Happy are Ye Whose Bodies have Been Made to Shine! – St.Ephraim the Syrian

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Happy are Ye Whose Bodies have Been Made to Shine!

St.Ephraim the Syrian

1. God in His mercy stooped and came down, — to mingle His compassion with the water, — and to blend the nature of His majesty — with the wretched bodies of men. — He made occasion by the water — to come down and to dwell in us: — like to the occasion of mercy — when He came down and dwelt in the womb: — O the mercies of God — Who seeks for Himself all occasions to dwell in us!

2. To the cave in Horeb He stooped and came down, — and on Moses He caused His majesty to dwell; — He imparted His glorious splendour to mortals. — There was therein a figure of Baptism: — He Who came down and dwelt in it, — tempers within the water — the might of His majesty, — that He may dwell in the feeble. — On Moses dwelt the Breath, — and on you the Perfecting of Christ.

3. That might then none could endure; — not Moses chief of deliverers, — nor Elijah chief of zealots; — and the Seraphin too vail their faces, — for it is the might that subdues all. — His mercy mingled gentleness — in the water and by the oil; — that mankind in its weakness — might be able to stand before Him — when covered by the water and the oil.

4. The captive priests again in the well — hid and concealed the fire of the sanctuary, — a mystery of that glorified fire — which the Highpriest mingles in Baptism. — The priests took up of the mire, — and on the altar they sprinkled it; — for its fire, the fire of that well, — with the mire had been mingled; — a mystery of our bodies which in the water — with the fire of the Holy Spirit have been mingled.

5. The famous Three in Babylon — in the furnace of fire were baptized, and came forth; — they went in and bathed in the flood of flame, they were buffeted by the blazing billows. — There was sprinkled on them there — the dew that fell from heaven; — it loosed from off them there — the bonds of the earthly king. — Lo! the famous Three went in and found a fourth in the furnace.

6. That visible fire that triumphed outwardly, — pointed to the fire of the Holy Ghost, — which is mingled, lo! and hidden in the water. — In the flame Baptism is figured, — in that blaze of the furnace. — Come, enter, be baptized, my brethren, — for lo! it looses the bonds; — for in it there dwells and is hidden — the Daysman of God, — Who in the furnace was the fourth.

7. Two words again our Lord spake — which in one voice agree in unison: — He said, “I am come to send fire,” — and again, “I have a baptism to be baptized with.” — By the fire of Baptism is quenched the fire, — that which the Evil One had kindled: — and the water of Baptism has overcome — those waters of contention — by which he had made trial — of Joseph who conquered and was crowned.

8. Lo! the pure fire of our Redeemer — which he kindled in mankind of His mercy! — Through His fire He quenched that fire — which had been kindled in the defiled and sinful. — This is the fire wherein the thorns — are burnt up and the tares. — But happy are your bodies — that have been baptized in the fire — which has consumed your thickets, — and by it your seeds have sprung up to heaven!

9. Jeremiah in the womb He sanctified and taught. — But if the lowly bosom of wedlock — was sanctified in conceiving and bringing him forth, — how much more shall Baptism sanctify — its conception and its bringing forth — of them that are pure and spiritual! — For there, within the womb — is the conception of all men; — but here, out of the water, — is the birth whereof the spiritual are worthy.

10. For Jeremiah though sanctified in the womb, — they took up nails and cast him into the pit. — Holy was the prophet in his befoulment, — for clean was his heart though he was in the mire. — Be ye afraid, my brethren — for lo! to-day is washed away — your secret befoulment, — and the abomination of your sins. — Turn not again to uncleanness, — for there is but one cleansing of your bodies!

11. The presumptuous who is baptized and again sins, — is as the serpent that casts its slough and again puts it on, that is renewed and made young, and turns again — — putting on anew its skin of old; — for the serpent does not — cast off its nature. — Cast ye off the tempter — the corrupter of souls, — even the old man; — let it not make old — the newness ye have put on!

12. Elisha cast the wood into the water, and made the heavy float and the light sink: — their natures were exchanged in the water. — There a new thing came to pass not according to nature. — How much easier then, O Lord, — is this for Thy grace; that in the water should sink — transgression which is heavy, — but that the soul which is light — should be drawn forth and raised up on high!

13. Joshua, son of Nun, on Jericho — laid a curse on its walls and a doom on its fountains. — They whom Joshua cursed to their destruction, — again in the mystery of Jesus have been blessed. — There was cast into them salt, — and they were healed and sweetened: — a mystery of this salt, — the sweet salt that came from Mary, — that was mingled in the water, — whereby was healed the noisomeness of our plagues.

14. Lo! quiet waters are before you, — holy and tranquil and pleasant; — for they are not the waters of contention — that cast Joseph into the dungeon; — nor yet are they the waters, — those waters of strife, — beside which the people strove, — and gainsaid in the wilderness. — There are waters whereby — there is reconciliation made with Heaven.

15. Hagar saw the spring of water, — and from it she gave drink to her forward son, him who became as a wild ass in the wilderness. — Instead of that fountain of water is Baptism. — In it are baptized the sons of Hagar, — and are become gentle and peaceful. Who has seen rams like these, — that are yoked, lo! and labour — along with tame bullocks, — and the seed of their tillage is reaped an hundredfold!

16. In the beginning the Spirit that brooded — moved on the waters; they conceived and gave birth — to serpents and fishes and birds. — The Holy Spirit has brooded in Baptism, — and in mystery has given birth to eagles, — Virgins and Prelates; — and in mystery has given birth to fishes, — celibates and intercessors; and in mystery of serpents, — lo! the subtle have become simple as doves!

17. Lo! the sword of our Lord in the waters! — that which divides sons and fathers: — for it is the living sword that makes — division, lo! of the living from the dying. — Lo! they are baptized and they become — Virgins and saints, — who have gone down, been baptized, and put on — the One Only begotten. — Lo! many have come boldly to Him!

18. For whoso have been baptized and put on Him — the Only begotten the Lord of the many, — has filled thereby the place of many, — for to him Christ has become a great treasure: — for He became in the wilderness — a table of good meats, — and He became at the marriage feast — a fountain of choice wines. — He has become such to all in all things, — by helps and healings and promises.

19. Elisha was the equal of the Watchers — in his doings, glorious and holy. — The camp of the Watchers was round about him; — thus let Baptism be unto you, — a camp of guardians, — for by means of it there dwells in the heart — the hope of them that are below — and the Lord of them that are above. — Sanctify for Him your bodies, — for where He abides, corruption comes not near.

20. They are no more, the waters of that sea — which by its billows preserved the People, — and by its billows laid low the peoples. — Of contrary effect are the waters in Baptism. — In them, lo! the people have life; — in them, lo! the People perishes: — for all that are not baptized, — in the waters that give life to all, — they are dead invisibly.

21. They are no more, the waters of that sea — which were tempestuous, and boiled against Jonah, — and plunged into the depths the Son of Amittai. — Though he fled he was bound in the prison-house; — God cast him in and bound him — in dungeon within dungeon; — for he bound him in the sea. — and He bound him in the fish. — For him Grace stood surety, — and she opened the prison and brought forth the preacher.

22. The Prophets have called the Most High a fire, — “a devouring fire,” and “who can dwell with it?” — The People were not able to dwell in it; — its might crushed the peoples and they were confounded. — In it, with the unction ye have been anointed; — ye have put Him on in the water; — in the bread ye have eaten Him; — in the wine ye have drunk Him; — in the voice ye have heard Him; — and in the eye of the mind ye have seen Him!

 

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