Ver. 19. "Peace be unto you."
That is, "Be not troubled"; at the same time reminding them of the word
which He spake to them before the Crucifixion, "My peace I leave unto you"
(c. xiv. 27); and again, "In me ye have peace, but" "in the world ye shall
havetribulation." (c. xvi. 33.)
Ver. 20. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord."
Seest thou the words issuing in deeds? For what He said before the Crucifixion,
that "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy
no man taketh from you" (c. xvi. 22), this He now accomplished in deed;
but all these things led them to a most exact faith. For since they had
a truceless war with the Jews, He continually repeated the, "Peace be unto
you," giving them, to counterbalance the war, the consolation. And so this
was the first word that He spake to them after the Resurrection, (wherefore
also Paul continually saith, "Grace be unto you and peace,") and to women
He giveth good tidings of joy, because that sex was in sorrow, and had
received this as the first curse. Therefore He giveth good tidings suitable
respectively, to men, peace, because of their war; joy to women, because
of their sorrow. Then having put away all painful things, He telleth of
the successes of the Cross, and these were the "peace." "Since then all
hindrances have been removed," He saith, "and I have made My victory glorious,
and all hath been achieved," (then He saith afterwards,)
Ver. 21. "As My Father hath sent Me, so send I you."
"Ye have no difficulty, owing to what hath already come to pass, and
to the dignity of Me who send you." Here He lifteth up their souls, and
showeth them their great cause of confidence, if so be that they were about
to undertake His work. And no longer is an appeal made to the Father, but
with authority He giveth to them the power. For,
Ver. 22, 23. "He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy
Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever
sins ye retain, they are retained."
As a king sending forth governors, gives power to east into prison and
to deliver from it, so in sending these forth, Christ investeth them with
the same power. But how saith He, "If I go not away, He will not come"
(c. xvi. 7), and yet giveth them the Spirit? Some say that He gave not
the Spirit, but rendered them fit to receive It, by breathing on them.
For if Daniel when he saw an Angel was afraid, what would not they have
suffered when they received that unspeakable Gift, unless He had first
made them learners? Wherefore He said not, "Ye have received the Holy Ghost,"
but, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Yet one will not be wrong in asserting
that they then also received some spiritual power and grace; not so as
to raise the dead, or to work miracles, but so as to remit sins. For the
gifts of the Spirit are of different kinds; wherefore He added, "Whosesoever
sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them," showing what kind of power
He was giving. But in the other case, after forty days, they received the
power of working miracles. Wherefore He saith, "Ye shall receive power,
after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be My witnesses
both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea." (Acts i. 8.) And witnesses they
became by means of miracles, for unspeakable is the grace of the Spirit
and multiform the gift. But this comes to pass, that thou mayest learn
that the gift and the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
is One. For things which appear to be peculiar to the Father, these are
seen also to belong to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. "How then," saith
some one, "doth none come to the Son, `except the Father draw him'?" (c.
vi. 44.) Why, this very thing is shown to belong to the Son also. "I,"
He saith, "am the Way: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (c. xiv.
6.) And observe that it belongeth to the Spirit also; for "No man can call
Jesus Christ Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii. 3.) Again, we see
that the Apostles were given to the Church at one time by the Father, at
another by the Son, at another by the Holy Ghost, and that the "diversities
of gifts" (1 Cor. xii. 4) belong to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
[4.] Let us then do all we can to have the Holy Spirit with ourselves,
and let us treat with much honor those into whose hands its operation hath
been committed. For great is the dignity of the priests. "Whosesoever sins,"
it saith, "ye remit, they are remitted unto them"; wherefore also Paul
saith, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves."
(Heb. xiii. 17.) And hold them very exceedingly in honor; for thou indeed
carest about thine own affairs, and if thou orderest them well, thou givest
no account for others, but the priest even if he rightly order his own
life, if he have not an anxious care for thine, yea and that of all those
around him, will depart with the wicked into hell; and often when not betrayed
by his own conduct, he perishes by yours, if he have not rightly performed
all his part. Knowing therefore the greatness of the danger, give them
a large share of your goodwill; which Paul also implied when he said, "For
they watch for your souls," and not simply so, but, "as they that shall
give account." (Heb. xiii. 17.) They ought therefore to receive great attention
from you; but if you join with the rest in trampling upon them, then neither
shall your affairs be in a good condition. For while the steersman continues
in good courage, the crew also will be in safety; but if he be tired out
by their reviling him and showing ill-will against him, he cannot watch
equally well, or retain his skill, and without intending it, throws them
into ten thousand mischiefs. And so too the priest, if he enjoy honor from
you, will be able well to order your affairs; but if ye throw them into
despondency, ye weaken their hands, and render them, as well as yourselves,
an easy prey to the waves, although they be very courageous. Consider what
Christ saith concerning the Jews. "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on
Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you to do, do ye." (Matt.
xxiii. 2, Matt. xxiii. 3.) Now we have not to say, "the priests sit on
Moses' seat," but "on that of Christ"; for they have successively received
His doctrine. Wherefore also Paul saith, "We are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God did beseech you by us." (2 Cor. v. 20.) See ye not that in
the case of Gentile rulers, all bow to them, and oftentimes even persons
superior in family, in life, in intelligence, to those who judge them?
yet still because of him who hath given them, they consider none of these
things, but respect the decision of their governor, whosoever he be that
receives the rule over them. Is there then such fear when man appoints,
but when God appointeth do we despise him who is appointed, and abuse him,
and besmirch him with ten thousand reproaches, and though forbidden to
judge our brethren, do we sharpen our tongue against our priests? And how
can this deserve excuse, when we see not the beam in our own eye, but are
bitterly over-curious about the mote in another's? Knowest thou not that
by so judging thou makest thine own judgment the harder? And this I say
not as approving of those who exercise their priesthood unworthily, but
as greatly pitying and weeping for them; yet do I not on this account allow
that it is right that they should be judged by those over whom they are
set. And although their life be very much spoken against, thou, if thou
take heed to thyself, wilt not be harmed at all in respect of the things
committed to them by God. For if He caused a voice to be uttered by an
ass, and bestowed spiritual blessings by a diviner, working by the foolish
mouth and impure tongue of Balsam, in behalf of the offending Jews, much
more for the sake of you the right-minded will He, though the priests be
exceedingly vile, work all the things that are His, and will send the Holy
Ghost. For neither doth the pure draw down that Spirit by his own purity,
but it is grace that worketh all. "For all," it saith, "is for your sake,
whether it be Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas." (1 Cor. iii. 22, 1 Cor. iii.
23.) For the things which are placed in the hands of the priest it is with
God alone to give; and however far human wisdom may reach, it will appear
inferior to that grace. And this I say, not in order that we may order
our own life carelessly, but that when some of those set over you are careless
livers, you the ruled may not often heap up evil for yourselves. But why
speak I of priests? Neither Angel nor Archangel can do anything with regard
to what is given from God; but the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
dispenseth all, while the priest lends his tongue and affords his hand.
For neither would it be just that through the wickedness of another, those
who come in faith to the symbols of their salvation should be harmed. Knowing
all these things, let us fear God, and hold His priests in honor, paying
them all reverence; that both for our own good deeds, and the attention
shown to them, we may receive a great return from God, through the grace
and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and
the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever, and world without