Chrysostom He 1400

Homily XIV. Hebrews 8,1, 2.—“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum:

1400 He 8
We have such an High Priest; who is set down on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens: a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.”

[1.] Paul mixes the lowly things with the lofty, ever imitating his Master, so that the lowly become the path to the lofty, and through the former we are led to the latter, and when we are amid the great things we learn that these [lowly ones] were a condescension. This accordingly he does here also. After declaring that “He offered up Himself,” and showing Him to be a “High Priest,” what does he say? “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an High Priest who is set down on the right hand of the throne of the majesty.” And yet this is not [the office] of a Priest, but of Him whom the Priest should serve.

“A minister of the sanctuary,” not simply a minister, but “a minister of the sanctuary. And of the true Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man.” Thou seest the condescension. Did he not a little before make a separation,1 saying: “Are they not all ministering spirits?” (supra, 1,14) and therefore (he says) it is not said to them, “Sit thou on my right hand,” (supra, 1,13) for He that sitteth is not a minister. How is it then that it is here said, “a minister,” and “a minister of the Sanctuary”? for he means here the Tabernacle.

See how he raised up the minds of the believing Jews. For as they would be apt to imagine that we have no such tabernacle [as they had], see here (he says) is the Priest, Great, yea, much greater than the other, and who has offered a more wonderful sacrifice. But is not all this mere talk? is it not a boast, and merely said to win over our minds? on this account he established it first from the oath, and afterwards also from “the tabernacle.” For this difference too was manifest: but the Apostle thinks of another also, “which” (he says) “the Lord pitched [or “made firm”] and not man.” Where are they who say that the heaven whirls around?2 where are they who declare that it is spherical? for both ofthese notions are overthrown here.

“Now” (he says) “of the things which we have spoken this is the sum.” By “the sum” is always meant what is most important. Again he brings down his discourse; having said what is lofty, henceforward he speaks fearlessly.

1402 [2.] In the next place that thou mayest understand that he used the word “minister” of the manhood, observe how he again indicates it: “For” (He 8,3) (he says) “every high priest is ordained to offer both gifts and sacrifices, wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.”

Do not now, because thou hearest that He sitteth, suppose that His being called High Priest is mere idle talk.3 For the former, viz. His sitting, belongs to the dignity of the Godhead,4 but this to His great lovingkindness, and His tender care for us. On this account he repeatedly urges5 this very thing, and dwells more upon it: for he feared lest the other[truth] should overthrow it.6 Therefore he again brings down his discourse to this: since some were enquiring why He died. He was a Priest. But there is no Priest without a sacrifice. It is necessary then that He also should have a sacrifice.

And in another way; Having said that He is on high, he affirms and proves that He is a Priest from every consideration, from Melchisedec, from the oath, from offering sacrifice. From this he also frames another and necessary syllogism. “For if” (he says) “He had been on earth, He would not be a Priest, seeing that there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Law.” If then He is a Priest (as He really is), we must seek some other place for Him. “For if He were” indeed “on earth, He should not be a priest.” For how [could He be]? He offered no sacrifice, He ministered not in the Priest’s office. And with good reason, for there were the priests. Moreover he shows, that it was impossible that [He] should be a priest upon earth. For how [could He be]? There was no rising up against [the appointed Priests], he means.

1403 [3.] Here we must apply our minds attentively, and consider the Apostolic wisdom; for again he shows the difference of the Priesthood. “Who” (he says) “serve unto the example7 and shadow of heavenly things.”

What are the heavenly things he speaks of here? The spiritual things. For although they are done on earth, yet nevertheless they are worthy of the Heavens. For when our Lord Jesus Christ lies slain8 [as a sacrifice], when the Spirit is with us,9 when He who sitteth on the right hand of the Father is here, 10 when sons are made by the Washing, when they are fellow-citizens of those in Heaven, when we have a country, and a city, and citizenship there, when we are strangers to things here, how can all these be other than “heavenly things”? But what! Are not our Hymns heavenly? Do not we also who are below utter in concert with them the same things which the divine choirs of bodiless powers sing above? Is not the altar also heavenly? How? It hath nothing carnal, all spiritual things become the offerings. 11 The sacrifice does not disperse into ashes, or into smoke, or into steamy savor, it makes the things placed there bright and splendid. How again can the rites which we celebrate be other than heavenly? For when He says, “Whose soever sins ye retain they are retained, whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted” (
Jn 20,23) when they have the keys of heaven, how can all be other than heavenly?

“Who” (he says) “serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God, 12 when he was about to make the tabernacle, for see, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Inasmuch as our hearing is less ready of apprehension than our sight (for the things which we hear we do not in such wise lay up in our soul, as those which we see with our very eyes), He showed him all. Either then he means this by “the example and shadow,” or else he [speaks] of the Temple. For, he went on to say, “See” (His words are), that “thou make all things according to the pattern 13 showed to thee in the mount.” Was it then only what concerned the furniture of the temple that he saw, or was it also what related, to the sacrifices, and all the rest? Nay, onewould not be wrong in saying even this ; for The Church is heavenly, and is nothing else than Heaven.

1404 [4.] (He 8,6) “But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, 14 by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant.” Thou seest (he means) how much better is the one ministration than the other, if one be an example and type, and the other truth [reality]. But this did not profit the hearers, nor cheer them. Therefore he says what especially cheered them: “Which was established upon better promises.” Having raised them up by speaking of the place, and the priest, and the sacrifice, he then sets forth also the wide difference of the covenant, having also said before that it was “weak and unprofitable.” (See He 7,18).

And observe what safeguards he lays down, when intending to find fault with it. For in the former place after saying, “according to the power of an endless life” (He 7,16), he then said that “there is a disannulling of the commandment going before” (He 7,18); and then after that, he set forth something great, saying, “by which we draw nigh unto God.” (He 7,19). And in this place, after leading us up into Heaven, and showing that instead of the temple, we have Heaven, and that those things were types of ours, and having by these means exalted the Ministration [of the New Covenant], he then proceeds suitably to exalt the priesthood.

But (as I said) he sets down that which especially cheers them, in the words, “Which was established upon better promises.” Whence does appear? In that this the one was cast out, and the other introduced in its place: for it is therefore of force because it is better. For as he says, “If perfection were by” it, “what further need was there, that another priest should rise, after the order of Melchisedec?” (He 7,11); so also here he used the same syllogism, saying (He 8,7) “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” ; that is, if it made men “faultless.” For it is because he is speaking of this that he did not say, “But finding fault with” it, but (He 8,8-9) “But finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”

Yea, verily. And whence does it appear that [the first Covenant] came to an end? He showed it indeed also from the Priest, but now he shows more clearly by express words that it has been cast out.

But how is it “upon better promises”? For how, tell me, can earth and heaven be equal? But do thou consider, 15 how he speaks of promises there [in that other covenant] also, that thou mayest not bring this charge against it. For there also, he says “a better hope, by which we draw nigh unto God” (He 7,19), showing that a Hope was there also; and in this place “better promises,” hinting that there also He had made promises.

But inasmuch as they were forever making objections, he says, “Behold! the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” He is not speaking of any old Covenant: for, that they might not assert this, he determined the time also. Thus he did not say simply, “according to the covenant which I made with their fathers,” lest thou shouldest say [it was] the one made with Abraham, or that with Noah: but he declares what [covenant it was], “not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers ”in the Exodus.Wherefore he added also, “in the day that I took them by the hand, to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.” Thou seest that the evils begin first from ourselves (“they” themselves first, saith he, “continued not in [the “covenant”]”) and the negligence is from ourselves, but the good things from Him; I mean the [acts] of bounty. He here introduces, as it were, an apology showing the cause why He forsakes them.

1405 [5.] (He 8,10) “For this,” he says, “is the covenant that I will make with the house ofIsrael after those days, saith the Lord; I will put 16 My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” Thus He says this concerning the New [covenant] because His words are “not according to the covenant which I covenanted.”

But what other difference is there beside this? 17 Now if any person should say that “the difference is not in this respect, but in respect to its being put into their hearts; He makes no mention of any difference of ordinances, but points out the mode of its being given: for no longer” (he says) “shall the covenant be in writings, but in hearts;” let the Jew in that case show that this was ever carried into effect; but he could not, for it was made a second time in writings after the return from Babylon. But I show that the Apostles received nothing in writing, but received [it] in their hearts through the Holy Ghost. Wherefore also Christ said, “When He cometh, He will bring all things to your remembrance, and He shall teach you.” (Jn 14,26).

1406 [6.] (He 8,11-12) “And they shall not teach” (he says) “every man his neighbor, 18 and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Behold also another sign. “From the least even to the greatest of them” (he says) “they shall know Me, and they shall not say, Know the Lord.” When hath this been fulfilled save now? For our [religion] 19 is manifest: but theirs [i.e. the Jews’] was not manifest, but had been shut up in a corner.

[A covenant] is then said to be “new,” when it is different and shows some advantage over the old. “Nay surely,” says one, 20 “it is new also when part of it has been taken away, and part not. For instance, when an old house is ready to fall down, if a person leaving the whole, has patched up the foundation, straightway we say, he has made it new, when he has taken some parts away, and brought others into their place. For even the heaven also is thus called ‘new,’ 21 when it is no longer ‘of brass,’ but gives rain; 22 and the earth likewise is new when it is not unfruitful, not when it has been changed; and the house is likewise new, when portions of it have been taken away, and portions remain. And thus, he says, 23 he hath well termed it ‘a New Covenant.’”

If then I show that that covenant had become “Old” in this respect, that it yielded no fruit? And that thou mayest know this exactly, read what Haggai says, what Zechariah, what the Messenger, 24 when the return from the Captivity had not yet fully taken place; and what Esdras charges. How then did [the people] receive him? 25 And how no man enquired of the Lord, inasmuch as they [the priests] themselves also transgressed, and knew it not even themselves? 26 Dost thou see how thy [interpretation] is broken down, 27 whilst I maintain my own: that this [covenant] must be called “New” in the proper sense of the word?

And besides, I do not concede that the words “the heaven shall be new” (Is 65,17), were spoken concerning this. For why, when saying in Deuteronomy “the heaven shall be of brass,” did he not set down this in the contrasted passage, 28 “but if ye hearken, it shall be new.”

And further on this account He says that He will give “another Covenant, because they did not continue in the first.” This I show by what he says (“ For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh,” Rm 8,3 and again, “Why tempt ye God, to put yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Ac 15,10). But “they did not continue therein,” he says.

Here he shows that [God] counts us worthy of greater and of spiritual [privileges]: for it is said “their sound went out into all the earth and their words unto the ends of the world.” (Ps 19,5 Rm 10,18). That is [the meaning of] “they shall not say each man to his neighbor, Know the Lord.” And again, “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as much water to cover the seas.” (Is 11,9).

1407 [7.] “In calling it new” (he says), “He hath made the first old: but that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” See what was hidden, how he hath laid open the very mind of the prophet! He honored the law, and was not willing to call it “old” in express terms: but nevertheless, this he did call it. For if the former had been new, he would not have called this which came afterwards “new” also. So that by granting something more and different, he declares that “it was waxen old.” Therefore it is done away and is perishing, and no longer exists.

Having taken boldness from the prophet, he attacks it more suitably, 29 showing that our [dispensation] is now flourishing. That is, he showed that [the other] was old: then taking up the word “old,” and adding of himself another [circumstance], the [characteristic] of old age, he took up what was omitted by the others, and says “ready to vanish away.”

The New then has not simply caused the old to cease, but because it had become aged, as it was not [any longer] useful. On this account he said, “for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof” (
He 7,18), and, “the law made nothing perfect” (He 7,19); and that “if the first had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (He viii. 7). And “faultless”; that is, useful; not as though it [the old Covenant] was obnoxious to any charges, but as not being sufficient. He used a familiar form of speech. As if one should say, the house is not faultless, that is, it has some defect, it is decayed: the garment is not faultless, that is, it is coming to pieces. He does not therefore here speak of it as evil, but only as having some fault and deficiency.

1408 [8.] So then we also are new, or rather we were made new, but now are become old; therefore we are “near to vanishing away,” and to destruction. Let us scrape off 30 this old age. It is indeed no longer possible to do it by Washing, but by repentance it is possible here [in this lifed. 31 If there be in us anything old, let us east it off; if any “wrinkle,” if any stain, if any “spot,” let us wash it away and become fair (Ep 5,27): that “the King may desire our beauty.” (Ps 45,11).

It is possible even for him who has fallen into the extremest deformity 32 to recover that beauty of which David says that the King shall desire thy beauty. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider; forget also thine own people and thy father’s house: so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty.” (Ps 45,10-11). And yet forgetting doth not produce beauty. Yea, beauty is of the soul. What sort of forgetting? That of sins. For he is speaking about the Church from among the Gentiles, exhorting her not to remember the things of her fathers, that is [of] those that sacrificed to idols; for from such was it gathered.

And he said not, “Go not after them,” but what is more, Do not admit them into thy mind; which he says also in another place, “I will not mention their names through my lips.” (Ps 16,4). And again, “That my mouth may not talk of the deeds of men.” (Ps 17,3-4). As yet is this no great virtue; nay, rather, it is indeed great, but not such as this [which is here spoken of]. For what does he say there? He says not; “Talk not of the things of men, neither speak of the things of thy fathers”; but, neither remember them, nor admit them into thy mind. Thou seest to how great a distance he would have us keep away from wickedness. For he that remembers not [a matter] will not think of it, and he that does not think, will not speak of it: and he that does not speak of it, will not do it. Seest thou from how many paths he hath walled us off? by what great intervals he hath removed us, even to a very great [distance]?

1409 [9.] Let us then also “hearken and forget” our own evils. I do not say our sins, for (He says) “Remember thou first, and I will not remember.” (Is 43,25-26 LXX). I mean for instance, Let us no longer remember rapacity, but even restore the former [plunder’]. This is to forget wickedness, and to cast out the thought of rapacity, and never at any time to admit it,but to wipe away also the things already doneamiss.

Whence may the forgetfulness of wickedness come to us? From the remembrance of good things, from the remembrance of God. If we continually remember God, we cannot remember those things also. For (he says) “When I remembered Thee upon my bed, I thought upon Thee in the morning dawn.” (Ps 63,6). We ought then to have God always in remembrance, but then especially, when thought is undisturbed, when by means of that remembrance [a man] is able to condemn himself, when he can retain [things] in memory. For in the daytime indeed, if we do remember, other cares and troubles entering in, drive the thought out again: but in the night it is possible to remember continually, when the soul is calm and at rest; when it is in the haven, and under a serene sky. “The things which you say in your hearts be ye grieved for on your beds,” he says. (Ps 4,4 LXX). For it were indeed right to retain this remembrance through the day also. But inasmuch as you are always full of cares, and distracted amidst the things of this life, at least then remember God on your bed; at the morning dawn meditate upon Him.

If at the morning dawn we meditate on these things, we shall go forth to our business with much security. If we have first made God propitious by prayer 33 and supplication, going forth thus we shall have no enemy. Or if thou shouldest, thou wilt laugh him to scorn, having God propitious. There is war in the market place; the affairs of every day are a fight, they are a tempest and a storm. We therefore need arms: and prayer is a great weapon. We need favorable winds; we need to learn everything, so as to go through the length of the day without shipwrecks and without wounds. For every single day the rocks are many, and oftentimes the boat strikes and is sunk. Therefore have we especially need of prayer early and by night.

[10.] Many of you have often beheld the Olympic games: and not only have beheld but have been zealous partisans and admirers of the combatants, one of this [combatant], one of that. You know then that both during the days of the contests, and during those nights, all night long the herald 34 thinks of nothing else, has no other anxiety, than that the combatant should not disgrace himself when he goes forth. For those who sit by the trumpeter admonish him not to speak to any one, that he may not spend his breath and get laughed at. If therefore he who is about to strive before men, uses such forethought, much more will it befit us to be continually thoughtful, and careful, since our whole life is a contest. Let every night then be a vigil, 35 and let us be careful that when we go out in the day we do not make ourselves ridiculous. And would it were only making ourselves ridiculous. But now the Judge of the contest is seated on the right hand of the Father, hearkening diligently that we utter not any false note, anything out of tune. For He is not the Judge of actions only, but of words also. Let us keep our vigil, 36 beloved; we also have those that are eager for our success, if we will. Near each one of us Angels are sitting; and yet we snore through the whole night. And would it were only this. But many do even many licentious things, some indeed going to the very brothels, 37 and others making their own houses places of whoredom by taking courtesans thither. Yes most certainly. For is it not so? They care well for their contest. Others are drunken and speak amiss; 38 others make an uproar. Others keep evil vigil through the night weaving, and worse than those who sleep, schemes of deceit; others by calculating usury; others by bruising themselves with cares, and doing anything rather than what is suited to the contest. Wherefore, I exhort you, let us lay aside all [other] things, and look to one only, how we may obtain the prize, [how we may] be crowned with the Chaplet; let us do all by which we shall be able to attain to the promised blessings. Which may we all attain in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father and also to the Holy Ghost be glory, might, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.

1 See Hom. iii.
2 dinei`sqai. The common editions read kinei`sqai. Savile observes that it was the opinion of St. Chrys. that the heaven was stationary, and that the sun, moon and stars moved through it). [Such may have been St. Chrysostom’s opinion, but it does not appear in this passage.—F. G.]
3 u(qlon.
4 th`" ajxiva" tou` Qeou`.
5 lipainei.
6 That is, lest the belief of His Godhead should undermine our belief in His true manhood).
7 uJpodeivgmati…latreuvousi. i.e). “do service to and minister in that system which is a sample and shadow.”
8 ejsfagmevno", see Ap 5,6 Ap 5,9 Ap 5,12 Ap 13,8.
9 paragivnhtai.
10 ejntau`qa h|/.
11 ta; prokeivmena. The Sacred Elements there set before God). [The English edition has here missed the sense of pavnta pneumatika; givnetai ta; prokeivmena. prokeivmena is predicate rather than subject, and pavnta is to be taken with pneumatikav, not with prokeivmena. The idea is (as shown by the context) that our spiritual things (hymns, praises, &c). answer to the parts of the victim laid upon the carnal altar of old.—F. G.]
12 [kecrhmavtistai—a word always used of Divine communications.—F. G.]
13 tuvpon.
14 leitourgiva", “service as priest.”
15 qewvrei used of contemplating and discerning the mystical sense of the Old Testament.
16 “give.”
17 That is, besides the covenant being in itself a new one, different from the Mosaic, there is also, he says, the difference in the mode of giving it, the one being written, the other put into the heart. The Jew is supposed to allege that this second is the only difference, and that the promise in the Prophecy is that the Mosaic law shall be given into the heart, and that this was fulfilled by the reformation of the people: as for instance after the Captivity.
18 polivthn. The common editions have plhsivon, as has the common text of the New Testament, but there also Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf [Tregelles, W. and H.] read polivthn, which is the word used in Jeremiah, according to the Vatican ms. It is used by the LXX. to translate the Hebrew for “neighbor.”
19 to; hJmevteron.
20 AEIdou;, fhsi;, kai; au(th kainh; tugcavnei. This is the argument of an objector, who alleges that the promise of a New Covenant was fulfilled by the modification and renewed efficacy of the Mosaic system, such as occurred after the Captivity. He alleges two senses in which the word “New” might be applied without implying the substitution of another system in place of the old, (i) as a repaired house is said to be new, and (ii) according to his interpretation, as the Heavens are new, when after long drought they again give rain. St. Chrys. replies. 1,That after the Captivity the Covenant was still, as of old, unfruitful. 2,That this interpretation of the “new heaven” is incorrect. 3,That the Prophecy distinctly foretells a substitution. The common editions have changed the character of the passage by substituting a]llw" de; kainh; for kainh; two lines above, and kainh; de; kai; au(th t. for AEIdou;…kainh; t. in this place; by omitting fhsi; at the end of the objection; and substituting i(na deixh`/ for eja;n ou\n deivxw.
21 See Is 65,17 Dt 28,23.
22 The Verona edition, one Catena, the mss. which Mr. Field usually follows, and the Latin versions of Mutianus and the later translator, all give the text which is here translated: o(tan mhkevti calkou`" h\/, ajllAE uJeto;n didw`/ : o(tan mh; a]karpo", oujc ovtan metablhqh`/, oujc o(tan ta; me;n aujtou` ejxaireqh`/, ta; de; mevnh. Mr. Field says that he has nolens volens admitted into the text the “amended” readings of the common editions, o(tan mhkevti c. h\. aj. uJ. didw`/, jkai; hJ gh` oJmoiw" kainhJ, o(tan mh; aj. h\/, oujc o(tan metablhqh/`, kai; oi\ko" oiv tw kaino;" o(tan ta; me;n k. l.). “when it is no longer at brass, but gives rain: [and the earth in like manner is new,] when it is not unfruitful, not when it has been changed: [and in this sense the house is new], when portions of it have been,” &c. There does not however appear to be any need for this: on the contrary, while the old text is simple and intelligible, the additions bring in matters which are out of place. [The other Catena, however, that of Niketas, Archbishop of Heraklea, one of Mr. Field’s valuable authorities, has the bracketed bits.]
The words o(tan mh; a]karpo" apply naturally to the heaven, when it does not supply the moisture necessary for producing fruit. This argument from the “new heaven” is alleged by the objector as distinct from that of the “new house”: it is an instance, he would say, of the word “new” being applied, when there was neither change nor substitution, as St. Chrys. interprets the prophecy: nor even partial alteration as in the analogy of the “new house”; but only a renewal of fertilizing action which had been previously suspended.
On the other hand the introduction of “the new earth” by the interpolator is out of place: inasmuch as unfruitful ground would represent the people not the Law; neither does St. Chrys. in the refutation which follows refer at all to this point of “new earth.” The introduction of the “house” is simply needless repetition). [It has seemed better to follow in the translation Field’s text than to follow the alterations of the English edition—both because the passage is thus much clearer, and because this is professedly a translation of Field’s text, and his critical sagacity must be considered on such a point of higher value.—F. G.]
23 w(ste, fhsi;. Sav. &c. om). fhsi;.
24 oJ ]Aggelo" Malachi.
25 pw`" oujn e[laben aujtovn; The Catena has pw`" sunevlabon aujtovn; which Mutianus read, translating it, “Quomodo corripuerunt eum?” Mr. Field thinks that neither reading gives a suitable meaning. If the reading adopted by Mr. F. and followed in the translation be the true one, it must be supposed that St. Chrys. had in mind the condition in which Ezra, or perhaps Nehemiah, found the Jews. The words tiv dej ]Esdra" ejgkalei`; seem more appropriate to Nehemiah than to Ezra: and the reception of Nehemiah on his second visit to Jerusalem may have been the circumstance of which the orator was thinking.
26 See Ml 1,6, and c. Ml 2,3.
27 bebivastai to; sovn; or, “how forced it is.”
28 ejn th`/ diastolh`/. See Dt 28,12.
29 ma`llon aujtou` kaqavptetai sumferovntw".
30 ajpoxuvswmen: alluding to the poetic phrase xu`sai ajpo; gh`ra" ojloiovn.
31 ejntau`qa.
[There was one who sold his patrimony,
————————————A dear-bought dower

————————————That had come down from high

————————————In a golden shower,

————————————It was a loss that gold could never mend,

————————————The heart-blood of a Friend,

————————————From out the world’s dark den he came aside,

————————————A monster for the sun to see,

————————————All hideous soiled with foulest leprosy,

————————————And he sat down upon the grass and cried,

————————————Is there no fountain that can wash again?

————————————There is a fount where holy men do say

————————————He that doth look for aye

————————————He shall become like that he doth behold,

————————————Borrowing a light more pure than gold).

————————————There is a glass whereon he that doth bend

————————————Shall see portrayed the Heaven,

————————————Till he forget what earth hath best to lend

————————————In the sweet hope that he may be forgiven.The Ap Isaac Williams, Thoughts in Past Years, “The Penitent,” p. 151, ed. 2, 1842.]
33 ejnteuvxei.
34 khvrux.
35 pannuci;". The term applied by Christians to whole nights spent in Psalmody and Prayer; “vigils.”
36 pannucivswmen.
37 camaitupei`a.
38 parafqevggontai.

Homily XV. Hebrews 9,1–5.—“Then verily the first £[covenant] had also ordinances

1500 He 9,1-15
of divine service, and a1 worldly Sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the Candlestick, and the Table, and the Shew-bread, which is called the Sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid round about with gold: wherein was the golden pot that had2 manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant: and over it the Cherubim of glory, shadowing the Mercy-seat: of which we cannot now speak particularly.”

[1.] He has shown from the Priest, from the Priesthood, from the Covenant, that that [dispensation] was to have an end. From this point he shows it from the fashion of the tabernacle itself. How? This, he says, [was] the “Holy”3 and the “Holy of Holies.”4 The holy place then is a symbol of the former period (for there all things are done by means of sacrifices) ; but the Holy of Holies of this that is now present.

And by the Holy of Holies he means Heaven; and by the veil, Heaven, and the Flesh5 “entereth6 into that within the veil”: that is to say, “through the veil of His flesh.” (Supra, 6,19;He x, 20).

And it were well to speak of this passage, taking it up from the beginning. What then does he say? “Then verily the first had also” (the first what? “The Covenant”). “Ordinances of Divine service.” What are “ordinances ”? symbols or rights. Then;7 as (he means) it has not now. He shows that it had already given place, for (he says) it had at that time; so that now, although it stood, it is not.

“And the worldly Sanctuary.” He calls it “worldly,” inasmuch as it was permitted to all to tread it, and in the same house the place was manifest where the priests stood, where the Jews, the Proselytes, the Grecians, the Nazarites. Since, therefore even gentiles were permitted to tread it, he calls it “worldly.” For surely the Jews were not “the world.”

“For” (he says) “there was a tabernacle made; the first, which is called holy, wherein was. the Candlestick, and the Table, and the Shew-bread.” These things are symbols of the world.

“And after the second veil” (There was then not one veil [only], but there was a veil without also) “the tabernacle, which is called holy of holies.” Observe how everywhere he calls it a tabernacle in regard of [God’s] encamping there.8

“Which had” (he says) “a golden Censer, and the ark of the Covenant overlaid round about with gold: wherein was the golden pot that held the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.” All these things were venerable and conspicuous memorials of the Jewish obstinacy; “and the tables of the covenant” (for they brake them) “And the manna” (for they murmured; and therefore handing on the memory thereof to posterity, He commanded it to be laid up in a golden pot). “And Aaron’s rod that budded. And over it, the Cherubim of glory.” What is “the Cherubim of glory”? He either means “the glorious,” or those which are under God.9 “Shadowing the mercy-seat.”

But in another point of view also he extols these things in his discourse, in order to show that those which come after them are greater. “Of which” (he says) “we cannot now speak particularly.” In these words he hints that these were not merely what was seen, but were a sort of enigmas. 10 “Of which” (he says) “we cannot now speak particularly,” perhaps because they needed a long discourse.

1502 [2.] He 9,6. “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle accomplishing the service [of God].” That is, these things indeed were [there], but the Jews did not enjoy them: they saw them not. So that they were no more theirs than [ours] for whom they prophesied. 11

(He 9,7) “But into the second the High Priest went alone once 12 every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.” 13 Thou seest that the types were already laid down beforehand? for, lest they should say, “how is there [but] one sacrifice?” he shows that this was so from the beginning, since at least the more holy and the awful [sacrifice] was [but] one. And how did the High Priest offer once for all? Thus were they wont [to do] from the beginning, for then also (he says) “the High Priest” offered “once for all.”

And well said he, “not without blood.” (Not indeed without blood, yet not this blood, for the business was not so great). He signifies that there shall be a sacrifice, not consumed by fire, but rather distinguished by blood. For inasmuch as he called the Cross a sacrifice, though it had neither fire, nor logs, nor was offered many times, but had been offered in blood once for all; he shows that the ancient sacrifice also was of this kind, was offered “once for all” in blood.

“Which he offers for himself;” again, “for himself; and for the errors of the people.” He said not “sins”; but “errors,” that, they might not be high-minded. For even if thou hast not sinned intentionally, yet unintentionally thou hast erred, 14 and from this no man is pure.

And everywhere [he adds] the “for himself,” showing that Christ is much greater. For if He be separated from our sins, how did He “offer for Himself”? Why then saidst thou these things (one says)? Because this is [a mark] of One that is superior.

1503 [3.] Thus far there is no speculation. 15 But from this point he philosophizes 16 and says, (He 9,8) “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” For this cause (he says) have these things been thus “ordained,” that we might learn that “the Holy of Holies,” that is, Heaven, is as yet inaccessible. Let us not then think (he says) that because we do not enter them, they have no existence: inasmuch as neither did we enter the Most Holy [place].

He 9,9. “Which” (he says) “was established 17 as a figure for the time then present.” 18 What does he mean by “the time present”? That before the coming of Christ: For after the coming of Christ, it is no longer a time present: For how [could it be], having arrived, and being ended?

There is too something else which he indicates, when he says this, “which [was] a figure for the time then present,” that is, became the Type. “In which 19 were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.” Thou seest now what is [the meaning of] “The Law made nothing perfect,” (He 7,19,) and “If that first [covenant] had been faultless.” (He 8,7). How? “As pertaining to the conscience.” For the sacrifices did not put away 20 the defilement from the soul, but still were concerned with the body: “after the law of a carnal commandment.” (He 7,16). For certainly they could not put away 21 adultery, nor murder, nor sacrilege. Seest thou? Thou hast eaten this, Thou hast not eaten that, which are matters of indifference). [“Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings.” “Thou hast drunk this,” he says: and yet nothing has been ordained concerning drink, but he said this, treating them as trifles. 22

He 9,10. “And [in] divers washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation.” 23 For this is the righteousness of the flesh. Here he depreciates the sacrifices, showing that they had no efficacy, and that they existed “till the time of reformation,” that is, they waited for the time that reformeth all things.

1504 [4.] He 9,11. “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things that are come 24 by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands.” Here he means the flesh. And well did he say, “greater and more perfect,” since God The Word and all the power of The Spirit dwells therein; “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto Him].” (Jn 3,34). And “more perfect,” as being both unblamable, and setting right greater things.

“That is, not of this creation.” See how [it was] “greater.” For it would not have been “of the Spirit” (Mt 1,20), if man had constructed it. Nor yet is it “of this creation”; that is, not of these created things, but spiritual, of 25 the Holy Ghost.

Seest thou how he calls the body tabernacle and veil and heaven. 26 “By a greater and more perfect tabernacle. Through the veil, that is, His flesh.” (He 10,20). And again, “into that within the veil.” (He 6,19). And again, “entering into 27 the Holy of Holies, to appear before the face of God.” (He 9,24). Why then doth he this? According as one thing or a different one is signified. I mean for instance, the Heaven is a veil, for as a veil it walls off the Holy of Holies; the flesh [is a veil] hiding the Godhead; 28 and the tabernacle likewise holding the Godhead. Again, Heaven [is] a tabernacle: for the Priest is there within.

“But Christ” (he says) “being come an High Priest ”: he did not say, “become,” but “being come,” that is, having come for this very purpose, not having been successor to another. He did not come first and then become [High Priest], but came and became at the same time. 29 And he did not say “being come an High Priest” of things which are sacrificed, but “of good things that are come,” as if his discourse had not power to put the whole before us.

He 9,12. “Neither by the blood,” he says, “of goats and calves” (All things are changed) “but by His own Blood” (he says) “He entered in once for all 30 into the Holy Place.” See thus he called Heaven. “Once for all” (he says) “He entered into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption.” And this [expression] “having obtained,” was [expressive] of things very difficult, and that are beyond expectation, how by one entering in, He “obtained everlasting redemption.”

1505 [5.] Next [comes] that which is calculated to persuade.

He 9,13-14. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the Holy 31 Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.”

For (he says) if “the blood of bulls” is able to purify the flesh, much rather shall the Blood of Christ wipe away the defilement of the soul. For that thou mayest not suppose when thou hearest [the word] “sanctifieth,” that it is some great thing, he marks out 32 and shows the difference between each of these purifyings, and how the one of them is high and the other low. And says it is [so] with good reason, since that is “the blood of bulls,” and this “the Blood of Christ.”

Nor was he content with the name, but he sets forth also the manner of the offering. “Who” (he says) “through the Holy 33 Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,” that is, the victim was without blemish, pure from sins. For this is [the meaning of] “through the Holy Spirit,” not through fire, nor through any other things.

“Shall purge your conscience” (he says) “from dead works.” And well said he “from dead works”; if any man touched a dead body, he was polluted; and here, if any man touch a “dead work,” he is defiled through his conscience. “To serve” (he says) “the Living and true God.” Here he declares that it is not [possible] while one has “dead works to serve the Living and true God,” for they are both dead and false; and with good reason [he says this].

1506 [6.] Let no man then enter in here with “dead works.” For if it was not fit that one should enter in who had touched a dead body, much more one that hath “dead works”: for this is the most grievous pollution. And “deadworks” are, all which have not life, which breathe forth an ill odor. For as a dead body is useful to none of the senses, but is even annoying to those who come near it, so sin also at once strikes the reasoning faculty, 34 and does not allow the understanding itself to be calm, but disturbs and troubles it.

And it is said too that a plague at its very commencement corrupts 35 the living bodies; such also is sin. It differs in nothing from a plague, not [indeed] corrupting the air first, and then the bodies, but darting at once into the soul. Seest thou not how persons affected with the plague, are inflamed: how they writhe about, how they are full of an ill scent, how disfigured are their countenances: how wholly unclean they are? Such are they also that sin, though they see it not. For, tell me, is not he who is possessed by the desire of riches or carnal lust, worse than any one that is in a fever? Is he not more unclean than all these, when he does and submits to all shameless things?

1507 [7.] For what is baser than a man who is in love with money? Whatever things women that are harlots or on the stage refuse not to do neither does he [refuse]. Rather it is likely that they would refuse [to do] a thing, rather than he. He even submits to do things fit for slaves, flattering those whom he ought not; again he is overbearing where he ought not to be, being inconsistent in every respect. He will sit by flattering wicked people, and oftentimes depraved old men, that are of much poorer and meaner condition than himself; and will he insolent and overbearing to others that are good and in all respects virtuous. Thou seest in both respects the baseness, the shamelessness: he is both humble beyond measure, and boastful.

Harlots however stand in front of their house, and the charge against them is that they sell their body for money: yet, one may say, poverty and hunger compel them (although at the most this is no sufficient excuse: for they might gain a livelihood by work). But the covetous man stands, not before his house, but before the midst of the city, making over to the devil not his body but his soul; so that he [the devil] is in his company, and goes in unto him, as verily to a harlot: and having satisfied all his lusts departs; and all the city sees it, not two or three persons only.

And this again is the peculiarity of harlots, that the), are his who gives the gold. Even if he be a slave or a gladiator, 36 or any person whatever, yet if he offers their hire, they receive him. But the free, even should they be more noble than all, they do not accept without the money. These men also do the same. They turn away right thoughts when they bring no money; but they associate with the abominable, and actually with those that fight with wild beasts, 37 for the sake of the gold, and associate with them shamelessly and destroy the beauty of the soul. For as those women are naturally of odious appearance 38 and black, and awkward and gross, and formless and ill-shaped, and in all respects disgusting, such do the souls of these men become, not able to conceal their deformity by their outward paintings. 39 For when the ill look 40 is extreme, whatever they may devise, they cannot succeed in their feigning.

For that shamelessness makes harlots, hear the prophet saying, “Thou wert shameless towards all; thou hadst a harlot’s countenance.” (
Jr 3,3). This may be said to the covetous also: “Thou wert shameless towards all,” not towards these or those, but “towards all.” How? Such an one respects neither father, nor son, nor wife, nor friend, nor brother, nor benefactor, nor absolutely any one. And why do I say friend, and brother, and father? He respects not God Himself, but all [we believe] seems to him a fable; and he laughs, intoxicated by his great lust, and not even admitting into his ears any of the things which might profit him.

But O! their absurdity! and then what things they say! “Woe to thee, O Mammon, and to him that has thee not.” At this I am torn to pieces with indignation: for woe to those who say these things, though they say them in jest. For tell me, has not God uttered such a threat as this, saying, “Ye cannot serve two masters”? (Mt 6,24). And dost thou set at nought 41 the threat? Does not Paul say that it is Idolatry, and does he not call “the covetous man an Idolater”? (Ep 5,5).

1508 [8.] And thou standest laughing, raising a laugh after the manner of women of the world who are on the stage. This has overthrown, this has cast down everything. Our affairs, 42 both our business 43 and our politeness, are turned into laughing; there is nothing steady, nothing grave. I say not these things to men of the world only; but I know those whom I am hinting at. For the Church has been filled with laughter. Whatever clever thing one may say, immediately there is laughter among those present: and the marvelous thing is that many do not leave off laughing even during the very time of the prayer.

Everywhere the devil leads the dance, 44 he has entered into all, is master of all. Christ is dishonored, is thrust aside; the Church is made no account of. Do ye not hear Paul saying, Let “filthiness and foolish talking and jesting” (
Ep 5,4) be put away from you? He places “jesting” along with “filthiness,” and dost thou laugh? What is “foolish talking”? that which has nothing profitable. And dost thou, a solitary, laugh at all and relax thy countenance? thou that art crucified? thou that art a mourner? tell me, dost thou laugh? Where dost thou hear of Christ doing this? Nowhere: but that He was sad indeed oftentimes. For even when He looked on Jerusalem, He wept; and when He thought on the Traitor He was troubled; and when He was about to raise Lazarus, He wept; and dost thou laugh? If he who grieves not over the sins of others deserves to be accused, of what consideration will he be worthy, who is without sorrow for his own sins, yea laughs at them? This is the season of grief and tribulation, of bruising and bringing matter [the body], of conflicts and sweatings, and dost thou laugh? Dost not thou see how Sarah was rebuked? dost thou not hear Christ saying, “Woe to them that laugh, for they shall weep”? (Lc 6,25). Thou chantest these things every day, for, tell me, what dost thou say? “I have laughed?” By no means; but what? “I labored in my groaning.” (Ps 6,6).

But perchance there are some persons so dissolute and silly as even during this very rebuke to laugh, because forsooth we thus discourse about laughter. For indeed such is their derangement, such their madness, that it does not feel the rebuke.

The Priest of God is Standing, offering up the prayer of all: and art thou laughing, having no fears? And while he is offering up the prayers in trembling for thee, dost thou despise all? Hearest thou not the Scripture saying, “Woe, ye despisers!” (Ac 13,41 from Ha 1,5); dost thou not shudder? dost thou not humble thyself? Even when thou enterest a royal palace, thou orderest thyself in dress, and look, and gait, and all other respects: and here where there is the true Palace, and things like those of heaven, dost thou laugh? Thou indeed, I know, seest [them] not, but hear thou that there are angels present everywhere, and in the house of God especially they stand by the King, and all is filled by those incorporeal Powers.

This my discourse is addressed to women also, who in the presence of their husbands indeed do not dare readily to do this, and even if they do it, it is not at all times, but during a season of relaxation, but here they do it always. Tell me, O woman, dost thou cover thine head and laugh, sitting in the Church? Didst thou come in here to make confession of sins, to fall down before God, to entreat and to supplicate for the transgressions thou hast wretchedly committed, and dost thou do this with laughter? How then wilt thou be able to propitiate Him?

1509 [9.] But (one says) what harm is there in laughter? There is no harm in laughter; the harm is when it is beyond measure, and out of season. Laughter has been implanted in us, that when we see our friends after a long time, we may laugh; that when we see any persons downcast and fearful, we may relieve them by our smile; not that we should burst out violently 45 and be always laughing. Laughter has been implanted in our soul, that the soul may sometimes be refreshed, not that it may be quite relaxed. For carnal desire also is implanted in us, and yet it is not by any means necessary that because it is implanted in us, therefore we should use it, or use it immoderately: but we should hold it in subjection, and not say, Because it is implanted in us, let us use it.

Serve God with tears, that thou mayest be able to wash away your sins. I know that many mock us, 46 saying, “Tears directly.” Therefore it is a time for tears. I know also that they are disgusted, who say, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” (
1Co 15,32). “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Qo 1,2). It is not I that say it, but he who had had the experience of all things saith thus: “I builded for me houses, I planted vineyards, I made me pools of water, [I had] men servants and women servants.” (Qo 2,4 Qo 2,6-7). And what then after all these things? “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Qo 12,8).

Let us mourn therefore, beloved, let us mourn in order that we may laugh indeed, that we may rejoice indeed in the time of unmixed joy. For with this joy [here] grief is altogether mingled: and never is it possible to find it pure. But that is simple and undeceiving joy: it has nothing treacherous, nor any admixture. In that joy let us delight ourselves; that let us pursue after. And it is not possible to obtain this in any other way, than by choosing here not what is pleasant, but what is profitable, and being willing to be afflicted a little, and bearing all things with thanksgiving. For thus we shall be able to attain even to the Kingdom of Heaven, of which may we all be counted worthy, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father be glory, together with the Holy Ghost, now and for ever and world without end, Amen).

1 the.
2 held the.
3 [a(gia, “the sanctuary.”]
4 [ a(gia tw`n aJgivwn, “the holiest of all.”]
5 Cf. St. Cyr). Quod Unus Christus t. 5,i. 761 c d.]
6 This passage is translated [in the English edition] as if there was a point between th;n savrka and eijsercomevnhn: and as if in the next clause toutevsti was a part of the citation, being put by St. Chrys. before the words dia; tou` katapetavsmato", instead of after them, as in He 10,20. St. Chrys. says that “the veil” represents both Heaven and “the Flesh” of our Lord; and cites the two places where it is so interpreted by the Apostle, 6,19, 10,20. See below [4], p. 440). [The simple translation of the Greek (as given in the text) seems far better than this curious modification. The clause th;n savrka eijsercomevnhn eij" to; ejswvt. t. katapet. is closely connected together, and it is hardly tolerable to separate savrka from the participle agreeing with it. There is no “which” in the Greek.—F. G.]
7 tovte. Mr. Field seems to think that the Expositor read tovte in the sacred text: though, as he observes, he presently has tov te. Perhaps the difficulty is avoided by supposing that the word ei\ce, “had,” with which the clause begins, was emphasized in delivery, the explanation of the word “ordinances” being parenthetical, and the tovte being implied in the past tense ei\ce.
8 para; to; skhnou`n ejkei`).
9 ta; uJpokavtw tou` Qeou`.
10 aijnivgmata.
11 h] oi\" proefhteuveto, or, “for whom they were foreshown,” &c.: for this the common editions have proetupou`to, “the foreshadowing as in a type.”
12 a(pax, “once for all.”
13 [One is disposed to think that in this and the following paragraphs there must be some serious corruption of the text. As it stands there is a confusion between the words of the Epistle relating to the Jewish High Priest and those that refer to Christ. It is only possible, however, to translate the text as it has come down to us.—F. G.]
14 hjgnovhsa".
15 qewriva.
16 qewrei`.
17 kaqevsthke.
18 ejnesthkovta, or “close at hand.”
19 kaqAE o)n [kairo;n].
20 hjfivesan, or “forgive.”
21 ajfievnai.
22 ejxeutelivzwn. As if they were so immaterial that he did not think it worth while to be accurate, and mentioned “drinks,” about which there were no precepts. St. Chrys. had perhaps overlooked the law of the Nazarites, Nb 6,3).
23 diorqwvsew", “setting right.”
24 genomevnwn: Here and afterwards mellovntwn has been substituted in the modern editions of St. Chrys). genomevnwn is considered by Lachmann to be the true reading in the Epistle.
25 ejk.
26 A slight alteration of Mr. Field’s text seems needed here. The text of the Homily which he gives in accordance with all the authorities is: oJra`/" pw`" kai; skhnh;n kai; katapevtasma kai; oujrano;n to; sw`ma kalei`. But there is no appearance that the Apostle called Christ’s body heaven, nor do any of the texts cited show it. If however, we introduce kai; before to; sw`ma, or substitute it for to;, we have a good sense, in accordance with the four texts cited by St Chrys. and the explanations which he afterwards gives). [The criticism of the English editor is not without some force; yet it seems best to adhere to the text of St. Chrys., as is here done. The proposed alteration does not remove the difficulty, which is merely negative. The rendering in the English edition is “he calls heaven and the body both tabernacle and veil.” But to; sw`ma should be the subject and skhnh;n kai; katapevtasma kai; oujranovn predicates.—F. G.]
27 eijsercomevnhn; probably used by St. Chrys. as if th;n savrka had preceded.
28 The pointing has been changed in this place. In Mr. Field’s edition the passage stands thus: katapevtasma oJ oujrano" : w(sper ga;r ajpoteicivzei ta; a(gia katapevtasma, hJ sa;rx kruvptousa th;n qeovthta. The translation is made as if the pointing was ta; a(gia : katapevtasma hJ sa;rx, kruvptousa th;n q. Otherwise we must supply hJ sa;rx before w(sper). [The pointing is better as it stands; at most, it is only necessary to understand katapevtasma after sa;rx, which the contrast plainly suggests.—F. G.]
29 ajllAE a(ma h\lqe, or, “but [became so] as soon as He came.”
30 ejfavpax.
31 aJgivou; so also Sav. and Ben.
32 ejpishmaivnetai.
33 Here and again below the Catena and Mutianus read “eternal,” and so one ms. a priori manu). [The reading aijwniou of the Textus Receptus is far better supported, and is retained by all critical editors. It is also the reading of one of Field’s mss., although with aJgivou written above it.—F. G.]
34 to; logistikovn.
35 tiktovmeno" diafqeivrei.
36 monomavco". The reading of the common editions is [ka]n dou`lo" h\/] ka]n e]leuvqero", ka]n movnaco". The word movnaco" had been at a very early period written by some copyists for monomavco" (Mutianus has monachus), and the interpolator misapprehending the drift of the passage had inserted ka]n ejleuvqero". Mr. Field many years ago in earlier volumes of his edition, suggested the true reading here, as also the word qhriomavcoi" (bestialibus Mut). just below, for which qeomavcoi" had been substituted in the common texts. Both conjectures are now confirmed by ms. authority. The gladiators, especially the bestiarii, who fought with wild beasts, were regarded as a most degraded class.
37 qhriomavcoi".
38 fuvsei ei;decqei`".
39 ejpitrivmmasi, what they rub on.
40 duseidiva. Mut. and one ms. have duswdiva, “ill savor.”
41 ejkluvei".
42 ta; hJmetevra.
43 politismo;").
44 coreuvei.
45 ajnakagcavzwmen.
46 diamwkw`ntai).

Chrysostom He 1400