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 XVI.
p. 185 Hymn XVI.
1. Herein is a mirror to be blamed,—if its clearness is darkened—because there are spots on its substance;—for the foulness that is on it becomes—a covering before them that look on it. R. Blessed be He Who polished our mirror!
2. For that comeliness is not adorned in it,—and blemishes are not brought to view in it,—it is altogether a damage to comely things;—seeing that their comeliness gain not—adornments as their profit.
3. Blemishes are not rooted out by it,—likewise adornments are not multiplied by it.—A blemish that remains is as a loss;—that there is no adornment is a defect:—loss is met together with defect.
4. If our mirror be darkness,—it is altogether joy to the hateful;—because their blemishes are not reproved:—but if polished and shining,—it is our freedom that is adorned.
5. Twofold is the loss in defect,—for the hateful and for the goodly;—in that the goodly gain no crown,—and likewise the hateful get no adorning:—the mirror divides the loss.
6. Never does the mirror drive—by compulsion him that looks therein:—so likewise grace which followed—upon the righteousness of the Law,—does not possess the compulsion of the Law.
7. Righteousness was unto childhood,—its adorner of compulsion;—for when mankind was in childhood,—she adorned it by compulsion,—while she robbed it not of its freedom.
8. Righteousness used blandishment,—and the rod to deal with childhood;—when she smote it she roused it; her rod restrained frowardness, her blandishment softened the minds.
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9. [If one turn from the Gospel,] wherewith we are adorned to-day, my brethren,—to another gospel he is a child:—in a time of greatness of understanding,—he is become without understanding.
10. For in the degree of full age,—he has gone down to childhood;—and he loves the law of bondmen,—which when he is confident smites him,—and when he rejoices buffets him.
11. Whatsoever ornament is compulsion,—is not true but is borrowed.—This is a great thing in Gods eyes,—that a man should be adorned by himself:—therefore took He away compulsion.
12. For even as of His prudence—in its own time He employed compulsion,—so likewise of His prudence,—He took it away at a time—when gentleness was desired in its stead.
13. For as it is befitting to Youth,—that it should be made to haste under the rod;—so is it very hateful that under the rod—Wisdom should be brought to serve,—that compulsion should be lord over her.
14. Behold therefore how likewise—God has ordered my successions—in the pastors I have had,—and in the teachers He has given me,—and in the fathers He has reckoned unto me!
15. For weighed out according to their times—were the helps of their qualities;—namely in him in whom it was needful, fear; and in whom it was profitable, heartening; and in whom it was becoming, meekness.
p. 186 16. By measure He made my steps advance:—to my childhood He assigned terror; likewise to my youth, fear;—to my age of wisdom and prudence,—He assigned and gave meekness.
17. In the frowardness of the degree of childhood,—my instructor was a fear to me:—his rod restrained me from wantonness,—and from mischief the terror of him,—and from indulgence the fear of him.
18. Another father He gave to my youth:—what there was in me of childishness,—that was there in him of hardness; what there was in me of maturity,—that was in him as meekness.
19. When I rose from the degrees—of childhood and of youth,—there passed away the terror that was first,—there passed away the fear that was second;—He gave me a kind pastor.
20. Lo! for my full age his food;—and for my wisdom his interpretations;—and for my peace his meekness;—and for my repose his kindness;—and for my chastity his gravity!
21. Blessed is He who as in a balance—weighed out and gave me fathers:—for according to my times were my helps;—and according to my sicknesses my medicines;—and according to my comelinesses my adornments!
22. We then are they that have disturbed—the succession and fair order;—for in a time of mildness—lo! we crave for hardness,—that Thou should rebuke us as though we were children!
Next: Hymn XVII. Concerning Abraham, Bishop of Nisibis.