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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

15



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

Spirit is meant, the Spirit, namely, which com-
pletes 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 analo-
gous to the Hebrew term, it was a nearer ap-
proach 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 gra-
cious aspect. The heavens, until then en-
veloped in darkness, appeared with that
beauty which they still present to our eyes.

16



BASIL



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 exti'eme
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 trans-
parent 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 con-
ceive, it receives these rays of light in its
uttermost limits. With light the ether be-
comes more pleasing and the waters more
limpid. These last, not content with receiv-
ing its splendor, return it by the reflection
of light and in all directions send forth quiv-
ering 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

1—2 17



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 good-
ness? The word, even among us, refers the
judgment to the eyes, incapable of raising
itself to the idea that the senses have al-
ready received. But if beauty in bodies re-
sults 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 min-
gling 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 beau-
tiful brightness which meets our eyes. And
further, when God proclaimed the goodness

18



BASIL



of light, it was not in regard to the charm of
the eye, but as a provision for future advan-
tage, because at that time there were as yet
no eyes to judge of its beauty.

' ' And God divided the light from the dark-
ness. ' ' 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 disappear-
ance is night. But at that time it was not
after the movement of the sun, but fol-
lowing 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 privi-
leges 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 re-
ceive its name until after day. Thus were

19



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 meas-
ure of time is counted by days without
mention of nights. ''The daj^s 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 con-
tain. 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 cir-
cumscribe 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

20



BASIL



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 deter-
mined 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, form-
ing 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," w^e 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 else-
where, "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."

21



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 sam.e 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 con-
temporary of light, the holy Lord's day.
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 dis-
course. May the Father of the true light,
who has adorned day with celestial light,
who has made to shine the fires which illu-
minate 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.

22



CHRYSOSTOM

EXCESSIVE GRIEF AT THE DEATH OF
FRIENDS



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

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 Li-
banius, 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 great-
est preacher in the Eastern Church.
Raised to the metropolitan See of Con-
stantinople 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 re-
moved again, and shortly after died, in
407. He was a great exegete, and showed
a spirit of intellectual liberty which an-
ticipated modern criticism. Sermons to
the number of one thousand have been
attributed to him.



CHRYSOSTOM

347—407

EXCESSIVE GRIEF AT THE DEATH OF
FRIENDS

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, con-
cerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not.
—I Thess. iv., 13.

WE have occupied four days in ex-
plaining to you the parable of Laza-
rus, 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 w^akeful. 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

25



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 uni-
verse. But to avoid wearying you and re-
serving 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 con-
cerning 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 Laza-
rus is the evangelical chord; this passage is
the apostolic note. And there is concord be-
tween 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

26



CHRYSOSTOM



reflect on the decisions which will be here-
after pronounced, and on that fearful judg-
ment, and that Judge who can not be de-
ceived. 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



27



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 speak-
ing 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 men-
tions 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 per-
son is in some sort asleep ; but not so the soul
of a dead man ; that is awake.

But, you say, a dead man experiences cor-
ruption, 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

28



CHRYSOSTOM



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 succeed.

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 destruc-
tion 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 corrup-
tion, 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 bod}^ formed of clay, he
returns to you a golden and immortal statue ;
for the earth, receiving a corruptible and de-
caying body gives back the same, incorrupt-
ible and undecaying. Look not, therefore,
on the corpse, lying with closed eyes and

29



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

speechless lips, but on the man that is risen,
that has received glory unspeakable and. ama-
zing, and direct your thoughts from the
present sight to the future hope.

But do you miss his society, and therefore
lament and mourn? Now is it not unreason-
able, that, if you should have given your
daughter in marriage, and her husband
should take her to a distant country and
should there enjoy prosperit}^, you would not
think the circumstance a calamity, but the in-
telligence 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 mani Nor do I
say that you should not grieve : I do not con-
demn dejection, but the intensity of it. To
be dejected is natural ; but to be overcome by
dejection is madness, and foll}^, 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 oppor-
tunity 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;

30



CHRYSOSTOM



but if you are grateful, you pay respect to
him, you glorify God, and you benefit your-
self. Weep, as wept your Master over Laza-
rus, 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 con-
cerning 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 resurrec-
tion? 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 resurrec-
tion. 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.

31



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 wicked-
ness 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. Be-
cause 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 de-
parting, yield not to despondency; give thy-
self to reflection; examine thy conscience;

32



AUGUSTINE

354—430

THE RECOVERY OF SIGHT BY THE
BLIND

Have mercy on us, Lord, thou Son of David. —
Matt. XX., 30.

IYe 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 weak-
ness of our natures, that our w^eakness might
not last forever. For He assumed a mortal
body, wherein to kill death. And, ''though
He was crucified through w^eakness," as the
apostle saith, yet He "liveth by the power of
God." They are the w'ords, 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
w^e should know that all the miracles which
He did on the body avail to our instruction,
that we may from them perceive that w^hich
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

1—4 49



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

whatever He did for the health of bodies, He
did it not to this end that they should be for-
ever ; whereas, at the last, He will give eternal
health even to the body itself. But because
those thing's 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


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