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Misery of returning to the old age' of sinful living. 159
reason out, but himself, after the resurrection to come had Rom. 6, 3. 4. been set before us, demands of us another, even a new conversation, which is brought about in the present life by a change of habits". When then the fornicator becomes chaste, the covetous man merciful, the harsh subdued, even here a resurrection has taken place, the prelude to the other. And how is it a resurrection? Why, because sin is mortified, and righteousness hath risen again, and the old life hath been made to vanish, and this new and angelic one is being lived in. But when you hear of a new life, look for a great alteration, a wide change. But tears come into my eyes, and I groan deeply to think how great religiousness1 Paul1 x00φίαν requires of us, and what listlessness we have yielded ourselves up to, going back after our Baptism to the oldness we before had, and returning to Egypt, and remembering the onions after the manna. For ten or twenty days at the very time of Baptism' we undergo a change, but then take up our former doings again. But it is not for a set number of days, but for our whole life, that Paul requires of us such a conversation. But we go back to our former vomit, thus after the youth of grace building up the old age of sins. For either the love of money, or the slavery to desires not convenient, or any other sin whatsoever, useth to make the worker thereof old. Now that which is made old, and is becoming aged, is nigh unto disappearing. For there is no body, there surely is none, to be seen as palsied by length of time, as a soul is decayed and tottering with many sins. Such an one gets carried on to the last degree of doting, yielding indistinct sounds, like men that are very old and crazed, and being surcharged with rheum, and great distortion of mind, and forgetfulness, and with scales upon its eyes, becomes' at once disgustful to men, and an easy prey to the devil. Such then are the souls of sinners; not so those of the righteous, for they are youthful and wellfavoured, and are in the very prime of life throughout,
h S. Gr. Naz. Jamb. xx. 271. p. 228. (in Ed. Ben. xxiv. 277. p. 508.) B. What? have I not the cleansing laver yet? A. You have, but mind! B. Mind what? A. Not for your habits, but for past transgressions. B. Nay, but for habits! What? A. Only if
thou be first at work to cleanse them.
Sav. mar. and 3 Mss. paripa, en-
k So Sav. but mar. and 3 Mss. -μivo.
160 Foul condition of Sinners. Return of the Prodigal.
HOMIL. ever ready for any fight or struggle. But those of sinners, if they receive even a small shock, straightway fall and are Ps. 1, 4. undone. And it was this the Prophet made appear when he said, that like as the chaff which the wind scattereth from the face of the earth, thus are they that live in sin whirled to and fro, and exposed to every sort of harm. For they neither see like a healthy person, nor hear with simplicity, they speak not articulately, but are oppressed with great shortness of breath. They have their mouth overflowing with spittle. And would it were but spittle, and nothing offensive! But now they send forth words more fetid than any mire, and what is worst, they have not power even to spit this saliva of words away from them, but taking it in their hand with much lewdness, they smear it on again, so as to be coagulating, and hard to perspire through". Perhaps ye are sickened with this description. Ought ye not then to be more so at the reality. For if these things when happening in the body are disgustful, much more when in the soul. Such was that son who wasted out all his share, and was reduced to the greatest wretchedness, and was in a feebler state than any imbecile or disordered person. But when he was willing, he became suddenly young by his decision alone and his change. For as soon as he had said, I will return to my Father, this one word conveyed to him all blessings; or rather not the bare word, but the deed which he added to the word. For he did not say, I will go up, and then stay there; but said, I will go up, and went up, and returned the whole of that way. Thus let us also do; and even if we have gotten carried beyond the boundary, let us go up to our Father's house, and not stay lingering over the length of the journey. For if we be willing, the way back again is easy and very speedy. Only let us leave the strange and foreign land; for this is what sin is, drawing us far away from our Father's house; let us leave her then, that we may speedily return to the house of our Father. For our Father hath a natural yearning towards us, and will honour1 us if Mss. we be changed, no less than those that are unattainted, if we Sav.love change, but even more, just as the father shewed that son
diaruia ap. Hipp. p. 503. 11. Scap. or to cut through, from dariμra.
God's ready mercy. The first step in returning hardest. 161
6, 3. 4.
the greater honour. For he had greater pleasure himself at Rom. receiving back his son. And how am I to go back again? one may say. Do but put a beginning upon the business, and the whole is done. Stay from vice, and go no farther into it, and thou hast laid hold of the whole already. For as in the case of the sick, being no worse may be a beginning of getting better, so is the case with vice also. Go no further, and then your deeds of wickedness will have an end. And if you do so for two days, you will keep off on the third day more easily; and after the three days, you will add ten, then twenty, then an hundred, then your whole life. For the further thou goest on, the easier wilt thou see the way to be, and thou wilt stand close to the summit, and wilt at once enjoy many goods. For so it was, when the prodigal came back, there were flutes, and harps, and dancings, and feasts, and assemblings; and he who might have called his son to account for his ill-timed extravagance, and flight to such a distance, did nothing of the sort, but looked upon him as unattainted, and could not find it in him even to use the language of reproach, or rather, even to mention barely to him the former things, but threw himself upon him, and kissed him, and killed the calf, and put a robe upon him, and placed on him abundant honours. Let us then, as we have such examples before us, be of good cheer and keep from despair. For He is not so well pleased with being called Master, as Father, nor with having a slave as with having a son. And this is what He liketh rather than that. This then is why He did all that He has done; and spared not even His Only-begotten Son, that Rom. 8, we might be adopted as sons, that we might love Him, not as a Master only, but as a Father. And if He obtain this of us, He taketh delight therein as one that has glory given him, and proclaimeth it to all, though He needeth nothing of ours. This is what, in Abraham's case for instance, He every where does, using the words, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and yet it was they of His household who should have found an honour in this. But now it is the Lord evidently who does this: for this is why He says to Peter, Lovest thou Me more than these? to shew that John 21, He seeketh nothing so much as this from us. For this too He 17.
162 To make sacrifices for the love of God a great blessing.
HOMIL. bade Abraham offer his son to Him, that He might make it known to all that He was greatly beloved" by the patriarch. Now this exceeding desire to be loved comes from loving exceedingly. For this cause too He said to the Apostles, Mat. 10, He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. For this cause He bids us esteem that even which is 1 or life, in the most close connection with us, our soul1, as second to the love of Him, since He wisheth to be beloved by us with exceeding entireness. For we too, if we have no strong feelings about a person, have no strong desire for his friendship either, though he be great and noble; whereas when we love any one warmly and really, though the person loved be of low rank and humble, yet we esteem love from him as a very great honour. And for this reason He Himself also called it John 12, glory not to be loved by us only, but even to suffer those shameful things in our behalf. However, those things were a glory owing to love only. But whatever we suffer for Him, it is not for love alone; but even for the sake of the greatness and dignity of Him we love, that it would with good reason both be called glory, and be so indeed. Let us then incur dangers for Him as if running for the greatest crowns, and let us esteem neither poverty, nor disease, nor affront, nor calumny, nor death itself, to be heavy and burdensome, when it is for Him that we suffer these things. For if we be right minded, we are the greatest possible gainers by these things, as neither from the contrary to these shall we if not rightminded gain any advantage. But consider; does any one affront thee and war against thee? Doth he not thereby set thee upon thy guard, and give thee an opportunity of growing like unto God? For if thou lovest him that plots against Mat. 5, thee, thou wilt be like Him that maketh His Sun to rise upon the evil and good. Does another take thy money away? If thou bearest it nobly, thou shalt receive the same reward as they who have spent all they have upon the poor. Heb. 10, For it says, Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, know
ing that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Has any one reviled thee and abused thee, whether truly or falsely, he weaves for thee a very great crown if thou
v.39.and John 12, 25.
This passage is one amongst many which shew how the fides formata'
was that which the Fathers contemplated.
Use of open enemies. Danger of sceret temptations. 163 bearest meekly his contumely; since he too, who calum- ROM. 6, 3.4. niates, provides for us an abundant reward. For rejoice, it Mat. 5, says, and be exceeding glad, when men say all manner of 13. evil against you falsely, because great is your reward in Heaven. And he too that speaketh truth against us is of the greatest service, if we do but bear meekly what is said. For the Pharisee spake evil of the Publican, and with truth, still instead of a Publican he made him a righteous man. And Luke 18, what need to go into particular instances. For any one that will go to the conflicts of Job may learn all these points accurately. And this is why Paul said, If God be for us, Rom. 8, who can be against us? As then by being earnest, we gain even from things that vex us, so by being listless, we do not even improve from things that favour us. For what did Judas profit, tell me, by being with Christ? or what profit was the Law to the Jews? or Paradise to Adam? or what did Moses profit those in the wilderness? And so we should leave all, and look to one point only, how we may husband aright our own resources. And if we do this, not even the devil himself will ever get the better of us, but will make our profiting the greater, by putting us upon being watchful. Now in this way it is that St. Paul rouses the Ephesians, by describing his fierceness. Yet we sleep and snore, though we have to do with so crafty an enemy. And if we were aware of a serpent° nestling by our bed, we should make much ado to kill him. But when the devil nestleth in our souls, we fancy that we take no harm, but lie at our ease; and the reason is, that we see him not with the eyes of our body. And yet this is why we should rouse us the more and be sober. For against an enemy whom one can perceive one may easily be on guard; but one that cannot be seen, if we be not continually in arms, we shall not easily escape. And the more so, because he hath no notion of open combat, (for he would surely be soon defeated,) but often under the appearance of friendship he insinuates the venom of his cruel malice. In this way it was that he suborned Job's wife, by putting on the mask of natural affectionateness, to give that wretchless advice. And so when conversing with Adam, he
See Macarius on the Keeping of Institutes of Christian Perfection, the Heart, c. 1. translated in Penn's p. 2.