1. A certain one of those of moderate talent, who had composed a discourse, stepped forward in the presence of many pastors who were assembled as if for a church gathering, and while they attended quietly and decently, he addressed himself as follows to one who was in all things a most excellent bishop and beloved of God, through whose zeal the temple in Tyre, which was the most splendid in Phoenicia, had been erected.
Panegyric upon the building of the churches, addressed to Paulinus, Bishop of Tyre.
2. |Friends and priests of God who are clothed in the sacred gown and adorned with the heavenly crown of glory, the inspired unction and the sacerdotal garment of the Holy Spirit; and thou, oh pride of God's new holy temple, endowed by him with the wisdom of age, and yet exhibiting costly works and deeds of youthful and flourishing virtue, to whom God himself, who embraces the entire world, has granted the distinguished honor of building and renewing this earthly house to Christ, his only begotten and first-born Word, and to his holy and divine bride; --
3. one might call thee a new Beseleel, the architect of a divine tabernacle, or Solomon, king of a new and much better Jerusalem, or also a new Zerubabel, who added a much greater glory than the former to the temple of God; --
4. and you also, oh nurslings of the sacred flock of Christ, habitation of good words, school of wisdom, and august and pious auditory of religion:
5. It was long ago permitted us to raise hymns and songs to God, when we learned from hearing the Divine Scriptures read the marvelous signs of God and the benefits conferred upon men by the Lord's wondrous deeds, being taught to say Oh God! we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us the work which thou didst in their days, in days of old.'
6. But now as we no longer perceive the lofty arm and the celestial right hand of our all-gracious God and universal King by hearsay merely or report, but observe so to speak in very deed and with our own eyes that the declarations recorded long ago are faithful and true, it is permitted us to raise a second hymn of triumph and to sing with loud voice, and say, As we have heard, so have we seen; in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God.'
7. And in what city but in this newly built and God-constructed one, which is a church of the living God, a pillar and foundation of the truth,' concerning which also another divine oracle thus proclaims, Glorious things have been spoken of thee, oh city of God.' Since the all-gracious God has brought us together to it, through the grace of his Only-Begotten, let every one of those who have been summoned sing with loud voice and say, I was glad when they said unto me, we shall go unto the house of the Lord,' and Lord, I have loved the beauty of thy house and the place where thy glory dwelleth.'
8. And let us not only one by one, but all together, with one spirit and one soul, honor him and cry aloud, saying, Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in his holy mountain.' For he is truly great, and great is his house, lofty and spacious and comely in beauty above the sons of men.' Great is the Lord who alone doeth wonderful things'; great is he who doeth great things and things past finding out, glorious and marvelous things which cannot be numbered'; great is he who changeth times and seasons, who exalteth and debaseth kings'; who raiseth up the poor from the earth and lifteth up the needy from the dunghill.' He hath put down princes from their thrones and hath exalted them of low degree from the earth. The hungry he hath filled with good things and the arms of the proud he hath broken.'
9. Not only to the faithful, but also to unbelievers, has he confirmed the record of ancient events; he that worketh miracles, he that doeth great things, the Master of all, the Creator of the whole world, the omnipotent, the all-merciful, the one and only God. To him let us sing the new song, supplying in thought, To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth forever'; To him which smote great kings, and slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth forever'; For the Lord remembered us in our low estate and delivered us from our adversaries.'
10. And let us never cease to cry aloud in these words to the Father of the universe. And let us always honor him with our mouth who is the second cause of our benefits, the instructor in divine knowledge, the teacher of the true religion, the destroyer of the impious, the slayer of tyrants, the reformer of life, Jesus, the Saviour of us who were in despair.
11. For he alone, as the only all-gracious Son of an all-gracious Father, in accordance with the purpose of his Father's benevolence, has willingly put on the nature of us who lay prostrate in corruption, and like some excellent physician, who for the sake of saving them that are ill, examines their sufferings, handles their foul sores, and reaps pain for himself from the miseries of another, so us who were not only diseased and afflicted with terrible ulcers and wounds already mortified, but were even lying among the dead, he hath saved for himself from the very jaws of death. For none other of those in heaven had such power as without harm to minister to the salvation of so many.
12. But he alone having reached our deep corruption, he alone having taken upon himself our labors, he alone having suffered the punishments due for our impieties, having recovered us who were not half dead merely, but were already in tombs and sepulchers, and altogether foul and offensive, saves us, both anciently and now, by his beneficent zeal, beyond the expectation of any one, even of ourselves, and imparts liberally of the Father's benefits, -- he who is the giver of life and light, our great Physician and King and Lord, the Christ of God.
13. For then when the whole human race lay buried in gloomy night and in depths of darkness through the deceitful arts of guilty demons and the power of God-hating spirits, by his simple appearing he loosed once for all the fast-bound cords of our impieties by the rays of his light, even as wax is melted.
14. But when malignant envy and the evil-loving demon well-nigh burst with anger at such grace and kindness, and turned against us all his death-dealing forces, and when, at first, like a dog gone mad which gnashes his teeth at the stones thrown at him, and pours out his rage against his assailants upon the inanimate missiles, he leveled his ferocious madness at the stones of the sanctuaries and at the lifeless material of the houses, and desolated the churches, -- at least as he supposed, -- and then emitted terrible hissings and snake-like sounds, now by the threats of impious tyrants, and again by the blasphemous edicts of profane rulers, vomiting forth death, moreover, and infecting with his deleterious and soul-destroying poisons the souls captured by him, and almost slaying them by his death-fraught sacrifices of dead idols, and causing every beast in the form of man and every kind of savage to assault us -- then, indeed, the Angel of the great Council,' the great Captain of God after the mightiest soldiers of his kingdom had displayed sufficient exercise through patience and endurance in everything, suddenly appeared anew, and blotted out and annihilated his enemies and foes, so that they seemed never to have had even a name.
15. But his friends and relatives he raised to the highest glory, in the presence not only of all men, but also of celestial powers, of sun and moon and stars, and of the whole heaven and earth, so that now, as has never happened before, the supreme rulers, conscious of the honor which they have received from him, spit upon the faces of dead idols, trample upon the unhallowed rites of demons, make sport of the ancient delusion handed down from their fathers, and acknowledge only one God, the common benefactor of all, themselves included.
16. And they confess Christ, the Son of God, universal King of all, and proclaim him Saviour on monuments, imperishably recording in imperial letters, in the midst of the city which rules over the earth, his righteous deeds and his victories over the impious. Thus Jesus Christ our Saviour is the only one from all eternity who has been acknowledged, even by those highest in the earth, not as a common king among men, but as a trite son of the universal God, and who has been worshiped as very God, and that rightly.
17. For what king that ever lived attained such virtue as to fill the ears and tongues of all men upon earth with his own name? What king, after ordaining such pious and wise laws, has extended them from one end of the earth to the other, so that they are perpetually read in the hearing of all men?
18. Who has abrogated barbarous and savage customs of uncivilized nations by his gentle and most philanthropic laws? Who, being attacked for entire ages by all, has shown such superhuman virtue as to flourish daily, and remain young throughout his life?
19. Who has founded a nation which of old was not even heard of, but which now is not concealed in some corner of the earth, but is spread abroad everywhere under the sun? Who has so fortified his soldiers with the arms of piety that their souls, being firmer than adamant, shine brilliantly in the contests with their opponents?
20. What king prevails to such an extent, and even after death leads on his soldiers, and sets up trophies over his enemies, and fills every place, country and city, Greek and barbarian, with his royal dwellings, even divine temples with their consecrated oblations, like this very temple with its superb adornments and votive offerings, which are themselves so truly great and majestic, worthy of wonder and admiration, and clear signs of the sovereignty of our Saviour? For now, too, he spake, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created.' For what was there to resist the nod of the universal King and Governor and Word of God himself?
21. |A special discourse would be needed accurately to survey and explain all this; and also to describe how great the zeal of the laborers is regarded by him who is celebrated as divine, who looks upon the living temple which we all constitute, and surveys the house, composed of living and moving stones, which is well and surely built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the chief cornerstone being Jesus Christ himself, who has been rejected not only by the builders of that ancient building which no longer stands, but also by the builders -- evil architects of evil works -- of the structure, which is composed of the mass of men and still endures. But the Father has approved him both then and now, and has made him the head of the corner of this our common church.
22. Who that beholds this living temple of the living God formed of ourselves -- this greatest and truly divine sanctuary, I say, whose inmost shrines are invisible to the multitude and are truly holy and a holy of holies -- would venture to declare it? Who is able even to look within the sacred enclosure, except the great High Priest of all, to whom alone it is permitted to fathom the mysteries of every rational soul?
23. But perhaps it is granted to another, to one only, to be second after him in the same work, namely, to the commander of this army whom the first and great High Priest himself has honored with the second place in this sanctuary, the shepherd of your divine flock who has obtained your people by the allotment and the judgment of the Father, as if he had appointed him his own servant and interpreter, a new Aaron or Melchizedec, made like the Son of God, remaining and continually preserved by him in accordance with the united prayers of all of you.
24. To him therefore alone let it be granted, if not in the first place, at least in the second after the first and greatest High Priest, to observe and supervise the inmost state of your souls, -- to him who by experience and length of time has accurately proved each one, and who by his zeal and care has disposed you all in pious conduct and doctrine, and is better able than any one else to give an account, adequate to the facts, of those things which he himself has accomplished with the Divine assistance.
25. As to our first and great High Priest, it is said, Whatsoever he seeth the Father doing those things likewise the Son also doeth.' So also this one, looking up to him as to the first teacher, with pure eyes of the mind, using as archetypes whatsoever things he seeth him doing, produceth images of them, making them so far as is possible in the same likeness, in nothing inferior to that Beseleel, whom God himself filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding' and with other technical and scientific knowledge, and called to be the maker of the temple constructed after heavenly types given in symbols.
26. Thus this one also bearing in his own soul the image of the whole Christ, the Word, the Wisdom, the Light, has formed this magnificent temple of the highest God, corresponding to the pattern of the greater as a visible to an invisible, it is impossible to say with what greatness of soul, with what wealth and liberality of mind, and with what emulation on the part of all of you, shown in the magnanimity of the contributors who have ambitiously striven in no way to be left behind by him in the execution of the same purpose. And this place, -- for this deserves to be mentioned first of all, -- which had been covered with all sorts of rubbish by the artifices of our enemies he did not overlook, nor did he yield to the wickedness of those who had brought about that condition of things, although he might have chosen some other place, for many other sites were available in the city, where he would have had less labor, and been free from trouble.
27. But having first aroused himself to the work, and then strengthened the whole people with zeal, and formed them all into one great body, he fought the first contest. For he thought that this church, which had been especially besieged by the enemy, which had first suffered and endured the same persecutions with us and for us, like a mother bereft of her children, should rejoice with us in the signal favor of the all-merciful God.
28. For when the Great Shepherd had driven away the wild animals and wolves and every cruel and savage beast, and, as the divine oracles say, had broken the jaws of the lions,' he thought good to collect again her children in the same place, and in the most righteous manner he set up the fold of her flock, to put to shame the enemy and avenger,' and to refute the impious daring of the enemies of God.
29. And now they are not, -- the haters of God, -- for they never were. After they had troubled and been troubled for a little time, they suffered the fitting punishment, and brought themselves and their friends and their relatives to total destruction, so that the declarations inscribed of old in sacred records have been proved true by facts. In these declarations the divine word truly says among other things the following concerning them:
30. The wicked have drawn out the sword, they have bent their bow, to slay the righteous in heart; let their sword enter into their own heart and their bows be broken.' And again: Their memorial is perished with a sound' and their name hast thou blotted out forever and ever'; for when they also were in trouble they cried out and there was none to save: unto the Lord, and he heard them not.' But their feet were bound together, and they fell, but we have arisen and stand upright.' And that which was announced beforehand in these words, -- O Lord, in thy city thou shalt set at naught their image,' -- has been shown to be true to the eyes of all.
31. But having waged war like the giants against God, they died in this way. But she that was desolate and rejected by men received the consummation which we behold in consequence of her patience toward God, so that the prophecy of Isaiah was spoken of her:
32. Rejoice, thirsty desert, let the desert rejoice and blossom as the lily, and the desert places shall blossom and be glad.' Be strengthened, ye weak hands and feeble knees. Be of good courage, ye feeble-hearted, in your minds; be strong, fear not. Behold our God recompenseth judgment and will recompense, he will come and save us.' For,' he says, in the wilderness water has broken out, and a pool in thirsty ground, and the dry land shall be watered meadows, and in the thirsty ground there shall be springs of water.'
33. These things which were prophesied long ago have been recorded in sacred books; but no longer are they transmitted to us by hearsay merely, but in facts. This desert, this dry land, this widowed and deserted one, whose gates they cut down with axes like wood in a forest, whom they broke down with hatchet and hammer,' whose books also they destroyed, burning with fire the sanctuary of God, and profaning unto the ground the habitation of his name,' whom all that passed by upon the way plucked, and whose fences they broke down, whom the boar out of the wood ravaged, and on which the savage wild beast fed,' now by the wonderful power of Christ, when he wills it, has become like a lily. For at that time also she was chastened at his nod as by a careful father; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.'
34. Then after being chastened in a measure, according to the necessities of the case, she is commanded to rejoice anew; and she blossoms as a lily and exhales her divine odor among all men. For,' it is said, water hath broken out in the wilderness,' the fountain of the saving bath of divine regeneration. And now she, who a little before was a desert, has become watered meadows, and springs of water have gushed forth in a thirsty land.' The hands which before were weak' have become truly strong'; and these works are great and convincing proofs of strong hands. The knees, also, which before were feeble and infirm,' recovering their wonted strength, are moving straight forward in the path of divine knowledge, and hastening to the kindred flock of the all-gracious Shepherd.
35. And if there are any whose souls have been stupefied by the threats of the tyrants, not even they are passed by as incurable by the saving Word; but he heals them also and urges them on to receive divine comfort, saying, Be ye comforted, ye who are faint-hearted; be ye strengthened, fear not.'
36. This our new and excellent Zerubabel, having heard the word which announced beforehand, that she who had been made a desert on account of God should enjoy these things, after the bitter captivity and the abomination of desolation, did not overlook the dead body; but first of all with prayers and supplications propitiated the Father with the common consent of all of you, and invoking the only one that giveth life to the dead as his ally and fellow-worker, raised her that was fallen, after purifying and freeing her from her ills. And he clothed her not with the ancient garment, but with such an one as he had again learned from the sacred oracles, which say clearly, And the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former.'
37. Thus, enclosing a much larger space, he fortified the outer court with a wall surrounding the whole, which should serve as a most secure bulwark for the entire edifice.
38. And he raised and spread out a great and lofty vestibule toward the rays of the rising sun, and furnished those standing far without the sacred enclosure a full view of those within, almost turning the eyes of those who were strangers to the faith, to the entrances, so that no one could pass by without being impressed by the memory of the former desolation and of the present incredible transformation. His hope was that such an one being impressed by this might be attracted and be induced to enter by the very sight.
39. But when one comes within the gates he does not permit him to enter the sanctuary immediately, with impure and unwashed feet; but leaving as large a space as possible between the temple and the outer entrance, he has surrounded and adorned it with four transverse cloisters, making a quadrangular space with pillars rising on every side, which he has joined with lattice-work screens of wood, rising to a suitable height; and he has left an open space in the middle, so that the sky can be seen, and the free air bright in the rays of the sun.
40. Here he has placed symbols of sacred purifications, setting up fountains opposite the temple which furnish an abundance of water wherewith those who come within the sanctuary may purify themselves. This is the first halting-place of those who enter; and it furnishes at the same time a beautiful and splendid scene to every one, and to those who still need elementary instruction a fitting station.
41. But passing by this spectacle, he has made open entrances to the temple with many other vestibules within, placing three doors on one side, likewise facing the rays of the sun. The one in the middle, adorned with plates of bronze, iron bound, and beautifully embossed, he has made much higher and broader than the others, as if he were making them guards for it as for a queen.
42. In the same way, arranging the number of vestibules for the corridors on each side of the whole temple, he has made above them various openings into the building, for the purpose of admitting more light, adorning them with very fine wood-carving. But the royal house he has furnished with more beautiful and splendid materials, using unstinted liberality in his disbursements.
43. It seems to me superfluous to describe here in detail the length and breadth of the building, its splendor and its majesty surpassing description, and the brilliant appearance of the work, its lofty pinnacles reaching to the heavens, and the costly cedars of Lebanon above them, which the divine oracle has not omitted to mention, saying, The trees of the Lord shall rejoice and the cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted.'
44. Why need I now describe the skillful architectural arrangement and the surpassing beauty of each part, when the testimony of the eye renders instruction through the ear superfluous? For when he had thus completed the temple, he provided it with lofty thrones in honor of those who preside, and in addition with seats arranged in proper order throughout the whole building, and finally placed in the middle the holy of holies, the altar, and, that it might be inaccessible to the multitude, enclosed it with wooden lattice-work, accurately wrought with artistic carving, presenting a wonderful sight to the beholders.
45. And not even the pavement was neglected by him; for this too he adorned with beautiful marble of every variety. Then finally he passed on to the parts without the temple, providing spacious exedræ and buildings on each side, which were joined to the basilica, and communicated with the entrances to the interior of the structure. These were erected by our most peaceful Solomon, the maker of the temple of God, for those who still needed purification and sprinkling by water and the Holy Spirit, so that the prophecy quoted above is no longer a word merely, but a fact; for now it has also come to pass that in truth the latter glory of this house is greater than the former.'
46. For it was necessary and fitting that as her shepherd and Lord had once tasted death for her, and after his suffering had changed that vile body which he assumed in her behalf into a splendid and glorious body, leading the very flesh which had been delivered from corruption to incorruption, she too should enjoy the dispensations of the Saviour. For having received from him the promise of much greater things than these, she desires to share uninterruptedly throughout eternity with the choir of the angels of light, in the far greater glory of regeneration, in the resurrection of an incorruptible body, in the palace of God beyond the heavens, with Christ Jesus himself, the universal Benefactor and Saviour.
47. But for the present, she that was formerly widowed and desolate is clothed by the grace of God with these flowers, and is become truly like a lily, as the prophecy says, and having received the bridal garment and the crown of beauty, she is taught by Isaiah to dance, and to present her thank-offerings unto God the King in reverent words.
48. Let us hear her saying, My soul shall rejoice in the Lord; for he hath clothed me with a garment of salvation and with a robe of gladness; he hath bedecked me like a bridegroom with a garland, and he hath adorned me like a bride with jewels; and like the earth which bringeth forth her bud, and like a garden which causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth, thus the Lord God hath caused righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.'
49. In these words she exults. And in similar words the heavenly bridegroom, the Word Jesus Christ himself, answers her. Hear the Lord saying, Fear not because thou hast been put to shame, neither be thou confounded because thou hast been rebuked; for thou shalt forget the former shame, and the reproach of thy widowhood shalt thou remember no more.' Not as a woman deserted and faint-hearted hath the Lord called thee, nor as a woman hated from her youth, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercy will I have mercy upon thee; in a little wrath I hid my face from thee, but with everlasting mercy will I have mercy upon thee, saith the Lord that hath redeemed thee.'
50. Awake, awake, thou who hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; for thou hast drunk the cup of ruin, the vessel of my wrath, and hast drained it. And there was none to console thee of all thy sons whom thou didst bring forth, and there was none to take thee by the hand.' Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of ruin, the vessel of my fury, and thou shalt no longer drink it. And I will put it into the hands of them that have treated thee unjustly and have humbled thee.'
51. Awake, awake, put on thy strength, put on thy glory. Shake off the dust and arise. Sit thee down, loose the bands of thy neck.' Lift up thine eyes round about and behold thy children gathered together; behold they are gathered together and are come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt clothe thee with them all as with an ornament, and gird thyself with them as with the ornaments of a bride. For thy waste and corrupted and ruined places shall now be too narrow by reason of those that inhabit thee, and they that swallow thee up shall be far from thee.
52. For thy sons whom thou hast lost shall say in thine ears, The place is too narrow for me, give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these? I am childless and a widow, and who hath brought up these for me? I was left alone, and these, where were they for me?'
53. |These are the things which Isaiah foretold; and which were anciently recorded concerning us in sacred books and it was necessary that we should sometime learn their truthfulness by their fulfillment.
54. For when the bridegroom, the Word, addressed such language to his own bride, the sacred and holy Church, this bridesman, -- when she was desolate and lying like a corpse, bereft of hope in the eyes of men, -- in accordance with the united prayers of all of you, as was proper, stretched out your hands and aroused and raised her up at the command of God, the universal King, and at the manifestation of the power of Jesus Christ; and having raised her he established her as he had learned from the description given in the sacred oracles.
55. This is indeed a very great wonder, passing all admiration, especially to those who attend only to the outward appearance; but more wonderful than wonders are the archetypes and their mental prototypes and divine models; I mean the reproductions of the inspired and rational building in our souls.
56. This the Divine Son himself created after his own image, imparting to it everywhere and in all respects the likeness of God, an incorruptible nature, incorporeal, rational, free from all earthly matter, a being endowed with its own intelligence; and when he had once called her forth from non-existence into existence, he made her a holy spouse, an all-sacred temple for himself and for the Father. This also he clearly declares and confesses in the following words: I will dwell in them and will walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.' Such is the perfect and purified soul, so made from the beginning as to bear the image of the celestial Word.
57. But when by the envy and zeal of the malignant demon she became, of her own voluntary choice, sensual and a lover of evil, the Deity left her; and as if bereft of a protector, she became an easy prey and readily accessible to those who had long envied her; and being assailed by the batteries and machines of her invisible enemies and spiritual foes, she suffered a terrible fall, so that not one stone of virtue remained upon another in her, but she lay completely dead upon the ground, entirely divested of her natural ideas of God.
58. |But as she, who had been made in the image of God, thus lay prostrate, it was not that wild boar from the forest which we see that despoiled her, but a certain destroying demon and spiritual wild beasts who deceived her with their passions as with the fiery darts of their own wickedness, and burned the truly divine sanctuary of God with fire, and profaned to the ground the tabernacle of his name. Then burying the miserable one with heaps of earth, they destroyed every hope of deliverance.
59. But that divinely bright and saving Word, her protector, after she had suffered the merited punishment for her sins, again restored her, securing the favor of the all-merciful Father.
60. Having won over first the souls of the highest rulers, he purified, through the agency of those most divinely favored princes, the whole earth from all the impious destroyers, and from the terrible and God-hating tyrants themselves. Then bringing out into the light those who were his friends, who had long before been consecrated to him for life, but in the midst, as it were, of a storm of evils, had been concealed under his shelter, he honored them worthily with the great gifts of the Spirit. And again, by means of them, he cleared out and cleaned with spades and mattocks -- the admonitory words of doctrine -- the souls which a little while before had been covered with filth and burdened with every kind of matter and rubbish of impious ordinances.
61. And when he had made the ground of all your minds clean and clear, he finally committed it to this all-wise and God-beloved Ruler, who, being endowed with judgment and prudence, as well as with other gifts, and being able to examine and discriminate accurately the minds of those committed to his charge, from the first day, so to speak, down to the present, has not ceased to build.
62. Now he has supplied the brilliant gold, again the refined and unalloyed silver, and the precious and costly stones in all of you, so that again is fulfilled for you in facts a sacred and mystic prophecy, which says, Behold I make thy stone a carbuncle, and thy foundations of sapphire, and thy battlements of jasper, and thy gates of crystals, and thy wall of chosen stones; and all thy sons shall be taught of God, and thy children shall enjoy complete peace; and in righteousness shalt thou be built.'
63. Building therefore in righteousness, he divided the whole people according to their strength. With some he fortified only the outer enclosure, walling it up with unfeigned faith; such were the great mass of the people who were incapable of bearing a greater structure. Others he permitted to enter the building, commanding them to stand at the door and act as guides for those who should come in; these may be not unfitly compared to the vestibules of the temple. Others he supported by the first pillars which are placed without about the quadrangular hall, initiating them into the first elements of the letter of the four Gospels. Still others he joined together about the basilica on both sides; these are the catechumens who are still advancing and progressing, and are not far separated from the inmost view of divine things granted to the faithful.
64. Taking from among these the pure souls that have been cleansed like gold by divine washing, he then supports them by pillars, much better than those without, made from the inner and mystic teachings of the Scripture, and illumines them by windows.
65. Adorning the whole temple with a great vestibule of the glory of the one universal King and only God, and placing on either side of the authority of the Father Christ, and the Holy Spirit as second lights, he exhibits abundantly and gloriously throughout the entire building the clearness and splendor of the truth of the rest in all its details. And having selected from every quarter the living and moving and well-prepared stones of the souls, he constructs out of them all the great and royal house, splendid and full of light both within and without; for not only soul and understanding, but their body also is made glorious by the blooming ornament of purity and modesty.
66. And in this temple there are also thrones, and a great number of seats and benches, in all those souls in which sit the Holy Spirit's gifts, such as were anciently seen by the sacred apostles, and those who were with them, when there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire, and sat upon each one of them.'
67. But in the leader of all it is reasonable to suppose that Christ himself dwells in his fullness, and in those that occupy the second rank after him, in proportion as each is able to contain the power of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. And the souls of some of those, namely, who are committed to each of them for instruction and care -- may be seats for angels.
68. But the great and august and unique altar, what else could this be than the pure holy of holies of the soul of the common priest of all? Standing at the right of it, Jesus himself, the great High Priest of the universe, the Only Begotten of God, receives with bright eye and extended hand the sweet incense from all, and the bloodless and immaterial sacrifices offered in their prayers, and bears them to the heavenly Father and God of the universe. And he himself first worships him, and alone gives to the Father the reverence which is his due, beseeching him also to continue always kind and propitious to us all.
69. |Such is the great temple which the great Creator of the universe, the Word, has built throughout the entire world, making it an intellectual image upon earth of those things which lie above the vault of heaven, so that throughout the whole creation, including rational beings on earth, his Father might be honored and adored.
70. But the region above the heavens, with the models of earthly things which are there, and the so-called Jerusalem above, and the heavenly Mount of Zion, and the supramundane city of the living God, in which innumerable choirs of angels and the Church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven, praise their Maker and the Supreme Ruler of the universe with hymns of praise unutterable and incomprehensible to us, -- who that is mortal is able worthily to celebrate this? For eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of men those things which God hath prepared for them that love him.'
71. Since we, men, children, and women, small and great, are already in part partakers of these things, let us not cease all together, with one spirit and one soul, to confess and praise the author of such great benefits to us, Who forgiveth all our iniquities, who healeth all our diseases, who redeemeth our life from destruction, who crowneth us with mercy and compassion, who satisfieth our desires 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. Like as a father pitieth his own children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.'
72. Rekindling these thoughts in our memories, both now and during all time to come, and contemplating in our mind night and day, in every hour and with every breath, so to speak, the Author and Ruler of the present festival, and of this bright and most splendid day, let us love and adore him with every power of the soul. And now rising, let us beseech him with loud voice to shelter and preserve us to the end in his fold, granting his unbroken and unshaken peace forever, in Christ Jesus our Saviour; through whom be the glory unto him forever and ever. Amen.|