JOHN i. 18.

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

[1.] GOD will not have us listen to the words and sentences contained in the Scriptures carelessly, but with much attention. This is why the blessed David hath prefixed in many places to his Psalms the title "for understanding,"(2) and hath said, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law." (Ps. xxxii. 42, &c.; cxix. 18.) And after him his son again shows that we ought to "seek out wisdom as silver,(3) and to make merchandise of her rather than of gold." (Prov. ii. 4 and iii. 14 [partially quoted]; John v. 39.) And the Lord when He exhorts the Jews to "search the Scriptures," the more urges us to the enquiry, for He would not thus have spoken if it were possible to comprehend them immediately at the first reading. No one would ever search for what is obvious and at hand, but for that which is wrapt in shadow, and which must be found after much enquiry; and so to arouse us to the search He calls them "hidden treasure." (Prov. ii. 4; Matt. xiii. 44.) These words are said to us that we may not apply ourselves to the words of the Scriptures carelessly or in a chance way, but with great exactness. For if any one listen to what is said in them without enquiring into the meaning, and receive all so as it is spoken, according to the letter, he will suppose many unseemly things of God, will admit of Him that He is a man, that He is made of brass, is wrathful, is furious, and many opinions yet worse than these. But if he fully learn the sense that lies beneath, he will be freed from all this unseemliness. (Rev. i. 15.) The very text which now lies before us says, that God has a bosom, a thing proper to bodily substances, yet no one is so insane as to imagine, that He who is without body is a body. In order then that we may properly interpret the entire passage according to its spiritual meaning, let us search it through from its beginning.

"No man hath seen God at any time." By what connection of thought does the Apostle come to say this? After showing the exceeding greatness of the gifts of Christ, and the infinite difference between them and those ministered by Moses, he would add the reasonable cause of the difference. Moses, as being a servant, was minister of lower things, but Christ being Lord and King, and the King's Son, brought to us things far greater, being ever with the Father, and beholding Him continually; wherefore He saith, "No man hath seen God at any time." What then shall we answer to the most mighty of voice, Esaias, when he says, "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up" (Isa. vi. 1); and to John himself testifying of Him, that "he said these things when he had seen His glory"? (c. xii. 41.) What also to Ezekiel? for he too beheld Him sitting above the Cherubim. (Ezek. i. and x.) What to Daniel? for he too saith, "The Ancient of days did sit" (Dan. vii. 9.) What to Moses himself, saying, "Show me Thy Glory, that I may see Thee so as to know Thee." (Ex. xxxiii. 13, partly from LXX.) And Jacob took his name from this very thing, being called(4) "Israel"; for Israel is "one that sees God."(5) And others have seen him. How then saith John, "No man hath seen God at any time"? It is to declare, that all these were instances of (His) condescension, not the vision of the Essence itself unveiled. For had they seen the very Nature, they would not have beheld It under different forms, since that is simple, without form, or parts, or bounding lines. It sits not, nor stands, nor walks: these things belong all to bodies. But how He Is, He only knoweth. And this He hath declared by a certain prophet, saying, "I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes(1) by the hands of the prophets" (Hos. xii. 10), that is, "I have condescended, I have not appeared as I really was." For since His Son was about to appear in very flesh, He prepared them from old time to behold the substance of God, as far as it was possible for them to see It; but what God really is, not only have not the prophets seen, but not even angels nor archangels. If you ask them, you shall not hear them answering anything concerning His Essence, but sending up,(2) "Glory to God in the Highest, on earth peace, good will towards men." (Luke ii. 14.) If you desire to learn something from Cherubim or Seraphim, you shall hear the mystic song of His Holiness, and that "heaven and earth are full of His glory." (Isa. vi. 3.) If you enquire of the higher powers, you shall but find(3) that their one work is the praise of God. "Praise ye Him," saith David, "all His hosts." (Ps. cxlviii. 2.) But the Son only Beholds Him, and the Holy Ghost. How can any created nature even see the Uncreated? If we are absolutely unable clearly to discern any incorporeal power whatsoever, even though created, as has been often proved in the case of angels, much less can we discern the Essence which is incorporeal and uncreated. Wherefore Paul saith, "Whom no man hath seen, nor can see." (1 Tim. vi. 16.) Does then this special attribute(4) belong to the Father only, not to the Son? Away with the thought. It belongs also to the Son; and to show that it does so, hear Paul declaring this point, and saying, that He "is the Image of the invisible God." (Col. i. 15.) Now if He be the Image of the Invisible, He must be invisible Himself, for otherwise He would not be an "image." And wonder not that Paul saith in another place, "God was manifested in the Flesh" (1 Tim. iii. 16); because the manifestation(5) took place by means of the flesh, not according to (His) Essence. Besides, Paul shows that He is invisible, not only to men, but also to the powers above, for after saying, "was manifested in the Flesh," he adds, "was seen of angels."

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

"How then," asks some one, "did Christ say, 'Despise not one of these little ones, for I tell you, that their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven'? (Matt. xviii. 10.) Hath then God a face, and is He bounded by the heavens?" Who so mad as to assert this? What then is the meaning of the words? As when He saith, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. v. 8), He means that intellectual vision which is possible to us, and the having God in the thoughts; so in the case of angels, we must understand(6) that by reason of their pure and sleepless(7) nature they do nothing else, but always image to themselves God. And therefore Christ saith, that "No man knoweth the Father, save the Son." (Matt. x. 27.) What then, are we all in ignorance? God forbid; but none knoweth Him as the Son knoweth Him. As then many(8) have seen Him in the mode of vision permitted to them, but no one has beheld His Essence, so many of us know God, but what His substance can be none knoweth, save only He that was begotten of Him. For by "knowledge" He here means an exact idea and comprehension, such as the Father hath of the Son. "As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father." (c. x. 15.)

Observe, therefore, with what fullness(9) the Evangelist speaks; for having said that "no man hath seen God at any time," he does not go on to say, "that the Son who hath seen, hath declared Him," but adds something beyond "seeing" by the words, "Who is in the bosom of the Father"; because, "to dwell(10) in the bosom" is far more than "to see." For he that merely "seeth" hath not an in every way exact knowledge of the object, but he that "dwelleth in the bosom" can be ignorant of nothing. Now lest when thou hearest that "none knoweth the Father, save the Son," thou shouldest assert that although He knoweth the Father more than all, yet He knoweth not how great He is, the Evangelist says that He dwells in the bosom of the Father; and Christ Himself declares, that He knoweth Him as much as the Father knoweth the Son. Ask therefore the gainsayer, "Tell me, doth the Father know the Son?" And if he be not mad, he will certainly answer "Yes." Then ask again; "Doth He see and know Him with exact vision and knowledge? Doth He know clearly what He Is?" He will certainly confess this also. From this next collect the exact comprehension the Son has of the Father. For He saith, "As the Father knoweth me, even sO know I the Father" (c. x. 15); and in another place, "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God." (c. vi. 46.) Wherefore, as I said, the Evangelist mentions "the bosom," to show all this to us by that one word; that great is the affinity and nearness of the Essence, that the knowledge is nowise different, that the power is equal. For the Father would not have in His bosom one of another essence, nor would He have dared, had He been one amongst many servants, to live(1) in the bosom of his Lord, for this belongs only to a true Son, to one who has(2) much confidence towards His Father, and who is in nothing inferior to Him.

Wouldest thou learn also His eternity? Hear what Moses saith concerning the Father. When he asked what he was commanded to answer should the Jews enquire of him, "Who it was that had sent him," he heard these words: "Say, I AM hath sent me." (Ex. iii. 14.) Now the expression "I AM,"(3) is significative of Being ever, and Being without beginning, of Being really and absolutely. And this also the expression, "Was in the beginning," declares, being indicative of Being ever; so that John uses this word to show that the Son Is from everlasting to everlasting(4) in the bosom of the Father. For that you may not from the sameness of name, suppose that He is some one of those who are made sons by grace, first, the article is added, distinguishing Him from those by grace. But if this does not content you, if you still look earthwards, hear a name more absolute than this, "Only-Begotten." If even after this you still look below, "I will not refuse," says he, (St. John,) "to apply to God a term belonging to man, I mean the word 'bosom,' only suspect nothing degrading." Dost thou see the lovingkindness and carefulness of the Lord? God applies(5) to Himself unworthy expressions, that even so thou mayest see through them, and have some great and lofty thought of Him; and dost thou tarry below? For tell me, wherefore is that gross and carnal word "bosom" employed in this place? Is it that we may suppose God to be a body? Away, he by no means saith so. Why then is it spoken? for if by it neither the genuineness of the Son is established, nor that God is not a body, the word, because it serves no purpose, is superfluously thrown in. Why then is it spoken? For I shall not desist from asking thee this question. Is it not very plain, that it is for no other reason but that by it we might understand the genuineness of the Only-Begotten, and His Co-eternity with the Father?

[3.] "He hath declared Him," saith John. What hath he declared? That "no man hath.seen God at any time"? That "God is one"? But this all the other prophets testify, and Moses continually(6) exclaims, "The Lord thy God is one Lord" (Dent. vi. 4); and Esaias, "Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." (Isa. xliii. 10.) What more then have we learned from "the Son which is in the bosom of the Father"? What from "the Only-Begotten"? In the first place, these very words were uttered by His working; in the next place, we have received a teaching that is far clearer, and learned that "God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (c. iv. 24); and again, that it is impossible to see God; "that no man knoweth" Him, "save the Son" (Matt. xi. 27); that He is the Father of the true and Only-Begotten; and all other things that are told us of Him. But the word "hath declared"(7) shows the plainer and clearer teaching which He gave not to the Jews only but to all the world, and established. To the prophets not even all the Jews gave heed, but to the Only-Begotten Son of God all the world yielded and obeyed. So the "declaration" in this place shows the greater clearness of His teaching, and therefore also He is called "Word," and "Angel(8) of great Counsel."(9)

Since then we have been vouchsafed a larger and more perfect teaching, God having no longer spoken by the prophets, but "having in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Heb. i. 1), let us show forth a conversation far higher than theirs, and suitable to the honor bestowed on us. Strange would it be that He should have so far lowered Himself, as to choose to speak to us no longer by His servants, but by His own mouth, and yet we should show forth nothing more than those of old. They had Moses for their teacher, we, Moses' Lord. Let us then exhibit a heavenly wisdom(10) worthy of this honor, and let us have nothing to do with earth. It was for this that He brought His teaching from heaven above, that He might remove our thoughts thither, that we might be imitators of our Teacher according to our power. But how may we become imitators of Christ? By acting in everything for the common good, and not merely seeking our own. "For even Christ," saith Paul, "pleased not Himself, but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me." (Rom. xv. 3; Ps. lxix. 9.) Let no one therefore seek his own. In truth, a man (really) seeks his own good when he looks to that of his neighbor. What is their good is ours; we are one body, and parts and limbs one of another. Let us not then be as though we were rent asunder. Let no one say, "such a person is no friend of mine, nor relation, nor neighbor, I have nought to do with him, how shall I approach, how address him?" Though he be neither relation nor friend, yet he is a man, who shares the same nature with thee, owns the same Lord, is thy fellow-servant, and fellow-sojourner,(1) for he is born in the same world. And if besides he partakes of the same faith, behold he hath also become a member of thee: for what friendship could work such union, as the relationship of faith? And our intimacy one with another must not be such nearness only as friends ought to show to friends, but such as is between limb and limb, because no man can possibly discover any intimacy greater than this sort of friendship and fellowship.(2) As then you cannot say, "Whence arises my intimacy and connection with this limb?" (that would be ridiculous;) so neither can you say so in the case of your brother. "We are all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. xii. 13), saith Paul. "Wherefore into one body?" That we be not rent asunder, but preserve the just proportions of that one body by our intercourse and friendship one with another.

Let us not then despise one another, lest we be neglectful of ourselves.(3) "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it." (Eph. v. 29.) And therefore God hath given to us but one habitation, this earth, hath distributed all things equally, hath lighted one sun for us all, hath spread above us one roof, the sky, made one table, the earth, bear(4) food for us. And another table hath He given far better than this, yet that too is one, (those who share our mysteries understand my words,) one manner of birth He hath bestowed on all, the spiritual, we all have one country, that in the heavens, of the same cup drink we all. He hath not bestowed on the rich man a gift more abundant and more honorable, and on the poor one more mean and small, but He hath called all alike. He hath given carnal things with equal regard to all,(5) and spiritual in like manner. Whence then proceeds the great inequality of conditions in life? From the avarice and pride of the wealthy. But let not, brethren, let not this any longer be; and when matters of universal interest and more pressing necessity bring us together, let us not be divided by things earthly and insignificant: I mean, by wealth and poverty, by bodily relationship, by enmity and friendship; for all these things are a shadow, nay less substantial than a shadow, to those who possess the bond of charity from above. Let us then preserve this unbroken, and none of those evil spirits(6) will be able to enter in, who cause division in so perfect union;(7) to which may we all attain by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


JOHN i. 19.

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

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

It is worth while to learn why he did thus. It was, that their wickedness might be manifest and plain to all men. Often did John testify of Christ to the Jews, and when he baptized them he continually made mention of Him to his company, and said, "I indeed baptize you with water, but there cometh One after me who is mightier than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." (Matt. iii. 11.) With regard to him they were affected by a human feeling; for, tremblingly attentive(1) to the opinion of the world, and looking to "the outward appearance" (2 Cor. x. 7), they deemed it an unworthy thing that he should be subject to Christ. Since there were many things that pointed out John for an illustrious person. In the first place, his distinguished and noble descent; for he was the son of a chief priest. Then his conversation, his austere mode of life, his contempt of all human things; for despising dress and table, and house and food itself, he had passed his former time in the desert. In the case of Christ all was the contrary of this. His family was mean, (as they often objected to Him, saying, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James and Joses?") (Matt. xiii. 55); and that which was supposed to be His country was held in such evil repute, that even Nathanael said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (c. i. 46.) His mode of living was ordinary, and His garments not better than those of the many. For He was not girt with a leathern girdle, nor was His raiment of hair, nor did He eat honey and locusts. But He fared like all others, and was present at the feasts of wicked men and publicans, that He might draw them to Him. Which thing the Jews not understanding reproached Him with, as He also saith Himself, "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." (Matt. xi. 19.) When then John continually sent them from himself to Jesus, who seemed to them a meaner person, being ashamed and vexed at this, and wishing rather to have him for their teacher, they did not dare to say so plainly, but send to him, thinking by their flattery to induce him to confess that he was the Christ. They do not therefore send to him mean men, as in the case of Christ, for when they wished to lay hold on Him, they sent servants, and then Herodians, and the like, but in this instance, "priests and Levites," and not merely "priests," but those "from Jerusalem," that is, the more honorable; for the Evangelist did not notice this without a cause. And they send to ask, "Who art thou?" Yet the manner of his birth was well known to all, so that all said, "What manner of child shall this be?" (Luke i. 66); and the report had gone forth into all the hill country. And afterwards when he came to Jordan, all the cities were set on the wing, and came to him from Jerusalem, and from all Judaea, to be baptized. Why then do they(2) now ask? Not because they did not know him, (how could that be, when he had been made manifest in so many ways?) but because they wished to bring him to do that which I have mentioned.

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

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

Observe the wisdom of the Evangelist. He mentions this for the third time, to set forth the excellency of the Baptist, and their wickedness and folly. And Luke also says, that when the multitudes supposed him to be the Christ, he again removes their suspicion.(3) This is the part of an honest servant, not only not to take to himself his master's honor, but also to reject it(4) when given to him by the many. But the multitudes arrived at this supposition from simplicity and ignorance; these questioned him from an ill intention, which I have mentioned, expecting, as I said, to draw him over to their purpose by their flattery. Had they not expected this, they would not have proceeded immediately to another question, but would have been angry with him for having given them an answer foreign to their enquiry, and would have said, "Why, did we suppose that? did we come to ask thee that?" But now as taken and detected in the fact, they proceed to another question, and say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seest thou not without reason I said that they wished to bring him to this? and the reason why they did not at first say so was, lest they should be detected by all men. And then when he said, "I am not the Christ," they, being desirous to conceal what they were plotting(1) within, go on to "Elias," and "that Prophet." But when he said that he was not one of these either, after that, in their perplexity, they cast aside the mask, and without any disguise show clearly their treacherous intention, saying, "Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ?" And then again, wishing to throw some obscurity over the thing,(2) they add the others also, "Elias," and "that Prophet." For when they were not able to trip a him by their flattery, they thought that by an accusation they could compel him(4) to say the thing that was not.

What folly, what insolence, what ill-timed officiousness! Ye were sent to learn who and whence he might be, not to(5) lay down laws for him also. This too was the conduct of men who would compel him to confess himself to be the Christ. Still not even now is he angry, nor does he, as might have been expected, say to them anything of this sort, "Do you give orders and make laws for me?" but again shows great gentleness towards them.

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

[3.] What could the Jews have left to say to this? for even from this the accusation against them cannot be evaded, the decision against them admits not of pardon, they have given sentence against themselves. How? In what way? They deemed John worthy of credit, and so truthful, that they might believe him not only when he testified of others, but also when he spoke concerning himself. For had they not been so disposed, they would not have sent to learn from him what related to himself. Because you know that the only persons whom we believe, especially when speaking of themselves, are those whom we suppose to be more veracious than any others. And it is not this alone which closes their mouths, but also the disposition with which they had approached him; for they came forth to him at first with great eagerness, even though afterwards they altered. Both which things Christ declared, when He said, "He was a burning (and a shining) light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." Moreover, his answer made him yet more worthy of credit. For (Christ) saith, "He that seeketh not his own glory,(6) the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." Now this man sought it not, but refers the Jews to another. And those who were sent were of the most trustworthy among them, and of the highest rank, so that they could have in no way any refuge or excuse, for the unbelief which they exhibited towards Christ. Wherefore did ye not receive the things spoken concerning Him by John? you sent men who held the first rank among you, you enquired by them, you heard what the Baptist answered, they manifested all possible officiousness, sought into every point, named all the persons you suspected him to be; and yet most publicly and plainly he confessed that he was neither "Christ," nor "Elias" nor "that Prophet." Nor did he stop even there, but also informed them who he was, and spoke of the nature of his own baptism, that it was but a slight and mean thing, nothing more than some water, and told of the superiority of the Baptism given by Christ; he also cited Esaias the prophet, testifying of old very long ago, and calling Christ "Lord" (Isa. xl. 3), but giving him the names of "minister and servant." What after this ought they to have done? Ought they not to have believed on Him who was witnessed of, to have worshiped Him, to have confessed Him to be God? For the character and heavenly wisdom of the witness showed that his testimony proceeded, not from flattery, but from truth; which is plain also from this, that no man prefers his neighbor to himself, nor, when he may lawfully give honor to himself, will yield it up to another, especially when it is so great as that of which we speak. So that John would not have renounced(1) this testimony (as belonging) to Christ, had He not been God. For though he might have rejected it for himself as being too great for his own nature, yet he would not have assigned it to another nature that was beneath it.

"But there standeth One among you, whom ye know not." Reasonable it was that Christ should mingle among the people as one of the many, because everywhere He taught men not to be puffed up and boastful. And in this place by "knowledge" the Baptist means a perfect acquaintance with Him, who and whence He was. And immediately next to this he puts, "Who cometh after me"; all but saying, "Think not that all is contained in my baptism, for had that been perfect, Another would not have arisen after me to offer you a different One, but this of mine is a preparation and a clearing the way for that other. Mine is but a shadow and image, but One must come who shall add to this the reality. So that His very coming 'after me' especially declares His dignity: for had the first been perfect, no place would have been required for a second." "Is(2) before me," is more honorable, brighter. And then, lest they should imagine that His superiority was found by comparison, desiring to establish His incomparableness, he says, "Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose"; that is, who is not simply "before me," but before me in such a way, that I am not worthy to be numbered among the meanest of His servants. For to loose the shoe is the office of humblest service.

Now if John was not worthy to "unloose the latchet" (Matt. xi. 11 ), John, than whom "among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater," where shall we rank ourselves? If he who was equal to, or rather greater than, all the world,(3) (for saith Paul, "the world was not worthy" of them--Heb. xi. 38,) declares himself not worthy to be reckoned even among the meanest of those who should minister unto Him, what shall we say, who are full of ten thousand sins, and are as far from the excellence of John, as earth from heaven.

[4.] He then saith that he himself is not "worthy so much as to unloose the latchet of His shoe"; while the enemies of the truth are mad with such a madness, as to assert(4) that they are worthy to know Him even as He knows Himself. What is worse than such insanity, what more frenized than such arrogance? Well hath a wise man said, "The beginning of pride is not to know the Lord."(5)

The devil would not have been brought down and become a devil, not being a devil before, had he not been sick of this disease. This it was that cast him out from that confidence,(6) this sent him to the pit of fire, this was the cause of all his woes. For it is enough of itself to destroy every excellence of the soul, whether it find almsgiving, or prayer, or fasting, or anything. For, saith the Evangelist, "That which is highly esteemed among men is impure before the Lord." (Luke xvi. 15--not quoted exactly.) Therefore it is not only fornication or adultery that are wont to defile those who practice them, but pride also, and that far more than those vices. Why? Because fornication though it is an unpardonable sin, yet a man may plead the desire; but pride cannot possibly find any cause or pretext of any sort whatever by which to obtain so much as a shadow of excuse; it is nothing but a distortion and most grievous disease of the soul, produced from no other source but folly. For there is nothing more foolish than a proud man, though he be surrounded with wealth, though he possess much of the wisdom of this world, though he be set in royal place, though he bear about with all things that among men appear desirable.

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

O wretched and miserable! when thy soul is perishing by a most grievous disease, when thou art poor with utter poverty, art thou high-minded because thou hast such and such a number of talents of gold? because thou hast a multitude of slaves and cattle? Yet these are not thine; and if thou dost not believe my words, learn from the experience of those who have gone before(1) thee. And if thou art so drunken, that thou canst not be instructed even from what has befallen others, wait a little, and thou shalt know by what befalls thyself that these things avail thee nothing, when gasping for life, and master not of a single hour, not even of a little moment, thou shalt unwillingly leave them(2) to those who are about thee, and these perhaps those whom thou wouldest not. For many have not been permitted even to give directions concerning them, but have departed suddenly,(3) desiring to enjoy them, but not permitted, dragged from them, and forced to yield them up to others, giving place by compulsion to those to whom they would not. That this be not our case, let us, while we are yet in strength and health, send forward our riches hence to our own city, for thus only and in no other way shall we be able to enjoy them; so shall we lay them up in a place inviolate and safe. For there is nothing, there is nothing there that can take them from us; no death, no attested wills,(4) no successors to inheritances,(5) no false informations, no plottings against us, but he who has departed hence bearing away great wealth with him may enjoy it there for ever. Who then is so wretched as not to desire to revel in riches which are his own throughout? Let us then transfer our wealth, and remove it thither. We shall not need for such a removal asses, or camels, or carriages, or ships, (God hath relieved even us from this difficulty,) but we only want the poor, the lame, the crippled, the infirm. These are entrusted with this transfer, these convey our riches to heaven, these introduce the masters of such wealth as this to the inheritance of goods everlasting. Which may it be that we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


JOHN i. 28, 29.

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

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

Such an one was John, who regarded not the multitude, nor opinion, nor anything else belonging to men, but trod all this beneath his feet, and proclaimed to all with becoming freedom the things respecting Christ. And therefore the Evangelist marks the very place, to show the boldness of the loud-voiced herald. For it was not in a house, not in a corner, not in the wilderness, but in the midst of the multitude, after that he had occupied Jordan, when all that were baptized by him were present, (for the Jews came upon him as he was baptizing,) there it was that he proclaimed aloud that wonderful confession concerning Christ, full of those sublime and great and mysterious doctrines, and that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe. Wherefore he saith,(6) "These things were done in Bethany," or, as all the more correct copies have it, "in Bethabara" For Bethany was not "beyond Jordan," nor bordering on the wilderness, but somewhere nigh to Jerusalem.

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

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

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

And wherefore, says one, does Jesus now come to him? why does he come not merely once, but this second time also? For Matthew says that His coming was necessary on account of Baptism: since Jesus adds, that" thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." (Matt. iii. 15.) But John says that He came again after Baptism, and declares it in this place, for, "I saw," saith he, "the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him." Wherefore then did He come to John? for He came not casually, but went expressly to him. "John," saith the Evangelist, "seeth Jesus coming unto him." Then wherefore cometh He? In order that since John had baptized Him with many (others), no one might suppose that He had hastened to John for the same reason as the rest to confess sins, and to wash in the river unto repentance. For this He comes, to give John an opportunity of setting this opinion right again, for by saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world," he removes the whole suspicion. For very plain it is that One so pure as to be able to wash away(1) the sins of others, does not come to confess sins, but to give opportunity to that marvelous herald to impress what he had said more definitely on those who had heard his former words, and to add others besides. The word "Behold" is used, because many had been seeking Him by reason of what had been said, and for a long time. For this cause, pointing Him out when present, he said, "Behold," this is He so long sought, this is "the Lamb." He calls Him "Lamb," to remind the Jews of the prophecy of Isaiah, and of the shadow under the law of Moses, that he may the better lead them from the type to the reality. That Lamb of Moses took not at once away the sin of any one; but this took away the sin of all the world; for when it was in danger of perishing, He quickly delivered it from the wrath of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seest thou that this was the work of the Spirit, to point out Christ? The testimony of John was indeed not to be suspected, but wishing to make it yet more credible, he leads it up to God and the Holy Spirit. For when John had testified to a thing so great and wonderful, so fit to astonish all his hearers, that He alone took on Him the sins of all the world, and that the greatness of the gift sufficed for so great a ransom, afterwards he proves this assertion.(1) And the proof is that He is the Son of God, and that He needed not baptism, and that the object of the descent of the Spirit was only to make Him known. For it was not in the power of John to give the Spirit, as those who were baptized by him show when they say, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." (Acts xix. 2.) In truth, Christ needed not baptism, neither his nor any other;(2) but rather baptism needed the power of Christ. For that which was wanting was the crowning blessing of all, that he who was baptized should be deemed worthy of the Spirit this free gift(3) then of the Spirit He added when He came.

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

He puts the "I knew Him not" repeatedly.(4) On what account, and wherefore? He was His kinsman according to the flesh. "Behold," saith the angel, "thy cousin Elisabeth, she also hath received a son." (Luke i. 36.) That therefore he might not seem to favor Him because of the relationship, he repeats the "I knew Him not." And this happened with good reason; for he had passed all his time in the wilderness away from his father's house.

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

[3.] Hence it remains clear to us, that the miracles which they say belong to Christ's childhood, are false, and the inventions of certain who bring them into notice. For if He had begun from His early age to work wonders, neither could John have been ignorant of Him, nor would the multitude have needed a teacher to make Him known. But now he says, that for this he is come, "that He might be made manifest to Israel"; and for this reason he said again, "I have need to be baptized of Thee." Afterwards, as having gained more exact knowledge of Him, he proclaimed Him to the multitude, saying, "This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a Man which is preferred before me." For "He who sent me to baptize with water," and sent me for this end, "that He should be made manifest to Israel," Himself revealed Him even before the descent of the Spirit. Wherefore even before He came, John said, "One cometh after me who is preferred before me." He knew Him not before he came to Jordan and baptized all men, but when He was about to be baptized, then he knew Him; and this from the Father revealing Him to the Prophet, and the Spirit showing Him when He was being baptized to the Jews, for whose sake indeed the descent of the Spirit took place. For that the witness of John might not be despised who said, that "He was before me," and that "He baptizeth with the Spirit," and that "He judgeth the world," the Father utters a Voice proclaiming the Son, and the Spirit descends, directing(5) that Voice to the Head of Jesus. For since one was baptizing, the other receiving baptism, the Spirit Comes to correct the idea which some of those present might form, that the words were spoken of John. So that when he says, "I knew Him not," he speaks of former time, not that near to His baptism. Otherwise how could he have forbidden Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee"? How could he have said such words concerning Him?

"But," says one, "how then did not the Jews believe? for it was not John only that saw the Spirit in the likeness of a dove." It was, because, even if they did see, such things require not only the eyes of the body, but more than these, the vision of the understanding, to prevent men from supposing the whole to be a vain illusion. For if when they saw Him working wonders, touching with His own hands the sick and the dead, and so bringing them back to life and health, they were so drunk with malice as to declare the contrary of what they saw; how could they shake off their unbelief by the descent of the Spirit only? And some say, that they did not all see it, but only John and those of them who were better(1) disposed. Because even though it were possible with fleshly eyes to see the Spirit descending as in the likeness of a dove, still not for this was it absolutely necessary that the circumstance should be visible to all. For Zacharias saw many things in a sensible form, as did Daniel and Ezekiel, and had none to share in what they saw; Moses also saw many things such as none other hath seen; nor did all the disciples enjoy(2) the view of the Transfiguration on the mount, nor did they all alike behold Him at the time of the Resurrection. And this Luke plainly shows, when he says, that He showed Himself "to witnesses chosen before of God." (Acts x. 41.)

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

Where did he "bear record that this is the Son of God?" he called Him indeed "Lamb," and said that He should "baptize with the Spirit," but nowhere did he say of Him, "Son of God." But the other Evangelists do not write that He said anything after the baptism, but having been silent as to the time intervening, they mention the miracles of Christ which were done after John's captivity,(3) whence we may reasonably conjecture that these and many others are omitted. And this our Evangelist himself has declared, at the end of his narrative. For they were so far from inventing anything great concerning Him, that the things which seem to bring reproach, these they have all with one voice(4) and with all exactness set down, and you will not find one of them omitting one of such circumstances; but of the miracles, part some have left for the others to relate,(5) part all have passed over in silence.

I say not this without cause, but to answer the shamelessness of the heathen.(6) For this is a sufficient proof of their truth-loving disposition, and that they say nothing for favor. And thus as well as in other ways you may arm yourselves for trial of argument(7) with them. But take heed. Strange were it that the physician, or the shoemaker, or the weaver, in short all artists, should be able each to contend correctly for his own art, but that one calling himself Christian should not be able to give a reason for his own faith; yet those things if overlooked bring only loss to men's property, these if neglected destroy our very souls. Yet such is our wretched disposition, that we give all our care to the former, and the things which are necessary, and which are the groundwork s of our salvation, as though of little worth, we despise.

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

Must not this deserve excessive wrath, when Christ is shown to be less honorable in your estimation than a dancer? since you have contrived ten thousand defenses for the things they have done, though more disgraceful than any, but of the miracles of Christ, though they have drawn to Him the world, you cannot bear even to think or care at all. We believe in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the Resurrection of bodies, and in Life everlasting. If now any heathen say, "What is this Father, what this Son, what this Holy Ghost? How do you who say that there are three Gods, charge us with having many Gods?" What will you say? What will you answer? How will you repel the attack of these arguments? But what if when you are silent, the unbeliever should again propose this other question, and ask, "What in a word is resurrection? Shall we rise again in this body? or in another, different from this? If in this, what need that it be dissolved?" What will you answer? And what, if he say, "Why did Christ come now and not in old time? Has it seemed good to Him now to care for men, and did He despise us during all the years that are past?" Or if he ask other questions besides, more than these? for I must not propose many questions, and be silent as to the answers to them, lest, in so doing, I harm the simpler among you. What has been already said is sufficient to shake off your slumbers. Well then, if they ask these questions, and you absolutely cannot even listen to the words, shall we, tell me, suffer trifling punishment only, when we have been the cause of such error to those who sit in darkness? I wished, if you had sufficient leisure, to bring before you all the book of a certain impure heathen philosopher written against us, and that of another of earlier date, that so at least I might have roused you, and led you away from your exceeding slothfulness. For if they were wakeful that they might say these things against us, what pardon can we deserve, if we do not even know how to repel the attacks made upon us? For what purpose have we been brought forward?(1) Dost thou not hear the Apostle say, "Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you"? (1 Pet, iii. 15.) And Paul exhorts in like manner, saying, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." (Col. iii. 16.) What do they who are more slothful(2) than drones reply to this? "Blessed is every simple soul," and, "he that walketh simply(3) walketh surely." (Prov. x. 8.) For this is the cause of all sorts of evil, that the many do not know how to apply rightly even the testimony of the Scriptures. Thus in this place, the writer does not mean (by "simple") the man who is foolish, or who knows nothing, but him who is free from wickedness, who is no evil-doer, who is wise. If it were not so, it would have been useless to say,(4) "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matt. x. 16.) But why should I name these things, when the discourse comes in quite out of place? For besides the things already mentioned, other matters are not right with us, those, I mean, which concern our life and conversation. We are in every way wretched and ridiculous, ever ready to find fault with each other, but slow to correct in ourselves things for which we blame and accuse our neighbor. Wherefore I exhort you, that now at least we attend to ourselves, and stop not at the finding fault, (this is not enough to appease God;) but that we show forth a change in every way most excellent, in order that having lived here to the glory of God, we may enjoy the glory to come; which may it come to pass that we will all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


JOHN i. 35-37.

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

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

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

I have not said this without cause, but that when you hear John repeating the same words, yon may not condemn him for vain talking;(5) nor deem him impertinent or wearisome. He desired to have been heard by once speaking, but because not many gave heed to what was spoken from the first, by reason of deep sleep, he again rouses them by this second call. Now observe; he had said, "He that cometh after me, is preferred before me": and that "I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe"; and that "He baptizeth with the Holy Ghost, and with fire"; and that he "saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and it abode upon Him," and he "bare record that this is the Son of God." No one gave heed, nor asked, nor said, "Why sayest thou these things? in whose behalf? for what reason?" Again he had said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"; yet not even so did he touch their insensibility. Therefore, after this he is compelled to repeat the same words again, as if softening by tillage(1) some hard and stubborn soil, and by his word as by a(2) plow, disturbing the mind which had hardened into clods,(8) so as to put in the seed deep. For this reason he does not make his discourse a long one either; because he desired one thing only, to bring them over and join them to Christ. He knew that as soon as they had received this saying, and had been persuaded, they would not afterwards need one to bear witness unto Him. As also it came to pass. For, if the Samaritans could say to the woman after hearing Him, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world," the disciples would be much more quickly subdued,(4) as was the case. For when they had come and heard Him but one evening, they returned no more to John, but were so nailed to Him, that they took upon them the ministry of John, and themselves proclaimed Him. For, saith the Evangelist, "He findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." And observe, I pray you, this, how, when he said, "He that cometh after me is preferred before me"; and that, "I am not worthy to unloose the lachet of His shoe"; he caught no one, but when he spoke of the Dispensation, and lowered his discourse to a humbler tone, then the disciples followed Him.

And we may remark this, not only in the instance of the disciples, but that the many are not so much attracted when some great and sublime thing is said concerning God, as when some act of graciousness and lovingkindness, something pertaining to the salvation of the hearers, is spoken of. They heard that "He taketh away the sin of the world," and straightway they ran to Him. For, said they, "if it is possible to wash away(5) the charges that lie against us, why do we delay? here is One who will deliver us without labor of ours. Is it not extreme folly to put off accepting the Gift?" Let those hear who are Catechumens, and are putting off their salvation(6) to their latest breath.

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

[2.] And here we may remark, not this only, but something besides. As at a marriage the maiden goes not to the bridegroom, but he hastens to her, though he be a king's son, and though he be about to espouse some poor and abject person, or even a servant, so it was here. Man's nature did not go up,(7) but contemptible and poor as it was, He came to it, and when the marriage had taken place, He suffered it no longer to tarry here, but having taken it to Himself, transported it to the house of His Father.

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

The Prophets and Apostles then all preached Him absent; the Prophets before His coming according to the flesh, the Apostles after He was taken up; John alone proclaimed Him present. Wherefore he calls himself the "friend of the Bridegroom" (c. iii. 29), since he alone was present at the marriage, he it was that did and accomplished all, he made a beginning of the work. And "looking upon Jesus walking, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God." Not by voice alone, but with his eyes also he bore witness to, and expressed his admiration of, Christ, rejoicing and glorying. Nor does he for awhile address any(1) word of exhortation to his followers, but only shows wonder and astonishment at Him who was present, and declares to all the Gift which He came to give, and the manner of purification. For "the Lamb" declares both these things. And he said not, "Who shall take," or "Who hath taken"; but, "Who taketh away the sins of the world"; because this He ever doth. He took them not then only when He suffered, but from that time even to the present doth He take them away, not being repeatedly(2) crucified, (for He offered One Sacrifice for sins,) but by that One continually purging them. As then THE WORD shows us His pre-eminence,(3) and THE SON His superiority in comparison with others, so "The Lamb, The Christ, that Prophet, the True Light, the Good Shepherd," and whatever other names are applied to Him with the addition of the article, mark a great difference. For there were many" Lambs," and" Prophets," and "Christs," and "sons," but from all these John separates Him by a wide interval. And this he secured not by the article only, but by the addition of "Only-Begotten"; for He had nothing in common with the creation.

If it seems to any unseasonable that these things should be spoken at "the tenth hour" (that was the time of day, for he says, "It was about the tenth hour "--(v. 39), such an one seems to me to be much mistaken. In the case indeed of the many, and those who serve the flesh, the season after feasting is not very suitable for any matters of pressing moment, because their hearts(4) are burdened with meats: but here was a man who did not even partake of common food, and who at evening was as sober as we are at morning, (or rather much more so; for often the remains of our evening food that are left within us, fill our souls with imaginations, but he loaded his vessel with none of these things;) he with good reason spake late in the evening of these matters. Besides, he was tarrying in the wilderness by Jordan, where all came to his baptism with great fear, and caring little at that time for the things of this life; as also they continued with Christ three days, and had nothing to eat. (Matt. xv. 32.) For this is the part of a zealous herald and a careful husbandman, not to desist before he see that the planted seed has got a firm hold.(5) "Why then did he not go about all the parts of Judaea preaching Christ, rather than stand by the river waiting for Him to come, that he might point Him out when He came?" Because he wished that this should be effected by His works; his own object being in the mean time only to make Him known, and to persuade some to hear of eternal life. But to Him he leaves the greater testimony, that of works, as also He saith, "I receive not testimony of men. The works which My Father hath given Me, the same bear witness of Me." (c. v. 34, 36.) Observe how much more effectual this was; for when he had thrown in a little spark, at once the blaze rose on high. For they who before had not even given heed to his words, afterwards say, "All things which John spake were true." (c.x. 41.)

[3.] Besides, if he had gone about saying these things, what was being done would have seemed to be done from some human motive, and the preaching to be full of suspicion.(6)

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

Yet John had other disciples, but they not only did not "follow Jesus," but were even jealously disposed towards him. "Rabbi," says one, "He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come unto him." (c. iii. 26.) And again(7) they appear bringing a charge against him; "Why do we fast, but thy disciples fast not?" (Matt. ix. 14.) But those who were better than the rest had no such feeling, but heard, and at once followed; followed, not as despising their teacher, but as being most fully persuaded by him, and producing the strongest proof that they acted thus from a right judgment of his reasonings. For they did not do so by his advice, that might have appeared suspicious; but when he merely foretold what was to come to pass, that "He should baptize with the Holy Ghost, [and with fire,]" they followed. They did not then desert their teacher, but rather desired to learn what Christ brought with Him more than John. And observe zeal combined with modesty. They did not at once approach and question Jesus on necessary and most important matters, nor were they desirous to converse with Him publicly, while all were present, at once and in an off-hand manner, but privately; for they knew that the words of their teacher proceeded not from humility, but from truth.

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

Wherefore then has he not made known the name of the other also? Some say, because it was the writer himself that followed; others, not so, but that he was not one of the distinguished disciples; it behooved not therefore to say more than was necessary. For what would it have advantaged us to learn his name, when the writer does not mention the names even of the seventy-two? St. Paul also did the same.(1) "We have sent," says he, "with him the brother," (who has often in many things been forward,) "whose praise is in the Gospel." (2 Cor. viii. 18.) Moreover, he mentions Andrew for another reason. What is this? It is, that when you are informed that Simon having in company with him heard, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. iv. 19), was not perplexed at so strange a promise, you may learn that his brother had already laid down within him the beginnings of the faith.

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

Hence we are taught, that God does not prevent our wills by His gifts, but that when we begin, when we provide the being willing, then He gives us many opportunities of salvation. "What seek ye?" How is this? He who knoweth the hearts of men, who dwelleth(2) in our thoughts, doth He ask? He doth; not that He may be informed; how could that be? but that by the question He may make them more familiar, and impart to them greater boldness, and show them that they are worthy to hear Him; for it was probable that they would blush and be afraid, as being unknown to him, and as having heard such accounts of Him from the testimony of their teacher. Therefore to remove all this, their shame and their fear, he questions them, and would not let them come all the way to the house in silence. Yet the event would have been the same had He not questioned them; they would have remained by following Him, and walking in His steps would have reached His dwelling. Why then did He ask? To effect that which I said, to calm their minds,(3) yet disturbed with shame and anxiety, and to give them confidence.

Nor was it by their following only that they showed their earnest desire, but by their question also: for when they had not as yet learned or even heard anything from Him, they call Him, "Master"; thrusting themselves as it were among His disciples, and declaring what was the cause of their following, that they might hear somewhat profitable. Observe their wisdom also. They did not say, "Teach us of Thy doctrines, or some other thing that we need to know"; but what? "Where dwellest Thou?" Because, as I before said, they wished in quiet to say somewhat to Him, and to hear somewhat from Him, and to learn. Therefore they did not defer the matter, nor say, "We will come to-morrow by all means, and hear thee speak in public"; but showed the great eagerness they had to hear Him, by not being turned back even by the hour, for the sun was already near its setting, ("it was," saith John, "about the tenth hour.") And therefore Christ does not tell them the marks of His abode, nor its situation, but rather induces them to follow Him by showing them that He had accepted them. For this reason He did not say anything of this kind to them, "It is an unseasonable time now for you to enter into the house, to-morrow you shall hear if you have any wish, return home now";(4) but converses with them as with friends, and those who had long been with Him.

How then saith He in another place, "But the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" (Luke ix. 58), while here He saith, "Come and see" (v. 39) where I abide? Because the expression "hath not where to lay His head," signifies that He had no dwelling place of His own, not that He did not abide in a house. And this too is the meaning of the comparison.(5) The Evangelist has mentioned that "they abode with Him that day," but has not added wherefore, because the reason was plain; for from no other motive did they follow Christ, and He draw them to Him, but only that they might have instruction; and this they enjoyed so abundantly and eagerly even in a single night, that they both proceeded straightway to the capture(6) of others.

[4.] Let us then also learn hence to consider all things secondary(7) to the hearing the word of God, and to deem no season unseasonable, and, though a man may even have to go into another person's house, and being a person unknown to make himself known to great men, though it be late in the day, or at any time whatever, never to neglect this traffic. Let food and baths and dinners and the other things of this life have their appointed time; but let the teaching of heavenly philosophy have no separate time, let every season belong to it. For Paul saith, "In season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort" (2 Tim. iv. 2); and the Prophet too saith,(8) " In His law will he meditate day and night" (Ps. i. 3); and Moses commanded the Jews to do this always. For the things of this life, baths, I mean, and dinners, even if they are necessary, yet being continually repeated, render the body feeble;(9) but the teaching of the soul the more it is prolonged, the stronger it renders the soul which receives it. But now we portion out all our time for trifles and unprofitable silly talking, and we sit together idly during the morning and afternoon,(1) midday and evening besides, and we have appointed places for this; but hearing the divine doctrines twice or thrice in the week we become sick,(2) and thoroughly sated. What is the reason? We are in a bad state of soul; its faculty of desiring and reaching after these things we have relaxed altogether. And therefore it is not strong enough to have an appetite for spiritual food. And this among others is a great proof of weakness, not to hunger nor thirst, but to be disinclined to both. Now if this, when it takes place in our bodies, is a sure sign of grievous disease, and productive of weakness, much more is it so in the soul.

"How then," says one, "shall we be able to renew it, thus fallen and relaxed, to strength? what doing, what saying?" By applying ourselves to the divine words of the prophets, of the Apostles, of the Gospels, and all the others; then we shall know that it is far better to feed on these than on impure food, for so we must term our unseasonable idle talking and assemblies. For which is best, tell me, to converse on things relating to the market, or things in the law courts, or in the camp, or on things in heaven, and on what shall be after our departure hence? Which is best, to talk about our neighbor and our neighbor's affairs, to busy ourselves in what belongs to other people, or to enquire into the things of angels, and into matters which concern ourselves? For a neighbor's affairs are not thine at all; but heavenly things are thine. "But," says some one, "a man may by once speaking finish these subjects altogether.'' Why do you not think this in matters on which you converse uselessly and idly, why though ye waste your lives on this have ye never exhausted the subject? And I have not yet named what is far more vile than this. These are the things about which the better sort converse one with the other; but the more indifferent and careless carry about in their talk players and dancers and charioteers, defiling men's ears, corrupting their souls, and driving their nature into mad excesses by these narratives, and by means of this discourse introducing every kind of wickedness into their own imagination. For as soon as the tongue has uttered the name of the dancer, immediately the soul has figured to itself his looks, his hair, his delicate clothing, and himself more effeminate than all. Another again fans the flame in another way, by introducing some harlot into the conversation, with her words, and attitudes, and glances, her languishing looks and twisted locks, the smoothness of her cheeks, and her painted eyelids.(3) Were you not somewhat affected when I gave this description? Yet be not ashamed, nor blush, for the very necessity of nature requires this, and so disposes the soul according as the tendency of what is said may be. But if, when it is I that speak, you, standing in the church, and at a distance from these things, were somewhat affected at the hearing, consider how it is likely that they are disposed, who sit in the theater itself, who are totally free from dread, who are absent from this venerable and awful assembly, who both see and hear those things with much shamelessness. "And why then," perhaps one of those who heed not may say, "if the necessity of nature so disposes the soul, do you let go that, and blame us?" Because, to be softened(4) when one hears these things, is nature's work; but to hear them is not a fault of nature, but of deliberate choice. For so he who meddles with fire must needs be injured, so wills the weakness of our nature; yet nature does not therefore draw us to the fire and to the injury thence arising; this can be only from deliberate perversity. I beseech you, therefore, to remove and correct this fault, that you may not of your own accord cast yourself down the precipice, nor thrust yourselves into the pits of wickedness, nor run of yourselves to the blaze, lest we place ourselves in jeopardy of the fire prepared for the devil. May it come to pass, that we all being delivered both from this fire and from that, may go to the very bosom of Abraham, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


JOHN i 41, 42.

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

[1.] WHEN God in the beginning made man, He did not suffer him to be alone, but gave him woman for a helpmate, and made them to dwell together, knowing that great advantage would result from this companionship. What though the woman did not rightly employ this benefit? still if any one make himself fully acquainted with the nature of the matter, he will see, that to the wise great advantage arises from this dwelling together; not in the cause of wife or husband only, but if brothers do this, they also shall enjoy the benefit. Wherefore the Prophet hath said, "What is good, what is pleasant, but that brethren should dwell together?" (Ps. cxxxiii. 1, LXX.) And Paul exhorted not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. (Heb. x. 25.) In this it is that we differ from beasts, for this we have built cities, and markets, and houses, that we may be united one with another, not in the place of our dwelling only, but by the bond of love. For since our nature came imperfect(1) from Him who made it, and is not self-sufficient,(2) God, for our advantage, ordained that the want hence existing should be corrected by the assistance arising from mutual intercourse; so that what was lacking in one should be supplied by another,(3) and the defective nature thus be rendered self-sufficient; as, for instance, that though made mortal,(4) it should by succession for a long time maintain immortality. I might have gone into this argument at greater length, to show what advantages arise to those who come together from genuine and pure(5) intercourse with each other: but there is another thing which presses now, that on account of which we have made these remarks.

Andrew, after having tarried with Jesus and learned what He did, kept not the treasure to himself, but hastens and runs quickly to his brother, to impart to him of the good things which he had received.(6) But wherefore has not John said on what matters Christ conversed with them? Whence is it clear that it was for this that they "abode with Him"?(7) It was proved by us the other day; but we may learn it from what has been read today as well. Observe what Andrew says to his brother; "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." You see how, as far as he had learned in a short time, he showed(8) the wisdom of the teacher who persuaded them, and their own zeal, who cared for these things long ago,(9) and from the beginning. For this word, "we have found," is the expression of a soul which travails(10) for His presence, and looks for His coming from above, and is made overjoyed when the looked-for thing has happened,(11) and hastens to impart to others the good tidings. This is the part of brotherly affection, of natural friendship, of a sincere disposition, to be eager to stretch out the hand to each other in spiritual things. Hear him besides speak with the addition of the article; for he does not say "Messias," but "the Messias"; thus they were expecting some one Christ,(12) having nothing in common with the others. And behold, I beg of you, the mind of Peter obedient and tractable from the very beginning; he ran to Him without any delay; "He brought him," saith St. John, "to Jesus." Yet let no one blame his easy temper if he received the word without much questioning, because it is probable that his brother had told him these things more exactly and at length; but the Evangelists from their care for conciseness constantly cut many things short. Besides, it is not said absolutely that "he believed," but that "he brought him to Jesus," to give him up for the future to Him, so that from Him he might learn all; for the other disciple also was with him, and contributed to this. And if John the Baptist, when he had said that He was "the Lamb," and that He "baptized with the Spirit," gave them over to learn the clearer doctrine concerning this thing from Him, much more would Andrew have done this, not deeming him self sufficient to declare the whole, but drawing him to the very fount of light with so much zeal and joy, theft the other(13) neither deferred nor delayed at all.(14)

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

[2.] He begins from this time forth to reveal the things belonging to His Divinity, and to open It out little by little by predictions. So He did in the case of Nathaniel and the Samaritan woman. For prophecies bring men over not less than miracles; and are free from the appearance of boasting. Miracles may possibly be slandered among foolish men, (" He casteth out devils," said they, "by Beelzebub"--Matt. xii. 24), but nothing of the kind has ever been said of prophecy. Now in the case of Nathaniel and Simon He used this method of teaching, but with Andrew and Philip He did not so. Why was this? Because those(1) (two) had the testimony of John, no small preparation, and Philip received a credible evidence of faith, when he saw those who had been present.

"Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas." By the present, the future is guaranteed; for it is clear that He who named Peter's father foreknew the future also. And the prediction is attended with praise; but the object was not to flatter, but to foretell something future. Hear(2) at least in the case of the Samaritan woman, how He utters a prediction with severe reproofs;(3) "Thou hast had," he saith, "five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." (c. iv. 18.) So also His Father makes great account of prophecy, when He sets Himself against the honor paid to idols: "Let them declare to you," saith He, "what shall come upon you" (Isa. xlvii. 13); and again, "I have declared, and have saved, and there was no foreign God amongst you" (Isa. xliii. 12, LXX.); and He brings this forward through all prophecy. Because prophecy is especially the work of God, which devils cannot even imitate, though they strive exceedingly. For in the case of miracles there may be delusion; but exactly to foretell the future belongs to that pure Nature alone. Or if devils ever have done so, it was by deceiving the simpler sort; whence their oracles are always easily detected.

But Peter makes no reply to these words; as yet he knew nothing clearly, but still was learning. And observe, that not even the prediction is fully set forth; for Jesus did not say, "I will change thy name to Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church," but, "Thou shalt be called Cephas." The former speech would have expressed too great authority(4) and power; for Christ does not immediately nor at first declare all His power, but speaks for a while in a humbler tone; and so, when He had given the proof of His Divinity, He puts it more authoritatively, saying,(5) "Blessed art thou, Simon, because My Father hath revealed it to thee"; and again, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church." (Matt. xvi. 17, 18.) Him therefore He so named, and James and his brother He called "sons of thunder." (Mark iii. 17.) Why then doth He this? To show that it was He who gave the old covenant, that it was He who altered names, who called Abram "Abraham," and Sarai "Sarah," and Jacob "Israel." To many he assigned names even from their birth, as to Isaac, and Samson, and to those in Isaiah and Hosea (Isa. viii. 3; Hos. i. 4, 6, 9); but to others He gave them after they had been named by their parents, as to those we have mentioned, and to Joshua the son of Nun. It was also a custom of the Ancients to give names from things, which in fact Leah also has done;(6) and this takes place not without cause, but in order that men may have the appellation to remind them of the goodness of God, that a perpetual memory of the prophecy conveyed by the names may sound in the ears of those who receive it. Thus too He named John early,(7) because they whose virtue was to shine forth from their early youth, from that time received their names; while to those who were to become great(8) at a later period, the title also was given later.

[3.] But then they received each a different name, we now have all one name, that which is greater than any, being called(9) "Christians," and "sons of God," and (His) "friends," and (His) "Body." For the very term itself is able more than all those others to rouse us, and make us more zealous(10) for the practice of virtue. Let us not then act unworthily of the honor belonging to the title, considering n the excess of our dignity, we who are called Christ's; for so Paul hath named us. Let us bear in mind and respect the grandeur of the appellation. ( 1 Cor. iii. 23.) For if one who is said to be descended from some famous general, or one otherwise distinguished, is proud to be called this or that man's son, and deems the name a great honor, and strives in every way so as not to affix, by remissness of his own, reproach to him after whom he is called; shall not we who are called after the name, not of a general, nor any of the princes upon earth, nor Angel, nor Archangel, nor Seraphim, but of the King of these Himself, shall not we freely give even our very life, so as not to insult Him who has honored us? Know ye not what honor the royal bands of shield-bearers and spearmen that are about the king enjoy? So let us who have been deemed worthy to be near Him, and much closer, and as much nearer than those just named, as the body is closer to the head than they, let us, I say, use every means to be imitators of Christ.

What then saith Christ? "The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." (Luke ix. 58.) Now if I demand this of you, it will seem perhaps to most of you grievous and burdensome; because therefore of your infirmity I speak not of(1) such perfection, but desire you not to be nailed to riches; and as I, because of the infirmity of the many, retire somewhat from (demanding) the excess of virtue, I desire that you do so and much more on the side of vice. t blame not those who have houses, and lands, and wealth, and servants, but wish them to possess(2) these things in a safe and becoming way. And what is "a becoming way"? As masters, not as slaves; so that they rule them, be not ruled by them; that they use, not abuse them. This is why they are called, "things to be used,"(3) that we may employ them on necessary services, not hoard them up; this is a domestic's office, that a master's; it is for the slave to keep them, but for the lord and one who has great authority to expend. Thou didst not receive thy wealth to bury, but to distribute. Had God desired riches to be hoarded, He would not have given them to men, but would have let them remain as they were in the earth; but because He wishes them to be spent, therefore He has permitted us to have them, that we may impart them to each other. And if we keep them to ourselves, we are no longer masters of them. But if you wish to make them greater and therefore keep them shut up, even in this case the best plan of all is to scatter and distribute them in all directions; because there can be no revenue without an outlay, no wealth without expenditure. One may see that it is so even in worldly matters. So it is with the merchant, so with the husbandman, who put forth the one his wealth, the other his seed; the one sails the sea to disperse his wares, the other labors all the year putting in and tending his seed. But here there is no need of any one of these things, neither to equip a vessel, nor to yoke oxen, nor to plough land, nor to be anxious about uncertain weather, nor to dread a fall of hail; here are neither waves nor rocks; this voyage and this sowing needs one thing only, that we cast forth our possessions; all the rest will that Husbandman do, of whom Christ saith, "My Father is the Husbandman." (c. xv. 1.) Is it not then absurd to be sluggish and slothful where we may gain all without labor, and where there are many toils and many(5) troubles and cares, and after all, an uncertain hope, there to display all eagerness? Let us not, I beseech you, let us not be to such a degree senseless about our own salvation, but let us leave the more troublesome task, and run to that which is most easy and more profitable, that We may obtain also the good things that are to come; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy and quickening Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


JOHN i. 43, 44.

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

[1.] "To every careful thinker there is a gain"(4) (Prov. xiv. 23, LXX.), saith the proverb; and Christ implied more than this, when He said, "He that seeketh findeth." (Matt. vii. 8.) Wherefore it does not occur to me any more to wonder how Philip followed Christ. Andrew was persuaded when he had heard from John, and Peter the same from Andrew, but Philip not having learned anything from any but Christ who said to him only this, "Follow Me," straightway obeyed, and went not back, but even became a preacher to others. For he ran to Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write." Seest thou what a thoughtful(6) mind he had, how assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, and expected the Advent? for the expression, "we have found," belongs always to those who are in some way seeking. "The day following Jesus went forth into Galilee." Before any had joined Him, He called no one; and He acted thus not without cause, but according to his own wisdom and intelligence. For if, when no one came to Him spontaneously, He had Himself drawn them, they might perhaps have started away; but now, having chosen this of themselves, they afterwards remained firm. He calls Philip, one who was better acquainted with Him; for he, as having been born and bred in Galilee, knew Him more than others. Having then taken the disciples, He next goes to the capture of the others, and draws to Him Philip and Nathanael. Now in the case of Nathanael this was not so wonderful, because the fame of Jesus had gone forth into all Syria. (Matt. iv. 24.) But the wonderful thing was respecting Peter and James and Philip, that they believed, not only before the miracles, but that they did so being of Galilee, out of which "ariseth no prophet," nor "can any good thing come"; for the Galilaeans were somehow of a more boorish and dull disposition than others; but even in this Christ displayed forth His power, by selecting from a land which bore no fruit His choicest disciples. It is then probable that Philip having seen Peter and Andrew, and having heard what John had said, followed; and it is probable also that the voice of Christ wrought in him somewhat; for He knew those who would be serviceable. But all these points the Evangelist cuts short. That Christ should come, he knew; that this was Christ, he knew not, and this I say that he heard either from Peter or John. But John mentions his village also, that you may learn that "God hath chosen the weak things of the world." (1 Cor. i. 27.)

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

He says this, to make his preaching credible, which it must be if it rests on Moses and the Prophets besides, and by this to abash his hearer. For since Nathanael was an exact(1) man, and one who viewed all things with truth, as Christ also testified and the event showed, Philip with reason refers him to Moses and the Prophets, that so he might receive Him who was preached. And he not troubled though he called Him "the son of Joseph "; for still he was supposed to be his son. "And whence, O Philip, is it plain that this is He? What proof dost thou mention to us? for it is not enough merely to assert this. What sign hast thou seen, what miracle? Not without danger is it to believe without cause in such matters. What proof then hast thou?" "The same as Andrew," he replies; for he though unable to produce the wealth which he had found, or to describe his treasure in words, when he had discovered it, led his brother to it. So too did Philip. How this is the Christ, and how the prophets proclaimed Him beforehand, he said not; but he draws him to Jesus, as knowing that he would not afterwards fall off, if he should once taste His words and teaching.

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

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

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

[2.] And observe, I pray you, his manner of declining, how gentle he has made it, and in the form of a question. For he said not, "Galilee produces no good"; but how said he? "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip also was very prudent; for he is not as one perplexed, angry, and annoyed, but perseveres, wishing to bring over the(3) man, and manifesting to us from the first of his preaching(1) the firmness(2) which becomes an Apostle. Wherefore also Christ saith, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." So that there is such a person as a false Israelite; but this is not such an one; for his judgment, Christ saith, is impartial, he speaks nothing from favor, or from ill-feeling. Yet the Jews, when they were asked where Christ should be born, replied, "In Bethlehem" (Matt. ii. 5), and produced the evidence, saying, "And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah." (Mic. v. 2.) Before they had seen Him they bore this witness, but when they saw Him in their malice they concealed the testimony, saying, "But as for this fellow, we know not whence He is." (c. ix. 29.) Nathanael did not so, but continued to retain the opinion which he had from the beginning, that He was not "of Nazareth."

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

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

Observe a man firm and steady.(3) When Christ had said, "Behold an Israelite indeed," he was not made vain by this approbation, he ran not after this open praise, but continues seeking and searching more exactly, and desires to learn something certain. He still enquired as of a man,(4) but Jesus answered as God. For He said, "I have known thee from the first,''(5) (him and the candor(6) of his character,(7) this He knew not as a man, from having closely followed him, but as God from the first,) "and but now I saw thee by the fig-tree "; when there was no one present there but only Philip and Nathanael who said all these things in private. It is mentioned, that having seen him afar off, He said, "Behold an Israelite indeed "; to show,(8) that before Philip came near, Christ spoke these words, that the testimony might not be suspected. For this reason also He named the time, the place, and the tree; because if He had only said, "Before Philip came to thee, I saw thee," He might have been suspected of having sent him, and of saying nothing wonderful; but now, by mentioning both the place where he was when addressed by Philip, and the name of the tree, and the time of the conversation, He showed that His foreknowledge(9) was unquestionable.

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

[3.] Was it then only "before Philip called him" that He "saw" him? did He not see him before this with His sleepless eye? He saw him, and none could gainsay it; but this is what it was needful to say at the time. And what did Nathanael? When he had received an unquestionable proof of His foreknowledge, he hastened to confess Him, showing by his previous delay his caution,(10) and his fairness by his assent afterwards. For, said the Evangelist,

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

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

So ought we also to rejoice, who have been thought worthy to know the Son of God; to rejoice, not in thought alone, but to show it also by our actions. And what must they do who rejoice? Obey Him who has been made known to them; and they who obey, must do whatever He willeth. For if we are going to do what angers Him, how shall we show that we rejoice? See ye not in our houses when a man entertains one whom he loves, how gladly he exerts himself, running about in every direction, and though it be needful to spend all that he has, sparing nothing so that he please his visitor? But if one who invites should not attend to his guest,(1) and not do such things as would procure him ease, though he should say ten thousand times that he rejoices at his coming, he could never be believed by him. And justly; for this should be shown by actions. Let us then, since Christ hath come to us, show that we rejoice, and do nothing that may anger him; let us garnish the abode to which He has come, for this they do who rejoice; let us set before Him the meal(2) which He desires to eat, for this they do who hold festival. And what is this meal? He saith Himself; "My meat is, that I may do the will of Him that sent me." (c. iv. 34.) When He is hungry, let us feed Him; when He is thirsty, let us give Him drink: though thou give Him but a cup of cold water, He receives it; for He loves thee, and to one who loves, the offerings of the beloved, though they be small, appear great. Only be not thou slothful; though thou cast in but two farthings, He refuses them not, but receives them as great riches. For since He is without wants, and receives these offerings, not because He needs them, it is reasonable that all distinction should be not in the quantity of the gifts, but the intention(3) of the giver. Only show that thou lovest Him who is come, that for His sake thou art giving all diligence, that thou rejoicest at His coming. See how He is disposed toward thee. He came for thee, He laid down His life for thee, and after all this He doth not refuse even to entreat thee. "We are ambassadors," saith Paul, "for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." (2 Cor. v. 20.) "And who is so mad," saith some one, "as not to love his own Master?" I say so too, and I know that not one of us would deny this in words or intention; but one who is beloved desires love to be shown, not by words only, but by deeds also. For to say that we love, and not to act like lovers, is ridiculous, not only before God, but even in the sight of men. Since then to confess Him in word only, while in deeds we oppose Him, is not only unprofitable, but also hurtful to us; let us, I entreat you, also make confession by our works; that we also may obtain a confession from Him in that day, when before His Father He shall confess those who are worthy in Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


JOHN i. 49, 50.

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

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

Now what is the question arising from this passage? It is this.(4) Peter, when after so many miracles and such high doctrine he confessed that, "Thou art the Son of God" (Matt. xvi. 16), is called "blessed," as having received the revelation from the Father; while Nathanael, though he said the very same thing before seeing or hearing either miracles or doctrine, had no such word addressed to him, but as though he had not said so much as he ought to have said, is brought(5) to things greater still. What can be the reason of this? It is, that Peter and Nathanael both spoke the same words, but not both with the same intention. Peter confessed Him to be "The Son of God' but as being Very God; Nathanael, as being mere man. And whence does this appear? Fron what he said after these words; for after, "Thou art the Son of God," he adds, "Thou art the King of Israel." But the Son of God is not "King of Israel" only, but of all the world.

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

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

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

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

What then does Nathanael? To this he makes no reply. And therefore at this point Christ stopped His discourse with him, allowing him to • consider in private what had been said; and not choosing to pour forth all at once, having cast seed into fertile ground, He then leaves it to shoot at leisure. And this He has shown in another place, where He saith, "The kingdom of heaven is like to a man that soweth good seed, but while he slept, his enemy cometh, and soweth tares among the wheat."(1)

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

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

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

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

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

"How then," asks some one, "came it into the mind of His mother to imagine anything great of Him?" He was now beginning to reveal Himself, and was plainly discovered by the witness of John, and by what He had said to His disciples. And before all this, the Conception itself and all its attending circumstances(1) had inspired her with a very great opinion of the Child; "for," said Luke, "she heard all the sayings concerning the Child, and kept them in her heart."(2) "Why then," says one, "did not she speak this before?"(3) Because, as I said, it was now at last that He was beginning to manifest Himself. Before this time He lived as one of the many, and therefore His mother had not confidence to say any such thing to Him; but when she heard that John had come on His account, and that he had borne such witness to Him as he did, and that He had disciples, after that she took confidence, and called Him, and said, when they wanted wine, "They have no wine." For she desired both to do them a favor, and through her Son to render herself more conspicuous; perhaps too she had some human feelings, like His brethren, when they said, "Show thyself to the world" (c. xvii. 4), desiring to gain credit from His miracles. Therefore He answered somewhat vehemently,(4) saying,

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

To prove that He greatly respected His mother, hear Luke relate how He was "subject to" His parents (Luke ii. 51), and our own Evangelist declare how He had forethought for her at the very season of the Crucifixion. For where parents cause no impediment or hindrance in things belonging to God, it is our bounden duty to give way to them, and there is great danger in not doing so; but when they require anything unseasonably, and cause hindrance in any spiritual matter, it is unsafe to obey. And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere, "Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?" (Matt. xii. 48), because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and she, because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshiped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occasion. For consider what a thing it was, that when all the people high and low were standing round Him, when the multitude was intent on hearing(5) Him, and His doctrine had begun to be set forth, she should come into the midst and take Him away from the work of exhortation, and converse with Him apart, and not even endure to come within, but draw Him outside merely to herself. This is why He said, "Who is My mother and My brethren?" Not to insult her who had borne Him, (away with the thought!) but to procure her the greatest benefit, and not to let her think meanly of Him. For if He cared for others, and used every means to implant in them a becoming opinion of Himself, much more would He do so in the case of His mother. And since it was probable that if these words had been addressed to her by her Son, she would not readily have chosen even then to be convinced, but would in all cases have claimed the superiority as being His mother, therefore He replied as He did to them who spake to Him; otherwise He could not have led up her thoughts from His present lowliness to His future exaltation, had she expected that she should always be honored by Him as by a son, and not that He should come as her Master.

[3.] It was then from this motive that He said in this place, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" and also for another reason not less pressing. What was that? It was, that His miracles might not be suspected. The request ought to have come from those who needed, not from His mother. And why so? Because what is done at the request of one's friends, great though it be, often causes offense to the spectators; but when they make the request who have the need, the miracle is free from suspicion, the praise unmixed, the benefit great. So if some excellent physician should enter a house where there were many sick, and be spoken to by none of the patients or their relations, but be directed only by his own mother, he would be suspected(1) and disliked by the sufferers, nor would any of the patients or their attendants deem him able to exhibit anything great or remarkable. And so this was a reason why He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much more for the salvation of her soul, and for the doing good to the many, for which He took upon Him the flesh.

These then were the words, not of one speaking rudely to his mother, but belonging to a wise dispensation, which brought her into a right frame of mind, and provided that the miracles should be attended with that honor which was meet. And setting other things aside, this very appearance which these words have of having been spoken chidingly, is amply enough to show that He held her in high honor, for by His displeasure He showed that He reverenced her greatly; in what manner, we will say in the next discourse. Think of this then, and when you hear a certain woman saying, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked," and Him answering, "rather blessed are they that do the will of my Father"(12) (Luke xi. 27), suppose that those other words also were said with the same intention. For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been very good and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtue. "A brother," saith David, "doth not redeem shall man redeem?" (Ps xlix. 7, LXX.) We must place our hopes of salvation in nothing else, but only in our own righteous deeds (done) after a the grace of God. For if this by itself could have availed,(4) it would have availed the Jews, (for Christ was their kinsman according to the flesh,) it would have availed the town in which He was born, it would have availed His brethren. But as long as His brethren cared not for themselves, the honor of their kindred availed them nothing, but they were condemned with the rest of the world, and then only were approved, when they shone by their own virtue; and the city fell, and was burnt, having gained nothing from this; and His kinsmen according to the flesh were slaughtered and perished very miserably, having gained nothing towards being saved from their relationship to Him, because they had not the defense of virtue. The Apostles, on the contrary, appeared greater than any, because they followed the true and excellent way of gaining relationship with Him, that by obedience. And from this we learn that we have always need of faith, and a life shining and bright, since this alone will have power to save us. For though His relations were for a long time everywhere held in honor, being called the Lord's kinsmen,(5) yet now we do not even know their names, while the lives and names of the Apostles are everywhere celebrated.

Let us then not be proud of nobleness of birth(6) according to the flesh, but though we have ten thousand famous ancestors, let us use diligence ourselves to go beyond their excellences, knowing that we shall gain nothing from the diligence of others to help us in the judgment that is to come; nay, this will be the more grievous condemnation, that though born of righteous parents and having an example at home, we do not, even thus, imitate our teachers. And this I say now, because I see many heathens,(7) when we lead them to the faith and exhort them to become Christians, flying to their kinsmen and ancestors and house, and saying, "All my relations and friends and companions are faithful Christians." What is that to thee, thou wretched and miserable"? This very thing will be especially thy ruin, that thou didst not respect the number of those around thee, and run to the truth. Others again who are believers but live a careless life, when exhorted to virtue make the very same defense, and say, "my father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather were very pious and good men." But this will assuredly most condemn thee, that being descended from such men, thou hast acted unworthily of the root from whence thou art sprung. For hear what the Prophet says to the Jews, "lsrael served for a wife, and for a wife he kept (sheep)" (Hos. xii. 12); and again Christ, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad." (c. viii. 56.) And everywhere they bring forward s to them the righteous acts of their fathers, not only to praise them, but also to make the charge against their descendants more heavy. Knowing then this, let us use every means that we may be saved by our own works, lest having deceived ourselves by vain trusting on others, we learn that we have been deceived when the knowledge of it will profit us nothing. "In the grave," saith David, "who shall give thee thanks?" (Ps. vi. 5.) Let us then repent here, that we may obtain the everlasting goods, which may God grant we all do, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

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