Chrysostom He 3100

Homily XXXI. Hebrews 12,14.—“Follow peace with all men, and holiness,\i

3100 He 12,14-17

1 without which no one shall see the Lord.”

[1.] There are many things characteristic of Christianity: but more than all, and better than all, Love towards one another, and Peace. Therefore Christ also saith, “My peace I give unto you.” (Jn 14,27). And again, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another.” (Jn 13,35). Therefore Paul too says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness,” that is, purity,2 “without which no man shall see the Lord.”

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” As if they were traveling together on some long journey, in a large company, he says, Take heed that no man be left behind: I do not seek this only, that ye should arrive yourselves, but also that ye should look diligently after the others.

“Lest any man” (he says) “fail of the grace of God.” (He means the good things to come, the faith of the gospel, the best course of life: for they all are of“the Grace of God.”) Do not tell me, It is [but] one that perisheth. Even for one Christ died. Hast thou no care for him “for whom Christ died”? (1Co 8,11).

“Looking diligently,” he saith, that is, searching carefully, considering, thoroughly ascertaining, as is done in the case of sick persons, and in all ways examining, thoroughly ascertaining. “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.” (Dt 29,18). This is found in Deuteronomy; and he derived it from the metaphor of plants. “Lest any root of bitterness,” he says; which he said also in another place when he writes, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (1Co 5,6). Not for his sake alone do I wish this, he means, but also on account of the harm arising therefrom. That is to say, even if there be a root of this kind, do not suffer any shoot to come up, but let it be cut off, that it may not bear its proper fruits, that so it may not defile and pollute the others also. For, he saith, “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you; and by it many be defiled.”

And with good reason did he call sin “bitter”: for truly nothing is more bitter than sin, and they know it, who after they have committed it pine away under their conscience, who endure much bitterness. For being exceedingly bitter, it perverts the reasoning faculty itself. Such is the nature of what is bitter: it is unprofitable.

And well said he, “root of bitterness.” He said not, “bitter,” but “of bitterness.” For it is possible that a bitter root might bear sweet fruits; but it is not possible that a root and fountain and foundation of bitterness, should ever bear sweet fruit; for all is bitter, it has nothing sweet, all are bitter, all unpleasant, all full of hatred and abomination.

“And by this” (he says) “many be defiled.” That is, Cut off the lascivious persons.

3102 [2.] He 12,16. “Lest there be any fornicator: or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”3

And wherein was Esau a “fornicator”? He does not say that Esau was a fornicator. “Lest there be any fornicator,” he says, then, “follow after holiness: lest there be any, as Esau, profane”: that is, gluttonous, without self-control, worldly, selling away things spiritual.

“Who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright,” who through his own slothfulness sold this honor which he had from God, and for a little pleasure, lost the greatest honor and glory. This was suitable to them. This [was the conduct] of an abominable, of an unclean person. So that not only is the fornicator unclean, but also the glutton, the slave of his belly. For he also is a slave of a different pleasure. He is forced to be overreaching, he is forced to be rapacious, to behave himself unseemly in ten thousand ways, being the slave of that passion, and oftentimes he blasphemes. So he accounted “his birthright” to be nothing worth. That is, providing for temporary refreshment, he went even to the [sacrifice of his] “birthright.” So henceforth “the birthright” belongs to us, not to the Jews. And at the same time also this is added to their calamity, that the first is become last, and the second, first: the one, for courageous endurance; the other last for indolence.

3103 [3.] He 12,17. “For ye know” (he says) “how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected. For he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” What now is this? Doth he indeed exclude repentance? By no means. ‘But how, you say, was it that “he found no place of repentance”?’ For if he condemned himself, if he made a great wailing, why did he “find no place of repentance”? Because it was not really a case of repentance. For as the grief of Cain was not of repentance, and the murder proved it; so also in this case, his words were not those of repentance, and the murder afterwards proved it. For even he also in intention slew Jacob. For “The days of mourning for my father,” he said, “are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.” (Gn 27,41). “Tears” had not power to give him “repentance.” And [the Apostle] did not say “by repentance” simply, but even “with tears, he found no place of repentance.” Why now? Because he did not repent as he ought, for this is repentance he repented not as it behoved him.

For how is it that he [the Apostle] said this? How did he exhort them again after they had become “sluggish” (He 6,12)? How, when they were become “lame”? How, when they were “paralyzed”4 (He 12,13)? How, when they were “relaxed”5 (He 12,12)? For this is the beginning of a fall. He seems to me to hint at some fornicators amongst them, but not to wish at that time to correct them: but feigns ignorance that they might correct themselves. For it is right at first indeed to pretend ignorance: but afterwards, when they continue [in sin], then to add reproof also, that so they may not become shameless. Which Moses also did in the case of Zimri and the daughter of Cosbi.

“For he found” (he says) “no place of repentance,” he found not repentance; or that he sinned beyond6 repentance. There are then sins beyond repentance. His meaning is, Let us not fall by an incurable fall. So long as it is a matter of lameness, it is easy to become upright: but if we turn out of the way, what will be left? For it is to those who have not yet fallen that he thus discourses, striking them with terror, and says that it is not possible for him who is fallen to obtain consolation; but to those who have fallen, that they may not fall into despair, he says the contrary, speaking thus, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ he formed in you.” (Ga 4,19). And again, “Whosoever of you are justified by the Law, are fallen from Grace.” (Ga 5,4). Lo! he testifies that they had fallen away. For he that standeth, hearing that it is not possible to obtain pardon after having fallen, will be more zealous, and more cautious about his standing: if however thou use the same violence towards one also who is fallen, he will never rise again. For by what hope will he show forth the change?

But he not only wept (you say), but also “sought earnestly.” He does not then exclude repentance; but makes them careful not to fall.

3104 [4.] As many then as do not believe in Hell, let them call these things to mind: as many as think to sin without being punished, let them take account of these things. Why did Esau not obtain pardon? Because he repented not as he ought. Wouldest thou see perfect repentance? Hear of the repentance of Peter after his denial. For the Evangelist in relating to us the things concerning him, says, “And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Mt 26,75). Therefore even such a sin was forgiven him, because he repented as he ought. Although the Victim had not yet been offered, nor had The Sacrifice as yet been made, nor was sin as yet-taken away, it still had the rule and sovereignty.

And that thou mayest learn, that this denial [arose] not so much from sloth, as from His being forsaken of God, who was teaching him to know the measures of man and not to contradict the sayings of the Master, nor to be more high-minded than the rest, but to know that nothing can be done without God, and that “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps 127,1): therefore also Christ said to him alone, “Satan desired to sift thee as wheat,” and I allowed it not, “that thy faith may not fail.” (Lc 22,31-32). For since it was likely that he would be high-minded, being conscious to himself that he loved Christ more than they all, therefore “he wept bitterly”; and he did other things after his weeping, of the same character. For what did he do? After this he exposed himself to dangers innumerable, and by many means showed his manliness and courage.

Judas also repented, but in an evil way: for he hanged himself. Esau too repented; as I said; or rather, he did not even repent; for his tears were not [tears] of repentance, but rather of pride and wrath. And what followed proved this. The blessed David repented, thus saying, “Every night will I wash my bed: I will water my conch with my tears.” (Ps 6,6). And the sin which had been committed long ago, after so many years, after so many generations he bewailed, as if it had recently occurred.

3105 [5.] For he who repents ought not to be angry, nor to be fierce, but to be contrite, as one condemned, as not having boldness, as one on whom sentence has been passed, as one who ought to be saved by mercy alone, as one who has shown himself ungrateful toward his Benefactor, as unthankful, as reprobate, as worthy of punishments innumerable. If he considers these things, he will not be angry, he will not be indignant, but will mourn, will weep, will groan, and lament night and day.He that is penitent ought never to forget his sin, but on the one hand, to beseech God not to remember it; while on the other, he himself never forgets it. If we remember it, God will forget it. Let us exact punishment from ourselves; let us accuse ourselves; thus shall we propitiate the Judge. For sin confessed becomes less, but not confessed worse. For if sin add to itself shamelessness and ingratitude, how will he who does not know that he sinned before be at all able to guard himself from falling again into the same [evils]?

Let us then not deny [our sins], I beseech you, nor be shameless, that we may not unwillingly pay the penalty. Cain heard God say, “Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” (
Gn 4,9). Seest thou how this made his sin more grievous? But his father did not act thus. What then? When he heard,“Adam, where art thou?” (Gn 3,9), he said, “I heard Thy voice, and I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself.” (Gn 3,10). It is a great good to acknowledge our sins, and to bear them in mind continually. Nothing so effectually cures a fault, as a continual remembrance of it. Nothing makes a man so slow to wickedness.

3106 [6.] I know that conscience starts back, and endures not to be scourged by the remembrance of evil deeds; but hold tight thy soul and place a muzzle on it. For like an ill-broken7 horse, so it bears impatiently [what is put upon it], and is unwilling to persuade itself that it has sinned: but all this is the work of Satan.8 But let us persuade it that it has sinned; let us persuade it that it has sinned, that it may also repent, in order that having repented it may escape torment. How dost thou think to obtain pardon for thy sins, tell me, when thou hast not yet confessed them? Assuredly he is worthy of compassion and kindness who has sinned. But thou who hast not yet persuaded thyself [that thou hast sinned], how dost thou think to be pitied, when thou art thus without shame for some things?9

Let us persuade ourselves that we have sinned. Let us say it not with the tongue only, but also with the mind. Let us not call ourselves sinners, but also count over our sins, going over them each specifically. 10 I do not say to thee, Make a parade of thyself, nor accuse thyself before others: but be persuaded by the prophet when he saith, “Reveal thy way unto the Lord.” (
Ps 37,5). Confess these things before God. Confess before the Judge thy sins with prayer; if not with tongue, yet in memory, and be worthy of mercy.

If thou keep thy sins continually in remembrance, thou wilt never bear in mind the wrongs of thy neighbor. I do not say, if thou art persuaded that thou art thyself a sinner; this does not avail so to humble the soul, as sins themselves [taken] by themselves, and examined specifically. 11 Thou wilt have no remembrance of wrongs [done thee], if thou hast these things continually in remembrance; thou wilt feel no anger, thou wilt not revile, thou wilt have no high thoughts, thou wilt not fall again into the same [sins], thou wilt be more earnest towards good things.

3107 [7.] Seest thou how many excellent [effects] are produced from the remembrance of our sins? Let us then write them in our minds. I know that the soul does not endure a recollection which is so bitter: but let us constrain and force it. It is better that it should be gnawed with the remembrance now, than at that time with vengeance.

Now, if thou remember them, and continually present them before God (see (p. 448), and pray for them, thou wilt speedily blot them out; but if thou forget them now, thou wilt then be reminded of them even against thy will, when they are brought out publicly before the whole world, displayed before all, both friends and enemies, and Angels. For surely He did not say to David only, “What thou didst secretly, I will make manifest to” (
2S 12,12) all, but even to us all. Thou wert afraid of men (he said) and respected them more than God; and God seeing thee, thou caredst not, but wert ashamed before men. For it says, 12 “the eyes of men, this is their fear.” Therefore thou shalt suffer punishment in that very point; for I will reprove thee, setting thy sins before the eyes of all. For that this is true, and that in that day the sins of us all are [to be] publicly displayed, unless we now do them away by continual remembrance, hear how cruelty and inhumanity are publicly exposed, “I was an hungered” (He says) “gave Me no meat.” and ye (Mt 25,42). When are these things said? Is it in a corner? Is it in a secret place? 13 By no means. When then? “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory” (Mt 25,31-32), and “all the nations” are gathered together, when He has separated the one from the other, then will He speak in the audience of all, and will “set” them “on His right hand” and “on” His “left” (Mt 25,33): “I was an hungered and ye gave Me no meat.”

See again the five virgins also, hearing before all, “I know you not.” (Mt 25,12). For the five and five do not set forth the number of five only, but those virgins who are wicked and cruel and inhuman, and those who are not such. So also he that buried his one talent, heard before all, even of those who had brought the five and the two, “Thou wicked and slothful servant.” (Mt 25,26). But not by words alone, but by deeds also does He then convict them: even as the Evangelist also says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” (Jn 19,37). For the resurrection shall be of all at the same time, of sinners and of the righteous. At the same time shall He be present to all in the judgment.

3108 [8.] Consider therefore who they are who shall then be in dismay, who in grief, who dragged away to the fire, while the others are crowned. “Come” (He says), “ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mt 25,34). And again, “Depart from Me into the fire which hath been prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Mt 25,41).

Let us not merely hear the words but writes them also before our sight, and let us imagine Him to be now present and saying these things, and that we are led away to that fire. What heart shall we have? What consolation? And what, when we are cut asunder? And what when we are accused of rapacity? What excuse shall we have to utter? What specious argument? None: but of necessity bound, bending down, we must be dragged to the mouths of the furnace, to the river of fire, to the darkness, to thenever-dying punishments, and entreat no one. For it is not, it is not possible, He says, to passacross from this side to that: for “there is a great gulf betwixt us and you” (Lc 16,26),and it is not possible even for those who wish it to go across, and stretch out a helping hand: but we must needs burn continually, no one aiding us, even should it be father or mother, or any whosoever, yea though he have much boldness toward God. For, it says, “A brother doth not redeem; shall man redeem?” (Ps 49,8).

Since then it is not possible to have one’s hopes of salvation in another, but [it must be] in one’s self after the lovingkindness of God, let us do all things, I entreat you, so that our conduct may be pure, and our course of life the best, and that it may not receive any stain even from the beginning. But if not, at all events, let us not sleep after the stain, but continue always washing away the pollution by repentance, by tears, by prayers, by works of mercy.

What then, you say, if I cannot do works of mercy? 14 But thou hast “a cup of cold water” (Mt 10,42), however poor thou art. But thou hast “two mites” (Mc 12,42), in whatever poverty thou art; but thou hast feet, so as to visit the sick, so as to enter into a prison; but thou hast a roof, so as to receive strangers. For there is no pardon, no, none for him who does not do works of mercy.

These things we say to you continually, that we may effect if it be but a little by the continued repetition: these things we say, not caring so much for those who receive the benefits, as for yourselves. For ye give to them indeed things here, but in return you receive heavenly things: which may we all obtain, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father be glory, together with the Holy Ghost, now and ever, and world without end. Amen).

1 or, “the sanctification.”
2 semnovthta, properly a disposition and conduct which creates respect or reverence: so specially (here as in other places) chastity. See Hom. 30,[3], above, p. 504.
3 prwtotovkia, “birthright privileges.”
4 [paraluqevnta"…pareimevnou", as in ver. 12.]
5 [paraluqevnta"…pareimevnou", as in ver. 12.]
6 meivzona, “committed sins too great for repentance.”
7 dushvnio".
8 satanikovn.
9 ejpiv tivsin.
10 katAE ei\do", see above, p. 412.
11 katAE ei\do".
12 This seems to be alleged as a citation from Holy Scripture, but it does not appear what passage St. Chrysostom had in view.
13 ejn parabuvstw/).
14 ejlethmosuvnhn ejrgavzesqai).

Homily XXXII. Hebrews 12,18–24.—“For ye are not come unto a fire\i

3200 He 12,18-20

1 that might be touched and that burned, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.2 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned.3 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake).But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem; and to an innumerable company of Angels, to the general assembly,4 and Church of the first-born which are written in Heaven; and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect: and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant: and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than5 that of Abel.”

[1.] Wonderful indeed were the things in the Temple, the Holy of Holies; and again awful were those things also that were done at Mount Sins, “the fire, the darkness, the blackness, the tempest.” (Dt 33,2). For,it says, “God appeared in Sins,” and long ago were these things celebrated.6 The New Covenant, however, was not given with any of these things, but has been given in simple discourse by God.7

See then how he makes the comparison in these points also. And with good reason has he put them afterwards. For when he had persuaded them by innumerable [arguments], when he had also shown the difference between each covenant, then afterwards, the one having been already condemned, he easily enters on these points also.

And what says he? “For ye are not come unto a fire that might be touched, and that burned, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.”

These things, he means, are terrible; and so terrible that they could not even bear to hear them, that not even “a beast” dared to go up. (But things that come hereafter8 are not such. For what is Sins to Heaven? And what the “fire which might be touched” to God who cannot be touched? For “God is a consuming fire.”—c. 5,29). For it is said, “Let not God speak, but let Moses speak unto us. And so fearful was that which was commanded, Though even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.” (Ex 20,19). What wonder as respects the people? He himself who entered into “the darkness where God was,” saith, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” (Ex 20,21).

3202 [2.] “But ye are come unto Mount Sion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem: and to an innumerable company of angels and to the general assembly and Church of the first-born which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better [things] hun that of Abel.”

Instead of “Moses,” Jesus. Instead of the people, “myriads of angels.”

Of what “first-born” does he speak? Of the faithful.

“And to the spirits of just men made perfect.” With these shall ye be, he says.

“And to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better [things] than that of Abel.” Did then the [blood] “of Abel” speak? “Yea,” he saith, “and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” (c. 11,4). And again God says, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me.” (
Gn 4,10). Either this [meaning] or that; because it is still even now celebrated: but not in such way as that of Christ. For this has cleansed all men, and sends forth a voice more clear and more distinct, in proportion as it has greater testimony, namely that by facts.

. “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not, who refused him that spake9 on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven. Whose voice then shook the earth: but now hath He promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we 10 serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”

3203 [3.] Fearful were those things, but these are far more admirable and glorious. For here there is not “darkness,” nor “blackness,” nor “tempest.” It seems to me that by these words he hints at the obscurity of the Old [Testament], and the overshadowed and veiled 11 character of the Law. And besides the Giver of the Law appears in fire terrible, and apt to punish those who transgress.

But what are “the sounds of the trumpet”? Probably it is as though some King were coming. This at all events will also be at the second coming. “At the last trump” (
1Co 15,52) all must be raised. But it is the trumpet of His voice which effects this. At that time then all things were objects of sense, and sights, and sounds; now all are objects of understanding, and invisible.

And, it says, “there was much smoke.” (See Ex 19,18). For since God is said to be fire, and appeared thus in the bush, He indicates the fire even by the smoke. And what is “the blackness and the darkness”? He again expresses its fearfulness. Thus Isaiah also says;“And the house was filled with smoke.” (Is 6,4). And what is the object of “the tempest”? The human race was careless. It was therefore needful that they should be aroused by these things. For no one was so dull as not to have had his thoughts raised up, when these things were done, and the Law ordained. 12

“Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice” (Ex 19,19): 13 for it was necessary that the voice of God should be uttered. Inasmuch as He was about to promulgate His Law through Moses, therefore He makes him worthy of confidence. They saw him not, because of the thick darkness: they heard him not, because of the weakness of his voice. What then? “God answered by a voice,” addressing the multitude: 14 yea and his name shall be called. 15

“They entreated” (he says) “that the word should not be spoken to them any more.” 16

From the first therefore they were themselves the cause of God’s being manifested through the Flesh. 17 Let Moses speak with us, and “Let not God speak with us.” (Ex 20,9). They who make comparisons elevate the one side the more, that they may show the other to be far greater. In this respect also our [privileges] 18 are more gentle and more admirable. For they are great in a twofold respect: because while they are glorious and greater, they are more accessible. This he says also in the Epistle to the Corinthians: “with unveiled countenance” (2Co 3,18), and, “not as Moses put a veil over his face.” (2Co 3,13). They, he means, were not counted worthy of what we [are]. For of what were they thought worthy? They saw “darkness, blackness”; they heard “a voice.” Put thou also hast heard a voice, not through darkness, but through flesh. Thou hast not been disturbed, neither troubled, but thou hast stood and held discourse with the Mediator.

And in another way, by the “darkness” he shows the invisibleness. 19 “And darkness” (it says) “was under His feet.” (Ps 18,9).

Then even Moses feared, but now no one.

As the people then stood below, so also do we. They were not below, but below Heaven. The Son is near to God, but not as Moses, 20

There was a wilderness, here a city.

3204 [4.] “And to an innumerable company of angels.” Here he shows the joy, the delight, in place of the “blackness” and “darkness” and “tempest.”

“And to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all.” They did not draw near, but stood afar off, even Moses: but “ye are come near.”

Here he makes them fear, by saying, “And to God the Judge of all”; not of the Jews alone, and the faithful, but even of the whole world.

“And to the spirits of just men made perfect.” He means the souls of those who are approved.

“And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant: and to the blood of sprinkling,” that is, of purification, “which speaketh better things than that of Abel.” And if the blood speaks, much more does He who, having been slain, lives. But what does it speak? “The Spirit also” (he says) “speaketh with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (
Rm 8,26). How does He speak? Whenever He falls into a sincere mind, He raises it up and makes it speak.

3205 [5.] “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh”; that is, that ye reject 21 [Him] not. “For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake 22 on earth.” Whom does he mean? Moses, I suppose. But what he says is this: if they, having “refused Him”when He gave laws “on earth, did not escape,” how shall we refuse Him, when He gives laws fromHeaven? He declares here not that He is another; far from it. He does not set forth One and Another, but He appears terrible, when uttering His Voice “from Heaven.” 23 It is He Himself then, both the one and the other: but the One is terrible. For he expresses not a difference of Persons but of the gift. Whence does this appear? “For if they escaped not,” he says, “who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven.” What then? Is this one different from the other? How then does he say, “whose voice then shook the earth”? For it was the “voice” of Him who “then” gave the Law, which “shook the earth. But now hath He promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things which are shaken, as of things that are made.” All things therefore will be taken away, and will be compacted anew for the better. For this is what he suggests here. Why then dost thou grieve when thou sufferest in a world that abideth not; when thou art afflicted in a world which will very shortly have passed away? If our rest were [to be] in the latter period of the world, then one ought to be afflicted in looking to the end.

“That” (he says) “those which cannot be shaken may remain.” But of what sort are “those things which cannot be shaken”? The things to come.

3206  [6.] Let us then do all for this, that we may attain that [rest], that we may enjoy those good things. Yea, I pray and beseech you, let us be earnest for this. No one builds in a city which is going to fall down. Tell me, I pray you, if any one said that after a year, this city would fall, but such a city not at all, wouldest thou have built in that which was about to fall? So I also now say this, Let us not build in this world; it will fall after a little, and all will be destroyed. But why do I say, It will fall? Before its fall we shall be destroyed, and suffer what is fearful; we shall be removed from them.

Why build we upon the sand? Let us build upon the rock: for whatsoever may happen, that building remains impregnable, nothing will be able to destroy it. With good reason. For to all such attacks that region is inaccessible, just as this is accessible. For earthquakes, and fires, and inroad of enemies, take it away from us even while we are alive: and oftentimes destroy us with it.

And even in case it remains, disease speedily removes us, or if we stay, suffers us not to enjoy it fairly. For what pleasure [is there], where there are sicknesses, and false accusations, and envy, and intrigues? Or should there be none of these things, yet oftentimes if we have no children, we are disquieted, we are impatient, not having any to whom we may leave houses and all other things; and thenceforward we pine away as laboring for others. Yea oftentimes too the inheritance passes away to our enemies, not only after we are gone, but even while we live. What is more miserable then than to toil for enemies, and ourselves to be gathering sins together in order that they may have rest? And many are the instances of this that are seen in our cities. And yet [I say no more] lest I should grieve those who have been despoiled. For I could have mentioned some of them even by name, and have had many histories to tell, and many houses to show you, which have received for masters the enemies of those who labored for them: nay not houses only, but slaves also and the whole inheritance have oftentimes come round to enemies. For such are things human.

But in Heaven there is nothing of this to fear,—lest after a man is dead, his enemy should come, and succeed to his inheritance. For there there is neither death nor enmity; the tabernacles of the saints are permanent abodes; and among those saints is exultation, joy, gladness. For “the voice of rejoicing” (it is said) is “in the tabernacles of the righteous.” (
Ps 118,15). They are eternal, having no end. They do not fall down through age, they do not change their owners, but stand continually in their best estate. With good reason.For there is nothing corruptible, nor perishable there, but all is immortal, and undefiled. On this building let us exhaust all our wealth. We have no need of carpenters nor of laborers. The hands of the poor build such houses; the lame, the blind, the maimed, they build those houses. And wonder not, since they procure even a kingdom for us, and give us confidence towards God.

3207 [7.] For mercifulness 24 is as it were a most excellent art, and a protector of those who labor at it. For it is dear to God, and ever stands near Him readily asking favor for whomsoever it will, if only it be not wronged by us; And it is wronged, when we do it by extortion. (See p. 481). So, if it be pure, it gives great confidence to those who offer it up. It intercedes even for those who have offended, so great is its power, even for those who have sinned. It breaks the chains, disperses the darkness, quenches the fire, kills the worm, drives away the gnashing of teeth. The gates of heaven open to it with great security: And as when a Queen is entering, no one of the guards stationed at the doors dares to inquire who she is, and whence, but all straightway receive her; so also indeed with mercifulness. For she is truly a queen indeed, making men like God. For, he says, “ye shall be merciful, as your Heavenly Father is merciful.” (Lc 6,36).

She is winged and buoyant, having golden pinions, with a flight which greatly delights the angels. There, it is said, are “the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her back with the yellowness of gold.” (Ps 68,13). As some dove golden and living, she flies, with gentle look, and mild eye. Nothing is better than that eye. The peacock is beautiful, but in comparison of her, is a jackdaw. So beautiful and worthy of admiration is this bird. She continually looks upwards; she is surrounded abundantly with God’s glory: she is a virgin with golden wings, decked out, with a fair and mild countenance. She is winged, and buoyant, standing by the royal throne. When we are judged, she suddenly flies in, and shows herself, and rescues us from punishment, sheltering us with her own wings.

God would have her rather than sacrifices.Much does He discourse concerning her: so He loves her. “He will relieve” (it is said) “the widow” and “the fatherless” (Ps 146,9) and the poor. God wishes to be called from her. “The Lord is pitiful and merciful, 25 long-suffering, and of great mercy” (Ps 145,8), and true. The mercy of God is over all the earth. She hath saved the race of mankind (see (Ps 145,9): For unless she had pitied us, all things would have perished. “When we were enemies” (see (Rm 5,10), she “reconciled” us, she wrought innumerable blessings; she persuaded the Son of God to become a slave, and to empty Himself [of His glory]. 26 (Ph 2,7).

Let us earnestly emulate her by whom we have been saved; let us love her, let us prize her before wealth, and apart from wealth, let us have a merciful soul. Nothing is so characteristic of a Christian, as mercy. There is nothing which both unbelievers and all men so admire, as when we are merciful. For oftentimes we are ourselves also in need of this mercy, and say to God “Have mercy upon us, after Thy great goodness.” (Ps 51,1). Let us begin first ourselves: or rather it is not we that begin first. For He has Himself already shown His mercy towards us: yet at least let us follow second. For if men have mercy on a merciful man, even if he has done innumerable wrongs, much more does God.

3208 [8.] Hear the prophet saying, “But I” (his words are) “am like a fruitful olive tree in the house of God.” (Ps 52,8). Let us become such: let us become “as an olive tree”: let us be laden on every side with the commandments. For it is not enough to be as an olive tree, but also to be fruitful. For there are persons who in doing alms give little, [only once] in the course of the whole year, or in each week, or who give away a mere chance matter. These are indeed olive trees, but not fruitful ones, but even withered. For because they show compassion they are olive trees, but because they do it not liberally, they are not fruitful olive trees. But let us be fruitful.

I have often said and I say now also: the greatness of the charity 27 is not shown by the measure of what is given, but by the disposition of the giver. You know the case of the widow. It is well continually to bring this example [forward], that not even the poor man may despair of himself, when he looks on her who threw in the two mites. Some contributed even hair in the fitting up of the temple, and not even these were rejected. (Ex 35,23). But if when they had gold, they had brought hair, they [would have been] accursed: but if, having this only, they brought it, they were accepted. For this cause Cain also was blamed, not because he offered worthless things, but because they were the most worthless he had. “Accursed” (it is said) “is he which hath a male, and sacrificeth unto God a corrupt thing.” (Ml 1,14). He did not speak absolutey, but, “he that hath” (he says) and spareth [it]. If then a man have nothing, he is freed from blame, or rather he has a reward. For what is of less value than two farthings, or more worthless than hair? What than a pint of meal? But nevertheless these were approved equally with the calves and the gold. For “a man is accepted according to that he hath, not according to that he hath not.” (2Co 8,12). And, it says, “according as thy hand hath, do good.” (Pr 3,27).

Wherefore, I entreat you, let us readily empty out what we have for the poor. Even if it be little we shall receive the same reward with them who have cast the most; or rather, more than those who cast in ten thousand talents. If we do these things we shall obtain the unspeakable treasures of God; if we not only hear, but practice also, if we do not praise [charity], but also show [it] by our deeds. Which may we all attain, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.

1 o]rei is omitted in Mr. Field’s text, as by some [all—F. G.] critical editors of the New Test. It is not referred to by St. Chrys.
2 “that not a word more should be spoken to them.”
3 [The words h] bolovdi katatoxeuqhvsetai are omitted by St. Chrys., as by all critical editors of the N. T., and are not given in the R. V.—F. G.]
4 panhguvrei. See next column. This word is connected with the preceding murivasin ajggevlwn by St. Chrys. as appears from his interpretation. So the Latin Vulgate has et multorum millium angelorum frequentiam, et ecclesiam primitivorum, &c). [The English edition translates “to myriads of angels in festive gathering.” Whether panhguvrei should be connected with the preceding or following clause is merely a question of punctuation. It is joined to the latter both in the A. V. and the R. V.—F. G. ]
5 “in comparison of.”
6 h\/deto, e.g. Ps 18,78 Ha 3,as well as Ex 19.
7 para; Qeou`. The reading of the common edition is : Cristou` which was that of Mutianus.
8 taj meta; tau`ta.
9 crhmativzonta, “that made a revelation”: see above, p. 469).
10 [The reading of St. Chrys. here and below (Hom. xxxiii). is latreuvomen, but elsewhere he concurs with nearly all the critical editors, the A. V. and the R. V. in reading latreuvwmen.—F. G.]
11 to; suneskiasmevnon kai; sugkekalummevnon.
12 nomoqetoumevnwn.
13 St. Chrys. says this referring to, without expressly citing, the fwnh`/ rJhmavtwn of the text.
14 dhmhgorw`n.
15 ajllAE o]noma aujtou` kalevsetai. Mr. Field with hesitation adopts here the reading of the Catena kalevsetai, in the sense here given. The mss. have kalevsai and (excepting one) not any stop after it. St. Chrys. probably has in view the fact of Moses being called up to the top of the Mount, Ex 19,20.
16 “that not a word more should be spoken to them.”
17 fanh`nai dia; th`" ".
18 ta; h;mevtera.
19 to; ajovraton.
20 This passage, Mr. Field observes, is difficult and probably corrupt. St. Chrysostom seems to mean, that we are like the people in that we are still here below, not in heaven: for they were “below” only in the sense of being below in reference to the mountain and heaven to which Moses had been called up. At the same time as being sons of God we are near to Him with a special nearness—a spiritual and so most intimate nearness—of the soul, not like that bodily nearness with which Moses was called to draw near.
If, however, “the Son” be understood of the Only-Begotten, it may be supposed that there is some latent connection of thought, as, that in His nearness His people also are brought near to the Father in a manner far more intimate than was granted to Moses).
21 ajpognw`te.
22 crhmatizonta. The word is used of God’s speaking. See above, Hom. 23,[1], p. 469. St. Chrysostom’s argument seems to oblige us to understand in the next clause something equivalent to “you say,” which words have been inserted for clearness’ sake. The supposition that Moses was meant by to;n crhmativzonta is mentioned only to be rejected). [The words “you say” are omitted in this edition as unnecessary). crhmativzonta does not refer so much to God’s speaking as to Moses’ speaking by God’s direction.—F. G.]
23 Comp. St. Iren. pp. 330, 338, 403, O. T).
24 or, “charity,” ejlehmosuvnh See above, p. 509.
25 [ejlehvmwn akin to ejlehmosuvnh, which St. Chrysostom is here describing.]
26 kenw`sai eJauto;n.
27 ejlehmosuvnh").

Chrysostom He 3100