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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Hymn IV.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Hymn IV.

1.  The thief gained the faith which gained him, 534 and brought him up and placed him in paradise.  He saw in the Cross a tree of life; that was the fruit, he was the eater in Adam’s stead.

The fool, who goes astray, grazes the faith, as it were an eye, 535 by all manner of questions.  The probing of the finger blinds the eye, and much more doth that prying blind. the faith.

For even the diver pries not into his pearl.  In it do all merchants rejoice without prying into whence it came; even the king who is crowned therewith does not explore it.

2.  Because Balaam was foolish, a foolish beast in the ass spoke with him, because he despised God Who spoke with him.  Thee too let the pearl reprove in the ass’s stead.

The people that had a heart of stone, by a Stone He set at nought, 536 for lo, a stone hears words.  Witness its work that has reproved them; and you, ye deaf ones, let the pearl reprove today.

With the swallow 537 and the crow did He put men to shame; with the ox, yea with the ass, 538 did He put them to shame; let the pearl reprove now, O ye birds and things on earth and things below.

3.  Not as the moon does thy light fill or wane; the Sun whose light is greater than all, lo! of Him it is that a type is shadowed out in thy little compass.  O type of the Son, one spark of Whom is greater than the sun!—

The pearl itself is full, for its light is full; neither is there any cunning worker who can steal from it; for its wall is its own beauty, yea, its guard also!  It lacks not, since it is entirely perfect.

And if a man would break thee to take a part from thee, thou art like the faith which with the heretics perishes, seeing they have broken it in pieces and spoiled it:  for is it any better than this to have the faith scrutinised?

The faith is an entire nature that may not be corrupted.  The spoiler gets himself p. 297 mischief by it:  the heretic brings ruin on himself thereby.  He that chases the light from his pupils blinds himself.

Fire and air are divided when sundered.  Light alone, of all creatures, as its Creator, is not divided; it is not barren, for that it also begets without losing thereby.

4.  And if a man thinks that thou art framed [by art] he errs greatly; thy nature proclaims that thou, as all stones, art not the framing of art; and so thou art a type of the Generation which no making framed.

Thy stone flees from a comparison with the Stone [which is] the Son.  For thy own generation is from the midst of the deep, that of the Son of thy Creator is from the highest height; He is not like thee, in that He is like His Father.

And as they tell, two wombs bare thee also.  Thou camest down from on high a fluid nature; thou camest up from the sea a solid body.  By means of thy second birth thou didst show thy loveliness to the children of men.

Hands fixed thee, when thou wast embodied, into thy receptacles; for thou art in the crown as upon a cross, and in a coronet as in a victory; thou art upon the ears, as if to fill up what was lacking; thou extendest over all.



Luke xxii. 42.


Zech. ii. 8.


Matt. xxi. 42.


Jer. viii. 7.


Is. i. 3.

Next: Hymn V.

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