On this account also wealth has seemed to the majority of men to be a good thing; at least when it is stripped of this passion of vainglory it will no longer seem desirable. At any rate those who have been permitted to obtain in the midst of their poverty popular glory have no longer preferred wealth, but rather have despised much gold when it was bestowed upon them. And you have no need to learn from me who these men were, for you know them better than I do, Epaminondas, Socrates, Aristeides, Diogenes, Krates who turned his own land into a sheep walk. The others indeed, inasmuch as it was not possible for them to get rich, saw glory brought to them inthe midst of their poverty, and straightwaydevoted themselves to it, but this man threw away even what he possessed; so infatuated were they in the pursuit of this cruel monster. Let us not then weep because God has rescued us from this shameful thraldom which is anobject of derision and of much reproach; for there is nothing splendid in it save the name it bears, and in reality it places those who possess it in a position which belies its appellation, and there is no one who does not laugh to scorn the man who does anything with a view to glory. For it is only he who has not an eye to this who will be enabled to win respect and glory; but he who sets a great value on popular glory, and does and endures everything for the sake of obtaining it is the very man who will fail to attain it, and be subjected to all the exact opposites of glory, ridicule, and accusation, scoffing, enmity and hatred. And this is wont to happen not only among men, but also among you women, and indeed more especially in your case. For the woman who is unaffected in mien, and gait, and dress, and seeks no honour from any one is admired by all women, and they are ecstatic in their praise and call her blessed, and invoke all manner of good things upon her; but a vain-glorious woman they behold with aversion and detestation, and avoid her like some wild beast and load her with infinite execrations and abuse. And not only do we escape these evils by refusing to accept popular glory, but we shall gain the highest advantages in addition to those which have been already mentioned, being trained gradually to loosen our hold of earth and move in the direction of heaven, and despise all worldly things. For he who feels no need of the honour which comes from men, will perform with security whatever good things he does, and neither in the troubles, nor in the prosperities of this life will he be very seriously affected; for neither can the former depress him, and cast him down, nor can the latter elate and puff him up, but in precarious and troubled circumstances he himself remains exempt from change of any kind. And this I expect will speedily be the case with your own soul, and having once for all torn yourself away from all worldly interests you will display amongst us a heavenly manner of life, and in a little while will laugh to scorn the glory which you now lament, and despise its hollow and vain mask. But if you long for the security which you formerly enjoyed owing to your husband, and the protection of your property, and immunity from the designs of any of those persons who trample upon the misfortunes of others “Cast thy care upon the Lord and He will nourish thee.” “For look,” it is said, “to past generations and see, who ever placed his hope on the Lord and was put to shame, or who ever called upon Him, and was neglected, or who ever remained constant to His commandments and was forsaken?” For He who has alleviated this intolerable calamity, and placed you even now in a state of tranquillity will also avert impending evils; for that you will never receive another blow more severe than this you would yourself admit. Having then so bravely borne present troubles, and this when you were inexperienced, you will far more easily endure future events should any of the things contrary to our wishes, which God forbid, occur. Therefore seek Heaven, and all things which conduce to life in the other world, and none of the things here will be able to harm thee, not even the world-ruler of darkness himself, if only we do not injure ourselves. For if any one deprives us of our substance, or hews our body in pieces, none of these things concern us, if our soul abides in its integrity.
7. Now, once for all, if you wish your property to abide with you in security and yet further to increase I will show thee the plan, and the place where none of those who have designs upon it will be allowed to enter. What then is the place? It is Heaven. Send away thy possessions to that good husband of thine and neither thief, nor schemer, nor any other destructive thing will be able to pounce upon them. If you deposit these goods in the other world, you will find much profit arising from them. For all things which we plant in Heaven yield a large and abundant crop, such as might naturally be expected from things which have their roots in Heaven. And ifyou do this, see what blessings you will enjoy, in the first place eternal life and the things promised to those who love God, “which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man,” and in the second place perpetual intercourse with thy good husband; and you will relieve yourself from the cares and fears, and dangers, and designs, and enmity and hatred which beset you here. For as long as you are surrounded with this property there will probably be some to make attempts upon it; but if you transfer it to Heaven, you will lead a life of security and safety, and much tranquillity, enjoying independence combined with godliness. For it is very irrational, when one wishes to buy land, and is seeking for productive ground, if, Heaven being proposed to him instead of earth, and the possibility presented of obtaining an estate there he abides still on earth, and puts up with the toils that are connected with it; for it often disappoints our hopes.
But since thy soul is grievously upset and vexed on account of the expectation often entertained that thy husband would attain the rank of prefect, and the thought that he was untimely snatched away from that dignity consider first of all this fact, that even if this hope was a very well grounded one nevertheless it was only a human hope, which often falls to the ground; and we see many things of this kind happening in life, those which were confidently expected having remained unfulfilled, whereas those which never even entered the mind have frequently come to pass, and this we constantly see occurring everywhere in cases of governments and kingdoms, and inheritances, and marriages. Wherefore even if the opportunity were very near at hand, yet as the proverb says “between the cup and the lip there is many a slip” and the Scripture saith “from the morning until the evening the time is changed.”
So also a king who is here to-day is dead tomorrow; and again this same wise man illustrating the reversal of men’s hopes says “many tyrants have sat down upon the ground, and one that was never thought of has worn the crown.” And it was not absolutely certain that if he lived he would arrive at this dignity; for that which belongs to the future is uncertain, and causes us to have various suspicions. For on what grounds was it evident that had he lived he would have attainedthat dignity and that things would not haveturned out the other way, and that he would have lost the office he actually held either from falling a victim to disease, or from being exposed to the envy and ill will of those who wished to excel him in prosperity, or from suffering some other grievous misfortune. But let us suppose, if you please, that it was perfectly evident that in any case had he survived he would have obtained this high distinction; then in proportion to the magnitude of the dignity would have been the increased dangers, and anxieties, and intrigues which he must have encountered. Or put these even on one side, and let us suppose him to traverse that sea of difficulties safely, and in much tranquillity; then tell me what is the goal? not that which he has now reached; no, not that, but something different, probably unpleasant and undesirable. In the first place his sight of heaven, and heavenly things would have been delayed, which is no small loss to those who have put their trust in things to come; and in the next place, even had he lived a very pure life yet the length of his life and the exigencies of his high office would have prevented his departing in such a pure condition as has now been the case. In fact it is uncertain whether he might not have undergone many changes and given way to indolence before he breathed his last. For now we are confident that by the grace of God he has taken his flight to the region of rest, because he had not committed himself to any of those deeds which exclude from the kingdom of Heaven; but in that case after long contact with public business, he might probably have contracted greatdefilement. For it is an exceedingly rare thing for one who is moving in the midst of such great evils to hold a straight course, but to go astray, both wittingly and against his will, is a natural thing, and one which constantly occurs. But, as it is, we have been relieved. from this apprehension, and we are firmly persuaded that in the great day he will appear inmuch radiance, shining forth near the King, and going with the angels in advance of Christ and clad with the robe of unutterable glory, and standing by the side of the King as he gives judgment, and acting as one of His chief ministers. Wherefore desisting from mourning and lamentation do thou hold on to the same way of life as his, yea even let it be more exact, that having speedily attained an equal standard of virtue with him, you may inhabit the same abode and be united to him again through the everlasting ages, not in this union of marriage but another far better. For this is only a bodily kind of intercourse, but then there will be a union of soul with soul more perfect, and of a far more delightful and far nobler kind.
Introduction to the Homilies on S. Ignatius and S. Babylas.
The following have been selected out a large number delivered by Chrysostom on the festivals of saints and martyrs, not only because they are good samples of his discourses on such occasions, but also on account of the celebrity of the two saints in whose honour they were spoken. There is really very little known about Ignatius beyond the fact that he was Bishop of Antioch, and suffered martyrdom at Rome in the reign of Trajan about the year 110 a.d.: being torn to death by wild beasts in the colossal amphitheatre erected for the display of such inhuman sports by the emperors of the Flavian dynasty. The tradition that he was a disciple of St. John does not rest on any trustworthy evidence, but on the other hand there is nothing inherently impossible or even improbable in the supposition.
According to a tradition which cannot be traced back earlier than the latter part of the fourth century the reliques were translated from Rome to Antioch and deposited in the Christian cemetery outside the gates called the Daphnitic gate, because it led from the city to the famous suburb of Daphne, on which we shall have more to say presently. It is clear from the following eulogy that Chrysostom accepted this tradition, and his repeated invitation to his hearers to “come hither” to enjoy the beneficent influence of the saint seems to imply that his discourse was delivered in the “martyr,” that is the chapel erected to contain the martyr’s remains, no in the “Great Church” of Antioch where he commonly preached. In the next generation the reliques of the saint were again translated by the “Fortune of Antioch,” and then the illustrious Christian martyr was substituted for the mythical goddess on the tutelary genius of the city.
The fame of S. Babylas rivalled and for a time almost threatened to overshadow that of S. Ignatius. He had been Bishop of Antioch about 327 to 250. The heroic courage with which he had once repulsed the Emperor Philip form the church until he should have submitted to penance for some offence committed, and his martyrdom in the persecution under Decius were his original claims to popular veneration. But some later events shed a fresh lustre on his name. In the year 351 the Caesar Gallus, brother of Julian, being resident in Antioch, transferred the reliques of Babylas from their resting place within the city to the beautiful suburb the garden or grove of Daphne. “In the history of this spot we have a singular instance of the way in which Grecian legend was transplanted into foreign soil. Daphne the daughter of the river-god Ladon were according to the Syrian version of the myth, overtaken by her lover Apollo near Antioch. Here it was, on the banks not of the Peneus but of the Oronete, that the maiden prayed to her mother earth to open her arms and shelter her from the pursuit of the amorous god, and that the laurel plant sprang out of the spot where she vanished from the eyes of her disappointed lover. The house of Seleucus Nicator, founder of the Syrian monarchy was said to have struck his hoof upon one of the arrows dropped by Apollo in the hurry of his pursuit; in consequence of which the king dedicated the place to the god. A temple was erected in his honour, ample in its proportions, sumptuous in its adornments; the internal walls were resplendent with polished marbles, the lofty ceiling was of cypress wood. The colossal image of the god, enriched with gold and gems, nearly reached the top of the roof.
With one hand the deity lightly touched the lyre which hung from his shoulders and in the other he held a golden dish, as if about to pour a libation on the earth “and supplicate the venerable mother to give to his arms the cold and beauteous Daphne.”1 The whole grove became consecrated to pleasure under the guise of festivity in honor of the god.
It contained everything which could gratify and charm the senses; the deep impenetrable shade of cypress trees, the delicious noise and coolness of falling waters, the fragrance of aromatic shrubs;there were also baths, and grottos, porticoes, and colonnades. Such materials for voluptuous enjoyment told with fatal effect upon the morals of a people addicted at all times to an immoderate indulgence in luxurious pleasure.2 Daphne became one of those places where gross and shameless vice was practised under the sanction of religion. The intention of Cae Gallus in translating the reliques of Babylas to Daphne was as Chrysostom expresses it to “bring a physician to the sick;” to introduce a pure and Christian association into a spot hitherto consecrated to Pagan and Licentious rites. The bones of the saint were laid near the shrine of Apollo, and the Christian church standing hard by the heathen temple was a visible warning to any Christian who might visit the place to abstain from deeds abhorrent to the faith for which the bishop had died. But the remains of the martyr were not permitted to rest in peace. When the Emperor Julian visited Antioch 362, he consulted the oracle of Apollo at Daphne respecting the issue of the expedition which he was about to make into Persia. But the oracle was dumb. At length the god yielded to the importunity of prayers and sacrifices so far as to explain the cause of his silence. He was offended by the proximity of dead men. “Break open the sepulchres, take up the bones, and carry them hence.” No name was mentioned, but the demand was interpreted as referring to the remains of Babylas, and the wishes of the affronted deity were complied with. The Christians were commanded by Julian to remove the bones of their saint from the neighbourhood of Apollo’s sanctuary. They obeyed, but what was intended to be a humiliation was converted into a triumph. The reliques were conveyed to their resting place within the city as in a kind of festive procession, accompanied by crowds along the whole way, four or five miles, chanting the words of the Psalm, “Confounded be all they that worship carved images and delight in vain gods.” In vain were some of the Christians seized and tortured. The popularity of the saint grew in proportion as Julian tried to put it down; and the insults done to him were speedily avenged. A fire, mysterious in its origin, broke out soon after the removal of the martyr’s reliques in the shrine of Apollo, consuming the roof of the building, and the statue of the god. At the time when Chrysostom preached, about twenty years later, the columns and walls were still standing, the melancholy wreck serving as a memorial and witness of the judgment which had fallen upon the place.
The remains of Babylas were not brought back to Daphne, but removed from the city to a magnificent church built to receive them on the other side of Orontes. Near the close of his discourse Chrysostom refers to the erection of this church and to the zeal of the Bishop Meletius in promoting it, who actually took part in the work with his own hands, as we are told that Hugh did in the building of the Minster at Lincoln. But although the body of the martyr rested elsewhere, his spirit and influence were supposed to inhabit in a special manner the spot where he had put the heathen deity to silence and shame, and to confer blessings on the pilgrims who resorted in crowds to his martyr in Daphne. The ruined and deserted temple indeed, and the well preserved Christian church thronged with worshippers, standing as they did side by side, formed a striking emblem of the two religions to which they were devoted—the one destined to crumble and vanish away, the other to endure and conquer.
Homilies on S. Ignatius and S. Babylas.
Translated with Introduction and Notes by Rev. W. R. W. Steophens, M.a., Prebendary of Chichester, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.
Assistd by Rev. T. P. Brandram, M.a., Rector of Rumboldswhyke, Chichester.
On the holy martyr Saint Ignatius, the god-bearer,1 arch-bishop of Antioch the great, who was carried off to Rome, and there suffered martyrdom, and thence was conveyed back again to Antioch.
1. Sumptuous and splend identertainers give frequent and constant entertainments, alike to display their own wealth, and to show goodwill to their acquaintance. So also the grace of the Spirit, affording us a proof of his own power, and displaying much good-will towards the friends of God, sets before us successively and constantly the tables of the martyrs. Lately, for instance, a maiden quite young, and unmarried, the blessed martyr Pelagia, entertained us, with much joy. To-day again, this blessed and noble martyr Ignatius has succeeded to her feast. The persons are different: The table is one. The wrestlings are varied: The crown is one. The contests are manifold: The prize is the same. For in the case of the heathen contests, since the tasks are bodily, men alone are, with reason, admitted. But here, since the contest is wholly concerning the soul, the lists are open to each sex, for each kind the theatre is arranged. Neither do men alone disrobe, in order that the women may not take refuge in the weakness of their nature, and seem to have a plausible excuse, nor have women only quitted themselves like men, lest the race of men be put to shame; but on this side and on that many are proclaimed conquerors, and are crowned, in order that thou mayest learn by means of the exploits themselves that in Christ Jesus neither male nor female,2 neither sex, nor weakness of body, nor age, nor any such thing could be a hindrance to those who run in the course of religion; if there be a noble readiness, and an eager mind, and a fear of God, fervent and kindling, be established in our souls. On this account both maidens and women, and men, both young and old, and slaves, and freemen, and every rank, and every age, and each sex, disrobe for those contests, and in no respect suffer harm, since they have brought a noble purpose to these wrestlings. The season then already calls us to discourse of the mighty works of this saint. But our reckoning is disturbed and confused, not knowing what to say first, what second, what third, so great a multitude of things calling for eulogy surrounds us, on every side; and we experience the same thing as if any one went into a meadow, and seeing many a rosebush and many a violet, and an abundance of lilies, and other spring flowers manifold and varied, should be in doubt what he should look at first, what second, since each of those he saw invites him to bestow his glances on itself. For we too, coming to this spiritual meadow of the mighty works of Ignatius, and beholding not the flowers of spring, but the manifold and varied fruit of the spirit in the soul of this man, are confused and in perplexity, not knowing to which we are first to give our consideration, as each of the things we see draws us away from its neighbours, and entices the eye of the soul to the sight of its own beauty. For see, he presided over the Church among us nobly, and with such carefulness as Christ desires. For that which Christ declared to be the highest standard and rule of the Episcopal office, did this man display by his deeds. For having heard Christ saying, the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep,3 with all courage he did lay it down for the sheep.
He held true converse with the apostles and drank of spiritual fountains. What kind of person then is it likely that he was who had been reared, and who had everywhere held converse with them, and had shared with them truths both lawful and unlawful to utter, and who seemed to them worthy of so great a dignity? The time again came on, which demanded courage; and a soul which despised all things present, glowed with Divine love, and valued things unseen before the things which are seen; and he lay aside the flesh with as much ease as one would put off a garment. What then shall we speak of first? The teaching of the apostles which he gave proof of throughout, or his indifference to this present life, or the strictness of his virtue, with which he administered his rule over the Church; which shall we first call to mind? The martyr or the bishop or the apostle. For the grace of the spirit having woven a threefold crown, thus bound it on his holy head, yea rather a manifold crown. For if any one will consider them carefully, he will find each of the crowns, blossoming with other crowns for us.
2. And if you will, let us come first to the praise of his episcopate. Does this seem to be one crown alone? come, then, let us unfold it in speech, and you will see both two, and three, and more produced from it. For I do not wonder at the man alone that he seemed to be worthy of so great an office, but that he obtained this office from those saints, and that the hands of the blessed apostles touched his sacred head. For not even is this a slight thing to be said in his praise, nor because he won greater grace from above, nor only because they caused more abundant energy of the Spirit to come upon him, but because they bore witness that every virtue possessed by man was in him. Now how this is, I tell you. Paul writing to Titus once on a time—and when I say Paul, I do not speak of him alone, but also of Peter and James and John, and the whole band of them; for as in one lyre, the strings are different strings, but the harmony is one, so also in the band of the apostles the persons are different, but the teaching is one, since the artificer is one, I mean the Holy Spirit, who moves their souls, and Paul showing this said, “Whether therefore they, or I, so we preach.”4 This man, then, writing to Titus, and showing what kind of man the bishop ought to be, says, “For the bishop must be blameless as God’s steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, temperate, holding to the faithful word, which is according to the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers;”5 and to Timothy again, when writing upon this subject, he says somewhat like this: “If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. The bishop, therefore, must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach, no brawler, no striker, but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money. Dost thou see what strictness of virtue he demands from the bishop? For as some most excellent painter from life, having mixed many colors, if he be about to furnish an original likeness of the royal form, works with all accuracy, so that all who are copying it, and painting from it, may have a likeness accurately drawn, so accordingly the blessed Paul, as though painting some royal likeness, and furnishing an original sketch of it, having mixed the different colors of virtue, has painted in the features of the office of bishop complete, in order that each of those who mount to that dignity, looking thereupon, may administer their own affairs with just such strictness.