Catholic Encyclopedia
Church Fathers
Classics Library
Church Documents
Prayer Requests
Ray of Hope
Social Doctrine

An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

AND a certain one of those of moderate capacity, who had composed a discourse, advanced in the midst of the assembly where many pastors were present, as in the congregations of churches, and whilst all attended in decency and silence, he addressed himself as follows, to one who was the best and most pious of bishops, and by whose zeal principally the temple in Tyre, by far the most noble in Phœnicia, was built.

Panegyric on the building of the churches, addressed to Paulinus, bishop of Tyre

“FRIENDS, and priest of God, and ye who are clad in the sacred gown, adorned with the celestial crown of glory, the inspired unction and sacerdotal garment of the Holy Spirit. And thou, O excellent ornament of this new and holy temple of God, endowed by him with the wisdom of age, and yet who hast exhibited the precious works and deeds of youthful and vigorous virtue, to whom God himself, who comprehends the universe, has granted the distinguished privilege of rebuilding and renewing it to Christ, his first begotten and only begotten Word, and to his holy and divine spouse; whether one might call thee a new Beseleel, the architect of a divine tabernacle, or a Solomon, the king of a new and better Jerusalem, or a new Zerubbabel, superadding a glory to the temple of God, much greater than the former. You, also, O nurslings of the flock of Christ, the habitation of excellent discourses, school of modesty, and the devout and religious, auditory of piety. Long since, indeed, we were allowed the privilege of raising hymns and songs of praise to God, when we learned, from hearing the sacred Scriptures read, the wonderful deeds of God, and the benefits of the Lord conferred upon men, and which we were taught to repeat, ‘O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, the work that thou didst in those days, in the clays of old.’ But now as we perceive the lofty arm and the celestial hand of our all-gracious and omnipotent God and King, not only by the hearing and the report of words, but by deeds; and, as we may say, with our own eyes, as we contemplate those faithful and true declarations recorded in times of old, we may raise another song of triumph, and exclaim, and appropriately say, ‘as we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God.’ And in what city but in this newly built and framed by God? ‘which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth;’ concerning which another passage of the holy Scriptures thus declares: ‘Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God;’ into which the all-gracious God having collected us by the grace of His only begotten, let each one here assembled only sing, cry aloud, and say: ‘I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord;’ and again, ‘Lord, I have loved the beauty of thine house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.’ And not only individually, but altogether with one breath and one soul, let us with veneration exclaim, ‘Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised in the city of our God, even upon his holy hill.’ For he, indeed, is truly great, and great is his habitation, sublime, and spacious, and comely in beauty beyond the sons of men. ‘Great is the Lord, who only doeth wonderful things, and things past finding out, glorious and stupendous things which cannot be numbered. Great is he who changeth the seasons and times, who setteth up and debaseth kings, who raiseth the poor from the ground, and exalteth the beggar from the dunghill. He hath thrust down the mighty from their seats, and hath exalted the humble from the earth. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and hath broken in pieces the arms of the proud.’ He has confirmed the record of ancient events, not only to the faithful, but to the unbelievers. ‘He that worketh miracles, he that doeth mighty deeds; He, that Lord of the universe, the Creator of the whole world, the omnipotent one and only God.’ In obedience to him we ‘sing a new song, who alone doeth wonderful things, because his mercy endureth for ever; that smiteth mighty kings and slayeth strong kings, because his mercy endureth for ever; for the Lord hath remembered us in our humiliation, and hath delivered us from our enemies.’ And may we never cease to celebrate the Father of all with these praises. Him, also, we would extol, and bear his name constantly upon our lips, the second cause of our mercies, the instructor in divine knowledge, teacher of true religion, destroyer of the impious, slayer of tyrants, the reformer of the world, and the Saviour of us when our condition was desperate, our Lord Jesus. For he alone, as the only all-gracious Son of the all-gracious Father, according to the purpose of his Father’s benevolence, readily and freely assuming the nature of us who lay prostrate in the depths of destruction, like an excellent physician, who, ‘for the sake of saving those who are labouring under disease, examines their sufferings, handles their foul ulcers, and from others’ miseries produces grief and pains to himself, has saved us, not only struggling with dreadful ulcers, and wounds already putrid, but even lying among the dead, and rescued us to himself from the very jaws of death. For none of those in heaven had such power at command, as to promote the salvation of so many without detriment. But he alone, after having reached the deplorable corruption of our race, he alone taking upon him our labours, and bearing the punishment of our iniquities, recovering us, not merely half dead, but altogether fœtid and offensive, in tombs and sepulchres, both of old and new, by his gracious love, saves us still beyond the hope and expectation of others, and even of ourselves, and liberally imparts to us the abundance of his Father’s blessings. He, the giver of life and of light, our great Physician, King and Lord, the Christ of God. And then, when the whole human race once lay buried in gloomy night and the depths of darkness, by the delusions of execrable demons, and the machinations and influences of malignant spirits, as soon as he appeared, as the wax melts under the rays of the sun, he dissolved the knotty and entangled bonds of our iniquities, by the rays of his light. But when malignant envy and the mischievous spirit of iniquity, almost bursting asunder at such a display of grace and benevolence, was now arraying all his deadly forces against us, and like a dog in a fit of madness, first gnashing his teeth at the stones cast at him, and pouring his rage, kindled by his assailants, against inanimate weapons, he levelled his savage ferocity at the stones of the oratories and lifeless materials, to produce, as he supposed, the desolation of the churches. Afterwards, he issued dreadful hissings and serpent-like voices, sometimes by the threats of impious tyrants, sometimes by the blasphemous ordinances of profane governors; and moreover, he himself, pouring forth death, and infecting the souls captured by him with his pestilential and destructive poison, almost destroyed them with the deadly sacrifices to dead idols, and caused every sort of beast in the shape of man, and every savage, to assault us. Then the Angel of the mighty council, the great Captain and Leader of the armies of God, after a sufficient exercise which the greatest of the soldiers of his kingdom had exhibited in their patience and perseverance, again suddenly appeared, destroying what was hostile, and annihilating his foes, so that they scarcely appeared to have had a name. But those that were his friends and of his household, he advanced not only to glory with all men, but now also, with celestial powers, the sun, the moon, and the stars, the whole heavens and the world. So that now, what never happened before, the supreme sovereigns, sensible of the honour conferred upon them by Him, now spit upon the faces of the idols, trample upon the unhallowed rites of demons, ridicule the ancient delusion of their ancestors, and acknowledge only the one and true God, the common benefactor of all and of themselves. They also confess Christ the Son of God, as the universal King of all, and proclaim him the Saviour in their edicts, inscribing his righteous deeds and his victories over the impious, with royal characters on indelible records, and in the midst of that city which holds the sway over the earth; so that our Saviour Jesus Christ is the only one ever acknowledged, by the supreme rulers of the earth, not as a common king among men, but worshipped as the true Son of God, and God himself. And all this justly too. For who of kings at any time has ever advanced to such a height of excellence, as to till the ears and the tongues of all men with his own name? What king ever ordained laws so pious and wise, and extended them so as to be read by all men from the ends of the earth to its remotest borders? Who has ever abrogated the fierce and barbarous customs of fierce and barbarous nations, by his mild and most beneficent laws? Who is there, when assailed by all for whole ages, that has ever exhibited a virtue far surpassing man, so as to rise and flourish again from day to day, throughout the whole world? Who is there that has ever established a nation never heard of before, not concealed in a corner of the earth, but spread over every part of it under the sun? Who has so fortified his soldiers with the arms of piety, that their souls, more firm than adamant, shine resplendent in the contests against their antagonists? What king ever prevailed to such an extent, as to lead on his armies after death, rear trophies against his enemies, and fill every place and city and region, whether Grecian or barbarian, with his royal palaces and the consecrations of his sacred temples? Witness the splendid ornaments and donations of this very temple, which themselves are noble and truly grand, worthy of admiration and astonishment, and expressive symbols of our Saviour’s kingdom. Truly ‘he hath spoken, and they were made; he hath commanded, and they were created.’ For what was there to resist the beck of the universal King, the universal Prince, and God, the Word himself? It would require a peculiar leisure to survey and explain each particular minutely; and not only this, but to explain how great and powerful the alacrity of those who have laboured in the work, has been judged by him whom we celebrate, who looks into the temple within our souls, and surveys the building of living and moving stones, happily and securely built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Whom, indeed, not only those of that ancient building no longer existing, have rejected; but also, those of the building now existing, that vast multitude of men, wretched architects of the wicked as they are. But the Father having proved Him now as well as then, has established him as the head of the corner of this our common church. This, therefore, the living temple of the living God, formed of yourselves, I say, is the greatest and the truly divine sanctuary, whose inmost shrines, though invisible to the multitude, are really holy, a holy of holies. Who, when he has viewed it within, would venture to declare it? But who could ever penetrate its sacred enclosures, save only the great High Priest of all, who alone has the right and power to search out the mysteries of every human and rational soul? Next to him, however, the second place immediately devolves on one alone of his equals, the presiding prelate and leader of his host, who has been honoured by the first and great High Priest himself with the second rank in his sanctuary, and has been appointed by him as his courtier and interpreter, and the shepherd of your spiritual (divine) flock, obtaining this people of yours as his portion of the judgment and allotment of the Father; a new Aaron or another Melchizedech assimilated to the Son of God, continuing and always preserved by him in accordance with the common wishes and prayers of you all. To him, therefore, alone, let it be granted, if not in the first place, at least in the second, after the first and supreme High Priest, to inspect and superintend the observation and state of your inmost souls. As he by experience and length of time has diligently examined each one, and by his zeal and care has disposed all of you to cultivate the order and doctrine of piety; capable, also, as he is above all, to give reasons adequate to the works which he himself with the divine assistance has framed. Our first and great High Priest, saith the Scripture, ‘whatsoever He seeth the Father doing, these things also doeth the Son;’ and whatsoever he seeth Him doing, using these things as archetypes and examples, their images and resemblances, he has as far as possible expressed, after the most perfect likeness in his own works. In no respect inferior to that Beseleel, whom the Spirit of God himself filled with wisdom, and understanding, and whatever other knowledge and skill might be necessary, for the building of that temple, appointed and selected as the builder of that edifice of a temple of celestial types, a temple given in symbols and figures. Thus, also, he has framed and fashioned the whole Christ complete, the word, the wisdom, the light, and bearing in his own soul the image of the same, it is impossible to tell with what joy and gladness, with what an abundant and liberal mind, and with what emulation among all of you, and what magnanimity among the contributors, ambitiously striving that none should be behind him in executing the same purpose, he has framed and finished this magnificent and noble temple of God, so similar in its character to the copy of that better temple, the visible of the invisible. And what also deserves first of all to be mentioned, he did not overlook this place, which had been covered with filth and rubbish, by the artifices of our enemies; but could not think of giving way to the wickedness of those who were the authors of it, though he was at liberty to go to another place, there being innumerable others in the city; and thus to find a diminution of his labour, and to be relieved from trouble. First, he prepared himself for the work. Then, also, after strengthening and animating the people, and forming all into one great body, he performed this, the first of his labours; thinking that the church which had been most assailed by the enemy, she that had first laboured in trials, and that had sustained the same persecutions with us and before us—this church, like a mother bereft of her children, should also enjoy with us the mercies and privileges of the all-gracious Giver. For when the great shepherd had driven away the wild beasts, the wolves, and every fierce and savage race, and, in the language of Scripture, had broken the jaws of the lion, he again condescended to collect her children, and in the most righteous manner he raised the fold of her flock, ‘to shame the enemy and the avenger;’ and to present a refutation against the impious audacity of those that were fighting against God. And now these enemies of God are no more, because they never were. For a short time, indeed, they created alarm, whilst themselves were troubled; then suffering the severe punishment which they owed to divine justice, they overturned themselves, and friends, and habitations to the dust. So that it is confessed those declarations inscribed of old on the sacred tablets, are proved as true by facts, in which the divine word, among others, also asserts the following concerning them: ‘The ungodly have drawn out the sword, they have bent the bow to east down the poor and needy, and to slay such as are of an upright walk. Their sword shall pierce through their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.’ And, again, ‘Their memory is perished with a sound, and their name hast thou blotted out for ever and ever. Because when they were in miseries they cried, and there was none to save, even to the Lord, and he heard them not. They were bound, and fell, and we are raised and stand upright.’

“That, too, which was declared before, in the following words, ‘O Lord, thou shalt annihilate their image in thy city,’ is truly manifested to the eyes of all. But after waging a war against God, like the giants, they terminated their lives in this manner; whilst she, ‘which was desolate, and rejected of men,’ has received that consummation that we have seen, for her patient endurance in God, so that the prophecy of Isaiah seemed to utter these things; ‘Rejoice, thirsty desert, let the desert exult and blossom as the lily, and the desert places shall flourish and be glad. Be strengthened, ye languid hands, and ye relaxed knees. Be consoled, ye weak-hearted in your minds, be strong and fear not. Behold our God has repaid judgment, and he will repay. He will come and save us. For he says, Water has burst forth in the desert, and a pool in a thirsty land. And the dry land shall become a pool, and a well of water shall be in the thirsty land.’ These things, uttered in ancient oracles, have been recorded in the sacred books. But now, these things, themselves, are no longer addressed to us in mere reports, but in facts.

This desert, this dry and thirsty land; this widow and deserted one, whose gates they cut down with axes, as wood in the forest, breaking them clown with the axe and the hatchet, whose books they destroyed, and whose divine sanctuary they burned with fire, whilst they profaned the habitation of his name unto the ground, and all that passed by plucked off her grapes, breaking down her hedges; she, whom the wild boar of the forest has rooted up, and the savage wild beast has devoured, now, by the marvellous power of Christ, as he himself would have it, has blossomed as the lily. But, even then, she was chastened at his nod, as by a provident father: ‘For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.’ Then, after being chastened in measure, as far as was necessary, she was commanded to rejoice anew; and she now blossoms as the lily, and exhales her divine odour among all men. For it is said, ‘Water gushed forth in the desert, the fountain of divine regeneration of the salutary laver. And now she, which a little before was desolate, is changed into pools, and a well of living water has gushed out upon a thirsty land.’ The arms formerly languid have become truly strong, and these works are the great and expressive displays of invigorated hands. Those knees, also, that were formerly debilitated and relaxed, now recovering their former firmness, are walking in a straight course on their way, and hastening on to their proper fold of the all-gracious pastor. And there are also some that were alarmed and overawed by the threats of the tyrants, yet not even these have been overlooked as incurable by the Saviour’s word, but he, thoroughly healing them, likewise, raises them to receive consolation, as he says, ‘Be ye comforted, ye dejected in mind, be strong, fear not.’

“This our new and excellent Zerubbabel, then, perceiving, by the acute hearing of his mind, the sacred oracles declaring, that she who had been desolate for the sake of her God should now enjoy such things as these, after her severe captivity, and the abomination of desolation, did not neglect this dead carcase. First of all; with prayers and supplications, he propitiated the Father with the common consent and concurrence of you all, and calling upon the only one who can raise the dead, as his aid and ally, he raised her who had fallen, after he had cleansed and healed her from her ills. He cast around her, not the garment of old, but such as he had again learned from the sacred oracles, clearly declaring: ‘And the glory of this latter house shall far exceed the former.’ Thus, then, embracing a much wider space, he strengthened the outer enclosure with a wall to compass the edifice, that it might be a most secure bulwark to the whole work. Then raising a large and lofty vestibule, he extended it towards the rays of the rising sun; presenting even to those standing without the sanctuary, a full view of those within, all but turning the eyes of those who are strangers to the faith, to contemplate its entrance; so that no one can pass by without being struck in his mind at the recollection of the former desolation, and the present wonderful transformation. By this, indeed, he also hoped that the individual thus smitten would be attracted by the very sight, and induced to enter. And on entering within the gates, he has not permitted you to enter immediately, with impure and unwashed feet, within the sanctuary, but leaving an extensive space between the temple (the nave) and the vestibule, he has decorated and enclosed it with four inclined porticoes around, presenting a quadrangular space, with pillars rising on every side. Between these he carried round the frame latticed railing, rising to a proportioned and suitable height, leaving, however, the middle space open, so that the heavens can be seen, and present the splendid sky irradiated by the beams of the sun. Here, too, he has placed the symbols of the sacred purification, by providing fountains built opposite the temple (nave), which, by the abundant effusion of its waters, affords the means of cleansing, to those that proceed to the inner parts of the sanctuary. And this is the first place that receives those that enter, and which at the same time presents to those that need the first introduction, both a splendid and convenient station. After passing also this sight, he has made open entrances to the temple, with many other inner vestibules, by placing again three gates on one side towards the rising sun. Of these he constructed the middle one, far exceeding those on each side in height and breadth, embellishing it at the same time with exceedingly splendid brazen plates bound with iron, and decorated with various sculpture, superadding them as guards and attendants to a queen. In the same way, after disposing the number of the vestibules, also with the porticoes on each side of the whole temple, he constructed above these, different openings to the building, for the purpose of admitting more light, and these lights or windows he also decorated with various kinds of ornamental sculpture. But the royal temple itself he has furnished with more splendid and rich materials, applying a generous liberality in his expenses. And here, it appears to me to be superfluous, to describe the dimensions, the length and the breadth of the edifice, the splendid elegance, the grandeur that surpasses description, and the dazzling aspect of works, glittering in the face of the speaker, the heights rising to the heavens, and the costly cedars of Lebanon resting on these, which have not been overlooked by the divine oracles themselves, when they say: ‘The forests of the Lord shall rejoice, and the cedars of Lebanon which he planted.’ Why should I now detail minutely the skilful architectural arrangement, and the exceeding beauty of each of the parts, when the testimony of the eye precludes the instruction through the ear?

“For when he had thus completed the temple, he also adorned it with lofty thrones, in honour of those who preside, and also with seats decently arranged in order throughout the whole, and at last placed the holy altar in the middle. And that this again might be inaccessible to the multitude, he enclosed it with frame lattice work, accurately wrought with ingenious sculpture, presenting an admirable sight to the beholders. And not even the pavement was neglected by him, for this too he splendidly adorned with marble, and then proceeded to the rest, and to the parts out of the temple. He provided spacious exhedræ and oëci on each side, united and attached to the cathedral, (palace,) and communicating with the entrance to the middle of the temple. Which buildings were erected by this our most peaceful Solomon, the founder of the temple, for those who require yet the purification and the sprinklings of water and the Holy Spirit. So that the prophecy repeated above, seems to consist no longer in words, but in facts and deeds: ‘For the glory of this latter house is truly far beyond the former.’

“For it was just and consistent, that as her (the church) Pastor and Lord had once submitted to death on her account, and after his suffering had changed that vile body, which he assumed for our sake, into a splendid and glorious body, and had conducted the flesh that had been dissolved from corruption into incorruption, that she should likewise enjoy these dispensations of our Saviour; because, having received a promise of far better things from him, the far greater glory of a regeneration, in the resurrection of an incorruptible body, with the choir of the angels of light, in the very celestial palace of God; above all these, she desires also to obtain them with Christ Jesus himself, her all-gracious Benefactor and Saviour hereafter for ever. In the mean time, however, in the present world, she that was formerly a widow and desolate, and now decorated with the flowers of divine grace, has truly become as the lily, as the prophecy declares, and receiving the bridal garment, and covered with the crown of glory, as she is taught to exult and dance by the prophet Isaiah, proclaims her gratitude in joyous language to God her king. Let us hear her own words: ‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for he hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.’ Thus, singing, she exults and dances.

“In the same words, also, that celestial spouse and word, Jesus Christ, himself answers her. Hear the Lord, saying, ‘Fear not because thou wast abased, neither be thou confounded, that thou wast put to shame. For thou shalt forget thy past shame of old, and shalt not remember the shame of thy widowhood any more. The Lord hath not called thee as a woman deserted and dejected, neither as a woman hated from her youth, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercy will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.’ ‘Awake, awake, thou that hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury, thou hast drunk the dregs and exhausted them. There was none to console thee of all the sons thou didst bring forth, neither was there any to take thee by the hand. Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of stumbling, the cup of my fury, and thou shalt no more drink it again. But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee, and that have humbled thee.’ ‘Awake, awake, put on thy strength, put on thy glory, shake off the dust, and arise and sit down, loose thyself from the bands of thy neck. Lift up thine eyes round about thee, and behold thy children are gathered together. Behold they are gathered and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt clothe thyself with them all as with an ornament, and thou shalt bind them on thee as ornaments on a bride. For thy waste and desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that would swallow thee up shall be far away. The children which thou hast lost shall say in thine ears: The place is narrow for me, give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these? seeing I have lost my children and am a widow? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone. But these, where had they been?’

“Such were the oracles uttered before by Isaiah. These were the declarations respecting us anciently, recorded in the holy Scriptures. It was just, therefore, that we should at some time receive their truth in the facts themselves. Since then the Spouse and Word addressed such language as this to the holy church before; justly, therefore, as this our bride-man (bride-dresser,) raised her lying desolate, and as a dead carcase, hopeless in the sight of men, with the common prayers of you all, stretched out his hands, raised her up, and at the command of God, the sovereign King, and in the manifestation of the powers of Christ Jesus, caused her to stand upright. And when thus raised, he so ordered and established her, as he had learned from the description given by the sacred oracles. Wonderful and mighty, therefore, and beyond all admiration is this work, especially to those who attend only to the external appearance. But more wonderful than wonders are those archetypes, the mental prototypes and divine exemplars, the renewals of the divine and spiritual buildings in our souls, which he, the Son of God himself, framed and fashioned according to his own image, and to which every where and in all respects he imparted the likeness of God. An incorruptible nature, incorporeal, reasonable, separate from all earthly mixture and matter, an intelligent existence. And having once created her and brought her into being from that which was not, he also wrought her into a holy spouse, a completely sacred and holy temple, for himself and the Father; which, indeed, himself plainly declares and professes in the following words: ‘I will dwell in them and walk in them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ And such, indeed, is the perfect and purified mind, having been made such from the beginning as to bear the image of the celestial Word. By the envy and jealousy of the malignant demon, however, she began to be fond of pleasures and fond of evil by her own voluntary choice, and then the Divinity retiring from her, as one destitute of her protector, she became an easy captive, and easily exposed to the insidious plots of those who had long envied her felicity. And thus assailed by the batteries and machines of her invisible and spiritual enemies, she fell a hideous carcase. So that there was not one stone of her virtue that remained standing, and she lay completely and entirely dead upon the earth, totally stripped and destitute of her usual and natural ideas of God. But as she thus lay fallen and prostrate, she that had been made after the image of God, it was not that wild boar of the forest that we see, but some destructive demon and spiritual wild beast that laid her waste. These, inflaming her with passions, as with the burning darts of their own iniquity, set fire to the really divine sanctuary of God, and profaned the tabernacle of his name to the ground. Then burying the unhappy one with heaps of earth, they totally destroyed every hope of her deliverance. But the divine and saving Word, who cared for her, after she had endured the deserved punishment for her sins, again recovered and restored her to the full confidence of the all-gracious mercy of the Father. First, then, she gained the favour of the supreme imperial rulers themselves, and, with the whole world, was delivered from the impious tyrants, those destructive and tremendous enemies of all, by the intervention of those most excellent and divinely favoured princes. Then also, the men who were his (Christ’s) familiar friends, those formerly consecrated to him for life, and who, concealed as in a storm of afflictions, had nevertheless been secretly protected by their God; these were led forth by him to the light, and honoured deservedly by the munificence of his Spirit. Again, then, by means of these he cleansed and removed the filth of the souls who a little before had been polluted, and with the spades and mattocks, the reproving doctrines of the divine Word, he removed all the accumulated matter of impious commands. And thus when he had made the ground of your mind clear and bright, then he committed it for the future to this most wise and divinely favoured guide. He, as in other respects, endowed with singular judgment and prudence, well capable of discriminating and discerning the minds of those committed to his charge, from the first day that he began to build, as I may say, has not ceased to the present. In one place he applied the splendid gold, in another, the refined and pure silver, and the valuable and precious stones among all, so that a sacred and mystic prophecy is again fulfilled by facts displayed in you, when it is said, ‘Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair carbuncles, and lay thy foundations with sapphires, and thy bulwarks of jasper stone, and thy gates with crystal, and thy walls with chosen stones, and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children, and thou shalt be built in righteousness.’

“Building, therefore, in righteousness, he divided the strength and means of the whole people, according to a due estimate. With some, indeed, he surrounded only the exterior enclosure, walling it up with an unwavering faith. For such is the great multitude and mass of the people, that they are incapable of bearing any superior structure. But allowing others the entrance into the edifice, he directs them to stand at the doors, and to conduct those that are entering, who not improperly are compared to the vestibules of the temple. Others, however, he has supported by the first pillars which are placed without, around the quadrangular hall, by initiating them in the first elements of the literal sense of the four gospels. Then he also stations around, on both sides of the royal temple, those who are yet catechumens, and that are yet making progress and improvement, though not very far separated from the inmost view of divine things, enjoyed by the faithful. Receiving from among these, the souls that are cleansed like gold, by the divine washing he likewise supports and strengthens these, with columns far better than those external ones, viz. by the inner mysteries and hidden doctrines of the Scriptures. He also illuminates them by the openings, to admit the light, adorning the whole temple with one grand vestibule of adoration to the one only God, the universal Sovereign. Exhibiting, however, as the second splendour, the light of Christ, and the Holy Spirit on each side of the Father’s authority, and displaying in the rest throughout the whole of the building, the abundance and the exceeding great excellence of the clearness and the brilliancy of truth in every part. Having also selected every where, and from every quarter, the living and moving, and well prepared stones of the mind, he has built a grand and truly royal edifice of all, splendid and filled with light within and without. For it is resplendent not only in soul and mind, but the body also is brilliant with the blooming ornaments of chastity and modesty. But in this temple there are also thrones, many seats also, and benches, in all the souls in which the gifts of the Holy Spirit reside, such as anciently were seen in the holy apostles and their followers, to whom cloven tongues, as of fire, appeared and sat upon each one of them. But in the chief of all, Christ himself perhaps resides in his fulness. In those that rank next to him each one shares proportionately in the distribution of the power of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. There may also be seats for angels in the souls of some who are committed to the instruction and care of each. Noble and grand also, and unique, is the altar, such as should be at least, that sincerity and Holy of Holies, of the mind and spirit of the priest of the whole congregation. That great High Priest of the universe, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, himself standing at the right, receives the sweet incense from all, and the bloodless and immaterial sacrifices of prayer, with a bright and benign eye; and with extended hands, bears them to the Father of heaven and God over all. He himself, first adoring him, and the only one that gives to the Father the worship that is his due, and then interceding with him for us, that he may always continue propitious and favourable to us all.

“Such is the character of this great temple, which the great creative Word hath established, throughout the whole world, constituting this again a kind of intellectual image on earth of those things beyond the vault of heaven. So that, in all his creation, and through all his intelligent creatures on earth, the Father should be honoured and adored. But those regions beyond the heavens, are also displays of what are here, and that Jerusalem above, and that heavenly Sion, and that city of the living God beyond our earth, in which are the innumerable choirs of angels and the assembly of the first-born written in heaven, extol their Maker and the universal Sovereign of all, with praises and hymns inexpressible. These surpass our comprehension, neither would any mortal tongue be adequate to declare that glory. ‘For eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive those things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ Of which things, as we are already made partakers in part, let us never cease, men, women, and children, small and great, all collectively at once, and with one breath, and one mind, to proclaim and to celebrate the Author of such great mercies to us, ‘Who forgiveth all our sins, and healeth all our infirmities, who redeemeth our life from destruction and crowneth us with loving-kindness, who filleth our souls with good things. For he hath not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us. As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.’ Rekindling such views now, and for all future times, in our minds, and beside the present festivity, and this illustrious and most glorious day, contemplating God us its author, and the universal author of all festivity, night and day, in every hour and with every breath that we draw, let us love and adore Him with all the powers of the soul. And now rising, with the most earnest expression of our love and devotion, let us beseech Him, that he would continue to shelter and save us as those of his flock until the end, and grant us his peace for ever, inviolate and immovable in Jesus Christ our Saviour, through whom the glory be to him through all ages. Amen.”

Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com