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Argument III.—He is Stimulated to Speak of Him by the Longing of a Grateful Mind. To the Utmost of His Ability He Thinks He Ought to Thank Him. From God are the Beginnings of All Blessings; And to Him Adequate Thanks Cannot Be Returned.

Ingratitude appears to me to be a dire evil; a dire evil indeed, yea, the direst of evils. For when one has received some benefit, his failing to attempt to make any return by at least the oral expression of thanks, where aught else is beyond his power, marks him out either as an utterly irrational person, or as one devoid of the sense of obligations conferred, or as a man without any memory. And, again, though171171    Reading ὅτῳ, with Hœschelius, Bengel, and the Paris editor, while Voss. reads οτι. one is possessed naturally and at once by the sense and the knowledge of benefits received, yet, unless he also carries the memory of these obligations to future days, and offers some evidence of gratitude to the author of the boons, such a person is a dull, and ungrateful, and impious fellow; and he commits an offence which can be excused neither in the case of the great nor in that of the small:—if we suppose the case of a great and high-minded man not bearing constantly on his lips his great benefits with all gratitude and honour, or that of a small and contemptible man not praising and lauding with all his might one who has been his benefactor, not simply in great services, but also in smaller. Upon the great, therefore, and those who excel in powers of mind, it is incumbent, as out of their greater abundance and larger wealth, to render greater and worthier praise, according to their capacity, to their benefactors. But the humble also, and those in narrow circumstances, it beseems neither to neglect those who do them service, nor to take their services carelessly, nor to flag in heart as if they could offer nothing worthy or perfect; but as poor indeed, and yet as of good feeling, and as measuring not the capacity of him whom they honour, but only their own, they ought to pay him honour according to the present measure of their power,—a tribute which will probably be grateful and pleasant to him who is honoured, and in no less consideration with him than it would have been had it been some great and splendid offering, if it is only presented with decided earnestness, and with a sincere mind. Thus is it laid down in the sacred writings,172172    Luke xxi. 2. that a certain poor and lowly woman, who was with the rich and powerful that were contributing largely and richly out of their wealth, alone and by herself cast in a small, yea, the very smallest offering, which was, however, all the while her whole substance, and received the testimony of having presented the largest oblation. For, as I judge, the sacred word has not set up the large outward quantity of the substance given, but rather the mind and disposition of the giver, as the standard by which the worth and the magnificence of the offering are to be measured. Wherefore it is not meet even for us by any means to shrink from this duty, through the fear that our thanksgivings be not adequate to our obligations; but, on the contrary, we ought to venture and attempt everything, so as to offer thanksgivings, if not adequate, at least such as we have it in our power to exhibit, as in due return. And would that our discourse, even though it comes short of the perfect measure, might at least reach the mark in some degree, and be saved from all appearance of ingratitude! For a persistent silence, maintained under the plausible cover of an inability to say anything worthy of the subject, is a vain and evil thing; but it is the mark of a good disposition always to make the attempt at a suitable return, even although the power of the person who offers the grateful acknowledgment be inferior to the desert of the subject. For my part, even although I am unable to speak as the matter merits, I shall not keep silence; but when I have done all that I possibly can, then I may congratulate myself. Be this, then, the method of my eucharistic discourse. To God, indeed, the God of the universe, I shall not think of speaking in such terms: yet is it from Him that all the beginnings of our blessings come; and with Him consequently is it that the beginning of our thanksgivings, or praises, or laudations, ought to be made. But, in truth, not even though I were to devote myself wholly to that duty, and that, too, not as I now am—to 24wit, profane and impure, and mixed up with and stained by every unhallowed173173    παναγεῖ, which in the lexicons is given as bearing only the good sense, all-hallowed, but which here evidently is taken in the opposite. and polluting evil—but sincere and as pure as pure may be, and most genuine, and most unsophisticated, and uncontaminated by anything vile;—not even, I say, though I were thus to devote myself wholly, and with all the purity of the newly born, to this task, should I produce of myself any suitable gift in the way of honour and acknowledgment to the Ruler and Originator of all things, whom neither men separately and individually, nor yet all men in concert, acting with one spirit and one concordant impulse, as though all that is pure were made to meet in one, and all that is diverse from that were turned also to that service, could ever celebrate in a manner worthy of Him. For, in whatsoever measure any man is able to form right and adequate conceptions of His works, and (if such a thing were possible) to speak worthily regarding Him, then, so far as that very capacity is concerned,—a capacity with which he has not been gifted by any other one, but which he has received from Him alone, he cannot possibly find any greater matter of thanksgiving than what is implied in its possession.


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