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Almsgiving a mystery, not to be exposed.

959

to display. For our Mysteries too are above all things, a MATT. shewing of God's mercy and loving-kindness. According to His great mercy, He had mercy on us being disobedient.

XXII. 46.

And the first prayer too is full of mercy, when we entreat for the Energumens; and the second again, for others under penance seeking for much mercy; and the third also for ourselves, and this puts forward the innocent children of the people entreating God for mercy. For since we condemn ourselves for sins, for them that have sinned much and deserve to be blamed we ourselves cry; but for ourselves the children; for the imitators of whose simplicity the kingdom of heaven is reserved. For this image shews this, that they who are like those children, lowly and simple, these above all men are able to deliver the guilty by their prayers.

But the Mystery itself, of how much mercy, of how much love to man it is full, the initiated know.

Do thou then, when according to thy power thou art shewing mercy to a man, shut the doors, let the object of thy mercy see it only; but if it be possible, not even he. But if thou set them open, thou art profanely exposing thy mystery.

Consider that very person, whose praise thou seckest, even himself will condemn thee; and if he be a friend, will accuse thee to himself; but if an enemy, he will deride thee unto others also. And thou wilt undergo the opposite of what thou desirest. For thou indeed desirest, that he should call thee, the merciful man; but he will not call thee this, but the vainglorious, the man-pleaser, and other names far more grievous than these.

But if thou shouldest hide it, he will call thee all that is opposite to this; the merciful, the kind. For God suffers it not to be hidden; but if thou conceal it, the other will make it known, and greater will be the admiration, and more abundant the gain. So that even for this very object of being glorified, to make a display is against us; for with respect to the thing unto which we most hasten and press, as to this most especially is this thing against us. For so far from obtaining the credit of being merciful, we obtain even the contrary, and besides this, great is the loss we undergo.

Praise of God alone to be sought.

LXXI.

5.

HOMIL. For every motive then let us abstain from this, and set our love on God's praise alone. For thus shall we both attain to honour here, and enjoy the eternal blessings, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.

960

HOMILY LXXII.

MATT. xxiii. 1-3.

Then spake Jesus to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you do, that do; but do not after their works.

THEN. When? When He had said these things, when He had stopped their mouths; when He had brought them that they should no more dare to tempt Him; when He had shewn their state incurable.

And since He had made mention of the Lord' and 'my Lord,' He recurs again to the Law. And yet the Law said nothing of this kind, but, The Lord thy God is one Lord'. 'Deut.6, But Scripture calls the whole Old Testament the Law.

But these things He saith, shewing by all things His full agreement with Him that begat Him. For if He were opposed, He would have said the opposite about the Law; but now He commands so great reverence to be shewn towards it, that, even when they that teach it are depraved, He charges them to hold to it.

But here He is discoursing about their life and morals, since this was chiefly the cause of their unbelief, their depraved life, and the love of glory. To amend therefore His hearers; that which in the first place most contributes to salvation, not to despise our teachers, neither to rise up against our priests, this doth He command with superabundant earnestness. But He does not only command it, but also Himself doth

962 Our Lord sanctioned authority even in bad men.

HOMIL. it. For though they were depraved, He doth not depose them from their dignity; to them rendering their condemnation. heavier, and to His disciples leaving no cloke for disobedience.

LXXII. 1.

I mean, that lest any one should say, that because my teacher is bad, therefore am I become more remiss, He takes away even this pretext. So much at any rate did He establish their authority, although they were wicked men, as even after so heavy an accusation to say, All whatsoever they command you to do, do. For they speak not their own words, but God's, what He appointed for laws by Moses. And mark how much honour He shewed towards Moses, again shewing His agreement with the Old Testament, since indeed even by this doth He make them objects of reverence. For they sit, He saith, on Moses' seat. For because He was not able to make them out worthy of credit by their life, He doth it from the grounds that were open to Him, from their seat, and their succession from him. But when thou hearest all, do not understand all the Law, as, for instance, the ordinances about meats, those about sacrifices, and the like; for how was He to say so of these things, which He had taken away beforehand? but He meant all things that correct the moral principle, and amend the disposition, and agree with the laws of the New Testament, and suffer them not any more to be under the yoke of the Law.

Wherefore then doth He give these things divine authority, not from the Law of Grace, but from Moses? Becanse it was not yet time, before the Crucifixion, for these things to be plainly declared.

But to me He seems, in addition to what has been said, to be providing for another object, in saying these things. For since He was on the point of accusing them, that He might not seem in the sight of the foolish to set His heart on this authority of theirs, or for enmity to be doing these things, first He removed this thought, and having set himself clear from suspicion, then begins His accusation. And for what intent doth He convict them, and run out into a long discourse against them? To set the multitude on their guard, so that they might not fall into the same sins. For neither is dissuading like pointing out those that have offended; much as recommending what is right, is not like

Yet he rebukes their sins and their hardness.

963

XXIII.

4.

bringing forward those that have done well. For this cause MATT. also He is beforehand in saying, Do not after their works. For, lest they should suppose, because of their listening to them, they ought also to imitate them, He uses this means of correction, and makes what seems to be their dignity a charge against them. For what can be more wretched than a teacher, when the preservation of his disciples is, not to give heed to his life? So that what seemeth to be their dignity, is a most heavy charge against them, when they are shewn to live such a life, as they that imitate are ruined.

For this cause He also falls upon His accusations against them, but not for this only, but that He might shew, that both their former unbelief wherewith they had not believed, and the crucifixion after this, which they dared to perpetrate, were not a charge against Him Who was crucified and disbelieved, but against their perverseness.

But see whence He begins, and whence He aggravates His blame of them. For they say, He saith, and do not. For every one is worthy of blame in transgressing the Law, but especially he that bears the authority of teaching, for doubly and triply doth he deserve to be condemned. For one cause, because he transgresses; for another, that as he ought to amend others, and then halteth, he is worthy of a double punishment, because of his dignity; and in the third place, that he even corrupts the more, as committing such transgression in a teacher's place.

And together with these He mentions also another charge against them, that they are harsh to those accountable to them.

For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, v. 4. and lay them on men's shoulders, but they will not move them with their fingers. He mentions here a twofold wickedness, their requiring great and extreme strictness of life, without any indulgence, from those over whom they rule, and their allowing to themselves great security; the opposite to which the truly good ruler ought to hold; in what concerns himself, to be an unpardoning and severe judge, but in the matters of those whom he rules, to be gentle and ready to make allowances; the contrary to which was the conduct of these men. For such are all they who practise self restraint [2.] in mere words, unpardoning, and grievous to bear, as having no

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