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Hymns And Homilies Of Ephraim The Syrian by Ephraim the Syrian

Hymn XVI. Herein is a mirror to be blamed,--if its clearness is darkened--because there are spots on its substance

1. Herein is a mirror to be blamed, -- if its clearness is darkened -- because there are spots on its substance; -- for the foulness that is on it becomes -- a covering before them that look on it. R. Blessed be He Who polished our mirror!

2. For that comeliness is not adorned in it, -- and blemishes are not brought to view in it, -- it is altogether a damage to comely things; -- seeing that their comeliness gain not -- adornments as their profit.

3. Blemishes are not rooted out by it, -- likewise adornments are not multiplied by it. -- A blemish that remains is as a loss; -- that there is no adornment is a defect: -- loss is met together with defect.

4. If our mirror be darkness, -- it is altogether joy to the hateful; -- because their blemishes are not reproved: -- but if polished and shining, -- it is our freedom that is adorned.

5. Twofold is the loss in defect, -- for the hateful and for the goodly; -- in that the goodly gain no crown, -- and likewise the hateful get no adorning: -- the mirror divides the loss.

6. Never does the mirror drive -- by compulsion him that looks therein: -- so likewise grace which followed -- upon the righteousness of the Law, -- does not possess the compulsion of the Law.

7. Righteousness was unto childhood, -- its adorner of compulsion; -- for when mankind was in childhood, -- she adorned it by compulsion, -- while she robbed it not of its freedom.

8. Righteousness used blandishment, -- and the rod to deal with childhood; -- when she smote it she roused it; her rod restrained frowardness, her blandishment softened the minds.

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9. [If one turn from the Gospel,] wherewith we are adorned to-day, my brethren, -- to another gospel he is a child: -- in a time of greatness of understanding, -- he is become without understanding.

10. For in the degree of full age, -- he has gone down to childhood; -- and he loves the law of bondmen, -- which when he is confident smites him, -- and when he rejoices buffets him.

11. Whatsoever ornament is compulsion, -- is not true but is borrowed. -- This is a great thing in God's eyes, -- that a man should be adorned by himself: -- therefore took He away compulsion.

12. For even as of His prudence -- in its own time He employed compulsion, -- so likewise of His prudence, -- He took it away at a time -- when gentleness was desired in its stead.

13. For as it is befitting to Youth, -- that it should be made to haste under the rod; -- so is it very hateful that under the rod -- Wisdom should be brought to serve, -- that compulsion should be lord over her.

14. Behold therefore how likewise -- God has ordered my successions -- in the pastors I have had, -- and in the teachers He has given me, -- and in the fathers He has reckoned unto me!

15. For weighed out according to their times -- were the helps of their qualities; -- namely in him in whom it was needful, fear; and in whom it was profitable, heartening; and in whom it was becoming, meekness.

16. By measure He made my steps advance: -- to my childhood He assigned terror; likewise to my youth, fear; -- to my age of wisdom and prudence, -- He assigned and gave meekness.

17. In the frowardness of the degree of childhood, -- my instructor was a fear to me: -- his rod restrained me from wantonness, -- and from mischief the terror of him, -- and from indulgence the fear of him.

18. Another father He gave to my youth: -- what there was in me of childishness, -- that was there in him of hardness; what there was in me of maturity, -- that was in him as meekness.

19. When I rose from the degrees -- of childhood and of youth, -- there passed away the terror that was first, -- there passed away the fear that was second; -- He gave me a kind pastor.

20. Lo! for my full age his food; -- and for my wisdom his interpretations; -- and for my peace his meekness; -- and for my repose his kindness; -- and for my chastity his gravity!

21. Blessed is He who as in a balance -- weighed out and gave me fathers: -- for according to my times were my helps; -- and according to my sicknesses my medicines; -- and according to my comelinesses my adornments!

22. We then are they that have disturbed -- the succession and fair order; -- for in a time of mildness -- lo! we crave for hardness, -- that Thou should rebuke us as though we were children!

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