Chrysostom on 1Cor 1000
1000 If any man (en umin omitted). thinketh that he is wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (1Co 3,18-22)
1001 AS I said before, having launched out before the proper time into accusation of the fornicator, and having half opened it obscurely in a few words, and made the man’s conscience to quail, he hastens again to the battle with heathen wisdom, and to his accusations of those who were puffed up there-with, and who were dividing the Church: in order that having added what remained and completed the whole topic with accuracy, he might thenceforth suffer his tongue to be carried away with vehement impulse against the unclean person, having had but a preliminary skirmishing with him in what he had said before. For this, “Let no man deceive himself,” is the expression of one aiming chiefly at him and quelling him beforehand by fear: and the saying about the “stubble,” suits best with one hinting at him. And so does the phrase, “Know ye not that ye are theTemple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” For these two things are most aptto withdraw us from sin; when we have in mind the punishment appointed for the sin; and when we reckon up the amount of our true dignity. By bringing forward then “the hay” and “the stubble, “he terrifies; but by speaking of the dignity of that noble birth which was theirs, he puts them to shame; by the former striving to amend the more insensible kind, by the latter the more considerate.
[2.] “Let no man deceive himself; if any man thinketh that he is wise in this world, let him become a fool.”
As he bids one become, as it were, dead unto the world;—and this deadness harms not at all, but rather profits, being made a cause of life:—so also he bids him become foolish unto this world, introducing to us hereby the true wisdom. Now he becomes a fool unto the world, who slights the wisdom from without, and is persuaded that it contributes nothing towards his comprehension of the faith. As then that poverty which is according to God is the cause of wealth, and lowliness, of exaltation, and to despise glory is the cause of glory; so also the becoming a fool maketh a man wiser than all. For all, with us, goes by contraries.
Further: why said he not, “Let him put off wisdom,” but, “Let him become a fool?” That he might most exceedingly disparage the heathen instruction. For it was not the same thing to say, “Lay aside thy wisdom,” and, “become a fool.” And besides, he is also training people not to be ashamed at the want of refinement among us; for he quite laughs to scorn all heathen things. And for the same sort of reason he shrinks not from the names, trusting as he does to the power of the things [which he speaks of].
Wherefore, as the Cross, though counted ignominious, became the author of innumerable blessings, and the foundation and root of glory unspeakable; so also that which was accounted to be foolishness became unto us the cause of wisdom. For as he who hath learned anything ill, unless he put away the whole, and make his soul level and clear, and so offer it to him who is to write on it, will know no wholesome truth for certain; so also in regard of the wisdom from without. Unless thou turn out the whole and sweep thy mind clear, and like one that is ignorant yield up thyself unto the faith, thou wilt know accurately nothing excellent. For so those also who see imperfectly if they will not shut their eyes and commit themselves unto others, but will be trusting their own matters to their own faulty eyesight, they will commit many more mistakes than those who see not.
But how, you will say, are men to put off this wisdom? By not acting on its precepts.
[3.] Then, seeing that he bade men so urgently withdraw themselves from it, he adds the cause, saying, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” For not only it contributes nothing, but it even hinders. We must then withdraw ourselves from it, as doing harm. Dost thou mark with what a high hand he carries off the spoils of victory, having proved that so far from profiting us at all, it is even an opponent?
And he is not content with his own arguments, but he has also adduced testimony again, saying, “For it is written, (Jb 5,13) He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” By “craftiness,” 1,e. by their own arms getting the better of them. For seeing that they made use of their wisdom to the doing away of all need of God, by it and no other thing He refuted them, shewing that they were specially in need of God. How and by what method? Because having by it become fools, by it, as was meet, they were taken. For they who supposed that they needed not God, were reduced to so great a strait as to appear inferior to fishermen and unlettered persons; and from that time forth to be unable to do without them. Wherefore he saith, “In their own craftiness” He took them. For the saying “I will destroy their wisdom,” was spoken in regard to its introducing nothing useful; but this, “who taketh the wise in their own craftiness, with a view of shewing the power of God.”
1002 Next, he declares also the mode in which God took them, adding another testimony:
1Co 3,20. “For the Lord,” saith he, “knoweth the reasonings of men (Ps 94,11 anqrwpwn Sept). that they are vain.” Now when the Wisdom which is boundless pronounces this edict concerning them, and declares them to be such, what other proof dost thou seek of their extreme folly? Formen’s judgments, it is true, in many instances fail; but the decree of God is unexceptionable and uncorrupt in every case.
[4.] Thus having set up so splendid a trophy of the judgment from on high, he employs in what follows a certain vehemence of style, turning it against those who were under his ministry, (arkomenou") and speaking thus:
1Co 3,21. “Wherefore let no man glory in men; for all things are yours.” He comes again to the former topic, pointing out that not even for their spiritual things ought they to be highminded, as having nothing of themselves. “Since then the wisdom from without is hurtful, and the spiritual gifts were not given by you, what hast thou wherein to boast?” And in regard to the wisdom from without, “Let no man deceive himself,” saith he, because they were conceited about a thing which in truth did more harm than good. But here, inasmuch as the thing spoken of was really advantageous, “Let no man glory.” And he orders his speech more gently: “for all things are yours.”
1Co 3,22. “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” For because he had handled them sharply, he refreshes them again. And as above he had said, (1Co 3,9) “We are fellow-workers with God;” and by many other expressions had soothed them: so here too he saith, “All things are yours; taking down the pride of the teachers, and signifying that so far from bestowing any favor on them, they themselves ought to be grateful to the others. Since for their sake they were made such as they were, yea, moreover, had received grace. But seeing that these also were sure to boast, on this account he cuts out beforehand this disease too, saying, “As God gave to every man,” (Supr. 6,5. 6). and, “God gave the increase:” to the end that neither the one party might be puffed up as bestowers of good; nor the others, on their hearing a second time, “All things are yours,” be again elated. “For, indeed, though it were for your sakes, yet the whole was God’s doing.” And I wish you to observe how he hath kept on throughout, making suppositions in his own name and that of Peter.
But what is, “or death?” That even though they die, for your sakes they die, encountering dangers for your salvation. Dost thou mark how he again takes down the high spirit of the disciples, and raises the spirit of the teachers? In fact, he talks with them as with children of high birth, who have preceptors, and who are to be heirs of all.
We may say also, in another sense, that both the death of Adam was for our sakes, that we might be corrected; and the death of Christ, that we might be saved.
“And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” In one sense “we are Christ’s, and in another sense “Christ is God’s,” and in a third sense is “the world ours.” For we indeed are Christ’s, as his work: “Christ is God’s, as a genuine Offspring, not as a work: in which sense neither is the world ours. So that though the saying is the same, yet the meaning is different. For “the world is ours,” as being a thing made for our sakes: but “Christ is God’s,” as having Him the Author of his being, in that He is Father. And “we are Christ’s,” as having been formed by Him. Now “if they are yours,” saith he, “why have ye done what is just contrary to this, in calling yourselves after their name, and not after Christ, and God?”
[5.] 1Co 4,1. “Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” After he had cast down their spirit, mark how again he refreshes it, saying, “as ministers of Christ.” Do not thou then, letting go the Master, receive a name from the servants and ministers. “Stewards;” saith he, indicating that we ought not to give these things unto all, but unto whom it is due, and to whom it is fitting we should minister.
1Co 4,2. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful:” that is, that he do not appropriate to himself his master’s goods, that he do not as a master lay claim for himself but administer as a steward. For a steward’s part is to administer well the things committed to his charge: not to say that his master’s things are his own; but, on the contrary, that his own are his master’s. Let every one think on these things, both he that hath power in speech and he that possesses wealth, namely, that he hath been entrusted with a master’s goods and that they are not his own; let him not keep them with himself, nor set them down to his own account; but let him impute them unto God who gave them all. Wouldest thou see faithful stewards? Hear what saith Peter, “Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man to walk?” (Ac 3,12) Unto Cornelius also he saith, “We also are men of like passions with you:” and unto Christ Himself, “Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee.” (St. Mt 19,27) And Paul, no less, when he had said, “I labored more abundantly than they all,” (1Co 15,10) added, “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Elsewhere also, setting himself strongly against the same persons, he said, “For what hast thou which thou didst not receive?” (C. iv. 7). “For thou hast nothing of thine own, neither wealth, nor speech, nor life itself; for this also is surely the Lord’s. Wherefore, when necessity calls, do thou lay down this also. But if thou dostest on life, and being ordered to lay it down refusest, thou art no longer a faithful steward.”
“And how is it possible, when God calls, to resist?” Well, that is just what I say too: and on this account do I chiefly admire the loving-kindness of God, that the things which He is able, even against thy will, to take from thee, these He willeth not to be paid in (eisenekqhnai) by thee unwillingly, that thou mayest have a reward besides. For instance, He can take away life without thy consent; but His will is to do so with thy consent, that thou mayest say with Paul, “I die daily,” (1Co 15,31) He can take away thy glory without thy consent, and bring thee low: but He will have it from thee with thine own goodwill, that thou mayest have a recompense. He can make thee poor, though unwilling, but He will have thee willingly become such, that He may weave crowns for thee. Seest thou God’s mercy to man? Seest thou our own brutish stupidity?
1003 What if thou art come to great dignity, and hast at any time obtained some office of Church government? Be not high-minded. Thou hast not acquired the glory, but God hath put it on thee. As if it were another’s, therefore, use it sparingly; neither abusing it nor using it upon unsuitable things, nor puffed up, nor appropriating it unto thyself; but esteem thyself to be poor and inglorious. For never,—hadst thou been entrusted with a king’s purple to keep,—never would it have become thee to abuse the robe and spoil it, but with the more exactness to keep it for the giver. Is utterance given thee? Be not puffed up; be not arrogant; for the gracious gift is not thine. Be not grudging about thy Master’s good, but distribute them among thy fellow-servants; and neither be thou elated with these things as if they were thine own, nor be sparing as to the distribution of them. Again, if thou hast children, they are God’s which thou hast. If such be thy thought, thou wilt both be thankful for having them, and if bereft thou wilt not take it hard. Such was Jb when he said, (Jb 1,21) “The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away.”
For we have all things from Christ. Both existence itself we have through Him, and life, and breath, and light, and air, and earth. And if He were to exclude us from any one of these, we are lost and undone. For (1 S. Pet. 2,xx). “we are sojourners and pilgrims” And all this about “mine,” and “thine,” is bare words only, and doth not stand for things. For if thou do but say the house is thine, it is a word without a reality: since the very air, earth, matter, are the Creator’s; and so art thou too thyself, who hast framed it; and all other things also. But supposing the use to be thine, even this is uncertain, not on account of death alone, but also before death, because of the instability of things.
[6.] These things then continually picturing to ourselves, let us lead strict lives; and we shall gain two of the greatest advantages. For first, we shall be thankful both when we have and when we are bereaved; and we shall not be enslaved to things which are fleeting by, and things not our own. For whether it be wealth that He taketh, He hath taken but His own; or honor, or glory, or the body, or the life itself: be it that He taketh away thy son, it is not thy son that He hath taken, but His own servant. For thou formedst him not, but He made him. Thou didst but minister to his appearing; the whole was God’s own work. Let us give thanks therefore that we have been counted worthy to be His ministers in this matter. But what? Wouldest thou have had him for ever? This again proves thee grudging, and ignorant that it was another’s child which thou hadst, and not thine own. As therefore those who part resignedly are but aware that they have what was not theirs; so whoever gives way to grief is in fact counting the King’s property his own. For, if we are not our own, how can they be ours? I say, we: for in two ways we are His, both on account of our creation, and also on account of the faith. Wherefore David saith, “My substance is with Thee:” (Ps 39,7 upostasi" Sept. “hope” rec. vers. of. ver. 6; Ps 139,14) and Paul too, “For in Him we live and move and have our being:” (Ac 17,28) and plying the argument about the faith, he says, (1Co 6,19-20) “Ye are not your own,” and “ye were bought with a price.” For all things are God’s. When then He calls and chooses to take, let us not, like grudging servants, fly from the reckoning, nor purloin our Master’s goods. Thy soul is not thine; and how can thy wealth be thine? How is it then that thou spendest on what is unnecessary the things which are not thine? Knowest thou not that for this we are soon to be put on our trial, that is, if we have used them badly? But seeing that they are not our’s but our Master’s, it were right to expend them upon our fellow-servants. It is worth considering that the omission of this was the charge brought against that rich man: and against those also who had not given food to the Lord. (St. Lc 16,21. St. Mt 25,42)
[7.] Say not then, “I am but spending mine own, and of mine own I live delicately.” It is not of thine own, but of other men’s. Other men’s, I say, because such is thine own choice: for God’s will is that those things should be thine, which have been entrusted unto thee on behalf of thy brethren. Now the things which are not thine own become thine, if thou spend them upon others: but if thou spend on thyself unsparingly, thine own things become no longer thine. For since thou usest them cruelly, and sayest, “That my own things should be altogether spent on my own enjoyment is fair:” therefore I call them not thine own. For they are common to thee and thy fellow-servants; just as the sun is common, the air, the earth, and all the rest. For as in the case of the body, each ministration belongs both to the whole body and to each several member; but when it is applied to one single member only, it destroys the proper function of that very member: so also it comes to pass in the case of wealth. And that what I say may be made plainer; the food of the body which is given in common to the members, should it pass into one member, even to that it turns out alien in the end. For when it cannot be digested nor afford nourishment, even to that part, I say, it turns out alien. But if it be made common, both that part and all the rest have it as their own.
1004 (So also in regard of wealth. If you enjoy it alone, you too have lost it: for you will not reap its reward. But if you possess it jointly with the rest, then will it be more your own, and then will you reap the benefit of it. Seest thou not that the hands minister, and the mouth softens, and the stomach receives? Doth the stomach say, Since I have received, I ought to keep it all? Then do not thou I pray, in regard to riches, use this language. For it belongs to the receiver to impart. As then it is a vice in the stomach to retain the food and not to distribute it, (for it is injurious to the whole body,) so it is a vice in those that are rich to keep to themselves what they have. For this destroys both themselves and others. Again, the eye receives all the light: but it doth not itself alone retain it, but enlightens the entire body. For it is not its nature to keep it to itself, so long as it is an eye. Again, the nostrils are sensible of perfume; but they do not keep it all to themselves, but transmit it to the brain, and affect the stomach with a sweet savor, and by their means refresh the entire man. The feet alone walk; but they move not away themselves only, but transfer also the whole body. In like manner do thou, whatsoever thou hast been entrusted withal, keep it not to thyself alone, since thou art doing harm to the whole and to thyself more than all.
And not in the case of the limbs only may one see this occuring: for the smith also, if he chose to impart of his craft to no one, ruins both himself and all other crafts. Likewise the cordwainer, the husbandman, the baker, and everyone of those who pursue any necessary calling; if he chose not to communicate to anyone of the results of his art, will ruin not the others only but himself also with them.
And why do I say, “the rich?” For the poor too, if they followed after the wickedness of you who are covetous and rich, would injure you very greatly and soon make you poor; yea rather, they would quite destroy you, were they in your want unwilling to impart of their own: the tiller of the ground, (for instance,) of the labor of his hands; the sailor, of the gain from his voyages; the soldier, of his distinction won in the wars.
Wherefore if nothing else can, yet let this at least put you to shame, and do you imitate their benevolence. Dost thou impart none of thy wealth unto any? Then shouldest thou not receive any thing from another: in which case, the world will be turned upside down. For in every thing to give and receive is the principle of numerous blessings: in seeds, in scholars, in arts. For if any one desire tO keep his art to himself, he subverts both himself and the whole course of things. And the husbandman, if he bury and keep the seeds in his house, will bring about a grievous famine. So also the rich man, if he act thus in regard of his wealth, will destroy himself before the poor, heaping up the fire of hell more grievous upon his own head.
[8.] Therefore as teachers, however many scholars they have, impart some of their lore unto each; so let thy possession be, many to whom thou hast done good. And let all say, “such an one he freed from poverty, such an one from dangers. Such an one would have perished, had he not, next to the grace of God, enjoyed thy patronage. This man’s disease thou didst cure, another thou didst rid of false accusation, another being a stranger you took in, another being naked you clothed.” Wealth inexhaustible and many treasures are not so good as such sayings. They draw all men’s gaze more powerfully than your golden vestments, and horses, and slaves. For these make a man appear even odious: (forticon, a conj. of Saville’s for fortica) they cause him to be hated as a common foe; but the former proclaim him as a common father and benefactor. And, what is greatest of all, Favor from God waits on thee in every part of thy proceedings. What I mean is, let one man say, He helped to portion out my daughter: another, And he afforded my son the means of taking his station among men: (ei" andra" emfanhnai) another, He made my calamity to cease: another, He delivered me from dangers. Better than golden crowns are words such as these, that a man should have in his city innumerable persons to proclaim his beneficence. Voices such as these are pleasanter far, and sweeter than the voices of the heralds marching before the archons; to be called saviour, benefactor, defender, (the very names of God;) and not, covetous, proud, insatiate, and mean. Let us not, I beseech you, let us not have a fancy for any of these titles, but the contrary. For if these, spoken on earth, make one so splendid and illustrious; when they are written in heaven, and God proclaims them on the day that shall come, think what renown, what splendor thou shalt enjoy! Which may it be the lot of us all to obtain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom unto the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and always and unto everlasting ages. Amen.
1100 that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord. (1Co 4,3-5)
1101 Together with all other ills, I know not how, there hath come upon man’s nature the disease of restless prying and of unseasonable curiosity, which Christ Himself chastised, saying, (St. Mt 7,1) “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” A kind of thing, which hath no pleasure as all other sins have, but only punishment and vengeance. For though we are ourselves full of ten thousand evils, and bearing the “beams” in our own eyes, we become exact inquisitors of the offences of our neighbor which are not at all bigger than “motes.” And so this matter at Corinth was failing out. Religious men and dear to God were ridiculed and cast out for their want Of learning; while others, brimful of evils innumerable, were classed highly because of their fluent speech. Then like persons sitting in public to try causes, these were the sort of votes they kept rashly passing: “such an one is worthy: such an one is better than such another; this man is inferior to that; that, better than this.” And, leaving off to mourn for their own bad ways, they were become judges of others; and in this way again were kindling grievous warfare.
(Mark then, how wisely Paul corrects them, doing away with this disease. For since he had said, “Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful,” and it seemed as if he were giving them an opening to judge and pry into each man’s life, and this was aggravating the party feeling; lest such should be the effect on them, he draws them away from that kind of petty disputation, saying, “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you;” again in his own person carrying on the discourse.
[2.] But what means, “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man’s day?” (hmera") “I judge myself unworthy,” saith he, “of being judged by you.” And why say I, “by you?” I will add, “by (cai to [tou]) any one else.” Howbeit, let no one condemn Paul of arrogance; though he saith that no man is worthy to pass sentence concerning him. For first, he saith these things not for his own sake, but wishing to rescue others from the odium which they had incurred from the Corinthians. And in the next place, he limits not the matter to the Corinthians merely, but himself also he deposes from this right of judging; saying, that to decree such things was a matter beyond his decision. At least he adds, “I judge not mine own self.”
But besides what has been said, we must search out the ground upon which these expressions were uttered. For he knew well in many cases how to speak with high spirit: and that, not of pride or arrogance, but of a certain excellent management [oiconomia" aristh"] seeing that in the present case also he saith this, not as lifting up himself, but as taking down other men’s sails, and earnestly seeking to invest the saints with due honor. For in proof that he was one of the very humble, hear what he saith, bringing forward the testimony of his enemies on this point; “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account; (2Co 10,10) and again, “Last of all, as to one born out of due time, He appeared unto me also.” (2Co 15,8) But notwithstanding, see this lowly man, when the time called on him, to what a pitch he raises the spirit of the disciples, not teaching pride but instilling a wholesome courage. For with these same discoursing he saith, “And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 1Co 6,2. For as the Christian ought to be far removed from arrogance, so also from flattery and a mean spirit. Thus, if any one says, “I count money as nothing, but all things here are to me as a shadow, and a dream, and child’s play;” we are not at all to charge him as arrogant; since in this way we shall have to accuse Solomon himself of arrogance, for speaking austerely (filosofounta) on these things, saying “Vanity of vanities (Si 1,2) all is vanity.” But God forbid that we should call the strict rule of life by the name of arrogance. Wherefore to despise these things is not haughtiness, but greatness of soul; albeit we see kings, and rulers, and potentates, making much of them. But many a poor man, leading a strict life despises them; and we are not therefore to call him arrogant but highminded: just as, on the other hand, if any be extremely addicted to them, we do not call him lowly of heart and moderate, but weak, and poor spirited, and ignoble. For so, should a son despise the pursuits which become his father and affect slavish ways, we should not commend him as lowly of heart, but as base and servile we should reproach him. What we should admire in him would be, his despising those meaner things and making much account of what came to him from his father. For this is arrogance, to think one’s self better than one’s fellow-servants: but to pass the true sentence on things cometh not of boasting, but of strictness of life.
1102 On this account Paul also, not to exalt himself, but to humble others, and to keep down those who were rising up out of their places, and to persuade them to be modest, said, “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man’s day.” Observe how he soothes the other party also. For whosoever is told that he looks down on all alike, and deigns not to be judged of any one, will not thenceforth any more feel pain, as though himself were the only one excluded. For if he had said, “Of you,” only, and so held his peace; this were enough to gall them as if treated contemptuously. But now, by introducing, “nor yet of man’s day,” he brought alleviation to the blow; giving them partners in the contempt. Nay, he even softens this point again, saying, “not even do I judge myself.” Mc the expression, how entirely free from arrogance: in that not even he himself, he saith, is capable of so great exactness.
[3.] Then because this saying also seemed to be that of one extolling himself greatly, this too he corrects, saying, “Yet am I not hereby justified.” What then? Ought we not to judge ourselves and our own misdeeds? Yes surely: there is great need to do this when we sin. But Paul said not this, “For I know nothing,” saith he, “against myself.” What misdeed then was he to judge, when he “knew nothing against himself?’ Yet, saith he, “he was not justified.” (1Co 6,3) We then who have our conscience filled with ten thousand wounds, and are conscious to ourselves of nothing good, but quite the contrary; what can we say?
And how could it be, if he knew nothing against himself that he was not justified? Because it was possible for him to have committed certain sins, not however, knowing that they were sins. From this make thine estimate how great shall be the strictness of the future judgment. It is not, you see, as considering himself unblameable that he saith it is so unmeet for him to be judged by them, but to stop the mouths of those who were doing so unreasonably. At least in another place, even though men’s sins be notorious, he permits not judgment unto others, because the occasion required it. “For why dost thou judge thy brother,” saith he, (Rm 14,10) or, “thou, why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” For thou wert not enjoined, O man, to judge others, but to test thine own doings. Why then dost thou seize upon the office of the Lord? Judgment is His, not thine.
To which effect, he adds, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come; who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall each man have his praise from God.” What then? Is it not right that our teachers should do this? It is right in the case of open and confessed sins, and that with fitting opportunity, and even then with pain and inward vexation: not as these were acting at that time, of vain-glory and arrogance. For neither in this instance is he speaking of those sins which all own to be such, but about preferring one before another, and making comparisons of modes of life. For these things He alone knows how to judge with accuracy, who is to judge our secret doings, which of these be worthy of greater and which of less punishment and honor. But we do all this according to what meets our eye. “For if in mine own errors,” saith he, “I know nothing clearly, how can I be worthy to pass sentence on other men? And how shall I who know not my own case with accuracy, be able to judge the state of others?” Now if Paul felt this, much more we. For (to proceed) he spake these things, not to exhibit himself as faultless, but to shew that even should there be among them some such person, free from transgression, not even he would be worthy to judge the lives of others: and that if he, though conscious to himself of nothing declare himself guilty, much more they who have ten thousand sins to be conscious of in themselves.
[4.] Having thus, you see, stopped the mouths of those who pass such sentences, he travails next with strong feeling ready to break out and come upon the unclean person. And like as when a storm is coming on, some clouds fraught with darkness run before it; afterwards, when the crash of the thunders ariseth and works the whole heavens into one black cloud, then all at once the rain bursts down upon the earth: so also did it then happen. For though he might in deep indignation have dealt with the fornicator, he doth not so; but with fearful words he first represses the swelling pride of the man, since in truth, what had occurred was a twofold sin, fornication, and, that which is worse than fornication, the not grieving over the sin committed. For not so much does he bewail the sin, as him that committed it and did not as yet repent. Thus, “I shall bewail many of those,” saith he, not simply “who have sinned heretofore,” but he adds, “who have not repented of the uncleanness and impurity which they wrought.” (2Co 12,21) For he who after sinning hath practised repentance, is a worthy object not of grief but of gratulations, having passed over into the choir of the righteous. For, (Is 43,26) “declare thou thine iniquities first, that thou mayest be justified:” but if after sinning one is void of shame, he is not so much to be pitied for falling as for lying where he is fallen.
1103 Now if it be a grievous fault not to repent after sins; to be puffed up because of sins, what sort of punishment doth it deserve? For if he who is elate for his good deeds is unclean, what pardon shall he meet with who has that feeling with regard to his sins?
Since then the fornicator was of this sort, and had rendered his mind so headstrong and unyielding through his sin, he of course begins by casting down his pride. And he neither puts the charge first, for fear of making him hardened, as singled out for accusation before the rest; nor yet later, lest he should suppose that what related to him was but incidental. But, having first excited great alarm in him by his plain speaking towards others, then, and not till then, he goes on to him, in the course of his rebuke to others giving the man’s wilfulness a share beforehand.
For these same words, viz. “I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified,” and this, “He that judgeth me is the Lord, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” glance not lightly both upon that person, and upon such as act in concert with him and despise the saints. “For what,” saith he, “if any outwardly appear to be virtuous and admirable persons? He, the Judge, is not a discerner of externals only, but also brings to light all secrets.”
[5.] On two accounts you see, or rather on three, correct judgement belongs not to us. One, because, though we be conscious to ourselves of nothing, still we need one to reprove our sins with strictness. Another, because the most part of the things which are done escape us and are concealed. And for a third besides these, because many things which are done by others seem to us indeed fair, but they come not of a right mind. Why say ye then, that no sin hath been committed by this or that person? That such an one is better than such another? Seeing that this we are not to pronounce, not even concerning him who knows nothing against himself. For He who discerns secrets, He it is who with certainty judges. Behold, for example; I for my part know nothing against myself: yet neither so am I justified, that is, I am not quit of accounts to be given, nor of charges to be answered. For he doth not say this, “I rank not among the righteous;” but “I am not pure from sin.” For elsewhere he saith also, (Rm 6,7, dedicaiwtai, toutestin aphllactai). “He that hath died is justified from sin,” that is, “is liberated.”
Again, many things we do, good indeed, but not of a right mind. For so we commend many, not from a wish to render them conspicuous, but to wound others by means of them. And the thing done indeed is right for the well-doer is praised; but the intention is corrupt: for it is done of a satanical purpose. For this one hath often done, not rejoicing with his brother, but desiring to wound the other party.
Again, a man hath committed a great error; some other person, wishing to supplant him, says that he hath done nothing, and comforts him forsooth in his error by recurring to the common frailty of nature. But oftentimes he doth this from no mind to sympathize, but to make him more easy in his faults.
Again, a man rebukes oftentimes not so much to reprove and admonish, as publicly to (ecpompeusai cai ectragwdhsai) display and exaggerate his neighbor’s sin. Our counsels however themselves men do not know; but, (Rm 8,27) “He that searcheth the hearts,” knows them perfectly; and He will bring all such things into view at that time. Wherefore he saith, “Who will bring to light the secret things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts.”
[6.] Seeing then that not even where we “know nothing against ourselves,” can we be clean from accusations, and where we do any thing good, but do it not of a right mind, we are liable to punishment; consider how vastly men are deceived in their judgments. For all these matters are not be come at by men, but by the unsleeping Eye alone: and though we may deceive men, our sophistry will never avail against Him. Say not then, darkness is around me and walls; who seeth me? For He who by Himself formed our hearts, Himself knoweth all things. (Ps 139,12) “For darkness is no darkness with Him.” And yet he who is committing sin, well saith, “Darkness is around me and walls;” for were there not a darkness in his mind he would not have cast out the fear of God and acted as he pleased. For unless the ruling principle be first darkened, the entrance of sin without fear is a thing impossible. Say not then, who seeth me? For there is that (He 4,12) “pierceth even unto soul and spirit, joints and marrow;” but thou seest not thyself nor canst thou pierce the cloud; but as if thou hadst a wall on all sides surrounding thee, thou art without power to look up unto the heaven.
1104 For whatsoever sin thou wilt, first let us examine, and thou shalt see that so it is engendered. For as robbers and they who dig through walls when they desire to carry off any valuable thing, put out the candle and then do their work; so also doth men’s perverse reasoning in the case of those who are committing sin. Since in us also surely there is a light, the light of reason, ever burning. But if the spirit of wickedness coming eagerly on with its strong blast quench that flame, it straightway darkens the soul and prevails against it, and despoils it straightway of all that is laid up therein. For when by unclean desire the soul is made captive, even as a cloud and mist the eyes of the body, so that desire intercepts the foresight of the mind, and suffers it to see nothing at any distance, either precipice, or hell, or fear; but thenceforth, having that deceit as a tyrant over him, he comes to be easily vanquished by sin; and there is raised up before his eyes as it were a wall without windows, which suffers not the ray of righteousness to shine in upon the mind, the absurd conceits of lust enclosing it as with a rampart on all sides. And from that time forward the unchaste woman is everywhere meeting him: standing present before his eyes, before his mind, before his thoughts. And as the blind, although they stand at high noon beneath the very central point of the heaven, receive not the light, their eyes being fast dosed up; just so these also, though ten thousand doctrines of salvation sound in their ears from all quarters, having their soul preoccupied with this passion stop their ears against such discourses. And they know it well who have made the trial. But God forbid that you should know it from actual experience.
[7.] And not only this sin hath these effects, but every misplaced affection as well. For let us transfer, if you please, the argument from the unchaste woman unto money, and we shall see here also thick and unbroken darkness. For in the former case, inasmuch as the beloved object is one and shut up in one place, the feeling is not so violent; but in the case of money which sheweth itself every where, in silversmiths’ shops, in taverns, in foundries for gold, in the houses of the wealthy, the passion blows a vehement gale. For when servants swaggering in the market place, horses with golden trappings, men decked with costly garments, are seen with desire by him who has that distemper, the darkness becomes intense which envelopes him. And why speak of houses and silversmiths’ shops? for my part I think that such persons, though it be but in a picture and image that they see the wealth, are convulsed, and grow wild, and rave. So that from all quarters the darkness gathers around them. And if they chance to behold a portraiture of a King, they admire not the beauty of the precious stones, nor yet the gold, nor the purple robe, but they pine away. And as the wretched lover before mentioned, though he see but the image of the woman beloved, cleaveth unto the lifeless thing; so this man also, beholding a lifeless image of wealth, is more strongly affected in the same way, as being holden of a more tyrannical passion. And he must henceforth either abide at home, or if he venture into the Forum, return home with innumerable hurts. For many are the objects which grieve his eyes. And just as the former seeth nothing else save the woman, even so the latter hastens by poor persons, and all things else, that he may not obtain so much as a slight alleviation. But upon the wealthy he steadily fixeth his eyes; by the sight of them introducing the fire into his own soul mightily and vehemently. For it is a fire that miserably devours the person that falls into it; and if no hell were threatened nor yet punishment, this condition were itself punishment; to be continually tormented and never able to find an end to the malady.
[8.] Well: these things alone might suffice to recommend our fleeing from this distemper. But there is no greater evil than inconsideration which causes men to be rivetted unto things thatbring sorrow of heart and no advantage. Wherefore I exhort that you cut off the passion at its beginning: for just as a fever on its first attack, does not violently burn up the patients with thirst, but on its increase and the heightening of its fire causes from that time incurable thirst; and though one should let them fill themselves full of drink, it puts not out the furnace but makes it burn fiercer: so also it happens in regard to this passion; unless when it first invadeth our soul we stop it and shut the doors; having got in, from that time it makes the disease of those who have admitted it incurable. For so both good things and bad, the longer they abide in us, the more powerful they become.
1105 And in all other things too, any one may see that this cometh to pass. For so a plant but lately set in the ground is easily pulled up; but no more so when rooted for a long time; it then requires great strength in the lever. And a building newly put together is easily thrown down by those who push against it; but once well fixed, it gives great trouble to those who attempt to pull it down. And a wild beast that hath made his accustomed haunt in certain places for a long time is with difficulty driven away.
Those therefore who are not yet possessed by the passion in question, I exhort not to be taken captive. For it is more easy to guard against falling into it, than having fallen to get away.
[9.] But unto those who are seized by it and broken down, if they will consent to put themselves into the hands of the Word of healing, I promise large hope of salvation, by the Grace of God. For if they will consider those who have suffered and fallen into that distemper and have recovered, they will have good hopes respecting the removal of the disease. Who then ever fell into this disease, and was easily rid of it? That welt-known Zacchaeus. For who could be more fond of money than a publican? But all at once he became a man of strict life, (Filosofo") and put out all that blaze. Matthew in like manner: for he too was a publican, living in continual rapine. But he likewise all at once stripped himself of the mischief, and quenched his thirst, and followed after spiritual gain. Considering therefore these, and the like to them, despair not even thou. For if thou wilt, quickly thou shalt be able to recover. And if you please, according to the rule of physicians, we will prescribe accurately what thou shouldest do.
It is necessary then, before all other things, to be right in this, that we never despond, nor despair of our salvation. Next, we must look not only upon the examples of those who have done well, but also upon the sufferings of those who have persisted in sin. For as we have considered Zacchaeus, and Matthew, even so ought we also to take account of Judas, and Gehazi, and Ahar, [perhaps Achan, Jos 7,] and Ahab, and Ananias, and Sapphira, in order that by the one, we may cast out all despair, and by the other cut off all indolence; and that the soul become not reckless of the remedies suggested. And let us teach them of themselves to say what the Jews said on that day, approaching unto Peter, (Ac 2,37, cf. Ac 16,30). “What must we do to be saved?” And let them hear what they must do.
[10.] What then must we do? We must know how worthless the things in question are, and that wealth is a run-away slave, and heartless, and encompasseth its possessors with ills innumerable. And such words, like charms, let us sound in their ears continually. And as physicians soothe their patients when they ask for cold water, by saying that they will give it, making excuses about the spring, and the vessel, and the fit time, and many more such, (for should they refuse at once, they make them wild with phrensy,) so let us also act towards the lovers of money. When they say we desire to be rich, let us not say immediately that wealth is an evil thing; but let us assent, and say that we also desire it; but in due time; yea, true wealth; yea, that which hath undying pleasure: yea, that which is gathered for thyself, and not for others, and those often our enemies. And let us produce the lessons of true wisdom, and say, we forbid not riches, but ill-gotten riches. For it is lawful to be rich, but without covetousness, without rapine and violence, and an ill report from all men. With these arguments let us first smooth them down, and not as yet discourse of hell. For the sick man endures not yet such sayings. Wherefore let us go to this world for all our arguments upon these matters; and say, “Why is it thy choice to be rich through covetousness? That the gold and the silver may be laid up. for others, but for thee, curses and accusations innumerable? That he whom you have defrauded may be stung by want of the very necessaries of life, and bewail himself, and draw down upon thee the censure of thousands; and may go at fall of evening about the market place, encountering every one in the alleys, and in utter perplexity, and not knowing what to trust to even for that one night? For how is he to sleep after all, with pangs of the belly, restless famine besetting him, and that often while it is freezing, and the rain coming down on him? And while thou, having washed, returnest home from the bath, in a glow with soft raiment, merry of heart and rejoicing, and hastening unto a banquet prepared and costly: he, driven every where about the market place by cold and hunger, takes his round, stooping low and stretching out his hands; nor hath he even spirit without trembling to make his suit for his necessary food to one so full fed and so bent on taking his ease; nay, often he has to retire with insult. When therefore thou hast returned home, when thou liest down on thy couch, whenthe lights round thine house shine bright, when the table is prepared and plentiful, at that time call to rememberance that poor miserable man wandering about, like the dogs in the alleys, in darkness and in mire; except indeed when, as is often the case, he has to depart thence, not unto house, nor wife, nor bed, but unto a pallet of straw; even as we see the dogs baying all through the night. And thou, if thou seest but a little drop failing from the roof, throwest the whole house into confusion, calling thy slaves and disturbing every thing: while he, laid in rags, and straw, and dirt, has to bear all the cold.
What wild beast would not be softened by these things? Who is there so savage and inhuman that these things should not make him mild? and yet there are some who are arrived at such a pitch of cruelty as even to say that they deserve what they suffer. Yea, when they ought to pity, and weep, and help to alleviate men’s calamities, they on the contrary visit them with savage and inhuman censures. Of these I should be glad to ask, Tell me, why do they deserve what they suffer? Is it because they would be fed and not starve?
1106 No, you will reply; but because they would be fed in idleness. And thou, dost not thou wanton in idleness? What say I? Art thou not oft-times toiling in an occupation more grievous than any idleness, grasping, and oppressing, and coveting? Better were it if thou too wert idle after this sort; for it is better to be idle in this way, than to be covetous. But now thou even tramplest on the calamities of others, not only idling, not only pursuing an occupation worse than idleness, but also maligning those who spend their days in misery.
And let us farther narrate to them the disasters of others; the untimely bereavements, the dwellers in prison, those who are torn to pieces before tribunals, those who are trembling for life; the unlooked for widowhood of women; the sudden reverse of the rich: and with this let us soften their minds. For by our narrations concerning others, we shall induce them by all means to fear these evils in their own case too. For when they hear that the son of such an one who was a covetous and grasping man, or (h tou deino" instead of hn; tou deino") the wife of such an one who did many tyrannical actions, after the death of her husband endured afflictions without end; the injured persons setting upon the wife and the children, and a general war being raised from all quarters against his house; although a man be the most senseless of beings, yet expecting himself also to suffer the same, and fearing for his own lest they undergo the same fate, he will become more moderate. Now we find life full of many such histories, and we shall not be at a loss for correctives of this kind.
But when we speak these things, let us not speak them as giving advice or counsel, test our discourse become too irksome: but as in the order of the narrative and by association with something else, let us proceed in each case unto that kind of conversation, and let us be constantly putting them upon stories of the kind, permitting them to speak of no subject except these which follow: How such an one’s splendid and famous mansion fell down; How it is so entirely desolate that all things that were in it have come into the hands of others; How many trials have taken place daily about this same property, what a stir; How many of that man’s relations (oicetai, probably oiceioi) have died either beggars, or inhabitants of a prison.
All these things let us speak as in pity for the deceased, and as depreciating things present; in order that by fear and by pity we may soften the cruel mind. And when we see men shrinking into themselves at these narrations, then and not till then let us introduce to their notice also the doctrine of hell, not as terrifying these, but in compassion for others. And let us say, But why speak of things present? For far, indeed, will our concern be from ending with these; a yet more grievous punishment will await all such persons: even a river of fire, and a poisonous worm, and darkness interminable, and undying tortures. If with such addresses we succeed in throwing a spell over them, we shall correct both ourselves and them, and quickly get the better of our infirmity.
And on that day we shall have God to praise us: as also Paul saith, “And then shall each man have praise from God.” For that which cometh from men, is both fleeting, and sometimes it proceeds from no good intentions. But that which cometh from God both abideth continually, and shines out clearly. For when He who knew all things before their creation, and who is free from all passion, gives praise, then also the demonstration of our virtue is even unquestionable.
Knowing these things therefore, let us act so as to be praised of God, and to acquire the greatest blessings; which God grant us all to obtain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, honor, now and always, and unto all the ages of eternity. Amen.
Chrysostom on 1Cor 1000