Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 


15. He had said, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? Even by keeping Thy words.” Behold he now more openly asketh aid that he may do this: “Reward,” he saith, “Thy servant: let me live, and keep Thy word” (Psa. 119.17)…It this reward that he asketh, who saith, “Reward Thy servant.” For there are four modes of reward: either evil for evil, as God will reward everlasting fire to the unrighteous; or good for good, as He will reward an everlasting kingdom to the righteous; or good for evil, as Christ by grace justifieth the ungodly; or evil for good, as Judas and the Jews through their wickedness persecuted Christ. Of these four modes of reward, the first two belong to justice, whereby evil is rewarded for evil, good for good; the third to mercy, whereby good is rewarded for evil; the fourth God knoweth not, for to none doth He reward evil for good. But that which I have placed third in order, is in the first instance necessary: for unless God rewarded good for evil, there would be none to whom He could reward good for good.…

16. Nowhere then let human pride raise itself up: God giveth good rewards unto His own gifts.…

17. “Open Thou mine eyes, and I will consider wondrous things of Thy law” (Psa. 119.18). What he addeth, “I am a lodger upon earth” (Psa. 119.19): or, as some copies read, “I am a sojourner upon earth, O hide not Thy commandments from me,” hath the same meaning.…

18. Here an important question ariseth respecting the soul. For the words, I am a sojourner, or lodger, or stranger upon earth, 5147 cannot seem to have been said in reference to the body, since the body derives its origin from p. 563 the earth. But in this most profound question I dare not define anything. For if it might justly have been said in respect of the soul (which God forbid we should suppose derived from the earth), “I am a lodger,” or “stranger upon earth;” or in reference to the whole man, since he was at one time an inhabitant of Paradise, where he who spake these words was not; or, what is more free from all controversy, if it be not every man who could say this, but one to whom an everlasting country hath been promised in heaven: this I know, “that the life of man on earth is a temptation;” 5148 and that “there is a heavy yoke upon the sons of Adam.” 5149 But it pleaseth me more to discuss the question in accordance with this construction, that we say we are tenants or strangers upon earth, because we have found our country above, whence we have received a pledge, and where when we have arrived we shall never depart. 5150

19. Those whose conversation 5151 is in heaven, as far as they abide here conversant, are in truth strangers. Let them pray therefore that the commandments of God may not be hidden from them, whereby they may be freed from this temporary sojourn, by loving God, with whom they will be for evermore; and by loving their neighbour, that he may be there where they also themselves will be.

20. But what is loved by loving, if love itself be not loved? Whence by consequence that stranger upon earth, after praying that the commandments of God might not be hidden from him, wherein love is enjoined either solely or principally; declareth that he desireth to have a love for love itself, saying, “My soul hath coveted to have a desire alway after Thy judgments” (Psa. 119.20). This coveting is worthy of praise, not of condemnation.…

21. But he saith not, “coveteth,” only; but, “My soul hath coveted to desire Thy judgments.” For there is no obstacle to possessing the judgments of God, save that they are not desired, while love hath no warmth toward winning them, though their light is so clear and shining.…

22. “Thou hast rebuked the proud: and cursed are they that do err from Thy commandments” (Psa. 119.21). For the proud err from the commandments of God. For it is one thing not to fulfil the commandments of God through infirmity or ignorance; another to err from them through pride; as they have done, who have begotten us in our mortal state unto these evils.…But consider now, after saying, “Thou hast rebuked the proud,” he saith not, Cursed are they that have erred from Thy commandments; so that only that sin of the first men should come into the mind; but he saith, “Cursed are they that do err.” For it was needful that all might be terrified by that example, that they might not err from the divine commandments, and by loving righteousness in all time, recover in the toil of this world, what we lost in the pleasure of Paradise.

23. “O turn from me shame and rebuke; for I have sought out Thy testimonies” (Psa. 119.22). Testimonies are called in Greek μαρτύρια, which word we now use for the Latin word: whence those who on account of their testimony to Christ have been brought low by various sufferings, and have contended unto death for the truth, are not called testes, but by the Greek term Martyrs.  5152 Since then ye hear in this term one more familiar and grateful, let us take these words as if it were said, “O turn from me shame and rebuke; because I have sought out Thy martyrdoms.” When the body of Christ speaketh thus, doth it consider it any punishment to hear rebuke and shame from the ungodly and the proud, since it rather reacheth the crown by this means? Why then doth it pray that it should be removed from it as something heavy and insupportable, save because, as I said, it prayeth for its very enemies, to whom it seeth it is destructive, to cast the holy name of Christ as a reproach to Christians.…For my enemies, whom Thou enjoinest to be loved by me, who more and more die and are lost, when they despise Thy martyrdoms and accuse them in me, will indeed be recalled to life and be found, if they reverence Thy martyrdoms in me. Thus it hath happened: this we see. Behold, martyrdom in the name of Christ, both with men and in this world, is not only not a disgrace, but a great ornament: behold, not only in the sight of the Lord, but in the sight of men, “precious is the death of His Saints;” 5153 behold, His martyrs are not only not despised, but honoured with great distinctions.…

24. “Princes also did sit and speak against me: but Thy servant is exercised in Thy statutes” (Psa. 119.23). Thou who desirest to know what sort of exercise this was, understand what he hath added, “For Thy testimonies are my meditation, and Thy statutes are my counsellors” (Psa. 119.24). Remember what I have above instructed you, that testimonies are acts of martyrdom. Remember that among the statutes of the Lord there is none more difficult and more worthy of admiration, than that every man should love his enemies. 5154 Thus then the body of Christ was exercised, so that it meditated on the acts of martyrdom that testified of Him, and loved those from whom, while they rebuked and despised the Church for these very martyrdoms, she suffered persecutions.…



[He says: “The Greek word π€ροικος is variously rendered by our translators, incola, inquilinus, or advena. Lodgers (inquilini) who have no house of their own, dwell in another man’s; but sojourners (incolæ), or strangers (advenæ), are spoken of as foreigners (adventitii).”—C.]


Job vii. 1.


Ecclesiasticus 40.1.


[Here follows a homily, accordingly.—C.]


Citizenship. Phil. 3:19, 20.


Either word means “witnesses.”


Ps. cxvi. 15.


Matt. v. 44.

Next: Daleth.