S. Cyril, two short passages at the end (cf. Mai, p. 146.) not belonging to the Commentary; and there are some slight verbal differences in the intervening extract. On the other hand, two passages, preserved by-Thomas Aquinas, are both contained in the Syriac.
46. y It is to be observed, that S. Cyril often omits several verses in his Commentary. In one of Mai's MSS. some one has written the following anonymous note upon the omission here of vv. 18-20.: ὁ μακάριος Κύριλλος τοῦ Ἡρώδου ἐν τῇ ἑμηνείᾳ οὐκ ἐπεμνήσθη: and proceeds to give a reason for it.
47. z By [Syriac] I imagine the translator means Nestorius' favourite word συνάφεια, as he uses it for instance in his xviith quaternion: "Therefore is it, with respect, namely, to the dignity of the Sonship, that God the Word is also called Christ, inasmuch as He has a perpetual conjunction with the Christ."----Hard. Con. I. 1414. Conf. also note in page 41.
48. a This refers to the doctrine of Nestorius, that He Who was baptized was the man Christ, regarded in His human nature, and distinguished from God the Word.
49. b Economy.
50. c As frequently is the case, the short extracts in Mai at the end are not found in the Syriac, probably either from being taken from S. Cyril's other works, or erroneously ascribed to him. The first (from B.) contradicts the doctrine maintained throughout this Commentary, viz. that our Lord submitted to baptism as the pattern and type of humanity, and refers His baptism to His human nature. But Christ's human nature needed no baptism, as having no stain of sin. The second (from E. and F.) is a refutation of Paul of Samosata, drawn from the Evangelist's words, that "Jesus was be-ginning to be about thirty years old," and shewing that though He had a beginning as man, as God He had no beginning. And the last is a reproof addressed to those who justified the delay of holy baptism by our Lord's example, and which being referred to S. Cyril by four MSS. (A. E. F. H.), as well as for its own sake, I append entire; 'Thus great and beyond expectation is the harm that is done by deferring the grace that is by baptism for a long and unseasonable time: chiefly because no one can look forward with certainty to the accomplishment of his plans, and also because, though his purpose arrive at its fulfilment, he is sanctified indeed, but receives only the forgiveness of his past transgressions, while his talent he brings back to his Lord bare, having had no time to gain by trading any thing to add thereunto.'
Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 12-25. (Luke 4:1-6:17) pp. 49-101.
THE blessed prophets, when speaking of the Only-begotten Word of God,----of Him Who is equal unto God in glory, and the sharer of His throne, and radiant in perfect equality unto Him,----lead us to the persuasion that He was manifested as a Saviour and Deliverer for those upon earth, by saying, "Arise, O Lord, help me." He arose therefore and helped, having taken the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men: for so did He as one of us set Himself as an avenger in our stead, against that murderous and rebellious serpent, who had brought sin upon us, and thereby had caused corruption and death to reign over the dwellers upon earth, that we by His means, and in Him, might gain the victory, whereas of old we were vanquished, and fallen in Adam.
Come therefore and let us praise the Lord, and sing psalms unto God our Saviour: let us trample Satan under foot; let us raise the shout of victory over him now he is thrown and fallen: let us exult over the crafty reptile, caught in an inextricable snare: let us too say of him in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, "How is the hammer of all the earth broken and beaten small! Thou art found and hast been taken, because thou stoodest against the Lord." For of old, that is before the time of the advent of Christ the Saviour of all, the universal enemy had somewhat grand and terrible notions |50 about himself: for he boastfully exulted over the infirmity of the inhabitants of the earth, saying, "I will hold the world in my hand as a nest, and as eggs that are left I will take it up: and no one shall escape from me or speak against me." And in very truth there was no one of those upon earth who could rise up against his power; but the Son rose up against him, and contended with him, having been made like unto us. And therefore, as I said, human nature, as victorious in Him, wins the crown. And this in old time the Son Himself proclaimed, where by one of the holy prophets He thus addresses Satan; "Behold, I am against thee, O corrupting mountain, that corruptest the whole earth."
Come therefore and let us see what the blessed Evangelist says, when Christ was now going to battle in our behalf with him who corrupted the whole earth. "But Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan." Here behold, I pray, man's nature anointed with the grace of the Holy Ghost in Christ as the firstfruits, and crowned with the highest honours. For of old indeed the God of all promised, saying, "it shall come to pass in those days, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." And the promise is fulfilled for us in Christ first. And whereas of those in old time who without restraint gave way to fleshly lust, God somewhere said, "My Spirit shall not dwell in these men, because they are flesh:" now because all things have become new in Christ, and we are enriched with the regeneration that is by water and Spirit;----for no longer are we children of flesh and blood, but rather call God our Father;----therefore it is, and very justly, that as being now in honour, and possessing the glorious privilege of adoption, we have been made partakers of the divine nature by the communication of the Holy Ghost. But He Who is the Firstborn among us, when He became so among many brethren, and yielded Himself to emptiness, was the first to receive the Spirit, although Himself the Giver of the Spirit, that this dignity, and the grace of fellowship with the Holy Ghost might reach us by His means. Something like this Paul also teaches us, where speaking both of Him and us, he says, "For both He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of One: for which reason He is not ashamed to call them His brethren, saying, I will declare Thy name to My |51 brethren." For as being in no degree ashamed to call us brethren, whose likeness He took, therefore, having transferred to Himself our poverty, He is sanctified with us, although Himself the Sanctifier of all creation; that thou mightest not see Him refusing the measure of human nature, Who consented for the salvation and life of all to become man.
When therefore the wise Evangelist says of Him, "But Jesus being full of the Spirit returned from the Jordan," be not offended, nor err from the mark in thy inward thoughts, and wander from the doctrine of the truth, as to the way and manner in which the Word, Who is God, was sanctified: but rather understand the wisdom of the economy, by reason of which also He is the object of our admiration. For He was made flesh and became man, not to avoid whatever belongs to man's estate, and despise our poverty, but that we might be enriched with what is His, by His having been made like unto us in every particular, sin only excepted. He is sanctified therefore as man, but sanctifies as God: for being by nature God, He was made man.
"He was led therefore, it says, in the Spirit in the wilderness forty days, being tempted of the devil." What therefore is the meaning of the word led? It signifies not so much that He was conducted thither, as that He dwelt and continued there. For we are ourselves also accustomed to say of any one who lives religiously, So and so, whoever it may be, is a well-conducted 1 person. And we give the title of paedagogue, not to signify, according to the literal interpretation, that they actually lead and conduct boys, but that they take care of them, and well and laudably train them, educating and teaching them to conduct themselves with propriety.
He dwelt therefore in the wilderness in the Spirit, that is spiritually; for He fasted, granting no food whatsoever to the necessities of the body. But to this I imagine some one may immediately object; 'And what harm then did it do Jesus to be constantly dwelling in cities? And in what way could it benefit Him to choose to inhabit the wilderness? For there is |52 no good thing of which He is in want. And why too did He also last? What necessity was there for Him to labour, Who knows not what it is to feel the rising of any depraved desire? For we adopt the practice of fasting as a very useful expedient, by which to mortify pleasures, and buffet the law of sin that is in our members, and extirpate those emotions which lead on to fleshly lust. But what need had Christ of fasting? For He it is by Whom the Father slays the sin in the flesh. And knowing this, the divine Paul wrote, "For as to the powerlessness of the law, by reason of its weakness because of the flesh, God having sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and because of sin, condemned the sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who walk not in the flesh, but in the Spirit." He therefore, who even in us miserable beings mortifies the motions of the flesh, and has abolished sin, what fasting could He need in ought that concerns Himself? He is holy: undefiled by nature: wholly pure, and without blemish. He cannot experience even the shadow of a change. Why therefore did He make His abode in the wilderness, and fast, and endure, being tempted?' The type has regard to us, my beloved: He sets before us His acts as our example, and establishes a model of the better and more admirable mode of life practised among us, I mean, that of the holy monks. For whence was it possible for men on earth to know that the habit of dwelling in deserts was useful for them, and highly advantageous for salvation? For they retire from waves and storms as it were; from the utter turmoil, and vain distractions of this world, and so to speak like the blessed Joseph, they strip off and give back to the world all that belongs to it. And something like this the wise Paul too says of those who are wont so to live. "But those who are Jesus Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." And he shews to those who choose this mode of life that abstinence is necessary, of which the fruit is fasting and the power of endurance, and of abstaining from or taking but little food. For so will Satan, when he tempts. be overcome. |53
But observe this especially: that he was first baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, and withdrew into the wilderness, and made abstinence, that is, fasting, as it were His armour; and being thus equipped, when Satan drew near, and He had overcome him, He has so set before us Himself as our pattern. Thou therefore too must first put on the armour of God, and the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. Thou too must first be clothed with power from on high, must be made, that is, partaker of the Holy Ghost by means of precious baptism, and then mayest thou undertake to lead the life well beloved and honourable with God: then with spiritual courage thou shalt take for thy habitation the deserts: then shalt thou keep holy fast, and mortify pleasures, and vanquish Satan when he tempts. In Christ therefore have we gained all things 2.
[From Mai.] Lo! He appears among the combatants, Who as God bestows the prize: among those who wear the chaplet of victory is He Who crowns the heads of the saints. Let us behold therefore the skilfulncss of His wrestlings; how He overthrows the devil's wickedness. When forty days had been spent in fasting, "He afterwards hungered." But He it is Who gives food to the hungry, and is Himself the bread that came down from heaven, and gives life to the world, as being That whereby all things consist. But because, on the other hand, it was necessary that He Who refused not our poverty should withdraw from nothing whatsoever that belongs to man's condition, He consented for His flesh to require its natural supplies; and hence the words, "He hungered." It was not however till He had fasted sufficiently, and by His Godlike power had kept His flesh unwasted, though abstaining from meat and drink, that scarcely at length He permitted it to feel its natural sensations: for it says, that He hungered. And for what reason? That skilfully by means of the two 3, He Who is at once God and Man, might be recognised as such in one and the same person, both as superior to us in His divine nature, and in His human nature as our equal. |54
Then the devil draweth near to tempt Him; expecting that the feeling of hunger would aid him in his innate wickedness: for oftentimes he prevails over us by taking our infirmities to aid his plots and enterprizes. He thought that He would readily jump at the wish of seeing bread ready for His use: and therefore he said, "If Thou be the Son of God, bid this stone become bread." He approaches Him therefore as an ordinary man, and as one of the saints: yet he had a suspicion, that possibly He might be the Christ. In what way then did he wish to learn this? He considered, that to change the nature of any thing into that which it was not, would be the act and deed of a divine power: for it is God Who makes these things and transforms them: if therefore, says he, this be done, certainly He it is Who is looked for as the subverter of my power: but if He refuse to work this change, I have to do with a man, and cast away my fear, and am delivered from my danger. And therefore it was that Christ, knowing the monster's artifice, neither made the change, nor said that He was either unable or unwilling to make it, but rather shakes him off as importunate and officious, saying that "man shall not live by bread alone;" by which He means, that if God grant a man the power, he can subsist without eating, and live as Moses and Elias, who by the Word of the Lord passed forty days without taking food. If therefore it is possible to live without bread, why should I make the stone bread? But He purposely does not say, I cannot, that He may not deny His own power: nor does He say, I can; lest the other, knowing that He is God, to Whom alone such things are possible, should depart from Him.
And observe, I pray, how the nature of man in Christ casts off the faults of Adam's gluttony: by eating we were conquered in Adam, by abstinence we conquered in Christ.
By the food that springeth up from the earth our earthly body is supported, and seeks for its sustenance that which is congenerate with it: but the rational soul is nourished unto |55 spiritual healthiness by the Word of God. For the food that the earth supplies nourishes the body that is akin to it: but that from above and from heaven strengthens the spirit. The food of the soul is the Word that cometh from God, even the spiritual bread which strengtheneth man's heart, according to what is sung in the Book of Psalms. And such also we affirm to be the nature of the food of the holy angels.
But O thou malignant, and wicked, and accursed being, how didst thou dare to shew the Lord all the kingdoms of the whole creation, and say, "All these are mine? Now therefore if Thou wilt fall down and worship me, I will give them Thee." How dost thou promise that which is not thine? Who made thee heir of God's kingdom? Who made thee lord of all under heaven? Thou hast seized these things by fraud. Restore them therefore to the incarnate Son, the Lord of all. Hear what the prophet Isaiah says respecting thee; "Hath it been prepared for thee also to reign? a deep gulf, fire, and brimstone, and wood laid in order; the anger of the Lord as a gulf burning with brimstone." How then dost thou, whose lot is the inextinguishable flame, promise to the King of all that which is His own? Didst thou think to have Him as thy worshipper at Whom all things tremble, while the Seraphim, and all the angelical powers hymn His glory? It is written, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve 4." Seasonably He made mention of this commandment, striking as it were his very heart. For before His advent, Satan had deceived all under heaven, and was himself everywhere worshipped: but the law of God, ejecting him from the dominion he had usurped by fraud, has commanded men to worship Him only Who by nature and in truth is God, and to offer service to Him alone. |56
The third temptation which the devil employs is that of vain-glory, saying, "Cast Thyself down hence," as a proof of Thy divinity. But neither did he make Him fall by means of vanity, but himself in this also shot wide of the mark. For He answers, "It is said, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." For God grants not His aid to those who tempt Him, but to those who believe in Him: nor ought we, because He deigns us mercy, therefore to make a vain display. Moreover, Christ never gave a sign to those who tempted Him: "for a wicked generation, He saith, seeketh after a sign, and a sign shall not be given it." And let Satan now when tempting hear the same. Wo therefore won the victory in Christ: and he who conquered in Adam went away ashamed, that we might have him under our feet; for Christ as Conqueror handed on to us also the power to conquer, saying, "Behold I have granted you to tread upon serpents, and scorpions, and all the power of the enemy."
But see how maliciously he endeavours by the use of the Scriptures to humble the glory of the Lord, as if in need of angelic aid; and as though it would stumble, did not the angels help it. For the application of the Psalm refers not to Christ, nor does the Sovereign need angels. As for the pinnacle, it was a very lofty building, erected at the side of the temple.
5 Some however wrongly refer the Psalm to the person of the Lord, and taking the versos together thus read; "Because Thou, O Lord, art my hope, Thou has made the Most High Thy refuge." They say therefore that the Lord had as His refuge the Most High, even the Father Who is in heaven. And their pretext for such a way of understanding it is, that Satan so took the verses, saying, "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, that He shall give His |57 angels charge concerning Thee." For Satan being false and a deceiver, applies what is said of us to the person of Christ the Saviour of us all. But we do not understand it in Satan's fashion; though if the Arians have so understood it, there is no cause for astonishment: for they follow their own father, "who is a liar, and the truth is not in him," according to the Saviour's words. For if the truth be as they say, and we have made Christ our help, and He has the Father for His refuge, then have we fled to one Who Himself has need of aid, and call Him our Saviour Who is saved by another. This cannot be: Heaven forbid. We say therefore to those who are wont so to think, Ye tell us another of your errors: ye are travelling out of the royal and straight path: ye are falling into thorns and pitfalls: ye have wandered from the truth. The Son is in all things equal to the Father: the mark and impress of His substance: the Most High, as also the Father is Most High.
Satan then made use of these verses, as though the Saviour were a common man. For being entirely darkness, and having his mind blinded, he understood not the force of what was said, that the psalm is spoken in the person of every just man who is aided by the Highest, even the God of heaven. And besides this, He knew not that the Word being God, was made man, and was Himself now being tempted in accordance with the plan of salvation. He therefore, as I said, supposed the words were spoken as of a common man, or oven as of one of the holy prophets. But it is monstrous for us, who accurately know the mystery, and believe that He is God and the Son of God, and that for our sakes He became man like unto us, to imagine that the verses were spoken of Him. To say then, "Thou hast made the Most High thy refuge," befits not the person of the Saviour. For He is Himself the Most High: the refuge of all: the hope of all: the all-powerful right hand of the Father: and whosoever has made Him his defence, no evil shall approach him. For He shall command the angels, who are ministering spirits, to guard the just. For just as our fathers in the flesh, when they see the path rough and impassable, catch up their infants in their hands, lest perchance their tender feet should be hurt, being as yet unable to walk over the hard road, so also the rational powers do not permit those, who are as yet unable to labour, and whose understanding is |58 still childish, to toil beyond their strength, but snatch them out of every temptation.
Having left the habitations of cities, He dwelt in deserts: there He fasted, being tempted of Satan; there He gained victory in our behalf: there He crushed the heads of the dragons: there, as the blessed David says, "The swords of the enemy utterly failed, and cities were destroyed," that is, those who were like towers and cities. Having therefore mightily prevailed over Satan, and having crowned in His own person man's nature with the spoils won by the victory over him, He returned unto Galilee in the power of the Spirit, both exercising might and authority, and performing very many miracles, and occasioning great astonishment. And He wrought miracles, not as having deceived the grace of the Spirit from without and as a gift, like the company of the saints, but rather as being by nature and in truth the Son of God the Father, and taking whatever is His as His own proper inheritance. For He even said unto Him, "That all that is Mine is Thine, and Thine Mine, and I am glorified in them." He is glorified therefore by exercising as His own proper might and power that of the consubstantial Spirit.
Since therefore it was now necessary that He should manifest Himself to the Israelites, and that the mystery of His incarnation should now shine forth to those who knew Him not, and inasmuch as He was now anointed of God the Father for the salvation of the world, He very wisely orders this also, [viz. that His fame should now spread abroad.] And this favour He grants first to the people of Nazareth, because, humanly speaking, He had been brought up among them. Having entered, therefore, the synagogue, He takes the book to read: and having opened it, selected a passage in the prophets, which declares the mystery concerning Him. And by these words He most plainly Himself tells us by the voice of the prophet, that He both would be made man, and come to save the world. For we affirm, that the Son was anointed in no other way than by having become according to the flesh |59 such as we are, and taken our nature. For being at once God and man, He both gives the Spirit to the creation in His divine nature, and receives it from God the Father in His human nature; while it is He Who sanctifies the whole creation, both as having shone forth from the Holy Father, and as bestowing the Spirit, Which He Himself pours 6 forth, both upon the powers above as That Which is His own, and upon those moreover who recognised His appearing.
He plainly shews by these words that He took upon Him the humiliation and submission to the emptying (of His glory), and both the very name of Christ and the reality for our sakes: for the Spirit, He says, which by nature is in Me by the sameness of Our substance and deity, also descended upon Me from without. And so also in the Jordan It came upon Me in the form of a dove, not because It was not in Me, but for the reason for which He anointed Me. And what was the reason for which He chose to be anointed? It was our being destitute of the Spirit by that denunciation of old, "My Spirit shall not abide in these men, because they are flesh." |60
These words the incarnate Word of God speaks: for being very God of very God the Father, and having become for our sakes man without undergoing change, with us He is anointed with the oil of gladness, the Spirit having descended upon Him at the Jordan in the form of a dove. For in old time both kings and priests were anointed symbolically, gaining thereby a certain measure of sanctification: but He Who for our sakes became incarnate, was anointed with the spiritual oil of sanctification, and the actual descent of the Spirit, receiving It not for Himself, but for us. For inasmuch as the Spirit had taken its flight, and not made His abode in us because of our being flesh, the earth was full of grief, being deprived of the participation of God.
And He proclaimed also deliverance to captives, which also He accomplished by having bound the strong one, Satan, who in tyrant fashion lorded it over our race, and having torn away from Him us his goods.
As the words "He anointed Me" befit the manhood: for it is not the divine nature which is anointed, but that which is akin to us: so also the words "He sent Me" are to be referred to that which is human.
Those also whose heart was of old obscured by the darkness of the devil, He has illuminated by rising as some Sun of Righteousness, and making them the children no longer of night and darkness, but of light and day, according to Paul's word, And those who were blind,-----for the Apostate had blinded their hearts,----have recovered their sight, and acknowledged the truth; and, as Isaiah says, "Their darkness has become light:" that is, the ignorant have become wise: those that once were in error, have known the paths of righteousness. And the Father also says somewhere unto the Son Himself, "I have given Thee for a covenant of kindred, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from their bonds, and from the guard-house those that sit in darkness." For the Only-begotten came into this world and gave a new covenant to His kindred, the Israelites, of whom He was sprung according to the flesh, even the covenant long before announced by the voice of the prophets. But the divine and heavenly light shone also upon the Gentiles: and He went and preached to the spirits in |61 Hades, and showed Himself to those who were shut up in the guard-house, and freed all from their bonds and violence. And how do not these things plainly prove that Christ is both God, and of God by nature?
And what means the sending away the broken in freedom? It is the letting those go free whom Satan had broken by the rod of spiritual violence. And what means the preaching the acceptable year of the Lord? It signifies the joyful tidings of His own advent, that the time of the Lord, even the Son, had arrived. For that was the acceptable year in which Christ was crucified in our behalf, because we then were made acceptable unto God the Father, as the fruit borne by Him. Wherefore He said, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto Myself." And verily He returned to life the third day, having trampled upon the power of death: after which He said to His disciples, "All power has been given Me, &c." That too is in every respect an acceptable year in which, being received into His family, we were admitted unto Him, having washed away sin by holy baptism, and been made partakers of His divine nature by the communion of the Holy Ghost. That too is an acceptable year, in which He manifested His glory by ineffable miracles: for with joy have we accepted the season of His salvation, which also the very wise Paul referred to, saying, "Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation:" the day, when the poor who erewhile were sick by the absence of every blessing, having no hope and being without God in the world, such as were the gentiles, were made rich by faith in Him, gaining the divine and heavenly treasure of the Gospel message of salvation; by which they have been made partakers of the kingdom of heaven, copartners with the saints, and heirs of blessings such as neither the mind can conceive nor language tell. "For eye, it saith, hath not seen, and car hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him." Though it may also be true, that the text here speaks of the abundant supply of graces bestowed by Christ upon the poor in spirit,
But by the bruised in heart, He means, those who have a weak and yielding mind, unable to resist the attacks of their |62 passions, and so carried along by them, as to seem to be captives: to these He promises both healing and forgiveness.
And to those who are blind, He gives the recovering of sight. For those who serve the creature instead of the Creator, "and say to the wood, Thou art my father, and to the stone, Thou hast begotten me," without recognising Him Who is by nature and in truth God, how can they be ought else than blind, seeing they have a heart devoid of the light that is divine and spiritual? And on these the Father bestows the light of the true knowledge of God: for they are called through faith, and acknowledge Him, or rather are acknowledged of Him, and whereas they were children of night and darkness, they have been made children of light. For the day has shone upon them, and the sun of righteousness has arisen, and the bright morning star has dawned.
There is no objection, however, to any one's referring all these declarations to the Israelites. For they were poor, and crushed in heart, and, so to speak, prisoners, and in darkness. "For there was not upon earth that was doing good, not even one. But all had turned aside, together they had become unprofitable." But Christ came, preaching to the Israelites before all others, the glories of His advent. And like to their maladies were those of the Gentiles; but they have been redeemed by Him, having been enriched with His wisdom, and endowed with understanding, and no longer is their mind weak and broken, but healthy and strong, and ready to receive and practise every good and saving work. For in their error they had need of wisdom and understanding, who in their great folly worshipped the creature instead of the Creator, and inscribed stocks and stones with the name of Gods. But those who long ago lived in gloom and darkness, because they knew not Christ, now acknowledge Him as their God.
These words having been read to the assembled people, He drew upon Himself the eyes of all, wondering perhaps how He knew letters Who had not learnt. For it was the wont of the Israelites to say, that the prophecies concerning Christ were fullilled, either in the persons of some of their more glorious kings, or, at all events, in the holy prophets. For not correctly understanding what was written of Him, they missed the |63 true direction, and travelled on another path. But that they might not again thus misinterpret the present prophecy, He carefully guards against error by saying, "This day is this prophecy fulfilled in your ears," expressly setting Himself before them in these words, as the person spoken of in the prophecy. For it was He Who preached the kingdom of heaven to the heathen, who were poor, having nothing, neither God, nor law, nor prophets; or rather, He preached it unto all who were destitute of spiritual riches: the captives He set free, having overthrown the apostate tyrant Satan, and Himself shed the divine and spiritual light on those whose heart was darkened; for which reason He said, "I am come a light into this world:" it was He Who unbound the chains of sin from those whose heart was crushed thereby: Who clearly shewed that there is a life to come, and denounced the just judgment. Finally, it was He Who preached the acceptable year of the Lord, even that in which the Saviour's proclamation was made: for by the acceptable year I think is meant His first coming; and by the day of restitution the day of judgment.
For not understanding Him Who had been anointed and sent, and Who was the Author of works so wonderful, they returned to their usual ways, and talk foolishly and vainly concerning Him. For although they had wondered at the words of grace that proceeded out of His mouth, yet their wish was to treat them as valueless: for they said, "Is not this the son of Joseph?" But what does this diminish from the glory of the Worker of the miracles? What prevents Him from being both to be venerated and admired, even had He been, as was supposed, the son of Joseph? Seest thou not the miracles? Satan fallen, the herds of devils vanquished, multitudes set free from various kinds of maladies? Thou praisest the grace that was present in His teachings; and then dost thou, in Jewish fashion, think lightly of Him, because He accounted Joseph for His father? O great senselessness! True is it to say of them, "Lo! a people foolish, and without understanding: they have eyes and see not, ears, and hear not." |64
This was a common saying among the Jews, and had its origin in a witticism: for when physicians were themselves ill, men would say, Physician, heal thyself. Christ therefore, setting before them as it were this proverb, said unto them, Ye wish for many signs to be wrought by Me among you especially, in whose country I was brought up; but I know the common feeling to which all men are liable: for always, somehow or other, even the choicest things are despised when there is no scarcity of them, and people have them in abundance. And so too is the case with men: for his acquaintance will oftentimes refuse one with whom they are familiar, and who is constantly among them, even the honour which is due. He rebuked them therefore for asking so foolishly, "Is not this the son of Joseph?" and still keeping to the object of His teaching, says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that no prophet is acceptable in his country."
For since, as I have mentioned, certain of the Jews affirmed that the prophecies relating to Christ had been accomplished either in the holy prophets, or in certain of their own more distinguished men, He for their good draws them away from such a supposition 7, by saying that Elias had been sent to a single widow, and that the prophet Elisaeus had healed but one leper, Naaman the Syrian: by these signifying the church of the heathen, who were about to accept Him, and be healed of their leprosy, by reason of Israel remaining impenitent. |65
They then were inflamed with anger, because he had branded their wicked thought; and also because He had said. To-day is this Scripture fulfilled, namely, that "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me;" for they considered that He made Himself equal to the prophets. Moreover, they cast Him out of their city, decreeing thereby their own condemnation, and confirming; what the Saviour had said: for they themselves were banished from the city that is above, for not having received Christ. And that He might not convict them of impiety in words merely, He permitted their audacity against Himself to proceed even unto deeds: for their violence was unreasonable, and their envy untamed. Leading Him therefore to the brow of the hill, they endeavoured to throw Him from the crags: but He went through the midst of them without taking any notice, so to say, of their attempt: not as refusing to suffer,----for for this reason He had even come,----but as awaiting a suitable time. For it was now the commencement of His preaching, and it would have been unseasonable to have suffered before He had proclaimed the word of truth. For it depended on Him to suffer, or not to suffer; for He is Lord of times as well as of things. And this is a proof, that when He suffered He suffered voluntarily, and that neither then could He have suffered, had He not yielded Himself thereto.
Those whom argument cannot bring to the sure knowledge of Him Who by nature and in truth is God and Lord, may perhaps be won by miracles unto a docile obedience. And therefore usefully, or rather necessarily, He oftentimes completes His lessons by proceeding to the performance of some mighty work. For the inhabitants of Judaea were unready to believe, and slighted the words of those who called them to salvation, and especially the people of Capernaum had this character: for which reason the Saviour reproved them, saying, "And thou Capernaum, that art exalted unto heaven, "shalt be brought down unto hell." But although He knows them to be both disobedient, and hard of heart, nevertheless He visits them as a most excellent physician would those who |66 were suffering under a very dangerous disease, and endeavours to rid them of their malady. For He says Himself, that "those who are in health, have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." He taught therefore in their synagogues with great freedom of speech: for this He had foretold by the voice of Isaiah, saying, "I have not spoken in secret, nor in a dark place of the earth." The holy apostles moreover He oven commanded to publish their words concerning Him with full boldness of speech, saying, "What I tell you in darkness, speak ye in the light: and what ye have heard (whispered) into the ear, proclaim upon the housetops." On the Sabbath also, when they were at leisure from labour, He conversed with them. They therefore wondered at the power of His teaching, and at the greatness of His authority: "For the word, it says, was with authority;" for He used not flatteries, but urged them to salvation. For the Jews indeed thought that Christ was nothing more than one of the saints, and that He had appeared among them in prophetic rank only: but that they might entertain a higher opinion and idea concerning Him, He exceeds 8 the prophetic measure; for He never said, Thus saith the Lord, as of course was their custom, but as being the Lord of the law He spake things that surpass the law.
God moreover said by Isaiah, "And I will make with them an everlasting covenant, even the holy, the sure things of David: behold I have given Him as a testimony among the gentiles, a ruler and commander of the gentiles." For it was fitting that Moses, as a servant, should be the minister of the shadow that endureth not: but Christ, I affirm, was the eternal publisher of a lasting and abiding worship. And what is the eternal covenant? It means the sacred prophecies of Christ, Who is of David's seed according to the flesh, and which produce in us holiness, and sureness: just as also the fear of God is pure, because it makes us pure: and the word |67 of the Gospel is life, because it produces life: "for the words, He says, "that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life," that is, spiritual and life-giving. But mark well the exactness of the prophecy. Isaiah, speaking as in the person of God the Father concerning Christ, says, "Lo, I have given Him as a testimony unto the Gentiles," that is, to bear witness unto them, that these things are acceptable; that no one may imagine Him to be one of the holy prophets, but that all mankind may rather know, that He is radiant with the glory of lordship,----for being God, He appeared unto us;----and so he goes on to say, not merely that He was given for a testimony, but also as "a ruler and commander of the gentiles." For the blessed prophets, and before them even Moses, holding the station of servants, ever called out to their hearers, "Thus saith the Lord," not as being so much commanders, as ministers of the divine words. But our Lord Jesus Christ spake words most worthy of God; and was therefore admired even by the Jews themselves, because His word was with authority, and because He taught them as one that had authority, and not as their scribes. For His word was not of the shadow of the law, but as being Himself the lawgiver, He changed the letter into the truth, and the types into their spiritual meaning. For He was a ruler, and possessed a ruler's authority to command.
With godlike power He rebuked the unclean spirits, making the miracle follow immediately upon His words, that we might not disbelieve. We have seen the guilty Satan overcome by Him in the wilderness, and broken by three falls: we have seen his might again shaken, and the power that was against us falling: we have seen ourselves rebuking the wicked spirits in Christ as our firstfruits. For that this also has reference to the ennoblement of human nature, thou mayest learn from the Saviour's own words. For the Jews indeed maligned His glory, and even said, "This man casteth not out devils except in Beelzebub, prince of the devils:" but He in answer, having first said much and to the purpose, ended by declaring; "But if I in the Spirit of God cast out devils, then has the kingdom of God come upon you unawares." For if, says He, |68 I, Who have become a man like unto you, chide the unclean spirits with godlike power and majesty, it is your nature which is crowned with this great glory: for ye are seen both through Me and in Me to have gained the kingdom of God.
The evil demons therefore were cast out, and made moreover to feel how invincible is His might; and being unable to bear the conflict with Deity, they exclaimed in imperious and crafty terms, "Let us alone: what is there between us and Thee?" meaning thereby, Why dost Thou not permit us to keep our place, whilst Thou art destroying the error of impiety? But they further put on the false appearance of well-sounding words, and call Him the Holy One of God. For they supposed that by this specious kind of language they could excite the desire of vainglory, and thereby prevent His rebuking them, returning as it were one kindness for another. But though he be crafty, he will fail of his prey: for "God is not mocked;" and so the Lord stops their impure tongues, and commands them to depart from those possessed by them. And the bystanders being made witnesses of so great deeds, were astonished at the power of His word. For He wrought His miracles, offering up no prayer, to ask of any one else at all the power of accomplishing them, but being Himself the living and active Word of God the Father, by Whom all things exist, and in Whom all things are, in His own person He crushed Satan, and closed the profane mouth of impure demons.
Observe therefore how He Who endured voluntary poverty for our sakes, that we by His poverty might become rich, lodged with one of His disciples,----a man poor, and living in obscurity,----that we might learn to seek the company of the humble, and not to boast ourselves over those in want and affliction.
Jesus arrives at Simon's house, and finds his wife's mother sick of a fever: and He stood, and rebuked the fever, and it left her, Now in what is said by Matthew and Mark, that "the fever left her," there is no hint of any living thing as the active cause of the fever: but in Luke's phrase that "He stood |69 over her, and rebuked the fever, and it left her," I do not know whether we are not compelled to say that that which was rebuked was some living thing unable to sustain the influence of Him Who rebuked it: for it is not reasonable to rebuke a thing without life, and unconscious of the rebuke. Nor is it anything astonishing for there to exist certain powers that inflict harm on the human body: nor must we necessarily think evil of the soul of those who thus suffer for being harmed by these beings. For neither, when the Devil obtained authority to tempt Job by bodily torments, and struck him with painful ulcers, was Job therefore to be found fault with, for he manfully contended, and nobly endured the blow. God grant, however, that it be said, if at any time we are tempted by bodily pains, "but touch not his soul." 9 The Lord then by a rebuke heals those who are possessed. |70
He laid also His hands upon the sick one by one, and freed them from their malady, so demonstrating that the holy flesh, which He had made His own, and endowed with godlike power, possessed the active presence of the might of the Word: intending us thereby to learn that though the Only-begotten Word of God became like unto us, yet even so is He none the less God, and able easily, even by His own flesh, to accomplish all things: for by it as His instrument He wrought miracles. Nor is there any reason for great wonder at this; but consider, on the contrary, how fire, when placed in a brazen vessel, communicates to it the power of producing the effects of heat. So therefore the all-powerful Word of God also, having joined by a real union unto Himself the living and intelligent temple taken from the holy Virgin, endowed it with the power of actively exerting His own godlike might. To put to shame, therefore, the Jews, He says, "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not: but if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe My works." We may, therefore, see, with the Truth Itself witnessing thereto, that the Only-begotten gave not His glory as to a man taken 10 separately and apart by himself, and regarded as the woman's offspring; but as being the One only Son, with the holy body united to Him, He wrought the miracles, and is worshipped also by the creation as God.
He entered, then, into Peter's house, where a woman was |71 lying stretched upon a bed, exhausted with a violent fever: and when He might as God have said, "Put away the disease, arise," He adopted a different course of action. For, as a proof that His own flesh possessed the power of healing, as being the flesh of God, He touched her hand, and forthwith, it says, the fever left her. Let us, therefore, also receive Jesus: for when He has entered into us, and we have received Him into mind and heart, then He will quench the fever of unbefitting pleasures, and raise us up, and make us strong, even in things spiritual, so as for us to minister unto Him, by performing those things that please Him.
But observe again, I pray, how great is the efficacy of the touch of His holy flesh. For It both driven away diseases of various kinds, and a crowd of demons, and overthrows the power of the devil, and heals a very great multitude of people in one moment of time. And though able to perform these miracles by a word and the inclination of His will, yet to teach us something useful for us, He also lays His hands upon the sick. For it was necessary, most necessary, for us to learn, that the holy flesh which He had made His own was endowed with the activity of the power of the Word by His having implanted in it a godlike might. Let It then take hold of us, or rather let us take hold of It by the mystical "Giving of thanks," that It may free us also from the sicknesses of the soul, and from the assault and violence of demons.
He would not permit the unclean demons to confess Him; for it was not fitting for them to usurp the glory of the Apostolic office, nor with impure tongue to talk of the mystery of |72 Christ. Yea! though they speak ought that is true, let no one put credence in them: for the light is not known hy the aid of darkness, as the disciple of Christ teaches us, where he says, "For what communion hath light with darkness? or what consent hath Christ with Beliar?" 11 |73
LET us admire the skilfulness of the method employed in making them a prey who were to make prey of the whole earth; even the holy Apostles, who, though themselves well skilled in fishing, yet fell into Christ's meshes, that they also, letting down the drag-net of the Apostolic preachings, might gather unto Him the inhabitants of the whole world. For verily He somewhere said by one of the holy prophets, "Behold I send many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall catch them as fish: and afterwards I will send many hunters, and they shall hunt them as game." By the fishers He means the holy Apostles; and by the hunters, those who successively became the rulers and teachers of the holy churches. And observe, I pray, that He not only preaches, but also displays signs, giving thereby pledges of His power, and confirming His words by the display of miracles: for after He had sufficiently conversed with the multitudes, He returns to His usual mighty works, and by means of their pursuits as fishers catches the disciples as fish: that men may know that His will is almighty, and that the creation ministers to His most godlike commands.
As He had now taught them sufficiently, and it was fitting also to add some divine work to His words for the benefit of the spectators, He bade Simon and his companions push off a little from the land, and let down the net for a draught. But they replied, that they had been labouring the whole night, and had caught nothing: in the name, however, of Christ, they let down the net, and immediately it was full of fish; in order that by a visible fact, and by a type and representation, miraculously enacted, they might be fully convinced that their labour would not be unrewarded, nor the zeal fruitless which |74 they displayed in spreading out the net of the Gospel teaching; for that most certainly they should catch within it the shoals of the heathen. But observe this, that neither Simon nor his companions could draw the net to land; and therefore, being speechless from fright and astonishment:----for their wonder had made them mute:----they beckoned, it says, to their partners, those, that is, who shared their labours in fishing, to come and help them in securing their prey. For many have taken part with the holy Apostles in their labours, and still do so, especially such as search into the meaning of what is written in the holy Gospels; and others besides them, even the pastors and teachers and rulers of the people, who are skilled in the doctrines of truth. For still is the net drawn, while Christ fills it, and summons unto conversion those in the depths of the sea, according to the Scripture phrase; those, that is to say, who live in the surge and waves of worldly things.
For this reason also Peter, carried back to the memory of his former sins, trembles and is afraid, and as being impure ventures not to receive Him Who is pure: and his fear was laudable: for he had been taught by the law to distinguish between the holy and the profane.
The faith, however, of him who drew near is worthy of all praise: for he testifies that the Emmanuel can successfully accomplish all things, and seeks deliverance by His godlike commands, although his malady was incurable: for leprosy will not yield to the skill of physicians. I see, however, he says, the unclean demons expelled by a godlike authority: I see others set free from many diseases: I recognise that such things are wrought by some divine and resistless force: I see, further, that He is good, and most ready to pity those who draw near unto Him: what therefore forbids His taking pity on me also? And what is Christ's answer? He confirms His faith, and produces full assurance upon this very point. For He accepts His petition, and confesses that He is able, and says, "I will: be thou cleansed." He grants him also the touch of His holy and all-powerful hand, and immediately the |75 leprosy departed from him, and his affliction was at an end. And in this join with mo in wondering at Christ thus exercising at the same time both a divine and a bodily power. For it was a divine act so to will, as for all that He willed to be present unto Him: but to stretch out the hand was a human, act: Christ therefore is perceived to be One 12 of both, if, as is the case, the Word was made flesh.
Even though the leper had been silent, the very nature of the fact was enough to proclaim to all who knew him how great was His power Who had wrought the cure. But He bids him tell no man: and why? That they who receive from God the gift of working cures may hereby learn not to look for the applause of those whom they have healed, nor indeed any one's praises whatsoever, lest they fall a prey unto pride, of all vices the most disgraceful.
He purposely, however, bids the leper offer unto the priests the gift according to the law of Moses. For it was indeed confessedly His wish to put away the shadow, and transfbrm the types unto a spiritual service. As the Jews, however, because as yet they did not believe on Him, attached themselves to the commands of Moses, supposing their ancient customs to be still in force, He gives leave to the leper to make the offering for a testimony unto them. And what was His object in granting this permission? It was because the Jews, using ever as a pretext their respect for the law, and saying that the hierophant Moses was the minister of a commandment from on high, made it their endeavour to treat with contempt Christ the Saviour of us all. They even said plainly, "We know that God spake unto Moses: but This man, we know not whence He is." It was necessary, therefore, for them to be convinced by actual facts that the measure of Moses is inferior to the glory of Christ: "For he indeed as a servant was faithful over his house; but the other as a Son over His Father's house." From this very healing, then, of the leper, we may most plainly see that Christ is incomparably |76 superior to the Mosaic law. For Mariam,13 the sister of Moses, was herself struck with leprosy for speaking against him: and at this Moses was greatly distressed; and when he was unable to remove the disease from the woman, he fell down before God, saying, "O God, I beseech Thee, heal her." Observe this, then, carefully: on the one hand, there was a request; he sought by prayer to obtain mercy from above: but the Saviour of all spake with godlike authority, "I will: be thou cleansed." The removal therefore of the leprosy was a testimony to the priests, and by it those who assign the chief rank to Moses may know that they are straying from the truth. For it was fitting, even highly fitting, to regard Moses with admiration as a minister of the law, and servant of the grace that was spoken of angels; but far greater must be our admiration of the Emmanuel, and the glory we render Him as very Son of God the Father.
And whoever will may see the profound and mighty mystery of Christ written for our benefit in Leviticus. For the law of Moses declares the leper defiled, and gives orders for him to be put out of the camp as unclean: but should the malady ever be alleviated, it commands that he should then be capable of readmission. Moreover it clearly specifies the manner in which he is to be pronounced clean, thus saying; "This is the law of the leper on whatsoever day he shall have been cleansed, and shall be brought unto the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall see him, and behold, the touch of the leprosy is healed from the leper: and the high priest shall command, and they shall take for him who is cleansed two living clean birds; and the high priest shall command, and they shall kill the one into an earthen vessel over living water: and he shall take the living bird, and dip it into the blood of the bird that was killed over the living water, and shall sprinkle it seven times over the man cleansed of the leprosy, and he shall be cleansed: and he shall send away the living bird into the field." The birds then are two in number, both without stain, that is, clean, and liable to no fault on the part of the law: and the one of them is slain over |77 living water, but the other, being saved from slaughter, and farther baptized in the blood of that which died, is let loose.
This type, then, represents to us the great and adorable mystery of our Saviour. For the Word was from above, even from the Father, from heaven; for which reason He is very fitly compared to a bird: for though He came down for the dispensation's sake to bear our likeness, and took the form of a slave, yet even so He was from above.----Yea, He even, when speaking to the Jews, said so plainly, "Ye are from beneath: I am from above." And again, "No one hath ascended up into heaven, but the Son of man That came down from heaven." As therefore I just now said, even when He became flesh, that is, perfect man, He was not earthy, not made of clay as we are, but heavenly and superior to things worldly in respect of that wherein He is perceived to be God. We may see, then, in the birds (offered at the cleansing of the leper), Christ suffering indeed in the flesh according to the Scriptures, but remaining also beyond the power of suffering; and dying in His human nature, but living in His divine; for the Word is Life. Yea, too, the very wise disciple said, "that He was put to death in the flesh, but made to live in the spirit." But though the Word could not possibly admit the suffering of death into His own nature, yet He appropriates to Himself that which His flesh suffered: for the living bird was baptized in the blood of the dead one; and thus stained with blood, and all but made partaker of the passion, it was sent forth into the wilderness. And so did the Only-begotten Word of God return unto the heavens, with the flesh united unto Him. And strange was the sight in heaven, yea, the throng of angels marvelled when they saw in form like unto us the King of earth, and Lord of might: moreover they said, "Who is This that cometh from Edom?----meaning thereby the earth:----the redness of "His garments is from Bosor:" the interpretation of which is flesh, as being a narrowing and pressing. Then too they |78 inquired, "Are such the wounds in the middle of Thy hands?" and He answered, "With these was I wounded in the house of My beloved." For just as after His return to life from the dead, when showing, with most wise purpose, His hands unto Thomas, He bade him handle both the prints of the nails, and the holes bored in His side: so also, when arrived in heaven, He gave full proof to the holy angels, that Israel was justly east out and fallen from being of His family. For this reason, He shewed His garment stained with blood, and the wounds in His hands, and not as though He could not put them away; for when He rose from the dead, He put off corruption, and with it all its marks and attributes: He retained them therefore, that the manifold wisdom of God, which He wrought in Christ, might now be made known by the Church, according to the plan of salvation, to principalities and powers.
But perhaps some one will say, How can you affirm that Jesus Christ is one and the same Son and Lord, when there were two birds offered? Does not the law very plainly hereby show that there are certainly two Sons and Christs? Yes, verily, men 14 have ere now been brought to such a pitch of impiety, as both to think and say, that the Word of God the Father is one Christ separately by Himself, and that He Who is of the seed of David is another. But we reply to those who, in their ignorance, imagine such to be the case, what the divine Paul writes, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." If, therefore, they affirm that there are two Sons, necessarily there must be two Lords, and two faiths, and the same number of baptisms: and therefore, though he has Christ speaking within him, as he himself affirms, yet will his teaching be false. But this cannot be: away with such a thought! We therefore acknowledge one Lord, even the Only-begotten incarnate Word of God: not putting apart the manhood and the Godhead, but earnestly affirming that the Word of God the Father Himself became man while continuing to be God.
And next, let those who hold a contrary opinion be the |79 speakers.15 'If, they say, there are two Sons, one specially of the seed of David, and the other again separately the Word of God the Father; must not the Word of God the Father be superior in nature to him of the seed of David? What, then, shall we do in seeing the two birds, not distinct in nature from one another, but, on the contrary, of the same kind, and in no point, as regards specific difference, unlike one another.' But they gain nothing by their argument; for great is the distance between the Godhead and the manhood: and in the explanation of examples, we are to understand them according to their fitting analogy; for they fall short of the truth, and often effect but a partial demonstration of the things signified by them. We say, moreover, that the law was a sort of shadow and type, and a painting, as it were, setting things forth before the view of the spectators: but in the pictorial art, the shadows are the foundations for the colours; and when the bright hues of the colours have been laid upon them, then at length the beauty of the painting will flash forth. And in like manner, since it was fitting for the law of Moses to delineate clearly the mystery of Christ, it does not manifest Him as both dying and at the same time living in one and the same bird, lest what was done should have the look of a theatrical juggle; but it contained Him, as suffering slaughter in the one bird, and in the other displayed the same Christ as alive and set free.
But I will endeavour to shew that my argument here does not go beyond the bounds of probability by means of another history. For were any one of our community to wish to see the history of Abraham depicted as in a painting, how would the artist represent him? as doing every thing at once? or as in turn, and variously acting in many different modes, though all the while the same one person? I mean, for instance, as at one time sitting upon the ass with the lad accompanying him, and the servants following behind: then again the ass left with the servants, Isaac laden with the wood, and himself carrying in his hands the knife and the fire: then in another compartment, the same Abraham in a very different attitude, with the lad bound upon the wood, and his right hand armed with the |80 knife ready to strike the blow. Yet it would not be a different Abraham in each place, though represented in very many different forms in the painting, but one and the same everywhere, the painter's art conforming itself constantly to the requirements of the things to be represented. For it would be impossible in one representation to see him performing all the above-mentioned acts. So therefore the law was a painting and type of things travelling with truth, and therefore even though there were two birds, yet was He Who was represented in both but One, as suffering and free from suffering, as dying and superior to death, and mounting up unto heaven as a sort of second first fruits of human nature renewed unto incorruption. For He has made a new pathway for us unto that which is above, and we in due time shall follow Him. That the one bird then was slain, and that the other was baptized indeed in its blood, while itself exempt from slaughter, typified what was really to happen. For Christ died in our stead, and we, who have been baptized into His death, He has saved by His own blood.
Around Him verily was a company of the envious, scribes, that is, and pharisees, who were spectators of His wonderful works, and listened as He taught: "and the power of God was present, it says, to heal him." Is this spoken as though God gave Him the ability to perform the miracles? Did He borrow of another the power? But who would venture to affirm this? Rather it was He Himself, working by His own power, as God and Lord, and not as partaker of some divine grace. For men indeed often, even after being counted worthy of spiritual gifts, yet sometimes occasionally prove infirm, according to the proportion known to Him Who distributes these divine graces. But in the case of the Saviour of us all, there was nought such as this; but His power to heal him was not a human power, but rather one divine and irresistible: for He was God and the Son of God.
[From Cod. D.] Christ alone teaches as being the (true) teacher, and the wisdom of the Father. For all the rest teach as receiving from Him. "And there was also, it says, the power of the Lord |81 upon Him to heal all;" which means that His power to heal was not human, but divine and irresistible. For the rest of the saints at one time receive the power to work cures, and at another time, not: but Jesus, as being God, and the power of the Father, ever healed all.16
[From Cod. D.] When, then, no small number, as it says, of scribes and pharisees, were assembled together, behold certain bringing upon a bed a man who was paralytic; and not being able to come in by the door, they carried him up to the roof, to attempt a strange and novel deed. For having pulled up the tiling, they removed the wood laid there: and still, while this was being done, both Jesus waited patiently, and those who were present; kept silence, watching for the result, and wishing to see what He would say and do. Having uncovered, therefore, the roof, they let down the bed, and lay the paralytic in the midst. What then does the Lord do? Having seen their faith, ----not that of the paralytic, but of the bearers; for it is possible for one to be healed by the faith of others; or, perceiving that the paralytic also believed, He healed him. It is possible, however, that the place into which they let down the bed of the paralytic through the tiles was open to the air, so that they would not have at all to break up the roof. But when the Saviour says to him, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee," He addresses this generally to mankind: for those who believe in Him, being healed of the diseases of the soul, will receive forgiveness of the sins which formerly they had committed. Or He may mean this; I must heal thy soul before I heal thy body: for if this be not done, by obtaining strength to walk, thou dost but sin the more: and even though thou hast not |82 asked for this, yet I as God see the maladies of the soul, which brought upon thee this disease.17
And as it was necessary, now that so large a number of scribes and pharisees had assembled, that some especially divine miracle should be wrought for their benefit, because of the scorn with which they regarded Him, well does the Saviour provide again for them a most wonderful deed. For there was stretched upon a bod a paralytic, overcome with an incurable disease: and as the art of the physicians had proved altogether unavailing, he was carried by his relatives to the Physician Who is from above, even from heaven. And when he was in the presence of Him Who is able to heal, his faith was accepted: and that faith can take away sin, Christ immediately shews; for He proclaims to him as he lay there, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Now some one, I imagine, may say to this; What he wanted was to be delivered from his disease; and why, then, does Christ announce to him the forgiveness of his sin? It was that thou mayest learn that God silently and noiselessly observes the affairs of men, and watches the course of each one's life; and so it is written, "The paths of a man are before the eyes of God; and He looks at all his tracks." And as He is good, and willeth that all men should be saved, He often purifies those who are entangled in sins by inflicting sickness upon their body. For so He somewhere says by the voice of Jeremiah, "Thou shalt be taught, O Jerusalem, by labour and the scourge." And the writer of the book of Proverbs also has somewhere said, "My son, despise not thou the teaching of the Lord, nor faint when thou art convicted by Him, for whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He accepteth." Well, therefore, does Christ announce that He will cut away the cause of the disease, and the very root, as it were, of the malady, even sin: for if this be removed, necessarily must the disease which sprung from it be also at the same time taken away. |83
He then, as was said, being endowed with a most godlike authority, declared the forgiveness of sins. But the declaration disturbs again the ignorant and envious gang of the Pharisees: for they said one to another, "Who is This That speaketh blasphemies?" But thou wouldest not have said this of Him, O Pharisee, if thou hadst known the divine Scriptures, and borne in mind the words of prophecy, and understood the adorable and mighty mystery of the incarnation. But now they involve Him in a charge of blasphemy, determining against Him the uttermost penalty, and condemning Him to death: for the law of Moses commanded that whoever spake blasphemies against God, should suffer death. But no sooner have they arrived at this height of daring, than He shews forthwith that He is God, to convict them once more of intolerable impiety. "For what, saith He, reason ye in your hearts?" If thou, therefore, O Pharisee, sayest, who can forgive sins but One, God; I will also say to thee, Who can know hearts, and see the thoughts hidden in the depth of the understanding, but God only? For He saith Himself somewhere by the voice of the prophets, "I am the Lord that searcheth hearts, and trieth reins." And David also said somewhere concerning both Him and us, "He Who singly formed their hearts." He therefore Who as God knows both the hearts and reins, as God also forgives sins.
But inasmuch as a place still remains open for disbelief, in saying, "Thy sins be forgiven thee:"----for man sees not the forgiven sins with the eyes of the body, whereas the putting off of the disease, and the paralytic's rising up and walking carries with it a clear demonstration of a godlike power:----He adds, "Rise up and carry thy bed, and go to thine house:" and this was done, for he returned unto his house, delivered from the infirmity under which he had so long suffered. It is proved therefore by the very fact, that "the Son 18 of man has |84 power on earth to forgive sins." But of whom says He this? Is it of Himself, or also of us? Both the one and the other are true. For He forgives sins as being the Incarnate God, the Lord of the law: and we too have received from Him this splendid and most admirable grace. For He hath crowned man's nature with this great honour also, having even said to the holy apostles, "Verily I say unto you, whatsoever things ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever things ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And again, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto them: and whosesoever ye bind shall be bound." And what is the occasion on which we find Him thus speaking unto them? It was after He had trampled upon the power of death, and risen from the grave, when He breathed upon them, and said, "Receive the Holy Ghost." For having made them partakers of His nature, and bestowed upon them the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, He also made them sharers of His glory, by giving them power both to remit and to bind sins. And as we have been commanded to perform this very act, how must not He much more Himself remit sins, when He giveth unto others authority to enable them to do so?
For Levi was a publican, a man insatiable after filthy lucre, of unbridled covetousness, careless of justice in his eagerness after what was not his own; for such was the character of the publicans: yet was he snatched from the very workshop of iniquity, and saved beyond hope, at the call of Christ the Saviour of us all. For He said unto him, "Follow Me: and he left all and followed Him," Seest thou that most wise |85 Paul truly says, that "Christ came to save sinners?" Seest thou how the Only-begotten Word of God, having taken upon Him the flesh, transferred unto Himself the devil's goods?
[From the Syriac MS.12,154.]
"Or how can a man enter the house of the strong man, and spoil his vessels, unless first he have bound the strong man, and then he will spoil his vessels." By the house of the strong man, that is of Satan, He means this country upon earth, and his vessels are those who are likeminded with him. For just as we call the saints holy vessels, so there is nothing to prevent our giving the name of "vessels of the devil" to those who are the contrivers of all wickedness. The Only-begotten Word therefore of God at His incarnation entered into the strong man's house, even into this world, and having bound him, and "sunk him in fetters of darkness," as it is written, spoiled his goods.
[From Mai.] And Levi verily was saved, while in us the deed suggests happy hopes; for by the very fact we are taught that repentance will save. Yea, moreover, God Himself, Who is Lord of all, shall be our surety, whore He says by the voice of the prophet, "Return unto Me, and be ye saved, even from the ends of the earth."
[From the Syriac, as above.]
"Which of you that has a hundred sheep, and has lost one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the mountain, and go and seek that which has gone astray? And if he chance to find it, verily I say unto you, that he rejoices more in it, than in the ninety-nine which went not astray." For the multitude of rational created beings which form Christ's flock in heaven and on earth is innumerable, and so great as |86 even to mount up unto a perfect number. For this is what is signified to us by the term "one hundred." The companies then of the holy angels are the ninety-nine; for, as I said, they are many: but the flock on earth is one, but yet useful to complete the number, and sought for also by Christ. Did He then seek it as that which was lost, or as that which had not yet suffered this? But it is plain that that which is lost is sought for. In what manner then had it been lost? By being brought down into sin: by wandering from the divine will, and going far astray from the universal Shepherd.
But none of these things moved the Pharisees: on the contrary, they find fault with them to the disciples; for listen,
There are however some 19 who endeavour to deprive those entangled in sin of the divine gentleness: for they do not admit of repentance, but as it were rebuke the Saviour for seeking His own, and gathering from every quarter that which was scattered: and to these we say, The pharisees set you the example of murmuring, when they saw Levi called, and a crowd of publicans gathered together, and feasting with Christ the Saviour of us all. And going up to the holy apostles, they vented their blame, saying, "Why do ye eat and drink with the publicans?" But they had for answer, "They that are whole need not a physician." For the Saviour of all, as being the physician of spirits, does not withdraw from those in need of Him, but as being able to cleanse them, purposely conversed with those not as yet purified of their sins. But let us see, O pharisee, the overweening pride of thy disposition: for let us take Christ Himself, to Whom all things are known, as the expounder of the great blame that thou broughtest upon thyself by thy overbearing treatment of sinners. For speaking of a Pharisee who vaunted himself when praying, and of a certain publican who accused himself, He said, "Verily I say unto you, that he went down justified to his house rather than that Pharisee." The publican |87 therefore, who confessed his sin, is justified rather than the haughty Pharisee. But for what reason do the Pharisees blame the Saviour for eating with sinners? Because it was the law to put a distinction between the holy and the profane: that is, that whatever was hallowed was not to be brought into contact with things profane. They made the accusation therefore as vindicating the law forsooth: but really it was envy against the Lord, and readiness to find fault. But He shews them that He is present now, not as a judge, but as a physician; and performs the proper duty of the physician's office, in being in the company of those in need of healing. But no sooner had they received an explanation of their first accusation, than they bring forward another, finding fault because His disciples did not fast, wishing to obtain hereby an opportunity against Himself 20.
But observe their perseverance in malice: for no sooner have they received an explanation of their first accusation, than they change from one thing to another, in the hope of finding an opportunity of convicting the holy disciples, and Jesus Himself, of disregard of the law. But they are told in reply, now is the bride-chamber, the time of calling, the time of instruction: the children are being nursed up; those who are called are being fed with milk: fasting is not yet seasonable. For yes! say they, you feast with publicans and sinners, although the law commands that the pure should not hold intercourse with the impure: and your pretext for transgressing the law is your love for mankind. But why fast ye not according to the custom of the just, and those who wish to live according to the law? But in answer to such objections one may say, Do you understand at all yourself, O Jew, the proper method of fasting? For as the prophet Isaiah says, "On the days of your fasts ye find your own wills, and goad all who are subject unto you. If ye fast for lawsuits and contentions, and strike the lowly with fists, why fast ye for Me? This is |88 not the fast I have chosen, saith the Lord." And dost thou then, when thou thyself knowest not how to fast, blame the holy apostles for not fasting after thy fashion?
And to view it in another light, those who are made wise by the new covenant in Christ, fast rationally; that is, by humbling themselves in the eyes of God, and imposing upon themselves as it were a voluntary sentence of labour and abstinence, that they may obtain forgiveness of their offences, or win some fresh spiritual gift, or even to mortify the law of sin that is in their fleshly members. But this mode of fasting thou art ignorant of, O Pharisee! For thou hast refused to receive the heavenly Bridegroom, Who is the planter and teacher of every virtue, even Christ. Moreover, the saints indeed fast that they may quell the passions of the body by exhausting it: but Christ needed not to fast for the perfecting of virtue, because, as being God, He was free from all passion; nor did His companions, because they received of His grace, and were made strong, and wrought virtue oven without fasting. And even though He fasted for the forty days, it was not to mortify any passions in Himself, but to set an example for men in His own conduct of the law of abstinence. With good reason therefore He defends Himself by the words which the Evangelist goes on to record.
Observe, I pray again, the manner in which Christ shews that they have no share in the feast, but are altogether strangers to the joy felt on His account, and without part in the world's groat festival. For the revelation of our Saviour to the world was nothing else than a general festival, at which He spiritually united to Himself the nature of man, to be as it were His bride: that she who had been long barren might be fruitful, and blessed with a numerous offspring. All therefore are the children of the bridechamber who are called by Him through the new message of the Gospel: but not the scribes and Pharisees, who attached themselves solely to the shadow of the law. But as He had once granted permission to the children of the bridechamber not to afflict themselves, as a |89 a concession suitable to the season, inasmuch as they were keeping a spiritual feast, that fasting might not be entirely rejected by us, He adds most suitably.
For all things are good in their season. But what is the meaning of the bridegroom being taken away from them? It is His being taken up into heaven.
But that the institutions of Christ cannot be received by those who live according to the law, nor admitted into the hearts of such as have not as yet received the renewing by the Holy Ghost, the Lord shews by saying, that "a tattered patch cannot be put upon a new garment, nor can old skins hold new wine." For the first covenant has grown old, nor was it free from fault. Those therefore who adhere to it, and keep at heart the antiquated commandment, have no share in the new order of things in Christ: "For in Him all things are become new:" but their mind being decayed, they have no concord nor point of mutual agreement with the ministers of the new covenant. The God of all accordingly somewhere said of them by one of the holy prophets, that "a new heart and a new spirit will I put into them." And David also sings, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." And we have been commanded also " to put off the old man, and to put on the new man, renewed after the image of Him that created it." And Paul also gives counsel, saying, "Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Those therefore who have not as yet received the renewing of the spirit, are also unable to prove the good and acceptable, and perfect will of God. |90
[From the Syriac, as before.]
"And no man puts now wine into old skins." The heart of the Jews then is an old skin, and therefore cannot hold the new wine: for this is the saving commandment of the Gospel, making glad the heart of man. But Christ hath filled us with these great blessings, by bountifully endowing us with spiritual gifts, and opening the pathway wide unto all virtue. |91
[From Mai.] Yet a new covenant God promiseth us, now that "the first hath waxed old and is near to vanish away," according to the words of the divine Paul. Yea, He even says by one of tho holy prophets, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will perfect with the house of Israel, and with tho house of Judah, a new covenant: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in tho day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt." If therefore the new covenant is the second, and different from the first, there is every necessity for those who wish to live according to it, to abandon the old laws, and conform to those which will guide them into the newness of the gospel polity. But of all this we can see that the Scribes and Pharisees comprehended nothing: for being altogether destitute of knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, they had but one sole purpose, on every occasion to find fault with the divine and heavenly preaching. They lie in wait therefore for the holy apostles in their constant attendance upon our common Saviour Christ, and tell Him concerning them; "Behold we see those who are under Thy instruction acting contrary to the precepts of the law: for they do what it is not lawful to do on the sabbaths: for while the law enjoins men to do no work on the sabbath, and to meddle with no labour whatsoever, tho disciples are rubbing ears of corn with their hands." But tell me, dost not thou thyself, when setting thy sabbath meal, break the bread? Why then dost thou blame others? But that we may use against thee the bulwark of the Saviour's words, listen;
Now even though David thus acted contrary to what tho law approves, yet he is rightly and justly esteemed by us as |92 worthy of all admiration: for he was in truth a saint and prophet. Since, therefore, the law of Moses expressly commands, "Judge just judgment, and regard not the person in judgment;" how, saith He, condemn ye My disciples, while ye still admire as a saint and prophet the blessed David, although he did not keep Moses' command?
But by the loaves (of the shewbread), there is clearly indicated to us the bread that cometh down from heaven to be set forth upon the holy tables of the churches: and all the furniture of the table, used for the performance of its mystical service, was a plain type of the divine treasures. But spiritually [the bread signifies] the twelve Apostles: of whom we shall speak in duo order, when our discourse reaches the disciples themselves.
What is meant by mercy? and what by sacrifice? By mercy then is signified, Justification and grace in Christ: even that which is by faith. For we have been justified, not by the works of the law that we have done, but by His great mercy. And sacrifice means the law of Moses.
[From Mai.] But His teaching was ever of things too high for reason, and such as made plain to His hearers the pathway of salvation |93 opened through Him: and immediately after His teaching He displayed His godlike power, having first by words smoothed, as it were, the road to belief. For the miracle sometimes converts unto faith those who had disbelieved the word. But the Pharisees watched Him, to see if He would heal on the sabbath: for such is the nature of an envious man, that he makes the praises of others food for his own disease, and wickedly is maddened by their reputation. And what once more said He to this, Who knoweth all things, Who searcheth the hearts, and understandeth whatever is therein? "For with Him is the light," as Scripture declares. "He spake to him that had the withered hand, Stand forth into the midst." And why did He do this? It might perhaps be to move the cruel and unpitying Pharisee to compassion: the man's malady perhaps might shame them, and persuade them to allay the flames of envy.
Most wise in very deed is this question, and a statement most suitable to meet their folly. For if it be lawful to do good on the sabbath, and nothing prevents the sick being pitied by God, cease thus picking up opportunities for faultfinding against Christ, and bringing down on thy own head the sentence which the Father has decreed against those who dishonour the Son: for thou hast heard Him where He says of Him by the voice of David, "And I will cut off His enemies from before His face, and put to flight those that hate Him." But if it be not lawful to do good on the sabbath, and the law forbids the saving of life, thou hast made thyself an accuser of the law, thou hast slandered the commandment, for which the ministry of Moses is regarded with admiration. No, he replies, the God of all did not enact the law of the sabbath for Himself, but for us rather, whose neck is bowed to it. Thou sayest well; I assent to thy words; therefore that which is divine is free from the compulsion of the law. Why, then, dost thou blame Christ for wishing also to shew mercy on the sabbath, and benefit a living soul? And were it our wish to examine closely the law enacted for the sabbath, we should find it ordained by God for purposes of mercy. For He commanded to |94 do no work on the sabbath, and entirely to abstain from labour, and even to give rest at the same time to the irrational animals. For He said, that its purpose was, "that thy manservant may rest, and thy maidservant, thy ox, and thy beast of burden, and all thy cattle." But He Who has mercy on the ox and other animals, how would not He pity on the sabbath day a man who was attacked by a severe and irremediable malady? 21
Is not the miracle enough to produce faith? Thou seest Him working with godlike dignity, and with supreme power healing the sick, and travaillest thou with murder, bred of envy and malice?
All that Christ did was for our edification, and for the benefit of those who believe in Him; and by proposing to us His own conduct as a sort of pattern of the spiritual mode of life, He would make us true worshippers. Let us see, therefore, in the pattern and example provided for us by Christ's acts, the manner in which we ought to make our supplications unto God. We must pray secretly and in concealment, and with no one seeing us: for this is the signification of Jesus going into the mountain alone, and praying, as it were, leisurely. And this He has Himself taught us, saying; "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet." For we ought to pray, not seeking after glory, but "lifting up holy hands," while the soul, as it were, mounts aloft to the contemplation of God, withdrawing from all tumult, and quitting worldly anxiety. And this we must do not with fickleness, nor with a listless feebleness; but, on the contrary, with earnestness and zeal, and a patience worthy of admiration: for thou hast heard that Jesus did not merely pray, but that He also passed the night in this duty.
But possibly the enemy of the truth will not endure us when thus speaking: for he 22 says, 'He prays and requests from the |95 Father what He hath not: how then do yo still say, that He is both consubstantial and equal to Him in all things, and in no way whatsoever unlike Him? "For without all controversy the less is blessed of the greater:" and decidedly he who gives is greater than he who makes request to receive something.' Let then those who pervert the right faith teach us first of all, of what they imagine the Son to be in need? And what did He seek to obtain as not as yet possessing it? He is the true light; He is in His own nature life, and the cause of life; He is the Lord also of powers; He is wisdom and righteousness; the Creator and train or of the universe; superior to every thing that has been brought into being; is the King of the universe; the dispenser of heaven and earth; the giver, with God the Father, of every blessing. And this thou wilt learn by what the blessed Paul has somewhere written; "Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ." He is conspicuous on the throne far above, and is glorified by the whole rational creation. Accordingly He is by substance the heir of all the divine dignities of God the Father: and therefore spake He unto Him, that "all that is Mine is Thine; and Thine Mine: and I am glorified in them." But He Who has every thing that belongs to God the Father as His very own, of what is He still in need? But if, in fine, He is in need of any thing, and they affirm that this is true, there is nothing to prevent our saying, that there are certain things of which the Father Himself is in need. For if all that the Son has is the Father's, but there is something of which the Son is in need, therefore must the Father too be similarly circumstanced: for all that the Son hath is the Father's. But the Father is all perfect, and is deficient of no good whatsoever that is suitable to Deity: therefore is the Son all perfect, as having all that the Father hath, and being His image and the impress of His substance: but in the impress there is displayed entirely the original form, and in the original form there exists entirely the impress. And thus much then as respects them.
And those too who have been caught by the empty declamations of Nestorius, say that it is entirely unbefitting the Son, considered as God by nature, to pray: and rather belongs to |96 the man, 23coupled with Him by way of connexion, to him, that is, of the seed of David. He it was therefore who offered up the prayer. What reply, then, shall we make to this? That ye are utterly ignorant of the mystery of the incarnation of the Only-begotten. Remember the blessed Evangelist John, who says; "And the Word was made flesh." And of this the all-wise Paul has given us a plain proof by saying concerning Him: "For He taketh not hold at all of the angels, but taketh hold of the seed of Abraham: whence it became Him to be made like unto His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining unto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." On what account therefore does Nestorius eject from the measure of human nature Him Who, though divinely begotten as the Word by God the Father, yet humbled Himself unto emptying, even to becoming our brother, by being made like unto us, and similar in all things to the inhabitants of the earth, sin only excepted? For having become like unto us from His exceeding gentleness and love to mankind, He disdains not human things: but sets before us His conduct as a type of goodness unto the end, that as I said we may be earnest in following His footsteps.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, having spent the night in prayer, and having conversed with His Father and God in heaven in a way ineffable and beyond our powers of understanding, and such as is known solely to Himself,----even therein making Himself an example unto us of that which is necessary for salvation; for He taught us in what way we too may rightly and blamelessly offer our prayers:----comes down from the mountain, and appoints those who were to be the world's teachers, |97 according to the words He spake, "Ye are the light of the world." And of this appointment of the holy Apostles, the blessed David also makes mention, addressing himself, as it were, to Christ: "Thou shalt make them rulers over all the earth; they shall make mention of Thy name in every successive generation." For verily, while they were in the body, they made mention of the glory of Christ, telling His mystery both in cities and villages: and now that they have been called to the mansions that are above, none the less do they still even thus converse with us about Him, by the most wise history which they have written concerning Him. And those, indeed, who were appointed priests according to the law of Moses, even Aaron and his company, were made beautiful to the senses by vestments suitable to their priestly dignity; but the divine disciples, being adorned with spiritual gifts, had entrusted to them the ministry of the Gospel oracles. For it was said unto them, "Heal the sick: cast out daemons: cleanse lepers: raise the dead." And being thus invested with Christ's power, they have filled the whole world with astonishment. But mark the extreme moderation of the Evangelist: for he does not simply say that the holy Apostles were appointed, but rather, by introducing the record of these chief ones each by name, takes care that no one should venture to enrol himself in the company of those that were chosen. For as Paul saith, "No man taketh this honour upon himself, but he that is called by God." And though the holy Apostles were called by name to this great and splendid dignity, yet from time to time some men have gone to such a pitch of madness and audacity, as even to name themselves Apostles of Christ, and to usurp an honour not granted unto them. Of these the divine disciples have made mention; for they say, "Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into angels of righteousness. And no wonder: for Satan even transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also transform themselves into angels of righteousness." But we neither acknowledge nor will receive any one, except those only so named in the Evangelic writings, and him who was appointed after them, the most wise Paul: to whom also the Saviour Himself bore witness, saying, that |98 he is a vessel of election for Me, to carry My name before all the heathen."
24 The law indeed pointed them out before in type, and the prophets also proclaimed them. As, for instance, it is written in the Mosaic record, "And ye shall take fine flour, and make it into twelve loaves: and he shall put them in two rows upon the pure table before the Lord. And ye shall put upon the row frankincense and salt: and they shall be for loaves, sot before the Lord for a memorial." For the bread that came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world, Who else can it be but Christ the Saviour of the universe? And in imitation too of Him, the blessed disciples also are named loaves: for having been made partakers of Him Who nourishes us unto life eternal, they also nourish by their own writings those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. And as the Saviour Who is the true light called the disciples also light:----"for ye are the light of the world:"----so also being Himself the broad of life, He has bestowed upon His disciples to be ranked as loaves." 25 And observe, I pray, the marvellous art of the law: "for ye shall put, it says, upon the loaves frank-incense and salt." Now the frankincense is the symbol of a sweet odour; and the salt that of understanding and good sense: both of which existed in the highest degree in the holy Apostles. For their life was one of a sweet savour, as they also said, that "we are a sweet savour of Christ unto God:" and they were moreover also full of understanding, so that I hear the prophet David even singing of them in the Psalms: "There is Benjamin in entrancement: the princes of Judah are their leaders: the princes of Zebulon, the princes of Nephthalim." For the blessed disciples were chosen out of almost every tribe of Israel, and were the bearers of light to the world, "holding up the word of life." And the wonder indeed |99 is this, that the sages of the Greeks possess a splendid copiousness of speech, and an admirable beauty of language: but the disciples of our Saviour were mere artificers, and boatmen, and fishers, having no boast of words, no fluency of picked phrases, and in expression indeed were simple men, but rich in knowledge: yet is the literature of the Greeks, with its sonorous phrases, silent; while the power of the Evangelic preaching has possession of the world. God also makes mention of them by the voice of Jeremiah, saying of the enemy of all, even Satan; "Woe to him, who multiplieth for himself that which is not his, and maketh his collar thick and heavy: for suddenly shall they arise that shall bite him, and thy adversaries shall wake up, and thou shalt be their prey." For Satan had gathered unto him all the inhabitants of the earth, though they were not his, and had caused them to be his worshippers, making his collar heavy: but those who were to plunder his goods woke up: for the net of the apostolic teaching caught all those that were in error, and brought back unto God the whole world.
AND how was the wise Paul like unto Christ? Did he establish the heavens, as did the Word of God? Did he set the earth upon its firm foundation, and bring forth the sun and moon, and the stars, and light? How therefore was he like Him? By being an imitator of that human virtue, which Christ shewed forth for our example.
But observe, I pray, the manner of the election. For the most wise Evangelist says that it was not done in a corner and secretly, but rather when many disciples were gathered together, and a vast crowd from all the country of the Jews, and from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon. These latter were |100 idolaters, lame in the hollow of both knees,26 in part observing the customs of the Jews, but yet not altogether abandoning their idolatrous practices. The election, therefore, was held in the presence of all these spectators, and teachers appointed for all beneath the heaven: and this duty they also fulfilled, summoning the Jews from their legal worship, and those who served demons, from Grecian 27 error to the acknowledgment of the truth.
And when He had appointed the holy Apostles, He performed very many wonderful miracles, rebuking demons, delivering from incurable diseases whosoever drew near unto Him, and displaying His own most godlike power: that both the Jews, who had run together unto Him, and those from the country of the Greeks, might know, that Christ, by Whom they were honoured with the dignity of the Apostolate, was not some ordinary man of those in our degree, but, on the contrary, God, as being the Word That was made man, but retained, nevertheless, His own glory. For "power went forth from Him, and healed all." For Christ did not borrow strength from some other person, but being Himself God by nature, even though He had become flesh, He healed them all, by the putting forth of power over the sick.
If further you wish to learn the interpretation of the Apostles' names, know that Peter is explained as meaning "loosing," or "knowing:" Andrew as "comely strength," or "answering:" James as "one who takes labour by the heel:" John, "the grace of the Lord:" Matthew, "given:" Philip, "the opening of the hands," or "the mouth of a lamp:" Bartholomew, "the son suspending water:" Thomas, an "abyss," or "a twin:" James, the son of Alphaeus, "the supplanting |101 "of the passage of life:" Judas, "thanksgiving:" and Simon, "obedience." 28
[Selected footnotes moved to the end and renumbered. Almost all marginalia, any purely textual footnotes, most Greek or Syriac material has been omitted without notice]
1. e The Syriac translator explains his own term: the Greek is "that so and so leads a good life."
2. g The MS. is imperfect, and ends here abruptly.
3. h The two, viz,. His fasting for forty days without His body wasting; and His permitting it to feel hunger afterwards.
4. k T. Aquinas here inserts: "But how is the Son adored, if, as the heretics say, He is a creature? What charge can be brought against those, who have served the creature instead of the Creator, if we worship as God, the Son Who, according to them, is a creature?"
5. 1 Mai notices that this passage is either taken from the Commentary on the Psalms, or vice versa. Cf. Mai's Patrum Nov. Bibl. vol. iii. pp. 419. 420. on Ps. xc. 9.
6. m As the Greek Church denies the procession of the Spirit from the Son, and says that it is not taught by their Fathers; and as S. Cyril in a previous passage, (cf. c. iii. v. 21.), speaks as if he held, that though the Spirit is the Son's, yet that It proceeds from the Father only, this passage is of great value, and therefore I append the original. Τὸ ἐξ αὐτοῦ προχεόμενον πνεῦμα ταῖς ἄνω δυνάμεσιν ἐνιεὶς ὡς ἑαυτοῦ. Another passage to the same effect will be found in the treatise against Nestorius, vol. vi. pp. 98, 99, where S. Cyril thus comments on Luke x. 19.: "The Spirit, therefore, is His own, and from Him: of which a plain proof is, that He can give It to others also, and that not by measure, as the blessed Evangelist says. For the supreme God has measured out to the saints the grace of the Spirit, giving to one the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another the gift of healings: and this is, I think, the meaning of those thus endowed having the power by measure. But our Lord Jesus Christ, pouring out the Spirit of His own fulness, even as doth also the Father, gives it, not as by measure to those who are worthy to receive it." A more full account of the teaching of the Fathers upon the procession of the Holy Ghost, may be seen in Owen's Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, pp.169-178.
7. n In Cramer's Catena, in which this passage occurs anonymously, as is often the case with extracts from S. Cyril, the conclusion is as follows: "Convicting them of disbelieving and denying, that these prophecies chiefly apply to Him, by saying that Elias had been sent to a single widow, though there were many at that time in Israel; and that the prophet Elisaeus had healed one leper, Naaman the Syrian, though there were very many of them in Israel; because of all the widows she alone was found faithful, and he in like manner of all the lepers."
8. o Cr. reads ἀναβαίνει for ἐκβαίνει, and proceeds thus; "for neither did He ever speak these things in the way of argument, but as one enunciating law, He spake things that surpass the law, and with godlike authority rebuked the unclean spirits." Aq. agrees with M., but adds, "changing the letter to the truth, and the figures to the spiritual meaning," with which the conclusion of M.'s next extract agrees.
9. p The word ψυχή in Greek signifies "the vital principle of the body:" and as there is no equivalent in English, a difficulty occasionally arises in translating it. Sometimes it signifies "sensation;" so St.Paul and St.Jude call those ψυχικούς sensuous, who live a mere animal life. Sometimes it means "a person's self:" so the rich man said to his ψυχὴ, or self, Self, thou hast much goods, &c.: and such is the meaning of its Hebrew and Syriac equivalent ..., "that which exists by breathing;" and so one's self: still even here there may be an allusion to man's animal nature, which was the sole part of him which the rich man valued. Sometimes it is used in opposition to the body, because the life is something better than the frame which it vivifies; and so S. Cyril seems to understand it in this place, though doubtless it is rightly translated in our version, "But save his life." Certainly just above he had used it for man's moral state, saying, that we must not think evil of the soul of those who suffer from bodily maladies. In all cases the ψυχή is rather the mortal than the immortal, and is opposed to the πνεῦμα, although even in this word, as in Spiritus, the original idea is taken from the physical act of breathing. Possibly, however, we often take the word "soul" in the A.V. in a sense not intended by the translators. For by the gradual change of language, the meaning of the term has been limited since their time to its higher signification, and a different sense thereby given to many passages of Scripture; such, for instance, as, "What is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" that is, his life. (Mat. xvi. 26.) So "to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine." (Ps. xxxiii. 19.) Wicklif uses soul-haver as equivalent to animal: "Thou shalt be cursed among alle the soul-hauers and beestis of the erthe." (Gen. hi. 14.) From not attending to this gradual alteration in the meaning of words, curious misunderstandings often arise; as, for instance, in an emended Book of Common Prayer lately put forth, the word 'wealth,' which signifies our general well-being, is expunged as being supposed to signify money.
10. q S. Cyril refers in these words to the doctrine of Nestorius, who taught that in the one person of Christ the two natures existed separately, so as to energize ἀνὰ μέρος in turn, or rather apart from one another, sometimes one nature exerting its influence, and sometimes the other. In explaining, therefore, a miracle such as that before us, in which the flesh of our Lord performs the proper act of Deity, Nestorius must have used some such argument as S. Cyril here brings forward, and to conjecture from the absolute use of ὁ Μονογενής, and other technical Nestorian terms, it was a quotation. The catholic doctrine respecting the nature of our Lord has been thus defined by the Council of Chalcedon (Hard. Conc. ii. 456): that the two natures in our Lord remain distinct and unaltered, and not blended and confused, as the Eutychians taught, into some new third nature; but, on the other hand, that they are inseparable in their action, and while each preserves its own proper attributes, the two united form but one person and substance.
11. s Βελίαρ is the reading of most of the MSS. and Fathers. The Hebrew is Belial, and signifies "worthlessness," from ... without, and ... utility. Sons of Belial, therefore, as in i Sam, ii. 12., according to the ordinary Hebrew use of "son," signifies "worthless persons." Bar-bahlul says, that the word Beliar is derived from ... and means Lord of the air.
12. t That is, One person consisting of both natures. The passage referred to by Mai, as preceding this extract in Aquinas, is from the Thesaurus.
13. u As the Masoretic punctuation of this word as Miriam, is apparently of very modern date, I have retained the spelling of the LXX. Even Jerome apparently had never heard of it.
14. y The Nestorians, to whom this doctrine is several times expressly assigned by S. Cyril in this Commentary. The phrase, "one and the same Son and Lord," was afterwards formally enacted by the Council of Chalcedon. Cf. above.
15. z The Monophysites, whose doctrines Eutyches subsequently pushed to an extreme.
16. a This passage being evidently collected out of the preceding, shews that the writers of the smaller Catenae rather gave an epitome in their own words than an exact transcript of the Fathers. It changes the difficult reading of the old MSS. αὐτὸν into πάντας.
17. c This extract from D., which I had previously marked as suspicious, I find assigned in Cramer's Catena to Titus Bostrensis.
18. d In Syriac, the ordinary language of Palestine when our Lord was upon earth, the phrase "son of man," is equivalent to man simply: and the word [Syriac] 'man' signifies "any," "some," so that we even find [Syriac], literally Deus homo, as the translation of Θεός τις. In Hebrew [Hebrew] is seldom found, except in poetry, but men are called "sons of Adam," and Adam is even used simply for "any one," as in Lev. i. 2. "Son of man" therefore signifies man absolutely, and so even Adam is called [Syriac], son of man, in the Syriac version of 1 Cor. xv. 45. This sometimes leads to an ambiguity in Scripture, as that noticed in the text by S. Cyril: and again, Luke vi. 5, where some interpret that our Saviour is Lord of the Sabbath day, whereas the sense requires us to understand it of mankind generally.
19. e The Novatians are probably meant, who subsequently are more than once referred to in the course of the Commentary.
20. f This extract, and some sentences in the next, apparently belong to the Commentary upon St. Mark, cf. c. ii. vv. 1.7, 18, and confirm Cramer's opinion, upon the authority of the Laudian Greek Codex xxxiii. in the Bodleian, that the Catena upon that Evangelist is to be assigned to S. Cyril, rather than to Victor of Antioch; who possibly nevertheless compiled it, as in many codices it bears his name.
21. i This extract, which is taken from the same MSS. A. and H., which contained the dubious passage in page 92, [conf. note h.], is assigned by Cramer's MS. to Titus of Bostra.
23. k συναφθέντι κατὰ συνάφειαν Nestorius' favourite word: upon his use of which Cyril observes in his Commonitorium to Posidonius: "Therefore he always avoids the word 'union,' ἔνωσις, and calls it instead συνάφεια, a connection, like one who is from without, and as God said to Jesus, As I was with Moses, so will I also be with thee." Hard. Conc. i. 1319.
24. l Mai's difficulty from finding that this passage is quoted in two codices as from a homily of S. Cyril, and also that occasionally direct addresses are made as to persons present, is cleared up by the Syriac, which shews that the whole commentary was delivered in a course of sermons.
25. m In the original ἄρτος both means "bread," and a "loaf:" but this identity of the terms cannot be preserved in the translation.
26. o The ἰγνύα is the hollow of the knee, where Jacob's sinew shrank. The Jews thus were lame of one knee, the Sidonians of both, as having mingled up Judaic rites with their heathenism. Conf. i Kings, xviii. 21.
27. p Graecian in the Fathers is often equivalent to heathen. So "the sages of the Greeks" above means the chief writers of heathenism generally: and so S. Chrysostom, Hom. cxxi. T. v. p. 792., says, speaking of those who preceded Abraham.
28. q The explanation given by S. Cyril of the names of the Apostles corresponds in great measure with that in S.Jerome.
Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 27-38. (Luke 6:20-7:28) pp. 102-148.
Fragments from Sermon 27
[From the Syriac] Those are the Saviour's words, when directing His disciples into the newness of the Gospel life after their appointment to the apostolate. But we must see of what poor it is that He speaks such great things: for in the Gospel according to Matthew it is written, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven:" wishing us to understand by the poor in spirit the man who entertains lowly thoughts of himself, and whoso mind, so to speak, is closely reefed, and hi3 heart gentle, and ready to yield, and entirely free from the guilt of pride.
[From Mai.] Such a one is worthy of admiration, and the friend of God; yea, He even said by one of the holy prophets; "Upon whom will I look but upon the humble and peaceable, and that trembleth at my words?" And the prophet David also said, that "a contrite and humbled heart God will not set at nought." Moreover, the Saviour Himself also says, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble in heart." In the lessons, however, now set before us, He says, that the poor shall be blessed, without the addition of its being in spirit. But the Evangelists so speak, not as contradicting one another, but as dividing oftentimes the narrative among them: and at one time they recapitulate the same particulars, and at another that which has been omitted by one, another includes in his narrative, that nothing essential for their benefit may be hidden from those who believe on Christ.----[From the Syriac.] It seems likely, therefore, that He here means by the poor, whom He pronounces blessed, such as care not for wealth, and are superior to covetousness, and despisers of base gifts, and of a disposition free from the love of money, and who set no value upon the ostentatious display of riches. |103
And so the most wise Paul manifestly guides us into the best doctrines, where he says, "Let your disposition be free from the love of money, being contented with what it has:" and to this he has added, that "having nourishment and the means of shelter, we will be therewith content." For it was necessary, absolutely necessary, for those whose business it would be to proclaim the saving message of the Gospel to have a mind careless about wealth, and occupied solely with the desire of better things. The argument, however, does not affect all whose means are abundant, but those only whose desire is set upon riches: and who are these? All to whom our Saviour's words apply: "Store not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth."
In Matthew, however, again He says; "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled:" but here He simply says, that "those that hunger shall be filled." We say, therefore, that it is a great and noble thing to hunger and thirst after righteousness: that is, habitually to take part in earnest endeavours after piety:----for such is the meaning of righteousness:----as if it were our meat and drink. And inasmuch as we ought to give to this passage also a meaning, in accordance with the foregoing explanations, we say again as follows: The Saviour pronounced those blessed who love a voluntary poverty, to enable them honourably, and without distraction, to practise the apostolic course of life. For it is in plain keeping with the having neither gold nor silver in their purses, nor two coats, to endure also very great hardness in their way of life, and scarcely obtain food for their need. But this is a burdensome thing for those who are suffering poverty and persecutions, and therefore He That knoweth hearts, very suitably does not permit us to be dispirited because of the results of poverty: for He says, that those who hunger now for their piety's sake towards Him shall be filled: that is, they shall enjoy the intellectual and spiritual blessings that are in store. |104
[From the Syriac.] He pronounces them that weep blessed, and says that they shall laugh. But by those who weep, we say that those are not meant who simply shed tears from their eyes: for this is a thing common to all without exception, whether believers or unbelievers, if ought happen of a painful nature; but those rather who shun a life of merriment and vanity, and carnal pleasures. ----[From Mai.] For of the one we say, that they live in enjoyment and laughter; whereas believers abandoning luxury and the careless life of carnal pleasures, and all but weeping because of their abhorrence of worldly things, are, our Saviour declares, blessed; and for this reason, as having commanded us to choose poverty, He also crowns with honours the things which necessarily accompany poverty: such, for instance, as the want of things necessary for enjoyment, and the lowness of spirits caused by privation: for it is written, that "many are the privations of the just, and the Lord shall deliver them out of them all."
Already did the Lord mention persecution, even before the Apostles had been sent on their mission. The Gospel anticipated what would happen. For it was altogether to be expected that those who proclaimed the Gospel message, and made the Jews abandon their legal mode of worship to learn the Gospel way of virtuous living, while too they won over idolaters to the acknowledgment of the truth, would come in contact with many impious and unholy men. For such are they who, in their enmity against piety, excite wars and persecutions against those who preach Jesus. To prevent them, therefore, from falling into unreasonable distress whenever the time should arrive at which such events were sure to befal them from some quarter or other, He forewarns them for their benefit, that even the assault of things grievous to bear will bring its reward and advantage to them. For they shall reproach you, He says, as deceivers, and as trying to mislead: they shall separate you from them, even from their friendship and society: but let none of these things trouble you, He says: |105 for what harm will their intemperate tongue do a well-established mind? For the patient suffering of these things, will not be without fruit. He says, to those who know how to endure 1 piously, but is the pledge of the highest happiness. And besides, He points out to them for their benefit, that nothing strange will happen unto them, even when suffering these things: but that, on the contrary, they will resemble those who before their time were the bearers to the Israelites of the words that came from God above. They were persecuted, they were sawn asunder, they perished slain by the sword, they endured reproaches unjustly cast upon them. He would therefore have them also understand that they shall be partakers with those whose deeds they have imitated; nor shall they fail in winning the prophet's crown, after having travelled by the same road. |106
(6:24) [From the Syriac. 2 MS.14,551.] * * * * * * * * receive those things that will lead you unto life eternal. For it is written, that "man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that goeth forth from the mouth of God." All Scripture, indeed, is inspired of God; but this is especially true of the proclamations in the Gospels: for He Who in old time delivered unto the Israelites by the ministry of Moses the law that consisted in types and shadows, the very same having become man spake unto us, as the wise Paul testifies, writing; "God, Who in divers manners spake in old time to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son:" and "we are taught of God:" for Christ is in truth God and the Son of God. Let us therefore fix our careful attention upon what He says: and scrupulously examine the very depth of His meaning. For "Woe, He says, unto you rich, in that ye have received your consolation."
Very fitly is this added to His previous discourse: for having already shewn that poverty for God's sake is the mother of every blessing, and said that the hungering and weeping of the saints would not be without a reward, He proceeds to speak of the opposite class of things, and says of them, that they are productive of grief and condemnation. For He blames indeed the rich, and those who indulge immoderately in pleasures, and are ever in merriment, in order that He may leave no means untried of benefitting those who draw near unto Him, and chief of all the holy Apostles. For if the endurance of poverty for God's sake, together with hunger and tears:----by which is meant the being exposed to pain and afflictions in the cause of piety:----be profitable before God, and He pronounce a threefold 3 blessedness on those who embrace them; as a necessary consequence, those are liable to the utmost blame, |107 who have prized the vices, that are the opposites of these virtues.
In order therefore that men may be won by the desire of the crowns of reward unto willingness to labour, and voluntary poverty for God's sake; and, on the other hand, by fear of the threatened punishment, may flee from riches, and from living in luxury and merriment, that is to say, in worldly amusements, He says that the one are heirs of the kingdom of heaven, but that the others will be involved in the utmost misery: "for ye have received, He says, your consolation."
And this truth we are permitted to behold beautifully delineated in the Gospel parables like as in a painting. For we have heard read that there was a rich man decked in purple and fine linen 4, at whose gate Lazarus was cast, racked with poverty and pain; and the rich man felt no pity for him.----But Lazarus, it says, was carried to Abraham's bosom; while he was in torments and in flame. And when he saw Lazarus at rest and in happiness in Abraham's bosom, he besought saying, "Father Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger 5 in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." But what was blessed Abraham's reply? "Son, thou hast received thy good things in thy life, and Lazarus evil things; but now he is here in happiness, and thou art tormented." True therefore is what is here said by Christ of those who live in wealth and luxury and merriment, that "ye have received your consolation:" and of those who now are full, that they shall |108 hunger, and that those who laugh now shall weep and lament.
But come and let us examine the matter among ourselves. Our Saviour in His parables has thus spoken: "Two men went up unto the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. And the Pharisee forsooth prayed saying, God I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of mankind, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; or like this publican. I fast twice in the week: and I pay tithes of all that I possess. But the publican, He says, did not venture to lift up his eyes unto heaven, but stood smiting his breast and saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. Verily I say unto you, that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other." For the proud Pharisee was boasting over the publican, and indecently assuming the rank of a lawgiver, would have condemned one, on whom it was rather his duty to have shewn pity: but the other was the accuser of his own infirmity, and thereby aided in his own justification; for it is written, "Declare thou thy sins first, that thou mayest be justified." Let us therefore unloose, that is, set free those who are suffering sicknesses from having been condemned by us, in order that God may also unloose us from our faults: for He condemneth not, but rather sheweth mercy.
Closely neighbouring, so to speak, upon the virtues which we have just mentioned is compassion, of which He next makes mention. For it is a most excelling thing, and very pleasing to God, and in the highest degree becoming to pious souls: and concerning which it may suffice for us to imprint upon our mind that it is an attribute of the divine nature. "For be ye, He says, merciful, as also your heavenly Father is merciful." But that we shall be recompensed with bountiful hand by God, Who giveth all things abundantly to them that love Him, He has given us full assurance by saying, that "good measure, and squeezed down, and running over shall they give into your bosom:" adding this too, "for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you." There is however an apparent incompatibility between the two declarations: for if we are to receive "good measure, and squeezed down, and running over," how "shall we be paid back the same measure wherewith we mete?" for this implies an equal recompense, and not one of |109 far-surpassing abundance. What say we then? The all wise Paul frees us from our difficulties, by bringing us the solution of the matters in question. For he says, that "he that soweth sparingly, meaning thereby, that he who distributeth the necessaries of life to those who are in penury and affliction moderately, and so to speak, with contracted hand, and not plentifully and largely," shall also reap sparingly: and he "that soweth in blessings, in blessings shall also reap." By which is meant, he who bountifully * * * * * [From Mai] So that if anyone hath not, he has not sinned by not giving it; for a man is acceptable according to that which he hath, and not according to that which he hath not. [From the Syriac.] And this the law of the very wise Moses has taught us in type: for those that were under the law brought sacrifices to God according to what they severally possessed, and were able to afford: some for instance bullocks, and some rams, or sheep, or doves, or pigeons, or meal mingled with oil, but even he who offered this * *, because he had no calf to offer, though so little and to be procured so cheaply, was equal to the other as regards his intention.
From the Syriac. MS.12,154.
This too we must discuss among ourselves: For is it the case, that every one who is rich, and possesses abundant wealth, |110 is determinately cut off from the expectation of God's grace? Is he entirely shut out from the hope of the saints? Has he neither inheritance nor part with them that are crowned? Not so, we say, hut rather on the contrary, that the rich man might have shewn mercy on Lazarus, and so have been made partaker of his consolation. For the Saviour pointed out a way of salvation to those who possess earthly wealth, saying, "Make unto yourselves friends of the unrighteous mammon, that when ye depart this life they may receive you into their tents."
[From Mai.] The blessed Paul speaks the truth where he says, that "if any one be in Christ, he is a new creation:" for all things have become new, both in Him and by Him, both covenant, and law, and mode of life. But look closely and see how thoroughly the mode of life here described becomes those holy teachers, who were about to proclaim the message of salvation to every quarter of the world: and yet from this very fact they must expect that their persecutors would be beyond numbering, and that they would plot against them in many different ways, if then the result had been that the disciples had become indignant at these vexations, and wished for vengeance on those that annoyed them, they would have kept silence and passed them by, no longer offering them the divine message, nor calling them to the knowledge of the truth. It was necessary therefore to restrain the mind of the holy teachers by so solemn a sense of the duty of patience, as to make them bear with fortitude whatever might befal, oven though men insulted them, yea and plotted against them impiously. And such was the conduct of Christ Himself above all others for our example: for while still hanging upon the precious cross, with the Jewish populace making Him their sport, He put up unto God the Father prayers in their behalf, saying, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Yea, and the blessed Stephen too, while the stones wore smiting him, knelt down, and prayed, saying, "Lord, lay not this sin upon them." And the blessed Paul also says, "being reproached we bless, being reviled we entreat."
The exhortation of our Lord therefore was necessary for the |111 holy apostles, and most useful for us also, to oblige us to live rightly and admirably: for it is full of all philosophy 6. But our mistaken preconceived ideas, and the fierce tyranny of our passions, render it a thing difficult for our minds to accomplish: and therefore knowing that the natural 7 man does not admit of these things, regarding as folly and mere impossibilities the oracles of the Spirit, He separates such from those able to hear, and says, "I speak unto you that hear and are prepared readily to perform My words." For the gloriousness of spiritual fortitude is displayed in temptations and labours. Imitate therefore in these things Christ, "Who when He was reviled, reviled not again, suffering He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." But perhaps thou wilt object, saying within thyself, 'Christ was God, but I a frail man, having but a feeble mind, and one unable to resist the attack of covetousness and pain.' Thou speakest rightly: for the mind of man easily slides into wrong doing. Nevertheless, I say, The Lord has not left thee destitute of His compassion and love: thou hast Him by thee, yea within thee, by the Holy Ghost: for we are His abode, and He lodgeth in the souls of them that love Him. He gives thee strength to bear nobly whatever befals, and to resist manfully the attacks of temptations. "Be not overcome therefore by the 8 evil, but overcome the evil in the good."
That Christ is the end of the law and the prophets, is declared by the most wise Paul: for the law served as a schoolmaster to guide men unto His mystery. "But now that faith has come, as the blessed Paul has again himself said, we are no longer under a guide: for no longer are we children in mind, but, on the contrary, have grown up to the perfect man, to the measure of the mature age of the fulness of Christ." We do |112 not therefore require milk, but rather, food of a more solid nature, such as Christ bestows upon us, by setting before us the pathway of that righteousness which surpasses the power of the law. For He said Himself to the holy apostles, "Verily I say unto you, except your righteousness be over and above, more than of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." This then it is necessary to discuss, what, namely, is meant by the "over and above" in the righteousness in accordance with the saving message of the Gospel.
The law spoken by Moses to them of old time enacted like for like: and while it forbade the doing a wrong, it by no means commanded those who had already been injured to bear patiently, as the Gospel law requires. For it says, "Thou shalt not kill: thou shalt not steal: thou shalt not forswear thyself." But to this is added, "Eye for eye, hand for hand, foot for foot, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Such an enactment required a man not to injure others; and supposing him to have sustained an injury, that his anger at the wrong doer must not go beyond an equal retribution. But the general bearing of the legal mode of life was by no means pleasing to God; it was even given to those of old time as a schoolmaster, accustoming them by little and little to a fitting righteousness, and leading them on gently to the possession of the perfect good. For it is written, "To do what is just is the beginning of the good way:" but finally, all perfection is in Christ, and His precepts. "For to him that striketh thee. He saith, on the check, offer also the other." In this there is pointed out to us the pathway to the highest degree of patience. But He wills besides, that we pay no regard to riches; so that even if a man have but one outer garment, he must not count it a thing unendurable to put off with it also his undergarment, if it so befal. But this is a virtue possible only for a mind entirely turned away from covetousness: for "do not, He says, ask back whatever any one taketh away that is thine: but even give to every one that asketh of thee:" a proof indeed of love and willingness to be poor; and the compassionate man must necessarily also be ready to forgive, so as to shew friendly acts even to his enemies. |113
It was probable however that the holy apostles would perchance think these things difficult to put into practice: He therefore Who knoweth all things takes the natural law of self-love as the arbiter of what any one would wish to obtain from another. Shew thyself, He says, to others such as thou wishest them to be towards thee. If thou wouldest have them harsh and unfeeling, fierce and wrathful, revengeful and ill-disposed, shew thyself also such: but if on the contrary thou wouldst have them kind and forgiving, do not think it a thing intolerable to be thyself so. And in the case of those so disposed, the law is perchance unnecessary, because God writes upon our hearts the knowledge of His will: "for in those days, saith the Lord, I will surely give My laws into their mind, and will write them on their heart."
Great is the glory of compassion, and so verily it is written, that "man is a great thing, and the merciful man an honourable thing." For virtue restores us to the form of God, and imprints on our souls certain characters as it were of the supreme nature.
He cuts away from our minds a very unmanageable passion, the commencement and begetter of pride. For while it is men's duty to examine themselves, and to order their conduct according to God's will, they leave this alone to busy themselves with the affairs of others: and if they see any infirm, forgetting as it seems their own frailties, they make it an excuse for faultfinding, and a handle for calumny. For they condemn them, not knowing that being equally afflicted with the same infirmities as those whom they censure, they condemn themselves. For so also the most wise Paul writes, "for wherein thou judgest the other, thou condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest doest the same things." And yet it were rather our duty to have compassion on the infirm, as those who have been overcome by the assaults of the passions, |114 and entangled without hope of escape in the meshes of sin, and to pray in their behalf, and exhort them, and rouse them up unto soberness, and endeavour ourselves not to fall into similar faults. "For he that judgeth the brother, as the disciple of Christ saith, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law." For the lawgiver and judge is One: for the judge of the sinning soul must be higher than that soul: but since them art not so, the sinner will object to thee as judge, "why judgest thou thy neighbour?" But if thou venture to condemn him. having no authority thereto, it is thyself rather that will be condemned, inasmuch as the law permits thee not to judge others.
Whoever therefore is guided by good sense, does not look at the sins of others, nor busies himself about the faults of his neighbour, but closely scans his own misdoings. Such was the blessed Psalmist, falling down before God, and saying on account of his own offences, "If Thou, O Lord, O Lord, closely regardest iniquities, who can endure?" And once again, putting forward the infirmity of human nature as an excuse, he supplicates for a not unreasonable pardon, saying, "Remember that we are earth."
This parable He added as a most necessary appendage to what had been said. The blessed disciples were about to be the initiators and teachers of the world: it was necessary for them therefore to prove themselves possessed of every thing requisite for piety: they must know the pathway of the evangelic mode of life, and be workmen ready for every good work, and able to bestow upon well-instructed hearers such correct and saving teaching as exactly represents the truth. This they must do, as having already first received their sight, and a mind illuminated with the divine light, lest they should be blind leaders of the blind. For it is not possible for men enveloped in the darkness of ignorance, to guide those who are afflicted in the same way into the knowledge of the truth: for should they attempt it, they will both roll into the ditch of licentiousness.
Next, overthrowing the vaunting passion of boastfulness, to which most men give way, that they may not emulously strive |115 to surpass their teachers in honour, He added; "The disciple is not above his teacher;" and even if some make such progress, as to attain to a virtue that rivals that of their teachers, they will range themselves no higher than their level, and be their imitators. And Paul shall again be our warrant, saying, "Be ye imitators of me, as I also am of Christ." Since therefore the Teacher as yet judgeth not, why judgeth thou? For He came not to judge the world, but to shew pity. And according to the foregoing explanation, if I, He says, judge not, neither must you the disciple. But if thou art guilty of worse crimes than those for which thou judgest another, how canst thou keep thyself from shame when thou art convicted of it? And this the Lord made plain by another parable. |116
From the Syriac. MS. 14,551
6:41. "And why, saith He, beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" Having previously shewn us that the judging others is utterly wicked and dangerous, and the cause of final condemnation:----for "Judge not, He said, and ye shall not be judged: and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned." He now by conclusive arguments persuades us to avoid the very wish of judging others: and rather to examine our own hearts, and try to free them from the passions that dwell within them, and their frailties, by asking it of God: for He it is Who healeth the broken in heart, and freeth us from the maladies of the soul. For if thou, He says, art thyself sick with maladies more dangerous and severe than those of others, why, neglecting thy own, dost thou find fault with them, and whilst thou hast a beam in thine own eye, commencest a hot accusation against those who have a mote? Tell me by what |117 boldness doest thou this? Deliver thyself first from thy great crimes, and thy rebellious passions, and then thou mayest set him right who is guilty of but trifling faults.
Wouldst thou see the matter clearly and plainly, and that it is a very hateful thing for men to give way to this feeling? Our Lord was once walking on the sabbath day among the cornfields, and the blessed disciples plucked some ears, and rubbing them in their hands, ate the grains. But some Pharisees drew near, and say, "Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on sabbath days!" And yet they themselves in manifold ways were guilty of disregarding the law altogether. For even the prophet Isaiah cried out against them, saying, "How has the faithful city Zion become a harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it:----but now murderers. Your silver is reprobate; thy merchants mix the wine with water; thy princes are contentious, the partners of thieves, loving bribes, pursuing after recompense; they judge not the orphans, and to the widow's suit they have no regard." Yet these very men, themselves liable to these most severe reproaches, accused the disciples of breaking the sabbath!
But they met with just rebuke from Christ, Who said unto them; "Woe unto you, scribes and pharisces, hypocrites! who tithe mint and cummin, and have neglected the weighty matters of the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith." And again, "Ye are they who strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel." For while their teaching was of mere trifles, and they condemned the people under them for the most contemptible matters, they had the hardihood, as I said, to treat as of no consequence those weighty crimes. For this reason the Saviour called them "whitened sepulchres, which outside appear indeed to men to be beautiful, but inside are full of the bones of the dead, and of all unclcanness."----And such is every hypocrite: and whenever they would cast an imputation upon others, who have yielded to infirmity in any particular, deservedly will they have it said to them, "First cast out the beam from thine own eye, and then thou wilt see to cast out the mote from thy brother's eye."
The commandment, therefore, is indispensable for every one |118 who would live piously: but, above all, for those who have been intrusted with the instruction of others. For if they are good and sober-minded, and enamoured of the elect life, and not merely acquainted with, but also practisers of virtuous arts, and setting in their own conduct the pattern of a holy life, they can with open countenance rebuke those who will not do the same, for not having imitated their example, nor imprinted their virtuous manners on themselves: but if they are careless, and quickly snared by pleasures to do evil, how can they blame others when similarly affected? Wisely, therefore, did the blessed disciples write, saying; "Let there not be many teachers among you, my brethren: for ye know that we shall receive greater condemnation." For as Christ, Who is the Distributor of the crowns, and the Punisher of those who do wrong, Himself says; "He who shall do and teach, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: but he who hath not done, but hath taught, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven."
But I can imagine some one saying, How are we to distinguish the man who has a beam in his eye, but finds fault with those who have a mote, and are infirm only in part? But there is nothing difficult in this, He says; for any one who will, may see it easily: "for it is not a good tree that brings forth evil fruit: nor a good tree that brings forth good fruit: for every true is known by its fruit." Each man's actual life, therefore, is that which decides what are his morals: for it is not by mere outside adornments, and fictitious virtues that the beauty of the truly honourable life is delineated, but by the deeds a man does: for they are the fruits of a mind that for the love of piety chooses a blameless life. It is by deeds, therefore, and not by outside shew, that we must see who is the man truly approved, and who is not so. Again, Christ somewhere says, "Beware of those who come to you in the likeness of sheep, but within are ravenous wolves." See |119 again, Christ commands that those who come unto us must be distinguished not by their clothing, but by what they really are. "For by its fruit, He says, the tree is known:" and just as it is ignorance and folly for us to expect to find the choicer kinds of fruits on thorns, grapes for instance, and figs; so it is ridiculous for us to imagine that we can find in hypocrites and the profane ought that is admirable, the nobleness, I mean, of virtue.
Wouldst thou see the truth of this again? Wouldst thou see who the wolves are that clothe themselves in the sheep's skin? Examine the writings of the holy Apostles: hear what they say of certain men: "For they who are such are false Aposties: deceitful workers, transforming themselves into angels of righteousness: and no wonder, for Satan even transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also transform themselves into angels of righteousness." These one may well call thorns and briars: in such there is no particle of sweetness, but every thing that is bitter and of an evil nature: for the fig grows not on thorns; nor will one find any thing pleasant in them, for grapes are not produced on briars. We must decide, then, the character of the teacher, not by appearances, but by the acts of each one's life.10
This is also made clear by another declaration of our Lord: "for the good man, He says, as out of a good treasure, poureth forth from the heart 11 good things:" but he who is differently disposed, and whose mind is the prey of fraud and wickedness, necessarily brings forth what is concealed deep within. For the things that are in the mind and heart boil over, and are vomited forth by the outflowing stream of speech. The virtuous man, therefore, speaks such things as become his |120 character, while he who is worthless and wicked vomits forth his secret impurity.
Every thing, therefore, that is to our benefit, Christ teaches us, and requires His disciples to be on their guard against deceit, and vigilant and careful. For this reason He shews them the straight way, and discloses the snares that lead down to wickedness, that thus escaping from offences, and being steadfast in mind beyond risk of sin, they may quickly reach the mansions that are above by Christ's blessing: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father 12 be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost for ever and ever, Amen. |121
THERE is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," for so the wise Paul writeth. For both the name of lordship, and also the reality, are appropriate solely to that nature Which transcends all, and is supreme; even That Which is divine, and to be worshipped, as possessing and governing all things. For so Paul again somewhere says of Him; "For even, if there be Gods many and Lords many, in heaven or in earth; yet for us there is one God, the Father, from Whom is all, and we by Him: and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom is all, and we by Him." As therefore we acknowledge God the Word alone, Who reigneth with God the Father, as by nature and verily Lord, we accordingly give this name to Him. "But why, He asks, call ye Me indeed Lord, but do not the things which I say?" For if He possess no real authority, nor glory of lordship, but, on the contrary, it is conferred upon Him from without, and bestowed by favour, do not offer Him thy obedience: refuse His service: consent not to be subject unto Him. But if He be verily, and in its precise meaning Lord, and the whole nature of things created bow beneath His sceptre, and as a thing set under the feet of its Lord, then pay what is due: accept the yoke: and as being due, offer Him thy obedience; that thou mayest not hear Him blaming thee in words spoken by one of the holy prophets to them of old time; |122 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his lord: if I then am a father, where is My honour? and if I am a lord, where is My fear? saith the Lord Almighty."
For come, and let us see by what takes place among us the blame to which we become liable by disobedience. We are ourselves accustomed to require of our servants 13 obedience mingled with tear: and when they plan rebellion, and throw off the yoke of servitude; we make them humble by bonds and tortures and the scourge. When therefore we, who are of earth, and by nature the brethren of those who are bowed beneath the yoke, cannot tolerate them when rebellious, how will God endure it;----He Whom principalities, thrones, and lordships worship: in Whose presence the high-exalted Seraphs stand, readily rendering their service? For the divine David somewhere says of them in the Psalms; "Bless the Lord, all ye His angels, who hearken to the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts: His ministers, who do all of them His pleasure."
It is dangerous, therefore, and merits final condemnation, to be unwilling to submit to Christ the Almighty: but those who prize His service, shall receive the most excellent blessings. For He has said by one of the holy prophets to those who run away from His yoke, and will not submit to be set under His authority; "Behold, they that serve Me shall eat; but ye shall suffer hunger: behold, they that serve Me shall drink; but ye shall suffer thirst: behold, they that serve |123 Me shall exult; but ye shall mourn: behold, they that obey Me, shall be merry with joy; but ye shall cry out for the grief of your heart, and howl for contrition of your spirit." Thou seest that the crown of those who bear the yoke of servitude is very beautiful, worthy of being acquired, and precious: while severe and manifold condemnation is decreed against the rest.
And yet again in another place thou mayest see that the true servant is adorned with surpassing honour, while the disobedient and careless is rejected with disgrace, or rather is banished to the outer darkness. For they who received the talents, and doubled for the owner what had been given them, were honoured by him with praises: for he said to each one of them, "O good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will set thee over many things: enter the joy of thy lord." But him who hid in the ground what had been given him, as not loving service and indolent, he condemned to severe and inevitable punishment.
Elsewhere too He has said, "Who then is that faithful and wise servant, whom his lord 14 shall set over his household to give them meat at its season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord shall come and find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath."
Those therefore who keep our Saviour's will are made glorious, and worthy of emulation, and adorned with praises for their fidelity: yea, moreover, they have a name given them, for He has said again of them in a certain place, "On them that serve Me, there shall be called a new name,15 even That Which is blessed upon earth."
And there is yet another point which I think must be added to what has been already said, namely, that by being willing |124 to submit to our Saviour's words and serve Him, we shall gain in return the honour of freedom by His decree. For He said to those that believe in Him, "If ye abide in My Word, ye are truly My disciples, and ye shall acknowledge the truth, and the truth shall make you free." We gain therefore the glory of freedom by subjection: that is, by servitude under Him. This makes us sons and heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ: of which He again shall be thy proof, saying; "that every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin: but the servant abideth not in the house for ever. If therefore the Son make you free, ye are really free."
The being willing therefore to serve is that which invites us to freedom, and the honour which is the especial prerogative of sons: but disobedience humbles us to a base and ignominious servitude, if it be true, as true certainly it is, that "every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin."
But yes! says some one, obedience unto Christ's service is a most excellent thing, and highly to be appreciated; but it is by no means an easy matter: for there is much that stands in the way, and is able to exhaust our zeal. Yes, so say I too:----for first of all Satan resists whatever is excellent:----and the flesh, in its fondness for pleasure, strives against the Spirit, "for they are contrary one to the other," according to the expression of the wise Paul: and the law of sin that is in the members, savagely and very bitterly makes opposition. For I know that Paul, who was instructed in the law, excellently discusses these questions. For he said, "For I rejoice in the law of God in the inner man: but I see another law warring against the law of the mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, that is in my members." And again; "I therefore in my mind serve indeed the law of God, but in my flesh the law of sin." And besides this, there is a certain powerful inclination of the mind of man, which makes the will wander after pleasures: and engenders the delights of worldly lusts, and leads it away from the wish to labour in the cause of virtue. Shall we, therefore, on this account, refuse our service? |125 Is He ever seen to command ought that is impossible, and that cannot be done? Does He demand of us anything that exceeds the limits of our nature? And who would venture to say this? For certainly He adapts to our minds whatever is commanded. When, therefore, thou tellest me of the difficulty of obedience,
I tell thee also: Do those things that are great and excellent come of themselves? or do those who seek to win them succeed without toil? or, on the contrary, are they attained to by earnestness and labours? Who are the men that in the conflicts of the palestra are accustomed to win the crown? Is it those who have entirely devoted themselves to skill in the art of wrestling, and have gone through bitter toils? for "they endure all things," according to the expression of St. Paul: or, on the contrary, is it the indolent and luxurious, and those entirely unacquainted with what is suitable for athletes? Who of those that till the ground have their threshing-floor full of sheaves? Is it such as neglect ploughing, and will not undertake the severe toil of the mattock: or, on the contrary, is it the diligent and industrious, and such as apply themselves to the labours necessary for ensuring a prolific crop? The answer is known, even if no one speak it; that it is with those who are willing to labour, and not with those whose wont it is to be at ease, that a life of happiness is to be found, and nothing wanting for a tranquil existence. The Psalmist also bears witness, in a passage where he makes mention of the tillers of the ground as an exemplification of something else, "They went out, and that with tears, carrying their seed: but they shall surely come with joy bringing their sheaves." Joy therefore is the fruit of labour.
Moreover, the Lord Himself somewhere quickens us for the love of exertion in every praiseworthy pursuit, by saying, "Enter at the strait gate: because narrow is the gate, and strait the way that leadeth unto life; but broad and wide is that which leadeth down those that run thereon unto destruction." Observe therefore that the end of that strait path leadeth unto life, while the easy descent of the broad way sends men to the flame and never-ending torments.
If therefore we call Christ, the Saviour of us all. Lord, let us do the things which He says. For He teaches us Himself what the benefit is of our being willing to do that which is |126 commanded: and what the loss of our refusing to obey: for He says, "Every one that heareth My words and doeth them, is like a man who builds a house, and firmly places its foundations upon the rock:" while he who does not obey, he also is like a man building a house, but who has taken no care for its stability. For he who is obedient and tractable holds a thoroughly firm position in every thing that is honourable and good, by reason of his being not so much a hearer of the law, as a doer of its works: he resembles therefore a house firmly settled, and having a foundation that cannot be shaken, so that, even though temptations press upon him, and the savageness of the passions that dwell within us assail him like some winter torrent, or a waterflood, he will sustain no serious loss. But he who merely inclines his ear to what Christ saith, but stores nothing up in his mind, nor performs anything that is commanded, he, on the other hand, is like a house just ready to fall. For he will be led away at once into things unseemly whenever pleasure allures him, and leads him into the pitfalls of sin.
The service therefore of Christ invites us, as we affirm, unto every blessing: and if we will blamelessly fulfil it, Christ will crown us with His grace; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.16 |127
THE wise Evangelist filleth our minds with sacred lessons, and endeavours to throw abundant light upon whatever makes our faith assured: for this is the object of his tidings concerning Christ. Very appropriately therefore he introduces Him as at one time teaching the holy Apostles |128 things superior to the service enacted in the law, and pointing out to them a path new and untrodden by them of old time of the conversation that becometh saints: and at another, he very beautifully displays to us the manifestation of a godlike power, in order that in every way it may be known that the Only-begotten Word of the Father is very God even though He became flesh, that is, man,----" and produces every thing by the word of his power:"----as is proved unto us by the examination of what is written concerning Him.
When then, so to speak, he had satiated the holy Apostles with the most perfect doctrines, and had set before them a banquet of evangelical commands, and had mingled the wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and very clearly told them the means by which they would become triumphant and praiseworthy, He goes down to Capernaum. And there also He works a great and wonderful deed, worthy of the greatness of His majesty: there a glorious theatre was moved with astonishment, in which angels and men were spectators. For Israel is rebuked, and is dull of understanding, and unready for faith: while the multitude of the heathen, in mind at least, is ready thoroughly both to understand and believe: so that Christ is seen by just decree rejecting His servant Israel, while He accepts and honours and crowns by His grace those who of old served the creature apart from the Creator: who were in gloom and darkness, and without the knowledge of God: and had bowed the neck of their slavish mind to the wickedness of demons.
What, then, was that which was accomplished, or what was the miracle? There 18 was a pious man, distinguished for the excellence of his conduct, and the commander of a body of soldiers, who was a fellow inhabitant with the people of Capernaum. A faithful servant of his as it chanced fell sick, and, so to speak, had already reached the gates of death, and to all appearance was now at his last gasp. "And he was dear to him," so that he was pierced with anguish. What remedy, then, can he find for what has happened, or what aid can he procure for him who is lying ill? "He heard, it says, the |129 things of Jesus;" and so he sends unto Him, asking of Him manifestly as of God things that exceed the nature and power of man. For his request was, that one who was laid prostrate in the last stage of sickness might be delivered from the bands of death. And whence, then, did he know Jesus, since he was not as yet of the number of those who believed on Him? for hitherto he had been one of the mass wandering in error. He heard, it says, the things concerning Him. And since certainly he had never heard His personal instruction, nor seen any of His miracles, nor had met with the writings of Moses, nor searched the divine Scriptures, he could only have attained to faith in Him from simple rumours and hearsays. But as being fully assured that by the mere act of His will He could accomplish his request, he sends as supplicants in his behalf the principal men of the Jews; and these wore the elders.
Upon their arrival they offer their request, saying, "that he is worthy that Thou shouldest grant this unto him." O marvellous act! They who slandered Christ's glory, request Him to work a miracle! Those who refused to believe in Him, ask Him to display before men who had not yet believed such acts as lead on to faith! Tell me in what character dost thou approach with thy request? Dost thou know and believe that He is able to perform things that are the prerogative of God? Art thou fully convinced that it belongs solely to the supreme Substance, Who is above all, to be able to make alive, and to deliver men from the snares of death? If so, how then didst thou say when thou sawest Jesus working miracles, "This man casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub, Prince of the devils?" And when that man who had been blind from his mother's womb was wonderfully healed, and gained an unwonted light, thou advisedst him, saying, "Give God the glory, we know that this man is a sinner." Dost thou then ask this sinner, as thou calledst Him, to perform an act of Deity? Is not this madness, and sheer stupidity? Are not those who hitherto had not believed far better than those who had been taught by the law and the prophets?
Wouldst thou see the fact that such is the case and such only? Observe what follows; The Saviour had now sot out upon His way to restore the sick man: but the centurion sent unto Him, saying, "Lord, trouble not Thyself; but speak |130 with a word, and my child will be healed." Consider then, that these elders of the Jews begged Jesus to go to the house of him who requested His aid, as not being able in any other way to raise him up who was lying ill, except by going to his side: ----whereas the other believed that He could do it even at a distance, and effect it by the inclination of His will. He asked for the saving word, the loving assent, the all mighty utterance; and justly therefore did he win a sentence of surpassing worth: for Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, that not even in Israel have I found so great faith." The proof then and demonstration, follows closely and immediately from what we have now said. Finally, He delivered that same hour from his sickness him who a little before had been the prey of death: for He Who willed the undoing of what had happened was God. As I said then at the beginning of this discourse, by God's holy decree Israel fell from his relationship unto Him, and in his stead the heathen wore called and admitted, as having a heart better prepared for that faith in Him, which justly is required. And of this the divine Psalmist shall again be our proof, where he says concerning them; at one time, "Thou hast inclined Thine ear because of the preparation of their heart;" and at another, "Many were their infirmities, and afterwards they went quickly." For many indeed were the offences laid to their charge, to which he gently gives the name of infirmities: for they were wandering in error, and guilty of abominable crimes, not merely in one way, but in many: but they went quickly to the faith, that is, they were not slow in accepting the commands of Christ, but very readily embraced the faith. For that they were to be caught in Christ's net, He teacheth thee where He saith by one of the holy prophets, "For this wait for Me, saith the Lord, until the day of My rising up to bear witness, because My judgment is for the congregations of the heathen." For when Christ rose from the dead, He bestowed on those that were in error that judgment which is for their happiness and salvation. For He even commanded the holy disciples, "Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and teaching them to observe all those things that I have commanded you." |131
By the holy decree therefore, and just sentence of our common Saviour Christ, the heathen were honoured; but Israel we see rejected from His love and affection. For what do we find the chief Shepherd of all saying to them by one of the holy prophets? "And I have declared, He says, that I will not feed you, and that which is dying shall die: and that which is fainting shall faint: and those that are left shall devour every one the flesh of his neighbour." And again; "God hath rejected them, because they have not heard Him: and they shall be wanderers among the heathen." And again by the voice of the prophet Ezechiel, "Thus saith my Lord, the Lord; that I will drive them among the heathen, and disperse them over the whole earth." Take the actual result of facts for your persuasion and faith in what is here said. For they are vagabonds and strangers in every land and city, neither preserving in its purity the worship enjoined by the law, nor submitting to accept the gloriousness of the excellency of the Gospel life: while we, who have received the faith are fellow-citizens with the saints, and called the sons of the Jerusalem that is above, in heaven, by the grace of God which crowneth us. And Him we affirm to be the completion of the law and the prophets: we confess His glory; we admire Him as He worketh miracles; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |132
[From Mai and Cramer] * * * * * * But observe how He joins miracle to miracle: and in the former instance, the healing of the centurion's servant, He was present by invitation: but here He draws near without being invited. For no one summoned Him to restore the dead man to life, but He comes to do so of His own accord. And He seems to me to have purposely made this miracle also follow upon the former. For there was nothing improbable in supposing that at some time or other some one might rise up and say, in opposition to the Saviour's glory, 'What is the prodigy wrought in the case of the centurion's son? For though he was ailing, he was in no danger of death, even though the Evangelist has so written, shaping his narrative rather with a view to what was pleasant, than to what was true.' To stop therefore the intemperate tongue of such detractors, he says, that Christ met the dead young man, the only son of a widow. It was a pitiable calamity, able to arouse one's lamentation, and make one's tears gush forth; and the woman follows, stupified with her misfortune, and all but fainting, and many with her.
[From the Syriac] * * *: for that dead man was being buried, and many friends were conducting him to his tomb. But there meets him the Life and Resurrection, even Christ: for He is the |133 Destroyer of death and of corruption: He it is "in Whom we live and move and are:" He it is Who has restored the nature of man to that which it originally was; and has set free our death-fraught flesh from the bonds of death. He had mercy upon the woman, and that her tears might be stopped, He commanded, saying, "Weep not." And immediately the cause of her weeping was done away: how, or by what method? He touched the bier, and by the utterance of his godlike word, made him who was lying thereon return again to life: for He said, "Young man, I say unto thee. Arise;" and immediately that which was commanded was done: the actual accomplishment attended upon the words, "And that dead man, it says, sat up, and began to speak, and He gave him to his mother."
Observe here too, I pray you, the accuracy of the expression: for the divine Evangelist not only says, that the dead man sat up, but lest any one should by false arguments attack the miracle, saying,' What wonder! if by means of some artifice or other the body was set upright! for it is not as yet clearly proved to be alive, or delivered from the bonds of death:'----for this reason he very skilfully notes down two proofs one after the other, sufficient to produce the conviction that he did in very truth arise and was restored. "For he began, he says, to speak"----but an inanimate body cannot speak----"And He gave him to his mother:"----but assuredly the woman would not have taken her son back to her house if he had boon dead, and had breathed his last.
Those persons therefore who were restored to life by the power of Christ, we take as a pledge of the hope prepared for us of a resurrection of the dead: and these were, this young man, and Lazarus of Bethany, and the daughter of the chief of the synagogue. And this truth the company of the holy prophets proclaimed before: for the blessed Isaiah said, "The dead shall arise, and those in the graves shall be restored to life: for the dew from Thee is healing to them." And by dew he means the life-giving operation of Christ, which is by the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost. And the Psalmist bears witness, thus speaking concerning them in words addressed to God the Saviour of us all. "When Thou turnest away Thy face they are troubled, and return to their dust. |134 Thou sendest Thy Spirit, and they are created, and Thou renewest the face of the ground." For it was by reason of Adam's transgression of the commandment that we, having our faces turned away from God, returned to our dust: for the sentence of God upon human nature was, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return:" but at the time of the consummation of this world, the face of the earth shall be renewed: for God the Father by the Son in the Spirit will give life to all those who are laid within it.
It is death that has brought men to old age and corruption: death therefore has made old, that is to say, has corrupted: for "that which is made old, and is growing aged, is near corruption," as Scripture saith: but Christ renews, in that He is "the Life." For He Who in the beginning created, is able again to renew unto incorruption and life. For one may well affirm that it is the office of one and the same energy and power, to effect both the one and the other. As therefore the prophet Isaiah says, "'He hath swallowed up death, having become mighty." And again, "The Lord hath taken away all weeping from every countenance. He hath taken away the reproach of the people from all the earth." By the reproach of the people he means sin, which disgraces and depraves men: and which, together with destruction, shall be slain, and sorrow and death shall perish, and the tears cease which are shed on its account.
Disbelieve not therefore the resurrection of the dead; for long ago Christ wrought it among us with a Godlike majesty. And let no man say, that He Who raised two, for instance, or three, and effected thus much, is not thoroughly sufficient for the life also of us all. Such words, foul with utter ignorance, are simply ridiculous. Right rather is it for us to understand, that He is the Life, and the Life-giver by nature. And how can the Life be insufficient for making all alive? It would be the same thing as to say in one's excessive folly, that the Light also is sufficient indeed for little things, but not for the Universe.
He therefore arose who was descending to his grave. And the manner of his rising is plain to see; "for He touched, it says, the bier, and said, Young man, I say unto thee, arise." And yet how was not a word enough for raising him who was lying there? For what is there difficult to it, or past |135 accomplishment? What is more powerful than the Word of God? Why then did He not effect the miracle by a word only, but also touched the bier? It was, my beloved, that thou mightest learn that the holy body of Christ is effectual for the salvation of man. For the flesh of the Almighty Word is the body of life, and was clothed with His might. For consider, that iron, when brought into contact with fire, produces the effects of lire, and fulfils its functions; so, because it became the flesh of the Word, Who gives life to all, it therefore also has the power of giving life, and annihilates the influence of death and corruption 20. May our Lord Jesus Christ also touch us, that delivering us from evil works, even from fleshly lusts, He may unite us to the assemblies of the saints; for He is the giver of all good, by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |136
On the present occasion also the Word about to be addressed to you, and the investigation of the sacred doctrines cannot but be most certainly for your benefit. Come then, that together with the holy angels we may praise the universal Saviour: for He is worshipped, as in heaven so also in earth; and to Him every knee shall bow, as it is written. Be it therefore known to people everywhere, that the Lord is God, and even though He appeared in fashion like unto us, yet has He given us the indications of a godlike power and majesty on many occasions, and in a multitude of ways: by driving away diseases; by rebuking unclean spirits; by bestowing on the blind their sight; and finally, oven by expelling death itself from the bodies of men;----death which cruelly and mercilessly had tyrannized from Adam even unto Moses, according to the expression of the divine Paul. That widow's son then at Nain 21 |137 arose unexpectedly and wonderfully, and the miracle remained unknown to no one throughout the whole of Judaea, but was noised abroad as a divine sign, and admiration was upon every tongue. And some of his intimate friends, that is, his disciples, tell it also to the blessed Baptist: and he chose out and selected two persons from the rest, and sends them to Jesus to ask Him, if it is He Who cometh, or whether they must wait for another. What hast thou done, O excellent Baptist! Dost thou not know Him Whom thou preachedst, being thyself the precursor of this rising, as the morning star proclaims the coming sun? Thou wentest before Him like a torch. Thou pointedst Him out to the holy apostles, saying very plainly, "Behold the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sin of the world!" Elsewhere also we heard Thee saying to the multitudes of the Jews, that "after me cometh the man who was before me, because He is before me. And I knew Him not: but He who sent me to baptize in water, He said unto me, On Whom thou seest the Holy Ghost descend from heaven, and remain upon Him, He it is Who baptizeth in the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bore witness, that This is the Son of God." How then dost thou ask, if it is He that cometh? For thou saidst, "I saw and bore witness, that He is the Son of God." But the blessed Baptist did not fail to recognise the Word of God Who had become man. Do not imagine so. Well and very clearly was he persuaded that He was He that cometh; but what He did was something wise and well-contrived, and fit in no slight degree to benefit his disciples. For they indeed, because they did not yet know Christ, inasmuch as His glory and all-excelling majesty was concealed from them, were even silently stung at His working miracles, and surpassing the Baptist in the greatness of the deeds wrought by Him. For on one occasion they even drew near to him, pining with envy and vexation, and with their heart still requiring to set free from Jewish maladies, and said to the blessed Baptist concerning Christ the universal Saviour, "Rabbi, He Who was with thee on the other side of Jordan, to Whom thou bearest witness, He baptizeth, and every man cometh to Him." For they did not wish any one else to baptize at all, and exalt himself against the honour of John. They learnt however from him the superiority of Christ's |138 glory, and the incomparable greatness of His splendour: for they heard him say in answer, "Ye are yourselves my witnesses that I said, that I am not the Christ, but that I have been sent before Him. He who hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the bridegroom's friend, who standeth and heareth his voice, joyfully rejoiceth because of the bridegroom's voice: this therefore, which is my joy, is complete. He must grow great, but I must be made small." We do not however say that the blessed Baptist in any respect whatsoever decreased in dignity, himself of himself, during the time that Christ's glory was constantly receiving addition from those that believed on Him: but inasmuch as the blessed John continued in the measure of human nature:----for it was not possible for him ever to advance to anything beyond:----but the incarnate Word, being in His nature God, and ineffably begotten of God the Father, advancing continually to His proper glory, was admired of all men; for this reason it was he said, "He must grow great, but I must be made small." For he who remains in exactly the same state seems to grow small, in comparison with one who is continually advancing. But that it was right that as being by nature God, He should surpass in might and glory human things, he explained to them saying: "He Who cometh from above is above all: and he who is of the earth, belongeth to the earth, and speaketh of the earth." Who then is He Who cometh from above, and is above all as being God? Plainly the only-begotten Word of the Father, Who was in His likeness, and on an equality with Him: but for the love He had unto the world, humbled Himself to our estate. As being such therefore, He must necessarily surpass one who was of the earth: one, that is to say, numbered among the things of earth, and their like in nature, such as was the Baptist. For he was indeed praiseworthy in virtue, and incomparable in piety, and had attained to the perfection of all righteousness, and was honourable and worthy of admiration: for the Lord bore him witness saying, "There hath not risen among the sons of women one greater than John the Baptist." But he was not from above; not of the Substance, I mean, that is set above all: rather he was from below, a son of earth, and one of us. Therefore, to return from this digression, as their heart was not free from Jewish |139 maladies, they tell the blessed Baptist of the Saviour's divine signs: and he, as thoroughly knowing Who it was That wrought the miracles, exulted indeed in himself, in seeing the Saviour's glory spread abroad: but to produce a firm and steadfast faith in Him, in those, who as yet were halting, nor thus far convinced that He is the Christ, he puts on the appearance of ignorance, and so sends to Him certain to ask Him, saying, "Art Thou He That cometh, or do we wait for another?" Cometh whither perhaps some will say: for there are men who think that we ought to understand something of this sort: ----that as the Baptist was about before the precious cross to undergo death by the wickedness of Herod, and, so to speak, anticipate Christ's departure, and as His forerunner, precede His arrival in Hades, he asks whether He will come there also, to redeem those in darkness and the shadow of death, and entangled in inevitable bonds. But such an opinion is utterly to be rejected: for nowhere do we find that the Scripture inspired of God has declared that the divine Baptist preached beforehand to the spirits in Hades the coming of the Saviour. And this also we may truly say, that inasmuch as once for all he knew the whole effect of the dispensation in the flesh of the Only-begotten, he of course knew, in addition to the other particulars, that He will redeem those in Hades, and shine forth even upon them, as "by the grace of God tasting death for every man," that as Paul says, "He may be Lord both of the dead and of the living."
What then does he wish to understand by asking, "Art Thou He that cometh, or do we wait for another?" I said then, that he puts on the appearance of ignorance purposely, not so much that he might himself learn:----for as being the forerunner he know the mystery:----but that his disciples might be convinced, how great is the Saviour's superiority, and that, as the word of the inspired Scripture had announced before, He is God, and the Lord That was to come. All the rest then were servants, sent before a master, preceding Him Who is beyond all, and preparing the way of the Lord, as it is written. By the holy prophets therefore the Saviour and Lord of all is called, "He that cometh." For the prophet David in a psalm declares: "Blessed be He That cometh in the Name of the Lord." And what means that expression "in the Name of |140 the Lord?" it means in godlike glory, and lordship, and all transcending majesty. And this again he has signified in what follows: "The Lord is God, and hath shone forth upon us." For Moses indeed came, and appeared in his season, and by his instrumentality the law was spoken to the Israelites: and then after him Jesus the son of Nun commanded the host, and then in order the blessed prophets. And they were indeed holy men, honourable beyond comparison, and endowed with a spiritual and all-excelling splendour: but no one of them shone forth upon the inhabitants of earth in the name of the Lord, in the glory that is of Godhead and dominion. But the only-begotten Word of God shone forth upon us as being in His nature and verily God and Lord. So God the Father named Him by the prophet Habakuk, thus saying; "Yet a little He That cometh will come, and will not tarry." And again also by another prophet the only-begotten Word of God thus speaketh: "Rejoice, and be glad, O daughter of Zion: for behold! I come, and will lodge in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall find refuge in the Lord on that day; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Mo a people." And that this has come to pass, one may see by actual facts: for a multitude of nations has been caught in the net, and Christ is their God, and they are His people.
Having therefore taken from the inspired Scripture the name of "He That cometh," the divine Baptist sent certain of his friends to ask, "if He were He that cometh." And what follows? Inasmuch as Christ by nature and in truth is God, the purpose of John did not escape Him, but as well knowing the cause of his disciples' coming, He especially at that particular time began accomplishing divine miracles many times more numerous than those which He had hitherto wrought. For so the wise Evangelist has told us, saying, "In that same hour He healed many of sicknessess and of scourges, and of evil spirits: and gave sight to many that were blind." Having then been made spectators and eyewitnesses of His greatness, and gathered into them a great admiration of His power and ability, they bring forward the question, and beg in John's name to be informed, whether He is He Who cometh. Here see I pray the beautiful art of the |141 Saviour's management. For He does not simply say, I am; though had He so spoken, it would have been true: but He rather leads them to the proof given by the works themselves, in order that having accepted faith in Him on good grounds, and being furnished with knowledge from what had been done, they might so return to him who sent them. "For go, He says, tell John the things that ye have seen and heard." For ye have heard indeed, He says, that I have raised the dead by the all-powerful word, and by the touch of the hand: ye have seen also, while ye yourselves stood by, that those things that were spoken of old time by the holy prophets are accomplished: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the dumb hear, and the dead arise, and the poor are preached unto. All these things the blessed prophets had before announced, as about in due time to be wrought by My hands. If then I bring to pass those things that were prophecied long before, and ye are yourselves spectators of them, return and tell those things which ye have seen with your own eyes accomplished by My might and ability, and which at various times the blessed prophets foretold. And then He added necessarily to these things; "And blessed is he who is not offended in Me!" For the Jews indeed were offended, cither as not knowing the depth of the mystery, or because they did not seek to know. For though the inspired Scripture announced beforehand, in every part of it, that the Word of God would humble Himself to emptiness, and be seen upon earth, plainly referring to when He was such as we are, and would justify by faith every thing under heaven, yet they stumbled against Him, and struck against the rock of offence, and fell, and were ground to powder. For though they plainly saw Him invested with ineffable dignity and surpassing glory, by means of the wondrous deeds He wrought, they threw stones at Him and said: "Why dost Thou, being a man, make thyself God?" In answer to these things, Christ reproved the immeasurable infirmity of their intellect, and said; "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not: but if I do, then though ye believe not Me, believe My works." Blessed therefore is he, who doth not stumble against Christ; that is, who believeth in Him.
And what the advantage is that is derived from this, and in |142 what way we are benefitted by attaining to faith in Him, every one knows: nothing however forbids our enumerating a few particulars. For first indeed we obtain the light of the true knowledge of God: and next, when by the aid of holy baptism we have washed away the stains of sin, being purified that we may serve Him purely, we are also made partakers of His divine nature, and gain Him to dwell within us by having the communion of the Holy Ghost. And we are made also sons of God, and win for ourselves brotherhood with Him Who by nature and verily is the Son. Moreover, in addition to those things, we are exalted to the inheritance of the saints, and dwell in bliss in the enjoyment of those blessings which are bestowed on those who love Him, and which the divine Paul declares surpass understanding and description: "for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and into the heart of man have not entered the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him." Of those may we also be thought worthy by the grace and love of Him Who giveth to every one bountifully all good things, even of Christ, by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for over and ever, Amen. 22 |143
YE who thirst for the knowledge of the divine doctrines, open once again the treasure-house of your minds: satiate yourselves with the sacred words: or rather, give way to no feeling of satiety herein: for gluttony in things that tend to edification is a quality worth the gaining. Let us approach, then, the Saviour's words, not carelessly, and without due preparation, but with that attentiveness and vigilance which befits those who would learn. For so alone can those subjects for contemplation, which are difficult of comprehension, be rightly understood. Let us, therefore, ask of Christ that light, which He sends down upon the mind and heart, that thus being enabled correctly to understand the force of what is said, we may again admire the beautiful skill of the management. For He had been asked by the disciples of John, whether He is He that cometh? When then: He had answered them in a suitable manner, and commanded them to return to him that sent them. He began to say unto the multitudes concerning him, "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind?" And what the instruction is which we gain from this, or what the end to which our Saviour's words have reference, how must it not be worth our while to inquire? Let us examine, therefore, the meaning of what is said: let us search |144 it as a treasure: let us spy into its secrets: and fixing our mind upon the profundity of the mystery, let us be like careful moneychangers,23 proving every thing, as Scripture says.
There were then certain who prided themselves upon their performance of what was required by the law: the Scribes namely, and Pharisees, and others of their party; who were regarded according to their professions as exact observers of the law, and claimed on this score, that their heads should be adorned with honours. This too is the reason why they neither accepted faith in Christ, nor paid due honour to that mode of life which truly is praiseworthy and blameless: even that which is regulated by the commands of the Gospel. The purpose, therefore, of Christ the Saviour of all, was to shew them that the honours both of the religious and moral service that are by the law, were of small account, and not worthy of being attained to, or oven perhaps absolutely nothing, and unavailing for edification: while the grace that is by faith in Him is the pledge of blessings worthy of admiration, and able to adorn with incomparable honour those that possess it. Many, then, as I said, were observers of the law, and greatly puffed up on this account: they even gave out that they had attained to the perfection of all that is praiseworthy, in the exact performance of the righteousness that consisted in shadows and types. In order, then, that, as I said, He might prove that those who believe in Him are better and superior to them, and that the glories of the followers of the law are evidently but small in comparison with the evangelic mode of life, He takes him who was the best of their whole class, but nevertheless was born of woman, I mean the blessed Baptist: and having affirmed that he is a prophet, or rather above the measure of the prophets, and that among those born of women no one had arisen greater than he in righteousness, that namely, which is by the law, He declares, that he who is small, who falls short, that is, of his measure, and is inferior to him in the righteousness that is by the law, is greater than he:----not greater, in legal righteousness, but in the kingdom of God, even in faith, and the excellencies which result from faith. For faith crowns those that receive it with glories that surpass the law. And this thou |145 learnest, and wilt thyself affirm to be the case, when thou meetest with the words of the blessed Paul: for having declared himself to be free from blame in the righteousness that is by the law, he added forthwith, "But those things that were gain unto me, those I have counted loss for Christ's sake: and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ: not having my own righteousness which is by the law, but the righteousness that is of the faith of Jesus Christ." And the Israelites he even considers deserving of great blame, thus saying: "For being ignorant of God's righteousness, that namely which is by Christ, and seeking to establish their own; even that which is by the law; they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the completion of the law for righteousness unto every one that believeth." And again, when speaking of these things: "We, he says, who by nature are Jews, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of. the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also have believed in Jesus Christ, that we may be justified in Him." The being justified, therefore, by Christ, that is to say, by faith in Him, surpasses the glories of the righteousness that is by the law. For this reason the blessed Baptist is brought forward, as one who had attained the foremost place in legal righteousness, and to a praise so far incomparable. And yet even thus he is ranked as less than one who is least: "for the least, He says, is greater than he in the kingdom of God." But the kingdom of God signifies, as we affirm, the grace that is by faith, by means of which we are accounted worthy of every blessing, and of the possession of the rich gifts which come from above from God. For it frees us from all blame; and makes us to be the sons of God, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and heirs of a heavenly inheritance.
Having prefaced therefore thus much by way of preparation, and to explain the connection of the ideas, come now. and let us examine the actual words. As I have already said then, He exalts the divine Baptist to a great height, and crowns the Forerunner with surpassing honours purposely; that thou mayest the more thoroughly admire faith; as that which makes believers to have a grandeur far surpassing even that of men thus illustrious. He asks the Jews, then, saying |146 "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind?" Now He compares to a reed,----a thing tossed about, and, so to speak, reeling and shaken to and fro by the violence of the winds,----the man who lives in worldly honours and pleasures, and in the grandeur of temporal sovereignty. For there is nothing stable or firm or unshaken with such persons, but things change frequently in an unexpected manner, and to that which they did not anticipate, and their prosperity lightly passes away. For true it is, that "all flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass: the grass withereth, and the flower falleth." Did ye then, He says, go out into the desert to see a man like a reed? This, however, possibly he is not, but of a different character; one of those who live in pleasures, and are wont to be clad in beautiful garments, and value childish honour. And yet one does not see persons such as these dwelling in the desert, but at the courts of kings: and as for the blessed Baptist's raiment, it was of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle upon his loins.
What then did ye go out to see? Perhaps ye say, A Prophet. Yea, I also say as well as you. For he is a saint and a prophet: nay, he even surpasses the dignity of a prophet; for not only did he announce before that I am coming, but pointed Me out close at hand, saying? "Behold the Lamb of God, That beareth the sin of the world." Moreover, he was testified of by the prophet's voice, "as sent before My face, to prepare the way before Me." And I bear him witness that there hath not arisen among those born of women one greater than he: but he that is least----in the life I mean according to the law----in the kingdom of God is greater than he. How and in what manner? 24 In that the blessed John, together with as |147 many as preceded him, was born of woman: but they who have received the faith, are no more called the sons of women, but as the wise Evangelist said, "are born of God." "For to all, he says, who received Him, that is, Christ, He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His Name: who have been born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." For we have been born again to the adoption of the sons, "not of corruptible seed," but, as Scripture saith, "by the living and abiding Word of God." Those then who are not of corruptible seed, but, on the contrary, have been born of God, are superior to any one born of woman.
There is also another respect in which they surpass those born of women. For they have earthly fathers: but we Him Who is above in heaven. For we have received this also of Christ, Who calleth us to the adoption of sons and brotherhood with Him. For He has said, "Ye shall not call any one on earth father: for One is your Father, Who is in heaven. But ye, all of you, are brethren." And most wise Paul gives us surety of this, writing as follows: "For because ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, calling Father, our Father." For when Christ rose, and spoiled hell, the spirit of adoption was then given to them that believed on Him, and first of all to the holy disciples; for "He breathed upon them, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. If ye remit the sins of any, they are remitted them; and if ye retain the sins of any, they are retained." For inasmuch as they have become partakers of the divine nature, by being richly endowed with that lordly and all-governing Spirit; therefore He has also given them the godlike power of remitting the sins of whomsoever they will, and of retaining those |148 of all others. But that previously to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and His ascent to heaven, there was not among men the spirit of adoption, the most wise Evangelist John makes plain where he says: "For the Spirit was not as yet: because that Jesus was not yet glorified." And yet certainly, how can the Spirit be unequal in eternity to God the Father, and the Son? And when did He not exist, Who is before all? For He is equal in substance to the Father, and the Son. "But inasmuch as Christ, he says, was not yet glorified," that is to say, had not yet risen from the dead, and ascended to heaven, the spirit of adoption did not as yet exist for men. But when the Only-begotten Word of God ascended up into heaven, He sent down for us in His stead the Comforter, Who is in us by Him. And this He taught us, thus saying: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but when I have departed, I will send Him unto you."
Even though, therefore, we be inferior to them who have fulfilled the righteousness that is by the law: inferior, I mean, in righteousness of life, yet are we who have received faith in Him endowed with greater privileges. We must, however, bear in mind, that although the blessed Baptist was thus great in virtue, yet he plainly confessed that he stood in need of holy baptism: for he somewhere said, speaking to Christ, the Saviour of us all, "I have need to be baptized of Thee." But he would have had no need of holy baptism, nor have requested leave to have it granted him, had there not been in it something more and better, than the righteousness that is by the law.
Christ therefore does not contend against the honours of the paints; nor is it His purpose to diminish and strip of their renown those holy men who had before attained to victory: but as I said, it rather is to prove that the Gospel mode of life is superior to the legal worship, and to crown with surpassing honours the glory of faith, that we all may believe in Him. For so we enter by Him, and with Him, into the kingdom of heaven: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.
[Selected footnotes moved to the end and renumbered. Almost all marginalia, any purely textual footnotes, most Greek or Syriac material has been omitted without notice]
1. s Literally, "to philosophize;" but from the philosophers affecting an austere life, it came to bear the general meaning of "endurance." So Greg. Nanz. of the martyrs, ... So Chrysost. Hom. 80. in Joan. ... And again Hom. 55. in Matth. ... In the middle ages its meaning further altered, and philosophy was equivalent to monkery; so Luitprand, v. 9. Et ad vicinam insulam, in qua Coenobitarum multitudo philosophabatur, tonso ei ut moris est capite ad philosophandum transmittunt.
2. t The principal Syriac MS. commences here, but the first leaf is in part illegible, and the three following sermons are entirely lost.
3. u One for poverty, one for hunger, and one for tears.
4. x After scholars had satisfactorily decided on philological evidence that the 'byssus' was cotton, the microscope has proved it to be linen. The main points of the argument were that the Hebrew word shesh, always rendered 'byssus' by the Septuagint, is the Arabic modern term for fine muslin: and that cotton garments are mentioned on the Rosetta stone as supplied by government for the use of the temples, being in great request, according to Pliny's account (xix. 8.), by the Egyptian priests. Herodotus however says, that the mummies were enveloped Σινδόνος βυσσίνης τελαμῶσι (ii. 86.), and Mr. Thompson (on the mummy cloth of Egypt, as quoted in Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, iii. 113.) has shewn, that the wrappers are invariably of linen, though occasionally so fine as not to be distinguishable from muslin, until the microscope revealed the different texture of the filaments.
5. y The Syriac makes the smallness of the request more apparent, by using a term peculiar to the little finger.
6. z On the meaning of philosophy, consult the note on ver. 22.
7. a Ψυχικός, having a soul only. Cf. note on iv. 38.
8. b Although the article might suggest, as in the Lord's prayer, that Satan, the evil one, is signified, who is to be overcome in the good One, God, yet the gender in the second clause proves this idea to be incorrect. The meaning therefore is, "Overcome evil of every kind, whatever it be, by whatever is good."
9. g The Commentary, like similar works of S. Chrysostom and others, was delivered in a course of Homilies; these however the Syriac translator terms Targums, literally Interpretations or Expositions; and this title I had made use of until I met with the following heading to a sermon contained in MS. 12,165, in the British Museum, which shews that the verb signified also to "preach." -- 'Sermon upon the death of Meletius the Great, bishop of Antioch. S. Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, preached it before one hundred and fifty bishops at Constantinople.' This sermon is also extant in Greek. Upon the authority therefore of this heading I have called them Sermons.
10. e A few lines follow in Mai not recognized by the Syriac, but probably taken from the Commentary on Matth. vii. 18, as they give an explanation of the different bearing of the interpretation of the two passages.
11. f Lest I should be thought to have separated this word wilfully from its usual dependance upon "treasure," I may here observe, once for all, that the punctuation of the Syriac is exact to the last degree of minuteness: and in this and all similar places I have scrupulously adhered to it.
12. g Syriac, God and Father.
13. h Domestic service in old time by freemen was all but unknown, and therefore "servant" is equivalent to "slave." Hence the full force of Luke xvi. 13., xvii. 9., &c.; and such expressions as "sold under sin." (Rom. vii. 14.) Of their treatment, S. Chrysostom (Hom. iv. in Titium) complains that masters generally neglected their morals, and thought only of their service; and that therefore "it was a difficult thing for a slave to be a good man:" for being left without education, and not admitted into the society of freemen, there was nothing to counteract the debasing associations of his degraded position. That Christianity gradually, though very slowly, led to the amelioration of their state, we may see by the acknowledgment in the text that the slave was by nature his master's brother; and by S. Chrysostom's appeals in their behalf, as, for instance, 'If Paul was not ashamed to call a slave his son, and his own bowels, and brother and beloved, why should we be ashamed? And what say I? Paul's Lord was not ashamed to call our slaves His brothers, and are we ashamed thereat?' (Hom. ii. in Phil.)
14. i As servant meant slave, so the "lord," despo&thj, was the master or owner of the household. Hence the well-known objection of the Romans to the title of Dominus, as implying the relation between master and slave. Each slave had usually a monthly allowance of food, which one of them was commissioned to distribute.
15. k The name of Christ, fulfilled in the title of Christians; of which S. Gregory of Nyssa, (de perf. Chr. forma, iii. 277.) says, "The goodness of God has granted us to share in that great and most divine and chief of names, being honoured with Christ's own title, and so called Christians."
16. m The greater part of the above homily has perished in the Greek, but Mai has among his fragments one from his second Catena B. not recognized in the Syriac: its style, however, differs from Cyril's; and in Cramer's Catena a part of it is quoted ἐξ ἀνεπιγράφου i. e. as given without the author's name, whereas Cyril had been very largely quoted by name almost immediately before.
17. n A domestic servant was constantly styled παῖς, child. So [Hebrew] in Hebrew, "Joseph was serving boy, (in charge of the sheep probably,) with the sons of Bilhah." (Gen. xxxvii. 2.): and very frequently it is rendered "servant" in the A. V. as 1 Sam. ii. 15. The term was also applied to females, as when Boaz bade Ruth continue with his "young women" during the gleaning.
18. o Cr. contains several fragments of this exposition, but anonymously, and probably on this account, not included by Mai in his collection.
19. q A folium is here lost, and apparently at some distant time, as the ornamental writing of the title has left its marks on the opposite side. In the margin is a note, "Fit to be read at the commemoration of the departed." To depart was a common euphemism in the ancient church for death; cf. Suiceri Th. sub ἀποδημία: and of the Commemorations, St. Augustin says (De Civ. Dei, 1. xxii. c. 10.) Gentiles talibus diis suis, sc. qui antea homines fuerant, et templa aedificaverunt, et statuerunt aras, et sacerdotes instituerunt, et sacrificia fecerunt. Nos autem martyribus nostris non templa sicut diis, sed memorias sicut hominibus mortuis, quorum apud Deum vivunt spiritus, fabricamus.
20. r Two passages follow in Mai, not recognised by the Syriac. The first from Cod. A. is as follows: "for we believe that the body of Christ makes alive, because It is both the temple and dwelling-place of the living Word, and possesses all Its activity. It was not enough therefore for Him only to command, though accustomed by a word to accomplish whatsoever He wished, but He laid also His hands on the bier, shewing that His body also possesses the power of making alive." The second from Codd. A and C. is referred also by Aquinas and Cramer's MS. to Cyril: "That fear fell upon all, and they glorified God, was indeed a great thing on the part of the senseless and ungrateful people (Cr. reads λόγῳ for λαῷ): for shortly afterwards they regard Him neither as a prophet, nor as having appeared for the good of the people: yea they deliver up to death Him Who destroys death, not knowing that at that very time He destroyed death, when in His own person He wrought the resurrection."
21. s In the preceding sermon this place was called Nair, in the same way as Beliar has occurred for Belial, and as no Gr. MS. recognises this form, it is possible that it is a Syriac provincialism, in the same way as in Sanscrit certain final letters are regularly changed into r, from the ease with which the voice rests upon that letter at the close of a word.
22. t Mai from Cod. A. contains a few lines here and there not acknowledged by the Syriac, but apparently only intended to convey the general sense of the passages omitted; though even these may possibly be from other works of S. Cyril, as Niketas' acquaintance with them was evidently most complete, and instances will subsequently be pointed out of his having thus introduced single sentences into the body of the Commentary, though naturally such intrusions generally escape discovery. The subject of this sermon is again treated of by S. Cyril in his Thesaurus, c. xi.
23. u For this quotation, consult the note at the commencement of Serm. 39.
24. x The passage in Mai, p. 213, from B. f. 72. agrees, as far as it goes, with the Syriac. It is preceded, however, by two passages, the second of which from B. f. 71. is much too rhetorical to be really S. Cyril's, and is given by Cramer anonymously, following one taken from Titus of Bostra, whose style it much more resembles. It explains, however, more fully what Cyril very shortly refers to, viz. that John was more honourable than the prophets, as being himself the object of prophecy: and guards against a misinterpretation of the word angel in the prediction, "Behold I send My angel before Thy face." The other passage from A. 118. has the appearance of being a summary of S. Cyril's argument respecting John being the greatest of those born of women, though it includes new matter in an important interpretation of Luke xvii. 21.: to the effect that "the kingdom of heaven signifies the gift of the Holy Ghost," according to the words, "The kingdom of heaven is within you." Soon after this quotation it runs into the Syriac, at the sentence with which B. 72. ends, with some verbal differences. This sentence will be found in my translation at the commencement of the paragraph in page 148: "Even though, therefore, we be inferior to them, &c." But soon afterwards it diverges again to explain more fully than the Syriac does, that our Lord's words that from the days of John the kingdom of heaven is taken by force, would not justify the conclusion, that the saints of the old dispensation did not gain admission therein.
SAINT CYRIL, CONFESSOR, ARCHBISHOP OF JERUSALEM—315-386 A.D.
From the church historians, and his works collected by Dom Touttee in his excellent edition of them at Paris, in 1790.
Cyril was born at or near the city of Jerusalem, about the year 315. So perfectly was he versed in the holy scriptures, that many of his discourses, and some of these pronounced extempore, are only passages of the sacred writings connected and interwoven with each other. He had read diligently both the fathers and the pagan philosophers. Maximus, bishop of Jerusalem, ordained him priest about the year 345, and soon after appointed him his preacher to the people, likewise his catechist to instruct and prepare the catechumens for baptism; thus committing to his care the two principal functions of his own pastoral charge. St. Cyril mentions his sermons to the faithful every Sunday. Catechumens ordinarily remained two years in the course of instruction and prayer, and were not admitted to baptism till they had given proof of their morals and conduct, as wolf as of their constancy in the faith. This office St. Cyril performed for several years; but we have only the course of his catechetical sermons for the year, 348 or 347. Perhaps the others were never committed to writing. He succeeded Maximus in the see of Jerusalem about the end of the year 350.
The beginning of his episcopacy was remarkable for a prodigy by which God was pleased to honor the instrument of our redemption. It is related by Socrates, Philostorgius, the chronicle of Alexandria, &c. St. Cyril, an eye-witness wrote immediately to the emperor Constantius, an exact account of this miraculous phenomenon: and his letter is quoted as a voucher for it by Sozomen, Theophanes, Eutychius, John of Nice, Glycas, and others. Dr. Cave has inserted it at length in his life of St. Cyril. The relation he there gives of the miracle is as follows: "On the nones (or 7th) of May, about the third hour, (or nine in the morning,) a vast luminous body, in the form of a cross, appeared in the heavens, just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy mount of Olivet, (that is, almost two English miles in length,) seen not by one or two persons, but clearly and evidently by the whale city. This was not, as may be thought, a momentary transient phenomenon: for it continued several hours together visible to our eyes, and brighter than the sun;; the light of which would have eclipsed it, had not this been stronger. The whole city, struck with a reverential fear, tempered with joy, ran immediately to the church, young and old, Christians and heathens, citizens and strangers, all with one voice giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the worker of miracles; finding by experience the truth of the Christian doctrine, to which the heavens bear witness." He concludes his letter with wishes that the emperor may always glorify the holy and consubstantial Trinity. Philostorgius and the Alexandrian chronicle affirm, that this cross of light was encircled with a large rainbow." The Greek church commemorates this miracle on the 7th of May.
Some time after this memorable event, a difference happened between our saint and Acacius, archbishop of Caesarea, first a warm Semi-Arian, afterwards a thorough Arian. It began on the subject of metropolitical jurisdiction, which Acacius unjustly claimed over the Church of Jerusalem; and what widened the breach between them was their difference of sentiments with regard to the consubstantiality of the Son, which St. Cyril had always most zealously asserted. This was sufficient to render him odious in the eyes of Acacius, who in a council of Arian bishops convened by him, declared St. Cyril deposed for not appearing, after two years' warning, to answer to the crimes alleged against him. One of them was that he had lavished away the goods of the Church, and had applied its sacred ornaments to profane uses. The ground of the accusation was, that, in time of a great famine at Jerusalem, he had sold some of the Church plate, and precious stuffs, to relieve the wants of the poor. St. Cyril, not looking upon the members of the council as qualified judges, appealed to higher powers, but yielding to violence withdrew to Antioch, and thence removed to Tarsus, where he was honorably entertained by the bishop Sylvanus, and had in great respect, notwithstanding the sentence of Acacius and his council against him. Here living in communion with Sylvanus, Eustathius of Sebaste, Basil of Ancyra and others, who soon after appeared at the head of the Semi-Arian faction, this gave rise to the calumny that St. Cyril himself had espoused it. But nothing could be more falsely alleged against him, he having always maintained the Catholic faith. He had accordingly, in 349, together with his predecessor Maximus, received the decrees of the council of Sardica, and consequently those of Nice. And we have already seen, in his letter to Constantius, that he made an undaunted profession of the Consubstantial Trinity. To which we may add, that in the council of Constantinople, in 381, he joined with the other bishops in condemning the Semi-Arians and Macedonians. And the orthodox bishops assembled in the same city in 382, writing to pope Damasus and to the western bishops, gave a most ample testimony to his faith, declaring, "That the most reverend and beloved of God, Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, had been canonically elected by the bishops of the province, and had suffered many persecutions for the faith." Upon the death of Constantius, in 361, Julian the apostate, partly, out of aversion to his uncle, and partly in hopes to see the Christian sects. and the orthodox more at variance, suffered all the banished bishops to return. to their churches. Thus did God make use of the malice of his enemy to restore St. Cyril to his see. He shortly after made him an eye-witness to the miraculous manifestation of his power, by which he covered his blaspheming enemies with confusion. The following most authentic history of that remarkable event is gathered from the original records, and vindicated against the exceptions of certain skeptics by Tillemont, and by our most learned Mr. Warburton, in his Julian.
In vain had the most furious tyrants exerted the utmost cruelty, and bent the whole power which the empire of the world put into their hands, to extirpate, if it had been possible, the Christian name. The faith. increased under axes, and the blood of martyrs was a fruitful seed, which multiplied the Church over all nations. The experience how weak and ineffectual a means brute force was to this purpose, moved the emperor Julian, the most implacable, the most crafty, and the most dangerous instrument which the devil ever employed in that design, to shift his ground, and change his artillery and manner of assault. He affected a show of great moderation, and in words disclaimed open persecution; but he sought by every foul and indirect means to undermine the faith, and sap the foundations of the Christian religion. For this purpose he had recourse to every base art of falsehood and dissimulation, in which he was the most complete master. He had played off the round of his machines to no purpose, and seemed reduced to this last expedient of the pacific kind, the discrediting the Christian religion by bringing the scandal of imposture upon its divine author. This he attempted to do by a project of rebuilding the Jewish temple. which, if he could have compassed, it would have sufficiently answered his wicked design; Christ and the prophet Daniel having in express terms foretold not only its destruction, which was effected by the Romans under Titus, but its final ruin and desolation.
The religious Jewish religion was a temporary dispensation, intended by its divine author, God himself, to prefigure one more complete and perfect, and prepare men to embrace it. It not only essentially required bloody sacrifices, hut enjoined a fixed and certain place for them to be performed in; this was the temple at Jerusalem. Hence the final destruction of this temple was he abolition of the sacrifices, which annihilated the whole system of this religious institution. Whence St. Chrysostom shows that the destruction of Jerusalem is to be ascribed, not to the power of the Romans, for God had often delivered it from no less dangers; but to a special providence which was pleased to put it out of the power of human perversity to delay or respite the extinction of those ceremonial observances. "As a physician," says that father, "by breaking the cup, prevents his patient from indulging his appetite in a noxious draught; so God withheld the Jews from their sacrifices by destroying the whole city itself, and making the place inaccessible to all of them." St. Gregory Nazianzen, Socrates, Theodoret, and other Christian writers, are unanimous in what they say of Julian's motive, ascribing to him the intention already mentioned, of falsifying the scripture prophecies, those of Daniel and Christ, which his actions sufficiently evidence. His historian, indeed, says, that he undertook this work out of a desire of rendering the glory of his reign immortal by so great an achievement: but this was only an after-thought or secondary motive; and Sozomen in particular assures us that not only Julian, but that the idolaters who assisted in it, pushed it forward upon that very motive, and for the sake thereof suspended their aversion to the Jewish nation. Julian himself wrote a letter to the body or community of the Jews, extant among his works, mentioned by Sozomen, and translated by Dr. Cave, in his life of St. Cyril. In it he declares them free from all exactions and taxes, and orders Julus or Illus, (probably Hillel,) their most reverend patriarch, to abolish the apostoli, or gatherers of the said taxes; begs their prayers, (such was his hypocrisy,) and promises, after his Persian expedition, when their temple should be rebuilt, to make Jerusalem his residence, and to offer up his joint prayers together with them.
After this he assembled the chief among the Jews, and asked them why they offered no bloody sacrifices, since they were prescribed by their law. They replied, that they could not offer any but in the temple, which then lay in ruins.. Whereupon he commanded them to repair to Jerusalem, rebuild their temple, and re-establish their ancient worship, promising them his concurrence towards carrying on the work. The Jews received the warrant with inexpressible joy, and were so elated with it, that, flocking from all parts to Jerusalem, they began insolently to scorn and triumph over the Christians, threatening to make them feel as fatal effects of their severity, as they themselves had heretofore from the Roman powers. The news was, no sooner spread abroad than contributions came in from all hands. The Jewish women stripped themselves of their most costly ornaments to contribute towards the expense of the building. The emperor also, who was no less impatient to see it finished, in order to encourage them in the undertaking, told them he had found in their mysterious sacred books that this was the time in which they were to return to their country, and that their temple and legal observances were to be restored. He gave orders to his treasurers to furnish money and every thing necessary for the building, which would require immense sums: he drew together the most able workmen from all quarters, and appointed for overseers persons of the highest rank, placing at their head his intimate friend Alypius, who had formerly been Pro-prefect of Britain; charging him to make them labor in this great work without ceasing, and to spare no expense. All things were In readiness, workmen were assembled from all quarters; stone, brick, timber, and other materials, in immense quantities, were laid in. The Jews of both sexes and of all degrees bore a share in the labor; the very women helping to dig the ground and carry out the rubbish in their aprons and skirts of their gowns. It its even said that the Jews appointed some pickaxes, spades, and baskets to be made of silver for the honor of the work. But the good bishop St. Cyril, lately returned from exile, beheld all these mighty preparations without any concern, relying on the infallible truth of the scripture prophecies: as, that the .desolation of the Jewish temple should last till the end; and that one stone should not be left on another; and being full of the spirit of God, he foretold, with the greatest confidence, that the Jews, so far from being able to rebuild their ruined temple, would be the instruments whereby that prophecy of Christ would be still more fully accomplished than it had been hitherto, and that they would not be able to put one stone upon another, and the event justified the prediction.
Till then the foundations and some ruins of the walls of the temple subsisted, as appears from St. Cyril: and Eusebius says, the inhabitants still carried away the stones for their private buildings. These ruins the Jews first demolished with their own hands, thus concurring to the accomplishment of our Saviour's prediction. Then they began to dig the new foundation, in which work many thousands were employed. But what they had thrown up in the day was, by repeated earthquakes, the night following cast back again into the trench. "And when Alypius the next day earnestly pressed on the work, with the assistance of the governor of the province, there issued," says Ammianus, "'such horrible balls of fire out of the earth near the foundations,' which rendered the place, from time to time, inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen. And the victorious element continuing in this manner obstinately and resolutely bent as it were to drive them to a distance, Alypius thought proper to give over the enterprise."
This is also recorded by the Christian authors, who, besides the earthquake and fiery eruption, mention storms, tempests, and whirlwinds, lightning, crosses impressed on the bodies and garments of the assistants, and a flaming cross in the heavens, surrounded with a luminous circle. The order whereof seems to have been as follows. This judgment of the Almighty was ushered in by storms and whirlwinds, by which prodigious heaps of lime and sand and other loose materials were carried away. After these followed lightning, the usual consequence of collision of clouds in tempests. Its effects were, first the destroying the more solid materials, and melting down the iron instruments; and secondly, the impressing shining crosses on the bodies and garments of the assistants without distinction, in which there was something that in art and elegance exceeded all painting or embroidery; which when the infidels perceived, they endeavored, but in vain, to wash them out. In the third place came the earthquake which cast out the stones of the old foundations, and shook the earth into the trench or cavity dug for the new; besides overthrowing the adjoining buildings and porticoes wherein were lodged great numbers of Jews designed for the work, who were all either crushed to death, or at least maimed or wounded. The number of the killed or hurt was increased by the fiery eruption in the fourth place, attended both with storms and tempests above, and with an earthquake below. From this eruption, many fled to a neighboring church for shelter, but could not obtain entrance; whether on account of its being closed by a secret invisible hand, as the fathers state the case, or at least by a special providence, through the entrance into the oratory being choked up by a frighted crowd, all pressing to be foremost. "This, however," says St. Gregory Nazianzen, "is invariably affirmed and believed by all, that as they strove to force their way in by violence, the <Fire>, which burst from the foundations of the temple, met and stopped them, and one part it burnt and destroyed, and another it desperately maimed, leaving them a living monument of God's commination and wrath against sinners." This eruption was frequently renewed till it overcame the rashness of the most obdurate, to use the words of Socrates; for it continued to be repeated as often as the projectors ventured to renew their attempt, till it had fairly tired them out. Lastly, on the same evening, there appeared over Jerusalem a lucid cross, shining very bright, as large as that in the reign of Constantine, encompassed with a circle of light. "And what could be so proper to close this tremendous scene, or to celebrate this decisive victory, as the <Cross> triumphant, encircled with the <Heroic> symbol of conquest?"
This miraculous event, with all its circumstances, is related by the writers of that age; by St. Gregory Nazianzen in the year immediately following it; by St. Chrysostom, in several parts of his works, who says that it happened not twenty years before, appeals to eye-witnesses still living and young, and to the present condition of those foundations, "of which," says he, "we are all witnesses;" by St. Ambrose in his fortieth epistle written in 388; Rufinus, who had long lived upon the spot; Theodoret, who lived in the neighborhood in Syria; Philostorgius, the Arian; Sozomen, who says many were alive when he wrote who had it from eye-witnesses, and mentions the visible marks still subsisting; Socrates, &c. The testimony of the heathens corroborates this evidence; as that of Ammianus Marcellinus above quoted, a nobleman of the first rank, who then lived in the court of Julian at Antioch and in an office of distinction, and who probably wrote his account from the letter of Alypius to his master at the time when the miracle happened. Libanius, another pagan friend and admirer of Julian, both in the history of his own life, and in his funeral oration on Julian's death, mentions these earthquakes in Palestine, but with a shyness which discovers the disgrace of his hero and superstition. Julian himself speaks of this event in the same covert manner. Socrates testifies, that at the sight of the miracles, the Jews at first cried out that Christ is God; yet returned home as hardened as ever. St. Gregory Nazianzen says, that many Gentiles were converted upon it, and went over to the Church. Theodoret and Sozomen say many were converted; but as to the Jews, they evidently mean a sudden flash of conviction, not a real and lasting conversion. The incredulous blinded themselves by various presences: but the evidence of the miracle leaves no room for the least cavil or suspicion. The Christian writers of that age are unanimous in relating it with its complicated circumstances, yet with a diversity which shows their agreement, though perfect, could not have been concerted. The same is confirmed by the testimony of the most obstinate adversaries. They who, when the temple at Daphne was consumed about the same time, by lightning, pretended that it was set on fire by Christians, were not able to suspect any possibility of contrivance in this case: nor could the event have been natural. Every such suspicion is removed by the conformity of the event with the prophecies: the importance of the occasion, the extreme eagerness of Jews and Gentiles in the enterprise, the attention of the whole empire fixed on it, and the circumstances of the fact. The eruption, contrary to its usual nature, was confined to one small spot; it obstinately broke out by fits, and ceased with the project, and this in such a manner, that Ammianus himself ascribes it to an intelligent cause. The phenomena of the cross in the air, and on the garments, were admirably fitted, as moral emblems, to proclaim the triumph of Christ over Julian, who had taken the cross out of the military ensigns, which Constantine had put there to be a lasting memorial of that cross which he had seen in the air that presaged his victories. The same was again erected in the heavens to confound the vanity of its impotent persecutor. The earthquake was undoubtedly miraculous; and though its effects were mostly such as might naturally follow, they were directed by a special supernatural providence, as the burning of Sodom by fire from heaven. Whence Mr. Warburton concludes his dissertation on this subject with the following corollary. "New light continually springing up from each circumstance as it passes in review, by such time as the whole event is considered, this illustrious miracle comes out in one full blaze of evidence." Even Jewish Rabbins, who do not copy from Christian writers, relate this event in the same manlier with the fathers from their own traditions and records. This great event happened in the beginning of the year 363. St. Chrysostom admires the wonderful conduct of divine providence in this prodigy, and observes, that had not the Jews set about to rebuild their temple, they might have pretended they could have done it: therefore did God permit them thrice to attempt it; once under Adrian, when they brought a greater desolation upon themselves; a second time under Constantine the Great, who dispersed them, cut off their ears, and branded their bodies with the marks of rebellion. He then relates this third attempt, "in our own time," as he says, "not above twenty years ago, in which God himself visibly baffled their endeavors, to show that no human power could reverse his decree; and this at a time when our religion was oppressed, lay under the axes, and had not the liberty even to speak; that impudence itself might not have the least shadow of presence."
St. Cyril adored the divine power in this miracle, of which he had ocular demonstration. Orosius says that Julian had destined him to slaughter after his Persian expedition, but the death of the tyrant prevented his martyrdom. He was again driven from his see by the Arian emperor, Valens, in 367, but recovered it in 378, when Gratian, mounting the throne, commanded the churches to be restored to those who were in communion with pope Damasus. He found his flock miserably divided by heresies and schisms under the late wolves to whom they had fallen a prey; but he continued his labors and tears among them. In 381 he assisted at the general council of Constantinople, in which he condemned the Semi-Arians and Macedonians whose heresy he had always opposed, though he had sometimes joined their prelates against the Arians St. before their separation from the church, as we have seen above; and as St. Hilary, St. Meletius, and many others had done. He had governed his church eight years in peace from the death of Valens, when, in 386, he passed to a glorious immortality, in the seventieth year of his age. He is honored by the Greeks and Latins on this day, which was that of his death.
1 Cat. 5. 10.14.
2 See Fleury, Moeurs des Chretiens, p. 42.
3 B. 2, c. 28.
4 Ib. 3, c. 26.
5 Ib. 5, c. 5.
6 Ad an. 363.
7 Annal. p. 475.
8 Auetuar. Combefis, t. 2, p. 382.
9 T.2, p. 344.
10 Sozom. b. 4, c. 24.
11 Apud Theod. Hist. b. 5, c. 9.
12 Tillem. t. 7, p. 409,
13 Hom. 6, adv. Judae t. 1 p. 646 ed. Ben.
14 Amm. Marcell. l. 3, c. 1.
15 Ep. 25, p. 152.
16 Soz. 1.5, c. 22.
17 Naz. Or. 4, adv. Julian.
18 Dan. ix. 27.
19 Matt. xxiv. 2.
20 Rufin Hist. l. 10, c 37.
21 Catech. 15. n. 15.
22 Dem. Evang.. 1. 8. p. 406.
23 Out of the very foundations themselves, according to St. Chrysostom, Sozomen, and Theodoret.
24 Theod. Hist. l. 3, c. 20.
25 Soc. lib. 3, c. 20.
26 St. Greg. Naz. Or. 9.
27 Or. 4, adv. Julian.
28 see Warburton, p 88.
(Taken from Vol. III of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)
What do YOU think ?
Date: 17 Nov 2006
Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis
(todd @ preteristarchive.com)
Opened in 1996