Those who taste honey…

“For who of those that reduce syllogisms, and clear up ambiguities, and explain etymologies, or of those who teach homonyms and synonyms, and predicaments and axioms, and what is the subject and what the predicate, and who promise their disciples by these and such like instructions to make them happy: who of them have so purged their souls as, instead of hating their enemies, to love them; and, instead of speaking ill of those who have reviled them (to abstain from which is of itself an evidence of no mean forbearance), to bless them; and to pray for those who plot against their lives? On the contrary, they never cease with evil intent to search out skilfully the secrets of their art, and are ever bent on working some ill, making the art of words and not the exhibition of deeds their business and profession. But amongst us you might find simple folk, artisans and old women, who, if they are unable to furnish in words the assistance they derive from our doctrine, yet show in their deeds the advantage to others that accrues from their resolution. They do not rehearse words but show forth good deeds; struck, they do not strike back, plundered, they do not prosecute; to them that ask they give, and they love their neighbors as themselves. Surely then, if we did not think that God was in charge of human affairs, we would not thus cleanse ourselves.

These thoughts are but few out of many and trivial rather than lofty, but we do not wish to trouble you with more. Those who taste honey and whey can tell if the whole be good by tasting even a small portion.

Athenagorus, Embassy for the Christians. Ancient Christian Writers. Joseph Hugh Crehan, trans. New York: Newman Press, 1955.

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