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Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

That oftentimes the departures of Christ from Jerusalem signify the transferring of His grace to the Gentiles: wherein is also the discourse of the five barley loaves and the two little fishes.

Chap. 6 And after these things Jesus departed across the sea of Tiberias.

FIRST I think it needful to tell my hearers, that the Lord evidently did not make His departures from Jerusalem without some most necessary reason. There is an economy on almost every occasion, and on the nature of things, as on a tablet, He inscribes mysteries. Of what nature then is the intent of the departure, and what is signified thereby, we will make manifest in its proper time, the chapters before us having reached their termination. For having divided every thing into sections, and interpreted what is profitable out of the Scriptures, and so set them before our readers for their understanding, we will offer the final consideration of the whole, epitomising in a summary what has been said in many portions. But I think we ought to speak first on what is now before us.

After these things (saith he) Jesus departed across the sea of Tiberias. After what things, must be sought not negligently. Christ then was manifested in Jerusalem as a wondrous Physician. He had healed the man who had been thirty and eight years in his infirmity, not by giving him any medicine, not by devising any disease-repelling remedy, but rather by a word, as God, by Almighty Authority and God-befitting beck: for Arise (saith He) take up thy bed, and go unto thy house. But since it was the sabbath, the Jews are ignorantly angry, who were sick with the grossness of the letter, who more than he, were bound by the folly that was their foster brother, who were sick of the listless want of all good things alike, who were paralytic in mind and enfeebled in habit, to whom might with reason be said, Strengthen ye, ye weak hands and ye palsied knees. But they are angry, saying that the honour due to the sabbath ought to be paid even by the Law-giver Himself; they condemn Christ as a transgressor, not admitting into their mind what is written, Impious is he who says to a king, Thou transgressest? For these things they received sharp reproofs from the Saviour, and much and long discourse was prepared to shew that the rest of the sabbath had been typically ordained for them of old and that the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath. But they prepared to no good thing, but full ready for all waywardness, rise up against Him Who teacheth what they ought to learn, and desire to kill Him who would make them wise, rewarding Him, as it is written, evil for good.

After these deeds therefore and words, the Lord, as of necessity, departs from Jerusalem, and since the Jews’ Passover was nigh (as we shall find a little further on) He sailed across the sea of Tiberias, or the lake in the country of the Jews so called. But since what principally drove Him away, and induced Him to withdraw and to go to other places and those so far removed from Jerusalem, was (we have just said) that the Jews’ Passover was nigh, I think it fitting to shew that exceeding well did Jesus eschew being found in Jerusalem at that time.

The Law of Moses then commanded that the Jews should hasten from the whole country round about to Jerusalem, there to celebrate in a type the feast of tabernacles. And the spiritual person will thence perceive the gathering together of all the Saints into Christ, when they shall be brought together from the whole world after the resurrection of the dead to the city which is above, the heavenly Jerusalem, there to offer the thank-offerings of the true pitching of tabernacles, that is of the framing and abidance of bodies, corruption having been destroyed and death fallen into death. As far as one can speak as to the fact of history, the multitude of them who went up to Jerusalem knew not number, and it was probable that at that time the Pharisees had great influence, making believe to take the part of the law, and mid so great a multitude crying out against the transgressor, or Him Who seemed to them to transgress. For it is not at all hard to fire up the countless swarm of common people, when one says that they are wronged and endeavours to stir them up even against those that have nothing wronged them. For like water or fire, they are flung about everywhere by unconsidered and random impulses, and advance to everything that can hurt. These things then the Lord not ignorant of, withdraws privily from Jerusalem with His disciples, and goes across the sea of Tiberias. But that He does exceeding well in shunning the Jews who desire to kill Him, we shall see by these things also. For the blessed Evangelist himself says, And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee, for He would not walk in Jewry because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.

That He avoids walking in Jewry, in order not to undergo death before His time, I will grant (will some one haply say) but whether He also avoids the feast, I do not yet know. They then that were reputed His brethren come to Christ in Galilee, saying, Depart hence and go into Judæa, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest. But the Lord answered them, Go YE up unto the feast, I go not up unto this feast, for My time hath not yet been fulfilled.

It is then very plain and clear, that the Saviour had withdrawn from Jerusalem, not only sent into voluntary banishment, so to say, from thence, but also loathing the abomination of the unbelieving, both by His skill eluding the fierceness of His persecutors, and by His prudence thrusting back the dart of envy. He withdraws again, albeit able to suffer nothing, even though He were present, that He may limn us a fair example, not of cowardice, but of piety and charity towards our neighbour. For we shall know, led as by a pattern to the knowledge of what is profitable, that if our enemies persecute us, even though no harm at all be seen in our remaining, yet by retiring, and thereby evading the broadside of the onslaughts, and retreating from present heat, we may find the anger of those who wrong us beyond its zenith, and may cut away the boldness of their arrogance, profiting those who were not good towards us, and that unjustly, rather than ourselves profited, which is plainly, not seeking our own but also others’ good. The work of love then, is the not wholly withstanding those who wish us evil, nor by being satisfied with not being able to suffer anything even if present, to work in them anger more bitter, from its not being able to attain the mastery over that which is hated. Love then, as Paul says, seeketh not her own, and this was purely in Christ.

But if you fix again the keen eye of the understanding upon what is written, you will be surprised to find a most excellent economy in the departures of our Saviour, I mean from Jerusalem. For He is driven out oftentimes by the mad folly of the Jews, and lodging with the aliens, seems both to be kept safe by them, and to enjoy due honour. Where by He gives judgment of superiority to the Church of the Gentiles, and through the piety of others, convicts them of Israel of their hatred of God, and shews the cruelty that is in them by means of the gentleness that is in these, that in every respect they may be proved to have been well and rightly thrust out of the promise to the fathers. But the Lord having hastened away from Jerusalem, lodges not at one of the cities round about, nor takes up His abode in the neighbouring villages, but goes across the sea of Tiberias, by a most evident act all but threatening those who blasphemously take up the idea that they ought to persecute Him, that He would so far depart from them and estrange Himself from their whole nation, as even to make the way of their conversion to Him in some sort impassable: for the sea can by no means be trodden by foot of man. Some such thing as this will He be found saying to them in what follows too, Ye shall seek Me and shall not find Me, and whither I go, YE cannot come. For most smooth and easy and free from ruggedness to those who by faith go to Him is the way of righteousness; rugged and up-hill, yea rather, wholly impassable to them that provoke Him, as is said by one of the holy Prophets, For right are the ways of the Lord, and the just shall walk in them, but the transgressors shall fail therein. Therefore the intervening tract of sea signifies the toilsomeness yea rather the impassableness by the Jews, of the way to Him, since God declares that He hedges up the ways of the ungodly soul, saying in the Prophets, Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and she shall not find her path. What then the thorns there signified, this here too the sea in that it separates the Insulted from those who chose recklessly to insult Him, and severs the Holy from the unholy.

But the type seems as though it were pregnant to us with yet another hidden mystery. For when Israel was sent forth from the country of the Egyptians, Pharaoh was following in exceeding exasperation and, maddened at the unexpected well-doing of the nation, was hastening by law of battle to dare his envious and grievous designs; he was following, thinking he should be able to constrain to return to bondage those who had late and hardly slipped away from under his serfdom: but God was leading His people through the midst of the sea; and he hotly pursuing, and by no means enduring to abate his anger, and foolishly persuaded of his ungoverned wrath to fight against God, was swallowed up in the midst thereof with his whole army, and Israel alone was saved. But let now too Moses come forward in the midst of us, who lamented beforehand the mad folly of the Jews, and let him in his indignation at their impiety towards Christ say to them, An evil and adulterous generation, do ye thus requite the Lord? Him that bare thee through the midst of the sea and through mighty waves thou drivest over the sea, and dost thou not blush at persecuting Him? Thine then is the suffering, O Jew: thee will the sea at last swallow up. For to the persecutors, not to the persecuted did death belong both then in their case, and now in regard of Christ and of the unholy Jews. The divine David too singeth to us, Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, hinting at the all-dread shipwreck of the Synagogue of the Jews, and entreating not to be swallowed up with them in their depth of ignorance. But in respect of the Egyptians and him that ruled over them, the peril was then of their earthly bodies, but the Jews’ conduct being in respect of what is more precious, more severely are they punished; for they undergo punishment of the soul, receiving recompence proportionate to their wickednesses. For with reason was Pharaoh punished, endeavouring to get what was free into bondage: contrariwise again justly is Israel punished, for not entering into bond-service under the Lord of all: but what the one was to him in the might of his greed, this was he too found to be towards God from his great vain-glory.

We must note, that he calls the Lake of Tiberias a sea, in accordance with the words of Divine Scripture, for the gathering together of the waters called the Creator Seas. Among profane writers too the word is often indifferently used, insomuch that some do not hesitate sometimes to call the sea a lake.

2 And a great multitude was following Him because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased: 3 and Jesus went up into the mountain and there He sat with His disciples, 4 and the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

For when Christ had gone forth from Jerusalem, according to that which is said in the Prophets; I have forsaken Mine House, I have left Mine heritage; when having spurned the disobedient and unruly people of the Jews, He gave Himself to the aliens, then a great multitude followeth Him. But He goeth up into a mountain, according to that surely which He had afore said, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. For He was lifted up from the earth, on ascending the Cross for our sakes; He was lifted up again in another way having ascended as unto a mountain, unto God-befitting honour and glory. For we do not, like Israel, dishonour Him as Man, but WE worship Him as God and Saviour and Lord. For among them He was conceived of as some lowly one and as nothing at all; and verily they would shrink not from calling Him a Samaritan, and with graver dishonour would call Him the carpenter’s Son: but among them who believe on Him, He is admired as the Mighty Worker and God, a Doer of miracles. For you may hear how pious is the purpose of them who followed Him. For because they saw His miracles upon the infirm, therefore they thought they ought to follow Him more zealously, as being led from the things performed proportionably unto the knowledge of the Performer, and from His God-befitting Authority considering that He who was clothed therewith is by Nature Son. For by this way the Saviour commanded us to advance unto faith in Him. For the works that I do (saith He) the very works bear witness of Me, and again, If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not, but if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe My works. As then from the greatness of the beauty of the creatures, their Maker God is seen, so from miracle, by a like process of thought, the Perfecter of signs is seen, and the faith of His followers is rightly marvelled at.

But I deem that some more special and not obvious interpretation is concealed in the things said. For we see that the Evanglist says that they who followed Christ were not only glad beholders of miracles, but also of what miracles they were most just admirers. For he adds, Which He did on them that were diseased, that hence he might shew that the frame of mind of those that followed Him was contrary to that of the Jews. For these because He had healed the sick of the palsy, are impiously angry, but the former not only admire Him for these things when present, but also flock together to Him at His departure, as Wonder-worker and God. Let us then, who have subscribed unto ourselves Christ as our Lord, flee the ignorance befitting the Jews, let us cleave to Him by patience, as the most wise disciples did enduringly, by no means enduring to depart from Him and be deserters, but by our very deeds crying aloud, that which was valiantly spoken by Paul, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Let us then follow Him, both persecuted and in fleeing from the stubbornness of those who strive against Him, that we may both go up into a mountain and there sit with Him, that is, may spring up into glorious and most excellent grace, by reigning together with Him, according as Himself said, YE which have followed Me in My temptations, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, YE also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. For I think that the disciples being said to abide with the Saviour, and to go up into a mountain and sit with Him, introduces these ideas.

5 When Jesus therefore lifted up His Eyes and saw that a great company cometh unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? 6 and this He said to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him,

A lesson most excellent did Christ again devise for His disciples, and fittest for the most holy men, both persuading them in utter straits to overcome cowardice in respect of hospitality, and to cast far away hesitation hereto, rather with more zealous motions to attain unto the virtue thereof. For what is there greater than this among those who know and will the things whereby it befitteth to purchase unto themselves the friendship from above? For when no small crowd cometh to Him, and an innumerable multitude is pouring forth like waters upon the parts, wherein He was stopping, He immediately ordered them to make preparations for feeding them. And in truth it was not unlikely that the zeal even of a very rich man would numb, by the multitude of those he saw startled into fear of not being able to be hospitable. But Christ shews that it is nothing at all great, when our brotherly love comes to a few, but wills that we should overcome with manful courage also things that surpass our expectation, firmly grounded by confidence in Him to boldness unto all good things.

In regard then of the narrative, the force of what is said, aims not away from the mark; but changing again these things unto their spiritual significance, and cutting away the gross typical dress, we say more openly, that those who by good zeal and faith seek Him, God forebeholdeth, as from a mountain, that is from His high and God-befitting foreknowledge, according to that which is said by Paul, For whom He did foreknow and predestinate to be conformed to the Image of His Son, these He also called. Christ then lifts up His Eyes as shewing that they who love Him are worthy of the Divine Gaze, even as in blessing it was said to Israel, The Lord lift up His Countenance upon thee and give thee peace. But not by the mere looking on them is His grace toward them that honour Him bounded, but the blessed Evangelist adding something more, shews that the Lord was not unmindful of the multitudes, but well prepared for their food and entertainment: that hereby again thou mayest understand that which is delivered us in Proverbs, The Lord will not suffer the righteous soul to famish. For He sets before them Himself, as Bread from Heaven, and will nourish the souls of them that fear Him: and prepareth all things sufficient to them for sustenance, as he saith in the Psalms, Thou preparest their food, for thus is Thy provision. And Christ Himself somewhere saith, Verily, verily I say unto you, he that cometh to Me shall never hunger. For He will give, as we said before, food from heaven, and will richly bestow the manifold grace of the Spirit. He prepareth moreover to give food to them that come to Him, not even awaiting their asking. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but He forecometh us in reaching forth those things which preserve us unto eternal life.

He saith then unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread? We must needs see, why to Philip, although the rest of the disciples were standing by and cleaving to Him: Philip then was a questioner and apt to learn, but not over quick in ready power of understanding the more Divine. This you will learn, if you consider with yourself that he, after having followed the Saviour for a long time and gathered manifold lessons concerning His Godhead and gotten to himself apprehension through both deeds and words, as though he had learnt nothing yet, in the last times of the economy says to Jesus, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us; but as saying it in his simplicity he was fitly re-instructed, So long time am I with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? saith Christ. Therefore as to one duller of understanding, and advancing more slowly than he ought to the apprehension of things more Divine, He puts forth the question, exercising the disciple in faith. For this is one meaning of, To prove him, in this passage, although as the blessed Evangelist affirmed, He Himself knew what He would do.

But His saying Whence shall we buy proves the uncare for money of them that were with Him, and their voluntary poverty for God’s sake, in that they had not even wherewithal to buy necessary food. Together with this He works something, and orders it skillfully. For He says Whence, not emptily, as to those who had taken no trouble to provide anything at all, but as to those who were accustomed to entire uncare for money. Excluding then, and cutting short most skilfully expectation arising from money, He well nigh persuades them to go on to entreat the Lord, that He would, if He willeth them when they have nothing to feed those that come to Him, by His unspeakable Power and God-befitting Might create food. For this was what yet remained, and He was calling them at length to see that their only remaining hopes were thence, according to the Greek poets,

—— the iron wound of necessity.

Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Feebly again does Philip advance, not to the power of Jesus to do all things, and that easily, but on hearing Whence shall we buy said to prove him, forthwith he catches at it, and looks at the means by money alone, not conceiving that the nature of the thing may be accomplished otherwise than by the common law, and that practised by all, to wit, prodigality of expenditure. Therefore as far as regards the disciples’ uncare for money and their possessing nothing, and Philip’s own apprehension, which did not as yet with perfect clearness view the exceeding dignity of our Saviour, liberality towards the multitudes is turned into an impossibility. But it was not so, the will of the Saviour conducts it to its completion. The impossible with men is possible with God, and the Divine Power proves on all sides superior to the natural order of things with us, strong to accomplish all things wondrously, even what overleap our understanding.

8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto Him, 9 There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes, but what are they among so many? 10 Jesus saith,

He both thinks and reasons akin to Philip, and is convicted of having a kindred apprehension of the Saviour Christ. For neither considering the power, nor yet led by the greatness of His preceding works unto Jesus’ being able for all things, and that most easily; he points out what the lad has, but is evidently weak in faith: for what are these (he says) among so many? Albeit (for we must say it) in no unready way but resolutely rather ought he to go forth to the memory of those things which had been already miraculously wrought, and to consider that it was a work by no means strange or foreign from Him Who had transformed into wine the nature of water, had healed the palsied and driven away so great an infirmity by one word, that He, I say, should create food of that which had no being, and multiply Divinely the exceeding little that was found ready to hand. For the Authority that wrought in the one, how should it not be able to work in the other? Wherefore the pair of disciples answered more feebly than was meet. But herein we must consider this again. For those things which appear to have been little falls in the Saints, are oftentimes not without their share of profit, but have something wrapt up with them, helpful to the nature of that in regard to which is the charge of their apparent infirmity. For the above mentioned holy disciples, having considered, and openly said, one, that Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one may take a little, the other, of the five loaves and two little fishes, that what are these among so many? raise the marvel to its height, and make the Might of the Saviour most marked, indicating by their own words the multitude that but now was to be filled, and the strength of their unbelief is converted into good testimony unto Christ. For in that they confessed that so large money would not suffice the multitude for even a slight enjoyment, by this very thing do they crown the Ineffable Might of the Host, when He, while there was nothing (for, as Andrew says, what were the lad’s supplies among so many?) very richly outdid His work of love towards the multitude.

The like littleness of faith we shall find in the wilderness in the all-wise Moses too. For they of Israel were weeping and, excited to a foul lusting after the tables of Egypt, were picturing to themselves unclean dishes of flesh, and turning aside after most strange pleasure, of onions and garlic, and the like unseemly things, and disregarding the Divine good things, were attacking Moses their mediator and leader. But God was not ignorant, for what the multitude were eagerly groaning, and promised to give them flesh. But since the promise of liberality was made in the wilderness, and the thing appeared hard of accomplishment, as regards man’s understanding, Moses came to Him crying out, The people among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen, and THOU saidst, I will give them flesh, and they shall eat a whole month: shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, and shall it suffice them? And what said God to these things? Will the Lord’s Hand suffice not? For unto what can God be powerless?

Therefore one may well say to the words of Philip and Andrew also, Will the Lord’s Hand suffice not? And let us too taking the nature of the thing by way of example, hold that littleness of faith is the worst of sicknesses and surpasses all evil, and if God work or promise to do, be it full surely received in simple faith, and let not the Deity be accused, from our inability to conceive how what is above us shall happen, by reason of our own powerlessness unto ought. For it becomes the good and sober-minded and him that hath his reason sound, to consider this too in his mind, how the bodily eye too sees not surely as far as one would like, but as far as it can, and as the limit of our nature permits. For the things that are situated at too great a height, it cannot distinguish, even if it imagine them, with difficulty snatching even the slightest view of them. So do thou conceive of the mind of man also, so far as the bounds given it by its Maker it attaineth and stretcheth forth, even if it be wholly purified; for it will see none of those things that are beyond, but will give way, even against its will, to what is above nature, wholly unable to grasp them. The things then that are above us are received by faith, and not by investigation, and as he that so believes is admired, so he that falls into the contrary is by no means free from blame. And this will the Saviour Himself testify, saying, He that believeth on the Son is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already.

Now having once taken up the discourse upon the duty of not mistrusting God, come, let us again shewing forth somewhat out of the sacred writings, put it forward, and blazon forth the punishment of the unbelief for the profit of our readers. Therefore (for I will go again to the hierophant Moses) he was once bidden, in the wilderness, when the people were oppressed with intolerable thrist, to take Aaron, and smite the rock with his rod, that it might gush forth fountains of water. But he, not wholly believing the words of Him Who bade Him, but faint-earted by reason of human nature, saith, Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod he smote the rock once and again, and much water came out: and the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. Is it not hence clear to every one, how bitter the wages of unbelief? And if Moses so great as he was, was reproved, whom shall God spare, upon whom will not He who thus respecteth not persons, inflict His wrath for their unbelief, since He would not spare even that Moses, to whom He had said, I know thee above all, and thou didst find grace in My Sight.

Make the men sit down: and there was much grass in the place: the men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.

The Saviour practised His accustomed gentleness, and takes away the sharpness of His reproaches. For He doth not rebuke bitterly His disciples, albeit they were deeply slumbering in respect of their faintheartedness and littleness of faith in Him: but rather He leads them by His Deeds to the apprehension of the things which as yet they believe not. For the words Make the men sit down have no slight force, and wellnigh shew Jesus speaking after this sort, O slow to understand My Power, and to perceive Who it is that speaketh, Make the men sit down, that ye may see them filled with the nothing that lies before you and marvel. Make the men sit down. For it is what is lacking to them. For not two hundred pence would have sufficed to get means of life for the multitudes, but the lack of money such as men use, in respect of its being able to preserve life, My Power shall attain, which calleth all things into being, and createth out of things which are not. Nor did Elias the Prophet render the widow’s cruse of oil unfailing, and make the barrel the source of unwasting food: but He, Who gave him the power, shall He not be able to multiply nothing, and to render any mere chance supply a fount of His ineffable Bounty and the principle and root of unlooked for grace?

It is not incredible that such were Christ’s thoughts in what He said. Profitably doth the blessed Evangelist mention, that there was much grass in the place, shewing that the country was fit for the men to sit down in. But observe how, whereas the multitude of them that were fed was promiscuous, and that women were there with their children, he numbered the men only, following I suppose the custom of the Law. For God commanded the hierophant Moses, saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upwards. The Prophet did as he was commanded, and collected a great list of names, and is seen to have completely passed over females and childhood, and enrols the multitude that are of full age. For honourable in the book of God too is all that is manly and vigorous, and not what is infantile in purpose after good things. Therefore did he honour the custom of the Law also herein, and form again some spiritual conception. For shall we not with reason say, if we look to the whole mind of the passage, that the violent and vainglorious people of the Jews Christ rightly turns away from and leaves: but receives very graciously them that come to Him, and fattens them with heavenly Food, reaching them the Spiritual Bread, which strengtheneth man’s heart? For He feedeth them not sadly, but joyously and freely and with much enjoyment in piety. For this the reclining of the multitudes on the grass signifieth, so that now too it is fit that each one to whom such grace has been vouchsafed should say that in the Psalms, The Lord is my Shepherd, and nought shall fail me: in a grassy spot there He settled me. For in much enjoyment and delight through the gifts of the Spirit is the mind of the Saints fed, as it is said in the Song of Songs, Eat and drink and be inebriated, ye neighbours. But while there were many, and they sitting down promiscuously, as we said before, he mentioned the men alone, passing over in silence the women and children profitably for the idea [conveyed thereby]. For he teaches us, as in a riddle, that to those who quit them as men, that is, in good, will the food be supplied by the Saviour more fittingly and specially, and not to those who are effeminate unto no good habit of life, nor yet to those who are infantile in understanding, so as to be thereby able to understand none of the things that are necessary to be known.

11 Jesus therefore took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were set down; likewise of the fishes also as much as they would.

He gives thanks, as an ensample to us and a pattern of the piety which ought to be in us: and attributes again as Man the Power of the miracle to the Divine Nature. For this was His custom, both helping by an example of piety, as we have said, those to whom He was manifested as a Teacher of what is most excellent, and by an economy concealing yet His God-befitting Dignity, till the time of His Passion should be at hand: for it was His earnest care that it should be hid from the prince of this world. For this reason, doth He elsewhere too use words befitting men, as a Man, and heals again the understanding of His hearers, sometimes making most wise alluring as in the words, Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. Seest thou in how human guise His speech, and well calculated to trouble the understanding of the more simple? But when He says this, as Man, then again He straightway unfolds the mode of the economy, and the object of His will to lie hid, by most excellent arrangement fortifying the mind of the more simple which had received a shock. For I knew (He saith) that Thou hearest Me always. Why then dost Thou speak these things? Because of the multitude which stood by I said it, that they may believe (saith He) that Thou sentest Me. Is it not then hereby plain, that with a view manifoldly to assist us, and to fulfill, as befitted Him, the secret economy with Flesh, He sometimes speaks more lowlily, than He really is? As therefore in that passage, I thank Thee, is taken economically, so here too. [He blessed is understood of the bread.]

But we must observe that instead of gave thanks, Matthew has said, blessed, but the edition of the saints will in no wise differ. For Paul will shew that they are both one, saying that every meat of God is good, and nothing to be refused: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. But that which is sanctified through the prayer in supplication, which we are wont ever to make over the table, is surely blessed.

But since it is fit that nothing profitable be left uninvestigated by us; come let us say a little of the five loaves which the lad had and of the two little fishes: for both the species itself, and besides the numbers are replete with mystery. For why (will some more studious person say) were not the loaves rather five, and the fishes three? why not five, and the fishes four? what occasion was there at all for recounting the number found, and why did not he rather say more simply and absolutely that the innumerable multitude of them that followed Him were fed off exceeding few chance things? But the fact that the blessed Evangelist recounted very diligently these things too, gives us something surely to think of, which we must needs search into.

He says then that the loaves are five, and they of barley, and the fishes two, and with these Christ feedeth them that love Him. And I think (and let the lover of wisdom look out for something better) that by the five barley loaves are signified the five-fold book of the all-wise Moses, that is, the whole Law, bringing in as it were coarser food, that by the letter and history. For this the barley hints at. But by the little fishes is signified the food got through the fishermen, that is, the more delicate books of the disciple’s of the Saviour; and these two (he says); the apostolic and Evangelic preaching, shine forth among us. And both these are draughts and spiritual writings of the fishermen. The Saviour therefore mingling the new with the old, by the Law and the teachings of the New Testament nourishes the souls of them that believe on Him, unto life, plainly eternal life. That the disciples were of fishermen, is (I suppose) plain and clear: and though all were not so, yet since there are some such among them, our argument will not recede from truth in what has been said.

12 When they were filled, He saith unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

To some one Christ may seem out of sparing of the fragments to have bidden His disciples to gather them together. Yet (I think) every one will fitly imagine, that Christ would not endure to descend to such littleness: and why say I Christ? not even one of us would do so: for what would be supposed to be the remnant of five barley loaves? But the verse has a great economy, and makes the miracle evident to the hearers. For so great is the efficacy of God-befitting Authority in this matter, that not only was so great a multitude sated from five barley loaves and two little fishes, but twelve baskets full of fragments were gathered besides. Moreover the miracle repelled another (as is like) suspicion, and by the finding of the fragments confirmed the belief of there having been really and truly an abundance of food, and not rather the appearance of a vision deceiving both the eye of the feasters and of those who minister to them. But greater yet and more noteworthy, and of exceeding profit to us, is this: consider how by this miracle He makes us most zealous in our desire to exercise hospitality most gladly, wellnigh calling aloud to us by the things that were done, that the things of God shall not fail him that is ready to communicate, and rejoiceth in habit of neighbourly love, and readily fulfilleth what is written, Break thy bread to the hungry. For we find that the disciples at the beginning were hampered by reluctance about this, but seeing, they were thus minded, the Saviour gave them a rich gathering from the fragments: and teacheth us too thereby, that we, on expending a little for the glory of God, shall receive richer grace according to the saying of Christ, Good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over, shall they give into your bosom. We must not be slothful therefore unto the communion of love to the brethren, but rather advance unto good resoluteness, and put as far as possible from us the cowardice and fear that dispose us to inhospitality and, confirmed in hope through faith in the power of God to multiply little things too, let us open our bowels to the needy, according to the appointment of the Law, for He says, Thou shalt open thy bowels wide unto thy needy brother within thee. For when wilt thou be found merciful, if thou remainest hard in this life? when wilt thou fulfil the commandment, if thou sufferest the time of being able to do it to slip by in idleness? Remember the Psalmist saying, For in death there is none that remembereth Thee: in the grave who shall confess to Thee? For what fruit is there yet of the dead, or how shall one of them that have gone down into the pit remember God by fulfilling His Commandments? For God closed upon him, as it is written. Therefore did the most wise Paul too instruct us, writing to certain, While we have opportunity let us do good.

And these things shall be said for profit from the narrative. But since we taking what has been said in a spiritual sense (for so we ought, and not otherwise) said that by the five barley loaves the book of Moses was hinted at, and by the two little fishes, the wise writings of the holy Apostles: in the gathering together of the fragments too, I suppose we ought to perceive some mystical and spiritual conception, agreeing with the order of the account. The Saviour then commanded the multitudes to sit down, and having blessed, He distributed the bread and the fishes, i. e., through the ministry of the disciples: but when they that had eaten were miraculously filled, He commands them to gather together the fragments, and twelve baskets are filled, one (it seems) for each of the disciples: for so many were they too. What then shall we understand from thence, save surely this, and truly, that Christ is the President of them that believe on Him, and nourishes them that come to Him with Divine and heavenly food? doctrines plainly of the Law and Prophets, Evangelic and Apostolic. But He does not altogether Himself appear as the Worker of these things, but the disciples minister to us the grace from above (for it is not they that speak, as it is written, but the Spirit of the Father which speaketh in them) yet not without reward to the holy Apostles shall be their labour therein. For they having dispensed to us the spiritual food, and ministered the good things of our Saviour, will receive richest recompense and obtain the fullest grace of bounty from God. For this and nothing else, I think, is the meaning of the gathering together of a basketful by each at the commandment of Christ, after their toils and the service expended upon the feasters. But there is no doubt, that after them the things typically signified will pass also to the rulers of the holy Churches.

14 The men therefore, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth the Prophet that should come into the world.

They marvel at the sign who know how to approve things God-befitting, and regulate themselves by human reason rather than are diseased with unreason befitting the beasts, as were the blasphemous Jews, who, when they ought to have profited by the publicity of the things wrought, lost even the power of right judgment. For they deemed that Jesus ought now to be stoned also, because He so often appeared as a Worker of miracles. Superior then, and that in no small degree, to the folly of those men, are they who marvel, soberly persuaded by this one great miracle, that He it surely was Whose coming into the world as a Prophet was foretold. But observe, how great a difference hence appears, I mean, between the race of Israel, and those situate out of Judaea; for the one, although they were spectators of many things, and those not unworthy of admiration, are not only hard of heart and inhuman, but also desire unjustly to slay Him Who was zealous to save them, driving Him with them wild folly from their city and country: while they who dwelt away from Jerusalem, and hence signify the race of aliens, from one miracle alone glorify Him, and nobly determine that their conceptions of Him should be received with faith unhesitatingly. From all these things, was Israel shewn to be self-condemned and self-invited to her final just rejection, and that it was due to the Gentiles to obtain at length their share of mercy from above and love through Christ.

15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force to make Him a King, He departed again into the mountain Himself Alone.

Most praiseworthy judgment would one give, and full rightly, to those who had been easily brought by the great miracle to believe, that it was indeed befitting that their very choicest should be Christ’s, and their chiefest offered to Him as an honour. For what else but this does their desire to choose Him for their King signify to us? But among other things one may admire this too; for Christ is made an example to us of contempt of glory, in that He flees from those who desire to give Him due honour, and refuses a kingdom that highest earthly prize, although to Him it was in truth no object of envy, in that He with the Father reigneth over all things, yet giveth He to them too who look for the hope to come, to understand that little to them is worldly greatness, and that it is not good to accept honours in this life, that is, in the world, though they offer themselves, that they may mount up to honour from God. For unseemly is it in truth that they should wish to shine in these things, who are pressing on to the Divine grace, and thirsting for everlasting glory.

We must then eschew the love of glory, sister and neighbour of arrogance, and not far distant from its borders. And illustrious honour in this present life let us eschew us hurtful, let us rather seek for a holy lowliness, giving way to one another as the blessed Paul too admonisheth, saying, Be each among you so minded according to what was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be Equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking servant’s form, made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled, Himself, made obedient unto death, even the death of the Gross: wherefore God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the Name which is above every Name. Seest thou how His voluntary abasement hath a glorious consummation, and His lowly-mindedness shews itself a root of many good things to us? For the Only-Begotten being in the Form of God the Father hath humbled Himself, being made Man for our sakes, but even though He appeared in this life with Flesh, yet He remained not lowly: for He hastes back to His ancient Dignity and to His God-befitting glory, even though He became Man: this same way may one suppose will it be as to us too. For when we bring ourselves down from the empty heights of the present life and seek low things, then shall we surely receive in return the glory from above, and mount up unto being gods by grace, receiving after likeness so to say to Him Who is truly and by Nature Son, the being called children of God. And that I may say something akin to the subject before us, let us refuse, if it offer itself, excellency upon earth, the mother of all honour, if we mind heavenly things, and live for things above rather than those on the earth.

But our discourse is not devoid of spiritual thought, therefore we will repeat, summing up as it were the whole force of what has been done, and again going through from the beginning the account before us. For so will it become clear to us what is about to be said, specially as the blessed Evangelist hath added, as though hinting at something necessary and not to be rejected, that He withdrew into the mountain Himself Alone. Therefore rejecting the cruelty of the Jews, Christ began to depart from Jerusalem, which plainly is, I have forsaken Mine House, I have left Mine heritage. When He had crossed the sea of Tiberias, and was very far removed from their folly, He goes up into a mountain together with His disciples. This we said signified the impassable so to say and impracticable nature of the way to Him unto the Jews, and Christ’s withdrawal from them in anger at His Passion, for a season, that is, the fit time, and that Christ will be manifest, together with His disciples, when He departs from Judaea, and goes unto the Gentiles, transferring His grace to them. From the mountain did He look on them that followed Him, and moreover take thought for their food. And this again we said signified as it were typically, the supervision from above which is due to the Saints according to, The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and that Christ is not without thought for them that fear Him. Next much people were miraculously fed with the five loaves and two little fishes; of which we defined that they ought to be conceived to be the writings of the Saints old and new set by the Apostles before them that love Christ. Moreover, that the choir of the disciples will receive from God the rich fruit of their ministry to usward, and after them, the overseers of the holy churches of God: for the type was in the beginning to all in them. Next the spectators marvel at the miracles, and devise to take Jesus by force for a king. This He understanding, departs alone into the mountain, as it is written; for when Christ was marvelled at by the Gentiles, as Wonder-worker and God, when all enrolled Him their King and Lord, then was He received up Alone into Heaven, no one at all following Him thither. For He, the Firstfruits of the dead, hath gone up Alone into the great and truer mountain, according as is said by the Psalmist, Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart. For such an one shall follow Christ, and shall go up into the spiritual mountain also, at the time of the Kingdom of Heaven. But He hath withdrawn into the mountain, that is, hath gone up into Heaven, not refusing to reign over them that believed on Him, but delaying the time of His more manifest kingdom, until His return to us from above, when He shall descend in the glory of the Father, no longer by miracles, as before, known to be truly and by Nature Lord, but by God-befitting glory confessed that He is undoubtedly King.

Therefore (for I will say it again briefly, compressing the multitude of words), when by His miracles He was believed on and acknowledged to be God, having gone away from the Jewish people, then do all press forward to receive Him for their King, but He ascends into Heaven Alone, laying up for its fitting time the more open manifestation of His Kingdom.

16 And when even was come, His disciples went down unto the sea, 17 and entered into a ship and went over the sea unto Capernaum.

The first sign having been miraculously accomplished, His flight and withdrawal are economically found to be the root again and occasion of another, and the Wonderworker proceeds, as it is written, from might to might. For since He was being sought as King by them who were astonished at that great miracle, and was Himself refusing worldly honours according to the preceding account; it was altogether necessary that He should depart from the place, yea, rather from their whole country. In order then that He might seem to have sailed away, and might relax somewhat the intensity of the seekers, He orders the disciples to depart before Him, but Himself stays, advancing opportunely unto the next miracle. For it was His most earnest endeavour, by every occasion and act, to confirm the mind of the Apostles in their faith to Himward. For since they were to be teachers of the earth, and to shine forth as lights in the world, as Paul saith, He necessarily led them to all things that would profit them. For this was to shew kindness not on them alone, but to those also who should be led by them unto the unerring apprehension of Him.

But why (will some one perchance say) after that miracle, is the Power of Jesus to walk on the very sea immediately introduced? Such an one shall hear a very credible cause. For when He desired to feed the multitudes, Philip and Andrew supposed that He would be powerless thereto, the one saying that no small sum of money would barely suffice them for just a little enjoyment, the other telling that five loaves and two small fishes were found with one of the lads, nay that what was found was nothing to so great a multitude; and from all (so to speak) their words, they thought that He could do nothing out of the due course of our affairs:—needs, in order that He might free Himself from so petty a conception, and might bring the still feeble mind of the Apostles to learn, that He doth all things wondrously which He willeth, unrestrained by the nature of things, the necessary order of things not hampering Him in the least, does He place under His Feet the humid nature of the waters, albeit unpractised to lie under the bodies of men, for all things were possible, as to God. Evening then being now come, and the time abating the vigilance of those who were seeking for Him, the choir of the holy disciples goes down to the sea, and began to sail away immediately, obeying in all things their God and Teacher, and that without delay.

And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them, 18 and the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

Many things at once are being profitably contrived, and the circumstances drive the disciples to a more zealous search after the Saviour. For the deep darkness of the night troubles them, hovering like smoke upon the raving waves, and takes from them all knowledge of whither at length to steer. Moreover the fierceness of winds troubles them not a little, riding on the waves with a rushing noise, and raising the billows to unwonted height. Yea, and though these things had taken place, Jesus (it says) was not yet come to them: for herein was their special danger, and the absence of Christ from the voyagers was working increase of their fear.

They therefore must needs be tempest-tost, who are not with Jesus, but are cut off, or seem to be absent from Him through their departure from His holy laws, and severed because of sin from Him Who is able to save. If then it be heavy to be in spiritual darkness, if grievous to be swallowed up in the bitter sea of pleasures, let us receive Jesus: for this will deliver us from dangers, and from death in sin. The figure of what has been said will be seen in what happened, He will therefore surely come to His disciples.

19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea and drawing nigh unto the ship; and they were afraid. 20 But He saith unto them, It is I, be not afraid.

When they are separated by great interval from the land, and it was like that they in their trouble would no way be saved (for they were now in the midst of the sea) then Christ thrice longed for appears to them. For thus could He give most welcome salvation to those in danger, when fear had already cut off all hope of life. But He appears to them miraculously (for so was it ordered to their greater profit) and they are astonished beholding Jesus going through the midst of the sea and upon the very waters, and make the miracle an addition to their fear. But Christ immediately relieves them from their misfortunes, saying, I am, be not afraid. For need, need must all disquiet be away, and they be openly superior to all danger, to whom Christ is now present. We shall see then by this again, that we ought to have a spirit courageous and manly in temptations, and endurance intense from hope in Christ, confirmed unto good confidence in our being surely saved, even though many be the fears of temptation that pour around us.

For observe that Christ does not appear to those in the boat immediately on their setting sail, nor at the commencement of their dangers, but when they are many furlongs off from the land. For not when the condition which harasses us first begins, does the grace of Him who saves visit us, but when the fear is at its height, and the danger now shews itself mighty, and we are found, so to say, in the midst of the waves of afflictions: then unlooked for does Christ appear, and puts away our fear, and will free us from all danger, by His Ineffable Power changing the dread things into joy, as it were a calm.

21 They therefore would receive Him into the ship, and immediately the ship was at the land whither they were going.

The Lord not only releases the voyagers from dangers, wondrously shining on them, but also frees them both from toil and sweat, by His God-befitting Power thrusting forward the ship on to the opposite shore. For they were expecting that by rowing on still, they should with difficulty be able to reach the end, but He releases them from these their toils, revealing Himself to them in a very little time the Worker of many miracles to their full assurance. When then Christ appears and beams upon us, we shall without any labour succeed even against our hope, and we who are in danger through not having Him, shall have no more need of toil to be able to accomplish what is profitable for us, when He is present. Christ then is our deliverance from all danger, and the accomplishment of achievements beyond hope to them that receive Him.

But since we have discoursed on every portion of the subject singly, come and let us, joining the meaning hereof with the connexion of the preceding portions, work out the spiritual interpretation. We said then that Jesus ascended into Heaven as into a mountain, that is to say, being received up, after His resurrection from the dead. But when this has taken place, then His disciples alone and by themselves, a type of Ecclesiastical teachers in succession throughout all time, swim through the billows of this present life as a kind of sea, meeting with varied and great temptations, and enduring no contemptible dangers of teaching at the hands of those who oppose the faith and war against the Gospel preaching: but they shall be freed both from their fear and every danger, and shall rest from their toils and misery, when Christ shall appear to them hereafter too in God-befitting Power, and having the whole world under His Feet. For this I deem His walking on the sea signifies, since the sea is often taken as a type of the world by Divine Scripture, as it is said in the Psalms, This great and wide sea, there are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. When Christ then cometh in the glory of His Father, as it is written, then shall the ship of the holy Apostles, that is, the Church, and they that sail therein, i. e., they who through faith and love toward God are above the things of the world, without delay and without all toil, gain the land, whither they were going. For it was their aim to attain unto the Kingdom of Heaven, as to a fair haven. And the Saviour confirms this understanding of all that has been said, in that he says to His Disciples at one time, A little while and ye shall no more see Me, and again a little while and ye shall see Me, at another again, Tribulation shall ye have in the world, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. But in the night the Lord cometh down from the mountain and visiteth His disciples who are watching, and they look on Him coming, not without fear (for they tremble) that something needful for our understanding may in this too be made known unto us. For He shall descend from Heaven, as in the night, the world yet sleeping and slumbering in much sin. Therefore to us too doth He say, Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. The parable too of the Virgins will no less teach us this. For He says that five were wise, five foolish: but while the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept: and at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him. Seest thou how at midnight the Bridegroom is announced to us? And what the cry is, and the mode of the meeting, the Divine Paul will make known, saying at one time, For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a summons, with voice of archangel, with the trump of God, at another of the saints who are raised up, WE which are alive and 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. But the disciples being smitten with fear, albeit they saw Him coming, and were found in toil and watching, signifies that the Judge will come terrible to all, and that the righteous man will surely quake within himself, proven as by fire, albeit ever foreseeing Him Who was to come, and not shrinking from toils in virtue, nourished in vigilance alike and good watching. But the Lord doth not enter into the ship with His disciples, as though He were going to sail with them, but rather moveth the ship on to the land. For Christ will not appear co-working any more with those who honour Him, unto their achievement of virtue, but to give to them that have already achieved their looked-for end.

22 The morrow, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, yet that His disciples had gone away, 23 howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks.

The miracle does not escape notice, I mean Jesus walking on the very sea, although it took place by night and in the dark, and was ordered in secret. But the crowd of those who were wont to follow Him perceives, assured (as is probable) by much watching, that He had neither sailed with His disciples, nor had crossed in any other ship. For there was there the Apostles’ ship alone, which they took and went away before Him. Nought then is hidden of what is good even though it be performed in secret by any, and here we see that that is true, Nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, neither hid that shall not be known and come abroad. I say then that he who desireth to track the footsteps of Christ, and, as far as man can, to be moulded after His Pattern, ought not to be eager to live in much boasting, nor when he practises virtue to be led away in pursuit of praise, nor if he enter upon an extraordinary and exceeding disciplined life, should he desire to glory immoderately thereat, but should desire to be seen alone by the Eyes of the Deity, Who revealeth hidden things, and that which, is performed in secret bringeth He into clearest apprehension.

24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there neither His disciples, they also took shipping and came to Capernaum seeking for Jesus.

These men follow Him, marvelling perchance at His miracles, yet not receiving any profit from them unto the duty of faith, but as though they were making some return to the Wonder-worker by merely bestowing on Him a not undesired praise. For this is a dreary disease of a mind and soul which is never accustomed to be led to the choice of what is profitable for her. The reason why this was so with them was, that they delighted solely in the pleasures of the flesh, and jumped eagerly at the meanest temporal food, rather than hasten after spiritual goods, and endeavour to gain what would support them to life eternal. This you will learn clearly by what follows too.

25 And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi when camest Thou hither?

Their speech takes the form of being that of those who love Him and feigns sweetness, but is convicted of being exceeding senseless and childish. For they ought not on meeting with so great a teacher, to have talked to no purpose, and taken no pains to learn anything. For what was the need of being eager to ask Him, when He came there? what good would they be likely to get from knowing? We must then seek wisdom from the wise, and let a prudent silence be preferred to undisciplined words. For the disciple of Christ bids that our speech be seasoned with salt; and another of the wise exhorts us to this, saying, My son, if thou hast a word of understanding, answer, if not, lay thy hand upon thy mouth. And how evil it is to be condemned for an undisciplined tongue, we shall know from another: for he says, If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, I say unto you, ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracle, but because ye ate of the loaves and were filled.

We will say something common, yet worn by little use. Great teachers are often wont to be not slightly angry, when they are questioned about vain and useless matters. And we shall find them so, not out of haughtiness, but rather from annoyance at the folly of the questioners. Of us therefore and those like us I think that this is not unrightly said: but the Saviour inflicts a warm rebuke upon those who made those enquiries, for speaking uninstructedly, and unwisely enquiring not because it was their duty to seek out the things whereby they might become honest and good, but because they followed Him for carnal reward and that a most mean one. For what is less than daily food, and that not sumptuous? We must then practise piety towards Christ and Love of Him, not that we may obtain ought of carnal goods but that we may gain the salvation that is through Him; and let us not say good words to Him, as these say Rabbi, nor devise fair-speaking as a foundation of gain and boundless ingathering of riches. Truly he that attempts such things, will not be ignorant that he shall encounter Christ Who keenly convicteth him, and revealeth his hidden wickedness.

It is meet again to admire also the economy herein. For when He saw that they were enveloped with the afore-mentioned disease, as a Physician skilful and master of his art, He devised a twofold medicine for them, entwining the helpful reproof with most glorious miracle. The miracle then we shall find in His knowing their thoughts; and in the Wonder-worker not telling them what they sought not out of piety to know, you will behold the reproof. And the advantage is twofold. For in that He knows perfectly their devices and has accurate perception thereof, He shews that they are without understanding, in that they think to escape the Divine Eye, while they heap up wickedness in their heart, and practise sweet words with their tongue. But this is the part of One Who persuades them to leave off this their disease, and to cease from no slight sin. For outrageous is he and lawless, who hath this conception of God. In usefully convicting them of sinning, He restrains in some sort the future course of evil. For that which has no hindrance, creeps on and extends itself; but when caught in the fact, it is well-nigh ashamed, and like a rope contracts into itself. Therefore the Lord profiteth them by reproving also, and by those things whereby one thinks that He smites, by these very things He is seen to be their Benefactor. We must then hold that even though some flatter or with mild words wheedle the rulers of the Churches, yet are not sound concerning the faith, it is not meet that they should be carried away by their fawnings nor by way of payment for their applause lend in turn to them who need correcting, silence in regard to their faults: but we ought rather boldly to rebuke them, and to persuade them to change for the better, or at least hereby if so be to profit others, according to that spoken by Paul, Them that sin rebuke before all, that the rest also may fear.

This then for the subjects separately: but that they are in connexion, and of necessity follow those before considered, I think I ought to shew. We said then that our Saviour’s coming down from the mountain typified His second and future Coming to us from Heaven, and we added as in summary, that He appeared to His disciples while they were watching, and yet toiling, and released them from their fear, and brought the ship at once to land. And what is hence pourtrayed to us, as in a type, we have there declared. But now observe, that after Jesus had come down from the mountain, certain miss following Him, and come to Him at last. For they come on the day following, the Evangelist having not without care added this also. Then on meeting with Him, they endeavour to wheedle Him with good words: but Christ chides them, bringing upon them hot and keen reproof, that we might consider this again, that after the Coming of our Lord to us from Heaven, most vain and profitless unto men is the search after good things, nor will the desire to follow Him find any fitting season. Yea even though certain approach Him, thinking to appease Him with smoothest words, they shall meet the Judge no longer mild and gentle, but reproving and avenging. For thou wilt see the flattery of them that are reproved, and the reproof itself in the words of the Saviour, when He saith, Many will say to Me in that Day, to wit, the Day of Judgment, Lord, Lord, did we not in Thy Name cast out devils? But says He, Then will I profess unto them, Verily I say unto you, I never knew you. For ye sought Me not purely (saith He) nor loved to excel in holiness, for thereby would I have known you, but since ye practised piety in semblance only and in mere imaginaries for the purpose of gain, justly do I confess that I have not known you. What then in that passage is Lord, Lord, here is Rabbi. To whomsoever therefore punishment is a bitter thing, let him not fall into inertness nor be manifoldly infirm in transgression, looking to the goodness of God, but let him prepare his works for his going forth, as it is written, and make it fit for himself in the field, i. e., while he is in the world. For the Saviour interpreted that the field is the world. Let him prepare to shew holiness and righteousness before the Divine Judgment Seat. For he will behold no unseasonably clement Judge, nor yet yielding to entreaties for mercy, in Him Whom he ought without delay to have obeyed when He was calling him to salvation, while the time of mercy was granting to him both to beg for forgiveness for his already past transgressions, and to seek for loving-kindness from God Who saves.

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life.

Something of this sort doth Paul teach us expanding the discourse universally and more generally, saying, He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. For he says that they sow to the flesh who giving as it were full rein to the pleasures of the flesh, advance at full speed to whatever they will, by no means distinguishing what is profitable for them from what is hurtful and injurious, nor in any way accustomed to approve what seems good unto the Law-giver, but heedlessly hurried off to that alone which is pleasant and agreeable, and preferring nothing to things seen. Again he affirms that they sow to the Spirit, who expend the whole aim of their mind on those things wherein the Holy Ghost willeth us to excel, employing a mind so intense toward the cultivation of good things, that, did not voice of nature not to be disregarded constrain them to minister needful food to the flesh, they would not endure to descend even to this. I think then that we ought to take no forethought whatever for the flesh for the lusts thereof, but rather to apply ourselves to what is most needful, and to be zealous in practising those things, which bring us to the everlasting and Divine Life. For admiration for the delights of the body, and the esteeming nothing better than the superfluities of the belly, is truly brutish and akin to the extremest folly. But to apply ourselves to good things, and earnestly to strive to excel in virtues, and to be subject to the laws of the Spirit, and with all readiness to seek after the things of God, which are able to support us unto salvation:—I will grant that this truly beseemeth him who knoweth his own nature, and is not ignorant that he hath been made a reasonable creature after the Image of Him that created him. Therefore as the Saviour somewhere saith, Take we no thought, what shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? but considering that the soul is more than meat, and the body than raiment, let us take thought how the more precious part of us may do well.

For though the body do well, and be fat with succession of delights, it will not profit the miserable soul; but on the contrary, will work it much harm. For it will depart into the everlasting fire, since they who have wrought no good, must needs undergo punishment for it: but if the body have been bridled with due reason, and brought under the law of the Spirit, both must surely be saved together. It is then most absurd, that for the flesh we should so take thought, which is but for a time and even now shall perish, as to think that it ought not to lack any one thing which it loves: and to take care for the soul, by way of appendix, or as though it were nothing worth; albeit I think we ought to apply ourselves so much the rather to cares for the soul, as it is of more value than the body. For so of a truth preferring what surpasses in the comparison to what is inferior, and giving a just vote in this matter, we shall become holy and wise jurors, and not bestow upon any other the palm of right reasoning, but rather shall put it upon our own heads. Let us then, as the Saviour saith, labour not for the meat which perisheth, which when it hath passed into the belly, and for a very little while deluded the mind with pettiest pleasure, goeth out into the draught, and is conveyed forth again from the belly. But the spiritual food which strengtheneth the heart, keepeth the man unto life everlasting, which also Christ promiseth to give us, saying, Which the Son of Man shall give unto you; at once knitting the human with that which is Divine, and connecting the whole mystery of the economy with Flesh in its order. But He hints, I suppose, at the Mystic and more Spiritual Food, whereby we live in Him, sanctified in body and soul. But we shall see Him speaking more openly of this hereafter. The discourse then must be kept for its fit time and place.








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