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HOMIL Y LXII.
MATT. xix. 1.
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings,
He departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judæa beyond Jordan.
Having constantly left Judæa on account of the envy of those men, now He frequents it from this time forth, because the Passion was to be nigh at hand; He goeth not up, however, unto Jerusalem for a while, but into the coasts of Judæa.
And when He was come, great multitudes followed Him, v. 2. and He healed them.
For neither in the teaching by words doth He continue always, nor in the wonderful working of signs, but He doeth now one now the other, variously working the salvation of them that were waiting upon Him and following Him, so as by the miracles to appear, in what He said, a Teacher worthy of belief, and by the teaching of His word to increase the profit from the miracles; and this was to lead them by the hand to the knowledge of God.
But do thou mark, I pray thee, this too, how the disciples pass over whole multitudes with one word, not declaring by name each of them that are healed. For they said not, that such a one, and such another, but that many, teaching us to be unostentatious. But Christ healed, benefitting both them, and by them many others. For the healing of these men's infirmity was to others a foundation for the knowledge of God.
But not so to the Pharisees, but even for this selfsame thing they become more fierce, and come unto Him tempting
840 Vain hope of the Jews to entrap our Lord. HOMIL. Him. For because they could not lay hold of the works that
were doing, they propose to Him questions. For they came unto Him, and tempting Him said, Is it lawful for a man to pul away his wife for every cause?
O folly! They thought to silence Him by their questions, although they had already received certain proof of this power in Him. When at least they argued much about the sabbath, when they said, He blasphemeth, when they said, He hath a devil, when they found fault with His disciples as they were walking in the corn fields, when they argued about unwashen hands, on every occasion having sewed fast their mouths, and shut up their shameless tongue, He thus sent them away. Nevertheless, not even so do they keep off froin Hin. For such is wickedness, such is envy, shameless and bold; though it be put to silence ten thousand times, ten thousand times doth it assault again.
But mark thou, I pray thee, their craft also from the form of their question. For neither did they say unto Him, Thou didst command not to put away a wife, for indeed He had already discoursed about this law; but nevertheless they made no mention of those words; but took occasion from hence, and thinking to make their snare the greater, and beivg minded to drive Him to a necessity of contradicting the Law, they say not, Why didst Thou enact this or that? but as though nothing had been said, they ask, Is it lawful ? expecting that He had forgotten having said it; and being ready if on the one hand He said, “ It is lawful to put away," to bring against Him the things He Himself had spoken, and to say, How then didst Thou affirm the contrary ? but if the same things now again as before, to bring against Him the words of Moses.
What then said He? He said not, Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites ? although afterwards He saith this, but here He speaks not thus. Why can this be? In order that together with His power He might shew forth His gentleness also. For He doth neither always keep silence, lest they should suppose they are hidden; nor doth He always reprove, in order that He may instruct us to bear all things with gentleness.
His proof of the primitive law of Marriage. 841 How then doth He answer them? Have ye not read, that Matt. He Which made them at the beginning, made them male and
XIX. female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father v. 4–6. and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, so that they are no more twain but one flesh? What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
See a teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, shewing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him.
But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many women.
But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He shewed, that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her.
And see how He saith, He Which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, that is, from one root they sprung, and into one body came they together, for the tuain shall be one flesh.
After this, to make it a fearful thing to find fault with this lawgiving, and to confirm the law, He said not,“ Sever not therefore, nor put asunder," but, What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
But if thou put forward Moses, I tell thee of Moses' Lord, and together with this, I rely upon the time also. For God at the beginning made them male and female ; and this law is older, (though it seem to have been now introduced by Me,) and with much earnestness established. For not merely did He bring the woman to the man, but also commanded him to leave father and mother. And neither did He make it a
842 The two one flesh. The Jews' objection. Homil.law for him merely to come to the woman, but also to cleave LXII.
to her, by the form of the language intimating that they might not be severed. And not even with this was He satisfied, but sought also for another greater union, for the twain, He saith, shall be one flesh.
Then after He had recited the ancient law, which was brought in both by deeds and by words, and shewn it to be worthy of respect because of the Giver, with authority after that He Himself too interprets and gives the law, saying, So
that they are no more twain, but one flesh. Like then as évayès to sever flesh is a horrible thing', so also to divorce a wife
is unlawful. And He stayed not at this, but brought in God also by saying, What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder, shewing that the act was both against nature, and against law; against nature, because one flesh is dissevered; against law, because that when God hath joined and commanded it not to be divided, ye conspire to do this.
[2.] What then ought they to have done after this? Ought they not to have held their peace, and to have commended the saying? ought they not to have marvelled at His wisdom? ought they not to have stood amazed at His accordance with the Father? But none of these things do they, but as though they were contending for the Law), they say, How then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? And yet they ought not now to have brought this forward, but rather He to them; but nevertheless He doth not take advantage of them, nor doth He say to them, “ I am not now bound by this,” but He solves this too.
And indeed if He had been an alien from the old Covenant, He would not have striven for Moses, neither would He have argued positively from the things done once for all at the beginning; He would not have studied to shew that His own precepts agreed with those of old.
And indeed Moses had given many other commandments besides, both those about meats, and those about the Sabbath; wherefore then do they no where bring him forward, as here? From a wish to enlist the multitude of the husbands against him. For this was considered a thing indifferent
Our Lord's convincing reason, and new Law. 843 with the Jews, and all used to do so much as this. Accord- Matt.
XIX. ingly it was for this reason that when so many things had been said on the Mount, they remembered this commandment only now.
Nevertheless, unspeakable Wisdom maketh a defence even for these things, and saith, Moses for the hardness of your hearts thus made the law. And not even him doth He suffer to remain under accusation, forasmuch as He had Himself given him the law; but delivers him from the charge, and turns the whole upon their head, as every where He doth.
For again when they were blaming His disciples for plucking the ears of corn, He shews themselves to be guilty; and when they were laying a transgression to their charge as to their not washing their hands, He shews themselves to be the transgressors, and touching the Sabbath also: both every where, and here in like manner.
Then because the saying was hard to bear, and brought on them much blame, He quickly directs back His discourse to that ancient law, saying as He had said before also, But in the beginning it was not so, that is, God by His acts at the beginning ordained the contrary. For in order that they may not say, Whence is it manifest, that for our hardness Moses said this ? hereby again He stoppeth their mouths. For if this were the primary law, and for our good, that other would not have been given at the beginning; God in creating would not have so created, He would not have said such things.
But I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife v. 9. except it be for fornication, and marry another, committeth adultery. For since he had stopped their mouths, He then gives the law with His own authority, like as touching the meats, like as touching the Sabbath.
For with regard to the meats likewise, when He had overcome them, then, and not till then, He declared unto the multitude, that, Not that which goeth in defileth the man'; 1 Matt. and with regard to the Sabbath, when He had stopped their 15, 11. mouths, He saith, Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath day?; and here this selfsame thing.
But what took place there, this happened here also. For 12, 12. as there, when the Jews had been put to silence the disciples