A SELECT LIBRARY
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
HOMILIES ON THE EPISTLES TO THE EPHESIANS, PHILIPPIANS, COLOSSIANS, THESSALONIANS, AND THE EPISTLES TO TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND PHILEMON
The Oxford Translation Revised, with Additional Notes, By
(Ap Jn a. Broadus, D.D.
President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
100 and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossae: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father.” Col 1,1-2
101 Holy indeed are all the Epistles of Paul: but some advantage have those which he sent after he was in bonds: those, for instance, to the Ephesians and Philemon: that to Timothy, that to the Philippians, and the one before us: for this also was sent when he was a prisoner, since he writes in it thus: “for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.” (Col 4,3-4). But this Epistle appears to have been written after that to the Romans. For the one to the Romans he wrote before he had seen them, but this Epistle, after; and near upon the close of his preaching. And it is evident from hence; that in the Epistle to Philemon he says, “Being such an one as Paul the aged” (Phm 1,9), and makes request for Onesimus; but in this he sends Onesimus himself, as he says, “With Onesimus the faithful and beloved brother” (Col 4,9): calling him faithful, and beloved, and brother. Wherefore also he boldly says in this Epistle, “from the hope of the Gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven.” (Col 1,23). For it had now been preached for a long time. I think then that the Epistle to Timothy was written after this; and when he was now come to the very end of his life, for there he says, “for I am already being offered” (2Tm 4,6); this is later however than that to the Philippians, for in that Epistle he was just entering upon his imprisonment at Rome.
But why do I say that these Epistles have some advantage over the rest in this respect, because he writes while in bonds? As if a champion were to write in the midst of carnage and victory; so also in truth did he. For himself too was aware that this was a great thing, for writing to Philemon he saith, “Whom I have begotten in my bonds.” (Phm 1,10) And this he said, that we should not be dispirited when in adversity, but even rejoice. At this place was Philemon with these (Colossians). For in the Epistle to him he saith, “And to Archippus our fellow-soldier” (Phm 1,2); and in this, “Say to Archippus.” (Col 4,17) This man seems to me to have been charged with some office in the Church.
But he had not seen either these people, or the Romans, or the Hebrews, when he wrote to them. That this is true of the others, he shows in many places; with regard to the Colossians, hear him saying, “And as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” (Col 2,1 Col 2,5): and again, “Though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit.” So great a thing did he know his presence everywhere to be. And always, even though he be absent, he makes himself present. So, when he punishes the fornicator, look how he places himself on the tribunal; “for,” he saith, “I verily being absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already as though I were present” (1Co 5,3): and again, “I will come to you, and will know not the word of them which are puffed up, but the power” (1Co 4,19): and again, “Not only when I am present with you, but much more when I am absent.” (Ph 2,12 Ga 4,18)
“Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.”
It were well also to say, what from considering this Epistle we have found to be its occasion and subject. What then is it? They used to approach God through angels; they held many Jewish and Grecian observances. These things then he is correcting. Wherefore in the very outset he says, “Through the will of God.” So here again he hath used the expression “through.” “And Timothy the brother,” he saith; of course then he too was an Apostle, and probably also known to them. “To the saints which are at Colossae.” This was a city of Phrygia, as is plain from Laodicea’s being near to it. “And faithful brethren in Christ.” (Col 4,16) Whence, saith he art thou made a saint? Tell me. Whence art thou called faithful? Is it not because thou wert sanctified through death? Is it not because thou hast faith in Christ? Whence art thou made a brother? for neither in deed, nor in word, nor in achievement didst thou show thyself faithful. Tell me, whence is it that thou hast been entrusted with so great mysteries? Is it not because of Christ?
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Whence cometh grace to you? Whence peace? “From God,” saith he, “our Father.” Although he useth not in this place the name of Christ.
I will ask those who speak disparagingly of the Spirit, Whence is God the Father of servants? Who wrought these mighty achievements? Who made thee a saint? Who faithful? Who a son of God? He who made thee worthy to be trusted, the same is also the cause of thy being entrusted with all.
102 For we are called faithful, not only because we have faith, but also because we are entrusted of God with mysteries which not even angels knew before us. However, to Paul it was indifferent whether or not to put it thus.
Col 1,3. “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(He seems to me to refer everything to the Father, that what he has to say may not at once offend them).
“Praying always for you.”
(He shows his love, not by giving thanks only, but also by continual prayer, in that those whom he did not see, he had continually within himself.
Col 1,4. [“Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.”
A little above he said, “our Lord.” “He,” saith he, “is Lord, not the servants.” “Of Jesus Christ.” These names also are symbols of His benefit to us, for “He,” it means, “shall save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1,21).]
Col 1,4. “Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have toward all the saints.”
Already he conciliates them. It was Epaphroditus who brought him this account. But he sends the Epistle by Tychicus, retaining Epaphroditus with himself. “And of the love,” he saith, “which ye have toward all the saints,” not toward this one and that: of course then toward us also.
Col 1,5. “Because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens.”
(He speaks of the good things to come. This is with a view to their temptations, that they should not seek their rest here. For lest any should say, “And where is the good of their love toward the saints, if they themselves are in affliction?” he says, “We rejoice that ye are securing for yourselves a noble reception in heaven.” “Because of the hope,” he saith, “which is laid up.” He shows its secureness. “Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth.” Here the expression is as if he would chide them, as having changed from it when they had long held it.
“Whereof,” saith he, “ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel.” And he bears witness to its truth. With good reason, for in it there is nothing false.
“Of the Gospel.” He doth not say, “of the preaching,” but he calleth it the “Gospel,” continually reminding them of God’s benefits. And having first praised them, he next reminds them of these.
Col 1,6. “Which is come unto you, even as it is also in all the world.”
(He now gives them credit. “Is come,” he said metaphorically. He means, it did not come and go away, but that it remained, and was there. Then because to the many the strongest confirmation of doctrines is that they hold them in common with many, he therefore added, “As also it is in all the world.”
It is present everywhere, everywhere victorious, everywhere established.
“And is bearing fruit, and increasing, as it doth in you also.”
“Bearing fruit.” In works. “Increasing.” By the accession of many, by becoming firmer; for plants then begin to thicken when they have become firm.
“As also among you,” says he.
(He first gains the hearer by his praises, so that even though disinclined, he may not refuse to hear him.
“Since the day ye heard it.”
Marvelous! that ye quickly came unto it and believed; and straightway, from the very first, showed forth its fruits.
“Since the day ye heard, and knew the grace of God in truth.”
Not in word, saith he, nor in deceit, but in very deeds. Either then this is what he means by “bearing fruit,” or else, the signs and wonders. Because as soon as ye received it, so soon ye knew the grace of God. What then forthwith gave proofs of its inherent virtue, is it not a hard thing that that should now be disbelieved?
Col 1,7. “Even as ye learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant.”
He, it is probable, had preached there. “Ye learned” the Gospel. Then to show the trust-worthiness of the man, he says, “our fellow servant.”
“Who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”
Doubt not, he saith, of the hope which is to come: ye see that the world is being converted. And what need to allege the cases of others? what happened in your own is even independently a sufficient ground for belief, for, “ye knew the grace of God in truth:” that is, in works. So that these two things, viz. the belief of all, and your own too, confirm the things that are to come. Nor was the fact one thing, and what Epaphras said, another. “Who is,” saith he, “faithful,” that is, true. How, “a minister on your behalf”? In that he had gone to him. “Who also declared to us,” saith he, “your love in the Spirit,” that is, the spiritual love ye bear us. If this man be the minister of Christ; how say ye, that you approach God by angels? “Who also declared unto us,” saith he, “your love in the Spirit.” For this love is wonderful and steadfast; all other has but the name. And there are some persons who are not of this kind, but such is not friendship, wherefore also it is easily dissolved.
103 There are many causes which produce friendship; and we will pass over those which are infamous, (for none will take an objection against us in their favor, seeing they are evil). But let us, if you will, review those which are natural, and those which arise out of the relations of life. Now of the social sort are these, for instance; one receives a kindness, or inherits a friend from forefathers, or has been a companion at table or in travel: or is neighbor to another (and these are virtuous); or is of the same trade, which last however is not sincere; for it is attended by a certain emulation and envy. But the natural are such as that of father to son, son to father, brother to brother, grandfather to descendant, mother to children, and if you like let us add also that of wife to husband; for all matrimonial attachments are also of this life, and earthly. Now these latter appear stronger than the former: appear, I said, because often they are surpassed by them. For friends have at times shown a more genuinely kind disposition than brothers, or than sons toward fathers; and when he whom a man hath begotten would not succor him, one who knew him not has stood by him, and succored him. But the spiritual love is higher than all, as it were some queen ruling her subjects; and in her form is bright: for not as the other, hath she aught of earth for her parent; neither habitual intercourse, nor benefits, nor nature, nor time; but she descendeth from above, out of heaven. And why wonderest thou that she needeth no benefits in order that she should subsist, seeing that neither by injuries is she overthrown?
Now that this love is greater than the other, hear Paul saying; “For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren.” (Rm 9,3) What father would have thus wished himself in misery? And again, “To depart, and to be with Christ” is “very far better; yet to abide in the flesh” is “more needful for your sake.” (Ph 1,23-24) What mother would have chosen so to speak, regardless of herself? And again hear him saying, “For being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart.” (1Th 2,17). And here indeed [in the world], when a father hath been insulted, he withdraws his love; not so however there, but he went to those who stoned him, seeking to do them good. For nothing, nothing is so strong as the bond of the Spirit. For he who became a friend from receiving benefits, will, should these be discontinued, become an enemy; he whom habitual intercourse made inseparable, will, when the habit is broken through, let his friendship become extinct. A wife again, should a broil have taken place, will leave her husband, and withdraw affection; the son, when he sees his father living to a great age, is dissatisfied. But in case of spiritual love there is nothing of this. For by none of these things can it be dissolved; seeing it is not composed out of them. Neither time, nor length of journey, nor ill usage, nor being evil spoken of, nor anger, nor insult, nor any other thing, make inroads upon it, nor have the power of dissolving it. And that thou mayest know this Moses was stoned, and yet he made entreaty for them. (Ex 17,4). What father would have done this for one that stoned him, and would not rather have stoned him too to death?
Let us then follow after these friendships which are of the Spirit, for they are strong, and hard to be dissolved, and not those which arise from the table, for these we are forbidden to carry in Thither. For hear Christ saying in the Gospel, Call not thy friends nor thy neighbors, if thou makest a feast, but the lame, the maimed. (Lc 14,12). With reason: for great is the recompense for these. But thou canst not, nor endurest to feast with lame and blind, but thinkest it grievous and offensive, and refusest. Now it were indeed best that thou shouldest not refuse, however it is not necessary to do it. If thou seatest them not with thee, send to them of the dishes on thy own table. And he that inviteth his friends, hath done no great thing: for he hath received his recompense here. But he that called the maimed, and poor, hath God for his Debtor. Let us then not repine when we receive not a reward here, but when we do receive; for we shall have nothing more to receive There. In like manner, if man recompense, God recompenseth not; if man recompense not, then God will recompense. Let us then not seek those out for our benefits, who have it in their power to requite us again, nor bestow our favors on them with such an expectation: this were a cold thought. If thou invite a friend, the gratitude lasts till evening; and therefore the friendship for the nonce is spent more quickly than the expenses are paid. But if thou call the poor and the maimed, never shall the gratitude perish, for God, who remembereth ever, and never forgetteth, thou hast even Him for thy Debtor. What squeamishness is this, pray, that thou canst not sit down in company with the poor? What sayest thou? He is unclean and filthy? Then wash him, and lead him up to thy table. But he hath filthy garments? Then change them, and give him clean apparel. Seest thou not how great the gain is? Christ cometh unto thee through him, and dost thou make petty calculations of such things? When thou art inviting the King to thy table, dost thou fear because of such things as these?
104 Let us suppose two tables, and let one be filled with those, and have the blind, the halt, the maimed in hand or leg, the barefoot, those clad with but one scanty garment, and that worn out: but let the other have grandees, generals, governors, great officers, arrayed in costly robes, and fine lawn, belted with golden girdles. Again, here at the table of the poor let there be neither silver, nor store of wine, but just enough to refresh and gladden, and let the drinking cups and the rest of the vessels be made from glass only; but there, at the table of the rich, let all the vessels be of silver and gold, and the semicircular table, not such as one person can lift, but as two young men can with difficulty move, and the wine-jars lie in order, glittering far beyond the silver with gold, and let the semicircle be smoothly laid all over with soft drapery. Here, again, let there be many servants, in garments not less ornamented than those of the guests, and bravely appareled, and wearing loose trowsers, men beauteous to look upon, in the very flower of life, plump, and well conditioned; but there let there be only two servants disdaining all that proud vanity. And let those have costly meats, but these only enough to appease hunger and inspire cheerfulness. Have I said enough? and are both tables laid out with sufficient minuteness? Is anything wanting? I think not. For I have gone over the guests, and the costliness both of the vessels, and of the linen, and the meats. However, if we should have omitted aught, we shall discover it as we proceed with the discourse).
Come then, now that we have correctly drawn each table in its proper outline, let us see at which ye will seat yourselves. For I for my part am going to that of the blind, and the lame, but probably the more part of you will choose the other, that of the generals, that is so gay and splendid. Let us then see which of them doth more abound in pleasure; for as yet let us not examine into the things of hereafter, seeing that in those at least this of mine hath the superiority. Wherefore? Because this one hath sitting down at it, the other men, this hath the Master, that the servants. But say we nothing of these things as yet; but let us see which hath the more of present pleasure. And even in this respect, then, this pleasure is greater, for it is more pleasure to sit down with a King than with his servants. But let us withdraw this consideration also; let us examine the matter simply by itself. I, then, and those who choose the table I do, shall with much freedom and ease of mind both say and hear everything: but you trembling and fearing, and ashamed before those you sit down with, will not even have the heart to reach out your hands, just as though you had got to a school, and not a dinner, just as though you were trembling before dreadful masters. But not so they. But, saith one, the honor is great. Nay, I further am in more honor; for your mean estate appears grander, when even whilst sharing the same table, the words ye utter are those of slaves.
For the servant then most of all shows as such, when he sits down with his master; for he is in a place where he ought not to be; nor hath he from such familiarity so much dignity as he hath abasement, for he is then abased exceedingly. And one may see a servant by himself make a brave appearance, and the poor man seem splendid by himself, rather than when he is walking with a rich one; for the low when near the lofty, then appears low, and the juxtaposition makes the low seem lower, not loftier. So too your sitting down with them makes you seem as of yet meaner condition. But not so, us. In these two things, then, we have the advantage, in freedom, and in honor; which have nothing equal to them in regard of pleasure. For I at least would prefer a crust with freedom, to thousands of dainties with slavery. For, saith one, “Better is an entertainment of herbs with love and kindness, than an ox from the stall with hatred.” (Pr 15,17). For whatsoever those may say, they who are present must needs praise it, or give offense; assuming thus the rank of parasites, or rather, being worse than they. For parasites indeed, even though it be with shame and insult, have yet liberty of speech: but ye have not even this. But your meanness is indeed as great, (for ye fear and crouch,) but not so your honor. Surely then that table is deprived of every pleasure, but this is replete with all delight of soul.
105 But let us examine the nature even of the meats themselves. For there indeed it is necessary to burst one’s self with the large quantity of wine, even against one’s will, but here none who is disinclined need eat or drink. So that there indeed the pleasure arising from the quality of the food is cancelled by the dishonor which precedes, and the discomfort which follows the surfeit. For not less than hunger doth surfeiting destroy and rack our bodies; but even far more grievously; and whomsoever you like to give me, I shall more easily destroy by bursting him with surfeit than by hunger. For thus the latter is easier to be borne than the other, for one might indeed endure hunger for twenty days, but surfeiting not for as many as two only. And the country people who are perpetually struggling with the one, are healthy, and need no physicians; but the other, surfeiting I mean, none can endure without perpetually calling in physicians; yea, rather, its tyranny hath often baffled even their attempt to rescue.
(So far then as pleasure is concerned, this [table of mine] hath the advantage. For if honor hath more pleasure than dishonor, if authority than subjection, and if manly confidence than trembling and fear, and if enjoyment of what is enough, than to be plunged out of depth in the tide of luxury; on the score of pleasure this table is better than the other. It is besides better in regard of expense; for the other is expensive, but this, not so.
But what? is it then to the guests alone that this table is the more pleasurable, or bringeth it more pleasure than the other to him who inviteth them, as well? for this is what we are enquiring after rather. Now he who invites those makes preparation many days before, and is forced to have trouble and anxious thoughts and cares, neither sleeping by night, nor resting by day; but forming with himself many plans, conversing with cooks, confectioners, deckers of tables. Then when the very day is come, one may see him in greater fear than those who are going to fight a boxing match, lest aught should turn out other than was expected, lest he be shot with the glance of envy, test he thereby procure himself a multitude of accusers. But the other escapeth all this anxious thought and trouble by extemporizing his table, and not being careful about it for many days before. And then, truly, after this, the former indeed hath straightway lost the grateful return; but the other hath God for his Debtor; and is nourished with good hopes, being every day feasted from off that table. For the meats indeed are spent, but the grateful thought is never spent, but every day he rejoices and exults more than they that are gorged with their excess of wine. For nothing doth so nourish the soul as a virtuous hope, and the expectation of good things.
But now let us consider what follows. There indeed are flutes, and harps, and pipes; but here is no music of sounds unsuitable; but what? hymns, singing of psalms. There indeed the Demons are hymned; but here, the Lord of all, God. Seest thou with what gratitude this one aboundeth, with what ingratitude and insensibility that? For, tell me, when God hath nourished thee with His good things, and when thou oughtest to give Him thanks after being fed, dost thou even introduce the Demons? For these songs to the lyre, are none other than songs to Demons. When thou oughtest to say, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, that Thou hast nourished me with Thy good things,” dost thou like a worthless dog not even so much as remember Him, but, over and above, introducest the Demons? Nay rather, dogs, whether they receive anything or not, fawn upon those they know, but thou dost not even this. The dog, although he receives nothing, fawns upon his master; but thou, even when thou hast received, barkest at Him. Again, the dog, even though he be well treated by a stranger, not even so will be reconciled of his hatred of him, nor be enticed on to be friends with him: but thou, even though suffering mischief incalculable from the Demons, introducest them at thy feasts. So that, in two ways, thou art worse than the dog. And the mention I have now made of dogs is happy, in regard of those who give thanks then only when they receive a benefit. Take shame, I pray you, at the dogs, which when furnishing still fawn upon their masters. But thou, if thou hast haply heard that the Demon has cured anyone, straightway forsakest thy Master; O more unreasoning than the dogs!
But, saith one, the harlots are a pleasure to look upon. What sort of pleasure are they? yea rather what infamy are they not? Thy house has become a brothel, madness, and fury; and art thou not ashamed to call this pleasure? If then it be allowed to use them, greater than all pleasure is the shame, and the discomfort which arises from the shame, to make one’s house a brothel, like hogs in wallowing in the mire? But if so far only be allowed as to see them, lo! again the pain is greater. For to see is no pleasure, where to use is not allowed, but the lust becomes only the greater, and the flame the fiercer.
But wouldest thou learn the end? Those, indeed, when they rise up from the table, are like the madmen and those that have lost their wits; foolhardy, quarrelsome, laughing-stocks for the very slaves; and the servants indeed retire sober, but these, drunk. O the shame! But with the other is nothing of this sort; but closing the table with thanksgiving, they so retire to their homes, with pleasure sleeping, with pleasure waking, free from all shame and accusation.
106 If thou wilt consider also the guests themselves, thou wilt see that the one are within just what the others are without; blind, maimed, lame; and as are the bodies of these, such are the souls of those, laboring under dropsy and inflammation. For of such sort is pride; for after the luxurious gratification a maiming takes place; of such sort is surfeiting and drunkenness, making men lame and maimed. And thou wilt see too that these have souls like the bodies of the others, brilliant, ornamented. For they who live in giving of thanks, who seek nothing beyond a sufficiency, they whose philosophy is of this sort are in all brightness.
But let us see the end both here and there. There, indeed, is unchaste pleasure, loose laughter, drunkenness, buffoonery, filthy language; (for since they in their own persons are ashamed to talk filthily, this is brought about by means of the harlots;) but here is love of mankind, gentleness. Near to him who invites those stands vainglory arming him, but near the other, love of man, and gentleness. For the one table, love of man prepareth, but the other, vainglory, and cruelty, out of injustice and grasping. And that one ends in what I have said, in loss of wits, in delirium, in madness; (for such are the offshoots of vainglory;) but this one in thanksgiving and the glory of God. And the praise too, which cometh of men, attendeth more abundantly upon this; for that man is even regarded with an envious eye, but this all men regard as their common father, even they who have received no benefit at his hands. And as with the injured even they who have not been injured sympathize, and all become in common enemies (to the injurer): so too, when some receive kindness, they also who have not received any, not less than they who have, praise and admire him that conferred it. And there indeed is much envy, but here much tender solicitude, many prayers from all.
And so much indeed here; but There, when Christ is come, this one indeed shall stand with much boldness, and shall hear before the whole world, “Thou sawest Me an hungered, and didst feed Me; naked, and didst clothe Me; a stranger, and didst take Me in” (Mt 25,35); and all the like words: but the other shall hear the contrary; “Wicked and slothful servant” (Mt 25,26); and again, “Woe unto them that luxuriate upon their couches, and sleep upon beds of ivory, and drink the refined wine, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; they counted upon these things as staying, and not as fleeting.” (Am 6,4-6)), Sept).
I have not said this without purpose, but with the view of changing your minds; and that you should do nothing that is fruitless. What then, saith one, of the fact that I do both the one and the other? This argument is much resorted to by all. And what need, tell me, when everything might be done usefully, to make a division, and to expend part on what is not wanted, but even without any purpose at all, and part usefully? Tell me, hadst thou, when sowing, cast some upon a rock, and some upon very good ground; is it likely that thou wouldest have been contented so, and have said, Where is the harm, if we cast some to no purpose, and some upon very good ground? For why not all into the very good ground? Why lessen the gain? And if thou have occasion to be getting money together, thou wilt not talk in that way, but wilt get it together from every quarter; but in the other case thou dost not so. And if to lend on usury; thou wilt not say, “Wherefore shall we give some to the poor, and some to the rich,” but all is given to the former: yet in the case before us, where the gain is so great, thou dost not thus calculate, and will not at length desist from expending without purpose, and laying out without return?
“But,” saith one, “this also hath a gain.” Of what kind, tell me? “It increaseth friendships.” Nothing is colder than men who are made friends by these things, by the table, and surfeiting. The friendships of parasites are born only from that source.
Insult not a thing so marvelous as love, nor say that this is its root. As if one were to say, that a tree which bore gold and precious stones had not its root of the same, but that it was gendered of rottenness; so doest even thou: for even though friendship should be born from that source, nothing could possibly be colder. But those other tables produce friendship, not with man, but with God; and that an intense one, so thou be intent on preparing them. For he that expendeth part in this way and part in that, even should he have bestowed much, hath done no great thing: but he that expendeth all in this way, even though he should have given little, hath done the whole. For what is required is that we give, not much or little, but not less than is in our power. Think we on him with the five talents, and on him with the two. (Mt 25,15). Think we on her who cast in those two mites. (Mc 12,41). Think we on the widow in Elijah’s days. She who threw in those two mites said not, What harm if I keep the one mite for myself, and give the other? but gave her whole living. (1R 17). But thou, in the midst of so great plenty, art more penurious than she. Let us then not be careless of our own salvation, but apply ourselves to almsgiving. For nothing is better than this, as the time to come shall show; meanwhile the present shows it also. Live we then to the glory of God, and do those things that please Him, that we may be counted worthy of the good things of promise; which may all we obtain, through the grace and love toward man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen).
200 do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding; to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Col 1,9-10
201 “For this cause.” What cause? Because we heard of your faith and love, because we have good hopes, we are hopeful to ask for future blessings also. For as in the games we cheer on those most who are near upon gaining the victory, just so doth Paul also most exhort those who have achieved the greater part.
“Since the day we heard it,” saith he, “we do not cease to pray for you.” Not for one day do we pray for you, nor yet for two, nor three. Herein he both shows his love, and gives them a gentle hint that they had not yet arrived at the end. For the words, “that ye may be filled,” are of this significancy. And observe, I pray, the prudence of this blessed one. He nowhere says that they are destitute of everything, but that they are deficient; everywhere the words, “that ye may be filled,” show this. And again, “unto all pleasing, in every good work” (Col 1,11), and again, “strengthened with all power,” and again, “unto all patience and long-suffering”; for the constant addition of “all” bears witness to their doing well in part, though, it might be, not in all. And, “that ye may be filled,” he saith; not, “that ye may receive,” for they had received; but “that ye may be filled” with what as yet was lacking. Thus both the rebuke was given without offense, and the praise did not suffer them to sink down, and become supine, as if it had been complete. But what is, “that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will”? That through the Son we should be brought unto Him, and no more through Angels. Now that ye must be brought unto Him, ye have learnt, but it remains for you to learn this, and why He sent the Son. For had it been that we were to have been saved by Angels, He would not have sent Him, would not have given Him up. “In all spiritual wisdom,” he saith, “and understanding.” For since the philosophers deceived them; I wish you, he saith, to be in spiritual wisdom, not after the wisdom of men. But if in order to know the will of God, there needs spiritual wisdom; to know His Essence what it is, there is need of continual prayers.
And Paul shows here, that since that time he has been praying, and has not yet prevailed, and yet has not desisted; for the words, “from the day we heard it,” show this. But it implies condemnation to them, if, from that time, even assisted by prayers, they had not amended themselves. “And making request,” he says, with much earnestness, for this the expression “ye knew” shows. But it is necessary still to know somewhat besides. “To walk worthily,” he says, “of the Lord.” Here he speaks of life and its works, for so he doth also everywhere: with faith he always couples conduct. “Unto all pleasing.” And how, “all pleasing”? “Bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Seeing, saith he, He hath fully revealed Himself unto you, and seeing ye have received knowledge so great; do ye then show forth a conduct worthy of the faith; for this needeth elevated conduct, greater far than the old dispensation. For, he that hath known God, and been counted worthy to be God’s servant, yea, rather, even His Son, see how great virtue he needeth. “Strengthened with all power.” He is here speaking of trials and persecutions. We pray that ye might be filled with strength, that ye faint not for sorrow, nor despair. “According to the might of His glory.” But that ye may take up again such forwardness as it becometh the power of His glory to give. “Unto all patience and long-suffering.” What he saith is of this sort. Summarily, he saith, we pray that ye may lead a life of virtue, and worthy of your citizenship, and may stand firmly, being strengthened as it is reasonable to be strengthened by God. For this cause he doth not as yet touch upon doctrines, but dwells upon life, wherein he had nothing to charge them with, and having praised them where praise was due, he then comes down to accusation. And this he does everywhere: when he is about writing to any with somewhat to blame them for, and somewhat to praise, he first praises them, and then comes down to his Charges. For he first conciliates the hearer, and frees his accusation from all suspicion, and shows that for his own part he could have been glad to praise them throughout; but by the necessity of the case is forced into saying what he does. And so he doth in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. For after having exceedingly praised them as loving him, even from the case of the fornicator, he comes down to accuse them. But in that to the Galatians not so, but the reverse. Yea, rather, if one should look close into it, even there the accusation follows upon praise. For seeing he had no good deeds of theirs then to speak of, and the charge was an exceeding grave one, and they were every one of them corrupted; and were able to bear it because they were strong, he begins with accusation, saying, “I marvel.” (Ga 1,6) So that this also is praise. But afterwards he praises them, not for what they were, but what they had been, saying, “If possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes, and given them to me.” (Ga 5,15).
“Bearing fruit,” he saith: this hath reference to works. “Strengthened”: this to trials. “Unto all patience and longsuffering”: long-suffering towards one another, patience towards those without. For longsuffering is toward those whom we can requite, but patience toward those whom we cannot. For this reason the term patient is never applied to God, but longsuffering frequently; as this same blessed one saith other where in his writings, “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering?” “Unto all pleasing.” Not, one while, and afterwards not so. “In all spiritual wisdom,” he saith, “and understanding.” For otherwise it is not possible to know His will. Although indeed they thought they had His will; but that wisdom was not spiritual. “To walk,” saith he, “worthily of the Lord.” For this is the way of the best life. For he that hath understood God’s love to man, (and he doth understand it if he have seen the Son delivered up,) will have greater forwardness. And besides, we pray not for this alone that ye may know, but that ye may show forth your knowledge in works; for he that knows without doing, is even in the way to punishment. “To walk,” he saith, that is, always, not once, but continually. As to walk is necessary for us, so also is to live rightly. And when on this subject he constantly uses the term “walk,” and with reason, showing that such is the life set before us. But not of this sort is that of the world. And great too is the praise. “To walk,” he saith, “worthily of the Lord,” and “in every good work,” so as to be always advancing, and nowhere standing still, and, with a metaphor, “bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God,” that ye might be in such measure “strengthened,” according to the might of God, as is possible for man to be. “Through His power,” great is the consolation.—He said not strength, but “power,” which is greater: “through the power,” he saith, “of His glory,” because that everywhere His glory hath the power. He thus comforts him that is under reproach: and again, “To walk worthily of the Lord.” He saith of the Son, that He hath the power everywhere both in heaven and in earth, because His glory reigneth everywhere. He saith not “strengthened” simply, but so, as they might be expected to be who are in the service of so strong a Master. “In the knowledge of God.” And at the same time he touches in passing upon the methods of knowledge; for this is to be in error, not to know God as one ought; or he means, so as to increase in the knowledge of God. For if he that hath not known the Son, knoweth not the Father either; justly is there need of increased knowledge: for there is no use in life without this. “Unto all patience and longsuffering,” he saith, “with joy, giving thanks” (Col 1,12) unto God. Then being about to exhort them, he makes no mention of what by and by shall be laid up for them; he did hint at this however in the beginning of the Epistle, saying, “Because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens” (Col 1,5): but in this place he mentions the things which were already theirs, for these are the causes of the other. And he doth the same in many places. For that which hath already come to pass gains belief, and more carries the hearer along with it. “With joy,” he saith, “giving thanks” to God. The connection is this. We cease not praying for you, and giving thanks for the benefits already received.
Seest thou how he bears himself along into speaking of the Son? For if “we give thanks with much joy,” it is a great thing that is spoken of. For it is possible to give thanks only from fear, it is possible to give thanks even when in sorrow. For instance; Jb gave thanks indeed, but in anguish; and he said, “The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away.” (Jb 1,21). For, let not any say that what had come to pass pained him not, nor clothed him with dejection of soul; nor let his great praise be taken away from that righteous one. But when it is thus, it is not for fear, nor because of His being Lord alone, but for the very nature of the things themselves, that we give thanks. “To Him who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” He hath said a great thing. What has been given, he saith, is of this nature; He hath not only given, but also made us strong to receive. Now by saying, “Who made us meet,” he showed that the thing was one of great weight. For example, were some low person to have become a king, he hath it in his power to give a governorship to whom he will; and this is the extent of his power, to give the dignity: he cannot also make the person fit for the office, and oftentimes the honor makes one so preferred even ridiculous. If however he have both conferred on one the dignity, and also made him fit for the honor, and equal to the administration, then indeed the thing is an honor. This then is what he also saith here; that He hath not only given us the honor, but hath also made us strong enough to receive it.
203 For the honor here is twofold, the giving, and the making fit for the gift. He said not, gave, simply; but, “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” that is, who hath appointed us a place with the saints. But he did not say simply placed us, but hath given us to enjoy even the very same things, for “the portion” is that which each one receives. For it is possible to be in the same city, and yet not enjoy the same things; but to have the same “portion,” and yet not enjoy the same, is impossible. It is possible to be in the same inheritance, and yet not to have the same portion; for instance, all we (clergy) are in the inheritance, but we have not all the same portion. But here he doth not say this, but with the inheritance adds the portion also. But why doth he call it inheritance (or lot)? To show that by his own achievements no one obtains the kingdom, but as a lot is rather the result of good luck, so in truth is it here also. For a life so good as to be counted worthy of the kingdom doth no one show forth, but the whole is of His free gift. Therefore He saith, “When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Lc 17,10). “To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,”—he means, both the future and the present light, —that is, in knowledge. He seems to me to be speaking at once of both the present and the future. Then he shows of what things we have been counted worthy. For this is not the only marvel, that we are counted worthy of the kingdom; but it should also be added who we are that are so counted; for it is not unimportant. And he doth this in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, but peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die.” (Rm 5,7).
Col 1,13. “Who delivered us,” he saith, “from the power of darkness.”
The whole is of Him, the giving both of these things and those; for nowhere is any achievement of ours. “From the power of darkness,” he saith, that is, of error, the dominion of the devil. He said not “darkness,” but “power”; for it had great power over us, and held us fast. For it is grievous indeed even to be under the devil at all, but to be so “with power,” this is far more grievous. “And translated us,” he saith, “into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Not then so as to deliver man from darkness only, did He show His love toward him. A great thing indeed is it to have delivered from darkness even; but to have brought into a kingdom too, is a far greater. See then how manifold the gift, that he hath delivered us who lay in the pit; in the second place, that He hath not only delivered us, but also hath translated us into a kingdom. “Who delivered us.” He said not, hath sent us forth, but “delivered”: showing our great misery, and their capture of us. Then to show also the ease with which the power of God works, he saith, “And translated us,” just as if one were to lead over a soldier from one position to another. And he said not, “hath led over”; nor yet “hath transposed,” for so the whole would be of him who transposed, nothing of him who went over; but he said, “translated” ; so that it is both of us and of Him. “Into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” He said not simply, “the kingdom of heaven,” but gave a grandeur to his discourse by saying, “The kingdom of the Son,” for no praise can be greater than this, as he saith elsewhere also: “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” (2Tm 2,12). He hath counted us worthy of the same things with the Son; and not only so, but what gives it greater force, with His Beloved Son. Those that were enemies, those that were in darkness, as it were on a sudden he had translated to where the Son is, to the same honor with Him. Nor was he content with only this, in order to show the greatness of the gift; he was not content with saying, “kingdom,” but he also added, “of the Son”; nor yet with this, but he added also “beloved”; nor yet with this, but he added yet, the dignity of His nature. For what saith he? “Who is the Image of the invisible God.” But he proceeded not to say this immediately, but meanwhile inserted the benefit which He bestowed upon us. For lest, when thou hearest that the whole is of the Father, thou shouldest suppose the Son excluded, he ascribes the whole to the Son, and the whole to the Father. For He indeed translated us, but the Son furnished the cause. For what saith he? “Who delivered us out of the power of darkness.” But the same is, “In whom we have the full redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.” For had we not been forgiven our sins, we should not have been “translated.” So here again the words, “In whom.” And he said not “redemption,” but “full redemption,” so that we shall not fall any more, nor become liable to death.
Col 1,15. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the First-born of all creation.”
We light here upon a question of heresy. So it were well we should put it off to-day and proceed with it to-morrow, addressing it to your ears when they are fresh.
But if one ought to say anything more: the work of the Son is the greater. How? Because it were a thing impossible to give the kingdom to men whilst continuing in their sins; but thus it is an easier thing, so that He prepared the way for the gift. What sayest thou? He Himself loosed thee from thy sins: surely then He Himself also hath brought thee nigh; already he has laid by anticipation the foundation of his doctrine.
204 But we must put a close to this discourse, when first we have made one remark. And what is this? Seeing we have come to enjoy so great a benefit, we ought to be ever mindful of it, and continually to turn in our minds the free gift of God, and to reflect upon what we have been delivered from, what we have obtained; and so we shall be thankful; so we shall heighten our love toward Him. What sayest thou, O man? Thou art called to a kingdom, to the kingdom of the Son of God—and art thou full of yawning, and scratching, and dozing? If need were that thou shouldest leap into ten thousand deaths every day, oughtest thou not to endure all? For the sake of office thou doest all manner of things; when then thou art going to share the kingdom of the Only-Begotten, wilt thou not spring down upon ten thousand swords? wouldest thou not leap into fire? And this is not all that is strange, but that when about to depart even, thou bewailest, and wouldest gladly dwell amongst the things which are here, being a lover of the body. What fancy is this? Dost thou regard even death as a thing of terror? The cause of this is luxury, ease: for he at least that should live an embittered life would wish even for wings, and to be loosed from hence. But now it is the same with us as with the spoiled nestlings, which would willingly remain for ever in the nest. But the longer they remain, the feebler they become. For the present life is a nest cemented together with sticks and mire. Yea, shouldest thou show me even the great mansions, yea the royal palace itself glittering with all its gold and precious stones; I shall think them no better than the nests of swallows, for when the winter is come they will all fall of themselves. By winter I mean That Day, not that it will be a winter to all. For God also calleth it both night and day; the first in regard of sinners, the latter of the just. So do I also now call it winter. If in the summer we have not been well brought up, so as to be able to fly when winter is come, our mothers will not take us, but will leave us to die of hunger, or to perish when the nest falls; for easily as it were a nest, or rather more easily, will God in that day remove all things, undoing and new molding all. But they which are unfledged, and not able to meet Him in the air, but have been so grossly brought up that they have no lightness of wing, will suffer those things which reason is such characters should suffer. Now the brood of swallows, when they are fallen, perish quickly; but we shall not perish, but be punished for ever. That season will be winter; or rather, more severe than winter. For, not winter torrents of water roll down, but rivers of fire; not darkness that riseth from clouds is there, but darkness that cannot be dispelled, and without a ray of light, so that they cannot see either the heaven, or the air, but are more straitened than those who have been buried in the earth.
Oftentimes do we say these things, but there are whom we cannot bring to believe. But it is nothing wonderful if we, men of small account, are thus treated, when we discourse of such things, since the same happened to the Prophets also; when they spoke not of such matters only, but also of war and captivity. (Jr 21,11 Jr 27,12), &c) And Zedekiah was rebuked by Jeremiah, and was not ashamed. Therefore the Prophets said, “Woe unto them that say, Let God hasten with speed His work, that we may see it, and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel come, that we may know it.” (Is 5,18-19). Let us not wonder at this. For neither did those believe who were in the days of the ark; they believed, however, when their belief was of no gain to them; neither did they of Sodom expect [their fate], howbeit they too believed, when they gained nothing by believing. And why do I speak of the future? Who would have expected these things which are now happening in divers places; these earthquakes, these overthrows of cities? And yet were these things easier to believe than those; those, I mean, which happened in the days of the ark.
Whence is this evident? Because that the men of those times had no other example to look at, neither had they heard the Scriptures, but with us, on the other hand, are countless instances that have happened both in our own, and in former years. But whence arose the unbelief of these persons? From a softened soul; they drank and ate, and therefore they believed not. For, what a man wishes, he thinks, and expects; and they that gainsay him are a jest.
205 But let it not be so with us; for hereafter it will not be a flood; nor the punishment till death only; but death will be the beginning of punishment for persons who believe not that there is a Judgment. And doth any ask, who has come from thence, and said so? If now thou speakest thus in jest, not even so is it well; for one ought not to jest in such matters; and we jest, not where jesting is in place, but with peril; but if what thou really feelest, and thou art of opinion that there is nothing hereafter, how is it that thou callest thyself a Christian? For I take not into account those who are without. Why receivest thou the Layer? Why dost thou set foot within the Church? Is it that we promise thee magistracies? All our hope is in the things to come. Why then comest thou, if thou believest not the Scriptures? If thou dost not believe Christ, I cannot call such an one a Christian; God forbid but worse than even Greeks. In what respect? In this; that when thou thinkest Christ is God, thou believest Him not as God. For in that other impiety there is at least consistency; for he who thinks not that Christ is God, necessarily will also not believe Him; but this impiety has not even consistency; to confess Him to be God, and yet not to think Him worthy of belief in what He has said; these are the words of drunkenness, of luxury, of riot. “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” (1Co 15,32). Not to-morrow; but now ye are dead, when ye thus speak. Shall we then be in nothing different from swine and asses? tell me. For if there be neither a judgment, nor a retribution, nor a tribunal, wherefore have we been honored with such a gift as reason, and have all things put under us? Why do we rule, and are they ruled? See how the devil is on every side urgent to persuade us to be ignorant of the Gift of God. He mixes together the slaves with their masters, like some man-stealer and ungrateful servant; he strives to degrade the free to the level of the criminal. And he seems indeed to be overthrowing the Judgment, but he is overthrowing the being of God.
For such is ever the devil’s way; he puts forward everything in a wily, and not in a straightforward manner, to put us on our guard. If there is no Judgment, God is not just (I speak as a man): if God is not just, then there is no God at all: if there is no God, all things go on at haphazard, virtue is nought, vice nought. But he says nothing of this openly. Seest thou the drift of this satanical argument? how, instead of men, he wishes to make us brutes, or rather, wild beasts, or rather, demons? Let us then not be persuaded by him. For there is a Judgment, O wretched and miserable man! I know whence thou comest to use such words. Thou hast committed many sins, thou hast offended, thou hast no confidence, thou thinkest that the nature of things will even follow thy arguments. Meanwhile, saith he, I will not torment my soul with the expectation of hell, and, if there be a hell, I will persuade it that there is none; meanwhile I will live here in luxury! Why dost thou add sin to sin? If when thou hast sinned thou believest that there is a hell, thou wilt depart with the penalty of thy sins only to pay; but if thou add this further impiety, thou wilt also for thine impiety, and for this thy thought, suffer the uttermost punishment; and what was a cold and shortlived comfort to thee, will be a ground for thy being punished for ever. Thou hast sinned: be it so: why dost thou encourage others also to sin, by saying that there is no hell? Why didst thou mislead the simpler sort? Why unnerve the hands of the people? So far as thou art concerned, everything is turned upside down; neither will the good become better, but listless; nor the wicked desist from their wickedness. For, if we corrupt others, do we get allowance for our sins? Seest thou not the devil, how he attempted to bring down Adam? And has there then been allowance for him? Nay, surely it will be the occasion of a greater punishment, that he may be punished not for his own sins only, but also for those of others. Let us not then suppose that to bring down others into the same destruction with ourselves will make the Judgment-seat more lenient to us. Surely this will make it more severe. Why thrust we ourselves on destruction? The whole of this cometh of Satan.
O man, hast thou sinned? Thou hast for thy Master One that loveth man. Entreat, implore, weep, groan; and terrify others, and pray them that they fall not into the same. If in a house some servant, of those that had offended their master, says to his son, “My child, I have offended the master, do thou be careful to please him, that thou be not as I”: tell me, will he not have some forgiveness? will he not bend and soften his master? But if, leaving so to speak, he shall say such words as these, that he will not requite every one according to his deserts; that all things are jumbled together indiscriminately, both good and bad; that there is no thanks in this house; what thinkest thou will be the master’s mind concerning him? will he not suffer a severer punishment for his own misdoings? Justly so; for in the former case his feeling will plead for him, though it be but weakly; but in this, nobody. If no other then, yet imitate at least that rich man in hell, who said, “Father Abraham, send to my kinsmen, lest they come into this place,” since he could not go himself, so that they might not fall into the same condemnation. Let us have done with such Satanical words.
206 What then, saith he, when the Greeks put questions to us; wouldest thou not that we should try to cure them? But by casting the Christian into perplexity, under pretense of curing the Greek, thou aimest at establishing thy Satanical doctrine. For since, when communing with thy soul alone of these things, thou persuadest her not; thou desirest to bring forward others as witnesses. But if one must reason with a Greek, the discussion should not begin with this; but whether Christ be God, and the Son of God; whether those gods of theirs be demons. If these points be established, all the others follow; but, before making good the beginning, it is vain to dispute about the end; before learning the first elements, it is superfluous and unprofitable to come to the conclusion. The Greek disbelieves the Judgment, and he is in the same case with thyself, seeing that he too hath many who have treated these things in their philosophy; and albeit when they so spoke they held the soul as separated from the body, still they set up a seat of judgment. And the thing is so very clear, that no one scarcely is ignorant of it, but both poets and all are agreed among themselves that there is both a Tribunal and a Judgment. So that the Greek also disbelieves his own authorities; and the Jew doth not doubt about these things nor in a word doth any man.
Why then deceive we ourselves? See, thou sayest these things to me. What wilt thou say to God, “that fashioned our hearts one by one” (Ps 33,15); that knoweth everything that is in the mind; “that is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword”? (He 4,12) For tell me with truth; Dost thou not condemn thyself? And how should wisdom so great, as that one who sins should condemn himself, come by chance, for this is a work of mighty wisdom. Thou condemnest thyself. And will he who giveth thee such thoughts leave everything to go on at hazard? The following rule then will hold universally and strictly. Not one of those who live in virtue wholly disbelieves the doctrine of the Judgment, even though he be Greek or heretic. None, save a few, of those who live in great wickedness, receives the doctrine of the Resurrection. And this is what the Psalmist says, “Thy judgments are taken away from before his face.” (Ps 10,5). Wherefore? Because “his ways are always profane”; for he saith, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.”
Seest thou that thus to speak is the mark of the grovelling? Of eating and drinking come these sayings which are subversive of the Resurrection. For the soul endures not, I say, it endures not the tribunal which the conscience supplieth, and so it is with it, as with a murderer, who firsts suggests to himself that he shall not be detected, and so goes on to slay; for had his conscience been his judge, he would not hastily have come to that daring wickedness. And still he knows, and pretends not to know, lest he should be tortured by conscience and fear, for, certainly, in that case, he would have been less resolute for the daring deed. So too, assuredly, they who sin, and day by day wallow in the same wickedness, are unwilling to know it, although their consciences pluck at them.
But let us give no heed to such persons, for there will be, there will assuredly be, a Judgment and a Resurrection, and God will not leave so great works without direction. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us leave off wickedness, and lay fast hold on virtue, that we may receive the true doctrine in Christ Jesus our Lord. And yet, which is easier to receive? the doctrine of the Resurrection, or that of Fate? The latter is full of injustice, of absurdity, of cruelty, of inhumanity; the other of righteousness, awarding according to desert; and still men do not receive it. But the fault is, indolence, for no one that hath understanding receives the other. For amongst the Greeks even, they who did receive that doctrine, were those who in their definition of pleasure affirmed it to be the “end,” but they who loved virtue, would not receive it, but they cast it out as absurd. But if among the Greeks this were so, much more will it hold good with the doctrine of the Resurrection. And observe, I pray you, how the devil hath established two contrary things: for in order that we may neglect virtue; and pay honor to demons, he brought in this Necessity, and by means of each he procured the belief of both. What reason then will he be able to give, who obstinately disbelieves a thing so admirable, and is persuaded by those who talk so idly? Do not then support thyself with the consolation, that thou wilt meet with forgiveness; but let us, collecting all our strength, stir ourselves up to virtue, and let us live truly to God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, &c.