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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 52

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 52 [XXXII.]—Why Christ, After His Resurrection, Withdrew His Presence from the World.

Although, therefore, the Lord wrought many visible miracles in order that faith might sprout at first and be fed by infant nourishment, and grow to its full strength by and by out of this softness (for as faith becomes stronger the less does it seek such help); He nevertheless wished us to wait quietly, without visible inducements, for the promised hope, in order that “the just might live by faith;” 632 and so great was this wish of His, that though He rose from the dead the third day, He did not desire to remain among men, but, after leaving a proof of his resurrection by showing Himself in the flesh to those whom He deigned to have for His witnesses of this event, He ascended into heaven, withdrawing Himself thus from their sight, and conferring no such thing on the flesh of any one of them as He had displayed in His own flesh, in order that they too “might live by faith,” and in the present world might wait in patience and without visible inducements for the reward of that righteousness in which men live by faith,—a reward which should hereafter be visibly and openly bestowed. To this signification I believe that passage must be referred which He speaks concerning the Holy Ghost: “He will not come, unless I depart.” 633 For this was in fact saying Ye shall not be able to live righteously by faith, which ye shall have as a gift of mine,—that is, from the Holy Ghost,—unless I withdraw from your eyes that which ye now gaze upon, in order that your heart may advance in spiritual growth by fixing its faith on invisible things. This righteousness of faith He constantly commends to them. Speaking of the Holy Ghost, He says, “He shall reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they have not believed on me: of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see me no more.” 634 What is that righteousness, whereby men were not to see Him, except that “the just is to live by faith,” and that we, not looking at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen, are to wait in the Spirit for the hope of the righteousness that is by faith?



Hab. ii. 4.


John xvi. 7.


John xvi. 8-10.

Next: Chapter 53

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