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

BOOK X

21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself unto him.

Our Saviour here says that the revelation of the mystery in us will then be clearest, when we see ourselves living in conformity with His likeness. For as I live, He says, ye shall live also; the mind of each being fulfilled as it were not with what he has heard and believed merely, but rather with what he actually enjoys, when he has reached the completion of the promise. For experience is more powerful than language in ability to convince and satisfy. That we may not think that all without distinction are endowed with the power to partake of so holy a blessing, even though they be not good men and illuminated by the fear of God, He has added at once to His speech the qualification, “they that love Me;” clearly showing thereby that no others will be allowed to choose so incomparable a grace, but those who have chosen to live most righteously: for they would be “those that love Him.” For even if it be the fact that Christ raises the bodies of all men, for there will be a resurrection of the evil and the good alike, yet not to all without distinction will a new life of glory and felicity be given. For it is clear that some only rise again to punishment, and will have a life more grievous than any death, while others spending ages of blessedness, will actually live the desirable and holy life in Christ. For that they who are doomed to receive the sentence of punishment from Christ on the occasion of the judgment, will abide without a taste of the blessed life, although they shared with the Saints the lot of resurrection, He makes plain by these words: He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life, but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God shall abide on Him. For know that although while all the evil and the good alike await the resurrection, He says that those who are fast bound by the charge of disobedience cannot even attain to a glimpse of the life, as He declares that it is not the mere act of resurrection that is life, but that that life rather consists in rest and glory and felicity, spiritual of course and of no other kind. A spiritual kind of felicity is meant, the perfect knowledge of God and the complete revelation of the mysteries of Christ, not as in a glass and in riddles, even as now showing the characters of the object of our quest dimly, but shining out to us and glistening in perfect purity and making our knowledge quite complete. For that which is in part shall be done away, as Paul says.

Our Lord Jesus Christ then, when He teaches us that to those who choose to love Him and to those who do His commandments is the promise of His revelation given, and to them it is more appropriate and pertinent, and not to those who are otherwise minded and who do the contrary, has conveyed this useful lesson in the words: He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. And a man has His commands when he has received the faith, and, laying it to heart, has let into his inmost soul the unpolluted and unmistakeable teaching of the Gospel commandments. And he fulfils them by carrying them out into actuality, and by making haste to distinguish himself by the light of his actions. Such a man then is perfect and wholly wedded to righteousness, a shining light by his faith and conduct, who has witness borne him of his holiness after the pattern of Christ. For At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established, according to the Scripture. A man of this sort again, God the Father will surely love, and no less also the Son will love him. For as He is of the same Substance, so also has He the same Will as His Father. For as the Substance is one the Will also is one, and there is one purpose over all, and there is no discord severing Their Wills in twain. For to those who are thought worthy of the Divine love He promises that He will give a glorious reward and that He will crown them with exceeding great blessings. For I will manifest Myself unto him, He says. For to the pure in heart the mystery of the Godhead will be clearly revealed, and Christ gives them light, illuminating the path of every duty by His Spirit, and unveiling Himself and making Himself visible as it were by the ineffable torchlight of the soul. And those who have made their choice once for all are blessed and worthy of all admiration. And methinks the prophet David was a man after this sort when he says, I will hear what the Lord God will say in me. And so is also the Divine Apostle when he exhorts us, saying, If ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me; for He speaks of things concerning Himself in His Saints by His Spirit; yea, reveals other mysteries besides. Therefore it is true that knowing these things well, the Saints sometimes say, Unto us God revealed them through the Spirit; sometimes, But we have the mind of Christ, meaning by His mind His Spirit.

22 Judas (not I scariot) saith unto Him, Lord, what is come to pass that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

It is out of love that the disciple proceeds to make this inquiry, but he clearly does not quite understand our Saviour’s language. For our Lord Jesus Christ promised to His Saints a kind of special knowledge and not like that vouchsafed to others. For the characters of Divine mysteries are more defined and shine out far more clearly among the men of God: while those who have not yet attained to such purity of heart as to be able definitely to choose the knowledge of those things which pass understanding by the gift of the Spirit, display their knowledge in bare logical processes, and it is limited to their chance acquaintance with the doctrine that Christ is God and truly the Son of the living God. Although then there lies this vast difference between them, widely dissevering the knowledge of the vulgar from that which is seen in the Saints, the disciple, making no distinction, proceeds to inquire why He does not promise to reveal Himself to all in the world, but only to the Saints. And by the exclamation, How comes it to pass? he means to hint at some such meaning as this: Is the aim of Thy coming amongst us, Lord, to give to some a complete knowledge of Thyself, which to others is wholly denied? For we heard in the prophets that all flesh shall see the salvation of God, and Thou Thyself didst cry out, saying, Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Sion, for lo! I come and shall dwell in thy midst, saith the Lord, and all nations shall flee to the Lord on that day and shall be His people. And when we had continual converse with Thee, we heard with our own ears Thy voice when Thou didst say unto us, I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself; and Thou saidst also to the Jews themselves, And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall become one flock, one shepherd. Now then, when the expectation is raised that Thy grace will be poured upon all men and that all will be gathered in to the knowledge of God, and when Thou Thyself hast made us this clear promise and the voice of the holy prophets bears this testimony—What is come to pass? cries the Apostle. Whither has the purpose of the promise then shifted and diverted? Why dost Thou manifest Thyself not to all that are in the world but only to us? This then and no other I think is the meaning of the disciple’s words. It is well to show what it was that in fact led him astray from truly apprehending our Saviour’s words.

For when our Lord Jesus Christ used the words, A little while, and the world beholdeth Me no more; but ye behold Me, it is very clear that by the world He did not at all mean those who are in this life or living upon the carth, for all men are in this world, evil and good alike: but by the world He rather meant those who are persuaded to mind earthly things, who have yoked their understanding to the vanity of the world. The disciple then, not quite understanding this, thought that He said that of all the rest of mankind who dwell in this earthly sphere He would escape the eye, I mean the inner and secret vision of the soul, and would be wholly unseen, and known by no living man but His disciples only; and this was the cause of the disciple’s misapprehension. For if he had understood at first, he would never have proceeded to ask, What is come to pass that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? For he had this meaning I have spoken of suggested to him through his taking the signification of the word in its common and generally-received sense. For we are accustomed to mean by the world, using it in its well-worn and obvious sense, all the inhabitants of the world, just as when one speaks of the city one means all the dwellers in it. Still the disciple, even when he says these words, deserves our admiration. For see how he longs that the glory of the Saviour should shine forth through all the world like the sun, although if he had only been taking thought for his own personal welfare, he might, as he had the promise of knowledge, have enjoyed blessings peculiar to himself. But it was not enough to gratify his soul that the boon should be granted as it were to him individually, but because he was at once a lover of God and of his fellow men he longs for the glory of the Saviour to have a wider field and that grace should be extended to all his brethren. For what joy can equal the being called to the complete knowledge of God?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

When He saw that the disciple did not quite understand, He goes back again to what He said at first, and teaches clearly that He will not manifest Himself to His own, according to the conception he had formed in his mind, but that the manner of His manifestation will be special to His disciples, and not that common to the rest of mankind. For the vulgar, and those, for instance, who have just escaped from the deceitfulness of idols and have been called to the knowledge of the Living God, rest their faith on bare and unquestioned axioms, merely having learnt to know that there is no idol in the world, and that the Living God is One only; while they who have their minds illumined by every virtue and are already in a state to fitly apprehend Divine and hidden mysteries, will receive the torch of the Spirit, and will behold with the eyes of the soul the Lord Himself, Who has taken up His abode in them. The knowledge therefore that the Saints possess is not common to the rest, but is in a manner special and distinct and widely diverse. Christ then benefits us by every kind of word and way. For, first of all, anyone that loves Him is very broadly distinguished from the rest, showing as it seems to me, and as I justly apprehend, that it has not been given to all men to receive the power of His grace, but only to those in whom the glory of intimate connexion with Him may be seen indwelling through their keeping His commandments.

Then in what way He will declare Himself and how He will take up His abode in them He goes on to declare. For My Father will love him, He says. For any man who has honoured by his obedience to the Son the Father from Whom He springs, will reap His love as the fruit of his conduct. Then He clearly shows what will be the issue thereof and what profit such a man will gain when He says, I and the Father will come unto him and make Our abode with him. For when our Saviour Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, surely there too will be also His Father; for the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of the Father Himself also, and the inspired Paul at one time speaks of the Spirit as belonging to the Father, and at another as belonging to the Son: not by way of logical contradiction, but rather saying what is true of either, for it is so in fact. He says then to some: He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Then again, And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Do you see that the same Spirit is of the Father and the Son? When then the Only-begotten dwells in your hearts, the Father is not far from you: for the Son hath in Himself the Father, being of one substance with Him, and is Himself by nature in the Father.

This then we may give as the definition and incontrovertible doctrine of the faith; and I should be glad to question thereupon those who have chosen heretical opinions from excess of ignorance and who arm their tongues with conceits about the Spirit. For what have they to answer when we say to them, “If the Spirit is created and alien to the substance of God, as you say, how can God abide in us through Him? And how can he that receiveth the Spirit partake of God?” For if it is within the bounds of possibility by the agency of any created being whatever for us to partake of the ineffable Divine Nature, what can be found to hinder God the Father thrusting aside the Spirit and by means of any other created being that He chooses to select dwelling in us and sanctifying us? But this is impossible: for no one can partake of the living God by any other means than by the Spirit. The Spirit therefore is God and of God, and is not numbered among creatures, as some think.

This consideration also must be taken into account. That which partakes of anything as being superior in nature and distinct from what it is itself must of necessity be different in nature from that which is partaken of. If then the Spirit is created or made, what remains for the sum of creation to partake of? Surely not itself! For in that case both that which partakes and that which is partaken of would alike owe their origin to a creator. But as it is, we being by nature both created and begotten partake of the Spirit as being different in nature from ourselves. The Spirit therefore is not created. And if this is true, and it is true, the Spirit is God and of God, as we have said. For nothing that exists can escape being included in the category of created things except the living God alone, from Whom the Holy Spirit, ineffably proceeding, dwelleth in us as He from Whom He springs. For He is an attribute of His Substance, and as it were a quality of His holiness.

So much for my controversy with these heretics. But as against the Anomœans and those who have resolved on war with the Son, who are diseased with a like and kindred madness to these which we have just spoken of, I will refute them as briefly as possible. If a man love Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. What, then, my good Sirs, have you to say if any one chooses to inquire and desires to know of you whether we shall have two Gods indwelling in us, the Father and the Son, or whether you conceive of one God as really existing in us. For if the Son is wholly distinct in nature and is conceived of as having a separate nature, how can we avoid believing that there is a duality of Gods in us when we keep His commandment? And if we are temples of one, that is, and not of two Gods, when the Father and the Son take up Their abode in us, how can you prove that the two coalesce unto unity in us, as, according to your crazy notion, identity of nature is out of the question? For either you must say that Christ has told us falsehoods, and that the Father only dwells in us by the Spirit, or He Himself dwells in us and the Father is absent. But this is absurd, and there is one God in us when we receive both. The Only-begotten then will appear to be not different in substance from His Father, but of Him and in Him, as the light includes the effulgence which proceeds from it. Such, and no other, is the true meaning of the mystery. And certainly the inspired Paul did not call us temples of two Gods, but clearly of one and the same. Know ye not, he says, that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? You see that making the Father and Son coalesce in identity of Substance he says that we have been made temples not of Gods but of one God. Why then do you bring your rash arguments into conflict with the power of the truth, and sow the seed of your poisonous impiety in those who are wont heedlessly to handle the holy and inspired writings?

24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My words.

When He has premised and rightly defined who those that love Him are, and of what blessings they will partake, He at once proceeds to treat of others who have not yet chosen to love Him. “For they will not keep My words,” He says; for this is the meaning of the saying, “he will not keep My word,” spoken as if of and concerning one man, even though it has a broad and generic signification. And this that He says has a very apt connexion with what precedes. For, if the keeping of His commandments or His Word is a clear proof of love towards Him, surely the converse of this will be true. For treating His bidding as of no account and thrusting His commandment aside will be a sign that we refuse to love Him, as these are the acts of men inured to evil-doing. But just as He promised that together with God the Father He would Himself abide with those who keep His laws, for the same reason, I think, He will pass away from and wholly abandon those who do the reverse. For thus the truth of Solomon’s saying will be seen: Into the soul of him that maketh iniquity wisdom will not enter, nor dwell in the body given over to sin. For in common life you can observe that a similar result follows: for does not a man gain repute by conversing with those who are likeminded and who choose the same path of life, rather than with others? And Every creature loves his like, according to the saying, and Man will seek union with his like. And if it seems most desirable even among ourselves to live with those of similar habits to ourselves, how can we escape the reflection that this is still more the case with God? For as He is good by nature and the beginning and source of all virtue, He takes up His abode not in the lovers of wickedness but in the workers of virtue, and disdains the impure, and with good reason. As then we ourselves are naturally eager to rid our houses of filth and stench if any such there be, disdaining to live in them, will not the pure and all-holy God still more disdain the polluted soul, and abominate a heart sunk in the slough of sin? Of this there can be no question. For that he that doth not keep His commandment will be found among these and not elsewhere, being as he is impure and of filthy lusts, our speculation will perforce teach you. For in not keeping the Divine commands the origin of sin is found.

For just as the deprivation of light introduces its opposite, I mean darkness, just so refusing to do virtuous acts causes wickedness to spring up. For inasmuch as the subject-matter that underlies them is one and the same, things diverse from each other in quality may admit of comparison (I am far from saying they are identical) according to the law of contraries.

And so vice and virtue are separate and widely opposed to each other in quality, or how could one speak without falling into error? But both characters cannot belong to any one among us in the same relation and be fulfilled in action. For either a man is good or bad, though he may not have reached the height of iniquity or virtue. Then when the one principle is powerful within us, the other, that is the opposite, will be weak. And so if the formal principle of virtue consist in keeping His commandments, is it not most plain that in not keeping them wickedness originates? Just as to have in himself the Father and the Son, which is the origin and basis of all satisfaction of soul and glory, is in store for him that keeps His commandments, so he that keepeth them not is wholly cut off from participation in the ineffable Divine nature; which is, in effect, incapacity to enjoy any blessing. If any man then think it a good and desirable thing to partake of the Divine nature and to have God Who is the Father of the universe indwelling and abiding in the shrine of the heart by His Son, in the Spirit, let him thoroughly purge his soul, and wash away the stain of wickedness, by whatever means he can; and most of all, by all kinds of well-doing. For then will he become truly the temple of God; and He will rest and abide in him, according to the Scripture. For then it will not be with him as it was with the lawyer mentioned in the Gospels, who did not wait for grace from the Saviour, but said that he went self-called to follow Him; and, eager to seize so desirable a blessing, exclaimed, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest: but what said Christ to him as in a parable and in riddles, The foxes have holes and the birds of the heaven have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Head. By foxes and birds of the heaven He meant wicked and unclean devils, and the spirits of the world and of the air, which love to dwell and take up their abode in the hearts of pleasure-seekers, fulfilling their own lusts, and so cramping the miserable souls of those who receive them that God can find no place at all for rest in them. This is what He means by laying His Head.

Let us then cleanse our hearts from every defilement, for so will God dwell in us and will render us proof against all the malice of the devil, and will make us happy and blessed, and will render us partakers of His ineffable Divine nature.

24 And the word which ye hear is not Mine but the Father’s Who sent Me.

He once more deals with a difficult subject which required of Him accurate explanation, and again brings forward illustrations by which they might have their understanding better fitted to fully comprehend the depth of the mystery. And He confirms the minds of His hearers in order that they might not be allured by the ignorant prejudices of the Jews, and in their desire to bring their own ideas into conformity with the Jewish do despite unto the holy teaching of the Gospel. What I wish to say is this in plain words: For the law having a shadow and an impressed type until a time of reformation, according to the saying of Paul, hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ, and provided, as it were, a preliminary training for virtue according to godliness. If any one then were to call the Mosaic dispensation preparatory to true worship in Spirit, he would not miss the mark. For, for this reason, the Law brought nothing to perfection; but our Lord Jesus Christ showed us no longer the shadows of things, but the reality itself openly, no longer sketching the outline of virtue in types and figures, as Moses did, but setting it up naked in the public sight, accomplishing the perfect man in righteousness. The instruction of the words of Christ was then a shifting and moulding of the types into truth. And since, as the truth was already shining forth, it was superfluous for the shadow any longer to prevail, Christ ordained that those who came to Him by faith should no longer frame their conduct by the types of the Law. This was very grievous to the Jews, for they thought that Christ came to destroy the old Law, although they heard Him saying openly, I come not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil. For I say unto you, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the Law till all things be accomplished. The realisation of excellence which was introduced by the laws of Christ brings with it the fulfilment of the shadow of the Law, as we have just said. For inasmuch as in their headstrong passion they became backsliders into disobedience, and assuming a zeal for the Law not according to knowledge, they thought themselves to be advocating the Law by rejecting the commandments of Christ, it was for this very reason in order that He might not seem to any to be laying down some new and peculiar laws adverse to the will of God the Father He conveyed this useful and necessary rebuke—The word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me. Let not any one of those who come to Me by faith, He says, think that I have made any discourse not in accord with the will of God the Father. The tidings of the Gospel are His and not another’s, but He gave them not as ashamed of the older enactments, nor again as though the better commandment had been unveiled at the moment; but rather because the type had been moulded into reality at the fitting time. For He That said those things by Me to the men of old time says this also now to you: for I am the living Word That interprets the ineffable Will of God the Father, wherefore am I called the Angel of great counsel.

For either after this manner we shall receive the saying, I mean the following—The word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me, or we shall understand it in another way. For He says that His own word is the word of God the Father, that they who keep it may know that they honour God when they are persuaded by the words which come from Him: while others, falling into the contrary extreme and not disdaining by disobedience to insult the commandment given to them, sin against the nature of the Most Highest. Now it was possible in two ways to confirm the minds of His hearers: for either the wish to honour God would incline them at all events to obedience, or the fear of coming into conflict with Him would also have this effect. For the calculation of what is useful and expedient runs through both methods. And when He says, “It is not My word,” He does not at all put out of our sight the peculiar character which He bears as the Word and God. And, while He still wears His homely shape, and appears and truly is in the guise of manhood, and is really like as we are when He is saying this, He is not willing that His word should be thought merely human, but really Divine and regal; of necessity merging His character in that of the Father, in order that He might not by sundering Himself admit the conception of two Sons, as the Son is one and the same both before and after His Incarnation. For Christ is one, and not two, as some say: for the Word proceeding from the Father, being God, became flesh according to the saying of John not by conversion into flesh, but by enshrining His divinity in flesh from the womb of the holy virgin. In order then that we may not think His word is merely human, or divest the Gospel teaching of its Divine character, but may be convinced that it comes from the God Who is over all, appropriately and with great reason, inasmuch as He was then appearing to them in the form of man, He attributes His words to His Divine Nature, as in the character of God the Father, from Whom and in Whom He is by nature as His effulgence and His word and the Express Image of His Person.

25 These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you. 26 But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send unto you in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said.

Contrariwise, His speech has in it the human element, and is not quite foreign to the standards we apply to ourselves, to the extent that the mind into which it entered was fitted to receive the words before us. Perhaps some one will plausibly say that Christ is not amongst us according to the power of His Godhead, although He fills the Universe and is not wholly separated from anything, but rather encompasses with unspeakable might earth and heaven, and does not leave the depths of the abyss: for where is not God? When, then, He says, These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you, we must think that He there speaks as a man; and since He was about to vanish from our sight, I mean according to the flesh, He says this when the preparation for His departure into heaven was complete; and He says that the most perfect and complete revelation to us of the mystery is through the Comforter, that is the Holy Ghost, sent from the Father in His Name, I mean that of the Son. For as His Spirit is Christ in us, therefore He says, He shall teach you all things that I said. For since He is the Spirit of Christ, and His mind, as it is written, which is nought else but what He is, in regard to identity of nature, even though He be both conceived of and is existent, He knows all that is in Him. And Paul will be our witness, saying, For who knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth save the Spirit of God. Wherefore as knowing what is in the counsel of the Only-begotten, He reporteth all things to us, not having the knowledge thereof from learning, that is; that He may not seem to fill the rank of a minister and to transmit the words of another but as His Spirit, as we said just now, and knowing untaught all that belongeth to Him of Whom and in Whom He is, He revealeth to the Saints the Divine mysteries; just as man’s mind too, knowing all things that are therein, ministereth externally by uttered word the desires of the soul whose mind it is, being mentally discerned in the thoughts, and named as something else than itself, not other by nature, but as a part complemental of the whole, existing in it and believed to go forth from it. Such a relation as this is inapplicable to the ineffable Divine Nature. For small is all the power of illustrations, even if it go on to subtleties. The perfect knowledge then is begotten in the Saints by the Spirit. And indeed the inspired Paul exhorts some: I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the Saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working which He hath wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. For in the revelation of these things by the Spirit working in us in an unspeakable way, we see the deep meaning of the Incarnation and the power of the hidden mystery. And that His Spirit, indwelling in the Saints, accomplishes the presence and the power of Christ Himself and teaches all things that He has spoken unto us. Paul will once more make none the less clear to us by the words: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from Whom every family both in heaven and on earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith to the end; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the Saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.

Furthermore, we must show that when He said that all would be revealed by the Spirit to the Saints, He does not give them over to another master—do not think that: but He keeps them by His side, through the Spirit, no longer seen by the eye of the flesh, but rather gazed upon as became a God by the intellectual vision of the heart.

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.

Herein when He reminds His holy Apostles of His ascension into heaven, and prepares them for the knowledge that they will be left thereby alone by the saying: These things have I spoken unto you while yet abiding with you, He was stricken at heart by the knowledge, being as He was by nature God, that the saying gave them no small alarm, and put them into great fear and trembling, and by laying a burden of grief upon them had stirred the mind of each to its depths. For what could be more grievous than their sorrow, and what so burdensome as to be robbed of the highest blessings and to undergo the unexpected loss of that which was most dear to them? He therefore stablishes them when they were disturbed by grief and fear. For the cause and root of their sorrow, His being about to leave them and go to His Father, was most well-grounded. But He considered their apprehension of unknown suffering as the cause of their grief, and very readily, as He Who was strong to save was no longer present, according to the actual vision of the body. And how does He stablish them, and in what way does He produce in them the brightness of a cheerful spirit, and how are their minds lulled again into a Divine calm? Peace I give unto you, He says, My peace I leave with you. I have often told you, He says, that I will not leave you desolate, nor will you dwell alone in the earth, stripped and robbed of your defender; nay, rather, I will be with you, and though absent in the flesh will again edify you by My consolations as God, and will set you above every terror, and no man shall surpass you in boldness; for all fear shall dwindle away, and cowardice shall vanish from your path, and a Divine power shall spring up in you, bringing you with peaceful mind, and heart at rest, to the revelation of those things which pass man’s understanding. And now, He says, Peace I give unto you, not simply, but My peace. And this was clearly nothing else but saying: I will bring the Spirit, and of Myself will abide with those who receive Him.

For that the peace of Christ is His Spirit, it needs no long argument to completely demonstrate. But I suppose one ought to say this, if He is peace in heaven and on the earth, how can it fail to be clear to everyone, that as we have said, the peace is certainly His Spirit? And indeed the inspired Paul said to some: And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall guard your hearts and your thoughts. And surely it is right to reflect, that it is not about that peace which has reference to common thought and action that He says this. For that disposition which loathes dispute and strife has and works peace, so far as its own waverings and inclinations will allow it. And we shall not think that the peace which is here meant is something which has not a real and independent existence; but we must suppose that it is found in the temper of those who love it. How then can one think that such a peace as this surpasses all understanding? For that which nowhere and nohow has an independent existence, how could that be thought better and nobler than men, or angels, or even higher beings? for these too we say are mind. The peace therefore that is above all principality, and power, and thrones, and sovereignties, and excels all intellectual existence, is the Spirit of Christ, by Which the Son reconciles all things to God the Father, by willing the things that are His and by wishing to think and do them, and not by being perverted or falling away through turning aside to wickedness. And it is easy and expedient to reflect on this. For just in the same way as since the Son is by nature life, and wisdom, and power, and the Spirit is called and is His, the Spirit is of life, and wisdom, and power; so since the true and sovereign peace is He Himself and no other, His Spirit might rightly be named and thought as He is—“peace.” For this reason and in a special manner referring His own peace, that is to say the Spirit, to His own nature, He says concerning Him, My peace I leave with you. That also in the holy prophets the Spirit of Christ has been so named, you will easily perceive, when you hear this from the mouth of Isaiah: O Lord our God grant us peace: for Thou hast given us all things. For as the Law brought nothing to completion, and righteousness according to it did not suffice to bring men to perfect piety, He entreats that the Holy Spirit be vouchsafed, by Whom, reconciled to God the Father, we have been admitted into fellowship with Him, who have before been shown to be reprobates through the sin that reigneth in us. Grant us then peace, he says, Lord; for Thou hast given us all things. And what he wants to show, I say, is this: “Grant us too, Lord, the peace; for we shall then confess that we have all things, and no blessing will be found lacking to him that has once for all reached the fulness of Christ. For it is the completion of all good that God should dwell in us by the Spirit.” For since the Spirit is fully sufficient to allay all tumult of the mind, and to dispel all cowardice in us, He promises to give us as provision by the way, that which is needful to maintain our courage and peace, when He says, My peace I leave with you: let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.

28 Ye heard how I said to you, I go away, and I come unto you.

You learnt, He says, from no other lips than Mine My departure hence, for you heard My sayings with your own ears, and what have I, Who cannot lie, promised unto you? I go away, and I come unto you. If then His words had threatened that His departure would leave them comfortless, and that their bereavement would be eternal, it was very likely that they would thereupon be dreadfully dismayed, and find it unbearable, and fall into excess of despondency. And whereas I said unto you not simply that I would go away, but that I would come again in due season, why then, He says, do you let into your hearts only the cause of grief, and slight by your forgetfulness that which is able to cheer. Let that which knows how to succour arise in you to combat that which affrights: and let the power of the Comforter wrestle with the incitements to grief. For it has been ordained that I should ascend to God the Father, but I have promised to come again. He allays then the agony of grief He found in His disciples; and just as a fond and good father, compelled for some needful purpose to take his children from the nurse that bears them, and seeing a flood of tears bedewing their delicate and dear cheeks, he tries every blandishment, and by always insisting on the good that will result from her absence, arms in some sort hope against grief, where the affections are most nearly concerned; so also our Lord Jesus Christ shields the souls of His Saints from sorrow. For He knew, being truly God, that His abandonment of them would be very grievous unto them, although He were ever with them by the Spirit. And this proves His love and extreme holiness. For to wish to be with Christ, how does not that most truly become the Saints? And of a truth the admirable Paul has this aim in view when he says: It is better to depart and be with Christ.








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