The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for March 16th, 2013

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 47

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013


THE people of Israel salute the Lord as their King, and as the King of the world. The heathen nations are called on to join in the jubilee with which the accession of the Great King is acclaimed. For the psalmist, therefore, Yahweh of Hosts is not Lord of Israel merely (though Israel is still His special possession); He is King of all lands and peoples. The spirit of Messianic universalism breathes, thus, through the poem. The series of Psalms 91-98 is also associated with the idea of God taking anew His throne as King over Israel and the world. The popular religious mind of Israel interpreted national defeat as a sign that the Lord was no longer interested in His people—was, in effect, no longer their actual King. But when any great victory was won by Israel, or the national hopes and ambitions of Israel receivedencouragement, then it was felt that the Lord had again resumed His rule as King of Israel. Inasmuch, moreover, as the reality of Yahweh’s rule over Israel was shown in practice by the defeat of Israel’s national foes, by the exercise of power, therefore, over those who were not of the House of Israel, the lordship of Yahweh over Israel came to be associated inevitably with the idea of a universal lordship of the God of Israel.

It is likely that the occasion of this poem was some great national victory. But it is not possible to determine the exact date or precise occasion of the poem (see footnote below).  It must be said in regard to this poem, as was said in regard to Ps 43, that the imagery of the poem goes beyond the possibilities of any known historical situation. Here, as there, we have at work a method of composition, a tradition of literary creation, which was intimately associated with the phenomena of the Messianic outlook in ancient Israel.

Footnote by Fr. Boylan: This psalm, like the following, has been often associated by criticism with the defeat of Sanherib (i.e., Sennacherib, 701 B.C.). It has been maintained also that Ps66, Ps 74, Ps 94, Ps 96, Ps 96, Ps 97, and, possibly, Ps 91, were composed to commemorate the overthrow of the Assyrians on that occasion. The Ark may have been taken out from its shrine during the celebration of victory, carried around in a triumphal procession, and, finally, borne back amidst tumultuous rejoicing to its resting place in the Temple. The return of the Ark to its shrine would symbolise the return of Yahweh to His throne as King of Israel. The ceremonies of rejoicing over the Assyrian defeat would, in the circumstances, inevitably resemble the ceremonies of the coronation of Hebrew kings; and if, as is not improbable, a great triumph of Israel would naturally be looked on by the people as a sort of prelude to, or foretaste of, the victories of the Messias, we should expect to find in this psalm that interweaving of the historical and the ideal, that overshadowing of the actual King (Ezechias, i.e., Hezekiah) and his victory by the Messianic King and his victories, which the psalm shows.

For the carrying of the Ark in a procession of victory compare Psalm 24.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 22

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013


THIS psalm is clearly Messianic. It reads in places almost like an eye-witness’s account of the Crucifixion of Our Lord. The Gospels put the first words of this psalm in the mouth of the dying Saviour, and we may assume that the thoughts of this poem passed through the mind of Jesus even when His lips were unable to form the words of it. If the psalm is Davidic, it is rather of Christ than of David that it speaks. The structure of the poem is very simple. Verses 2-22 are a complaint and a prayer; verses 23-32 are praise and thanks. The first part expresses the dreadful loneliness of Christ on the cross, and in His cruel agony: the second part announces the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer, that, through His sorrows, the world might come to share in His triumph; all the ends of the earth are shown hurrying to pay homage to the God of Israel. Here, as in most of the psalms of complaint, there is a strikingly sudden transition from the deepest dejection to the most triumphant confidence.

Modern critics are inclined to regard this psalm as of post-exilic origin. For these critics the woes of the psalmist are the woes of Israel in exile. The poem must be the story of a nation’s sorrows, it is said, since all the world will not turn to God with praise because of one man’s deliverance; not because of any single Israelite can all the kings of earth be summoned to adore the God of Israel. The Servant of the Lord in Isaias is depicted similarly to the sufferer of this poem, and the critics who identify the Servant with Israel or some section of Israel, find in that identification a reason for taking Psalm 22 as referring to the people of Israel as a whole, or to the most faithful section of the Hebrew Exiles. It is true that the Messianic meaning of a psalm is not excluded by the immediate and literal reference of the psalm to a particular historical personageor incident. But whatever the immediate subject of this psalm may be—whether David, Ezechias or the Israelite nation, as has been variously conjectured—the picture which it puts before us is more true of Christ, the Crucified, than it is of any other person—whether individual or national. The victory of Christ is reason sufficient to bring all nations and kings of earth to pay homage to the God of truth.

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St Irenaeus Ministries New Podcast Study of Ephesians

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013

St Irenaeus Ministries has recently begun a new podcast study, this one focusing on St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Four episodes are currently available (see links further below). To learn more about this ministry see here. To see-and perhaps purchase-some of the numerous scripture studies (and other talks) they have offered in the past (now available on CD’s) go here.

Ephesians~Introduction. Background.

Ephesians~Preaching in the City. Background.

Ephesians~St Paul’s Introductory Blessing.

Ephesians~Grace From Faith.


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St Augustine’s Tractate on John 8:31-46

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013


John 8:31-32.-“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

[1.] Beloved, our condition needs much endurance; and endurance is produced when doctrines are deeply rooted. For as no wind is able by its assaults to tear up the oak, which sends down its. root into the lower recesses of the earth, and is firmly clenched there; so too the soul which is nailed by the fear of God none will be able to overturn. Since to be nailed is more than to be rooted. Thus the Prophet prayeth, saying, “Nail my flesh by Thy fear” (Ps. cxix. 120, Ps. cxix. 120 LXX.); “do Thou so fix and join me, as by a nail riveted into me.” For as men of this kind are hard to be captured, so the opposite sort are a ready prey, and are easily thrown down. As was the case of the Jews at that time; for after having heard and believed, they again turned out of the way. Christ therefore desiring to deepen their faith that it might not be merely superficial, diggeth into their souls by more striking words. For it was the part of believers to endure even reproofs, but they immediately were wroth. But how doth He this? He first telleth them, “If ye continue in My word, ye are My disciples indeed: and the truth shall make you free.” All but saying, “I am about to make a deep incision, but be not ye moved”; or rather by these expressions He allayed the pride of their imagination. “Shall make you free”: from what, tell me? From your sins. What then say those boasters?

Ver. 33. “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man.”

Immediately their imagination dropped, and this happened from their having been fluttered1 about worldly things. “If ye continue in My word,” was the expression of One declaring what was in their heart, and knowing that they had indeed believed, but had not continued. And He promiseth a great thing, that they should become His disciples. For since some had gone away from Him before this, alluding to themHe saith, “If ye continue,” because they also had heard and believed, and departed becausethey could not continue. “For many of His disciples went back, and walked no more openly with Him.”2 (c. vi. 66.)

“Ye shall know the truth,” that is, “shall know Me, for I am the truth. All the Jewishmatters were types, but ye shall know the truth from Me, and it shall free you from your sins.” As to those others He said, “Ye shall die in your sins,” so to these He saith, “shall make you free.” He said not, “I will deliver you from bondage,” this He allowed them to conjecture. What then said they?

“We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man.” And yet if they must needs have been vexed, it might have been expected that they would have been so at the former part of His speech, at His having said, “Ye shall know the truth”; and that they would have replied, “What! do we not now know the truth? Is then the Law and our knowledge a lie?” But they cared for none of these things, they are grieved at worldly things, and these were their notions of bondage. And certainly even now, there are many who feel shame at indifferent matters, and at this kind of bondage, but who feel none for the bondage of sin, and who would rather be called servants to this latter kind of bondage ten thousand times, than once to the former. Such were these men, and they did not even know of any other bondage, and they say, “Bondsmen callest thou those who are of the race of Abraham, the nobly born, who therefore ought not to be called bondsmen? For, saith one, we were never in bondage to any man.” Such are the boastings of the Jews. “We are the seed of Abraham,” “we are Israelites.” They never mention their own righteous deeds. Wherefore John cried out to them, saying, “Think not to say that we have Abraham to our father.” (Matt. iii. 9.) And why did not Christ confute them, for they had often been in bondage to the Egyptians, Babylonians, and many others? Because His words were not to gain honor for Himself, but for their salvation, for their benefit, and toward this object He was pressing. For He might have spoken of the four hundred years, He might have spoken of the seventy, He might have spoken of the years of bondage during the time of the Judges, at one time twenty, at another two, at another seven; He might have said that they had never ceased being in bondage. But He desired not to show that they were slaves of men, but that they were slaves of sin, which is the most grievous slavery, from which God alone can deliver; for to forgive sins belongeth to none other. And this too they allowed. Since then they confessed that this was the work of God, He bringeth them to this point, and saith,

Ver. 34. “Whosoever committeth sin is. the servant of sin.”

Showing that this is the freedom of which He speaketh, the freedom from this service.

Ver. 35. “The servant abideth not in the house, but the Son abideth forever.”

Gently too from this He casts down the things of the Law,3 alluding to former times. For that they may not run back to them and say, “We have the sacrifices which Moses commanded, they are able to deliver us,” He addeth these words, since otherwise what connection would the saying have? For “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace” (Rom. iii. 23, 24), even the priests themselves. Wherefore Paul also saith of the priest, that “he ought as for the people so also for himself to offer for sins, for that he also is compassed about with infirmity.” (Heb. v. 3, 2.) And this is signified by His saying, “The servant abideth not in the house.” Here also He showeth His equal honor with the Father, and the difference between slave and free. For the parable has this meaning, that is, “the servant hath no power,” this is the meaning of “abideth not.”

[2.] But why when speaking of sins doth He mention a “house”? It is to show that as a master hath power over his house, so He over all. And the, “abideth not,” is this,” hath not power to grant favors, as not being master of the house”; but the Son is master of the house. For this is the, “abideth forever,” by a metaphor drawn from human things. That they may not say, “who art thou?””All is Mine, (He saith,) for I am the Son, and dwell in My Father’s house,” calling by the name of “house” His power. As in another place He calleth the Kingdom His Father’s house, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” (c. xiv. 2.) For since the discourse was of freedom and bondage, He with reason used this metaphor, telling them that they had no power to set free.4

Ver. 36. “If the Son therefore shall make you free.”

Seest thou the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and how He declareth that He hath the same power as the Father? “If the Son make you free, no man afterwards gain-sayeth, but ye have firm freedom.” For “it is God that justifieth, who is He that condemneth?” (Rom. viii. 33, 34.) Here He showeth that He Himself is pure from sin, and alludeth to that freedom which reached only to a name; this even men give, but that God alone. And so he persuaded them not to be ashamed at this slavery, but at that of sin. And desiringto show that they were not slaves, except byrepudiating that liberty, He the more showeth them to be slaves by saying,5

“Ye shall be free indeed.”

This is the expression of one declaring that this freedom was not real. Then, that they might not say, “We have no sin,” (for it was probable that they would say so,) observe how He bringeth them beneath this imputation. For omitting to convict all their life, He bringeth forward that which they had in hand, which they yet desired to do, and saith,

Ver. 37. “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed but ye seek to kill Me.”

Gently and by little doth He expel them from that relationship, teaching them not to be high-minded because of it. For as freedom and bondage depend on men’s actions, so also doth relationship. He said not directly, “Ye are not the seed of Abraham, ye the murderers of the righteous”; but for a while He even goeth along with them, and saith, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed.” Yet this is not the matter in question, and during the remainder of this speech He useth greater vehemence. For we may for the most part observe, that when He is about to work any great thing, after He hath wrought it, He useth greater boldness of speech, as though the testimony from His works shut men’s mouths. “But ye seek to kill Me.” “What of that,” saith some one, “if they sought to do so justly.” But this was not so either; wherefore also He puts the reason;

“Because My word hath no lace in you.”

“How then was it,” saith some one, “thatthey believed on Him?” As I before said, they changed again. On which account He touched them sharply. “If ye boast the relationship of Abraham ye ought also to show forth his life.” And He said not, “Ye do not contain6 my words,” but, “My word hath no place in you,” thus declaring the sublimity of His doctrines. Yet not for this ought they to have slain, but rather to have honored and waited on Him so as to learn. “But what,” saith some one, “if thou speakest these things of thyself?” On this account He added,

Ver. 38. “I speak that which I have seen with My Father, and ye do that which ye have heard from7 your father.”

“As,” He saith, “I both by My words and by the truth declare the Father, so also do ye by your actions (declare yours). For I have not only the same Substance, but also the same Truth with the Father.”

Ver. 39, 40. “They said unto Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye had Abraham to your father, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me.”

He here repeatedly handleth their murderous intention. and maketh mention of Abraham. And this He doth desiring to draw off their attention from this relationship, and to take away their excessive boasting, and also to persuade them no longer to rest their hopes of salvation in Abraham, nor in the relationship which is according to nature, but in that which is according to the will.8 For what hindered their coming to Christ was this, their deeming that relationship to be sufficient for them to salvation. But what is the “truth” of which He speaketh? That He is equal with the Father. For it was on this account that the Jews sought to slay Him; and He saith,

“Ye seek to kill Me because I have9 told you the truth, which I have heard of My Father.”10

To show that these things are not opposed to the Father, He again betaketh Himself to Him. They say unto Him,

Ver. 41. “We be not born of fornication, we have one Father, even God.”

[3.] “What sayest thou? Ye have God for your Father, and do ye blame Christ for asserting this?” Seest thou that He said that God was His Father in a special manner? When therefore He had cast them out of their relationship to Abraham, having nothing to reply, they dare a greater thing, and betake themselves to God. But from this honor also He expelleth them, saying,

Ver. 42-44. “If God were your Father, ye would love Me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth:11 when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own.”

He had driven them out of their relationship to Abraham, and when they dared greater things, He then addeth a blow, telling them that they not only are not Abraham’s children, but that they are even children of the devil, and inflicting a wound which might counterbalance their shamelessness; nor doth He leave it unsupported, but establisheth it by proofs. “For,” He saith, “to murder12 belongeth to the wickedness of the devil.” And He said not merely, “ye do his works,” but,”ye do his lusts,” showing that both he and they hold to murder,13 and that envy was the cause. For the devil destroyed Adam, not because he had any charge against him, but only from envy. To this also He alludeth here.

“And abode not in the truth.” That is, in the right life. For since they continually accused Him of not being from God, He telleth them that this also is from thence.14 For the devil first was the father of a lie, when he said, “In the day that ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened”(Gen. iii. 5), and he first used it. For men use a lie not as a thing proper, but alien to their nature, but he as proper.

Ver. 45. “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not.”

What kind of consequence is this? “Having no charge against Me, ye desire to kill Me. For because ye are enemies of the truth, therefore ye persecute Me. Since had this not been the reason, ye would have named your charge.” Wherefore He added,

Ver. 46. “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?”

Then they said, “We be not born of fornication.” Yet in fact many of them were born of fornication, for they practiced unbefitting unions. Still He doth not convict them of this, but setteth Himself to the other point. For when He hath proved them to be, not of God, but of the devil, by all these signs, (for to do murder is of the devil, and to lie is of the devil, both which ye do,) then He showeth that to love is the sign of being of God. “Why do ye not understand My speech?” Since they were always doubting, saying, “What is it that he saith, `Whither I go ye cannot come’?” therefore He telleth them, “Ye do not understand My speech,” “because ye have not the word of God. And this cometh to you, because that your understanding is groveling, and because what is Mine is far too great for you.” But what if they could not understand? Not to be able here means not to be willing; for “ye have trained yourselves to be mean, to imagine nothing great.” Because they said that they persecuted Him as being themselves zealous for God on this account He everywhere striveth to show that to persecute Him is the act of those who hate God, but that, on the contrary, to love Him is the act of those who know God.

“We have one Father, even God.” On this ground they pride themselves, on their honor not their righteous deeds. “Therefore your not believing is no proof that I am an enemy to God, but your unbelief is a sign that you do not know God. And the reason is, from your being willing to lie and to do the works of the devil. But this is the effect of meanness of soul; (as the Apostle saith, `For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal?’) (1 Cor. iii. 3.) And why is it that ye cannot15 ? Because ye will to do the lusts of your father, ye are eager, ye are ambitious (to do them).” Seest thou that “ye cannot” express a want of will? For “this did not Abraham.” “What are his works? Gentleness, meekness, obedience. But ye set yourselves on the contrary part, being hard and cruel.”

But how came it into their thoughts to betake themselves to God? He had shown them unworthy of Abraham; desiring therefore to escape this charge, they mounted higher. For when He reproached them with murder, they said this,16 making it, as it were, a kind of excuse for themselves that they were avenging God. Therefore He showeth that this very thing is the act of men opposing God. And the, “I came forth,” showeth that He was from thence.17 He saith, “I came forth,” alluding to His arrival among us. But since they would probably say to Him, “Thou speaketh certain things strange and new,18 ” He telleth them that He was come from God. “And therefore with good reason ye hear them not, because ye are of the devil. For on what account would ye kill Me? What charge have ye to bring against Me? If there be none, why do ye not believe Me?” Thus then having proved them to be of the devil by their lying and their murder, He showeth them also to be alien from Abraham and from God, both because they hated One who had done no wrong, and because they would not hear His word; and in every way He proveth that He was not opposed to God, and that it was not on this account that they refused to believe, but because they were aliens from God. For when One who had done no sin, who said that He came from God and was sent of God, who spake the truth, and so spake it as to challenge all to the proof, after this was not believed, it is clear that He was not believed because of their being carnal. Since sins do use, yea they do use to debase a soul. Wherefore It saith, “Seeing ye are become dull of hearing.” (Heb. v. 11.) For when a man cannot despise earthly things, how shall He ever be wise concerning heavenly things?

[4.] Wherefore, I exhort you, use we every means that our life may be righteous, that our minds may be cleansed, so that no filthiness be a hindrance to us; kindle for yourselves the light of knowledge, and sow not among thorns. For how shall one who knows not that covetousness is an evil, ever know the greater good? how shall one who refrains not from these earthly things ever hold fast to those heavenly? It is good to take by violence, not the things that perish, but the Kingdom of heaven. “The violent,” it saith, “take it by force.” (Matt. xi. 12.) It is then not possible to attain to it by sluggishness, but by zeal. But what meaneth “the violent”? There is need of much violence, (for strait is the way,) there is need of a youthful soul and a noble. Plunderers desire to outstrip all other, they look to nothing, neither to conviction, nor accusation, nor punishment, but are given up to one thing only, the getting hold of what they desire to seize, and they run past all that are before them in the way. Seize we then the Kingdom of heaven, for here to seize is no fault but rather praise, and the fault is the not seizing. Here our wealth comes not from another’s loss. Haste we then to seize it. Should passion disquiet us, should lust disquiet us, let us do violence to our nature, let us become more gentle, let us labor a little, that we may rest forever. Seize not thou gold, but seize that wealth which showeth gold to be but mud. For tell me, if lead and gold were laid before thee, which wouldest thou take? Is it not clear that thou wouldest take the gold? Dost thou then, where one who seizes is punished, prefer that which is the more valuable, but where one who seizes is honored, give up what is the more valuable? If there were punishment in both cases, wouldest thou not rather aim at this latter19 ? But in this case there is nothing like punishment, but even blessedness. And, “How,” saith some one, “may one seize it?” Cast away the things which thou hast already in thy hands; for so long as thou graspest them20 thou wilt not be able to seize the other. For consider, I pray you, a man with his hands full of silver, will he be able, as long as he retains it, to seize on gold, unless he first cast away the silver, and be free? Because he that seizes a thing must be well-girt so as not to be detained. And even now there are adverse powers running down against us to rob us, but let us fly them, let us fly them, trailing after us nothing that may give a hold, let us cut asunder the cords, let us strip ourselves of the things of earth. What need of silken garments? How long shall we be unrolling this mockery? How long shall we be burying gold? I desired to cease from always saying these things, but ye will not suffer me, continually supplying me with occasions and arguments. But now at least let us desist, that having instructed others by our lives, we may obtain the promised good things, through the grace and loving-kindness 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. source

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St Augustine’s Tractate on John 8:48-59

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013


John 8:48-49.-“Then answered the Jews, and said unto Him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor My Father.”

[1.] A Shameless and a forward1 thing is wickedness, and when it ought to hide itself, then is it the fiercer. As was the case with the Jews. For when they ought to have been pricked by whatwas said, admiring the boldness and conclusiveness2 of the words, they even insult Him, calling Him a Samaritan, and saying that He had a devil, and they ask, “Said we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” Because when He uttereth anything sublime, this is thought among the very senseless to be madness. Yet nowhere before did the Evangelist say that they called Him “a Samaritan”; but from this expression it is probable that this had been often asserted by them.

“Thou hast a devil,” saith some one. Who is it that hath a devil? He that honoreth God, or he that insulteth Him that honoreth Him? What then saith Christ, who is very meekness and gentleness? “I have not a devil, but I honor Him3 that sent me.” Where there was need to instruct them, to pull down their excessive insolence, to teach them not to be proud because of Abraham, He was vehement; but when it was needful that He being insulted should bear it, He used much gentleness. When they said, “We have God and Abraham for our Father,” He touched them sharply; but whenthey called Him a demoniac, He spake submissively, thus teaching us to avenge insults offered to God, but to overlook such as are offered to ourselves.

Ver. 50. “I seek not Mine own glory.”

“These things,” He saith, “I have spoken to show that it becometh not you, being murderers, to call God your Father; so that I have spoken them through honor for Him, and for His sake do I hear these reproaches, and for His sake do ye dishonor Me. Yet I care not for this insolence4 ; to Him, for whose sake I now hear these things, ye owe an account of your words. For `I seek not Mine own glory.’ Wherefore I omit to punish you, and betake Myself to exhortation, and counsel you so to act, that ye shall not only escape punishment, but also attain eternal life.”

Ver. 51. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.”

Here He speaketh not of faith only, but of a pure life. Above He said, “shall have everlasting life,” but here, “shall not see death.” (c. vi. 40.) At the same time He hinteth to them that they could do nothing against Him, for if the man that should keep His saying should not die, much less should He Himself. At least they understood it so, and said to Him,

Ver. 52. “Now we know that thou hast a devil; Abraham is dead, and the Prophets are dead.”

That is, “they who heard the word of God are dead, and shall they who have heard thine not die?”

Ver. 53. “Art thou greater than our father Abraham?”

Alas for their vainglory! Again do they betake themselves to his relationship. Yet it would have been suitable to say, “Art thou greater than God? or they who have heard thee than Abraham?” But they say not this, because they thought that He was even less than Abraham. At first, therefore, He showed that they were murderers, and so led them away from the relationship; but when they persevered, He contrived this in another way, showing that they labored uselessly. And concerning the “death,” He said nothing to them, neither did He reveal or tell them what kind of death He meant, but in the meantime He would have them believe, that He is greater than Abraham, that even by this He may put them to shame. “Certainly,” He saith, “were I a common man I ought not to die, having done no wrong; but when I speak the truth, and have no sin, am sent from God, and am greater than Abraham, are ye not mad, do ye not labor in vain when ye attempt to kill Me?” What then is their reply? “Now we know that thou hast a devil.” Not so spake the woman of Samaria. She said not to Him, “Thou hast a devil”; but only, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” (c. iv. 12.) For these men were insolent and accursed, while she desired to learn; wherefore she doubted and answered with proper moderation, and called Him, “Lord.” For one who promised far greater things, and who was worthy of credit, ought not to have been insulted, but even admired; yet these men said that He had a devil. Those expressions of the Samaritan woman were those of one in doubt; these were the words of men unbelieving and perverse. “Art thou greater than our father Abraham?” so that this (which He had said) maketh Him to be greater than Abraham. “When therefore ye have seen Him lifted up,5 ye shall confess that He is greater.” On this account He said,”When ye have lifted Me6 up, ye shall know that I Am.” (Ver. 28.) And observe His wisdom. Having first rent them away from Abraham’s kindred, He showeth that He is greater than Abraham, that so He may be seen to be very exceedingly greater than the Prophets also. Indeed it was because they continually called Him a prophet that He said, “My word hath no place in you.” (Ver. 37.) In that other place7 He declared that He raiseth the dead, but here He saith, “He that believeth shall never see death,” which was a much greater thing than not to allow believers to be holden, by death. Wherefore the Jews were the more enraged. What then say they?

“Whom makest thou thyself?”

And this too in an insulting manner. “Thou art taking somewhat upon thyself,” saith one of them. To this then Christ replieth;

Ver. 54. “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing.”

[2.] What say the heretics here? That He heard the question, “Art thou greater than our father Abraham?” and dared not to say to them, “Yea, I am greater,” but did so in a covert manner. What then? Is His honor “nothing”? With respect to them8 it is nothing. And as He said, “My witness is not true” (c. v. 31), with reference to the opinion they would form of it, so also doth He speak here.

“There is One9 that honoreth Me.”

And wherefore said He not, “The Father that sent Me,” as He did before, but,

“Of whom ye say that He is your God.”

Ver. 55. “Yet ye have not known Him.” Because He desired to show that they not only knew not His Father, but that they knew not God.

“But I know Him.”

“So that to say, `I know Him,’ is not a boast, while to say, `I know Him not,’ would be a falsehood; but ye when ye say that ye know Him, lie; as then ye, when ye say that ye know Him, lie, so also should I, were I to say that I know Him not.”

“If I honor Myself.” Since they said, “Whom makest thou thyself?” He replieth, “If I make (Myself anything,) My honor is nothing. As then I know Him exactly, so ye know Him not.” And as in the case of Abraham, He did not take away their whole assertion, but said, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed,” so as to make the charge against them heavier; thus here He doth not remove the whole, but what? “Whom ye say.”10 By granting to them their boast of words, He increaseth the force of the accusation against them. How then do ye “not know Him”? “Because ye insult One who saith and doeth everything that He11 may be glorified, even when that One is sent from Him.” This assertion is unsupported by testimony, but what follows serves to establish it.

“And I keep His saying.”

Here they might, if at least they had anything to say, have refuted Him, for it was the strongest proof of His having been sent by God.

Ver. 56. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.”

Again, He showeth that they were aliens from the race of Abraham, if they grieved at what he rejoiced in. “My day,” seems to me to mean the day of the Crucifixion, which Abraham foreshowed typically by the offering of the ram and of Isaac. What do they reply?

Ver. 57. “Thou art not yet forty12 years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?”

So that we conclude13 that Christ was nearly forty.

Ver. 58, 59. “Jesus saith unto them, Before Abraham was, I Am. Then took they up stones to cast at Him.”

Seest thou how He proved Himself to be greater than Abraham? For the man who rejoiced to see His day, and made this an object of earnest desire, plainly did so because it was a day that should be for a benefit, and belonging to one greater than himself. Because they had said, “The carpenter’s son” (Matt. xiii. 55), and imagined nothing more concerning Him, He leadeth them by degrees to an exalted notion of Him. Therefore when they heard the words, “Ye know not God,” they were not grieved; but when they heard, “before Abraham was, I Am,” as though the nobility of their descent were debased, they became furious, and would have stoned Him.

“He saw My day, and was glad.” He showeth, that not unwillingly He came to His Passion, since He praiseth him who was gladdened at the Cross. For this was the salvation of the world. But they cast stones at Him; so ready were they for murder, and they did this of their own accord, without enquiry.

But wherefore said He not, “Before Abraham was, I was,” instead of “I Am”? As the Father useth this expression, “I Am,” so also doth Christ; for it signifieth continuous Being, irrespective of all time. On which account the expression seemed to them to be blasphemous. Now if they could not bear the comparison with Abraham, although this was but a trifling one, had He continually made Himself equal to the Father, would they ever have ceased casting stones at Him?

After this, again He fleeth as a man, and concealeth Himself, having laid before them sufficient instruction: and having accomplished His work, He went forth from the Temple, and departed to heal the blind, proving by His actions that He is before Abraham. But perhaps some one will say,”Why did He not paralyze their strength?14 So they would have believed.” He healed the paralytic, yet they believed not; nay, He wrought ten thousand wonders; at the very Passion He cast them to the ground, and darkened their eyes, yet they believed not; and how would they have believed if He had paralyzed their strength? There is nothing worse than a soul hardened in desperation; though it see signs and wonders, it still perseveres in retaining the same shamelessness. Thus Pharaoh, who received ten thousand strokes, was sobered only while being punished, and continued of this character until the last day of his life, pursuing those whom he had let go. Wherefore Paul continually saith, “Lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. iii. 13.) For as the callosities15 of the body, when formed, become dead, and possess no sensation; so the soul, when it is occupied by many passions, becomes dead to virtue; and apply what you will to it, it gets no perception of the matter, but whether you threaten punishment or anything else, continues insensible.

[3.] Wherefore I beseech you, while we have hopes of salvation, while we can turn, to use every means to do so. For men who have become past feeling, are after that in the blind state16 of despairing pilots, who give up their vessel to the wind, and themselves contribute no assistance. Thus the envious man looks to one thing only, that is, to satisfy his lust, and though he be like to be punished or even slain, still he is possessed solely by that passion; and in like manner the intemperate and avaricious. But if the sovereignty of the passions be so great, much greater is that of virtue; if for them we despise death, much more for this; if they (sinners) regard not their own lives, much less ought we to do so in the cause of our salvation. For what shall we have to say, if when they who perish are so active about their own perdition, we for our own salvation manifest not even an equal activity, but ever continue wasting with envy? Nothing is worse than envy; to destroy another it destroys itself also. The eye of the envious wastes away in grief, he lives in a continual death, he deems all men, even those who have never wronged him, his enemies. He grieves that God is honored, he rejoices in what the devil rejoices in. Is any honored among men? This is not honor, envy him not. But is he honored by God? Strive and be thou like him. Thou wilt not? Why then dost thou destroy thyself too? Why castest thou away what thou hast? Canst thou not be like unto him, nor gain any good thing? Why then dost thou besides this take for thyself evil, when thou oughtest to rejoice with him, that so even if thou be not able to share his toils, thou mayest profit by rejoicing with Him? For often even the will is able to effect great good. At least Ezekiel saith, that the Moabites were punished because they rejoiced over the Israelites, and that certain others were saved because they mourned over the misfortunes of their neighbors. (Ezek. xxv. 8.) Now if there be any comfort for those who mourn over the woes of others, much more for those who rejoice at the honors of others. He charged the Moabites with having exulted over the Israelites, yet it was God that punished them; but not even when He punisheth will He have us rejoice over those that are punished. For it is not His wish to punish them. Now if we must condole with those who are punished, much more must we avoid envying. those who are honored. Thus, for example, Corah and Dathan perished with their company, making those whom they envied brighter, and giving themselves up to punishment. For a venomousbeast is envy, an unclean beast, a deliberate vice which admits not of pardon, a wickedness stripped of excuse, the cause and mother of all evils. Wherefore let us pluck it up by the roots, that we may be freed from evil here, and may obtain blessings hereafter; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory now and ever and world without end. Amen. source.

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St Augustine’s Tractates on John 10:22-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013

TRACTATE 61 ON JOHN 10:22-42

John 10:22-24.-“And it was at Jerusalem, the Feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost thou make us to doubt?”

[1.] Every virtue is a good thing, but most of all gentleness and meekness. This showeth us men; this maketh us to differ from wild beasts; this fitteth us to vie with Angels. Wherefore Christ continually expendeth many words about this virtue, bidding us be meek and gentle. Nor doth He merely expend words about it, but also teacheth it by His actions; at one time buffeted and bearing it, at another reproached and plotted against; yet again coming to those who plotted against Him. For those men who had called Him a demoniac, and a Samaritan and who had often desired to kill Him, and had cast stones at Him, the same surrounded and asked Him, “Art thou the Christ?” Yet not even in this case did He reject them after so many and so great plots against Him, but answered them with great gentleness.

But it is necessary rather to enquire into thewhole passage from the beginning.

“It was,” It saith, “at Jerusalem, the Feast of the dedication, and it was winter.” This feast was a great and national one. For they celebrated with great zeal the day on which the Temple was rebuilt, on their return from their long captivity in Persia. At this feast Christ also was present, for henceforth He continually abode in Judaea, because the Passion was nigh.1 “Then came the Jews round about Him, and said, How long dost thou make us to doubt?”

“If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”

He did not reply, “What enquire ye2 of Me? Often have ye called Me demoniac, madman, and Samaritan, and have deemed me an enemy of God, and a deceiver, and ye said but now, Thou bearest witness of thyself, thy witness is not true; how is it then that ye seek and desire to learn from Me, whose witness ye reject?” But He said nothing of the kind, although He knew that the intention with which they made the enquiry was evil. For their surrounding Him and saying, “How long dost thou make us to doubt?” seemed to proceed from a certain longing and desire of learning, but the intention with which they asked the question was corrupt and deceitful. For since His works admitted not of their slander and insolence, while they might attack His sayings by finding out in them a sense other than that in which they were spoken, they continually proposed questions, desiring to silence Hint by means of His sayings; and when they could find no fault with His. works, they wished to find a handle in His words. Therefore they said, “Tell us”; yet He had often told them. For He said to the woman of Samaria, “I Am that speak unto thee” (c. iv. 26); and to the blind man, “Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee.” (c. ix. 37.) And He had told them also, if not in the same, at least in other words. And indeed, had they been wise,and had they desired to enquire aright, it remained for them to confess Him by words, since by works He had often proved the point in question. But now observe their perverse and disputations temper. When He addresseth them, and instructeth them by His words, they say, “What sign showest thou us?” (c. vi. 30.) But when He giveth them proofs by His works, they say to Him, “Art thou the Christ? Tell us plainly”; when the works cry aloud, they seek words, and when the words teach, then they betake themselves to works, ever setting themselves to the contrary. But that they enquired not for the sake of learning, the end showed. For Him whom they deemed to be so worthy of credit, as to receive His witness of Himself, when He had spoken a few words they straightway stoned; so that their very surrounding and pressing upon Him was done with ill intent.

And the mode of questioning was full of much hatred. “Tell us plainly, Art thou the Christ?” Yet He spake all things openly, being ever present at their feasts, and in secret He said nothing; but they brought forward words of deceit, “How long dost thou make us to doubt?” in order that having drawn Him out, they might again find some handle against Him. For that in every case they questioned Him not in order to learn, but to find fault with His words, is clear, not from this passage only, but from many others also. Since when they came to Him and asked, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not?” (Matt. xxii. 17), when they spake about putting away a wife (Matt. xix. 3), when they enquired about her who, they said, had had seven husbands (Matt. xxii. 23), they were convicted of bringing their questions to Him, not from desire of learning, but from an evil intention. But there He rebuked them, saying, “Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?” showing that He knew their secret thoughts, while here He said nothing of the kind; teaching us not always to rebuke those who plot against us, but to bear many things with meekness and gentleness.

Since then it was a sign of folly, when the works proclaimed Him aloud, to seek the witness of words, hear how He answereth them, at once hinting to them that they made these enquiries superfluously, and not for the sake of learning, and at the same time showing that He uttered a voice plainer than that by words, namely, that by works.

Ver. 25. “I told you often,”3 He saith, “and ye believe not: the works that I do in My Father’s Name, they are they that bear witness of Me.”

[2.] A remark which the more tolerable among them continually made to one another; “A man that is a sinner cannot4 do such miracles.” And again, “A devil cannot open the eyes of the blind”: and, “No man can do such miracles except God be with him.” (c. iii. 2.) And beholding the miracles that He did, they said, “Is not this the Christ?” Others said, “When Christ cometh, will He do greater miracles than those which this Man hath done?” (c. vii. 31.) And these very persons as many as then desired to believe on Him, saying, “What sign showest thou us, that we may see, and believe thee?” (c. vi. 30.) When then they who had not been persuaded by such great works, pretended that they should be persuaded by a bare word, He rebuketh their wickedness, saying, “If ye believe not My works, how will ye believe My words? so that your questioning is superfluous.”

Ver. 26. “But,” He saith, “I told you, and ye5 believe not, because ye are not of My sheep.”6

“For I on My part have fulfilled all that it behooved a Shepherd to do, and if ye follow Me not, it is not because I am not a Shepherd, but because ye are not My sheep.”

Ver. 27-30. “For My sheep hear My voice,7 and follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life8 ; neither can9 any man pluck them out of My hand. The Father,10 which gave them Me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.”

Observe how in renouncing He exciteth them to follow Him. “Ye hear Me not,” He saith, “for neither are ye sheep, but they who follow, these are of the flock.” This He said, that they might strive to become sheep. Then by mentioning what they should obtain, He maketh these men jealous, so as to rouse them, and cause them to desire such things.

“What then? Is it through the power of the Father that no man plucketh them away, and hast thou no strength, but art too weak to guard them?” By no means. And in order that thou mayest learn that the expression, “The Father which gave them to Me,” is used on their account, that they might not again call Him an enemy of God, therefore, after asserting that, “No man plucketh them out of My hand,” He proceedeth to show, that His hand and the Father’s is One. Since had not this been so, it would have been natural for Him to say, “The Father which gave them to Me is greater than all, and no man can pluck them out of My hand.” But He said not so, but, “out of My Father’s hand.” Then that thou mayest not suppose that He indeed is weak, but that the sheep are in safety through the power of the Father, He addeth, “I and the Father are One.” As though He had said “I did not assert that on account of the Father no man plucketh them away, as though I were too weak to keep the sheep. For I and the Father are One.” Speaking here with reference to Power, for concerning this was all His discourse; and if the power11 be the same, it is clear that the Essence is also. And when the Jews used ten thousand means, plotting and casting men out of their synagogues, He telleth them that all their contrivances are useless and vain; “For the sheep are in My Father’s hand”; as the Prophet saith, “Upon My hand I have pictured thy walls.” (Isa. xlix. 16.) Then to show that the hand is One, He sometimes saith that it is His own, sometimes the Father’s. But when thou hearest the word “hand,” do not understand anything material, but the power, the authority. Again, if it was on this account that no one could pluck away the sheep, because the Father gave Him power, it would have been superfluous to say what follows, “I and the Father are One.” Since were He inferior to Him, this would have been a very daring saying, for it declares nothing else than an equality of power; of which the Jews were conscious, and took up stones to cast at Him. (Ver. 31.) Yet not evenso did He remove this opinion and suspicion; though if their suspicion were erroneous, He ought to have set them right, and to have said, “Wherefore do ye these things? I spake not thus to testify that my power and the Father’s are equal”; but now He doth quite the contrary, and confirmeth their suspicion, and clencheth it, and that too when they were exasperated. For He maketh no excuse for what had been said, as though it had been said ill, but rebuketh them for not entertaining a right opinion concerning Him. For when they said,

Ver. 33-36.12 “For a good workwe stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou being a man makest thyself God”; hear His answer;13 “If the Scripture called14 them gods unto whom the word of God came,15 how sayye that I blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?”

What He saith is of this kind: “If those who have received this honor by grace, are not found fault with for calling themselves gods, how can He who hath this by nature deserve to be rebuked?” Yet He spake not so, but proved it at a later time, having first relaxed and yielded somewhat in His discourse, and said, “Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent.” And when He had softened their anger, He bringeth forward the plain assertion. For a while, that His speech might be received, He spoke in a humbler strain, but afterwards He raised it higher, saying,

Ver. 37, 38. “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works.”

Seest thou how He proveth what I said, that He is in nothing inferior to the Father, but in every way equal to Him? For since it was impossible to see His Essence, from the equality and sameness of the works He affordeth a proof of unvaryingness as to Power. And what, tell me, shall we believe?

[3.] “That I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.”16

“For I am nothing other than what the Father is, yet still Son; He nothing other than what I am, yet still Father. And if any man know Me, he knoweth the Father, and if he knoweth the Father,17 he hath learnt also the Son.” Now were the power inferior, then also what relateth to the knowledge would be false, for it is not possible to become acquainted with one substance or power by means of another.

Ver. 39-41. “Therefore they sought again to take Him, but He escaped out of their hands, and went away again beyond Jordan, into the place where John at first baptized.18 And many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle, but all things that John spake of this man were true.”

When He hath uttered anything great and sublime, He quickly retireth, giving way to their anger, so that the passion may abate and cease through His absence. And thus He acted at that time. But wherefore doth the Evangelist mention the place? That thou mayest learn that He went there to remind them of the things there done and said by John, and of his testimony; at least when they came there, they straightway remembered John. Wherefore also they said, “John indeed did no miracle,” since how did it follow that they should add this, unless the place had brought the Baptist to their memory, and they had come to remember his testimony. And observe howthey form incontrovertible syllogisms. “John indeed did no miracle,” “but this man doth,” saith some one; “hence therefore his superiority is shown. If therefore men19 believed him who did no miracles, much more must they believe this man.” Then, since it was John who bore the witness, lest his having done no miracle might seem to prove him unworthy of being a witness,20 they added, “Yet if he did no miracle, still he spake all things truly concerning this man”; no longer proving Christ to be trustworthy by means of John, but John to be so by what Christ had done.

Ver. 42. “Many therefore believed on Him.”21 There were many things that attracted them. They remembered the words which John had spoken, calling Christ “mightier than himself,” and “light,” and “life,” and “truth,” and all the rest. They remembered the Voice which came down from heaven, and the Spirit which appeared in the shape of a dove, and pointed Him out to all; and with this they recollected the demonstration afforded by the miracles, looking to which they were for the future established. “For,” saith some one, “if it was fight that we should believe John, much more ought we to believe this man; if him without miracles, much more this man, who besides the testimony of John, hath also the proof22 from miracles.” Seest thou howmuch the abiding in this place, and the being freed from the presence of evil men, profiled them? wherefore Jesus continually leadeth and draweth them away from the company of those persons; as also He seemeth to have done under the old Covenant, forming and ordering the Jews in all points, in the desert, at a distance from the Egyptians.

And this He now adviseth us also to do, bidding us avoid public places, and tumults, and disturbances, and pray peacefully in the chamber. For the vessel which is free from confusion, sails with a fair wind, and the soul which is separated from worldly matters rests in harbor. Wherefore women ought to have more true wisdom than men, because they are for the most part riveted to keeping at home. So, for instance, Jacob was a plain23 man, because he dwelt at home, and was free from the bustle of public life; for not without a cause hath Scripture put this, when It saith, “dwelling in a house.” (Gen. xxv. 27.) “But,” saith some woman, “even in a house there is great confusion.” Yes, when thou wilt have it so, and bringest about thyself a crowd of cares. For the man who spends his time in the midst of the market-places and courts of justice is overwhelmed, as if by waves, by external troubles; but the women who sits in her house as in some school of true wisdom, and collects her thoughts within herself, will be enabled to apply herself to prayers, and readings, and other heavenly wisdom. And as they who dwell in deserts have none to disturb them, so she being continually within can enjoy a perpetual calm. Nor even if at any time she need to go forth, is there then any cause for confusion. For the necessary occasions for a women to leave her house are, either for the purpose of coming hither, or when the body need to be cleansed in the bath; but for the most part she sits at home, and it is possible for her both to be herself truly wise, and receiving her husband when agitated to calm and compose him, to abate the excess and fierceness of his thoughts, and so to send him forth again, having put off all the mischiefs which he collected from the market-place, and carrying with him whatever good he learnt at home. For nothing, nothing is more powerful than a pious and sensible women to bring a man into proper order, and to mould his soul as she will. For he will not endure friends, or teachers, or rulers, as he will his partner advising and counseling him, since the advice carries even some pleasure with it, because she who gives the counsel is greatly loved. I could tell of many hard and disobedient men who have been softened in this way. For she who shares his table, his bed, and his embraces, his words and secrets, his comings in and goings out, and many other things, who is entirely given up24 and joined to him, as it is likely that a body would be joined to a head, if she happen to be discreet and well attuned, will go beyond and excel all others in the management of her husband.

[4.] Wherefore I exhort women to make this their employment, and to give fitting counsel. For as they have great power for good, so have they also for evil. A women destroyed Absalom, a woman destroyed Amnon, a woman was like to have destroyed Job, a woman rescued Nabal from the slaughter. Women have preserved whole nations; for Deborah and Judith exhibited successes worthy of men; so also do ten thousand other women. Wherefore Paul saith, “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shall save thy husband?” (1 Cor, vii. 16.) And in those times we see Persis and Mary and Priscilla taking part in the labors25 of the Apostles (Rom. 16); whom we26 also needs must imitate, and not by words only, but also by actions, bring into order him that dwelleth with us. But how shall we instruct him by our actions? When he sees that thou art not evilly disposed, not fond of expense or ornament, not demanding extravagant supplies of money, but content with what thou hast, then will he endure thee counseling him. But if thou art wise in word, and in actions doest the contrary, he will condemn thee for very foolish talking. But when together with words thou affordest him also instruction by thy works, then will he admit thee and obey thee the more readily; as when thou desirest not gold, nor pearls, nor costly clothing, but instead of these, modesty, sobriety, kindness; when thou exhibitest these virtues on thy part and requirest them on his. For if thou must needs do somewhat to please thy husband, thou shouldest adorn thy soul, not adorn and so spoil thy person. The gold which thou puttest about thee will not make thee so lovely and desirable to him, as modesty and kindness towards himself, and a readiness to die for thy partner; these things most subdue men. Indeed, that splendor of apparel even displeases him, as straitening his means, and causing him much expense and care; but those things which I have named will rivet a husband to a wife; for kindness and friendship and love cause no cares, give rise to no expense, but quite the contrary. That outward adornment becomes palling by use, but that of the soul blooms day by day, and kindles a stronger flame. So that if thou wouldest please thy husband. adorn thy soul with modesty, piety, and management of the house. These things both subdue him more, and never cease. Age destroys not this adornment, sickness wastes it not. The adornment of the body length of time is wont to undo, sickness and many other things to waste, but what relates to the soul is above all this. That adornment causes envy, and kindles jealousy, but this is pure from disease, and free from all vainglory. Thus will matters at home be easier, and your income without trouble, when the gold is not laid on about your body or encircling your arms, but passes on27 to necessary uses, such as the feeding of servants, the necessary care of children, and other useful purposes. But if this be not the case, if the (wife’s) face becovered with ornaments, while the (husband’s) heart is pressed by anxiety, what profit, what kind of advantage is there? The one being grieved allows not the marvelous beauty of the other to be seen. For ye know, ye know that though a man see the most beautiful of all women, he cannot feel pleasure at the sight while his soul is sorrowful, because in order to feel pleasure a man must first rejoice and be glad. And when all his gold is heaped together to adorn a woman’s body, while there is distress in his dwelling, her partner can have no pleasure. So that if we desire to be agreeable to our husbands, let us give them pleasure; and we shall give them pleasure, if we remove our ornaments and fineries. For all these things at the actual time of marriage appear to afford some delight, but this afterwards fades by time. Since if when the heaven is so beautiful, and the sun, to which thou canst not name any body that is equal, so bright, we admire them less from habitually seeing them, how shall we admire a body tricked out with gewgaws? These things I say, desiring that you should be adorned with that wholesome adornment which Paul enjoined; “Not with gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Tim. ii. 9, 10.) But dost thou wish to please strangers, and to be praised by them? Then assuredly this is not the desire of a modest woman. However, if thou wishest it, by doing as I have said, thou wilt have strangers also to love thee much, and to praise thy modesty. For the woman who adorns her person no virtuous and sober person will praise, but the intemperate and lascivious; nay, rather neither will these praise her, but will even speak vilely of her, having their eyes inflamed by the wantonness displayed about her; but the other all will approve, both the one sort and the other, because they receive no harm from her, but even instruction in heavenly wisdom. And great shall be her praise from men, and great her reward with God. After such adornment then let us strive, that we may live here without fear, and may obtain the blessings which are to come; which may we all obtain through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. source.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 18

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013


THE royal poet will sing a song of heartfelt praise and thanks for the special favours and mercies which God has granted to him. He has been rescued from many perils, and raised to the highest honours. In verses 2-7 we have a sort of summary of the psalm. The poet was in extreme peril through the plotting of his foes: he called on the Lord for help and was rescued. In verses 8-20 he describes the manner of his rescue. In a thunderstorm the Lord came down, and overwhelmed, and scattered his enemies. In verses 21-25 we are told that the merciful intervention of the Lord was due to the poet’s piety, and loyalty to God’s Law; for (as is shown in verses 26-31) to the pious God showeth favour, and dealeth out mercy. Once more (verses 32-46) the singer returns to what God has done for him. He has protected him in battle, smitten his foes, and humbled strange peoples beneath his rule. The poem closes (verses 47-51) with the solemnly expressed resolution of the psalmist to praise his Lord among the gentiles.

This poem appears also in 2 Samuel 22, as a poem of David. Though the text of 2 Sam 22, differs in a number of small points from the psalm-text, it is obviously the same poem as the one we have here. The Davidic origin of Psalm 18 is thus assured in a very satisfactory fashion. Internally the poem points to such an author as David. The poet is a general, and a king, and a victorious leader, who subdues peoples hitherto unknown to Israel. All this suits David better than any other king of Israel. The description of the coming of God in the thunderstorm reminds one of Hebrew poetry of the most ancient period (cf. Judges 5:4-5, and the Song of Deborah generally). We may, therefore, confidently accept the Davidic authorship of this poem. The circumstances of its composition (verse 1) are described in 2 Sam 22, in the same way as here.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013


THIS psalm is, for the most part, a complaint over the apparent failure of the House of David. The poem was composed in a time of political disaster. The House of David seems to be, for the moment, overthrown. The walls and fortifications of Jerusalem have been reduced to ruins. Everywhere is disgrace and shame. The precise period of Jewish history which is reflected in the psalm cannot be determined, but there is less reason for ascribing the poem to the Maccabean, than to the pre-Restoration, post-Exilic period. The Messianic outlook of the psalm is not that of the Maccabean period.

In the misery of the time the psalmist seeks to comfort his people with the thought of Yahweh’s power and His fidelity to His promises. He begins in hymn-like style with the praise of God’s kindness and truth. Sad as the time is, there is still ground for hope. The Lord has promised great things to David, and the things which He has promised must come to pass, for the graciousness and truth of Yahweh are as firm as the heavens (vv. 2-5).

In verses 6-18 the heavens burst forth into a hymn of praise in which the might and the fidelity of Yahweh are extolled. Yahweh is greater than all the angels. There is none like Him in the heavens. By His might He subdued the powers of Chaos, and built up the heavens and the earth. The mountains rejoice at His strength, for His arm onty is strong. Yet not by force does He rule: kindness and truth are the stay of His throne. In spite of all, then, Israel must be happy and hopeful, for Yahweh is Israel’s God and King, and the shout of joy at Yahweh’s great festivals is yet known in the land. Once again will the horn of Israel be upraised. ‘Yea,’ answer the people in verse 19, ‘our King whom we look for, our Shield, is the possession of the mighty and faithful God, Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel.’

In verses 20-38 the psalmist reflects at length on the ancient Messianic oracles, and, above all, on the promise of Nathan to David (2 Sam 7). This section of the poem is a poetic paraphrase of the oracle of Nathan. The Davidic Dynasty is depicted as the dynasty to which the Messianic Kingdom is to be entrusted, and that Kingdom is represented chiefly as an external world-power. Its King is the ‘first-born’ and the mightiest of the kings of earth (cf. Ps 2:7; Ps 72:11). So firmly is the Messianic hope attached to the House of David that even the transgression of Davidic kings will not make void the promise made through Nathan to David. Transgressing kings will be punished, but the pact with David will stand firm. What God has once sworn He will not repent of. The Throne of David will be firm as long as sun and moon endure. He that has sworn is God, and God—’the Witness in heaven’—is true.

In verses 39-46 the psalmist utters his complaint. The present bitterly contrasts with all the glorious fortune that God had promised through Nathan. The King of Israel has been overthrown: Jerusalem is in ruins: the hostile peoples round about show their contempt for the city and the people, and are not rebuked. God has raised the enemies of the House of David aloft, and has gladdened all its foes. The sharp sword of the Davidic king God has turned aside in battle, and the throne of David, which was to stand firm as heaven, God has cast down. The days of Israel’s glory have been shortened, and she is covered with shame.

In verses 47-52 the psalmist prays almost peremptorily for a change in the attitude of God. The life of men is short, and if God does not make haste, the end of Israel will come speedily. Yahweh is reminded urgently, and indeed, as it were, threateningly, of His promises. Surely God will not forget His words—the words which He swore to David! Surely He will not permit the enemies of His people to mock Israel and Israel’s God. Surely He will requite the scorn with which the Gentiles have scorned the Davidic Dynasty!

Verse 53 is the Doxology marking the close of the third book of the Psalms.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 7:31-39

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013

Ver 31. And many of the people believed in him, and said, When Christ comes, will he do more miracles than these which this man has done?32. The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.33. Then said Jesus to them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go to him that sent me.34. You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come.35. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?36. What manner of saying is this that he said, You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come?

AUG. And many of the people believed in Him. Our Lord; brought the poor and humble to be saved. The common people, who soon saw their own infirmities, received His medicine without hesitation.

CHRYS. Neither had these however a sound faith; but took up a low way of speaking, after the manner of the multitude: When Christ comes, will He do more miracles than this Man has done? Their saying, When Christ comes, shows that they were not steady in believing that He was the Christ: or rather, that they did not believe He was the Christ at all; for it is the same as if they said, that Christ, when He came, would be a superior person, and do more miracles. Minds of the grosser sort are influenced not by doctrine, but by miracles.

AUG. Or they mean, If there are not to be two Christs, this is He. The rulers however, possessed with madness, not only refused to acknowledge the physician, but even wished to kill Him: The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to take Him.

CHRYS. He had discoursed often before, but they had never so treated Him. The praises of the multitude however now irritated them; though the transgression of the sabbath still continued to be the reason put forward. Nevertheless, they were afraid of taking this step themselves, and sent officers instead.

AUG. Not being able to take Him against His will, they sent men to hear Him teach. Teach what? Then said Jesus to them, Yet a little while I am with you.

CHRYS. He speaks with the greatest humility: as if to say, Why do you make such haste to kill Me? Only wait a little time.

AUG. That which you wish to do now, you shall do sometime, but not now: because it is not My will. For I wish to fulfill My mission in due course, and so to come to My passion.

CHRYS. In this way He astonished the bolder part of the multitude, and made the earnest among them more eager to hear Him; so little time being now left, during which they could have the benefit of His teaching. He does not say, I am here, simply; but, I am with you; meaning, Though you persecute Me, I will not cease fulfilling my part towards you, teaching you the way to salvation, anti admonishing you. What follows, And I go to Him that sent Me, was enough to excite some fear.

THEOPHYL. As if He were going to complain of them to the Father: for if they reviled Him who was sent, no doubt they did an injury to Him that sent.

BEDE. I go to Him that sent Me: i.e. I return to My Father, at whose command I became incarnate. He is speaking of that departure, from which He has never returned.

CHRYS. That they wanted His presence, appears from His saying, You seek Me, and shall not find Me. But when did the Jews seek Him? Luke relates that the women lamented over Him: and it is probable that many others did the same. And especially, when the city was taken, would they call Christ and His miracles to remembrance, and desire His presence.

AUG. Here He foretells His resurrection: for the search for Him was to take place after His resurrection, when men were conscience stricken. They would not acknowledge Him, when present; afterward they sought Him, when they saw the multitude believing on Him; and many pricked in their hearts said, What shall we do? They perceived that Christ’s death was owing to their sin, and believed in Christ’s pardon to sinners; and so despaired of salvation, until they drank of that blood which they shed.

CHRYS. Then lest any should think that His death would take place in the common way, He adds, And where I am, thither you cannot come. If He continued in death, they would be able to go to Him: for we all are going thitherwards.

AUG. He does not say, Where I shall be, but Where I am. For Christ was always there in that place, whither He was about to return: He returned in such a way, as that He did not forsake us. Visibly and according to the flesh, He was upon earth; according to His invisible majesty, He was in heaven and earth. Nor again is it, you will not be able, but, you are not able to come: for they were not such at the time, as to be able. That this is not meant to drive men to despair, is shown by His saying the very same thing to His disciples; Whither I go, you cannot come; and by His explanation last of all to Peter, Whither I go, you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterwards.

CHRYS. He wants them to think seriously how little time longer He should be with them, and what regret they will feel when He is gone, and they are not able to find Him. I go to Him that sent Me; this shows that no injury was done Him by their plots, and that His passion was voluntary. The words had some effect upon the Jews, who asked each other, where they were to go, which was like persons desiring to be quit of Him: Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go to the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? In the fullness of their self-satisfaction, they call them Gentiles, as a term of reproach; the Gentiles being dispersed every where; a reproach which they themselves underwent afterwards. Of old all the nation was united together: but now that the Jews were mixed with the Gentiles in every part of the world, our Lord would not have said, Whither I go, you cannot come, in the sense of going to the Gentiles.

AUG. Whither I go, i.e. to the bosom of the Father. This they did not at all understand: and yet even their mistake is an unwitting prophecy of our salvation; i.e. that our Lord would go to the Gentiles, not in His own person, but by His feet, i.e. His members. He sent to us those whom He had made His members, and so made us His members.

CHRYS. They did not mean, that our Lord was going to the Gentiles for their hurt, but to teach them. Their anger had subsided, and they believed what He had said. Else they would not have thought of asking each other, What manner of saying is this that He said, you shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and whither I am, you cannot come.

Ver 37. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.38. He that believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

CHRYS. The feast being over, and the people about to return home, our Lord gives them provisions for the way: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.

AUG. The feast was then going on, which is called scenopegia, i.e. building of tents.

CHRYS. Which lasted seven days. The first and last days were the most important; In the last day, that great day of the feast, says the Evangelist. Those between were given chiefly to amusements. He did not then make the offer on the first day, or the second, or the third, lest amidst the excitements that were going on, people should let it slip from their minds, He cried out, on account of the great multitude of people present.

THEOPHYL. To make Himself audible, inspire confidence in others, and show an absence of all fear in Himself.

CHRYS. If any thirsts: as if to say, I use no compulsion or violence: I but if any have the desire strong enough, let him come.

AUG. For there is an inner thirst, because there is an inner man: and the inner man of a certainty loves more than the outer. So then if we thirst, let us go not on our feet, but on our affections, not by change of place, but by love.

CHRYS. He is speaking of spiritual drink, as His next words show: He that believes in Me, as the Scripture truth said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But where here does the Scripture say this? No where. What then? We should read, He that believes in Me, as said the Scripture, putting the stop here; and then, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: the meaning being, that that was a right kind of belief, which was formed on the evidence of Scripture, not of miracles. Search the Scriptures, he had said before. JEROME. Or this testimony is taken from the Proverbs, where it is said, Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

AUG. The belly of the inner man, is the heart’s conscience. Let him drink from that water, and his conscience is quickened and purified; he drinks in the whole fountain, nay, becomes the very fountain itself. But what is that fountain, and what is that river, which flows from the belly of the inner man? The love of his neighbor. If any one, who drinks of the water, thinks that it is meant to satisfy himself alone, out of his belly there does not flow living water. But if he does good to his neighbor, the stream is not dried up, but flows.

GREG. When sacred preaching flows from the soul of the faithful, rivers of living water, as it were, run down from the bellies of believers. For what are the entrails of the belly but the inner part of the mind; i.e. a right intention, a holy desire, humility towards God, mercy toward man.

CHRYS. He says, rivers, not river, to show the copious and overflowing power of grace: and living water, i.e. always moving; for when the grace of the Spirit has entered into and settled in the mind, it flows freer than any fountain, and neither fails, nor empties, nor stagnates. The wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the strength of Paul, are evidences of this. Nothing hindered them; but, like impetuous torrents, they went on, carrying every thing along with them.

AUG. What kind of drink it was, to which our Lord invited them, the Evangelist next explains; But this He spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. Whom does the Spirit mean, but the Holy Spirit; For every man has within him his own spirit.

ALCUIN. He promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles before the Ascension; He gave it to them in fiery tongues, after the Ascension. The Evangelist’s words, Which they that believe in Him should receive, refer to this.

AUG. The Spirit of God was, i.e. was with God, before now; but was not yet given to those who believed on Jesus; for our Lord had determined not to give them the Spirit, till He was risen again: The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

CHRYS. The Apostles indeed cast out devils by the Spirit before, but only by the power which they had from Christ. For when He sent them, it is not said, He gave them the Holy Spirit, but, He gave to them power. With respect to the Prophets however, all agree that the Holy Spirit was given to them but this grace had been withdrawn from the world.

AUG. Yet we read of John the Baptist, He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb. And Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied. Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied of our Lord. And so were Simeon and Anna, that they might acknowledge the greatness of the infant Christ. We are to understand then that the giving of the Holy Spirit was to be certain, after Christ’s exaltation, in a way in which it never was before. It was to have a peculiarity at His coming, which it had not before. For we no where read of men under the influence of the Holy Spirit, speaking with tongues which they had never known, as then took place, when it was necessary to evidence His coming by sensible miracles.

AUG. If the Holy Spirit then is received now, why is there no one who speaks the tongues of all nations? Because now the Church herself speaks the tongues of all nations. Whoso is not in her, neither does he now receive the Holy Spirit. But if only you love unity, whoever has any thing in her, has it for you. Put away envy, and that which I have is yours. Envy separates, love unites: have it, and you have all things: whereas without it nothing that you can have, will profit you. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which its given to us. But why did our Lord give the Holy Spirit after His resurrection? That the flame of love might mount upwards to our own resurrection: separating us from the world, and devoting us wholly to God. He who said, He that believes in Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, has promised life eternal, free from all fear, and change, and death. Such then being the gifts which He promised to those in whom the Holy Spirit kindled the flame of love, He would not give that Spirit till He was glorified: in order that in His own person He might show us that life, which we hope to attain to in the resurrection.

AUG. If this then is the cause why the Holy Spirit was not yet given; viz. because Jesus was not yet glorified; doubtless, the glorification of Jesus when it took place, was the cause immediately of its being given. The Cataphryges, however, said that they first received the promised Paraclete, and thus strayed from the Catholic faith. The Manichaeans too apply all the promises made respecting the Holy Spirit to Manichaeus, as if there were no Holy Spirit given before.

CHRYS. Or thus; By the glory of Christ, He means the cross. For, whereas we were enemies, and gifts are not made to enemies, but to friends, it was necessary that the victim should be first offered up, and the enmity of the flesh removed; that, being made friends of God, we might be capable of receiving the gift.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 7:32-39

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2013

32 The chief priests and Pharisees heard the people murmuring these things concerning Him.

The multitude are with great reason indignant against their rulers. For they were making a great outcry respecting our Saviour Christ, not because He was a wondrous Wonder-worker and beyond expectation, nor yet because He came telling of things better than the legal worship; but because He was not yet accepted by the chief priests and Pharisees, albeit having glory answerable to what was spoken of Christ, and no whit inferior to what the common reports tell of Him, or the word of the holy Prophets fore-heralded. So then they justly accuse them of being overcome with envy rather than really caring for the salvation of the people. But the constant utterance of blame as to this does not escape the knowledge of the rulers, and the multitude (it seems) gave them offence, now reasonably astonished at the Lord, and thirsting exceedingly to believe on Him, and already ill enduring the yoke of the rulers’ arrogance, and essaying to do that which is said in the Psalms, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their yoke from us. For by not subjecting the mind of the people to the commands of the Law, but placing them in subjection to their own inventions, and teaching for doctrines the commands of men, they, leaving the right way and beaten track were conducting among precipices and foot-falls, those who were even now ready to be saved and of themselves were being led to rightness of conception.

And the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to take Him.

Albeit the Law declared, The innocent and righteous thou shalt not slay, and every where clearly crieth aloud, Thou shalt not be with the multitude to do evil, the guardians of the Law desire to kill, overbearing in respect of esteeming Moses’ Law holy, and accustomed to blame every one who did not live in the same way. But caring nothing for the Law in these matters, and so to say, spurning its most precious things, they are zealous to take in their meshes |535 Him That had done no wrong at all, but rather is now by His very works accredited that He is indeed the Christ. And surely (some one will reasonably say) these ungodly rulers of the Jews ought, since they are learned in the Divine Oracles and skilled in the Divine Laws, rather to speak to the multitudes, to turn aside their clamour hereat by reasonable arguments, and to thrust aside all suspicions of envy, and turn them to think as they should do, if in ought they, travailing with right surmises about Christ, seemed to have fallen therefrom: they ought to have proved by testimonies from the Prophets and, going in short through the whole Divine Scripture, to have cleansed the multitude from their errors and, as knowing more, to have taught them clearer truth about Christ. But finding no defence from thence, in fear of the holy Scripture, as finding that it agreed with the multitude in accusing them, they fall into shameless daring, and strive to make away with Christ, not being able to convict Him of any offence. And most intolerable of all, this resolution is that not of chance people, but the daring deeds of the chief Priests coincident in mind with the Pharisees, albeit they ought to have led them inasmuch as they were superior through the office of the priesthood and, since they had the first place through this, they ought to have shewn themselves guides in thoughts of good also, and to have taken the lead in counsel not counter to God. But since they are outside of any good disposition, and have cast the Divine Law behind their own imaginations, they are carried to that alone which pleased their own undiscerning impulses. For the head has become the tail, as it is written. For he that is chief follows, and consenting to the impiety of the Pharisees, makes now his unbridled attacks against Christ too. But without a cause is ever found to be the war of the wicked against the pious, and the mode of their contest so to speak halteth, unaided by the auxiliaries of reasonable causes, and merely hampered by the disease of envy. For since they are not able to compete with their mighty deeds, nor through equal strength of soul to attain corresponding glory, or even by |536 better deeds to be seen in better case, they fall into savage-ness of mind, and foolishly arm themselves against the praises of those who surpass them, zealous for the destruction of what makes them to be disgraced. For evil is ever convicted by juxta-position with the better. For they ought rather to desire by equal actions to equal them, and to be zealous rather to do and think the same with those who are praised. But it was likely that the Pharisees should be bitterly disposed. For since they perceived that the multitudes were murmuring, and even now in common talk one to another saying, Is not This He Whom they seek to kill? lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him: do the rulers know that He is the Christ? repelling again this supposition with the wickedness that was their foster sister, they give orders to bind Him, and send out officers to accomplish this very purpose.

33 Jesus therefore said unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him That sent Me.

The Lord is not ignorant, inasmuch as He is by Nature God, of the Pharisees’ bloodthirsty deeds of daring, and of the unholy design of the chief priests against Himself. For with the Eyes of Deity He beholds now present and mingled with the multitudes, the servants who had been chosen by them to take Him. Therefore He makes His answer common indeed as to all the people standing round, yet having a special answer to them, and at the same time teaches much that is profitable. For He threatens them skilfully, yea He convicts them of pettiness of soul in regard to those things at which they ought to be pleased: and that in another way should their attempt be frustrate, even though it were to take place‘, and how, we will say, going through the whole account. For in saying, Yet a little while am I with you, He evidently all but teaches them, Tell Me (says He) why are ye indignant as though I were lingering too long in this world? I am burdensome to you, I confess it, and am no great pleasure to those who honour not virtue; dashing in pieces him who loves not |537 God, and smiting at times with My rebukes the ungodly, I am not ignorant that I have wrought hatred for Myself. But do not thus untimely spread forth the net of death for Me. Yet a little while shall I be with you, I shall depart with joy, when the fit time for My Passion comes, nor shall I endure any more to be with evil men (for not pleasant to Me, He says, is the abode with the bloodthirsting) I shall depart from the ungodly, as God, but shall be with Mine Own all the days of the world, even though I seem to be absent in the Flesh. But in saying, I go to Him That sent Me, He means something again of this kind: In. vain did ye sharpen against Me (He says) the sword of your own blasphemy. Why do ye tear yourselves to pieces with fruitless counsels? stay the weapon of envy, for it is shot forth for nothing: it will not subject Life to death, neither will corruption have the better of incorruption. I shall not be holden of the gates of Hades, I shall not be a dead body in your graves, I shall fly up to Him from Whom I am, I shall ascend again to Heaven, seen as an accusation of your blasphemy by both angels and men. For the one shall marvel at My going up, the other when they meet Me shall say, What are these Wounds in Thine Hands? And I shall say unto them, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My beloved. The speech then has been made in great meekness and exceeding gentleness, for our example in this too: whence Paul also says that the servant of God must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. For it behoves the pious mind to be free from all tumult and the fierce motions of wrath, and to study to refuse as a wild onslaught of waves what comes of pettiness of soul, and to rejoice in thoughts of meekness like breezeless calms, and to love to live as much as possible in longsuffering, to shew himself forbearing to all, and hold fast a mind wholly good, and make his conversation with his enemies not unseemly.

34 Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me. 

This too He says skilfully and with much gentleness. |538 For it means what taken generally is not difficult of comprehension, yet contains it some keen mystery hidden within it. For when He says that He shall ascend to Him That sent Him, that is, to God the Father, even though they yet attempt to plot against Him, and do not cease from persecuting Him, He is saying that He That hath ascended into the very Heavens can never be taken by them. But the truer meaning and that which is darkly signified, is this: I (He says) was sent to give you life, I came to take away from human nature death which from transgression fell upon it, and with long-suffering to bring back to . God those who through sin had stumbled: I came to engraft the Divine and Heavenly Light in those in darkness, and moreover to preach the Gospel to the poor, to give recovery of sight to the blind, to preach deliverance to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And since it seems good to you in your senselessness to drive forth from you Him who sets before you so rich enjoyment of heavenly goods, after a little I Myself will take Me again to Him from Whom I am, and YE shall repent, and consumed by unavailing after-counsels weep bitterly for yourselves, and though ye should fain find yet the Giver of Life, ye shall not then be able to enjoy Him ye long for. For after having once turned aside and departed from My Love towards you, I shall wholly shut out from you what is profitable to seek after.

Something of this kind we shall also find in the preachings of the Prophets concerning them. For a certain one saith of them of Jerusalem, With sheep and bullocks shall they go to seek the Lord, and shall not find Him, for He hath withdrawn from them. For they who would not when it was in their power choose Life, and with foolish reasonings thrust away the good that was in their power, how shall they be fit any more to receive it? and they who made no account of missing the opportunity, how can they have the good things out of their season? For it is while the opportunity exists and is yet present, that we must seek for the good things that are in it and of it, but when it is now |539 passed away and gone by, superfluous at last and most vain is all seeking after the good things it contained. And verily the blessed Paul saith, Behold, now is the accepted time, behold now the day of salvation, and also, While we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men. For indeed, indeed it beseems those who are good in their habits, not when opportunity is now passing her prime, to have to seek forher good things, but rather when she is commencing and shewing so to say, her most blooming presence.

And one might yet say much more about occasion out of the Divine Scripture, but leaving it for the labour-loving to search them out, I will say a little thing common, and in use among us, but which yet has no mean profit. They say then that those who make pictures on tablets, when they represent occasion in human form, represent the remaining fashion of her body as pleases them, but the head alone like this. They represent her behind as bald and very smooth, touching it with brilliant tints: but from the middle of the scull, they hang much hair over the forehead, full in front and flowing: by this form itself signifying, that while any occasion still exists, and meets us, so to say, face to face, it may easily be laid hold of, but when it is now passed, how can it any longer be taken hold of? being as it were bushy and easy to hold, while yet present, but when passed, no longer. For this the smoothness behind indicates, which all but mocks the hand of him that would hold it. Since then when occasions are passed, we have not what they bring, let us not slumber when good things are present, but rather watch, and not when search is useless, unwisely use diligence to catch what is profitable.

And where I am, YE cannot come.

With greatest gentleness does He again put the race of the Jews forth from the kingdom of Heaven, adding words correspondent to those that He had already uttered, yet concealing therein a deep Mystery. For applying our mind more simply to the words, and admitting a more surface consideration thereof, we say that it signifies something of this sort, that He will in no wise be apprehensible by |540 them, nor yet will fall into their meshes, having gone back to the Father. For not accessible to them shall be the Heaven too, and He That sitteth by God the Father Himself, how shall He be to be taken of them that seek Him? This one word therefore is not deep, but more suited to the levity of the Jews, and superior to 2 their understandings (for they are found ever to mind what is more low): but the exact and secret mind of the things said is after this sort; I (He says) having escaped the snare of your unholiness, shall be received back to God the Father; for I shall surely prevent in My departure My worshippers, in order that having shewn the way that upward tends, passable to them too, I may have all with Myself. But YE cannot come where I am, that is, ye shall be found without lot in the Divine good things, ye shall be without share in My glory and alien from co-reigning with the saints, untasting shall ye abide of the gift that is in hope, unfeasting shall ye be of the Divine marriage-feast, Mine assemblyshall ye not see, ye shall not ascend up to the mansions above, nor shall behold the beauty of the Church of the first-born, unseen of you shall be the city that is above, ye shall not behold Jerusalem in her prosperity 3: for there shall My flock glorify Me, YE cannot come. For the Heaven will not receive slayers of her Lord, nor the Cherubim open the gates of Paradise for a people to enter in who fight against God, never shall a man guilty of impiety against God appease the flaming sword, it only knows the pious man and honours the devout, and makes faith its covenant of peace.

Some such thought as this shall we bring to what has been said, from all sides tracking the sense which is true and befits those who have understanding. But we will add to them some few things, shewing for profit’s sake that all who attain unto devout habits, shall both be with and feast with Christ: but they who go along with Jewish |541 unlearning, not so (whence could it be?), but shall undergo the bitter punishme’nt of their unbelief. Let then the Divine Paul come in crying aloud to those who have died to sin, For ye died and your life has been hidden with Christ in God: when Christ, your Life, shall appear, then shall YE also appear with Him in glory: and again putting forth his discourse on the resurrection, he says. And we which are alive, which remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. And things akin to this is the Saviour Himself too seen discoursing of to His disciples. For as He sat and did eat with them, He says, But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of Heaven: yea and to the robber who hung on high along with Him, at the very gates of death through faith in Him seizing on the grace of the saints, He saith, Verily, verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. They then who by obedience have honoured Him, shall be with Him unhindered, and shall delight them in the good things that pass understanding: but they who refuse not to insult Him with their folly, albeit sons of the bridechamber 4, shall go away in sorrow to hell, to pay bitter penalties. For they shall be cast out, as it is written, into the outer darkness. True therefore will be the Lord saying darkly to the Jews, Where I am YE cannot come.

35 The Jews said then among themselves, Whither will this man go that WE shall not find Him? will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles and teach the Gentiles?

Seest thou herein again the wretchedness of Jewish reasonings? seest thou the most miserable surmise of grovelling mind? for they do not say that He will ascend up to Heaven, although they clearly heard, Yet a little while am I with you, and I go unto Him that sent Me, but they are imagining the country of the Gentiles, as though among them were He That sent Him, unto Whom He promised |542 to return. But the people of the Jews is hereby, as it seems, prophesying, albeit not knowing what it is saying. For moved by some Divine impulse they present Christ to the country of the Gentiles, in the way of a suspicion thinking of what a little after became true. For He was in truth about to go unto the Gentiles and teach them, spurning Jerusalem the ungrateful mother of the Jews.

But note that they do not speak of this simply: for they surmise that He will not only depart unto the dispersed of the Gentiles, but in their stubbornness add, and will He teach the Gentiles, that their suspicion may again beget for them a plea of accusal. For the having intercourse with the dispersed of the Gentiles by reason of going through their cities or countries, was a common thing among the Jews and unblamed, but to explain the Law to aliens and to unfold the Divine Mysteries to the uninitiated, was a matter of accusal and not unblamed by them. And verily God found fault with some who were indifferent about this, saying by the Prophet Jeremiah, And they read the Law without. Keenly then do they say that He will teach the Gentiles. casting a slur on Him as readily transgressing the Law, and from what He had afore wrought on the sabbath day, believing that to do all things without heed, even if they were counter to the Divine laws, was His habit and that He thought nothing of it.

37 In the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood and cried saying; If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.

We must search well in this too, what it is the most wise Evangelist is hinting with some extreme great care, calling the last day of the feast great, or what it was that induced our Lord Jesus Christ, as of some needful reason and belonging to the time, to say on it to the Jews, If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink. For He might have used other words, such as, I am the Light, I am the Truth. But turning His explanation to the matters of believing, He hath introduced the word, let him drink, as something |543 necessary and due to the matters of the feast. And the aim in what is before us I will endeavour briefly to say.

When therefore God was ordering what belongs to the feast of tabernacles, He says thus unto Moses, On the fifteenth day of the seventh month a feast of tabernacles unto the Lord, and ye shall offer whole burnt sacrifices and sacrifices seven days, and the first day shall be notable holy 5. Then after enjoining besides the mode of the sacrifices, He added again, And in the fifteenth day of this seventh month, ye shall offer whole burnt offerings unto the Lord seven days, and the first day a rest and the seventh 6 day a rest. And on the first day ye shall take you boughs of palm trees and thick branches of a tree and fruit of a goodly tree and willows and branches of agnus from the brook to rejoice withal. Having then already in the second book gone through every portion of the above cited passage and expended much discourse thereon, we will yet again make mention of it briefly 7. For we said that the feast of tabernacles signified the thrice longed for time of the resurrection: that the taking boughs and the fruit of a goodly tree, and the other things besides, meant a recovery of Paradise about to be given us again through Christ. But that since it is put at the end that one ought to take every thing out of the brook, and again to rejoice thereof, we said that our Lord Jesus Christ was compared to a brook, in Whom we shall find all delight and enjoyment in hope, and in Him shall delight us Divinely and spiritually. And that He is and is called spiritually a Brook, the most wise Psalmist too will testify to us, saying to God the Father about us, The children of men shall hope in the shadow of Thy wings: they shall be inebriated with the fatness of Thy House, and Thou shalt give them drink of the Brook of Thy delights. And the Lord Himself somewhere in the prophets |544 says, Behold I am inclining to them as a river of peace and as an overflowing brook.

Since then the Law used to call the first and the seventh day of the great feast notable, the holy Evangelist himself too called it great, not disregarding, it seems, the accustomed habit of the Jews. There being then in the ordinances about the feast a mention too of the brook, the Saviour shewing that He is Himself that brook which was fore-declared in the Law, says, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. For see how He removes the mind of the Jews away from the types in the letter and transfers fitly the things in figure, if at all they aid for the truth. For I (He says) am the Brook which by the Lawgiver was fore-proclaimed in the account of the feast. And if one must needs take branches of willow and agnus and thick branches of trees from the brook, and Christ is not strictly a brook, neither yet is the fashion of the feast really in these, but they will rather be symbols of spiritual things which shall be given to the pious through Christ.

But seeing that we discussed these things more at large in the second Book, as we have already said, we will not repeat ourselves, but will rather follow on to the next.

38 He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

He shews that vast and ageless is the reward of faith, and says that he who does not disbelieve shall revel in richest graces from God. For he shall be so replete with the gifts through the Spirit, as not only to fatten his own mind, but even to be able to overflow into others’ hearts, like the river stream gushing forth the God-given good upon his neighbour too. This very thing used He to enjoin the holy Apostles, saying, Freely ye received, freely give. And the wise and holy Paul too himself longing to be effectual unto this writes, For I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual gift. And one may see this most exceeding well in both the holy Evangelists and in the Evangelic teachers of the church, who on those who go to Christ through |545 faith pouring forth most plenteous word of inspired teaching, spiritually delight them, no more suffering them to thirst after the knowledge of the truth, with their wise soundings all but crying aloud into the heart of those who are being instructed. Wherefore the Psalmist rejoicing in spirit called out concerning them, The rivers lifted up, o Lord, the rivers lifted up their voices. Great and mighty sounded forth the word of the Saints, and into all the earth went forth their voice, as it is written, and unto the ends of the world their words. Such rivers did God, the God and Lord of all, promise to set forth to us, saying by the Prophet Isaiah, The beasts of the field shall honour Me, the dragons and the daughters of the owl, because I have given water in the wilderness and rivers in the thirsty ground to give drink to My chosen generation, My people whom I formed for Myself to shew forth My praises. Very evident then it is that the Saviour says that out of the belly of him that believeth shall come forth the grace that through the spirit giveth instruction and eloquence, whereof Paul too maketh mention saying, To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom.

It is good to know besides that the Saviour applied to His own words this saying, not exactly as it had been before put out by the Divine Scripture 8, but rather interpreting it according to its meaning. For we find of every one who honoureth and loveth God that he shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring whose water fails not. And what He says a little before to the woman of Samaria, this now too He clearly declares. For there He says, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be to him a well of water springing up into everlasting life: and here again carrying up the aim of His discourse to the same meaning, He says, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. |546

39 But this He said of the Spirit Which they that believe on Him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

The sense of what is before us demands for itself keen scrutiny and to understand sufficiently the depth of the mystery will be (and hardly) the achievement of much acumen. For one who revolves in his mind and looks at each of the holy Prophets, with reason goes first into deepthoughts, How was the Spirit not, albeit so great a choir of Prophets has been set forth who are found uttering in the Spirit the Divine mysteries concerning Christ in many words. For we do not go so far astray from fit thoughts, as to deem that the mind of the saints was bereft of the Spirit. For there shames us and as of necessity calls us unto the belief that they were in truth Spirit-clad, the very fact of prophecy and the things found in the holy writings.

For Samuel saith to Saul, The Spirit of the Lord shall spring upon thee and thou shalt be turned into another man, and of the blessed Elisha himself is it written, And it came to pass as the minstrel was playing that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself also testifieth of the blessed David that in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries. And many things may one readily heap up akin to what have been said, whereby one may exceeding easily see that the saints are Spirit-clad. But in things so obvious it were superfluous or even burdensome to weary with long discourse. How the Spirit was not, we must accurately search; for I think we must deem that the blessed Evangelist speaketh true. |547

Therefore the very truth, let God the All-wise, know; for we ought not too busily to apply ourselves to things above us. But as far as we can see by pious reasonings, something of this sort comes to us. This rational living thing on the earth, I mean man, was formed from the beginning in incorruption. And the cause of his incorrup-tion and of his abidance in all virtue was evidently that the Spirit from God indwelt him; for He breathed upon his face the breath of life, as it is written. But he having from that ancient deceit turned aside unto sin, then by degrees in succession received much advance thereto, along with the remaining good things he suffers the loss of the Spirit and so at length became not only subject to corruption but also prone to all sin. But when the Framer of all designed (doing exceeding excellently) to gather up all things in Christ, and willed to recover again the nature of man to its pristine state, He promises along with the rest to give anew to it the Holy Ghost also, for no otherwise was it possible to get back to unshaken stability in good things. He defines therefore the time of the Descent of the Spirit upon us, and promises saying, In those days (those of the Saviour that is) I will pour out (to wit of My Spirit) upon all flesh. But since the time of this munificence brought the Only Begotten upon earth with Flesh, that is, made Man of a woman according to the Holy Scripture, God the Father began to give again the Spirit, and Christ first received the Spirit as First-fruits of the renewed nature. For John bare record saying, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven and It abode upon Him.

But He received It, how? for we must needs investigate what is said. Was it then as not having? we say not so, God forbid. For the Spirit is the Son’s Own, and not supplied from without, as the things from God come to us from without, but inexists in Him naturally even as in the Father, and through Him proceedeth to the saints, apportioned by the Father as beseems each. But He is said to have received, in that He became Man, and it beseemed man to receive. And He, Son of God the Father and |548 begotten of His Essence even before the Incarnation, yea rather before all ages, nothing shames when God the Father says to Him when He became Man, My Son art THOU, this day have I begotten Thee. For Him Who God before ages was begotten of Him, He says that He has this day begotten, that in Him He may receive us into sonship, for the whole human nature was in Christ, in that He was Man: so is He said to the Son who hath His Own Spirit, to give It, that we in Him may gain the Spirit. For this reason therefore does He take hold of the seed of Abraham, as it is written, and in all things was made like unto His brethren. The Only-Begotten therefore receives the Holy Ghost not for Himself (for His and in Him and through Him is the Spirit, as we before said) but, since He, having been made Man, had our whole nature in Himself, that He might uplift it all transfashioning it unto its olden state.

Besides what has been said, we must consider this too. For we shall see by going through wise reasonings, and confirmed thereto by words out of the Divine Scripture, that not for Himself did Christ receive the Spirit, but rather for us in Himself, for all good things flow through Him into us too. For since our forefather Adam being turned aside by deceit into disobedience and sin, did not preserve the grace of the Spirit, and thus in him the whole nature lost at last the God-given good, needs did God the “Word Who knows not turning, become Man, in order that by receiving as Man He might preserve the Good permanently to our nature. Of such mysteries will the Divine Psalmist himself too be our exponent: for thus saith he to the Son, Thou lovedst righteousness and hatedst wrong, therefore God, Thy God, anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. For since (says he) Thou ever lovedst righteousness (for Thou art Righteous, O God, never able to be turned aside therefrom) and hatedst wrong always (for hatred of evil is innate in Thee of Nature as the Righteous-loving God): therefore hath God the Father anointed Thee, for Thou Who possessest unchangeable Righteousness as an Excellence of Thine own Nature, couldest never |549 be moved unto sin which Thou knewest not: and thus, Thou preservedst undoubtedly in Thyself (in that Thou wert made Man) to the human Nature, the Holy Anointing from God the Father, i. e., the Spirit. The Only-Begotten was made therefore Man as we, that in Him first the good things returning and the grace of the Spirit rooted might be preserved securely to our whole nature, the Only Begotten and Word of God the Father lending us the Stability of His Own Nature, because the nature of man had been condemned in Adam as powerless for stability and falling (and that most easily) into perversion. As then in the turning of the first the loss of good things passes through unto the whole nature: in the same way I deem in Him too Who knoweth not turning will the gain of the abidance of the Divine Gifts be preserved to our whole race. And if we seem to any not to think and speak altogether what is proper, let him come forward and tell us why the Saviour has been called by the Divine Scriptures the Second Adam. For in that first one, the human race proceeds from not being unto being, and having come forth, decayed, because it had broken the Divine Law: in the Second, Christ, it riseth up again unto a second beginning, re-formed unto newness of life and unto a return of incorruption, for if ought be in Christ, a new creature, as Paul saith. There has therefore been given to us the renewing Spirit, that is, the Holy, the occasion of everlasting life after that Christ was glorified, i. e., after the Resurrection, when having burst the bonds of death and appeared superior to all corruption, He lived again having our whole nature in Himself, in that He was Man and One of us.

And if you investigate the reason why not before the resurrection but after it did the pouring forth of the Spirit take place, you will hear in reply, Christ became then the firstfruits of the renewed nature, when making none account of the bands of death He lived again as we have just now said. How then should those be quickened before the Firstfruit who come after It? For as the plant will |550 not shoot up from the earth, if it be not surely sprung from its own root (for thence is the beginning to it of growth): so it were impossible that we having for our root unto incorruption our Lord Jesus Christ, should be seen springing up before our root. But He shewing that the time of the Descent of the Spirit upon us was now come, after the revival from the dead, He breathed on His disciples, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. For then was the time of the renewal indeed at the doors, yea rather within the doors. And let the searcher after learning again see whether what we say on these things too be not true. For in the beginning, as said the Spirit-clad, Moses, to us, the Creator of all, taking dust of the ground and having formed man, breathed upon his face the breath of life. And what is the breath of life, save surely the Spirit of Christ Who saith, I am the Resurrection and the Life? But since He fled away from the human nature, the Spirit which is able to gather us and to form us unto the Divine Impress, the Saviour gives us this anew bringing us again unto that ancient Dignity and reforming us unto His own Image. For therefore does Paul too say to certain, Little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.

Let us consider again (for I will take up again the aim of my discourse) that in the holy Prophets there was a certain rich shining upon and torch-illumination from the Spirit, mighty to lead them to the apprehension of things to come and the knowledge of things hidden: but in those who believe on Christ, we are confident that not torch-illumination simply from the Spirit, but the Spirit Itself dwells and has His habitation. Whence rightly are we called temples too of God, though no one of the holy Prophets was ever called a Divine Temple. Since how shall we understand this, and what shall we say when we hear our Saviour Christ say, Verily verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he? And what is the |551 kingdom of Heaven? The gift of the Holy Ghost according to that which is said, The kingdom of Heaven is within you: for the Spirit hath His habitation in us through faith. Seest thou then how He preferreth before every one born of a woman him that is in the kingdom of Heaven even if he be below the perfect? And let no one think that we make little of the glory of the virtue of those Saints or say that those even of least account are superior. For we say not so; for incomparable is the beauty of their conversation. But for clear understanding let us briefly interpret what has been said by our Saviour. Great in truth was the blessed Baptist and through all virtue most renowned, attaining at last to the very bounds of that righteousness which belongs to us, so that there is nought above it. Yet did he who was in this case beseech of Christ saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee and dost THOU come to Me? Seest thou how being perfect, as far as pertained to men and the born of women, he beseeches to be in a manner new-created and re-born through the Holy Ghost? seest thou how he yields the greater to those new born, by his saying that himself has need of this? for if he were in better case not baptized, what persuaded him to beseech to be baptized? But if he knew that he would be in better case, when baptism came, how does he not yield the palm to those already baptized? Greater therefore than John himself does Christ say that he is who is lesser in the kingdom of Heaven, i. e. the new baptized, who has not as yet attained excellence in work;—-in this only that the blessed Baptist was yet born of a woman, but the other is begotten of God as it is written, and has become partaker of the Divine Nature, having indwelling in him the Holy Ghost and already called a temple of God.

But I will recur again to what was before us. The Spirit came to be in the Prophets for the need’s sake of prophesying, He indwelleth now through Christ in believers, having begun in Him first when He was made Man. For as God He has unceasingly the Spirit Who is |552 Essentially of His Nature and His own. He is anointed for our sakes and said to receive the Spirit as Man, not for Himself bringing in the participation of the Divine good things, but for the nature of man as we have already-taught. When then the Divine Evangelist says to us, For the Spirit was not yet because that Jesus was not yet glorified, let us understand him to mean the full and complete habitation in men of the Holy Ghost.

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