Chrysostom Ep 2404
2404 When therefore ye hear the Scripture saying, that “the Lord had shut up her womb” (1S 1,5-6), and that, “her rival provoked her sore”; consider that it is His intention to prove the woman’s seriousness. For, mark, she had a husband devoted to her, for he said (1S 1,8), “Am I not better to thee than ten sons?” “And her rival,” it saith, “provoked her sore,” that is, reproached her, insulted over her. And yet did she never once retaliate, nor utter imprecation against her, nor say, “Avenge me, for my rival reviles me.” The other had children, but this woman had her husband’s love to make amends. With this at least he even consoled her, saying, “Am not I better to thee than ten sons?”
But let us look, again, at the deep wisdom of this woman. “And Eli,” it says, “thought she had been drunken.” (1S 1,13). Yet observe what she says to him also, “Nay, count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial, for out of the abundance of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto.” (1S 1,16). Here is truly the proof of a contrite heart, when we are not angry with those that revile us, when we are not indignant against them, when we reply but in self-defense. Nothing renders the heart so wise as affliction; nothing is there so sweet as “godly mourning.” (2Co 7,10). “Out of the abundance,” saith she, “of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto.” Her let us imitate, one and all. Hearken, ye that are barren, hearken, ye that desire children, hearken, both husbands and wives; yes, for husbands, too, used oftentimes to contribute their part; for hear what the Scripture saith, “And Isaac intreated the Lord for Rebekah his wife, because she was barren.” (Gn 25,21). For prayer is able to accomplish great things.
“With all prayer and supplication,” saith he, “for all the saints, and for me,” placing himself last. What doest thou, O blessed Paul, in thus placing thyself last? Yea, saith he, “that utterance may be given unto me, in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.” And where art thou an ambassador? “To mankind,” saith he. Oh! amazing lovingkindness of God! He sent from Heaven in His own Name ambassadors for peace, and lo, men took them, and bound them, and reverenced not so much as the law of nations, that an ambassador never suffers any hurt. “But, however, I am an ambassador in bonds. The chain lies like a bridle upon me, restraining my boldness, but your prayer shall open my mouth” in order that I may speak all things I was sent to speak.
“But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things.” If “faithful,” he will tell no falsehood, he will in everything speak the truth:—“whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye might know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts.” Amazing, transcendent affection! “that it may not be in the power,” he means, “of them that would, to affright you.” For it is probable that they were in tribulation; for the expression, “may comfort your hearts,” intimates as much; that is, “may not suffer you to sink under it.”
Ep 6,23. “Peace be to the brethren and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
107 (He invokes upon them, “peace and love with faith.” He saith well: for he would not that they should have regard to love by itself, and mingle themselves with those of a different faith. Either he means this, or that above described, namely, that they should have faith also, so as to have a cheerful confidence of the good things to come. The “peace” which is towards God, and the “love.” And if there be peace, there will also be love; if love, there will be peace also. “With faith,” because without faith, love amounts to nothing; or rather love could not exist at all without it.
Ep 6,24. “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in uncorruptness.”
Why does he separate the two here, placing “peace” by itself, and “grace” by itself?
“In uncorruptness,” he concludes.
What is this, “in uncorruptness”? It either means, “in purity”; or else, “for the sake of those things which are incorruptible,” as, for example, not in riches, nor in glory, but in those treasures which are incorruptible. The “in” means, “through.” “Through uncorruptness,” that is, “through virtue.” Because all sin is corruption. And in the same way as we say a virgin is corrupted, so also do we speak of the soul. Hence Paul says, “Lest by any means your minds should be corrupted.” (2Co 11,3). And again elsewhere, he says, “In doctrine, showing uncorruptness.”
2405 For what, tell me, is corruption of the body? Is it not the dissolution of the whole frame, and of its union? This then is what takes place also in the soul when sin enters. The beauty of the soul is temperance, and righteousness; the health of the soul is courage, and prudence; for the base man is hideous in our eyes, so is the covetous, so is the man who gives himself up to evil practices, and so the coward and unmanly man is sick, and the foolish man is out of health. Now that sins work corruption, is evident from this, that they render men base, and weak, and cause them to be sick and diseased. Nay, and when we say that a virgin is corrupted, we say so, strictly speaking, on this account also, not only because the body is defiled, but because of the transgression. For the mere act is natural; and if in that consisted the “corruption,” then were marriage corruption. Hence is it not the act that is corruption, but the sin, for it dishonors and puts her to shame. And again, what would be corruption in the case of a house? Its dissolution. And so, universally, corruption is a change which takes place for the worse, a change into another state, to the utter extinction of the former one. For hear what the Scripture saith, “All flesh had corrupted his way” (Gn 6,12); and again, “In intolerable corruption” (Ex 18,18); and again, “Men corrupted in mind.” (2Tm 3,8). Our body is corruptible, but our soul is incorruptible. Oh then, let us not make that corruptible also. This, the corruption of the body, was the work of former sin; but sin which is after the Laver, has the power also to render the soul corruptible, and to make it an easy prey to “the worm that dieth not.” For never had that worm touched it, had it not found the soul corruptible. The worm touches not adamant, and even if he touches it, he can do it no harm. Oh then, corrupt not the soul; for that which is corrupted is full of foul stench; for hearken to the Prophet who saith, “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.” (Ps 38,5)).
However, “this corruption” of the body “shall put on incorruption” (1Co 15,53), but the other of the soul, never; for where incorruption is, there is no corruption. Thus is it a corruption which is incorruptible, which hath no end, a deathless death; which would have been, had the body remained deathless. Now if we shall depart into the next world having not corruption, we have that corruption incorruptible and endless; for to be ever burning, and not burnt up, ever wasted by the worm, is corruption incorruptible; like as was the case with the blessed Jb He was corrupted, and died not, and that through a lengthened period, and “wasted continually, scraping the clods of dust from his sore.” Some such torment as this shall it undergo, when the worms surround and devour it, not for two years nor for three, nor for ten, nor for ten thousand, but for years without end; for “their worm,” saith He, “dieth not.”
Moral. Let us take the alarm then, I entreat you, let us dread the words, that we meet not with the realities. Covetousness is corruption, corruption more dangerous than any other, and leading on to idolatry. Let us shun the corruption, let us choose the incorruption. Hast thou in covetousness overreached and defrauded some one? The fruits of thy covetousness perish, but the covetousness remains; a corruption which is the foundation of incorruptible corruption. The enjoyment indeed passes away, but the sin remains imperishable. A fearful evil is it for us not to strip ourselves of everything in this present world; a great calamity to depart into the next with loads of sins about us. “For in Sheol,” it is said “who shall give Thee thanks?” (Ps 6,5). There is the place of judgment; then is there no longer season for repentance. How many things did the rich man bewail then? (Lc 16,23). And yet it availed him nothing. How many things did they say who had neglected to feed Christ? (Mt 25,41). Yet were they led away notwithstanding into the everlasting fire. How many things had they then to say: “that had wrought iniquity”; “Lord, did we not prophesy by Thy Name, and by Thy Name cast out devils?” And yet notwithstanding, they were not owned. All these things therefore will take place then; but it will be of no avail, if they be not done now. Let us fear then, lest ever we should have to say then, “Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee not?” (Mt 25,44). Let us feed Him now, not one day, nor two, nor three days. “For let not mercy and truth,” saith the Wise Man, “forsake thee.” (Pr 3,3). He saith not “do it once, nor twice.” The Virgins, we know, had oil, but not enough to last out. (Mt 25,3 25,8). And thus we need much oil, and thus should we be “like a green olive tree in the house of God.” (Ps 52,8). Let us reflect then how many burdens of sins each of us has about him, and let us make our acts of mercy counterbalance them; nay rather, far exceed them, that not only the sins may be quenched, but that the acts of righteousness may be also accounted unto us for righteousness. For if the good deeds be not so many in number as to put aside the crimes laid against us, and out of the remainder to be counted unto us for righteousness, then shall no one rescue us from that punishment, from which God grant that we may be all delivered, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, &c.
[i]Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume XIII, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc). 1997.
Chrysostom Ep 2404