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it; which can comfort the afflicted soul, and
bid us be of good cheer concerning the de-

35



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

parted, 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 righ^:-
eously. 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 be-
wail the departed is senseless and hurtful.
Let us not, then, reverse the order, but be-
wail 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

36



CHRYSOSTOM



watchful, will be the occasions of adding to
our crowns.

But how is it possible, you ask, that a be-
reaved 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



37



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

flower of life; having shown so much virtue;
expiring as by a stroke of vengeance; that
after so many sorrows this last should be in-
flicted ; that the father was fond of them, and
that the deceased were w^orthy 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 par-
ticularly 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 impor-
tant 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, show-
ing 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 in-
tensity. Still further; when children are torn
away separately, the suffering has some con-
solation; for those that are left alleviate the
sorrow over the departed ; but when the whole

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circle is gone, to what one of all his numer-
ous 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 be-
wail this most of all, that the deceased was
taken away from their sight speedily and sud-
denly, much more might he have been dis-
trest, 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 hap-
pens 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 un-
timely bereavements, and productive of
grief on many scores. The instance we are
contemplating w^as 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; be 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

39



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

away, the head cnisht, 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 fra-
ming golden images adorns them with great
care, so he sought properly to mold and adorn
their souls. And as a husbandman as-
siduously waters his palm-trees, or olives, in-
closing them and cultivating them in every
suitable way; so he perpetually sought to en-
rich each one's soul, as a fruitful olive, with
increasing virtue. But he saw the trees over-
thrown by the assault of the evil spirit, and
exposed on the earth, and enduring that mis-

40



CHRYSOSTOM



erable kind of death; yet he uttered no re-
viling 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 w^ound 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 woulclst 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

41



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 as-
cended, 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, w^hen 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, w^hile his heart w^as
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 race-
course, 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. W^hat language
can describe his fortitude? He brought for-
ward his son, bound him, placed him on the

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CHRYSOSTOM



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 be-
come 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 pur-
pose. 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

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THE WORLD»S GREAT SERMONS

nature, before all things, and even life it-
self. 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 prompt-
ness and submitting to Him in all things,
and yet we murmur at His dispensations?
Tell me not of grief, nor of the intol-
erable nature of your calamity; rather con-
sider how in the midst of bitter sorrow you
may yet rise superior to it. That w^hich
was commanded to Abraham was enough to
stagger his reason, to throw him into per-
plexity, 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 par-
ticularly, that after so much virtue, after
his alms and various acts of kindness to men,
and tho aware of no wrong either in him-
self 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

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CHRYSOSTOM



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
Avhat has been said, obtain requisite consola-
tion. As soldiers, even in peace, perform war-
like 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

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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.



46



AUGUSTINE

THE RECOVERY OF SIGHT BY THE
BLIND



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Saint Augustine (Aurelius Aug-ustinus),
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 Pela-
gians. His sermons, powerful as they
are, disappoint the modern reader by
their fantastic and allegorical interpreta-
tion of Scripture, but his '■ ' Confessions, ' '
in which he details the history of his
early life and conversion, present a won-
derful picture of personal experience. He
was the Rousseau of the Christian fourth
century, and is styled by Harnack ''the
first modern man. ' ' He died at Hippo in
430.



AUGUSTINE



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 foot-
steps 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 be-
gin to despise the world, to distribute to the
poor his goods, to esteem as nothing worth
what other men love, let him disregard in-
juries, 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.

I— S 65



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 re-
counted, 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 Gc pel. 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 b}^ perseverance be healed.
But let them cry out, and not faint ; let them
not be led away as if by the authority of



AUGUSTINE



numbers; let them not imitate those who be-
come 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 mul-
titude 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 re-
store 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 mys-
tery 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



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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

Son of God, not on the word only, by whom
all things were made; but on this very w^ord,
^'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 di-
vinity as far as in this life is possible. There
is then in Christ the divinity, and the hu-
manity. The divinity standeth still, the
humanity passeth by. What means "the di-
vinity standeth still T ' 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.

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AUGUSTINE



XV. Now what thing more precious can
we have than the eye made whole? They re-
joice 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 where-
fore 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 per-
haps 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 right-
eous 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 Hght that I



69



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

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 de-

70



AUGUSTINE



sire to be healed ; for there are many Chris-
tians 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 Chris-
tians repress the good. A good Christian has
no wish to attend the public shows. In this


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