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THE NARRATIVE OF ZOSIMUS CONCERNING THE LIFE OF THE BLESSED. - A. Cleveland Coxe, Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume 9: The Gospel of Peter, Apocalypses and Romances, Commentaries of Origen 
Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume 9: The Gospel of Peter, the Diatessaron of Tatian, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Vision of Paul, the Apocalypse of the Virgin and Sedrach, the Testament of Abraham, the Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, the Narrative of Zosimus, the Apology of Aristides, the Epistles of Clement (complete text), Origen’s Commentary of John, Books 1-10, and Commentary on Matthew, Books 1, 2, and 10-14, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Revised and Chronologically arranged with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Cleveland Coxe (New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896-97).
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THE NARRATIVE OF ZOSIMUS CONCERNING THE LIFE OF THE BLESSED.
I. About that time there was in the desert a certain man named Zosimus, who for forty years ate no bread, and drank no wine, and saw not the face of man. This man was entreating God that he might see the way of life of the blessed, and behold an angel of the Lord was sent saying to him, Zosimus, man of God, behold I am sent by the Most High, the God of all, to tell thee that thou shalt journey to the blessed, but shalt not dwell with them. But exalt not thy heart, saying, For forty years I have not eaten bread, for the word of God is more than bread, and the spirit of God is more than wine. And as for thy saying, I have not seen the face of man, behold the face of the great king is nigh thee. Zosimus said, I know that the Lord can do whatsoever he will. The angel said to him, Know this also, that thou art not worthy of one of their delights, but arise and set out.
II. And I, Zosimus, issuing from my cave with God leading me, set out not knowing which way I went, and after I had travelled forty days my spirit grew faint and my body failed, and being exhausted I sat down, and continued praying in that place for three days. And, behold, there came a beast from the desert, whose name is the camel, and placing its knees on the ground, it received me upon its neck and went into the desert and set me down. There there was much howling of wild beasts, and gnashing of teeth, and deadly poison. And becoming afraid, I prayed to the Lord, and there came in that place a great earthquake with noise, and a storm of wind blew and lifted me from the earth, and exalted me on its wing, and I was praying and journeying till it set me upon a place beside a river, and the name of the river is Eumĕles. And behold when I desired to cross the river, some one cried as if from the water, saying, Zosimus, man of God, thou canst not pass through me, for no man can divide my waters: but look up from the waters to the heaven. And looking up I saw a wall of cloud stretching from the waters to the heaven, and the cloud said, Zosimus, man of God, through me no bird passes out of this world, nor breath of wind, nor the sun itself, nor can the tempter in this world pass through me.
III. And I was astonished at these words, and at the voice that spake these things to me. And as I prayed, behold two trees sprang up out of the earth, fair and beautiful, laden with fragrant fruits. And the tree on this side bent down and received me on its top, and was lifted up exceedingly above the middle of the river, and the other tree met me and received me in its branches and bending down set me on the ground; and both trees were lifted up and set me away from the river on the other side. In that place I rested three days, and arising again I went forward, whither I knew not, and that place was filled with much fragrance, and there was no mountain on either hand, but the place was level and flowery, all crowned with garlands, and all the land beautiful.
IV. And I saw there a naked man sitting, and said in myself, Surely this is not the tempter. And I remembered the voice of the cloud that it said to me, Not even the tempter in this world passes through me. And thus taking courage I said to him, Hail, brother. And he answering said to me, The grace of my God be with thee. Again I said to him, Tell me, man of God, who thou art? He answered and said to me, Who art thou rather? And I answered and told him all concerning myself, and that I had prayed to God and he had brought me into that place. He answered and said to me, I also know that thou art a man of God, for if not, thou couldst not have passed through the cloud and the river and the air. For the breadth of the river is about thirty thousand paces, and the cloud reaches to heaven, and the depth of the river to the abyss.
V. And having ended this discourse the man spoke again, Hast thou come hither out of the vanity of the world? I said to him, Wherefore art thou naked? He said, How knowest thou that I am naked? Thou wearest skins of the cattle of the earth, that decay together with thy body, but look up to the height of heaven and behold of what nature my clothing is. And looking up into heaven I saw his face as the face of an angel, and his clothing as lightning, which passes from the east to the west, and I was greatly afraid, thinking that it was the son of God, and trembled, falling upon the ground. And giving me his hand he raised me up, saying, Arise, I also am one of the blessed. Come with me, that I may lead thee to the elders. And laying hold of my hand he walked about with me and led me toward a certain crowd, and there were in that crowd elders like sons of God, and young men were standing beside the elders. And as I came near to them, they said, This man has come hither out of the vanity of the world; come, let us beseech the Lord and he will reveal to us this mystery. Surely the end is not at hand, that the man of vanity is come hither? Then they arose and besought the Lord with one accord, and behold two angels came down from heaven and said, Fear not the man, for God has sent him, that he may remain seven days and learn your ways of life, and then he shall go forth and depart to his own place. The angels of God having said this ascended into heaven before our eyes.
VI. Then the elders of the blessed gave me over to one of the attendants, saying, Keep him for seven days. So the attendant receiving me led me to his cave, and we sat under a tree partaking of food. For from the sixth hour even to the sixth, then we ate, and the water came out from the root of the tree sweeter than honey, and we drank our fill, and again the water sank down into its place. And all the country of those there heard of me, that there had come thither a man out of the vanity of the world, and all the country was stirred up, and they came to see me because it seemed strange to them. Therefore they were asking me all things and I was answering them, and I became faint in spirit and in body, and besought the man of God that served me, and said, I beseech thee, brother, if any come to see me, tell them He is not here, so that I may rest a little. And the man of God cried out saying, Woe is me, that the story of Adam is summed up in me, for Satan deceived him through Eve, and this man by his flattery desires to make me a liar while he is here. Take me away from hence, for I shall flee from the place. For behold he wishes to sow in me seeds of the world of vanity. And all the multitude and the elders rose up against me, and said, Depart from us, man; we know not whence thou art come to us. But I lamented with great lamentation, and my senses left me, and I cried out to the elders, saying, Forgive me, my lords, and the elders stilled them and made quietness. Then I related to them all from the beginning till that time, and said, I besought the Lord to come to you, and he deemed me worthy. And the elders said, And now what wilt thou we should do to thee? I said to them, I desire to learn of you your way of life.
VII. And they rejoiced with great joy, and taking up tables of stone they wrote on them with their nails, thus, Hear, ye sons of men, hear ye us who are become blessed, that we also are of you; for when the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed that the city of Jerusalem should be delivered into the hands of the destroyers, he rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and sprinkled dust upon his head, and took earth upon his bed, and told all the people to turn from their wicked way. And our father Rechab, the son of Aminadab, heard him and said to us, Ye sons and daughters of Rechab, hearken to your father, and put off your garments from your body, and drink no vessel of wine, and eat no bread from the fire, and drink not strong drink and honey until the Lord hear your entreaty. And we said, All that he has commanded us we shall do and hearken. So we cast away our clothing from our bodies, and we ate no bread from the fire, and drank no vessel of wine nor honey nor strong drink, and we lamented with a great lamentation and besought the Lord, and he heard our prayer and turned away his anger from the city of Jerusalem, and there came to the city of Jerusalem mercy from the Lord, and he pitied its people, and turned away his deadly anger.
VIII. And after these things the king of the city of Jerusalem died, and there arose another king. And all the people gathered to him and informed him concerning us, and said, There are certain of thy people, who have changed their way from us. Therefore the king summoned them, and asked them wherefore they had done this; and he sent for us and asked, Who are ye and of what worship and of what country? And we said to him, We are the sons of thy servant, and our father is Rechab the son of Jonadab, and when Jeremiah the prophet preached in the days of thy father the king, he proclaimed death to the city of Jerusalem, saying, Yet three days and all the city shall be put to death. And the king thy father hearing this repented of his sins, and issued a command to all to turn aside from their wicked way. And our father thy servant hearing it charged us, saying, Drink no vessel of wine, and eat no bread from the fire, until the Lord shall hear your entreaty. And we hearkened to the commandment of our father, and made naked our bodies, we drank no wine and ate no bread, and we prayed to the Lord for the city of Jerusalem, and the Lord pitied his people and turned away his anger, and we saw it and our soul was rejoiced, and we said, It is good for us to be so.
IX. And the king said to us, Ye have done well. Now therefore mingle with my people, and eat bread and drink wine, and glorify your Lord, and ye shall be serving God and the king. But we said, We will not disobey God. Then the king was enraged and set us in prison, and we passed that night there. And behold a light shone in the building, and an angel uncovered the prison and laid hold of the crowns of our heads, and took us out of the prison, and set us beside the water of the river, and said to us, Whithersoever the water goes, go ye also. And we travelled with the water and with the angel. When therefore he had brought us to this place, the river was dried up and the water was swallowed up by the abyss, and he made a wall round this country, and there came a wall of cloud, and shadowed above the water; and he did not scatter us over all the earth, but gave to us this country.
X. Hear, ye sons of men, hear the way of life of the blessed. For God placed us in this land, for we are holy but not immortal. For the earth produces most fragrant fruit, and out of the trunks of the trees comes water sweeter than honey, and these are our food and drink. We are also praying night and day, and this is all our occupation. Hear, ye sons of men; with us there is no vine, nor ploughed field, nor works of wood or iron, nor have we any house or building, nor fire nor sword, nor iron wrought or unwrought, nor silver nor gold, nor air too heavy or too keen. Neither do any of us take to themselves wives, except for so long as to beget two children, and after they have produced two children they withdraw from each other and continue in chastity, not knowing that they were ever in the intercourse of marriage, but being in virginity as from the beginning. And the one child remains for marriage, and the other for virginity.
XI. And there is no count of time, neither weeks nor months nor years, for all our day is one day. In our caves lie the leaves of trees, and this is our couch under the trees. But we are not naked of body, as ye wrongly imagine, for we have the garment of immortality and are not ashamed of each other. At the sixth hour of every day we eat, for the fruit of the tree falls of itself at the sixth hour, and we eat and drink our fill, and again the water sinks into its place. We also know you who are there in the world, and who are in sins, and your works, for every day the angels of the Lord come and tell them to us, and the number of your years. But we pray for you to the Lord, because we also are of you and of your race, except that God has chosen us, and has set us in this place without sin. And the angels of God dwell with us every day, and tell us all things concerning you, and we rejoice with the angels over the works of the just, but over the works of sinners we mourn and lament, praying to the Lord that he may cease from his anger and spare your offences.
XII. But when the time of the forty days comes, all the trees cease from their fruits, and the manna that he gave to our fathers rains down from heaven, and the manna is sweeter than honey. Thus we know that the season of the year is changed. But when the time of the holy passover comes, then again the trees put forth fragrant fruit, and thus we know that it is the beginning of the year. But the feast of the resurrection of the Lord is performed with much watching, for we continue watching for three days and three nights.
XIII. We know also the time of our end, for we have no torment nor disease nor pain in our bodies, nor exhaustion nor weakness, but peace and great patience and love. For our soul is not troubled by the angels to go forth, for the angels rejoice when they receive our souls, and the souls also rejoice with the angels when they behold them; as a bride receives the bridegroom, so our soul receives the announcement of the holy angels, saying nothing more than only this, The Lord calls thee. Then the soul quits the body and goes to the angels, and the angels seeing the soul coming forth spotless rejoice, and spreading out their robes receive it. Then the angels call it blessed, saying, Blessed art thou, O soul, because the will of the Lord is fulfilled in thee.
XIV. The time of our life is this. If one quits the body in his youth, the days of his life here are three hundred and sixty years, and he that quits the body in old age, the days of his life here are six hundred and eighty-eight years. And the day of our completion is made known to us by the angels, and when the angels of God come to take us, we go with them, and the elders, seeing the angels, gather together all the people and we depart together with the angels, singing psalms, until the angels arrive at the place of our abode. And because we have no tools, the angels of God themselves make the grave for our body, and thus he that is called by God goes down, and all salute him from small to great, sending him on his way and bidding him farewell. Then the soul quits the body and the angels receive it, but we see the shape of the soul as a shape of light, perfect in all the body apart from the distinction of male and female.
XV. Then the angels taking it up sing a song and hymn, making melody to God, and again other troops of angels come in haste to meet them, saluting the soul that is coming and entering into the firmaments. And when it has come to the place where it is to worship God, the son of God himself, together with the angels, receives the soul of the blessed one and bears it to the undefiled father of the ages, and again, when the angels sing above, we being below listen to them, and again we sing and they listen in heaven above, and thus between us and the angels there arises a giving of praise in hymns. But when the soul of the blessed one, falling upon its face, worships the Lord, then we also falling down worship the Lord in that same hour, and when the Lord raises it up then we also arise; and when it goes to its appointed place, we also go into the church, fulfilling the eucharist of the Lord.
Having written these things, and all the life of the blessed, we gave them to our brother Zosimus, and escorted him as far as the place of trees beside the river Eumĕles.
XVI. And I, Zosimus, besought again the blessed ones to make entreaty for me to the Lord that the trees might receive me to take me across. And they all cried to the Lord and said, O God that hast shown us thy marvels and hast made thy servant Zosimus to come to us out of the world of vanity, set him again in his own place with peace, and command these trees to bow down and take up thy servant and set him on the further side. And as they finished their prayer, the trees straightway bent down before them, and received me as on the second day before; and being set on the other side of the river I cried with a loud voice and said, Men of righteousness, who are brothers of the holy angels, grant me your prayer in peace, for behold I depart from you. And making prayer they all cried out, saying, Peace, peace be with you, brother.
XVII. Then I prayed to the Lord, and there came to me a storm of wind, and received me upon its wings, and carried me to the place where it found me sitting, and left me there in peace. And raising its voice the wind said to me, Blessed art thou, Zosimus, that thou hast been numbered with the blessed. And the beast from the desert, whose name is the camel, came and received me upon its neck and carried me eighty and five stations, and set me in the place where it found me praying, and left me in peace, crying and saying, Blessed art thou, Zosimus, that thou hast been numbered with the blessed.
XVIII. But seeing me thus praised, Satan desired to tempt me and throw his dart at me from his station, but an angel of God came and said to me, Zosimus, behold Satan is coming to tempt thee, but the Lord will fight for thee, for the glory of thy faith must bind1 Satan. And an angel of God appeared, crying and saying, Welcome, blessed one of Christ. Come and I shall lead thee to the cave that is the dwelling-place of thy body, for thy cave shall be a testimony of the desert, a healing of the sick that come to it, a place of trial and touch-stone of demons. And laying hold of my hand he strengthened me, and led me for forty days to the cave where I had dwelt. And there was there a table of righteousness, and I spent the night with the angels of God. And I placed the tablets that were given me by the holy blessed ones on the step of the altar in my cave.
XIX. And, behold, when the angels of God ascended, the Devil came, having a fierce shape, and possessed with anger and gall, and said to me, I knew that God would do with thee as with the blessed ones, and that they shall be free from sin and be above the angels, and therefore I brought in an evil design, and entered into the vessel of the serpent, an evil-doer added to evil-doer. And by this I made the first man Adam to transgress and taste of the tree of life, since God had commanded him not to eat of it, that he might remain equal in glory to God and the holy angels; and thou again hast gone and brought this commandment, but now that they may not be without sin, I shall show thee how I shall destroy thee and all those that receive this commandment, so that they may not be without sin, and the book that thou hast brought.
XX. Saying these things the Devil departed from me, and after eight days he brought with him one thousand three hundred and sixty demons, and dragged me from the cave as I prayed, and they beat me, tossing me about between them, for forty days. And after the forty days the devil lamented before me and said, Woe is me that through one man I have lost the world, for he has vanquished me by his prayer. And he began to run from me, but I laying hold of him stayed him and said, Thou shalt not run away and flee from me until thou swearest to me never again to tempt man. And lamenting with great and violent lamentation he swore to me by the firmament of heaven, So long as thy dwelling is here, and after thee, I will not come upon this place. Then I let him go, sending him and the demons with him into eternal fire. Then the angel came, who had companied with me at the table, and led me into my cave with great glory.
XXI. After this I lived thirty-six years, and communicated the way of life of the blessed to the fathers in the desert. But the Devil wept because of the tables of the life of the blessed, saying, If this get abroad in the world, I shall be mocked, and these will remain without sin and I alone in folly. And after the completion of the thirty-six years, the angels of God came to me as to the blessed.
And all the monks were gathered together and all who heard it, and this testament was read to all of them, and in such life he gave up his soul to God.
XXII. And I, Cryseos,1 being one of those in the desert, spread it abroad and gave it to all that were willing to learn it and profit by it. Therefore the angels of God helped to bury the body of Zosimus as a precious gift, and we saw the soul of the blessed one shining seven times brighter than the sun. And straightway upon that place there came up seven palm-trees and overshadowed the cave. There came up also a fountain of water in that place, holy water, and unto this day a healing and salvation to all the sick that come to it. Peace be to all that have heard the memorial of the holy Zosimus; the Lord is the advocate and helper of all to the endless ages of ages. Amen.
THE EPISTLES OF CLEMENT.
Reprinted from the translation given in the 1st vol. of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Completed and revised from a manuscript discovered after the publication of that volume.
INTRODUCTORY NOTICE TO 1st CLEMENT.
[From Vol. I. of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.]
The first Epistle, bearing the name of Clement, has been preserved to us in a single manuscript only. Though very frequently referred to by ancient Christian writers, it remained unknown to the scholars of Western Europe until happily discovered in the Alexandrian manuscript. This ms. of the sacred Scriptures (known and generally referred to as Codex A) was presented in 1628 by Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles I., and is now preserved in the British Museum. Subjoined to the books of the New Testament contained in it, there are two writings described as the Epistles of one Clement. Of these, that now before us is the first. It is tolerably perfect, but there are many slight lacunæ, or gaps, in the ms., and one whole leaf is supposed to have been lost towards the close. These lacunæ, however, so numerous in some chapters, do not generally extend beyond a word or syllable, and can for the most part be easily supplied.
Who the Clement was to whom these writings are ascribed, cannot with absolute certainty be determined. The general opinion is, that he is the same as the person of that name referred to by St. Paul (Phil. iv. 3). The writings themselves contain no statement as to their author. The first, and by far the longer of them, simply purports to have been written in the name of the church at Rome to the church at Corinth. But in the catalogue of contents prefixed to the ms. they are both plainly attributed to one Clement; and the judgment of most scholars is, that, in regard to the first epistle at least, this statement is correct, and that it is to be regarded as an authentic production of the friend and fellow-worker of St. Paul. This belief may be traced to an early period in the history of the church. It is found in the writings of Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 15), of Origen (Comm. in Joan., i. 29), and others. The internal evidence also tends to support this opinion. The doctrine, style, and manner of thought are all in accordance with it; so that, although, as has been said, positive certainty cannot be reached on the subject, we may with great probability conclude that we have in this epistle a composition of that Clement who is known to us from Scripture as having been an associate of the great apostle.
The date of this epistle has been the subject of considerable controversy. It is clear from the writing itself that it was composed soon after some persecution (chap. i.) which the Roman church had endured; and the only question is, whether we are to fix upon the persecution under Nero or Domitian. If the former, the date will be about the year 68; if the latter, we must place it towards the close of the first century or the beginning of the second. We possess no external aid to the settlement of this question. The lists of early Roman bishops are in hopeless confusion, some making Clement the immediate successor of St. Peter, others placing Linus, and others still Linus and Anacletus, between him and the apostle. The internal evidence, again, leaves the matter doubtful, though it has been strongly pressed on both sides. The probability seems, on the whole, to be in favour of the Domitian period, so that the epistle may be dated about ad 97.
This epistle was held in very great esteem by the early church. The account given of it by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 16) is as follows: “There is one acknowledged epistle of this Clement (whom he has just identified with the friend of St. Paul), great and admirable, which he wrote in the name of the church of Rome to the church at Corinth, sedition having then arisen in the latter church. We are aware that this epistle has been publicly read in very many churches, both in old times and also in our own day.” The epistle before us thus appears to have been read in numerous churches, as being almost on a level with the canonical writings. And its place in the Alexandrian ms., immediately after the inspired books, is in harmony with the position thus assigned it in the primitive church. There does indeed appear a great difference between it and the inspired writings in many respects, such as the fanciful use sometimes made of Old Testament statements, the fabulous stories which are accepted by its author, and the general diffuseness and feebleness of style by which it is distinguished. But the high tone of evangelical truth which pervades it, the simple and earnest appeals which it makes to the heart and conscience, and the anxiety which its writer so constantly shows to promote the best interests of the church of Christ, still impart an undying charm to this precious relic of later apostolic times.
Towards the close of 1875, at Constantinople, Philotheus Bryennius, Metropolitan of Serræ, published the first complete edition of the epistles ascribed to Clement. This he was enabled to do by the discovery of a ms. in the library of the Holy Sepulchre at Fanari in Constantinople. This ms., of vellum, consists of one hundred and twenty leaves in small octavo, nearly seven and a half inches in length and six in breadth. The ms. bears the date 1056, and was written by one Leo. Its contents are:
The ms. is written with comparative accuracy and clearness. Internal evidence seems to establish its independent value; e.g., words carelessly omitted in the Codex Alexandrinus are found in this ms. It also supplies the lacunæ, notably chapters 57 (concluding sentence)—63 inclusive of the first Epistle and chapters 12 (concluding sentences)—20, being the close of the second Epistle. Harnack seems to prove that the new ms. is as complete as the original Alexandrian.
The lacuna of the first Epistle consists mainly of a prayer, the writer somewhat abruptly passing from the oratio obliqua to the oratio recta. The prayer is indicative of intense earnestness and emotion rather than official authority. It is marked by wealth of quotation, especially from the Septuagint. Perhaps, too, the nature of the sufferings referred to in the opening chapters may be inferred from the petitions of this prayer.
In the Notes the old ms. is indicated by A, the recently discovered ms. by I.
THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS.1
THE SALUTATION. PRAISE OF THE CORINTHIANS BEFORE THE BREAKING FORTH OF SCHISM AMONG THEM.
The church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.
Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events2 which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury.3 For who ever dwelt even for a short time among you, and did not find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was firmly established?4 Who did not admire the sobriety and moderation of your godliness in Christ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence of your habitual hospitality? And who did not rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded knowledge? For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you. Ye enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind, ye instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and ye taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion.
PRAISE OF THE CORINTHIANS CONTINUED.
Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it,5 and were more willing to give than to receive.6 Content with the provision which God7 had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye were inwardly filled8 with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all. Full of holy designs, ye did, with true earnestness of mind and a godly confidence, stretch forth your hands to God Almighty, beseeching Him to be merciful unto you, if ye had been guilty of any involuntary transgression. Day and night ye were anxious for the whole brotherhood,9 that the number of God’s elect might be saved with mercy10 and a good conscience.11 Ye were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. Ye mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own. Ye never grudged any act of kindness, being “ready to every good work.”1 Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, ye did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written upon the tablets of your hearts.2
THE SAD STATE OF THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH AFTER SEDITION AROSE IN IT FROM ENVY AND EMULATION.
Every kind of honour and happiness3 was bestowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that which is written, “My beloved did eat and drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked.”4 Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity. So the worthless rose up against the honoured, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years. For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith,5 neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian,6 but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world.7
MANY EVILS HAVE ALREADY FLOWED FROM THIS SOURCE IN ANCIENT TIMES.
For thus it is written: “And it came to pass after certain days, that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice unto God; and Abel also brought of the firstlings of his sheep, and of the fat thereof. And God had respect to Abel and to his offerings, but Cain and his sacrifices He did not regard. And Cain was deeply grieved, and his countenance fell. And God said to Cain, Why art thou grieved, and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou offerest rightly, but dost not divide rightly, hast thou not sinned? Be at peace: thine offering returns to thyself, and thou shalt again possess it. And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go into the field. And it came to pass, while they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”8 Ye see, brethren, how envy and jealousy led to the murder of a brother. Through envy, also, our father Jacob fled from the face of Esau his brother.9 Envy made Joseph be persecuted unto death, and to come into bondage.10 Envy compelled Moses to flee from the face of Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he heard these words from his fellow-countryman, “Who made thee a judge or a ruler over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst kill the Egyptian yesterday?”11 On account of envy, Aaron and Miriam had to make their abode without the camp.12 Envy brought down Dathan and Abiram alive to Hades, through the sedition which they excited against God’s servant Moses.13 Through envy, David not only underwent the hatred of foreigners, but was also persecuted by Saul king of Israel.14
NO LESS EVILS HAVE ARISEN FROM THE SAME SOURCE IN THE MOST RECENT TIMES. THE MARTYRDOM OF PETER AND PAUL.
But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes.15 Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy16 and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church] have been persecuted and put to death.17 Let us set before our eyes the illustrious18 apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained19 the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity,20 compelled21 to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness1 to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west,2 and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.3 Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.
CONTINUATION. SEVERAL OTHER MARTYRS.
To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids4 and Dircæ, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with stedfastness,5 and though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”6 Envy and strife have overthrown7 great cities, and rooted up mighty nations.
AN EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE.
These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling.8 Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God9 which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.10 Let us turn to11 every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved.12 Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites;13 but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.
CONTINUATION RESPECTING REPENTANCE.
The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;”14 adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity.”15 Say to the children of my people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, and though they be redder16 than scarlet, and blacker than sack-cloth, yet if ye turn to me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy17 people. And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.”18 Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].
EXAMPLES OF THE SAINTS.
Wherefore, let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours,19 and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions. Let us stedfastly contemplate those who have perfectly ministered to his excellent glory. Let us take (for instance) Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated, and death was never known to happen to him.1 Noah, being found faithful, preached regeneration to the world through his ministry; and the Lord saved by him the animals which, with one accord, entered into the ark.
CONTINUATION OF THE ABOVE.
Abraham, styled “the friend,”2 was found faithful, inasmuch as he rendered obedience to the words of God. He, in the exercise of obedience, went out from his own country, and from his kindred, and from his father’s house, in order that, by forsaking a small territory, and a weak family, and an insignificant house, he might inherit the promises of God. For God said to him, “Get thee out from thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, into the land which I shall show thee. And I will make thee a great nation, and will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be blessed. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”3 And again, on his departing from Lot, God said to him, “Lift up thine eyes, and look from the place where thou now art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, [so that] if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.”4 And again [the Scripture] saith, “God brought forth Abram, and spake unto him, Look up now to heaven, and count the stars if thou be able to number them; so shall thy seed be. And Abram believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”5 On account of his faith and hospitality, a son was given him in his old age; and in the exercise of obedience, he offered him as a sacrifice to God on one of the mountains which He showed him.6
On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodom when all the country round was punished by means of fire and brimstone, the Lord thus making it manifest that He does not forsake those that hope in Him, but gives up such as depart from Him to punishment and torture.7 For Lot’s wife, who went forth with him, being of a different mind from himself, and not continuing in agreement with him [as to the command which had been given them], was made an example of, so as to be a pillar of salt unto this day.8 This was done that all might know that those who are of a double mind, and who distrust the power of God, bring down judgment on themselves,9 and become a sign to all succeeding generations.
THE REWARDS OF FAITH AND HOSPITALITY. RAHAB.
On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved. For when spies were sent by Joshua, the son of Nun, to Jericho, the king of the country ascertained that they were come to spy out their land, and sent men to seize them, in order that, when taken, they might be put to death. But the hospitable Rahab receiving them, concealed them on the roof of her house under some stalks of flax. And when the men sent by the king arrived and said, “There came men unto thee who are to spy out our land; bring them forth, for so the king commands,” she answered them, “The two men whom ye seek came unto me, but quickly departed again and are gone,” thus not discovering the spies to them. Then she said to the men, “I know assuredly that the Lord your God hath given you this city, for the fear and dread of you have fallen on its inhabitants. When therefore ye shall have taken it, keep ye me and the house of my father in safety.” And they said to her, “It shall be as thou hast spoken to us. As soon, therefore, as thou knowest that we are at hand, thou shalt gather all thy family under thy roof, and they shall be preserved, but all that are found outside of thy dwelling shall perish.”10 Moreover, they gave her a sign to this effect, that she should hang forth from her house a scarlet thread. And thus they made it manifest that redemption should flow through the blood of the Lord to all them that believe and hope in God.11 Ye see, beloved, that there was not only faith, but prophecy, in this woman.
AN EXHORTATION TO HUMILITY.
Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit saith, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness”1 ), being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching us meekness and long-suffering. For thus He spoke: “Be ye merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as ye do, so shall it be done unto you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same it shall be measured to you.”2 By this precept and by these rules let us stablish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word saith, “On whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and that trembleth at my words?”3
WE SHOULD OBEY GOD RATHER THAN THE AUTHORS OF SEDITION.
It is right and holy therefore, men and brethren, rather to obey God than to follow those who, through pride and sedition, have become the leaders of a detestable emulation. For we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclinations of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults,4 so as to draw us away from what is good. Let us be kind one to another after the pattern of the tender mercy and benignity of our Creator. For it is written, “The kind-hearted shall inhabit the land, and the guiltless shall be left upon it, but transgressors shall be destroyed from off the face of it.”5 And again [the Scripture] saith, “I saw the ungodly highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Lebanon: I passed by, and, behold, he was not; and I diligently sought his place, and could not find it. Preserve innocence, and look on equity: for there shall be a remnant to the peaceable man.6
WE MUST ADHERE TO THOSE WHO CULTIVATE PEACE, NOT TO THOSE WHO MERELY PRETEND TO DO SO.
Let us cleave, therefore, to those who cultivate peace with godliness, and not to those who hypocritically profess to desire it. For [the Scripture] saith in a certain place, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”7 And again: “They bless with their mouth, but curse with their heart.”8 And again it saith, “They loved Him with their mouth, and lied9 to Him with their tongue; but their heart was not right with Him, neither were they faithful in His covenant.”10 “Let the deceitful lips become silent,11 [and “let the Lord destroy all the lying lips,12 ] and the boastful tongue of those who have said, Let us magnify our tongue: our lips are our own; who is lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, and for the sighing of the needy, will I now arise, saith the Lord: I will place him in safety; I will deal confidently with him.”13
CHRIST AS AN EXAMPLE OF HUMILITY.
For Christ is of those who are humbleminded, and not of those who exalt themselves over His flock. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so, but in a lowly condition, as the Holy Spirit had declared regarding Him. For He says, “Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have declared [our message] in His presence: He is, as it were, a child, and like a root in thirsty ground; He has no form nor glory, yea, we saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness; but His form was without eminence, yea, deficient in comparison with the [ordinary] form of men. He is a man exposed to stripes and suffering, and acquainted with the endurance of grief: for His countenance was turned away; He was despised, and not esteemed. He bears our iniquities, and is in sorrow for our sakes; yet we supposed that [on His own account] He was exposed to labour, and stripes, and affliction. But He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we were healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; [every] man has wandered in his own way; and the Lord has delivered Him up for our sins, while He in the midst of His sufferings openeth not His mouth. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before her shearer is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away; who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. For the transgressions of my people was He brought down to death. And I will give the wicked for His sepulchre, and the rich for His death,1 because He did no iniquity, neither was guile found in His mouth. And the Lord is pleased to purify him by stripes.2 If ye make3 an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed. And the Lord is pleased to relieve Him of the affliction of His soul, to show Him light, and to form Him with understanding,4 to justify the Just One who ministereth well to many; and He Himself shall carry their sins. On this account He shall inherit many, and shall divide the spoil of the strong; because His soul was delivered to death, and He was reckoned among the transgressors, and He bare the sins of many, and for their sins was He delivered.”5 And again He saith, “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All that see me have derided me; they have spoken with their lips; they have wagged their head, [saying] He hoped in God, let Him deliver Him, let Him save Him, since He delighteth in Him.”6 Ye see, beloved, what is the example which has been given us; for if the Lord thus humbled Himself, what shall we do who have through Him come under the yoke of His grace?
THE SAINTS AS EXAMPLES OF HUMILITY.
Let us be imitators also of those who in goat-skins and sheep-skins7 went about proclaiming the coming of Christ; I mean Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel among the prophets, with those others to whom a like testimony is borne [in Scripture]. Abraham was specially honoured, and was called the friend of God; yet he, earnestly regarding the glory of God, humbly declared, “I am but dust and ashes.”8 Moreover, it is thus written of Job, “Job was a righteous man, and blameless, truthful, God-fearing, and one that kept himself from all evil.”9 But bringing an accusation against himself, he said, “No man is free from defilement, even if his life be but of one day.10 Moses was called faithful in all God’s house;11 and through his instrumentality,12 God punished Egypt with plagues and tortures. Yet he, though thus greatly honoured, did not adopt lofty language, but said, when the divine oracle came to him out of the bush, “Who am I, that Thou sendest me? I am a man of a feeble voice and a slow tongue.”13 And again he said, “I am but as the smoke of a pot.”14
DAVID AS AN EXAMPLE OF HUMILITY.
But what shall we say concerning David, to whom such testimony was borne, and of whom15 God said, “I have found a man after mine own heart, David the son of Jesse; and in everlasting mercy have I anointed him?”16 Yet this very man saith to God, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out my transgression.17 Wash me still more from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight; that Thou mayest be justified in Thy sayings, and mayest overcome when Thou18 art judged. For, behold, I was conceived in transgressions, and in sins did my mother conceive me. For, behold, Thou hast loved truth; the secret and hidden things of wisdom hast Thou shown me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; my bones, which have been humbled, shall exult. Turn away Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.1 Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and establish me by Thy governing Spirit. I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall be converted unto Thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness,2 O God, the God of my salvation: my tongue shall exult in Thy righteousness. O Lord, Thou shalt open my mouth, and my lips shall show forth Thy praise. For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would have given it; Thou wilt not delight in burntofferings. The sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a bruised spirit; a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.”3
IMITATING THESE EXAMPLES, LET US SEEK AFTER PEACE.
Thus the humility and godly submission of so great and illustrious men have rendered not only us, but also all the generations before us, better; even as many as have received His oracles in fear and truth. Wherefore, having so many great and glorious examples set before us, let us turn again to the practice of that peace which from the beginning was the mark set before us;4 and let us look stedfastly to the Father and Creator of the universe, and cleave to His mighty and surpassingly great gifts and benefactions of peace. Let us contemplate Him with our understanding, and look with the eyes of our soul to His long-suffering will. Let us reflect how free from the wrath He is towards all His creation.
THE PEACE AND HARMONY OF THE UNIVERSE.
The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed. The unsearchable places of abysses, and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world, are restrained by the same laws. The vast unmeasurable sea, gathered together by His working into various basins,5 never passes beyond the bounds placed around it, but does as He has commanded. For He said, “Thus far shalt thou come, and thy waves shall be broken within thee.”6 The ocean, impassable to man and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place7 to one another. The winds in their several quarters8 fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance. The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men. The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.
LET US OBEY GOD, AND NOT THE AUTHORS OF SEDITION.
Take heed, beloved, lest His many kindnesses lead to the condemnation of us all. [For thus it must be] unless we walk worthy of Him, and with one mind do those things which are good and well-pleasing in His sight. For [the Scripture] saith in a certain place, “The Spirit of the Lord is a candle searching the secret parts of the belly.”9 Let us reflect how near He is, and that none of the thoughts or reasonings in which we engage are hid from Him. It is right, therefore, that we should not leave the post which His will has assigned us. Let us rather offend those men who are foolish, and inconsiderate, and lifted up, and who glory in the pride of their speech, than [offend] God. Let us reverence the Lord Jesus Christ,10 whose blood was given for us; let us esteem those who have the rule over us;11 let us honour the aged12 among us; let us train up the young men in the fear of God; let us direct our wives to that which is good. Let them exhibit the lovely habit of purity [in all their conduct]; let them show forth the sincere disposition of meekness; let them make manifest the command which they have of their tongue, by their manner1 of speaking; let them display their love, not by preferring2 one to another, but by showing equal affection to all that piously fear God. Let your children be partakers of true Christian training; let them learn of how great avail humility is with God—how much the spirit of pure affection can prevail with Him—how excellent and great His fear is, and how it saves all those who walk in3 it with a pure mind. For He is a Searcher of the thoughts and desires [of the heart]: His breath is in us; and when He pleases, He will take it away.
THESE EXHORTATIONS ARE CONFIRMED BY THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, WHICH PROCLAIMS THE MISERY OF SINFUL CONDUCT.
Now the faith which is in Christ confirms all these [admonitions]. For He Himself by the Holy Ghost thus addresses us: “Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.4 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth to see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eves of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are [open] unto their prayers. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles.”5 “Many are the stripes [appointed for] the wicked; but mercy shall compass those about who hope in the Lord.”6
BE HUMBLE, AND BELIEVE THAT CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN.
The all-merciful and beneficent Father has bowels [of compassion] towards those that fear Him, and kindly and lovingly bestows His favours upon those who come to Him with a simple mind. Wherefore let us not be double-minded; neither let our soul be lifted7 up on account of His exceedingly great and glorious gifts. Far from us be that which is written, “Wretched are they who are of a double mind, and of a doubting heart; who say, These things we have heard even in the times of our fathers; but, behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened unto us;”8 Ye foolish ones! compare yourselves to a tree; take [for instance] the vine. First of all, it sheds its leaves,9 then it buds, next it puts forth leaves, and then it flowers; after that comes the sour grape, and then follows the ripened fruit. Ye perceive how in a little time the fruit of a tree comes to maturity. Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, “Speedily will He come, and will not tarry;10 and, “The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom ye look.”11
GOD CONTINUALLY SHOWS US IN NATURE THAT THERE WILL BE A RESURRECTION.
Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ12 the first-fruits13 by raising Him from the dead. Let us contemplate, beloved, the resurrection which is at all times14 taking place. Day and night declare to us a resurrection. The night sinks to sleep, and the day arises; the day [again] departs, and the night comes on. Let us behold15 the fruits [of the earth], how the sowing of grain takes place. The sower16 goes forth, and casts it into the ground,17 and the seed being thus scattered, though dry and naked when it fell upon the earth, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its dissolution the mighty power of the providence of the Lord raises it up again, and from one seed many arise and bring forth fruit.
THE PHŒNIX AN EMBLEM OF OUR RESURRECTION.
Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phœnix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes1 from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying2 in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed.3
WE SHALL RISE AGAIN, THEN, AS THE SCRIPTURE ALSO TESTIFIES.
Do we then deem it any great and wonderful thing for the Maker of all things to raise up again those that have piously served Him in the assurance of a good faith, when even by a bird He shows us the mightiness of His power to fulfil His promise?4 For [the Scripture] saith in a certain place, “Thou shalt raise me up, and I shall confess unto Thee”;5 and again, “I laid me down, and slept”; “I awaked, because Thou art with me;”6 and again, Job says, “Thou shalt raise up this flesh of mine, which has suffered all these things.”7
IN THE HOPE OF THE RESURRECTION, LET US CLEAVE TO THE OMNIPOTENT AND OMNISCIENT GOD.
Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments. He who has commanded us not to lie, shall much more Himself not lie; for nothing is impossible with God, except to lie.8 Let His faith therefore be stirred up again within us, and let us consider that all things are nigh unto Him. By the word of His might9 He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them. “Who shall say unto Him, What hast thou done? or, Who shall resist the power of His strength?”10 When, and as He pleases, He will do all things, and none of the things determined by Him shall pass away.11 All things are open before Him, and nothing can be hidden from His counsel. “The heavens12 declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy-work.13 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. And there are no words or speeches of which the voices are not heard.”14
GOD SEES ALL THINGS: THEREFORE LET US AVOID TRANSGRESSION.
Since then all things are seen and heard [by God], let us fear Him, and forsake those wicked works which proceed from evil15 desires;16 so that, through His mercy, we may be protected from the judgments to come. For whither can any of us flee from His mighty hand? Or what world will receive any of those who run away from Him? For the Scripture saith in a certain place, “Whither shall I go, and where shall I be hid from Thy presence? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I go away even to the uttermost parts of the earth, there is Thy right hand;17 if I make my bed in the abyss, there is Thy Spirit.”18 Whither, then, shall any one go, or where shall he escape from Him who comprehends all things?
LET US ALSO DRAW NEAR TO GOD IN PURITY OF HEART.
Let us then draw near to Him with holiness of spirit, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, loving our gracious and merciful Father, who has made us partakers in the blessings of His elect.19 For thus it is written, “When the Most High divided the nations, when He scattered20 the sons of Adam, He fixed the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. His people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of His inheritance.21 And in another place [the Scripture] saith, “Behold, the Lord taketh unto Himself a nation out of the midst of the nations, as a man takes the first-fruits of his threshing-floor; and from that nation shall come forth the Most Holy.”1
LET US DO THOSE THINGS THAT PLEASE GOD, AND FLEE FROM THOSE HE HATES, THAT WE MAY BE BLESSED.
Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One,2 let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,3 all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” [saith the Scripture], “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”4 Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words. For [the Scripture] saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed5 is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.”6 Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good7 deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to8 those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.
LET US SEE BY WHAT MEANS WE MAY OBTAIN THE DIVINE BLESSING.
Let us cleave then to His blessing, and consider what are the means9 of possessing it. Let us think10 over the things which have taken place from the beginning. For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he wrought righteousness and truth through faith? Isaac,11 with perfect confidence, as if knowing what was to happen,12 cheerfully yielded himself as a sacrifice.13 Jacob, through reason14 of his brother, went forth with humility from his own land, and came to Laban and served him; and there was given to him the sceptre of the twelve tribes of Israel.
WE ARE JUSTIFIED NOT BY OUR OWN WORKS, BUT BY FAITH.
Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him.15 For from him16 have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.17 From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory,18 inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.”19 All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will20 in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
BUT LET US NOT GIVE UP THE PRACTICE OF GOOD WORKS AND LOVE. GOD HIMSELF IS AN EXAMPLE TO US OF GOOD WORKS.
What shall we do,21 then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works. For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immovable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word1 into existence. So likewise, when He had formed2 the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. Above all,3 with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him—the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: “Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them.”4 Having thus finished all these things, He approved them, and blessed them, and said, “Increase and multiply.”5 We see,6 then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength.
GREAT IS THE REWARD OF GOOD WORKS WITH GOD. JOINED TOGETHER IN HARMONY, LET US IMPLORE THAT REWARD FROM HIM.
The good servant7 receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: “Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work.”8 He exhorts us, therefore,9 with our whole heart to attend to this,10 that we be not lazy or slothful in any good work. Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him. Let us submit ourselves to His will. Let us consider the whole multitude of His angels, how they stand ever ready to minister to His will. For the Scripture saith, “Ten thousand times ten thousand stood around Him, and thousands of thousands ministered unto Him,11 and cried, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the Lord of Sabaoth; the whole creation12 is full of His glory.”13 And let us therefore, conscientiously gathering together in harmony, cry to Him earnestly, as with one mouth, that we may be made partakers of His great and glorious promises. For [the Scripture] saith, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which He hath prepared for them that wait for14 Him.”15
IMMENSE IS THIS REWARD. HOW SHALL WE OBTAIN IT?
How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence,16 faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings [now]; what then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds,17 the Most Holy,18 alone knows their amount and their beauty. Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done? If our understanding be fixed by faith towards God; if we earnestly seek the things19 which are pleasing and acceptable to Him; if we do the things which are in harmony with His blameless will; and if we follow the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and inquity,20 along with all covetousness,21 strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and evil-speaking, all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and ambition.22 For they that do such things are hateful to God: and not only they that do them, but also those that take pleasure in them that do them.23 For the Scripture saith, “But to the sinner God said, Wherefore dost thou declare my statutes, and take my covenant into thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee? When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst with24 him, and didst make thy portion with adulterers. Thy mouth has abounded with wickedness, and thy tongue contrived1 deceit. Thou sittest, and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest2 thine own mother’s son. These things thou hast done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest, wicked one, that I should be like to thyself. But I will reprove thee, and set thyself before thee. Consider now these things, ye that forget God, lest He tear you in pieces, like a lion, and there be none to deliver.3 The sacrifice of praise will glorify me, and a way is there by which I will show him the salvation of God.”4
ALL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO US THROUGH CHRIST.
This is the way, beloved, in which we find our Saviour,5 even Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all our offerings, the defender and helper of our infirmity. By Him we look up to the heights of heaven. By Him we behold, as in a glass, His immaculate and most excellent visage. By Him are the eyes of our hearts opened. By Him our foolish and darkened understanding blossoms6 up anew towards His marvellous light. By Him the Lord has willed that we should taste of immortal knowledge,7 “who, being the brightness of His majesty, is by so much greater than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”8 For it is thus written, “Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.”9 But concerning His Son10 the Lord spoke thus: “Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.”11 And again He saith to Him, “Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.”12 But who are His enemies? All the wicked, and those who set themselves to oppose the will of God.13
CHRIST IS OUR LEADER, AND WE HIS SOLDIERS.
Let us then, men and brethren, with all energy act the part of soldiers, in accordance with His holy commandments. Let us consider those who serve under our generals, with what order, obedience,14 and submissiveness they perform the things which are commanded them. All are not prefects, nor commanders of a thousand, nor of a hundred, nor of fifty, nor the like, but each one in his own rank performs the things commanded by the king and the generals. The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage.15 Let us take our body for an example.16 The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. But all work17 harmoniously together, and are under one common rule18 for the preservation of the whole body.
LET THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH SUBMIT THEMSELVES, AND NO ONE EXALT HIMSELF ABOVE ANOTHER.
Let our whole body, then, be preserved in Christ Jesus;19 and let every one be subject to his neighbour, according to the special gift20 bestowed upon him. Let the strong not despise21 the weak, and let the weak show respect unto the strong. Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because He hath given him one by whom his need may be supplied. Let the wise man display his wisdom, not by [mere] words, but through good deeds. Let the humble not bear testimony to himself, but leave witness to be borne to him by another.22 Let him that is pure in the flesh not grow proud23 of it, and boast, knowing that it was another who bestowed on him the gift of continence. Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were made,—who and what manner of beings we came into the world, as it were out of a sepulchre, and from utter darkness.24 He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into His world. Since, therefore, we receive all these things from Him, we ought for everything to give Him thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
THERE IS NO REASON FOR SELF-CONCEIT.
Foolish and inconsiderate1 men, who have neither wisdom2 nor instruction, mock and deride us, being eager to exalt themselves in their own conceits. For what can a mortal man do, or what strength is there in one made out of the dust? For it is written, “There was no shape before mine eyes, only I heard a sound,3 and a voice [saying], What then? Shall a man be pure before the Lord? Or shall such an one be [counted] blameless in his deeds, seeing He does not confide in His servants, and has charged4 even His angels with perversity? The heaven is not clean in His sight: how much less they that dwell in houses of clay, of which also we ourselves were made! He smote them as a moth; and from morning even until evening they endure not. Because they could furnish no assistance to themselves, they perished. He breathed upon them, and they died, because they had no wisdom. But call now, if any one will answer thee, or if thou wilt look to any of the holy angels; for wrath destroys the foolish man, and envy killeth him that is in error. I have seen the foolish taking root, but their habitation was presently consumed. Let their sons be far from safety; let them be despised5 before the gates of those less than themselves, and there shall be none to deliver. For what was prepared for them, the righteous shall eat; and they shall not be delivered from evil.”6
LET US PRESERVE IN THE CHURCH THE ORDER APPOINTED BY GOD.
These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times.7 He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him.8 Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.
CONTINUATION OF THE SAME SUBJECT.
Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks9 to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. Ye see,10 brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.
THE ORDER OF MINISTERS IN THE CHURCH.
The apostles have preached the gospel to us from11 the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus12 Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God,13 and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments,14 then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established15 in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit,16 to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture in a certain place, “I will appoint their bishops1 in righteousness, and their deacons2 in faith.”3
MOSES OF OLD STILLED THE CONTENTION WHICH AROSE CONCERNING THE PRIESTLY DIGNITY.
And what wonder is it if those in Christ who were entrusted with such a duty by God, appointed those [ministers] before mentioned, when the blessed Moses also, “a faithful servant in all his house,”4 noted down in the sacred books all the injunctions which were given him, and when the other prophets also followed him, bearing witness with one consent to the ordinances which he had appointed? For, when rivalry arose concerning the priesthood, and the tribes were contending among themselves as to which of them should be adorned with that glorious title, he commanded the twelve princes of the tribes to bring him their rods, each one being inscribed with the name5 of the tribe. And he took them and bound them [together], and sealed them with the rings of the princes of the tribes, and laid them up in the tabernacle of witness on the table of God. And having shut the doors of the tabernacle, he sealed the keys, as he had done the rods, and said to them, Men and brethren, the tribe whose rod shall blossom has God chosen to fulfil the office of the priesthood, and to minister unto Him. And when the morning was come, he assembled all Israel, six hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the princes of the tribes, and opened the tabernacle of witness, and brought forth the rods. And the rod of Aaron was found not only to have blossomed, but to bear fruit upon it.6 What think ye, beloved? Did not Moses know beforehand that this would happen? Undoubtedly he knew; but he acted thus, that there might be no sedition in Israel, and that the name of the true and only God might be glorified; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
THE ORDINANCES OF THE APOSTLES, THAT THERE MIGHT BE NO CONTENTION RESPECTING THE PRIESTLY OFFICE.
Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office7 of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions,8 that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them,9 or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate10 those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties.11 Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that ye have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.
IT IS THE PART OF THE WICKED TO VEX THE RIGHTEOUS.
Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe12 that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them. There13 you will not find that the righteous were cast off by men who themselves were holy. The righteous were indeed persecuted, but only by the wicked. They were cast into prison, but only by the unholy; they were stoned, but only by transgressors; they were slain, but only by the accursed, and such as had conceived an unrighteous envy against them. Exposed to such sufferings, they endured them gloriously. For what shall we say, brethren? Was Daniel14 cast into the den of lions by such as feared God? Were Ananias, and Azarias, and Mishael shut up in a furnace1 of fire by those who observed2 the great and glorious worship of the Most High? Far from us be such a thought! Who, then, were they that did such things? The hateful, and those full of all wickedness, were roused to such a pitch of fury, that they inflicted torture on those who served God with a holy and blameless purpose [of heart], not knowing that the Most High is the Defender and Protector of all such as with a pure conscience venerate3 His all-excellent name; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. But they who with confidence endured [these things] are now heirs of glory and honour, and have been exalted and made illustrious4 by God in their memorial for ever and ever. Amen.
LET US CLEAVE TO THE RIGHTEOUS: YOUR STRIFE IS PERNICIOUS.
Such examples, therefore, brethren, it is right that we should follow;5 since it is written, “Cleave to the holy, for those that cleave to them shall [themselves] be made holy.”6 And again, in another place, [the Scripture] saith, “With a harmless man thou shalt prove7 thyself harmless, and with an elect man thou shalt be elect, and with a perverse man thou shalt show8 thyself perverse.”9 Let us cleave, therefore, to the innocent and righteous, since these are the elect of God. Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars10 among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ?11 Why do we divide and tear in pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that “we are members one of another?”12 Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how13 He said, “Woe to that man [by whom offences come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones.”14 Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continueth.
YOUR RECENT DISCORD IS WORSE THAN THE FORMER WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE TIMES OF PAUL.
Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the gospel first began to be preached?15 Truly, under the inspiration16 of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos,17 because even then parties18 had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession,19 that such a thing should be heard of as that the most stedfast and ancient church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected20 with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.
LET US RETURN TO THE PRACTICE OF BROTHERLY LOVE.
Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end21 to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully22 be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it.”1 Although, therefore, many gates have been set open, yet this gate of righteousness is that gate in Christ by which blessed are all they that have entered in and have directed their way in holiness and righteousness, doing all things without disorder. Let a man be faithful: let him be powerful in the utterance of knowledge; let him be wise in judging of words; let him be pure in all his deeds; yet the more he seems to be superior to others [in these respects], the more humble-minded ought he to be, and to seek the common good of all, and not merely his own advantage.
THE PRAISE OF LOVE.
Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins.2 Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things.3 There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony. By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well-pleasing to God. In love has the Lord taken us to Himself. On account of the love He bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls.
LET US PRAY TO BE THOUGHT WORTHY OF LOVE.
Ye see, beloved, how great and wonderful a thing is love, and that there is no declaring its perfection. Who is fit to be found in it, except such as God has vouchsafed to render so? Let us pray,4 therefore, and implore of His mercy, that we may live5 blameless in love, free from all human partialities for one above another. All the generations from Adam even unto this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest at the revelation6 of the kingdom of Christ.7 For it is written, “Enter into thy secret chambers for a little time, until my wrath and fury pass away; and I will remember a propitious8 day, and will raise you up out of your graves.”9 Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us. For it is written, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him, and in whose mouth there is no guile.10 This blessedness cometh upon those who have been chosen by God through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
LET THE PARTAKERS IN STRIFE ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR SINS.
Let us therefore implore forgiveness for all those transgressions which through any [suggestion] of the adversary we have committed. And those who have been the leaders of sedition and disagreement ought to have respect11 to the common hope. For such as live in fear and love would rather that they themselves than their neighbours should be involved in suffering. And they prefer to bear blame themselves, rather than that the concord which has been well and piously12 handed down to us should suffer. For it is better that a man should acknowledge his transgressions than that he should harden his heart, as the hearts of those were hardened who stirred up sedition against Moses the servant13 of God, and whose condemnation was made manifest [unto all]. For they went down alive into Hades, and death swallowed them up.14 Pharaoh with his army and all the princes of Egypt, and the chariots with their riders, were sunk in the depths of the Red Sea, and perished,15 for no other reason than that their foolish hearts were hardened, after so many signs and wonders had been wrought in the land of Egypt by Moses the servant of God.
SUCH A CONFESSION IS PLEASING TO GOD.
The Lord, brethren, stands in need of nothing; and He desires nothing of any one, except that confession be made to Him. For, says the elect David, “I will confess unto the Lord; and that will please Him more than a young bullock1 that hath horns and hoofs. Let the poor see it, and be glad.”2 And again he saith, “Offer3 unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows unto the Most High. And call upon me in the day of thy trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”4 For “the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.”5
THE LOVE OF MOSES TOWARDS HIS PEOPLE.
Ye understand, beloved, ye understand well the sacred Scriptures, and ye have looked very earnestly into the oracles of God. Call then these things to your remembrance. When Moses went up into the mount, and abode there, with fasting and humiliation, forty days and forty nights, the Lord said unto him, “Moses, Moses, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people whom thou didst bring out of the land of Egypt have committed iniquity. They have speedily departed from the way in which I commanded them to walk, and have made to themselves molten images.”6 And the Lord said unto him, “I have spoken to thee once and again, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: let me destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make thee a great and wonderful nation, and one much more numerous than this.”7 But Moses said, “Far be it from Thee, Lord: pardon the sin of this people; else blot me also out of the book of the living.”8 O marvellous9 love! O insuperable perfection! The servant10 speaks freely to his Lord, and asks forgiveness for the people, or begs that he himself might perish11 along with them.
HE WHO IS FULL OF LOVE WILL INCUR EVERY LOSS, THAT PEACE MAY BE RESTORED TO THE CHURCH.
Who then among you is noble-minded? who compassionate? who full of love? Let him declare, “If on my account sedition and disagreement and schisms have arisen, I will depart, I will go away whithersoever ye desire, and I will do whatever the majority12 commands; only let the flock of Christ live on terms of peace with the presbyters set over it.” He that acts thus shall procure to himself great glory in the Lord;13 and every place will welcome14 him. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.15 These things they who live a godly life that is never to be repented of, both have done and always will do.
EXAMPLES OF SUCH LOVE.
To bring forward some examples16 from among the heathen: Many kings and princes, in times of pestilence, when they had been instructed by an oracle, have given themselves up to death, in order that by their own blood they might deliver their fellow-citizens [from destruction]. Many have gone forth from their own cities, that so sedition might be brought to an end within them. We know many among ourselves who have given themselves up to bonds, in order that they might ransom others. Many, too, have surrendered themselves to slavery, that with the price17 which they received for themselves, they might provide food for others. Many women also, being strengthened by the grace of God, have performed numerous manly exploits. The blessed Judith, when her city was besieged, asked of the elders permission to go forth into the camp of the strangers; and, exposing herself to danger, she went out for the love which she bare to her country and people then besieged; and the Lord delivered Holofernes into the hands of a woman.18 Esther also, being perfect in faith, exposed herself to no less danger, in order to deliver the twelve tribes of Israel from impending destruction. For with fasting and humiliation she entreated the everlasting19 God, who seeth all things; and He, perceiving the humility of her spirit, delivered the people for whose sake she had encountered peril.20
LET US ADMONISH AND CORRECT ONE ANOTHER.
Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not unto us, but to the will of God. For in this way they shall secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints.1 Let us receive correction, beloved, on account of which no one should feel displeased. Those exhortations by which we admonish one another are both good [in themselves], and highly profitable, for they tend to unite2 us to the will of God. For thus saith the holy Word: “The Lord hath severely chastened me, yet hath not given me over to death.”3 “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”4 “The righteous,”5 saith it, “shall chasten me in mercy, and reprove me;” but let not the oil of sinners make fat my head.6 And again he saith, “Blessed is the man whom the Lord reproveth, and reject not thou the warning of the Almighty. For He causes sorrow, and again restores [to gladness]; He woundeth, and His hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea, in the seventh no evil shall touch thee. In famine He shall rescue thee from death, and in war He shall free thee from the power7 of the sword. From the scourge of the tongue will He hide thee, and thou shalt not fear when evil cometh. Thou shalt laugh at the unrighteous and the wicked, and shalt not be afraid of the beasts of the field. For the wild beasts shall be at peace with thee: then shalt thou know that thy house shall be in peace, and the habitation of thy tabernacle shall not fail.8 Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thy children like the grass of the field. And thou shalt come to the grave like ripened corn which is reaped in its season, or like a heap of the threshing-floor which is gathered together at the proper time.”9 Ye see, beloved, that10 “protection is afforded to those that are chastened of the Lord; for since God is good,11 He corrects us, that we may be admonished”12 by His holy chastisement.
LET THE AUTHORS OF SEDITION SUBMIT THEMSELVES.
Ye therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. Learn to be subject, laying aside the proud and arrogant self-confidence of your tongue. For it is better for you that ye should occupy13 a humble but honourable place in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, ye should be cast out from the hope of His people.14 For thus speaketh all-virtuous Wisdom: “Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of my Spirit, and I will teach you my speech. Since I called, and ye did not hear; I held forth my words, and ye regarded not, but set at naught my counsels, and yielded not at my reproofs; therefore I too will laugh at your destruction; yea, I will rejoice when ruin cometh upon you, and when sudden confusion overtakes you, when overturning presents itself like a tempest, or when tribulation and oppression15 fall upon you. For it shall come to pass, that when ye call upon me, I will not hear you; the wicked shall seek me, and they shall not find me. For they hated wisdom, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; nor would they listen to my counsels, but despised my reproofs. Wherefore they shall eat the fruits of their own way, and they shall be filled16 with their own ungodliness.17 . . . For, in punishment for the wrongs which they practised upon babes, shall they be slain, and inquiry will be death to the ungodly; but he that heareth me shall rest in hope and be undisturbed by the fear of any evil.”
SUBMISSION THE PRECURSOR OF SALVATION.
Let us, therefore, flee from the warning threats pronounced by Wisdom on the disobedient, and yield submission to His all-holy and glorious name, that we may stay our trust upon the most hallowed name of His majesty. Receive our counsel, and ye shall be without repentance. For, as God liveth, and as the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost live,—both the faith and hope of the elect, he who in lowliness of mind, with instant gentleness, and without repentance hath observed the ordinances and appointments given by God—the same shall obtain a place and name in the number of those who are being saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is glory to Him for ever and ever. Amen.
WARNING AGAINST DISOBEDIENCE. PRAYER.
If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; but we shall be innocent of this sin, and, instant in prayer and supplication, shall desire that the Creator of all preserve unbroken the computed number of His elect in the whole world through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, through whom He called us from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge of the glory of His name, our hope resting on Thy name which is primal cause of every creature,—having opened the eyes of our heart to the knowledge of Thee, who alone “dost rest highest among the highest, holy among the holy,”1 who “layest low the insolence of the haughty,”2 who “destroyest the calculations of the heathen,”3 who “settest the low on high and bringest low the exalted;”4 who “makest rich and makest poor,”5 who “killest and makest’to live,”6 only Benefactor of spirits and God of all flesh,7 who beholdest the depths, the eye-witness of human works, the help of those in danger, the Saviour of those in despair, the Creator and Guardian of every spirit, who multipliest nations upon earth, and from all madest choice of those who love Thee through Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom Thou didst instruct, sanctify, honour us. We would have Thee, Lord, to prove our help and succour. Those of us in affliction save, on the lowly take pity; the fallen raise; upon those in need arise; the sick8 heal; the wandering ones of Thy people turn; fill the hungry; redeem those of us in bonds; raise up those that are weak; comfort the faint-hearted; let all the nations know that Thou art God alone and Jesus Christ Thy Son, and we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture.
Thou didst make to appear the enduring fabric of the world by the works of Thy hand; Thou, Lord, didst create the earth on which we dwell,—Thou, who art faithful in all generations, just in judgments, wonderful in strength and majesty, with wisdom creating and with understanding fixing the things which were made, who art good among them that are being saved9 and faithful among them whose trust is in Thee; O merciful and Compassionate One, forgive us our iniquities and offences and transgressions and trespasses. Reckon not every sin of Thy servants and handmaids, but Thou wilt purify us with the purification of Thy truth; and direct our steps that we may walk in holiness of heart and do what is good and well-pleasing in Thy sight and in the sight of our rulers. Yea, Lord, make Thy face to shine upon us for good in peace, that we may be shielded by Thy mighty hand and delivered from every sin by Thine uplifted arm, and deliver us from those who hate us wrongfully. Give concord and peace to us and all who dwell upon the earth, even as Thou gavest to our fathers, when they called upon Thee in faith and truth, submissive as we are to Thine almighty and all-excellent Name.
PRAYER CONTINUED—FOR RULERS AND GOVERNORS. CONCLUSION.
To our rulers and governors on the earth—to them Thou, Lord, gavest the power of the kingdom by Thy glorious and ineffable might, to the end that we may know the glory and honour given to them by Thee and be subject to them, in nought resisting Thy will; to them, Lord, give health, peace, concord, stability, that they may exercise the authority given to them without offence. For Thou, O heavenly Lord and King eternal, givest to the sons of men glory and honour and power over the things that are on the earth; do Thou, Lord, direct their counsel according to that which is good and well-pleasing in Thy sight, that, devoutly in peace and meekness exercising the power given them by Thee, they may find Thee propitious. O Thou, who only hast power to do these things and more abundant good with us, we praise Thee through the High Priest and Guardian of our souls Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and majesty to Thee both now and from generation to generation and for evermore. Amen.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSORY—CONCERNING GODLINESS.
Concerning the things pertaining to our religious observance which are most profitable for a life of goodness to those who would pursue a godly and righteous course, we have written to you, men and brethren, at sufficient length. For concerning faith and repentance and true love and continence and soberness and patience, we have touched upon every passage, putting you in mind that you ought in righteousness and truth and long-suffering to be well-pleasing1 to Almighty God with holiness, being of one mind—not remembering evil—in love and peace with instant gentleness, even as also our fathers fore-mentioned found favour by the humility of their thoughts towards the Father and God and Creator and all mankind. And of these things we put you in mind with the greater pleasure, since we were well assured that we were writing to men who were faithful and of highest repute and had peered into the oracles of the instruction of God.
HORTATORY, LETTER SENT BY SPECIAL MESSENGERS.
Right is it, therefore, to approach examples so good and so many, and submit the neck and fulfil the part of obedience, in order that, undisturbed by vain sedition, we may attain unto the goal set before us in truth wholly free from blame. Joy and gladness will ye afford us, if ye become obedient to the words written by us and through the Holy Spirit root out the lawless wrath of your jealousy according to the intercession which we have made for peace and unity in this letter. We have sent men faithful and discreet, whose conversation from youth to old age has been blameless amongst us,—the same shall be witnesses between you and us. This we have done, that ye may know that our whole concern has been and is that ye may be speedily at peace.
BLESSINGS SOUGHT FOR ALL THAT CALL UPON GOD.
May God, who seeth all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh—who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar2 people—grant to every soul that calleth upon His glorious and holy name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen.
THE CORINTHIANS ARE EXHORTED SPEEDILY TO SEND BACK WORD THAT PEACE HAS BEEN RESTORED. THE BENEDICTION.
Send back speedily to us in peace and with joy these our messengers to you: Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, with Fortunatus; that they may the sooner announce to us the peace and harmony we so earnestly desire and long for [among you], and that we may the more quickly rejoice over the good order re-established among you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and with all everywhere that are the called of God through Him, by whom be to Him glory, honour, power, majesty, and eternal dominion,3 from everlasting to everlasting.4 Amen.
[From Vol. VII., p. 515 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.]
The first certain reference which is made by any early writer to this so-called Epistle of Clement is found in these words of Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 38): “We must know that there is also a second Epistle of Clement. But we do not regard it as being equally notable with the former, since we know of none of the ancients that have made use of it.” Several critics in modern times have endeavoured to vindicate the authenticity of this epistle. But it is now generally regarded as one of the many writings which have been falsely ascribed to Clement. Besides the want of external evidence, indicated even by Eusebius in the above extract, the diversity of style clearly points to a different writer from that of the first epistle. A commonly accepted opinion among critics at the present day is, that this is not an epistle at all, but a fragment of one of the many homilies falsely ascribed to Clement. There can be no doubt, however, that in the catalogue of writings contained in the Alexandrian ms. it is both styled an epistle, and, as well as the other which accompanies it, is attributed to Clement. As the ms. is certainly not later than the fifth century, the opinion referred to must by that time have taken firm root in the Church; but in the face of internal evidence, and in want of all earlier testimony, such a fact goes but a small way to establish its authenticity.
The second epistle differs from the first in several respects. The range of Scriptural quotation is wider, the quotations of the first epistle being taken mainly from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. The attitude of the writer is in accordance with this fact; it is distinctively Gentile. For example, Chapter XII. contains a report of words purporting to have been spoken by the Lord; these, Clemens Alexandrinus states, are taken from the Apocryphal Gospel according to the Egyptians, not now extant. The reference in Chapter XIV. to the spiritual church, recalling Eph. i. 3-5, is parallel to the Pastor of Hermas, Vision II. 4. These passages help to determine the date; for the quotation from the Apocryphal Gospel would not have been made after the four gospels of the New Testament obtained exclusive authority—toward the close of the second century; while similarity of idea and exposition would seem to make the second epistle and the Pastor of Hermas somewhat contemporaneous.
The conclusion of the second epistle, as in the recently discovered ms., goes to establish the speculation made before this ms. was discovered, that it is a homily to be read in churches.
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF CLEMENT.1
WE OUGHT TO THINK HIGHLY OF CHRIST.
Brethren, it is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God,—as the Judge of the living and the dead. And it does not become us to think lightly of our salvation; for if we think little of Him, we shall also hope but to obtain little [from Him]. And those of us who hear carelessly of these things, as if they were of small importance, commit sin, not knowing whence we have been called, and by whom, and to what place, and how much Jesus Christ submitted to suffer for our sakes. What return, then, shall we make to Him, or what fruit that shall be worthy of that which He has given to us? For, indeed, how great are the benefits2 which we owe to Him! He has graciously given us light; as a Father, He has called us sons; He has saved us when we were ready to perish. What praise, then, shall we give to Him, or what return shall we make for the things which we have received?3 We were deficient4 in understanding, worshipping stones and wood, and gold, and silver, and brass, the works of men’s hands;5 and our whole life was nothing else than death. Involved in blindness, and with such darkness6 before our eyes, we have received sight, and through His will have laid aside that cloud by which we were enveloped. For He had compassion on us, and mercifully saved us, observing the many errors in which we were entangled, as well as the destruction to which we were exposed,7 and that we had no hope of salvation except it came to us from Him. For He called us when we were not,8 and willed that out of nothing we should attain a real existence.9
THE CHURCH, FORMERLY BARREN, IS NOW FRUITFUL.
“Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for she that is desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband.”10 In that He said, “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not,” He referred to us, for our church was barren before that children were given to her. But when He said, “Cry out, thou that travailest not,” He means this, that we should sincerely offer up our prayers to God, and should not, like women in travail, show signs of weakness.11 And in that He said, “For she that is desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband,” [He means] that our people seemed to be outcast from God, but now, through believing, have become more numerous than those who are reckoned to possess God.12 And another Scripture saith, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”13 This means that those who are perishing must be saved. For it is indeed a great and admirable thing to establish not the things which are standing, but those that are falling. Thus also did Christ14 desire to save the things which were perishing,15 and has saved many by coming and calling us when hastening to destruction.16
THE DUTY OF CONFESSING CHRIST.
Since, then, He has displayed so great mercy towards us, and especially in this respect, that we who are living should not offer sacrifices to gods that are dead, or pay them worship,17 but should attain through Him to the knowledge of the true Father,1 whereby shall we show that we do indeed know Him,2 but by not denying Him through whom this knowledge has been attained? For He himself declares, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father.”3 This, then, is our reward if we shall confess Him by whom we have been saved. But in what way shall we confess Him? By doing what He says, and not transgressing His commandments, and by honouring Him not with our lips only, but with all our heart and all our mind.4 For He says in Isaiah, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”5
TRUE CONFESSION OF CHRIST.
Let us, then, not only call Him Lord, for that will not save us. For He saith, “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that worketh righteousness.”6 Wherefore, brethren, let us confess Him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good. We ought also to sympathize with one another, and not be avaricious. By such works let us confess Him,7 and not by those that are of an opposite kind. And it is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather God. For this reason, if we should do such [wicked] things, the Lord hath said, “Even though ye were gathered together to8 me in my very bosom, yet if ye were not to keep my commandments, I would cast you off, and say unto you, Depart from me; I know you not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity.”9
THIS WORLD SHOULD BE DESPISED.
Wherefore, brethren, leaving [willingly] our sojourn in this present world, let us do the will of Him that called us, and not fear to depart out of this world. For the Lord saith, “Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves.”10 And Peter answered and said unto Him,11 “What, then, if the wolves shall tear in pieces the lambs?” Jesus said unto Peter, “The lambs have no cause after they are dead to fear12 the wolves; and in like manner, fear not ye them that kill you, and can do nothing more unto you; but fear Him who, after you are dead, has power over both soul and body to cast them into hell-fire.”13 And consider,14 brethren, that the sojourning in the flesh in this world is but brief and transient, but the promise of Christ is great and wonderful, even the rest of the kingdom to come, and of life everlasting.15 By what course of conduct, then, shall we attain these things, but by leading a holy and righteous life, and by deeming these worldly things as not belonging to us, and not fixing our desires upon them? For if we desire to possess them, we fall away from the path of righteousness.
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE WORLDS ARE ENEMIES TO EACH OTHER.
Now the Lord declares, “No servant can serve two masters.”16 If we desire, then, to serve both God and mammon, it will be unprofitable for us. “For what will it profit if a man gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”17 This world and the next are two enemies. The one urges18 to adultery and corruption, avarice and deceit; the other bids farewell to these things. We cannot, therefore, be the friends of both; and it behoves us, by renouncing the one, to make sure19 of the other. Let us reckon20 that it is better to hate the things present, since they are trifling, and transient, and corruptible; and to love those [which are to come,] as being good and incorruptible. For if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; otherwise, nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we disobey His commandments. For thus also saith the Scripture in Ezekiel, “If Noah, Job, and Daniel should rise up, they should not deliver their children in captivity.”21 Now, if men so eminently righteous are not able by their righteousness to deliver their children, how22 can we hope to enter into the royal residence23 of God unless we keep our baptism holy and undefiled? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found possessed of works of holiness and righteousness?
WE MUST STRIVE IN ORDER TO BE CROWNED.
Wherefore, then, my brethren, let us struggle with all earnestness, knowing that the contest is [in our case] close at hand, and that many undertake long voyages to strive for a corruptible reward;1 yet all are not crowned, but those only that have laboured hard and striven gloriously. Let us therefore so strive, that we may all be crowned. Let us run the straight2 course, even the race that is incorruptible; and let us in great numbers set out3 for it, and strive that we may be crowned. And should we not all be able to obtain the crown, let us at least come near to it. We must remember4 that he who strives in the corruptible contest, if he be found acting unfairly,5 is taken away and scourged, and cast forth from the lists. What then think ye? If one does anything unseemly in the incorruptible contest, what shall he have to bear? For of those who do not preserve the seal6 [unbroken], [the Scripture] saith, “Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh.”7
THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE WHILE WE ARE ON EARTH.
As long, therefore, as we are upon earth, let us practise repentance, for we are as clay in the hand of the artificer. For as the potter, if he make a vessel, and it be distorted or broken in his hands, fashions it over again; but if he have before this cast it into the furnace of fire, can no longer find any help for it: so let us also, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil deeds we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet an opportunity of repentance. For after we have gone out of the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will there belong to us. Wherefore, brethren, by doing the will of the Father, and keeping the flesh holy, and observing the commandments of the Lord, we shall obtain eternal life. For the Lord saith in the Gospel, “If ye have not kept that which was small, who will commit to you the great? For I say unto you, that he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.”8 This, then, is what He means: “Keep the flesh holy and the seal undefiled, that9 ye may receive eternal life.”10
WE SHALL BE JUDGED IN THE FLESH.
And let no one of you say that this very flesh shall not be judged, nor rise again. Consider ye in what [state] ye were saved, in what ye received sight,11 if not while ye were in this flesh. We must therefore preserve the flesh as the temple of God. For as ye were called in the flesh, ye shall also come [to be judged] in the flesh. As Christ12 the Lord who saved us, though He was first a Spirit13 became flesh, and thus called us, so shall we also receive the reward in this flesh. Let us therefore love one another, that we may all attain to the kingdom of God. While we have an opportunity of being healed, let us yield ourselves to God that healeth us, and give to Him a recompense. Of what sort? Repentance out of a sincere heart; for He knows all things beforehand, and is acquainted with what is in our hearts. Let us therefore give Him praise, not with the mouth only, but also with the heart, that He may accept us as sons. For the Lord has said, “Those are my brethren who do the will of my Father.”14
VICE IS TO BE FORSAKEN, AND VIRTUE FOLLOWED.
Wherefore, my brethren, let us do the will of the Father who called us, that we may live; and let us earnestly15 follow after virtue, but forsake every wicked tendency16 which would lead us into transgression; and flee from ungodliness, lest evils overtake us. For if we are diligent in doing good, peace will follow us. On this account, such men cannot find it [i.e. peace] as are17 influenced by human terrors, and prefer rather present enjoyment1 to the promise which shall afterwards be fulfilled. For they know not what torment present enjoyment incurs, or what felicity is involved in the future promise. And if, indeed, they themselves only did such things, it would be [the more] tolerable; but now they persist in imbuing innocent souls with their pernicious doctrines, not knowing that they shall receive a double condemnation, both they and those that hear them.
WE OUGHT TO SERVE GOD, TRUSTING IN HIS PROMISES.
Let us therefore serve God with a pure heart, and we shall be righteous; but if we do not serve Him, because we believe not the promise of God, we shall be miserable. For the prophetic word also declares, “Wretched are those of a double mind, and who doubt in their heart, who say, All these things2 have we heard even in the times of our fathers; but though we have waited day by day, we have seen none of them [accomplished]. Ye fools! compare yourselves to a tree; take, for instance, the vine. First of all it sheds its leaves, then the bud appears; after that the sour grape, and then the fully-ripened fruit. So, likewise, my people have borne disturbances and afflictions, but afterwards shall they receive their good things.”3 Wherefore, my brethren, let us not be of a double mind, but let us hope and endure, that we also may obtain the reward. For He is faithful who has promised that He will bestow on every one a reward according to his works. If, therefore, we shall do righteousness in the sight of God, we shall enter into His kingdom, and shall receive the promises, which “ear hath not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man.”4
WE ARE CONSTANTLY TO LOOK FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God. For the Lord Himself, being asked by one when His kingdom would come, replied, “When two shall be one, that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.”5 Now, two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is unfeignedly one soul in two bodies. And “that which is without as” that which is within meaneth this: He calls the soul “that which is within,” and the body “that which is without.” As, then, thy body is visible to sight, so also let thy soul be manifest by good works. And “the male with the female, neither male nor female,” this6 He saith, that brother seeing sister may have no thought concerning her as female, and that she may have no thought concerning him as male. “If ye do these things,” saith He, “the kingdom of my Father shall come.”7
GOD’S NAME NOT TO BE BLASPHEMED.
Brethren, then, let us now at length repent, let us soberly turn to that which is good; for we are full of abundant folly and wickedness. Let us wipe out from us our former sins, and repenting from the heart be saved; and let us not be men-pleasers, nor be willing to please one another only, but also the men without, for righteousness’ sake, that the name may not be, because of us, blasphemed. For the Lord saith, “Continually my name is blasphemed among all nations,” and “Wherefore my name is blasphemed; blasphemed in what? In your not doing the things which I wish.”8 For the nations, hearing from our mouth the oracles of God, marvel at their excellence and worth; thereafter learning that our deeds are not worthy of the words which we speak,—receiving this occasion they turn to blasphemy, saying that they are a fable and a delusion. For, whenever they hear from us that God saith, “No thank have ye, if ye love them which love you, but ye have thank, if ye love your enemies and them which hate you”9 —whenever they hear these words, they marvel at the surpassing measure of their goodness; but when they see, that not only do we not love those who hate, but that we love not even those who love, they laugh us to scorn, and the name is blasphemed.
THE CHURCH SPIRITUAL.
So, then, brethren, if we do the will of our Father God, we shall be members of the first church, the spiritual,—that which was created before sun and moon; but if we shall not do the will of the Lord, we shall come under the Scripture which saith, “My house became a den of robbers.”10 So, then, let us elect to belong to the church of life,1 that we may be saved. I think not that ye are ignorant that the living church is the body of Christ (for the Scripture saith, “God created man, male and female;”2 the male is Christ, the female the church,) and that the Books3 and the Apostles teach that the church is not of the present, but from the beginning. For it was spiritual, as was also our Jesus, and was made manifest at the end of the days in order to save you.4 The church being spiritual, was made manifest in the flesh of Christ, signifying to us that if any one of us shall preserve it in the flesh and corrupt it not, he shall receive it in the Holy Spirit. For this flesh is the type of the spirit; no one, therefore, having corrupted the type, will receive afterwards the antitype. Therefore is it, then, that He saith, brethren, “Preserve ye the flesh, that ye may become partakers of the spirit.” If we say that the flesh is the church and the spirit Christ, then it follows that he who shall offer outrage to the flesh is guilty of outrage on the church. Such an one, therefore, will not partake of the spirit, which is Christ. Such is the life and immortality, which this flesh may afterwards receive, the Holy Spirit cleaving to it; and no one can either express or utter what things the Lord hath prepared for His elect.5
HE WHO SAVES AND HE WHO IS SAVED.
I think not that I counted trivial counsel concerning continence; following it, a man will not repent thereof, but will save both himself and me who counselled.6 For it is no small reward to turn back a wandering and perishing soul for its salvation.7 For this recompense we are able to render to the God who created us, if he who speaks and hears both speak and hear with faith and love. Let us, therefore, continue in that course in which we, righteous and holy, believed, that with confidence we may ask God who saith, “Thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am.”8 For these words are a token of a great promise, for the Lord saith that He is more ready to give than he who asks. So great, then, being the goodness of which we are partakers, let us not grudge one another the attainment of so great blessings. For in proportion to the pleasure with which these words are fraught to those who shall follow them, in that proportion is the condemnation with which they are fraught to those who shall refuse to hear.
PREPARATION FOR THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
So, then, brethren, having received no small occasion to repent, while we have opportunity, let us turn to God who called us, while yet we have One to receive us. For if we renounce these indulgences and conquer the soul by not fulfilling its wicked desires, we shall be partakers of the mercy of Jesus. Know ye that the day9 of judgment draweth nigh like a burning oven, and certain of the heavens and all the earth will melt, like lead melting in fire; and then will appear the hidden and manifest deeds of men. Good, then, is alms as repentance from sin; better is fasting than prayer, and alms than both; “charity covereth a multitude of sins,”10 and prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is every one that shall be found complete in these; for alms lightens the burden of sin.
SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Let us, then, repent with our whole heart, that no one of us may perish amiss. For if we have commands and engage in withdrawing from idols and instructing others, how much more ought a soul already knowing God not to perish. Rendering, therefore, mutual help, let us raise the weak also in that which is good, that all of us may be saved and convert one another and admonish. And not only now let us seem to believe and give heed, when we are admonished by the elders;11 but also when we take our departure home, let us remember the commandments of the Lord, and not be allured back by worldly lusts, but let us often and often draw near and try to make progress in the Lord’s commands, that we all having the same mind may be gathered together for life. For the Lord said, “I come to gather all nations [kindreds] and tongues.”12 This means the day of His appearing, when He will come and redeem us—each one according to his works. And the unbelievers will see His glory and might, and, when they see the empire of the world in Jesus, they will be surprised, saying, “Woe to us, because Thou wast, and we knew not and believed not and obeyed not the elders13 who show us plainly of our salvation.” For “their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle unto all flesh.”1 It is of the great day of judgment He speaks, when they shall see those among us who were guilty of ungodliness and erred in their estimate of the commands of Jesus Christ. The righteous, having succeeded both in enduring the trials and hating the indulgences of the soul, whenever they witness how those who have swerved and denied Jesus by words or deeds are punished with grievous torments in fire unquenchable, will give glory to their God and say, “There will be hope for him who has served God with his whole heart.”
THE AUTHOR SINFUL, YET PURSUING.
And let us, then, be of the number of those who give thanks, who have served God, and not of the ungodly who are judged. For I myself, though a sinner every whit and not yet fleeing temptation but continuing in the midst of the tools of the devil, study to follow after righteousness, that I may make, be it only some, approach to it, fearing the judgment to come.
REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS, ALTHOUGH THEY MAY SUFFER.
So then, brothers and sisters,2 after the God of truth3 I address to you a homily that ye may give heed to the words written,4 that ye may save both yourselves and him who reads an address in your midst. For the reward I ask of you is repentance with the whole heart, while ye bestow upon yourselves salvation and life. For by so doing we shall set a mark for all the young who wish to be diligent in godliness and the goodness of God. And let those of us, who are unwise, not feel displeasure and indignation, whenever any one admonishes us and turns us from unrighteousness to righteousness. For there are some wicked deeds which we commit, and know it not, because of the double-mindedness and unbelief present in our breasts, and our understanding is darkened by vain desires. Let us, therefore, work righteousness, that we may be saved at last. Blessed are they who obey these commandments, even if for a brief space they suffer in this world, and they will gather the imperishable fruit of the resurrection. Let not the godly man, therefore, grieve; if for the present he suffer affliction, blessed is the time that awaits him there; rising up to life again with the fathers he will rejoice for ever without a grief.
GODLINESS, NOT GAIN, THE TRUE RICHES.
But let it not even trouble your mind, that we see the unrighteous possessed of riches and the servants of God straitened. Let us, therefore, brothers and sisters, believe; in a trial of the living God we strive and are exercised in the present life, that we may obtain the crown in that which is to come. No one of the righteous received fruit speedily, but waiteth for it. For if God tendered the reward of the righteous in a trice, straightway were it commerce that we practised, and not godliness. For it were as if we were righteous by following after not godliness but gain; and for this reason the divine judgment baffled the spirit that is unrighteous and heavily weighed the fetter.
To the only God, invisible, Father of truth, who sent forth to us the Saviour and Author of immortality, through whom He also manifested to us the truth and the heavenly life, to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
THE APOLOGY OF ARISTIDES THE PHILOSOPHER
Translated from the Greek and from the Syriac VersioninParallel Columns.
The Church Histories, hitherto in dealing with early Christian literature, have given Aristides along with Quadratus the first place in the list of lost apologists. It was known that there had been such early defenders of the faith, and that Quadratus had seen persons who had been miraculously healed by Christ; but beyond this little more could be said. To Justin Martyr, who flourished about ad 150, belonged the honour of heading the series of apologists whose works are extant, viz., Tatian, Melito, Athenagoras, Theophilus, the author of the Epistle to Diognetus, who all belonged to the second century and wrote in Greek; and Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Arnobius, and Lactantius, who wrote in Latin, and Clement and Origen who wrote in Greek, during the third century. While Christianity was winning its way to recognition in the Roman empire, these writers tried to disprove the gross calumnies current about Christians, to enlighten rulers and magistrates as to the real character and conduct of the adherents of the new religion, and to remove the prejudice which led to the violent persecutions of the populace. They also endeavoured to commend Christianity to “the cultured among its despisers,” by showing that it is philosophy as well as revelation, that it can supply the answers sought by philosophy, and is unlike human wisdom in being certain because divinely revealed. At the same time they demonstrated the folly of polytheism and pointed out its disastrous effects on morality. This faithful company of the defenders of the faith has now regained Aristides as their leader in place of Justin Martyr. It will be well to recount briefly what was previously known about Aristides, and to tell how the lost Apology has been found.
Eusebius, in his History of the Church, written during the reign of Constantine, ad 306-337, has a chapter (bk. iv., c. 3) headed “The authors that wrote in defence of the faith in the reign of Hadrian, ad 117-138.” After describing and quoting the Apology of Quadratus, he adds:
“Aristides also, a man faithfully devoted to the religion we profess, like Quadratus, has left to posterity a defence of the faith, addressed to Hadrian. This work is also preserved by a great number, even to the present day.”
The same Eusebius in his Chronicon states that the Emperor Hadrian visited Athens in the eighth year of his reign (i.e., ad 125) and took part in the Eleusinian mysteries. In the same connection the historian mentions the presentation of Apologies to the Emperor by Quadratus and Aristides, “an Athenian philosopher;” and implies that Hadrian was induced by these appeals, coupled with a letter from Serenius Granianus, proconsul of Asia, to issue an Imperial rescript forbidding the punishment of Christians without careful investigation and trial.
About a century later Jerome (died ad 420) tells us that Aristides was a philosopher of Athens, that he retained his philosopher’s garb after his conversion to Christianity, and that he presented a defence of the faith to Hadrian at the same time as Quadratus. This Apology, he says, was extant in his day, and was largely composed of the opinions of philosophers (“contextum philosophorum sententiis”), and was afterwards imitated by Justin Martyr.
After this date Aristides passes out of view. In the mediæval martyrologies there is a faint reflection of the earlier testimony, as, e.g., the 31st of August is given as the saint’s day “of the blessed Aristides, most renowned for faith and wisdom, who presented books on the Christian religion to the prince Hadrian, and most brilliantly proclaimed in the presence of the Emperor himself how that Christ Jesus is the only God.”
In the seventeenth century there were rumours that the missing Apology of Aristides was to be found in various monastic libraries in Greece; and Spon, a French traveller, made a fruitless search for it. The book had apparently disappeared for ever.
But in recent times Aristides has again “swum into our ken.” Armenian literature, which has done service to Christendom by preserving so many of its early documents, supplied also the first news of the recovery of Aristides. In the Mechitarite convent of S. Lazarus at Venice there is a body of Armenian monks who study Armenian and other literature. In 1878 these Armenians surprised the learned world by publishing a Latin translation of an Armenian fragment (the first two chapters) of the lost Apology of Aristides. Renan at once set it down as spurious because it contained theological terms of a later age, e.g., “bearer of God” applied to the Virgin Mary. These terms were afterwards seen to be due to the translator. At what time the translation from Greek into Armenian was made is not apparent; but it may reasonably be connected with the work begun by the famous Armenian patriarch Mesrobes. This noble Christian invented an alphabet for his country, established schools, and sent a band of young Armenians to Edessa, Athens, and elsewhere with instructions to translate into Armenian the best sacred and classical books. And in spite of Mohammedans and Turks Armenia has remained Christian, and now restores to the world the treasures committed to its keeping in the early centuries.
Opinions as to the Armenian fragment of Aristides remained undecided till 1889. In the spring of that year Professor J. Rendel Harris, of Cambridge, had the honour of discovering a Syriac version of the whole Apology in the library of the Convent of St. Catharine, on Mount Sinai. He found the Apology of Aristides among a collection of Syriac treatises of an ethical character; and he refers the MS. to the seventh century. Professor Harris has translated the Syriac into English, and has carefully edited the Syriac text with minute discussions of every point of interest.1
The recovery of the Syriac version by Professor Harris placed the genuineness of the Armenian fragment beyond question. It also led to the strange reappearance of the greater part of the original Greek. Professor J. A. Robinson, the general editor of the Cambridge Texts and Studies, having read the translation of the Syriac version, discovered that the Apology of Aristides is incorporated in the early Christian Romance entitled, The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat.
Some account must be given of this remarkable book in order to show its connection with the Apology of Aristides. Its author is said to be John of Damascus, who died about ad 760. Whoever wrote it, the book soon became very popular. In the East it was translated into Arabic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Hebrew; in the West there are versions of it in nearly a dozen languages, including an English metrical rendering. As early as 1204 a king of Norway had it translated into Icelandic. It is now known to be the story of Buddha in a Christian setting, furnished with fables and parables which have migrated from the far East and can be traced back to an extreme antiquity.
The outline of the story is as follows: A king in India, Abenner by name, who is an enemy of the Christians, has an only son Josaphat (or Joasaph). At his birth the astrologers predict that he will become great, but will embrace the new doctrine. To prevent this, his father surrounds the prince with young and beautiful attendants, and takes care that Josaphat shall see nothing of illness, old age, or death. At length Josaphat desires his freedom, and then follow the excursions as in the case of Buddha. Josaphat seeing so much misery possible in life is sunk in despair. In this state he is visited by a Christian hermit—Barlaam by name. Josaphat is converted to Christianity, and Barlaam withdraws again to the desert.
To undo his son’s conversion the king arranges that a public disputation shall be held; one of the king’s sages, Nachor by name, is to personate Barlaam and to make a very weak statement of the Christian case, and so be easily refuted by the court orators. When the day comes, the prince Josaphat charges Nachor, the fictitious monk, to do his best on pain of torture. Thus stimulated, Nachor begins, and “like Balaam’s ass he spake that which he had not purposed to speak; and he said, ‘I, O king, in the providence of God,’ etc.” He then recites the Apology of Aristides to such purpose that he converts himself, the king, and all his people. Josaphat finally relinquishes his kingdom, and retires into the desert with the genuine Barlaam for prayer and meditation. Not only so, but the churches of the Middle Ages, forgetting the fabulous character of the story, raised Barlaam and Josaphat to the rank of saints, with a holy day in the Christian calendar. Thus the author of Barlaam and Josaphat caused Christianity unwittingly to do honour to the founder of Buddhism under the name of St. Josaphat; and also to read the Apology of Aristides in nearly twenty languages without suspecting what it was.
The speech of Nachor in Greek, that is to say, the greater part of the original Greek of the Apology of Aristides, has been extracted from this source by Professor Robinson and is published in Texts and Studies, Vol. I., so that there is now abundant material for making an estimate of Aristides.
It may be asked whether we have in any of our three sources the actual words of Aristides. The circumstances under which the Apology was incorporated in The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat are such as to render it unlikely that the author of the Romance should copy with the faithfulness of a scribe; but examination proves that very few modifications have been made. The Greek divides men into three races (the Syriac and Armenian into four); the introductory accounts of these races are in the Greek blended with the general discussion; and at the close the description of early Christian customs is shortened. These few differences from the Syriac are all explained by the fact that the Apology had to be adapted to the circumstances of an Indian court in a later age. On the other hand, when the Syriac is compared with the Greek and Armenian in passages where these two agree, it is found that explanatory clauses are added; and there is throughout a cumbrous redundancy of pronouns in the Syriac. In short, the actual words of Aristides may be restored with tolerable certainty—a task which has been already accomplished by a German scholar, Lic. Edgar Hennecke.1 In any case we have the substance of the Apology of Aristides with almost verbal precision.
In regard to the date of Aristides, Eusebius says expressly that the Apology was presented to Hadrian while he was in Athens about the year ad 125. The only ground for questioning this statement is the second superscription given in the Syriac version, which implies that the Apology was presented to Antoninus Pius, ad 138-161. This heading is accepted by Professor Harris as the true one; and he assigns the Apology to “the early years of the reign of Antoninus Pius; and it is at least conceivable,” he adds, “that it may have been presented to the Emperor along with other Christian writings during an unrecorded visit of his to his ancient seat of government at Smyrna.” But this requires us to suppose that Eusebius was wrong; that Jerome copied his error; that the Armenian version curiously fell into the same mistake; and that the Syriac translator is at this point exceptionally faithful. So perhaps it is better with Billius, “not to trust more in one’s own suspicions, than in Christian charity which believeth all things,” and to rest in the comfortable hypothesis that Eusebius spoke the truth.
Writing in ad 125, or even twenty years later, Aristides becomes an important witness as to the nature of early Christianity. His Apology contains no express quotation from Scripture; but the Emperor is referred for information to a gospel which is written. Various echoes of New Testament expressions will at once be recognized; and “the language-moulding power of Christianity” is discernible in the new meaning given to various classical words. Some topics are conspicuous by their absence. Aristides has no trace of ill-feeling to the Jews; no reference to the Logos doctrine, nor to the distinctive ideas of the Apostle Paul; he has no gnosticism or heresy to denounce, and he makes no appeal to miracle and prophecy. Christianity, in his view, is worthy of a philosophic emperor because it is eminently reasonable, and gives an impulse and power to live a good life. On the whole, Aristides represents that type of Christian practice which is found in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles; and to this he adds a simple Christian philosophy which may be compared with that of St. Paul at Athens. Although the details about the elements and the heathen gods are discussed with tedious minuteness, still his closing section describing the lives of the early Christians should always be good reading.
The translation of the Syriac given here is independently made from the Syriac text, edited by Professor Harris.2 Full advantage has been taken of his notes and apparatus criticus, but no use has been made of his translation. In obscure passages the German translation of Dr. Richard Raabe1 has been compared; and the Text-Rekonstruktion of Hennecke has been consulted on textual points in both translations. The Greek translation is made from the text edited by Professor Robinson.2 The translations from the Greek and from the Syriac are arranged side by side, so that their relation to one another is apparent at a glance. No attempt has been made to force the same English words from passages which are evidently meant to be identical in the two languages; but the literal tenour of each has been allowed to assert itself.
THE APOLOGY OF ARISTIDES
Translated from the Greek.
I. I, O King in the providence of God came into the world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth, the sun and the moon and the rest, I marvelled at their orderly arrangement.
And when I saw that the universe and all that is therein is moved by necessity, I perceived that the mover and controller is God.
For everything which causes motion is stronger than that which is moved, and that which controls is stronger than that which is controlled.
The self-same being, then, who first established and now controls the universe—him do I affirm to be God
who is without beginning and without end, immortal and self-sufficing, above all passions and infirmities, above
anger and forgetfulness
and ignorance and the rest.
Through Him too all things consist. He requires not sacrifice and libation nor any one of the things that appear to sense; but all men stand in need of Him.
II. Having thus spoken concerning God, so far as it was possible for me to speak of Him,1 let us next proceed to the human race, that we may see which of them participate in the truth and which of them in error.
For it is clear to us, O King,2 that there are three3 classes of men in this world; these being the worshippers of the gods acknowledged among you, and Jews, and Christians. Further they who pay homage to many gods are themselves divided into three classes, Chaldæans namely, and Greeks, and Egyptians; for these have been guides and preceptors to the rest of the nations in the service and worship of these many-titled deities.
III. Let us see then which of them participate in truth and which of them in error.
The Chaldæans, then, not knowing God went astray after the elements and began to worship the creation more than their Creator. And of these they formed certain shapes and styled them a representation of the heaven and the earth and the sea, of the sun too and the moon and the other primal bodies or luminaries. And they shut them up together in shrines, and worship them, calling them gods, even though they have to guard them securely for fear they should be stolen by robbers. And they did not perceive that anything which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that he who makes is greater than that which is made. For if their gods are unfit to look after their own safety, how shall they bestow protection upon others? Great then is the error into which the Chaldæans wandered in adoring lifeless and good-for-nothing images.
And it occurs to me as surprising, O King, how it is that their so-called philosophers have quite failed to observe that the elements themselves are perishable. And if the elements are perishable and subject to necessity, how are they gods? And if the elements are not gods, how do the images made in their honour come to be gods?
IV. Let us proceed then, O King, to the elements themselves that we may show in regard to them that they are not gods, but perishable and mutable, produced out of that which did not exist at the command of the true God, who is indestructible and immutable and invisible; yet He sees all things and as He wills, modifies and changes things. What then shall I say concerning the elements?
They err who believe that the sky is a god. For we see that it revolves and moves by necessity and is compacted of many parts, being thence called the ordered universe (Kosmos). Now the universe is the construction of some designer; and that which has been constructed has a beginning and an end. And the sky with its luminaries moves by necessity. For the stars are carried along in array at fixed intervals from sign to sign, and, some setting, others rising, they traverse their courses in due season so as to mark off summers and winters, as it has been appointed for them by God; and obeying the inevitable necessity of their nature they transgress not their proper limits, keeping company with the heavenly order. Whence it is plain that the sky is not a god but rather a work of God.
They erred also who believed the earth to be a goddess. For we see that it is despitefully used and tyrannized over by men, and is furrowed and kneaded and becomes of no account. For if it be burned with fire, it becomes devoid of life; for nothing will grow from the ashes. Besides if there fall upon it an excess of rain it dissolves away, both it and its fruits. Moreover it is trodden under foot of men and the other creatures; it is dyed with the blood of the murdered; it is dug open and filled with dead bodies and becomes a tomb for corpses. In face of all this, it is inadmissible that the earth is a goddess but rather it is a work of God for the use of men.
V. They also erred who believed the water to be a god. For it, too, has been made for the use of men, and is controlled by them; it is defiled and destroyed and suffers change on being boiled and dyed with colours; and it is congealed by the frost, and polluted with blood,
and is introduced for the washing of all unclean things. Wherefore it is impossible that water should be a god, but it is a work of God.
They also err who believe that fire is a god. For fire was made for the use of men, and it is controlled by them, being carried about from place to place for boiling and roasting all kinds of meat, and even for (the burning of) dead bodies. Moreover it is extinguished in many ways, being quenched through man’s agency. So it cannot be allowed that fire is a god, but it is a work of God.
They also err who think the blowing of the winds is a goddess. For it is clear that it is under the dominion of another; and for the sake of man it has been designed by God for the transport of ships and the conveyance of grain and for man’s other wants. It rises too and falls at the bidding of God, whence it is concluded
that the blowing of the winds is not a goddess but only a work of God.
VI. They also err who believe the sun to be a god. For we see that it moves by necessity and revolves and passes from sign to sign, setting and rising so as to give warmth to plants and tender shoots for the use of man.
Besides it has its part in common with the rest of the stars, and is much smaller than the sky; it suffers eclipse of its light and is not the subject of its own laws. Wherefore it is concluded that the sun is not a god, but only a work of God. They also err who believe that the moon is a goddess. For we see that it moves by necessity and revolves and passes from sign to sign, setting and rising for the benefit of men; and it is less than the sun and waxes and wanes and has eclipses. Wherefore it is concluded that the moon is not a goddess but a work of God.
VII. They also err who believe that man1 is a god. For we see that he is moved by necessity, and is made to grow up, and becomes old even though he would not. And at one time he is joyous, at another he is grieved when he lacks food and drink and clothing. And we see that he is subject to anger and jealousy and desire and change of purpose and has many infirmities. He is destroyed too in many ways by means of the elements and animals, and by ever-assailing death. It cannot be admitted, then, that man is a god, but only a work of God.
Great therefore is the error into which the Chaldæans wandered, following after their own desires.
For they reverence the perishable elements and lifeless images, and do not perceive that they themselves make these things to be gods.
VIII. Let us proceed then to the Greeks, that we may see whether they have any discernment concerning God. The Greeks, indeed, though they call themselves wise proved more deluded than the Chaldæans in alleging that many gods have come into being, some of them male, some female, practised masters in every passion and every variety of folly. [And the Greeks themselves represented them to be adulterers and murderers, wrathful and envious and passionate, slayers of fathers and brothers, thieves and robbers, crippled and limping, workers in magic, and victims of frenzy. Some of them died (as their account goes), and some were struck by thunderbolts, and became slaves to men, and were fugitives, and they mourned and lamented, and changed themselves into animals for wicked and shameful ends.]1
Wherefore, O King, they are ridiculous and absurd and impious tales that the Greeks have introduced, giving the name of gods to those who are not gods, to suit their unholy desires, in order that, having them as patrons of vice, they might commit adultery and robbery and do murder and other shocking deeds. For if their gods did such deeds why should not they also do them?
So that from these misguided practices it has been the lot of mankind to have frequent wars and slaughters and bitter captivities.
IX. But, further, if we be minded to discuss their gods individually, you will see how great is the absurdity; for instance, how Kronos is brought forward by them as a god above all, and they sacrifice their own children to him. And he had many sons by Rhea, and in his madness devoured his own offspring. And they say that Zeus cut off his members and cast them into the sea, whence Aphrodite is said in fable
to be engendered. Zeus, then, having bound his own father, cast him into Tartaros. You see the error and brutality which they advance against their god? Is it possible, then, that a god should be manacled and mutilated? What absurdity! Who with any wit would ever say so?
Next Zeus is introduced, and they say that he was king of their gods,
and that he changed himself into animals that he might debauch mortal women.
For they allege that he transformed himself into a bull for Europe, and into gold for Danae, and into a swan for Leda, and into a satyr for Antiope, and into a thunderbolt for Semele. Then by these there were many children, Dionysos and Zethus and Amphion and Herakles and Apollo and Artemis and Perseus, Kastor and Helenes and Polydeukes and Minos and Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon, and the nine daughters whom they called the Muses. Then too they bring forward statements about the matter of Ganymedes.
Hence it happened, O King, to mankind to imitate all these things and to become adulterous men and lascivious women, and to be workers of other terrible iniquities, through the imitation of their god. Now
how is it possible that a god should be an adulterer or an obscene person or a parricide?
X. Along with him, too, they bring forward one Hephaistos as a god, and they say that he is lame and wields a hammer and tongs, working as a smith for his living.
Is he then badly off? But it cannot be admitted that a god should be a cripple, and besides be dependent on mankind.
Then they bring forward Hermes as a god, representing him to be lustful, and a thief, and covetous, and a magician (and maimed) and an interpreter of language. But it cannot be admitted that such an one is a god.
They also bring forward Asklepios as a god who is a doctor and prepares drugs and compounds plasters for the sake of a living. For he was badly off. And afterwards he was struck, they say, with a thunderbolt by Zeus on account of Tyndareos, son of Lacedaimon; and so was killed. Now if Asklepios in spite of his divinity could not help himself when struck by lightning, how will he come to the rescue of others?
Again Ares is represented as a god, fond of strife and given to jealousy, and a lover of animals and other such things. And at last while corrupting Aphrodite, he was bound by the youthful Eros and by Hephaistos. How then was he a god who was subject to desire, and a warrior, and a prisoner and an adulterer?
They allege that Dionysos also is a god who holds nightly revels and teaches drunkenness, and carries off the neighbours’ wives, and goes mad and takes to flight. And at last he was put to death by the Titans. If then Dionysos could not save himself when he was being killed, and besides used to be mad, and drunk with wine, and a fugitive, how should he be a god?
They allege also that Herakles got drunk and went mad and cut the throats of his own children, then he was consumed by fire and so died. Now how should he be a god, who was drunk and a slayer of children and burned to death? or how will he come to the help of others, when he was unable to help himself?
XI. They represent Apollo also as a jealous god, and besides as the master of the bow and quiver, and sometimes of the lyre and flute, and as divining to men for pay? Can he then be very badly off? But it cannot be admitted that a god should be in want, and jealous, and a harping minstrel.
They represent Artemis also as his sister, who is a huntress and has a bow with a quiver; and she roams alone upon the hills with the dogs to hunt the stag or the wild boar. How then should such a woman, who hunts and roams with her dogs, be a divine being?
Even Aphrodite herself they affirm to be a goddess who is adulterous. For at one time she had Ares as a paramour, and at another time Anchises and again Adonis, whose death she also laments, feeling the want of her lover. And they say that she even went down to Hades to purchase back Adonis from Persephone. Did you ever see, O King, greater folly than this, to bring forward as a goddess one who is adulterous and given to weeping and wailing?
And they represent that Adonis is a hunter god, who came to a violent end, being wounded by a wild boar and having no power to help himself in his distress. How then will one who is adulterous and a hunter and mortal give himself any concern for mankind?
All this and much more of a like nature, and even far more disgraceful and offensive details, have the Greeks narrated, O King, concerning their gods;—details which it is not proper either to state or for a moment to remember. And hence mankind, taking an impulse from their gods, practised all lawlessness and brutality and impiety, polluting both earth and air by their awful deeds.
XII. The Egyptians, again, being more stupid and witless than these have gone further astray than all the nations. For they were not content with the objects of worship of the Chaldæans and the Greeks, but in addition to these brought forward also brute creatures as gods, both land and water animals, and plants and herbs; and they were defiled with all madness and brutality more deeply than all the nations on the earth.
For originally they worshipped Isis, who had Osiris as brother and husband. He was slain by his own brother Typhon; and therefore Isis with Horos her son fled for refuge to Byblus in Syria, mourning for Osiris with bitter lamentation, until Horos grew up and slew Typhon. So that neither had Isis power to help her own brother and husband; nor could Osiris defend himself when he was being slain by Typhon; nor did Typhon, the slayer of his brother, when he was perishing at the hands of Horos and Isis, find means to rescue himself from death. And though they were revealed in their true character by such mishaps, they
were believed to be very gods by the simple Egyptians, who were not satisfied even with these or the other deities of the nations, but brought forward also brute creatures as gods. For some of them worshipped the sheep, and some the goat; another tribe (worshipped) the bull and the pig; others again, the raven and the hawk, and the vulture and the eagle; and others the crocodile; and some the cat and the dog, and the wolf and the ape, and the dragon and the asp; and others the onion and the garlic and thorns and other created things. And the poor creatures do not perceive about all these that they are utterly helpless. For though they see their gods eaten by men of other tribes, and burnt as offerings and slain as victims and mouldering in decay, they have not perceived that they are not gods.
XIII. So the Egyptians and the Chaldæans and the Greeks made a great error in bringing forward such beings as gods, and in making images of them, and in deifying dumb and senseless idols.
And I wonder how they saw their gods sawn out and hacked and docked by the workmen, and besides aging with time and falling to pieces, and being cast from metal, and yet did not discern concerning them that they were not gods.
For when they have no power to see to their own safety, how will they take forethought for men?
But further, the poets and philosophers, alike of the Chaldæans and the Greeks and the Egyptians, while they desired by their poems and writings to magnify the gods of their countries, rather revealed their shame, and laid it bare before all
men. For if the body of man while consisting of many parts does not cast off any of its own members, but preserving an unbroken unity in all its members, is harmonious with itself, how shall variance and discord be so great in the nature of God?
For if there had been a unity of nature among the gods, then one god ought not to have pursued or slain or injured another. And if the gods were pursued by gods, and slain, and kidnapped and struck with lightning by them, then there is no longer any unity of nature, but divided counsels, all mischievous. So that not one of them is a god. It is clear then, O King, that all their discourse on the nature of the gods is an error.
But how did the wise and erudite men of the Greeks not observe that inasmuch as they make laws for themselves they are judged by their own laws? For if the laws are righteous, their gods are altogether unrighteous, as they have committed transgressions of laws, in slaying one another, and practising sorceries, and adultery and thefts and intercourse with males. If they were right in doing these things, then the laws are unrighteous, being framed contrary to the gods. Whereas in fact, the laws are good and just, commending what is good and forbidding what is bad. But the deeds of their gods are contrary to law. Their gods, therefore, are lawbreakers, and all liable to the punishment of death; and they are impious men who introduce such gods. For if the stories about them be mythical, the gods are nothing more than mere names; and if the stories be founded on nature, still they who did and suffered these things are no longer gods; and if the stories be allegorical, they are myths and nothing more.
It has been shown then, O King, that all these polytheistic objects of worship are the works of error and perdition. For it is not right to give the name of gods to beings which may be seen but cannot see; but one ought to reverence the invisible and all-seeing and all-creating God.
XIV. Let us proceed then, O King, to the Jews also, that we may see what truth there is in their view of God. For they were descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and migrated to Egypt. And thence God brought them forth with a mighty hand and an uplifted arm through Moses, their lawgiver; and by many wonders and signs He made known His power to them. But even they proved stubborn and ungrateful, and often served the idols of the nations, and put to death the prophets and just men who were sent to them. Then when the Son of God was pleased to come upon the earth, they received him with wanton violence and betrayed him into the hands of Pilate the Roman governor; and paying no respect to his good deeds and the countless miracles he wrought among them, they demanded a sentence of death by the cross. And they perished by their own transgression; for to this day they worship the one God Almighty, but not according to knowledge. For they deny that Christ is the Son of God; and they are much like to the heathen, even although they may seem to make some approach to the truth from which they have removed themselves. So much for the Jews.
XV. Now the Christians1 trace their origin from the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is acknowledged by the Holy Spirit to be the son of the most high God, who came down from heaven for the salvation of men. And being born of a pure virgin, unbegotten and immaculate, He assumed flesh and revealed himself among men that He might recall them to Himself from their wandering after many gods. And having accomplished His wonderful dispensation, by a voluntary choice He tasted death on the cross, fulfilling an august dispensation. And after three days He came to life again and ascended into heaven. And if you would read, O King, you may judge the glory of His presence from the holy gospel writing, as it is called among themselves. He had twelve disciples, who after His ascension to heaven went forth into the provinces of the whole world, and declared His greatness. As for instance, one of them traversed the countries about us, proclaiming the doctrine of the truth. From this it is, that they who still observe the righteousness enjoined by their preaching are called Christians.
And these are they who more than all the nations on the earth have found the truth. For they know God, the Creator and Fashioner of all things through the only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit1 ; and beside Him they worship no other God. They have the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself graven upon their hearts; and they observe them, looking forward to the resurrection of the dead and life in the world to come. They do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor covet the things of others; they honour father and mother, and love their neighbours; they judge justly, and they never do to others what they would not wish to happen to themselves; they appeal to those who injure them, and try to win them as friends; they are eager to do good to their enemies; they are gentle and easy to be entreated; they abstain from all unlawful conversation and from all impurity; they despise not the widow, nor oppress the orphan; and he that has, gives ungrudgingly for the maintenance of him who has not.
If they see a stranger, they take him under their roof, and rejoice over him as over a very brother; for they call themselves brethren not after the flesh but after the spirit.
And they are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Christ; for they observe His commands without swerving, and live holy and just lives, as the Lord God enjoined upon them.
And they give thanks unto Him every hour, for all meat and drink and other blessings.
XVI. Verily then, this is the way of the truth which leads those who travel therein to the everlasting kingdom promised through Christ in the life to come. And that you may know, O King, that in saying these things I do not speak at my own instance, if you deign to look into the writings of the Christians, you will find that I state nothing beyond the truth. Rightly then, did thy son1 apprehend, and justly was he taught to serve the living God and to be saved for the age that is destined to come upon us. For great and wonderful are the sayings and deeds of the Christians; for they speak not the words of men but those of God. But the rest of the nations go astray and deceive themselves; for they walk in darkness and bruise themselves like drunken men.
XVII. Thus far, O King, extends my discourse to you, which has been dictated in my mind by the Truth.2 Wherefore let thy foolish sages cease their idle talk against the Lord; for it is profitable for you to worship God the Creator, and to give ear to His incorruptible words, that ye may escape from condemnation and punishment, and be found to be heirs of life everlasting.
THE APOLOGY OF ARISTIDES THE PHILOSOPHER.
Translated from the Syriac.
Here follows the defence which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the King on behalf of reverence for God.
. . . All-powerful Cæsar Titus Hadrianus Antoninus, venerable and merciful, from Marcianus Aristides, an Athenian philosopher.1
I. I, O King, by the grace of God came into this world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth and the seas, and had surveyed the sun and the rest of creation, I marvelled at the beauty of the
world. And I perceived that the world and all that is therein are moved by the power of another; and I understood that he who moves them is God, who
is hidden in them, and veiled by them. And it is manifest that that which causes motion is more powerful than that which is moved. But that I should make search concerning this same mover of all, as to what is his nature (for it seems to me, he is indeed unsearchable in his nature), and that I should argue as to the constancy of his government, so as to grasp it fully,—this is a vain effort for me; for it is not possible that a man should fully comprehend it. I say, however, concerning this mover of the world, that he is God of all, who made all things for the sake of mankind. And it seems to me that this is reasonable, that one should fear God and should not oppress man.
I say, then, that God is not born, not made, an ever-abiding nature without beginning and without end, immortal, perfect, and incomprehensible. Now when I say that he is “perfect,” this means that there is not in him any defect, and he is not in need of anything but all things are in need of him. And when I say that he is “without beginning,” this means that everything which has beginning has also an end, and that which has an end may be brought to an end. He has no name, for everything which has a name is kindred to things created. Form he has none, nor yet any union of members; for whatsoever possesses these is kindred to things fashioned. He is neither male nor female.4 The heavens do not limit him, but the heavens and all things, visible and invisible, receive their bounds from him. Adversary he has none, for there exists not any stronger than he. Wrath and indignation he possesses not, for there is nothing which is able to stand against him. Ignorance and forgetfulness are not in his nature, for he is altogether wisdom and understanding; and in Him stands fast all that exists. He requires not sacrifice and libation, nor even one of things visible; He requires not aught from any, but all living creatures stand in need of him.
II. Since, then, we have addressed you concerning God, so far as our discourse can bear upon him, let us now come to the race of men, that we may know which of them participate in the truth of which we have spoken, and which of them go astray from it.
This is clear to you, O King, that there are four classes of men in this world:—Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians. The Barbarians, indeed, trace the origin of their kind of religion from Kronos and from Rhea and their other gods; the Greeks, however, from Helenos, who is said to be sprung from Zeus. And by Helenos there were born Aiolos and Xuthos; and there were others descended from Inachos and Phoroneus, and lastly from the Egyptian Danaos and from Kadmos and from Dionysos.
The Jews, again, trace the origin of their race from Abraham, who begat Isaac, of whom was born Jacob. And he begat twelve sons who migrated from Syria to Egypt; and there they were called the nation of the Hebrews, by him who made their laws; and at length they were named Jews.
The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time ago was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it. This Jesus, then, was born of the race of the Hebrews; and he had twelve disciples in order that the purpose of his incarnation1 might in time be accomplished. But he himself was pierced by the Jews, and he died and was buried; and they say that after three days he rose and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world, and kept showing his greatness with all modesty and uprightness. And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians, and they are become famous.
So then there are, as I said above, four classes of men:—Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians.
Moreover the wind is obedient to God, and fire to the angels; the waters also to the demons and the earth to the sons of men.2
III. Let us begin, then, with the Barbarians, and go on to the rest of the nations one after another, that we may see which of them hold the truth as to God and which of them hold error.
The Barbarians, then, as they did not apprehend God, went astray among the elements, and began to worship things created instead of their Creator;3 and for this end they made images and shut them up in shrines, and lo! they worship them, guarding them the while with much care, lest their gods be stolen by robbers. And the Barbarians did not observe that that which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that every one who creates is greater than that which is created. If it be, then, that their gods are too feeble to see to their own safety, how will they take thought for the safety of men? Great then is the error into which the Barbarians wandered in worshipping lifeless images which can do nothing to help them. And I am led to wonder, O King, at their philosophers, how that even they went astray, and gave the name of gods to images which were made in honour of the elements; and that their sages did not perceive that the elements also are dissoluble and perishable. For if a small part of an element is dissolved or destroyed, the whole of it may be dissolved and destroyed. If then the elements themselves are dissolved and destroyed and forced to be subject to another that is more stubborn than they, and if they are not in their nature gods, why, forsooth, do they call the images which are made in their honour, God? Great, then, is the error which the philosophers among them have brought upon their followers.
IV. Let us turn now, O King, to the elements in themselves, that we may make clear in regard to them, that they are not gods, but a created thing, liable to ruin and change, which is of the same nature as man; whereas God is imperishable and unvarying, and invisible, while yet He sees, and overrules, and transforms all things.
Those then who believe concerning the earth that it is a god have hitherto deceived themselves, since it is furrowed and set with plants and trenched; and it takes in the filthy refuse of men and beasts and cattle. And at times it becomes unfruitful, for if it be burnt to ashes it becomes devoid of life, for nothing germinates from an earthen jar. And besides if water be collected upon it, it is dissolved together with its products. And lo! it is trodden under foot of men and beast, and receives the bloodstains of the slain; and it is dug open, and filled with the dead, and becomes a tomb for corpses. But it is impossible that a nature, which is holy and worthy and blessed and immortal, should allow of any one of these things. And hence it appears to us that the earth is not a god but a creation of God.
V. In the same way, again, those erred who believed the waters to be gods. For the waters were created for the use of man, and are put under his rule in many ways. For they suffer change and admit impurity, and are destroyed and lose their nature while they are boiled into many substances. And they take colours which do not belong to them; they are also congealed by frost and are mingled and permeated with the filth of men and beasts, and with the blood of the slain. And being checked by skilled workmen through the restraint of aqueducts, they flow and are diverted against their inclination, and come into gardens and other places in order that they may be collected and issue forth as a means of fertility for man, and that they may cleanse away every impurity and fulfil the service man requires from them. Wherefore it is impossible that the waters should be a god, but they are a work of God and a part of the world.
In like manner also they who believed that fire is a god erred to no slight extent. For it, too, was created for the service of men, and is subject to them in many ways:—in the preparation of meats, and as a means of casting metals, and for other ends whereof your Majesty is aware. At the same time it is quenched and extinguished in many ways.
Again they also erred who believed the motion of the winds to be a god. For it is well known to us that those winds are under the dominion of another, at times their motion increases, and at times it fails and ceases at the command of him who controls them. For they were created by God for the sake of men, in order to supply the necessity of trees and fruits and seeds; and to bring over the sea ships which convey for men necessaries and goods from places where they are found to places where they are not found; and to govern the quarters of the world. And as for itself, at times it increases and again abates; and in one place brings help and in another causes disaster at the bidding of him who rules it. And mankind too are able by known means to confine and keep it in check in order that it may fulfil for them the service they require from it. And of itself it has not any authority at all. And hence it is impossible that the winds should be called gods, but rather a thing made by God.
VI. So also they erred who believed that the sun is a god. For we see that it is moved by the compulsion of another, and revolves and makes its journey, and proceeds from sign to sign, rising and setting every day, so as to give warmth for the growth of plants and trees, and to bring forth into the air wherewith it (sunlight) is mingled every growing thing which is upon the earth. And to it there belongs by comparison a part in common with the rest of the stars in its course; and though it is one in its nature it is associated with many parts for the supply of the needs of men; and that not according to its own will but rather according to the will of him who rules it. And hence it is impossible that the sun should be a god, but the work of God; and in like manner also the moon and the stars.
VII. And those who believed of the men of the past, that some of them were gods, they too were much mistaken. For as you yourself allow, O King,
man is constituted of the four elements and of a soul and a spirit (and hence he is called a microcosm),2 and without any one of these parts he could not consist. He has a beginning and an end, and he is born and dies. But God, as I said, has none of these things in his nature, but is uncreated and imperishable. And hence it is not possible that we should set up man to be of the nature of God:—man, to whom at times when he looks for joy, there comes trouble, and when he looks for laughter there comes to him weeping,—who is wrathful and covetous and envious, with other defects as well. And he is destroyed in many ways by the elements and also by the animals.
And hence, O King, we are bound to recognize the error of the Barbarians, that thereby, since they did not find traces of the true God, they fell aside from the truth, and went after the desire of their imagination, serving the perishable elements and lifeless images, and through their error not apprehending what the true God is.
VIII. Let us turn further to the Greeks also, that we may know what opinion they hold as to the true God. The Greeks, then, because they are more subtle than the Barbarians, have gone further astray than the Barbarians; inasmuch as they have introduced many fictitious gods, and have set up some of them as males and some as females; and in that some of their gods were found who were adulterers, and did murder, and were deluded, and envious, and wrathful and passionate, and parricides, and thieves, and robbers. And some of them, they say, were crippled and limped, and some were sorcerers, and some actually went mad, and some played on lyres, and some were given to roaming on the hills, and some even died, and some were struck dead by lightning, and some were made servants even to men, and some escaped by flight, and some were kidnapped by men, and some, indeed, were lamented and deplored by men. And some, they say, went down to Sheol, and some were grievously wounded, and some transformed themselves into the likeness of animals to seduce the race of mortal women, and some polluted themselves2 by lying with males. And some, they say, were wedded to their mothers and their sisters and their daughters. And they say of their gods that they committed adultery with the daughters of men; and of these there was born a certain race which also was mortal. And they say that some of the females disputed about beauty, and appeared before men for judgment. Thus, O King, have the Greeks put forward foulness, and absurdity, and folly about their gods and about themselves, in that they have called those that are of such a nature gods, who are no gods. And hence mankind have received incitements to commit adultery and fornication, and to steal and to practise all that is offensive and hated and abhorred. For if they who are called their gods practised all these things which are written above, how much more should men practise them—men, who believe that their gods themselves practised them. And owing to the foulness of this error there have happened to mankind harassing wars, and great famines, and bitter captivity, and complete desolation. And lo! it was by reason of this alone that they suffered and that all these things came upon them; and while they endured those things they did not perceive in their mind that for their error those things came upon them.
IX. Let us proceed further to their account of their gods that we may carefully demonstrate all that is said above. First of all, the Greeks bring forward as a god Kronos, that is to say Chiun3 (Saturn). And his worshippers sacrifice their children to him, and they burn some of them alive in his honour. And they say that he took to him among his wives Rhea, and begat many children by her. By her too he begat Dios, who is called Zeus. And at length he (Kronos) went mad, and through fear of an oracle that had been made known to him, he began to devour his sons. And from him Zeus was stolen away without his knowledge; and at length Zeus bound him, and mutilated the signs of his manhood, and flung them into the sea. And hence, as they say in fable, there was engendered Aphrodite, who is called Astarte. And he (Zeus) cast out Kronos fettered into darkness. Great then is the error and ignominy which the Greeks have brought forward about the first of their gods, in that they have said all this about him, O King. It is impossible that a god should be bound or mutilated; and if it be otherwise, he is indeed miserable.
And after Kronos they bring forward another god Zeus. And they say of him that he assumed the sovereignty, and was king over all the gods. And they say that he changed himself into a beast and other shapes in order to seduce mortal women, and to raise up by them children for himself. Once, they say, he changed himself into a bull through love of Europe and Pasiphae.1 And again he changed himself into the likeness of gold through love of Danae, and to a swan through love of Leda, and to a man through love of Antiope, and to lightning through love of Luna,2 and so by these he begat many children. For by Antiope, they say, that he begat Zethus and Amphion, and by Luna Dionysos, by Alcmena Hercules, and by Leto, Apollo and Artemis, and by Danae Perseus, and by Leda, Castor and Polydeuces, and Helene and Paludus,3 and by Mnemosyne he begat nine daughters whom they styled the Muses, and by Europe, Minos and Rhadamanthos and Sarpedon. And lastly he changed himself into the likeness of an eagle through his passion for Ganydemos (Ganymede) the shepherd.
By reason of these tales, O King, much evil has arisen among men, who to this day are imitators of their gods, and practise adultery and defile themselves with their mothers and their sisters, and by lying with males, and some make bold to slay even their parents. For if he who is said to be the chief and king of their gods do these things how much more should his worshippers imitate him? And great is the folly which the Greeks have brought forward in their narrative concerning him. For it is impossible that a god should practise adultery or fornication or come near to lie with males, or kill his parents; and if it be otherwise, he is much worse than a destructive demon.
X. Again they bring forward as another god Hephaistos. And they say of him, that he is lame, and a cap is set on his head, and he holds in his hands firetongs and a hammer; and he follows the craft of iron working, that thereby he may procure the necessaries of his livelihood. Is then this god so very needy? But it cannot be that a god should be needy or lame, else he is very worthless.
And further they bring in another god and call him Hermes. And they say that he is a thief,4 a lover of avarice, and greedy for gain, and a magician and mutilated and an athlete, and an interpreter of language. But it is impossible that a god should be a magician or avaricious, or maimed, or craving for what is not his, or an athlete. And if it be otherwise, he is found to be useless.
And after him they bring forward as another god Asklepios. And they say that he is a physician and prepares drugs and plaster that he may supply the necessaries of his livelihood. Is then this god in want? And at length he was struck with lightning by Dios on account of Tyndareos of Lacedæmon, and so he died. If then Asklepios were a god, and, when he was struck with lightning, was unable to help himself, how should he be able to give help to others? But that a divine nature should be in want or be destroyed by lightning is impossible.
And again they bring forward another as a god, and they call him Ares. And they say that he is a warrior, and jealous, and covets sheep and things which are not his. And he makes gain by his arms. And they say that at length he committed adultery with Aphrodite, and was caught by the little boy Eros and by Hephaistos the husband of Aphrodite. But it is impossible that a god should be a warrior or bound or an adulterer.
And again they say of Dionysos that he forsooth! is a god, who arranges carousals by night, and teaches drunkenness, and carries off women who do not belong to him. And at length, they say, he went mad and dismissed his handmaidens and fled into the desert; and during his madness he ate serpents. And at last he was killed by Titanos. If then Dionysos were a god, and when he was being killed was unable to help himself, how is it possible that he should help others?
Herakles next they bring forward and say that he is a god, who hates detestable things, a tyrant,1 and warrior and a destroyer of plagues. And of him also they say that at length he became mad and killed his own children, and cast himself into a fire and died. If then Herakles is a god, and in all these calamities was unable to rescue himself, how should others ask help from him? But it is impossible that a god should be mad, or drunken or a slayer of his children, or consumed by fire.
XI. And after him they bring forward another god and call him Apollon. And they say that he is jealous and inconstant, and at times he holds the bow and quiver, and again the lyre and plectron. And he utters oracles for men that he may receive rewards from them. Is then this god in need of rewards? But it is an insult that all these things should be found with a god.
And after him they bring forward as a goddess Artemis, the sister of Apollo; and they say that she was a huntress and that she herself used to carry a bow and bolts, and to roam about upon the mountains, leading the hounds to hunt stags or wild boars of the field. But it is disgraceful that a virgin maid should roam alone upon the hills or hunt in the chase for animals. Wherefore it is impossible that Artemis should be a goddess.
Again they say of Aphrodite that she indeed is a goddess. And at times she dwells with their gods, but at other times she is a neighbour to men. And once she had Ares as a lover, and again Adonis who is Tammuz. Once also, Aphrodite was wailing and weeping for the death of Tammuz, and they say that she went down to Sheol that she might redeem Adonis from Persephone, who is the daughter of Sheol (Hades). If then Aphrodite is a goddess and was unable to help her lover at his death, how will she find it possible to help others? And this cannot be listened to, that a divine nature should come to weeping and wailing and adultery.
And again they say of Tammuz that he is a god. And he is, forsooth! a hunter and an adulterer. And they say that he was killed by a wound from a wild boar, without being able to help himself. And if he could not help himself, how can he take thought for the human race? But that a god should be an adulterer or a hunter or should die by violence is impossible.
Again they say of Rhea that she is the mother of their gods. And they say that she had once a lover Atys, and that she used to delight in depraved men. And at last she raised a lamentation and mourned for Atys her lover. If then the mother of their gods was unable to help her lover and deliver him from death, how can she help others? So it is disgraceful that a goddess should lament and weep and take delight in depraved men.
Again they introduce Kore and say that she is a goddess, and she was stolen away by Pluto, and could not help herself. If then she is a goddess and was unable to help herself how will she find means to help others? For a god who is stolen away is very powerless.
All this, then, O King, have the Greeks brought forward concerning their gods, and they have invented and declared it concerning them. And hence all men received an impulse to work all profanity and all defilements; and hereby the whole earth was corrupted.
XII. The Egyptians, moreover, because they are more base and stupid than every people that is on the earth, have themselves erred more than all. For the deities (or religion) of the Barbarians and the Greeks did not suffice for them, but they introduced some also of the nature of the animals, and said thereof that they were gods, and likewise of creeping things which are found on the dry land and in the waters. And of plants and herbs they said that some of them were gods. And they were corrupted by every kind of delusion and defilement more than every people
that is on the earth. For from ancient times they worshipped Isis, and they say that she is a goddess whose husband was Osiris her brother. And when Osiris was killed by Typhon his brother, Isis fled with Horos her son to Byblus in Syria, and was there for a certain time till her son was grown. And he contended with Typhon his uncle, and killed him. And then Isis returned and went about with Horos her son and sought for the dead body of Osiris her lord, bitterly lamenting his death. If then Isis be a goddess, and could not help Osiris her brother and lord, how can she help another? But it is impossible that a divine nature should be afraid, and flee for safety, or should weep and wail; or else it is very miserable.
And of Osiris also they say that he is a serviceable god. And he was killed by Typhon and was unable to help himself. But it is well known that this cannot be asserted of divinity. And further, they say of his brother Typhon that he is a god, who killed his brother and was killed by his brother’s son and by his bride, being unable to help himself. And how, pray, is he a god who does not save himself?
As the Egyptians, then, were more stupid than the rest of the nations, these and such like gods did not suffice for them. Nay, but they even apply the name of gods to animals in which there is no soul at all. For some of them worship the sheep and others the calf; and some the pig and others the shad fish; and some the crocodile and the hawk and the fish and the ibis and the vulture and the eagle and the raven. Some of them worship the cat, and others the turbot-fish, some the dog, some the adder, and some the asp, and others the lion; and others the garlic and onions and thorns, and others the tiger and other such
things. And the poor creatures do not see that all these things are nothing, although they daily witness
their gods being eaten and consumed by men and also by their fellows; while some of them are cremated, and some die and decay and become dust, without their observing that they perish in many ways. So the Egyptians have not observed that such things which are not equal to their own deliverance, are not gods. And if, forsooth, they are weak in the case of their own deliverance, whence have they power to help in the case of deliverance of their worshippers? Great then is the error into which the Egyptians wandered;—greater, indeed, than that of any people which is upon the face of the earth.
XIII, But it is a marvel, O King, with regard to the Greeks, who surpass all other peoples in their manner of life and reasoning, how they have gone astray after dead idols and lifeless images. And yet they see their gods in the hands of their artificers being sawn out, and planed and docked, and hacked short, and charred, and ornamented, and being altered by them in every kind of way. And when they grow old, and are worn away through lapse of time, and when they are molten and crushed to powder, how, I wonder, did they not perceive concerning them, that they are not gods? And as for those who did not find deliverance for themselves, how can they serve the distress of men?
But even the writers and philosophers among them have wrongly alleged that the gods are such as are made in honour of God Almighty. And they err in seeking to liken (them) to God whom man has not at any time seen nor can see unto what He is like. Herein, too (they err) in asserting of deity that any such thing as deficiency can be present to it; as when they say that He receives sacrifice and requires burnt-offering and libation and immolations of men, and temples. But God is not in need, and none of these things is necessary to Him; and it is clear that men err in these things they imagine.
Further their writers and their philosophers represent and declare that the nature of all their gods is one. And they have not apprehended God our Lord who while He is one, is in all. They err therefore. For if the body of a man while it is many in its parts is not in dread, one member of another, but, since it is a united body, wholly agrees with itself; even so also God is one in His nature. A single essence is proper to Him, since He is uniform in His nature and His essence; and He is not afraid
of Himself. If then the nature of the gods is one, it is not proper that a god should either pursue or slay or harm a god. If, then, gods be pursued and wounded by gods, and some be kidnapped and some struck dead by lightning, it is obvious that the nature of their gods is not one. And hence it is known, O King, that it is a mistake when they reckon and bring the natures of their gods under a single nature. If then it becomes us to admire a god which is seen and does not see, how much more praiseworthy is it that one should believe in a nature which is invisible and all-seeing? And if further it is fitting that one should approve the handiworks of a craftsman, how much more is it fitting that one should glorify the Creator of the craftsman?
For behold! when the Greeks made laws they did not perceive that by their laws they condemn their gods. For if their laws are righteous, their gods are unrighteous, since they transgressed the law in killing one another, and practising sorcery, and committing adultery, and in robbing and stealing, and in lying with males, and by their other practises as well. For if their gods were right in doing all these things as they are described, then the laws of the Greeks are unrighteous in not being made according to the will of their gods. And in that case the whole world is gone astray.
For the narratives about their gods are some of them myths, and some of them nature-poems (lit: natural—ϕυσικαί), and some of them hymns and elegies. The hymns indeed and elegies are empty words and noise. But these nature-poems, even if they be made as they say, still those are not gods who do such things and suffer and endure such things. And those myths are shallow tales with no depth whatever in them.
XIV. Let us come now, O King, to the history of the Jews also, and see what opinion they have as to God. The Jews then say that God is one, the Creator of all, and omnipotent; and that it is not right that any other should be worshipped except this God alone. And herein they appear to approach the truth more than all the nations, especially in that they worship God and not His works. And they imitate God by the philanthropy which prevails among them; for they have compassion on the poor, and they release the captives, and bury the dead, and do such things as these, which are acceptable before God and well-pleasing also to men,—which (customs) they have received from their forefathers.
Nevertheless they too erred from true knowledge. And in their imagination they conceive that it is God they serve; whereas by their mode of observance it is to the angels and not to God that their service is rendered:—as when they celebrate sabbaths and the beginning of the months, and feasts of unleavened bread, and a great fast; and fasting and circumcision and the purification of meats, which things, however, they do not observe perfectly.
XV. But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search,2 have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols they do not eat, for they are pure. And their oppressors they appease (lit: comfort) and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world. Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without
boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning2 and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And further if they see that any one of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom.
XVI. Such, O King, is the commandment of the law of the Christians, and such is their manner of life. As men who know God, they ask from Him petitions which are fitting for Him to grant and for them to receive. And thus they employ their whole lifetime. And since they know the loving-kindnesses of God toward them, behold! for their sake the glorious things which are in the world flow forth to view. And verily, they are those who found the truth when they went about and made search for it; and from what we considered, we learned that they alone come near to a knowledge of the truth. And they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude the kind deeds they do, but are careful that no one should notice them; and they conceal their giving just as he who finds a treasure and conceals it. And they strive to be righteous as those who expect to behold their Messiah, and to receive from Him with great glory the promises made concerning them. And as for their words and their precepts, O King, and their glorying in their worship, and the hope of earning according to the work of each one of them their recompense which they look for in another world,—you may learn about these from their writings. It is enough for us to have shortly informed your Majesty concerning the conduct and the truth of the Christians. For great indeed, and wonderful is their doctrine to him who will search into it and reflect upon it. And verily, this is a new people, and there is something divine (lit: a divine admixture) in the midst of them.
Take, then, their writings, and read therein, and lo! you will find that I have not put forth these things on my own authority, nor spoken thus as their advocate; but since I read in their writings I was fully assured of these things as also of things which are to come. And for this reason I was constrained to declare the truth to such as care for it
and seek the world to come. And to me there is no doubt but that the earth abides through the supplication of the Christians. But the rest of the nations err and cause error in wallowing before the elements of the world, since beyond these their mental vision will not pass. And they search about as if in darkness because they will not recognize the truth; and like drunken men they reel and jostle one another and fall.
XVII. Thus far, O King, I have spoken; for concerning that which remains, as is said above,1 there are found in their other writings things which are hard to utter and difficult for one to narrate,—which are not only spoken in words but also wrought out in deeds.
Now the Greeks, O King, as they follow base practises in intercourse with males, and a mother and a sister and a daughter, impute their monstrous impurity in turn to the Christians. But the Christians are just and good, and the truth is set before their eyes, and their spirit is long-suffering; and, therefore, though they know the error of these (the Greeks), and are persecuted by them, they bear and endure it; and for the most part they have compassion on them, as men who are destitute of knowledge. And on their side, they offer prayer that these may repent of their error; and when it happens that one of them has repented, he is ashamed before the Christians of the works which were done by him; and he makes confession to God, saying, I did these things in ignorance. And he purifies his heart, and his sins are forgiven him, because he committed them in ignorance in the former time, when he used to blaspheme and speak evil of the true knowledge of the Christians. And assuredly the race of the Christians is more blessed than all the men who are upon the face of the earth.
Henceforth let the tongues of those who utter vanity and harass the Christians be silent; and hereafter let them speak the truth. For it is of serious consequence to them that they should worship the true God rather than worship a senseless sound. And verily whatever is spoken in the mouth of the Christians is of God; and their doctrine is the gateway of light. Wherefore let all who are without the knowledge of God draw near thereto; and they will receive incorruptible words, which are from all time and from eternity. So shall they appear before the awful judgment which through Jesus the Messiah is destined to come upon the whole human race.
The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher is finished.
THE PASSION OF THE SCILLITAN MARTYRS.
The Scillitan Martyrs were condemned and executed at Carthage on the 17th July, ad 180. The martyrs belonged to Scili, a place in that part of Numidia which belonged to proconsular Africa. The proconsul at the time, who is said by Tertullian to have been the first to draw the sword against the Christians there, was P. Vigellius Saturninus. The consuls for the year were Præsens II. and Condianus. Marcus Aurelius had died only a few months before.
The exact date of the martyrdom was long under dispute, and the question has recently arisen whether the Acts were originally written in Latin or Greek. Baronius placed the date as late as 202. The text had become corrupt in passing through various Latin and Greek versions and transcriptions, and it was long impossible to recognize the names of the consuls for the year in the first line of the piece. But M. Leon Renier conjectured that the word bis pointed to a consul’s name underlying the word preceding it, and suggested the year 180, when Præsens and Condianus were consuls. This conjecture was confirmed by Usener’s publication in 1881 of a Greek version from a ninth century MS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, though even here the names, though recognizable, were in a corrupt form. Usener believed this version to be a translation from a Latin original, and his theory has been confirmed by Mr. Armitage Robinson’s discovery of a Latin MS. of the ninth century in the British Museum, containing the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs in a form briefer than any of the other versions and believed to be the original. Mr. A. Robinson’s translation which follows, is from the Latin which he discovered, and which is printed in Texts and Studies, vol. i., No. 2.
THE PASSION OF THE SCILLITAN MARTYRS.
When Præsens, for the second time, and Claudianus were the consuls, on the seventeenth day of July, at Carthage, there were set in the judgment-hall Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Secunda and Vestia.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Ye can win the indulgence of our lord the Emperor, if ye return to a sound mind.
Speratus said: We have never done ill, we have not lent ourselves to wrong, we have never spoken ill, but when ill-treated we have given thanks; because we pay heed to our Emperor.
Saturninus the proconsul said: We too are religious, and our religion is simple, and we swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor, and pray for his welfare, as ye also ought to do.
Speratus said: If thou wilt peaceably lend me thine ears, I can tell thee the mystery of simplicity.
Saturninus said: I will not lend mine ears to thee, when thou beginnest to speak evil things of our sacred rites; but rather swear thou by the genius of our lord the Emperor.
Speratus said: The empire of this world I know not; but rather I serve that God, whom no man hath seen, nor with these eyes can see.1 I have committed no theft; but if I have bought anything I pay the tax; because I know my Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations.
Saturninus the proconsul said to the rest: Cease to be of this persuasion.
Speratus said: It is an ill persuasion to do murder, to speak false witness.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Be not partakers of this folly.
Cittinus said: We have none other to fear, save only our Lord God, who is in heaven.
Donata said: Honour to Cæsar as Cæsar: but fear to God.2
Vestia said: I am a Christian.
Secunda said: What I am, that I wish to be.
Saturninus the proconsul said to Speratus: Dost thou persist in being a Christian?
Speratus said: I am a Christian. And with him they all agreed.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Will ye have a space to consider?
Speratus said: In a matter so straightforward there is no considering.
Saturninus the proconsul said: What are the things in your chest?
Speratus said: Books and epistles of Paul, a just man.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Have a delay of thirty days and bethink yourselves.
Speratus said a second time: I am a Christian. And with him they all agreed.
Saturninus the proconsul read out the decree from the tablet: Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda and the rest having confessed that they live according to the Christian rite, since after opportunity offered them of returning to the custom of the Romans they have obstinately persisted, it is determined that they be put to the sword.
Speratus said: We give thanks to God.
Nartzalus said: To-day we are martyrs in heaven; thanks be to God.
Saturninus the proconsul ordered it to be declared by the herald: Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Laetantius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestia, Donata and Secunda, I have ordered to be executed.
They all said: Thanks be to God.
And so they all together were crowned with martyrdom; and they reign with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.
Commentaries of Origen.
EPISTLE TO GREGORY AND ORIGEN’S COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
For a general account of Origen and of his works we may refer to Dr. Crombie’s Life of Origen, in vol. iv. of this series (xxiii. in Clark’s issue). The principal facts of his career are as follows: He was born of Christian parents at Alexandria about the year 185 ad, and from his earliest youth devoted himself to the study of Scripture in such a way as to suggest that he was destined for a great career. His father suffered martyrdom in the year 202, and Origen very soon afterwards succeeded the great Clement as head of the school at Alexandria. Thirteen years after, the persecution of Caracalla drove him from his own country to Cæsarea, where though still a layman he preached at church meetings. Recalled to Alexandria, he laboured there for fifteen years further as teacher and author, till in the year 231 his ordination at Cæsarea to the office of presbyter drew upon him the condemnation of the bishop of Alexandria and became the occasion of his permanent withdrawal from the place of his birth. At Cæsarea he now formed a new school of Christian training similar to that from which he had been driven. At this time, as well as in the earlier period of his life, he made various journeys to different parts of the world. His death was brought about by sufferings inflicted on him in the persecution of Decius, and took place at Tyre, probably in the year 254.
Part of the Commentary on John, the first great work of Christian interpretation, and part of that on Matthew, written by the father at a later period of his life, are here presented to the reader; and a few words of introduction may be added on Origen’s work as an expositor and on these two works in particular.
Though Origen was the first great interpreter of Scripture in the Church, commentaries had been written before his. He speaks of those who had preceded him in this activity; and though but little survives of the labours of these earlier expositors, we know that the work of commenting on Scripture was zealously carried on in the Gnostic churches in the latter part of the second century, and several of the older exegetes in the Church are also known to us by name and reputation. Heracleon the Gnostic commentator on John, who is often cited and often rather unfairly dealt with by Origen, as he follows him over the same ground, belonged to the Valentinian school. Many of his comments the reader will find to be very just and shrewd; but the tenets of his school led him into many extravagances. Of Pantænus, head of the catechetical school at Alexandria in the end of the second and early years of the third century, we hear that he interpreted many of the books of Scripture. We also learn that he preceded Clement and Origen, his successors in office, in the application of Gentile learning to Christian studies; the broad and liberal tone of Alexandrian theology may be due in part to his influence. Much of his exegetical work was still extant in the days of Jerome, who, however, reports that he did more for the Church as a teacher than as a writer. Only fragments of his Commentaries now remain. In Clement’s works, on the contrary, we find, if not any set commentaries, various extended discussions of particular texts. We also find in him a theory of Scripture, its inspiration and its nature, which is followed also by Origen, and which determines the whole character of Alexandrian exegesis. In accordance with the general tendency of that age, which witnessed a reaction from the independence of philosophy and an appeal in many quarters to the authority of ancient oracles and writings, the Alexandrian school treats Scripture as an inspired and infallible storehouse of truth,—of truth, however, not patent to the simple reader, but requiring the spiritual man to discern its mystic import. Clement discusses the question why divine things are wrapped up in mysteries, and holds that all who have spoken of such things have dealt with them in this way. Everything in Scripture, therefore, has a mystical in addition to its obvious meaning. Every minute particular about the tabernacle and its furniture is charged with an unseen truth. The effect of such a view of Scripture on exegesis is necessarily that the interpreter finds in the inspired words not what they plainly convey, but what most interests his own mind. In assigning to each verse its spiritual meaning, he is neither guided nor restrained by any rule or system, but enjoys complete liberty. The natural good sense of these great scholars curbed to some extent the licence of their theory; but with such a view of Scripture they could not but run into many an extravagance; and the allegorical method of interpretation, which so long prevailed in Christendom and is still practised in some quarters, dates from Alexandria. The roots of it lie further back, in Jewish rabbinical treatment of the Old Testament, and in the Greek philosophy of Alexandria. In Philo, the great contemporary of Christ at Alexandria, rabbinical and Greek learning met, and Scripture being a divine authority and having to furnish evidence of Greek philosophical doctrines, the allegorical method of interpretation was called to perform large services. To Philo’s eyes all wisdom was contained in the Pentateuch, and many an idea of which Moses never dreamed had to be extracted from that ancient record. The method was older than Clement and Origen, but it was through them that it became so firmly established in the Church.
In Origen we first find a great teacher who deliberately sets himself to the task of explaining Scripture. He became, at the early age of eighteen, the head of the catechetical school at Alexandria, an institution which not only trained catechumens but provided open lectures, on every part of Christian learning, and from that time to his death, at the age of sixty-nine, he was constantly engaged in the work of public exposition. At Alexandria his expositions took place in the school, but at Cæsarea they formed part of the church services, so that the reports of those belonging to the Cæsarean period provide us with the earliest examples we possess of the discourse at Christian meetings. In an activity which he practised so much Origen acquired extraordinary skill and facility, and gained the highest reputation, even beyond the limits of the Church. It is no wonder, therefore, if he succeeded in treating nearly the whole Bible in this way, a thing which might no doubt be said of many a Christian teacher since his day; for he was not one who was apt to repeat himself, but was constantly pressing on to break new ground.
But the reported homilies form only a part—and that not the most important part—of his exegetical works. What he gave in his homilies was necessarily designed for edification; it had to be plain enough to be understood by a mixed audience, and serviceable to their needs. Origen believed, however, that there was very much in Scripture that lay beyond the capacity of the ordinary mind, and that the highest way of treating Scripture was not that of practical application, but that of searching after its hidden sense. In the fourth book of his De Principiis (vol. x. of Clark’s set) he sets forth his views about the Scriptures. “As man,” he there says, “consists of body, soul, and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture, which has been arranged to be given by God for the salvation of man.” Scripture, therefore, has three senses, the bodily (somatic) or the obvious matter-of-fact sense, the psychical or moral sense, which serves for edification of the pious, and, highest of all, the spiritual sense. For this latter sense of Scripture Origen has many names,—as many as forty have been counted,—he calls it the heavenly sense, the intellectual, the anagogical, the mystic, the hidden. This is what chiefly engages his interest in the work of expounding. Scripture is to him full of mysteries, every jot and tittle has its secret, and to read these heavenly mysteries is the highest object of the interpreter. In addition, therefore, to his oral expositions (ὁμιλίαι) and the short notes (σημειώσεις) which are generally reckoned as a third class of his exegetical works, we have the written commentaries, books, or τόμοι of Origen, in which he discusses Scripture without being hampered by the requirements of edification, according to the method which alone he recognizes as adequate. He was enabled to devote himself to this labour by the generosity of a rich friend, Ambrosius, who urged him to undertake it, and provided funds for the payment of shorthand writers and copyists. We are told that seven of the former were at one time placed at his disposal. The work which he was thus led to undertake Origen felt to be very responsible and burdensome; it was not to be approached without fervent prayer, and he sometimes complains that it is too much for him, and that it is only the urgent commands of Ambrosius that make him go on with it. (See the opening chapters of the various books on John.)
What has been said will to some extent explain the nature of these commentaries, parts of which are now for the first time presented to the English reader. There is a side of them, however, of which we have not yet spoken. Origen was a great scholar as well as a great theologian; and he thought it right, as the reader may see from the letter to Gregory also here given, that scholarship should contribute all it could to the study of Scripture. Of his multifarious knowledge and of his easy command of all the science and philosophy of his day, the reader may judge for himself even from what is now presented to him. His work on the words of Scripture has a value quite independently of his theological views. Some of the most important qualifications of the worthy interpreter of Scripture he possesses in a supreme degree. His knowledge of Scripture is extraordinary both for its range and its minute accuracy. He had no concordance to help him; but he was himself a concordance. Whatever word occurs he is able to bring from every part of Scripture the passages in which it is used. He quotes passages, it is true, which are only verbally connected with the text before him and have no affinity of idea; the wealth of illustration he has at his command does not always assist, but sometimes, as the reader will see, impedes his progress: yet the wonder is not diminished of such a knowledge of all parts of the Bible as is probably without parallel. It has to be added that he is strong in grammar, and has a true eye for the real meaning of his text; the discussions in which he does this often leave nothing to be desired. In defining his terms he often goes far astray; he has to define them according to the science of his day; but he is not guilty of loose construction of sentences. Another matter in which he is distinguished is that of textual criticism. He is the first great textual critic of the Church. That his name occurs more frequently than that of any other father in the digests of early readings of the text of the New Testament, is due no doubt to the fact that he is the earliest writer of commentaries which have been preserved; his commentaries contain complete texts of the portions of Scripture commented on, as well as copious quotations from other parts of Scripture. But he was keenly interested in the text of the New Testament for its own sake. He tells us that many variations already existed in his day in different copies. And he preserves many readings which afterwards disappeared from the Bible. It has also to be said that he often quotes the same text differently in different passages, so that it appears probable that he used several copies of the N. T. books, and that these copies differed from each other. If, therefore, as Tischendorf suggests, Origen made a collation of the various texts of the N. T. with which he was acquainted, as he did with his texts of the O. T. in his Hexapla, he had no strong views as to which text was to be followed. He sometimes expresses an opinion as to which is the true reading (pp. 368 sq.), but he does so on grounds which the textual critics of the present day could not approve.
It may be stated here that the translators of Origen in this volume have sought to represent their author’s critical position with regard to Scripture by translating his Scripture quotations from his text. As he used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, many of his quotations from that part of Scripture appear in a form unfamiliar to the English reader. In the New Testament, also, his text is also very different from that which afterwards prevailed in the Church.
The weakness of Origen as an interpreter is his want of historical feeling or of any conception of such a thing as growth or development in revelation. His mind slips incessantly away from the real scenes and events recorded in Scripture, to the ideal region where he conceives that the truths reside which these prefigure. Scripture is to him not a record of actual occurrences which took place as they are narrated, but a storehouse of types of heavenly things, which alone are real. He scoffs at the notion that historical facts should be regarded as the chief outcome of a Scripture narrative (John, book x. 15-17, pp. 389-394). When he does treat the facts as facts he has many a shrewd observation and many a beautiful application. But the facts are to a large extent in his way; they have to give place to something more important. He sees very well how the synoptic narratives clash with that of John; no better demonstration of this need be looked for than he gives in the tenth book of his John; from this, however, he infers not that the books must have had different sources of information, but that the literal meaning of the passages must be altogether disregarded, and their true purport looked for, not in the things of history, but in the things of the Spirit. The water-pots at the feast in Cana (De Principiis), the shoe latchet of the Saviour (John, book vi. 17), the ass and foal (John, book x. 18), each must receive a transcendent application.
It follows from this that the commentaries are deficient in order and sequence. The method which calls the writer to look at every step for spiritual meanings, combined with his own extraordinary fertility of imagination and wealth of matter, makes these books very disconnected. At each point a number of questions suggests itself as to possible meanings; a host of texts is brought at once from every part of Scripture to afford illustration, and these again have to be considered. Very modestly are the questions and themes introduced. The tone is as far as possible from being ex cathedra; it is rather that of a student groping his way, and asking at each step for assistance. And the great mass of the questions thus raised is left, apparently, unanswered. So that the work as a whole is rather a great collection of materials for future consideration than a finished treatise.
Such being the characteristics of Origen’s commentaries, they have by many been regarded as unsuitable for the general reader, and unfavourably compared with those of later writers, to whom the interpretation of Scripture was not weighted with such difficulties as Origen had to contend with. Our author does not carry us along in his commentaries with a stream of golden eloquence; his interests are intellectual more than literary or practical, his work is scientific rather than popular. Perhaps the historical student has more to gain from them than the preacher. But among the pages which witness chiefly to restless intellectual energy and unwearied diligence, there are also many passages of rare and touching beauty, when the writer realizes the greatness of the Christian salvation, or when the heavenly things to the search for which all his labour is devoted shine by their own brightness on his sight.
The Commentaries on John are the earliest work of Christian exegesis which has come down to us, and are therefore placed in this volume before those on Matthew. The first five books on John were written at Alexandria before Origen’s compulsory withdrawal from that city to Cæsarea in 231. In chaps. 4 and 8 of the first book he speaks of this work as being the first fruits of his activity as a writer on Holy Scripture. The sixth book, as he tells us in vi. 1, had been begun at Alexandria, but the manuscript had been left behind, so that a new beginning had to be made at Cæsarea. The work was again interrupted by the persecution of Maximian in 238; the volumes from the twenty-second to the last were written after that date. At the end of the thirty-second volume, which is the last we now possess, the writer has only reached John xiii. 33, but he tells us in his Commentary on Matthew that he has spoken of the two thieves in his work on John. In the time of Eusebius only twenty-two books survived out of the whole number, which seems to have been thirty-nine. We now possess books i., ii., vi., x., xiii., xix., xx., xxviii., xxxii., some of which, however, are not complete, and a few fragments. The thirteenth book begins in the middle of the story of the Samaritan woman. Ambrosius had wished that story to be completed in the twelfth book, but Origen did not like to make his books too long, and on this point disregarded the authority of his mentor. The nineteenth and twentieth books are both occupied with the eighth chapter of John, which, if it was all treated on the same scale, must have occupied two more books in addition to these. The thirty-second book scarcely completes the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel; and if the remaining chapters only occupied seven books, the treatment of these must have been much more condensed.
Two Latin translations of Origen’s John were made in the sixteenth century, one by Ambrosius Ferrarius of Milan from the Venice Codex, the other by Joachim Perionius.
The Commentaries on John and on Matthew are both embraced in several manuscripts. Of those on John, Mr. A. E. Brooke (Texts and Studies, vol. i. No. 4; The Fragments of Heracleon, pp. 1-30; “the MSS. of Origen’s Commentaries on S. John”) enumerates eight or nine. The Munich MS. of the thirteenth century is the source of all the rest. Huet, the first editor (1668), used the Codex Regius (Paris) of the sixteenth century, which is in many passages mutilated and disfigured. The brothers Delarue (1733-1759) used the MSS. Barberinus aud Bodleianus, which are more complete, and Lommatzsch (1831) follows his predecessors. The present translations are from the text of Lommatzsch, which is in many places very defective.1
LETTER OF ORIGEN TO GREGORY.
When and to whom the Learning derived from Philosophy may be of Service for the Exposition of the Holy Scriptures; with a lively Personal Appeal.
This letter to Gregory, afterwards bishop of Cæsarea, and called Thaumaturgus, was preserved in the Philocalia, or collection of extracts from Origen’s works drawn up by Gregory of Nyssa and Basil of Cæsarea. It is printed by Delarue and Lommatzsch in the forefront of their editions of the works. It forms a good preface to the commentaries, as it shows how Origen considered the study of Scripture to be the highest of all studies, and how he regarded scientific learning, in which he was himself a master, as merely preparatory for this supreme learning. Dräseke1 has shown that it was written about 235, when Origen, after having had Gregory as his pupil at Cæsarea for some years, had fled before the persecution under Maximinus Thrax to Cappadocia; while Gregory, to judge from the tenor of this Epistle, had gone to Egypt. The Panegyric on Origen,2 pronounced by Gregory at Cæsarea about 239, when the school had reassembled there after the persecution, shows that the master’s solicitude for his pupil’s true advancement was not disappointed.
GREGORY IS URGED TO APPLY HIS GENTILE LEARNING TO THE STUDY OF SCRIPTURE.
All hail to thee in God, most excellent and reverend Sir, son Gregory, from Origen. A natural quickness of understanding is fitted, as you are well aware, if it be diligently exercised, to produce a work which may bring its owner so far as is possible, if I may so express myself, to the consummation of the art the which he desires to practise, and your natural aptitude is sufficient to make you a consummate Roman lawyer and a Greek philosopher too of the most famous schools. But my desire for you has been that you should direct the whole force of your intelligence to Christianity as your end, and that in the way of production. And I would wish that you should take with you on the one hand those parts of the philosophy of the Greeks which are fit, as it were, to serve as general or preparatory studies for Christianity, and on the other hand so much of Geometry and Astronomy as may be helpful for the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The children of the philosophers speak of geometry and music and grammar and rhetoric and astronomy as being ancillary to philosophy; and in the same way we might speak of philosophy itself as being ancillary to Christianity.
THIS PROCEDURE IS TYPIFIED BY THE STORY OF THE SPOILING OF THE EGYPTIANS.
It is something of this sort perhaps that is enigmatically indicated in the directions God is represented in the Book of Exodus3 as giving to the children of Israel. They are directed to beg from their neighbours and from those dwelling in their tents vessels of silver and of gold, and raiment; thus they are to spoil the Egyptians, and to obtain materials for making the things they are told to provide in connection with the worship of God. For out of the things of which the children of Israel spoiled the Egyptians the furniture of the Holy of Holies was made, the ark with its cover, and the cherubim and the mercy-seat and the gold jar in which the manna, that bread of angels, was stored. These probably were made from the finest of the gold of the Egyptians, and from a second quality, perhaps, the solid golden candlestick which stood near the inner veil, and the lamps on it, and the golden table on which stood the shewbread, and between these two the golden altar of incense. And if there was gold of a third and of a fourth quality, the sacred vessels were made of it. And of the Egyptian silver, too, other things were made; for it was from their sojourn in Egypt that the children of Israel derived the great advantage of being supplied with such a quantity of precious materials for the use of the service of God. Out of the Egyptian raiment probably were made all those requisites named in Scripture in embroidered work; the embroiderers working1 with the wisdom of God,2 such garments for such purposes, to produce the hangings and the inner and outer courts. This is not a suitable opportunity to enlarge on such a theme or to show in how many ways the children of Israel found those things useful which they got from the Egyptians. The Egyptians had not made a proper use of them; but the Hebrews used them, for the wisdom of God was with them, for religious purposes. Holy Scripture knows, however, that it was an evil thing to descend from the land of the children of Israel into Egypt; and in this a great truth is wrapped up. For some it is of evil that they should dwell with the Egyptians, that is to say, with the learning of the world, after they have been enrolled in the law of God and in the Israelite worship of Him. Ader the Edomite,1 as long as he was in the land of Israel and did not taste the bread of the Egyptians, made no idols; but when he fled from the wise Solomon and went down into Egypt, as one who had fled from the wisdom of God he became connected with Pharaoh, marrying the sister of his wife, and begetting a son who was brought up among the sons of Pharaoh. Therefore, though he did go back to the land of Israel, he came back to it to bring division into the people of God, and to cause them to say to the golden calf, “These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” I have learned by experience and can tell you that there are few who have taken of the useful things of Egypt and come out of it, and have then prepared what is required for the service of God; but Ader the Edomite on the other hand has many a brother. I mean those who, founding on some piece of Greek learning, have brought forth heretical ideas, and have as it were made golden calves in Bethel, which is, being interpreted, the house of God. This appears to me to be intended to convey that such persons set up their own images in the Scriptures in which the Word of God dwells, and which therefore are tropically called Bethel. The other image is said in the word to have been set up in Dan. Now the borders of Dan are at the extremities and are contiguous to the country of the heathens, as is plainly recorded in the Book of Jesus, son of Nave. Some of these images, then, are close to the borders of the heathen, which the brothers, as we showed, of Ader have devised.
Do you then, sir, my son, study first of all the divine Scriptures. Study them I say. For we require to study the divine writings deeply, lest we should speak of them faster than we think; and while you study these divine works with a believing and God-pleasing intention, knock at that which is closed in them, and it shall be opened to thee by the porter, of whom Jesus says,1 “To him the porter openeth.” While you attend to this divine reading seek aright and with unwavering faith in God the hidden sense which is present in most passages of the divine Scriptures. And do not be content with knocking and seeking, for what is most necessary for understanding divine things is prayer, and in urging us to this the Saviour says not only,2 “Knock, and it shall be opened to you,” and “Seek, and ye shall find,” but also “Ask, and it shall be given you.” So much I have ventured on account of my fatherly love to you. Whether I have ventured well or not, God knows, and His Christ, and he who has part of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. May you partake in these; may you have an always increasing share of them, so that you may be able to say not only, “We are partakers of Christ,”3 but also “We are partakers of God.”
ORIGEN’S COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.