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Blessings of feeding on the Word of God.

LXVIII.

HOMIL. fashion of the men, and the delightfulness of the place, and 5. the sweetness of their manner of life, and the purity of their rule, and the grace of that most beautiful and spiritual song they have for ever infixed in them. They at least who are in continual enjoyment of those havens, thenceforth flee as from a tempest, from the tumults of the multitude.

But not when singing only, and praying, but also when riveted to their books, they are a pleasing spectacle to the beholders. For after they have ended the choir, one takes Isaiah and discourses with him, another converses with the Apostles, and another goes over the labours of other men, and seeks wisdom concerning God, concerning this universe, concerning the things that are seen, concerning the things that are not seen, concerning the objects of sense, and the objects of intellect, concerning the vileness of this present life, and the greatness of that to come.

[5.] And they are fed on a food most excellent, not setting before themselves cooked flesh of beasts; but oracles of God, beyond honey and the honeycomb, a honey marvellous, and far superior to that whereon John fed of old in the wilderness. For this honey no wild bees collect, settling on the flowers, neither do lay it up in hives digesting the dew, but the grace of the Spirit forming it, layeth it up in the souls of the saints, in the place of honeycombs, and hives, and pipes, so that he that will may eat thereof continually in security. These bees then they also imitate, and hover around the honeycombs of those holy books, reaping therefrom great pleasure.

And if thou desirest to learn about their table, be near it, 1épeuyo- and thou shalt see them bursting forth with such things, all μένους. gentle and sweet, and full of a spiritual fragrance. No foul word can those spiritual mouths bring forth, nothing of foolish jesting, nothing harsh, but all worthy of Heaven. One would not be wrong in comparing the mouths of them that crawl about in the market places, and are mad after worldly things, to ditches of some mire; but the lips of these to fountains flowing with honey, and pouring forth pure

streams.

But if any felt displeased that I have called the mouths of the multitude ditches of some mire, let him know that I have

Exhortation to

and see the Monks.

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XXI.

go said it, sparing them very much. For Scripture hath not used MATT. this measure, but a comparison far stronger. For adder's poison, it is said, is under their lips1, and their throat is an 'Ps.140, open sepulchre. But theirs are not so, but full of much 3 and fragrance.

45, 46.

3.

5, 9.

And their state here is like this, but that hereafter what speech can set before us? what thought shall conceive? the portion of Angels, the blessedness unspeakable, the good things untold?

Perchance some are warmed now, and have been moved to a longing after this good rule of life. But what is the profit, when whilst ye are here only, ye have this fire; but when ye have gone forth, ye extinguish the flame, and this desire fades. How then, in order that this may not be? While this desire is warm in you, go your way unto those Angels, kindle it more. For the account that we give will not be able to set thee on fire, like as the sight of the things. Say not, I will speak with my wife, and I will settle my affairs first. This delay is the beginning of remissness. Hear, how one desired to bid farewell to them at his house, and 21 Kings the Prophet suffered him not. And why do I say, to bid 19, 20. farewell? The disciple desired to bury his father, and 3 Mat.8, Christ allowed not so much as this. And yet what thing seems to thee to be so necessary as the funeral of a father? but not even this did He permit.

21. 22.

Why could this have been? Because the devil is at hand fierce, desiring to find some secret approach; and though it be but a little hindrance or delay he takes hold of, he works a great remissness.

4

5, 7.

Therefore one adviseth, Put not off from day to day*. Ecclus. For thus shalt thou be able to succeed in most things, thus also shall the things in thine house be well ordered for thee. For seek ye, it is said, the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. For if we establish in great 5 Matt. security them that overlook their own interests, and prefer 6, 33. the care of ours, much more doth God, Who even without these things hath a care for us, and provides for us.

Be not thoughtful then about thine interests, but leave them to God. For if thou art thoughtful about them, thou art thoughtful as a man; but if God provide, He provides as

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God will provide for us if we seek things above.

LXVIII.

HOMIL. God. Be not so thoughtful about them as to let go the 5. greater things, since then He will not much provide for them. In order therefore that He may fully provide for them, leave them to Him alone. For if thou also thyself takest them in hand, having let go the things spiritual, He will not make much provision for them.

In order then that both these things may be well disposed for thee, and that thou mayest be freed from all anxiety, cleave to the things spiritual, overlook the things of the world; for in this way thou shalt have earth also with heaven, and shalt attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LXIX.

MATT. xxii. 1—14.

And Jesus answered and spake again in parables. The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son; and sent forth his servants to call them which were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. And he said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few chosen.

SEEST thou both in the former parable and in this, the difference between the Son and the servants? Seest thou

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928 Occasion and import of Parable of the Marriage-feast.

LXIX.

HOMIL. at once the great affinity between both parables, and the great difference also? For this also indicates God's long-suffering, and His great providential care, and the Jews' ingratitude.

1.

But this parable hath something also more than the other. For it proclaims beforehand both the casting out of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; and it indicates together with this also the strictness of the life required, and how great the punishment appointed for the careless.

And well is this placed after the other. For since He had said, It shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, He declares next to what kind of nation; and not this only, but He also again sets forth His providential care towards the Jews as past utterance. For there He appears before His crucifixion bidding them; but here even after He is slain, He still urges them, striving to win them over. And when they deserved to have suffered the most grievous punishment, then He both presses them to the marriage, and honours them with the highest honour. And see how both there He calls not the Gentiles first, but the Jews, and here again. But as there, when they would not receive Him, but even slew Him when He was come, then He gave away the vineyard; thus here too, when they were not willing to be present at the marriage, then He called others.

What then could be more ungrateful than they, when being bidden to a marriage they rush away? For who would not choose to come to a marriage, and that a King's marriage, and of a King making a marriage for a Son?

And wherefore is it called a marriage? one may say. That thou mightest learn God's tender care, His yearning towards us, the cheerfulness of the state of things, that there is nothing sorrowful there, nor sad, but all things are full of spiritual joy. Therefore also John calls Him a Bridegroom, therefore 12 Cor. Paul again saith, For I have espoused you to one husband'; 11, 2. and, This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ 2 Eph. 5, and the Church.

32.

Why then is not the Bride said to be espoused to Him, but to the Son? Because She that is espoused to the Son, is espoused to the Father. For it is indifferent in Scripture that the one or the other should be said, because of the 3 ἀπαρda identity of the substance.

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τον.

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