Ephraim Syrus: The Pearl. Seven Hymns on the…
1. Would that the memory of the fathers would exhale from the tombs; who were very simple as being wise, and reverend as believing. They without cavilling searched for, and came to the right path.
He gave the law; the mountains melted away; fools broke through it. By unclean ravens He fed Elijah at the desert stream; and moreover gave from the skeleton honey unto Samson. They judged not, nor inquired why it was unclean, why clean.
2. And when He made void the sabbaths, the feeble Gentiles were clothed with health. Samson took the daughter of the aliens, and there was no disputing among the righteous; the prophet also took a harlot, and the just held their peace.
He blamed the righteous,24 Hos. i. 2. and He held up and lifted up [to view] their delinquencies: He pitied sinners,25 Matt. ix. 13. and restored them without cost: and made low the mountains of their sins:26 Luke xviii. 9. He proved that God is not to be arraigned by men, and as Lord of Truth, that His servants were His shadow; and whatsoever way His will looked, they directed also their own wills; and because Light was in Him,27 Cant. ii. 17. their shadows were enlightened.
3. How strangely perplexed are all the heretics by simple things! For when He plainly foreshadowed this New Testament by that of the Prophets, those pitiable men rose, as though from sleep, and shouted out and made a disturbance. And the Way, wherein the righteous held straight on, and by their truths had gone forth therein, that [Way] have these broken28 Or, pierced—perhaps a word of intentionally uncertain meaning, so as to suit with “the way” in either sense of it. up, because they were besotted: this they left and went out of; because they pried, an evil searching, [yea,] an evil babbling led them astray.
They saw the ray: they made it darkness, that they might grope therein: they saw the jewel, even the faith: while they pried into it, it fell and was lost. Of the pearl they made a stone, that they might stumble upon it.
4. O Gift, which fools have made a poison! The People were for separating Thy beauteous root from Thy fountain, though they separated it not: [false] teachings estranged Thy beauty also from the stock thereof.
By Thee did they get themselves estranged, who wished to estrange Thee. By Thee the tribes were cut off and scattered abroad from out of Sion, and also the [false] teachings of the seceders.
Bring Thyself within the compass of our littleness, O Thou Gift of ours. For if love cannot find Thee out on all sides, it cannot be still and at rest. Make Thyself small, Thou Who art too great for all, Who comest unto all!
5. By this would those who wrangle against our Pearl be reproved; because instead of love, strife has come in and dared to essay to unveil thy beauty. It was not graven, since it is a progeny which cannot be interpreted.
Thou didst show thy beauty among the abjects to show whereto thou art like, thou Pearl that art all faces. The beholders were astonied and perplexed at thee. The separatists separated thee in two, and were separated in two by thee, thou that art of one substance throughout.
They saw not thy beauty, because there was not in them the eye of truth. For the veil of prophecy, full as it was of the mysteries; to them was a covering of thy glistering faces: they thought that thou wast other [than thou art], O thou mirror of ours! and therefore these blind schismatics defiled thy fair beauty.
6. Since they have extolled thee too much, or have lowered thee too much, bring them to the even level. Come down, descend a little from that height of infidelity and heathendom; and come up from the depth of Judaism, though thou art in the Heaven.
Let our Lord be set between God and men!29 1 Tim. ii. 5. Let the Prophets be as it were His heralds! Let the Just One, as being His Father, rejoice! that Word it is which conquered both Jews and Heathens!
7. Come, Thou Gift of Holy Church, stay, rest in the midst of Her! The circumcised have troubled Thee, in that they are vain babblers, and so have the [false] doctrines in that they are contentious. Blessed be He that gave Thee a goodly company which bears Thee about!
In the covenant of Moses is Thy brightness shadowed forth: in the new covenant Thou dartest it forth: from those first Thy light shineth even unto those last. Blessed be He that gave us Thy gleam as well as Thy bright rays.