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Danger of falling back from what is good.
parable. And if He adds, that, So the last shall be first and MATT. the first last; for many are called, but few chosen, marvel 1-16. not. For not as inferring it from the parable doth He say this, but His meaning is this, that like as this came to pass, so shall that come to pass. For here indeed the first did not become last, but all received the same contrary to hope and expectation. But as this result took place contrary to hope and contrary to expectation, and they that came before were equalled by them that followed, so shall that also come to pass which is more than this, and more strange, I mean, that the last should come to be even before the first, and that the first should be after these. So that that is one thing, and this another.
But He seems to me to say these things, darkly hinting at the Jews, and amongst the believers at those who at first shone forth, but afterwards neglected virtue, and fell back; and those others again that have risen from vice, and have shot beyond many. For we see such changes taking place both with respect to faith and practice.
Wherefore I entreat you let us use much diligence both to stand in the right faith, and to shew forth an excelleut life. For unless we add also a life suitable to our faith, we shall suffer the extremest punishment.
And this the blessed Paul shewed even from times of old, when he said, that 1 They did all eat the same spiritual meat, 11 Cor. and did all drink the same spiritual drink: and added, that 10, 3. 4. they were not saved; for they were overthrown in the wilderAnd Christ declared it even in the Evangelists, when He brought in some that had cast out devils and prophesied, and are led away to punishment. And all His parables also, as that of the virgins, that of the net, that of the thorns, that of the tree not bringing forth fruit, demand virtue in our works. For concerning doctrines He discourses seldom, for neither doth the subject need labour, but of life often or rather every where, for the war about this is continual, wherefore also so is the labour.
And why I do speak of the whole code. For even a part of it overlooked brings upon one great evils; as, for instance, almsgiving overlooked casts into hell them that have come short in it; and yet this is not the whole of virtue, but a part
Full measure of almsgiving &c. required.
HOMIL. thereof. But nevertheless both the virgins were punished for not having this, and the rich man was for this cause tormented, and they that have not fed the hungry, are for this condemned with the devil. Again, not to revile is a very small part of it, nevertheless this too casts out them that have not 1 Matt. attained to it. For he that saith to his brother, Thou fool, 5, 22. shall be in danger of hell fire. Again, even continence itself is a part, but nevertheless, without this no one shall see the Lord. For, Follow peace, it is said, and holiness3, without which no man shall see the Lord. And humility 3 ἁγιασudv, cf. too in like manner is a part of virtue; but nevertheless though any one should fulfil other good works, but have not attained to this, he is unclean with God. And this is manifest from the Pharisee, who though abounding with numberless good works, by this lost all.
1 Thess. 4, 3.
But I have also something more than these things to say again. I mean, that not only one of them overlooked shuts Heaven against us, but though it be done, yet not in due perfection and abundance, it produces the self-same effect Matt. again. For except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. So that though thou give alms, but not more than they, thou shalt not enter in.
And how much did they bestow in alms? one may ask. For this very thing, I am minded to say now, that they who do not give, may be roused to give, and they that give, may not pride themselves, but may make increase of their gifts. What then did they give? A tenth of all their possessions, and again another tenth, and after this a third, so that they almost gave away the third part, for three the third part, for three tenths put together make up this. And together with these, first fruits, and first born, and other things besides, as, for instance, the offerings for sins, those for purification, those at feasts, those in the Jubilee, those by the cancelling of debts, and the dismissals of servants, and the lendings that were clear of usury. But if he who gave the third part of his goods, or rather the half, (for those being put together with these are the half,, if then he who is giving the half, achieves no great thing, he who doth not bestow so much as the tenth, of what shall he be worthy? With reason He said, There are few that be saved.
Low practice of others no excuse for us.
[5.] Let us not, then, despise the care of our life. For if one MATT. portion of it despised brings so great a destruction, when on 16. every hand we are subject to the sentence of condemnation, how shall we escape the punishment? and what manner of penalty shall we not suffer? and what manner of hope of salvation have we, one may ask, if each of the things we have numbered, threatens us with hell? I too say this; nevertheless, if we give heed we may be saved, preparing the medicines of almsgiving, and attending to our wounds.
For oil does not so strengthen a body, as benevolence at once strengthens a soul, and makes it invincible to all and impregnable to the devil. For wheresoever he may seize us, his hold then slips, this oil not suffering his grasp to fix on our back.
With this oil therefore let us anoint ourselves continually. For it is the cause of health, and a supply of light, and a source of cheerfulness. "But such a one," thou wilt say, "hath talents of gold so many and so many, and gives away nothing." And what is that to thee? For thus shalt thou appear more worthy of admiration, when in poverty thou art more munificent than he. It was on this ground Paul marvelled at the Macedonians, not because they gave, but because even though they were in poverty they gave'.
Look not then at these, but at the common Teacher of all, Who had not where to lay His head. And why, you say, Mat. 8, doth not this and that person do so? Do not judge another, but deliver thyself from the charge against thee. Since the punishment is greater when thou at the same time blamest others, and thyself doest not, when judging other men, thou art again thyself also subject to the same judgment. For if even them who do right He permits not to judge others, much more will He not permit offenders. Let us not therefore judge others, neither let us look to others who are taking their ease, but unto Jesus, and from thence let us draw our examples.
Why have I been thy Benefactor? Why! did I redeem thee, that thou lookest to me? It is Another Who hath bestowed these things on thee. Why dost thou let go thy Master, and look unto thy fellow-servant? Heardest thou not Him saying, Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in Matt. 11, 29. heart? And again, He that would be first amongst you, let
872 The examples to look to are those of Saints.
HOMIL. him be servant of all: and again, 'Even as the Son of Man 6. came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. And after Matt. these things again, lest taking offence at them who are remiss 20, 27. amongst thy fellow-servants, thou continue in contemptuousness; to draw thee off from that, He saith, I have made 13, 15. Myself an example to you, that as I have done, ye should do
also. But hast thou no teacher of virtue amongst those persons that are with thee, neither such a one as to lead thee on to these things? More abundant then will be the praise, the commendation greater, when not even being supplied with teachers thou hast become one to be marvelled at.
For this is possible, nay very easy, if we be willing; and this they shew, who first duly performed these things, as, for instance, Noah, Abraham, Melchizedeck, Job, and all the men like them. To them it is needful to look every day, and not unto these, whom ye never cease emulating, and passing about their names in your assemblies. For nothing else do I hear you saying every where, but such words as these; "Such a one has bought so many acres of land, such a one is rich, he is building." Why dost thou stare, O man, at what is without? Why dost thou look to others? If thou art minded to look to others, look to them that do their duty, to them that approve themselves, to them that carefully fulfil the law, not to those that have become offenders, and are in dishonour. For if thou look to these, thou wilt gather hence many evil things, falling into remissness, into pride, into condemnation of others; but if thou reckon over them that do right, thou wilt lead thyself on unto humility, unto diligence, unto compunction, unto the blessings that are beyond number.
Hear what the Pharisee suffered, because he let pass them that do right, and looked to him that had offended; hear and fear.
See how David became one to be marvelled at, because Ps. 39, he looked to his ancestors that were noted for virtue. 3 For
I am a stranger, said he, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. For this man, and all that are like him, let pass them that had sinned, and thought of those who had approved themselves.
This do thou also. For thou art not set to judge of the
Our safety is in judging ourselves strictly.
negligences of which others have been guilty, nor to enquire MATT. into the sins which others are committing; thou art required 16. to do judgment on thyself, not on others. For if we judged 1 Cor. ourselves, it is said, we should not be judged, but when we 11, 31. are judged, we are chastened of the Lord. But thou hast reversed the order, of thyself requiring no account of offences great or small, but being strict and curious about the offences of others.
Let us no more do this, but leaving off this disorderly way, let us set up a tribunal in ourselves for the sins committed by ourselves, becoming ourselves accusers, and judges, and executioners for our offences.
But if it be thy will to be busy about the things of other men also, busy thyself about their good works, not their sins, that both by the memory of our negligences and by our emulation for the good works they have done, [and by setting before ourselves the judgment-seat from which no prayers can deliver, wounded each day by our conscience as by a kind of goad',] we may lead ourselves on to humility, and a greater diligence, and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom be to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, glory, might, honour, now and always, and world without end. Amen.
The part within brackets is omitted in two Manuscripts.