« AnteriorContinuar »
The Holy Ghost present in Baptism.
LECT. of baptism, when thou goest to the Bishops, or Presbyters, or Deacons,-(for its grace is every where, in villages and in cities, on them of low as on them of high degree, on bondsmen and on freemen, for this grace is not of men, but the gift is from God through men,)—approach the Minister of Baptism, but approaching, think not of the face of him thou seest, but remember that Holy Ghost of whom we are now speaking. For He is present in readiness to seal thy soul, and He shall give thee that Seal at which evil spirits tremble, Eph. 1, a heavenly and sacred seal, as also it is written, In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
36. Yet He tries the soul. He casts not pearls before vid. sup. swine; if thou pretend, though men baptize thee, the Holy Lect. 2. Spirit will not. But if thou approach with faith, while men minister outwardly, the Holy Ghost bestows that which is unseen. Thou art coming to a great trial, to a great muster, in that one hour, which if thou throw away, thy disaster is irretrievable; but if thou be counted worthy of grace, thy soul will be illuminated, thou wilt receive a might which thou hadst not, thou wilt receive weapons terrible to the evil spirits; and if thou cast not away thine arms, but keep the Seal upon thy soul, no evil spirit will approach thee; for he will be cowed; for by the Spirit of God are the evil spirits
37. If thou believe, thou shalt not only receive remission of (18.) sins, but do also things which pass man's power. And mayest thou be worthy of the gift of prophecy also! For thou shalt receive grace according to the measure of thy capacity and not of my words; for I may possibly speak of but small things, yet thou mayest receive greater. For faith is a wide field. All thy life long will the Comforter abide with thee; He will care for thee, as for His own soldier, concerning thy goings out, and thy comings in, and thy plotting foes. And He will give gifts of grace of every kind, if thou grieve Him not by sin; Eph. 4, for it is written, And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,
whereby ye have been sealed unto the day of redemption. What then, beloved, is it to preserve grace? Be ye ready to receive grace, and when ye have received it, cast it not away.
38. And may the God of All, who spake by the Holy Ghost through the prophets, who sent Him forth upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, in this place, send Him forth at this time also upon you; and by Him keep us also, imparting His benefit in common to all of us, so that we may ever render up the fruits of the Holy Ghost, love, joy, peace, long- Gal. 5, suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, in Christ Jesus our Lord:-By whom and with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory to the Father, both now, and ever, and for ever and ever. Amen.
ON THE RESURRECTION OF the flesh, THE CATHOLIC
EZEKIEL XXxvii. 1.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones.
1. THE root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of recompence nerves the soul to good works. For labourers of every kind are ready to undergo toils, if they see their reward in prospect; but when men weary themselves for nought, their heart as well as their body sinks early. The soldier who expects a prize is ready for war, but no one is forward to die for a king who is indifferent about those who serve under him, and bestows no honours on their toils. In like manner every soul believing in the Resurrection, is, as is natural, careful of itself; but, disbelieving it, abandons itself to perdition. He who believes that his body shall remain to be raised again, is careful of his robe, and defiles it not with fornication; but he who disbelieves the Resurrection, gives himself to fornication, and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own. Faith therefore in the Resurrection of the dead, is a great doctrine and lesson of the Holy Catholic Church; a great and most necessary point gainsayed by many, but surely warranted by the v.Cat.iv. truth. Greeks contradict it, Samaritans disbelieve it, heretics disparage it; the contradiction is manifold, but the truth is uniform.
2. Now Greeks and Samaritans together reason with us thus. The dead man falls, and moulders away, and is all
Difficulties of the Resurrection answered.
turned into worms; and the worms perish also; so great is the decay and destruction, which is the portion of the body; how then is it to be raised? The shipwrecked are devoured by fishes, which are themselves devoured. Of them who fight with wild beasts, the very bones are ground to powder and consumed by bears and lions. Vultures and ravens feed on the flesh of the unburied dead, and then fly abroad over all the world; from what places then is the body brought together? For of the fowls who have devoured it, some may chance to die in India, some in Persia, some in the land of the Goths; other men again are consumed by fire, and their very ashes scattered by the rain or wind; whence is the body brought together again?
3. To thee, poor feeble man, India is far from the land of (2.) the Goths, and Spain from Persia; but to God who holds the whole earth in the hollow of His hand, all things are near at Isa. 40, hand. Impute not then weakness to God, from a comparison 12. of thy feebleness, but rather dwell on His power. Moreover, does the sun, a small work of God, by one glance of his beams give warmth to the whole world; does the atmosphere, which God has made, encompass all things in the world; and is God then, who is the Creator both of the sun, and of the atmosphere, removed very far off from the earth? Imagine a mixture of seeds of different plants; (for as thou art weak as concerning the faith, the examples which I allege are such also ;) and that these different seeds are contained in thy single hand; is it then to thee who art a man, a difficult or an easy matter to distinguish what is in thine hand, and to bring each seed together according to its nature, and to assign it to its own kind? Canst thou then distinguish between things in thine hand, and cannot God distinguish between the things in His hand, and assign them their proper place? Consider what I say; is it not impious to deny it?
4. Further, attend to the very principle of justice, and consider with thyself. Thou hast different sorts of servants: and some are good and some bad; thou honourest therefore the good, and smitest the bad. And if thou art a judge, to the good thou awardest praise, and to the transgressors, punishment. Is then justice by thee observed a mortal man;
242 Resurrection probable from God's justice, and man's expectation.
LECT. and with God, who is the ever-enduring King of all, is there no retributive justice? To deny it is impious. For consider what I say. Many murderers die in their beds unpunished; where then is the righteousness of God? Yea, ofttimes a murderer guilty of fifty murders, is beheaded once; how then shall he suffer punishment for the forty and nine? Unless there is a judgment and a retribution after this world, thou chargest God with unrighteousness. Marvel not, however, because of the delay of judgment; no combatant is crowned or disgraced, till the contest is over, and no president of the games ever crowns men while yet striving, but he waits till all the combatants are finished, that then deciding between them, he may dispense the prizes and the chaplets. Even thus God also, so long as the strife in this world lasts, succours the just but partially, but afterwards He assigns to them their rewards fully.
(3.) 5. But if, according to thee there is no resurrection of the dead, wherefore condemnest thou the violators of graves? For if the body perishes, and there is no resurrection to be hoped for, why does the violator of the tomb undergo punishment? Thou seest that though thou deny the resurrection with thy lips, there yet abides with thee an indestructible instinct in its behalf?
6. Further, does a tree after it has been cut down blossom again, and shall man not blossom again when cut down? And does the corn sown and reaped remain to the threshing floor, and shall man when reaped from this world not remain for the threshing? And do shoots of vine or other trees, when clean cut off and transplanted, come to life and bear fruit; and shall man then, for whose sake all these are, fall into the earth and not rise again? Comparing efforts, which is greater, to mould in the outset a statue which was not, or to recast it after the same model when fallen to pieces. Cannot God then, who created us out of nothing, raise us again, who are and who decay? But thou believest not what is written of the Resurrection, being a Greek: then from the analogy of nature consider these matters, and understand them from what is seen at this day. Wheat, it may be, or some other kind of grain, is sown; and when it is cast, it dies and rots, and is henceforth useless for food. But that which has