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 II.
1. Whereunto art thou like? Let thy stillness speak to one that hears; with silent mouth speak with us: for whoso hears the stammerings of thy silence, to him thy type utters its silent cry concerning our Redeemer.
Thy mother is a virgin of the sea; though he took her not [to wife]: she fell into his bosom, though he knew her not; she conceived thee near him, though he did not know her. Do thou, that art a type, reproach the Jewish women that have thee hung upon them. Thou art the only progeny of all forms which art like to the Word on High, Whom singly the Most High begot. The engraven forms seem to be the type of created things above. This visible offspring of the invisible womb is a type of great things. 522 Thy goodly conception was without seed, and without wedlock was thy pure generation, and without brethren was thy single birth.
Our Lord had brethren and yet not brethren, since He was an Only-Begotten. O solitary one, thou type exact of the Only-Begotten! There is a type of thine in the crown of kings, [wherein] thou hast brothers and sisters.
Goodly gems are thy brethren, with beryls and unions as thy companions: may gold be as it were thy kinsman, may there be unto the King of kings a crown from thy well-beloved ones! When thou camest up from the sea, that living tomb, thou didst cry out. Let me have a goodly assemblage of brethren, relatives, and kinsmen. As the wheat is in the stalk, so thou art in the crown with princes: and it is a just restoration to thee, as if of a pledge, 523 that from that depth thou shouldest be exalted to a goodly eminence. Wheat the stalk bears in the field; thee the head of the king upon his chariot carries about.
O daughter of the water, who hast left sea, wherein thou wert born, and art gone up to the dry land, wherein thou art beloved: for men have loved and seized and adorned themselves with thee, like as they did that Offspring Whom the Gentiles loved and crowned themselves withal.
It is by the mystery of truth that Leviathan is trodden down of mortals: the divers put him off, and put on Christ. In the sacrament of oil did the Apostles 524 steal Thee away, and came up. They snatched their souls from his mouth, bitter as it was.
p. 295 Thy Nature is like a silent lamb in its sweetness, of which if a man is to lay hold, he lifts it in a crucial form by its ears, as it was on Golgotha. He cast out abundantly all His gleams upon them that looked upon Him.
2. Shadowed forth in thy beauty is the beauty of the Son, Who clothed Himself with suffering when the nails passed through Him. The awl passed in thee since they handled thee roughly, as they did His hands; and because He suffered He reigned, as by thy sufferings thy beauty increased.
And if they showed no pity upon thee, neither did they love thee: still suffer as thou mightest, thou hast come to reign! Simon Peter 525 showed pity on the Rock; whoso hath smitten it, is himself thereby overcome; it is by reason of Its suffering that Its beauty hath adorned the height and the depth.
Pearls, he means, have their beauty by nature and so are like Christ; other stones must be graven and so are like created natures.294:523
Job 41:4, Ps. 71:14.294:524
See Note on Hymn V. 4 (below).295:525
Cephas; i.e., Rock.
Next: Hymn III.
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