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Chapter XV.—Concerning the honour due to the Saints and their remains.
To the saints honour must be paid as friends of Christ, as sons and heirs of God: in the words of John the theologian and evangelist, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to became sons of God24662466 St. John i. 12.. So that they are no longer servants, but sons: and if sons, also heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ24672467 Gal. iv. 7; Rom. viii. 17.: and the Lord in the holy Gospels says to His apostles, Ye are My friends24682468 St. John xv. 14.. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth24692469 Ibid. 15.. And further, if the Creator and Lord of all things is called also King of Kings and Lord of Lords24702470 Apoc. xix. 16. and God of Gods, surely also the saints are gods and lords and kings. For of these God is and is called God and Lord and King. For I am the God of Abraham, He said to Moses, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob24712471 Ex. iii. 6.. And God made Moses a god to Pharaoh24722472 Ibid. vii. 1.. Now I mean gods and kings and lords not in nature, but as rulers and masters of their passions, and as preserving a truthful likeness to the divine image according to which they were made (for the image of a king is also called king), and as being united to God of their own free-will and receiving Him as an indweller and becoming by grace through participation with Him what He is Himself by nature. Surely, then, the worshippers and friends and sons of God are to be held in honour? For the honour shewn to the most thoughtful of fellow-servants is a proof of good feeling towards the common Master24732473 Basil, Orat. in 40 Martyr..
These are made treasuries and pure habitations of God: For I will dwell in them, said God, and walk in them, and I will be their God24742474 Levit. xxvi. 12; 2 Cor. vi. 16.. The divine Scripture likewise saith that the souls of the just are in God’s hand24752475 Wisd. iii. 1. and death cannot lay hold of them. For death is rather the sleep of the saints than their death. For they travailed in this life and shall to the end24762476 Ps. xl. 9, 10., and Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints24772477 Ibid. cxvi. 15.. What then, is more precious than to be in the hand of God? For God is Life and Light, and those who are in God’s hand are in life and light.
Further, that God dwelt even in their bodies in spiritual wise24782478 διὰ τοῦ νοῦ., the Apostle tells us, saying, Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you?24792479 1 Cor. iii. 16., and The Lord is that Spirit24802480 2 Cor. iii. 17., and If any one destroy the temple of God, him will God destroy24812481 1 Cor. iii. 17.. Surely, then, we must ascribe honour to the living temples of God, the living tabernacles of God. These while they lived stood with confidence before God.
The Master Christ made the remains of the saints to be fountains of salvation to us, pouring forth manifold blessings and abounding in oil of sweet fragrance: and let no one disbelieve this24822482 Aster., Hom. in SS. Mart.. For if water burst in the desert from the steep and solid rock at God’s will24832483 Ex. xvii. 6. and from the jaw-bone of an ass to quench Samson’s thirst24842484 Judg. xv. 17., is it incredible that fragrant oil should burst forth from the martyrs’ remains? By no means, at least to those who know the power of God and the honour which He accords His saints.
In the law every one who toucheth a dead body was considered impure24852485 Num. xix. 11., but these are not dead. For from the time when He that is Himself life and the Author of life was reckoned among the dead, we do not call those dead who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and in faith on Him. For how could a dead body work miracles? How, therefore, are demons driven off by them, diseases dispelled, sick persons made well, the blind restored to sight, lepers purified, temptations and troubles overcome, and how does every good gift from the Father of lights24862486 Jas. i. 17. come down through them to those who pray with sure faith? How much labour would you not undergo to find a patron to introduce you to a mortal king and speak to him on your behalf? Are not those, then, worthy of honour who are the patrons of the whole race, and make intercession to God for us? Yea, verily, we ought to give honour to them by raising temples to God in their name, bringing them fruit-offerings, honouring their memories and taking spiritual delight in them, in order that the joy of those who call on us may be ours, that in our attempts at worship we may not on the contrary cause them offence. For those who worship God will take pleasure in those things whereby God is worshipped, while His shield-bearers will be wrath at those things wherewith God is wroth. In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs24872487 Ephes. v. 19., in contrition and in pity for the needy, let us believers24882488 Text, πιστοί. Variant, πίστει in Reg. 1. worship the saints, as God also is most worshipped in such wise. Let us raise monuments to them and visible images, and let us ourselves become, through imitation of their virtues, living monuments and images of them. Let us give honour to her who bore God as being strictly and truly the Mother of God. Let us honour also the prophet John as forerunner and baptist24892489 Almost all read τὸν πρόδρομον ᾽Ιωάννην, ὡς προφήτην, &c., as apostle and martyr, For among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist24902490 St. Matt. xi. 11., as saith the Lord, and he became the first to proclaim the Kingdom. Let us honour the apostles as the Lord’s brothers, who saw Him face to face and ministered to His passion, for whom God the Father did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son24912491 Rom. viii. 29., first apostles, second prophets24922492 1 Cor. xii. 24., third pastors and teachers24932493 Ephes. iv. 11.. Let us also honour the martyrs of the Lord chosen out of every class, as soldiers of Christ who have drunk His cup and were then baptized with the baptism of His life-bringing death, to be partakers of His passion and glory: of whom the leader is Stephen, the first deacon of Christ and apostle and first martyr. Also let us honour our holy fathers, the God-possessed ascetics, whose struggle was the longer and more toilsome one of the conscience: who wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy24942494 Hebr. xi. 37, 38.. Let us honour those who were prophets before grace, the patriarchs and just men who foretold the Lord’s coming. Let us carefully review the life of these men, and let us emulate their faith24952495 Ibid. xiii. 7. and love and hope and zeal and way of life, and endurance of sufferings and patience even to blood, in order that we may be sharers with them in their crowns of glory.
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