Chrysostom He 2500
2500 He 11,17-19
offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure,”
[1.] Great indeed was the faith of Abraham. For while in the case of Abel, and of Noah, and of Enoch, there was an opposition of reasonings only, and it was necessary to go beyond human reasonings; in this case it was necessary not only to go beyond human reasonings, but to manifest also something more. For what was of God2 seemed to be opposed to what was of God; and faith opposed faith, and command promise.
I mean this: He had said, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and I will give thee this land.” (Gn 12,1 Gn 12,7). “He gave him none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on.” (Ac 7,5). Seest thou how what was done was opposed to the promise? Again He said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Gn 21,12), and he believed: and again He says, Sacrifice to Me this one, who was to fill all the world from his seed. Thou seest the opposition between the commands and the promise? He enjoined things that were in contradiction to the promises, and yet not even so did the righteous man stagger, nor say he had been deceived.
For you indeed, he means, could not say this, that He promised ease and gave tribulation. For in our case, the things which He promised, these also He performs. How so? “In the world” (He says), “ye shall have tribulation.” (Jn 16,33). “He that taketh not his cross and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me.” (Mt 10,38). “He that hateth not his life shall not find it.” (Jn 12,25). And, “He that forsaketh not all that he hath, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.” (Lc 14,27 Lc 14,33). And again, “Ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake.” (Mt 10,18). And again, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Mt 10,36). But the things which pertain to rest are yonder.
But with regard to Abraham, it was different. He was enjoined to do what was opposed to the promises; and yet not even so was he troubled, nor did he stagger, nor think he had been deceived. But yon endure nothing except what was promised, yet you are troubled).
2502 [2.] He heard the opposite of the promises from Him who had made them; and yet he was not disturbed, but did them as if they had been in harmony [therewith]. For they were in harmony; being opposed indeed according to human calculations, but in harmony [when viewed] by Faith. And how this was, the Apostle himself has taught us, by saying, “accounting3 that God was able to raise Him up, even from the dead.” By the same faith (he means) by which he believed that God gave what was not,4 and raised up the dead, by the same was he persuaded that He would also raise him up after he had been slain in sacrifice. For it was alike impossible (to human calculation, I mean) from a womb which was dead and grown old and already become useless for child-bearing to give a child, and to raise again one who had been slain. But his previous faith prepared the way for things to come.
And see; the good things came first, and the hard things afterwards, in his old age. But for you, on the contrary, (he says) the sad things are first, and the good things last. This for those who dare to say,‘He has promised us the good things after death; perhaps He has deceived us.’ He shows that “God is able to raise up even from the dead,” and if God be able to raise from the dead, without all doubt He will pay all [that He has promised].
But if Abraham so many years before, believed “that God is able to raise from the dead,” much more ought we to believe it. Thou seest (what I at first said) that death had not yet entered in and yet He drew them at once to the hope of the resurrection, and led them to such full assurance, that when bidden, they even slay their own sons, and readily offer up those from whom they expected to people the world.
And he shows another thing too, by saying, that “God tempted Abraham.” (Gn 22,1). What then? Did not God know that the man was noble and approved? Why then did He tempt him? Not that He might Himself learn, but that He might show to others, and make his fortitude manifest to all.5 And here also he shows the cause of trials, that they may not suppose they suffer these things as being forsaken [of God]. For in their case indeed, it was necessary that they should he tried, because there were many who persecuted or plotted against them: but in Abraham’s case, what need was there to devise trials for him which did notexist? Now this trial, it is evident, was by His command. The others indeed happened by His allowance, but this even by His command. If then temptations make men approved in such wise that, even where there is no occasion, God exercises His own athletes; much more ought we to bear all things nobly.
And here he said emphatically, “By faith, when he was tried, he offered up Isaac,” for there was no other cause for his bringing the offering but that.
2503 [3.] After this he pursues the same thought. No one (he says) could allege, that he had another son, and expected the promise to be fulfilled from him, and therefore confidently offered up this one. “And” (his words are) “he offered up his only-begotten, who had received the promises.” Why sayest thou “only-begotten”? What then? Of whom was Ishmael sprung? I mean “only-begotten” (he would say) so far as relates to the word of the promise. Therefore after saying, “Only-begotten,” showing that he says it for this reason, he added, “of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” that is, “from” him. Seest thou how he admires what was done by the Patriarch? “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” and that son he brought to be sacrificed.
Afterwards, that no one may suppose he does this in despair, and in consequence of this command had cast away that Faith,6 but may understand that this also was truly of faith, he says that he retained that faith also, although it seem to be at variance with this. But it was not at variance. For he did not measure the power of God by human reasonings, but committed all to faith. And hence he was not afraid to say, that God was “able to raise him up, even from the dead.”
“From whence also he received him in a figure,”7 that is in idea,8 by the ram, he means. How? The ram having been slain, he was saved: so that by means of the ram he received him again, having slain it in his stead. But these things were types: for here it is the Son of God who is slain.
And observe, I beseech you, how great is His lovingkindness. For inasmuch as a great favor was to be given to men, He, wishing to do this, not by favor, but as a debtor, arranges that a man should first give up his own son on account of God’s command, in order that He Himself might seem to be doing nothing great in giving up His own Son, since a man had done this before Him; that He might be supposed to do it not of grace, but of debt. For we wish to do this kindness also to those whom we love, others, to appear first to have received some little thing from them, and so give them all: and we boast more of the receiving than of the giving; and we do not say, We gave him this, but, We received this from him.
“From whence also” (are his words) “he received him in a figure,” i.e. as in a riddle9 (for the ram was as it were a figure of Isaac) or, as in a type. For since the sacrifice had been completed, and Isaac slain in purpose, 10 therefore He gave him to the Patriarch.
2504 [4.] Thou seest, that what I am constantly saying, is shown in this case also? When we have proved that our mind is made perfect, and have shown that we disregard earthly things, then earthly things also are given to us; but not before; lest being bound to them already, receiving them we should be bound still. Loose thyself from thy slavery first (He says), and then receive, that thou mayest receive no longer as a slave, but as a master. Despise riches, and thou shalt be rich. Despise glory, and thou shalt be glorious. Despise the avenging thyself on thine enemies, and then shalt thou attain it. Despise repose, and then thou shalt receive it that in receiving thou mayest receive not as a prisoner, nor as a slave, but as a freeman.
For as in the case of little children, when the child eagerly desires childish playthings, we hide them from him with much care, as a ball, for instance, and such like things, that he may not be hindered from necessary things; but when he thinks little of them, and no longer longs for them, we give them fearlessly, knowing that henceforth no harm can come to him from them, the desire no longer having strength enough to draw him away from things necessary; so God also, when He sees that we no longer eagerly desire the things of this world, thenceforward permits us to use them. For we possess them as fleemen and men, not as children.
For [in proof] that if thou despise the avenging thyself on thine enemies, thou wilt then attain it, hear what he says, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink,” and he added, “for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” (Rm 12,20). Andagain, that if thou despise riches, thou shalt then obtain them, hear Christ saying, “There is no man which hath left father, or mother, or house, or brethren, who shall not receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Mt 19,29).And that if thou despise glory, thou shall then attain it, again hear Christ Himself saying, “He that will be first among you, let him be your minister.” (Mt 20,26). And again, “For whosoever shall humble himself, he shall be exalted.” (Mt 23,12). What sayest thou? If I give drink to mine enemy, do I then punish him? If I give up my goods, do I then possess them? If I humble myself, shall I then be exalted? Yea, He says, for such is My power, to give contraries by means of contraries. I abound in resources and in contrivances: be not afraid. The ‘Nature of things’ follows My will: not I attend upon Nature. I do all things: I am not controlled by them: wherefore also I am able to change their form and order.
2505 [5.] And why dost thou wonder if [it is so] in these instances? For thou wilt find the same also in all others. If thou injure, thou art injured; 11 if thou art injured, then thou art uninjured; if thou punish, then thou hast not punished another, but hast punished thyself. For “he that loveth iniquity,” it is said, “hateth his own soul.” (Ps 11,5 LXX). Seest thou that thou dost not injure, but art injured? 12 Therefore also Paul says, “Why do ye not rather take wrong?” (1Co 6,7).Dost thou see that this is not to be wronged?
When thou insultest, then art thou insulted. And most persons partly know this: as when they say one to another, “Let us go away, do not disgrace yourself.” Why? Because the difference is great between thee and him: for however much thou insultest him, he accounts it a credit. Let us consider this in all cases, and be above insults. I will tell you how.
Should we have a contest with him who wears the purple, let us consider that in insulting him, we insult ourselves, for we become worthy to be disgraced. Tell me, what dost thou mean? When thou art a citizen of Heaven, and hast the Philosophy that is above, dost thou disgrace thyself with him “that mindeth earthly things”? (Ph 3,19). For though he be in possession of countless riches, though he be in power, he does not as yet know the good that is therein. Do not in insulting him, insult thyself. Spare thyself, not him. Honor thyself, not him. Is there not some Proverb such as this, He that honoreth; 13 honoreth himself? With good reason: for he honors not the other, but himself. Hear what a certain wise man says, “Do honor to thy soul according to the dignity thereof.” (Si 10,28). “According to the dignity thereof,” what is this? if he have defrauded (it means), do not thou defraud; if he has insulted, do not thou insult.
2506 [6.] Tell me, I pray thee, if some poor man has taken away clay thrown out of thy yard, wouldst thou for this have summoned a court of justice? Surely not. Why? Lest thou shouldst disgrace thyself; lest all men should condemnthee. The same also happens in this case. Forthe rich man is poor, and the more rich he is, the poorer is he in that which is indeed poverty. Gold is clay, cast out in the yard, not lying in thy house, for thy house is Heaven. For this, then, wilt thou summon a Court of Justice, and will not the citizens on high condemn thee? Will they not cast thee out from their country, who art so mean, who art so shabby, as to choose to fight for a little clay? For if the world were thine, and then some one had taken it, oughtest thou to pay any attention to it?
Knowest thou not, that if thou wert to take the world ten times or an hundred times, or ten thousand times, and twice that, it is not to be compared with the least of the good things in Heaven? He then who admires the things here slights those yonder, since he judges these worthy of exertion, though so far inferior to the other. Nay, rather indeed he will not be able to admire those other. For how [can he], whilst he is passionately excited towards these earthly things? Let us cut through the cords and entanglements: for this is what earthly things are.
How long shall we be stooping down? How long shall we plot one against another, like wild beasts; like fishes? Nay rather, the wild beasts do not plot against each other, but [against] animals of a different tribe. A bear for instance does not readily kill a bear, nor a serpent kill a serpent, having respect for the sameness of race. But thou, with one of the same race, and having innumerable claims, 14 as common origin, rational faculties, the knowledge of God, ten thousand other things, the force of nature, him who is thy kinsman, and partaker of the samenature—him thou killest, and involvest in evilsinnumerable. For what, if thou dost not thrust thy sword, nor plunge thy right hand into hisneck, other things more grievous than this thoudoest, when thou involvest him in innumerable evils. For if thou hadst done the other, thou wouldst have freed him from anxiety, but nowthou encompassest him with hunger, with slavery, with feelings of discouragement, with many sins. These things I say, and shall not cease to say, not [as] preparing you to commit murder: nor as urging you to some crime short of that; but that you may not be confident, as if you were not to give account. “For” (it says) “he that taketh away a livelihood” (Ecclus. xxxiv. 22) and asketh bread, it says. 15
2507 [7.] Let us at length keep our hands to ourselves, or rather, let us not keep them, but stretch them out honorably, not for grasping, but for alms-giving. Let us not have our hand unfruitful nor withered; for the hand which doeth not alms is withered; and that which is also grasping, is polluted and unclean.
Let no one eat with such hands; for this is an insult to those invited. For, tell me, if a man when he had made us lie down on tapestry 16 and a soft couch and linen interwoven with gold, in a great and splendid house, and had set by us a great multitude of attendants, andhad prepared a tray 17 of silver and gold, and filled it with many dainties of great cost and of all sorts, then urged us to eat, provided we would only endure his besmearing his hands with mire or with human ordure, and so sitting down to meat with us—would any man endurethis infliction? Would he not rather have considered it an insult? Indeed I think he would, and would have gone straightway off. But now in fact, thou seest not hands filled with what is indeed filth, but even the very food, and yet thou dost not go off, nor flee, nor find fault. Nay, if he be a person in authority, thou even accountest it a grand affair, and destroyest thine own soul, in eating such things. For covetousness is worse than any mire; for it pollutes, not the body but the soul, and makes it hard to be washed. Thou therefore, though thou seest him that sitteth at meat defiled with this filth both on his hands and his face, and his house filled with it, nay and his table also full of it (for dung, or if there be anything more unclean than that, it is not so unclean and polluted as those viands), dost thou feel as if forsooth thou wert highly honored, and as if thou wert going to enjoy thyself?
And dost thou not fear Paul who allows us to go without restraint to the Tables of the heathen if we wish, but not even if we wish to those of the covetous? For, “if any man who is called a Brother” (1Co 5,11), he says, meaning here by Brother every one who is a believer simply, not him who leads a solitary life. For what is it which makes brotherhood? The Washing of regeneration; the being enabled to call God our Father. So that he that is a Monk, if he be a Catechumen, is not a Brother, 18 but the believer though he be in the world, is a Brother. “If any man,” saith he, “that is called a Brother.” (1Co 5,11). For at that time there was not even a trace of any one leading a Monastic life, but this blessed [Apostle] addressed all his discourse to persons in the world. “If any man,” he says, “that is called a Brother, be a fornicator, or covetous or a drunkard, with such an one, no not to eat.” But not so with respect to the heathen: but “If any of them that believe not,” meaning the heathen, “bid you and ye be disposed to go, whatsoever is set before you eat.” (1Co 10,27).
2508 [8.] “If any man that is called Brother be” (he says) “a drunkard.” Oh! what strictness Yet we not only do not avoid drunkards, but even go to their houses, partaking of what they set before us.
Therefore all things are upside down, all things are in confusion, and overthrown, and ruined. For tell me, if any such person should invite thee to a banquet, thee who art accounted poor and mean, and then should hear thee say, “Inasmuch as the things set before me are [the fruit] of overreaching, I will not endure to defile my own soul,” would he not be mortified? Would he not be confounded? Would he not be ashamed? This alone were sufficient to correct him, and to make him call himself wretched for his wealth, and admire thee for thy poverty, if he saw himself with so greatearnestness despised by thee.
But we “are become” (I know not why) “servants of men” (1Co 7,23), though Paul cries aloud throughout, “Be not ye the servants of men.” Whence then have we become “servants of men”? Because we first became servants of the belly, and of money, and of glory, and of all the rest; we gave up the liberty which Christ bestowed on us.
What then awaiteth him who is become a servant (tell me)? Hear Christ saying, “The servant abideth not in the house for ever.” (Jn 8,35). Thou hast a declaration complete in itself, that he never entereth into the Kingdom; for this is what “the House” means. For, He says, “in My Father’s House are many mansions.” (Jn 14,2). “The servant” then “abideth not in the House for ever.” By a servant He means him who is “the servant of sin.” But he that “abideth not in the House for ever,” abideth in Hell for ever, having no consolation from any quarter.
Nay, to this point of wickedness are matters come, that they even give alms out of these [ill-gotten gains], and many receive [them]. Therefore our boldness has broken down, and we are not able to rebuke any one. But however, henceforward at least, let us flee the mischief arising from this; and ye who have rolled yourselves in this mire, cease from such defilement, and restrain your rage for such banquets, if even now we may by any means be able to have God propitious to us, and to attain to the good things which have been promised: which may we all obtain in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
1 Mr. Field’s text omits AEAbraa;m, and has dexavmeno" for ajnadexavmeno".
2 ta; tou` Qeou`, the acts and words of God).
3 logisavmeno". The cognate word logismo;" is used throughout for our “reasoning,” “calculation.”
4 oujk o[nta ejcarivsato, i.e. Isaac. See Rm 4,17, “Before God, in whom he believed, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were” (ta; mh; o[nta wJ" o[nta); and for the next clause, see ib. ver. 19, “(He considered not his own body, now dead, nor yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb”: to which, so to say, life was restored.
5 [See St. Cyr. Alex). Glaph. 87.]
6 conviction [?].
7 ejn parabolh`/.
8 ejn uJpodeivgmati, see c. 9,9, 23).
9 ejn aijnivgmati, where one thing is said, and another covertly meant: as the expression is used 1Co 13,12, of our present knowledge of the Blessedness of Heaven.
10 th;/ proairevsei.
12 This reading, adopted by Mr. Field, is found only in one ms. followed by Savile and the later editions: the other authorities, including Mutianus’ version, have, “Seest thou that thou hast not been injured, but injurest?” Perhaps this may be the true reading, St Chrys. in these words turning his address to those who are suffering worldly wrong: and saying that if they patiently endure, they are not the sufferers, but inflict suffering on their oppressors, though the expression ajdikei" is very strong.
13 or, “respects [another], respects,” &c).
15 kai; a[rton aijtw`n, fhsiv. There is great variation in the mss. of this passage: and possibly the true reading is lost. St. Chrys. partly quotes Si 31,22 of the Septuagint (xxxiv. 22 of our Version), “(He that taketh away his living slayeth his neighbor, and he that defraudeth the hireling of his hire is a blood-shedder.” As the text stands we must suppose that he is alluding to sayings which had become proverbial, and that his hearers would supply the words, “ is a murderer”; or “is the same.”
18 It will be observed that the word pisto;", “believer,” means “one who believes and is baptized”: as opposed to the unbaptized, even though they believed and were so religious as to devote themselves to an ascetic life. Also, that at this time there were those who had given themselves up to an ascetic life and still deferred their Baptism, see St. Greg. Naz. Hom. 40,18. In the later form of the text, this clause has been altered to “(So that a Catechumen, even though he be a Monk, is not a brother.”
2600 He 11,20-28
concerning things to come. By faith, Jacob when he was a dying blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshiped1 leaning on the top of his staff. By faith, Joseph when he died made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones.”
[1.] “Many prophets and righteous men” (it is said) “have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear and have notheard them.” (Mt 13,17). Did then those righteous men know all the things to come? Yea, most certainly. For if because of the weakness of those who were not able to receive Him, the Son was not revealed,—He was with good reason revealed to those conspicuous in virtue. This Paul also says, that they knew “the things to come,” that is the resurrection of Christ.
Or he does not mean this: but that “By faith, concerning things to come” [means] not [concerning] the world to come, but “concerning things to come” in this world. For how [except by faith] could a man sojourning in a strange land, give such blessings?
But on the other hand he obtained the blessing, and yet did not receive it.2 Thou seest that what I said with regard to Abraham, may be said also of Jacob, that they did not enjoy3 the blessing, but the blessings went to his posterity, while he himself obtained the “things to come.” For we find that his brother rather enjoyed the blessing. For [Jacob] spent all his time in servitude and working as a hireling, and [amid] dangers, and plots, and deceits, and fears;and when he was asked by Pharaoh, he says, “Few and evil have my days been” (Gn 47,9); while the other lived in independence and great security, and afterwards was an object of terror to [Jacob]. Where then did the blessings come to their accomplishment, save in the [world] to come?
Seest thou that from the beginning the wicked have enjoyed things here, but the righteous the contrary? Not however all. For behold, Abraham was a righteous man, and he enjoyed things here as well, though with affliction and trials. For indeed wealth was all he had, seeing all else relating to him was full of affliction. For it is impossible that the righteous man should not be afflicted, though he be rich: for when he is willing to be overreached, to be wronged, to suffer all other things, he must be afflicted. So that although he enjoy wealth, [yet is it] not without grief. Why? you ask. Because he is in affliction and distress. But if at that time the righteous were in affliction, much more now.and
“By Faith,” he says,“Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” (and yet Esau was the elder; but he puts Jacob first for his excellence). Seest thou how great was his Faith? Whence did he promise to his sons so great blessings? Entirely from his having faith in God.
2602 [2.] “By Faith, Jacob when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph.” Here we ought to set down the blessings entire, in order that both his faith and his prophesying may be made manifest. “And worshiped leaning,”4 he says, “upon the top of his staff.” Here, he means, he not only spoke, but was even so confident about the future things, as to show it also by his act. For inasmuch as another King was about to arise from Ephraim, therefore it is said, “And he bowed himself upon the top of his staff.” That is, even though he was now an old man, “he bowed himself” to Joseph, showing the obeisance of the whole people which was to be [directed] to him. And this indeed had already taken place, when his brethren “bowed down” to him: but it was afterwards to come to pass through the ten tribes. Seest thou how he foretold the things which were to be afterwards? Seest thou how great faith they had? How they believed “concerning the things to come”?
For some of the things here, the things present, are examples of patience only, and of enduring ill-treatment, add of receiving nothing good; for instance, what is mentioned in the case of Abraham, in the case of Abel. But others are [examples] of Faith, as in the case of Noah, that there is a God, that there is a recompense. (For Faith in this place is manifold,5 both of there being a recompense, and of awaiting it, not under the same conditions,6 and of wrestling before the prizes). And the things also which concern7 Joseph are of Faith only. Joseph heard that [God] had made a promise to Abraham, that He had engaged His word “to thee and to thy seed will I give this land;” and though in a strange land, and not yet seeing the engagement fulfilled, but never faltered even so, but so believed as even to “speak of the Exodus, and to give commandment concerning his bones.” He then not only believed himself, but led on the rest also to Faith: that having the Exodus always in mind (for he would not have “given commandment concerning his bones,” unless he had been fully assured [of this]), they might look for their return [to Canaan].
Wherefore, when some men say, ‘See! Even righteous men had care about their sepulchers,’ let us reply to them, that it was for his reason: for he knew that “the earth is the Lord’s and all that therein is.”8 (Ps 24,1). He could not indeed have been ignorant of this, who lived in so great philosophy, who spent his whole life in Egypt. And yet if he had wished, it was possible for him to return, and not to mourn or vex himself. But when he had taken up his father thither, why, did he enjoin them to carry up thence his own bones also? Evidently for this reason.
But what? Tell me, are not the bones of Moses himself laid in a strange land? And those of Aaron, of Daniel, of Jeremiah? And as to those of the Apostles we do not know where those of most of them are laid. For of Peter indeed, and Paul, and John, and Thomas, the sepulchers are well known; but those of the rest, being so many, have nowhere become known.9 Let us not therefore lament at all about this, nor be so little-minded. For where-ever we may be buried, “the earth is the Lord’s and all that therein is.” (Ps 24,1). Certainly what must take place, does take place: to mourn however, and lament, and bewail the departed, arises from littleness of mind.
2603 [3.] (He 11,23) “By faith, Moses when he was born, was hid three months of his parents.” Dost thou see that in this case they hoped for things on the earth after their death? 10 And many things were fulfilled after their death. This is for some who say, ‘After death those things were done for them, which they did not obtain while alive; nor did they believe [would be] after their death.’
Moreover Joseph did not say, He gave not the land to me in my life-time, nor to my father, nor to my grandfather, whose excellence too ought to have been reverenced; and will He vouchsafe to these wretched people what He did not vouchsafe to them? He said nothing of all this, but by Faith he both conquered and went beyond all these things.
(He has named Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, all illustrious and admirable men. Again he makes the encouragement greater, by bringing down the matter to ordinary persons. For that the admirable should feel thus, is nothing wonderful, and to appear inferior to them, is not so dreadful: but to show oneself inferior even to people without names, this is the dreadful thing. And he begins with the parents of Moses, obscure persons, who had nothing so great as their son [had]. Therefore also he goes on to increase the strangeness of what he says by enumerating even women that were harlots, and widows. For “by Faith” (he says) “the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” And he mentions the rewards not only of belief but also of unbelief; as in [the case of] Noah.
But at present we must speak of the parents of Moses. Pharaoh gave orders that all the male children should be destroyed, and none had escaped the danger. Whence did these expect to save their child? From faith. What sort of Faith? “They saw” (he says) “that he was a proper child.” The very sight drew them on to Faith: thus from the beginning, yea from the very swaddling-clothes, great was the Grace that was poured out on that righteous man, this being not the work of nature. For observe, the child immediately on its birth appears fair and not disagreeable to the sight. Whose [work] was this? Not that of nature, but of the Grace of God, which also stirred up and strengthened that barbarian woman, the Egyptian, and took and drew her on.
And yet in truth Faith had not a sufficient foundation in their case. For what was it to believe from sight? But you (he would say) believe from facts and have many pledges of Faith. For “the receiving with joyfulness the spoiling of their goods” (c. 10,34), and other such [things], were [evidences] of Faith and of Patience. But inasmuch as these [Hebrews] also had believed, and yet afterwards had become faint-hearted, he shows that the Faith of those [saints of old] also was long continued, 11 as, for instance, that of Abraham, although the circumstances seemed to contend against it.
“And” (he says) “they were not afraid of the king’s commandment,” although that was in operation, 12 but this [their hope respecting their child] was simply a kind of bare expectation. And this indeed was [the act] of his parents; but Moses himself what did he contribute?
2604 [4.] Next again an example appropriate to them, or rather greater than that. For, saith he, () “by faith Moses when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; 13 for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” As though he had said to them, ‘No one of you has left a palace, yea a splendid palace, nor such treasures; nor, when he might have been a king’s son, has he despised this, as Moses did.’ And that he did not simply leave [these things], he expressed by saying, “he refused,” that is, he hated, he turned away. For when Heaven was set before him, it was superfluous to admire an Egyptian Palace.
And see how admirably Paul has put it. He did not say, ‘Esteeming heaven, and the things in heaven,’ ‘greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,’ but what? “The reproach of Christ.” For the being reproached for the sake of Christ he accounted better than being thus at ease; and this itself by itself was reward.
“Choosing rather” (be says) “to suffer affliction with the people of God.” For ye indeed suffer on your own account, but he “chose” [to suffer] for others; and voluntarily threw himself into so many dangers, when it was in his power both to live religiously, and to enjoy good things.
“Than” (he says) “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” He called unwillingness “to suffer affliction with the” rest “sin”: this, he says, [Moses] accounted to be “sin.” If then he accounted it “sin” not to be ready to “suffer affliction with” the rest, it follows that the suffering affliction must be a great goodsince he threw himself into it from the royal palace.
But this he did, seeing some great things before him. “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” What is, “the reproach of Christ”? It is being reproached in such ways as ye are, the reproach which Christ endured; Or that he endured for Christ’s sake: for “that rock was Christ” 14 (1Co 10,4); the being reproached as you are.
But what is “the reproach of Christ”? That [because] we repudiate the [ways] of our fathers we are reproached; that we are evil-entreated when we have run to God. It was likely that he also was reproached, when it was said to him, “Wilt thou kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday?” (Ex 2,14). This is “the reproach of Christ,” to be ill-treated to the end, and to the last breath: as He Himself was reproached and heard, “If Thou be the Son of God” (Mt 27,40), from those for whom He was crucified, from those who were of the same race. This is “the reproach of Christ” when a man is reproached by those of his own family, or by those whom he is benefiting. For [Moses] also suffered these things from the man who had been benefited [by him].
In these words he encouraged them, by showing that even Christ suffered these things, and Moses also, two illustrious persons. So that this is rather “the reproach of Christ” than of Moses inasmuch as He suffered these things from “His own.” (Jn 1,11). But neither did the one send forth lightnings, nor the Other feel any [anger], 15 but He was reviled and endured all things, whilst they “wagged their heads.” (Mt 27,39). Since therefore it was probable that they [the readers] also would hear such things, and would long for the Recompense, he says that even Christ and Moses had suffered the like. So then ease 16 is [the portion] of sin; but to be reproached, of Christ. For what then dost thou wish? “The reproach of Christ,” or ease?
2605 [5.] (He 11,27) “By faith he forsook Egypt not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is Invisible.” What dost thou say? That he did not fear? And yet the Scripture says, that when he heard, he “was afraid” 17 (Ex 2,14), and for this cause provided for safety by flight, and stole away, and secretly withdrew himself; and afterwards he was exceedingly afraid. Observe the expressions with care: he said, “not fearing the wrath of the king,” with reference to his even presenting himself again. For it would have been [the part] of one who was afraid, not to undertake again his championship, nor to have any hand in the matter. That he did however again undertake it, was [the part] of one who committed all to God: for he did not say, ‘He is seeking me, and is busy [in the search], and I cannot bear again to engage in this matter.’
(So that even flight was [an act of] faith. Why then did he not remain (you say)? That he might not cast himself into a foreseen danger. For this finally would have been tempting [God]: to leap into the midst of dangers, and say, ‘Let us see whether God will save me.’ And this the devil said to Christ, “Cast Thyself down.” (Mt 4,6). Seest thou that it is a diabolical thing, to throw ourselves into danger without cause and for no purpose, and to try whether God will save us? For he [Moses] could no longer be their champion when they who were receiving benefits were so ungrateful. It would therefore have been a foolish and senseless thing to remain there. But all these things were done, because, “he endured as seeing Him who is Invisible.”
2606 [6.] If then we too always see God with our mind, if we always think in remembrance of Him, all things will appear endurable to us, all things tolerable; we shall bear them all easily, we shall be above them all. For if a person seeing one whom he loves, or rather, remembering him is roused in spirit, and elevated in thought, and bears all things easily, while he delights in the remembrance; one who has in mind Him who has vouchsafed to love us in deed, and remembers Him, when will he either feel anything painful, or dread anything fearful or dangerous? When will he be of cowardly spirit? Never.
For all things appear to us difficult, because we do not have the remembrance of God as we ought; because we do not carry Him about alway in our thoughts. For surely He might justly say to us, “Thou hast forgotten Me, I also will forget thee.” And so the evil becomes twofold, both that we forget Him and He us. For these two things are involved in each other, yet are two. For great is the effect of God’s remembrance, and great also of His being remembered by us. The result of the one is that we choose good things; of the other that we accomplish them, and bring them to their end. 18 Therefore the prophet says, “I will remember Thee from the land of Jordan, and from the little hill of Hermon.” (Ps 42,6). The people which were in Babylon say this: being there, I will remember Thee.
2607 [7.] Therefore let us also, as being in Babylon, [do the same]. For although we are not sitting among warlike foes, yet we are among enemies. For some [of them] indeed were sitting as captives, but others did not even feel their captivity, as Daniel, as the three children (cf. Ps cxxxvii. 1); who even while they were in captivity became in that very country more glorious even than the king who had carried them captive. And he who had taken them captive does obeisance to 19 the captives.
Dost thou see how great virtue is? When they were in actual captivity he waited on them as masters. He therefore was the captive, rather than they. It would not have been so marvelous if when they were in their native country, he had come and done them reverence in their own land, or if they had been rulers there. But the marvelous thing is, that after he had bound them, and taken them captive, and had them in his own country, he was not ashamed to do them reverence in the sight of all, and to “offer an oblation.” 20 (Da 2,46).
Do you see that the really splendid things are those which relate to God, whereas human things are a shadow? He knew not, it seems, that he was leading away masters for himself, and that he cast into the furnace those whom he was about to worship.But to them, these things were as a dream.
Let us fear God, beloved, let us fear [Him]: even should we be in captivity, we are more glorious than all men. Let the fear of God be present with us, and nothing will be grievous, even though thou speak of poverty, or of disease, or of captivity, or of slavery, or of any other grievous thing: Nay even these very things will themselves work together for us the other way. These men were captives, and the king worshiped them: Paul was a tent-maker, and they sacrificed to him as a God.
2608 [8.] Here a question arises: Why, you ask, did the Apostles prevent the sacrifices, and rend their clothes, and divert them from their attempt, and say with earnest lamentation, “What are ye doing? we also are men of like passions with you” (Ac 14,15); whereas Daniel did nothing of this kind.
For that he also was humble, and referred [the] glory to God no less than they, is evident from many places. Especially indeed is it evident, from the very fact of his being beloved by God. For if he had appropriated to himself the honor belonging to God, He would not have suffered him to live, much less to be in honor. Secondly, because even with great openness he said, “And as to me, O King, this secret hath not been revealed to me through any wisdom that is in me.” (Da 2,30). And again; he was in the den for God’s sake, and when the prophet brought him food, he saith, “For God hath remembered me.” (Bel and the Dragon, ver. 38). Thus humble and contrite was he.
(He was in the den for God’s sake, and yet he counted himself unworthy of His remembrance, and of being heard. Yet we though daring [to commit] innumerable pollutions, and being of all men most polluted, if we be not heard at our first prayer, draw back. Truly, great is the distance between them and us, as great as between heaven and earth, or if there be any greater.
What sayest thou? After so many achievements, after the miracle which had been wrought in the den, dost thou account thyself so humble? Yea, he says; for what things soever we have done, “we are unprofitable servants.” (Lc 17,10). Thus by anticipation did he fulfill the evangelical precept, and accounted himself nothing. For “God hath remembered me,” he said. His prayer again, of how great lowliness of mind it is full. And again the three children said thus, “We have sinned, we have committed iniquity.” (Song of the Three Children, ver. 6). And everywhere they show their humility.
And yet Daniel had occasions innumerable for being puffed up; but he knew that these also came to him on account of his not being puffed up, and he did not destroy his treasure. For among all men, and in the whole world he was celebrated, not only 21 because the king cast himself on his face and offered sacrifice to him, and accounted him to be a God, who was himself honored as God in all parts of the world: for he ruled over the whole [earth]; (and this is evident from Jeremiah. “Who putteth on the earth,” saith he, “as a garment.” (See Jr 43,12 and Ps 104,2). And again, “I have given it to Nebuchadnezzar My servant” (Jr 27,6), and again from what he [the King] says in his letter). 22 And because he was held in admiration not only in the place where he was, but everywhere, and was greater than if the rest of the nations had been present and seen him; when even by letters [the King] confessed his submission 23 and the miracle. But yet again for his wisdom he was also held in admiration, for it is said, “Art thou wiser than Daniel?” (Ez 28,3). And after all these things he was thus humble, dying ten thousand times for the Lord’s sake.
Why then, you ask, being so humble did he not repel either the adoration which was paid him by the king, or the offerings?
2609 [9.] This I will not say, for it is sufficient for me simply to mention the question, and the rest I leave to you, that at least in this way I may stir up your thoughts. (This however I conjure you, to choose all things for the fear of God, having such examples; and because in truth we shall obtain the things here also, if we sincerely lay hold on the things which are to come). For that he did not do this out of arrogance, is evident from his saying, “Thy gifts be to thyself.” (Da 5,17).
For besides this also again is another question, how while in words he rejected it, in deed he received the honor, and wore the chain 24 [of gold]. (Da 5,29).
Moreover while Herod on hearing the cry “It is the voice of a god and not of a man,” inasmuch as “he gave not God the glory, burst in sunder, and all his bowels gushed out” (Ac 12,22-23; see Ac 1,18), this man received to himself even the honor belonging to God, not words only.
However it is necessary to say what this is. In that case [at Lystra] the men were falling into greater idolatry, but in this [of Daniel] not so. How? For his being thus accounted of, was an honor to God. Therefore he said in anticipation, “And as to me, not through any wisdom that is in me.” (Da 2,30). And besides he does not even appear to have accepted the offerings. For he [the king] said (as it is written) that they should offer sacrifice, but it did not appear that the act followed. But there [at Lystra] they carried it even to sacrificing the bulls, and “they called” the one “Jupiter and” the other “Mercurius.” (Ac 14,12).
The chain [of gold] then he accepted, that he might make himself known; the offering however why does it not appear that he rejected it? For in the other case too they did not do it, but they attempted it, and the Apostles hindered them; wherefore here also he ought at once to have rejected [the adoration]. And there it was the entire people: here the King. Why he did not divert him [Daniel] expressed by anticipation, [viz.] that [the king] was not making an offering [to him] as to a God, to the overthrow of religious worship, but for the greater wonder. How so? It was on God’s account that [Nebuchadnezzar] made the decree; wherefore [Daniel] did not mutilate 25 the honor [offered]. But those others [at Lystra] did not act thus, but supposed them to be indeed gods. On this account they were repelled.
And here, after having done him reverence, he does these things: for he did not reverence him as a God, but as a wise man.
But it is not clear that he made the offering: and even if he did make it, yet not that it was with Daniel’s acceptance.
And what [of this], that he called him“Belteshazzar, the name of” his own “god”? 26 Thus [it seems] they accounted their gods to be nothing wonderful, when he called even the captive thus; he who commands all men to worship the image, 27 manifold and of various colors, and who adores the dragon. 28
Moreover the Babylonians were much more foolish than those at Lystra. Wherefore it was not possible at once to lead them on to this. And many [more] things one might say: but thus far these suffice.
If therefore we wish to obtain all good things, let us seek the things of God. For as they who seek the things of this world fail both of them and of the others, so they who prefer the things of God, obtain both. Let us then not seek these but those, that we may attain also to the good things promised in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen).
1 or, “bowed himself, made obeisance.”
2 That is, Jacob obtained the blessing from Isaac, but did not himself receive the good things bestowed by the blessing. Therefore the good things to come were not those of this world. This is a reply to the second, the alternative, interpretation suggested.
3 ajpwvnanto. This is the reading of the best mss. and the oldest translation. There seems no reason to adopt the later reading ajpwvnato, “he did not enjoy.”
4 prosekuvnhsen, as Gn 47,31. The same word also is used in the LXX. in Gn 37,7 Gn 37,9-10, of Joseph’s dreams, where our version has “made obeisance” and “bow down ourselves.”
6 kai; tou` mh; ejpi; toi`" aujtoi`" aujth;n ajnamevnein.
7 ta; kata;.
8 to; plhvrwma aujtou`.
9 oujdamou` gnwvrimoi gegovnasi).
10 i.e. they hoped that through their child, when they were dead, the promised blessings upon earth (or in the land of Canaan) would be given. In the next sentence St. Chrys. seems to return to the conduct of Joseph, in order to add an observation, which he had omitted before.
11 eij" polu; pareteivneto.
12 ejkei`no ejnhrgei`to.
13 Aijguvptou. This is the approved reading of the sacred text and of St. Chrys. The common editions have ejn Aijguvptw/, “in Egypt,” in each of the three places where the words recur).
14 The later mss. and common editions add some explanatory words, thus: “he suffered for Christ’s sake when he was reviled in the matter of the rock, from which he brought out water: and ‘that rock’ (he says) ‘was Christ’ ”; they omit the clause next following.
15 e[paqe ti.
17 See Ex 2,14-15. St. Chrys. is speaking of Moses’ flight after killing the Egyptian).
18 Probably this is to be understood according to that said Hom. 12,5 [supra, pp. 425, 426] of the co-operation of Grace and the human will.
19 proskunei`, Da 2,46.
20 manaa;, Da 2,46, according to the translation of Theodotion and the Vatican ms. The Alex, has manna;, as has one ms. of St. Chrys.
21 The apodosis seems to be, “But yet again for his wisdom,” &c., which comes after some parentheses.
22 See Da 4,1, &c.
23 th;n douleivan).
26 See Da 4,8.
27 Da 3,1, &c.
28 Bel and the Dragon 24).
Chrysostom He 2500