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 LX.

[CX. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xiii. 6, where we are told of the fig-tree, which bare no fruit for three years; and of the woman which was in an infirmity eighteen years; and on the words of the ninth Psalm, v. 19, "Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the nations be judged in thy sight."

1. Touching "the fig-tree" which had its three years' trial, and bare no fruit, and "the woman which was in an infirmity eighteen years," hearken to what the Lord may grant me to say. The fig-tree is the human race. And the three years are the three times; one before the Law, the second under the Law, the third under grace. Now there is nothing unsuitable in understanding by "the fig-tree" the human race. For when the first man sinned, he covered his nakedness with fig-leaves; [3442] covered those members, from which we derive our birth. For what before his sin should have been his glory, after sin became his shame. So before that, "they were naked, and were not ashamed." [3443] For they had no reason to blush, when no sin had gone before; nor could they blush for their Creator's works, because they had not yet mingled any evil work of their own with the good works of their Creator. For they had not yet eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, of which they had been forbidden to eat. After then that they had eaten and sinned, the human race sprang from them; that is, man from man, debtor from debtor, mortal from mortal, sinner from sinner. In this "tree" then he entitles those, who through the whole range of time would not bear fruit; and for this cause the axe was hanging over the unfruitful tree. The gardener intercedes for it, punishment is deferred, that help may be administered. Now the gardener who intercedes, is every saint who within the Church prays for those who are without the Church. And what does he pray? "Lord, let it alone this year also;" that is, in this time of grace, spare the sinners, spare the unbelievers, spare the barren, spare the unfruitful. "I will dig about it, and put a basket of dung about it; if it bear fruit, well; but if not, thou shalt come and cut it down." [3444] "Thou shalt come:" When? Thou shalt come in judgment, when Thou shalt come to judge the quick and dead. Meanwhile they are spared. But what is the "digging"? What is the "digging about it," but the teaching lowliness and repentance? For a ditch is low ground. The basket of dung understand in its good effects. It is filthy, but it produces fruit. The gardener's filth is the sinner's sorrows. They who repent, repent in filthy robes; if, that is, they understand aright, and repent in truth. To this tree then is it said, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [3445]

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2. What is that "woman who was in an infirmity eighteen years"? In six days God finished His works. Three times six are eighteen. What the "three years" then in "the tree" signified, that do the "eighteen years" in this woman. She was bent down, she could not look up; because in vain did she hear, "Up with your hearts." But the Lord made her straight. There is hope then, for the children, that is, even until the day of judgment come. Man ascribes much to himself. Yet what is man? A righteous man is something great. But yet a righteous man is righteous only by the grace of God. "For what is man, save that thou art mindful of him?" [3446] Wouldest thou see what man is? "All men are liars." [3447] We have chanted, "Arise, Lord; let not man prevail." [3448] What is, "let not man prevail"? Were not the Apostles men? Were not Martyrs men? The Lord Jesus Himself, without ceasing to be God, vouchsafed to be Man. What then is, "Arise, Lord; let not man prevail"? If "all men are liars; arise," Truth, "let not" falsehood "prevail." If man then would be anything good, it must not be of anything of his own. For if he should wish to be anything of his own he will be "a liar." If he would wish to be true, he must be so of that which is from God, not of anything of his own.

3. Therefore, "Arise, Lord; let not man prevail." So much did lying prevail before the flood, that after the flood only eight men remained. [3449] By them the earth was again replenished with lying men, and out of them was elected the people of God. Many miracles were wrought, divine benefits imparted. They were brought right through to the land of promise, delivered from Egyptian bondage: Prophets were raised up among them, they received the temple, they received the priesthood, they received the anointing, they received the Law. Yet of this very people was it said afterwards, "The strange children have lied unto me." [3450] At last He was sent who had been promised afore by the Prophets. "Let not man prevail," even the more, because that God was made Man. But even He, though He did divine works, was despised, though He showed forth so many acts of mercy, He was apprehended, He was scourged, He was hanged. Thus far "did man prevail," to apprehend the Son of God, to scourge the Son of God, to crown the Son of God with thorns, to hang the Son of God upon the tree. So far "did man prevail:" how far, but up to the time that having been taken down from the tree, He was laid in the sepulchre? If He had remained there, man would have "prevailed" indeed. But this prophecy addresses the very Lord Jesus Himself, saying, "Arise, Lord, let not man prevail." O Lord, Thou hast vouchsafed to come in the flesh, the Word made Flesh. The Word above us, the Flesh among us, the Word-flesh [3451] between God and Man: Thou didst choose a virgin to be born from according to the flesh, when Thou wast to be conceived, Thou didst find a Virgin; when Thou wast born, Thou didst leave a Virgin. But Thou wast not acknowledged; Thou wast Seen, and yet wast hidden. Infirmity was seen, Power was hidden. All this was done, that Thou mightest shed that Blood, which is our Price. Thou didst so great miracles, didst give health to the weaknesses of the sick, didst show forth many acts of mercy, and receivedst evil for good. They mocked Thee, Thou didst hang upon the tree; the ungodly wagged their heads before Thee, and said, "If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." [3452] Hadst Thou then lost Thy power, or rather wast Thou showing forth Thy Patience? and yet they mocked Thee, and yet they derided Thee, yet, when Thou wast slain, they went away as if victorious. Lo, Thou art laid in the sepulchre: "Arise, Lord, let not man prevail." "Let not" the ungodly enemy "prevail, let not" the blind Jew "prevail." For when Thou wert crucified, the Jew in his blindness seemed to himself to have "prevailed." "Arise, Lord, let not man prevail." It is done, yea, it is done. And now what remains, but that "the nations be judged in thy sight"? For He hath risen again, as ye know, and ascended into heaven; and from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

4. Ah! unfruitful tree, mock not, because thou art yet spared; the axe is delayed, be not [3453] thou secure; He will come and thou shalt be cut down. Believe that He will come. All these things which now ye see, once were not. Once the Christian people were not over the whole world. It was read of in prophecy, not seen in the earth; now it is both read and seen. Thus was the Church herself completed. It was not said to her, "See, O daughter, and hear;" but, "Hear and see." [3454] Hear the predictions, see the completions. As then, my beloved Brethren, Christ had once not been born of a Virgin, but His birth was promised, and He was born; He had once not done His miracles, they were promised, and He did them: He had not yet suffered, it was promised, and so it came to pass: He had not risen again, it was foretold, and so fulfilled: His Name was not throughout the world, it was foretold, and so fulfilled: the idols were not destroyed and broken down, it was foretold, and so fulfilled: heretics had not assailed the Church, it was foretold, and so fulfilled. So also the Day of Judgment is not yet, but seeing it hath been foretold, it shall be fulfilled. Can it be that He who in so many things hath shown Himself true, should be false touching the Day of Judgment? He hath given us a bond [3455] of His promises. For God hath made Himself a debtor, not by owing ought, that is, not by borrowing; but by promising. We cannot therefore say to Him, "Give back what Thou hast received." Since "who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" [3456] We cannot say to Him, "Give what Thou hast received;" but we say without [3457] scruple, "Give what Thou hast promised."

5. For hence it is that we are bold to say, day by day, "Thy kingdom come;" [3458] that when His kingdom comes, we too may reign with Him. Which hath been promised to us in these words; "Then will I say unto them, Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world." [3459] But assuredly only if we shall have done what follows in that place. "For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat," etc. He made these promises to our fathers; but He hath given us a security, [3460] for us too to read. If He who hath vouchsafed to give us this security, were to make a reckoning with us and say, "Read my debts, the debts, that is, of my promises, and reckon up what I have already paid, and reckon also what I still owe; see how many I have paid already; and what I owe is but little; will ye for that little that remains, think Me an untrustworthy promiser?" What should we have to answer against this most evident truth? Let him then who is barren repent, and bear "fruit worthy of repentance." He that is bent down, who looks only on the earth, rejoices in earthly happiness, who thinks this the only happy life, where he may be happy, and who believes no other can be; whosoever he be that is so bent down, let him be made straight; if he cannot by himself, let him call upon God. For was that woman made straight by herself? Woe had it been for her, if He had not stretched out His Hand.

Footnotes

[3442] Gen. iii. 7. [3443] Gen. ii. 25. [3444] Luke xiii. 8, 9. [3445] Matt. iii. 2. [3446] Ps. viii. 4. [3447] Ps. cxvi. 11. [3448] Ps. ix. 19. [3449] 1 Pet. iii. 20. [3450] Ps. xvii. 45, Sept. (cxliv. 11). [3451] Conf. B. x. 67-70 (42, 43). [3452] Matt. xxvii. 40. [3453] A paranomasia not to be preserved in the original, dilata est securis, noli esse secura. [3454] Ps. xliv. 11, Sept. (xlv. 10, English version). [3455] Chirographum. [3456] Rom. xi. 35. [3457] Planè. [3458] Matt. vi. 10. [3459] Matt. xxv. 34. [3460] Cautionem. .


Sermon LXI.

[CXI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xiii. 21 and 23, where the kingdom of God is said to be "like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal;" and of that which is written in the same chapter, "Lord, are they few that are saved?"

1. "The three measures of meal" [3461] of which the Lord spake, is the human race. Recollect the deluge; three only remained, from whom the rest were to be re-peopled. Noe had three sons, by them was repaired the human race. That holy "woman who hid the leaven," is Wisdom. Lo, the whole world crieth out in the Church of God, "I know that the Lord is great." [3462] Yet doubtless there are but few who are saved. Ye remember a question which was lately set before us out of the Gospel, "Lord," it was said, "are there few that be saved?" [3463] What said the Lord to this? He did not say, "Not few, but many are they who are saved." He did not say this. But what said He, when He had heard, "Are there few that be saved? Strive to enter by the strait gate." [3464] When thou hearest then, "Are there few that be saved?" the Lord confirmed what He heard. Through the "strait gate" but "few" can "enter." In another place He saith Himself, "Strait and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that go thereby: but broad and spacious is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which walk thereby." [3465] Why rejoice we in great numbers? Give ear to me, ye "few." I know that ye are "many," who hear me, yet but "few" of you hear to obey. I see the floor, I look for the corn. And hardly is the corn seen, when the floor is being threshed; but the time is coming, that it shall be winnowed. But few then are saved in comparison of the many that shall perish. For these same "few" will constitute in themselves a great mass. When the Winnower shall come with His fan in His Hand, "He will cleanse His floor, and lay up the wheat into the garner; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire." [3466] Let not the chaff scoff at the wheat; in this He speaketh truth, and deceiveth no one. Be ye then in yourselves among many a many, few though ye be in comparison of a certain many. So large a mass is to come out of this floor, as to fill the garner of heaven. For the Lord Christ would not contradict Himself, who hath said, "Many there are who enter in by the narrow gate, many who go to ruin through the wide gate;" contradict Himself, who hath in another place said, "Many shall come from the East and West." [3467] "Many" then are the "few;" both "few" and "many." Are the "few" one sort, and the "many" another? No. But the "few" are themselves the "many;" "few" in comparison of the lost, "many in the society of the Angels. Hearken, dearly Beloved. The Apocalypse hath this written; "After this I beheld of all languages, and nations, and tribes, a great multitude, which no man can number, coming with white robes and palms." [3468] This is the mass of the saints. With how much clearer voice will the floor say, when it has been fanned, separated from the crowd of ungodly, and evil, and false Christians, when those who "press" and do not "touch" (for a certain woman in the Gospel "touched," the crowd "pressed" Christ), shall have been severed unto everlasting fire; when all they then, who are to be damned shall have been separated off, with how great assurance will the purified mass, standing at the Right Hand, fearing now for itself the admixture of no evil men, nor the loss of any of the good, now about to reign with Christ, say, "I know that the Lord is great"! [3469]

2. If then, my Brethren (I am speaking to the corn), if they acknowledge what I say, predestined unto life eternal, let them speak by their works, not by their voices. I am constrained to speak to you, what I ought not. For I ought to find in you matter of praise, not to seek subjects for admonition. Yet see I will say but a few words, I will not dwell upon it. Acknowledge the duty of hospitality, thereby some have attained unto God. Thou takest in some stranger, whose companion in the way thou thyself also art; for strangers are we all. He is a Christian who, even in his own house and in his own country, acknowledges himself to be a stranger. For our country is above, there we shall not be strangers. For every one here below, even in his own house, is a stranger. If he be not a stranger, let him not pass on from hence. If pass on he must, he is a stranger. Let him not deceive himself, a stranger he is; whether he will or not, he is a stranger. And he leaves that house to his children, one stranger to other strangers. Why? If thou wert at an inn, wouldest thou not depart when another comes? The same thou doest even in thine own house. Thy father left a place to thee, thou wilt some day leave it to thy children. Neither dost thou abide here, as one who is to abide always, nor to those who are so to abide, wilt thou leave it. If we are all passing away, let us do something which cannot pass away, that when we shall have passed away, and have come thither whence we may not pass away, we may find our good works there. Christ is the keeper, why dost thou fear lest thou shouldest lose what thou spendest on the poor? "Let us turn to the Lord," etc.

And after the Sermon.

I suggest to you, Beloved, what ye know already. To-morrow breaks the anniversary day of the venerable [3470] lord Aurelius' ordination; he asks and admonishes you, dear Brethren, by my humble ministry, that ye would be so good [3471] as to meet together with all devotion at the basilica of Faustus. Thanks be to God.

Footnotes

[3461] Luke xiii. 21. [3462] Ps. cxxxv. 5. [3463] Luke xiii. 23. [3464] Luke xiii. 24. [3465] Matt. vii. 13, 14. [3466] Luke iii. 17. [3467] Matt. viii. 11. [3468] Rev. vii. 9. [3469] Ps. cxxxv. 5. [3470] Senis. [3471] Dignemini. .


Sermon LXII.

[XCII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xiv. 16, "A certain man made a great supper," etc.

Delivered in the basilica Restituta. [3472]

1. Holy lessons have been set forth before us, to which we should both give ear, and upon which by the Lord's help I would deliver some observations. In the Apostolic lesson thanks are rendered unto the Lord for the faith of the Gentiles, of course, because it was His work. In the Psalm we have said, "O God of hosts, turn us, and show us Thy Face, and we shall be saved." [3473] In the Gospel we have been called to a supper; yea, rather others have been called, we not called, but led; not only led, but even forced. For so have we heard, that "a certain Man made a great supper." [3474] Who is this Man, but "the Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"? [3475] He sent that those who had been invited might come, for the hour was now come, that they should come. Who are they who had been invited, but those who had been called by the Prophets who were sent before? When? Of old, ever since the Prophets were sent, they invited to Christ's supper. They were sent then to the people of Israel. Often were they sent, often did they call men, to come at the hour of supper. But they received those who invited them, refused the supper. What means "they received those who invited them, refused the supper"? They read the Prophets and killed Christ. But when they killed Him, then though they knew it not, they prepared a Supper for us. When the Supper was now prepared, when Christ had been offered up, when the Supper of the Lord, which the faithful know, had been set forth after the resurrection of Christ, and established by His Hands and Mouth, were the Apostles sent to them, to whom the Prophets had been sent before. "Come ye to the supper."

2. They who would not come made excuses. And how did they excuse themselves? There were three excuses: "One said, I have bought a farm, [3476] and I go to see it; have me excused. Another said, I have bought five pairs of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. A third said, I have married a wife, have me excused; I cannot come." [3477] Do we suppose that these are not the excuses, which hinder all men, who decline to come to this supper? Let us look into them, discuss, find them out; but only that we may beware. In the purchase of the farm, the spirit of domination is marked out; therefore pride is rebuked. For men are delighted to have a farm, to hold, to possess it, to have men in it under them, to have dominion. An evil vice, the first vice. For the first man wished to have dominion, in that he would not that any should have dominion over him. What is to have dominion, but to take pleasure in one's own power? There is a greater power, let us submit ourselves to it, that we may be able to be safe. "I have bought a farm, have me excused." Having discovered pride, he would not come.

3. "Another said, I have bought five pairs of oxen." Would it not have been enough, "I have bought oxen"? Something beyond doubt there is, which by its very obscurity challenges us to seek out, and understand; and in that it is shut, He exhorteth us to knock. The five pairs of oxen are the senses of this body. There are numbered five senses of this body, as is known to all; and they who, it may be, do not consider it, will doubtless perceive it on being reminded of it. There are then found to be five senses of this body. In the eyes is the sight, the hearing in the ears, the smell in the nose, the taste in the mouth, the touch in all the members. We have perception of white and black, and things coloured in whatever way, light and dark, by the sight. Harsh and musical sounds, we have perception of by the hearing. Of sweet and offensive smells, we have perception by the smell. Of things sweet and bitter by the taste. Of things hard and soft, smooth and rough, warm and cold, heavy and light, by the touch. They are five, and they are pairs. Now that they are pairs, is seen most easily in the case of the three first senses. There are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils; see three pairs. In the mouth, that is in the sense of taste, a certain doubling is found, because nothing affects the taste, unless it is touched by the tongue and the palate. The pleasure of the flesh which pertains to the touch, has this doubling in a less obvious way. For there is both an outer and an inner touch. And so it too is double. Why are they called pairs of oxen? Because by these senses of the body, earthly things are sought for. For oxen turn up the earth. So there are men far off from faith, given up to earthly things, occupied in the things of the flesh; who will not believe anything but what they attain to by the five senses of their body. In those five senses do they lay down for themselves the rules of their whole will. "I will not believe," says one, "anything but what I see. See, here is what I know, and am sure of. Such a thing is white, or black, or round, or square, or coloured so and so; this I know, am sensible of, have a hold of; nature itself teaches it me. I am not forced to believe what you cannot show me. Or it is a voice: I perceive that it is a voice; it sings well, it sings ill, it is sweet, it is harsh. I know, I know this, it has come to me. There is a good or a bad smell: I know, I perceive it. This is sweet, this is bitter; this is salt, this insipid. I know not what you would tell me more. By the touch I know what is hard, what is soft; what is smooth, what is rough; what is warm, and what cold. What more would you show me?"

4. By such an impediment was our Apostle Thomas held back, who as to the Lord Christ, the resurrection that is of Christ, would not believe even his own eyes only. "Unless," says he, "I put my fingers into the places of the nails and wounds, and unless I put my hand into His side, I will not believe." [3478] And the Lord who could have risen again without any vestige of a wound, kept the scars, that they might be touched by the doubting Apostle, and the wounds of his heart be healed. And yet as designing to call to His supper others, against the excuse of "the five pairs of oxen," He said, "Blessed they who do not see, and believe." [3479] We, my Brethren, who have been called to this supper, have not been kept back by "these five pairs." For we have not in this age desired to see the Face of the Lord's Body, nor have we longed to hear the Voice proceeding out of the mouth of that Body; we have not sought in Him for any passing [3480] odour. A certain "woman anointed Him with most costly ointment," that "house was filled with the odour;" [3481] but we were not there; lo, we did not smell, yet we believe. He gave to the disciples the Supper consecrated by His Own Hands; but we did not sit down at that Feast, and yet we daily eat this same Supper by faith. And do not think it strange that in that supper which He gave with His Own Hand, one was present without faith: the faith that appeared, afterwards was more than a compensation for that faithlessness then. Paul was not there who believed, Judas was there who betrayed. How many now too in this same Supper, though they saw not then that table, nor beheld with their eyes, nor tasted with their mouths, the bread which the Lord took in His Hands, yet because it is the same as is now prepared, how many now also in this same Supper, "eat and drink judgment to themselves"? [3482]

5. But whence arose an occasion, so to say, to the Lord, to speak of this supper? One of them that sat at meat with Him (for He was at a feast, whither He had been invited), had said, "Blessed are they who eat bread in the kingdom of God." [3483] He sighed as though after distant things, and the Bread Himself was sitting down before him. Who is the Bread of the kingdom of God, but He who saith, "I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven"? [3484] Do not get thy mouth ready, but thine heart. On this occasion it was that the parable of this supper was set forth. Lo, we believe in Christ, we receive Him with faith. In receiving Him we know what to think of. We receive but little, and we are nourished in heart. It is not then what is seen, but what is believed, that feeds us. Therefore we too have not sought for that outward sense; nor have we said, "Let them believe who have seen with their eyes, and handled with their hands the Lord Himself after His resurrection, if what is said be true; we do not touch Him, why should we believe?" If we were to entertain such thoughts, we should be kept back from the supper by those "five pairs of oxen." That ye may know, Brethren, that not the gratification of these five senses, which softens and ministers pleasure, but a kind of curiosity was denoted, He did not say, "`I have bought five pairs of oxen,' and I go to feed them;" but, "I go to prove them." He who wishes to "prove" by "the pairs of oxen," does not wish to be in doubt, just as St. Thomas by these "pairs" did not wish to be in doubt. "Let me see, let me touch, let me put in my fingers." "`Behold,' saith the Lord, `put in thy fingers along My Side, and be not unbelieving.' [3485] For thy sake have I been slain; at the place which thou wishest to touch, have I shed My Blood, that I might redeem thee; and dost thou still doubt of Me, unless thou touch Me? Behold, this too I grant; behold, this too I show thee; touch, and believe; find out the place of My wound, heal the wound of thy doubting."

6. "The third said, I have married a wife." This is the pleasure of the flesh, which is a hindrance to many: and I would that it were so only without, and not within! There are men who say, "There is no happiness for a man, if he have not the pleasures of the flesh." These are they whom the Apostle censures, saying, "`Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.' [3486] Who hath risen to this life from the other? Who hath ever told us what goes on there? We take away with us, what in the time present makes our happiness." He that speaks thus, "has married a wife," attaches himself to the flesh, places his delight in the pleasures of the flesh, excuses himself from the supper; let him look well to it that he die not by an inward famine. Attend to John, the holy Apostle and Evangelist; "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." [3487] O ye who come to the Supper of the Lord, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." He did not say, "Have not;" but, "Love not." Thou hast had, possessed, loved. The love of earthly things, is the bird-lime of the spirit's wings. Lo, thou hast desired, thou hast stuck fast. "Who will give thee wings as of a dove?" [3488] When wilt thou fly, whither thou mayest in deed, seeing thou hast perversely wished to rest here, where thou hast to thy hurt stuck fast? "Love not the world," is the divine trumpet. By the voice of this trumpet unceasingly is it proclaimed to the compass of the earth, and to the whole world, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Whosoever loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of life." [3489] He begins at the last with which the Gospel ends. He begins at that, at which the Gospel made an end. "The lust of the flesh, I have married a wife. The lust of the eyes, I have bought five pairs of oxen. The ambition of life, I have bought a farm."

7. Now these senses are denoted by the mention of the eyes only, the whole by a part, because the pre-eminence in the five senses belongs to the eyes. Wherefore though sight belongs peculiarly to the eyes, we are accustomed to use the word "seeing" through all the five senses. How? In the first place, in relation to the eyes themselves we say; "See how white it is, look and see how white it is:" this has relation to the eyes. Hear and see how musical it is! Could we say conversely, "Hear and see how white it is"? This expression, "see," runs through all the senses; whereas the distinguishing expression [3490] of the other senses does not in its turn run through it. "Mark and see how musical; smell and see how agreeable it is; taste and see how sweet it is; touch and see how soft it is." And yet surely since they are senses, we should rather say thus; "Hear and be sensible how musical it is; smell and be sensible how agreeable it is; taste and be sensible how sweet it is; touch and be sensible how hot it is; handle and be sensible how smooth it is; handle and be sensible how soft it is." But we say none of these. For thus the Lord Himself after His resurrection when He appeared to His disciples, and when though they saw Him they still wavered in faith supposing that they saw a spirit, said, "Why do ye doubt, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My Hands and My Feet." It is not enough to say, "See;" He saith, "Touch, and handle, and see." [3491] "Look and see, handle and see; with the eyes alone see, and see by all the senses." Because He was looking for the inner sense of faith, He offered Himself to the outward senses of the body. We have made no attainment [3492] in the Lord by these outward senses, we have heard with our ears, have believed with our heart; and this hearing not from His mouth, but from the mouth of His preachers, from their mouths who were already at the supper, and who by the pouring forth of what they there drunk in invited us.

8. Let us away then with vain and evil excuses, and come we to the supper by which we may be made fat within. Let not the puffing up of pride keep us back, let it not lift us up, nor unlawful curiosity scare us, and turn us away from God; let not the pleasure of the flesh hinder us from the pleasure of the heart. Let us come, and be filled. And who came but the beggars, the "maimed," the "halt," the "blind"? But there came not thither the rich, and the whole, who walked, as they thought, well, and saw acutely; who had great confidence in themselves, and were therefore in the more desperate case, in proportion as they were more proud. Let the beggars come, for He inviteth them, "who, though He was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we beggars through His poverty might be enriched." [3493] Let the maimed come, "for they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are in evil case." [3494] Let the halt come who may say to Him, "Set in order my steps in Thy paths." [3495] Let the blind come who may say, "Enlighten mine eyes, that I may never sleep in death." [3496] Such as these came at the hour, when those who had been first invited, had been rejected for their own excuses: they came at the hour, they entered in from the streets and lanes of the city. And the servant "who had been sent," brought answer, "Lord, it is done as Thou hast commanded, and yet there is room." "Go out," saith He, "into the highways and hedges, and compel those whom thou shalt find to come in." [3497] Whom thou shalt find wait not till they choose to come, compel them to come in. I have prepared a great supper, a great house, I cannot suffer any place to be vacant in it. The Gentiles came from the streets and lanes: let the heretics come from the hedges, here they shall find peace. For those who make hedges, their object is to make divisions. Let them be drawn away from the hedges, let them be plucked up from among the thorns. They have stuck fast in the hedges, they are unwilling to be compelled. [3498] Let us come in, they say, of our own good will. This is not the Lord's order, "Compel them," saith he, "to come in." Let compulsion be found outside, the will arise within.

Footnotes

[3472] See Serm. xl. (xc. Ben.). [3473] Ps. lxxx. 7. [3474] Luke xiv. 16. [3475] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [3476] Villam, Vulgate. [3477] Luke xiv. 18-20. [3478] John xx. 25. [3479] John xx. 29. [3480] Temporalem. [3481] John xii. 3. [3482] 1 Cor. xi. 29. [3483] Luke xiv. 15. [3484] John vi. 51. [3485] John xx. 27. [3486] 1 Cor. xv. 32. [3487] 1 John ii. 15. [3488] Ps. liv. 7, Sept. (lv. 6, English version). [3489] 1 John ii. 15, 16, Vulgate. [3490] Proprietas. [3491] Luke xxiv. 38, 39. [3492] Carpsimus. [3493] 2 Cor. viii. 9. [3494] Matt. ix. 12, Vulgate. [3495] Ps. xvii. 5. [3496] Ps. xiii. 3. [3497] Luke xiv. 22, 23. [3498] This alludes to the laws made against the Donatists by the Christian Emperors. See St. Augustin's Epis. 195, and especially § 24. .


Sermon LXIII.

[CXIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xvi. 9, "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness," etc.

1. Our duty is to give to others the admonitions we have received ourselves. The recent lesson of the Gospel has admonished us to make friends of the mammon of iniquity, that they too may "receive" those who do so "into everlasting habitations." But who are they that shall have everlasting habitations, but the Saints of God? And who are they who are to be received by them into everlasting habitations, but they who serve their need, and minister cheerfully to their necessities? Accordingly let us remember, that in the last judgment the Lord will say to those who shall stand on His right hand, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat;" and the rest which ye know. And upon their enquiring when they had afforded these good offices to Him, He answered, "When ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it unto Me." [3499] These least are they who receive into everlasting habitations. This He said to them on the right hand, because they did so: and the contrary He said to them on the left, because they would not. But what have they on the right hand who did so, received, or rather, what are they to receive? "Come," says He, "ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat. When ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it unto Me." [3500] Who then are these least ones of Christ? They are those who have left all they had, and followed Him, and have distributed whatever they had to the poor; that unencumbered and without any worldly fetter they might serve God, and might lift their shoulders free from the burdens of the world, and winged as it were aloft. These are the least. And why the least? Because lowly, because not puffed up, not proud. Yet weigh them in the scales, these least ones, and thou wilt find them a heavy weight.

2. But what means it, that He says they are "friends of the mammon of iniquity"? What is "the mammon of iniquity"? First, what is "mammon"? For it is not a Latin word. It is a Hebrew word, and cognate to the Punic language. For these languages are allied to one another by a kind of nearness of signification. What the Punics call mammon, is called in Latin, "lucre." [3501] What the Hebrews call mammon, is called in Latin, "riches." That we may express the whole then in Latin, our Lord Jesus Christ says this, "Make to yourselves friends of the riches of iniquity." Some, by a bad understanding of this, plunder the goods of others, and bestow some of that upon the poor, and so think that they do what is enjoined them. For they say, "To plunder the goods of others, is the mammon of iniquity; to spend some of it, especially on the poor saints, this is to make friends with the mammon of iniquity. This understanding of it must be corrected, yea, must be utterly effaced from the tablets of your heart. I would not that ye should so understand it. Give alms of your righteous labours: give out of that which ye possess rightfully. For ye cannot corrupt Christ your Judge, that He should not hear you together with the poor, from whom ye take away. For if thou wert to despoil any one who was weak, thyself being stronger and of greater power, and he were to come with thee to the judge, any man you please on this earth, who had any power of judging, and he were to wish to plead his cause with thee; if thou wert to give anything of the spoil and plunder of that poor man to the judge, that he might pronounce judgment in thy favour; would that judge please even thee? True, he has pronounced judgment in thy favour, and yet so great is the force of justice, that he would displease even thee. Do not then represent God to thyself as such an one as this. Do not set up such an idol in the temple of thine heart. Thy God is not such as thou oughtest not to be thyself. If thou wouldest not judge so, but wouldest judge justly; even so thy God is better than thou: He is not inferior to thee: He is more just, He is the fountain of justice. Whatsoever good thou hast done, thou hast gotten from Him; and whatsoever good thou hast given vent to, [3502] thou hast drunk in from Him. Dost thou praise the vessel, because it hath something from Him, and blame the fountain? Do not give alms out of usury and increase. I am speaking to the faithful, am speaking to those to whom we distribute the body of Christ. Be in fear and amend yourselves: that I may not have hereafter to say, Thou doest so, and thou too doest so. Yet I trow, that if I should do so, ye ought not to be angry with me, but with yourselves, that ye may amend yourselves. For this is the meaning of the expression in the Psalm, "Be ye angry, and sin not." [3503] I would have you be angry, but only that ye may not sin. Now in order that ye may not sin, with whom ought ye to be angry but with yourselves? For what is a penitent man, but a man who is angry with himself? That he may obtain pardon, he exacts punishment from himself; and so with good right says to God, "Turn Thine eyes from my sins, for I acknowledge my sin." [3504] If thou acknowledgest it, then He will pardon it. Ye then who have done so wrongly, do so no more: it is not lawful.

3. But if ye have done so already, and have such money in your possession, and have filled your coffers thereby, and were heaping up treasure by these means: what ye have comes of evil, now then add not evil to it, and make to yourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity. Had Zacchaeus what he had from good sources? [3505] Read and see. He was the chief of the publicans, that is, he was one to whom the public taxes were paid in: by this he had his wealth. He had oppressed many, had taken from many, and so had heaped much together. Christ entered into his house, and salvation came upon his house; for so said the Lord Himself, "This day is salvation come to this house." [3506] Now mark the method of this salvation. First he was longing to see the Lord, because he was little in stature: but when the crowd hindered him, he got up into a sycamore tree, and saw Him as He passed by. But Jesus saw him, and said, "Zacchaeus, come down, I must abide at thy house." Thou art hanging there, but I will not keep thee in suspense. I will not, that is, put thee off. Thou didst wish to see Me as I passed by, to-day shalt thou find Me dwelling at thy house. So the Lord went in unto him, and he, filled with joy, said, "The half of my goods I give to the poor." Lo, how swiftly he runs, who runs to make friends of the mammon of iniquity. And lest he should be held guilty on any other account, he said, "If I have taken anything from any man, I" will "restore fourfold." He inflicted sentence of condemnation on himself, that he might not incur damnation. So then, ye who have anything from evil sources, do good therewith. Ye who have not, wish not to acquire by evil means. Be thou good thyself, who doest good with what is evilly acquired: and when with this evil thou beginnest to do any good, do not remain evil thyself. Thy money is being converted to good, and dost thou thyself continue evil?

4. There is indeed another way of understanding it; and I will not withhold it too. The mammon of iniquity is all the riches of this world, from whatever source they come. For howsoever they be heaped together, they are the mammon of iniquity, that is, the riches of iniquity. What is, "they are the riches of iniquity"? It is money which iniquity calls by the name of riches. For if we seek for the true riches, they are different from these. In these Job abounded, naked as he was, when he had a heart full to Godward, and poured out praises like most costly gems to his God, when he had lost all he had. [3507] And from what treasure did he this, if he had nothing? These then are the true riches. But the other sort are called riches by iniquity. Thou dost possess these riches. I blame it not: an inheritance has come to thee, thy father was rich, and he left it to thee. Or thou hast honestly acquired them: thou hast a house full of the fruit of just labour; I blame it not. Yet even thus do not call them riches. For if thou dost call them riches, thou wilt love them: and if thou love them, thou wilt perish with them. Lose, that thou be not lost: give, that thou mayest gain: sow, that thou mayest reap. Call not these riches, for "the true" they are not. They are full of poverty, and liable ever to accidents. What sort of riches are those, for whose sake thou art afraid of the robber, for whose sake thou art afraid of thine own servant, lest he should kill thee, and take them away, and fly? If they were true riches, they would give thee security.

5. So then those are the true riches, which when we have them, we cannot lose. And lest haply thou shouldest fear a thief because of them, they will be there where none can take them away. Hear thy Lord, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where no thief approacheth." [3508] Then will they be riches, when thou hast removed them hence. As long as they are in the earth, they are not riches. But the world calls them riches, iniquity calls them so. God calls them therefore the mammon of iniquity, because iniquity calls them riches. Hear the Psalm, "O Lord, deliver me out of the hand of strange children, whose mouth hath spoken vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity. Whose sons are as new plants, firmly rooted from their youth. Their daughters decked out, adorned round about after the similitude of a temple. Their storehouses full, flowing out from this into that. Their oxen fat, their sheep fruitful, multiplying in their goings forth. There is no breach of wall, nor going forth, no crying out in their streets." [3509] Lo, what sort of happiness the Psalmist has described: but hear what is the case with them whom he has set forth as children of iniquity. "Whose mouth hath spoken vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity." Thus has he set them forth, and said that their happiness is only upon the earth. And what did he add? "They are happy the people that hath these things." But who called them so? "Strange children," aliens from the race, and belonging not to the seed of Abraham: they "called the people happy that hath these things." Who called them so? "They whose mouth hath spoken vanity." It is a vain thing then to call them happy who have these things. And yet they are called so by them, "whose mouth hath spoken vanity." By them the "mammon of iniquity" of the Gospel is called riches.

6. But what sayest thou? Seeing that these "strange children" that they "whose mouth hath spoken vanity," have "called the people happy that hath these things," what sayest thou? These are false riches, show me the true. Thou findest fault with these, show me what thou praisest. Thou wishest me to despise these, show me what to prefer. Let the Psalmist speak himself. For he who said, "they called the people happy that hath these things," gives us such an answer, as if we had said to him, that is, to the Psalmist [3510] himself, "Lo, this thou hast taken away from us, and nothing hast thou given us: lo, these, lo, these we despise; whereby shall we live, whereby shall we be happy? For they who have spoken, they will undertake to answer [3511] for themselves. For they have `called' men `who have' riches `happy.' But what sayest thou?" As if he had been thus questioned, he makes answer and says, They call the rich happy: but I say, "Happy are the people whose is the Lord their God." Thus then thou hast heard of the true riches, make friends of the mammon of iniquity, and thou shalt be "a happy people, whose is the Lord their God." At times we go along the way, and see very pleasant and productive estates, and we say, "Whose estate is that?" We are told, "such a man's;" and we say, "Happy man!" We "speak vanity." Happy he whose is that house, happy he whose that estate, happy he whose that flock, happy he whose that servant, happy he whose is that household. Take away vanity if Thou wouldest hear the truth. "Happy he whose is the Lord" his "God." For not he who has that estate is happy: but he whose is that "God." But in order to declare most plainly the happiness of possessions, thou sayest that thy estate has made thee happy. And why? Because thou livest by it. For when thou dost highly praise thine estate, thou sayest thus, "It finds me food, I live by it." Consider whereby thou dost really live. He by whom thou livest, is He to whom thou sayest, "With Thee is the fountain of life." [3512] "Happy is the people whose God is the Lord." O Lord my God, O Lord our God, make us happy by Thee, that we may come unto Thee. We wish not to be happy from gold, or silver, or land, from these earthly, and most vain, and transitory goods of this perishable life. Let not "our mouth speak vanity." Make us happy by Thee, seeing that we shall never lose Thee. When we shall once have gotten Thee, we shall neither lose Thee, nor be lost ourselves. Make us happy by Thee, because "Happy is the people whose is the Lord their God." Nor will God be angry if we shall say of Him, He is our estate. For we read that "the Lord is the portion of my inheritance." [3513] Grand thing, Brethren, we are both His inheritance, and He is ours, seeing that we both cultivate His service [3514] and He cultivateth us. [3515] It is no derogation [3516] to His honour that He cultivateth us. Because if we cultivate Him as our God, He cultivateth us as His field. And, (that ye may know that He doth cultivate us) hear Him whom He hath sent to us: "I," saith He, "am the vine, ye are the branches, My Father is the Husbandman." [3517] Therefore He doth cultivate us. But if we yield fruit, He prepares for us His garner. But if under the attention of so great a hand we will be barren, and for good fruit [3518] bring forth thorns, I am loth to say what follows. [3519] Let us make an end with a theme of joy. "Let us turn then to the Lord," etc.

Footnotes

[3499] Matt. xxv. 35, etc. [3500] Matt. xxv. 40. [3501] Lucrum. [3502] Eructuasti. [3503] Ps. iv. 4, Sept. [3504] Ps. li. 9. [3505] Luke xix. 2, etc. [3506] Luke xix. 9. [3507] Job i. 21. [3508] Matt. vi. 20; Luke xii. 33. [3509] Ps. cxliv. 11, etc., Sept. [3510] Psalmo. [3511] Recipient. [3512] Ps. xxxvi. 9. [3513] Ps. xvi. 5. [3514] Colimus. [3515] Colit. Quia et colimus eum, et colit nos. Vide Serm. xlvii., xxix., xxvii., ii.; Conf. B. xiii. 1. [3516] Injuria. [3517] John xv. 1. [3518] Frumento. [3519] See John xv. 2 and 6. .


Sermon LXIV.

[CXIV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xvii. 3, "If thy brother sin, rebuke him," etc., touching the remission of sins.

Delivered at the Table of St. Cyprian, in the presence of Count Boniface.

1. The Holy Gospel which we heard just now as it was being read, has admonished touching the remission of sins. And on this subject must ye be admonished now by my discourse. For we are ministers of the word, not our own word, but the word of our God and Lord, whom no one serves without glory, whom no one despises without punishment. He then the Lord our God, who abiding with the Father made us, and having been made for us, re-made us, He the Lord our God Jesus Christ Himself says to us what we have heard just now in the Gospel. "If," He saith, "thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him, and if he shall repent, forgive him; and if he shall sin against time seven times in a day, and shall come and say, I repent, forgive him." [3520] He would not have "seven times in a day" otherwise understood than "as often as may be," lest haply he sin eight times, and thou be unwilling to forgive. What then is "seven times"? Always, as often as he shall sin and repent. For this, "Seven times in a day will I praise thee," [3521] is the same as in another Psalm, "His praise shall always be in my mouth." [3522] And there is the strongest reason why seven times should be put for that which is always: for the whole course of time revolves in a circle of seven coming and returning days.

2. Whosoever then thou art that hast thy thoughts on Christ, and desirest to receive what He hath promised, be not slow to do that which He hath enjoined. Now what hath He promised? "Eternal life." And what hath He enjoined? That pardon be given to thy brother. As if He had said to thee, "Do thou, O man, give pardon to a man, that I, who am God, may come unto thee." But that I may pass over, or rather pass by for a while, those more exalted divine promises in which our Creator engages to make us equal with His Angels, that we may with Him, and in Him, and by Him, live without end; not to speak of this just now, dost thou not wish to receive of thy God this very thing, which thou art commanded to give thy brother? This very thing, I say, which thou art commanded to give thy brother, dost thou not wish to receive from thy Lord? Tell me if thou wishest it not; and so give it not. What is this, but that thou shouldest forgive him that asks thee, if thou require to be forgiven? But if thou have nothing to be forgiven thee, I dare to say, be unwilling to forgive. Though I ought not even to say this. Though thou have nothing to be forgiven thee, forgive.

3. Thou art just on the point of saying to me, "But I am not God, I am a man, a sinner." God be thanked that thou dost confess thou hast sins. Forgive then, that they may be forgiven thee. Yet the Lord Himself our God exhorteth us to imitate Him. In the first place God Himself, Christ, exhorteth us, of whom the Apostle Peter said, "Christ hath suffered for us, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile, found in His mouth." [3523] He then verily had no sin, yet did He die for our sins, and shed His Blood for the remission of sins. He took upon Him for our sakes what was not His due, that He might deliver us from what was due to us. Death was not due to Him, nor life to us. Why? Because we were sinners. Death was not due to Him, nor life to us; He received what was not due to Him, He gave what was not due to us. But since we are speaking of the remission of sins, lest ye should think it too high a thing to imitate Christ, hear the Apostle saying, "Forgiving one another, even as God in Christ hath forgiven you." [3524] "Be ye therefore imitators of God." They are the Apostle's words, not mine. Is it indeed a proud thing to imitate God? Hear the Apostle, "Be ye imitators of God as dearly beloved children." [3525] Thou art called a child: if thou refuse to imitate Him, why seekest thou His inheritance?

4. This would I say even if thou hadst no sin which thou mightest desire to be forgiven thee. But as it is, whosoever thou art, thou art a man; though thou be righteous, thou art a man; be thou layman, or monk, or clerk, or Bishop, or Apostle, thou art a man. Hear the Apostle's voice, "If we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." [3526] He, that famous John and an Evangelist, he whom the Lord Christ loved beyond all the rest, who lay on His breast, he says, "If we shall say." He did not say, "If ye shall say that ye have no sin," but "if we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." He joined himself in the guilt, that he might be joined in the pardon also. "If we shall say." Consider who it is that says, "If we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we shall confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity." [3527] How does He cleanse? By forgiving, not as though He found nothing to punish, but as finding something to forgive. So then, Brethren, if we have sins, let us forgive them that ask us. Let us not retain enmities in our heart against another. For the retaining of enmities more than anything corrupts this heart of ours.

5. I would then that thou shouldest forgive, seeing that I find thee asking forgiveness. Thou art asked, forgive: thou art asked, and thou wilt ask thyself; thou art asked, forgive; thou wilt ask to be forgiven; for, lo, the time of prayer will come: I have thee fast in the words thou wilt have to speak. Thou wilt say, "Our Father, which art in heaven." For thou wilt not be in the number of children, if thou shalt not say, "Our Father." So then thou wilt say, "Our Father, which art in heaven." Follow on; "Hallowed be Thy Name." Say on, "Thy kingdom come." Follow still on, "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." See what thou addest next, "Give us this day our daily bread." [3528] Where are thy riches? So thou art a beggar. Nevertheless in the mean while (it is the point I am speaking of), say what is next after, "Give us this day our daily bread." Say what follows this: "Forgive us our debts." Now thou hast come to my words, "Forgive us our debts." By what right? by what covenant? on what condition? on what express stipulation? "As we also forgive our debtors." It is but a small thing that thou dost not forgive; yea thou dost more, thou liest unto God. The condition is laid down, the law fixed. "Forgive as I forgive." Therefore He does not forgive, unless thou forgivest. "Forgive as I forgive." Thou wishest to be forgiven when thou askest, forgive him that asks of thee. He that is skilled in heaven's laws [3529] has dictated these prayers: He does not deceive thee; ask according to the tenor of His heavenly voice: say, "Forgive us, as we also forgive," and do what thou sayest. He that lies in his prayers, loses the benefit he seeks: he that lies in his prayers, both loses his cause, and finds his punishment. And if any one lies to the emperor, he is convicted of his lie at his coming: but when thou liest in prayer, thou by thy very prayer art convicted. For God does not seek for witness as regards thee to convict thee. He who dictated the prayers to thee, is thine Advocate: if thou liest, He is a witness against thee: if thou dost not amend thyself, He will be thy Judge. So then both say it, and do. For if thou say it not, thou wilt not obtain making thy requests contrary to the law; but if thou say it and do it not, thou wilt be further guilty of lying. There is no means of evading that verse, save by fulfilling what we say. Can we blot this verse out of our prayer? Would ye that clause, "Forgive us our debts," should be there, and that we should blot out what follows, "As we also forgive our debtors"? Thou shalt not blot it out, lest thou be first blotted out thyself. So then in this prayer thou sayest, "Give," and thou sayest, "Forgive:" that thou mayest receive what thou hast not, and may be forgiven what thou hast done amiss. So then thou wishest to receive, give; thou wishest to be forgiven, forgive. It is a brief summary. Hear Christ Himself in another place, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." What will ye forgive? What others have sinned against you. What shall ye be forgiven? What ye have sinned yourselves. "Forgive." "Give, and there shall be given you what ye desire," [3530] eternal life. Support the temporal life of the poor man, sustain the poor man's present life, and for this so small and earthly seed ye shall receive for harvest life eternal. Amen.

Footnotes

[3520] Luke xvii. 4. [3521] Ps. cxix. 164. [3522] Ps. xxxiv. 1. [3523] 1 Pet. ii. 21, 22. [3524] Col. iii. 13; Eph. iv. 32. [3525] Eph. v. 1. [3526] 1 John i. 8. [3527] 1 John i. 9. [3528] Matt. vi. 9, etc. [3529] Jurisperitus. [3530] Luke vi. 37, 38. .


Sermon LXV.

[CXV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xviii. 1,"They ought always to pray, and not to faint," etc. And on the two who went up into the temple to pray: and of the little children who were presented unto Christ.

1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel builds us up unto the duty of praying and believing, and of not putting our trust in ourselves, but in the Lord. What greater encouragement to prayer than the parable which is proposed to us of the unjust judge? For an unjust judge, who feared not God, nor regarded man, yet gave ear to a widow who besought him, overcome by her importunity, not inclined thereto by kindness. [3531] If he then heard her prayer, who hated to be asked, how must He hear who exhorts us to ask? When therefore by this comparison from a contrary case the Lord had taught that "men ought always to pray and not to faint," [3532] He added and said, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth?" [3533] If faith fail, prayer perishes. For who prays for that which he does not believe? Whence also the blessed Apostle, when he exhorted to prayer, said, "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved." [3534] And in order to show that faith is the fountain of prayer, he went on and said, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?" [3535] So then that we may pray, let us believe; and that this same faith whereby we pray fail not, let us pray. Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith. Faith, I say, pours out prayer, the pouring out of prayer obtains strengthening even for faith itself. For that faith might not fail in temptations, therefore did the Lord say," Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." [3536] "Watch," He saith, "and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." What is to "enter into temptation," but to depart from faith? For so far temptation advances as faith gives way: and so far temptation gives way, as faith advances. For that you may know, Beloved, more plainly, that the Lord said, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation," as touching faith lest it should fail and perish; He said in the same place of the Gospel, "This night hath Satan desired to sift [3537] you as wheat, and I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not." [3538] He that defendeth prayeth, and shall not he pray who is in peril? For in the words of the Lord, "when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth?" He spoke of that faith, which is perfect. For it is scarce found on the earth. Lo! this Church of God is full: and who would come hither, if there were no faith? But who would not remove mountains, if there were full faith? Look at the very Apostles: they would not have left all they had, have trodden under foot this world's hope, and followed the Lord, if they had not had great faith; and yet if they had full faith, they would not have said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." [3539] See again, that man confessing both of himself (behold faith, yet not full faith), who when he had presented to the Lord his son to be cured of an evil spirit, and was asked whether he believed, answered and said, "Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." [3540] "Lord," says he, "I believe," I believe; therefore there was faith. But "help Thou mine unbelief," therefore there was not full faith.

2. But inasmuch as faith belongs not to the proud, but to the humble, "He spake this parable unto certain who seemed to themselves to be righteous, and despised others. Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee said, God, I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of men." [3541] He might at least have said, "as many men." What does, "as the rest of men," mean, but all except himself? "I," he says, "am just, the rest are sinners." "I am not as the rest of men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers." And, lo, from thy neighbour, the publican, thou takest occasion of greater pride. "As," he says, "this publican." "I," he says, "am alone, he is of the rest." "I am not," says he, "such as he is, through my righteous deeds, whereby I have no unrighteousness." "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." [3542] In all his words seek out for any one thing that he asked of God, and thou wilt find nothing. He went up to pray: he had no mind to pray to God, but to laud himself. Nay, it is but a small part of it, that he prayed not to God, but lauded himself. More than this he even mocked him that did pray. "But the Publican stood afar off;" [3543] and yet he was in deed near to God. The consciousness of his heart kept him off, piety brought him close. "But the Publican stood afar off:" yet the Lord regarded him near. "For the Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly." [3544] But "those that are high" as was this Pharisee, "He knoweth afar off." "The high" indeed "God knoweth afar off," but He doth not pardon them. Hear still more the humility of the Publican. It is but a small matter that he stood afar off; "he did not even lift up his eyes unto heaven." He looked not, that he might be looked upon. He did not dare to look upwards, his conscience pressed him down: but hope lifted him up. Hear again, "he smote his breast." He punished himself: wherefore the Lord spared him for his confession. "He smote his breast, saying, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." See who he is that prays. Why dost thou marvel that God should pardon, when he acknowledges his own sin? Thus thou hast heard the case [3545] of the Pharisee and Publican; now hear the sentence; thou hast heard the proud accuser, thou hast heard the humble criminal; hear now the Judge. "Verily I say unto you." The Truth saith, God saith, the Judge saith it. "Verily I say unto you, That Publican went down from the temple justified rather than that Pharisee." [3546] Tell us, Lord, the cause. Lo! I see that the publican goes down from the temple justified rather than the Pharisee. I ask why? Dost thou ask why? Hear why. "Because every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." [3547] Thou hast heard the sentence, beware of its evil cause. In other words, thou hast heard the sentence, beware of pride.

3. Let now those ungodly babblers, whosoever they be, who presume on their own strength, let them hear and see these things: let them hear who say, God made me a man, I make myself just. O thou who art worse and more detestable than the Pharisee! The Pharisee in the Gospel did indeed call himself just, but yet he gave thanks to God for it. He called himself just, but yet he gave God thanks. "I thank Thee, O God, that I am not as the rest of men." "I thank Thee, O God." He gives God thanks, that he is not as the rest of men: and yet he is blamed as being proud and puffed up; not in that he gave God thanks, but in that he desired as it were no more to be added unto him. "I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men, unjust." So then thou art just; so then thou askest for nothing; so then thou art full already; so then the life of man is not a trial upon earth; [3548] so then thou art full already; so then thou aboundest already, so then thou hast no ground for saying, "Forgive us our debts!" What must his case be then who impiously impugns grace, if he is blamed who give thanks proudly?

4. And, lo, after the case had been stated, and the sentence pronounced, little children also came forth, yea, rather, are carried and presented to be touched. To be touched by whom, but the Physician? Surely, it will be said, they must be whole. To whom are the infants presented to be touched? To whom? To the Saviour. If to the Saviour, they are brought to be saved. To whom, but to Him "who came to seek and to save what was lost." [3549] How were they lost? As far as concerns them personally, I see that they are without fault, I am seeking for their guiltiness. Whence is it? I listen to the Apostle, "By one man sin entered into the world. By one man," he says, "sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men by him in whom all sinned." [3550] Let then the little children come, let them come: let the Lord be heard. "Suffer little children to come unto Me." [3551] Let the little ones come, let the sick come to the Physician, the lost to their Redeemer: let them come, let no man hinder them. In the branch they have not yet committed any evil, but they are ruined in their root. "Let the Lord bless the small with the great." [3552] Let the Physician touch both small and great. The cause of the little ones we commend to their elders. Speak ye for them who are mute, pray for them who weep. If ye are not their elders to no purpose, be ye their guardians: defend them who are not able yet to manage their own cause. Common is the loss, let the finding be common: we were lost all together, together be we found in Christ. Uneven is the desert, but common is the grace. They have no evil but what they have drawn from the source: they have no evil but what they have derived from the first original. Let not them keep them off from salvation, who to what they have so derived have added much more evil. The elder in age is the elder in iniquity too. But the grace of God effaces what thou hast derived, effaces too what thou hast added. For, "where sin abounded, grace hath superabounded." [3553]

Footnotes

[3531] Pietate. [3532] Luke xviii. 1. [3533] Luke xviii. 8, Vulgate. [3534] Rom. x. 13. [3535] Rom. x. 14. [3536] Luke xxii. 46. [3537] Vexare. [3538] Luke xxii. 31, 32. [3539] Luke xvii. 5. [3540] Mark ix. 24. [3541] Luke xviii. 9-11. [3542] Luke xviii. 12. [3543] Luke xviii. 13. [3544] Ps. cxxxviii. 6. [3545] Controversiam. [3546] Luke xviii. 14. [3547] Luke xviii. 14. [3548] Job vii. 1, Sept. [3549] Luke xix. 10. [3550] Rom. v. 12. [3551] Luke xviii. 16. [3552] Ps. cxv. 13. [3553] Rom. v. 20. .


Sermon LXVI.

[CXVI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, Luke xxiv. 36, "He himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, peace be unto you," etc.

1. The Lord appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, as ye have heard, and saluted them, saying, "Peace be unto you." [3554] This is peace indeed, and the salutation of salvation: for the very word salutation has received its name from salvation. [3555] And what can be better than that Salvation Itself should salute man? For Christ is our Salvation. He is our Salvation, who was wounded for us, and fixed by nails to the tree, and being taken down from the tree, was laid in the sepulchre. And from the sepulchre He arose, with His wounds healed, His scars kept. For this He judged expedient for His disciples, that His scars should be kept, where by the wounds of their hearts might be healed. What wounds? The wounds of unbelief. For He appeared to their eyes, exhibiting real flesh, and they thought they saw a spirit. It is no light wound, this wound of the heart. Yea, they have made a malignant heresy who have abided in this wound. But do we suppose that the disciples had not been wounded, because they were so quickly healed? Only, Beloved, suppose, if they had continued in this wound, to think that the Body which had been buried, could not rise again, but that a spirit in the image of a body, deceived the eyes of men: if they had continued in this belief, yea, rather in this unbelief, not their wounds, but their death would have had to be bewailed.

2. But what said the Lord Jesus? "Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into your hearts?" [3556] If thoughts ascend into your heart, the thoughts come from the earth. But it is good for a man, not that a thought should ascend into his heart, but that his heart should itself ascend upwards, where the Apostle would have believers place their hearts, to whom he said, "If ye be risen with Christ, mind those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Seek those things which are above, not the things which are upon the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." [3557] In what glory? The glory of the resurrection. In what glory? Hear the Apostle saying of this body, "It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory." [3558] This glory the Apostles were unwilling to assign to their Master, their Christ, their Lord: they did not believe that His Body could rise from the sepulchre: they thought Him to be a Spirit, though they saw His flesh, and they believed not their very eyes. Yet we believe them who preach but do not show Him. Lo, they believed not Christ who showed Himself to them. Malignant wound! Let the remedies for these scars come forth. "Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into your hearts? See My hands and My feet," where I was fixed with the nails. "Handle and see." But ye see, and yet do not see. "Handle and see." What? "That a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. When He had thus spoken," so it is written, "He showed them His hands and His feet." [3559]

3. "And while they were yet in hesitation, and wondered for joy." [3560] Now there was joy already, and yet hesitation continued. For a thing incredible had taken place, yet taken place it had. Is it at this day a thing incredible, that the Body of the Lord rose again from the sepulchre? The whole cleansed world [3561] has believed it; whoso has not believed it, has remained in his uncleanness. Yet at that time it was incredible: and persuasion was addressed not to the eyes only, but to the hands also, that by the bodily senses faith might descend into their heart, and that faith so descending into their heart might be preached throughout the world to them who neither saw nor touched, and yet without doubting believed. "Have ye," saith He, "anything to eat?" How much doeth the good Builder still to build up the edifice of faith? He did not hunger, yet He asked to eat. And He ate by an act of His power, not through necessity. So then let the disciples acknowledge the verity of His body, which the world has acknowledged at their preaching.

4. If haply there be any heretics who still in their hearts maintain that Christ exhibited Himself to sight, but that Christ's was not very flesh; let them now lay aside that error, and let the Gospel persuade them. We do but blame them for entertaining this conceit: He will damn them if they shall persevere in it. Who art thou who dost not believe that a body laid in the sepulchre could rise again? If thou art a Manichee, who dost not believe that He was crucified either, because thou dost not believe that He was even born, thou declarest that all that He showed was false. He showed what was false, and dost thou speak the truth? Thou dost not lie with thy mouth, and did He lie in His body? Lo thou dost suppose that He appeared unto the eyes of men what He really was not, that He was a spirit, not flesh. Hear Him: He loves thee, let Him not condemn thee. Hear Him speaking: lo, He speaks to thee, thou unhappy one, He speaks to thee, "Why art thou troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into thine heart?" "See," saith He, "My hands and My feet. Handle and see, because a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have." This spake the Truth, and did He deceive? It was a body then, it was flesh; that which had been buried, appeared. Let doubting perish, and meet praise ensue.

5. He showed himself then to the disciples. What is "Himself"? The Head of His Church. The Church was foreseen by Him as in thee to be throughout the world, by the disciples it was not yet seen. He showed the Head, He promised the Body. For what did He add next? "These are the words which I spake to you, while I was yet with you." [3562] What is this, "While I was yet with you"? Was He not with them then when He was speaking to them? What is, "when I was yet with you"? was with you as mortal, which now I am not. I was with you when I had yet to die. What is, "with you"? With you who were to die, Myself to die. Now I am no more with you: for I am with those who are to die, Myself to die no more for ever. This then is what I said to you. What? "That all things must be fulfilled which are written in the Law, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me." [3563] I told you that all things must be fulfilled. "Then opened He their understanding." [3564] Come then, O Lord, employ Thy keys, open, that we may understand. Lo, Thou dost tell all things, and yet are not believed. Thou art thought to be a spirit, art touched, art rudely handled, [3565] and yet they who touch Thee hesitate. Thou dost admonish them out of the Scriptures, and yet they understand Thee not. Their hearts are closed, open, and enter in. He did so. "Then opened He their understanding." Open, O Lord, yea, open the heart of him who is in doubt concerning Christ. Open "his" understanding who believes that Christ was a phantom. "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures."

6. And "He said unto them." What? "That thus it behoved. That thus it is written, and thus it behoved." What? "That Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead the third day." [3566] And this they saw, they saw Him suffering, they saw Him hanging, they saw Him with them alive after His resurrection. What then did they not see? The Body, that is, the Church. Him they saw, her they saw not. They saw the Bridegroom, the Bride yet lay hid. Let him promise her too. "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." This is the Bridegroom, what of the Bride? "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." [3567] This the disciples did not yet see: they did not yet see the Church throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. They saw the Head, and they believed the Head touching the Body. By this which they saw, they believed that which they saw not. We too are like to them: we see something which they saw not, and something we do not see which they did see. What do we see, which they saw not? The Church throughout all nations. What do we not see, which they saw? Christ present in the flesh. As they saw Him, and believed concerning the Body, so do we see the Body; let us believe concerning the Head. Let what we have respectively seen help us. The sight of Christ helped them to believe the future Church: the sight of the Church helps us to believe that Christ has risen. Their faith was made complete, and ours is made complete also. Their faith was made complete from the sight of the Head, ours is made complete by the sight of the Body. Christ was made known to them "wholly," and to us is He so made known: but He was not seen "wholly" by them, nor by us has He been "wholly" seen. By them the Head was seen, the Body believed. By us the Body has been seen, the Head believed. Yet to none is Christ lacking: in all He is complete, though to this day His Body remains imperfect. The Apostles believed; through them many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem believed; Judæa believed. Samaria believed. Let the members be added on, the building added on to the foundation. "For no other foundation can any man lay," says the Apostle, "than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." [3568] Let the Jews rage madly, and be filled with jealousy: Stephen be stoned, Saul keep the raiment of them who stone him, Saul, one day to be the Apostle Paul. [3569] Let Stephen be killed, the Church of Jerusalem dispersed in confusion: out of it go forth burning brands, and spread themselves and spread their flame. For in the Church of Jerusalem, as it were burning brands were set on fire by the Holy Spirit, when they had all one soul, and one heart to God-ward. [3570] When Stephen was stoned, that pile suffered persecution: the brands were dispersed, and the world was set on fire.

7. And then intent on his furious schemes, that Saul received letters from the chief of the priests, and began his journey in his cruel rage, breathing out slaughter, thirsting for blood, to drag bound and to hurry off to punishment whomsoever he could, and from every quarter that he could, and to satiate himself with the shedding of their blood. But where was God, where was Christ, where He that had crowned Stephen? Where, but in heaven? Let Him now look on Saul, and mock him in his fury, and call from heaven, "`Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?' [3571] I am in heaven, and thou in earth, and yet thou persecutest Me. Thou dost not touch the body, but my members thou art treading down. Yet what art thou doing? What art thou gaining? `It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.' Kick as thou wilt, thou only distressest thyself. Lay aside thy fury then, recover soundness. Lay aside evil counsel, seek after good succour." By that voice he was struck to the earth. Who was struck to the earth? The persecutor. Lo, by that one word was he overcome. After what wast thou going, after what was thy fury carrying thee? Those whom thou wast seeking out, now thou followest; whom thou wast persecuting, now for them thou sufferest persecution. He rises up the preacher, who was struck to the earth, the persecutor. He heard the Lord's voice. He was blinded, but in the body only, that he might be enlightened in heart. He was brought to Ananias, catechised on sundry points, baptized, and so came forth an Apostle. Speak then, preach, preach Christ, spread His doctrine, O thou goodly leader of the flock, [3572] but lately a wolf. See him, mark him, who once was raging. "But for me, God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." [3573] Spread the Gospel: scatter with thy mouth what thou hast conceived in thine heart. Let the nations hear, let the nations believe; let the nations multiply, let the Lord's empurpled spouse spring forth from the blood of Martyrs. And from her how many have come already, how many members have cleaved to the Head, and cleave to Him still and believe! They were baptized, and others shall be baptized, and after them shall others come. Then I say, at the end of the world shall the stones be joined to the foundation, living stones, holy stones, that at the end the whole edifice may be built by that Church, yea by this very Church which now sings the new song, while the house is in building. For so the Psalm itself says, "When the house was in building after the captivity;" and what says it, "Sing unto the Lord a new song, sing unto the Lord all the earth." [3574] How great a house is this! But when does it sing the new song? When it is in building. When is it dedicated? At the end of the world. Its foundation has been already dedicated, because He hath ascended into heaven, and dieth no more. When we too shall have risen to die no more, then shall we be dedicated.

Footnotes

[3554] Luke xxiv. 36. [3555] Salutatio a salute. [3556] Luke xxiv. 38. [3557] Col. iii. 1, etc. [3558] 1 Cor. xv. 43. [3559] Luke xxiv. 38-40. [3560] Luke xxiv. 41. [3561] Totus hoc credidit mundus, qui non credidit remansit immundus. [3562] Luke xxiv. 44. [3563] Luke xxiv. 44. [3564] Luke xxiv. 45. [3565] Ulsaris. [3566] Luke xxiv. 46. [3567] Luke xxiv. 47. [3568] 1 Cor. iii. 11. [3569] Acts vii. 58. [3570] Acts iv. 32. [3571] Acts ix. 4. [3572] Aries. [3573] Gal. vi. 14. [3574] Ps. xcv. 1, Sept. (xcvi. 1, English version). .


Sermon LXVII.

[CXVII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John i. 1, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God," etc. Against the Arians.

1. The section of the Gospel which has been read, most dearly beloved brethren, looketh for the pure eye of the heart. For from John's Gospel we have understood our Lord Jesus Christ according to His Divinity for the creating of the whole creation, and according to His Humanity for the recovery of the creature fallen. Now in this same Gospel we find what sort and how great a man was John, that from the dignity of the dispenser it may be understood of how great a price is the Word which could be announced by such a man; yea, rather how without price is That which surpasseth all things. For any purchasable thing is either equal to the price, or it is below it, or it exceeds it. When any one procures a thing for as much as it is worth, the price is equal to the thing which is procured; when for less, it is below it; when for more, it exceeds it. But to the Word of God nothing can either be equalled, or to exchange can anything be below It, or above It. For all things can be below the Word of God, for that "all things were made by Him;" [3575] yet are they not in such wise below, as if they were the price of the Word, that any one should give something to receive That. Yet if we may say so, and if any principle or custom of speaking admit this expression, the price for procuring the Word, is the procurer himself, who will have given himself for himself to This Word. Accordingly when we buy anything we look out for something to give, that for the price we give we may have the thing we wish to buy. And that which we give is without us; and if it was with us before, what we give becomes without us, that that which we procure may be with us. Whatever price the purchaser may find it, it must needs be such as that he gives what he has, and receives what he has not; yet so that he from whom the price goes himself remains, and that for which he gives the price is added to him. But whoso would procure this Word, whoso would have it, let him not seek for anything without himself to give, let him give himself. And when he shall have done this, he doth not lose himself, as he loseth the price when he buys anything.

2. The Word of God then is set forth before all men; let them who can, procure It, and they can who have a godly will. For in That Word is peace; and "peace on earth is to men of good will." [3576] So then whoso will procure it, let him give himself. This is as it were the price of the Word, if so it may in any way be said, when he that giveth doth not lose himself, and gaineth the Word for which he giveth himself, and gaineth himself too in the Word to whom he giveth himself. And what giveth he to the Word? Not ought that is any other's than His, for whom he giveth himself; but what by the Same Word was made, that is given back to Him to be remade; "All things were made by Him." If all things, then of course man too. If the heaven, and earth, and sea, and all things that are therein, if the whole creation; of course more manifestly he, who being made after the image of God by the Word was made man.

3. I am not now, brethren, discussing how the words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," [3577] can be understood. After an ineffable sort it may be understood; it cannot by the words of man he made to be understood. I am treating of the Word of God, and telling you why It is not understood. I am not now speaking to make It understood, but I tell you what hinders It from being understood. For He is a certain Form, a Form not formed, but the Form of all things formed; a Form unchangeable, without failure, without decay, without thee, without place, surpassing all things, being in all things, as at once a kind of foundation in which they are, and a Head-stone under which they are. If you say that all things are in Him, you lie not. For This Word is called the Wisdom of God; and we have it written, "In Wisdom hast Thou made all things." [3578] Lo, then in Him are all things: and yet in that He is God, under Him are all things. I am showing how incomprehensible is what has been read; yet it has been read, not that it should be comprehended by man, but that man should sorrow that he comprehends it not, and find out whereby he is hindered from comprehending, and remove those hindrances, and, himself changed from worse to better, aspire after the perception of the unchangeable Word. For the Word doth not advance or increase by the addition of those who know It; but is Entire, if thou abide; Entire, if thou depart; Entire, when thou dost return; abiding in Itself, and renewing all things. It is then the Form of all things, the Form unfashioned, without thee, as I have said, and without space. For whatsoever is contained in space, is circumscribed. Every form is circumscribed by bounds; it hath limits wherefrom and whereunto it reaches. Again, what is contained in place, and has extension in a sort of bulk and space, is less in its parts than in the whole. God grant that ye may understand.

4. Now from the bodies which are day by day before our eyes, which we see, which we touch, among which we live, we are able to judge how that every body hath a form in space. Now everything which occupies a certain space, is less in its parts than in its whole. The arm, for instance, is a part of the human body; of course the arm is less than the whole body. And if the arm be less, it occupies a smaller space. So again the head, in that it is a part of the body, is contained in less space, and is less than the whole body of which it is the head. So all things which are in space, are less in their several parts than in the whole. Let us entertain no such idea, no such thought concerning That Word. Let us not form our conceptions of spiritual things from the suggestion of the flesh. That Word, That God, is not less in part than in the whole.

5. But thou art not able to conceive of any such thing. Such ignorance is more pious than presumptuous knowledge. For we are speaking of God. It is said, "And the Word was God." [3579] We are speaking of God; what marvel, if thou do not comprehend? For if thou comprehend, He is not God. Be there a pious confession of ignorance, rather than a rash profession of knowledge. To reach to God in any measure by the mind, is a great blessedness; but to comprehend Him, is altogether impossible. God is an object for the mind, He is to be understood; a body is for the eyes, it is to be seen. But thinkest thou that thou comprehendest a body by the eye? Thou canst not at all. For whatever thou lookest at, thou dost not see the whole. If thou seest a man's face, thou dost not see his back at the time thou seest the face; and when thou seest the back, thou dost not at that time see the face. Thou dost not then so see, as to comprehend; but when thou seest another part which thou hadst not seen before, unless memory aid thee to remember that thou hast seen that from which thou dost withdraw, thou couldest never say that thou hadst comprehended anything even on the surface. Thou handlest what thou seest, turnest it about on this side and that, or thyself dost go round it to see the whole. In one view then thou canst not see the whole. And as long as thou turnest it about to see it, thou art but seeing the parts; and by putting together that thou hast seen the other parts, thou dost fancy that thou seest the whole. But this must not be understood as the sight of the eyes, but the activity of the memory. What then can be said, Brethren, of that Word? Lo, of the bodies which are before our eyes we say they cannot comprehend them by a glance; what eye of the heart then comprehendeth God? Enough that it reach to Him if the eye be pure. But if it reach, it reacheth by a sort of incorporeal and spiritual touch, yet it doth not comprehend; and that, only if it be pure. And a man is made blessed by touching with the heart That which ever abideth Blessed; and that is this Very Everlasting Blessedness, and that Everlasting Life, whereby man is made to live; that Perfect Wisdom, whereby man is made wise; that Everlasting Light, whereby man becomes enlightened. And see how by this touch thou art made what thou wast not, thou dost not make that thou touchest be what it was not before. I repeat it, there grows no increase to God from them that know Him, but to them that know Him, from the knowledge of God. Let us not suppose, dearly beloved Brethren, that we confer any benefit on God, because I have said that we give Him in a manner a price. For we do not give Him aught whereby He can be increased, Who when thou fallest away, is Entire, and when thou returnest, abideth Entire, ready to make Himself seen that He may bless those who turn to Him, and punish those with blindness who turn away. For by this blindness, as the beginning of punishment, doth He first execute vengeance on the soul that turns away from Him. For whoso turns away from the True Light, that is from God, is at once made blind. He is not yet sensible of his punishment, but he hath it already.

6. Accordingly, dearly beloved brethren, let us understand that the Word of God is incorporeally, inviolably, unchangeably, without temporal nativity, yet born of God. Do we think that we can any how persuade certain unbelievers that that is not it, consistent with the truth, which is said by us according to the Catholic faith,which is contrary to the Arians, by whom the Church of God hath been often tried, forasmuch as carnal men receive with greater ease what they have been accustomed to see? For some have dared to say, "The Father is greater than the Son, and precedes Him in thee;" that is, the Father is greater than the Son, and the Son is less than the Father, and is preceded by the Father in thee. And they argue thus; "If He was born, of course the Father was before His Son was born to Him." Attend; may He be with me, whilst your prayers assist me, and with godly heed desire to receive what He may give, what He may suggest to me; may He be with me, that I may be able in some sort to explain what I have begun. Yet, brethren, I tell you before I begin, if I shall not be able to explain it, do not suppose that it is the failure of the proof, but of the man. Accordingly I exhort and entreat you to pray; that the mercy of God may be with me, and make the matter be so explained by me, as is meet for you to hear, and for me to speak. They then say thus; "If He be the Son of God, He was born." This we confess. For He would not be a Son, if He were not born. It is plain, the faith admits it, the Catholic Church approves it, it is truth. They then go on; "If the Son was born to the Father, the Father was before the Son was born to Him." This the faith rejects, Catholic ears reject it, it is anathematized, whoso entertains this conceit is without, he belongs not to the fellowship and society of the saints. Then says he, "Give me an explanation, how the Son could be born to the Father, and yet be coeval with Him of whom He was born?"

7. And what can we do, brethren, when we are conveying lessons of spiritual things to carnal men; even if so be we ourselves too are not carnal, when we intimate these spiritual truths to carnal men, to men accustomed to the idea of earthly nativities, and seeing the order of these creatures, where succession and departure separates off in age them that beget and them that are begotten? For after the father the son is born, to succeed the father, who in time of course must die. This do we find in men, this in other animals, that the parents are first, the children after them in time. Through this custom of observation they desire to transfer carnal things to spiritual, and by their intentness on carnal things are more easily led into error. For it is not the reason of the hearers which follows those who preach such things, but custom which even entangles themselves, that they do preach such things. And what shall we do? Shall we keep silence? Would that we might! For perchance by silence something might be thought of worthy of the unspeakable subject. For whatsoever cannot be spoken, is unspeakable. Now God is unspeakable. For if the Apostle Paul saith, that he "was caught up even unto the third heaven, and that he heard unspeakable words;" [3580] how much more unspeakable is He, who showed such things, which could not be spoken by him to whom they were shown? So then, brethren, it were better if we could keep silence, and say, "This the faith contains; so we believe; thou art not able to receive it, thou art but a babe; thou must patiently endure till thy wings be grown, lest when thou wouldest fly without wings, it should not be the free [3581] course of liberty, but the fall of temerity." What do they say against this? "O if he had anything to say, he would say it to me. This is the mere excuse of one who is at fault. He is overcome by the truth, who does not choose to answer." He to whom this is said, if he make no answer, though he be not conquered in himself is yet conquered in the wavering brethren. For the weak brethren hear it, and they think that there is really nothing to be said; and perhaps they think right that there is nothing to be said, yet not that there is nothing to be felt. For a man can express nothing which he cannot also feel; but he may feel something which he cannot express.

8. Nevertheless, saving the unspeakableness of that Sovereign Majesty, lest when we shall have produced certain similitudes against them, any one should think that we have by them arrived at that which cannot be expressed or conceived by babes (and if it can be at all even by the more advanced, it can only be in part, only in a riddle, only "through a glass;" but not as yet, "face to face" [3582] ), let us too produce certain similitudes against them, whereby they may be refuted, not "it" comprehended. For when we say that it may very possibly happen, that it may be understood, that He may both be born, and yet Coeternal with Him of whom He was born, in order to refute this, and prove it as it were to be false, they bring forth similitudes against us. From whence? From the creatures, and they say to us, "Every man of course was before he begat a son, he is greater in age than his son; and so a horse was before he begat his foal, and a sheep, and the other animals." Thus do they bring similitudes from the creatures.

9. What! must we labour too, that we may find resemblances of those things which we are establishing? And what if I should not find any, might I not rightly say, "The Nativity of the Creator hath, it may be, no resemblance of itself among the creatures? For as far as He surpasseth the things which are here, in that He is there, so far doth He surpass the things which are born here, in that He was born there. All things here have their being from God; and yet what is to be compared with God? So all things which are born here, are born by His agency. And so perhaps there is no resemblance of His Nativity found, as there is none found whether of His Substance, Unchangeableness, Divinity, Majesty. For what can be found here like these? If then it chance that no resemblance of His Nativity either be found, am I therefore overwhelmed, because I have not found resemblances to the Creator of all things, when desiring to find in the creature what is like the Creator?"

10. And in very truth, Brethren, I am not likely to discover any temporal resemblances which I can compare to eternity. But as to those which thou hast discovered, what are they? What hast thou discovered? That a father is greater in time than his son; and therefore thou wouldest have the Son of God to be less in time than the Eternal Father, because thou hast found that a son is less than a father born in time. Find me an eternal father here, and thou hast found a resemblance. Thou findest a son less than a father in time, a temporal son less than a temporal father. Hast thou found me a temporal son younger than eternal father? Seeing then that in Eternity is stability, but in time variety; in Eternity all things stand still, in time one thing comes, another succeeds; thou canst find a son of lesser age succeeding his father in the variety of time, for that he himself succeeded to his father also, not a son born in time to a father eternal. How then, Brethren, can we find in the creature aught coeternal, when in the creature we find nothing eternal? Do thou find an eternal father in the creature, and I will find a coeternal son. But if thou find not an eternal father, and the one surpasses the other in thee; it is sufficient, that for a resemblance I find something coeval. For what is coeternal is one thing what is coeval another. Every day we call them coeval who have the same measure of times; the one is not preceded by the other in time, yet they both whom we call coeval once began to "be." Now if I shall be able to discover something which is born coeval with that of which it is born; if two coeval things can be discovered, that which begets, and that which is begotten; we discover in this case things coeval, let us understand in the other things coeternal. If here I shall find that a thing begotten hath begun to be ever since that which begets began to be, we may understand at least that the Son of God did not begin to be, ever since He that begat Him did not begin to be. Lo, brethren, perhaps we may discover something in the creature, which is born of something else, and which yet began to be at the same time as that of which it is born began to be. In the latter case, the one began to be when the other began to be; in the former the one did not begin to be, ever since the other began not to be. The first then is coeval, the second coeternal.

11. I suppose that your holiness has understood already what I am saying, that temporal things cannot be compared to eternal; but that by some slight and small resemblance, things coeval may be with things coeternal. Let us find accordingly two coeval things; and let us get our hints as to these resemblances from the Scriptures. We read in the Scriptures of Wisdom, "For she is the Brightness of the Everlasting Light." Again we read, "The unspotted Mirror of the Majesty of God." [3583] Wisdom Herself is called, "The Brightness of the Everlasting Light," is called, "The Image of the Father;" from hence let us take a resemblance, that we may find two coeval things, from which we may understand things coeternal. O thou Arian, if I shall find that something that begets does not precede in time that which it begat, that a thing begotten is not less in time than that of which it is begotten; it is but just that thou concede to me, that these coeternals may be found in the Creator, when coevals can be found in the creature. I think that this indeed occurs already to some brethren. For some anticipated me as soon as I said, "For She is the Brightness of the Everlasting Light." For the fire throws out light, light is thrown out from the fire. If we ask which comes from which, every day when we light a candle are we reminded of some invisible and indescribable thing, that the candle as it were of our understanding may be lighted in this night of the world. Observe him who lights a candle. While the candle is not lighted, there is as yet no fire, nor any brightness which proceedeth from the fire. But I ask, saying, "Does the brightness come from the fire, or the fire from the brightness?" Every soul answers me (for it has pleased God to sow the beginnings of understanding and wisdom in every soul); every soul answers me, and no one doubts, that that brightness comes from the fire, not the fire from the brightness. Let us then look at the fire as the father of that brightness; for I have said before that we are looking for things coeval, not coeternal. If I desire to light a candle, there is as yet no fire there, nor yet that brightness; but immediately that I have lighted it, together with the fire comes forth the brightness also. Give me then here a fire without brightness, and I believe you that the Father ever was without the Son.

12. Attend; The matter has been explained by me as so great a matter could be, by the Lord helping the earnestness of your prayers, and the preparation of your heart, ye have taken in as much as ye were able to receive. Yet these things are ineffable. Do not suppose that anything worthy of the subject has been spoken, if it only be for that things carnal are compared with coeternal, things temporal with things abiding ever, things subject to extinction to things immortal. But inasmuch as the Son is said also to be the Image of the Father, let us take from this too a sort of resemblance, though in things very different, as I have said before. The image of a man looking into a glass is thrown out from the glass. But this cannot assist us for the clearing of that which we are endeavouring in some sort to explain. For it is said to me, "A man who looks into a glass of course, `was' already, and was born before that. The image came out only as soon as he looked at himself. For a man who looks in a glass, `was' before he came to the glass." What then shall we find, from which we may be able to draw out such a resemblance, as we did from the fire and the brightness? Let us find one from a very little thing. You know without any difficulty how water often throws out the images of bodies. I mean, when any one is passing, or standing still along the water, he sees his own image there. Let us suppose then something born on the water's side, as a shrub, or an herb, is it not born together with its image? As soon as ever it begins to be, its image begins to be with it, it does not precede in its birth its own image; it cannot be showed to me that anything is born upon the water's side, and that its image has appeared afterwards, whereas it first appeared without its image; but it is born together with its image; and yet the image comes from it, not it from the image. It is born then together with its image, and the shrub and its image begin to be together. Dost thou not confess that the image is begotten of that shrub, not the shrub of the image? So then thou dost confess that the image is from that shrub. Accordingly that which begets and that which is begotten began to "be" together. Therefore they are coeval. If the shrub had been always, the image from the shrub would have been always too. Now that which has its being from something else, is of course born of it. It is possible then that one that begets might always be, and always be together with that which was born of him. For here it was that we were in perplexity and trouble, how the Eternal Nativity might be understood. So then the Son of God is so called on this principle, that there is the Father also, that He hath One from whom He derives His Being; not on this, that the Father is first in time, and the Son after. The Father always was, the Son always from the Father. And because whatever "is" from another thing, is born, therefore the Son was always born. The Father always was, the image from Him always was; as that image of the shrub was born of the shrub, and if the shrub had always been, the image would also have always been born from the shrub. Thou couldest not find things begotten coeternal with the eternal begetters, but thou hast found things born coeval with those that begat them in time. I understand the Son coeternal with the Eternal who begat Him. For what with regard to things of time is coeval, with regard to things eternal is coeternal.

13. Here there is somewhat for you to consider, Brethren, [3584] as a protection against blasphemies. For it is constantly said, "See thou hast produced certain resemblances; but the brightness which is thrown out from the fire, shines less brilliantly than the fire itself, and the image of the shrub has less proper [3585] subsistence, than that shrub of which it is the image. These instances have a resemblance, but they have not a thorough equality: wherefore they do not seem to be of the same substance." What then shall we say, if any one say, "The Father then is to the Son, such as the brightness is to the fire, and the image to the shrub"? See I have understood the Father to be eternal; and the Son to be coeternal with Him; nevertheless say we that He is as the brightness which is thrown out from and is less brilliant than the fire, or as the image which is reflected from and has less real existence than the shrub? No, but there is a thorough equality. "I do not believe it," he will say, "because thou hast not discovered a resemblance." Well then, believe the Apostle, because he was able to see what I have said. For he says, "He thought it not robbery to be equal with God." [3586] Equality is [3587] perfect likeness in every way. And what said he? "Not robbery." Why? Because that is robbery which belongs to another.

14. Yet from these two comparisons, these two kinds, we may perhaps find in the creature a resemblance whereby we may understand how the Son is both coeternal with the Father, and in no respect less than He. But this we cannot find in one kind of resemblances singly: let us join both kinds together. How both kinds? One, of which they themselves give instances of resemblances, and the other, of which we gave. For they gave instances of resemblances from those things which are born in time, and are preceded in time by them of whom they are born, as man of man. He that is born first is greater in time; but yet man and man, that is of the same substance. For man begets a man, and a horse a horse, and a sheep a sheep. These beget after the same substance, but not after the same time. They are diverse in time, but not in nature diverse. What then do we praise here in this nativity? The equality of nature surely. But what is wanting? The equality of time. Let us retain the one thing which is praised here, that is, the equality of nature. But in the other kind of resemblances, which we gave from the brightness of the fire and the image of the shrub, you find not an equality of nature, you do find an equality of time. What do we praise here? Equality of time. What is wanting? Equality of nature. Join the things which you praise together. For in the creatures there is wanting something which you praise, in the Creator nothing can be wanting: because what you find in the creature, came forth from the Hand of the Creator. What then is there in things coeval? Must not that be given to God which you praise here in? But what is wanting must not be attributed to that Sovereign Majesty, in the which there is no defect. See I offer to you things begetting coeval with things begotten: in these you praise the equality of time, but find fault with the inequality [3588] of nature. What you find fault with, do not attribute to God; what you praise, attribute to Him; so from this kind of resemblances you attribute to Him instead of a cotemporaneousness a coeternity, that the Son may be coeternal with Him of whom He was born. But from the other kind of resemblances, which itself too is a creature of God, and ought to praise the Creator, what do you praise in them? Equality of nature. You had before assigned coeternity by reason of the first distinction; by reason of this last, assign equality; and the nativity of the same substance is complete. For what is more mad, my brethren, than that I should praise the creature in anything which does not exist in the Creator? In man I praise equality of nature, shall I not believe it in Him who made man? That which is born of man is man; shall not that which is born of God, be That which He is of whom He was born? Converse have I none with works which God hath not made. Let then all the works of the Creator praise Him. I find in the one case a cotemporaneousness, I get at the knowledge of a coeternity in the other. In the first I find an equality of nature, I understand an equality of substance in the other. In this then that is "wholly," which in the other case is found in the several parts, and several things. It is then "wholly" here altogether, and not only what is in the creature; I find it wholly here, but as being in the Creator, in so much higher a way, in that the one is visible, the Other Invisible; the one temporal, the Other Eternal; the one changeable, the Other Unchangeable; the one corruptible, the Other Incorruptible. Lastly, in the case of men themselves, what we find, man and man, are two men; here the Father and the Son are One God.

15. I render unspeakable thanks to our Lord God, that He hath vouchsafed, at your prayers, to deliver my infirmity from this most perplexed and difficult place. Yet above all things remember this, that the Creator transcends indescribably whatever we could gather from the creature, whether by the bodily senses, or the thought of the mind. But wouldest thou with the mind reach Him? Purify thy mind, purify thine heart. Make clean the eye whereby That, whatever It be, may be reached. For "blessed are the clean in heart, for they shall see God." [3589] But whilst the heart was not cleansed, what could be provided and granted more mercifully by Him, than that That Word of whom we have spoken so great and so many things, and yet have spoken nothing worthy of Him; that That Word, "by whom all things were made," should become that which we are, that we might be able to attain to That which we are not? For we are not God; but with the mind or the interior eye of the heart we can see God. Our eyes dulled by sins, blinded, enfeebled by infirmity, desire to see; but we are in hope, not yet in possession. We are the children of God. This saith John, who says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" [3590] he who lay on the Lord's Breast, who drew in these secrets from the Bosom of His Heart; he says, "Dearly beloved, we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." [3591] This is promised us.

16. But in order that we may attain, if we cannot yet see God the Word, let us hear the Word made Flesh; seeing we are carnal, let us hear the Word Incarnate. For for this cause came He, for this cause took upon Him our infirmity, that thou mightest be able to receive the strong words of a God bearing thy weakness. And He is truly called "milk." For He giveth milk to infants, that He may give the meat of wisdom to them of riper years. Suck then now with patience, that thou mayest be fed to thy heart's most [3592] eager wish. For how is even the milk, wherewith infants are suckled, made? Was it not solid meat on the table? But the infant is not strong enough to eat the meat which is on the table; what does the mother do? She turns the meat [3593] into the substance of her flesh, and makes milk of it. Makes for us what we may be able to take. So the Word was made Flesh, that we little ones, who were indeed as infants with respect to food, might be nourished by milk. But there is this difference; that when the mother makes the food turned into flesh milk, the food is turned into milk; whereas the Word abiding Itself unchangeably assumed Flesh, that there might be, as it were, a tissue of the two. What He is, He did not corrupt or change, that in thy fashion, He might speak to thee, not transformed and turned into man. For abiding unalterable, unchangeable, and altogether inviolable, He became what thou art in respect of thee, what He is in Himself in respect of the Father.

17. For what doth He say Himself to the infirm, to the end that recovering that sight, they may be able in some measure to reach the Word by whom all things were made? "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, that I am meek and lowly in heart." [3594] What doth the Master, the Son of God, the Wisdom of God, by whom all things were made, proclaim? He calleth the human race, and saith, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and learn of Me." Thou wast thinking haply that the Wisdom of God would say, "Learn how I have made the heavens and the stars; how all things also were numbered in Me before they were made, how by virtue of unchangeable principles [3595] your very hairs were numbered." Didst thou think that Wisdom would say these things, and such as these? No. But first that. "That I am meek and lowly in heart." Lo, see here what ye can comprehend, brethren; it is surely a little thing. We are making our way to great things, let us receive the little things, and we shall be great. Wouldest thou comprehend the height of God? First comprehend the lowliness of God. Condescend to be humble for thine own sake, seeing that God condescended to be humble for thy sake too; for it was not for His own. Comprehend then the lowliness of Christ, learn to be humble, be loth to be proud. Confess thine infirmity, lie patiently before the Physician; when thou shalt have comprehended His lowliness, thou risest with Him; not as though He should rise Himself in that He is the Word; but thou rather, that He may be more and more comprehended by thee. At first thou didst understand falteringly and hesitatingly; afterwards thou wilt understand more surely and more clearly. He doth not increase, but thou makest progress, and He seemeth as it were to rise with thee. So it is, brethren. Believe the commandments of God, and do them, and He will give you the strength of understanding. Do not put the last first, [3596] and, as it were, prefer knowledge to the commandments of God; lest ye be only the lower, and none the more firmly rooted. Consider a tree; first it strikes downwards, that it may grow up on high; fixes its root low in the ground, that it may extend its top to heaven. Does it make an effort to grow except from humiliation? And wouldest thou without charity comprehend these transcendent matters, shoot toward the heaven without a root? This were a ruin, not a growing. With "Christ" then "dwelling in your hearts by faith, be ye rooted and grounded in charity, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God." [3597]

Footnotes

[3575] John i. 3. [3576] Luke ii. 14. [3577] John i. 1. [3578] Ps. civ. 24. [3579] John i. 1. [3580] 2 Cor. xii. 4. [3581] Aura. [3582] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [3583] Wisd. vii. 26. [3584] Propter. [3585] Proprietatem. [3586] Phil. ii. 6. [3587] Conjungitur. [3588] Disparilitatem. [3589] Matt. v. 8. [3590] John i. 1. [3591] 1 John iii. 2. [3592] Avidè. [3593] Incarnat. [3594] Matt. xi. 28, 29. [3595] Rationum. [3596] Præsumatis. [3597] Eph. iii. 17 and 19. .


Sermon LXVIII.

[CXVIII. Ben.]

On the same words of the Gospel, John i., "In the beginning was the word," etc.

1. All ye who are looking for a man's many words, understand the One Word of God, "In the beginning was the Word." [3598] Now, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." [3599] But, "The Word was," since we have heard, "In the beginning God made." Acknowledge we in Him the Creator; for Creator is He who made; and the creature what He made. For no creature which was made "was," as God the Word "was," by whom it was made, always. Now when we heard "The Word was," with whom was It? We understand the Father who did not make nor create the Same Word, but begat Him. For, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." Whereby made He them? "The Word was, and the Word was with God;" [3600] but what kind of Word? Did it sound and so pass away? Was it a mere thought, and motion [3601] of the mind? No. Was it suggested by memory, and uttered? No. What kind of Word then? Why dost thou look for many words from me? "The Word was God." When we hear, "The Word was God," we do not make a second God; but we understand the Son. For the Word is the Son of God. Lo, the Son, and What but God? For "The Word was God." What the Father? God of course. If the Father is God and the Son God, do we make two Gods? God forbid. The Father is God, the Son God; but the Father and the Son One God. For the Only Son of God was not made, but born. "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth;" but the Word was of the Father. Was the Word therefore made by the Father? No. "All things were made by Him." [3602] If by Him all things were made, was He too made by Himself? Do not imagine that He by whom thou hearest all things were made was Himself made among all things. For if He were made Himself, all things were not made by Him, but Himself was made among the rest. You say, "He was made;" what, by Himself? Who can make himself? If then He was made, how by Him were all things made? See, Himself too was made, as you say, not I, for that He was begotten, I do not deny. If then you say that He was made, I ask by what, by whom? By Himself? Then He "was," before He was made, that He might make Himself. But if all things were made by Him, understand that He was not Himself made. If thou art not able to understand, believe, that thou mayest understand. Faith goes before; understanding follows after; since the Prophet says, "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand. [3603] The Word was." Look not for time in Him, by whom times were made. "The Word was." But you say, "There was a time that the Word was not." You say falsely; nowhere do you read this. But I do read for you, "In the beginning was the Word." What look you for before the beginning? But if you should be able to find anything before the beginning, this will be the beginning. He is mad who looks for anything before the beginning. What then doth he say was before the beginning? "In the beginning was the Word."

2. But you will say, "The Father both `was,' and was before the Word." What are you looking for? "In the beginning was the Word." What you find, understand; seek not for what you are not able to find. Nothing is before the beginning. "In the beginning was the Word." The Son is the Brightness of the Father. Of the Wisdom of the Father, which is the Son, it is said, "For He is the brightness of the Everlasting Light." [3604] Are you seeking for a Son without a Father? Give me a light without brightness. If there was a time when the Son was not, the Father was a light obscure. For how was He not an obscure Light, if It had no brightness? So then the Father always, the Son always. If the Father always, the Son always. Do you ask of me, whether the Son were born? I answer, "born." For He would not be a Son if not born. So when I say, the Son always was, I say in fact was always born. And who understands, "Was always born"? Give me an eternal fire, and I will give thee an eternal brightness. We bless God who hath given to us the holy Scriptures. Be ye not blind in the brightness of the light. Brightness is engendered of the Light, and yet the Brightness is Coeternal with the Light that engenders It. The Light always, its Brightness always. It begat Its Own Brightness; but was it ever without Its Brightness? Let God be allowed to beget an eternal Son. I pray you hear of whom we are speaking; hear, mark, believe, understand. Of God are we speaking. We confess and believe the Son coeternal with the Father. But you will say, "When a man begets a Son, he that begets is the elder, and he that is begotten the younger." It is true; in the case of men, he that begets is the elder, and he that is begotten, the younger, and he arrives in time to his father's strength. But why, save that whilst the one grows, the other grows old? Let the father stand still a while, and in his growing the son will follow on him, and you will see him equal. But see, I give you whereby to understand this. Fire engenders a coeval brightness. Among men you only find sons younger, fathers older; you do not find them coeval: but as I have said, I show you brightness coeval with its parent fire. For fire begets brightness, yet is it never without brightness. Since then you see that the brightness is coeval with its fire, suffer God to beget a Coeternal Son. Whoso understandeth, let him rejoice: but whoso understandeth not, let him believe. For the word of the Prophet cannot be disannulled; "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand." [3605]

Footnotes

[3598] John i. 1. [3599] Gen. i. 1. [3600] John i. 1. [3601] Volvebatur. [3602] John i. 3. [3603] Isa. vii. 9, Sept. [3604] Wisd. vii. 26. [3605] Isa. vii. 9, Sept. .


Sermon LXIX.

[CXIX. Ben.]

On the same words, John i. "In the beginning was the word," etc.

1. That our Lord Jesus Christ in seeking lost man was made Man, our preaching has never withholden, and your faith has ever retained; and moreover, that this our Lord, who for our sakes was made Man, was always God with the Father, and always will be, yea rather always Is; for where there is no succession of time, there is no "hath been" and "will be." For that of which it is said, "it hath been," is now no more; that of which it is said, "it will be," is not yet; but He always is, because He truly "is," that is, is unchangeable. For the Gospel lesson has just now taught us a high and divine mystery. For this beginning of the Gospel St. John poured forth [3606] for that he drank it in from the Lord's Breast. For ye remember, that it has been very lately read to you, how that this St. John the Evangelist lay in the Lord's Bosom. [3607] And wishing to explain this clearly, he says, "On the Lord's Breast;" [3608] that we might understand what he meant, by "in the Lord's bosom." For what, think we, did he drink in who was lying on the Lord's Breast? Nay, let us not think, but drink; [3609] for we too have just now heard what we may drink in.

2. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [3610] O glorious preaching! O [3611] the result of the full feast of the Lord's Breast! "In the beginning was the Word." Why seekest thou for what was before It? "In the beginning was the Word." If the Word had been made (for made indeed that was not by which all things were made); if the Word had been made, the Scripture would have said, "In the beginning God made the Word;" as it is said in Genesis, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." [3612] God then did not in the beginning make the Word; because, "In the beginning was the Word." This Word which was in the beginning, where was It? Follow on, "And the Word was with God." But from our daily hearing the words of men we are wont to think lightly of this name of "Word." In this case do not think lightly of the Name of "Word;" "The Word was God. The same," that is the Word, "was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made."

3. Extend your hearts, help the poverty of my words. What I shall be able to express, give ear to; on what I shall not be able to express, meditate. Who can comprehend the abiding Word? All our words sound, and pass away. Who can comprehend the abiding Word, save He who abideth in Him? Wouldest thou comprehend the abiding Word? Do not follow the current of the flesh. For this flesh is indeed a current; for it has none abiding. As it were from a kind of secret fount of nature men are born, they live, they die; or whence they come, or whither they go, we know not. It is a hidden water, till it issue from its source; it flows on, and is seen in its course; and again it is hidden in the sea. Let us despise this stream flowing on, running, disappearing, let us despise it. "All flesh is grass, and all the glory of flesh is as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, the flower falleth away." Wouldest thou endure? "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever." [3613]

4. But in order to succour us, "The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us." [3614] What is, "The Word was made Flesh"? The gold became grass. It became grass for to be burned; the grass was burned, but the gold remained; in the grass It perisheth not, yea, It changed the grass. How did It change it? It raised it up, quickened it, lifted it up to heaven, and placed it at the right Hand of the Father. But that it might be said, "And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us," let us recollect awhile what went before. "He came unto His Own, and His Own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." "To become," for they "were" not; but He "was" Himself in the beginning. "He gave them" then "power to become the sons of God, to them that believe in His Name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." [3615] Lo, born they are, in whatever age of the flesh they may be; ye see infants; see and rejoice. Lo, they are born; but they are born of God. Their mother's womb is the water of baptism.

5. Let no man in poorness of soul entertain this conceit, and turn over such most beggarly thoughts in his mind, and say to himself, "How `in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: all things were made by Him;' and lo, `the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us?'" Hear why it was done. "To those" we know "who believed on Him He hath given power to become the sons of God." Let not those then to whom He hath given power to become the sons of God, think it impossible to become the sons of God. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Do not imagine that it is too great a thing for you to become the sons of God; for your sakes He became the Son of man, who was the Son of God. If He was made, that He might be less, who was more; can He not bring it to pass, that of that less which we were, we may be something more? He descended to us, and shall not we ascend to Him? For us He accepted our death, and shall He not give us His Life? For thee He suffered thy evil things, and shall He not give thee His good things?

6. "But how," one will say, "can it be, that the Word of God, by whom the world is governed, by whom all things both were, and are created, should contract Himself into the womb of a Virgin; should abandon the world, and leave the Angels, and be shut up in one woman's womb?" Thou skillest not to conceive of things divine. The Word of God (I am speaking to thee, O man, I am speaking to thee of the omnipotence of the Word of God) could surely do all, seeing that the Word of God is omnipotent, at once remain with the Father, and come to us; at once in the flesh come forth to us, and lay concealed in Him. For He would not the less have been, if He had not been born of flesh. He "was" before His own flesh; He created His Own mother. He chose her in whom He should be conceived, He created her of whom He should be created. Why marvellest thou? It is God of whom I am speaking to thee: "The Word was God."

7. I am treating of the Word, and perchance the word of men may furnish somewhat like; though very unequal, far distant, in no way comparable, yet something which may convey a hint to you by way of resemblance. Lo, the word which I am speaking to you, I have had previously in my heart: it came forth to thee, yet it has not departed from me; that began to be in thee, which was not in thee; it continued with me when it went forth to thee. As then my word was brought forth to thy sense, yet did not depart from my heart; so That Word came forth to our senses, yet departed not from His Father. My word was with me, and it came forth into a voice: the Word of God was with the Father, and came forth into Flesh. But can I do with my voice that which He could do with His Flesh? For I am not master [3616] of my voice as it flies; He is not only master of His Flesh, that It should be born, live, act; but even when dead He raised It up, and exalted unto the Father the Vehicle as it were in which He came forth to us. You may call the Flesh of Christ a Garment, you may call It a Vehicle, and as perchance Himself vouchsafed to teach us, you may call It His Beast; for on this beast He raised him who had been wounded by robbers; [3617] lastly, as He said Himself more expressly, you may call It a Temple; This Temple knows death no more, Its seat is at the right Hand of the Father: in This Temple shall He come to judge the quick and dead. What He hath by precept taught, He hath by example manifested. What He hath in His own Flesh shown, that oughtest thou to hope for in thy flesh. This is faith; hold fast what as yet thou seest not. Need there is, that by believing thou abide firm in that thou seest not; lest when thou shalt see, thou be put to shame.

Footnotes

[3606] Ructuavit. [3607] John xiii. 23. [3608] John xiii. 25. [3609] Non putemus sed potemus. [3610] John i. 1. [3611] Saginam Dominici pertoris eructuare. [3612] Gen. i. 1. [3613] Isa. xl. 6, 7, Sept.; 1 Pet. i. 24, 25. [3614] John i. 14. [3615] John i. 11-14. [3616] Tenere. [3617] Luke x. 30. .


Sermon LXX.

[CXX. Ben.]

On the same words of John i., "In the beginning was the word," etc.

1. The beginning of John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word." [3618] Thus he begins, this he saw, and transcending the whole creation, mountains, air, the heavens, the stars, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Powers, all Angels, and Archangels, transcending all; he saw the Word in the beginning, and drank It in. He saw above every creature, he drank in from the Lord's breast. For this same St. John the Evangelist is he whom Jesus specially loved; insomuch that he lay on His Breast at supper. There was this secret, that therefrom might be drunk in, what in the Gospel was to be poured forth. Happy they who hear and understand. Of the next degree of blessedness are they who though they understand not, believe. For how great a thing it is to see This Word of God, who can explain in human words?

2. Lift up your hearts, my Brethren, lift them up as best ye can; whatsoever occurs to you from the idea of any body whatsoever, reject. If the Word of God occurs to you under the idea of the light of this sun, expand, extend how you will, set no bounds in your thought to that light; it is nothing to the Word of God. Whatsoever of this sort the mind conceives, is less in one part than in the whole. Of theWord conceive as Whole everywhere. Understand ye what I say; because of my stress of time I am limiting myself as much as I can for your sakes. Understand ye what I say. Lo, this light from heaven, which is called by the name of the sun, when it comes forth, it enlightens the earth, unfolds the day, develops forms, distinguishes colours. Great blessing it is, great gift of God to all mortal men; let His works magnify Him. If the sun is so beauteous, what more beauteous than the sun's Maker? And yet look, Brethren; lo, he pours his rays through the whole earth; penetrates open places, the closed resist him; he sends his light through windows; can he also through a wall? To the Word of God all is open, from the Word of God nothing is hid. Observe another difference, how far from the Creator is the creature, especially the bodily creature. When the sun is in the East, it is not in the West. Its light indeed shed from that vast body reaches even to the West; but itself is not there. When it begins to set, then it will be there. When it rises, it is in the East; when it sets it is in the West. By these operations of his, it has given name to those quarters. Because it is in the East when it rises at the East, it has made it be called the Rising Sun; because it is at the West when it sets at the West, it has made it be called the Setting Sun. At night it is nowhere seen. Is the Word of God so? When It is in the East, is It not in the West; or when It is in the West, is It not in the East? or does It ever leave the earth, and go under or behind the earth? It is Whole everywhere. Who can in words explain this? Who see it? By what means of proof shall I establish to you what I say? I am speaking as a man, it is to men I speak; I am speaking as one weak, to men weaker am I speaking. And yet, my brethren, I am bold to say that I do in some sort see what I am saying to you, though "through a glass," or "darkly," I do in some sort understand even within my heart a word touching this thing. But it seeks to go forth to you, and finds no meet vehicle. The vehicle of the word is the sound of the voice. What I am saying within mine own self I seek to say to you, and words fail. For I wish to speak of the Word of God. How great a Word, what kind of Word? "All things were made by Him." [3619] See the works, and stand in awe of the Worker. "All things were made by Him."

3. Return with me, O human infirmity, return, I say. Let us comprehend these human things if we can. We are men, I who speak, I am a man, and to men I speak, and utter the sound of my voice. I convey the sound of my voice to men's ears, and by the sound of my voice I somehow through the ear lay up understanding also in the heart. Let us then speak on this point what and how we can, let us comprehend it. But if we have not ability to comprehend even this, in respect of the Other what are we? Lo, ye are listening to me; I am speaking a word. If any one goes out from us, and is asked outside what is being done here, he answers, "The Bishop is speaking a word." I am speaking a word of the Word. But what a word, of what a Word? A mortal word, of the Word Immortal; a changeable word, of the Word Unchangeable; a passing word of the Word Eternal. Nevertheless, consider my word. For I have told you already, the Word of God is Whole everywhere. See, I am speaking a word to you; what I say reaches to all. Now that what I am saying might come to you all, did ye divide what I say? If I , were to feed you, to wish to fill not your minds, but your bodies, and to set loaves before you to be satisfied therewith; would ye not divide my loaves among you? Could my loaves come to every one of you? If they came to one only, the rest would have none. But now see, I am speaking, and ye all receive. Nay, not only all receive, but all receive it whole. It comes whole to all, to each whole. O the marvels of my word! What then is the Word of God? Hear again. I have spoken; what I have spoken, has gone forth to you, and has not gone away from me. It has reached to you, and has not been separated from me. Before I spake, I had it, and ye had not; I spake, and ye began to have, and I lost nothing. O the marvel of my word! What then is the Word of God? From little things form conjectures of things great. Consider earthly things, laud the heavenly. I am a creature, ye are creatures; and such great miracles are done with my word in my heart, in my mouth, in my voice, in your ears, in your hearts. What then is the Creator? O Lord, hear us. Make us, for that Thou hast made us. Make us good, for that Thou hast made us enlightened men. These white-robed, enlightened ones hear Thy word by me. For enlightened by Thy grace they stand before Thee. "This is the day which the Lord hath made." [3620] Only let them labour, let them pray for this, that when these days shall have gone by, they may not become darkness, who have been made the light of the wonders and the blessings of God.

Footnotes

[3618] John i. 1. [3619] John i. 3. [3620] Ps. cxviii. 24. .


Sermon LXXI.

[CXXI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John i. 10, "The world was made through him," etc.

1. By the Lord "was the world made, and the world knew Him not." [3621] What world was made by Him, what world knew Him not? For it is not the same world that was made by Him, which knew Him not. What is the world that was made by Him? The heaven and earth. How did not the heaven know Him, when at His Passion the sun was darkened? How did not the earth know Him, when as He hung upon the Cross, it quaked? But "the world knew Him not," whose Prince he is, of whom it is said, "Behold, the prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in me." [3622] Wicked men are called the world; unbelieving men are called the world. They have gotten their name from that they love. By the love of God we are made gods; so by the love of the world, we are called the world. But "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." [3623] "The world" then "knew Him not." What? "all men?"

2. "He came unto His Own, and His Own received Him not." [3624] All things are His, but they are called His Own, from among whom His mother was, among whom He had taken Flesh, to whom He had sent before the heralds of His advent, to whom He had given the law, whom He had delivered from the Egyptian bondage, whose father Abraham according to the flesh He elected. For He said truth, "Before Abraham was, I am." [3625] He did not say, "Before Abraham was," or "before Abraham was made, I was made." For "in the beginning the Word was," not, "was made." So then "He came unto His Own," He came to the Jews. "And His Own received Him not."

3. "But as many as received Him." [3626] For of course the Apostles were there, who "received Him." There were they who carried branches before His beast. They went before and followed after, and spread their garments, and cried with a loud voice, "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is He That cometh in the Name of the Lord." [3627] Then said the Pharisees unto Him, "Restrain the children, that they cry not out so unto Thee." And He said, "If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out." [3628] Us He saw when He spake these words; "If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out." Who are stones, but they who worship stones? If the Jewish children shall hold their peace, the elder and the younger Gentiles shall cry out. Who are the stones, but they of whom speaketh that very John, who came "to bear witness of the Light"? [3629] For when he saw these self-same Jews priding themselves on their birth from Abraham, he said to them, "O generation of vipers." [3630] They called themselves the children of Abraham; and he addressed them, "O generation of vipers." Did he do Abraham wrong? God forbid! He gave them a name from their character. For that if they were the children of Abraham, they would imitate Abraham; as He too telleth them who say to Him, "We be free, and were never in bondage to any man; we have Abraham for our father." And He said, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the deeds of Abraham. Ye wish to kill Me, because I tell you the truth. This did not Abraham." [3631] Ye were of his stock, but ye are a degenerate stock. So then what said John? "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Because they came to be baptized with the baptism of John unto repentance. "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. And say not in your hearts, We have Abraham to our father. For God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." [3632] For God is able of these stones which he saw in the Spirit; to them he spake; he foresaw us; "For God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Of what stones? "If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out." Ye have just now heard, and cried out. It is fulfilled, "The stones shall cry out." For from among the Gentiles we came, in our forefathers we worshipped stones. Therefore are we called dogs too. Call to mind what that woman heard who cried out after the Lord, for she was a Canaanitish woman, a worshipper of idols, the handmaid of devils. What said Jesus to her? "It is not good to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." [3633] Have ye never noticed, how dogs will lick the greasy stones? So are all the worshippers of images. But grace has come to you. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." See ye have here some just now born: to them hath He "given power to become the sons of God." To whom hath He given it? "To them that believe in His Name."

4. And how do they become the sons of God? "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God." [3634] Having received power to become the sons of God, they are born of God. Mark then: They are born of God, "not of blood," like their first birth, like that wretched birth, issuing out of wretchedness. But they who are born of God, what were they? whereby were they first born? Of blood; of the joint blood of the male and female, of the carnal union of male and female, from this were they born. From whence now? They are born of God. The first birth of the male and female; the second birth of God and the Church.

5. Lo, they are born of God; whereby is it brought to pass that they should be born of God, who were first born of men? Whereby is it brought to pass, whereby? "And the Word was made Flesh, that It might dwell among us." [3635] Wondrous exchange; He made Flesh, they spirit. What is this? What condescension is here, my brethren! Lift up your minds to the hope and comprehension of better things. Give not yourselves up to worldly desires. "Ye have been bought with a Price;" [3636] for your sakes the Word was made Flesh; for your sakes He who was the Son of God, was made the Son of man: that ye who were the sons of men, might be made sons of God. What was He, what was He made? What were ye, what were ye made? He was the Son of God. What was He made? The Son of man. Ye were the sons of men. What were ye made? The sons of God. He shared with us our evil things, to give us His good things. But even in that He was made the Son of man, He is different much from us. We are the sons of men by the lust of the flesh; He the Son of man by the faith of a virgin. The mother of any other man whatever conceives by a carnal union; and every one is born of human parents, his father and his mother. But Christ was born of the Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mary. He came to us, but from Himself departed not far; yea from Himself as God He departed never; but added what He was to our nature. For He came to that which He was not, He did not lose what He was. He was made the Son of man; but did not cease to be the Son of God. Hereby the Mediator, in the middle. What is, "in the middle"? Neither up above, nor down below. How neither up above, nor down below? Not above, since He is Flesh; not below, since He is not a sinner. But yet in so far as He is God, above always. For He did not so come to us, as to leave the Father. From us He went, and did not leave us; to us will He come again, and will not leave Him.

Footnotes

[3621] John i. 10. [3622] John xiv. 30. [3623] 2 Cor v. 19. [3624] John i. 11. [3625] John viii. 58. [3626] John i. 12. [3627] Matt. xxi. 9. [3628] Luke xix. 39, 40. [3629] John i. 8. [3630] Matt. iii. 7. [3631] John viii. 39, 40. [3632] Luke iii. 7, 8. [3633] Matt. xv. 26. [3634] John i. 13. [3635] John i. 14. [3636] 1 Cor. vi. 20. .


Sermon LXXII.

[CXXII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John i. 48,"When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee," etc.

1. What we have heard said by the Lord Jesus Christ to Nathanael, if we understand it aright, does not concern him only. For our Lord Jesus saw the whole human race under the fig-tree. For in this place it is understood that by the fig-tree He signified sin. Not that it always signifies this, but as I have said in this place, in that fitness of significancy, in which ye know that the first man, when he sinned, covered himself with fig leaves. For with these leaves they covered their nakedness when they blushed for their sin; [3637] and what God had made them for members, they made for themselves occasions of shame. For they had no need to blush for the work of God; but the cause of sin preceded shame. If iniquity had not gone before, nakedness would never have been put to the blush. For "they were naked, and were not ashamed." [3638] For they had committed nothing to be ashamed for. But why have I said all this? That we may understand that by the fig-tree sin is signified. What then is, "when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee"? [3639] When thou wast under sin, I saw thee. And Nathanael looking back upon what had occurred, remembered that he had been under a fig-tree, where Christ was not. He was not there, that is, by His Bodily Presence; but by His knowledge in the Spirit where is He not? And because he knew that he was under the fig-tree alone, where the Lord Christ was not; when He said to him, "When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee;" he both acknowledged the Divinity in Him, and cried out, "Thou art the King of Israel." [3640]

2. The Lord said, "Because I said unto thee, I saw thee when thou wast under the fig-tree, marvellest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these." [3641] What are these greater things? And He said, "Ye shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." [3642] Let us call to mind the old story written in the sacred Book. I mean in Genesis. [3643] When Jacob slept at a certain place, he put a stone at his head; and in his sleep he saw a ladder reaching from earth even unto heaven; and the Lord was resting upon it; and Angels were ascending and descending by it. This did Jacob see. A man's dream would not have been recorded, had not some great mystery been figured in it, had not some great prophecy been to be understood in that vision. Accordingly, Jacob himself, because he understood what he had seen, placed a stone there, and anointed it with oil. Now ye recognise the anointing; recognise The Anointed also. For He is "the Stone which the builders rejected; He was made the Head of the corner." [3644] He is the Stone of which Himself said, "Whosoever shall stumble against This Stone shall be shaken; but on whomsoever That Stone shall fall, It will crush him." [3645] It is stumbled against as It lies on the earth; but It will fall on him, when He shall come from on high to judge the quick and dead. Woe to the Jews, for that when Christ lay low in His humility, they stumbled against Him. "This Man," say they, "is not of God, because He breaketh the sabbath day." [3646] "If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the cross." [3647] Madman, the Stone lies on the ground, and so thou deridest It. But since thou dost deride It, thou art blind; since thou art blind, thou stumblest; since thou stumblest, thou art shaken; since thou hast been shaken by It as It now lies on the ground, hereafter shall thou be crushed by It as It fails from above. Therefore Jacob anointed the stone. Did he make an idol of it? He showed [3648] a meaning in it, but did not adore it. Now then give ear, attend to this Nathanael, by the occasion of whom the Lord Jesus hath been pleased to explain to us Jacob's vision.

3. Ye that are well instructed in the school of Christ, know that this Jacob is Israel too. They are two names; for they are one man. His first name Jacob, which is by interpretation supplanter, he received when he was born. For when those twins were born, his brother Esau was born first; and the hand of the younger was found on the elder's foot. [3649] He held his brother's foot who preceded him in his birth, and himself came after. And because of this occurrence, because he held his brother's heel, [3650] he was called Jacob, that is, Supplanter. And afterwards, when he was returning from Mesopotamia, the Angel wrestled with him in the way. [3651] What comparison can there be between an Angel's and a man's strength? Therefore it is a mystery, a sacrament, a prophecy, a figure; let us therefore understand it. For consider the manner of the struggle too. While he wrestleth, Jacob prevailed against the Angel. Some high meaning is here. And when the man had prevailed against the Angel, he kept hold of Him; yes, the man kept hold of Him whom he had conquered. And said to Him, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." [3652] When the conqueror was blessed by the Conquered, Christ was figured. So then that Angel, who is understood to be the Lord Jesus, saith to Jacob, "Thou shalt not be any more called Jacob, but Israel shall thy name be," [3653] which is by interpretation, "Seeing God." After this He touched the sinew of his thigh, the broad part, that is, of the thigh, and it dried up; and Jacob became lame. Such was He who was conquered. So great power had this Conquered One, as to touch the thigh, and make lame. It was then with His Own will that He was conquered. For He "had power to lay down" His strength, "and He had power to take It up." [3654] He is not angry at being conquered, for He is not angry at being crucified. For He even blessed him, saying, "Thou shalt not be called Jacob, but Israel." Then the "supplanter" was made "the seer of God." And He touched, as I have said, his thigh, and made him lame. Observe in Jacob the people of the Jews, those thousands who followed and went before the Lord's beast, who in concert with the Apostles worshipped the Lord, and cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." [3655] Behold Jacob blessed. He has continued lame until now in them who are at this day Jews. For the broad part of the thigh signifies the multitude of increase. Of whom the Psalm, when it prophesied that the Nations should believe, speaketh, saying, "A people whom I have not known, hath served Me; by the hearing of the ear it hath obeyed Me." [3656] I was not there, and I was heard; here I was, and I was killed. "A people whom I have not known, hath served Me; by the hearing of the ear it hath obeyed Me." Therefore, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." [3657] And it goes on, "The strange children have lied unto Me;" concerning the Jews. "The strange children have lied unto Me, the strange children have faded away and have halted from their paths." I have pointed out Jacob to you, Jacob blessed and Jacob lame.

4. But as arising out of this occasion, this must not be passed over, which may haply of itself perplex some of you; with what design is it, that when this Jacob's grandfather Abraham's name was changed (for he too was first called Abram, and God changed his name, and said, "Thou shall not be called Abram, but Abraham" [3658] ); from that time he was not called Abram. Search in the Scriptures, and you will see that before he received another name, he was called only Abram; after he received it, he was called only Abraham. But this Jacob, when he received another name, heard the same words, "Thou shalt not be called Jacob, but Israel shalt thou be called." [3659] Search the Scriptures, and see how that he was always called both, both Jacob and Israel. Abram after he had received another name, was called only Abraham. Jacob after he had received another name, was called both Jacob and Israel. The name of Abraham was to be developed in this world; for here he was made the father of many nations, whence he received his name. But the name of Israel relates to another world, where we shall see God. Therefore the people of God, the Christian people in this present time, is both Jacob and Israel, Jacob in fact, Israel in hope. For the younger people is called the Supplanter of its brother the elder people. What! have we supplanted the Jews? No, but we are said to be their supplanters, for that for our sakes they were supplanted. If they had not been blinded, Christ would not have been crucified; His precious Blood would not have been shed; if that Blood had not been shed, the world would not have been redeemed. Because then their blindness hath profited us, therefore hath the elder brother been supplanted by the younger, and the younger is called the Supplanter. But how long shall this be?

5. The time will come, the end of the world will come, and all Israel shall believe; not they who now are, but their children who shall then be. For these present walking in their own ways, will go to their own place, will pass on to everlasting damnation. But when they shall have been made all one people, that shall come to pass which we sing, "I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall be manifested." [3660] When the promise which is made to us, that we "see face to face," shall come. "Now we see through a glass darkly," and "in part;" [3661] but when both people, now purified, now raised again, now crowned, now changed into an immortal form, and into everlasting incorruption, shall see God face to face, and Jacob shall be no more, but there shall be Israel only; then shall the Lord see him in the person of this holy Nathanael, and shall say, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." [3662] When thou dost hear, "Behold an Israelite indeed;" let Israel come into thy mind; when Israel shall come into thy mind, let his dream come into thy mind, in which he saw a ladder from earth even to heaven, the Lord standing upon it, the Angels of God ascending and descending. This dream did Jacob see. But after this he was called Israel; that is, some little time after as he came from Mesopotamia, and on his journey. If then Jacob saw the ladder, and he is also called Israel; and this Nathanael is an "Israelite indeed in whom is no guile;" therefore when he wondered because the Lord. said to him, "I saw thee under the fig-tree;" [3663] did He say to him, "Thou shalt see greater things than these." [3664] And so He announced to him Jacob's dream. To whom did He announce it? To him whom He called "an Israelite, in whom was no guile." As if He had said, "His dream, by whose name I have called thee, shall be manifested in thee; make no haste to wonder, "thou shalt see greater things than these. Ye shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending unto the Son of Man." [3665] See what Jacob saw; see why Jacob anointed the stone with oil; see why Jacob prophetically signified and prefigured the Anointed One. For that action was a prophecy.

6. Now I know what you are waiting for; I understand what you would hear from me. This too will I briefly declare, as the Lord enableth me; "ascending and descending unto the Son of Man." How--if they descend to Him, He is here; if they ascend to Him, He is above. But if they ascend to Him, and descend toHim, He is at once above and here. It cannot any way possibly be, that they should ascend to Him, and descend to Him, unless He be both there whither they ascend, and here whither they descend--How do we prove that He is both there, and that He is here? Let Paul, who was first Saul, answer us. He found it by experience, when he was first a persecutor, and afterwards became a preacher; first Jacob, afterwards Israel; who was himself too "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin." [3666] In him let us see Christ above, Christ below. First, the very Voice of the Lord from heaven shows this; "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" [3667] What! had Paul ascended into heaven? Had Paul so much as cast a stone into heaven? He was persecuting the Christians, binding them, haling them to be put to death, searching them out in every place where they lay hid, when they were found on no consideration sparing them. To whom the Lord Christ saith, "Saul, Saul." Whence crieth He? From heaven. Therefore He is above. "Why persecutest thou Me?" Therefore He is below. Thus have I explained all, though briefly, yet as well as I could to you, Beloved. I have ministered to you according to my duty, and now for your duty, do ye think upon the poor. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[3637] Gen. iii. 7. [3638] Gen. ii. 25. [3639] John i. 48. [3640] John i. 49. [3641] John i. 50. [3642] John i. 51. [3643] Gen. xxviii. 11. [3644] Ps. cxviii. 22. [3645] Matt. xxi. 44. [3646] John ix. 16. [3647] Matt. xxvii. 40. [3648] Significavit. [3649] Gen. xxv. 25, 26. [3650] Plantam. [3651] Gen. xxxii. 24. [3652] Gen. xxxii. 26. [3653] Gen. xxxv. 10. [3654] John x. 18. [3655] Matt. xxi. 9. [3656] Ps. xvii. 43, 44, Sept. (xviii. 43, 44, English version). [3657] Rom. x. 17. [3658] Gen. xvii. 5. [3659] Gen. xxxii. 28, xxxv. 10. [3660] Ps. xvi. 15, Sept. (xvii. 15, English version). [3661] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [3662] John i. 47. [3663] John i. 48. [3664] John i. 50. [3665] John i. 51. [3666] Phil. iii. 5. [3667] Acts ix. 4. .


Sermon LXXIII.

[CXXIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John ii. 2, "and Jesus also was bidden, and his disciples, to the marriage."

1. Ye know, Brethren, for ye have learnt it as believing in Christ, and continually too do we by our ministry impress it upon you, that the humility of Christ is the medicine of man's swollen pride. For man would not have perished, had he not been swollen up through pride. For "pride," as saith the Scripture, "is the beginning of all sin." [3668] Against the beginning of sin, the beginning of righteousness was necessary. If then pride be the beginning of all sin, whereby should the swelling of pride be cured, had not God vouchsafed to humble Himself? Let man blush to be proud, seeing that God hath humbled Himself. For when man is told to humble himself, he disdains it; and when men are injured, it is pride that makes them wish to be avenged. Forasmuch as they disdain to humble themselves, they wish to be avenged; as if another's punishment could be any profit to any man. One who has been hurt and suffered wrong wishes to be avenged; he seeks his own remedy from another's punishment, and gains a great torment. The Lord Christ therefore vouchsafed to humble Himself in all things, showing us the way; if we but think meet to walk thereby.

2. Among His other acts, lo, the Virgin's Son comes to the marriage; who being with the Father instituted marriage. As the first woman, by whom came sin, was made of a man without a woman; so the Man by whom sin was done away, was made of a woman without a man. By the first we fell, by the other we rise. And what did He at this marriage? Of water He made wine. What greater sign of power? He who had power to do such things, vouchsafed to be in need. He who made of water wine could also have of stones made bread. The power was the same; but then the devil tempted Him, therefore Christ did it not. For ye know that when the Lord Christ was tempted, the devil suggested this to Him. For He was an hungred, since this too He vouchsafed to be, since this too made part of His Humiliation. The Bread was hungry, as the Way fainted, as saving Health was wounded, as the Life died. When then He was an hungred as ye know, the tempter said to Him, "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." [3669] And He made answer to the tempter, teaching thee to answer the tempter. For to this end does the general fight, that the soldiers may learn. What answer did He make? "Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." [3670] And He did not make bread of the stones, who of course could as easily have done it, as He made of water wine. For it is an exercise of the same power to make bread of stone; but He did it not, that He might despise the tempter's will. For no otherwise is the tempter overcome, but by being despised. And when He had overcome the devil's temptation, "Angels came and ministered to Him." [3671] He then who had so great power, why did He not do the one, and do the other? Read, yea, recollect what thou hast just heard, when He did this, when, that is, He made of the water wine; what did the Evangelist add? "And His disciples believed on Him." [3672] Would the devil on the other occasion have believed on Him?

3. He then who could do so great things, was hungry, and athirst, was wearied, slept, was apprehended, beaten, crucified, slain. This is the way; walk by humility, that thou mayest come to eternity. Christ-God is the Country whither we go; Christ-Man is the Way whereby we go. To Him we go, by Him we go; why fear we lest we go astray? He departed not from the Father; and came to us. He sucked the breasts, and He contained the world. He lay in the manger, and He fed the Angels. God and Man, the same God who is Man, the same Man who is God. But not God in that wherein He is Man, God, in that He is the Word; Man, in that the Word was made Flesh; by at once continuing to be God, and by assuming man's Flesh; by adding what He was not, not losing what He was. Therefore henceforward, having now suffered in this His humiliation, dead, and buried, He has now risen again, and ascended into heaven, there He is, and sitteth at the right Hand of the Father: and here He is needy in His poor. Yesterday too I set this forth to your Affection by occasion of what He said to Nathanael, "Thou shalt see a greater thing than this. For I say unto you, Ye shall see Heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending unto the Son of Man." [3673] We searched out what this meant, and spake at some length; must we recapitulate the same to-day? Let those who were present remember; yet I will briefly run over it.

4. He would not say, "ascending unto the Son of Man," unless He were above; He would not say, "descending unto the Son of Man," unless He were also below. He is at once above, and below; above in Himself, below in His; above with the Father, below in us. Whence also was that Voice to Saul, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" [3674] He would not say, "Saul, Saul," unless that He was above. But Saul was not persecuting Him above. He then who was above would not have said, "Why persecutest thou me?" unless He were below also. Fear Christ above; recognise Him below. Have Christ above bestowing His bounty, recognise Him here in need. Here He is poor, there He is rich. That Christ is poor here, He tells us Himself for me, "I was an hungred, I was thirsty, I was naked, I was a stranger, I was in prison." [3675] And to some He said, "Ye have ministered unto Me," and to some He said, "Ye have not ministered unto Me." Lo, we have proved Christ poor; that Christ is Rich, who knows not? And even here it was a property of these riches to turn the water into wine. If he who has wine is rich, how rich is He who maketh wine? So then Christ is rich and poor; as God, rich; as Man, poor. Yea rich too now as Very Man He hath ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right Hand of the Father; yet still He is poor and hungry here, thirsty, and naked.

5. What art thou? Rich, or poor? Many tell me, I am poor; and they tell the truth. I recognise some poor having something, and some having want. But some have much gold and silver. O that they would acknowledge themselves poor! Poor they will acknowledge themselves, if they acknowledge the poor about them. For how is it? How much soever thou hast, thou rich man whosoever thou art, thou art God's beggar. The hour of prayer comes, and there I prove thee. Thou makest thy petition. How art thou not poor, who makest thy petition? I say more, Thou makest petition for bread. Wilt thou not have to say, "Give us our daily bread"? [3676] Thou, who askest for daily bread, art thou poor, or rich? And yet Christ saith to thee, "Give Me of that which I have given thee. For what didst thou bring here, when thou camest hither? All things that I created, thyself created hast found here; nothing didst thou bring, nothing shalt thou take away. Why wilt thou not give Me of Mine Own? For thou art full, and the poor man is empty. Look at your first origin; naked were ye both born. Thou too then wast born naked. Great store hast thou found here; didst thou bring ought with thee? I ask for Mine Own; give, and I will repay. Thou hast found Me a bountiful giver, make Me at once thy debtor. It is not enough to say, `Thou hast found Me a bountiful giver, make Me at once thy debtor;' let Me regard thee as lending upon interest. Thou givest me but little, I will repay more. Thou givest me earthly things, I will repay heavenly. Thou givest me temporal things, I will restore eternal. I will restore thee to thyself, when I shall have restored thee unto Me."

Footnotes

[3668] Ecclus. x. 13. [3669] Matt. iv. 3. [3670] Matt. iv. 4. [3671] Matt. iv. 11. [3672] John ii. 11. [3673] John i. 50, 51. [3674] Acts ix. 4. [3675] Matt. xxv. 35, etc. [3676] Matt. vi. 11. .


Sermon LXXIV.

[CXXIV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John v. 2, "Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool," etc.

1. The lesson of the Gospel has just sounded in our ears, and made us intent to know what is the meaning of what has been read. This, I suppose, is looked for from me, this I promise, by the Lord's assistance, to explain as well as I can. For without doubt it is not without a meaning, that those miracles were done, and something they figured out to us bearing on eternal saving [3677] health. For the health of the body which was restored to this man, of how long duration was it? "For what is your life?" saith Holy Scripture; "it is a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." [3678] Therefore in that health was restored to this man's body for a time, some enduringness was restored to a vapour. So then this is not to be valued much; "Vain is the health of man." [3679] And, brethren, recollect that Prophetical and Evangelical testimony, for it is read in the Gospel; "All flesh is grass, and all the glory of flesh as the flower of grass; the grass withereth, the flower falleth away, the Word of the Lord endureth for ever." [3680] The Word of the Lord communicateth glory even to the grass, and no transitory glory; for even to flesh He giveth immortality.

2. But first passeth away the tribulation of this life, out of which He giveth us help, to whom we have said, "Give us help from tribulation." [3681] And all this life is indeed a tribulation to the understanding. For there are two tormentors of the soul, torturing it not at once, but alternating their tortures. These two tormentors' names are, Fear and Sorrow. When it is well with thee, thou art in fear; when it is ill, thou art in sorrow. This world's prosperity, whom doth it not deceive, its adversity not break? In this grass, and in the days of grass, the surer way must be kept to, the Word of God. For when it had been said, "All flesh is grass, and all the glory of flesh as the flower of grass, the grass withereth, the flower falleth away;" as though we should ask, "What hope has grass? what stability the flower of grass?" it is said, "but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever." And whence, you will say, is that Word to me? "The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us." [3682] For the Word of the Lord saith to thee, "Do not reject My promise, for I have not rejected thy grass." This then that the Word of the Lord hath granted to us, that we might hold to Him, that we might not pass away with the flower of grass; this, I say, that He hath granted to us, that the Word should be made Flesh, taking Flesh, not changed into flesh, abiding, and assuming, abiding what He was, assuming what He was not; this, I say, that He hath granted to us, that pool also signifies. [3683]

3. I am speaking briefly. That water was the Jewish people; the five porches were the Law. For Moses wrote five books. Therefore was the water enclosed by five porches as that people was held in by the Law. The troubling of the water is the Lord's Passion among that people. He who descended was healed, and only one; for this is unity. Whosoever are offended at the Passion of Christ are proud; they will not descend, they are not healed. And, say they, "Am I to believe that God was Incarnate, that God was born of a woman, that God was crucified, scourged, dead, wounded, buried?" Be it far from me to believe this of God, it is unworthy of Him. Let the heart speak, not the neck. To the proud the humiliation of the Lord seems unworthy of Him, therefore is saving health from such far off. Lift not thyself up; if thou wouldest be made whole, descend. Well might piety be alarmed, if Christ in the flesh subject to change were only spoken of. But now the truth sets forth to thee, Christ Unchangeable in His Nature as the Word. For, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God;" not a word to sound, and so pass away; for "the Word was God." [3684] So then thy God endureth unchangeable. O true piety; thy God endureth, fear not; He doth not perish, and through Him, thou too dost not perish. He endureth, He is born of a woman, but in the Flesh. The Word made even His Mother. He who was before He was made, made her in whom He was to be made Himself. He was an infant, but in the Flesh. He sucked, He grew, He took nourishment, He ran through the several stages of life, He came to man's estate, but in the Flesh. He was wearied, and He slept, but in the Flesh. He suffered hunger and thirst, but in the Flesh. He was apprehended, bound, scourged, assailed with railings, crucified finally, and killed, but in the Flesh. Why art thou alarmed? "The Word of the Lord endureth for ever." Whoso rejecteth this humiliation of God, doth not wish for healing from the deadly swelling of pride.

4. So then by His Flesh did the Lord Jesus Christ grant hope to our flesh. For He took on Him what we knew well in this earth, what aboundeth here, to be born, and to die. To be born and to die, abounded here; to rise again and to live for ever, was not here. Poor earthly merchandize found He here, He brought here strange and heavenly. If thou art alarmed at death, love the resurrection. He hath given thee help out of tribulation; for vain thy health had ever been. Let us acknowledge therefore and love the saving health in this world strange, that is, health everlasting, and live we in this world as strangers. Let us think that we are but passing away, so shall we be sinning less. Let us rather give thanks to our Lord God, that He hath been pleased that the last day of this life should be both near and uncertain. From the earliest infancy even to decrepit old age, it is but a short span. If Adam had died to-day, what would it have profited him, that he had lived so long? What "long time" is there in that in which there is an end? No one recalleth yesterday; to-day is pressed on by to-morrow, that it may pass away. In this little span let us live well, that we may go whence we may not pass away. And now even as we are talking, we are indeed passing away. Our words run on, and the hours fly by; so does our age, so our actions, so our honours, so our misery, so our happiness here below. All passeth away, but let us not be alarmed; "The Word of God endureth for ever." Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[3677] Throughout this chapter there is the double meaning in the original of salus for "health" and "salvation." [3678] Jas. iv. 14. [3679] Ps. lx. 11. [3680] Isa. xl. 6, 7; Jas. i. 10; 1 Pet. i. 24, 25. [3681] Ps. lx. 11. [3682] John i. 14. [3683] John v. [3684] John i. 1. .


Sermon LXXV.

[CXXV. Ben.]

Again in John v. 2, etc., on the five porches, where lay a great multitude of impotent folk, and of the pool of Siloa.

1. Subjects strange neither to your ears nor hearts are now repeated: yet do they revive the affections of the hearer, and by repetition in some sort renew us: nor is it wearisome to hear what is well known already, for the words of the Lord are always sweet. The exposition of the sacred Scriptures is as the sacred Scriptures themselves: though they be well known, yet are they read to impress the remembrance of them. And so the exposition of them, though it be well known, is nevertheless to be repeated, that they who have forgotten it may be reminded, or they who chanced not to hear it may hear; and that with those who do retain what they are used to hear, it may by the repetition be brought to pass that they shall not be able to forget it. For I remember that I have already spoken to you, Beloved, on this lesson of the Gospel. Yet to repeat the same explanation to you is not wearisome, even as it was not wearisome to repeat the same Lesson to you. The Apostle Paul saith in a certain Epistle, "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not wearisome, but for you it is necessary." [3685] So too with myself to say the same things to you, to me is not wearisome, but for you it is safe.

2. The five porches in which the infirm folk lay signify the Law, which was first given to the Jews and to the people of Israel by Moses the servant of God. For this Moses the minister of the Law wrote five books. In relation therefore to the number of the books which he wrote, the five porches figured the Law. But because the Law was not given to heal the infirm, but to discover and to manifest them; for so saith the Apostle, "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law; But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe;" [3686] therefore in those porches the sick folk lay, but were not cured. For what saith he? "If there had been a law given which could have given life." Therefore those porches which figured the Law could not cure the sick. Some one will say to me, "Why then was it given?" The Apostle Paul hath himself explained: "Scripture," saith he, "hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." For these folk who were sick, thought themselves to be whole. They received the Law, which they were not able to fulfil; they learnt in what disease they were, and they implored the Physician's aid; they wished to be cured because they came to know they were in distress, which they would not have known if they had not been unable to fulfil the Law which had been given. For man thought himself innocent, and from this very pride of false innocence became more mad. To tame this pride then and to lay it bare, the Law was given; not to deliver the sick, but to convince the proud. Attend then, Beloved; to this end was the Law given, to discover diseases, not to take them away. And so then those sick folk who might have been sick in their own houses with greater privacy, if those five porches had not existed, were in those porches set forth to the eyes of all men, but were not by the porches cured. The Law therefore was useful to discover sins, because that man being made more abundantly guilty by the transgression of the Law, might, having tamed his pride, implore the help of Him That pitieth. Attend to the Apostle; "The Law entered that sin might abound; but where sin abounded, grace hath much more abounded." [3687] What is, "The Law entered that sin might abound"? As in another place he saith, "For where there is no law, there is no transgression." [3688] Man may be called a sinner before the Law, a transgressor he cannot. But when he hath sinned, after that he hath received the Law, he is found not only a sinner, but a transgressor. Forasmuch then as to sin is added transgression, therefore "hath sin abounded." And when sin abounds, human pride learns at length to submit itself, and to confess to God, and to say "I am weak." To say to those words of the Psalm which none but the humbled soul saith, "I said, Lord, be merciful unto me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee." [3689] Let the weak soul then say this that is at least convinced by transgression, and not cured, but manifested by the Law. Hear too Paul himself showing thee, both that the Law is good, and yet that nothing but the grace of Christ delivereth from sin. For the Law can prohibit and command; apply the medicine, that that which doth not allow a man to fulfil the Law, may be cured, it cannot, but grace only doeth that. For the Apostle saith, "For I delight in the Law of God after the inner man." [3690] That is, I see now that what the Law blames is evil, and what the Law commands is good. "For I delight in the Law of God after the inner man. I see another law in my members resisting the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity in the law of sin." This derived from the punishment of sin, from the propagation of death, from the condemnation of Adam, "resists the law of the mind, and brings it into captivity in the law of sin which is in the members." He was convinced; he received the Law, that he might be convinced: see now what profit it was to him that he was convinced. Hear the following words, "Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." [3691]

3. Give heed then. Those five porches were significative of the Law, bearing the sick, not healing them; discovering, not curing them. But who did cure the sick? He that descended into the pool. And when did the sick man descend into the pool? When the Angel gave the sign by the moving of the water. For thus was that pool sanctified, for that the Angel came down and moved the water. Men saw the water; and from the motion of the troubled water they understood the presence of the Angel. If any one then went down, he was cured. Why then was not that sick man cured? Let us consider his own words; "I have no man," he says, "when the water is moved, to put me into the pool, but while I am coming, another steppeth down." [3692] Couldest not thou then step down afterwards, if another step down before thee? Here it is shown us, that only one was cured at the moving of the water. Whosoever stepped down first, he alone was cured: but whoever stepped down afterwards, at that moving of the water was not cured, but waited till it was moved again. What then does this mystery [3693] mean? For it is not without a meaning. Attend, Beloved. Waters are put in the Apocalypse for a figure of peoples. For when in the Apocalypse John saw many waters, he asked what it meant, and it was told him that they were peoples. [3694] The water then of the pool signified the people of the Jews. For as that people was held in by the five books of Moses in the Law, so that water too was enclosed by five porches. When was the water troubled? When the people of the Jews was troubled. And when was the people of the Jews troubled, but when the Lord Jesus Christ came? The Lord's Passion was the troubling of the water. For the Jews were troubled when the Lord suffered. See, what was just now read had relation to this troubling. "The Jews wished to kill Him, not only because He did these things on the sabbaths, but because He called Himself the Son of God, making Himself equal with God." [3695] For Christ called Himself the Son after one manner, in another was it said to men, "I said, Ye are Gods, and ye are all children of the Most High." [3696] For if He had made Himself the Son of God in such sort as any man whatever may be called the son of God (for by the grace of God men are called sons of God); the Jews would not have been enraged. But because they understand Him to call Himself the Son of God in another way, according to that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" [3697] and according to what the Apostle saith, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;" [3698] they saw a man, and they were enraged, because He made Himself equal with God. But He well knew that He was equal, but wherein they saw not. For that which they saw they wished to crucify; by That which they saw not, they were judged. What did the Jews see? What the Apostles also saw, when Philip said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." [3699] But what did the Jews not see? What not even the Apostles saw, when the Lord answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have ye not known Me? He that seeth Me, seeth the Father also." [3700] Because then the Jews were not able to see This in Him, they held Him for a proud and ungodly man, making Himself equal with God. Here was a troubling, the water was troubled, the Angel had come. For the Lord is called also the "Angel of the Great Counsel," [3701] in that He is the messenger of the Father's will. For Angel in Greek is in Latin "messenger". So you have the Lord saying that He announces to us the kingdom of Heaven. He then had come, the "Angel of the Great Counsel," but the Lord of all the Angels. "Angel" on this account, because He took Flesh; the "Lord of Angels," in that by "Him all things were made, and without Him was nothing made." [3702] For if all things, Angels too. And therefore Himself was not made, because by Him all things were made. Now what was made, was not made without the operation of the Word. But the flesh which became the mother of Christ, could not have been born, if it had not been created by the Word, which was afterwards born of it.

4. The Jews then were troubled. What is this? "Why doeth He these things on the sabbath days?" And especially at those words of the Lord, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." [3703] Their carnal understanding of this, that God rested on the seventh day from all His works, [3704] "troubled them." For this is written in Genesis, and most excellently written it is, and on the best reasons. But they thinking that God as it were rested from fatigue on the seventh day after all, and that He therefore blessed it, because on it He was refreshed from His weariness, did not in their foolishness understand, that He who made all things by the Word, could not be wearied. Let them read, and tell me how could God be wearied, who said, "Let it be made, and it was made." To-day if a man could so do, as God did, how would he be wearied? He said, "Let there be light, and the light was made." Again, "Let there be a firmament, and it was made:" [3705] if indeed He said, and it was not done, He was wearied. In another place briefly, "He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created." [3706] He then who worketh thus, how doth He labour? But if He labour not, how doth He rest? But in that sabbath, in which it is said that God rested from all His works, in the Rest of God our rest was signified; because the sabbath of this world shall be, when the six ages shall have passed away. The six days as it were of the world are passing away. One day hath passed away, from Adam unto Noe; another from the deluge unto Abraham; the third from Abraham unto David; the fourth from David unto the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth from the carrying away into Babylon unto the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the sixth day is in passing. We are in the sixth age, in the sixth day. Let us then be reformed after the image of God, because that on the sixth day man was made after the image of God. [3707] What formation did then, let reformation do in us, and what creation did there, let creating-anew do in us. After this day in which we now are, after this age, the rest which is promised to the saints and prefigured in those days, shall come. Because in very truth too, after all things which He made in the world, He hath made nothing new in creation afterwards. The creatures themselves shall be transformed and changed. For since the creatures were fashioned, nothing more has been added. But nevertheless, if He who made did not rule the world, what is made would fall to ruin: He cannot but administer that which He hath made. Because then nothing hath been added to the creation, He is said to have rested from all His works; but because He doth not cease to govern what He made, rightly did the Lord say, "My Father worketh even hitherto." Attend, Beloved. He finished, He is said to have rested; for He finished His works, and hath added no more. He governeth what He hath made; therefore He doth not cease to work. But with the same facility that He made, with the same doth He govern. For do not suppose, brethren, that when He created He did not labour, and that He laboureth in that He governeth: as in a ship, they labour who build the ship, and they who manage it labour too; for they are men. For with the same facility wherewith "He spake and they were made," with the same facility and judgment doth He govern all things by the Word.

5. Let us not, because human affairs seem to be in disorder, fancy that there is no governance of human affairs. For all men are ordered in their proper places; but to every man it seems as though they have no order. Do thou only look to what thou wouldest wish to be; for as thou shalt wish to be, the Master [3708] knoweth where to place thee. Look at a painter. Before him are placed various colours, and he knows where to set each colour on. Questionless the sinner hath chosen to be the black colour; does not then the Artist [3709] know where to place him? How many parts does the painter finish off with the colour of black? how many ornaments does he make of it? With it he makes the hair, the beard, the eye-brows; he makes the face of white only. Look then to that which thou wouldest wish to be; take no care where He may order thee who cannot err, He knoweth where to place thee. For so we see it happen by the common laws of the world. Some man, for instance, has chosen to be a house-breaker: the law of the judge knows that he has acted contrary to the law: the law of the judge knows where to place him; and orders him most properly. He indeed has lived evilly; but not evilly has the law ordered him. From a house-breaker he will be sentenced to the mines; from the labour of such how great works are constructed? That condemned man's punishment is the city's ornament. So then God knoweth where to place thee. Do not think that thou art disturbing the counsel of God, if thou art minded to be disorderly. Doth not He who knew how to create, know how to order thee? Good were it for thee to strive for this, to be set in a good place. What was said of Judas by the Apostle? "He went unto his own place." [3710] By the operation of course of Divine Providence, because by an evil will he chose to be evil, but God did not by ordering evil make it. But because that evil man himself chose to be a sinner, he did what he would, and suffered what he would not. In that he did what he would, his sin is discovered; in that he suffered what he would not, the order of God is praised.

6. Wherefore have I said all this? That ye, brethren, may understand what was most excellently said by the Lord Jesus Christ, "My Father worketh even hitherto." In that He doth not abandon the creature which He made. And He said, "As He worketh, so do I also work." In this He at once signified that He was equal with God. "My Father," saith He, "worketh hitherto, and I work." Their carnal sense touching the rest [3711] was troubled. For they thought that the Lord being wearied rested, that He should work no more. They hear, "My Father worketh even hitherto:" they are troubled. "And I work:" [3712] He hath made Himself equal with God: they are troubled. But be not alarmed. The water is troubled, now the sick man is to be cured. What meaneth this? Therefore are they troubled, that the Lord may suffer. The Lord doth suffer, the precious Blood is shed, the sinner is redeemed, grace is given to the sinner, to him that saith, "Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." [3713] But how is he cured? If he step down. For that pool was so made, that men should go down, and not come up to it. For there might be pools of such a kind, so constructed, that men must go up to them. But why was this made in such a way that men must go down to it? Because the Lord's Passion searches for the humble. Let the humble go down, let him not be proud, if he wishes to be cured. But why was it but "one"? Because the Church is only One throughout the world, unity is saved. When then one is made whole, unity is signified. By one understand unity. Depart not then from unity, if thou wouldest not be without a part in this saving [3714] cure.

7. What then does it mean that the man was in infirmity thirty-eight years? I know, brethren, that I have spoken of this already; but even those who read forget, how much more they who hear but seldom? Attend therefore for a little while, Beloved. In [3715] the number forty, the accomplishment of righteousness is figured. The accomplishment of righteousness, in that we live here in labour, in toil, in self-restraint, in fastings, in watchings, in tribulations; this is the exercise of righteousness, to bear this present time, and to fast as it were from this world; not from the food of the body, which we do but seldom; but from the love of the world, which we ought to do always. He then fulfils the law who abstains from this world. For he cannot love that which is eternal, unless he shall cease to love that which is temporal. Consider a man's love: think of it as, so to say, the hand of the soul. If it is holding anything, it cannot hold anything else. But that it may be able to hold what is given to it, it must leave go what it holds already. This I say, see how expressly I say it; "Whoso loveth the world cannot love God; he hath his hand engaged." God saith to him, "Hold what I give." He will not leave go what he was holding; he cannot receive what is offered. Have I said a man should not possess ought? If he is able, if perfection require this of him, let him not possess. If hindered by any necessity he is not able, let him possess, not be possessed; let him hold, not be held; let him be the lord of his possessions, not the slave; as saith the Apostle "However, brethren, the time is short; it remaineth that both they that have wives, be as though they had not; and they who buy, as though they possessed not; and they who rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they who weep, as though they wept not; and they who use this world, as though they used [3716] it not; for the fashion of this world passeth away. I would have you be without carefulness." [3717] What is, "Do not love what thou dost possess in this world"? Let it not hold thine hand fast, by which God must be held. Let not thy love be engaged, whereby thou canst make thy way to God, and cleave to Him who created thee.

8. Thou wilt say and make answer to me, "Yea, God knows that I possess innocently what I have." Temptation proves thee. There is a troubling of thy possessions, and thou dost blaspheme. It is but lately we were in such a case. There is a troubling of thy possessions, and thou art not found what thou wast, and dost show that there is one thing in thy mouth to-day, and another in thy mouth yesterday. And I would that thou wouldest only defend thine own even with vehemence; [3718] and not try to usurp with audacity another's; and what is worse, to escape reprehension, maintain that what is another's is thine own. But why need I say more? This I advise, this I say, Brethren, and as a brother advise; God bids, and I admonish because I am admonished. He alarmeth me, who doth not allow me to keep silence. He exacteth of me what He hath given. For He hath given it to be laid out, not to be kept up. And if I should keep it and hide it, He saith to me, "Thou wicked and slothful servant, wherefore gavest thou not My money to the exchangers, that at My coming I might require it with usury?" [3719] And what will it profit me that I have lost nothing of that which I received? That is not enough for my Lord, He is covetous; but God's covetousness is our salvation. He is covetous, He looketh for His own money, He gathereth in His Own image. "Thou shouldest have given," saith He, "the money to the exchangers, that at My coming I might require it with usury." And if by any chance forgetfulness should make me fail of admonishing you, the temptations and tribulations at least which we are suffering, would be an admonition to you. Ye have heard at least the word of God. Blessed be the Lord and His glory. For ye are here gathered together, and are hanging on the word of God's minister. Turn not your attention to our flesh, by which the word is given out to you; for hungry men regard not the meanness of the dish, but the preciousness of the food. God is proving you. Ye are gathered together, ye praise the word of God; temptation will prove in what manner ye hear it: ye will have the active business of life whereby your true character will be shown. For so he who to-day is shouting with railings, was yesterday a ready listener. Therefore I forewarn; therefore I tell you, therefore I do not withhold it, my Brethren, that the time of questioning will come. For the Lord maketh question of the righteous and of the ungodly. This you know ye have sung, this have we sung together; "The Lord maketh question of the righteous and the ungodly." And what follows? "But he that loveth iniquity, hateth his own soul." [3720] And in another place, "Into the thoughts of the ungodly there shall be questioning made." [3721] God doth not make question of thee there, where I question thee. I question thy tongue, God questioneth thy thoughts. For He knoweth how thou dost hear, and He knoweth how to require, Who ordereth me to give. He hath wished me to be a dispenser, the requiring He hath reserved to Himself. To admonish, to teach, to rebuke, is ours; but to save, and to crown, or to condemn, and to cast into hell, is not ours; "But the Judge shall deliver to the officer, and the officer to the prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt not go out thence, till thou payest the last farthing." [3722]

9. Let us then return to our subject. The perfection of righteousness is shown by the number forty. What is it to fulfil the number forty? To restrain one's self from the love of this world. Restraint from temporal things, that they be not loved to our destruction, is, as it were, fasting from this world. Therefore the Lord fasted forty days, and Moses, and Elias. He then who gave His servants the power to fast forty days, could He not fast eighty or a hundred? Why then did He not will to fast more than He had given His servants to do, but because in this number forty is the mystery of fasting, the restraint from this world? What is this to say? What the Apostle says; "The world is crucified to me, and I to the world." [3723] He then fulfils the number forty. And what doth the Lord show? That because Moses did this, this Elias, this Christ, that this both the Law, and the Prophets, and the Gospel, teach; that thou mayest not think that there is one thing in the Law, another in the Prophets, another in the Gospel. All Scripture teacheth thee nothing else, but restraint from the love of the world, that thy love may speed on to God. As a figure that the Law teaches this, Moses fasted forty days. As a figure that the Prophets teach it, Elias fasted forty days. As a figure that the Gospel teaches it, the Lord fasted forty days. And therefore in the mount too these three appeared, the Lord in the middle, Moses and Elias at the sides. Wherefore? Because the Gospel itself receives testimony from the Law and the Prophets. [3724] But why in the number forty is the perfection of righteousness? In the Psalter it is said, "O God, I will sing a new song unto Thee, upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto Thee." [3725] Which signifies the ten precepts of the Law, which the Lord came not to destroy, but to fulfil. And the Law itself throughout the whole world, it is evident, hath four quarters, the East, and West, South, and North, as the Scripture saith. And hence the vessel which bare all the emblematic animals, which was exhibited to Peter, when he was told, "Kill and eat," [3726] that it might be shown that the Gentiles should believe and enter into the body of the Church, just as what we eat entereth into our body, and which was let down from heaven by four corners (these are the four quarters of the world), showed that the whole world should believe. Therefore in the number forty is restraint from the world. This is the fulfilling of the Law: now the fulfilling of the Law is charity. And therefore before the Pasch we fast forty days. For this time before the Pasch is the sign of this our toilsome life, wherein, in toils, and cares, and continence, we fulfil the Law. But afterwards we celebrate the Pasch, that is, the days of the Lord's resurrection signifying our own resurrection. Therefore fifty days are celebrated; because the reward of the denarius is added to the forty, and it becomes fifty. Why is the reward a denarius? Have ye not read, how that they who were hired into the vineyard, whether at the first, or sixth, or the last hour, could only receive the denarius? [3727] When to our righteousness shall be added its reward, we shall be in the number fifty. Yea, and then shall we have none other occupation, save to praise God. And therefore throughout those days we say, "Hallelujah." For Halleluiah is the praise of God. In this frail estate of mortality, in this fortieth number here, as though before the resurrection, let us groan in prayers, that we may sing praises then. Now is the time of longing, then will be the time of embracing and enjoying. Let us not faint in the time of forty, that we may joy in the time of fifty.

10. Now who is he that fulfilleth the Law, but he that hath charity? Ask the Apostle, "Charity is the fulfilling of the Law. [3728] For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, in that which is written, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." [3729] But the commandment of charity is twofold; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great commandment. The other is like it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." They are the words of the Lord in the Gospel: "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." [3730] Without this twofold love the Law cannot be fulfilled. As long as the Law is not fulfilled, there is infirmity. Therefore he had two short, who was infirm thirty and eight years. What means, "had two short"? He did not fulfil these two commandments. What doth it profit that the rest is fulfilled, if those are not fulfilled? Hast thou thirty-eight? If thou have not those two, the rest will profit thee nothing. Thou hast two short, without which the rest avail not, if thou have not the two commandments which conduct unto salvation. "If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I distribute all my substance, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." [3731] They are the Apostle's words. All those things therefore which he mentioned are as it were the thirty-eight years; but because charity was not there, there was infirmity. From that infirmity who then shall make whole, but He who came to give charity? "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." [3732] And because He came to give charity, and charity fulfilleth the Law, with good reason said He, "I came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil." [3733] He cured the sick man, and told him to carry his couch, and go unto his house. [3734] And so too He said to the sick of the palsy whom He cured. [3735] What is it to carry our couch? The pleasure of our flesh. Where we lie in infirmity, is as it were our bed. But they who are cured master [3736] and carry it, are not by this flesh mastered. So then, thou whole one, master the frailness of thy flesh, that in the sign of the forty days' fast from this world, thou mayest fulfill the number forty, for that He hath made that sick man whole, "Who came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil."

11. Having heard this, direct your heart to Godward. Do not deceive yourselves. Ask yourselves then when it is well with you in the world ; then ask yourselves, whether ye love the world, or whether ye love it not; learn to let it go before ye are let go yourselves. What is to let it go? Not heartily to love it. Whilst there is yet something with thee which thou must one day lose, and either in life or death let it go, it cannot be with thee always; whilst I say it is yet with thee, loosen thy love; be prepared for the will of God, hang upon God. Hold thee fast to Him, whom thou canst not lose against thy will, that if it chance thee to lose these temporal things, thou mayest say, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away, as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done, blessed be the Name of the Lord." [3737] But if it chance, and God so wills it, that the things thou hast be with thee even to the last: for thy detachment from this life thou receivest the denarius, the fifty, and the perfection of blessedness cometh to pass in thee, when thou shalt sing Hallelujah. Having these things which I have now brought forward in your memory, may they avail to overthrowing your love of the world. Evil is its friendship, deceitful, it makes a man the enemy of God. Soon, in one single temptation, a man offendeth God, and becometh His enemy. Nay not then becometh His enemy; but is then discovered to have been His enemy. For when he was loving and praising Him, he was an enemy; but he neither knew it himself, nor did others. Temptation came, the pulse is touched, and the fever discovered. So then brethren, the love of the world, and the friendship of the world, make men the enemies of God. And it does not make good what it promises, it is a liar, and deceiveth. Therefore men never cease hoping in this world, and who attains to all he hopes for? But whereunto soever he attains, what he has attained to is forthwith disesteemed by him. Other things begin to be desired, other fond things are hoped for; and when they come, whatsoever it is that comes to thee, is disesteemed. Hold thee fast then to God, for He can never be of light esteem, for nothing is more beautiful than He. For for this cause are these things disesteemed, because they cannot stand, because they are not what He is. For nought, O soul, sufficeth thee, save He who created thee. Whatsoever else thou apprehendest is wretched; for He Alone can suffice thee who made thee after His Own likeness. Thus it was expressly said, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." [3738] There only can there be security; and where security can be, there in a certain sort will be insatiable satiety. For thou wilt neither be so satiated, as to wish to depart; nor will anything be wanting, as though thou couldest suffer want.

Footnotes

[3685] Phil. iii. 1, Vulgate. [3686] Gal. iii. 21, 22. [3687] Rom. v. 20. [3688] Rom. iv. 15. [3689] Ps. xli. 4. [3690] Rom. vii. 22. [3691] Rom. vii. 24, 25, Vulgate. [3692] John v. 7. [3693] Sacramentum. [3694] Rev. xvii. 15. [3695] John v. 18. [3696] Ps. lxxxii. 6. [3697] John i. 1. [3698] Phil. ii. 6. [3699] John xiv. 8. [3700] John xiv. 9. [3701] Isa. ix. 6, Sept. [3702] John i. 3. [3703] John v. 17. [3704] Gen. ii. 2. [3705] Gen. i. 3, 6, 7. [3706] Ps. xxxii. 9, Sept. (xxxiii. 9, English version). [3707] Gen. i. 27. [3708] Artifex. [3709] Artifex. [3710] Acts i. 25. [3711] Sabbato. [3712] John v. 17. [3713] Rom. vii. 24, 25, Vulg. [3714] Salute. [3715] Serm. i. (li. Ben.) 32 (xxii.). [3716] Vulgate. [3717] 1 Cor. vii. 29-32. [3718] Clamore. [3719] Luke xix. 22, 23. [3720] Ps. x. 5, Sept. (xi. 5, English version). [3721] Wisd. i. 9. [3722] Matt. v. 25, 26. [3723] Gal. vi. 14. [3724] Rom. iii. 21. [3725] Ps. cxliv. 9. [3726] Acts x. 13. [3727] Matt. xx. 2. [3728] Rom. xiii. 10. [3729] Gal. v. 14. [3730] Matt. xxii. 37-40. [3731] 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. [3732] John xiii. 34. [3733] Matt v. 17. [3734] John v. 8, 9. [3735] Mark ii. 9. [3736] Continent. [3737] Job i. 21, Sept. [3738] John xiv. 8. .


Sermon LXXVI.

[CXXVI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John v. 19, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing."

1. The mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of God first seek for believing men, that they may make them understanding. For faith is understanding's step; and understanding faith's attainment. [3739] This the Prophet expressly says to all who prematurely and in undue order look for understanding, and neglect faith. For he says, "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand." [3740] Faith itself then also hath a certain light of its own in the Scriptures, in Prophecy, in the Gospel, in the Lessons of the Apostles. For all these things which are read to us in this present time, are lights in a dark place, that we may be nourished up unto the day. The Apostle Peter says, "We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." [3741]

2. Ye see then, Brethren, how exceedingly unregulated and disordered in their haste are they who like immature conceptions seek an untimely birth before the birth; who say to us, "Why dost thou bid me believe what I do not see? Let me see something that I may believe. Thou biddest me believe whilst yet I see not; I wish to see, and by seeing to believe, not by hearing." Let the Prophet speak. "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand." Thou wishest to ascend, and dost forget the steps. Surely, out of all order. O man, if I could show thee already what thou mightest see, I should not exhort thee to believe.

3. Faith [3742] then, as it has been elsewhere defined, is "the firm support of those who hope, [3743] the evidence of things which are not seen." [3744] If they are not seen, how are they evidenced to be? What! Whence are these things which thou seest, but from That which thou seest not? To be sure thou dost see somewhat that thou mayest believe somewhat, and from that thou seest, mayest believe what thou seest not. Be not ungrateful to Him who hath made thee see, whereby thou mayest be able to believe what as yet thou canst not see. God hath given thee eyes in the body, reason in the heart; arouse the reason of the heart, wake up the interior inhabitant of thine interior eyes, let it take to its windows, examine the creature of God. For there is one within who sees by the eyes. For when thy thoughts within thee are on any other subject, and the inhabitant within is turned away, the things which are before thine eyes thou seest not. For to no purpose are the windows open, when he who looks through them is away. It is not then the eyes that see, but some one sees by the eyes; awake him, arouse him. For this hath not been denied thee; God hath made thee a rational animal, set thee over the cattle, formed thee after His Own image. Oughtest thou to use them as the cattle do; only to see what to add to thy belly, not to thy soul? Stir up, I say, the eye of reason, use thine eyes as a man should, consider the heaven and earth, the ornaments of the heaven, the fruitfulness of the earth, the flight of the birds, the swimming of the fish, the virtue [3745] of the seeds, the order of the seasons; consider the works, and seek for the Author; take a view of what thou seest, and seek Him whom thou seest not. Believe on Him whom thou seest not, because of these things which thou seest. And lest thou think that it is with mine own words that I have exhorted thee; hear the Apostle saying, "For the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen by those things which are made." [3746]

4. These things thou disregardedst, nor didst look upon them as a man, but as an irrational animal. The Prophet cried out to thee, and cried in vain. "Be ye not like to horse and mule, which have no understanding." [3747] These things I say thou didst see, and disregard. God's daily miracles were disesteemed, not for their easiness, but their constant repetition. For what is more difficult to understand than a man's birth, that one who was in existence should by dying depart into darkness, [3748] and that one who was not, by being born should come forth to light? [3749] What so marvellous, what so difficult to comprehend? But with God easy to be done. Marvel at these things, awake; at His unusual works, thou canst wonder, are they greater than those which thou art accustomed to see? Men wondered that our Lord God Jesus Christ filled so many thousands with five loaves; [3750] and they do not wonder that through a few grains the whole earth is filled with crops. When the water was made wine, [3751] men saw it, and were amazed; what else takes place with the rain along the root of the vine? He did the one, He does the other; the one that thou mayest be fed, the other that thou mayest wonder. But both are wonderful, for both are the works of God. Man sees unusual things, and wonders; whence is the man himself who wonders? where was he? whence came he forth? whence the fashion of his body? whence the distinction of his limbs? whence that beautiful form? from what beginnings? what contemptible beginnings? And he wonders at other things, when he the wonderer is himself a great wonder. Whence then are these things which thou seest but from Him whom thou seest not? But as I had begun to say, because these things were disesteemed by thee, He came Himself to do unusual things, that in these usual ones too thou mightest acknowledge thy Creator. [3752] He came to Whom it is said, "Renew signs." [3753] To Whom it is said, "Show forth Thy marvellous mercies." [3754] For dispensing them He ever was; He dispensed them, and no one marvelled. Therefore came He a Little one to the little, He came a Physician to the sick, who was able to come when He would, to return when He would, to do whatsoever He would, to judge as He would. And this, His will, is very righteousness; yea what He willeth, I say, is very righteousness. For that is not unrighteous which He willeth, nor can that be right which He willeth not. He came to raise the dead, men marvelling that He restored a man to the light who was in light already, He who day by day bringeth forth to the light those who were not.

5. These things He did, yet was He despised by the many, who considered not so much what great things He did, as how small He was; as though they said within themselves, "These are divine things, but He is a man." Two things then thou seest, divine works, and a man. If divine works cannot be wrought but by God, take heed lest in This Man God lie concealed. Attend, I say, to what thou seest, believe what thou seest not. He hath not abandoned thee, who hath called thee to believe; though He enjoin thee to believe that which thou canst not see: yet hath He not given thee up to see nothing whereby thou mayest be able to believe what thou dost not see. Is the creation itself a small sign, a small indication of the Creator? He also came, He did miracles. Thou couldest not see God, a man thou couldest; so God was made Man, that in One thou mightest have both what to see, and what to believe. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [3755] Thus thou hearest, and as yet seest not. Lo, He comes, lo, He is born, lo, He comes forth of a woman, who made man and woman. He who made man and woman was not made by man and woman. For thou wouldest peradventure have been likely to despise Him for being born, the manner of His birth canst thou not despise; for He ever was before that He was born. Lo, I say, He took a Body, He was clothed in Flesh, He came forth from the womb. [3756] Dost thou now see? seest thou now, I say? I ask as to the Flesh, but I point out as to That Flesh; something thou seest, and something thou seest not. Lo, in this very Birth, there are at once two things, one which thou mayest see, and another thou mayest not see; but so that by this which thou seest, thou mayest believe that which thou seest not. Thou hadst begun to despise, because thou seest Him who was born; believe what thou dost not see, that He was born of a virgin. "How trifling a person," says one, "is he who was born!" But how great is He who was of a virgin born! And He who was born of a virgin brought thee a temporal miracle; He was not born of a father, of any man, I mean, His father, yet was He born of the flesh. But let it not seem impossible to thee, that He was born by His mother only, Who made man before father and mother.

6. He brought thee then a temporal miracle, that thou mayest seek and admire Him who is Eternal. For He "who came forth as a Bridegroom out of His chamber," [3757] that is, out of the virgin's womb, where the holy nuptials were celebrated of the Word and the Flesh: He brought, I say, a temporal miracle; but He is Himself eternal, He is coeternal with the Father, He it is, who "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [3758] He did for thee whereby thou mightest be cured, that thou mightest be able to see what thou didst not see. What thou despisest in Christ, is not yet the contemplation of him that is made whole, but the medicine of the sick. Do not hasten to the vision of the whole. The Angels see, the Angels rejoice, the Angels feed Thereon and live; Whereon they feed faileth not, nor is their food minished. In the thrones of glory, in the regions of the heavens, in the parts which are above the heavens, the Word is seen by the Angels, and is their Joy; is their Food, and endureth. But in order that man might eat Angel's Bread, the Lord of Angels became Man. This is our Salvation, the Medicine of the infirm, the Food of the whole.

7. And He spake to men, and said what ye have now heard, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." [3759] Is there now any one, think we, that understandeth this? Is there any one, think we, in whom the eye-salve of the flesh hath now its effect to the discerning in any fashion the brightness of the Divinity? He hath spoken, let us speak too; He, because the Word; we, because of the Word. And why speak we, howsoever we do it, of the Word? Because we were made by the Word after the likeness of the Word. As far then as we are capable of, as far as we can be partakers of that ineffableness, let us also speak, and let us not be contradicted. For our faith hath gone before, so that we may say, "I believed, therefore have I spoken." [3760] I speak then that which I believe; whether or no I also see, or howsoever I see; He seeth rather; ye cannot see it. But when I shall have spoken, whether he who sees what I speak of, believe that I see too what I have spoken of, or whether he believe it not, what is that to me? Let him only really [3761] see, and let him believe what he will of me.

8. "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." Here rises up an error of the Arians; but it rises up that it may fall; because it is not humbled, that it may rise. What is it which hath set thee [3762] off? Thou wouldest say that the Son is less than the Father. For thou hast heard, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." From this thou wouldest have the Son called less; it is this I know, I know it is this hath set thee off; believe that He is not less, thou canst not as yet see it, believe, this is what I was saying a little while ago. "But how," you will say, "am I to believe against His own words"? He saith Himself, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." Attend too to that which follows; "For what things soever the Father doeth, the same also doeth the Son likewise;" He did not say, "such things," Beloved, consider a while, that ye cause not confusion [3763] to yourselves. There is need of a tranquil heart, a godly and devout faith, a religious earnest attention; attend, not to me the poor vessel, but to Him who putteth the bread in the vessel. Attend then a while. For in all that I have said above in exhorting you to faith, that the mind imbued with faith may be capable of understanding, all that has been said has had a pleasing, glad, and easy sound, has cheered your minds, ye have followed it, ye have understood what I said. But what I am now about to say I hope there are some who will understand; yet I fear that all will not understand. And seeing that God hath by the lesson of the Gospel proposed to us a subject to speak upon, and we cannot avoid that which the Master hath proposed; I fear lest haply they who will not understand, who perhaps will be the greater number, should think that I have spoken to them in vain; but yet because of those who will understand, I do not speak in vain. Let him who understandeth rejoice, let him who doth not understand bear it patiently; what he doth not understand, let him bear, and that he may understand, let him bear delay.

9. He doth not say then, "What things soever the Father doeth, such doeth the Son:" as if the Father doeth some things, and the Son others. For it did seem as though He had meant this when He said above, "The Son doeth nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." Mark; He did not there either say, "But what He heareth the Father enjoin;" but, "what He seeth the Father do." If then we consult the carnal understanding, or sense rather, He hath set before Him as it were two workmen, [3764] the Father and the Son, the Father working without seeing any, the Son working from seeing the Father. This is still a carnal view. Nevertheless, in order to understand those things which are higher, let us not decline these lower and mean things. First, let us set something before our eyes in this way; let us suppose there are two workmen, father and son. The father has made a chest, which the son could not make, unless he saw the father making it: he keeps his mind on the chest which the father has made, and makes another chest like it, not the same. I put off for a while the words which follow, and now I ask the Arian; "Dost thou understand it in the sense of this supposition? Hath the Father done something, which when the Son saw Him do, He too hath done something like it? For do the words by which thou art perplexed seem to have this meaning?" Now He doth not say, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He heareth the Father enjoin." But He saith, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." See, if thou understand it thus; the Father hath done something, and the Son attendeth that He may see what He Himself too hath to do; and that, some other thing like that which the Father had done. This which the Father hath done, by whom hath He done it? If not by the Son, if not by the Word, thou hast incurred the charge of blasphemy against the Gospel. "For all things were made by Him." [3765] So then what the Father had done, He had done by the Word; if by the Word He had done it, He had done it by the Son. Who then is that other who attends, that He may do some other thing which he seeth the Father do? Ye have not been wont to say that the Father hath two sons: there is One, One Only-Begotten of Him. But through His mercy, Alone as regards His Divinity and not Alone as regards the inheritance. The Father hath made coheirs with His Only Son; not begotten them like Him of His Own Substance, but adopted them by Him out of His Own family. For "we have been called," as Holy Scripture testifieth, "into the adoption of sons." [3766]

10. What then sayest thou? It is the Only Son Himself That speaketh; the Only-Begotten Son speaketh in the Gospel: the Word Himself hath given us the words, we have heard Himself saying, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." Now then the Father doeth that the Son may see what to do; and nevertheless the Father doeth nothing but by the Son. Assuredly thou art confused, thou heretic, assuredly thou art confused; but thy confusion is as from taking hellebore, that thou mayest be cured. Even now thou canst not find thine own self, thou dost even thyself condemn thine own judgment and thy carnal view, I think. Put behind thee the eyes of the flesh, raise up what eyes thou hast in thine heart, behold things divine. They are men's words it is true thou hearest, and by a man, by the Evangelist, by the Gospel thou hearest men's words, as a man; but it is of the Word of God thou hearest, that thou mayest hear what is human, come to know what is Divine. The Master hath given trouble, that He might instruct; hath sown a difficulty, [3767] that He might excite an earnest attention. "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." It might follow [3768] that He should say, "For what things soever the Father doeth, the like doeth the Son." This He doth not say; but, "What things soever the Father doeth, the same doeth the Son likewise." The Father doeth not some things, the Son other things; because all things that the Father doeth, He doeth by the Son. The Son raised Lazarus; did not the Father raise him? [3769] The Son gave sight to the blind man; did not the Father give him sight? [3770] The Father by the Son in the Holy Ghost. It is the Trinity; but the Operation of the Trinity is One, the Majesty One, the Eternity One, the Coeternity One, and the Works the Same. The Father doth not create some men, the Son others, the Holy Ghost others; the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost create one and the same man; and the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, One God, createth him.

11. You observe a Plurality of Persons, but acknowledge the Unity of the Divinity. For because of the Plurality of Persons it was said, "Let Us make man after Our image and likeness." He did not say, "I will make man, and do Thou attend when I am making him, that Thou too mayest be able to make another." "Let Us make," He saith; I hear the Plurality; "after Our image;" [3771] again I hear the Plurality. Where then is the Singularity of the Divinity? Read what follows, "And God made man." [3772] It is said, "Let Us make man;" and it is not said, "The Gods made man." The Unity is understood in that it was said, "God made man."

12. Where then is that carnal view? [3773] Be it confounded, hidden, brought to nought; let the Word of God speak to us. Even now as godly men, as believing already, as already imbued with faith, and having gotten some attainment [3774] of understanding, turn we to the Word Himself, to the Fountain of light, and let us say together, "O Lord, the Father doeth ever the same things as Thou; for that whatsoever the Father doeth, by Thee He doeth it. We have heard that Thou art the Word in the beginning; [3775] we have not seen, but believed. There too have we heard what follows, that `all things were made by Thee.' [3776] All things then that the Father doeth, He doeth by Thee. Therefore Thou doest the same things as the Father. Why then didst Thou wish to say, `The Son can do nothing of Himself'? For I see a certain equality in Thee with the Father, in that I hear, `What things soever the Father doeth, the same doeth the Son;' I recognise an equality, hereby I understand, and comprehend as far as I am able, `I and My Father are One.' [3777] What meaneth it, that Thou canst do nothing, but what Thou seest the Father do? What meaneth this?"

13. Peradventure He would say to me, yea say to us all: "Now as to this that I have said, `The Son can do nothing, but what He seeth the Father do;' My `Seeing' how dost thou understand? My `Seeing,' what is it? Put aside for a while the form of the servant which He took for thy sake. For in that servant's form our Lord had eyes and ears in the Flesh, and that human form was the same figure of a Body, such as we bear, the same outlines of members. That Flesh had come from Adam: but He was not as Adam. So then the Lord walking whether on the earth or in the sea, as it pleased Him, as He would, for whatever He would, He could; looked at what He would; He fixed His eyes, He saw; He turned away His eyes, and did not see; who followed was behind Him, whoso could be seen, before Him; with the eyes of His Body, He saw only what was before Him. But from His Divinity nothing was hid. Put aside, put aside, I say, for a while the form of the servant, look at the Form of God in which He was before the world was made; in which He was equal to the Father; hereby receive and understand what He saith to thee, `Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.' [3778] There see Him if thou canst, that thou mayest be able to see what His `Seeing' is." "In the beginning was the Word." How doth the Word see? Hath the Word eyes, or are our eyes found in Him, the eyes not of the flesh, but the eyes of godly hearts? For, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." [3779]

14. Christ thou seest Man and God; He doth manifest to thee the Man, God He reserveth for thee. Now see how He reserveth God for thee, who doth manifest Himself to thee as Man. "Whoso loveth Me," saith He, "keepeth My commandments; whoso loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him." [3780] And as if it were asked, "What wilt Thou give to him whom Thou lovest?" "And I will manifest Myself," saith He, "to him." What meaneth this, Brethren? He whom they saw already, promised that He would manifest Himself to them. To whom? Those by whom He was seen, or those also by whom He was not seen? Thus speaking to a certain Apostle, who asked to see the Father, that it might suffice him, and said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us" [3781] --Then He standing before this servant's eyes, in the form of a servant, reserving for his eyes when [3782] deified [3783] the Form of God, saith to him, "Have I been so long time with you, and have ye not known Me? He that seeth Me, seeth the Father also." Thou askest to see the Father; see Me, thou seest Me, and dost not see Me. Thou seest what for thee I have assumed, thou dost not see What I have reserved for thee. Give ear to My commandments, purify thine eyes. "For whoso loveth Me, keepeth My commandments, and I will love him." To him as keeping My commandments, and by My commandments made whole will I manifest Myself.

15. If then, Brethren, we are not able to see what the "Seeing" of the Word is, whither are we going? what Vision it may be with too great haste are we requiring? why are we wishing to have shown us what we are not able to see? These things accordingly are spoken of which we desire to see, not as what we are able already to comprehend. For if thou seest the "Seeing" of the Word, peradventure in that thou seest the "Seeing" of the Word, thou wilt see the Word Himself; that the Word may not be one thing, the "Seeing" of the Word another, lest there be Therein anything joined, and coupled, and double, and compacted. For It is something Simple, of a Simplicity ineffable. Not as with a man, the man is one thing, the man's seeing another. For sometimes a man's seeing is extinguished, and the man remains. This it is of which I said that I was about to say something which all would not be able to understand; the Lord even grant that some may have understood. My Brethren, to this end doth He exhort us, that we may see, that the "Seeing" of the Word is beyond our powers; for they are small; be they nourished, perfected. Whereby? By the commandments. What commandments? "He that loveth Me, keepeth My commandments." [3784] What commandments? For already do we wish to increase, to be strengthened, perfected, that we may see the "Seeing" of the Word. Tell us, Lord, now what commandments? "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." [3785] This charity then, Brethren, let us draw from the plentifulness of the Fountain, let us receive it; be nourished by it. Receive thou [3786] that whereby thou mayest be able to receive. Let charity give thee birth, let charity nourish thee; charity bring thee to perfection, charity strengthen thee; that thou mayest see this "Seeing" of the Word, that the Word is not one thing and His "Seeing" another, but that the "Seeing" of the Word is the Very Word Himself; and so perhaps thou wilt soon understand that that which is said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do," is as if He had said, "The Son would not be, if He had not been born of the Father." Let this suffice, Brethren; I know that I have said that which perhaps, if meditated upon, may develop itself to many, which oftentimes when expressed in words may chance to be obscured. [3787]

Footnotes

[3739] Meritum. [3740] Isa. vii. 9, Sept. [3741] 2 Pet. i. 19. [3742] Substantia; hupostasis. [3743] Sperantium, as St Augustin uniformly reads, Tract. 79 and 95, in Joh. de pecc. mer. ii. 31. St, Ambrose and St. Jerome have the pass. [3744] Heb. xi. i. [3745] Vim. [3746] Rom. i. 20. [3747] Ps. xxxii. 9. [3748] Secreta. [3749] Publica. [3750] Matt. xiv. 21. [3751] John ii. 9. [3752] Artificem. [3753] Ecclus. vi. 37. [3754] Ps. xvi. 7, Sept. (xvii. 7, English version). [3755] John i. 1. [3756] The punctuation of the reprint of the Ben. has been followed, "Jamne vides jam, inquam, vides? carnem interrogo, sed carnem ostendo." The Ben. pointed, "vides carnem," but noted Locus mendosus. The meaning may be, "It is of His Birth in the Flesh that I enquire, but I point out the mode of that Birth, i.e. of a Virgin." [3757] Ps. xix. 5. [3758] John i. 1. [3759] John v. 19. [3760] Ps. cxvi. 10. [3761] Sinceriter. [3762] Movit. [3763] Strepitum. [3764] Artifices. [3765] John i. 3. [3766] Eph. i. 5. [3767] Quæstionem. [3768] Consequens. [3769] John xi. [3770] John ix. [3771] Gen. i. 26. [3772] Gen. i. 27. [3773] Intentio. [3774] Merito. [3775] John i. 1. [3776] John i. 3. [3777] John x. 30. [3778] Phil. ii. 6. [3779] Matt. v. 8. [3780] John xiv. 21. [3781] John xiv. 8. [3782] Deificati. [3783] Vid. St. Athanasius, Treatise against Arians, Oxford edit. Nicene Def. ch. iii. 12, § 14 and Disc. 1, ch. xi. § 39, p. 336, and note c. Vide St. Augustin, Ps. 49, § 2. [3784] John xiv. 21. [3785] John xiii. 34. [3786] Cape per quod sis capax. [3787] See Tract. 18 and 20 in Joh. .


Sermon LXXVII.

[CXXVII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John v. 25,"Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God; and they that hear shall live,"etc.; and on the words of the apostle, "things which eye saw not," etc., 1 Cor. ii. 9

1. Our hope, Brethren, is not of this present time, nor of this world, nor in that happiness whereby men are blinded that forget God. This ought we above all things to know, and in a Christian heart hold fast, that we were not made Christians for the good things of the present time, but for something else which God at once promiseth, and man doth not yet comprehend. For of this good it is said, "That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." [3788] Because then this good, so great, so excellent, so ineffable, fell not in with man's understanding, it required God's promise. For what hath been promised him, man blind of heart doth not now comprehend; nor can it be shown to him at present, what he will one day be to whom the promise is given. For so an infant child, if he could understand the words of one speaking, when himself could neither speak, nor walk, nor do anything, but feeble as we see he is, unable to stand, [3789] requiring the assistance of others, were able only to understand him who should speak to him and tell him, "Lo, as thou seest me walking, working, speaking, after a few years thou shall be as I am;" as he considered himself and the other, though he would see what was promised; yet considering his own feebleness, would not believe, and yet he would see what was promised. But with us infants, as it were, lying in this flesh and feebleness, that which is promised is at once great and is not seen; and so faith is aroused whereby we believe that we do not see that we may attain [3790] to see what we believe. Whosoever derideth this faith, so as to think that he is not to believe in that he doth not see; when that shall come which he believed not, is put to shame: being confounded is separated, being separated, is condemned. But whoso shall have believed, is put aside at the right hand, and shall stand with great confidence and joy among those to whom it shall be said, "Come, blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the beginning of the world." [3791] But the Lord made an end when He spake these words, thus, "These shall go into everlasting burning, but the righteous into life eternal." [3792] This is the life eternal which is promised us.

2. Because men love to live on this earth, life is promised them; and because they exceedingly fear to die, eternal life is promised them. What dost thou love? To live. This shalt thou have. What dost thou fear? To die. Thou shalt not suffer it. This seemed to be enough for human infirmity, that it should be said, "Thou shalt have eternal life." This the mind of man can comprehend, by its present condition it can in some sort comprehend what is to be. But by the imperfection of its present condition how far can it comprehend it? Because he lives, and does not wish to die; he loves eternal life, he wishes to live always, never to die. But they who shall be tormented in punishments, have even a wish to die, and cannot. It is no great thing then to live long, or to live for ever; but to live blessedly is a great thing. Let us love eternal life, and hereby may we know how greatly we ought to labour for eternal life, when we see men who love the present life, which lasts but for a time and must be brought to an end, labour so for it, that when the fear of death comes, they will do whatever they can, not to put away, but to put off death. How does a man labour, when death threatens, by flight, by concealment, by giving all he has, and redeeming himself, by toil, by endurance of torments and uneasinesses, by calling in physicians, and whatever else a man can do? See, how that after exhausting all his labour and his means, he is but able to contrive to live a little longer; to live always, he is not able. If then men strive with so great labour, with so great efforts, so great a cost, such earnestness, such watchfulness, such carefulness, that they may live a little longer; how should they strive that they may live for ever? And if they are called wise, who by all means strive to put off death, and live a few days, that they lose not a few days: how foolish are they who so live as to lose the day eternal!

3. This then only can be promised us, that this gift of God may in whatever measure be sweet to us, from this which we have at present; seeing that it is of His gift we have it, that we live, that we are in health. When then eternal life is promised, let us set before our eyes a life of such a kind, as to remove from it everything unpleasant which we suffer here. For it is easier for us to find what is not there, than what is there. Lo, here we live; we shall live there also. Here we are in health when we are not sick, and there is no pain in the body; there we shall be in health also. And when it is well with us in this life, we suffer no scourge; we shall suffer none there also. Suppose then a man here below living, in sound health, suffering no scourge; if any one were to grant him that he should be for ever so, and that this good estate should never cease, how greatly would he rejoice? how greatly be transported? how would he not contain himself in joy without pain, without torment, without end of life? If God had promised us this only, which I have mentioned, which I have just now in such words as I was able, described and set forth; at what a price ought it to be purchased if it were to be sold, how great a sum ought to be given to buy it? Would all that thou hadst suffice, even though thou shouldest possess the whole world? And yet it is to be sold; buy it if thou wilt. And be not much disquieted for a thing so great, because of the largeness of the price. Its price is no more than what thou hast. Now to procure any great and precious thing, thou wouldest get ready gold, or silver, or money, or any increase of cattle, or fruits, which might be produced in thy possessions, to buy this I know not what great and excellent thing, whereby to live in this earth happily. Buy this too, if thou wilt. Do not look for what thou hast, but for what thou art. The price of this thing is thyself. Its price is what thou art thyself. Give thine own self, and thou shalt have it. Why art thou troubled? why disquieted? What? Art thou going to seek for thine own self, or to buy thyself? Lo, give thine own self as thou art, such as thou art to that thing, and thou shalt have it. But you will say, "I am wicked, and perhaps it will not accept me." By giving thyself to it, thou wilt be good. The giving thyself to this faith and promise, this is to be good. And when thou shalt be good, thou wilt be the price of this thing; and shalt have, not only what I have mentioned, health, safety, life, and life without end; thou shalt not only have this, I will take away other things yet. There shall there be no weariness, and sleeping; there shall there be no hunger, and thirst; there shall there be no growing, and growing old; because there shall be no birth either where the numbers remain entire. The number that is there is entire; nor is there any need for it to be increased, seeing there is no chance of diminution there. Lo, how many things have I taken away, and I have not yet said what shall be there. Lo, already there is life, and safety; no scourge, no hunger, no thirst, no failing, none of these; and yet I have not said, "what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath ascended into the heart of man." For if I have said it, it is false that is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it ascended into the heart of man." For whence should it ascend into my heart, that I should say "that which hath not ascended into the heart of man"? It is believed, and not seen; not only not seen, but not even expressed. How then is it believed, if it is not expressed? Who believes what he doth not hear? But if he hear it that he may believe, it is expressed; if expressed, it is thought of; if thought of and expressed, then it entereth into the ears of men. And because it would not be expressed if it were not thought of, it hath ascended also into the heart of man. Lo, already the mere proposing of so great a thing disturbs us, that we cannot put it forth clearly in words. Who then can explain the thing itself?

4. Let us attend to the Gospel; just now the Lord was speaking, and let us do what He said. "He that believeth in Me," saith He, "passeth from death unto life, and cometh not into judgment. Verily I say unto you, that the hour shall come, and now is, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." [3793] By begetting Him He gave it; in that He begat, He gave it. For the Son is of the Father, not the Father of the Son; but the Father is the Father of the Son, and the Son is the Son of the Father. I say the Son is begotten of the Father, not the Father of the Son; and the Son was always, always therefore begotten. Who can comprehend this "always begotten"? For when any man hears of one begotten, it occurs to him; "Therefore there was a time, when he who was begotten was not." What say we then? Not so; there was no time before the Son, for that "all things were made by Him." [3794] If all things were made by Him, times also were made by Him; how could times be before the Son, by whom times were made? Take away then all times, the Son was with the Father always. If the Son were with the Father always, and yet the Son, He was begotten always; if begotten always, He who was begotten was always with Him That begat Him.

5. You will say, "This have I never seen, one begetting, and always with him whom he begat; but he that begat came first, and he that was begotten followed in time." You say well, "I have never seen this;" for this appertains to "that which eye hath not seen." Do you ask how it may be expressed? It cannot be expressed; "For the ear hath not heard, neither hath it ascended unto the heart of man." Be it believed and adored, when we believe, we adore; when we adore, we grow; when we grow, we comprehend. For as yet whilst we are in this flesh, as long as we are absent from the Lord, we are, with respect to the Holy Angels who see these things, infants to be suckled by faith, hereafter to be fed by sight. For so saith the Apostle, "As long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight." [3795] We shall some day come to sight, which is thus promised us by John in his Epistle; "Dearly beloved, we are the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be." [3796] We are the sons of God now by grace, by faith, by the Sacrament, by the Blood of Christ, by the redemption of the Saviour; "We are the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

6. Lo, unto the comprehending of what are we being nourished up; lo, unto the embracing and the feeding on what are we being nourished up; yet so as that that which is fed on is not diminished, and he that feedeth is supported. For now food supports us by eating it; but the food which is eaten, is diminished; but when we shall begin to feed on Righteousness, to feed on Wisdom, to feed on that Food Immortal, we are at once supported, and That Food is not diminished. For if the eye knows how to feed on light, and yet doth not diminish the light; for the light will be no less because it is seen by more; it feeds the eyes of more, and yet is as great as it was before: both they are fed, and it is not diminished; if God hath granted this to the light which He hath made for the eyes of the flesh, what is He Himself, the Light for the eyes of the heart? If then any choice [3797] food were praised to thee, on which thou wast to dine, thou wouldest prepare the stomach; God is praised to thee, prepare the heart.

7. Behold what thy Lord saith to thee: "The hour shall come," saith He, "and now is." "The hour shall come," yea, that very hour, "now is, when"--what? "when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God, and they that shall hear shall live." They then that shall not hear, shall not live. What is, "They that shall hear"? They that shall obey. What is, "They that shall hear"? They that shall believe and obey, they shall live. So then before they believed and obeyed, they lay dead; they walked, and were dead. What availed it to them, that they walked, being dead? And yet if any among them were to die a bodily death, they would run, get ready the grave, wrap him up, carry him out, bury him, the dead, the dead; of whom it is said, "Let the dead bury their dead." [3798] Such dead as these are in such wise raised by the Word of God, as to live in faith. They who were dead in unbelief, are aroused by the Word. Of this hour said the Lord, "The hour shall come, and now is." For with His Own Word did He raise them that were dead in unbelief; of whom the Apostle says, "Arise thou that sleepest, and rise up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." [3799] This is the resurrection of hearts, this is the resurrection of the inner man, this is the resurrection of the soul.

8. But this is not the only resurrection, there remains a resurrection of the body also. Whoso riseth again in soul, riseth again in body to his blessedness. For in soul all do not rise again; in body all are to rise again. In soul, I say, all do not rise again; but they that believe and, obey; for, "They that shall hear shall live." But as the Apostle says, "All men have not faith." [3800] If then all men have not faith, all men do not rise again in soul. When thy hour of the resurrection of the body shall come, all shall rise again; be they good or bad, all shall rise again. But whoso first riseth again in soul, to his blessedness riseth again in body; whoso doth not first rise again in soul, riseth again in body to his curse. Whoso riseth again in soul, riseth again in body unto life; whoso riseth not again in soul, riseth again in body unto punishment. Seeing then that the Lord hath impressed upon us this resurrection of souls, unto which we ought all to hasten, and to labour that we may live therein, and living persevere even unto the end, it remained for Him to impress upon us the resurrection of bodies also, which is to be at the end of the world. Now hear how He hath impressed this too.

9. When He had said, "Verily I say unto you, The hour shall come, and now is, when the dead," that is, the unbelievers, "shall hear the Voice of the Son of God," that is, the Gospel, "and they that shall hear," that is, that shall obey, "shall live," that is, shall be justified, and shall be unbelievers no longer; when, I say, He had said this, forasmuch as He saw that we had need to be instructed as to the resurrection of the flesh also, and were not to be left thus, He went on and said, "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." This refers to the resurrection of souls, to the quickening of souls. Then He added, "And hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man." This Son of God, is Son of Man. For if the Son of God had continued the Son of God, and had not been made the Son of Man, He would not have delivered the sons of men. He who had made man, was Himself made that which He made, that what He made might not perish. But He was in such wise made the Son of Man, as to continue the Son of God. For He was made Man by assuming that which He was not, not by losing That which He was; continuing God, He was made Man. He took thee, He was not consumed in thee. As such then came He to us, the Son of God, and Son of Man, the Maker and the Made, the Creator and the Created; the Creator of His mother, Created of His mother; such came He to us. In respect of His being the Son of God, He saith, "The hour shall come, and now is, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God." He did not say, "Of the Son of Man;" for He was impressing the truth, wherein He is equal to the Father. "And they that shall hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself;" not by participation, but in our God. But He, the Father, hath life in Himself; and He begat such a Son as should have life in Himself; not be made a partaker of life, but Himself be Life, of which life we should be partakers; that is, should have life in Himself, and Himself be Life. But that He should be made the Son of Man, He took from us. Son of God in Himself; that He should be the Son of Man, He took from us. Son of God of That which is His Own, Son of Man of ours. That which is the less, took He from us; That which is the more, gave He to us. For thus He died in that He is the Son of Man, not in that He is the Son of God. Yet the Son of God died; but He died in respect to the flesh, not in respect to "the Word which was made flesh, and dwelt among us." [3801] So then in that He died, He died of that which was ours; in that we live, we live of That which is His. He could not die of That which was His own, nor could we live of that which is our own. As God then, as the Only-Begotten, as equal with Him who begat Him, did the Lord Jesus impress this upon us, that if we hear, we shall live.

10. But, saith He, "He hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man." So then that Form is to come to judgment. The Form of Man is to come to judgment; therefore He said, "He hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man." The Judge here shall be the Son of Man; here shall That Form judge which was judged. Hear and understand: the Prophet had said this already, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." [3802] That Very Form shall they see which they smote with a spear. He shall sit as Judge, Who stood at the judge's seat. He shall condemn the real criminals, Who was made a criminal falsely. He shall come Himself, That Form shall come. This you find in the Gospel too; when before the eyes of His disciples He was going into heaven, they stood and looked on, and the Angelic voice spake, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye," etc. "This Jesus shall come in like manner as ye see Him going into heaven." [3803] What is, "shall come in like manner"? Shall come in this Very Form. For "He hath given Him power to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man." Now see on what principle this was behoveful and right, that they who were to be judged might see the Judge. For they who were to be judged were both good and bad. "But blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." [3804] It remained that in the Judgment the Form of the servant should be manifested both to good and bad, the Form of God be reserved for the good alone.

11. For what is it that the good are to receive? Behold I am now expressing that which I did not express a little above; and yet in expressing I do not express it. For I said that there we shall be in sound health, shall be safe, shall be living, shall be without scourges, without hunger and thirst, without failing, without loss of our eyes. All this I said; but what we shall have more, I said not. We shall see God. Now this will be so great, yea so great a thing will it be, that in comparison of it, all the rest is nothing. I said that we shall be living, that we shall be safe and sound, that we shall suffer no hunger and thirst, that we shall not fall into weariness, that sleep will not oppress us. All this, what is it to that happiness, whereby we shall see God? Because then God cannot be now manifested as He is, whom nevertheless we shall see; therefore, "what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," [3805] this the good shall see, this shall the godly see, this the merciful shall see, this shall the faithful see, this shall they see who shall have a good lot in the resurrection of the body, for that they have had a good obedience in the resurrection of the heart.

12. Shall then the wicked man see God too? of whom Isaiah saith, "Let the ungodly be taken away, that he see not the Glory of God." [3806] Both the ungodly and the godly then shall see that Form; and when the sentence, "Let the ungodly be taken away that he see not the Glory of God," shall have been pronounced; it remains that as to the godly and the good, that be fulfilled which the Lord Himself promised, when He was here in the flesh, and seen not by the good only, but by the evil also. He spake amongst the good and evil, and was seen of all, as God, hidden, as Man, manifested; as God ruling men, as Man appearing among men: He spake, I say, among them, and said, "Whoso loveth Me, keepeth My commandments; and he that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him." [3807] And as if it were said to Him, And what wilt Thou give him? And "I will," He saith, "manifest Myself to him." When did He say this? When He was seen by men. When did He say this? When He was seen even by them, by whom He was not loved. How then was He to manifest Himself to them that loved Him, save in Such a Form, as they who loved Him then saw not? Therefore, seeing that the Form of God was being reserved, the Form of man manifested; by the Form of man, speaking to men, conspicuous and visible, He manifested Himself to all, both good and bad, He reserved Himself for them that loved Him.

13. When is He to manifest Himself to them that love Him? After the resurrection of the body, when "the ungodly shall be taken away that he see not the Glory of God." For then "when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." [3808] This is life eternal. For all that we said before is nothing to that life. That we live, what is it? That we are in health, what is it? That we shall see God, is a great thing. This is life eternal; this Himself hath said, "But this is life eternal, that they may know Thee the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." [3809] This is life eternal, that they may know, see, comprehend, acquaint themselves with what they had believed, may perceive that which they were not yet able to comprehend. Then may the mind see what "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it ascended into the heart of man;" this shall be said to them at the end, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the beginning of the world." [3810] Those wicked ones then shall go into everlasting burning. But the righteous, whither? Into life eternal? What is life eternal? "This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."

14. Speaking then of the future resurrection of the body, and not leaving us thus, He saith, "He hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this, for the hour shall come." He did not add in this place, "and now is;" because this hour shall be hereafter, because this hour shall be at the end of the world, because this shall be the last hour, shall be at the last trump. "Marvel not at this," because I have said, "He hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not." For this reason have I said this, because it behoves Him as Man to be judged by men. And what men shall He judge? Those whom He finds alive? Not only those, but what? "The hour shall come, when they that are in the graves." [3811] How did He express those that are dead in the flesh? "They who are in the graves," whose corpses lie buried, whose ashes are covered up, whose bones are dispersed, whose flesh is flesh no more, and yet is entire to God. "The hour shall come, when all that are in the graves shall hear His Voice, and shall come forth." Be they good or bad, they shall hear the Voice, and shall come forth. All the bands of the grave [3812] shall be burst asunder; all that was lost, yea rather was thought to be lost shall be restored. For if God made man who was not, can He not re-fashion that which was?

15. I suppose when it is said, "God shall raise the dead again," no incredible thing is said for it is of God, not of man, that it is said. It is a great thing which shall be done, yea, an incredible thing that shall be done. But let it not be incredible, for see, who It is That doeth it. He it is said shall raise thee, Who created thee. Thou wast not, and thou art; and once made, shalt thou not be? God forbid thou shouldest think so! God did something more marvellous when He made that which was not; and nevertheless He did make that which was not; and shall it be disbelieved that He is able to re-fashion that which was, by those very persons whom He made what they were not? Is this the return we make to God, we who were not, and were made? Is this the return we make Him, that we will not believe that He is able to raise again what He hath made? Is this the return which His creature renders Him? "Have I therefore," God saith to thee, "made thee, O man, before thou wast, that thou shouldest not believe Me, that thou shalt be what thou wast, who hast been able to be what thou wast not?" But you will say, "Lo, what I see in the tomb, is dust, ashes, bones; and shall this receive life again, skin, substance, flesh, and rise again? what? these ashes, these bones, which I see in the tomb?" Well. At least thou seest ashes, thou seest bones in the tomb; in thy mother's womb there was nothing. This thou seest, ashes at least there are, and bones; before that thou wast, there was neither ashes, nor bones; and yet thou wast made, when thou wast not at all; and dost thou not believe that these bones (for in whatever state, of whatever kind they are, yet they are), shall receive the form again which they had, when thou hast received what thou hadst not? Believe; for if thou shalt believe this, then shall thy soul be raised up. And thy soul shall be raised up "now;" "The hour shall come, and now is;" then to thy blessing shall thy flesh rise again, "when the hour shall come, that all that are in the graves shall hear His Voice, and shall come forth." For thou must not at once rejoice, because thou dost hear "and come forth;" hear what follows, "They that have done good unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." [3813] Turning to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[3788] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [3789] Jacentem. [3790] Mereamur. [3791] Matt. xxv. 34. [3792] Matt. xxv. 46. [3793] John v. 24-26. [3794] John i. 3. [3795] 2 Cor. v. 6, 7. [3796] 1 John iii. 2. [3797] Magnus. [3798] Matt. viii. 22. [3799] Eph. v. 14. [3800] 2 Thess. iii. 2. [3801] John i. 14. [3802] Zech. xii. 10; John xix. 37. [3803] Acts i. 11. [3804] Matt. v. 8. [3805] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [3806] Isa. xxvi. 10, Sept. [3807] John xiv. 21. [3808] 1 John iii. 2. [3809] John xvii. 3. [3810] Matt. xxv. 34. [3811] John v. 28. [3812] Inferorum. [3813] John v. 29. .


Sermon LXXVIII.

[CXXVIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John v. 31,"If I bear witness of myself," etc.; and on the words of the apostle, Galatians v. 16, "Walk by the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth," etc.

1. We have heard the words of the holy Gospel; and this that the Lord Jesus saith, "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true," [3814] may perplex some. How then is not the witness of the Truth true? Is it not Himself who hath said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life"? [3815] Whom then are we to believe, if we must not believe the Truth? For of a surety he is minded to believe nothing but falsehood, who does not choose to believe the truth. So then this was spoken on their principles, that you should understand it thus, and gather this meaning from these words; "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true," that is, as ye think. For He knew well that His Own witness of Himself was true; but for the sake of the weak, and hard of belief, and without understanding, the Sun looked out for lamps. For their weakness of sight could not bear the dazzling brightness of the Sun.

2. Therefore was John sought for to bear witness to the Truth; and ye have heard what He said; "Ye came unto John; he was a burning and a shining lamp, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." [3816] This lamp was prepared for their confusion, for of this was it said so long time before in the Psalms, "I have prepared a lamp for Mine Anointed." [3817] What! a lamp for the Sun! "His enemies will I clothe with confusion: but upon Himself shall my sanctification flourish." [3818] And hence they were in a certain place confounded by means of this very John, when the Jews said to the Lord, "By what authority doest Thou these things? Tell us." To whom He answered, "Do ye tell Me too, The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?" They heard, and held their peace. For they thought at once with themselves. "If we shall say, Of men: the people will stone us; for they hold John as a prophet. If we shall say, From heaven; He will say to us, Why then have ye not believed him?" [3819] For John bare witness to Christ. So straitened in their hearts by their own questions, and taken in their own snares, they answered, "We do not know." What else could the voice of darkness be? It is right indeed for a man when he does not know, to say, "I know not." But when he does know, and says, "I know not;" he is a witness against himself. Now they knew well John's excellency, and that his baptism was from heaven; but they were unwilling to acquiesce in Him to whom John bare witness. But when they said, "We do not know;" Jesus answered them. "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things." And they were confounded; and so was fulfilled, "I have prepared a lamp for Mine Anointed, His enemies will I clothe with confusion."

3. Are not Martyrs witnesses of Christ, and do they not bear witness to the truth? But if we think more carefully, when those Martyrs bear witness, He beareth witness to Himself. For He dwelleth in the Martyrs, that they may bear witness to the truth. Hear one of the Martyrs, even the Apostle Paul; "Would ye receive a proof of Christ, who speaketh in Me?" [3820] When John then beareth witness, Christ, who dwelleth in John, beareth witness to Himself. Let Peter bear witness, let Paul bear witness, let the rest of the Apostles bear witness, let Stephen bear witness, it is He who dwelleth in them all that beareth witness to Himself. For He without them is God, they without Him, what are they?

4. Of Him it is said, "He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, He gave gifts unto men." [3821] What is, "He led captivity captive"? He conquered death. What is, "He led captivity captive"? The devil was the author of death, and the devil was himself by the Death of Christ led captive. "He ascended up on high." What do we know higher than heaven? Visibly and before the eyes of His disciples He ascended into heaven. This we know, this we believe, this we confess. "He gave gifts unto men." What gifts? The Holy Spirit. He who giveth such a Gift, what is He Himself? For great is God's mercy; He giveth a Gift equal to Himself; for His Gift is the Holy Spirit, and the Whole Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, is One God. What hath the Holy Spirit brought us? Hear the Apostle; "The love of God," saith he, "hath been shed abroad in our hearts." [3822] Whence, thou beggar, hath the love of God been shed abroad in thine heart? How, or wherein hath the love of God been shed abroad in the heart of man? "We have," saith he, "this treasure in earthen vessels." Why in earthen vessels? "That the excellency of the power may be of God?" [3823] Finally, when he had said, "The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts;" that no man might think that he hath this love of God of himself, he added immediately, "By the Holy Spirit, who hath been given to us." Therefore, that thou mayest love God, let God dwell in thee, and love Himself in thee, that is, to His love let Him move thee, enkindle, enlighten, arouse thee.

5. For in this body of ours there is a struggle; as long as we live, we are in combat; as long as we are in combat, we are in peril; but, "in all these things we are conquerors through Him who loved us." [3824] Our combat ye heard of just now when the Apostle was being read. "All the law," saith he, "is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." [3825] This love is from the Holy Spirit. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." First see, if thou knowest yet how to love thyself; and then will I commit to thee the neighbour whom thou art to love as thyself. But if thou dost not yet know how to love thyself; I fear lest thou shouldest deceive thy neighbour as thyself. For if thou lovest iniquity, thou dost not love thyself. The Psalm is witness; "But whoso loveth iniquity, hateth his own soul." [3826] Now if thou hate thine own soul, what doth it profit thee that thou dost love thy flesh? If thou hate thine own soul and lovest thy flesh, thy flesh shall rise again; but only that thy soul may be tormented. Therefore the soul must first be loved, which is to be subdued unto God, that this service may maintain its due order, the soul to God, the flesh to the soul. Wouldest thou that thy flesh should serve thy soul? Let thy soul serve God. Thou oughtest to be ruled, that thou mayest be able to rule. For so perilous is this struggle, that if thy Ruler forsake thee, ruin must ensue.

6. What struggle? "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. But I say, Walk in the Spirit." [3827] I am quoting the words of the Apostle, which have been just read out of his Epistle. "But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." "But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and the lusts of the flesh," he did not say, "Ye shall not have;" nor did he say, "Ye shall not do;" but, "Ye shall not fulfil." Now what this is, with the Lord's assistance, I will declare as I shall be able; give attention, that ye may understand, if ye are walking in the Spirit. "But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." Let him follow on; if haply anything, as this which is here obscure, may be understood more easily by the sequel of his words. For I said, that it was not without a meaning that the Apostle would not say, "Ye shall not have the lusts of the flesh;" nor again would even say," Ye shall not do the lusts of the flesh;" but said, "Ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." He hath set forth this struggle before us. In this battle are we occupied, if we are in [3828] God's service. What then follows? "For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. For these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye do not the things that ye would." [3829] This, if it be not understood, is with exceeding peril heard. And therefore anxious as I am lest men by an evil interpretation should perish, I have undertaken with the Lord's assistance to explain these words to your affection. We have leisure enough, we have begun early in the morning, the hour of dinner does not press; on this day, the sabbath that is, they that hunger after the word of God are wont especially to meet together. Hear and attend, I will speak with what carefulness I can.

7. What then is that which I said, "Is heard with peril if it be not understood"? Many overcome by carnal and damnable lusts, commit all sorts of crimes and impurities, and wallow in such abominable uncleanness, as it is a shame even to mention; and say to themselves these words of the Apostle. See what the Apostle has said, "So that we cannot do the things that ye would." [3830] I would not do them, I am forced, I am compelled, I am overcome, "I do the things that I would not," [3831] as the Apostle says. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." You see with what peril this is heard, if it be not understood. You see how it concerns the pastor's office, to open the closed fountains, and to minister to the thirsty sheep the pure, harmless water.

8. Be not willing then to be overcome when thou fightest. See what kind of war, what kind of battle, what kind of strife he hath set forth, within, within thine own self. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit." If the Spirit lust not also against the flesh, commit adultery. But if the Spirit lust against the flesh, I see a struggle, I do not see a victory, it is a contest. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit." Adultery has its pleasure. I confess that it has its pleasure. But, "The Spirit lusteth against the flesh:" Chastity too has its pleasure. Therefore let the Spirit overcome the flesh; or by all means not be overcome by the flesh. Adultery seeks the darkness, chastity desires the light. As thou wouldest wish to appear to others, so live; as thou wouldest wish to appear to men, even when beyond the eyes of men so live; for He who made thee, even in the darkness seeth thee. Why is chastity praised publicly by all? Why do not even adulterers praise adultery? "Whoso" then "seeketh the truth, cometh to the light." [3832] But adultery has its pleasure. Be it contradicted, resisted, opposed. For it is not so that thou hast nothing wherewith to fight. Thy God is in thee, the good Spirit hath been given to thee. And notwithstanding this flesh of ours is permitted to lust against the spirit by evil suggestions and real [3833] delights. Be that secured which the Apostle saith, "Let not sin reign in your mortal body." [3834] He did not say, "Let it not be there." It is there already. And this is called sin, because it has befallen us through the wages [3835] of sin. For in Paradise the flesh did not lust against the spirit, nor was there this struggle there, where was peace only; but after the transgression, after that man was loth to serve God and was given up to himself; yet not so given up to himself as that he could so much as possess himself; but possessed by him, by whom deceived; the flesh began to lust against the Spirit. Now it is in the good that it lusteth against the Spirit; for in the bad it has nothing to lust against. For there doth it lust against the Spirit, where the Spirit is.

9. For when he says, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;" do not suppose that so much hath been attributed to the spirit of man. It is the Spirit of God who fighteth in thee against thyself, against that which in thee is against thee. For thou wouldest not stand to Godward; thou didst fall, wast broken; as a vessel when it falls from a man's hand to the ground, wast thou broken. And because thou wast broken, therefore art thou turned against thyself; therefore art thou contrary to thine own self. Let there be nought in thee contrary to thyself, and thou shalt stand in thine integrity. For that thou mayest know that this office appertaineth to the Holy Spirit; the Apostle saith in another place, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." [3836] From these words man was at once uplifting himself, as though by his own spirit he were able to mortify the deeds of the flesh. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if through the Spirit ye do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." Explain to us, Apostle, through what spirit? For man also hath a spirit appertaining to his proper nature, whereby he is man. For man consists of body and spirit. And of this spirit of man it is said, "No man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him." [3837] I see then that man himself hath his own spirit appertaining to his proper nature, and I hear thee saying, "But if through the Spirit ye do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." I ask, through what spirit; my own, or God's? For I hear thy words, and am still perplexed by this ambiguity. For when the word "spirit" is used, it is used sometimes of the spirit of a man, and of cattle, as it is written, that "all flesh which had in itself the spirit of life, died by the flood." [3838] And so the word spirit is spoken of cattle, and spoken of man too. Sometimes even the wind is called spirit; as it is in the Psalm, "Fire, hail, snow, frost, the spirit of the tempest." [3839] For as much then as the word "spirit" is used in many ways, by what spirit, O Apostle, hast thou said that the deeds of the flesh are to be mortified; by mine own, or by the Spirit of God? Hear what follows, and understand. The difficulty is removed by the following words. For when he had said, "But if through the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live;" [3840] he added immediately, "For as many as are acted [3841] upon by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Thou dost act, if thou art acted upon, and actest well, if thou art acted upon by the Good. So then when he said to thee, "If through the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live;" and it was doubtful with thee of what spirit he had spoken, in the words following understand the Master, acknowledge the Redeemer. For That Redeemer hath given thee the Spirit Whereby thou mayest mortify the deeds of the flesh. "For as many as are acted upon by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." They are not the sons of God if they are not acted upon by the Spirit of God. But if they are acted upon by the Spirit of God, they fight; because they have a mighty Helper. For God doth not look on at our combattings as the people do at the gladiators. [3842] The people may favour the gladiator, help him they cannot when he is in peril.

10. So then here to; "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." And what means, "So that ye cannot do the things that ye would"? For here is the peril with one who understands it amiss. Be it now my office to explain it, howsoever incompetent. "So that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Attend, ye holy ones, whosoever ye are that are fighting. To them that are battling do I speak. They who are fighting, understand; he that is not fighting, understands me not. Yea, he that is fighting, I will not say understands me, but anticipates me. What is the chaste man's wish? That no lust should rise up in his members at all opposed to chastity. He wisheth for peace, but as yet he hath it not. For when we shall have come to that state, where there shall rise up no lust at all to be opposed, there will be no enemy for us to struggle with; nor is victory a matter for expectation there, for that there is triumphing over the now vanquished foe. Hear of this victory, in the Apostle's own words; "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Now when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality; then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." Hear the voices of them that triumph; "O death, where is thy contention? O death, where is thy sting?" [3843] Thou hast smitten, thou hast wounded, thou hast thrown down; but He hath been wounded for me who made me. O death, death, He who made me hath been wounded for me, and by His Death hath overcome thee. And then in triumph shall they say, "O death, where is thy contention? O death, where is thy sting?"

11. But now, when "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," is the contention of death; we do not what we would. Why? Because we would that there should be no lusts, but we cannot hinder it. Whether we will or not, we have them; whether we will or not, they solicit, [3844] they allure, they sting, they disturb us, they will be rising. They are repressed, not yet extinguished. How long does the flesh lust against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh? Will it be so, even when the man is dead? God forbid! Thou puttest off the flesh, how then shall thou draw the lusts of the flesh along with thee? Nay, if thou hast fought well, thou shall be received into rest. And from this rest, thou passest to be crowned, not condemned; that thou mayest after it be brought to the Kingdom. As long then as we live here, my brethren, so it is; so is it with us even who have grown old in this warfare, less mighty enemies it is true we have, but yet we have them. Our enemies are in a measure wearied out even now by age; but nevertheless, wearied though they be, they do not cease to harass by such excitements as they can the quiet of old age. Sharper is the fight of the young; we know it well, we have passed through it: "The flesh" then "lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." For what would ye, O holy men, and good warriors, and brave soldiers of Christ? what would ye? That there should be no evil lusts at all. But ye cannot help it. Sustain [3845] the war, hope for triumph. For now in the meanwhile ye must fight. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would;" that is, that there should be no lusts of the flesh at all.

12. But do what ye are able; what the Apostle himself says in another place, which I had already begun to repeat; "Let not sin reign in your mortal body, to obey the desires thereof." [3846] Lo, what I would not; evil desires arise; but obey them not. Arm thyself, assume the weapons of war. The precepts of God are thy arms. If thou listen to me as thou shouldest, thou art armed even by that which I am speaking. "`Let not sin,' he says, `reign in your mortal body.' For as long as ye bear a mortal body, sin doth fight against you; but let it not reign." What is, "Let it not reign"? That is, "to obey the desires thereof." If ye begin to obey, it reigns. And what is it to obey, but to "yield your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin"? Nothing more excellent than this teacher. What wouldest thou that I should yet explain to thee? Do what thou hast heard. Yield not thy members instruments of iniquity unto sin. God hath given thee power by His Spirit to restrain thy members. Lust riseth up, restrain thy members; what can it do now that it hath risen? Restrain thou thy members; yield not thy members instruments of iniquity unto sin; arm not thine adversary against thyself. Restrain thy feet, that they go not after unlawful things. Lust hath risen up, restrain thy members; restrain thine hands from all wickedness; restrain the eyes, that they wander not astray; restrain the ears, that they hear not the words of lust with pleasure; restrain the whole body, restrain the sides, restrain its highest and lowest parts. What can lust do? How to rise up, it knoweth. How to conquer, it knoweth not. By rising up constantly without effect, it learns not even to rise.

13. Let us then return to the words, which I had set forth out of the Apostle as obscure, and we shall now see them to be plain. For this I had set forth, that the Apostle did not say, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not have the lusts of the flesh;" because we must necessarily have them. Why then did he not say, "Ye shall not do the lusts of the flesh"? Because we do them; for we do lust. The very lusting, is doing. But the Apostle says, "Now it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." [3847] What then hast thou to beware of? This doubtless, that thou fulfil them not. A damnable lust hath risen up, it hath risen, made its suggestion; let it not be heard. It burneth, and is not quieted, and thou wouldest that it should not burn. Where then is, "So that ye cannot do the things that ye would"? Do not give it thy members. Let it burn without effect, and it will spend itself. In thee then these lusts are done. It must be confessed, they are done. And therefore he said, "Ye shall not fulfil." Let them not then be fulfilled. Thou hast determined to do, thou hast fulfilled. For thou hast fulfilled it, if thou determinest upon committing adultery, and dost not commit it, because no place hath been found, because no opportunity is given, because, it may be, she for whom thou seemest to be disturbed is chaste; lo, now she is chaste, and thou art an adulterer. Why? Because thou hast fulfilled lusts. What is, "hast fulfilled"? Hast determined in thy mind upon committing adultery. If now, which God forbid, thy members too have wrought, thou hast fallen down headlong into death.

14. Christ raised up the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue who was dead in the house. [3848] She was in the house, she had not yet been carried out. So is the man who hath determined on some wickedness in his heart; he is dead, but he lies within. But if he has come as far as to the action of the members, he has been carried out of the house. But the Lord raised also the young man, the widow's son, when he was being carried out dead beyond the gate of the city. [3849] So then I venture to say, Thou hast determined in thine heart, if thou call thyself back from thy deed, thou wilt be cured before thou put it into action. For if thou repent in thine heart, that thou hast determined on some bad and wicked and abominable and damnable thing; there where thou wast lying dead, within, so within hast thou arisen. But if thou have fulfilled, now hast thou been carried out; but thou hast One to say to thee, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." Even though thou have perpetrated it, repent thee, return at once, come not to the sepulchre. But even here I find a third one dead, who was brought even to the sepulchre. He has now upon him the weight of habit, a mass of earth presses him down exceedingly. For he has been practised much in unclean deeds, and is weighed down exceedingly by his immoderate [3850] habit. Here too Christ crieth, "Lazarus, come forth." [3851] For a man of very evil habit "now stinketh." With good reason did Christ in that case cry out; and not cry out only, but with a loud Voice cried out. For at Christ's Cry even such as these, dead though they be, buried though they be, stinking though they be, yet even these shall rise again, they shall rise again. For of none that lieth dead need we despair under such a Raiser up. Turn we to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[3814] John v. 31. [3815] John xiv. 6. [3816] John v. 33, 35. [3817] Ps. cxxxii. 17. [3818] Ps. cxxxii. 18, Sept. [3819] Luke xx. 2, etc. [3820] 2 Cor. xiii. 3, Vulgate. [3821] Ps. lxviii. 18; Eph. iv. 8. [3822] Rom. v. 5. [3823] 2 Cor. iv. 7. [3824] Rom. viii. 37. [3825] Gal. v. 14. [3826] Ps. x. 5, Sept. (xi. 5, English version). [3827] Gal. v. 15, 16. [3828] Deo militamus. [3829] Gal. v. 17. [3830] Gal. v. 17. [3831] Rom. vii. 19. [3832] John iii. 21. [3833] Genuinis. [3834] Rom. vi. 12. [3835] Merito. [3836] Rom. viii. 13. [3837] 1 Cor. ii. 11. [3838] Gen. vi. 17 and vii. 22. [3839] Ps. cxlvii. 8, Sept. (cxlviii. 8, English version). [3840] Rom. viii. 13. [3841] Aguntur. [3842] Venatores. [3843] 1 Cor. xv. 53, etc. [3844] Titillant. [3845] Exercete. [3846] Rom. vi. 12. [3847] Rom. vii. 17. [3848] Mark v. 35. Vid. Serm. xlviii. (Ben. xcviii.). [3849] Luke vii. 12, etc. [3850] Nimiâ. [3851] John xi. 43. .


Sermon LXXIX.

[CXXIX. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John v. 39, "Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life," etc. Against the Donatists.

1. Give heed, Beloved, to the lesson of the Gospel which has just sounded in our ears, whilst I speak a few words as God shall vouchsafe to me. The Lord Jesus was speaking to the Jews, and said to them, "Search the Scriptures, in which ye think ye have eternal life, they testify of me." [3852] Then a little after He said, "I am come in My Father's Name, and ye have not received Me; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." [3853] Then a little after; "How can ye believe, who look for glory one from another, and seek not the glory which is of God only?" [3854] At last He saith, "I do not accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would haply believe Me also, for he wrote of Me. But seeing ye believe not his words, how can ye believe Me?" [3855] At these sayings which have been set before us from divine [3856] inspiration, out of the reader's mouth, but by the Saviour's ministry, give ear to a few words, not to be estimated by their number, but to be duly weighed.

2. For all these things it is easy to understand as touching the Jews. But we must beware, lest, when we give too much attention to them, we withdraw our eyes from ourselves. For the Lord was speaking to His disciples; and assuredly what He spake to them, He spake to us too their posterity. Nor to them only does what He said, "Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world," [3857] apply, but even to all Christians that should be after them, and succeed them even unto the end of the world. Speaking then to them He said, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." [3858] They at that time thought that the Lord had said this, because they had brought no bread; they did not understand that "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees" meant, "beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees." What was the doctrine of the Pharisees, but that which ye have now heard? "Seeking glory one of another, looking for glory one from another, and not seeking the glory which is of God only." Of these the Apostle Paul thus speaks; "I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." [3859] "They have," he says, "a zeal of God;" I know it, I am sure of it; I was once among them, I was such as they. "They have," he says, "a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." What is this, O Apostle, "not according to knowledge"? Explain to us what the knowledge is thou dost set forth, which thou dost grieve is not in them, and wouldest should be in us? He went on and subjoined and developed what he had set forth closed. What is, "They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge? For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own, have not submitted themselves into the righteousness of God." [3860] To be ignorant then of God's righteousness, and to wish to establish one's own, this is to "look for glory one from another, and not to seek the glory which is of God only." This is the leaven of the Pharisees. Of this the Lord bids beware. If it is servants that He bids, and the Lord that bids, let us beware; lest we hear, "Why say ye to Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" [3861]

3. Let us then leave a while the Jews to whom the Lord was then speaking. They are without, they will not listen to us, they hate the Gospel itself, they procured false witness against the Lord, that they might condemn Him when alive; other witness they bought with money against Him when dead. When we say to them, "Believe on Jesus," they answer us, "Are we to believe on a dead man?" But when we add, "But He rose again;" they answer, "Not [3862] at all;" His disciples stole Him away from the sepulchre. The Jewish buyers love falsehood and despise the truth of the Lord, the Redeemer. What thou art saying, O Jew, thy parents bought for money; and this which they bought hath continued in thee. Give heed rather to Him That bought thee, not to him who bought a lie for thee.

4. But as I have said, let us leave these, and attend rather to these our brethren, with whom we have to do. For Christ is the Head of the Body. The Head is in Heaven, the Body is on earth; the Head is the Lord, the Body His Church. But ye remember it is said, "They shall be two in one flesh." "This is a great mystery," [3863] says the Apostle, "but I speak in Christ and in the Church." [3864] If then they are two in one flesh, they are two in one voice. Our Head the Lord Christ spake to the Jews these things which we heard, when the Gospel was being read, The Head to His enemies; let the Body too, that is, the Church, speak to its enemies. Ye know to whom it should speak. What has it to say? It is not of myself that I have said, that the voice is one; because the flesh is one, the voice is one. Let us then say this to them; I am speaking with the voice of the Church. "O Brethren, dispersed children, wandering sheep, branches cut off, why do ye calumniate me? Why do ye not acknowledge me? "Search the Scriptures, in which ye think ye have eternal life, they testify of me;" to the Jews our Head saith, what the Body saith to you; "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me." [3865] Why? Because ye do not "search the Scriptures, which testify of me."

5. A testimony for the Head; "To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." [3866] A testimony for the body unto Abraham, which the Apostle hath brought forward. "To Abraham were the promises made. As I live, saith the Lord, I swear by Myself, because thou hast obeyed My Voice, and hast not spared thine own beloved son for Me, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the sea, and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed." [3867] Thou hast here a testimony for the Head, and one for the Body. Hear another, short, and almost in one sentence including a testimony for the Head and for the Body. The Psalm was speaking of the Resurrection of Christ; "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens." [3868] And immediately for the Body; "And Thy glory above all the earth." Hear a testimony for the Head; "They digged My Hands and My Feet, they numbered all My Bones; and they looked and stared upon Me; they divided My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture." [3869] Hear immediately a testimony for the Body, a few words after, "All the ends of the world shall remember themselves and be turned unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His sight; for the kingdom is the Lord's, and He shall have dominion over the nations." [3870] Hear for the Head; And "He is as a bridegroom coming forth out of His bride-chamber." [3871] And in this same Psalm hear for the Body; "Their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." [3872]

6. These passages are for the Jews, and for these of our own brethren. Why so? Because these Scriptures of the Old Testament both the Jews receive, and these our brethren receive. But Christ Himself, whom the others do not receive, let us see if these last receive. Let Him speak Himself, speak both for Himself who is the Head, and for His Body which is the Church; for so in us the head speaks for the body. Hear for the Head; He was risen from the dead, He found the disciples hesitating, doubting, not believing for joy; He "opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day." Thus for the Head; let Him speak for the Body too; "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." [3873] Let the Church then speak to her enemies, let her speak. She does speak clearly, she is not silent: only let them give ear. Brethren, ye have heard the testimonies, now acknowledge me. "Search the Scriptures, in which ye hope ye have eternal life: they testify of me." What I have said is not of mine own, but of my Lord's; and notwithstanding, ye still turn away, still turn your backs. "How can ye believe me, who look for glory one from another, and seek not the glory which is of God only? For being ignorant of God's righteousness, ye have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish your own, ye have not submitted yourselves to the righteousness of God." [3874] What else is it to be ignorant of God's righteousness, and to wish to establish your own, but to say, "It is I who sanctify, it is I who justify; what I may have given is holy"? Leave to God what is God's; recognise, O man, what is man's. Thou art ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishest to establish thine own. Thou dost wish to justify me; it is enough for thee that thou be justified with me.

7. It is said of Antichrist, and all understand of him what the Lord said, "I am come in My Father's Name, and ye have not received Me; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." [3875] But let us hear John too; "Ye have heard that Antichrist cometh, and even now are there many Antichrists." [3876] What is it in Antichrist that we are in horror of, but that he is to honour his own name, and to despise the Name of the Lord? What else doeth he that saith, "It is I that justify"? We answer him, "I came to Christ, not with my feet, but with my heart I came; where I heard the Gospel, there did I believe, there was I baptized; because I believed on Christ, I believed on God." Yet says he, "Thou art not clean." "Why?" "Because I was not there." "Tell me why am not I cleansed, a man who was baptized in Jerusalem, who was baptized, for instance, among the Ephesians, to whom an Epistle you read was written, and whose peace you despise? Lo, to the Ephesians the Apostle wrote; a Church was founded, and remains even to this day; yea, remains in greater fruitfulness, remains in greater numbers, holds fast that which it received of the Apostle, `If any man preach ought to you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.' [3877] What now? what dost thou say to me? Am I not clean? There was I baptized, am I not clean?" "No, even thou art not." "Why?" "Because I was not there." "But He who is everywhere was there. He who is everywhere was there, in whose Name I believed. Thou coming I know not whence, yea, rather not coming, but wishing that I should come to thee, fixed in this place, sayest to me, `Thou wast not baptized duly, seeing I was not there.' Consider who was there. What was said to John? `Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit descending like a dove, this is He which baptizeth.' [3878] Him hast thou seeking for thee; nay, for that thou hast grudged me who was baptized by Him, thou hast lost Him rather."

8. Understand then, my Brethren, our language and theirs, and look which ye would choose. This is what we say; "Be we holy, God knoweth it; be we unrighteous, this again He knoweth better; place not your hope in us, whatsoever we be. If we be good, do as is written, `Be ye imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.' [3879] But if we be bad, not even thus are ye abandoned, not even thus have ye remained without counsel: give ear to Him, saying, `Do what they say; but do not what they do.'" [3880] Whereas they on the contrary say, "If we were not good, ye were lost." Lo, here is "another that shall come in his own name." Shall my life then depend on thee, and my salvation be tied up in thee? Have I so forgotten my foundation? Was not Christ the Rock? [3881] Is it not that he that buildeth upon the rock, neither the wind nor the floods overthrow him? [3882] Come then, if thou wilt, with me upon the Rock, and do not wish to be to me for the rock.

9. Let the Church then say those last words also, "If ye had believed Moses, ye would believe me also; for he wrote of me;" [3883] for that I am His body of whom he wrote. And of the Church did Moses write. For I have quoted the words of Moses "In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed." [3884] Moses wrote this in the first book. If ye believed Moses, ye would also believe Christ. Because ye despise Moses' words, it must needs be that ye despise the words of Christ. "They have" there, saith He, "Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. Nay, father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead," him they will hear. "And He said, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead." [3885] This was said of the Jews: was it therefore not said of heretics? He had risen from the dead, who said, "It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day." This I believe. I believe it, he says. Dost thou believe? Wherefore believest thou not what follows? In that thou believest, "It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day;" this was spoken of the Head; believe also that which follows concerning the Church, "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached throughout all nations." [3886] Wherefore dost thou believe as touching the Head, and believest not as touching the Body? What hath the Church done to thee, that thou wouldest so to say behead her? Thou wouldest take away the Church's Head, and believe the Head, leave the Body as it were a lifeless trunk. It is all to no purpose that thou dost caress the Head, like any devoted servant. He that would take off the head, doth his best to kill both the head and the body. They are ashamed to deny Christ, yet are they not ashamed to deny Christ's words. Christ neither we nor ye have seen with our eyes. The Jews saw, and slew Him. We have not seen Him, and believe; His words are with us. Compare yourselves with the Jews: they despised Him hanging upon the Tree, ye despise Him sitting in heaven; at their suggestion Christ's title was set [3887] up, by your setting [3888] yourselves up, Christ's Baptism is effaced. But what remains, Brethren, but that we pray even for the proud, that we pray even for the puffed up, who so extol themselves? Let us say to God on their behalf, "Let them know that the Lord is Thy Name; and" not "that" men, but "Thou Only art the Most High over all the earth." [3889] Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[3852] John v. 39. [3853] John v. 43. [3854] John v. 44. [3855] John v. 45-47. [3856] Divinitus. [3857] Matt. xxviii. 20. [3858] Matt. xvi. 6. [3859] Rom. x. 2. [3860] Rom. x. 3. [3861] Matt. vii. 21; Luke vi. 46. [3862] Absit. [3863] Sacramentum. [3864] Eph. v. 31, 32. [3865] John vii. 36. [3866] Gal. iii. 16. [3867] Gen. xxii. 16, etc. [3868] Ps. lvii. 11. [3869] Ps. xxi. 17-19, Sept. (xxii. 16-18, English version). [3870] Ps. xxi. 28, 29, Sept. (xxii. 27, 28, English version). [3871] Ps. xix. 5. [3872] Ps. xix. 4. [3873] Luke xxiv. 45-47. [3874] Rom. x. 2, 3. [3875] John v. 43. [3876] 1 John ii. 18. [3877] Gal. i. 9. [3878] John i. 33. [3879] 1 Cor. iv. 16, xi. 1. [3880] Matt. xxiii. 3. [3881] 1 Cor. x. 4. [3882] Matt. vii. 25. [3883] John v. 46. [3884] Gen. xxii. 18. [3885] Luke xvi. 29-31. [3886] Luke xxiv. 46, etc. [3887] Stetit. [3888] Stantibus. [3889] Ps. lxxxii. 19, Sept. (lxxxiii. 18, English version).


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