Chapter 1. The Office of the Instructor
As there are these three things in the case of man, habits, actions, and passions; habits are the department appropriated by hortatory discourse the guide to piety, which, like the ship’s keel, is laid beneath for the building up of faith; in which, rejoicing exceedingly, and abjuring our old opinions, through salvation we renew our youth, singing with the hymning prophecy, How good is God to Israel, to such as are upright in heart! All actions, again, are the province of preceptive discourse; while persuasive discourse applies itself to heal the passions. It is, however, one and the self-same word which rescues man from the custom of this world in which he has been reared, and trains him up in the one salvation of faith in God.
When, then, the heavenly guide, the Word, was inviting men to salvation, the appellation of hortatory was properly applied to Him: his same word was called rousing (the whole from a part). For the whole of piety is hortatory, engendering in the kindred faculty of reason a yearning after true life now and to come. But now, being at once curative and preceptive, following in His own steps, He makes what had been prescribed the subject of persuasion, promising the cure of the passions within us. Let us then designate this Word appropriately by the one name Tutor (or Pædagogue, or Instructor).
The Instructor being practical, not theoretical, His aim is thus to improve the soul, not to teach, and to train it up to a virtuous, not to an intellectual life. Although this same word is didactic, but not in the present instance. For the word which, in matters of doctrine, explains and reveals, is that whose province it is to teach. But our Educator being practical, first exhorts to the attainment of right dispositions and character, and then persuades us to the energetic practice of our duties, enjoining on us pure commandments, and exhibiting to such as come after representations of those who formerly wandered in error. Both are of the highest utility — that which assumes the form of counselling to obedience, and that which is presented in the form of example; which latter is of two kinds, corresponding to the former duality — the one having for its purpose that we should choose and imitate the good, and the other that we should reject and turn away from the opposite.
Hence accordingly ensues the healing of our passions, in consequence of the assuagements of those examples; the Pædagogue strengthening our souls, and by His benign commands, as by gentle medicines, guiding the sick to the perfect knowledge of the truth.
There is a wide difference between health and knowledge; for the latter is produced by learning, the former by healing. One, who is ill, will not therefore learn any branch of instruction till he is quite well. For neither to learners nor to the sick is each injunction invariably expressed similarly; but to the former in such a way as to lead to knowledge, and to the latter to health. As, then, for those of us who are diseased in body a physician is required, so also those who are diseased in soul require a pædagogue to cure our maladies; and then a teacher, to train and guide the soul to all requisite knowledge when it is made able to admit the revelation of the Word. Eagerly desiring, then, to perfect us by a gradation conducive to salvation, suited for efficacious discipline, a beautiful arrangement is observed by the all-benignant Word, who first exhorts, then trains, and finally teaches.
Chapter 2. Our Instructor’s Treatment of Our Sins
Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father’s will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father’s right hand, and with the form of God is God. He is to us a spotless image; to Him we are to try with all our might to assimilate our souls. He is wholly free from human passions; wherefore also He alone is judge, because He alone is sinless. As far, however, as we can, let us try to sin as little as possible. For nothing is so urgent in the first place as deliverance from passions and disorders, and then the checking of our liability to fall into sins that have become habitual. It is best, therefore, not to sin at all in any way, which we assert to be the prerogative of God alone; next to keep clear of voluntary transgressions, which is characteristic of the wise man; thirdly, not to fall into many involuntary offenses, which is peculiar to those who have been excellently trained. Not to continue long in sins, let that be ranked last. But this also is salutary to those who are called back to repentance, to renew the contest.
And the Instructor, as I think, very beautifully says, through Moses: If any one die suddenly by him, straightway the head of his consecration shall be polluted, and shall be shaved, Numbers 6:9 designating involuntary sin as sudden death. And He says that it pollutes by defiling the soul: wherefore He prescribes the cure with all speed, advising the head to be instantly shaven; that is, counselling the locks of ignorance which shade the reason to be shorn clean off, that reason (whose seat is in the brain), being left bare of the dense stuff of vice, may speed its way to repentance. Then after a few remarks He adds, The days before are not reckoned irrational, Numbers 6:12 by which manifestly sins are meant which are contrary to reason. The involuntary act He calls sudden, the sin He calls irrational. Wherefore the Word, the Instructor, has taken the charge of us, in order to the prevention of sin, which is contrary to reason.
Hence consider the expression of Scripture, Therefore these things says the Lord; the sin that had been committed before is held up to reprobation by the succeeding expression therefore, according to which the righteous judgment follows. This is shown conspicuously by the prophets, when they said, Had you not sinned, He would not have uttered these threatenings. Therefore thus says the Lord; Because you have not heard these words, therefore these things the Lord; and, Therefore, behold, the Lord says. For prophecy is given by reason both of obedience and disobedience: for obedience, that we may be saved; for disobedience, that we may be corrected.
Our Instructor, the Word, therefore cures the unnatural passions of the soul by means of exhortations. For with the highest propriety the help of bodily diseases is called the healing art — an art acquired by human skill. But the paternal Word is the only Pæonian physician of human infirmities, and the holy charmer of the sick soul. Save, it is said, Your servant, O my God, who trusts in You. Pity me, O Lord; for I will cry to You all the day. For a while the physician’s art, according to Democritus, heals the diseases of the body; wisdom frees the soul from passion. But the good Instructor, the Wisdom, the Word of the Father, who made man, cares for the whole nature of His creature; the all-sufficient Physician of humanity, the Saviour, heals both body and soul. Rise up, He said to the paralytic; take the bed on which you lie and go away home; Mark 2:11 and straightway the infirm man received strength. And to the dead He said, Lazarus, go forth; John 11:43 and the dead man issued from his coffin such as he was before he died, having undergone resurrection. Further, He heals the soul itself by precepts and gifts — by precepts indeed, in course of time, but being liberal in His gifts, He says to us sinners, Your sins be forgiven you. Matthew 9:2
We, however, as soon as He conceived the thought, became His children, having had assigned us the best and most secure rank by His orderly arrangement, which first circles about the world, the heavens, and the sun’s circuits, and occupies itself with the motions of the rest of the stars for man’s kehoof, and then busies itself with man himself, on whom all its care is concentrated; and regarding him as its greatest work, regulated his soul by wisdom and temperance, and tempered the body with beauty and proportion. And whatever in human actions is right and regular, is the result of the inspiration of its rectitude and order.
Chapter 3. The Philanthropy of the Instructor
The Lord ministers all good and all help, both as man and as God: as God, forgiving our sins; and as man, training us not to sin. Man is therefore justly dear to God, since he is His workmanship. The other works of creation He made by the word of command alone, but man He framed by Himself, by His own hand, and breathed into him what was peculiar to Himself. What, then, was fashioned by Him, and after He likeness, either was created by God Himself as being desirable on its own account, or was formed as being desirable on account of something else. If, then, man is an object desirable for itself, then He who is good loved what is good, and the love-charm is within even in man, and is that very thing which is called the inspiration [or breath] of God; but if man was a desirable object on account of something else, God had no other reason for creating him, than that unless he came into being, it was not possible for God to be a good Creator, or for man to arrive at the knowledge of God. For God would not have accomplished that on account of which man was created otherwise than by the creation of man; and what hidden power in willing God possessed, He carried fully out by the forth-putting of His might externally in the act of creating, receiving from man what He made man; and whom He had He saw, and what He wished that came to pass; and there is nothing which God cannot do. Man, then, whom God made, is desirable for himself, and that which is desirable on his account is allied to him to whom it is desirable on his account; and this, too, is acceptable and liked.
But what is loveable, and is not also loved by Him? And man has been proved to be loveable; consequently man is loved by God. For how shall he not be loved for whose sake the only-begotten Son is sent from the Father’s bosom, the Word of faith, the faith which is superabundant; the Lord Himself distinctly confessing and saying, For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me; John 16:27 and again, And hast loved them as You have loved Me? John 17:23 What, then, the Master desires and declares, and how He is disposed in deed and word, how He commands what is to be done, and forbids the opposite, has already been shown.
Plainly, then, the other kind of discourse, the didactic, is powerful and spiritual, observing precision, occupied in the contemplation of mysteries. But let it stand over for the present. Now, it is incumbent on us to return His love, who lovingly guides us to that life which is best; and to live in accordance with the injunctions of His will, not only fulfilling what is commanded, or guarding against what is forbidden, but turning away from some examples, and imitating others as much as we can, and thus to perform the works of the Master according to His similitude, and so fulfil what Scripture says as to our being made in His image and likeness. For, wandering in life as in deep darkness, we need a guide that cannot stumble or stray; and our guide is the best, not blind, as the Scripture says, leading the blind into pits. Matthew 15:14 But the Word is keen-sighted, and scans the recesses of the heart. As, then, that is not light which enlightens not, nor motion that moves not, nor loving which loves not, so neither is that good which profits not, nor guides to salvation. Let us then aim at the fulfilment of the commandments by the works of the Lord; for the Word Himself also, having openly become flesh, John 1:14 exhibited the same virtue, both practical and contemplative. Wherefore let us regard the Word as law, and His commands and counsels as the short and straight paths to immortality; for His precepts are full of persuasion, not of fear.
Chapter 4. Men and Women Alike Under the Instructor’s Charge
Let us, then, embracing more and more this good obedience, give ourselves to the Lord; clinging to what is surest, the cable of faith in Him, and understanding that the virtue of man and woman is the same. For if the God of both is one, the master of both is also one; one church, one temperance, one modesty; their food is common, marriage an equal yoke; respiration, sight, hearing, knowledge, hope, obedience, love all alike. And those whose life is common, have common graces and a common salvation; common to them are love and training. For in this world, he says, they marry, and are given in marriage, Luke 20:34 in which alone the female is distinguished from the male; but in that world it is so no more. There the rewards of this social and holy life, which is based on conjugal union, are laid up, not for male and female, but for man, the sexual desire which divides humanity being removed. Common therefore, too, to men and women, is the name of man. For this reason I think the Attics called, not boys only, but girls, παιδάριον, using it as a word of common gender; if Menander the comic poet, in Rhapizomena, appears to any one a sufficient authority, who thus speaks:—
My little daughter; for by nature
The child (παιδάριον) is most loving.
Ἄρνες, too, the word for lambs, is a common name of simplicity for the male and female animal.
Now the Lord Himself will feed us as His flock forever. Amen. But without a sheperd, neither can sheep nor any other animal live, nor children without a tutor, nor domestics without a master.
Chapter 5. All Who Walk According to Truth are Children of God
That, then, Pædagogy is the training of children (παίδων ἀγωγή), is clear from the word itself. It remains for us to consider the children whom Scripture points to; then to give the pædagogue charge of them. We are the children. In many ways Scripture celebrates us, and describes us in manifold figures of speech, giving variety to the simplicity of the faith by diverse names. Accordingly, in the Gospel, the Lord, standing on the shore, says to the disciples— they happened to be fishing — and called aloud, Children, have you any meat? John 21:4-5 — addressing those that were already in the position of disciples as children. And they brought to Him, it is said, children, that He might put His hands on them and bless them; and when His disciples hindered them, Jesus said, Suffer the children, and forbid them not to come to Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14 What the expression means the Lord Himself shall declare, saying, Unless you be converted, and become as little chidren, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven; Matthew 18:3 not in that place speaking figuratively of regeneration, but setting before us, for our imitation, the simplicity that is in children.
The prophetic spirit also distinguishes us as children. Plucking, it is said, branches of olives or palms, the children went forth to meet the Lord, and cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord; Matthew 21:9 light, and glory, and praise, with supplication to the Lord: for this is the meaning of the expression Hosanna when rendered in Greek. And the Scripture appears to me, in allusion to the prophecy just mentioned, reproachfully to upbraid the thoughtless: Have you never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings You have perfected praise? In this way the Lord in the Gospels spurs on His disciples, urging them to attend to Him, hastening as He was to the Father; rendering His hearers more eager by the intimation that after a little He was to depart, and showing them that it was requisite that they should take more unsparing advantage of the truth than ever before, as the Word was to ascend to heaven. Again, therefore, He calls them children; for He says, Children, a little while I am with you. John 13:33 And, again, He likens the kingdom of heaven to children sitting in the market-places and saying, We have piped unto you, and you have not danced; we have mourned, and you have not lamented; and whatever else He added agreeably thereto. And it is not alone the Gospel that holds these sentiments. Prophecy also agrees with it. David accordingly says, Praise, O children, the Lord; praise the name of the Lord . It says also by Esaias, Here am I, and the children that God has given me. Isaiah 8:18 Are you amazed, then, to hear that men who belong to the nations are sons in the Lord’s sight? You do not in that case appear to give ear to the Attic dialect, from which you may learn that beautiful, comely, and freeborn young maidens are still called παιδίσκαι, and servant-girls παιδισκάρια; and that those last also are, on account of the bloom of youth, called by the flattering name of young maidens.
And when He says, Let my lambs stand on my right, Matthew 25:33 He alludes to the simple children, as if they were sheep and lambs in nature, not men; and the lambs He counts worthy of preference, from the superior regard He has to that tenderness and simplicity of disposition in men which constitutes innocence. Again, when He says, as suckling calves, He again alludes figuratively to us; and as an innocent and gentle dove, Matthew 10:16 the reference is again to us. Again, by Moses, He commands two young pigeons or a pair of turtles to be offered for sin; thus saying, that the harmlessness and innocence and placable nature of these tender young birds are acceptable to God, and explaining that like is an expiation for like. Further, the timorousness of the turtle-doves typifies fear in reference to sin.
And that He calls us chickens the Scripture testifies: As a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. Matthew 23:37 Thus are we the Lord’s chickens; the Word thus marvellously and mystically describing the simplicity of childhood. For sometimes He calls us children, sometimes chickens, sometimes infants, and at other times sons, and a new people, and a recent people. And my servants shall be called by a new name Isaiah 65:15-16 (a new name, He says, fresh and eternal, pure and simple, and childlike and true), which shall be blessed on the earth. And again, He figuratively calls us colts unyoked to vice, not broken in by wickedness; but simple, and bounding joyously to the Father alone; not such horses as neigh after their neighbours’ wives, that are under the yoke, and are female-mad; Jeremiah 5:8 but free and new-born, jubilant by means of faith, ready to run to the truth, swift to speed to salvation, that tread and stamp under foot the things of the world.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; tell aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes, just, meek, and bringing salvation; meek truly is He, and riding on a beast of burden, and a young colt. Zechariah 9:9; Genesis 49:11 It was not enough to have said colt alone, but He added to it also young, to show the youth of humanity in Christ, and the eternity of simplicity, which shall know no old age. And we who are little ones being such colts, are reared up by our divine colt-tamer. But if the new man in Scripture is represented by the ass, this ass is also a colt. And he bound, it is said, the colt to the vine, having bound this simple and childlike people to the word, whom He figuratively represents as a vine. For the vine produces wine, as the Word produces blood, and both drink for health to men — wine for the body, blood for the spirit.
And that He also calls us lambs, the Spirit by the mouth of Isaiah is an unimpeachable witness: He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs with His arm, Isaiah 40:11 — using the figurative appellation of lambs, which are still more tender than sheep, to express simplicity. And we also in truth, honouring the fairest and most perfect objects in life with an appellation derived from the word child, have named training παιδεία, and discipline παιδαγωγία . Discipline (παιδαγωγία) we declare to be right guiding from childhood to virtue. Accordingly, our Lord revealed more distinctly to us what is signified by the appellation of children. On the question arising among the apostles, which of them should be the greater, Jesus placed a little child in the midst, saying, Whosoever, shall humble himself as this little child, the same shall be the greater in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4 He does not then use the appellation of children on account of their very limited amount of understanding from their age, as some have thought. Nor, if He says, Unless you become as these children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of God, are His words to be understood as meaning without learning. We, then, who are infants, no longer roll on the ground, nor creep on the earth like serpents as before, crawling with the whole body about senseless lusts; but, stretching upwards in soul, loosed from the world and our sins, touching the earth on tiptoe so as to appear to be in the world, we pursue holy wisdom, although this seems folly to those whose wits are whetted for wickedness. Rightly, then, are those called children who know Him who is God alone as their Father, who are simple, and infants, and guileless, who are lovers of the horns of the unicorns.
To those, therefore, that have made progress in the word, He has proclaimed this utterance, bidding them dismiss anxious care of the things of this world, and exhorting them to adhere to the Father alone, in imitation of children. Wherefore also in what follows He says: Take no anxious thought for the morrow; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34 Thus He enjoins them to lay aside the cares of this life, and depend on the Father alone. And he who fulfils this commandment is in reality a child and a son to God and to the world — to the one as deceived, to the other as beloved. And if we have one Master in heaven, as the Scripture says, then by common consent those on the earth will be rightly called disciples. For so is the truth, that perfection is with the Lord, who is always teaching, and infancy and childishness with us, who are always learning. Thus prophecy has honoured perfection, by applying to it the appellation man. For instance, by David, He says of the devil: The Lord abhors the man of blood; he calls him man, as perfect in wickedness. And the Lord is called man, because He is perfect in righteousness. Directly in point is the instance of the apostle, who says, writing the Corinthians: For I have espoused you to one man, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2 whether as children or saints, but to the Lord alone. And writing to the Ephesians, he has unfolded in the clearest manner the point in question, speaking to the following effect: Till we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we be no longer children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by the craft of men, by their cunning in stratagems of deceit; but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up to Him in all things, Ephesians 4:13-15 — saying these things in order to the edification of the body of Christ, who is the head and man, the only one perfect in righteousness; and we who are children guarding against the blasts of heresies, which blow to our inflation; and not putting our trust in fathers who teach us otherwise, are then made perfect when we are the church, having received Christ the head. Then it is right to notice, with respect to the appellation of infant (νήπιος), that τὸ νήπιον is not predicated of the silly: for the silly man is called νηπύτιος: and νήπιος is νεήπιος (since he that is tender-hearted is called ἤπιος), as being one that has newly become gentle and meek in conduct. This the blessed Paul most clearly pointed out when he said, When we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ, we were gentle (ἤπιοι) among you, as a nurse cherishes her children. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7 The child (νήπιος) is therefore gentle (ἤπιος), and therefore more tender, delicate, and simple, guileless, and destitute of hypocrisy, straightforward and upright in mind, which is the basis of simplicity and truth. For He says, Upon whom shall I look, but upon him who is gentle and quiet? Isaiah 66:2 For such is the virgin speech, tender, and free of fraud; whence also a virgin is wont to be called a tender bride, and a child tender-hearted. And we are tender who are pliant to the power of persuasion, and are easily drawn to goodness, and are mild, and free of the stain of malice and perverseness, for the ancient race was perverse and hard-hearted; but the band of infants, the new people which we are, is delicate as a child. On account of the hearts of the innocent, the apostle, in the Epistle to the Romans, owns that he rejoices, and furnishes a kind of definition of children, so to speak, when he says, I would have you wise toward good, but simple towards evil. Romans 16:19 For the name of child, νήπιος, is not understood by us privatively, though the sons of the grammarians make the νη a privative particle. For if they call us who follow after childhood foolish, see how they utter blasphemy against the Lord, in regarding those as foolish who have betaken themselves to God. But if, which is rather the true sense, they themselves understand the designation children of simple ones, we glory in the name. For the new minds, which have newly become wise, which have sprung into being according to the new covenant, are infantile in the old folly. Of late, then, God was known by the coming of Christ: For no man knows God but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him. Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22
In contradistinction, therefore, to the older people, the new people are called young, having learned the new blessings; and we have the exuberance of life’s morning prime in this youth which knows no old age, in which we are always growing to maturity in intelligence, are always young, always mild, always new: for those must necessarily be new, who have become partakers of the new Word. And that which participates in eternity is wont to be assimilated to the incorruptible: so that to us appertains the designation of the age of childhood, a lifelong spring-time, because the truth that is in us, and our habits saturated with the truth, cannot be touched by old age; but Wisdom is ever blooming, ever remains consistent and the same, and never changes. Their children, it is said, shall be borne upon their shoulders, and fondled on their knees; as one whom his mother comforts, so also shall I comfort you. Isaiah 66:12-13 The mother draws the children to herself; and we seek our mother the Church. Whatever is feeble and tender, as needing help on account of its feebleness, is kindly looked on, and is sweet and pleasant, anger changing into help in the case of such: for thus horses’ colts, and the little calves of cows, and the lion’s cub, and the stag’s fawn, and the child of man, are looked upon with pleasure by their fathers and mothers. Thus also the Father of the universe cherishes affection towards those who have fled to Him; and having begotten them again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle, and loves those alone, and aids and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name of child. The word Isaac I also connect with child. Isaac means laughter. He was seen sporting with his wife and helpmeet Rebecca by the prying king. Genesis 26:8 The king, whose name was Abimelech, appears to me to represent a supramundane wisdom contemplating the mystery of sport. They interpret Rebecca to mean endurance. O wise sport, laughter also assisted by endurance, and the king as spectator! The spirit of those that are children in Christ, whose lives are ordered in endurance, rejoice. And this is the divine sport. Such a sport, of his own, Jove sports, says Heraclitus. For what other employment is seemly for a wise and perfect man, than to sport and be glad in the endurance of what is good— and, in the administration of what is good, holding festival with God? That which is signified by the prophet may be interpreted differently — namely, of our rejoicing for salvation, as Isaac. He also, delivered from death, laughed, sporting and rejoicing with his spouse, who was the type of the Helper of our salvation, the Church, to whom the stable name of endurance is given; for this cause surely, because she alone remains to all generations, rejoicing ever, subsisting as she does by the endurance of us believers, who are the members of Christ. And the witness of those that have endured to the end, and the rejoicing on their account, is the mystic sport, and the salvation accompanied with decorous solace which brings us aid.
The King, then, who is Christ, beholds from above our laughter, and looking through the window, as the Scripture says, views the thanksgiving, and the blessing, and the rejoicing, and the gladness, and furthermore the endurance which works together with them and their embrace: views His Church, showing only His face, which was wanting to the Church, which is made perfect by her royal Head. And where, then, was the door by which the Lord showed Himself? The flesh by which He was manifested. He is Isaac (for the narrative may be interpreted otherwise), who is a type of the Lord, a child as a son; for he was the son of Abraham, as Christ the Son of God, and a sacrifice as the Lord, but he was not immolated as the Lord. Isaac only bore the wood of the sacrifice, as the Lord the wood of the cross. And he laughed mystically, prophesying that the Lord should fill us with joy, who have been redeemed from corruption by the blood of the Lord. Isaac did everything but suffer, as was right, yielding the precedence in suffering to the Word. Furthermore, there is an intimation of the divinity of the Lord in His not being slain. For Jesus rose again after His burial, having suffered no harm, like Isaac released from sacrifice. And in defense of the point to be established, I shall adduce another consideration of the greatest weight. The Spirit calls the Lord Himself a child, thus prophesying by Esaias: Lo, to us a child has been born, to us a son has been given, on whose own shoulder the government shall be; and His name has been called the Angel of great Counsel. Who, then, is this infant child? He according to whose image we are made little children. By the same prophet is declared His greatness: Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; that He might fulfil His discipline: and of His peace there shall be no end. Isaiah 9:6 O the great God! O the perfect child! The Son in the Father, and the Father in the Son. And how shall not the discipline of this child be perfect, which extends to all, leading as a schoolmaster us as children who are His little ones? He has stretched forth to us those hands of His that are conspicuously worthy of trust. To this child additional testimony is borne by John, the greatest prophet among those born of women: Luke 7:28 Behold the Lamb of God! For since Scripture calls the infant children lambs, it has also called Him — God the Word— who became man for our sakes, and who wished in all points to be made like to us — the Lamb of God — Him, namely, that is the Son of God, the child of the Father.
Chapter 6. The Name Children Does Not Imply Instruction in Elementary Principles
We have ample means of encountering those who are given to carping. For we are not termed children and infants with reference to the childish and contemptible character of our education, as those who are inflated on account of knowledge have calumniously alleged. Straightway, on our regeneration, we attained that perfection after which we aspired. For we were illuminated, which is to know God. He is not then imperfect who knows what is perfect. And do not reprehend me when I profess to know God; for so it was deemed right to speak to the Word, and He is free. For at the moment of the Lord’s baptism there sounded a voice from heaven, as a testimony to the Beloved, You are My beloved Son, today have I begotten You. Let us then ask the wise, Is Christ, begotten today, already perfect, or — what were most monstrous — imperfect? If the latter, there is some addition He requires yet to make. But for Him to make any addition to His knowledge is absurd, since He is God. For none can be superior to the Word, or the teacher of the only Teacher. Will they not then own, though reluctant, that the perfect Word born of the perfect Father was begotten in perfection, according to œconomic fore-ordination? And if He was perfect, why was He, the perfect one, baptized? It was necessary, they say, to fulfil the profession that pertained to humanity. Most excellent. Well, I assert, simultaneously with His baptism by John, He becomes perfect? Manifestly. He did not then learn anything more from him? Certainly not. But He is perfected by the washing — of baptism— alone, and is sanctified by the descent of the Spirit? Such is the case. The same also takes place in our case, whose exemplar Christ became. Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal. I, says He, have said that you are gods, and all sons of the Highest. This work is variously called grace, and illumination, and perfection, and washing: washing, by which we cleanse away our sins; grace, by which the penalties accruing to transgressions are remitted; and illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly. Now we call that perfect which wants nothing. For what is yet wanting to him who knows God? For it were truly monstrous that that which is not complete should be called a gift (or act) of God’s grace. Being perfect, He consequently bestows perfect gifts. As at His command all things were made, so on His bare wishing to bestow grace, ensues the perfecting of His grace. For the future of time is anticipated by the power of His volition.
Further release from evils is the beginning of salvation. We then alone, who first have touched the confines of life, are already perfect; and we already live who are separated from death. Salvation, accordingly, is the following of Christ: For that which is in Him is life. John 1:4 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears My words, and believes in Him that sent Me, has eternal life, and comes not into condemnation, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 Thus believing alone, and regeneration, is perfection in life; for God is never weak. For as His will is work, and this is named the world; so also His counsel is the salvation of men, and this has been called the church. He knows, therefore, whom He has called, and whom He has saved; and at one and the same time He called and saved them. For you are, says the apostle, taught of God. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 It is not then allowable to think of what is taught by Him as imperfect; and what is learned from Him is the eternal salvation of the eternal Saviour, to whom be thanks for ever and ever. Amen. And he who is only regenerated — as the name necessarily indicates — and is enlightened, is delivered immediately from darkness, and on the instant receives the light.
As, then, those who have shaken off sleep immediately become all awake within; or rather, as those who try to remove a film that is over the eyes, do not supply to them from without the light which they do not possess, but removing the obstacle from the eyes, leave the pupil free; thus also we who are baptized, having wiped off the sins which obscure the light of the Divine Spirit, have the eye of the spirit free, unimpeded, and full of light, by which alone we contemplate the Divine, the Holy Spirit flowing down to us from above. This is the eternal adjustment of the vision, which is able to see the eternal light, since like loves like; and that which is holy, loves that from which holiness proceeds, which has appropriately been termed light. Once you were darkness, now are you light in the Lord. Ephesians 5:8 Hence I am of opinion man was called by the ancients φώς . But he has not yet received, say they, the perfect gift. I also assent to this; but he is in the light, and the darkness comprehends him not. There is nothing intermediate between light and darkness. But the end is reserved till the resurrection of those who believe; and it is not the reception of some other thing, but the obtaining of the promise previously made. For we do not say that both take place together at the same time — both the arrival at the end, and the anticipation of that arrival. For eternity and time are not the same, neither is the attempt and the final result; but both have reference to the same thing, and one and the same person is concerned in both. Faith, so to speak, is the attempt generated in time; the final result is the attainment of the promise, secured for eternity. Now the Lord Himself has most clearly revealed the equality of salvation, when He said: For this is the will of my Father, that every one that sees the Son, and believes in Him, should have everlasting life; and I will raise him up in the last day. John 6:40 As far as possible in this world, which is what he means by the last day, and which is preserved till the time that it shall end, we believe that we are made perfect. Wherefore He says, He that believes in the Son has everlasting life. John 3:36 If, then, those who have believed have life, what remains beyond the possession of eternal life? Nothing is wanting to faith, as it is perfect and complete in itself. If anything is wanting to it, it is not wholly perfect. But faith is not lame in any respect; nor after our departure from this world does it make us who have believed, and received without distinction the earnest of future good, wait; but having in anticipation grasped by faith that which is future, after the resurrection we receive it as present, in order that that may be fulfilled which was spoken, Be it according to your faith. Matthew 9:29 And where faith is, there is the promise; and the consummation of the promise is rest. So that in illumination what we receive is knowledge, and the end of knowledge is rest — the last thing conceived as the object of aspiration. As, then, inexperience comes to an end by experience, and perplexity by finding a clear outlet, so by illumination must darkness disappear. The darkness is ignorance, through which we fall into sins, purblind as to the truth. Knowledge, then, is the illumination we receive, which makes ignorance disappear, and endows us with clear vision. Further, the abandonment of what is bad is the adopting of what is better. For what ignorance has bound ill, is by knowledge loosed well; those bonds are with all speed slackened by human faith and divine grace, our transgressions being taken away by one Pœonian medicine, the baptism of the Word. We are washed from all our sins, and are no longer entangled in evil. This is the one grace of illumination, that our characters are not the same as before our washing. And since knowledge springs up with illumination, shedding its beams around the mind, the moment we hear, we who were untaught become disciples. Does this, I ask, take place on the advent of this instruction? You cannot tell the time. For instruction leads to faith, and faith with baptism is trained by the Holy Spirit. For that faith is the one universal salvation of humanity, and that there is the same equality before the righteous and loving God, and the same fellowship between Him and all, the apostle most clearly showed, speaking to the following effect: Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed, so that the law became our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith; but after that faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Do you not hear that we are no longer under that law which was accompanied with fear, but under the Word, the master of free choice? Then he subjoined the utterance, clear of all partiality: For you are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 There are not, then, in the same Word some illuminated (gnostics); and some animal (or natural) men; but all who have abandoned the desires of the flesh are equal and spiritual before the Lord. And again he writes in another place: For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, and we have all drunk of one cup. 1 Corinthians 12:13 Nor were it absurd to employ the expressions of those who call the reminiscence of better things the filtration of the spirit, understanding by filtration the separation of what is baser, that results from the reminiscence of what is better. There follows of necessity, in him who has come to the recollection of what is better, repentance for what is worse. Accordingly, they confess that the spirit in repentance retraces its steps. In the same way, therefore, we also, repenting of our sins, renouncing our iniquities, purified by baptism, speed back to the eternal light, children to the Father. Jesus therefore, rejoicing in the spirit, said: I thank You, O Father, God of heaven and earth, that You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes; Luke 10:21 the Master and Teacher applying the name babes to us, who are readier to embrace salvation than the wise in the world, who, thinking themselves wise, are inflated with pride. And He exclaims in exultation and exceeding joy, as if lisping with the children, Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Your sight. Luke 10:21 Wherefore those things which have been concealed from the wise and prudent of this present world have been revealed to babes. Truly, then, are we the children of God, who have put aside the old man, and stripped off the garment of wickedness, and put on the immortality of Christ; that we may become a new, holy people by regeneration, and may keep the man undefiled. And a babe, as God’s little one, is cleansed from fornication and wickedness. With the greatest clearness the blessed Paul has solved for us this question in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, writing thus: Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men. 1 Corinthians 14:20 And the expression, When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, points out his mode of life according to the law, according to which, thinking childish things, he persecuted, and speaking childish things he blasphemed the Word, not as having yet attained to the simplicity of childhood, but as being in its folly; for the word νήπιον has two meanings. When I became a man, again Paul says, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 It is not incomplete size of stature, nor a definite measure of time, nor additional secret teachings in things that are manly and more perfect, that the apostle, who himself professes to be a preacher of childishness, alludes to when he sends it, as it were, into banishment; but he applies the name children to those who are under the law, who are terrified by fear as children are by bugbears; and men to us who are obedient to the Word and masters of ourselves, who have believed, and are saved by voluntary choice, and are rationally, not irrationally, frightened by terror. Of this the apostle himself shall testify, calling as he does the Jews heirs according to the first covenant, and us heirs according to promise: Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors, till the time appointed by the father. So also we, when we were children, were in bondage under the rudiments of the world: but when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons Galatians 4:1-5 by Him. See how He has admitted those to be children who are under fear and sins; but has conferred manhood on those who are under faith, by calling them sons, in contradistinction from the children that are under the law: For you are no more a servant, he says, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:7 What, then, is lacking to the son after inheritance? Wherefore the expression, When I was a child, may be elegantly expounded thus: that is, when I was a Jew (for he was a Hebrew by extraction) I thought as a child, when I followed the law; but after becoming a man, I no longer entertain the sentiments of a child, that is, of the law, but of a man, that is, of Christ, whom alone the Scripture calls man, as we have said before. I put away childish things. But the childhood which is in Christ is maturity, as compared with the law. Having reached this point, we must defend our childhood. And we have still to explain what is said by the apostle: I have fed you with milk (as children in Christ), not with meat; for you were not able, neither yet are you now able. 1 Corinthians 3:2 For it does not appear to me that the expression is to be taken in a Jewish sense; for I shall oppose to it also that Scripture, I will bring you into that good land which flows with milk and honey. Exodus 3:8 A very great difficulty arises in reference to the comparison of these Scriptures, when we consider. For if the infancy which is characterized by the milk is the beginning of faith in Christ, then it is disparaged as childish and imperfect. How is the rest that comes after the meat, the rest of the man who is perfect and endowed with knowledge, again distinguished by infant milk? Does not this, as explaining a parable, mean something like this, and is not the expression to be read somewhat to the following effect: I have fed you with milk in Christ; and after a slight stop, let us add, as children, that by separating the words in reading we may make out some such sense as this: I have instructed you in Christ with simple, true, and natural nourishment — namely, that which is spiritual: for such is the nourishing substance of milk swelling out from breasts of love. So that the whole matter may be conceived thus: As nurses nourish new-born children on milk, so do I also by the Word, the milk of Christ, instilling into you spiritual nutriment.
Thus, then, the milk which is perfect is perfect nourishment, and brings to that consummation which cannot cease. Wherefore also the same milk and honey were promised in the rest. Rightly, therefore, the Lord again promises milk to the righteous, that the Word may be clearly shown to be both, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end; Revelation 1:8 the Word being figuratively represented as milk. Something like this Homer oracularly declares against his will, when he calls righteous men milk-fed (γαλακτοφάγοι). So also may we take the Scripture: And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ; 1 Corinthians 3:1 so that the carnal may be understood as those recently instructed, and still babes in Christ. For he called those who had already believed on the Holy Spirit spiritual, and those newly instructed and not yet purified carnal; whom with justice he calls still carnal, as minding equally with the heathen the things of the flesh: For whereas there is among you envy and strife, are you not carnal, and walk as men? 1 Corinthians 3:3 Wherefore also I have given you milk to drink, he says; meaning, I have instilled into you the knowledge which, from instruction, nourishes up to life eternal. But the expression, I have given you to drink (ἐπότισα), is the symbol of perfect appropriation. For those who are full-grown are said to drink, babes to suck. For my blood, says the Lord, is true drink. John 6:55 In saying, therefore, I have given you milk to drink, has he not indicated the knowledge of the truth, the perfect gladness in the Word, who is the milk? And what follows next, not meat, for you were not able, may indicate the clear revelation in the future world, like food, face to face. For now we see as through a glass, the same apostle says, but then face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 Wherefore also he has added, neither yet are you now able, for you are still carnal, minding the things of the flesh — desiring, loving, feeling jealousy, wrath, envy. For we are no more in the flesh, Romans 8:9 as some suppose. For with it [they say], having the face which is like an angel’s, we shall see the promise face to face. How then, if that is truly the promise after our departure hence, say they that they know what eye has not known, nor has entered into the mind of man, who have not perceived by the Spirit, but received from instruction what ear has not heard, or that ear alone which was rapt up into the third heaven? But it even then was commanded to preserve it unspoken.
But if human wisdom, as it remains to understand, is the glorying in knowledge, hear the law of Scripture: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, and let not the mighty man glory in his might; but let him that glories glory in the Lord. But we are God-taught, and glory in the name of Christ. How then are we not to regard the apostle as attaching this sense to the milk of the babes? And if we who preside over the Churches are shepherds after the image of the good Shepherd, and you the sheep, are we not to regard the Lord as preserving consistency in the use of figurative speech, when He speaks also of the milk of the flock? And to this meaning we may secondly accommodate the expression, I have given you milk to drink, and not given you food, for you are not yet able, regarding the meat not as something different from the milk, but the same in substance. For the very same Word is fluid and mild as milk, or solid and compact as meat. And entertaining this view, we may regard the proclamation of the Gospel, which is universally diffused, as milk; and as meat, faith, which from instruction is compacted into a foundation, which, being more substantial than hearing, is likened to meat, and assimilates to the soul itself nourishment of this kind. Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: Eat my flesh, and drink my blood; John 6:34 describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both — of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle. And when hope expires, it is as if blood flowed forth; and the vitality of faith is destroyed. If, then, some would oppose, saying that by milk is meant the first lessons — as it were, the first food — and that by meat is meant those spiritual cognitions to which they attain by raising themselves to knowledge, let them understand that, in saying that meat is solid food, and the flesh and blood of Jesus, they are brought by their own vainglorious wisdom to the true simplicity. For the blood is found to be an original product in man, and some have consequently ventured to call it the substance of the soul. And this blood, transmuted by a natural process of assimilation in the pregnancy of the mother, through the sympathy of parental affection, effloresces and grows old, in order that there may be no fear for the child. Blood, too, is the moister part of flesh, being a kind of liquid flesh; and milk is the sweeter and finer part of blood. For whether it be the blood supplied to the fœtus, and sent through the navel of the mother, or whether it be the menses themselves shut out from their proper passage, and by a natural diffusion, bidden by the all-nourishing and creating God, proceed to the already swelling breasts, and by the heat of the spirits transmuted, [whether it be the one or the other] that is formed into food desirable for the babe, that which is changed is the blood. For of all the members, the breasts have the most sympathy with the womb. When there is parturition, the vessel by which blood was conveyed to the fœtus is cut off: there is an obstruction of the flow, and the blood receives an impulse towards the breasts; and on a considerable rush taking place, they are distended, and change the blood to milk in a manner analogous to the change of blood into pus in ulceration. Or if, on the other hand, the blood from the veins in the vicinity of the breasts, which have been opened in pregnancy, is poured into the natural hollows of the breasts; and the spirit discharged from the neighbouring arteries being mixed with it, the substance of the blood, still remaining pure, it becomes white by being agitated like a wave; and by an interruption such as this is changed by frothing it, like what takes place with the sea, which at the assaults of the winds, the poets say, spits forth briny foam. Yet still the essence is supplied by the blood.
In this way also the rivers, borne on with rushing motion, and fretted by contact with the surrounding air, murmur forth foam. The moisture in our mouth, too, is whitened by the breath. What an absurdity is it, then, not to acknowledge that the blood is converted into that very bright and white substance by the breath! The change it suffers is in quality, not in essence. You will certainly find nothing else more nourishing, or sweeter, or whiter than milk. In every respect, accordingly, it is like spiritual nourishment, which is sweet through grace, nourishing as life, bright as the day of Christ.
The blood of the Word has been also exhibited as milk. Milk being thus provided in parturition, is supplied to the infant; and the breasts, which till then looked straight towards the husband, now bend down towards the child, being taught to furnish the substance elaborated by nature in a way easily received for salutary nourishment. For the breasts are not like fountains full of milk, flowing in ready prepared; but, by effecting a change in the nutriment, form the milk in themselves, and discharge it. And the nutriment suitable and wholesome for the new-formed and new-born babe is elaborated by God, the nourisher and the Father of all that are generated and regenerated — as manna, the celestial food of angels, flowed down from heaven on the ancient Hebrews. Even now, in fact, nurses call the first-poured drink of milk by the same name as that food — manna. Further, pregnant women, on becoming mothers, discharge milk. But the Lord Christ, the fruit of the Virgin, did not pronounce the breasts of women blessed, nor selected them to give nourishment; but when the kind and loving Father had rained down the Word, Himself became spiritual nourishment to the good. O mystic marvel! The universal Father is one, and one the universal Word; and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere, and one is the only virgin mother. I love to call her the Church. This mother, when alone, had not milk, because alone she was not a woman. But she is once virgin and mother — pure as a virgin, loving as a mother. And calling her children to her, she nurses them with holy milk, viz., with the Word for childhood. Therefore she had not milk; for the milk was this child fair and comely, the body of Christ, which nourishes by the Word the young brood, which the Lord Himself brought forth in throes of the flesh, which the Lord Himself swathed in His precious blood. O amazing birth! O holy swaddling bands! The Word is all to the child, both father and mother and tutor and nurse. Eat my flesh, He says, and drink my blood. John 6:53-54 Such is the suitable food which the Lord ministers, and He offers His flesh and pours forth His blood, and nothing is wanting for the children’s growth. O amazing mystery! We are enjoined to cast off the old and carnal corruption, as also the old nutriment, receiving in exchange another new regimen, that of Christ, receiving Him if we can, to hide Him within; and that, enshrining the Saviour in our souls, we may correct the affections of our flesh.
But you are not inclined to understand it thus, but perchance more generally. Hear it also in the following way. The flesh figuratively represents to us the Holy Spirit; for the flesh was created by Him. The blood points out to us the Word, for as rich blood the Word has been infused into life; and the union of both is the Lord, the food of the babes — the Lord who is Spirit and Word. The food — that is, the Lord Jesus — that is, the Word of God, the Spirit made flesh, the heavenly flesh sanctified. The nutriment is the milk of the Father, by which alone we infants are nourished. The Word Himself, then, the beloved One, and our nourisher, has shed His own blood for us, to save humanity; and by Him, we, believing on God, flee to the Word, the care-soothing breast of the Father. And He alone, as is befitting, supplies us children with the milk of love, and those only are truly blessed who suck this breast. Wherefore also Peter says: Laying therefore aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envy, and evil speaking, as new-born babes, desire the milk of the word, that you may grow by it to salvation; if you have tasted that the Lord is Christ. And were one to concede to them that the meat was something different from the milk, then how shall they avoid being transfixed on their own spit, through want of consideration of nature? For in winter, when the air is condensed, and prevents the escape of the heat enclosed within, the food, transmuted and digested and changed into blood, passes into the veins, and these, in the absence of exhalation, are greatly distended, and exhibit strong pulsations; consequently also nurses are then fullest of milk. And we have shown a little above, that on pregnancy blood passes into milk by a change which does not affect its substance, just as in old people yellow hair changes to grey. But again in summer, the body, having its pores more open, affords greater facility for diaphoretic action in the case of the food, and the milk is least abundant, since neither is the blood full, nor is the whole nutriment retained. If, then, the digestion of the food results in the production of blood, and the blood becomes milk, then blood is a preparation for milk, as blood is for a human beings, and the grape for the vine. With milk, then, the Lord’s nutriment, we are nursed directly we are born; and as soon as we are regenerated, we are honoured by receiving the good news of the hope of rest, even the Jerusalem above, in which it is written that milk and honey fall in showers, receiving through what is material the pledge of the sacred food. For meats are done away with, 1 Corinthians 6:13 as the apostle himself says; but this nourishment on milk leads to the heavens, rearing up citizens of heaven, and members of the angelic choirs. And since the Word is the gushing fountain of life, and has been called a river of olive oil, Paul, using appropriate figurative language, and calling Him milk, adds: I have given you to drink; 1 Corinthians 3:2 for we drink in the word, the nutriment of the truth. In truth, also liquid food is called drink; and the same thing may somehow be both meat and drink, according to the different aspects in which it is considered, just as cheese is the solidification of milk or milk solidified; for I am not concerned here to make a nice selection of an expression, only to say that one substance supplies both articles of food. Besides, for children at the breast, milk alone suffices; it serves both for meat and drink. I, says the Lord, have meat to eat that you know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me. John 4:32-34 You see another kind of food which, similarly with milk, represents figuratively the will of God. Besides, also, the completion of His own passion He called catachrestically a cup, when He alone had to drink and drain it. Thus to Christ the fulfilling of His Father’s will was food; and to us infants, who drink the milk of the word of the heavens, Christ Himself is food. Hence seeking is called sucking; for to those babes that seek the Word, the Father’s breasts of love supply milk.
Further, the Word declares Himself to be the bread of heaven. For Moses, He says, gave you not that bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He that comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. And the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Here is to be noted the mystery of the bread, inasmuch as He speaks of it as flesh, and as flesh, consequently, that has risen through fire, as the wheat springs up from decay and germination; and, in truth, it has risen through fire for the joy of the Church, as bread baked. But this will be shown by and by more clearly in the chapter on the resurrection. But since He said, And the bread which I will give is My flesh, and since flesh is moistened with blood, and blood is figuratively termed wine, we are bidden to know that, as bread, crumbled into a mixture of wine and water, seizes on the wine and leaves the watery portion, so also the flesh of Christ, the bread of heaven absorbs the blood; that is, those among men who are heavenly, nourishing them up to immortality, and leaving only to destruction the lusts of the flesh.
Thus in many ways the Word is figuratively described, as meat, and flesh, and food, and bread, and blood, and milk. The Lord is all these, to give enjoyment to us who have believed on Him. Let no one then think it strange, when we say that the Lord’s blood is figuratively represented as milk. For is it not figuratively represented as wine? Who washes, it is said, His garment in wine, His robe in the blood of the grape. Genesis 49:11 In His own Spirit He says He will deck the body of the Word; as certainly by His own Spirit He will nourish those who hunger for the Word.
And that the blood is the Word, is testified by the blood of Abel, the righteous interceding with God. For the blood would never have uttered a voice, had it not been regarded as the Word: for the righteous man of old is the type of the new righteous one; and the blood of old that interceded, intercedes in the place of the new blood. And the blood that is the Word cries to God, since it intimated that the Word was to suffer.
Further, this flesh, and the blood in it, are by a mutual sympathy moistened and increased by the milk. And the process of formation of the seed in conception ensues when it has mingled with the pure residue of the menses, which remains. For the force that is in the seed coagulating the substances of the blood, as the rennet curdles milk, effects the essential part of the formative process. For a suitable blending conduces to fruitfulness; but extremes are adverse, and tend to sterility. For when the earth itself is flooded by excessive rain, the seed is swept away, while in consequence of scarcity it is dried up; but when the sap is viscous, it retains the seed, and makes it germinate. Some also hold the hypothesis, that the seed of an animal is in substance the foam of the blood, which being by the natural heat of the male agitated and shaken out is turned into foam, and deposited in the seminal veins. For Diogenes Apollionates will have it, that hence is derived the word aphrodisia.
From all this it is therefore evident, that the essential principle of the human body is blood. The contents of the stomach, too, at first are milky, a coagulation of fluid; then the same coagulated substance is changed into blood; but when it is formed into a compact consistency in the womb, by the natural and warm spirit by which the embryo is fashioned, it becomes a living creature. Further also, the child after birth is nourished by the same blood. For the flow of milk is the product of the blood; and the source of nourishment is the milk; by which a woman is shown to have brought forth a child, and to be truly a mother, by which also she receives a potent charm of affection. Wherefore the Holy Spirit in the apostle, using the voice of the Lord, says mystically, I have given you milk to drink. 1 Corinthians 3:2 For if we have been regenerated unto Christ, He who has regenerated us nourishes us with His own milk, the Word; for it is proper that what has procreated should immediately supply nourishment to that which has been procreated. And as the regeneration was conformably spiritual, so also was the nutriment of man spiritual. In all respects, therefore, and in all things, we are brought into union with Christ, into relationship through His blood, by which we are redeemed; and into sympathy, in consequence of the nourishment which flows from the Word; and into immortality, through His guidance:—
Among men the bringing up of children
Often produces stronger impulses to love than the procreating of them.
The same blood and milk of the Lord is therefore the symbol of the Lord’s passion and teaching. Wherefore each of us babes is permitted to make our boast in the Lord, while we proclaim:—
Yet of a noble sire and noble blood I boast me sprung.
And that milk is produced from blood by a change, is already clear; yet we may learn it from the flocks and herds. For these animals, in the time of the year which we call spring, when the air has more humidity, and the grass and meadows are juicy and moist, are first filled with blood, as is shown by the distension of the veins of the swollen vessels; and from the blood the milk flows more copiously. But in summer again, the blood being burnt and dried up by the heat, prevents the change, and so they have less milk.
Further, milk has a most natural affinity for water, as assuredly the spiritual washing has for the spiritual nutriment. Those, therefore, that swallow a little cold water, in addition to the above-mentioned milk, straightway feel benefit; for the milk is prevented from souring by its combination with water, not in consequence of any antipathy between them, but in consequence of the water taking kindly to the milk while it is undergoing digestion.
And such as is the union of the Word with baptism, is the agreement of milk with water; for it receives it alone of all liquids, and admits of mixture with water, for the purpose of cleansing, as baptism for the remission of sins. And it is mixed naturally with honey also, and this for cleansing along with sweet nutriment. For the Word blended with love at once cures our passions and cleanses our sins; and the saying,
Sweeter than honey flowed the stream of speech,
seems to me to have been spoken of the Word, who is honey. And prophecy oft extols Him above honey and the honeycomb.
Furthermore, milk is mixed with sweet wine; and the mixture is beneficial, as when suffering is mixed in the cup in order to immortality. For the milk is curdled by the wine, and separated, and whatever adulteration is in it is drained off. And in the same way, the spiritual communion of faith with suffering man, drawing off as serous matter the lusts of the flesh, commits man to eternity, along with those who are divine, immortalizing him.
Further, many also use the fat of milk, called butter, for the lamp, plainly indicating by this enigma the abundant unction of the Word, since He alone it is who nourishes the infants, makes them grow, and enlightens them. Wherefore also the Scripture says respecting the Lord, He fed them with the produce of the fields; they sucked honey from the rock, and oil from the solid rock, butter of cattle, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs; Deuteronomy 32:13-14 and what follows He gave them. But he that prophesies the birth of the child says: Butter and honey shall He eat. Isaiah 7:15 And it occurs to me to wonder how some dare call themselves perfect and gnostics, with ideas of themselves above the apostle, inflated and boastful, when Paul even owned respecting himself, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forth to those that are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 And yet he reckons himself perfect, because he has been emancipated from his former life, and strives after the better life, not as perfect in knowledge, but as aspiring after perfection. Wherefore also he adds, As many of us as are perfect, are thus minded, Philippians 3:15 manifestly describing perfection as the renunciation of sin, and regeneration into the faith of the only perfect One, and forgetting our former sins.
Chapter 7. Who the Instructor Is, and Respecting His Instruction
Since, then, we have shown that all of us are by Scripture called children; and not only so, but that we who have followed Christ are figuratively called babes; and that the Father of all alone is perfect, for the Son is in Him, and the Father is in the Son; it is time for us in due course to say who our Instructor is.
He is called Jesus. Sometimes He calls Himself a shepherd, and says, I am the good Shepherd. John 10:11 According to a metaphor drawn from shepherds, who lead the sheep, is hereby understood the Instructor, who leads the children — the Shepherd who tends the babes. For the babes are simple, being figuratively described as sheep. And they shall all, it is said, be one flock, and one shepherd. John 10:16 The Word, then, who leads the children to salvation, is appropriately called the Instructor (Pædagogue).
With the greatest clearness, accordingly, the Word has spoken respecting Himself by Hosea: I am your Instructor. Now piety is instruction, being the learning of the service of God, and training in the knowledge of the truth, and right guidance which leads to heaven. And the word instruction is employed variously. For there is the instruction of him who is led and learns, and that of him who leads and teaches; and there is, thirdly, the guidance itself; and fourthly, what is taught, as the commandments enjoined.
Now the instruction which is of God is the right direction of truth to the contemplation of God, and the exhibition of holy deeds in everlasting perseverance.
As therefore the general directs the phalanx, consulting the safety of his soldiers, and the pilot steers the vessel, desiring to save the passengers; so also the Instructor guides the children to a saving course of conduct, through solicitude for us; and, in general, whatever we ask in accordance with reason from God to be done for us, will happen to those who believe in the Instructor. And just as the helmsman does not always yield to the winds, but sometimes, turning the prow towards them, opposes the whole force of the hurricanes; so the Instructor never yields to the blasts that blow in this world, nor commits the child to them like a vessel to make shipwreck on a wild and licentious course of life; but, wafted on by the favouring breeze of the Spirit of truth, stoutly holds on to the child’s helm — his ears, I mean — until He bring him safe to anchor in the haven of heaven.
What is called by men an ancestral custom passes away in a moment, but the divine guidance is a possession which abides forever.
They say that Phœnix was the instructor of Achilles, and Adrastus of the children of Crœsus; and Leonides of Alexander, and Nausithous of Philip. But Phœnix was women-mad, Adrastus was a fugitive. Leonides did not curtail the pride of Alexander, nor Nausithous reform the drunken Pellæan. No more was the Thracian Zopyrus able to check the fornication of Alcibiades; but Zopyrus was a bought slave, and Sicinnus, the tutor of the children of Themistocles, was a lazy domestic. They say also that he invented the Sicinnian dance. Those have not escaped our attention who are called royal instructors among the Persians; whom, in number four, the kings of the Persians select with the greatest care from all the Persians and set over their sons. But the children only learn the use of the bow, and on reaching maturity have sexual intercourse with sisters, and mothers, and women, wives and courtesans innumerable, practiced in intercourse like the wild boars.
But our Instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word, who is the guide of all humanity. The loving God Himself is our Instructor. Somewhere in song the Holy Spirit says with regard to Him, He provided sufficiently for the people in the wilderness. He led him about in the thirst of summer heat in a dry land, and instructed him, and kept him as the apple of His eye, as an eagle protects her nest, and shows her fond solicitude for her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, and bears them on her back. The Lord alone led them, and there was no strange god with them. Deuteronomy 32:10-12 Clearly, I trow, has the Scripture exhibited the Instructor in the account it gives of His guidance.
Again, when He speaks in His own person, He confesses Himself to be the Instructor: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Exodus 20:2 Who, then, has the power of leading in and out? Is it not the Instructor? This was He who appeared to Abraham, and said to him, I am your God, be accepted before Me; Genesis 17:1-2 and in a way most befitting an instructor, forms him into a faithful child, saying, And be blameless; and I will make My covenant between Me and you, and your seed. There is the communication of the Instructor’s friendship. And He most manifestly appears as Jacob’s instructor. He says accordingly to him, Lo, I am with you, to keep you in all the way in which you shall go; and I will bring you back into this land: for I will not leave you till I do what I have told you. Genesis 28:15 He is said, too, to have wrestled with Him. And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled with him a man (the Instructor) till the morning. Genesis 32:24 This was the man who led, and brought, and wrestled with, and anointed the athlete Jacob against evil. Now that the Word was at once Jacob’s trainer and the Instructor of humanity [appears from this]— He asked, it is said, His name, and said to him, Tell me what is Your name. And he said, Why is it that you ask My name? For He reserved the new name for the new people — the babe; and was as yet unnamed, the Lord God not having yet become man. Yet Jacob called the name of the place, Face of God. For I have seen, he says, God face to face; and my life is preserved. Genesis 32:30 The face of God is the Word by whom God is manifested and made known. Then also was he named Israel, because he saw God the Lord. It was God, the Word, the Instructor, who said to him again afterwards, Fear not to go down into Egypt. Genesis 46:3 See how the Instructor follows the righteous man, and how He anoints the athlete, teaching him to trip up his antagonist.
It is He also who teaches Moses to act as instructor. For the Lord says, If any one sin before Me, him will I blot out of My book; but now, go and lead this people into the place which I told you. Exodus 32:33-34 Here He is the teacher of the art of instruction. For it was really the Lord that was the instructor of the ancient people by Moses; but He is the instructor of the new people by Himself, face to face. For behold, He says to Moses, My angel shall go before you, representing the evangelical and commanding power of the Word, but guarding the Lord’s prerogative. In the day on which I will visit them, Exodus 32:33-34 He says, I will bring their sins on them; that is, on the day on which I will sit as judge I will render the recompense of their sins. For the same who is Instructor is judge, and judges those who disobey Him; and the loving Word will not pass over their transgression in silence. He reproves, that they may repent. For the Lord wills the repentance of the sinner rather than his death. And let us as babes, hearing of the sins of others, keep from similar transgressions, through dread of the threatening, that we may not have to undergo like sufferings. What, then, was the sin which they committed? For in their wrath they slew men, and in their impetuosity they hamstrung bulls. Cursed be their anger. Genesis 49:6 Who, then, would train us more lovingly than He? Formerly the older people had an old covenant, and the law disciplined the people with fear, and the Word was an angel; but to the fresh and new people has also been given a new covenant, and the Word has appeared, and fear is turned to love, and that mystic angel is born — Jesus. For this same Instructor said then, You shall fear the Lord God; Deuteronomy 6:2 but to us He has addressed the exhortation, You shall love the Lord your God. Matthew 22:37 Wherefore also this is enjoined on us: Cease from your own works, from your old sins; Learn to do well; Depart from evil, and do good; You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. This is my new covenant written in the old letter. The newness of the word must not, then, be made ground of reproach. But the Lord has also said in Jeremiah: Say not that I am a youth: before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before I brought you out of the womb I sanctified you. Jeremiah 1:7 Such allusions prophecy can make to us, destined in the eye of God to faith before the foundation of the world; but now babes, through the recent fulfilment of the will of God, according to which we are born now to calling and salvation. Wherefore also He adds, I have set you for a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah 1:5 saying that he must prophesy, so that the appellation of youth should not become a reproach to those who are called babes.
Now the law is ancient grace given through Moses by the Word. Wherefore also the Scripture says, The law was given through Moses, John 1:17 not by Moses, but by the Word, and through Moses His servant. Wherefore it was only temporary; but eternal grace and truth were by Jesus Christ. Mark the expressions of Scripture: of the law only is it said was given; but truth being the grace of the Father, is the eternal work of the Word; and it is not said to be given, but to be by Jesus, without whom nothing was. John 1:3 Presently, therefore, Moses prophetically, giving place to the perfect Instructor the Word, predicts both the name and the office of Instructor, and committing to the people the commands of obedience, sets before them the Instructor. A prophet, says he, like Me shall God raise up to you of your brethren, pointing out Jesus the Son of God, by an allusion to Jesus the son of Nun; for the name of Jesus predicted in the law was a shadow of Christ. He adds, therefore, consulting the advantage of the people, Him shall you hear; Deuteronomy 18:15 and, The man who will not hear that Prophet, Deuteronomy 18:19 him He threatens. Such a name, then, he predicts as that of the Instructor, who is the author of salvation. Wherefore prophecy invests Him with a rod, a rod of discipline, of rule, of authority; that those whom the persuasive word heals not, the threatening may heal; and whom the threatening heals not, the rod may heal; and whom the rod heals not, the fire may devour. There shall come forth, it is said, a rod out of the root of Jesse.
See the care, and wisdom, and power of the Instructor: He shall not judge according to opinion, nor according to report; but He shall dispense judgment to the humble, and reprove the sinners of the earth. And by David: The Lord instructing, has instructed me, and not given me over to death. For to be chastised of the Lord, and instructed, is deliverance from death. And by the same prophet He says: You shall rule them with a rod of iron. Thus also the apostle, in the Epistle to the Corinthians, being moved, says, What will you? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, in the spirit of meekness? 1 Corinthians 4:21 Also, The Lord shall send the rod of strength out of Sion, He says by another prophet. And this same rod of instruction, Your rod and staff have comforted me, said some one else. Such is the power of the Instructor — sacred, soothing, saving.
Chapter 8. Against Those Who Think that What is Just is Not Good
At this stage some rise up, saying that the Lord, by reason of the rod, and threatening, and fear, is not good; misapprehending, as appears, the Scripture which says, And he that fears the Lord will turn to his heart; Sirach 21:6 and most of all, oblivious of His love, in that for us He became man. For more suitably to Him, the prophet prays in these words: Remember us, for we are dust; that is, Sympathize with us; for You know from personal experience of suffering the weakness of the flesh. In this respect, therefore, the Lord the Instructor is most good and unimpeachable, sympathizing as He does from the exceeding greatness of His love with the nature of each man. For there is nothing which the Lord hates. Wisdom 11:24 For assuredly He does not hate anything, and yet wish that which He hates to exist. Nor does He wish anything not to exist, and yet become the cause of existence to that which He wishes not to exist. Nor does He wish anything not to exist which yet exists. If, then, the Word hates anything, He does not wish it to exist. But nothing exists, the cause of whose existence is not supplied by God. Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word. For both are one — that is, God. For He has said, In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that He loves them. Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being. Therefore God is loving; consequently the Word is loving.
But he who loves anything wishes to do it good. And that which does good must be every way better than that which does not good. But nothing is better than the Good. The Good, then, does good. And God is admitted to be good. God therefore does good. And the Good, in virtue of its being good, does nothing else than do good. Consequently God does all good. And He does no good to man without caring for him, and He does not care for him without taking care of him. For that which does good purposely, is better than what does not good purposely. But nothing is better than God. And to do good purposely, is nothing else than to take care of man. God therefore cares for man, and takes care of him. And He shows this practically, in instructing him by the Word, who is the true coadjutor of God’s love to man. But the good is not said to be good, on account of its being possessed of virtue; as also righteousness is not said to be good on account of its possessing virtue— for it is itself virtue— but on account of its being in itself and by itself good.
In another way the useful is called good, not on account of its pleasing, but of its doing good. All which, therefore, is righteousness, being a good thing, both as virtue and as desirable for its own sake, and not as giving pleasure; for it does not judge in order to win favour, but dispenses to each according to his merits. And the beneficial follows the useful. Righteousness, therefore, has characteristics corresponding to all the aspects in which goodness is examined, both possessing equal properties equally. And things which are characterized by equal properties are equal and similar to each other. Righteousness is therefore a good thing.
How then, say they, if the Lord loves man, and is good, is He angry and punishes? We must therefore treat of this point with all possible brevity; for this mode of treatment is advantageous to the right training of the children, occupying the place of a necessary help. For many of the passions are cured by punishment, and by the inculcation of the sterner precepts, as also by instruction in certain principles. For reproof is, as it were, the surgery of the passions of the soul; and the passions are, as it were, an abscess of the truth, which must be cut open by an incision of the lancet of reproof.
Reproach is like the application of medicines, dissolving the callosities of the passions, and purging the impurities of the lewdness of the life; and in addition, reducing the excrescences of pride, restoring the patient to the healthy and true state of humanity.
Admonition is, as it were, the regimen of the diseased soul, prescribing what it must take, and forbidding what it must not. And all these tend to salvation and eternal health.
Furthermore, the general of an army, by inflicting fines and corporeal punishments with chains and the extremest disgrace on offenders, and sometimes even by punishing individuals with death, aims at good, doing so for the admonition of the officers under him.
Thus also He who is our great General, the Word, the Commander-in-chief of the universe, by admonishing those who throw off the restraints of His law, that He may effect their release from the slavery, error, and captivity of the adversary, brings them peacefully to the sacred concord of citizenship.
As, therefore in addition to persuasive discourse, there is the hortatory and the consolatory form; so also, in addition to the laudatory, there is the inculpatory and reproachful. And this latter constitutes the art of censure. Now censure is a mark of good-will, not of ill-will. For both he who is a friend and he who is not, reproach; but the enemy does so in scorn, the friend in kindness. It is not, then, from hatred that the Lord chides men; for He Himself suffered for us, whom He might have destroyed for our faults. For the Instructor also, in virtue of His being good, with consummate art glides into censure by rebuke; rousing the sluggishness of the mind by His sharp words as by a scourge. Again in turn He endeavours to exhort the same persons. For those who are not induced by praise are spurred on by censure; and those whom censure calls not forth to salvation being as dead, are by denunciation roused to the truth. For the stripes and correction of wisdom are in all time. For teaching a fool is gluing a potsherd; and sharpening to sense a hopeless blockhead is bringing earth to sensation. Sirach 22:6-8 Wherefore He adds plainly, rousing the sleeper from deep sleep, which of all things else is likest death.
Further, the Lord shows very clearly of Himself, when, describing figuratively His manifold and in many ways serviceable culture — He says, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Then He adds, Every branch in me that bears not fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bring forth more fruit. John 15:1-2 For the vine that is not pruned grows to wood. So also man. The Word — the knife — clears away the wanton shoots; compelling the impulses of the soul to fructify, not to indulge in lust. Now, reproof addressed to sinners has their salvation for its aim, the word being harmoniously adjusted to each one’s conduct; now with tightened, now with relaxed cords. Accordingly it was very plainly said by Moses, Be of good courage: God has drawn near to try you, that His fear may be among you, that you sin not. Exodus 20:20 And Plato, who had learned from this source, says beautifully: For all who suffer punishment are in reality treated well, for they are benefited; since the spirit of those who are justly punished is improved. And if those who are corrected receive good at the hands of justice, and, according to Plato, what is just is acknowledged to be good, fear itself does good, and has been found to be for men’s good. For the soul that fears the Lord shall live, for their hope is in Him who saves them. Sirach 34:14-15 And this same Word who inflicts punishment is judge; regarding whom Esaias also says, The Lord has assigned Him to our sins, Isaiah 53:6 plainly as a corrector and reformer of sins. Wherefore He alone is able to forgive our iniquities, who has been appointed by the Father, Instructor of us all; He alone it is who is able to distinguish between disobedience and obedience. And while He threatens, He manifestly is unwilling to inflict evil to execute His threatenings; but by inspiring men with fear, He cuts off the approach to sin, and shows His love to man, still delaying, and declaring what they shall suffer if they continue sinners, and is not as a serpent, which the moment it fastens on its prey devours it.
God, then, is good. And the Lord speaks many a time and oft before He proceeds to act. For my arrows, He says, will make an end of them; they shall be consumed with hunger, and be eaten by birds; and there shall be incurable tetanic incurvature. I will send the teeth of wild beasts upon them, with the rage of serpents creeping on the earth. Without, the sword shall make them childless; and out of their chambers shall be fear. Deuteronomy 32:23-25 For the Divine Being is not angry in the way that some think; but often restrains, and always exhorts humanity, and shows what ought to be done. And this is a good device, to terrify lest we sin. For the fear of the Lord drives away sins, and he that is without fear cannot be justified, Sirach 1:21-22 says the Scripture. And God does not inflict punishment from wrath, but for the ends of justice; since it is not expedient that justice should be neglected on our account. Each one of us, who sins, with his own free-will chooses punishment, and the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous, who takes vengeance? God forbid. Romans 3:5-6 He says, therefore, threatening, I will sharpen my sword, and my hand shall lay hold on judgment; and I will render justice to mine enemies, and requite those who hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh from the blood of the wounded. Deuteronomy 32:41-42 It is clear, then, that those who are not at enmity with the truth, and do not hate the Word, will not hate their own salvation, but will escape the punishment of enmity. The crown of wisdom, then, as the book of Wisdom says, is the fear of the Lord. Sirach 1:18 Very clearly, therefore, by the prophet Amos has the Lord unfolded His method of dealing, saying, I have overthrown you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha; and you shall be as a brand plucked from the fire: and yet you have not returned unto me, says the Lord . Amos 4:11
See how God, through His love of goodness, seeks repentance; and by means of the plan He pursues of threatening silently, shows His own love for man. I will avert, He says, My face from them, and show what shall happen to them. Deuteronomy 32:20 For where the face of the Lord looks, there is peace and rejoicing; but where it is averted, there is the introduction of evil. The Lord, accordingly, does not wish to look on evil things; for He is good. But on His looking away, evil arises spontaneously through human unbelief. Behold, therefore, says Paul, the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity; but upon you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness, Romans 11:22 that is, in faith in Christ.
Now hatred of evil attends the good man, in virtue of His being in nature good. Wherefore I will grant that He punishes the disobedient (for punishment is for the good and advantage of him who is punished, for it is the correction of a refractory subject); but I will not grant that He wishes to take vengeance. Revenge is retribution for evil, imposed for the advantage of him who takes the revenge. He will not desire us to take revenge, who teaches us to pray for those that despitefully use us. Matthew 5:44 But that God is good, all willingly admit; and that the same God is just, I require not many more words to prove, after adducing the evangelical utterance of the Lord; He speaks of Him as one, That they all may be one; as You, Father, art in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us: that the world also may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You have given Me I have given them; that they may be one, as We are one: I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one. John 17:21-23 God is one, and beyond the one and above the Monad itself. Wherefore also the particle You, having a demonstrative emphasis, points out God, who alone truly is, who was, and is, and is to come, in which three divisions of time the one name (ὀ ὤν); who is, Exodus 3:14 has its place. And that He who alone is God is also alone and truly righteous, our Lord in the Gospel itself shall testify, saying Father, I will that they also whom You have given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which You have given Me: For You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known You: but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it. John 17:24-26 This is He that visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, to them that hate Him, and shows mercy to those that love Him. Exodus 20:5-6 For He who placed some on the right hand, and others on the left, conceived as Father, being good, is called that which alone He is — good; Matthew 19:17 but as He is the Son in the Father, being his Word, from their mutual relation, the name of power being measured by equality of love, He is called righteous. He will judge, He says, a man according to his works, Sirach 16:12 — a good balance, even God having made known to us the face of righteousness in the person of Jesus, by whom also, as by even scales, we know God. Of this also the book of Wisdom plainly says, For mercy and wrath are with Him, for He alone is Lord of both, Lord of propitiations, and pouring forth wrath according to the abundance of His mercy. So also is His reproof. Sirach 16:12 For the aim of mercy and of reproof is the salvation of those who are reproved.
Now, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus is good, the Word Himself will again avouch: For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil; and further, when He says, Be merciful, as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36 Still further also He plainly says, None is good, but My Father, who is in heaven. Matthew 19:17 In addition to these, again He says, My Father makes His sun to shine on all. Matthew 5:45 Here it is to be noted that He proclaims His Father to be good, and to be the Creator. And that the Creator is just, is not disputed. And again he says, My Father sends rain on the just, and on the unjust. In respect of His sending rain, He is the Creator of the waters, and of the clouds. And in respect of His doing so on all, He holds an even balance justly and rightly. And as being good, He does so on just and unjust alike.
Very clearly, then, we conclude Him to be one and the same God, thus. For the Holy Spirit has sung, I will look to the heavens, the works of Your hands; and, He who created the heavens dwells in the heavens; and, Heaven is Your throne. And the Lord says in His prayer, Our Father, who art in heaven. Matthew 6:9 And the heavens belong to Him, who created the world. It is indisputable, then, that the Lord is the Son of the Creator. And if, the Creator above all is confessed to be just, and the Lord to be the Son of the Creator; then the Lord is the Son of Him who is just. Wherefore also Paul says, But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested; Romans 3:21-22 and again, that you may better conceive of God, even the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ upon all that believe; for there is no difference. And, witnessing further to the truth, he adds after a little, through the forbearance of God, in order to show that He is just, and that Jesus is the justifier of him who is of faith. And that he knows that what is just is good, appears by his saying, So that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good, Romans 7:12 using both names to denote the same power. But no one is good, except His Father. It is this same Father of His, then, who being one is manifested by many powers. And this was the import of the utterance, No man knew the Father, Luke 10:22; John 17:25 who was Himself everything before the coming of the Son. So that it is veritably clear that the God of all is only one good, just Creator, and the Son in the Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen. But it is not inconsistent with the saving Word, to administer rebuke dictated by solicitude. For this is the medicine of the divine love to man, by which the blush of modesty breaks forth, and shame at sin supervenes. For if one must censure, it is necessary also to rebuke; when it is the time to wound the apathetic soul not mortally, but salutarily, securing exemption from everlasting death by a little pain.
Great is the wisdom displayed in His instruction, and manifold the modes of His dealing in order to salvation. For the Instructor testifies to the good, and summons forth to better things those that are called; dissuades those that are hastening to do wrong from the attempt, and exhorts them to turn to a better life. For the one is not without testimony, when the other has been testified to; and the grace which proceeds from the testimony is very great. Besides, the feeling of anger (if it is proper to call His admonition anger) is full of love to man, God condescending to emotion on man’s account; for whose sake also the Word of God became man.
Chapter 9. That It is the Prerogative of the Same Power to Be Beneficent and to Punish Justly. Also the Manner of the Instruction of the Logos
With all His power, therefore, the Instructor of humanity, the Divine Word, using all the resources of wisdom, devotes Himself to the saving of the children, admonishing, upbraiding, blaming, chiding, reproving, threatening, healing, promising, favouring; and as it were, by many reins, curbing the irrational impulses of humanity. To speak briefly, therefore, the Lord acts towards us as we do towards our children. Do you have children? Correct them, is the exhortation of the book of Wisdom, and bend them from their youth. Do you have daughters? Attend to their body, and let not your face brighten towards them, Sirach 7:23-24 — although we love our children exceedingly, both sons and daughters, above anything else whatever. For those who speak with a man merely to please him, have little love for him, seeing they do not pain him; while those that speak for his good, though they inflict pain for the time, do him good for ever after. It is not immediate pleasure, but future enjoyment, that the Lord has in view.
Let us now proceed to consider the mode of His loving discipline, with the aid of the prophetic testimony.
Admonition, then, is the censure of loving care, and produces understanding. Such is the Instructor in His admonitions, as when He says in the Gospel, How often would I have gathered your children, as a bird gathers her young ones under her wings, and you would not! Matthew 23:37 And again, the Scripture admonishes, saying, And they committed adultery with stock and stone, and burnt incense to Baal. For it is a very great proof of His love, that, though knowing well the shamelessness of the people that had kicked and bounded away, He notwithstanding exhorts them to repentance, and says by Ezekiel, Son of man, you dwell in the midst of scorpions; nevertheless, speak to them, if perhaps they will hear. Ezekiel 2:6-7 Further, to Moses He says, Go and tell Pharaoh to send My people forth; but I know that he will not send them forth. Exodus 3:18-19 For He shows both things: both His divinity in His foreknowledge of what would take place, and His love in affording an opportunity for repentance to the self-determination of the soul. He admonishes also by Esaias, in His care for the people, when He says, This people honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. What follows is reproving censure: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Isaiah 29:13 Here His loving care, having shown their sin, shows salvation side by side.
Upbraiding is censure on account of what is base, conciliating to what is noble. This is shown by Jeremiah: They were female-mad horses; each one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? Says the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Jeremiah 5:8-9 He everywhere interweaves fear, because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of sense. Proverbs 1:7 And again, by Hosea, He says, Shall I not visit them? For they themselves were mingled with harlots, and sacrificed with the initiated; and the people that understood embraced a harlot. He shows their offense to be clearer, by declaring that they understood, and thus sinned wilfully. Understanding is the eye of the soul; wherefore also Israel means, he that sees God — that is, he that understands God.
Complaint is censure of those who are regarded as despising or neglecting. He employs this form when He says by Esaias: Hear, O heaven; and give ear, O earth: for the Lord has spoken, I have begotten and brought up children, but they have disregarded Me. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel has not known Me. Isaiah 1:2-3 For how shall we not regard it fearful, if he that knows God, shall not recognise the Lord; but while the ox and the ass, stupid and foolish animals, will know him who feeds them, Israel is found to be more irrational than these? And having, by Jeremiah, complained against the people on many grounds, He adds: And they have forsaken Me, says the Lord .
Invective is a reproachful upbraiding, or chiding censure. This mode of treatment the Instructor employs in Isaiah, when He says, Woe to you, children revolters. Thus says the Lord, You have taken counsel, but not by Me; and made compacts, but not by My Spirit. Isaiah 30:1 He uses the very bitter mordant of fear in each case repressing the people, and at the same time turning them to salvation; as also wool that is undergoing the process of dyeing is wont to be previously treated with mordants, in order to prepare it for taking on a fast color.
Reproof is the bringing forward of sin, laying it before one. This form of instruction He employs as in the highest degree necessary, by reason of the feebleness of the faith of many. For He says by Esaias, You have forsaken the Lord, and have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. Isaiah 1:4 And He says also by Jeremiah: Heaven was astonished at this, and the earth shuddered exceedingly. For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn out to themselves broken cisterns, which will not be able to hold water. Jeremiah 2:12-13 And again, by the same: Jerusalem has sinned a sin; therefore it became commotion. All that glorified her dishonoured her, when they saw her baseness. Lamentations 1:8 And He uses the bitter and biting language of reproof in His consolations by Solomon, tacitly alluding to the love for children that characterizes His instruction: My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; nor faint when you are rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives; Proverbs 3:11-12 For a man who is a sinner escapes reproof. Sirach 32:21 Consequently, therefore, the Scripture says, Let the righteous reprove and correct me; but let not the oil of the sinner anoint my head.
Bringing one to his senses (φρένωσις) is censure, which makes a man think. Neither from this form of instruction does he abstain, but says by Jeremiah, How long shall I cry, and you not hear? So your ears are uncircumcised. Jeremiah 6:10 O blessed forbearance! And again, by the same: All the heathen are uncircumcised, but this people is uncircumcised in heart: Jeremiah 9:26 for the people are disobedient; children, says He, in whom is not faith. Isaiah 30:9
Visitation is severe rebuke. He uses this species in the Gospel: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stone them that are sent unto you! The reduplication of the name gives strength to the rebuke. For he that knows God, how does he persecute God’s servants? Wherefore He says, Your house is left desolate; for I say unto you, Henceforth you shall not see Me, till you shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Matthew 23:37-39 For if you do not receive His love, you shall know His power.
Denunciation is vehement speech. And He employs denunciation as medicine, by Isaiah, saying, Ah, sinful nation, lawless sons, people full of sins, wicked seed! Isaiah 1:4 And in the Gospel by John He says, Serpents, brood of vipers.
Accusation is censure of wrong-doers. This mode of instruction He employs by David, when He says: The people whom I knew not served me, and at the hearing of the ear obeyed me. Sons of strangers lied to me, and halted from their ways. And by Jeremiah: And I gave her a writing of divorcement, and covenant-breaking Judah feared not. Jeremiah 3:8 And again: And the house of Israel disregarded Me; and the house of Judah lied to the Lord . Jeremiah 5:11-12
Bewailing one’s fate is latent censure, and by artful aid ministers salvation as under a veil. He made use of this by Jeremiah: How did the city sit solitary that was full of people! She that ruled over territories became as a widow; she came under tribute; weeping, she wept in the night. Lamentations 1:1-2
Objurgation is objurgatory censure. Of this help the Divine Instructor made use by Jeremiah, saying, You had a whore’s forehead; you were shameless towards all; and did not call me to the house, who am your father, and lord of your virginity. Jeremiah 3:3-4 And a fair and graceful harlot skilled in enchanted potions. Nahum 3:4 With consummate art, after applying to the virgin the opprobrious name of whoredom, He thereupon calls her back to an honourable life by filling her with shame.
Indignation is a rightful upbraiding; or upbraiding on account of ways exalted above what is right. In this way He instructed by Moses, when He said, Faulty children, a generation crooked and perverse, do you thus requite the Lord? This people is foolish, and not wise. Is not this your father who acquired you? Deuteronomy 32:5-6 He says also by Isaiah, Your princes are disobedient, companions of thieves, loving gifts, following after rewards, not judging the orphans. Isaiah 1:23
In fine, the system He pursues to inspire fear is the source of salvation. And it is the prerogative of goodness to save: The mercy of the Lord is on all flesh, while He reproves, corrects, and teaches as a shepherd His flock. He pities those who receive His instruction, and those who eagerly seek union with Him. Sirach 18:13-14 And with such guidance He guarded the six hundred thousand footmen that were brought together in the hardness of heart in which they were found; scourging, pitying, striking, healing, in compassion and discipline: For according to the greatness of His mercy, so is His rebuke. Sirach 16:12 For it is indeed noble not to sin; but it is good also for the sinner to repent; just as it is best to be always in good health, but well to recover from disease. So He commands by Solomon: Strike your son with the rod, that you may deliver his soul from death. Proverbs 23:14 And again: Abstain not from chastising your son, but correct him with the rod; for he will not die. Proverbs 23:13
For reproof and rebuke, as also the original term implies, are the stripes of the soul, chastizing sins, preventing death, and leading to self-control those carried away to licentiousness. Thus also Plato, knowing reproof to be the greatest power for reformation, and the most sovereign purification, in accordance with what has been said, observes, that he who is in the highest degree impure is uninstructed and base, by reason of his being unreproved in those respects in which he who is destined to be truly happy ought to be purest and best.
For if rulers are not a terror to a good work, how shall God, who is by nature good, be a terror to him who sins not? If you do evil, be afraid, Romans 13:3-4 says the apostle. Wherefore the apostle himself also in every case uses stringent language to the Churches, after the Lord’s example; and conscious of his own boldness, and of the weakness of his hearers, he says to the Galatians: Am I your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16 Thus also people in health do not require a physician, do not require him as long as they are strong; but those who are ill need his skill. Thus also we who in our lives are ill of shameful lusts and reprehensible excesses, and other inflammatory effects of the passions, need the Saviour. And He administers not only mild, but also stringent medicines. The bitter roots of fear then arrest the eating sores of our sins. Wherefore also fear is salutary, if bitter. Sick, we truly stand in need of the Saviour; having wandered, of one to guide us; blind, of one to lead us to the light; thirsty, of the fountain of life, of which whosoever partakes, shall no longer thirst; John 4:13-14 dead, we need life; sheep, we need a shepherd; we who are children need a tutor, while universal humanity stands in need of Jesus; so that we may not continue intractable and sinners to the end, and thus fall into condemnation, but may be separated from the chaff, and stored up in the paternal garner. For the fan is in the Lord’s hand, by which the chaff due to the fire is separated from the wheat. Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17 You may learn, if you will, the crowning wisdom of the all-holy Shepherd and Instructor, of the omnipotent and paternal Word, when He figuratively represents Himself as the Shepherd of the sheep. And He is the Tutor of the children. He says therefore by Ezekiel, directing His discourse to the elders, and setting before them a salutary description of His wise solicitude: And that which is lame I will bind up, and that which is sick I will heal, and that which has wandered I will turn back; and I will feed them on my holy mountain. Such are the promises of the good Shepherd.
Feed us, the children, as sheep. Yea, Master, fill us with righteousness, Your own pasture; yea, O Instructor, feed us on Your holy mountain the Church, which towers aloft, which is above the clouds, which touches heaven. And I will be, He says, their Shepherd, Ezekiel 34:14-16 and will be near them, as the garment to their skin. He wishes to save my flesh by enveloping it in the robe of immortality, and He has anointed my body. They shall call Me, He says, and I will say, Here am I. Isaiah 58:9 You heard sooner than I expected, Master. And if they pass over, they shall not slip, Isaiah 43:2 says the Lord. For we who are passing over to immortality shall not fall into corruption, for He shall sustain us. For so He has said, and so He has willed. Such is our Instructor, righteously good. I came not, He says, to be ministered unto, but to minister. Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45 Wherefore He is introduced in the Gospel wearied, John 4:6 because toiling for us, and promising to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 For him alone who does so He owns to be the good shepherd. Generous, therefore, is He who gives for us the greatest of all gifts, His own life; and beneficent exceedingly, and loving to men, in that, when He might have been Lord, He wished to be a brother man; and so good was He that He died for us.
Further, His righteousness cried, If you come straight to me, I also will come straight to you but if you walk crooked, I also will walk crooked, says the Lord of hosts; meaning by the crooked ways the chastisements of sinners. For the straight and natural way which is indicated by the Iota of the name of Jesus is His goodness, which is firm and sure towards those who have believed at hearing: When I called, you obeyed not, says the Lord; but set at nought my counsels, and heeded not my reproofs. Proverbs 1:24-25 Thus the Lord’s reproof is most beneficial. David also says of them, A perverse and provoking race; a race which set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful with God: they kept not the covenant of God, and would not walk in His law.
Such are the causes of provocation for which the Judge comes to inflict punishment on those that would not choose a life of goodness. Wherefore also afterwards He assailed them more roughly; in order, if possible, to drag them back from their impetuous rush towards death. He therefore tells by David the most manifest cause of the threatening: They believed not in His wonderful works. When He slew them, they sought after Him, and turned and inquired early after God; and remembered that God was their Helper, and God the Most High their Redeemer. Thus He knew that they turned for fear, while they despised His love: for, for the most part, that goodness which is always mild is despised; but He who admonishes by the loving fear of righteousness is reverenced.
There is a twofold species of fear, the one of which is accompanied with reverence, such as citizens show towards good rulers, and we towards God, as also right-minded children towards their fathers. For an unbroken horse turns out unmanageable, and a son who is let take his own way turns out reckless. Sirach 30:8 The other species of fear is accompanied with hatred, which slaves feel towards hard masters, and the Hebrews felt, who made God a master, not a father. And as far as piety is concerned, that which is voluntary and spontaneous differs much, nay entirely, from what is forced. For He, it is said, is merciful; He will heal their sins, and not destroy them, and fully turn away His anger, and not kindle all His wrath. See how the justice of the Instructor, which deals in rebukes, is shown; and the goodness of God, which deals in compassions. Wherefore David — that is, the Spirit by him — embracing them both, sings of God Himself, Justice and judgment are the preparation of His throne: mercy and truth shall go before Your face. He declares that it belongs to the same power both to judge and to do good. For there is power over both together, and judgment separates that which is just from its opposite. And He who is truly God is just and good; who is Himself all, and all is He; for He is God, the only God.
For as the mirror is not evil to an ugly man because it shows him what like he is; and as the physician is not evil to the sick man because he tells him of his fever — for the physician is not the cause of the fever, but only points out the fever — so neither is He, that reproves, ill-disposed towards him who is diseased in soul. For He does not put the transgressions on him, but only shows the sins which are there; in order to turn him away from similar practices. So God is good on His own account, and just also on ours, and He is just because He is good. And His justice is shown to us by His own Word from there from above, whence the Father was. For before He became Creator He was God; He was good. And therefore He wished to be Creator and Father. And the nature of all that love was the source of righteousness — the cause, too, of His lighting up His sun, and sending down His own Son. And He first announced the good righteousness that is from heaven, when He said, No man knows the Son, but the Father; nor the Father, but the Son. Luke 10:22 This mutual and reciprocal knowledge is the symbol of primeval justice. Then justice came down to men both in the letter and in the body, in the Word and in the law, constraining humanity to saving repentance; for it was good. But do you not obey God? Then blame yourself, who drag to yourself the judge.
Chapter 10. That the Same God, by the Same Word, Restrains from Sin by Threatening, and Saves Humanity by Exhorting
If, then, we have shown that the plan of dealing stringently with humanity is good and salutary, and necessarily adopted by the Word, and conducive to repentance and the prevention of sins; we shall have now to look in order at the mildness of the Word. For He has been demonstrated to be just. He sets before us His own inclinations which invite to salvation; by which, in accordance with the Father’s will, He wishes to make known to us the good and the useful. Consider these. The good (τὸ καλόν) belongs to the panegyrical form of speech, the useful to the persuasive. For the hortatory and the dehortatory are a form of the persuasive, and the laudatory and inculpatory of the panegyrical.
For the persuasive style of sentence in one form becomes hortatory, and in another dehortatory. So also the panegyrical in one form becomes inculpatory, and in another laudatory. And in these exercises the Instructor, the Just One, who has proposed our advantage as His aim, is chiefly occupied. But the inculpatory and dehortatory forms of speech have been already shown us; and we must now handle the persuasive and the laudatory, and, as on a beam, balance the equal scales of justice. The exhortation to what is useful, the Instructor employs by Solomon, to the following effect: I exhort you, O men; and I utter my voice to the sons of men. Hear me; for I will speak of excellent things; Proverbs 8:4, 6 and so on. And He counsels what is salutary: for counsel has for its end, choosing or refusing a certain course; as He does by David, when He says, Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsels of the ungodly, and stands not in the way of sinners, and sits not in the chair of pestilences; but his will is in the law of the Lord . And there are three departments of counsel: That which takes examples from past times; as what the Hebrews suffered when they worshipped the golden calf, and what they suffered when they committed fornication, and the like. The second, whose meaning is understood from the present times, as being apprehended by perception; as it was said to those who asked the Lord, If He was the Christ, or shall we wait for another? Go and tell John, the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up; and blessed is he who shall not be offended in Me. Such was that which David said when he prophesied, As we have heard, so have we seen. And the third department of counsel consists of what is future, by which we are bidden guard against what is to happen; as also that was said, They that fall into sins shall be cast into outer darkness, where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the like. So that from these things it is clear that the Lord, going the round of all the methods of curative treatment, calls humanity to salvation.
By encouragement He assuages sins, reducing lust, and at the same time inspiring hope for salvation. For He says by Ezekiel, If you return with your whole heart, and say, Father, I will hear you, as a holy people. And again He says, Come all to Me, who labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; Matthew 11:28 and that which is added the Lord speaks in His own person. And very clearly He calls to goodness by Solomon, when He says, Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who has found understanding. Proverbs 3:13 For the good is found by him who seeks it, and is wont to be seen by him who has found it. By Jeremiah, too, He sets forth prudence, when he says, Blessed are we, Israel; for what is pleasing to God is known by us; Baruch 4:4 — and it is known by the Word, by whom we are blessed and wise. For wisdom and knowledge are mentioned by the same prophet, when he says, Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life, and give ear to know understanding. Baruch 3:9 By Moses, too, by reason of the love He has to man, He promises a gift to those who hasten to salvation. For He says, And I will bring you into the good land, which the Lord swore to your fathers. Deuteronomy 31:20 And further, And I will bring you into the holy mountain, and make you glad, Isaiah 56:7 He says by Isaiah. And still another form of instruction is benediction. And blessed is he, He says by David, who has not sinned; and he shall be as the tree planted near the channels of the waters, which will yield its fruit in its season, and his leaf shall not wither (by this He made an allusion to the resurrection); and whatsoever he shall do shall prosper with him. Such He wishes us to be, that we may be blessed. Again, showing the opposite scale of the balance of justice, He says, But not so the ungodly — not so; but as the dust which the wind sweeps away from the face of the earth. By showing the punishment of sinners, and their easy dispersion, and carrying off by the wind, the Instructor dissuades from crime by means of punishment; and by holding up the merited penalty, shows the benignity of His beneficence in the most skilful way, in order that we may possess and enjoy its blessings. He invites us to knowledge also, when He says by Jeremiah, Had you walked in the way of God, you would have dwelt for ever in peace; Baruch 3:13 for, exhibiting there the reward of knowledge, He calls the wise to the love of it. And, granting pardon to him who has erred, He says, Turn, turn, as a grape-gatherer to his basket. Jeremiah 6:9 Do you see the goodness of justice, in that it counsels to repentance? And still further, by Jeremiah, He enlightens in the truth those who have erred. Thus says the Lord, Stand in the ways, and look, and ask for the eternal paths of the Lord, what is the good path, and walk in it, and you shall find purification for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16 And in order to promote our salvation, He leads us to repentance. Wherefore He says, If you repent, the Lord will purify your heart, and the heart of your seed. Deuteronomy 30:6 We might have adduced, as supporters on this question, the philosophers who say that only the perfect man is worthy of praise, and the bad man of blame. But since some slander beatitude, as neither itself taking any trouble, nor giving any to any one else, thus not understanding its love to man; on their account, and on account of those who do not associate justice with goodness, the following remarks are added. For it were a legitimate inference to say, that rebuke and censure are suitable to men, since they say that all men are bad; but God alone is wise, from whom comes wisdom, and alone perfect, and therefore alone worthy of praise. But I do not employ such language. I say, then, that praise or blame, or whatever resembles praise or blame, are medicines most essential of all to men. Some are ill to cure, and, like iron, are wrought into shape with fire, and hammer, and anvil, that is, with threatening, and reproof, and chastisement; while others, cleaving to faith itself, as self-taught, and as acting of their own free-will, grow by praise:—
For virtue that is praised
Grows like a tree.
And comprehending this, as it seems to me, the Samian Pythagoras gives the injunction:—
When you have done base things, rebuke yourself;
But when you have done good things, be glad.
Chiding is also called admonishing; and the etymology of admonishing (νουθέτησις) is (νοῦ ἐνθεματισμός) putting of understanding into one; so that rebuking is bringing one to one’s senses.
But there are myriads of injunctions to be found, whose aim is the attainment of what is good, and the avoidance of what is evil. For there is no peace to the wicked, says the Lord . Wherefore by Solomon He commands the children to beware: My son, let not sinners deceive you, and go not after their ways; and go not, if they entice you, saying, Come with us, share with us in innocent blood, and let us hide unjustly the righteous man in the earth; let us put him out of sight, all alive as he is into Hades. Proverbs 1:10-12 This is accordingly likewise a prediction concerning the Lord’s passion. And by Ezekiel, the life supplies commandments: The soul that sins shall die; but he that does righteousness shall be righteous. He eats not upon the mountains, and has not set his eyes on the devices of the house of Israel, and will not defile his neighbour’s wife, and will not approach to a woman in her separation, and will not oppress a man, and will restore the debtor’s pledge, and will not take plunder: he will give his bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked. His money he will not give on usury, and will not take interest; and he will turn away his hand from wrong, and will execute righteous judgment between a man and his neighbour. He has walked in my statutes, and kept my judgments to do them. This is a righteous man. He shall surely live, says the Lord. Ezekiel 18:4-9 These words contain a description of the conduct of Christians, a notable exhortation to the blessed life, which is the reward of a life of goodness — everlasting life.
Chapter 11. That the Word Instructed by the Law and the Prophets
The mode of His love and His instruction we have shown as we could. Wherefore He Himself, declaring Himself very beautifully, likened Himself to a grain of mustard-seed; Matthew 13:31; Luke 13:19 and pointed out the spirituality of the word that is sown, and the productiveness of its nature, and the magnificence and conspicuousness of the power of the word; and besides, intimated that the pungency and the purifying virtue of punishment are profitable on account of its sharpness. By the little grain, as it is figuratively called, He bestows salvation on all humanity abundantly. Honey, being very sweet, generates bile, as goodness begets contempt, which is the cause of sinning. But mustard lessens bile, that is, anger, and stops inflammation, that is, pride. From which Word springs the true health of the soul, and its eternal happy temperament (εὐκρασία).
Accordingly, of old He instructed by Moses, and then by the prophets. Moses, too, was a prophet. For the law is the training of refractory children. Having feasted to the full, accordingly, it is said, they rose up to play; Exodus 32:6; 1 Corinthians 10:7 senseless repletion with victuals being called χόρτασμα (fodder), not βρῶμα (food). And when, having senselessly filled themselves, they senselessly played; on that account the law was given them, and terror ensued for the prevention of transgressions and for the promotion of right actions, securing attention, and so winning to obedience to the true Instructor, being one and the same Word, and reducing to conformity with the urgent demands of the law. For Paul says that it was given to be a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Galatians 3:24 So that from this it is clear, that one alone, true, good, just, in the image and likeness of the Father, His Son Jesus, the Word of God, is our Instructor; to whom God has entrusted us, as an affectionate father commits his children to a worthy tutor, expressly charging us, This is my beloved Son: hear Him. Matthew 17:5 The divine Instructor is trustworthy, adorned as He is with three of the fairest ornament — knowledge, benevolence, and authority of utterance — with knowledge, for He is the paternal wisdom: All Wisdom is from the Lord, and with Him for evermore;— with authority of utterance, for He is God and Creator: For all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made; John 1:3 — and with benevolence, for He alone gave Himself a sacrifice for us: For the good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep; John 10:11 and He has so given it. Now, benevolence is nothing but wishing to do good to one’s neighbour for his sake.
Chapter 12. The Instructor Characterized by the Severity and Benignity of Paternal Affection
Having now accomplished those things, it were a fitting sequel that our instructor Jesus should draw for us the model of the true life, and train humanity in Christ.
Nor is the cast and character of the life He enjoins very formidable; nor is it made altogether easy by reason of His benignity. He enjoins His commands, and at the same time gives them such a character that they may be accomplished.
The view I take is, that He Himself formed man of the dust, and regenerated him by water; and made him grow by his Spirit; and trained him by His word to adoption and salvation, directing him by sacred precepts; in order that, transforming earth-born man into a holy and heavenly being by His advent, He might fulfil to the utmost that divine utterance, Let Us make man in Our own image and likeness. Genesis 1:26 And, in truth, Christ became the perfect realization of what God spoke; and the rest of humanity is conceived as being created merely in His image.
But let us, O children of the good Father — nurslings of the good Instructor — fulfil the Father’s will, listen to the Word, and take on the impress of the truly saving life of our Saviour; and meditating on the heavenly mode of life according to which we have been deified, let us anoint ourselves with the perennial immortal bloom of gladness— that ointment of sweet fragrance — having a clear example of immortality in the walk and conversation of the Lord; and following the footsteps of God, to whom alone it belongs to consider, and whose care it is to see to, the way and manner in which the life of men may be made more healthy. Besides, He makes preparation for a self-sufficing mode of life, for simplicity, and for girding up our loins, and for free and unimpeded readiness of our journey; in order to the attainment of an eternity of beatitude, teaching each one of us to be his own storehouse. For He says, Take no anxious thought for tomorrow, Matthew 6:34 meaning that the man who has devoted himself to Christ ought to be sufficient to himself, and servant to himself, and moreover lead a life which provides for each day by itself. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained. War needs great preparation, and luxury craves profusion; but peace and love, simple and quiet sisters, require no arms nor excessive preparation. The Word is their sustenance.
Our superintendence in instruction and discipline is the office of the Word, from whom we learn frugality and humility, and all that pertains to love of truth, love of man, and love of excellence. And so, in a word, being assimilated to God by a participation in moral excellence, we must not retrograde into carelessness and sloth. But labour, and faint not. You shall be what you do not hope, and can not conjecture. And as there is one mode of training for philosophers, another for orators, and another for athletes; so is there a generous disposition, suitable to the choice that is set upon moral loveliness, resulting from the training of Christ. And in the case of those who have been trained according to this influence, their gait in walking, their sitting at table, their food, their sleep, their going to bed, their regimen, and the rest of their mode of life, acquire a superior dignity. For such a training as is pursued by the Word is not overstrained, but is of the right tension. Thus, therefore, the Word has been called also the Saviour, seeing He has found out for men those rational medicines which produce vigour of the senses and salvation; and devotes Himself to watching for the favourable moment, reproving evil, exposing the causes of evil affections, and striking at the roots of irrational lusts, pointing out what we ought to abstain from, and supplying all the antidotes of salvation to those who are diseased. For the greatest and most regal work of God is the salvation of humanity. The sick are vexed at a physician, who gives no advice bearing on their restoration to health. But how shall we not acknowledge the highest gratitude to the divine Instructor, who is not silent, who omits not those threatenings that point towards destruction, but discloses them, and cuts off the impulses that tend to them; and who indoctrinates in those counsels which result in the true way of living? We must confess, therefore, the deepest obligations to Him. For what else do we say is incumbent on the rational creature — I mean man — than the contemplation of the Divine? I say, too, that it is requisite to contemplate human nature, and to live as the truth directs, and to admire the Instructor and His injunctions, as suitable and harmonious to each other. According to which image also we ought, conforming ourselves to the Instructor, and making the word and our deeds agree, to live a real life.
Chapter 13. Virtue Rational, Sin Irrational
Everything that is contrary to right reason is sin. Accordingly, therefore, the philosophers think fit to define the most generic passions thus: lust, as desire disobedient to reason; fear, as weakness disobedient to reason; pleasure, as an elation of the spirit disobedient to reason. If, then, disobedience in reference to reason is the generating cause of sin, how shall we escape the conclusion, that obedience to reason — the Word — which we call faith, will of necessity be the efficacious cause of duty? For virtue itself is a state of the soul rendered harmonious by reason in respect to the whole life. Nay, to crown all, philosophy itself is pronounced to be the cultivation of right reason; so that, necessarily, whatever is done through error of reason is transgression, and is rightly called, (ἁμάρτημα) sin. Since, then, the first man sinned and disobeyed God, it is said, And man became like to the beasts: being rightly regarded as irrational, he is likened to the beasts. Whence Wisdom says: The horse for covering; the libidinous and the adulturer has become like to an irrational beast. Sirach 33:6 Wherefore also it is added: He neighs, whoever may be sitting on him. The man, it is meant, no longer speaks; for he who transgresses against reason is no longer rational, but an irrational animal, given up to lusts by which he is ridden (as a horse by his rider).
But that which is done right, in obedience to reason, the followers of the Stoics call προσῆκον and καθῆκον, that is, incumbent and fitting. What is fitting is incumbent. And obedience is founded on commands. And these being, as they are, the same as counsel — having truth for their aim, train up to the ultimate goal of aspiration, which is conceived of as the end (τέλος). And the end of piety is eternal rest in God. And the beginning of eternity is our end. The right operation of piety perfects duty by works; whence, according to just reasoning, duties consist in actions, not in sayings. And Christian conduct is the operation of the rational soul in accordance with a correct judgment and aspiration after the truth, which attains its destined end through the body, the soul’s consort and ally. Virtue is a will in conformity to God and Christ in life, rightly adjusted to life everlasting. For the life of Christians, in which we are now trained, is a system of reasonable actions — that is, of those things taught by the Word — an unfailing energy which we have called faith. The system is the commandments of the Lord, which, being divine statues and spiritual counsels, have been written for ourselves, being adapted for ourselves and our neighbours. Moreover, they turn back on us, as the ball rebounds on him that throws it by the repercussion. Whence also duties are essential for divine discipline, as being enjoined by God, and furnished for our salvation. And since, of those things which are necessary, some relate only to life here, and others, which relate to the blessed life yonder, wing us for flight hence; so, in an analogous manner, of duties, some are ordained with reference to life, others for the blessed life. The commandments issued with respect to natural life are published to the multitude; but those that are suited for living well, and from which eternal life springs, we have to consider, as in a sketch, as we read them out of the Scriptures.
Source. Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.