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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Concerning the Statutes
By Saint John Chrysostom (c. 347–407)
 
From Homily VIII.

KNOWING these things, let us take heed to our life: and let us not be earnest as to the goods that perish; neither as to the glory that goeth out; nor as to that body which groweth old; nor as to that beauty which is fading; nor as to that pleasure which is fleeting: but let us expend all our care about the soul, and let us provide for the welfare of this in every way. For to cure the body when diseased is not an easy matter to every one; but to cure a sick soul is easy to all: and the sickness of the body requires medicines, as well as money, for its healing; but the healing of the soul is a thing easy to procure, and devoid of expense. And the nature of the flesh is with much labor delivered from those wounds which are troublesome; for very often the knife must be applied, and medicines that are bitter; but with respect to the soul there is nothing of this kind. It suffices only to exercise the will and the desire, and all things are accomplished. And this hath been the work of God’s providence. For inasmuch as from bodily sickness no great injury could arise (for though we were not diseased, yet death would in any case come, and destroy and dissolve the body); but everything depends upon the health of our souls; this being by far the more precious and necessary, he hath made the medicining of it easy, and void of expense or pain. What excuse therefore or what pardon shall we obtain, if when the body is sick, and money must be expended on its behalf, and physicians called in, and much anguish endured, we make this so much a matter of our care (though what might result from that sickness could be no great injury to us), and yet treat the soul with neglect? And this, when we are neither called upon to pay down money, nor to give others any trouble, nor to sustain any sufferings; but without any of all these things, by only choosing and willing, have it in our power to accomplish the entire amendment of it: and knowing assuredly that if we fail to do this, we shall sustain the extreme sentence, and punishments, and penalties, which are inexorable! For tell me, if any one promised to teach thee the healing art in a short space of time, without money or labor, wouldst thou not think him a benefactor? Wouldst thou not submit both to do and to suffer all things, whatsoever he who promised these things commanded? Behold now, it is permitted thee without labor to find a medicine for wounds, not of the body, but of the soul, and to restore it to a state of health without any suffering! Let us not be indifferent to the matter! For pray what is the pain of laying aside anger against one who hath aggrieved thee? It is a pain indeed to remember injuries, and not to be reconciled! What labor is it to pray, and to ask for a thousand good things from God, who is ready to give? What labor is it, not to speak evil of any one? What difficulty is there in being delivered from envy and ill-will? What trouble is it to love one’s neighbor? What suffering is it not to utter shameful words, nor to revile, nor to insult another? What fatigue is it not to swear? for again I return to this same admonition. The labor of swearing is indeed exceedingly great. Oftentimes, whilst under the influence of anger or wrath, we have sworn, perhaps, that we would never be reconciled to those who have injured us.  1
  I am now for the sixth day admonishing you in respect of this precept. Henceforth I am desirous to take leave of you, meaning to abstain from the subject, that ye may be on your guard. There will no longer be any excuse or allowance for you; for of right, indeed, if nothing had been said on this matter, it ought to have been amended of yourselves, for it is not a thing of an intricate nature, or that requires great preparation. But since ye have enjoyed the advantage of so much admonition and counsel, what excuse will ye have to offer, when ye stand accused before that dread tribunal and are required to give account of this transgression? It is impossible to invent any excuse; but of necessity you must either go hence amended, or if you have not amended, be punished, and abide the extremest penalty! Thinking therefore upon all these things, and departing hence with much anxiety about them, exhort ye one another, that the things spoken of during so many days may be kept with all watchfulness in your minds; so that whilst we are silent, ye instructing, edifying, exhorting one another, may exhibit great improvement: and having fulfilled all the other precepts may enjoy eternal crowns; which God grant we may all obtain through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2
 
 
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