Fifty Spiritual Homilies. Homily 32
7 min read
7 min read
The glory of Christians abides even now in their souls, and will be manifested at the time of resurrection, and will glorify their bodies in correspondence with their piety.
1. The languages of this world differ. Every nation has a language of its own. But Christians learn one new language, and are all instructed under one wisdom of God, not a wisdom of this world, nor of this passing age. And as Christians walk in this creation, they come upon new and heavenly sights, and upon glories and mysteries, taking occasion by what meets their senses.
There are various kinds of tame animals, as horse and ox. Each of them has its own body and its own voice. So also among wild beasts; the lion has its own body and its own voice, and the stag likewise. And among creeping things there is great variety, and among winged creatures there are, many forms of body. The body and voice of the eagle is one, the body and voice of the hawk is another. There are the same varieties in the sea—many bodies unlike each other; and in the earth there are many seeds, but each seed has its own fruit. There are many trees; but some trees are bigger and some smaller, and the crops that they bear are very different; for each kind of tree has a flavour of its own. And there are herbs, and great differences between them—some profitable for health, others only for fragrance. But each tree produces from within the clothing which meets the eye, leaves, and blossoms, and fruits. The seeds likewise bring forth from within the clothing that we see. The lilies themselves produce their raiment from within, and adorn the sward.
2. Even so those Christians, to whom it has been granted to gain in this life the heavenly raiment, have that raiment dwelling in their souls; and when it is foreordained of God that this creation should be dissolved, and that heaven and earth should pass away, then the heavenly raiment, which here and now had clothed and glorified their souls, and which they had possessed in their hearts, that same shall assuredly enrobe with glory their naked bodies also, which rise from the tombs, the bodies which awake in that day, even with the invisible heavenly gift and raiment which Christians receive even now.
But as the sheep or the camels, when they find grass, greedily and hastily get to the food and store up provender within themselves, and in time of hunger bring up the same from their maw, and chew the cud, and have for their food what they had before laid in; so in like manner those who have now seized the kingdom of heaven, and living in spirit have tasted of the heavenly food, at the time of resurrection have that same to cover and to warm all their members.
3. As then we spoke of the variety of seeds, that many are sown in the same ground and yield a diversity of fruits, all unlike each other; and likewise of trees, that some are bigger and some less, but one ground holds the roots of them all; even so the heavenly church, being but one, is without number, and each is adorned by the glory of the Spirit in a manner peculiar to himself. For as the birds produce out of their own bodies the raiment of their feathers, and great is the variety among them—for some flit along near the ground, while others soar in the air—or as the heaven is one, and contains in itself many stars, some brighter, some greater, some smaller, but all are fixed in the heaven; so the saints are in divers manners rooted in the one heaven of the Godhead and in the earth invisible. So also the thoughts which come to Adam are different when they come, but the Spirit coming into the heart makes one thought and one heart, for both those above and those below are governed by the same Spirit.
4. But what are the animals that divide the hoof? Since with their cloven hoof they make straight way, they are set for a figure of those who walk uprightly in the law. But as the body’s shadow is from the body itself, but cannot fulfil any fleshly function—for a shadow cannot bind up wounds, or give food, or speak—and yet it is from the body itself, and shows in advance the coming of the body, so the ancient law is a shadow of the new covenant. The shadow reveals the truth beforehand, but it had no ministration of the Spirit. Moses, clothed in flesh, could not enter into the heart, and take away the filthy garments of darkness. Only spirit of spirit and fire of fire dissolves the power of the evil darkness. Circumcision, in the shadow of the law, foreshows the true circumcision of the heart approaching. The baptism of the law is a shadow of the true realities. That baptism washed the body; but here a baptism of fire and Spirit cleanses and washes the polluted mind. 5. There a priest compassed with infirmity entered into the holy place offering sacrifice for himself and for the people; here the true High Priest, even Christ, entered once for all into the tabernacle not made with hands and the altar above, ready to cleanse those who ask Him, and the conscience that has been defiled. For He says, I will be with you until the end of the world. The high priest had on his breast two precious stones, and they bore the names of the twelve patriarchs. What was done there was a type. For in such a manner the Lord put on the apostles and sent them as evangelists and heralds of the whole world. You see how the shadow shows the approach of the reality. Yet just as the shadow has no function to perform, and heals no troubles, so neither could the ancient law heal the wounds or troubles of the soul; for indeed it had no life.
6. The conjunction of two particular things makes a perfect whole—for example, two covenants. Man was made after the image and similitude of God: he has two eyes, two eyebrows, two hands, two feet, and if he should chance to have but one eye, or one hand, or one foot, it is something to find fault with. If a bird has but one wing, it cannot possibly fly with it. So the nature of mankind, if it remains naked and by itself, and does not receive the mixture and communion of the heavenly nature, has failed to be put right. It remains naked and deserving of blame in its own nature, in great defilement. For the soul itself was surnamed the temple and habitation of God, and the King’s bride; for it says, I will dwell in them, and walk in them. So it pleased God; because He came down from holy heavens and embraced thy reasonable nature, the flesh, which is of the earth, and mingled it with His divine Spirit, in order that thou, the earthy, mightest receive the heavenly soul. And when thy soul has communion with the Spirit, and the heavenly soul enters into thy soul, then art thou a perfect man in God, and an heir, and a son.
7. But as neither the ages above nor those below can take in the greatness and incomprehensibleness of God, so neither the worlds above nor those on earth are able to comprehend His minuteness, and how He makes Himself small to those who are minute and small. As His greatness is incomprehensible, so also is His minuteness; and it comes to pass that He arranges for thee to be in afflictions, and sufferings, and humiliations; and the things which thou deemest to be contrary to thee, these prove to be for thy soul’s good. If thou desirest to be in the world, and to become rich, misfortune meets thee. Thou beginnest to think with thyself, “Because I have failed in the world, what if I were to go away and renounce it and serve God?” When thou art come to this point, thou hearest the commandment saying, “Sell what thou hast; hate fleshly society; serve God.” Then thou beginnest to thank thy misfortune in the world, that “on that account I am found obedient to the commandment of Christ.” Well then, in part, so far as outward things go, thou hast changed thy mind, and withdrawn from the world and from fleshly society: it behoves thee therefore to be changed in mind likewise from the fleshly temper to the heavenly temper. Well, at the very sound thereof, thou beginnest to discriminate, and thou no longer hast rest, but only care and trouble to gain what thou hast heard of. 8. And when thou deemest thyself to have done all by renouncing, the Lord taketh account with thee. “Why dost thou boast? Did not I create thy body and thy soul? Did not I make the gold and silver? What hast thou done?” The soul begins to make confession and to beseech the Lord, and say, “All things are Thine. The house I am in is Thine. My clothes are Thine. From Thee is my food, and of Thee am I supplied for every need.” Then the Lord begins to reply: “I thank thee. The goods are thine own. The good will is thine own; and because of thy love towards Me, since thou hast made Me thy refuge, come, I will now give thee what hitherto neither thou hast gained, nor do men have it upon earth. Take Me, thy Lord, with thine own soul, that thou mayest ever be with Me in joy and gladness.”
9. A woman espoused to a husband brings all that she has and her whole dowry, and out of her great affection casts it into the hands of her husband, and says this: “I have nothing of my own. All that I have is yours; and my dowry is yours, and my soul and my body are yours.” So also the wise soul is virgin to the Lord, having communion with His Holy Spirit. But as He, when He came upon earth, suffered and was crucified, so it behoves thee also to suffer with Him. When thou withdrawest from the world, and beginnest to seek God, and to discriminate, then thou findest thyself at war with thine own nature in its old habits and the custom that thou hast grown up with; and in warring against custom, thou discoverest thoughts that oppose thee, and war against thy mind, and these thoughts drag thee and make thee stray into the material world from which thou camest out. So thou beginnest to wage conflict and battle, setting in motion thoughts against thoughts, mind against mind, soul against soul, spirit against spirit; and there the soul is in agony of fear. 10. For there is revealed a certain hidden, subtle power of darkness seated in the heart; and the Lord is nigh thy soul and body, seeing thy battle, and puts in thee secret heavenly thoughts, and begins to give thee rest in secret. But He suffers thee to be chastened for a while, and grace provides that thou shouldest come into these very afflictions; and when thou comest into rest, grace makes herself known to thee, and shows thee that it was for thy benefit that she permitted thee to be exercised. It is as when a rich man has a child, and the child a tutor. For a while he makes him smart with straps; and the chastisement, and the stripes, and the weals appear grievous, until the child becomes a man, and then he begins to thank the tutor. So does grace chastise thee by design, until thou comest unto a perfect man.
11. The husbandman flings the seed in every direction; and he who plants a vine wishes that all of it should bear fruit. So he applies the pruning-hook, and if he finds no fruit, he is grieved. So the Lord wishes His word to be sown in the hearts of men. But as the husbandman is grieved at the unrepaying ground, so the Lord is grieved at the unrepaying heart which bears no fruit. As the winds blow everywhere, over all creation, and as the sun lightens upon all the world, so the Godhead is everywhere, and is everywhere found. If thou seekest Him in heaven, He is found there in the thoughts of the angels. If thou seekest Him upon earth, He is found here also in the hearts of men. But few out of many are found the Christians who are well pleasing to Him. Glory and majesty to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen.