The twentieth Homily has these words in the title, according to manuscripts mentioned by Fronto Ducaeus, and likewise in some of ours, and particularly that in the Royal Library, numbered 1971. Elecqh de pro deka hmerwn th" agia" kai zwopoiou tou Kuriou hmwn Æhsou Cristou ec nekrwn anastasew". “It was spoken ten days before the holy and life-giving Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.” This therefore is in perfect accordance with that saying of Chrysostom, a little before the end of the Homily, “Forty days have passed away.” This sermon then was delivered on the Friday after the Sunday which we call Passion-Sunday. For this day was the fortieth, beginning from the Monday after Quinquagesima, which was the commencement of Lent. But it was likewise the tenth before Easter, reckoning Easter itself with it. The Homily is almost throughout against enmity and the remembrances of injuries, and at the close is, according to Chrysostom’s accustomed manner, directed against oaths.The twenty-first Homily, which is the last on the Statues, seems, from what he says just at the beginning, to have been delivered on the very day of the Lord’s Resurrection, and after the return of Flavian the Bishop; whose journey to the Emperor, and address to the same on behalf of the city’s preservation, as well as the Emperor’s reply full of lenity in which he pardons the citizens, are all particularly related by Chrysostom, occupying the whole of this discourse. But even until the return of Flavian, the people of Antioch were terrified by every day’s reports, and fluctuated between hope and fear, as Chrysostom observes a little after the beginning.
Table of the Events Connected with the Homilies on the Statues.
This Homily was delivered in the Old Church1 of Antioch, while St. Chrysostom was yet a Presbyter, upon that saying of the Apostle, 1 Tim. v. 23, “Drink a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thy often infirmities.”
1. Ye have heard the Apostolic voice, that trumpet from heaven, that spiritual lyre! For even as a trumpet sounding a fearful and warlike note, it both dismays the enemy, and arouses the dejected spirits on its own side, and filling them with great boldness, renders those who attend to it invincible against the devil! And again, as a lyre, that gently soothes with soul-captivating melody, it puts to slumber the disquietudes of perverse thoughts; and thus, with pleasure, instills into us much profit. Ye have heard then to-day the Apostle discoursing to Timothy of divers necessary matters! for he wrote to him as to the laying on of hands, saying, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins.”2 And he explained the grievous danger of such a trangression, by showing that so men will undergo the punishment of the sins perpetrated by others, in common with them, because they confer the power. on their wickedness by the laying on of hands. Presently again he says, “Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities.” To-day also he has discoursed to us concerning the subjection of servants, and the madness of misers, as well as on the arrogance of the rich, and on various other matters.
2. Since then it is impossible to go through every part, what part of the words rehearsed would you have us select for the subject of our address to your charity?3 For as in a meadow, I perceive in what has been read a great diversity of flowers; a multiplicity of roses and violets, and of lilies not a few; and everywhere the various and copious fruit of the Spirit is scattered around, as well as an abundant fragrance. Yea, rather the reading of the divine Scriptures is not a meadow only, but a paradise; for the flowers here have not a mere fragrance only, but fruit too, capable of nourishing the soul. What part then of the things rehearsed do you desire that we bring before you this day? Do you wish what seems the more insignificant, and easy for any one to understand, to be that which we should handle at present? To me, indeed, this seems proper, and I doubt not you will concur in this opinion. What then is this that might seem plainer than anything else? What but that, which seems so easy, and obvious for any one to say? Well! what is that? “Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities.” Well then, let us employ the whole of our discourse upon this subject; and this we would do, not for the love of praise, nor because we study to exhibit powers of oratory (for the things about to be spoken are not our own, but such as the grace of the Holy Spirit may inspire); but in order that we may stir up those hearers who are too listless, and may convince them of the greatness of the treasure of the holy Scriptures; and that it is neither safe, nor free from peril, to run through them hastily. For if indeed a text so simple and obvious as this one, which seems to the multitude to contain nothing that need be insisted on, should appear to afford us the means of abundant riches, and openings toward the highest wisdom, much rather will those others, which at once manifest their native wealth, satisfy those who attend to them with their infinite treasures. Assuredly then, we ought not hastily to pass by even those sentences of Scripture which are thought to be plain; for these also have proceeded from the grace of the Spirit; but this grace is never small, nor mean, but great and admirable, and worthy the munificence of the Giver.
3. Let us not therefore listen carelessly; since even they who roast the metallic earth, when they have thrown it into the furnace, not only take up the masses of gold, but also collect the small particles with the utmost care. Inasmuch, then, as we likewise have to roast4 the gold drawn from the Apostolic mines, not by casting it into the furnace, but by depositing it in the thoughts of your souls; not lighting an earthly flame, but kindling the fire of the Spirit, let us collect the little particles with diligence.5 For if the saying be brief, yet is its virtue great. For pearls too have their proper market, not owing to the size of the substance, but the beauty of their nature. Even so is it with the reading of the divine Scriptures; for worldly instruction rolls forth its trifles in abundance, and deluges its hearers with a torrent of vain babblings, but dismisses them empty-handed, and without having gathered any profit great or small. Not so however is it with the grace of the Spirit, but, on the contrary, by means of small sentences, it implants divine wisdom in all who give heed, and one sentence often times affords to those who receive it a sufficient source of provision for the whole journey of life.6
4. Since then its riches are so great, let us arouse ourselves, and receive that which is spoken with a watchful mind; for I am preparing to plunge our discussion to an extreme depth. The admonition itself hath no doubt seemed beside the purpose, and superfluous to many: and they are apt to talk much in this way, “Was Timothy of himself not able to judge what it was needful to make use of, and did he wait to learn this of his teacher.7 And then did the teacher not only give directions, but also set them down in writing, graying it there as on a column of brass in his Epistle to him? and was he not ashamed to give directions about things of this nature, when writing in a public manner, to his disciple?” For this end then, that thou mayest learn that the admonition, so far from being beside the purpose, was a necessary and highly profitable one; and that the thing proceeded not from Paul, but from the grace of the Spirit, viz, that this should have been (I say) not a spoken precept, but one deposited in letters, and to be handed down to all future generations through the Epistle, I shall proceed at once to the proof.
5. For besides the subjects which have been mentioned, there is another, about which some are no less perplexed, enquiring within themselves on what account God permitted a man possessing such confidence towards Him,8 whose bones and relics expelled demons,9 to fall into such a state of infirmity; for it is not merely that he was sick, but constantly, and for a length of time; and by these recurring and prolonged infirmities he was not permitted to have even a brief respite. “How does this appear,” it may be asked? From the very words of Paul, for he does not say, on account of the “infirmity,” but on account of the “infirmities;” and not merely “infirmities,” but he clearly speaks of these as being constant, when he says “thine often infirmities.” Let those then attend to this, whoever they are, who being given over to a lingering10 sickness are querulous and dejected under it.
6. But the subject of enquiry is not only, that being a holy man he was sick, and sick so continually, but that he was at the same time entrusted with the public affairs of the world. For if he had been one of those who have retreated to the tops of mountains; who have fixed their cells in solitude, and who have chosen that life which is free from all business, the matter now enquired into were no such difficulty; but that one thrust forward in the throng, and in whose hands the care of so many Churches was placed, and who superintended whole cities and nations; nay, the world at large,11 with so much alacrity and diligence, should be subjected to the straitening of infirmities! This it is which may most of all bewilder one who does not duly consider it. Because, even if not for himself, yet for others at least, it was necessary he should have health. “He was the best general,” says the objector. “The war was waged by him, not only against the unbeliever, but against demons, and against the devil himself. All the enemy contended with much vehemence, scattering the forces, and capturing prisoners;12 but this man was able to bring back myriads to the truth, and yet he was sick! For if,” he says, “no other injury to the cause had come of this sickness, yet this alone was sufficient to discourage and relax the faithful. If soldiers, when they see their general detained in bed, become discouraged and slack for the fight, much rather was it probable that the faithful should betray somewhat of human nature, when they saw that teacher, who had wrought so many signs, in continual sickness and suffering of body.”
7. But this is not all. These sceptics propose yet a further enquiry, by asking for what reason Timothy neither healed himself, nor was healed by his instructor, when he was reduced to this state. Whilst the Apostles raised the dead, cast out devils, and conquered death with abundant ease, they could not even restore the body of one sick man! Although with respect to other bodies, both during their own lives and after death, they manifested such extraordinary power, they did not restore a stomach that had lost its vigour! And what is more than this, Paul is not ashamed, and does not blush, after the many and great signs which he had displayed even by a simple word; yet, in writing to Timothy, to bid him take refuge in the healing virtue of wine drinking. Not that to drink wine is shameful. God forbid! For such precepts belong to heretics; but the matter of astonishment is, that he accounted it no disgrace not to be able, without this kind of assistance, to set one member right when it was disordered. Nevertheless, he was so far from being ashamed of this, that he has made it manifest to all posterity.13 You see then to what a depth we have brought down the subject, and how that which seemed to be little, is full of innumerable questions. Well then, let us proceed to the solution; for we have explored the question thus deep, in order that, having excited your attention, we might lay up the explanation in a safe storehouse.
8. But before I proceed to solve these questions, permit me to say something of the virtue of Timothy, and of the loving care of Paul. For what was ever more tender hearted than this man, who being so far distant, and encircled with so many cares, exercised so much consideration for the health of his disciple’s stomach, and wrote with exact attention about the correction of his disorder? And what could equal the virtue of Timothy? He so despised luxury, and derided the sumptuous table, as to fall into sickness from excessive austerity, and intense fasting. For that he was not naturally so infirm a person, but had overthrown the strength of his stomach by fasting and water drinking; you may hear Paul himself carefully making this plain. For he does not simply say, “use a little wine;” but having said before, “drink no longer water,” he then brings forward his counsel as to the drinking of wine. And this expression “no longer” was a manifest proof, that till then he had drunk water, and on that account was become infirm Who then would not wonder at his divine wisdom and strictness? He laid hold on the very heavens, and sprang to the highest point of virtue. And his Teacher testifies this, when he thus speaks, “I have sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord;”14 and when Paul calls him “a son,” and a “faithful and beloved son,” these words are sufficient to show that he possessed every kind of virtue. For the judgments of the saints are not given according to favour or enmity, but are free from all prejudice. Timothy would not have been so enviable, if he had been Paul’s son naturally, as he was now admirable, inasmuch as having no connection with him according to the flesh, he introduced himself by the relationship of piety into the Apostle’s adoption; preserving the marks of his spiritual wisdom15 with exactness in all things. For even as a young bullock16 linked to a bull, so he drew the yoke along with him, to whatever part of the world he went: and did not draw it the less on account of his youth, but his ready will made him emulate the labours of his teacher. And of this, Paul himself was again a witness when he said, “Let no man despise him, for he worketh the work of the Lord as I also do.”17 See you how he bears witness, that the ardour of Timothy was the very counterpart of his own?
9. Furthermore, in order that he might not be thought to have said these things out of favour or kindness, he makes his hearers themselves to be witnesses of the virtue of his son, when he says, “But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with a father, so he hath served with me in the Gospel;”18 that is, “ye have had experience of his virtue, and of his approved soul.” At the same time, however, that he had reached to this height of good works, he did not thereby grow confident; but was full of anxiety and fear, therefore also he fasted rigidly, and was not affected as many are, who, when they have kept themselves to it but ten, or perhaps twenty months,19 straightway give up the matter altogether. He, I say, was in no wise thus affected, nor did he say anything like this to himself. “What further need have I of fasting? I have gotten the mastery of myself; I have overcome my lusts; I have mortified my body; I have affrighted demons; I have driven away the devil; I have raised the dead; I have cleansed lepers; I am become terrible to the adverse powers; what further need have I of fasting, or to seek safety from that quarter?” Anything like this he did not say, he did not think of; but, in proportion as he abounded with innumerable good works, so much the more did he fear and tremble.20 And he learnt this spiritual wisdom from his preceptor; for even he, after he had been rapt into the third heaven, and transported to paradise; and had heard unutterable words; and taken part in such mysteries; and traversed the whole world, like some winged being, when he wrote to the Corinthians, said, I fear “lest by any means having preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”21 And if Paul was afraid after so many signal good works; he who was able to say, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world;”22 much more does it become us to fear; and the rather in proportion as we have stored up23 numerous good works. For then the devil becomes fiercer; then he is more savage, when he beholds us regulating our lives with carefulness! When he sees the cargo of virtue stowed together, and the lading become heavy, then he is in haste to accomplish a more grievous shipwreck! For the insignificant and abject man, although he may be supplanted and fall, brings not so great an injury to the common cause. But the man who has been standing most conspicuously as it were on some eminence of virtue, and who is one manifestly seen and known of all men, and admired of all; when he is assaulted and falls, causes great ruin and loss. Not only because he falls from this elevation but makes many of those who look up to him more negligent. And as it is in the body, some other limb may be destroyed without there being any great damage, but if the eyes be deprived of sight, or the head be seriously injured, the whole body is rendered useless; so also we must say of the saints, and of those who have performed the highest good works; when such are extinguished, when they contract any stain, they bring upon all the rest of the body a universal and, intolerable injury!
10. Timothy then, being aware of all these things, fortified himself on every side; for he knew that youth is an age of difficulty; that it is unstable; easily deceived; very apt to slip; and requires an exceedingly strong bridle. It is indeed a sort of combustible pile easily catching anything from without, and quickly kindled; and for that reason he took care to smother it on all sides; and strove toabate the flame in every way. The steed24 that was unmanageable and restive he curbed with much vehemence, until he had tamed him of his wanton tricks; until he had made him docile; and delivered him under entire control, into the hands of that reason whichis the charioteer.25 “Let the body,” saith he, “be infirm; but let not the soul be infirm; let the flesh be bridled; but let not the race of the spirit towards heaven be checked.” But moreover, one might especially wonder at the man for this, that being thus diseased, and struggling with such an infirmity, he did not become indifferent to God’s business, but flew everywhere faster than those who have sound and vigourous constitutions; now to Ephesus; now to Corinth; often to Macedonia and Italy; appearing everywhere, by land and by sea, with the Teacher, sharing in everything his struggles and continuous dangers; while the spiritual wisdom of his soul was not put to shame by his bodily infirmity. Such a thing is zeal for God! such lightness of wing does it impart I For as with those who possess well-regulated and sound constitutions, strength is of no avail, if the soul is abject, slothful, and stupid; so with those who are reduced to extreme weakness, no hurt arises from their infirmity, if the soul be noble and well awake.
11. The admonition however, and the counsel, such as it is, appears to some to give authority for drinking wine too freely. But this is not so. If indeed we closely investigate this very saying, it rather amounts to a recommendation of abstinence. For just consider that Paul did not at first, nor at the outset give this counsel. But when he saw that all strength was overthrown, then he gave it; and even then not simply, but with a certain prior limitation. He does not say merely, “Use wine,” but “a little” wine; not because Timothy needed this admonition and advice, but because we need it. On this account, in writing to him, he prescribes the measure and limit of wine-drinking for us; bidding him drink just so much as would correct disorder; as would bring health to the body, but not another disease. For the immoderate drinking of wine produces not fewer diseases of body and of soul, than much drinking of water, but many more, and more severe; bringing in as it does upon the mind the war of the passions, and a tempest of perverse thoughts, besides reducing the firmness of the body to a relaxed and flaccid condition. For the nature of land that is long disturbed by a superabundance of water, is not thereby so much dissolved, as the force of the human frame is enfeebled, relaxed, and reduced to a state of exhaustion, by the continual swilling of wine. Let us guard then against a want of moderation on either side, and let us take care of the health of the body, at the same time that we prune away its luxurious propensities. For wine was given us of God, not that we might be drunken, but that we might be sober; that we might be glad, not that we get ourselves pain. “Wine,” it says, “maketh glad the heart of man,”26 but thou makest it matter for sadness; since those who are inebriated are sullen beyond measure, and great darkness over-spreads their thoughts. It is the best medicine, when it has the best moderation to direct it. The passage before us is useful also against heretics, who speak evil of God’s creatures; for if it had been among the number of things forbidden, Paul would not have permitted it, nor would have said it was to be used. And not only against the heretics, but against the simple ones among our brethren, who when they see any persons disgracing themselves from drunkenness, instead of reproving such, blame the fruit given them by God, and say, “Let there be no wine.” We should say then in answer to such, “Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine maketh not drunkenness; but intemperance produceth it. Do not accuse that which is the workmanship of God, but accuse the madness of a fellow mortal. But thou, while omitting to reprove and correct the sinner, treatest thy Benefactor with contempt!”
12. When, therefore, we hear men saying such things, we should stop their mouths; for it is not the use of Wine, but the want of moderation which produces drunkenness, Drunkenness! that root of all evils. Wine was given to restore the body’s weakness, not to overturn the soul’s strength; to remove the sickness of the flesh, not to destroy the health of the spirit. Do not then, by using the gift of God immoderately, afford a handle to the foolish and the impudent. For what is a more wretched thing than drunkenness! The drunken man is a living corpse. Drunkenness is a demon self-chosen, a disease without excuse, an overthrow that admits of no apology; a common shame to our kind. The drunken man is not only useless in our assemblies; not only in public and private affairs; but the bare sight of him is the most disgusting of all things, his breath being stench. The belchings, and gapings, and speech of the intoxicated, are at once unpleasant and offensive, and are utterly abhorrent to those who see and converse with them; and the crown of these evils is, that this disease makes heaven inaccessible to drunkards, and does not suffer them to win eternal blessedness: for besides the shame attending those who labour under this disease here, a grievous punishment is also awaiting them there! Let us cut off then this evil habit, and let us hear Paul saying, “Use a little wine.” For even this little he permits him on account of his infirmity; so that if infirmity had not troubled him, he would not have forced his disciple to allow himself even a small quantity, since it is fitting that we should always mete out even the needful meat and drink, which are given us, by occasions and necessities; and by no means go beyond our need, nor do anything unmeaningly and to no purpose.
13. But since we have now learnt the tender care of Paul, and the virtue of Timothy, come and let us, in the next place, turn our discourse to the actual solution of those questions. What then are the questions? For it is necessary again to mention them, that the solution of them may be plainer. For what reason then did God permit that such a saint, and one entrusted with the management of so many matters, should fall into a state of disease; and that neither Timothy himself nor his teacher had strength to correct the disorder, but needed that assistance which was to be had by drinking wine? Such, indeed, were the questions proposed. But it is needful to bring forward a precise solution; so that if any should fall not only into the like sickness and disease, but into poverty, and hunger, and bonds, and torments, and discomfitures, and calumnies, and into all those evils which belong to the present life, although they were great and wonderful saints, you may still be able to find, even for their case, in the things which are to-day to be advanced, an exact and very clear reply to those who are disposed to find fault. For ye have heard many asking such questions, as, “Why ever is it that such an one, a moderate and meek man, comes to be dragged daily before the seat of judgment by another who is lawless and wicked, and to suffer evils without number, and God permits this? For what reason again was another man, upon false accusation, unjustly put to death?” “Such a man,” says the objector, “was drowned; another was thrown down a precipice; and we might speak of many saints, as well in our own days as in the days of our forefathers, who have suffered divers and chequered tribulations.” To the end, therefore, that we may see the reason of these things, and that we ourselves may not be disturbed, nor overlook the case of others who thus meet with a stumbling-block, we should attend with earnest heed to the reasons now about to be advanced.