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 IX.
p. 279 Hymn IX.
(Resp., Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!)
1. O John, who sawest the Spirit,—that abode on the head of the Son,—to show how the Head of the Highest—went down and was baptized—and came up to be Head on earth!—Children of the Spirit ye have thus become,—and Christ has become for you the Head:—ye also have become His members.
2. Consider and see how exalted ye are;—how instead of the river Jordan—ye have glorious Baptism, wherein is peace;—spreading her wings to shade your bodies.—In the wilderness John baptized:—in Her pure flood of Baptism,—purely are ye baptized therein.
3. Infants think when they see its glory,—that by its pomp its might is enhanced.—But it is the same, and within itself—is not divided.—But the might which never waxes less or greater—in us is little or again great;—and he in whom is great understanding,—great in him is Baptism.
4. A mans knowledge, if it be exalted,—exalted also is his degree above his brethren;—and he whose faith is great,—so also is his promise;—and as is his wisdom, so also his crowning.—As is the light, which though it be all goodly—and equal all of it with itself,—yet goodlier is one eye than another.
5. Jesus mingled His might in the water:—put ye Him on my brethren as discerning men!—For there are that in the water merely—perceive that they are washed. With our body be our soul washed!—The manifest water let the body perceive,—and the soul the secret might;—that both to the manifest and to the secret ye may be made like!
6. How beautiful is Baptism—in the eye of the heart; come, let us gaze on it!—Like as by a seal ye have been moulded;—receive ye its image,—that nought may be lacking to us of our image!—For the sheep that are white of heart—gaze on the glory that is in the water:—in your souls reflect ye it!
7. Water is by nature as a mirror,—for one who in it examines himself.—Stir up thy soul, thou that discernest,—and be like unto it!—For it in its midst reflects thy image;—from it, on it, find an example;—gaze in it on Baptism,—and put on the beauty that is hidden therein!
8. What profits it him that hears—a voice and knows not its significance?—Whoso hears a voice and is devoid—of the understanding thereof,—his ear is filled but his soul is empty.—Lo! since the gift is abundant,—with discernment receive ye it.
9. Baptism that is with understanding—is the conjunction of two lights,—and rich are the fountains of its rays.—……—And the darkness that is on the mind departs,—and the soul beholds Him in beauty,—the hidden Christ of glory,—and grieves when the glory fails.
10. Baptism without understanding—is a treasure full yet empty;—since he that receives it is poor in it,—for he understands not—how great are its riches into which he enters and dwells.—For great is the gift within it,—though the mean man perceives not—that he is exalted even as it.
11. Open wide your minds and see, my brethren,—the secret column in the air, whose base is fixed from the midst of the water—unto the door of the Highest Place, like the ladder that Jacob saw.—Lo! by it came down the light unto Baptism,—and by it the soul goes up to Heaven,—that in one love we may be mingled.
p. 280 12. Our Lord when he was baptized by John—sent forth twelve fountains;—and they issued forth and cleansed by their streams—the defilement of the peoples.—His worshippers are made white like His garments,—the garments in Tabor and the body in the water.—Instead of the garments the peoples are made white,—and have become for Him a clothing of glory.
13. From your garments learn, my brethren,—how your members should be kept.—For if the garment, which ever so many times—may be made clean,—is duly kept for the sake of its comeliness,—the body which has but one baptism—manifold more exceeding is the care of its keeping,—for manifold are its dangers.
14. Again the sun in a house that is strait,—is straitened therein though he be great:—but in a house that is goodly and large,—when he rises thereon—far and wide in it he spreads his rays;—and though the sun is one and the same in his nature,—in divers houses he undergoes changes:—Even so our Lord in divers men.
Next: Hymn X.
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