The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church/XXV

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Se godspellere Lucas awrát on Cristes béc be acennednysse Iohannes ðæs Fulluhteres, þus cweðende, "Sum eawfæst Godes ðegen wæs geháten Zacharias, his gebedda wæs geciged Elisabeth. Hí butu wæron rihtwise ætforan Gode, on his bebodum and rihtwisnyssum forðstæppende butan tále. Næs him cild gemæne:" et reliqua. The evangelist Luke wrote in the book of Christ concerning the birth of John the Baptist, thus saying, "There was a certain pious servant of God called Zacharias, his wife was called Elizabeth. They were both righteous before God, walking forth in his commandments and righteousnesses without blame. They had no child in common," etc.
"Eal his reaf wæs awefen of olfendes hǽrum, his bigleofa wæs stiðlic; ne dranc he wines drenc, ne nanes gemencgedes wætan, ne gebrowenes: ofet hine fedde, and wude-hunig, and oðre waclice ðigena." "All his garment was woven of camel's hair, his food was coarse; he drank not drink of wine, nor of any mixed or prepared fluid: fruit fed him and wood-honey, and other common things.
"On ðam fifteoðan geare ðæs caseres rices Tyberii com Godes word ofer Iohannem, on ðam westene; and he ferde to folces neawiste, and bodade Iudeiscum folce fulluht on synna forgyfenysse, swa swa hit awriten is on Isaies witegunge." "In the fifteenth year of the reign of the emperor Tiberius, the word of God came upon John, in the waste, and he went into the presence of people, and preached to the Jewish folk baptism for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the prophecy of Isaiah."
Cristes fulluht he bodade toweard eallum geleaffullum, on ðam is synna forgyfenys þurh ðone Halgan Gást. Iohannes eac be Godes dihte fullode ða ðe him to comon ðæra Iudeiscra ðeoda, ac his fulluht ne dyde nánre synne forgyfenysse, forðan ðe he wæs Godes bydel, and na God. He bodade mannum þæs Hælendes to-cyme mid wordum, and his halige fulluht mid his agenum fulluhte, on ðam he gefullode ðone unsynnian Godes Sunu, ðe nánre synne forgyfenysse ne behófade. The baptism of Christ to come he preached to all believers, in which is forgiveness of sins through the Holy Ghost. John also, by God's direction, baptized those who came to him of the Jewish nations, but his baptism wrought no forgiveness of sin, for he was God's messenger, and not God. He announced to men the advent of Jesus with words, and His holy baptism with his own baptism, with which he baptized the sinless Son of God, who needed no forgiveness of sin.
Rihtlice weorðað Godes gelaðung ðisne dæg þæs mæran Fulluhteres gebyrd-tide, for ðam manegum wundrum ðe gelumpon on his acennednysse. Godes heah-engel Gabrihel bodade ðam fæder Zacharían his acennednysse, and his healican geðincðu, and his mærlican drohtnunge. Þæt cild on his modor innoðe oncneow Marian stemne, Godes cynnestran; and on innoðe ða-gyt beclysed, mid wítigendlicre fægnunge getácnode þone halwendan to-cyme ures Alysendes. On his acennednysse he ætbræd þære meder hire unwæstmbærnysse, and þæs fæder tungan his nama unbánd, þe mid his agenre geleafleaste adumbod wæs. Rightly does God's church honour this day, the birth-tide of the great Baptist, for the many wonders which happened at his birth. God's archangel Gabriel announced his birth to Zacharias his father, and his high honours, and his illustrious life. The child in his mother's womb knew the voice of Mary, the parent of God; and in the womb yet closed, betokened with prophetic joy the salutary advent of our Redeemer. At his birth he removed from his mother her barrenness, and his name unbound the tongue of his father, who by his own want of belief had been made dumb.
Ðreora manna gebyrd-tide freolsað seo halige gelaðung: ðæs Hælendes, seðe is God and mann, and Iohannes his bydeles, and ðære eadigan Marian his moder. Oðra gecorenra manna, ðe ðurh martyrdom, oððe þurh oðre halige geearnunga, Godes rice geferdon, heora endenextan dæg, seðe hí æfter gefyllednysse ealra earfoðnyssa sigefæste to ðam ecan life acende, we wurðiað him to gebyrd-tide; and ðone dæg, ðe hí to ðisum andweardan life acennede wæron, we lætað to gymeleaste, forðan ðe hí comon hider to earfoðnyssum, and costnungum, and mislicum fræcednyssum. Se dæg bið gemyndig Godes ðeowum ðe ða halgan, æfter gewunnenum sige, asende to ecere myrhðe fram eallum gedreccednyssum, and se is heora soðe acennednys; na wóplic, swa swa seo ærre, ac blissigendlic to ðam ecum life. Ac us is to wurðigenne mid micelre gecnyrdnysse Cristes gebyrd-tide, ðurh ða us com alysednys. The holy church celebrates the birth-tide of three persons,—of Jesus, who is God and man, and of John his messenger, and of the blessed Mary his mother. Of other chosen persons, who, through martyrdom, or through other holy merits, have gone to the kingdom of God, we celebrate as their birth-tide their last day, which, after the fulfilment of all their labours, brought them forth victorious to eternal life; and the day on which they were born to this present life we let pass unheeded, because they came hither to hardships, and temptations, and divers perils. The day is memorable to the servants of God which sends his saints, after victory won, to eternal joy from all afflictions, and which is their true birth; not tearful as the first, but exulting in eternal life. But the birth-tide of Christ is to be celebrated with great care, through which came our redemption.
Iohannes is geendung ðære ealdan ǽ and anginn ðære níwan, swa swa se Hælend be him cwæð, "Seo ealde ǽ and wítegan wæron oð Iohannes to-cyme." Siððan ongann godspel-bodung. Nu for his micclan halignysse is gewurðod his acennednys, swa swa se heah-engel behet his fæder mid ðisum wordum, "Manega blissiað on his gebyrd-tide." María, Godes cynnestre, nis nanum oðrum gelic, forðan ðe heo is mæden and modor, and ðone abǽr ðe hí and ealle gesceafta gesceop: is heo forði wel wyrðe þæt hire acennednys arwurðlice gefreolsod sy. John is the ending of the old law and the beginning of the new, as Jesus said of him, "The old law and the prophets were till the coming of John." Afterwards began the gospel-preaching. Now, on account of his great holiness, his birth is honoured, as the archangel promised his father with these words, "Many shall rejoice in his birth-tide." Mary, the parent of God, is like to none other, for she is maiden and mother, and bare him who created her and all creatures: therefore is she well worthy that her birth should be honourably celebrated.
Þa magas setton ðam cilde naman, Zacharias, ac seo modor him wiðcwæð mid wordum, and se dumba fæder mid gewrite; forðan ðe se engel, ðe hine cydde toweardne, him gesceop naman be Godes dihte, Iohannes. Ne mihte se dumba fæder cyðan his wife hu se engel his cilde naman gesette, ac, ðurh Godes Gastes onwrigenysse, se nama hire wearð cuð. Zacharias is gereht, 'Gemindig Godes;' and Iohannes, 'Godes gifu;' forðan ðe he bodade mannum Godes gife, and Crist toweardne, þe ealne middangeard mid his gife gewissað. He wæs asend toforan Drihtne, swa swa se dægsteorra gæð beforan ðære sunnan, swa swa bydel ætforan deman, swa swa seo Ealde Gecyðnys ætforan ðære Niwan; forðan ðe seo ealde ǽ wæs swilce sceadu, and seo Niwe Gecyðnys is soðfæstnys ðurh ðæs Hælendes gife. The relatives bestowed on the child the name of Zacharias, but the mother contradicted them by words, and the dumb father by writing; because the angel who had announced that he was to come, had, by God's direction, given him the name of John. The dumb father could not have informed his wife how the angel had bestowed a name on his child, but by revelation of the Spirit of God the name was known to her. Zacharias is interpreted, 'Mindful of God;' and John, 'God's grace;' because he preached to men the grace of God, and that Christ was to come, who directs all the earth with his grace. He was sent before the Lord, as the day-star goes before the sun, as the beadle before the judge, as the Old Testament before the New; for the Old Law was as a shadow, and the New Testament is truth through the grace of Jesus.
Anes geares cild hí wæron, Crist and Iohannes. On ðisum dæge acende seo unwæstmbære moder ðone mæran witegan Iohannem, se is gehérod mid þisum wordum, ðurh Cristes muð, "Betwux wifa bearnum ne arás nan mærra man ðonne is Iohannes se Fulluhtere." They were children of the same year, Christ and John. On this day the barren mother brought forth the great prophet John, who is praised in these words by the mouth of Christ, "Among the children of men there hath not arisen a greater man than is John the Baptist."
On middes wintres mæsse-dæge acende þæt halige mæden Maria þone Heofenlican Æðeling, se nis geteald to wifa bearnum, forðon ðe he is Godes Sunu on ðære Godcundnysse, and Godes and mædenes Bearn ðurh menniscnysse. Iohannes forfleah folces neawiste on geogoðe, and on westene mid stiðre drohtnunge synna forbeah. Se Hælend betwux synfullum unwemme fram ælcere synne ðurhwunode. Se bydel gebigde on ðam timan micelne heap Israhela ðeode to heora Scyppende mid his bodunge. Drihten dæghwamlice of eallum ðeodum to his geleafan, ðurh onlihtinge ðæs Halgan Gastes, ungerim sawla gebigð. On the mass-day of midwinter the holy maiden Mary brought forth the Heavenly Prince, who is not numbered with the children of men, because he is the Son of God in his Godhead, and the Son of God and of a maiden by his human nature. John fled from the presence of people in his youth, and in the waste, with austere life-course, avoided sin. Jesus continued among the sinful pure from every sin. The crier inclined, at that time, a great body of the people of Israel to their Creator by his announcement. The Lord daily inclines souls without number of all nations to his faith, through enlightening of the Holy Ghost.
Þæt halige godspel cwyð be ðam Fulluhtere, þæt he forestope ðam Hælende on gaste and on mihte þæs witegan Helian; forðan ðe he wæs his forrynel æt ðam ærran to-cyme, swa swa Helias bið æt ðam æftran togeanes Antecriste. Nis butan getacnunge þæt ðæs bydeles acennednys on ðære tide wæs gefremod ðe se woruldlica dæg wanigende bið, and on Drihtnes gebyrd-tide weaxende bið. Þas getacnunge onwreah se ylca Iohannes mid ðisum wordum, "Criste gedafenað þæt he weaxe, and me þæt ic wanigende beo." Iohannes wæs hraðor mannum cuð þurh his mærlican drohtnunga, þonne Crist wære, forðan ðe hé ne æteowde his godcundan mihte, ærðam ðe hé wæs ðritig geara on ðære menniscnysse. Þa wæs he geðuht ðam folce þæt hé witega wære, and Iohannes Crist. Hwæt ða Crist geswutelode hine sylfne ðurh miccle tacna, and his hlisa weox geond ealne middangeard, þæt he soð God wæs, seðe wæs ærðan witega geðuht. Iohannes soðlice wæs wanigende on his hlisan, forðan ðe he wearð oncnawen witega, and bydel ðæs Heofonlican Æðelinges, seðe wæs lytle ær Crist geteald mid ungewissum wenan. Þas wanunge getacnað se wanigenda dæg his gebyrd-tide, and se ðeonda dæg ðæs Hælendes acennednysse gebícnað his ðeondan mihte æfter ðære menniscnysse. The holy gospel says of the Baptist, that he preceded Jesus in spirit and in power of the prophet Elias; because he was his forerunner at his first advent, as Elias will be at the second against Antichrist. It is not without signification that the birth of the crier was completed on the day when the worldly day is waning, and that it is waxing on the birth-tide of the Lord. This signification the same John revealed in these words, "It is befitting Christ that he wax, and me that I be waning." John was sooner known to men, through his illustrious life-course, than Christ was, for He manifested not his divine power, ere that he had been thirty years in human nature. Then it seemed to the people that he was a prophet, and that John was Christ. But Christ manifested himself by many great miracles, and his fame waxed through all the world, that he was true God, who before that had seemed a prophet. But John was waning in his fame, for he was acknowledged a prophet, and the proclaimer of the Heavenly Prince, who a little before had by uncertain supposition been accounted Christ. The waning day of his birth-tide betokens this waning, and the increasing day of the birth of Jesus signifies his increasing power according to his human nature.
Fela witegan mid heora witegunge bodedon Drihten toweardne, sume feorran sume neán, ac Iohannes his to-cyme mid wordum bodade, and eac mid fingre gebicnode, ðus cweðende, "Loca nu! Efne her gæð Godes Lamb, seðe ætbret middangeardes synna." Crist is manegum naman genemned. He is Wisdom geháten, forðan ðe se Fæder ealle gesceafta þurh hine geworhte. He is Word gecweden, forðan þe word is wisdomes geswutelung. Be ðam Worde ongann se godspellere Iohannes þa godspellican gesetnysse, ðus cweðende, "On frymðe wæs Word, and þæt Word wæs mid Gode, and þæt Word wæs God." He is Lamb geháten, for ðære unscæððignysse lambes gecyndes; and wæs unscyldig, for ure alysednysse, his Fæder liflic onsægednys, on lambes wisan geoffrod. He is Leo geciged of Iudan mægðe, Dauides wyrtruma, forðan ðe he, ðurh his godcundlican strencðe, þone miclan deofol mid sige his ðrowunge oferswiðde. Many prophets by their prophecy announced the Lord to come, some from afar some near, but John announced his advent by words, and also with his finger signified it, thus saying, "Look now! Behold here goeth the Lamb of God, who shall take away the sins of the world." Christ is named by many names. He is called Wisdom, because the Father wrought all things through him. He is called Word, because a word is the manifestation of wisdom. The evangelist John began the evangelical memorial with the Word, thus saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." He is called Lamb, from the innocence of the lamb's nature; and was guiltless, for our redemption, offered a living sacrifice to his Father in the manner of a lamb. He is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, because, through his godly strength he overcame the great devil by the victory of his passion.
Se halga Fulluhtere, ðe we ymbe sprecað, astealde stiðlice drohtnunge, ægðer ge on scrude ge on bígwiste, swa swa we hwene æror rehton; forðan ðe se Wealdenda Hælend þus be him cweðende wæs, "Fram Iohannes dagum Godes rice ðolað neadunge, and ða strecan-mód hit gegripað." Cuð is gehwilcum snoterum mannum, þæt seo ealde ǽ wæs eaðelicre þonne Cristes Gesetnys sy, forðan ðe on ðære næs micel forhæfednys, ne ða gastlican drohtnunga þe Crist siððan gesette, and his apostoli. Oðer is seo gesetnys ðe se cyning bytt ðurh his ealdormenn oððe gerefan, oðer bið his agen gebann on his andweardnysse. Godes rice is gecweden on ðisre stowe seo hálige gelaðung, þæt is eal cristen folc, þe sceal mid neadunge and strecum mode þæt heofonlice rice geearnian. Hu mæg beon butan strece and neadunge, þæt gehwá mid clænnysse þæt gále gecynd þurh Godes gife gewylde? Oððe hwá gestilð hatheortnysse his modes mid geðylde, butan earfoðnysse? oððe hwá awent modignysse mid soðre eadmodnysse? oððe hwá druncennysse mid syfernysse? oððe hwá gitsunge mid rúmgifulnysse, butan strece? Ac se ðe his ðeawas mid anmodnysse, þurh Godes fultum, swa awent, he bið ðonne to oðrum menn geworht; oðer he bið þurh gódnysse, and se ylca ðurh edwiste, and he gelæcð ðonne ðurh strece þæt heofenlice rice. The holy Baptist of whom we are speaking, established a rigid life-course, both in raiment and in food, as we have mentioned a little before; for the Mighty Jesus was thus saying of him, "From the days of John the kingdom of God suffereth compulsion, and the violent seize it." It is known to every intelligent man, that the old law was easier than the Institute of Christ is, for in it there was no great continence nor the ghostly courses which Christ and his apostles afterwards established. One thing is the institute which the king ordains through his nobles or officials, another is his own edict in his presence. The holy church is in this place called God's kingdom, that is, all christian people, who shall with force and violence earn the heavenly kingdom. How can it be without violence and compulsion, that any one by chastity overcomes libidinous nature through God's grace? Or who shall still the frenzy of his mind with patience, without difficulty? or who shall exchange pride for true humility? or who drunkenness for soberness? or who covetousness for munificence, without violence? But he who, through God's support, so changes his ways with steadfastness, will then be made another man; another he will be in goodness, and the same in substance, and he will then by violence seize the heavenly kingdom.
Twa forhæfednysse cynn syndon, án lichamlic, oðer gastlic. An is, þæt gehwá hine sylfne getemprige mid gemete on ǽte and on wæte, and werlice ða oferflowendlican ðygene him sylfum ætbrede. Oðer forhæfednysse cynn is deorwurðre and healicre, ðeah seo oðer gód sy: styran his modes styrunge mid singalre gemetfæstnysse, and campian dæghwamlice wið leahtras, and hine sylfne ðreagian mid styrnysse ðære gastlican steore, swa þæt hé ða reðan deor eahta heafod-leahtra swilce mid isenum midlum gewylde. Deorwyrðe is þeos forhæfednys, and wulderfull ðrowung on Godes gesihðe, ða yfelan geðohtas and unlustas mid agenre cynegyrde gestyran, and fram derigendlicere spræce, and pleolicum weorce hine sylfne forhabban, swa swa fram cwylmbærum mettum. Se ðe ðas ðing gecneordlice begæð, he gripð untweolice þæt behátene ríce mid Gode and eallum his halgum. Micel strec bið, þæt mennisce menn mid eadmodum geearnungum ða heofenlican myrhðe begytan, ðe ða heofenlican englas ðurh modignysse forluron. There are two kinds of continence, one bodily, the other ghostly. One is, that everyone govern himself with moderation in food and in drink, and manfully remove from himself superfluous aliment. The second kind of continence is more precious and exalted,—though the other is good,—to guide the agitation of his mind with constant moderation, and fight daily against sins, and chastise himself with the sternness of ghostly correction, so that he restrain the fierce beast of the eight capital sins as it were with iron bonds. Precious is this continence and glorious suffering in the sight of God, to govern evil thoughts and sinful pleasures with our own sceptre, and to abstain from injurious speech and perilous work, as from death-bearing meats. He who sedulously performs these things, seizes undoubtedly the promised kingdom with God and all his saints. Great violence it is through which human beings with humble merits obtain that heavenly joy, which the heavenly angels lost through pride.
Us gelustfullað gyt furður to sprecenne be ðan halgan were Iohanne, him to wurðmynte and ús to beterunge. Be him awrát se witega Isaias, þæt he is "stemn clypigendes on westene, Gearciað Godes weig, doð rihte his paðas. Ælc dene bið gefylled, and ælc dún bið geeadmet, and ealle wohnyssa beoð gerihte, and scearpnyssa gesmeðode." Se witega hine het stemn, forðan ðe he forestóp Criste, ðe is Word gehaten: na swilc word swa menn sprecað, ac he is ðæs Fæder Wisdom, and word bið wisdomes geswutelung. Þæt Word is Ælmihtig God, Sunu mid his Fæder. On ælcum worde bið stemn gehyred, ǽr þæt word fullice gecweden sy. Swa swa stemn forestæpð worde, swa forestóp Iohannes ðam Hælende on middangearde; forðan ðe God Fæder hine sende ætforan gesihðe his Bearnes, þæt he sceolde gearcian and dæftan his weig. Hwæt ða Iohannes to mannum clypode þas ylcan word, "Gearciað Godes weig." Se bydel ðe bodað rihtne geleafan and gode weorc, he gearcað þone weig cumendum Gode to ðæra heorcnigendra heortan. It delights us to speak yet further of the holy man John, for his honour and our bettering. Of him the prophet Isaiah wrote, that he is "the voice of one crying in the waste, Prepare the way of God, make right his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every hill shall be lowered, and all crookednesses shall be straightened, and sharpnesses smoothed." The prophet called himself a voice, because he preceded Christ, who is called the Word: not such a word as men speak, but he is the Wisdom of the Father, and a word is the manifestation of wisdom. The Word is Almighty God, the Son with his Father. In every word the voice is heard before the word is fully spoken. As the voice precedes the word, so did John precede Jesus on earth; for God the Father sent him before the sight of his Son, that he might prepare and make ready his way. But John cried these same words to men, "Prepare the way of God." The crier who announces right belief and good works, prepares the way for the coming God to the heart of the hearkeners.
Godes weg bið gegearcod on manna heortan, þonne hí ðære Soðfæstnysse spræce eadmodlice gehyrað, and gearuwe beoð to Lifes bebodum; be ðam cwæð se Hælend, "Se ðe me lufað, he hylt min bebod, and min Fæder hine lufað, and wit cumað to him, and mid him wuniað." His paðas beoð gerihte, þonne ðurh gode bodunge aspringað clæne geðohtas on mode ðæra hlystendra. Dena getácniað þa eadmodan, and dúna ða modigan. On Drihtnes to-cyme wurdon dena afyllede, and dúna geeadmette, swa swa he sylf cwæð, "Ælc ðæra ðe hine onhefð bið geeadmet, and se ðe hine geeadmet bið geuferod." Swa swa wæter scyt of ðære dúne, and ætstent on dene, swa forflihð se Halga Gast modigra manna heortan, and nimð wununge on ðam eadmodan, swa swa se witega cwæð, "On hwam gerest Godes Gast buton on ðam eadmodan?" Ðwyrnyssa beoð gerihte, þonne ðwyrlicra manna heortan, þe beoð ðurh unrihtwisnysse hócas awegde, eft ðurh regol-sticcan ðære soðan rihtwisnysse beoð geemnode. Scearpnyssa beoð awende to smeðum wegum, ðonne ða yrsigendan mod, and unliðe gecyrrað to manðwærnysse, þurh ongyte ðære upplican gife. The way of God is prepared in the heart of men, when they humbly hear the speech of Truth, and are ready to the commandments of Life; of whom Jesus said, "He who loveth me holdeth my commandment, and my Father loveth him, and we will come to him, and will dwell with him." His paths shall be straight, when, through good preaching, pure thoughts spring up in the mind of the listeners. Valleys betoken the humble, and hills the proud. At the Lord's advent valleys shall be filled, and hills lowered, as he himself said, "Everyone of them who exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he who humbleth himself shall be exalted." As water rushes from the hill and stands in the valley, so flees the Holy Ghost from the heart of proud men, and takes his dwelling in the humble, as the prophet said, "In whom resteth the Spirit of God but in the humble?" Crookednesses shall be straight, when the hearts of perverse men, which are agitated by the hooks of unrighteousness, are again made even by the ruling-rods of true righteousness. Sharpnesses shall be turned to smooth ways, when angry and ungentle minds turn to gentleness through infusion of the heavenly grace.
Langsumlic bið us to gereccenne, and eow to gehyrenne ealle ða deopnyssa ðæs mæran Fulluhteres bodunge: hu he ða heardheortan Iudeiscre ðeode mid stearcre ðreale and stiðre myngunge to lífes wege gebigde, and æfter his ðrowunge hellwarum Cristes to-cyme cydde, swa swa he on life mancynne agene alysednysse mid hludre stemne bealdlice bodade. Tedious it would be for us to recount and for you to hear all the depths of the great Baptist's preaching: how with strong reproof and severe admonition he inclined the hard-hearted of the Jewish people to the way of life, and after his suffering announced Christ's advent to the inhabitants of hell, as he in life had with loud voice boldly preached their own redemption to mankind.
Uton nu biddan ðone Wealdendan Hælend, þæt he, ðurh his ðæs mæran Forryneles and Fulluhteres ðingunge, ús gemiltsige on andweardum lífe, and to ðam ecan gelæde, ðam sy wuldor and lóf mid Fæder and Halgum Gaste á on ecnysse. Amen. Let us now pray the Powerful Saviour, that he, through the mediation of the great Forerunner and Baptist, be merciful to us in the present life, and lead us to the life eternal, to whom be glory and praise with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever to eternity. Amen.