John xvi. 4-6.-"These things I said not unto you at the
beginning, because I was with you. But now I go My way to Him that sent
Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said
these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart."
[1.] Great is the tyranny of despondency, and much courage do we need
so as to stand manfully against the feeling, and after gathering from it
what is useful, to let the superfluous go. It hath somewhat useful; for
when we ourselves or others sin, then only is it good to grieve; but when
we fall into human vicissitudes, then despondency is useless. And now when
it has overthrown the disciples who were not yet perfect, see how Christ
raiseth them again by His rebuke. They who before this had asked Him ten
thousand questions, (for Peter said, "Whither goest Thou?" [c. xiii. 36];
and Thomas, "We know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?"
[c. xiv. 5 and 8]; and Philip, "Show us Thy Father";) these men, I say,
now hearing, "they will put you out of the synagogues," and "will hate
you," and "whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service,"
were so cast down as to be struck dumb, so that they spake nothing to Him.
This then He maketh a reproach to them, and saith, "These things I said
not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you; but now I go unto
Him that sent Me, and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? but because
I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart." For
a dreadful thing is immoderate sorrow, dreadful and effective of death.
Wherefore Paul said, "Lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up by
overmuch sorrow." (2 Cor. ii. 7.)
"And these things," saith He, "I told you not at the beginning."
Why did He not tell them at the beginning? That none might say that He
spake guessing from the ordinary course of events. And why did He enter
on a matter of such unpleasantness? "I knew these things," He saith, "from
the beginning, and spake not of them; not because I did not know them,
but `because I was with you.'" And this again was spoken after a human
manner, as though He had said, "Because ye were in safety, and it was in
your power to question Me when ye would, and all the storm blew upon Me,
and it was superfluous to tell you these things at the beginning." "But
did He not tell them this? Did He not call the twelve, and say unto them,
`Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake,' and, `they
shall scourge you in the synagogues'? (Matt. x. 18, Matt. x. 17). How then
saith He, `I told you not at the beginning'?" Because He had proclaimed
before the scourgings and bringing before princes, still not that their
death should appear so desirable that the action should even be deemed
a service to God. For this more than anything was suited to terrify them,
that they were to be judged as impious and corrupters. This too may be
said, that in that place He spake of what they should suffer from the Gentiles,
but here He hath added in a stronger way the acts of the Jews also, and
told them that it was at their doors.
"But now I go to Him that sent Me, and no man of you saith, Whither
goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath
filled your heart." It was no slight comfort to them to learn that
He knew the excess of their despondency. For they were beside themselves
from the anguish caused by their being left by Him, and from their awaiting
the terrible things which were to come, since they knew not whether they
should be able to bear them manfully. "Why then after this did He not tell
them that they bad been vouchsafed the Spirit?" That thou mightest learn
that they were exceedingly virtuous. For if, when they had not yet been
vouchsafed the Spirit, they started not back, though overwhelmed with sorrow,
consider what soft of men they were likely to be after having enjoyed the
grace. If they had heard this at that time, and so had endured, we should
have attributed the whole to the Spirit, but now it is entirely the fruit
of their own state of mind, it is a clear manifestation of their love for
Christ, who applieth a touchstone to their mind as yet defenseless.
Ver. 7. "But I tell you the truth."
Observe how He consoleth them again. "I speak not," He saith,"to please
you, and although you be grieved ten thousand fold, yet must ye hear what
is for your good; it is indeed to your liking that I should be with you,
but what is expedient for you is different. And it is the part of one caring
for others, not to be over gentle with his friends in matters which concern
their interests, or to lead them away from what is good for them."
"For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come."
What here say those who hold not the fitting opinion concerning the
Spirit? Is it "expedient" that the master depart, and the servant come?
Seest thou how great is the honor of the Spirit?
"But if I depart, I will send Him unto you." And what the gain?
Ver. 8. "He, when He is come, will reprove the world."
That is, "they shall not do these things unpunished if He come. For
indeed, the things that have been already done, are sufficient to stop
their mouths; but when these things are also done by Him, when doctrines
are more perfect and miracles greater, much more shall they be condemned
when they see such things done in My Name, which make the proof of the
Resurrection more certain. For now they are able to say, `this is the carpenter's
son, whose father and mother we know'; but when they see the bands of death
loosed, wickedness cast out, natural lameness straightened, devils expelled,
abundant supply of the Spirit, and all this effected by My being called
on, what will they say? The Father hath borne witness of Me, and the Spirit
will bear witness also." Yet He bare witness at the beginning. Yea, and
shallalso do it now. But the, "will convince,"
Ver. 9. "Of sin"
This meaneth, "will cut off all their excuses, and show that they have
Ver. 10. "Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see
Me no more."
That is, "I have exhibited a blameless life, and this is the proof,
that, `I go to the Father.'" For since they continually urged this against
Him, that He was not from God, and therefore called Him a sinner and transgressor,
He saith, that the Spirit shall take from them this excuse also. "For if
My being deemed not to be from God, showeth Me to be a transgressor, when
the Spirit shall have shown that I am gone thither, not merely for a season,
but to abide there, (for the, `Ye see Me no more,' is the expression of
one declaring this,) what will they say then?" Observe how by these two
things, their evil suspicion is removed; since neither doth working miracles
belong to a sinner, (for a sinner cannot work them,) nor doth the being
with God continually belong to a sinner. "So that ye can no longer say,
that `this man is a sinner,' that `this man is not from God.'"
Ver. 11. "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
Here again He mooteth the argument concerning righteousness, that He
had overthrown His opponent. Now had He been a sinner, He could not have
overthrown him; a thing which not even any just man had been strong enough
to do. "But that he hath been condemned through Me, they shall know who
trample on him hereafter, and who clearly know My Resurrection, which is
the mark of Him who condemneth him. For he was not able to hold Me. And
whereas they said that I had a devil, and that I was a deceiver, these
things also shall hereafter appear to be false; for I could not have prevailed
against him, had I been subject to sin; but now he is condemned and cast
[2.] Ver. 12. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot
bear them now."
"Therefore it is expedient for you that I depart, if ye then will bear
them when I departed." "And what hath come to pass? the Spirit greater
than Thou, that now indeed we bear not, but It will fit us to bear? Is
It working more powerful and more perfect?" "Not so; for He too shall speak
My words." Wherefore He saith,
Ver. 13-15. "He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall
hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall
glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All
things that the Father hath are Mine."
For since He had told them, that "`He shall teach you, and bring to
your remembrance' (c. xiv. 26), and shall comfort you in your afflictions,"
(which He Himself did not,) and that "it is expedient for you that I should
depart" (ver. 7), and that He should come, and, "`now ye are not able to
bear' (ver. 12), but then ye shall be able," and, that "He shall lead you
into all truth" (ver. 13); lest hearing these things they should suppose
the Spirit to be the greater, and so fall into an extreme opinion of impiety,
therefore He saith, "He shall receive of Mine," that is, "whatsoever things
I have told you, He shall also tell you." When He saith, "He shall speak
nothing of Himself," He meaneth, "nothing contrary, nothing of His own
opposed to My words." As then in saying respecting Himself, "I speak not
of Myself" (c. xiv. 10), He meaneth that He speaketh nothing beside what
the Father saith, nothing of His own against Him, or differing from Him,
so also with respect to the Spirit. But the, "of Mine," meaneth, "of what
I know," "of My own knowledge"; "for the knowledge of Me and of the Spirit
"And He will tell you things to come." He excited their minds,
for the race of man is for nothing so greedy, as for learning the future.
This, for instance, they continually asked Him, "Whither goest Thou?" "Which
is the way?" To free them therefore from this anxiety, He saith, "He shall
foretell you all things, so that ye shall not meet with them without warning."
"He shall glorify Me." How? "In My name He shall grant His inward
workings." For since at the coming of the Spirit they were about to do
greater miracles, therefore, again introducing the Equality of Honor, He
saith, "He shall glorify Me."
What meaneth He by, "all truth"? for this also He testifieth of Him,
that "He shall guide us into all truth." (Ver. 13.) Because He was clothed
with the flesh, and because He would not seem to speak concerning Himself,
and because they did not yet know clearly concerning the Resurrection,
and were too imperfect, and also because of the Jews, that they might not
think they were punishing Him as a transgressor; therefore He spake no
great thing continually, nor plainly drew them away from the Law. But when
the disciples were cut off from them, and were for the future without;
and when many were about to believe, and to be released from their sins;
and when there were others who spake of Him, He with good reason spake
not great things concerning Himself. "So that it proceeded not from ignorance
of Mine," He saith, "that I told you not what I should have told you, but
from the infirmity of the hearers." On this account having said, "He shall
lead you into all truth," He added, "He shall not speak of Himself." For
to show that the Spirit needeth not teaching, hear Paul saying, "So also
the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. ii. 11.)
"As then the spirit of man, not learning from another, knoweth; so also
the Holy Spirit `shall receive of Mine,'" that is, "shall speak in unison
with what is Mine."
"All things that the Father hath are Mine." "Since then those
things are Mine, and He shall speak from the things of the Father, He shall
speak from Mine."
[3.] "But why did not the Spirit come before He departed?" Because the
curse not having yet been taken away, sin not yet loosed, but all being
yet subject to vengeance, He could not come. "It is necessary then," saith
He, "that the enmity be put away, that we be reconciled to God, and then
receive that Gift." But why saith He, "I will send Him"? (Ver. 7.) It meaneth,
"I will prepare you beforehand to receive Him." For, how can that which
Is everywhere, be "sent"? Besides, He also showeth the distinction of the
Persons. On these two accounts He thus speaketh; and also, since they were
hardly to be drawn away from Himself, exhorting them to hold fast to the
Spirit, and in order that they might cherish It. For He Himself was able
to have wrought these things, but He concedeth to the Spirit the working
of miracles, on this account, that they might understand His dignity. For
as the Father could have brought into being things which are, yet the Son
did so, that we might understand His power, so also is it in this case.
On this account He Himself was made Flesh, reserving the inward working
for the Spirit, shutting up the mouths of those who take the argument of
His ineffable love for an occasion of impiety. For when they say that the
Son was made flesh because He was inferior to the Father, we will reply
to them, "what then will ye say of the Spirit?" He took not the flesh,
and yet certainly on this account ye will not call Him greater than the
Son, nor the Son inferior to Him Therefore, in the case of baptism also
the Trinity is included. The Father is able to effect the whole, as is
the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet, since concerning the Father no man doubts,
but the doubt was concerning the Son, and the Holy Ghost, They are included
in the rite, that by Their community in supplying those unspeakable blessings,
we may also fully learn Their community in dignity. For that both the Son
is able by Himself to do that which in the case of baptism He is able to
do with the Father, and the Holy Ghost the same, hear these things said
plainly. For to the Jews He said, "That ye may know that the Son of Man
hath power on earth to forgive sins" (Mark ii. 10); and again, "That ye
may become children of light" (c. xii. 36): and, "I give to them eternal
life." (c. x. 28.) Then after this, "That they might have life, and might
have it more abundantly." (c. x. 10.) Now let us see the Spirit also performing
the same thing. Where can we see it? "But the manifestation of the Spirit,"
it saith, "is given to every man to profit withal" (1 Cor. xii. 7; c. vi.
63); He then that giveth these things, much more remitteth sins. And again,
"It is the Spirit that quickeneth"; and, "Shall quicken you by His Spirit
which dwelleth in you" (Rom. viii. 11); and, "The Spirit is Life because
of righteousness" (Rom. viii. 10); and, "If ye are led by the Spirit, ye
are not under the Law." (Gal. v. 18.) "For ye have not received the Spirit
of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption."
(Rom. viii. 15.) All the wonders too which they then wrought, they wrought
at the coming of the Spirit. And Paul writing to the Corinthians, said,
"But ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. vi. 11.) Since
then they had heard many things of the Father, and had seen the Son work
many things, but as yet knew nothing clearly of the Spirit, that Spirit
doeth miracles, and bringeth in the perfect knowledge. But (as I said before)
that He may not thence be supposed to be greater, on this account Christ
saith, "Whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show
you things to come." Since, if this be not so, how could it be otherwise
than absurd, if He was about to hear then, and on account of those who
were being made disciples? For according to you, He would not even then
know, except on account of those who were about to hear. What could be
more unlawful than this saying? Besides, what would He have to hear? Did
He not speak all these things by the Prophets? For if He was about to teach
concerning the dissolution of the Law, it had been spoken of: if concerning
Christ, His Divinity and the Dispensation, these had been spoken of also.
What could He say more dearly after this?
"And shall show you things to come." Here most of all Christ
showeth His Dignity, for to foretell things to come is especially the property of
God. Now if He also learn this from others, He will have nothing more than
the Prophets, but here Christ declareth a knowledge brought into exact accordance
with God, that it is impossible that He should speak anything else. But
the, "shall receive of Mine," meaneth, "shall receive, either of the grace
which came into My Flesh, or of the knowledge which I also have, not as
needing it, nor as learning it from another, but because it is One and
the same." "And wherefore spake He thus, and not otherwise?" Because they
understand not yet the word concerning the Spirit, wherefore He provideth
for one thing only, that the Spirit should be believed and received by
them, and that they should not be offended. For since He had said, "One
is your Teacher, even Christ" (Matt. xxiii. 10), that they might not deem
that they should disobey Him in obeying the Spirit, He saith, "His teaching
and Mine are One; of what I should have taught, of those things shall He
also speak. Do not suppose His words are other than Mine, for those words
are Mine, and confirm My opinion. For One is the will of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Thus also He willeth us to be, when
He saith, "That they may be one, as Thou and I are One." (c. xvii. 11.)
[4.] There is nothing equal to unanimity and concord; for so one is
manifold. If two or ten are of one mind, the one is one no longer, but
each one is multiplied tenfold, and thou wilt find the one in the ten,
and the ten in the one; and if they have an enemy, he who attacks the one,
as having attacked the ten, is vanquished; for he is the mark not for one,
but for ten opponents. Is one in want? No, he is not in want, for he is
wealthy in his greater part, that is, in the nine; and the needy part,
the lesser, is concealed by the wealthy part, the greater. Each of these
hath twenty hands, twenty eyes, and as many feet. For he sees not with
his own eyes alone, but with those of others; he walks not with his own
feet alone, but with those of others; he works not with his own hands alone,
but with theirs. He hath ten souls, for not only doth he take thought for
himself, but those souls also for him. And if they be made a hundred, it
will still be the same, and their power will be extended. Seest thou the
excess of love, how it makes the one both irresistible and manifold, how
one can even be in many places, the same both in Persia and in Rome, and
that what nature cannot do, love can? for one part of him will be here,
and one there, or rather he will be wholly here and wholly there. If then
he have a thousand or two thousand friends, consider again whither his
power will extend. Seest thou what an increase-giving thing is love? for
the wonderful thing is this, its making one a thousand. Why then do we
not acquire this power and place ourselves in safety? This is better than
all power or riches, this is more than health, than light itself, it is
the groundwork of good courage. How long do we set our love on one or two?
Consider also the action in the contrary way. Suppose a man without a friend,
a mark of the utmost folly, (for a fool will say, "I have no friend,")
what sort of life will such a one lead? For though he be infinitely rich,
in plenty and luxury, possessed of ten thousand good things, yet is he
desolate and bare of all. But in the case of friends not so; though they
be poor men, yet are they better provided than the wealthy; and the things
which a man undertakes not to say for himself, a friend will say for him,
and whatever gratifications he is not able to procure for himself, he will
be enabled to obtain by means of another, and much more; and it will be
to us the groundwork of all enjoyment and safety, since one who is guarded
by so many spearmen cannot suffer harm. For the king's body guards are
not equal in their strictness to these. The one perform their watch through
compulsion and fear, the others through kindness and love; and love is
far mightier than fear. The king fears his own guards; the friend is more
confident in them than in himself, and by reason of them fears none of
those that plot against him. Let us then engage in this traffic; the poor
man, that he may have consolation in his poverty; the rich, that he may
possess his wealth in safety; the ruler, that he may rule with safety;
the ruled, that he may have benevolent rulers. This is the source of kindness,
this the groundwork of gentleness; since even among beasts, those are the
most fierce and untamable which are not gregarious. For this cause we dwell
in cities, and have public places, that we may converse with one another.
This also Paul commanded, saying, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
together" (Heb. x. 25); for no evil is so great as solitariness, and the
state which is without compact and intercourse. "What then," saith some
one, "of the solitaries, and of those who have occupied the summits of
the mountains?" That neither are they without friends; they have indeed
fled froth the turmoil of common life, but they have many of one soul with
them, and closely bound together one to another; and they have retired
that they might rightly accomplish this thing. For since the rivalry of
business causes many disputes, therefore, removing from among men, they
cultivate love with much exactness. "But how," saith some one, "if a man
be alone can he have ten thousand friends?" I, for my part, desire, if
it be possible, that men should know how to dwell one with another; but
for the present let the properties of friendship remain unshaken. For it
is not place which makes friends. They, for instance, have many who admire
them; now these would not have admired had they not loved them. Again,
they pray for all the world, which is the greatest proof of friendship.
For this cause we salute one another at the Mysteries, that being many
we may become one; and in the case of the uninitiated, we make our prayers
common, supplicating for the sick, and for the produce of the world, for
land and sea. Seest thou all the power of love? in the prayers, in the
Mysteries, in the exhortations? This is that which causeth all good things.
If we hold carefully to this, we shall both rightly dispense things present,
and also obtain the Kingdom; which may we all obtain through the grace
and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to
the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.