13. Observe, this is the reason why He speaks beforehand with reference to this dowry; He warranted to me in the dowry the resurrection of the body,—immortality. For immortality does not always follow resurrection, but the two are distinct. For many have risen, and been again laid low, like Lazarus and the bodies of the saints. But in this case it is not so, but the promise is of resurrection, immortality, a place in the joyful company of angels, the meeting of the Son of Man in the clouds, and the fulfilment of the saying “so shall we ever be with the Lord,” the release from death, the freedom from sin, the complete overthrow of destruction. Of what kind is that? “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Dost thou give me good things which I know not? He saith “yea; only be espoused to me here, love me in this world.” “Wherefore dost thou not give me the dowry here?” “It will be given when thou hast come to my Father, when thou hast entered the royal palace. Didst thou come to me! nay I came to thee. I came not that thou shouldst abide here but that I might take thee and return. Seek not the dowry here: all depends on hope, and faith. “And dost thou give me nothing in this world?” He answers “Receive an earnest that thou mayest trust me concerning that which is to come: receive pledges and betrothal gifts.” Therefore Paul saith “I have espoused you.” As gifts of betrothal God has given us present blessings: they are an earnest of the future; but the full dowry abides in the other world. How so? I will tell you. Here I grow old, there I grow not old; here I die, there I die not, here I sorrow, there I sorrow not; here is poverty, and disease, and intrigue, there nothing of that kind exits: here is darkness and light, there is light alone: here is intrigue, there is liberty; here is disease, there is health; here is life which has an end, there is life which hath no end; here is sin, there is righteousness, and sin is banished; here is envy, there nothing of the kind exists “Give me these things” one says; “Nay! wait in order that thy fellow-servants also may be saved; wait I say. He who establisheth us and hath given us the earnest”—what kind of earnest? the Holy Spirit, the supply of the Spirit. Let me speak concerning the Spirit. He gave the signet ring to the Apostles, saying “take this and give it to all.” Is the ring then portioned out, and yet not divided? It is so. Let me teach you the meaning of the supply of the Spirit: Peter received, and Paul also received the Holy Spirit. He went about the world, he released sinners from their sins, he restored the lame, he clothed the naked, he raised the dead, he cleansed the lepers, he bridled the devil, he strangled the demons, he held converse with God, he planted a Church, levelled temples to the earth, overturned altars, destroyed vice, established virtue, made angels of men.
14. All these things we were. But “the earnest” filled the whole world. And when I say the whole I mean all which the sun shines upon, sea, islands, mountains, valleys, and hills. Paul went hither and thither, like some winged creature, with one mouth only contending against the enemy, he the tentmaker, who handled the workman’s knife and sewed skins together: and yet this his craft was no hindrance to his virtue, but the tentmaker was stronger than demons, the uneloquent man was wiser than the wise. Whence was this? He received the earnest, he bore the signet ring and carried it about. All men saw that the King had espoused our nature: the demon saw it and retreated, he saw the earnest, and trembled and withdrew: he saw but the Apostle’s garments and fled. O the power of the Holy Spirit. He bestowed authority not on the soul, nor on the body, but even on raiment; nor on raiment only but even on a shadow. Peter went about and his shadow put diseases to flight, and expelled demons, and raised the dead to life. Paul went about the world, cutting away the thorns of ungodliness, sowing broadcast the seeds of godliness, like an excellent ploughman handling the ploughshare of doctrine. And to whom did he go? To Thracians, to Scythians, to Indians, to Maurians to Sardinians, to Goths, to wild savages, and he changed them all. By what means? By means of “the earnest.” How was he sufficient for these things? By the grace of the Spirit. Unskilled, ill-clothed, ill-shod he was upheld by Him “who also hath given the earnest of the Spirit” Therefore he saith “and who is sufficient for these things? But our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us sufficient as ministers of the new Testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit.” Behold what the Spirit hath wrought: He found the earth filled with demons and He has made it heaven. For meditate not on present things but review the past in your thought. Formerly there was lamentation, there were altars everywhere, everywhere the smoke and fumes of sacrifice, everywhere unclean rites and mysteries, and sacrifices, everywhere demons holding their orgies, everywhere a citadel of the devil, everywhere fornication decked with wreaths of honour; and Paul stood alone. How did he escape being overwhelmed, or torn in pieces? How could he open his mouth? He entered the Thebaid, and made captives of men, He entered the royal palace, and made a disciple of the king. He entered the hall of judgment, and the judge saith to him “almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian,” and the judge became a disciple. He entered the prison, and took the jailor captive. He visited an island of barbarians, and made a viper the instrument of his teaching. He visited the Romans, and attracted the senate to his doctrine. He visited rivers, and desert places in all parts of the world. There is no land or sea which has not shared in the benefits of his labours; for God has given human nature the earnest of His signet, and when He gives it He saith: some things I give thee now, and others I promise. Therefore the prophet saith concerning her “The queen did stand upon thy right hand in a vesture woven with gold.” He does not mean a real vesture, but virtue. Therefore the Scripture elsewhere saith “How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” so that here he does not mean a garment, but fornication, and foul and unclean living. As then foul raiment signifies sin, so does golden raiment signify virtue. But this raiment belonged to the king. He Himself bestowed the raiment upon her: for she was naked, naked and disfigured. “The queen stood on thy right hand in a vesture woven with gold.” He is speaking not of raiment but of virtue. Observe: the expression itself has great nobility of meaning. He does not say “in a vesture of gold” but “in a vesture woven with gold.” Listen intelligently. A vesture of gold is one which is gold throughout: but a vesture woven with gold is one which is partly of gold, partly of silk. Why then did he say that the bride wore not a vesture of gold, but one woven with gold? Attend carefully. He means the constitution of the Church in its varied manifestations. For since we do not all belong to one condition of life, but one is a virgin, another a widow, a third lives a life of devotion—so the robe of the Church signifies the constitution of the Church.
15. Inasmuch then as our Master knew that if He carved out only one road for us, many must shrink from it, He carved out divers roads. Thou canst not enter the kingdom it may be by the way of virginity. Enter it then by the way of single marriage. Canst thou not enter it by one marriage? Perchance thou mayest by means of a second marriage. Thou canst not enter by the way of continence: enter then by the way of almsgiving: or thou canst not enter by the way of almsgiving? then try the way of fasting. If thou canst not use this way, take that—or if not that, then take this. Therefore the prophet spoke not of a garment of gold, but of one woven with gold. It is of silk, or purple, or gold. Thou canst not be a golden part? then be a silken one. I accept thee, if only thou art clothed in my raiment. Therefore also Paul saith “If any man builds upon this foundation, gold, silver, previous stones.” Thou canst not be the precious stone? then be the gold. Thou canst not be the gold? then be the silver, if only thou art resting upon the foundation. And again elsewhere, “there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars.” Thou canst not be a sun? then be a moon. Thou canst not be a moon? then be a star. Thou canst not be a large star? be content to be a tittle one if only thou art in the Heaven. Thou canst not be a virgin? then live continently in the married state, only abiding in the Church. Thou canst not be without possessions? then give alms, only abiding in the Church, only wearing the proper raiment, only submitting to the queen. The raiment is woven with gold, it is manifold in texture. I do not bar the way against thee: for the abundance of virtues has rendered the dispensation of the king easy in operation. “Clothed in a vesture woven with gold, manifold in texture.” Her vesture is manifold: unfold, if you please, the deep meaning of the expression here used, and fix your eyes upon this garment woven with gold. For here indeed some five celibate, others live in an honourable estate of matrimony being not much inferior to them: some have married once, others are widows in the flower of their age. For what purpose is a paradise? and wherefore its variety? having divers flowers, and trees, and many pearls. There are many stars, but only one sun: there are many ways of living, but only one paradise; there are many temples, but only one mother of them all. There is the body, the eye, the finger. but all these make up but one man. There is the same distinction between the small, the great, and the less. The virgin hath need of the married woman; for the virgin also is the product of marriage, that marriage may not be despised by her. The virgin is the root of marriage: thus all things have been linked together, the small with the great, and the great with the small. “The queen did stand on thy right hand clothed in a vesture wrought with gold, manifold in texture” Then follows “Hearken! O daughter” The conductor of the bride says that thou art about to go forth from thy home to the home of the bridegroom who in his essential nature far surpasses thee. I am the conductor of the bride. “Hearken O daughter” Did she immediately become the wife? Yea: for here there is nothing corporeal. For He espoused her as a wife, He loves her as a daughter, He provides for her as a handmaid, He guards her as a virgin, He fences her round like a garden, and cherishes her like a member: as a head He provides for her, as a root he causes her to grow, as a shepherd He feeds her, as a bridegroom He weds her, as a propitiation He pardons her, as a sheep He is sacrificed, as a bridegroom He preserves her in beauty, as a husband He provides for her support. Many are the meanings in order that we may enjoy a part if it be but a small part of the divine economy of grace. “Hearken O daughter” and behold, and look upon things which are bridal and yet spiritual. Hearken O daughter. She was at first a daughter of demons, a daughter of the earth, unworthy of the earth and now she has become a daughter of the king. And this He wished who loved her. For he who loves does not investigate character: love does not regard uncomeliness: on this account indeed is it called love because it oftentimes hath affection for an uncomely person. Thus also did Christ. He saw one who was uncomely (for comely I could not call her) and He loved her, and He makes her young, not having spot or wrinkle. Oh what a bridegroom! adorning with grace the ungracefulness of his bride! Hearken O daughter! hearken and behold! Two things He sixth “Hearken” and “Behold,” two which depend on thyself, one on thy eyes, the other on thy hearing. Now since her dowry depended on hearing(and although some of you have been acute enough to perceive this already, let them tarry for those who are feebler: I commend those who have anticipated the truth, and make allowances for those who only follow in their track) since the dowry then depended on hearing—(and what is meant by hearing? faith: for “faith cometh by hearing” faith as opposed to fruition, and actual experience) I said before that He divided the dowry into two, and gave some portion to the bride for an earnest, whilst He promised others in the future. What did He give her? He gave her forgiveness of sins, remission of punishment, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, the body of the Lord, the divine, spiritual Table, the resurrection of the dead. For all these things the Apostles had. Therefore He gave some parts and promised others. Of some there was experience and fruition, others depended upon hope and faith. Now listen. What did He below12 Baptism and the Sacrifice. Of these there is experience. What did He promise? Resurrection, immortality of the body, union with angels, a place in the joyful company of archangels, and as a citizen in His kingdom, immaculate life, the good things “which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of man, things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
16. Understand what is said, lest ye lose it: I am labouring to enable you to perceive it. The dowry of the bride then was divided into two portions consisting of things present and things to come; things seen and things heard, things given and things taken on trust, things experienced, and things to be enjoyed hereafter; things belonging to present life, and things to come after the resurrection. The former things you see, the latter you hear. Observe then what He says to her that you may not suppose that she received the former things only, though they be great and ineffable, and surpassing all understanding. “Hearken O daughter and behold;” hear the latter things and behold the former that thou mayest not say “am I again to depend on hope, again on faith, again on the future?” See now: I give some things, and I promise others: the latter indeed depend on hope, but do thou receive the others as pledges, as an earnest, as a proof of the remainder. I promise thee a kingdom: and let present things be the ground of thy trust, thy trust in me. Dost thou promise me a kingdom? Yea. I have given thee the greater part, even the Lord of the kingdom, for “he who spared not his own son, but gave him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Dost thou give me the resurrection of the body? Yea; I have given thee the greater part. What is the nature of it? Release from sins. How is that the greater part? Because sin brought forth death. I have destroyed the parent, and shall I not destroy the offspring? I have dried up the root, and shall I not destroy the produce. Hearken O daughter and behold.” What am I to behold? Dead men raised to life, lepers cleansed, the sea restrained, the paralytic braced up into vigour, paradise opened, loaves poured forth in abundance, sins remitted, the lame man leaping, the robber made a citizen of paradise, the publican turned into an evangelist, the harlot become more modest than the maid. Hear and behold. Hear of the former things and behold these. Accept from present things a proof of the others; concerning those I have given thee pledges, things which are better than they are.” “What is the meaning of this thy saying?” These things are mine. “Hearken O daughter and behold.” These things are my dower to thee. And what doth the bride contribute? Let us see. What I pray thee dost thou bring that thou mayest not be portionless? What can I, she answers, bring to thee from heathen altars, and the steam of sacrifices and from devils? What have I to contribute? what? sayest thou? Thy will and thy faith. “Hearken O daughter and behold.” And what wilt thou have me do? “Forget thy own people.” What kind of people? the devils the idols, the sacrificial smoke, and steam and blood. “Forget thy own people, and thy father’s house.” Leave thy father and come after me. I left my Father, and came to thee, and wilt thou not leave thy father? But when the word leave is used in reference to the Son do not understand by it an actual leaving. What He means is “I condescended, I accommodated myself to thee, I assumed human flesh.” This is the duty of the bridegroom, and of the bride, that thou shouldest abandon thy parents, and that we should be wedded to one another. “Hearken O daughter and behold, and forget thy own people, and thy father’s house.” And what dost thou give me if I do forget them? “and the king shall desire thy beauty.” Thou hast the Lord for thy, lover. If thou hast Him for thy lover, thou hast also the things which are his. I trust ye may be able to understand what is said: for the thought is a subtle one, and I wish to stop the mouth of the Jews.
Now exert your minds I pray: for whether one hears, or forbears to hear I shall dig and till the soil. “Hearken O daughter, and behold, forget also thy own people, and thy fathers house, and the king shah desire thy beauty.” By beauty in this passage the Jew understands sensible beauty; not spiritual but corporeal.
17. Attend, and let us learn what corporeal, and what spiritual beauty are. There is soul and body: they are two substances: there is a beauty of body, and there is a beauty of soul. What is beauty of body? an extended eyebrow, a merry glance, a blushing cheek, ruddy lips, a straight neck, long wavy hair tapering fingers, upright stature, a fair blooming complexion. Does this bodily beauty come from nature, or from choice? Confessedly it comes from nature. Attend that thou mayest learn the conception of philosophers. This beauty whether of the countenance, of the eye, of the hair, of the brow, does it come from nature, or from choice? It is obvious that it comes from nature. For the ungraceful woman, even if she cultivate beauty in countless ways, cannot become graceful in body: for natural conditions are fixed, and confined by limits which they cannot pass over. Therefore the beautiful woman is always beautiful, even if she has no taste for beauty: and the ungraceful cannot make herself graceful, nor the graceful ungraceful. Wherefore? because these things come from nature. Well! thou hast seen corporeal beauty. Now let us turn inwards to the soul: let the handmaid approach the mistress! let us turn I say to the soul. Look upon that beauty, or rather listen to it: for thou canst not see it since it is invisible—Listen to that beauty. What then is beauty of soul? Temperance, mildness, almsgiving, love, brotherly kindness, tender affection, obedience to God, the fulfilment of the law, righteousness, contrition of heart. These things are the beauty of the soul. These things then are not the results of nature, but of moral disposition. And he who does not possess these things is able to receive them, and he who has them, if he becomes careless, loses them. For as in the case of the body I was saying that she who is ungraceful cannot become graceful; so in the case of the soul I say the contrary that the graceless soul can become full of grace. For what was more graceless than the soul of Paul when he was a blashphemer and insulter: what more full of grace when he said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” What was more graceless than the soul of the robber? what more full of grace when he heard the words “Verily I say unto thee to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise?” What was more graceless than the publican when he practised extortion? but what more full of grace when he declared his resolution. Seest thou that thou canst not alter grace of body, for it is the result not of moral disposition, but of nature. But grace of soul is supplied out of our own moral choice. Thou hast now received the definition. Of what kind are they? that the beauty of the soul proceeds from obedience to God. For if the graceless soul obeys God it puts off its ungracefulness, and becomes full of grace. “Saul! Saul!” it was said, “why persecutest thou me?” and he replied “and who art Thou Lord?” “I am Jesus.” And he obeyed, and his obedience made the graceless soul full of grace. Again, He saith to the publican “come follow me” and the publican rose up and became an apostle: and the graceless soul became full of grace. Whence? by obedience. Again He saith to the fishermen “Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of men:” and by their obedience their minds became full of grace. Let us see then what kind of beauty He is speaking of here. “Hearken O daughter and behold, and forget thy own people and thy fathers house, and the king shall desire thy beauty” What kind of beauty will he desire? the spiritual kind. How so? because she is to “forget” He saith “hearken and forget.” These are acts of moral choice. “Hearken!” he said: “an ungraceful one hears and her ungracefulness being that of the body is not removed. To the sinful woman He has said “Hearken,” and if she will obey she sees what manner of beauty is bestowed upon her. Since then the ungracefulness of the bride was not physical, but moral (for she did not obey God but transgressed) therefore he leads her to another remedy. Thou didst become ungraceful then, not by nature, but by moral choice: and thou didst become full of grace by obedience. “Hearken O daughter and behold and forget thy own people, and thy father’s house, and the king shall desire thy beauty.” Then that thou mayest learn that he does not mean anything visible to sense, when thou hearest the word beauty, think not of eye, or nose, or mouth, or neck, but of piety, faith, love, things which are within—“for all the glory of the king’s daughter is from within.” Now for all these things let us offer thanks to God, the giver, for to Him alone belongeth glory, honour, might, for ever and ever. Amen.
Introduction to the Treatise that No One Can Harm the Man Who Does Not Injure Himself.
This very beautiful treatise was composed when St. Chrysostom was in exile, probably not long before his death, and was sent with a letter to his great friend the deaconess Olympias in Constantinople.
Plato in the 10th book of his Dialogue called the “Republic” employs an argument to prove the immortality of the soul, so nearly resembling a portion of this treatise that I can scarcely doubt St. Chrysostom had it in his mind. The following is the passage in the Platonic dialogue as rendered in the excellent translation of Messrs. Davies & Vaughan. I omit a few sentences here and there.
“Have you not learned, I asked, that our soul is immortal and never dies?
He looked at me and said in amazement. No really I have not: but can you maintain this doctrine?
Yes as I am an honest man, I replied, and I think you could also. It is quite easy to do it.
Proceed by all means.
So you call one thing good and another evil?
And do we hold the same opinion as to the meaning of two terms?
What opinion do you hold?
I hold that the term evil comprises everything that destroys and corrupts, and the term good everything that preserves and benefits.
So do I.
Again; do you maintain that everything has its evil and its good? Do you say for example that the eyes are liable to the evil of ophthalmia, the entire body to disease, corn to mildew, timber to rot, copper and iron to rust or in other words that almost everything is liable to some connatural evil and malady?
And is it not the case that, whenever an object is attacked by one of these maladies it is impaired; and in the end completely broken up and destroyed by it?
Doubtless it is so?
Hence everything is destroyed by its own connatural evil and vice: otherwise if it be not destroyed by this, there is nothing else that can corrupt it. For that which is good will never destroy anything, nor yet that which is neither good nor evil.
Of course not.
If then we can find among existing things one which is liable to a particular evil which can indeed mar it, but cannot break it up or destroy it, shall we not be at once certain that a thing so constituted can never perish?