The World's Great Sermons, Volume I

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_The World's Great Sermons_



_By Grenville Kleiser_

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Compiled By


Formerly of Yale Divinity School Faculty;
Author of "How to Speak in Public," Etc.

With Assistance from Many of the Foremost Living Preachers and Other

Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology in Yale University



Copyright, 1908, By Funk & Wagnalls Company

_Printed in the United States of America_


The aim in preparing this work has been to bring together the best
examples of the products of the pulpit through the Christian centuries,
and to present these masterpieces in attractive and convenient form. It
is believed that they will be found valuable as instruction to ministers
of to-day. They should also be helpful to others who, tho not preachers,
yet seek reading of this kind for the upbuilding of personal character
and for strengthening their Christian faith.

The sermons have been chosen in some cases for their literary and
rhetorical excellences, but in every case for their helpfulness in
solving some of the problems of Christian living. No two persons are
likely to agree upon "the best" of anything, and readers will probably
wish in particular instances that some other clergymen or sermons had
been included. It is confidently believed, however, that the list here
given is fairly representative of the preaching that characterized the
age to which each sermon respectively belongs.

While some of the sermons of the early centuries may not seem exactly
fitted to modern needs, it is thought that those presented will repay
careful perusal, since they each contain a distinct message for later
generations. Moreover, a comparison extending over the whole field of
sermonic literature, such as the preacher may make with this collection
before him, should prove most valuable as showing what progress and
changes have come over homiletic matter and methods. Such a comparison
should in fact throw much light on the spirit and conditions of various
homiletic periods.

In choosing sermons by living preachers considerable difficulty has been
found, not only in deciding upon sermons, but upon preachers. The list
might have been extended indefinitely. Whenever possible the preacher,
when living, has himself been consulted as to what he considered his
most representative sermon.

Thanks are due, and are hereby acknowledged, to numerous clergymen,
publishers, librarians, and others who have generously assisted the
compiler in this undertaking. Most grateful acknowledgment is also made
to the Rev. Epiphanius Wilson and the Rev. W.C. Stiles for valuable
editorial assistance.


_New York City, October, 1908._


Collections of sermons by noted preachers of different periods are not
an altogether uncommon contribution to literature. Italy, Germany,
Holland, France, Great Britain and the United States have in this way
furnished copious illustrations of the gifts of their illustrious
preachers. Such treasures are found in the Latin and even in the Greek
Church. Protestant communions especially, in line with the supreme
significance which they attach to the work of the pulpit, have thus
sought to magnify the calling and to perpetuate the memory and the
influence of their distinguished sons. Still more comprehensive attempts
have been made to collate the products of representative preachers in
different Protestant communions, and thus to bring into prominence
various types of sermonic literature. It is in this way that the
Christian world has come to know its pulpit princes and to value their

The collection contained in the volumes before us is, however, more
varied and comprehensive, reaching as it does from the fourth to the
twentieth century, than any collection known to the writer. In the
selection Professor Kleiser has brought to his task a personal knowledge
of homiletic literature that is the product of much observation and
study during many years, and an enthusiasm for his work that has been
fostered by close intercourse in professional service with preachers and
theological students. He has had the assistance also of men whose
acquaintance with homiletic literature is very extensive, whose critical
judgments are sound and reliable and who may be regarded as experts in
this branch of knowledge. These volumes, therefore, may be accepted as a
judiciously selected collection of sermons by many of the most notable
preachers of the ancient and modern Christian world. Their value as
illustrating varieties of gift, diversities of method, racial, national
and ecclesiastical peculiarities, and above all progress in the science
and art of preaching, may well be recognized even by a generation that
is likely to regard anything that is more than twenty-four hours old as


_Yale University, New Haven, Conn., October, 1908._





BASIL (329-379).
The Creation of the World

CHRYSOSTOM (347-407).
Excessive Grief at the Death of Friends

AUGUSTINE (354-430).
The Recovery of Sight by the Blind

WYCLIF (1324-1384).
Christ's Real Body Not in the Eucharist

SAVONAROLA (1452-1498).
The Ascension of Christ

LUTHER (1483-1546).
The Method and Fruits of Justification

LATIMER (1485-1555).
On Christian Love

MELANCHTHON (1497-1560).
The Safety of the Virtuous

KNOX (1505-1572).
The First Temptation of Christ

CALVIN (1509-1564).
Enduring Persecution for Christ




Basil, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and styled "The Great," was the
founder of Eastern monasticism, defender of the Nicene doctrines and
doctor of the Church. He was born at Caesarea in 329, and was thoroughly
educated in all that a teacher like Libanius could impart at Rome, and
Himerius at Constantinople. Returning home, he plunged into the
pleasures of social life, but was induced by his sister to visit the
hermits of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Attracted during his travels to
the religious life, he secluded himself in a lonely spot in inclement

During his monastic life of seven years (357-364) he formulated the
monastic rule still observed by Eastern monks. Ordained presbyter in
364, he labored in founding religious institutions of various kinds. He
attracted notice by his growing Nicene predilections, and was elected
bishop of his native town (370) and virtual primate of Asia Minor. His
conduct in dealing with the Arians was uncompromising yet conciliating.
As a theologian he stands next to his brother Gregory and to Athanasius,
but he excels them both in the literary charm and variety of his Greek
style. He died in 379.



_The earth was without form and void._--Gen. i, 2.

In the few words which have occupied us this morning we have found such
a depth of thought that we despair of penetrating farther. If such is
the forecourt of the sanctuary, if the portico of the temple is so grand
and magnificent, if the splendor of its beauty thus dazzles the eyes of
the soul, what will be the holy of holies? Who will dare to try to gain
access to the innermost shrine? Who will look into its secrets? To gaze
into it is indeed forbidden us, and language is powerless to express
what the mind conceives.

However, since there are rewards, and most desirable ones, reserved by
the just Judge for the intention alone of doing good, do not let us
hesitate to continue our researches. Altho we may not attain to the
truth, if, with the help of the Spirit, we do not fall away from the
meaning of Holy Scripture, we shall not deserve to be rejected, and with
the help of grace, we shall contribute to the edification of the Church
of God.

"The earth," says Holy Scripture, "was without form and void"--_i.e._,
invisible and unfinished. The heavens and the earth were created
together. How, then, is it that the heavens are perfect whilst the earth
is still unformed and incomplete? In one word, what was the unfinished
condition of the earth and for what reason was it invisible? The
fertility of the earth is its perfect finishing; growth of all kinds of
plants, the up-springing of tall trees, both productive and unfruitful,
flowers' sweet scents and fair colors, and all that which, a little
later, at the voice of God came forth from the earth to beautify her,
their universal mother.

As nothing of all this yet existed, Scripture is right in calling the
earth "without form." We could also say of the heavens that they were
still imperfect and had not received their natural adornment, since at
that time they did not shine with the glory of the sun and of the moon,
and were not crowned by the choirs of the stars. These bodies were not
yet created. Thus you will not diverge from the truth in saying that the
heavens also were "without form." The earth was invisible for two
reasons: it may be because man, the spectator, did not yet exist, or
because, being submerged under the waters which overflowed the surface,
it could not be seen, since the waters had not yet been gathered
together into their own places, where God afterward collected them and
gave them the name of sea.

What is invisible? First of all, that which our fleshly eye can not
perceive--our mind, for example; then that which, visible in its nature,
is hidden by some body which conceals it, like iron in the depths of the
earth. It is in this sense that the earth, in that it was hidden under
the waters, was still invisible. However, as light did not yet exist,
and as the earth lay in darkness because of the obscurity of the air
above it, it should not astonish us that for this reason Scripture calls
it "invisible."

But the corrupters of the truth, who, incapable of submitting their
reason to Holy Scripture, distort at will the meaning of the Holy
Scriptures, pretend that these words mean matter. For it is matter, they
say, which from its nature is without form and invisible--being by the
conditions of its existence without quality and without form and figure.
The Artificer submitting it to the working of His wisdom clothed it with
a form, organized it, and thus gave being to the visible world.

If the matter is uncreated, it has a claim to the same honors as God,
since it must be of equal rank with Him. Is this not the summit of
wickedness that utter chaos, without quality, without form or shape,
ugliness without configuration, to use their own expression, should
enjoy the same prerogatives as He who is wisdom, power, and beauty
itself, the Creator and the Demiurge of the universe enjoys? This is
not all. If the matter is so great as to be capable of being acted on by
the whole wisdom of God, it would in a way raise its hypostasis to an
equality with the inaccessible power of God, since it would be able to
measure by itself all the extent of the divine intelligence.

If it is insufficient for the operations of God, then we fall into a
more absurd blasphemy, since we condemn God for not being able, on
account of the want of matter, to finish His own works. The
resourcelessness of human nature has deceived these reasoners. Each of
our crafts is exercised upon some special matter--the art of the smith
upon iron, that of the carpenter on wood. In all there is the subject,
the form and the work which results from the form. Matter is taken from
without--art gives the form--and the work is composed at the same time
of form and of matter.

Such is the idea that they make for themselves of the divine work. The
form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer; matter
came to the Creator from without; and thus the world results from a
double origin. It has received from outside its matter and its essence,
and from God its form and figure. They thus come to deny that the mighty
God has presided at the formation of the universe, and pretend that he
has only brought a crowning contribution to a common work; that he has
only contributed some small portion to the genesis of beings; they are
incapable, from the debasement of their reasonings, of raising their
glances to the height of truth. Here, below, arts are subsequent to
matter--introduced into life by the indispensable need of them. Wool
existed before weaving made it supply one of nature's imperfections.
Wood existed before carpentering took possession of it, and transformed
it each day to supply new wants and made us see all the advantages
derived from it, giving the oar to the sailor, the winnowing-fan to the
laborer, the lance to the soldier.

But God, before all those things which now attract our notice existed,
after casting about in His mind and determining to bring into being that
which had no being, imagined the world such as it ought to be, and
created matter in harmony with the form which He wished to give it. He
assigned to the heavens the nature adapted for the heavens, and gave to
the earth an essence in accordance with its form. He formed, as he
wished, fire, air, and water, and gave to each the essence which the
object of its existence required.

Finally he welded all the diverse parts of the universe by links of
indissoluble attachment and established between them so perfect a
fellowship and harmony that the most distant, in spite of their
distance, appeared united in one universal sympathy. Let those men,
therefore, renounce their fabulous imaginations, who in spite of the
weakness of their argument, pretend to measure a power as
incomprehensible to man's reason as it is unutterable by man's voice.

God created the heavens and the earth, but not only one-half of each; He
created all the heavens and all the earth, creating the essence with the
form. For He is not an inventor of figures, but the Creator even of the
essence of beings. Further, let them tell us how the efficient power of
God could deal with the passive nature of matter, the latter furnishing
the matter without form, the former possessing the science of the form
without matter, both being in need of each other; the Creator in order
to display his art, matter in order to cease to be without form and to
receive a form. But let us stop here and return to our subject.

"The earth was invisible and unfinished." In saying "In the beginning
God created the heavens and the earth" the sacred writer passed over
many things in silence--water, air, fire, and the results from them,
which, all forming in reality the true complement of the world, were,
without doubt made at the same time as the universe. By this silence
history wishes to train the activity of our intelligence, giving it a
weak point for starting, to impel it to the discovery of the truth.

Thus, we are told of the creation of water; but, as we are told that
the earth was invisible, ask yourself what could have covered it and
prevented it from being seen? Fire could not conceal it. Fire brightens
all about it, and spreads light rather than darkness around. No more was
it air that enveloped the earth. Air by nature is of little density and
transparent. It receives all kinds of visible objects and transmits them
to the spectators. Only one supposition remains: that which floated on
the surface of the earth was water, the fluid essence which had not yet
been confined to its own place.

Thus the earth was not only invisible; it was still incomplete. Even
to-day excessive damp is a hindrance to the productiveness of the earth.
The same cause at the same time prevents it from being seen and from
being complete, for the proper and natural adornment of the earth is its
completion: corn waving in the valleys, meadows green with grass and
rich with many-colored flowers, fertile glades and hilltops shaded by
forests. Of all this nothing was yet produced; the earth was in travail
with it in virtue of the power that she had received from the Creator.
But she was waiting for the appointed time and the divine order to bring

"Darkness was upon the face of the deep." A new source for fables and
most impious imaginations may be found by distorting the sense of these
words at the will of one's fancies. By "darkness" these wicked men do
not understand what is meant in reality--air not illumined, the shadow
produced by the interposition of a body, or finally a place for some
reason deprived of light. For them "darkness" is an evil power, or
rather the personification of evil, having his origin in himself in
opposition to, and in perpetual struggle with, the goodness of God. If
God is light, they say, without any doubt the power which struggles
against Him must be darkness, "darkness" not owing its existence to a
foreign origin, but an evil existing by itself. "Darkness" is the enemy
of souls, the primary cause of death, the adversary of virtue. The words
of the prophet, they say in their error, show that it exists and that it
does not proceed from God. From this what perverse and impious dogmas
have been imagined! What grievous wolves, tearing the flock of the Lord,
have sprung from these words to cast themselves upon souls! Is it not
from hence that have come forth Marcions and Valentinuses and the
detestable heresy of the Manicheans which you may, without going far
wrong, call the putrid humor of the churches?

O man, why wander thus from the truth and imagine for thyself that which
will cause thy perdition? The word is simple and within the comprehension
of all. "The earth was invisible." Why? Because the "deep" was spread
over its surface. What is "the deep?" A mass of water of extreme depth.
But we know that we can see many bodies through clear and transparent
water. How, then, was it that no part of the earth appeared through the
water? Because the air which surrounded it was still without light and
in darkness. The rays of the sun, penetrating the water, often allow us
to see the pebbles which form the bed of the river, but in a dark night
it is impossible for our glance to penetrate under the water. Thus,
these words, "the earth was invisible," are explained by those that
follow; "the deep" covered it and itself was in darkness. Thus the deep
is not a multitude of hostile powers, as has been imagined; nor
"darkness" an evil sovereign force in enmity with good. In reality two
rival principles of equal power, if engaged without ceasing in a war of
mutual attacks, will end in self-destruction.

But if one should gain the mastery it would completely annihilate the
conquered. Thus, to maintain the balance in the struggle between good
and evil is to represent them as engaged in a war without end and in
perpetual destruction, where the opponents are at the same time
conquerors and conquered. If good is the stronger, what is there to
prevent evil from being completely annihilated? But if that be the case,
the very utterance of which is impious, I ask myself how it is that
they themselves are not filled with horror to think that they have
imagined such abominable blasphemies.

It is equally impious to say that evil has its origin from God; because
the contrary can not proceed from its contrary. Life does not engender
death; darkness is not the origin of light; sickness is not the maker of
health. In the changes of conditions there are transitions from one
condition to the contrary; but in genesis each being proceeds from its
like and from its contrary. If, then, evil is neither uncreated nor
created by God, from whence comes its nature? Certainly, that evil
exists no one living in the world will deny. What shall we say, then?
Evil is not a living animated essence: it is the condition of the soul
opposed to virtue, developed in the careless on account of their falling
away from good.

Do not, then, go beyond yourself to seek for evil, and imagine that
there is an original nature of wickedness. Each of us--let us
acknowledge it--is the first author of his own vice.

Among the ordinary events of life, some come naturally, like old age and
sickness; others by chance, like unforeseen occurrences, of which the
origin is beyond ourselves, often sad, sometimes fortunate--as, for
instance, the discovery of a treasure when digging a well, or the
meeting of a mad dog when going to the market-place.

Others depend upon ourselves; such as ruling one's passions, or not
putting a bridle on one's pleasures; the mastery of anger, or resistance
against him who irritates us; truth-telling or lying, the maintenance of
a sweet and well-regulated disposition, or of a mood fierce and swollen
and exalted with pride. Here you are the master of your actions. Do not
look for the guiding cause beyond yourself, but recognize that evil,
rightly so called, has no other origin than our voluntary falls. If it
were involuntary, and did not depend upon ourselves, the laws would not
have so much terror for the guilty, and the tribunals would not be so
pitiless when they condemn wretches according to the measure of their

But enough concerning evil rightly so called. Sickness, poverty,
obscurity, death, finally all human afflictions, ought not to be ranked
as evils, since we do not count among the greatest boons things which
are their opposites. Among these afflictions some are the effect of
nature, others have obviously been for many a source of advantage. Let
us be silent for the moment about these metaphors and allegories, and,
simply following without vain curiosity the words of Holy Scripture, let
us take from darkness the idea which it gives us.

But reason asks, Was darkness created with the world? Is it older than
light? Why, in spite of its inferiority, has it preceded it? Darkness,
we reply, did not exist in essence; it is a condition produced in the
air by the withdrawal of light. What, then, is that light which
disappeared suddenly from the world so that darkness should cover the
face of the deep? If anything had existed before the formation of this
sensible and perishable world, no doubt we conclude it would have been
in the light. The orders of angels, the heavenly hosts, all intellectual
natures named or unnamed, all the ministering spirits, did not live in
darkness, but enjoyed a condition fitted for them in light and spiritual

No one will contradict this, least of all he who looks for celestial
light as one of the rewards promised to virtue--the light which, as
Solomon says, is always a light to the righteous, the light which made
the apostle say, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet
to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Finally, if
the condemned are sent into outer darkness, evidently those who are made
worthy of God's approval are at rest in heavenly light. When, then,
according to the order of God, the heaven appeared, enveloping all that
its circumference included, a vast and unbroken body separating outer
things from those which it enclosed, it necessarily kept the space
inside in darkness for want of communication with the outer light.

Three things are, indeed, needed to form a shadow: light, a body, a dark
place. The shadow of heaven forms the darkness of the world. Understand,
I pray you, what I mean, by a simple example--by raising for yourself at
midday a tent of some compact and impenetrable material, you shut
yourself up in sudden darkness. Suppose that original darkness was like
this, not subsisting directly by itself, but resulting from some
external causes. If it is said that it rested upon the deep, it is
because the extremity of air naturally touches the surface of bodies;
and as at that time the water covered everything, we are obliged to say
that darkness was upon the face of the deep.

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters?" Does this
Spirit mean the diffusion of air? The sacred writer wishes to enumerate
to you the elements of the world, to tell you that God created the
heavens, the earth, water and air, and that the last was now diffused
and in motion; or rather, that which is truer and confirmed by the
authority of the ancients, by the Spirit of God he means the Holy
Spirit. It is, as has been remarked, the special name, the name above
all others that Scripture delights to give to the Holy Spirit, and by
the Spirit of God the Holy Spirit is meant, the Spirit, namely, which
completes the divine and blessed Trinity. You will always find it
better, therefore, to take it in this sense. How, then, did the Spirit
of God move upon the waters? The explanation that I am about to give you
is not an original one, but that of a Syrian who was as ignorant in the
wisdom of this world as he was versed in the knowledge of the truth.

He said, then, that the Syriac word was more expressive, and that, being
more analogous to the Hebrew term, it was a nearer approach to the
Scriptural sense. This is the meaning of the word: by "moved" the
Syrians, he says, understand brooded over. The Spirit cherished the
nature of the waters as one sees a bird cover the eggs with her body and
impart to them vital force from her own warmth. Such is, as nearly as
possible, the meaning of these words--the Spirit moved: that is,
prepared the nature of water to produce living beings: a sufficient
proof for those who ask if the Holy Spirit took an active part in the
creation of the world.

"And God said, Let there be light." The first word uttered by God
created the nature of light; it made darkness vanish, dispelled gloom,
illuminated the world, and gave to all being at the same time a sweet
and gracious aspect. The heavens, until then enveloped in darkness,
appeared with that beauty which they still present to our eyes. The air
was lighted up, or rather made the light circulate mixed with its
substance, and, distributing its splendor rapidly in every direction, so
dispersed itself to its extreme limits. Up it sprang to the very ether
and heaven. In an instant it lighted up the whole extent of the world,
the north and the south, the east and the west. For the ether also is
such a subtle substance and so transparent that it needs not the space
of a moment for light to pass through it. Just as it carries our sight
instantaneously to the object of vision, so without the least interval,
with a rapidity that thought can not conceive, it receives these rays of
light in its uttermost limits. With light the ether becomes more
pleasing and the waters more limpid. These last, not content with
receiving its splendor, return it by the reflection of light and in all
directions send forth quivering flashes. The divine word gives every
object a more cheerful and a more attractive appearance, just as when
men pour in oil into the deep sea they make the place about them smooth.
So, with a single word and in one instant the Creator of all things gave
the boon of light to the world.

"Let there be light." The order was itself an operation, and a state of
things was brought into being than which man's mind can not even imagine
a pleasanter one for our enjoyment It must be well understood that when
we speak of the voice, of the word, of the command of God, this divine
language does not mean to us a sound which escapes from the organs of
speech, a collision of air struck by the tongue; it is a simple sign of
the will of God, and, if we give it the form of an order, it is only the
better to impress the souls whom we instruct.

"And God saw the light, that it was good." How can we worthily praise
light after the testimony given by the Creator to its goodness? The
word, even among us, refers the judgment to the eyes, incapable of
raising itself to the idea that the senses have already received. But if
beauty in bodies results from symmetry of parts and the harmonious
appearance of colors how, in a simple and homogeneous essence like
light, can this idea of beauty be preserved? Would not the symmetry in
light be less shown in its parts than in the pleasure and delight at the
sight of it? Such is also the beauty of gold, which it owes, not to the
happy mingling of its parts, but only to its beautiful color, which has
a charm attractive to the eyes.

Thus, again, the evening star is the most beautiful of the stars: not
that the parts of which it is composed form a harmonious whole, but
thanks to the unalloyed and beautiful brightness which meets our eyes.
And further, when God proclaimed the goodness of light, it was not in
regard to the charm of the eye, but as a provision for future advantage,
because at that time there were as yet no eyes to judge of its beauty.

"And God divided the light from the darkness." That is to say, God gave
them natures incapable of mixing, perpetually in opposition to each
other, and put between them the widest space and distance.

"And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night." Since
the birth of the sun, the light that it diffuses in the air when shining
on our hemisphere is day, and the shadow produced by its disappearance
is night. But at that time it was not after the movement of the sun, but
following this primitive light spread abroad in the air or withdrawn in
a measure determined by God, that day came and was followed by night.

"And the evening and the morning were the first day." Evening is then
the boundary common to day and night; and in the same way morning
constitutes the approach of night to day. It was to give day the
privileges of seniority that Scripture put the end of the first day
before that of the first night, because night follows day: for, before
the creation of light, the world was not in night, but in darkness. It
is the opposite of day which was called night, and it did not receive
its name until after day. Thus were created the evening and the
morning. Scripture means the space of a day and a night, and afterward
no more says day and night, but calls them both under the name of the
more important: a custom which you will find throughout Scripture.
Everywhere the measure of time is counted by days without mention of
nights. "The days of our years," says the Psalmist; "few and evil have
the days of the years of my life been," said Jacob; and elsewhere "all
the days of my life."

"And the evening and the morning were the first day," or, rather, one
day.--(_Revised Vers_). Why does Scripture say "one day," not "the first
day?" Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth
days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first
which began the series? If it, therefore, says "one day," it is from a
wish to determine the measure of day and night and to combine the time
that they contain. Now, twenty-four hours fill up the space of one
day--we mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the
solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by
Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as tho it
said: Twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or a day is in
reality the time that the heavens, starting from one point, take to
return thither. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun,
evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never
exceeds the space of one day.

But we must believe that there is a mysterious reason for this? God, who
made the nature of time, measured it out and determined it by intervals
of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the
week to resolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement
of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself:
a proper circle begins and ends with itself. Such is also the character
of eternity, to revolve upon itself and to end nowhere. If, then, the
beginning of time is called "one day" rather than "the first day," it is
because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It
was, in reality, fit and natural to call "one" the day whose character
is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all others. If Scripture
speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere "age of age, and ages of
ages," we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It
follows that we are hereby shown, not so much limits, ends, and
succession of ages as distinctions between various states and modes of
action. "The day of the Lord," Scripture says, "is great and very
terrible," and elsewhere, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord:
to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not
light." A day of darkness for those who are worthy of darkness. No;
this day without evening, without succession, and without end is not
unknown to Scripture, and it is the day that the Psalmist calls the
eighth day, because it is outside this time of weeks. Thus, whether you
call it day or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea.
Give this state the name of day; there are not several, but only one. If
you call it eternity still it is unique and not manifold. Thus it is in
order that you may carry your thoughts forward toward a future life that
Scripture marks by the word "one" the day which is the type of eternity,
the first-fruits of days, the contemporary of light, the holy Lord's

But while I am conversing with you about the first evening of the world,
evening takes me by surprize and puts an end to my discourse. May the
Father of the true light, who has adorned day with celestial light, who
has made to shine the fires which illuminate us during the night, who
reserves for us in the peace of a future age a spiritual and everlasting
light, enlighten your hearts in the knowledge of truth, keep you from
stumbling, and grant that "you may walk honestly as in the day." Thus
shall you shine as the sun in the midst of the glory of the saints, and
I shall glory in you in the day of Christ, to whom belong all glory and
power for ever and ever. Amen.




Chrysostom (that is, "Of the Golden Mouth") was a title given to John,
Archbishop of Constantinople. He was born of a patrician family at
Antioch about 347, and owed much to the early Christian training of his
Christian mother, Anthusa. He studied under Libanius, and for a time
practised law, but was converted and baptized in 368. He made a profound
study of the Scriptures, the whole of which, it is said, he learned to
repeat by heart.

Like Basil and Gregory he began his religious life as a hermit in the
desert. After six years he returned to Antioch, where he gained
reputation as the greatest preacher in the Eastern Church. Raised to the
metropolitan See of Constantinople in 397, his fulminations against the
corruptions of the court caused him to be banished, after a stormy
ministry of six years. He was recalled in response to popular clamor,
but removed again, and shortly after died, in 407. He was a great
exegete, and showed a spirit of intellectual liberty which anticipated
modern criticism. Sermons to the number of one thousand have been
attributed to him.



_But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them
which are asleep, that ye sorrow not._--1 Thess. iv., 13.

We have occupied four days in explaining to you the parable of Lazarus,
bringing out the treasure that we found in a body covered with sores; a
treasure, not of gold and silver and precious stones, but of wisdom and
fortitude, of patience and endurance. For as in regard to visible
treasures, while the surface of the ground shows only thorns and briers,
and rough earth, yet, let a person dig deep into it, abundant wealth
discovers itself; so it has proved in respect to Lazarus. Outwardly,
wounds; but underneath these, unspeakable wealth; a body pining away,
but a spirit noble and wakeful. We have also seen an illustration of
that remark of the apostle's--in proportion as the outward man perishes,
the inward man is renewed.

It would, indeed, be proper to address you to-day, also, on this same
parable, and to enter the lists with those heretics who censure the Old
Testament, bringing accusations against the patriarchs, and whetting
their tongues against God, the Creator of the universe. But to avoid
wearying you and reserving this controversy for another time, let us
direct the discourse to another subject; for a table with only one sort
of food produces satiety, while variety provokes the appetite. That it
may be so in regard to our preaching, let us now, after a long period,
turn to the blest Paul; for very opportunely has a passage from the
apostle been read to-day, and the things which are to be spoken
concerning it are in harmony with those that have lately been presented.
Hear, then, Paul this day proclaiming--"I would not have you to be
ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as
others which have no hope." The parable of Lazarus is the evangelical
chord; this passage is the apostolic note. And there is concord between
them; for we have, on that parable, said much concerning the
resurrection and the future judgment, and our discourse now recurs to
that theme; so that, tho it is on apostolic ground we are now toiling,
we shall here find the same treasure. For in treating the parable, our
aim was to teach the hearers this lesson, that they should regard all
the splendors of the present life as nothing, but should look forward in
their hopes, and daily reflect on the decisions which will be hereafter
pronounced, and on that fearful judgment, and that Judge who can not be
deceived. On these things Paul has counseled us to-day in the passages
which have been read to us. Attend, however, to his own words--"I would
not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe
that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus
will God bring with him."--I Thess. iv., 13, 14.

We ought here, at the outset, to inquire why, when he is speaking
concerning Christ, he employs the word death; but when he is speaking of
our decease he calls it sleep, and not death. For he did not say,
Concerning them that are dead: but what did he say? "Concerning them
that are asleep." And again--"Even so them also which sleep in Jesus
will God bring with Him." He did not say, Them that have died. Still
again--"We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall
not prevent them that sleep." Here, too, he did not say--Them that are
dead; but a third time, bringing the subject to their remembrance, for
the third time called death a sleep. Concerning Christ, however, he did
not speak thus; but how? "For if we believe that Jesus died." He did not
say, Jesus slept, but He died. Why now did he use the term death in
reference to Christ, but in reference to us the term sleep? For it was
not casually, or negligently, that he employed this expression, but he
had a wise and great purpose in so doing. In speaking of Christ, he said
death, so as to confirm the fact that Christ had actually suffered
death; in speaking of us, he said sleep, in order to impart consolation.
For where resurrection had already taken place, he mentions death with
plainness; but where the resurrection is still a matter of hope, he says
sleep, consoling us by this very expression, and cherishing our valuable
hopes. For he who is only asleep will surely awake; and death is no more
than a long sleep.

Say not a dead man hears not, nor speaks, nor sees, nor is conscious. It
is just so with a sleeping person. If I may speak somewhat
paradoxically, even the soul of a sleeping person is in some sort
asleep; but not so the soul of a dead man; that is awake.

But, you say, a dead man experiences corruption, and becomes dust and
ashes. And what then, beloved hearers? For this very reason we ought to
rejoice. For when a man is about to rebuild an old and tottering house,
he first sends out its occupants, then tears it down, and rebuilds anew
a more splendid one. This occasions no grief to the occupants, but
rather joy; for they do not think of the demolition which they see, but
of the house which is to come, tho not yet seen. When God is about to
do a similar work, he destroys our body, and removes the soul which was
dwelling in it as from some house, that he may build it anew and more
splendidly, and again bring the soul into it with greater glory. Let us
not, therefore, regard the tearing down, but the splendor which is to

If, again, a man has a statue decayed by rust and age, and mutilated in
many of its parts, he breaks it up and casts it into a furnace, and
after the melting he receives it again in a more beautiful form. As then
the dissolving in the furnace was not a destruction but a renewing of
the statue, so the death of our bodies is not a destruction but a
renovation. When, therefore, you see as in a furnace our flesh flowing
away to corruption, dwell not on that sight, but wait for the recasting.
And be not satisfied with the extent of this illustration, but advance
in your thoughts to a still higher point; for the statuary, casting into
the furnace a brazen image, does not furnish you in its place a golden
and undecaying statue, but again makes a brazen one. God does not thus;
but casting in a mortal body formed of clay, he returns to you a golden
and immortal statue; for the earth, receiving a corruptible and decaying
body gives back the same, incorruptible and undecaying. Look not,
therefore, on the corpse, lying with closed eyes and speechless lips,
but on the man that is risen, that has received glory unspeakable and
amazing, and direct your thoughts from the present sight to the future

But do you miss his society, and therefore lament and mourn? Now is it
not unreasonable, that, if you should have given your daughter in
marriage, and her husband should take her to a distant country and
should there enjoy prosperity, you would not think the circumstance a
calamity, but the intelligence of their prosperity would console the
sorrow occasioned by her absence; and yet here, while it is not a man,
nor a fellow servant, but the Lord Himself who has taken your relative,
that you should grieve and lament?

And how is it possible, you ask, not to grieve, since I am only a man?
Nor do I say that you should not grieve: I do not condemn dejection, but
the intensity of it. To be dejected is natural; but to be overcome by
dejection is madness, and folly, and unmanly weakness. You may grieve
and weep; but give not way to despondency, nor indulge in complaints.
Give thanks to God, who has taken your friend, that you have the
opportunity of honoring the departed one, and of dismissing him with
becoming obsequies. If you sink under depression, you withhold honor
from the departed, you displease God who has taken him, and you injure
yourself; but if you are grateful, you pay respect to him, you glorify
God, and you benefit yourself. Weep, as wept your Master over Lazarus,
observing the just limits of sorrow, which it is not proper to pass.
Thus also said Paul--"I would not have you to be ignorant concerning
them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not as others who have no hope.
Grieve," says he; "but not as the Greek, who has no hope of a
resurrection, who despairs of a future life."

Believe me, I am ashamed and blush to see unbecoming groups of women
pass along the mart, tearing their hair, cutting their arms and
cheeks--and all this under the eyes of the Greeks. For what will they
not say? What will they not declare concerning us? Are these the men who
reason about a resurrection? Indeed! How poorly their actions agree with
their opinions! In words, they reason about a resurrection: but they act
just like those who do not acknowledge a resurrection. If they fully
believed in a resurrection, they would not act thus; if they had really
persuaded themselves that a deceased friend had departed to a better
state, they would not thus mourn. These things, and more than these, the
unbelievers say when they hear those lamentations. Let us then be
ashamed, and be more moderate, and not occasion so much harm to
ourselves and to those who are looking on us.

For on what account, tell me, do you thus weep for one departed?
Because he was a bad man? You ought on that very account to be thankful,
since the occasions of wickedness are now cut off. Because he was good
and kind? If so, you ought to rejoice; since he has been soon removed,
before wickedness had corrupted him, and he has gone away to a world
where he stands even secure, and there is no reason even to mistrust a
change. Because he was a youth? For that, too, praise Him that has taken
him, because he has speedily called him to a better lot. Because he was
an aged man? On this account, also, give thanks and glorify Him that has
taken him. Be ashamed of your behavior at a burial. The singing of
psalms, the prayers, the assembling of the (spiritual) fathers and
brethren--all this is not that you may weep, and lament, and afflict
yourselves, but that you may render thanks to Him who has taken the
departed. For as when men are called to some high office, multitudes
with praises on their lips assemble to escort them at their departure to
their stations, so do all with abundant praise join to send forward, as
to greater honor, those of the pious who have departed. Death is rest, a
deliverance from the exhausting labors and cares of this world. When,
then, thou seest a relative departing, yield not to despondency; give
thyself to reflection; examine thy conscience; cherish the thought that
after a little while this end awaits thee also. Be more considerate; let
another's death excite thee to salutary fear; shake off all indolence;
examine your past deeds; quit your sins, and commence a happy change.

We differ from unbelievers in our estimate of things. The unbeliever
surveys the heavens and worships them, because he thinks them a
divinity; he looks to the earth and makes himself a servant to it, and
longs for the things of sense. But not so with us. We survey the heavens
and admire Him that made them; for we do not believe them to be a god,
but a work of God. I look on the whole creation, and am led by it to the
Creator. He looks on wealth, and longs for it with earnest desire; I
look on wealth, and contemn it. He sees poverty, and laments; I see
poverty, and rejoice. I see things in one light; he in another. Just so
in regard to death. He sees a corpse, and thinks of it as a corpse; I
see a corpse, and behold sleep rather than death. And as in regard to
books, both learned persons and unlearned see them with the same eyes,
but not with the same understanding--for to the unlearned the mere
shapes of letters appear, while the learned discover the sense that lies
within those letters--so in respect to affairs in general, we all see
what takes place with the same eyes, but not with the same understanding
and judgment. Since, therefore, in all other things we differ from
them, shall we agree with them in our sentiments respecting death?

Consider to whom the departed has gone, and take comfort. He has gone
where Paul is, and Peter, and the whole company of the saints. Consider
how he shall arise, with what glory and splendor. Consider that by
mourning and lamenting thou canst not alter the event which has
occurred, and thou wilt in the end injure thyself. Consider whom you
imitate by so doing, and shun this companionship in sin. For whom do you
imitate and emulate? The unbelieving, those who have no hope; as Paul
has said--"That ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope." And
observe how carefully he expresses himself; for he does not say, Those
who have not the hope of a resurrection, but simply, Those who have no
hope. He that has no hope of a future retribution has no hope at all,
nor does he know that there is a God, nor that God exercises a
providential care over present occurrences, nor that divine justice
looks on all things. But he that is thus ignorant and inconsiderate is
more unwise than a beast, and separates his soul from all good; for he
that does not expect to render an account of his deeds cuts himself
loose from all virtue, and attaches himself to all vice. Considering
these things, therefore, and reflecting on the folly and stupidity of
the heathen, whose associates we become by our lamentations for the
dead, let us avoid this conformity to them. For the apostle mentions
them for this very purpose, that by considering the dishonor into which
thou fallest, thou mightest recover thyself from this conformity, and
return to thy proper dignity.

And not only here, but everywhere and frequently, the blest Paul does
the same. For when he would dissuade from sin, he shows with whom we
become associated by our sins, that, being touched by the character of
the persons, thou shouldest avoid such companionship. To the
Thessalonians, accordingly, he says, Let every one "possess his vessel
in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as
the Gentiles which know not God." And again--"Walk not as the other
Gentiles in the vanity of their mind." Thus also here--"I would not have
you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye
sorrow not even as others who have no hope." For it is not the nature of
things, but our own disposition, which makes us grieve; not the death of
the departed, but the weakness of those who mourn.

We ought, therefore, to thank God not only for the resurrection, but
also for the hope of it; which can comfort the afflicted soul, and bid
us be of good cheer concerning the departed, for they will again rise
and be with us. If we must have anguish, we should mourn and lament over
those who are living in sin, not over those who have died righteously.
Thus did Paul; for he says to the Corinthians--"Lest when I come to you
God shall humble me among you and that I shall bewail many." He was not
speaking of those who had died, but of those who had sinned and had not
repented of the lasciviousness and uncleanness which they had committed;
over these it was proper to mourn. So likewise another writer
admonishes, saying--"Weep over the dead, for the light has failed; and
weep over the fool, for understanding has failed" (Eccles. xxii., 10).
Weep a little for the dead; for he has gone to his rest; but the fool's
life is a greater calamity than death. And surely if one devoid of
understanding is always a proper object of lamentation, much more he
that is devoid of righteousness and that has fallen from hope toward
God. These, then, let us bewail; for such bewailing may be useful. For
often while lamenting these, we amend our own faults; but to bewail the
departed is senseless and hurtful. Let us not, then, reverse the order,
but bewail only sin; and all other things, whether poverty, or sickness,
or untimely death, or calumny, or false accusation, or whatever human
evil befalls us, let us resolutely bear them all. For these calamities,
if we are watchful, will be the occasions of adding to our crowns.

But how is it possible, you ask, that a bereaved person, being a man,
should not grieve? On the contrary, I ask, how is it that being a man he
should grieve, since he is honored with reason and with hopes of future
good? Who is there, you ask again, that has not been subdued by this
weakness? Many, I reply, and in many places, both among us and among
those who have died before us. Job, for instance; the whole circle of
his children being taken away, hear what he says--"The Lord gave; the
Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." A wonderful
saying, even when merely heard; but if you examine it closely, your
wonder will greatly increase.

For consider; Satan did not take merely half and leave half, or take the
larger number and leave the rest; but he gathered all the fruit, and yet
did not prevail in uprooting the tree; he covered the whole sea with
waves, and yet did not overwhelm the bark; he despoiled the tower of its
strength, and yet could not batter it down. Job stood firm, tho assailed
from every quarter; showers of arrows fell, but they did not wound him.
Consider how great a thing it was, to see so many children perish. Was
it not enough to pierce him to the quick that they should all be
snatched away?--altogether and in one day; in the flower of life;
having shown so much virtue; expiring as by a stroke of vengeance; that
after so many sorrows this last should be inflicted; that the father was
fond of them, and that the deceased were worthy of his affection. When a
man loses vicious children, he does indeed suffer grief, but not intense
grief; for the wickedness of the departed does not allow the sorrow to
be poignant. But when children are virtuous, an abiding wound is
inflicted, the remembrance is indelible, the calamity is inconsolable;
there is a double sting, from nature, and from the virtuous character of
the departed.

That Job's children were virtuous, appears from the fact that their
father was particularly solicitous in regard to them, and rising up
offered sacrifices in their behalf, fearing lest they might have
committed secret sins; and no consideration was more important in his
esteem than this. Not only the virtue of the children is thus shown, but
also the affectionate spirit of the father. Since, therefore, the father
was so affectionate, showing not only a love for them which proceeded
from nature, but that also which came from their piety, and since the
departed were thus virtuous, the anguish had a threefold intensity.
Still further; when children are torn away separately, the suffering has
some consolation; for those that are left alleviate the sorrow over the
departed; but when the whole circle is gone, to what one of all his
numerous children can the childless man now look?

Besides these causes of sorrow, there was a fifth stroke. What was that?
That they were all snatched away at once. For if in the case of those
who die after three or five days of sickness, the women and all the
relatives bewail this most of all, that the deceased was taken away from
their sight speedily and suddenly, much more might he have been
distrest, when thus deprived of all, not in three days, or two, or one,
but in one hour! For a calamity long contemplated, even if it be hard to
bear, may fall more lightly through this anticipation; but that which
happens contrary to expectation and suddenly is intolerable.

Would you hear of a sixth stroke? He lost them all in the very flower of
their age. You know how very overwhelming are untimely bereavements, and
productive of grief on many scores. The instance we are contemplating
was not only untimely, but also violent; so that here was a seventh
stroke. For their father did not see them expire on a bed, but they are
all overwhelmed by the falling habitation. Consider then; a man was
digging in that pile of ruins, and now he drew up a stone, and now a
limb of a deceased one; he saw a hand still holding a cup, and another
right hand placed on the table, and the mutilated form of a body, the
nose torn away, the head crusht, the eyes put out, the brain scattered,
the whole frame marred, and the variety of wounds not permitting the
father to recognize the beloved countenances. You suffer emotions and
shed tears at merely hearing of these things: what must he have endured
at the sight of them? For if we, so long after the event, can not bear
to hear of this tragedy, tho it was another man's calamity, what an
adamant was he to look on these things, and contemplate them, not as
another's, but his own afflictions! He did not give way to dejection,
nor ask, "What does this mean? Is this the recompense for my kindness?
Was it for this that I opened my house, that I might see it made the
grave of my children? Did I for this exhibit every parental virtue, that
they should endure such a death?" No such things did he speak, or even
think; but steadily bore all, tho bereaved of them after bestowing on
them so much care. For as an accomplished statuary framing golden images
adorns them with great care, so he sought properly to mold and adorn
their souls. And as a husbandman assiduously waters his palm-trees, or
olives, inclosing them and cultivating them in every suitable way; so he
perpetually sought to enrich each one's soul, as a fruitful olive, with
increasing virtue. But he saw the trees overthrown by the assault of the
evil spirit, and exposed on the earth, and enduring that miserable kind
of death; yet he uttered no reviling word, but rather blest God, thus
giving a deadly blow to the devil.

Should you say that Job had many sons, but that others have frequently
lost their only sons, and that his cause of sorrow was not equal to
theirs, you say well; but I reply, that Job's cause of sorrow was not
only equal, but far greater. For of what advantage was it to him that he
had many children? It was a severer calamity and a more bitter grief to
receive the wound in many bodies.

Still, if you wish to see another holy man having an only son, and
showing the same and even greater fortitude, call to mind the patriarch
Abraham, who did not indeed see Isaac die, but, what was much more
painful, was himself commanded to slay him, and did not question the
command, nor repine at it, nor say, "Is it for this thou hast made me a
father, that thou shouldest make me the slayer of my son? Better it
would have been not to give him at all, than having given him thus to
take him away. And if thou choosest to take him, why dost thou command
me to slay him and to pollute my right hand? Didst thou not promise me
that from this son thou wouldst fill the earth with my descendants? How
wilt thou give the fruits, then, if thou pluck up the root? How dost
thou promise me a posterity, and yet order me to slay my son? Who ever
saw such things, or heard of the like? I am deceived; I have been
deluded." No such thing did he say, or even think; he said nothing
against the command, he did not ask the reasons; but hearing the
Word--"Take thy son, thine only son whom thou lovest, and carry him up
to one of the mountains which I shall show thee," he complied so readily
as even to do more than was commanded. For he concealed the matter from
his wife, and he left the servants at the foot of the Mount in ignorance
of what was to be done, and ascended, taking only the victim. Thus not
unwillingly, but with promptness, he obeyed the command. Think now what
it was, to be conversing alone with his son, apart from all others, when
the affections are the more fervently excited, and attachment becomes
stronger; and this not for one, or two, but for several days. To obey
the command speedily would have been wonderful; but not so wonderful as,
while his heart was burdened and agitated for many days, to avoid
indulging in human tenderness toward his son. On this account God
appointed for him a more extended arena, and a longer racecourse, that
thou mightest the more carefully observe his combatant. A combatant he
was indeed, contending not against a man, but against the force of
nature. What language can describe his fortitude? He brought forward his
son, bound him, placed him on the wood, seized the sacrificial knife,
was just on the point of dealing the stroke. In what manner to express
myself properly, I know not; he only would know, who did these things.
For no language can describe how it happened that his hand did not
become torpid, that the strength of his nerves did not relax, that the
affecting sight of his son did not overpower him.

It is proper here, too, to admire Isaac. For as the one obeyed God, so
did the other obey his father; and as the one, at God's bidding him to
sacrifice, did not demand an account of the matter, so the other, when
his father was binding him and leading him to the altar, did not say,
"Why art thou doing this?"--but surrendered himself to his father's
hand. And then was to be seen a man uniting in his own person the father
and the sacrificing priest; and a sacrifice offered without blood, a
whole burnt offering without fire, an altar representing a type of death
and the resurrection. For he both sacrificed his son and he did not
sacrifice him. He did not sacrifice him with his hand, but in his
purpose. For God gave the command, not through desire to see the flowing
of the blood, but to give you a specimen of steady purpose, to make
known throughout the world this worthy man, and to instruct all in
coming time that it is necessary to prefer the command of God before
children and nature, before all things, and even life itself. And so
Abraham descended from the Mount, bringing alive the martyr Isaac. How
can we be pardoned then, tell me, or what apology can we have, if we see
that noble man obeying God with so much promptness and submitting to Him
in all things, and yet we murmur at His dispensations? Tell me not of
grief, nor of the intolerable nature of your calamity; rather consider
how in the midst of bitter sorrow you may yet rise superior to it. That
which was commanded to Abraham was enough to stagger his reason, to
throw him into perplexity, and to undermine his faith in the past. For
who would not have then thought that the promise which had been made him
of a numerous posterity was all a deception? But not so Abraham. And not
less ought we to admire Job's wisdom in calamity; and particularly, that
after so much virtue, after his alms and various acts of kindness to
men, and tho aware of no wrong either in himself or his children, yet
experiencing so much affliction, affliction so singular, such as had
never happened even to the most desperately wicked, still he was not
affected by it as most men would have been, nor did he regard his virtue
as profitless, nor form any ill-advised opinion concerning the past.

By these two examples, then, we ought not only to admire virtue, but to
emulate and imitate it. And let no one say these were wonderful men.
True, they were wonderful and great men. But we are now required to have
more wisdom than they, and than all who lived under the Old Testament.
For "except your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Gathering wisdom, then,
from all quarters, and considering what we are told concerning a
resurrection and concerning these holy men, let us frequently recite it
to our souls, not only when we are actually in sorrow, but also while we
are free from distress. For I have now addrest you on this subject, tho
no one is in particular affliction, that when we shall fall into any
such calamity, we may, from the remembrance of what has been said,
obtain requisite consolation. As soldiers, even in peace, perform
warlike exercises, so that when actually called to battle and the
occasion makes a demand for skill, they may avail themselves of the art
which they have cultivated in peace; so let us, in time of peace,
furnish ourselves with weapons and remedies, that whenever there shall
burst on us a war of unreasonable passions, or grief, or pain, or any
such thing, we may, well armed and secure on all sides, repel the
assaults of the evil one with all skill, and wall ourselves round with
right contemplations, with the declarations of God, with the examples of
good men, and with every possible defense. For so shall we be able to
pass the present life with happiness, and to attain to the kingdom of
heaven, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion, together
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.




Saint Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus), one of the greatest theological
fathers of the Church, was born at Tagaste, 354 A.D., and became devoted
to the study of Cicero. As a Manichean he occasioned great anxiety to
his mother Monica. Eventually embracing Christianity, he was baptized by
Ambrose of Milan (387), on which occasion, tradition says, the Te Deum
was composed by himself and his baptizer. Appointed to the See of Hippo
in 395, he threw himself into the conflict against heresy and schism,
his principal opponents being the Donatists and Pelagians. His sermons,
powerful as they are, disappoint the modern reader by their fantastic
and allegorical interpretation of Scripture, but his "Confessions," in
which he details the history of his early life and conversion, present a
wonderful picture of personal experience. He is styled by Harnack "the
first modern man." He died at Hippo in 430.



_Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David._--Matt. xx., 30.

I. Ye know, holy brethren, full well as we do, that our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ is the physician of our eternal health; and that to this
end we task the weakness of our natures, that our weakness might not
last forever. For He assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And,
"though He was crucified through weakness," as the apostle saith, yet He
"liveth by the power of God." They are the words, too, of the same
apostle: "He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him." These
things, I say, are well known to your faith. And there is also this
which follows from them, that we should know that all the miracles which
He did on the body avail to our instruction, that we may from them
perceive that which is not to pass away, nor to have any end. He
restored to the blind those eyes which death was sure some time to
close; He raised Lazarus to life who was to die again. And whatever He
did for the health of bodies, He did it not to this end that they should
be forever; whereas, at the last, He will give eternal health even to
the body itself. But because those things which were not seen were not
believed; by means of those temporal things which were seen, He built up
faith in those things which were not seen.

II. Let no one then, brethren, say that our Lord Jesus Christ doeth not
those things now, and on this account prefer the former to the present
ages of the Church. In a certain place, indeed, the same Lord prefers
those who do not see and yet believe to them who see and therefore
believe. For even at that time so irresolute was the infirmity of His
disciples that they thought that He whom they saw to have risen again
must be handled, in order that they might believe. It was not enough for
their eyes that they had seen Him, unless their hands also were applied
to His limbs, and the scars of His recent wounds were touched: that this
disciple, who was in doubt, might cry suddenly when he had touched and
recognized the scars, "My Lord and my God." The scars manifested Him who
had healed all wounds in others. Could not the Lord have risen again
without scars? Yes, but He knew the wounds which were in the hearts of
His disciples, and to heal them He had preserved the scars on His own
body. And what said the Lord to him who now confest and said, "My lord,
and my God?" "Because thou hast seen," He said, "thou hast believed;
blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." Of whom
spake He, brethren, but of us? Not that He spoke only of us, but of
those also who shall come after us. For a little while when He had
departed from the sight of men, that faith might be established in their
hearts, whosoever believed, believed tho they saw Him not, and great has
been the merit of their faith; for the procuring of which faith they
brought only the movement of a pious heart, and not the touching of
their hands.

III. These things, then, the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This
faith reigneth now in the Church, which is spread throughout the whole
world. And now, He worketh greater cures, on account of which He
disdained not then to exhibit those lesser ones. For as the soul is
better than the body, so is the saving health of the soul better than
the health of the body. The blind body doth not now open its eyes by a
miracle of the Lord, but the blinded heart openeth its eyes to the word
of the Lord. The mortal corpse doth not now rise again, but the soul
doth rise again which lay dead in a living body. The deaf ears of the
body are not now opened; but how many have the ears of their heart
closed, which yet fly open at the penetrating word of God, so that they
believe who did not believe, and they live well who did live evilly, and
they obey who did not obey; and we say, "such a man is become a
believer," and we wonder when we hear of them whom once we had known as
hardened. Why, then, dost thou marvel at one who now believes, who is
living innocently, and serving God, but because thou dost behold him
seeing, whom thou hadst known to be blind; dost behold him living whom
thou hast known to be dead; dost behold him hearing whom thou hadst
known to be deaf? For consider that there are those who are dead in
another than the ordinary sense, of whom the Lord spoke to a certain man
who delayed to follow the Lord, because he wished to bury his father;
"Let the dead," said He, "bury their dead." Surely these dead buriers
are not dead in body; for if this were so, they could not bury dead
bodies. Yet doth He call them dead; where but in the soul within? For as
we may often see in a household, itself sound and well, the master of
the same house lying dead; so in a sound body do many carry a dead soul
within; and these the apostle arouses thus, "Awake, thou that sleepest,
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It is the
same who giveth sight to the blind that awakeneth the dead. For it is
with His voice that the cry is made by the apostle to the dead. "Awake
thou that sleepest." And the blind will be enlightened with light, when
he shall have risen again. And how many deaf men did the Lord see before
His eyes, when He said, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear." For
who was standing before Him without his bodily ears? What other ears,
then, did He seek for, but those of the inner man?

IV. Again, what eyes did He look for when He spake to those who saw
indeed, but who saw only with the eyes of the flesh? For when Philip
said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us": he
understood, indeed, that if the Father were shown him, it might well
suffice him; when He that was equal to the Father had sufficed not? And
why did He not suffice? Because He was not seen. And why was He not
seen? Because the eye whereby He might be seen was not yet whole. For
this, namely, that the Lord was seen in the flesh with the outward eyes,
not only the disciples who honored Him saw, but also the Jews who
crucified Him. He, then, who wished to be seen in another way, sought
for other eyes. And, therefore, it was that to him who said, "Show us
the Father, and it sufficeth us," He answered, "Have I been so long time
with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He who hath seen Me
hath seen the Father also." And that He might in the meanwhile heal the
eyes of faith, He has first of all given him instructions regarding
faith, that so he might attain to sight. And lest Philip should think
that he was to conceive of God under the same form in which he then saw
the Lord Jesus Christ in the body, he immediately subjoined, "Believest
thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" He had already
said, "He who hath seen me hath seen the Father also." But Philip's eye
was not yet sound enough to see the Father, nor, consequently, to see
the Son, who is Himself coequal with the Father. And so Jesus Christ
took in hand to cure, and with the medicine and salve of faith to
strengthen the eyes of his mind, which as yet were weak and unable to
behold so great a light, and He said, "Believest thou not that I am in
the Father, and the Father in Me?" Let not him, then, who can not yet
see what the Lord will one day show him, seek first to see what he is to
believe; but let him first believe that the eye by which he is to see
may be healed. For it was only the form of the servant which was
exhibited to the eyes of servants; because if "He who thought it not
robbery to be equal with God" could have been now seen as equal with God
by those whom He wished to be healed, He would not have needed to empty
Himself and to take the form of a servant. But because there was no way
whereby God could be seen, but whereby man could be seen there was;
therefore, He who was God was made man, that that which was seen might
heal that whereby He was not seen. For He saith Himself in another
place, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Philip
might, of course, have answered and said, Lord, do I see Thee? Is the
Father such as I see Thee to be? Forasmuch as Thou hast said, "He who
hath seen Me hath seen the Father also?" But before Philip answered
thus, or perhaps before he so much as thought it, when the Lord had
said, "He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father also," He immediately
added, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in
me?" For with that eye he could not yet see either the Father, or the
Son who is equal with the Father; but that his eye might be healed for
seeing, he was anointed unto believing. So, then, before thou seest what
thou canst not now see, believe what as yet thou seest not. "Walk by
faith," that thou mayest attain to sight. Sight will not gladden him in
his home whom faith consoleth not by the way. For, so says the apostle,
"As long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord." And he
subjoins immediately why we are still "absent or in pilgrimage," tho we
have now believed; "For we walk by faith," he says; "not by sight."

V. Our whole business, then, brethren, in this life is to heal this eye
of the heart whereby God may be seen. To this end are celebrated the
Holy Mysteries; to this end is preached the Word of God; to this end are
the moral exhortations of the Church, those, that is, that relate to the
corrections of manners, to the amendment of carnal lusts, to the
renouncing the world, not in word only, but in a change of life: to this
end is directed the whole aim of the Divine and Holy Scriptures, that
that inner man may be purged of that which hinders us from the sight of
God. For as the eye which is formed to see this temporal light, a light
tho heavenly yet corporeal, and manifest, not to men only, but even to
the meanest animals (for this the eye is formed to this light); if
anything be thrown or falls into it, whereby it is disordered, is shut
out from this light; and tho it encompasses the eye with its presence,
yet the eye turns itself away from, and is absent from it; and tho its
disordered condition is not only rendered absent from the light which is
present, but the light to see which it was formed is even painful to it,
so the eye of the heart too, when it is disordered and wounded, turns
away from the light of righteousness, and dares not and can not
contemplate it.

VI. And what is it that disorders the eye of the heart? Evil desire,
covetousness, injustice, worldly concupiscence; these disorder, close,
blind the eye of the heart. And yet, when the eye of the body is out of
order, how is the physician sought out, what an absence of all delay to
open and cleanse it, that they may be healed whereby this outward light
is seen! There is running to and fro, no one is still, no one loiters,
if even the smallest straw fall into the eye. And God, it must be
allowed, made the sun which we desire to see with sound eyes. Much
brighter, assuredly, is He who made it; nor is the light with which the
eye of the mind is concerned of this kind at all. That light is eternal
wisdom. God made thee, O man, after His own image. Would He give thee
wherewithal to see the sun which He made, and not give thee wherewithal
to see Him who made thee, when He made thee after His own image? He hath
given thee this also; both hath He given thee. But much thou dost love
these outward eyes, and despisest much that interior eye; it thou dost
carry about bruised and wounded. Yea, it would be a punishment to, if
thy Maker should wish to manifest Himself unto thee, it would be a
punishment to thine eye, before that it is cured and healed. For so Adam
in Paradise sinned, and hid himself from the face of God. As long, then,
as he had the sound heart of a pure conscience, he rejoiced at the
presence of God; when that eye was wounded by sin, he began to dread the
divine light, he fled back into the darkness, and the thick covert of
trees, flying from the truth, and anxious for the shade.

VII. Therefore, my brethren, since we too are born of him, and as the
apostle says, "In Adam all die"; for we were all at first two persons;
if we were loath to obey the physician, that we might not be sick; let
us obey Him now, that we may be delivered from sickness. The Physician
gave us precepts, when we were whole; He gave us precepts that we might
not need a physician. "They that are whole," He saith, "need not a
physician, but they that are sick." When whole, we despised these
precepts, and by experience have felt how to our own destruction we
despised His precepts. Now we are sick, we are in distress, we are on
the bed of weakness; yet let us not despair. For because we could not
come to the Physician, He hath vouchsafed to come Himself to us. Tho
despised by man when he was whole, He did not despise him when he was
stricken. He did not leave off to give other precepts to the weak, who
would not keep the first precepts, that he might not be weak; as tho He
would say, "Assuredly thou hast by experience felt that I spoke the
truth when I said, Touch not this. Be healed then now, at length, and
recover the life thou hast lost. Lo, I am bearing thine infirmity; drink
then the bitter cup. For thou hast of thine own self made those my so
sweet precepts, which were given to thee when whole, so toilsome. They
were despised, and so thy distress began; cured thou canst not be,
except thou drink the bitter cup, the cup of temptations, wherein this
life abounds, the cup of tribulation, anguish, and suffering. Drink
then," He says, "drink, that thou mayest live." And that the sick man
may not make answer, "I can not, I can not bear it, I will not drink";
the Physician, all whole tho He be, drinketh first, that the sick man
may not hesitate to drink. For what bitterness is there in this cup
which He hath not drunk? If it be contumely, He heard it first when He
drove out the devils. "He hath a devil, and by Beelzebub He casteth out
devils." Whereupon, in order to comfort the sick, He saith, "If they
have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they
call them of His household?" If pains are this bitter cup, He was bound,
and scourged, and crucified. If death be this bitter cup, He died also.
If infirmity shrink with horror from any particular kind of death, none
was at that time more ignominious than the death of the cross. For it
was not in vain, that the apostle, when setting forth His obedience,
added, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

VIII. But because He designed to honor His faithful ones at the end of
the world, He hath first honored the cross in this world; in such wise
that the princes of the earth who believe in Him have prohibited any
criminal from being crucified; and that cross which the Jewish
persecutors with great mockery prepared for the Lord, even kings, His
servants, at this day, bear with great confidence on their foreheads.
Only the shameful nature of the death which our Lord vouchsafed to
undergo for us is not now so apparent, Who, as the apostle says, "Was
made a curse for us." And when, as He hung, the blindness of the Jews
mocked Him, surely He could have come down from the cross, who, if He
had not so willed, had not been on the cross; but it was a greater thing
to rise from the grave than to come down from the cross. Our Lord, then,
in doing these divine and in suffering these human things, instructs us
by His bodily miracles and bodily patience, that we may believe and be
made whole to behold those things invisible which the eye of the body
hath no knowledge of. With this intent, then, He cured those blind men
of whom the account has just now been read in the Gospel. And consider
what instruction He has by this cure conveyed to the man who is sick

IX. Consider the issue of the thing, and the order of the circumstances.
Those two blind men sitting by the wayside cried out, as the Lord passed
by, that He would have mercy upon them. But they were restrained from
crying out by the multitude which was with the Lord. Now do not suppose
that this circumstance is left without a mysterious meaning. But they
overcame the crowd who kept them back by the great perseverance of their
cry, that their voice might reach the Lord's ears; as tho he had not
already anticipated their thoughts. So then the two blind men cried out
that they might be heard by the Lord, and could not be restrained by the
multitude. The Lord "was passing by," and they cried out. The Lord
"stood still," and they were healed. "For the Lord Jesus stood still,
and called them, and said, What wilt ye that I shall do unto you? They
say unto Him, That our eyes may be opened." The Lord did according to
their faith, He recovered their eyes. If we have now understood by the
sick, the deaf, the dead, the sick, and deaf, and dead within; let us
look out in this place also for the blind within. The eyes of the heart
are closed; Jesus passeth by that we may cry out. What is meant by
"Jesus passeth by?" Jesus is doing things which last but for a time.
What is meant by "Jesus passeth by?" Jesus doth things which pass by.
Mark and see how many things of His have passed by. He was born of the
Virgin Mary; is He being born always? As an infant He was suckled; is He
suckled always? He ran through the successive ages of life until man's
full estate; doth He grow in body always? Boyhood succeeded to infancy,
to boyhood youth, to youth man's full stature in several passing
successions. Even the very miracles which He did are passed by; they are
read and believed. For because these miracles are written that so they
might be read, they passed by when they were being done. In a word, not
to dwell long on this, He was crucified; is He hanging on the cross
always? He was buried, He rose again, He ascended into heaven, now He
dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him. And His divinity
abideth ever, yea, the immortality of His body now shall never fail. But
nevertheless all those things which were wrought by Him in time have
passed by; and they are written to be read, and they are preached to be
believed. In all these things, then, Jesus passeth by.

X. And what are the two blind men by the wayside but the two people to
cure whom Jesus came? Let us show these two people in the Holy
Scriptures. It is written in the Gospel, "Other sheep I have which are
not of this fold; them also must I bring, that there may be one fold and
one Shepherd." Who then are the two people? One the people of the Jews,
and the other of the Gentiles. "I am not sent," He saith, "but unto the
lost sheep of the house of Israel." To whom did He say this? To the
disciples; when that woman of Canaan, who confest herself to be a dog,
cried out that she might be found worthy of the crumbs from the Master's
table. And because she was found worthy, now were the two people to whom
He had come made manifest, the Jewish people, to wit, of whom He said,
"I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; and the
people of the Gentiles, whose type this woman exhibited, whom He had
first rejected, saying, "It is not meet to cast the children's bread to
the dogs"; and to whom, when she said, "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of
the crumbs which fall from their master's table," He answered, "O woman,
great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt." For of this
people also was that centurion of whom the same Lord saith, "Verily I
say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,"
because he had said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my
roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." So then
the Lord even before His passion and glorification pointed out two
people, the one to whom He had come because of the promises to the
Fathers, and the other whom for His mercy's sake He did not reject; that
it might be fulfilled which had been promised to Abraham, "In thy seed
shall all the nations be blessed."

XI. Attend, now, dearly beloved. The Lord was passing by, and the blind
men cried out. What is this "passing by?" As we have already said, He
was doing works which passed by. Now upon these passing works is our
faith built up. For we believe on the Son of God, not only in that He is
the Word of God, by whom all things were made; for if He had always
continued in the form of God, equal with God, and had not emptied
Himself in taking the form of a servant, the blind men would not even
have perceived Him, that they might be able to cry out. But when he
wrought passing works, that is, when He humbled Himself, having become
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, the two blind men
cried out, Have mercy on us, thou Son of David. For this very thing that
He, David's Lord and Creator, willed also to be David's son, He wrought
in time, He wrought passing by.

XII. Now what is it, brethren, to cry out unto Christ, but to correspond
to the grace of Christ by good works? This I say, brethren, lest haply
we cry aloud with our voices, and in our lives be dumb. Who is he that
crieth out to Christ, that his inward blindness may be driven away by
Christ as He is passing by, that is, as He is dispensing to us those
temporal sacraments, whereby we are instructed to receive the things
which are eternal? Who is he that crieth out unto Christ? Whoso
despiseth the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso despiseth the
pleasures of the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso saith, not with
his tongue but with his life, the world is crucified unto me, and I unto
the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso disperseth abroad and giveth to
the poor, that his righteousness may endure forever, crieth out unto
Christ. For let him that hears, and is not deaf to the sound, sell that
ye have, and give to the poor; provide yourselves bags which wax not
old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not; let him as he hears the
sound as it were of Christ's footsteps passing by cry out in response to
this in his blindness; that is, let him do these things. Let his voice
be in his actions. Let him begin to despise the world, to distribute to
the poor his goods, to esteem as nothing worth what other men love, let
him disregard injuries, not seek to be avenged, let him give his cheek
to the smiter, let him pray for his enemies; if any one who have taken
away his goods, let him not ask for them again; if he have taken
anything from any man, let him restore fourfold.

XIII. When he shall begin to do all this, all his kinsmen, relations,
and friends will be in commotion. They who love the world will oppose
him. What madness this! You are too extreme! What! Are not other men
Christians? This is folly, this is madness. And other such like things
do the multitude; cry out to prevent the blind from crying out. The
multitude rebuked them as they cried out; but did not overcome their
cries. Let them who wish to be healed understand what they have to do.
Jesus is now also passing by; let them who are by the wayside cry out.
These are they, who know God with their lips, but their heart is far
from Him. These are by the wayside, to whom, as blinded in heart, Jesus
gave His precepts. For when those passing things which Jesus did are
recounted, Jesus is always represented to us as passing by. For even
unto the end of the world there will not be wanting blind men sitting by
the wayside. Need then there is that they who sit by the wayside should
cry out. The multitude that was with the Lord would repress the crying
of those who were seeking for recovery. Brethren, do you see my meaning?
For I know not how to speak, but still less do I know how to be silent.
I will speak then, and speak plainly. For I fear Jesus passing by and
Jesus standing still; and therefore I can not keep silence. Evil and
unknown Christians hinder good Christians who are truly earnest and wish
to do the commandments of God, which are written in the Gospel. This
multitude which is with the Lord hinders those who are crying out,
hinders those, that is, who are doing well, that they may not by
perseverance be healed. But let them cry out, and not faint; let them
not be led away as if by the authority of numbers; let them not imitate
those who become Christians before them, who live evil lives themselves,
and are jealous of the good deeds of others. Let them not say, "Let us
live as these so many live." Why not rather as the Gospel ordains? Why
dost thou wish to live according to the remonstrances of the multitude
who would hinder them, and not after the steps of the Lord who passeth
by? They will mock, and abuse, and call thee back; do thou cry out till
thou reach the ears of Jesus. For they who shall persevere in doing such
things as Christ hath enjoined, and regard not the multitude that hinder
them, nor think much of their appearing to follow Christ, that is of
their being called Christians; but who love the light which Christ is
about to restore to them more than they fear the uproar of those who are
hindering them; they shall on no account be separated from Him, and
Jesus will stand still, and make them whole.

XIV. For how are our eyes made whole? That as by faith we perceive
Christ passing by in the temporal economy, so we may attain to the
knowledge of Him as standing still in His unchangeable eternity. For
there is the eye made whole when the knowledge of Christ's divinity is
attained. Let your love apprehend this; attend ye to the great mystery
which I am to speak of. All the things which were done by our Lord Jesus
Christ, in time, graft faith in us. We believe on the Son of God, not
on the word only, by whom all things were made; but on this very word,
"made flesh that He might dwell among us"; who was born of the Virgin
Mary; and the rest which the Faith contains, and which are represented
to us that Christ might pass by, and that the blind, hearing His
footsteps as He passeth by, might by their works cry out, by their life
exemplifying the profession of their faith. But now in order that they
who cry out may be made whole, Jesus standeth still. For he saw Jesus
now standing still, who says, "Though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more." For he saw Christ's
divinity as far as in this life is possible. There is then in Christ the
divinity, and the humanity. The divinity standeth still, the humanity
passeth by. What means "the divinity standeth still?" It changeth not,
is not shaken, doth not depart away. For He did not so come to us as to
depart from the Father; nor did He so ascend as to change His place.
When He assumed flesh, it changed place; but God assuming flesh, seeing
He is not in place, doth not change His place. Let us then be touched by
Christ standing still, and so our eyes be made whole. But whose eyes?
The eyes of those who cry out when He is passing by; that is, who do
good works through that faith which hath been dispersed in time, to
instruct in our infancy.

XV. Now what thing more precious can we have than the eye made whole?
They rejoice who see this created light which shines from heaven, or
even that which is given out from a lamp. And how wretched do they seem
who can not see this light? But wherefore do I speak, and talk of all
these things, but to exhort you all to cry out, when Jesus passeth by. I
hold up this light which perhaps ye do not see as an object of love to
you, holy brethren. Believe, while as yet ye see it not; and cry out
that ye may see. How great is thought to be the unhappiness of men who
do not see this bodily light? Does any one become blind; immediately it
is said: "God is angry with him, he has committed some wicked deed." So
said Tobias's wife to her husband. He cried out because of the kid, lest
it had come of theft; he did not like to hear the sound of any stolen
thing in his house; and she, maintaining what she had done, reproached
her husband; and when he said, "Restore it if it be stolen"; she
answered insultingly, "Where are thy righteous deeds?" How great was her
blindness who maintaineth the theft; and how clear a light he saw, who
commanded the stolen thing to be restored! She rejoiced outwardly in the
light of the sun; he inwardly in the light of righteousness. Which of
them was in the better light?

XVI. It is to the love of this light that I would exhort you, beloved;
that ye would cry out by your works, when the Lord passeth by; let the
voice of faith sound out, that Jesus was standing still, that is, the
unchangeable, abiding wisdom of God, and the majesty of the Word of God,
by which all things were made, may open your eyes. The same Tobias, in
giving advice to his son, instructed him to this, to cry out; that is,
he instructed him to good works. He told him to give to the poor,
charged him to give alms to the needy, and taught him, saying, "My son,
alms suffereth not to come into darkness." The blind gave counsel for
receiving and gaining sight. "Alms," saith he, "suffereth not to come
into darkness." Had his son in astonishment answered him, "What then,
father, hast thou not given alms, that thou speakest to me in blindness;
art not thou in darkness, and yet thou dost say to me, Alms suffereth
not to come into darkness?" But no, he knew well what the light was
concerning which he gave his son instruction, he knew well what he saw
in the inner man. The son held out his hand to his father, to enable him
to dwell in heaven.

XVII. To be brief; that I may conclude this sermon, brethren, with a
matter which touches me very nearly, and gives me much pain, see what
crowds there are which rebuke the blind as they cry out. But let them
not deter you. Whosoever among this crowd desire to be healed; for
there are many Christians in name, and in works ungodly; let them not
deter you from good works. Cry out amid the crowds that are restraining
you, and calling you back, and insulting you, whose lives are evil. For
not only by their voices, but by evil works, do wicked Christians
repress the good. A good Christian has no wish to attend the public
shows. In this very thing, that he bridles his desire of going to the
theater, he cries out after Christ, cries out to be healed. Others run
together thither, but perhaps they are heathens or Jews? Ah! indeed, if
Christians went not to the theaters, there would be so few people there
that they would go away for very shame. So then Christians run thither
also, bearing the Holy Name only to their condemnation. Cry out then by
abstaining from going, by repressing in thy heart this worldly
concupiscence; hold on with a strong and persevering cry unto the ears
of the Savior, that Jesus may stand still and heal thee. Cry out amid
the very crowds, despair not of reaching the ears of the Lord. For the
blind man in the Gospel did not cry out in that quarter where no crowd
was, that so they might be heard in that direction, where there was no
impediment from persons hindering them. Amid the very crowds they cried
out; and yet the Lord heard them. And so also do ye even amid sinners,
and sensual men, amid the lovers of the vanities of the world, there
cry out that the Lord may heal you. Go not to another quarter to cry out
unto the Lord, go not to heretics and cry out unto Him there. Consider,
brethren, how in that crowd which was hindering them from crying out,
even there they who cried out were made whole.




John Wyclif, eminent as scholar, preacher, and translator, was born in
1324 in Spresswel, near Richmond, Yorkshire, England. Known as the
"Morning Star of the Reformation" he was a vigorous and argumentative
speaker, exemplifying his own definition of preaching as something which
should be "apt, apparent, full of true feeling, fearless in rebuking
sins, and so addrest to the heart as to enlighten the spirit and subdue
the will." On these lines he organized a band of Bible preachers who
worked largely among the common people.

Much of Wyclif's popularity was due to his clear and simple style. While
not a great orator, he introduced a popular method of preaching that was
widely copied. He died at Lutterworth in 1384. The Church considered him
a heretic, for he taught the right of the individual to form his own
opinions after personal study of the Scriptures. He was the first
Englishman to translate the Bible systematically into his native
Anglo-Saxon. In 1428, by order of Pope Martin V, his bones were exhumed
and burned, and the ashes thrown into the river Swale.



_This is my body_.--Matt. xxvi., 26.

Now understand ye the words of our Savior Christ, as He spake them one
after another--as Christ spake them. For He took bread and blest, and
yet what blest He? The Scripture saith not that Christ took the bread
and blest it, or that He blest the bread which He had taken. Therefore
it seemeth more that He blest His disciples and apostles, whom He had
ordained witnesses of His passion; and in them He left His blest word,
which is the bread of life, as it is written, "Not only in bread liveth
man, but in every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Also
Christ saith, "I am the bread of life that came down from heaven." And
Christ saith also in John, "The words that I have spoken to you are
spirit and life." Therefore it seemeth more that He blest His disciples,
and also His apostles, in whom the bread of life was left more than in
material bread, for the material bread hath an end. As it is written in
the Gospel of Matthew xv. that Christ said, "All things that a man
eateth go down into the belly, and are sent down into the draught;" but
the blessing of Christ kept His disciples and apostles, both bodily and
[ghostly] spiritual. As it is written, that none of them perished but
the son of perdition, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, and often
the Scripture saith that Jesus took bread and brake it, and gave it to
his disciples, and said, "Take ye, eat ye, this is my body that shall be
given for you." But He said not this bread is my body, or that bread
should be given for the life of the world. For Christ saith, What and if
ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? "It is the
Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." Also Christ saith
in the Gospel, "Verily, verily I say unto you except the wheat corn fall
into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth
forth much fruit"

Here men may see by the words of Christ that it behooved that He died in
the flesh, and that in His death was made the fruit of everlasting life
for all them that believe on Him, as it is written "For as by Adam they
all die, even so by Christ shall all live, and every man in his own
order; for as one clearness is in the sun, another in the moon, and a
star in clearness is nothing in comparison to the sun; even so is the
rising again of the dead for we are sown in corruption and shall rise
again incorruptible, we are sown in infirmity, and shall rise again in
strength; we are sown in natural bodies, and shall rise again spiritual
bodies." Then if Christ shall change thus our deadly bodies by death,
and God the Father spared not his own Son, as it is written, but that
death should reign in him as in us, and that he should be translated
into a spiritual body, as the first rising again of dead men; then how
say the hypocrites that take on them to make our Lord's body? Make they
the glorified body? Either make they again the spiritual body which is
risen from death to life or make they the fleshy body as it was before
he suffered death? And if they say also that they make the spiritual
body of Christ, it may not be so, for what Christ said and did, He did
as He was at supper before He suffered His passion; as it is written
that the spiritual body of Christ rose again from death to life. Also
that He ascended up to heaven, and that He will abide there till He come
to judge the quick and the dead. And if they say that they make Christ's
body as it was before He had suffered His passion, then must they needs
grant that Christ is to die yet. For by all Holy Scriptures He was
promised to die, and that He should give lordship of everlasting life.

Furthermore, if they say that Christ made His body of bread, I ask, With
what words made He it? Not with these words, _Hoc est corpus meum_;
that is to say in English, "This is my body," for they are the words of
giving, and not of making, which He said after that He brake the bread;
then parting it among His disciples and apostles. Therefore if Christ
had made of that bread His body, [He] had made it in His blessing, or
else in giving of thanks, and not in the words of giving; for if Christ
had spoken of the material bread that He had in His hands when He said,
_Hoc est corpus meum_, "This is my body," it was made before, or else
the word had been a lie. For if I say, This is my hand, and if it be not
a hand, then am I a liar; therefore seek carefully if ye can find two
words of blessing, or of giving of thanks, wherewith Christ made his
body and blood of the bread and wine. And that all the clerks of the
earth know not, for if ye might find or know those words, then should ye
wax great masters above Christ, and then ye might be givers of His
substance, and as fathers and makers of Him, and that He should worship
you, as it is written, Thou shalt worship thy father and mother. Of such
as desire such worship against God's law, speaketh St. Paul of the man
of sin, that enhanceth himself as if he were God. And he is worshiped
over all things as God, and showeth himself as he were God. Where our
clergy are guilty in this, judge ye or they that know most, for they say
that when ye have said, _Hoc est corpus meum_, that is to say, "This is
my body;" which ye call the words of consecration, or else of making;
and when they are said over the bread, ye say that there is left no
bread, but it is the body of the Lord. So that in the bread there
remaineth nothing but a heap of accidents, as witness ruggedness,
roundness, savor, touching, and tasting, and such other accidents. Then,
if thou sayest that the flesh and blood of Christ, that is to say, his
manhood, is made more, or increased by so much as the ministration of
bread and wine is, the which ye minister--if ye say it is so--then thou
must needs consent that the thing which is not God today shall be God
tomorrow; yea, and that the thing which is without spirit of life, but
groweth in the field by kind, shall be God at another time. And we all
ought to believe that He was without beginning, and without ending; and
not made, for if the manhood of Christ were increased every day by so
much as the bread and wine draweth to that ye minister, He should
increase more in one day by cart-loads than He did in thirty-two years
when He was here in earth.

And if thou makest the body of the Lord in those words, _Hoc est corpus
meum_; that is to say, "This is my body"; and if thou mayest make the
body of the Lord in those words, "This is my body," thou thyself must be
the person of Christ, or else there is a false God; for if it be thy
body as thou sayest, then it is the body of a false knave or of a
drunken man, or of a thief, or of a lecherer, or full of other sins, and
then there is an unclean body for any man to worship for God! For even
if Christ had made there His body of material bread in the said words,
as I know they are not the words of making, what earthly man had power
to do as He did? For in all Holy Scripture, from the beginning of
Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, there are no words written of the
making of Christ's body; but there are written that Christ was the Son
of the Father, and that He was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and that he
took flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, and that He was dead, and that
He rose again from death on the third day, and that He ascended to
heaven very God and man, and that we should believe in all Scriptures
that are written of Him, and that He is to come to judge the quick and
the dead, and that the same Christ Jesus, King and Savior, was at the
beginning with the Father and the Holy Ghost, making all things of
naught, both heaven and earth, and all things that are therein; working
by word of His virtue, for He said, Be it done, and it was done, whose
works never earthly man might comprehend, either make. And yet the words
of the making of these things are written in the beginning of Genesis,
even as God spake them; and if ye can not make the work that He made,
and have the word by which He made it, how shall ye make Him that made
the works? You have no words of authority or power left you on earth by
which ye should do this, but ye have feigned this craft of your false
errors, which some of you understand not; for it is prophesied, "They
shall have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not; and shall see
prophesies, and shall not understand, less they be converted; for I hide
them from the hearts of those people; their hearts are greatly fatted."
And this thing is done to you for the wickedness of your errors in
unbelief; therefore be ye converted from the worst sin, as it is
written, "When Moses was in the hill with God," the people made a calf
and worshiped it as God. And God spake to Moses, "Go, for the people
have done the worst sin to make and worship alien gods."

But now I shall ask you a word; answer ye me, Whether is the body of the
Lord made at once or at twice? Is it both the flesh and the blood in the
host of the bread; or else is the flesh made at one time, and the blood
made at another time; that is to say, the wine in the chalice? If thou
wilt say it is full and wholly the manhood of Christ in the host of
bread, both flesh and blood, skin, hair, and bones, then makest thou us
to worship a false god in the chalice, which is unconjured when ye
worship the bread; and if ye say the flesh is in the bread, and the
blood in the wine, then thou must grant, if thy craft be true, as it is
not indeed, that the manhood of Christ is parted, and that He is made at
two times. For first thou takest the host of bread, or a piece of bread,
and makest it as ye say, and the innocent people worship it. And then
thou takest to thee the chalice, and likewise marrest, makest, I would
have said, the blood in it, and then they worship it also, and if it be
so as I am sure that the flesh and blood of Christ ascended, then are ye
false harlots to God and to us; for when we shall be houselled ye bring
to us the dry flesh, and let the blood be away; for ye give us after the
bread, wine and water, and sometimes clean water unblest, or rather
conjured, by the virtue of your craft; and yet ye say, under the host of
bread is the full manhood of Christ. Then by your own confession must it
needs be that we worship a false god in the chalice, which is unconjured
when we worship the bread, and worship the one as the other; but where
find ye that ever Christ or any of His disciples taught any man to
worship this bread or wine?

Therefore, what shall we say of the apostles that were so much with
Christ, and were called by the Holy Ghost; had they forgotten to set it
in the creed when they made it, which is Christian men's belief? Or else
we might say that they knew no such God, for they believe in no more
gods but in Him that was at the beginning, and made of naught all
things visible and invisible, which Lord took flesh and blood, being in
the Virgin, the same God. But ye have many false ways, to beguile the
innocent people with sleights of the fiend.

For ye say that in every host each piece is the whole manhood of Christ,
or full substance of Him. For ye say as a man may take a glass, and
break the glass into many pieces, and in every piece properly thou
mayest see thy face, and yet thy face is not parted; so ye say the
Lord's body is in each host or piece, and His body is not parted. And
this is a full subtle question to beguile an innocent fool, but will ye
take heed of this subtle question, how a man may take a glass and behold
the very likeness of his own face, and yet it is not his face, but the
likeness of his face; for if it were his very face, then he must needs
have two faces, one on his body and another in the glass. And if the
glass were broken in many places, so there should be many faces more by
the glass than by the body, and each man shall make as many faces to
them as they would; but as ye may see the mind or likeness of your face,
which is not the very face; but the figure thereof, so the bread is the
figure or mind of Christ's body in earth, and therefore Christ said, As
oft as ye do this thing do it in mind of me.

Also ye say this, As a man may light many candles at one candle, and
yet the light of that candle is never the more nor ever the less; so ye
say that the manhood of Christ descendeth into each part of every host,
and the manhood of Christ is never the more nor less. Where then
becometh your ministrations? For if a man light many candles at one
candle, as long as they burn there will be many candles lighted, and as
well the last candle as the first; and so by this reason, if ye shall
fetch your word at God, and make God, there must needs be many gods, and
that is forbidden in the first commandment, Exod. xx. And as for making
more, either making less, of Christ's manhood, it lieth not in your
power to come there nigh, neither to touch it, for it is ascended into
heaven in a spiritual body, which He suffered not Mary Magdalen to
touch, when her sins were forgiven to her.

Therefore all the sacraments that are left here in earth are but minds
of the body of Christ, for a sacrament is no more to say but a sign or
mind of a thing passed, or a thing to come; for when Jesus spake of the
bread, and said to His disciples, As ye do this thing, do it in mind of
me, it was set for a mind of good things passed of Christ's body; but
when the angel showed to John the sacraments of the woman and of the
beast that bare her, it was set for a mind of evil things to come on the
face of the earth, and great destroying of the people of God. And in
the old law there were many figures or minds of things to come. For
before Christ, circumcision was commanded by a law; and he that kept not
the law was slain. And yet St. Paul saith, "And neither is it
circumcision that is openly in the flesh, but he that is circumcised of
heart in spirit, not the letter whose praising is not of men, but of
God." Peter saith in the third chapter of his epistle, "And so baptism
of like form maketh not us safe, but the putting away of the filthiness
of the flesh, and the having of good conscience in God by the rising
again of our Lord Jesus Christ from death, that we should be made heirs
of everlasting life, He went up into heaven, and angels, and powers, and
virtues, are made subjects to Him."

And also the Scripture saith of John Baptist, that he preached in the
wilderness and said, "A stronger than I shall come after me, and I am
not worthy to kneel down and unlace His shoe;" and yet Christ said that
he was more than a prophet. See also Isaiah xl., Matt. xi. How may ye
then say that ye are worthy to make His body, and yet your works bear
witness that ye are less than the prophets? for if ye were not, ye
should not teach the people to worship the sacraments or minds of Christ
for Christ himself; which sacraments or figures are lawful as God taught
them and left them unto us, as the sacrifices or minds of the old law
were full good. As it is written, "They that kept them should live in
them." And so the bread that Christ brake was left to us for mind of
things passed for the body of Christ, that we should believe He was a
very man in kind as we are, but as God in power, and that His manhood
was sustained by food as ours. For St. Paul saith He was very man, and
in form he was found as man. And so we must believe that He was very God
and very man together, and that He ascended up very God and very man to
heaven, and that He shall be there till He come to doom the world. And
we may not see him bodily, being in this life, as it is written, Peter i.,
for he saith, "Whom ye have not seen ye love, into whom ye now not
seeing believe." And John saith in the first chapter of his Gospel, "No
man saw God; none but the only begotten Son that is in the bosom of the
Father, He hath told it out." And John saith in his first epistle, the
third chapter, "Every man that sinneth seeth not him, neither knoweth
him." By what reason then say ye that are sinners that ye make God?
truly this must needs be the worst sin, to say that ye make God, and it
is the abomination of discomfort that is said in Daniel the prophet to
be standing in the holy place; he that readeth let him understand.

Also Luke saith that Christ took the cup after that He had supped, and
gave thanks and said, "This cup is the new testament in my blood that
shall be shed unto the remission of sins for man." Now, what say ye; the
cup which He said was the new testament in His blood, was it a material
cup in which the wine was that He gave his disciples wine of, or was it
His most blest body in which the blest blood was kept till it was shed
out for the sins of them that should be made safe by His passion? Needs
must we say that He spake of His holy body, as He did when He called His
passion or suffering in body a cup, when He prayed to His father, before
He went to His passion, and said, "If it be possible that this cup pass
from me, but if thou wilt that I drink it, thy will be done?" He spake
not here of the material cup in which He had given His disciples drink;
for it troubled not Him, but He prayed for His great sufferance and
bitter death, the which He suffered for our sins and not for His own.
And if He spake of His holy body and passion when He said, "This cup is
the new testament in my blood," so He spake of His holy body when He
said, "This is my body which shall be given for you," and not of the
material bread which He had in His hand. Also in another place He called
His passion a cup, where the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him, and
asked of Him that her two sons, when He came to His kingdom, might sit
one on His right, and one at His left side. And He answered and said,
"Woman, thou wottest not what thou asketh; then He said to them, May ye
drink of the cup that I shall drink? and they said, Yea, Lord. And He
said, Ye shall drink of my cup, but to sit on my right hand or left hand
it is not mine to give, but to the Father it is proper." But in that He
said, Ye shall drink of my cup, He promised them to suffer tribulation
of this world as He did, by the which they should enter into life
everlasting, and to be both on his right hand. And thus ye may see that
Christ spake not of the material cup, neither of himself, nor of his
apostles, neither of material bread, neither of material wine. Therefore
let every man wisely, with meek prayers, and great study, and also
charity, read the words of God and holy Scriptures; but many of you are
like the mother of Zebedee's sons to whom Christ said, "Thou knowest not
what thou askest." So, many of you know not what ye ask, nor what you
do; for if ye did, ye would not blaspheme God as ye do, to set an alien
God instead of the living God. Also Christ saith, "I am a very vine;
wherefore then worship ye not the vine God, as ye do the bread? Wherein
was Christ a very vine, or wherein was the bread Christ's body, in
figurative speech, which is hidden to the understanding? Then if Christ
became not a material or an earthly vine, neither did a material vine
become His body. So neither the bread, material bread, was changed from
its substance to the flesh and blood of Christ."

Have ye not read in John the second, when Christ came into the temple,
they asked of Him what token He would show, that they might believe Him.
And He answered them, "Cast down this temple, and in three days I shall
raise it again;" which words were fulfilled in His rising again from
death; but when He said, "Undo this temple," in that that He said this,
they were in error, for they understood it fleshly, and had supposed
that He had spoken of the temple of Jerusalem, because He stood in it.
And therefore they accused Him at His passion full falsely. For He spake
of the temple of His blest body, which rose again in the third day. And
right so Christ spake of His holy body when He said, "This is my body


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