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Warnings of Holy Writ against first steps in evil.

LXXXVI.

HOMIL. But this comes to pass, when any hold fast their own prejudices contrary to what is approved by the Scriptures. Those also among the Corinthians thought it was a part of perfection, to eat of all things without distinction, even of things forbidden, but nevertheless this was not of perfection, but of the utmost lawlessness. Wherefore also Paul earnestly reproves them, and pronounces them to be worthy of extreme punishment. Others again think it a sign of piety to wear long hair. And yet this is amongst the things forbidden, and carries with it much disgrace.

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Again, others follow after excessive sorrow for their sins as a profitable thing; yet it also comes of the devil's wiles, and Judas shewed it; at least in consequence thereof he even hanged himself. Therefore Paul again was in fear about him that had committed fornication, lest any such thing should befal him, and persuaded the Corinthians 12 Cor. speedily to deliver him, lest1 perhaps such a one should be 2, 7. swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Then, indicating that such a result cometh of the snares of that [wicked] one, he ib.v.11. saith, Lest Satan should get an advantage over us, for we are not ignorant of his devices, meaning that he assails us with much craft. Since if he fought against us plainly and openly, the victory would be ready and easy; or rather even now, if we be vigilant, victory will be ready. For indeed against each one of those ways God hath armed us.

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22.

For to persuade us not to despise even these little things, 3 Mat. 5, hear what warning He gives us, saying, He that saith to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell; and he 4ib.5.28. that hath looked with unchaste eyes is a complete adulterer'. And on them that laugh he pronounces a woe, and every where He removes the beginnings and the seeds of evil, and

5 Matt. saith we have to give an account of an idle words. Therefore 12, 36. also Job applied a remedy even for the thoughts of his 6Job1,5. children.

7 Jer. 8,

4.

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But about not despairing, it is said, 'Doth he fall, and 8 Ezek. not arise? Doth he turn away, and not return? and, I do 18, 23. not will the death of the sinner, so much as that he should

9 Ps. 95, be converted and live: and,' To-day if ye will hear His voice:

7.

and many other such things, both sayings and examples are set in the Scripture. And in order not to be ruined under

Lust and coveting to be eschewed even in thought. 1135

the guise of godly fear, hear Paul saying, Lest perhaps such MATT. a one be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow.

XXVII. 26.

Knowing therefore these things, let us set for a barrier in all the ways that pervert the unwary the wisdom which is drawn from the Scriptures. Neither say, Why, what is it, if I gaze curiously at a beautiful woman? For if thou shouldest commit the adultery in the heart, soon thou wilt venture on that in the flesh. Say not, Why, what is it if I should pass by this poor man? For if thou pass this man by, thou wilt also the next; if him, then the third.

Neither again say, Why, what is it, if I should desire my neighbour's goods. For this, this caused Ahab's ruin; although he would have paid a price, yet he took it from one unwilling. For a man ought not to buy by force, but on persuasion. But if he, who would have paid the fair price, was so punished, because he took from one unwilling, he who doeth not so much as this, and taketh by violence from the unwilling, and that when living under grace, of what punishment will he not be worthy?

In order therefore that we be not punished, keeping ourselves quite pure from all violence and rapine, and guarding against the sources of sins together with the sins themselves, let us with much diligence give heed to virtue; for thus shall we also enjoy the good things eternal by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory world without end. Amen.

1 ἐχό

ρευεν.

HOMILY LXXXVII.

MATT. XXVii. 27-29.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers; and they stripped Him, and put on Him a purple robe; and when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it on His Head, and a reed in His Right Hand; and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of

the Jews.

As though on some signal the devil then 'was entering in triumph into all. For, be it that Jews pining with envy and jealousy were mad against Him, as to the soldiers, whence was it, and from what sort of cause? Is it not quite clear that it was the devil who was then entering in fury into the hearts of all? For indeed they made a pleasure of their insults against Him, being a savage and ruthless set. I mean, that, when they ought to have been awestruck, when they ought to have wept, which even the people did, this they did not, but, on the contrary, were despiteful, and insolent; perhaps themselves also seeking to please the Jews, or it may be doing all in conformity to their own evil

nature.

And the insults were different, and varied. For that Divine Head at one time they buffeted, at another they insulted with the crown of thorns, at another they smote with the reed, men unholy and accursed!

What plea shall we have after this for being moved by injuries, after Christ suffered these things? For what was done was the utmost limit of insolence. For not one mem

XXVII.

Extreme insults. The Church not ashamed of them. 1137 ber, but the whole entire Body throughout was made an MATT. object of insolence; the Head through the crown, and the 25. reed, and the buffeting; the Face, being spit upon; the Cheeks, being smitten with the palms of the hands; the whole Body by the stripes, by being wrapped in the robe, and by the pretended worship; the Hand by the reed, which they gave Him to hold instead of a sceptre; the Mouth again by the offering of the vinegar. What could be more grievous than these things? What more insulting?

For the things that were done go beyond all language. For as though they were afraid lest they should seem to fall short at all in the crime, having killed the Prophets with their own hands, but This Man with the sentence of a judge, so they do in every deed; and make it the work of their own hands, and condemn and sentence both among themselves and before Pilate, saying, His Blood be on us and v. 25. upon our children, and insult Him, and do despite unto Him themselves, binding Him, leading Him away, and render themselves authors of the spiteful acts done by the soldiers, and nail Him to the Cross, and revile Him, and spit at Him, and deride Him. For Pilate contributed nothing in this matter, but they themselves did every thing, becoming accusers, and judges, and executioners, and all.

And these things are read amongst us, when all meet together. For that the heathens may not say, that ye display to people and nations the things that are glorious and illustrious, such as the signs and the miracles, but that ye hide these which are matters of reproach; the grace of the Spirit hath brought it to pass, that in the full festival, when men in multitude and women are present, and all, as one may say, at the great Eve of the Passover, then all these things should be read; when the whole world is present, then are all these acts proclaimed with a clear voice. And these being read, and made known to all, Christ is believed to be God, and, besides all the rest, is worshipped, even because of this, that He vouchsafed to stoop so much for us as actually to suffer these things, and to teach us all virtue.

These things then let us read continually; for indeed great is the gain, great the advantage to be thence obtained. For when thou seest Him, both by gestures and by deeds,

1138 The Jews used all means to dishonour our Lord.

LXXXVII.

HOMIL. mocked and worshipped with so much derision, and beaten and suffering the utmost insults, though thou be very stone, thou wilt become softer than any wax, and wilt cast out of thy soul all haughtiness.

Hear therefore also what follows. For after they had mocked Him, they led Him to crucify Him, it is said, and when they had stripped Him, they took His garments, and sat down and watched Him, when He should die. And they divide His garments amongst them, which sort of thing is done in the case of very vile and abject criminals, and such as have no one belonging to them, and are in utter desolation.

v. 31.

They parted the garments, by which such great miracles were done. But they wrought none now, Christ restraining His unspeakable power. And this was no small addition of insult. For as to one base and abject, as I said, and the vilest of all men; so do they dare to do all things. To the thieves at any rate they did nothing of the kind, but to Christ they dare it all. And they crucified Him in the midst of them, that He might share in their reputation.

19, 30.

2 Ps. 69,

And they gave Him gall to drink, and this to insult Him, but He would not. But another saith, that having tasted it, i John He said, 'It is finished. And what meaneth, It is finished? The prophecy was fulfilled concerning Him. For they gave Me, it is said, gall for My meat, and for My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink. But neither doth that Evangelist indicate that He drank, for merely to taste, differs not from not drinking, but hath one and the same signification.

21.

But nevertheless not even here doth their contumely stop, but after having stripped and crucified Him, and offered Him vinegar, they proceed still further, and beholding Him impaled upon the cross, they revile Him, both they themselves and the passers by; and this was more grievous than all, that on the charge of being an impostor and deceiver He suffered these things, and as a boaster, and vainly pretending what He said. Therefore they both crucified Him publicly, that they might make a show of it in the sight of all; and therefore also they did it by the hands of the soldiers, that these things being perpetrated even by a public tribunal, the insult might be the greater.

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