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Wretched effects of avarice on the soul.
thee into a more grievous punishment. For many houses MATT. hath this lust overthrown, and fierce wars hath it stirred up, 27-29. and compelled men to end their lives by a violent death; and before these dangers it ruins the nobleness of the soul, and is wont often to make him that hath it cowardly, and unmanly, and rash, and false, and calumnious, and ravenous, and over-reaching, and all the worst things.
But seeing perhaps the brightness of the silver, and the multitude of the servants, and the beauty of the buildings, the court paid in the market-place, art thou bewitched thereby? What remedy then may there be for this evil wound? If thou consider how these things affect thy soul, how dark, and desolate, and foul they render it, and how ugly; if thou reckon with how many evils these things were acquired, with how many labours they are kept, with how many dangers: or rather they are not kept unto the end, but when thou hast escaped the attempts of all, death coming on thee is often wont to remove these things into the hand of thine enemies, and goeth and taketh thee with him destitute, drawing after thee none of these things, save the wounds and the sores only, which the soul received from these, before its departing. When then thou seest any one resplendent outwardly with raiment and large attendance, lay open his conscience, and thou shalt see many a cobweb within, and much dust. Consider Paul, Peter. Consider John, Elias, or rather the Son of God Himself, Who hath not where to lay His head. Be an imitator of Him, and of His servants, and imagine to thyself the unspeakable riches of these.
But if having obtained a little sight by these, thou shouldest be darkened again, as in any shipwreck when a storm hath come on, hear the declaration of Christ, which affirms, that it is impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And against this declaration set the mountains, and the earth, and the sea; and all things, if thou wilt, suppose to be gold; for thou shalt see nothing equal to the1Tậ loss arising to thee from thence. And thou indeed makest dyw mention of acres of land, so many and so many, and of houses ten or twenty or even more, and of baths as many, and of slaves a thousand, or twice as many, and of chariots fastened with silver and overlaid with gold; but I say this, that if each one of you that are rich were to leave this
860 Misery of Heaven lost shewn from disappointed avarice.
HOMIL. poverty, (for these things are poverty compared with what I 4. am about to say,) and were possessed of a whole world, and each of them had as many men, as are now every where on land and sea, and each a world both sea and land, and every where buildings, and cities, and nations, and from every side instead of water, instead of fountains, gold flowed up for him, I would not say those who are thus rich are worth three farthings, when they are cast out of the kingdom.
For if now aiming at riches that perish, when they miss them, they are tormented, if they should obtain a perception of those unspeakable blessings, what then will suffice for consolation for them? There is nothing. Tell me not then of the abundance of their possessions, but consider how great loss the lovers of this abundance undergo in consequence thereof, for these things losing Heaven, and being in the same state, as if any one after being cast out of the highest honour in kings' courts, having a dung heap, were to pride himself on that. For the storing up of money differs nothing from that, or rather that is even the better. For that is serviceable both for husbandry, and for heating a bath, and for other such uses, but the buried gold for none of these things. And would it were merely useless; but as it is, it kindles moreover many furnaces for him that hath it, unless he use it rightly; countless evils at least spring therefrom.
Therefore they that are without used to call the love of money the citadel of evils; but the blessed Paul spake much 11 Tim. better, and more vividly, pronouncing it 'the root of all evils. 6, 10. Considering then all these things, let us emulate the things worthy of emulation, not gorgeous buildings, not costly estates, but the men that have much confidence towards God, those that have riches in Heaven, the owners of those treasures, them that are really rich, them that are poor for Christ's sake, that we may attain unto the good things of eternity by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom be unto the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, glory, might, honour, now and always and world without end. Amen.
a Mr. Field cites Stobæus, p. 130, 52. of Bion, and Diog. Laert. vi. 50. of Diogenes the Cynic, noting that both
say unтрóжоλis, not àкpóñoλis. See Adnot. p. 133.
MATT. xix. 27.
Then answered Peter, and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?
ALL which? O blessed Peter; the rod? the net? the boat? the craft? These things dost thou tell me of, as all? Yea, saith he, but not for display do I say these things, but in order that by this question I may bring in the multitude of the poor. For since the Lord had said, If thou wilt be. 21. perfect, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; lest any one of the poor should say, What then? if I have no possessions, can I not be perfect? Peter asks, that thou, the poor man, mayest learn, that thou art made in no respect inferior by this: Peter asks, that thou mayest not learn from Peter, and doubt, (for indeed he was imperfect as yet, and void of the Spirit,) but that, having received the declaration from Peter's Master, thou mayest be confident.
For like as we do, (we make things our own often when speaking of the concerns of others,) so did the Apostle, when he put to Him this question in behalf of all the world. Since that at least he knew with certainty his own portion, is manifest from what had been said before; for he that had already received the keys of the Heavens, much more might feel confidence about the things hereafter.
But mark also how exactly his reply is according to Christ's demand. For He had required of the rich man these two things, to give that he had to the poor, and to
The promises conditional on obedience.
HOMIL. follow Him. Wherefore he also expresses these two things, to forsake, and to follow. For behold we have forsaken all, saith he, and have followed Thee. For the forsaking was done for the sake of following, and the following was rendered easier by the forsaking, and made them feel confidence. and joy touching the forsaking.
What then saith He? Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the Regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. What then, one may say, shall Judas sit there? By no means. How, then, doth He say, Ye shall sit on twelve thrones? how shall the terms of the promise be fulfilled?
Hear how, and on what principle. There is a law ordained of God, recited by Jeremiah the Prophet to the Jews, Jer. 18, and in these words. At what instant I shall speak a sentence concerning a nation and kingdom, to pluck up and destroy; if that nation turn from their evil deeds, I also will repent of the evils, which I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and kingdom to build and to plant it; and if they do evil in My sight, that they obey not My voice, I also will repent of the good, which I said I would do unto them.
For the same custom do I observe with respect to the good things as well, saith He. For though I spake of building up, should they shew themselves unworthy of the promise, I will no longer do it. Which sort of thing was done with respect to man upon his creation, For the dread
2 Gen. 9, of you, it is said, and the fear of you shall be on the wild beasts, and it came not to pass, for he proved himself unworthy of the sovereignty, even as did Judas also.
For in order that neither at the denunciations of punishment any men should despair, and become more hardened, nor by the promises of good things be rendered causelessly more remiss, He remedies both these evils, by that which I have before mentioned, saying in this way: Though I should threaten, do not despair; for thou art able to repent, and to reverse the denunciation, like the Ninevites. Though I should promise any good thing, grow not remiss because of the promise. For shouldest thou appear unworthy, the
Temporal promises given first to the imperfect.
fact of my having promised will not advantage thee, but will MATT. rather bring punishment. For I promise thee being worthy.
Therefore even then in His discourse with His disciples He did not promise to them simply, for neither did He say, you, only, but added, which have followed Me, that He might both cast out Judas, and draw towards Him those that should come afterwards. For neither to them only was it said, nor to Judas any more, when he had become unworthy.
Now to the disciples He promised things to come, saying, Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, for they were now of a higher stamp, and sought after none of the things of the present world, but to the rest He promises also what are here.
For every one, He saith, that hath forsaken brethren, or v. 29. sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, or house, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold in this world, and shall inherit everlasting life.
For lest any after having heard the word "ye," should suppose this a thing peculiar to the disciples, (I mean now the enjoying the greatest and first honours in the things to come,) He extended the word, and spread the promise over the whole earth, and from the things present establishes the things to come also. And to the disciples also at the beginning, when they were in a more imperfect state, He reasoned from the things present. For when He drew them from the sea, and took them from their trade, and commanded them to forsake the ships, He made mention not of Heaven, not of thrones, but of the things here, saying, I will make you fishers of men; but when He had wrought them to be of higher views, then after that He discourses of the things to come also.
[2.] But what is, Judging the twelve tribes of Israel? This is, condemning them. For they are not surely to sit as judges, but like as He said the Queen of the South should condemn that generation, and the Ninevites shall condemn them; so now these also. Therefore He said not, the nations, and the world, but the tribes of Israel. For since both the Jews alike and the Apostles had been brought up under the same laws, and customs, and polity; when the Jews said, that for this cause they could not believe in Christ, because the Law forbad to receive His commandments, by bringing forward