Chrysostom He 2300
2300 He 11,7-12
1 of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by Faith.”
[1.] “BY faith” (he says) “Noah being warned of God.” As the Son of God, speaking of His own coming, said, “In the days of Noah they married and were given in marriage” (Lc 17,26-27), therefore the Apostle also recalled to their mind an appropriate image. For the example of Enoch, was an example only of Faith; that of Noah, on the other hand, of unbelief also. And this is a complete consolation and exhortation, when not only believers are found approved, but also unbelievers suffer the opposite.
For what does he say? “By faith being warned of God.”2 What is “being warned of God”? It is, “It having been foretold to him.” But why is the expression “divine communication”3 (Lc 2,26) used? for in another place also it is said, “and it wag communicated4 to him by the Spirit,” and again, “and what saith the divine communication?”5 (Rm 11,4). Seest thou the equal dignity of the Spirit? For as God reveals,6 so also does the Holy Spirit. But why did he speak thus? The prophecy is called “a divine communication.”
“Of things not seen as yet,” he says, that is of the rain.
“Moved with fear, prepared an ark.” Reason indeed suggested nothing of this sort; For “they were marrying and being given in marriage”; the air was clear, there were no signs [of change]: but nevertheless he feared: “By faith” (he says) “Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.”
How is it, “By the which he condemned the world”? He showed them to be worthy of punishment, since they were not brought to their senses even by the preparation.
“And he became” (he says) “heir of the righteousness which is by Faith”: that is, by his believing God he was shown to be righteous. For this is the [part] of a soul sincerely disposed towards Him and judging nothing more reliable than His words, just as Unbelief is the very contrary. Faith, it is manifest, works righteousness. For as we have been warned of God respecting Hell, so was he also: and yet at that time he was laughed at; he was reviled and ridiculed; but he regarded none of these things.
2302 [2.] (He 11,8-9) “By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” [“By faith”]: for (tell me) whom did he see to emulate?7 He had for father a Gentile, and an idolater; he had heard no prophets; he knew not whither he was going. For as they of the Hebrews who believed, looked to these [patriarchs] as having enjoyed blessings innumerable, he shows that none of them obtained anything as yet; all are unrewarded; no one as yet received his reward. “He ”escaped from his country and his home, and “went out not knowing whither he went.”
And what marvel, if he himself [were so], when his seed also dwelt in this same way? For seeing the promise disproved8 (since He had said, “To thee will I give this land, and to thy seed”— Gn 12,7 Gn 13,15), he saw his son dwelling there; and again his grandson saw himself dwelling in a land not his own; yet was he nowise troubled. For the affairs of Abraham happened as we might have expected, since the promise was to be accomplished afterwards in his family (although it is said even to himself, “To thee, and to thy seed,” not, “to thee through thy seed,” but “to thee and to thy seed”): still neither he, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, enjoyed the promise. For one of them served for hire, and the other was driven out: and he himself even was failing9 through fear: and while he took some things indeed in war, others, unless he had had the aid of God, would have been destroyed. On this account [the Apostle] says, “with the heirs of the same promise”; not himself alone, he means; but the heirs also.
2303 [3.] (He 11,13) “These all died in faith,” he says, “not having obtained 10 the promises.” At this place it is worth while to make two enquiries; how, after saying that [God] “translated Enoch, and he was not found, so that he did not see death,” does he say, “These all died in Faith.” And again, after saying, “they not having obtained the promises,” he declares that Noah had received a reward, “to the saving of his house,” and that Enoch had been “translated,” and that Abel “yet speaks,” and that Abraham had gained a hold on the land, and yet he says, “These all died in Faith, not having obtained the promises.” What then is [meant]?
It is necessary to solve the first [difficulty], and then the second. “These all” (he says) “died in faith.” The word “all” is used here not because all had died, but because with that one exception “all these had died,” whom we know to be dead.
And the [statement] “not having obtained the promises,” is true: for surely the promise to Noah was not to be this [which is here spoken of]. But further, of what kind of “promises” is he speaking? For Isaac and Jacob received the promises of the land; but as to Noah and Abel and Enoch, what kind of promises did they receive? Either then he is speaking concerning these three; or if concerning those others also, the promise was not this, that Abel should be admired, nor that Enoch should be translated, nor that Noah should be preserved; 11 but these things came to them for their virtue’s sake, and were a sort of foretaste of things to come. For God from the beginning, knowing that the human race needs much condescension, bestows on us not only the things in the world to come, but also those here; as for instance, Christ said even to the disciples, “Whosoever hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Mt 19,29). And again, “Seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6,33). Seest thou that these things are given by Him in the way of addition, that we might not faint? 12 For as the athletes have the benefit of careful attention, even when engaged in the combat, but do not then enjoy entire ease, living under rules, yet afterwards they enjoy it entire: so God also does not grant us here to partake of “entire” ease. For even here He does give [some].
2304 [4.] “But having seen them afar off,” he says, 13 “and embraced them.” Here he hints at something mystical: that they received beforehand all the things which have been spoken concerning things to come; concerning the resurrection, concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, concerning the other things, which Christ proclaimed when He came, for these are “the promises” of which he speaks. Either then he means this, or, that they did not indeed receive them, but died in confidence respecting them, and they were [thus] confident through Faith only.
“Having seen them afar off”: four generations before; for after so many [generations], they went up out of Egypt.
“And embraced them,” saith he, and were glad. They were so persuaded of them as even to “embrace [or “salute”] them,” from the metaphor of persons on ship-board seeing from afar the longed-for cities: which, before they enter them, they take and occupy by words of greeting.
(He 11,10) “For they looked” (he says) “for the 14 city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Seest thou that they received them in this sense, in their already accepting them and being confident respecting them. If then to be confident is to receive, it is in your power also to receive. For these, although they enjoyed not those [blessings], yet still saw them by their longing desire. Why now do these things happen? That we might be put to shame, in that they indeed, when things on earth were promised them, regarded them not, but sought the future “city”: whereas God again and again speaks to us of the city 15 which is above, and yet we seek that which is here. He said to them, I will give you the things of the present [world]. But when He saw, or rather, when they showed themselves worthy of greater things, then He no longer suffers them to receive these, but those greater ones; wishing to show us that they are worthy of greater things, being unwilling to be bound to these. As if one should promise playthings to an intelligent child, not that he might receive them, but by way of exhibiting his philosophy, when he asks for things more important. For this is to show, that they held off from the land with so great earnestness, that they did not even accept what was given. Wherefore their posterity receive it on this account, for themselves were worthy of the land.
What is, “the city which hath foundations”? For are not these [which are visible] “foundations”? In comparison of the other, they are not.
“Whose Builder and Maker is God.” O What an encomium on that city!
2305 [5.] (He 11,11) “By faith also Sarah herself,” he says. Here he began [speaking] in a way to put them to shame, in case, that is, they should show themselves more faint-hearted than a woman. But possibly some one might say, How “by faith,” when she laughed? Nay, while her laughter indeed was from unbelief, her fear [was] from Faith, for to say, “I laughed not” (Gn 18,15), arose from Faith. From this then it appears that when unbelief had been cleared out, Faith came in its place.
“By faith also Sarah received strength to conceive seed even when she was past age.” 16 What is, “to conceive seed”? 17 She who was become dead, who was barren, received power for the retaining of seed, for conception. For her imperfection was two-fold; first from her time of life for she was really old; secondly from nature, for she was barren.
(He 11,12) “Wherefore even from one they” all “sprang, as the stars of the sky, and as the sand which is by the sea-shore.” “Wherefore” (he says) “even from one they” all “sprang.” Here he not only says that she bare [a child], but that she also became mother of so many as not even fruitful wombs [are mothers of]. “As the stars,” He says. How then is it that He often numbers them, although He said, “As the stars of the heaven shall not be numbered, so neither shall your seed”? (Gn 15,5). He either means the excess, or else [speaks of] those who are continually being born. For is it possible, tell me, to number their forefathers of one family as, such an one son of such an one, and such an one son of such an one? But here such are the promises of God, so skillfully arranged are His undertakings.
2306 [6.] But if the things which He promised as additional, are so admirable, so beyond expectation, so magnificent, what will those be, to which these are an addition, to which these are somewhat over and above? What then can be more blessed than they who attain them? What more wretched than those who miss them? For if a man when driven out from his native country, is pitied by all; and when he has lost an inheritance is considered by all as an object of compassion, with what tears ought he to be bewailed, who fails of Heaven, and of the good things there stored up? Or rather, he is not even to be wept for: for one is wept for, when he suffers something of which he is not himself the cause; but when of his own choice he has entangled himself in evil, he is not worthy 18 of tears, but of wailings; 19 or rather then of mourning; 20 since even our Lord Jesus Christ mourned and wept for Jerusalem, impious as it was. Truly we are worthy of weepings innumerable, of wailings innumerable. If the whole world should receive a voice, both stones, and wood, and trees, and wild beasts, and birds, and fishes, and in a word, the whole world, if receiving a voice it should bewail us who have failed of those good things, it would not bewail and lament enough. For what language, what intellect, can represent that blessedness and virtue, that pleasure, that glory, that happiness, that splendor? “What eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, and what hath not entered into the heart of man” (1Co 2,9), (he did not say, that they simply surpass [what we imagine]; but none hath ever conceived) “the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” For of what kind are those good things likely to be, of which God is the Preparer and Establisher? For if immediately after He had made us, when we had not yet done anything, He freely bestowed so great [favors], Paradise, familiar intercourse with Himself, promised us immortality, a life happy and freed from cares; what will He not bestow on those who have labored and struggled so greatly, and endured on His behalf? For us He spared not His Only Begotten, for us when we were enemies He gave up His own Son to death; of what will He not count us worthy, having become His friends? what will He not impart to us, having reconciled us to Himself?
2307 [7.] He both is abundantly and infinitely rich; and He desires and earnestly endeavors to obtain our friendship; we do not thus earnestly endeavor. What am I saying, ’do not earnestly endeavor’? We do not wish to obtain the good things as He wishes it. And what He has done shows that He wishes it more [than we]. For while, for our own sake, we with difficulty think lightly of a little gold: He, for our sake, gave even the Son who was His own. Let us make use of the love of God as we ought; let us reap the fruits of His friendship. For “ye are My friends” (he says) “if ye do what I say to you.” (Jn 15,14). How wonderful! His enemies, who were at an infinite distance from Him, whom in all respects He excels by an incomparable superiority, these He has made His friends and calls them friends. What then should not one choose to suffer for the sake of this friendship? For the friendship of men we often incur danger, but for that of God, we do not even give up money. Our [condition] does indeed call for mourning, for mourning and tears and wailings, and loud lamentation and beating of the breast. We have fallen from our hope, we are humbled from our high estate, we have shown ourselves unworthy of the honor of God even after His benefits we are become unfeeling, and ungrateful. The devil has stripped us of all our good things. We who were counted worthy to be sons; we His brethren and fellow-heirs are come to differ nothing from His enemies that insult Him.
Henceforward, what consolation shall there be for us? He called us to Heaven, and we have thrust ourselves down to hell. “Swearing and lying and stealing and adultery, are poured out upon the earth.” (Os 4,2). Some “mingle blood upon blood”; and others do deeds worse than blood-shedding. Many of those that are wronged, many of those that are defrauded prefer ten thousand deaths to the suffering such things: and except they had feared God, would even have killed themselves, being so murderously disposed against themselves. Are not these things then worse than blood-shedding?
2308 [8.] “Woe is me, my soul! For the godly man is perished from the earth, and there is none upright among men” (Mi 7,1-2 LXX).; let us also now cry out, first about our own selves but aid me in my lamentation.
Perhaps some are even disgusted and laugh. For this very cause ought we to make our lamentations the more intense, because we are so mad and beside ourselves, that we do not know that we are mad, but laugh at things for which we ought to groan. O man! “There is wrath revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rm 1,18); “God will come manifestly: a fire will burn before Him, and round about Him will be a mighty tempest.” (Ps 50,3). “A fire will burn before Him, and consume His enemies on every side.” (Ps 97,3). “The day of the Lord is as a burning oven.” (Ml 4,1). And no man lays up these things in his mind, but these tremendous and fearful doctrines are more despised than fables, and are trodden under foot. He that heareth,—there is no one: while they who laugh and make sport are—all. What resource will there be for us? Whence shall we find safety? “We are undone, we are utterly consumed” (Nb 17,12), we are become the laughingstock of our enemies, and a mockery for the heathen and the Demons. Now is the devil greatly elated; he glories and is glad. The angels to whom we had been entrusted are all ashamed and in sadness: there is no man to convert [you]: all means have been used by us in vain, and we seem to you as idle talkers. It is seasonable even now to call on the heaven, because there is no man that heareth; to take to witness the elements: “Hear, O heaven! and give ear, O earth! for the Lord hath spoken.” (Is 1,2).
Give a hand, stretch it forth, O ye who have not yet been overwhelmed, to them who are undone through their drunkenness: ye that are whole to them that are sick, ye that are sober-minded to them that are mad, that are giddily whirling round.
Let no man, I beseech you, prefer the favor of his friend to his salvation; and let violence and rebuke look to one thing only,—his benefit. When one has been seized by a fever, even slaves lay hold of their Masters. For when that is pressing on him, throwing his mind into confusion, and a swarm of slaves are standing by, they recognize not the law of Master and Servant, in the calamity of the Master.
Let us collect ourselves, I exhort you: there are daily wars, submersions [of towns], destructions innumerable all around us, and on every side the wrath of God is enclosing us as in a net. And we, as though we were well-pleasing to Him, are in security. We all make our hands ready for unjust gains, none for helping others: alI for plundering, none for protecting: each one is in earnest as to how he shall increase his possessions; no one as to how he shall aid the needy: each one has much anxiety how he may add to his wealth; no one how he may save his own soul. One fear possesses all, lest (you say) we should become poor; no man is in anguish and trembling lest we should fall into hell. These things call for lamentations, these call for accusation, these call for reprobation.
2309 [9.] But I do not wish to speak of these things, but I am constrained by my grief. Forgive me: I am forced by sorrow to utter many things, even those which I do not wish. I see that our wound is grievous, that our calamity is beyond comfort, that woes have overtaken us greater than the consolation. We are undone. “O that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears” (Jr 9,1), that I might lament. Let us weep, beloved, let us weep, let us groan.
Possibly there may be some here who say, He talks to us of nothing but lamentation, nothing but tears. It was not my wish, believe me, it was not my wish, but rather to go through a course of commendations and praises: but now it is not the season for these. Beloved, it is not lamenting which is grievous, but the doing things which call for lamentations. Sorrow is not the: thing to shrink from, but the committing things that call for sorrow. Do not thou be punished, and I will not mourn. Do not die, and I will not weep. If the body indeed lies dead, thou callest on all to grieve with thee, and thinkest those without sympathy who do not mourn: And when the soul is perishing, dost thou tell us not to mourn?
But I cannot be a father, if I do not weep. I am a father full of affection. Hear how Paul exclaims, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again” (Ga 4,19): what mother in child-birth utters cries so bitter as he! Would that it were possible for thee to see the very fire that is in my heart, and thou wouldest know, that I burn [with grief] more intense than any woman, or gift that suffers untimely widowhood. She does not so mourn over her husband, nor any father over his son, as I do over this multitude that is here with us.
I see no progress. Everything turns to calumnies and accusations. No man makes it his business to please God; but (he says) ‘let us speak evil of such an one or such an one.’ ‘Such an one is unfit to be among the Clergy.’ ‘Such an one does not lead a respectable life.’ When we ought to be grieving for our own evils, we judge others, whereas we ought not to do this, even when we are pure from sins. “For who maketh thee to differ” (he says) “and what hast thou which thou didst not receive? But if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as though thou hadst not received it?” (1Co 4,7). “And thou, why dost thou judge thy brother” (Rm 14,10), being thyself full of innumerable evils? When thou sayest, Such an one is a bad man, and a spendthrift, and vicious, think of thyself, and examine strictly thy own [condition], and thou wilt repent of what thou hast said. For there is no, no not any, such powerful stimulus to virtue, as the recollecting of our sins.
If we turn over these two things in our minds, we shall be enabled to attain the promised blessings, we shall be enabled to cleanse ourselves and wipe away [what is amiss]. Only let us take serious thought sometime; let us be anxious about the matter, beloved. Let us grieve here in reflection, that we may not grieve yonder in punishment, but may enjoy the everlasting blessings, where “pain and sorrow and sighing are fled away” (Is 35,10), that we may attain to the good things which surpass man’s understanding, in Christ Jesus our Lord, for to Him is glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
4 h\n kecrhmatismevnon.
6 cra`/. This word is properly used of quasi-Divine communications made through oracles: the words crhmativzw and crhmatismo;" have the same meaning. Hence the emphatic character of the words “of God” in our version of the text, Rm 11,4; and so in the other passage which St. Chrys. cites Lc 2,26), the Divinity of the Holy Spirit (he says) is implied in the use of the word h\n kecrhmatismevnon uJpo; (not dia;) tou` Pneuvmato", “a divine communication was made by the Spirit.”
7 “To endeavor to imitate, or even surpass.”
9 ejxevpipte: i.e). th`" uJposcevsew", “of the promise,” is Mr. Field’s interpretation; Mutianus has poene exciderat.
10 komisavmenoi. This word is used by St. Chrys. throughout this passage without any variation of reading. The text of the Epistle here has labovnte", but in ver. 39, oujk ejkomivsanto). [St. Chrys. in another work has the reading labovnte", but komisavmenoi is generally adopted by the critical editors as the true text in the Epistle.—F. G.]
11 We must probably understand also, “nor that the Patriarchs should live in Canaan”: the argument seems to require this; besides, in the statement of the difficulty, Abraham’s having “got a hold on the land” is mentioned together with the blessings bestowed on Abel, Enoch, and Noah, as something already given them.
12 See above, p. 408.
13 St. Chrys. does not cite nor yet refer to the words kai; peisqevnte", “and were persuaded of them.” They are found in the common editions of the Epistle, but are not supposed to be a genuine part of the Sacred Text). [They are rejected by all critical editors, and have very little support from the authorities for this text.—F. G.]
14 th;n povlin.
16 kai; para; kairo;n hJlikiva:. The common texts of St. Chrys. add here e[teken, in accordance with the common editions of the New Testament; but in neither case is it supposed to be genuine). [Field’s text omits it, and it is not in critical editions of the text of Heb.—F. G.]
17 eiJ" katabolh;n spermato".
2400 He 11,13-17
1 not having received the promises, hut having seen them afar off,2 and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a county. And Italy if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed3 to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city.”
[1.] The first virtue, yea the whole of virtue, is to be a stranger to this world, and a sojourner, and to have nothing in common with things here, but to hang loose from them, as from firings strange to us; As those blessed disciples did, of whom he says, “They wandered about in sheepskins, and in goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented:4 of whom the world was not worthy.” (c. 11,37, 11,38).
They called themselves therefore “strangers”; but Paul said somewhat much beyond this: for not merely did he call himself a stranger, but said that he was dead to the world, and that the world was dead to him. “For the world” (he says) “has been crucified to me and I to the world.” (Ga 6,14). But we, both citizens5 and quite alive, busy ourselves about everything here as citizens. And what righteous men were to the world, “strangers” and “dead,” that we are to Heaven. And what they were to Heaven, alive and acting as citizens, that we are to the world. Wherefore we are dead, because we have refused that which is truly life, and have chosen this which is but for a time. Wherefore we have provoked God to wrath, because when the enjoyments of Heaven have been set before us, we are not willing to be separated from things on earth, but, like worms, we turn about from the earth to the earth, and again from this to that;6 and in short are not willing to look up even for a little while, nor to withdraw ourselves from human affairs, but as if drowned in torpor and sleep and drunkenness, we are stupefied with imaginations.
2402 [2.] And as those who are under the power of sweet sleep lie on their bed not only during the night, but even when the morning has over-taken them, and bright day has come, and are not ashamed to indulge in pleasure, and to make the season of business and activity a time of slumber and indolence, so truly we also, when the day is drawing near, when the night is far spent, or rather the day; for “work” (it is said) “while it is day” (Jn 9,4); when it is day we practice all that belongs to the night, sleeping, dreaming, indulging in luxurious fancies; and the eyes of our understanding are closed as well as those of our body; we speak amiss, we talk absurdly; even if a person inflict a deep wound upon us, if he carry off all our substance, if he set the very house on fire, we are not so much as conscious of it.
Or rather, we do not even wait for others to do this, but we do it ourselves, piercing and wounding ourselves every day, lying in unseemly fashion, and stripped bare of all credit, all honor, neither ourselves concealing our shameful deeds, nor permitting others to do so, but lying exposed to public shame, to the ridicule, the numberless jests of spectators and passers-by.
2403 [3.] Do ye not suppose that the wicked themselves laugh at those who are of like characters to themselves, and condemn them? For since God has placed within us a tribunal which cannot be bribed nor ever utterly destroyed, even though we come to the very lowest depth of vice; therefore even the wicked themselves give sentence against themselves, and if one call them that which they are, they are ashamed, they are angry, they say that it is an insult. Thus they condemn what they do, even if not by their deeds, yet by their words, by their conscience, nay rather even by their deeds. For when they carry on their practices out of sight and secretly, they give the strongest proof of the opinion they hold concerning the thing itself. For wickedness is so manifest, that all men are its accusers, even those who follow after it, while such is the quality of virtue, that it is admired even by those who do not emulate it. For even the fornicator will praise chastity, and the covetous will condemn injustice, and the passionate will admire patience, and blame quarrelsomeness, and the wanton [will blame] wantonness.
How then (you say) does he pursue these things? From excessive indolence, not because he judges it good; otherwise he would not have been ashamed of the thing itself, nor would he have denied it when another accused him. Nay many when caught, not enduring the shame, have even hanged themselves. So strong is the witness within us in behalf of what is good and becoming. Thus what is good is brighter than the sun, and the contrary more unsightly than anything.
2404 [4.] The saints were “strangers and sojourners.” How and in what way? And where does Abraham confess himself “a stranger and a sojourner”? Probably indeed he even himself confessed it:7 but David both confessed “I am a stranger” and what? “As all my fathers were.” (Ps 39,12). For they who dwell in tents, they who purchase even burial places for money, evidently were in some sense strangers, as they had not even where to bury their dead.
What then? Did they mean that they were “strangers” from the land that is in Palestine? By no means: but in respect of the whole world: and with reason; for they saw therein none of the things which they wished for, but everything foreign and strange. They indeed wished to practice virtue: but here there was much wickedness, and things were quite foreign to them. They had no friend, no familiar acquaintance, save only some few.
But how were they “strangers”? They had no care for things here. And this they showed not by words, but by their deeds. In what way?
(He said to Abraham, “Leave that which seems thy country and come to one that is foreign”: And he did not cleave to his kindred, but gave it up as unconcernedly as if he were about to leave a foreign land. He said to him, “Offer up thy son,” and he offered him up as if he had no son; as if he had divested himself of his nature, so he offered him up. The wealth which he had acquired was common to all passers-by, and this he accounted as nothing. He yielded the first places to others: he threw himself into dangers; he suffered troubles innumerable. He built no splendid houses, he enjoyed no luxuries, he had no care about dress, which all are things of this world; but lived in all respects as belonging to the City yonder; he showed hospitality, brotherly love, mercifulness, forbearance, contempt for wealth and for present glory, and for all else.
And his son too was such as himself: when he was driven away, when war was made on him, he yielded and gave way, as being in a foreign land. For foreigners, whatever they suffer, endure it, as not being in their own country. Even when his wife was taken from him, he endured this also as being in a strange land: and lived in all respects as one whose home was above, showing sobermindedness and a well-ordered life.8 For after he had begotten a son, he had no more commerce with his wife, and it was when the flower of his youth had passed that he married her, showing that he did it not from passion, but in subservience to the promise of God.
And what did Jacob? Did he not seek bread only and raiment, which are asked for by those who are truly strangers; by those that have come to great poverty? When he was driven out, did he not as a stranger give place? Did he not serve for hire? Did he not suffer afflictions innumerable, everywhere, as a stranger?
2405 [5.] And these things (he says) they said, “seeking” their “own country.” Ah! how great is the difference! They indeed were in travail-pains each day, wishing to be released from this world, and to return to their country. But we, on the contrary, if a fever attack us neglecting everything, weeping like little children, are frightened at death.
Not without reason we are thus affected. For since we do not live here like strangers, nor as if hastening to our country, but are like persons that are going away to punishment, therefore we grieve, because we have not used circumstances as we ought, but have turned order upside down. Hence we grieve when we ought to rejoice: hence we shudder, like murderers or robber chiefs, when they are going to be brought before the judgment-seat, and are thinking over all the things they have done, and therefore are fearful and trembling.
They, however, were not such, but pressed on. And Paul even groaned; “And we” (he says) “that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.” (2Co 5,4). Such were they who were with Abraham; “strangers,” he says, they were in respect of the whole world, and “they sought a country.”
What sort of “country” was this? Was it that which they had left? By no means. For what hindered them if they wished, from returning again, and becoming citizens? but they sought that which is in Heaven? Thus they desired their departure hence, and so they pleased God; for “God was not ashamed to be called their God.”
2406 [6.] Ah! how great a dignity! He vouch-safed “to be called their God.” What dost thou say? He is called the God of the earth, and the God of Heaven, and hast thou set it down as a great thing that “He is not ashamed to be called their God”? Great and truly great this is, and a proof of exceeding blessedness. How? Because He is called God of earth and of heaven as also of the Gentiles: in that He created and formed them: but [God] of those holy men, not in this sense, but as some true friend.
And I will make it plain to you by an example; as in the case of [slaves] in large households, when any of those placed over the household are very highly esteemed, and manage everything themselves, and can use great freedom towards their masters, the Master is called after them, and one may find many so called. But what do I say? As we might say the God, not of the Gentiles but of the world, so we might say “the God of Abraham.” But you do not know how great a dignity this is, because we do not attain to it. For as now He is called the Lord of all Christians, and yet the name goes beyond our deserts: consider the greatness if He were called the God of one [person]! He who is called the God of the whole world is “not ashamed to be called” the God of three men: and with good reason: for the saints would turn the scale, I do not say against the world9 but against ten thousand such. “For one man who doeth the will of the Lord, 10 is better than ten thousand transgressors.” (Si 16,3).
Now that they called themselves “strangers” in this sense is manifest. But supposing that they said they were “strangers” on account of the strange land, why did David also [call himself a stranger]? Was not he a king? Was not he a prophet? Did he not spend his life in his own country? Why then does he say, “I am a stranger and a sojourner”? (Ps 39,12). How art thou a stranger? “As” (he says) “all my fathers were.” Seest thou that they too were strangers? We have a country, he means, but not really our country. But how art thou thyself a stranger? As to the earth. Therefore they also [were strangers] in respect of the earth: For “as they were,” he says, so also am I; and as he, so they too.
2407 [7.] Let us even now become strangers; that God may “not be ashamed of us to be called. our God.” For it is a shame to Him, when He is called the God of the wicked, and He also is ashamed of them; as He is glorified when He is [called the God] of the good and the kind, and of them that cultivate virtue. For if “we” decline to be called the masters of our wicked slaves, and give them up; and should any one come to us and say, ‘such a one does innumerable bad things, he is your slave, is he not?’ We immediately say,“by no means,” to get rid of the disgrace: for a slave has a close relation to his master, and the discredit passes from the One to the other. 11 — But they were so illustrious, so full of confidence, that not only was He “not ashamed to be called” from them, but He even Himself says, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Ex 3,6).
Let us also, my beloved, become “strangers”; that God may “not be ashamed of us” that He may not be ashamed, and deliver us up to Hell. Such were they who said, “Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name have done many wonderful works!” (Mt 7,22). But see what Christ says to them: “I know you not:” the very thing which masters would do, when wicked slaves run to them, wishing to be rid of the disgrace. “I know you not,” He says. How then dost Thou punish those whom Thou knowest not? I said, “I know not,” in a different sense: that is, “I deny you, and renounce you.” But God forbid that we should hear this fatal and terrible utterance. For if they who east out demons and prophesied, were denied, because their life was not suitable thereto; how much more we!
2408 [8.] And how (you ask) is it possible that they should be denied, who have shown prophetic powers, and wrought miracles, and cast out demons? Is it probable they were afterwards changed, and became wicked; and therefore were nothing benefited, even by their former virtue. For not only ought we to have our beginnings splendid, but the end also more splendid still.
For tell me, does not the Orator take pains to make the end of his speech splendid, that he may retire with applause? Does not the public officer make the most splendid display at the close of his administration? The wrestler, if he do not make a more splendid display and conquer unto the end, and if after vanquishing all he be vanquished by the last, is not all unprofitable to him? Should the pilot have crossed the whole ocean, yet if he wreck his vessel at the port, has he not lost all his former labor? And what [of] the Physician? If, after he has freed the sick man from his disease, when he is on the point of discharging him cured, he should then destroy him, has he not destroyed everything? So too in respect of Virtue, as many as have not added an end suitable to the beginning, and in unison and harmony with it, are ruined, and undone. Such are they who have sprung forth from the starting place bright andexulting, and afterwards have become faint and feeble. Therefore they are both deprived of the prize, and are not acknowledged by their master.
Let us listen to these things, those of us who are in love of wealth: for this is the greatest iniquity. “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1Tm 6,10). Let us listen, those of us who wish to make our present possessions greater, let us listen and sometime cease from our covetousness, that we may not hear the same things as they [will hear]. Let us listen to them now, and be on our guard, that we may not hear them then. Let us listen now with fear, that we may not then listen with vengeance: “Depart from Me” (He says); “I never knew you” (Mt 7,23), no not even then (He means) when ye made a display of prophesyings, and were casting out demons.
It is probable that He also here hints at something else, that even then they were wicked; and from the beginning, grace wrought even by the unworthy. For if it wrought through Balaam, much more through the unworthy, for the sake of those who shall profit [by it].
But if even signs and wonders did not avail to deliver from punishment; much more, if a man happen to be in the priestly dignity : 12 even if he reach the highest honor, even if grace Work in him to ordination, even if unto all the other things, for the sake of those who need his leadership, 13 he also shall hear, “I never knew thee,” no, not even then when grace wrought in thee.
2409 [9.] O! how strict shall the search be there as to purity of life! How does that, of itself, suffice to introduce us into the kingdom? While the absence of it gives up the man [to destruction], though he have ten thousand miracles and signs to show. For nothing is so pleasing to God as an excellent course of life. “If ye love Me” (Jn 14,15), He declares; He did not say, “work miracles,” but what? “Keep My commandments.” And again, “I call you friends” (Jn 15,14), not when ye cast out demons, but “if ye keep My words.” For those things come of the gift of God: but these after the gift of God, of our own diligence also. Let us strive to become friends of God, and not remain enemies to Him.
These things we are ever saying, these exhortations we are ever giving, both to ourselves and to yon: but nothing more is gained. Wherefore also I am afraid. And I would have wished indeed to be silent, so as not to increase your danger. For when a person often hears, and even so does not act, this is to provoke the Lord to anger. But I fear also myself that other danger, that of silence, if when I am appointed to the ministering of the word, I should hold my peace.
What shall we then do that we may be saved? Let us begin [the practice of] virtue, as we have opportunity: let us portion out the virtues to ourselves, as laborers do their husbandry; in this month let us master evil-speaking, injuriousness, unjust anger; and let us lay down a law for ourselves, and say, To-day let us set this right. Again, in this month let us school ourselves in forbearance, and in another, in some other virtue: And when we have got into the habit of this virtue let us go to another, just as in the things we learn at school, guarding what is already gained, and acquiring others.
After this let us proceed to contempt for riches. First let us restrain our hands from grasping, and then let us give alms. Let us not simply confound everything, with the same hands both slaying and showing mercy forsooth. After this, let us go to some other virtue, and from that, to another. “Filthiness and foolish talking and jesting, let it not be even named among you.” (Ep 5,3-4). Let us be thus far in the right way.
There is no need of spending money, there is no need of labor, none of sweat, it is enough to have only the will, and all is done. There is no need to travel a long way, nor to cross a boundless ocean, but to be in earnest and of ready mind, and to put a bridle on the tongue. Unseasonable reproaches, anger, disorderly lusts, luxuriousness, expensiveness, let us cast off; and the desire of wealth also from our soul, perjury and habitual oaths.
If we thus cultivate ourselves, plucking out the former thorns, and casting in the heavenly seed, we shall be able to attain the good things promised. For the Husbandman will come and will lay us up in His Garner, and we shall attain to all good things, which may we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
1 kata; pivstin.
2 [The words of the A. V). “and were persuaded of them,” kai; peisqevnte", are not in St. Chrysostom’s text or in that of any critical edition. In the R. V. they are omitted.—F. G.]
3 lit). “ashamed of them, to be,” &c.
6 from this piece of earth to that.
7 See Gn 23,4.
8 swfrosuvnhn kosmiovthta.
9 See on ver. 36, pp. 488 sqq.
10 Mr. Field observes that St. Chrys. repeatedly cites Si 16,3, thus; and that while the Greek is simply, “or one is better than a thousand,” the Syriac seems to have read o(ti kreivsswn eiJ" poiw`n qevlhma, &c. So the English version has “for one that is just.”
11 1 The sentence is left incomplete: The common editions add, “much more does God.”
12 2 ajxiwvmati iJeratikw`/.
13 3 th`" prostasiva").
Chrysostom He 2300