Writings of Augustine. Sermons on the New Testament

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St. Augustin:

Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament

Translated by the Rev. R. G. Macmullen, M.A.,

Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

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Sermon XX.

[LXX. Ben.]

Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," etc.

1. It seems strange to some, Brethren, when they hear the Lord say, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." [2323] And they consider that they who have fearlessly bowed their necks to this yoke, and have with much submission taken this burden upon their shoulders, are tossed about and exercised by so great difficulties in the world, that they seem not to be called from labour to rest, but from rest to labour rather; since the Apostle also saith, "All who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." [2324] So one will say, "How is the yoke easy, and the burden light," when to bear this yoke and burden is nothing else, but to live godly in Christ? And how is it said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you"? and not rather said, "Come ye who are at ease and idle, that ye may labour." For so he found those men idle and at ease, whom he hired into the vineyard, [2325] that they might bear the heat of the day. And we hear the Apostle under that easy yoke and light burden say, "In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes," [2326] etc., and in another place of the same Epistle, "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice have I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep:" [2327] and the rest of the perils, which may be enumerated indeed, but endured they cannot be but by the help of the Holy Spirit.

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2. All these grievous and heavy trials which he mentioned, did he very frequently and abundantly sustain; but in very deed the Holy Spirit was with him in the wasting of the outward man, to renew the inner man from day to day, and by the taste of spiritual rest in the affluence of the delights of God to soften down by the hope of future blessedness all present hardships, and to alleviate all heavy trials. Lo, how sweet a yoke of Christ did he bear, and how light a burden; so that he could say that all those hard and grievous sufferings at the recital of which as just above every hearer shudders, were a "light tribulation;" as he beheld with the inward eyes, the eyes of faith, at how great a price of things temporal must be purchased the life to come, the escape from the everlasting pains of the ungodly, the full enjoyment, free from all anxiety, of the eternal happiness of the righteous. Men suffer themselves to be cut and burnt, that the pains not of eternity, but of some more lasting sore than usual, may be bought off at the priceof severer pain. For a languid and uncertain period of a very short repose, and that too at the end of life, the soldier is worn down by all the hard trials of war, restless it may be for more years in his labours, than he will have to enjoy his rest in ease. To what storms and tempests, to what a fearful and tremendous raging of sky and sea, do the busy merchantmen expose themselves, that they may acquire riches inconstant as the wind, and full of perils and tempests, greater even than those by which they were acquired! What heats, and colds, what perils, from horses, from ditches, from precipices, from rivers, from wild beasts, do huntsmen undergo, what pain of hunger and thirst, what straitened allowances of the cheapest and meanest meat and drink, that they may catch a beast! and sometimes after all, the flesh of the beast for which they endure all this is of no use for the table. And although a boar or a stag be caught, it is more sweet to the hunter's mind because it has been caught, than it is to the eater's palate because it is dressed. By what sharp corrections of almost daily stripes is the tender age of boys brought under! By what great pains even of watching and abstinence in the schools are they exercised, not to learn true wisdom, but for the sake of riches, and the honours of an empty show, that they may learn arithmetic, [2328] and other literature, and the deceits of eloquence!

3. Now in all these instances, they who do not love these things feel them as great severities; whereas they who love them endure the same, it is true, but they do not seem to feel them severe. For love makes all, the hardest and most distressing things, altogether easy, and almost nothing. How much more surely then and easily will charity do with a view to true blessedness, that which mere desire does as it can, with a view to what is but misery? How easily is any temporal adversity endured, if it be that eternal punishment may be avoided, and eternal rest procured! Not without good reason did that vessel of election say with exceeding joy, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." [2329] See then how it is that that "yoke is easy, and that burden light." And if it be strait to the few who choose it, yet is it easy to all who love it. The Psalmist saith, "Because of the words of Thy lips I have kept hard ways." [2330] But the things which are hard to those who labour, lose their roughness [2331] to those same men when they love. Wherefore it has been so arranged by the dispensation of the Divine goodness, that to "the inner man who is renewed from day to day," [2332] placed no longer under the Law but under Grace, and freed from the burdens of numberless observances which were indeed a heavy yoke, but meetly imposed on a stubborn neck, every grievous trouble which that prince who is cast forth could inflict from without on the outward man, should through the easiness of a simple faith, and a good hope, and a holy charity, become light through the joy within. For to a good will nothing is so easy, as this good will to itself, and this is enough for God. How much soever therefore this world may rage, most truly did the angels exclaim when the Lord was born in the flesh, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will;" [2333] because "His yoke," who was then born, "is easy, and His burden light." And as the Apostle saith, "God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it." [2334]

Footnotes

[2323] Matt. xi. 28-30. [2324] 2 Tim. iii. 12. [2325] Matt. xx. 4. [2326] 2 Cor. vi. 4. [2327] 2 Cor. xi. 24, etc. [2328] Numeros. [2329] Rom. viii. 18. [2330] Ps. xvi. 4, Sept. (xvii. English version). [2331] Mitescunt. [2332] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [2333] Luke ii. 14. [2334] 1 Cor. x. 13. .


Sermon XXI.

[LXXI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 32, "Whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come." Or, "on the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost."

1. There has been a great question raised touching the late lesson of the Gospel, to the solution of which I am unequal by any power of mine own; but "our sufficiency is of God," [2335] to whatever degree we are capable of receiving His aid. First then consider the magnitude of the question; that when ye see the weight of it laid upon my shoulders, ye may pray in aid of my labours, and in the assistance which is vouchsafed to me, may find edification for your own souls. When "one possessed with a devil was brought to the Lord, blind and dumb, and He had healed him so that he could speak and see, and all the people were amazed and said, Is not this the Son of David? the Pharisees hearing it said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?" [2336] In these words He wished it to be understood from their own confession, that, through their not believing in Him they had chosen to belong to the kingdom of the devil, which as being divided against itself could accordingly not stand. Let then the Pharisees make choice of which they will. If Satan cannot cast out Satan, they can find nothing to say against the Lord; but if he can, then let them much more look to themselves, and depart out of his kingdom, which as being divided against itself cannot stand.

2. But now that they may not think that it is the prince of the devils in whom the Lord Jesus Christ casteth out devils, let them attend to what follows; "And if I," He saith, "by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges." [2337] He spoke this undoubtedly of his disciples, the "children" of that people; who as being the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were well conscious that they had learnt no evil arts from their Good Master, that through the prince of the devils they should cast out devils. "Therefore," He saith, "shall they be your judges." They, He saith, the base and contemptible things of this world, in whom none of this artificial malice, but the holy simplicity of My power [2338] is seen; they shall be My witnesses, they shall be your judges. Then He subjoins, "But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." [2339] What is this? "If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils," He saith, and your children, to whom I have given no hurtful and deceitful doctrine but a simple faith, can in no other way cast them out; no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you; whereby the kingdom of the devil is subverted, and ye also are subverted with it.

3. And after that He had said, "By whom do your children cast them out?" to show that in them it was His grace, not their own desert; He saith, "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except He first bind the strong man, and then He will spoil his house?" [2340] Your children, saith He, who either have already believed in Me, or who shall yet believe, and cast out devils, not through the prince of the devils, but through the simplicity of holiness, who assuredly either once were, or still are what ye are also, sinners and ungodly; and so in the house of the devil, and the vessels of the devil, how could they be rescued from him whom he held so firmly through the iniquity which reigned over them, unless he were bound by the chains of My justice, that I might take away from him his vessels which once were vessels of wrath, and make them vessels of mercy? This it is which the blessed Apostle also says when he rebukes the proud, and those who boast as it were of their own deserts, "For who maketh thee to differ?" [2341] That is, who maketh thee to differ from the mass of perdition derived from Adam and from the vessels of wrath. And that no man might say, "My own righteousness," he says, "What hast thou, that thou didst not receive?" And on this point he says of himself also, "We also once were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." [2342] So then he himself was a vessel in the house of that strong one, strong in evil, when he was a persecutor of the Church, a "blasphemer, injurious, living in malice and envy," as he confesses. But He who bound the strong one, took away from him this vessel of perdition, and made it a vessel of election.

4. Afterwards, that the unbelievers and ungodly, the enemies of the Christian name, might not suppose by reason of the divers heresies and schisms of those who under the Christian name gather together flocks of lost sheep, that the kingdom of Christ also is divided against itself, He next adds, "He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad." [2343] He does not say, he who is under the outward profession [2344] of My Name; or the form of My Sacrament; but "he who is not with Me is against Me." Nor doth He say, he who gathereth not under the outward profession of My Name; but "he who gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad." Christ's kingdom then is not divided against itself; but men try to divide that which was bought with the price of the Blood of Christ. "For the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity." [2345] For if he depart not from iniquity, he belongeth not to the kingdom of Christ, even though he name the Name of Christ. To give then some illustrations for example's sake, the spirit of covetousness, and the spirit of luxuriousness, because the one heaps together, and the other lavishes, are divided against themselves; yet they belong both to the kingdom of the devil. Among idolaters the spirit of Juno and the spirit of Hercules, are divided against themselves; and both belong to the kingdom of the devil. The heathen Christ's enemy, and the Jew Christ's enemy, are divided against themselves; and both belong to the kingdom of the devil. Arianus and Photinianus both are heretics, and both are divided against themselves. The Donatist and Maximianist [2346] both are heretics, and both divided against themselves. All men's vices and errors that are contrary to each other are divided against themselves, and all belong to the kingdom of the devil; therefore his kingdom shall not stand. But the righteous and the ungodly, the believer and the unbeliever, the Catholic and the heretic, are indeed divided against themselves, but they do not belong all to the kingdom of Christ. "The Lord knoweth them that are His." Let no one flatter himself upon a mere name. If he would that the Name of the Lord should profit him, let "him that calleth upon the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity."

5. But these words of the Gospel, though they had some obscurity, which I think by the Lord's assistance I have explained, were yet not so difficult, as that which follows would seem to be. "Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." [2347] What then will become of those whom the Church desires to gain? When they have been reformed and come into the Church from whatsoever error, is the hope in the remission of all sins that is promised them a false hope? For who is not convicted of having spoken a word against the Holy Ghost, before he became a Christian or a Catholic? In the first place, are not they who are called Pagans, the worshippers of many and false gods, and the adorers of idols, forasmuch as they say that the Lord Christ wrought miracles by magical arts, are not they like these who said that He cast out devils through the prince of the devils? And again, when day by day they blaspheme our sanctification, what else blaspheme they but the Holy Ghost? What? Do not the Jews--they who spoke concerning our Lord what gave occasion to this very discourse--do they not even to the present day speak a word against the Holy Ghost, by denying that He is now in Christians, just as the others denied Him to be in Christ? For not even did they revile the Holy Ghost, by asserting either that He existed not, or that though He existed, yet that He was not God, but a creature; or that He had no power to cast out devils; they did not speak thus unworthily, or anything like it, of the Holy Ghost. For the Sadducees indeed denied the Holy Ghost; but the Pharisees maintained His existence against their heresy, [2348] but they denied that He was in the Lord Jesus Christ, who they thought cast out devils through the prince of the devils, whereas He did cast them out through the Holy Ghost. And hence, both Jews and whatsoever heretics there are who confess the Holy Ghost, but deny that He is in the Body of Christ, which is His One Only Church, none other than the One Catholic Church, are without doubt like the Pharisees who at that time although they confessed the existence of the Holy Ghost, yet denied that He was in Christ, whose works in casting out devils they attributed to the prince of devils. I say nothing of the fact that some heretics either boldly maintain that the Holy Ghost is not the Creator but a creature, as the Arians, and Eunomians, and Macedonians, or so entirely deny His existence, as to deny that God is Trinity, but assert that He is God the Father only, and that He is sometimes called the Son, and sometimes the Holy Ghost; as the Sabellians, whom some call Patripassians, because they hold that the Father suffered; and forasmuch as they deny that He has any Son, without doubt they deny His Holy Spirit also. The Photinians again who say that the Father only is God, and the Son a mere man, deny altogether that there is any third Person of the Holy Ghost.

6. It is plain then that the Holy Ghost is blasphemed both by Pagans, and by Jews, and by heretics. Are they then to be left, and accounted without all hope, since the sentence is fixed, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come"? and are they only to be deemed free from the guilt of this most grievous sin who are Catholics from infancy? For all those who have believed the word of God, that they might become Catholics, came surely into the grace and peace of Christ, either from among the Pagans, or Jews, or heretics: and if there be no pardon for them for the word which they have spoken against the Holy Ghost, in vain do we promise and preach to men, to turn to God, and receive peace and remission of sins, whether in Baptism or in the Church. For it is not said, "It shall not be forgiven him except in baptism;" but, "it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

7. Some think that they only sin against the Holy Ghost, who having been washed in the laver of regeneration in the Church, and having received the Holy Spirit, as though unthankful for so great a gift of the Saviour, have plunged themselves afterwards into any deadly sin; as adultery, or murder, or an absolute apostasy, [2349] either altogether from the Christian name, or from the Catholic Church. But how this sense of it may be proved, I know not; since the place of repentance is not denied in the Church to any sins whatever; and the Apostle says that heretics themselves are to be reproved to this end, "If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." [2350] For what is the advantage of amendment without any hope of forgiveness? Finally, The Lord did not say, "the baptized [2351] Catholic who shall speak a word against the Holy Ghost;" but "he who," that is whosoever speaketh, be he who he may, "it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Whether then he be a heathen, or a Jew, or a Christian, or a heretic from among Jews or Christians, or whatsoever other title of error he have, it is not said, this man, or that man; but "whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost," that is who blasphemeth the Holy Ghost, "it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." But moreover if every error contrary to truth, and inimical to Christian peace, as we have shown before, "speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost;" and yet the Church doth not cease to reform and gather out of every error those who shall receive remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost Himself, whom they have blasphemed; I think I have discovered an important secret for the clearing up this so great a question. Let us seek then from the Lord the light of explanation.

8. Lift up then, Brethren, lift up unto me your ears, and your hearts unto the Lord. I tell you, my Beloved; perhaps there is not in all holy Scripture found a more important or more difficult question. Wherefore (that I may make you a confession about myself), I have always in my discourses to the people avoided the difficulty and embarrassment of this question; not because I had no ideas of any sort on the subject, for in a matter of such great importance, I would not be negligent in "asking," and "seeking," and "knocking;" but because I did not think I could do justice [2352] to that understanding of it which was in some degree opened to me, by words suggested at the moment. But as I listened to to-day's lesson, upon which it was my duty to discourse to you, as the Gospel was being read, there was such a beating at my heart, that I believed that it was God's will that you should hear something on the subject by my ministry.

9. First then, I pray you to consider and understand that the Lord did not say, "No blasphemy of the Spirit shall be forgiven," or, "whosoever speaketh any word whatsoever against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him;" but "whosoever speaketh a word;" [2353] for had he said the former, there would have remained to us no subject of disputation at all. Since if no blasphemy, and no word which is spoken against the Holy Ghost, shall be forgiven unto men; the Church could not gain any one out of all the classes of ungodly sinners who gainsay the gift of Christ, and the sanctification of the Church, whether Jews, or heathens, or heretics of whatsoever sort, and some even of little [2354] knowledge in the Catholic Church itself. But God forbid that the Lord should say this: God forbid, I say, that the Truth should say that every blasphemy and every word which should be spoken against the Holy Ghost, hath no forgiveness neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

10. His will indeed was to exercise us by the difficulty of the question, not to deceive us by a false decision. Wherefore there is no necessity for any one to think, that every blasphemy or every word which is spoken against the Holy Ghost hath no remission; but necessary it plainly is, that there should be some certain blasphemy, and some word which if it be spoken against the Holy Ghost can never attain [2355] to pardon and forgiveness. For if we take it to mean "every word," who then can be saved? But if again we think there is no such "word," we contradict the Saviour. There is then without doubt some certain blasphemy and some word which if it be spoken against the Holy Ghost, shall not be forgiven. Now what this word is, it is the Lord's will we should enquire; and therefore He hath not expressed it. His will, I say, was that it should be enquired into, not denied. For the style of the Scriptures is often such, that when anything is so expressed as not to be limited either to a universal or particular signification, it is not necessary that it should be understood universally, and not particularly. This proposition then would be expressed in its whole extent, that is, universally, if it were said, "All blasphemy [2356] of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;" or, "Whosoever speaketh any word whatsoever against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." But it would be expressed partially, that is, particularly, if it were said, "Some certain blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven." But because this proposition is laid down neither in a universal, nor a particular form (for it is not said, "Every blasphemy;" or some certain blasphemy of the Spirit; but only indefinitely, "blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;" neither is it said, "Whosoever speaketh any word whatever," or "whosoever speaketh some certain word," but indefinitely, "whosoever speaketh a word"), there is no necessity that we should understand "every blasphemy and every word;" but necessary it plainly is that the Lord designed some kind of blasphemy, and some word to be understood; though He would not express it, that, if we should receive any right understanding of it by asking, and seeking, and knocking, we might not entertain a low esteem of it.

11. In order to seeing this more plainly, consider that which the same Lord also saith of the Jews, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin." [2357] For this again was not said with any such meaning, as if He intended it to be understood that the Jews would have been without any sin at all, if He had not come and spoken to them. For indeed He found them full of and laden with sins. Wherefore He saith, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden." [2358] Laden! with what, but with the burdens of sins and transgressions of the Law? "For the Law entered that sin might abound." [2359] Since then He saith Himself in another place, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" [2360] how would "they not have had sin if He had not come"? if it be not that this proposition being expressed neither universally, nor particularly, but indefinitely, does not constrain us to understand it of all sin? But certainly unless we understand that there was some sin which they would not have had if Christ had not come and spoken unto them, we must say that the proposition was false, which God forbid. He doth not say then, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had had no sin;" lest the Truth should lie. Nor again did He say definitely, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had some certain sin;" lest our devout earnestness [2361] should not be exercised. For in the full abundance of the Holy Scriptures we feed upon the plain parts, we are exercised by the obscure: by the one, hunger is driven away, and daintiness [2362] by the other. Seeing then that it is not said, "they had had no sin," we need not be disturbed, though we acknowledge that the Jews would have been sinners, even if the Lord had not come. But yet because it is said, "If I had not come, they had not had sin;" it must needs be that they contracted, though not all, yet some sin which they had not before, from the coming of the Lord. And this verily is that sin, that they believed not in Him who was present with and spake to them, and that counting Him as an enemy because He spake the truth, they put Him besides to death. This sin so great and terrible it is clear they had not had if He had not come and spoken to them. As then when we hear the words, "They had not had sin;" we do not understand all, but some, sin; so when we hear in to-day's lesson, "Blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;" we understand not all, but a certain kind of blasphemy; and when we hear, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him;" we ought not to understand every, but some certain word.

12. For in that He saith also in this very text, "But blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;" surely we must needs understand not blasphemy of every spirit, but the Holy Spirit. And though He had not expressed this anywhere else more plainly, who could be so silly as to understand it in any other way? According to the same rule of speech is this expression also understood, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit." [2363] For He doth not say in that place, and of the Holy Spirit; yet this is understood. Nor because He said of water and of the Spirit, is any one forced to understand it of every spirit. Wherefore when you hear, "But the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;" as you must not understand it of every spirit, so not of every blasphemy against the Spirit.

13. I see that you are now wishing to hear, since it is not every blasphemy of the Spirit, what that blasphemy is which shall not be forgiven, and what that word is, since it is not every word which if it shall be spoken against the Holy Ghost, shall not be forgiven neither in this world, neither in the world to come. And for my part I should be willing to tell you at once, what you are so very intently waiting to hear; but bear for a while the delay which a more careful diligence requires, till by the Lord's assistance I shall unfold the whole meaning of the passage before us. Now the other two Evangelists, Mark and Luke, when they spake of the same thing, did not say "blasphemy" or "a word," that we might understand it not of every blasphemy, but of some sort of blasphemy; not every word, but some certain word. What then did they say? In Mark it is thus written, "Verily I say unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies, where-withsoever they shall blaspheme. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offence." [2364] In Luke it is thus: "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven." [2365] Is there any departure from the truth of the same proposition because of some diversity in the expression? For indeed there is no other reason why the Evangelists do not relate the same things in the same way, but that we may learn thereby to prefer things to words, not words to things, and to seek for nothing else in the speaker, but for his intention, to convey which only the words are used. For what real difference is there whether it is said, "Blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven;" or "he that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him." Except perhaps that the same thing is declared more plainly in this last than in the other form; and so one Evangelist does not overthrow, but explains the other. Now "blasphemy of the Spirit" is an unevident [2366] expression; because it is not directly said what spirit; for every spirit is not the Holy Spirit. Thus it might be called "blasphemy of the spirit," when a man blasphemes with the spirit; as that may be called "prayer of the spirit," when one prays with the spirit. Whence the Apostle says, "I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also." [2367] But when it is said, "he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost," these ambiguities are removed. So the expression, "hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offence;" what is it, but what according to Matthew is expressed, "it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come"? The very same idea is expressed in different words and different forms of speech. And what is in Matthew, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost," that we might not understand it of anything but blasphemy, others have more clearly expressed, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost." Yet the same thing is said by all; nor did any one of them depart from the intention of the Speaker, for the sake of understanding which only are words spoken, and written, and read, and heard.

14. But one may say, See I have admitted and understood that where the word "blasphemy" is used, and neither all, nor some certain blasphemy expressed, it may be understood either of all, or of some certain blasphemy, but not necessarily of all; but again if it be not understood of some, that that which is said would be untrue: so again if it is not said every or some certain word, it is not necessary that every word should be understood, but unless some word be understood, in no way can what is said be true. But when we read, "He that shall blaspheme," how can I understand any certain blasphemy, when the word "blasphemy" is not used, or any certain word, when the word "word" is not used, but it seems to be said as it were generally, "He that shall blaspheme." To this objection [2368] I reply thus. If it were said in this passage also, "He that shall blaspheme with any kind of blasphemy whatever against the Holy Ghost," there would be no reason why we should think that some particular blasphemy was to be sought for, when we ought rather to understand all blasphemy; but because all blasphemy could not be meant, lest the hope of forgiveness in case of their amendment should be taken away from heathens, and Jews, and heretics, and all kinds of men, who by their divers errors and contradictions blaspheme against the Holy Ghost; it remains without a doubt, that in the passage where it is written, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness," he must be meant, not who hath in any way whatever blasphemed; but he who hath blasphemed in such a particular way, that he can never be pardoned.

15. For as in that it is said, "God tempteth no man," [2369] it is not to be understood that God tempteth no man with any kind, but only not with some certain kind of temptation; lest that be false, which is written, "The Lord your God tempteth you;" [2370] and lest we deny that Christ is God, or say that the Gospel is false, when we read that He asked His disciple "tempting him; but He Himself knew what He would do." [2371] For there is a temptation which induces to sin, with which "God tempteth no man," and there is a temptation which only proves our faith, with which even God vouchsafes to tempt. So when we hear, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost," we must not take it of every kind of blasphemy, as neither in the other place, of every kind of temptation.

16. So again when we hear, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" [2372] we do not of course understand it of one who believes in such a way "as the devils believe and tremble;" [2373] nor of those who receive baptism in such sort as Simon Magus, [2374] who though he could be baptized, could not be saved. As then when He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," He had not in his view all who believe and are baptized, but some only; those, to wit, who are settled in that faith, which, according to the Apostle's distinction, "worketh by love:" [2375] so when he said, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness," he did not intend every kind, but a specific sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, by which whosoever shall be bound, he shall never by any remission be loosed.

17. That expression also of His, "He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood dwelleth in Me, and I in him," [2376] how must we understand? Can we include in these words those even of whom the Apostle says, "that they eat and drink judgment to themselves;" [2377] when they eat this flesh and drink this blood? What! did Judas the impious seller and betrayer of his Master [2378] (though, as Luke the Evangelist declares more plainly, he ate and drank with the rest of His disciples this first Sacrament of His body and blood, consecrated [2379] by the Lord's hands), did he "dwell in Christ and Christ in him"? Do so many, in fine, who either in hypocrisy eat that flesh and drink that blood, or who after they have eaten and drunk become apostate, do they "dwell in Christ or Christ in them"? Yet assuredly there is a certain manner of eating that Flesh and drinking that Blood, in which whosoever eateth and drinketh, "he dwelleth in Christ and Christ in him." As then he doth not "dwell in Christ and Christ in him," who "eateth the Flesh and drinketh the Blood of Christ" in any manner whatsoever, but only in some certain manner, to which He doubtless had regard when He spake these words. So in this expression also, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness," he is not guilty of this unpardonable sin, who shall blaspheme in any way whatever, but in that particular way, which it is His will, who uttered this true and terrible sentence, that we should seek out and understand.

18. Now as to what that mode, or immoderateness [2380] rather, of blasphemy is, what that particular blasphemy, and what that word against the Holy Ghost, the order of my discourse requires me to say what I think, and not to put off any longer your expectation which has been so long but so necessarily deferred. Ye know, Dearly beloved, that in that invisible and incorruptible Trinity, which our faith and the Church Catholic maintains and preaches, God the Father is not the Father of the Holy Spirit, but of the Son; and that God the Son is not the Son of the Holy Spirit, but of the Father; but that God the Holy Spirit is the Spirit not of the Father only, or of the Son only, but of the Father and the Son. And that this Trinity, although the [2381] Property and particular [2382] Subsistence [2383] of each person is preserved, is yet, because of the undivided and inseparable Essence or Nature of Eternity, [2384] Truth, and Goodness, not three Gods but One God. And by this means, according to our capacity, and as far as it is granted us to see these things "through a glass darkly," especially being such as we now are, there is conveyed to [2385] us the idea of Origination [2386] in the Father, Nativity in the Son, and the Communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, and in the Three Equality. By That then which is the Bond of communion [2387] between the Father and the Son, it is Their pleasure that we should have communion both among ourselves and with Them, and to gather us together in one by that same Gift, which One They both have, that is, by the Holy Spirit, at once God and the Gift of God. For in This are we reconciled to the Divinity, and take delight in It. For what would the knowledge of whatever good we know profit us, unless we also loved it? But as it is by the truth that we learn, so is it by charity that we love, that so we may attain also to a fuller knowledge, and enjoy in blessedness what we know. "Love moreover is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." [2388] And because it is through sin that we are alienated from the possession of true good, "Love covereth a multitude of sins." [2389] So then the Father is Himself the True Origin [2390] to the Son, who is the Truth, and the Son is the Truth, originating [2391] from the True Father, and the Holy Spirit is Goodness, shed abroad [2392] from the Good Father and the Good Son; but in all Three the Divinity is equal, and the Unity Inseparable.

19. First then in order to our receiving eternal life which shall be given at the last, there comes to us a gift from God's goodness from the beginning of our faith, to wit, the remission of sins. For while they remain, there remains in some sort enmity against God, and alienation from Him, which comes from what is evil in us; since Scripture does not speak falsely, which says, "Your sins separate between you and God." [2393] He does not then bestow on us His good things, except He take away our evil things. And the former increase in proportion as the latter are diminished; nor will the one be perfected, till the other be brought to an end. But now that the Lord Jesus forgives sins by the Holy Ghost, just as by the Holy Ghost He casts out devils, may be understood by this, that after His Resurrection from the dead, when He had said to His disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," He immediately subjoined, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they shall be retained." [2394] For that regeneration also, in which there is a remission of all past sins, is wrought by the Holy Ghost, as the Lord saith, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." [2395] But it is one thing to be born of the Spirit, another to be nourished by the Spirit; just as it is one thing to be born of the flesh, which happens when the mother is delivered of her child; another to be nourished by the flesh, which happens when she gives suck to her infant, who turns himself that he may drink with pleasure thither whence he was born, to have life; that he may receive the support of life from thence, whence he received the beginning of his birth. We must believe then that the first blessing of God's goodness in the Holy Ghost is the remission of sins. Whence the preaching of John the Baptist, who was sent as the forerunner of the Lord, also begins with it. For thus it is written, "In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judæa, saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [2396] Hence too the beginning of our Lord's preaching, as we read, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [2397] Now John, amongst the other things which he spake to those who came to be baptized by him, said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." [2398] The Lord also said, "John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence," [2399] even at Pentecost. Now as to John's expression, "with fire," though tribulation also might be understood, which believers were to suffer for the name of Christ; yet may we reasonably think that the same Holy Spirit is signified also under the name of "fire." [2400] Wherefore when He came it is said, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." [2401] Hence also the Lord Himself said, "I am come to send fire on the earth." [2402] Hence also the Apostle saith, "Fervent in the spirit;" [2403] for from Him comes the fervour of love. "For it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." [2404] And the contrary to this fervour is what the Lord said, "The love of many shall wax cold." [2405] Now perfect love is the perfect gift of the Holy Spirit. But the first "gift" is that which is concerned with the remission of sins; by which blessing "we are delivered from the power of darkness;" [2406] and the prince of this world, [2407] who worketh in the children of disobedience" [2408] by no other power than the fellowship and the bond of sin, is "cast out" by our faith. For by the Holy Spirit, by whom the people of God are gathered together into one, is the unclean spirit who is divided against himself cast out.

20. Against this gratuitous gift, against this grace of God, does the impenitent heart speak. This impenitence then is "the blasphemy of the Spirit, which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." For against the Holy Spirit, by whom they whose sins are all forgiven are baptized, and whom the Church hath received, that "whosesoever sins she remits, they may be remitted," does he speak, whether in the thought only, or also in the tongue, a very heinous and exceedingly ungodly word, who "when the patience of God leadeth him to repentance, after his hardness and impenitent heart treasureth up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds." [2409] This impenitence then, for so by some one general name may we call both this blasphemy and the word against the Holy Ghost which hath no forgiveness for ever; this impenitence, I say, against which both the herald and the Judge cried out, saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" [2410] against which the Lord first opened the mouth of the Gospel preaching, and against which He foretold that the same Gospel was to be preached in all the world, when He said to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead, "it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem:" [2411] this impenitence, in one word, hath no forgiveness "neither in this world, nor in the world to come;" for that repentance only obtaineth forgiveness in this world, that it may have its effect in the world to come.

21. But this impenitence or impenitent heart may not be pronounced [2412] upon, as long as a man lives in the flesh. For we are not to despair of any so long as "the patience of God leadeth the ungodly to repentance," and doth not hurry him out of this life; "God, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should return from his ways and live." [2413] He is a heathen today; but how knowest thou whether he may not be a Christian to-morrow? He is a heretic to-day; but what if to-morrow he follow the Catholic truth? He is a schismatic to-day; but what if to-morrow he embrace Catholic peace? What if they, whom thou observest now in any kind of error that can be, and whom thou condemnest as in most desperate case, what if before they end this life, they repent and find the true life in that which is to come? Wherefore, Brethren, let also what the Apostle says urge you to this. "Judge nothing before the time." [2414] For this blasphemy of the Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness (which I have understood to be not every kind of blasphemy, but a particular sort, and that as I have said or discovered, or even as I think clearly shown to be the case, the persevering hardness of an impenitent heart), cannot be taken hold of in any one, I repeat it, as long as he is still in this life.

22. And let it not seem absurd, that whereas a man who perseveres in hardened impenitence even to the end of this life, speaks long and much against this grace of the Holy Spirit; yet the Gospel has called this so long contradiction of an impenitent heart, as though it were something of short duration, "a word," saying, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." For though this blasphemy be long continued, and made up of, and drawn out at length in very many words, yet it is the manner of Scripture to call even many words "a word." For no prophet ever spoke one word only; yet we read, "the word which came to such and such a prophet." And the Apostle says, "Let the elders be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." [2415] He does not say, "in words," but, "in the word." And St. James, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." [2416] He again does not say, "of the words," but, "of the word;" although so many words out of the Holy Scriptures are read, and spoken, and heard in the Church at her celebrations and solemnities. As therefore, how long a time soever any of us have laboured in preaching the Gospel, he is not called a preacher of the words, but of the word; and how long time soever any of you may have attentively and diligently listened to our preaching, he is called a most earnest "hearer" not of the words, but "of the word;" so after the style of the Scripture and the custom of the Church, whoso throughout his whole life in the flesh, to whatever length it may be extended, shall have spoken no matter how many words, whether by mouth, or the thought only with an impenitent heart, against that remission of sins which is granted in the Church, he speaks "a word" against the Holy Ghost.

23. Therefore not only every word spoken against the Son of Man, but, in fact, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; because where there is not this sin of an impenitent heart against the Holy Ghost, by whom sins are remitted in the Church, all other sins are forgiven. But how shall that sin be forgiven, which hinders the forgiveness of other sins also? All sins then are forgiven to them in whom is not this sin, which shall never be forgiven; but to him in whom it is, since this sin is never forgiven, neither are other sins forgiven; because the remission of all is hindered by the bond of this one. It is not then that "whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man shall be forgiven," but "whoso speaketh against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven," for that in the Trinity the Holy Ghost is greater than the Son, which no heretic even has ever maintained; but since whosoever he be that resisteth the truth and blasphemeth the Truth, which is Christ, even after such a manifestation of Himself among men, as that the Word who is the Son of Man and very Christ, "became flesh and dwelt among us;" if he have not also spoken that word of the impenitent heart against the Holy Ghost, of whom it is said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit;" [2417] and again, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;" [2418] that is, if he shall repent, he shall thereby receive the gift of the remission of all his sins, and of this also, that he "hath spoken a word against the Son of Man," because to the sin of ignorance, or obstinacy, or blasphemy of whatever kind, he hath not added the sin of impenitence against the gift of God, and the grace of regeneration or reconciliation, which is conferred in the Church by the Holy Spirit.

24. Wherefore, neither must we imagine, as some do, that the word which is spoken against the Son of Man is forgiven, but that which is spoken against the Holy Ghost is not forgiven, because Christ became the Son of Man by reason of His assuming flesh, in which respect the Holy Ghost of course is greater, who in His Own Substance is equal to the Father and the Only-begotten Son according to His Divinity, according to which also the Only-begotten Son Himself is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. For if this were the reason, surely nothing would have been said of any other kind of blasphemy, that that only might appear capable of forgiveness, which is spoken against the Son of Man, regarded only as man. But forasmuch as it is first said, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men;" [2419] which in another Evangelist is also thus expressed, "All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewithsoever they shall blaspheme;" [2420] without doubt, that blasphemy also which is spoken against the Father is included in that general expression; and yet that alone is laid down as unpardonable, which is spoken against the Holy Ghost. What! did the Father also take the form of a servant, that in this respect the Holy Ghost should be greater than He? No surely: but after the universal mention of all sins and of all blasphemy, He wished to express more prominently the blasphemy which is spoken against the Son of Man for this reason, because although men should be even bound in that sin which He mentioned when He said, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin:" [2421] which sin also in the Gospel according to John He shows to be a very grievous one, when He says of the Holy Spirit Himself, when He promised that He would send Him, "He shall reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believed not on Me:" [2422] yet if that hardness of the impenitent heart have not spoken a word against the Holy Ghost, even this which is spoken against the Son of Man shall be forgiven.

25. Here perhaps some one may ask, "whether the Holy Ghost only forgiveth sins, and not the Father and the Son also?" I answer, Both the Father and the Son forgive them. For the Son Himself saith of the Father, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." [2423] And we say to Him in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father, which art in heaven." [2424] And amongst the other petitions we ask this, saying, "Forgive us our debts." [2425] And again of Himself He saith, "That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins." [2426] "If then," you will say, "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit forgive sins, why is that impenitence which shall never be forgiven, said to relate only to the blasphemy of the Spirit, as though he who should be bound in this sin of impenitence should seem to resist the gift of the Holy Spirit, because by that gift is wrought the remission of sins?" Now on this point, I will also ask, Whether Christ only cast out devils, or the Father and the Holy Spirit also? For if Christ only, what means His saying, "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." [2427] For so it is said, "He doeth the works," as if the Son doeth them not, but the Father who dwelleth in the Son. Why then in another place doth He say, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." [2428] And a little after, "For what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." [2429] But when in another place He says, "If I had not done amongst them the works which none other man did," [2430] He speaks as if He did them alone. Now if these things are so expressed, as that nevertheless the works of the Father and the Son are inseparable, what must we believe of the Holy Spirit, but that He also worketh equally with them? For in that very place, from which this question arose which we are discussing, when the Son was casting out devils, He yet said, "If I in the Holy Spirit cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." [2431]

26. And here perhaps one may say, "That the Holy Spirit is rather given by the Father and the Son, than that He worketh anything by His own will, and that this is the scope of the words, "In the Holy Spirit I cast out devils," because not the Spirit Himself, but Christ in the Spirit, did it; so that the expression, "I cast out in the Holy Spirit," might be understood as if it were said, "I cast out by the Holy Spirit." For this is the usual style of the Scriptures, "They killed in the sword," that is, by the sword. They "burnt in the fire," [2432] that is, by the fire. "And Joshua took knives of flints, in which to circumcise," that is, by which to circumcise, "the children of Israel." [2433] But let those who on this account take from the Holy Spirit His proper power, look to that which we read to have been spoken by the Lord, "The Spirit bloweth where It listeth." [2434] And as to what the Apostle says, "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will;" [2435] it might be feared, lest one imagine that the Father and the Son do not work them: whereas amongst these works he has expressly mentioned both the "gifts of healings," and the "workings of miracles," in which surely is included also the driving out of devils. But when he adds the words, "Dividing to every man severally as He will;" does he not clearly show also the Power of the Holy Spirit, yet as plainly inseparable from the Father and the Son? If then these things are so expressed, as that notwithstanding the operation of the Trinity is understood to be inseparable: so that when the operation of the Father is spoken of, it is understood that He does not exercise it without the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and when the operation of the Son is spoken of, it is not without the Father and the Holy Spirit; and when the operation of the Holy Spirit is spoken of, it is not without the Father and the Son; it is sufficiently clear to those who have a sound faith, or who even understand as they best can, both that the words, "He doeth the works," [2436] are spoken of the Father, in that from Him is also [2437] the first principle of the works, from whom is the existence of the Persons who co-operate in working: for that both the Son is born of Him, and the Holy Spirit proceedeth from Him, as the First Beginning, of whom the Son is born, and with whom He hath one Spirit in common; and again that when the Lord said, "If I had not done among them the works which none other did," [2438] He did not speak in reference to the Father and the Spirit, as that They did not co-operate with Him in those works; but to men by whom we read of many miracles having been done, but by none such miracles as the Son did. And what the Apostle says of the Holy Spirit, "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will," is not said, because the Father and the Son do not co-operate with Him; but because in these works there are not many spirits, but One Spirit, and in His divers operations He is not diverse from Himself.

27. [2439] And yet it is not without cause, but with reason and with truth said, that the Father, and not the Son and the Holy Spirit, said, "Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." [2440] Nevertheless, we do not deny that the Son and the Holy Spirit co-operated in working this miracle of the voice sounding from heaven, though we know that it belongs to the Person of the Father only. For though the Son bearing flesh, was there conversing with men on earth, He was not the less on that account in the Bosom of the Father also as the Only-Begotten Word, when that Voice came out of the cloud; nor could it be either wisely and through the Spirit [2441] believed, that God the Father separated the operation of these audible and passing words from the co-operation of His Wisdom and His Spirit. In the same way when we say most rightly, that not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son walked upon the sea, who only had that flesh and those feet which rested on the waves; [2442] yet who would deny that the Father and the Holy Spirit co-operated in the work of so great a miracle? For so again we say most truly that the Son only took this our flesh, not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, and yet he hath no true wisdom who denies that the Father, or the Holy Spirit co-operated in the work of His Incarnation which belongeth only to the Son. So also we say that neither the Father, nor the Son, but the Holy Spirit only appeared both in the "form of a dove," [2443] and in "tongues as it were of fire;" [2444] and gave to those to whom He came the power to tell in many and various tongues "the wonderful works of God;" and yet from this miracle which regards the Holy Spirit only, we cannot separate the co-operation of the Father and the Only-Begotten Word. So also the Whole Trinity work the works of each several Person in the Trinity, the Two co-operating in the work of the Other, through a perfect harmony of operation in the Three, and not through any deficiency of the power to work effectually in One. And since this is so, hence it is that the Lord Jesus cast out devils in the Holy Spirit. Not that He was not able to accomplish this alone, or that He assumed that aid as being insufficient for this work; but it was meet that the spirit who is divided against himself should be driven out by that Spirit, which the Father and the Son who are not divided in themselves have in common.

28. And thus sins, because they are not forgiven out of the Church, must be forgiven by that Spirit, by whom the Church is gathered together into one. In fact, if any one out of the Church repent him of his sins, and for this so great sin whereby he is an alien from the Church of God, has an heart impenitent, what doth that other repentance profit him? seeing by this alone he speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, whereby he is alienated from the Church, which hath received this gift, that in her remission of sins should be given in the Holy Ghost? Which remission though it be the work of the Whole Trinity, is yet understood specially to belong to the Holy Spirit. For He is the Spirit of the adoption of sons, "in whom we cry Abba, Father;" [2445] that we may be able to say to Him, "Forgive us our debts." [2446] And, "Hereby we know" as the Apostle John says, "that Christ dwelleth in us, by His Spirit which He hath given us." [2447] "The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." [2448] For to Him appertains the fellowship, by which we are made the one body of the One only Son of God. Whence it is written, "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit." [2449] With a view to this fellowship they to whom He first came spake with the tongues of all nations. Because as by tongues the fellowship of mankind is more closely united; so it behoved that this fellowship of the sons of God and members of Christ which was to be among all nations should be signified by the tongues of all nations; that as at that time he was known to have received the Holy Ghost, who spake with the tongues of all nations; so now he should acknowledge that he has received the Holy Ghost, who is held by the bond of the peace of the Church, which is spread throughout all nations. Whence the Apostle says, "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." [2450]

29. Now that He is the Spirit of the Father, the Son Himself saith, "He proceedeth from the Father." [2451] And in another place, "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." [2452] And that He is the Spirit of the Son also the Apostle saith, "God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father;" [2453] that is, making you cry. For it is we that cry; but in Him, that is, by His shedding abroad love in our hearts, without which whoso crieth, crieth in vain. Whence he says again, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." [2454] To which Person then in the Trinity could the communion of this fellowship peculiarly appertain, but to that Spirit which is common to the Father and the Son?

30. That they who have separated from the Church have not this Spirit, the Apostle Jude has declared most plainly, saying, "Who separate themselves, natural, having not the Spirit." [2455] Whence the Apostle Paul reproving those even in the Church itself, who by the names of men, though having a place in her unity, were raising a kind of schism, says amongst other things, "But the natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." [2456] This shows his meaning, "doth not perceive," that is doth not receive the word of knowledge. These as having a place in the Church, he speaks of as babes, not yet spiritual, but still carnal, and such as are to be fed with milk, not with meat. "Even," he says, "as unto babes in Christ, have I given you milk and not meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." [2457] When we say, "not yet," we must not despair, if that which is "not yet" tends to be. For he says, "ye are yet carnal." And showing how it is that they are carnal, he says, "For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" And again more plainly, "For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?" [2458] These then, that is, Paul and Apollos, agreed together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace; and yet because the Corinthians began to divide them among themselves, and "to be puffed up for one against another," they are said to be men--carnal and natural men, not able to receive the things of the Spirit of God; and yet because they are not separated from the Church, they are called "babes in Christ;" for indeed he desired that they should be either Angels, or even Gods, whom he reproved because they were men, that is, in those contentions, "They savoured not the things which be of God, but the things which be of men." [2459] But of those who are separated from the Church it is not merely said, "perceiving not the things of the Spirit of God," lest it should be referred to the perception of knowledge; but it is said, "Having not the Spirit." For it does not follow, that he who hath it, should also by knowledge perceive what he hath.

31. The "babes" then "in Christ" who have yet place in the Church, who are still natural and carnal, and cannot "perceive," that is, understand and know what they have, have this Spirit. For how could they be babes in Christ except they were born anew of the Holy Spirit? Nor ought it to seem any wonder that one may have something, and yet not know what he hath. For to say nothing of the Divinity of the Almighty, and the Unity of the Unchangeable Trinity, who can easily perceive by knowledge what the soul is; and yet who is there that hath not a soul? Finally, that we may know most certainly that "babes in Christ," who do not "perceive the things of the Spirit of God," have notwithstanding the Spirit of God; let us look how the Apostle Paul, when a little while after he is rebuking them, saith, "Know ye not that ye are the temples of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" [2460] This surely he would in no wise say to those who are separated from the Church, who are described as "having not the Spirit."

32. But neither can he be said to be in the Church, and to belong to that fellowship of the Spirit, who is mixed up with Christ's sheep by a bodily intercourse only in deceitfulness of heart. For the "Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit." [2461] Wherefore whosoever are baptized in the congregations or separations rather [2462] of schismatics or heretics, although they have not been born again of the Spirit, like as it were to Ishmael, who was Abraham's son after the flesh; not like Isaac, who was his son after the Spirit, [2463] because by promise; yet when they come to the Catholic Church, and are joined to the fellowship of the Spirit which without the Church they beyond doubt had not, the washing of the flesh is not repeated in their case. For "this form of godliness" was not wanting to them even when they were without; but there is added to them "the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," which cannot be given but within. Before they were Catholics indeed, they were as they of whom the Apostle says, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." [2464] For the visible form of the branch may exist even when separated from the vine; but the invisible life of the root cannot be had, but in the vine. Wherefore the bodily sacraments, which even they who are separated from the Unity of Christ's Body bear and celebrate, may give "the form of godliness;" but the invisible and spiritual power of godliness cannot in any wise be in them, just as sensation does not accompany a man's limb, when it is amputated from the body.

33. And since this is so, remission of sins, seeing it is not given but by the Holy Spirit, can only be given in that Church which hath the Holy Spirit. For this is the effect of the remission of sins, that the prince of sin, the spirit who is divided against himself, should no more reign in us, and that being delivered from the power of the unclean spirit, we should thenceforward be made the temple of the Holy Spirit, and receive Him, by whom we are cleansed through receiving pardon, to dwell in us, to work, increase, and perfect righteousness. For at His first coming, when they who had received Him spake with the tongues of all nations, and the Apostle Peter addressed those who were present in amazement, they were pricked in heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" show us. "And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." [2465] In the Church truly in which was the Holy Ghost, were both brought to pass, that is, both the remission of sins, and the receiving of this gift. And therefore was it "In the Name of Jesus Christ;" because when He promised the same Holy Ghost; He said, "Whom the Father will send in My Name." [2466] For the Spirit dwelleth in no man without the Father and the Son; as neither doth the Son without the Father and the Holy Spirit, nor the Father without them. Their indwelling is inseparable, as their operation is inseparable; but sometimes they manifest themselves separately by symbols [2467] borrowed from the creatures, not in their own substance; just as they are pronounced separately by the voice in syllables which occupy separately their own spaces, and yet they are not separated from each other by any intervals, or moments of time. For they never can be pronounced together, whereas they can never exist, except together. But as I have already said, and not once only, the remission of sins, whereby the kingdom of the spirit which is divided against himself is overthrown and driven out, and the fellowship of the unity of the Church of God, out of which this remission of sins is not, are regarded as the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit, with the cooperation doubtless of the Father and the Son, because the Holy Spirit is Himself in some sort the fellowship of the Father and the Son. For the Father is not possessed [2468] as Father by the Son and the Holy Spirit in common; because He is not the Father of Both. And the Son is not possessed as Son by the Father and the Holy Spirit in common; because He is not the Son of Both. But the Holy Spirit is possessed as the Spirit by the Father and the Son in common, because He is the One Spirit of Both.

34. Whosoever therefore shall be guilty of impenitence against the Spirit, in whom the unity and fellowship of the communion of the Church is gathered together, shall never have forgiveness; because he has stopped the source of forgiveness against himself, and deservedly shall he be condemned with the spirit, which is divided against himself, who is himself also divided against the Holy Spirit which is not divided against Himself. And of this the very testimonies of the Gospel warn us, would we with good attention search them. For according to Luke the Lord does not say, "That he who blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven:" in that place where He is answering those who said that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils. Whence it would seem that this was not said once only by the Lord; but we must not carelessly pass over the consideration of the occasion on which this last also was spoken. For He was speaking of those who should have confessed or denied Him before men, when He said, "Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the Angels of God. But he that denieth Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God." [2469] And lest from this the salvation of the Apostle Peter should be despaired of, he immediately subjoined, "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven; [2470] blasphemeth," that is, with that blasphemy of an impenitent heart, by which resistance is made to remission of sins which is granted in the Church by the Holy Ghost. And this blasphemy Peter had not, who presently repented, when "he wept bitterly," [2471] and who after he had overcome the spirit who is divided against himself, and who had desired to "have him to harass him," [2472] and against whom the "Lord prayed for him that his faith might not fail," even received the Very Holy Spirit whom he resisted not, that not only his sin might be forgiven him, but that through him remission of sins might be preached and dispensed.

35. And in the narrative of the two other Evangelists, the occasion of speaking out this sentence of the blasphemy of the Spirit arose from the mention of the unclean spirit, who is divided against himself. For it had been said of the Lord, that "He cast out devils by the prince of the devils." In that place the Lord says, that "by the Holy Spirit He casteth out devils," that so the spirit who is not divided against Himself may overcome and cast out him who is divided against himself; but that that man would abide in his perdition, who refuses through impenitence to pass over into His peace, who is not divided against Himself. For thus runs the narrative of Mark; "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offence." [2473] When he had delivered these words of the Lord, he then subjoined his own, saying, "Because they said He hath an unclean spirit;" [2474] that He might show that the cause of His saying this arose hence, because they had said that "He cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils." Not that this was a blasphemy which shall not be forgiven, forasmuch as even this shall be forgiven, if a right repentance follow it; but because, as I have said, there arose hence a cause for that sentence to be delivered by the Lord, since mention had been made of the unclean spirit whom the Lord shows to be divided against himself, because of the Holy Spirit who is not only not divided against Himself, but who also makes those whom He gathers together undivided, by forgiving those sins which are divided against themselves, and by inhabiting those who are cleansed, that it may be with them, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul." [2475] And this gift of forgiveness none resists, but he who has the hardness of an impenitent heart. For in another place also the Jews said of the Lord that He had a devil, [2476] yet He spake nothing there of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; because they did not so bring forward the mention of the unclean spirit as that he could be shown out of their own mouths to be divided against himself, as Beelzebub, by whom they said that devils could be cast out.

36. But in this passage according to Matthew, the Lord far more plainly explained what he intended to be understood here; namely, that he it is who speaks a word against the Holy Ghost, who with an impenitent heart resists the Unity of the Church, where in the Holy Spirit is given the remission of sins. For this spirit they have not, as has been said already, who even though they bear and handle [2477] the sacraments of Christ, are separated from His congregation. For when He spoke of the division of Satan against Satan, and how that He Himself cast out devils by the Holy Spirit, that Spirit, namely, which is not, as the other, divided against Himself; lest any one should think because of those who gather together their irregular assemblies [2478] under the Name of Christ, but without His fold, that the kingdom of Christ also was divided against itself, He immediately added, "He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad," [2479] that He might show that they did not belong to Him who by gathering "without" wished not to "gather" but "to scatter abroad." And afterwards He subjoined, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven." [2480] What is this "wherefore?" Shall the blasphemy of the Spirit only not be forgiven, because "he who is not with Christ is against Him, and he who gathereth not with Him scattereth abroad?" Even so, doubtless. For he that gathereth not with Him, howsoever he may gather under His name, hath not the Holy Ghost.

37. Thus then hath He altogether forced us to understand that the remission of no sin nor blasphemy can be effected anywhere else, save in the gathering together of Christ, which scattereth not abroad. For it is gathered together in the Holy Spirit, which is not as that unclean spirit, divided against Himself. And therefore all congregations, or dispersions rather, which call themselves Churches of Christ, and are divided against themselves and contrary one to the other, and hostile to the congregation of Unity, which is His True Church, do not therefore belong to His congregation, because they seem to have His Name. But they might belong to it, if the Holy Spirit in whom this congregation is joined together, were divided against Himself. But because this is not so ("for he that is not with Christ is against Him, and he that gathereth not with Him scattereth abroad"); therefore all manner of sin and all blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men in this congregation, which Christ gathereth together in the Holy Spirit, who is not divided against Himself. But that blasphemy of the Spirit Himself, whereby in an impenitent heart resistance is made to this so great gift of God even to the end of this present life, shall not be forgiven. For though a man so oppose himself to the truth, as to resist God speaking, not in the Prophets, but in His Only Son (since for our sakes He was pleased that He should be the Son of Man, that He might speak to us in Him), yet shall he be forgiven when in repentance he shall have recourse to the goodness of God, who forasmuch as He "willeth not the death of the wicked, but rather that he should turn from his way and live," [2481] hath given the Holy Spirit to His Church, that whosoever forgiveth sins in the Spirit, they should be forgiven. But whoso stands out as an enemy to this gift, so as not in repentance to seek it, but by impenitence to gainsay it, his sin becomes unpardonable; not sin of any one specific kind, but the contempt, or even opposing of the remission of sins itself. And so a word is spoken against the Holy Spirit, when men never come from the dispersion to the congregation which has received the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins. Unto which congregation if any come without hypocrisy, though it be through the ministry of a wicked clergyman, a reprobate and a hypocrite, so he be a Catholic minister, he shall receive remission of sins in this Holy Spirit. For such is the working of this Spirit in the Holy Church, even in this present time, when the corn [2482] is as it were being threshed with the chaff, that he despises no man's sincere confession, and is deceived by no man's false pretences, and so flies from the reprobate, as yet by their ministry to gather together those that are approved. [2483] One refuge then there is against unpardonable blasphemy, that we take heed of an impenitent heart; and that it be not thought that repentance can avail ought, unless the Church be kept to, in which remission of sins is given, and the fellowship of the Spirit is preserved in the bond of peace.

38. I have through the mercy and assistance of the Lord handled, as I best was able, this most difficult question, if indeed I have been able to do it in any measure. Nevertheless, whatever I have not been able to apprehend in the difficulties of it, let it not be imputed to the truth itself, which is a healthful exercise to the godly, even when it is hidden, but to my infirmity, who either could not see what others might have understood, or could not explain what I did understand. But for that which perhaps I have been able to discover by force of meditation, and to develop in words, to Him must the thanks be given, from whom I have sought, from whom I have asked, unto whom I have knocked, that I might have wherewithal to be nourished myself in meditation, and to minister to you in speaking.

Footnotes

[2335] 2 Cor. iii. 5. [2336] Matt. xii. 22-26. [2337] Matt. xii. 27. [2338] Virtutis. [2339] Matt. xii. 28. [2340] Matt. xii. 29. [2341] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [2342] Eph. ii. 3. [2343] Matt. xii. 30. [2344] Voce. [2345] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [2346] Maximianus, Deacon of the Church of Carthage, of the faction of Donatus, took offence at Primianus Bishop of Carthage, who had excommunicated him, and induced certain of the Donatist bishops to call Primianus to account; and when he would not acknowledge their authority, he was, as Cæcilianus had been, condemned in his absence. Primianus was restored by others of the Donatist bishops to communion, and Maximianus, together with twelve bishops who had assisted at his ordination as bishop, was condemned (Augustin, De Gest. Emerit. Donat. 9, etc., Lib. ad. Bonif.; Ep. 185 (al. 56) 17). The rest were restored to communion on their submission. The Maximianists were afterwards condemned by a Council of three hundred and ten bishops at the Council of Vagaia, A.D. 394 (Ep. 108 (255) 6, and 141 (al. 152) 6). St. Augustin frequently urges the separation of the Maximianists from the Donatists as condemnatory on their own principles of their own schism against the Catholic Church. [2347] Matt. xii. 31, 32. [2348] Acts xxiii. 8. [2349] Ipsa discessio. [2350] 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26. [2351] Fidelis. [2352] Sufficere. [2353] This word must be supplied from the former clause in the verse, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man" (Matt. xii. 32). It does not occur in the second clause of the verse in any of the versions. [2354] Imperitorum. [2355] Mereatur. [2356] he tou Pneumatos blasphemia. [2357] John xv. 22. [2358] Matt. xi. 28. [2359] Rom. v. 20. [2360] Matt. ix. 13. [2361] Studium. [2362] Fastidium. [2363] John iii. 5. [2364] Mark iii. 28, 29. Reus æterni peccati, hamartematos (for kriseos). So also Cyprian, Ep. xvi. [2365] Luke xii. 10. [2366] Clause dictum. [2367] 1 Cor. xiv. 15. [2368] Contradictioni. [2369] Jas. i. 13. [2370] Deut. xiii. 3. [2371] John vi. 5, 6. [2372] Mark xvi. 16. [2373] Jas. ii. 19. [2374] Acts viii. 13. [2375] Gal. v. 6. [2376] John vi. 56. [2377] 1 Cor. xi. 29. [2378] Luke xxii. 21. [2379] Confectum. [2380] Blasphemandi modus, vel potius immoderatio. [2381] Proprietate. [2382] Substantia. [2383] See note on the word Hypostasis in the Nicene Anathema, St. Ath. Treatises against Arianism, part 1, p. 66, Oxford translation. [2384] Conf. lib. vii. x. (16). [2385] Insinuatur. [2386] Auctoritas; St. Augustin, C. Maxim. iii. 14, guards the word against any idea of inequality; see Pet. De Trin. v. and 5. 11-13, who observes that the Greeks have no word exactly corresponding, although arche, aition, are equivalent. [2387] Commune. [2388] Rom. v. 5. [2389] 1 Pet. iv. 8. [2390] Origo. [2391] Orta. [2392] Effusa. [2393] Isa. lix. 2. [2394] John xx. 22, 23. [2395] John iii. 5. [2396] Matt. iii. 1, 2. [2397] Matt. iv. 17. [2398] Matt. iii. 11. [2399] Acts i. 5. [2400] See note g on Tert. De Bapt. c. 10, p. 268, Oxford translation. [2401] Acts ii. 3. [2402] Luke xii. 49. [2403] Rom. xii. 11. [2404] Rom. v. 5. [2405] Matt. xxiv. 12. [2406] Col. i. 13. [2407] John xii. 31. [2408] Eph. ii. 2. [2409] Rom. ii. 4-6. [2410] Matt. iii. 2 and iv. 17. [2411] Luke xxiv. 46, 47. [2412] Judicari. [2413] Ezek. xviii. 23. [2414] 1 Cor. iv. 5. [2415] 1 Tim. v. 17. [2416] Jas. i. 22. [2417] John iii. 5. [2418] John xx. 22, 23. [2419] Matt. xii. 31 [2420] Mark iii. 28. [2421] John xv. 22. [2422] John xvi. 8, 9. [2423] Matt. vi. 14. [2424] Matt. vi. 9. [2425] Matt. vi. 12. [2426] Matt. ix. 6. [2427] John xiv. 10. [2428] John v. 17. [2429] John v. 19. [2430] John xv. 24. [2431] Matt. xii. 28. [2432] Ps. lxxiii. 7, Sept. (lxxiv. 7, English version). [2433] Josh. v. 3. [2434] John iii. 8. [2435] 1 Cor. xii. 11. [2436] John xiv. 10. [2437] Origo. [2438] John xv. 24. [2439] Serm. ii. (lii. Bened.) 8-13 (iv.). [2440] Matt. xvii. 5; Luke iii. 22. [2441] Spiritualiter. [2442] Matt. xiv. 25. [2443] Matt. iii. 16. [2444] Acts ii. 3. [2445] Rom. viii. 15. [2446] Matt. vi. 12. [2447] 1 John iii. 24. [2448] Rom. viii. 16. [2449] Phil. ii. 1. [2450] Eph. iv. 3. [2451] John xv. 26. [2452] Matt. x. 20. [2453] Gal. iv. 6. [2454] Rom. viii. 9. [2455] Jude 19. [2456] 1 Cor. ii. 14. [2457] 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2, 3, Vulgate. [2458] 1 Cor. iii. 4, 5. [2459] Matt. xvi. 23. [2460] 1 Cor. iii. 16. [2461] Wisd. i. 5. [2462] Congregationibus vel potius segregationibus. [2463] Gal. iv. 29. [2464] 2 Tim. iii. 5. [2465] Acts ii. 37, 38. [2466] John xiv. 26. [2467] Significationes. [2468] Habetur. [2469] Luke xii. 8, 9. [2470] Luke xii. 10. [2471] Matt. xxvi. 75. [2472] Luke xxii. 31. [2473] Mark iii. 28, 29. [2474] Mark iii. 30. [2475] Acts iv. 32. [2476] John vii. 20 and viii. 48. [2477] Portantes et tractantes. [2478] Conventicula. [2479] Matt. xii. 30. [2480] Matt. xii. 31. [2481] Ezek. xxxiii. 11. [2482] Area. [2483] Probos. .


Sermon XXII.

[LXXII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 33, "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good," etc.

1. The Lord Jesus hath admonished us, that we be good trees, and that so we may be able to bear good fruits. For He saith, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit." [2484] When He says, "Make the tree good, and his fruit good;" this of course is not an admonition, but a wholesome precept, to which obedience is necessary. But when He saith, "Make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt;" this is not a precept that thou shouldest do it; but an admonition, that thou shouldest beware of it. For He spoke against those, who thought that although they were evil, they could speak good things or have good works. This the Lord Jesus saith is impossible. For the man himself must first be changed, in order that his works may be changed. For if a man abide in his evil state, he cannot have good works; if he abide in his good state, he cannot have evil works.

2. But who was found good by the Lord, since "Christ died for the ungodly"? [2485] He found them all corrupt trees, but to those who "believed in His Name, He gave power to become the sons of God." [2486] Whosoever then now is a good man, that is, a good tree, was found corrupt, and made good. And if when He came He had chosen to root up the corrupt trees, what tree would have remained which did not deserve to be rooted up? But He came first to impart [2487] mercy, that He might afterwards exercise judgment, to whom it is said, "I will sing unto Thee O Lord, of mercy and judgment." [2488] He gave then remission of sins to those who believed in Him, He would not even take account with them of past reckonings. [2489] He gave remission of sins, He made them good trees. He delayed the ax, He gave [2490] security.

3. Of this ax does John speak, saying, "Now is the ax laid unto the root of the trees; every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire." [2491] With this ax does the Householder in the Gospel threaten, saying, "Behold these three years I come to this tree, and find no fruit on it." Now I must clear [2492] the ground; wherefore let it be cut down. And the husbandman intercedes, saying, "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then Thou shalt come and cut it down." [2493] So the Lord hath visited mankind as it were three years, that is, at three several times. The first time was before the Law; the second under the Law; the third is now, which is the time of grace. For if He did not visit mankind before the Law, whence was Abel, and Enoch, and Noe, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, whose Lord He was pleased to be called? And He to whom all nations belonged, as though He were the God of three men only, said, "I am the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." [2494] But if He did not visit under the Law, He would not have given the Law itself. After the Law, came the very Master of the house in person; He suffered, and died, and rose again; He gave the Holy Spirit, He made the Gospel to be preached throughout all the world, and yet a certain tree remained unfruitful. Still is there a certain portion of mankind, which doth not yet amend itself. The husbandman intercedes; the Apostle prays for the people; "I bow my knees," he saith, "unto the Father for you, that being rooted and grounded in love, ye may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." [2495] By bowing the knees, he intercedes with the Master of the house for us, that we be not rooted up. Therefore since He must necessarily come, let us take care that He find us fruitful. The digging about the tree is the lowliness of the penitent. For every ditch is low. The dunging it, is the filthy [2496] robe [2497] of repentance. For what is more filthy than dung; yet if well used, what more profitable?

4. Let each one then be a good tree; let him not suppose that he can bear good fruit, if he remain a corrupt tree. There will be no good fruit, but from the good tree. Change the heart, and the work will be changed. Root out desire, plant in charity. "For as desire is the root of all evil," [2498] so is charity the root of all good. Why then do men fret and contend one with another, saying, "What is good?" O that thou knewest what good is! What thou dost wish to have is not very good; this is good which thou dost not wish to be. For thou dost wish to have health of body; it is good indeed; yet thou canst not think that to be any great good, which the wicked have as well. Thou dost wish to have gold and silver; I grant that these also are good things, but then only if thou make a good use of them; and a good use of them thou wilt not make, if thou art evil thyself. And hence gold and silver are to the evil evil; to the good are good, not because gold and silver make them good; but because they find them good, they are turned to a good use. Again, thou dost wish to have honour, it is good; but this too only if thou make a good use of it. To how many has honour been the occasion of destruction! And again, to how many has honour been the instrument [2499] of good works!

5. Let us then, if we can, make a distinction as to these goods; for it is of good trees that we are speaking. And here there is nothing, which every one ought so much to think of, as to turn his eyes upon himself, to learn in himself, examine himself, inspect himself, search into himself, and find out himself; and kill what is displeasing; and long for and plant in that which is well-pleasing (to God). For when a man finds himself so empty of better goods, why is he greedy of external goods? And what profit is there in a coffer full of goods, with an empty conscience? Thou wishest to have good things, and dost thou not then wish to be good thyself? Seest thou not that thou oughtest rather to blush for thy good things, if thy house is full of good things, and thou its owner art evil? For what is there, tell me, thou wouldest wish to have that is bad. Not any one thing I am sure; neither wife; nor son; nor daughter; nor manservant; nor maidservant; nor country seat; nor a coat; nay nor a shoe; [2500] and yet thou art willing to have a bad life. I pray thee prefer thy way of life to thy shoes. All things which encompass thy sight, as being of elegance and beauty, are highly prized by thee; and art thou so lightly esteemed by thyself, and so devoid of beauty? If the good things of which thine house is full, which thou hast longed to possess, and feared to lose, could make answer to thee, would they not cry out to thee, As thou wishest to have us good, so do we also wish to have a good owner? And now in speechless accents do they address thy Lord against thee: "Lo! thou hast given him so many good things, and he himself is evil. What profit is there to him in that he hath, when he hath not Him who hath given him all!"

6. One then who has been admonished, and it may be moved to compunction by these words, may ask what is good? what is the nature of good? and whence it comes? Well is it that thou hast understood that it is thy duty to ask this. I will answer thy enquiries, and will say, "That is good which thou canst not lose against thy will." For gold thou mayest lose even against thy will; and so thou canst a house; and honours, and even the health of the body; but the good whereby thou art truly good, thou dost neither receive against thy will, nor against thy will dost lose it. I enquire then, "What is the nature of this good?" One of the Psalms teaches us an important matter, perchance it is even this that we are seeking for. For it says, "O ye sons of men, how long will ye be heavy in heart?" [2501] How long will that tree be in its three [2502] years fruitlessness? "O ye sons of men, how long will ye be heavy in heart?" What is "heavy in heart"? "Why do ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?" And then it goes on to say what we must really seek after; "Know ye that the Lord hath magnified His Holy One?" [2503] Now Christ hath come, now hath He been magnified, now hath He risen again, and ascended into heaven, now is His Name preached through the world: "How long will ye be heavy in heart?" Let the times past suffice; now that that Holy One hath been magnified, "How long will ye be heavy in heart?" After the three years, what remains but the ax? "How long will ye be heavy in heart? Why do ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?" Vain, useless, frivolous, [2504] fleeting things are these still sought after, now that Christ the Holy One hath been so magnified? Truth now is crying aloud, and is vanity still sought after? "How long will ye be heavy in heart?"

7. With good reason is this world severely scourged; for the world hath known now its Master's words. "And the servant," He saith, "that knew not his Master's will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." [2505] Why? That he may seek after his Master's will. The servant then who knew not His will, this was the world, before "He magnified His Holy One;" it was "the servant who knew not his Master's will," and therefore "shall be beaten with few stripes." But the servant who now knoweth his Master's will, that is now, since the Godhead "sanctified His Holy One," and "doeth not His will, shall be beaten with many stripes." What marvel then, if the world be now much beaten? "It is the servant which knew his Master's will, and did commit things worthy of stripes." Let him then not refuse to be beaten with many stripes; since if in unrighteousness he will not hear his teacher, in righteousness must he feel his avenger. At least, let him not murmur against Him that chasteneth him, when he sees that he is worthy of stripes, that so he may attain [2506] mercy; through Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[2484] Matt. xii. 33. [2485] Rom. v. 6. [2486] John i. 12. [2487] Prærogare. [2488] Ps. ci. 1. [2489] Chartis. [2490] Distulit securim, dedit securitatem. [2491] Matt. iii. 10. [2492] Evacuare. [2493] Luke xiii. 7, etc. [2494] Exod. iii. 15. [2495] Eph. iii. 14, 17-19. [2496] Sordes poenitentiæ. [2497] Bingh, Antiq. xviii. c. 2, 2. [2498] 1 Tim. vi. 10. Cupiditas, Vulgate. [2499] Ministerium. [2500] Vide Serm. ccxxxii. (vii.) 8. [2501] Ps. iv. 3, Sept. (iv. 2, English version). [2502] Triennio. [2503] Ps. iv. 4. [2504] Pompatica. [2505] Luke xii. 48. [2506] Mereatur. .


Sermon XXIII.

[LXXIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xiii. 19, etc., where the Lord Jesus explaineth the parables of the sower.

1. Both yesterday and to-day ye have heard the parables of the sower, in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do ye who were present yesterday, recollect to-day. Yesterday we read of that sower, who when he scattered seed, "some fell by the way side," [2507] which the birds picked up; "some in stony places," which dried up from the heat; "some among thorns, which were choked," and could not bring forth fruit; and "other some into good ground, and it brought forth fruit, a hundred, sixty, thirty fold." But to-day the Lord hath again spoken another parable of the sower, "who sowed good seed in his field. While men slept the enemy came, and sowed tares upon it." [2508] As long as it was only in the blade, it did not appear; but when the fruit of the good seed began to appear, "then appeared the tares also." The servants of the householder were offended, when they saw a quantity of tares among the good wheat, and wished to root them out, but they were not suffered to do so; but it was said to them, "Let both grow together until the harvest." [2509] Now the Lord Jesus Christ explained this parable also; and said that He was the sower of the good seed, and He showed how that the enemy who sowed the tares was the devil; the time of harvest, the end of the world; His field the whole world. And what saith He? "In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, to burn them, but gather the wheat into My barn." Why are ye so hasty, He says, ye servants full of zeal? Ye see tares among the wheat, ye see evil Christians among the good; and ye wish to root up the evil ones; be quiet, it is not the time of harvest. That time will come, may it only find you wheat! Why do ye vex yourselves? Why bear impatiently the mixture of the evil with the good? In the field they may be with you, but they will not be so in the barn.

2. Now ye know that those three places mentioned yesterday where the seed did not grow, "the way side," "the stony ground," and "the thorny places," are the same as these "tares." They received only a different name under a different similitude. For when similitudes are used, or the literal meaning of a term is not expressed, not the truth but a similitude of the truth is conveyed by them. I see that but few have understood my meaning; yet it is for the benefit of all that I speak. In things visible, a way side is a way side, stony ground is stony ground, thorny places are thorny places; they are simply what they are, because the names are used in their literal sense. But in parables and similitudes one thing may be called by many names; therefore there is nothing inconsistent in my telling you that that "way side," that "stony ground," those "thorny places," are bad Christians, and that they too are the "tares." Is not Christ called "the Lamb"? Is not Christ "the Lion" too? Among wild beasts, and cattle, a lamb is simply a lamb, and a lion, a lion: but Christ is both. The first are respectively what they are in propriety of expression; the Latter both together in a figurative sense. [2510] Nay much more; besides this it may happen that under a figure, things very different from one another may be called by one and the same name. For what is so different as Christ and the devil? yet both Christ and the devil are called "a lion." Christ is called "a lion:" "The Lion hath prevailed of the tribe of Judah;" [2511] and the devil is called a lion: "Know ye not that your adversary the Devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour?" [2512] Both the one and the other then is a lion; the one a lion by reason of His strength; the other for his savageness; the one a lion for His "prevailing;" the other for his injuring. The devil again is a serpent, "that old serpent;" [2513] are we commanded then to imitate the devil, when our Shepherd told us, "Be ye wise as serpents, and simple as doves"? [2514]

3. Accordingly I yesterday addressed "the way side," I addressed the "stony ground," I addressed the "thorny places;" and I said, Be ye changed whilst ye may: turn up with the plough the hard ground, cast the stones out of the field, pluck up the thorns out of it. Be loth to retain that hard heart, from which the word of God may quickly pass away and be lost. Be loth to have that lightness of soil, where the root of charity can take no deep hold. Be loth to choke the good seed which is sown in you by my labours, with the lusts and the cares of this world. For it is the Lord who sows; and we are only His labourers. But be ye the "good ground." I said yesterday, and I say again today to all, Let one bring forth "a hundred, another sixty, another thirty fold." In one the fruit is more, in another less; but all will have a place in the barn. Yesterday I said all this, to-day I am addressing the tares; but the sheep themselves are the tares. O evil Christians, O ye, who in filling only press the Church by your evil lives; amend yourselves before the harvest come. "Say not, I have sinned, and what hath befallen me?" [2515] God hath not lost His power; but He is requiring repentance from thee. I say this to the evil, who yet are Christians; I say this to the tares. For they are in the field; and it may so be, that they who to-day are tares, may to-morrow be wheat. And so I will address the wheat also.

4. O ye Christians, whose lives are good, ye sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! the harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. We in this time present are like those servants of whom it was said, "Wilt Thou that we go and gather them up?" [2516] for we were wishing, if it might be so, that no evil ones should remain among the good. But it has been told us, "Let both grow together until the harvest." [2517] Why? For ye are such as may be deceived. Hear finally; "Lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them." [2518] What good are ye doing? Will ye by your eagerness make a waste of My harvest? The reapers will come, and who the reapers are He hath explained, "And the reapers are the angels." [2519] We are but men, the reapers are the angels. We too indeed, if we finish our course, shall be equal to the angels of God; but now when we chafe against the wicked, we are as yet but men. And we ought now to give ear to the words, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." [2520] For do ye think, my Brethren, that these tares we read of do not get up into this [2521] seat? [2522] Think ye that they are all below, and none above up here? God grant we may not be so. "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you." [2523] I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days.

Footnotes

[2507] Matt. xiii. 3-8. [2508] Matt. xiii. 24, 25. [2509] Matt. xiii. 30. [2510] Per similitudinem. [2511] Rev. v. 5. [2512] 1 Pet. v. 8. [2513] Rev. xii. 9. [2514] Matt. x. 16. [2515] Ecclus. v. 4. [2516] Matt. xiii. 28. [2517] Matt. xiii. 30. [2518] Matt. xiii. 29. [2519] Matt. xiii. 39. [2520] 1 Cor. x. 12. [2521] Apsidas. [2522] Apsis the higher semicircular or arched part of the chancel, where the bishop had his throne with the presbyters. See Bing. Antiq. B. viii. c. vi. 9, 10. [2523] 1 Cor. iv. 3. .


Sermon XXIV.

[LXXIV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xiii. 52, "Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of Heaven," etc.

1. The lesson of the Gospel reminds me to seek out, and to explain to you, Beloved, as the Lord shall give me power, who is "that Scribe instructed in the kingdom of God, who is "like unto an householder bringing out of his treasure things new and old." [2524] For here the lesson ended. "What are the new and old things of an instructed Scribe?" Now it is well known who they were, whom the ancients, after the custom of our Scriptures, called Scribes, those, namely, who professed the knowledge of the Law. For such were called Scribes among the Jewish people, not such as are so called now in the service [2525] of judges, or the custom of states. For we must not enter school to no purpose, but we must know in what signification to take the words of Scripture; lest when anything is mentioned out of it, which is usually understood in another secular use of the term, the hearer mistake it, and by thinking of its customary meaning, understand not what he has heard. The Scribes then were they who professed the knowledge of the Law, and to them belonged both the keeping and the studying, as well as also the transcribing and the expounding, of the books of the Law.

2. Such were they whom our Lord Jesus Christ rebukes, because they have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and "would neither enter in themselves, nor suffer others to enter in;" [2526] in these words finding fault with the Pharisees and Scribes, the teachers of the law of the Jews. Of whom in another place He says, "Whatsoever they say, do, but do not ye after their works, for they say and do not." [2527] Why is it said to you, "For they say and do not?" but that there are some of whom what the Apostle says, is clearly exemplified, "Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you." [2528] It is surely plain that the Lord speaks of these, "For they say and do not." They then are Scribes, but not "instructed in the kingdom of God."

3. Peradventure some of you may say, "And how can a bad man speak what is good, when it is written, in the words of the Lord Himself, `A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things. Ye hypocrites, how can ye being evil speak good things?'" [2529] In the one place He says, "How can ye being evil speak good things?" in the other He says, "What they say, do, but do ye not after their works. For they say, and do not." If "they say and do not," they are evil; if they are evil, they cannot "speak good things;" how then are we to do what we hear from them, when we cannot hear from them what is good? Now take heed, Holy and Beloved, [2530] how this question may be solved. Whatever an evil man brings forth from himself, is evil; whatever an evil man brings forth out of his own heart, is evil; for there is the evil treasure. But whatever a good man brings forth out of his heart, is good; for there is the good treasure. Whence then did those evil men bring forth good things? "Because they sat in Moses' seat." [2531] Had He not first said, "They sit in Moses' seat;" He would never have enjoined that evil men should be heard. For what they brought forth out of the evil treasure of their own heart, was one thing; another what they gave utterance to out of the seat of Moses, the criers so to say of the judge. What the crier says, will never be attributed to him if he speak in the presence of the judge. What the crier says in his own house is one thing, what the crier says as hearing it from the judge is another. For whether he will or no, the crier must proclaim the sentence [2532] of punishment even of his own friend. And so whether he will or no, must he proclaim the sentence of the acquittal even of his own enemy. Suppose him to speak from his heart; he acquits his friend, and punishes his enemy. Suppose him to speak from the judge's chair; he punishes his friend, and acquits his enemy. So with the Scribes; suppose them to speak out of their own heart; thou wilt hear, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die." [2533] Suppose them to speak from Moses' seat; thou wilt hear, "Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness. Honour thy father and mother; thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself." [2534] Do then this which the official seat [2535] proclaims by the mouth of the Scribes; not that which their heart utters. For so embracing both judgments of the Lord, thou wilt not be obedient in the one, and guilty of disobedience in the other; but wilt understand that both agree together, and wilt regard both that as true, "that a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things;" and that other also, that those Scribes did not speak good things out of the evil treasure of their heart, but that they were able to speak good things out of the treasure of Moses' seat.

4. So then those words of the Lord will not disturb you, when He says, "Every tree is known by his own fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles?" [2536] The Scribes and Pharisees of the Jews therefore were thorns and thistles, and notwithstanding, "what they say do, but do ye not after their works." So then the grape is gathered from thorns, and the fig from thistles, as He has given thee to understand according to the method I have just laid down. For so sometimes in the vineyard's thorny hedge, the vines get entangled, and clusters of grapes hang from the brambles. Thou hadst no sooner heard the name of thorns, than thou wert on the point of disregarding the grape. But seek for the root of the thorns, and thou wilt see where to find it. Follow too the root of the hanging cluster, and thou wilt see where to find it. So understand that the one refers to the Pharisee's heart, the other to Moses' seat.

5. But why were they such as they were? "Because," says St. Paul, "the vail is upon their heart. And they do not see that the old things are passed away, and all things are become new." [2537] Hence it is that they were such, and all others who even now are like them. Why are they old things? Because they have been a long while published. Why new? Because they relate to the kingdom of God. How the vail then is taken away, the Apostle himself tells us. "But when thou shalt turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away." [2538] So then the Jew who does not turn to the Lord, does not carry on his mind's eye to the end. Just as at that time the children of Israel in this figure did not carry on the gaze of their eyes "to the end," [2539] that is, to the face of Moses. For the shining face of Moses contained a figure of the truth; the vail was interposed because the children of Israel could not yet behold the glory of his countenance. "Which figure is done away." [2540] For so said the Apostle; "which is done away." Why done away? Because when the emperor comes, the images of him are taken away. The image is looked upon, when the emperor is not present; but where he is, whose image it is, there the image is removed. There were then images borne before Him, before that our Emperor the Lord Jesus Christ came. When the images were taken away, the glory of the Emperor's presence is seen. Therefore, "When any one turneth to the Lord, the vail is taken away." For the voice of Moses sounded through the vail, but the face of Moses was not seen. And so now the voice of Christ sounds to the Jews by the voice of the old Scriptures: they hear their voice, but they see not the face of Him that speaketh. Would they then that the vail should be taken away? "Let them turn to the Lord." For then the old things are not taken away, but laid up in a treasury, that the Scribe may henceforth be "instructed in the kingdom of God, bringing forth out of his treasure" not "new things" only, nor "old things" only. For if he bring forth "new things" only or "old things" only; he is not "a scribe instructed in the kingdom of God, bringing forth out of his treasure things new and old." If he say and do them not; he brings forth from the official seat, not from the treasure of his heart. And (we speak the truth, Holy Brethren) what things are brought out of the old, are illustrated by the new. Therefore do "we turn to the Lord, that the vail may be taken away."

Footnotes

[2524] Matt. xiii. 52. [2525] Officiis. [2526] Luke xi. 52. [2527] Matt. xxiii. 3. [2528] Rom. ii. 21, etc. [2529] Matt. xii. 35, 34. [2530] Sanctitas Vestra. [2531] Matt. xxiii. 2. [2532] Vocem. [2533] Isa. xxii. 13. [2534] Exod. xx. 12, etc. [2535] Cathedra. [2536] Luke vi. 44; Matt. vii. 16. [2537] 2 Cor. iii. 15, v. 17. [2538] 2 Cor. iii. 16. [2539] 2 Cor. iii. 13. eis to telos. [2540] tou katargoumenou. Quod evacuatur. .


Sermon XXV.

[LXXV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xiv. 24, "But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves."

1. The lesson of the Gospel which we have just heard is a lesson of humility to us all, that we may see and know where we are, and whither we must tend and hasten. For that ship which carries the disciples, which was tossed in the waves by a contrary wind, is not without its meaning. Nor without a meaning [2541] did the Lord after He had left the multitudes, go up into a mountain to pray alone; and then coming to His disciples found them in danger, walking on the sea, and getting up into the ship strengthened them, and appeased the waves. But what marvel if He can appease all things who created all? Nevertheless after He was come up into the ship, they who were being borne in her, came saying, "Of a truth Thou art the Son of God." [2542] But before this plain discovery of Himself [2543] they were troubled, saying, "It is a phantom." [2544] But He coming up into the ship took away the fluctuation of mind from their hearts, when they were now more endangered in their souls by doubting, than before in their bodies by the waves.

2. Yet in all this that the Lord did, He instructs us as to the nature of our life here. In this world there is not a man who is not a stranger; though all do not desire to return to their own country. Now by this very journey we are exposed to waves and tempests; but we must needs be at least in the ship. For if there be perils in the ship, without the ship there is certain destruction. For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests [2545] of this world. We are exposed to the violence of the waves; but He who helpeth us is God.

3. For in that when the Lord had left the multitudes, "He went up alone into a mountain to pray;" [2546] that mountain signifies the height of heaven. For having left the multitudes, the Lord after His Resurrection ascended Alone into heaven, and "there," as the Apostle says, "He maketh intercession for us." [2547] There is some meaning then in His "leaving the multitudes, and going up into a mountain to pray Alone." For He Alone is as yet the First-begotten from the dead, after the resurrection of His Body, unto the right hand of the Father, the High Priest and Advocate of our prayers. The Head of the Church is above, that the rest of the members may follow at the end. If then "He maketh intercession for us," above the height of all creatures, as it were on the mountain top, "He prayeth Alone."

4. Meanwhile the ship which carries the disciples, that is, the Church, is tossed and shaken by the tempests of temptation; and the contrary wind, that is, the devil her adversary, rests not, and strives to hinder her from arriving at rest. But greater is "He who maketh intercession for us." For in this our tossing to and fro in which we toil, He giveth us confidence in coming to us, and strengthening us; only let us not in our trouble throw ourselves out of the ship, and cast ourselves into the sea. For though the ship be in trouble, still it is the ship. She alone carrieth the disciples, and receiveth Christ. There is danger, it is true, in the sea; but without her there is instant perishing. Keep thyself therefore in the ship, and pray to God. For when all counsels fail, when even the rudder is unserviceable, and the very spreading of the sails is rather dangerous than useful, when all human help and strength is gone, there remains only for the sailors the earnest cry of entreaty, and pouring out of prayer to God. He then who grants to sailors to reach the haven, shall He so forsake His own Church, as not to bring it on to rest?

5. Yet, Brethren, this exceeding trouble is not in this ship, save only in the absence of the Lord. What! can he who is in the Church, have his Lord absent from him? When has he his Lord absent from him? When he is overcome by any lust. For as we find it said in a certain place in a figure, [2548] "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil:" [2549] and this is understood not of this visible sun which holds as it were the zenith of glory among the rest of the visible creation, and which can be seen equally by us and by the beasts; but of that Light which none but the pure hearts of the faithful see; as it is written, "That was the true Light, which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world." [2550] For this light of the visible sun "lighteneth" even the minutest and smallest animals. Righteousness then and wisdom is that true light, which the mind ceases to see, when it is overcome by the disordering of anger as by a cloud; and then, as it were, the sun goes down upon a man's wrath. So also in this ship, when Christ is absent, every one is shaken by his own storms, and iniquities, and evil desires. For, for example, the law tells thee, "Thou shall not bear false witness." If thou observe the truth of witness, thou hast light in the soul; but if overcome by the desire of filthy lucre, thou hast determined in thy mind to speak false witness, thou wilt at once begin through Christ's absence to be troubled by the tempest, thou wilt be tossed to and fro by the waves of thy covetousness, thou wilt be endangered by the violent storm of thy lusts, and as it were through Christ's absence be well nigh sunk.

6. What cause of fear is there, lest the ship be diverted from her course, and take a backward direction; which happens when, abandoning the hope of heavenly rewards, desire turneth the helm, and a man is turned to those things which are seen and pass away! For whosoever is disturbed by the temptations of lusts, and nevertheless still looks into those things which are within, is not so utterly in a desperate state, if he beg pardon for his faults, and exert himself to overcome and surmount the fury of the raging sea. But he who is so turned aside from what he was, as to say in his heart, "God does not see me; for He does not think of me, nor care whether I sin;" he hath turned the helm, borne away by the storm, and driven back to the point he came from. For there are many thoughts in the hearts of men; and when Christ is absent, the ship is tossed by the waves of this world, and by tempests manifold.

7. Now the fourth watch of the night, is the end of the night; for each watch consists of three hours. It signifies then, that now in the end of the world the Lord is come to help, and is seen to walk upon the waters. For though this ship be tossed about by the storms of temptations, yet she sees her Glorified God walking above all the swellings of the sea; that is, above all the principalities of this world. For before it was said by an expression suited to the time of His Passion, [2551] when according to the flesh He showed forth an example of humility, that the waves of the sea vainly raged [2552] against Him, to which He yielded voluntarily for our sakes, that that prophecy, "I am come into the depths of the sea, and the floods overflow Me," [2553] might be fulfilled. For He did not repel the false witnesses, nor the savage shout of those that said, "Let Him be crucified." He did not by His power repress the savage hearts and words of those furious men, but in patience endured them all. They did unto Him whatsoever they listed; because He "became obedient to death, even the death of the Cross." [2554] But after that He was risen from the dead, that He might pray alone for His disciples placed in the Church as in a ship, and borne on in the faith of His Cross, as in wood, and in peril through this world's temptations as through the waves of the sea; His Name began to be honoured even in this world in which He was despised, accused, and slain; that He who in the dispensation of His suffering in the flesh, "had come into the depths of the sea, and the floods had overwhelmed Him," might now through the glory of His Name tread upon the necks of the proud as on the foaming waters. Just as we now see the Lord walking as it were upon the sea, under whose feet we behold the whole madness of this world subjected.

8. But to the perils of tempests are added also the errors of heretics; and there are not wanting those who so try the minds of them that are in the ship, as to say that Christ [2555] was not born of a Virgin, nor had a real body, but seemed to the eyes what He was not. And these opinions of heretics have sprung up now, when the Name of Christ is already glorified throughout all nations; when Christ, that is, is as it were now walking on the sea. The disciples in their trial said, "It is a phantom." [2556] But He giveth us strength against these pestilent opinions by His own voice, "Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid." [2557] For men in vain fear have conceived these opinions concerning Christ, looking at his Honour and Majesty; and they think that He could not be so born, who hath deserved to be so Glorified, fearing Him as it were "walking on the sea." For by this action the excellency of His honour is figured; and so they think that He was a phantom. But when he saith, "It is I;" what else doth He say but that there is nothing in Him which does not really exist? Accordingly if He showeth His flesh, it is flesh; if bones, they are bones; if scars, they are scars. For "there was not in Him yea and nay, but in Him was yea," [2558] as the Apostle says. Hence that expression, "Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid." That is, do not so stand in awe of My Majesty, as to wish to take away the reality of My Being from Me. Though I walk upon the sea, though I have under My feet the elation and the pride of this world, as the raging waves, yet have I appeared as very Man, yet does My Gospel proclaim the very truth concerning Me, that I was born of a Virgin, that I am the Word made flesh; that I said truly, "Handle Me, and see, for a spirit hath not bones as ye see Me have," [2559] that they were true impresses of My wounds which the hands of the doubting Apostle handled. And therefore "It is I; be not afraid."

9. But this, that the disciples thought He was a phantom, does not represent these only, does not designate them only who deny that the Lord had human flesh, and who sometimes by their blind perverseness disturb even those who are in the ship; but those also who think that the Lord has in anything spoken falsely, and who do not believe that the things which He has threatened the ungodly will come to pass. As though He were partly true, and partly false, appearing like a phantom in His words, as though He were something which is "yea and nay." But they who understand His voice aright, who saith, "It is I; be not afraid;" believe at once all the words of the Lord, so that as they hope for the rewards He promises, so do they fear the punishments He threatens. For as that is true which He will say to those who are set on the right hand, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" [2560] so is that true, which they on the left hand will hear, "Depart ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his Angels." [2561] For this very opinion, by which men think that Christ's threatenings against the unrighteous and the abandoned are not true, has arisen from this, that they see many nations and multitudes innumerable subject to His Name; so that hence Christ appears to them to be a phantom, because He walked upon the sea; that is, He seems to speak falsely in His threats of punishment, because, as it were, He cannot destroy such numberless people who are subject to His Name and honour. But let them hear Him, saying, "It is I;" let them not therefore "be afraid," who believing Christ to be true in all things, not only seek after what He hath promised, but avoid also what He hath threatened; because though He walk upon the sea, that is, though all the nations of men in this world are subject unto Him; yet is He no phantom, and therefore He doth not speak falsely, when He saith, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." [2562]

10. What then does Peter's daring to come to Him on the waters also signify? For Peter generally stands for a figure of the Church. What else then do we think is meant by, "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water;" [2563] but, Lord, if Thou art true, and in nothing speakest falsely, let Thy Church also be glorified in this world, because prophecy hath proclaimed this concerning Thee. Let her walk then on the waters, and so let her come to Thee, to whom it is said, "The rich among the people shall entreat Thy favour." [2564] But since to the Lord the praise of men is no temptation, but men are ofttimes in the Church disordered by human praises and honours, and well nigh sunk by them; therefore did Peter tremble in the sea, terrified at the great violence of the storm. For who does not fear those words, "They who call thee blessed cause thee to err, and disturb the ways of thy feet?" [2565] And because the soul hath much wrestling against the eager desire of human praise, good is it in such peril to betake one's self to prayer and earnest entreaty: lest haply he who is charmed with praise, be overwhelmed and sunk by blame. Let Peter cry out as he totters in the water, and say, "Lord, save me." For the Lord will reach forth His hand, and though He chide, saying, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" wherefore didst thou not look straight forward upon Him to whom thou wast making thy way, and glory only in the Lord? Nevertheless He will snatch him from the waves, and will not suffer Him to perish, who confesses his own infirmity, and begs His help. But when they had received the Lord into the ship, and their faith was strengthened and all doubt removed, and the tempests of the sea assuaged, so that they were come to a firm and secure landing, they all worship Him, saying, "Of a truth Thou art the Son of God." For this is that everlasting joy, where Truth made manifest, and the Word of God, and the Wisdom by which all things were made, and the exceeding height of His Mercy, are both known and loved.

Footnotes

[2541] Causa. [2542] Matt. xiv. 33. [2543] Evidentiam. [2544] phantasma. Matt. xiv. 26. [2545] Submersionibus. [2546] Matt. xiv. 23. [2547] Rom. viii. 34. [2548] In sacramento. [2549] Eph. iv. 26, 27. [2550] John i. 9. [2551] Ex voce passionis ejus. [2552] Evanuerunt. [2553] Ps. lxix. 2. [2554] Phil. ii. 8. [2555] Manichees, Conf. B. v. 9 (16), 10 (20); B. ix. 3 (6). [2556] Matt. xiv. 26. [2557] Matt. xiv. 27. [2558] 2 Cor. i. 19. [2559] Luke xxiv. 39. [2560] Matt. xxv. 34. [2561] Matt. xxv. 41. [2562] Matt. vii. 21. [2563] Matt. xiv. 28. [2564] Ps. xlv. 12. [2565] Isa. iii. 12, Vulgate. .


Sermon XXVI.

[LXXVI. Ben.]

Again on Matt. xiv. 25: Of the Lord walking on the waves of the sea, and of Peter tottering.

1. The Gospel which has just been read touching the Lord Christ, who walked on the waters of the sea; [2566] and the Apostle Peter, who as he was walking, tottered through fear, and sinking in distrust, rose again by confession, gives us to understand that the sea is the present world, and the Apostle Peter the type of the One Church. For Peter in the order of Apostles first, and in the love of Christ most forward, answers oftentimes alone for all the rest. Again, when the Lord Jesus Christ asked, whom men said that He was, and when the disciples gave the various opinions of men, and the Lord asked again and said, "But whom say ye that I am?" Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." One for many gave the answer, Unity in many. Then said the Lord to Him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven." [2567] Then He added, "and I say unto thee." As if He had said, "Because thou hast said unto Me, `Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God;' I also say unto thee, `Thou art Peter.'" For before he was called Simon. Now this name of Peter was given him by the Lord, and that in a figure, that he should signify the Church. For seeing that Christ is the rock (Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original name. Therefore Peter is so called [2568] from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. "Therefore," he saith, "Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock" which thou hast confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;" that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, "will I build My Church." I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon thee.

2. For men who wished to be built upon men, said, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas," [2569] who is Peter. But others who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, "But I am of Christ." And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" [2570] And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter.

3. This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced "blessed," bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship, [2571] a very little while after that he had heard that he was "blessed," a very little while after that he had heard that he was "Peter," a very little while after that he had heard that he was to be "built upon the Rock," displeased the Lord when He had heard of His future Passion, for He had foretold His disciples that it was soon to be. He feared lest he should by death, lose Him whom he had confessed as the fountain of life. He was troubled, and said, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be to Thee." [2572] Spare Thyself, O God, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die. Peter said to Christ, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die; but Christ far better said, I am willing to die for thee. And then He forthwith rebuked him, whom He had a little before commended; and calleth him Satan, whom he had pronounced "blessed." "Get thee behind Me, Satan," he saith, "thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." [2573] What would He have us do in our present state, who thus findeth fault because we are men? Would you know what He would have us do? Give ear to the Psalm; "I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most High." But by savouring the things of men; "ye shall die like men." [2574] The very same Peter a little while before blessed, afterwards Satan, in one moment, within a few words! Thou wonderest at the difference of the names, mark the difference of the reasons of them. Why wonderest thou that he who was a little before blessed, is afterwards Satan? Mark the reason wherefore he is blessed. "Because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven." [2575] Therefore blessed, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. For if flesh and blood revealed this to thee, it were of thine own; but because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven, it is of Mine, not of thine own. Why of Mine? "Because all things that the Father hath are Mine." [2576] So then thou hast heard the cause, why he is "blessed," and why he is "Peter." But why was he that which we shudder at, and are loth to repeat, why, but because it was of thine own? "For thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those that be of men."

4. Let us, looking at ourselves in this member of the Church, distinguish what is of God, and what of ourselves. For then we shall not totter, then shall we be founded on the Rock, shall be fixed and firm against the winds, and storms, and streams, the temptations, I mean, of this present world. Yet see this Peter, who was then our figure; now he trusts, and now he totters; now he confesses the Undying, and now he fears lest He should die. Wherefore? because the Church of Christ hath both strong and weak ones; and cannot be without either strong or weak; whence the Apostle Paul says, "Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak." [2577] In that Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," he represents the strong: but in that he totters, and would not that Christ should suffer, in fearing death for Him, and not acknowledging the Life, he represents the weak ones of the Church. In that one Apostle then, that is, Peter, in the order of Apostles first and chiefest, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be represented, that is, both the strong and weak; because the Church doth not exist without them both.

5. And hence also is that which was just now read, "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water." [2578] For I cannot do this in myself, but in Thee. He acknowledged what he had of himself, and what of Him, by whose will he believed that he could do that, which no human weakness could do. Therefore, "if it be Thou, bid me;" because when thou biddest, it will be done. What I cannot do by taking it upon myself, [2579] Thou canst do by bidding me. And the Lord said "Come." [2580] And without any doubting, at the word of Him who bade him, at the presence of Him who sustained, at the presence of Him who guided him, without any delay, Peter leaped down into the water, and began to walk. He was able to do what the Lord was doing, not in himself, but in the Lord. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." [2581] What no one can do in Paul, no one in Peter, no one in any other of the Apostles, this can he do in the Lord. Therefore well said Paul by a wholesome despising of himself, and commending of Him; "Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" [2582] So then, ye are not in me, but together with me; not under me, but under Him.

6. Therefore Peter walked on the water by the bidding of the Lord, knowing that he could not have this power of himself. By faith he had strength to do what human weakness could not do. These are the strong ones of the Church. Mark this, hear, understand, and act accordingly. For we must not deal with the strong on any other principle [2583] than this, that so they should become weak; but thus we must deal with the weak, that they may become strong. But the presuming on their own strength keeps many back from strength. No one will have strength from God, but he who feels himself weak of himself. "God setteth apart a spontaneous rain for His inheritance." [2584] Why do you, who know what I was about to say, anticipate me? Let your quickness be moderated, that the slowness of the rest may follow. This I said, and I say it again; hear it, receive it, and act on this principle. No one is made strong by God, but he who feels himself weak of his own self. And therefore a "spontaneous rain," as the Psalm says, "spontaneous;" not of our deserts, but "spontaneous." "A spontaneous rain" therefore "God setteth apart for his inheritance;" for "it was weak; but Thou hast perfected it." Because Thou "hast set apart for it a spontaneous rain," not looking to men's deserts, but to Thine own grace and mercy. This inheritance then was weakened, and acknowledged its own weakness in itself, that it might be strong in Thee. It would not be strengthened, if it were not weak, that by Thee it might be "perfected" in Thee.

7. See Paul a small portion of this inheritance, see him in weakness, who said, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God." Why then art thou an Apostle? "By the grace of God I am what I am. I am not meet, but by the grace of God I am what I am." Paul was "weak," but Thou hast "perfected" him. But now because by "the grace of God he is what he is," look what follows; "And His grace in me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all." [2585] Take heed lest thou lose by presumption what thou hast attained [2586] through weakness. This is well, very well; that "I am not meet to be called an Apostle. By His grace I am what I am, and His grace in me was not in vain:" all most excellent. But, "I laboured more abundantly than they all;" thou hast begun, it would seem, to ascribe to thyself what a little before thou hadst given to God. Attend and follow on; "Yet not I, but the grace of God with me." Well! thou weak one; thou shalt be exalted in exceeding strength, seeing thou art not unthankful. Thou art the very same Paul, little in thyself; and great in the Lord. Thou art he who didst thrice beseech the Lord, that "the thorn of the flesh, the messenger of Satan, by whom thou wast buffeted, might be taken away from thee." [2587] And what was said to thee? what didst thou hear when thou madest this petition? "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." [2588] For he was "weak," but Thou didst "perfect" him.

8. So Peter also said, "Bid me come unto Thee on the water." I who dare this am but a man, but it is no man whom I beseech. Let the God-man bid, that man may be able to do what man cannot do. "Come," said He. And He went down, and began to walk on the water; and Peter was able, because the Rock had bidden him. Lo, what Peter was in the Lord; what was he in himself? "When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, I perish, save me." When he [2589] looked for strength from the Lord, he had strength from the Lord; as a man he tottered, but he returned to the Lord. "If I said, my foot hath slipped" [2590] (they are the words of a Psalm, the notes of a holy song; and if we acknowledge them they are our words too; yea, if we will, they are ours also). "If I said my foot hath slipped." How slipped, except because it was mine own. And what follows? "Thy mercy, Lord, helped me." Not mine own strength, but Thy mercy. For will God forsake him as he totters, whom He heard when calling upon Him? Where then is that, "Who hath called upon God, and hath been forsaken by Him?" [2591] where again is that, "Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord, shall be delivered." [2592] Immediately reaching forth the help of His right hand, He lifted him up as he was sinking, and rebuked his distrust; "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Once thou didst trust in Me, hast thou now doubted of Me?

9. Well, brethren, my sermon must be ended. Consider the world to be the sea; the wind is boisterous, and there is a mighty tempest. Each man's peculiar lust is his tempest. Thou dost love God; thou walkest upon the sea, and under thy feet is the swelling of the world. Thou dost love the world, it will swallow thee up. It skilleth only how to devour its lovers, not to carry them. But when thy heart is tossed about by lust, in order that thou mayest get the better of thy lust, call upon the Divinity of Christ. Think ye that the wind is then contrary, when there is this life's adversity? For so when there are wars, when there is tumult, when there is famine, when there is pestilence, when even to every individual man his private calamity arriveth, then the wind is thought to be contrary, then it is thought that God must be called upon. But when the world wears her smile of temporal happiness, it is as if there were no contrary wind. But do not ask upon this matter the tranquil state of the times: ask only your own lust. See if there be tranquillity within thee: see if there be no inner wind which overturns thee; see to this. There needs great virtue to struggle with happiness, lest this very happiness allure, corrupt, and overthrow thee. There needs, I say, great virtue to struggle with happiness, and great happiness not to be overcome by happiness. Learn then to tread upon the world; remember to trust in Christ. And "if thy foot have slipped;" if thou totter, if some things there are which thou canst not overcome, if thou begin to sink, say, "Lord, I perish, save me." Say, "I perish," that thou perish not. For He only can deliver thee from the death of the body, who died in the body for thee. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[2566] Matt. xiv. 25. [2567] Matt. xvi. 17, etc. [2568] Vide Sermon cclxx. 2, and ccxcv. 1. [2569] 1 Cor. i. 12. [2570] 1 Cor. i. 13. [2571] Apostolatus principatum. [2572] Matt. xvi. 22. [2573] Matt. xvi. 23. [2574] Ps. lxxxii. 6, 7. [2575] Matt. xvi. 17. [2576] John xvi. 15. [2577] Rom. xv. 1. [2578] Matt. xiv. 28. [2579] Præsumendo. [2580] Matt. xiv. 29. [2581] Eph. v. 8. [2582] 1 Cor. i. 13. [2583] Alibi. [2584] Ps. lxvii. 10, Sept. (lxviii. 9, English version). [2585] 1 Cor. xv. 9, etc. [2586] Meruisti. [2587] 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. [2588] 2 Cor. xii. 9. [2589] Præsumsit de Domino. [2590] Ps. xciv. 18. [2591] Ecclus. ii. 10, Sept. [2592] Joel ii. 32. .


Sermon XXVII.

[LXXVII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xv. 21,"Jesus went out thence, and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanitish woman," etc.

1. This woman of Canaan, who has just now been brought before us in the lesson of the Gospel, shows us an example of humility, and the way of godliness; shows us how to rise from humility unto exaltation. Now she was, as it appears, not of the people of Israel, of whom came the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and the parents of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; of whom the Virgin Mary herself was, who was the Mother of Christ. This woman then was not of this people; but of the Gentiles. For, as we have heard, the Lord "departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts," [2593] and with the greatest earnestness begged of Him the mercy to heal her daughter, "who was grievously vexed with a devil." Tyre and Sidon were not cities of the people of Israel, but of the Gentiles; though they bordered on that people. So then, as being eager to obtain mercy she cried out, and boldly knocked; and He made as though He heard her not, [2594] not to the end that mercy might be refused her, but that her desire might be enkindled; and not only that her desire might be enkindled, but that, as I have said before, her humility might be set forth. Therefore did she cry, while the Lord was as though He heard her not, but was ordering in silence what He was about to do. The disciples besought the Lord for her, and said, "Send her away; for she crieth after us." And He said, "I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [2595]

2. Here arises a question out of these words; "If He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, how came we from among the Gentiles into Christ's fold? What is the meaning of the so deep economy [2596] of this mystery, that whereas the Lord knew the purpose of His coming--that He might have a Church in all nations, He said that `He was not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel'?" We understand then by this that it behoved Him to manifest His Bodily presence, His Birth, the exhibition of His miracles, and the power of His Resurrection, among that people: that so it had been ordained, so set forth from the beginning, so predicted, and so fulfilled; that Christ Jesus was to come to the nation of the Jews, to be seen and slain, and to gain from among them those whom He foreknew. For that people was not wholly condemned, but sifted. There was among them a great quantity of chaff, but there was also the hidden worth [2597] of the grain; there was among them that which was to be burnt, there was among them also that wherewith the barn was to be filled. For whence came the Apostles? whence came Peter? whence the rest?

3. Whence was Paul himself, who was first called Saul? That is, first proud, afterwards humble? For when he was Saul, his name was derived from Saul: now Saul was a proud king; and in his reign he persecuted the humble David. [2598] So when he who was afterwards Paul, [2599] was Saul, he was proud, at that time a persecutor of the innocent, at that time a waster of the Church. For he had received letters from the chief priests (burning as he was with zeal for the synagogue, and persecuting the Christian name), that he might show up whatever Christians he should find, to be punished. [2600] While he is on his way, while he is breathing out slaughter, while he is thirsting for blood, he is thrown to the ground by the voice of Christ from heaven the persecutor, he is raised up the preacher. In him was fulfilled that which is written in the Prophet, "I will wound and I will heal." [2601] For that only in man doth God wound, which lifteth itself up against God. He is no unkind [2602] physician who opens the swelling, who cuts, or cauterizes the corrupted part. He gives pain, it is true; but he only gives pain, that he may bring the patient on to health. He gives pain; but if he did not, he would do no good. Christ then by one word laid Saul low, and raised up Paul; that is, He laid low the proud, and raised up the humble. For what was the reason of his change of name, that whereas he was afore called Saul, he chose afterwards to be called Paul; but that he acknowledged in himself that the name of Saul when he was a persecutor, had been a name of pride? He chose therefore a humble name; to be called Paul, that is, the least. For Paul is, "the least." Paul is nothing else but little. And now glorying in this name, and giving us a lesson [2603] of humility, he says, "I am the least of the Apostles." [2604] Whence then, whence was he, but of the people of the Jews? Of them were the other Apostles, of them was Paul, of them were they whom the same Paul mentions, as having seen the Lord after His resurrection. For he says, "That He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep." [2605]

4. Of this people too, of the people of the Jews, were they, who when Peter was speaking, setting forth the Passion, and Resurrection, and Divinity of Christ (after that the Holy Ghost had been received, when all they on whom the Holy Ghost had come, spake with the tongues of all nations), being pricked in spirit as they heard him, sought counsel for their salvation, understanding as they did that they were guilty of the Blood of Christ; because they had crucified, and slain Him, in whose name though slain by them they saw such great miracles wrought; and saw the presence of the Holy Ghost. And so seeking counsel they received for answer; "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and your sins shall be forgiven you." [2606] Who should despair of the forgiveness of his sins, when the crime of killing Christ was forgiven to those who were guilty of it? They were converted from among this people of the Jews; were converted, and baptized. They came to the Lord's table, and in faith drank that Blood, which in their fury they had shed. Now in what sort they were converted, how decidedly, [2607] and how perfectly, the Acts of the Apostles show. "For they sold all that they possessed, and laid the prices of their things at the Apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need; and no man said that ought was his own, but they had all things common." [2608] And, "They were," as it is written, "of one heart and of one soul." Lo here are the sheep of whom He said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." For to them He exhibited His Presence, for them in the midst of their violence against Him He prayed as He was being crucified, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." [2609] The Physician understood how those frenzied men were in their madness putting the Physician to death, and in putting their Physician to death, though they knew it not, were preparing a medicine for themselves. For by the Lord so put to death are all we cured, by His Blood redeemed, by the Bread of His Body delivered from famine. This Presence then did Christ exhibit to the Jews. And so He said, "I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" that to them He might exhibit the Presence of His body; not that He might disregard, and pass over the sheep which He had among the Gentiles.

5. For to the Gentiles He went not Himself, but sent His disciples. And in this was fulfilled what the Prophet said; "A people whom I have not known hath served Me." See how deep, how clear, how express the prophecy is; "a people whom I have not known," that is, to whom I have not exhibited My Presence, "hath served Me." How? It goes on to say, "By the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me:" [2610] that is, they have believed, not by seeing, but by hearing. Therefore have the Gentiles the greater praise. For the others saw and slew Him; the Gentiles heard and believed. Now it was to call and gather together the Gentiles, that that might be fulfilled which we have just now chanted, "Gather us from among the Gentiles, that we may confess to Thy Name, and glory in Thy praise," [2611] that the Apostle Paul was sent. He, the least, made great, not by himself, but by Him whom he once persecuted, was sent to the Gentiles, [2612] from a robber become a shepherd, from a wolf a sheep. He, the least Apostle, was sent to the Gentiles, and laboured much among the Gentiles, and through him the Gentiles believed. His Epistles are the witnesses.

6. Of this you have a very sacred figure in the Gospel also. A daughter of a ruler of the synagogue was really dead, and her father besought the Lord, that He would go to her; he had left her sick, and in extreme danger. [2613] The Lord set out to visit and heal the sick; in the mean time it was announced that she was dead, and it was told the father; "Thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master." But the Lord who knew that He could raise the dead, did not deprive the despairing father of hope, and said to him, "Fear not: only believe." So he set out to the maiden; and in the way a certain woman, who had suffered from an issue of blood, and in her lengthened illness had spent to no purpose all that she had upon physicians, pressed herself in, how she could, amongst the crowds. When she touched the border of His garment, she was made whole. And the Lord said, "Who touched Me?" The disciples who knew not what had taken place, and saw that He was thronged by the multitudes, and that He was troubling Himself about one single woman who had touched Him gently, answered in astonishment, "The multitudes press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me? And He said, Somebody hath touched Me? for the other press, she hath touched. The many [2614] then rudely [2615] press the Body of Christ, few touch it healthfully. "Somebody," saith He, "hath touched Me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she fell down at His feet," and confessed what had taken place. After this He set out again, and arrived whither He was going, and raised to life the young daughter of the ruler of the synagogue who was found to be dead.

7. This was a literal fact, and was fulfilled as it is related; but nevertheless these very things which were done by the Lord had some further signification, being (if we may so say) a sort of visible and significative words. And this is especially plain, in that place where He sought fruit on the tree out of season, and because He found none, dried up the tree by His curse. [2616] Unless this action be regarded as a figure, there is no good meaning in it; first to have sought fruit on that tree when it was not the season for fruit on any tree; and then even if it were now the time of fruit, what fault in the tree was it to have none? But because it signified, that He seeketh not for leaves only, but for fruit also, that is, not for the words only, but for the deeds of men, by drying up that tree whereon he found only leaves, he signified their punishment who can speak good things, but will not do them. And so it is in this place also. For surely there is a mystery in it. He who foreknoweth all things saith, "Who touched Me?" The Creator maketh Himself like one who is ignorant; and He asketh, who not only knew this, but who even foreknew all other things. Doubtless there is something which Christ would speak to us in this significant mystery.

8. That daughter of the ruler of the synagogue was a figure of the people of the Jews, for whose sake Christ had come, who said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman who suffered from the issue of blood, figured the Church from among the Gentiles, to which Christ was not sent in His bodily presence. He was going to the former, He was intent on her recovery; meanwhile the latter runs to meet Him, touches His border as though He knew it not; that is, she is healed by Him who is in some sense absent. He saith, "Who touched Me?" as though He would say; I do not know this people; "A people whom I have not known hath served Me. Some one hath touched Me. For I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me;" that is, that My Gospel hath gone out and filled the whole world. Now it is the border that is touched, a small and outside [2617] part of the garment. Consider the Apostles as it were the garment of Christ. Among them Paul was the border; that is, the last and least. For he said of himself that he was both; "I am the least of the Apostles." [2618] For he was called after them all, he believed after them all, he healed more than they all. The Lord was not sent but "unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But because a "people whom He had not known, was also to serve Him, and to obey Him in the hearing of the ear," He made mention of them too when He was among the others. For the same Lord said in a certain place, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, that there may be one fold and one shepherd." [2619]

9. Of these was this woman; therefore she was not refused, but only put off. "I am not sent," saith He, "but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." And she was instant in her cries: she persevered, she knocked, as if she had already heard, "Ask, and receive; seek, and thou shalt find; knock, and it shall be opened unto thee." She kept on, she knocked. For so the Lord when He spake these words, "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;" [2620] had also said before, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you;" [2621] that is, lest after despising your pearls, they should even ill use you. [2622] Cast not therefore before them what they despise.

10. And how distinguish we (as might be answered) who are "swine," and who are "dogs"? This has been shown in the case of this woman. For He only answered to her entreaties, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." [2623] Thou art a dog, thou art one of the Gentiles, thou worshippest idols. But for dogs what is so proper [2624] as to lick stones? "It is not" therefore "meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." Had she retired after these words, she had gone away as she had come, a dog; but by knocking she was made of a dog one of human kind. [2625] For she persevered in asking, and from that reproach as it were she manifested her humility, and obtained mercy. For she was not excited, nor incensed, because she was called a dog, as she asked the blessing, and prayed for mercy, but she said, "Truth, Lord;" [2626] "Thou hast called me a dog, and truly a dog I am, I acknowledge my name: it is the Truth that speaks: but I ought not on that account to be refused this blessing. Verily I am a dog; `yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.' It is but a moderate and a small blessing I desire; I do not press to the table, I only seek for the crumbs."

11. See, Brethren, how the value of humility is set before us! The Lord had called her a dog; and she did not say, "I am not," but she said, "I am." And because she acknowledged herself to be a dog, immediately the Lord said, "Woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou hast asked." [2627] Thou hast acknowledged thyself to be a dog, I now acknowledge thee to be of human kind. "O woman, great is thy faith;" thou hast asked, and sought, and knocked; receive, find, be it opened unto thee. See, Brethren, how in this woman who was a Canaanite, that is, who came from among the Gentiles, and was a type, that is a figure, of the Church, the grace of humility has been eminently set before us. For the Jewish nation, to the end that it might be deprived of the grace of the Gospel, was puffed up with pride, because to them it had been vouchsafed [2628] to receive the Law, because out of this nation the Patriarchs had proceeded, the Prophets had sprung, Moses, the servant of God, had done the great miracles in Egypt which we have heard of in the Psalm, [2629] had led the people through the Red Sea, when the waters retired, and had received the Law, which he gave to this people. This was that whereupon the Jewish nation was lifted up, and through this very pride it happened that they were not willing to humble themselves to Christ the author of humility, and the restrainer of proud swelling, to God the Physician, who, being God, for this cause became Man, that man might know himself to be but man. O mighty remedy! If this remedy cure not pride, I know not what can cure it. He is God, and is made Man; He lays aside His Divinity, that is, in a manner sequestrates, [2630] hides, that is, what was His Own, and appears only in that He had taken to Him. Being God He is made man: and man will not acknowledge himself to be man, that is, will not acknowledge himself to be mortal, will not acknowledge himself to be frail, will not acknowledge himself to be a sinner, will not acknowledge himself to be sick, that so at least as sick he may seek the physician; but what is more perilous still, he fancies himself in sound health.

12. So then for this reason that people did not come to Him, that is by reason of pride; and the natural branches are said to be broken off from the olive tree, that is from that people founded [2631] by the Patriarchs; in other words, the Jews are for their punishment justly barren through the spirit of pride; and the wild olive is grafted into that olive tree. The wild olive tree is the people of the Gentiles. So says the Apostle, "that the wild olive tree is grafted into the good olive tree, but the natural branches are broken off." [2632] Because of pride they were broken off: and the wild olive tree grafted in because of humility. This humility did the woman show forth when she said, "Truth, Lord," "I am a dog, I desire only the crumbs." In this humility also did the Centurion please Him; who when he desired that his servant might be healed by the Lord, and the Lord said, "I will come and heal him," answered, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof." [2633] He did not receive Him into his house, but he had received Him already in his heart. The more humble, the more capacious, and the more full. For the hills drive back the water, but the valleys are filled by it. And what then, what said the Lord to those who followed Him after that he had said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof"? "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel;" that is, in that people to whom I came, "I have not found so great faith." And whence great? Great from being the least, that is, great from humility. "I have not found so great faith;" like a grain of mustard seed, which by how much smaller it is, by so much the more burning is it. Therefore did the Lord at once graft the wild olive into the good olive tree. He did it then when He said, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."

13. Lastly, mark what follows. "Therefore,"--that is, because "I have not found so great faith in Israel," that is, so great humility with faith,--"Therefore I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." [2634] "Shall sit," that is, "shall rest." For we must not form notions of carnal banquets there, or desire any such thing in that kingdom, as to change not vices for virtues, but only to make an exchange of vices. For it is one thing to desire the kingdom of heaven for the sake of wisdom and life eternal; another, for the sake of earthly felicity, as though there we should have it in more abundant and greater measure. If thou think to be rich in that kingdom, thou dost not cut off, but only changest desire; and yet rich thou wilt really be, and in none other place but there wilt thou be rich; for here thy want gathers together the abundance of things. Why have rich men much? Because they want much. A greater want heaps together as it were greater means; there want itself shall die. Then thou shalt be truly rich, when thou shalt be in want of nothing. For now thou art not surely rich, and an Angel poor, who has not horses, and carriages, and servants. Why? Because he does not want any of these: because in proportion to his greater strength, is his want the less. Therefore there there are riches, and the true riches. Figure not to yourselves then banquets of this earth in that place. For the banquets of this world are daily medicines; they are necessary for a kind of sickness we have, wherewith we are born. This sickness every one is sensible of, when the hour for refreshment is passed. Wouldest thou see how great a sickness this is, that as an acute fever would be fatal in seven days? Do not fancy thyself then to be in health. Immortality will be health. For this present is only one long sickness. Because thou dost support thy disease by daily medicines; thou fanciest thyself in health; take away the medicines, and then see what thou canst do.

14. For from the moment we are born, we must needs be dying. This disease must needs bring us to death. This indeed physicians say when they examine their patients. For instance, "This man has the dropsy, he is dying; this disease cannot be cured. This man has the leprosy: [2635] this disease too cannot be cured. He is in a consumption. Who can cure this? He must needs die, he must perish." See, the physician has now pronounced that he is in a consumption; that he cannot but die; and yet sometimes the dropsical patient does not die of his disease, and the leprous does not die of his, nor the consumptive patient of his; but now it is absolutely necessary that every one who is born should die of this. He dies of it, he cannot do otherwise. This the physician and the unskilled both pronounce upon; and though he die somewhat more slowly, does he on that account not die? Where then is there true health, except where there is true immortality? But if it be true immortality, and no corruption, no wasting, what need will there be there of nourishment? Therefore, when you hear it said, "They shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;" [2636] get not your body, but your soul in order. There shall thou be filled; and this inner [2637] man has its proper food. In relation to it is it said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." [2638] And so truly filled shall they be that they shall hunger no more.

15. Therefore did the Lord graft in at once the wild olive tree, when He said, "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;" that is, they shall be grafted into the good olive tree. For Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are the roots of this olive tree; "but the children of the kingdom," that is, the unbelieving Jews, "shall go away into outer darkness." The "natural branches shall be broken off," that the "wild olive tree may be grafted in." Now why did the natural branches deserve to be cut off, except for pride? why the wild olive tree to be grafted in, except for humility? Whence also that woman said, "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." [2639] And thereupon she hears, "O woman, great is thy faith." [2640] And so again that centurion, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof." [2641] "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." [2642] Let us then learn, or let us hold fast, humility. If we have it not yet, let us learn it; if we have it, let us not lose it. If we have it not yet, let us have it, that we may be grafted in; if we have it already, let us hold it fast, that we may not be cut off.

Footnotes

[2593] Matt. xv. 21 etc. [2594] Dissimulabatur ab ea. [2595] Matt. xv. 23, 24. [2596] Dispensatio. [2597] Dignitas. [2598] 1 Sam. xviii. 29. [2599] 1 Cor. i. 1. [2600] Acts ix. 1, etc. [2601] Deut. xxxii. 39. [2602] Impius. [2603] Commendans. [2604] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [2605] 1 Cor. xv. 6. [2606] Acts ii. 38. [2607] Plan. [2608] Acts iv. 32, etc. [2609] Luke xxiii. 34. [2610] Ps. xvii. 44, 45 (xviii. 43, 44, English version). [2611] Ps. cvi. 47. [2612] Acts ix. 15. [2613] Luke viii. 41, etc. [2614] Serm. xii. (lxii.) 5 (4). [2615] Molesti. [2616] Mark xi. 13, etc. [2617] Extrema. [2618] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [2619] John x. 16. [2620] Matt. vii. 7. [2621] Matt. vii. 6. [2622] Molesti. [2623] Matt. xv. 26. [2624] Familiare. [2625] Homo. [2626] Matt. xv. 27. [2627] Matt. xv. 28. [2628] Meruisset. [2629] Ps. cvi. [2630] Sequestrat. [2631] Creato. [2632] Rom. xi. 17, etc. [2633] Matt. viii. 7, etc. [2634] Matt. viii. 11. [2635] Elephantiosus. [2636] Matt. viii. 11. [2637] Interior venter. [2638] Matt. v. 6. [2639] Matt. xv. 27. [2640] Matt. xv. 28. [2641] Matt. viii. 8. [2642] Matt. viii. 10. .


Sermon XXVIII.

[LXXVIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii. 1, "After six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother," etc.

1. We must now look into and treat of that vision which the Lord showed on the mount. For it is this of which He had said, "Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man in His Kingdom." [2643] Then began the passage which has just been read. "When He had said this, after six days He took three disciples, Peter, and James, and John, and went up into a mountain." [2644] These three were those "some," of whom He had said, "There be some here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man in His kingdom." There is no small difficulty here. For that mount was not the whole extent of His kingdom. [2645] What is a mountain to Him who possesseth the heavens? Which we not only read He doth, but in some sort see it with the eyes of the heart. He calleth that His kingdom, which in many places He calleth the "kingdom of heaven." Now the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of the saints. "For the heavens declare the glory of God." [2646] And of these heavens it is immediately said in the Psalm, "There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world." [2647] Whose words, but of the heavens? And of the Apostles, and all faithful preachers of the word of God. These heavens therefore shall reign together with Him who made the heavens. Now consider what was done, that this might be made manifest.

2. The Lord Jesus Himself shone bright as the sun; His raiment became white as the snow; and Moses and Elias talked with Him. [2648] Jesus Himself indeed shone as the sun, signifying that "He is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." [2649] What this sun is to the eyes of the flesh, that is He to the eyes of the heart; and what that is to the flesh of men, that is He to their hearts. Now His raiment is His Church. For if the raiment be not held together by him who puts it on, it will fall off. Of this raiment, Paul was as it were a sort of last border. For he says himself, "I am the least of the Apostles." [2650] And in another place, "I am the last of the Apostles." Now in a garment the border is the last and least part. Wherefore as that woman which suffered from an issue of blood, when she had touched the Lord's border was made whole, [2651] so the Church which came from out of the Gentiles, was made whole by the preaching of Paul. What wonder if the Church is signified by white raiment, when you hear the Prophet Isaiah saying, "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow"? [2652] Moses and Elias, that is, the Law and the Prophets, what avail they, except they converse with the Lord? Except they give witness to the Lord, who would read the Law or the Prophets? Mark how briefly the Apostle expresses this; "For by the Law is the knowledge of sin; but now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested:" behold the sun; "being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets," [2653] behold the shining of the Sun.

3. Peter sees this, and as a man savouring the things of men says, "Lord, it is good for us to be here." [2654] He had been wearied with the multitude, he had found now the mountain's solitude; there he had Christ the Bread of the soul. What! should he depart thence again to travail and pains, possessed of a holy love to Godward, and thereby of a good conversation? He wished well for himself; and so he added, "If Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." To this the Lord made no answer; but notwithstanding Peter was answered. "For while he yet spake, a bright cloud came, and overshadowed them." [2655] He desired three tabernacles; the heavenly answer showed him that we have One, which human judgment desired to divide. Christ, the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word in the Prophets. Why, Peter, dost thou seek to divide them? It were more fitting for thee to join them. Thou seekest three; understand that they are but One.

4. As the cloud then overshadowed them, and in a way made one tabernacle for them, "a voice also sounded out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son." Moses was there; Elias was there; yet it was not said, "These are My beloved sons." For the Only Son is one thing; adopted sons another. He was singled out [2656] in whom the Law and the prophets glorified. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him!" Because ye have heard Him in the Prophets, and ye have heard Him in the Law. And where have ye not heard Him? "When they heard this, they fell" to the earth. See then in the Church is exhibited to us the Kingdom of God. Here is the Lord, here the Law and the Prophets; but the Lord as the Lord; the Law in Moses, Prophecy in Elias; only they as servants and as ministers. They as vessels: He as the fountain: Moses and the Prophets spake, and wrote; but when they poured out, they were filled from Him.

5. But the Lord stretched out His hand, and raised them as they lay. And then "they saw no man, save Jesus only." [2657] What does this mean? When the Apostle was being read, you heard, "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face." [2658] And "tongues shall cease," when that which we now hope for and believe shall come. In then that they fell to the earth, they signified that we die, for it was said to the flesh, "Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return." [2659] But when the Lord raised them up, He signified the resurrection. After the resurrection, what is the Law to thee? what Prophecy? Therefore neither Moses nor Elias is seen. He only remaineth to thee, "Who in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [2660] He remaineth to thee, "that God may be all in all." Moses will be there; but now no more the Law. We shall see Elias there too; but now no more the Prophet. For the Law and the Prophets have only given witness to Christ, that it behoved Him to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day, and to enter into His glory. And in this glory is fulfilled what He hath promised to them that love Him, "He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him." [2661] And as if it were said, What wilt Thou give him, seeing Thou wilt love him? "And I will manifest Myself unto him." Great gift! great promise! God doth not reserve for thee as a reward anything of His own, but Himself. O thou covetous one; why doth not what Christ promiseth suffice thee? Thou dost seem to thyself to be rich; yet if thou have not God, what hast thou? Another is poor, yet if he hath God, what hath he not?

6. Come down, Peter: thou wast desiring to rest on the mount; come down, "preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." [2662] Endure, labour hard, bear thy measure of torture; that thou mayest possess what is meant by the white raiment of the Lord, through the brightness and the beauty of an upright labouring in charity. For when the Apostle was being read we heard in praise of charity, "She seeketh not her own. [2663] She seeketh not her own;" since she gives what she possesses. In another place there is more danger in the expression, if you do not understand it right. For the Apostle, charging the faithful members of Christ after this rule of charity, says, "Let no man seek his own, but another's." [2664] For on hearing this, covetousness is ready with its deceits, that in a matter of business under pretence of seeking another's, it may defraud a man, and so, "seek not his own, but another's." But let covetousness restrain itself, let justice come forth; so let us hear and understand. It is to charity that it is said, "Let no man seek his own, but another's." Now, O thou covetous one, if thou wilt still resist, and twist the precept rather to this point, that thou shouldest covet what is another's; then lose what is thine own. But as I know thee well, thou dost wish to have both thine own and another's. Thou wilt commit fraud that thou mayest have what is another's; submit then to robbery that thou mayest lose thine own. Thou dost not wish to seek thine own, but then thou takest away what is another's. Now this if thou do, thou doest not well. Hear and listen, thou covetous one: the Apostle explains to thee in another place more clearly this that he said, "Let no man seek his own, but another's." He says of himself, "Not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." [2665] This Peter understood not yet when he desired to live on the mount with Christ. He was reserving this for thee, Peter, after death. But now He saith Himself, "Come down, to labour in the earth; in the earth to serve, to be despised, and crucified in the earth. The Life came down, that He might be slain; the Bread came down, that He might hunger; the Way came down, that life might be wearied in the way; the Fountain came down, that He might thirst; and dost thou refuse to labour? `Seek not thine own.' Have charity, preach the truth; so shall thou come to eternity, where thou shalt find security."

Footnotes

[2643] Matt. xvi. 28. [2644] Matt. xvii. 1; Luke ix. 28. [2645] Reguum comprehensum. [2646] Ps. xix. 1. [2647] Ps. xix. 3, 4. [2648] Matt. xvii. 2, 3. [2649] John i. 9. [2650] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [2651] Mark v. 34. [2652] Isa. i. 18. [2653] Rom. iii. 20, 21. [2654] Matt. xvii. 4. [2655] Matt. xvii. 5. [2656] Commendabatur. [2657] Matt. xvii. 7, 8. [2658] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [2659] Gen. iii. 19, Sept. [2660] John i. 1. [2661] John xiv. 21. [2662] 2 Tim. iv. 2. [2663] 1 Cor. xiii. 5. [2664] 1 Cor. x. 24. [2665] 1 Cor. x. 33. .


Sermon XXIX.

[LXXIX. Ben.]

Again on the words of the Gospel, Matt. xvii., where Jesus showed Himself on the mount to His three disciples.

1. We heard when the Holy Gospel was being read of the great vision on the mount, in which Jesus showed Himself to the three disciples, Peter, James, and John. "His face did shine as the sun:" this is a figure of the shining of the Gospel. "His raiment was white as the snow:" [2666] this is a figure of the purity of the Church, to which it was said by the Prophet, "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow." [2667] Elias and Moses were talking with Him; because the grace of the Gospel receives witness from the Law and the Prophets. The Law is represented in Moses, the Prophets in Elias; to speak briefly. For there are the mercies of God vouchsafed through a holy Martyr to be rehearsed. Let us give ear. Peter desired three tabernacles to be made, one for Moses, one for Elias, and one for Christ. The solitude of the mountain had charms for him; he had been wearied with the tumult of the world's business. But why sought he three tabernacles, but because he knew not as yet the unity of the Law, and of Prophecy, and of the Gospel? Lastly, he was corrected by the cloud, "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them." Lo, the cloud hath made one tabernacle; wherefore didst thou seek for three? "And a voice came out of the cloud, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him." [2668] Elias speaketh; but "hear Him;" "Moses speaketh; but "hear Him." The Prophets speak, the Law speaketh; but "hear Him," who is the voice of the Law, and the tongue of the Prophets. He spake in them, and when He vouchsafed so to do, He appeared in His own person. "Hear ye Him:" let us then hear Him. When the Gospel spake, think it was the cloud: from thence hath the voice sounded out to us. Let us hear Him; that is, let us do what He saith, let us hope for what He hath promised.

Footnotes

[2666] Matt. xvii. 2. [2667] Isa. i. 18. [2668] Matt. xvii. 5.


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