Ver. 22, 23. "And ye now therefore have sorrow-[but I will see you
again, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy]." Then, to show that He
shall die no more, He saith, "And no man taketh it from you. And in that
day ye shall ask Me nothing."
Again He proveth nothing else by these words, but that He is from God.
"For then ye shall for the time to come know all things." But what is,
"Ye shall not ask Me"? "Ye shall need no intercessor, but it is sufficient
that ye call on My Name, and so gain all things."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask My Father
in My Name."
He showeth the power of His Name, if at least being neither seen nor
called upon, but only named, He even maketh us approved by the Father.
But where hath this taken place? Where they say, "Lord, behold their threatenings,
and grant unto Thy servants that with boldness they may speak Thy word"
(Acts iv. 29, Acts iv. 31), "and work miracles in Thy Name." "And the place
was shaken where they were."
Ver. 24. "Hitherto ye have asked nothing." [2.] Hence He showeth
it to be good that He should depart, if hitherto they had asked nothing,
and if then they should receive all things whatsoever they should ask.
"For do not suppose, because I shall no longer be with you, that ye are
deserted; My Name shall give you greater boldness." Since then the words
which He had used had been veiled, He saith,
Ver. 25. "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, but the
time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs."
"There shall be a time when ye shall know all things clearly." He speaketh
of the time of the Resurrection. "Then,"
"I shall tell you plainly of the Father."
(For He was with them, and talked with them forty days, being assembled
with them, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God-Acts
i. 3, Acts i 4,)-"because now being in fear, ye give no heed to My words;
but then when ye see Me risen again, and converse with Me, ye will be able
to learn all things plainly, for the Father Himself will love you, when
your faith in Me hath been made firm."
Ver. 26. "And I will not ask the Father."
"Your love for Me sufficeth to be your advocate."
Vet. 27, 28. "Because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I
came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world;
again I leave the world, and go to the Father."
For since His discourse concerning the Resurrection, and together with
this, the hearing that "I came out from God, and thither I go," gave them
no common comfort, He continually handleth these things. He gave a pledge,
in the first place, that they were right in believing on Him; in the second,
that they should be in safety. When therefore He said, "A little while,
and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me"
(ver. 17), they with reason did not understand Him. But now it is no longer
so. What then is, "Ye shall not ask Me"? "Ye shall not say, `Show us the
Father,' and, `Whither goest Thou?' for ye shall know all knowledge, and
the Father shall be disposed towards you even as I am." It was this especially
which made them breathe again, the learning that they should be the Father's
friends wherefore they say,
Ver. 30. "Now we know that Thou knowest all things."
Seest thou that He made answer to what was secretly harboring in their
"And needest not that any man should ask Thee."
That is, "Before hearing, Thou knowest the things which made us stumble,
and Thou hast given us rest, since Thou hast said, `The Father loveth you,
because ye have loved Me.'" After so many and so great matters, they say,
"Now we know." Seest thou in what an imperfect state they were? Then, when,
as though conferring a favor upon Him, they say, "Now we know," He replieth,
"Ye still require many other things to come to perfection; nothing is as
yet achieved by you. Ye shall presently betray Me to My enemies, and such
fear shall seize you, that ye shall not even be able to retire one with
another, yet from this I shall suffer nothing dreadful." Seest thou again
how con descending His speech is? And indeed He makes this a charge against
them, that they continually needed condescension. For when they say, "Lo,
now Thou speakest plainly, and speakest no parable" (ver. 29), "and therefore
we believe Thee" He showeth them that now, when they believe, they do not
yet believe, neither doth He accept their words. This He saith, referring
them to another season. But the,
Ver. 32. "The Father is with Me," He hath again put on their
account; for this they everywhere wished to learn. Then, to show that He
did not give them perfect knowledge by saying this, but in order that their
reason might not rebel, (for it was probable that they might form some
human ideas, and think that they should not enjoy any assistance from Him,)
Ver. 33. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might
That is, "that ye should not cast Me from your thoughts, but receive
Me." Let no one, then, drag these words into a doctrine; they are spoken
for our comfort and love. "For not even when we suffer such things as I
have mentioned shall your troubles stop there, but as long as ye are in
the world ye shall have sorrow, not only now when I am betrayed, but also
afterwards. But rouse your minds, for ye shall suffer nothing terrible.
When the master hath gotten the better of his enemies, the disciples must
not despond." "And how," tell me, "hast Thou `conquered the world'?" I
have told you already, that I have cast down its ruler, but ye shall know
hereafter, when all things yield and give place to you.
[3.] But it is permitted to us also to conquer, looking to the Author
of our faith, and walking on that road which He cut for us. So neither
shall death get the mastery of us. "What then, shall we not die?" saith
some one. Why, from this very thing it is clear that he shall not gain
the mastery over us. The champion truly will then be glorious, not when
he hath not closed with his opponent, but when having closed he is not
holden by him. We therefore are not mortal, because of our struggle with
death, but immortal, because of our victory; then should we have been mortal,
had we remained with him always. As then I should not call the longest-lived
animals immortal, although they long remain free from death, so neither
him who shall rise after death mortal, because he is dissolved by death.
For, tell me, if a man blush a little, should we say that he was continually
ruddy? Not so, for the action is not a habit. If one become pale, should
we call him jaundiced? No, for the affection is but temporary. And so you
would not call him mortal, who hath been for but a short time in the hands
of death. Since in this way we may speak of those who sleep, for they are
dead, so to say, and without action. But doth death corrupt our bodies?
What of that? It is not that they may remain in corruption, but that they
be made better. Let us then conquer the world, let us run to immortality,
let us follow our King, let us too set up a trophy, let us despise the
world's pleasures. We need no toil to do so; let us transfer our souls
to heaven, and all the world is conquered. If thou desirest it not, it
is conquered; if thou deride it, it is worsted. Strangers are we and sojourners,
let us then not grieve at any of its painful things. For if, being sprung
from a renowned country, and from illustrious ancestors, thou hadst gone
into some distant land, being known to no one, having with thee neither
servants nor wealth, and then some one had insulted thee, thou wouldest
not grieve as though thou hadst suffered these things at home. For the
knowing clearly that thou wast in a strange and foreign land, would persuade
thee to bear all easily, and to despise hunger, and thirst, and any suffering
whatever. Consider this also now, that thou art a stranger and a sojourner,
and let nothing disturb thee in this foreign land; for thou hast a City
whose Artificer and Creator is God, and the sojourning itself is but for
a short and little time. Let whoever will strike, insult, revile; we are
in a strange land, and live but meanly; the dreadful thing would be, to
suffer so in our own country, before our fellow-citizens, then is the greatest
unseemliness and loss. For if a man be where he had none that knows him,
he endures all easily, because insult becomes more grievous from the intention
of those who offer it. For instance, if a man insult the governor, knowing
that he is governor, then the insult is bitter; but if he insult, supposing
him to be a private man, he cannot even touch him who undergoeth the insult.
So let us reason also. For neither do our revilers know what we are, as,
that we are citizens of heaven, registered for the country which is above,
fellow-choristers of the Cherubim. Let us not then grieve nor deem their
insult to be insult; had they known, they would not have insulted us. Do
they deem us poor and mean? Neither let us count this an insult. For tell
me, if a traveler having got before his servants, were sitting a little
space in the inn waiting for them, and then the innkeeper, or some travelers,
should behave rudely to him, and revile him, would he not laugh at the
other's ignorance? would not their mistake rather give him pleasure? would
he not feel a satisfaction as though not he but some one else were insulted?
Let us too behave thus. We too sit in an inn, waiting for our friends who
travel the same road; when we are all collected, then they shall know whom
they insult. These men then shall hang their heads; then they shall say,
"This is he whom we" fools "had in derision." (Wisd. v. 3.)
[4.] With these two things then let us comfort ourselves, that we are
not insulted, for they know not who we are, and that, if we wish to obtain
satisfaction, they shall hereafter give us a most bitter one. But God forbid
that any should have a soul so cruel and inhuman. "What then if we be insulted
by our kinsmen? For this is the burdensome thing." Nay, this is the light
thing. "Why, pray?" Because we do not bear those whom we love when they
insult us, in the same way as we bear those whom we do not know. For instance,
in consoling those who have been injured, we often say,"It is a brother
who hath injured you, bear it nobly; it is a father; it is an uncle." But
if the name of "father" and "brother" puts you to shame much more if I
name to you a relationship more intimate than these; for we are not only
brethren one to another, but also members, and one body. Now if the name
of brother shame you, much more that of member. Hast thou not heard that
Gentile proverb, which saith, that "it behooveth to keep friends with their
defects"? Hast thou not heard Paul say, "Bear ye one another's burdens"?
Seest thou not lovers? For I am compelled, since I cannot draw an instance
from you, to bring my discourse to that ground of argument. This also Paul
doth, thus saying, "Furthermore we have had fathers in our flesh, which
corrected us, and we gave them reverence." (Heb. xii. 9.) Or rather, that
is more apt which he saith to the Romans, "As ye have yielded your members
servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield
your members servants to righteousness." For this reason let us confidently
keep hold of the illustration. Now dost thou not observe lovers, what miseries
these suffer when inflamed with desire for harlots, cuffed, beaten, and
laughed at, enduring a harlot, who turns away from and insults them in
ten thousand ways; yet if they see but once anything sweet or gentle, all
is well to do with them, all former things are gone, all goes on with a
fair wind, be it poverty, be it sickness, be it anything else besides these.
For they count their own life as miserable or blessed, according as they
may have her whom they love disposed towards them. They know nothing of
mortal honor or disgrace, but even if one insult, they bear all easily
through the great pleasure and delight which they receive from her; and
though she revile, though she spit in their face, they think, when they
are enduring this, that they are being pelted with roses. And what wonder,
if such are their feelings as to her person? for her very house they think
to be more splendid than any, though it be but of mud, though it be filling
down. But why speak I of walls? when they even see the places which they
frequent in the evening, they are excited. Allow me now for what follows
to speak the word of the Apostle. As he saith, "As ye have yielded your
members servants to uncleanness, so yield your members servants unto righteousness";
so in like manner now I say, "as we have loved these women, let us love
one another, and we shall not think that we suffer anything terrible."
And why say I, "one another"? Let us so love God. Do ye shudder, when ye
hear that I require as much love in the case of God, as we have shown towards
a harlot? But I shudder that we do not show even thus much. And, if you
will, let us go on with the argument, though what is said be very painful.
The woman beloved promises her lovers nothing good, but dishonor, shame,
and insolence. For this is what the waiting upon a harlot makes a man,
ridiculous, shameful, dishonored. But God promiseth us heaven, and the
good things which are in heaven; He hath made us sons, and brethren of
the Only-begotten, and hath given thee ten thousand things while living,
and when thou diest, resurrection, and promiseth that He will give us such
good things as it is not possible even to imagine, and maketh us honored
and revered. Again, that woman compels her lovers to spend all their substance
for the pit and for destruction; but God biddeth us sow the heaven, and
giveth us an hundred-fold, and eternal life. Again, she uses her lover
like a slave, giving commands more hardly than any tyrant; but God saith,
"I no longer call you servants, but friends." (c. xv. 15.)
[5.] Have ye seen the excess both of the evils here and the blessings
there ? What then comes next? For this woman's sake, many lie awake, and
whatever she commands, readily obey; give up house, and father, and mother,
and friends, and money, and patronage, and leave all that belongs to them
in want and desolation; but for the sake of God, or rather for the sake
of ourselves, we often do not choose to expend even the third portion of
our substance, but we look on the hungry, we overlook him, and run past
the naked, and do not even bestow a word upon him. But the lovers, if they
see but a little servant girl of their mistress, and her a barbarian, they
stand in the middle of the market-place, and talk with her, as if they
were proud and glad to do so, unrolling an interminable round of words;
and for her sake they count all their living as nothing, deem rulers and
rule nothing, (they know it, all who have had experience of the malady,)
and thank her more when she commands, than others when they serve. Is there
not with good reason a hell? Are there not with good reason ten thousand
punishments? Let us then become sober, let us apply to the service of God
as much, or half, or even the third part of what others supply to the harlot.
Perhaps again ye shudder; for so do I myself. But I would not that ye should
shudder at words only, but at the actions; as it is, here indeed our hearts
are made orderly, but we go forth and cast all away. What then is the gain?
For there, if it be required to spend money, no one laments his poverty,
but even borrows it to give, perchance, when smitten. But here, if we do
but mention almsgiving, they pretend to us children, and wife, and house,
and patronage, and ten thousand excuses. "But," saith some one, "the pleasure
is great there." This it is that I lament and mourn. What if I show that
the pleasure here is greater? For there shame, and insult, and expense,
cut away no little of the pleasure, and after these the quarreling and
enmity; but here there is nothing of the kind. What is there, tell me,
equal to this pleasure, to sit expecting heaven and the kingdom there,
and the glory of the saints, and the life that is endless? "But these things,"
saith some one, "are in expectation, the others in experience." What kind
of experience? Wilt thou that I tell thee the pleasures which are here
also by experience? Consider what freedom thou enjoyest, and how thou fearest
and tremblest at no man when thou livest in company with virtue, neither
enemy, nor plotter, nor informer, nor rival in credit or in love, nor envious
person, nor poverty, nor sickness, nor any other human thing. But there,
although ten thousand things be according to thy mind, though riches flow
in as from a fountain, yet the war with rivals, and the plots, and ambuscades,
will make more miserable than any the life of him who wallows with those
women. For when that abominable one is haughty, and insolent, you needs
must kindle quarrel to flatter her. This therefore is more grievous than
ten thousand deaths, more intolerable than any punishment. But here there
is nothing of the kind. For "the fruit," it saith, "of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace." (Gal. v. 22.) Here is no quarreling, nor unseasonable pecuniary
expense, nor disgrace and expense too; and if thou give but a farthing,
or a loaf, or a cup of cold water, He will be much beholden to thee, and
He doth nothing to pain or grieve thee, but all so as to make thee glorious,
and free thee from all shame. What defense therefore shall we have, what
pardon shall we gain, if, leaving these things, we give ourselves up to
the contrary, and voluntarily cast ourselves into the furnace that burns
with fire? Wherefore I exhort those who are sick of this malady, to recover
themselves, and return to health, and not allow themselves to fall into
despair. Since that son also was in a far more grievous state than this,
yet when he returned to his father's house, he came to his former honor,
and appeared more glorious than him who had ever been well-pleasing. Let
us also imitate him, and returning to our Father, even though it be late,
let us depart from that captivity, and transfer ourselves to freedom, that
we may enjoy the Kingdom of heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be
glory, for ever and ever. Amen.