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St Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on John (First Part)

Translated by P. E. Pusey

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THE LORD will give utterance to them who evangelize with much power, declareth exceeding well the Psalmist. But I deem that they who ought to approach this, are, not mere chance persons, but those who have been illumined with the grace that is from above, seeing that both All wisdom is from the Lord, as it is written, and Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights. For a thing unsure and not unfraught with peril to the many, is the speaking concerning the Essence that is above all, and the Mysteries belonging thereunto, and silence on these subjects is free from danger. Us nevertheless albeit deeming that we have much need of silence, God Who is over all excludes from this, saying to one of the Saints (this was Paul), Speak and hold not thy peace. And no less does the ordinance of the Law shew this, indicating things spiritual in the grosser type. For it enjoins those who have been called to the Divine Priesthood, to declare to the people by the sound of trumpets, about those things which they ought to learn. For God, when He willed to set forth in His laws most excellent things, did not I deem intend that the leaders of the people should lay their hand on their mouth, as it is written, and, in fear of appearing rashly to attempt things above the mind of man, hold back from the doctrine that is so necessary for those who are being instructed in piety and the knowledge of God, and choose a silence perilous to those who are their disciples. But the Disciple of Christ again terrifies us, saying Be not many masters, and moreover the most wise Preacher too, darkly shewing the peril that exists in the teaching of such things. For, says he, he that cleaveth wood, shall be endangered thereby; if the iron head fall, both himself hath troubled his face and he shall strengthen powers. For he likens the keenness of the mind to the iron-head, in that it is of a nature to pierce through, and sinks in to the innermost parts, even though it be resisted by the thickness and close texture of the wood. Wood again he in a figure calls the thoughts that are in Holy Scripture, which render the Books wherein they are a kind of Spiritual Paradise, and yet more than this, full with the fruitfulness that comes of the Holy Ghost. He that endeavours therefore to unfold the spiritual wood, that is the Divine and Mystic thoughts of Divinely-inspired Scripture by means of insearch, and most accurate grasp and keenness of mind, will run very deep risk, saith he, when the iron-head slippeth, that is when the mind not carried to a true understanding of the things which are written, misses the right perception, and having left, as it were, the straight path, is borne on some other way of thought turned aside from what is fitting. Whereupon he will place in jeopardy the face of his soul, that is, his heart, and will invigorate against himself the bad opposing powers, who with their bitter perverse words sophisticate the mind of those who have gone astray; not suffering it to behold the beauty of truth, but manifoldly perverting it and persuading it to go astray after mad thoughts. For no one calleth Jesus Anathema save in Beelzebub.

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