Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Hymn XXI.
1. John who was a torch, laid bare and rebuked the wanton ones: they made haste and quenched the torch, that they might let loose the desire of their lust. Be thou a lamp in brightness, and make the works of darkness cease, that whensoever thy doctrine shines, no man may dare at its rising, to give ear to the lusts of darkness. R., Blessed be He Who made thee our lamp!
2. A great blessing was hidden in it, even in the reproof of Elijah. Elisha ministered unto him and sought, a twofold reward of his ministration. Twofold glory it gave to him, for in double measure was he clad with his virtues. Thou who hast loved the reproof of Valgesh thy master rich in gifts, mayest thou inherit the treasure of his wisdom! R., Blessed be He Who makes thy Doctrine rich!
3. May greediness be overcome by thy fasting even as by the fasting of Daniel! May lust be confounded before thy body, like as it was confounded before Joseph! May lust of money be overcome by thee! like as it was overcome before Simeon, Mayest thou bind on earth even as he, and loose on high after his likeness; for thy faith is even as his! R., Blessed is He Who committed to thee His ministry!
4. Thy chastity be as Elishas, and thy celibacy Elijahs, the covenant with thine eyes as Jobs, thy tender mercies as Davids; without envy as Jonathan, thy firmness as Jeremiahs, thy gentleness the Apostles! Thine be the ancient things of the prophets, thine the new things of the Apostles. R., Blessed be He Who filled thee with their treasures!
5. Be a crown to the priesthood, and in thee be the ministry made to shine! Be a brother to the elders, likewise an overseer to the deacons; be a master to youth, a staff and a hand to old age; be a wall to the consecrated virgins. In thy conversation may the covenant prevail, and the Church in thy comeliness be adorned. R., Blessed be He Who chose thee to be priest!
6. In thy poverty be brought to nought, the hateful custom of the house of Gehazi; in thy sanctity be abolished, the abominable custom of the house of Eli; in thy unity be done away, the treacherous greeting of the lips of Iscariot the deceiver! Pour forth all our thought, and form it anew from the beginning! R., Blessed be He Who in thy crucible refines us!
7. In thy conversation let Mammon be put to shame, who has been lord over our freedom! Let the disease be done away from us, which is customary with us and pleasant to us; abolish the causes that have maintained, customs that are full of harm! Evil things have possessed us through custom: let good things possess us through custom! Be thou, O Lord, the cause of help to us. R., Blessed be He Who chose Thee in order to our life!
8. Let evil customs be cut off: let not the Church possess wealth; that she be sufficed let her possess souls, and if thus she be sufficed let it be in marvellous measure! And let not her deceased be buried in the cutting off of hope heathenishly, with vestments and wailing and lamentation; for the living is clothed in raiment, but the deceased his all is a coffin. R., Blessed be He Who to our dust turns us again!
9. A cause of evil is the lust, also the p. 192 greediness of the house of Eli, and the thievishness of the house of Gehazi, and the reviling of Nabal. These hateful well-springs close thou up, lest there be a great outpouring, and there come from it defilement, and even thou be reached by its overflow. The Lord restrain their outpourings! R., Blessed be He Who dried up their over-flowings!
10. For the old man commit speech to him; for the young enjoin silence on him; for the stranger who comes in unto thee, learns of thee from thy discipline, namely who speaks first, and who second and third: and if every man keeps his mouth, and every man knows his degree, they will call thee happy. R., Our Lord perform thy desire!
11. Let the voice of thy truth be single and thy assumed voices without number; the image of truthfulness on thy heart, and on thy face all aspects, sadness, gladness, and feebleness. To him that errs show that thou art wrathful, to him that is chaste show that thou art glad. Be single towards the Godhead, and to mankind be manifold. R., Blessed be He Who with all men is all things!
12. If thou hearest an evil report, from truthful men that deceive not, pour forth tears that thou mayst quench the fire that burns in others; let them that are wise pray with thee, and appoint thou a fast for them that have knowledge, and let thy dwelling be in mourning, for him who is lost in sin, that he may turn back in repentance. R., Blessed be He Who found the sheep that was lost!
13. To every man give not thy ear, lest liars overwhelm thee; to every man lend not thy foot, lest vile ones misguide thee; to every man give not thy soul, lest the insolent trample thee. Keep thy hand from the false man, lest he gather thorns into thy hand. Be far off and near at hand. R., Blessed be He Who is near though far!
14. Lo the fame of the new king, resounds and comes into the world! To the spoiled he is a comfort, and to the spoilers a terror. On the covetous vomiting has come, that they may render up all that they have swallowed. Let them be put to fear from before thee also, that between a priest and a righteous king, the former customs may be done away. R., Blessed be He Who was angry, and turns and has mercy!
15. There is that finds opportunity and ventures, and there is that forces and compels his will. One thinks that judgment is reserved, and another that it is not to be at all. There is that steals and quenches his thirst, and there is that steals and thirsts to steal. The rich steal and the poor; but the hungry steal by measure, and the full steal without measure. R., Blessed be He Who has searched out all wills!
16. But now has He given opportunity, and every man has shown his will, of what kind it is and to what it is like, and what he has chosen for himself rather than what. He has removed temptation from every man, lest even he who is not hateful should deny him. He has given us opportunity that we may understand, that better think this power is chastisement which profits much. R., Blessed is He Who for our profit rebukes us!
17. For He wills not by compulsion, to cast his yoke on our neck; He gave us opportunity and we waxed proud, that so when we rebelled and were punished, we might love His light yoke, might choose His pleasant staff. Our rest is very wearisome to us, for in His compulsion is restfulness, and in His yoke is lightening. R., Blessed be He Whose labour is pleasantness!
18. The whole world like a body, had fallen into a heavy sickness; for in the fever of heathenism, it burned and pined and fell. The right hand of tender mercy touched it, and dealt with its soul in pity; and cut off speedily its heathenism, for that was the cause of its sickness, and it was purged and sweated and restored. R., Glory be to the Hand that has healed!
19. The land shall have peace in thy days, for it has seen thee that thou art full of peace. In thee shall the churches be p. 193 built, and shall be clothed with their ornaments, and their books shall be opened in them, and their tables shall be spread, and their ministers shall be adorned; from them shall go up thanksgiving, as first fruits to the Lord of peace. R., Blessed is He Who revives our Churches!
20. Let thy prayer go up to heaven, with it let reconciliation go up! May the Lord of Heaven rain down His blessings upon our [ ], and His consolations upon our afflictions, and His gathering upon our dispersion: may He waken His jealousy with His love; may His righteousness avenge our disgrace, may His grace blot out our iniquity! R., Blessed is He Who blesses His flock!
21. The first priest and first king, even as if depicted each in the other, were balanced as if in scales. So too Valgesh and so too the son of that king, for they were gentle and calm. May these latter be like each to other; the priests be shining lights, the king be glowing lights, likewise illustrious judges! R., Blessed be He Who has enlightened our souls!
22. From the kings office laws, and from the priests office propitiations. That both should be mild is hateful; that both should be strong is grievous. Let one be strong and one be tender; in prudence and in discretion, let fear with mercy be mingled. Let our priesthood be tender, likewise our king strong. R., Blessed be He Who has mingled our helps!
23. Let the priests pray for the kings, that they may be a wall to mankind! From beside the kings be victory; and from beside the priests faith! May victory save our bodies, and faith our souls! May kings put an end to war; priests put an end to strife! May disputing and quarrelling cease! R., Blessed be the Son of Him Who gives peace to all! Praise to Thee for Thy gift!
Next: Hymn XXII-XXXIV
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