« Eusebius, bishop of Rome Eusebius of Alexandria, writer of sermons Eusebius of Caesarea »

Eusebius of Alexandria, writer of sermons

Eusebius (5), of Alexandria, a writer of sermons, about whom Galland says "all is uncertain; nothing can be affirmed on good grounds as to his age or as to his bishopric" (Bibl. Patr. viii. p. xxiii.). It is uncertain whether he belongs to the 5th or the 6th cent. A complete list of sermons is given by Mai, as follows: 1. On Fasting.  2. On Love.  3. On the Incarnation and its Causes.  4. On Thankfulness in Sickness.  5. On Imparting Grace to him that Lacks it.  6. On Sudden Death, or, Those that Die by Snares.  7. On New Moon, Sabbath, and on not Observing the Voices of Birds.  8. On Commemoration of Saints.  9. On Meals, at such festivals.  10. On the Nativity.  11. On the Baptism of Christ.  12. On "Art thou He that should come?"  13. On the Coming of John into Hades, and on the Devil.  14. On the Treason of Judas.  15. On the Devil and Hades.  16. On the Lord's Day.  17. On the Passion, for the Preparation Day.  18. On the Resurrection.  19. On the Ascension.  20. On the Second Advent.  21. On "Astronomers."  22. On Almsgiving, and on the Rich Man and Lazarus.  He adheres to the Catholic doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. He uses the ordinary Eastern phrase, "Christ our God," speaks of Him as Maker of the world, as Master of the creation, as present from the beginning with the prophets, and as the Lord of Isaiah's vision. He calls the Holy Spirit consubstantial with the Father and the Son; in the sermon on Almsgiving he calls the Virgin Mother "Ever-Virgin," "Theotokos," and "our undefiled Lady.", He insists on free will and responsibility. "God . . . saith, 'If you do not choose to hear Me, I do not compel you.' God could make thee good against thy will, but what is involuntary is unrewarded. . . . If He wrote it down that I was to commit sin, and I do commit it, why does He judge me?" If a man means to please God, "God holds out a hand to him straightway," etc. Before a man renounces the world (by a monastic vow), let him try himself, know his own soul. He who fasts must fast with "tongue, eyes, hands, feet"; his whole "body, soul, and spirit" must be restrained from all sinful indulgence. "Fast, as the Lord said, in cheerfulness, with sincere love to all men. But when you have done all this, do not think you are better than A. or B. Say you are unprofitable servants." People are not to blame wine, but those who drink it to excess; nor riches, but the man who administers them ill. Abraham had riches, but they harmed him not, etc. Some sentences shew a true spiritual insight: "What sort of righteousness exceeds the rest? Love, for without it no good comes of any other. What sin is worst? All sin is dreadful, but none is worse than covetousness and remembrance of injuries" (Serm. On Love). He has humour, too, which must have told: "on Sundays the herald calls people to church; everybody says he is sleepy, or unwell. Hark! a sound of harp or pipe, a noise of dancing: all hasten that way as if on wings" (Hom. on the Lord's Day, Galland. viii. 253). He depicts vividly the extravagance of Alexandrian wealth; the splendid houses glistening with marble, beds and carpets wrought with gold and pearls, horses with golden bridles and saddles, the crowds of servants of various classes—some to attend the great man when he rides out, some to manage his lands or his house, building, or his kitchen, some to fan him at his meals, to keep the house quiet during his slumber:—the varieties of white bread, the pheasants, geese, peacocks, hares, etc., served up at his table. The Christian should look forward to Sunday, not simply as a day of rest from labour, but as a day of prayer and Communion. Let him come in early morning to church for the Eucharistic service (the features of it are enumerated: the psalmody, the reading of Prophets, of St. Paul, of the Gospels, the Angelic and Seraphic hymns, the ceaseless Alleluia, the exhortations of bishops and presbyters, the presence of Christ "on the sacred table," the "coming" of the Spirit). "If thy conscience is clear, approach, and receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. If it condemns thee in regard to wicked deeds, decline the Communion until thou hast corrected it by repentance, but stay through the prayers [i.e. the communion service], and do not go out of the church unless thou art dismissed"; or again, "before the dismissal." He severely blames a layman who tastes food before the Liturgy is over, whether he communicates or not; but denounces those who communicate after eating (as many do on Easter Day itself) as if guilty of a heinous sin. (In this case, as in regard to premature departure from church, he does not scruple to refer to Judas.) He blames those who do not communicate when a priest, known to be of bad life, is the celebrant; for "God turneth not away, and the bread becomes the Body." He reproves those who are disorderly at the vigil services of a saint's festival, and at daybreak rise and cause great disturbances. "Inside the church, the priest is presenting the supplication . . . having set forth (προτεθεικώς) the Body and the Blood . . . for the salvation 318of the world: while, outside, amusements go on." He refers to the different functions of priest, deacon, reader, chanter, and subdeacon (ὐπηρέτης). He encourages invocation of saints.

Mai calls him a writer delightful from his "ingenuitas," his "Christian ac pastoralis simplicitas," and his "nativum dicendi genus" (Patrum Nov. Biblioth. ii. 499).

[W.B.]

« Eusebius, bishop of Rome Eusebius of Alexandria, writer of sermons Eusebius of Caesarea »





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