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144 God threatens from love, since sin is the worst evil.
HOMIL, excellency from their standing near that glory, which is a sign of the greatest love.
Let us then emulate the powers above, and be desirous as above not only of standing near the throne, but of having Him dwelling in us who sitteth upon the Throne. He loved us when we hated Him, and also continueth to love us. Mat 5, For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. As then He loveth us, do thou love Him. For He is our Friend'. And how cometh it, some will say, that one who is our Friend threateneth hell, and punishment, and vengeance? It is owing to His loving us alone. For all He doeth and is busied with, is with a view to strike out thy wickedness, and to refrain with fear, as with a kind of bridle, thy inclinableness to the worse side, and by blessings and by pains recovering thee from thy downward. course, and leading thee up to Him, and keeping thee from all vice, which is worse than hell. But if thou mockest what is said, and wouldest rather live continually in misery, than be punished for a single day, it is no marvel. For 3s this is but a sign of thy unformed judgment, drunkenness, γνώμης and incurable disorder. Since little children even when they see the physician going to apply burning or the knife, flee and leap away screaming and convulsed, and choose to have a continual sore eating into their body, rather than to endure a temporary pain, and so enjoy health afterwards. But those who have come to discretion, know that to be diseased is worse than submitting to the knife, as also to 43 Mss. be wicked is worse than to be punished.
For the one is
to be cured and to be healthy, the other to ruin one's constitution and to be in continual feebleness. Now that health is better than feebleness, surely is plain to every one. Thieves then ought to weep not when they have their sides pierced through, but when they pierce through walls and murder. For if the soul be better than the body (as it is), when the former is ruined there is more reason to groan and lament; but if a man does not feel it, so much the more reason to bewail it. For those that love with an unchastened love ought to be more pitied than those
2 φιλεί γὰρ
Sinful Pleasure a misery, punishment a benefit.
who have a violent fever, and those that are drunken, than Roм. 5, 11. those that are undergoing torture. But if these are more painful (some may say), how come we to give them the preference? Because there are many of mankind, who, as the Proverb saith, like the worse, and they choose these, and pass by the better. And this one may see happening as well in victuals as in forms of government, in emulous aims of life too, and in the enjoyment of pleasure, and in wives, and in houses, and in slaves, and in lands, and in the case of all other things. For which is more pleasurable pray, cohabiting with women or with males? with women or with mules? Yet still we shall find many that pass over women, and cohabit with creatures void of reason, and abuse the bodies of males. Yet natural pleasures are greater than unnatural ones. But still many there are that follow after things ridiculous and joyless, and accompanied with a penalty, as if pleasurable. Well but to them, a man may say, these things appear so. Now this alone is ground enough to make them miserable, that they think those things to be pleasurable which are not so. Thus they assume punishment to be worse than sin, which it is not, but just the contrary. Yet, if it were an evil to the sinner, God would not have added evils to the evil; for He that doeth every thing to extinguish evil, would not have increased it. Being punished then is no evil to the man who has done. wrong, but not being punished, when in that plight, is evil, just as for the infirm not to be cured. For there is nothing so evil as extravagant desire. And when I say, extravagant, I mean that of luxury, and that of ill-placed glory, and that of power, and in general that of all things which go beyond what is necessary. For such is he who lives a soft and dissolute life, who seems to be the happiest of men, but is the most wretched, as superinducing upon his soul harsh and tyrannical sovereigns. For this cause hath God made the present a life of labour to us, that He may rid us of that slavery, and bring us into genuine freedom. For this cause He threatened punishment, and made labours a part of our portion in life, so muzzling our vaunting spirit. In this way the Jews also, when they were fettered to the. clay and brick making, were at once self-governed', and gentle
146 Troubles appointed us, their use depends on our own choice.
HOMIL. called continually upon God. But when they were in the enjoyment of freedom, then they murmured, and provoked the Lord, and pierced themselves through with countless evils. What then, it may be said, will you say to those frequent instances of men being altered for the worse by tribulations? Why, that this is no effect of tribulation, but of their own imbecility. For neither if a man had a weak stomach and could not take a bitter medicine which would act as a purgative, but was made even worse by it, would it be the drug we should find fault with, but the weakness of the part, as we should therefore here too with the yieldingness of temper. For he who is altered so by tribulation, is much more likely to be affected in this way by laxity. If he falls even 1or tied when splinted', (this is what affliction is,) much more will
he when the bandage is removed. If when braced up he is
1 xamú altered, much more when in a state of tumour. And how
am I, one may ask, to keep from being so altered by tribulation? Why, if thou reflectest that, wish it or not, thou wilt have to bear the thing inflicted: but if thou dost it with a thankful spirit, thou wilt gain very greatly thereby; but if thou art indignant at it, and ragest and callest it hard names, thou wilt not make the calamity lighter, but thou wilt render its wave more troublous. By feeling then in this way, let us turn what is necessary into a matter of our own choice. What I mean is this-suppose one has lost his own son, another all his property: if you reflect that it is not in the nature of things for what has taken place to be undone, while it is to gain fruit from the misfortune, though irremediable, that of bearing the circumstance nobly; and if instead of using hard words, thou wert to offer up words of thanksgiving to the Lord, so would evils brought upon thee against thy will become to thee the good deeds of a free choice. Hast thou seen a son taken prematurely away? Job 1, Say, the Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away. Do you see your fortune exhausted? Say, naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. Do you see evil men faring well, and just men faring ill and undergoing ills without number, and dost thou not know Ps. 73, where to find the cause? Say, I became even as it were a beast before Thee. Yet I am ever with Thee. But if thou
The love of God overcomes every other feeling.
wilt search out the cause, reflect that He has fixed a day in Rom. which He will judge the world, and so you throw aside all perplexity, for then every man will meet his deserts, even as Lazarus and the rich man. Call to mind the Apostles, for they too rejoiced at being scourged, at being driven about and undergoing numberless sufferings, because they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name of Christ. Acts 5, And do thou, then, if thou art sick, bear it nobly, and own thyself indebted to God for it, and thou shalt receive the same reward with them. But how, when in feebleness and pain, art thou to be able to feel grateful to the Lord? Thou wilt if thou lovest Him sincerely. For if the Three Children who were thrown into the furnace, and others who were in prisons, and in countless other evils, ceased not to give thanks, much more will they who are in a state of disease, and are possessed with sore infirmities, be able to do this. For there is not, assuredly there is not, any thing which vehement desire doth not get the better of. But when the desire is even that of God, it is higher than any thing, and neither fire, nor the sword, nor poverty, nor infirmity, nor death, nor aught else of the kind appeareth dreadful to one who hath gotten this love, but scorning them all, he will fly to heaven, and will have affections no way inferior to those of its inhabitants, seeing nothing else, neither heaven, nor earth, nor sea1, but gazing only at the one Beauty of that glory. so 6 And neither the vexations of this life present will depress Sav. sea him, nor the things which are goodly and attended with only pleasure elate him or puff him up. Let us then love with this love (for there is not any thing equal unto it) both for the sake of things present and for the sake of things to come. Or rather, more than for these, for the nature of the love itself. For we shall be set free both from the punishments of this life and of that which is to come, and shall enjoy the kingdom. Yet neither is the escape from hell, nor the fruition of the kingdom, any thing great in comparison of what is yet to be said. For greater than all these things is it to have Christ our beloved at once and our lover. For if when this happens with men it is above all pleasure; when both happen from God, what language or what thought is able to set before one the blessedness of this soul? There is none
The Love of God known only by experience.
HOMIL. that can, save the experience of it only. That then we may IX. by experience come to know what is this spiritual joy, and
life of blessedness, and untold treasure of good things, let us leave every thing to cling to that love, with a view as well to our own joy as to the glory of God. For unto Him is the glory and power, with His Only-begotten, and the Holy Ghost, now, and ever, and unto all ages evermore. Amen.