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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian On His Father's Silence, Because of the Plague of Hail (Oration XVI), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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2. I have not yet alluded to the true and first wisdom, for which our wonderful husbandman and shepherd is conspicuous. The first wisdom is a life worthy of praise, and kept pure for God, or being purified for Him Who is all-pure and all-luminous, Who demands of us, us His only sacrifice, purification—that is, a contrite heart and the sacrifice of praise, [3050] and a new creation in Christ, [3051] and the new man, [3052] and the like, as the Scripture loves to call it. The first wisdom is to despise that wisdom which consists of language and figures of speech, and spurious and unnecessary embellishments. Be it mine to speak five words with my understanding in the church, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue, [3053] and with the unmeaning voice of a trumpet, [3054] which does not rouse my soldier to the spiritual combat. This is the wisdom which I praise, which I welcome. By this the ignoble have won renown, and the despised have attained the highest honours. By this a crew of fishermen have taken the whole world in the meshes of the Gospel-net, and overcome by a word finished and cut short [3055] the wisdom that comes to naught. [3056] I count not wise the man who is clever in words, nor him who is of a ready tongue, but unstable and undisciplined in soul, like the tombs which, fair and beautiful as they are outwardly, are fetid with corpses within, [3057] and full of manifold ill-savours; but him who speaks but little of virtue, yet gives many examples of it in his practice, and proves the trustworthiness of his language by his life.

[3050] Ib. l. 23; li. 19.

[3051] 2 Cor. v. 17.

[3052] Eph. iv. 24.

[3053] 1 Cor. xiv. 19.

[3054] Ib. xiv. 8.

[3055] Isai. x. 22, 23 (LXX.); Rom. ix. 28.

[3056] 1 Cor. ii. 6.

[3057] S. Matt. xxiii. 27.

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