He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
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Wherefore they said those things, and also these. If He is the king of Israel, let Him come down now from the cross. He saved others, Himself He cannot save, Matthew 27:42 aiming hereby to bring discredit even on His former miracles. And again, If He be Son of God, and He will have Him, let Him save Him.
O execrable; most execrable! What, were not the prophets prophets, nor the righteous men righteous, because God rescued them not out of their dangers. Nay surely they were, though suffering these things. What then could be equal to your folly? For if the coming of the dangers upon them did not injure their honor with you, how much more in the case of this man, was it wrong for you to be offended, when both by what He did, by what He said, He was ever correcting beforehand this suspicion of yours.
Yet nevertheless, even when these things were said and done, they prevailed nothing, not even at the very time. At any rate, he, who was depraved in such great wickedness, and who had spent his whole life in murders and house-breakings, when these things were being said, then confessed Him, and made mention of a kingdom, and the people bewailed Him. And yet the things that were done seemed to testify the contrary in the eyes of those who knew not the mysterious dispensations, that He was weak and of no power, nevertheless truth prevailed even by the contrary things.
Hearing then these things, let us arm ourselves against all rage, against all anger. Should thou perceive your heart swelling, seal your breast setting upon it the cross. Call to mind some one of the things that then took place, and you will cast out as dust all rage by the recollection of the things that were done. Consider the words, the actions; consider that He is Lord, and thou servant. He is suffering for you, thou for yourself; He in behalf of them who had been benefited by Him and had crucified Him, thou in behalf of yourself; He in behalf of them who had used Him despitefully, thou oftentimes at the hands of them who have been injured. He in the sight of the whole city, or rather of the whole people of the Jews, both strangers, and those of the country, before whom He spoke those merciful words, but thou in the presence of few; and what was more insulting to Him, that even His disciples forsook Him. For those, who before paid Him attention, had deserted Him, but His enemies and foes, having got Him in the midst of themselves on the cross, insulted, reviled, mocked, derided, scoffed at Him, Jews and soldiers from below, from above thieves on either side: for indeed the thieves insulted, and upbraided Him both of them. How then says Luke that one rebuked? Luke 23:40 Both things were done, for at first both upbraided Him, but afterwards one did so no more. For that you might not think the thing had been done by any agreement, or that the thief was not a thief, by his insolence he shows you, that up on the cross he was a thief and an enemy, and at once was changed.
Considering then all these things, control yourself. For what do you suffer like what your Lord suffered? Were you publicly insulted? But not like these things. Are you mocked? Yet not your whole body, not being thus scourged, and stripped. And even if you were buffeted, yet not like this.
And add to this, I pray you, by whom, and wherefore, and when, and who it was; and (the most grievous matter) that these things being done, no one found fault, no one blamed what was done, but on the contrary all rather approved, and joined in mocking Him and in jeering at Him; and as a boaster, impostor, and deceiver, and not able to prove in His works the things that He said, so did they revile Him. But He held His peace to all, preparing for us the most powerful incentives to long suffering.
But we, though hearing such things, are not patient so much as to servants, but we rush and kick worse than wild asses, with respect to injuries against ourselves, being savage and inhuman; but of those against God not making much account. And with respect to friends too we have the same disposition; should any one vex us, we bear it not; should he insult us, we are savage more than wild beasts, we who are reading these things every day. A disciple betrayed Him, the rest forsook Him and fled, they that had been benefited by Him spat at Him, the servants of the high priest smote Him with the palm of the hand, the soldiers buffeted Him; they that passed by jeered Him and reviled Him, the thieves accused Him; and to no man did He utter a word, but by silence overcame all; instructing you by His actions, that the more meekly you shall endure, the more will you prevail over them that do you evil, and will be an object of admiration before all. For who will not admire him that endures with forbearance the insults he receives from them that are using him despitefully? For even as, though any man suffer justly, yet enduring the evil meekly, he is considered by the more part to suffer unjustly; so though one suffer unjustly, yet if he be violent, he will get the suspicion of suffering justly, and will be an object of ridicule, as being dragged captive by his anger, and losing his own nobility. For such a one, we must not call so much as a freeman, though he be lord over ten thousand servants.
But did some person exceedingly provoke you? And what of that? For then should self-control be shown, since when there is no one to vex, we see even the wild beasts gentle; for neither are they always savage, but when any one rouses them. And we therefore, if we are only then quiet, when there is no one provoking us, what advantage have we over them. For they are both oftentimes justly indignant, and have much excuse, for by being stirred and goaded are they roused, and besides these things they are devoid of reason, and have savageness in their nature.
But whence, I pray you, can you find a plea for being savage and fierce? What hardship have you suffered? Have you been robbed? For this self-same reason should you endure it, so as to gain more amply. But were you deprived of character? And what is this? Your condition is in no way worsened by this, if you practise self-command. But if you suffer no grievance, whence are you angry with him that has done you no harm, but has even benefited you? For they who honor, make them that are not watchful the more vain; but they who insult and despise render those that take heed to themselves more steadfast. For the careless are more injured by being honored than by being insulted. And the one set of persons, if we be sober, become to us authors of self-control, but the others excite our pride, they fill us with boastfulness, vainglory, folly, they make our soul the feebler.
And to this fathers bear witness, who do not flatter their own children so much as they chide them, fearing lest from the praise they should receive any harm, and their teachers use the same remedy to them. So that if we are to avoid any one, it should be those that flatter us rather than those that insult us; for this bait brings greater mischief than insult to them, who do not take heed, and it is more difficult to control this feeling than that. And the reward too is far more abundant from thence, and the admiration greater. For indeed it is more worthy of admiration to see a man insulted, and not moved, than beaten and smitten, and not falling.
And how is it possible not to be moved? One may say. Hath any one insulted you? Place the sign upon your breast, call to mind all the things that were then done; and all is quenched. Consider not the insults only, but if also any good has been ever done unto you, by him that has insulted you, and straightway you will become meek, or rather consider before all things the fear of God, and soon you will be mild and gentle.
Together with these things even from your own servants take a lesson concerning these matters; and when you see yourself insulting, but your servant holding his peace, consider that it is possible to practise self-control, and condemn yourself for being violent; and in the very time of offering insults learn not to insult; and thus not even when insulted, will you be vexed. Consider that he who is insolent is beside himself and mad, and you will not feel indignant, when insulted, since the possessed strike us, and we, so far from being provoked, do rather pity them. This do thou also; pity him that is insolent to you, for he is held in subjection by a dreadful monster, rage, by a grievous demon, anger. Set him free as he is wrought upon by a grievous demon, and going quickly to ruin. For so great is this disease as not to need even time for the destruction of him that is seized with it. Wherefore also one said, The sway of his fury shall be his fall; Sirach 1:22 by this most of all showing its tyranny, that in a short time it works great ills, and needs not to continue long with us, so that if in addition to its strength it were apt to last, it would indeed be hard to strive against.
I should like to show what the man is who insults, what he that practises self-control, and to bring nakedly before you the soul of the one and the other. For you should see the one like a sea tost with a tempest, but the other like a harbor free from disturbance. For it is not disturbed by these evil blasts, but puts them to rest easily. For indeed they who are insulting, do everything in order to make it sting. When then they fail of that hope, even they are thenceforth at peace, and go away amended. For it is impossible that a man, who is angry, should not utterly condemn himself, even as on the other hand it is impossible for one who is not angry to be self-condemned. For though it be necessary to retaliate, it is possible to do this without anger (and it were more easy and more wise than with anger) and to have no painful feeling. For if we be willing, the good things will be from ourselves, and we shall be with the grace of God sufficient for our own safety and honor.
For why do you seek the glory that comes from another? Do thou honor yourself, and no one will be able to insult you; but if you dishonor yourself, though all should honor you, you will not be honored. For like as, unless we put ourselves in an evil state, no one else puts us in such a state; even so unless we insult ourselves, no one else can put us to shame.
For let any man be great and worthy of admiration, and let all men call him an adulterer, a thief, a violater of tombs, a murderer, a robber, and let him be neither provoked or indignant, nor be conscious to himself of any of these crimes, what disgrace will he thence undergo? None. What then, you may say, if many have such an opinion of him? Not even so is he disgraced, but they bring shame upon themselves, by accounting one, who is not such, to be such. For tell me, if any one think the sun to be dark, does he bring an ill name on that heavenly body, or on himself? Surely on himself, getting himself the character of being blind or mad. So also they that account wicked men good, and they that make the opposite error, disgrace themselves.
Wherefore we ought to give the greater diligence, to keep our conscience clear, and to give no handle against ourselves, nor matter for evil suspicion; but if others will be mad, even when this is our disposition, not to care very much, nor to grieve. For he that has got the character of a wicked man, being a good man, is in no degree thereby hurt as regards his being such as he is; but he that has been suspecting another vainly and causelessly, receives the utmost harm; as, on the other hand, the wicked man, if he be supposed to be the contrary, will gain nothing thence, but will both have a heavier judgment, and be led into greater carelessness. For he that is such and is suspected thereof, may perhaps be humbled, and acknowledge his sins; but when he escapes detection, he falls into a state past feeling. For if, while all are accusing them, offenders are hardly stirred up to compunction, when so far from accusing them, some even praise them, at what time will they who are living in vice be able to open their eyes? Do you hear that Paul also blames for this, that the Corinthians (so far from permitting him that had been guilty of fornication, to acknowledge his own sin), applauding and honoring him, did on the contrary urge him on in vice thereby? Wherefore, I pray, let us leave the suspicions of the multitude, their insults and their honors, and let us be diligent about one thing only, that we be conscious to ourselves of no evil thing, nor insult our own selves. For so both here, and in the world to come, we shall enjoy much glory, unto which God grant we all may attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.