Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. XII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Homilies on Second Corinthians.: Homily XXIII
p. 383 Homily XXIII.
2 Cor. xi. 1
Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness and, indeed ye do bear with me. 915
Being about to enter upon his own praises he uses much previous correction. And he does this not once or twice, although the necessity of the subject, and what he had often said, were sufficient excuse for him. For he that remembereth sins which God remembered not, and who therefore saith that he was unworthy of the very name of the Apostles, even by the most insensate is seen clearly not to be saying what he is now going to say, for the sake of glory. For if one must say something startling, even this would be especially injurious to his glory, his speaking something about himself; and to the more part it is offensive. But nevertheless he regarded not timidly any of these things, but he looked to one thing, the salvation of his hearers. But still in order that he might not cause harm to the unthinking by this, by saying, I mean, great things of himself, he employs out of abundant caution these many preparatory correctives, and says, “Would that ye could bear with me,” whilst I play the fool in some little things, yea, rather, “ye do indeed bear with me.” Beholdest thou wisdom? For when he says, “would that,” it is as putting it at their disposal: but when he even asserts [that they do], it is as confiding greatly in their affection, and as declaring that he both loves and is loved. Yea, rather, not from bare love merely, but from a sort of warm and insane passion he says that they ought to bear with him even when he plays the fool. And therefore he added, “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy 916 .” He did not say, for I love you, but uses a term far more vehement than this. For those souls are jealous which burn ardently for those they love, and jealousy can in no other way be begotten than out of a vehement affection. Then that they may not think, that it is for the sake of power, or honor, or wealth, or any other such like thing, that he desires their affection, he added, “with a jealousy of God.” For God also is said to be jealous, not that any should suppose 917 passion, (for the Godhead is impassible,) but that all may know that He doeth all things from no other regard than their sakes over whom He is jealous; not that Himself may gain aught, but that He may save them. Among men indeed jealousy ariseth not from this cause, but for the sake of their own repose; not because the beloved ones sustain outrage, but lest these who love them should be wounded, and be outshone in the good graces, and stand lower in the affections, of the beloved. But here it is not so. For I care not, he says, for this, lest I should stand lower in your esteem; but lest I should see you corrupted. For such is Gods jealousy; and such is mine also, intense at once and pure. Then there is also this necessary reason;
“For I espoused you to one husband, as a pure virgin.” Therefore I am jealous, not for myself, but for him to whom I have espoused you. For the present time is the time of espousal, but the time of the nuptials is another; when they sing, the Bridegroom hath risen up. Oh what things unheard of! In the world they are virgins before the marriage, but after the marriage no longer. But here it is not so: but even though they be not virgins before this marriage, after the marriage they become virgins. So the whole Church is a virgin. For addressing himself even to all, both husbands and wives, he speaks thus. But let us see what he brought and espoused us with, what kind of nuptial gifts. Not gold, not silver, but the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore also he said, “We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ,” and beseeches them, when he was about to receive the Bride. What happened in Abrahams case was a type of this. (Gen. xxiv. 4, &c.) For he sent his faithful servant to seek a Gentile maiden in marriage; and in this case God sent His own servants to seek the Church in marriage for His son, and prophets from of old saying, “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and forget thine own people and thy fathers house, and the King p. 384 shall desire thy beauty.” (Ps. 45:10, 11.) Seest thou the prophet also espousing? seest thou the Apostle too expressing the same thing himself with much boldness, and saying, “I espoused you to one husband that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ?” Seest thou wisdom again? For having said, Ye ought to bear with me, he did not say, for I am your teacher and I speak not for mine own sake: but he uses this expression which invested them with especial dignity, placing himself in the room of her who promotes a match, and them in the rank of the bride; and he adds these words;
2 Cor. 11.3. “But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ 918 .”
For although the destruction be yours [alone], yet is the sorrow mine as well. And consider his wisdom. For he does not assert, although they were corrupted; and so he showed when he said, “When your obedience is fulfilled,” (c. 2 Cor. 10.6.) and “I shall bewail many which have sinned already;” (c. 2 Cor. 12.21.) but still he does not leave them to get shameless. And therefore he says, “lest at any time.” For this neither condemns nor is silent; for neither course were safe, whether to speak out plainly or to conceal perpetually. Therefore he employs this middle form, saying, “lest at any time.” For this is the language neither of one that entirely distrusts, nor entirely relies on them, but of one who stands between these two. In this way then he palliated, but by his mention of that history threw them into an indescribable terror, and cuts them off from all forgiveness. For even although the serpent was malignant, and she senseless, yet did none of these things snatch the woman from punishment. Beware then, he says, lest such be your fate, and there be naught to screen you. For he too promising greater things, so deceived. Whence it is plain that these 919 too, by boasting and puffing themselves up, deceived. And this may be conjectured not from this place only, but also from what he says afterwards,
2 Cor. 11.4. “If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye receive a different Spirit which ye did not receive, or a different Gospel which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear with him.”
And he does not say, Lest by any means as Adam was deceived: but shows that those men 920 are but women who are thus abused, for it is the part of woman to be deceived. And he did not say, so ye also should be deceived: but keeping up the metaphor, he says, “so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ.” From the simplicity, I say, not from wickedness; neither out of wickedness [is it], nor out of your not believing, but out of simplicity. But, nevertheless, not even under such circumstances are the deceived entitled to forgiveness, as Eve showed. But if this does not entitle to forgiveness, much more will it not do so, when through vain-glory any is so 921 .
[2.] “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus whom we did not preach:” showing hereby that their deceivers were not Corinthians, but persons from some other quarter previously corrupted: wherefore he saith, “he that cometh.”
“If ye receive a different Spirit, if a different Gospel which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear” with him. What sayest thou? Thou that saidst to the Galatians, “If any preach another Gospel to you than that ye have received, let him be anathema;” dost thou now say, “ye do well to bear” with him? And yet on this account it were meet not to bear with, but to recoil, from them; but if they say the same things, it is meet to bear with them. How then dost thou say, because they say the same things, it is not meet to bear with them? for he says, if they said other things, it were meet to bear with them. Let us then give good heed, for the danger is great, and the precipice deep, if men run past this carelessly; and what is here said giveth an entrance to all the heresies. What then is the sense of these words? Those persons so boasted as if the Apostles taught incompletely, and they were introducing somewhat more than they. For it is probable that with much idle talk, they were bringing in senseless rubbish so as to overlay these doctrines. And therefore he made mention of the serpent and of Eve who was thus deceived by the expectation of acquiring more. And alluding to this in the former Epistle also, he said, “Now ye are become rich, ye have reigned as kings without us;” and again, “we are fools for Christs sake, but ye are wise in Christ.” (1 Cor. 4:8, 10.) Since then it was probable that using the wisdom which is without, they talked much idly, p. 385 what he says is this: that if these persons said any thing more, and preached a different Christ who ought to have been preached, but we omitted it, “ye do well to bear” with them. For on this account he added, “whom we did not preach.” But if the chief points of the faith are the same, what have ye the more of them? for whatsoever things they may say, they will say nothing more than what we have said. And observe with what precision he states the case. For he did not say, if he that cometh saith any thing more; for they did say something more, haranguing with more authority and with much beauty of language; wherefore he did not say this, but what? [If] “he that cometh preacheth another Jesus,” a thing which had no need of that array of words: “or ye receive a different Spirit,” (for neither was there need of words in this case;) that is to say, makes you richer in grace; or “a different Gospel which ye did not accept,” (nor did this again stand in need of words,) “ye do well to bear” with him. But consider, I pray thee, how he every where uses such a definition as shows that nothing very great, nor indeed any thing more, had been introduced by them. For when he had said, “If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus,” he added, “whom we did not preach;” and “ye receive a different Spirit,” he subjoined, “which ye did not receive; or a different Gospel,” he added, “which ye did not accept,” by all these showing that it is meet to attend to them, not simply if they say something more, but if they said any thing more which ought to have been said and was by us omitted. But if it ought not to have been said, and was therefore not said by us; or if they say only the same things as we, why gape ye so admiringly 922 upon them? And yet if they say the same things, saith one, wherefore dost thou hinder them? Because that using hypocrisy, they introduce strange doctrines. This however for the present he doth not say, but afterwards asserts it, when he says, “They fashion themselves into Apostles of Christ;” (2 Cor. 11.13.) for the present he withdraws the disciples from their authority by less offensive considerations; and this not out of envy to them, but to secure these. Else why does he not hinder Apollos, who was, however, a “learned man, and mighty in the Scriptures;” (Acts 18:24, 1 Cor. 16:12.) but even beseeches him, and promises he will send him? Because together with his learning he preserved also the integrity of the doctrines; but with these it was the reverse. And therefore he wars with them and blames the disciples for gaping admiringly upon them, saying, if aught that should have been said we omitted and they supplied, we do not hinder you from giving heed to them: but if all has been fully completed by us and nothing left deficient, whence is it that they caught you? Wherefore also he adds,
2 Cor. 11.5. “For I reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles,” no longer making comparison of himself with them, but with Peter and the rest. So that if they know more than I do, [they know more] than they also. And observe how here also he shows modesty. For he did not say, the Apostles said nothing more than I, but what? “I reckon,” so I deem, “that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles.” For since this also appeared to bespeak an inferiority in him, that those having preceded him were of greater name; and more respect was entertained for them, and these persons were intending to foist themselves in; therefore he makes this comparison of himself with them with the dignity 923 that becomes him. Therefore he also mentions them with encomiums, not speaking simply of “the Apostles,” but “the very chiefest,” meaning Peter and James and John.
[3.] 2 Cor. 11.6. “But though I be rude in speech, yet am I not in knowledge.”
For since those that corrupted the Corinthians had the advantage in this, that they were not rude; he mentions this also, showing that he was not ashamed of, but even prided himself upon it. And he said not, “But though I be rude in speech,” yet so also are they 924 , for this would have seemed to be accusing them as well as himself, and exalting these: but he overthrows the thing itself, the wisdom from without. And indeed in his former Epistle he contends even vehemently about this thing, saying that it not only contributes nothing to the Preaching, but it even throws a shadow on the glory of the Cross; (1 Cor. ii. 1.) for he says, “I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom unto you, lest the cross of Christ should be made void; (1 Cor. i. 17.) and many other things of the same kind; because “in knowledge” they were “rude,” which is also the extremest form of rudeness. When therefore it was necessary to institute a comparison in those things which were great, he compares himself with the Apostles: but when to show that which appeared to be a deficiency, he no longer does this, but grapples with the thing itself and shows that it was a superiority. And when indeed no necessity urged him, he says that he is “the least of the Apostles,” and not worthy even of the title; but here again when occasion called, he says that he is “not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles.” For he knew that this would most advantage the disciples. Wherefore also he adds,
p. 386 “Nay, in every thing we have made it manifest among all men to youward.” For here again he accuses the false Apostles as “walking in craftiness.” (2 Cor. 4.2.) And he said this of himself before also, that he did not live after the outward appearance, nor preach “handling the word deceitfully (2 Cor. 4.2) and corrupting it. But those men were one thing and appeared another. But not so he. Wherefore also he every where assumes a high tone, as doing nothing with a view to mens opinion nor concealing aught about himself. As he also said before, “by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every mans conscience,” (2 Cor. 4.2) so now again he saith “in every thing we have made it manifest to you.” But what does this mean? We are rude, he said, and do not conceal it: we receive from some persons and we do not keep it secret. We receive then from you, and we pretend not that we do not receive, as they do when they receive, but we make every thing that we do manifest unto you; which was the conduct of one that both had exceeding confidence in them, and told them every thing truly. Wherefore he also calls them witnesses, saying now, “among all men to youward,” and also before, “For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or even acknowledge.” (2 Cor. 1.13.)
[4.] Then after he had defended his own conduct he goes on next to say with severity,
2 Cor. 11.7. “Or did I commit a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted?”
And in explanation of this, he adds,
2 Cor. 11.8. “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you.”
What he says is this; I lived in straitness; for this is the force of “abasing myself.” Can you then lay this to my charge? and do ye therefore lift up yourselves against me, because I abased myself by begging, by enduring straits, by suffering, by hungering, that ye might be exalted? And how were they exalted by his being in straits? They were more edified and were not offended; which also might [well] be a very great accusation of them and a reproach of their weakness; that it was not possible in any other way to lead them on than by first abasing himself. Do ye then lay it to my charge that I abased myself? But thereby ye were exalted. For since he said even above that they accused him, for that when present he was lowly, and when absent bold, in defending himself he here strikes them again, saying, this too was for your sakes.
“I robbed other churches.” Here finally he speaks reproachfully, but his former words prevent these from seeming offensive; for he said, “Bear with me in a little foolishness:” and before all his other achievements makes this his first boast. For this worldly men look to especially, and on this also those his adversaries greatly prided themselves. Therefore it is that he does not first enter on the subject of his perils, nor yet of his miracles, but on this of his contempt of money, because they prided themselves on this; and at the same time he also hints that they were wealthy. But what is to be admired in him is this, that when he was able to say that he was even supported by his own hands, he did not say this; but says that which especially shamed them and yet was no encomium on himself, namely, I took from others. And he did not say “took,” but “robbed,” that is, I stripped them, and made them poor. And what surely is greater, that it was not for superfluities, but for his necessities, for when he says wages, he means necessary subsistence. And what is more grievous yet, “to minister unto you.” We preach to you; and when I ought to be supported by you, I have enjoyed this at others hands. The accusation is twofold, or rather three-fold; that when both living amongst them and ministering to them, and seeking necessary support, he had others supplying his wants. Great the excess, of the one negligence, of the other in zeal! For these sent to him even when at a great distance, and those did not even support him when amongst them.
[5.] Then because he had vehemently scourged them, he quietly again relaxes the vehemence of his rebuke, saying,
2 Cor. 11.9. “And when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any man.”
For he did not say, ye did not give to me, but, I did not take, for as yet he spares them. But nevertheless even in the subduedness of his language he covertly strikes them again, for the word, “present,” is exceedingly emphatic, and so is “in want.” For that they might not say, what matter then, if you had [enough]? he added, “and was in want.”
“I was not a burden” on you. Here again he hits them gently, as making such contributions reluctantly, as feeling them a burden. Then comes the reason also, full of accusation and fraught with jealousy. Wherefore also he introduced it, not in the way of a leading point 925 , but as informing them whence and by whom he was supported, so as to stimulate them again, in an unsuspicious way, as to the point of almsgiving;
“For the measure of my want,” he says, “the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied.” Seest thou how he provokes them again, by bringing forward those that had ministered to him? For inspiring them first p. 387 with a desire of knowing who these could be, when he said, “I robbed other churches;” he then mentions them also by name; which would incite them also unto almsgiving. For he thus persuades those who had been beaten [by them] in the matter of supporting the Apostle, not to be also beaten in the succor they gave to the poor. And he says this also in his Epistle to the Macedonians themselves, “For in my necessities ye sent unto me once and again, even in the beginning of the Gospel;” (Phil. 4:16, 15.) which point also was a very great commendation of them, that from the very beginning they shone forth. But observe how everywhere he mentions his “necessity,” and no where a superfluity. Now therefore by saying “present,” and in “want” he showed that he ought to have been supported by the Corinthians; and by the words, “they supplied the measure of my want,” he shows that he did not so much as ask. And he assigns a reason which was not the real one. What then is this? That he had received from others; “for,” says he, “the measure of my want those that came supplied.” For this reason, he says, I was not a burden; not because I had no confidence in you. And yet it is for this latter reason that he so acts, and he shows it in what follows; but does not say it plainly, but throws it into the shade 926 , leaving it to the conscience of his hearers. And he gives proof of it covertly in what follows, by saying,
“And in every” thing “I kept myself from being burdensome, and so will I keep” myself. “For think not,” says he, “that I say these things that I may receive.” Now the words “so will I keep myself,” are severer, if he has not even yet confidence in them; but once for all had given up the idea of receiving aught from them. He shows, moreover, that they even considered this to be a burden; wherefore he said, “I have kept myself from being burdensome, and so will I keep myself.” He says this in his former Epistle also, “I write not this that it may be so done unto me; for” it were “good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” (1 Cor. ix. 15.) And here again, “I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep” myself.
[6.] Then, that he may not seem to speak these things for the sake of winning them on the better [to do this], he saith,
2 Cor. 11.10. “As the truth of Christ is in me.” Do not think that I therefore have spoken, that I may receive, that I may the rather draw you on: for, saith he, “as the truth is in me,
“No man shall stop me of this glorying in the regions of Achaia.” For that none should think again that he is grieved at this, or that he speaks these things in anger, he even calls the thing a “glorying.” And in his former Epistle too he dressed it out 927 in like terms. For so that he may not wound them there either, he says, “What then is my reward?” “That when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge.” (1 Cor. ix. 18.) And as he there calls it “reward,” so doth he here “glorying,” that they may not be excessively ashamed at what he said, as if he were asking and they gave not to him. For, what, if even ye would give? saith he, Yet I do not accept it. And the expression, “shall not stop me,” is a metaphor taken from rivers, or from the report, as if running every where, of his receiving nothing. Ye stop not with your giving this my freedom of speech. But he said not, ye stop not, which would have been too 928 cutting, but it “no man shall stop me in the regions of Achaia.” This again was like giving them a fatal blow, and exceedingly apt to deject and pain them, since they were the only persons he refused [to take from]. For if he made that his boast, it were meet to make it so every where: but if he only does so among us, perchance this is owing to our weakness. Lest therefore they should so reason and be dejected, see how he corrects this.
2 Cor. 11.11. “Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.”
Quickly [is it done], and by an easy method 929 . But still, not even so did he rid them of those charges. For he neither said, ye are not weak, nor yet, ye are strong; but, “I love you,” which very greatly aggravated the accusation against them. For the not receiving from them, because they felt it an exceeding grievance, was a proof of special love toward them. So he acted in two contrary ways out of love; he both did receive, and did not receive: but this contrariety was on account of the disposition of the givers. And he did not say, I therefore do not take of you, because I exceedingly love you, for this would have contained an accusation of their weakness and have thrown them into distress; but he turned what he said to another reason. What then is this?
2 Cor. 11.12. “That I may cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.”
For since this they sought earnestly, to find some handle 930 against him, it is necessary to remove this also. For this is the one point on which they pique themselves. Therefore that p. 388 they might not have any advantage whatever, it was necessary to set this right; for in other things they were inferior. For, as I have said, nothing doth so edify worldly people as the receiving nothing from them. Therefore the devil in his craftiness dropped this bait especially, when desirous to injure them in other respects. But it appears to me that this even was in hypocrisy. And therefore he did not say, wherein they have well done, but what? “wherein they glory;” which also was as jeering at their glorying; for they gloried also of that which they were not. But the man of noble spirit not only ought not to boast of what he has not, but not even of what he possesses; as this blessed saint was wont to do, as the patriarch Abraham did, saying, “But I am earth and ashes.” (Gen. xviii. 27.) For since he had no sins to speak of, but shone with good works; having run about in every direction and found no very great handle against himself, he betakes himself to his nature; and since the name of “earth” is in some way or other one of dignity, he added to it that of “ashes.” Wherefore also another saith, “Why is earth and ashes proud?” (Ecclesiasticus 10.9.)
[7.] For tell me not of the bloom of the countenance, nor of the uplifted neck, nor of the mantle, and the horse, and the followers; but reflect where all these things do end, and put that to them. But and if thou tell me of what appears to the eye, I too will tell thee of things in pictures, brighter far than these. But as we do not admire those for their appearance, as seeing what their nature is, that all is clay; so therefore let us not these either, for these too are but clay. Yea rather, even before they are dissolved and become dust, show me this uplifted [neck] a prey to fever and gasping out life; and then will I discourse with thee and will ask, What has become of all that profuse ornament? whither has that crowd of flatterers vanished, that attendance of slaves, that abundance of wealth and possessions? What wind hath visited and blown all away? Nay, even stretched upon the bier, he beareth the tokens of that wealth and that pride; a splendid garment thrown over him, poor and rich following him forth, the assembled crowds breathing words of good omen 931 . Surely this also is a very mockery; howbeit even this besides is presently proved naught, like a blossom that perishes. For when we have passed over the threshold of the city gates, and after having delivered over the body to the worms, return, I will ask thee again, where is that vast crowd gone to? What has become of the clamor and uproar? where are the torches? where the bands of women? are not these things, then, a dream? And what too has become of the shouts? where are those many lips that cried, and bade him be of good cheer, for no man is immortal? These things ought not now to be said to one that heareth not, but when he made prey of others, when he was overreaching, then with a slight change should it have been said to him, Be not of good cheer, no man is immortal; hold in thy madness, extinguish thy lust; but Be of good cheer is for the injured party. For to chant such things over this man now, is but like men exulting over him and speaking irony; for he ought not for this now to be of good cheer, but to fear and tremble.
And if even this advice is now of no use to him since he has run his course, yet at least let those of the rich who labor under the same disease, and follow him to the tomb, hear it. For although beforehand through the intoxication of wealth, they have no such thing in mind, yet at that season when the sight of him that is laid out even confirms what is said, let them be sober, let them be instructed: reflecting that yet a little while and they will come that shall bear them away to that fearful account, and to suffer the penalty of their acts of rapacity and extortion. And what is this to the poor? saith one. Why, to many this also is a satisfaction, to see him that hath wronged them punished. But to us it is no satisfaction, but the escaping suffering ourselves. I praise you exceedingly and approve of you in that ye exult not over the calamities of others, but seek only your own safety. Come then, I will ensure 932 you this also. For if we suffer evil at the hands of men, we cut off no small part of our debt by bearing what is done to us nobly. We receive therefore no injury; for God reckons the ill-treatment towards our debt, not according to the principle of justice but of His loving-kindness; and because He succored not him that suffered evil. Whence doth this appear? saith one. The Jews once suffered evil at the hand of the Babylonians; and God did not prevent it: but they were carried away, children and women; yet afterwards did this captivity become a consolation to them in respect of 933 their sins. Therefore He saith to Isaiah, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, ye priests: speak unto the heart of Jerusalem, for she hath received of the Lords hand double for sins.” (Isa. 40:1, 2.) And again; “Grant us peace, for Thou hast repaid us every thing.” (Is. 26.12, LXX.) And David saith; “Behold mine enemies, for they are multiplied; and forgive all my sins.” (Ps. 25:19, 18.) And when he bore with Shimei cursing him, he said, “Let him alone, that the Lord may see my abasement, and requite me good for this day.” (2 Sam. 16:11, 12p. 389 .) For when He aideth us not when we suffer wrong, then most of all are we advantaged; for He sets it to the account of our sins, if we bear it thankfully.
[8.] So that when thou seest a rich man plundering a poor, leave him that suffereth wrong, and weep for the plunderer. For the one putteth off filth, the other bedaubeth himself with more filth. Such was the fate of Elishas servant in the story of Naaman (2 Kings v. 20, &c.) For though he took not by violence, yet he did a wrong; for to get money by deceit is a wrong. What then befel? With the wrong he received also the leprosy; and he that was wronged was benefited, but he that did the wrong received the greatest possible harm. The same happens now also in the case of the soul. And this is of so great force that often by itself it hath propitiated God; yea though he who suffereth evil be unworthy of aid; yet when he so suffers in excess, by this alone he draweth God unto the forgiveness of himself, and to the punishment of him that did the wrong. Wherefore also God said of old to the heathen, “I indeed delivered them over unto a few things, but they have set themselves on together unto evil things;” (Zech. i. 15. LXX.) they shall suffer ills irremediable 934 . For there is nothing, no, nothing, that doth so much exasperate God as rapine and violence and extortion. And why forsooth? Because it is very easy to abstain from this sin. For here it is not any natural desire that perturbeth the mind, but it ariseth from wilful negligence 935 . How then doth the Apostle call it, “a root of evils.” (1 Tim. vi. 10.) Why, I say so too, but this root is from us, and not from the nature of the things. And, if ye will, let us make a comparison and see which is the more imperious, the desire of money or of beauty 936 ; for that which shall be found to have struck down great men is the more difficult to master. Let us see then what great man the desire of money ever got possession of. Not one; only of exceeding pitiful and abject persons, Gehazi, Ahab, Judas, the priests of the Jews: but the desire for beauty overcame even the great prophet David. And this I say, not as extending forgiveness to those who are conquered by such a lust, but rather, as preparing them to be watchful. For when I have shown the strength of the passion, then, most especially, I show them to be deprived of every claim to forgiveness. For if indeed thou hadst not known the wild beast, thou wouldest have this to take refuge in; but now, having known, yet falling into it, thou wilt have no excuse. After him 937 , it took possession of his son still more completely. And yet there was never man wiser than he, and all other virtue did he attain; still, however, he was seized so violently by this passion, that even in his vitals he received the wound. And the father indeed rose up again and renewed the struggle, and was crowned again; but the son showed nothing of the kind.
Therefore also Paul said, “It is better to marry than to burn:” (1 Cor. vii. 9.) and Christ, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Matt. xiv. 12.) But concerning money He spake not so, but, “whoso hath forsaken” his goods “shall receive an hundredfold.” (Matt. 14.29.) How then, saith one, did He say of the rich, that they shall hardly obtain the kingdom? Again implying their weakness of character; not the imperiousness of money, but their utter slavery. And this is evident also from the advice which Paul gave. For from that lust he leads men quite away, saying, “But they that desire to be rich fall into temptation;” (1 Tim. vi. 9.) but in the case of the other not so; but having separated them “for a season” only, and that by “consent,” he advises to come together again (1 Cor. vii. 5.) For he feared the billows of lust lest they should occasion a grievous shipwreck. This passion is even more vehement 938 than anger. For it is not possible to feel anger when there is nothing 939 proving it, but a man cannot help desiring even when the face which moveth to it is not seen. Therefore this passion indeed He did not cut off altogether, but added the words, “without a cause.” (Matt. v. 22.) Nor again did He abolish all desire, but only that which is unlawful, for he saith, “Nevertheless, because of desires 940 , let every man have his own wife.” (1 Cor. vii. 2.) But to lay up treasure He allowed not, either with cause or without. For those passions were implanted in our nature for a necessary end; desire, for the procreation of children, and anger, for the succor of the injured, but desire of money not so. Therefore neither is the passion natural to us. So then if thou art made captive by it, thou wilt suffer so much the more the vilest punishment. Therefore surely, it is, that Paul, permitting even a second marriage, demands in the case of money great strictness, saying, “Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Cor. vi. 7.) And when treating of virginity, he says, “I have no commandment,” (1 Cor. 7.25.) and “I speak this for your profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you;” (1 Cor. 7.35.) but when his discourse is of money, he says, “Having raiment and p. 390 food, let us be therewith content.” (1 Tim. vi. 8.) How then is it, saith one, that by this, more than the other, are many overcome? Because they stand not so much on their guard 941 against it as against lasciviousness and fornication; for if they had thought it equally dangerous, they would not, perhaps, have been made its captives. So also were those wretched virgins cast out of the bridechamber, because that, having struck down the great adversary, they were wounded 942 by one weaker, and who was nothing. (Matt. xxv. 1, &c.) Besides this, one may say further, that if any, subduing lust, is overcome by money, often 943 he does not in fact subdue lust, but has received from nature the gift of suffering no great uneasiness of that sort; for all are not equally inclined to it. Knowing then these things, and revolving frequently with ourselves the example of the virgins, let us shun this evil wild beast. For if virginity profited them nothing, but after countless toils and labors they perished through the love of money, who shall deliver us if we fall into this passion? Wherefore I beseech you to do all you can, both that ye be not taken captive by it, and that if taken, ye continue not in captivity, but break asunder those hard bonds. For so shall we be able to secure a footing in heaven and to obtain the countless good things; whereunto may all we attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
[Most critics, with the A.V. and the R.V., prefer to take the verb here as imperative, and render, “nay indeed bear with me,” which is supposed to suit better with what follows. C.]383:916
Gr. jealousy of God.383:917
Such seems to be St. Chrysostoms rendering. See below. [It is not easy to understand this note of the English translator. Chrysostom has the accepted text εἰς τὸν χριστόν, which the Vulgate, Beza and Calvin make equivalent to ἐν χριστῷ. But the proper sense is, as Thayer sub voce gives it, “sincerity of mind toward Christ, i.e., single-hearted faith in Christ, as opposed to false wisdom in matters pertaining to Christianity.” The allusion to the marriage relation in the previous verse is still kept up. The Apostles fear was that the Corinthians might be so corrupted as to turn away from the undivided affection and devotion which they owed to the Lord Jesus Christ as much as a bride to her husband. His warning is confirmed by his reference to the one standing example of the inconstancy of the human heart, and of the fearful consequences of forsaking God. In his mind the narrative of the fall was neither a fable nor an allegory, but an historical fact. C.]384:919
i.e. False Apostles.384:920
γυναῖκας ὅντας τοὺς.384:921
i.e. Is deceived.385:922
i.e. Peter &c.386:925
Or, no one.389:940
S. Chrysostom here reads, because of desires ἐπιθυμιαίς, instead of, because of fornication, πορνείας, with the Rec. Text, [which is correct. C.]390:941
Next: Homily XXIV
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