Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Scripture examples of humility in secular life.

969

XXIII.

could they be lifted up at any time? For there is great MATT. equality amongst them, wherefore also there is much facility 11. 12. for virtue.

For by these are they of an inferior sort better instructed, than if they were compelled to give up the first place to them.

For like as the impetuous man derives instruction from him that is smitten, and submits to it; so the ambitious from him that claims not glory, but despises it. This they do there abundantly, and as the strife is great with us to obtain the first place, so great is it with them not to obtain it, but utterly to refuse it; and great is their earnest desire who shall have the advantage in honouring, not in being honoured.

And besides, even their very employments persuade them to practise moderation, and not to be high-swollen. For who, I pray thee, digging in the earth, and watering, and planting, or making baskets, or weaving sackcloth, or practising any other handy works, will ever be proud? Who dwelling in poverty and wrestling with hunger, will ever be sick of this disease? There is not one. Therefore humility

is

easy to them. And like as here, it is a hard thing to be lowly-minded, for the multitude of them who applaud and admire us, so there it is exceedingly easy.

And that man gives heed only to the wilderness, and sees birds flying, and trees waving, and a breeze blowing, and streams rushing through glens. Whence then should he be lifted up who dwells in solitude so great?

1

Not however that therefore we have from this an excuse, in that we are proud when living in the midst of men. For surely Abraham, when amidst Canaanites, said, I am but dust and ashes'; and David, when in the midst of camps, Gen. I am a worm, and no man2; and the Apostle, in the midst 18, 27. 2 or, of the world, I am not meet to be called an Apostle'. What 'courts.' Ps. 22, comfort shall we have then; what plea, when even, having 6. such great examples, we do not practise moderation? For even 1 Cor. as they are worthy of countless crowns, having been the first that went the way of virtue, even so are we deserving of countless punishments, who not even after those that are departed, and are set before us in books, no nor even after

15, 9.

970

Invitation to hear and to see holy examples.

HOMIL. these that are living, and held in admiration through their LXXII. deeds, are drawn on to the like emulation.

4.

For what couldest thou say, for not being amended? Art thou ignorant of letters, and hast not looked into the Scriptures that thou mightest learn the virtues of them of old? To say the truth, this is itself blameworthy, when the church is constantly standing open, not to enter in, and partake of those sacred streams.

However, although thou know not the departed by the Scriptures, these living men thou oughtest to see. But is there no one to lead thee? Come to me, and I will shew thee the places of refuge of these holy men; come and learn thou of them something useful. Shining lamps are these in every part of the earth; as walls are they set about the cities. For this cause have they occupied the deserts, that they may instruct thee to despise the tumults in the midst of the world.

For they, as being strong, are able even in the midst of the raging of the waters to enjoy a calm; but thou, who art leaky on every side, hast need of tranquillity, and to take breath a little, after the successive waves. Go then there continually, that, having purged away the abiding stain by their prayers and admonitions, thou mayest both pass in the best manner the present life, and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom, and with Whom, be unto the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, glory, might, honour, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LXXIII.

MATT. xxiii. 14.

Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive greater damnation.

AFTER this, next He derides them for gluttony: and the grievous thing was, that not from rich men's goods, but from the poor they indulged their own belly, and aggravated their poverty, which they should have relieved. For neither did they merely eat, but devoured.

Moreover also the manner of their over-reaching was yet more grievous, for a pretence making long prayers.

For every one is worthy of vengeance who doeth any evil thing; but he that is deriving even the reason for so doing from godliness, and is using this cloke for his wickedness, is justly liable to a far more grievous punishment. And wherefore did He not depose them? Because the time suffered it not as yet. So therefore He lets them alone for a time, but by His sayings, He secures that the people be not deceived, lest, through the dignity of those men, they be drawn on to the same emulation.

For as He had said, Whatsoever they bid you do, that do; He shews how many things they do amiss, lest from thence He should be supposed amongst the unwise to commit all to them.

Woe unto you, for ye shut up the kingdom against men; v. 13. for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. But if to profit no one be a charge

972 The Scribes blamed for corrupting their proselytes,

LXXIII.

1.

HOMIL. against a man, even to hurt and hinder, what plea hath that? But what means, them that are entering in? Them that are fit for it. For when they were to lay injunctions on others, they used to make the burdens intolerable, but when they themselves were to do any of the things required, on the contrary, so far from doing any thing, they went much beyond this in wickedness, they even used to corrupt others. These are they 1ool that are called pests', who make their employment the ruin of others, standing right contrary to teachers. For if it be the part of a teacher to save that which is perishing, to destroy that which is on the point of being saved is that of a destroyer.

v. 15.

After this, again another charge; Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves; that is, not even the fact that hardly ye have taken him, and with endless toils, induces you to be sparing towards him, although of the things we have hardly acquired, we are more sparing, but you not even this renders more gentle.

Here He lays to their charge two things; one, that they are unprofitable for the salvation of the many, and need much toil in order to win over even one; another, that they were remiss in the preservation of him whom they had gained, or rather that they were not only careless, but even traitors, by their wickedness in their life corrupting him, and making him For when the disciple sees his teachers to be such as these, he becomes worse than they. For he stops not at his teacher's wickedness; but as when his teacher is virtuous, he imitates him, so when he is bad, he even goes beyond him, by reason of our proneness to what is evil.

worse.

And He calls him a child of hell, that is, a very hell. And He said twofold more than you, that He might both alarm those, and make these feel the more severely, because they are teachers of wickedness. And not this only, but because they labour to instil into their disciples a greater wickedness, hardening them to a much greater depravity than they have, and this is above all a mark of a depraved soul.

Then He derides them for folly also, because they bade them disregard the greater commandments. And yet before

and omitting weightier matters, as inward cleanness.

973

XXIII.

He had said the opposite, that they bind heavy burdens, and MATT. grievous to be borne. But these things too they did again, 23-26. and were doing every thing for the corruption of those who were subject to them, in little things requiring strictness, and despising the great.

For ye pay tithe, He saith, of mint and anise, and have v. 23. omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, and mercy, and faith. These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone.

Here then He naturally saith it, where it is tithe and alinsgiving, for what doth it hurt to give alms? But not to keep the law; for neither doth it say thus. Therefore here indeed He saith, These ought ye to have done; but where He is speaking about clean and unclean, He no longer adds this, but makes a distinction, and shews that the inward purity is necessarily followed by the outward, but the converse is no longer so.

For where there is a plea of love to man, He passes it over lightly, for this very reason, and because it was not yet time expressly and plainly to revoke the things of the Law. But where it is an observance of bodily purification, He overthrows it more plainly.

So, therefore, while with respect to alms He saith, These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone, touching purifications He speaks not on this wise, but what? Ye make clean, He saith, the outside of the cup and the v. 25.26. platter, but within they are full of extortion, and injustice. Cleanse that which is within the cup, that the outside may be clean also. And He took it from a thing confessed and manifest, from a cup and platter.

[2.] Then, to shew that there is no harm arising from despising bodily cleansings, but very great vengeance from not regarding the purifications of the soul, which is virtue, He called these a gnat, for they are small and nothing, but those other a camel, for they were beyond what men could bear. Wherefore also He saith, Straining at the gnat, and swallowing the camel. For indeed the one were enacted for the sake of the other, I mean of mercy, and judgment; so that not even then did they profit being done alone. For whereas the little things were mentioned for the sake of the

« ПредишнаНапред »