Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter VI. He illustrates the same doctrine by passages from the New Testament.
He illustrates the same doctrine by passages from the New Testament.
“That,” says the Apostle John, “which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of the life: for the life was manifested: and we have seen, and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal which was with the Father, and hath appeared unto us.” 2513 You see how the old testimonies are confirmed by fresh ones, and the support of the new preaching is given to the ancient prophecy. Isaiah said: “Cease ye from the man whose breath is in his nostrils for he is reputed high.” But John says: “That which was from the beginning, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.” The former said that as man He would be persecuted by the Jews: the latter declared that as man He was handled by mens hands. The one predicted that He whom he announced as man, would be God Most High: the other asserts that He whom he showed to have been handled by men, was ever God in the beginning. It is then as clear as possible that they both showed the Lord Jesus Christ to be both God and man; and that the same Person was afterwards man who had always been God, and thus He was God and man, because God Himself became man. That then, he says, “which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life; and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal which was with the Father, and hath appeared unto us.” You see the number of proofs and ways, very different and numerous, in which that Apostle so well beloved and so devoted to God, indicates the mystery of the Divine Incarnation. In the first instance he testifies that He, who ever was in the beginning, was seen in the flesh. Lest in case it might not seem sufficient for unbelievers that he had spoken of Him as seen and heard, he supports it by saying that He was handled, i.e., touched and felt by his own hands and by those of others. Admirably indeed by showing how He took flesh, does he shut out the view of the Marcionites and the error of the Manichees, so that no one may think that a phantom appeared to men, since an apostle has declared that a true body was handled by him. Then he adds “the word of life: and the life was manifested;” and that he saw it, announced it, and proclaimed it: thus at the same time carrying out the duties of the faith and striking the unbelievers with terror, that while he declares that he proclaims Him, he may bring home the danger in which he stands, to the man who will not listen. “We declare to you,” he says, “the life eternal which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us.” He teaches that that which was ever with the Father appeared to men: and that which was ever in the beginning, was seen of men: and that which was the Word of life without beginning, was handled by mens hands. You see the number and variety, the particularity and the clearness of the ways in which he unfolds the mystery of the flesh joined to God, in such a way that no one could speak at all of either without acknowledging both. As the Apostle himself clearly says elsewhere: “For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” 2514 This is what he said in the passage given above: “That which was from the beginning, our hands have handled.” Not that a spirit can in its own nature be handled: but that the Word made flesh was in a sense handled in the manhood with which it was joined. And so Jesus is “the same yesterday and to-day”: i.e., the same Person before the commencement of the world, as in the flesh; the same in the past as in the present, the same also for ever, for He is the same through all the ages, as before all the ages. And all this is the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:1, 2.584:2514
Heb. xiii. 8.
Next: Chapter VII. He shows again from the union in Christ of two natures in one Person that what belongs to the Divine nature may rightly be ascribed to man, and what belongs to the human nature to God.
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