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.

Homily VII.

John i. 9

"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."

[1.] The reason, O children greatly beloved, why we entertain you portion by portion with the thoughts taken from the Scriptures, and do not at once pour all forth to you, is, that the retaining what is successively set before you may be easy. For even in building, one who before the first stones are settled lays on others, constructs [158] a rotten wall altogether, and easily thrown down: while one who waits that the mortar may first get hard, and so adds what remains little by little, finishes the whole house firmly, and makes it strong, not one to last for a short time, or easily to fall to pieces. These builders we imitate, [159] and in like manner build up your souls. For we fear lest, while the first foundation is but newly laid, the addition of the succeeding speculations [160] may do harm to the former, through the insufficiency of the intellect to contain them all at once.

What now is it that has been read to us today?

"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." For since above in speaking of John he said, that he came "to bear witness of that Light"; and that he was sent in these our days; [161] lest any one at hearing this should, on account of the recent coming of the witness, conceive some like suspicion concerning Him, who is witnessed of, he has carried up the imagination, and transported it to that existence which is before all beginning, which has neither end nor commencement.

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"And how is it possible," says one, "that being a Son, He should possess this (nature)?" We are speaking of God, and do you ask how? And do you not fear nor shudder? Yet should any one ask you, "How should our souls and bodies have endless life in the world to come? [162] " you will laugh at the question, on the ground that it does not belong to the intellect of man to search into such questions, but that he ought only to believe, and not to be over-curious on the subject mentioned, since he has a sufficient proof of the saying, in the power of Him who spake it. And if we say, that He, who created our souls and bodies, and who incomparably excels all created things, is without beginning, will you require us to say "How?" Who could assert this to be the act of a well-ordered soul, or of sound reason? you have heard that "That was the true Light": why are you vainly and rashly striving to overshoot [163] by force of reasoning this Life which is unlimited? You cannot do it. Why seek what may not be sought? Why be curious about what is incomprehensible? Why search what is unsearchable? Gaze upon the very source of the sunbeams. You cannot; yet you are neither vexed nor impatient at your weakness; how then have you become so daring and headlong in greater matters? The son of thunder, John who sounds [164] the spiritual trumpet, when he had heard from the Spirit the was , enquired no farther. And are you, who share not in his grace, but speak from your own wretched reasonings, ambitious to exceed the measure of his knowledge? Then for this very reason you will never be able even to reach to the measure of his knowledge. For this is the craft of the devil: he leads away those who obey him from the limits assigned by God, as though to things much greater: but when, having enticed us by these hopes, he has cast us out of the grace of God, he not only gives nothing more, (how can he, devil as he is?) but does not even allow us to return again to our former situation, where we dwelt safely and surely, but leads us about in all directions wandering and not having any standing ground. So he caused the first created man to be banished from the abode of Paradise. Having puffed him up with the expectation of greater knowledge and honor, he expelled him from what he already possessed in security. For he not only did not become like a god as (the devil) promised him, but even fell beneath the dominion of death; having not only gained no further advantage by eating of the tree, but having lost no small portion of the knowledge which he possessed, through hope of greater knowledge. For the sense of shame, and the desire to hide himself because of his nakedness, then came upon him, who before the cheat was superior to all such shame; and this very seeing himself to be naked, and the need for the future of the covering of garments, and many other infirmities, [165] became thenceforth natural to him. That this be not our case, let us obey God, continue in His commandments, and not be busy about anything beyond them, that we may not be cast out from the good things already given us. Thus they have fared (of whom we speak). For seeking to find a beginning of the Life which has no beginning, they lost what they might have retained. They found not what they sought, (this is impossible,) and they fell away from the true faith concerning the Only-Begotten.

Let us not then remove the eternal bounds which our fathers set, but let us ever yield to the laws of the Spirit; and when we hear that "That was the true Light," let us seek to discover nothing more. For it is not possible to pass beyond this saying. Had His generation been like that of a man, needs must there have been an interval between the begetter and the begotten; but since it is in a manner ineffable and becoming God, give up the "before" and the "after," for these are the names of points in time, but the Son is the Creator even of all ages. [166]

[2.] "Then," says one, "He is not Father, but brother." What need, pray? If we had asserted that the Father and the Son were from a different root, you might have then spoken this well. But, if we flee this impiety, and say the Father, besides being without beginning, is Unbegotten also, while the Son, though without beginning, is Begotten of the Father, what kind of need that as a consequence of this idea, that unholy assertion should be introduced? None at all. For He is an Effulgence: but an effulgence is included in the idea of the nature whose effulgence it is. For this reason Paul has called Him so, that you may imagine no interval between the Father and the Son. ( Heb. i. 3 .) This expression [167] therefore is declaratory of the point; but the following part of the proof quoted, corrects an erroneous opinion which might beset simple men. For, says the Apostle, do not, because you have heard that he is an Effulgence, suppose that He is deprived of His proper person; this is impious, and belongs to the madness of the Sabellians, and of Marcellus' followers. We say not so, but that He is also in His proper Person. And for this reason, after having called Him "Effulgence," Paul has added that He is "the express image of His Person" ( Heb. i. 3 .), in order to make evident His proper Personality, and that He belongs to the same Essence of which He is also the express image. For, as I before [168] said, it is not sufficient by a single expression to set before men the doctrines concerning God, but it is desirable that we bring many together, and choose from each what is suitable. So shall we be able to attain to a worthy telling of His glory, worthy, I mean, as regards our power; for if any should deem himself able to speak words suitable to His essential worthiness, and be ambitious to do so, saying, that he knows God as God knows Himself, he it is who is most ignorant of God.

Knowing therefore this, let us continue steadfastly to hold what "they have delivered unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word." ( Luke i. 2 .) And let us not be curious beyond: for two evils will attend those who are sick of this disease, (curiosity,) the wearying themselves in vain by seeking what it is impossible to find, and the provoking God by their endeavors to overturn the bounds set by Him. Now what anger this excites, it needs not that you who know should learn from us. Abstaining therefore from their madness, let us tremble at His words, that He may continually build us up. For, "upon whom shall I look" ( Isa. lxvi. 2 , LXX.), saith He, "but upon the lowly, and quiet, and who feareth my words?" Let us then leave this pernicious curiosity, and bruise our hearts, let us mourn for our sins as Christ commanded, let us be pricked at heart [169] for our transgressions, let us reckon up exactly all the wicked deeds, which in time past we have dared, and let us earnestly strive to wipe them off in all kinds of ways.

Now to this end God hath opened to us many ways. For, "Tell thou first," saith He, "thy sins, that thou mayest be justified" ( Isa. xliii. 26 [170] ); and again, "I said, I have declared mine iniquity unto Thee, and Thou hast taken [171] away the unrighteousness of my heart" ( Ps. xxxii. 5 , LXX.); since a continual accusation and remembrance of sins contributes not a little to lessen their magnitude. But there is another more prevailing way than this; to bear malice against none of those who have offended against us, to forgive their trespasses to all those who have trespassed against us. Will you learn a third? Hear Daniel, saying, "Redeem thy sins by almsdeeds, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor." ( Dan. iv. 27 , LXX.) And there is another besides this; constancy in prayer, and persevering attendance on the intercessions [172] made with God. In like manner fasting brings to us some, and that not small comfort and release from sins committed, [173] provided it be attended with kindness to others, and quenches the vehemence of the wrath of God. ( 1 Tim. ii. 1 .) For "water will quench a blazing fire, and by almsdeeds sins are purged away." ( Ecclus. iii. 30 , LXX.)

Let us then travel along all these ways; for if we give ourselves wholly to these employments, if on them we spend our time, not only shall we wash off our bygone transgressions, but shall gain very great profit for the future. For we shall not allow the devil to assault us with leisure either for slothful living, or for pernicious curiosity, since by these among other means, and in consequence of these, he leads us to foolish questions and hurtful disputations, from seeing us at leisure, and idle, and taking no forethought for excellency of living. But let us block up this approach against him, let us watch, let us be sober, that having in this short time toiled a little, we may obtain eternal goods in endless ages, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[158] hu phainei . [159] al. "let us imitate." [160] theorematon . [161] nun . [162] meta tauta [163] hu perakontisai . [164] al. "holds." [165] pathe . [166] aionon . [167] a paugasma . [168] Hom. ii. 4. [169] katanugomen . [170] Slightly varied from LXX. [171] al. "forgiven." [172] e nteuxesin . [173] lusin ton hemartemenon .


Homily VIII.

John i. 9

"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."

[1.] Nothing hinders us from handling to-day also the same words, since before we were prevented by the setting forth of doctrines, from considering all that was read. Where now are those who deny that He is true God? for here He is called "the true Light" ( c. xiv. 6 ), and elsewhere very "Truth" and very "Life." That saying we will discuss more clearly when we come to the place; but at present we must for a while be speaking to your Charity of that other matter.

If He "lighteth every man that cometh into the world," how is it that so many continue unenlightened? for not all have known the majesty of Christ. How then doth He "light every man"? He lighteth all as far as in Him lies. But if some, wilfully closing the eyes of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their darkness arises not from the nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who willfully deprive themselves of the gift. For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back neither from Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor female, nor old, nor young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard. And those who are not willing to enjoy this gift, ought in justice to impute their blindness to themselves; for if when the gate is opened to all, and there is none to hinder, any being willfully evil [174] remain without, they perish through none other, but only through their own wickedness.

Ver. 10 . "He was in the world."

But not as of equal duration with the world. Away with the thought. Wherefore he adds, "And the world was made by Him"; thus leading thee up again to the eternal [175] existence of the Only-Begotten. For he who has heard that this universe is His work, though he be very dull, though he be a hater, though he be an enemy of the glory of God, will certainly, willing or unwilling, be forced to confess that the maker is before his works. Whence wonder always comes over me at the madness of Paul of Samosata, who dared to look in the face so manifest a truth, and voluntarily threw himself down the preci pice. [176] For he erred not ignorantly but with full knowledge, being in the same case as the Jews. For as they, looking to men, gave up sound faith, knowing that he was the only-begotten Son of God, but not confessing Him, because of their rulers, lest they should be cast out of the synagogue; so it is said that he, to gratify a certain woman, [177] sold his own salvation. A powerful thing, powerful indeed, is the tyranny of vainglory; it is able to make blind the eyes even of the wise, except they be sober; for if the taking of gifts can effect this, much more will the yet more violent feeling of this passion. Wherefore Jesus said to the Jews, "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" ( c. v. 44 .)

"And the world knew Him not." By "the world" he here means the multitude, which is corrupt, and closely attached [178] to earthly things, the common [179] turbulent, silly people. For the friends and favorites [180] of God all knew Him, even before His coming in the flesh. Concerning the Patriarch Christ Himself speaks by name, "that your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad." ( c. viii. 56 .) And concerning David, confuting the Jews He said, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand." ( Matt. xxii. 43; Mark xii. 36; Luke xx. 42 .) And in many places, disputing with them, He mentions Moses; and the Apostle (mentions) the rest of the prophets; for Peter declares, that all the prophets from Samuel knew Him, and proclaimed beforehand His coming afar off, when he says, "All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." ( Acts iii. 24 .) But Jacob and his father, as well as his grandfather, He both appeared to and talked with, and promised that He would give them many and great blessings, which also He brought to pass.

"How then," says one, "did He say Himself, `Many prophets have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them'? ( Luke x. 24 .) Did they then not share in the knowledge of Him?" Surely they did; and I will endeavor to make this plain from this very saying, by which some think that they are deprived of it. "For many," He saith, "have desired to see the things which ye see." So that they knew that He would come [to men] from heaven, and would live and teach [181] as He lived and taught; for had they not known, they could have not desired, since no one can conceive desire for things of which he has no idea; therefore they knew the Son of Man, and that He would come among men. What then are the things which they did not hear? What those which they did not know? The things which ye now see and hear. For if they did hear His voice and did see Him, it was not in the Flesh, not among men; nor when He was living so familiarly, and conversing so frankly with them. [182] And indeed He to show this said not simply, "to see" "Me": but what? "the things which ye see"; nor "to hear" "Me": but what? "the things which ye hear." [183] So that if they did not behold His coming in the Flesh, still they knew that it would be, and they desired it, and believed on Him without having seen Him in the Flesh.

When therefore the Greeks bring charges such as these against us, and say; "What then did Christ in former time, that He did not look upon the race of men? And for what possible reason did He come at last to assist in our salvation, after neglecting us so long?" we will reply, that before this He was in the world, and took thought for His works, and was known to all who were worthy. But if ye should say, that, because all did not then know Him, because He was only known by those noble and excellent persons, therefore He was not acknowledged; at this rate you will not allow that He is worshiped even now, since even now all men do not know Him. But as at present no one, because of those who do not know Him, would refuse credit to those who do, so as regards former times, we must not doubt that He was known to many, or rather to all of those noble and admirable persons.

[2.] And if any one say, "Why did not all men give heed to Him? nor all worship Him, but the just only?" I also will ask, why even now do not all men know him? But why do I speak of Christ, when not all men knew His Father then, or know Him now? For some say, that all things are borne along by chance, while others commit the providence of the universe to devils. Others invent another God besides Him, and some blasphemously assert, that His is an opposing power, [184] and think that His laws are the laws of a wicked dæmon. What then? Shall we say that He is not God because there are some who say so? And shall we confess Him to be evil? for there are some who even so blaspheme Him. Away with such mental wandering, such utter insanity. If we should delineate [185] doctrines according to the judgment of madmen, there is nothing to hinder us from being mad ourselves with most grievous madness. No one will assert, looking to those who have weak vision, that the sun is injurious to the eyes, but he will say that it is fitted to give light, drawing his judgments from persons in health. And no one will call honey bitter, because it seems so to the sense of the sick. And will any, from the imaginations of men diseased (in mind) decide that God either is not, or is evil; or that He sometimes indeed exerts His Providence, sometimes doth not so at all? Who can say that such men are of sound mind, or deny that they are beside themselves, delirious, utterly mad?

"The world," he says, "knew Him not"; but they of whom the world was not worthy knew Him. And having spoken of those who knew Him not, he in a short time puts the cause of their ignorance; for he does not absolutely say, that no one knew Him, but that "the world knew him not"; that is, those persons who are as it were nailed to the world alone, and who mind the things of the world. For so Christ was wont to call them; as when He says, "O Holy [186] Father, the world hath not known Thee." ( c. xvii. 25 .) The world then was ignorant, not only of Him, but also of His Father, as we have said; for nothing so darkens [187] the mind as to be closely attached [188] to present things.

Knowing therefore this, remove yourselves from the world, and tear yourselves as much as possible from carnal things, for the loss which comes to you from these lies not in common matters, but in what is the chief of goods. For it is not possible for the man who clings strongly to the things of the present life really [189] to lay hold on those in heaven, but he who is earnest about the one must needs lose the other. "Ye cannot," He says, "serve God and Mammon" ( Matt. vi. 24 ), for you must hold to the one and hate the other. And this too the very experience of the things proclaims aloud. Those, for instance, who deride the lust of money, are especially the persons who love God as they ought, just as those who respect that sovereignty (of Mammon), are the men who above all others have the slackest [190] love for Him. For the soul when made captive once for all [191] by covetousness, will not easily or readily refuse doing or saying any of the things which anger God, as being the slave of another master, and one who gives all his commands in direct opposition to God. Return then at length to your sober senses, and rouse yourselves, and calling to mind whose servants we are, let us love His kingdom only; let us weep, let us wail for the times past in which we were servants of Mammon; let us cast off once for all his yoke so intolerable, so heavy, and continue to bear the light and easy yoke of Christ. For He lays no such commands upon us as Mammon does. Mammon bids us be enemies to all men, but Christ, on the contrary, to embrace and to love all. The one having nailed us [192] to the clay and the brickmaking, (for gold is this,) allows us not even at night to take breath a little; the other releases us from this excessive and insensate care, and bids us gather treasures in heaven, not by injustice towards others, but by our own righteousness. The one after our many toils and sufferings is not able to assist us when we are punished in that place [193] and suffer because of his laws, nay, he increases the flame; the other, though He command us to give but a cup of cold water, never allows us to lose our reward and recompense even for this, but repays us with great abundance. How then is it not extremest folly to slight a rule so mild, so full of all good things, and to serve a thankless, ungrateful tyrant, and one who neither in this world nor in the world to come is able to help those who obey and give heed to him. Nor is this the only dreadful thing, nor is this only the penalty, that he does not defend them when they are being punished; but that besides this, he, as I before said, surrounds those who obey him with ten thousand evils. For of those who are punished in that place, one may see that the greater part are punished for this cause, that they were slaves to money, that they loved gold, and would not assist those who needed. That we be not in this case, let us scatter, let us give to the poor, let us deliver our souls from hurtful cares in this world, and from the vengeance, which because of these things is appointed for us in that place. Let us store up righteousness in the heavens. Instead of riches upon earth, let us collect treasures impregnable, treasures which can accompany us on our journey to heaven, which can assist us in our peril, and make the Judge propitious at that hour. Whom may we all have gracious unto us, both now and at that day, and enjoy with much confidence [194] the good things prepared in the heavens for those who love Him as they ought, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[174] e thelokakountes . [175] proaionion . [176] Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch, denied the Personality of our Lord before His Birth of the Virgin Mary. His opinions were condemned, and himself deposed, at the second Council of Antioch, A.D. 270. [177] Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who supported Paul against the Catholics after his deposition. [178] prostetekos , "melted to." [179] chudaion . [180] thaumastoi . [181] oikonomesonta , lit. "would dispense as He did dispense." [182] met adeias . [183] al. "for they had both heard His voice, and seen Him, but not in the flesh." [184] i.e. that the power which maintains the universe is a power opposed to the True God. The Gnostics accounted for the existence of evil, by supposing an evil Principle, to which they attributed the creation and support of the material world. The opinions here spoken of were maintained by Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, Manes, and other supporters of that heresy. [185] charakterizein . [186] ;'Agis (dikais G. T.). [187] tholoi from tholos , "the ink of the cuttle fish." [188] prostetekenai . [189] gnesios , perhaps "as befits a rightful heir." [190] al. a mbluteran , "duller." [191] kathapax . [192] proselosas . [193] e kei . [194] Or "with much openness," i.e. before angels and men.


Homily IX.

John i. 11

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

[1.] If ye remember our former reflections, we shall the more zealously proceed with the building up [195] of what remains, as doing so for great gain. For so will our discourse be more intelligible to you who remember what has been already said, and we shall not need much labor, because you are able through your great love of learning to see more clearly into what remains. The man who is always losing what is given to him will always need a teacher, and will never know anything; but he who retains what he has received, and so receives in addition what remains, will quickly be a teacher instead of a learner, and useful not only to himself, but to all others also; as, conjecturing from their great readiness to hear, I anticipate that this assembly will specially be. Come then, let us lay up in your souls, as in a safe treasury, the Lord's money, and unfold, as far as the grace of the Spirit may afford us power, the words this day set before us.

He (St. John) had said, speaking of the old times, that "the world knew him not" ( ver. 10 ); afterwards he comes down in his narrative to the times of the proclamation (of the Gospel), and says, "He came to His own, and His own received Him not," now calling the Jews "His own," as His peculiar people, or perhaps even all mankind, as created by Him. And as above, when perplexed at the folly of the many, and ashamed of our common nature, he said that "the world by Him was made," and having been made, did not recognize its Maker; so here again, being troubled beyond bearing [196] at the stupidity of the Jews and the many, he sets forth the charge in a yet more striking manner, saying, that "His own received Him not," and that too when "He came to them." And not only he, but the prophets also, wondering, said the very same, as did afterwards Paul, amazed at the very same things. Thus did the prophets cry aloud in the person of Christ, saying, "A people whom I have not known, have served Me; as soon as they heard Me, they obeyed Me; the strange children have dealt falsely with Me. [197] The strange children have waxed aged, and have halted from their paths." ( Ps. xviii. 43-45 , LXX.) And again, "They to whom it had not been told concerning Him, shall see, and they which had not heard, shall understand." And, "I was found of them that sought Me not" ( Isa. lii. 15 ); "I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me." ( Isa. xlv. 1, as quoted Rom. x. 20 .) And Paul, in his Epistles to the Romans, has said, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for: but the election hath obtained it." ( Rom. xi. 7 .) And again; "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness: but Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." ( Rom. ix. 30 .)

For it is a thing indeed worthy of our amazement, how they who were nurtured in (knowledge of) the prophetical books, who heard Moses every day telling them ten thousand things concerning the coming of the Christ, and the other prophets afterwards, who moreover themselves beheld Christ Himself daily working miracles among them, giving up His time [198] to them alone, neither as yet allowing His disciples to depart into the way of the Gentiles, or to enter into a city of Samaritans, nor doing so Himself, but everywhere [199] declaring that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ( Matt. x. 5 ): how, (I say), while they saw the signs, and heard the Prophets, and had Christ Himself continually putting them in remembrance, they yet made themselves once for all so blind and dull, as by none of these things to be brought to faith in Christ. ( Matt. xv. 24 .) While they of the Gentiles, who had enjoyed none of these things, who had never heard the oracles of God, not, as one may say, so much as in a dream, but ever ranging among the fables of madmen, (for heathen philosophy is this,) having ever in their hands [200] the sillinesses of their poets, nailed to stocks and stones, and neither in doctrines nor in conversation [201] possessing anything good or sound. (For their way of life was more impure and more accursed than their doctrine. As was likely; for when they saw their gods delighting in all wickedness, worshiped by shameful words, and more shameful deeds, reckoning this festivity and praise, and moreover honored by foul murders, and child-slaughters, how should not they emulate these things?) Still, fallen as they were as low as the very depth of wickedness, on a sudden, as by the agency of some machine, they have appeared to us shining from on high, and from the very summit of heaven.

How then and whence came it to pass? Hear Paul telling you. For that blessed person searching exactly into these things, ceased not until he had found the cause, and had declared it to all others. What then is it? and whence came such blindness upon the Jews? Hear him who was entrusted with this stewardship declare. What then does he say in resolving this doubt of the many? ( 1 Cor. ix. 17 .) "For they," says he, "being ignorant of God's righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." ( Rom. x. 3 .) Wherefore they have suffered this. And again, explaining the same matter in other terms, he says, "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone." ( Rom. ix. 30, 32 .) His meaning is this: "These men's unbelief has been the cause of their misfortunes, and their haughtiness was parent of their unbelief." For when having before enjoyed greater privileges than the heathen, [202] through having received the law, through knowing God, and the rest which Paul enumerates, they after the coming of Christ saw the heathen and themselves called on equal terms through faith, and after faith received one of the circumcision in nothing preferred to the Gentile, they came to envy and were stung by their haughtiness, and could not endure the unspeakable and exceeding lovingkindness of the Lord. So this has happened to them from nothing else but pride, and wickedness, and unkindness.

[2.] For in what, O most foolish of men, are ye injured by the care [203] bestowed on others? How are your blessings made less through having others to share the same? But of a truth wickedness is blind, and cannot readily perceive anything that it ought. Being therefore stung by the prospect of having others to share the same confidence, [204] they thrust a sword against themselves, and cast themselves out from the lovingkindness of God. And with good reason. For He saith, "Friend, I do thee no wrong, I will give to `these also' even as unto thee." ( Matt. xx. 14 .) Or rather, these Jews are not deserving even of these words. For the man in the parable if he was discontented, could yet speak of the labors and weariness, the heat and sweat, of a whole day. But what could these men have to tell? nothing like this, but slothfulness and profligacy and ten thousand evil things of which all the prophets continued ever to accuse them, and by which they like the Gentiles had offended against God. And Paul declaring this says, "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: being justified freely by His grace." ( Rom. x. 12; Rom. iii. 22-24 .) And on this head he treats profitably and very wisely throughout that Epistle. But in a former part of it he proves that they are worthy of still greater punishment. "For as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" ( Rom. ii. 12 ); that is to say, more severely, as having for their accuser the law as well as nature. And not for this only, but for that they have been the cause that God is blasphemed among the Gentiles: "My [205] Name," He saith, "is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you." ( Rom. ii. 24; Isa. lii. 5 .)

Since now this it was that stung them most, (for the thing appeared incredible even to those of the circumcision who believed, and therefore they brought it as a charge against Peter, when he was come up to them from Cesarea, that he "went in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them" ( Acts xi. 3 ); and after that they had learned the dispensation of God, even so still [206] they wondered how "on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost" ( Acts x. 45 ): showing by their astonishment that they could never have expected so incredible a thing,) since then he knew that this touched them nearest, see how he has emptied [207] their pride and relaxed [208] their highly swelling insolence. For after having discoursed on the case of the heathen, [209] and shown that they had not from any quarter any excuse, or hope of salvation, and after having definitely charged them both with the perversion [210] of their doctrines and the uncleanness of their lives, he shifts his argument to the Jews; and [211] after recounting all the expressions of the Prophet, in which he had said that they were polluted, treacherous, hypocritical persons, and had "altogether become unprofitable," that there was "none" among them "that seeketh after God," that they had "all gone out of the way" ( Rom. iii. 12 ), and the like, he adds, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." ( Rom. iii. 19 .) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." ( Rom. iii. 23 .)

Why then exaltest thou thyself, O Jew? why art thou high minded? for thy mouth also is stopped, thy boldness also is taken away, thou also with all the world art become guilty, and, like others, art placed in need of being justified freely. Thou oughtest surely even if thou hadst stood upright and hadst had great boldness with God, not even so to have envied those who should be pitied and saved through His lovingkindness. This is the extreme of wickedness, to pine at the blessings of others; especially when this was to be effected without any loss of thine. If indeed the salvation of others had been prejudicial to thy advantages, thy grieving might have been reasonable; though not even then would it have been so to one who had learned true wisdom. [212] But if thy reward is not increased by the punishment of another, nor diminished by his welfare, why dost thou bewail thyself because that other is freely saved? As I said, thou oughtest not, even wert thou (one) of the approved, to be pained at the salvation which cometh to the Gentiles through grace. But when thou, who art guilty before thy Lord of the same things as they, and hast thyself offended, art displeased at the good of others, and thinkest great things, as if thou alone oughtest to be partaker of the grace, thou art guilty not only of envy and insolence, but of extreme folly, and mayest be liable to all the severest torments; for thou hast planted within thyself the root of all evils, pride.

Wherefore a wise man has said, "Pride is the beginning of sin" ( Ecclus. x. 13 ): that is, its root, its source, its mother. By this the first created was banished from that happy abode: by this the devil who deceived him had fallen from that height of dignity; from which that accursed one, knowing that the nature of the sin was sufficient to cast down even from heaven itself, came this way when he labored to bring down Adam from such high honor. For having puffed him up with the promise that he should be as a God, so he broke him down, and cast him down into the very gulfs of hell. [213] Because nothing so alienates men from the lovingkindness of God, and gives them over to the fire of the pit, [214] as the tyranny of pride. For when this is present with us, our whole life becomes impure, even though we fulfill temperance, chastity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, anything. For, "Every one," saith the wise man, "that is proud in heart is an abomination [215] to the Lord." ( Prov. xvi. 5 .) Let us then restrain this swelling of the soul, let us cut up by the roots this lump of pride, if at least we would wish to be clean, and to escape the punishment appointed for the devil. For that the proud must fall under the same punishment as that (wicked) one, hear Paul declare; "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the judgment, and the snare of the devil." [216] What is "the judgment"? [217] He means, into the same "condemnation," the same punishment. How then does he say, that a man may avoid this dreadful thing? By reflecting upon [218] his own nature, upon the number of his sins, upon the greatness of the torments in that place, upon the transitory nature of the things which seem bright in this world, differing in nothing from grass, and more fading than the flowers of spring. If we continually stir within ourselves these considerations, and keep in mind those who have walked most upright, the devil, though he strive ten thousand ways, will not be able to lift [219] us up, nor even to trip [220] us at all. May the God who is the God of the humble, the good and merciful God, grant both to you and me a broken and humbled heart, so shall we be enabled easily to order the rest aright, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[195] al. "the dispensing." [196] dusanascheton [197] "lied unto me." LXX. [198] al. "conversing with." [199] a no kai kato [200] a nelittontes , "unrolling." [201] politeias . [202] Ellenon . [203] kedemonias . [204] parrhesias . [205] tou Theou G. T. [206] al. "again." [207] al. "he does all things that he may empty." [208] al. "may relax." [209] ton Ellenikon . [210] diastrophe . [211] al. "then." [212] philosophein . [213] ha dou . [214] geennes . [215] "Unclean," LXX. [216] 1 Tim. iii. 6, 7 (partially quoted). [217] krima , "condemnation," E.V. [218] al. "calculating." [219] e parai . [220] hu poskelisai (a gymnastic term like the preceding).


Homily X.

John i. 11

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

[1.] Beloved , God being loving towards man and beneficent, does and contrives all things in order that we may shine in virtue, and as desiring that we be well approved by Him. And to this end He draws no one by force or compulsion: but by persuasion and benefits He draws all that will, and wins them to Himself. Wherefore when He came, some received Him, and others received Him not. For He will have no unwilling, no forced domestic, but all of their own will and choice, and grateful to Him for their service. Men, as needing the ministry of servants, keep many in that state even against their will, by the law of ownership; [221] but God, being without wants, and not standing in need of anything of ours, but doing all only for our salvation makes us absolute [222] in this matter, and therefore lays neither force nor compulsion on any of those who are unwilling. For He looks only to our advantage: and to be drawn unwilling to a service like this is the same as not serving at all.

"Why then," says one, "does He punish those who will not listen [223] to Him, and why hath He threatened hell to those who endure [224] not His commands?" Because, being Good exceedingly, He cares even for those who obey Him not, and withdraws not from them who start back and flee from Him. But when we [225] had rejected the first way of His beneficence, and had refused to come by the path of persuasion and kind treatment, then He brought in upon us the other way, that of correction and punishments; most bitter indeed, but still necessary, when the former is disregarded. [226] Now lawgivers also appoint many and grievous penalties against offenders, and yet we feel no aversion to them for this; we even honor them the more on account of the punishments they have enacted, and because though not needing a single thing that we have, and often not knowing who they should be that should enjoy the help afforded by their written laws, [227] they still took care for the good ordering of our lives, rewarding those who live virtuously, and checking by punishments the intemperate, and those [228] who would mar the repose [229] of others. And if we admire and love these men, ought we not much more to marvel at and love God on account of His so great care? For the difference between their and His forethought regarding us is infinite. Unspeakable of a truth are the riches of the goodness of God, and passing all excess. [230] Consider; "He came to His own," not for His personal need, (for, as I said, the Divinity is without wants,) but to do good unto His own people. Yet not even so did His own receive Him, when He came to His own for their advantage, but repelled Him, and not this only, but they even cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him. Yet not for this even did He shut them out from repentance, but granted them, if they had been willing, after such wickedness as this, to wash off all their transgressions by faith in Him, and to be made equal to those who had done no such thing, but are His especial friends. And that I say not this at random, or for persuasion's sake, all the history of the blessed Paul loudly declares. For when he, who after the Cross persecuted Christ, and had stoned His martyr Stephen by those many hands, repented, and condemned his former sins, and ran to Him whom he had persecuted, He immediately enrolled him among His friends, and the chiefest of them, having appointed him a herald and teacher of all the world, who had been "a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious." ( 1 Tim. i. 13 .) Even as he rejoicing at the lovingkindness of God, has proclaimed aloud, and has not been ashamed, but having recorded in his writings, as on a pillar, the deeds formerly dared by him, has exhibited them to all; thinking it better that his former life should be placarded [231] in sight of all, so that the greatness of the free gift of God might appear, than that he should obscure His ineffable and indescribable lovingkindness by hesitating to parade [232] before all men his own error. Wherefore continually [233] he treats of his persecution, his plottings, his wars against the Church, at one time saying, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God" ( 1 Cor. xv. 9 ); at another, "Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." ( 1 Tim. i. 15 .) And again, "Ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it." ( Gal. i. 13 .)

[2.] For making as it were a kind of return to Christ for His longsuffering towards him, by showing who it was, what a hater and enemy that He saved, he declared with much openness the warfare which at the first with all zeal he warred against Christ; and with this he holds forth good hopes to those who despaired of their condition. For he says, that Christ accepted him, in order that in him first He "might show forth all longsuffering" ( 1 Tim. i. 16 ), and the abundant riches of His goodness, "for a pattern to them that should hereafter believe in Him to life everlasting." Because the things which they had dared were too great for any pardon which the Evangelist declaring, said,

"He came to His own, and His own received Him not." Whence came He, who filleth all things, and who is everywhere present? What place did He empty of His presence, who holdeth and graspeth all things in His hand? He exchanged not one place for another; how should He? But by His coming down to us He effected this. For since, though being in the world, He did not seem to be there, because He was not yet known, but afterwards manifested Himself by deigning to take upon Him our flesh, he (St. John) calls this manifestation and descent "a coming." [234] One might wonder at [235] the disciple who is not ashamed of the dishonor of his Teacher, but even records the insolence which was used towards Him: yet this is no small proof of his truth-loving disposition. And besides, he who feels shame should feel it for those who have offered an insult, not for the person outraged. [236] Indeed He by this very thing shone the brighter, as taking, even after the insult, so much care for those who had offered it; while they appeared ungrateful and accursed in the eyes of all men, for having rejected Him who came to bring them so great goods, as hateful to them, and an enemy. And not only in this were they hurt, but also in not obtaining what they obtained who received Him. What did these obtain?

Ver. 12 . "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God," says the Evangelist. "Why then, O blessed one, dost thou not also tell us the punishment of them who received Him not? Thou hast said that they were `His own,' and that when `He came to His own, they received Him not'; but what they shall suffer for this, what punishment they shall undergo, thou hast not gone on to add. Yet so thou wouldest the more have terrified them, and have softened the hardness of their insanity by threatening. Wherefore then hast thou been silent?" "And what other punishment," he would say, "can be greater than this, that when power is offered them to become sons of God, they do not become so, but willingly deprive themselves of such nobility and honor as this?" Although their punishment shall not even stop at this point, that they gain no good, but moreover the unquenchable fire shall receive them, as in going on he has more plainly revealed. But for the present he speaks of the unutterable goods of those who received Him, and sets these words in brief before us, [237] saying, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God." Whether bond or free, whether Greeks or barbarians or Scythians, unlearned or learned, female or male, children or old men, in honor or dishonor, rich or poor, rulers or private persons, all, He saith, are deemed worthy the same privilege; for faith and the grace of the Spirit, removing the inequality caused by worldly things, hath moulded all to one fashion, and stamped them with one impress, the King's. What can equal this lovingkindness? A king, who is framed of the same clay with us, does not deign to enrol among the royal host his fellow-servants, who share the same nature with himself, and in character often are better than he, if they chance to be slaves; but the Only-Begotten Son of God did not disdain to reckon among the company of His children both publicans, sorcerers, and slaves, nay, men of less repute and greater poverty than these, maimed in body, and suffering from ten thousand ills. Such is the power of faith in Him, such the excess of His grace. And as the element of fire, when it meets with ore from the mine, straightway of earth makes it gold, even so and much more Baptism makes those who are washed to be of gold instead of clay; the Spirit at that time falling like fire into our souls, burning up the "image of the earthy" ( 1 Cor. xv. 49 ), and producing "the image of the heavenly," fresh coined, bright and glittering, as from the furnace-mould.

Why then did he say not that "He made them sons of God," but that "He gave them power to become sons of God"? To show that we need much zeal to keep the image of sonship impressed on us at Baptism, all through without spot or soil [238] ; and at the same time to show that no one shall be able to take this power from us, unless we are the first to deprive ourselves of it. For if among men, those who have received the absolute control of any matters have well-nigh as much power as those who gave them the charge; much more shall we, who have obtained such honor from God, be, if we do noth ing unworthy of this power, stronger than all; because He who put this honor in our hands is greater and better than all. At the same time too he wishes to show, that not even does grace come upon man irrespectively, [239] but upon those who desire and take pains for it. For it lies in the power of these to become (His) children since if they do not themselves first make the choice, the gift does not come upon them, nor have any effect.

[3.] Having therefore everywhere excluded compulsion and pointing to (man's) voluntary choice and free power, he has said the same now. For even in these mystical blessings, [240] it is, on the one hand, God's part, to give the grace, on the other, man's to supply faith; and in after time there needs for what remains much earnestness. In order to preserve our purity, it is not sufficient for us merely to have been baptized and to have believed, but we must if we will continually enjoy this brightness, display a life worthy of it. This then is God's work in us. To have been born the mystical Birth, and to have been cleansed from all our former sins, comes from Baptism; but to remain for the future pure, never again after this to admit any stain belongs to our own power and diligence. And this is the reason why he reminds us of the manner of the birth, and by comparison with fleshly pangs shows its excellence, when he says,

Ver. 13 . "Who were born, not of blood, [241] nor of the will of the flesh, but of God." This he has done, in order that, considering the vileness, and lowness of the first birth, which is "of blood," and "the will of the flesh," and perceiving the highness and nobleness of the second, which is by grace, we may form from thence some great opinion of it, and one worthy of the gift of Him who hath begotten us, and for the future exhibit much earnestness.

For there is no small fear, lest, having sometime defiled that beautiful robe by our after sloth and transgressions, we be cast out from the inner room [242] and bridal chamber, like the five foolish virgins, or him who had not on a wedding garment. ( Matt. xxv.; Matt. xxii .) He too was one of the guests, for he had been invited; but because, after the invitation and so great an honor, he behaved with insolence towards Him who had invited him, hear what punishment he suffers, how pitiable, fit subject for many tears. For when he comes to partake of that splendid table, not only is he forbidden the least, but bound hand and foot alike, is carried into outer darkness, to undergo eternal and endless wailing and gnashing of teeth. Therefore, beloved, let not us either expect [243] that faith is sufficient to us for salvation; for if we do not show forth a pure life, but come clothed with garments unworthy of this blessed calling, nothing hinders us from suffering the same as that wretched one. It is strange that He, who is God and King, is not ashamed of men who are vile, beggars, and of no repute, but brings even them of the cross ways to that table; while we manifest so much insensibility, as not even to be made better by so great an honor, but even after the call remain in our old wickedness, insolently abusing [244] the unspeakable lovingkindness of Him who hath called us. For it was not for this that He called us to the spiritual and awful communion of His mysteries, that we should enter with our former wickedness; but that, putting off our filthiness, we should change our raiment to such as becomes those who are entertained in palaces. But if we will not act worthily of that calling this no longer rests with Him who hath honored us, but with ourselves; it is not He that casts us out from that admirable company of guests, but we cast out ourselves.

He has done all His part. He has made the marriage, He has provided the table, He has sent men to call us, has received us when we came, and honored us with all other honor; but we, when we have offered insult to Him, to the company, and to the wedding, by our filthy garments, that is, our impure actions, are then with good cause cast out. It is to honor the marriage and the guests, that He drives off those bold [245] and shameless persons; for were He to suffer those clothed in such a garment, He would seem to be offering insult to the rest. But may it never be that one, either of us or of other, find this of Him who has called us! For to this end have all these things been written before they come to pass, that we, being sobered by the threats of the Scriptures, may not suffer this disgrace and punishment to go on to the deed, but stop it at the word only, and each with bright apparel come to that call; which may it come to pass that we all enjoy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[221] despoteias , i.e. "the law of master and slave." [222] kurious . [223] al. "submit." [224] al. "hear." [225] al. "they." [226] al. "For, when the former way is disregarded, the introduction of the second is necessary." Ben. [227] "Writings," al. "trouble." [228] al. "as those." [229] al. "settled state." [230] al. "beyond all thought." [231] steliteuesthai . lit. "set on a pillar." al. stizesthai , "be branded." [232] e kpompeusai . [233] a no kai kato . [234] parousia , commonly so used in N.T. [235] al. "there is reason to wonder that." [236] paroinethentos , "insulted by men heated with wine." [237] al. "sets them in brief before us in these words." [238] a nepaphon . [239] a plos . [240] i.e. of Baptism. [241] Lit. "bloods." [242] pastados . [243] al. "think." [244] e mparoinountas . [245] i tamous .


Homily XI.

John i. 14

"And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us."

[1.] I desire to ask one favor of you all, before I touch on the words of the Gospel; do not you refuse my request, for I ask nothing heavy or burdensome, nor, if granted, will it be useful only to me who receive, but also to you who grant it, and perhaps far more so to you. What then is it that I require of you? That each of you take in hand that section of the Gospels which is to be read among you on the first day of the week, or even on the Sabbath, and before the day arrive, that he sit down at home and read it through, and often carefully consider its contents, and examine all its parts well, what [246] is clear, what obscure, [247] what seems to make for the adversaries, [248] but does not really so; and when you have tried, [249] in a word [250] every point, so go to hear it read. For from zeal like this will be no small gain both to you and to us. We shall not need much labor to render clear the meaning of what is said, because your minds will be already made familiar with the sense of the words, and you will become keener and more clear-sighted not for hearing only, nor for learning, but also for the teaching of others. Since, in the way that now most of those who come hither hear, compelled to take in the meaning of all at once, both the words, and the remarks we make upon them, they will not, though we should go on doing this for a whole year, reap any great gain. How can they, when they have leisure for what is said as a bywork, [251] and only in this place, and for this short time? If any lay the fault on business, and cares, and constant occupation in public and private matters, in the first place, this is no slight charge in itself, that they are surrounded with such a multitude of business, are so continually nailed to the things of this life, that they cannot find even a little leisure for what is more needful than all. Besides, that this is a mere pretext and excuse, their meetings with friends would prove against them, their loitering in the theaters, and the parties [252] they make to see horse races, at which they often spend whole days, yet never in that case does one of them complain of the pressure of business. For trifles then you can without making any excuses, always find abundant leisure; but when you ought to attend to the things of God, do these seem to you so utterly superfluous and mean, that you think you need not assign even a little leisure to them? How do men of such disposition deserve to breathe or to look upon this sun?

There is another most foolish excuse of these sluggards; that they have not the books in their possession. Now as to the rich, it is ludicrous that we should take our aim at [253] this excuse; but because I imagine that many of the poorer sort continually use it, I would gladly ask, if every one of them does not have all the instruments of the trade which he works at, full and complete, though infinite [254] poverty stand in his way? Is it not then a strange thing, in that case to throw no blame on poverty, but to use every means that there be no obstacle from any quarter, but, when we might gain such great advantage, to lament our want of leisure and our poverty?

Besides, even if any should be so poor, it is in their power, by means of the continual reading of the holy Scriptures which takes place here, to be ignorant of nothing contained in them. Or if this seems to you impossible, it seems so with reason; for many do not come with fervent zeal to hearken to what is said, but having done this one thing [255] for form's sake [256] on our account, [257] immediately return home. Or if any should stay, they are no better disposed than those who have retired, since they are only present here with us in body. But that we may not overload you with accusations, and spend all the time in finding fault, let us proceed to the words of the Gospel, for it is time to direct the remainder of our discourse to what is set before us. Rouse yourselves therefore, that nothing of what is said escape you.

"And the Word was made Flesh," he saith, "and dwelt among us."

Having declared that they who received Him were "born of God," and had become "sons of God," he adds the cause and reason of this unspeakable honor. It is that "the Word became Flesh," that the Master took on Him the form of a servant. For He became Son of man, who was God's own [258] Son, in order that He might make the sons of men to be children of God. For the high when it associates with the low touches not at all its own honor, while it raises up the other from its excessive lowness; and even thus it was with the Lord. He in nothing diminished His own Nature by this condescension, [259] but raised us, who had always sat in disgrace and darkness, to glory unspeakable. Thus it may be, a king, conversing with interest and kindness with a poor mean man, does not at all shame himself, yet makes the other observed by all and illustrious. Now if in the case of the adventitious dignity of men, intercourse with the humbler person in nothing injures the more honorable, much less can it do so in the case of that simple and blessed Essence which has nothing adventitious, or subject to growth or decay, but has [260] all good things immovable, and fixed for ever. So that when you hear that "the Word became Flesh," be not disturbed nor cast down. For that Essence did not change [261] to flesh, (it is impiety [262] to imagine this,) but continuing what it is, It so took upon It the form of a servant.

[2.] Wherefore then does he use the expression, "was made"? To stop the mouths of the heretics. For since there are some [263] who say that all the circumstances of the Dispensation were an appearance, a piece of acting, an allegory, at once to remove beforehand their blasphemy, he has put "was made"; desiring to show thereby not a change of substance, (away with the thought,) but the assumption of very flesh. For as when (Paul) says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," he does not mean that His essence removing from Its proper glory took upon It the being [264] of an accursed thing, (this not even devils could imagine, nor even the very foolish, nor those deprived of their natural understanding, such impiety as well as madness does it contain,) as (St. Paul) does not say this, but that He, taking upon Himself the curse pronounced against us, leaves us no more under the curse; so also here he (St. John) says that He "was made Flesh," not by changing His Essence to flesh, but by taking flesh to Himself, His Essence remained untouched.

If they say that being God, He is Omnipotent, so that He could lower Himself [265] to the substance of flesh, we will reply to them, that He is Omnipotent as long as He continues to be God. But if He admit of change, change for the worse, how could He be God? for change is far from that simple Nature. Wherefore the Prophet saith, "They all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt Thou roll them up, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." ( Ps. cii. 27 , LXX.) For that Essence is superior to all change. There is nothing better than He, to which He might advance and reach. Better do I say? No, nor equal to, nor the least approaching Him. It remains, therefore, that if He change, He must admit a change for the worse; and this would not be God. But let the blasphemy return upon the heads of those who utter it. Nay, to show that he uses the expression,'" was made" only that you should not suppose a mere appearance, hear from what follows how he clears the argument, and overthrows that wicked suggestion. For what does he add? "And dwelt among us." All but saying, "Imagine nothing improper from the word `was made'; I spoke not of any change of that unchangeable Nature, but of Its dwelling [266] and inhabiting. But that which dwells [267] cannot be the same with that in which it dwells, but different; one thing dwells in a different thing, otherwise it would not be dwelling; for nothing can inhabit itself. I mean, different as to essence; for by an Union [268] and Conjoining [269] God the Word and the Flesh are One, not by any confusion or obliteration of substances, but by a certain union ineffable, and past [270] understanding. Ask not how [271] ; for It was made , so as He knoweth."

What then was the tabernacle in which He dwelt? Hear the Prophet say; "I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen." ( Amos ix. 11 .) It was fallen indeed, our nature had fallen an incurable fall, and needed only that mighty Hand. There was no possibility of raising it again, had not He who fashioned it at first stretched forth to it His Hand, and stamped it anew with His Image, by the regeneration of water and the Spirit. And observe I pray you, the awful and ineffable nature [272] of the mystery. He inhabits this tabernacle for ever, for He clothed Himself with our flesh, not as again to leave it, but always to have it with Him. Had not this been the case, He would not have deemed it worthy of the royal throne, nor would He while wearing it have been worshiped by all the host of heaven, angels, archangels, thrones, principalities, dominions, powers. What word, what thought can represent such great honor done to our race, so truly marvelous and awful? What angel, what archangel? Not one in any place, whether in heaven, or upon earth. For such are the mighty works [273] of God, so great and marvelous are His benefits, that a right description of them exceeds not only the tongue of men, but even the power of angels.

Wherefore we will [274] for a while close our discourse, and be silent; only delivering to you this charge, [275] that you repay this our so great Benefactor by a return which again shall bring round to us all profit. The return is, that we look with all carefulness to the state of our souls. For this too is the work of His lovingkindness, that He who stands in no need of anything of ours says that He is repaid when we take care of our own souls. It is therefore an act of extremist folly, and one deserving ten thousand chastisements, if we, when such honor has been lavished upon us, will not even contribute what we can, and that too when profit comes round to us again by these means, and ten thousand blessings are laid before us on these conditions. For all these things let us return [276] glory to our merciful God, not by words only, but much more by works that we may obtain the good things hereafter, which may it be 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 for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[246] al. "let him mark what is clear, &c." [247] al. "very plain." [248] al. "to be contradictory." [249] diakodonisantes , "having tried by ringing." [250] ha plos . [251] e k parergou . [252] sunedria . [253] a poteinesthai . [254] muria . [255] i.e. having come to the assembly. [256] a phosiosamenoi . [257] al. "for the day." [258] gnesios . [259] al. "descent." [260] al. "possesses." [261] metepesen , "fall from what It was into." [262] al. "truly impious." [263] The Docetæ, who maintained that our Lord appeared only to act and suffer in the Flesh, and that His Body was a phantom. Perhaps they are the heretics specially alluded to by St. John, 1 Ep. iv. 2, and 2 Ep. 7 . [264] ousiothe . [265] metapesein . [266] Lit, "tabernacling." [267] Lit. "which tabernacles." [268] he nosei . [269] sunapheia . [270] a phrastou . [271] al. "seek not accurately." [272] al. "ineffable mystery." [273] katorthomata . [274] al. "let us." [275] parenguasantes . [276] a napempsomen .


Homily XII.

John i. 14

"And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

[1.] Perhaps we seemed to you the other day [277] needlessly hard upon you and burdensome, using too sharp language, and extending too far our reproaches against the sluggishness of the many. Now if we had done this merely from a desire to vex you, each of you would with cause have been angry; but if, looking to your advantage, we neglected in our speech what might gratify you, if ye will not give us credit for our forethought, you should at least pardon us on account of such tender love. [278] For in truth we greatly fear, lest, if we are taking pains, [279] and you are not willing to manifest the same diligence in listening your future reckoning may be the more severe. Wherefore we are compelled continually to arouse and waken you, that nothing of what is said may escape [280] you. For so you will be enabled to live for the present with much confidence, and to exhibit it at that Day before the judgment-seat of Christ. Since then we have lately sufficiently touched you, let us to-day at the outset enter on the expressions themselves.

"We beheld," he says, "His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father."

Having declared that we were made "sons of God," and having shown in what manner, [281] namely, by the "Word" having been "made Flesh," he again mentions another advantage which we gain from this same circumstance. What is it? "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father"; which we could not have beheld, had it not been shown to us, by means of a body like to our own. [282] For if the men of old time could not even bear to look upon the glorified countenance of Moses, who partook of the same nature with us, if that just man needed a veil which might shade over the purity [283] of his glory, and show to them the face of their prophet mild and gentle; [284] how could we creatures of clay and earth have endured the unveiled Godhead, which is unapproachable even by the powers above? Wherefore He tabernacled [285] among us, that we might be able with much fearlessness to approach Him, speak to, and converse with Him.

But what means "the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father"? Since many of the Prophets too were glorified, as this Moses himself, Elijah, and Elisha, the one encircled by the fiery chariot ( 2 Kings vi. 17 ), the other taken up by it; and after them, Daniel and the Three Children, and the many others who showed forth wonders [286] ; and angels who have appeared among men, and partly disclosed [287] to beholders the flashing light of their proper nature; and since not angels only, but even the Cherubim were seen by the Prophet in great glory, and the Seraphim also: the Evangelist leading us away from all these, and removing our thoughts from created things, and from the brightness of our fellow-servants, sets us at the very summit of good. For, "not of prophet," says [288] he, "nor angel, nor archangel, nor of the higher power, nor of any other created nature," if other there be, but of the Master Himself, the King Himself, the true Only-Begotten Son Himself, of the Very Lord [289] of all, did we "behold the glory."

For the expression "as," does not in this place belong to similarity or comparison, but to confirmation and unquestionable definition; as though he said, "We beheld glory, such as it was becoming, and likely that He should possess, who is the Only-Begotten and true Son of God, the King of all." The habit (of so speaking) is general, for I shall not refuse to strengthen my argument even from common custom, since it is not now my object to speak with any reference to beauty of words, or elegance of composition, but only for your advantage; and therefore there is nothing to prevent my establishing my argument by the instance of a common practice. What then is the habit of most persons? Often when any have seen a king richly decked, and glittering on all sides with precious stones, and are afterwards describing to others the beauty, the ornaments, the splendor, they enumerate as much as they can, the glowing tint of the purple robe, the size of the jewels, the whiteness of the mules, the gold about the yoke, the soft and shining couch. But when after enumerating these things, and other things besides these, they cannot, say what they will, give a full idea of [290] the splendor, they immediately bring in: "But why say much about it; once for all, he was like a king;" not desiring by the expression "like," to show that he, of whom they say this, resembles a king, but that he is a real king. Just so now the Evangelist has put the word as , desiring to represent the transcendent nature and incomparable excellence of His glory.

For indeed all others, both angels and archangels and prophets, did everything as under command; but He with the authority which becomes a King and Master; at which even the multitudes wondered, that He taught as "one having authority." ( Matt. vii. 29 .) Even angels, as I said, have appeared with great glory upon the earth; as in the case of Daniel, of David, of Moses, but they did all as servants who have a Master. But He as Lord and Ruler of all, and this when He appeared in poor and humble form; but even so creation recognized her Lord. Now the star from heaven which called the wise men to worship Him, the vast throng pouring everywhere of angels attending the Lord, [291] and hymning His praise, and besides them, many other heralds sprang up on a sudden, and all, as they met, [292] declared to one another the glad tidings of this ineffable mystery; the angels to the shepherds; the shepherds to those of the city; Gabriel to Mary and Elisabeth; Anna and Simeon to those who came to the Temple. Nor were men and women only lifted up [293] with pleasure, but the very infant who had not yet come forth to light, I mean the citizen of the wilderness, the namesake of this Evangelist, leaped while yet in his mother's womb, and all were soaring [294] with hopes for the future. This too immediately after the Birth. But when He had manifested Himself still farther, other wonders, yet greater than the first, were seen. For it was no more star, or sky, no more angels, or archangels, not Gabriel, or Michael, but the Father Himself from heaven above, who proclaimed Him, and with the Father the Comforter, flying down at the uttering of the Voice and resting on Him. Truly therefore did he say, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father."

[2.] Yet he says it not only on account of these things, but also on account of what followed them; for no longer do shepherds only, and widow women, and aged men, declare to us the good tidings, but the very voice [295] of the things themselves, sounding clearer than any trumpet, and so loudly, that the sound was straightway heard even in this land. "For," says one, "his fame went into [296] all Syria" ( Matt. iv. 24 ); and He revealed Himself to all, and all things everywhere exclaimed, that the King of Heaven was come. Evil spirits everywhere fled and started away from Him, Satan covered his face [297] and retired, death [298] at that time retreated before Him, and afterwards disappeared altogether; every kind of infirmity was loosed, the graves let free the dead, the devils those whom they had maddened, [299] and diseases the sick. And one might see things strange and wonderful, such as with good cause the prophets desired to see, and saw not. One might see eyes fashioned ( John ix. 6, 7 ), (might see) Him showing to all in short space and on the more noble portion of the body, that admirable thing which all would have desired to see, how God formed Adam from the earth; palsied and distorted limbs fastened and adapted to each other, dead hands moving, palsied feet leaping amain, ears that were stopped re-opened, and the tongue sounding aloud which before was tied by speechlessness. For having taken in hand the common nature of men, as some excellent workman might take a house decayed by time, He filled up what was broken off, banded together its crevices and shaken portions, and raised up again what was entirely fallen down.

And what should one say of the fashioning of the soul, so much more admirable than that of the body? The health of our bodies is a great thing, but that of our souls is as much greater as the soul is better than the body. And not on this account only, but because our bodily nature follows withersoever the Creator will lead it, and there is nothing to resist, but the soul being its own mistress, and possessing power over its acts, does not in all things obey God, unless it will to do so. For God will not make it beautiful and excellent, if it be reluctant and in a manner constrained by force, for this is not virtue at all; but He must persuade it to become so of its own will and choice. And so this cure is more difficult than the other; yet even this succeeded, and every kind of wickedness was banished. And as He re-ordered the bodies which He cured, not to health only, but to the highest vigor, so did He not merely deliver the souls from extremist wickedness, but brought them to the very summit of excellence. A publican became an Apostle, and a persecutor, blasphemer, and injurious, appeared as herald to the world, and the Magi became teachers of the Jews, and a thief was declared a citizen of Paradise, and a harlot shone forth by the greatness of her faith, and of the two women, of Canaan and Samaria, the latter who was another harlot, undertook to preach the Gospel to her countrymen, and having enclosed a whole city in her net, [300] so brought them [301] to Christ; while the former by faith and perseverance, procured the expulsion of an evil spirit from her daughter's soul; and many others much worse than these were straightway numbered in the rank of disciples, and at once all the infirmities [302] of their bodies and diseases of their souls were transformed, and they were fashioned anew to health and exactest virtue. And of these, not two or three men, not five, or ten, or twenty, or an hundred only, but entire cities and nations, were very easily remodeled. Why should one speak of the wisdom of the commands, the excellency of the heavenly laws, the good ordering of the angelic polity? For such a life hath He proposed to us, such laws appointed for us, such a polity established, that those who put these things into practice, immediately become angels and like to God, as far as is in our power, even though they [303] may have been worse than all men.

[3.] The Evangelist therefore having brought together all these things, the marvels in our bodies, in our souls, in the elements [304] (of our faith), the commandments, those gifts ineffable and higher than the heavens, the laws, the polity, the persuasion, the future promises, His sufferings, uttered that voice so wonderful and full of exalted doctrine, saying, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." For we admire Him not only on account of the miracles, but also by reason of the sufferings; as that He was nailed upon the Cross, that He was scourged, that He was buffeted, that He was spit upon, that He received blows on the cheek from those to whom He had done good. For even of those very things which seem to be shameful, it is proper to repeat the same expression, since He Himself called that action [305] "glory." For what then took place was (proof) not only of kindness and love, but also of unspeakable power. At that time death was abolished, the curse was loosed, devils were shamed and led in triumph and made a show of, and the handwriting of our sins was nailed to the Cross. And then, since these wonders were doing invisibly, others took place visibly, showing that He was of a truth the Only-Begotten Son of God, the Lord of all creation. For while yet that blessed Body hung upon the tree, the sun turned away his rays, the whole earth was troubled and became dark, the graves were opened, the ground quaked, and an innumerable multitude of dead leaped forth, and went into the city. And while the stones of His tomb were fastened upon the vault, and the seals yet upon them, the Dead arose, the Crucified, the nail-pierced One, and [306] having filled His eleven disciples with His mighty [307] power, He sent them to men throughout all the world, to be the common healers of all their kind, [308] to correct their way of living, to spread through every part of the earth the knowledge of their heavenly doctrines, to break down the tyranny of devils, to teach those great and ineffable blessings, to bring to us the glad tidings of the soul's immortality, and the eternal life of the body, and rewards which are beyond conception, and shall never have an end. These things then, and yet more than these, the blessed Evangelist having in mind, things which though he knew, he was not able to write, because the world could not have contained them (for if all things "should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written"-- c. xxi. 25 ), reflecting therefore on all these, he cries out, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

It behooves therefore those who have been deemed worthy to see and to hear such things, and who have enjoyed so great a gift, to display also a life worthy of the doctrines, that they may enjoy also the good things which are (laid up) there. For our Lord Jesus Christ came, not only that we might behold His glory here, but also that which shall be. For therefore He saith, "I will that these [309] also be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory." ( c. xvii. 24 .) Now if the glory here was so bright and splendid, what can one say of that (which shall be)? for it shall appear not on this corruptible earth, nor while we are in perishable bodies, but in a creation which is imperishable, and waxes not old, and with such brightness as it is not possible even to represent in words. O [310] blessed, thrice blessed, yea many times so, they who are deemed worthy to be beholders of that glory! It is concerning this that the prophet says, "Let the unrighteous be taken away, that he behold not the glory of the Lord." ( Isa. xxvi. 10 , LXX.) God grant that not one of us be taken away nor excluded ever from beholding it. For if we shall not hereafter enjoy it, then it is time to say of ourselves, "Good were it for" us, "if" we "had never been born." For why do we live and breathe? What are we, if we fail of that spectacle, if no one grant us then to behold our Lord? If those who see not the light of the sun endure a life more bitter than any death, what is it likely that they who are deprived of that light must suffer? For in the one case the loss is confined to this one privation; but in the other it does not rest here, (though if this were the only thing to be dreaded, even then the degrees of punishment would not be equal, but one would be as much severer than the other, as that sun is incomparably superior to this,) but now we must look also for other vengeance; for he who beholds not that light must not only be led into darkness, but must be burned continually, and waste away, and gnash his teeth, and suffer ten thousand other dreadful things. Let us then not permit ourselves by making this brief time a time of carelessness and remissness, to fall into everlasting punishment, but let us watch and be sober, let us do all things, and make it all our business to attain to that felicity, and to keep far from that river of fire, which rushes with a loud roaring before the terrible judgment seat. For he who has once been cast in there, must remain for ever; there is no one to deliver him from his punishment, not father, not mother, not brother. And this the prophets themselves declared aloud; one saying, "Brother delivers not brother. Shall man deliver?" ( Ps. xlix. 7 , LXX.) And Ezekiel has declared somewhat more than this, saying, "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters." ( Ezek. xiv. 16 .) For one defense [311] only, that through works, [312] is there, and he who is deprived of that cannot be saved by any other means. Revolving these things, then, and reflecting upon them continually, let us cleanse our life and make it lustrous, that we may see the Lord with boldness, and obtain the promised good things; 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.

Footnotes

[277] proen [278] philostorgias . [279] al. "speaking." [280] pararruenai . [281] al. "that it was not otherwise than by." [282] suntrophou . [283] a kraton . [284] Morel. "make the intolerable (brightness) of his countenance bearable to them." [285] e skenosen . [286] [were glorified.] [287] paranoixantes . [288] al. "all but saying." [289] al. "and Master." [290] parastesai . [291] Morel. "and heavenly multitudes appearing on earth of Angels ministering." [292] al. "coming together." [293] e pterothesan , "made winged." [294] meteoroi . [295] al. "nature." [296] "Throughout," E.V. [297] e nkalupsamenos . [298] al. "and death itself." [299] tous memenotas . [300] sageneusasa from sagene , "a seine net." [301] al. "brought them out." [302] pathe . [303] al. "we." [304] stoicheiois . [305] i.e. His Crucifixion. [306] al. "then again." [307] al. "a certain irresistible and divine." [308] Or "of their whole nature." [309] houtoi kakeinoi (G. T.). [310] al. "how." [311] prostasia . [312] There are places where he allows that the prayers of others may avail a man in the Judgment, when they are the consequence of his good deeds. See on Statues, Hom. ii. § 17.


Homily XIII.

John i. 15

"John beareth witness of Him, and crieth, saying, This is He of whom I spake, saying, He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for He was before me."

[1.] Do we then run and labor in vain? Are we sowing upon the rocks? Does the seed fall upon the rocks? Does the seed fall without our knowing it by the wayside, and among thorns? I am greatly troubled and fear, lest our husbandry be unprofitable; not [313] as though I shall be a loser as well as you, touching the reward of this labor. For it is not with those who teach as it is with husbandmen. Oftentimes the husbandman after his year's toil, his hard work and sweat, if the earth produce no suitable return for his pains, will be [314] able to find comfort for his labors from none else, but returns ashamed and downcast from his barn to his dwelling, his wife and children, unable to require of any man a reward for his lengthened toil. But in our case there is [315] nothing like this. For even though the soil which we cultivate bring forth no fruit, if we have shown all industry, the Lord of it and of us will not suffer us to depart with disappointed hopes, but will give us a recompense; for, says St. Paul, "Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor" ( 1 Cor. iii. 8 ), not according to the event of things. And that it is so, hearken: "And Thou," he saith, "Son of man, testify unto this people, if they will hear, and if they will understand." ( Ezek. ii. 5 , not from LXX.) And Ezekiel says, [316] "If the watchman give warning what it behooves to flee from, and what to choose, he hath delivered his own soul, although there be none that will take heed." ( Ezek. iii. 18, and xxxiii. 9 ; not quoted from LXX.) Yet although we have this strong consolation, and are confident of the recompense that shall be made us, still when we see that the work in you does not go forward, our state is not better than the state of those husbandmen who lament and mourn, who hide their faces and are ashamed. This is the sympathy of a teacher, this is the natural care of a father. For Moses too, when it was in his power to have been delivered from the ingratitude of the Jews, and to have laid the more glorious foundation of another and far greater [317] people, ("Let Me alone," said God, "that I may consume them, [318] and make of thee a nation mightier than this"-- Ex. xxxii. 10 ,) because he was a holy man, the servant of God, and a friend [319] very true and generous, he did not endure even to hearken to this word, but chose rather to perish with those who had been once allotted to him, than without them to be saved and be in greater honor. Such ought he to be who has the charge of souls. For it is a strange thing that any one who has weak children, will not be called the father of any others than those who are sprung from him, but that he who has had disciples placed in his hands should be continually changing one flock for another, that we should be catching at the charge now of these, then of those, then again of others, [320] having no real affection for any one. May we never have cause to suspect this of you. We trust that ye abound more in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in love to one another and towards all men. And this we say as desiring that your zeal may be increased, and the excellence of your conversation [321] farther advanced. For it is thus that you will be able to bring your understandings down to the very depth of the words set before us, if no film [322] of wickedness darken the eyes of your intellect, and disturb its clearsightedness and acuteness.

What then is it which is set before [323] us to-day? "John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for He was before me." The Evangelist is very full in making frequent mention of John, and often bearing about his testimony. And this he does not without a reason, but very wisely; for all the Jews held the man in great admiration, (even Josephus imputes the war to his death; [324] and shows, that, on his account, what once was the mother city, is now no city at all, [325] and continues [326] the words of his encomium to great length,) and therefore desiring by his means to make the Jews ashamed, he continually reminds them of the testimony of the forerunner. The other Evangelists make mention of the older prophets, and at each successive thing that took place respecting Him refer the hearer to them. Thus when the Child is born, they say, "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son" ( Matt. i. 22; Isa. vii. 14 ); and when He is plotted against and sought for everywhere so diligently, that even tender infancy is slaughtered by [327] Herod, they bring in Jeremy, saying, "In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children" ( Matt. ii. 18; Jer. xxxi. 15 ); and again, when He comes up out of Egypt, they mention [328] Hosea, saying, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son" ( Matt. ii. 15; Hosea xi. 1 ); and this they do everywhere. But John providing testimony more clear and fresh, and uttering a voice more glorious than the other, brings continually forward not those only who had departed and were dead, but one also who was alive and present, who pointed Him out and baptized Him, him he continually introduces, not desiring to gain credit for the master [329] through the servant, but condescending to the infirmity of his hearers. [330] For as unless He had taken the form of a servant, He would not have been easily received, so had He not by the voice of a servant prepared the ears of his fellow-servants, the many (at any rate) of the Jews would not [331] have received the Word.

[2.] But besides this, there was another great and wonderful provision. For because to speak any great words concerning himself, makes a man's witness to be suspected, and is often an obstacle to many hearers, another comes to testify of Him. And besides this the many [332] are in a manner wont to run more readily to a voice which is more familiar and natural to them, as recognizing it more than other voices; and therefore the voice from heaven was uttered [333] once or twice, but that of John oftentimes and continually. For those [334] of the people who had surmounted the infirmity of their nature, and had been released from all the things of sense, could hear the Voice from heaven, and had no great need of that of man, but in all things obeyed [335] that other, and were led by it; but they who yet moved below, and were wrapt in many veils, needed that meaner (voice). In the same way John, because he had snipped himself in every way of the [336] things of sense, needed no other instructors, [337] but was taught from heaven. "He that sent me," saith he, "to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit" of God "descending, the same is He." ( c. i. 33 ) But the Jews who still were children, and could not as yet reach to that height, had a man for their teacher, a man who did not speak to them words of his own, but brought them a message from above.

What then saith he? He "beareth witness concerning Him, and crieth, saying" What means that word "crieth"? Boldly, he means, and freely, without any reserve, [338] he proclaims. What does he proclaim? to what does he "bear witness," and "cry"? "This is He of whom I said, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for He was before me." The testimony is dark, [339] and contains besides much that is lowly. For he does not say, "This is the Son of God, the Only-begotten, the true Son "; but what? "He that cometh after me, is preferred before me; for He was before me." As the mother birds do not teach their young all at once how to fly, nor finish their teaching in a single day, but at first lead them forth so as to be just outside the nest, then after first allowing them to rest, set them again to flying, [340] and on the next day continue a flight much farther, and so gently, by little and little, bring them to the proper height; just so the blessed John did not immediately bring the Jews to high things, but taught them for a while to fly up a little above the earth saying, that Christ was greater than he. And yet this, even this was for the time no small thing, to have been able to persuade [341] the hearers that one who had not yet appeared nor worked any wonders was greater than a man, (John, I mean,) so marvelous, so famous, to whom all ran, and whom they thought to be an angel. For a while therefore he labored to establish this in the minds of his hearers, that He to whom testimony was borne was greater than he who bore it; He that came after, than he that came before, He who had not yet appeared, than he that was manifest and famous. And observe how prudently he introduces his testimony; for he does not only point Him out when He has appeared, but even before He appears, proclaims Him. For the expression, "This is He of whom I spake," is the expression of one declaring this. As also Matthew says, that when all came to him, he said, "I indeed baptize you with water, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose." [342] Wherefore then even before His appearance did he this? In order that when He appeared, the testimony might readily be received, the minds of the hearers being already prepossessed by what was said concerning Him, and the mean external appearance not vitiating it. [343] For if without having heard anything at all concerning Him they had seen the Lord, [344] and as they beheld Him had at the same time received the testimony of John's words, so wonderful and great, the meanness of His appearance [345] would have straightway been an objection to the grandeur of the expressions. For Christ took on Him an appearance so mean and ordinary, that even Samaritan women, and harlots, and publicans, had confidence boldly to approach and converse with Him. As therefore, I said, if they had at once heard these words and seen Himself, they might perhaps have mocked at the testimony of John; but now because even before Christ appeared, they had often heard and had been accustomed to [346] what was said concerning Him, they were affected in the opposite way, not rejecting the instruction of the words by reason of the appearance of Him who was witnessed of, but from their belief of what had been already told them, esteeming Him even more glorious.

The phrase, "that cometh after," means, "that" preacheth "after me," not "that" was born "after me." And this Matthew glances at when he says, [347] "after me cometh a man," not speaking of His birth from Mary, but of His coming to preach (the Gospel), for had he been speaking of the birth, he would not have said, "cometh," but "is come"; since He was born when John spake this. What then means "is before me"? Is more glorious, more honorable. "Do not," he saith, "because I came preaching first from this, suppose that I am greater than He; I am much inferior, so much inferior that I am not worthy to be counted in the rank of a servant." This is the sense of "is before me," which Matthew showing in a different manner, saith, [348] "The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose." ( Luke iii. 16 .) Again, that the phrase, "is before me," does not refer to His coming into Being, is plain from the sequel; for had he meant to say this, what follows, "for He was before me," would be superfluous. For who so dull and foolish as not to know that He who "was born before" [349] him "was before" [350] him? Or if the words refer to His subsistence [351] before the ages, what is said is nothing else than that "He who cometh after me came into being before me." Besides, such a thing as this is unintelligible, and the cause is thrown in needlessly; for he ought to have said the contrary, if he had wished to declare this, "that He who cometh after me was before me, since also He was born before me." For one might with reason assign this, (the "being born before") as the cause of "being before," but not the "being before," as the cause of "being born." While what we assert is very reasonable. Since you all at least know this, that they are always things uncertain not things evident, that require their causes to be assigned. Now if the argument related to the production of substance, [352] it could not have been uncertain that he who "was born" first must needs "be" first; but because he is speaking concerning honor, he with reason explains what seems to be a difficulty. For many might well enquire, whence and on what pretext He who came after, became before, that is, appeared with great honor; in reply to this question therefore, he immediately assigns the reason; and the reason is, His Being first. He does not say, that "by some kind of advancement he cast me who has been first behind him, and so became before me," but that "he was before me," even though he arrives after me.

But how, says one, if the Evangelist refers [353] to His manifestation to men, and to the glory which was to attend Him from them, does he speak of what was not yet accomplished, as having already taken place? for he does not say, "shall be," but "was." Because this is a custom among the prophets of old, to speak of the future as of the past. Thus Isaiah speaking of His slaughter does not say, "He shall be led (which would have denoted futurity) as a sheep to the slaughter"; but "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter" ( Isa. liii. 7 ); yet He was not yet Incarnate, but the Prophet speaks of what should be as if it had come to pass. So David, pointing to the Crucifixion, said not, "They shall pierce My hands and My feet," but "They pierced My hands and My feet, and parted My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture" ( Ps. xxii. 16, 18 ); and discoursing of the traitor as yet unborn, he says, "He which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up [354] his heel against Me" ( Ps. xli. 9 ); and of the circumstances of the Crucifixion, "They gave Me gall for meat, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." ( Ps. lxix. 21 .)

[4.] Do you desire that we adduce more examples, or do these suffice? For my part, I think they do; for if we have not dug over the ground in all its extent, [355] we have at least dug down to its bottom; and this last kind of work is not less laborious than the former; and we fear lest by straining your attention immoderately we cause you to fall back.

Let us then give to our discourse a becoming conclusion. And what conclusion is becoming? A suitable giving of glory to God; and that is suitable which is given, not by words only, but much more by actions. For He saith, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." ( Matt. v. 16 .) Now nothing is more full of light than a most excellent conversation. As one of the wise men has said, "The paths of the just shine like the light" ( Prov. iv. 18 , LXX.); and they shine not for them alone who kindle the flame by their works, and are guides in the way of righteousness, but also for those who are their neighbors. Let us then pour oil into these lamps, that the flame become higher, [356] that rich light appear. For not only has this oil great strength now, but even when sacrifices were at their height, [357] it was far more acceptable than they could be. "I will have mercy," [358] He saith, "and not sacrifice." ( Matt. xii. 7; Hos. vi. 6 .) And with good reason; for that is a lifeless altar, this a living; and all that is laid on that altar becomes the food of fire, and ends in dust, and it is poured forth as ashes, and the smoke of it is dissolved into the substance of the air; but here there is nothing like this, the fruits which it bears are different. As the words of Paul declare; for in describing the treasures of kindness to the poor laid up by the Corinthians, he writes, "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God." ( 2 Cor. ix. 12 .) And again; "Whiles they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you." Dost thou behold it [359] resolving itself into thanksgiving and praise of God, and continual prayers of those who have been benefited, and more fervent charity? Let us then sacrifice, beloved, let us sacrifice every day upon these altars. For this sacrifice is greater than prayer and fasting, and many things beside, if only it come from honest gain, and honest toils, and be pure from all covetousness, and rapine, and violence. For God accepts such [360] offerings as these, but the others He turns away from and hates; He will not be honored out of other men's calamities, such sacrifice is unclean and profane, and would rather anger God than appease Him. So that we must use all carefulness, that we do not, in the place of service, insult Him whom we would honor. For if Cain for making a second-rate offering, [361] having done no other wrong, suffered extreme punishment, how shall not we when we offer anything gained by rapine and covetousness, suffer yet more severely. It is for this that God has shown to us the pattern [362] of this commandment, that we might have mercy, not be severe to our fellow-servants; but he who takes what belongs to one and gives it to another, hath not shown mercy, but inflicted hurt, and done an extreme injustice. As then a stone cannot yield oil, so neither can cruelty produce humanity; for alms when it has such a root as this is alms [363] no longer. Therefore I exhort that we look not to this only, that we give to those that need, but also that we give not from other men's plunder. "When one prayeth, and another curseth, whose voice will the Lord hear?" ( Ecclus. xxxiv. 24 .) If we guide ourselves thus strictly, we shall be able by the grace of God to obtain much lovingkindness and mercy and pardon for what we have done amiss during all this long time, and to escape the river of fire; from which may it come to pass that we be all delivered, and [364] ascend to the Kingdom of Heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[313] al. "nothing." [314] al. "is." [315] al. "shall be." [316] al. "this may be learnt from Ezekiel." [317] al. "in a far greater way." [318] Lit. "wipe out." [319] al. "very much a servant." [320] al. "and others again with these." [321] politeias . [322] leme , al. lume , "defilement." [323] al. "said to." [324] No such passage is extant in Josephus. Probably the place alluded to is Antiq. b. xviii. c. 5, § 2, where the destruction of the troops of Herod the tetrarch by Aretas is attributed to the death of John the Baptist. [325] Ben. "the war through which the city of the Jews, which was once the mother city, is no city." [326] al. "raises." [327] Morel. kai panta ta autou ontos anezete, hos kai peri tes aorou helikias tes sphattomenes . [328] al. "produce." [329] Morel. inserts "hence, away with the thought." [330] al. "of babes." [331] al. "would not so." [332] al. "because the many." [333] gegonen . [334] al. "those therefore." [335] Morel. "as obeying it in all things: but they who yet moved below, needed also many other (things), because of their groveling on the ground, and being wrapt." [336] al. "all the." [337] al. "men for inst." [338] hu postole . [339] Lit. "shaded over." [340] Morel. and ms. Savile reads prostitheasi te ptesei palin kai ... pleiona sunaptousin . [341] al. "make believe." [342] Matt. iii. 11, and Luke iii. 16 . [343] Some mss. add, "but being able to possess the souls of the many with much fearlessness." [344] al. "Christ Himself." [345] schema . [346] Ben. "provoked (to curiosity) by." [347] Matt. iii. 11 not verbally quoted. [348] Not found in Matt. [349] genomenos emprosthen . [350] protos en . [351] hu parxeos . [352] ousioseos . [353] al. "the reference is." [354] al. "has magnified." [355] al. "not much ground." [356] al. "more soaring." [357] lit. "flourished." [358] e leon . St. Chrysostom plays on the word, which was pronounced nearly as e laion , "oil." Thus on 2 Tim. ii. 25, Hom. vi. [359] the "service," leitourgia . [360] al. "only such." [361] ta deutereia prosenenkon . St. Chrysostom implies, that the offering of Cain was not of his best. [362] eidos . [363] e leemosune , (lit. "mercifulness,") whence our alms . [364] Morel. "sit down in the heavenly bride-chamber."


Homily XIV.

John i. 16

"And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace."

[1.] I said the other day, that John, to resolve the doubts of those who should question with themselves how the Lord, though He came after to the preaching, became before and more glorious than he, added, "for He was before me." And this is indeed one reason. But not content with this, he adds again a second, which now he declares. What is it? "And of his fullness," says he, "have all we received, and grace for grace." With these again he mentions another. What is this? That

Ver. 17 . "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

And what means that, saith he, "Of His fullness have all we received"? for to this we must for a while direct our discourse. He possesseth not, says he, the gift by participation, [365] but is Himself the very Fountain and very Root of all good, very Life, and very Light, and very Truth, not retaining within Himself the riches of His good things, but overflowing with them unto all others, and after the overflowing remaining full, in nothing diminished by supplying others, but streaming ever forth, and imparting to others a share of these blessings, He remains in sameness of perfection. What I possess is by participation, (for I received it from another) and is a small portion of the whole, as it were a poor [366] rain-drop compared with the untold abyss or the boundless sea; or rather not even can this instance fully express what we attempt to say, for if you take a drop from the sea, you have lessened the sea itself, [367] though the diminution be imperceptible. But of that Fountain we cannot say this; how much soever a man draw, It continues undiminished. We therefore must needs proceed to another instance, a weak one also, and not able to establish what we seek, but which guides us better than the former one to the thought now proposed to us.

Let us suppose that there is a fountain of fire; that from that fountain ten thousand lamps are kindled, twice as many, thrice as many, ofttimes as many; does not the fire remain at the same degree of fullness even after its imparting of its virtue to such members? It is plain to every man that it does. Now if in the case of bodies which are made up of parts, and are diminished by abstraction, one has been found of such a nature, that after supplying to others something from itself it sustains no loss, much more will this take place with that incorporeal and uncompounded Power. If in the instance given, that which is communicated is substance and body, is divided yet does not suffer division, when our discourse is concerning an energy, and an energy too of an incorporeal substance, it is much more probable that this will undergo nothing of the sort. And therefore John said, "Of His fullness have all we received," and joins his own testimony to that of the Baptist; for the expression, "Of his fulness have we all received," belongs not to the forerunner but to the disciple; and its meaning is something like this: "Think not," he says, "that we, who long time companied with Him, and partook of His food [368] and table, bear witness through favor," since even John, who did not even know Him before, who had never even been with Him, but merely saw Him in company with others when he was baptizing cried out, "He was before me," having from that source [369] received all; and all we the twelve, the three hundred, the three thousand, the five thousand, the many myriads of Jews, all the fullness of the faithful who then were, and now are, and hereafter shall be, have "received of His fulness." What have we received? "grace for grace," saith he. What grace, for what? For the old, the new. For there was a righteousness, and again a righteousness, ("Touching the righteousness which is in the law," saith Paul "blameless.") ( Philip. iii. 6 .) There was a faith, there is a faith. ("From faith to faith.") ( Rom. i. 17 .) There was an adoption, there is an adoption. ("To whom pertaineth the adoption.") ( Rom. ix. 4 .) There was a glory, there is a glory. ("For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.") ( 2 Cor. iii. 11 .) There was a law, and there is a law. ("For the law of the Spirit of life hath made me free.") ( Rom. viii. 2 .) There was a service, and there is a service. ("To whom pertaineth the service"-- Rom. ix. 4 : and again: "Serving God in the Spirit.") ( Philip. iii. 3 .) There was a covenant, and there is a covenant. ("I will make with you [370] a new covenant, not according to the covenant which I made with your [371] fathers.") ( Jer. xxxi. 31 .) There was a sanctification, and there is a sanctification: there was a baptism, and there is a Baptism: there was a sacrifice, and there is a Sacrifice: there was a temple, and there is a temple: there was a circumcision, and there is a circumcision; and so too there was a "grace," and there is a "grace." But the words in the first case are used as types, in the second as realities, preserving a sameness of sound, though not of sense. So in patterns and figures, the shape of a man scratched with white lines [372] upon a black ground is called a man as well as that which has received the correct coloring; and in the case of statues, the figure whether formed of gold or of plaster, is alike called a statue, though in the one case as a model, in the other as a reality.

[2.] Do not then, because the same words are used, suppose that the things are identical, nor yet diverse either; for in that they were models they did not differ from the truth; but in that they merely preserved the outline, they were less than the truth. What is the difference in all these instances? Will you that we take in hand and proceed to examine one or two of the cases mentioned? thus the rest will be plain to you; and we shall see that the first were lessons for children, the last for high-minded full-grown men; that the first laws were made as for mortals, the latter as for angels.

Whence then shall we begin? From the sonship itself? What then is the distinction between the first and second? The first is the honor of a name, in the second the thing goes with it. Of the first the Prophet says, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High" ( Ps. lxxxii. 6 ); but of the latter, that they "were born of God." How, and in what way? By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. For they, even after they had received the title of sons, retained the spirit of slavery, (for while they remained slaves they were honored with this appellation,) but we being made free, received the honor, not in name, but in deed. And this Paul has declared and said, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." ( Rom. viii. 15 .) For having been born again, [373] and, as one may say, thoroughly remade, [374] we so are called "sons." And if one consider the character of the holiness, what the first was and what the second, he will find there also great [375] difference. They when they did not worship idols, nor commit fornication or adultery, were called by this name; but we become holy, not by refraining from these vices merely, but by acquiring things greater. And this gift we obtain first by means of the coming upon us of the Holy Ghost; and next, by a rule of life far more comprehensive [376] than that of the Jews. To prove that these words are not mere boasting hear what He saith to them, "Ye shall not use divination, [377] nor make purification of your children, for ye are a holy people." [378] So that holiness with them consisted in being free from the customs of idolatry; but it is not so with us. "That she may be holy," saith Paul, "in body and spirit." ( 1 Cor. vii. 34 .) "Follow peace, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" ( Heb. xii. 14 ): and, "Perfecting holiness in the fear of God." ( 2 Cor. vii. 1 .) For the word "holy" has not force to give the same meaning in every case to which it is applied; since God is called "Holy," though not as we are. What, for instance, does the Prophet say, when he heard that cry raised [379] by the flying Seraphim? "Woe is me! because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" ( Isa. vi. 5 ); though he was holy and clean; but if we be compared with the holiness which is above, we are unclean. Angels are holy, Archangels are holy, the Cherubim and Seraphim themselves are holy, but of this holiness again there is a double difference; that is, in relation to us, and to the higher powers. [380] We might proceed to all the other points, but then the discussion would become too long, and its extent too great. We will therefore desist from proceeding farther, and leave it to you to take in hand the rest, for it is in your power at home to put these things together, and examine their difference, and in the same way to go over what remains. "Give," saith one, "a starting place to the wise, and he becometh wiser." ( Prov. ix. 9 , LXX.) The beginning is from us, but the end will be from you. We must now resume the connection.

After having said, "Of His fullness have all we received," he adds, "and grace for grace." For by grace the Jews were saved: "I chose you," saith God, "not because you were many in number, but because of your fathers." ( Deut. vii. 7 , LXX.) If now they were chosen by God not for their own good deeds, [381] it is manifest that by grace they obtained this honor. And we too all are saved by grace, but not in like manner; not for the same objects, but for objects much greater and higher. The grace then that is with us is not like theirs. For not only was pardon of sins given to us, (since this we have in common with them, for all have sinned,) but righteousness also, and sanctification, and sonship, and the gift of the Spirit far more glorious [382] and more abundant. By this grace we have become the beloved of God, no longer as servants, but as sons and friends. Wherefore he saith, "grace for grace." Since even the things of the law were of grace, and the very fact of man [383] being created from nothing, (for we did not receive this as a recompense for past good deeds, how could we, when we even were not? but from God who is ever the first to bestow His benefits,) and not only that we were created from nothing, but that when created, we straightway learned what we must and what we must not do, and that we received this law in our very nature, and that our Creator entrusted to us the impartial rule of conscience, these I say, are proofs of the greatest grace and unspeakable lovingkindness. And the recovery of this law after it had become corrupt, by means of the written (Law), this too was the work of grace. For what might have been expected to follow was, that they who falsified [384] the law once given should suffer correction and punishments; but what actually took place was not this, but, on the contrary, an amending of our nature, and pardon, not of debt, but given through mercy and grace. For to show that it was of grace and mercy, hear what David saith; "The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed; He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel" ( Ps. ciii. 6, 7 ): and again; "Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will He give laws to them that are in the way." ( Ps. xxv. 8 .)

[3.] Therefore that men received the law was of pity, mercies, and grace; and for this reason he saith, "Grace for grace." But striving yet more fervently [385] to (express) the greatness of the gifts, he goes on to say,

Ver. 17 . "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

See ye how gently, by a single word and by little and little, both John the Baptist and John the Disciple lead up their hearers to the highest knowledge, having first exercised them in humbler things? The former having compared to himself Him who is incomparably superior to all, thus afterwards shows His superiority, by saying, "is become before me," and then adding the words, "was before me": while the latter has done much more than he, though too little for the worthiness of the Only-Begotten, for he makes the comparison, not with John, but with one reverenced by the Jews more than John, with Moses. "For the law," saith he, "was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

Observe his wisdom. He makes enquiry not concerning the person, but the things; for these being proved, it was probable that even the senseless would of necessity receive from them a much higher judgment and notion respecting Christ. For when facts bear witness, which cannot be suspected [386] of doing so either from favor to any, or from malice, they afford a means of judging which cannot be doubted even by the senseless; for they remain to open view just as their actors may have arranged them, and therefore their evidence is the least liable to suspicion of any. And see how he makes the comparison easy even to the weaker sort; for he does not prove the superiority by argument, but points out the difference by the bare words, opposing "grace and truth" to "law," and "came" to "was given." Between each of these there is a great difference; for one, "was given," belongs to something ministered, when one has received from another, and given to whom he was commanded to give; but the other, "grace and truth came," befits a king forgiving all offenses, with authority, and himself furnishing the gift. Wherefore He said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee" ( Matt. ix. 2 ); and again, "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (He saith to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." ( Ibid. v. 6 .)

Seest [387] thou how "grace" cometh by Him? look also to "truth." His "grace" the instance just mentioned, and what happened in the case of the thief, and the gift of Baptism, and the grace of the Spirit given by Him [388] declare, and many other things. But His "truth" we shall more clearly know, if we understand the types. For the types like patterns anticipated and sketched beforehand the dispensations [389] which should be accomplished under the new covenant, and Christ came and fulfilled them. Let us now consider the types in few words, for we cannot at the present time go through all that relates to them; but when you have learned some points from those (instances) which I shall set before you, [390] you will know the others also.

Will you then that we begin with the Passion itself? What then saith the type? "Take ye a lamb for an house, and kill it, and do as he commanded and ordained." ( Ex. xii. 3 .) But it is not so with Christ. He doth not command this to be done, but Himself becomes It, [391] by offering Himself a Sacrifice and Oblation to His Father.

[4.] See how the type was "given by Moses," but the "Truth came by Jesus Christ." ( Ex. xvii. 12 .)

Again, when the Amalekites warred in Mount Sinai, the hands of Moses were supported, being stayed up by Aaron and Hur standing on either side of him ( Ex. xvii. 12 ); but when Christ came, He of Himself stretched forth His Hands upon the Cross. Hast thou observed how the type "was given," but "the Truth came"?

Again, the Law said, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in this book." ( Deut. xxvii. 26 , LXX.) But what saith grace? "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" ( Matt. xi. 28 ); and Paul, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." ( Gal. iii. 13 .)

Since then we have enjoyed such "grace" and "truth," I exhort you that we be not more slothful by reason of the greatness of the gift; for the greater the honor of which we have been deemed worthy, the greater our debt of excellence; for one who has received but small benefits, even though he makes but small returns, does not deserve the same condemnation; but he who has been raised to the highest summit of honor, and yet manifests groveling and mean dispositions, will be worthy of much greater punishment. May I never have to suspect this of you. For we trust in the Lord that you have winged your souls for heaven, that you have removed from earth, that being in the world ye handle not the things of the world; yet though so persuaded, we do not cease thus continually to exhort you. In the games of the heathen, they whom all the spectators encourage are not those who have fallen and lie supine, but those who are exerting themselves and running still; of the others, (since they would be doing what would be of no use, [392] and would not be able to raise up by their encouragements men once for all severed from victory,) they cease to take any notice. But in this case some good may be expected, not only of you who are sober, but even of those who have fallen, if they would but be converted. Wherefore we use every means, exhorting, reproving, encouraging, praising, in order that we may bring about your salvation. Be not then offended by our continual admonishing concerning the Christian conversation, for the words are not the words of one accusing you of sloth, but of one who has very excellent hopes respecting you. And not to you alone, but to ourselves who speak them, are these words said, yea, and shall be said, for we too need the same teaching; so though they be spoken by us, yet nothing hinders their being spoken to us, (for the Word, when it finds a man in fault, amends him, when clear and free, sets him as far off from it as possible,) and we ourselves are not pure from transgressions. The course of healing is the same for all, the medicines are set forth for all, only the application is not the same, but is made according to the choice of those who use the medicines; for one who will handle the remedy as he ought, gains some benefit from the application, while he who does not place it upon the wound, makes the evil greater, and brings it to the most painful end. Let us then not fret when we are being healed, but much rather rejoice, even though the system of discipline bring bitter pains, for hereafter it will show to us fruit sweeter than any. Let us then do all to this end, that we may depart to that world, [393] cleared of the wounds and strokes which the teeth of sin make in the soul, so that having become worthy to behold the countenance of Christ, we may be delivered in that day, not to the avenging and cruel powers, but to those who are able to bring us to that inheritance of the heavens which is prepared for them that love Him; to which may it come to pass that we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[365] methekthen dorean . [366] al. "little." [367] or, "just so much." [368] lit. "salt." [369] or, "sight," e keithen . [370] in Orig. "the house of Israel and Judah." [371] in Orig. "their." [372] al. "with black on white colors." [373] or, "from above." [374] a nastoicheiothentes , made up of fresh elements. [375] So Morel. Ben. and ms. in Bodleian. Savile reads ou pollen . [376] meizonos politeias . [377] or, "purify yourselves," phoibasesthe . [378] Perhaps from Deut. xviii. 10 . [379] al. "sung." [380] Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read the passage thus: "are holy, but the (Holiness) of God is greater than their holiness, and surpassing, as in comparison with us, so also with the powers which are above us." [381] katorthomaton . [382] al. "stronger." [383] al. "our." [384] paracharatontas . [385] al. "clearly." [386] al. "accused." [387] al. "see." [388] Morel. and ms. in Bodleian, read, "and the adoption through the Spirit, given to us." [389] oikonomias . [390] al. "having from a few learned the whole." [391] autos auto gignetai . [392] al. "senseless." [393] aiona.


Homily XV.

John i. 18

"No man hath seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him."

[1.] God will not have us listen to the words and sentences contained in the Scriptures carelessly, but with much attention. This is why the blessed David hath prefixed in many places to his Psalms the title "for understanding," [394] and hath said, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law." ( Ps. xxxii. 42, &c.; Ps. cxix. 18 .) And after him his son again shows that we ought to "seek out wisdom as silver, [395] and to make merchandise of her rather than of gold." ( Prov. ii. 4 and iii. 14 [partially quoted]; John v. 39 .) And the Lord when He exhorts the Jews to "search the Scriptures," the more urges us to the enquiry, for He would not thus have spoken if it were possible to comprehend them immediately at the first reading. No one would ever search for what is obvious and at hand, but for that which is wrapt in shadow, and which must be found after much enquiry; and so to arouse us to the search He calls them "hidden treasure." ( Prov. ii. 4; Matt. xiii. 44 .) These words are said to us that we may not apply ourselves to the words of the Scriptures carelessly or in a chance way, but with great exactness. For if any one listen to what is said in them without enquiring into the meaning, and receive all so as it is spoken, according to the letter, he will suppose many unseemly things of God, will admit of Him that He is a man, that He is made of brass, is wrathful, is furious, and many opinions yet worse than these. But if he fully learn the sense that lies beneath, he will be freed from all this unseemliness. ( Rev. i. 15 .) The very text which now lies before us says, that God has a bosom, a thing proper to bodily substances, yet no one is so insane as to imagine, that He who is without body is a body. In order then that we may properly interpret the entire passage according to its spiritual meaning, let us search it through from its beginning.

"No man hath seen God at any time." By what connection of thought does the Apostle come to say this? After showing the exceeding greatness of the gifts of Christ, and the infinite difference between them and those ministered by Moses, he would add the reasonable cause of the difference. Moses, as being a servant, was minister of lower things, but Christ being Lord and King, and the King's Son, brought to us things far greater, being ever with the Father, and beholding Him continually; wherefore He saith, "No man hath seen God at any time." What then shall we answer to the most mighty of voice, Esaias, when he says, "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up" ( Isa. vi. 1 ); and to John himself testifying of Him, that "he said these things when he had seen His glory"? ( c. xii. 41 .) What also to Ezekiel? for he too beheld Him sitting above the Cherubim. ( Ezek. i. and x .) What to Daniel? for he too saith, "The Ancient of days did sit" ( Dan. vii. 9 .) What to Moses himself, saying, "Show me Thy Glory, that I may see Thee so as to know Thee." ( Ex. xxxiii. 13 , partly from LXX.) And Jacob took his name from this very thing, being called [396] "Israel"; for Israel is "one that sees God." [397] And others have seen him. How then saith John, "No man hath seen God at any time"? It is to declare, that all these were instances of (His) condescension, not the vision of the Essence itself unveiled. For had they seen the very Nature, they would not have beheld It under different forms, since that is simple, without form, or parts, or bounding lines. It sits not, nor stands, nor walks: these things belong all to bodies. But how He Is, He only knoweth. And this He hath declared by a certain prophet, saying, "I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes [398] by the hands of the prophets" ( Hos. xii. 10 ), that is, "I have condescended, I have not appeared as I really was." For since His Son was about to appear in very flesh, He prepared them from old time to behold the substance of God, as far as it was possible for them to see It; but what God really is, not only have not the prophets seen, but not even angels nor archangels. If you ask them, you shall not hear them answering anything concerning His Essence, but sending up, [399] "Glory to God in the Highest, on earth peace, good will towards men." ( Luke ii. 14 .) If you desire to learn something from Cherubim or Seraphim, you shall hear the mystic song of His Holiness, and that "heaven and earth are full of His glory." ( Isa. vi. 3 .) If you enquire of the higher powers, you shall but find [400] that their one work is the praise of God. "Praise ye Him," saith David, "all His hosts." ( Ps. cxlviii. 2 .) But the Son only Beholds Him, and the Holy Ghost. How can any created nature even see the Uncreated? If we are absolutely unable clearly to discern any incorporeal power whatsoever, even though created, as has been often proved in the case of angels, much less can we discern the Essence which is incorporeal and uncreated. Wherefore Paul saith, "Whom no man hath seen, nor can see." ( 1 Tim. vi. 16 .) Does then this special attribute [401] belong to the Father only, not to the Son? Away with the thought. It belongs also to the Son; and to show that it does so, hear Paul declaring this point, and saying, that He "is the Image of the invisible God." ( Col. i. 15 .) Now if He be the Image of the Invisible, He must be invisible Himself, for otherwise He would not be an "image." And wonder not that Paul saith in another place, "God was manifested in the Flesh" ( 1 Tim. iii. 16 ); because the manifestation [402] took place by means of the flesh, not according to (His) Essence. Besides, Paul shows that He is invisible, not only to men, but also to the powers above, for after saying, "was manifested in the Flesh," he adds, "was seen of angels."

[2.] So that even to angels He then became visible, when He put on the Flesh; but before that time they did not so behold Him, because even to them His Essence was invisible.

"How then," asks some one, "did Christ say, `Despise not one of these little ones, for I tell you, that their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven'? ( Matt. xviii. 10 .) Hath then God a face, and is He bounded by the heavens?" Who so mad as to assert this? What then is the meaning of the words? As when He saith, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" ( Matt. v. 8 ), He means that intellectual vision which is possible to us, and the having God in the thoughts; so in the case of angels, we must understand [403] that by reason of their pure and sleepless [404] nature they do nothing else, but always image to themselves God. And therefore Christ saith, that "No man knoweth the Father, save the Son." ( Matt. x. 27 .) What then, are we all in ignorance? God forbid; but none knoweth Him as the Son knoweth Him. As then many [405] have seen Him in the mode of vision permitted to them, but no one has beheld His Essence, so many of us know God, but what His substance can be none knoweth, save only He that was begotten of Him. For by "knowledge" He here means an exact idea and comprehension, such as the Father hath of the Son. "As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father." ( c. x. 15 .)

Observe, therefore, with what fullness [406] the Evangelist speaks; for having said that "no man hath seen God at any time," he does not go on to say, "that the Son who hath seen, hath declared Him," but adds something beyond "seeing" by the words, "Who is in the bosom of the Father"; because, "to dwell [407] in the bosom" is far more than "to see." For he that merely "seeth" hath not an in every way exact knowledge of the object, but he that "dwelleth in the bosom" can be ignorant of nothing. Now lest when thou hearest that "none knoweth the Father, save the Son," thou shouldest assert that although He knoweth the Father more than all, yet He knoweth not how great He is, the Evangelist says that He dwells in the bosom of the Father; and Christ Himself declares, that He knoweth Him as much as the Father knoweth the Son. Ask therefore the gainsayer, "Tell me, doth the Father know the Son?" And if he be not mad, he will certainly answer "Yes." Then ask again; "Doth He see and know Him with exact vision and knowledge? Doth He know clearly what He Is?" He will certainly confess this also. From this next collect the exact comprehension the Son has of the Father. For He saith, "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father" ( c. x. 15 ); and in another place, "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God." ( c. vi. 46 .) Wherefore, as I said, the Evangelist mentions "the bosom," to show all this to us by that one word; that great is the affinity and nearness of the Essence, that the knowledge is nowise different, that the power is equal. For the Father would not have in His bosom one of another essence, nor would He have dared, had He been one amongst many servants, to live [408] in the bosom of his Lord, for this belongs only to a true Son, to one who has [409] much confidence towards His Father, and who is in nothing inferior to Him.

Wouldest thou learn also His eternity? Hear what Moses saith concerning the Father. When he asked what he was commanded to answer should the Jews enquire of him, "Who it was that had sent him," he heard these words: "Say, I AM hath sent me." ( Ex. iii. 14 .) Now the expression "I AM," [410] is significative of Being ever, and Being without beginning, of Being really and absolutely. And this also the expression, "Was in the beginning," declares, being indicative of Being ever; so that John uses this word to show that the Son Is from everlasting to everlasting [411] in the bosom of the Father. For that you may not from the sameness of name, suppose that He is some one of those who are made sons by grace, first, the article is added, distinguishing Him from those by grace. But if this does not content you, if you still look earthwards, hear a name more absolute than this, "Only-Begotten." If even after this you still look below, "I will not refuse," says he, (St. John,) "to apply to God a term belonging to man, I mean the word `bosom,' only suspect nothing degrading." Dost thou see the lovingkindness and carefulness of the Lord? God applies [412] to Himself unworthy expressions, that even so thou mayest see through them, and have some great and lofty thought of Him; and dost thou tarry below? For tell me, wherefore is that gross and carnal word "bosom" employed in this place? Is it that we may suppose God to be a body? Away, he by no means saith so. Why then is it spoken? for if by it neither the genuineness of the Son is established, nor that God is not a body, the word, because it serves no purpose, is superfluously thrown in. Why then is it spoken? For I shall not desist from asking thee this question. Is it not very plain, that it is for no other reason but that by it we might understand the genuineness of the Only-Begotten, and His Co-eternity with the Father?

[3.] "He hath declared Him," saith John. What hath he declared? That "no man hath seen God at any time"? That "God is one"? But this all the other prophets testify, and Moses continually [413] exclaims, "The Lord thy God is one Lord" ( Deut. vi. 4 ); and Esaias, "Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." ( Isa. xliii. 10 .) What more then have we learned from "the Son which is in the bosom of the Father"? What from "the Only-Begotten"? In the first place, these very words were uttered by His working; in the next place, we have received a teaching that is far clearer, and learned that "God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" ( c. iv. 24 ); and again, that it is impossible to see God; "that no man knoweth" Him, "save the Son" ( Matt. xi. 27 ); that He is the Father of the true and Only-Begotten; and all other things that are told us of Him. But the word "hath declared" [414] shows the plainer and clearer teaching which He gave not to the Jews only but to all the world, and established. To the prophets not even all the Jews gave heed, but to the Only-Begotten Son of God all the world yielded and obeyed. So the "declaration" in this place shows the greater clearness of His teaching, and therefore also He is called "Word," and "Angel [415] of great Counsel." [416]

Since then we have been vouchsafed a larger and more perfect teaching, God having no longer spoken by the prophets, but "having in these last days spoken to us by His Son" ( Heb. i. 1 ), let us show forth a conversation far higher than theirs, and suitable to the honor bestowed on us. Strange would it be that He should have so far lowered Himself, as to choose to speak to us no longer by His servants, but by His own mouth, and yet we should show forth nothing more than those of old. They had Moses for their teacher, we, Moses' Lord. Let us then exhibit a heavenly wisdom [417] worthy of this honor, and let us have nothing to do with earth. It was for this that He brought His teaching from heaven above, that He might remove our thoughts thither, that we might be imitators of our Teacher according to our power. But how may we become imitators of Christ? By acting in everything for the common good, and not merely seeking our own. "For even Christ," saith Paul, "pleased not Himself, but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me." ( Rom. xv. 3; Ps. lxix. 9 .) Let no one therefore seek his own. In truth, a man (really) seeks his own good when he looks to that of his neighbor. What is their good is ours; we are one body, and parts and limbs one of another. Let us not then be as though we were rent asunder. Let no one say, "such a person is no friend of mine, nor relation, nor neighbor, I have nought to do with him, how shall I approach, how address him?" Though he be neither relation nor friend, yet he is a man, who shares the same nature with thee, owns the same Lord, is thy fellow-servant, and fellow-sojourner, [418] for he is born in the same world. And if besides he partakes of the same faith, behold he hath also become a member of thee: for what friendship could work such union, as the relationship of faith? And our intimacy one with another must not be such nearness only as friends ought to show to friends, but such as is between limb and limb, because no man can possibly discover any intimacy greater than this sort of friendship and fellowship. [419] As then you cannot say, "Whence arises my intimacy and connection with this limb?" (that would be ridiculous;) so neither can you say so in the case of your brother. "We are all baptized into one body" ( 1 Cor. xii. 13 ), saith Paul. "Wherefore into one body?" That we be not rent asunder, but preserve the just proportions of that one body by our intercourse and friendship one with another.

Let us not then despise one another, lest we be neglectful of ourselves. [420] "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it." ( Eph. v. 29 .) And therefore God hath given to us but one habitation, this earth, hath distributed all things equally, hath lighted one sun for us all, hath spread above us one roof, the sky, made one table, the earth, bear [421] food for us. And another table hath He given far better than this, yet that too is one, (those who share our mysteries understand my words,) one manner of birth He hath bestowed on all, the spiritual, we all have one country, that in the heavens, of the same cup drink we all. He hath not bestowed on the rich man a gift more abundant and more honorable, and on the poor one more mean and small, but He hath called all alike. He hath given carnal things with equal regard to all, [422] and spiritual in like manner. Whence then proceeds the great inequality of conditions in life? From the avarice and pride of the wealthy. But let not, brethren, let not this any longer be; and when matters of universal interest and more pressing necessity bring us together, let us not be divided by things earthly and insignificant: I mean, by wealth and poverty, by bodily relationship, by enmity and friendship; for all these things are a shadow, nay less substantial than a shadow, to those who possess the bond of charity from above. Let us then preserve this unbroken, and none of those evil spirits [423] will be able to enter in, who cause division in so perfect union; [424] to which may we all attain by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[394] eis sunesin M+aSh°:K+uiJ+L+ Maschil, sunesis, intellectus , et ut Hieron. reddit, eruditio , aliqui, erudiens , vel intellectum præstans . Lorin. in tit . Ps. 31 (32). [395] Some mss. read "silver, and search for it as treasure; He would not have said Search , &c." [396] gnostos . [397] Augus. De Civ. Dei , lib. 16, 39. [398] lit. "been likened." [399] al. "only singing." [400] al. "they shall answer again." [401] e xaireton . [402] al. therefore saith (Paul), "Who was manifested in the flesh," for the manifestation, &c. [403] al. "many say." [404] a grupnon . [405] al. "many prophets." [406] periousias , al. "exactness." [407] e ndiaitasthai . [408] trephesthai , al. strephesthai , versari . [409] lit. "uses." [410] lit. "He Who Is." Another reading of the passage is, "if he were asked...and should answer, he is bidden to say that, &c." [411] a narchos kai aidios . [412] al. "allows to be applied." [413] a no kai kato . [414] e xegesato . [415] or, "Messenger." [416] megales boules angelos . The LXX. version of the titles of Christ, Isa. ix. 6 . [417] philosophian . [418] ho moskenos , "tent-fellow." [419] al. "care." [420] al. "let us then so care for our neighbors, as not neglecting each his own flesh." [421] a neken . [422] ho motimos . [423] al. "passions." [424] al. "union with Him."


Homily XVI.

John i. 19

"And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?"

[1.] A dreadful thing is envy, beloved, a dreadful thing and a pernicious, to the enviers, not to the envied. For it harms and wastes them first, like some mortal venom deeply seated in their souls; and if by chance it injure its objects, the harm it does is small and trifling, and such as brings greater gain than loss. Indeed not in the case of envy only, but in every other, it is not he that has suffered, but he that has done the wrong, who receives injury. For had not this been so, Paul would not have enjoined the disciples rather to endure wrong than to inflict it, when he says, "Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" ( 1 Cor. vi. 7 .) Well he knew, that destruction ever follows, not the injured party, but the injuring. All this I have said, by reason of the envy of the Jews. Because those who had flocked from the cities to John, and had condemned their own sins, and caused themselves to be baptized, repenting as it were after Baptism, send to ask him, "Who art thou?" Of a truth they were the offspring of vipers, serpents, and even worse if possible than this. O evil and adulterous and perverse generation, after having been baptized, do ye then become vainly curious, and question about the Baptist? What folly can be greater than this of yours? How was it that ye came forth? that ye confessed your sins, that ye ran to the Baptist? How was it that you asked him what you must do? when in all this you were acting unreasonably, since you knew not the principle and purpose of his coming. Yet of this the blessed John said nothing, nor does he charge or reproach them with it, but answers them with all gentleness.

It is worth while to learn why he did thus. It was, that their wickedness might be manifest and plain to all men. Often did John testify of Christ to the Jews, and when he baptized them he continually made mention of Him to his company, and said, "I indeed baptize you with water, but there cometh One after me who is mightier than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." ( Matt. iii. 11 .) With regard to him they were affected by a human feeling; for, tremblingly attentive [425] to the opinion of the world, and looking to "the outward appearance" ( 2 Cor. x. 7 ), they deemed it an unworthy thing that he should be subject to Christ. Since there were many things that pointed out John for an illustrious person. In the first place, his distinguished and noble descent; for he was the son of a chief priest. Then his conversation, his austere mode of life, his contempt of all human things; for despising dress and table, and house and food itself, he had passed his former time in the desert. In the case of Christ all was the contrary of this. His family was mean, (as they often objected to Him, saying, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James and Joses?") ( Matt. xiii. 55 ); and that which was supposed to be His country was held in such evil repute, that even Nathanael said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" ( c. i. 46 .) His mode of living was ordinary, and His garments not better than those of the many. For He was not girt with a leathern girdle, nor was His raiment of hair, nor did He eat honey and locusts. But He fared like all others, and was present at the feasts of wicked men and publicans, that He might draw them to Him. Which thing the Jews not understanding reproached Him with, as He also saith Himself, "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." ( Matt. xi. 19 .) When then John continually sent them from himself to Jesus, who seemed to them a meaner person, being ashamed and vexed at this, and wishing rather to have him for their teacher, they did not dare to say so plainly, but send to him, thinking by their flattery to induce him to confess that he was the Christ. They do not therefore send to him mean men, as in the case of Christ, for when they wished to lay hold on Him, they sent servants, and then Herodians, and the like, but in this instance, "priests and Levites," and not merely "priests," but those "from Jerusalem," that is, the more honorable; for the Evangelist did not notice this without a cause. And they send to ask, "Who art thou?" Yet the manner of his birth was well known to all, so that all said, "What manner of child shall this be?" ( Luke i. 66 ); and the report had gone forth into all the hill country. And afterwards when he came to Jordan, all the cities were set on the wing, and came to him from Jerusalem, and from all Judæa, to be baptized. Why then do they [426] now ask? Not because they did not know him, (how could that be, when he had been made manifest in so many ways?) but because they wished to bring him to do that which I have mentioned.

[2.] Hear then how this blessed person answered to the intention with which they asked the question, not to the question itself. When they said, "Who art thou?" he did not at once give them what would have been the direct answer, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." But what did he? He removed the suspicion they had formed; for, saith the Evangelist, being asked, "Who art thou?"

Ver. 20 . "He confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ."

Observe the wisdom of the Evangelist. He mentions this for the third time, to set forth the excellency of the Baptist, and their wickedness and folly. And Luke also says, that when the multitudes supposed him to be the Christ, he again removes their suspicion. [427] This is the part of an honest servant, not only not to take to himself his master's honor, but also to reject it [428] when given to him by the many. But the multitudes arrived at this supposition from simplicity and ignorance; these questioned him from an ill intention, which I have mentioned, expecting, as I said, to draw him over to their purpose by their flattery. Had they not expected this, they would not have proceeded immediately to another question, but would have been angry with him for having given them an answer foreign to their enquiry, and would have said, "Why, did we suppose that? did we come to ask thee that?" But now as taken and detected in the fact, they proceed to another question, and say,

Ver. 21 . "What then? art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not."

For they expected that Elias also would come, as Christ declares; for when His disciples enquired, "How then do the scribes say that Elias must first come?" ( Matt. xvii. 10 ) He replied, "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." Then they ask, "Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No." ( Matt. xvii. 10 .) Yet surely he was a prophet. Wherefore then doth he deny it? Because again he looks to the intention of his questioners. For they expected that some especial prophet should come, because Moses said, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet of thy brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye harken." ( Deut. xviii. 15 .) Now this was Christ. Wherefore they do not say, "Art thou a prophet?" meaning thereby one of the ordinary prophets; but the expression, "Art thou the prophet?" with the addition of the article, means, "Art thou that Prophet who was foretold by Moses?" and therefore he denied not that he was a prophet, but that he was "that Prophet."

Ver. 22 . "Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?"

Observe them pressing him more vehemently, urging him, repeating their questions, and not desisting; while he first kindly removes false opinions concerning himself, and then sets before them one which is true. For, saith he,

Ver. 23 . "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias."

When he had spoken some high and lofty words concerning Christ, as if (replying) to their opinion, he immediately betook himself to the Prophet to draw from thence confirmation of his assertion.

Ver. 24, 25 . "And [saith the Evangelist] they who were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, neither Elias, neither that Prophet?"

Seest thou not without reason I said that they wished to bring him to this? and the reason why they did not at first say so was, lest they should be detected by all men. And then when he said, "I am not the Christ," they, being desirous to conceal what they were plotting [429] within, go on to "Elias," and "that Prophet." But when he said that he was not one of these either, after that, in their perplexity, they cast aside the mask, and without any disguise show clearly their treacherous intention, saying, "Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ?" And then again, wishing to throw some obscurity over the thing, [430] they add the others also, "Elias," and "that Prophet." For when they were not able to trip [431] him by their flattery, they thought that by an accusation they could compel him [432] to say the thing that was not.

What folly, what insolence, what ill-timed officiousness! Ye were sent to learn who and whence he might be, not to [433] lay down laws for him also. This too was the conduct of men who would compel him to confess himself to be the Christ. Still not even now is he angry, nor does he, as might have been expected, say to them anything of this sort, "Do you give orders and make laws for me?" but again shows great gentleness towards them.

Ver. 26, 27 . "I," saith he, "baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."

[3.] What could the Jews have left to say to this? for even from this the accusation against them cannot be evaded, the decision against them admits not of pardon, they have given sentence against themselves. How? In what way? They deemed John worthy of credit, and so truthful, that they might believe him not only when he testified of others, but also when he spoke concerning himself. For had they not been so disposed, they would not have sent to learn from him what related to himself. Because you know that the only persons whom we believe, especially when speaking of themselves, are those whom we suppose to be more veracious than any others. And it is not this alone which closes their mouths, but also the disposition with which they had approached him; for they came forth to him at first with great eagerness, even though afterwards they altered. Both which things Christ declared, when He said, "He was a burning (and a shining) light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." Moreover, his answer made him yet more worthy of credit. For (Christ) saith, "He that seeketh not his own glory, [434] the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." Now this man sought it not, but refers the Jews to another. And those who were sent were of the most trustworthy among them, and of the highest rank, so that they could have in no way any refuge or excuse, for the unbelief which they exhibited towards Christ. Wherefore did ye not receive the things spoken concerning Him by John? you sent men who held the first rank among you, you enquired by them, you heard what the Baptist answered, they manifested all possible officiousness, sought into every point, named all the persons you suspected him to be; and yet most publicly and plainly he confessed that he was neither "Christ," nor "Elias" nor "that Prophet." Nor did he stop even there, but also informed them who he was, and spoke of the nature of his own baptism, that it was but a slight and mean thing, nothing more than some water, and told of the superiority of the Baptism given by Christ; he also cited Esaias the prophet, testifying of old very long ago, and calling Christ "Lord" ( Isa. xl. 3 ), but giving him the names of "minister and servant." What after this ought they to have done? Ought they not to have believed on Him who was witnessed of, to have worshiped Him, to have confessed Him to be God? For the character and heavenly wisdom of the witness showed that his testimony proceeded, not from flattery, but from truth; which is plain also from this, that no man prefers his neighbor to himself, nor, when he may lawfully give honor to himself, will yield it up to another, especially when it is so great as that of which we speak. So that John would not have renounced [435] this testimony (as belonging) to Christ, had He not been God. For though he might have rejected it for himself as being too great for his own nature, yet he would not have assigned it to another nature that was beneath it.

"But there standeth One among you, whom ye know not." Reasonable it was that Christ should mingle among the people as one of the many, because everywhere He taught men not to be puffed up and boastful. And in this place by "knowledge" the Baptist means a perfect acquaintance with Him, who and whence He was. And immediately next to this he puts, "Who cometh after me"; all but saying, "Think not that all is contained in my baptism, for had that been perfect, Another would not have arisen after me to offer you a different One, but this of mine is a preparation and a clearing the way for that other. Mine is but a shadow and image, but One must come who shall add to this the reality. So that His very coming `after me' especially declares His dignity: for had the first been perfect, no place would have been required for a second." "Is [436] before me," is more honorable, brighter. And then, lest they should imagine that His superiority was found by comparison, desiring to establish His incomparableness, he says, "Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose"; that is, who is not simply "before me," but before me in such a way, that I am not worthy to be numbered among the meanest of His servants. For to loose the shoe is the office of humblest service.

Now if John was not worthy to "unloose the latchet" ( Matt. xi. 11 ), John, than whom "among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater," where shall we rank ourselves? If he who was equal to, or rather greater than, all the world, [437] (for saith Paul, "the world was not worthy" of them-- Heb. xi. 38 ,) declares himself not worthy to be reckoned even among the meanest of those who should minister unto Him, what shall we say, who are full of ten thousand sins, and are as far from the excellence of John, as earth from heaven.

[4.] He then saith that he himself is not "worthy so much as to unloose the latchet of His shoe"; while the enemies of the truth are mad with such a madness, as to assert [438] that they are worthy to know Him even as He knows Himself. What is worse than such insanity, what more frenzied than such arrogance? Well hath a wise man said, "The beginning of pride is not to know the Lord." [439]

The devil would not have been brought down and become a devil, not being a devil before, had he not been sick of this disease. This it was that cast him out from that confidence, [440] this sent him to the pit of fire, this was the cause of all his woes. For it is enough of itself to destroy every excellence of the soul, whether it find almsgiving, or prayer, or fasting, or anything. For, saith the Evangelist, "That which is highly esteemed among men is impure before the Lord." ( Luke xvi. 15 --not quoted exactly.) Therefore it is not only fornication or adultery that are wont to defile those who practice them, but pride also, and that far more than those vices. Why? Because fornication though it is an unpardonable sin, yet a man may plead the desire; but pride cannot possibly find any cause or pretext of any sort whatever by which to obtain so much as a shadow of excuse; it is nothing but a distortion and most grievous disease of the soul, produced from no other source but folly. For there is nothing more foolish than a proud man, though he be surrounded with wealth, though he possess much of the wisdom of this world, though he be set in royal place, though he bear about with all things that among men appear desirable.

For if the man who is proud of things really good is wretched and miserable, and loses the reward of all those things, must not he who is exalted by things that are nought, and puffs himself up because of a shadow or the flower of the grass, (for such is this world's glory,) be more ridiculous than any, when he does just as some poor needy man might do, pining all his time with hunger, yet if ever he should chance one night to see a dream of good fortune, filled with conceit because of it?

O wretched and miserable! when thy soul is perishing by a most grievous disease, when thou art poor with utter poverty, art thou high-minded because thou hast such and such a number of talents of gold? because thou hast a multitude of slaves and cattle? Yet these are not thine; and if thou dost not believe my words, learn from the experience of those who have gone before [441] thee. And if thou art so drunken, that thou canst not be instructed even from what has befallen others, wait a little, and thou shalt know by what befalls thyself that these things avail thee nothing, when gasping for life, and master not of a single hour, not even of a little moment, thou shalt unwillingly leave them [442] to those who are about thee, and these perhaps those whom thou wouldest not. For many have not been permitted even to give directions concerning them, but have departed suddenly, [443] desiring to enjoy them, but not permitted, dragged from them, and forced to yield them up to others, giving place by compulsion to those to whom they would not. That this be not our case, let us, while we are yet in strength and health, send forward our riches hence to our own city, for thus only and in no other way shall we be able to enjoy them; so shall we lay them up in a place inviolate and safe. For there is nothing, there is nothing there that can take them from us; no death, no attested wills, [444] no successors to inheritances, [445] no false informations, no plottings against us, but he who has departed hence bearing away great wealth with him may enjoy it there for ever. Who then is so wretched as not to desire to revel in riches which are his own throughout? Let us then transfer our wealth, and remove it thither. We shall not need for such a removal asses, or camels, or carriages, or ships, (God hath relieved even us from this difficulty,) but we only want the poor, the lame, the crippled, the infirm. These are entrusted with this transfer, these convey our riches to heaven, these introduce the masters of such wealth as this to the inheritance of goods everlasting. Which may it be that we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[425] e ptoemenoi . [426] al. "these therefore." [427] Morel, "in like manner one may see in Luke, (iii. 16 ,) John saying to those who reasoned concerning him whether he was the Christ, that "One mightier than I cometh," and by his answer again removing such a suspicion." [428] diakrouesthai . [429] e tureuon . [430] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "seest thou how, disguising what they had, they add." [431] hu poskelisai . [432] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "they attempt to involve him in an accusation, compelling him." [433] al. "will ye." [434] ten doxan tou pempsantos auton , G. T. [435] e xeste . [436] "is preferred," E.V. [437] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "for thus Paul speaks of the saints concerning whom he writes, `of whom,' etc." [438] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "boldly speaking out, ( a pauthadiazomenous,) say that, &c." [439] Ecclus. x. 12 , LXX. a nthropou aphistamenou apo tou K. Eng. ver. "when one departeth." [440] parrhesias . [441] or, "received them before." [442] al. "pass them on." [443] a throon . [444] a letheis diathekai . [445] diadochoi kleron .


Also, see links to 600 other Chrysostom Manuscripts:
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/believe/txv/earlychq.htm
/believe/txv/earlycia.htm
/believe/txv/earlycib.htm
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