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434 Charity above meats before God and man. HOMIL. Ver. 16, 17. Let not then your good be evil spoken of. XXVI. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink.

By their good, he means here either their faith, or the hope of rewards hereafter, or the perfectness of their religious state. For it is not only that you fail to profit your brother, he means, but the doctrine itself, and the grace of God, and His gift, you cause to be evil spoken of. Now when thou fightest, when thou quarrellest, when thou art vexatious, when thou makest schism in the Church, and reproachest thy brother, and art distant with him, those that are without will speak evil of you. And so good is so far from coming of this, that just the opposite is the case. For your good is charity, love

of the brotherhood, being united, being bound together, living jou at peace, living in gentleness? He again, to put an end to

his fears and the other's disputatiousness, says, For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink. Is it by these, he means, that we are to be approved? As he says in another passage too, Neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse. And he does not need any proof, but is content with stating it. And what he says is nearly this, If thou eatest, does this lead thee to the Kingdom? And this was why, by way of satirizing them as mightily pleased with themselves herein, he said, not meat only, but drink. What then are the things that do bring us there? Righteousness, and peace, and joy, and a virtuous life, and peace with our brethren, (where to this quarrelsomeness is opposed,) the joy from unanimity, which this rebuking puts an end to. But this he said not to one party only, but to both of them, it being a fit season for saying it to both. Then as he had mentioned peace and joy, but there is a peace and joy over bad actions also, he adds, in the Holy Ghost. Since he that ruins his brother, hath at once subverted peace and joy, and committed greater injustice than he that plunders money. And what is worse is, that Another saved him, and thou wrongest and ruinest him. Since then eating, and the supposed perfect state, does not bring in these virtues, but the things subversive of them it does bring in, how can it be else than right to make light of little things, in order to give firm

h I Cor. 8,

speaking of things offered to idols.

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All meats clean, yet not to a weak conscience. 435 ness to great ones? Then since this rebuking took place in Rom. some degree out of vanity, he proceeds to say,

14, 21. Ver. 18. For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

For they will not admire thee so much for thy perfect state, as all will for peace and amity. For this is a goodly thing, that all will have the benefit of, but of that not one even will.

Ver. 19. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify one another.

This applies to the other, that he may grow peaceable. But the other to the latter too, that he may not destroy his ! Ms. brother. Still he has made both apply to either again, by saying, one another, and shewing that without peace it is not easy to edify.

Ver. 20. For meat destroy not the work of God.

Giving this name to the salvation of a brother, and adding to the fears, and shewing that he is doing the opposite of that he desires. For thou, he says, art so far from building up as thou intendest, that thou dost even destroy, and that a building too not of man but of God, and not for any great end either, but for a trivial thing. For it was for meat, he says. Then lest so many indulgences should confirm the weaker brother in his misconception, he again becomes doctrinal, as follows,

All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

Who does it, that is, with a bad conscience. And so if you should force him, and he should eat, there would be nothing gained. For it is not the eating that maketh unclean, but the intention with which a man eats. If then thou dost not set that aright, thou hast done all to no purpose, and hast made things worse: for thinking a thing unclean is not so bad as tasting it when one thinks it unclean. Here then you are committing two errors, one by increasing his prejudice through your quarrelsomeness, and another by getting him to taste of what is unclean. And so, as long as you do not persuade him, do not force him. Ver. 21. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink uine,

2 Ib. 18,

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436 Abstinence to avoid offence no hypocrisy. Homil. nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, XXVI.

or is made weak.

Again, he requires the greater alternative, that they should

not only not force him, but even condescend to him. For be Acts often did this himself also, as when he circumcised', when he 16, 3.

was shorn”, when he sacrificed that Jewish sacrifices. And

he does not say to the man' do so,' but he states it in the 26. see' form of a sentiment to prevent again making the other, the pp. 279, weaker man, too listless. And what are his words? It is

good not to eat flesh. And why do I say flesh ? if it be wine, or any other thing of the sort besides, which gives offence, refrain. For nothing is so important as thy brother's salvation. And this Christ shews us, since He came from Heaven, and suffered all that Hewent through, for our sakes. And let me beg you to observe, how he also drives it home upon the other, by the words stumbleth, or, is offended, or, is made weak. And do not tell me (he means) that he is so without reason, since thou hast the power to set it right. For the other has

a sufficient claim to be helped in his weakness, and to thee *Gal. 2, this were no loss, it not being a case of hypocrisy", but of

edification and economy. For if thou force him, he is at once destroyed, and will condemn thee, and fortify himself the more in not eating. But if thou condescend to him, then he will love thee, and will not suspect thee as a teacher, and thou wilt afterwards gain the power of sowing imperceptibly in him the right views. But if he once hate thee, then thou hast closed the entrance for thy reasoning. Do not then compel him, but even thyself refrain for his sake, not refraining from it as unclean, but because he is offended, and he will love thee the more.

So Paul also advises when he says, It is good not to eat flesh, not because it was unclean, but because the brother is offended and is weak.

Ver. 22. Hast thou faith? hare it to thyself.

Here he seems to me to be giving a gentle warning to the vanity of the more advanced. And what he says is nearly this, Dost thou wish to shew me that thou art perfect, and fully furnished? Do not shew it to me, but let thy conscience suffice. And by faith, be here means that concemed not with doctrines, but with the subject in hand. For of the

former it says, With the mouth confession is made unto 10, 10.

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License intended only in things indifferent. 437 salvation; and, Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him Rom. will I also deny. For the former by not being confessed,

14, 23. ruins us; and so does this by being confessed unseasonably. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in the thing which he alloweth. Again, he strikes at the weaker one, and gives' himo sufficient crown, in that of his conscience. Even if no 2i.e. the

and Ms. man see, that is, thou art able to be happy in thyself. For stronger after saying, Have it to thyself, to prevent his thinking this a contemptible tribunal, he tells him this is better to thee than the world. And if all accuse thee, and thou condemn not thyself, and thy conscience lay no charge against thee, thou art happy. But this is a statement he did not make to apply to any person whatever. For there are many that condemn not themselves, and yet are great transgressors: and these are the most miserable of men. But he still keeps to the subject in hand.

Ver. 23. For he that doubteth is damned if he eat.

Again, it is to exhort him to spare the weaker, that he says this. For what good is it if he eat in doubt, and condemn himself? For I approve of him, who both eateth, and doeth it not with doubting. See how he induces him not to eating only, but to eating with a good conscience too. Then he mentions likewise the reason why he is condemned, continuing in these words,

Because he eateth not of faith. Not because it is unclean, but because it is not of faith. For he did not believe that it is clean, but though unclean he touched it. But by this he shews them also what great harm they do by compelling men, and not persuading them, to touch things which had hitherto appeared unclean to them, that for this at all events they might leave rebuking. For whatsoever is not of faith is sin. For when a person does not feel sure, nor believe that a thing is clean, how can he do else than sin ? Now all these things have been spoken by Paul of the subject in hand, not of every thing. And observe what care he takes not to offend any; and he had said before, If thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. But if one • Luke 9, 26. Compare St. Ephrem,

d Nullum Theatrum virtuti conSerm. xx. vol. iii. adv. Scrutatores. scientia majus. Cicero, Tusc. ii. 26. Hilar. de Syn. fides fidei comparata, Virtue has no field for display more &c. where it is used for a form of faith. ample than conscience.

438 God helps the obedient to sufficient knowledge. Homil. should not grieve him, much less ought one to give him XXVI. offence. And again, For meat destroy not the work of God.

For if it were a grievous act of iniquity to throw down a
Church, much more so is it to do so to the spiritual House.
Since a man is more dignified than a Church: for it was not
for walls that Christ died, but for these temples.

Let us then watch our own conduct on all sides, and

afford to no one ever so little handle. For this life present Hilary is a race-course, and we ought to have thousands of eyes' on in Ps. 119.Xv.

every side, and not even to fancy that ignorance will be an med. adequate excuse. For there is such a thing, there certainly

is, as being punished for ignorance, when the ignorance is inexcusable. Since the Jews too were ignorant, yet not ignorant in an excusable way. And the Gentiles were ignorant, but they are without excuse. For when thou art ignorant of those things which it is not possible to know, thou wilt not be subject to any charge for it: but when of things easy and possible, thou wilt be punished with the utmost rigour. Else if we be not excessively supine, but contribute our own share to its full amount, God will also reach forth His hand unto us in those things which we are

ignorant of. And this is what Paul said to the Philippians Phil. 3, likewise. If in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall

reveal even this unto you. But when we are not willing to

do even what we are masters of, we shall not have the benefit 2 Ms. as of His assistance in this? either. And this was the case with Mat.13,

the Jews too. For this cause, He says, speak I unto them in parables, because seeing they see not. In what sense was

it that seeing they saw not? They saw devils cast out, and Mat. 12, they said, He hath a devil. They saw the dead raised, and

they worshipped not, but attempted to kill Him. But not of this character was Cornelius. For this reason then, when he was doing the whole of his duty with sincerity, God added unto him that which was lacking also. Say not then, how

came God to neglect such and such a one who was no 3ő7.c. formalists and a good man, though a Gentile. For in the

first place no man can possibly know for certain * whether a σαφώς person is no formalist, but He only who formed the hearts thé .

e So rendered, to keep up the play himself to a false show. upon the words; it means, not framing

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