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 Edited, with Additional Notes, ByRev. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.
100 2 Timothy 1,1, 2.—“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Jesus Christ, to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What is the reason of his writing this second Epistle to Timothy? He had said, “I hope to come unto thee shortly” (1Tm 3,14), and as this had not taken place, instead of coming to him, he consoles him by a letter, when he was grieving perhaps for his absence, and oppressed by the cares of the government, which he had now taken in hand. For even great men, when they are placed at the helm, and are charged with the direction of the Church, feel the strangeness of their position, and are overwhelmed, as it were, by the waves of business. This was particularly the case when the Gospel was first preached, when the ground was everywhere unturned, and all was opposition and hostility. There were, besides, heresies commencing from the Jewish teachers, as he has shown in his former Epistle. Nor does he only comfort him by letters, he invites him to come to him: “Do thy diligence,” he says, “to come shortly unto me,” and, “when thou comest, bring with thee the books, but especially theparchments.” (2Tm 4,9 and 2Tm 4,13). And he seems to have written this Epistle when his end was approaching. For he says, “I am now ready to be offered up”; and again, “At my first answer no man stood with me.” (2Tm 4,6 2Tm 4,16) To set all this right, he both offers consolation from his own trials, and also says,
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”
Thus at the very commencement he raises up his mind. Tell me not, he says, of the dangers here. These obtain for us eternal life, where there is no peril, where grief and mourning flee away. For He hath not made us Apostles only that we might encounter dangers, but that we might even suffer and die. And as it would not be a consolation to recount to him his own troubles, but rather an increase of his grief, he begins immediately with offering comfort, saying, “According to the promise of life which is in Jesus Christ.” But if it is a “promise,” seek it not here. For, “hope that is seen is not hope.” (Rm 8,24).
2Tm 1,2. “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son.”
Not merely his “son,” but, “dearly beloved”; since it is possible for sons not to be beloved. Not such, he means, art thou; I call thee not merely a son, but a “dearly beloved son.” As he calls the Galatians his children, but at the same time complains of them; “My little children,” he says, “of whom I travail in birth again.” (Ga 4,19). And he bears particular testimony to his virtue by calling him “beloved.” For where love does not arise from nature, it must arise from the merit of the object. Those who are born of us, are loved not only on account of their virtue, but from the force of nature; but when those who are of the faith are beloved, it is on account of nothing but their merit, for what else can it be? And this especially in the case of Paul, who never acted from partiality. And further, he shows by calling him his “beloved son,” that it was not because he was offended with him, or despised him, or condemned him; that he did not come to him.
2Tm 1,2. “Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
These things which he before prayed for, he again invokes upon him. And observe how, at the very beginning, he excuses himself for not having come to him, nor seen him. For his words, “Till I come,” and, “Hoping to come to thee shortly,” had led Timothy to expect his coming soon. For this he excuses himself, but he does not immediately mention the cause of his not coming, lest he should grieve him mightily. For he was detained in prison by the emperor. But when at the end of the Epistle he invited him to come to him, then he informed him of it. He does not at the outset plunge him into sorrow, but encourages the hope that he shall see him. “Greatly desiring to see thee,” and “Do thy diligence to come unto me shortly.” (2Tm 1,4 2Tm 4,9). Immediately therefore he raises him up, and proceeds to praise him.
2Tm 1,3-4. “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I might be filled with joy.”
“‘I thank God,’ he says, ‘that I remember thee,’ so much do I love thee.” This is a mark of excessive love, when a man glories in his affection from loving so much. “I thank God,” he says, “Whom I serve”: and how? “With a pure conscience,” for he had not violated his conscience. And here he speaks of his blameless life, for he everywhere calls his life his conscience. Or because I never gave up any good that I purposed, for any human cause, not even when I was a persecutor. Wherefore he says, “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1Tm 1,13); all but saying, “Do not suspect that it was done of wickedness.” He properly commends his own disposition, that his love may appear sincere. For what he says is in fact, “I am not false, I do not think one thing and profess another.” So in the book of Ac we read he was compelled to praise himself. For when they slandered him as a seditious man and an innovator, he said in his own defense, “Ananias said to me, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” (Ac 22,14-15) In the same manner here, that he may not, as if he bad been forgetful, have the character of one void of friendship and conscience, he justly praises himself, saying, that “without ceasing I have remembrance of thee,” and not simply that, but “in my prayers.” That is, it is the business of my prayers, that which I constantly continue to perform. For this he shows by saying, “For this I besought God day and night, desiring to see thee.” Mc his fervent desire, the intensity of his love. And again, his humility, how he apologizes to his disciples, and then he shows that it was not on light or vain grounds; and this he had shown us before, but again gives proof of it. “Being mindful of thy tears.” It was natural for Timothy, when parting from him, to mourn and weep, more than a child torn away from the milk and from the breast of its mother. “That I may be filled with joy; greatly desiring to see thee.” I would not willingly have deprived myself of so great a pleasure, though I had been of an unfeeling and brutal nature, for those tears coming to my remembrance would have been enough to soften me. But such is not my character. I am one of those who serve God purely; so that many strong motives urged me to come to thee. So then he wept. And he mentions another cause, and that of a consolatory kind.
2Tm 1,5. “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee.”
This is another commendation, that Timothy came not of Gentiles, nor of unbelievers, but of a family that served Christ from the first. (Ac 16,1 Ac 16,3).
“Which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice.”
For Timothy, it says, “was the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and believed.” How a Jewess? how believing? Because she was not of the Gentiles, “but on account of his father, who was a Greek, and of the Jews that were in those quarters, he took and circumcised him.” Thus, as these mixtures of Jews and Gentiles took place, the Law began gradually to be dissolved. And mark in how many ways he shows that he did not despise him. “I serve God,” he says, “I have a true conscience” for my part, andthou hast thy “tears,” and not thy tears only, but for “thy faith,” because thou art a laborer for the Truth, because there is no deceit in thee. As therefore thou showest thyself worthy of love, being so affectionate, so genuine a disciple of Christ; and as I am not one of those who are devoid of affection, but of those who earnestly pursue the Truth; what hindered me from coming to thee?
“And I am persuaded that in thee also.”
From the beginning, he means, thou hast had this excellency. Thou receivedst from thy forefathers the faith unfeigned. For the praises of our ancestors, when we share in them, redound also to us. Otherwise they avail nothing, but rather condemn us; wherefore he has said, “I am persuaded that in thee also.” It is not a conjecture, he means, it is my persuasion; I am fully assured of it. If therefore from no human motive thou hast embraced it, nothing will be able to shake thy faith.
2Tm 1,6. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”
You see how greatly dispirited and dejected he considers him to be. He almost says, “Think not that I despise thee, but be assured that I do not condemn thee, nor have I forgotten thee. Consider, at any rate, thy mother and thy grandmother. It is because I know that thou hast unfeigned faith that I put thee in remembrance.” For it requires much zeal to stir up the gift of God. As fire requires fuel, so grace requires our alacrity, that it may be ever fervent. “I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up thegift of God, that is in thee by the putting onof my hands,” that is, the grace of the Spirit, which thou hast received, for presiding over the Church, for the working of miracles, and for every service. For this grace it is in our power to kindle or to extinguish; wherefore he elsewhere says, “Quench not the Spirit.” (1Th 5,19). For by sloth and carelessness it is quenched, and by watchfulness and diligence it is kept alive. For it is in thee indeed, but do thou render it more vehement, that is, fill it with confidence, with joy and delight. Stand manfully.
2Tm 1,7. “For God bath not given us the spiritof fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
That is, we did not receive the Spirit, that we should shrink from exertion, but that we may speak with boldness. For to many He gives a spirit of fear, as we read in the wars of the Kings. “A spirit of fear fell upon them.” (Ex 15,16?) That is, he infused terror into them. But to thee He has given, on the contrary, a spirit of power, and of love toward Himself. This, then, is of grace, and yet not merely of grace, but when we have first performed our own parts. For the Spirit that maketh us cry, “Abba, Father,” inspires us with love both towards Him, and towards our neighbor, that we may love one another. For love arises from power, and from not fearing. For nothing is so apt to dissolve love as fear, and a suspicion of treachery.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”: he calls a healthy state of the soul a sound mind, or it may mean sobriety of mind, or else a sobering of the mind, that we may be sober-minded, and that if any evil befall us, it may sober us, and cut off superfluities.
Moral. Let us then not be distressed at the evils that happen to us. This is sobriety of mind. “In the season of temptation,” he says, “make not haste.” (Si 2,2). Many have their several griefs at home, and we share in each other’s sorrows, though not in their sources. For one is unhappy on account of his wife, another on account of his child, or his domestic, another of his friend, another of his enemy, another of his neighbor, another from some loss. And various are the causes of sorrow, so that we can find no one free from trouble and unhappiness of some kind or other, but some have greater sorrows and some less. Let us not therefore be impatient, nor think ourselves only to be unhappy.
For there is no such thing in this mortal life as being exempt from sorrow. If not to-day, yet to-morrow; if not to-morrow, yet some later day trouble comes. For as one cannot sail, I mean, over a long sea, and not feel disquietude, so it is not possible to pass through this life, without experience of sorrow, yea though you name a rich man; for in that he is rich, he hath many occasions of inordinate desires, yea, though the king himself, since he too is ruled by many, and cannot do all that he would. Many favors he grants contrary to his wishes, and more than all men is obliged to do what he would not. How so? Because he has many about him who wish to receive his gifts. And just think how great is his chagrin, when he is desirous to effect something, but is unable, either from fear or suspicion, or hindered by enemies or by friends. Often when he has succeeded in achieving some end, he loses all the pleasure of it, from many becoming at enmity with him. Again, do you think that they are free from grief, who live a life of ease? It is impossible. As a man cannot escape death, so neither can he escape sorrow. How many troubles must they endure, which we cannot express in words, and which they only can know by experience! How many have prayed a thousand times to die, in the midst of their wealth and luxury! For luxury by no means puts men out of the reach of grief: it is rather the very thing to produce sorrows, diseases, and uneasiness, often when there is no real ground for it. For when such is the habit of the soul, it is apt to grieve even without a cause. Physicians say that from a weak state of the stomach arise sorrows without any occasion; and does not the like happen to ourselves, to feel uneasy, without knowing any cause for it? In short, we can find no one who is exempted from sorrow. And if he has less occasion for grief than ourselves, yet he thinks otherwise, for he feels his own sorrows, more than those of other men. As they who suffer pain in any part of their bodies, think that their sufferings exceed their neighbor’s. He that has a disease of the eye, thinks there is nothing so painful, and he that has a disorder in the stomach, considers that the sorest of diseases, and each thinks that the heaviest of sufferings, with which he is himself afflicted. So it is with sorrow, each thinks his own present grief the most severe. For of this he judges by his own experience. He that is childless considers nothing so sad as to be without children; he that is poor, and has many children, complains of the extreme evils of a large family. He who has hut one, looks upon this as the greatest misery, because that one, being set too much store by, and never corrected, becomes willful, and brings grief upon his father. He who has a beautiful wife, thinks nothing so bad as having a beautiful wife, because it is the occasion of jealousy and intrigue. He who has an ugly one, thinks nothing worse than having a plain wife, because it is constantly disagreeable. The private man thinks nothing more mean, more useless, than his mode of life. The soldier declares that nothing is more toilsome, more perilous, than warfare; that it would he better to live on bread and water than endure such hardships. He that is in power thinks there can be no greater burden than to attend to the necessities of others. He that is subject to that power, thinks nothing more servile than living at the beck of others. The married man considers nothing worse than a wife, and the cares of marriage. The unmarried declares there is nothing so wretched as being unmarried, and wanting the repose of a home. The merchant thinks the husbandman happy in his security. The husbandman thinks the merchant so in his wealth. In short, all mankind are somehow hard to please, and discontented and impatient. When condemning the whole race, he saith, “Man is a thing of nought” (Ps 144,4), implying that the whole kind is a wretched unhappy creature. How many long for old age! How many think youth a happy time! Thus each different period has its unhappiness. When we find ourselves censured on account of our youth, we say, why are we not old? and when our heads are hoary, we ask whither has our youth flown? Numberless, in short, are the occasions of sorrow. There is one path only by which this unevenness can be escaped. It is the path of virtue. Yet that too has its sorrows, only they are sorrows not unprofitable, but productive of gain and advantage. For if any one has sinned, he washes away his sin by the compunction that comes of his sorrow. Or, if he has grieved in sympathizing with a fallen brother, this is not without its recompense. For sympathy with those that are in misery gives us great confidence towards God.
Hear therefore what philosophy is taught by the example of Jb in holy Scripture! Hear also what Paul saith: “Weep with them that weep”; and again, “Condescend to men of low estate.” (Rm 12,15-16) For, by the communication of sorrow, the extreme burden of it is lightened. For as in the case of a heavy load, he that hears part of the weight relieves him who was bearing it alone, so it is in all other things.
But now, when any one of our relatives dies, there are many who sit by and console us. Nay, we often raise up even an ass that has fallen; hut when the souls of our brethren are falling. we overlook them and pass by, as if they were of less value than an ass. And if we see any one entering into a tavern indecently; nay, if we see him drunk, or guilty of any other unseemly action, we do not restrain him, we rather join him in it. Whence Paul has said: “They not only do these things, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rm 1,32). The greater part even form associations for the purposes of drunkenness. But do thou, O man, form associations to restrain the madness of inebriety. Such friendly doings are beneficial to those who are in bonds or in affliction. Something of this kind Paul enjoined to the Corinthians, alluding to which he says, “That there be no gatherings when I come.” (1Co 16,2) But now everything is done with a view to luxury, reveling, and pleasure. We have a common seat, a common table, we have wine in common, and common expenses, but we have no community of alms. Such were the friendly doings in the time of the Apostles; they brought all their goods into the common stock. Now I do not require you to bestow all, but some part. “Let each lay by him in store on the first day of the week, as God has prospered him,” and lay it down as a tribute for the seven days. In this way give alms, whether more or less. “For thou shalt not appear before the Lord empty.”(Ex 23,15). This was said to the Jews, how much more then to us. For this cause the poor stand before the doors, that no one may enter empty, but each may do alms at his entrance. Thou enterest to implore mercy. First show mercy. He that comes later owes the more. For when we have been first, he that is second pays down more. Make God thy debtor, and then offer thy prayers. Lend to Him, and then ask a return, and thou shalt receive it with usury. God wills this, and does not retract. If thou ask with alms, He holds himself obliged. If thou ask with alms, thou lendest and receivest interest. Yes, I beseech you! It is net for stretching out thy hands thou shalt be heard stretch forth thy hands, not to heaven, but to the poor. If thou stretch forth thy hand to the hands of the poor, thou hast reached the very summit of heaven. For He who sits there receives thine alms. But if thou liftest them up without a gift, thou gainest nothing. If the king, arrayed in purple, should come to thee and ask an alms, wouldest thou not readily give all that thou hast? But now when thou art entreated through the poor, not by an earthly but a heavenly King, dost thou stand regardless, and defer thy gift? What punishment then dost thou not deserve? For the being heard depends not upon the lifting up of thy hands, nor on the multitude of thy words, but upon thy works. For hear the prophet, “When ye” spread “forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear.” (Is 1,15). For he ought to be silent, who needs mercy, and not even to look up to heaven; he that hath confidence may say much. But what says the Scripture, “Judge for the fatherless, plead for the widow, learn to do good.” (Is 1,17).In this way we shall be heard, though we lift not up our hands, nor utter a word, nor make request. In these things then let us be zealous, that we may obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
200 2 Timothy 1,8–10.—“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
There is nothing worse than that man should measure and judge of divine things by human reasonings. For thus he will fall from that rock a vast distance, and be deprived of the light. For if he who wishes with human eyes to apprehend the rays of the sun will not only not apprehend them, but, besides this failure, will sustain great injury; so, but in a higher degree, is he in a way to suffer this, and abusing the gift of God, who would by human reasonings gaze intently on that Light. Observe accordingly how Marcion, and Manes, and Valentinus, and others who introduced their heresies and pernicious doctrines into the Church of God, measuring divine things by human reasonings, became ashamed of the Divine economy. Yet it was not a subject for shame, but rather for glorying; I speak of the Cross of Christ. For there is not so great a sign of the love of God for mankind, not heaven, nor sea, nor earth, nor the creation of all things out of nothing, nor all else beside, as the Cross. Hence it is the boast of Paul, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ga 6,14). But natural men, and those who attribute to God no more than to human beings, stumble, and become ashamed. Wherefore Paul from the first exhorts his disciple, and through him all others, in these words: “Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” that is, “Be not ashamed, that thou preachest One that was crucified, but rather glory in it.” For in themselves death and imprisonment and chains are matters of shame and reproach. But when the cause is added before us, and the mystery viewed aright, they will appear full of dignity, and matter for boasting. For it was that death which saved the world, when it was perishing. That death connected earth with heaven, that death destroyed the power of the devil, and made men angels, and sons of God: that death raised our nature to the kingly throne. Those chains were the conversion of many. “Be not” therefore “ashamed,” he says, “of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel”; that is, though thou shouldest suffer the same things, be not thou ashamed. For that this is implied appears from what he said above; “God hath given us a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”; and by what follows, “Be thou partaker of the sufferings of the Gospel”: not merely be not ashamed of them, but be not ashamed even to experience them.
And he does not say, “Do not fear,” but, the more to encourage him, “be not ashamed,” as if there were no further danger, if he could overcome the shame. For shame is only then oppressive, when one is overcome by it. Be not therefore ashamed, if I, who raised the dead, who wrought miracles, who traversed the world, am now a prisoner. For I am imprisoned, not as a malefactor, but for the sake of Him who was crucified. If my Lord was not ashamed of the Cross, neither am I of chains. And with great propriety, when he exhorts him not to be ashamed, he reminds him of the Cross. If thou art not ashamed of the Cross, he means, neither be thou of chains; if our Lord and Master endured the Cross, much more should we chains. For he who is ashamed of what He endured, is ashamed of Him that was crucified. Now it is not on my own account that I bear these chains; therefore do not give way to human feelings, but bear thy part in these sufferings. “Be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel.” He says not this, as if the Gospel could suffer injury, but to excite his disciple to suffer for it.
“According to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
More especially because it was a hard thing to say, “Be partakers of afflictions,” he again consoles him. Reckon that thou sustainest these things, not by thine own power, but by the power of God. For it is thy part to choose and to be zealous, but God’s to alleviate sufferings and bid them cease. He then shows him the proofs of His power. Consider how thou wast saved, how thou wast called. As he elsewhere says, “According to His power that worketh in us.” (Ep 3,20) So much was it a greater exercise of power to persuade the world to believe, than to make the Heavens. But how was he “called with a holy calling”? This means, He made them saints, who were sinners and enemies. “And this not of ourselves, it was the gift of God.” If then He is mighty in calling us, and good, in that He hath done it of grace and not of debt, we ought not to fear. For He Who, when we should have perished, saved us, though enemies, by grace, will He not much more cooperate with us, when He sees us working? “Not according to our own works,” he says, “but according to his own purpose and grace,” that is, no one compelling, no one counseling Him, but of His own purpose, from the impulse of His own goodness, He saved us; for this is the meaning of “according to His own purpose.” “Which was given us before the world began.” That is, it was determined without beginning that these things should be done in Christ Jesus. This is no light consideration, that from the first He willed it. It was not an after-thought. How then is not the Son eternal? for He also willed it from the beginning.
2Tm 1,10. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel.”
Thou seest the power, thou seest the gift bestowed not by works, but through the Gospel. These are objects of hope: for both were wrought in His Body. And how will they be wrought in ours? “By the Gospel.”
2Tm 1,11. “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an Apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
Why does he so constantly repeat this, and call himself a teacher of the Gentiles? Because he wishes to persuade them that they also ought to draw close to the Gentiles. Be not therefore dismayed at my sufferings. The sinews of death are unstrung. It is not as a malefactor that I suffer, but because I am “a teacher of the Gentiles.” At the same time he makes his discourse worthy of credit.
2Tm 1,12. “For the which cause I also suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed. For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
“I am not ashamed,” he says. For are chains, are sufferings, a matter for shame? Be not then ashamed! Thou seest how he illustrates his teaching by his works. “These things,” he says, “I suffer”: I am cast into prison, I am banished; “For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against That Day.” What is “that which is committed”? The faith, the preaching of the Gospel. He, who committed this to him, he says, will preserve it unimpaired. I suffer everything, that I may not be despoiled of this treasure, and I am not ashamed at these things, so long as it is preserved uninjured. Or he calls the Faithful the charge which God committedto him, or which he committed to God. For he says, “Now I commit you to the Lord.” (Ac 20,32). That is, these things will not be unprofitable to me. And in Timothy is seen the fruit of the charge thus “committed.” You see that he is insensible to sufferings, from the hope that he entertains of his disciples.
Moral. Such ought a Teacher to be, so to regard his disciples, to think them everything. “Now we live,” he says, “if ye stand fast in the Lord.” And again, “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ?” (1Th 3,8 1Th 2,19). You see his anxiety in this matter, his regard for the good of his disciples, not less than for his own. For teachers ought to surpass natural parents, to be more zealous than they. And it becomes their children to be kindly affectioned towards them. For he says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls as they that must give account.” (He 13,17). For say, is he subject to so dangerous a responsibility, and art thou not willing to obey him, and that too, for thy own benefit? For though his own state should be good, yet as long as thou art in a bad condition his anxiety continues, he has a double account to render. And consider what it is to be responsible and anxious for each of those who are under his rule. What honor wouldest thou have reckoned equal, what service, in requital of suchdangers? Thou canst not offer an equivalent. For thou hast not yet devoted thy soul for him, but he lays down his life for thee, and if he lays it not down here, when the occasion requires it, he loses it There. But thou art not willing to submit even in words. This is the prime cause of all these evils, that the authority of rulers is neglected, that there is no reverence, no fear. He says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” But now all is turned upside down and confounded. And this I say not for the sake of the rulers; (for what benefit will they have of the honor they receive from us, except so far as we are rendered obedient;) but I say it for your advantage. For with respect to the future, they will not be benefited by the honor done them, but receivethe greater condemnation, neither will they he injured as to the future by ill treatment, but will have the more excuse. But all this I desire to be done for your own sakes. For when rulers are honored by their people, this too is reckoned against them; as in the case of Eli it is said, “Did I not choose him out of his father’s house?” (1S 2,27). But when they are insulted, as in the instance of Samuel, God said, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me.” (1S 8,7). Therefore insult is their gain, honor their burden. What I say, therefore, is for your sakes, not for theirs. He that honors the Priest, will honor God also; and he who has learnt to despise the Priest, will in process of time insult God. “He that receiveth you,” He saith, “receiveth Me.” (Mt 10,40). “Hold my priests in honor” (Si 7,31), He says. The Jews learned to despise God, because they despised Moses, and would have stoned him. For when a man is piously disposed towards the Priest, he is much more so towards God. And even if the Priest be wicked, God seeing that thou respectest him, though unworthy of honor, through reverence to Him, will Himself reward thee. For if “he that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Mt 10,41).; then he who honoreth and submitteth and giveth way to the Priest shall certainly be rewarded. For if in the case of hospitality, when thou knowest not the guest, thou receivest so high a recompense, much more wilt thou be requited, if thou obeyest him whom He requires thee to obey. “The Scribes and Pharisees,” He says, “sit in Moses’ seat; all therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works.” (Mt 23,2-3) Knowest thou not what the Priest is? He is an Angel of the Lord. Are they his own words that he speaks? If thou despisest him, thou despisest not him, but God that ordained him. But how does it appear, thou askest, that he is ordained ofGod? Nay, if thou suppose it otherwise, thy hope is rendered vain. For if God worketh nothing through his means, thou neither hast any Laver, nor art partaker of the Mysteries, nor of the benefit of Blessings; thou art therefore not a Christian. What then, you say, does God ordain all, even the unworthy? God indeed doth not ordain all, but He worketh through all, though they be themselves unworthy, that the people may be saved. For if He spoke, for the sake of the people, by an ass, and by Balaam, a most wicked man, much more will He speak by the mouth of the Priest. What indeed will not God do or say for our salvation? By whom doth He not act? For if He wrought through Judas and those other that “prophesied,” to whom He will say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity” (Mt 7,22-23).; and if others “cast out devils” (Ps 6,8).; will He not much more work through the Priests? Since if we were to make inquisition into the lives of our rulers, we should then become the ordainers of our own teachers, and all would be confusion; the feet would be uppermost, the head below. Hear Paul saying, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment.” (1Co 4,3). And again, “Why dost thou judge thy brother?” (Rm 14,10). For if we may not judge our brother, much less our teacher. If God commands this indeed, thou doest well, and sinnest if thou do it not; but if the contrary, dare not do it, nor attempt to go beyond the lines that are marked out. After Aaron had made the golden calf, Corah, Dathan, and Abiram raised an insurrection against him. And did they not perish? Let each attend to his own department. For if he teach perverted doctrine, though he be an Angel, obey him not; but if he teach the truth, take heed not to his life, but to his words. Thou hast Paul to instruct thee in what is right both by words and works. But thou sayest, “He gives not to the poor, he does not govern well.” Whence knowest thou this? Blame not, before thou art informed. Be afraid of the great account. Many judgments are formed upon mere opinion. Imitate thy Lord, who said, “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, and if not, I will know.” (Gn 18,21). But if thou hast enquired, and informed thyself, and seen; yet await the Judge, and usurp not the office of Christ. To Him it belongs, and not to thee, to make this inquisition. Thou art an inferior servant, not a master. Thou art a sheep, be not curious concerning the shepherd, lest thou have to give account of thy accusations against him. But you say, How does he teach me that which he does not practice himself? It is not he that speaks to thee. If it be he whom thou obeyest, thou hast no reward. It is Christ that thus admonishes thee. And what do I say? Thou oughtest not to obey even Paul, if he speaks of himself, or anything human, but the Apostle, that has Christ speaking in him. Let not us judge one another’s conduct, but each his own. Examine thine own life.
But thou sayest, “He ought to be better than I.” Wherefore? “Because he is a Priest.” And is he not superior to thee in his labors, his dangers, his anxious conflicts and troubles? But if he is not better, oughtest thou therefore to destroy thyself? These are the words of arrogance. For how is he not better than thyself? He steals, thou sayest, and commits sacrilege! How knowest thou this? Why dost thou cast thyself down a precipice? If thou shouldest hear it said that such an one hath a purple robe, though thou knewest it to be true, and couldest convict him, thou declinest to do it, and pretendest ignorance, not being willing to run into unnecessary danger. But in this case thou art so far from being backward, that even without cause thou exposest thyself to the danger. Nor think thou art not responsible for these words. Hear what Christ says, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Mt 12,36)And dost thou think thyself better than another, and dost thou not groan, and beat thy breast, and bow down thy head, and imitate the Publican?
And then thou destroyest thyself, though thou be better. Be silent, that thou cease not to be better. If thou speak of it, thou hast done away the merit; if thou thinkest it, I do not say so; if thou dost not think it, thou hast added much. For if a notorious sinner, when he confessed, “went home justified,” he who is a sinner in a less degree, and is conscious of it, how will he not be rewarded? Examine thy own life. Thou dost not steal; but thou art rapacious, and overbearing, and guilty of many other such things. I say not this to defend theft; God forbid! deeply lament if there is any one really guilty of it, but I do not believe it. How great an evil is sacrilege, it is impossible to say. But I spare you. For I would not that our virtue should be rendered vain by accusing others. What was worse than the Publican? For it is true that he was a publican, and guilty of many offenses, yet because the Pharisee only said, “I am not as this publican,” he destroyed all his merit. I am not, thou sayest, like this sacrilegious Priest. And dost not thou make all in vain?
This I am compelled to say, and to enlarge upon in my discourse, not so much because I am concerned for them, but because I fear for you, lest you should render your virtue vain by this boasting of yourselves, and condemnation of others. For hear the exhortation of Paul, “Let every one prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Ga 6,4)).
If you had a wound, tell me, and should go to a physician, would you stay him from salving and dressing your own wound, and be curious to enquire whether the physician had a wound, or not? and if he had, would you mind it? Or because he had it, would you forbear dressing your own, and say, A physician ought to be in sound health, and since he is not so, I shall let my wound go uncured? For will it be any palliation for him that is under rule, that his Priest is wicked? By no means. He will suffer the destined punishment, and you too will meet with that which is your due. For the Teacher now only fills a place. For “it is written, They shall all be taught of God.” (Jn 6,45 Is 54,13). “Neither shall they say, Know the Lord. For all shall know Me from the least to the greatest.” (Jr 31,34). Why then, you will say, does he preside? Why is he set over us? I beseech you, let us not speak ill of our teachers, nor call them to so strict an account, lest we bring evil upon ourselves. Let us examine ourselves, and we shall not speak ill of others. Let us reverence that day, on which he enlightened us. He who has a father, whatever faults he has, conceals them all. For it is said, “Glory not in the dishonor of thy father; for thy father’s dishonor is no glory unto thee. And if his understanding fail, have patience with him.” () And if this be said of our natural fathers, much more of our spiritual fathers. Reverence him, in that he every day ministers to thee, causes the Scriptures to be read, sets the house in order for thee, watches for thee, prays for thee, stands imploring God on thy behalf, offers supplications for thee, for thee is all his worship. Reverence all this, think of this, and approach him with pious respect. Say not, he is wicked. What of that? He that is not wicked, doth he of himself bestow upon thee these great benefits? By no means. Everything worketh according to thy faith. Not even the righteous man can benefit thee, if thou art unfaithful, nor the unrighteous harm thee, if thou art faithful. God, when He would save His people, wrought for the ark by Oxen. Is it the good life or the virtue of the Priest that confers so much on thee? The gifts which God bestows are not such as to be effects of the virtue of the Priest. All is of grace. His part is but to open his mouth, while God worketh all: the Priest only performs a symbol. Consider how wide was the distance between Jn and Jesus. Hear Jn saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee” (Mt 3,14)., and, “Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” (Jn 1,27). Yet notwithstanding this difference, the Spirit descended. Which Jn had not. For “of His fullness,” it is said, “we all have received.” (Jn 1,16). Yet nevertheless, It descended not till He was baptized. But neither was it John who caused It to descend. Why then is this done? That thou mayest learn that the Priest performs a symbol. No man differs so widely from another man, as Jn from Jesus, and yet with him the Spirit descended, that we may learn, that it is God who worketh all, that all is God’s doing. I am about to say what may appear strange, but be not astonished nor startled at it. The Offering is the same, whether a common man, or Paul or Peter offer it. It is the same which Christ gave to His disciples, and which the Priests now minister. This is nowise inferior to that, because it is not men that sanctify even this, but the Same who sanctified the one sanctifies the other also. For as the words which God spake are the same which the Priest now utters, so is the Offering the same, and the Baptism, that which He gave. Thus the whole is of faith. The Spirit immediately fell upon Cornelius, because he had previously fulfilled his part, and contributed his faith. And this is His Body, as well as that. And he who thinks the one inferior to the other, knows not that Christ even now is present, even now operates. Knowing therefore these things, which we have not said without reason, but that we may conform your minds in what is right, and render you more secure for the future, keep carefully in mind what has been spoken. For if we are always hearers, and never doers, we shall reap no advantage from what is said. Let us therefore attend diligently to the things spoken. Let us imprint them upon our minds. Let us have them ever engraved upon our consciences, and let us continually ascribe glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost).