Writings of John Chrysostom. On the Gospel According to John.

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St. Chrysostom:

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,

On the Gospel According to John.

The Oxford Translation, revised with additional notes by
Rev. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.


This volume closes the American edition of the Works of St. Chrysostom, and at the same time the First Series of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Library of the Christian Fathers.

The best works of St. Augustin and St. Chrysostom are thus brought within the reach of the English reader in a more complete form and at a lower price than ever before.

The Epistle to the Hebrews was the last volume of the Oxford "Library of the Fathers," published under the direction and with a Preface of the late Dr. Pusey, the chief originator of that valuable Library. His Preface is dated, Oxford, May, 1877. He died Sept. 16, 1882.

The American editor of the Homilies on the Hebrews has thoroughly revised the Oxford translation and enlarged it with a valuable introduction on the authorship of the Epistle (about which St. Chrysostom was mistaken), and a considerable number of explanatory footnotes. Unfortunately he died shortly before his ms . was sent to the printer, but his son read the proofs.

The Rev. Dr. Frederic Gardiner (born Sept. 11, 1822, died July 17, 1889) was for many years Professor in the Berkeley Episcopal Divinity School at Middletown, Conn., and President of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis. He edited a Greek Harmony of the Four Gospels, and several exegetical works, and was a contributor to Lange's Commentary, Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, and various periodicals. The revision of the Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews was his last work.

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The Homilies on the Fourth Gospel appears in the Oxford "Library of the Fathers," with a few additional notes. The Rev. Charles Marriott (1811-1858) edited them, and wrote the preface to the first volume. For fourteen years, from 1841 to 1855, he was associated with Dr. Pusey as working editor, and superintended the publication of at least twenty-four volumes (twelve of St. Chrysostom, eight of St. Augustin, four of St. Gregory I.), i.e . more than one-half of that Library. It was with both a labor of love and sacrifice, without fee or reward except the approval of the conscience and of good men. To their unselfish labors the American edition owes a great debt of gratitude. Mr. Marriott did most of the literary drudgery, as translator, corrector, and proof-reader, with untiring fidelity and painstaking zeal till he was struck down by paralysis in 1855, "to wait in stillness for his Lord's last call." Dean Burgon states these facts in a interesting account of his intimate friend (in Lives of Twelve Good Men , London and New York, 1888, vol. I. 296-376). He calls Marriott "a character unique, beautiful, and saint-like," and adds that he "lived quite above the world, and, like Enoch, walked habitually with God."

I feel very thankful that this Patristic Library has so far been finished, and I am happy to announce that the "Christian Literature Company" is sufficiently encouraged to publish the second series, which will contain the Greek Fathers from Eusebius to John of Damascus, and the Latin Fathers from Hilary to Gregory the Great. I secured the co-operation of eminent patristic scholars of England and America several years ago for the completion of this enterprise.

Philip Schaff
Union Theological Seminary,

New York, Dec. 24, 1889.

Comparative Table of the Works of St. Chrysostom in the American and in Migne's Editions.

Anglo-american edition of St. Chrysostom. Græco-latin edition. In Migne's Patrologia Græca , Tom. XLVII.-LXIV. Volume IX. Page Opera S. Chrysostomi , reprinted from Montfaucon's Benedictine edition, 1862, Tom. I.-XIII. Prolegomena by the General Editor..................... 3-23 Six Books on the Priesthood.............................. 25-83 De Sacerdotio Libri VI......................... Tom. I. 623-693 Two Letters to Theodore after his Fall........... 85-116 Parænesis ad Theodorum Lapsum Libri II.................. ............................................................... Tom. I. 277-319 Letter to a young Widow............................... 117-128 Ad Viduam juniorem.......................... Tom. I. 599-623 Two Homilies. (1) On St. Ignatius. (2) On St. Babylas.............................................................. 129-143 Hom. in Sanctum Martyrem Ignatium Deiferum,........ ............................................................. Tom. II. 587 sqq. Homily concerning "Lowliness of Mind" (Phil. i. 18)................................................................... ......... 145-155 Hom. in Sanctum Martyrem Babylam,......................... ............................................................. Tom. II. 527 sqq. Hom. in Phil. i. 18.............................. Tom. III. 311-320 Two Instructions to Candidates for Baptism............. ...................................................................... ...... 157-171 Catecheses ad Illuminandos............ Tom. II. 223-243 Three Homilies. (1) That demons do not govern the world. (2 and 3) Concerning the power of the Tempter............................................................. 173-197 (1) Adversus eos, qui dicunt Dæmones gubernare res humanas, etc.............................. Tom. III. 241 sqq. (2 and 3) Ad eos, qui objiciunt, cur e medio sublatus non est Deus, etc............................................................. ...................................................................... ..................... ........................................... Tom. III. 257 sqq.; 263 sqq. Three Homilies. (1) Against the Marcionists and the Manichæans on the passage "Father, if it be possible," etc. (2) On the Paralytic let down through the roof. (3) To those who had not attended the Assembly; on the passage, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him,".......................................................... 199-232 .............................. Tom. III. 31 sqq.; 47 sqq.; 471 sqq. Homily against publishing the errors of the brethren.............................................................. .............. 233-242 ...................................................................... III. 353 sqq. Two Homilies on Eutropius............................ 245-265 ...................................................................... III. 391 sqq. Treatise to prove that no one can harm the man who does not injure himself.................................... 267-284 ...................................................................... III. 263 sqq. Four Letters to Olympias and one to presbyters at Antioch............................................................. 285-304 Epistolæ...................................................... III. 545 sqq. Correspondence of Innocent, bishop of Rome, with St. Chrysostom and the church at Constantinople... ...................................................................... ...... 305-314 Epistolæ...................................................... III. 529 sqq. Twenty-one Homilies on the Statues........... 315-514 Homiliæ XXI de Statues ad Populum Antiochenum habitæ............................................................. II. 15-223 Vol. X. Introductory Essay on St. Chrysostom as an Exegete............................................................... .............. xvii-xxii St. Chrysostom's Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew............................................................... . 1-551 Homiliæ XC in Matthæum............................ Tom. VII. Vol. XI. Homilies on the Acts........................................... 1-328 Homiliæ LV in Acta Apostolorum................ Tom. IX. Homilies on Romans........................................ 335-574 Homiliæ XXXII in Epistolam ad Romanos.................. ...................................................................... ..... Tom. IX. Vol. XII. Prefaces and Contents to 1 and 2 Corinthians........... ...................................................................... .......... iii-xiv Homilies on First Epistle to the Corinthians............... ...................................................................... .......... 1-269 Homiliæ XLIV in Epistolam primam ad Corinthios..... ...................................................................... ...... Tom. X. Homilies on Second Epistle to Corinthians................ ...................................................................... ...... 271-438 Homiliæ XXX in Epistolam secundam ad................... Corinthios.......................................................... Tom. X. Vol. XIII. St. Chrysostom as a Homilist.............................. v-vii Commentarius in Ep. ad Galatas................................... ............................................................ Tom. X., 611-682 Commentary on Galatians, and Homilies on Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Philemon....... ...................................................................... .......... 1-592 Hom. XXIV in Ep. ad Ephesios; X in Ep. ad Philippenses; XII in Ep. ad Colossenses; XVI in Ep. I. et II. ad Thessalonioenses; XXVIII in Ep. I. et II. ad Timotheum; VI in Ep. ad Titum; III in Ep. ad Philemonem...................................................... Tom. XI. Vol. XIV. Homilies on the Gospel of St. John................... 1-334 Homiliæ LXXXVIII in Ioannem................... Tom. VIII. Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews....... 335-522 Homiliæ XXXIV in Epistolam ad Hebræos,................ ............................................................. Tom. XII., 9-237

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,

On the Gospel of St. John

The Oxford Translation Edited, with Additional Notes, by
Rev. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.

Preface to the Homilies on the Gospel of St. John.

The Benedictine editor has already noticed the principal points in which these Homilies differ from others in which St. Chrysostom comments upon Holy Scripture. They are far more controversial than is usual with him, and the part devoted to moral exhortation is shorter. This may be partly owing to the number of passages in St. John which bear on the doctrine of our Lord's Person and His Divine and Human Natures. But it seems further that they were delivered to a select audience at an early hour of the day. For toward the latter part of Hom. XXXI. he contrasts the coolness of the morning, in which they were assembled, with the mid-day heat, in which the woman of Samaria listened to our Lord. And the character of the instruction given almost unquestionably marks the hearers as having been less miscellaneous, and less liable to be supposed wanting in points of common duty, than those whom he generally addressed.

They do not give their own date, but are referred to by the Author, while still at Antioch, as already published, in Hom. VII. on 1 Cor. ii. 8. "However, the manner of this way of knowledge and of that hath already been declared in the Gospel; and, not to be continually handling the same topic, thither do we refer our readers." The place is St. John viii. 19 treated in Hom. XLIX.

And since the three first years after St. Chrysostom was ordained Priest, A.D. 386-8, seem completely filled up, and the Homilies in St. Matthew were probably prior to these, it is most likely that they were not begun before A.D. 390, while those on some of the Epistles of St. Paul seem to have come after them, and still before the year 398, in which he was removed to Constantinople.

In either city there were numerous heretics of the sect against which he is most careful to supply arguments, the Anomoeans, who held that the Son is not even of like [much less of the same ] substance with the Father. And even in his less generally controversial works, we often meet with discussions of their tenets. But in these Homilies he is continually meeting with texts which they perverted to the maintenance of their heresy, and turning them into weapons for its confutation. And this he usually does with great success, since the Catholic doctrine of the true and perfect Godhead, united in One Person with true and perfect Manhood, affords a key that easily opens texts which most stubbornly resist any confused notion of an inferior Divinity, or an unreal Humanity. The texts urged by the heretic, put to this test, are found not really to belong to him. They are not even arguments so far for his view of the case, but perfectly consistent with the truth always held by the Church. There may remain a few cases, after attentive study, in which it is difficult to be sure what is the exact meaning, or even whether a given text speaks of the Godhead or of the Manhood, but as to the general doctrine of the whole Scripture, or the consistency of that doctrine with any and every text therein contained, there is no reasonable doubt. There are those whose faith seems to tremble on the balance when such a passage of Scripture is under discussion, but this must be either from an inveterate habit of doubting, or an imperfect apprehension of the real meaning of the Catholic doctrine. The most skillful commentator may occasionally fall into a critical error, but no one who has ever fully entered into the sense of Holy Scripture will dream of the alternative being between such and such an exposition and the acceptance of heresy. Enough is clear to make us very sure what will be the doctrine of any difficult passage, though we may be in doubt of its interpretation. St. Chrysostom is usually right, and not only so, but most ingenious in detecting the rhetorical connection of sentiments and arguments. If anywhere he fails, it is from some over-refinement in rhetorical analysis, and not from any want of apprehension of the main truths concerned.

In the first volume of the Benedictine edition there is a series of Homilies against the Anomoeans, in the first of which he states that he had been unwilling for some time to enter on the controversy, for fear of driving away hearers who held those opinions, but that he had now taken it up at their earnest request. These Homilies were delivered some time before those on St. John, beginning in the first year after his ordination with those "On the Incomprehensible Nature of God," in opposition to the pretensions of that sect to the perfect knowledge of Divine things. And the Benedictine Editor refers to them as containing a more complete array of the positive evidence of St. John to the Catholic doctrines than even this commentary affords.

The history of the woman taken in adultery is omitted in this commentary, and the Benedictine editor was not able to trace it in any of the works of St. Chrysostom. It is suggested that his copies may have wanted the passage, or that he may have omitted it for fear it should be taken as an encouragement to vice. But he was not the man to shrink from so slight a difficulty, nor would he have failed, in commenting on it, to leave an impression on the hearer by no means calculated to lessen his dread of sin. Such a reason may have prevailed with some copyists to suppress the passage, and it is probable that it was not found in the copy which he used. It is omitted in like manner by St. Cyril of Alexandria. [1]

The text of Savile has been followed, except where the Benedictine edition has supplied improvements. The Benedictine sections are numbered throughout: where the division seemed to be inconvenient, the number is given in the margin. In the earlier Homilies a second series of numbers is employed to mark the sections in the translation; this was discontinued as unnecessary, and the Benedictine only retained. In some of the references to the Psalms, where the Septuagint differs much from the Hebrew, the numbers given are those of the Greek. Care will be taken in the Index of Texts to give always the reference to the Psalm and Verse according to the Hebrew reckoning followed in our own Version.

The editors are indebted for the present translation to the Rev. G. T. Stupart , M.A., late Fellow of Exeter College. It has been kindly carried through the Press by the Rev . J. G. Hickley , B.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. The translation of the remaining Homilies is completed, and will shortly be in the Press. [2]

C. M[arriott].

Oriel College,

Feast of St. Andrew, 1848.


[1] [The pericope John vii. 53-viii. 11 is considered by the best modern critics as an interpolation by a transcriber, but is probably based on a genuine apostolic tradition, perhaps taken from the lost work of Papias of Hierapolis, who collected from primitive disciples various discourses of our Lord, among others "a narrative concerning a woman maliciously accused before the Lord touching many sins." (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl . III. 39.) The section is omitted in the oldest uncial and other Greek mss . ( # , B, etc.); it was unknown to Chrysostom and other Greek and early Latin fathers; it interrupts the context; it departs from the style of John, and presents an unusual number of various readings. We find it first in Latin Gospel mss . of the fourth century, but in different places, sometimes at the end of the Gospel of John as an appendix, sometimes at the end of Luke xxi. It was also in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. The R.V. properly retains it, but in brackets and with a marginal note. The story, though no part of the Gospel of John, is eminently Christlike. For details see Tischendorf (ed. viii.), Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and the critical commentaries.--P.S.]

[2] [The second volume of the Oxford edition, containing Homilies 42-88 (John vi.-xxi.), was published in 1852 without a Preface.--P.S.]

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,

On the Gospel According to St. John.

Homily I.


[1.] They that are spectators of the heathen games, when they have learned that a distinguished athlete and winner of crowns is come from any quarter, run all together to view his wrestling, and all his skill and strength; and you may see the whole theater of many ten thousands, all there straining their eyes both of body and mind, that nothing of what is done may escape them. So again these same persons, if any admirable musician come amongst them, leave all that they had in hand, which often is necessary and pressing business, and mount the steps, and sit listening very attentively to the words and the accompaniments, and criticising the agreement of the two. This is what the many do.

Again; those who are skilled in rhetoric do just the same with respect to the sophists, for they too have their theaters, and their audience, and clappings of hands, and noise, and closest criticism of what is said.

And if in the case of rhetoricians, musicians, and athletes, people sit in the one case to look on, in the other to see at once and to listen with such earnest attention; what zeal, what earnestness ought ye in reason to display, when it is no musician or debater who now comes forward to a trial of skill, but when a man is speaking from heaven, and utters a voice plainer than thunder? for he has pervaded the whole earth with the sound; and occupied and filled it, not by the loudness of the cry, but by moving his tongue with the grace of God.

And what is wonderful, this sound, great as it is, is neither a harsh nor an unpleasant one, but sweeter and more delightful than all harmony of music, and with more skill to soothe; and besides all this, most holy, and most awful, and full of mysteries so great, and bringing with it goods so great, that if men were exactly and with ready mind to receive and keep them, they could no longer be mere men nor remain upon the earth, but would take their stand above all the things of this life, and having adapted themselves to the condition of angels, would dwell on earth just as if it were heaven.

[2.] For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master's bosom with much confidence, [3] this man comes forward to us now; not as an actor of a play, not hiding his head with a mask, (for he hath another sort of words to speak,) nor mounting a platform, [4] nor striking the stage with his foot, nor dressed out with apparel of gold, but he enters wearing a robe of inconceivable beauty. For he will appear before us having "put on Christ" ( Rom. xiii. 14; Gal. iii. 27 ), having his beautiful "feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace" ( Eph. vi. 15 ); wearing a girdle not about his waist, but about his loins, not made of scarlet leather nor daubed outside [5] with gold, but woven and composed of truth itself. Now will he appear before us, not acting a part, (for with him there is nothing counterfeit, nor fiction, nor fable,) but with unmasked head he proclaims to us the truth unmasked; not making the audience believe him other than he is by carriage, by look, by voice, needing for the delivery of his message no instruments of music, as harp, lyre, or any other the like, for he effects all with his tongue, uttering a voice which is sweeter and more profitable than that of any harper or any music. All heaven is his stage; his theater, the habitable world; his audience, all angels; and of men as many as are angels already, or desire to become so, for none but these can hear that harmony aright, and show it forth by their works; all the rest, like little children who hear, but what they hear understand not, from their anxiety about sweetmeats and childish playthings; so they too, being in mirth and luxury, and living only for wealth and power and sensuality, hear sometimes what is said, it is true, but show forth nothing great or noble in their actions through fastening [6] themselves for good to the clay of the brickmaking. By this Apostle stand the powers from above, marveling at the beauty of his soul, and his understanding, and the bloom of that virtue by which he drew unto him Christ Himself, and obtained the grace of the Spirit. For he hath made ready his soul, as some well-fashioned and jeweled lyre with strings of gold, and yielded it for the utterance of something great and sublime to the Spirit.

[3.] Seeing then it is no longer the fisherman the son of Zebedee, but He who knoweth "the deep things of God" ( 1 Cor. ii. 10 ), the Holy Spirit I mean, that striketh this lyre, let us hearken accordingly. For he will say nothing to us as a man, but what he saith, he will say from the depths of the Spirit, from those secret things which before they came to pass the very Angels knew not; since they too have learned by the voice of John with us, and by us, the things which we know. And this hath another Apostle declared, saying, "To the intent that unto the principalities and powers might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." ( Eph. iii. 10 .) If then principalities, and powers, and Cherubim, and Seraphim, learned these things by the Church, it is very clear that they were exceedingly earnest in listening to this teaching; and even in this we have been not a little honored, that the Angels learned things which before they knew not with us; I do not at present speak of their learning by us also. Let us then show much silence and orderly behavior; not to-day only, nor during the day on which we are hearers, but during all our life, since it is at all times good to hear Him. For if we long to know what is going on in the palace, what, for instance, the king has said, what he has done, what counsel he is taking concerning his subjects, though in truth these things are for the most part nothing to us; much more is it desirable to hear what God hath said, especially when all concerns us. And all this will this man tell us exactly, as being a friend of the King Himself, or rather, as having Him speaking within himself, and from Him hearing all things which He heareth from the Father. "I have called you friends," He saith, "for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you." ( John xv. 15 .)

[4.] As then we should all run together if we saw one from above bend down "on a sudden" [7] from the height of heaven, promising to describe exactly all things there, even so let us be disposed now. It is from thence that this Man speaketh to us; He is not of this world, as Christ Himself declareth, "Ye are not of the world" ( John xv. 19 ), and He hath speaking within him the Comforter, the Omnipresent, who knoweth the things of God as exactly as the soul of man knoweth what belongs to herself, the Spirit of holiness, the righteous Spirit, the guiding Spirit, which leads men by the hand to heaven, which gives them other eyes, fitting them to see things to come as though present, and giving them even in the flesh to look into things heavenly. To Him then let us yield ourselves during all our life [8] in much tranquillity. Let none dull, none sleepy, none sordid, enter here and tarry; but let us remove ourselves to heaven, for there He speaketh these things to those who are citizens there. And if we tarry on earth, we shall gain nothing great from thence. For the words of John are nothing to those who do not desire to be freed from this swinish life, just as the things of this world to him are nothing. The thunder amazes our souls, having sound without significance; [9] but this man's voice troubles none of the faithful, yea, rather releases them from trouble and confusion; it amazes the devils only, and those who are their slaves. Therefore that we may know how it amazes them, let us preserve deep silence, both external and mental, but especially the latter; for what advantage is it that the mouth be hushed, if the soul is disturbed and full of tossing? I look for that calm which is of the mind, of the soul, since it is the hearing of the soul which I require. Let then no desire of riches trouble us, no lust of glory, no tyranny of anger, nor the crowd of other passions besides these; for it is not possible for the ear, except it be cleansed, to perceive as it ought the sublimity of the things spoken; nor rightly to understand the awful and unutterable nature of these mysteries, and all other virtue which is in these divine oracles. If a man cannot learn well a melody on pipe or harp, unless he in every way strain his attention; how shall one, who sits as a listener to sounds mystical, be able to hear with a careless soul?

[5.] Wherefore Christ Himself exhorted, saying, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine." ( Matt. vii. 6 .) He called these words "pearls," though in truth they be much more precious than they, because we have no substance more precious than that. For this reason too He is wont often to compare their sweetness to honey, not that so much only is the measure of their sweetness, but because amongst us there is nothing sweeter. Now, to show that they very exceedingly surpass the nature of precious stones, and the sweetness of any honey, hear the prophet speaking concerning them, and declaring this superiority; "More to be desired are they," he saith "than gold and much precious stone; sweeter are they also than honey and the honeycomb." ( Ps. xix. 10 .) But to those (only) who are in health; wherefore he has added, "For thy servant keepeth them." And again in another place calling them sweet he has added, "to my throat." For he saith, "How sweet are thy words unto my throat." ( Ps. cxix. 103 .) And again he insisteth on the superiority, saying, "Above honey and the honeycomb to my mouth." For he was in very sound health. And let not us either come nigh to these while we are sick, but when we have healed our soul, so receive the food that is offered us.

It is for this reason that, after so long a preface, I have not yet attempted to fathom [10] these expressions (of St. John), in order that every one having laid aside all manner of infirmity, as though he were entering into heaven itself, so may enter here pure, and freed from wrath and carefulness and anxiety of this life, of all other passions. For it is not otherwise possible for a man to gain from hence anything great, except he have first so cleansed anew his soul. And let no one say that the time to the coming communion [11] is short, for it is possible, not only in five days, but in one moment, to change the whole course of life. Tell me what is worse than a robber and a murderer, is not this the extremest kind of wickedness? Yet such an one arrived straight at the summit of excellence, and passed into Paradise itself, not needing days, nor half a day, but one little moment. So that a man may change suddenly, and become gold instead of clay. For since what belongs to virtue and to vice is not by nature, the change is easy, as being independent of any necessity. "If ye be willing and obedient," He saith, "ye shall eat the good of the land." ( Isa. i. 19 .) Seest thou that there needs the will only? will--not the common wishing of the multitude--but earnest will. For I know that all are wishing to fly up to heaven even now; but it is necessary to show forth the wish by works. The merchant too wishes to get rich; but he doth not allow his wish to stop with the thought of it; no, he fits out a ship, and gets together sailors, and engages a pilot, and furnishes the vessel with all other stores, and borrows money, and crosses the sea, and goes away into a strange land, and endures many dangers, and all the rest which they know who sail the sea. So too must we show our will; for we also sail a voyage, not from land to land, but from earth to heaven. Let us then so order our reason, that it be serviceable to steer our upward course, and our sailors that they be obedient to it, and let our vessel be stout, that it be not swamped amidst the reverses and despondencies of this life, nor be lifted up by the blasts of vainglory, but be a fast and easy vessel. If so we order our ship, and so our pilot and our crew, we shall sail with a fair wind, and we shall draw down to ourselves the Son of God, the true Pilot, who will not leave our bark to be engulfed, but, though ten thousand winds may blow, will rebuke the winds and the sea, and instead of raging waves, make a great calm.

[6.] Having therefore ordered yourselves, so come to our next assembly, if at least it be at all an object of desire to you to hear somewhat to your advantage, and lay up what is said in your souls. But let not one of you be the "wayside," none the "stony ground," none the "full of thorns." ( Matt. xiii. 4, 5, 7 .) Let us make ourselves fallow lands. For so shall we (the preachers) put in the seed with gladness, when we see the land clean, but if stony or rough, pardon us if we like not to labor in vain. For if we shall leave off sowing and begin to cut up thorns, surely to cast seed into ground unwrought were extreme folly.

It is not meet that he who has the advantage of such hearing be partaker of the table of devils. "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" ( 2 Cor. vi. 14 .) Thou standest listening to John, and learning the things of the Spirit by him; and dost thou after this depart to listen to harlots speaking vile things, and acting viler, and to effeminates cuffing one another? How wilt thou be able to be fairly cleansed, if thou wallowest in such mire? Why need I reckon in detail all the indecency that is there? All there is laughter, all is shame, all disgrace, revilings and mockings, all abandonment, all destruction. See, I forewarn and charge you all. Let none of those who enjoy the blessings of this table destroy his own soul by those pernicious spectacles. All that is said and done there is a pageant of Satan. But ye who have been initiated know what manner of covenants ye made with us, or rather ye made with Christ when He guided you into His mysteries, what ye spoke to Him, what speech ye had with Him concerning Satan's pageant; [12] how with Satan and his angels ye renounced this also, and promised that you would not so much as cast a glance [13] that way. There is then no slight ground for fear, lest, by becoming careless of such promises, one should render himself unworthy of these mysteries.

[7.] Seest thou not how in king's palaces it is not those who have offended, but those who have been honorably distinguished, [14] that are called to share especial favor, [15] and are numbered among the king's friends. A messenger has come to us from heaven, sent by God Himself, to speak with us on certain necessary matters, and you leave hearing His will, and the message He sends to you, and sit listening to stage-players. What thunderings, what bolts from heaven, does not this conduct deserve! For as it is not meet to partake of the table of devils, so neither is it of the listening to devils; nor to be present with filthy raiment at that glorious Table, loaded with so many good things, which God Himself hath provided. Such is its power, that it can raise us at once to heaven, if only we approach it with a sober mind. For it is not possible that he who is continually under the influence of [16] the words of God, can remain in this present low condition, but he needs must presently take wing, and fly away to the land which is above, and light on the infinite treasures of good things; which may it be that we all attain to, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father and the All-holy Spirit, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


[3] parrhesias polles . [4] o kribantos . [5] a nothen eleimmenen . [6] proseloun . [7] a throon , comp. Eus. Hist. Eccl. v. i. 29. [8] pollen parechomen ten hesuchian . [9] a semon . [10] katheka . [11] sunaxeos . [12] pompes . [13] parakupsein . [14] tetimemenoi [15] tes gnomes ekeines . [16] e padomenon .

Homily II.

John i. 1

"In the beginning was the Word."

Were John about to converse with us, and to say to us words of his own, we needs must describe his family, his country, and his education. But since it is not he, but God by him, that speaks to mankind, it seems to me superfluous and distracting to enquire into these matters. And yet even thus it is not superfluous, but even very necessary. For when you have learned who he was, and from whence, who his parents, and what his character, and then hear his voice and all his heavenly wisdom, [17] then you shall know right well that these (doctrines) belong not to him, but to the Divine power stirring his soul.

From what country [18] then was he? From no country; but from a poor village, and from a land little esteemed, and producing no good thing. For the Scribes speak evil of Galilee, saying, "Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." ( John vii. 52 .) And "the Israelite indeed" speaks ill of it, saying, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" And being of this land, he was not even of any remarkable place in it, but of one not even distinguished by name. Of this he was, [19] and his father a poor fisherman, so poor that he took his sons to the same employment. Now you all know that no workman will choose to bring up his son to succeed him in his trade, unless poverty press him very hard, especially where the trade is a mean one. But nothing can be poorer, meaner, no, nor more ignorant, than fishermen. Yet even among them there are some greater, some less; and even there our Apostle occupied the lower rank, for he did not take his prey from the sea, but passed his time on a certain little lake. And as he was engaged by it with his father and his brother James, and they mending their broken nets, a thing which of itself marked extreme poverty, so Christ called him. [20]

As for worldly instruction, we may learn from these facts that he had none at all of it. Besides, Luke testifies this when he writes not only that he was ignorant, [21] but that he was absolutely unlettered. [22] ( Acts iv. 13 .) As was likely. For one who was so poor, never coming into the public assemblies, nor falling in with men of respectability, but as it were nailed to his fishing, or even if he ever did meet any one, conversing with fishmongers and cooks, how, I say, was he likely to be in a state better than that of the irrational animals? how could he help imitating the very dumbness of his fishes?

[2.] This fisherman then, whose business was about lakes, and nets, and fish; this native of Bethsaida of Galilee; this son of a poor fisherman, yes, and poor to the last degree; this man ignorant, and to the last degree of ignorance too, who never learned letters either before or after he accompanied Christ; let us see what he utters, and on what matters he converses with us. Is it of things in the field? Is it of things in rivers? On the trade in fish? For these things, perhaps, one expects to hear from a fisherman. But fear ye not; we shall hear nought of these; but we shall hear of things in heaven, and what no one ever learned before this man. For, as might be expected of one who speaks from the very treasures of the Spirit, he is come bringing to us sublime doctrines, and the best way of life and wisdom, [as though just arrived from the very heavens; yea, rather such as it was not likely that all even there should know, as I said before. [23] ] Do these things belong to a fisherman? Tell me. Do they belong to a rhetorician at all? To a sophist or philosopher? To every one trained in the wisdom of the Gentiles? By no means. The human soul is simply unable thus to philosophize on that pure and blessed nature; on the powers that come next to it; on immortality and endless life; on the nature of mortal bodies which shall hereafter be immortal; on punishment and the judgment to come; on the enquiries that shall be as to deeds and words, as to thoughts and imaginations. It cannot tell what is man, what the world; what is man indeed, and what he who seems to be man, but is not; what is the nature of virtue, what of vice.

[3.] Some of these things indeed the disciples of Plato and Pythagoras enquired into. Of the other philosophers we need make no mention at all; they have all on this point been so excessively ridiculous; and those who have been among them in greater esteem than the rest, and who have been considered the leading men in this science, are so more than the others; and they have composed and written somewhat on the subject of polity and doctrines, and in all have been more shamefully ridiculous than children. For they have spent their whole life in making women common to all, in overthrowing the very order of life, [24] in doing away the honor of marriage, and in making other the like ridiculous laws. As for doctrines on the soul, there is nothing excessively shameful that they have left unsaid; asserting that the souls of men become flies, and gnats, and bushes, [25] and that God Himself is a soul; with some other the like indecencies.

And not this alone in them is worthy of blame, but so is also their ever-shifting current of words; for since they assert everything on uncertain and fallacious arguments, they are like men carried hither and thither in Euripus, and never remain in the same place.

Not so this fisherman; for all he saith is infallible; and standing as it were upon a rock, he never shifts his ground. For since he has been thought worthy to be in the most secret places, and has the Lord of all speaking within him, he is subject to nothing that is human. But they, like persons who are not held worthy even in a dream [26] to set foot in the king's palace, but who pass their time in the forum with other men, guessing from their own imagination at what they cannot see, have erred a great error, and, like blind or drunken men in their wandering, have dashed against each other; and not only against each other, but against themselves, by continually changing their opinion, and that ever on the same matters.

[4.] But this unlettered man, the ignorant, the native of Bethsaida, the son of Zebedee, (though the Greeks mock ten thousand times at the rusticity of the names, I shall not the less speak them with the greater boldness.) For the more barbarous his nation seems to them, and the more he seems removed from Grecian discipline, so much the brighter does what we have with us appear. For when a barbarian and an untaught person utters things which no man on earth ever knew, and does not only utter, (though if this were the only thing it were a great marvel,) but besides this, affords another and a stronger proof that what he says is divinely inspired, namely, the convincing all his hearers through all time; who will not wonder at the power that dwells in him? Since this is, as I said, the strongest proof that he lays down no laws of his own. This barbarian then, with his writing of the Gospel, has occupied all the habitable world. With his body he has taken possession of the center of Asia, where of old philosophized all of the Grecian party, shining forth in the midst of his foes, dispersing [27] their darkness, and breaking down the stronghold of devils: but in soul he has retired to that place which is fit for one who has done such things.

[5.] And as for the writings of the Greeks, they are all put out and vanished, but this man's shine brighter day by day. For from the time that he (was) and the other fishermen, since then the (doctrines) of Pythagoras and of Plato, which seemed before to prevail, have ceased to be spoken of, and most men do not know them even by name. Yet Plato was, they say, the invited companion of kings, had many friends, and sailed to Sicily. And Pythagoras occupied Magna Græcia, [28] and practiced there ten thousand kinds of sorcery. For to converse with oxen, (which they say he did,) was nothing else but a piece of sorcery. As is most clear from this. He that so conversed with brutes did not in anything benefit the race of men, but even did them the greatest wrong. Yet surely, the nature of men was better adapted for the reasoning of philosophy; still he did, as they say, converse with eagles and oxen, using sorceries. For he did not make their irrational nature rational, (this was impossible to man,) but by his magic tricks he deceived the foolish. And neglecting to teach men anything useful, he taught that they might as well eat the heads of those who begot them, as beans. And he persuaded those who associated with him, that the soul of their teacher had actually been at one time a bush, at another a girl, at another a fish.

Are not these things with good cause extinct, and vanished utterly? With good cause, and reasonably. But not so the words of him who was ignorant and unlettered; for Syrians, and Egyptians, and Indians, and Persians, and Ethiopians, and ten thousand other nations, translating into their own tongues the doctrines introduced by him, barbarians though they be, have learned to philosophize. I did not therefore idly say that all the world has become his theater. For he did not leave those of his own kind, and waste his labor on the irrational creatures, (an act of excessive vainglory and extreme folly,) but being clear of this as well as of other passions, he was earnest on one point only, that all the world might learn somewhat of the things which might profit it, and be able to translate it from earth to heaven.

For this reason too, he did not hide his teaching in mist and darkness, as they did who threw obscurity of speech, like a kind of veil, around the mischiefs laid up within. But this man's doctrines are clearer than the sunbeams, wherefore they have been unfolded [29] to all men throughout the world. For he did not teach as Pythagoras did, commanding those who came to him to be silent for five years, or to sit like senseless stones; neither did he invent fables defining the universe to consist of numbers; but casting away all this devilish trash and mischief, he diffused such simplicity through his words, that all he said was plain, not only to wise men, but also to women and youths. For he was persuaded that the words were true and profitable to all that should hearken to them. And all time after him is his witness; since he has drawn to him all the world, and has freed our life when we have listened to these words from all monstrous display of wisdom; wherefore we who hear them would prefer rather to give up our lives, than the doctrines by him delivered to us.

[6.] From this then, and from every other circumstance, it is plain, that nothing of this man's is human, but divine and heavenly are the lessons which come to us by this divine soul. For we shall observe not sounding sentences, nor magnificent diction, nor excessive and useless order and arrangement of words and sentences, (these things are far from all true wisdom,) but strength invincible and divine, and irresistible force of right doctrines, and a rich supply of unnumbered good things. For their over-care about expression was so excessive, so worthy of mere sophists, or rather not even of sophists, but of silly striplings, that even their own chief philosopher introduces his own master as greatly ashamed of this art, and as saying to the judges, that what they hear from him shall be spoken plainly and without premeditation, not tricked out rhetorically nor ornamented with (fine) sentences and words; since, says he, it cannot surely be becoming, O men, that one at my age should come before you like a lad inventing speeches. [30] And observe the extreme absurdity of the thing; what he has described his master avoiding as disgraceful, unworthy of philosophy and work for lads, this above all he himself has cultivated. So entirely were they given up to mere love of distinction.

And as, if you uncover those sepulchers which are whitened without you will find them full of corruption, and stench, and rotten bones; so too the doctrines of the philosopher, if you strip them of their flowery diction, you will see to be full of much abomination, especially when he philosophizes on the soul, which he both honors and speaks ill of without measure. And this is the snare of the devil, never to keep due proportion, but by excess on either hand to lead aside those who are entangled by it into evil speaking. At one time he says, that the soul is of the substance of God; at another, after having exalted it thus immoderately and impiously, he exceeds again in a different way, and treats it with insult, making it pass into swine and asses, and other animals of yet less esteem than these.

But enough of this; or rather even this is out of measure. For if it were possible to learn anything profitable from these things, we must have been longer occupied with them; but if it be only to observe their indecency and absurdity, more than requisite has been said by us already. We will therefore leave their fables, and attach ourselves to our own doctrines, which have been brought to us from above by the tongue of this fisherman, and which have nothing human in them.

[7.] Let us then bring forward the words, having reminded you now, as I exhorted you at the first, earnestly to attend to what is said. What then does this Evangelist say immediately on his outset?

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." ( Ver. 1 .) Seest thou the great boldness and power of the words, how he speaks nothing doubting nor conjecturing, but declaring all things plainly? For this is the teacher's part, not to waver in anything he says, since if he who is to be a guide to the rest require another person who shall be able to establish him with certainty, he would be rightly ranked not among teachers, but among disciples.

But if any one say, "What can be the reason that he has neglected the first cause, and spoken to us at once concerning the second?" we shall decline to speak of "first" and "second," for the Divinity is above number, and the succession of times. Wherefore we decline these expressions; but we confess that the Father is from none, and that the Son is begotten of the Father. Yes, it may be said, but why then does he leave the Father, and speak concerning the Son? Why? because the former was manifest to all, if not as Father, at least as God; but the Only-Begotten was not known; and therefore with reason did he immediately from the very beginning hasten to implant the knowledge of Him in those who knew Him not.

Besides, he has not been silent as to the Father in his writings on these points. And observe, I beg of you, his spiritual wisdom. He knows that men most honor the eldest of beings which was before all, and account this to be God. Wherefore from this point first he makes his beginning, and as he advances, declares that God is, and does not like Plato assert, sometimes that He is intellect, sometimes that He is soul; for these things are far removed from that divine and unmixed Nature which has nothing common with us, but is separated from any fellowship with created things, I mean as to substance, though not as to relation.

And for this reason he calls Him "The Word." For since he is about to teach that this "Word" is the only-begotten Son of God, in order that no one may imagine that His generation is passible, by giving Him the appellation of "The Word," he anticipates and removes beforehand the evil suspicion, showing that the Son is from the Father, and that without His suffering (change).

[8.] Seest thou then that as I said, he has not been silent as to the Father in his words concerning the Son? And if these instances are not sufficient fully to explain the whole matter, marvel not, for our argument is God, whom it is impossible to describe, or to imagine worthily; hence this man nowhere assigns the name of His essence, (for it is not possible to say what God is, as to essence,) but everywhere he declares Him to us by His workings. For this "Word" one may see shortly after called "Light," and the "Light" in turn named "Life."

Although not for this reason only did he so name Him; this was the first reason, and the second was because He was about to declare to us the things of the Father. For "all things," He saith, "that I have heard from my Father, I have made known unto you." ( John xv. 15 .) He calls Him both "Light" and "Life," for He hath freely given to us the light which proceeds from knowledge, and the life which follows it. In short, one name is not sufficient, nor two, nor three, nor more, to teach us what belongs to God. But we must be content to be able even by means of many to apprehend, though but obscurely, His attributes.

And he has not called Him simply "Word," but with the addition of the article, distinguishing Him from the rest in this way also. Seest thou then that I said not without cause that this Evangelist speaks to us from heaven? Only see from the very beginning whither he has drawn up the soul, having given it wings, and has carried up with him the mind of his hearers. For having set it higher than all the things of sense, than earth, than sea, than heaven, he leads it by the hand above the very angels, above cherubim and seraphim, above thrones and principalities and powers; in a word, persuades it to journey beyond all created things.

[9.] What then? when he has brought us to such a height as this, is he in sooth able to stop us there? By no means; but just as one by transporting into the midst of the sea a person who was standing on the beach, and looking on cities, and beaches, and havens, removes him indeed from the former objects, yet does not stay his sight anywhere, but brings him to a view without bound; so this Evangelist, having brought us above all creation, and escorted us towards the eternal periods which lie beyond it, leaves the sight suspended, [31] not allowing it to arrive at any limit upwards, as indeed there is none.

For the intellect, having ascended to "the beginning," enquires what "beginning"; and then finding the "was" always outstripping its imagination, has no point at which to stay its thought; but looking intently onwards, and being unable to cease at any point, it becomes wearied out, and turns back to things below. For this "was in the beginning," is nothing else than expressive of ever being and being infinitely.

Seest thou true philosophy and divine doctrines? Not like those of the Greeks, who assign times, and say that some indeed of the gods are younger, some elder. There is nothing of this with us. For if God Is, as certainly He Is, then nothing was before Him. If He is Creator of all things, He must be first; if Master and Lord of all, then all, both creatures and ages, are after Him.

[10.] I had desired to enter the lists yet on other difficulties, but perhaps our minds are wearied out; when therefore I have advised you on those points which are useful [32] to us for the hearing, both of what has been said, and of what is yet to be said, I again will hold my peace. What then are these points? I know that many have become confused [33] by reason of the length of what has been spoken. Now this takes place when the soul is heavy laden with many burdens of this life. For as the eye when it is clear and transparent is keen-sighted also, and will not easily be tired in making out even the minutest bodies; but when from some bad humor from the head having poured into it, or some smoke-like fumes having ascended to it from beneath, a kind of thick cloud is formed before the ball, this does not allow it clearly to perceive even any larger object; so is naturally the case with the soul. For when it is purified, and has no passion to disturb it, it looks steadfastly to the fit objects of its regard; but when, darkened by many passions, it loses its proper excellence, then it is not easily able to be sufficient for any high thing, but soon is wearied, and falls back; and turning aside to sleep and sloth, lets pass things that concern it with a view to excellence and the life thence arising, instead of receiving them with much readiness.

And that you may not suffer this, (I shall not cease continually thus to warn you,) strengthen your minds, that ye may not hear what the faithful among the Hebrews heard from Paul. For to them he said that he had "many things to say, and hard to be uttered" ( Heb. v. 11 ); not as though they were by nature such, but because, says he, "ye are dull of hearing." For it is the nature of the weak and infirm man to be confused even by few words as by many, and what is clear and easy he thinks hard to be comprehended. Let not any here be such an one, but having chased from him all worldly care, so let him hear these doctrines.

For when the desire of money possesses the hearer, the desire of hearing cannot possess him as well; since the soul, being one, cannot suffice for many desires; but one of the two is injured by the other, and, from division, becomes weaker as its rival prevails, and expends all upon itself.

And this is wont to happen in the case of children. When a man has only one, he loves that one exceedingly. But when he has become father of many, then also his dispositions of affection being divided become weaker.

If this happens where there is the absolute rule and power of nature, and the objects beloved are akin one with another, what can we say as to that desire and disposition which is according to deliberate choice; especially where these desires lie directly opposed to each other; for the love of wealth is a thing opposed to the love of this kind of hearing. We enter heaven when we enter here; not in place, I mean, but in disposition; for it is possible for one who is on earth to stand in heaven, and to have vision of the things that are there, and to hear the words from thence.

[11.] Let none then introduce the things of earth into heaven; let no one standing here be careful about what is at his house. For he ought to bear with him, and to preserve both at home and in his business, what he gains from this place, not to allow it to be loaded with the burdens of house and market. Our reason for entering in to the chair of instruction is, that thence we may cleanse ourselves from [34] the filth of the outer world; but if we are likely even in this little space to be injured by things said or done without, it is better for us not to enter at all. Let no one then in the assembly be thinking about domestic matters, but let him at home be stirring with what he heard in the assembly. Let these things be more precious to us than any. These concern the soul, but those the body; or rather what is said here concerns both body and soul. Wherefore let these things be our leading business, and all others but occasional employments; for these belong both to the future and the present life, but the rest neither to the one nor the other, unless they be managed according to the law laid down for these. Since from these it is impossible to learn not only what we shall hereafter be, and how we shall then live, but how we shall rightly direct this present life also.

For this house is [35] a spiritual surgery, that whatever wounds we may have received without, here [36] we may heal, not that we may gather fresh ones to take with us hence. Yet if we do not give heed to the Spirit speaking to us, we shall not only fail to clear ourselves of our former hurts, but shall get others in addition.

Let us then with much earnestness attend to the book as it is being unfolded to us; since if we learn exactly its first principles and fundamental doctrines, [37] we shall not afterwards require much close study, but after laboring a little at the beginning, shall be able, as Paul says, to instruct others also. ( Rom. xv. 14 .) For this Apostle is very sublime, abounding in many doctrines, and on these he dwells more than on other matters.

Let us not then be careless hearers. And this is the reason why we set them forth to you by little and little, so that all may be easily intelligible to you, and may not escape your memory. Let us fear then lest we come under the condemnation of that word which says, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin." ( John xv. 22 .) For what shall we be profited more than those who have not heard, if even after hearing we go our way home bearing nothing with us, but only wondering at what has been said.

Allow us then to sow in good ground; allow us, that you may draw us the more to you. If any man hath thorns, let him cast the fire of the Spirit amongst them. If any hath a hard and stubborn heart, let him by employing the same fire make it soft and yielding. If any by the wayside is trodden down by all kind of thoughts, let him enter into more sheltered places, and not lie exposed for those that will to invade for plunder: that so we may see your cornfields waving with corn. Besides, if we exercise such care as this over ourselves, and apply ourselves industriously to this spiritual hearing, if not at once yet by degrees, we shall surely be freed from all the cares of life.

Let us therefore take heed that it be not said of us, that our [38] ears are those of a deaf adder. ( Ps. lviii. 4 .) For tell me, in what does a hearer of this kind differ from a beast? and how could he be otherwise than more irrational than any irrational animal, who does not attend when God is speaking? And if to be well-pleasing [39] to God is really to be a man, what else but a beast can he be who will not even hear how he may succeed in this? Consider then what a misfortune it would be for us to fall down [40] of our own accord from (the nature of) men to (that of) beasts, when Christ is willing of men to make us equal to angels. For to serve the belly, to be possessed by the desire of riches, to be given to anger, to bite, to kick, become not men, but beasts. Nay, even the beasts have each, as one may say, one single passion, and that by nature. But man, when he has cast away the dominion of reason, and torn himself from the commonwealth of God's devising, gives himself up to all the passions, is no longer merely a beast, but a kind of many-formed motley monster; nor has he even the excuse from nature, for all his wickedness proceeds from deliberate choice and determination.

May we never have cause to suspect this of the Church of Christ. Indeed, we are concerning you persuaded of better things, and such as belong to salvation; but the more we are so persuaded, the more careful we will be not to desist from words of caution. In order that having mounted to the summit of excellencies, we may obtain the promised goods. Which may it come to pass that we all attain to, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory world without end. Amen.


[17] philosophias . [18] patridos . [19] One ms. "not even distinguished by name had he not been of it. His," &c. [20] [On the other hand, the facts that John's father Zebedee had hired servants, that his mother Salome aided in the support of Jesus, that John was acquainted with the high-priest, and seems to have possessed a home in Jerusalem into which he took the mother of our Saviour after the crucifixion, prove that he was not the poorest among the fishermen, but in tolerably good circumstances. Comp. Mark ii. 20; Luke v. 10; viii. 3; Mark xvi. 1; John xviii. 15; xix. 27 .--P.S.] [21] i diotes . [22] a grammatos . [23] See above, p. 2 [4]. [From one ms. in the Bened. ed.--P.S.] [24] bion . [25] Empedocles said this. Vid. Diog. Laert. viii. 2. ,' Ede gar pot ego genomen kouros te kore te Thamnos t hoionos te kai ex halos empuros ichthus . [26] oude onar . [27] Lit. "quenching." [28] ten megisten ;'Ellada . [29] a neplotai . [30] Plat. Apol. Socr. 1, in init. [31] meteoron . [32] al. "to you." [33] i lingiasantas . [34] al. "rub off." [35] al. "is set." [36] al. "hence." [37] hu potheseis . [38] al. "their." [39] al. "to be thankful." [40] al. "to change."

Homily III.

John i. 1

"In the beginning was the Word."

[1.] On the subject of attention in hearkening it is superfluous to exhort you any more, so quickly have you shown by your actions the effects of my advice. For your manner of running together, your attentive postures, the thrusting one another in your eagerness to get the inner places, where my voice may more clearly be heard by you, your unwillingness to retire from the press until this spiritual assembly be dissolved, the clapping of hands, the murmurs of applause; in a word, all things of this kind may be considered proofs of the fervor of your souls, and of your desire to hear. So that on this point it is superfluous to exhort you. One thing, however, it is necessary for us to bid and entreat, that you continue to have the same zeal, and manifest it not here only, but that also when you are at home, you converse man with wife, and father with son, concerning these matters. And say somewhat of yourselves, and require somewhat in return from them; and so all contribute to this excellent banquet. [41]

For let no one tell me that our children ought not to be occupied with these things; they ought not only to be occupied with them, but to be zealous about them only. And although on account of your infirmity I do not assert this, nor take them away from their worldly learning, [42] just as I do not draw you either from your civil business; yet of these seven days I claim that you dedicate one to the common Lord of us all. For is it not a strange thing that we should bid our domestics slave for us all their time, and ourselves apportion not even a little of our leisure to God; and this too when all our service adds nothing to Him, (for the Godhead is incapable of want,) but turns out to our own advantage? And yet when you take your children into the theaters, you allege neither their mathematical lessons, nor anything of the kind; but if it be required to gain or collect anything spiritual, you call the matter a waste of time. And how shall you not anger God, if you find leisure and assign a season for everything else, and yet think it a troublesome and unseasonable thing for your children to take in hand what relates to Him?

Do not so, brethren, do not so. It is this very age that most of all needs the hearing these things; for from its tenderness it readily stores up what is said; and what children hear is impressed as a seal on the wax of their minds. Besides, it is then that their life begins to incline to vice or virtue; and if from the very gates [43] and portals one lead them away from iniquity, and guide them by the hand to the best road, he will fix them for the time to come in a sort of habit and nature, and they will not, even if they be willing, easily change for the worse, since this force of custom draws them to the performance of good actions. So that we shall see them become more worthy of respect than those who have grown old, and they will be more useful in civil matters, displaying in youth the qualities of the aged.

For, as I before said, it cannot be that they who enjoy the hearing of such things as these, and who are in the company of such an Apostle, should depart without receiving some great and remarkable advantage, be it man, woman, or youth, that partakes of this table. If we train by words the animals which we have, and so tame them, how much more shall we effect this with men by this spiritual teaching, when there is a wide difference between the remedy in each case, and the subject healed as well. For neither is there so much fierceness in us as in the brutes, since theirs is from nature, ours from choice; nor is the power of the words the same, for the power of the first is that of the human intellect, the power of the second is that of the might and grace of the Spirit. [44] Let then the man who despairs of himself consider the tame animals, and he shall no longer be thus affected; let him come continually to this house of healing, let him hear at all times the laws of the Spirit, and on retiring home let him write down in his mind the things which he has heard; so shall his hopes be good and his confidence great, as he feels his progress by experience. For when the devil sees the law of God written in the soul, and the heart become tablets to write it on, he will not approach any more. Since wherever the king's writing is, not engraved on a pillar of brass, but stamped by the Holy Ghost on a mind loving God, and bright with abundant grace, that (evil one) will not be able even to look at it, but from afar will turn his back upon us. For nothing is so terrible to him and to the thoughts which are suggested by him as a mind careful about Divine matters, and a soul which ever hangs over this fountain. Such an one can nothing present annoy, even though it be displeasing; nothing puff up or make proud, even though it be favorable; but amidst all this storm and surge it will even enjoy a great calm.

[2.] For confusion arises within us, not from the nature of circumstances, but from the infirmity of our minds; for if we were thus affected by reason of what befalls us, then, (as we all sail the same sea, and it is impossible to escape waves and spray,) all men must needs be troubled; but if there are some who stand beyond the influence of the storm and the raging sea, then it is clear that it is not circumstances which make the storm, but the condition of our own mind. If therefore we so order the mind that it may bear all things contentedly, we shall have no storm nor even a ripple, but always a clear calm.

After professing that I should say nothing on these points, I know not how I have been carried away into such a length of exhortation. Pardon my prolixity; for I fear, yes, I greatly fear lest this zeal of ours should ever become weaker. Did I feel confident respecting it, I would not now have said to you anything on these matters, since it is sufficient to make all things easy to you. But it is time in what follows to proceed to the matters proposed for consideration to-day; that you may not come weary to the contest. For we have contests against the enemies of the truth, against those who use every artifice to destroy the honor of the Son of God, or rather their own. This remains for ever as it now is, nothing lessened by the blaspheming tongue, but they, by seeking eagerly to pull down Him whom they say they worship, fill their faces with shame and their souls with punishment.

What then do they say when we assert what we have asserted? "That the words, `in the beginning was the Word,' do not denote eternity absolutely, for that this same expression was used also concerning heaven and earth." What enormous shamelessness and irreverence! I speak to thee concerning God, and dost thou bring the earth into the argument, and men who are of the earth? At this rate, since Christ is called Son of God, and God, Man who is called Son of God must be God also. For, "I have said, Ye are Gods, and all of you are children of the Most High." ( Ps. lxxxii. 6 .) Wilt thou contend with the Only-Begotten concerning Sonship, and assert that in that respect He enjoys nothing more than thou? "By no means," is the reply. And yet thou doest this even though thou say not so in words. "How?" Because thou sayest that thou by grace art partaker of the adoption, and He in like manner. For by saying that He is not Son by nature, thou only makest him to be so by grace.

However, let us see the proofs which they produce to us. "In the beginning," it is said, "God made the Heaven and the earth, and the earth was invisible and unformed." ( Gen. i. 2 .) And, "There `was' a man of Ramathaim Zophim." ( 1 Sam. i. 1 .) These are what they think strong arguments, and they are strong; but it is to prove the correctness of the doctrines asserted by us, while they are utterly powerless to establish their blasphemy. For tell me, what has the word "was" in common with the word "made"? What hath God in common with man? Why dost thou mix what may not be mixed? Why confound things which are distinct, why bring low what is above? In that place it is not the expression "was" only which denotes eternity, but that One "was in the beginning." And that other, "The Word was"; for as the word "being," when used concerning man, only distinguishes present time, but when concerning God, denotes eternity, [45] so "was," when used respecting our nature, signifies to us past time, and that too limited, but when respecting God it declares eternity. It would have been enough then when one had heard the words "earth" and "man," to imagine nothing more concerning them than what one may fitly think of a nature that came into being, [46] for that which came to be, be it what it may, hath come to be either in time, or the age before time was, but the Son of God is above not only times, but all ages which were before, for He is the Creator and Maker of them, as the Apostle says, "by whom also He made the ages." Now the Maker necessarily is, before the thing made. Yet since some are so senseless, as even after this to have higher notions concerning creatures than is their due, by the expression "He made," and by that other, "there was a man," he lays hold beforehand of the mind of his hearer, and cuts up all shamelessness by the roots. For all that has been made, both heaven and earth, has been made in time, and has its beginning in time, and none of them is without beginning, as having been made: so that when you hear that "he made the earth," and that "there was a man," you are trifling [47] to no purpose, and weaving a tissue of useless folly.

For I can mention even another thing by way of going further. What is it? It is, that if it had been said of the earth, "In the beginning was the earth," and of man, "In the beginning was the man," we must not even then have imagined any greater things concerning them than what we have now determined. [48] For the terms "earth" and "man" as they are presupposed, whatever may be said concerning them, do not allow the mind to imagine to itself anything greater concerning them than what we know at present. Just as "the Word," although but little be said of It, does not allow us to think (respecting It) anything low or poor. Since in proceeding he says of the earth, "The earth was invisible and unformed." For having said that "He made" it, and having settled its proper limit, he afterwards declares fearlessly what follows, as knowing that there is no one so silly as to suppose that it is without beginning and uncreated, since the word "earth," and that other "made," are enough to convince even a very simple person that it is not eternal nor increate, but one of those things created in time.

[3.] Besides, the expression "was," applied to the earth and to man, is not indicative of absolute existence. But in the case of a man (it denotes) his being of a certain place, in that of the earth its being in a certain way. For he has not said absolutely "the earth was," and then held his peace, but has taught how it was even after its creation, as that it was "invisible and unformed," as yet covered by the waters and in confusion. So in the case of Elkanah he does not merely say that "there was a man," but adds also whence he was, "of Armathaim Zophim." But in the case of "the Word," it is not so. I am ashamed to try these cases, one against the other, for if we find fault with those who do so in the case of men, when there is a great difference in the virtue of those who are so tried, though in truth their substance be one; where the difference both of nature and of everything else is so infinite, is it not the extremest madness to raise such questions? But may He who is blasphemed by them be merciful to us. For it was not we who invented the necessity of such discussions, but they who war against their own salvation laid it on us.

What then do I say? That this first "was," applied to "the Word," is only indicative of His eternal Being, (for "In the beginning," he saith, "was the Word,") and that the second "was," ("and the Word was with God,") denotes His relative Being. For since to be eternal and without beginning is most peculiar to God, this he puts first; and then, lest any one hearing that He was "in the beginning," should assert, that He was "unbegotten" also, he immediately remedies this by saying, before he declares what He was, that He was "with God." And he has prevented any one from supposing, that this "Word" is simply such a one as is either uttered [49] or conceived, [50] by the addition, as I beforesaid, of the article, as well as by this second expression. For he does not say, was "in God," but was "with God": declaring to us His eternity as to person. [51] Then, as he advances, he has more clearly revealed it, by adding, that this "Word" also "was God."

"But yet created," it may be said. What then hindered him from saying, that "In the beginning God made the Word"? at least Moses speaking of the earth says, not that "in the beginning was the earth," but that "He made it," and then it was. What now hindered John from saying in like manner, that "In the beginning God made the Word"? For if Moses feared lest any one should assert that the earth was uncreated, [52] much more ought John to have feared this respecting the Son, if He was indeed created. The world being visible, by this very circumstance proclaims its Maker, ("the heavens," says the Psalmist, "declare the glory of God"-- Ps. xix. 1 ), but the Son is invisible, and is greatly, infinitely, higher than all creation. If now, in the one instance, where we needed neither argument nor teaching to know that the world is created, [53] yet the prophet sets down this fact clearly and before all others; much more should John have declared the same concerning the Son, if He had really been created. [54]

"Yes," it may be said, "but Peter has asserted this clearly and openly." Where and when? "When speaking to the Jews he said, that `God hath made Him both Lord and Christ.'" ( Acts ii. 36 .) Why dost thou not add what follows, "That same Jesus whom ye have crucified"? or dost thou not know that of the words, part relate to His unmixed Nature, part to His Incarnation? [55] But if this be not the case, and thou wilt absolutely understand all as referring to the Godhead, then thou wilt make the Godhead capable of suffering; but if not capable of suffering, then not created. For if blood had flowed from that divine and ineffable Nature, and if that Nature, and not the flesh, had been torn and cut by the nails upon the cross, on this supposition your quibbling would have had reason; but if not even the devil himself could utter such a blasphemy, why dost thou feign to be ignorant with ignorance so unpardonable, and such as not the evil spirits themselves could pretend? Besides the expressions "Lord" and "Christ" belong not to His Essence, but to His dignity; for the one refers to His Power, [56] the other to his having been anointed. What then wouldest thou say con cerning the Son of God? for if he were even, as you assert, created, this argument could not have place. For He was not first created and afterwards God chose Him, nor does He hold a kingdom which could be thrown aside, but one which belongs by nature to His Essence; since, when asked if He were a King, He answers, "To this end was I born." ( c. xviii. 37 .) But Peter speaks as concerning one chosen, because his argument wholly refers to the Dispensation.

[4.] And why dost thou wonder if Peter says this? for Paul, reasoning with the Athenians, calls Him "Man" only, saying, "By that Man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance to all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead." ( Acts xvii. 31 .) He speaks nothing concerning "the form of God" ( Philip. ii. 6 ), nor that He was "equal to Him," nor that He was the "brightness of His glory." ( Heb. i. 3 .) And with reason. The time for words like these was not yet come; but it would have contented him that they should in the meanwhile admit that He was Man, and that He rose again from the dead. Christ Himself acted in the same manner, from whom Paul having learned, used this reserve. [57] For He did not at once reveal to us His Divinity, but was at first held to be a Prophet and a good man; [58] but afterwards His real nature was shown by His works and words. On this account Peter too at first used this method, (for this was the first sermon that he made to the Jews;) and because they were not yet able clearly to understand anything respecting His Godhead, he dwelt on the arguments relating to His Incarnation; that their ears being exercised in these, might open a way to the rest of his teaching. And if any one will go through all the sermon from the beginning, he will find what I say very observable, for he (Peter) calls Him "Man," and dwells on the accounts of His Passion, His Resurrection, and His generation according to the flesh. Paul too when he says, "Who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh" ( Rom. i. 3 ), only teaches us that the word "made" [59] is taken with a view [60] to His Incarnation, as we allow. But the son of thunder is now speaking to us concerning His Ineffable and Eternal [61] Existence, and therefore he leaves the word "made" and puts "was"; yet if He were created, this point he needs must most especially have determined. For if Paul feared that some foolish persons might suppose that He shall be greater than the Father, and have Him who begat Him made subject to Him, (for this is the reason why the Apostle in sending to the Corinthians writes, "But when He saith, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him," yet who could possibly imagine that the Father, even in common with all things, will be subject to the Son?) if, I say, he nevertheless feared these foolish imaginations, and says, "He is excepted that did put all things under Him;" much more if the Son of God were indeed created, ought John to have feared lest any one should suppose Him uncreated, and to have taught on this point before any other.

But now, since He was Begotten, with good reason neither John nor any other, whether apostle or prophet, hath asserted that He was created. Neither had it been so would the Only-Begotten Himself have let it pass unmentioned. For He who spoke of Himself so humbly from condescension [62] would certainly not have been silent on this matter. And I think it not unreasonable to suppose, that He would be more likely to have the higher Nature, and say nothing of it, than not having it to pass by this omission, and fail to make known that He had it not. For in the first case there was a good excuse for silence, namely, His desire to teach mankind humility by being silent as to the greatness of His attributes; but in the second case you can find no just excuse for silence. For why should He who declined many of His real attributes have been, if He were created, silent as to His having been made? He who, in order to teach humility, often uttered expressions of lowliness, such as did not properly belong to Him, much more if He had been indeed created, would not have failed to speak of this. Do you not see Him, in order that none may imagine Him not to have been begotten, [63] doing and saying everything to show that He was so, uttering words unworthy both of His dignity and His essence, and descending to the humble character of a Prophet? For the expression, "As I hear, I judge" ( v. 30 ); and that other, "He hath told Me what I should say, and what I should speak" ( xii. 49 ), and the like, belong merely to a prophet. If now, from His desire to remove this suspicion, He did not disdain to utter words thus lowly, much more if He were created would He have said many like words, that none might suppose Him to be uncreated; as, "Think not that I am begotten of the Father; I am created, not begotten, nor do I share His essence." But as it is, He does the very contrary, and utters words which compel men, even against their will and desire, to admit the opposite opinion. As, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me" ( xiv. 11 ); and, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father." ( xiv. 9 .) And, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." ( v. 23 .) "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." ( v. 21 .) "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." ( v. 17 .) "As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father." ( x. 15 .) "I and My Father are One." ( x. 30 .) And everywhere by putting the "as," and the "so," and the "being with the Father," He declares His undeviating likeness to Him. [64] His power in Himself He manifests by these, as well as by many other words; as when He says, "Peace, be still." ( Mark iv. 39 .) "I will, be thou clean." ( Matt. viii. 3 .) "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him." ( Mark ix. 25 .) And again, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger." ( Matt. v. 21, 22 .) And all the other laws which He gave, and wonders which He worked, are sufficient to show His power, or rather, I should say, a very small part of them is enough to bring over and convince any, except the utterly insensate.

[5.] But vainglory [65] is a thing powerful to blind even to very evident truths the minds of those ensnared by it, and to persuade them to dispute against what is allowed by others; nay, it instigates [66] some who know and are persuaded of the truth to pretended ignorance and opposition. As took place in the case of the Jews, for they did not through ignorance deny the Son of God, but that they might obtain honor from the multitude; "they believed," says the Evangelist, but were afraid, "lest they should be put out of the synagogue." ( xii. 40 .) And so they gave up [67] their salvation to others. [68] For it cannot be that he who is so zealous a slave to the glory of this present world can obtain the glory which is from God. Wherefore He rebuked them, saying, "How can ye believe, which receive honor of men, and seek not the honor which cometh from God?" ( v. 44 .) This passion is a sort of deep intoxication, and makes him who is subdued by it hard to recover. And having detached the souls of its captives from heavenly things, it nails them to earth, and lets them not look up to the true light, but persuades them ever to wallow in the mire, giving them masters so powerful, that they have the rule over them without needing to use commands. For the man who is sick of this disease, does of his own accord, and without bidding, all that he thinks will be agreeable to his masters. On their account he clothes himself in rich apparel, and beautifies his face, taking these pains not for himself but for others; and he leads about a train of followers through the market-place, that others may admire him, and all that he does he goes through, merely out of obsequiousness to the rest of the world. Can any state of mind be more wretched than this? That others may admire him, he is ever being precipitated [69] to ruin.

Would you learn what a tyrannous sway it exercises? Why surely, the words of Christ are sufficient to show it all. But yet listen to these further remarks. [70] If you will ask any of those men who mingle in state affairs and incur great expenses, why they lavish so much gold, and what their so vast expenditure means; you will hear from them, that it is for nothing else but to gratify the people. If again you ask what the people may be; they will say, that it is a thing full of confusion and turbulent, made up for the most part of folly, tossed blindly to and fro like the waves of the sea, and often composed of varying and adverse opinions. Must not the man who has such a master be more pitiable than any one? And yet strange though it be, it is not so strange that worldly men should be eager about these things; but that those who say that they have started away from the world should be sick of this same disease, or rather of one more grievous still, this is the strangest thing of all. For with the first the loss extends only to money, but in the last case the danger reaches to the soul. For when men alter a right faith for reputation's sake, and dishonor God that they may be in high repute themselves, tell me, what excess of stupidity and madness must there not be in what they do? Other passions, even if they are very hurtful, at least bring some pleasure with them, though it be but for a time and fleeting; those who love money, or wine, or women, have, with their hurt, a pleasure, though a brief one. But those who are taken captives by this passion, live a life continually embittered and stripped of enjoyment, for they do not obtain what they earnestly desire, glory, I mean, from the many. They think they enjoy it, but do not really, because the thing they aim at is not glory at all. And therefore their state of mind is not called glory, [71] but a something void of glory, vaingloriousness, [72] so have all the ancients named it, and with good reason; inasmuch as it is quite empty, and contains nothing bright or glorious within it, but as players' masks seem to be bright and lovely, but are hollow within, (for which cause, though they be more beautiful than natural faces, yet they never draw any to love them,) even so, or rather yet more wretchedly, has the applause of the multitude tricked out for us this passion, dangerous as an antagonist, and cruel as a master. Its countenance alone is bright, but within it is no more like the mask's mere emptiness, but crammed with dishonor, and full of savage tyranny. Whence then, it may be asked, has this passion, so unreasonable, so devoid of pleasure, its birth? Whence else but from a low, mean soul? It cannot be that one who is captivated by love of applause should imagine readily anything great or noble; he needs must be base, mean, dishonorable, little. He who does nothing for virtue's sake, but to please men worthy of no consideration, and who ever makes account of their mistaken and erring opinions, how can he be worth anything? Consider; if any one should ask him, What do you think of the many? he clearly would say, "that they are thoughtless, and not to be regarded." Then if any one again should ask him, "Would you choose to be like them?" I do not suppose he could possibly desire to be like them. Must it not then be excessively ridiculous to seek the good opinion of those whom you never would choose to resemble?

[6.] Do you say that they are many and a sort of collective body? this is the very reason why you ought most to despise them. If when taken singly they are contemptible, still more will this be the case when they are many; for when they are assembled together, their individual folly is increased by numbers, and becomes greater. So that a man might possibly take a single one of them and set him right, but could not do so with them when together, because then their folly becomes intense, and they are led like sheep, and follow in every direction the opinions of one another. Tell me, will you seek to obtain this vulgar glory? Do not, I beg and entreat you. It turns everything upside down; it is the mother of avarice, of slander, of false witness, of treacheries; it arms and exasperates those who have received no injury against those who have inflicted none. He who has fallen into this disease neither knows friendship nor remembers old companionship, and knows not how to respect any one at all; he has cast away from his soul all goodness, and is at war with every one, unstable, without natural affection.

Again, the passion of anger, tyrannical though it be and hard to bear, still is not wont always to disturb, but only when it has persons that excite it; but that of vainglory is ever active, and there is no time, as one may say, when it can cease, since reason neither hinders nor restrains it, but it is always with us not only persuading us to sin, but snatching from our hands anything which we may chance to do aright, or sometimes not allowing us to do right at all. If Paul calls covetousness idolatry, what ought we to name that which is mother, and root, and source of it, I mean, vainglory? We cannot possibly find any term such as its wickedness deserves. Beloved, let us now return to our senses; let us put off this filthy garment, let us rend and cut it off from us, let us at some time or other become free with true freedom, and be sensible of the nobility [73] which has been given to us by God; let us despise vulgar applause. For nothing is so ridiculous and disgraceful as this passion, nothing so full of shame and dishonor. One may in many ways see, that to love honor, is dishonor; and that true honor consists in neglecting honor, in making no account of it, but in saying and doing everything according to what seems good to God. In this way we shall be able to receive a reward from Him who sees exactly all our doings, if we are content to have Him only for a spectator. What need we other eyes, when He who shall confer the prize is ever beholding our actions? Is it not a strange thing that, whatever a servant does, he should do to please his master, should seek nothing more than his master's observation, desire not to attract other eyes (though they be great men who are looking on) to his conduct, but aim at one thing only, that his master may observe him; while we who have a Lord so great, seek other spectators who can nothing profit, but rather hurt us by their observation, and make all our labor vain? Not so, I beseech you. Let us call Him to applaud and view our actions from whom we shall receive our rewards. Let us have nothing to do with human eyes. For if we should even desire to attain this honor, we shall then attain to it, when we seek that which cometh from God alone. For, He saith, "Them that honor Me, I will honor." ( 1 Sam. ii. 30 .) And even as we are best supplied with riches when we despise them, and seek only the wealth which cometh from God ("Seek," he saith, "the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you"-- Matt. vi. 33 ); so it is in the case of honor. When the granting either of riches or honor is no longer attended with danger to us, then God gives them freely; and it is then unattended with danger, when they have not the rule or power over us, do not command us as slaves, but belong to us as masters and free men. For the reason that He wishes us not to love them is, that we may not be ruled by them; and if we succeed in this respect, He gives us them with great liberality. Tell me, what is brighter than Paul, when he says, "We seek not honor of men, neither of you, nor yet of others." ( 1 Thess. ii. 6 .) What then is richer than him who hath nothing, and yet possesseth all things? for as I said, when we are not mastered by them, then we shall master them, then we shall receive them. If then we desire to obtain honor, let us shun honor, so shall we be enabled after accomplishing the laws of God to obtain both the good things which are here, and those which are promised, by the grace of Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


[41] e ranon , a feast to which all the guests contributed. [42] al. "study." [43] al. "beginning." [44] i.e. Man is more tractable than brutes, the words of the Spirit more powerful than words of reason. [45] al. "one ever and through all time." [46] ta onta are opposed to ta genomena in the Platonic philosophy. The reading here should be genete for gennete , as in the ms. Baroc. no. 210, in the Bodl. Library. Our Lord is gennetos agenetos . [47] al. "trifle not." [48] al. "is now contained in them." [49] prophorikon . [50] e ndiatheton . [51] hu postasin . [52] a geneton . [53] genetos . [54] ktistheis . [55] oikonomia signifies all that Christ did and suffered on earth for the salvation of mankind. Vide Euseb. Hist. Ecc. i. 1, Not. 11, ed. Heinichen. [56] e xousia . [57] houto ta pragmata okonomei . [58] al. "and Christ, simply a Man." [59] "made," E.V. [60] pareileptai epi tes oikonomias , "adopted in reference to." [61] proaionios . [62] sunkatabasis . [63] a genneton . [64] ten pros auton aparallaxian . [65] al. "love of rule." [66] a leiphei . [67] proeteinan . [68] i.e. gave up their salvation rather than offend others. [69] katakremnizetai . [70] al. "but it may be seen from this." [71] doxa . [72] kenodoxia , lit. "empty glory." [73] eugeneia , "high birth."

Homily IV.

John i. 1

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God."

[1.] When children are just brought to their learning, their teachers do not give them many tasks in succession, nor do they set them once for all, but they often repeat to them the same short ones, so that what is said may be easily implanted in their minds, and they may not be vexed at the first onset with the quantity, and with finding it hard to remember, and become less active in picking up what is given them, a kind of sluggishness arising from the difficulty. And I, who wish to effect the same with you, and to render your labor easy, take by little and little the food which lies on this Divine table, and instill it into your souls. On this account I shall handle again the same words, not so as to say again the same things, but to set before you only what yet remains. Come, then, let us again apply our discourse to the introduction.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." Why, when all the other Evangelists had begun with the Dispensation [74] ; (for Matthew says, "The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David"; and Luke too relates to us in the beginning of his Gospel the events relating to Mary; and in like manner Mark dwells on the same narratives, from that point detailing to us the history of the Baptist;) why, when they began with these matters, did John briefly and in a later place hint at them, saying, "the Word was made flesh" ( ver. 14 .); and, passing by everything else, His conception, His birth, His bringing up, His growth, at once discourse to us concerning His Eternal Generation?

I will now tell you what the reason of this is. Because the other Evangelists had dwelt most on the accounts of His coming in the flesh, there was fear lest some, being of grovelling minds, might for this reason rest in these doctrines alone, as indeed was the case with Paul of Samosata. In order, therefore, to lead away from this fondness for earth those who were like to fall into it, and to draw them up towards heaven, with good reason he commences his narrative from above, and from the eternal subsistence. For while Matthew enters upon his relation from Herod the king, Luke from Tiberius Cæsar, Mark from the Baptism of John, this Apostle, leaving alone all these things, ascends beyond all time or age. [75] Thither darting forward the imagination of his hearers to the " was in the beginning ," not allowing it to stay at any point, nor setting any limit, as they did in Herod, and Tiberius, and John.

And what we may mention besides as especially deserving our admiration is, that John, though he gave himself up to the higher doctrine, [76] yet did not neglect the Dispensation; nor were the others, though intent upon the relation of this, silent as to the subsistence before the ages. With good cause; for One Spirit It was that moved the souls of all; and therefore they have shown great unanimity in their narrative. But thou, beloved, when thou hast heard of "The Word," do not endure those who say, that He is a work; nor those even who think, that He is simply a word. For many are the words of God which angels execute, but of those words none is God; they all are prophecies or commands, (for in Scripture it is usual to call the laws of God His commands, and prophecies, words; wherefore in speaking of the angels, he says, "Mighty in strength, fulfilling His word") ( Ps. ciii. 20 ), but this Word is a Being with subsistence, [77] proceeding [78] without affection [79] from the Father Himself. For this, as I before said, he has shown by the term "Word." As therefore the expression, "In the beginning was the Word," shows His Eternity, so "was in the beginning with God," has declared to us His Co-eternity. For that you may not, when you hear "In the beginning was the Word," suppose Him to be Eternal, and yet imagine the life of the Father to differ from His by some interval and longer duration, and so assign a beginning to the Only-Begotten, he adds, "was in the beginning with God"; so eternally even as the Father Himself, for the Father was never without the Word, but He was always God with God, yet Each in His proper Person. [80]

How then, one says, does John assert, that He was in the world, if He was with God? Because He was both [81] with God and in the world also. For neither Father nor Son are limited in any way. Since, if "there is no end of His greatness" ( Ps. cxlv. 3 ), and if "of His wisdom there is no number" ( Ps. cxlvii. 5 ), it is clear that there cannot be any beginning in time [82] to His Essence. Thou hast heard, that "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth" ( Gen. i. 1 ); what dost thou understand from this "beginning"? clearly, that they were created before all visible things. So, respecting the Only-Begotten, when you hear that He was "in the beginning," conceive of him as before all intelligible things, [83] and before the ages.

But if any one say, "How can it be that He is a Son, and yet not younger than the Father? since that which proceeds from something else needs must be later than that from which it proceeds"; we will say that, properly speaking, these are human reasonings; that he who questions on this matter will question on others yet more improper; [84] and that to such we ought not even to give ear. For our speech is now concerning God, not concerning the nature of men, which is subject to the sequence and necessary conclusions of these reasonings. Still, for the assurance of the weaker sort, we will speak even to these points.

[2.] Tell me, then, does the radiance of the sun proceed from the substance [85] itself of the sun, or from some other source? Any one not deprived of his very senses needs must confess, that it proceeds from the substance itself. Yet, although the radiance proceeds from the sun itself, we cannot say that it is later in point of time than the substance of that body, since the sun has never appeared without its rays. Now if in the case of these visible and sensible bodies there has been shown to be something which proceeds from something else, and yet is not after that from whence it proceeds; why are you incredulous in the case of the invisible and ineffable Nature? This same thing there takes place, but in a manner suitable to That Substance. [86] For it is for this reason that Paul too calls Him "Brightness" ( Heb. i. 3 ); setting forth thereby His being from Him and His Co-eternity. Again, tell me, were not all the ages, and every interval [87] created by Him? Any man not deprived of his senses must necessarily confess this. There is no interval [88] therefore between the Son and the Father; and if there be none, then He is not after, but Co-eternal with Him. For "before" and "after" are notions implying time, since, without age or time, no man could possibly imagine these words; but God is above times and ages.

But if in any case you say that you have found a beginning to the Son, see whether by the same reason and argument you are not compelled to reduce the Father also to a beginning, earlier indeed, but still a beginning. For when you have assigned to the Son a limit and beginning of existence, do you not proceed upwards from that point, and say, that the Father was before it? Clearly you do. Tell me then, what is the extent of the Father's prior subsistence? For whether you say that the interval is little, or whether you say it is great, you equally have brought the Father to a beginning. For it is clear, that it is by measuring the space that you say whether it is little or great; yet it would not be possible to measure it, unless there were a beginning on either side; so that as far as you are concerned you have given the Father a beginning, and henceforth, according to your argument, not even the Father will be without beginning. See you that the word spoken by the Saviour is true, and the saying everywhere discovers its force? And what is that word? It is "He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father." ( John v. 23 .)

And I know indeed that what now has been said cannot by many be comprehended, and therefore it is that in many places we avoid [89] agitating questions of human reasonings, because the rest of the people cannot follow such arguments, and if they could, still they have nothing firm or sure in them. "For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain." ( Wisd. ix. 14 .) Still I should like to ask our objectors, what means that which is said by the Prophet, "Before Me there was no God formed, nor is there any after Me"? ( Is. xliii. 10 .) For if the Son is younger than the Father, how, says He, "Nor is there [90] any after me"? Will you take away the being of the Only-Begotten Himself? You either must dare this, or admit one Godhead with distinct Persons of the Father and Son.

Finally, how could the expression, "All things were made by Him," be true? For if there is an age older than He, how can that [91] which was before Him have been made by Him? See ye to what daring the argument has carried them, when once the truth has been unsettled? Why did not the Evangelist say, that He was made from things that were not, as Paul declares of all things, when he says, "Who calleth those things which be not as though they were"; but says, "Was in the beginning"? ( Rom. iv. 17 .) This is contrary to that; and with good reason. For God neither is made, [92] nor has anything older; these are words of the Greeks. [93] Tell me this too: Would you not say, that the Creator beyond all comparison excels His works? Yet since that which is from things that were not is similar to them, where is the superiority not admitting of comparison? And what mean the expressions, "I am the first and I am the last" ( Is. xliv. 6 ); and, "before Me was no other God formed"? ( Is. xliii. 10 .) For if the Son be not of the same Essence, there is another God; and if He be not Co-eternal, He is after Him; and if He did not proceed from His Essence, clear it is that He was made. But if they assert, that these things were said to distinguish Him from idols, why do they not allow that it is to distinguish Him from idols that he says, "the Only True God"? ( John xvii. 3 .) Besides, if this was said to distinguish Him from idols, how would you interpret the whole sentence? "After Me," He says, "is no other God." In saying this, He does not exclude the Son, but that "After Me there is no idol God," not that "there is no Son." Allowed, says he; what then? and the expression, "Before Me was no other God formed," will you so understand, as that no idol God indeed was formed before Him, but yet a Son was formed before Him? What evil spirit would assert this? I do not suppose that even Satan himself would do so.

Moreover, if He be not Co-eternal with the Father, how can you say that His Life is infinite? For if it have a beginning from before, [94] although it be endless, yet it is not infinite; for the infinite must be infinite in both directions. As Paul also declared, when he said, "Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" ( Heb. vii. 3 ); by this expression showing that He is both without beginning and without end. For as the one has no limit, so neither has the other. In one direction there is no end, in the other no beginning.

[3.] And how again, since He is "Life," was there ever when He was not? For all must allow, that Life both is always, and is without beginning and without end, if It be indeed Life, as indeed It is. For if there be when It is not, how can It be the life of others, when It even Itself is not?

"How then," says one, "does John lay down a beginning by saying, `In the beginning was'?" Tell me, have you attended to the "In the beginning," and to the "was," and do you not understand the expression, "the Word was"? What! when the Prophet says, "From everlasting [95] and to everlasting Thou art" ( Ps. xc. 2 ), does he say this to assign Him limits? No, but to declare His Eternity. Consider now that the case is the same in this place. He did not use the expression as assigning limits, since he did not say, "had a beginning," but "was in the beginning"; by the word "was" carrying thee forward to the idea that the Son is without beginning. "Yet observe," says he, "the Father is named with the addition of the article, but the Son without it." What then, when the Apostle says, "The Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ" ( Tit. ii. 13 ); and again, "Who is above all, God"? ( Rom. ix. 5 .) It is true that here he has mentioned the Son, without the article; but he does the same with the Father also, at least in his Epistle to the Philippians ( c. ii. 6 ), he says, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God"; and again to the Romans, "Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." ( Rom. i. 7 .) Besides, it was superfluous for it to be attached in that place, when close [96] above it was continually attached to "the Word." For as in speaking concerning the Father, he says, "God is a Spirit" ( John iv. 24 ), and we do not, because the article is not joined to "Spirit," yet deny the Spiritual Nature of God; so here, although the article is not annexed to the Son, the Son is not on that account a less God. Why so? Because in saying "God," and again "God," he does not reveal to us any difference in this Godhead, but the contrary; for having before said, "and the Word was God"; that no one might suppose the Godhead of the Son to be inferior, he immediately adds the characteristics of genuine Godhead, including Eternity, (for "He was," says he, "in the beginning with God,") and attributing to Him the office of Creator. For "by Him were all things made, and without Him was not anything made that was made"; which His Father also everywhere by the Prophets declares to be especially characteristic of His own Essence. And the Prophets are continually busy on this kind of demonstration, not only of itself, but when they contend against the honor shown to idols; "Let the gods perish," says one "who have not made heaven and earth" ( Jer. x. 11 ): and again, "I have stretched out the heaven with My hand" ( Is. xliv. 24 ); and it is as declaring it to be indicative of Divinity, that He everywhere puts it. And the Evangelist himself was not satisfied with these words, but calls Him "Life" too and "Light." If now He was ever with the Father, if He Himself created all things, if He brought all things into existence, and keeps together [97] all things, (for, this he meant by "Life,") if He enlightens all things, who so senseless as to say, that the Evangelist desired to teach an inferiority of Divinity by those very expressions, by which, rather than by any others, it is possible to express its equality and not differing? Let us not then confound the creation with the Creator, lest we too hear it said of us, that "they served the creature rather than the Creator" ( Rom. i. 25 ); for although it be asserted that this is said of the heavens, still in speaking of the heavens he positively says, that we must not serve [98] the creature, for it is a heathenish [99] thing.

[4.] Let us therefore not lay ourselves under this curse. For this the Son of God came, that He might rid us from this service; for this He took the form of a slave, that He might free us from this slavery; for this He was spit upon, for this He was buffeted, for this He endured the shameful death. Let us not, I entreat you, make all these things of none effect, let us not go back to our former unrighteousness, or rather to unrighteousness much more grievous; for to serve the creature is not the same thing as to bring down the Creator, as far at least as in us lies, to the meanness of the creature. For He continues being such as He is; as says the Psalmist, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." ( Ps. cii. 27 .) Let us then glorify Him as we have received from our fathers, let us glorify Him both by our faith and by our works; for sound doctrines avail us nothing to salvation, if our life is corrupt. Let us then order it according to what is well-pleasing to God, setting ourselves far from all filthiness, unrighteousness, and covetousness, as strangers and foreigners and aliens to the things here on earth. If any have much wealth and possessions, let him so use them as one who is a sojourner, and who, whether he will or not, shall shortly pass from them. If one be injured by another, let him not be angry forever, nay rather not even for a time. For the Apostle has not allowed us more than a single day for the venting of anger.

"Let not," says he, "the sun go down upon your wrath" ( Eph. iv. 26 ); and with reason; for it is matter for contentment that even in so short a time nothing unpleasant take place; but if night also overtake us, what has happened becomes more grievous, because the fire of our wrath is increased ten thousand times by memory, and we at our leisure enquire into it more bitterly. Before therefore we obtain this pernicious leisure and kindle a hotter fire, he bids us arrest beforehand and quench the mischief. For the passion of wrath is fierce, fiercer than any flame; and so we need much haste to prevent the flame, and not allow it to blaze up high, for so this disease becomes a cause of many evils. It has overturned whole houses, it has dissolved old companionships, and has worked tragedies not to be remedied in a short moment of time. "For," saith one, "the sway of his fury shall be his destruction." ( Ecclus. i. 22 .) Let us not then leave such a wild beast unbridled, but put upon him a muzzle in all ways strong, the fear of the judgment to come. Whenever a friend grieves thee, or one of thine own family exasperates thee, think of the sins thou hast committed against God, and that by kindness towards him thou makest that judgment more lenient to thyself, ("Forgive," saith He, "and ye shall be forgiven") ( Luke vi. 37 ), and thy passion shall quickly skulk away. [100]

And besides, consider this, whether there has been a time when thou wert being carried away into ferocity, and didst control thyself, and another time when thou hast been dragged along by the passion. Compare the two seasons, and thou shalt gain thence great improvement. For tell me, when didst thou praise thyself? Was it when thou wast worsted, or when thou hadst the mastery? Do we not in the first case vehemently blame ourselves, and feel ashamed. even when none reproves us, and do not many feelings of repentance come over us, both for what we have said and done; but when we gain the mastery, then are we not proud, and exult as conquerors? For victory in the case of anger is, not the requiting evil with the like, (that is utter defeat,) but the bearing meekly to be ill treated and ill spoken of. To get the better is not to inflict but to suffer evil. Therefore when angry do not say, "certainly I will retaliate," "certainly I will be revenged"; do not persist in saying to those who exhort you to gain a victory, "I will not endure that the man mock me, and escape clear." He will never mock thee, except when thou avengest thyself; or if he even should mock thee he will do so as a fool. Seek not when thou conquerest honor from fools, but consider that sufficient which comes from men of understanding. Nay, why do I set before thee a small and mean body of spectators, when I make it up of men? Look up straight to God: He will praise thee, and the man who is approved by Him must not seek honor from mortals. Mortal honor often arises from flattery or hatred of others, and brings no profit; but the decision of God is free from this inequality, and brings great advantage to the man whom He approves. This praise then let us follow after.

Will you learn what an evil is anger? Stand by while others are quarreling in the forum. In yourself you cannot easily see the disgrace of the thing, because your reason is darkened and drunken; but when you are clear from the passion, and while your judgment is sound, view your own case in others. Observe, I pray you, the crowds collecting round, and the angry men like maniacs acting shamefully in the midst. For when the passion boils up within the breast, and becomes excited and savage, the mouth breathes fire, the eyes emit fire, all the face becomes swollen, the hands are extended disorderly, the feet dance ridiculously, and they spring at those who restrain them, and differ nothing from madmen in their insensibility to all these things; nay, differ not from wild asses, kicking and biting. Truly a passionate man is not a graceful one.

And then, when after this exceedingly ridiculous conduct, they return home and come to themselves, they have the greater pain, and much fear, thinking who were present when they were angry. For like raving men, they did not then know the standers by, but when they have returned to their right mind, then they consider, were they friends? were they foes and enemies that looked on? And they fear alike about both; the first because they will condemn them and give them more shame; the others because they will rejoice at it. And if they have even exchanged blows, then their fear is the more pressing; for instance, lest anything very grievous happen to the sufferer; a fever follow and bring on death, or a troublesome swelling rise and place him in danger of the worst. And, "what need" (say they) "had I of fighting, and violence, and quarreling? Perish such things." And then they curse the ill-fated business which caused them to begin, and the more foolish lay on "wicked spirits," and "an evil hour," the blame of what has been done; but these things are not from an evil hour, (for there is no such thing as an evil hour,) nor from a wicked spirit, but from the wickedness of those captured by the passion; they draw the spirits to them, and bring upon themselves all things terrible. "But the heart swells," says one, "and is stung by insults." I know it; and that is the reason why I admire those who master this dreadful wild beast; yet it is possible if we will, to beat off the passion. For why when our rulers insult us do we not feel it? It is because fear counterbalances the passion, and frightens us from it, and does not allow it to spring up at all. And why too do our servants, though insulted by us in ten thousand ways, bear all in silence? Because they too have the same restraint laid upon them. And think thou not merely of the fear of God, but that it is even God Himself who then insults thee, who bids thee be silent, and then thou wilt bear all things meekly, and say to the aggressor, How can I be angry with thee? there is another that restrains both my hand and my tongue; and the saying will be a suggestion of sound wisdom, both to thyself and to him. Even now we bear unbearable things on account of men, and often say to those who have insulted us, "Such an one insulted me, not you." Shall we not use the same caution in the case of God? How else can we hope for pardon? Let us say to our soul, "It is God who holds our hands, who now insults us; let us not be restive, let not God be less honored by us than men." Did ye shudder at the word? I wish you would shudder not at the word only, but at the deed. For God hath commanded us when buffeted not only to endure it, but even to offer ourselves to suffer something worse; and we withstand Him with such vehemence, that we not only refuse to offer ourselves to suffer evil, but even avenge ourselves, nay often are the first to act on the offensive, [101] and think we are disgraced if we do not the same in return. Yes, and the mischief is, that when utterly worsted we think ourselves conquerors, and when lying undermost and receiving ten thousand blows from the devil, then we imagine that we are mastering him. Let us then, I exhort you, understand what is the nature [102] of this victory, and this kind of nature [103] let us follow after. To suffer evil is to get the crown. If then we wish to be proclaimed victors by God, let us not in these contests observe the laws of heathen games, but those of God, and learn to bear all things with longsuffering; for so we may get the better of our antagonists, and obtain both present and promised goods, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


[74] oikonomias . [75] aionos . [76] logon . [77] ousia enupostatos . [78] proelthousa . [79] a pathos . [80] hu postasei . [81] al. "God with God." [82] chronike . [83] noeton . [84] a topotera . [85] phuseos . [86] to auto de touto estin houtos hos ekeine ousia prepon en . [87] diastema . [88] mson . [89] a naballometha , "put off." [90] LXX. e stin . [91] to , al. ho . [92] ginetai . [93] Heathens. [94] a nothen , "a parte ante." [95] a po tou aionos . [96] sunechos . [97] sunkrotei , al. sunkratei . [98] latreuein . [99] Ellenikon . [100] drapeteusei . [101] a rchein cheiron adikon . [102] tropos . [103] tropou to eidos .

Homily V.

John i. 3

"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made."

[1.] Moses in the beginning of the history and writings of the Old Testament speaks to us of the objects of sense, and enumerates them to us at length. For, "In the beginning," he says, "God made the heaven and the earth," and then he adds, that light was created, and a second heaven and the stars, the various kinds of living creatures, and, that we may not delay by going through particulars, everything else. But this Evangelist, cutting all short, includes both these things and the things which are above these in a single sentence; with reason, because they were known to his hearers, and because he is hastening to a greater subject, and has instituted all his treatise, that he might speak not of the works but of the Creator, and Him who produced them all. And therefore Moses, though he has selected the smaller portion of the creation, (for he has spoken nothing to us concerning the invisible powers,) dwells on these things; [104] while John, as hastening to ascend to the Creator Himself, runs by both these things, and those on which Moses was silent, having comprised them in one little saying, "All things were made by Him." And that you may not think that he merely speaks of all the things mentioned by Moses, he adds, that "without Him was not anything made that was made." That is to say, that of created things, not one, whether it be visible [105] or intelligible [106] was brought into being without the power of the Son.

For we will not put the full stop after "not anything," as the heretics do. They, because they wish to make the Spirit created, say, "What was made, in Him was Life"; yet so what is said becomes unintelligible. First, it was not the time here to make mention of the Spirit, and if he desired to do so, why did he state it so indistinctly? For how is it clear that this saying relates to the Spirit? Besides, we shall find by this argument, not that the Spirit, but that the Son Himself, is created by Himself. But rouse yourselves, that what is said may not escape you; and come, let us read for a while after their fashion, for so its absurdity will be clearer to us. "What was made, in Him was Life." They say that the Spirit is called "Life." But this "Life" is found to be also "Light," for he adds, "And the Life was the Light of men." ( Ver. 4 .) Therefore, according to them the "Light of men" here means the Spirit. Well, but when he goes on to say, that "There was a man sent from God, to bear witness of that Light" ( vers. 6, 7 ), they needs must assert, that this too is spoken of the Spirit; for whom he above called "Word," Him as he proceeds he calls "God," and "Life," and "Light." This "Word" he says was "Life," and this "Life" was "Light." If now this Word was Life, and if this Word and this Life became flesh, then the Life, that is to say, the Word, "was made flesh, and we beheld" Its "glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father." If then they say that the Spirit is here called "Life," consider what strange consequences will follow. It will be the Spirit, not the Son, that was made flesh; the Spirit will be the Only-Begotten Son.

And those who read the passage so will fall, if not into this, yet in avoiding this into another most strange conclusion. If they allow that the words are spoken of the Son, and yet do not stop or read as we do, then they will assert that the Son is created by Himself. Since, if "the Word was Life," and "what was made in Him was Life"; according to this reading He is created in Himself and through Himself. Then after some words between, he has added, "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father." ( Ver. 14 .) See, the Holy Spirit is found, according to the reading of those who assert these things, to be also an only-begotten Son, for it is concerning Him that all this declaration is uttered by him. See when the word has swerved [107] from the truth, whither it is perverted, and what strange consequences it produces!

What then, says one, is not the Spirit "Light"? It is Light: but in this place there is no mention of the Spirit. Since even God (the Father) is called "Spirit," that is to say, incorporeal, yet God (the Father) is not absolutely meant wherever "Spirit" is mentioned. And why do you wonder if we say this of the Father? We could not even say of the Comforter, that wherever "Spirit" (is mentioned), the Comforter is absolutely meant, and yet this is His most distinctive name; still not always where Spirit (is mentioned is) the Comforter (meant). Thus Christ is called "the power of God" ( 1 Cor. i. 24 ), and "the wisdom of God"; yet not always where "the power" and "the wisdom of God" are mentioned is Christ meant; so in this passage, although the Spirit does give "Light," yet the Evangelist is not now speaking of the Spirit.

When we have shut them out from these strange opinions, they who take all manner of pains to withstand the truth, say, (still clinging to the same reading,) "Whatever came into existence [108] by him was life, because," says one, "whatever came into existence was life." What then do you say of the punishment of the men of Sodom, and the flood, and hell fire, and ten thousand like things? "But," says one, "we are speaking of the material creation." [109] Well, these too belong entirely to the material creation. But that we may out of our abundance [110] refute their argument, we will ask them, "Is wood, life," tell me? "Is stone, life?" these things that are lifeless and motionless? Nay, is man absolutely life? Who would say so? he is not pure life, [111] but is capable of receiving life.

[2.] See here again, an absurdity; by the same succession of consequences we will bring the argument to such a point, that even hence you may learn their folly. In this way they assert things by no means befitting of the Spirit. Being driven from their other ground, they apply those things to men, which they before thought to be spoken worthily of the Spirit. However, let us examine the reading itself this way also. The creature is now called "life," therefore, the same is "light," and John came to witness concerning it. Why then is not he also "light"? He says that "he was not that light" ( ver. 8 ), and yet he belonged to created things? How then is he not "light"? How was he "in the world, and the world was made by him"? ( Ver. 10 .) Was the creature in the creature, and was the creature made by the creature? But how did "the world know him not"? How did the creature not know the creature? "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." ( Ver. 12 .) But enough of laughter. For the rest I leave it to you to attack these monstrous reasonings, that we may not seem to have chosen [112] to raise a laugh for its own sake, and waste the time without cause. For if these things are neither said of the Spirit, (and it has been shown that they are not,) nor of anything created, and yet they still hold to the same reading, that stranger conclusion than any which we before mentioned, will follow, that the Son was made by Himself. For if the Son is the true Light, and this Light was Life, and this Life was made in Him, this must needs be the result according to their own reading. Let us then relinquish this reading, and come to the recognized reading and explanation. [113]

And what is that? It is to make the sentence end at "was made," and to begin the next sentence with, "In Him was Life." What (the Evangelist) says is this, "Without Him was not anything made that was made"; whatever created thing was made, says he, was not made without Him. See you how by this short addition he has rectified all the besetting [114] difficulties; for the saying, that "without Him was not anything made," and then the adding, "which was made," includes things cognizable by the intellect, [115] but excludes the Spirit. For after he had said that "all things were made by Him," and "without Him was not anything made," he needed this addition, lest some one should say, "If all things were made by Him, then the Spirit also was made." "I," he replies, "asserted that whatever was made was made by Him, even though it be invisible, or incorporeal, or in the heavens. For this reason, I did not say absolutely, `all things,' but `whatever was made,' that is, `created things,' but the Spirit is uncreated."

Do you see the precision of his teaching? He has alluded to the creation of material things, (for concerning these Moses had taught before him,) and after bringing us to advance from thence to higher things, I mean the immaterial and the invisible, he excepts the Holy Spirit from all creation. And so Paul, inspired by the same grace, said, "For by Him were all things created." ( Col. i. 16 .) Observe too here again the same exactness. For the same Spirit moved this soul also. That no one should except any created things from the works of God because of their being invisible, nor yet should confound the Comforter with them, after running through the objects of sense which are known to all, he enumerates also things in the heavens, saying, "Whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers"; for the expression "whether" subjoined to each, shows to us nothing else but this, that "by Him all things were made, and without Him was not anything made that was made."

But if you think that the expression "by" [116] is a mark of inferiority, (as making Christ an instrument,) hear him say, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands." ( Ps. cii. 25 .) He says of the Son what is said of the Father in His character of Creator; which he would not have said, unless he had deemed of Him as of a Creator, and yet not subservient to any. And if the expression "by Him" is here used, it is put for no other reason but to prevent any one from supposing the Son to be Unbegotten. For that in respect of the title of Creator He is nothing inferior to the Father; hear from Himself, where He saith, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." ( c. v. 21 .) If now in the Old Testament it is said of the Son, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth," His title of Creator is plain. But if you say that the Prophet spoke this of the Father, and that Paul attributed to the Son what was said of the Father, even so the conclusion is the same. For Paul would not have decided that the same expression suited the Son, unless he had been very confident that between Father and Son there was an equality of honor; since it would have been an act of extremest rashness to refer what suited an incomparable Nature to a nature inferior to, and falling short of it. But the Son is not inferior to, nor falls short of, the Essence of the Father; and therefore Paul has not only dared to use these expressions concerning Him, but also others like them. For the expression "from Whom," which you decide to belong properly to the Father alone, he uses also concerning the Son, when he says, "from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." ( Col. ii. 19 .)

[3.] And he is not content with this only, he stops your mouths in another way also, by applying to the Father the expression "by whom," which you say is a mark of inferiority. For he says, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son" ( 1 Cor. i. 9 ): and again, "By His will" ( 1 Cor. i. 1 , &c.); and in another place, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things." ( Rom. xi. 26 .) Neither is the expression "from [117] whom," assigned to the Son only, but also to the Spirit; for the angel said to Joseph, "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." ( Matt. i. 20 .) As also the Prophet does not deem it improper to apply to the Father the expression "in whom," [118] which belongs to the Spirit, when he says, "In [119] God we shall do valiantly." ( Ps. lx. 12 .) And Paul, "Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey, in the will of God, to come unto you." ( Rom. i. 10 .) And again he uses it of Christ, saying, "In Christ Jesus." ( Rom. vi. 11, 23 , &c.) In short, we may often and continually find these expressions interchanged; [120] now this would not have taken place, had not the same Essence been in every instance their subject. And that you may not imagine that the words, "All things were made by Him," are in this case used concerning His miracles, (for the other Evangelists have discoursed concerning these;) he farther goes on to say, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him"; (but not the Spirit, for This is not of the number of created things, but of those above all creation.)

Let us now attend to what follows. John having spoken of the work of creation, that "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made," goes on to speak concerning His Providence, where he saith, "In Him was Life." That no one may doubt how so many and so great things were "made by Him," he adds, that "In Him was Life." For as with the fountain which is the mother of the great deeps, however much you take away you nothing lessen the fountain; so with the energy of the Only-Begotten, however much you believe has been produced and made by it, it has become no whit the less. Or, to use a more familiar example, I will instance that of light, which the Apostle himself added immediately, saying, "And the Life was the Light." As then light, however many myriads it may enlighten, suffers no diminution of its own brightness; so also God, before commencing His work and after completing it, remains alike indefectible, nothing diminished, nor wearied by the greatness of the creation. Nay, if need were that ten thousand, or even an infinite number of such worlds be created, He remains the same, sufficient for them all not merely to produce, but also to control them after their creation. For the word "Life" here refers not merely to the act of creation, but also to the providence (engaged) about the permanence of the things created; it also lays down beforehand the doctrine of the resurrection, and is the beginning [121] of these marvelous good tidings. [122] Since when "life" has come to be with us, the power of death is dissolved; and when "light" has shone upon us, there is no longer darkness, but life ever abides within us, and death cannot overcome it. So that what is asserted of the Father might be asserted absolutely of Him (Christ) also, that "In Him we live and move and have our being." ( Col. i. 16, 17 .) As Paul has shown when he says, "By Him were all things created," and "by Him all things consist"; for which reason He has been called also "Root" [123] and "Foundation." [124]

But when you hear that "In Him was Life," do not imagine Him a compound Being, since farther on he says of the Father also, "As the Father hath Life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have Life" ( John v. 26 ); now as you would not on account of this expression say that the Father is compounded, so neither can you say so of the Son. Thus in another place he says, that "God is Light" ( 1 John i. 5 ), and elsewhere (it is said), that He "dwelleth in light unapproachable" ( 1 Tim. vi. 16 ); yet these expressions are used not that we may suppose a compounded nature, [125] but that by little and little we may be led up to the highest doctrines. For since one of the multitude could not easily have understood how His life was Life Impersonate, [126] he first used that humbler expression, and afterwards leads them (thus) trained to the higher doctrine. For He who had said that "He hath given Him (the Son) to have life" ( c. v. 26 ); the Same saith in another place, "I am the Life" ( c. xiv. 6 ); and in another, "I am the Light." ( c. viii. 12 .) And what, tell me, is the nature of this "light"? This kind (of light) is the object not of the senses, but of the intellect, enlightening the soul herself. And since Christ should hereafter say, that "None can come unto Me except the Father draw him" ( c. vi. 44 ); the Apostle has in this place anticipated an objection, and declared that it is He (the Son) who "giveth light" ( ver. 9 ); that although you hear a saying like this concerning the Father, you may not say that it belongs to the Father only, but also to the Son. For, "All things," He saith, "which the Father hath are Mine." ( c. xvi. 15 .)

First then, the Evangelist hath instructed us respecting the creation, after that he tells us of the goods relating to the soul which He supplied to us by His coming; and these he has darkly described in one sentence, when he says, "And the Life was the Light of men." ( Ver. 4 .) He does not say, "was the light of the Jews," but universally "of men": nor did the Jews only, but the Greeks also, come to this knowledge, and this light was a common proffer made [127] to all. "Why did he not add `Angels,' but said, `of men'?" Because at present his discourse is of the nature of men, and to them he came bearing glad tidings of good things.

"And the light shineth in darkness." ( ver. 5 .) He calls death and error, "darkness." For the light which is the object of our senses does not shine in darkness, but apart from it; but the preaching of Christ hath shone forth in the midst of prevailing error, and made it to disappear. And He by enduring death [128] hath so overcome death, that He hath recovered those already held by it. Since then neither death overcame it, nor error, since it is bright everywhere, and shines by its proper strength, therefore he says,

"And the darkness comprehended it not." For it cannot be overcome, and will not dwell in souls which wish not to be enlightened.

[4.] But let it not trouble thee that It took not all, for not by necessity and force, but by will and consent [129] does God bring us to Himself. Therefore do not thou shut thy doors against this light, and thou shalt enjoy great happiness. [130] But this light cometh by faith, and when it is come, it lighteth abundantly him that hath received it; and if thou displayest a pure life (meet) for it, remains indwelling within continually. "For," He saith, "He that loveth Me, will keep My commandments; and I and My Father will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." ( John xiv. 23 ; slightly varied.) As then one cannot rightly enjoy the sunlight, unless he opens his eyes; so neither can one largely share this splendor, unless he have expanded the eye of the soul, and rendered it in every way keen of sight.

But how is this effected? Then when we have cleansed the soul from all the passions. For sin is darkness, and a deep darkness; as is clear, because men do it unconsciously and secretly. For, "every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light." ( c. iii. 20 .) And, "It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." ( Eph. v. 12 .) For, as in darkness a man knows neither friend nor foe, but cannot perceive any of the properties of objects; so too is it in sin. For he who desires to get more gain, makes no difference between friend and enemy; and the envious regards with hostile eyes the man with whom he is very intimate; and the plotter is at mortal quarrel with all alike. In short, as to distinguishing the nature of objects, he who commits sin is no better than men who are drunk or mad. And as in the night, wood, lead, iron, silver, gold, precious stones, seem to us all alike on account of the absence of the light which shows their distinctions; so he who leads an impure life knows neither the excellence of temperance nor the beauty of philosophy. For in darkness, as I said before, even precious stones if they be displayed do not show their luster, not by reason of their own nature, but because of the want of discernment in the beholders. Nor is this the only evil which happens to us who are in sin, but this also, that we live in constant fear: and as men walking in a moonless night tremble, though none be by to frighten them; so those who work iniquity cannot have confidence, though there be none to accuse them; but they are afraid of everything, and are suspicious, being pricked by their conscience: all to them is full of fear and distress, [131] they look about them at everything, are terrified at everything. Let us then flee a life so painful, especially since after this painfulness shall follow death; a deathless death, for of the punishment in that place there will be no end; and in this life they (who sin) are no better than madmen, in that they are dreaming of things that have no existence. They think they are rich when they are not rich, that they enjoy when they are not enjoying, nor do they properly perceive the cheat until they are freed from the madness and have shaken off the sleep. Wherefore Paul exhorts all to be sober, and to watch; and Christ also commands the same. For he who is sober and awake, although he be captured by sin, quickly beats it off; while he who sleeps and is beside himself, perceives not how he is held prisoner of it.

Let us then not sleep. This is not the season of night, but of day. Let us therefore "walk honestly [132] as in the day" ( Rom. xiii. 13 ); and nothing is more indecent than sin . In point of indecency it is not so bad to go about naked as in sin and wrong doing. That is not so great matter of blame, since it might even be caused by poverty; but nothing has more shame and less honor than the sinner. Let us think of those who come to the justice-hall on some account of extortion, or overreaching; [133] how base and ridiculous they appear to all by their utter shamelessness, their lies, and audacity. [134] But we are such pitiable and wretched beings, that we cannot bear ourselves to put on a garment awkwardly or awry; nay, if we see another person in this state, we set him right; and yet though we and all our neighbors are walking on our heads, we do not even perceive it. For what, say, can be more shameful than a man who goes in to a harlot? what more contemptible than an insolent, a foul-tongued or an envious man? Whence then is it that these things do not seem so disgraceful as to walk naked? Merely from habit. To go naked no one has ever willingly endured; but all men are continually venturing on the others without any fear. Yet if one came into an assembly of angels, among whom nothing of the sort has ever taken place, there he would clearly see the great ridicule (of such conduct). And why do I say an assembly of angels? Even in the very palaces among us, should one introduce a harlot and enjoy her, or be oppressed by excess of wine, or commit any other like indecency, he would suffer extreme punishment. But if it be intolerable that men should dare such things in palaces, much more when the King is everywhere present, and observes what is done, shall we if we dare them undergo severest chastisement. Wherefore let us, I exhort you, show forth in our life much gentleness, much purity, for we have a King who beholds all our actions continually. In order then that this light may ever richly enlighten us, let us gladly accept [135] these bright beams, [136] for so shall we enjoy both the good things present and those to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, and with whom, to the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


[104] i.e. the visible creation. [105] ho raton . [106] noeton . [107] e kkulisthe , lit. "been rolled away." [108] gegone . [109] demiourgias . [110] e k periousias . [111] autozoe . [112] Sav. and ms . Bodl. proeresthai . [113] e xegesin . [114] hu phormounta , lit. "blockading." [115] i.e. the things of the invisible world, opposed to ho rata . [116] Or, through dia . [117] e k . [118] e n ho . [119] e n . [120] i.e. applied alike to the different Persons in the Holy Trinity. [121] a rchetai . [122] Or, "Gospels," Acts xvii. 28 . [123] Isa. xi. 10 , as quoted Rom. xv. 12; Rev. xxii. 16 . [124] 1 Cor. iii. 11 . [125] sunthesin . [126] e nupostatos . [127] koinon proukeito . [128] Lit. "having been in death." [129] boulesei kai gnome . [130] truphes , "spiritual enjoyment." [131] a gonias . [132] euschemonos , "decently." [133] pleonexias . [134] i tameuomenoi . [135] e pispasometha . [136] a ktina .

Homily VI.

John i. 6

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."

[1.] Having in the introduction spoken to us things of urgent importance [137] concerning God the Word, (the Evangelist) proceeding on his road, and in order, afterwards comes to the herald of the Word, his namesake John. And now that thou hearest that he was "sent from God," do not for the future imagine that any of the words spoken by him are mere man's words; for all that he utters is not his own, but is of Him who sent him. Wherefore he is called [138] "messenger" ( Mal. iii. 1 ), for the excellence of a messenger is, that he say nothing of his own. But the expression "was," in this place is not significative of his coming into existence, but refers to his office of messenger; for "`there was' a man sent from God," is used instead of "a man `was sent' from God."

How then do some say, [139] that the expression, "being in the form of God" ( Philip. ii. 6 ) is not used of His invariable likeness [140] to the Father, because no article is added? [141] For observe, that the article is nowhere added here. Are these words then not spoken of the Father? What then shall we say to the prophet who says, that, "Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way" ( Mal. iii. 1, as found in Mark i. 2 )? for the expressions "My" and "Thy" declare two Persons.

Ver. 7 . "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light."

What is this, perhaps one may say, the servant bear witness to his Master? When then you see Him not only witnessed to by His servant, but even coming to him, and with Jews baptized by him, will you not be still more astonished and perplexed? Yet you ought not to be troubled nor confused, but amazed at such unspeakable goodness. Though if any still continue bewildered [142] and confused, He will say to such an one what He said to John, "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" ( Matt. iii. 15 ); and, if any be still further troubled, again He will say to him too [143] what he said to the Jews, "But I receive not testimony from man." ( c. v. 34 .) If now he needs not this witness, why was John sent from God? Not as though He required his testimony--this were extremest blasphemy. Why then? John himself informs us, when he says,

"That all men through him might believe."

And Christ also, after having said that "I receive not testimony from man" ( c. v. 34 ), in order that He may not seem to the foolish to clash with [144] Himself, by declaring at one time "There is another that beareth witness of Me and I know that his [145] witness is true" ( c. v. 32 ) (for He pointed to John;) and at another, "I receive not testimony from man" ( c. v. 34 ); He immediately adds the solution of the doubt, "But these things I say" for your own sake, [146] "that ye might be saved." As though He had said, that "I am God, and the really-Begotten [147] Son of God, and am of that Simple and Blessed Essence, I need none to witness to Me; and even though none would do so, yet am not I by this anything diminished in My Essence; but because I care for the salvation of the many, [148] I have descended to such humility as to commit the witness of Me to a man." For by reason of the groveling nature and infirmity of the Jews, the faith in Him would in this way be more easily received, and more palatable. [149] As then He clothed Himself with flesh, that he might not, by encountering men with the unveiled Godhead, destroy them all; so He sent forth a man for His herald, that those who heard might at the hearing of a kindred voice approach more readily. For (to prove) that He had no need of that (herald's) testimony, it would have sufficed that He should only have shown Himself who He was in His unveiled Essence, and have confounded them all. But this He did not for the reason I have before mentioned. He would have annihilated [150] all, since none could have endured the encounter of that unapproachable light. [151] Wherefore, as I said, He put on flesh, and entrusted the witness (of Himself) to one of our fellow-servants, since He arranged [152] all for the salvation of men, looking not only to His own honor, but also to what might be readily received by, and be profitable to, His hearers. Which He glanced at when He said, "These things I say" for your sake, "that ye might be saved." ( c. v. 34 .) And the Evangelist using the same language as his Master, after saying, "to bear witness of that Light," adds,

"That all men through Him might believe." All but saying, Think not that the reason why John the Baptist came to bear witness, was that he might add aught to the trustworthiness of his Master. No; (He came,) that by his means beings of his own class [153] might believe. For it is clear from what follows, that he used this expression in his anxiety to remove this suspicion beforehand, since he adds,

Ver. 8 . "He was not that Light."

Now if he did not introduce this as setting himself against this suspicion, then the expression is absolutely superfluous, and tautology rather than elucidation of his teaching. For why, after having said that he "was sent to bear witness of that Light," does he again say, "He was not that Light"? (He says it,) not loosely or without reason; but, because, for the most part, among ourselves, the person witnessing is held to be greater, and generally more trustworthy than the person witnessed of; therefore, that none might suspect this in the case of John, at once from the very beginning he removes this evil suspicion, and having torn it up by the roots, shows who this is that bears witness, and who is He who is witnessed of, and what an interval there is between the witnessed of, and the bearer of witness. And after having done this, and shown His incomparable superiority, he afterwards proceeds fearlessly to the narrative which remains; and after carefully removing whatever strange (ideas) might secretly harbor [154] in the minds of the simpler sort, so instills into all [155] easily and without impediment the word of doctrine in its proper order.

Let us pray then, that henceforth with the revelation of these thoughts and rightness of doctrine, we may have also a pure life and bright conversation, [156] since these things profit nothing unless good works be present with us. For though we have all faith and all knowledge of the Scriptures, yet if we be naked and destitute of the protection derived from (holy) living, there is nothing to hinder us from being hurried into the fire of hell, and burning for ever in the unquenchable flame. For as they who have done good shall rise to life everlasting, so they who have dared the contrary shall rise to everlasting punishment, which never has an end. Let us then manifest all eagerness not to mar the gain which accrues to us from a right faith by the vileness of our actions, but becoming well-pleasing to Him by these also, boldly to look on Christ. No happiness can be equal to this. And may it come to pass, that we all having obtained [157] what has been mentioned, may do all to the glory of God; to whom, with the Only-Begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


[137] ta katepeigonta . [138] al. proegoreutai , "is foretold." [139] Vid. supra, Hom. iv. 3. [140] a parallaxia vid. supra, Hom. iii. 4 ad fin. [141] i.e. to Theou . [142] i lingion , "dizzy." [143] [ kai pros auton ], perhaps "and with reference to him (the Baptist), Sav. al. kai pros se . [144] peripiptein . [145] autou hen marturei peri emou G. T. [146] di humas (not in G. T.) [147] gnesios , "genuine." [148] ton pollon . [149] eukolotera . [150] e phanise . [151] Lit. "unapproachable encounter of that light." [152] e pragmateusato . [153] ho mophuloi . [154] hu phormoun . [155] al. "goes on and instills." [156] politeia . [157] al. "living worthily of."

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