Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:
Early Church Fathers
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Hymn XV.
1. If the head had not been right,—haply the members had murmured:—for when because of a perverse head—the course of the members is put astray,—they are wont to lay the blame on the head. R. Blessed be He who chose thee the pride of our people!
2. If now on one that is all goodly,—on it we lay our hatred;—how much more if we were hateful!—Yea even God though He is kind,—bitter men complain against Him.
3. Be like the head O ye members!—Get repose in his purity—and pleasantness in his tranquillity;—in his sanctity renown,—and in his wisdom learning!
4. Get discernment in his mildness,—and chastity in his gravity,—and bounty in his poverty!—As he is fully and altogether fair,—let us be altogether fair with him!
p. 184 5. See ye how meted and weighed—are his words and his actions!—Take heed how even his steps—keep the measure of peace!—With all his might he holds the bridle of all himself.
6. He was master over his youth;—he bound it in the yoke of chastity:—his members were not enticed by lust;—for they were kept under the rod:—his will he had in subjection.
7. For he was ready beforehand for his degree,—as he was ready beforehand in his conversation,—as he laid his foundations securely.—He became Head in his youth,—when they made him preacher to the people.
8. Excellent was he among preachers,—learned was he among scholars,—and understanding was he among the wise:—chaste was he among his brethren,—and grave among his familiar friends.
9. In two abodes was he—a solitary recluse from his early days;—for he was holy within his body,—and solitary within his dwelling;—openly and secretly was he chaste.
10. But although we my brethren—have put astray those measures,—and we have lost that savour,—and have become teachers to ourselves,—unto the perfection that called us.
11. Yet that measure of Truth—preserves itself in its vessel:—Truth chose it because she saw it chose her;—she has preserved in it her fragrance and savour,—from the beginning to the end.
12. The Head both chaste and grave,—that was not wrathful nor hard,—nor transgressed even as we did,—set and kept his own measures,—and cast a bridle on his thoughts.
13. He gave example in his person,—that as he kept the measure of his time,—so was it meet that we should know our time.—We have become strangers to our time,—for we have been witless in the time of discernment.
14. In the beginning the blast of the wind—in its might chastens the fruit;—then in the meantime the might of the sun:—but when its mightiness is passed,—its end gathers his sweetness.
15. But we—they that were first chastened us;—and also they that came next rebuked us;—and they that were last added sweetness to us:—then when the time of tasting us arrives,—great was our savourlessness.
16. For we came to maturity,—that we might wean the children from wantonness,—and lead them to gravity:—but our old age stood in need—that we should be rebuked as youths.
17. Accordingly he in kindness endured, nor did he make use of force,—that he might increase honour to our old age:—and even if it knew not its degree,—let him be magnified who knew its time!
18. And if one say that for the multitude,—force and the rod should govern it;—even as for the thief fear,—and for the spoiler threatening,—and for fools open shaming.
19. Yet if with the head as first,—the members had hasted to move as second,—they would have drawn that which was third,—and the whole body from the end—would have followed after them.
20. They that were second despised those that were first,—and that were third those that were second:—the degrees were set at naught one by another.—While these within despised one another,—they were trodden down likewise by those without.
Next: Hymn XVI.