Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 57-65 (Luke 9:57-10:21) pp. 258-301
9:57-58. And as they were going in the way, a certain man said unto Him, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus said unto Him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven a place, to lodge in: but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.
TO covet the gifts that come from above from God is in very deed a state of mind worthy of being attained to, and that wins for us all good. But though the Lord of all be a bountiful Giver, yet giveth He not simply to all men without distinction, but to such rather as are worthy of His bounty. For just as those invested with the glory of royalty bestow their honours, and the various offices of state, not upon rough and ignorant men, who have nothing in them worthy of admiration, but crown those rather, who have hereditary nobility, and have been proved by trial worthy of receiving them, and likely to be successful in the discharge of their duties; so also God, Who knoweth all things, bestoweth not a share in His bounties upon souls careless and pleasure seeking, but upon such as are in a fit state rightly to receive them. If then any one would be accounted worthy of these great honours, and of being accepted by God, let him first free himself from the pollutions of evil, and the guilt of indifference; for so he will become capable of receiving them: but if he be not so disposed in mind, let him depart far away.
And this the purport of the passage from the Gospels just placed before us teaches us: for a certain man drew near to Christ the Saviour of us all saying, "Teacher, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." But He rejected the man, saying, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven a place to lodge in: but that He had not where to lay His head." And yet perchance some one may say, that 'he who promised to follow Him had attained to the desire of what was honourable, and good, and profitable. For what is comparable to being with Christ, and following Him? Or how must it not aid in his salvation? Why therefore did He reject one who was |259 eagerly promising to follow Him constantly? For one may learn from His own words, that to follow Him leads on to every blessing: for He said, "He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, but possesseth the light of life." What therefore was there improper in promising to follow Him, in order to gain the light of life? What then is our answer to this? That this was not his object. How could it be? For it is easy for any who will examine such matters accurately, to perceive that in the first place there was great ignorance in his manner of drawing near; and secondly, that it was full of excessive presumptuousness. For his wish was not simply to follow Christ, as so many others of the Jewish multitude did, but rather to thrust himself into apostolic honours. This then was the following which he was seeking for, being self-called thereto: whereas the blessed Paul writes, "that no man taketh the honour unto himself unless he be called of God, as Aaron also was." For Aaron did not enter upon the priesthood of himself, but on the contrary was called of God. And of every one of the holy apostles we find, that he did not promote himself to the apostleship, but rather received the honour from Christ. For He said, "Come after Me; and I will make you to become fishers of men." But this man, as I said, boldly took upon himself gifts thus altogether honourable, and, though no one called him, thrust himself into that which was above his rank. Now were any one to draw near to an earthly king, and say, "I shall promote myself, even though thou grantest it not, to this or that honour, whatever it may be;" it would be a dangerous act, and one that would bring upon him the loss often even of his life. Who can doubt that certainly this would be the result? For in every matter we must await the decision of him who possesses sovereign authority. How then could it be fitting for this man to appoint himself among the disciples, and crown himself with apostolic powers, without being called thereunto at all by Christ?
And there is another reason for which He justly rejected him, and deemed him unworthy of so illustrious an honour. For earnestly to follow Christ is confessedly profitable to salvation: but he who wishes to be counted worthy of so great glory must, I say, bear his cross. And what is it to bear the cross? It is to die unto the world, by denying its empty |260 distractions, and manfully abandoning a carnal and pleasure-loving life. For it is written: "Love not the world: neither the things that are in the world: for every thing that is in the world is the lust of the body, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."... And again, "Know ye not that the love of the world is enmity unto God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world is found God's enemy." The man therefore, whose choice it is to be with Christ, loves that which is admirable and profitable unto salvation; but let him hearken to our words: withdraw thyself far from fleshly lusts; wash away the pollution of wickedness; cleanse off the stains caused by the base love of pleasure; for these keep thee away, and permit thee not to be with Christ. Remove that which separates thee; break down the enmity; burst open the hedge that is between; for then thou wilt be with Christ. But if the hedge which keeps thee from communion with Him be not yet destroyed, in what manner canst thou follow Him?
That such then was the case with the man before us, He shews by the indirect rebuke which He gave him, not in order to reproach him, but rather for his correction, that he might of his own accord grow better, and become earnest in following the ways of virtue. Therefore He says, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven a place to lodge in: but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." And the simple meaning of the passage, and that ready to hand, is as follows: that the beasts and birds have dens and dwellings; but I have nothing to offer of those things which are the objects of general pursuit: for 1 have no place where to dwell, and rest Myself, and lay My head. But the inner and secret signification of the passage is attained to by more profound thoughts. For He seems to mean by the foxes and birds of heaven, those wicked, and cunning, and impure powers, the herds of demons. For they are so called in many places in the inspired Scripture. For the blessed Psalmist says of certain men, "They shall be the portions of foxes." And in the Song of Songs it is written again: "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that destroy the vines." And Christ Himself somewhere says of Herod, who was a bad man, and crafty in his wickedness; "Tell that fox." And elsewhere He said of the seeds that fell upon the pathways, "the birds of heaven came and devoured them." |261 And this we affirm that He said, not of the material and visible birds, but rather of those impure and wicked spirits, who oft-times, when the heavenly seed has fallen upon the hearts of men, remove and, so to speak, carry it away, that they may not bring forth any fruit. As long therefore as the foxes and birds have holes and dens in us, how can Christ enter? Where can He rest? What communion is there between Christ and Belial? For He lodgeth in the saints, and dwelleth in them that love Him: but withdraws from the impure and the unclean. Expel the beasts: hunt out the foxes: drive away the birds: free thy heart from their impurity, in order that the Son of man may find a place in thee to lay His head: even the Word of God Who was incarnate and became man. For light has no concord with darkness, nor the impure with the holy. It is a thing altogether incredible for there to be stored up in one vessel perfume and filthiness. It is impossible for a man to be invested with apostolic honour, and conspicuous for his virtues, and every good and manly quality, if he have not admitted Christ into him. And so most wise Paul has taught us saying: "Or seek ye a proof of Christ, Who speaketh in us?" But he in whom Christ dwells is a temple, not of one of those gods falsely so named, but of Him Who by nature, and in truth is God. For we have been taught to say, that "we are the temples of the living God." But to a divine temple incense is suitable, such as is of a most sweet scent: and every virtue is a rational incense, altogether acceptable to the God of all.
"Let us therefore cleanse ourselves from every stain of the flesh, and of the spirit." "Let us put to death those members which are upon the earth." Let us close the entrance to impure spirits. Let not reprobate and wicked birds lodge within us. Let our heart be holy and unpolluted, as far as is possible and may be. For so shall we follow Christ, according as He giveth us the grace, and He will dwell joyfully in us. For then He will have where to lay His head, and rest in us as in saints. For it is written; "Become ye holy, because I am holy." And devoting ourselves to these earnest pursuits, we shall also attain to the city that is above, by the aid of the same Christ: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |262
9:59-60. And He said unto another, Follow Me: but he said, Lord, suffer me to go first and bury my father. And Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
IN Christ we have the head and teacher of every virtue. For "we are taught of God," as the prophet declares, and moreover the wise Paul bears witness saying: "God, Who in manifold parts and manifold manners spake in old time to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by the Son." And what spake He by the Son? Plainly the gospel message of salvation, by means of which we are successfully guided into every kind of virtue, and advance in the praiseworthy and admirable pathway of the better life, so that by following His footsteps we gain the treasure of His gifts. The manner, then, in which we follow Him, and are counted worthy of those perfect and surpassing honours which were first bestowed upon the apostles, the lesson just laid before us clearly teaches us. "For He said, it tells us, unto another, Follow Me."
Now the first point to consider is this: that in the preceding passage we learnt, that one drew near to Him, and said, "Teacher, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest:" but was rejected with scorn by Christ; first as being self called, and thrusting himself into honours which God bestows upon those only who are fit to receive them, and who as being announced by every excellent quality, and skilful in practising every good work and deed, are crowned by Christ, and inscribed in the companies of the holy teachers. But inasmuch as this man was not so disposed, he met with rebuke; for his mind was the dwelling of evil spirits, and full of all impurity. For the Saviour, indirectly touching his case, said; "The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven a place to lodge in: but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." |263
Now at our last meeting; we sufficiently discussed the manner in which this is to be understood by us. But here it was no self-called disciple who came, nor one presumptuously forward in promises of deeds thus praiseworthy: but, on the contrary, it was one called by Christ to the apostleship, as not unfitted for it. For he was honoured by the divine decree, and was doubtless holy, and venerable; and able to conform himself to the intention of the evangelic message. But he did not as yet know clearly in what way he ought to conduct himself in so great a matter; for he had perchance a father bowed down with old age: and thought himself acting in a manner highly pleasing to God in anxiously shewing him tenderness and tit-ting love. He knew, of course, as meeting with it in the books of the law, that the God of all has provided also for this, saying; "Honour thy father, and thy mother: that it may be well with thee: and that thou mayest live long upon the earth." On being, therefore, summoned to the sacred ministry, and to the office of proclaiming the Gospel message:----for this is what was signified by Christ's command to follow Him:----he is troubled in his human understanding, and asks for a delay of time enough to tend the old age of his parent. For "Suffer me," he said, "first to go and bury my father." And what we say is, not that he asked permission to bury his father, being already dead and laid out:----for Christ would not have forbidden this:----but he used the word "bury" instead of "that I may take care of his old age till his burial."
What, then, was the Saviour's answer? "Leave the dead burying their dead: but go thou, preach the kingdom of God." For there were, no doubt, other guardians and relatives of his father: but as I consider dead, because they had not yet believed in Christ, nor been able to receive the new birth by holy baptism unto the life incorruptible. Let them, He says, bury their dead, because they also have within |264 them a dead mind, nor as yet have been numbered among those who possess the life that is in Christ. From this, then, we learn, that the fear of God is to be set even above the reverence and love due to parents. For the law of Moses also, while it commanded, in the first place, that "thou shalt love the Lord God with all thy soul, and all thy might, and all thy heart:" put as second to it the honour due to parents, saying, "Honour thy father and thy mother."
For come, and let us examine the matter in dispute, and inquire what is the reason why we consider the honour and love due to parents, not a thing to be neglected, but, on the contrary, carefully to be attended to. One may say, then, that is because we have our being by their means. But the God of all brought us into being, when we absolutely did not exist. He is the Creator and Maker of all: and, so to speak, the principle and radical essence of everything. For to everything existence is His gift. The father, then, and mother, were the means by which their offspring came into existence. Ought not, therefore, the primary Author justly to be loved more than the secondary and subsequent? And will not He Who gave the more precious gifts require of us the more marked honour? Our endeavours, therefore, to please our parents must give way to our love to God, and human duties must yield precedence to those which are divine. And this the Saviour has Himself taught us, saying, "He who loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me: and he who loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me." He does not say that they are condemned for simply loving, but for loving them more than Me. He permits sons and daughters, therefore, to love their parents, but not more than they do Him. When therefore any thing which concerns God's glory has to be done, let no impediment stand in the way; let thy earnestness be without pretext: thy zealous exertions ardent and irrepressible. Forthwith let father and mother and children be disregarded, and the power of natural affection towards them cease, and yield the victory to the love of Christ.
So was that thrice-blessed Abraham tried: so was he justified, and called the friend of God: and counted worthy of |265 surpassing honours. For what can equal in the balance the being a friend of God? What can this world offer comparable with a grace so glorious and admirable? He had one only-begotten and beloved son, who, after long delay, and scarcely, and in his old age had been given him. Upon him too rested all his hope of offspring: for it was said to him: "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." But as the sacred Scripture saith, "God tried Abraham, saying: Take thy beloved son, even him whom thou lovest, Isaac, and go to the high land, and offer him to Me for a whole burnt-offering, upon one of the mountains that I will tell thee." Was God trying Abraham, as not foreknowing what would happen, and waiting to learn the result? But how can this be true? For He knows all things before they happen. Why therefore did He try him? That we by the fact might learn the old man's love of God, and ready obedience, and unchanging earnestness in the dutiful performance of God's will. And observe how God made him, so to speak, unready for the act, that the patriarch might obtain the more worthy admiration, as preferring nothing to his Lord's will. "Take," He says, not simply Isaac, but "thy son: the beloved one;----him whom thou hast loved." This strengthened in his case the sting of natural affection. Oh! how mighty a turmoil of bitter thoughts rose up in the old man! For the force of innate affection naturally called him to compassion for the child. He had wished to be a father: for he had even lamented his childlessness unto God, when He promised to give him all that land which had been told him, and said, "Lord, what givest Thou me? and I dwell childless." The law, therefore, of natural affection urged him to spare the lad; while the power of love towards God called him to ready obedience: and he was like some tree, driven to and fro by the violence of the winds; or like a ship at sea, reeling, so to speak, and staggering by the beating of the waves. But there was one true and powerful thought to which he held fast. For he considered, that though the lad were slain, and became the work and victim of the fire, as being a whole burnt-offering, well-pleasing to God: yet that He "was not unable to raise him up again, oven from the dead." |266
Much, therefore, at once was taught him by this event. For, in the first place, he learnt that ready obedience leads on to every blessing, and is the pathway to justification, and the pledge of friendship with God: and secondly, that God is able to raise again, even from the dead. And, moreover, he learnt what is more important, and more worthy of account, I mean the mystery of Christ: that for the salvation and life of the world God the Father was about to yield His own Son to the sacrifice: even Him, Who by nature was beloved, that is, Christ. And the blessed Paul confirms this, saying of Him: "He That spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." The patriarch Abraham therefore learnt what kind of and how great a thing it is, not to spare his own son, the only-begotten and beloved. He then was found approved, because he set nothing above those things that are well-pleasing to God. Such Christ requires us to be, so as to love and prize what concerns His glory far above the ties of fleshly relationship.
And once more to look at it in another light. It was right that the power of love towards Him should outweigh with us even that of those who begat us in the flesh. He has given us God as a Father; for He said: "Call not any one father upon earth: for One is your Father Who is in heaven: and ye are all brethren." And the wise John said of Him, "He came to His own, and His own received Him not: but to all who received Him He gave power to become the sons of God." Ought they therefore who have Him as Father Who is Lord of heaven and earth: Who transcends all created things: Who is guarded by mighty cherubim: Who excels thrones and dominions, principalities and powers;----ought such, I say, to fall into so great folly, as not to set Him above all natural relationship? Can it be that we shall be guilty if we disregard the honour due to parents and children and brethren: but free from guilt, if we pay not the honour due to the Father of all? Hear what He plainly saith; "The son honoureth his father, and the servant his master: if I am a Father, where is My honour? and if I am. a Master, where is My fear? saith the Lord Almighty."
Fitly therefore did Christ make him who was called to the |267 apostleship acquainted with apostolic conduct, and the spiritual manliness required for its discharge, by saying, "Leave the dead burying their dead: but go thou, preach the kingdom of God." For such must the ministers of the divine message be. To whose wise teaching let us also in everything adhere, advancing onwards unto Christ: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever, and ever, Amen. |268
SERMON LIX. FIT TO BE READ WHEN ANY ONE RECEIVES THE TONSURE 1.
9:61-62. And another also said, I will follow Thee, Lord; but first let me bid farewell to the members of my house. But Jesus said to him, No man who putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
OF zeal in virtuous pursuits we say, that it is worthy of all praise. But those who have attained to this state of mind |269 must be strong in purpose, and not feebly disposed towards the mark that is set before them. Rather they must plainly possess an unwavering and inflexible mind: for so, starting impetuously as from the barriers of the race-course, they will reach the goal, and gain the victory, and twine around their hair the conqueror's crown. And to this heartiness of purpose the Saviour of all encouraged us, as being a quality worth the gaining, where He says, "Who of you wishing to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth whether he have sufficient to finish it; lest, saith He, having laid the foundation, and not being able to finish it, the passers by say, This man began to build, and was not able to finish." One who so acts becomes an object merely of ridicule: for upon every honourable and virtuous undertaking a fitting conclusion ought to follow. And to teach this truth the law of Moses commanded those who were building a house to erect upon it also a battlement. For he who is not perfect in good, is not free from blame. Just then as discredit was of course attached to a house that had no battlements, so the passage just read to us from the Gospel teaches us a similar lesson.
"For one drew near saying, I will follow thee, Lord; but first let me go and bid farewell to those in my house." The promise then that he makes is worthy of emulation, and full of all praise: but the fact of his wishing to bid farewell to those at home shews him, so to speak, divided, and that he had not as yet entered upon the course with unshackled mind. For look how, like some colt eager for the race, there holds him back as with a bridle, the stream of worldly things, and his wish in part still to take interest in this world's occupations. For no one hinders him from hastening, if he will, to the wished for mark, according to the free inclinations of his mind. But the very wish to consult first with his relatives, and to make those his counsellors who were not likely to entertain |270 sentiments similar to his own, nor to share at all in his resolution, sufficiently proves him infirm and halting, and not as yet fully inclined to act upon his desire of following Christ.
But He, as it were by gentle reproofs, corrected him, and taught him to practise a more determined zeal, saying, "No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." For just as the husbandman, who has begun to break up his land by the plough, if he grow weary, and leave his labour half done, sees not his field thick set with ears, nor his threshing-floor full of sheaves, and suffers of course the loss which is the natural result of idleness; the absence, I mean, of produce, and the consequent penury, and incurs also the ridicule of those that see him: so he who wishes to cleave unto Christ, but does not bid farewell to the things of the world, and abandon all love of the flesh, and even deny his earthly relatives; for by so doing he attains to a resolute courage in all praiseworthy pursuits; is not fit for the kingdom of God. One who cannot attain to this resolution, because his mind is fettered with indolence, is not acceptable unto Christ, nor fit for His company, and necessarily is refused permission to be with Him.
Such were those of whom Christ spake, when forming that similitude in the Gospels. For He said, "A rich man made a banquet for his son; and sent therefore his servants to call them that were bidden, saying, My oxen and my failings are killed, and every thing is ready: come to the banquet. But they, it says, would not come: but one said, I have bought a field, and I cannot come. And another, I have bought a yoke of oxen: and another, I have taken a wife, hold me excused." Thou seest that they were called, and while it was in their power to partake of the feast, they excused themselves, and gave themselves up without restraint to those temporal and earthly matters, which rapidly fade, and the possession of which must quickly be abandoned. And yet surely it was their duty rather to have understood, that a wife and lands, and those other possessions, are but finite pleasures, short in duration, and fleeting like the shadows, and, as it were, a bitterness mingled with honey. But to be members of the church of God, from which they, I know not how, foolishly fled, would have procured for them an eternal and unchanging |271 joy. Whoever would follow Christ, let him be thoroughly constant, and intent solely upon this end; let him not be divided; let him not be possessed by timidity and slothfulness; let him be free from all carnal lust, and prefer nothing to his love unto Him. But if he be not so disposed, nor so affected in his will, even if he do draw near, he will not be accepted.
Something of this sort the law of Moses also has taught us indirectly in figure. For whenever, as emergencies arose, the children of Israel went out to battle against their enemies, before they engaged in the combat, the herald of the host made proclamation, "Whosoever hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her, let him return to his house, that he die not in battle, and another man take her. Whosoever hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it, let him return to his house, that he die not in battle, and another dedicate it. Whosoever is frightened in his heart, let him return to his house, that he make not the heart of his brother frightened as his own." Thou seest that the man who loves the world, or wealth, and whosoever is full of excuses, is not every where in his place: but we shall find the holy apostles very different from such as these. For when they heard Christ saying, "Follow Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men: they, it says, at once left the ship and their father, and followed Him." And the wise Paul also writes, "But when God willed to reveal unto me His Son, immediately I counselled not with flesh and blood." Thou seest the valiant mind, and the brave and hearty purpose, not subject to the bonds of indolence, but superior to all cowardice and fleshly lust. Such must they be who would follow Christ: not looking behind them, not walking, that is, so to speak, backwards, and turning their faces from that manly virtue which becometh saints, and excusing themselves from the duty of labouring: not loving things temporal, not of a double mind, but hastening onwards with perfect zeal to that which is well pleasing to Christ: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |272
10:1-3. After these things the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two before His face, unto every city and place, whither He was about to enter. And He said unto them, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into the harvest.
THE Holy Ghost by the mouth of the holy prophets commanded the ministers of the saving word of the gospel, saying, "Sound the trumpet on the new moon: on the solemn day of your feast." And to the new moon we may compare the time of our Saviour's coming. For a new world arose for us, in which all things have become new, as the very wise Paul assures us in his writings. For he says, "The former things have passed away: behold, all things have become new." By the new moon therefore, and solemn feast, we understand the time of the incarnation of the Only-begotten, when a trumpet sounded loudly and clearly, even that which proclaimed the saving message of the gospel. For is not that a time which invites us to keep festival, when we were justified by faith, and washed from the pollutions of sin, and death abolished, which had tyrannized over us, and Satan ejected from his mastery over us all; and in which by sanctification and justification we have been united to our common Saviour Christ, and enriched with the hope of unending life and glory. These are the loud trumpet's sounds, and they run not only through Judaea, like that law which was of old, but throughout the whole earth.
And this is pictured for thee in the writings of Moses. For the God of all came down in the likeness of fire on Mount Sinai, and there was a cloud, and darkness, and gloom, and the voice of the trumpet with a loud ringing sound, according to the Scripture. But the notes of the trumpet were, it says, few at first, but afterwards they waxed longer, and became louder and louder continually. What then was it which the shadow of the law signified to us by these things? Was it not this: that |273 at first there were but few to publish the Gospel tidings; but afterwards they became many? And Christ began the work: and having first chosen the twelve apostles, He afterwards appointed, it says, seventy others. And that, not as though those who had been already called to the honour of the apostleship had been guilty of any neglect, or been led into anything unbecoming, but because a great multitude was about to believe in Him. For not Israel only was caught in the net, but also the crowds of the Gentiles. For that the message of salvation would take possession of the whole world, the God of all declared by one of the holy prophets, saying of it, "Judgment springeth up like couch-grass in the furrows of the |274 field." For like as the couch-grass springs up in the furrows that are left without cultivation, and takes possession of them, and spreads everywhere, constantly advancing onwards, so in an exactly similar manner has judgment, that is to say, the grace that justifieth the world as declared in the saving tidings of the Gospel, taken possession of every city and place.
Besides these twelve therefore, there were also seventy others appointed by Christ. And again a type of this was prefigured in the words of Moses. For at God's command he also chose seventy, and God sent the Spirit upon those who had been chosen. And yet again, we find the twelve disciples, and these seventy also, indicated to us by the shadow of the law. For it is thus written in the Exodus concerning the children of Israel; "And they came to Marah 2: and the people could not drink the waters of Marah; for they were bitter. And Moses cried unto the Lord, and the Lord shewed him a tree; and he cast it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet." Now Marah, when translated, means bitterness; and. is taken by us as a type of the law. For the law was bitter, in that it punished with death. And of this Paul is witness, saying, "He that hath despised Moses' law is put to death without mercy at the mouth of two or three witnesses." It was bitter therefore, and unendurable to those of old time, and was unacceptable on this account, just as were also those bitter waters. But it also was sweetened by the precious cross, of which that tree there shewn by God to the blessed Moses was a type. For now that the shadow has changed to the spiritual contemplation, we behold with the eyes of the mind the mystery of Christ, that lay hid in the types of the law. Although therefore the law was bitter, it has now ceased to be so any longer.
"And after Marah, they came, it says, to Elim." And Elim again when translated means an ascent or increase. And what again was there at Elim? "Twelve wells of water, it says, and seventy palm trees." For as we ascend to more perfect knowledge, and hasten onward to spiritual increase, we |275 find twelve wells, that is, the holy Apostles: and seventy palm trees, those, namely, who were appointed by Christ. And very excellently the disciples 3 are compared to wells, and the seventy, who were subsequently chosen, to palm trees. For as from holy wells we draw from the disciples of our Saviour the knowledge of all good: while we praise the seventy also, and, so to speak, call them palms; for this tree is strong-hearted, and firm of root, and very fruitful, and constantly grows besides the waters. And such we affirm the saints to be: for their mind is pure, and steadfast, and fruitful, and habitually delights itself in the waters of knowledge.
Therefore, to return again to what we were at first saying, the Lord "appointed other seventy." But some may perchance imagine that the former had been dismissed, and deprived of the honours of the apostleship; and that these were promoted in their stead, as being better able to teach than they were. To remove therefore such thoughts from our minds, He Who knoweth hearts, and is acquainted with things to come, even as it were apologized, saying, "The harvest indeed is great; but the labourers are few: pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into His harvest." For just as lands covered thick with produce, and broad and long, require numerous and able labourers; so the whole earth, or rather the company of those about to believe in Christ, being great and innumerable, required not a few teachers, but as many as would suffice for the work. And for this reason Christ appointed those who were to be the allies, so to speak, and assistants of the twelve disciples. They went therefore on their mission, being sent two and two to every city and village, crying, as it were, in the words of John, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
But observe this: that while He said, "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into His harvest," He did it Himself. And yet Who besides is Lord of the harvest, that is, of the dwellers on earth, but He Who by nature and truly is God. "For to Him belongs the whole earth and its fulness," as Scripture says: and He is the Creator of all, and its Fashioner. But inasmuch as it belongs to the supreme God |276 alone to send forth labourers, how was it that Christ appointed them? Is He not therefore the Lord of the harvest, and God the Father, by Him and with Him, the Lord of all? All things therefore are His, and there is nothing of all things which are named that belongs to the Father, which is not also the Son's. For He also said to the Father, "Those whom Thou gavest Me out of the world, Thine they were, and Thou gavest them unto Me." For, as I said, all those things that belong to the Father are declared to be, and are, the property of the Son, and He is radiant with His Father's dignities. And the glory of the Godhead belongs to Him, not as a thing conferred and given Him by another; but rather He subsists in honours which are His by nature, as He also doth Who begat Him. And the wise John also affirms that we all are His, thus saying of Him: "I indeed baptize you in water: but after me cometh He Who is mightier than I: He [Who] shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost, and in fire. Whose fan is in His hand, and He will cleanse His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."
May it be our lot then as rational wheat, to be carried into God's treasure house, oven into the mansions that are above: that there, in company with the rest of the saints, we may enjoy the blessings which God bestows in Christ: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen 4. |277
SERMON LXI. FIT TO BE READ AT THE COMMEMORATIONS OF THE APOSTLES.
10:3. Go: behold, I send you as sheep among wolves.
ALL those who praise the divine and sacred Word correctly, and without error, are, we affirm, the allies of the doctrines of truth, and its host teachers; well knowing how to guide whosoever wish to advance in Christ, rightly unto every good work, and to the life incorruptible, and to participation in the blessings bestowed upon us. Of these most wise Paul also declares, that they are "the lights of the world, holding the word of life."
Now of these illustrious and famous men the divine disciples were the commencement, and stand foremost in order: for they had as a schoolmaster Him Who is the Giver of all understanding; and Who richly bestoweth His light upon those who love Him. For He is the true light Who illumineth the heavens, even the powers who are above; and delivereth from ignorance and darkness those also upon earth. And observe how He made the appointed teachers of all beneath the sun to be ready workmen, conspicuous for their earnest zeal, and able to win the glory of apostolic victories; preferring none of this world's affairs to the duty of proclaiming their sacred message, and so bravely disposed in their manly mind as to be superior to all fear, and no whit terrified at hardships, nor alarmed at death itself, when brought upon them for Christ's sake. For "go," He says: and in this word "go," He encourages them to be courageous; makes them eagerly desirous of saintly victories; establishes them in the steadfast resistance of all temptation; and permits them not to shrink from the violence of persecutions. For just as valiant generals, when the battle begins, and the enemy discharge their shafts, encourage those under their command bravely to resist the attacking foe, and to bear themselves manfully against the enemy; using such words as these; 'Fellow soldiers, let none of these things that |278 ye see trouble your mind; we are not weak and inexperienced in warfare, but know well the ways of battle: we have coats of mail strongly made; armour and swords; bows too and darts: by exertion we shall purchase the victory; stoutheartedness will win for us a right glorious renown:' so does the Saviour of all, if we may so speak, send forth the disciples against the hosts of unbelievers, saying, "Go; behold, I send you as sheep among wolves."
What sayest Thou O Lord? How can sheep converse with wolves? When was a wild beast ever at peace with the sheep? Scarcely can the shepherds protect their flocks by gathering them into folds, and shutting them up in enclosures, and frightening the beasts of prey by the barking of dogs, yea, and even themselves fighting in their defence, and running risks to protect the more weakly members of their flock. How then does He command the holy Apostles, who are guileless men, and if we may so speak, sheep, to seek the company of wolves, and go to them of their own accord? Is not the danger manifest? Are they not set as a ready prey for their attacks? How can a sheep prevail over a wolf? How can one so peaceful vanquish the savageness of beasts of prey? Yes, He says, for they all have Me as their Shepherd: small and great; people and princes; teachers and taught. I will be with you and aid you, and deliver you from all evil. I will tame the savage beasts; I will change wolves into sheep; I will make the persecutors become the helpers of the persecuted: and those who wrong My ministers I will make to be sharers in their pious designs. For I make and unmake all things, and there is nothing that can resist My will.
And that this was the actual result, we may see in instances which really occurred. For the divine Paul was a blasphemer, and persecutor, more injurious and cruel than any wolf against those who believed in Christ. Did he then persist in this conduct? Did he continue to be a wolf even unto the end? Far from it: for he was called by Christ, and experienced an unlooked for change. He who in old time was a wolf became more gentle than a lamb; and preached the faith which once he persecuted. And a change so unexpected in its manner was the wonder of all men, and Christ was glorified, Who had changed him from a beast of prey into a lamb. And this the |279 divine Jacob had in his blessings before announced concerning him: "Benjamin is a ravening wolf: in the morning he shall eat flesh: and in the evening divide victual." For the wise Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and, at first, he resisted those who believed in Christ like a ravening wolf; but when a short time had elapsed, a space, so to speak, as from morning to evening, he divided victual. For he taught and preached Jesus: and to those that as yet were babes in intellect he offered milk; but set before the full grown strong meat. In the morning therefore he eats flesh, and in the evening divides victual.
And thus much then briefly respecting the blessed Paul: but let us next discuss from a similar point of view the calling of nations. Let us see whether they too also were not at one time beasts of prey, and fiercer than wolves against the ministers of the gospel message of salvation, but were transformed unto the gentleness and guilelessness which are by Christ's help. They too persecuted the holy apostles, not so much like men struggling with wolves, as like beasts of prey, raging savagely against sheep. And though they wronged them not, but rather called them to salvation, they stoned them, they imprisoned them, they persecuted them from city to city. And yet those, who thus acted at first, afterwards became gentle and guileless, and like the sheep which once they persecuted.
And who else accomplisheth all these things but Jesus Christ our Lord? For He also it is "Who hath broken down the fence wall that was in the middle, abolishing the law of commandments contained in doctrines; Who hath made the two nations into one new man; Who hath made peace, and reconciled both in one body unto the Father." For that there have been joined unto the faith in concord and unity of mind and will, the savage in company with the gentle; the impure and sin-stained with the saints; those, that is, of the herds of the Gentiles with those of Israel who believed; the prophet Isaiah shews, thus speaking in the Spirit: "And the wolf shall graze with the lamb; and the leopard rest with the kid; and the bear and the cow shall graze together; and the ox and the lion eat provender together, and their young ones shall be with one another." Consider, my beloved, and understand that those who were sanctified by faith did not |280 conform to the habits of the heathen, but on the contrary those who were called of the heathen conformed to them. For such beasts as the wolf and lion, the bear and leopard, are eaters of flesh; but those animals which are of a gentle nature, kids and lambs, and steers, feed upon grass. But those beasts of prey, he says, shall graze with these gentle ones, and eat their food. It is not therefore the gentle ones who have conformed to the habits of the savage: but, on the contrary, as I said, the savage who have imitated them. For they have abandoned their cruel disposition for the gentleness that becometh saints, and been changed by Christ, so that the wolves have become lambs; for He it is Who hath made them gentle, and united, as I said, the two nations unto a mind full of the love of God. And this of old the hierophant Moses cried out, saying, "Rejoice, ye nations, with His people; ascribe majesty unto God." Let us therefore exalt Him and honour Him with praises because of the Saviour and Lord of all: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |281
SERMON LXII. Fit to be read at the Commemorations of the Apostles.
10:4-7. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and ask not the peace of any one by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace to this house. And if there be there one 5 worthy of peace, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And in that house remain, eating and drinking of their things: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Change not from house to house.
THE prudent and skilful bee visits the flowers in every field and meadow, and gathering the dew that has settled upon them, so makes sweet honey. And Solomon leads us to imitate her conduct, saying, "Draw near to the bee, and learn how industrious she is, and how excellent is her workmanship. She is beloved, therefore, and praised by every man, and her labours kings and private persons employ for their health." Come, therefore, and let us also, wandering, as it were, around some intellectual meadow, gather the dew let fall by the Holy Ghost upon the divine message of the Gospel, that so being enriched in mind we may bring forth the spiritual honey, even the word profitable and useful to all who thirst after the communication of the divine doctrines, whether they be noble and illustrious, or obscure and private persons in a humble rank of life. For it is written, "Good words are as honeycomb; and their sweetness is healing to the soul." |282
Now these fair and good words, what else are they than those certainly which Christ spake unto us, making those who love Him skilful by repeated teaching in virtuous pursuits? For take here also as a proof of what I have said the sense of the passage just read to us. "Carry," it says, "neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes." Consider, I pray you, here again the nature of the pathway of apostolic virtue set before them. For it was right that they who were to be the lights and teachers of all beneath the heaven, should learn it from no other than from Him Who is the Word that came down from above----from heaven: the fountain of wisdom and intellectual light; from whom cometh all understanding, and the knowledge of every thing that is good. What, then, He requires of them is, that in preaching to men everywhere the Word that He spake, and in calling the inhabitants of the whole earth to salvation, they should travel about without purse, or scrip, or shoes; and journey rapidly from city to city, and from place to place. And let no man on any account say that the object of His teaching was to make the holy Apostles refuse the use of the ordinary articles of equipment. For what good would it do them, or what harm, to have shoes on their feet, or go without them? But what He does wish them to learn by this command, and to endeavour to practice is certainly this, that they must lay all thought of their sustenance upon Him, and call to remembrance the saint who said, "Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall feed thee." For He giveth the saints what is needful for life, nor speaketh He falsely where He saith, "Be ye not anxious for yourselves as to what ye shall eat, and what drink: nor for your body, what clothing ye shall wear: for your Father knoweth that ye have need of all those things. But seek first His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
For verily it was fitting and necessary that those who were adorned with apostolic honours, should have a mind free from covetousness, and altogether averse from the receiving of gifts, and content, on the contrary, with what God provides. "For the love of money is the root of all evils" as Scripture declares. They, therefore, in every way must be free and exempt from that which is the root and nourisher of all evils, and must expend, so to say, all their zeal upon their necessary |283 duties, not being exposed to Satan's attack, us taking with them no worldly wealth, but despising the things of the flesh, and desiring only what God wills.
For just as brave soldiers when they go out to battle carry nothing with them but such equipments only as are suitable for war, so also it was right that those who were sent out by Christ to carry aid to the world, and wage war in behalf of all who were in danger against the "world-rulers of this darkness," yea, and against Satan himself, should be free from the distractions of this world, and from all worldly anxiety; that being tightly girt, and clad in spiritual armour, they might contend mightily with those who resisted the glory of Christ, and had made all beneath the heaven their prey. For they had caused its inhabitants to worship the creature instead of the Creator, and to offer religious service to the elements of the world. Armed, therefore, with the shield of faith, and the breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, they must prove themselves invincible antagonists to their enemies; and not drag after them a heavy load of things worthy of blame and condemnation: such as are the love of wealth and hoards of base gains, and eagerness after them: for these things turn aside the mind of man from that behaviour which pleaseth God, and permit it not to mount upward to Him, but humble it rather to feelings set upon dust, and earthly things.
In enjoining them, therefore, to take neither scrip nor purse, nor, moreover, to trouble themselves about shoes, He clearly teaches them that his commandment requires them to abandon all carnal wealth, and that His wish is that they should be free from every impediment in entering upon the duty to which they were especially called, of preaching, namely, His mystery to men everywhere, and of winning unto salvation those who were entangled in the nets of destruction.
And to this He adds that "they 6 were not to ask of the |284 peace of any one by the way." But what harm would this have done the holy apostles? Come, therefore, come, and let us see the reason why it was not right for them to offer greeting to those that met them. Thou doubtless wilt say that it was because it might sometimes happen that those who met them were not believers: and that therefore it would not have been right for those who were ignorant of Him Who by nature and verily is God to be blessed by them. What, therefore, do we say to this? Does it not then seem an incredible supposition that this was the reason why they were commanded not to ask of the peace of any one by the way? For they were sent forth "not so much to call the righteous as sinners to repentance." And how, therefore, was it not fitting that they who were about to enlighten all who were in darkness, and to bring them unto the acknowledgment of the truth, should rather use gentleness and great kindliness instead of roughly withdrawing themselves from associating with them, and even refusing to ask of their health? For certainly with other good qualities, gentleness of address becometh the saints, and greetings, provided they are made in a fitting manner. And, moreover, those who met them would, of course, sometimes not be unbelievers, but men of their own persuasion, or 7 who had already been enlightened, and to whom it would even be their duty to offer an acknowledgment of love by a kindly greeting.
What, therefore, does Christ teach by this? He does not enjoin them to be rude, nor command them to lay stress upon the not making salutation: such conduct He rather teaches them to avoid. But it is not a thing unbefitting to suppose that when |285 the disciples were travelling about among the cities and villages, to instruct men everywhere in the sacred doctrines, they might wish to do this, perhaps, not with haste, but, so to speak, in a loitering manner, making deviations from the road, and permitting themselves to pay visits, because they wished to see some one or other as being an acquaintance or friend, and so would waste prodigally in unnecessary matters the fitting time for preaching. With great industry, therefore, says He, be zealous in delivering your sacred message; grant not to friendship an unprofitable delay, but let that which is well pleasing to God be preferred by you to all other things: and so practising an irresistible and unhampered diligence, hold fast to your apostolic cares.
Besides this He further commanded them "not to give holiness to dogs, nor again to cast the pearls before swine," by bestowing upon unbelievers their society in lodging with them: they were rather to grant it to such as were worthy of having it deigned them, by being sons of peace, and yielding obedience to their message. For it would have been a most disgraceful act for them to wish to be intimate with any who were still resisting Christ's glory, and guilty of the charge of ungodliness. "For what part hath the believer with the unbeliever?" For how could those who had not as yet even listened to their words, but made their instruction, however worthy it was of being embraced, an occasion sometimes even of ridicule, receive them as meriting their admiration? So too at Athens some once ridiculed the divine Paul. For he indeed taught them "that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands," being incorporeal and infinite, and That Which filleth all, but is contained by none: and declared that he preached unto them "Him Whom though they knew Him not, they imagined they rightly worshipped." But they being given up to superciliousness, and greatly priding themselves on their fluent tongue, said in their folly, "What would this seed-picker 8 say? For he seemeth to be a setter forth of |286 foreign gods." Seed-picker was the name they gave to a worthless bird, whose habit it was to pick up the seeds scattered on the roads: and in comparing to it the divine Paul, these foolish men were ridiculing the word of salvation then offered them.
Christ therefore commanded them to lodge with the sons of peace, and to eat at their cost, affirming that this was by a just decree; "for a labourer, He says, is worthy of his hire." And therefore, let not any of those who acknowledge the truth, disregard or be careless of the duty of honouring the saints: for they bless us, when "sowing to us things spiritual, they reap of us things carnal:" and "the Lord also commanded that those who preach the gospel shall live of the gospel:" since also according to the law of Moses, "those who offered sacrifices shared with the altar." And let those who are careless of honouring the saints, and illiberally close the hand, be assured that they are deprived of their blessing. But may it be our lot to be partakers of the blessing prepared for them with God, by offering to them as fruit whatever we possess; and by feeling pleasure in so doing; "for Christ loveth a cheerful giver:" by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen 9. |287
10:16 He that heareth you, heareth Me: and he that rejecteth you, rejecteth Me: and whosoever rejecteth Me, rejecteth Him That sent Me 10.
THOSE who adorn thrones of earthly royalty, and possess supreme authority, when they wish to render fitting men illustrious with this world's dignities, send them in the missives on which the decree commanding their appointment is inscribed, a declaration of their praiseworthiness. And this we find that Christ did. For consider how great was the authority He gave the holy apostles, and in what manner He declared them to be praiseworthy, and adorned with the highest honours. For let us search the sacred Scripture, even the treasure of the written words of the Gospel: let us there see the greatness of the authority given unto them. "He that heareth you," He says, "heareth Me: and he that rejecteth you, rejecteth Me: and he that rejecteth Me, rejecteth Him That sent Me." O what great honour! What incomparable dignities! O what a gift worthy of God! Though but men, the children of earth, He clothes them with a godlike glory; He entrusts to them His words, that they may be condemned who in ought resist, or venture to reject them: for when they are rejected He assures them that He it is Who suffers this; and then again He shews that the guilt of this wickedness, as being committed against Him, mounts up to God the Father. See, therefore, see with the eyes of the mind, to how vast a height He raises the sin committed by men in rejecting the saints! What a wall He builds around them! How great security He contrives for them! He makes them such as must be feared, and in every way plainly provides for their being uninjured.
And there is yet another way in which thou mayest attain to |288 the meaning of what is said by Christ. "For he," He says, who heareth you, heareth Me."He gives those who love instruction the assurance, that whatsoever is said respecting Him by the holy apostles or evangelists, is to be received necessarily without any doubt, and to be crowned with the words of truth. For he who heareth them, heareth Christ. For the blessed Paul also said; "Or seek ye proof of Christ That speaketh in Me? And moreover Christ Himself somewhere said to the holy disciples; "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." For Christ speaketh in them by the consubstantial Spirit. And if it be true, and plainly it is true, that they speak by Christ, how can that man err from what is fitting who affirms, that he who doth not hear them, doth not hear Christ, and that he who rejecteth them rejecteth Christ, and with Him the Father.
Inevitable therefore is the guilt decreed against the wicked heretics, who reject the words of the holy apostles and evangelists, and pervert them to that meaning only which without due examination seems to them to be right. These fall from the straight way, and wander from the doctrines of piety, "deceiving, and being deceived." For while, so to speak, they have bidden farewell to the sacred Scriptures, "they speak of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord," as Scripture saith. For though the blessed evangelist John wrote to us, that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" they drag to the exact opposite both the tenet concerning Him, and the quotation which proves it: saying that the only begotten Word of God was not in the beginning, nor very God, and that He was not even with God; that is, in union with Him by nature, inasmuch as He Who is incorporeal cannot be imagined to be in any place. These most audacious men even say that He was made, and measure out for Him such glory as they forsooth please: for they elevate Him above created things, as far as the language goes of praise. And in inventing for Him this mere and naked majesty, they imagine that they are doing something wise, or even pious: not understanding that if in any respect He be regarded as a created being, it 11 avails Him |289 nothing for the proof of His being really God: and that if in any respect He be made, and His nature similar to that (of things which are made), that then it follows, as they (virtually) affirm, that He was not in the beginning. For one who is made is not without beginning. How therefore does the wise Paul say, "By Him the Father made the worlds?" For if He were created, He had, as I said, a beginning of existence, and there must have been a time previous to His existence: and there must have been a time also, in which even the Father apparently was not that which the name signifies, but on the contrary, not a Father at all by nature. The word therefore that has come to us concerning Him is untrue, as also is that respecting the Son; and both forsooth are falsely so called.
And how then, I pray, can we believe the Son in saying, "I am the Truth;" for how is He the truth, Who is not what His name implies? Or how must not Paul be false in his words, when he thus writes, "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who was preached unto you by me, and Sylvanus, and Timotheus, was not yea and nay? For how was He not yea and nay, if He is said to be God, and is not God by nature? if He is called a Son, and was not begotten of the Father? if the divinely inspired Scripture saith, that the worlds were made by Him, and there was a time before He existed? if all things were brought into being by His means, and He is Himself one of them, in that He is regarded as a thing made? if He is called the only begotten, and is not so in truth? For the things that have been made, those, I mean, which have been brought into existence from non-existence by having been created, are, so to speak, akin to one another.
But we follow not the vain words of these men, in disregard of the declarations of the holy apostles and evangelists. We reject not them, that we may not reject Christ, and with Him and by Him the Father. We believe that the Only-begotten Word of God is God, and was begotten of God by nature: |290 that He is not created; not made; but the Creator of all: and not so much in all things, as rather supreme above all substantially with the Father. And when again we hear John saying, "And the Word became flesh," we do not falsify the expression: we do not use violence to the freeness of the the declarations: we do not pervert the mystery of Christ to that which is not right. We believe that the Word, though He was God, became flesh, that is, man; and not that He joined some man unto Him in equal honour: for this some venture to say and think, so that the Word from God the Father is to be regarded by us as one Son by Himself; and He Who sprang from the holy virgin as another beside Him, separately and by Himself: for such are the impure inventions of these men. We however agree with the divine Paul, who says: "There is one Lord; one faith; one baptism:" for we divide not Him Who is indivisible, but confess one Christ, the Word, Who is from God the Father, Who was made man, and incarnate, Whom the heavens worship, and the angels honour: and we too with them praise Him, crowning Him with divine honour, not so much as. a man Who was made God, but as God Who became man. And holding this opinion respecting Him, we shall also by His means enter 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. |291
10:17-20. And the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us in Thy Name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold I have given you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. But in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
IT is somewhere said by one of the holy prophets, "Will the Lord God do anything without revealing the teaching thereof to His servants the prophets?" For the God of all made known to the holy prophets those things which were hereafter to take place, in order that they might previously declare them, that so they might not be disbelieved, when in due time what had been foretold arrived at its fulfilment. And those who will may see that what we have now affirmed is true, even from the present lessons. "For the seventy" it says, "returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us in Thy Name." For first of all the twelve disciples had been appointed, holy and elect men, and worthy of all admiration. But inasmuch as, according to Christ's declaration, "the harvest indeed was great, but the labourers few," He further, in addition to those first chosen, "appointed seventy others, and sent them to every village and city of Judea before His face," to be, that is to say, His forerunners, and to preach the things that belonged to Him.
And in sending them, He ennobled them with the grace of the Holy Ghost, and crowned them with the power of working miracles, that they might not be disbelieved by men, nor be supposed to be self-called to the apostleship: just as of old there were some who prophesied, "though they spake not out of the mouth of the Lord," as Scripture saith, but rather vomited forth lies from their own heart. For God by the voice of Jeremiah somewhere also said, at one time, "I have not sent the prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken unto |292 them, yet they prophesied:" and again at another; "The prophets prophesied lies in My name: I sent them not, neither spake I unto them; neither had I commanded them." In order, therefore, that men might not subject to such a suspicion those who were commissioned by Christ, He gave them power over unclean spirits, and the ability to perform signs. For when the divine miracle followed close upon their word, no form, either of calumny or of Jewish false-speaking, could find a place against them. For they were convicted of accusing them without reason, or rather of choosing to fight against God. For to be able to work miracles is possible for no man, unless God give him the power and authority thereunto. The grace of the Spirit therefore witnessed of those who had been sent, that they were not persons who ran of themselves, nor self-called to the duty of speaking concerning Christ; but that, on the contrary, they had been appointed to be the ministers of His message.
The authority, however, which they bore to reprove evil spirits, and the power of crushing Satan, was not given them that they might themselves so much be regarded with admiration, as that Christ might be glorified by their means, and be believed on by those whom they taught, as by nature God, and the Son of God; and invested with so great glory and supremacy and might, as to be even able to bestow upon others the power of trampling Satan under their feet.
But they, it says, in that they were counted worthy of so great grace, "returned rejoicing, and saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us in Thy name." For they confess the authority of Him Who honoured them, and wonder at the supremacy and greatness of His power. But they seem to have rejoiced, not so much because they were ministers of His message, and had been counted worthy of apostolic honours, as because they had wrought miracles: but it would have been better for them to have reflected, that He gave them the power to work miracles, not that they might be regarded by men with admiration on this account, but rather that what they preached might be believed, the Holy Ghost bearing them witness by divine signs. It would have been better, therefore, had they manifestly rejoiced on account of those rather who had been won by their means, and had made this |293 a cause of exultation. Just as also the very wise Paul gloried in those who had been called by his means, saying, "My joy and my crown." But they said nothing at all of this kind, but rejoiced only in that they had been able to crush Satan.
And what is Christ's reply? "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." That is, 'I am not unaware of this: for inasmuch as ye set out upon this journey, so to speak, by My will, ye have vanquished Satan. "I saw him fall like lightning from heaven."' And this means that he was cast down from on high to earth: from overweening pride to humiliation: from glory to contempt: from great power to utter weakness. And the saying is true: for before the coming of the Saviour, he possessed the world: all was subject to him, and there was no man able to escape the meshes of his overwhelming might: he was worshipped by every one: everywhere he had temples and altars for sacrifice, and an innumerable multitude of worshippers. But because the Only-begotten Word of God has come down from heaven, he has fallen like lightning: for he who of old was bold and supercilious, and who vied with the glory of Deity; he who had as his worshippers all that were in error, is put under the feet of those that worshipped him. Is it not then true, that he has fallen from heaven to earth, by having suffered so great and terrible an overthrow?
Who then is He That hath destroyed his might, and humbled him to this misery? Plainly it was Christ. And this He announced to us in the words, "Behold, I have given you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you." 'But, O Lord, some one may reply, behold already we rejoice in the glory and grace bestowed upon us by Thee: for we have acknowledged that even the devils are subject to us in Thy name. And how then dost Thou proclaim to those who know it, and have openly acknowledged it, "Behold I have given you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions?"' Yes, He saith, I have carefully on purpose called you to the remembrance of those things which lo! already ye know, that ye may not be carried away with the ignorance of the Jews, who, not understanding the mystery of My incarnation, approach Me as a mere man, and persecute Me, saying, "Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God? And yet it was |294 rather their duty, He says, to have known, that not "as being a man," to use their words, I affirm of Myself that I am God; but rather that being by nature God, I have put on the form of a slave, and appear on earth as a man like unto you. And what is the proof of these things? "Behold, I have given you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions." But it was not the act of a mere man, nor of one such as we are, to bestow on others an authority so glorious and admirable, as for them to be able to tread upon all the power of the enemy: rather it was a deed suitable to God alone, Who is supreme over all, and crowned with surpassing honours.
it is capable also of being explained in another way. For thus He leaves them no excuse for giving way to cowardice, but rather requires of them to be very hearty and courageous. For such ought those to be who are ministers of the divine word: not subject to timidity, nor overpowered by sloth, but preaching "with great power," as Scripture saith, and bold in pursuing after those who are drawn up in array against them, and bravely struggling against the enemy; as having Christ to help them, Who will also humble the impure powers of evil under their feet, and with them even Satan himself. What man is there more powerful than "the world-rulers of darkness," or than that wicked serpent and prince of evil? He therefore who "brake the heads of the dragons," how can He be too weak to save them from the attacks of any of this world's inhabitants "Not without benefit, therefore, did Christ proclaim to His disciples: "Behold I have granted you to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy."
But He also further benefits them by immediately adding; "But in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.": 'Dost Thou not, O Lord, permit those who have been honoured by Thee to rejoice in their honours? And yet it is written of those who were appointed to the apostleship: "They shall walk, O Lord, 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 glory of their strength, and in Thy good pleasure shall our horn be exalted." How then didst Thou command them not to rejoice in the honour and glory which Thou didst Thyself bestow?' |295 What can we say to this? I answer, that Christ raises them to something greater, and commands them to account it their glory that their names were written in heaven. For it is of the saints that God is thus addressed, "And in Thy book they are all written."
But besides, to rejoice solely in the fact that they were able to work miracles, and crush the herds of demons, was likely to produce in them possibly the desire also of vainglory:----and the neighbour, so to speak, and kinsfellow of this passion constantly is pride. Most usefully, therefore, does the Saviour of all rebuke the first boasting, and quickly cuts away the root, so to speak, that had sprung up in them of the base love of glory, imitating good husbandmen, who, immediately that they see a thorn springing up in their pleasure 12 grounds or gardens, tear it up with the teeth of the mattock, before it strike its root deep.
Even though, therefore, we receive some gift from Christ not unworthy of admiration, we must not think too highly of it, but rather make the hope prepared for us our cause of rejoicing, and that our names are written in the companies of the saints, by Christ's gift, the Saviour of us all, Who, from His love to man bestows, with all besides that we have, this also upon us: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |296
10:21. In that same hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of the heaven and the earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it was good in Thy sight.
ONE of the holy prophets has said; "Whoever thirst, come ye to the waters." For he sends us to the writings of the holy Evangelists as to fountains of water. For just as "waters are pleasant to the thirsty soul," as Scripture saith, so to the mind that loveth instruction is the life-giving knowledge of the mysteries of our Saviour. Let us, therefore, draw from the sacred springs the living and life-giving waters, even those that are rational and spiritual. Let us take our fill: and weary not in thy drinking: for in these things more than enough is still for edification: and greediness is great praise. What then it was the Saviour said:----That fountain which came down from heaven, That river of delight,----we learn from what has here been read to us. "In that same hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, and said,"----Whosoever then loveth instruction, must approach the words of God not carelessly, and without earnestness; but, on the contrary, with eagerness: for it is written, "That for every one that taketh care, there is something over." Let us, therefore, examine them, and especially what is meant by the expression, that He "rejoiced in the Holy Ghost."
The Holy Ghost then proceedeth from God the Father as from the fountain; but is not foreign from the Son: for every property of the Father belongeth to the Word, Who by nature and verily was begotten of Him. Christ saw therefore that many had been won by the operation of the Spirit, Whom He bestowed on them that were worthy, and whom He had also commanded to be ministers of the divine message: He saw that wonderful signs were wrought by their hands, and that the salvation of the world by Him,----I mean by faith,----had |297 now begun: and therefore He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, that is, in the works and miracles wrought by means of the Holy Ghost. For He had appointed the twelve disciples, whom He also called apostles, and after them again seventy others, whom He sent as His forerunners to go before Him unto every village and city of Judaea, preaching Him, and the things concerning Him. And He sent them, nobly adorned with apostolic dignities, and distinguished by the operation of the grace of the Holy Ghost. "For He gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out." They then, having wrought many miracles, returned saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us in Thy Name."And therefore as I have already said, well knowing that those who had been sent by Him had benefited many, and that above all others, they had themselves learned by experience His glory, He was full of joy, or rather of exultation. For being good and loving unto men, and wishing that all should be saved, He found His cause of rejoicing in the conversion of those that were in error, in the enlightenment of those that were, in darkness, and in the answer of the understanding to the acknowledgment of His glory, of those who had been without knowledge and without instruction.
What then does He say? "Father, I confess Thee, Lord of the heaven and the earth." And these words, "I confess Thee," He says after the manner of men, instead of, "I accept Thy kindness," that is, "I praise Thee 13." For it is the custom of the divinely inspired Scripture to use the word |298 confession in some such way as this. For it is written, that "they shall confess, O Lord, Thy great name; for it is terrible and holy." And again, "I will confess Thee, O Lord, with all my heart, and I will tell all Thy wonders."
But I perceive again, that the mind of these perverted men departs not from its depravity; and some of them perhaps will object to us the following argument: 'Lo! the Son makes confession of gratitude to the Father: and how must He not be inferior to Him?' But whosoever is skilful in defending the doctrines of truth may well reply to this: 'And what hinders, O worthy sir, the Son, though equal in substance, from thanking and praising His Father, for saving by His means all beneath the heaven? But if thou thinkest that because of this thanksgiving He is inferior to the Father, observe that also which follows; for He calls the Father "Lord of the heaven and the earth." But of a certainty the Son of Almighty God is equally with Him Lord of all, and above all: not as being inferior, or different in substance, but as God of God, crowned with equal honours, and possessing by right of His substance equality with Him in all things.' And thus much then in answer to them.
But let us consider the words which He addresses to His Father respecting us and in our behalf. "Thou hast hid, He says, all these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes: Yea, O Father, that so it seemed good in thy sight." For God the Father has revealed unto us the mystery, which before the foundations of the world was hidden and reserved in silence with Him: even the Incarnation of the Only-begotten, which was foreknown indeed before the foundations of the world, but revealed to its inhabitants in the last ages of the world. For the blessed Paul writes, that "to me who am the least of all saints, has this grace been given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and clearly teach them all, what is the dispensation 14 of the mystery that for ages has been hid in God Who created all." The great and adorable mystery of our |299 Saviour was hidden therefore even before the foundations of the world, in the knowledge of the Father. And in like manner we also were foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons. And this again the blessed Paul teaches us, thus writing, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, having foreordained us in love to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself." To us therefore, as unto babes, the Father has revealed the mystery that for ages had been hidden and reserved in silence.
And yet multitudes of men have preceded us in the world past numbering, who, as far as words went, were wise, who had a practised and skilful tongue, and beauty of stylo, and grandeur of expression, and no mean reputation for wisdom: but as Paul said, "They had become empty in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened: while professing to be wise, they had made themselves fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and into that of birds, and four-footed beasts and reptiles. For this cause they were given up to a reprobate mind;" "and God made the wisdom of this world to be folly:" neither did He shew unto them the mystery. And to us too it is written, "Whosoever seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become foolish, in order that he may become wise: for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." It may truly therefore be affirmed, that he who possesses merely and by itself the wisdom of the world, is foolish and without understanding before God: but that he who seems to be a fool to the wise men of the world, but possesses in his mind and heart the light of the true vision of God, is wise before God. And Paul again confirms this, saying, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach: not with wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ be made ineffectual. For the speech of the cross is to them who are perishing foolishness; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and take away the understanding of the prudent." And to others also he sent, saying, "For see your calling, |300 brethren: that there are not among you 15 many wise men after the flesh: nor many mighty, nor many of high birth; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may confound the wise." To those therefore who seemed to be foolish, by which is meant, men of an innocent and guileless mind, and simple as a child in wickedness, the Father hath revealed His Son, as being themselves also foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons.
Nor is it in my opinion unreasonable to add also the following. The Scribes and Pharisees, who held high rank among the Jews, as having the reputation of legal learning, were regarded as wise men. But they were convicted by the very result of not being so in reality. For even the prophet Jeremiah thus somewhere addressed them: "How say ye, that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? The lying cord of the scribe is for emptiness. The wise men are ashamed; they fear and are taken: what wisdom is in. them, because they have rejected the word of the Lord?" Because then they rejected the word of the Saviour, that is, the saving message of the Gospel, or in other language, the Word of God the Father, Who for our sakes became man, they have themselves been rejected. For again the prophet |301 Jeremiah said of them, "Call ye them reprobate silver, because the Lord hath rejected them." And the mystery of Christ was also hid from them: for He somewhere even said to his disciples concerning them, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given." "To you," that is, to whom? Plainly to those who believed: to those who have recognised His appearing, who understand the law spiritually, who can perceive the meaning of the previous revelation of the prophets, who acknowledge that He is God and the Son of God, to them the Father is pleased to reveal His Son: 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. d The marginal note, which literally means, "Fit to be read when any one is shaven," refers to the rite of admission into the monastic order, and is of course of the date, not of the original work, but of its translation into Syriac, or even its transcription, that is, of the seventh or eighth century. In the Syriac historian, John of Ephesus, the phrase is of frequent occurrence, and always in the sense of becoming a monk. Thus in p. 47, we read that Photius, son of Antonina, the wife of Belisarius, 'for some reason or other, left the army, and shaved his hair, and put on the monastic habit: but being unable to submit to monastic rule, he went to Justin II., still clad in the monkish stole, and was by him made governor of Samaria:' where for twelve years he gave free licence to his ungoverned temper and avarice: as an instance of which, the historian mentions, that he hung the bishop of Ascalon up by one arm, ordering him not to be loosed for three days, unless upon payment of three talents of gold. Again, in p. 55 he mentions, that at the time when the great eunuch Narses received orders to proceed on his last expedition to Italy, he was occupied in building a monastery in Bithynia, intending 'to retire thither, and shave his hair,' i. e. become a monk. Even ladies had to submit to this rite: for in p. 88 he tells us, that in the severe persecution carried on in Justin's latter years by the patriarch, John of Sirmium, against the Monophysites, two noble ladies, Antipatra, whose daughter was married to the consul John, and Juliana, the emperor's own sister-in-law, having refused to receive the holy communion from a bishop who accepted the council of Chalcedon, were sent to a nunnery, with strict orders 'that their hair should be shorn, and that they should wear the black habit of the nuns, and be compelled to perform the most menial labours:' which these ladies found so painful, that they submitted, and were allowed to return to their families. Similar testimonies have already been collected from Greek and Latin authors, as, e. g. Socrates, 1. 3. c. 1. says of the apostate Julian, iv χρῷ κειράμενος τὸν τῶν μοναχῶν ὑπεκρίνετο βίον. To shave the head was peculiar to the monks; for of the clergy nothing more was required than that modesty of dress and apparel which became the gravity of their office; so Conc. Carth. iv. c. 44. "Clericus nec comam nutriat, nec barbam radat," letting the hair grow long, and shaving the beard, being equally marks of luxury and effeminacy. So Morinus Com. de Sac. Eccles. Ordin. P. iii. 266, grants that the clergy for many centuries did not shave the head; and Jerome bears witness to the same effect in his Commentary on Ezech. xliv. 20.
2. f Although the translator generally takes the Septuagint text, he has here preserved the name of this place as found in the Syriac version, and calls it Morat.
3. g The reader has probably already noticed how constantly S. Cyril uses "disciples," as synonymous with "apostles."
4. i The passage in which S. Cyril compares the seventy disciples to the palm trees in Elim, is contained in a brief form both in Mai and Cramer, hut ascribed by the latter to Titus of Bostra. Another passage, rightly assigned by Cramer to Cyril, but at the end of which the Catenist has referred his readers to his collections on St. Matthew's Gospel for the explanation of Luke x. 2, 7, and 16, has evidently puzzled both editors. Mai puts one full stop between the verb προεγράφετο, and τὰ ἀκόλουθα its nominative case: but Cramer puts two full stops, and begins the verb with a capital letter. Nor is this by any means a solitary instance on the part of this latter editor, of his punctuation rendering his text unintelligible. (Cf. ii. p. 85, last three lines.) In his next page, he again contains a passage belonging to Cyril, but given under the name of Titus of Bostra: followed by one which really does belong to this writer.
5. k Literally, "a son of peace;" the Syriac with all the best MSS. rejecting the article. It is, moreover, written in one word .... Similar instances of this idiom are, ... man, literally, a son of man; ... immediately, literally, son of the hour. So also a counsellor is a son of counsel; a secretary, a son of the secret; like, a son of likeness; connatural, a son of his nature; brought up together, σύντροφος, a son of his bringing up; a fellow-heir, a son of his inheritance, &c. The translators of the A. V. do not seem to have understood this, as they translate, "your peace shall rest upon it," the house: whereas Christ's peace rests upon the man who is worthy of it.
6. l This is not a different reading from the Greek text, but the substitution of the customs of the East for those of Greece. In Greece when friends met they embraced one another, and therefore their word for salutation is ἀσπάζομαι, amplecti; in Rome they said Salve, Be well, whence Saluto: and in the East they asked of one another's peace, 2 Kings ix. 22; whence the phrase in the text. In the present day Orientals greet by saying, Peace be to you; to which the answer is, And to you peace: Cf. also John xx. 26: it is thus that the word for peace, Salaam, has become equivalent with us to salutation.
7. m The use of this conjunction leads to the conclusion that "by having been enlightened" is meant having been baptized: and thus two stages of feeling would be marked in those who might meet them; they might either be men disposed to look favourably upon the labours of the Apostles, or they might even have publicly acknowledged their convictions, and been received into the church by baptism. That φωτίζω constantly has this meaning is well known, and the Peschito, which often is rather a paraphrase than a translation, renders φωτισθέντας in Heb. vi. 4. by "who have gone down to baptism;" and in Heb. x. 32. by "ye have received baptism."
8. n S. Cyril explains σπερμολόγος in almost the same terms as Theophylact, and others of the Fathers. Casaubon, however, from Eustathius, has shewn that the word was applied by the Athenians contemptuously to the worthless fellows who hung about the market-place to pick up any thing that might fall: and hence the explanations given in Suidas and Hesychius of εὐρολόγος and φλύαρος. And in this sense it is taken in the A. V.
9. o Scarcely any of this part of the commentary has been discovered by Mai; he has however a very short summary of this sermon, in which the Catenist has interpolated an illustration of our Lord's command to the disciples by referring to Elisha's similar instruction to Gehazi to salute no one by the way, when sent to visit the Shunamite's dead son, 2 Kings iv. 29.
10. p S. Cyril has passed over without notice, vv. 8-15, containing the denouncement of the woes upon Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, for not having received Christ's teaching. On several other occasions he has similarly omitted passages, probably as having been explained by him in his other commentaries.
11. q Namely, the position invented for our Lord by the Arians, who considered Him greater than all created beings, but less than God. Subsequently, I have inserted, virtually, because S.Cyril does not mean that the Arians rejected the Scripture absolutely, but that the legitimate deductions from their doctrines are irreconcilable with its plain meaning. This must be borne in mind all through his argument, as otherwise it is unintelligible.
12. r Literally, "the paradise," a word borrowed from the Persian language, and exactly signifying "the pleasure ground immediately attached to a house."
13. s As the English translation "I thank " has already obviated the difficulty in the original, it may be necessary to say, that it literally means as rendered above, "I confess," "I make confession to Thee, O Father:" but as the Greek language has no word strictly meaning "to thank," the Sept. use this verb to express the Hebrew [Hebrew], gratias egit, laudavit, and hence its use in biblical Greek in this sense. The Syriac periphrasis is also remarkable, being, "I accept thy grace or kindness," the acceptance of it; as a favour being supposed to convey an acknowledgment of gratitude. The Latin of Corderius gives the general sense of the passage very correctly: Confiteor Tibi, Pater, dicit more hominum, pro gratiam agnosco, quare laudo Te, gratias ago tibi. Solet enim divinitus inspirata scriptura confessionis nomen secundum talem aliquem modum sumere. Scriptum est enim; Confiteantur nomini Tuo magno: et iterum; Confitebor Tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo. The Greek has not been preserved.
14. t Οἰκονομία. The reading of the textus receptus κοινωνία, 'fellow-ship,' has scarcely any MS. authority, and is rejected in all modern edd. There is considerably more support for its addition of διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, but far outweighed by the evidence for its rejection.
15. u With the exception of the Peschito, I am not aware of any other authority for the reading "among you," which otherwise however makes a very good sense, 'Observe that in your company, forming the Christian church at Corinth, ye do not find many men distinguished either for wealth, power, or lineage, but principally the poor and ignoble.' Most probably the translator, though not quoting it literally, had the Peschito in his mind, as otherwise he would scarcely have used the obsolete plural...
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