Chrysostom He 1100
1100 He 6,13-19
because lie could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.”
[1.] Haviing boldly reflected on the faults of the Hebrews, and sufficiently alarmed them, he consoles them, first, by praises, and secondly (which also is the stronger ground), by the [thought] that they would certainly attain the object of their hope. Moreover he draws his consolation, not from things future, but again from the past, which indeed would the rather persuade them. For as in the case of punishment, he alarms them rather by those [viz. things future], so also in the case of the prizes [set before them], he encourages them by these [viz. by things past], showing [herein] God’s way of dealing. And that is, not to bring in what has been promised immediately, but after a long time. And this He does, both to present the greatest proof of His power, and also to lead us to Faith, that they who are living in tribulation without having received the promises, or the rewards, may not faint under their troubles.
And omitting all [the rest], though he had many whom he might have mentioned, he brought forward Abraham both on account of the dignity of his person, and because this had occurred in a special way in his case.
And yet at the end of the Epistle he says, that “all these, having seen the promises afar off, and having embraced them, received them not, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (c. 11,13). “For when God made promise to Abraham” (he says) “because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (c. 11,39-40). How then does he say at the end [of the Epistle] that “he received not the promises,” and here, that “after he had patiently endured he obtained the promise”? How did he not receive? How did he obtain? He is not speaking of the same things in this place and in the other, but makes the consolation twofold. God made promises to Abraham, and after a long space of time He gave the things [spoken of] in this place, but those others not yet.
“And so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Seest thou that the promise alone did not effect the whole, but the patient waiting as well? Here he alarms them, showing that oftentimes a promise is thwarted through faintheartedness.1 And this he had indeed shown through [the instance of] the [Jewish] people: for since they were faint-hearted, therefore they obtained not the promise. But now he shows the contrary by means of Abraham. Afterwards near the end [of the Epistle] he proves something more also: [viz.] that even though they had patiently endured, they did not obtain; and yet not even so are they grieved.
1102 [2.] “For men verily swear by the greater, and an Oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. But God because He could swear by no greater, sware by Himself.” Well, who then is He that sware unto Abraham? Is it not the Son? No, one says. Certainly indeed it was He: however, I shall not dispute [thereon]. So when He [the Son] sweareth the same oath, “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” is it not plain that it was because He could not swear by any greater? For as the Father sware, so also the Son sweareth by Himself, saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He here reminds them also of the oaths of Christ, which He was constantly uttering. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, he that believeth on Me shall never die.” (Jn 11,26).
What is, “And an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife”? it is instead of, “by this every doubtful question is solved”: not this, or this, but every one.
God, however, ought to have been believed even without an oath: (He 6,17) “wherein” (he says) “God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it [lit. “mediated”2 ] by an oath.” In these words he comprehends also the believers, and therefore mentions this “promise” which was made to us in common [with them]. “He mediated” (he says) “by an oath.” Here again he says that the Son was mediator between men and God.
He 6,18. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible that God should lie.” What are these two? The speaking and promising; and the adding an oath to the promise. For since among men that which is [confirmed] by an oath is thought more worthy of credit, on this account He added that also.
Seest thou that He regardeth not His own dignity, but how He may persuade men, and endures to have unworthy things said concerning Himself. That is He wishes to impart full assurance. And in the case of Abraham indeed [the Apostle] shows that the whole was of God, not of his patient endurance, since He was even willing to add an oath, for He by whom men swear, by Him also God “sware,” that is “by Himself.” They indeed as by one greater, but He not as by one greater. And yet He did it. For it is not the same thing for man to swear by himself, as for God. For man has no power over himself. Thou seest then that this is said not more for Abraham than for ourselves: “that we” (he says) “might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us.” Here too again,3 “after he had patiently endured he obtained the promise.”
“Now” he means, and he did not say “when4 He swore.” But what the oath is, he showed, by speaking of swearing by a greater. But since the race of men is hard of belief, He condescends to the same [things] with ourselves. As then for our sake He swears, although it be unworthy of Him that He should not be believed, so also did [the Apostle] make that other statement “He learned from the things which He suffered” (c. 5, 8), because men think the going through experience more worthy of reliance.
What is “the hope set before us”? From these [past events] (he says) we conjecture the future. For if these came to pass after so long a time, so certainly the others will. So that the things which happened in regard to Abraham give us confidence also concerning the things to come.
1103 [3.] (He 6,19-20) “Which [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil: whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made High Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” He shows, that while we are still in the world, and not yet departed from [this] life, we are already among the promises. For through hope we are already in heaven. He said, “Wait; for it shall surely be.” Afterwards giving them full assurance, he says, “nay rather by hope.”5 And he said not, “We are within,” but ‘It hath entered within,’ which was more true and more persuasive. For as the anchor, dropped from the vessel, does not allow it to be carried about, even if ten thousand winds agitate it, but being depended upon makes it steady, so also does hope.
And see how very suitable an image he has discovered: For he said not, Foundation; which was not suitable; but, “Anchor.” For that which is on the tossing sea, and seems not to be very firmly fixed, stands on the water as upon land, and is shaken and yet is not shaken. For in regard to those who are very firm, and philosophic, Christ with good reason made that statement, saying, “Whosoever hath built his house on a rock.” (Mt 7,24). But in respect of those who are giving way, and who ought to be carried through by hope, Paul hath suitably set down this. For the surge and the great storm toss the boat; but hope suffers it not to be carried hither and thither, although winds innumerable agitate it: so that, unless we had this [hope] we should long ago have been sunk. Nor is it only in things spiritual, but also in the affairs of this life, that one may find the power of hope great. Whatever it may be, in merchandise, in husbandry, in a military expedition, unless one sets this before him, he would not even touch the work. But he said not simply “Anchor,” but “sure and steadfast” [i.e.] not shaken. “Which entereth into that within the veil”; instead of ‘which reacheth through even to heaven.’
1104 [4.] Then after this he led on to Faith also, that there might not only be hope, but a very true [hope]. For after the oath he lays down another thing too, even proof by facts, because “the forerunner is for us entered in, even Jesus.” But a forerunner is a forerunner of some one, as Jn was of Christ.
Now he did not simply say, “He is entered in,” but “where He is entered in a forerunner for us,” as though we also ought to attain. For there is no great interval between the forerunner and those who follow: otherwise he would not be a forerunner; for the forerunner and those who follow ought to be in the same road, and to arrive after [each other].
“Being made an High Priest forever after the order,” he says, “of Melchisedec.” Here is also another consolation, if our High Priest is on high, and far better than those among the Jews, not in the kind [of Priesthood] only, but also in the place, and the tabernacle, and the covenant, and the person. And this also is spoken according to the flesh.
1105 [5.] Those then, whose High Priest He is, ought to be greatly superior. And as great as the difference is between Aaron and Christ, so great should it be between us and the Jews. For see, we have our victim6 on high, our priest on high, our sacrifice7 on high: let us bring such sacrifices as can be offered on that altar, no longer sheep and oxen, no longer blood and fat. All these things have been done away; and there has been brought in their stead “the reasonable service.” (Rm 12,1). But what is “the reasonable service”? The [offerings made] through the soul; those made through the spirit. (“God,” it is said, “is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”— Jn 4,24); things which have no need of a body, no need of instruments, nor of special places, whereof each one is himself the Priest, such as, moderation, temperance, mercifulness, enduring ill-treatment, long-suffering, humbleness of mind.
These sacrifices one may see in the Old [Testament] also, shadowed out beforehand. “Offer to God,” it is said, “a sacrifice of righteousness” (Ps 4,5); “Offer a sacrifice of praise” (Ps 50,14); and, “a sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me” (Ps 50,23), and, “the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit” (Ps 51,17); and “what doth the Lord require of thee but” to hearken to Him? (Mi 6,8). “Burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure in: then I said, Lo I come to do Thy will, O God!” (Ps 40,6-7), and again, “To what purpose do ye bring the incense from Sheba?” (Jr 6,20). “Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs, for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.” (Am 5,23). But instead of these “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” (Os 6,6). Thou seest with what kind of “sacrifices God is well pleased.” (c. 13,16). Thou seest also that already from the first the one class have given place, and these have come in their stead.
These therefore let us bring, for the other indeed are [the offerings] of wealth and of persons who have [possessions], but these of virtue: those from without, these from within: those any chance person even might perform; these only a few. And as much as a man is superior to a sheep, so much is this sacrifice superior to that; for here thou offerest thy soul as a victim.
1106 [6.] And other sacrifices also there are, which are indeed whole burnt-offerings, the bodies of the martyrs: there both soul and body [are offered]. These have a great savor of a sweet smell. Thou also art able, if thou wilt, to bring such a sacrifice.
For what, if thou dost not burn thy body in the fire? Yet in a different fire thou canst; for instance, in that of voluntary poverty, in that of affliction. For to have it in one’s power to spend one’s days in luxury and expense, and yet to take up a life of toil and bitterness, and to mortify the body, is not this a whole burnt-offering? Mortify thy body, and crucify it, and thou shalt thyself also receive the crown of this martyrdom. For what in the other case the sword accomplishes, that in this case let a willing mind effect. Let not the love of wealth burn, or possess you, but let this unreasonable appetite itself be consumed and quenched by the fire of the Spirit; let it be cut in pieces by the sword of the Spirit.
This is an excellent sacrifice, needing no priest but him who brings it. This is an excellent sacrifice, performed indeed below but forthwith taken up on high. Do we not wonder that of old time fire came down and consumed all? It is possible now also that fire may come down far more wonderful than that, and consume all the presented offerings:8 nay rather, not consume, but bear them up to heaven. For it does not reduce them to ashes, but offers them as gifts to God.
1107 [7.] Such were the offerings of Cornelius. For (it is said) “thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” (Ac 10,4). Thou seest a most excellent union. Then are we heard, when we ourselves also hear the poor who come to us. “He” (it is said) “that stoppeth his ears that he may not hear the poor” (Pr 21,13), his prayer God will not hearken to. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day.” (Ps 40,1). But what day is evil except that one which is evil to sinners?
What is meant by “he that considereth”? He that understandeth what it is to be a poor man, that has thoroughly learned his affliction. For he that has learned his affliction, will certainly and immediately have compassion on him. When thou seest a poor man, do not hurry by, but immediately reflect what thou wouldest have been, hadst thou been he. What wouldest thou not have wished that all should do for thee? “He that considereth” (he says). Reflect that he is a free-man like thyself, and shares the same noble birth with thee, and possesses all things in common with thee; and yet oftentimes he is not on a level even with thy dogs. On the contrary, while they are satiated, he oftentimes lies, sleeps, hungry, and the free-man is become less honorable than thy slaves.
But they perform needful services for thee. What are these? Do they serve thee well? Suppose then I show that this [poor man] too performs needful services for thee far greater than they do. For he will stand by thee in the Day of judgment, and will deliver thee from the fire. What do all thy slaves do like this? When Tabitha died, who raised her up? The slaves who stood around or the poor? But thou art not even willing to put the free-man on an equality with thy slaves. The frost is hard, and the poor man is cast out in rags, well-nigh dead, with his teeth chattering, both by his looks and his air fitted to move thee: and thou passeth by, warm and full of drink; and how dost thou expect that God should deliver thee when in misfortune?
And oftentimes thou sayest this too: ‘If it had been myself, and I had found one that had done man), wrong things, i would have forgiven him; and does not God forgive?’ Say not this. Him that has done thee no wrong, whom thou art able to deliver, him thou neglectest. How shall He forgive thee, who art sinning against Him? Is not this deserving of hell?
And how amazing! Oftentimes thou adornest with vestments innumerable, of varied colors and wrought with gold, a dead body, insensible, no longer perceiving the honor; whilst that which is in pain, and lamenting, and tormented, and racked by hunger and frost, thou neglectest; and givest more to vainglory, than to the fear of God.
1108 [8.] And would that it stopped here; but immediately accusations are brought against the applicant. For why does he not work (you say)? And why is he to be maintained in idleness? But (tell me) is it by working that thou hast what thou hast, didst thou not receive it as an inheritance from thy fathers? And even if thou dost work, is this a reason why thou shouldest reproach another? Hearest thou not what Paul saith? For after saying, “He that worketh not, neither let him eat” (2Th 3,10), he says, “But ye be not weary in well doing.” (2Th 3,13).
But what say they? He is an impostor.9 What sayest thou, 0 man? Callest thou him an impostor, for the sake of a single loaf or of a garment? But (you say) he will sell it immediately. And dost thou manage all thy affairs well? But what? Are all poor through idleness? Is no one so from shipwreck? None from lawsuits? None from being robbed? None from dangers? None from illness? None from any other difficulties? If however we hear any, one bewailing such evils, and crying out aloud, and looking up naked toward heaven, and with long hair, and clad in rags, at once we call him, The impostor! The deceiver! The swindler! Art thou not ashamed? Whom dost thou call impostor? Give nothing, and do not accuse the man.
But (you say) he has means, and pretends. This is a charge against thyself, not against him. He knows that he has to deal with the cruel, with wild beasts rather than with men, and that, even if he utter a pitiable story, he attracts no one’s attention: and on this account he is forced to assume also a more miserable guise, that he may melt thy soul. If we see a person coming to beg in a respectable dress, This is an impostor (you say), and he comes in this way that he may be supposed to be of good birth. If we see one in the contrary guise, him too we reproach. What then are they to do? O the cruelty, O the inhumanity!
And why (you say) do they expose their maimed limbs? Because of thee. If we were compassionate, they would have no need of these artifices: if they persuaded us at the first application, they would not have contrived these devices. Who is there so wretched, as to be willing to cry out so much, as to be willing to behave in an unseemly way, as to be willing to make public lamentations, with his wife destitute of clothing, with his children, to sprinkle ashes on [himself]. How much worse than poverty are these things? Yet on account of them not only are they not pitied, but are even accused by us.
1109 [9.] Shall we then still be indignant, because when we pray to God, we are not heard? Shall we then still be vexed, because when we entreat we do not persuade? Do we not tremble for fear, my beloved?
But (you say) I have often given. But dost thou not always eat? And dost thou drive away thy children often begging of thee? O the shamelessness! Dost thou call a poor man shameless? And thou indeed art not shameless when plundering, but he is shameless when begging for bread! Considerest thou not how great are the necessities of the belly? Dost not thou do all things for this? Dost thou not for this neglect things spiritual? Is not heaven set before thee and the kingdom of heaven? And thou fearing the tyranny of that [appetite] endurest all things, and thinkest lightly of that [kingdom]. This is shamelessness.
Seest thou not old men maimed? But O what trifling! ‘Such an one’ (you say) ‘lends out so many pieces of gold, and such an one so many, and yet begs.’ You repeat the stories and trifles of children; for they too are always hearing such stories from their nurses. I am not persuaded of it. I do not believe this. Far from it. Does a man lend money, and beg when he has abundance? For what purpose, tell me? And what is more disgraceful than begging? It were better to die than to beg. Where does our in inhumanity stop? What then? Do all lendmoney? Are all impostors? Is there no one really poor? “Yea” (you say) “and many.” Why then dost thou not assist those persons, seeing thou art a strict enquirer into their lives? This is an excuse and a pretense.
“Give to every one 10 that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Mt 5,42). Stretch out thy hand, let it not be closed up. We have not been constituted examiners into men’s lives, since so we should have compassion on no one. When thou callest upon God why dost thou say, Remember not my sins? So then, if that person even be a great sinner, make this allowance in his case also, and do not remember his sins. It is the season of kindness, not of strict enquiry; of mercy, not of account. He wishes to be maintained: if thou art willing, give; but if not willing, send him away without raising doubts. 11 Why art thou wretched and miserable? Why dost thou not even thyself pity him, and also turnest away those who would? For when such an one hears from thee, This [fellow] is a cheat; that a hypocrite; and the other lends out money; he neither gives to the one nor to the other; for he syspects all to be such. For you know that we easily suspect evil, but good, not [so easily].
1110 [10.] Let us “be merciful,” not simply so, but “as our heavenly Father is.” (Lc 6,36). He feeds even adulterers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and what shall I say? Those having every kind of wickedness. For in so large a world there must needs be many such. But nevertheless He feeds all; He clothes all. No one ever perished of hunger, unless one did so of his own choice. So let us be merciful. If one be in want and in necessity, help him.
But now we are come to such a degree of unreasonableness, as to act thus not only in regard to the poor who walk up and down the alleys, but even in the case of men that live in [religious] solitude. 12 Such an one is an impostor, you say. Did I not say this at first, that if we give to all indiscriminately, we shall always be compassionate; but if we begin to make over-curious enquiries, we shall never be compassionate? What dost thou mean? Is a man an impostor in order to get a loaf? If indeed he asks for talents of gold and silver, or costly clothes, or slaves, or anything else of this sort, one might with good reason call him a swindler. But if he ask none of these things, but only food and shelter, things which are suited to a philosophic life, 13 tell me, is this the part of a swindler? Cease we from this unseasonable fondness for meddling, which is Satanic, which is destructive.
For indeed, if a man say that he is on the list of the Clergy, or calls himself a priest, then busy thyself [to enquire], make much ado: since in that case the communicating 14 without enquiry is not without danger. For the danger is about matters of importance, for thou dost not give but receivest. But if he want food, make no enquiry.
Enquire, if thou wilt, how Abraham showed hospitality towards all who came to him. If he had been over-curious about those who fled to him for refuge, he would not have “entertained angels.” (c. 13,2). For perhaps not thinking them to be angels, he would have thrust them too away with the rest. But since he used to receive all, he received even angels.
What? Is it from the life of those that receive [thy bounty] that God grants thee thy reward? Nay [it is] from thine own purpose, from thy abundant liberality; from thy loving-kindness; from thy goodness. Let this be [found], and thou shalt attain all good things, which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen).
3 This observation seems to be suggested by the words “the hope set before us”: i.e. this is another instance of obtaining a future blessing by patient waiting. The next clause bears on the Apostle’s statement that this oath was made “that we might have consolation,” we, “now,” at this time; not Abraham, to whom the oath was originally made.
4 ejpeidh;, “at the very time that.”
5 Sav. And Ben. add h(dh ejtuvcete, “ye have already attained it.”
7 qusiva, “the act of sacrificing.” [qusiva commonly has the meaning given in the text, not that in the note.—F. G.]
8 ta; prokeivmena).
10 [St. Chrys. here supplies pavnti, equals “every one,” from the parallel place in Lc 6,30, though the form of quotation is from Mt 5,42.—F. G.]
12 monazovntwn ajndrw`n.
13 a) filosofiva" ejsti;, i.e. of the ascetics or solitary life.
1200 He 7,1-10
Priest of the most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him: to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of Righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of Peace, without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, But made like unto the Son of God, abideth a Priest continually.”
[1.] Paul wishing to show the difference between the New and Old [Covenant], scatters it everywhere; and shoots from afar, and noises it abroad,1 and prepares beforehand. For at once even from the introduction, he laid down this saying, that “to them indeed He spake by prophets, but to us by the Son” (c. i. 1, 1,2), and to them “at sundry times and in divers manners,” but to us through the Son. Afterwards, having discoursed concerning the Son, who He was and what He had wrought, and given an exhortation to obey Him, lest we should suffer the same things as the Jews; and having said that He is “High Priest after the order of Melchisedec” (c. 6,20), and having oftentimes wished to enter into [the subject of] this difference, and having used much preparatory management; and having rebuked them as weak, and again soothed and restored them to confidence; then at last he introduces the discussion on the difference [of the two dispensations] to ears in their full vigor. For he who is depressed in spirits would not be a ready hearer. And that you may understand this, hear the Scripture saying, “They hearkened not to Moses for anguish of spirit.”2 (Ex 6,9). Therefore having first cleared away their despondency by many considerations, some fearful, some more gentle, he then from this point enters upon the discussion of the difference [of the dispensations].
1202 [2.] And what does he say? “For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God.” And, what is especially noteworthy, he shows the difference to be great by the Type itself. For as I said, he continually confirms the truth from the Type, from things past, on account of the weakness of the hearers. “For” (he says) “this Melchisedec, King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all.” Having concisely set down the whole narrative, he looked at3 it mystically.
And first from the name. “First” (he says) “being by interpretation King of righteousness”: for Sedec means “righteousness”; and Melchi, “King”: Melchisedec, “King of righteousness.” Seest thou his exactness even in the names? But who is “King of righteousness,” save our Lord Jesus Christ? “King of righteousness. And after that also King of Salem,” from his city, “that is, King of Peace,” which again is [characteristic] of Christ. For He has made us righteous, and has “made peace” for “things in Heaven and things on earth.” (Col 1,20). What man is “King of Righteousness and of Peace”? None, save only our Lord Jesus Christ.
1203 [3.] He then adds another distinction, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a Priest continually.” Since then there lay in his way [as an objection] the [words] “Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec,”whereas he [Melchisedec] was dead, and was not “Priest for ever,” see how he explained it mystically.
‘And who can say this concerning a man?’ I do not assert this in fact (he says); the meaning is, we do not know when4 [or] what father he had, nor what mother, nor when he received his beginning, nor when he died. And what of this (one says)? For does it follow, because we do not know it, that he did not die, [or] had no parents? Thou sayest well: he both died and had parents. How then [was he] “without father, without mother”? How “having neither beginning of days nor end of life”? How? [Why] from its not being expressed.5 And what of this? That as this man is so, from his genealogy not being given, so is Christ from the very nature of the reality.
See the “without beginning”; see the “without end.” As in case of this man, we know not either “beginning of days,” or “end of life,” because they have not been written; so we know [them] not in the case of Jesus, not because they have not been written, but because they do not exist. For that indeed is a type,6 and therefore [we say] ‘because it is not written,’ but this is the reality,7 and therefore [we say] ‘because it does not exist.’ For as in regard to the names also (for there “King of Righteousness” and “of Peace” are appellations, but here the reality) so these too are appellations in that case, in this the reality. How then hath He a beginning? Thou seest that the Son is “without beginning,”8 not in respect of His not having a cause;9 (for this is impossible: for He has a Father, otherwise how is He Son?) but in respect of His “not having beginning or end of life.”
“But made like unto the Son of God.” Where is the likeness? That we know not of the one or of the other either the end or the beginning. Of the one because they are not written; of the other, because they do not exist. Here is the likeness. But if the likeness were to exist in all respects, there would no longer be type and reality; but both would be type). [Here] then just as in representations 10 [by painting or drawing], there is somewhat that is like and somewhat that is unlike. By means of the lines indeed there is a likeness of features, 11 but when the colors are put on, then the difference is plainly shown, both the likeness and the unlikeness.
1204 [4.] He 7,4. “Now consider” (saith he) “how great this man is to whom even the Patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” 12 Up to this point he has been applying the type: hence-forward he boldly shows him [Melchisedec] to be more glorious than the Jewish realities. But if he who bears a type of Christ is so much better not merely than the priests, but even than the forefather himself of the priests, what should one say of the reality? Thou seest how super-abundantly he shows the superiority.
“Now consider” (he says) “how great this man is to whom even the Patriarch Abraham gave a tenth out of the choice portions.” Spoils taken in battle are called “choice portions.” 13 And it cannot be said that he gave them to him as having a part in the war, because (he said) he met him “returning from the slaughter of the kings,” for he had staid at home (he means), yet [Abraham] gave him the first-fruits of his labors.
He 7,5. “And verily they that are of the sons of Levi who receive the office of Priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham.” So great (he would say) is the superiority of the priesthood, that they who from their ancestors are of the same dignity, and have the same forefather, are yet far better than the rest. At all events they “receive tithes” from them. When then one is found, who receives tithes from these very persons, are not they indeed in the rank of laymen, and he among the Priests?
And not only this; but neither was he of the same dignity with them, but of another race: so that he would not have given tithes to a stranger unless his dignity had been great. Astonishing! What has he accomplished? He has made quite clear a greater point than those relating to faith which he treated in the Epistle to the Romans. For there indeed he declares Abraham to be the forefather both of our polity and also of the Jewish. But here he is exceeding bold against him, and shows that the uncircumcised person is far superior. How then did he show that Levi paid tithes? Abraham (he says) paid them. ‘And how does this concern us?’ It especially concerns you: for you will not contend that the Levites are superior to Abraham. (He 7,6) “But he whose descent is not counted from them, received tithes of Abraham.”
And after that he did not simply pass on, but added, “and blessed him that had the promises.” Inasmuch as throughout, this was regarded with reverence, he shows that [Melchisedec] was to be reverenced more than Abraham, from the common judgment of all men. (He 7,7) “And without all contradiction,” he says, “the less is blessed of the better,” i.e. in the opinion of all men it is the inferior that is blessed by the superior. So then the type of Christ is superior even to “him that had the promises.”
(He 7,8) “And here men that die receive tithes: but there he of whom it is testified that he liveth.” But lest we should say, Tell us, why goest thou so far back? He says, (He 7,9) “And as I may so say” (and he did well in softening it) “Levi also who receiveth tithes payed tithes in Abraham.” How? (He 7,10) “For he was yet in his loins when Melchisedec met him,” i.e. Levi was in him, although he was not yet born. And he said not the Levites but Levi.
Hast thou seen the superiority? Hast thou seen how great is the interval between Abraham and Melchisedec, who bears the type of our High Priest? And he shows that the superiority had been caused by authority, not necessity. For the one paid the tithe, which indicates the priest: the other gave the blessing, which indicates the superior. This superiority passes on also to the descendants.
In a marvelous and triumphant way he cast out the Jewish [system]. On this account he said, “Ye are become dull,” (c. 5,12), because he wished to lay these foundations, that they might not start away. Such is the wisdom of Paul, first preparing them well, he so leads 14 them into what he wishes. For the human race is hard to persuade, and needs much attention, even more than plants. Since in that case there is [only] the nature of material bodies, and earth, which yields to the hands of the husbandmen: but in this there is will, which is liable to many alterations, and now prefers this, now that. For it quickly turns to evil.
1205 [5.] Wherefore we ought always to “guard” ourselves, test at any time we should fall asleep. For “Lo” (it is said) “he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps 121,4), and “Do not suffer 15 thy foot to be moved.” (Ps 121,3). He did not say, ‘be not moved’ but “do not thou suffer,” &c. The suffering depends then on ourselves, and not on any other. For if we will stand “steadfast and unmoveable” (1Co 15,58), we shall not be shaken.
What then? Does nothing depend on God? All indeed depends on God, but not so that our free-will is hindered. ‘If then it depend on God,’ (one says), ‘why does He blame us?’ On this account I said, ‘so that our free-will is no hindered.’ It depends then on us, and on Him For we must first choose the good; and then He leads us to His own. 16 He does not anticipate our choice, 17 lest our free-will should be outraged. But when we have chosen, then great is the assistance he brings to us.
How is it then that Paul says, “not of him that willeth,” if it depend on ourselves also “nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” (Rm 9,16).
In the first place, he did not introduce it as his own opinion, but inferred it from what was before him and from what had been put forward 18 [in the discussion]. For after saying, “It is written, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Rm 9,15),he says, “It follows then 19 that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” “Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth He yet find fault?” (Rm 9,16 Rm 9,19).
And secondly the other explanation may be given, that he speaks of all as His, whose the greater part is. For it is ours to choose 20 and to wish; but God’s to complete and to bring to an end. Since therefore the greater part is of Him, he says all is of Him, speaking according to the custom of men. For so we ourselves also do. I mean for instance: we see a house well built, and we say the whole is the Architect’s [doing], and yet certainly it is not all his, but the workmen’s also, and the owner’s, who supplies the materials, and many others’, but nevertheless since he contributed the greatest share, we call the whole his. So then [it is] in this case also. Again, with respect to a number of people, where the many are, we say All are: where few, nobody. So also Paul says, “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
And herein he establishes two great truths: one, that we should not be lifted up: 21 even shouldst thou run (he would say), even shouldstthou be very earnest, do not consider that the well doing 22 is thine own. For if thou obtain not the impulse 23 that is from above, all is to no purpose. Nevertheless that thou wilt attain that which thou earnestly strivest after is very evident; so long as thou runnest, so long as thou willest.
(He did not then assert this, that we run in vain, but that, if we think the whole to be our own, if we do not assign the greater part to God, we run in vain. For neither hath God willed that the whole should be His, lest He should appear to be crowning us without cause: nor again our’s, lest we should fall away to pride. For if when we have the smaller [share], we think much of ourselves, what should we do if the whole depended on us?
1206 [6.] Indeed God hath done away many things for the purpose of cutting away our boastfulness, and still there is the 24 high hand. With how many afflictions hath He encompassed us, so as to cut away our proud spirit! With how many wild beasts hath He encircled us! For indeed when some say, ‘why is this?’ ‘Of what use is this?’ They utter these things against the will of God. He hath placed thee in the midst of so great fear, and yet not even so art thou lowly-minded; but if thou ever attain a little success, thou reachest to Heaven itself in pride.
For this cause [come] rapid changes and reverses; and yet not even so are we instructed. For this cause are there continual and untimely deaths, but are minded as if we were immortal, as if we should never die. We plunder, we over-reach, as though we were never to give account. We build as if we were to abide here always. And not even the word of God daily sounded into our ears, nor the events themselves instruct us. Not a day, not an hour can be mentioned, in which we may not see continual funerals. But all in vain: and nothing reaches our hardness [of heart]: nor are we even able to become better by the calamities of others; or rather, we are not willing. When we ourselves only are afflicted, then we are subdued, and yet if God take off His hand, we again lift up our hand: no one considers what is proper for man, 25 no one despises the things on earth; no one looks to Heaven. But as swine turn their heads downwards, stooping towards their belly, wallowing in the mire; so too the great body of mankind defile themselves with the most intolerablefilth, without being conscious of it.
1207 [7.] For better were it to be defiled with unclean mud than with sins; for he who is defiled with the one, washes it off in a little time, and becomes like one who had never from the first fallen into that slough; but he who has fallen into the deep pit of sin has contracted a defilement that is not cleansed by water, but needs long time, and strict repentance, and tears and lamentations, and more wailing, and that more fervent, than we show over the dearest friends. For this defilement attaches to us from without, wherefore we also speedily put it away; but the other is generated from within, wherefore also we wash it off with difficulty, and cleanse ourselves from it. “For from the heart” (it is said) “proceed evil thoughts, fornications, adulteries, thefts, false witnesses.” (Mt 15,19). Wherefore also the Prophet said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Ps 51,10). And another, “Wash thine heart from wickedness, O Jerusalem.” (Jr 4,14). (Thou seest that it is both our [work] and God’s). And again, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt 5,8).
Let us become clean to the utmost of our power. Let us wipe away our sins. And how to wipe them away, the prophet teaches, saying, “Wash you, make you clean, put away yourwickedness from your souls, before Mine eyes.” (Is 1,16). What is “before Mine eyes”? Because some seem to be free from wickedness, but only to men, while to God they are manifest as being “whited sepulchers.” Therefore He says, so put them away as I see. “Learn to do well, seek judgment, do justice for the poor and lowly.” “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make you white as snow, and if they be as crimson, I will make you white as wool.” (Is 1,17-18). Thou seest that we must first cleanse ourselves, and then God cleanses us. For having said first, “Wash you, make you clean,” He then added “I will make you white.”
Let no one then, [even] of those who are come to the extremest wickedness, despair of himself. For (He says) even if thou hast passed into the habit, yea and almost into the nature of wickedness itself, be not afraid. Therefore taking [the instance of] colors that are not superficial but almost of the substance of the materials, He said that He would bring them into the opposite state. For He did not simply say that He would “wash” us, but that He would “make” us “white, as snow and as wool,” in order to hold out good hopes before us. Great then is the power of repentance, at least if it makes us as snow, and whitens us as wool, even if sin have first got possession and dyed our souls.
Let us labor earnestly then to become clean; He has enjoined nothing burdensome. “Judge the fatherless, and do justice for the widow.” (Is 1,17). Thou seest everywhere how great account God makes of mercy, and of standing forward in behalf of those that are wronged. These good deeds let us pursue after, and we shall be able also, by the grace of God, to attain to the blessings to come: which may we all be counted worthy of, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen).
2 ojligoyucivan, “faint-heartedness.”
3 ejqewvrhse, “drew out the mystical senses.”
4 Mr. Field reads povte, making a double question. The other editions have pote, “at all.”
10 eijkovsin. The comparison is not between the living object and the picture, but between representations in drawing and in painting; the word ei]kwn, as our “likeness,” being applicable to both. The passage is considerably altered in the common editions so as to avoid an apparent difficulty.
12 “choice portions.”
15 In Psalm 121,3 (cxx. 3, LXX). where we have “(He shall not suffer,” &c., the LXX. have, mh; dwvh" eij" savlon to;n povda son, mhde; nustavxh/ (Vat)). oJ fulavsswn se, “Lest thou suffer,” &c., and “lest he that keepeth thee slumber.” St. Chrys. substitutes dw`/" for dwv/h", making the sense, “Do not suffer,” &c., “and let not him that keepeth thee slumber.” This he applies to the Christian keeping guard over himself (his words are crh; pavntote fulavttein eJautou;", mhvpote ajponustavxwmen): and so he seems to have understood ver. 4, of the Christian: that a watchman of Israel ought not to slumber or sleep. The Alex). ms. has nustavxei in the third verse.
16 eijsavgei ta; parAE eJautou`, His part.
17 boulhvsei" Those acts of the soul whereby we desire and aim at what is good.
18 prokeimevnou…problhqevnto". The former word is used by St. Chrys. to express the portion of Scripture on which he is treating: the latter is a received term in the dialectical method of the Greeks to express a proposition put forward to be argued from, to see what consequences follow from it, with a view of showing it to be untrue, or determining the sense in which it is true. St. Chrys. means to say that this proposition was only thus argumentatively inferred by St. Paul.
19 [Ara ou|n.
20 or, “purpose and will,” proelevsqai kai; boulhqh`nai.
21 In the genuine text here as in some other places, there is no mention of the second point. The longer text has “one that we should not be lifted up by what we do well: the other that when we do well, we should attribute to God the cause of our well-doing. Therefore,” &c. Mr. Field thinks that either the thread of the discourse is broken, and the second point not mentioned, or (which seems more probable) that it is contained in the words “Nevertheless,” &c.
23 rJoph;: “The inclining of the balance”; or, “the weight which makes it turn.”
24 Sav. and Ben. add aujtou`, “His hand is high”; but the reference is to our sinning “with a high hand,” as appears from what follows in the next paragraph).
25 oujdei;" ajnqrwvpina fronei`. This is the reading also of Savile and Morell. It is supported by one ms. and the pr. m. of another: which had been corrected to oujd. oujravnia f., the reading of the Verona edition. Mutianus has nemo divina sapit; and the later translator coelestia. The other mss. have ajnqrwvpina perifronei`. tapeina; fronei`, tapeinofronei`. Montfaucon conjectured ta; a]nw fronei`).
Chrysostom He 1100