Chrysostom on 1Cor 1700
1700 but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought into the power of any. (1Co 6,12-14)
1701 Here he glances at the gluttons. For since he intends to assail the fornicator again, and fornication arises from luxuriousness and want of moderation, he strongly chastises this passion. It cannot be that he speaks thus with regard to things forbidden, such not being “lawful:” but of things which seem to be indifferent. To illustrate my meaning: “It is lawful,” he says, “to eat and to drink; but it is not expedient with excess.” And so that marvellous and unexpected turn of his, which he is often wont to adopt; (Cf. Rm 12,21; 1Co 7,23) bringing his argument clear round to its contrary, this he manages to introduce here also; and he signifies that to do what is in one’s power not only is not expedient, but even is not a part of power, but of slavery.
And first, he dissuades them on the ground of the inexpediency of the thing, saying, “they are not expedient:” in the next place, on that of its contrariety to itself, saying, “I will not be brought under the power of any.” This is his meaning: “You are at liberty to eat,” says he; “well then, remain in liberty, and take heed that you do not become a slave to this appetite: for he who uses it properly, he is master of it; but he that exceeds the proper measure is no longer its master but its slave, since gluttony reigns paramount within him.” Do you perceive how, where the man thought he had authority Paul points out that he is under authority? For this is his custom, as I was saying before, to give all objections a turn the contrary way. It is just this which he has done here. For mark; each of them was saying, “I have power to live luxuriously.” He replies, “In doing so, thou art not so much acting as one who had power over a thing, but rather as being thyself subject to some such power. For thou hast not power even over thine own belly, so long as thou art dissolute, but it hath power over thee.” And the same we may say both of riches and of other things.
1Co 6,13. “Meats for the belly.” By “the belly” here he means not the stomach, but the stomach’s voraciousness. As when he says, (Ph 3,19) “Whose God is their belly:” not speaking about that part of the body, but about greediness. To prove that so it is, hear what follows: “And the belly for meats; but the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord.” And yet “the belly” also is of “the body.” But he puts down two pairs of things, “meats” and gluttony, (which he terms “the belly;”) “Christ,” and “the body.”
What then is the meaning of, “Meats for the belly?” “Meats,” he says, are on good terms with gluttony, and it with them. It cannot therefore lead us unto Christ, but drags towards these. For it is a strong and brutal passion, and makes us slaves, and puts us upon ministering to the belly. Why then art thou excited and gaping after food, O man? For the end of that service is this, and nothing further shall be seen of it: but as one was waiting on some mistress, it abides keeping up this slavery, and advances no further, and has no other employment but this same fruitless one. And the two are connected together and destroyed together; “the belly” with “the meats,” and “the meats” with “the belly;” winding out a sort of interminable course; just as from a corrupt body worms may be produced, and again by worms the body consumed; or as it were a wave swoln high and breaking, and having no furthe r effect. But these things he says not concerning food and the body, but it is the passion of greediness and excess in eatables which he is censuring: and what follows shews it. For he proceeds:
“But God shall bring to nought both it and them:” speaking not of the stomach, but of immoderate desire: not of food but of high feeding. For with the former he is not angry, but even lays down rules about them, saying, (1Tm 6,8) “Having food and covering we shall be therewith content. However, thus he stigmatizes the whole thing; its amendment (after advice given) being left by him to prayer.
But some say that the words are a prophecy, declaring the state which shall be in the life to come, and that there is no eating or drinking there. Now if that which is moderate shall have an end, much more ought we to abstain from excess.
Then lest any one should suppose that the body is the object of his censure, and suspect that from a part he is blaming the whole, and say that the nature of the body was the cause of gluttony or of fornication, hear what follows. “I blame not,” he says, “the nature of the body, but the immoderate license of the mind.” And therefore he subjoins, “Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord;” for it was not formed for this purpose, to live riotously and commit fornication, as neither was the belly to be greedy; but that it might follow Christ as a Head, and that the Lord might be set over the body. Let us be overcome with shame, let us be horror-struck, that after we have been counted worthy of such great honor as to become members of Him that sitteth on high, we defile ourselves with so great evils.
[2.] Having now sufficiently condemned the glutton, he uses also the hope of things to come to divert us from this wickedness: saying,
1Co 6,14. And God both raised up the Lord, and will raise up us also through His power.
1702 Do you perceive again his Apostolical wisdom? For he is always establishing the credibility of the Resurrection from Christ, and especially now. For if our body be a member of Christ, and Christ be risen, the body also shall surely follow the Head.
“Through his power.” For since he had asserted a thing disbelieved and not to be apprehended by reasonings, he hath left entirely to His incomprehensible power the circumstances of Christ’s own Resurrection, producing this too as no small demonstration against them. And concerning the Resurrection of Christ he did not insert this: for he did not say, “And God shall also raise up the Lord;”—for the thing was past and gone;—but how? “And God both raised up the Lord;” nor was there need of any proof. But concerning our resurrection, since it has not yet come to pass, he spoke not thus, but how? “And will raise up us also through His power:” by the reliance to be placed on the power of the Worker, he stops the mouths of the gainsayers.
Further: if he ascribe unto the Father the Resurrection of Christ, let not this at all disturb thee. For not as though Christ were powerless, hath he put this down, for He it is Himself who saith, (S. Jn 2,19) “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up:” and again, (S. Jn 10,18) “I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again.” And Lc also in the Ac says, (c. 1, 3). “To whom also He shewed Himself alive.” Wherefore then does Paul so speak? Because both the acts of the Son are imputed unto the Father, and the Father’s unto the Son. For He saith, (S. Jn 5,19) “Whatsoever things He doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner.”
And very opportunely he here made mention of the Resurrection, keeping down by those hopes the tyranny of gluttonous desire; and all but saying, Thou hast eaten, hast drunk to excess: and what is the result? Nothing, save only destruction. Thou hast been conjoined unto Christ; and what is the result? A great and marvellous thing: the future Resurrection, that glorious one, and transcending all utterance!
[3.] Let no one therefore go on disbelieving the Resurrection: but if a man disbelieve, let him think how many things He made from nothing, and admit it as a proof also of the other. For the things which are already past are stranger by far, and fraught with overpowering wonder. Just consider. He took earth and mixed it, and made man; earth which existed not before this. How then did the earth become man? And how was it produced from nothing? And, how, all the things that were made from it? the endless sorts of irrational creatures; of seeds; of plants; no pangs of travail having preceded in the one case, no rains having come down upon the others; no tillage seen, no oxen, no plough, nor any thing else contributing to their production? Why, for this cause the lifeless and senseless thing was made to put forth in the beginning so many kinds of plants and irrational creatures, in order that from the very first He might instruct thee in the doctrine of Resurrection. For this is more inexplicable than the Resurrection. For it is not the same thing to rekindle an extinguished lamp, and to shew fire that has never yet appeared. It is not the same thing to raise up again a house which has fallen down, and to produce one which has never at all had an existence . For in the former case, if nothing else, yet the material was given to work with: but in the latter, not even the substance appeared. Wherefore He made first that which seemed to be the more difficult, to the end that hereby thou mightest admit that which is the more easy; more difficult, I say, not to God, but as far as our reasonings can follow the subject. For with God nothing is difficult: but as the painter who has made one likeness will make ten thousand with ease, so also with God it is easy to make worlds without number and end. Rather, as it is easy for you to conceive a city and worlds without bound, so unto God is it easy to make them; or rather again it is easier by far. For thou consumest time, brief though it be, in thy conception; but God not even this, but as much as stones are heavier than any of the lightest things, yea even than our minds; so much is our mind surpassed by the rapidity of God’s work of creation.
Do you marvel at His power on the earth? Think again how the heaven was made, not yet being; how the innumerable stars, how the sun, how the moon; and all these things not yet being. Again, tell me how after they were made they stood fast, and upon what? What foundation have they? and what the earth? What comes next to the earth? and again, what after that which came next to the earth? Do you see into what an eddy the eye of your mind is plunged, unless you quickly take refuge in faith and the incomprehensible power of the Maker?
But if you choose from human things also to make conjecture, you will be able by degrees to find wings for your understanding. “What kind of human things?” may be asked. Do you not see the potters, how they fashion the vase which had been broken in pieces and become shapeless? Those who fuse the ore from the mine, how the earth in their hands turns out (thn Uhn krusion apoyainousi) gold, or silver, or copper? Others again who work in glass, how they transform the sand into one compact and transparent substance? Shall I speak of the dressers of leather, the dyers ofpurple vestments; how they make that which had received their tint shew as one thing, when it had been another? Shall I speak of the generation of our own race? Doth not a small seed, at first without form and impress, enter into the womb which receives it? Whence then the so intricate formation of the living creature? What is the wheat? Is it not cast a naked seed into the earth? After it has been cast there, doth it not decay? Whence is the ear, the beard, the stalk, and all the other parts? Doth not often a little grain of a fig fall into the ground, and produce both root, and branches, and fruit? And dost thou hereupon admit each of these and make no curious enquiries, and of God alone dost thou demand account, in His work of changing the fashion of our body? And how can such things be pardonable?
1703 These things and such like we say to the Greeks. For to those who are obedient to the Scriptures, I have no occasion to speak at all.
I say, if you intend to pry curiously into all His doings, what shall God have more than men? And yet even of men there are many about whom we do not so enquire. Much more then ought we to abstain from impertinent inquiry about the wisdom of God, and from demanding accounts of it: in the first place, because He is trustworthy who affirmeth: in the second place, because the matter admits not investigation by reasonings. For God is not so abjectly poor as to work such things only as can be apprehended by the weakness of thy reasonings. And if thou comprehendest not the work of an artisan, much less of God, the best of artificers. Disbelieve not then the Resurrection, for very far will ye be from the hope of that which is to come.
But what is the wise argument of the gain-sayers; rather, I should—say, their exceeding senseless one? “Why how, when the body is mixed up with the earth and is become earth, and this again is removed elsewhere, how,” say they, “shall it rise again?” To thee this seems impossible, but not to the unsleeping Eye. For unto that all things are clear. And thou in that confusion seest no distinction of parts; but He knows them all. Since also the heart of thy neighbor thou knowest not, nor the things in it; but He knoweth all. If then, because of thy not knowing how God raiseth men up, thou believest not that He doth raise them, wilt thou disbelieve that He knoweth also what is in thy mind? for neither is that obvious to view. And yet in the body it is visible matter, though it be dissolved: but those thoughts are invisible. Shall He then who knoweth with all certainty the invisible things, not see the things which be visible, and easily distinguish the scattered parts of the body? I suppose this is plain to every one.
Do not then disbelieve the Resurrection; for this is a doctrine of the Devil. This is what the Devil is earnest for, not only that the Resurrection may be disbelieved, but good works also may be done away with. For the man who does not expect that he shall rise again and give an account of the things which he has done, will not quickly apply himself to virtue; will in turn come to disbelieve the Resurrection entirely: for both these are established by each other; vice by unbelief, and unbelief by vice. For the conscience filled with many wickednesses, fearing and trembling for the recompense to come and not willing to provide itself with comfort by changing to what is most excellent, is fain to repose in unbelief. Thus when thou deniest resurrection and judgment, the other for his part will say, “Then shall I also not have to render account of my bold deeds.”
[4.] But why saith Christ? (St. Mt 22,29) “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” For God would not have wrought so many things, had He intended not to raise us up again, but to dissolve and blot us out in annihilation. He would not have spread out this heaven, He would not have stretched the earth beneath, He would not have made all the rest of the universe only for this short life. But if all these are for the present, what will He not do for that which is to come? If, on the contrary, there is to be no future life, we are in this respect of far meaner account than the things which have been made for our sakes. For both the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the rivers, are more lasting than we are: and some even of the brutes; since the raven, and the race of elephants, and many other creatures, have a longer enjoyment of the present life. To us, moreover, life is both short and toilsome, but not to them. Theirs is both long, and freer from grief and cares.
“What then? tell me: hath he made the slaves better than the masters?” Do not, I beseech thee, do not reason thus, O man, nor be so poverty-stricken in mind, nor be ignorant of the riches of God, having such a Master. For even from the beginning God desired to make thee immortal, but thou wert not willing. Since the things also of that time were darkhints of immortality: the converse with God;the absence of uneasiness from life; the freedom from grief, and cares, and toils, and other things which belong to a temporary existence. For Adam had no need either of a garment or a shelter, or any other provision of this sort; butrather was like to the Angels; and many of the things to come he foreknew, and was filled with great wisdom. Even what God did in secret, he knew, I mean with regard to the woman: wherefore also he said, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” (Gn 2,23) Labor came into being afterwards: so did sweat, so did shame, and cowardice, and want of confidence. But on that day there was no grief, nor pain, nor lamentation. But he abode not in that dignity.
1704 What then, saith one, am I to do? must I perish on his account? I reply, first, It is not on his account: for neither hast thou remained without sin: though it be not the same sin, at least there is some other which thou hast committed. And again, you have not been injured by his punishment, but rather have been a gainer. For if you had been to remain altogether mortal, perchance what is said would have had some reason in it. But now thou art immortal, and if thou wilt, thou mayest shine brighter than the sun itself.
[5.] “But,” says one, “had I not received a mortal body, I had not sinned.” Tell me then, had he a mortal body when he sinned? Surely not: for if it had been mortal before, it would not have undergone death as a punishment afterwards. And that a mortal body is no hindrance to virtue, but that it keeps men in order and is of the greatest service, is plain from what follows. If the expectation of immortality alone so lifted up Adam; had he been even immortal in reality, to what a pitch of arrogance would he not have proceeded? And as things are, after sinning you may do away with your sins, the body being abject, falling away, and subject to dissolution: for these thoughts are sufficient to sober a man. But if you had sinned in an immortal body, your sins were likely to have been more lasting.
Mortality then is not the cause of sin: accuse it not: but the wicked will is the root of all the mischief. For why was not Abel at all the worse for his body? Why are the devils not at all the better for being incorporeal? Wilt thou hear why the body’s becoming mortal, so far from hurting, has been positively useful? Mc how much thou gainest thereby, if thou art sober. It drags thee back and pulls thee off from wickedness, by griefs and pains and labors and other such things. “But it tempts men to uncleanness,” perhaps you will say. Not the body, but incontinence, doth this. For all these things which I was mentioning certainly do belong to the body: on which account it is impossible that a man who has entered into this life should escape disease and pain and lowness of spirits: but that he commit no uncleanness is possible. Thus it appears that if the affections of vice were part of the nature of the body they would be universal: since all things natural are so; but to commit fornication is not so. Pain indeed cometh of nature: but to commit fornication proceeds from deliberate purpose.
Blame not the body then; let not the Devil take away thine honor, which God hath given thee. For if we choose, the body is an excellent bridle to curb the wanton sallies of the soul, to pull down haughtiness, to repress arrogance, to minister to us in the greatest achievements of virtue. For tell me not of those who have lost their senses; since we often see horses, after they have thrown out their drivers, dashing with their reins over the precipices, and yet we do not blame the rein. For it is not the breaking of that which caused it all, but the driver not holding them in was the ruin of every thing. Just so do thou reason in this case. If thou seest a young person living in orphanhood and doing innumerable evil things, blame not the body, but the charioteer who is dragged on, I mean, the man’s faculty of reasoning` For as the reins give no trouble to the charioteer, but the charioteer is the cruise of all the mischief through his not holding them properly: (and therefore do they often exact a penalty of him, entangling themselves with him, and dragging him on, and compelling him to partake in their own mishap:) so is it also in the case before us. “I,” Say the reins, “made bloody the horse’s mouth as long as you held me: but since you threw me away, I require satisfaction for your contempt, and I entwine myself about you, and drag you along, so as not to incur the same usage again.” Let no one then blame the reins, but himself and his own corrupt mind. For over us too is a charioteer, even reason: and the reins are the body, connecting the horses with the charioteer; if then these be in good condition, you will suffer no harm: but if you let them go, you have annihilated and ruined every thing. Let us be temperate then, and lay all blame not on the body, but on the evil mind. For this is the Devil’s special work, to make foolish men accuse the body and God and their neighbor, rather than their own perverted minds; lest, having discovered the cause, they get free from the root of the evils.
But do ye, being aware of his design, direct your wrath against him: and having set the charioteer upon the car, bend the eye of your minds towards God. For in all other instances he that appoints the games contributes nothing, but only awaits the end. But in this case, He is all in all, who appointed the contest, even God. Him therefore let us render propitious,and surely we shall obtain the blessings in store; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now, henceforth, and for evermore. Amen.
1800 Shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid. (1Co 6,15-20)
1801 Having passed on from the fornicator to the covetous person, he comes back to the former from the latter, no longer henceforth discoursing with him but with the others who had not committed fornication. And in the act of securing them lest they fall into the same sins, he assails him again. For he that has committed sin, though you direct your words to another, is stung even in that way; his conscience being thoroughly awakened and scourging him.
Now the fear of punishment indeed was enough to keep them in chastity. But seeing that he does not wish by fear alone to set these matters right, he uses both threatenings and reasons.
Now upon that other occasion, having stated the sin, and prescribed the punishment, and pointed out the harm which intercourse with the fornicator brought upon all, he left off, and passed to the subject of covetousness: and having threatened the covetous and all the rest whom he mentioned with expulsion from the kingdom, he so concluded his discourse. But here he takes in hand the work of admonition in a yet more terrific manner. For as he that only punishes a sin and does nothing to point out its most extreme lawlessness, produces no such great effect by his chastisement: so again, he who only abashes and fails to terrify by his mode of punishing, does not very keenly hit men of hardened minds. Wherefore Paul does both: here he abashes, saying, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” there again he terrifies, saying, “Know ye not that the covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?”
And in regard to the fornicator, he again uses this order of discourse. For having terrified him by what he had said before; first cutting him off and delivering him to Satan, and then reminding him of that day which is coming; he abashes him again by saying, “Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ?” thenceforth speaking as to children of noble birth. For whereas he had said, “Now the body is for the Lord,” he indicates it more plainly now. And in another place as well he does this same thing, saying, (xii. 27). “Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof.” And the same figure he often employs, not with the same aim, but at one time to shew His love, and at another to increase their fear. But here he has employed it to startle and fill them with alarm. “Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid.” Nothing can be apter to strike horror than this expression. He said not, “Shall I take the members of Christ, and join them on to a harlot?” but what? “make them members of a harlot;” which surely would strike more keenly.
Then he makes out how the fornicator becomes this, saying thus, “Know ye not that he that is joined unto a harlot is one body?” How is this evident? “For the twain, saith He, shall become one.”
1Co 6,17. “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
For the conjunction suffers the two no longer to be two, but makes them both one.
[2.] Now mark again, how he proceeds by means of the bare terms, conducting his accusation in the names of the harlot and of Christ.
1Co 6,18. “Flee fornication.”
(He said not, “abstain from fornication,” but “Flee:” that is, with all zeal make to yourselves deliverance from that evil. “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” This is less than what went before; but since he had to speak of fornicators, he amplifies that guilt by topics drawn from all quarters, from greater things and smaller alike, making the charge heinous. And, in fact, that former topic was addressed to the more religious, but this to the weaker sort. For this also is characteristic of the wisdom of Paul, not only to allege the great things wherewith to abash men, but the lesser also, and the consideration of what is disgraceful and unseemly.
“What then,” say you, “does not the murderer stain his hand? What, of the covetous person and the extortioner?” I suppose it is plain to every one. But since it was not possible to mention anything worse than the fornicator, he amplifies the crime in another way, by saying that in the fornicator the entire body becomes defiled. For it is as polluted as if it had fallen into a vessel of filth, and been immersed in defilement. And this too is our way. For from covetousness and extortion no one would make haste to go into a bath, but as if nothing had happened returns to his house. Whereas from intercourse with a harlot, as having become altogether unclean, he goes to a bath. To such a degree does the conscience retain from this sin a kind of sense of unusual shame. Both however are bad, both covetousness and fornication; and both cast into hell. But as Paul doeth every thing with good management, so by whatever topics he had he magnified the sin of fornication.
1802 [3.] 1Co 6,19. “Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” He did not merely say, “of the Spirit,” but, “which is in you;” which was the part of one who also was soothing. And again, explaining himself still further, he added, “which ye have from God.” He mentioned Him that gave also, both exalting the hearer and putting him in fear, both by the magnitude Of the deposit, and by the munificence of Him that made it.
“And ye are not you own.” This is not only to abash, but even to force men towards virtue. “For why,” says he; “doest thou what thou wilt? thou art not thine own master.” But these things he said, not to take away free-will. For so in saying, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient,” he does not take away our liberty. And hereagain, writing, “Ye are not your own;” he makes no infringement upon freedom of choice, but he leads away from vice and indicates the guardian care of the Lord. And therefore he added, “For ye were bought with a price.”
“But if I am not my own, upon what ground do you demand of me duties to be done? And why do you go on to say again, “Glorify God therefore in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s?” What then is the meaning of, “ye are not your own?” And what does he wish to prove thereby? To settle them in a state of security against sin, and against following the improper desires of the mind. For indeed we have many improper wishes: but we must repress them, for we can. And if we could not, exhortation would be in vain. Mark, accordingly, how he secures his ground. For having said, “Ye are not your own,” he adds not, “But are under compulsion;” but, “Ye were bought with a price.” Why sayest thou this? Surely on another ground, one might say perhaps, you should have persuaded men, pointing out that we have a Master. But this is common to the Greeks also together with us: whereas the expression, “Ye were bought with a price,” belongs to us peculiarly. For he reminds us of the greatness of the benefit and of the mode of our salvation, signifying that when we were alienated, we were “bought:” and not simply “bought,” but, “with a price.”
“Glorify then, take up and bear, God in your body, and in your spirit.” Now these things he says, that we may not only flee fornication in the body, but also in the spirit of our mind abstain from every wicked thought, and from driving away grace.
“Which are God’s.” For as he had said “your,” he added therefore, “which are God’s:” continually reminding us that all things belong to the Lord, both body and soul and spirit: For some say, that the words “in the spirit” mean the gracious Gift; for if That be in us, God is glorified. And this will be, if we have a clean heart.
But He has spoken of these things as God’s, not only because He brought them into being, but also because, when they were alienated, Hewon them again a second time, paying as the price, the blood of the Son. Mc how He brought the whole to completion in Christ, how He raised us up into heaven. “Ye are members of Christ,” saith he, “ye are a temple of the Spirit.” Become not then “members of a harlot:” for it is not your body which is insulted; since it is not your body at all, but Christ’s. And these things he spake, both to make manifest His loving-kindness in that our body is His, and to withdraw us from all evil license. For if the body be another’s, “you have no authority,” says he, “to insult another’s body; and especially when it is the Lord’s; nor yet to pollute a temple of the Spirit.” For if any one who invades a private house and makes his way revelling into it, must answer for it most severely; think what dreadful things he shall endure who makes a temple of the King a robber’s lurking place.
Considering these things therefore, reverence thou Him that dwelleth within. For the Paraclete is He. Thrill before Him that is enfolded and cleaves unto thee; for Christ is He. Hast thou indeed made thyself members of Christ? Think thus, and continue chaste; whose members they were, and Whose they have become. Erewhile they were members of an harlot, and Christ hath made them members of His own Body. Thou hast therefore henceforth no authority over them. Serve Him that hath set thee free.
For supposing you had a daughter, and in extreme madness had let her out to a procurer for hire, and made her live a harlot’s life, and then a king’s son were to pass by, and free her from that slavery, and join her in marriage to himself; you could have no power thenceforth to bring her into the brothel. For you gave her up once for all, and sold her. Such as this is our case also. We let out our own flesh for hire unto the Devil, that grievous procurer: Christ saw and set it free, and withdrew it from that evil tyranny; it is not then ours any more but His who delivered it. If you be willing to use it as a King’s bride, there is none to hinder; but if you bring it where it was before, you will suffer just what they ought who are guilty of such outrages. Wherefore you should rather adorn instead of disgracing it. For you have no authority over the flesh in the wicked lusts, but in those things alone which God may enjoin. Let the thought enter your mind at least from what great outrage God hath delivered it. For in truth never did any harlot expose herself so shamefully as our nature before this. For robberies, murders, and every wicked thought entered in and lay with the soul, and for a small and vulgar hire, the present pleasure. For the soul, being mixed up with all wicked devices and deeds, reaped this reward and no other.
1803 However, in the time before this, bad though it were to be such as these, it was not so bad: but after heaven, after the King’s courts, after partaking of the tremendous Mysteries, again to be contaminated, what pardon shall this have? Or, dost thou not think that the covetous too, and all those whom he recounted before, have the Devil to lie with them? And dost thou not judge that the women who beautify themselves for pollution have intercourse with him? Why, who shall gainsay this word? But if any be contentious, let him uncover the soul of the women who behave in this unseemly manner, and he will surely see that the wicked demon closely entwined with them. For it is hard, brethren, it is hard, perchance even impossible, when the body is thus beautified, for the soul to be beautified at the same time: but one must needs be neglected, while the other is cared for. For nature does not allow these to take place together.
[4.] Wherefore he saith, “He that is joined to a harlot is one body; but he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.” For such an one becomes thenceforth Spirit, although a body envelope him. For when nothing corporeal nor gross nor earthly is around him, the body doth but merely envelope him; since the whole government of him is in the soul and the Spirit. In this way God is glorified. Wherefore both in the Prayer we are commanded to say, “Hallowed be Thy Name:” and Christ saith also, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
(So do the heavens also glorify Him, uttering no voice, but by the view of them attracting wonder and referring the glory unto the Great Artificer. So let us glorify Him also, or rather more than they. For we can if we will. For not so much do the heaven nor day nor night glorify God, as a holy soul. For as one that gazeth upon the beauty of the heaven, saith, “Glory be to Thee, O God! How fair a work hast thou formed!” so too when beholding virtue in any man: nay, and much more so in the latter instance. For from these works of creation all do not glorify God; but many even assert that the things which exist are self-moving: and others impute to demons the workmanship of the world and providence; and these indeed greatly and unpardonably err: but in regard to the virtue of man, no one shall have power to hold these shameless opinions, but shall assuredly glorify God when he seeth him that serveth Him living in goodness. For who shall help being astonished when one being a man, and partaking of our common nature, and living among other men, like adamant yields not at all to the swarm of passions? When being in the midst of fire and iron and wild beasts, he is even harder than adamant and vanquishes all for the Word of godliness’ sake? when he is injured, and blesses; when he is evil reported of, and praises;when he is despitefully used, and prays for those who injure him; when he is plotted against, and does good to those that fight with him and lay snares for him? For these things, and such as these, will glorify God far more than the heaven. For the Greeks when they behold the heavens feel no awe; but when they see a holy man exhibiting a severe course of life with all strictness, they shrink away and condemn themselves. Since when he that partakes of the same nature as themselves is so much above them, a great deal more so than the heaven is above the earth, even against their inclination they think that it is a Divine power which works these things. Wherefore He saith, “And glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
[5.] Wilt thou learn also from another place how by the life of His servants God is glorified, and how by miracles? Nebuchadnezzar once threw the Three Children into the furnace. Then when he saw that the fire had not prevailed over them, he saith, (Da 3,28LXX). ek th" kaminou added). “Blessed be God, who hath sent His Angel, and delivered his servants out of the furnace, because they trusted in Him and have changed the word of the king.” “How sayest thou? Hast thou been despised, and dost thou admire those who have spit upon you?” “Yes,” saith he, “and for this very reason, that I was despised.” And of the marvel he gives this reason. So that not because of the miracle alone was glory given to God at that time, but also because of the purpose of those who have been thrown in. Now if any one would examine this point and the other, as they are in themselves, this will appear not less than that: for to persuade souls to brave a furnace is not less in respect of the wonder than to deliver from a furnace. For how can it be otherwise than astonishing for the Emperor of the world, with so many arms around him, and legions, and generals, and viceroys, and consuls, and land and sea subject to his sway, to be despised by captive children; for the bound to overcome the binder and conquer all that army? Neither was there any power in the king and his company to do what they would, no, not even with the furnaces for an ally. But they who were naked, and slaves, and strangers, and few, (for what number could be more contemptible than three?) being in chains, vanquished an innumerable army. For already now was death despised, since Christ was henceforth about to sojourn in the world. And as when the sun is on the point of rising, even before his rays appear the light of the day groweth bright; so also when then the Sun of Righteousness was about to come, death henceforth began to withdraw himself. What could be more splendid than that theatre? What more conspicuous than that victory? What more signal than those new trophies of theirs?
1804 The same thing is done in our time also. Even now is there a king of the Babylonish furnace, even now he kindles a flame fiercer than that. There is even now such an image, and one who giveth command to admire it. At his side are satraps and soldiers and bewitching music. And many gaze in admiration upon this image, so varied, so great. For somewhat of the same kind of thing as that image is covetousness, which doth not despise even iron, but unlike as the materials are whereof it is composed, it giveth command to admire all, both brass and iron, and things much more ordinary than they.
But as these things are, so also even now are there some who are emulous of these children: who say, “thy gods we serve not, and thine images we worship not;” but both the furnace of poverty we endure and all other distress, for the sake of God’s laws.” And the wealthy for their part, even as those at that time, oftentimes, worship this image too and are burnt. But those who possess nothing despite even this, and although in poverty, are more in the dew than those who live in affluence. Even as at that time they who cast into the fire were burnt up; but those in the midst of it found themselves in dew as it were rain. Then also that tyrant was more burnt up with the flame, his wrath kindling him violently, than those children. As to them, the fire had no power even to touch the ends of their hair: but more fiercely than that fire did wrath burn up his mind. For consider what a thing it was that with so many to look on, he should be scorned by captive children. And it was a sign that his taking their city also had not been through his own might, but by reason of the sin of the multitude among them. Since if he had not the power to overcome these men in chains, and that when they were cast into a furnace, how could he have overcome the Jews in regular warfare, had they been all such as these? From which it is plain that the sins of the multitude betrayed the city.
[6.] But mark also the children’s freedom from vain-glory. For they did not leap into the furnace, but they kept beforehand the commandment of Christ where he says, (St. Mt 26,41) “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” Neither did they shrink when they were brought to it; but stood in the midst nobly, neither contending without a summons, nor yet when summoned playing the coward: but ready for everything, and noble, and full of all boldness of speech.
But let us hear also what they say, that from this also we may learn their lofty spirit. (Da 3,17) “There is a God in heaven able to deliver us:” they take no care for themselves, but even when about to be burned the glory of God is all their thought. For what they say comes to this, “Lest perchance if we are burnt thou shouldest charge God with weakness, we now declare unto thee accurately our whole doctrine. “There is a God in heaven,” not such as this image here on earth, this lifeless and mute thing, but able to snatch even from the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Condemn him not then of weakness for permitting us to fall into it. So powerful is He that after our fall, He is able to snatch us out again out of the flame. “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Observe that they by a special dispensation are ignorant of the future: for if they had foreknown, there would have been nothing wonderful in their doing what they did. For what marvel is it if when they had a guarantee for safety, they defied all terrors? Then God indeed would have been glorified in that He was able to deliver from the furnace: but they would not have been wondered at, inasmuch as they would not have east themselves into any dangers. For this cause He suffered them to be ignorant of the future that He might glorify them the more. And as they cautioned (hsyalxonto) the king that he was not to condemn God of weakness though they might be burnt, so God accomplished both purposes; the shewing forth His own power and the causing the zeal of the children to appear more conspicuous.
From whence then arose their doubting and their not feeling confident that they should at all events be preserved? Because they esteemed themselves assuredly too mean, and unworthy of such a benefit. And to prove that I say not this upon conjecture; when they fell into the furnace, they bewailed themselves after this sort, saying, (Song of the three Children vv. 6, 10). “We have sinned, we have done iniquity, we cannot open our mouth.” And therefore they said, “But if not.” But if they did not plainly say this, namely, “God is able to deliver us; but if he deliver us not, for our sin’s sake He will not deliver us;” wonder not at it. For they would have seemed to the barbarians to be sheltering the weakness of God under the pretext of their own sins. Wherefore His power only is what they speak of: the reason they allege not. And besides, they were well disciplined not to be over-curious about the judgments of God.
With these words then, they entered into the fire; and they neither cast insult upon the king, nor overturned the statue. For such should the courageous man be, temperate and mild; and that especially in dangers; that he may not seem to go forth to such contests in wrath and vain-glory; but with fortitude and self-possession. For whoso deals insolently undergoes the suspicion of those faults: but he that endures, and is forced into the struggle, and goes through the trial with meekness, is not only admired as brave, but his self-possession also and consideration cause him to be no less extolled. And this is what they did at that time; shewing forth all fortitude and gentleness, and doing nothing for reward nor for recompense or return. “’Though He be not willing ‘so it stands’ to deliver us, we will not serve thy gods:’ for we have already our recompense in that we are counted worthy to be kept from all impiety, and for that end to give our bodies to be burned.”
We then also having already our recompense, (for indeed we have it in that we have been vouchsafed the full knowledge of Him, vouch-safed to be made members of Christ,) let us take care that we make them not members of an harlot. For with this most tremendous saying we must conclude our discourse, in order that having the fear of the threat in full efficacy, we may remain purer than gold, this fear helping to make us so. For so shall we be able, delivered from all fornication, to see Christ. Whom God grant us all to behold with boldness at that day, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to Whom be the glory, for evermore. Amen).
Chrysostom on 1Cor 1700