Chrysostom on John 24
"Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast, many believed on Him."
[1.] Of the men of that time some clung to their error, others laid hold on the truth, while of these last, some having retained it for a little while again fell off from it. Alluding to these, Christ compared them to seeds not deeply sown, but having their roots upon the surface of the earth; and He said that they should quickly perish. And these the Evangelist has here pointed out to us, saying,
“When He was in Jerusalem, at the Passover, in the feast, many believed on Him,1 when they saw the miracles which He did.”
Jn 2,24. “But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them.”
For they were the more perfect2 among His disciples, who came to Him not only because of His miracles, but through His teaching also. The grosser sort the miracles attracted, but the better reasoners His prophecies and doctrines; and so they who were taken by His teaching were more steadfast than those attracted by His miracles. And Christ also called them “blessed,” saying, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (c. 20,29). But that these here mentioned were not real disciples, the following passage shows, for it saith, “Jesus did not commit Himself unto them.” Wherefore?
“Because He knew all things,”3
Jn 2,25. “And needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”
The meaning is of this kind. “He who dwells in men’s hearts, and enters into their thoughts, took no heed of outward words; and knowing well that their warmth was but for a season, He placed not confidence in them as in perfect disciples, nor committed all His doctrines to them as though they had already become firm believers.” Now, to know what is in the heart of men belongs to God alone, “who hath fashioned hearts one by one” (Ps 33,15 LXX)., for, saith Solomon, “Thou, even Thou only, knowest the hearts” (1R 8,39); He therefore needed not witnesses to learn the thoughts of His own creatures, and so He felt no confidence in them because of their mere, temporary belief. Men, who know neither the present nor the future, often tell and entrust all without any reserve to persons who approach them deceitfully and who shortly will fall off from them; but Christ did not so, for well He knew all their secret thoughts.
And many such now there are, who have indeed the name of faith, but are unstable,4 and easily led away; wherefore neither now doth Christ commit Himself to them, but concealeth from them many things; and just as we do not place confidence in mere acquaintances but in real friends, so also doth Christ. Hear what He saith to His disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants, ye are My friends.” (c. 15,14, 15,15). Whence is this and why? “Because all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” And therefore He gave no signs to the Jews who asked for them, because they asked tempting Him. Indeed the asking for signs is a practice of tempters both then and now; for even now there are some that seek them and say, “Why do not miracles take place also at this present time?” If thou art faithful, as thou oughtest to be, and lovest Christ as thou oughtest to love Him, thou hast no need of signs, they are given to the unbelievers. “How then,” asks one, “were they not given to the Jews?” Given they certainly were; and if there were times when though they asked they did not receive them, it was because they asked them not that they might be delivered from their unbelief, but in order the more to confirm their wickedness.
Jn 3,1-2. “And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus. The same came to Jesus by night.”
This man appears also in the middle of the Gospel, making defense for Christ; for he saith, “Our law judgeth no man5 before it hear him” (c. 7,51); and the Jews in anger replied to him, “Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Again after the crucifixion he bestowed great care upon the burial of the Lord’s body: “There came also,” saith the Evangelist, “Nicodemus, which came to the Lord6 by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.” (c. 19,39). And even now he was disposed towards Christ,7 but not as he ought, nor with proper sentiments respecting Him, for he was as yet entangled in Jewish infirmity. Wherefore he came by night, because he feared to do so by day. Yet not for this did the merciful God reject or rebuke him, or deprive him of His instruction, but even with much kindness conversed with him and disclosed to him very exalted doctrines enigmatically indeed, but nevertheless He disclosed them. For far more deserving of pardon was he than those who acted thus through wickedness. They are entirely without excuse; but he, though he was liable to condemnation, yet was not so to an equal degree. “How then does the Evangelist say nothing of the kind concerning him?” He has said in another place, that “of the rulers also many believed on Him, but because of the Jews8 they did not confess (Him), lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (c. 12,42); but here he has implied the whole by mentioning his coming “by night.” What then saith Nicodemus?
“Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God: for no man can do the miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.”
[2.] Nicodemus yet lingers9 below, has yet human thoughts concerning Him, and speaks of Him as of a Prophet, imagining nothing great from His miracles. “We know,” he says, “that Thou art a Teacher come from God.” “Why then comest thou by night and secretly, to Him that speaketh the things of God, to Him who cometh from God? Why conversest thou not with Him openly?” But Jesus said nothing like this to him, nor did He rebuke him; for, saith the Prophet, “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; He shall not strive nor cry” (Is 42,2-3 as quoted Mt 12,19-20): and again He saith Himself, “I came not to condemn the world, but to save the world.” (c. 12,47).
“No man can do these miracles, except God be with him.”
Still here Nicodemus speaks like the heretics, in saying, that He hath a power working within Him, 10 and hath need of the aid of others to do as He did. What then saith Christ? Observe His exceeding condescension. He refrained for a while from saying, “I need not the help of others, but do all things with power, for I am the Very Son of God, and have the same power as My Father,” because this would have been too hard for His hearer; for I say now what I am always saying, that what Christ desired was, not so much for a while to reveal His own Dignity, as to persuade men that He did nothing contrary to His Father. And therefore in many places he appears in words confined by limits, 11 but in His actions He doth not so. For when He worketh a miracle, He doth all with power, saying, “I will, be thou clean.” (Mt 8,3). “Talitha, arise.” (Mc 5,41 not verbally quoted). “Stretch forth thy hand.” (Mc 3,5). “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mt 9,2). “Peace, be still.” (Mc 4,39). “Take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” (Mt 9,6). “Thou foul spirit, I say unto thee, come out of him.” (Mc 9,25 not verbally quoted). “Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” (Mt 15,28). “If any one say (aught) unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of him.” (Mc 11,3). “This day shall thou be with Me in Paradise.” (Lc 23,43). “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shall not kill; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mt 5,21-22). “Come ye after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mc 1,17). And everywhere we observe that His authority is great; for in His actions no one could find fault with what was done. How was it possible? Had His words not come to pass, nor been accomplished as He commanded, any one might have said that they were the commandsof a madman; but since they did come to pass, the reality of their accomplishment stopped men’s mouths even against their will. But with regard to His discourses, they might often in their insolence charge Him with madness. Wherefore now in the case of Nicodemus, He utters nothing openly, but by dark sayings leads him up from his low thoughts, teaching him, that He has sufficient power in Himself to show forth miracles; for that His Father begat Him Perfect and All-sufficient, and without any imperfection.
But let us see how He effects this. Nicodemus saith, “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God, for no man can do the miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.” He thought he had said something great when he had spoken thus of Christ. What then saith Christ? To show that he had not yet set foot even on the threshold of right knowledge, nor stood in the porch, but was yet wandering somewhere without the palace, both he and whoever else should say the like, and that he had not so much as glanced towards true knowledge when he held such an opinion of the Only-Begotten, what saith He?
Jn 3,3. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
That is, “Unless thou art born again and receivest the right doctrines, thou art wandering somewhere without, and art far from the Kingdom of heaven.” But He does not speak so plainly as this. In order to make the saying less hard to bear, He does not plainly direct it at him, but speaks indefinitely, “Except a man be born again”: all but saying, “both thou and any other, who may have such opinions concerning Me, art somewhere without the Kingdom.” Had He not spoken from a desire to establish this, His answer would have been suitable to what had been said. Now the Jews, if these words had been addressed to them, would have derided Him and departed; but Nicodemus shows here also his desire of instruction. 12 And this is why in many places Christ speaks obscurely, because He wishes to rouse His hearers to ask questions, and to render them more attentive. For that which is said plainly often escapes the hearer, but what is obscure renders him more active and zealous. Now what He saith, is something like this: “If thou art not born again, if thou partakest not of the Spirit which is by the washing 13 of Regeneration, thou canst not have a right opinion of Me, for the opinion which thou hast is not spiritual, but carnal.” 14 (Tt 3,5). But He did not speak thus, as refusing to confound 15 one who had brought such as he had, and who had spoken to the best of his ability; and He leads him unsuspectedly up to greater knowledge, saying, “Except a man be born again.” The word “again,” 16 in this place, some understand to mean “from heaven,” others, “from the beginning.” “It is impossible,” saith Christ, “for one not so born to see the Kingdom of God”; in this pointing to Himself, and declaring that there is another beside the natural sight, and that we have need of other eyes to behold Christ. Having heard this,
Jn 3,4. “Nicodemus saith, How can a man be born when he is old?”
Callest thou Him “Master,” sayest thou that He is “come from God,” and yet receivest thou not His words, but usest to thy Teacher a manner of speaking which expresses 17 much perplexity? For the “How,” is the doubting question of those who have no strong belief, but who are yet of the earth. Therefore Sarah laughed when she had said, “How?” And many others having asked this question, have fallen from the faith.
[3.] And thus heretics continue in their heresy, because they frequently make this enquiry, saying, some of them, “How was He begotten?” others, “How was He made flesh?” and subjecting that Infinite Essence to the weakness of their own reasonings. 18 Knowing which, we ought to avoid this unseasonable curiosity, for they who search into these matters shall, without learning the “How,” fall away from the right faith. On this account Nicodemus, being in doubt, enquires the manner in which this can be, (for he understood that the words spoken referred to himself,) is confused, and dizzy, 19 and in perplexity, having come as to a man, and hearing more than man’s words, and such as no one ever yet had heard; and for a while he rouses himself at the sublimity of the sayings, but yet is in darkness, and unstable, borne about in every direction, and continually falling away from the faith. And therefore he perseveres in proving the impossibility, so as to provoke Him to clearer teaching.
“Can a man,” he saith, “enter into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
Seest thou how when one commits spiritual things to his own reasonings, he speaks ridiculously, seems to be trifling, or to be drunken, when he pries into what has been said beyond what seems good to God, and admits not the submission of faith? Nicodemus heard of the spiritual Birth, yet perceived it not as spiritual, but dragged down the words to the lowness of the flesh, and i made a doctrine so great and high depend upon physical consequence. And so he invents frivolities, and ridiculous difficulties. Wherefore Paul said, “The natural 20 man receiveth not the things of the Spirit.” (1Co 2,14). Yet even in this he preserved his reverence for Christ, for he did not mock at what had been said, but, deeming it impossible, held his peace. There were two difficulties; a Birth of this kind, and the Kingdom; for neither had the name of the Kingdom ever been heard among the Jews, nor of a Birth like this. But he stops for a while at the first, which most astonished 21 his mind.
Let us then, knowing this, not enquire into things relating to God by reasoning, nor bring heavenly matters under the rule of earthly consequences, nor subject them to the necessity of nature; but let us think of all reverently, believing as the Scriptures have said; for the busy and curious person gains nothing, and besides not finding what he seeks, shall suffer extreme punishment. Thou hast heard, that (the Father) begat (the Son): believe what thou hast heard; but do ask not, “How,” and so take away the Generation; to do so would be extreme folly. For if this man, because, on hearing of a Generation, not that ineffable Generation, but this which is by grace, he conceived nothing great concerning it, but human and earthly thoughts, was therefore darkened and in doubt, what punishment must they deserve, who are busy and curious about that most awful Generation, which transcends all reason and intellect? For nothing causes such dizziness 22 as human reasoning, all whose words are of earth, and which cannot endure to be enlightened from above. Earthly reasonings are full of mud, and therefore need we streams from heaven, that when the mud has settled, the clearer portion may rise and mingle with the heavenly lessons; and this comes to pass, when we present an honest soul and an upright life. For certainly it is possible for the intellect to be darkened, not only by unseasonable curiosity, but also by corrupt manners; wherefore Paul hath said to the Corinthians, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able, for ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal?” (1Co 3,2). And also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in many places, one may see Paul asserting that this is the cause of evil doctrines; for that the soul possessed by passions 23 cannot behold anything great or noble, but as if darkened by a sort of film 24 suffers most grievous dimsightedness.
Let us then cleanse ourselves, let us kindle the light of knowledge, let us not sow among thorns. What the thorns are, ye know, though we tell you not; for often ye have heard Christ call the cares of this present life, and the deceitfulness of riches, by this name. (Mt 13,22). And with reason. For as thorns are unfruitful, so are these things; as thorns tear those that handle them, so do these passions; as thorns are readily caught by the fire, and hateful by the husbandman, so too are the things of the world; as in thorns, wild beasts, and snakes, and scorpions hide themselves, so do they in the deceitfulness of riches. But let us kindle the fire of the Spirit, that we may consume the thorns, and drive away the beasts, and make the field clear for the husbandman; and after cleansing it, let us water it with the streams of the Spirit, let us plant the fruitful olive, that most kindly of trees, the evergreen, the light-giving, the nutritious, the wholesome. All these qualities hath almsgiving, which is, as it were, a seal on 25 those that possess it. This plant not even death when it comes causes to wither, but ever it stands enlightening the mind, feeding the sinews 26 of the soul, and rendering its strength mightier. And if we constantly possess it, we shall be able with confidence to behold the Bridegroom, and to enter into the bridal chamber; to which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen).
1 eij" to; o]noma aujtou`, G. T.
2 ajkribevsteroi, al). ajsfalevsteroi.
3 pavnta [pavnta", G. T.].
5 mh; oJ novmo" hJmw`n k.t.l. G. T.
6 AEIhsou`n, G. T.
7 peri; to`n C.
8 Farisaivou", G. T.
10 ejnergouvmenon aujto;n.
12 al. “of truth.”
13 or, “laver.”
14 yucikh;, “belonging to the natural life,” opposed in N. T). pneumatikhv.
15 or, “strike.”
16 a]nwqen (“again,” or “from above”).
17 lit. “introduces.”
18 Ben. transposes the clauses.
21 lit. “shook.”
22 al. “dreadful darkness.”
25 lit. “with.”
"Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."
[1.] Little children who go daily to their teachers receive their lessons, and repeat1 them, and never cease from this kind of acquisition, but sometimes employ nights as well as days, and this they are compelled2 to do for perishable and transient things. Now we do not ask of you who are come to age such toil as you require of your children; for not every day, but two days only in the week do we exhort you to hearken to our words, and only for a short portion of the day, that your task may be an easy one. For the same reason also we divide3 to you in small portions what is written in Scripture, that you may be able easily to receive and lay them up in the storehouses of your minds, and take such pains to remember them all, as to be able exactly to repeat them to others yourselves, unless any one be sleepy, and dull, and more idle than a little child.
Let us now attend to the sequel of what has been before said. When Nicodemus fell into error and wrested the words of Christ to the earthly birth, and said that it was not possible for an old man to be born again, observe how Christ in answer more clearly reveals the manner of the Birth, which even thus had difficulty for the carnal enquirer, yet still was able to raise the hearer from his low opinion of it. What saith He? “Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” What He declares is this: “Thou sayest that it is impossible, I say that it is so absolutely possible as to be necessary, and that it is not even possible otherwise to be saved.” For necessary things God hath made exceedingly easy also. The earthly birth which is according to the flesh, is of the dust, and therefore heaven4 is walled against it, for what hath earth in common with heaven? But that other, which is of the Spirit, easily unfolds to us the arches5 above. Hear, ye as many as are unilluminated,6 shudder, groan, fearful is the threat, fearful the sentence.7 “It is not (possible),” He saith, “for one not born of water and the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of heaven”; because he wears the raiment of death, of cursing, of perdition, he hath not yet received his Lord’s token,8 he is a stranger and an alien, he hath not the royal watchword. “Except,” He saith, “a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
Yet even thus Nicodemus did not understand. Nothing is worse than to commit spiritual things to argument; it was this that would not suffer him to suppose anything sublime and great. This is why we are called faithful, that having left the weakness of human reasonings below,9 we may ascend to the height of faith, and commit most of our blessings to her 10 teaching; 11 and if Nicodemus had done this, the thing would not have been thought by him impossible. What then doth Christ? To lead him away from his groveling imagination, and to show that He speaks not of the earthly birth, He saith, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” This He spoke, willing to draw him to the faith by the terror of the threat, and to persuade him not to deem the thing impossible, and taking pains to move him from his imagination as to the carnal birth. “I mean,” saith He, “another Birth, O Nicodemus. Why drawest thou down the saying to earth? Why subjectest thou the matter to the necessity of nature? This Birth is too high for such pangs as these; it hath nothing in common with you; it is indeed called ‘birth,’ but in name only has it aught in common, in reality it is different. Remove thyself from that which is common and familiar; a different kind of childbirth bring I into the world; in another manner will I have men to be generated: I have come to bring a new manner of Creation. I formed (man) of earth and water; but that which was formed was unprofitable, the vessel was wrenched awry; 12 I will no more form them of earth and water, but ‘of water’ and ‘of the Spirit.’”
And if any one asks, “How of water?” I also will ask, How of earth? How was the clay separated into different parts? How was the material uniform, (it was earth only,) and the things made from it, various and of every kind? Whence are the bones, and sinews, and arteries, and veins? Whence the membranes, and vessels of the organs, the cartilages, the tissues, the liver, spleen, and heart? whence the skin, and blood, and mucus, and bile? whence so great powers, whence such varied colors? These belong not to earth or clay. How does the earth, when it receives the seeds, cause them to shoot, while the flesh receiving them wastes them? How does the earth nourish what is put into it, while the flesh is nourished by these things, and does not nourish them? The earth, for instance, receives water, and makes it wine; the flesh often receives wine, and changes it into water. Whence then is it clear that these things are formed of earth, when the nature of the earth is, according to what has been said; 13 contrary to that of the body? I cannot discover by reasoning, I accept it by faith only. If then things which take place daily, and which we handle, require faith, much more do those which are more mysterious and more spiritual than these. For as the earth, which is soulless and motionless, was empowered by the will of God, and such wonders were worked in it; much more when the Spirit is present with the water, do all those things so strange and transcending reason, easily take place.
[2.] Do not then disbelieve these things, because thou seest them not; thou dost not see thy soul, and yet thou believest that thou hast a soul, and that it is a something different besides 14 the body.
But Christ led him not in by this example, but by another; the instance of the soul, though it is incorporeal, He did not adduce for that reason, because His hearer’s disposition was as yet too dull. He sets before him another, which has no connection with the density of solid bodies, yet does not reach so high as to the incorporeal natures; that is, the movement of wind. He begins at first with water, which is lighter than earth, but denser than air. And as in the beginning earth was the subject material, 15 but the whole 16 was of Him who molded it; so also now water is the subject material, and the whole 17 is of the grace of the Spirit: then, “man became a living soul,” (Gn 2,7); now he becomes “a quickening Spirit.” But great is the difference between the two. Soul affords not life to any other than him in whom it is; Spirit not only lives, but affords life to others also. Thus, for instance, the Apostles even raised the dead. Then, man was formed last, when the creation had been accomplished; now, on the contrary, the new man is formed before the new creation; he is born first, and then the world is fashioned a new. (1Co 15,45). And as in the beginning He formed him entire, so He creates him entire now. Then He said, “Let us make for him a help” (Gn 2,18 LXX)., but here He said nothing of the kind. What other help shall he need, who has received the gift of the Spirit? What further need of assistance has he, who belongs to 18 the Body of Christ? Then He made man in the image of God, now He hath united 19 him with God Himself; then He bade him rule over the fishes and beasts, now He hath exalted our first-fruits above the heavens; then He gave him a garden for his abode, 20 now He hath opened heaven to us; then man was formed on the sixth day, when the world 21 was almost finished; but now on the first, at the very beginning, at the time when light was made before. From all which it is plain, that the things accomplished belonged to 22 another and a better life, and to a condition 23 having no end.
The first creation then, that of Adam, was from earth; the next, that of the woman, from his rib; the next, that of Abel, from seed; yet we cannot arrive at the comprehension of 24 any one of these, nor prove the circumstances by argument, though they are of a most earthly nature; 25 how then shall we be able to give account of the unseen 26 generation 27 by Baptism, which is far more exalted than these, or to require arguments 28 for that strange and marvelous Birth? 29 Since even Angels stand by while that Generation takes place, but they could not tell the manner of that marvelous working, they stand by only, not performing anything, but beholding what takes place. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, worketh all. Let us then believe the declaration of God; that is more trustworthy than actual seeing. The sight often is in error, it is impossible that God’s Word should fail; let us then believe it; that which called the things that were not into existence may well be trusted when it speaks of their nature. What then says it? That what is effected is A Generation. If any ask, “How,” stop his mouth with the declaration of God, 30 which is the strongest and a plain proof. If any enquire, “Why is water included?” let us also in return ask, “Wherefore was earth employed at the beginning in the creation of man?” for that it was possible for God to make man without earth, is quite plain to every one. Be not then over-curious).
That the need of water is absolute and indispensable, 31 you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Ac 10,47).
What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery. 32 There are also other points of mystical teaching connected with the matter, but for the present I will mention to you one out of many. What is this one? In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God; 33 burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever; 34 then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead. 35 As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfilleth all this. To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, “We are buried with Him by Baptism into death”: and again, “Our old man is crucified with Him”: and again, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His death.” (Rm 6,4-6). And not only is Baptism called a “cross,” but the “cross” is called “Baptism.” “With the Baptism,” saith Christ, “that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized” (Mc 10,39): and, “I have a Baptism to be baptized with” (Lc 12,50) (which ye know not); for as we easily dip and lift our heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed or rather much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the dispensation of a certain mystery.
[3.] Let us then who have been deemed worthy of such mysteries show forth a life worthy of the Gift, that is, a most excellent conversation; 36 and do ye who have not yet been deemed worthy, do all things that you may be so, that we may be one body, that we may be brethren. For as long as we are divided in this respect, though a man be father, or son, or brother, or aught else, he is no true kinsman, as being cut off from that relationship which is from above. What advantageth it to be bound by the ties of earthly family, if we are not joined by those of the spiritual? what profits nearness of kin on earth, if we are to be strangers in heaven? For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful. He hath not the same Head, he hath not the same Father, he hath not the same City, nor Food, nor Raiment, nor Table, nor House, but all are different; all are on earth to the former, to the latter all are in heaven. One has Christ for his King; the other, sin and the devil; the food 37 of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes; one has worms’ work for his raiment, the other the Lord of angels; heaven is the city of one, earth of the other. Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion? Did we remove the same pangs, 38 did we come forth from the same womb? This has nothing to do with that most perfect relationship. Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city which is above. How long do we tarry over the border, 39 when we ought to reclaim our ancient country? We risk no common danger; for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated, 40 though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble. But God grant that none of those who hear these words experience that punishment! And this will be, if having been deemed worthy of the sacred mysteries, we build upon that foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones; for so after our departure hence we shall be able to appear in that place rich, when we leave not our riches here, but transport them to inviolable treasuries by the hands of the poor, when we lend to Christ. Many are our debts there, not of money, but of sins; let us then lend Him our riches, that we may receive pardon for our sins; for He it is that judgeth. Let us not neglect Him here when He hungereth, that He may ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him. If here we give Him drink, we shall not with the rich man say, “Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may drop water on my broiling 41 tongue.” If here we receive Him into our house, there He will prepare many mansions for us; if we go to Him in prison, He too will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He also will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.
Let us then, as receiving great things though we give but little, still give the little that we may gain the great. While it is yet time, let us sow, that we may reap. When the winter overtakes us, when the sea is no longer navigable, we are no longer masters of this traffic. But when shall the winter be? When that great and manifest Day is at hand. Then we shall cease to sail this great and broad sea, for such the present life resembles. Now is the time of sowing, then of harvest and of gain. If a man puts not in his seed at seed time and sows in harvest, besides that he effects nothing, he will be ridiculous. But if the present is seed time, it follows that it is a time not for gathering together, but for scattering; let us then scatter, that we may gather in, and not seek to gather in now, lest we lose our harvest; for, as I said, this season summons us to sow, and spend, and lay out, not to collect and lay by. Let us not then give up the opportunity, but let us put in abundant seed, and spare none of our stores, that we may receive. them again with abundant recompense, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, world without end. Amen.
2 al). [by you].
4 lit. “things in heaven.”
6 i.e. unbaptized.
9 or, “which is below.”
10 al. “this.”
11 i.e. submit to the teaching of faith concerning them.
13 kata; ta; eijrhmevna. This seems to be the best reading, and is found in Morel. Ben. and mss. Savile reads the passage thus: to; sw`ma;;; ta; eijrhmevna logismw`/ me;n eujrei`n, k.t.l..
15 uJpekei`to stoicei`on .
16 to; pa`n, i.e. the fabric of the human body.
17 i.e. the new man.
18 oJ telw`n eij" to; sw`ma.
22 al. “were the first-fruits of.”
28 Morel. and ms. in Bodl. “but if it is impossible to reply to these questions, how shall it not be more impossible to speak concerning the unseen and far higher Generation? or rather, how is it not superfluous to demand reasons ”&c.
30 al. “of Christ.”
31 ajnagkaiva kai; ajparaivthto".
32 [as it is allowed me from above] Morel.
33 qei`a telei`tai ejn aujtw`/ suvmbola . So in Euseb). Hist. Ecc. 10,3. Baptism is said to be swthrivou pavqou" ajpovrjrJhta suvmbola. See also Rufinus). de Constant. 9. 9.
34 Morel. “having been immersed below, is hidden wholly once for all.” [The whole passage is important for the patristic view of the mode of baptism.—P. S.]
37 al. “the delight.”
38 i.e. “were we twins.”
40 i.e. unbaptized.
Chrysostom on John 24