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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 XL.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Hymn XL.

1.  The Evil One perceived his great humiliation, and boasted himself in the presence of his servants:  he spoke great words to persuade them and said:  “The knowledge which I possess, little of it is by nature; and much of it, yea all of it, is by learning.  I to myself have been master, and have exerp. 203 cised my understanding.  Without a teacher I have learnt all; I have armed myself with every weapon, and have won by it the crown which I desired among mankind.”  R., Blessed is He that has come and undone the snares of sin!

2.  Among the Pharisees I clothed myself in hatred, that I might contend with Him, even the Son of Mary.  Wrath like a bow rained shafts; boldness railed upon Him; fury rebelled against Him; ingratitude slandered Him; envy and jealousy in their wrath, strove with Him; and blasphemy took up stones.  The Healer came in and stood among the sick, and I stirred up the diseased in contention against Him.

3.  Because He fell not under reproach, it was in questions that I took refuge.  Many times did I stir up occasions, but I saw that my falsehood was rebuked, and my impudence was made known, and my vain babbling was despised.  To the windings of contention I betook myself.  Everywhere that I disputed with Him, all my labor was as chaff, and the word of truth scattered it on every side.

4.  I saw that there is a warrior and a mighty lord, in cunning within man:  [and the snake that is without makes it fear.]  His lusts within him is coiled continually; his jealousy hisses like a serpent.  Deadly desires he begets, and of a fever he is in dread.  Command as a drug, is able to quell derision, which smites unto destruction.  It is love that avails to break the sting secret and bitter of the tongue.

5.  Who is more foolish than men, who rather than for himself cares for his dwelling!  The garments that are in his chest he examines daily, and a worm is lurking in his members.  The rents that are in his clothes he mends, but a rent is made in his soul.  His house is lighted up but his heart is dark.  He shuts up his senses but opens his windows.  He closes his door and guards his money; his mouth is open and the treasure of his thought is stolen.

6.  The fool makes more of his beasts than of himself, for he cares for his possessions rather than for his soul.  Good seed he sows in his ground; in his heart he sows tares.  His understanding is thrown open and cast down; but at the fences of his vineyard he labours.  He chooses and plants vine-plants; while his mind is a vine of the vines of Sodom.  He keeps off the wild ass from his sowing; but the wild boar of the wood devours his thoughts.

7.  I am a furnace to the sons of men, and in me are tried their counsels.  Therefore is it lawful to me to weave deceit.  I teach the Chaldean art:  by reason of the true things that befall, the false things are believed.  In the midst of Egypt I closed men’s eyes; I showed insects, men thought they were though they were not.  By closing men’s eyes I teach the signs of the Zodiac, though they are not in the heavens.

8.  By reason of my swiftness I fly and see, and I show beforehand to the soothsayer; they who err concerning me count me a prophet.  But sometimes I make bold; and I ask that for an hour, secret things be revealed to me, that true men may be proved by me even as Job, likewise deceivers as Saul.  For the one I revealed his sorcery; and for the other I purged his truth and he was praised.

Next: Hymn XLI.

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