Writings of Augustine. Sermons on the New Testament

Advanced Information

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.

.


Sermon LXXX.

[CXXX. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John vi. 9, where the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes is related.

1. It was a great miracle that was wrought, dearly beloved, for five thousand men to be filled with five loaves and two fishes, and the remnants of the fragments to fill twelve baskets. A great miracle: but we shall not wonder much at what was done, if we give heed to Him That did it. He multiplied the five loaves in the hands of them that brake them, who multiplieth the seeds that grow in the earth, so as that a few grains are sown, and whole barns are filled. But, because he doth this every year, no one marvels. Not the inconsiderableness [3890] of what is done, but its constancy takes away admiration of it. But when the Lord did these things, He spake to them that had understanding, not by words only, but even by the miracles themselves. The five loaves signified the five books of Moses' Law. The old Law is barley compared to the Gospel wheat. In those books are great mysteries concerning Christ contained. Whence He saith Himself, "If ye had believed Moses, ye would believe Me also; for he wrote of Me." [3891] But as in barley the marrow is hid under the chaff, so in the veil of the mysteries of the Law is Christ hidden. As those mysteries of the Law are developed and unfolded; so too those loaves increased when they were broken. And in this that I have explained to you, I have broken bread unto you. The five thousand men signify the people ordered under the five books of the Law. The twelve baskets are the twelve Apostles, who themselves too were filled with the fragments of the Law. The two fishes are either the two precepts of the love of God and our neighbour, or the two people of the circumcision and uncircumcision, or those two sacred personages of the king and the priest. As these things are explained, they are broken; when they are understood, they are eaten.

Text Font Face
.
Text Size
.
Background
Color
.
(for printing)
BELIEVE
Religious
Information
Source
web-site
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
E-mail
2. Let us turn to Him who did these things. He is Himself "The Bread which came down from heaven;" [3892] but Bread which refresheth the failing, and doth not fail; Bread which can be tasted, [3893] cannot be wasted. This Bread did the manna also figure. Wherefore it is said, "He gave them the Bread of heaven, man ate Angels' Bread." [3894] Who is the Bread of heaven, but Christ? But in order that man might eat Angels' Bread, the Lord of Angels was made Man. For if He had not been made Man, we should not have His Flesh; if we had not His Flesh, we should not eat the Bread of the Altar. Let us hasten to the inheritance, seeing we have hereby received a great earnest of it. My brethren, let us long for the life of Christ, seeing we hold as an earnest the Death of Christ. How shall He not give us His good things, who hath suffered our evil things? In this our earth, in this evil world, what abounds, but to be born, to labour, and to die? Examine thoroughly man's estate, convict me if I lie: consider all men whether they are in this world for any other end than to be born, to labour, and to die? This is the merchandize of our country: these things here abound. To such merchandize did that Merchantman descend. And forasmuch as every merchant gives and receives; gives what he has, and receives what he has not; when he procures anything, he gives money, and receives what he buys: so Christ too in this His traffic gave and received. But what received He? That which aboundeth here, to be born, to labour, and to die. And what did He give? To be born again, to rise again, and to reign for ever. O Good Merchant, buy us. Why should I say buy us, when we ought to give Thee thanks that Thou hast bought us? Thou dost deal out our Price to us, we drink Thy Blood; so dost thou deal out to us our Price. And we read the Gospel, our title [3895] deed. We are Thy servants, we are Thy creatures: Thou hast made us, Thou hast redeemed us. Any one can buy his servant, create him he cannot; but the Lord hath both created and redeemed His servants; created them, that they might be; redeemed them, that they might not be captives ever. For we fell into the hands of the prince of this world, who seduced Adam, and made him his servant, and began to possess us as his slaves. But the Redeemer came, and the seducer was overcome. And what did our Redeemer to him who held us captive? For our ransom he held out His Cross as a trap; he placed in It as a bait His Blood. He indeed had power to shed His Blood, he did not attain [3896] to drink it. And in that he shed the Blood of Him who was no debtor, he was commanded to render up the debtors; he shed the Blood of the Innocent, he was commanded to withdraw from the guilty. He verily shed His Blood to this end, that He might wipe out our sins. That then whereby he held us fast was effaced by the Redeemer's Blood. For he only held us fast by the bonds of our own sins. They were the captive's chains. He came, He bound the strong one with the bonds of His Passion; He entered into his house [3897] into the hearts, that is, of those where he did dwell, and took away his vessels. We are his vessels. He had filled them with his own bitterness. This bitterness too he pledged to our Redeemer in the gall. He had filled us then as his vessels; but our Lord spoiling his vessels, and making them His Own, poured out the bitterness, filled them with sweetness.

3. Let us then love Him, for He is sweet. "Taste and see that the Lord is sweet." [3898] He is to be feared, but to be loved still more. He is Man and God; the One Christ is Man and God; as one man is soul and body: but God and Man are not two Persons. In Christ indeed there are two substances, God and Man; but one Person, that the Trinity may remain, and that there be not a quaternity introduced by the addition of the human [3899] nature. How then can it be that God should not have mercy upon us, for whose sake God was made Man? Much is that which He hath done already; more wonderful is that which He hath done, than what He hath promised; and by that which He hath done, ought we to believe what He hath promised. For that which He hath done, we should scarcely believe, unless we also saw it. Where do we see it? In the peoples that believe, in the multitude that has been brought unto Him. For that hath been fulfilled which was promised to Abraham; [3900] and from these things which we see, we believe what we do not see. Abraham was one single man, and to him was it said, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." If he had looked to himself, when would he have believed? He was one single man, and was now old; and he had a barren wife, and one who was so far advanced in age, that she could not conceive, even though she had not been barren. There was nothing at all from which any hope could be drawn. But he looked to Him That gave the promise, and believed what he did not see. Lo, what he believed, we see. Therefore from these things which we see, we ought to believe what we see not. He begat Isaac, we saw it not; and Isaac begat Jacob, and this we did not see; and Jacob begat twelve sons, and them we saw not; and his twelve sons begat the people of Israel; this great people we see. I have now begun to mention those things which we do see. Of the people of Israel was born the Virgin Mary, and she gave birth to Christ; and, lo, in Christ all nations are blessed. What more true? more certain? more plain? Together with me, long after the world to come, ye who have been gathered together out of the nations. In this world hath God fulfilled His promise concerning the seed of Abraham. How shall He not give us His eternal promises, whom He hath made to be Abraham's seed? For this the Apostle saith: "But if ye be Christ's" (they are the Apostle's words), "then are ye Abraham's seed." [3901]

4. We have begun to be some great thing; let no man despise himself: we were once nothing; but we are something. We have said unto the Lord, "Remember that we are dust;" [3902] but out of the dust He made man, and to dust He gave life, and in Christ our Lord hath He already brought this same dust to the Kingdom of Heaven. For from this dust took He flesh, from this took earth, and hath raised earth to heaven, He who made heaven and earth. If then these two new things, not yet done, were set before us, and it were asked of us, "Which is the most wonderful, that He who is God should be made Man, or he who is man should be made a man of God? which is the more wonderful? which the more difficult?" What hath Christ promised us? That which as yet we see not; that is, that we should be His men, and reign with Him, and never die? This is so to say with difficulty believed, that a man once born should arrive at that life, where he shall never die. This is what we believe with a heart well cleansed, [3903] cleansed, I mean, of the world's dust; that this dust close not up our eye of faith. This it is that we are bid believe, that after we have been dead, we shall be even with our dead bodies in life, where we shall never die. Wonderful it is; but more wonderful is that which Christ hath done. For which is the more incredible, that man should live for ever, or that God should ever die? That men should receive life from God is the more credible; that God should receive death from men I suppose is the more incredible. Yet this hath been brought to pass already: let us then believe that which is to be. If that which is the more incredible hath been brought to pass, shall He not give us that which is the more credible? For God hath power to make of men Angels, who hath made of earthy and filthy spawn, [3904] men. What shall we be? Angels. What have we been? I am ashamed to call it to mind; I am forced to consider it, yet I blush to tell it. What have we been? Whence did God make men? What were we before we were at all? We were nothing. When we were in our mother's wombs, what were we? It is enough that ye remember. Withdraw your minds from the whence ye were made, and think of what ye are. Ye live; but so do herbs and trees live. Ye have sensation, and so have cattle sensation. Ye are men, ye have got beyond the cattle, ye are superior to the cattle; for that ye understand how great things He hath done for you. Ye have life, ye have sensation, ye have understanding, ye are men. Now to this benefit what can be compared? Ye are Christians. For if we had not received this, what would it profit us, that we were men! So then we are Christians, we belong to Christ. For all the world's rage, it doth not break us; because we belong to Christ. For all the world's caresses, it doth not seduce us; we belong to Christ.

5. A great Patron have we found, Brethren. Ye know that men depend [3905] much upon their patrons. A dependent of a man in power will make answer to any one who threatens him. "Thou canst do nothing to me, as long as my lord's head is safe." How much more boldly and surely may we say, "Thou canst do nothing to us, whilst our Head is safe." Forasmuch as our Patron is our Head. Whosoever depend upon any man as patron, are his dependents; we are the members of our Patron. Let Him bear us in Himself, and let no man tear us away from Him. Since what labours soever we shall have endured in this world, all that passeth away, is nothing. The good things shall come which shall not pass away; by labours we arrive at them. But when we have arrived, no one teareth us away from them. The gates of Jerusalem are shut; they receive the bolts too, that to that city it may be said, "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem, praise thy God, O Sion. For He hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates; He hath blessed thy children within thee. Who hath made thy borders peace." [3906] When the gates are shut, and the bolts drawn, no friend goeth out, no enemy entereth in. There shall we have true and assured security, if here we shall not have abandoned the truth.

Footnotes

[3890] Vilitas. [3891] John v. 46. [3892] John vi. 41. [3893] Qui sumi potest, consumi non potest. [3894] Ps. lxxvii. 24, 25, Sept. (lxxviii. English version). [3895] Instrumentum. [3896] Meruit. [3897] Matt. xii. 29. [3898] Ps. xxxiii. 8, Vulgate (xxxiv. 8, English version). [3899] Homine. Vid. Serm. xvii. (lxvii. Ben.) 7 (iv.), note. [3900] Gen. xii. 3. [3901] Gal. iii. 29. [3902] Ps. cii. 14, Sept. (ciii. English version). [3903] Excusso. [3904] Semina. [3905] Tendunt se. [3906] Ps. cxlvii. 12-14. .


Sermon LXXXI.

[CXXXI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John vi. 53, "Except ye eat the flesh," etc., and on the words of the apostles. And the Psalms. Against the Pelagians.

Delivered at the Table of the Martyr St. Cyprian, the 9th

of the Calends of October,--23 Sept., on the Lord's day.

1. We have heard the True Master, the Divine Redeemer, the human Saviour, commending to us our Ransom, His Blood. For He spake to us of His Body and Blood; He called His Body Meat, His Blood Drink. The faithful recognise the Sacrament of the faithful. But the hearers what else do they but hear? When therefore commending such Meat and such Drink He said, "Except ye shall eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, ye shall have no life in you;" [3907] (and this that He said concerning life, who else said it but the Life Itself? But that man shall have death, not life, who shall think that the Life is false), His disciples were offended, not all of them indeed, but very many, saying within themselves, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" [3908] But when the Lord knew this in Himself, and heard the murmurings of their thought, He answered them, thinking though uttering nothing, that they might understand that they were heard, and might cease to entertain such thoughts. What then did He answer? "Doth this offend you?" "What then if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?" [3909] What meaneth this? "Doth this offend you?" "Do ye imagine that I am about to make divisions of this My Body which ye see; and to cut up My Members, and give them to you? `What then if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?'" Assuredly, He who could ascend Whole could not be consumed. So then He both gave us of His Body and Blood a healthful refreshment, and briefly solved so great a question as to His Own Entireness. Let them then who eat, eat on, and them that drink, drink; let them hunger and thirst; eat Life, drink Life. That eating, is to be refreshed; but thou art in such wise refreshed, as that that whereby thou art refreshed, faileth not. That drinking, what is it but to live? Eat Life, drink Life; thou shalt have life, and the Life is Entire. But then this shall be, that is, the Body and the Blood of Christ shall be each man's Life; if what is taken in the Sacrament visibly is in the truth itself eaten spiritually, drunk spiritually. For we have heard the Lord Himself saying, "It is the Spirit That quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken unto you, are Spirit and Life. But there are some of you," saith He, "that believe not." [3910] Such were they who said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" It is hard, but only to the hard; that is, it is incredible, but only to the incredulous.

2. But in order to teach us that this very believing is matter of gift, not of desert, He saith, "As I have said unto you, no man cometh unto Me, except it were given him of My Father." [3911] Now as to where the Lord said this, if we call to mind the foregoing words of the Gospel, we shall find that He had said, "No man cometh unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." [3912] He did not lead, but draw. This violence is done to the heart, not the body. Why then dost thou marvel? Believe, and thou comest; love, and thou art drawn. Do not suppose here any rough and uneasy violence; it is gentle, it is sweet; it is the very sweetness that draweth thee. Is not a sheep drawn, when fresh grass is shown to it in its hunger? Yet I imagine that it is not bodily driven on, but fast bound by desire. In such wise do thou come too to Christ; do not conceive of long journeyings; where thou believest, there thou comest. For unto Him, who is everywhere we come by love, not by sailing. But forasmuch as even in this kind of voyage, waves and tempests of divers temptations abound; believe on the Crucified; that thy faith may be able to ascend the Wood. Thou shalt not sink, but shalt be borne upon the Wood. Thus, even thus, amid the waves of this world did he sail, who said, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." [3913]

3. But wonderful it is, that when Christ Crucified is preached, two hear, one despiseth, the other ascendeth. Let him that despiseth, impute it to himself; let not him that ascendeth, arrogate it to himself. For he hath heard from the True Master; "No man cometh unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father." Let him joy, that it hath been given; let him render thanks to Him who giveth it, with a humble, not an arrogant heart; lest what he hath attained [3914] through humility, he lose through pride. For even they who are already walking in this way of righteousness, if they attribute it to themselves, and to their own strength, perish out of it. And therefore Holy Scripture teaching us humility saith by the Apostle, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." [3915] And lest hereupon they should attribute ought to themselves, because he said, "Work," he subjoined immediately, "For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." [3916] "It is God who worketh in you;" therefore "with fear and trembling," make a valley, receive the rain. Low grounds are filled, high grounds are dried up. Grace is rain. Why dost thou marvel then, if "God resist the proud, and giveth grace unto the lowly"? [3917] Therefore, "with fear and trembling;" that is, with humility. "Be not high-minded, but fear." [3918] Fear that thou mayest be filled; be not high-minded, lest thou be dried up.

4. But you will say, "I am walking in this way already; once there was need for me to learn, there was need for me to know by the teaching of the law what I had to do: now I have the free choice of the will; who shall withdraw me from this way?" If thou read carefully, thou wilt find that a certain man began to uplift himself, on a certain abundance of his, which he had nevertheless received; but that the Lord in mercy, to teach him humility, took away what He had given; and he was on a sudden reduced to poverty, and confessing the mercy of God in his recollection, he said, "In my abundance I said, I shall never be moved." [3919] "In my abundance I said." But I said it, I who am a man said it; "All men are liars, I said." [3920] Therefore, "in my abundance I said;" so great was the abundance, that I dared to say, "I shall never be moved." What next? "O Lord, in Thy favour Thou gavest strength to my beauty." But "Thou turnedst away Thy Face from me, and I was troubled." [3921] "Thou hast shown me," saith he, "that that wherein I did abound, was of Thee. Thou hast shown me Whence I should seek, to Whom attribute what I had received, to Whom I ought to render thanks, to Whom I should run in my thirst, Whereby be filled, and with Whom keep that whereby I should be filled. `For my strength will I keep to Thee;' [3922] whereby I am by Thy bounty filled, through Thy safe keeping I will not lose. `My strength will I keep to Thee.' That Thou mightest show me this, `Thou turnedst away Thy Face from me, and I was troubled.' `Troubled,' because dried up; dried up, because exalted. Say then thou dry and parched one, that thou mayest be filled again; `My soul is as earth without water unto Thee.' [3923] Say, `My soul is as earth without water unto Thee.' For Thou hast said, not the Lord, `I shall never be moved.' Thou hast said it, presuming on thine own strength; but it was not of thyself, and thou didst think as if it were."

5. What then doth the Lord say? "Serve ye the Lord in fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling." [3924] So the Apostle too, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who worketh in you." Therefore rejoice with trembling: "Lest at any time the Lord be angry." I see that you anticipate me by your crying out. For you know what I am about to say, you anticipate it by crying out. And whence have ye this, but that He taught you to whom ye have by believing come? This then He saith; hear what ye know already; I am not teaching, but in preaching am calling to your remembrance; nay, I am neither teaching, seeing that ye know already, nor calling to remembrance, seeing that ye remember, but let us say all together what together with us ye retain. "Embrace discipline, and rejoice," but, "with trembling," [3925] that, humble ye may ever hold fast that which ye have received. "Lest at any time the Lord be angry;" with the proud of course, attributing to themselves what they have, not rendering thanks to Him, from whom they have. "Lest at any time the Lord be angry, and ye perish from the righteous way." Did he say, Lest at any time the Lord be angry, and ye come not into the righteous way"? Did he say, "Lest the Lord be angry, and He bring you not to the righteous way"? or "admit you not into the righteous way? Ye are walking in it already, be not proud, lest ye even perish from it. `And ye perish,' saith he, `from the righteous way.'" "When His wrath shall be kindled in a short time" [3926] against you. At no distant time. As soon as thou art proud, thou losest at once what thou hadst received. As though man terrified by all this were to say, "What shall I do then?" It follows, "Blessed are all they that trust in Him:" not in themselves, but in Him. "By grace are we saved, not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God." [3927]

6. Peradventure ye are saying, "What does he mean, that he is so often saying this? A second and a third time he says it; and scarcely ever speaks, but when he says it." Would that I may not say it in vain! For men there are unthankful to grace, attributing much to poor and disabled nature. True it is, when man was created he received great power of free-will; but he lost it by sin. He fell into death, became infirm, was left in the way by the robbers half dead; the Samaritan, which is by interpretation keeper, passing by lifted him up on his own beast; [3928] he is still being brought to the inn. Why is he lifted up? He is still in process of curing. "But," he will say, "it is enough for me that in baptism I received remission of all sins." Because iniquity was blotted out, was therefore infirmity brought to an end? "I received," says he, "remission of all sins." It is quite true. All sins were blotted out in the Sacrament of Baptism, all entirely, of words, deeds, thoughts, all were blotted out. But this is the "oil and wine" which was poured in by the way. Ye remember, beloved Brethren, that man who was wounded by the robbers, and half dead by the way, how he was strengthened, by receiving oil and wine for his wounds. His error indeed was already pardoned, and yet his weakness is in process of healing in the inn. The inn, if ye recognise it, is the Church. In the time present, an inn, because in life we are passing by: it will be a home, whence we shall never remove, when we shall have got in perfect health unto the kingdom of heaven. Meanwhile receive we gladly our treatment in the inn, and weak as we still are, glory we not of sound health: lest through our pride we gain nothing else, but never for all our treatment to be cured.

7. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." [3929] Say, yea say to thy soul, "Thou art still in this life, still bearest about a frail flesh, still "doth the corruptible body press down the soul;" [3930] still after the entireness of remission hast thou received the remedy of prayer; for still, whilst thy weaknesses are being healed, dost thou say, "Forgive us our debts." [3931] Say then to thy soul, thou lowly valley, not an exalted hill; say to thy soul, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." [3932] What benefits? Tell them, enumerate them, render thanks. What benefits? "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities." [3933] This took place in baptism. What takes place now? "Who healeth all thy weaknesses." This takes place now; I acknowledge. But as long as I am here, "the corruptible body presseth down the soul." Say then also that which comes next, "Who redeemeth thy life from corruption." [3934] After redemption from corruption, what remaineth? "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. Where, O death, is thy contention?" There rightly, "O death, where is thy sting?" [3935] Thou seekest its place, and findest it not. What is "the sting of death"? What is, "O death, where is thy sting?" Where is sin? Thou seekest, and it is nowhere. For "the sting of death is sin." They are the Apostle's words, not mine. Then shall it be said, "O death, where is thy sting?" Sin shall nowhere be, neither to surprise thee, nor to assault thee, nor to inflame [3936] thy conscience. Then it shall not be said, "Forgive us our debts." But what shall be said? "O Lord our God, give us peace: for Thou hast rendered all things unto us." [3937]

8. Finally, after the redemption from all corruption, what remaineth but the crown of righteousness? This at least remaineth, but even in it, or under it, let not the head be swollen that it may receive the crown. Hear, mark well the Psalm, how that crown will not have a swollen head. After he had said, "Who redeemeth thy life from corruption;" he saith, "Who crowneth thee." Here thou wert ready at once to say, "`Crowneth thee,' is an acknowledgment of my merits, my own excellence hath done it; it is the payment of a debt, not a gift." Give ear rather to the Psalm. For it is thou again that sayest this; and "all men are liars." [3938] Hear what God saith; "Who crowneth thee with mercy and pity." Of His mercy He crowneth thee, of His pity He crowneth thee. For thou hadst no worthiness that He should call thee, and being called should justify thee, being justified glorify thee. "The remnant is saved by the election of grace. But if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. For to him that worketh, the reward shall not be reckoned according to grace, but according to debt." [3939] The Apostle saith, "Not according to grace, but according to debt." But "thee He crowneth with pity and mercy;" and if thy own merits have gone before, God saith to thee, "Examine well thy merits, and thou shalt see that they are My gifts."

9. This then is the righteousness of God. As it is called, "The Lord's salvation," [3940] not whereby the Lord is saved, but which He giveth to them whom He saveth; so too the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord is called the righteousness of God, not as that whereby the Lord is righteous, but whereby He justifieth those whom of ungodly He maketh righteous. But some, as the Jews in former times, both wish to be called Christians, and still ignorant of God's righteousness, desire to establish their own, even in our own times, in the times of open grace, the times of the full revelation of grace which before was hidden; in the times of grace now manifested in the floor, which once lay hid in the fleece. I see that a few have understood me, that more have not understood, whom I will by no means defraud by keeping silence. Gideon, one of the righteous men of old, asked for a sign from the Lord, and said, "I pray, Lord, that this fleece which I put in the floor be bedewed, [3941] and that the floor be dry." [3942] And it was so; the fleece was bedewed, the whole floor was dry. In the morning he wrung out the fleece in a basin; forasmuch as to the humble is grace given; and in a basin, ye know what the Lord did to His disciples. Again, he asked for another sign; "O Lord, I would," saith he, "that the fleece be dry, the floor bedewed." And it was so. Call to mind the time of the Old Testament, grace was hidden in a cloud, as the rain in the fleece. Mark now the time of the New Testament, consider well the nation of the Jews, thou wilt find it as a dry fleece; whereas the whole world, like that floor, is full of grace, not hidden, but manifested. Wherefore we are forced exceedingly to bewail our brethren, who strive not against hidden, but against open and manifested grace. There is allowance for the Jews. What shall we say of Christians? Wherefore are ye enemies to the grace of Christ? Why rely ye on yourselves? Why unthankful? For why did Christ come? Was not nature here before? Was not nature here, which ye only deceive by your excessive praise? Was not the Law here? But the Apostle says, "If righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain." [3943] What the Apostle says of the Law, that say we of nature to these men. "If righteousness come by nature, then Christ is dead in vain."

10. What then was said of the Jews, the same altogether do we see in these men now. "They have a zeal of God: I hear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." [3944] What is, "not according to knowledge"? "For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own, they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." [3945] My Brethren, share with me in my sorrow. When ye find such as these, do not hide them; be there no such misdirected [3946] mercy in you; by all means, when ye find such, hide them not. Convince the gainsayers, and those who resist, bring to us. For already have two [3947] councils on this question been sent to the Apostolic see; and rescripts also have come from thence. The question has been brought to an issue; would that their error may sometime be brought to an issue too! Therefore do we advise that they may take heed, we teach that they may be instructed, we pray that they may be changed. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[3907] John vi. 53. [3908] John vi. 60. [3909] John vi. 61, 62. [3910] John vi. 63, 64. [3911] John vi. 65. [3912] John vi. 44. [3913] Gal. vi. 14. [3914] Meruit. [3915] Phil. ii. 12. [3916] Phil. ii. 13. [3917] Jas. iv. 6. [3918] Rom. xi. 20. [3919] Ps. xxix. 6, Sept. (xxx. English version). [3920] Ps. cxvi. 11. [3921] Ps. xxix. 8, Sept. (xxx. 7, English version). [3922] Ps. lviii. 10, Sept. (lix. 9, English version). [3923] Ps. cxlii. 6, Sept. (cxliii. English version). [3924] Ps. ii. 11, Sept. [3925] Ps. ii. 12, Sept. [3926] Ps. ii. 13, Sept. [3927] Eph. ii. 8. [3928] Luke x. 30, etc. [3929] Ps. ciii. 1. [3930] Wisd. ix. 15. [3931] Matt. vi. 12. [3932] Ps. ciii. 2. [3933] Ps. ciii. 3. [3934] Ps. ciii. 4. [3935] 1 Cor. xv. 54, 55. [3936] Titillet. [3937] Isa. xxvi. 12, Sept. [3938] Ps. cxvi. 11. [3939] Rom. xi. 5, 6, iv. 4. [3940] Ps. iii. 9, Sept. (iii. 8, English version). [3941] Compluatur. [3942] Judg. vi. 37. [3943] Gal. ii. 21. [3944] Rom. x. 2. [3945] Rom. x. 3. [3946] Perversa. [3947] Of Carthage and Milevis which are among the Epistles of St. Augustin, 175, 176. And the rescripts of the Roman Pontiff, Innocent (A.D. 417), in the Epistles 181, 182. Ben. ed. note. .


Sermon LXXXII.

[CXXXII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John vi. 55,"For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh," etc.

1. As we heard when the Holy Gospel was being read, the Lord Jesus Christ exhorted us by the promise of eternal life to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. Ye that heard these words, have not all as yet understood them. For those of you who have been baptized and the faithful do know what He meant. But those among you who are yet called Catechumens, or Hearers, could be hearers, when it was being read, could they be understanders too? Accordingly our discourse is directed to both. Let them who already eat the Flesh of the Lord and drink His Blood, think What it is they eat and drink, lest, as the Apostle says, "They eat and drink judgment to themselves." [3948] But they who do not yet eat and drink, let them hasten when invited to such a Banquet. Throughout these days the teachers feed you. Christ daily feedeth you, That His Table is ever ordered before you. What is the reason. O Hearers, that ye see the Table, and come not to the Banquet? And peradventure, just now when the Gospel was being read, ye said in your hearts, "We are thinking what it is that He saith, `My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed.' [3949] How is the Flesh of the Lord eaten, and the Blood of the Lord drunk? We are thinking what He saith." Who hath closed it against thee, that thou dost not know this? There is a veil over it; but if thou wilt, the veil shall be taken away. Come to the profession, [3950] and thou hast resolved the difficulty. For what the Lord Jesus said, the faithful know well already. But thou art called a Catechumen, art called a Hearer, and art deaf. For the ears of the booty thou hast open, seeing that thou hearest the words which were spoken; but the ears of the heart thou hast still closed, seeing thou understandest not what was spoken. I plead, [3951] I do not discuss it. Lo, Easter [3952] is at hand, give in thy name for baptism. If the festivity arouse thee not, let the very curiosity induce thee: that thou mayest know the meaning of, Whoso eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood dwelleth in Me, and I in him." [3953] That thou mayest know with me what is meant, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto thee:" [3954] and as I say to thee, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto thee," so do I too knock, open thou to me. When I speak aloud to the ears, I knock at the breast.

2. But if the Catechumens, my Brethren, are to be exhorted not to delay to approach to this so great grace of regeneration; what great care ought we to have in building up the faithful, that their approaching may profit them, and that they eat and drink not such a Banquet unto their own judgment? Now that they may not eat and drink unto judgment, let them live well. Be ye exhorters, not by words, but by your conduct; that they who have not been baptized, may in such wise hasten to follow you, that they perish not by imitating you. Do ye who are married keep the fidelity of the marriage-bed with your wives. Render what you require. As a husband thou requirest chastity from thy wife; give her an example, not words. Thou art the head, look where thou goest. For thou oughtest to go where it may not be dangerous for her to follow: yea, thou oughtest to walk thyself where thou wouldest have her follow. Thou requirest strength from the weaker sex; the lust of the flesh ye have both of you: let him that is the stronger, be the first to conquer. And yet, which is to be lamented, many men are conquered by the women. Women preserve chastity, which men will not preserve; and in that they preserve it not, would wish to appear men: as though he was in sex the stronger, only that the enemy might more easily subdue him. There is a struggle, a war, a combat. The man is stronger than the woman, the "man is the head of the woman." [3955] The woman combats and overcomes; dost thou succumb to the enemy? The body stands firm, and does the head lie low? But those of you who have not yet wives, and who yet already approach to the Lord's Table, and eat the Flesh of Christ, and drink His Blood, if ye are about to marry, keep yourselves for your wives. As ye would have them come to you, such ought they also to find you. What young man is there who would not wish to marry a chaste wife? And if he were to espouse a virgin who would not desire she should be unpolluted? Thou lookest for one unpolluted, be unpolluted thyself. Thou lookest for one pure, be not thyself impure. For it is not that she is able, and thou art not able. If it were not possible, then could not she be so. But, seeing that she can, let this teach thee, that it is possible. And that she may have this power, God is her ruler. But thou wilt have greater glory if thou shalt do it. Why greater glory? The vigilance of parents is a check to her, the very modesty of the weaker sex is a bridle to her; lastly, she is in fear of the laws of which thou art not afraid. Therefore it is then that thou wilt have greater glory if thou shalt do it; because if thou do it, thou fearest God. She has many things to fear besides God, thou fearest God alone. But He whom thou fearest is greater than all. He is to be feared in public, He in secret. Thou goest out, thou art seen; thou goest in, thou art seen; the lamp is lighted, He seeth thee; the lamp is extinguished, He seeth thee; thou enterest into thy closet, He seeth thee; in the retirement [3956] of thine own heart, He seeth thee. Fear Him, Him whose care it is to see thee; and even by this fear be chaste. Or if thou wilt sin, seek for some place where He may not see thee, and do what thou wouldest.

3. But ye who have taken the vow already, chasten your bodies more strictly, and suffer not yourselves to loosen the reins of concupiscence even after those things which are permitted; that ye may not only turn away from an unlawful connection, [3957] but may despise even a lawful look. Remember, in whichever sex ye are, whether men or women, that ye are leading on earth the life of Angels: "For the Angels are neither given in marriage, nor marry." [3958] This shall we be, when we shall have risen again. How much better are ye, who before death begin to be what men will be after the resurrection! Keep your proper degrees, for God keepeth for you your honours. The resurrection of the dead is compared to the stars that are set in heaven. "For star differeth from star in glory," as the Apostle says; "so also is the resurrection of the dead." [3959] For after one manner virginity shall shine there, after another shall wedded chastity shine there, after another shall holy widowhood shine there. They shall shine diversely, but all shall be there. The brilliancy unequal, the heaven the same.

4. With your thoughts then on your degrees, and keeping your professions, approach ye to the Flesh of the Lord, approach to the Blood of the Lord. Whoso knoweth himself to be otherwise, let him not approach. Be moved to compunction rather by my words. For they who know that they are keeping for their wives, what from their wives they require, they who know that they are in every way keeping continence, if this they have vowed to God, feel joy at my words; but they who hear me say, "Whosoever of you are not keeping chastity, approach not to that Bread," are saddened. And I should have no wish to say this; but what can I do? Shall I fear man, so as to suppress the truth? What, if those servants do not fear the Lord, shall I therefore too not fear? as if I do not know that it is said, "`Thou wicked and slothful servant,' [3960] thou shouldest dispense, and I require." Lo, I have dispensed, O Lord my God; lo, in Thy Sight, and in the sight of Thy Holy Angels, and of this Thy people, I have laid out Thy money; for I am afraid of Thy judgment. I have dispensed, do Thou require. Though I should not say it, Thou wouldest do it. Therefore I rather say, I have dispensed, do Thou convert, do Thou spare. Make them chaste who have been unchaste, that in Thy Sight we may rejoice together when the judgment shall come, both he who hath dispensed and he to whom it hath been dispensed. Doth this please you? May it do so! Whosoever of you are unchaste, amend yourselves, whilst ye are alive. For I have power to speak the word of God, but to deliver the unchaste, who persevere in wickedness, from the judgment and condemnation of God, have I no power.

Footnotes

[3948] 1 Cor. xi. 29. [3949] John vi. 55. [3950] Baptismal profession. [3951] Disputo non dissero. [3952] Pascha. [3953] John vi. 56. [3954] Matt. vii. 7. [3955] Eph. v. 23. [3956] In corde versaris. [3957] Concubitu. [3958] Matt. xxii. 30. [3959] 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42. [3960] Matt. xxv. 26. .


Sermon LXXXIII.

[CXXXIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel of John vii. 6, etc., where Jesus said that He was not going up unto the feast, and notwithstanding went up.

1. I Purpose by the Lord's assistance to treat of this section [3961] of the Gospel which has just been read; nor is there a little difficulty here, lest the truth be endangered, and falsehood glory. Not that either the truth can perish, nor falsehood triumph. Now hearken for a while what difficulty this lesson has; and being made attentive by the propounding of the difficulty, pray that I may be sufficient for its solution. "The Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand;" [3962] these it seems are the days which they observe even to this day, when they build huts. [3963] For this solemnity of theirs is called from the building of tabernacles; since skene means a "tabernacle," skenopegia is the building of a tabernacle. These days were kept as feast days among the Jews; and it was called one feast day, not because it was over in one day, but because it was kept up by a continued festivity; just as the feast day of the Passover, and the feast day of unleavened bread, and notwithstanding, as is manifest, that feast is kept throughout many days. This anniversary then was at hand in Judæa, the Lord Jesus was in Galilee, where He had also been brought up, where too He had relations and kinsfolk, whom Scripture calls "His brethren." "His brethren, therefore," as we have heard it read, "said unto Him, Pass from hence, and go into Judæa; that Thy disciples also may see Thy works that Thou doest. For no man doeth anything in secret, and himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, manifest Thyself to the world." [3964] Then the Evangelist subjoins, "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." [3965] If then they did not believe in Him, the words they threw out were of envy. "Jesus answered them, My time is not yet come; but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up to this feast day. I go [3966] not up to this feast day, for My time is not yet accomplished." [3967] Then follows the Evangelist; "When He had said these words, He Himself stayed in Galilee. But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up to the feast day, not openly, but as it were in secret." [3968] Thus far is the extent of the difficulty, all the rest is clear.

2. What then is the difficulty? what makes the perplexity? what is in peril? Lest the Lord, yea, to speak more plainly, lest the Truth Itself should be thought to have lied. For if we would have it thought that He lied, the weak will receive an authority for lying. We have heard say that He lied. For those who think that He lied, speak thus, "He said that He should not go up to the feast day, and He went up." In the first place then, let us, as far as in the press of time we can, see whether he does lie, who says a thing and does it not. For example, I have told a friend, "I will see you to-morrow;" some greater necessity occurs to hinder me; I have not on that account spoken falsely. For when I made the promise, I meant what I said. But when some greater matter occurred, which hindered the accomplishment [3969] of my promise, I had no design to lie, but I was not able to fulfil the promise. Lo, to my thinking I have used no labour to persuade you, but have merely suggested to your good sense, [3970] that he who promises something, and doeth it not, does not lie, if, that he do it not, something has occurred to hinder the fulfilment of his promise, not to be any proof of falsehood.

3. But some one who hears me will say, "Canst thou then say this of Christ, that He either was not able to fulfil what He would, or that He did not know things to come?" Thou doest well, good is thy suggestion, right thy hint; but, O man, share with me my anxiety. Dare we to say that He lies, Who we do not dare to say is weak in power? I for my part, to the best of my thinking, as far as according to my infirmity I am able to judge, would choose that a man should be deceived in any matter rather than lie in any. For to be deceived is the portion of infirmity, to lie of iniquity. "Thou hatest, O Lord," saith he, "all them that work iniquity." [3971] And immediately after, "Thou shalt destroy all them that speak a lie." [3972] Either "iniquity" and "a lie" are upon a level; or, "Thou shalt destroy," is more than "Thou hatest." For he who is held in hatred, is not immediately punished by destruction. But let that question be, whether there be ever a necessity to lie; for I am not now discussing that; it is a dark question, and has many lappings; [3973] I have not time to cut them, and to come to the quick. [3974] Therefore let the treatment of it be deferred to some other time; for peradventure it will be cured by the Divine assistance without any words of mine. But attend and distinguish between what I have deferred, and what I wish to treat of to-day. Whether on any occasion one may lie, this difficult and most obscure question I defer. But whether Christ lied, whether the Truth spake anything false, this, being reminded of it by the Gospel lesson, have I undertaken to-day.

4. Now what the difference is between being deceived, and lying, I will briefly state. He is deceived who thinks what he says to be true, and therefore says it, because he thinks it true. Now if this which he that is deceived says, were true, he would not be deceived; if it were not only true, but he also knew it to be true, he would not lie. He is deceived then, in that it is false, and he thinks it true; but he only says it because he thinks it true. The error lies in human infirmity, not in the soundness of the conscience. But whosoever thinks it to be false, and asserts it as true, he lies. See, my Brethren, draw the distinction, ye who have been brought up in the Church, instructed in the Lord's Scriptures, not uninformed, nor simple, [3975] nor ignorant [3976] men. For there are among you men learned and erudite, and not indifferently instructed in all kinds of literature; and with those of you who have not learnt that literature which is called liberal, it is more that ye have been nourished up in the word of God. If I labour in explaining what I mean, do ye aid me both by the attention of your hearing, and the thoughtfulness [3977] of your meditations. Nor will ye aid, unless ye are aided. Wherefore pray we mutually for one another, and look equally for our common Succour. He is deceived, who whereas what he says is false, thinks it to be true; but he lies, who thinks a thing to be false, and gives it out as true, whether it be true or false. Observe what I have added, "whether it be true or false;" yet he who thinks it to be false, and asserts it as true, lies; he aims to deceive. For what good is it to him, that it is true? He all the while thinks it false, and says it as if it were true. What he says is true in itself, it is in itself true; with regard to him it is false, his conscience does not hold that which he is saying; he thinks in himself one thing to be true, he gives out another for truth. His is a double heart, not single; he does not bring out that which he has in it. The double heart has long since been condemned. "With deceitful lips in a heart and a heart have they spoken evil things." [3978] Had it been enough to say, "in the heart have they spoken evil things," where is the "deceitful lips"? [3979] What is deceit? When one thing is done, another pretended. Deceitful lips are not a single heart; and because not a single heart, therefore "in a heart and a heart;" therefore "in a heart" twice, because the heart is double.

5. How then think we of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He lied? If it is a less evil to be deceived than to lie, dare we to say that He lies who we dare not to say is deceived? But He is neither deceived, nor doth He lie; but in very deed as it is written (for of Him is it understood, of Him ought it to be understood), "Nothing false is said unto the King, and nothing false shall proceed out of His mouth." If by King here he meant any man, let us prefer Christ the King, to a man-king. But if, which is the truer understanding of it, it is Christ of whom he spake, if I say, as is the truer understanding of it, it is Christ of whom he spake (for to Him indeed nothing false is said, in that He is not deceived; from His Mouth nothing false proceedeth, in that He doth not lie); let us look how we are to understand the section of the Gospel, and let us not make the [3980] pitfall of a lie, as it were, on heavenly authority. But it is most absurd to be seeking to explain the truth, and to prepare a place for a lie. What art thou teaching me, I ask thee, who art explaining this text to me, what wouldest thou teach me? I do not know whether you would dare to say, "Falsehood." For if you should dare to say this, I turn away mine ears, and fasten them up with thorns, that if you should try to force your way, I might through their very pricking make away without the explanation of the Gospel. Tell me what thou wouldest wish to teach me, and thou hast resolved the difficulty. Tell me, I pray thee; lo, here I am; mine ears are open, my heart is ready, teach me. But I ask, what? I will not travel through many things. What art thou going to teach me? Whatsoever learning thou art about to bring forward, whatsoever strength to show in disputation, tell me this one thing only, one of two things I ask; art thou going to teach me truth or falsehood? What do we suppose he will answer lest one depart; lest while he is open-mouthed and making an effort to bring out his words, I forthwith leave him: what will he promise but truth? I am listening, standing, expecting, most earnestly expecting. See here, he who promised that he will teach me truth, insinuates falsehood concerning Christ. How then shall he teach truth, who would say that Christ is false? If Christ is false, can I hope that thou wilt tell me the truth?

6. Consider again. What does he say? Hath Christ spoken falsely? Where, I ask thee? "Where He says, `I go not up to the feast day;' and went up." For my part, I should wish thoroughly to examine this place, if so be we may see that Christ did not speak falsely. Yea rather, seeing that I have no doubt that Christ did not speak falsely, I will either thoroughly examine this passage and understand it, or, not understanding it, I will defer it. Yet that Christ spoke falsely will I never say. Grant that I have not understood it; I will depart in my ignorance. For better is it with piety to be ignorant, than with madness to pronounce judgment. Notwithstanding we are trying to examine, if so be by His assistance, who is the Truth, we may find something, and be found something ourselves, and this something will not be in the Truth a lie. For if in searching I find a lie, I find not a something but a nothing. Let us then look where it is thou sayest that Christ lied. He will say, "In that He said, `I go not up to this feast,' and went up." Whence dost thou know that He said so? What if I were to say, nay, not I, but any one, for God forbid that I should say it; what if another were to say, "Christ did not say this;" whereby dost thou refute him, whereby wilt thou prove it? Thou wouldest open the book, find the passage, point it out to the man, yea with great confidence force the book upon him if he resisted, "Hold it, mark, read, it is the Gospel you have in your hands." But why, I ask thee, why dost thou so rudely accost [3981] this feeble one? Do not be so eager; speak more composedly, more tranquilly. See, it is the Gospel I have in my hands; and what is there in it? He answers: "The Gospel declares that Christ said what thou deniest." And wilt thou believe that Christ said it, because the Gospel declares it? "Decidedly for that reason," says he. I marvel exceedingly how thou shouldest say that Christ lieth, and the Gospel doth not lie. But lest haply when I speak of the Gospel, thou shouldest think of the book itself, and imagine the parchment and ink to be the Gospel, see what the Greek word means; Gospel is "a good messenger," or "a good message." The messenger then doth not lie, and doth He who sent him, lie? This messenger, the Evangelist to wit, to give his name also, this John who wrote this, did he lie concerning Christ, or say the truth? Choose which you will, I am ready to hear you on either side. If he spake falsely, you have no means of proving that Christ spake those words. If he said the truth, truth cannot flow from the fountain of falsehood. Who is the Fountain? Christ: let John be the stream. The stream comes to me, and you say to me, "Drink securely;" yea, whereas you alarm me as to the Fountain Himself, whereas you tell me there is falsehood in the Fountain, you say to me, "Drink securely." What do I drink? What said John, that Christ spake falsely? Whence came John? From Christ. Is he who came from Him, to tell me truth, when He from whom he came lied? I have read in the Gospel plainly, "John lay on the Lord's Breast;" [3982] but I conclude that he drank in truth. What saw he as he lay on the Lord's Breast? What drank he in? what, but that which he poured forth? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. That which was made in Him was life, and the Life was the Light of men; And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended It not;" [3983] nevertheless It shineth, and though I chance to have some obscurity, and cannot thoroughly comprehend It, still It shineth. "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John; he came to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not the Light:" who? John: who? John the Baptist. For of him saith John the Evangelist, "He was not the Light;" of whom the Lord saith, "He was a burning, and a shining lamp." [3984] But a lamp can be lighted, and extinguished. What then? whence drawest thou the distinction? of what place art thou enquiring? He to whom the lamp bare witness, "was the True Light." [3985] Where John added, "the True," there art thou looking out for a lie. But hear still the same Evangelist John pouring forth what he had drunk in; "And we beheld," saith he, "His glory." What did he behold? what glory beheld he? "The glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." [3986] See then, see, if we ought not haply to restrain weak or rash disputings, and to presume nothing false of the truth, to give to the Lord what is His due; let us give glory to the Fountain, that we may fill ourselves securely. "Now God is true, but every man a liar." [3987] What is this? God is full; every man is empty; if he will be filled, let him come to Him That is full. "Come unto Him, and be enlightened." [3988] Moreover, if man is empty, in that he is a liar, and he seeks to be filled, and with haste and eagerness runs to the fountain, he wishes to be filled, he is empty. But thou sayest, "Beware of the fountain, there is falsehood there." What else sayest thou, but "there is poison there"?

7. "You have already," he says, "said all, already have you checked, already chastened me. But tell me how He did not speak falsely who said, `I go not up,' and went up?" I will tell you, if I can; but think it no little matter, that if I have not established you in the truth, I have yet kept you back from rashness. I will nevertheless tell you, what I imagine you know even already, if you remember the words which I have set forth to you. The words themselves solve the difficulty. That feast was kept for many days. On this, that is this present feast day, saith He, this day, that is when they hoped, He went not up; but when He Himself resolved to go. Now mark what follows, "When He had said these words, He Himself stayed in Galilee." So then He did not go up on that feast day. For His brethren wished that He should go first; therefore had they said, "Pass from hence into Judæa." They did not say, "Let us pass," as though they would be His companions; or, "Follow us into Judæa," as though they would go first; but as though they would send Him before them. He wished that they should go before; He avoided this snare, impressing His infirmity as Man, hiding the Divinity; this He avoided, as when He fled into Egypt. [3989] For this was no effect of want of power, but even of truth, that He might give an example of caution; that no servant of His might say, "I do not fly, because it is disgraceful;" when haply it might be expedient to fly. As He was going to say to His disciples, "When they have persecuted you in this city, flee ye into another;" [3990] He gave them Himself this example. For He was apprehended, when He willed; He was born, when He willed. That they might not anticipate Him then, and announce that He was coming, and plots be prepared; He said, "I go not up to this feast day." [3991] He said, "I go not up," that He might be hid; He added "this," that He might not lie. Something He expressed, [3992] something He suppressed, something He repressed; yet said He nothing false, for "nothing false proceedeth out of His Mouth." Finally, after He had said these words, "When His brethren were gone up;" [3993] the Gospel declares it, attend, read what you have objected to me; see if the passage itself do not solve the difficulty, see if I have taken from anywhere else what to say. This then the Lord was waiting for, that they should go up first, that they might not announce beforehand that He was coming, "When His brethren were gone up, then went He also up to the feast day, not openly, but as it were in secret." What is, "as it were in secret"? He acts there as if in secret. What is, "as it were in secret"? Because neither was this really in secret. For He did not really make an effort to be concealed, who had it in His Own power when He would be taken. But in that concealment, as I have said, He gave His weak disciples, who had not the power to prevent being taken when they would not, an example of being on their guard against the snares of enemies. For He went up afterwards even openly, and taught them in the temple; and some said, "` Lo, this is He; lo, He is teaching.' Certainly our rulers said that they wished to apprehend Him: `Lo, He speaketh openly, and no one layeth hands on Him.'" [3994]

8. But now if we turn our attention to ourselves, if we think of His Body, how that we are even He. For if we were not He, "Forasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me," [3995] would not be true. If we were not He, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" [3996] would not be true. So then we are He, in that we are His members, in that we are His Body, in that He is our Head, in that Whole Christ is both Head and Body. [3997] Peradventure then He foresaw us that we were not to keep the feast days of the Jews, and this is, "I go not up to this feast day." See neither Christ nor the Evangelist lied; of the which two if one must needs choose one, the Evangelist would pardon me, I would by no means put him that is true before the Truth Himself; I would not prefer him that was sent to Him by whom he was sent. But God be thanked, in my judgment what was obscure has been laid open. Your piety will aid me before God. Behold, I have, as I was best able, resolved the question, both concerning Christ and the Evangelist. Hold fast the truth with me as men who love it, embrace charity without contention.

Footnotes

[3961] Capitulo. [3962] John vii. 2. [3963] Casas. [3964] John vii. 3, 4. [3965] John vii. 5. [3966] In the Greek it is oupo, nondum, and so in some Latin copies (Ben. note); Griesbach and Scholz place ouk in the text, as having the authority of the mss. D, K, most Verss., and the Fathers. [3967] John vii. 6-8. [3968] John vii. 9, 10. [3969] Fidem. [3970] Prudentiam. [3971] Ps. v. 5. [3972] Ps. v. 6. [3973] Sinus. [3974] Vivum. [3975] Rustici. [3976] Idiotæ. [3977] Prudentia. [3978] Ecclus. ii. 14, Vulgate (ii. 12, English version). [3979] Ps. xii. 2. [3980] Voraginem. [3981] Conturbas. [3982] John xiii. 23. [3983] John i. 1, etc. [3984] John v. 35. [3985] John i. 9. [3986] John i. 14. [3987] Rom. iii. 4. [3988] Ps. xxxiii. 6, Sept. (xxxiv. 5, English version). [3989] Matt. ii. 14. [3990] Matt. x. 23. [3991] John vii. 8. [3992] Aliquid intulit, aliquid abstulit, aliquid distulit. [3993] John vii. 10. [3994] John vii. 25, 26. [3995] Matt. xxv. 40. [3996] Acts. ix. 4. [3997] Eph. i. 22, 23; 1 Cor. xii. 12. .


Sermon LXXXIV.

[CXXXIV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John viii. 31, "If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples," etc.

1. Ye know well, Beloved, that we all have One Master, and are fellow disciples under Him. Nor are we your masters, because we speak to you from this higher spot; but He is the Master of all, who dwelleth in us all. He just now spake to us all in the Gospel, and said to us, what I also am saying to you; but He saith it of us, as well of us as of you. "If ye shall continue in My word," not of course in my word who am now speaking to you; but in His who spake just now out of the Gospel. "If ye shall continue in My word," saith He, "ye are My disciples indeed." [3998] To be a disciple, it is not enough to come, but to continue. He doth not therefore say, "If ye shall hear My word;" or, "If ye shall come to My word;" or, "If ye shall praise My word;" but observe what He said, "If ye shall continue in My word, ye are My disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall free you." [3999] What shall we say, Brethren? To continue in the word of God, is it toilsome, or is it not? If it be toilsome, look at the great reward; if it be not toilsome, thou receivest the reward for nought. Continue we then in Him who continueth in us. We, if we continue not in Him, fall; but He if He continue not in us, hath not on that account lost an habitation. For He skilleth to continue in Himself, who never leaveth Himself. But for man, God forbid that he should continue in himself who hath lost himself. So then we continue in Him through indigence; He continueth in us through mercy.

2. Now then seeing it hath been set forth what we ought to do, let us see what we are to receive. For He hath appointed a work, and promised a reward. What is the work? "If ye shall continue in Me." A short work; short in description, great in execution. "If ye shall build on the Rock." [4000] O how great a thing is this, Brethren, to build on the Rock, how great is it! "The floods came, the winds blew, the rain descended, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock." [4001] What then is to continue in the word of God, but not to yield to any temptations? The reward, what is it? "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall free you." Bear with me, for ye perceive that my voice is feeble; [4002] assist me by your calm [4003] attention. Glorious reward! "Ye shall know the truth." Here one may haply say, "And what doth it profit me to know the truth?" "And the truth shall free you." If the truth have no charms for you, let freedom have its charms. In the usage of the Latin tongue, the expression, "to be free," is used in two senses; and chiefly we are accustomed to hear this word in this sense, that whosoever is free may be understood to escape some danger, to be rid of some embarrassment. But the proper signification of "to be free," is "to be made free;" just as "to be saved," is "to be made safe;" "to be healed," is, "to be made whole;" so "to be freed," is "to be made free." Therefore I said, "If the truth have no charms for you, let freedom have its charms." This is expressed more evidently in the Greek language, nor can it be there understood in any other sense. And that ye may know that in no other sense can it be understood; when the Lord spake, the Jews answered, "We were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou the Truth shall free you?" [4004] That is, "the Truth shall make you free," how sayest thou to us, who were never in bondage to any man? "How," say they, "dost Thou promise them freedom, who as Thou seest never bare the hard yoke of bondage?"

3. They heard what they ought; but they did not what they ought. What did they hear? Because I said, "The truth shall free you;" ye turned your thoughts upon yourselves, that ye are not in bondage to man, and ye said, "We were never in bondage to any man. Every one," Jew and Greek, rich and poor, the man in authority and private station, the emperor and the beggar, "Every one that committeth sin is the servant of sin." [4005] "Every one," saith He, "that committeth sin is the servant of sin." If men but acknowledge their bondage, they will see from whence they may obtain freedom. Some free-born man has been taken captive by the barbarians, from a free man is made a slave; another hears, and pities him, considers how that he has money, becomes his ransomer, goes to the barbarians, gives money, ransoms the man. And he has indeed restored freedom, if he have taken away iniquity. But what man has ever taken away iniquity from another man? He who was in bondage with the barbarians, has been redeemed by his ransomer; and great difference there is between the ransomer and the ransomed; yet haply are they fellow-slaves under the lordship of iniquity. I ask him that was ransomed, "Hast thou sin?" "I have," he says. I ask the ransomer, "Hast thou sin?" "I have," he says. So then neither do thou boast thyself that thou hast been ransomed, nor thou uplift thyself that thou art his ransomer; but fly both of you to the True Deliverer. It is but a small part of it, that they who are under sin, are called servants; they are even called dead; what a man is afraid of captivity bringing upon him, iniquity has brought on him already. For what? because they seem to be alive, was He then mistaken who said, "Let the dead bury their dead"? [4006] So then all under sin are dead, dead servants, dead in their service, servants in their death.

4. Who then freeth from death and from bondage, save He, who is "Free among the dead"? [4007] Who is "Free among the dead," save He who among sinners is without sin? "Lo, the prince of the world cometh," saith our Redeemer Himself, our Deliverer, "Lo, the prince of the world cometh, and shall find nothing in Me." [4008] He holds fast those whom he hath deceived, whom he hath seduced, whom he hath persuaded to sin and death; "in Me shall he find nothing." Come, Lord, Redeemer come, come; let the captive acknowledge thee, him that leadeth captive flee thee; be Thou my Deliverer. Lost as I was, He hath found me in Whom the devil findeth nothing that cometh of the flesh. The prince of this world findeth in Him Flesh, he findeth it but what kind of Flesh? A mortal Flesh, which he can seize, which he can crucify, which he can kill. Thou art mistaken, O deceiver, the Redeemer is not deceived; thou art mistaken. Thou seest in the Lord a mortal Flesh, it is not flesh of sin, it is the likeness of flesh of sin. "For God sent His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin." True Flesh, mortal Flesh; but not flesh of sin. "For God sent His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, that by sin He might condemn sin in the Flesh." [4009] "For God sent His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin;" in Flesh, but not in flesh of sin; but "in the likeness of flesh of sin." For what purpose? "That by sin," of which assuredly there was none in Him, "He might condemn sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." [4010]

5. If then it was "the likeness of flesh of sin," not flesh of sin, how, "That by sin He might condemn sin in the flesh"? So a likeness is wont to receive the name of that thing of which it is a likeness. The word man is used for a real man; but if you show a man painted on the wall, and enquire what it is, it is answered, "A man." So then Flesh having the likeness of flesh of sin, that it might be a sacrifice for sin, is called "sin." The same Apostle says in another place, "He made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin." [4011] "Him who knew no sin:" Who is He who knew no sin, but He That said, "Behold the prince of the world cometh, and shall find nothing in me? [4012] Him who knew no sin, made He sin for us;" even Christ Himself, who knew no sin, God made sin for us. What does this mean, Brethren? If it were said, "He made sin upon Him," or, "He made Him to have sin;" it would seem intolerable; how do we tolerate what is said, "He made Him sin," that Christ Himself should be sin? They who are acquainted with the Scriptures of the Old Testament recognise what I am saying. For it is not an expression once used, but repeatedly, very constantly, sacrifices for sins are called "sins." A goat, for instance, was offered for sin, a ram, anything; the victim itself which was offered for sin was called "sin." A sacrifice for sin then was called "sin;" so that in one place the Law says, "That the Priests are to lay their hands upon the sin." [4013] "Him" then, "who knew no sin, He made sin for us;" that is, "He was made a sacrifice for sin." Sin was offered, and sin was cancelled. The Blood of the Redeemer was shed, and the debtor's bond was cancelled. This is the "Blood, That was shed for many for the remission of sins." [4014]

6. What meaneth this then thy senseless exultation, O thou that didst hold me captive, for that my Deliverer had mortal Flesh? See, if He had sin; if thou hast found anything of thine in Him, hold Him fast. "The Word was made Flesh." [4015] The Word is the Creator, the Flesh His creature. What is there here of thine, O enemy? And the Word is God, and His Human [4016] Soul is His creature, and His Human Flesh His creature, and the Mortal Flesh of God is His creature. Seek for sin here. But what art thou seeking? The Truth saith, "The prince of this world shall come, and shall find nothing in Me." [4017] He did not therefore not find Flesh, but nothing of his own, that is, no sin. Thou didst deceive the innocent, thou madest them guilty. Thou didst slay the Innocent; thou destroyedst Him from whom thou hadst nothing due, render back what thou didst hold fast. Why then didst thou exult for a short hour, because thou didst find in Christ mortal Flesh? It was thy trap: whereupon thou didst rejoice, thereby hast thou been taken. Wherein thou didst exult that thou hadst found something, therein thou sorrowest now that thou hast lost what thou didst possess. Therefore, brethren, let us who believe in Christ, continue in His word. For if we shall continue in His word, we are His disciples indeed. For not those twelve only, but all we who continue in His word are His disciples indeed. And "we shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall free us;" that is, Christ the Son of God who hath said, "I am the Truth," [4018] shall make you free, that is, shall free you, not from barbarians, but from the devil; not from the captivity of the body, but from the iniquity of the soul. It is He Only who freeth in such wise. Let no one call himself free, lest he remain a slave. Our soul shall not remain in bondage, for that day by day our debts are forgiven.

Footnotes

[3998] John viii. 31. [3999] John viii. 32. [4000] Matt. vii. 24. [4001] Matt. vii. 25. [4002] Obtusam. [4003] Tranquillitate. [4004] John viii. 33. [4005] John viii. 34. [4006] Matt. viii. 22. [4007] Ps. lxxxviii. 5. [4008] John xiv. 30. [4009] Rom. viii. 3. [4010] Rom. viii. 4. [4011] 2 Cor. v. 21. [4012] John xiv. 30. [4013] Lev. iv. 29, Sept. [4014] Matt. xxvi. 28. [4015] John i. 14. [4016] Hominis. [4017] John xiv. 30. [4018] John xiv. 6. .


Sermon LXXXV.

[CXXXV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John ix. 4 and 31, "We must work the works of him that sent me," etc. Against the Arians. And of that which the man who was born blind and received his sight said, "We know that God heareth not sinners."

1. The Lord Jesus, as we heard when the Holy Gospel was being read, opened the eyes of a man who was born blind. Brethren, if we consider our hereditary punishment, the whole world is blind. And therefore came Christ the Enlightener, because the devil had been the Blinder. He made all men to be born blind, who seduced the first man. Let them run to the Enlightener, let them run, believe, receive the clay made of the spittle. The Word is as it were the spittle, the Flesh is the earth. Let them wash the face in the pool of Siloa. Now it was the Evangelist's place to explain to us what Siloa means, and he said, "which is by interpretation, Sent." [4019] Who is This That is Sent, but He who in this very Lesson said, "I am come to do the works of Him That sent Me." [4020] Lo, Siloa, wash the face, be baptized, that ye may be enlightened, and that ye who before saw not, may see.

2. Lo, first open your eyes to that which is said; "I am come," saith He, "to do the works of Him That sent Me." Now here at once stands forth the Arian, and says, "Here you see that Christ did not His Own works, but the Father's who sent Him." Would he say this, if he saw, that is, if he had washed his face in Him who was sent, as it were in Siloa? What then dost thou say? "Lo," says he, "Himself said it." What said He? "I am come to do the works of Him That sent Me." Are they not then His Own? No. What then is that which the Siloa Himself saith, the Sent Himself, the Son Himself, the Only Son Himself, whom thou complainest of as degenerate? What is that He saith, "All things that the Father hath are Mine." [4021] You say that He did the works of Another, in that He said, "I must do the works of Him That sent Me." I say that the Father had the things of another: I am speaking according to your [4022] principles. Why would you object to me that Christ said, "I am come to do His works" as if, "not Mine own but `His That sent Me'"?

3. I ask Thee, O Lord Christ, resolve the difficulty, put an end to the contention. "All things," saith He, "that the Father hath are Mine." Are they then not the Father's, if they are Thine? For He doth not say, "All things that the Father hath He hath given unto Me;" although, if He had said even this, He would have shown His equality. But the difficulty is that He said, "All things that the Father hath are Mine." If you understand it aright, All things that the Father hath, are the Son's; all things that the Son hath, are the Father's. Hear Him in another place; "All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine." [4023] The question is finished, as to the things which the Father and the Son have: they have them with one consent, do not thou introduce [4024] dissension. What He calleth the works of the Father, are His Own works; for, "Thine too are Mine," for He speaketh of the works of That Father, to whom He said, "All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine." So then, My works are Thine, and Thy works are Mine. "For what things soever the Father doeth;" [4025] Himself hath said, the Lord hath said, the Only-Begotten hath said, the Son hath said, the Truth hath said. What hath He said? "What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son in like manner." Signal expression! signal truth! signal equality. "All things that the Father doeth, these doeth the Son also." Were it enough to say, "All things that the Father doeth, these doeth the Son also"? It is not enough; I add, "in like manner." Why do I add, "in like manner"? Because they who do not understand, and who walk with eyes not yet open, are wont to say, "The Father doeth them by way of command, the Son of obedience, therefore not in like manner." But if in like manner, as the One, so the Other; so what things the One, the same the Other.

4. "But," says he, "the Father commands, that the Son may execute." Carnal indeed is thy conceit, but without prejudice to the truth, I grant it to you. Lo, the Father commands, the Son obeys; is the Son therefore not of the same Nature, because the One commands, and the Other obeys? Give me two men, father and son; they are two men: he that commands is a man; he that obeys is a man; he that commands and he that obeys have one and the same nature. Does not he that commands, beget a son of his own nature? Does he who obeys, by obeying lose his nature? Now take for the present, as you thus take two men, the Father commanding, the Son obeying, yet God and God. But the first two together are two men, the Latter together is but One God; this is a divine miracle. Meanwhile if you would that with you I acknowledge the obedience, do you first with me acknowledge the Nature. The Father begat That which Himself is. If the Father begat ought else than what Himself is, He did not beget a true Son. The Father saith to the Son, "From the womb before the day-star, I begat Thee." [4026] What is, "before the day-star"? By the day-star times are signified. So then before times, before all that is called "before;" before all that is not, or before all that is. For the Gospel does not say, "In the beginning God made the Word;" as it is said, "In the beginning God made the Heaven and the earth;" [4027] or, "In the beginning was the Word born;" or, "In the beginning God begat the Word." But what says it? "He was, He was, He was." You hear, "He was;" believe. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [4028] So often do ye hear, "Was:" seek not for time, for that He always "was." He then who always was, and was always with the Son, for that God is able to beget without thee; He said to the Son, "From the womb before the day-star I begat Thee." What is from the womb? Had God a womb? Shall we imagine that God was fashioned with bodily members? God forbid! And why said He, "From the womb," but that it might be understood that He begat Him of His Own Substance? So then from the womb came forth That which Himself was who begat. For if He who begat was one thing, and another came forth out of the womb; it were a monster, not a Son.

5. Therefore let the Son do the works of Him That sent Him, and the Father also do the works of the Son. "At all events," you say, "the Father wills, the Son executes." Lo, I show, that the Son willeth, and the Father executeth. Do you say, "where dost thou show this?" I show it at once. "Father, I will." [4029] Now here if I had a mind to cavil, lo, the Son commandeth, and the Father executeth. What wilt Thou? "That where I am, they may be also with Me." We have escaped, there shall we be, where He is; there shall we be, we have escaped. Who can undo the "I Will" of the Almighty? You hear the will of His power, hear now the power of His will. "As the Father" saith He "raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." [4030] "Whom He will." Say not, The Son quickeneth them, whom the Father commandeth Him to quicken. "He quickeneth whom He will." So then whom the Father will, and whom Himself will: because where there is One Power, there is One Will. Let us then in a heart blind no more hold fast that the Nature of the Father and the Son is One and the Same; because the Father is very Father, the Son is very Son. What He is, That did He beget: because the Begotten was not degenerate.

6. There is a something in the words of that man who was blind, which may cause perplexity, and peradventure make many who understand them not aright despair. For he said amongst the rest of his words, the same man whose eyes were opened, "We know that God heareth not sinners." [4031] What shall we do, if God heareth not sinners? Dare we pray to God if He heareth not sinners? Give me one who may pray: lo, here is One to hear. Give me one who may pray, sift thoroughly the human race from the imperfect to the perfect. Mount up from the spring to the summer; for this we have just chanted. "Thou hast made summer and spring;" [4032] that is, "Those who are already spiritual, and those who are still carnal hast Thou made;" for so the Son Himself saith, "Thine Eyes have seen My imperfect being." [4033] That which is imperfect in My Body, Thine Eyes have seen. And what then? Have they who are imperfect hope? Undoubtedly they have. Hear what follows; "And in Thy Book shall all be written." But perhaps, Brethren, the spiritual pray and are heard, because they are not sinners? What then must the carnal do? What must they do? Shall they perish? Shall they not pray to God? God forbid! Give me that publican in the Gospel. Come, thou publican, stand forth, show thy hope, that the weak may not lose hope. For behold the publican went up with the Pharisee to pray, and with face cast down upon the ground, standing afar off, beating his breast, he said, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. [4034] And he went down justified rather than the Pharisee." Said he true or false, who said, "Be merciful to me a sinner"? If he said true, he was a sinner; yet was he heard and justified. What then is that, that thou whose eyes the Lord opened didst say, "We know that God heareth not sinners"? [4035] Lo, God doth hear sinners. But wash thou thy inferior face, let that be done in thy heart, which hath been done in thy face; and thou wilt see that God doth hear sinners. The imagination of thine heart hath deceived thee. There is still something for Him to do to thee. We see that this man was cast out of the synagogue; Jesus heard of it, came to him, and said to him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" And He said, "Who is He, Lord, that I should believe on Him?" [4036] He saw, and did not see; he saw with the eyes, but as yet with the heart he saw not. The Lord said to him, "Thou both seest Him," that is, with the eyes; "and He that talketh with thee is He. He then fell down, and worshipped Him." [4037] Then washed he the face of his heart.

7. Apply yourselves then earnestly to prayer, ye sinners: confess your sins, pray that they may be blotted out, pray that they may be diminished, pray that as ye increase, they may decrease: yet do not despair, and sinners though ye be, pray. For who hath not sinned? Begin with the priests. To the priests it is said, "First offer sacrifices for your own sins, and so for the people." [4038] The sacrifices convicted the priests that if any one should call himself righteous and without sin, it might be answered him, "I look not at what thou sayest, but at what thou offerest; thine own victim convicteth thee. Wherefore dost thou offer for thine own sins, if thou have no sins? Dost thou in thy sacrifice lie unto God?" But peradventure the priests of the ancient people were sinners; of the new people are not sinners. Of a truth, Brethren, for that God hath so willed, I am His priest; I am a sinner; with you do I beat the breast, with you I ask for pardon, with you I hope that God will be merciful. But peradventure the Holy Apostles, those first and highest leaders [4039] of the flock, shepherds, members of The Shepherd, these peradventure had no sin. Yes, indeed, even they had, they had indeed; they are not angry at this, for they confess it. I should not dare. First hear the Lord Himself saying to the Apostles, "In this manner pray ye." [4040] As those other priests were convicted by the sacrifices, so these by prayer. And amongst the other things which He commanded them to pray for, He appointed this also, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." [4041] What do the Apostles say? Every day they pray for their debts to be forgiven them. They come in debtors, they go out absolved, and return debtors to prayer. This life is not without sin, that as often as prayer is made, so often should sins be forgiven.

8. But what shall I say? Peradventure when they learnt the prayer, they were still weak. Some one, perhaps, will say this. When the Lord Jesus taught them that prayer, they were yet babes, weak, carnal; they were not yet spiritual, who have no sin. What then, Brethren? When they became spiritual, did they cease to pray? Then Christ ought to have said, "Pray in such wise now;" and to have given them, when spiritual, another prayer. It is one and the same. He who gave it is One and the Same; use it then in prayer in the Church. But we will take away all controversy, when you say the Holy Apostles were spiritual, up to the time of the Lord's Passion they were carnal; this you must say. And indeed, the truth is, as He was hanging, they were in alarm, and the Apostles then despaired when the robber believed. Peter dared to follow, when the Lord was led to suffering, he dared to follow, who came to the house, and was wearied in the palace, and stood at the fire, and was cold; he stood at the fire, he was frozen with a chilling fear. Being questioned by the maid-servant, he denied Christ once; being questioned a second time, he denied Him; being questioned a third time, he denied Him. [4042] God be thanked, that the questioning ceased; if the questioning had not ceased, long would the denial have been repeated. So then after He rose again, then He confirmed them, then did they become spiritual. Had they at that time then no sin? The Apostles spiritual, wrote spiritual epistles, they sent them to the Churches; "they had no sin." This you say. I do not believe you, I ask themselves. Tell us, O holy Apostles, after the Lord rose again, and confirmed you with the Holy Ghost sent from heaven; did ye cease to have sin? Tell us, I pray you. Let us hear, that sinners may not despair, that they may not leave off to pray to God, because they are not without sin. Tell us. One of them saith. And who? He whom the Lord loved the most, and who lay on the Lord's Breast, [4043] and drank in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven which he was to pour forth again. Him I ask; "Have ye sin or not?" He maketh answer and saith, "If we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [4044] Now it is the same John who said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [4045] See ye what heights he had passed, that he could reach to the Word! Such an one, and so great, who like an eagle soared above the clouds, who in the serene clearness of his mind saw, "In the beginning was the Word;" he hath said, "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 unrighteousness." [4046] Therefore pray ye.

Footnotes

[4019] John ix. 7. [4020] John ix. 4. [4021] John xvi. 15. [4022] Cor. [4023] John xvii. 10. [4024] Litigare. [4025] John v. 19. [4026] Ps. cix. 3, Sept. (cx. English version). [4027] Gen. i. 1. [4028] John i. 1. [4029] John xvii. 24. [4030] John v. 21. [4031] John ix. 31. [4032] Ps. lxxiii. 17, Sept. (lxxiv. English version). [4033] Ps. cxxxviii. 16, Sept. (cxxxix. English version). [4034] Luke xviii. 13. [4035] Theoph. and Euthym. understand this not thus absolutely, but that God does not hear sinners so as to enable them to work miracles, the miracle being allowed; St. Hilary applies it to those who continue in sin, and whose prayer is not truly prayer, "prayer being not the profession of words, but of faith." In Ps. lii. 13. [4036] John ix. 35, 36. [4037] John ix. 37, 38. [4038] Lev. xvi.; Heb. vii. 27. [4039] Arietes. [4040] Matt. vi. 9. [4041] Matt. vi. 12. [4042] Matt. xxvi. 69, etc. [4043] John xiii. 23. [4044] 1 John i. 8. [4045] John i. 1. [4046] 1 John i. 9. .


Sermon LXXXVI.

[CXXXVI. Ben.]

On the same lesson of the Gospel, John ix., on the giving sight to the man that was born blind.

1. We have heard the lesson of the Holy Gospel which we are in the habit of hearing; but it is a good thing to be reminded: good to refresh the memory from the lethargy of forgetfulness. And in fact this very old lesson has given us as much pleasure as if it were new. Christ gave sight to one blind from his birth; why do we marvel? Christ is the Saviour; by an act of mercy He made up that which He had not given in the womb. Now when He gave that man no eyes, it was no mistake of His surely; but a delay with a view to a miracle. You are saying, it may be, "Whence knowest thou this?" From Himself I have heard it; He just now said it; we heard it all together. For when His disciples asked Him, and said, "Lord, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" [4047] What answer He made, ye, as I did, heard. "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." [4048] Lo then wherefore it was that He delayed when He gave him no eyes. He did not give what He could give, He did not give what He knew He should give, when need was. Yet do not suppose, Brethren, that this man's parents had no sin, or that he himself had not, when he was born, contracted original sin, for the remission of which sin infants are baptized unto remission of sins. But that blindness was not because of his parents' sin, nor because of his own sin; "but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." For we all when we were born contracted original sin: and yet we were not born blind. However enquire carefully, And we were born blind. For who was not born blind? blind, that is, in heart. But the Lord Jesus, for that He had created both, cured both.

2. With the eyes of faith ye have seen this man blind, ye have seen him too of blind seeing; but ye have heard him erring. Wherein this blind man erred, I will tell you; first, in that he thought Christ a prophet, and knew not that He was the Son of God. And then we have heard an answer of his entirely false; for he said, "We know that God heareth not sinners." [4049] If God heareth not sinners, what hope have we? If God heareth not sinners, why do we pray, and publish the record of our sin by the beating of the breast? Where again is that Publican, who went up with the Pharisee into the temple [4050] and while the Pharisee was boasting, parading [4051] his own merits, he standing afar off, and with his eyes fastened on the ground, and beating his breast, was confessing his sins? And this man, who confessed his sins, went down from the temple justified rather than the other Pharisee. Assuredly then God doth hear sinners. But he who spake these words had not yet washed the face of the heart in Siloa. The sacrament had gone before on his eyes; but in the heart had not been yet effected the blessing of the grace. When did this blind man wash the face of his heart? When the Lord admitted him into Himself after he had been cast out by the Jews. For He found him, and said to him as we have heard; "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" And he, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him?" [4052] With the eyes, it is true, he saw already; did he see already in the heart? No, not yet. Wait; he will see presently. Jesus answered him, "I that speak with thee am He." [4053] Did he doubt? No, forthwith he washed his face. For he was speaking with That Siloa, "which is by interpretation, Sent." [4054] Who is the Sent, but Christ? Who often bare witness, saying, "I do the will of My Father That sent Me." [4055] He then was Himself the Siloa. The man approached blind in heart, he heard, believed, adored; washed the face, saw.

3. But they who cast him out continued blind, forasmuch as they cavilled at the Lord, that it was the sabbath when He made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man. For when the Lord cured with a word, the Jews openly cavilled. For He did no work on the sabbath day, when He spake, and it was done. It was a manifest cavil; they cavilled at Him merely commanding, they cavilled at Him speaking; as if they did not themselves speak all the sabbath day. I might say that they do not speak not only on the sabbath, but on no day, forasmuch as they have kept back from the praises of the True God. Nevertheless, as I have said, brethren, it was a manifest cavil. The Lord said to a certain man, "Stretch forth thine hand;" [4056] he was made whole, and they cavilled for that He healed on the sabbath day. What did He do? what work did He do? what burden did He bear? But in this instance, the spitting on the ground, the making clay, and anointing the man's eyes, is doing some work. Let no one doubt it, it was doing a work. The Lord did break the sabbath; but was not therefore guilty. What is that I have said, "He brake the sabbath"? He, the Light had come, He was removing the shadows. For the sabbath was enjoined by the Lord God, enjoined by Christ Himself, who was with the Father, when that Law was given; it was enjoined by Him, but in shadow of what was to come. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come." [4057] He had now come whose coming these things announced. Why do the shadows delight us? Open your eyes, ye Jews; the Sun is present. "We know." [4058] What do ye know, ye blind in heart? what know ye? "That this man is not of God, because he thus breaketh the sabbath day." [4059] The sabbath, unhappy men, this very sabbath did Christ ordain, [4060] who ye say is not of God. Ye observe the sabbath in a carnal manner, ye have not the spittle of Christ. In this earth of the sabbath look also for the spittle of Christ, and ye will understand that by the sabbath Christ was prophesied. But ye, because ye have not the spittle of Christ in the earth upon your eyes, ye have not come unto Siloa, and have not washed the face, and have continued blind, blind to the good of this blind man, yea now no longer blind either in body or heart. He received clay with the spittle, his eyes were anointed, he came to Siloa, he washed his face, he believed on Christ, he saw, he continued not in that exceedingly fearful judgment; "For judgment I came into this world, that they which see not may see, and that they which see may be made blind." [4061]

4. Exceeding alarm! "That they which see not may see:" Good. It is a Saviour's office, a profession of healing power, "That they which see not may see." But what, Lord, is that Thou hast added, "That they which see may be made blind"? If we understand, it is most true, most righteous. Yet what is, "They which see"? They are the Jews. Do they then see? According to their own words, they see; according to the truth, they do not see. What then is, "they see"? They think they see, they believe they see. For they believed they did see, when they maintained the Law against Christ. "We know;" therefore they see. What is "We know," but we see? What is, "this Man is not of God, because He thus breaketh the sabbath day"? They see; they read what the Law said. For it was enjoined that whosoever should break the sabbath day, should be stoned. [4062] Therefore said they that He was not of God; but though seeing, they were blind to this, that for judgment He came into the world who is to be the Judge of quick and dead; why came He? "That they which see not may see:" that they who confess that they do not see, may be enlightened. "And that they which see may be made blind;" that is, that they who confess not their own blindness, may be the more hardened. And, in fact, "That they which see may be made blind," has been fulfilled; the defenders of the Law, Doctors [4063] of the Law, the teachers of the Law, the understanders of the Law, crucified the Author of the Law. O blindness, this is that which "in part hath happened to Israel." [4064] That Christ might be crucified, and the fulness of the Gentiles might come in, "blindness in part hath happened to Israel." What is, "that they which see not may see"? That the fulness of the Gentiles might come in, "blindness in part hath happened to Israel." The whole world lay in blindness; but He came, "that they which see not may see, and that they which see may be made blind." He was disowned by the Jews, He was crucified by the Jews; of His Blood He made an eye-salve for the blind. They who boasted that they saw the light, being more hardened, being made blind, crucified the Light. What great blindness? They killed the Light, but the Light Crucified enlightened the blind.

5. Hear one seeing, who once was blind. Behold, against what a cross they have miserably stumbled, who would not confess their blindness to the Physician! The Law had continued with them. What serveth the Law without grace? Unhappy men, what can the Law do without grace? What doeth the earth without the spittle of Christ? What doeth the Law without grace, but make them more guilty? Why? Because hearers of the Law and not doers, and hereby sinners, transgressors. The son of the hostess of the man of God was dead, and his staff was sent by his servant, and laid upon his face, [4065] but he did not revive. What doeth the Law without grace? What saith the Apostle, now seeing, now of blind, enlightened? "For if there had been a Law given which could give life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law." [4066] Take heed; let us answer and say; what is this that he hath said? "If there had been a Law given which could give life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law." If it could not give life, why was it given? He went on and added, "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." [4067] That the promise of illumination, the promise of love by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe, that Scripture, that is the Law, hath concluded all under sin. What is, "hath concluded all under sin"? "I had not known concupiscence, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not lust." [4068] What is, "hath concluded all under sin"? Hath made the sinner a transgressor also. For it could not heal the sinner. "It hath concluded all under sin;" but with what hope? The hope of grace, the hope of mercy. Thou hast received the Law: thou didst wish to keep it, thou wast not able; thou hast fallen from pride, hast seen thy weakness. Run to the Physician, wash the face. Long for Christ, confess Christ, believe on Christ; the Spirit is added to the letter, and thou wilt be saved. For if thou take away the Spirit from the letter, "the letter killeth;" if it kill, where is hope? "But the Spirit giveth life." [4069]

6. Let then Gehazi, Elisha's servant, receive the staff, as Moses the servant of God received the Law. Let him receive the staff, receive it, run, go before, anticipate him, lay the staff upon the face of the dead child. And so it was; he did receive it, he ran, he laid the staff upon the face of the dead child. But to what purpose? what serveth the staff? "If there had been a Law given which could give life," the boy might have been raised to life by the staff; but seeing that "the Scripture hath concluded all under sin," he still lies dead. But why hath it concluded all under sin? "That the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Let then Elisha come, who sent the staff by the servant to prove that he was dead; let him come himself, come in his own person, himself enter into the woman's house, go up to the child, find him dead, conform himself to the members of the dead child, himself not dead, but living. For this he did; he laid his face upon his face, his eyes upon his eyes, his hands upon his hands, his feet upon his feet, he straitened, he contracted himself, being great, he made himself little. He contracted himself; so to say, he lessened himself. "For being in the Form of God, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant." [4070] What is He conformed Himself, alive to the dead? Do ye ask, what this is? Hear the Apostle; "God sent His Son." [4071] What is, he conformed himself to the dead? Let him tell this, let him go on and declare it again; "In the likeness of flesh of sin." This is to conform Himself Alive to the dead; to come to us in the likeness of flesh of sin, not in the flesh of sin. Man lay dead in a flesh of sin, the likeness of flesh of sin conformed Himself to him. For He died who had not wherefore to die. He died, Alone "Free among the dead;" forasmuch as the whole flesh of men was indeed a flesh of sin. And how should it rise again, had not He who had no sin, conforming Himself to the dead, come in the likeness of flesh of sin? O Lord Jesus, who hast suffered for us, not for Thyself, who hadst no guilt, and didst endure its punishment, that thou mightest dissolve at once the guilt and punishment.

Footnotes

[4047] John ix. 2. [4048] John ix. 3. [4049] John ix. 31. [4050] Luke xviii. 10. [4051] Ventilante. [4052] John ix. 35, 36. [4053] John ix. 37. [4054] John ix. 7. [4055] John iv. 34, v. 30, vi. 38. [4056] Matt. xii. 13. [4057] Col. ii. 16, 17. [4058] John ix. 24. [4059] John ix. 16. [4060] Prædicavit. [4061] John ix. 39. [4062] Num. xv. 36. [4063] Tractatores. [4064] Rom. xi. 25. [4065] 2 Kings iv. 29. [4066] Gal. iii. 21. [4067] Gal. iii. 22. [4068] Rom. vii. 7. [4069] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [4070] Phil. ii. 6. [4071] Rom. viii. 3. .


Sermon LXXXVII.

[CXXXVII. Ben.]

The tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. Of the shepherd, and the hireling, and the thief.

1. Your faith, dearly beloved, is not ignorant, and I know that ye have so learnt by the teaching of that Master from heaven, in whom ye have placed your hope, that our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath now suffered for us and risen again, is the Head of the Church, and the Church is His Body, and that in His Body the unity of the members and the bond of charity is, as it were, its sound health. But whosoever groweth cold in charity, is become enfeebled in the Body of Christ. But He who hath already exalted our Head, is able also to make even the feeble members whole; provided, that is, that they be not cut off by excessive impiety, but adhere to the Body until they be made whole. For whatsoever yet adhereth to the body, is not beyond hope of healing; whereas that which hath been cut off, can neither be in process of curing, nor be healed. Since then He is the Head of the Church, and the Church is His Body, Whole Christ is both the Head and the Body. He hath already risen again. We have therefore the Head in heaven. Our Head intercedeth for us. Our Head without sin and without death, now propitiateth God for our sins; that we too at the end rising again, and changed into heavenly glory, may follow our Head. For where the Head is, there are the rest of the members also. But whilst we are here, we are members; let us not despair, for we shall follow our Head.

2. For consider, Brethren, the love of this our Head. He is now in heaven, yet doth He suffer here, as long as His Church suffereth here. Here Christ is hungered, here He is athirst, is naked, is a stranger, is sick, is in prison. For whatsoever His Body suffereth here, He hath said that Himself suffereth; and at the end, severing off this His Body to the right hand, and severing the rest by whom He is now trodden under foot to the left, He will say to those on the right hand, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the beginning of the world." For what deservings? "For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat;" and so He goes over the rest, as if He had Himself received; to such a degree that they, not understanding it, make answer and say, "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, a stranger, and in prison?" And He saith to them, "Forasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me." [4072] So also in our own body, the head is above, the feet are on the earth; yet in any crowding and throng of men, when any one treads on your foot, does not the head say, "You are treading upon me?" No one has trodden on your head, or on your tongue; it is above, in safety, no harm has happened unto it; and yet because by the bond of charity there is unity from the head even to the feet, the tongue does not separate itself therefrom, but says, "You are treading upon me;" when no one has touched it. As then the tongue, which no one has touched, says, "You are treading upon me;" so Christ, the Head, which no one treadeth on, said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat." And to them who did not so, He said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat." And how did He finish? Thus; "These shall go into everlasting burning, but the righteous into life eternal."

3. When our Lord then was speaking on this occasion, He said, that He is "the Shepherd," He said also that He is "the Door." You find them both in that place, both "I am the Door" and "I am the Shepherd." [4073] In the Head He is the Door, the Shepherd in the Body. For He saith to Peter, in whom singly He formeth the Church; "Peter, lovest thou Me?" He answered, "Lord, I do love Thee." "Feed My sheep." And a third time, "Peter, lovest thou Me?" [4074] "Peter was grieved because He asked him the third time;" as though He who saw the conscience of the denier, saw not the confessor's faith. He had known him always, had known him even when Peter had not known himself. For he did not know himself at that time when he said, "I will be with Thee even unto death;" [4075] and how infirm he was he knew not. Just as it constantly happens in fact to invalids, that the sick man knows not what is going on within him, but the physician knows; when yet the former is suffering from the very sickness, and the physician is not. The physician can better tell what is going on in another, than he who is sick what is going on in himself. Peter then was at that time the invalid, and the Lord the Physician. The former declared that he had strength, when he had not; but the Lord touching the pulse of his heart, declared that he should deny Him thrice. And so it came to pass, as the Physician foretold, not as the sick presumed. Therefore, after His resurrection the Lord questioned him, not as being ignorant with what a heart he would confess the love of Christ, but that he might by a threefold confession of love, efface the threefold denial of fear.

4. Therefore doth the Lord require this of Peter, "Peter, lovest thou Me?" As though, "What wilt thou give Me, what wilt thou do for Me, seeing that thou lovest Me?" What was Peter to do for his Lord risen again, and going into heaven, and sitting on the right hand of the Father? As if He had said, "This shalt thou give Me, this shalt thou do for Me, if thou lovest Me, feed My sheep; enter in by the Door, not go up by another way." Ye heard when the Gospel was being read, "He that entereth in by Door, is the shepherd; but he that goeth up another way, is a thief and a robber; and he seeketh to disperse, and to scatter, and to spoil." [4076] Who is he that entereth in by the Door? He that entereth in by Christ. Who is he? He who imitateth the Passion of Christ, who acknowledgeth the Humility of Christ; that whereas God was made Man for us, man may acknowledge himself to be, not God, but man. For whoso wisheth to appear God, when he is man, doth not imitate Him, who, being God, was made Man. But to thee it is not said, Be anything less than thou art; but acknowledge what thou art. Acknowledge thyself feeble, acknowledge thyself man, acknowledge thyself a sinner; acknowledge that it is He That justifieth, acknowledge that thou art full of stains. Let the stain of thine heart appear in thy confession, and thou shalt belong to Christ's flock. For the confession of sins invites the physician's healing; as in sickness, he that says, "I am well," seeketh not the physician. Did not the Pharisee and the Publican go up to the temple? [4077] The one boasted of his sound estate, the other showed his wounds to the Physician. For the Pharisee said, "I thank Thee, O God, that I am not as this publican." [4078] He gloried over the other. So then if that publican had been whole, the Pharisee would have grudged it him; for that he would not have had any one over whom to extol himself. In what state then had he come, who had this envious spirit? Surely he was not whole; and whereas he called himself whole, he went not down cured. But the other casting his eyes down to the ground, and not daring to lift them up unto heaven, smote his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner." [4079] And what saith the Lord? "Verily I say unto you, that the publican went down from the temple justified rather than the Pharisee. For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." [4080] They then who exalt themselves, would go up into the sheepfold by another way; but they who humble themselves, enter in by the Door into the sheepfold. Therefore said He of the one, "he entereth in;" of the other, "he goeth up." He that goeth up, you see, who seeks exaltation, does not enter in, but falls. Whereas he that abases himself, that he may enter in by the Door, falls not, but is the shepherd.

5. But the Lord mentioned three characters, [4081] and our duty is to search them out in the Gospel, that of the shepherd, the hireling, and the thief. I suppose you took notice when the lesson was being read, that He marked out the shepherd, the hireling, and the thief. "The Shepherd," said He, "layeth down His life for the sheep," [4082] and entereth in by the door. [4083] The thief and the robber, said He, go up by another way. [4084] "The hireling," He said, if he seeth a wolf or even a thief, "fleeth; because he careth not for the sheep;" [4085] for he is an hireling, not a shepherd. The one entereth in by the door, because he is the shepherd; the second goeth up another way, because he is a thief; the third seeing them who wish to spoil the sheep feareth and fleeth, because he is an hireling, because he careth not for the sheep; for he is an hireling. If we shall find these three characters, ye have found, holy brethren, both those whom ye should love, and those whom ye should tolerate, and those of whom ye must beware. The Shepherd is to be loved, the hireling is to be tolerated, of the robber must we beware. There are men in the Church of whom the Apostle speaks, who preach the Gospel by occasion, seeking of men their own advantage, whether of money, or of honour, or human praise. [4086] They preach the Gospel, wishing to receive rewards in whatsoever way they can, and seek not so much his salvation to whom they preach, as their own advantage. But he who heareth the word of salvation from him who hath not salvation, if he believe Him whom he preacheth, and put not his hope in him, by whom salvation is preached to him; he that preacheth shall have loss; he to whom he preacheth shall have gain.

6. You have the Lord saying of the Pharisees, "They sit in Moses' seat." [4087] The Lord did not mean them only; as if He would send those who should believe on Christ to the school of the Jews, that they might learn there wherein is the way to the kingdom of heaven. Did not the Lord come for this end, that He might establish a Church, and separate those Jews who had a good faith, and a good hope, and a good love, as wheat from the chaff, and might make them one wall of the circumcision, to which should be joined another wall from the uncircumcision of the Gentiles, of which two walls coming from different directions, Himself should be the Corner-Stone? Did not the same Lord therefore say of these two people who were to be one, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold"? Now He was speaking to the Jews; "Them also," said He, "must I bring, that there may be one fold, and One Shepherd." [4088] Therefore there were two ships [4089] out of which He had called His disciples. They figured these two people, when they let down their nets, and took up so great a draught [4090] and so large a number of fishes, that the nets were almost broken. "And they laded," it is said, "both the ships." The two ships figured the One Church, but made out of two peoples, joined together in Christ, though coming from different parts. Of this too the two wives, who had one husband Jacob, Leah and Rachel, are a figure. [4091] Of these two, the two blind men also are a figure, who sat by the way side, to whom the Lord gave sight. [4092] And if ye pay attention to the Scriptures, ye will find the two Churches, which are not two but One, figured out in many places. For to this end the Corner-Stone serveth, for to make of two One. To this end serveth That Shepherd, for to make of two flocks One. So then the Lord who was to teach the Church, and to have a school of His Own beyond the Jews, as we see at present, would He be likely to send those who believe on Him unto the Jews, to learn? But under the name of the Scribes and Pharisees He intimated that there would be some in His Church who would say and not do; but, in the person of Moses He designated Himself. For Moses represented Him, and for this reason did he put a vail before him, when he was speaking to the people; because as long as they were in the law given up to carnal joys and pleasures, and looking for an earthly kingdom, a vail was put upon their face, that they should not see Christ in the Scriptures. For when the vail was taken away, after that the Lord had suffered, the secrets of the temple were discovered. Accordingly when He was hanging on the Cross, the vail of the temple was rent from the top even to the bottom; [4093] and the Apostle Paul says expressly, "But when thou shalt turn to Christ, the vail shall be taken away." [4094] Whereas with him who turneth not to Christ, though he read the law of Moses, the vail is laid upon his heart, as the Apostle says. When the Lord then would signify beforehand that there would be some such in His Church, what did He say? "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. What they say, do; but do not what they do." [4095]

7. When wicked clerics hear this which is said against them, they would pervert it. For I have heard that some do wish to pervert this sentence. Would they not, if they might, efface it from the Gospel? But because they cannot efface it, they go about to pervert it. But the grace and mercy of the Lord is present, and allows them not to do so; for He hath hedged round all His declarations [4096] with His truth, and in such wise balanced them; that if any one would wish to cut off anything from them, or to introduce anything by a bad reading or interpretation, any right hearted man may join to the Scripture what has been cut off from the Scripture, and read what went above or below, and he will find the sense which the other wished to interpret wrongly. What then, think ye, do they say of whom it is said, "Do what they say"? That it is (and in truth it is so) addressed to laymen. For what does the layman who wishes to live well say to himself, when he takes notice of a wicked cleric? "The Lord said, `What they say, do; what they do, do not.' Let me walk in the way of the Lord, not follow this man's conversation. Let me hear from him not his words, but God's. I will follow God, let him follow his own lust. For if I should wish to defend myself in such wise before God as to say, `Lord, I saw that thy cleric living evilly, and therefore I lived evilly;' would He not say to me, `Thou wicked servant, hadst thou not heard from Me, "What they say, do, but what they do, do not"?' But a wicked layman, an unbeliever, who belongs not to Christ's flock, who belongs not to Christ's wheat, who as chaff is only borne with in the floor, what does he say to himself when the word of God begins to reprove him? "Away; why talkest thou to me? The very Bishops and Clergy do not do it, and dost thou force me to do it?" Thus he seeks for himself not a patron for his bad cause, but a companion for punishment. For will that wicked one whosoever he be that he has chosen to imitate, will he ever defend him in the day of judgment? For as with all whom the devil seduces, he seduces them not to be partakers of a kingdom, but of his damnation; so all who follow the wicked, seek companions for themselves to hell, not protection unto the kingdom of heaven.

8. How then do they pervert this declaration when it is said to them in their wicked lives, "With good reason was it said by the Lord ,`What they say, do; what they do, do not'"? "It was well said," say they. "For it was said to you, that ye should do what we say; but that ye should not do what we do. For we offer sacrifice, you may not." See the cunning craftiness of these men; what shall I call them? hirelings. For if they were shepherds, they would not say such things. Therefore the Lord, that He might shut their mouths, went on, and said, "They sit in Moses' seat; what they say, do; but what they do, do not; for they say, and do not." [4097] What is it then, Brethren? If He had spoken of offering sacrifice; would He have said, "For they say, and do not"? For they do offer [4098] sacrifice, they do offer unto God. What is it that they say, and do not? Hear what follows; "For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, and they themselves will not touch them with one of their fingers." [4099] So openly did He rebuke, describe, and point them out. But those men when they thus wish to pervert the passage, show plainly that they seek nothing in the Church but their own advantage; and that they have not read the Gospel; for had they known but this very page, and read the whole, they would never have dared to say this.

9. But attend to a more clear proof that the Church hath such as these. Lest any one should say to us, "He spake entirely of the Pharisees, He spake of the Scribes, He spake of the Jews; for the Church hath none such." Who then are they of whom the Lord saith, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven"? [4100] And He added, "Many shall say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name done many mighty [4101] works, [4102] and in Thy Name have eaten and drunken?" What! do the Jews do these things in Christ's name? Assuredly it is manifest, that He speaks of them who have the Name of Christ. But what follows? "Then will I say to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, all ye that work iniquity." [4103] Hear the Apostle sighing concerning such as these. He says that some preach the Gospel "through charity," others "by occasion;" of whom he says, "They do not preach the Gospel rightly." [4104] A right thing, but themselves not right. What they preach is right; but they who preach it are not right. Why is he not right? Because he seeketh something else in the Church, seeketh not God. If he sought God, he would be chaste; for the soul hath in God her lawful husband. Whosoever seeketh from God ought besides God, doth not seek God chastely. Consider, Brethren; if a wife love her husband because he is rich, she is not chaste. For she loves not her husband, but her husband's gold. Whereas if she love her husband, she loves him both in nakedness and poverty. For if she love him because he is rich; what if (as human chances are) he be [4105] outlawed and all on a sudden be reduced to need? She gives him up, mayhap; because what she loved was not her husband, but his property. But if she love her husband indeed, she loves him even more when poor; for that she loves with pity too.

10. And yet, Brethren, our God never can be poor. He is rich, He made all things, heaven and earth, the sea and Angels. In the heaven, whatsoever we see, whatsoever we see not, He made it. But notwithstanding, we ought not to love these riches, but Him who made them. For He hath promised thee nothing but Himself. Find anything more precious, and He will give thee this. Beauteous is the earth, the heaven, and the Angels; but more beauteous is He who made them. They then who preach God, as loving God; who preach God, for God's sake, feed the sheep, and are no hirelings. This chastity did our Lord Jesus Christ require of the soul, when He said to Peter, "Peter, lovest thou Me"? [4106] What is "Lovest thou Me"? Art thou chaste? Is not thine heart adulterous? Dost thou seek not thine own things in the Church, but Mine? If then thou be such an one, and lovest Me, "feed My sheep." For thou shalt be no hireling, but thou shalt be a shepherd.

11. But they did not preach chastely, concerning whom the Apostle sighs. But what doth he say? "What then? Notwithstanding every way, whether by occasion or in truth, Christ is preached." [4107] He suffers then that hirelings there should be. The shepherd preacheth Christ in truth, the hireling by occasion preacheth Christ, seeking something else. Notwithstanding, both the one and the other preacheth Christ. Hear the voice of the shepherd Paul; "Whether by occasion or in truth, Christ is preached." Himself a shepherd, he was pleased to have the hireling. For they act where they are able, they are useful as far as they are able. But when the Apostle for other uses sought for those whose ways the weak ones might imitate; he saith, "I have sent unto you Timotheus, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways." [4108] And what doth he say? "I have sent unto you a shepherd, to bring you into remembrance of my ways;" that is, who himself also walketh as I walk. And in sending this shepherd, what doth he say? "For I have no one so likeminded, who with sincere affection is anxious for you." Were there not many with him? But what follows? "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's;" [4109] that is, "I have wished to send unto you a shepherd; for there are many hirelings; but it were not meet for an hireling to be sent." An hireling is sent for the transaction of other affairs and business; but for those which Paul then desired, a shepherd was necessary. And he scarcely found one shepherd among many hirelings; for the shepherds are few, the hirelings many. But what is said of the hirelings? "Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward." [4110] Of the shepherd, what saith the Apostle? "But whosoever shall cleanse himself from such as these shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and useful to the Lord, prepared always unto every good work." [4111] Not unto certain things prepared, and unto certain not prepared, but "unto every good work prepared." So much have I said, concerning the shepherds.

12. But we will now speak of the hirelings. "The hireling when he seeth the wolf lying in wait for the sheep, fleeth." This the Lord said. Why? "Because he careth not for the sheep." [4112] So long then is the hireling of use, as he seeth not the wolf coming, as he seeth not the thief and the robber; but when he seeth them, he fleeth. And who is there of the hirelings, who fleeth not from the Church, when he seeth the wolf and the robber? And wolves and robbers abound. They are they who go up by another way. Who are these who go up? They who of Donatus' way [4113] wish to make havoc of Christ's sheep, they go up by another way. They do not enter in by Christ, because they are not humble. Because they are proud, they go up. What is, "they go up"? They are lifted up. Whereby do they go up? By another way: whence they wish to be named from their way. They who are not in unity are of another way, and by this way they go up, that is, are lifted up, and wish to spoil the sheep. Now mark how they go up. "It is we," they say, "who sanctify, we justify, we make righteous." See whither they have got up. "But he that exalteth himself, shall be abased." [4114] Our Lord God is able to abase them. Now the wolf is the devil, he lieth in wait to deceive, and they that follow him; for it is said that "they are clothed indeed with the skins of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." [4115] If the hireling observe anyone indulging in wicked talking, or in sentiments to the deadly hurt of his soul, or doing ought that is abominable and unclean, and notwithstanding that he seems to bear a character of some importance in the Church (from which if he hopes for advantage he is an hireling); says nothing, and when he sees the man perishing in his sin, sees the wolf following him, sees his throat dragged by his teeth to punishment; says not to him, "Thou sinnest;" does not chide him, lest he lose his own advantage. This I say is, "When he seeth the wolf, he fleeth;" he does not say to him, "Thou art doing wickedly." This is no flight of the body, but of the soul. He whom thou seest standing still in body flies in heart, when he sees a sinner, and does not say to him, "Thou sinnest;" yea when he even is in concert with him.

13. My Brethren, does ever either Presbyter or Bishop come up here, and say anything from this higher place, but that the property of others must not be plundered, that there must be no fraud committed, no wickedness done? They cannot say ought else who sit in Moses' seat, [4116] and it is it that speaks by them, not they themselves. What then is, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" and, "Every tree is known by his fruit"? [4117] Can a Pharisee speak good things? A Pharisee is a thorn; how from a thorn do I gather grapes? Because Thou, Lord, hast said, "What they say, do; but what they do, do not." [4118] Dost Thou bid me gather grapes of thorns when Thou sayest, "Do men gather grapes of thorns"? The Lord answereth thee, "I have not bidden thee gather grapes of thorns: but look, mark well, if haply, as is often the case, the vine when it trails all along upon the ground, be not entangled in thorns." For we sometimes find this, my Brethren, a vine planted over sedge, how it has there a thorny hedge, and throws out its branches, and entangles them in the thorny hedge, and the grape hangs among the thorns; and he that sees it plucks the grape, yet not from the thorns, but from the vine which is entangled in the thorns. In like manner then the Pharisees are thorny; but by sitting in Moses' seat, the vine wraps them round, and grapes, that is, good words, good precepts, hang from them. Do thou pick the grape, the thorn will not prick thee, when thou readest, "What they say, do; but what they do, do not." But the thorn will prick thee, if thou do what they do. So then that thou mayest gather the grape, and not be caught in the thorns, "What they say, do; but what they do, do not." Their deeds are the thorns, their words are the grapes, but from the vine, that is, from Moses' seat.

14. These then flee, when they see the wolf, when they see the robber. Now this it was that I had began to say, that from this higher place they can say nothing, but, "Do well," "do not forswear yourselves," "defraud not," "cheat not any." But sometimes men's lives are so bad, that counsel is asked of a Bishop on the taking away of another man's estate, and from him is such counsel sought. It has sometimes happened to ourselves, we speak from experience: for we should not have believed it. Many men require from us evil counsels, counsels of lying, of fraud; thinking that they please us thereby. But by the Name of Christ, if what we are saying is pleasing to the Lord, no such man has tempted us, and found what he wished in us. For with the good pleasure of Him who hath called us, we are shepherds, not hirelings. But as saith the Apostle, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's day; yea, I judge not even mine own self. For I am conscious of nothing by myself, but I am not hereby justified. But He That judgeth me is the Lord." [4119] My conscience is not therefore good, because ye praise it. For how praise ye what ye do not see? Let Him praise, who seeth; yea let Him correct, if He seeth ought there which offendeth His Eyes. For I too do not say that I am perfectly whole; but I beat my breast, and say to God, "Be merciful, that I sin not." Yet I do think, for I speak in His Presence, that I seek nothing from you, but your salvation; and constantly do I groan over the sins of my brethren, and I suffer distress, [4120] and am tormented in mind, and often do I reprove them; yea, I never cease reproving them. All who remember what I say are witnesses, how often my brethren who sin have been reproved, and earnestly reproved, by me.

15. I am now treating of my counsel with you, holy Brethren. In Christ's Name ye are the people of God, ye are a Catholic people, ye are members of Christ; ye are not divided from unity. Ye are in communion with the members of the Apostles, ye are in communion with the memories of the Holy Martyrs, who are spread over the whole world, and ye belong to my cure, that I may render a good account of you. Now my whole account, what it is ye know. "Lord, Thou knowest that I have spoken, Thou knowest that I have not kept silence, Thou knowest in what spirit I have spoken, Thou knowest that I have wept before Thee, when I spake, and was not heard." This I imagine is my whole account. For the Holy Spirit by the prophet Ezekiel hath given me sure hope. Ye know this passage concerning the watchman; "O son of man," saith He, "I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; if when I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt die the death, thou dost not speak;" that is (for I speak to thee that thou mayest speak), "if thou dost not announce it, and the sword," that is, what I have threatened on the sinner, "come, and take him away; that wicked man indeed shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand." [4121] Why? Because he did not speak. "But if the watchman see the sword coming, and blow the trumpet," that he may fly, and he took not to himself, that is, amend not himself, that it find him not in the punishment which God threateneth, and "the sword shall come and take any one away; that wicked man indeed shall die in his iniquity; but thou," saith He, "hast delivered thine own soul." And in that place of the Gospel, what else saith He to the servant? when he said, "Lord, I knew Thee to be a" difficult [4122] or "hard Man, in that Thou reapest where Thou hast not sowed, and gatherest where Thou hast not strawed; and I was afraid, and went and hid Thy talent in the earth, lo, Thou hast that is Thine." And He said, "`Thou wicked and slothful servant,' because thou knewest Me to be a difficult and hard Man, to reap where I have not sown, and to gather where I have not strawed, My very covetousness ought the more to teach thee, that I look for profit from My money. `Thou oughtest therefore to have given My money to the exchangers, and at My coming I should have required Mine own with usury.'" [4123] Did He say, "Thou oughtest to give, and require"? It is we then, Brethren, who give, He will come to require. Pray ye, that He may find us prepared.

Footnotes

[4072] Matt. xxv. 34, etc. [4073] John x. 7, 11. [4074] John xxi. 15, etc. [4075] Luke xxii. 33. [4076] John x. 1, etc. [4077] Luke xviii. 10. [4078] Luke xviii. 11. [4079] Luke xviii. 13. [4080] Luke xviii. 14. [4081] Personas. [4082] John x. 11. [4083] John x. 2. [4084] John x. 1. [4085] John x. 12, 13. [4086] Phil. i. 18, ii. 21. [4087] Matt. xxiii. 2. [4088] John x. 16. [4089] Luke v. 2. [4090] Vim. [4091] Gen. xxix. 23, 28. [4092] Matt. xx. 30. [4093] Matt. xxvii. 51. [4094] 2 Cor. iii. 16. [4095] Matt. xxiii. 2, 3. [4096] Sententias. [4097] Matt. xxiii. 2, 3. [4098] Faciunt. [4099] Matt. xxiii. 4. [4100] Matt. vii. 21. [4101] Virtutes. [4102] Matt. vii. 22. [4103] Matt. vii. 23. [4104] Phil. i. 16-18. [4105] Proscribatur. [4106] John xxi. 16. [4107] Phil. i. 18. [4108] 1 Cor. iv. 17. [4109] Phil. ii. 20, etc. [4110] Matt. vi. 2. [4111] 2 Tim. ii. 21. [4112] John x. 12, 13. [4113] Parte. [4114] Luke xiv. 11. [4115] Matt. vii. 15. [4116] Matt. xxiii. 2. [4117] Matt. vii. 16, xii. 33. [4118] Matt. xxiii. 3. [4119] 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4. [4120] Vim. [4121] Ezek. xxxiii. 7, etc. [4122] Molestum. [4123] Matt. xxv. 24, etc.; Luke xix. 21, etc. .


Sermon LXXXVIII.

[CXXXVIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John x. 14, "I am the good shepherd," etc. Against the Donatists.

1. We have heard the Lord Jesus setting forth to us the office of a good shepherd. And herein He hath doubtless given us to know, as we may understand it, that there are good shepherds. And yet that the multitude of shepherds might not be understood in a wrong sense; He saith, "I am the good Shepherd." [4124] And wherein He is the good Shepherd, He showeth in the words following; "The good Shepherd," saith He, "layeth down His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, seeth the wolf coming, and fleeth; because he careth not for the sheep, for he is an hireling." [4125] Christ then is the good Shepherd. What was Peter? was he not a good shepherd? Did not he too lay down his life for the sheep? What was Paul? what the rest of the Apostles? what the blessed Bishops, Martyrs, who followed close upon their times? What again our holy Cyprian? Were they not all good shepherds, not hirelings, of whom it is said, "Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward"? [4126] All these then were good shepherds, not simply for that they shed their blood, but that they shed it for the sheep. For not in pride, but in charity they shed it.

2. For even among the heretics, they who for their iniquities and errors have suffered any trouble, vaunt themselves in the name of martyrdom, that with this fair covering disguised [4127] they may plunder the more easily, for wolves they are. Now if ye would know in what rank they are to be held, hear that good shepherd, the Apostle Paul, that not all who even give up their bodies in suffering to the flames, are to be accounted to have shed their blood for the sheep, but rather against the sheep. "If," saith he, "I speak with the tongues of men, and angels, but have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. If I should know all mysteries, and have all prophecy, and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing." [4128] Now a great thing truly is this faith that removes mountains. They are indeed all great things; but if I have them without charity, saith he, not they, but I am nothing. But up to this point he hath not touched them, who glory in sufferings under the false name of martyrdom. Hear how he toucheth, yea rather pierceth them through and through. "If I should distribute," saith he, "all my goods to the poor, and deliver my body to be burned." Now here they are. But mark what follows; "but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Lo, they have come to suffering, come even to the shedding of blood, yea come to the burning of the body; and yet it profiteth them nothing, because charity is lacking. Add charity, they all profit; take charity away, all the rest profit nothing.

3. What a good is this charity, Brethren! What more precious? what yieldeth greater light? or strength? or profit? or security? Many are the gifts of God, which even the wicked have, who shall say, "Lord, we have prophesied in Thy Name, in Thy Name have cast out devils, in Thy Name done many mighty works." [4129] And He will not answer, "Ye have not done them." For in the Presence of so great a Judge, they will not dare to lie or boast of things they have not done. But for that they had not charity, He answereth them all, "I know you not." Now how can he have so much as the smallest charity, who when even [4130] convicted, loves not unity? It was then as impressing on good shepherds this unity, that our Lord was unwilling to mention many shepherds. For it is not, as I have said already, that Peter was not a good shepherd, and Paul, the rest of the Apostles, and the holy Bishops who were after them, and blessed Cyprian. All these were good shepherds; and notwithstanding to good shepherds, He commended not good shepherds, but a good Shepherd. "I," saith He, "am the good Shepherd."

4. Let us question the Lord with such little understanding as we have, and in most humble discourse hold converse with so great a Master. What sayest Thou, O Lord, Thou good Shepherd? For Thou art the good Shepherd, who art also the good Lamb; at once Pastor and Pasturage, at once Lamb and Lion. What sayest Thou? Let us give ear and aid us, that we may understand. "I," saith He, "am the good Shepherd." What is Peter? is he either not a shepherd, or a bad one? Let us see, if he be not a shepherd. "Lovest thou Me?" [4131] Thou saidst to Him Lord, "Lovest thou Me?" And he answered, "I do love Thee." And Thou to him, "Feed My sheep." Thou, Thou, Lord, by Thine Own questioning, by the strong assurance of Thine Own words, madest of the lover a shepherd. He is a shepherd then to whom Thou didst commit Thy sheep to be fed. Thou didst Thyself entrust them, he is a shepherd. Let us now see whether he be not a good one. This we find by the very question, and his answer. Thou didst ask, whether he loved Thee; he answered, "I do love Thee." Thou sawest his heart, that he answered truth. Is he not then good, who loveth so great a Good? Whence that answer drawn from his inmost heart? Wherefore was this Peter, who had Thine eyes in his heart for witnesses, sad because Thou askedst him not once only, but a second and a third time, that by a threefold confession of love, he might efface the threefold sin of denial; wherefore, I say, being sad that he was asked repeatedly by Him who knew what He was asking, and had given what He heard; wherefore being sad, did he return such an answer, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thyself knowest that I love Thee"? What! in making such a confession, such a profession rather, would he lie? In truth then, he made answer of his love to Thee, and from his inmost heart he gave utterance to a lover's words. Now Thou hast said, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things." [4132] So then he is both a shepherd, and a good shepherd; nothing it is true to the power and goodness of the Shepherd of shepherds; but nevertheless even he is both a shepherd, and a good one; and all other such are good shepherds.

5. What means it then, that to good shepherds Thou dost set forth One Only Shepherd, but that in One Shepherd Thou teachest unity? and the Lord Himself explains this more clearly by my ministry, putting you, beloved, in remembrance by this Gospel, and saying, "Hear ye what I have set forth; I have said, `I am the good Shepherd;' because all the rest, all the good shepherds, are My members." One Head, One Body, One Christ. So then both the Shepherd of shepherds, and the shepherds of the Shepherd, and the sheep with their shepherds under The Shepherd. What is all this, but what the Apostle says? "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ." [4133] Therefore if Christ be even so, with good reason doth Christ in Himself containing all good shepherds, set forth One, saying, "`I am the good Shepherd.' `I am,' I Alone am, all the rest with Me are one in unity. Whoso feedeth without Me, feedeth against Me. `He that gathereth not with Me, scattereth.'" [4134] Hear then this unity more forcibly set forth; "Other sheep," saith He, "I have which are not of this fold." [4135] For He was speaking to the first fold of the stock of the fleshly Israel. But there were others of the stock of the faith of this Israel, and they were yet without, were among the Gentiles, predestinated, not yet gathered in. These He knew who had predestinated them; He knew, who had come to redeem them with the shedding of His Own Blood. He saw them who did not yet see Him; He knew them who yet believed not on Him. "Other sheep," saith He, "I have which are not of this fold;" because they are not of the stock of the flesh of Israel. But nevertheless they shall not be outside of this fold, "for them also I must bring, that there may be One Fold, and One Shepherd."

6. With good reason then to This Shepherd of shepherds, doth His Beloved, His Spouse, His Fair One, but by Him made fair, before by sin deformed, beautiful afterward through pardon and grace, speak in her love and ardour after Him, and say to Him, "Where feedest Thou?" [4136] And observe how, by what transport this spiritual love is here animated. And far better are they by this transport delighted, who have tasted ought of the sweetness of this love. They hear this properly, who love Christ. For in them, and of them, doth the Church sing this in the Song of Songs; who love Christ, as it seemed without beauty, yet the Only Beautiful One. "For we saw Him," it is said, "and He had neither beauty nor comeliness." [4137] Such He appeared on the Cross, such when crowned with thorns did He exhibit Himself, disfigured, and without comeliness, as if He had lost His power, as if not the Son of God. Such seemed He to the blind. For it is in the person of the Jews that Isaiah said this, "We saw Him, and He had no beauty nor comeliness." When it was said, "If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross. He saved others, Himself He cannot save." [4138] And smiting Him on the head with a reed, they said, "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who smote Thee?" [4139] Because "He had neither beauty nor comeliness." As such did ye Jews see Him. For "blindness hath happened in part to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles enter in," [4140] until the other sheep come. Because then blindness hath happened, therefore did ye see the Comely One without comeliness. "For had ye known Him, ye would never have crucified the Lord of Glory." [4141] But ye did it, because ye knew Him not. And yet He who as though without beauty bare with you, all Beauteous as He was, prayed for you; "Father," saith He, "forgive them, for they know not what they do." [4142] For if He were without comeliness, how is it that she loveth Him, who saith, "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth"? [4143] How is it that she loveth Him? how is it that she burneth for Him? how is it that she feareth so much to stray from Him? How is it that she hath so great delight in Him, that her only punishment is to be without Him? What would there be for which He should be loved, if He were not beautiful? But how could she love Him so, if He appeared to her as He did to those blind men persecuting Him, and knowing not what they do? As what then did she love Him? As "comely in form above the sons of men. Comely in form above the sons of men, grace is poured abroad in Thy Lips." [4144] So then from these Thy Lips, "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth. Tell me," says she, "O Thou whom," not my flesh, but, "my soul loveth. Tell me where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday; lest haply I light, as one veiled, upon the flocks of Thy companions." [4145]

7. It seems obscure, obscure it is; for it is a mystery of the sacred marriage bed. For she says, "The King hath brought me into His chamber." [4146] Of such a chamber is this a mystery. But ye who are not as profane kept off from this chamber, hear ye what ye are, and say with her, if with her ye love (and ye do love with her, if ye are in her); say all, and yet let one say, for unity saith; "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth. For they had one soul to Godward, and one heart. [4147] Tell me where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday?" What does the midday [4148] signify? "Great heat, and great brightness." So then, "make known to me who are Thy wise ones," fervent in spirit, and brilliant in doctrine. "Make known to me Thy Right Hand, and men learned in heart, in wisdom." [4149] To them may I cleave in Thy Body, to them be united, with them enjoy Thee. Tell me then, "tell me, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday;" lest I fall upon them who say other things of Thee, entertain other sentiments of Thee; believe other things of Thee, preach other things of Thee; and have their own flocks, and are Thy companions; for that they live of Thy table, and handle the sacraments of Thy table. For companions are so called, because they eat together, [4150] messmates as it were. Such are reproved in the Psalm; "For if Mine enemy had spoken great things against Me, I would surely have hidden Myself from him; and if he that hated Me had spoken great things against Me, I would surely have hidden Myself from him; but thou a man of one mind with Me, My guide, and My familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with Me, in the house of God we walked with consent." [4151] Why then now against the house of the Lord with dissent, but that "they have gone out from us, but they were not of us?" [4152] Therefore, "O Thou whom my soul loveth," that I may not fall upon such, Thy companions, but companions such as Samson's were, who kept not faith with their friend, but wished to corrupt his wife. [4153] Therefore, that I may not fall upon such as these, "that I may not light upon them," that is, fall upon them, "as one that is veiled," as one that is concealed, that is, and obscure, not as established upon the mountain. "Tell me" then, "O thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday;" who are the wise and faithful in whom Thou dost specially rest, lest by chance as in blindness I fall upon the flocks, not Thy flocks, but the flocks of Thy companions. For thou didst not say to Peter, "Feed thy sheep," but, "Feed My sheep." [4154]

8. Let then the "good Shepherd," and, "the Comely in form above the sons of men," make answer to this beloved one; make answer to her whom He hath made beautiful from among the children of men. Hear ye what He answereth, and understand, beware of that wherewith He alarmeth, love that which He adviseth. What then doth He answer? How free from soft caresses, yea, to her caresses He returneth severity! He is sharp that He may bind her closely, that He may keep her. "If thou know not thyself," saith He, "O thou fair one among women:" [4155] for however fair others may be by the gifts of thy Spouse, they are heresies, fair in outward ornament, not within: [4156] fair are they without, and outwardly they shine, they disguise themselves by the name of righteousness; "but all the beauty of the King's daughter is within." [4157] "If" then "thou know not thyself;" that thou art one, that thou art throughout all nations, that thou art chaste, that thou oughtest not to corrupt thyself with the disordered converse of evil companions. "If thou know not thyself," that in uprightness, "he hath espoused thee to Me, to present you a chaste Virgin to Christ;" [4158] and that in uprightness thou shouldest present thine own self to Me, lest by evil converse, "as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds too should be corrupted from my purity." [4159] "If," I say, "thou know not thyself" to be such, "go thy way; go thy way." For to others I shall say, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." [4160] To thee I shall not say, "Enter in;" but, "Go thy way;" that thou mayest be among those, who "went out from us." "Go thy way." That is, "if thou know not thyself," then, "go thy way." But if thou know thyself, enter in. But, "if thou know not thyself, go thy way by the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy kids in the tents of the shepherds. Go thy way by the footsteps," not "of the Flock," but, "of the flocks, and feed," not as Peter, "My sheep," but, "thy kids; in the tents," not "of the Shepherd," but, "of the shepherds;" not of unity, but of dissension; not established there, where there is One flock and One Shepherd. The beloved one was confirmed, edified, made stronger, prepared to die for her Spouse and to live with her Spouse.

9. These words which I have quoted out of the Holy Song of Songs, of a kind of bridal song of the Bridegroom and the Bride (for it is a spiritual wedding, wherein we must live in great purity, for Christ hath granted to the Church in spirit that which His Mother had in body, to be at once a Mother and a Virgin); these words, I say, the Donatists accommodate to their own perverted sense in a very different meaning. And how I will not conceal from you, and what ye may answer them, I will, by the Lord's help, as well as I shall be able, briefly recommend. When then we begin to press them with the light of the Church's unity spread over the whole world, and demand of them to show us any testimony out of the Scriptures, where God hath foretold that the Church should be in Africa, as if all the rest of the nations were lost; they are in the habit of taking this testimony in their mouths, and saying; "Africa is under the midday sun; the Church then" they say, "asking the Lord where He feedeth, where He lieth down; He answereth, `Under the midday sun;'" as if the voice of her who put the question, were, "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down;" and the Voice of Him who answereth, were, "Under the midday sun;" that is, in Africa. If then it be the Church which asketh, and the Lord maketh answer where he feedeth, in Africa, because the Church was in Africa; then she who asketh was not in Africa. "Tell me," she saith, "O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down;" and He maketh answer to some Church out of Africa, "Under the midday sun," in Africa I lie down, in Africa I feed, as if it were, "I do not feed in thee." I repeat, if she who asketh is the Church, which no one disputes, which not even themselves gainsay; and they hear something about Africa; then she who asketh is out of Africa; and because it is the Church, the Church is out of Africa.

10. But see, I admit that Africa is under the midday sun; although Egypt is rather under the meridian, under the midday sun than Africa. Now after what fashion This Shepherd is there in Egypt, they who know, will acknowledge; and for them that know not, let them enquire how large a flock lie gathereth there, how great a multitude He hath of holy men and women who utterly despise the world. That flock hath so increased, that it hath expelled superstitions even thence. To pass over how it hath in its increase banished thence the whole superstition of idols, which had been firmly fixed there; I admit what you say, O evil companions; I admit it altogether, I agree that Africa is in the South, and that Africa is signified in that which is said, "Where feedest Thou, where dost Thou lie down under the midday sun?" But do ye too equally observe how that up to this point these are the words of the Bride, and not yet of the Bridegroom. Hitherto it is the Bride that saith, "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou dost lie down in the midday, lest by chance I light, as one veiled." O thou deaf, and blind one, if in the "midday" thou seest Africa, why in her that is "veiled" dost thou not see the Bride? "Tell me," she said, "O Thou whom my soul loveth." Without doubt she addresses her Spouse, when she says, "whom" [in the masculine [4161] ] "my soul loveth." Just as if it were said, "Tell me, O thou whom [in the feminine [4162] ] "my soul loveth;" we should understand that the Bridegroom spake these words to His Bride; so when you hear, "Tell me, O thou whom" (in the masculine) "my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down;" add to this, to her words belongs also what follows, "In the midday." I am asking, "where Thou feedest in the midday, lest by chance I light as one veiled upon the flocks of Thy companions." I consent entirely, I admit what you understand of Africa; it is signified by "the midday." But then as you understand it, the Church of Christ beyond the sea is addressing her Spouse, in fear of falling into the African error, "O Thou whom my soul, loveth, tell me," teach me. For I hear that "in the midday," that is in Africa, there are two parties, yea rather many schisms. [4163] "Tell me," then, "where Thou feedest," what sheep belong to Thee, what fold Thou biddest me love there, whereunto ought I to unite myself. "Lest by chance I light as one veiled." For they mock me as if I were concealed, they mock me as destroyed, as though I existed nowhere else. "Lest," then, "as one veiled," as if concealed, "I light upon the flocks," that is, upon the congregarious of the heretics, "thy companions; the Donatists, the Maximinianists, the Rogatists and all the other pests who gather without, and who therefore scatter; "Tell me," I pray Thee, if I must seek my Shepherd there, that I fall not into the gulf of re-baptizing. I exhort you, I beseech you by the sanctity of such nuptials, love this Church, be ye in this holy Church, be ye this Church; love the good Shepherd, the Spouse so fair, who deceiveth no one, who desireth no one to perish. Pray too for the scattered sheep; that they too may come, that they too may acknowledge Him, that they too may love Him; that there may be One Flock and One Shepherd. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[4124] John x. 11. [4125] John x. 12, 13. [4126] Matt. vi. 2, 4. [4127] Dealbati. [4128] 1 Cor. xiii. 1, etc. [4129] Matt. vii. 22. [4130] Referring it would seem to the conference held but a little while before this with the Donatist party at Carthage. [4131] John xxi. 15. [4132] Matt. xii. 35. [4133] 1 Cor. xii. 12. [4134] Matt. xii. 30. [4135] John x. 16. [4136] Cant. i. 7. [4137] Isa. liii. 2, Sept. [4138] Mark xv. 31. [4139] Matt. xxvi. 68. [4140] Rom. xi. 25. [4141] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [4142] Luke xxiii. 34. [4143] Cant. i. 7. [4144] Ps. xlv. 2. [4145] Cant. i. 7, Sept. [4146] Cant. i. 4. [4147] Acts iv. 32. [4148] It is not possible in English to preserve the same translation for the word meridies, which occurs throughout this passage in the two senses of the noon or midday, and the South. [4149] Ps. lxxxix. 12, Sept. (xc. English version). [4150] Sodales enim dicti sunt, quod simul edant, quasi simul edales. [4151] Ps. liv. 13, etc., Sept. (lv. 12-14, English version). [4152] 1 John ii. 19. [4153] Judg. xiv. [4154] John xxi. 17. [4155] Cant. viii. Sept. [4156] Visceribus. [4157] Ps. xlv. 13. [4158] 2 Cor. xi. 2. [4159] 2 Cor. xi. 3. [4160] Matt. xxv. 21. [4161] Quem. [4162] Quam. [4163] Concisiones. .


Sermon LXXXIX.

[CXXXIX. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John x. 30, "I and the Father are one."

1. Ye have heard what the Lord God, Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God, born of God the Father without any mother, and born of a Virgin mother without any human father, said, "I and My Father are One." [4164] Receive ye this, believe it in such wise that ye may attain [4165] to understand it. For faith ought to go before understanding, that understanding may be the reward of faith. For the Prophet hath said most expressly, "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand." [4166] What then is simply preached is to be believed; what is with exactness discussed, is to be understood. At first then [4167] to imbue your minds with faith we preach to you Christ, the Only Son of God the Father. Why is added, "The Only Son"? Because He whose Only Son He is, hath many sons by grace. All the rest then, all saints are sons of God by grace, He Alone by Nature. They who are sons of God by grace are not What the Father is. And no saint hath ever dared to say, what that Only Son saith, "I and My Father are One." Is He not then our Father too? If He be not our Father, how say we when we pray, "Our Father, which art in heaven"? [4168] But we are sons whom He hath made sons by His Own will, not begotten as sons of His Own Nature. And in truth He hath begotten us too, but as it is said, as adopted ones, begotten by the favour of His adoption, not by Nature. And this too are we called, for that "God hath called us into the adoption of sons;" [4169] we are though adopted, men. He is called the Only Son, the Only Begotten, in that, He is That which the Father is; but we are men, The Father is God. In then that He is That which the Father is; He said, and said truly, "I and My Father are One." What is, "are One"? Are of one Nature. What is, "are One"? Are of one Substance.

2. Peradventure, ye but imperfectly understand what "of one Substance" is. Take we pains that ye may understand it; may God assist both me who speak, and you that hear; me, that I may speak such things as are true and fit for you; and you, that before and above all things ye may believe; and then that ye may understand as best ye can. What then is "of One Substance"? Let me make use of similitudes to you, that what is imperfectly understood may be made clear by example. As, suppose, God is gold. His Son is gold also. If similitudes ought not to be given for heavenly things from things earthly, how is it written, "Now the Rock was Christ"? [4170] So then, Whatsoever the Father is, This is the Son also; as I have said, for example, "The Father is gold, the Son is gold." For he who says, "The Son is not of the Very Substance which the Father is;" what else says he but, "The Father is gold, the Son is silver"? If the Father be gold, and the Son silver; the Only Son hath degenerated from the Father. A man begets a man; of what substance the father is who begets, of the same substance is the Son who is begotten. What is, "of the same substance"? The one is a man, and the other is a man; the one hath a soul; so hath the other a soul; the one hath a body, so hath the other a body; what one is, that is the other.

3. But the Arian heresy makes answer, and says. What says it to me? "Mark what thou hast said"? What have I said? "That the Son of a man may be compared to the Son of God." Certainly he may be compared; but not as you suppose, in strictness of expression; [4171] but for a similitude. But tell me now what you would make of this. "Do you not see," says he, "that the father who begets is greater [4172] in age, and the son who is begotten less? How then say ye? tell me; how then say ye, that the Father and the Son, God and Christ, are equal; when ye see that when a man begets a son, the son is less, and the father greater?" Thou wise one, in eternity thou art looking for times; where there are no times, thou art looking for differences of age! When the father is greater in age, and the son less, both are in time; the one groweth, for that the other groweth old. For by nature, the man, the father, did not beget one less, by nature, as I said, but by age. Wouldest thou know, how that by nature he did not beget one less? Wait, let him grow, and he will be equal to his father. For a little boy even by growing attains to his father's full size. Whereas you assert that the Son of God is in such wise born less, as never to grow, and by growing even to attain to His Father's size. Now then a man's son born of a man, is born in a better condition than the Son of God. How? Because the former grows, and attains to his father's size. But Christ, if it is as ye say, is in such wise born less, as that He must ever remain less, and no growth of years at least is to be looked for here. Thus then you say that there is a diversity in nature. But why say you so, but because you will not believe the Son to be of the Same Substance which the Father is? Finally, first acknowledge that He is of the Same Substance, and so call Him less. Consider the case of a man, he is a man. What is his substance? He is a man. What is he whom he begets? He is less, but he is a man. The age is unequal, the nature equal. Do you then say too, "What the Father is, That is the Son, but the Son is less"? Say so, make a step forward, say, "of the Same Substance, only less;" and you will get to His being equal. For it is not a little step you take, it is not a little approach you make to the truth, of acknowledging Him equal, if you shall acknowledge Him to be of the Same Substance, though less. "But He is not of the Same Substance," this you say. So then in that you say this, here is gold and silver; what you say is as if a man were to beget a horse. For a man is of one substance, a horse of another. If then the Son is of another substance than the Father, the Father hath begotten a monster. For when a creature, that is a woman, gives birth to anything that is not a man, it is called a monster. But that it be not a monster, he that is born is that which he is that begat him, that is, a man and a man, a horse and a horse, a dove and a dove, a sparrow and a sparrow.

4. To His creatures hath He given to beget that which they are. To His creatures, to mortal, earthly creatures, hath God given, hath granted to beget that which they are; and thinkest thou that He hath not been able to reserve this for Himself, He who is before all ages? Should He who hath no beginning of time, beget a son, different from That which Himself is, beget a degenerate son? Hear ye how great a blasphemy it is to say, that the Only Son of God is of another substance. Most certainly if He is so, He is degenerate. If you should say to any child of man, "Thou art degenerate," how great an offence is it! And yet in what sense is any child of man said to be degenerate? As, for example, his father is brave, he is a poltroon and a coward. If any one sees him, and would rebuke him, as he thinks of his brave father, what does he say to him? "Get thee hence, thou degenerate one!" What is "degenerate one"? "Thy father was a brave man, and thou tremblest through fear." He to whom this is said, is degenerate by some fault, by nature he is equal. What is, "by nature he is equal"? He is a man, which his father also is. But the one brave, the other a coward; the one bold, the other timid; yet both men. By some fault then he is degenerate, not by nature. But when you say, that the Only Son, the One Son of the Father, is degenerate, you say nought else, but that He is not What the Father is; and you do not say, that having been already born, He has become degenerate; but He was begotten so. Who can endure this blasphemy? If they could in any sort whatever see this blasphemy, they would fly from it, and become catholics.

5. But what shall I say, Brethren? Let us not be angry with them; but pray we for them, that God would give them understanding; for peradventure they were born so. [4173] What is, were born so? They receive what they hold from their parents. They prefer their birth to the truth. Let them become what they are not, that they may be able to keep what they are; that is, let them become catholics, that they may keep their nature as men; that the creation of God in them perish not, let the grace of God be added to them. For they imagine that by their outrage of the Son they honour the Father. When you say to him, "Thou blasphemest;" he answers, "Why do I blaspheme?" "In that thou sayest that the Son is not what the Father is." And he answers me, "Yea, it is thou who blasphemest." Why? "Because thou wouldest make the Son equal to the Father." "I do wish to make the Son equal with the Father, but is this to make a stranger equal? The Father rejoiceth when I equal with Him His Only Son; He rejoiceth because He is not envious. And because God is not envious of His Only Son, therefore did He beget Him Such as He is Himself. Thou doest wrong both to the Son, and to the Father Himself, for whose honour thou wouldest do outrage to the Son. For in truth for this reason dost thou say that the Son is not of the Same Substance, lest thou shouldest do wrong to His Father. I will soon show thee, that thou doest wrong to both." "How?" saith he. "If I say to any man's son, Thou art degenerate, thou art not like thy father; degenerate, thou art not what thy father is. The son hears it, and is angry, and says, `Was I then born degenerate?' The father hears it, and is more angry still. And in his anger what says he? `Have I then begotten a degenerate son? If I then be one thing, and I have begotten another, I have begotten a monster.' What is it then, that whereas thou wishest to pay honour to the One by doing outrage to the Other, thou doest outrage to Both? Thou offendest the Son, but thou wilt not propitiate the Father. When thou honourest the Father by outraging the Son, thou offendest both the Son and the Father. From whom wilt thou fly? to whom wilt thou fly? When the Father is angry with thee, dost thou fly to the Son? What doth He say to thee? `To whom dost thou fly, to Me, whom thou hast made degenerate?' When the Son is offended, dost thou run to the Father? He too saith to thee; `To whom dost thou fly, to Me who, thou hast said, have begotten a degenerate Son?'" Let this suffice for you; hold it fast, commit it to memory, inscribe it in your faith. But that ye may understand it, pour out your prayers to God, the Father and the Son, who are One.

Footnotes

[4164] John x. 30. [4165] Mereamini. [4166] Isa. vii. 9, Sept. [4167] He seems to be addressing the Catechumens (Bened. note). [4168] Matt. vi. 9. [4169] Eph. i. 5. [4170] 1 Cor. x. 4. [4171] Ad proprietatem. [4172] Major. [4173] Arians. .


Sermon XC.

[CXL. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John xii. 44, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me." Against a certain expression of Maximinus, a bishop of the Arians, who spread his blasphemy in Africa where he was with the Count Segisvult.

1. What is it, Brethren, which we have heard the Lord saying, "He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me"? [4174] It is good for us to believe on Christ, especially seeing that He hath also Himself expressly said this which ye have now heard, that is, that "He had come a Light into the world, and whosoever believeth on Him shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." [4175] Good then it is to believe on Christ; and a great evil it is not to believe on Christ. But because Christ the Son is, Whatsoever He is, of the Father, but the Father is not of the Son, but is the Father of the Son; He recommends to us indeed faith in Himself, but refers the honour to His Original. [4176]

2. For hold this fast as a firm and settled truth, if ye would continue Catholics, that God the Father begat God the Son without time, and made Him of a Virgin in time. The first nativity exceedeth times; the second nativity enlighteneth times. Yet both nativities are marvellous; the one without a mother, the other without a father. When God begat the Son, He begat Him of Himself, not of a mother; when the Mother gave birth to her Son, she gave Him birth as a Virgin, not by man. He was born of the Father without a beginning; He was born of a mother, as to-day [4177] at an appointed beginning. Born of the Father He made us; born of a mother He re-made us. He was born of the Father, that we might be; He was born of a mother, that we might not be lost. But the Father begat Him equal to Himself, and All Whatsoever the Son is, He hath of the Father. But What God the Father is, He hath not of the Son. Accordingly we say that the Father is God, of none; the Son, God of God. Wherefore all that the Son doeth marvellously, all that He saith truly, He attributeth to Him of whom He is; yet can He not be ought else than He of whom He is. Adam was made a man; he had power to become something other than he was made. For he was made righteous, and he had power to become unrighteous. But the Only-Begotten Son of God, What He is, This cannot be changed; He cannot be changed into anything else, cannot be diminished, What He was He cannot but be, He cannot but be equal to the Father. But undoubtedly He who gave all things to the Son by His Birth, gave it to One not needing ought; without doubt this very equality too with the Father, the Father gave to the Son. How did the Father give It? did He beget Him less, and add to Him to complete His Form, that He might make Him equal? If he had done this, He would have given it to one in need. But I have told you already what ye ought most firmly to hold fast, that is, that All That the Son is, the Father gave Him, gave Him, that is, by His Birth, not as in need of ought. If He gave it to Him by His Birth, and not as in need, then doubtless He both gave Him equality, and in giving Him equality, begat Him equal. And although the One be One Person, and the Other Another; yet is not the One one thing, and the Other another; but What the One is, That the Other also. He who is the One, is not the Other; but What the One, That too the Other.

3. "He Who sent Me," saith He, ye have heard it; "He Who sent Me," saith He, "He gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life everlasting." [4178] It is John's Gospel, hold it fast. "He Who sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life everlasting." O that He would grant me to say what I wish! For my poverty and His abundance straiteneth me. "He," saith He, "gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life everlasting." Search in the Epistle of this John the Evangelist for what he hath said of Christ. "Let us believe," he says, "His True Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and Everlasting Life." [4179] What is, "The True God, and Everlasting Life"? The True Son of God is the "the True God, and Everlasting Life." Why did He say, "On His True Son"? Because God hath many sons, therefore was He to be distinguished, by adding that He was the True Son. Not by simply saying that He is the Son; but by adding, as I have said, that He is the True Son; therefore He was to be distinguished, because of the many sons which God hath. For we are sons by grace, He by Nature. We made by the Father through Him; He Himself That Which the Father is; are we too That Which God is?

4. But some man coming across us, knowing not what he is saying, says, "For this reason was it said, "I and My Father are One; [4180] for that They have with One Another an agreement of will, not because the Nature of the Son is the Very Same as the Nature of the Father. For the Apostles too (now this is what he said, [4181] not I), for the Apostles too are one with the Father and the Son." Horrible blasphemy! "And the Apostles," says he, "are one with the Father and the Son, in that they obey the will of the Father and the Son." Has he dared to say this? Let Paul then say, "I and God are one." Let Peter say it, let every one of the Prophets say, "I and God are one." They do not say it; God forbid they should. They know that they are a different nature, a nature that needeth to be saved; they know that they are a different nature, a nature that needeth to be enlightened. No one says, "I and God are one." Whatsoever progress he may make, howsoever he may surpass others in holiness, with how great eminence soever of virtue he may excel, he never saith, "I and God are one;" for if he have excellence, and therefore saith it; by saying it, he loseth what he had.

5. Believe then that the Son is equal with the Father; but yet that the Son is of the Father; but the Father not of the Son. The Original is with the Father, equality with the Son. For if He be not equal, He is not a true Son. For what are we saying, Brethren? If He is not equal, He is less; if He is less, I ask the nature that needeth to be saved, in its misbelief, "how is He born less?" Answer, Doth He as being less grow or not? If He groweth, then the Father groweth old. But if He will ever be what He was born; if He was born less, He will continue less; with this His loss He will be perfect; born perfect with this loss of the Father's Form, He is never to attain to the Father's Form. Thus do ye ungodly assail [4182] the Son; thus do ye heretics blaspheme the Son. What then saith the Catholic faith? The Son is God, of God the Father; God the Father, not God of the Son. But God the Son equal with the Father, Born equal; not Born less, not made equal, but Born equal. What the Father is, That is He also who was born. Was the Father ever without the Son? God forbid! Take away your "ever," where there is no time. The Father always, the Son always. The Father without beginning of time, the Son without beginning of time; the Father never before the Son, the Father never without the Son. But yet because the Son is God of God the Father, and the Father God, but not of God the Son; let not the honouring of the Son in the Father displease us. For the honouring of the Son giveth honour to the Father, it diminisheth not His Own Divinity.

6. Because then I was speaking of what I had brought forward, "And I knew," saith He, "that His commandment is everlasting life." [4183] Mark, Brethren, what I am saying; "I know that His commandment is everlasting life." And we read in the same John concerning Christ, "He is The True God and Everlasting Life." [4184] If the Father's commandment is "everlasting Life," and Christ the Son Himself is "everlasting Life;" the Son is Himself the Father's Commandment. For how is not That the Father's Commandment, which is the Father's Word? Or if you take the commandment given to the Son by the Father in a carnal sense, as if the Father said to the Son, "I command Thee this, I wish Thee to do that;" in what words spake He to the Only Word? When He gave commandment to the Word, did He look for words? That the Father's Commandment then is "Life everlasting," and that the Son Himself is "Life everlasting," believe ye and receive, believe and understand, for the Prophet saith, "Unless ye believe ye shall not understand." [4185] Do ye not comprehend? Be enlarged. Hear the Apostle: "Be ye enlarged, bear not the yoke with unbelievers." [4186] They who will not believe this before they comprehend, are unbelievers. And because they have determined to be unbelievers, they will remain in their ignorance. Let them believe then that they may understand. Most certainly the Father's Commandment is "everlasting Life." Therefore the Father's Commandment is the Very Son who was born this day; a Commandment not given in time but a Commandment Born. The Gospel of John exercises our minds, refines [4187] and uncarnalizes them, that of God we may think not after a carnal but a spiritual manner. Let so much then, Brethren, suffice you; lest in length of disputation, the sleep of forgetfulness steal over you.

Footnotes

[4174] John xii. 44. [4175] John xii. 46; John viii. 12. [4176] Authorem. [4177] The Bened. conjecture that the word "hodie" here and at the end was added in order to adapt this Sermon to be preached on Christmas Day. [4178] John xii. 49, 50. [4179] 1 John v. 20. [4180] John x. 30. [4181] Maximinus in his Conference with St. Augustin, and St. Augustin in his Answer, B. ii. cont. Maxim. ch. 22. [4182] Addicitis. [4183] John xii. 50. [4184] 1 John v. 20. [4185] Isa. vii. 9, Sept. [4186] 2 Cor. vi. 13, 14. [4187] Limat. .


Sermon XCI.

[CXLI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John xiv. 6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."

1. Amongst other things, when the Holy Gospel was being read, ye heard what the Lord Jesus said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." [4188] Truth and life doth every man desire; but not every man doth find the way. That God is a certain Life Eternal, Unchangeable, Intelligible, Intelligent, Wise, Making wise, some philosophers even of this world have seen. The fixed, settled, unwavering truth, wherein are all the principles [4189] of all things created, they saw indeed, but afar off; they saw, but amid the error in which they were placed; and therefore what way to attain to that so great, and ineffable, and beatific a possession they formed not. For that even they saw (as far as can be seen by man) the Creator by means of the creature, the Worker by His work, the Framer of the world by the world, the Apostle Paul is witness, whom Christians ought surely to believe. For he said when he was speaking of such; "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness." [4190] These are, as ye recognise, the words of the Apostle Paul; "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men; who detain the truth in unrighteousness." Did he say that they do not detain truth? No: but, "They detained the truth in unrighteousness." What they detain, is good; but wherein they detain it, is bad. "They detain the truth in unrighteousness."

2. Now it occurred to him that it might be said to him, "Whence do these ungodly men detain the truth? Hath God spoken to any one of them? Have they received the Law as the people of the Israelites by Moses? Whence then do they detain the truth, though it be even in this unrighteousness?" Hear what follows, and he shows. "Because that which can be known of God," he says, "is manifest in them; for God hath manifested it unto them." [4191] Manifested it unto them to whom He hath not given the Law? Hear how He hath manifested it. "For the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." [4192] Ask the world, the beauty of the heaven, the brilliancy and ordering of the stars, the sun, that sufficeth for the day, the moon, the solace of the night; ask the earth fruitful in herbs, and trees, full of animals, adorned with men; ask the sea, with how great and what kind of fishes filled; ask the air, with how great birds stocked; [4193] ask all things, and see if they do not as if it were by a language [4194] of their own make answer to thee, "God made us." These things have illustrious philosophers sought out, and by the art have come to know the Artificer. What then? Why is the wrath of God revealed against this ungodliness? "Because they detain the truth in unrighteousness?" Let him come, let him show how. For how they came to know Him, he hath said already. "The invisible things of Him," that is God, "are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal Power also and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." [4195] They are the Apostle's words, not mine: "And their foolish heart was darkened; for professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." [4196] What by curious search they found, by pride they lost. "Professing themselves to be wise," attributing, that is, the gift of God to themselves, "they became fools." They are the Apostle's words, I say; "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

3. Show, prove their foolishness. Show, O Apostle, and as thou hast shown us whereby they were able to attain to the knowledge of God, for that "the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by those things that are made;" so now show how, "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Hear; Because "they changed," he says, "the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things." [4197] For of figures of these animals, the Pagans made themselves gods. Thou hast found out God, and thou worshippest an idol. Thou hast found out the truth, and this very truth dost thou detain in unrighteousness. And what by the works of God thou hast come to know, by the works of man thou losest. Thou hast considered the universe, [4198] hast collected the order of the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all the elements; thou wilt not take heed to this, that the world is the work of God, an idol is the work of a carpenter. If the carpenter as he has given the figure, could also give a heart, the carpenter would be worshipped by his own idol. For, O man, as God is thy Framer, so the idol's framer is a man. Who is thy God? He That made thee. Who is the carpenter's god? He That made him. Who is the idol's god? He that made it. If then the idol had a heart, would he not worship the carpenter who made it? See in what unrighteousness they detained the truth, and found not the way that leadeth to that possession which they saw.

4. But Christ, for that He is with the Father, the Truth, and Life, the Word of God, of whom it is said, "The Life was the Light of men;" [4199] for that I say He is with the Father, the Truth, and Life, and we had no way whereby to go to the Truth, the Son of God, who is ever in the Father the Truth and Life, by assuming man's nature became the Way. Walk by Him as Man, and thou comest to God. By Him thou goest, to Him thou goest. Look not out for any way whereby to come to Him, besides Himself. For if He had not vouchsafed to be the Way, we should have always gone astray. He then became the Way Whereby thou shouldest come; I do not say to thee, seek the Way. The Way Itself hath come to thee, arise and walk. Walk, with the life, [4200] not with the feet. For many walk well with the feet, and with their lives walk ill. For sometimes even those who walk well, run outside the way. Thus you will find men living well, and not Christians. They run well; but they run not in the way. The more they run, the more they go astray; because they are out of the Way. But if such men as these come to the Way, and hold on the Way, O how great is their security, because they both walk well, and do not go astray! But if they do not hold on the Way, however well they walk, alas! how are they to be bewailed! For better is it to halt in the way, than to walk on stoutly outside the way. Let this suffice for you, Beloved. Turn we to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[4188] John xiv. 6. [4189] Rationes. [4190] Rom. i. 18. [4191] Rom. i. 19. [4192] Rom. i. 20. [4193] Viget. [4194] Sensu. [4195] Rom. i. 21. [4196] Rom. i. 22. [4197] Rom. i. 23. [4198] Totum. [4199] John i. 4. [4200] Moribus. .


Sermon XCII.

[CXLII. Ben.]

On the same words of the Gospel, John xiv. 6, "I am the way," etc.

1. The divine lessons raise us up, that we be not broken by despair; and terrify us again, that we be not tossed to and fro by pride. But to hold the middle, the true, the strait way, as it were between the left hand of despair, and the right hand of presumption, would be most difficult for us, had not Christ said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." [4201] As if He had said, "By what way wouldest thou go? `I am the Way'. Whither wouldest thou go? `I am the Truth.' Where wouldest thou abide? `I am the Life.'" Let us then walk with all assurance in the Way; but let us fear snares by the way side. The enemy does not dare to lay his snares in the way; because Christ is the Way; but most certainly by the way side he ceases not to do so. Whence too it is said in the Psalm, "They have laid stumblingblocks for me by the way side." [4202] And another Scripture saith, "Remember that thou walkest in the midst of snares." [4203] These snares among which we walk are not in the way; but yet they are "by the way side." What fearest thou, what art thou alarmed at, so thou walk in the Way? Fear then, if thou forsake the Way. For for this reason is the enemy even permitted to lay snares by the way side, lest through the security of exultation the Way be forsaken, and ye fall into the snares.

2. Christ Humbled is the Way; Christ the Truth and the Life, Christ Highly Exalted and God. If thou walk in the Humbled, thou shalt attain to the Exalted. If infirm as thou art, thou despise not the Humbled, thou shalt abide exceeding strong in the Exalted. For what cause was there of Christ's Humiliation, save thine infirmity? For solely and irremediably did thine infirmity press thee in, and this circumstance it was that made so great a Physician come to thee. For if thy sickness had been even such, that thou couldest have gone to the Physician, this infirmity might have seemed endurable. But because thou couldest not go to Him, He came to thee. He came teaching humility, whereby we might return; for that pride allowed us not to return to life; yea had even made us depart from life. For the heart of man being lifted up against God, and neglecting in its sound state His saving precepts, the soul fell away into infirmity; let her in her infirmity learn to hear Him whom in her strength she despised. Let her hear Him that she may rise, whom she despised, that she might fall. Let her at length, taught by experience, give ear to what she had no mind, when taught by precept, to obtain. For her misery hath taught her, how evil a thing it is to go a whoring from the Lord. For to fall away from that Simple and Singular Good, into this multitude of pleasures, into the love of the world, and earthly corruption, is to go a whoring from the Lord. And He hath addressed her as in a sense a harlot, to warn her to return: very often by the Prophets doth He reproach her as a harlot, but yet not despaired of, for that He who reproacheth the harlot hath in His Hands the cleansing of the harlot too.

3. For He doth not so reproach as to insult her; but He would bring her to confusion of face to heal her. Vehement are the exclamations of Scripture, nor doth it deal softly by flattery with those whom it would by healing recover. "Ye adulterers, know ye not that the friend of this world is constituted the enemy of God?" [4204] The love of the world maketh the soul adulterous, the love of the Framer of the world maketh the soul chaste; but unless she blush for her corruption, she hath no desire to return to that chaste embrace. Be she confounded that she may return, who was vaunting herself that she should not return. It was pride then that hindered the soul's return. But whoso reproacheth doth not cause the sin, but showeth the sin. What the soul was loth to see, is placed before her eyes; and what she desired to have behind her back, is brought before her face. See thyself in thyself. "Why seest thou the mote in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam in thine own eye?" [4205] The soul which went away from herself, is recalled to herself. As she had gone away from herself, so went she away from her Lord. For she had respect to herself, and pleased herself, and became enamoured of her own power. She withdrew from him, and abode not in herself; and from her own self she is repelled, and from herself shut out, and she falleth away unto things without her. She loves the world, loves the things of time, loves earthly things; who if she but loved herself to the neglect of Him by whom she was made, would at once be less, at once fail by loving that which is less. For she is less than God; yea less by far, and by so much less as the thing made is less than the Maker. It was God then That ought to have been loved, yea in such wise ought God to be loved, that if it might be so, we should forget ourselves. What then is this change? The soul hath forgotten herself, but by loving the world; let her now forget herself, but by loving the world's Maker. Driven away even from herself, I say, she hath in a manner lost herself, and hath not skilled to see her own actions, she justifies her iniquities; she is puffed up, and prides herself in insolence, in voluptuousness, in honours, in posts of authority, in riches, in the power of vanity. She is reproved, rebuked, is shown to herself, mislikes herself, confesses her deformity, longs for her first beauty, and she who went away in profusion returns in confusion. [4206]

4. Seemeth he to pray against her, or for her, who says, "Fill their faces with shame"? It seems to be an adversary, it seems an enemy. Hear what follows, and see whether a friend can offer this prayer. "Fill," says he, "their faces with shame, and they shall seek Thy Name, O Lord." [4207] Did he hate them whose faces he desired to be filled with shame? See how he loves them whom he would have seek the Name of the Lord. Does he love only, or hate only? or does he both hate, and love? Yea, he both hates, and loves. He hates what is thine, he loves thee. What is, "He hates what is thine, he loves thee"? He hates what thou hast made, he loves what God hath made. For what are thine own things but sins? And what art thou but what God made thee, a man after His Own image and likeness? Thou dost neglect what thou wast made, love what thou hast made. Thou dost love thine own works without thee, dost neglect the work of God within thee. Deservedly dost thou go away, deservedly fall off, yea, deservedly even from thine own self depart; deservedly hear the words, "A spirit that goeth and returneth not." [4208] Hear rather Him That calleth and saith, "Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you." [4209] For God doth not really turn away, and turn again; Abiding the Same He rebuketh, Unchangeable He rebuketh. He hath turned away, in that thou hast turned thyself away. Thou hast fallen from Him, He hath not fallen away from thee. [4210] Hear Him then saying to thee, "Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you." For this is, "I turn unto you, in that ye turn unto Me." He followeth on the back of him that flieth, He enlighteneth the face of him that returneth. For whither wilt thou fly in flying from God? Whither wilt thou fly in flying from Him who is contained in no place, and is nowhere absent? He That delivereth him that turneth to him, punisheth him that turneth away. Thou hast a Judge by flying; have a Father by returning.

5. But he had been swollen up by pride, and by this swelling could not return by the strait way. He who became the Way, crieth out, "Enter ye in by the strait gate." [4211] He tries to enter in, the swelling impedes him; and his trying is so much the more hurtful, in proportion as the swelling is a greater impediment. For the straitness irritates [4212] his swelling; and being irritated he will swell the more; and swelling more, when will he enter in? So then let him bring down the swelling. And how? Let him take the medicine of humility; let him against the swelling drink the bitter but wholesome cup; drink the cup of humility. Why doth he squeeze himself? The bulk, not for its size, but for its swelling, doth not allow him. For size hath solidity, swelling inflation. Let not him that is swollen fancy himself of great size; that he may be great, and substantial, [4213] and solid, let him bring down his swelling. Let him not long after these present things, let him not glory in this pomp of things failing and corruptible; let him hearken to Him who said, "Enter in by the strait gate," saying also, "I am the Way." [4214] For as if some swollen one had asked, "How shall I enter in?" He saith, "`I am the Way.' Enter in by Me; Thou walkest only by Me, to enter in by the door." For as He said, "I am the Way;" so also, "I am the Door." [4215] Why seekest thou whereby to return, whither to return, whereby to enter in? Lest thou shouldest in any respect go astray, He became all for thee. Therefore in brief He saith, "Be humble, be meek." Let us hear Him saying this most plainly, that thou mayest see whereby is the way, what is the way, whither is the way. Whither wouldest thou come? But peradventure in covetousness thou wouldest possess all things. "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father," [4216] saith He. It may be thou wilt say, "They were delivered to Christ: but are they to me?" Hear the Apostle speak; hear, as I said some time ago, lest thou be broken by despair; hear how thou wert loved when thou hadst nothing to be loved for, hear how thou wert loved when unsightly, deformed, before there was ought in thee which was meet to be loved. Thou wast first loved, that thou mightest be made meet to be loved. For Christ, as the Apostle says, "died for the ungodly." [4217] What! will you say that the ungodly deserved to be loved? I ask, what did the ungodly deserve? To be damned. Here you will answer, Yet, "Christ died for the ungodly." Lo, what was done for thee when ungodly; what is reserved for thee now godly? "Christ died for the ungodly." Thou didst desire to possess all things; desire it not through covetousness, seek it through piety, seek it through humility. For if thou seek thus, thou shalt possess. For thou shalt have Him by whom all things were made, and with Him shalt possess all things.

6. I do not say this as though the result of reasoning. Hear the Apostle himself saying, "He that spared not His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; how hath He also not with Him given us all things?" [4218] Lo, covetous one, thou hast all things. All things that thou lovest, despise, that thou be not kept back from Christ, and hold to Him in whom thou mayest possess all things. The Physician Himself then needing no such medicine, yet that He might encourage the sick, drank what He had no need of; addressing him as it were refusing it, and raising him up in his fear, He drank first. "The Cup," saith He, "which I shall drink of;" [4219] "I who have nothing in Me to be cured by that Cup, am yet to drink it, that thou who needest to drink it, may not disdain to drink." Now consider, Brethren, ought the human race to be any longer sick after having received such a medicine? God hath been now Humbled, and is man still proud? Let him hear, let him learn. "All things," saith He, have been delivered unto Me of My Father." [4220] If thou desirest all things, thou shalt have them with Me; if thou desirest the Father, by Me and in Me thou shalt have Him. "No man knoweth the Father but the Son." Do not despair; come to the Son. Hear what follows, "And he to whom the Son will reveal Him." Thou saidst, "I am not able. Thou callest me through a strait way; I am not able to enter in by a strait way." "Come," saith He, "unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden." Your burden is your swelling. "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." [4221]

7. The Master of the Angels crieth out, the Word of God, by whom all reasonable souls are without failing fed, the Food That refresheth, and abideth Entire, crieth out and saith, "Learn of Me." Let the people hear Him, saying, "Learn of Me." Let them make answer, "What do we learn of Thee?" For we must be going to hear I know not what from the Great Artificer, when He saith, "Learn of Me." Who is it that saith, "Learn of Me"? He who formed the earth, who divided the sea and the dry land, who created the fowls, who created the animals of the earth, who created all things that swim, who set the stars in the heaven, who distinguished the day and the night, who established the firmament, who separated the light from the darkness, He it is who saith, "Learn of Me." Is He haply about to tell us this, that we should do these things with Him? Who can do this? God Only doeth them. "Fear not," He saith, "I am not laying any burden on thee. `Learn of Me,' this which for thy sake I was made. `Learn of Me,'" saith He, "not to form the creature which by Me was made. Neither do I tell you indeed, to learn those things which I have granted to some, to whom I would, not to all, to raise the dead, to give sight to the blind, to open the ears of the deaf; nor to wish as for some great thing to learn these things of Me." The disciples returned with joy and exultation, saying, "Lo, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name." [4222] And the Lord said to them, "In this rejoice not, that the devils are subject unto you; rejoice rather, because your names are written in heaven." [4223] To whom He would, He gave the power to cast out devils, to whom He would, He gave the power to raise the dead. Such miracles were done even before the Incarnation of the Lord; the dead were raised, lepers were cleansed; [4224] we read of these things. And who did them then, but He who in after time was the Man-Christ after David, but God-Christ before Abraham? He gave the power for all these things, He did them Himself by men; yet gave He not that power to all. Ought they to whom He gave it not to despair, and say that they have no part in Him because they have not been thought [4225] worthy to receive these gifts? In the body are divers members: this member can do one thing, that another. God hath compacted the body together, He hath not given to the ear to see, nor to the eye to hear, nor to the forehead to smell, nor to the hand to taste; He hath not given them these functions; but to all the members hath He given soundness, hath given union, hath given unity, hath by His Spirit quickened and united all alike. And so here He hath not given to some to raise the dead, to others He hath not given the power of disputation; yet to all what hath He given? "Learn of Me, that I am meek and lowly in heart." Forasmuch as we have heard Him say, "I am meek and lowly in heart;" here, my Brethren, is our whole remedy, "Learn of Me, that I am meek and lowly in heart." What doth it profit a man if he do miracles, and is proud, is not meek and lowly in heart? Will he not be reckoned in the number of those who shall come at the last day, and say, "Have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name have done many mighty works?" [4226] But what shall they hear? "I know you not, Depart from Me, all ye that work iniquity." [4227]

8. What then doth it profit us to learn? "That I am meek," saith He, "and lowly in heart." He engrafteth charity, and that most genuine charity, without confusion, without inflation, without elation, without deceit; this doth He engraft, who saith, "Learn of Me, that I am meek and lowly in heart." How can one proud and puffed up have any genuine [4228] charity? He must needs be envious. And mayhap one who is envious, loves, and we are mistaken? God forbid that any one should be so mistaken, as to say that an envious man hath charity. And so what saith the Apostle? "Charity envieth not." Why doth it not envy? "It is not puffed up;" [4229] he immediately annexed the cause for which he took away envying from charity. Because it is not puffed up, it envieth not. It is true, he said first, "Charity envieth not;" but as though thou didst ask, "Why doth it not envy?" he added, "It is not puffed up. If then it envieth because it is puffed up; if it be not puffed up, it envieth not. If charity is not puffed up, and therefore envieth not; then doth He engraft charity who saith, "Learn of Me, that I am meek and lowly in heart." [4230]

9. Let any man have then what he will, let him boast himself of what he will. "If I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, but, have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." What is more sublime than the gift of divers tongues? It is "brass," it is "a tinkling cymbal," if thou take charity away. Hear other gifts; "If I should know all mysteries." [4231] What more excellent? what more magnificent? Hear yet another; "if I should have all prophecy, and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing." [4232] He comes to still greater things, Brethren. What else has he said? "If I should distribute all my goods to the poor." What more perfect thing can be done? When indeed the Lord commanded the rich man this for perfection's sake, saying, "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor." [4233] Was he then at once perfect, because he sold all his goods and gave them to the poor? No; and therefore He added, "And come, follow Me." "Sell all," saith He, "give to the poor, and come, follow Me." "Why should I follow Thee? Now that I have sold all, and distributed to the poor, am I not perfect? What need is there that I should follow Thee?" "Follow Me," that thou mayest learn that "I am meek and lowly in heart." For what? can any man sell all he hath, and give to the poor, who is not yet meek, not yet lowly in heart? Assuredly he can. "For if I should distribute all my goods to the poor." And hear still further. For some, who had left all they had and had already followed the Lord, but not yet followed Him perfectly (for to follow Him perfectly is to imitate Him), could not bear the trial of suffering. Peter, Brethren, was already one of those who had left all and followed the Lord. For as that rich man went away in sadness, when the disciples bring troubled, asked how then any one could be perfect, and the Lord consoled them, they said to the Lord, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" [4234] And the Lord told them what He would give them here, what He would reserve for them hereafter. Now Peter was already of the number of those who had so done. But when it came to the crisis [4235] of suffering, at the voice of a maid-servant he denied Him thrice with whom he had promised that he was ready to die.

10. Take good heed then, Beloved: "Go," saith He, "sell all that thou hast, give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me." Peter is perfect, now that the Lord sitteth in heaven at the right Hand of the Father, then did he attain perfection and maturity. For when he followed the Lord to His Passion, he was not perfect; but when there began to be no one on earth for him to follow, then was he perfected. But thou truly hast always One before thee to follow; the Lord hath set up an example on earth, when He left the Gospel with thee, in the Gospel He is with thee. For He did not speak falsely when He said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." [4236] Therefore follow the Lord. What is, "Follow the Lord"? Imitate the Lord. What is, "Imitate the Lord"? "Learn of Me, that I am meek and lowly in heart." Because if I should distribute all my goods to the poor, and give up my body to be burned, but not have charity, it profiteth me nothing. To this charity then I exhort your Charity; now I should not exhort to charity, but with some charity. I exhort then that what is commenced may be filled up; and pray that what is begun may be perfected. And I beg that ye would offer this prayer for me, that what I advise may be perfected in me also. For we are all now imperfect, and there shall we be perfected, where all things are perfect. The Apostle Paul says, "Brethren, I do not reckon myself to have apprehended." [4237] He says, "Not that I have already attained, either am already perfect." [4238] And shall any man dare to vaunt himself on perfection? Yea rather let us acknowledge our imperfection, that we may attain [4239] perfection.

Footnotes

[4201] John xiv. 6. [4202] Ps. cxxxix. 6, Sept. (cxl. 5, English version). [4203] Ecclus. ix. 13. [4204] Jas. iv. 4. [4205] Matt. vii. 3. [4206] Quæ ibat effusa redit confusa. [4207] Ps. lxxxii. 17, Sept. (lxxxiii. 16, English version). [4208] Ps. lxxvii. 39, Sept. (lxxviii. English version). [4209] Zech. i. 3. [4210] Tract. 2 in Evang. Joan. n. 8. [4211] Matt. vii. 13. [4212] Vexat. [4213] Certus. [4214] John xiv. 6. [4215] John x. 7. [4216] Matt. xi. 27. [4217] Rom. v. 6. [4218] Rom. viii. 32. [4219] Matt. xx. 22. [4220] Matt. xi. 27. [4221] Matt. xi. 28, 29. [4222] Luke x. 17. [4223] Luke x. 20. [4224] 2 Kings iv. and v. [4225] Meruerunt. [4226] Matt. vii. 22. [4227] Matt. vii. 23. [4228] Sincerissimam. [4229] 1 Cor. xiii. 4. [4230] Matt. xi. 29. [4231] Sacramenta. [4232] 1 Cor. xiii. 1, etc. [4233] Matt. xix. 21. [4234] Matt. xix. 27. [4235] Articulum. [4236] Matt. xxviii. 20. [4237] Phil. iii. 13. [4238] Phil. iii. 12. [4239] Mereamur. .


Sermon XCIII.

[CXLIII. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John xvi. 7, "I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away," etc.

1. The medicine for all the wounds of the soul, and the one propitiation for the offences of men, is to believe on Christ; nor can any one be cleansed at all, whether from original sin which he derived from Adam, [4240] in whom all men have sinned, and become by nature children of wrath; or from the sins which they have themselves added, by not resisting the concupiscence of the flesh, but by following and serving it in unclean and injurious deeds: unless by faith they are united and compacted into His Body, who was conceived without any enticement of the flesh and deadly pleasure, and whom His Mother nourished in her womb without sin, and "Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His Mouth." [4241] They verily who believe on Him, become the children of God; because they are born of God by the grace of adoption, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. Wherefore, dearly Beloved, it is with good reason that the same Lord and our Saviour mentions this one sin only, of which the Holy Ghost convinces the world, that it believeth not on Him. "I tell you the truth," He saith, "It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He shall come, He will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see Me no more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged." [4242]

2. Of this one only sin then He would have the world to be convinced, that they believe not on Him; to wit, because by believing on Him all sins are loosed, He would have this one imputed by which the rest are bound. And because by believing they are born of God, and become children of God; "For," saith he, "to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on Him." [4243] Whoso then believeth on the Son of God, in so far as he adhereth to Him, and becometh himself also by adoption a son and heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ, in so far he sinneth not. Whence John saith, "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not." [4244] And therefore the sin of which the world is convinced is this, that they believe not on Him. This is the sin of which He also saith, "If I had not come, they had not had sin." [4245] For what! had they not innumerable other sins? But by His coming this one sin was added to them that believed not, by which the rest should be retained. Whereas in them that believe, because this one was wanting, it was brought to pass that all should be remitted to them that believe. Nor is it with any other view that the Apostle Paul saith, "All have sinned, and have need of the glory of God; [4246] that "whosoever believeth on Him, should not be confounded;" [4247] as the Psalm also saith "Come ye unto Him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded." [4248] Whoso then glorieth in himself shall be confounded; for he shall not be found without sins. Accordingly he only shall not be confounded who glorieth in the Lord. "For all have sinned, and have need of the glory of God." And so when he was speaking of the infidelity of the Jews, he did not say, "For if some of them have sinned, shall their sin make the faith of God of none effect?" For how should he say, "If some of them have sinned;" when he said himself, "For all have sinned"? But he said, "If some of them believed not, shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect?" [4249] That he might point out more expressly this sin, by which alone the door is closed against the rest that they by the grace of God should not be remitted. Of which one sin by the coming of the Holy Ghost, that is by the gift of His grace, which is granted to the faithful, the world is convinced, in the Lord's words, "Of sin, because they believed not on Me."

3. Now there would be no great merit and glorious blessedness in believing, if the Lord had always appeared in His Risen Body to the eyes of men. The Holy Ghost then hath brought this great gift to them that should believe, that Him whom they should not see with the eyes of flesh, they might with a mind sobered from carnal desires, and inebriated with spiritual longings, sigh after. Whence it was that when that disciple who had said that he would not believe, unless he touched with the hands His Scars, after he had handled the Lord's Body, cried out as though awaking from sleep, "My Lord and my God;" the Lord said to him, "Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." [4250] This blessedness hath the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, brought to us, that the form of a servant which He took from the Virgin's womb, being removed from the eyes of flesh, the purified eye of the mind might be directed to This Form of God, in which He continued equal with the Father, even when He vouchsafed to appear in the Flesh; so as that with the Same Spirit filled the Apostle might say, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh; yet now we know Him so no longer." [4251] Because even the Flesh of Christ he knew not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, who, not by touching in curiosity, but in believing assured, acknowledgeth the power of His Resurrection; not saying in his heart, "Who hath ascended into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down; or, Who hath descended into the deep? that is, to bring back Christ from the dead." "But," saith he, "the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, that Jesus is the Lord; and if thou shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [4252] These, Brethren, are the words of the Apostle, pouring them forth with the holy inebriation of the Holy Ghost Himself.

4. Forasmuch then as we could in no way have had this blessedness by which we see not and yet believe, unless we received it of the Holy Ghost; it is with good reason said, "It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." [4253] By His Divinity indeed He is with us always; but unless He had in Body gone away from us, we had always seen His Body after the flesh. and never believed after a spiritual sort; by the which belief justified and blessed we might attain [4254] with cleansed hearts to contemplate the Very Word, God with God, "by whom all things were made," and "who was made Flesh, that He might dwell among us." And if not with the contact of the hand, but "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;" with good reason is the world, which will not believe save what it sees, convinced of our righteousness. Now that we might have that righteousness of faith of which the unbelieving world should be convinced, therefore said the Lord, "Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see Me no more." As if He had said, "This shall be your righteousness, that ye believe on Me, the Mediator, of whom ye shall be most fully assured that He is risen again and gone to the Father, though ye see Him not after the Flesh; that by Him reconciled, ye may be able to see God after the Spirit." Whence He saith to the woman who represents the Church, when she fell at His Feet after His Resurrection, "Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to the Father." [4255] Which expression is understood mystically, thus. "Believe not in Me after a carnal manner by means of bodily contact; but thou shalt believe after a spiritual manner; that is, with a spiritual faith shalt touch Me, when I shall have ascended to the Father." For, "blessed are they who do not see, and believe." And this is the righteousness of faith, of which the world, which hath it not, is convinced of us who are not without it; for "the just liveth by faith." [4256] Whether it be then that as rising again in Him, and in Him coming to the Father, we are invisibly and in justification perfected; or that as not seeing and yet believing we live by faith, for that "the just liveth by faith;" with these meanings said He, "Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see Me no more."

5. Nor let the world excuse itself by this, that it is hindered by the devil from believing on Christ. For to believers the prince of the world is cast out, [4257] that he work no more in the hearts of men whom Christ hath begun to possess by faith; as he worketh in the children of unbelief; [4258] whom he is constantly stirring up to tempt and disturb the righteous. For because he is cast out, who once had dominion interiorly he wageth war exteriorly. Although then by means of his persecutions, "the Lord doth direct the meek in judgment;" [4259] nevertheless in this very fact of his being cast out, is he "judged already." And of this, "judgment" is the world convinced; for in vain doth he who will not believe on Christ complain of the devil whom, judged, that is, cast out, and for the exercising of us allowed to attack us from without, not only men, but even women, and boys, and girls, Martyrs have overcome. Now in whom have they overcome, but in Him on whom they have believed, and whom seeing not, they loved, and by whose dominion in their hearts they have got rid of a most oppressive [4260] lord. And all this by grace, by the gift, that is, of the Holy Ghost. Rightly then doth the Same Spirit convince the world, both of "sin," because it believeth not on Christ; "and of righteousness," because they who have had the will have believed, though Him on whom they believed they saw not; and by His Resurrection have hoped that themselves also should be in the resurrection perfected; "and of judgment," because if they had had the will to believe, they could be hindered by none, "for that the prince of this world hath been judged already."

Footnotes

[4240] Ps. li. 5. [4241] 1 Pet. ii. 22. [4242] John xvi. 7-11. [4243] John i. 12. [4244] 1 John iii. 9. [4245] John xv. 22. [4246] Rom. iii. 23. [4247] Rom. ix. 33. [4248] Ps. xxxiii. 6, Sept. (xxxiv. 5, English version). [4249] Rom. iii. 3. [4250] John xx. 29. [4251] 2 Cor. v. 16. [4252] Rom. x. 6, etc. [4253] John xvi. 7. [4254] Mereremur. [4255] John xx. 17. [4256] Hab. ii. 4; Rom. i. 17. [4257] John xii. 31. [4258] Eph. ii. 2. [4259] Ps. xxv. 9. [4260] Pessimo. .


Sermon XCIV.

[CXLIV. Ben.]

On the same words of the Gospel, John xvi. 8, "He will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement."

1. When our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was speaking at length of the coming of the Holy Ghost, He said among the rest, "He shall convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." [4261] Nor when He had said this, did He pass on to another subject; but vouchsafed to convey a somewhat more explicit notice of this same truth. "Of sin," said He, "because they believed not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father. Of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged already." [4262] There arises therefore within us a desire of understanding, why as if it were men's only sin, not to believe on Christ, He said it of this alone, that the Holy Ghost should convince the world; but if it is plain that besides this unbelief there are manifold other sins of men, why of this alone should the Holy Ghost convince the world? Is it because all sins are by unbelief retained, by faith remitted; that therefore God imputeth this one above all the rest, by which it comes to pass that the rest are not loosed, so long as proud man believes not in an Humbled God? For so it is written; "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." [4263] Now this grace of God is a gift of God. But the greatest gift is the Holy Ghost Himself; and therefore is it called grace. For forasmuch "as all had sinned, and needed the glory of God; because by one man sin entered into the world, and death by his sin in whom all have sinned;" [4264] therefore is it grace because given gratuitously. And therefore is it given gratuitously, because it is not rendered as a reward after a strict scrutiny of deserts, but given as a gift after the pardon of sins.

2. Therefore of sin are unbelievers, that is, the lovers of the world, convinced; for they are signified by the name of the world. For when it is said, "He will convince the world of sin;" it is of none other sin than that they have not believed on Christ. For if this sin exist not, no sins will remain, because when the just man lives by faith, all are loosed. Now the difference is great as to whether one believe that Jesus is Christ, or whether he believe on Christ. For that Jesus is Christ even the devils believed, and yet the devils believed not on Christ. For he believeth on Christ, who both hopeth in Christ and loveth Christ. For if he have faith without hope and love, he believeth that Christ is, but he doth not believe on Christ. Whoso then believeth on Christ, by believing on Christ, Christ cometh unto him, and in a manner uniteth Himself to him, and he is made a member in His Body. Which cannot be, but by the accession of hope and love.

3. What mean again His words, "Of righteousness, because I go to the Father"? And first must we enquire, if the world is convinced of sin, why it is also of righteousness? For who can rightly be convinced of righteousness? Is it indeed that the world is convinced of its own sin, but of Christ's righteousness? I do not see what else can be understood; since He saith, "Of sin, because they believed not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father." They believed not, He goeth to the Father. Their sin therefore, and His righteousness. But why would He name righteousness in this only, that He goeth to the Father? Is it not righteousness also that He came hither from the Father? Or is that rather mercy, that He came from the Father to us, and righteousness, that He goeth to the Father?

4. So, Brethren, I think it expedient, that in so profound a depth of Scripture, in words, wherein peradventure there lies some hidden truth which may in due season be laid open, we should as it were together enquire faithfully, that we may attain [4265] to find healthfully. Why then doth He call this righteousness, in that He goeth to the Father, and not also in that He came from the Father? Is it that in that it is mercy that He came, therefore it is righteousness that He goeth? that so in our own case too we may learn that righteousness cannot be fulfilled in us, if we are slow to give a place first [4266] to mercy, "not seeking our own things, but the things of others also." Which advice when the Apostle had given, he immediately joined to it the example of our Lord Himself; "Doing nothing," saith he, "through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind, each esteeming the other better than themselves. Not looking every man on his own things, but also on the things of others." Then he added immediately, "Let this mind be in each of you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the Form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man; He humbled Himself, having become obedient even unto death, yea the death of the cross." [4267] This is the mercy whereby He came from the Father. What then is the righteousness whereby He goeth to the Father? He goes on and says; "Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the Glory of God the Father." This is the righteousness whereby He goeth to the Father.

5. But if He Alone goeth to the Father, what doth it profit us? Why is the world convinced by the Holy Ghost of this righteousness? And yet if He did not Alone go to the Father, He would not say in another place, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He That descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." [4268] But the Apostle Paul also says, "For our conversation is in heaven." [4269] And why is this? Because he also says, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Mind the things which are above, not those which are upon the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." [4270] How then is He Alone? Is He therefore Alone because Christ with all His members is One, as the Head with His Body? Now what is His Body, but the Church? As the same teacher says, "Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular." [4271] Forasmuch then as we have fallen, and He descended for our sakes, what is, "No man hath ascended, but He That descended;" but that no man hath ascended, except as made one with Him, and as a member fastened into His Body who descended? And thus He saith to His disciples, "Without Me ye can do nothing." [4272] For in one way is He One with the Father, and in another one with us. He is One with the Father, in that the Substance of the Father and the Son is One; He is One with the Father, in that, "Being in the Form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God." But He was made One with us, in that "He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant;" He was made one with us, according to the seed of Abraham, "in whom all nations shall be blessed." Which place when the Apostle had brought forward, he said, "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ." [4273] And for that we too belong to that which is Christ, by our incorporation together, and coherence to That Head, It is One Christ. And also for that he says to us too, "Therefore are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise." [4274] For if the seed of Abraham be One, and That One Seed of Abraham can only be understood of Christ; but this seed of Abraham we also are; therefore This Whole, that is, the Head and the Body, is One Christ.

6. And therefore we ought not to deem ourselves separated from that righteousness, which the Lord Himself makes mention of, saying, "Of righteousness, because I go to the Father." For we too have risen with Christ, and we are with Christ our Head, now for a while [4275] by faith and hope; but our hope will be completed in the last resurrection of the dead. But when our hope shall be completed, then shall our justification be completed also. And the Lord who was to complete it showed us in His Own Flesh (that is, in our Head), Wherein He rose again and ascended to the Father, what we ought to hope for. For that thus it is written, "He was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification." [4276] The world then is convinced "of sin" in those who believe not on Christ; "and of righteousness," in those who rise again in the members of Christ. Whence it is said, "That we may be the righteousness of God in him." [4277] For if not in Him, in no way righteousness. But if in Him, He goeth with us Whole to the Father, and this perfect righteousness will be fulfilled in us. And therefore "of judgment" too is the world convinced, "because the prince of this world hath been judged already;" that is, the devil, the prince of the unrighteous, who in heart inhabit only in this world which they love, and therefore are called "the world;" as our conversation is in heaven, if we have risen again with Christ. Therefore as Christ together with us, that is His Body, is One; so the devil with all the ungodly whose head he is, with as it were his own body, is one. Wherefore as we are not separated from the righteousness, of which the Lord said, "Because I go to the Father;" so the ungodly are not separated from that judgment, of which He said, "Because the prince of this world hath been judged already."

Footnotes

[4261] John xvi. 8. [4262] John xvi. 9-11. [4263] Prov. iii. 34; Jas. iv. 6. [4264] Rom. iii. 23, v. 12. [4265] Mereamur. [4266] Prærogare. [4267] Phil. ii. 3, etc. [4268] John iii. 13. [4269] Phil. iii. 20. [4270] Col. iii. 1-3. [4271] 1 Cor. xii. 27. [4272] John xv. 5. [4273] Gal. iii. 16. [4274] Gal. iii. 29. [4275] Interim. [4276] Rom. iv. 25. [4277] 2 Cor. v. 21. .


Sermon XCV.

[CXLV. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John xvi. 24, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name;" and on the words of Luke x. 17, "Lord, even the demons are subject unto us in thy name."

1. When the Holy Gospel was being read, we heard what in truth ought at once to put every earnest soul in motion to seek, not to faint. For whoso is not moved, is not changed. But there is a dangerous movement, of which it is written, "Suffer not my feet to be moved." [4278] But there is another movement of him who seeketh, knocketh, asketh. What then has been read we have all heard; but I suppose we have not all understood. It makes mention of that which together with me ye should seek, with me ask, for the receiving of which ye should with me knock. For as I hope the grace of the Lord will be with us, that whereas I wish to minister to you, I too may be thought [4279] worthy to receive. What is it, I pray you, that we have just heard that the Lord said to His disciples? "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name." [4280] Is He not speaking to those disciples, who, after He had sent them, having given them power to preach the Gospel, and to do mighty works, returned with joy, and said to Him, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name"? [4281] Ye recognise, ye recollect this which I have quoted from the Gospel, which in every passage and every sentence speaketh truth, nowhere false, nowhere deceiveth. How then is it true, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name"? and, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name"? Of a surety this puts the mind in motion to ascertain the secret of this difficulty. Therefore ask we, seek, knock. Be there in us faithful godliness, not a restlessness of the flesh, but a submission of the mind, that He who seeth us knocking may open unto us.

2. What the Lord then may give to be ministered unto you, do ye with earnest attention, that is, with hunger, receive; and when I shall have spoken it, ye will doubtless with sound taste [4282] approve what is placed before you out of the Lord's store. The Lord Jesus knew whereby the soul of man, that is, the rational mind, made after the image of God, could be satisfied: only, that is, by Himself. This He knew, and knew that it was as yet without that fulness. He knew that He was manifest, and He knew that He was hidden. He knew what in Him was exhibited, what concealed. He knew all this. "How great," says the Psalm, "is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden to them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that hope in Thee!" [4283] "Thy sweetness" both great and manifold "hast Thou hidden to them that fear Thee." If thou hidest it to them that fear Thee, to whom dost Thou open it? "Thou hast wrought it for them that hope in Thee." A twofold question has arisen, but either is solved by the other. If any one inquires after the other, what is this, "Thou hast hidden it to them that fear Thee; wrought it for them that hope in Thee"? Are they that fear, and they that hope, different? Do not the very same who fear God, hope in God? Who hopeth on Him who doth not fear Him? Who in a godly sort feareth Him, and hath not hope in Him? Let this then first be solved. Somewhat would I say concerning those who hope and those who fear.

3. The Law hath fear, Grace hope. But what difference is there between the Law and Grace, since the Giver both of the Law and Grace is One? The Law alarmeth him who relieth on himself, Grace assisteth him who trusteth in God. The Law, I say, alarmeth; do not make light of this because it is brief; weigh it well, and it is considerable. Look well at what I have said, take what we minister, prove wherefrom we take it. The Law alarmeth him who relieth on himself, Grace assisteth him who trusteth in God. What saith the Law? Many things: and who can enumerate them? I bring forward one small and short precept from it which the Apostle hath brought forward, a very small one; let us see who is sufficient [4284] for it. "Thou shalt not lust." [4285] What is this, Brethren? We have heard the Law; if there be no grace, thou hast heard thy punishment. Why dost thou boast to me whosoever thou art that hearing this dost rely upon thyself, why dost thou boast to me of innocence? Why dost thou flatter thyself thereupon? Thou canst say, "I have not plundered the goods of others;" I hear, I believe, perhaps I even see it, thou dost not plunder the goods of others. Thou hast heard, "Thou shalt not lust." "I do not go in to another man's wife;" this again I hear, believe, see. Thou hast heard, "Thou shalt not lust." Why dost thou inspect thyself all round without, and dost not inspect within? Look in, and thou wilt see another law in thy members. Look in, why dost thou pass over thyself? Descend into thine own self. Thou wilt "see another law in thy members resisting the law of thy mind, and bringing thee into captivity in the law of sin which is in thy members." [4286] With good reason then is the sweetness of God hidden to thee. The law placed in thy members, resisting the law of thy mind, bringeth thee into captivity. Of that sweetness which to thee is hidden, the holy Angels drink; thou canst not drink and taste that sweetness, captive as thou art. "Thou hadst not known concupiscence, unless the Law had said, Thou shalt not lust." Thou heardest, fearedst, didst try to fight, couldest not overcome. For "sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought death." Surely ye recognise them, they are the Apostle's words. "Sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." [4287] Why didst thou vaunt thyself in thy pride? Lo, with thine own arms hath the enemy conquered thee. Thou verily, didst look for a commandment as a defence: and, lo, by the commandment the enemy hath found an occasion of entering in. "For sin taking occasion by the commandment," he saith, "deceived me, and by it slew me." [4288] What means what I said, "With thine own arms hath the enemy conquered thee"? Hear the same Apostle going on, and saying; "Wherefore the Law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." [4289] Make answer now to the revilers [4290] of the Law: make answer on the Apostle's authority, "The commandment is holy, the Law holy, the commandment just and good. Was then that which is good, made death unto me? God forbid! But sin that it might appear sin, by that which is good wrought death in me." [4291] Why is this but because on receiving the commandment thou didst fear, not love? Thou fearedst punishment, thou didst not love righteousness. Whoso feareth punishment, wisheth, if it were possible, to do what pleaseth him, and not to have what he feareth. God forbiddeth adultery, thou hast coveted another's wife, thou dost not go in unto her, thou dost not do so, opportunity is given thee, thou hast time, a favourable place is open, witnesses are absent, yet thou dost not do it, wherefore? Because thou fearest the punishment. But no one will know it. Will not God know it? So it is clear, because God knoweth what thou art about to do, thou doest it not; but here thou fearest the threatenings of God, not lovest His commandments. Why dost thou not do it? Because if thou do, thou wilt be cast into hell fire. It is the fire thou fearest. O if thou didst love chastity, thou wouldest not do it, even though thou mightest be altogether unpunished. If God were to say to thee, "Lo, do it, I will not condemn thee, I will not condemn thee to hell fire, but I will withhold My Face from thee." If thou did it not because of this threat, it would be from the love of God that thou didst not do it, not from the fear of judgment. But thou wouldest do it, perhaps I mean thou wouldest do so; for it is not my place to judge. If thou do it not on this principle because thou abhorrest the contamination of adultery, because thou lovest His precepts, that thou mayest obtain [4292] His promises, and not because thou fearest His condemnation, it is the grace which maketh saints that aideth thee; it is all of grace, ascribe it not to thine own self, attribute it not to thine own strength. Thou actest from delight in it, well; thou actest in charity, well; I assent, I agree. Charity worketh by thee, when thou actest with thy will. At once dost thou taste sweetness, if thou hope on the Lord.

4. But whence hast thou this charity, if yet thou hast it? for I am afraid lest even yet it is through fear thou doest it not, and lest thou seem great in thine own eyes. Now if it is through charity that thou doest it not, thou art truly great. Hast thou charity? "I have," you say. Whence? "From myself." Far art thou from sweetness, if thou hast it from thine own self. Thou wilt love thine own self, because thou wilt love that from which thou hast it. But I will convict thee that thou hast it not. For in that thou dost think that thou hast so great a thing from thine own self, by that very fact I do not believe thou hast it. For if thou hadst, thou wouldest know from whence thou hadst it. Hast thou charity from thyself, as if it were some light, some little thing? "If thou shouldest speak with the tongues of men and Angels, but have not charity, thou wouldest be a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. If thou shouldest know all mysteries, and have all knowledge, and all prophecy, and all faith so that thou couldest remove mountains, but not have charity," these things could not profit thee. "If thou shouldest distribute all thy goods to the poor, and deliver up thy body to be burned, but not have charity, thou wouldest be nothing." [4293] How great is this charity, which if it be wanting, all things profit nothing! Compare it not to thy faith, not to thy knowledge, not to thy gift of tongues, [4294] to lesser things, to the eye of thy body, the hand, the foot, the belly, to any one lowest member compare charity, are these least things to be in any way compared to charity? So then the eye and nose thou hast from God, and hast thou charity from thine own self? If thou hast given thyself charity which surpasseth all things, thou hast made God of light account with thee. What more can God give thee? Whatever He may have given, is less. Charity which thou hast given thyself, surpasseth all things. But if thou hast it, thou hast not given it to thyself. "For what hast thou which thou hast not received?" [4295] Who gave to me, who gave to thee? God. Acknowledge Him in His gifts, that thou feel not His condemnation. By believing the Scriptures, God hath given thee charity, a great boon, charity, which surpasseth all things. God gave it thee, "because the charity of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts;" by thine own self, perhaps? God forbid; "by the Holy Ghost, who hath been given us." [4296]

5. Return with me to that captive, return with me to my proposition. "The Law alarmeth him that relieth on himself, grace assisteth him who trusteth in God." For look at that captive. "He seeth another law in his members resisting the law of his mind, and leading him captive in the law of sin, which is in his members." [4297] Lo, he is bound, lo, he is dragged along, lo, he is led captive, lo, he is subjected. What hath that profited him, "Thou shalt not lust"? He hath heard, "Thou shalt not lust;" that he might know his enemy, not that he might overcome him. "For he had not known concupiscence," that is, his enemy, "unless the Law had said, Thou shalt not lust." [4298] Now thou hast seen the enemy, fight, deliver thyself, make good thy liberty, let the suggestions of pleasure be kept down, unlawful delight be utterly destroyed. Arm thyself, thou hast the Law, march on, conquer if thou canst. For what good is it that through the little portion of God's grace thou hast already, thou "delightest in the Law of God after the inward man? But thou seest another law in thy members resisting the law of thy mind;" not "resisting" yet powerless for aught, but "leading thee captive in the law of sin." Behold, whence to thee who fearest that "plentifulness of sweetness is hidden!" to him that feareth it "is hidden," how is it" wrought" out for him that "trusteth"? [4299] Cry out under thine enemy, for that thou hast an assailant, thou hast an Helper too, who looketh upon thee as thou fightest, who helpeth thee in difficulty; but only if He find thee "trusting;" for the proud He hateth. What then wilt thou cry under this enemy? "Wretched man that I am!" [4300] Ye see it already, for ye have cried out. Be this your cry, when haply thou art distressed under the enemy, say ye, in your inmost heart say, in sound faith say, "Wretched man that I am!" Wretched that I am! "Therefore wretched," because "I." "Wretched man that I am," both because "I," and because "man." For "he is disquieted in vain." [4301] For though "man walketh in the Image;" [4302] yet, "wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Wilt thou thyself? where is thy strength, where is thy confidence? Of a surety thou both criest out, and art silent; silent, that is, from extolling thyself, not from calling upon God. Be silent, and cry out. For God Himself too is both silent, and crieth aloud; He is silent from judgment, He is not silent from precept; so be thou too silent from elation, not from invocation; lest God say to thee, "I have been silent, shall I be silent always?" [4303] Cry out therefore, "O wretched man that I am!" Acknowledge thyself conquered, put thine own strength to shame, and say, "Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" What did I say above? The Law alarmeth him that relieth upon himself. Behold, man relied upon himself, he attempted to fight, he could not get the better, he was conquered, prostrated, subjugated, led captive. He learnt to rely upon God, and it remaineth that him whom the Law alarmed while he relied upon himself, grace should assist now that he trusteth in God. In this confidence he saith, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord." [4304] Now see the sweetness, taste it, relish it; hear the Psalm, "Taste and see that the Lord is sweet." [4305] He hath become sweet to thee, for that He hath delivered thee. Thou wast bitter to thine own self, when thou didst rely upon thyself. Drink sweetness, receive the earnest of so great abundance.

6. The disciples then of the Lord Jesus Christ while yet under the Law had to be cleansed still, to be nourished still, to be corrected still, to be directed still. For they still had concupiscence; whereas the Law saith, "Thou shalt not lust." [4306] Without offence to those holy rams, the leaders of the flock, without offence to them I would say it, for I say the truth: the Gospel relates, that they contended which of them should be the greatest, and whilst the Lord was yet on earth, they were agitated by a dissension about pre-eminence. [4307] Whence was this, but from the old leaven? whence, but from the law in the members, resisting the law of the mind? They sought for eminence; yea, they desired it; they thought which should be the greatest; therefore is their pride put to shame by a little child. [4308] Jesus calleth unto him the age of humility to tame the swelling desire. With good reason then when they returned too, and said, "Lord, behold even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name." (It was for a nothing that they rejoiced; of what importance was it compared to that which God promised?) The Lord, the Good Master, quieting fear, and building up a firm support, said to them, "In this rejoice not that the devils are subject unto you." Why so? Because "many will come in My Name, saying, Behold, in Thy Name we have cast out devils; and I will say to them, I know you not. In this rejoice not, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven." [4309] Ye cannot yet be there, yet notwithstanding ye are already written there. Therefore "rejoice." So that place again, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name." [4310] For what ye have asked, in comparison with that which I am willing to give, is nothing. For what have ye asked in My Name? That the devils should be subject unto you? "In this rejoice not," that is, what ye have asked is nothing; for if it were anything, He would bid them rejoice. So then it was not absolutely nothing, but that it was little in comparison of that greatness of God's rewards. For the Apostle Paul was not really not anything; and yet in comparison of God, "Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth." [4311] And so I say to you, and I say to myself, both to myself and you I say, when we ask in Christ's Name for these temporal things. For ye have asked undoubtedly. For who doth not ask? One asketh for health, if he is sick; another asketh for deliverance, if he is in prison; another asketh for the port, if he is tossed about at sea; another asketh for victory, if he is in conflict with an enemy; and in the Name of Christ he asketh all, and what he asketh is nothing. What then must be asked for? "Ask in My Name." [4312] And He said not what, but by the very words we understand what we ought to ask. "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Ask, and ye shall receive, in My Name." But what? Not nothing; but what? "That your joy may be full;" that is, ask what may suffice you. For when thou askest for temporal things, thou askest for nothing. "Whoso shall drink of this water, shall thirst again." [4313] He letteth down the watering pot of desire into the well, he taketh up whereof to drink, only that he may thirst again. "Ask, that your joy may be full;" that is, that ye may be satisfied, not feel delight only for a time. Ask what may suffice you; speak Philip's language, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." [4314] The Lord saith to you, "Have I been so long time with you, and have ye not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also." [4315] Render then thanks to Christ, made weak for you that are weak, and make ready your desires [4316] for Christ's Divinity, to be satisfied therewith. Turn we to the Lord, etc.

Footnotes

[4278] Ps. lxvi. 9. [4279] Merear. [4280] John xvi. 24. [4281] Luke x. 17. [4282] Faucibus. [4283] Ps. xxx. 20, Sept. (xxxi. 19, English version). [4284] Supportat. [4285] Rom. vii. 7. [4286] Rom. vii. 23. [4287] Rom. vii. 8, 13. [4288] Rom. vii. 11. [4289] Rom. vii. 12. [4290] The Manichæans. [4291] Rom. vii. 13. [4292] Exigas. [4293] 1 Cor. xiii. 1. etc. [4294] Linguæ tuæ. [4295] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [4296] Rom. v. 5. [4297] Rom. vii. 23. [4298] Rom. vii. 7. [4299] Ps. xxx. 20, Sept. (xxxi. 19, English version). [4300] Rom. vii. 24. [4301] Ps. xxxviii. 7 (xxxix. 6, English version). [4302] i.e. of God. Vid. Enarrat. in Ps. xxxviii. [4303] Isa. xlii. 14, Sept. [4304] Rom. vii. 24, 25, Vulgate. [4305] Ps. xxxiv. 8, Vulgate. [4306] Exod. xx. 17. [4307] Luke xxii. 24. [4308] Matt. xviii. 2. [4309] Luke x. 20; Matt. vii. 22. [4310] John xvi. 24. [4311] 1 Cor. iii. 7. [4312] John xvi. 24. [4313] John iv. 13. [4314] John xiv. 8. [4315] John xiv. 9, Vulgate. [4316] Fauces. .


Sermon XCVI.

[CXLVI. Ben.]

On the words of the Gospel, John. xxi. 16, "Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?" etc.

1. Ye have observed, beloved, that in to-day's lesson it was said by the Lord to Peter in a question, "Lovest thou Me?" To whom he answered, "Thou knowest, Lord, that I love thee." This was done a second, and a third time; and at each several reply, the Lord said, "Feed My lambs." [4317] To Peter did Christ commend His lambs to be fed, who fed even Peter himself. For what could Peter do for the Lord, especially now that He had an Immortal Body, and was about to ascend into heaven? As though He had said to him, "`Lovest thou Me?' Herein show that thou lovest Me, `Feed my sheep.'" So then, Brethren, do ye with obedience hear that ye are Christ's sheep; seeing that we on our part with fear hear, Feed My sheep"? If we feed with fear, and fear for the sheep; these sheep how ought they to fear for themselves? Let then carefulness be our portion, obedience yours; pastoral watchfulness our portion, the humility of the flock yours. Although we too who seem to speak to you from a higher place, are with fear beneath your feet; forasmuch as we know how perilous an account must be rendered of this as it were exalted seat. Wherefore, dearly beloved, Catholic plants, Members of Christ, think What a Head ye have! Children of God, think What a Father ye have found. Christians, think What an Inheritance is promised you. Not such as on earth cannot be possessed by children, save when their parents are dead. For no one on earth possesses a father's inheritance, save when he is dead. But we whilst our Father liveth shall possess what He shall give; for that our Father cannot die. I add more, I say more, and say the truth; our Father will Himself be our Inheritance.

2. Live consistently, especially ye candidates of Christ, recently baptized, just regenerated, as I have admonished you before, so say I now, and give expression to my solicitude; for the present lesson of the Gospel hath forced upon me a greater fear: take heed to yourselves, do not imitate evil Christians. Say not I will do this, for many of the faithful do it. This is not to procure a defence for the soul; but to look out for companions unto hell. Grow ye in this floor of the Lord; herein ye will find good men to please you, if ye yourselves are good. For are ye our private property? Heretics and schismatics have made their own private property out of what they have stolen from the Lord, and would feed, not Christ's flocks, but their own against Christ. It is true indeed, they place His title on these their spoils, that their robberies may be as it were maintained by the title of His Power. What doeth Christ when such as these are converted, who have received the title of His Baptism out of the Church? He casteth out the spoiler, He doth not efface the title, and taketh possession of the house; because He hath found His title there. What need is there that He should change His Own Name? Do they take heed to what the Lord said to Peter, "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep"? Did He say to him, "Feed thy lambs;" or, "Feed thy sheep"? But for them who are shut out, what said He in the Song of Songs, unto the Church? The Spouse speaking to the Bride, saith, "If thou know not thyself, O thou fair one among women, go forth." [4318] As though He said, "I do not cast thee out, `go forth, if thou know not thyself, O thou fair one among women,' if thou know not thyself in the mirror of divine Scripture, if thou give not heed, O thou fair woman, to the mirror which with no false lustre deceiveth thee; if thou know not that of thee it is said, `Thy glory shall be above all earth;' [4319] that of thee it is said, `I will give thee nations for thine inheritance, and the limits of the earth for thy possession;' [4320] and other innumerable testimonies which set forth the Catholic Church. If then thou know not these, thou hast no part in Me, thou canst not make thyself My heir. `Go forth then in the footsteps of the flocks' not in the fellowship of the flock; and feed thy goats, not as it was said to Peter, `My sheep.'" To Peter it was said, "My sheep;" to schismatics it is said," thy goats." In the one place "sheep," in the other "goats;" in the one place "Mine," in the other "thine." Recollect the right Hand and the left of our Judge; recollect where the goats shall stand, and where the sheep; [4321] and it will be plain to you where is the right hand, where the left, the white and the black, the lightsome, and the darksome, the fair and the deformed, that which is about to receive the kingdom, and that which is to find everlasting punishment.

Footnotes

[4317] John xxi. 15. [4318] Cant. i. 8, Sept. [4319] Ps. lvii. 11. [4320] Ps. ii. 8. [4321] Matt. xxv. 33. .


Sermon XCVII.

[CXLVII. Ben.]

On the same words of the Gospel of John. xxi. 15, "Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?" etc.

1. Ye remember that the Apostle Peter, the first of all the Apostles, was disturbed at the Lord's Passion. Of his own self disturbed, but by Christ renewed. For he was first a bold presumer, and became afterwards a timid denier. He had promised that he would die for the Lord, when the Lord was first to die for him. When he said then, "I will be with Thee even unto death," and "I will lay down my life for Thee;" the Lord answered him, "Wilt thou lay down thy life for Me? Verily I say unto thee, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice." [4322] They came to the hour; and because that Christ was God, and Peter a man, the Scripture was fulfilled, "I said in my panic, Every man is a liar." [4323] And the Apostle says, "For God is true, and every man a liar." [4324] Christ true, Peter a liar.

2. But what now? The Lord asketh him as ye heard when the Gospel was being read, and saith to him, "Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these?" He answered and said, "Yea Lord Thou knowest that I love Thee." [4325] And again the Lord asked this question, and a third time He asked it. And when he asserted in reply his love, He commended to him the flock. For each several time the Lord Jesus said to Peter, as he said, "I love thee;" "Feed My lambs," feed My "little sheep." In this one Peter was figured the unity of all pastors, of good pastors, that is, who know that they feed Christ's sheep for Christ, not for themselves. Was Peter at this time a liar, or did he answer untruly that he loved the Lord? He made this answer truly; for he made answer of that which he saw in his own heart. Whereas when he said, "I will lay down my life for Thee," he would presume on future strength. Now every man knows it may be what sort of man he is at the time when he is speaking; what he shall be on the morrow, who knows? So then Peter turned back his eyes to his own heart, when he was asked by the Lord, and in confidence made answer of what he saw there: "`Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.' What I tell Thee, Thou knowest; what I see here in my heart, Thou seest also." Nevertheless, he did not venture to say what the Lord had asked. For the Lord had not simply said, "Lovest Thou me?" but had added, "Lovest thou Me more than these?" that is, "Lovest thou Me more than these here do?" He was speaking of the other disciples; Peter could not say ought but, "I love Thee;" he did not venture to say, "more than these." He would not be a liar a second time. It were enough for him to bear testimony to his own heart; it was no duty of his to be judge of the heart of others.

3. Peter then was true; or rather was Christ true in Peter? Now when the Lord Jesus Christ would, He abandoned Peter, and Peter was found a man; but when it so pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, He filled Peter, and Peter was found true. The Rock (Petra) made Peter true, for the Rock was Christ. And what did He announce to him, when he answered a third time that he loved Christ, and a third time the Lord commended His little sheep to Peter? He announced to him beforehand his suffering. "When thou wast young," saith He, "thou girdedst thyself, and wentest whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." [4326] The Evangelist hath explained to us Christ's meaning. "This spake He," saith he, "signifying by what death he should glorify God;" [4327] that is that he was crucified for Christ; for this is, "Thou shalt stretch forth thine hands." Where now is that denier? Then after this the Lord Christ said, "Follow Me." Not in the same sense as before, when he called the disciples. For then too He said, "Follow Me;" but then to instruction, now to a crown. Was he not afraid to be put to death when he denied Christ? He was afraid to suffer that which Christ suffered. But now he must be afraid no more. For he saw Him now Alive in the Flesh, whom he had seen hanging on the Tree. By His Resurrection Christ took away the fear of death; and forasmuch as He had taken away the fear of death, with good reason did He enquire of Peter's love. Fear had thrice denied, love thrice confessed. The [4328] threefoldness of denial, the forsaking of the Truth; the threefoldness of confession, the testimony of love.

Footnotes

[4322] Matt. xxvi. 34; Luke xxii. 33; John xiii. 37, 38. [4323] Ps. cxvi. 11. [4324] Rom. iii. 4. [4325] John xxi. 15. [4326] John xxi. 18. [4327] John xxi. 19. [4328] Trinitas.


Also, see links to 600+ other Augustine Manuscripts:
/believe/txv/earlyche.htm
/believe/txv/earlychf.htm
/believe/txv/earlychg.htm
/believe/txv/earlychh.htm
/believe/txv/earlychi.htm
/believe/txv/earlychj.htm
/believe/txv/earlychk.htm
/believe/txv/earlychl.htm
/believe/txv/earlychm.htm
/believe/txv/earlychn.htm



E-mail to: BELIEVE




The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html