Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

John Chrysostom, Four discourses, chiefly on the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus (1869) Discourse 4. pp.90-110.



1. To-day it is requisite that we should explain the rest of the parable concerning Lazarus. Perhaps you may suppose that we have explained the whole of it; but I would not avail myself of any want of knowledge on your part, in order to deceive; nor would I give up the task, before I can go away with the assurance that I have explored all, as far as light is given me: as the husbandman, when he gathers the fruit of the vine, ceases not until he has cut off every little bunch. Since, therefore, I now perceive, as if beneath the leaves, some thoughts still hidden in these words, permit me to gather up also these, using the mind as a sickle. A vine being entirely stripped of fruit stands for the present barren, having leaves only. With respect to the spiritual vine of the sacred Scriptures it is not so; but when we have gathered all the fruit that is to be seen, more still remains. Thus many also before us have spoken on this subject; many perhaps after us will speak on it; but no one will be able to exhaust the whole store of wealth. For such is the nature of this abundance, that the more deeply you dig down, the more plentifully divine instruction wells forth: it is a fountain never failing. |91 

In the last assembly we ought to have discharged this debt owing to you, but we did not think it right to pass by the memory of the good deeds of Saint Babylas,1 and the two holy martyrs who followed him. Therefore, we put off the remainder of this subject, reserving the completion of the parable till to-day. Since, then, we have rendered to the fathers their praise, not according to their worth, but according to our ability; permit us now to deliver the remainder of this subject. And be not weary until we have arrived at the end, talcing up our discourse from the point at which we lately left off. Where then did we leave the narrative? It was at the point where we came to the great chasm between the just and the unjust. For, when the rich man said, "Send Lazarus," Abraham answered him, "A great gulf is fixed between us and you: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence," (Luke xvi. 26.) We also showed by many arguments that it is necessary to place our hope of safety, according to the grace of God, in our own right condition, and not trust in fathers or grandfathers, or great-grandfathers, or in relations, and friends, and associates, and neighbours; for "no man can by any means redeem his brother," (Ps. xlviii. 8.) But how much soever they who depart |92 this life in company with sinners, beseech and supplicate on their behalf, all that they say will be vain and useless. For again, the five virgins begged from their companions a supply of oil, and did not obtain it; he also who hid his talent in the earth, though he made many excuses, still was condemned. They, too, who fed not the Lord when He was hungry, nor gave Him drink when thirsting ----they, hoping to find refuge in the plea of ignorance, did not gain any pardon or excuse. Others there are who are unable to say a word, as he who appeared at the feast clad in vile garments, being charged with the fault, was speechless. And not this man only, but also another who was unforgiving to his neighbour, of whom he demanded the hundred pence, who afterwards, when charged by his lord with cruelty and inhumanity, had nothing to reply. From these instances it is plain that nothing can help us there, if we have not the good deeds; but whether we use prayers and entreaties, or whether we be silent, the sentence of punishment and penalty will equally be uttered against us. Hear then how this man, having made request to Abraham for two things, failed to gain either of them. For, first he made supplication for himself, when he said, "Send Lazarus;" next, not for himself, but for his brethren, but he obtained neither request. If the first request was impossible, much more was the second----that on behalf of his brethren. However, if it seem good, let us carefully mark the very words themselves. For if when the magistrate causes an offender to be brought into the public court, summons officers of justice, and proceeds with the trial, all hasten with eagerness to hear what questions the judge may put, and what replies the |93 accused may make,----much more ought we to give attention in this case to what this criminal,----I mean, the rich man, requests, and what the righteous judge, by the mouth of Abraham, replies. For it was not the patriarch that was judging the case, even though he uttered the words; but, as in our earthly courts, when robbers or murderers are under accusation, the law requires that they should stand at a distance and out of sight of the judge; it enjoins that they should not hear the sound of the judge's voice, in this manner also marking their dishonour; but a messenger conveys the questions of the judge and the replies of the accused.2 The same thing took place then. The condemned man heard not the voice of God himself speaking to him; but Abraham acted as a deputy, conveying the words of the judge to the criminal. For he did not speak that which he said on his own authority, but he stated the divine laws to the rich man, and uttered the decisions given him from on high. And for this reason the rich man had nothing to reply.

2. Let us, therefore, carefully attend to that which is said. For I am purposely proceeding slowly through this parable: though this be the fourth day, I do not leave the subject; for I see great benefit arising from this examination, both to the rich and to the poor, and to those who are troubled because of the prosperity of the wicked and the poverty and tribulation of the just. For, in general, nothing is so great a stumbling-block and causes so much religious doubt to many people, as the fact that the rich who live in sin may enjoy great prosperity, while the just, |94 who live virtuously, are reduced to extreme poverty, and endure numberless other things even worse than poverty.

But this parable is sufficient to afford a remedy to make the wealthy more wise, to console the poor; it teaches the former not to be high-minded; it comforts the poor with respect to their present condition; it forbids the former to boast if, while living wickedly, they pay no penalty in this life, since a severe examination awaits them in the next world; it persuades the latter not to be troubled on account of the prosperity of others, and not to imagine that our affairs are not under the control of Providence, even if the just suffer ills here, while the wicked and depraved enjoy continual prosperity. For both will hereafter receive their desert; the former the crown which is the reward of patience and endurance, the latter the punishments and penalties which belong to sin. Let both rich and poor inscribe this parable,----the rich on the walls of their houses, the poor on the walls of their mind; and should it ever by the growth of forgetfulness be obscured, renew it completely by means of fresh recollection. Or rather, let the rich also, instead of in their houses, write it in their mind, and constantly bear it about; and let it be their instructor and the groundwork of all their philosophy. For if we have this lastingly written in our mind, neither the delights of the present life will be able to elate us, nor its sorrows to humiliate or overthrow us; but we shall be affected by both these kinds of experience, only as we are by pictures painted on the wall. For when looking at a wall we see portrayed a rich man or a poor, we neither envy the one |95 nor despise the other; because that which we look at is an image only and not reality. Thus, also, if we learn the real nature of riches and poverty, of honour and dishonour; and of all other things both gloomy and bright, we shall be freed from the trouble which arises from each of these classes of things. For they all are more deceptive than a shadow; and neither will a brilliant and honourable position puff- up a lofty and noble soul, nor a lowly and despised position be able to trouble him.

However, it is time now for us to consider the words of the rich man: "I ask thee, father"----that is, I beseech, I beg, I supplicate thee----"that thou wouldest send Lazarus to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment," (Luke xvi. 27, 28.) Since he failed to gain that which he sought for himself, he made supplication for others. Mark how benevolent and mild he becomes when under punishment. He who despised Lazarus when present, now has regard for others who are absent: he who passed by one who was placed before his eyes, is mindful of those whom he does not see, and he entreats with great earnestness and zeal that warning should be given to them, that they might escape the evils about to overtake them. And he begs that Lazarus should be sent to his father's house,----to the place which had been to Lazarus as an arena, the place where his virtue had been tested. Let them see him crowned, he says, who have seen him contending; let the witnesses of his poverty and hunger, of his innumerable woes, be also witnesses of his honour, his transfiguration, his complete glory; that, |96 being taught by both sights, they may learn that our interests are not bounded by this present life; that they may be prepared beforehand, so as to be able to escape this punishment and ruin. What does Abraham reply? "They have Moses and the prophets," he saith; "let them hear,them." Thou hast not, he implies, so much care for thy brethren as God has, who made them: He has given them many teachers, advisers, and counsellors. What, then, does the rich man say? "Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they would be persuaded."

The same thing is often said now. Where are now those who say, "Who has come from thence? Who ever rose from the dead? Who can tell us what is in Hades?" How many things of this kind the rich man used to say within himself when he was living luxuriously! He did not simply request that some one should rise from the dead; but since when he heard the Scriptures he had been accustomed to despise them, to deride, to regard the things said as myths; from that which he himself had felt, he supposed that the same would be felt by his brothers. "They," he would say, "are sceptical in the same way; but if one should arise from the dead, him they will not disbelieve nor deride, but will rather give heed to his words."

What, then, does Abraham reply? "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they hear though one rose from the dead," (Luke xvi. 31.) And that this is true----that he who listens not to the Scriptures, will not listen even to those who rise from the dead----of this the Jews afford an instance, who, since they did not |97 listen to Moses and their own prophets, did not believe even when they saw the dead arise; but at the very time of the event, tried to kill the risen Lazarus; and on another occasion, at the crucifixion, vehemently opposed the apostles even while many dead were rising.

3. But that you may be assured for another reason that the teaching of the apostles is more convincing than that of the restored to life, consider this----that a dead man is altogether a servant, but the things which the Scriptures declare are uttered by the Lord himself; so that though one should rise from the dead, though an angel should descend from heaven, the Scriptures would still be the surest testimony. For the Ruler of angels and the Lord of the dead and of the living has Himself given the written law. Again, that they who wish for dead men to come back, wish for a superfluous thing, is proved, in addition to that which has been said, by comparing the case of our own courts. Gehenna does not seem to exist to those who believe not. To the faithful it is plain and manifest, but still to the unbelieving it does not seem to exist. There is a court of judgment in which we hear each day that such a one is punished, another is mulcted of property, another is condemned to the mines, another to be burnt, another to be put to death in some other way. Notwithstanding that they hear all this, the evil, the wicked and abandoned are not made wise; often, indeed, many such having been captured, and escaping punishment, break out of prison, and running away, again return to the same courses, and commit even greater crimes than before.

Let us not, therefore, wish to hear those things from |98 the dead which the Scriptures each day teach us, and much more clearly. For if God knew this; namely, that if certain should rise from the dead, they would benefit the living, He would not have overlooked it; He who has formed all things for our good would not have neglected this benefit. Again, if the dead arose continually to declare to us all that takes place there, even this phenomenon would in time also be disregarded; for the tempter could, with the greatest ease, adapt his wicked teaching to such a state of affairs. He would be able often to feign appearances, or by preparing his ministers to feign death and burial, and exhibiting them as having: risen from the dead, by these means he would introduce into the minds of those whom he misleads everything that he wished them to believe. For even now, when nothing of that kind takes place, the forms of the departed often have appeared in dreams, and have deceived and ruined many. Much more if such a state of things, namely, that many returned from the dead, existed, that subtle spirit would involve many in his wiles, and introduce great deception into our life. Therefore God has closed the portals, and does not permit any of those who have departed to return to tell us the things that take place there; so that the tempter cannot take advantage of such a state of things, and introduce all his deceit. For, also, when there were prophets Satan raised up false prophets, and when apostles, he raised up false apostles; even when Christ appeared, he raised up false Christs; and whenever sound doctrine has been delivered, he has introduced corrupt doctrine, sowing tares among the wheat. |99 So also, if this state of things had existed, he would have contrived to cause deception by his own instruments----not really raising the dead, but by sorceries and guile misleading the senses of beholders, or even, as I said before, preparing those who should simulate death, thus turning upside down and confusing all things. But God, foreseeing all these things, has prevented such an attempt, and out of regard for us, has not permitted any one at any time to come from thence to relate to living men the things that take place there. He has taught us to regard the Holy Scriptures as more worthy of trust than everything else. For He has made certain things more clear to us than they would have been made by the resurrection of the dead; He has instructed the whole world; He has driven away error, and brought in the truth; He has, by the instrumentality of fishermen and men of no reputation, procured all these benefits, and afforded to us on all sides sufficient proofs of His own providence. Therefore let us not imagine that our affairs are bounded by the present life; but let us be assured that there will be a scrutiny, and a recompense or a retribution for all that has happened here. This fact is so clear and plain to all, that both Jews and Greeks, even heretics, agree concerning it; yea, all men of every class. For if also all men do not act as wisely as they ought, with regard to the resurrection, still all agree with respect to the judgment, and future punishment and trial. All agree that there is a recompense hereafter for all the things that have happened here. For if this were not the case, why did God stretch out such a heaven and spread the earth beneath, and make the expanse of the sea, and diffuse |100 the air? Why did He display such foresight, if He did not intend to be concerned in our affairs even to the end?

4. Do you not see many who, after living a virtuous life, having suffered innumerable ills, have departed hence without receiving any good? Others, again, who have displayed every kind of evil disposition, who have plundered the possessions of others, have robbed and oppressed widows and orphans, these have departed this life after enjoying wealth and luxury and endless other good things, and have suffered no misfortune whatever. When, therefore, do the former receive the reward of their virtue,----when do the latter pay the penalty of their wickedness, if our affairs are limited by the present life? For that, if there be a God----as there assuredly is----He is a just God, every one will allow; and that, if He is just, He will reward these two classes according to their deserts----this also will be granted. But if He intends to render to each class their desert, whereas in this life neither class received it ----neither the one, the punishment of their sin, nor the other, the reward of their virtue----it is manifest that an opportunity is reserved when each will receive their appropriate recompense.

And for what purpose has God put within our mind a judge so ever-watchful and vigilant,----I mean conscience? It is impossible that any judge among men should be so indefatigable as our conscience is. For judges in worldly affairs are sometimes corrupted by money, or weakened by flattery, or dissemble because of fear; and many other things there are that destroy the rectitude of their decision; but the judgment-seat of conscience never yields to any of these influences; but whether you offer money, or |101 flatter, or threaten, or do any other such thing, it utters still an impartial sentence against the schemes of sinners; and whosoever commits iniquity, himself condemns himself, even though no one else should accuse him. And not once, nor twice, but even frequently, and through one's whole life, it continues to do the same; though much time may have intervened, it never forgets what has happened. At the moment when sin is committed, and before its commission, and after its commission, conscience constitutes itself our accuser; but chiefly after the commission. For at the time of committing the sin, being intoxicated by the pleasure, we are not so sensitive; but when the affair is passed, and has reached its conclusion, then, especially when all the pleasure is exhausted, the sharp sting of repentance is felt. And contrary to that which happens to women in travail, who before the birth have great and unbearable suffering, who feel the pangs of labour causing intense pain, but afterwards have relief, since the pain ceases with the birth of the infant; in the case we are considering, it is not so. For as long as we conceive and have in our mind corrupt designs, we are glad and rejoice; but when we have brought forth this evil offspring, sin, then we see the baseness of that which is produced and are pained; then are we in greater misery than women in travail. Wherefore do not, I beseech you, entertain any corrupt desire, especially the beginning of such a desire. But if we have admitted any such desire, let us quench the beginnings of it; and, even if we have been negligent beyond this, let us destroy the sin which has proceeded to deeds, by confession, and tears, and self-condemnation. |102 Nothing is so great an antidote to sin as condemnation and repudiation of it with penitence and tears. Condemning thy own sin, thou dost put off its yoke. Who is it that speaks thus? God, the Judge himself. "Acknowledge first thy sin, that thou mayest be justified," (Isa. xliii. 26, LXX.) Why are you ashamed and blush to confess your sin? Why speak of it to man, who may blame you? Why confess it to your fellow-servant, who may cause you shame? Rather show it to the Master, to Him who cares for you, who is kindly-disposed; show the wound to the Physician.3

And even if you do not confess, He is not ignorant of the deed, who knew it before it was committed. Why then do you not speak of it? Does the transgression become heavier by the confession?----nay, it becomes lighter and less troublesome. And it is for this reason that He would have you confess, not that you should be punished, but that you should be forgiven; not that He may learn thy sin, (how could this be, since He has seen it,) but that you may learn what favour He bestows. He wishes you to learn the greatness of His grace, that you may praise Him perfectly, that you may be slower to sin, that you may be quicker to virtue. And if you do not confess the greatness of the need, you will not understand the exceeding magnitude of His grace. I do not oblige you, He saith, to come into the midst of the assembly before a throng of witnesses; declare the sin in secret to Me only, that I may heal the sore and remove the pain. Therefore it is that He has placed within us a conscience |103 more faithful than a father. For a father having warned his son once, or twice, or three times, or perhaps, ten times, when he sees him remaining uncorrected, publicly renounces him and dismisses him from the house, and severs the tie of relationship; but not so does conscience act. For if once, or twice, or thrice, or a thousand times it speaks, and you obey not, it will speak again, and will not cease until the latest breath; and both in the house and in the street, at table and in the market, and on the road, often even in dreams, it places before us the image and appearance of our sins.

5. Behold the wisdom of God! He has caused the reproof of conscience not to be unceasing, (for had we been constantly accused, we could not have endured the burden,) nor has He made it so weak as to cease after a first or second warning. For if we felt self-condemnation every day and every hour, we should have been overcome by sorrow. If, again, conscience having warned us once or twice, then ceased to rebuke, we should not have reaped much benefit. Therefore He has caused the warning to be lasting, but not unceasing: it is lasting, that we may not fall into negligence, but that always to the end of our life, being warned, we may be watchful. Again, the warning is not unceasing, nor made cumulative, in order that we may not sink under it, but that we may be refreshed by seasons of repose and other consolations. Thus complete freedom from mental pain would be ruinous to sinners; it would produce in us utter insensibility; while, on the other hand, to feel this pain unceasingly and without measure would be even more injurious. For excess of sorrow, being often strong enough |104 to overthrow man's natural powers of mind, overwhelms the soul, and causes our good qualities to be wholly unserviceable. For this reason God has caused the convictions of conscience to be imposed on us only at intervals, these convictions being exceedingly severe, and often piercing the sinner more sharply than a goad. Not only at the time when we ourselves have sinned, but also when others have committed the same acts, conscience is roused, and with great vehemence accuses us. The fornicator, the adulturer, or the thief, not only when he himself is accused, but when he hears that others are accused of having dared the same sins, he feels as if he himself were punished; he is reminded of his own sin by the blame thrown upon others; and though it is another that is accused, he himself, without being blamed feels the charge, since he has dared to do the same things. In the same way, also, with regard to good deeds, when others are praised and honoured, those who have accomplished the same things rejoice with them, as though they were praised no less than the others. What, therefore, can be more miserable than the case of the sinner who, as often as others are accused, himself feels abashed? What, also, is more blessed than the lot of him who, living virtuously, whenever others are praised, himself feels joy and gladness, being reminded of his own good deeds by the praise bestowed upon others? These things are the work of God's wisdom; they are instances of His exceeding providence. The warning of conscience is a divine anchor, not permitting us to be altogether wrecked in the abyss of iniquity.

Not only at the time of committing the sin, but after |105 long periods of years can conscience remind us of old faults. Of this I shall bring clear proof from the Scriptures themselves.

The brethren of Joseph one day sold him, without having any charge to bring against him, except that he foresaw in dreams his coming honour foreshadowed to him: for "I saw," said he, "your sheaves making obeisance to my sheaf," (Gen. xxxvii. 6.) Indeed, for this very thing they ought to have the more cared for him, for he was to be the crown of the whole family, and the glory of all his race. Such, however, is envy; it makes war against its own honour; and an envious man would rather suffer a thousand ills than see his neighbour renowned, even though a share of the renown were to fall to himself. Than this what can be more wretched? This kind of feeling possessed the brethren of Joseph. Seeing him at a distance, coming to bring them provisions, they said one to another, "Come, let us kill him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams," (Gen. xxxvii. 20.) If they had no regard for him as a brother, nor felt the bond of nature, they ought to have had regard to the very aid that he brought, and to the manner of his service, in coming to supply them with sustenance. But mark how they unwittingly uttered a prophecy: "Come," said they, "let us kill him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams." If they had not plotted against him and concocted treachery, and planned that shameless scheme, they would not have experienced the full intent of those dreams. For it was not likely that he, though meeting with no ill-fortune, would rise as high as the throne of Egypt; yet, by means of these difficulties and hindrances, |106 he attained such a height of splendour. For if they had not conspired against him, they would not have sold him into Egypt; if they had not sold him into Egypt, the mistress would not have been enamoured of him; if the mistress had not been enamoured of him, he would not have been cast into prison, he would not have interpreted the dreams, he would not have been made ruler; if he had not been made ruler, the brethren would not have come to buy corn, nor have bowed down before him. Thus, since they were ready to kill him, for this very cause chiefly did they feel the full meaning of the dreams. What then? Were they the procurers of all his future good, and the cause of his glory? By no means; they were ready to expose him to death, or to sorrow, or to slavery----to the uttermost ills. But the overruling God used the wickedness of the conspirators for the trial and approval of him who was sold and betrayed.

6. In order that this result may not be thought to arise from any casual coincidence or accidental revolution of things, God, by means of the very men who opposed it, brought to pass the very result which they opposed, using His enemies for the approval of His servants, in order that you may learn, that what God has willed no one will hinder, and that none will turn aside His high hand; in order that whenever you are plotted against, you may not stumble or be downcast, but be enabled to know that the plot will result in good in the end, if only you bear your lot well.

Behold, therefore, in this instance, how envy produced a royal possession; how jealousy procured for its victim |107 a crown, and gained him a throne; those who plotted against him, themselves bore him forward to the greatness of his power. He who was plotted against governed, they who plotted served; he received homage, they paid homage. Whensoever, therefore, ills, frequent and accumulated, come upon you, be not troubled nor downcast, but abide till the end. The end will turn out in every way worthy of the beneficence of God, if only you bear thankfully the things that in the meantime befall you.

He who had these visions, being in extreme danger, who was sold by his brethren, injured by his mistress, and again thrown into prison,----he did not say within himself, "What is all this? The visions then are all delusion! I am an exile from my country and deprived of freedom; because of my God, I have not yielded to the seductions of my mistress; because of temperance and virtue, I am punished, and He has not even in this pass defended me, nor stretched forth. His hand, but has suffered me to be delivered to constant and increasing bondage. After the pit, slavery befell me; after slavery, treachery; after treachery, calumny; after calumny, a prison." But none of these things moved him; he remained steadfast in his hope, being confident that none of the things that had been promised would ever fail.

God was, indeed, able to fulfil everything on the very same day; but in order to display His own might and the faith of His servants, he permitted a long time to intervene, and many hindrances to arise, so that you may understand His power, by His fulfilling the promises at the very time when you would give way to despair, and that you may |108 see the patience and faith of His servants, by their not falling away from their expectation of good in the very midst of calamities.

However, as I said, the patriarchs came again, famine as an armed soldier driving them by force, and urging them to the presence of Joseph, the governor; and they wished to buy corn. What, then, did he say to them? "Ye are spies." They then said within themselves, "What is this! we came to get food, and we have endangered our life!" Yes, justly!----since he also came to you bringing food, and ye put him in danger of his life. And he then endured it beeause of his integrity; ye now are suffering because of hypocrisy. He was not, however, their enemy; he put on the appearance of hostility, that he might learn accurately the condition of the family. For since they had been wicked and heartless in his own case, not seeing Benjamin with them, he feared for the child, lest he had been also a brother in suffering. He commands that some one of them should be bound and left there; and that all the rest taking their corn should depart, threatening them with death if they should not bring back their other brother.

Since, then, this had happened and he had said, "Leave one here, and bring back the other brother, or ye shall die," what did they say one to another? "Verily we were guilty concerning our brother when he besought us." Do you observe after how long time they remember that crime? They then said to their father, "An evil beast hath devoured him," (Gen. xxxvii. 33.) Now, when Joseph himself is present and listening, they bewail their crime. What can be more extraordinary than this? |109 Without a tribunal, there is conviction; without accusation, an apology; a proof without testimony; the very men who wrought the deed condemn themselves, and publish abroad that which was done in secret! Who had persuaded them, or obliged them, to expose in public the things dared so long before? Is it not plain that conscience, the inexorable judge, had been constantly disturbing their thoughts and troubling their soul? He also who had been murderously treated, sat there silently judging them; and while no one brought any charge against them, they themselves passed sentence upon themselves.

They spake thus among themselves: another also said in excuse: "Spake I not to you saying, Do not sin against the child, nor do him any harm, for he is our brother? and, behold, now his blood is required at our hands," (Gen. xlii. 22, loosely quoted.) Though there was no one who spoke thus, or said anything concerning the crime, or of murder; though the victim himself, sitting in their presence, inquired about no such thing, but rather was asking about the other brother; their conscience, taking advantage of the opportunity, arose and took possession of their mind, and when no person accused them, obliged them to confess their deeds.

Such things we ourselves often suffer, when the sins are long gone by. When we are searched by woe or misfortune, we call to mind our former ill-doings.

7. Knowing, therefore, all these things, whenever we have done any wrong, let us not wait for calamity or difficulty, for danger and chains; but let us each hour of the day set up for ourselves this tribunal, and let us pass |110 judgment against ourselves, and endeavour in every way to make our peace with God. Let us not doubt about the resurrection and future judgment, nor be hindered by what others say; but by all means, according to the truths we have learnt, let us refute them. For if we were not to render account of all we have done, God would not have set up such a tribunal within us. But this also is a proof of His kindness. For since He will hereafter require from us an account of our sins, He has placed this incorruptible judge within us, that by condemning us for our sins now and making us wiser, He may rescue us from the future judgment. This also St Paul saith: "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged by the Lord," (1 Cor. xi. 31.) In order, therefore, that we may not be punished then, nor pay the penalty then, let each of us betake himself to conscience; and unrolling his past life, and examining with care all his faults, let him condemn the soul that wrought such deeds; let him chastise his thoughts; let him be afflicted; let him be straitened in his own mind; let him require a penalty from himself for his sins, by self-condemnation, by thorough penitence, by tears, by confession, by fasting and alms-giving, by temperance and love. Let us do this that by all means in our power we may be able, with all confidence, to attain the future kingdom, which may it be the lot of us all to gain by the grace and goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father be glory, and also to the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.


[Footnotes moved to the end and numbered]

1. * τοῦ μακαρίου Βαβύλα. Babylas was a bishop of Antioch, martyred under the emperor Decius. An exaggerated story was told of some transaction between Babylas and a Roman emperor, probably Philip, successor of Gordian. The remains of the bishop, placed in a splendid building in the famous grove of Daphne, but removed from thence to Antioch by Julian, were supposed to have miraculous power. The two martyrs were named Juventinus and Maximinus; they were beheaded by order of Julian.

2. * See Introduction, p. vi.

3. * Probably one of the passages alluded to by Hooker, Ecc. Pol. vi. 4, (16.)

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2006. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.

Greek text is rendered using unicode.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts