And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
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Alcuin of York
Here is the reason why men believed not, and why they are justly condemned; Thisis the condemnation, that light is come into the world.
Every one that does evil, hates the light; i.e. he who is resolved to sin, who delights in sin, hates the light, which detects his sin.
Because they dislike being deceived, and like to deceive, they love light for discovering herself, and hate her for discovering them. Wherefore it shall be their punishment, that she shall manifest them against their will, and herself not be manifest unto them. They love the brightness of truth, they hateher discrimination; and therefore it follows, Neither comes to the light, that his deeds should be reproved.
He calls the works of him who comes to the light, wrought in God; meaning that his justification is attributable not to his own merits) but to God’s grace.
But if God has discovered all men’s works to be evil, how is it that any have done the truth, and come to the light, i.e. to Christ? Now what He said is, that they loved darkness rather than light; He lays the stress upon that. Many have loved their sins, many have confessed them. God accuses your sins; if you accuse them too, you are joined to God. You must hate your own work, and love the work of God in you. The beginning o...
He calls Himself the light, whereof the Evangelist speaks, That was the true light; whereas sin He calls darkness.
Morally too they love darkness rather than light, who when their preachers tell them their duty, assail them with calumny.
This is the judgment, &c. (Vulg.) Judgment, i.e, cause of judgment, or condemnation. This is the cause why those are already condemned who believe not on Me, because they have preferred darkness, and ignorance of God, and of what they ought to do, and their own pleasures and lusts and sins upon the earth, rather than light, that Isaiah , Christ, who hath brought the knowledge of God and salvation into the world. For light and darkness are the symbols of these things. Wherefore Bede says, He calls Himself the Light; sins He calls darkness. Moreover, light came into the world to arouse men, says the Gloss: to admonish them to know their evils, says S. Chrysostom. "For they themselves would not admit the light of truth and holiness, which He preached by His word and example." In like manner many at the present day become heretics that they may follow their carnal will, which heresy permits, but the faith forbids. Therefore to convert a heretic make use of this method: first persuade him t...
He lets not the condemnation of the unbelievers remain without consideration, but recounts its causes, and shews clearly that, according to the words of the Proverbs, Not unjustly is the net spread for the birds. For they, saith He, who when it was in their power to be illuminated preferred to remain in darkness, how will not they fairly be determiners of punishment against themselves, and self-invited to suffering which it was in their power to escape, if they had been right provers of things, choosing rather to be enlightened than not, and studying to make the baser things second to the better? But He preserved the mind of man free from the bonds of necessity, and tending by its own impulses to both sides, that it might justly receive praise for good things, and punishment for the contrary. As indeed He sheweth in another place, saying, If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall, eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.
Yet he came not to judge or to enquire, but to pardon and remit transgressions, and to grant salvation through faith. How then fled they? Had He come and sat in His Judgment seat, what He said might have seemed reasonable; for he that is conscious to himself of evil deeds, is wont to fly his judge. But, on the contrary, they who have transgressed even run to one who is pardoning. If therefore He came to pardon, those would naturally most hasten to Him who were conscious to themselves of many transgressions; and indeed this was the case with many, for even publicans and sinners sat at meat with Jesus. What then is this which He says? He says this of those who choose always to remain in wickedness. He indeed came, that He might forgive men's former sins, and secure them against those to come; but since there are some so relaxed, so powerless for the toils of virtue, that they desire to abide by wickedness till their latest breath, and never cease from it, He speaks in this place refle...
What He says, is of this kind: they are punished, because they would not leave the darkness, and hasten to the light. And hence He goes on to deprive them of all excuse for the future: Had I come, says He, to punish and to exact account of their deeds, they might have been able to say, 'this is why we started away from you,' but now I have come to free them from darkness, and to bring them to the light; who then could pity one who will not come from darkness unto light? When they have no charge to bring against us, but have received ten thousand benefits, they start away from us. And this charge He has brought in another place, where He says, They hated Me without a cause John 15:25: and again, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin. John 15:22 For he who in the absence of light sits in darkness, may perchance receive pardon; but one who after it has come abides by the darkness, produces against himself a certain proof of a perverse and contentious disposition. Ne...
As if He said, So far from their having sought for it, or labored to find it, light itself has come to them, and they have refused to admit it; Men loved darkness rather than light, Thus He leaves them no excuse. He came to rescue them from darkness, and bring them to light; who can pity him who does not choose to approach the light when it comes unto him? .
Then because it seemed incredible that man should prefer light to darkness, he gives the reason of the infatuation, viz. that their deeds were evil. And indeed had He come to Judgment, there had been some reason for not receiving Him; for he who is conscious of his crimes, naturally avoids the judge. But criminals are glad to meet one who brings them pardon. And therefore it might have been expected that men conscious of their sins would have gone to meet Christ, as many indeed did; for the publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus. But the greater part being too cowardly to undergo the toils of virtue for righteousness’ s...