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 XXXV.

John iv. 40-43

"So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own Word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee."

Nothing is worse than envy and malice, nothing more mischievous than vainglory; it is wont to mar ten thousand good things. So the Jews, who excelled the Samaritans in knowledge, and had been always familiar with [913] the Prophets, were shown from this cause inferior to them. For these believed even on the testimony of the woman, and without having seen any sign, came forth beseeching Christ to tarry [914] with them; but the Jews, when they had beheld His wonders, not only did not detain Him among them, but even drove Him away, and used every means to cast Him forth from their land, although His very Coming [915] had been for their sake. The Jews expelled Him, but these even entreated Him to tarry with them. Was it not then rather fitting, tell me, that He should receive those who asked and besought Him, than that He should wait upon those who plotted against and repulsed Him, while to those who loved and desired to retain Him He gave not Himself? Surely this would not have been worthy of His tender care; [916] He therefore both accepted [917] them, and tarried with them two days. They desired to keep Him among them continually, (for this the Evangelist has shown by saying, that "they besought Him that He would tarry with them,") but this He endured not, but stayed with them only two days; and in these many more believed on Him. Yet there was no likelihood that these would have believed, since they had seen no sign, and had hostile feelings towards the Jews; but still, inasmuch as they gave in sincerity their judgment on His words, this stood not in their way, but they received a notion which surmounted their hindrances, and vied with each other to reverence Him the more. For, saith the Evangelist, "they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." The scholars overshot their instructress. With good reason might they condemn the Jews, both by their believing on, and their receiving Him. The Jews, for whose sake He had contrived [918] the whole scheme, [919] continually were for stoning Him, [920] but these, when He was not even intending to come to them, drew Him to themselves. And they, even with signs, remain uncorrected; these, without signs, manifested great faith respecting Him, and glory in this very thing that they believe without them; while the others ceased not asking [921] for signs and tempting Him.

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Such need is there everywhere of an honest soul; and if truth lay hold on such an one, she easily masters it; or if she masters it not, this is owing not to any weakness of truth, but to want of candor [922] in the soul itself. Since the sun too, when he encounters clear eyes, easily enlightens them; if he enlightens them not, it is the fault of their infirmity, not of his weakness.

Hear then what these say; "We know that this is of a truth the Christ, the Saviour of the world." Seest thou how they at once understood that He should draw the world to Him, that He came to order aright [923] our common salvation, that He intended not to confine His care to the Jews, but to sow His Word everywhere? The Jews did not so, but going about to establish their own righteousness, submitted not themselves to the righteousness of God; while these confess that all are deserving of punishment, declaring with the Apostle, that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace." ( Rom. iii. 23, 24 .)For by saying that He was "the Saviour of the world," they showed that it was of a lost world, [924] and He not simply a Saviour, but one of the very mightiest. For many had come to "save," both Prophets and Angels [925] ; but this, saith one, is the True Saviour, who affordeth the true salvation, not that which is but for a time. This proceeded from pure faith. And in both ways are they admirable; because they believed, and because they did so without signs, (whom Christ also calleth "blessed," saying, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,") ( c. xx. 29 ,) and because they did so sincerely. Though they had heard the woman say doubtfully, "Is not this the Christ?" they did not also say, "we too suspect," or, "we think," [926] but, "we know," and not merely, "we know," but, "we know that this is of a truth the Saviour of the world." They acknowledged Christ not as one of the many, [927] but as the "Saviour" indeed. Yet whom had they seen saved? They had but heard His words, and yet they spake as they would have spoken had they beheld many and great marvels. And why do not the Evangelists tell us these words, and that He discoursed admirably? That thou mayest learn that they pass by many important matters, and yet have declared the whole to us by the event. For He persuaded an entire people and a whole city by His words. When His hearers are not persuaded, then the writers are constrained to mention what was said, lest any one from the insensibility of the hearers should give a judgment against Him who addressed them.

"Now after two days He departed thence and went into Galilee."

Ver. 44 . "For Jesus Himself testified that a Prophet hath no honor in his own country."

Wherefore is this added? Because He departed not unto Capernaum, but into Galilee, and thence to Cana. For that thou mayest not enquire why He tarried not with His own people, but tarried with the Samaritans, the Evangelist puts the cause, [928] saying that they gave no heed unto Him; on this account He went not thither, that their condemnation might not be the greater. For I suppose that in this place He speaketh of Capernaum as "His country." Now, to show that there He received no honor, hear Him say, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell." ( Matt. xi. 23 .) He calleth it "His own country," because there He set forth the Word of the Dispensation, and more especially dwelt upon it. "What then," saith some one, "do we not see many admired among their kindred?" In the first place such judgments must not be formed from rare instances; and again, if some have been honored in their own, they would have been much more honored in a strange country, for familiarity is wont to make men easily despised.

Ver. 45 . "Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast, for they also came unto the feast."

Seest thou that these men so ill spoken of are found most to come to Him? For one said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" ( c. i. 46 ), and another, "Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." ( c. vii. 52 .) These things they said insulting Him, because He was supposed by the many to be of Nazareth, and they also reproached Him with being a Samaritan; "Thou art a Samaritan," said one, "and hast a devil." ( c. viii. 48 .) Yet behold, both Samaritans and Galilæans believe, to the shame of the Jews, and Samaritans are found better than Galilæans, for the first received Him through the words of the woman, the second when they had seen the miracles which He did.

Ver. 46 . "So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine."

The Evangelist reminds the hearer of the miracle to exalt the praise of the Samaritans. The men of Cana received Him by reason of the miracles which He had done in Jerusalem and in that place; but not so the Samaritans, they received Him through His teaching alone.

That He came then "to Cana," the Evangelist has said, but he has not added the cause why He came. [929] Into Galilee He had come because of the envy of the Jews; but wherefore to Cana? At first He came, being invited to a marriage; but wherefore now? Methinks to confirm by His presence the faith which had been implanted by His miracle, and to draw them to Him the more by coming to them self-invited, by leaving His own country, and by preferring them.

"And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum."

Ver. 47 . "When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judæa into Galilee, he went unto Him and besought Him that He would come down and heal his son."

This person certainly was of royal race, or possessed some dignity from his office, to which the title "noble" was attached. Some indeed think that this is the man mentioned by Matthew ( Matt. viii. 5 ), but he is shown to be a different person, not only from his dignity, but also from his faith. That other, even when Christ was willing to go to him, entreats Him to tarry; this one, when He had made no such offer, draws Him to his house. The one saith, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof"; but this other even urges [930] Him, saying, "Come down ere my son die." In that instance He came down from the mountain, and entered into Capernaum; but here, as He came from Samaria, and went not into Capernaum but into Cana, this person met Him. The servant of the other was possessed by the palsy, this one's son by a fever.

"And he came and besought Him that He would heal his son: for he was at the point of death." What saith Christ?

Ver. 48 . "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."

Yet the very coming and beseeching Him was a mark of faith. And besides, after this the Evangelist witnesses to him, [931] declaring that when Jesus said, "Go, thy son liveth," he believed His word, and went. What then is that which He saith here? Either He useth the words as approving of [932] the Samaritans because they believed without signs; or, to touch Capernaum which was thought to be His own city, and of which this person was. Moreover, another man in Luke, who says, "Lord, I believe," said besides, "help Thou mine unbelief." [933] And so if this ruler also believed, yet he believed not entirely or soundly, as is clear from his enquiring "at what hour the fever left him," since he desired to know whether it did so of its own accord, or at the bidding of Christ. When therefore he knew that it was "yesterday at the seventh hour," then "himself believed and his whole house."

Seest thou that he believed when his servants, not when Christ spake? Therefore He rebuketh the state of mind with which he had come to Him, and spoken as he did, (thus too He the more drew him on to belief,) because that before the miracle he had not believed strongly. That he came and entreated was nothing wonderful, for parents in their great affection are also wont to resort not only to physicians in whom they have confidence, but also to talk with those in whom they have no confidence, desiring to omit nothing whatever. [934] Indeed, that he came without any strong purpose [935] appears from this, that when Christ was come into Galilee, then he saw Him, whereas if he had firmly believed in Him, he would not, when his child was on the point of death, have hesitated to go into Judæa. Or if he was afraid, this is not to be endured either. [936]

Observe how the very words show the weakness of the man; when he ought, after Christ had rebuked his state of mind, to have imagined something great concerning Him, even if he did not so before, listen how he drags along the ground.

Ver. 49 . "Sir," he saith, "come down ere my child die."

As though He could not raise him after death, as though He knew not what state the child was in. It is for this that Christ rebuketh him and toucheth his conscience, to show that His miracles were wrought principally for the sake of the soul. For here He healeth the father, sick in mind, no less than the son, in order to persuade us to give heed to Him, not by reason of His miracles, but of His teaching. For miracles are not for the faithful, but for the unbelieving and the grosser sort.

[3.] At that time then, owing to his emotion, the nobleman gave no great heed to the words, or to those only which related to his son, [937] yet he would afterwards recollect what had been said, and draw from thence the greatest advantage. As indeed was the case.

But what can be the reason why in the case of the centurion He by a free offer undertook to come, while here though invited, He goeth not? Because in the former case faith had been perfected, and therefore He undertook to go, that we might learn the rightmindedness of the man; but here the nobleman was imperfect. When therefore he continually [938] urged Him, saying, "Come down," and knew not yet clearly that even when absent He could heal, He showeth that even this was possible unto Him in order that this man might gain from Jesus not going, that knowledge which the centurion had of himself. [939] And so when He saith," Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe," His meaning is, "Ye have not yet the right faith, but still feel towards Me as towards a Prophet." Therefore to reveal Himself and to show that he ought to have believed even without miracles, He said what He said also to Philip, "Believest thou [940] that the Father is in Me and I in the Father? [941] Or if not, believe Me for the very works' sake." ( c. xiv. 10, 11 .)

Ver. 51-53 . "And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house."

Seest thou how evident the miracle was? Not simply nor in a common way was the child freed from danger, but all at once, so that what took place was seen to be the consequence not of nature, but the working [942] of Christ. For when he had reached the very gates of death, as his father showed by saying, "Come down ere my child die"; he was all at once freed from the disease. A fact which roused the servants also, for they perhaps came to meet their master, not only to bring him the good news, but also deeming that the coming of Jesus was now superfluous, (for they knew that their master was gone there,) and so they met him even in the way. The man released from his fear, thenceforth escaped [943] into faith, being desirous to show that what had been done was the result of his journey, and thenceforth he is ambitious of appearing not to have exerted himself [944] to no purpose; so he ascertained all things exactly, and "himself believed and his whole house." For the evidence was after this unquestionable. For they who had not been present nor had heard Christ speak nor known the time, when they had heard from their master that such and such was the time, had incontrovertible demonstration of His power. Wherefore they also believed.

What now are we taught by these things? Not to wait for miracles, nor to seek pledges of the Power of God. I see many persons even now become more pious, [945] when during the sufferings of a child or the sickness of a wife they enjoy any comfort, yet they ought even if they obtain it not, to persist just the same in giving thanks, in glorifying God. Because it is the part of right-minded servants, and of those who feel such affection [946] and love as they ought for their Master, not only when pardoned, but also when scourged, to run to Him. For these also are effects of the tender care of God; "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth," it says, "every son whom He receiveth." ( Heb. xii. 6 .) When therefore a man serves Him only in the season of ease, he gives proofs of no great love, and loves not Christ purely. And why speak I of health, or abundant riches, or poverty, or disease? Shouldest thou hear of the fiery pit or of any other dreadful thing, not even so must thou cease from speaking good of thy Master, but suffer and do all things because of thy love for Him. For this is the part of right-minded servants and of an unswerving soul; and he who is disposed after this sort will easily endure the present, and obtain good [947] things to come, and enjoy much confidence in the presence of [948] God; which may it be that we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[913] lit. " brought up with. " [914] al. " to be. " [915] Ben. " that coming. " [916] kedemonias [917] al. " elected. " [918] al. " instituted. " [919] i.e. of Redemption. pasan ten pragmateian sunestesato [920] al. " them, " i.e. the Prophets. [921] al. " seeking. " [922] a gnomosunen [923] e pi diorthosei [924] ms. in Bodl. reads, " and why say I of a lost world? of a world which was in evils great exceedingly. " [925] or, " messengers. " [926] al. " suppose. " [927] i.e. who had wrought deliverances. [928] ms. in Bodl. " and this is, that ` a prophet hath no honor in his own country. '" [929] ms. in Bodl. reads, " and why, saith some one, went He again to Cana? " [930] al. " brings on. " [931] al. " witnesses it. " [932] thaumazon [933] Mark ix. 24 [not found in St. Luke]. [934] ms. in Bodl. adds, " of things belonging to carefulness. " [935] e k parergou [936] i.e. in a true believer. [937] Morel. " and regarded only what was taking place concerning his son. " [938] a no kai kato [939] oikothen [940] ms. in Bodl. reads, " He said this as (He said) to the disciples, ` Believe, ' " &c. [941] e go en to Patri kai ho Pater en emoi . G. T. and Ben. [942] e nergeias [943] diekupse [944] lit. " been aroused. " [945] eulabesterous [946] al. " are stanch. " [947] al. " all. " [948] al. " from. "


Homily XXXVI.

John iv. 54; v. 1

"This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judæa into Galilee. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem."

[1.] As in gold mines one skillful in what relates to them would not endure to overlook even the smallest vein as producing much wealth, so in the holy Scriptures it is impossible without loss to pass by one jot or one tittle, we must search into all. For they all are uttered by the Holy Spirit, and nothing useless [949] is written in them.

Consider, for instance, what the Evangelist in this place saith, "This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judæa into Galilee." Even the word "second" he has added not without cause, but to exalt yet more the praise [950] of the Samaritans, by showing that even when a second miracle had been wrought, they who beheld it had not yet reached as high as those who had not seen one.

"After this there was a feast of the Jews." What "feast"? Methinks that of Pentecost. "And Jesus went up to Jerusalem." Continually at the feasts He frequenteth the City, partly that He might appear to feast with them, partly that He might attract the multitude that was free from guile; for during these days [951] especially, the more simply disposed ran together more than at other times.

Ver. 2, 3 . "Now there is at Jerusalem a sheep pool, [952] called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, [953] of halt, blind, withered, waiting for the moving of the water."

What manner of cure is this? What mystery doth it signify to us? For these things are not written carelessly, or without a purpose, but as by a figure and type they show in outline [954] things to come, in order that what was exceedingly strange might not by coming unexpectedly harm among the many the power of faith. [955] What then is it that they show in outline? A Baptism was about to be given, possessing much power, and the greatest of gifts, a Baptism purging all sins, and making men alive instead of dead. These things then are foreshown as in a picture by the pool, and by many other circumstances. And first is given a water which purges the stains of our bodies, and those defilements which are not, but seem to be, as those from touching the dead, [956] those from leprosy, and other similar causes; under the old covenant one may see many things done by water on this account. However, let us now proceed to the matter in hand.

First then, as I before said, He causeth defilements of our bodies, and afterwards infirmities of different kinds, to be done away by water. Because God, desiring to bring us nearer to faith in [957] baptism, no longer healeth defilements only, but diseases also. For those figures which came nearer [in time] to the reality, both as regarded Baptism, and the Passion, and the rest, were plainer than the more ancient; [958] and as the guards near the person of the prince are more splendid than those before, [959] so was it with the types. And "an Angel came down and troubled the water," and endued it with a healing power, that the Jews might learn that much more could the Lord of Angels heal the diseases [960] of the soul. Yet as here it was not simply the nature of the water that healed, (for then this would have always taken place,) but water joined to the operation [961] of the Angel; so in our case, it is not merely the water that worketh, but when it hath received the grace of the Spirit, then it putteth away [962] all our sins. Around this pool "lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water"; but then infirmity was a hindrance to him who desired to be healed, now each hath power to approach, for now it is not an Angel that troubleth, it is the Lord of Angels who worketh all. The sick man cannot now say, "I have no man"; he cannot say, "While I am coming another steppeth down before me"; though the whole world should come, the grace is not spent, the power is not exhausted, but remaineth equally great as it was before. Just as the sun's beams give light every day, yet are not exhausted, nor is their light made less by giving so abundant a supply; so, and much more, the power of the Spirit is in no way lessened by the numbers of those who enjoy it. And this miracle was done in order that men, learning that it is possible by water to heal the diseases of the body, and being exercised in this for a long time, might more easily believe that it can also heal the diseases of the soul.

But why did Jesus, leaving the rest, come to one who was of thirty-eight years standing? And why did He ask him, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Not that He might learn, that was needless; but that He might show [963] the man's perseverance, and that we might know that it was on this account that He left the others and came to him. What then saith he? "Yea Lord," he saith, but "I have no man when the water is troubled to put me into the pool, but while I am coming another steppeth down before me."

It was that we might learn these circumstances that Jesus asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" and said not, "Wilt thou that I heal thee?" (for as yet the man had formed no exalted notions concerning Him,) but "Wilt thou be made whole?" Astonishing was the perseverance of the paralytic, he was of thirty and eight years standing, and each year hoping to be freed from his disease, he continued in attendance, [964] and withdrew not. Had he not been very persevering, would not the future, [965] if not the past, have been sufficient to lead him from the spot? Consider, I pray you, how watchful it was likely that the other sick men there would be since the time when the water was troubled was uncertain. The lame and halt indeed might observe it, but how did the blind see? Perhaps they learnt it from the clamor which arose.

[2.] Let us be ashamed then, beloved, let us be ashamed, and groan over our excessive sloth. "Thirty and eight years" had that man been waiting without obtaining what he desired, and withdrew not. And he had failed not through any carelessness of his own, but through being oppressed and suffering violence from others, and not even thus did he grow dull; [966] while we if we have persisted for ten days to pray for anything and have not obtained it, are too slothful afterwards to employ the same zeal. And on men we wait for so long a time, warring and enduring hardships and performing servile ministrations, and often at last failing in our expectation, but on our [967] Master, from whom we are sure to obtain a recompense greater than our labors, (for, saith the Apostle, "Hope maketh not ashamed"-- Rom. v. 5 ,) on Him we endure not to wait with becoming diligence. What chastisement doth this deserve! For even though we could receive nothing from Him, ought we not to deem the very conversing with Him continually the cause of [968] ten thousand blessings? "But continual prayer is a laborious thing." And what that belongs to virtue is not laborious? "In truth," says some one, "this very point is full of great difficulty, that pleasure is annexed to vice, and labor to virtue." And many, I think, make this a question. What then can be the reason? [969] God gave us at the beginning a life free from care and exempt from labor. We used not the gift aright, but were perverted by doing nothing, [970] and were banished from Paradise. On which account He made our life for the future one of toil, assigning as it were His reasons for this to mankind, and saying, "I allowed you at the beginning to lead a life of enjoyment, [971] but ye were rendered worse by liberty, wherefore I commanded that henceforth labor and sweat be laid upon you." [972] And when even this labor did not restrain us, He next gave us a law containing many commandments, imposing it on us like bits and curbs placed upon an unruly horse to restrain his prancings, just as horse breakers do. This is why life is laborious, because not to labor is wont to be our ruin. For our nature cannot bear to be doing nothing, but easily turns aside to wickedness. Let us suppose that the man who is temperate, and he who rightly performs the other virtues, has no need of labor, but that they do all things in their sleep, still how should we have employed our ease? Would it not have been for pride and boastfulness? "But wherefore," saith some one, "has great pleasure been attached to vice, great labor and toil to virtue?" Why, what thanks wouldest thou have had, and for what wouldest thou have received a reward, if the matter had not been one of difficulty? Even now I can show you many who naturally hate intercourse with women, and avoid conversation with them as impure; shall we then call these chaste, shall we crown these, tell me, and proclaim them victors? By no means. Chastity is self-restraint, and the mastering pleasures which fight, just as in war the trophies are most honorable when the contest is violent, not when no one raises a hand against us. Many are by their very nature passionless; shall we call these good tempered? Not at all. And so the Lord after naming three manners of the eunuch state, leaveth two of them uncrowned, and admitteth one into the kingdom of heaven. ( Matt. xix. 12 .) "But what need," saith one, "was there of wickedness?" I say this too. "What is it then which made wickedness to be?" What but our willful negligence? "But," saith one, "there ought to be only good men." Well, what is proper to the good man? Is it to watch and be sober, or to sleep and snore? "And why," saith one, "seemed [973] it not good that a man should act rightly without laboring?" Thou speakest words which become the cattle or gluttons, or who make their belly their god. For to prove that these are the words of folly, answer me this. Suppose there were a king and a general, and while the king was asleep or drunk, the general should endure hardship and erect a trophy, whose would you count the victory to be? who would enjoy the pleasure of what was done? Seest thou that the soul is more especially disposed towards those things for which she hath labored? and therefore God hath joined labors to virtue, wishing to make us attached to her. For this cause we admire virtue, even although we act not rightly ourselves, while we condemn vice even though it be very pleasant. And if thou sayest, "Why do we not admire those who are good by nature more than those who are so by choice?" we reply, Because it is just to prefer him that laboreth to him that laboreth not. For why is it that we labor? It is because thou didst not bear with moderation the not laboring. Nay more, if one enquire exactly, in other ways also sloth is wont to undo us, and to cause us much trouble. Let us, if you will, shut a man up, only feeding and pampering him, not allowing him to walk nor conducting him forth to work, but let him enjoy table and bed, and be in luxury continually; what could be more wretched than such a life? "But," saith one, "to work is one thing, to labor is another." [974] Yea, but it was in man's power then [975] to work without labor. "And is this," saith he, "possible?" Yea, it is possible; God even desired it, but thou enduredst it not. Therefore He placed thee to work in the garden, marking out employment, but joining with it no labor. For had man labored at the beginning, God would not afterwards have put labor by way of punishment. For it is possible to work and not to be wearied, as do the angels. To prove that they work, hear what David saith; "Ye that excel in strength, ye that do His word." ( Ps. ciii. 20 , LXX.) Want of strength causeth much labor now, but then it was not so. For "he that hath entered into His rest, hath ceased," saith one, "from his works, as God from His" ( Heb. iv. 10 ): not meaning here idleness, but the ceasing from labor. For God worketh even now, as Christ saith, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." ( c. v. 17 .) Wherefore I exhort you that, laying aside all carelessness, you be zealous for virtue. For the pleasure of wickedness is short, but the pain lasting; of virtue, on the contrary, the joy grows not old, the labor is but for a season. Virtue even before the crowns are distributed animates [976] her workman, and feeds him with hopes; vice even before the time of vengeance punishes him who works for her, wringing and terrifying his conscience, and making it apt to imagine all (evils). Are not these things worse than any labors, than any toils? And if these things were not so, if there were pleasure, what could be more worthless than that pleasure? for as soon as it appears it flies away, withering and escaping before it has been grasped, whether you speak of the pleasure of beauty, or that of luxury, or that of wealth, for they cease not daily to decay. But when there is besides (for this pleasure) punishment and vengeance, what can be more miserable than those who go after it? Knowing then this, let us endure all for virtue, so shall we enjoy true pleasure, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[949] lit. " distracting. " [950] lit. " wonder. " [951] al. " feasts. " [952] probatike kolumbethra [ e pi te p . G. T.]. [953] [ a sthenounton ] G. T. and Ben. [954] hu pographei , al. proup [955] al. " harm the faith of the hearers. " [956] a po kedeias , Num. v [957] lit. " faith of, " al. " the gift of. " [958] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. " have more power to lead by the hand than the archetypes. " [959] al. " afar. " [960] al. " hindrances. " [961] e pi te energeia , al. " at the coming down. " [962] luei [963] al. " teach. " [964] al. " lay in wait. " [965] i.e. the manifest hopelessness of his being able to go down first into the pool. [966] e narka [967] al. " the kind. " [968] al. " worth. " [969] Morel and ms. in Bodl. " but hear also the explanation, for this we will now say for love of you. What then, " &c. [970] a rgias [971] truphan [972] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. " therefore I have done that which remained to do, I have encompassed ( or clothed) you with labors and toils. " [973] al. " thoughtest thou. " [974] Some mss. read, " was it then meet to work without toil? yea, " &c. [975] i.e. during the abode in Paradise. [976] or, " releases. "


Homily XXXVII.

John v. 6, 7

"Jesus saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered Him, Yea, Sir, but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool."

[1.] Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them. And Paul declared this when he said, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." ( Rom. xv. 4, 1 Cor. x. 11 .) For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one may find abundant resource. For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to [977] a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort? Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to over-strain [978] him. Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his sufferings. [979] For when Christ had said, "Wilt thou be made whole?" "Yea, Lord," he saith, "but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool." What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances? Seest thou a heart [980] crushed through long sickness? Seest thou all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, "Art Thou come to make a mock and a jest of us, that Thou asketh whether I desire to be made whole?" but replied gently, and with great mildness, "Yea, Lord"; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings. Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then saith Jesus?

Ver. 8 . "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." [981]

Now some suppose that this is the man in Matthew who was "lying on a bed" ( Matt. ix. 2 ); but it is not so, as is clear in many ways. First, from his wanting persons to stand forward for him. That man had many to care for and to carry him, this man not a single one; wherefore he said, "I have no man." Secondly, from the manner of answering; the other uttered no word, but this man relates his whole case. Thirdly, from the season and the time; this man was healed at a feast, and on the Sabbath, that other on a different day. The places too were different; one was cured in a house, the other by the pool. The manner also of the cure was altered; there Christ said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," but here He braced [982] the body first, and then cared for the soul. In that case there was remission of sins, (for He saith, "Thy sins be forgiven thee,") but in this, warning and threats to strengthen the man for the future; "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." ( Ver. 14 .) The charges also of the Jews are different; here they object to Jesus, His working on the Sabbath, there they charge Him with blasphemy.

Consider now, I pray you, the exceeding wisdom of God. He raised not up the man at once, but first maketh him familiar by questioning, making way for the coming faith; nor doth He only raise, but biddeth him "take up his bed," so as to confirm the miracle that had been wrought, and that none might suppose what was done to be illusion or a piece of acting. For he would not, unless his limbs had been firmly and thoroughly compacted, have been able to carry his bed. And this Christ often doth, effectually silencing those who would fain be insolent. So in the case of the loaves, that no one might assert that the men had been merely [983] satisfied, and that what was done was an illusion, He caused that there should be many relics of the loaves. So to the leper that was cleansed He said, "Go, show thyself to the priest" ( Matt. viii. 4 ); at once providing most certain proof of the cleansing, and stopping the shameless mouths of those who asserted that He was legislating in opposition to God. This also He did in like manner in the case of the wine; for He did not merely show it to them, but also caused it to be borne to the governor of the feast, in order that one who knew nothing of what had been done, by his confession might bear to Him unsuspected testimony; wherefore the Evangelist saith, that the ruler of the feast "knew not whence it was," thus showing the impartiality of his testimony. And in another place, when He raised the dead, He said, "Give ye him to eat"; [984] supplying this proof of a real resurrection, and by these means persuading even the foolish that He was no deceiver, no dealer in illusions, [985] but that He had come for the salvation of the common nature of mankind.

[2.] But why did not Jesus require faith of this man, as He did in the case of others, saying, "Believest thou that I am able to do this?" [986] It was because the man did not yet clearly know who He was; and it is not before, but after the working of miracles that He is seen so doing. For persons who had beheld His power exerted on others would reasonably have this said to them, while of those who had not yet learned who He was, but who were to know afterwards by means of signs, it is after the miracles that faith is required. And therefore Matthew doth not introduce Christ as having said this at the beginning of His miracles, but when He had healed many, to the two blind men only.

Observe however in this way the faith of the paralytic. When he had heard, [987] "Take up thy bed and walk," he did not mock, nor say, "What can this mean? An Angel cometh down and troubleth the water, and healeth only one, and dost Thou, a man, by a bare command and word hope to be able to do greater things than Angels? This is mere vanity, boasting, mockery." But he neither said nor imagined anything like this, but at once he heard and arose, and becoming whole, was not disobedient to Him that gave the command; [988] for immediately he was made whole, and "took up his bed, and walked." What followed was even far more admirable. That he believed at first, when no one troubled him, was not so marvelous, but that afterwards, when the Jews were full of madness and pressed upon him on all sides, accusing [989] and besieging him and saying, "It is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed," that then he gave no heed to [990] their madness, but most boldly in the midst of the assembly [991] proclaimed his Benefactor and silenced their shameless tongues, this, I say, was an act of great courage. For when the Jews arose against him, and said in a reproachful and insolent manner to him,

Ver. 10 . "It is the Sabbath day, it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed"; hear what he saith:

Ver. 11 . "He that made me whole, the Same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk."

All but saying, "Ye are silly and mad who bid me not to take Him for my Teacher who has delivered me from a long and grievous malady, and not to obey whatever He may command." [992] Had he chosen to act in an unfair manner, he might have spoke differently, as thus, "I do not this of my own will, but at the bidding of another; if this be a matter of blame, blame him who gave the order, and I will set down the bed." And he might have concealed the cure, for he well knew that they were vexed not so much at the breaking of the Sabbath, as at the curing of his infirmity. Yet he neither concealed this, nor said that, nor asked for pardon, but with loud voice confessed and proclaimed the benefit. Thus did the paralytic; but consider how unfairly they acted. For they said not, "Who is it that hath made thee whole?" on this point they were silent, but kept on bringing forward the seeming transgression.

Ver. 12, 13 . "What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, [993] a multitude being in that place."

And why did Jesus conceal Himself? First, that while He was absent, the testimony of the man might be unsuspected, for he who now felt himself whole was a credible witness of the benefit. And in the next place, that He might not cause the fury of the Jews to be yet more inflamed, for the very sight of one whom they envy is wont to kindle not a small spark in malicious persons. On this account He retired, and left the deed by itself to plead its cause among them, that He might not say anything in person respecting Himself, but that they might do so who had been healed, and with them also the accusers. Even these last for a while testify to the miracle, for they said not, "Wherefore hast thou commanded these things to be done on the Sabbath day?" but, "Wherefore doest thou these things on the Sabbath day?" not being displeased at the transgression, but envious at the restoration of the paralytic. Yet in respect of human labor, what the paralytic did was rather a work, for the other [994] was a saying and a word. Here then He commandeth another to break the Sabbath, but elsewhere He doth the same Himself, mixing clay and anointing a man's eyes ( c. 9 ); yet He doth these things not transgressing, but going beyond the Law. And on this we shall hereafter speak. For He doth not, when accused by the Jews respecting the Sabbath, always defend Himself in the same terms, and this we must carefully observe.

[3.] But let us consider awhile how great an evil is envy, how it disables the eyes of the soul to the endangering his salvation who is possessed by it. For as madmen often thrust their swords against their own bodies, so also malicious persons looking only to one thing, the injury [995] of him they envy, care not for their own salvation. Men like these are worse than wild beasts; they when wanting food, or having first been provoked by us, arm themselves against us; but these men when they have received kindness, have often repaid their benefactors as though they had wronged them. Worse than wild beasts are they, like the devils, or perhaps worse than even those; for they against us indeed have unceasing hostility, but do not plot against those of their own nature, (and so by this Jesus silenced the Jews when they said that He cast out devils by Beelzebub,) but these men neither respect their common nature, nor spare their own selves. For before they vex those whom they envy they vex their own souls, filling them with all manner of trouble and despondency, fruitlessly and in vain. For wherefore grievest thou, O man, at the prosperity of thy neighbor? We ought to grieve at the ills we suffer, not because we see others in good repute. Wherefore this sin is stripped of all excuse. The fornicator may allege his lust, the thief his poverty, the man-slayer his passion, frigid excuses and unreasonable, still they have these to allege. But what reason, tell me, wilt thou name? None other at all, but that of intense wickedness. If we are commanded to love our enemies, what punishment shall we suffer if we hate our very friends? And if he who loveth those that love him will be in no better a state than the heathen, what excuse, what palliation shall he have who injures those that have done him no wrong? Hear Paul, what he saith, "Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" ( 1 Cor. xiii. 3 ); now it is clear to every one that where envy and malice are, there charity is not. This feeling is worse than fornication and adultery, for these go no farther than him who doeth them, but the tyranny of envy hath overturned entire Churches, and hath destroyed the whole world. Envy is the mother of murder. Through this Cain slew Abel his brother; through this Esau (would have slain) Jacob, and his brethren Joseph, through this the devil all mankind. Thou indeed now killest not, but thou dost many things worse than murder, desiring that thy brother may act unseemly, laying snares for him on all sides, paralyzing his labors on the side of virtue, grieving that he pleaseth the Master of the world. Yet thou warrest not with thy brother, but with Him whom he serves, Him thou insultest when thou preferest thy glory to His. And what is in truth worst of all, is that this sin seems to be an unimportant one, while in fact it is more grievous than any other; for though thou showest mercy and watchest and fastest, thou art more accursed than any if thou enviest thy brother. As is clear from this circumstance also. A man of the Corinthians was once guilty of adultery, yet he was charged with his sin and soon restored to righteousness; Cain envied Abel; but he was not healed, and although God Himself continually charmed [996] the wound, he became more pained and wave-tossed, and was hurried on to murder. Thus this passion is worse than that other, and doth not easily permit itself to be cured except we give heed. Let us then by all means tear it up by the roots, considering this, that as we offend God when we waste with envy at other men's blessings, so when we rejoice with them we are well pleasing to Him, and render ourselves partakers of the good things laid up for the righteous. Therefore Paul exhorteth us to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" ( Rom. xii. 15 ), that on either hand we may reap great profit.

Considering then that even when we labor not, by rejoicing with him that laboreth, we become sharers of his crown, let us cast aside all envy, and implant charity in our souls, that by applauding those of our brethren who are well pleasing unto God, we may obtain both present and future good things, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[977] al. " held by. " [978] or, " throw him down. " [979] lit. " the tragedy. " [980] al. " endurance. " [981] al. " and go to thine house. " [982] e sphinxe [983] i.e. not by real eating, ha plos [984] The reference seems to be to Luke viii. 55 [985] phantasiokopos [986] Morel. and mss. read, " as He did in the case of the blind men, ( Matt. ix. 28 ,) saying, ` Believe ye, '" &c. [987] Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read, " for having heard that with authority, and as one commanding, He said to him, ` Arise, '" &c. [988] Morel and ms. " who had commanded, ` Arise, '" &c. [989] Morel and ms. " accusing, as the Evangelist shows by what follows, saying, ` And on the same day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the Sabbath day, it is not lawful, '" &c. [990] al. " not only disregarded. " [991] lit. " theater. " [992] see p. 132. [993] e xeklinen exeneusen , G. T. and Mor. [994] i.e. that which Jesus did. [995] al. " pain. " [996] e padontos


Homily XXXVIII.

John v. 14

"Afterward Jesus findeth him in the Temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

[1.] A fearful thing is sin, fearful, and the ruin of the soul, and the mischief oftentimes through its excess has overflowed and attacked men's bodies also. For since for the most part when the soul is diseased we feel no pain, but if the body receive though but a little hurt, we use every exertion to free it from its infirmity, because we are sensible of the infirmity, [997] therefore God oftentimes punisheth the body for the transgressions of the soul, so that by means of the scourging of the inferior part, the better part also may receive some healing. Thus too among the Corinthians Paul restored the adulterer, checking the disease of the soul by the destruction of the flesh, and having applied the knife to the body, so repressed the evil ( 1 Cor. v. 5 ); like some excellent physician employing external cautery for dropsy or spleen, when they refuse to yield to internal remedies. This also Christ did in the case of the paralytic; as He showed when He said, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

Now what do we learn from this? First, that his disease had been produced by his sins; secondly, that the accounts of hell fire are to be believed; thirdly, that the punishment is long, nay endless. Where now are those who say, "I murdered in an hour, I committed adultery in a little moment of time, and am I eternally punished?" For behold this man had not sinned for so many years as he suffered, for he had spent a whole lifetime in the length of his punishment; and sins are not judged by time, but by the nature of the transgressions. Besides this, we may see [998] another thing, that though we have suffered severely for former sins, if we afterwards fall into the same, we shall suffer much more severely. And with good reason; for he who is not made better even by punishment, is afterwards led as insensible and a despiser to still heavier chastisement. The fault should of itself be sufficient to check and to render more sober the man who once has slipped, but when not even the addition of punishment effects this, he naturally requires more bitter torments. [999] Now if even in this world when after punishment [1000] we fall into the same sins, we are chastised yet more severely then before, ought we not when after sinning we have not been punished at all, to be then [1001] very exceedingly afraid and to tremble, as being about to endure something irreparable? "And wherefore," saith some one, "are not all thus punished? for we see many bad men well in body, vigorous, and enjoying great prosperity." But let us not be confident, let us mourn for them in this case most of all, since their having suffered nothing here, helps them on [1002] to a severer vengeance hereafter. [1003] As Paul declares when he saith, "But now that we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" ( 1 Cor. xi. 32 ); for the punishments here are for warning, there for vengeance.

"What then," saith one, "do all diseases proceed from sin?" Not all, but most of them; and some proceed from different kinds of loose living, [1004] since gluttony, intemperance, and sloth, produce such like sufferings. But the one rule we have to observe, is to bear every stroke thankfully; for they are sent because of our sins, as in the Kings we see one attacked by gout ( 1 Kings xv. 23 ); they are sent also to make us approved, as the Lord saith to Job, "Thinkest thou that I have spoken to thee, save that thou mightest appear righteous?" ( Job lx. 8 , LXX.)

But why is it that in the case of these paralytics Christ bringeth forward their sins? For He saith also to him in Matthew who lay on a bed, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee" ( Matt. ix. 2 ): and to this man, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more." [1005] I know that some slander this paralytic, asserting that he was an accuser of Christ, and that therefore this speech was addressed to him; what then shall we say of the other in Matthew, who heard nearly the same words? For Christ saith to him also, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." Whence it is clear, that neither was this man thus addressed on the account which they allege. And this we may see more clearly from what follows; [1006] for, saith the Evangelist, "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the Temple," which is an indication of his great piety; for he departed not into the market places and walks, nor gave himself up to luxury and ease, but remained in the Temple, although about to sustain so violent an attack and to be harassed by all there. [1007] Yet none of these things persuaded him to depart from the Temple. Moreover Christ having found him, even after he had conversed with the Jews, implied nothing of the kind. For had He desired to charge him with this, He would have said to him, "Art thou again attempting the same sins as before, art thou not made better by thy cure?" Yet He said nothing of the kind, but merely secureth him for the future.

[2.] Why then, when He had cured the halt and maimed, did He not in any instance make mention of the like? Methinks that the diseases of these (the paralytic) arose from acts of sin, those of the others from natural infirmity. Or if this be not so, then by means of these men, and by the words spoken to them, He hath spoken to the rest also. For since this disease is more grievous than any other, by the greater He correcteth also the less. And as when He had healed a certain other He charged him to give glory to God, addressing this exhortation not to him only but through him to all, so He addresseth to these, and by these to all the rest of mankind, that exhortation and advice which was given to them by word of mouth. Besides this we may also say, that Jesus perceived great endurance in his soul, and addressed the exhortation to him as to one who was able to receive His command, keeping him to health both by the benefit, and by the fear of future ills.

And observe the absence of boasting. He said not, "Behold, I have made thee whole," but, "Thou art made whole; sin no more." And again, not, "lest I punish thee," but, "lest a worse thing come unto thee"; putting both expressions not personally, [1008] and showing that the cure was rather of grace than of merit. For He declared not to him that he was delivered after suffering the deserved amount of punishment, but that through lovingkindness he was made whole. Had this not been the case, He would have said, "Behold, thou hast suffered a sufficient punishment for thy sins, be thou steadfast for the future." But now He spake not so, but how? "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more." Let us continually repeat these words to ourselves, and if after having been chastised we have been delivered, let each say to himself, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more." But if we suffer not punishment though continuing in the same courses, let us use for our charm that word of the Apostle, "The goodness of God leadeth [us] to repentance, but after [our] hardness and impenitent heart, [we] treasure up unto [ourselves] wrath." ( Rom. ii. 4, 5 .)

And not only by strengthening [1009] the sick man's body, but also in another way, did He afford him a strong proof of His Divinity; for by saying, "Sin no more," He showed that He knew all the transgressions that had formerly been committed by him; and by this He would gain his belief as to the future.

Ver. 15 . "The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus that had made him whole."

Again observe him continuing in the same right feeling. He saith not, "This is he who said, Take up thy bed," but when they continually advanced this seeming charge, he continually puts forward the defense, again declaring his Healer, and seeking to attract and attach others to Him. For he was not so unfeeling as after such a benefit and charge to betray his Benefactor, and to speak as he did with an evil intention. Had he been a wild beast, had he been something unlike a man and of stone, the benefit and the fear would have been enough to restrain him, since, having the threat lodged within, he would have dreaded lest he should suffer "a worse thing," having already received the greatest pledges [1010] of the power of his Physician. Besides, had he wished to slander Him, he would have said nothing about his own cure, but would have mentioned and urged against Him the breach of the Sabbath. But this is not the case, surely it is not; the words are words of great boldness and candor; he pro claims his Benefactor no less than the blind man did. For what said he? "He made clay, and anointed mine eyes" ( c. ix. 6 ); and so this man of whom we now speak, "It is Jesus who made me whole."

Ver. 16 . "Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day." What then saith Christ?

Ver. 17 . "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."

When there was need to make excuse for the Disciples, He brought forward David their fellow-servant, saying, "Have ye not read what David did when he was an hungered?" ( Matt. xii. 2 .) But when excuse was to be made for Himself, He betook Himself to the Father, showing in two ways His Equality, by calling God His Father peculiarly, [1011] and by doing the same things which He did. "And wherefore did He not mention what took place at Jericho [1012] ?" Because He wished to raise them up from earth that they might no longer attend to Him as to a man, but as to God, and as to one who ought to legislate: since had He not been The Very Son and of the same Essence, the defense would have been worse than the charge. For if a viceroy who had altered a royal law should, when charged with so doing, excuse himself in this manner, and say, "Yea, for the king also has annulled laws," he would not be able to escape, but would thus increase the weight of the charge. But in this instance, since the dignity is equal, the defense is made perfect on most secure grounds. "From the charges," saith He, "from which ye absolve God, absolve Me also." And therefore He said first, "My Father," that He might persuade them even against their will to allow to Him the same, through reverence of His clearly asserted Sonship.

If any one say, "And how doth the Father `work,' who ceased on the seventh day from all His works?" let him learn the manner in which He "worketh." What then is the manner of His working? He careth for, He holdeth [1013] together all that hath been made. Therefore when thou beholdest the sun rising and the moon running in her path, the lakes, and fountains, and rivers, and rains, the course of nature in the seeds and in our own bodies and those of irrational beings, and all the rest by means of which this universe is made up, then learn the ceaseless working of the Father. "For He maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." ( Matt. v. 45 .) And again; "If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the fire [1014] " ( Matt. vi. 30 ); and speaking of the birds He said, "Your Heavenly Father feedeth them."

[3.] In that place [1015] then He did all on the Sabbath day by words only, and added nothing more, but refuted their charges by what was done in the Temple and from their own practice. But here where He commanded a work to be done, the taking up a bed, (a thing of no great importance as regarded the miracle, [1016] though by it He showed one point, a manifest violation of the Sabbath,) He leads up His discourse to something greater, desiring the more to awe them by reference to the dignity of the Father, and to lead them up to higher thought. Therefore when His discourse is concerning the Sabbath, He maketh not His defense as man only, or as God only, but sometimes in one way, sometimes in the other; because He desired to persuade them both of the condescension of the Dispensation, and the Dignity of His Godhead. Therefore He now defendeth Himself as God, since had He always conversed with them merely as a man, they would have continued in the same low condition. Wherefore that this may not be, He bringeth forward the Father. Yet the creation itself "worketh" on the Sabbath, (for the sun runneth, rivers flow, fountains bubble, women bear,) but that thou mayest learn that He is not of creation, He said not, "Yea, I work, for creation worketh," but, "Yea, I work, for My Father worketh."

Ver. 18 . "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."

And this he asserted not by words merely, but by deeds, for not in speech alone, but also yet oftener by actions He declared it. Why so? Because they might object to His words and charge Him with arrogance, but when they saw the truth of His actions proved by results, and His power proclaimed by works, after that they could say nothing against Him.

But they who will not receive these words in a right mind assert, that "Christ made not Himself equal to God, but that the Jews suspected this." Come then let us go over what has been said from the beginning. Tell me, did the Jews persecute Him, or did they not? It is clear to every one that they did. Did they persecute Him for this or for something else? It is again allowed that it was for this. Did He then break the Sabbath, or did He not? Against the fact that He did, no one can have anything to say. Did He call God His Father, or did He not call Him so? This too is true. Then the rest also follows by the same consequence; for as to call God His Father, to break the Sabbath, and to be persecuted by the Jews for the former and more especially for the latter reason, belonged not to a false imagination, but to actual fact, so to make Himself equal to God was a declaration of the same meaning. [1017]

And this one may see more clearly from what He had before said, for "My Father worketh, and I work," is the expression of One declaring Himself equal to God. For in these words He has marked [1018] no difference. He said not, "He worketh, and I minister," but, "As He worketh, so work I"; and hath declared absolute Equality. But if He had not wished to establish this, and the Jews had supposed so without reason, He would not have allowed their minds to be deceived, but would have corrected this. Besides, the Evangelist would not have been silent on the subject, but would have plainly said that the Jews supposed so, but that Jesus did not make Himself equal to God. As in another place he doth this very thing, when he perceiveth that something was said in one way, and understood in another; as, "Destroy this Temple," said Christ, "and in three days I will raise It up" ( c. ii. 19 ); speaking of His Flesh. But the Jews, not understanding this, and supposing that the words were spoken of the Jewish Temple, said, "Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days?" Since then He said one thing, and they imagined another, (for He spake of His Flesh, and they thought that the words were spoken of their Temple,) the Evangelist remarking on this, or rather correcting their imagination, goes on to say, "But He spake of the Temple of His Body." So that here also, if Christ had not made Himself equal with God, had not wished to establish this, and yet the Jews had imagined that He did, the writer would here also have corrected their supposition, and would have said, "The Jews thought that He made Himself equal to God, but indeed He spake not of equality." And this is done not in this place only, nor by this Evangelist only, but again elsewhere another Evangelist is seen to do the same. For when Christ warned His disciples, saying, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" ( Matt. xvi. 6 ), and they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread," and He spake of one thing, calling their doctrine "leaven," but the disciples imagined another, supposing that the words were said of bread; it is not now the Evangelist who setteth them right, but Christ Himself, speaking thus, "How is it that ye do not understand, that I spake not to you concerning bread?" But here there is nothing of the kind.

"But," saith some one, "to remove this very thought Christ has added,

Ver. 19 . "`The Son can do nothing of Himself.'"

Man! He doth the contrary. He saith this not to take away, but to confirm, [1019] His Equality. But attend carefully, for this is no common question. The expression "of Himself" is found in many places of Scripture, with reference both to Christ and to the Holy Ghost, and we must learn the force of the expression, that we may not fall into the greatest errors; for if one take it separately by itself in the way in which it is obvious to take it, consider how great an absurdity will follow. He said not that He could do some things of Himself and that others He could not, but universally,

[4.] "The Son can do nothing of Himself." I ask then my opponent, "Can the Son do nothing of Himself, tell me?" If he reply, "that He can do nothing," we will say, that He hath done of Himself the very greatest of all goods. As Paul cries aloud, saying, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant." ( Phil. ii. 6, 7 .) And again, Christ Himself in another place saith, "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again": and, "No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." ( c. x. 18 .) Seest thou that He hath power over life and death, and that He wrought of Himself so mighty a Dispensation? And why speak I concerning Christ, when even we, than whom nothing can be meaner, do many things of ourselves? Of ourselves we choose vice, of ourselves we go after virtue, and if we do it not of ourselves, and not having power, we shall neither suffer hell if we do wrong, nor enjoy the Kingdom if we do right.

What then meaneth, "Can do nothing of Himself"? That He can do nothing in opposition to the Father, nothing alien from, nothing strange to Him, [1020] which is especially the assertion of One declaring an Equality and entire agreement.

But wherefore said He not, that "He doeth nothing contrary," instead of, "He cannot do"? It was that from this again He might show the invariableness and exactness of the Equality, for the expression imputes not weakness to Him, but even shows [1021] His great power; since in another place Paul saith of the Father, "That by two immutable things in which it was impos sible for God to lie" ( Heb. vi. 18 ): and again, "If we deny Him -- He abideth faithful," for "He cannot deny Himself." ( 2 Tim. ii. 12, 13 .) And in truth this expression, "impossible," is not declaratory of weakness, but power, power unspeakable. For what He saith is of this kind, that "that Essence admitteth not such things as these." For just as when we also say, "it is impossible for God to do wrong," we do not impute to Him any weakness, but confess in Him an unutterable power; so when He also saith, "I can of Mine own Self do nothing" ( v. 30 ), His meaning is, that "it is impossible, nature admits not, [1022] that I should do anything contrary to the Father." And that you may learn that this is really what is said, let us, going over what follows, see whether Christ agreeth with what is said by us, or among you. Thou sayest, that the expression does away with His Power and His proper Authority, and shows His might to be but weak; but I say, that this proves His Equality, His unvarying Likeness, [1023] (to the Father,) and the fact that all is done as it were by one Will [1024] and Power and Might. Let us then enquire of Christ Himself, and see by what He next saith whether He interpreteth these words according to thy supposition or according to ours. What then saith He?

"For what things soever the Father [1025] doeth these also doeth the Son likewise."

Seest thou how He hath taken away your assertion by the root, and confirmed what is said by us? since, if Christ doeth nothing of Himself, neither will the Father do anything of Himself, if so be that Christ doeth all things in like manner to Him. [1026] If this be not the case, another strange conclusion will follow. For He said not, that "whatsoever things He saw the Father do, He did," but, "except He see the Father doing anything, He doeth it not"; extending His words to all time; now He will, according to you, be continually learning the same things. Seest thou how exalted is the idea, and that the very humility of the expression compelleth even the most shameless and unwilling to avoid groveling thoughts, and such as are unsuited to His dignity? For who so wretched and miserable as to assert, that the Son learneth day by day what He must do? and how can that be true, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail"? ( Ps. cii. 27 ), or that other, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made" ( c. i. 3 ); if the Father doeth certain things, and the Son seeth and imitateth Him? Seest thou that from what was asserted above, and from what was said afterwards, proof is given of His independent Power? and if He bringeth forward some expressions in lowly manner, marvel not, for since they persecuted Him when they had heard His exalted sayings, and deemed Him to be an enemy of God, sinking [1027] a little in expression alone, He again leadeth His discourse up to the sublimer doctrines, then in turn to the lower, varying His teaching that it might be easy of acceptance even to the indisposed. [1028] Observe, after saying, "My Father worketh, and I work"; and after declaring Himself equal with God, He addeth, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." Then again in a higher strain, "What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." Then in a lower,

Ver. 20 . "The Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will show Him greater works than these."

Seest thou how great is the humility of this? And with reason; for what I said before, what I shall not cease to say, I will now repeat, that when He uttereth anything low or humbly, He putteth it in excess, that the very poverty of the expression may persuade even the indisposed to receive the notions with pious understanding. Since, if it be not so, see how absurd a thing is asserted, making the trial from the words themselves. For when He saith, "And shall show Him greater works than these," He will be found not to have yet learned many things, which cannot be said even of the Apostles; for they when they had once received the grace of the Spirit, in a moment both knew and were able to do all things which it was needful that they should know and have power to do, while Christ will be found to have not yet learned many things which He needed to know. And what can be more absurd than this?

What then is His meaning? It was because He had strengthened the paralytic, and was about to raise the dead, that He thus spake, all but saying, "Wonder ye that I have strengthened the paralyzed? Ye shall see greater things than these." But He spake not thus, but proceeded somehow in a humbler strain, in order that He might soothe [1029] their madness. And that thou mayest learn that "shall show" is not used absolutely, listen again to what followeth.

Ver. 21 . "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will."

Yet "can do nothing of Himself" is opposed to "whom He will": since if He quickeneth "whom He will," He can do something "of Himself," (for to "will" implies power,) but if He "can do nothing of Himself," then He can not "quicken whom He will." For the expression, "as the Father raiseth up," showeth unvarying resemblance in Power, and "whom He will," Equality of Authority. Seest thou therefore that "cannot do anything of Himself" is the expression of One not taking away His (own) authority, but declaring the unvarying resemblance of His Power and Will (to those of the Father)? In this sense also understand the words, "shall show to Him"; for in another place He saith, "I will raise him up at the last Day." ( c. vi. 40 .) And again, to show that He doth it not by receiving an inward power [1030] from above, He saith, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." ( c. xi. 25 .) Then that thou mayest not assert that He raiseth what dead He will and quickeneth them, but that He doth not other things in such manner, He anticipateth and preventeth every objection of the kind by saying, "What things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise," thus declaring that He doeth all things which the Father doeth, and as the Father doeth them; whether thou speakest of the raising of the dead, or the fashioning [1031] of bodies, or the remission of sins, or any other matter whatever, He worketh in like manner to Him who begat Him.

[5.] But men careless of their salvation give heed to none of these things; so great an evil is it to be in love with precedence. This has been the mother of heresies, this has confirmed the impiety of the heathen. [1032] For God desired that His invisible things should be understood by the creation of this world ( Rom. i. 20 ), but they having left these and refused to come by this mode of teaching, cut out for themselves another way, and so were cast out from the true. [1033] And the Jews believed not because they received honor from one another, and sought not the honor which is from God. But let us, beloved, avoid this disease exceedingly and with all earnestness; for though we have ten thousand good qualities, this plague of vainglory is sufficient to bring them all to nought. ( c. v. 44 .) If therefore we desire praise, let us seek the praise which is from God, for the praise of men of what kind soever it be, as soon as it has appeared has perished, or if it perish not, brings to us no profit, and often proceeds from a corrupt judgment. And what is there to be admired in the honor which is from men? which young dancers enjoy, and abandoned women, and covetous and rapacious men? But he who is approved of God, is approved not with these, but with those holy men the Prophets and Apostles, who have shown forth an angelic life. If we feel any desire to lead multitudes about with us or be looked at by them, let us consider the matter apart by itself, and we shall find that it is utterly worthless. In fine, if thou art fond of crowds, draw to thyself the host of angels, and become terrible to the devils, then shalt thou care nothing for mortal things, but shalt tread all that is splendid underfoot as mire and clay; and shall clearly see that nothing so fits a soul for shame as the passion for glory; for it cannot, it cannot be, that the man who desires this should live the crucified life, as on the other hand it is not possible that the man who hath trodden this underfoot should not tread down most other passions; for he who masters this will get the better of envy and covetousness, and all the grievous maladies. "And how," saith some one, "shall we get the better of it?" If we look to the other glory which is from heaven, and from which this kind strives to cast us out. For that heavenly glory both makes us honored here, and passes with us into the life which is to come, and delivers us from all fleshly slavery which we now most miserably serve, giving up ourselves entirely to earth and the things of earth. For if you go into the forum, if you enter into a house, into the streets, into the soldiers' quarters, into inns, taverns, ships, islands, palaces, courts of justice, council chambers, you shall everywhere find anxiety for things present and belonging to this life, and each man laboring for these things, whether gone or coming, traveling or staying at home, voyaging, tilling lands, in the fields, in the cities, in a word, all. What hope then of salvation have we, when inhabiting God's earth we care not for the things of God, when bidden to be aliens from earthly things we are aliens from heaven and citizens of earth? What can be worse than this insensibility, when hearing each day of the Judgment and of the Kingdom, we imitate the men in the days of Noah, and those of Sodom, waiting to learn all by actual experience? Yet for this purpose were all those things written, that if any one believe not that which is to come, he may, from what has already been, get certain proof of what shall be. Considering therefore these things, both the past and the future, let us at least take breath a little from this hard slavery, and make some account of our souls also, [1034] that we may obtain both present and future blessings; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[997] Sav. omits " because we are sensible of the infirmity. " [998] al. " learn. " [999] Ben. and ms. in Bodl. read the passage thus: " For the chastisement was of itself sufficient...but when not being sobered by the application of punishment, he again dares the same things, such an one will reasonably suffer some penalty, calling this as he does upon his own self. " [1000] al. " have been punished here. " [1001] al. " at this. " [1002] e phodion gignetai . So Euseb. H. E. viii. 10, e ph. tes eis ten zoen eisodou [1003] lit. " there. " [1004] al. " from loose living, " rh athumias [1005] See p. 129. [1006] al. " from another reason. " [1007] al. " chased thence by all. " [1008] a prosopos , i.e. not referring to Himself. [1009] sphinxai [1010] al. " proofs. " [1011] i diazontos [1012] Jericho was taken on the seventh day by command of God. Josh. vi. 4, 15 [1013] lit. " weldeth. " sunkrotei . Sav. conjectures sunkratei , but the word is not uncommon for holding together a system. [1014] eis klibanon , G. T. [1015] Matt. xii [1016] pragma [1017] tes autes gnomes apophasis , i.e. in saying that He was making Himself " equal to the Father, " the Evangelist asserts a truth which had before been signified by His breaking the Sabbath, and saying that God was His Father. [1018] al. " given. " [1019] lit. " to clench. " [1020] i.e. nothing by Himself. [1021] al. " testifies. " [1022] a nenchoreton [1023] to aparallakton [1024] gnomes [1025] Ekeinos , G. T. [1026] Morel. and ms. in Bodl., " that the ` likewise ' ( to homoios ) may remain. " [1027] kathupheis [1028] a gnomosi [1029] al. " heal. " [1030] e nergeian [1031] diaplasin [1032] lit. " Greeks. " [1033] tes ouses sub. ho dou [1034] i.e. as well as of earthly things.


Homily XXXIX.

John v. 23, 24

"For My Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father."

[1.] Beloved , we need great diligence in all things, for we shall render account of and undergo a strict enquiry both of words and works. Our interests stop not with what now is, but a certain other condition of life shall receive us after this, and we shall be brought before a fearful tribunal. "For we must appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." ( 2 Cor. v. 10 .) Let us ever bear in mind this tribunal, that we may thus be enabled at all times to continue in virtue; for as he who has cast out from his soul that day, rushes like a horse that has burst his bridle to precipices, (for "his ways are always defiled" [1035] -- Ps. x. 5 ,) and then assigning the reason the Psalmist hath added, "He putteth Thy judgments far away out of his sight";) so he that always retains this fear will walk soberly. "Remember," saith one, "thy last things, and thou shalt never do amiss." ( Ecclus. vii. 40 .) For He who now hath remitted our sins, will then sin in judgment; He who hath died for our sake will then appear again to judge all mankind. [1036] "Unto them that look for Him," saith the Apostle, "shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." ( Heb. ix. 28 .) Wherefore in this place also He saith, "My Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son; even as they honor the Father."

"Shall we then," saith some one, "also call Him Father?" Away with the thought. He useth the word "Son" that we may honor Him still remaining a Son, as we honor the Father; but he who calleth Him "Father" doth not honor the Son as the Father, but has confounded the whole. Moreover as men are not so much brought to by being benefited as by being punished, on this account He hath spoken thus terribly, [1037] that even fear may draw them to honor Him. And when He saith "all," His meaning is this, that He hath power to punish and to honor, and doeth either as He will. [1038] The expression "hath given," is used that thou mayest not suppose Him not to have been Begotten, and so think that there are two Fathers. For all that the Father is, this the Son is also, [1039] Begotten, and remaining a Son. And that thou mayest learn that "hath given" is the same as "hath begotten," hear this very thing declared by another place. "As," saith Christ, "the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." ( Ver. 26 .) "What then? Did he first beget and then give Him life? For he who giveth, giveth to something which is. Was He then begotten without life?" Not even the devils could imagine this, for it is very foolish as well as impious. As then "hath given life" is "hath begotten Him who is Life," so, "hath given judgment" is "hath begotten Him who shall be Judge."

That thou mayest not when thou hearest that He hath the Father for His cause imagine any difference [1040] of essence or inferiority of honor, He cometh to judge thee, by this proving His Equality. [1041] For He who hath authority to punish and to honor whom He will, hath the same Power with the Father. Since, if this be not the case, if having been begotten He afterwards received the honor, how came it that He was afterwards [thus] honored, by what mode of advancement reached He so far as to receive and be appointed to this dignity? Are ye not ashamed thus impudently to apply to that Pure [1042] Nature which admitteth of no addition these carnal and mean imaginations?

"Why then," saith some one, "doth Christ so speak?" That His words may be readily received, and to clear the way for sublime sayings; therefore He mixeth these with those, and those with these. And observe how (He doth it); for it is good to see this from the beginning. He said, "My Father worketh, and I work" ( c. v. 17 , &c.): declaring by this their Equality and Equal honor. But they "sought to kill Him." What doth He then? He lowereth His form of speech indeed, and putteth the same meaning when He saith, "The Son can do nothing of Himself." Then again He raiseth His discourse to high matters, saying, "What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." Then He returneth to what is lower, "For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will show Him greater things than these." Then He riseth higher, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." After this again He joineth the high and the low together, "For neither doth the Father judge any one, but hath given all judgment to the Son"; then riseth again, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." Seest thou how He varieth the discourse, weaving it both of high and low words and expressions, in order that it might be acceptable to the men of that time, and that those who should come after might receive no injury, gaining from the higher part a right opinion of the rest? For if this be not the case, if these sayings were not uttered through condescension, wherefore were the high expressions added? Because one who is entitled to utter great words concerning himself, hath, when he saith anything mean and low, this reasonable excuse, that he doth it for some prudential purpose; [1043] but if one who ought to speak meanly of himself saith anything great, on what account doth he utter words which surpass his nature? This is not for any purpose at all, but an act of extreme impiety. [1044]

[2.] We are therefore able to assign a reason for the lowly expressions, a reason sufficient, and becoming to God, namely, His condescension, His teaching us to be moderate, and the salvation which is thus wrought for us. To declare which He said Himself in another place, "These things I say that ye might be saved." For when He left His own witness, and betook Himself to that of John, (a thing unworthy of His greatness,) He putteth the reason of such lowliness of language, and saith, "These things I say that ye might be saved." And ye who assert that He hath not the same authority and power with Him who begat Him, what can ye say when ye hear Him utter words by which He declareth His Authority and Power and Glory equal in respect of the Father? Wherefore, if He be as ye assert very inferior, doth He claim the same honor? Nor doth He stop even here, but goeth on to say,

"He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him." Seest thou how the honor of the Son is connected with that of the Father? "What of that?" saith one. "We see the same in the case of the Apostles; `He,' saith Christ, `who receiveth you receiveth Me.'" ( Matt. x. 40 .) But in that place He speaketh so, because He maketh the concerns of His servants His own; here, because the Essence and the Glory is One (with that of the Father). Therefore [1045] it is not said of the Apostles "that they may honor," but rightly He saith, "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father." For where there are two kings, if one is insulted the other is insulted also, and especially when he that is insulted is a son. He is insulted even when one of his soldiers is maltreated; not in the same way as in this case, but as it were in the person of another, [1046] while here it is as it were in his own. Wherefore He beforehand said, "That they should honor the Son even as they honor the Father," in order that when He should say, "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father," thou mightest understand that the honor is the same. For He saith not merely, "he that honoreth not the Son," but "he that honoreth Him not so as I have said" "honoreth not the Father."

"And how," saith one, "can he that sendeth and he that is sent be of the same essence?" Again, thou bringest down the argument to carnal things, and perceivest not that all this has been said for no other purpose, but that we might know Him to be The Cause, [1047] and not fall into the error [1048] of Sabellius, and that in this manner the infirmity of the Jews might be healed, so that He might not be deemed an enemy of God; [1049] for they said, "This man is not of God" ( c. ix. 16 ), "This man hath not come from God." Now to remove this suspicion, high sayings did not contribute so much as the lowly, and therefore continually and everywhere He said that He had been "sent"; not that thou mightest suppose that expression to be [1050] any lessening of His greatness, but in order to stop their mouths. And for this cause also He constantly betaketh Himself to the Father, interposing moreover mention of His own high Parentage. [1051] For had He said all in proportion to His dignity, the Jews would not have received His words, since because of a few such expressions, they persecuted and oftentimes stoned Him; and if looking wholly to them He had used none but low expressions, many in after times might have been harmed. Wherefore He mingleth and blendeth [1052] His teaching, both by these lowly sayings stopping, as I said, the mouths of the Jews, and also by expressions suited to His dignity banishing [1053] from men of sense any mean notion of what He had said, and proving that such a notion did not in any wise apply to Him at all.

The expression "having been sent" denoteth change of place--but God is everywhere present. Wherefore then saith He that He was "sent"? He speaketh in an earthly [1054] way, [1055] declaring His unanimity with the Father. At least He shapeth His succeeding words with a desire to effect this.

Ver. 24 . "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life."

Seest thou how continually He putteth the same thing to cure that feeling of suspicion, both in this place and in what follows by fear and by promises of blessings removing their jealousy of Him, and then again condescending greatly in words? For He said not, "he that heareth My words, and believeth on Me," since they would have certainly deemed that to be pride, and a superfluous pomp of words; because, if after a very long time, and ten thousand miracles, they suspected this when He spake after this manner, much more would they have done so then. It was on this account that at that later period [1056] they said to Him, "Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, how sayest Thou, [1057] If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death?" ( c. viii. 52 .) In order therefore that they may not here also become furious, see what He saith, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life." This had no small effect in making His discourse acceptable, when they learned that those who hear Him believe in the Father also; for after having received this with readiness, they would more easily receive the rest. So that the very speaking in a humble manner contributed and led the way to higher things; for after saying, "hath everlasting life," He addeth,

"And cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death unto life."

By these two things He maketh His discourse acceptable; first, because it is the Father who is believed on, and then, because the believer enjoyeth many blessings. And the "cometh not into judgment" meaneth, "is not punished," for He speaketh not of death "here," but of death eternal, as also of the other "life" which is deathless.

Ver. 25 . "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that have heard shall live."

Having said the words, He speaketh also of the proof by deeds. [1058] For when He had said, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will," that the thing may not seem to be mere boasting and pride, He affordeth proof [1059] by works, saying, "The hour cometh"; then, that thou mayest not deem that the time is long, He addeth, "and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live." Seest thou here His absolute and unutterable authority? For as it shall be in the Resurrection, even so, He saith, it shall be "now." Then too when we hear His voice commanding us we are raised; for, saith the Apostle, "at the command of God the dead shall arise." [1060] "And whence," perhaps some one will ask, "is it clear that the words are not mere boast?" From what He hath added, "and now is"; because had His promises referred only to some future time, His discourse would have been suspected by them, but now He supplieth them with a proof: "While I," saith He, "am tarrying among you, this thing shall come to pass"; and He would not, had He not possessed the power, have promised for that time, lest through the promise He should incur the greater ridicule. Then too He addeth an argument demonstrative of His assertions, saying,

Ver. 26 . "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself."

[3.] Seest thou that this declareth a perfect likeness save in one [1061] point, which is the One being a Father, and the Other a Son? for the expression "hath given," merely introduceth this distinction, but declareth that all the rest is equal and exactly alike. Whence it is clear that the Son doeth all things with as much authority and power as the Father, and that He is not empowered from some other source, for He "hath life" so as the Father hath. And on this account, what comes after is straightway added, that from this we may understand the other also. What is this then? It is,

Ver. 27 . "Hath given Him authority to execute judgment also."

And wherefore doth He continually [1062] dwell upon "resurrection" and "judgment"? For He saith, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will": and again, "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son": and again, "As the Father hath life in Himself so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself"; and again, "They that have heard [the Voice of the Son of God] shall live"; and here again, "Hath given to Him authority to execute judgment." Wherefore doth He dwell on these things continually? I mean, on "judgment," and "life," and "resurrection"? It is because these subjects are able most of any to attract even the obstinate hearer. For the man who is persuaded that he shall both rise again and shall give account to Christ [1063] of his transgressions, even though he have seen no other sign, yet having admitted this, will surely run to Him to propitiate his Judge.

"That He is the Son of Man ( v. 28 ), marvel not at this."

Paul of Samosata rendereth it not so; but how? "Hath given Him authority to execute judgment, `because' He is the Son of Man." [1064] Now the passage thus read is inconsequent, for He did not receive judgment "because" He was man, (since then what hindered all men from being judges,) but because He is the Son of that Ineffable Essence, therefore is He Judge. So we must read, "That He is the Son of Man, marvel not at this." For when what He said seemed to the hearers inconsistent, and they deemed Him nothing more than mere man, while His words were greater than suited man, yea, or even angel, and were proper to God only, to solve this objection He addeth,

Ver. 28, 29 . "Marvel not [that He is the Son of Man, [1065] ] for the hour is coming in the which they [1066] that are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall go forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."

And wherefore said He not, "Marvel not that He is the Son of Man, for He is also the Son of God," but rather mentioned the "resurrection"? He did indeed put this above, by saying, "shall hear the Voice of the Son of God." And if here He is silent on the matter, wonder not; for after mentioning a work which was proper to God, He then permitteth His hearers to collect from it that He was God, and the Son of God. For had this been continually asserted by Himself, it would at that time have offended them, but when proved by the argument of miracles, it rendered His doctrine less burdensome. So they who put together syllogisms, when having laid down their premises [1067] they have fairly [1068] proved the point in question, frequently do not draw the conclusion themselves, but to render their hearers more fairly disposed, and to make their victory more evident, cause the opponent himself to give the verdict, so that the by-standers may the rather agree with them when their opponents decide in their favor. When therefore He mentioned the resurrection of Lazarus, He spake not of the Judgment (for it was not for this that Lazarus arose); but when He spake generally He also added, that "they that have done good shall go forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Thus also John led on his hearers by speaking of the Judgment, and that "he that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" ( c. iii. 36 ): so too Himself led on Nicodemus: "He that believeth on the Son," He said to him, "is not judged, but he that believeth not is judged already" ( c. iii. 18 ); and so here He mentioneth the Judgment-seat [1069] and the punishment which shall follow upon evil deeds. For because He had said above, "He that heareth My words and believeth on Him that sent Me," "is not judged," lest any one should imagine that this alone is sufficient for salvation, He addeth also the result of man's life, [1070] declaring that "they which have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Since then He had said that all the world should render account to Him, and that all at His Voice should rise again, a thing new and strange and even now disbelieved by many who seem to have believed, not to say by the Jews at that time, hear how He goeth to prove it, again condescending to the infirmity of His hearers.

Ver. 30 . "I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him [1071] which sent Me."

Although He had but lately given no trifling proof of the Resurrection by bracing [1072] the paralytic; on which account also He had not spoken of the Resurrection before He had done what fell little short of resurrection. And the Judgment He hinted at after He had braced the body, by saying, "Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee"; yet still He proclaimed beforehand the resurrection of Lazarus and of the world. And when He had spoken of these two, that of Lazarus which should come to pass almost immediately, and that of the inhabited world which should be long after, He confirmeth the first by the paralytic and by the nearness of the time, saying, "The hour cometh and now is"; the other by the raising of Lazarus, by what had already come to pass bringing before their sight what had not yet done so. And this we may observe Him do everywhere, putting (forth) two or three predictions, and always confirming the future by the past.

[4.] Yet after saying and doing so much, since they still were very weak [1073] He is not content, but by other expressions calms their disputatious temper, [1074] saying, "I can of Myself do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him which sent Me." For since He appeared to make some assertions strange and varying from those of the Prophets, (for they said that it is God who judgeth all the earth, that is, the human race; and this truth David everywhere loudly proclaimed, "He shall judge the people in righteousness," and, "God is a righteous Judge, strong and patient" ( Ps. xcvi. 10, and Ps. vii. 11 , LXX.); as did all the Prophets and Moses; but Christ said, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son": [1075] an expression which was sufficient to perplex a Jew who heard it, and to make him in turn suspect Christ of being an enemy of God,) He here greatly condescendeth in His speech, and as far as their infirmity requireth, in order to pluck up by the roots this pernicious opinion, and saith, "I can of Myself do nothing"; that is, "nothing strange, or unlike, [1076] or what the Father desireth not will ye see done or hear said by Me." And having before declared that He was "the Son of Man," and because they [1077] supposed Him to be a man at that time, so also He putteth [His expressions] here. As then when He said above, "We speak that we have heard, and testify that we have seen"; and when John said, "What He hath seen He testifieth, and no man receiveth His testimony" ( c. iii. 32 ); both expressions are used respecting exact knowledge, not concerning hearing and seeing merely; so in this place when He speaketh of "hearing," He declareth nothing else than that it is impossible for Him to desire anything, save what the Father desireth. Still He said not so plainly, (for they would not as yet have at once received it on hearing it thus asserted;) and how? in a manner very condescending and befitting a mere man, "As I hear I judge." Again He useth these words in this place, not with reference to "instruction," (for He said not, "as I am taught," but "as I hear";) nor as though He needed to listen, (for not only did He not require to be taught, but He needed not even to listen;) but it was to declare the Unanimity and Identity of [His and the Father's] decision, as though He had said, "So I judge, as if it were the Father Himself that judged." Then He addeth, "and I know that My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." What sayest Thou? Hast Thou a will different from that of the Father? Yet in another place He saith, "As I and Thou are One," (speaking of will and unanimity,) "grant to these also that they may be one in Us" ( c. xvii. 21 ; not verbally quoted); that is, "in faith concerning Us." Seest thou that the words which seem most humble are those which conceal a high meaning? For what He implieth is of this kind: not that the will of the Father is one, and His own another; but that, "as one will in one mind, so is Mine own will and My Father's."

And marvel not that He hath asserted so close a conjunction; for with reference to the Spirit also Paul hath used this illustration: "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." Thus Christ's meaning is no other than this: "I have not a will different and apart from that of the Father, [1078] but if He desireth anything, then I also; if I, then He also. As therefore none could object to the Father judging, so neither may any to Me, for the sentence of Each [1079] is given from the same Mind." And if He uttereth these words rather as a man, marvel not, seeing that they still deemed Him to be mere man. Therefore in passages like these it is necessary not merely to enquire into the meaning of the words, but also to take into account the suspicion of the hearers, and listen to what is said as being addressed to that suspicion. Otherwise many difficulties will follow. Consider for instance, He saith, "I seek not Mine own will": according to this then His will is different (from that of the Father), is imperfect, nay, not merely imperfect, but even unprofitable. "For if it be saving, if it agree with that of the Father, wherefore dost Thou not seek it?" Mortals might with reason say so because they have many wills contrary to what seemeth good to the Father, but Thou, wherefore sayest Thou this, who art in all things like the Father? for this none would say is the language even of a "man" made perfect and crucified. For if Paul so blended himself [1080] with the will of God as to say, "I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me" ( Gal. ii. 20 ), how saith the Lord of all, "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me," as though that will were different? What then is His meaning? He applieth [1081] His discourse as if the case were that of a mere man, and suiteth His language to the suspicion of His hearers. For when He had, by what had gone before, given proof of His sayings, speaking partly as God, partly as a mere man, He again as a man endeavoreth to establish [1082] the same, and saith, "My judgment is just." And whence is this seen? "Because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." "For as in the case of men, he that is free from selfishness cannot be justly charged with having given an unfair decision, so neither will ye now be able to accuse Me. He that desireth to establish his own, may perhaps by many be suspected of corrupting justice with this intent; but he that looketh not to his own, what reason can he have for not deciding justly? Apply now this reasoning to My case. Had I said that I was not sent by the Father, had I not referred to Him the glory of what was done, some of you might perhaps have suspected that desiring to gain honor for Myself, I said the thing that is not; but if I impute and refer what is done to another, wherefore and whence can ye have cause to suspect My words?" Seest thou how He confirmed His discourse, and asserted that "His judgment was just" by an argument which any common man might have used in defending himself? Seest thou how what I have often said is clearly visible? What is that? It is that the exceeding humility of the expressions most persuadeth men of sense not to receive the words off hand [1083] and then fall down [into low thoughts], but rather to take pains that they reach to the height of their meaning; this humility too with much ease then raiseth up those who were once groveling on the ground.

Now bearing all this in mind, let us not, I exhort you, carelessly pass by Christ's words, but enquire closely into them all, everywhere considering the reason of what has been said; and let us not deem that ignorance and simplicity will be sufficient to excuse us, for He hath bidden us not merely to be "harmless," but "wise." ( Matt. x. 16 .) Let us therefore practice wisdom with simplicity, both as to doctrines and the right actions [1084] of our lives; let us judge ourselves here, that we be not condemned with the world hereafter; [1085] let us act towards our fellow-servants as we desire our Master to act towards us: for (we say), "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." ( Matt. vi. 12 .) I know that the smitten soul endureth not meekly, but if we consider that by so doing we do a kindness not to him who hath grieved us but to ourselves, we shall soon let go the venom of our wrath; for he who forgave not the hundred pence to him who had transgressed against him, wronged not his fellow-servant but himself, by rendering himself liable for the ten thousand talents of which he had before received forgiveness. ( Matt. xviii. 30-34 .) When therefore we forgive not others, we forgive not ourselves. And so let us not merely say to God, "remember not our offenses"; but let each also say to himself, "let us not remember the offenses of our fellow-servants done against us." For thou first givest judgment on thine own sins, and God judgeth after; [1086] thou proposest the law concerning remission and punishment, thou declarest thy decision on these matters, and therefore whether God shall or shall not remember, rests with thee. For which cause Paul biddeth us "forgive, if any One hath cause of complaint against any" ( Col. iii. 13 ), and not simply forgive, but so that not even any remnants be left behind. Since Christ not only did not publish our transgressions, but did not put us the transgressors in mind of them, nor say, "in such and such things hast thou offended," but remitted and blotted out the handwriting, not reckoning our offenses, as Paul hath also declared. ( Col. ii. 14 .) Let us too do this; let us wipe away all [trespasses against us] from our minds; and if any good thing hath been done to us by him that hath grieved us, let us only reckon that; but if anything grievous and hard to bear, let us cast it forth and blot it out, so that not even a vestige of it remain. And if no good has been done us by him, so much the greater recompense and higher credit will be ours if we forgive. Others by watching, by making the earth their bed, by ten thousand hardships, wipe away their sins, but thou by an easier way, I mean by not remembering wrongs, mayest cause all thy trespasses to disappear. Why then thrustest thou the sword against thyself, as do mad and frantic men, and banishest thyself from the life which is to come, when thou oughtest to use every means to attain unto it? For if this present life be so desirable, what can one say of that other from which pain, and grief, and mourning, have fled away? There it needs not to fear death, nor imagine any end to those good things. Blessed, thrice blessed, yea, and this many times over, are they who enjoy that blessed rest, while they are miserable, thrice miserable, yea, ten thousand times miserable, who have cast themselves forth from that blessedness. "And what," saith some one, "is it that maketh us to enjoy that life?" Hear the Judge Himself conversing with a certain young man on this matter. When the young man said, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" ( Matt. xix. 16 ) Christ, after repeating to him the other commandments, ended with the love of his neighbor. Perhaps like that rich man some of my hearers will say, "that we also have kept these, for we neither have robbed, nor killed, nor committed adultery"; yet assuredly thou wilt not be able to say this, that thou hast loved thy neighbor as thou oughtest to have loved him. For if a man hath envied or spoken evil of another, if he hath not helped him when injured, or not imparted to him of his substance, then neither hath he loved him. Now Christ hath commanded not only this, but something besides. What then is this? "Sell," he saith, "that thou hast, and give to the poor; and come, follow Me" ( Matt. xix. 21 ): terming the imitating Him in our actions "following" Him. What learn we hence? First, that he who hath not all these things cannot attain unto the chief places in "that" rest. For after the young man had said, "All these things have I done," Christ, as though some great thing were wanting to his being perfectly approved, replied, "If thou wilt be perfect, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor: and come, follow Me." First then we may learn this; secondly, that Christ rebuked the man for his vain boast; for one who lived in such superfluity, and regarded not others living in poverty, how could he love his neighbor? So that neither in this matter did he speak truly. But let us do both the one and the other of these things; let us be eager to empty out our substance, and to purchase heaven. Since if for worldly honor men have often expended their whole possessions, an honor which was to stay here below, and even here not to stay by us long, (for many even much before their deaths have been stripped of their supremacy, and others because of it have often lost their lives, and yet, although aware of this, they expend all for its sake;) if now they do so much for this kind of honor, what can be more wretched than we if for the sake of that honor which abideth and which cannot be taken from us we will not give up even a little, nor supply to others those things which in a short time while yet here we shall leave? What madness must it be, when it is in our power voluntarily to give to others, and so to take with us those things of which we shall even against our will be deprived, to refuse to do so? Yet if a man were being led to death, and it were proposed to him to give up all his goods and so go free, we should think a favor was conferred upon him; and shall we, who are being led on the way to the pit, shall we, when it is allowed us to give up half and be free, prefer to be punished, and uselessly to retain what is not ours even to the losing what is so? What excuse shall we have, what claim for pardon, who, when so easy a road has been cut for us unto life, rush down precipices, and travel along an unprofitable path, depriving ourselves of all things both here and hereafter, when we might enjoy both in security? If then we did not so before, let us at least stop now; and coming to ourselves, let us rightly dispose of things present, that we may easily receive those which are to come, 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

[1035] bebelountai [1036] ten phusin apasan [1037] al. " since men being benefited are not so sensible of it, He saith ` hath given all judgment to ' Him, in order that, " &c. [1038] al. " to punish and honor all whomsoever He will. " [1039] al. " all things which belong to the Father, belong also to the Son. " [1040] parallagen [1041] al. " high Birth. " [1042] a kerato [1043] oikonomias tinos [1044] al. " folly. " [1045] al. " Besides. " [1046] dia mesitou [1047] ton aition [1048] noson [1049] For from their extreme senselessness He was counted among them an enemy of God. Morel. [1050] al. " not that He might by this show any lessening, " &c. [1051] al. " absolute power. " [1052] kirna , generally of mixing wine with water. [1053] al. " correcting. " [1054] pachutera [1055] Morel. reads: " for this reason He doth not decline to use a more earthly expression, declaring, " &c. [1056] tote [1057] su legeis , G. T. [1058] Morel. reads: " He spake those great things in words, afterwards He desireth to prove them by works also. " [1059] al. " truth. " [1060] 1 Thess. iv. 16 [not verbally quoted]. [1061] to aparallakton kai heni mono ten diaphoran emphainon [1062] a no kai kato [1063] touto [1064] As in our Auth. Version. [1065] touto , G. T. [1066] pantes , G. T. [1067] ta mere [1068] gennaios [1069] dikasterion [1070] ta ek tou biou [1071] tou Patros , G. T. [1072] sphinxas [1073] al. " even thus too gross. " [1074] al. " shamelessness. " [1075] al. " I am [He] who judge. " [1076] parellagmenon [1077] So Morel. and ms. in Bodl. Savile reads, " having shown that they, " &c. [1078] According to Savile's conjectural reading, para to tou P . in place of para tou P . for which there is also ms. authority. [1079] al. " each sentence. " [1080] e kerase [1081] al. " brings forward. " [1082] kataskeuazei [1083] e k procheirou [1084] katorthomaton [1085] tote [1086] he petai


Homily XL.

John v. 31, 32

"If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true; there is another that beareth witness of Me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true."

[1.] If any one unpracticed in the art undertake to work a mine, he will get no gold, but confounding all aimlessly and together, will undergo a labor unprofitable and pernicious: so also they who understand not the method [1087] of Holy Scripture, nor search out its peculiarities [1088] and laws, but go over all its points carelessly and in one manner, will mix the gold with earth, and never discover the treasure which is laid up in it. I say this now because the passage before us containeth much gold, not indeed manifest to view, but covered over with much obscurity, and therefore by digging and purifying we must arrive at the legitimate sense. For who would not at once be troubled at hearing Christ say, "If I testify of Myself, My witness is not true"; inasmuch as He often appeareth to have testified of Himself? For instance, conversing with the Samaritan woman He said, "I Am that speak unto thee": and in like manner to the blind man, "It is He that talketh with thee" ( c. ix. 37 ); and rebuking the Jews, "Ye say, [1089] thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God." ( c. x. 36 .) And in many other places besides He doth this. If now all these assertions be false, what hope of salvation shall we have? And where shall we find truth when Truth Itself declareth, "My witness is not true"? Nor doth this appear to be the only contradiction; there is another not less than this. He saith farther on, "Though I bear witness of Myself, yet My witness is true" ( c. viii. 14 ); which then, tell me, am I to receive, and which deem a falsehood? If we take them out thus [from the context] simply as they are said, without carefully considering the person to whom nor the cause for which they are said, nor any other like circumstances, they will both be falsehoods. For if His witness be "not true," then this assertion is not true either, not merely the second, but the first also. What then is the meaning? We need great watchfulness, or rather the grace of God, that we rest not in the mere words; for thus the heretics err, because they enquire not into the object of the speaker nor the disposition of the hearers. If we add not these and other points besides, as times and places and the opinions of the listeners, many absurd consequences will follow.

What then is the meaning? [1090] The Jews were about to object to Him, "If thou bearest witness [1091] concerning thyself, thy witness is not true" ( c. viii. 13 ): therefore He spake these words in anticipation; as though He had said, "Ye will surely say to Me, we believe thee not; for no one that witnesseth of himself is readily [1092] held trustworthy among men." So that the "is not true" must not be read absolutely, but with reference to [1093] their suspicions, as though He had said, "to you it is not true"; and so He uttered the words not looking to His own dignity, but to their secret thoughts. When He saith, "My witness is not true," He rebuketh their opinion of Him, and the objection about to be urged by them against Him; but when He saith, "Though I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true" ( c. viii. 14 ), He declareth the very nature of the thing itself, namely, that as God they ought to deem Him trustworthy even when speaking of Himself. For since He had spoken of the resurrection of the dead, and of the judgment, and that he that believeth on Him is not judged, but cometh unto life, and that He shall sit to require account of all men, and that He hath the same Authority and Power with the Father; and since He was about again otherwise to prove these things, He necessarily put their objection first. "I told you," He saith, "that `as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son quickeneth whom He will'; I told you that `the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son'; I told you that men must `honor the Son as they honor the Father'; I told you that `he that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father'; I told you that `he that heareth My words and believeth them shall not see death, but hath passed from death unto life' ( v. 24 ; not exactly quoted); that My voice shall raise the dead, some now, some hereafter; that I shall demand account from all men of their transgressions, that I shall judge righteously, and recompense those who have walked uprightly." Now since all these were assertions, since the things asserted were important, and since no clear proof of them had as yet been afforded to the Jews but one rather [1094] indistinct, He putteth their objection first when He is about to proceed [1095] to establish His assertions, speaking somewhat in this way if not in these very words: [1096] "Perhaps ye will say, thou assertest all this, but thou art not a credible witness, since thou testifiest of thyself." First then checking their disputatious spirit by setting forth what they would say, and showing that He knew the secrets of their hearts, and giving this first proof of His power, after stating the objection He supplieth other proofs clear and indisputable, producing three witnesses to what He said, namely, the works wrought by Him, the witness of the Father, and the preaching of John. And He putteth first the less important witness of John. For after saying, "There is another that beareth witness of Me, and I know that his witness is true," He addeth,

Ver. 33 . "Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth."

Yet if Thy witness be not true, how sayest Thou, "I know that the testimony of John is true, and that he hath borne witness to the truth"? and seest thou (O man) how clear it hence is, that the expression, "My witness is not true," was addressed to their secret thoughts?

[2.] "What then," saith some one, "if John bare witness partially." [1097] That the Jews might not assert this, see how He removeth this suspicion. For He said not, "John testified of Me," but, "Ye first sent to John, and ye would not have sent had ye not deemed him trustworthy." Nay, what is more, they had sent not to ask him about Christ, but about himself, and the man whom they deemed trustworthy in what related to himself they would much more deem so in what related to another. For it is, so to speak, the nature of us all not to give so much credit to those who speak of themselves as to those who speak of others; yet him they deemed so trustworthy as not to require even concerning himself any other testimony. For they who were sent said not, "What sayest thou concerning Christ?" but, "Who art thou? What sayest thou of thyself?" So great admiration felt they for the man. Now to all this Christ made allusion by saying, "Ye sent unto John." And on this account the Evangelist hath not merely related that they sent, but is exact as to the persons sent that [1098] they were Priests and of the Pharisees, not common or abject persons, nor such as might be corrupted or cheated, but men able to understand exactly what he said.

Ver. 34 . "But I receive not testimony from man."

"Why then hast Thou brought forward that of John?" His testimony was not the "testimony of man," for, saith he, "He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me." ( c. i. 33 .) So that John's testimony was the testimony of God; for having learned from Him he said what he did. But that none should ask, "Whence is it clear that he learnt from God?" and stop at this, He abundantly silences them by still addressing Himself to their thoughts. For neither was it likely that many would know these things; they had hitherto given heed unto John as to one who spake of himself, and therefore Christ saith, "I receive not testimony from man." And that the Jews might not ask, "And if Thou wert not about to receive the testimony of man, and by it to strengthen Thyself, why hast Thou brought forward this man's testimony?" see how He correcteth this contradiction by what He addeth. For after saying, "I receive not testimony from man," He hath added,

"But these things I say, that ye may be saved."

What He saith is of this kind; "I, being God, needed not the witness of John which is man's witness, yet because ye gave more heed to him, believe him more trustworthy than any, ran to him as to a prophet, (for all the city was poured forth to Jordan,) and have not believed on Me, even when working miracles, therefore I remind you of that witness of his."

Ver. 35 . "He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light."

That they may not reply, "What if he did speak and we received him not," He showeth that they did receive John's sayings: since they sent not common men, but priests and Pharisees and were willing to rejoice; [1099] so much did they admire the man, and at the same time had nothing to say against his words. But the "for a season," is the expression of one noting their levity, [1100] and the fact that they soon started away from him.

Ver. 36 . "But I have greater witness than that of John."

"For had ye been willing to admit faith according to the (natural) consequence of the facts, I would have brought you over by My works more than he by his words. But since ye will not, I bring you to John, not as needing his testimony, but because I do all `that ye may be saved.' For I have greater witness than that of John, namely, that from My works; yet I do not merely consider how I may be made acceptable to you by credible evidence, but how by that (of persons) known [1101] to and admired by you." Then glancing at them and saying that they rejoiced for a season in his (John's) light, He declared that their zeal was but temporary and uncertain. [1102]

He called John a torch, [1103] signifying that he had not light of himself, but by the grace of the Spirit; but the circumstance which caused the absolute distinction [1104] between Himself and John, namely, that He was the Sun of righteousness, this He put not yet; but merely hinting as yet at this He touched [1105] them sharply, by showing that from the same disposition which led them to despise John, neither could they believe in Christ. Since it was but for a season that they admired even the man whom they did admire, and who, had they not acted thus, would soon have led them by the hand to Jesus. Having then proved them altogether unworthy of forgiveness, He went on to say, "I have greater witness than that of John." "What is that?" It is that from His works.

"For the works," He saith, "which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father sent [1106] Me."

By this He reminded them of the paralytic restored, and of many other things. The words perhaps one of them might have asserted were mere boast, and said by reason of John's friendship towards Him, (though indeed it was not in their power to say even this of John, a man equal to the exact practice of wisdom, [1107] and on this account admired by them,) but the works could not even among the maddest of them admit this suspicion; therefore He added this second testimony, saying, "The works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father sent Me."

[3.] In this place He also meeteth the accusation respecting the violation of the Sabbath. For since those persons argued, "How can he be from God, seeing that he keepeth not the Sabbath?" ( c. ix. 16 ), therefore He saith, "Which My Father hath given unto Me." Yet in truth, He acted with absolute power, but in order most abundantly to show that He doth nothing contrary to the Father, therefore He hath put the expression of much inferiority. Since why did He not say, "The works which the Father hath given Me testify that I am equal to the Father"? for both of these truths were to be earned from the works, that He did nothing contrary, and that He was equal to Him who begat Him; a point which He is establishing elsewhere, where He saith, "If ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know and believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me." [1108] ( c. x. 38 .) In both respects, therefore, the works bare witness to Him, that He was equal to the Father, and that He did nothing contrary to Him. Why then said He not so, instead of leaving out the greater and putting forward this? Because to establish this was His first object. For although it was a far less thing to have it believed that He came from God, than to have it believed that God was equal with Him, (for that belonged to the Prophets also, [1109] but this never,) still He taketh much pains as to the lesser point, as knowing that, this admitted, [1110] the other would afterwards be easily received. So that making no mention of the more important portion of the testimony, He putteth [1111] its lesser office, that by this they may receive the other also. Having effected this, He addeth,

Ver. 37 . "And the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me."

Where did He "bear witness of" Him? In Jordan: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" ( Matt. iii. 16 ); hear Him. [1112] Yet even this needed proof. The testimony of John then was clear, for they themselves had sent to him, and could not deny it. The testimony from miracles was in like manner clear, for they had seen them wrought, and had heard from him who was healed, and had believed; whence also they drew their accusation. It therefore remained to give proof to the testimony of the Father. Next in order to effect this, He added,

"Ye have neither heard His voice at any time":

How then saith Moses, "The Lord spake, and Moses answered"? ( Ex. xix. 19 ); and David, "He had heard a tongue which he knew not" ( Ps. lxxxi. 5 ); and Moses again, "Is there any such people which hath `heard the voice of God'?" ( Deut. iv. 33 .)

"Nor seen His shape."

Yet Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, are said to have seen Him, and many others. What then is that which Christ saith now? He guideth them by degrees to a philosophical doctrine, showing that with God is neither voice nor shape, but that He is higher than such forms or sounds like these. For as when He saith, "Ye have not heard His voice," He doth not mean that God doth indeed utter a voice, but one which cannot be heard; so when He saith, "Nor seen His shape," He doth not mean that God hath a shape though one invisible, but that neither of these things belongeth to God. And in order that they might not say, "Thou art a boaster, God spake to Moses only"; (this at least they did say, "We know that God spake with Moses: as for this fellow, we know not whence He is"-- c. ix. 29 ;) on this account He spake as He did, to show that there is neither voice nor shape with God. "But why," He saith, "name I these things? Not only have ye `neither heard His voice nor seen His shape,' but it is not even in your power to assert that of which you most boast and of which you are all most fully assured, namely, that ye have received and keep His commandments." Wherefore He addeth,

Ver. 38 . "And ye have not His word abiding in you."

That is, the ordinances, the commandments, the Law, and the Prophets. For even if God ordained these, still they are not with you, since ye believe not on Me. Because, if the Scriptures everywhere say [1113] that it is necessary to give heed to [1114] Me, and yet ye believe not, it is quite clear that His word is removed from you. Wherefore again He addeth,

"For whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not."

Then that they may not argue, "How, if we have not heard His voice, hath He testified unto thee?" He saith,

Ver. 39 . "Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me."

Since by these the Father gave His testimony. He gave it indeed by Jordan also and in the mount, but Christ bringeth not forward those voices; perhaps by doing so [1115] He would have been disbelieved; [1116] for one of them, that in the mount, they did not hear, and the other they heard indeed, but heeded not. For this reason He referreth them to the Scriptures, showing that from them cometh the Father's [1117] testimony, having first removed the old grounds on which they used to boast, either as having seen God or as having heard His voice. For as it was likely that they would disbelieve His voice, and picture to themselves what took place on Sinai, after first correcting their suspicions on these points, and showing that what had been done was a condescension, He then referreth them to the testimony of the Scriptures.

[4.] And from these too let us also, when we war against heretics, arm and fortify ourselves. For "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work" ( 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17 ); not that he may have some and not others, for such a man is not "perfect." For tell me what profit is it, if a man pray continually, but give not liberal alms? or if he give liberal alms, but be covetous or violent? or if he be not covetous nor violent, but (is liberal) to make a show before men, and to gain the praise of the beholders? or if he give alms with exactness and according to God's pleasure, yet be lifted up by this very thing, and be highminded ? or if he be humble and constant in fasting, but covetous, greedy of gain, [1118] and nailed to earth, and one who introduceth into his soul the mother of mischief? for the love of money is the root of all evils. [1119] Let us then shudder at the action, let us flee the sin; this hath made the world a waste, [1120] this hath brought all things into confusion, this seduceth us from the most blessed service of Christ. "It is not possible," [1121] He saith, "to serve God and mammon." For mammon giveth commands contradictory to those of Christ. The one saith, "Give to them that need"; the other, "Plunder the goods of the needy." Christ saith, "Forgive them that wrong thee"; the other, "Prepare snares against those who do thee no wrong." Christ saith, "Be merciful and kind"; mammon saith, "Be savage and cruel, and count the tears of the poor as nothing"; to the intent that he may render the Judge stern to us in that day. For then all our actions shall come [1122] before our eyes, and those who have been injured and stripped by us, shutting us out from all excuse. Since if Lazarus, who received no wrong from Dives, but only did not enjoy any of his good things, stood forth at that time [1123] as a bitter accuser and allowed him not to obtain any pardon, what excuse, tell me, shall they have, who, besides giving no alms of their own substance, seize that of others, and overthrow orphans' houses? If they who have not fed Christ when He hungered have drawn such fire upon their heads, what consolation shall they enjoy who plunder what belongs not to them at all, who weave ten thousand law-suits, who unjustly grasp the property of all men? Let us then cast out this desire; and we shall cast it out if we think of those before us who did wrongfully, who were covetous and are gone. Do [1124] not others enjoy their wealth and labors while they lie in punishment, and vengeance, and intolerable woes? And how can this be anything but extreme folly, to weary and vex ourselves, that living we may strain ourselves with labor, and on our departure hence undergo intolerable punishments and vengeances, when we might have enjoyed ourselves here, (for nothing so much causeth pleasure as the consciousness of almsgiving, [1125] ) and departing to that place might have been delivered from all our woes, and obtained ten thousand blessings? For as wickedness is wont to punish those who go after it, even before (they arrive at) the pit, so also virtue, even before the (gift of) the Kingdom, provides delights for those who here practice it, making them to live in company with good hopes and continual pleasure. Therefore that we may obtain this, both here and in the life to come, let us hold fast to good works, so shall we gain the future crown; to which may we all reach through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[1087] lit. " consequence. " [1088] i diomata [1089] Savile reads, " and to the Jews, How say ye, " &c. [1090] al. " let us see then with what intent these words were said. " [1091] su martureis , G. T. [1092] al. " ever. " [1093] al. with the addition " to their, " &c. [1094] al. " in every way. " [1095] ho rman , al. chorein [1096] Morel. reads, "a ll but conclusively refuting them by what He saith. " [1097] chariti [1098] al. " showing that. " [1099] clause omitted in Ben. [1100] eukolian [1101] al. " nearer. " [1102] This passage is read variously in Ben. and ms. but without any variety of meaning. [1103] luchnon [1104] a ntidiastolen [1105] al. " reaches. " [1106] a pesteile [ a pestalke , G. T.]. [1107] philosophein [1108] e n emoi ho Pater, kago en auto , G. T. [1109] al. " the Prophets said. " [1110] al. " said. " [1111] al. " deems worthy of mention, " [1112] The latter words heard at the Transfiguration. [1113] al. " teach. " [1114] al. " believe. " [1115] e nteuthen [1116] al. " they would have disbelieved them. " [1117] al. " of the Spirit. " [1118] e mporikos [1119] al. " for Paul has said, " &c. [1120] or, " revolted, " a nastaton [1121] ou dunasthe , G. T. [1122] al. " stand. " [1123] tote [1124] al. " shall. " [1125] al. " almsgiving and a clear conscience. "


Homily XLI.

John v. 39, 40

"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have [eternal [1126] ] life."

[1.] Beloved , let us make great account of spiritual things, and not think that it is sufficient for us to salvation to pursue them anyhow. For if in things of this life a man can gain no great profit if he conduct them in an indifferent and chance way, much more will this be the case in spiritual things, since these require yet greater attention. Wherefore Christ when He referred the Jews to the Scriptures, sent them not to a mere reading, but a careful and considerate [1127] search; for He said not, "Read the Scriptures," but, "Search the Scriptures." Since the sayings relating to Him required great attention, (for they had been concealed from the beginning for the advantage of the men of that time,) He biddeth them now dig down with care that they might be able to discover what lay in the depth below. These sayings were not on the surface, nor were they cast forth to open view, but lay like some treasure hidden very deep. Now he that searcheth for hidden things, except he seek them with care and toil, will never find the object of his search. For which cause He said, "Search the Scriptures, because in them ye think ye have eternal life." He said not, "Ye have," but "ye think," showing that they gained from them nothing great or high, expecting as they did to be saved by the mere reading, without the addi tion of [1128] faith. What He saith therefore is of this kind: "Do ye not admire the Scriptures, do ye not think that they are the causes of all life? By these I confirm My claims now, for they are they which testify of Me, yet ye will not come to Me that ye may have eternal life." It was thus with good reason that He said, "ye think," because they would not obey, but merely prided themselves on the bare reading. Then lest owing to His very tender care He should incur among them the suspicion of vainglory, and because He desired to be believed by them, should be deemed to be seeking His own; (for He reminded them of the words of John, and of the witness of God, and of His own works, and said all He could to draw them to Him, and promised them "life"; [1129] ) since, I say, it was likely that many would suspect that He spake these things from a desire of glory, hear what He saith:

Ver. 41 . "I receive not honor from men."

That is, "I need it not": "My nature," He saith, "is not of such a kind as to need the honor which is from men, for if the sun can receive no addition from the light of a candle, much farther am I from needing the honor which is from men." "Why then," asks some one, "sayest thou these things, if thou needest it not?" "That ye may be saved." This He positively asserted above, and the same He implied here also, by saying, "that ye might have life." Moreover, He putteth another reason:

Ver. 42 . "But I know you that ye have not the love of God in you."

For when under pretense of loving God they [1130] persecuted Him because He made Himself equal with God, and He knew that they would not believe Him, lest any one should ask, "why speakest thou these words?" "I speak them," He saith, "to convict you of this, that it is not for the love of God that ye persecute Me, if it be so that He testifieth to Me both by works and by the Scriptures. For as before this when ye deemed Me an enemy of God ye drove Me away, so now, since I have declared these things, ye ought to have hastened to Me, if ye had really loved. God. But ye love Him not. And therefore have I spoken these words, to show that you are possessed with excessive pride, that you are vainly boasting and shading over [1131] your own enviousness." And the same He proveth not by these things only, but by those that should come to pass.

Ver. 43 . "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him will ye receive."

[2.] Seest thou that He everywhere declareth that He hath been "sent," that judgment hath been committed to Him by the Father, that He can do nothing of Himself, in order that He may cut off all excuse for their unfairness? But who is it that He here saith shall come "in his own name"? He alludeth here to Antichrist, and putteth [1132] an incontrovertible proof of their unfairness. "For if as loving God ye persecute Me, much more ought this to have taken place [1133] in the case of Antichrist. For he will neither say that he is sent by the Father, nor that he cometh according to his will, but in everything contrariwise, seizing like a tyrant what belongeth not to him, and asserting that he is the very God over all, as Paul saith, `Exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, showing himself that he is God.' ( 2 Thess. ii. 4 .) This is to `come in his own name.' I do not so, but am come in the Name of My Father." That they received not One who said that He was sent of God, was a sufficient proof that they loved not God; but now from the contrary of this fact, from their being about to receive Antichrist, He showeth their shamelessness. [1134] For when they received not One who asserteth that He was sent by God, and are about to worship one who knoweth Him not, and who saith that he is God over all, it is clear that their persecution proceeded from malice and from hating God. On this account He putteth two reasons for His words; and first the kinder one, [1135] "That ye may be saved"; and, "That ye may have life": and when they would have mocked at Him, He putteth the other which was more striking, showing that even although His hearers should not believe, yet that God was wont always to do His own works. Now Paul speaking concerning Antichrist said prophetically, that "God shall send them strong delusion,--that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." ( 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12 .) Christ said not, "He shall come"; but, "if He come," from tenderness for His hearers; and because all their obstinacy [1136] was not yet complete. He was silent as to the reason of His coming; but Paul, for those who can understand, has particularly alluded to it. For it is he who taketh away all excuse from them.

Christ then putteth also the cause of their unbelief, saying,

Ver. 44 . "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?"

Hence again He showeth that they looked not to the things of God, but that under this pretense they desired to gratify private feeling, and were so far from doing this on account of His glory, that they preferred honor from men to that which cometh from Him. How then were they likely to entertain [1137] such hostility towards Him [1138] for a kind of honor which they so despised, as to prefer to it the honor which cometh from men?

Having told them that they had not the love of God, and having proved it by what was doing in His case, and by what should be in the case of Antichrist, and having demonstrated that they were deprived of all excuse, He next bringeth Moses to be their accuser, going on to say,

Ver. 45-47 . "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?"

What He saith is of this kind: "It is Moses [1139] who has been insulted more than I [1140] by your conduct towards Me, for ye have disbelieved him rather than Me." See how in every way He hath cast them out from all excuse. "Ye said that ye loved God when ye persecuted Me; I have shown that ye did so from hatred of Him: ye say [1141] that I break the Sabbath and annul the Law; I have rid Me of this slander also: ye maintain [1142] that ye believe in Moses by what ye dare to do against Me; I on the contrary show that this is most to disbelieve in Moses; for so far am I from opposing the Law, that he who shall accuse you is none other than the man who gave you the Law." As then He said of the Scriptures, in which "ye think ye have eternal life," so of Moses also He saith, "in whom ye trust"; everywhere conquering them by their own weapons.

"And whence," saith some one, "is it clear that Moses will accuse us, and that thou art not a boaster? What hast thou to do with Moses? Thou hast broken the Sabbath which he ordained that we should keep; how then should he accuse us? And how doth it appear that we shall believe on another who cometh in his own name? All these assertions thou makest without evidence." Now in truth all these points are proved above. "For" (Christ would reply) "since it is acknowledged that I came from God, both by the works, by the voice of John, and by the testimony of the Father, it is evident that Moses will accuse the Jews." For what saith he? "If a man come doing miracles and leading you to God, and truly foretelling things future, ye must hearken unto him with all readiness." Now Christ had done all this. He wrought miracles in very truth, He drew all men to God, and (so that He [1143] ) caused accomplishment to follow His predictions. [1144]

"But whence doth it appear that they will believe another?" From their hating Christ, since they who turn aside from Him who cometh according to the will of God will, it is quite plain, receive the enemy of God. And marvel not if He now putteth forward Moses, although He said, "I receive not witness from man," for He referreth them not to Moses, but to the Scriptures of God. However, since the Scriptures terrified them less, He bringeth round His discourse to the very person (of Moses), setting over against them their Lawgiver as their accuser, thus rendering the terror more impressive; [1145] and each of their assertions He refuteth. Observe: they said that they persecuted Him through love for God, He showeth that they did so through hating God; they said that they held fast to Moses, He showeth that they acted thus because they believed not Moses. For had they been zealous for the law, they ought to have received Him who fulfilled it; if they loved God they ought to have believed One who drew them to Him, if they believed Moses they ought to have done homage to One of whom Moses prophesied. "But" (saith Christ) "if Moses is disbelieved before My coming, it is nothing unlikely that I, who am heralded by him, should be driven away by you." As then He had shown from their conduct towards Himself that they who admired John (really) despised him, so now He showeth that they who thought that they believed Moses, believed him not, and turneth back on their own head all that they thought to put forward in their own behalf. "So far," He saith, "am I from drawing you away from the Law, that I call your Lawgiver himself to be your accuser."

That the Scriptures testified of Him He declared, but where they testify He added not; desiring to inspire them with greater awe, and to prompt them to search, and to reduce them to the necessity of questioning. For had He told them readily and without their questioning, they would have rejected the testimony; but now, if they gave any heed to His words, they needed first of all to ask, and learn from Him what that testimony was. [1146] On this account He dealeth the more largely in assertions and threats, not in proofs only, that even so He may bring them over by fear of what He saith; but they even so were silent. Such a thing is wickedness; whatsoever a man say or do it is not stirred to move, but remaineth keeping its peculiar venom.

Wherefore we must cast out all wickedness from our souls, and never more contrive any deceit; for, saith one, "To the perverse God sendeth crooked paths" ( Prov. xxi. 8 , LXX.); and, "The holy spirit of discipline [1147] will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding." ( Wisd. i. 5 .) For nothing maketh men so foolish as wickedness; since when a man is treacherous, unfair, [1148] ungrateful, (these are different forms of wickedness,) when without having been wronged he grieves another, when he weaves deceits, how shall he not exhibit an example of excessive folly? Again, nothing maketh men so wise as virtue; it rendereth them thankful and fair-minded, merciful, mild, gentle, and candid; it is wont to be the mother of all other blessings. And what is more understanding than one so disposed? for virtue is the very spring and root of prudence, just as all wickedness hath its beginning in folly. For, the insolent man and the angry become the prey of their respective passions from lack of wisdom; on which account the prophet said, "There is no soundness in my flesh: my wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness" ( Ps. xxxviii. 3, 4 ): showing that all sin hath its beginning in folly: and so the virtuous man who hath the fear of God is more understanding than any; wherefore a wise man hath said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." ( Prov. i. 7 .) If then to fear God is to have wisdom, and the wicked man hath not that fear, he is deprived of that which is wisdom indeed;--and deprived of that which is wisdom indeed, he is more foolish than any. And yet many admire the wicked as being able to do injustice and harm, not knowing that they ought to deem them wretched above all men, who thinking to injure others thrust the sword against themselves;--an act of extremest folly, that a man should strike himself and not even know that he doth so, but should think that he is injuring another while he is killing himself. Wherefore Paul, knowing that we slay ourselves when we smite others, saith, "Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" ( 1 Cor. vi. 7 .) For the not suffering wrong consists in doing none, as also the not being ill-used in not using others ill; though this assertion may seem a riddle to the many, and to those who will not learn true wisdom. Knowing this, let us not call wretched or lament for those who suffer injury or insult, but for such who inflict these things; these are they who have been most injured, who have made God to be at war with them, and have opened the mouths of ten thousand accusers, who are getting an evil reputation in the present life, and drawing down on themselves severe punishment in the life to come. While those who have been wronged by them, and have nobly borne it all, have God favorable to them, and all to condone with, and praise, and entertain them. Such as these in the present life, shall enjoy an exceeding good report, as affording the strongest example of true wisdom, and in the life to come shall share the good things everlasting; 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, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[1126] not in G. T. [1127] al. " inquisitive. " [1128] al. " being destitute of. " [1129] al. " and promised all those things so as to draw them to Himself. " [1130] al. " they often. " [1131] al. " veiling. " [1132] al. " whom also He putteth. " [1133] al. " ought ye to do this. " [1134] al. " enviousness. " [1135] al. " kindness, saying. " [1136] al. " wickedness. " [1137] a nadechesthai [1138] or, " to take on them such hostility as they would have incurred by following Him. " [1139] e keinos [1140] or, " before Me. " [1141] al. " accuse. " [1142] al. " profess. " [1143] Not in all copies. [1144] Not found in so many words. The command is given with this test, Deut. xviii. 18-22; see also Deut. xiii. 1 [1145] al. " more horrible. " [1146] al. " to enquire even if He held His peace. " [1147] sophias [1148] a gnomon


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