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 XVII.

John i. 28, 29

"These things were done in Bethany beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

[1.] A great virtue is boldness and freedom of speech, and the making all things second in importance to the confessing of Christ; so great and admirable, that the Only-begotten Son of God proclaims such an one in the presence of the Father. ( Luke xii. 8 .) Yet the recompense is more than just, for thou confessest upon earth, He in heaven, thou in the presence of men, He before the Father and all the angels.

Such an one was John, who regarded not the multitude, nor opinion, nor anything else belonging to men, but trod all this beneath his feet, and proclaimed to all with becoming freedom the things respecting Christ. And therefore the Evangelist marks the very place, to show the boldness of the loud-voiced herald. For it was not in a house, not in a corner, not in the wilderness, but in the midst of the multitude, after that he had occupied Jordan, when all that were baptized by him were present, (for the Jews came upon him as he was baptizing,) there it was that he proclaimed aloud that wonderful confession concerning Christ, full of those sublime and great and mysterious doctrines, and that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe. Wherefore he saith, [446] "These things were done in Bethany," or, as all the more correct copies have it, "in Bethabara." For Bethany was not "beyond Jordan," nor bordering on the wilderness, but somewhere nigh to Jerusalem.

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He marks the places also for another reason. Since he was not about to relate matters of old date, but such as had come to pass but a little time before, he makes those who were present and had beheld, witnesses of his words, and supplies proof from the places themselves. For confident that nothing was added by himself to what was said, but that he simply and with truth described things as they were, he draws a testimony from the places, which, as I said, would be no common demonstration of his veracity.

"The next day he seeth Jesus coming to him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

The Evangelists distributed the periods amongst them; and Matthew having cut short his notice of the time before John the Baptist was bound, hastens to that which follows, while the Evangelist John not only does not cut short this period, but dwells most on it. Matthew, after the return of Jesus from the wilderness, saying nothing of the intermediate circumstances, as what John spake, and what the Jews sent and said, and having cut short all the rest, passes immediately to the prison. "For," saith he, "Jesus having heard" that John was betrayed, "departed thence." ( Matt. xiv. 13 .) But John does not so. He is silent as to the journey into the wilderness, as having been described by Matthew; but he relates what followed the descent from the mountain, and after having gone through many circumstances, adds, "For John was not yet cast into prison." ( c. iii. 24 .)

And wherefore, says one, does Jesus now come to him? why does he come not merely once, but this second time also? For Matthew says that His coming was necessary on account of Baptism: since Jesus adds, that "thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." ( Matt. iii. 15 .) But John says that He came again after Baptism, and declares it in this place, for, "I saw," saith he, "the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him." Wherefore then did He come to John? for He came not casually, but went expressly to him. "John," saith the Evangelist, "seeth Jesus coming unto him." Then wherefore cometh He? In order that since John had baptized Him with many (others), no one might suppose that He had hastened to John for the same reason as the rest to confess sins, and to wash in the river unto repentance. For this He comes, to give John an opportunity of setting this opinion right again, for by saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world," he removes the whole suspicion. For very plain it is that One so pure as to be able to wash away [447] the sins of others, does not come to confess sins, but to give opportunity to that marvelous herald to impress what he had said more definitely on those who had heard his former words, and to add others besides. The word "Behold" is used, because many had been seeking Him by reason of what had been said, and for a long time. For this cause, pointing Him out when present, he said, "Behold," this is He so long sought, this is "the Lamb." He calls Him "Lamb," to remind the Jews of the prophecy of Isaiah, and of the shadow under the law of Moses, that he may the better lead them from the type to the reality. That Lamb of Moses took not at once away the sin of any one; but this took away the sin of all the world; for when it was in danger of perishing, He quickly delivered it from the wrath of God.

Ver. 30 . "This is He of whom I said, He that cometh after me is preferred before me."

[2.] Seest thou here also how he interprets the word "before"? for having called Him "Lamb," and that He "taketh away the sin of the world," then he saith that "He is preferred before me, for He was before me"; declaring that this is the "before," the taking upon Him the sins of the world, "and the baptizing with the Holy Ghost." "For my coming had no farther object than to proclaim the common Benefactor of the world, and to afford the baptism of water; but His was to cleanse all men, and to give them the power of the Comforter." "He is preferred before me," that is to say, has appeared brighter than I, because "He was before me." Let those who have admitted the madness of Paul of Samosata be ashamed when they withstand so manifest a truth.

Ver. 31 . "And I knew Him not," he saith.

Here he renders his testimony free from suspicion, by showing that it was not from human friendship, but had been caused by divine revelation. "I knew Him not," he saith. How then couldest thou be a trustworthy witness? How shalt thou teach others, while thou thyself art ignorant? He did not say "I know Him not," but, "I knew Him not"; so that in this way he would be shown most trustworthy; for why should he have shown favor to one of whom he was ignorant?

"But that He should be made manifest unto Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water."

He then did not need baptism, nor had that laver any other object than to prepare for all others a way to faith on Christ. For he did not say, "that I might cleanse those who are baptized," or, "that I might deliver them from their sins," but, "that He should be made manifest unto lsrael." "And why, tell me, could he not without baptism have preached and brought the multitudes to Him?" But in this way it would not have been by any means easy. For they would not so all have run together, if the preaching had been without the baptism; they would not by the comparison have learned His superiority. For the multitude came together not to hear his words, but for what? To be "baptized, confessing their sins." But when they came, they were taught the matters concerning Christ, and the difference of His baptism. Yet even this of John was of greater dignity than the Jewish, and therefore all ran to it; yet even so it was imperfect.

"How then didst thou know Him?" "By the descent of the Spirit," he saith. But again, lest any one should suppose that he was in need of the Spirit as we are, hear how he removes the suspicion, by showing that the descent of the Spirit was only to declare Christ. For having said, "And I knew Him not," he adds, "But He that sent me to baptize with water the Same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." ( Ver. 33 .)

Seest thou that this was the work of the Spirit, to point out Christ? The testimony of John was indeed not to be suspected, but wishing to make it yet more credible, he leads it up to God and the Holy Spirit. For when John had testified to a thing so great and wonderful, so fit to astonish all his hearers, that He alone took on Him the sins of all the world, and that the greatness of the gift sufficed for so great a ransom, afterwards he proves this assertion. [448] And the proof is that He is the Son of God, and that He needed not baptism, and that the object of the descent of the Spirit was only to make Him known. For it was not in the power of John to give the Spirit, as those who were baptized by him show when they say, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." ( Acts xix. 2 .) In truth, Christ needed not baptism, neither his nor any other; [449] but rather baptism needed the power of Christ. For that which was wanting was the crowning blessing of all, that he who was baptized should be deemed worthy of the Spirit; this free gift [450] then of the Spirit He added when He came.

Ver. 32-34 . "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from the heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."

He puts the "I knew Him not" repeatedly. [451] On what account, and wherefore? He was His kinsman according to the flesh. "Behold," saith the angel, "thy cousin Elisabeth, she also hath received a son." ( Luke i. 36 .) That therefore he might not seem to favor Him because of the relationship, he repeats the "I knew Him not." And this happened with good reason; for he had passed all his time in the wilderness away from his father's house.

How then, if he knew Him not before the descent of the Spirit, and if he then for the first time recognized Him, did he forbid Him before baptism, saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" ( Matt. iii. 14 ), since this was a proof that he knew Him very well. Yet he knew Him not before or for a long time, and with good cause; for the marvels which took place when He was a child, as the circumstances of the Magi and others the like, had happened long before, while John himself was very young, and since much time had elapsed in the interval, He was naturally unknown to all. For had He been known, John would not have said, "That He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing."

[3.] Hence it remains clear to us, that the miracles which they say belong to Christ's childhood, are false, and the inventions of certain who bring them into notice. For if He had begun from His early age to work wonders, neither could John have been ignorant of Him, nor would the multitude have needed a teacher to make Him known. But now he says, that for this he is come, "that He might be made manifest to Israel"; and for this reason he said again, "I have need to be baptized of Thee." Afterwards, as having gained more exact knowledge of Him, he proclaimed Him to the multitude, saying, "This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a Man which is preferred before me." For "He who sent me to baptize with water," and sent me for this end, "that He should be made manifest to Israel," Himself revealed Him even before the descent of the Spirit. Wherefore even before He came, John said, "One cometh after me who is preferred before me." He knew Him not before he came to Jordan and baptized all men, but when He was about to be baptized, then he knew Him; and this from the Father revealing Him to the Prophet, and the Spirit showing Him when He was being baptized to the Jews, for whose sake indeed the descent of the Spirit took place. For that the witness of John might not be despised who said, that "He was before me," and that "He baptizeth with the Spirit," and that "He judgeth the world," the Father utters a Voice proclaiming the Son, and the Spirit descends, directing [452] that Voice to the Head of Jesus. For since one was baptizing, the other receiving baptism, the Spirit comes to correct the idea which some of those present might form, that the words were spoken of John. So that when he says, "I knew Him not," he speaks of former time, not that near to His baptism. Otherwise how could he have forbidden Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee"? How could he have said such words concerning Him?

"But," says one, "how then did not the Jews believe? for it was not John only that saw the Spirit in the likeness of a dove." It was, because, even if they did see, such things require not only the eyes of the body, but more than these, the vision of the understanding, to prevent men from supposing the whole to be a vain illusion. For if when they saw Him working wonders, touching with His own hands the sick and the dead, and so bringing them back to life and health, they were so drunk with malice as to declare the contrary of what they saw; how could they shake off their unbelief by the descent of the Spirit only? And some say, that they did not all see it, but only John and those of them who were better [453] disposed. Because even though it were possible with fleshly eyes to see the Spirit descending as in the likeness of a dove, still not for this was it absolutely necessary that the circumstance should be visible to all. For Zacharias saw many things in a sensible form, as did Daniel and Ezekiel, and had none to share in what they saw; Moses also saw many things such as none other hath seen; nor did all the disciples enjoy [454] the view of the Transfiguration on the mount, nor did they all alike behold Him at the time of the Resurrection. And this Luke plainly shows, when he says, that He showed Himself "to witnesses chosen before of God." ( Acts x. 41 .)

"And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."

Where did he "bear record that this is the Son of God?" he called Him indeed "Lamb," and said that He should "baptize with the Spirit," but nowhere did he say of Him, "Son of God." But the other Evangelists do not write that He said anything after the baptism, but having been silent as to the time intervening, they mention the miracles of Christ which were done after John's captivity, [455] whence we may reasonably conjecture that these and many others are omitted. And this our Evangelist himself has declared, at the end of his narrative. For they were so far from inventing anything great concerning Him, that the things which seem to bring reproach, these they have all with one voice [456] and with all exactness set down, and you will not find one of them omitting one of such circumstances; but of the miracles, part some have left for the others to relate, [457] part all have passed over in silence.

I say not this without cause, but to answer the shamelessness of the heathen. [458] For this is a sufficient proof of their truth-loving disposition, and that they say nothing for favor. And thus as well as in other ways you may arm yourselves for trial of argument [459] with them. But take heed. Strange were it that the physician, or the shoemaker, or the weaver, in short all artists, should be able each to contend correctly for his own art, but that one calling himself Christian should not be able to give a reason for his own faith; yet those things if overlooked bring only loss to men's property, these if neglected destroy our very souls. Yet such is our wretched disposition, that we give all our care to the former, and the things which are necessary, and which are the groundwork [460] of our salvation, as though of little worth, we despise.

[4.] That it is which prevents the heathen from quickly deriding his own error. For when they, though established in a lie, use every means to conceal the shamefulness of their opinions, while we, the servants of the truth, cannot even open our mouths, how can they help condemning the great weakness of our doctrine? how can they help suspecting our religion to be fraud and folly? how shall they not blaspheme Christ as a deceiver, and a cheat, who used the folly of the many to further his fraud? And we are to blame for this blasphemy, because we will not be wakeful in arguments for godliness, but deem these things superfluous, and care only for the things of earth. He who admires a dancer or a charioteer, or one who contends with beasts, uses every exertion and contrivance not to come off worst in any disputes concerning him, and they string together long panegyrics, as they compose their defense against those who find fault with them, and cast sneers without number at their opponents: but when arguments for Christianity are proposed, they all hang their heads, and scratch themselves, and gape, and retire at length the objects of contempt.

Must not this deserve excessive wrath, when Christ is shown to be less honorable in your estimation than a dancer? since you have contrived ten thousand defenses for the things they have done, though more disgraceful than any, but of the miracles of Christ, though they have drawn to Him the world, you cannot bear even to think or care at all. We believe in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the Resurrection of bodies, and in Life everlasting. If now any heathen say, "What is this Father, what this Son, what this Holy Ghost? How do you who say that there are three Gods, charge us with having many Gods?" What will you say? What will you answer? How will you repel the attack of these arguments? But what if when you are silent, the unbeliever should again propose this other question, and ask, "What in a word is resurrection? Shall we rise again in this body? or in another, different from this? If in this, what need that it be dissolved?" What will you answer? And what, if he say, "Why did Christ come now and not in old time? Has it seemed good to Him now to care for men, and did He despise us during all the years that are past?" Or if he ask other questions besides, more than these? for I must not propose many questions, and be silent as to the answers to them, lest, in so doing, I harm the simpler among you. What has been already said is sufficient to shake off your slumbers. Well then, if they ask these questions, and you absolutely cannot even listen to the words, shall we, tell me, suffer trifling punishment only, when we have been the cause of such error to those who sit in darkness? I wished, if you had sufficient leisure, to bring before you all the book of a certain impure heathen philosopher written against us, and that of another of earlier date, that so at least I might have roused you, and led you away from your exceeding slothfulness. For if they were wakeful that they might say these things against us, what pardon can we deserve, if we do not even know how to repel the attacks made upon us? For what purpose have we been brought forward? [461] Dost thou not hear the Apostle say, "Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you"? ( 1 Pet. iii. 15 .) And Paul exhorts in like manner, saying, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." ( Col. iii. 16 .) What do they who are more slothful [462] than drones reply to this? "Blessed is every simple soul," and, "he that walketh simply [463] walketh surely." ( Prov. x. 8 .) For this is the cause of all sorts of evil, that the many do not know how to apply rightly even the testimony of the Scriptures. Thus in this place, the writer does not mean (by "simple") the man who is foolish, or who knows nothing, but him who is free from wickedness, who is no evil-doer, who is wise. If it were not so, it would have been useless to say, [464] "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." ( Matt. x. 16 .) But why should I name these things, when the discourse comes in quite out of place? For besides the things already mentioned, other matters are not right with us, those, I mean, which concern our life and conversation. We are in every way wretched and ridiculous, ever ready to find fault with each other, but slow to correct in ourselves things for which we blame and accuse our neighbor. Wherefore I exhort you, that now at least we attend to ourselves, and stop not at the finding fault, (this is not enough to appease God;) but that we show forth a change in every way most excellent, in order that having lived here to the glory of God, we may enjoy the glory to come; which may it come to pass that we will all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[446] al. "how then doth he this? adding and saying." [447] al. "to redeem." [448] a pophasin . [449] or, "of any other man." [450] choregia . [451] sunechos . [452] e pelkon . [453] eugnomonesteron . [454] al. "were thought worthy." [455] sullepsin . [456] al. "mind." [457] al. "have made room for others." [458] lit. "Greeks." [459] logon hupothesei . [460] hu pothesis . [461] parechthemen . [462] al. "irrational." [463] "uprightly," E.V. [464] al. "to hear."


Homily XVIII.

John i. 35-37

"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."

[1.] The nature of man is somehow a thing slothful, and easily declining to perdition, not by reason of the constitution of the nature itself, but by reason of that sloth which is of deliberate choice. Wherefore it needs much reminding. And for this cause Paul, writing to the Philippians, said, "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe." ( Philip. iii. 1 .)

The earth when it has once received the seed, straightway gives forth its fruits, and needs not a second sowing; but with our souls it is not so, and one must be content, after having sown many times, and manifested much carefulness, to be able once to receive fruit. For in the first place, what is said settles in the mind with difficulty, because the ground is very hard, and entangled with thorns innumerable, and there are many which lay plots, and carry away the seed; afterwards, when it has been fixed and has taken root, it still needs the same attention, that it may come to maturity, and having done so may remain uninjured, and take no harm from any. For in the case of seeds, when the ear is fully formed and has gained its proper strength, it easily despises rust, and drought, and every other thing; but it is not so with doctrines; in their case after all the work has been fully done, one storm and flood often comes on, and either by the attack of unpleasant circumstances, or by the plots of men skilled to deceive, or by various other temptations brought against them, brings them to ruin.

I have not said this without cause, but that when you hear John repeating the same words, you may not condemn him for vain talking; [465] nor deem him impertinent or wearisome. He desired to have been heard by once speaking, but because not many gave heed to what was spoken from the first, by reason of deep sleep, he again rouses them by this second call. Now observe; he had said, "He that cometh after me, is preferred before me": and that "I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe"; and that "He baptizeth with the Holy Ghost, and with fire"; and that he "saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and it abode upon Him," and he "bare record that this is the Son of God." No one gave heed, nor asked, nor said, "Why sayest thou these things? in whose behalf? for what reason?" Again he had said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"; yet not even so did he touch their insensibility. Therefore, after this he is compelled to repeat the same words again, as if softening by tillage [466] some hard and stubborn soil, and by his word as by a [467] plow, disturbing the mind which had hardened into clods, [468] so as to put in the seed deep. For this reason he does not make his discourse a long one either; because he desired one thing only, to bring them over and join them to Christ. He knew that as soon as they had received this saying, and had been persuaded, they would not afterwards need one to bear witness unto Him. As also it came to pass. For, if the Samaritans could say to the woman after hearing Him, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world," the disciples would be much more quickly subdued, [469] as was the case. For when they had come and heard Him but one evening, they returned no more to John, but were so nailed to Him, that they took upon them the ministry of John, and themselves proclaimed Him. For, saith the Evangelist, "He findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." And observe, I pray you, this, how, when he said, "He that cometh after me is preferred before me"; and that, "I am not worthy to unloose the lachet of His shoe"; he caught no one, but when he spoke of the Dispensation, and lowered his discourse to a humbler tone, then the disciples followed Him.

And we may remark this, not only in the instance of the disciples, but that the many are not so much attracted when some great and sublime thing is said concerning God, as when some act of graciousness and lovingkindness, something pertaining to the salvation of the hearers, is spoken of. They heard that "He taketh away the sin of the world," and straightway they ran to Him. For, said they, "if it is possible to wash away [470] the charges that lie against us, why do we delay? here is One who will deliver us without labor of ours. Is it not extreme folly to put off accepting the Gift?" Let those hear who are Catechumens, and are putting off their salvation [471] to their latest breath.

"Again," saith the Evangelist, "John stood, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God." Christ utters no word, His messenger saith all. So it is with a bridegroom. He saith not for a while anything to the bride, but is there in silence, while some show him to the bride, and others give her into his hands; she merely appears, and he departs not having taken her himself, but when he has received her from another who gives her to him. And when he has received her thus given, he so disposes her, that she no more remembers those who betrothed her. So it was with Christ. He came to join to Himself the Church; He said nothing, but merely came. It was His friend, John, who put into His the bride's right hand, when by his discourses he gave into His hand the souls of men. He having received them, afterwards so disposed them, that they departed no more to John who had committed them to Him.

[2.] And here we may remark, not this only, but something besides. As at a marriage the maiden goes not to the bridegroom, but he hastens to her, though he be a king's son, and though he be about to espouse some poor and abject person, or even a servant, so it was here. Man's nature did not go up, [472] but contemptible and poor as it was, He came to it, and when the marriage had taken place, He suffered it no longer to tarry here, but having taken it to Himself, transported it to the house of His Father.

"Why then doth not John take his disciples apart, and converse with them on these matters, and so deliver them over to Christ, instead of saying publicly to them in common with all the people, `Behold the Lamb of God'?" That it may not seem to be a matter of arrangement; for had they gone away from him to Christ after having been privately admonished by him, and as though to do him a favor, they would perhaps soon have started away again; but now, having taken upon them the following Him, from teaching which had been general, they afterwards remained His firm disciples, as not having followed Him in order to gratify the teacher, but as looking purely to their own advantage.

The Prophets and Apostles then all preached Him absent; the Prophets before His coming according to the flesh, the Apostles after He was taken up; John alone proclaimed Him present. Wherefore he calls himself the "friend of the Bridegroom" ( c. iii. 29 ), since he alone was present at the marriage, he it was that did and accomplished all, he made a beginning of the work. And "looking upon Jesus walking, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God." Not by voice alone, but with his eyes also he bore witness to, and expressed his admiration of, Christ, rejoicing and glorying. Nor does he for awhile address any [473] word of exhortation to his followers, but only shows wonder and astonishment at Him who was present, and declares to all the Gift which He came to give, and the manner of purification. For "the Lamb" declares both these things. And he said not, "Who shall take," or "Who hath taken"; but, "Who taketh away the sins of the world"; because this He ever doth. He took them not then only when He suffered, but from that time even to the present doth He take them away, not being repeatedly [474] crucified, (for He offered One Sacrifice for sins,) but by that One continually purging them. As then The Word shows us His pre-eminence, [475] and The Son His superiority in comparison with others, so "The Lamb, The Christ, that Prophet, the True Light, the Good Shepherd," and whatever other names are applied to Him with the addition of the article, mark a great difference. For there were many "Lambs," and "Prophets," and "Christs," and "sons," but from all these John separates Him by a wide interval. And this he secured not by the article only, but by the addition of "Only-Begotten"; for He had nothing in common with the creation.

If it seems to any unseasonable that these things should be spoken at "the tenth hour" (that was the time of day, for he says, "It was about the tenth hour"--( v. 39 ), such an one seems to me to be much mistaken. In the case indeed of the many, and those who serve the flesh, the season after feasting is not very suitable for any matters of pressing moment, because their hearts [476] are burdened with meats: but here was a man who did not even partake of common food, and who at evening was as sober as we are at morning, (or rather much more so; for often the remains of our evening food that are left within us, fill our souls with imaginations, but he loaded his vessel with none of these things;) he with good reason spake late in the evening of these matters. Besides, he was tarrying in the wilderness by Jordan, where all came to his baptism with great fear, and caring little at that time for the things of this life; as also they continued with Christ three days, and had nothing to eat. ( Matt. xv. 32 .) For this is the part of a zealous herald and a careful husbandman, not to desist before he see that the planted seed has got a firm hold. [477] "Why then did he not go about all the parts of Judæa preaching Christ, rather than stand by the river waiting for Him to come, that he might point Him out when He came?" Because he wished that this should be effected by His works; his own object being in the mean time only to make Him known, and to persuade some to hear of eternal life. But to Him he leaves the greater testimony, that of works, as also He saith, "I receive not testimony of men. The works which My Father hath given Me, the same bear witness of Me." ( c. v. 34, 36 .) Observe how much more effectual this was; for when he had thrown in a little spark, at once the blaze rose on high. For they who before had not even given heed to his words, afterwards say, "All things which John spake were true." ( c. x. 41 .)

[3.] Besides, if he had gone about saying these things, what was being done would have seemed to be done from some human motive, and the preaching to be full of suspicion. [478]

"And the two disciples heard him, and followed Jesus."

Yet John had other disciples, but they not only did not "follow Jesus," but were even jealously disposed towards him. "Rabbi," says one, "He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come unto him." ( c. iii. 26 .) And again [479] they appear bringing a charge against him; "Why do we fast, but thy disciples fast not?" ( Matt. ix. 14 .) But those who were better than the rest had no such feeling, but heard, and at once followed; followed, not as despising their teacher, but as being most fully persuaded by him, and producing the strongest proof that they acted thus from a right judgment of his reasonings. For they did not do so by his advice, that might have appeared suspicious; but when he merely foretold what was to come to pass, that "He should baptize with the Holy Ghost, [and with fire,]" they followed. They did not then desert their teacher, but rather desired to learn what Christ brought with Him more than John. And observe zeal combined with modesty. They did not at once approach and question Jesus on necessary and most important matters, nor were they desirous to converse with Him publicly, while all were present, at once and in an off-hand manner, but privately; for they knew that the words of their teacher proceeded not from humility, but from truth.

Ver. 40 . "One of the two who heard, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother."

Wherefore then has he not made known the name of the other also? Some say, because it was the writer himself that followed; others, not so, but that he was not one of the distinguished disciples; it behooved not therefore to say more than was necessary. For what would it have advantaged us to learn his name, when the writer does not mention the names even of the seventy-two? St. Paul also did the same. [480] "We have sent," says he, "with him the brother," (who has often in many things been forward,) "whose praise is in the Gospel." ( 2 Cor. viii. 18 .) Moreover, he mentions Andrew for another reason. What is this? It is, that when you are informed that Simon having in company with him heard, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" ( Matt. iv. 19 ), was not perplexed at so strange a promise, you may learn that his brother had already laid down within him the beginnings of the faith.

Ver. 38 . "Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?"

Hence we are taught, that God does not prevent our wills by His gifts, but that when we begin, when we provide the being willing, then He gives us many opportunities of salvation. "What seek ye?" How is this? He who knoweth the hearts of men, who dwelleth [481] in our thoughts, doth He ask? He doth; not that He may be informed; how could that be? but that by the question He may make them more familiar, and impart to them greater boldness, and show them that they are worthy to hear Him; for it was probable that they would blush and be afraid, as being unknown to him, and as having heard such accounts of Him from the testimony of their teacher. Therefore to remove all this, their shame and their fear, he questions them, and would not let them come all the way to the house in silence. Yet the event would have been the same had He not questioned them; they would have remained by following Him, and walking in His steps would have reached His dwelling. Why then did He ask? To effect that which I said, to calm their minds, [482] yet disturbed with shame and anxiety, and to give them confidence.

Nor was it by their following only that they showed their earnest desire, but by their question also: for when they had not as yet learned or even heard anything from Him, they call Him, "Master"; thrusting themselves as it were among His disciples, and declaring what was the cause of their following, that they might hear somewhat profitable. Observe their wisdom also. They did not say, "Teach us of Thy doctrines, or some other thing that we need to know"; but what? "Where dwellest Thou?" Because, as I before said, they wished in quiet to say somewhat to Him, and to hear somewhat from Him, and to learn. Therefore they did not defer the matter, nor say, "We will come to-morrow by all means, and hear thee speak in public"; but showed the great eagerness they had to hear Him, by not being turned back even by the hour, for the sun was already near its setting, ("it was," saith John, "about the tenth hour.") And therefore Christ does not tell them the marks of His abode, nor its situation, but rather induces them to follow Him by showing them that He had accepted them. For this reason He did not say anything of this kind to them, "It is an unseasonable time now for you to enter into the house, to-morrow you shall hear if you have any wish, return home now"; [483] but converses with them as with friends, and those who had long been with Him.

How then saith He in another place, "But the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" ( Luke ix. 58 ), while here He saith, "Come and see" ( v. 39 ) where I abide? Because the expression "hath not where to lay His head," signifies that He had no dwelling place of His own, not that He did not abide in a house. And this too is the meaning of the comparison. [484] The Evangelist has mentioned that "they abode with Him that day," but has not added wherefore, because the reason was plain; for from no other motive did they follow Christ, and He draw them to Him, but only that they might have instruction; and this they enjoyed so abundantly and eagerly even in a single night, that they both proceeded straightway to the capture [485] of others.

[4.] Let us then also learn hence to consider all things secondary [486] to the hearing the word of God, and to deem no season unseasonable, and, though a man may even have to go into another person's house, and being a person unknown to make himself known to great men, though it be late in the day, or at any time whatever, never to neglect this traffic. Let food and baths and dinners and the other things of this life have their appointed time; but let the teaching of heavenly philosophy have no separate time, let every season belong to it. For Paul saith, "In season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort" ( 2 Tim. iv. 2 ); and the Prophet too saith, [487] "In His law will he meditate day and night" ( Ps. i. 3 ); and Moses commanded the Jews to do this always. For the things of this life, baths, I mean, and dinners, even if they are necessary, yet being continually repeated, render the body feeble; [488] but the teaching of the soul the more it is prolonged, the stronger it renders the soul which receives it. But now we portion out all our time for trifles and unprofitable silly talking, and we sit together idly during the morning and afternoon, [489] midday and evening besides, and we have appointed places for this; but hearing the divine doctrines twice or thrice in the week we become sick, [490] and thoroughly sated. What is the reason? We are in a bad state of soul; its faculty of desiring and reaching after these things we have relaxed altogether. And therefore it is not strong enough to have an appetite for spiritual food. And this among others is a great proof of weakness, not to hunger nor thirst, but to be disinclined to both. Now if this, when it takes place in our bodies, is a sure sign of grievous disease, and productive of weakness, much more is it so in the soul.

"How then," says one, "shall we be able to renew it, thus fallen and relaxed, to strength? what doing, what saying?" By applying ourselves to the divine words of the prophets, of the Apostles, of the Gospels, and all the others; then we shall know that it is far better to feed on these than on impure food, for so we must term our unseasonable idle talking and assemblies. For which is best, tell me, to converse on things relating to the market, or things in the law courts, or in the camp, or on things in heaven, and on what shall be after our departure hence? Which is best, to talk about our neighbor and our neighbor's affairs, to busy ourselves in what belongs to other people, or to enquire into the things of angels, and into matters which concern ourselves? For a neighbor's affairs are not thine at all; but heavenly things are thine. "But," says some one, "a man may by once speaking finish these subjects altogether." Why do you not think this in matters on which you converse uselessly and idly, why though ye waste your lives on this have ye never exhausted the subject? And I have not yet named what is far more vile than this. These are the things about which the better sort converse one with the other; but the more indifferent and careless carry about in their talk players and dancers and charioteers, defiling men's ears, corrupting their souls, and driving their nature into mad excesses by these narratives, and by means of this discourse introducing every kind of wickedness into their own imagination. For as soon as the tongue has uttered the name of the dancer, immediately the soul has figured to itself his looks, his hair, his delicate clothing, and himself more effeminate than all. Another again fans the flame in another way, by introducing some harlot into the conversation, with her words, and attitudes, and glances, her languishing looks and twisted locks, the smoothness of her cheeks, and her painted eyelids. [491] Were you not somewhat affected when I gave this description? Yet be not ashamed, nor blush, for the very necessity of nature requires this, and so disposes the soul according as the tendency of what is said may be. But if, when it is I that speak, you, standing in the church, and at a distance from these things, were somewhat affected at the hearing, consider how it is likely that they are disposed, who sit in the theater itself, who are totally free from dread, who are absent from this venerable and awful assembly, who both see and hear those things with much shamelessness. "And why then," perhaps one of those who heed not may say, "if the necessity of nature so disposes the soul, do you let go that, and blame us?" Because, to be softened [492] when one hears these things, is nature's work; but to hear them is not a fault of nature, but of deliberate choice. For so he who meddles with fire must needs be injured, so wills the weakness of our nature; yet nature does not therefore draw us to the fire and to the injury thence arising; this can be only from deliberate perversity. I beseech you, therefore, to remove and correct this fault, that you may not of your own accord cast yourself down the precipice, nor thrust yourselves into the pits of wickedness, nor run of yourselves to the blaze, lest we place ourselves in jeopardy of the fire prepared for the devil. May it come to pass, that we all being delivered both from this fire and from that, may go to the very bosom of Abraham, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[465] al. "want of taste." [466] neosei . [467] al. "a kind of " [468] pepilemenen . [469] Morel and ms. in Bodleian, "much more would the disciples have been thus affected, and when they had come would have been subdued by His words." [470] al. "to release ourselves from." [471] i.e. their baptism. [472] al. "depart." [473] al. "even any." [474] a ei . [475] to exaireton . [476] or, "stomachs." [477] al. "is retained." [478] Morel. reads: kai hupopsias en meta to kerugma loipon . [479] al. "these same." [480] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "this also may be seen with Paul." [481] e ubateuon . [482] logismon . [483] al. "for the present." [484] i.e. with the foxes and birds. [485] al. "the door." [486] parerga . [487] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "and David also glances at this, saying." [488] e xitelon . [489] deilen . [490] nautiomen . [491] hu pographas . [492] malattesthai .


Homily XIX.

John i. 41, 42

" He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus."

[1.] When God in the beginning made man, He did not suffer him to be alone, but gave him woman for a helpmate, and made them to dwell together, knowing that great advantage would result from this companionship. What though the woman did not rightly employ this benefit? still if any one make himself fully acquainted with the nature of the matter, he will see, that to the wise great advantage arises from this dwelling together; not in the cause of wife or husband only, but if brothers do this, they also shall enjoy the benefit. Wherefore the Prophet hath said, "What is good, what is pleasant, but that brethren should dwell together?" ( Ps. cxxxiii. 1 , LXX.) And Paul exhorted not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. ( Heb. x. 25 .) In this it is that we differ from beasts, for this we have built cities, and markets, and houses, that we may be united one with another, not in the place of our dwelling only, but by the bond of love. For since our nature came imperfect [493] from Him who made it, and is not self-sufficient, [494] God, for our advantage, ordained that the want hence existing should be corrected by the assistance arising from mutual intercourse; so that what was lacking in one should be supplied by another, [495] and the defective nature thus be rendered self-sufficient; as, for instance, that though made mortal, [496] it should by succession for a long time maintain immortality. I might have gone into this argument at greater length, to show what advantages arise to those who come together from genuine and pure [497] intercourse with each other: but there is another thing which presses now, that on account of which we have made these remarks.

Andrew, after having tarried with Jesus and learned what He did, kept not the treasure to himself, but hastens and runs quickly to his brother, to impart to him of the good things which he had received. [498] But wherefore has not John said on what matters Christ conversed with them? Whence is it clear that it was for this that they "abode with Him"? [499] It was proved by us the other day; but we may learn it from what has been read today as well. Observe what Andrew says to his brother; "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." You see how, as far as he had learned in a short time, he showed [500] the wisdom of the teacher who persuaded them, and their own zeal, who cared for these things long ago, [501] and from the beginning. For this word, "we have found," is the expression of a soul which travails [502] for His presence, and looks for His coming from above, and is made overjoyed when the looked-for thing has happened, [503] and hastens to impart to others the good tidings. This is the part of brotherly affection, of natural friendship, of a sincere disposition, to be eager to stretch out the hand to each other in spiritual things. Hear him besides speak with the addition of the article; for he does not say "Messias," but "the Messias"; thus they were expecting some one Christ, [504] having nothing in common with the others. And behold, I beg of you, the mind of Peter obedient and tractable from the very beginning; he ran to Him without any delay; "He brought him," saith St. John, "to Jesus." Yet let no one blame his easy temper if he received the word without much questioning, because it is probable that his brother had told him these things more exactly and at length; but the Evangelists from their care for conciseness constantly cut many things short. Besides, it is not said absolutely that "he believed," but that "he brought him to Jesus," to give him up for the future to Him, so that from Him he might learn all; for the other disciple also was with him, and contributed to this. And if John the Baptist, when he had said that He was "the Lamb," and that He "baptized with the Spirit," gave them over to learn the clearer doctrine concerning this thing from Him, much more would Andrew have done this, not deeming him self sufficient to declare the whole, but drawing him to the very fount of light with so much zeal and joy, that the other [505] neither deferred nor delayed at all. [506]

Ver. 42 . "And when Jesus beheld him," saith the Evangelist, "He said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone."

[2.] He begins from this time forth to reveal the things belonging to His Divinity, and to open It out little by little by predictions. So He did in the case of Nathaniel and the Samaritan woman. For prophecies bring men over not less than miracles; and are free from the appearance of boasting. Miracles may possibly be slandered among foolish men, ("He casteth out devils," said they, "by Beelzebub"-- Matt. xii. 24 ), but nothing of the kind has ever been said of prophecy. Now in the case of Nathaniel and Simon He used this method of teaching, but with Andrew and Philip He did not so. Why was this? Because those [507] (two) had the testimony of John, no small preparation, and Philip received a credible evidence of faith, when he saw those who had been present.

"Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas." By the present, the future is guaranteed; for it is clear that He who named Peter's father foreknew the future also. And the prediction is attended with praise; but the object was not to flatter, but to foretell something future. Hear [508] at least in the case of the Samaritan woman, how He utters a prediction with severe reproofs; [509] "Thou hast had," he saith, "five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." ( c. iv. 18 .) So also His Father makes great account of prophecy, when He sets Himself against the honor paid to idols: "Let them declare to you," saith He, "what shall come upon you" ( Isa. xlvii. 13 ); and again, "I have declared, and have saved, and there was no foreign God amongst you" ( Isa. xliii. 12 , LXX.); and He brings this forward through all prophecy. Because prophecy is especially the work of God, which devils cannot even imitate, though they strive exceedingly. For in the case of miracles there may be delusion; but exactly to foretell the future belongs to that pure Nature alone. Or if devils ever have done so, it was by deceiving the simpler sort; whence their oracles are always easily detected.

But Peter makes no reply to these words; as yet he knew nothing clearly, but still was learning. And observe, that not even the prediction is fully set forth; for Jesus did not say, "I will change thy name to Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church," but, "Thou shalt be called Cephas." The former speech would have expressed too great authority [510] and power; for Christ does not immediately nor at first declare all His power, but speaks for a while in a humbler tone; and so, when He had given the proof of His Divinity, He puts it more authoritatively, saying, [511] "Blessed art thou, Simon, because My Father hath revealed it to thee"; and again, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church." ( Matt. xvi. 17, 18 .) Him therefore He so named, and James and his brother He called "sons of thunder." ( Mark iii. 17 .) Why then doth He this? To show that it was He who gave the old covenant, that it was He who altered names, who called Abram "Abraham," and Sarai "Sarah," and Jacob "Israel." To many he assigned names even from their birth, as to Isaac, and Samson, and to those in Isaiah and Hosea ( Isa. viii. 3; Hos. i. 4, 6, 9 ); but to others He gave them after they had been named by their parents, as to those we have mentioned, and to Joshua the son of Nun. It was also a custom of the Ancients to give names from things, which in fact Leah also has done; [512] and this takes place not without cause, but in order that men may have the appellation to remind them of the goodness of God, that a perpetual memory of the prophecy conveyed by the names may sound in the ears of those who receive it. Thus too He named John early, [513] because they whose virtue was to shine forth from their early youth, from that time received their names; while to those who were to become great [514] at a later period, the title also was given later.

[3.] But then they received each a different name, we now have all one name, that which is greater than any, being called [515] "Christians," and "sons of God," and (His) "friends," and (His) "Body." For the very term itself is able more than all those others to rouse us, and make us more zealous [516] for the practice of virtue. Let us not then act unworthily of the honor belonging to the title, considering [517] the excess of our dignity, we who are called Christ's; for so Paul hath named us. Let us bear in mind and respect the grandeur of the appellation. ( 1 Cor. iii. 23 .) For if one who is said to be descended from some famous general, or one otherwise distinguished, is proud to be called this or that man's son, and deems the name a great honor, and strives in every way so as not to affix, by remissness of his own, reproach to him after whom he is called; shall not we who are called after the name, not of a general, nor any of the princes upon earth, nor Angel, nor Archangel, nor Seraphim, but of the King of these Himself, shall not we freely give even our very life, so as not to insult Him who has honored us? Know ye not what honor the royal bands of shield-bearers and spearmen that are about the king enjoy? So let us who have been deemed worthy to be near Him, and much closer, and as much nearer than those just named, as the body is closer to the head than they, let us, I say, use every means to be imitators of Christ.

What then saith Christ? "The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." ( Luke ix. 58 .) Now if I demand this of you, it will seem perhaps to most of you grievous and burdensome; because therefore of your infirmity I speak not of [518] such perfection, but desire you not to be nailed to riches; and as I, because of the infirmity of the many, retire somewhat from (demanding) the excess of virtue, I desire that you do so and much more on the side of vice. I blame not those who have houses, and lands, and wealth, and servants, but wish them to possess [519] these things in a safe and becoming way. And what is "a becoming way"? As masters, not as slaves; so that they rule them, be not ruled by them; that they use, not abuse them. This is why they are called, "things to be used," [520] that we may employ them on necessary services, not hoard them up; this is a domestic's office, that a master's; it is for the slave to keep them, but for the lord and one who has great authority to expend. Thou didst not receive thy wealth to bury, but to distribute. Had God desired riches to be hoarded, He would not have given them to men, but would have let them remain as they were in the earth; but because He wishes them to be spent, therefore He has permitted us to have them, that we may impart them to each other. And if we keep them to ourselves, we are no longer masters of them. But if you wish to make them greater and therefore keep them shut up, even in this case the best plan of all is to scatter and distribute them in all directions; because there can be no revenue without an outlay, no wealth without expenditure. One may see that it is so even in worldly matters. So it is with the merchant, so with the husbandman, who put forth the one his wealth, the other his seed; the one sails the sea to disperse his wares, the other labors all the year putting in and tending his seed. But here there is no need of any one of these things, neither to equip a vessel, nor to yoke oxen, nor to plough land, nor to be anxious about uncertain weather, nor to dread a fall of hail; here are neither waves nor rocks; this voyage and this sowing needs one thing only, that we cast forth our possessions; all the rest will that Husbandman do, of whom Christ saith, "My Father is the Husbandman." ( c. xv. 1 .) Is it not then absurd to be sluggish and slothful where we may gain all without labor, and where there are many toils and many [521] troubles and cares, and after all, an uncertain hope, there to display all eagerness? Let us not, I beseech you, let us not be to such a degree senseless about our own salvation, but let us leave the more troublesome task, and run to that which is most easy and more profitable, that we may obtain also the good things that are to come; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy and quickening Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[493] e ndees . [494] autarkes . [495] Ben. Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read the passage thus: "For this cause also marriage is arranged, in order that what is wanting," &c. [496] kathaper oun kai thneten genomenen . Ben. and ms. in Bodl. read, ho s auten echein kai th. g . [497] eilikrinous . [498] al. "shared." [499] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "conversed with them, when they straightway followed and abode with Him." [500] Ben. Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "he showed hence, for he both establishes the wisdom," &c. [501] a nothen . [502] o dinouses . [503] al. "has appeared." [504] Anointed one. [505] e keinon . [506] to tuchon . [507] i.e. those mentioned above, v. 40 , who were present when St. John Baptist gave his testimony, one of whom was Andrew. [508] al. "consider." [509] al. "reproving with earnestness." [510] authentias . [511] al. "And I say unto thee, `Thou art Simon, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone.'" [512] ho per depou kai Elias pepoieke , and there are no various readings. Savile has in the margin ho per oun kai Elia . We may venture to read " he Leia ," as he praises her for this, Hom. lvi. on Genesis. "Observe how she gave names to those she bore, not lightly nor at random." [513] a nothen . [514] e pididonai . [515] al. "the being called." [516] al. "more ready." [517] al. "consider at least." [518] a phiemi . [519] al. "to use." [520] chremata . [521] al. "more."


Homily XX.

John i. 43, 44

"The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter."

[1.] " To every careful thinker there is a gain" [522] ( Prov. xiv. 23 , LXX.), saith the proverb; and Christ implied more than this, when He said, "He that seeketh findeth." ( Matt. vii. 8 .) Wherefore it does not occur to me any more to wonder how Philip followed Christ. Andrew was persuaded when he had heard from John, and Peter the same from Andrew, but Philip not having learned anything from any but Christ who said to him only this, "Follow Me," straightway obeyed, and went not back, but even became a preacher to others. For he ran to Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write." Seest thou what a thoughtful [523] mind he had, how assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, and expected the Advent? for the expression, "we have found," belongs always to those who are in some way seeking. "The day following Jesus went forth into Galilee." Before any had joined Him, He called no one; and He acted thus not without cause, but according to his own wisdom and intelligence. For if, when no one came to Him spontaneously, He had Himself drawn them, they might perhaps have started away; but now, having chosen this of themselves, they afterwards remained firm. He calls Philip, one who was better acquainted with Him; for he, as having been born and bred in Galilee, knew Him more than others. Having then taken the disciples, He next goes to the capture of the others, and draws to Him Philip and Nathanael. Now in the case of Nathanael this was not so wonderful, because the fame of Jesus had gone forth into all Syria. ( Matt. iv. 24 .) But the wonderful thing was respecting Peter and James and Philip, that they believed, not only before the miracles, but that they did so being of Galilee, out of which "ariseth no prophet," nor "can any good thing come"; for the Galilæans were somehow of a more boorish and dull disposition than others; but even in this Christ displayed forth His power, by selecting from a land which bore no fruit His choicest disciples. It is then probable that Philip having seen Peter and Andrew, and having heard what John had said, followed; and it is probable also that the voice of Christ wrought in him somewhat; for He knew those who would be serviceable. But all these points the Evangelist cuts short. That Christ should come, he knew; that this was Christ, he knew not, and this I say that he heard either from Peter or John. But John mentions his village also, that you may learn that "God hath chosen the weak things of the world." ( 1 Cor. i. 27 .)

Ver. 45 . "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

He says this, to make his preaching credible, which it must be if it rests on Moses and the Prophets besides, and by this to abash his hearer. For since Nathanael was an exact [524] man, and one who viewed all things with truth, as Christ also testified and the event showed, Philip with reason refers him to Moses and the Prophets, that so he might receive Him who was preached. And he not troubled though he called Him "the son of Joseph"; for still he was supposed to be his son. "And whence, O Philip, is it plain that this is He? What proof dost thou mention to us? for it is not enough merely to assert this. What sign hast thou seen, what miracle? Not without danger is it to believe without cause in such matters. What proof then hast thou?" "The same as Andrew," he replies; for he though unable to produce the wealth which he had found, or to describe his treasure in words, when he had discovered it, led his brother to it. So too did Philip. How this is the Christ, and how the prophets proclaimed Him beforehand, he said not; but he draws him to Jesus, as knowing that he would not afterwards fall off, if he should once taste His words and teaching.

Ver. 46, 47 . "And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."

He praises and approves the man, because he had said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" and yet he ought to have been blamed. Surely not; for the words are not those of an unbeliever, nor deserving blame, but praise. "How so, and in what way?" Because Nathanael had considered the writings of the Prophets more than Philip. For he had heard from the Scriptures, that Christ must come from Bethlehem, and from the village in which David was. This belief at least prevailed among the Jews, and the Prophet had proclaimed it of old, saying, "And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall feed [525] My people Israel." ( Matt. ii. 6; Mic. v. 2 .) And so when he heard that He was "from Nazareth," he was confounded, and doubted, not finding the announcement of Philip to agree with the prediction of the Prophet.

But observe his wisdom and candor even in his doubting. He did not at once say, "Philip, thou deceivest me, and speakest falsely, I believe thee not, I will not come; I have learned from the prophets that Christ must come from Bethlehem, thou sayest `from Nazareth'; therefore this is not that Christ." He said nothing like this; but what does he? He goes to Him himself; showing, by not admitting that Christ was "of Nazareth," his accuracy respecting the Scriptures, and a character not easily deceived; and by not rejecting him who brought the tidings, the great desire which he felt for the coming of Christ. For he thought within himself that Philip was probably mistaken about the place.

[2.] And observe, I pray you, his manner of declining, how gentle he has made it, and in the form of a question. For he said not, "Galilee produces no good"; but how said he? "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip also was very prudent; for he is not as one perplexed, angry, and annoyed, but perseveres, wishing to bring over the [526] man, and manifesting to us from the first of his preaching [527] the firmness [528] which becomes an Apostle. Wherefore also Christ saith, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." So that there is such a person as a false Israelite; but this is not such an one; for his judgment, Christ saith, is impartial, he speaks nothing from favor, or from ill-feeling. Yet the Jews, when they were asked where Christ should be born, replied, "In Bethlehem" ( Matt. ii. 5 ), and produced the evidence, saying, "And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah." ( Mic. v. 2 .) Before they had seen Him they bore this witness, but when they saw Him in their malice they concealed the testimony, saying, "But as for this fellow, we know not whence He is." ( c. ix. 29 .) Nathanael did not so, but continued to retain the opinion which he had from the beginning, that He was not "of Nazareth."

How then do the prophets call Him a Nazarene? From His being brought up and abiding there. And He omits to say, "I am not `of Nazareth,' as Philip hath told thee, but of Bethlehem," that He may not at once make the account seem questionable; and besides this, because, even if He had gained belief, He would not have given sufficient proof that He was the Christ. For what hindered Him without being Christ, from being of Bethlehem, like the others who were born there? This then He omits; but He does that which has most power to bring him over, for He shows that He was present when they were conversing. For when Nathanael had said,

Ver. 48 . "Whence knowest Thou me?" He replies, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee."

Observe a man firm and steady. [529] When Christ had said, "Behold an Israelite indeed," he was not made vain by this approbation, he ran not after this open praise, but continues seeking and searching more exactly, and desires to learn something certain. He still enquired as of a man, [530] but Jesus answered as God. For He said, "I have known thee from the first," [531] (him and the candor [532] of his character, [533] this He knew not as a man, from having closely followed him, but as God from the first,) "and but now I saw thee by the fig-tree"; when there was no one present there but only Philip and Nathanael who said all these things in private. It is mentioned, that having seen him afar off, He said, "Behold an Israelite indeed"; to show, [534] that before Philip came near, Christ spoke these words, that the testimony might not be suspected. For this reason also He named the time, the place, and the tree; because if He had only said, "Before Philip came to thee, I saw thee," He might have been suspected of having sent him, and of saying nothing wonderful; but now, by mentioning both the place where he was when addressed by Philip, and the name of the tree, and the time of the conversation, He showed that His foreknowledge [535] was unquestionable.

And He did not merely show to him His foreknowledge, but instructed him also in another way. For He brought him to a recollection of what they then had said; as, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" And it was most especially on this account that Nathanael received Him, because when he had uttered these words, He did not condemn, but praised and approved him. Therefore he was assured that this was indeed the Christ, both from His foreknowledge, and from His having exactly searched out his sentiments, which was the act of One who would show that He knew what was in his mind; and besides, from His not having blamed, but rather praised him when he had seemed to speak against Himself. He said then, that Philip had "called" him; but what Philip had said to him or he to Philip, He omitted, leaving it to his own conscience, and not desiring farther to rebuke him.

[3.] Was it then only "before Philip called him" that He "saw" him? did He not see him before this with His sleepless eye? He saw him, and none could gainsay it; but this is what it was needful to say at the time. And what did Nathanael? When he had received an unquestionable proof of His foreknowledge, he hastened to confess Him, showing by his previous delay his caution, [536] and his fairness by his assent afterwards. For, said the Evangelist,

Ver. 49 . "He answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel:"

Seest thou how his soul is filled at once with exceeding joy, and embraces Jesus with words? "Thou art," saith he, "that expected, that sought-for One." Seest thou how he is amazed, how he marvels? how he leaps and dances with delight?

So ought we also to rejoice, who have been thought worthy to know the Son of God; to rejoice, not in thought alone, but to show it also by our actions. And what must they do who rejoice? Obey Him who has been made known to them; and they who obey, must do whatever He willeth. For if we are going to do what angers Him, how shall we show that we rejoice? See ye not in our houses when a man entertains one whom he loves, how gladly he exerts himself, running about in every direction, and though it be needful to spend all that he has, sparing nothing so that he please his visitor? But if one who invites should not attend to his guest, [537] and not do such things as would procure him ease, though he should say ten thousand times that he rejoices at his coming, he could never be believed by him. And justly; for this should be shown by actions. Let us then, since Christ hath come to us, show that we rejoice, and do nothing that may anger him; let us garnish the abode to which He has come, for this they do who rejoice; let us set before Him the meal [538] which He desires to eat, for this they do who hold festival. And what is this meal? He saith Himself; "My meat is, that I may do the will of Him that sent me." ( c. iv. 34 .) When He is hungry, let us feed Him; when He is thirsty, let us give Him drink: though thou give Him but a cup of cold water, He receives it; for He loves thee, and to one who loves, the offerings of the beloved, though they be small, appear great. Only be not thou slothful; though thou cast in but two farthings, He refuses them not, but receives them as great riches. For since He is without wants, and receives these offerings, not because He needs them, it is reasonable that all distinction should be not in the quantity of the gifts, but the intention [539] of the giver. Only show that thou lovest Him who is come, that for His sake thou art giving all diligence, that thou rejoicest at His coming. See how He is disposed toward thee. He came for thee, He laid down His life for thee, and after all this He doth not refuse even to entreat thee. "We are ambassadors," saith Paul, "for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." ( 2 Cor. v. 20 .) "And who is so mad," saith some one, "as not to love his own Master?" I say so too, and I know that not one of us would deny this in words or intention; but one who is beloved desires love to be shown, not by words only, but by deeds also. For to say that we love, and not to act like lovers, is ridiculous, not only before God, but even in the sight of men. Since then to confess Him in word only, while in deeds we oppose Him, is not only unprofitable, but also hurtful to us; let us, I entreat you, also make confession by our works; that we also may obtain a confession from Him in that day, when before His Father He shall confess those who are worthy in Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[522] panti to merimnonti enesti perisson . In the next sentence Morel. Ben. and most mss. read ho then kai epeisi moi . Savile ho th. oude ep. m . which seems the better reading. [523] memerinemenen . [524] a kribes . [525] or, "rule." [526] al. "this." [527] prooimion . [528] eutonian . [529] bebekota . [530] ho s anthropon exetazen . So Morel. and mss. in Bodleian. Savile and the Bened. read ho s anthropos , "he enquired as a man." [531] a nothen . [532] e pieikeian . [533] One ms. reads, ou gar eipen, anothen se oida, kai ton tropon, kai ten ep . [534] hi na mathe . Savile conjectures hi na mathes , but without authority. [535] prorrhesin . [536] a kribeian . [537] Ben. Conj. kalounti for kalon tis . "But if he mind not when he calls." [538] a riston . [539] proairesei .


Homily XXI.

John i. 49, 50

"Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered, and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these."

[1.] Beloved , we need much care, much watchfulness, to be able to look into the depth of the Divine Scriptures. For it is not possible to discover their meaning in a careless way, or while we are asleep, but there needs close search, and there needs earnest prayer, that we may be enabled to see some little way into the secrets of the divine oracles. To-day, for instance, here is no trifling question proposed to us, but one which requires much zeal and enquiry. For when Nathanael said, "Thou art the Son of God," Christ replies, "Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these."

Now what is the question arising from this passage? It is this. [540] Peter, when after so many miracles and such high doctrine he confessed that, "Thou art the Son of God" ( Matt. xvi. 16 ), is called "blessed," as having received the revelation from the Father; while Nathanael, though he said the very same thing before seeing or hearing either miracles or doctrine, had no such word addressed to him, but as though he had not said so much as he ought to have said, is brought [541] to things greater still. What can be the reason of this? It is, that Peter and Nathanael both spoke the same words, but not both with the same intention. Peter confessed Him to be "The Son of God" but as being Very God; Nathanael, as being mere man. And whence does this appear? From what he said after these words; for after, "Thou art the Son of God," he adds, "Thou art the King of Israel." But the Son of God is not "King of Israel" only, but of all the world.

And what I say is clear, not from this only, but also from what follows. For Christ added nothing more to Peter, but as though his faith were perfect, said, that upon this confession of his He would build the Church; but in the other case He did nothing like this, but the contrary. For as though some large, and that the better, part were wanting to his confession He added what follows. For what saith He?

Ver. 51 . "Verily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Seest thou how He leads him up by little and little from the earth, and causes him no longer to imagine Him a man merely? for One to whom Angels minister, and on whom Angels ascend and descend, how could He be man? For this reason He said, "Thou shalt see greater things than these." And in proof of this, He introduces the ministry of Angels. And what He means is something of this kind: "Doth this, O Nathanael, seem to thee a great matter, and hast thou for this confessed me to be King of Israel? What then wilt thou say, when thou seest the Angels ascending and descending upon Me?" Persuading him by these words to own Him Lord also of the Angels. For on Him as on the King's own Son, the royal ministers ascended and descended, once at the season of the Crucifixion, again at the time of the Resurrection and the Ascension, and before this also, when they "came and ministered unto Him" ( Matt. iv. 11 ), when they proclaimed the glad tidings of His birth, and cried, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace" ( Luke ii. 14 ), when they came to Mary, when they came to Joseph.

And He does now what He has done in many instances; He utters two predictions, gives present proof of the one, and confirms that which has to be accomplished by that which is so already. For of His sayings some had been proved, such as, "Before Philip called thee, under the fig-tree I saw thee"; others had yet to come to pass, and had partly done so, namely, the descending and ascending of the Angels, at the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension; and this He renders credible by His words even before the event. For one who had known His power by what had gone before, and heard from Him of things to come, would more readily receive this prediction too.

What then does Nathanael? To this he makes no reply. And therefore at this point Christ stopped His discourse with him, allowing him to consider in private what had been said; and not choosing to pour forth all at once, having cast seed into fertile ground, He then leaves it to shoot at leisure. And this He has shown in another place, where He saith, "The kingdom of heaven is like to a man that soweth good seed, but while he slept, his enemy cometh, and soweth tares among the wheat." [542]

Chap. ii. ver. 1, 2 . "On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. And Jesus was called to the marriage. And the mother of Jesus was there, and His brethren." [543]

I said before that He was best known in Galilee; therefore they invite Him to the marriage, and He comes; for He looked not to His own honor, but to our benefit. He who disdained not to "take upon Him the form of a servant" ( Philip. ii. 7 ), would much less disdain to be present at the marriage of servants; He who sat down "with publicans and sinners" ( Matt. ix. 13 ), would much less refuse to sit down with those present at the marriage. Assuredly they who invited Him had not formed a proper judgment of Him, nor did they invite Him as some great one, but merely as an ordinary acquaintance; and this the Evangelist has hinted at, when he says, "The mother of Jesus was there, and His brethren." Just as they invited her and His brethren, they invited Jesus.

Ver. 3 . "And when they wanted wine, His mother saith unto Him, They have no wine."

Here it is worth while to enquire whence it came into His mother's mind to imagine anything great of her Son; for He had as yet done no miracle, since the Evangelist saith, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee." ( c. ii. 11 .)

[2.] Now if any say that this is not a sufficient proof that it was the "beginning of His miracles," because there is added simply "in Cana of Galilee," as allowing it to have been the first done there, but not altogether and absolutely the first, for He probably might have done others elsewhere, we will make answer to him of that which we have said before. And of what kind? The words of John (the Baptist); "And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water." Now if He had wrought miracles in early age, the Israelites would not have needed another to declare Him. For He who came among men, and by His miracles was so made known, not to those only in Judæa, but also to those in Syria and beyond, and who did this in three years only, or rather who did not need even these three years to manifest Himself ( Matt. iv. 24 ), for immediately and from the first His fame went abroad everywhere; He, I say, who in a short time so shone forth by the multitude of His miracles, that His name was well known to all, was much less likely, if while a child He had from an early age wrought miracles, to escape notice so long. For what was done would have seemed stranger as done by a boy, and there would have been time for twice or thrice as many, and much more. But in fact He did nothing while He was a child, save only that one thing to which Luke has testified ( Luke ii. 46 ), that at the age of twelve years He sat hearing the doctors, and was thought admirable for His questioning. Besides, it was in accordance with likelihood and reason that He did not begin His signs at once from an early age; for they would have deemed the thing a delusion. For if when He was of full age many suspected this, much more, if while quite young He had wrought miracles, would they have hurried Him sooner and before the proper time to the Cross, in the venom of their malice; and the very facts of the Dispensation would have been discredited.

"How then," asks some one, "came it into the mind of His mother to imagine anything great of Him?" He was now beginning to reveal Himself, and was plainly discovered by the witness of John, and by what He had said to His disciples. And before all this, the Conception itself and all its attending circumstances [544] had inspired her with a very great opinion of the Child; "for," said Luke, "she heard all the sayings concerning the Child, and kept them in her heart." [545] "Why then," says one, "did not she speak this before?" [546] Because, as I said, it was now at last that He was beginning to manifest Himself. Before this time He lived as one of the many, and therefore His mother had not confidence to say any such thing to Him; but when she heard that John had come on His account, and that he had borne such witness to Him as he did, and that He had disciples, after that she took confidence, and called Him, and said, when they wanted wine, "They have no wine." For she desired both to do them a favor, and through her Son to render herself more conspicuous; perhaps too she had some human feelings, like His brethren, when they said, "Show thyself to the world" ( c. xvii. 4 ), desiring to gain credit from His miracles. Therefore He answered somewhat vehemently, [547] saying,

Ver. 4 . "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."

To prove that He greatly respected His mother, hear Luke relate how He was "subject to" His parents ( Luke ii. 51 ), and our own Evangelist declare how He had forethought for her at the very season of the Crucifixion. For where parents cause no impediment or hindrance in things belonging to God, it is our bounden duty to give way to them, and there is great danger in not doing so; but when they require anything unseasonably, and cause hindrance in any spiritual matter, it is unsafe to obey. And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere, "Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?" ( Matt. xii. 48 ), because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and she, because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshiped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occasion. For consider what a thing it was, that when all the people high and low were standing round Him, when the multitude was intent on hearing [548] Him, and His doctrine had begun to be set forth, she should come into the midst and take Him away from the work of exhortation, and converse with Him apart, and not even endure to come within, but draw Him outside merely to herself. This is why He said, "Who is My mother and My brethren?" Not to insult her who had borne Him, (away with the thought!) but to procure her the greatest benefit, and not to let her think meanly of Him. For if He cared for others, and used every means to implant in them a becoming opinion of Himself, much more would He do so in the case of His mother. And since it was probable that if these words had been addressed to her by her Son, she would not readily have chosen even then to be convinced, but would in all cases have claimed the superiority as being His mother, therefore He replied as He did to them who spake to Him; otherwise He could not have led up her thoughts from His present lowliness to His future exaltation, had she expected that she should always be honored by Him as by a son, and not that He should come as her Master.

[3.] It was then from this motive that He said in this place, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" and also for another reason not less pressing. What was that? It was, that His miracles might not be suspected. The request ought to have come from those who needed, not from His mother. And why so? Because what is done at the request of one's friends, great though it be, often causes offense to the spectators; but when they make the request who have the need, the miracle is free from suspicion, the praise unmixed, the benefit great. So if some excellent physician should enter a house where there were many sick, and be spoken to by none of the patients or their relations, but be directed only by his own mother, he would be suspected [549] and disliked by the sufferers, nor would any of the patients or their attendants deem him able to exhibit anything great or remarkable. And so this was a reason why He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much more for the salvation of her soul, and for the doing good to the many, for which He took upon Him the flesh.

These then were the words, not of one speaking rudely to his mother, but belonging to a wise dispensation, which brought her into a right frame of mind, and provided that the miracles should be attended with that honor which was meet. And setting other things aside, this very appearance which these words have of having been spoken chidingly, is amply enough to show that He held her in high honor, for by His displeasure He showed that He reverenced her greatly; in what manner, we will say in the next discourse. Think of this then, and when you hear a certain woman saying, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked," and Him answering, "rather blessed are they that do the will of my Father" [550] ( Luke xi. 27 ), suppose that those other words also were said with the same intention. For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been very good and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtue. "A brother," saith David, "doth not redeem, shall man redeem?" ( Ps. xlix. 7 , LXX.) We must place our hopes of salvation in nothing else, but only in our own righteous deeds (done) after [551] the grace of God. For if this by itself could have availed, [552] it would have availed the Jews, (for Christ was their kinsman according to the flesh,) it would have availed the town in which He was born, it would have availed His brethren. But as long as His brethren cared not for themselves, the honor of their kindred availed them nothing, but they were condemned with the rest of the world, and then only were approved, when they shone by their own virtue; and the city fell, and was burnt, having gained nothing from this; and His kinsmen according to the flesh were slaughtered and perished very miserably, having gained nothing towards being saved from their relationship to Him, because they had not the defense of virtue. The Apostles, on the contrary, appeared greater than any, because they followed the true and excellent way of gaining relationship with Him, that by obedience. And from this we learn that we have always need of faith, and a life shining and bright, since this alone will have power to save us. For though His relations were for a long time everywhere held in honor, being called the Lord's kinsmen, [553] yet now we do not even know their names, while the lives and names of the Apostles are everywhere celebrated.

Let us then not be proud of nobleness of birth [554] according to the flesh, but though we have ten thousand famous ancestors, let us use diligence ourselves to go beyond their excellences, knowing that we shall gain nothing from the diligence of others to help us in the judgment that is to come; nay, this will be the more grievous condemnation, that though born of righteous parents and having an example at home, we do not, even thus, imitate our teachers. And this I say now, because I see many heathens, [555] when we lead them to the faith and exhort them to become Christians, flying to their kinsmen and ancestors and house, and saying, "All my relations and friends and companions are faithful Christians." What is that to thee, thou wretched and miserable? This very thing will be especially thy ruin, that thou didst not respect the number of those around thee, and run to the truth. Others again who are believers but live a careless life, when exhorted to virtue make the very same defense, and say, "my father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather were very pious and good men." But this will assuredly most condemn thee, that being descended from such men, thou hast acted unworthily of the root from whence thou art sprung. For hear what the Prophet says to the Jews, "Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept (sheep)" ( Hos. xii. 12 ); and again Christ, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad." ( c. viii. 56 .) And everywhere they bring forward [556] to them the righteous acts of their fathers, not only to praise them, but also to make the charge against their descendants more heavy. Knowing then this, let us use every means that we may be saved by our own works, lest having deceived ourselves by vain trusting on others, we learn that we have been deceived when the knowledge of it will profit us nothing. "In the grave," saith David, "who shall give thee thanks?" ( Ps. vi. 5 .) Let us then repent here, that we may obtain the everlasting goods, which may God grant we all do, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[540] Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read the passage thus: polloi ton anaginoskonton to rheton touto diaporountes phasi; ti depote Petros k.t.l . [541] al. "led forward." [542] Matt. xiii. 24, 25 , slightly varying from G. T. [543] The reading is different in G. T. [544] al. "and all that took place after His birth." [545] This is the common reading, but the passage ( Luke ii. 51 ) is not so found in G. T.; Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read: touto kai ho Loukas hemin deiknusi legon; he de Mariam suneterei ta rhemata panta sumballousa en te k . [546] i.e. as she spoke at the marriage. [547] sphodroteron . [548] lit. "hanging on the hearing." [549] [and tiresome] Morel. [550] a kouontes ton logon tou Theou , G. T. [551] or "next to," meta ; with acc. [552] [the Virgin] Morel. and ms. [553] Desposunoi , Eus. H. E. i. 7. [554] al. "relationship." [555] lit. "Greeks." [556] al. "apply."


Homily XXII.

John ii. 4

"Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."

[1.] In preaching the word there is some toil, and this Paul declares when he says, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine." ( 1 Tim. v. 17 .) Yet it is in your power to make this labor light or heavy; for if you reject our words, or if without actually rejecting them you do not show them forth in your works, our toil will be heavy, because we labor uselessly and in vain: while if ye heed them and give proof of it by your works, we shall not even feel the toil, because the fruit produced by our labor will not suffer the greatness of that labor to appear. So that if you would rouse our zeal, and not quench or weaken it, show us, I beseech you, your fruit, that we may behold the fields waving [557] with corn, and being supported by hopes of an abundant crop, and reckoning up your [558] riches, may not be slothful [559] in carrying on this good traffic.

It is no slight question which is proposed to us also to-day. For first, when the mother of Jesus says, "They have no wine," Christ replies, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine, hour is not yet come." And then, having thus spoken, He did as His mother had said; an action which needs enquiry no less than the words. Let us then, after calling upon Him who wrought the miracle, proceed to the explanation.

The words are not used in this place only, but in others also; for the same Evangelist says, "They could not lay hands on Him, [560] because His hour was not yet come" ( c. viii. 20 ); and again, "No man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come" ( c. vii. 30 ); and again, "The hour is come, glorify Thy Son." ( c. xvii. 1 .) What then do the words mean? I have brought together more instances, that I may give one explanation of all. And what is that explanation? Christ did not say, "Mine hour is not yet come," as being subject to the necessity of seasons, or the observance of an "hour"; how can He be so, who is Maker of seasons, and Creator of the times and the ages? To what else then did He allude? He desires to show [561] this; that He works all things at their convenient season, not doing all at once; because a kind of confusion and disorder would have ensued, if, instead of working all at their proper seasons, He had mixed all together, His Birth, His Resurrection, and His coming to Judgment. Observe this; creation was to be, yet not all at once; man and woman were to be created, yet not even these together; mankind were to be condemned to death, and there was to be a resurrection, yet the interval between the two was to be great; the law was to be given, but not grace with it, each was to be dispensed at its proper time. Now Christ was not subject to the necessity of seasons, but rather settled their order, since He is their Creator; and therefore He saith in this place, "Mine hour is not yet come." And His meaning is, that as yet He was not manifest [562] to the many, nor had He even His whole company of disciples; Andrew followed Him, and next to [563] him Philip, but no one else. And moreover, none of these, not even His mother nor His brethren, knew Him as they ought; for after His many miracles, the Evangelist says of His brethren, "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." ( c. vii. 5 .) And those at the wedding did not know Him either, for in their need they would certainly have come to and entreated Him. Therefore He saith, "Mine hour is not yet come"; that is, "I am not yet known to the company, nor are they even aware that the wine has failed; let them first be sensible of this. I ought not to have been told it from thee; thou art My mother, and renderest the miracle suspicious. They who wanted the wine should have come and besought Me, not that I need this, but that they might with an entire assent accept the miracle. For one who knows that he is in need, is very grateful when he obtains assistance; but one who has not a sense of his need, will never have a plain and clear sense of the benefit."

Why then after He had said, "Mine hour is not yet come," and given her a denial, did He what His mother desired? Chiefly it was, that they who opposed Him, and thought that He was subject to the "hour," might have sufficient proof that He was subject to no hour; for had He been so, how could He, before the proper "hour" was come, have done what He did? And in the next place, He did it to honor His mother, that He might not seem entirely to contradict and shame her that bare Him in the presence of so many; and also, that He might not be thought to want power, [564] for she brought the servants to Him.

Besides, even while saying to the Canaanitish woman, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to give [565] it unto dogs" ( Matt. xv. 26 ), He still gave the bread, as considering her perseverance; and though after his first reply, He said, "I am not sent save unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," yet even after saying this, He healed the woman's daughter. Hence we learn, that although we be unworthy, we often by perseverance make ourselves worthy to receive. And for this reason His mother remained by, and openly [566] brought to Him the servants, that the request might be made by a greater number; and therefore she added,

Ver. 5. "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."

For she knew that His refusal proceeded not from want of power, but from humility, and that He might not seem without cause [567] to hurry to [568] the miracle; and therefore she brought the servants. [569]

Ver. 6, 7 . "And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus said unto them, Fill the waterpots with water; and they filled them up to the brim."

It is not without a reason that the Evangelist says, "After the manner of the purifying of the Jews," but in order that none of the unbelievers might suspect that lees having been left in the vessels, and water having been poured upon and mixed with them, a very weak wine had been made. Therefore he says, "after the manner of the purifying of the Jews," to show that those vessels were never receptacles for wine. For because Palestine is a country with but little water, and brooks and fountains were not everywhere to be found, they always used to fill waterpots with water, so that they might not have to hasten to the rivers if at any time they were defiled, but might have the means of purification at hand.

"And why was it, that He did not the miracle before they filled them, which would have been more marvelous by far? for it is one thing to change given matter to a different quality, and another to create matter out of nothing." The latter would indeed have been more wonderful, but would not have seemed so credible to the many. And therefore He often purposely lessens [570] the greatness of His miracles, that it may be the more readily received.

"But why," says one, "did not He Himself produce the water which He afterwards showed to be wine, instead of bidding the servants bring it?" For the very same reason; and also, that He might have those who drew it out to witness that what had been effected was no delusion since if any had been inclined to be shameless, those who ministered might have said to them, "We drew the water, we filled the vessels." And besides what we have mentioned, He thus overthrows those doctrines which spring up against the Church. For since there are some who say that the Creator of the world is another, and that the things which are seen are not His works, but those of a certain other opposing god, to curb these men's madness He doth most of His miracles on matter found at hand. [571] Because, had the creator of these been opposed to Him, He would not have used what was another's to set forth His own power. But now to show that it is He who transmutes water in the vine plants, and who converts the rain by its passage through the root into wine, He effected that in a moment at the wedding which in the plant is long in doing. When they had filled the waterpots, He said,

Ver. 8-10 . "Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast; and they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worst; but thou hast kept the good wine until now."

Here again some mock, [572] saying, "this was an assembly of drunken men, the sense of the judges was spoilt, and not able to taste [573] what was made, or to decide on what was done, so that they did not know whether what was made was water or wine: for that they were drunk," it is alleged, "the ruler himself has shown by what he said." Now this is most ridiculous, yet even this suspicion the Evangelist has removed. For he does not say that the guests gave their opinion on the matter, but "the ruler of the feast," who was sober, and had not as yet tasted anything. For of course you are aware, that those who are entrusted with the management [574] of such banquets are the most sober, as having this one business, to dispose all things in order and regularity; and therefore the Lord called such a man's sober senses to testify to what was done. For He did not say, "Pour forth to them that sit at meat," but, "Bear unto the governor of the feast."

"And when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom." "And why did he not call the servants? for so the miracle would have been revealed." Because Jesus had not Himself revealed what had been done, but desired that the power of His miracles should be known gently, little by little. And suppose that it had then been mentioned, [575] the servants who related it would never have been believed, but would have been thought mad to bear such testimony to one who at that time seemed to the many a mere man; and although they knew the certainty of the thing by experience, (for they were not likely to disbelieve their own hands,) yet they were not sufficient to convince others. And so He did not reveal it to all, but to him who was best able to understand what was done, reserving the clearer knowledge of it for a future time; since after the manifestation of other miracles this also would be credible. Thus when he was about to heal the nobleman's son, the Evangelist has shown that it had already become more clearly known; for it was chiefly because the nobleman had become acquainted with the miracle that he called upon Him, as John incidentally shows when he says, "Jesus came into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine." ( c. iv. 46 .) And not wine simply, but the best.

[3.] For such are the miraculous works of Christ, they are far more perfect and better than the operations of nature. This is seen also in other instances; when He restored any infirm member of the body, He made [576] it better than the sound.

That it was wine then, and the best of wine, that had been made, not the servants only, but the bridegroom and the ruler of the feast would testify; and that it was made by Christ, those who drew the water; so that although the miracle were not then revealed, yet it could not in the end be passed in silence, so many and constraining testimonies had He provided for the future. That He had made the water wine, He had the servants for witnesses; that the wine was good that had been made, the ruler of the feast and the bridegroom.

It might be expected that the bridegroom would reply to this, (the ruler's speech,) and say something, but the Evangelist, hastening to more pressing matters, has only touched upon this miracle, and passed on. For what we needed to learn was, that Christ made the water wine, and that good wine; but what the bridegroom said to the governor he did not think it necessary to add. And many miracles, at first somewhat obscure, have in process of time become more plain, when reported more exactly by those who knew them from the beginning.

At that time, then, Jesus made of water wine, and both then and now He ceases not to change our weak and unstable [577] wills. For there are, yes, there are men who in nothing differ from water, so cold, and weak, and unsettled. But let us bring those of such disposition to the Lord, that He may change their will to the quality of wine, so that they be no longer washy, [578] but have body, [579] and be the cause of gladness in themselves and others. But who can these cold ones be? They are those who give their minds to the fleeting things of this present life, who despise not this world's luxury, who are lovers of glory and dominion: for all these things are flowing waters, never stable, but ever rushing violently down the steep. The rich to-day is poor tomorrow, he who one day appears with herald, and girdle, and of a dungeon, having unwillingly quitted all that show to make room for another. Again, the gluttonous and dissipated [580] man, when he has filled himself to bursting, [581] cannot retain even for a single day the supply [582] conveyed by his delicacies, but when that is dispersed, in order to renew it he is obliged to put in more, differing in nothing from a torrent. For as in the torrent when the first body of water is gone, others in turn succeed; so in gluttony, when one repast is removed, we again require another. And such is the nature and the lot of earthly things, never to be stable, but to be always pouring and hurrying by; but in the case of luxury, it is not merely the flowing and hastening by; but many other things that trouble us. By the violence of its course it wears away [583] the strength of the body, and strips the soul of its manliness, and the strongest currents of rivers do not so easily eat away their banks and make them sink down, as do luxury and wantonness sweep away all the bulwarks of our health; and if you enter a physician's house and ask him, you will find that almost all the causes of diseases arise from this. For frugality and a plain [584] table is the mother of health, and therefore physicians [585] have thus named it; for they have called the not being satisfied "health," (because not to be satisfied with food is health,) and they have spoken of sparing diet as the "mother of health." Now if the condition of want [586] is the mother of health, it is clear that fullness is the mother of sickness and debility, and produces attacks which are beyond the skill even of physicians. For gout in the feet, apoplexy, dimness of sight, pains in the hands, tremors, paralytic attacks, jaundice, lingering and inflammatory fevers, and other diseases many more than these, (for we have not time to go over them all,) are the natural offspring, not of abstinence and moderate [587] diet, but of gluttony and repletion. And if you will look to the diseases of the soul that arise from them, you will see that feelings of coveting, sloth, melancholy, dullness, impurity, and folly of all kinds, have their origin here. For after such banquets the souls of the luxurious become no better than asses, being torn to pieces by such wild beasts as these (passions). Shall I say also how many pains and displeasures they have who wait upon luxury? I could not enumerate them all, but by a single principal point I will make the whole clear. At a table such as I speak of, that is, a sumptuous one, men never eat with pleasure; for abstinence is the mother of pleasure as well as health, while repletion is the source and root not only of diseases, but of displeasure. For where there is satiety there desire cannot be, and where there is no desire, how can there be pleasure? And therefore we should find that the poor are not only of better understanding and healthier than the rich, but also that they enjoy a greater degree of pleasure. Let us, when we reflect on this, flee drunkenness and luxury, not that of the table alone, but all other which is found in the things of this life, and let us take in exchange for it the pleasure arising from spiritual things, and, as the Prophet says, delight ourselves in the Lord; "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" ( Ps. xxxvii. 4 ); that so that we may enjoy the good things both here and hereafter, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[557] komonta . [558] al. "our." [559] lit. "numb," al. "be weary." [560] oudeis epiasen auton , G. T. [561] Ben. Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read: a lla dia ton houtos eiremenon touto delosai k.t.l . [562] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read: a lla Ioannes entautha to Oupo ekei he hora mou eisagei ton Christon legonta deiknus hoti k.t.l . [563] al. "beside." [564] This passage is wanting in the ms. in Bodleian. [565] balein , G. T. [566] al. "wisely." [567] ha plos . [568] e pirrhiptein . [569] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read: di ho kai ten hupakoen anaballetai . [570] lit. "clips round." [571] hu pokeimenon . [572] al. "impeach." [573] a ntilabesthai . [574] diakonian . [575] al. "examined." [576] lit. "showed." [577] lit. "flowing away." [578] diarrhein . [579] to epestummenon , "astringency." [580] diaspomenos . [581] lit. "has burst his stomach." [582] choregian . [583] a poxuei , "abrades." [584] lite . [585] lit. "children of phys." [586] e ndeia . [587] philosophou .


Homily XXIII.

John ii. 11

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee."

[1.] Frequent and fierce is the devil in his attacks, on all sides besieging our salvation; we therefore must watch and be sober, and everywhere fortify ourselves against his assault, for if he but gain some slight vantage ground, [588] he goes on to make for himself a broad passage, and by degrees introduces all his forces. If then we have any care at all for our salvation, let us not allow him to make his approaches even in trifles, that thus we may check him beforehand in important matters; for it would be the extreme of folly, if, while he displays such eagerness to destroy our souls, we should not bring even an equal amount in defense of our own salvation.

I say not this without a cause, but because I fear lest that wolf be even now standing unseen by us in the midst of the fold, [589] and some sheep become a prey to him, being led astray from the flock and from hearkening by its own carelessness and his craft. Were the wounds [590] sensible, or did the body receive the blows, there would be no difficulty in discerning his plots; but since the soul is invisible, and since that it is which receives the wounds, we need great watchfulness that each may prove himself; for none knoweth the things of a man as the spirit of a man that is in him. ( 1 Cor. ii. 11 .) The word is spoken indeed to all, and is offered as a general remedy to those who need it, but it is the business of every individual hearer to take what is suited to his complaint. I know not who are sick, I know not who are well. And therefore I use every sort of argument, and introduce remedies suited to all maladies, [591] at one time condemning covetousness, after that touching on luxury, and again on impurity, then composing something in praise of and exhortation to charity, and each of the other virtues in their turn. For I fear lest when my arguments are employed on any one subject, I may without knowing it be treating you for one disease while you are ill of others. So that if this congregation were but one person, I should not have judged it so absolutely necessary to make my discourse varied; but since in such a multitude there are probably also many maladies, I not unreasonably diversify my teaching, since my discourse will be sure to attain its object when it is made to embrace you all. For this cause also Scripture is something multiform, [592] and speaks on ten thousand matters, because it addresses itself to the nature of mankind in common, and in such a multitude all the passions of the soul must needs be; though all be not in each. Let us then cleanse ourselves of these, and so listen to the divine oracles, and with contrite heart [593] hear what has been this day read to us.

And what is that? "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee." I told you the other day, that there are some who say that this is not the beginning. "For what," says one, "if `Cana of Galilee' be added? This shows that this was `the beginning' He made `in Cana.'" [594] But on these points I would not venture to assert anything exactly. I before have shown that He began His miracles after His Baptism, and wrought no miracle before it; but whether of the miracles done after His Baptism, this or some other was the first, it seems to me unnecessary to assert positively.

"And manifested forth His glory."

"How?" asks one, "and in what way? For only the servants, the ruler of the feast, and the bridegroom, not the greater number of those present, gave heed to what was done." How then did he "manifest forth His glory"? He manifested it at least for His own part, and if all present hear not of the miracle at the time, they would hear of it afterwards, for unto the present time it is celebrated, and has not been unnoticed. That all did not know it on the same day is clear from what follows, for after having said that He "manifested forth His glory," the Evangelist adds,

"And His disciples believed on Him."

His disciples, who even before this regarded Him with wonder. [595] Seest thou that it was especially necessary to work the miracles at times when men were present of honest minds, and who would carefully give heed to what was done? for these would more readily believe, and attend more exactly to the circumstances. "And how could He have become known without miracles?" Because His doctrine and prophetic powers were sufficient to cause wonder in the souls of His hearers, so that they took heed to what He did with a right disposition, their minds being already well affected towards Him. And therefore in many other places the Evangelists say, that He did no miracle on account of the perversity of the men who dwelt there. ( Matt. xii. 38; ch. xiii. 58 , &c.)

Ver. 12 . "After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and they continued there not many days."

Wherefore comes He with "His mother to Capernaum"? for He hath done no miracle there, and the inhabitants of that city were not of those who were rightminded towards Him, but of the utterly corrupt. And this Christ declared when He said, "And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell." ( Luke x. 15 .) Wherefore then goes He? I think it was, because He intended a little after to go up to Jerusalem, that He then went to Capernaum, to avoid leading about [596] everywhere with Him, His mother and His brethren. And so, having departed and tarried a little while to honor His mother, He again commences His miracles after restoring to her home her who had borne Him. Therefore the Evangelist says, After "not many days,"

Ver. 13 . "He went up to Jerusalem."

He received baptism then a few days before the passover. But on going up to Jerusalem, what did He, a deed full of high authority; for He cast out of the Temple those dealers and money changers, and those who sold doves, and oxen, and sheep, and who passed their time there for this purpose.

[2.] Another Evangelist writes, that as He cast them out, He said, Make not my Father's house [597] "a den of thieves," but this one,

Ver. 16 . ("Make not My Father's house) an house of merchandise."

They do not in this contradict each other, but show that he did this a second time, and that both these expressions were not used on the same occasion, but that He acted thus once at the beginning of His ministry, and again when He had come to the very time of His Passion. Therefore, (on the latter occasion,) employing more strong expressions, He spoke of it as [598] (being made) "a den of thieves," but here at the commencement of His miracles He does not so, but uses a more gentle rebuke; from which it is probable that this took place [599] a second time.

"And wherefore," says one, "did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them `Samaritan' and `demoniac'? for He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out." Yes, but it was when others were receiving benefit, that the Jews accused and raged against Him; when it was probable that they would have been made savage by His rebukes, they showed no such disposition towards Him, for they neither accused nor reviled Him. What say they?

Ver. 18 . "What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?"

Seest thou their excessive malice, and how the benefits done to others incensed them more (than reproofs)?

At one time then He said, that the Temple was made by them "a den of thieves," showing that what they sold was gotten by theft, and rapine, and covetousness, and that they were rich through other men's calamities; at another, "a house of merchandise," pointing to their shameless traffickings. "But wherefore did He this?" Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law, in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God [600] and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. For One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was worshiped in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the Legislator, and that He came not to give contrary laws; yet since it was likely that those years were forgotten through lapse of time, as not having been known to all because He was brought up in a poor and mean dwelling, He afterwards does this in the presence of all, (for many were present because the feast was nigh at hand,) and at great risk. For he did not merely "cast them out," but also "overturned the tables," and "poured out the money," giving them by this to understand, that He who threw Himself into danger for the good order of the House could never despise his Master. Had He acted as He did from hypocrisy, He should only have advised them; but to place Himself in danger was very daring. For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, [601] to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House.

And therefore not by His actions only, but by His words, He shows his agreement with the Father; [602] for He saith not "the Holy House," but "My Father's House." See, He even calls Him, "Father," and they are not wroth; they thought He spoke in a general way: [603] but when He went on and spoke more plainly, so as to set before them the idea of His Equality, then they become angry.

And what say they? "What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?" Alas for their utter madness! Was there need of a sign before they could cease their evil doings, and free the house of God from such dishonor? and was it not the greatest sign of His Excellence that He had gotten such zeal for that House? In fact, the well-disposed [604] were distinguished by this very thing, for "They," His disciples, it says,

Ver. 17 . "Remembered that it is written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."

But the Jews did not remember the Prophecy, and said, "What sign showest Thou unto us?" ( Ps. lxix. 9 ), both grieving that their shameful traffic was cut off, and expecting by these means to stop Him, and also desiring to challenge Him to a miracle, and to find fault with what He was doing. Wherefore He will not give them a sign; and before, when they came and asked Him, He made them the same answer, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." ( Matt. xvi. 4 .) Only then the answer was clear, now it is more ambiguous. This He doth on account of their extreme insensibility; for He who prevented [605] them without their asking, and gave them signs, would never when they asked have turned away from them, had He not seen that their minds were wicked and false, and their intention treacherous. [606] Think how full of wickedness the question itself was at the outset. When they ought to have applauded Him for His earnestness and zeal, when they ought to have been astonished that He cared so greatly for the House, they reproach Him, saying, that it was lawful to traffic, and unlawful for any to stop their traffic, except he should show them a sign. What saith Christ?

Ver. 19 . "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

Many such sayings He utters which were not intelligible to His immediate hearers, but which were to be so to those that should come after. And wherefore doth He this? In order that when the accomplishment of His prediction should have come to pass, He might be seen to have foreknown from the beginning what was to follow; which indeed was the case with this prophecy. For, saith the Evangelist,

Ver. 22 . "When He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."

But at the time when this was spoken, the Jews were perplexed as to what it might mean, and cast about to discover, saying,

Ver. 20 . "Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?"

"Forty and six years," they said, referring to the latter building, for the former was finished in twenty years' time. ( Ezra vi. 15 .)

[3.] Wherefore then did He not resolve the difficulty and say, "I speak not of that Temple, but of My flesh"? Why does the Evangelist, writing the Gospel at a later period, interpret the saying, and Jesus keep silence at the time? Why did He so keep silence? Because they would not have received His word; for if not even the disciples were able to understand the saying, much less were the multitudes. "When," saith the Evangelist, "He was risen from the dead, then they remembered, and believed the Scripture and His word." There were two things that hindered [607] them for the time, one the fact of the Resurrection, the other, the greater question whether He was God [608] that dwelt within; of both which things He spake darkly when He said, "Destroy this Temple, and I will rear it up in three days." And this St. Paul declares to be no small proof of His Godhead, when he writes, "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead." ( Rom. i. 4 .)

But why doth He both there, and here, and everywhere, give this for a sign, at one time saying, [609] "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I Am" ( c. viii. 28 ); at another, "There shall no sign be given you [610] but the sign of the prophet Jonas" ( Matt. xii. 39 ); and again in this place, "In three days I will raise it up"? Because what especially showed that He was not a mere man, was His being able to set up a trophy of victory over death, and so quickly to abolish His long enduring tyranny, and conclude that difficult war. Wherefore He saith, "Then ye shall know." "Then." When? When after My Resurrection I shall draw (all) the world to Me, then ye shall know that I did these things as God, and Very Son of God, avenging the insult offered to My Father.

"Why then, instead of saying, `What need is there of "signs" to check evil deeds?' did He promise that He would give them a sign?" Because by so doing He would have the more exasperated them; but in this way He rather astonished them. Still they made no answer to this, for He seemed to them to say what was incredible, so that they did not stay even to question Him upon it, but passed it by as impossible. Yet had they been wise, though it seemed to them at the time incredible, still when He wrought His many miracles they would then have come and questioned Him, would then have intreated that the difficulty might be resolved to them; but because they were foolish, they gave no heed at all to part of what was said, and part they heard with evil frame of mind. And therefore Christ spoke to them in an enigmatical way.

The question still remains, "How was it that the disciples did not know that He must rise from the dead?" It was, because they had not been vouchsafed the gift of the Spirit; and therefore, though they constantly heard His discourses concerning the Resurrection, they understood them not, but reasoned with themselves what this might be. For very strange and paradoxical was the assertion that one could raise himself, and would raise himself in such wise. And so Peter was rebuked, when, knowing nothing about the Resurrection, he said, "Be it far from Thee." ( Matt. xvi. 22 .) And Christ did not reveal it clearly to them before the event, that they might not be offended at the very outset, being led to distrust His words on account of the great improbability of the thing, and because they did not yet clearly know Him, who He was. For no one could help believing what was proclaimed aloud by facts, while some would probably disbelieve what was told to them in words. Therefore He at first allowed the meaning of His words to be concealed; but when by their experience He had verified His sayings, He after that gave them understanding of His words, and such gifts of the Spirit that they received them all at once. "He," saith Jesus, "shall bring all things to your remembrance." ( c. xiv. 26 .) For they who in a single night cast off all respect for Him, and fled from and denied that they even knew Him, would scarcely have remembered what He had done and said during the whole time, unless they had enjoyed much grace of the Spirit.

"But," says one, "if they were to hear from the Spirit, why needed they to accompany Christ when they would not retain His words?" Be cause the Spirit taught them not, but called to their mind what Christ had said before; and it contributes not a little to the glory of Christ, that they were referred to the remembrance of the words He had spoken to them. At the first then it was of the gift of God that the grace of the Spirit lighted upon them so largely and abundantly; but after that, it was of their own virtue that they retained the Gift. For they displayed a shining life, and much wisdom, and great labors, and despised this present life, and thought nothing of earthly things, but were above them all; and like a sort of light-winged eagle, soaring high by their works; reached [611] to heaven itself, and by these possessed the unspeakable grace of the Spirit.

Let us then imitate them, and not quench our lamps, but keep them bright by alms-doing, for so is the light of this fire preserved. Let us collect the oil into our vessels whilst we are here, for we cannot buy it when we have departed to that other place, nor can we procure it elsewhere, save only at the hands of the poor. Let us therefore collect it thence very abundantly, if, at least, we desire to enter in with the Bridegroom. But if we do not this, we must remain without the bridechamber, for it is impossible, it is impossible, though we perform ten thousand other good deeds, to enter the portals of the Kingdom without alms-doing. Let us then show forth this very abundantly, that we may enjoy those ineffable blessings; which may it come to pass that we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[588] a phormes . [589] or "sacred enclosure," seko . [590] al. "words." [591] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read the passage thus: kino, pasin anthropois homoios armozonta, kai pasin epitedeion pathesin . [592] polueides . [593] Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read: houto tois theiois logois prosballomen, kai houto meta suntetrimmenes sphodra tes dianoias k.t.l . [594] Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read: ti gar atopon proskeisthai en Kana, kai me archen einai tauten ton tou Iesou semeion . [595] [admired and believed] Morel. and ms. [596] e pisuresthai . [597] Luke xix. 46 , hu meis epoiesate k.t.l . G. T. [598] lit. "called it." [599] Or, "that He did this." ho then eikos deuteron touto gegenesthai . al. pepoiekenai [600] or, "adversary of God." [601] or, "base persons," a goraion . [602] ten pros auton sumphonian . [603] ha plos . [604] eugnomones . [605] al. "took to Him." [606] hu poulon . [607] al. "were proposed to." [608] Savile, O Theos , "whether He was the One God"; but the article is not found in Ben. Morel. or mss. [609] [ ho tan hupsotho ] Ben. [610] aute [ genea ] G. T. [611] al. "were drawn away."


Homily XXIV.

John ii. 23

"Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast, many believed on Him."

[1.] Of the men of that time some clung to their error, others laid hold on the truth, while of these last, some having retained it for a little while again fell off from it. Alluding to these, Christ compared them to seeds not deeply sown, but having their roots upon the surface of the earth; and He said that they should quickly perish. And these the Evangelist has here pointed out to us, saying,

"When He was in Jerusalem, at the Passover, in the feast, many believed on Him, [612] when they saw the miracles which He did."

Ver. 24 . "But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them."

For they were the more perfect [613] among His disciples, who came to Him not only because of His miracles, but through His teaching also. The grosser sort the miracles attracted, but the better reasoners His prophecies and doctrines; and so they who were taken by His teaching were more steadfast than those attracted by His miracles. And Christ also called them "blessed," saying, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." ( c. xx. 29 .) But that these here mentioned were not real disciples, the following passage shows, for it saith, "Jesus did not commit Himself unto them." Wherefore?

"Because He knew all things," [614]

Ver. 25 . "And needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man."

The meaning is of this kind. "He who dwells in men's hearts, and enters into their thoughts, took no heed of outward words; and knowing well that their warmth was but for a season, He placed not confidence in them as in perfect disciples, nor committed all His doctrines to them as though they had already become firm believers." Now, to know what is in the heart of men belongs to God alone, "who hath fashioned hearts one by one" ( Ps. xxxiii. 15 , LXX.), for, saith Solomon, "Thou, even Thou only, knowest the hearts" ( 1 Kings viii. 39 ); He therefore needed not witnesses to learn the thoughts of His own creatures, and so He felt no confidence in them because of their mere, temporary belief. Men, who know neither the present nor the future, often tell and entrust all without any reserve to persons who approach them deceitfully and who shortly will fall off from them; but Christ did not so, for well He knew all their secret thoughts.

And many such now there are, who have indeed the name of faith, but are unstable, [615] and easily led away; wherefore neither now doth Christ commit Himself to them, but concealeth from them many things; and just as we do not place confidence in mere acquaintances but in real friends, so also doth Christ. Hear what He saith to His disciples, "Henceforth I call you not servants, ye are My friends." ( c. xv. 14, 15 .) Whence is this and why? "Because all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you." And therefore He gave no signs to the Jews who asked for them, because they asked tempting Him. Indeed the asking for signs is a practice of tempters both then and now; for even now there are some that seek them and say, "Why do not miracles take place also at this present time?" If thou art faithful, as thou oughtest to be, and lovest Christ as thou oughtest to love Him, thou hast no need of signs, they are given to the unbelievers. "How then," asks one, "were they not given to the Jews?" Given they certainly were; and if there were times when though they asked they did not receive them, it was because they asked them not that they might be delivered from their unbelief, but in order the more to confirm their wickedness.

Chap. iii. 1, 2 . "And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus. The same came to Jesus by night."

This man appears also in the middle of the Gospel, making defense for Christ; for he saith, "Our law judgeth no man [616] before it hear him" ( c. vii. 51 ); and the Jews in anger replied to him, "Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." Again after the crucifixion he bestowed great care upon the burial of the Lord's body: "There came also," saith the Evangelist, "Nicodemus, which came to the Lord [617] by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight." ( c. xix. 39 .) And even now he was disposed towards Christ, [618] but not as he ought, nor with proper sentiments respecting Him, for he was as yet entangled in Jewish infirmity. Wherefore he came by night, because he feared to do so by day. Yet not for this did the merciful God reject or rebuke him, or deprive him of His instruction, but even with much kindness conversed with him and disclosed to him very exalted doctrines, enigmatically indeed, but nevertheless He disclosed them. For far more deserving of pardon was he than those who acted thus through wickedness. They are entirely without excuse; but he, though he was liable to condemnation, yet was not so to an equal degree. "How then does the Evangelist say nothing of the kind concerning him?" He has said in another place, that "of the rulers also many believed on Him, but because of the Jews [619] they did not confess (Him), lest they should be put out of the synagogue" ( c. xii. 42 ); but here he has implied the whole by mentioning his coming "by night." What then saith Nicodemus?

"Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God: for no man can do the miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him."

[2.] Nicodemus yet lingers [620] below, has yet human thoughts concerning Him, and speaks of Him as of a Prophet, imagining nothing great from His miracles. "We know," he says, "that Thou art a Teacher come from God." "Why then comest thou by night and secretly, to Him that speaketh the things of God, to Him who cometh from God? Why conversest thou not with Him openly?" But Jesus said nothing like this to him, nor did He rebuke him; for, saith the Prophet, "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; He shall not strive nor cry" ( Isa. xlii. 2, 3; as quoted Matt. xii. 19, 20 ): and again He saith Himself, "I came not to condemn the world, but to save the world." ( c. xii. 47 .)

"No man can do these miracles, except God be with him."

Still here Nicodemus speaks like the heretics, in saying, that He hath a power working within Him, [621] and hath need of the aid of others to do as He did. What then saith Christ? Observe His exceeding condescension. He refrained for a while from saying, "I need not the help of others, but do all things with power, for I am the Very Son of God, and have the same power as My Father," because this would have been too hard for His hearer; for I say now what I am always saying, that what Christ desired was, not so much for a while to reveal His own Dignity, as to persuade men that He did nothing contrary to His Father. And therefore in many places he appears in words confined by limits, [622] but in His actions He doth not so. For when He worketh a miracle, He doth all with power, saying, "I will, be thou clean." ( Matt. viii. 3 .) "Talitha, arise." ( Mark v. 41 ; not verbally quoted.) "Stretch forth thy hand." ( Mark iii. 5 .) "Thy sins be forgiven thee." ( Matt. ix. 2 .) "Peace, be still." ( Mark iv. 39 .) "Take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." ( Matt. ix. 6 .) "Thou foul spirit, I say unto thee, come out of him." ( Mark ix. 25 ; not verbally quoted.) "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." ( Matt. xv. 28 .) "If any one say (aught) unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of him." ( Mark xi. 3 .) "This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." ( Luke xxiii. 43 .) "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment." ( Matt. v. 21, 22 .) "Come ye after Me, and I will make you fishers of men." ( Mark i. 17 .) And everywhere we observe that His authority is great; for in His actions no one could find fault with what was done. How was it possible? Had His words not come to pass, nor been accomplished as He commanded, any one might have said that they were the commands of a madman; but since they did come to pass, the reality of their accomplishment stopped men's mouths even against their will. But with regard to His discourses, they might often in their insolence charge Him with madness. Wherefore now in the case of Nicodemus, He utters nothing openly, but by dark sayings leads him up from his low thoughts, teaching him, that He has sufficient power in Himself to show forth miracles; for that His Father begat Him Perfect and All-sufficient, and without any imperfection.

But let us see how He effects this. Nicodemus saith, "Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God, for no man can do the miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him." He thought he had said something great when he had spoken thus of Christ. What then saith Christ? To show that he had not yet set foot even on the threshold of right knowledge, nor stood in the porch, but was yet wandering somewhere without the palace, both he and whoever else should say the like, and that he had not so much as glanced towards true knowledge when he held such an opinion of the Only-Begotten, what saith He?

Ver. 3 . "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."

That is, "Unless thou art born again and receivest the right doctrines, thou art wandering somewhere without, and art far from the Kingdom of heaven." But He does not speak so plainly as this. In order to make the saying less hard to bear, He does not plainly direct it at him, but speaks indefinitely, "Except a man be born again": all but saying, "both thou and any other, who may have such opinions concerning Me, art somewhere without the Kingdom." Had He not spoken from a desire to establish this, His answer would have been suitable to what had been said. Now the Jews, if these words had been addressed to them, would have derided Him and departed; but Nicodemus shows here also his desire of instruction. [623] And this is why in many places Christ speaks obscurely, because He wishes to rouse His hearers to ask questions, and to render them more attentive. For that which is said plainly often escapes the hearer, but what is obscure renders him more active and zealous. Now what He saith, is something like this: "If thou art not born again, if thou partakest not of the Spirit which is by the washing [624] of Regeneration, thou canst not have a right opinion of Me, for the opinion which thou hast is not spiritual, but carnal." [625] ( Tit. iii. 5 .) But He did not speak thus, as refusing to confound [626] one who had brought such as he had, and who had spoken to the best of his ability; and He leads him unsuspectedly up to greater knowledge, saying, "Except a man be born again." The word "again," [627] in this place, some understand to mean "from heaven," others, "from the beginning." "It is impossible," saith Christ, "for one not so born to see the Kingdom of God"; in this pointing to Himself, and declaring that there is another beside the natural sight, and that we have need of other eyes to behold Christ. Having heard this,

Ver. 4 . "Nicodemus saith, How can a man be born when he is old?"

Callest thou Him "Master," sayest thou that He is "come from God," and yet receivest thou not His words, but usest to thy Teacher a manner of speaking which expresses [628] much perplexity? For the "How," is the doubting question of those who have no strong belief, but who are yet of the earth. Therefore Sarah laughed when she had said, "How?" And many others having asked this question, have fallen from the faith.

[3.] And thus heretics continue in their heresy, because they frequently make this enquiry, saying, some of them, "How was He begotten?" others, "How was He made flesh?" and subjecting that Infinite Essence to the weakness of their own reasonings. [629] Knowing which, we ought to avoid this unseasonable curiosity, for they who search into these matters shall, without learning the "How," fall away from the right faith. On this account Nicodemus, being in doubt, enquires the manner in which this can be, (for he understood that the words spoken referred to himself,) is confused, and dizzy, [630] and in perplexity, having come as to a man, and hearing more than man's words, and such as no one ever yet had heard; and for a while he rouses himself at the sublimity of the sayings, but yet is in darkness, and unstable, borne about in every direction, and continually falling away from the faith. And therefore he perseveres in proving the impossibility, so as to provoke Him to clearer teaching.

"Can a man," he saith, "enter into his mother's womb, and be born?"

Seest thou how when one commits spiritual things to his own reasonings, he speaks ridiculously, seems to be trifling, or to be drunken, when he pries into what has been said beyond what seems good to God, and admits not the submission of faith? Nicodemus heard of the spiritual Birth, yet perceived it not as spiritual, but dragged down the words to the lowness of the flesh, and made a doctrine so great and high depend upon physical consequence. And so he invents frivolities, and ridiculous difficulties. Wherefore Paul said, "The natural [631] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit." ( 1 Cor. ii. 14 .) Yet even in this he preserved his reverence for Christ, for he did not mock at what had been said, but, deeming it impossible, held his peace. There were two difficulties; a Birth of this kind, and the Kingdom; for neither had the name of the Kingdom ever been heard among the Jews, nor of a Birth like this. But he stops for a while at the first, which most astonished [632] his mind.

Let us then, knowing this, not enquire into things relating to God by reasoning, nor bring heavenly matters under the rule of earthly consequences, nor subject them to the necessity of nature; but let us think of all reverently, believing as the Scriptures have said; for the busy and curious person gains nothing, and besides not finding what he seeks, shall suffer extreme punishment. Thou hast heard, that (the Father) begat (the Son): believe what thou hast heard; but do ask not, "How," and so take away the Generation; to do so would be extreme folly. For if this man, because, on hearing of a Generation, not that ineffable Generation , but this which is by grace, he conceived nothing great concerning it, but human and earthly thoughts, was therefore darkened and in doubt, what punishment must they deserve, who are busy and curious about that most awful Generation , which transcends all reason and intellect? For nothing causes such dizziness [633] as human reasoning, all whose words are of earth, and which cannot endure to be enlightened from above. Earthly reasonings are full of mud, and therefore need we streams from heaven, that when the mud has settled, the clearer portion may rise and mingle with the heavenly lessons; and this comes to pass, when we present an honest soul and an upright life. For certainly it is possible for the intellect to be darkened, not only by unseasonable curiosity, but also by corrupt manners; wherefore Paul hath said to the Corinthians, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able, for ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal?" ( 1 Cor. iii. 2 .) And also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in many places, one may see Paul asserting that this is the cause of evil doctrines; for that the soul possessed by passions [634] cannot behold anything great or noble, but as if darkened by a sort of film [635] suffers most grievous dimsightedness.

Let us then cleanse ourselves, let us kindle the light of knowledge, let us not sow among thorns. What the thorns are, ye know, though we tell you not; for often ye have heard Christ call the cares of this present life, and the deceitfulness of riches, by this name. ( Matt. xiii. 22 .) And with reason. For as thorns are unfruitful, so are these things; as thorns tear those that handle them, so do these passions; as thorns are readily caught by the fire, and hateful by the husbandman, so too are the things of the world; as in thorns, wild beasts, and snakes, and scorpions hide themselves, so do they in the deceitfulness of riches. But let us kindle the fire of the Spirit, that we may consume the thorns, and drive away the beasts, and make the field clear for the husbandman; and after cleansing it, let us water it with the streams of the Spirit, let us plant the fruitful olive, that most kindly of trees, the evergreen, the light-giving, the nutritious, the wholesome. All these qualities hath almsgiving, which is, as it were, a seal on [636] those that possess it. This plant not even death when it comes causes to wither, but ever it stands enlightening the mind, feeding the sinews [637] of the soul, and rendering its strength mightier. And if we constantly possess it, we shall be able with confidence to behold the Bridegroom, and to enter into the bridal chamber; to which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[612] eis to onoma autou , G. T. [613] a kribesteroi , al. a sphalesteroi . [614] panta [ pantas , G. T.]. [615] euripistoi . [616] me ho nomos hemon k.t.l . G. T. [617] Iesoun , G. T. [618] peri ton Ch . [619] Pharisaious , G. T. [620] strephetai . [621] e nergoumenon auton . [622] metriazon . [623] al. "of truth." [624] or, "laver." [625] psuchike , "belonging to the natural life," opposed in N.T. to pneumatike . [626] or, "strike." [627] a nothen ("again," or "from above"). [628] lit. "introduces." [629] Ben. transposes the clauses. [630] i lingia . [631] psuchikos . [632] lit. "shook." [633] al. "dreadful darkness." [634] e mpathe . [635] lemes . [636] lit. "with." [637] neura .


Homily XXV.

John iii. 5

"Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."

[1.] Little children who go daily to their teachers receive their lessons, and repeat [638] them, and never cease from this kind of acquisition, but sometimes employ nights as well as days, and this they are compelled [639] to do for perishable and transient things. Now we do not ask of you who are come to age such toil as you require of your children; for not every day, but two days only in the week do we exhort you to hearken to our words, and only for a short portion of the day, that your task may be an easy one. For the same reason also we divide [640] to you in small portions what is written in Scripture, that you may be able easily to receive and lay them up in the storehouses of your minds, and take such pains to remember them all, as to be able exactly to repeat them to others yourselves, unless any one be sleepy, and dull, and more idle than a little child.

Let us now attend to the sequel of what has been before said. When Nicodemus fell into error and wrested the words of Christ to the earthly birth, and said that it was not possible for an old man to be born again, observe how Christ in answer more clearly reveals the manner of the Birth, which even thus had difficulty for the carnal enquirer, yet still was able to raise the hearer from his low opinion of it. What saith He? "Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." What He declares is this: "Thou sayest that it is impossible, I say that it is so absolutely possible as to be necessary, and that it is not even possible otherwise to be saved." For necessary things God hath made exceedingly easy also. The earthly birth which is according to the flesh, is of the dust, and therefore heaven [641] is walled against it, for what hath earth in common with heaven? But that other, which is of the Spirit, easily unfolds to us the arches [642] above. Hear, ye as many as are unilluminated, [643] shudder, groan, fearful is the threat, fearful the sentence. [644] "It is not (possible)," He saith, "for one not born of water and the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of heaven"; because he wears the raiment of death, of cursing, of perdition, he hath not yet received his Lord's token, [645] he is a stranger and an alien, he hath not the royal watchword. "Except," He saith, "a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven."

Yet even thus Nicodemus did not understand. Nothing is worse than to commit spiritual things to argument; it was this that would not suffer him to suppose anything sublime and great. This is why we are called faithful, that having left the weakness of human reasonings below, [646] we may ascend to the height of faith, and commit most of our blessings to her [647] teaching; [648] and if Nicodemus had done this, the thing would not have been thought by him impossible. What then doth Christ? To lead him away from his groveling imagination, and to show that He speaks not of the earthly birth, He saith, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven." This He spoke, willing to draw him to the faith by the terror of the threat, and to persuade him not to deem the thing impossible, and taking pains to move him from his imagination as to the carnal birth. "I mean," saith He, "another Birth, O Nicodemus. Why drawest thou down the saying to earth? Why subjectest thou the matter to the necessity of nature? This Birth is too high for such pangs as these; it hath nothing in common with you; it is indeed called `birth,' but in name only has it aught in common, in reality it is different. Remove thyself from that which is common and familiar; a different kind of childbirth bring I into the world; in another manner will I have men to be generated: I have come to bring a new manner of Creation. I formed (man) of earth and water; but that which was formed was unprofitable, the vessel was wrenched awry; [649] I will no more form them of earth and water, but `of water' and `of the Spirit.'"

And if any one asks, "How of water? " I also will ask, How of earth? How was the clay separated into different parts? How was the material uniform, (it was earth only,) and the things made from it, various and of every kind? Whence are the bones, and sinews, and arteries, and veins? Whence the membranes, and vessels of the organs, the cartilages, the tissues, the liver, spleen, and heart? whence the skin, and blood, and mucus, and bile? whence so great powers, whence such varied colors? These belong not to earth or clay. How does the earth, when it receives the seeds, cause them to shoot, while the flesh receiving them wastes them? How does the earth nourish what is put into it, while the flesh is nourished by these things, and does not nourish them? The earth, for instance, receives water, and makes it wine; the flesh often receives wine, and changes it into water. Whence then is it clear that these things are formed of earth, when the nature of the earth is, according to what has been said, [650] contrary to that of the body? I cannot discover by reasoning, I accept it by faith only. If then things which take place daily, and which we handle, require faith, much more do those which are more mysterious and more spiritual than these. For as the earth, which is soulless and motionless, was empowered by the will of God, and such wonders were worked in it; much more when the Spirit is present with the water, do all those things so strange and transcending reason, easily take place.

[2.] Do not then disbelieve these things, because thou seest them not; thou dost not see thy soul, and yet thou believest that thou hast a soul, and that it is a something different besides [651] the body.

But Christ led him not in by this example, but by another; the instance of the soul, though it is incorporeal, He did not adduce for that reason, because His hearer's disposition was as yet too dull. He sets before him another, which has no connection with the density of solid bodies, yet does not reach so high as to the incorporeal natures; that is, the movement of wind. He begins at first with water, which is lighter than earth, but denser than air. And as in the beginning earth was the subject material, [652] but the whole [653] was of Him who molded it; so also now water is the subject material, and the whole [654] is of the grace of the Spirit: then, "man became a living soul," ( Gen. ii. 7 ); now he becomes "a quickening Spirit." But great is the difference between the two. Soul affords not life to any other than him in whom it is; Spirit not only lives, but affords life to others also. Thus, for instance, the Apostles even raised the dead. Then, man was formed last, when the creation had been accomplished; now, on the contrary, the new man is formed before the new creation; he is born first, and then the world is fashioned anew. ( 1 Cor. xv. 45 .) And as in the beginning He formed him entire, so He creates him entire now. Then He said, "Let us make for him a help" ( Gen. ii. 18 , LXX.), but here He said nothing of the kind. What other help shall he need, who has received the gift of the Spirit? What further need of assistance has he, who belongs to [655] the Body of Christ? Then He made man in the image of God, now He hath united [656] him with God Himself; then He bade him rule over the fishes and beasts, now He hath exalted our first-fruits above the heavens; then He gave him a garden for his abode, [657] now He hath opened heaven to us; then man was formed on the sixth day, when the world [658] was almost finished; but now on the first, at the very beginning, at the time when light was made before. From all which it is plain, that the things accomplished belonged to [659] another and a better life, and to a condition [660] having no end.

The first creation then, that of Adam, was from earth; the next, that of the woman, from his rib; the next, that of Abel, from seed; yet we cannot arrive at the comprehension of [661] any one of these, nor prove the circumstances by argument, though they are of a most earthly nature; [662] how then shall we be able to give account of the unseen [663] generation [664] by Baptism, which is far more exalted than these, or to require arguments [665] for that strange and marvelous Birth? [666] Since even Angels stand by while that Generation takes place, but they could not tell the manner of that marvelous working, they stand by only, not performing anything, but beholding what takes place. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, worketh all. Let us then believe the declaration of God; that is more trustworthy than actual seeing. The sight often is in error, it is impossible that God's Word should fail; let us then believe it; that which called the things that were not into existence may well be trusted when it speaks of their nature. What then says it? That what is effected is a Generation . If any ask, "How," stop his mouth with the declaration of God, [667] which is the strongest and a plain proof. If any enquire, "Why is water included?" let us also in return ask, "Wherefore was earth employed at the beginning in the creation of man?" for that it was possible for God to make man without earth, is quite plain to every one. Be not then over-curious.

That the need of water is absolute and indispensable, [668] you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" ( Acts x. 47 .)

What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery. [669] There are also other points of mystical teaching connected with the matter, but for the present I will mention to you one out of many. What is this one? In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God; [670] burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever; [671] then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead. [672] As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfilleth all this. To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, "We are buried with Him by Baptism into death": and again, "Our old man is crucified with Him": and again, "We have been planted together in the likeness of His death." ( Rom. vi. 4, 5, 6 .) And not only is Baptism called a "cross," but the "cross" is called "Baptism." "With the Baptism," saith Christ, "that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized" ( Mark x. 39 ): and, "I have a Baptism to be baptized with" ( Luke xii. 50 ) (which ye know not); for as we easily dip and lift our heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed or rather much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the dispensation of a certain mystery.

[3.] Let us then who have been deemed worthy of such mysteries show forth a life worthy of the Gift, that is, a most excellent conversation; [673] and do ye who have not yet been deemed worthy, do all things that you may be so, that we may be one body, that we may be brethren. For as long as we are divided in this respect, though a man be father, or son, or brother, or aught else, he is no true kinsman, as being cut off from that relationship which is from above. What advantageth it to be bound by the ties of earthly family, if we are not joined by those of the spiritual? what profits nearness of kin on earth, if we are to be strangers in heaven? For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful. He hath not the same Head, he hath not the same Father, he hath not the same City, nor Food, nor Raiment, nor Table, nor House, but all are different; all are on earth to the former, to the latter all are in heaven. One has Christ for his King; the other, sin and the devil; the food [674] of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes; one has worms' work for his raiment, the other the Lord of angels; heaven is the city of one, earth of the other. Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion? Did we remove the same pangs, [675] did we come forth from the same womb? This has nothing to do with that most perfect relationship. Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city which is above. How long do we tarry over the border, [676] when we ought to reclaim our ancient country? We risk no common danger; for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated, [677] though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble. But God grant that none of those who hear these words experience that punishment! And this will be, if having been deemed worthy of the sacred mysteries, we build upon that foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones; for so after our departure hence we shall be able to appear in that place rich, when we leave not our riches here, but transport them to inviolable treasuries by the hands of the poor, when we lend to Christ. Many are our debts there, not of money, but of sins; let us then lend Him our riches, that we may receive pardon for our sins; for He it is that judgeth. Let us not neglect Him here when He hungereth, that He may ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him. If here we give Him drink, we shall not with the rich man say, "Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may drop water on my broiling [678] tongue." If here we receive Him into our house, there He will prepare many mansions for us; if we go to Him in prison, He too will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He also will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.

Let us then, as receiving great things though we give but little, still give the little that we may gain the great. While it is yet time, let us sow, that we may reap. When the winter overtakes us, when the sea is no longer navigable, we are no longer masters of this traffic. But when shall the winter be? When that great and manifest Day is at hand. Then we shall cease to sail this great and broad sea, for such the present life resembles. Now is the time of sowing, then of harvest and of gain. If a man puts not in his seed at seed time and sows in harvest, besides that he effects nothing, he will be ridiculous. But if the present is seed time, it follows that it is a time not for gathering together, but for scattering; let us then scatter, that we may gather in, and not seek to gather in now, lest we lose our harvest; for, as I said, this season summons us to sow, and spend, and lay out, not to collect and lay by. Let us not then give up the opportunity, but let us put in abundant seed, and spare none of our stores, that we may receive them again with abundant recompense, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[638] a podidosi . [639] al. [by you]. [640] diaxainomen [641] lit. "things in heaven." [642] a psidas . [643] i.e. unbaptized. [644] a pophasis . [645] sumbolon . [646] or, "which is below." [647] al. "this." [648] i.e. submit to the teaching of faith concerning them. [649] diestraphe . [650] kata ta eiremena . This seems to be the best reading, and is found in Morel. Ben. and mss. Savile reads the passage thus: to soma ; ta eiremena logismo men eurein, k.t.l . [651] para . [652] hu pekeito stoicheion . [653] to pan , i.e. the fabric of the human body. [654] i.e. the new man. [655] ho telon eis to soma . [656] he nose . [657] diaitan . [658] aion . [659] al. "were the first-fruits of." [660] katastaseos . [661] e phikesthai . [662] pachutata . [663] noetes . [664] genneseos . [665] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "but if it is impossible to reply to these questions, how shall it not be more impossible to speak concerning the unseen and far higher Generation? or rather, how is it not superfluous to demand reasons," &c. [666] locheias . [667] al. "of Christ." [668] a nankaia kai aparaitetos . [669] [as it is allowed me from above] Morel. [670] theia teleitai en auto sumbola . So in Euseb. Hist. Ecc . x. 3. Baptism is said to be soteriou pathous aporrheta sumbola . See also Rufinus. de Constant . 9. 9. [671] Morel. "having been immersed below, is hidden wholly once for all." [The whole passage is important for the patristic view of the mode of baptism.--P.S.] [672] palin . [673] politeian . [674] al. "the delight." [675] i.e. "were we twins." [676] hu perorias . [677] i.e. unbaptized. [678] a poteganizomene .


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