ORIGEN'S COMMENTARY
ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
REST OF BOOK VI

15. HOW THE BAPTIST ANSWERS THE QUESTION OF THE PHARISEES AND EXALTS THE NATURE OF CHRIST. OF THE SHOE-LATCHET WHICH HE IS UNABLE TO UNTIE.

John(2) answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not, even He who cometh after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose." Heracleon considers that John's answers to those sent by the Pharisees refer not to what they asked, but to what he wished, not observing that he accuses the prophet of a want of manners, by making him, when asked about one thing, answer about another; for this is a fault to be guarded against in conversation. We assert, on the contrary, that the reply accurately takes up the question. It is asked," Why baptizest thou then, if thou art not the Christ?" And what other answer could be given to this than to show that his baptism was in its nature a bodily thing? I, he says, "baptize with water;" this is his answer to, "Why baptizest thou." And to the second part of their question, "If thou art not the Christ," he answers by exalting the superior nature of Christ, that He has such virtue as to be invisible in His deity, though present to every man and extending over the whole universe. This is what is indicated in the words, "There standeth one among you." The Pharisees, moreover, though expecting the advent of Christ, saw nothing in Him of such a nature as John speaks of; they believed Him to be simply a perfect and holy man. John, therefore, rebukes their ignorance of His superiority, and adds to the words, "There standeth one among you," the clause, "whom ye know not." And, lest any one should suppose the invisible One who extends to every man, or, indeed, to the whole world, to be a different person from Him who became man, and appeared upon the earth and con versed with men, he adds to the words, "There standeth one among you whom you know not," the further words, "Who cometh after me," that is, He who is to be manifested after me. By whose surpassing excellence he well understood that his own nature was far surpassed, though some doubted whether he might be the Christ; and, therefore, desiring to show how far he is from attaining to the greatness of the Christ, that no one should think of him beyond what he sees or hears of him, he goes on: "The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose." By which lie conveys, as in a riddle, that he is not fit to solve and to explain the argument about Christ's assuming a human body, an argument tied up and hidden (like a shoe-tie) to those who do not understand it,--so as to say anything worthy of such an advent, compressed, as it was, into so short a space.

16. COMPARISON OF JOHN'S TESTIMONY TO JESUS IN THE DIFFERENT GOSPELS.

It may not be out of place, as we are examining the text, "I baptize with water," to compare the parallel utterances of the evangelists with this of John. Matthew reports that the Baptist, when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, after the words of rebuke which we have already studied, went on:(1) "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." This agrees with the words in John, in which the Baptist declares himself to those sent by the Pharisees, on the subject of his baptizing with water. Mark, again, says,(1) "John preached, saying, There cometh after me He that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I baptized you with water, but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." And Luke says(2) that, as the people were in expectation, and all were reasoning in their hearts concerning John, whether haply he were the Christ, John answered them all, saying. "I indeed baptize you with water; but there cometh one mightier than I, whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to unloose; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."

17. OF THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN TO JESUS IN MATTHEW'S GOSPEL.

These, then, are the parallel passages of the four; let us try to see as clearly as we can what is the purport of each and wherein they differ from each other. And we will begin with Matthew, who is reported by tradition to have published his Gospel before the others, to the Hebrews, those, namely, of the circumcision who believed. I, he says, baptize you with water unto repentance, purifying you, as it were, and turning you away from evil courses and calling you to repentance; for I am come to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him, and by my baptism of repentance to prepare the ground for Him who is to come after me, and who will thus benefit you much more effectively and powerfully than my strength could. For His baptism is not that of the body only; He fills the penitent with the Holy Ghost, and His diviner fire does away with everything material and consumes everything that is earthy, not only from him who admits it to his life, but even from him who hears of it from those who have it. So much stronger than I is He who is coming after me, that I am not able to bear even the outskirts of the powers round Him which are furthest from Him (they are not open and exposed, so that any one could see them), nor even to bear those who support them. I know not of which I should speak. Should I speak of my own great weakness, which is not able to bear even these things about Christ which in comparison with the greater things in Him are least, or should I speak of His transcendent Deity, greater than all the world? If I who have received such grace, as to be thought worthy of prophecy predicting my arrival in this human life, in the words," The voice of one crying in the wilderness," and "Behold I send my messenger before thy face;" if I whose birth Gabriel who stands before God announced to my father so advanced in years, so much against his expectation, I at whose name Zacharias recovered his voice and was enabled to use it to prophesy, I to whom my Lord bears witness that among them that are born of women there is noble greater than I, I am not able so much as to bear His shoes l And if not His shoes, what can be said about His garments? Who is so great as to be able to guard His coat? Who can suppose that He can understand the meaning contained in His tunic which is without seam from the top because it is woven throughout? It is to be observed that while the four represent John as declaring himself to have come to baptize with water. Matthew alone adds the words "to repentance," teaching that the benefit of baptism is connected with the intention of the baptized person; to him who repents it is salutary, but to him who comes to it without repentance it will turn to greater condemnation. And here we must note that as the wonderful works done by the Saviour in the cures He wrought, which are symbolical of those who at any time are set free by the word of God from ally sickness or disease, though they were done to the body and brought a bodily relief, yet also called those who were benefited by them to an exercise of faith, so the washing with water which is symbolic of the soul cleansing herself from every stain of wickedness, is no less in itself to him who yields himself to the divine power of the invocation of the Adorable Trinity, the beginning and source of divine girls; for "there are diversities of gifts." This view receives confirmation from the narrative recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, which shows the Spirit to have descended so manifestly on those who receive baptism, after the water had prepared the way for him in those who properly approached the rite. Simon Magus, astonished at what he saw, desired to receive from Peter this gift, but though it was a good thing he desired, he thought to attain it by the mammon of unrighteousness. We next remark in passing that the baptism of John was inferior to the baptism of Jesus which was given through His disciples. Those persons in the Acts(1) who were baptized to John's baptism and who had not heard if there was any Holy Ghost are baptized over again by the Apostle, Regeneration did not take place with John, but with Jesus through His disciples it does so, and what is called the layer of regeneration takes place with renewal of the Spirit; for the Spirit now comes in addition since it comes from God and is over and above the water and does not come to all after the water. So hr, then, our examination of the statements in the Gospel according to Matthew.

18.OF THE TESTIMONY IN MARK. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE SAVIOUR'S SHOES AND BY UNTYING HIS SHOE-LATCHETS.

Now let us consider what is stated by Mark. Mark's account of John's preaching agrees with the other. The words are, "There cometh after me He that is mightier than I," which amounts to the same thing as "He that cometh after me is mightier than I." There is a difference, however, in what follows, "The latchets of His shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and untie." For it is one thing to bear a person's shoes,--they must, it is evident, have been untied already from the feet of the wearer,--and it is another thing to stoop down and untie the latchet of his shoes. And it follows, since believers cannot think that either of the Evangelists made any mistake or misrepresentation, that the Baptist must have made these two utterances at different times and have meant them to express different things. It is not the case, as some suppose. that the reports refer to the same incident and turned out differently because of a loose-ness of memory as to some of the facts or words. Now it is a great thing to bear the shoes of Jesus, a great thing to stoop down to the bodily features of His mission, to that which took place in some lower region, so as to contemplate His image in the lower sphere, and to untie each difficulty connected with the mystery of His incarnation, such being as it were His shoe-latchets. For the fetter of obscurity is one as the key of knowledge also is one; not even He who is greatest among those born of women is sufficient of Himself to loose such things or to open them, for He who tied and locked at first, He also grants to whom He will to loose His shoe-latchet and to unlock what He has shut. If the passage about the shoes has a mystic meaning we ought not to scorn to consider it. Now I consider that the inhumanisation when the Son of God assumes flesh and bones is one of His shoes, and that the other is the descent to Hades, whatever that Hades be, and the journey with the Spirit to the prison. As to the descent into Hades, we read in the sixteenth Psalm, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades," and as for the journey in prison with the Spirit we read in Peter in his Catholic Epistle,(1) "Put to death," he says, "in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit; in which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which at one time were disobedient, when the long-suffering of God once waited in the days of Noah while the ark was a preparing." He, then, who is able worthily to set forth the meaning of these two journeys is able to untie the latchet of the shoes of Jesus; he, bending down in his mind and going with Jesus as He goes down into Hades, and descending from heaven and the mysteries of Christ's deity to the advent He of necessity made with us when He took on man (as His shoes). Now He who put on man also put on the dead, for(2) "for this end Jesus both died and revived, that He might be Lord both of dead and living." This is why He put on both living and dead, that is, the inhabitants of the earth and those of Hades, that He might be the Lord of both dead and living. Who, then, is able to stoop down and untie the latchet of such shoes, and having untied them not to let them drop, but by the second faculty he has received to take them up and bear them, by bearing the meaning of them in his memory?

19. LUKE AND JOHN SUGGEST THAT ONE MAY LOOSE THE SHOE-LATCHETS OF THE LOGOS WITHOUT STOOPING DOWN.

We must not, however, omit to ask how it comes that Luke and John give the speech without the phrase "to stoop down." He, perhaps, who stoops down may be held to unloose in the sense which we have stated. On the other hand, it may be that one who fixes his eyes on the height of the exaltation of the Logos, may find the loosing of those shoes which when one is seeking them seem to be bound, so that He also looses those shoes which are separable from the Logos, and beholds the Logos divested of inferior things, as He is, the Son of God.

20. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOT BEING "SUFFICIENT" AND NOT BEING "WORTHY."

John records that the Baptist said he was not worthy, Mark that he was not sufficient, and these two are not the same. One who was not worthy might yet be sufficient, and one who was worthy might not be sufficient. For even if it be the case that gifts are bestowed to profit withal and not merely according to the proportion of faith, yet it would seem to be the part of a God who loves men and who sees before what harm must come from the rise of self-opinion or conceit, not to bestow sufficiency even on the worthy. But it belongs to the goodness of God by conferring bounties to conquer the object of His bounty, taking in advance him who is destined to be worthy, and adorning him even before he becomes worthy with sufficiency, so that after his sufficiency he may come to be worthy; he is not first to be worthy and then to anticipate the giver and take His gifts before the time and so arrive at being sufficient. Now with the three the Baptist says he is not sufficient, while in John he says he is not worthy. But it may be that he who formerly declared that he was not sufficient became sufficient afterwards, even though perhaps he was not worthy, or again that while he was saying he was not worthy, and was in fact not worthy, he arrived at being worthy, unless one should say that human nature can never come to perform worthily this loosing or this bearing, axed that John, therefore, says truly that he never became sufficient to loose the latchets of the Saviour's shoes, nor worthy of it either. However much we take into our minds there are still left things not yet understood; for, as we read in the wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach,(1) "When a man hath done, then he beginneth, and when he leaveth off, then he shall he doubtful."

21.THE FOURTH GOSPEL SPEAKS OF ONLY ONE SHOE, THE OTHERS OF BOTH. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS.

As to the shoes, too, which are spoken of in the three Gospels, we have a question to consider; we must compare them with the single shoe named by the disciple John. "I am not worthy," we read there, "to untie the latchet of His shoe." Perhaps he was conquered by the grace of God, and received the gift of doing that which of himself he would not have been worthy to do, of untying, namely, the latchet of one of the shoes, namely, after he had seen the Saviour's sojourn among men, of which he bears witness. But he did not know the things which were to follow, namely, whether Jesus was to come to that place also, to which he was to go after being beheaded in prison, or whether he was to look for another; and hence he alludes enigmatically to that doubt which was afterwards cleared up to us, and says, "I am not worthy to untie His shoe-latchet." If any one considers this to be a superfluous speculation, he can combine in one the speech about the shoes and that about the shoe, as if John said, I am by no means worthy to loose His shoestring, not even at the beginning, the string of one of His shoes. Or the following may be a way to combine what is said in the Four. If John understands about Jesus sojourn here, but is in doubt about the future, then he says with perfect truth that he is not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes; for though he loosed that of one shoe, he did not loose both. And on the other hand, what he says about the latehet of the shoe is quite true also; since as we saw he is still in doubt whether Jesus is He that was to come, or whether another is to be looked for, in that other region.

22. HOW THE WORD STANDS IN THE MIDST OF MEN WITHOUT BEING KNOWN OF THEM,

As for the saying, "There standeth one among you whom you know not," we are led by it to consider the Son of God, the Word, by whom all things were made, since He exists in substance throughout the underlying nature of things, being the same as wisdom. For He permeated, from the beginning, all creation, so that what is made at any time should be made through Him, and that it might be always true of anything soever, that "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made;" and this saying also, "By wisdom didst thou make them all." Now, if He permeates all creation, then He is also in those questioners who ask, "Why baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" In the midst of them stands the Word, who is the same and steadfast, being everywhere established by the Father. Or the words, "There standeth among you," may he understood to say, In the midst of you men, because you are reasonable beings, stands He who is proved by Scripture to be the sovereign principle in the midst of every body, and so to be present in your heart. Those, therefore, who have the Word in the midst of them, but who do not consider His nature, nor from what spring and principle He came, nor how He gave them the nature they have,(1) these, while having Him in the midst of them, know Him not. But John knew Him: for the words, "Whom you know not," used in reproach to the Pharisees, show that he well knew the Word whom they did not know. And the Baptist, therefore, knowing Him, saw Him coming after himself, who was now in the midst of them, that is to say, dwelling after him and the teaching he gave in his baptism, in those who, according to reason (or the Word), submitted to that purifying rite. The word "after," however, has not the same meaning here as it has when Jesus commands us to come "after" Him; for in this case we are bidden to go after Him, so that, treading in His steps, we may come to the Father; but in the other case, the meaning is that after the teachings of John(since "He came in order that all men through Him might believe"), the Word dwells with those who have prepared themselves, purified as they are by the lesser words for the perfect Word. Firstly, then, stands the Father, being without any turning or change; and then stands also His Word, always carrying on His work of salvation, and even when He is in the midst of men, not comprehended, and not even seen. He stands, also, teaching, and inviting all to drink from His abundant spring, for(1) "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink."

23. HERACLEON'S VIEW OF THIS UTTERANCE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND INTERPRETATION OF THE SHOE OF JESUS.

But Heracleon declares the words, "There standeth one among you," to be equivalent to "He is already here, and He is in the world and in men, and He is already manifest to you all." By this He does away with the meaning which is also present in the words, that the Word had permeated the whole world. For we must say to him, When is He not present, and when is He not in the world? Does not this Gospel say, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." And this is why those to whom the Logos is He "whom you know not," do not know Him: they have never gone out of the world, but the world does not know Him. But at what time did He cease to be among men? Was He not in Isaiah, when He said,(2) "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me," and(3) "I became manifest to those who sought me not." Let them say, too, if He was not in David when he said, not from himself,(4) "But I was established by Him a king in Zion His holy hill," and the other words spoken in the Psalms in the person of Christ. And why should I go over the details of this proof,truly they are hard to be numbered, when I can show quite clearly that He was always in men? And that is enough to show Heracleon's interpretation of "There standeth in the midst of you," to be unsound, when he says it is equivalent to "He is already here, and He is in the world and in men." We are disposed to agree with him when he says that the words, "Who cometh after me," show John to be the forerunner of Christ, for he is in fact a kind of servant running before his master. The words, however, "Whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to unloose," receive much too simple an interpretation when it is said that "in these words the Baptist confesses that he is not worthy even of the least hon-ourable ministration to Christ." After this interpretation he adds, not without sense, "I am not worthy that for my sake He should come down from His greatness and should take flesh as His footgear, concerning which I am not able to give any explanation or description, nor to unloose the arrangement of it." In understanding the world by his shoe, Heracleon shows some largeness of mind, but immediately after he verges on impiety in declaring that all this is to be understood of that person whom John here has in his mind. For he considers that it is the demiurge of the world who confesses by these words that he is a lesser person than the Christ; and this is the height of impiety. For the Father who sent Him, He who is the God of the living as Jesus Himself testifies, of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, and He who is greater than heaven and earth for the reason that He is the Maker of them, He also alone is good and is greater than He who was sent by Him. And even if, as we said, Heracleon's idea was a lofty one, that the whole world was the shoe of Jesus, yet I think we ought not to agree with him. For how can it be harmonized with such a view, that "Heaven is My throne and the earth My footstool," a testimony which Jesus accepts as said of the Father?(1) "Swear not by heaven," He says, "for it is God's throne, nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet." How, if he takes the whole world to be the shoe of Jesus, can he also accept the text,(2) "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" saith the Lord. It is also worth while to enquire, whether as the Word and wisdom permeated the whole world, and as the Father was in the Son, the words are to be understood as above or in this way, that He who first of all was girded about with the whole creation, in addition to the Son's being in Him, granted to the Saviour, as being second after Him and being God the Word, to pervade the whole creation. To those who have it in them to take note of the uninterrupted movement of the great heaven, how it carries with it from East to West so great a multitude of stars, to them most of all it will seem needful to enquire what that force is, how great and of what nature, which is present in the whole world. For to pronounce that force to be other than the Father and the Son, that perhaps might be inconsistent with piety.

24.THE NAME OF THE PLACE WHERE JOHN BAPTIZED IS NOT BETHANY, AS IN MOST COPIES, BUT BETHABARA. PROOF OF THIS. SIMILARLY "GERGESA" SHOULD BE READ FOR "GERASA," IN THE STORY OF THE SWINE. ATTENTION IS TO BE PAID TO THE PROPER NAMES IN SCRIPTURE, WHICH ARE OFTEN WRITTEN INACCURATELY, AND ARE OF IMPORTANCE FOR INTERPRETATION.

"These things were done in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing."(1) We are aware of the reading which is found in almost all the copies, "These things were done in Bethany." This appears, moreover, to have been the reading at an earlier time; and in Heracleon we read "Bethany." We are convinced, however, that we should not read "Bethany," but "Bethabara." We have visited the places to enquire as to the footsteps of Jesus and His disciples, and of the prophets. Now, Bethany, as the same evangelist tells us,(2) was the town of Lazarus, and of Martha and Mary; it is fifteen stadia from Jerusalem, anti the river Jordan is about a hundred and eighty stadia distant from it. Nor is there any other place of the same name in the neighbourhood of the Jordan, but they say that Bethabara is pointed out on the banks of the Jordan, and that John is said to have baptized there. The etymology of the name, too, corresponds with the baptism of him who made ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him; for it yields the meaning "House of preparation," while Bethany means "House of obedience." Where else was it fitting that he should baptize, who was sent as a messenger before the face of the Christ, to prepare His way before Him, but at the House of preparation? And what more fitting home for Mary, who chose the good part,(1) which was not taken away from her, and for Martha, who was cumbered for the reception of Jesus, and for their brother, who is called the friend of the Saviour, than Bethany, the House of obedience? Thus we see that he who aims at a complete understanding of the Holy Scriptures must not neglect the careful examination of the proper names in it. In the matter of proper names the Greek copies are often incorrect, and in the Gospels one might be misled by their authority. The transaction about the swine, which were driven down a steep place by the demons and drowned in the sea, is said to have taken place in the country of the Gerasenes.(2) Now, Gerasa is a town of Arabia, and has near it neither sea nor lake. And the Evangelists would not have made a statement so obviously and demonstrably false; for they were men who informed themselves carefully of all matters connected with Judaea. But in a few copies we have found, "into the country of the Gadarenes;" and, on this reading, it is to be stated that Gadara is a town of Judaea, in the neighbourhood of which are the well-known hot springs, and that there is no lake there with overhanging banks, nor any sea. But Gergesa, from which the name Gergesenes is taken, is an old town in the neighbourhood of the lake now called Tiberias, and on the edge of it there is a steep place abutting on the lake, from which it is pointed out that the swine were cast down by the demons. Now, the meaning of Gergesa is "dwelling of the casters-out," and it contains a prophetic reference to the conduct towards the Saviour of the citizens of those places, who "besought Him to depart out of their coasts." The same inaccuracy with regard to proper names is also to be observed in many passages of the law and the prophets, as we have been at pains to learn from the Hebrews, comparing our own copies with theirs which have the confirmation of the versions, never subjected to corruption, of Aquila and Theodotion and Symmachus. We add a few instances to encourage students to pay more attention to such points. One of the sons of Levi,(3) the first, is called Geson in most copies, instead of Gerson. His name is the same as that of the first-born of Moses;(4) it was given appropriately in each case, both children being born, because of the sojourn in Egypt, in a strange land. The second son of Juda,(1) again, has with us the name Annan, but with the Hebrews Onan, "their labour." Once more, in the departures of the children of Israel in Numbers,(2) we find, "They departed from Sochoth and pitched in Buthan;" but the Hebrew, instead of Buthan, reads Aiman. And why should I add more points like these, when any one who desires it can examine into the proper names and find out for himself how they stand? The place-names of Scripture are specially to be suspected where many of them occur in a catalogue, as in the account of the partition of the country in Joshua, and in the first Book of Chronicles from the beginning down to, say, the passage about Dan,(3) and similarly in Ezra. Names are not to be neglected, since indications may be gathered from them which help in the interpretation of the passages where they occur. We cannot, however, leave our proper subject to examine in this place into the philosophy of names.

25. JORDAN MEANS "THEIR GOING DOWN." SPIRITUAL MEANINGS AND APPLICATION OF THIS.

Let us look at the words of the Gospel now before us. "Jordan" means "their going down." The name "Jared" is etymologically akin to it, if I may say so; it also yields the meaning "going down;" for Jared was born to Maleleel, as it is written in the Book of Enoch--if any one cares to accept that book as sacred--in the days when the sons of God came down to the daughters of men. Under this descent some have supposed that there is an enigmatical reference to the descent of souls into bodies, taking the phrase "daughters of men" as a tropical expression for this earthly tabernacle. Should this be so, what river will "their going down" be, to which one must come to be purified, a river going down, not with its own descent, but "theirs," that, namely, of men, what but our Saviour who separates those who received their lots from Moses from those who obtained their own portions through Jesus (Joshua)? His current, flowing in the descending stream, makes glad, as we find in the Psalms,(4) the city of God, not the visible Jerusalem--for it has no river beside it--but the blameless Church of God, built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus our Lord being the chief corner-stone. Under the Jordan, accordingly, we have to understand the Word of God who became flesh and tabernacled among us, Jesus who gives us as our inheritance the humanity which He assumed, for that is the head corner-stone, which being taken up into the deity of the Son of God, is washed by being so assumed, and then receives into itself the pure and guileless dove of the Spirit, bound to it and no longer able to fly away from it. For "Upon whomsoever," we read, "thou shall see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit." Hence, he who receives the Spirit abiding on Jesus Himself is able to baptize those who come to him in that abiding Spirit. But John baptizes beyond Jordan, in the regions verging on the outside of Judaea, in Bethabara, being the forerunner of Him who came to call not the righteous but sinners, and who taught that the whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For it is for forgiveness of sins that this washing is given.

26.THE STORY OF ISRAEL CROSSING JORDAN UNDER JOSHUA IS TYPICAL OF CHRISTIAN THINGS, AND IS WRITTEN FOR OUR INSTRUCTION.

Now, it may very well be that some one not versed in the various aspects of the Saviour may stumble at the interpretation given above of the Jordan; because John says, "I baptize with water, but He that cometh after me is stronger than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit." To this we reply that, as the Word of God in His character as something to be drunk is to one set of men water, and to another wine, making glad the heart of man, and to others blood, since it is said,(1) "Except ye drink My blood, ye have no life in you," and as in His character as food He is variously conceived as living bread or as flesh, so also He, the same person, is baptism of water, and baptism of Holy Spirit and of fire, and to some, also, of blood. It is of His last baptism, as some hold, that He speaks in the words,(2) "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?" And it agrees with this that the disciple John speaks in his Epistle(3) of the Spirit, and the water, and the blood, as being one. And again He declares Himself to be the way and the door, but clearly He is not the door to those to whom He is the way, and He is no longer the way to those to whom He is the door. All those, then, who are being initiated in the beginning of the oracles of God, and come to the voice of him who cries in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord," the voice which sounds beyond Jordan at the house of preparation, let them prepare themselves so that they may be in a state to receive the spiritual word, brought home to them by the enlightenment of the Spirit. As we are now, as our subject requires, bringing together all that relates to the Jordan, let us look at the "river." God, by Moses, carried the people through the Red Sea, making the water a wall for them on the right hand and on the left, and by Joshua He carried them through Jordan. Now, Paul deals with this Scripture, and his warfare is not according to the flesh of it, for he knew that the law is spiritual in a spiritual sense. And he shows us that he understood what is said about the passage of the Red Sea; for he says in his first Epistle to the Corinthians,(1) "I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, how that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ." In the spirit of this passage let us also pray that we may receive from God to understand the spiritual meaning of Joshua's passage through Jordan. Of it, also, Paul would have said, "I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that all our fathers went through Jordan, and were all baptized into Jesus in the spirit and in the river." And Joshua, who succeeded Moses, was a type of Jesus Christ, who succeeds the dispensation through the law, and replaces it by the preaching of the Gospel. And even if those Paul speaks of were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, there is something harsh and salt in their baptism. They are still in fear of their enemies, and crying to the Lord and to Moses, saying,(2) "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou brought us forth to slay us in the wilderness? Why hast thou dealt thus with us, to bring us forth out of Egypt?" But the baptism to Joshua, which takes place in quite sweet and drinkable water, is in many ways superior to that earlier one, religion having by this time grown clearer and assuming a becoming order. For the ark of the covenant of the Lord our God is carried in procession by the priests and levites, the people following the ministers of God, it, also, accepting the law of holiness. For Joshua says to the people,(1) "Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow; the Lord will do wonders among you." And he commands the priests to go before the people with the ark of the covenant, wherein is plainly showed forth the mystery of the Father's economy about the Son, which is highly exalted by Him who gave the Son this office; "That at the name of Jesus(2) every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." This is pointed out by what we find in the book called Joshua,(3) "In that day I will begin to exalt thee before the children of Israel." And we hear our Lord Jesus saying to the children of Israel,(4) "Come hither and hear the words of the Lord your God. Hereby ye shall know that the living God is in (among) you;" for when we are baptized to Jesus, we know that the living God is in us. And, in the former case, they kept the passover in Egypt, and then began their journey, but with Joshua, after crossing Jordan on the tenth day of the first month they pitched their camp in Galgala; for a sheep had to be procured before invitations could be issued to the banquet after Joshua's baptism. Then the children of Israel, since the children of those who came out of Egypt had not received circumcision, were circumcised by Joshua with a very sharp stone; the Lord declares that He takes away the reproach of Egypt on the day of Joshua's baptism, when Joshua purified the children of Israel. For it is written:(5) "And the Lord said to Joshua, the son of Nun, This day have I taken away the reproach of Egypt from off you." Then the children of Israel kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month, with much greater gladness than in Egypt, for they ate unleavened bread of the corn of the holy land, and fresh food better than manna. For when they received the land of promise God did not entertain them with scantier food, nor when such a one as Joshua was their leader do they get inferior bread. This will be plain to him who thinks of the true holy land and of the Jerusalem above. Hence it is written in this same Gospel:(1) Your fathers did eat bread in the wilderness, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. For the manna, though it was given by God, yet was bread of travel, bread supplied to those still under discipline, well fitted for those who were under tutors and governors. And the new bread Joshua managed to get from corn they cut in the country, in the land of promise, others having laboured and his disciples reaping,--that was bread more full of life, distributed as it was to those who, for their perfection, were able to receive the inheritance of their fathers. Hence, he who is still under discipline to that bread may receive death as far as it is concerned, but he who has attained to the bread that follows that, eating it, shall live for ever. All this has been added, not, I conceive, without appropriateness, to our study of the baptism at the Jordan, administered by John at Bethabara.

27. OF ELIJAH AND ELISHA CROSSING THE JORDAN.

Another point which we must not fail to notice is that when Elijah was about to be taken up in a whirlwind, as if to heaven,(2) he took his mantle and wrapped it together and smote the water, which was divided hither and thither, and they went over both of them, that is, he and Elisha. His baptism in the Jordan made him fitter to be taken up, for, as we showed before, Paul gives the name of baptism to such a remarkable passage through the water. And through this same Jordan Elisha receives, through Elijah, the gift he desired, saying, "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." What enabled him to receive this gift of the spirit of Elijah was, perhaps, that he had passed through Jordan twice, once with Elijah, and the second time, when, after receiving the mantle of Elijah, he smote the water and said, "Where is the God of Elijah, even He? And he smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither."

28. NAAMAN THE SYRIAN AND THE JORDAN. NO OTHER STREAM HAS THE SAME HEALING POWER.

Should any one object to the expression "He smote the water," on account of the conclusion we arrived at above with respect to the Jordan, that it is a type of the Word who descended for us our descending, we rejoin that with the Apostle the rock is plainly said to be Christ, and that it is smitten twice with the rod, so that the people may drink of the spiritual rock which follows them. The "smiting" in this new difficulty is that of those who are fond of suggesting something that contradicts the conclusion even before they have learned what the question is which is in hand. From such God sets us free, since, on the one hand, He gives us to drink when we are thirsty, and on the other He prepares for us, in the immense and trackless deep, a road to pass over, namely, by the dividing of His Word, since it is by the reason which distinguishes (divides) that most things are made plain to us. But that we may receive the right interpretation about this Jordan, so good to drink, so full of grace, it may be of use to compare the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian from his leprosy, and what is said of the rivers of religion of the enemies of Israel. It is recorded of Naaman(1) that he came with horse and chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go, wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall come again unto thee, and thou shalt be cleansed." Then Naaman is angry; he does not see that our Jordan is the cleanser of those who are impure from leprosy, from that impurity, and their restorer to health; it is the Jordan that does this, and not the prophet; the office of the prophet is to direct to the healing agency. Naaman then says, not understanding the great mystery of the Jordan, "Behold, I said that he will certainly come out to me, and will call upon the name of the Lord his God, and lay his hand upon the place, and restore the leper." For to put his hand on the leprosy(2) and cleanse it is a work belonging to our Lord Jesus only; for when the leper appealed to Him with faith, saying, "If Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean," He not only said, "I will, be thou clean," but in addition to the word He touched him, and he was cleansed from his leprosy. Naaman, then, is still in error, and does not see how far inferior other rivers are to the Jordan for the cure of the suffering; he extols the rivers of Damascus, Arbana, and Pharpha, saying, "Are not Arbana and Pharpha, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Shall I not wash in them and be clean?" For as none is good(3) but one, God the Father, so among rivers none is good but the Jordan, nor able to cleanse from his leprosy him who with faith washes his soul in Jesus. And this, I suppose, is the reason why the Israelites are recorded to have wept when they sat by the rivers of Babylon and remembered Zion; those who are carried captive, on account of their wickedness, when they taste other waters after sacred Jordan, are led to remember with longing their own river of salvation. Therefore it is said of the rivers of Babylon, "There we sat down," clearly because they were unable to stand, "and wept." And Jeremiah rebukes those who wish to drink the waters of Egypt, and desert the water which comes down from heaven, and is named from its so coming down--namely, the Jordan. He says,(1) "What hast thou to do with the way of Egypt, to drink the water of Geon, and to drink the water of the river," or, as it is in the Hebrew, "to drink the water of Sion."Of which water we have now to speak.

29. THE RIVER OF EGYPT AND ITS DRAGON, CONTRASTED WITH THE JORDAN.

But that the Spirit in the inspired Scriptures is not speaking mainly of rivers to be seen with the eyes, may be gathered from Ezekiel's prophecies against Pharaoh, king of Egypt:(2) "Behold I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon, seated in the midst of rivers, who sayest, Mine are the rivers, and I made them. And I will put traps in thy jaws, and I will make the fishes of the river to stick to thy fins, and I will bring thee up from the midst of thy river, and all the fish of the river, and I will cast thee down quickly and all the fish of the river; thou shalt fall upon the face of thy land, and thou shalt not be gathered together, and thou shalt not be adorned." For what real bodily dragon has ever been reported as having been seen in the material river of Egypt? But consider if the river of Egypt be not the dwelling of the dragon who is our enemy, who was not even able to kill the child Moses. But as the dragon is in the river of Egypt, so is God in the river which makes glad the city of God; for the Father is in the Son. Hence those who come to wash themselves in Him put away the reproach of Egypt, and become more fit to be restored. They are cleansed from that foulest leprosy, receive a double portion of spiritual gifts, and are made ready to receive the Holy Spirit, since the spiritual dove does not light on any other stream. Thus we have considered in a way more worthy of the sacred subject the Jordan and the purification that is in it, and Jesus being washed in it, and the house of preparation. Let us, then, draw from the river as much help as we require.

30. OF WHAT JOHN LEARNED FROM JESUS WHEN MARY VISITED ELISABETH IN THE HILL COUNTRY.

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him."(1) The mother of Jesus had formerly, as soon as she conceived, stayed with the mother of John, also at that time with child, and the Former then communicated to the Formed with some exactness His own image, and caused him to be conformed to His glory. And from this outward similarity it came that with those who did not distinguish between the image itself and that which was according to the image, John was thought to be Christ(2) and Jesus was supposed(3) to be John risen from the dead. So now Jesus, after the testimonies of John to Him which we have examined, is Himself seen by the Baptist coming to him. It is to be noticed that on the former occasion, when the voice of Mary's salutation came to the ears of Elisabeth, the babe John leaped in the womb of his mother, who then received the Holy Spirit, as it were, from the ground. For it came to pass, we read,(4) "when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry and said," etc. On this occasion, similarly, John sees Jesus coming to him and says, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." For with regard to matters of great moment one is first instructed by hearing and afterwards one sees them with one s own eyes. That John was helped to the shape he was to wear by the Lord who, still in the process of formation and in His mother's womb, approached Elisabeth, will be clear to any one who has grasped our proof that John is a voice but that Jesus is the Word, for when Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit at the salutation of Mary there was a great voice in her, as the words themselves bear; for they say, "And she spake out with a loud voice." Elisabeth, it is plain, did this, "and she spake." For the voice of Mary's salutation coming to the ears of Elisabeth filled John with itself; hence John leaps, and his mother becomes, as it were, the mouth of her son and a prophetess, crying out with a loud voice and saying, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." Now we see clearly how it was with Mary's hasty journey to the hill country, and her entrance into the house of Zacharias, and the greeting with which she salutes Elisabeth; it was that she might communicate some of the power she derived from Him she had conceived, to John, yet in his mother's womb, and that John too might communicate to his mother some of the prophetic grace which had come to him, that all these things were done. And most rightly was it in the hill country that these transactions took place, since no great thing can be entertained by those who are low and may be thence called valleys. Here, then, after the testimonies of John,--the first, when he cried and spoke about His deity; the second, addressed to the priests and levites who were sent by the Jews from Jerusalem; and the third, in answer to the sharper questions of those from the Pharisees,--Jesus is seen by the witness-bearer coming to him while he is still advancing and growing better. This advance and improvement is symbolically indicated in the phrase, "On the morrow." For Jesus came in the consequent illumination, as it were, and on the day after what had preceded, not only known as standing in the midst even of those who knew Him not, but now plainly seen advancing to him who had formerly made such declarations about Him. On the first day the testimonies take place, and on the second Jesus comes to John. On the third John, standing with two of his disciples and looking upon Jesus as He walked, said, "Behold the Lamb of God," thus urging those who were there to follow the Son of God. On the fourth day, too, He was minded to go forth into Galilee, and He who came forth to seek that which Was lost finds Philip and says to him, "Follow Me." And on that day, after the fourth, which is the sixth from the beginning of those we have enumerated, the marriage takes place in Cana of Galilee, which we shall have to consider when we get to the passage. Note this, too, that Mary being the greater comes to Elisabeth, who is the less, and the Son of God comes to the Baptist; which should encourage us to render help without delay to those who are in a lower position, and to cultivate for ourselves a moderate station.

31. OF THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN JOHN AND JESUS AT THE BAPTISM, RECORDED BY MATTHEW ONLY.

John the disciple does not tell us where the Saviour comes from to John the Baptist, but we learn this from Matthew, who writes:(1) "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him." And Mark adds the place in Galilee; he says,(2) "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in Jordan." Luke does not mention the place Jesus came from, but on the other hand he tells us what we do not learn from the others, that immediately after the baptism, as He was coming up, heaven was opened to Him, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. Again, it is Matthew alone who tells us of John's preventing the Lord, saying to the Saviour, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" None of the others added this after Matthew, so that they might not be saying just the same as he. And what the Lord rejoined, "Suffer it now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness," this also Matthew alone recorded.

32. JOHN CALLS JESUS A "LAMB." WHY DOES HE NAME THIS ANIMAL SPECIALLY? OF THE TYPOLOGY OF THE SACRIFICES, GENERALLY.

"And he sayeth, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."(3) There were five animals which were brought to the altar, three that walk and two that fly; and it seems to be worth asking why John calls the Saviour a lamb and not any of these other creatures, and why, when each of the animals that walk is offered of three kinds he used for the sheep-kind the term "lamb." The five animals are as follows: the bullock, the sheep, the goat, the turtle-dove, the pigeon. And of the walking animals these are the three kinds--bullock, ox, calf; ram, sheep, lamb; he-goat, goat, kid. Of the flying animals, of pigeons we only hear of two young ones; of turtle doves only of a pair. He, then, who would accurately understand the spiritual rationale of the sacrifices must enquire of what heavenly things these were the pattern and the shadow, and also for what end the sacrifice of each victim is prescribed, and he must specially collect the points connected with the lamb. Now that the principle of the sacrifice must be apprehended with reference to certain heavenly mysteries, appears from the words of the Apostle, who somewhere(1) says, "Who serve a pattern and shadow of heavenly things," and again, "It was necessary that the patterns of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." Now to find out all the particulars of these and to state in its relation to them that sacrifice of the spiritual law which took place in Jesus Christ(a truth greater than human nature can comprehend)--to do this belongs to no other than the perfect man,(2) who, by reason of use, has his senses exercised to discern good and evil, and who is able to say, from a truth-loving disposition,(3) "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect." Of these things truly and things like these, we can say,(4) "Which none of the rulers of this world knew."

33. A LAMB WAS OFFERED AT THE MORNING AND EVENING SACRIFICE. SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS.

Now we find the lamb offered in the continual (daily) sacrifice. Thus it is written,(4) "This is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually, for a continual sacrifice. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning, and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and a tenth part of fine flour mingled with beaten oil, the fourth part of a hin; and for a drink-offering the fourth part of a bin of wine to the first lamb. And the other lamb thou shalt offer in the evening, according to the first sacrifice and according to its drink-offering. Thou shalt offer a sweet savour, an offering to the Lord, a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of tent of witness before the Lord, where I will make myself known to thee, to speak unto thee. And I will appoint thee for the children of Israel, and I will be sanctified in my glory, and with sanctification I will sanctify the tent of witness." But what other continual sacrifice can there be to the man of reason in the world of mind, but the Word growing to maturity, the Word who is symbolically called a lamb and who is offered as soon as the soul receives illumination. This would be the continual sacrifice of the morning, and it is offered again when the sojourn of the mind with divine things comes to an end. For it cannot maintain for ever its intercourse with higher things, seeing that the soul is appointed to be yoked together with the body which is of earth and heavy.

34. THE MORNING AND EVENING SACRIFICES OF THE SAINT IN HIS LIFE OF THOUGHT.

But if any one asks what the saint is to do in the time between morning and evening, let him follow what takes place in the cultus and infer from it the principle he asks for. In that case the priests begin their offerings with the continual sacrifice, and before they come to the continuous one of the evening they offer the other sacrifices which the law prescribes, as, for example, that for transgression, or that for involuntary offences, or that connected with a prayer for salvation, or that of jealousy, or that of the Sabbath, or of the new moon, and so on, which it would take too long to mention. So we, beginning our oblation with the discourse of that type which is Christ, can go on to discourse about many other most useful things. And drawing to a close still in the things of Christ, we come. as it were, to evening and night, when we arrive at the bodily features of His manifestation.

35. JESUS IS A LAMB IN RESPECT OF HIS HUMAN NATURE.

If we enquire further into the sinificance of Jesus being pointed out by John, when he says, "This is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," we may take our stand at the dispensation of the bodily advent of the Son of God in human life, and in that case we shall conceive the lamb to be no other than the man. For the man "was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb, dumb before his shearers,"(1) saying, "I was as like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter."(2) Hence, too, in the Apocalypse(3) a lamb is seen, standing as if slain. This slain lamb has been made, according to certain hidden reasons, a purification of the whole world, for which, according to the Father's love to man, He submitted to death, purchasing us back by His own blood from him who had got us into his power, sold under sin. And He who led this lamb to the slaughter was God in man, the great High-Priest, as he shows by the words:(4) "No one taketh My life away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."

36. OF THE DEATH OF THE MARTYRS CONSIDERED AS A SACRIFICE, AND IN WHAT WAY IT OPERATES TO THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS.

Akin to this sacrifice are the others of which the sacrifices of the law are symbols, and another kind of sacrifice also appears to me to be of the same nature; namely, the shedding of the blood of the noble martyrs, whom the disciple John saw, for this is not without significance, standing beside the heavenly altar. "Who is wise,(1) and he shall understand these things, prudent, and he shall know them?" It is a matter of higher speculation to consider even slightly the rationale of those sacrifices which cleanse those for whom they are offered. Jephthah's sacrifice of his daughter should receive attention; it was by vowing it that he conquered the children of Ammon, and the victim approved his vow, for when her father said,(2) "I have opened my mouth unto the Lord against thee," she answered, "If thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord against me, do that which thou hast vowed." The story suggests that the being must be a very cruel one to whom such sacrifices are offered for the salvation of men; and we require some breadth of mind and some ability to solve the difficulties raised against Providence, to be able to account for such things and to see that they are mysteries and exceed our human nature. Then we shall say,(3) "Great are the judgments of God, and hard to be described; for this cause untutored souls have gone astray." Among the Gentiles, too, it is recorded that many a one, when pestilential disease broke out in his country, offered himself a victim for the public good. That this was the case the faithful Clement assumes,(4) on the faith of the narratives, to whom Paul bears witness when he says,(5) "With Clement also, and the others, my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life." If there is anything in these narratives that appears incongruous to one who is minded to carp at mysteries revealed to few, the same difficulty attaches to the office that was laid on the martyrs, for it was God's will that we should rather endure all the dreadful reproaches connected with confessing Him as God, than escape for a short time from such sufferings (which men count evil) by allowing ourselves by our words to conform to the will of the enemies of the truth. We are, therefore, led to believe that the powers of evil do suffer defeat by the death of the holy martyrs; as if their patience, their confession, even unto death, and their zeal for piety blunted the edge of the onset of evil powers against the sufferer, and their might being thus dulled and exhausted, many others of those whom they had conquered raised their heads and were set free from the weight with which the evil powers formerly oppressed and injured them. And even the martyrs themselves are no longer involved in suffering, even though those agents which formerly wrought ill to others are not exhausted; for he who has offered such a sacrifice overcomes the power which opposed him, as I may show by an illustration which is suited to this subject. He who destroys a poisonous animal, or lulls it to sleep with charms, or by any means deprives it of its venom, he does good to many who would otherwise have suffered from that animal had it not been destroyed, or charmed, or emptied of its venom. Moreover, if one of those who were formerly bitten should come to know of this, and should be cured of his malady and look upon the death of that which injured him, or tread on it, or touch it when dead, or taste a part of it, then he, who was formerly a sufferer, would owe cure and benefit to the destroyer of the poisonous animal. In some such way must we suppose the death of the most holy martyrs to operate, many receiving benefit from it by an influence we cannot describe.

37.OF THE EFFECTS OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST, OF HIS TRIUMPH AFTER IT, AND OF THE REMOVAL BY HIS DEATH OF THE SINS OF MEN.

We have lingered over this subject of the martyrs and over the record of those who died on account of pestilence, because this lets us see the excellence of Him who was led as a sheep to the slaughter and was dumb as a lamb before the shearer. For if there is any point in these stories of the Greeks, and if what we have said of the martyrs is well rounded,--the Apostles, too, were for the same reason the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things,(1)--what and how great things must be said of the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed for this very reason, that He might take away the sin not of a few but of the whole world, for the sake of which also He suffered? If any one sin, we read,(2) "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for those of the whole world," since He is the Saviour of all men,(1) especially of them that believe, who(2) blotted out the written bond that was against us by His own blood, and took it out of the way, so that not even a trace, not even of our blotted-out sins, might still be found, and nailed it to His cross; who having put off from Himself the principalities and powers, made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by His cross. And we are taught to rejoice when we suffer afflictions in the world, knowing the ground of our rejoicing to be this, that the world has been conquered and has manifestly been subjected to its conqueror. Hence all the nations, released from their former rulers, serve Him, because He(3) saved the poor from his tyrant by His own passion, and the needy who had no helper. This Saviour, then, having humbled the calumniator by humbling Himself, abides with the visible sun before His illustrious church, tropically called the moon, from generation to generation. And having by His passion destroyed His enemies, He who is strong in battle and a mighty Lord(4) required after His mighty deeds a purification which could only be given Him by His Father alone; and this is why He forbids Mary to touch Him, saying,(5) "Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father; bat go and tell My disciples, I go to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." And when He comes, loaded with victory and with trophies, with His body which has risen from the dead,--for what other meaning can we see in the words, "I am not yet ascended to My Father," and "I go unto My Father,"--then there are certain powers which say, Who is this that cometh from Edom, red garments from Bosor; this that is beautiful?(6) Then those who escort Him say to those that are upon the heavenly gates,(7) "Lift up your gates, ye rulers, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in." But they ask again, seeing as it were His right hand red with blood and His whole person covered with the marks of His valour, "Why are Thy garments red, and Thy clothes like the treading of the full winefat when it is trodden?" And to this He answers, "I have crushed them." For this cause He had need to wash "His robe in wine, and His garment in the blood of the grape."(8) For when He had taken up our infirmities and carried our diseases, and had borne the sin of the whole world, and had conferred blessings on so many, then, perhaps, He received that baptism which is greater than any that could ever be conceived among men, and of which I think He speaks when He says,(1) "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?" I enquire here with boldness and I challenge the ideas put forward by most writers. They say that the greatest baptism, beyond which no greater can be conceived, is His passion. But if this be so, why should He say to Mary after it, "Touch Me not"? He should rather have offered Himself to her touch, when by His passion He had received His perfect baptism. But if it was the case, as we said before, that after all His deeds of valour done against His enemies, He had need to wash "His robe in wine, His gar-merit in the blood of the grape," then He was on His way up to the husbandman of the true vine, the Father, so that having washed there and after having gone up on high, He might lead captivity captive and come down bearing manifold gifts--the tongues, as of fire, which were divided to the Apostles, and the holy angels which are to be present with them in each action and to deliver them. For before these economies they were not yet cleansed and angels could not dwell with them, for they too perhaps do not desire to be with those who have not prepared themselves nor been cleansed by Jesus. For it was of Jesus' benignity alone that He ate and drank with publicans and sinners, and suffered the penitent woman who was a sinner to wash His feet with her tears, and went down even to death for the ungodly, counting it not robbery to be equal with God, and emptied Himself, assuming the form of a servant. And in accomplishing all this He fulfils rather the will of the Father who gave Him up for sinners than His own. For the Father is good, but the Saviour is the image of His goodness; and doing good to the world in all things, since God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, which formerly for its wickedness was all enemy to Him, He accomplishes His good deeds in order and succession, and does not all at once take all His enemies for His footstool. For the Father says to Him, to the Lord of us all,(2) "Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy enemies the footstool of Thy feet." And this goes on till the last enemy, Death, is overcome by Him.

And if we consider what is meant by this subjection to Christ and find an explanation of this mainly from the saying,(1) "When all things shall have been put under Him, then shall the Son Himself be subjected to Him who put all things under Him," then we shall see how the conception agrees with the goodness of the God of all, since it is that of the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world. Not all men's sin, however, is taken away by the Lamb of God, not the sin of those who do not grieve and suffer affliction till it be taken away. For thorns are not only fixed but deeply rooted in the hand of every one who is intoxicated by wickedness and has parted with sobriety, as it is said in the Proverbs,(2) "Thorns grow in the hand of the drunkard," and what pain they must cause him who has admitted such growth in the substance of his soul, it is hard even to tell. Who has allowed wickedness to establish itself so deeply in his soul as to be a ground full of thorns, he must be cut down by the quick and powerful word of God, which is sharper than a two-edged sword, and which is more caustic than any fire. To such a soul that fire must be sent which finds out thorns, and by its divine virtue stands where they are and does not also burn up the threshing-floors or standing corn. But of the Lamb which takes away the sin of the world and begins to do so by His own death there are several ways, some of which are capable of being clearly understood by most, but others are concealed from most, and are known to those only who are worthy of divine wisdom. Why should we count up all the ways by which we come to believe among men? That is a thing which every one living in the body is able to see for himself. And in the ways in which we believe in these also,sin is taken away; by afflictions and evil spirits and dangerous diseases and grievous sicknesses. And who knows what follows after this? So much as we have said was not unnecessary--we could not neglect the thought which is so clearly connected with that of the words, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world," and had therefore to attend somewhat closely to this part of our subject. This has brought us to see that God convicts some by His wrath and chastens them by His anger, since His love to men is so great that He will not leave any without conviction and chastening; so that we should do what in us lies to be spared such conviction and such chastening by the sorest trials.

38.THE WORLD, OF WHICH THE SIN IS TAKEN AWAY, IS SAID TO BE THE CHURCH. REASONS FOR NOT AGREEING WITH THIS OPINION.

The reader will do well to consider what was said above and illustrated from various quarters on the question what is meant in Scripture by the word "world"; and I think it proper to repeat this. I am aware that a certain scholar understands by the world the Church alone, since the Church is the adornment of the world,(1) and is said to be the light of the world. "You," he says,(2) "are the light of the world." Now, the adornment of the world is the Church, Christ being her adornment, who is the first light of the world. We must consider if Christ is said to be the light of the same world as His disciples. When Christ is the light of the world, perhaps it is meant that He is the light of the Church, but when His disciples are the light of the world, perhaps they are the light of others who call on the Lord, others in addition to the Church, as Paul says on this point in the beginning of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, where he writes, "To the Church of God, with all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Should any one consider that the Church is called the light of the world, meaning thereby of the rest of the race of men, including unbelievers, this may be true if the assertion is taken prophetically and theologically; but if it is to be taken of the present, we remind him that the light of a thing illuminates that thing, and would ask him to show how the remainder of the race is illuminated by the Church's presence in the world. If those who hold the view in question cannot show this, then let them consider if our interpretation is not a sound one, that the light is the Church, and the world those others who call on the Name. The words which follow the above in Matthew will point out to the careful enquirer the proper interpretation. "You," it is said, "are the salt of the earth," the rest of mankind being conceived as the earth, and believers are their salt; it is because they believe that the earth is preserved. For the end will come if the salt loses its savour, and ceases to salt and preserve the earth, since it is clear that if iniquity is multiplied and love waxes cold upon the earth,(1) as the Saviour Himself uttered an expression of doubt as to those who would witness His coming, saying,(2) "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith upon the earth?" then the end of the age will come. Supposing, then, the Church to be called the world, since the Saviour's light shines on it--we have to ask in connection with the text, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," whether the world here is to be taken intellectually of the Church, and the taking away of sin is limited to the Church. In that case what are we to make of the saying of the same disciple with regard to the Saviour, as the propitiation for sin? "If any man sin," we read, "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world?" Paul's dictum appears to me to be to the same effect, when he says,(3) "Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful." Again, Heracleon, dealing with our passage, declares, without any proof or any citation of witnesses to that effect, that the words, "Lamb of God," are spoken by John as a prophet, but the words, "who taketh away the sin of the world," by John as more than a prophet. The former expression he considers to be used of His body, but the latter of Him who was in that body, because the lamb is an imperfect member of the genus sheep; the same being true of the body as compared with the dweller in it. Had he meant to attribute perfection to the body he would have spoken of a ram as about to be sacrificed. After the careful discussions given above, I do not think it necessary to enter into repetitions on this passage, or to controvert Heracleon's careless utterances. One point only may be noted, that as the world was scarcely able to contain Him who had emptied Himself, it required a lamb and not a ram, that its sin might be taken away.

Back to Volume 9 Index