Homily XXXII.

Homily XXXII.Page" BORDER=0>Homily XXXII.

ROM. XVI. 17, 18.-"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions andoffences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such servenot our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive thehearts of the simple."

Again an exhortation, and prayer after the exhortation. For after telling them to "mark themwhich cause(1) divisions," and not to listento them, he proceeds, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly:" and, "Thegrace of our Lord be with you." And notice how gently too he exhorts them: doing it not in thecharacter of a counsellor, but that of a servant, and with much respect. For he calls them brethren,and supplicates them likewise. For, "I beseech you, brethren," (he says). Then he also puts them onthe defensive by showing the deceitfulness of those who abused them. For as though they were not atonce to be discerned, he says, "I beseech you to mark," that is, to be exceedingly particular about,and to get acquainted with, and to search out thoroughly-whom, pray? why, "those that cause divisionsand offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned."(2) For this is, if anything the subversion of theChurch, the being in divisions. This is the devil's weapon, this turneth all things upside-down. Forso long as the body is joined into one, he has no power to get an entrance, but it is from divisionthat the offence cometh. And whence is division? From opinions contrary to the teaching of theApostles. And whence come opinions of this sort? From men's being slaves to the belly, and the otherpassions. For "such," he says, "serve not the Lord, but their own belly." And so there would be nooffence, there would be no division, unless some opinion were thought of contrary to the doctrine ofthe Apostles. And this he here points out by saying, "contrary to the doctrine." And he does not saywhich we have taught, but "which ye have learned," so anticipating them, and showing that they werepersuaded of and had heard them and received them. And what are we to do to those who make mischiefin this way? He does not say have a meeting and come to blows, but "avoid them." For if it was fromignorance or error that they did this, one ought to set them right. But if they sin willingly, springaway from them. And in another place too he says this. For he says, "Withdraw from every brother thatwalketh disorderly" (2 Thess. iii. 6): and in speaking to Timothy about the coppersmith, he gives himthe like advice, and says, "Of whom be thou ware also." (2 Tim. iv. 15.) Then also to lash (kwmwdwn) those who dare to do such things, he mentions also the reason of theirdevising this division. "For they that are such," he says, "serve not our Lord Christ, but their ownbelly." And this he said too when he wrote to the Philippians, "Whose god is their belly." (Phil.iii. 19.) But here he appears to me to intimate those of the Jews, whom he ever uses particularly tofind fault with as gluttonous. For in writing to Titus too, he said of them, "Evil beasts, slowbellies." (Tit. i. 12, see v. 10.) And Christ also blames them on this head: "Ye devour widows'houses" (Matt. xxiii. 14), He says. And the Prophets accuse them of things of the kind. For, "Mybeloved," He says, "hath waxen fat and gross, and hath kicked" (Deut. xxxii. 15). Wherefore alsoMoses exhorted them,and said, "When thou hast eaten and drunken and art full, remember the Lord thyGod." (ib. vi. 11, 12.) And in the Gospels, they who say to Christ, "What sign showest thou unto us?"(John vi. 30) pass over everything else, and remember the manna. So do they everywhere appear to bepossessed with this affection. How then comest thou not to be ashamed at having slaves of the bellyfor thy teachers, when thou art a brother of Christ? Now the ground of the error is this, but themode of attack is again a different disorder, viz. flattery. For it is by "fair speeches," he says,"that they deceive the hearts of the simple." For their attention reaches only to words; but theirmeaning is not such, for it is full of fraud. And be does not say that they deceive you, but "thehearts of the simple." And even with this he was not satisfied, but with a view to making thisstatement less grating, he says,

Ver. 19. "For your obedience is come abroad unto all men?"

This he does, not to leave them free to be shameless, but to win them beforehand with encomiums,and the number of his witnesses, to arrest their attention. For neither is it I alone that am thewitness, but the whole world. And he does not say for your understanding, but, "your obedience:" thatis, their compliance, which was evidence of much meekness in them. "I am glad therefore on yourbehalf." And this is no small encomium too. Then, after the praise, admonition. For lest, afterliberating them from any charges against them, he should make them the more listless, as not beingobserved; he gives them another hint in the words,

"I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil."

You see then how he attacks them again, and that without their suspecting it. For this looks likeintimating that some of them were apt to be led astray.

Ver. 20. "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."

For since he had spoken of those who "caused divisions and offences among them," he has mentioned"the God of peace" also, that they might feel hopeful about the riddance of these evils. For he thatrejoiceth in this (i. e., peace) will put an end to that which makes havoc of it. And he does notsay, will subject, but "will bruise" (Gen. iii. 19), which is a stronger expression. And not thosepeople only, but also him who was the general over them herein, Satan. And not "will bruise" merely,but "under your feet," so that they may obtain the victory themselves, and become noble by thetrophy. And the time again is made a ground of comfort. For he adds, "shortly." And this was prayerand prophecy as well at once. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."

That greatest weapon; that impregnable wall; that tower unshaken! For he reminds them of thegrace, that he may give them the more alacrity. Because if ye have been freed from the ills moregrievous by far, and freed by grace only, much more will ye be freed from the lesser, now ye havebecome friends too, and contribute your own share likewise. You see how he neither puts prayerwithout works, nor works without prayer. For after giving them credit for their obedience, than heprays; to show that we need both, our own part as well as God's part, if we are to be duly saved. Forit was not before only, but now too, even though we be great and in high esteem, we need grace fromHim.

Ver. 21. "Timotheus my work-fellow saluteth you."

Observe the customary encomiums again. "And Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater my kinsmen."

This Jason Luke also mentions, and sets before us his manliness also, when he says, that "theydrew" him "to the rulers of the city, crying," etc. (Acts xvii. 5.) And it is likely that the otherstoo were men of note. For he does not mention relations barely, unless they were also like him inreligiousness.

Ver. 22. "I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, salute you."

This too is no small encomium, to be Paul's amanuensis. Still it is not to pass encomiums onhimself that he says this, but that he might attach a warm love to him on their part, for thisministration.

Ver. 23. "Gains mine host (cenoj), and ofthe whole Church, salutethyou."

See what a crown he has framed for him by bearing witness to such great hospitality in him, andbrought in the entire Church into this man's house! For by the word cenon, used here, he means a host, not a guest. But when you hear that he wasPaul's host, do not admire him for his munificence only, but also for his strictness of life. Forexcept he were worthy of Paul's excellency, he would never have lodged there, since he, who tookpains to go beyond(3) many of Christ'scommands, would never have trespassed against that law, which bids us be very particular about whoreceive us, and about lodging with "worthy" persons. (Matt. x. 11.) "Erastus, the chamberlain of thecity, salutes you, and Quartus a brother." There is a purpose in his adding "the chamberlain of thecity," for as he wrote to the Philippians, "They of Caesar's household salute you" (Phil. iv. 22),that he might show that the Gospel had taken a hold upon great folk, so here too he mentions thetitlewith a view to the same object, and to show that, to the man who gives heed, neither riches area hindrance, nor the cares of government, nor anything elseof the kind.

Ver. 24. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."(4)

See what we ought to begin and to end with everywhere! For in this he laid the foundation of theEpistle, and in this he putteth on the roof, at once praying for the mother of all good things forthem, and calling the whole of his loving-kindness to their mind. For this is the best proof of agenerous teacher, to benefit his learners not by word only, but likewise by prayer, for which causealso one said, "But let us give ourselves contiually to prayers, and to the ministry of the word."(Acts vi. 4.)

Who is there then to pray over us, since Paul hath departed? These who(5) are the imitators of Paul. Only let us yieldourselves worthy of such intercession (sunhgoriaj), that it may not bethat we hear Paul's voice here only, but that hereafter, when we are departed, we may be countedworthy to see the wrestler of Christ.(6) Orrather, if we hear him here, we shall certainly see him hereafter, if not as standing near him, yetsee him we certainly shall, glistening near the Throne of the king.(7) Where the Cherubim sing the glory, where theSeraphim are flying, there shall we see Paul, with Peter, and as a chief(8) and leader of the choir of the Saints, and shallenjoy his generous love. For if when here he loved men so, that when he had the choice of departingand being with Christ, he chose to be here, much more will he there display a warmer affection. Ilove Rome even for this, although indeed one has other grounds for praising it, both for itsgreatness, and its antiquity, and its beauty, and its populousness, and for its power, and itswealth, and for its successes in war. But I let all this pass, and esteem it blessed on this account,that both in his lifetime he wrote to them, and loved them so, and talked with them whiles he waswith us, and brought his life to a close there.(9) Wherefore the city is more notable upon thisground, than upon all others together. And as a body great and strong, it hath as two glistening eyesthe bodies of these Saints. Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is thecity of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From thence will Paul becaught up, from thence Peter. Just bethink you, and shudder (fricate) atthe thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul ariseth suddenly from that deposit, togetherwith Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord. (1 Thess. iv. 17.) What a rose will Rome send up toChrist! (Is. xxxv. 1) what two crowns will the city have about it! what golden chains will she begirded with! what fountains possess! Therefore I admire the city, not for the much gold, not for thecolumns, not for the other display there, but for these pillars of the Church. (1 Cor. xv. 38.) Wouldthat it were now given me to throw myself round (perixuqhnai) the body ofPaul, and be riveted to the tomb, and to see the dust of that body that "filled up that which waslacking" after "Christ" Col. i. 24), that bore "the marks" (stigmata,)(Gal. vi. 17) that sowed the Gospel everywhere yea, the dust of that body through which he ran to andfro everywhere! the dust of that body through which Christ spoke, and the Light shone forth morebrilliant than any lightning, and the voice started out, more awful than any thunder to the devils!through which he uttered that blessed voice, saying, "I could wish that myself were accursed, for mybrethren" (Rom. ix. 3), through which he spake "before kings, and was not ashamed!" (Ps. cxix. 46)through which we come to know Paul through which also Paul's Master! Not so awful to us is thethunder, as was that voice to the demons! For if they shuddered at his clothes (Acts xix. 12), muchmore did they at his voice. This led them away captive, this cleansed out the world, this put a stopto diseases, cast out vice, lifted the truth on high, had Christ riding(10) upon it, and everywhere went about with Him; andwhat the Cherubim were, this was Paul's voice, for as He was seated upon those Powers, so was He uponPaul's tongue. For it had become worthy of receiving Christ, by speaking those things only which wereacceptable to Christ, and flying as the Seraphim to height unspeakable! for what more lofty than thatvoice which says, "For I am persuaded that neither Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers, nor thingspresent, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separateus from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus?" (Rom. viii. 38, 39.) What pinions doth not thisdiscourse seem to thee to have? what eyes? (Ez. x. 12.) It was owing to this that he said, "for weare not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. ii. 11.) Owing to this did the devils flee not only athearing him speak, but even at seeing his garments. This is the mouth, the dust whereof I would fainsee, through which Christ spake the great and secret things, and greater than in His own person, (foras He wrought, so He also spake greater things by the disciples,(11) ) through which the Spirit gave those wondrousoracles to the world! For what good thing did not that mouth effect? Devils it drave out, sins itloosed, tyrants it muzzled, philosophers' mouths it stopped, the world it brought over to God,savages it persuaded to learn wisdom, all the whole order of the earth it altered. Things in Heaventoo it disposed what way it listed (1 Cor. v. 3, 4), binding whom it would, and loosing in the otherworld, "according unto the power given unto it." (2 Cor. xiii. 10.) Nor is it that mouth only, butthe heart too would fain see the dust of, which a man would not do wrong to call the heart of theworld, and a fountain of countless blessings, and a beginning, and element of our life. For thespirit of life was furnished out of it all, and was distributed through the members of Christ, not asbeing sent forth by arteries, but by a free choice of good deeds. This heart was so large, as to takein entire cities, and peoples, and nations. "For my heart" he says, "is enlarged." (ib. vi. 11.) Yeteven a heart thus large, did this very charity that enlarged it many a time straiten and oppress. Forhe says, "Out of much affliction (qliyewj) and anguish (sunoxhj) of heart I wrote unto you." (ib. ii. 4.) I were desirous to see thatheart even after its dissolution, which burned at each one that was lost, which travailed a secondtime with the children that had proved abortions (Gal. iv. 19), which saw God,(12) ("for the pure in heart," He says, "shall seeGod,") (Matt. v. 8) which became a Sacrifice, ("for a sacrifice to God is a contrite heart,") (Ps.li. 17) which was loftier than the heavens, which was wider than the world, which was brighter thanthe sun's beam, which was warmer than fire, which was stronger than adamant, which sent forth rivers,("for rivers," it says, "of living water shall flow out of his belly,") (John vii. 38) wherein was afountain springing up, and watering, not the face of the earth, but the souls of men, whence notrivers only, but even fountains of(13) tears,issued day and night, which lived the new life, not this of ours, (for "I live," he says, "yet not I,but Christ liveth in me," (Gal. ii. 20) so Paul's heart was His heart, and a tablet of the HolySpirit, and a book of grace); which trembled for the sins of others, (for I fear, he says, lest byany means "I have bestowed labor upon you in vain; (ib. iv. 11) lest as the serpent beguiled Eve; (2Cor. xi. 3) lest when I come I should find you not such as I would;") (ib. xii. 20) which both fearedfor itself, and was confiding too, (for I fear, he says, "lest by any means after having preached toothers I myself should be a castaway," (1 Cor. ix. 27) And, "I am persuaded that neither angels norpowers shall be able to separate us;") (alluding to Rom. ix. 3) which was counted worthy to loveChrist as no other man loved Him: which despised death and hell, yet was broken down by brothers'tears, (for he says, "what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?") (Acts xxi. 13) which was mostenduring, and yet could not bear to be absent from the Thessalonians by the space of an hour! (1Thess. ii. 17; iii. 10.) Fain would I see the dust of hands that were in a chain, through theimposition of which the Spirit was furnished, through which the divine writings were written, (for"behold how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand:" (Gal. vi. 11) and again, "Thesalutation of me Paul with mine own hand,") (1 Cor. xvi. 21) of those hands at the sight of which theserpent "fell off into the fire." (Acts xxviii. 5.) Fain would I see the dust of those eyes whichwere blinded gloriously, which recovered their sight again for the salvation of the world; which evenin the body were counted worthy to see Christ, which saw earthly things, yet saw them not, which sawthe things which are not seen, which saw not sleep, which were watchful at midnight, which were noteffected as eyes are. I would also see the dust of those feet, which ran through the world and werenot weary; which were bound in the stocks when the prison shook, which went through parts habitableor uninhabited, which walked on so many journeys. And why need I speak of single parts? Fain would Isee the tomb, where the armor of righteousness is laid up, the armor of light, the limbs which nowlive, but which in life were made dead; and in all whereof Christ lived, which were crucified to theworld, which were Christ's members, which were clad in Christ, were a temple of the Spirit, an holybuilding, "bound in the Spirit," (Acts xx. 22) riveted to the fear of God, which had the marks ofChrist. This body is a wall to that City, which is safer than all towers, and than thousands ofbattlements. And with it is that of Peter. For he honored him while alive. For he "went up to seePeter." (Gal. i. 18) and therefore even when departed grace deigned to give him the same abode withhim. Fain would I see the spiritual Lion. For as a lion breathing (Gr. sending,) (Cant. ii. 15) forthfire (pur afieij) upon the herds of foxes, so rushed he upon the clan ofdemons and philosophers, and as the burst of some thunderbolt, was borne down into the host of thedevil. (Luke xiii. 32.) For he did not even come to set the battle in array against him, since hefeared so and trembled at him, as that if he saw his shadow, and heard his voice, he fled even at adistance. And so did he deliver over to him the fornicator, though at a distance, and again snatchedhim out of his hands (1 Cor. v. 5, 2 Cor. ii. 7, 11); and so others also, that they might be taught"not to blaspheme." (1 Tim. i. 20.) And consider how he sent forth his own liegemen against him,rousing them, suppling them. And at one time he says to the Ephesians, "We wrestle not against fleshand blood, but against principalities and powers." (Eph. vi. 12.) Then too he puts our prize inheavenly places. For we struggle not for things of the earth, he says, but for Heaven, and the thingsin the Heavens. And to others, he says, "Know ye not that we shall judge Angels? how much more thethings of this life?" (1 Cor. vi. 3.) Let us then, laying all this to heart, stand nobly; for Paulwas a man, partaking of the same nature with us, and having everything else in common with us. Butbecause he showed such great love toward Christ, he went up above the Heavens, and stood with theAngels. And so if we too would rouse ourselves up some little, and kindle in ourselves that fire, weshall be able to emulate that holy man. For were this impossible, he would never have cried aloud,and said, "Be ye imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (1 Cor. xi. 1.) Let us not then admire himonly, or be struck with him only, but imitate him, that we too may, when we depart hence, be countedworthy to see him, and to share the glory unutterable, which God grant that we may all attain to bythe grace and love toward man of our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom, and with Whom, be glory to theFather, with the Holy Ghost, now and evermore. Amen.parparpar