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MATT. Xviii. 7.

Woe unto the world because of offences: for it must needs be that offences come: but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.

"AND if it must needs be that offences come," (some one of our adversaries may perchance say,) why doth He lament over the world, when He ought rather to afford succour, and to stretch forth His hand in its behalf? For this were the part of a "Physician, and a Protector, whereas the other might be looked for even from any ordinary person."

What then could we possibly say, in answer to so shameless a tongue? nay what dost thou seek for equal to this healing care of His? For indeed being God He became Man for thee, and took the form of a slave, and underwent all extremities, and left undone none of those things which it concerned Him to do. But inasmuch as unthankful men were nothing the better for this, He laments over them, for that after so much fostering care they continued in their unsoundness.

It was like as if over the sick man, that had had the advantage of much attendance, and who had not been willing to obey the rules of the physician, any one were to lament and say, "Woe to such a man from his infirmity, which he has increased by his own remissness." But in that case indeed there is no advantage from the bewailing, but here this too is a kind of healing treatment to foretel what would be, and to lament it. For many oftentimes, though, when advised, they were nothing profited, yet, when mourned for, they amended.

Offences must come, but may be overcome.



HOMIL. For which reason most of all He used the word Woe, thoroughly to rouse them, and to make them in earnest, and to work upon them to be wakeful. And at the same time He shews forth the good will He had towards those very men and His own mildness, that He mourns for them even when gainsaying, not taking mere disgust at it, but correcting them, both with the mourning, and with the prediction, so as to win them over.

But how is this possible? he may say. For if it must needs be that offences come, how is it possible to escape these? Because that the offences come indeed must needs be, but that men should perish is not altogether of necessity. Like as though a physician should say, (for nothing hinders our using the same illustration again,) It must needs be that this disease should come on, but it is not a necessary consequence that he who gives heed should be of course destroyed by the disease. And this He said, as I mentioned, to awaken together with the others His disciples. For that they may not slumber, as sent unto peace and unto untroubled life, He shews many wars close upon them, from without, from within. Declaring this, Paul said, Without were



12 Cor. fightings, within were fears'; and, In perils among false brethren; and in his discourse to the Milesians too He said, Also of you shall some arise speaking perverse things3; and He

2 íb. 11, 26.

3 Acts

20, 30. Himself too said, The man's foes shall be they of his own
Matt. household. But when He said, It must needs be, it is not as
10, 36.
taking away the power of choosing for themselves, nor the
freedom of the moral principle, nor as placing man's life
under any absolute constraint of circumstances, that He saith
these things, but He foretels what would surely be; and
this Luke hath set forth in another form of expression, It is
5 Luke impossible but that offences should come3.

17, 1. 6 σκάνδαλα

But what are the offences? The hindrances on the right way. Thus also do those on the stage call them that are skilled in those matters, them that distort their bodies.

It is not then His prediction that brings the offences; far from it; neither because He foretold it, therefore doth it take place; but because it surely was to be, therefore He foretold it; since if those who bring in the offences had not been minded to do wickedly, neither would the offences have

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Why they are not taken out of the way.



come; and if they had not been to come, neither would they MATT. have been foretold. But because those men did evil, and 7. were incurably diseased, the offences came, and He foretels that which is to be.

But if these men had been kept right, it may be said, and there had been no one to bring in an offence, would not this saying have been convicted of falsehood? By no means, for neither would it have been spoken. For if all were to have been kept right, He would not have said, it must needs be that they come, but because He foreknew they would be of themselves incorrigible, therefore He said, the offences will surely come.

And wherefore did He not take them out of the way? it may be said. Why, wherefore should they have been taken out of the way? For the sake of them that are hurt? But not thence is the ruin of them that are hurt, but from their own remissness. And the virtuous prove it, who, so far from being injured thereby, are even in the greatest degree profited, such as was Job, such as was Joseph, such as were all the righteous, and the Apostles. But if many perish, it is from their own slumbering. But if it were not so, but the ruin was the effect of the offences, all must have perished. And if there are those who escape, let him who doth not escape impute it to himself. For the offences, as I have said, awaken, and render more quicksighted, and sharper, not only him that is preserved; but even him that hath fallen into them, if he rise up again quickly, for they render him more safe, and make him more difficult to overcome; so that if we be watchful, no small profit do we reap from hence, even to be continually awake. For if when we have enemies, and when so many dangers are pressing upon us, we sleep, what should we be if living in security. Nay, if thou wilt, look at the first man. For if having lived in Paradise a short time, perchance not so much as a whole day, and having enjoyed delights, he drove on to such a pitch of wickedness, as even to imagine an equality with God, and to account the deceiver a benefactor, and not to keep to one commandment; if he had lived the rest of his life also without affliction, what would he not have done?

[2.] But when we say these things, they make other

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