Writings of Augustine. On the Gospel According to St. John.

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St. Augustin:

Lectures or Tractates

On the Gospel According to St. John.

Translated by Rev. John Gibb, D.D., Professor in the Presbyterian Theological College at London

Published for Dr. Dods, by T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1873.

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Tractate VII.

Chapter I. 34-51

1. We rejoice at your numbers, for you have come together with readiness and in greater numbers than we could have hoped. This it is that delights and consoles us in all the labors and dangers of this life, your love towards God, and pious zeal, and assured hope, and fervor of spirit. You heard when the psalm was read, "that the needy and poor man cries to God in this world." [145] For it is the voice, as you have often heard, and ought to remember, not of one man, and yet of one man; not of one, because the faithful are many--many grains groaning amid the chaff diffused throughout the whole world--but of one, because all are members of Christ, and thus one body. This people, then, poor and needy, does not know to rejoice with the world: its grief is within, and its joy is within, where no one sees but He who listens to him who groans, and crowns him who hopes. The rejoicing of the world is vanity. With great expectation is it hoped for and it cannot, when it comes, be held fast. For this day which is a day of rejoicing in this city to the lost, to-morrow will, of course, cease to be; nor will they themselves be the same tomorrow that they are to-day. And all things pass away, fly away, and vanish like smoke; and woe to those who love such things! For every soul follows what it loves. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of the Lord abideth forever." [146] Behold what thou must love if thou dost desire to abide for ever. But thou hadst this to reply: How can I apprehend the word of God? "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." [147]

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2. Wherefore, beloved, let it belong to our neediness and poverty to grieve for those who seem to themselves to abound. For their joy is as that of madmen. But as a madman rejoices for the most part in his madness, and laughs, and grieves over him who is in his senses, so let us, beloved, if we have received the medicine coming from heaven, because we all were madmen, as if made whole, because those things which we did love we do not love,--let us, I say, groan unto God for those who are yet in madness, for He is able to save them also. And there is need that they should look upon themselves and be displeased with themselves: to behold they desire, and to behold themselves they have not known. For if they for a little turn their eyes upon themselves, they see their own confusion. But until this take place, let our pursuits be different, let the recreations of our souls be different; our grief avails more than their joy. As far as regards the number of the brethren, it is difficult to conceive that any one of the men should have been carried away by that celebration; but as regards the number of the sisters, it grieves us, and this is a greater cause for grief, that they do not rather repair to the Church, whom if not fear, modesty at all events ought to deter from the public scene. May He see to this who sees it; and may His mercy be present to heal all. Let us who have come together feed upon the feast of God, and let our joy be His word. For He has invited us to His gospel, and He is our food, than whom nothing is sweeter, if only a man have a healthy palate in his heart.

3. But I imagine, beloved brethren, that you remember that this Gospel is read in order in suitable portions; and I think that it has not escaped you what has lately been treated of, specially the recent matters concerning John and the dove. Concerning John, namely, what new thing he learned concerning the Lord by means of the dove, although he had already known the Lord. And this was discovered by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, that John indeed already knew the Lord, but that the Lord Himself was to baptize, that the power of baptizing He would not transfer from Himself to any one, this he learned by means of the dove, because it was said to him, "On whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending as a dove, and abiding upon Him, this is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." [148] What is "This is He"? Not another, although by means of another. But why by means of a dove? Many things were said, and I am not able, nor is there need that I should go over all;--principally, however, to denote peace, because also the trees which were baptized outside, because the dove found in them fruit, it brought to the ark, as you remember the dove sent out by Noah from the ark, which floated on the flood and was washed by baptism, was not submerged. When, then, it was sent forth, it brought an olive branch; but it had not leaves alone, it had also fruit. [149] This, then, we ought to wish for our brethren who are baptized outside, that they may have fruit; the dove will not permit them to remain outside, but bring them back to the ark. For the whole of fruit is charity, without which a man is nothing, whatever else he have. And this, which is most fully said by the apostle, we have mentioned and recounted. For he says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal; and though I should have all knowledge, and know all mysteries, and have all prophecy, and should have all faith" (but in what sense did he say all faith?), "so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I should distribute all my goods to the poor, and though I should give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." [150] But in no manner are they able to say that they have charity who divide unity. These things were said: let us see what follows.

4. John bare record because he saw. What record did he bear? "That this is the Son of God." It behoved, then, that He should baptize who is God's only Son, not His adopted son. Adopted sons are the ministers of the only Son: the only Son has power; the adopted, the ministry. In the case that a minister baptizes who does not belong to the number of sons, because he lives evilly and acts evilly, what is our consolation? "This is He which baptizeth."

5. "The next day, John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" Assuredly, in a special sense, the Lamb; for the disciples were also called lambs: "Behold, I send you as lambs in the midst of wolves." [151] They were also called light: "Ye are the light of the world;" [152] but in another sense is He called so, concerning whom it was said, "That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." [153] In like manner was He called the dove in a special sense, alone without stain, without sin; not one whose sins have been washed away, but One who never had stain. For what? Because John said concerning the Lord, "Behold the Lamb of God," was not John himself a lamb? Was he not a holy man? Was he not the friend of the Bridegroom? Wherefore, with a special meaning, said John of Him, "This is the Lamb of God;" because solely by the blood of this Lamb alone could men be redeemed.

6. My brethren, if we acknowledge our price, that it is the blood of the Lamb, who are they who this day celebrate the festival of the blood of I know not what woman, and how ungrateful are they! The gold was snatched, they say, from the ear of a woman, and the blood ran, and the gold was placed on a pair of scales or on a balance, and the advantage was much on the side of the blood. If the blood of a woman was sufficiently weighty to outweigh the gold, what power to outweigh the world has the blood of the Lamb by whom the world was made? And, indeed, that spirit, I know not who, was pacified by the blood that he should depress the weight. Impure spirits knew that Jesus Christ would come, they had heard of His coming from the angels, they had heard of it from the prophets, and they expected it. For if they were not expecting it, why did they exclaim, "What have we to do with Thee? art Thou come before the time to destroy us? We know who Thou art; the Holy One of God." [154] They expected that He would come, but they were ignorant of the time. But what have you heard in the psalm regarding Jerusalem? "For Thy servants have taken pleasure in her stones, and will pity the dust thereof. Thou shall arise," says he, "and have mercy upon Zion: for the time is come that Thou wilt have mercy upon her." [155] When the time came for God to have mercy, the Lamb came. What sort of a Lamb whom wolves fear? What sort of a Lamb is it who, when slain, slew a lion? For the devil is called a lion, going about and roaring, seeking whom he may devour. [156] By the blood of the Lamb the lion was vanquished. Behold the spectacles of Christians. And what is more: they with the eyes of the flesh behold vanity, we with the eyes of the heart behold truth. Do not think, brethren, that our Lord God has dismissed us without spectacles; for if there are no spectacles, why have ye come together to-day? Behold, what we have said you saw, and you exclaimed; you would not have exclaimed if you had not seen. And this is a great thing to see in the whole world, the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb: members of Christ delivered from the teeth of the lions, and joined to the body of Christ. Therefore some spirit or other contrived the counterfeit that His image should be bought for blood, because he knew that the human race was at some time to be redeemed by the precious blood. For evil spirits counterfeit certain shadows of honor to themselves, that they may deceive those who follow Christ. So much so, my brethren, that those who seduce by means of amulets, by incantations, by the devices of the enemy, mingle the name of Christ with their incantations: because they are not now able to seduce Christians, so as to give them poison they add some honey, that by means of the sweet the bitter may be concealed, and be drunk to ruin. So much so, that I know that the priest of that Pilleatus was sometimes in the habit of saying, Pilleatus himself also is a Christian. Why so, brethren, unless that they were not able otherwise to seduce Christians?

7. Do not, then, seek Christ elsewhere than where Christ wished Himself to be preached to you; and as He wished Himself to be preached to you, in that fashion hold Him fast, in that manner write Him on your heart. It is a wall against all the assaults, and against all the snares of the enemy. Do not fear, he does not tempt unless he has been permitted; it is certain that he does nothing unless permitted or sent. He is sent as an evil angel by a power holding him in control: he is permitted when he asks anything; and this, brethren, does not take place unless that the just may be tried, the unjust punished. Why, then, dost thou fear? Walk in the Lord thy God; be thou assured, what He does not wish thee to suffer thou dost not suffer; what He permits thee to suffer is the scourge of one correcting, not the punishment of one condemning. We are being educated for an eternal inheritance, and do we spurn to be scourged? My brethren, if a boy were to refuse the punishment of cuffs or stripes from his father, would he not be called proud, incorrigible, ungrateful towards paternal discipline? And for what does an earthly father educate his son? That he may not lose the temporal things which he has acquired for him, which he has collected for him, which he does not wish him to lose, which he who leaves them cannot retain eternally. He does not teach a son with whom he is to possess, but one who is to possess after him. My brethren, if a father teaches a son who is to succeed him, and teaches him also that he will have to pass through all these things, in same way as he who is admonishing him is destined to pass through them, how do you wish that He educate us, our Father to whom we are not to succeed, but to whom we are to approach, and with whom we are to abide eternally in an inheritance which does not decay nor die, and which no storms can desolate? He is Himself both the inheritance and the Father. Shall we possess Him, and ought we not to undergo training? Let us hear the instruction of the Father. When our head aches, let us not have recourse to the superstitious intercessor, to the diviners and remedies of vanity. My brethren, shall I not mourn over you? Daily do I find these things; and what shall I do? Not yet have I persuaded Christians that their hope ought to be placed in God. Behold, if one dies to whom one of these remedies has been given (and how many have died with remedies, and how many have lived without them!), with what confidence does the spirit go forth to God? He has lost the sign of Christ, and has received the sign of the devil. Perhaps he may say that he has not lost the sign of Christ. Thou canst have, then, the sign of Christ along with the sign of the devil. Christ does not desire community of ownership, but He desires to possess alone what He has purchased. He has bought at so great a price that He may possess alone: thou makest Him the partner of that devil to whom thou didst sell thyself by thy sin. "Woe to the double-hearted," [157] to those who in their hearts give part to God and part to the devil. God, being angry that the devil has part there, departs, and the devil will possess the whole. Not in vain, therefore, says the apostle, "Neither give place to the devil." [158] Let us know the Lamb, then, brethren; let us know our price.

8. "John stood, and two of his disciples." Behold two of John's disciples: since John, the friend of the Bridegroom, was such as he was, he sought not his own glory, but bore witness to the truth. Did he wish that his disciples should remain with him and not follow the Lord? Rather he himself showed hisdisciples whom they should follow. For they accounted of him as though he were the lamb; and he said, "Why do you give heed to me? I am not the lamb; behold the Lamb of God," of whom also he had already said, Behold the Lamb of God. And what benefit does the Lamb of God confer upon us? "Behold," he says, "who taketh away the sin of the world." The two who were with John followed Him when they heard this.

9. Let us see what follows: "Behold the Lamb of God." This John said, and the two disciples heard him speak, and followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and saith unto them, "What seek ye?" And they said, "Rabbi (that is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest Thou?" They did not follow Him in such manner as that they should cleave to Him; for it is plain when they clave unto Him, for He called them from the ship. For one of the two was Andrew, as you have just heard, and Andrew was the brother of Peter; and we know from the Gospel that the Lord called Peter and Andrew from the ship, saying, "Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men." [159] And from that time they clave unto Him, so as not to go away. On the present occasion these two followed Him, not as those who were not again to leave Him, but to see where He dwelt, and to fulfill the Scripture: "Let thy foot wear out the threshold of His doors; arise to come to Him continually, and be instructed in His precepts." [160] He showed them where He dwelt: they came and remained with Him. What a blessed day they spent, what a blessed night! Who can make known to us those things which they heard from the Lord? Let us also build in our heart, and make a house into which He may come and teach us, and have converse with us.

10. "What seek ye?" They said unto Him, "Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest Thou? He says to them, Come and see. And they came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: and it was about the tenth hour." Do we think that it did in no wise pertain to the evangelist to tell us what hour it was? Is it possible that he wished us to give heed to nothing in that, to inquire after nothing? It was the tenth hour. That number signifies the law, because the law was given in ten commandments. But the time had come for the law to be fulfilled by love, because it could not be fulfilled by the Jews by fear. Hence the Lord says, "I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill." [161] Suitably, then, at the tenth hour did these two follow Him, at the testimony of the friend of the Bridegroom, and that He at the tenth hour heard "Rabbi (which is interpreted, Master)." If at the tenth hour the Lord heard Rabbi, and the tenth number pertains to the law, the master of the law is no other than the giver of the law. Let no one say that one gave the law, and that another teaches the law: for the same teaches it who gave it; He is the Master of His own law, and teaches it. And mercy is in His tongue, therefore mercifully teacheth He the law, as it is said regarding wisdom, "The law and mercy doth she carry in her tongue." [162] Do not fear that thou art not able to fulfill the law, flee to mercy. If thou canst not fulfill the law, make use of that covenant, make use of the bond, make use of the prayers which the heavenly One, skilled in the law, has ordained and composed for you.

11. For those who have a cause, and wish to supplicate the emperor, seek for some one skilled in the law, and trained in the schools, to compose their petition for them; lest perchance, if they ask in an unbecoming manner, they not only do not obtain what they seek, but get punishment instead of a benefit. When, therefore, the apostles sought to petition, and could not find how to approach the Emperor God, they said unto Christ, "Lord, teach us to pray;" that is to say, "O thou who art our skilled One in the law, our Assessor, yea, the Concessor of God, compose for us prayers." And the Lord taught them from the book of the celestial law, taught them how to pray; and in that which He taught, He laid down a certain condition: "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." [163] If thou seekest not according to the law, thou becomest guilty. Dost thou not tremble before the Emperor, having become guilty? Offer the sacrifice of humility, offer the sacrifice of mercy; pray, saying, Forgive me, for I also forgive. But if thou sayest, do. For what wilt thou do? whither wilt thou go if thou hast lied in thy prayers? Not as it is said in the forum, thou shalt lose the benefit of the rescript; but thou shall not obtain a rescript. For it is the law of the forum that he who shall have lied in his petition shall derive no benefit from that which he has obtained. But this among men, because a man can be deceived: the emperor might have been deceived, when thou didst address to him thy petition; for thou saidest what thou wouldest, and he to whom thou didst speak knew not whether it was true or false; he sent thee away to thy adversary to be confuted if possible, so that if before the judge thou shouldest be convicted of falsehood (because he was not able not to grant the rescript, not knowing whether thou hadst lied), thou shouldest lose the benefit of the rescript, in the place to which thou hadst taken it. But God, who knows whether thou liest or speakest the truth, does not cause thee to lose in the judgment the benefit, but does not permit thee to obtain it, because thou hast dared to lie to the Truth.

12. What, then, wilt thou do? Tell me. To fulfill the law in every part, so as to offend in nothing, is difficult: the condition of guilt is therefore certain; wilt thou refuse to use the remedy? Behold, my brethren, what a remedy the Lord hath provided for the sicknesses of the soul! What then? When thy head aches, we praise thee if thou placest the gospel at thy head, instead of having recourse to an amulet. For so far has human weakness proceeded, and so lamentable is the estate of those who have recourse to amulets, that we rejoice when we see a man who is upon his bed, and tossed about with fevers and pains, placing his hope on nothing else than that the gospel lies at his head; not because it is done for this purpose, but because the gospel is preferred to amulets. If, then, it is placed at the head to allay the pain of the head, is it not placed at the heart to heal it from sin? Let it be done then. Let what be done? Let it be placed at the heart, let the heart be healed. It is well,--well that thou shouldest have no further care regarding the safety of the body, than to ask it from God. If He knows that it will do thee good, He will give it thee; if He give it not to thee, it would not have profited thee to have it. How many are sick in bed, and for that reason are innocent! for if they were to recover, they would go forth to commit acts of wickedness. To how many is health an injury! The robber who goes forth to the narrow path to slay a man, how much better for him would it have been to have been sick! And he who rises by night to dig through his neighbor's wall, how much better for him to be tossed by fever! If he were ill, he would have been comparatively innocent; being well, he is guilty of wickedness. It is known, then, to God what is expedient for us: let us make this only our endeavor, that our hearts be whole from sins; and when it happens that we are scourged in the body, let us pray to Him for relief. The Apostle Paul besought Him that He would take away the thorn in his flesh, and He would not. Was he disturbed? Was he filled with sadness, and did he speak of himself as deserted? Rather did he say that he was not deserted, because that was not taken away which he desired to be taken away, to the end that infirmity might be cured. For this he found in the voice of the Physician, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." [164] Whence knowest thou, then, that God does not wish to heal thee? As yet it is expedient for thee to be scourged. Whence knowest thou how diseased that is which the physician cuts, using his knife on the diseased parts? Does he not know the measure, what he is to do, and how far he is to do it? Does the shrieking of him he cuts restrain the hands of the physician cutting according to his art? The one cries, the other cuts. Is he cruel who does not listen to the man crying out, or is he not rather merciful in following the wound, that he may heal the sick man? These things have I said, my brethren, in order that no one seek any other aid than that of God, when we happen to be under the reproof of God. See that ye perish not; see that ye do not depart from the Lamb, and be devoured by the lion.

13. We have declared, then, why it was at the tenth hour. Let us see what follows: "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." Messias, in Hebrew; Christ, in Greek; in Latin, Anointed. Chrisma is anointing in Greek; Christ, therefore, is the Anointed. He is peculiarly anointed, pre-eminently anointed; wherewith all Christians are anointed, He is pre-eminently anointed. Hear how He speaks in the psalm: "Wherefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." For all the holy ones are His fellows, but He in a peculiar sense is the Holy of Holies, peculiarly anointed, peculiarly Christ.

14. "And he brought him to Jesus; and when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Joannes: thou shall be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, Peter." It is not a great thing that the Lord said whose son Peter was. What is great to the Lord? He knew all the names of His own saints, whom He predestinated before the foundation of the world; and dost thou wonder that He said to one man, Thou art the son of this man, and thou shall be called this or that? Is it a great matter that He changed his name, and converted it from Simon to Peter? Peter is from petra, a rock, but the petra [rock]; is the Church; in the name of Peter, then, was the Church figured. And who is safe, unless he who builds upon the rock? And what saith the Lord Himself? "He that heareth these my words, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man building his house upon a rock" (he doth not yield to temptation). "The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth my words, and doeth them not" (now let each one of us fear and beware), "I will liken him to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." [165] What profit is it to enter the Church for him who builds upon the sand? For, by hearing and not doing, he builds indeed, but on the sand. For if he hears nothing, he builds nothing; but if he hears, he builds. But we ask, Where? For if he hears and does, he builds upon the rock; if he hears and does not, he builds upon the sand. There are two kinds of builders, those building upon the rock, and those building upon the sand. What, then, are those who do not hear? Are they safe? Does He say that they are safe because they do not build? They are naked beneath the rains, before the winds, before the floods; when these come, they carry away those persons before they overthrow the houses. It is then the only security, both to build, and to build upon the rock. If thou wilt hear and do not, thou buildest; but thou buildest a ruin: and when temptation comes it overthrows the house, and carries away thee with the ruin. But if thou dost not hear, thou art naked; thou thyself art dragged away by those temptations. Hear, then, and do; it is the only remedy. How many, perchance, on this day, by hearing and not doing, are hurried away on the stream of this festival! For, through hearing and not doing, the flood cometh, this annual festival; the torrent is filled, it will pass away and become dry, but woe to him whom it shall carry away! Know this, then, beloved, that unless a man hears and does, he builds not upon the rock, and he does not belong to that great name which the Lord so commended. For He has called thy attention. For if Simon had been called Peter before, thou wouldest not have so clearly seen the mystery of the rock, and thou wouldest have thought that he was called so by chance, not by the providence of God; therefore God willed that he should be called first something else, that by the very change of name the reality of the sacrament might be commended to our notice.

15. "And the day following He would go forth into Galilee, and finding Philip, He saith unto him, Follow me. Now he was of the city of Andrew and Peter. And Philip findeth Nathanael" (Philip who had been already called by the Lord); "and he said unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus, the son of Joseph." He was called the son of that man to whom His mother had been espoused. For that He was conceived and born while she was still a virgin, all Christians know well from the Gospel. This Philip said to Nathanael, and he added the place, "from Nazareth." And Nathanael said unto him, "From Nazareth something good can come." What is the meaning, brethren? Not as some read, for it is likewise wont to be read, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" For the words of Philip follow, who says, "Come and see." But the words of Philip can suitably follow both readings, whether you read it thus, as confirming, "From Nazareth something good can come," to which Philip replies, "Come and see;" or whether as doubting, and making the whole a question, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Come and see." Since then, whether read in this manner or in that, the words following are not incompatible, it is for us to inquire which of the two interpretations we shall adopt.

16. What sort of a man this Nathanael was, we prove by the words which follow. Hear what sort of a man he was; the Lord Himself bears testimony. Great is the Lord, known by the testimony of John; blessed Nathanael, known by the testimony of the truth. Because the Lord, although He had not been commended by the testimony of John, Himself to Himself bore testimony, because the truth is sufficient for its own testimony. But because men were not able to receive the truth, they sought the truth by means of a lamp, and therefore John was sent to show them the Lord. Hear the Lord bearing testimony to Nathanael: "Nathanael said unto him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip says to him, Come and see. And Jesus sees Nathanael coming to Him, and says concerning him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Great testimony! Not of Andrew, nor of Peter, nor of Philip was that said which was said of Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."

17. What do we then, brethren? Ought this man to be the first among the apostles? Not only is Nathanael not found as first among the apostles, but he is neither the middle nor the last among the twelve, although the Son of God bore such testimony to him, saying, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Is the reason asked for? In so far as the Lord intimates, we find a probable reason. For we ought to understand that Nathanael was learned and skilled in the law and for that reason was the Lord unwilling to place him among His disciples, because He chose unlearned persons, that He might by them confound the world. Listen to the apostle speaking these things: "For ye see," saith he, "your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, as though they were things that are, to bring to nought things that are." [166] If a learned man had been chosen, perhaps he would have said that he was chosen for the reason that his learning made him worthy of choice. Our Lord Jesus Christ, wishing to break the necks of the proud, did not seek the orator by means of the fisherman, but by the fisherman He gained the emperor. Great was Cyprian as an orator, but before him was Peter the fisherman, by means of whom not only the orator, but also the emperor, should believe. No noble was chosen in the first place, no learned man, because God chose the weak things of the world that He might confound the strong. This man, then, was great and without guile, and for this reason only was not chosen, lest the Lord should seem to any to have chosen the learned. And from this same learning in the law, it came that when he heard "from Nazareth,"--for he had searched the Scripture, and knew that the Saviour was to be expected thence, what the other scribes and Pharisees had difficulty in knowing,--this man, then, very learned in the law, when he heard Philip saying, "We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph;"--this man, who knew the Scriptures excellently well, when he heard the name "Nazareth," was filled with hope, and said, "From Nazareth something good can come."

18. Let us now see the rest concerning this man. "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." What is "in whom is no guile?" Perhaps he had no sin? Perhaps he was not sick? Perhaps he did not need a physician? God forbid. No one is born here in such fashion as not to need that Physician. What, then, is the meaning of the words, "in whom is no guile"? Let us search a little more intently--it will appear presently--in the name of the Lord. The Lord says dolus [guile]; and every one who understands Latin knows that dolus is when one thing is done and another feigned. Give heed, beloved. Dolus (guile) is not dolor (pain). I say this because many brethren, not well skilled in Latin, so speak as to say, Dolus torments him, using it for dolor. Dolus is fraud, it is deceit. When a man conceals one thing in his heart, and speaks another, it is guile, and he has, as it were, two hearts; he has, as it were, one recess of his heart where he sees the truth, and another recess where he conceives falsehood. And that you may know that this is guile, it is said in the Psalms, "Lips of guile." What are "lips of guile"? It follows, "In a heart and in a heart have they spoken evil." [167] What is "in a heart and in a heart," unless in a double heart? If, then, guile was not in Nathanael, the Physician judged him to be curable, not whole. A whole man is one thing, a curable another, an incurable a third: he who is sick, but not hopelessly sick, is called curable; he who is sick hopelessly, incurable; but he who is already whole does not need a physician. The Physician, then, who had come to cure, saw that he was curable, because there was no guile in him. How was guile not in him, if he is a sinner? He confesses that he is a sinner. For if he is a sinner, and says that he is a just man, there is guile in his mouth. Therefore in Nathanael He praised the confession of sin, He did not judge that he was not a sinner.

19. Wherefore, when the Pharisees, who seemed righteous to themselves, blamed the Lord, because, as physician, he mixed with the sick, and when they said, "Behold with whom he eats, with publicans and sinners," the Physician replied to the madmen, "They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." [168] That is to say, because you call yourselves righteous when you are sinners, because you judge yourselves to be whole when you are languishing, you put away from you the medicine, and do not hold fast health. Hence that Pharisee who had asked the Lord to dinner, was whole in his own eyes; but that sick woman rushed into the house to which she had not been invited, and, made impudent by the desire of health, approached not the head of the Lord, nor the hands, but the feet; washed them with tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them, anointed them with ointment,--made peace, sinner as she was, with the footprints of the Lord. The Pharisee who sat at meat there, as though whole himself, blamed the Physician, and said within himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known what woman touched his feet." He suspected that He knew not, because He did not repulse her to prevent His being touched with unclean hands; but He did know, He permitted Himself to be touched, that the touch itself might heal. The Lord, seeing the heart of the Pharisee, put forth a parable: "There was a certain creditor, which had two debtors; the one owed five hundred denars, and the other fifty; and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Which of them loved him most?" He answered, "I suppose, Lord, he to whom he forgave most." And turning to the woman, He said unto Simon, "Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head: thou gavest me no kiss; she hath not ceased to kiss my feet: thou gavest me no oil; she hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore, I say unto thee, to her are forgiven many sins, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." [169] That is to say, thou art more sick, but thou thinkest thyself whole; thou thinkest that little is forgiven thee when thou owest more. Well did she, because guile was not in her, deserve medicine. What means, guile was not in her? She confessed her sins. This He also praises in Nathanael, that guile was not in him; for many Pharisees who abounded in sins said that they were righteous, and brought guile with them, which made it impossible for them to be healed.

20. Jesus then saw this man in whom was no guile, and said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Nathanael saith unto Him, "Whence knowest Thou me?" Jesus answered and said, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig (that is, under the fig-tree), I saw thee." Nathanael answered and said unto Him, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel." Some great thing Nathanael may have understood in the saying, "When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee, before that Philip called thee;" for his words, "Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel," were not dissimilar to those of Peter so long afterwards, when the Lord said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." And there He named the rock, and praised the strength of the Church's support in this faith. Here already Nathanael says, "Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel." Wherefore? Because it was said to him, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee."

21. We must inquire whether this fig-tree signifies anything. Listen, my brethren. We find the fig-tree cursed because it had leaves only, and not fruit. [170] In the beginning of the human race, when Adam and Eve had sinned, they made themselves girdles of fig leaves. [171] Fig leaves then signify sins. Nathanael then was under the fig-tree, as it were under the shadow of death. The Lord saw him, he concerning whom it was said, "They that sat under the shadow of death, unto them hath light arisen." [172] What then was said to Nathanael? Thou sayest to me, O Nathanael, "Whence knowest thou me?" Even now thou speakest to me, because Philip called thee. He whom an apostle had already called, He perceived to belong to His Church. O thou Church, O thou Israel, in whom is no guile! if thou art the people, Israel, in whom is no guile, thou hast even now known Christ by His apostles, as Nathanael knew Christ by Philip. But His compassion beheld thee before thou knewest Him, when thou wert lying under sin. For did we first seek Christ, and not He seek us? Did we come sick to the Physician, and not the Physician to the sick? Was not that sheep lost, and did not the shepherd, leaving the ninety and nine in the wilderness, seek and find it, and joyfully carry it back on his shoulders? Was not that piece of money lost, and the woman lighted the lamp, and searched in the whole house until she found it? And when she had found it, "Rejoice with me," she said to her neighbors, "for I have found the piece of money which I lost." [173] In like manner were we lost as the sheep, lost as the piece of money; and our Shepherd found the sheep, but sought the sheep; the woman found the piece of money, but sought the piece of money. What is the woman? The flesh of Christ. What is the lamp? "I have prepared a lamp for my Christ." [174] Therefore were we sought that we might be found; having been found, we speak. Let us not be proud, for before we were found we were lost, if we had not been sought. Let them then not say to us whom we love, and whom we desire to gain to the peace of the Catholic Church, "What do you wish with us? Why seek you us if we are sinners?" We seek you for this reason that you perish not: we seek you because we were sought; we wish to find you because we have been found.

22. When, then, Nathanael had said "Whence knowest Thou me?" the Lord said to him, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee." O thou Israel without guile, whosoever thou art; O people living by faith, before I called thee by my apostles, when thou wast under the shadow of death, and thou sawest not me, I saw thee. The Lord then says to him, "Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, thou believest: thou shalt see a greater thing than these." What is this, thou shalt see a greater thing than these? And He saith unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye shall see heaven open, and angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man." Brethren, this is something greater than "under the fig-tree I saw thee." For it is more that the Lord justified us when called than that He saw us lying under the shadow of death. For what profit would it have been to us if we had remained where He saw us? Should we not be lying there? What is this greater thing? When have we seen angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man?

23. Already on a former occasion I have spoken of these ascending and descending angels; but lest you should have forgotten, I shall speak of the latter briefly by way of recalling it to your recollection. I should use more words if I were introducing, not recalling the subject. Jacob saw a ladder in a dream; and on a ladder he saw angels ascending and descending: and he anointed the stone which he had placed at his head. [175] You have heard that the Messias is Christ; you have heard that Christ is the Anointed. For Jacob did not place the stone, the anointed stone, that he might come and adore it: otherwise that would have been idolatry, not a pointing out of Christ. What was done was a pointing out of Christ, so far as it behoved such a pointing out to be made, and it was Christ that was pointed out. A stone was anointed, but not for an idol. A stone anointed; why a stone? "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded." [176] Why anointed? Because Christus comes from chrisma. But what saw he then on the ladder? Ascending and descending angels. So it is the Church, brethren: the angels of God are good preachers, preaching Christ; this is the meaning of, "they ascend and descend upon the Son of man." How do they ascend, and how do they descend? In one case we have an example; listen to the Apostle Paul. What we find in him, let us believe regarding the other preachers of the truth. Behold Paul ascending: "I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago was caught up into the third heaven (whether in the body, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth), and that he heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." [177] You have heard him ascending, hear him descending: "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; as babes in Christ I have fed you with milk, not with meat." [178] Behold he descended who had ascended. Ask whether he ascended to the third heaven. Ask whether he descended to give milk to babes. Hear that he descended: "I became a babe in the midst of you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children." [179] For we see both nurses and mothers descend to babes, and although they be able to speak Latin, they shorten the words, shake their tongues in a certain manner, in order to frame childish endearments from a methodical language; because if they speak according to rule, the infant does not understand nor profit. And if there be a father well skilled in speaking, and such an orator that the forum resounds with his eloquence, and the judgment-seats shake, if he have a little son, on his return home he puts aside the forensic eloquence to which he had ascended, and in child's language descends to his little one. Hear in one place the apostle himself ascending and descending in the same sentence: "For whether," says he,"we be beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause." [180] What is "we are beside ourselves"? That we see those things which it is not lawful for a man to speak. What is "we are sober for your cause? Have I judged myself to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified?" If the Lord Himself ascended and descended, it is evident that His preachers ascend by imitation, descend by preaching.

24. And if we have detained you somewhat longer than is our wont, the design was that the dangerous hours might pass: we imagine that those people have now brought their vanity to a close. But let us, brethren, having fed upon the feasts of salvation, do what remains, that we may in a religious manner fill up the Lord's day with spiritual joys, and compare the joys of verity with the joys of vanity; [181] and if we are horrified, let us grieve; if we grieve, let us pray; if we pray, may we be heard; if we are heard, we gain them also.

Footnotes

[145] Ps. lxxiv. 21. [146] Isa. xl. 1-8. [147] John i. 14. [148] John i. 33. [149] Gen. viii. 8-11. [150] 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. [151] Matt. x. 16. [152] Matt. v. 14. [153] John i. 9. [154] Mark i. 24. [155] Ps. cii. 13, 14. [156] 1 Pet. v. 8. [157] Ecclus. ii. 12. [158] Eph. iv. 27. [159] Matt. iv. 19. [160] Ecclus. vi. 36, 37. [161] Matt. v. 17. [162] Prov. xxxi. 26. [163] Luke xi. 1-4. [164] 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. [165] Matt. vii. 24-27. [166] 1 Cor. i. 20-28. [167] Ps. xi. 3. [168] Matt. xi. 11-13. [169] Luke vii. 36-47. [170] Matt. xx. 19. [171] Gen. iii. 7. [172] Isa. ix. 2. [173] Luke xv. 4-10. [174] Ps. cxxxii. 17. [175] Gen. xxviii. 12-18. [176] Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Pet. ii. 6. [177] 2 Cor. xii. 2-4. [178] 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2. [179] 1 Thess. ii. 7. [180] 2 Cor. v. 13. [181] [The heathen spectacles.] .


Tractate VIII.

Chapter II. 1-4

1. The miracle indeed of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby He made the water into wine, is not marvellous to those who know that it was God's doing. For He who made wine on that day at the marriage feast, in those six water-pots, which He commanded to be filled with water, the self-same does this every year in vines. For even as that which the servants put into the water-pots was turned into wine by the doing of the Lord, so in like manner also is what the clouds pour forth changed into wine by the doing of the same Lord. But we do not wonder at the latter, because it happens every year: it has lost its marvellousness by its constant recurrence. And yet it suggests a greater consideration than that which was done in the water-pots. For who is there that considers the works of God, whereby this whole world is governed and regulated, who is not amazed and overwhelmed with miracles? If he considers the vigorous power of a single grain of any seed whatever, it is a mighty thing, it inspires him with awe. But since men, intent on a different matter, have lost the consideration of the works of God, by which they should daily praise Him as the Creator, God has, as it were, reserved to Himself the doing of certain extraordinary actions, that, by striking them with wonder, He might rouse men as from sleep to worship Him. A dead man has risen again; men marvel: so many are born daily, and none marvels. If we reflect more considerately, it is a matter of greater wonder for one to be who was not before, than for one who was to come to life again. Yet the same God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, doeth by His word all these things; and it is He who created that governs also. The former miracles He did by His Word, God with Himself; the latter miracles He did by the same Word incarnate, and for us made man. As we wonder at the things which were done by the man Jesus, so let us wonder at the things which where done by Jesus God. By Jesus God were made heaven, and earth, and the sea, all the garniture of heaven, the abounding riches of the earth, and the fruitfulness of the sea;--all these things which lie within the reach of our eyes were made by Jesus God. And we look at these things, and if His own spirit is in us they in such manner please us, that we praise Him that contrived them; not in such manner that turning ourselves to the works we turn away from the Maker, and, in a manner, turning our face to the things made and our backs to Him that made them.

2. And these things indeed we see; they lie before our eyes. But what of those we do not see, as angels, virtues, powers, dominions, and every inhabitant of this fabric which is above the heavens, and beyond the reach of our eyes? Yet angels, too, when necessary, often showed themselves to men. Has not God made all these too by His Word, that is, by His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ? What of the human soul itself, which is not seen, and yet by its works shown in the flesh excites great admiration in those that duly reflect on them,--by whom was it made, unless by God? And through whom was it made, unless through the Son of God? Not to speak as yet of the soul of man: the soul of any brute whatever, see how it regulates the huge body, puts forth the senses, the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the nostrils to smell, the taste to discern flavors--the members, in short, to execute their respective functions! Is it the body, not the soul, namely the inhabitant of the body, that doeth these things? The soul is not apparent to the eyes, nevertheless it excites admiration by these its actions. Direct now thy consideration to the soul of man, on which God has bestowed understanding to know its Creator, to discern and distinguish between good and evil, that is, between right and wrong: see how many things it does through the body! Observe this whole world arranged in the same human commonwealth, with what administrations, with what orderly degrees of authority, with what conditions of citizenship, with what laws, manners, arts! The whole of this is brought about by the soul, and yet this power of the soul is not visible. When withdrawn from the body, the latter is a mere carcase: first, it in a manner preserves it from rottenness. For all flesh is corruptible, and falls off into putridity unless preserved by the soul as by a kind of seasoning. But the human soul has this quality in common with the soul of the brute; those qualities rather are to be admired which I have stated, such as belong to the mind and intellect, wherein also it is renewed after the image of its Creator, after whose image man was formed. [182] What will this power of the soul be when this body shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality? [183] If such is its power, acting through corruptible flesh, what shall be its power through a spiritual body, after the resurrection of the dead? Yet this soul, as I have said, of admirable nature and substance, is a thing invisible, intellectual; this soul also was made by God Jesus, for He is the Word of God. "All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made."

3. When we see, therefore, such deeds wrought by Jesus God, why should we wonder at water being turned into wine by the man Jesus? For He was not made man in such manner that He lost His being God. Man was added to Him, God not lost to Him. This miracle was wrought by the same who made all those things. Let us not therefore wonder that God did it, but love Him because He did it in our midst, and for the purpose of our restoration. For He gives us certain intimations by the very circumstances of the case. I suppose that it was not without cause He came to the marriage. The miracle apart, there lies something mysterious and sacramental in the very fact. Let us knock, that He may open to us, and fill us with the invisible wine: for we were water, and He made us wine, made us wise; for He gave us the wisdom of His faith, whilst before we were foolish. And it appertains, it may be, to this wisdom, together with the honor of God, and with the praise of His majesty, and with the charity of His most powerful mercy, to understand what was done in this miracle.

4. The Lord, on being invited, came to the marriage. What wonder if He came to that house to a marriage, having come into this world to a marriage? For, indeed, if He came not to a marriage, He has not here a bride. But what says the apostle? "I have espoused you to one husband, to present you a chaste virgin to Christ." Why does he fear lest the virginity of Christ's bride should be corrupted by the subtilty of the devil? "I fear," saith he, "lest as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty, so also your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and chastity which is in Christ." [184] Thus has He here a bride whom He has redeemed by His blood, and to whom He has given the Holy Spirit as a pledge. He has freed her from the bondage of the devil: He died for her sins, and is risen again for her justification. [185] Who will make such offerings to his bride? Men may offer to a bride every sort of earthly ornament,--gold, silver, precious stones, houses, slaves, estates, farms,--but will any give his own blood? For if one should give his own blood to his bride, he would not live to take her for his wife. But the Lord, dying without fear, gave His own blood for her, whom rising again He was to have, whom He had already united to Himself in the Virgin's womb. For the Word was the Bridegroom, and human flesh the bride; and both one, the Son of God, the same also being Son of man. The womb of the Virgin Mary, in which He became head of the Church, was His bridal chamber: thence He came forth, as a bridegroom from his chamber, as the Scripture foretold, "And rejoiced as a giant to run his way." [186] From His chamber He came forth as a bridegroom; and being invited, came to the marriage.

5. It is because of an indubitable mystery that He appears not to acknowledge His mother, from whom as the Bridegroom He came forth, when He says to her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." What is this? Did He come to the marriage for the purpose of teaching men to treat their mothers with contempt? Surely he to whose marriage He had come was taking a wife with the view of having children, and surely he wished to be honored by those children he would beget: had Jesus then come to the marriage in order to dishonor His mother, when marriages are celebrated and wives married with the view of having children, whom God commands to honor their parents? Beyond all doubt, brethren, there is some mystery lurking here. It is really a matter of such importance that some,--of whom the apostle, as we have mentioned before, has forewarned us to be on our guard, saying, "I fear, lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty, so also your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and chastity which is in Christ,"--taking away from the credibility of the gospel, and asserting that Jesus was not born of the Virgin Mary, used to endeavor to draw from this place an argument in support of their error, so far as to say, How could she be His mother, to whom He said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Wherefore we must answer them, and show them why the Lord said this, lest in their insanity they appear to themselves to have discovered something contrary to wholesome belief, whereby the chastity of the virgin bride may be corrupted, that is, whereby the faith of the Church may be injured. For in very deed, brethren, their faith is corrupted who prefer a lie to the truth. For these men, who appear to honor Christ in such wise as to deny that He had flesh, do nothing short of proclaiming Him a liar. Now they who build up a lie in men, what do they but drive the truth out of them? They let in the devil, they drive Christ out; they let in an adulterer, shut out the bridegroom, being evidently paranymphs, or rather, the panderers of the serpent. For it is for this object they speak, that the serpent may possess, and Christ be shut out. How doth the serpent possess? When a lie possesses. When falsehood possesses, then the serpent possesses; when truth possesses, then Christ possesses. For Himself has said, "I am the truth;" [187] but of that other He said, "He stood not in the truth, because the truth is not him." [188] And Christ is the truth in such wise that thou shouldst receive the whole to be true in Him. The true Word, God equal with the Father, true soul, true flesh, true man, true God, true nativity, true passion, true death, true resurrection. If thou say that any of these is false, rottenness enters, the worms of falsehood are bred of the poison of the serpent, and nothing sound will remain.

6. What, then, is this, saith one, which the Lord saith, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Perhaps the Lord shows us in the sequel why He said this: "Mine hour," saith He, "is not yet come." For thus is how He saith, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." And we must seek to know why this was said. But first let us therefrom withstand the heretics. What says the old serpent, of old the hissing instiller of poison? What saith he? That Jesus had not a woman for His mother. Whence provest thou that? From this, saith he, because Jesus said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Who has related this, that we should believe that Jesus said it? Who has related it? None other than John the evangelist. But the same John the evangelist said, "And the mother of Jesus was there." For this is how he has told us: "The next day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And having been invited to the marriage, Jesus had come thither with His disciples." We have here two sayings uttered by the evangelist. "The mother of Jesus was there," said the evangelist; and it is the same evangelist that has told us what Jesus said to His mother. And see, brethren, how he has told us that Jesus answered His mother, having said first, "His mother said unto Him," in order that you may keep the virginity of your heart secure against the tongue of the serpent. Here we are told in the same Gospel, the record of the same evangelist, "The mother of Jesus was there," and "His mother said unto Him." Who related this? John the evangelist. And what said Jesus in answer to His mother? "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Who relates this? The very same Evangelist John. O most faithful and truth-speaking evangelist, thou tellest me that Jesus said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" why hast thou added His mother, whom He does not acknowledge? For thou hast said that "the mother of Jesus was there," and that "His mother said unto Him;" why didst thou not rather say, Mary was there, and Mary said unto Him. Thou tellest as these two facts, "His mother said unto Him," and "Jesus answered her, Woman, why have I to do with thee?" Why doest thou this, if it be not because both are true? Now, those men are willing to believe the evangelist in the one case, when he tells us that Jesus said to His mother, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" and yet they will not believe him in the other, when he says, "The mother of Jesus was there," and "His mother said unto Him." But who is he that resisteth the serpent and holds fast the truth, whose virginity of heart is not corrupted by the subtilty of the devil? He who believes both to be true, namely, that the mother of Jesus was there, and that Jesus made that answer to His mother. But if he does not as yet understand in what manner Jesus said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" let him meanwhile believe that He said it, and said it, moreover, to His mother. Let him first have the piety to believe, and he will then have fruit in understanding.

7. I ask you, O faithful Christians, Was the mother of Jesus there? Answer ye, She was. Whence know you? Answer, The Gospel says it. What answer made Jesus to His mother? Answer ye, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." And whence know you this? Answer, The Gospel says it. Let no man corrupt this your faith, if you desire to preserve a chaste virginity for the Bridegroom. But if it be asked of you, why He made this answer to His mother, let him declare who understands; but he who does not as yet understand, let him most firmly believe that Jesus made this answer, and made it moreover to His mother. By this piety he will learn to understand also why Jesus answered thus, if by praying he knock at the door of truth, and do not approach it with wrangling. Only this much, while he fancies himself to know, or is ashamed because he does not know, why Jesus answered thus, let him beware lest he be constrained to believe either that the evangelist lied when he said, "The mother of Jesus was there," or that Jesus Himself suffered for our sins by a counterfeit death and for our justification showed counterfeit scars; and that He spoke falsely in saying, "If ye continue in my word, ye are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." [189] For if He had a false mother, false flesh, false death, false wounds in His death, false scars in His resurrection, then it will not be the truth, but rather falsehood, that shall make free those that believe on Him. Nay, on the contrary, let falsehood yield to truth, and let all be confounded who would have themselves be accounted truth-speaking, because they endeavor to prove Christ a deceiver, and will not have it said to them, We do not believe you because you lie, when they affirm that truth itself has lied. Nevertheless, if we ask them, Whence know you that Christ said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" they answer that they believe the Gospel. Then why do they not believe the Gospel when it says, "The mother of Jesus was there," and, "His mother said unto Him"? Or if the Gospel lies here, how are we to believe it there, that Jesus said this, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Why do not those miserable men rather faithfully believe that the Lord did so answer, not to a stranger, but to His mother; and also piously seek to know why He did so answer? There is a great difference between him who says, I would know why Christ made this answer to His mother, and him who says, I know that it was not to His mother that Christ made this answer. It is one thing to be willing to understand what is shut up, another thing to be unwilling to believe what is open. He who says, I would know why Christ thus made answer to His mother, wishes the Gospel, in which he believes, opened up to him; but he who says, I know that it was not to His mother that Christ made this answer, accuses of falsehood the very Gospel, wherein he believed that Christ did so answer.

8. Now then, if it seem good, brethren, those men being repulsed, and ever wandering in their own blindness, unless in humility they be healed, let us inquire why our Lord answered His mother in such a manner. He was in an extraordinary manner begotten of the Father without a mother, born of a mother without a father; without a mother He was God, without a father He was man; without a mother before all time, without a father in the end of times. What He said was said in answer to His mother, for "the mother of Jesus was there," and "His mother said unto Him." All this the Gospel says. It is there we learn that "the mother of Jesus was there," just where we learn that He said unto her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." Let us believe the whole; and what we do not yet understand, let us search out. And first take care, lest perhaps, as the Manichæans found occasion for their falsehood, because the Lord said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" the astrologers in like manner may find occasion for their deception, in that He said, "Mine hour is not yet come." If it was in the sense of the astrologers He said this, we have committed a sacrilege in burning their books. But if we have acted rightly, as was done in the times of the apostles, [190] it was not according to their notion that the Lord said, "Mine hour is not yet come." For, say those vain-talkers and deceived seducers, thou seest that Christ was under fate, as He says, "Mine hour is not yet come." To whom then must we make answer first--to the heretics or to the astrologers? For both come of the serpent, and desire to corrupt the Church's virginity of heart, which she holds in undefiled faith. Let us first reply to those whom we proposed, to whom, indeed, we have already replied in great measure. But lest they should think that we have not what to say of the words which the Lord uttered in answer to His mother, we prepare you further against them; for I suppose what has already been said is sufficient for their refutation.

9. Why, then, said the Son to the mother, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come?" Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had. She was the mother, then, of His flesh, of His humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes He took upon Him. But the miracle which He was about to do, He was about to do according to His divine nature, not according to His weakness; according to that wherein He was God not according to that wherein He was born weak. But the weakness of God is stronger than men. [191] His mother then demanded a miracle of Him; but He, about to perform divine works, so far did not recognize a human womb; saying in effect, "That in me which works a miracle was not born of thee, thou gavest not birth to my divine nature; but because my weakness was born of thee, I will recognize thee at the time when that same weakness shall hang upon the cross." This, indeed, is the meaning of "Mine hour is not yet come." For then it was that He recognized, who, in truth, always did know. He knew His mother in predestination, even before He was born of her; even before, as God, He created her of whom, as man, He was to be created, He knew her as His mother: but at a certain hour in a mystery He did not recognize her; and at a certain hour which had not yet come, again in a mystery, He does recognize her. For then did He recognize her, when that to which she gave birth was a-dying. That by which Mary was made did not die, but that which was made of Mary; not the eternity of the divine nature, but the weakness of the flesh, was dying. He made that answer therefore, making a distinction in the faith of believers, between the who; and the how, He came. For while He was God and the Lord of heaven and earth, He came by a mother who was a woman. In that He was Lord of the world, Lord of heaven and earth, He was, of course, the Lord of Mary also; but in that wherein it is said, "Made of a woman, made under the law," He was Mary's son. The same both the Lord of Mary and the son of Mary; the same both the Creator of Mary and created from Mary. Marvel not that He was both son and Lord. For just as He is called the son of Mary, so likewise is He called the son of David; and son of David because son of Mary. Hear the apostle openly declaring, "Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." [192] Hear Him also declared the Lord of David; let David himself declare this: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand." [193] And this passage Jesus Himself brought forward to the Jews, and refuted them from it. [194] How then was He both David's son and David's Lord? David's son according to the flesh, David's Lord according to His divinity; so also Mary's son after the flesh, and Mary's Lord after His majesty. Now as she was not the mother of His divine nature, whilst it was by His divinity the miracle she asked for would be wrought, therefore He answered her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" But think not that I deny thee to be my mother: "Mine hour is not yet come;" for in that hour I will acknowledge thee, when the weakness of which thou art the mother comes to hang on the cross. Let us prove the truth of this. When the Lord suffered, the same evangelist tells us, who knew the mother of the Lord, and who has given us to know about her in this marriage feast,--the same, I say, tells us, "There was there near the cross the mother of Jesus; and Jesus saith to His mother, Woman, behold thy son! and to the disciple, Behold thy mother!" [195] He commends His mother to the care of the disciple; commends His mother, as about to die before her, and to rise again before her death. The man commends her a human being to man's care. This humanity had Mary given birth to. That hour had now come, the hour of which He had then said, "Mine hour is not yet come."

10. In my opinion, brethren, we have answered the heretics. Let us now answer the astrologers. And how do they attempt to prove that Jesus was under fate? Because, say they, Himself said, "Mine hour is not yet come." Therefore we believe Him; and if He had said, "I have no hour," He would have excluded the astrologers: but behold, say they, He said, "Mine hour is not yet come." If then He had said, "I have no hour," the astrologers would have been shut out, and would have no ground for their slander; but now that He said, "Mine hour is not yet come," how can we contradict His own words? 'Tis wonderful that the astrologers, by believing Christ's words, endeavor to convince Christians that Christ lived under an hour of fate. Well, let them believe Christ when He saith, "I have power to lay down my life and to take it up again: no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself, and I take it again." [196] Is this power then under fate? Let them show us a man who has it in his power when to die, how long to live: this they can never do. Let them, therefore, believe God when He says, "I have power to lay down my life, and to take it up again;" and let them inquire why it was said, "Mine hour is not yet come;" and let them not because of these words, be imposing fate on the Maker of heaven, the Creator and Ruler of the stars. For even if fate were from the stars, the Maker of the stars could not be subject to their destiny. Moreover, not only Christ had not what thou callest fate, but not even hast thou, or I, or he there, or any human being whatsoever.

11. Nevertheless, being deceived, they deceive others, and propound fallacies to men. They lay snares to catch men, and that, too, in the open streets. They who spread nets to catch wild beasts even do it in woods and desert places: how miserably vain are men, for catching whom the net is spread in the forum! When men sell themselves to men, they receive money; but these give money in order to sell themselves to vanities. For they go in to an astrologer to buy themselves masters, such as the astrologer is pleased to give them: be it Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, or any other named profanity. The man went in free, that having given his money he might come out a slave. Nay, rather, had he been free he would not have gone in; but he entered whither his master Error and his mistress Avarice dragged him. Whence also the truth says, "Every one that doeth sin is the slave of sin." [197]

12. Why then did He say, "Mine hour is not yet come?" Rather because, having it in His power when to die, He did not yet see it fit to use that power. Just as we, brethren, say, for example, "Now is the appointed hour for us to go out to celebrate the sacraments." If we go out before it is necessary, do we not act perversely and absurdly? And because we act only at the proper time, do we therefore in this action regard fate when we so express ourselves? What means then, "Mine hour is not yet come?" When I know that it is the fitting time for me to suffer, when my suffering will be profitable, then I will willingly suffer. That hour is not yet: that thou mayest preserve both, this, "Mine hour is not yet come;" and that, "I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it again." He had come, then, having it in His power when to die. And surely it would not have been right were He to die before He had chosen disciples. Had he been a man who had not his hour in his own power, he might have died before he had chosen disciples; and if haply he had died when his disciples were now chosen and instructed, it would be something conferred on him, not his own doing. But, on the contrary, He who had come having in His power when to go, when to return, how far to advance, and for whom the regions of the grave were open, not only when dying but when rising again; He, I say, in order to show us His Church's hope of immortality, showed in the head what it behoved the members to expect. For He who has risen again in the head will also rise again in all His members. The hour then had not yet come, the fit time was not yet. Disciples had to be called, the kingdom of heaven to be proclaimed, the Lord's divinity to be shown forth in miracles, and His humanity in His very sympathy with mortal men. For He who hungered because He was man, fed so many thousands with five loaves because He was God; He who slept because He was man, commanded the winds and the waves because He was God. All these things had first to be set forth, that the evangelists might have whereof to write, that there might be what should be preached to the Church. But when He had done as much as He judged to be sufficient, then His hour came, not of necessity, but of will,--not of condition, but of power.

13. What then, brethren? Because we have replied to these and those, shall we say nothing as to what the water-pots signify? what the water turned into wine? what the master of the feast? what the bridegroom? what in mystery the mother of Jesus? what the marriage itself? We must speak of all these, but we must not burden you. I would have preached to you in Christ's name yesterday also, when the usual sermon was due to you, my beloved, but I was hindered by certain necessities. If you please then, holy brethren, let us defer until to-morrow what pertains to the hidden meaning of this translation, and not burden both your and our own weakness. There are many of you, perhaps, who have to-day come together on account of the solemnity of the day, not to hear the sermon. Let those who come to-morrow come to hear, so that we may not defraud those who are eager to learn, nor burden those who are fastidious.

Footnotes

[182] Col. iii. 10. [183] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [184] 2 Cor. xi. 3. [185] Rom. iv. 25. [186] Ps. xix. 5. [187] John xiv. 6. [188] John viii. 44. [189] John viii. 31. [190] Acts xix. 19. [191] 1 Cor. i. 25. [192] Rom. i. 3. [193] Ps. cx. 1. [194] Matt. xxii. 45. [195] John xix. 25, 27. [196] John x. 18. [197] John viii. 34. .


Tractate IX.

Chapter II. 1-11

1. May the Lord our God be present, that He may grant us to render you what we promised. For yesterday, if you remember, holy brethren, when the shortness of the time prevented us from completing the sermon we had begun, we put off until to-day the unfolding, by God's assistance, of those things which are mystically put in hidden meanings in this fact of the Gospel lesson. We need not, therefore, now stay any longer to commend the miracle of God. For He is the same God who, throughout the whole creation, worketh miracles every day, which become lightly esteemed by men, not because of the ease with which they are wrought, but by reason of their constant recurrence. Those uncommon works, however, which were done by the same Lord--that is, by the Word for us made flesh--occasioned greater astonishment to men, not because they are greater than those which He daily performs in the creation, but because these which happen every day are accomplished as it were in the course of nature; but the others appear exhibited to the eyes of men, wrought by the efficacy of a power, as it were, immediately present. We said, as you remember, one dead man rose again, people were amazed, whilst no man wonders at the birth every day of those who were not in being. In like manner, who does not wonder at water turned into wine, although God is doing this every year in vines? But since all the works which the Lord Jesus did, serve not only to rouse our hearts by their miraculous character, but also to edify our hearts in the doctrine of faith, it behoves us thoroughly to examine into the meaning and significance of those works. For the consideration of the meaning of all these things we deferred, as you remember, till today.

2. The Lord, in that He came to the marriage to which He was invited, wished, apart from the mystical signification, to assure us that marriage was His own institution. For there were to be those of whom the apostle spoke, "forbidding to marry," [198] and asserting that marriage was an evil, and of the devil's institution: notwithstanding the same Lord declares in the Gospel, on being asked whether it be lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause, that it is not lawful save for the cause of fornication. In His answer, if you remember, He said, "What God hath joined together let not man put asunder." [199] And they that are well instructed in the catholic faith know that God instituted marriage; and as the union of man and wife is from God, so divorce is from the devil. But in the case of fornication it is lawful for a man to put away his wife, because she first chose to be no longer wife in not preserving conjugal fidelity to her husband. Nor are those women who vow virginity to God, although they hold a higher place of honor and sanctity in the Church, without marriage. For they too, together with the whole Church, attain to a marriage, a marriage in which Christ is the Bridegroom. And for this cause, therefore, did the Lord, on being invited, come to the marriage, to confirm conjugal chastity, and to show forth the sacrament of marriage. For the bridegroom in that marriage, to whom it was said, "Thou hast kept the good wine until now," represented the person of the Lord. For the good wine--namely, the gospel--Christ has kept until now.

3. For now let us begin to uncover the hidden meanings of the mysteries, so far as He in whose name we made you the promise may enable us. In the ancient times there was prophecy, and no times were left without the dispensation of prophecy. But the prophecy, since Christ was not understood therein, was water. For in water wine is in some manner latent. The apostle tells us what we are to understand by this water: "Even unto this day," saith he, "whilst Moses is read, that same veil is upon their heart; that it is not unveiled because it is done away in Christ. And when thou shalt have passed over," saith he, "to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." [200] By the veil he means the covering over of prophecy, so that it was not understood. When thou hast passed over to the Lord, the veil is taken away; so likewise is tastelessness taken away when thou hast passed over to the Lord; and what was water now becomes wine to thee. Read all the prophetic books; and if Christ be not understood therein, what canst thou find so insipid and silly? Understand Christ in them, and what thou readest not only has a taste, but even inebriates thee; transporting the mind from the body, so that forgetting the things that are past, thou reachest forth to the things that are before. [201]

4. Wherefore, prophecy from ancient times, even from the time when the series of human births began to run onwards, was not silent concerning Christ; but the import of the prophecy was concealed therein, for as yet it was water. Whence do we prove that in all former times, until the age in which the Lord came, prophecy did not fail concerning Him? From the Lord's own saying. For when He had risen from the dead, He found His disciples doubting concerning Himself whom they had followed. For they saw that He was dead, and they had no hope that He would rise again; all their hope was gone. On what ground was the thief, after receiving praise, deemed worthy to be that same day in Paradise? Because when bound on the cross he confessed Christ, while the disciples doubted concerning Him. Well, He found them wavering, and in a manner reproving themselves because they had looked for redemption in Him. Yet they sorrowed for Him as cut off without fault, for they knew Him to be innocent. And this is what the disciples themselves said, after His resurrection, when He had found certain of them in the way, sorrowful, "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And He said unto them, What things? And they said, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deeds and words before God and all the people: how our priests and rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and bound Him to the cross. But we trusted that it was He who should have redeemed Israel; and to-day is now the third day since these things were done." After one of the two whom He found in the way going to a neighboring village had spoken these and other words, Jesus answered and said, "O irrational, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered all these things. and to enter into His glory? And beginning from Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." And likewise, in another place, when He would even have His disciples touch Him with their hands, that they might believe that He had risen in the body, He saith, "These are the words which I have spoken unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, that Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

5. When these words of the Gospel are understood, and they are certainly clear, all the mysteries which are latent in this miracle of the Lord will be laid open. Observe what He says, that it behoved the things to be fulfilled in Christ that were written of Him. Where were they written? "In the law," saith He, "and in the prophets, and in the Psalms." He omitted no part of the Old Scriptures. These were water; and hence the disciples were called irrational by the Lord, because as yet they tasted to them as water, not as wine. And how did He make of the water wine? When He opened their understanding, and expounded to them the Scriptures, beginning from Moses, through all the prophets; with which being now inebriated, they said, "Did not our hearts burn within us in the way, when He opened to us the Scriptures?" For they understood Christ in those books in which they knew Him not before. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ changed the water into wine, and that has now taste which before had not, that now inebriates which before did not. For if He had commanded the water to be poured out of the water-pots, and so Himself had put in the wine from the secret repositories of the creature, whence He made bread when He satisfied so many thousands; for five loaves were not in themselves sufficient to satisfy five thousand men, nor even to fill twelve baskets, but the omnipotence of the Lord was, as it were, a fountain of bread; so likewise He might, on the water being poured out, have poured in wine: but had He done this, He would appear to have rejected the Old Scriptures. When, however, He turns the water itself into wine, He shows us that the Old Scripture also is from Himself, for at His own command were the water-pots filled. It is from the Lord, indeed, that the Old Scripture also is; but it has no taste unless Christ is understood therein.

6. But observe what Himself saith, "The things which were written in the law, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me." And we know that the law extends from the time of which we have record, that is, from the beginning of the world: "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." [202] Thence down to the time in which we are now living are six ages, this being the sixth, as you have often heard and know. The first age is reckoned from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; and, as Matthew the evangelist duly follows and distinguishes, the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from the carrying away into Babylon to John the Baptist; [203] the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world. Moreover, God made man after His own image on the sixth day, because in this sixth age is manifested the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us; [204] and the water is turned into wine, that we may taste of Christ, now manifested in the law and the prophets. Hence "there were there six water-pots," which He bade be filled with water. Now the six water-pots signify the six ages, which were not without prophecy. And those six periods, divided and separated as it were by joints, would be as empty vessels unless they were filled by Christ. Why did I say, the periods which would run fruitlessly on, unless the Lord Jesus were preached in them? Prophecies are fulfilled, the water-pots are full; but that the water may be turned into wine, Christ must be understood in that whole prophecy.

7. But what means this: "They contained two or three metretæ apiece"? This phrase certainly conveys to us a mysterious meaning. For by "metretæ" he means certain measures, as if he should say jars, flasks, or something of that sort. Metreta is the name of a measure, and takes its name from the word "measure." For metron is the Greek word for measure, whence the word "metretæ" is derived. "They contained," then, "two or three metretæ apiece." What are we to say, brethren? If He had simply said "three apiece," our mind would at once have run to the mystery of the Trinity. And, perhaps, we ought not at once to reject this application of the meaning, because He said, "two or three apiece;" for when the Father and Son are named, the Holy Spirit must necessarily be understood. For the Holy Spirit is not that of the Father only, nor of the Son only, but the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. For it is written," If any man love the world, the Spirit of the Father is not in him." [205] And again, "Whoso hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of His." [206] The same, then, is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. Therefore, the Father and the Son being named, the Holy Spirit also is understood, because He is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. And when there is mention of the Father and Son, "two metretæ," as it were, are mentioned; but since the Holy Spirit is understood in them, "three metretæ." That is the reason why it is not said, "Some containing two metretæ apiece, others three apiece;" but the same six water-pots contained "two or three metretæ apiece." It is as if he had said, When I say two apiece, I would have the Spirit of the Father and of the Son to be understood together with them; and when I say three apiece, I declare the same Trinity more plainly.

8. Wherefore, whoso names the Father and the Son ought thereby to understand the mutual love of the Father and Son, which is the Holy Spirit. And perhaps the Scriptures on being examined (I do not say that I am able to show you this to-day, or as if another proof cannot be found),--nevertheless, the Scriptures, perhaps, on being searched, do show us that the Holy Spirit is charity. And do not count charity a thing cheap. How, indeed, can it be cheap, when all things that are said to be not cheap are called dear (chara)? Therefore, if what is not cheap is dear, what is dearer than dearness itself (charitas)? The apostle so commends charity to us that he says, "I show unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I know all mysteries and all knowledge, and have prophecy and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I distribute all my goods to the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." [207] How great, then, is charity, which, if wanting, in vain have we all things else; if present, rightly have we all things! Yet the Apostle Paul, setting forth the praise of charity with copiousness and fullness, has said less of it than did the Apostle John in brief, whose Gospel this is. For he has not hesitated to say, "God is love." It is also written, "Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given us." [208] Who, then, can name the Father and the Son without thereby understanding the love of the Father and Son? Which when one begins to have, he will have the Holy Spirit; which if one has not, he will not have the Holy Spirit. And just as thy body, if it be without spirit, namely thy soul, is dead; so likewise thy soul, if it be without the Holy Spirit, that is, without charity, will be reckoned dead. Therefore "The water-pots contained two metretæ apiece," because the Father and the Son are proclaimed in the prophecy of all the periods; but the Holy Spirit is there also, and therefore it is added, "or three apiece." "I and the Father," saith He, "are one." [209] But far be it from us to suppose that where we are told, "I and the Father are one," the Holy Spirit is not there. Yet since he named the Father and the Son, let the water-pots contain "two metretæ apiece;" but attend to this, "or three apiece." "Go, baptize the nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." So, therefore, when it says "two apiece," the Trinity is not expressed but understood; but when it says, "or three," the Trinity is expressed also.

9. But there is also another meaning that must not be passed over, and which I will declare: let every man choose which he likes best. We keep not back what is suggested to us. For it is the Lord's table, and the minister ought not to defraud the guests, especially when they hunger as you now do, so that your longing is manifest. Prophecy, which is dispensed from the ancient times, has for its object the salvation of all nations. True, Moses was sent to the people of Israel alone, and to that people alone was the law given by him; and the prophets, too, were of that people, and the very distribution of times was marked out according to the same people; whence also the water-pots are said to be "according to the purification of the Jews:" nevertheless, that the prophecy was proclaimed to all other nations also is manifest, forasmuch as Christ was concealed in him in whom all nations are blessed, as it was promised to Abraham by the Lord, saying, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." [210] But this was not as yet understood, for as yet the water was not turned into wine. The prophecy therefore was dispensed to all nations. But that this may appear more agreeably, let us, so far as our time permits, mention certain facts respecting the several ages, as represented respectively by the water-pots.

10. In the very beginning, Adam and Eve were the parents of all nations, not of the Jews only; and whatever was represented in Adam concerning Christ, undoubtedly concerned all nations, whose salvation is in Christ. What better can I say of the water of the first water-pot than what the apostle says of Adam and Eve? For no man will say that I misunderstand the meaning when I produce, not my own, but the apostle's. How great a mystery, then, concerning Christ does that of which the apostle makes mention contain, when he says, "And the two shall be in one flesh: this is a great mystery!" [211] And lest any man should understand that greatness of mystery to exist in the case of the individual men that have wives, he says, "But I speak concerning Christ and the Church." What great mystery is this, "the two shall be one flesh?" While Scripture, in the Book of Genesis, was speaking of Adam and Eve, it came to these words, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh." [212] Now, if Christ cleave to the Church, so that the two should be one flesh, in what manner did He leave His Father and His mother? He left His Father in this sense, that when He was in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking to Him the form of a servant. [213] In this sense He left His Father, not that He forsook or departed from His Father, but that He did not appear unto men in that form in which He was equal with the Father. But how did He leave His mother? By leaving the synagogue of the Jews, of which, after the flesh, He was born, and by cleaving to the Church which He has gathered out of all nations. Thus the first water-pot then held a prophecy of Christ; but so long as these things of which I speak were not preached among the peoples, the prophecy was water, it was not yet changed into wine. And since the Lord has enlightened us through the apostle, to show us what we were in search of, by this one sentence, "The two shall be one flesh; a great mystery concerning Christ and the Church;" we are now permitted to seek Christ everywhere, and to drink wine from all the water-pots. Adam sleeps, that Eve may be formed; Christ dies, that the Church may be formed. When Adam sleeps, Eve is formed from his side; when Christ is dead, the spear pierces His side, that the mysteries may flow forth whereby the Church is formed. Is it not evident to every man that in those things then done, things to come were foreshadowed, since the apostle says that Adam himself was the figure of Him that was to come? "Who is," saith he, "the figure of Him that was to come." [214] All was mystically prefigured. For, in reality, God could have taken the rib from Adam when he was awake, and formed the woman. Or was it, haply, necessary for him to sleep lest he should feel pain in his side when the rib was taken away? Who is there that sleeps so soundly that his bones may be torn from him without his awaking? Or was it because it was God that tore it out, that the man did not feel it? Well, He who could take it from him without pain when he was asleep, could do it also when he was awake. But, without doubt, the first water-pot was being filled, there was a dispensation of the prophecy of that time concerning this which was to be.

11. Christ was represented also in Noah and in that ark of the whole world. For why were all kinds of animals shut in, in the ark but to signify all nations? For God could again create every kind of animals. When as yet they were not, did He not say, "Let the earth bring forth," and the earth brought forth? From the same source He could make anew, whence He then made; by a word He made, by a word He could make again: were it not that He was setting before us a mystery, and filling up the second water-pot of prophetical dispensation, that the world might by the wood be delivered in a figure; because the life of the world was to be nailed on wood.

12. Now, in the third water-pot, to Abraham, as I have mentioned before, it was said, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." And who does not see whose figure Abraham's only son was, he who bore the wood for the sacrifice of himself, to that place whither he was being led to be offered up? For the Lord bore his own cross, as the Gospel tells us. This will be enough to say concerning the third water-pot.

13. But as to David, why do I say that his prophecy extends to all nations, when we have just heard the psalm (and it is difficult to mention a psalm in which the same is not sounded forth)? But certainly, as I have said, we have been just singing, "Arise, O God, judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit among all nations." [215] And this is why the Donatists are as men cast forth from the marriage: just as the man who had not a wedding garment was invited, and came, but was cast forth from the number of the guests because he had not the garment to the glory of the bridegroom; for he who seeks his own glory, not Christ's, has not the wedding garment: for they refuse to agree with him who was the friend of the Bridegroom, and says, "This is He that baptizeth." And deservedly was that which he was not made, by way of rebuke, an objection to him who had not the wedding garment, "Friend, how art thou come hither?" [216] And just as he was speechless, so also are these. For what can tongue-clatter avail when the heart is mute? For they know that inwardly, and with their own selves, they have not anything to say. Within, they are mute; without, they make a din. But whether they will or no, they hear this sung even among themselves, "Arise, O God, judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit among the nations:" and by not communicating with all nations, what do they but acknowledge themselves to be disinherited?

14. Now what I said, brethren, that prophecy extends to all nations (for I wish to show you another meaning in the expression, "Containing two or three metretæ apiece"),--that prophecy, I say, extends to all nations, is pointed out, as we have just now reminded you, in Adam, "who is the figure of Him that was to come." Who does not know that from him all nations are sprung; and that in the four letters of his name the four quarters of the globe, by their Greek appellations, are indicated? For if the east, west, north, and south are expressed in Greek even as Holy Scripture mentions them in various places, the initial letters of the words, thou wilt find, make the word Adam: for in Greek the four quarters of the world are called Anatole, Dysis, Arktos, Mesembria. If thou write these four words, one under the other, like four verses, the capital letters form the word Adam. The same is represented in Noah, by reason of the ark, in which were all animals, significant of all nations: the same in Abraham, to whom it was said more clearly, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed:" the same in David, from whose psalms, to omit other expressions, we have just been singing, "Arise, O God, judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit among all nations." Now to what God is it said "Arise," but to Him who slept? "Arise, O God, judge the earth." As if it were said, Thou hast been asleep, having been judged by the earth; arise, to judge the earth. And whither does that prophecy extend, "For Thou shalt inherit among all nations"?

15. Moreover, in the fifth age, in the fifth water-pot as it were, Daniel saw a stone that had been cut from a mountain without hands, and had broken all the kingdoms of the earth; and he saw the stone grow and become a great mountain, so as to fill the whole face of the earth. [217] What can be plainer, my brethren? The stone is cut from a mountain: the same is the stone which the builders rejected, and is become the head of the corner. [218] From what mountain is it cut, if not from the kingdom of the Jews, of which our Lord Jesus Christ was born according to the flesh? And it is cut without hands, without human exertion; because Christ sprung from a virgin, without a husband's embrace. The mountain from which it was cut had not filled the whole face of the earth; for the kingdom of the Jews did not possess all nations. But, on the other hand, the kingdom of Christ we see occupying the whole world.

16. To the sixth age belongs John the Baptist, than whom none greater has arisen among those born of women; of whom it was said, that he was "greater than a prophet." [219] And how did John show that Christ was sent to all nations? When the Jews came to him to be baptized, that they might not pride themselves on the name of Abraham, he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who has proclaimed to you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance;" that is, be humble; for he was speaking to proud people. But whereof were they proud? Of their descent according to the flesh, not of the fruit of imitating their father Abraham. What said he to them? "Say not, We have Abraham for our father: for God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham." [220] Meaning by stones all nations, not on account of their durable strength, as in the case of that stone which the builders rejected, but on account of their stupidity and their foolish insensibility, because they had become like the things which they were accustomed to worship: for they worshipped senseless images, themselves equally senseless. "They that make them are like them, and so are all they that trust in them." [221] Accordingly, when men begin to worship God, what do they hear said to them? "That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; who maketh His sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." [222] Wherefore, if a man becomes like that which he worships, what is meant by "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham"? Let us ask ourselves and we shall see that it is a fact. For of those nations are we come, but we should not have come of them had not God of the stones raised up children unto Abraham. We are made children of Abraham by imitating his faith, not by being born of his flesh. For just as they by their degeneracy have been disinherited, so have we by imitating been adopted. Therefore, brethren, this prophecy also of the sixth water-pot extended to all nations; and hence it was said concerning all, "containing two or three metretæ apiece."

17. But how do we show that all nations belong to the "two or three metretæ apiece"? It was a matter of reckoning, in some measure, that he should say the same water-pots contained "two apiece," which he had said contained "three apiece;" evidently in order to intimate to us a mystery therein. How are there "two metretæ apiece"? Circumcision and uncircumcision. Scripture mentions these two classes of people, and leaves out no kind of men, when it says, "Circumcision and uncircumcision;" [223] in these two appellations thou hast all nations: they are the two metretæ apiece. In these two walls, meeting from different quarters, "Christ became the corner-stone, in order to make peace in Himself." [224] Let us show also the "three metretæ apiece" in the case of these same all nations. Noah had three sons, through whom the human race was restored. Hence the Lord says, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." [225] What is this woman, but the flesh of the Lord? What is the leaven, but the gospel? What the three measures, but all nations, on account of the three sons of Noah? Therefore the "six water-pots containing two or three metretæ apiece" are six periods of time, containing the prophecy relating to all nations, whether as represented in two sorts of men, namely, Jews and Greeks, as the apostle often mentions them; [226] or in three sorts, on account of the three sons of Noah. For the prophecy was represented as reaching unto all nations. And because of that reaching it is called a measure, [227] even as the apostle says, "We have received a measure for reaching unto you." [228] For in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, he says, "A measure for reaching unto you."

Footnotes

[198] 1 Tim. iv. 3. [199] Matt. xix. 6. [200] 2 Cor. iii. 14-16. [201] Phil. iii. 13. [202] Gen. i. 1. [203] Matt. i. 17. [204] Col. iii. 10. [205] 1 John ii. 15. [206] Rom. viii. 9. [207] 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. [208] Rom. v. 5. [209] John x. 30. [210] Gen. xxii. 18. [211] Eph. iii. 31. [212] Gen. ii. 24. [213] Phil. ii. 6. [214] Rom. v. 14. [215] Ps. lxxxii. 8. [216] Matt. xxii. 13. [217] Dan. ii. 34. [218] Ps. cxviii. 22. [219] Matt. xi. 11. [220] Matt. iii. 9. [221] Ps. cxv. 8. [222] Matt. v. 45. [223] Col. iii. 11. [224] Eph. ii. 14. [225] Luke xiii. 21. [226] Rom. ii. 9; 1 Cor. i. 24, etc. [227] Metreta. [228] 2 Cor. x. 13. .


Tractate X.

Chapter II. 12-21

1. In the psalm you have heard the groaning of the poor, whose members endure tribulations over the whole earth, even unto the end of the world. Make it your chief business, my brethren, to be among and of these members: for all tribulation is to pass away. "Woe to them that rejoice!" [229] "Blessed," says the Truth, "are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." God has become man: what shall man be, for whom God is become man? Let this hope comfort us in every tribulation and temptation of this life. For the enemy does not cease to persecute; and when he does not openly rage, he plots in secret. How does he plot? "And for wrath, they worked deceitfully." [230] Thence is he called a lion and a dragon. But what is said to Christ? "Thou shall tread on the lion and the dragon." Lion, for open rage; dragon, for hidden treachery. The dragon cast Adam out of Paradise; as a lion, the same persecuted the Church, as Peter says: "For your adversary, the devil, goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." [231] Let it not seem to you as if the devil had lost his ferocity. When he blandly flatters, then is he the more vigilantly to be guarded against. But amid all these treacherous devices and temptations of his, what shall we do but that which we have heard in the psalm: "And I, when they were troublesome to me, clothed me in sackcloth, and humbled my soul in fasting." [232] There is one that heareth prayer, hesitate not to pray; but He that heareth abideth within. You need not direct your eyes towards some mountain; you need not raise your face to the stars, or to the sun, or to the moon; nor must you suppose that you are heard when you pray beside the sea: rather detest such prayers. Only cleanse the chamber of thy heart; wheresoever thou art, wherever thou prayest, He that hears is within, within in the secret place, which the psalmist calls his bosom, when he says, "And my prayer shall be turned in my own bosom." [233] He that heareth thee is not beyond thee; thou hast not to travel far, nor to lift thyself up, so as to reach Him as it were with thy hands. Rather, if thou lift thyself up, thou shalt fall; if thou humble thyself, He will draw near thee. Our Lord God is here, the Word of God, the Word made flesh, the Son of the Father, the Son of God, the Son of man; the lofty One to make us, the humble to make us anew, walking among men, bearing the human, concealing the divine.

2. "He went down," as the evangelist says, "to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and they continued there not many days." Behold He has a mother, and brethren, and disciples: whence He has a mother, thence brethren. For our Scripture is wont to call them brethren, not only that are sprung from the same man and woman, or from the same mother, or from the same father, though by different mothers; or, in truth, that are of the same degree as cousins by the father's or mother's side: not these alone is our Scripture wont to call brethren. The Scripture must be understood as it speaks. It has its own language; one who does not know this language is perplexed and says, Whence had the Lord brethren? For surely Mary did not give birth a second time? Far from it! With her begins the dignity of virgins. She could be a mother, but a woman known of man she could not be. She is spoken of as mulier [which usually signifies a wife], but only in reference to her sex, not as implying loss of virgin purity: and this follows from the language of Scripture itself. For Eve, too, immediately she was formed from the side of her husband, and as yet not known of her husband, is, as you know, called mulier: "And he made her a woman [mulier]." Then, whence the brethren? The kinsmen of Mary, of whatever degree, are the brethren of the Lord. How do we prove this? From Scripture itself. Lot is called "Abraham's brother;" [234] he was his brother's son. Read, and thou wilt find that Abraham was Lot's uncle on the father's side, and yet they are called brethren. Why, but because they were kinsmen? Laban the Syrian was Jacob's uncle by the mother's side, for he was the brother of Rebecca, Isaac's wife and Jacob's mother. [235] Read the Scripture, and thou wilt find that uncle and sister's son are called brothers. [236] When thou hast known this rule, thou wilt find that all the blood relations of Mary are the brethren of Christ.

3. But rather were those disciples brethren; for even those kinsmen would not be brethren were they not disciples: and to no advantage brethren, if they did not recognize their brother as their master. For in a certain place, when He was informed that His mother and His brethren were standing without, at the time He was speaking to His disciples, He said: "Who is my mother? or who are my brethren? And stretching out His hand over His disciples, He said, These are my brethren;" and, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, the same is my mother, and brother, and sister." [237] Therefore also Mary, because she did the will of the Father. What the Lord magnified in her was, that she did the will of the Father, not that flesh gave birth to flesh. Give good heed, beloved. Moreover, when the Lord was regarded with admiration by the multitude, while doing signs and wonders, and showing forth what lay concealed under the flesh, certain admiring souls said: "Happy is the womb that bare Thee: and He said, Yea, rather, happy are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." [238] That is to say, even my mother, whom ye have called happy, is happy in that she keeps the word of God: not because in her the Word was made flesh and dwelt in us; but because she keeps that same word of God by which she was made, and which in her was made flesh. Let not men rejoice in temporal offspring, but let them exult if in spirit they are joined to God. We have spoken these things on account of that which the evangelist says, that He dwelt in Capernaum a few days, with His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples.

4. What follows upon this? "And the Jews' passover was at hand; and He went up to Jerusalem." The narrator relates another matter, as it came to his recollection. "And He found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when He had made, as it were, a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple; the oxen likewise, and the sheep; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; and make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." What have we heard, brethren? See, that temple was still a figure, and yet the Lord cast out of it all that sought their own, all who had come to market. And what did they sell there? Things which people needed in the sacrifices of that time. For you know, beloved, that sacrifices were given to that people, in consideration of the carnal mind and stony heart yet in them, to keep them from falling away to idols: and they offered there for sacrifices oxen, sheep, and doves: you know this, for you have read it. It was not a great sin, then, if they sold in the temple that which was bought for the purpose of offering in the temple: and yet He cast them out thence. If, while they were selling what was lawful and not against justice (for it is not unlawful to sell what it is honorable to buy), He nevertheless drove those men out, and suffered not the house of prayer to be made a house of merchandise; how, if He found drunkards there, what would the Lord do? If the house of God ought not to be made a house of trading, ought it to be made a house of drinking? But when we say this, they gnash upon us with their teeth; but the psalm which you have heard comforts us: "They gnashed upon me with their teeth." Yet we know how we may be cured, although the strokes of the lash are multiplied on Christ, for His word is made to bear the scourge: "The scourges," saith He, "were gathered together against me, and they knew not." He was scourged by the scourges of the Jews; He is now scourged by the blasphemies of false Christians: they multiply scourges for their Lord, and know it not. Let us, so far as He aids us, do as the psalmist did: "But as for me, when they were troublesome to me, I put on sackcloth, and humbled my soul with fasting." [239]

5. Yet we say, brethren (for He did not spare those men: He who was to be scourged by them first scourged them), that He gave us a certain sign, in that He made a scourge of small cords, and with it lashed the unruly, who were making merchandise of God's temple. For indeed every man twists for himself a rope by his sins: "Woe to them who draw sins as a long rope?" [240] Who makes a long rope? He who adds sin to sin. How are sins added to sins? When the sins which have been committed are covered over by other sins. One has committed a theft: that he may not be found out to have committed it, he seeks the astrologer. It were enough to have committed theft: why wilt thou add sin to sin? Behold two sins committed. When thou art forbidden to go to the astrologer, thou revilest the bishop: behold three sins. When thou hearest it said of thee, Cast him forth from the Church; thou sayest, I will betake me to the party of Donatus: behold thou addest a fourth sin. The rope is growing; be thou afraid of the rope. It is good for thee to be corrected here, when thou art scourged with it; that it may not be said of thee at the last, "Bind ye his hands and feet, and cast him forth into outer darkness." [241] For, "With the cords of his own sins is every one bound." [242] The former of these is the saying of the Lord, the latter that of another Scripture; but yet both are the sayings of the Lord. With their own sins are men bound and cast into outer darkness.

6. However, to seek the mystery of the deed in the figure, who are they that sell oxen? Who are they that sell sheep and doves? They are they who seek their own in the Church, not the things which are Christ's. They account all a matter of sale, while they will not be redeemed: they have no wish to be bought, and yet they wish to sell. Yes; good indeed is it for them that they may be redeemed by the blood of Christ, that they may come to the peace of Christ. Now, what does it profit to acquire in this world any temporal and transitory thing whatsoever, be it money, or pleasure of the palate, or honor that consists in the praise of men? Are they not all wind and smoke? Do they not all pass by and flee away? Are they not all as a river rushing headlong into the sea? And woe to him who shall fall into it, for he shall be swept into the sea. Therefore ought we to curb all our affections from such desires. My brethren, they that seek such things are they that sell. For that Simon too, wished to buy the Holy Ghost, just because he meant to sell the Holy Ghost; and he thought the apostles to be just such traders as they whom the Lord cast out of the temple with a scourge. For such an one he was himself, and desired to buy what he might sell: he was of those who sell doves. Now it was in a dove that the Holy Ghost appeared. [243] Who, then, are they, brethren, that sell doves, but they who say, "We give the Holy Ghost"? But why do they say this, and at what price do they sell? At the price of honor to themselves. They receive as the price, temporal seats of honor, that they may be seen to be sellers of doves. Let them beware of the scourge of small cords. The dove is not for sale: it is given freely; for grace, or favor, it is called. Therefore, my brethren, just as you see them that sell, common chapmen, each cries up what he sells: how many stalls they have set up! Primianus has a stall at Carthage, Maximianus has another, Rogatus has another in Mauritania, they have another in Numidia, this party and that, which it is not in our power now to name. Accordingly,one goes round to buy the dove, and everyone at his own stall cries up what he sells. Let the heart of such an one turn away from every seller; let him come where he receives freely. Aye, brethren, and they do not blush, that, by these bitter and malicious dissensions of theirs, they have made of themselves so many parties, while they assume to be what they are not, while they are lifted up, thinking themselves to be something when they are nothing. [244] But what is fulfilled in them, since that they will not be corrected, but that which you have heard in the psalm: "They were rent asunder, and felt no remorse"?

7. Well, who sell oxen? They who have dispensed to us the Holy Scriptures are understood to mean the oxen. The apostles were oxen, the prophets were oxen. Whence the apostle says: "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith He it for our sakes? Yea, for our sakes He saith it: that he who ploweth should plow in hope; and he that thresheth, in hope of partaking." [245] Those oxen, then, have left to us the narration of the Scriptures. For it was not of their own that they dispensed, because they sought the glory of the Lord. Now, what have ye heard in that psalm? "And let them say continually, The Lord be magnified, they that wish the peace of His servant." [246] God's servant, God's people, God's Church. Let them who wish the peace of that Church magnify the Lord, not the servant: "and let them say continually, The Lord be magnified." Who, let say? "Them who wish the peace of His servant." The voice of that people, of that servant, is clearly that voice which you have heard in lamentations in the psalm, and were moved at hearing, because you are of that people. What was sung by one, re-echoed from the hearts of all. Happy they who recognized themselves in those voices as in a mirror. Who, then, are they that wish the peace of His servant, the peace of His people, the peace of the one whom He calls His "only one," and whom He wishes to be delivered from the lion: "Deliver mine only one from the power of the dog?" [247] They who say always, "The Lord be magnified." Those oxen, then, magnified the Lord, not themselves. See this ox magnifying his Lord, because "the ox knoweth his owner;" [248] observe that ox in fear lest men desert the ox's owner and rely on the ox: how he dreads them that are willing to put their confidence in him: "Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" [249] Of what I gave, I was not the giver: freely ye have received; the dove came down from heaven. "I have planted," saith he, "Apollo, watered; but God gave the increase: neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." [250] "And let them say always, The Lord be magnified, they that wish the peace of His servant."

8. These men, however, deceive the people by the very Scriptures, that they may receive honors and praises at their hand, and that men may not turn to the truth. But in that they deceive, by the very Scriptures, the people of whom they seek honors, they do in fact sell oxen: they sell sheep too; that is, the common people themselves. And to whom do they sell them, but to the devil? For if the Church be Christ's sole and only one, who is it that carries off whatever is cut away from it, but that lion that roars and goes about, "seeking whom he may devour?" [251] Woe to them that are cut off from the Church! As for her, she will remain entire. "For the Lord knoweth them that are His." [252] These, however, so far as they can, sell oxen and sheep, they sell doves too: let them guard against the scourge of their own sins. But when they suffer some such things for these their iniquities, let them acknowledge that the Lord has made a scourge of small cords, and is admonishing them to change themselves and be no longer traffickers: for if they will not change, they shall at the end hear it said, "Bind ye these men's hands and feet, and cast them forth into outer darkness."

9. "Then the disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up:" because by this zeal of God's house, the Lord cast these men out of the temple. Brethren, let every Christian among the members of Christ be eaten up with zeal of God's house. Who is eaten up with zeal of God's house? He who exerts himself to have all that he may happen to see wrong there corrected, desires it to be mended, does not rest idle: who if he cannot mend it, endures it, laments it. The grain is not shaken out on the threshing-floor that it may enter the barn when the chaff shall have been separated. If thou art a grain, be not shaken out from the floor before the putting into the granary; lest thou be picked up by the birds before thou be gathered into the granary. For the birds of heaven, the powers of the air, are waiting to snatch up something off the threshing-floor, and they can snatch up only what has been shaken out of it. Therefore, let the zeal of God's house eat thee up: let the zeal of God's house eat up every Christian, zeal of that house of God of which he is a member. For thy own house is not more important than that wherein thou hast everlasting rest. Thou goest into thine own house for temporal rest, thou enterest God's house for everlasting rest. If, then, thou busiest thyself to see that nothing wrong be done in thine own house, is it fit that thou suffer, so far as thou canst help, if thou shouldst chance to see aught wrong in the house of God, where salvation is set before thee, and rest without end? For example, seest thou a brother rushing to the theatre? Stop him, warn him, make him sorry, if the zeal of God's house doth eat thee up. Seest thou others running and desiring to get drunk, and that, too, in holy places, which is not decent to be done in any place? Stop those whom thou canst, restrain whom thou canst, frighten whom thou canst, allure gently whom thou canst: do not, however, rest silent. Is it a friend? Let him be admonished gently. Is it a wife? Let her be bridled with the utmost rigor. Is it a maid-servant? Let her be curbed even with blows. Do whatever thou canst for the part thou bearest; and so thou fulfillest, "The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up." But if thou wilt be cold, languid, having regard only to thyself, and as if thyself were enough to thee, and saying in thy heart, What have I to do with looking after other men's sins? Enough for me is the care of my own soul: this let me keep undefiled for God;--come, does there not recur to thy mind the case of that servant who hid his talent and would not lay it out? Was he accused because he lost it, and not because he kept it without profit? [253] So hear ye then, my brethren, that ye may not rest idle. I am about to give you counsel: may He who is within give it; for though it be through me, it is He that gives it. You know what to do, each one of you, in his own house, with his friend, his tenant, his client, with greater, with less: as God grants an entrance, as He opens a door for His word, do not cease to win for Christ; because you were won by Christ.

10. "The Jews said unto Him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" And the Lord answered, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and dost thou say, In three days I will rear it up?" Flesh they were, fleshly things they minded; but He was speaking spiritually. But who could understand of what temple He spoke? But yet we have not far to seek; He has discovered it to us through the evangelist, he has told us of what temple He said it. "But He spake," saith the evangelist, "of the temple of His body." And it is manifest that, being slain, the Lord did rise again after three days. This is known to us all now: and if from the Jews it is concealed, it is because they stand without; yet to us it is open, because we know in whom we believe. The destroying and rearing again of that temple, we are about to celebrate in its yearly solemnity: for which we exhort you to prepare yourselves, such of you as are catechumens that you may receive grace; even now is the time, even now let that be purposed which may then come to the birth. Now, that thing we know.

11. But perhaps this is demanded of us, whether the fact that the temple was forty and six years in building may not have in it some mystery. There are, indeed, many things that may be said of this matter; but what may briefly be said, and easily understood, that we say meanwhile. Brethren, we have said yesterday, if I mistake not, that Adam was one man, and is yet the whole human race. For thus we said, if you remember. He was broken, as it were, in pieces; and, being scattered, is now being gathered together, and, as it were, conjoined into one by a spiritual fellowship and concord. And "the poor that groan," as one man, is that same Adam, but in Christ he is being renewed: because an Adam is come without sin, to destroy the sin of Adam in His own flesh, and that Adam might renew to himself the image of God. Of Adam then is Christ's flesh: of Adam the temple which the Jews destroyed, and the Lord raised up in three days. For He raised His own flesh: see, that He was thus God equal with the Father. My brethren, the apostle says, "Who raised Him from the dead." Of whom says he this? Of the Father. "He became," saith he, "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore also God raised Him from the dead, and gave Him a name which is above every name." [254] He who was raised and exalted is the Lord. Who raised Him? The Father, to whom He said in the psalms, "Raise me up and I will requite them." [255] Hence, the Father raised Him up. Did He not raise Himself? And doeth the Father anything without the Word? What doeth the Father without His only One? For, hear that He also was God. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Did He say, Destroy the temple, which in three days the Father will raise up? But as when the Father raiseth, the Son also raiseth; so when the Son raiseth, the Father also raiseth: because the Son has said, "I and the Father are one." [256]

12. Now, what does the number Forty-six mean? Meanwhile, how Adam extends over the whole globe, you have already heard explained yesterday, by the four Greek letters of four Greek words. For if thou write the four words, one under the other, that is, the names of the four quarters of the world, of east, west, north, and south, which is the whole globe,--whence the Lord says that He will gather His elect from the four winds when He shall come to judgment; [257] --if, I say, you take these four Greek words,--anatole, which is east; dusis, which is west; archtos, which is north; mesembria, which is south; Anatole, Dysis, Arctos, Mesembria,--the first letters of the words make Adam. How, then, do we find there, too, the number forty-six? Because Christ's flesh was of Adam. The Greeks compute numbers by letters. What we make the letter A, they in their tongue put Alpha, a, and Alpha, a, is called one. And where in numbers they write Beta, b, which is their b, it is called in numbers two. Where they write Gamma, g, it is called in their numbers three. Where they write Delta, d, it is called in their numbers four; and so by means of all the letters they have numbers. The letter we call M, and they call My, m, signifies forty; for they say My, m, tessarachonta. Now look at the number which these letters make, and you will find in it that the temple was built in forty-six years. For the word Adam has Alpha, a, which is one: it has Delta, d, which is four; there are five for thee: it has Alpha, a, again, which is one; there are six for thee: it has also My, m, which is forty; there hast thou forty-six. These things, my brethren, were said by our elders before us, and that number forty-six was found by them in letters. And because our Lord Jesus Christ took of Adam a body, not of Adam derived sin; took of him a corporeal temple, not iniquity which must be driven from the temple: and that the Jews crucified that very flesh which He derived from Adam (for Mary was of Adam, and the Lord's flesh was of Mary); and that, further, He was in three days to raise that same flesh which they were about to slay on the cross: they destroyed the temple which was forty-six years in building, and that temple He raised up in three days.

13. We bless the Lord our God, who gathered us together to spiritual joy. Let us be ever in humility of heart, and let our joy be with Him. Let us not be elated with any prosperity of this world, but know that our happiness is not until these things shall have passed way. Now, my brethren, let our joy be in hope: let none rejoice as in a present thing, lest he stick fast in the way. Let joy be wholly of hope to come, desire be wholly of eternal life. Let all sighings breathe after Christ. Let that fairest one alone, who loved the foul to make them fair, be all our desire; after Him alone let us run, for Him alone pant and sigh; "and let them say always, The Lord be magnified, that wish the peace of His servant."

Footnotes

[229] Luke vi. 25. [230] Ps. xxxv. 20. [231] 1 Pet. v. 8. [232] Ps. xxxv. 13. [233] Ps. xxxv. 13. [234] Gen. xiii. 8; xiv. 14. [235] Gen. xxviii. 5. [236] Gen. xxix. 12-15. [237] Matt. xii. 46-50. [238] Luke xi. 27. [239] Ps. xxxv. 13. [240] Isa. v. 18; LXX. [241] Matt. xxii. 3. [242] Prov. v. 22. [243] Matt. iii. 16. [244] Gal. vi. 3. [245] 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10. [246] Ps. xxxv. 27. [247] Ps. xxii. 20. [248] Isa. i. 3. [249] 1 Cor. i. 13. [250] 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. [251] 1 Pet. v. 8. [252] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [253] Matt. xxv. 25-30. [254] Phil. ii. 8. [255] Ps. xli. 11. [256] John x. 30. [257] Mark xiii. 27. .


Tractate XI.

Chapter II. 23-25; III. 1-5

1. Opportunely has the Lord procured for us that this passage should occur in its order to day: for I suppose you have observed, beloved, that we have undertaken to consider and explain the Gospel according to John in due course. Opportunely then it occurs, that to-day you should hear from the Gospel, that, "Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not see the kingdom of God." For it is time that we exhort you, who are still catechumens, who have believed in Christ in such wise, that you are still bearing your sins. And none shall see the kingdom of heaven while burdened with sins; for none shall reign with Christ, but he to whom they have been forgiven: but forgiven they cannot be, but to him who is born again of water and of the Holy Spirit. But let us observe all the words what they imply, that here the sluggish may find with what earnestness they must haste to put off their burden. For were they bearing some heavy load, either of stone, or of wood, or even of some gain; if they were carrying corn, or wine, or money, they would run to put off their loads: they are carrying a burden of sins, and yet are sluggish to run. You must run to put off this burden; it weighs you down, it drowns you.

2. Behold, you have heard that when our Lord Jesus Christ "was in Jerusalem at the Passover, on the feast day, many believed in His name, seeing the signs which He did." "Many believed in His name;" and what follows? "But Jesus did not trust Himself to them." Now what does this mean, "They believed," or trusted, "in His name;" and yet "Jesus did not trust Himself to them;"? Was it, perhaps, that they had not believed on Him, but were feigning to have believed, and that therefore Jesus did not trust Himself to them? But the evangelist would not have said, "Many believed in His name," if he were not giving a true testimony to them. A great thing, then, it is, and a wonderful thing: men believe on Christ, and Christ trusts not Himself to men. Especially is it wonderful, since, being the Son of God, He of course suffered willingly. If He were not willing, He would never have suffered, since, had He not willed it, He had not been born; and if He had willed this only, merely to be born and not to die, He might have done even whatever He willed, because He is the almighty Son of the almighty Father. Let us prove it by facts. For when they wished to hold Him, He departed from them. The Gospel says, "And when they would have cast Him headlong from the top of the mountain, He departed from them unhurt." [258] And when they came to lay hold of Him, after He was sold by Judas the traitor, who imagined that he had it in his power to deliver up his Master and Lord, there also the Lord showed that He suffered of His own will, not of necessity. For when the Jews desired to lay hold of Him, He said to them, "Whom seek ye? But they said, Jesus of Nazareth. And said He, I am He. On hearing this saying, they went backward, and fell to the ground." [259] In this, that in answering them He threw them to the ground, He showed His power; that in His being taken by them He might show His will. It was of compassion, then, that He suffered. For "He was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification." [260] Hear His own words: "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again: no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself, that I may take it again." [261] Since, therefore, He had such power, since He declared it by words, showed it by deeds, what then does it mean that Jesus did not trust Himself to them, as if they would do Him some harm against His will, or would do something to Him against His will, especially seeing that they had already believed in His name? Moreover, of the same persons the evangelist says, "They believed in His name," of whom he says, "But Jesus did not trust Himself to them." Why? "Because He knew all men, and needed not that any should bear witness of man: for Himself knew what was in man." The artificer knew what was in His own work better than the work knew what was in itself. The Creator of man knew what was in man, which the created man himself knew not. Do we not prove this of Peter, that he knew not what was in himself, when he said, "With Thee, even to death"? Hear that the Lord knew what was in man: "Thou with me even to death? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." [262] The man, then, knew not what was in himself; but the Creator of the man knew what was in the man. Nevertheless, many believed in His name, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them. What can we say, brethren? Perhaps the circumstances that follow will indicate to us what the mystery of these words is. That men had believed in Him is manifest, is true; none doubts it, the Gospel says it, the truth-speaking evangelist testifies to it. Again, that Jesus trusted not Himself to them is also manifest, and no Christian doubts it; for the Gospel says this also, and the same truth-speaking evangelist testifies to it. Why, then, is it that they believed in His name, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them? Let us see what follows.

3. "And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus by name, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Him by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi (you already know that Master is called Rabbi), we know that Thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these signs which Thou doest, except God be with him." This Nicodemus, then, was of those who had believed in His name, as they saw the signs and prodigies which He did. For this is what he said above: "Now, when He was in Jerusalem at the passover on the feast-day, many believed in His name." Why did they believe? He goes on to say, "Seeing His signs which He did." And what says he of Nicodemus? "There was a ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus by name the same came to Him by night, and says to Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God." Therefore this man also had believed in His name. And why had he believed? He goes on, "For no man can do these signs which Thou doest, except God be with him." If, therefore, Nicodemus was of those who had believed in His name, let us now consider, in the case of this Nicodemus, why Jesus did not trust Himself to them. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Therefore to them who have been born again doth Jesus trust Himself. Behold, those men had believed on Him, and yet Jesus trusted not Himself to them. Such are all catechumens: already they believe in the name of Christ, but Jesus does not trust Himself to them. Give good heed, my beloved, and understand. If we say to a catechumen, Dost thou believe on Christ, he answers, I believe, and signs himself; already he bears the cross of Christ on his forehead, and is not ashamed of the cross of his Lord. Behold, he has believed in His name. Let us ask him, Dost thou eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink the blood of the Son of man? He knows not what we say, because Jesus has not trusted Himself to him.

4. Therefore, since Nicodemus was of that number, he came to the Lord, but came by night; and this perhaps pertains to the matter. Came to the Lord, and came by night; came to the Light, and came in the darkness. But what do they that are born again of water and of the Spirit hear from the apostle? "Ye were once darkness, but now light in the Lord; walk as children of light;" [263] and again, "But we who are of the day, let us be sober." [264] Therefore they who are born again were of the night, and are of the day; were darkness, and are light. Now Jesus trusts Himself to them, and they come to Jesus, not by night, like Nicodemus; not in darkness do they seek the day. For such now also profess: Jesus has come near to them, has made salvation in them; for He said, "Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him." [265] And as the catechumens have the sign of the cross on their forehead, they are already of the great house; but from servants let them become sons. For they are something who already belong to the great house. But when did the people Israel eat the manna? After they had passed the Red Sea. And as to what the Red Sea signifies, hear the apostle: "Moreover, brethren, I would not have you ignorant, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea." To what purpose passed they through the sea? As if thou wert asking of him, he goes on to say, "And all were baptized by Moses in the cloud and in the sea." [266] Now, if the figure of the sea had such efficacy, how great will be the efficacy of the true form of baptism! If what was done in a figure brought the people, after they had crossed over, to the manna, what will Christ impart, in the verity of His baptism, to His own people, brought over through Himself? By His baptism He brings over them that believe; all their sins, the enemies as it were that pursue them, being slain, as all the Egyptians perished in that sea. Whither does He bring over, my brethren? Whither does Jesus bring over by baptism, of which Moses then showed the figure, when he brought them through the sea? Whither? To the manna. What is the manna? "I am," saith He, "the living bread, which came down from heaven." [267] The faithful receive the manna, having now been brought through the Red Sea? Why Red Sea? Besides sea, why also "red"? That "Red Sea" signified the baptism of Christ. How is the baptism of Christ red, but as consecrated by Christ's blood? Whither, then, does He lead those that believe and are baptized? To the manna. Behold, "manna," I say: what the Jews, that people Israel, received, is well known, well known what God had rained on them from heaven; and yet catechumens know not what Christians receive. Let them blush, then, for their ignorance; let them pass through the Red Sea, let them eat the manna, that as they have believed in the name of Jesus, so likewise Jesus may trust Himself to them.

5. Therefore mark, my brethren, what answer this man who came to Jesus by night makes. Although he came to Jesus, yet because he came by night, he still speaks from the darkness of his own flesh. He understands not what he hears from the Lord, understands not what he hears from the Light, "which lighteth every man that cometh into this world." [268] Already hath the Lord said to him, "Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born again when he is old?" The Spirit speaks to him, and he thinks of the flesh. He thinks of his own flesh, because as yet he thinks not of Christ's flesh. For when the Lord Jesus had said, "Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him," some who followed Him were offended, and said among themselves, "This is a hard saying; who can hear it?" For they fancied that, in saying this, Jesus meant that they would be able to cook Him, after being cut up like a lamb, and eat Him: horrified at His words, they went back, and no more followed Him. Thus speaks the evangelist: "And the Lord Himself remained with the twelve; and they said to Him, Lo, those have left Thee. And He said, Will ye also go away?"--wishing to show them that He was necessary to them, not they necessary to Christ. Let no man fancy that he frightens Christ, when he tells Him that he is a Christian; as if Christ will be more blessed if thou be a Christian. It is a good thing for thee to be a Christian; but if thou be not, it will not be ill for Christ. Hear the voice of the psalm, "I said to the Lord, Thou art my God, since Thou hast no need of my goods." [269] For that reason, "Thou art my God, since of my goods Thou hast no need." If thou be without God, thou wilt be less; if thou be with God, God will not be greater. Not from thee will He be greater, but thou without Him wilt be less. Grow, therefore, in Him; do not withdraw thyself, that He may, as it were, diminish. Thou wilt be renewed if thou come to Him, wilt suffer loss if thou depart from Him. He remains entire when thou comest to Him, remains entire even when thou fallest away. When, therefore, He had said to His disciples, "Will ye also go away?" Peter, that Rock, answered with the voice of all, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Pleasantly savored the Lord's flesh in his mouth. The Lord, however, expounded to them, and said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth." After He had said, "Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him," lest they should understand it carnally, He said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing: the words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and life." [270]

6. This Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night, did not savor of this spirit and this life. Saith Jesus to him, "Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God." And he, savoring of his own flesh, while as yet he savored not of the flesh of Christ in his mouth, saith, "How can a man be born a second time, when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" This man knew but one birth, that from Adam and Eve; that which is from God and the Church he knew not yet: he knew only those parents that bring forth to death, knew not yet the parents that bring forth to life; he knew but the parents that bring forth successors, knew not yet the ever-living parents that bring forth those that shall abide.

Whilst there are two births, then, he understood only one. One is of the earth, the other of heaven; one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit; one of mortality, the other of eternity; one of male and female, the other of God and the Church. But these two are each single; there can be no repeating the one or the other. Rightly did Nicodemus understand the birth of the flesh; so understand thou also the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus understood the birth of the flesh. What did Nicodemus understand? "Can a man enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" Thus, whosoever shall tell thee to be spiritually born a second time, answer in the words of Nicodemus, "Can a man enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" I am already born of Adam, Adam cannot beget me a second time. I am already born of Christ, Christ cannot beget me again. As there is no repeating from the womb, so neither from baptism.

7. He that is born of the Catholic Church, is born, as it were, of Sarah, of the free woman; he that is born of heresy is, as it were, born of the bond woman, but of Abraham's seed. Consider, beloved, how great a mystery. God testifies, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Were there not other patriarchs? Before these, was there not holy Noah, who alone of the whole human race, with all his house, was worthy to be delivered from the flood,--he in whom, and in his sons, the Church was prefigured? Borne by wood, they escaped the flood. Then afterwards great men whom we know, whom Holy Scriptures commends, Moses faithful in all his house. [271] And yet those three are named, just as if they alone deserved well of him: "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this is my name for ever." [272] Sublime mystery! It is the Lord that is able to open both our mouth and your hearts, that we may speak as He has deigned to reveal, and that you may receive even as it is expedient for you.

8. The patriarchs, then, are these three, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You know that the sons of Jacob were twelve, and thence the people Israel; for Jacob himself is Israel, and the people Israel in twelve tribes pertaining to the twelve sons of Israel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob three fathers, and one people. The fathers three, as it were in the beginning of the people; three fathers in whom the people was figured: and the former people itself the present people. For in the Jewish people was figured the Christian people. There a figure, here the truth; there a shadow, here the body: as the apostle says, "Now these things happened to them in a figure." It is the apostle's voice: "They were written," saith he, "for our sakes, upon whom the end of the ages is come." [273] Let your mind now recur to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the case of these three, we find that free women bear children, and that bond women bear children: we find there offspring of free women, we find there also offspring of bond women. The bond woman signifies nothing good: "Cast out the bond woman," saith he, "and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free." The apostle recounts this; and he says that in those two sons of Abraham was a figure of the two Testaments, the Old and the New. To the Old Testament belong the lovers of temporal things, the lovers of the world: to the New Testament belong the lovers of eternal life. Hence, that Jerusalem on earth was the shadow of the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all, which is in heaven; and these are the apostle's words. [274] And of that city from which we are absent on our sojourn, you know much, you have now heard much. But we find a wonderful thing in these births, in these fruits of the womb, in these generations of free and bond women: namely, four sorts of men; in which four sorts is completed the figure of the future Christian people, so that what was said in the case of those three patriarchs is not surprising, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." For in the case of all Christians, observe, brethren, either good men are born of evil men, or evil men of good; or good men of good, or evil men of evil: more than these four sorts you cannot find. These things I will again repeat: Give heed, keep them, excite your hearts, be not dull; take in, lest ye be taken, how of all Christians there are four sorts. Either of the good are born good, or of the evil, are born evil; or of the good are born evil, or of the evil good. I think it is plain. Of the good, good; if they who baptize are good, and also they who are baptized rightly believe, and are rightly numbered among the members of Christ. Of the evil, evil; if they who baptize are evil, and they who are baptized approach God with a double heart, and do not observe the morals which they hear urged in the Church, so as not to be chaff, but grain, there. How many such there are, you know, beloved. Of the evil, good; sometimes an adulterer baptizes, and he that is baptized is justified. Of the good, evil; sometimes they who baptize are holy, they who are baptized do not desire to keep the way of God.

9. I suppose, brethren, that this is known in the Church, and that what we are saying is manifest by daily examples; but let us consider these things in the case of our fathers before us, how they also had these four kinds. Of the good, good; Ananias baptized Paul. How of the evil, evil? The apostle declares that there were certain preachers of the gospel, who, he says, did not use to preach the gospel with a pure motive, whom, however, he tolerates in the Christian society, saying, "What then, notwithstanding every way, whether by occasion or in truth, Christ is preached, and in this I rejoice." [275] Was he therefore malevolent, and did he rejoice in another's evil? No, but rejoiced because through evil men the truth was preached, and by the mouths of evil men Christ was preached. If these men baptized any persons like themselves, evil men baptized evil men: if they baptized such as the Lord admonishes, when He says, "Whatsoever they bid you, do; but do not ye after their works," [276] they were evil men that were baptizing good. Good men baptized evil men, as Simon the sorcerer was baptized by Philip, a holy man. [277] Therefore these four sorts, my brethren, are known. See, I repeat them again, hold them, count them, think upon them; guard against what is evil; keep what is good. Good men are born of good, when holy men are baptized by holy; evil men are born of evil, when both they that baptize and they that are baptized live unrighteously and ungodly; good men are born of evil, when they are evil that baptize, and they good that are baptized; evil men are born of good, when they are good that baptize, and they evil that are baptized.

10. How do we find this in these three names, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"? We hold the bond women among the evil, and the free women among the good. Free women bear the good; Sarah bare Isaac: bond women bear the evil; Hagar bare Ishmael. We have in the case of Abraham alone the two sorts, both when the good are of the good, and also when the evil are of the evil. But where have we evil of good figured? Rebecca, Isaac's wife, was a free woman: read, She bare twins; one was good, the other evil. Thou hast the Scripture openly declaring by the voice of God, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." [278] Rebecca bare those two, Jacob and Esau: one of them is chosen, the other is reprobated; one succeeds to the inheritance, the other is disinherited. God does not make His people of Esau, but makes it of Jacob. The seed is one, those conceived are dissimilar: the womb is one, those born of it are diverse. Was not the free woman that bare Jacob, the same free woman that bare Esau? They strove in the mother's womb; and when they strove there, it was said to Rebecca, "Two peoples are in thy womb." Two men, two peoples; a good people, and a bad people: but yet they strive in one womb. How many evil men there are in the Church! And one womb carries them until they are separated in the end: and the good cry out against the evil, and the evil in turn cry out against the good, and both strive together in the bowels of one mother. Will they be always together? There is a going forth to the light in the end; the birth which is here figured in a mystery is declared; and it will then appear that "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."

11. Accordingly we have now found, brethren, of the good, good--of the free woman, Isaac; and of the evil, evil--of the bond woman, Ishmael; and of the good, evil--of Rebecca, Esau: where shall we find of the evil, good? There remains Jacob, that the completion of these four sorts may be concluded in the three patriarchs. Jacob had for wives free women, he had also bond women: the free bear children, as do also the bond, and thus come the twelve sons of Israel. If you count them all, of whom they were born, they were not all of the free women, nor all of the bond women; but yet they were all of one seed. What, then, my brethren? Did not they who were born of the bond women possess the land of promise together with their brethren? We have there found good sons of Jacob born of bond women, and good sons of Jacob born of free women. Their birth of the wombs of bond women was nothing against them, when they knew their seed in the father, and consequently they held the kingdom with their brethren. Therefore, as in the case of Jacob's sons, that they were born of bond women did not hinder their holding the kingdom, and receiving the land of promise on an equality with their brothers; their birth of bond women did not hinder them, but the father's seed prevailed: so, whoever are baptized by evil men, appear as if born of bond women; nevertheless, because they are of the seed of the Word of God, which is figured in Jacob, let them not be cast down, they shall possess the inheritance with their brethren. Therefore, let him who is born of the good seed be without fear; only let him not imitate the bond woman, if he is born of a bond woman. Do not thou imitate the evil, proud, bond woman. For how came the sons of Jacob, that were born of bond women, to possess the land of promise with their brethren, whilst Ishmael, born of a bond woman, was cast out from the inheritance? How, but because he was proud, they were humble? He proudly reared his neck, and wished to seduce his brother while he was playing with him.

12. A great mystery is there. They were playing together, Ishmael and Isaac: Sarah sees them playing, and says to Abraham, "Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." And when Abraham was sorrowful, the Lord confirmed to him the saying of his wife. Now here is evidently a mystery, that the event was somehow pregnant with something future. She sees them playing, and says, "Cast out the bond woman and her son." What is this, brethren? For what evil had Ishmael done to the boy Isaac, in playing with him? That playing was a mocking; that playing signified deception. Now attend, beloved, to this great mystery. The apostle calls it persecution; that playing, that play, he calls persecution: for he says, "But as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also now;" that is, they that are born after the flesh persecute them that are born after the Spirit. Who are born after the flesh? Lovers of the world, lovers of this life. Who are born after the Spirit? Lovers of the kingdom of heaven, lovers of Christ, men that long for eternal life, that worship God freely. They play, and the apostle calls it persecution. For after he said these words, "And as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also now;" the apostle went on, and showed of what persecution, he was speaking: "But what says the Scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son: for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." [279] We search where the Scripture says this, to see whether any persecution on Ishmael's part against Isaac preceded this; and we find that this was said by Sarah when she saw the boys playing together. The playing which Scripture says that Sarah saw, the apostle calls persecution. Hence, they who seduce you by playing, persecute you the more. "Come," say they, "Come, be baptized here, here is true baptism for thee." Do not play, there is one true baptism; that other is play: thou wilt be seduced, and that will be a grievous persecution to thee. It were better for thee to make Ishmael a present of the kingdom; but Ishmael will not have it, for he means to play. Keep thou thy father's inheritance, and hear this: "Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac."

13. These men, too, dare to say that they are wont to suffer persecution from catholic kings, or from catholic princes. What persecution do they bear? Affliction of body: yet if at times they have suffered, and how they suffered, let themselves know, and settle it with their consciences; still they suffered only affliction of body: the persecution which they cause is more grievous. Beware when Ishmael wishes to play with Isaac, when he fawns on thee, when he offers another baptism: answer him, I have baptism already. For if this baptism is true, he who would give thee another would be mocking thee. Beware of the persecution of the soul. For though the party of Donatus has at times suffered somewhat at the hands of catholic princes, it was a bodily suffering, not the suffering of spiritual deception. Hear and see in the very facts of Old Testament history all the signs and indications of things to come. Sarah is found to have afflicted her maid Hagar: Sarah is free. After her maid began to be proud, Sarah complained to Abraham, and said, "Cast out the bond woman;" she has lifted her neck against me. His wife complains of Abraham, as if it were his doing. But Abraham, who was not bound to the maid by lust, but by the duty of begetting children, inasmuch as Sarah had given her to him to have offspring by her, says to her: "Behold, she is thy handmaid; do unto her as thou wilt." And Sarah grievously afflicted her, and she fled from her face. See, the free woman afflicted the bond woman, and the apostle does not call that a persecution; the slave plays with his master, and he calls it persecution: this afflicting is not called persecution; that playing is. How does it appear to you, brethren? Do you not understand what is signified? Thus, then, when God wills to stir up powers against heretics, against schismatics, against those that scatter the Church, that blow on Christ as if they abhorred Him, that blaspheme baptism, let them not wonder; because God stirs them up, that Hagar may be beaten by Sarah. Let Hagar know herself, and yield her neck: for when, after being humiliated, she departed from her mistress, an angel met her, and said to her, "What is the matter with thee, Hagar, Sarah's handmaid?" When she complained of her mistress, what did she hear from the angel? "Return to thy mistress." [280] It is for this that she is afflicted, that she may return; and would that she may return, for her offspring, just like the sons of Jacob, will obtain the inheritance with their brethren.

14. But they wonder that Christian powers are roused against detestable scatterers of the Church. Should they not be moved, then? How otherwise should they give an account of their rule to God? Observe, beloved, what I say, that it concerns Christian kings of this world to wish their mother the Church, of which they have been spiritually born, to have peace in their times. We read Daniel's visions and prophetical histories. The three children praised the Lord in the fire: King Nebuchadnezzar wondered at the children praising God, and at the fire around them doing them no harm: and whilst he wondered, what did King Nebuchadnezzar say, he who was neither a Jew nor circumcised, who had set up his own image and compelled all men to adore it; but, impressed by the praises of the three children when he saw the majesty of God present in the fire what said he? "And I will publish a decree to all tribes and tongues in the whole earth." What sort of decree? "Whosoever shall speak blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut off, and their houses shall be made a ruin." [281] See how an alien king acts with raging indignation that the God of Israel might not be blasphemed, because He was able to deliver the three children from the fire: and yet they would not have Christian kings to act with severity when Christ is contemptuously rejected, by whom not three children, but the whole world, with these very kings, is delivered from the fire of hell! For those three children, my brethren, were delivered from temporal fire. Is He not the same God who was the God of the Maccabees and the God of the three children? The latter He delivered from the fire; the former did in body perish in the torments of fire, but in mind they remained steadfast in the ordinances of the law. The latter were openly delivered, the former were crowned in secret. [282] It is a greater thing to be delivered from the flame of hell than from the furnace of a human power. If, then, Nebuchadnezzar praised and extolled and gave glory to God because He delivered three children from the fire, and gave such glory as to send forth a decree throughout his kingdom, "Whosoever shall speak blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut off, and their houses shall be brought to ruin," how should not these kings be moved, who observe, not three children delivered from the flame, but their very selves delivered from hell, when they see Christ, by whom they have been delivered, contemptuously spurned in Christians, when they hear it said to a Christian, "Say that thou art not a Christian"? Men are willing to do such deeds, but they do not wish to suffer, at all events, such punishments.

15. For see what they do and what they suffer. They slay souls, they suffer in body: they cause everlasting deaths, and yet they complain that they themselves suffer temporal deaths. And yet what deaths do they suffer? They allege to us some martyrs of theirs in persecution. See, Marculus was hurled headlong from a rock; see, Donatus of Bagaia was thrown into a well. When have the Roman authorities decreed such punishments as casting men down rocks? But what do those of our party reply? What was done I know not; what however do ours tell? That they flung themselves headlong and cast the infamy of it upon the authorities. Let us call to mind the custom of the Roman authorities, and see to whom we are to give credit. Our men declare that those men cast themselves down headlong. If they are not the very disciples of those men, who now cast themselves down precipices, while no man persecutes them, let us not credit the allegation of our men: what wonder if those men did what these are wont to do? The Roman authorities never did employ such punishments: for had they not the power to put them to death openly? But those men, while they wished to be honored when dead, found not a death to make them more famous. In short, whatever the fact was, I do not know. And even if thou hast suffered corporal affliction, O party of Donatus, at the hand of the Catholic Church, as an Hagar thou hast suf fered it at the hand of Sarah; "return to thy mistress." A point which it was indeed necessary to discuss has detained us somewhat too long to be at all able to expound the whole text of the Gospel Lesson. Let this suffice you in the meantime, beloved brethren, lest, by speaking of other matters, what has been spoken might be shut out from your hearts. Hold fast these things, declare such things; and while yourselves are inflamed, go your way thither, and set on fire them that are cold.

Footnotes

[258] Luke iv. 30. [259] John xviii. 4-6. [260] Rom. iv. 25. [261] John x. 18. [262] Matt. xxvi. 33, 34; Luke xxii. 33, 34. [263] Eph. v. 8. [264] 1 Thess. v. 8. [265] John vi. 54. [266] 1 Cor. x. 1. [267] John vi. 51. [268] John i. 9. [269] Ps. xvi. 2. [270] John vi. 54-59. [271] Num. xii. 7. [272] Ex. iii. 6, 15. [273] 1 Cor. x. 11. [274] Gen. xxi. 10; Gal. iv. 22-30. [275] Phil. i. 18. [276] Matt. xxiii. 3. [277] Acts viii. 13. [278] Mal. i. 3; Rom. ix. 13. [279] Gen. xxi. 9-12; Gal. iv. 30. [280] Gen. xvi. 9. [281] Dan. iii. [282] 2 Macc. vii. .


Tractate XII.

Chapter III. 6-21

1. We observe, beloved, that the intimation with which we yesterday excited your attention has brought you together with more alacrity, and in greater number than usual; but meanwhile let us, if you please, pay our debt of a discourse on the Gospel Lesson, which comes in due course. You shall then hear, beloved, as well what we have already effected concerning the peace of the Church, and what we hope yet further to accomplish. For the present, then, let the whole attention of your hearts be given to the gospel; let none be thinking of anything else. For if he who attends to it wholly apprehends with difficulty, must not he who divides himself by diverse thoughts let go what he has received? Moreover, you remember, beloved, that on the last Lord's day, as the Lord deigned to help us, we discoursed of spiritual regeneration. That lesson we have caused to be read to you again, so that what was then left unspoken, we may now, by the aid of your prayers in the name of Christ, fulfill.

2. Spiritual regeneration is one, just as the generation of the flesh is one. And Nicodemus said the truth when he said to the Lord that a man cannot, when he is old, return again into his mother's womb and be born. He indeed said that a man cannot do this when he is old, as if he could do it even were he an infant. But be he fresh from the womb, or now in years, he cannot possibly return again into the mother's bowels and be born. But just as for the birth of the flesh, the bowels of woman avail to bring forth the child only once, so for the spiritual birth the bowels of the Church avail that a man be baptized only once. Therefore, in case one should say, "Well, but this man was born in heresy, and this in schism:" all that was cut away, if you remember what was debated to you about our three fathers, of whom God willed to be called the God, not that they were thus alone but because in them alone the figure of the future people was made up in its completeness. For we find one born of a bond woman disinherited, one born of a free woman made heir: again, we find one born of a free woman disinherited, one born of a bond woman made heir. Ishmael, born of a bond woman, disinherited; Isaac, born of a free woman, made heir: Esau, born of a free woman, disinherited; the sons of Jacob, born of bond women, made heirs. Thus, in these three fathers the figure of the whole future people is seen: and not without reason God saith, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this," saith He, "is my name for ever." [283] Rather let us remember what was promised to Abraham himself: for this was promised to Isaac, and also to Jacob. What do we find? "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." [284] At that time the one man believed what as yet he saw not: men now see, and are blinded. What was promised to the one man is fulfilled in the nations; and they who will not see what is already fulfilled, are separating themselves from the communion of the nations. But what avails it them that they will not see? See they do, whether they will or no; the open truth strikes against their closed eyes.

3. It was in answer to Nicodemus, who was of them that had believed on Jesus, that it was said, And Jesus did not trust Himself to them. To certain men, indeed, He did not trust Himself, though they had already believed on Him. Thus it is written, "Many believed in His name, seeing the signs which He did. But Jesus did not trust Himself to them. For He needed not that any should testify of man; for Himself knew what was in man." Behold, they already believed on Jesus, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them. Why? because they were not yet born again of water and of the Spirit. From this have we ex horted and do exhort our brethren the catechumens. For if you ask them, they have already believed in Jesus; but because they have not yet received His flesh and blood, Jesus has not yet trusted Himself to them. What must they do that Jesus may trust Himself to them? They must be born again of water and of the Spirit; the Church that is in travail with them must bring them forth. They have been conceived; they must be brought forth to the light: they have breasts to be nourished at; let them not fear lest, being born, they may be smothered; let them not depart from the mother's breasts.

4. No man can return into his mother's bowels and be born again. But some one is born of a bond woman? Well, did they who were born of bond women at the former time, return into the wombs of the free to be born anew? The seed of Abraham was in Ishmael also; but that Abraham might have a son of the bond maid, it was at the advice of his wife. The child was of the husband's seed, not of the womb, but at the sole pleasure of the wife. Was his birth of a bond woman the reason why he was disinherited? Then, if he was disinherited because he was the son of a bond woman, no sons of bond women would be admitted to the inheritance. The sons of Jacob were admitted to the inheritance; but Ishmael was put out of it, not because born of a bond woman, but because he was proud to his mother, proud to his mother's son; for his mother was Sarah rather than Hagar. The one gave her womb, the other's will was added: Abraham would not have done what Sarah willed not: therefore was he Sarah's son rather. But because he was proud to his brother, proud in playing, that is, in mocking him; what said Sarah? "Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." [285] It was not, therefore, the bowels of the bond woman that caused his rejection, but the slave's neck. For the free-born is a slave if he is proud, and, what is worse, the slave of a bad mistress, of pride itself. Thus, my brethren, answer the man, that a man cannot be born a second time; answer fearlessly, that a man cannot be born a second time. Whatever is done a second time is mockery, whatever is done a second time is play. It is Ishmael playing, let him be cast out. For Sarah observed them playing, saith the Scripture, and said to Abraham, "Cast out the bond woman and her son." The playing of the boys displeased Sarah. She saw something strange in their play. Do not they who have sons like to see them playing? She saw and disapproved it. Something or other she saw in their play; she saw mockery in it, observed the pride of the slave; she was displeased with it, and she cast him out. The children of bond women, when wicked, are cast out; and the child of the free woman, when an Esau, is cast out. Let none, therefore, presume on his birth of good parents; let none presume on his being baptized by holy men. Let him that is baptized by holy men still beware lest he be not a Jacob, but an Esau. This would I say then, brethren, it is better to be baptized by men that seek their own and love the world, which is what the name of bond woman imports, and to be spiritually seeking the inheritance of Christ, so as to be as it were a son of Jacob by a bond woman, than to be baptized by holy men and to become proud, so as to be an Esau to be cast out, though born of a free woman. Hold ye this fast, brethren. We are not coaxing you, let none of your hope be in us; we flatter neither ourselves nor you; every man bears his own burden. It is our duty to speak, that we be not judged unhappily: yours to hear, and that with the heart, lest what we give be required of you; nay, that when it is required, it may be found a gain, not a loss.

5. The Lord says to Nicodemus, and explains to him: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Thou, says He, understandest a carnal generation, when thou sayest, Can a man return into his mother's bowels? The birth for the kingdom of God must be of water and of the Spirit. If one is born to the temporal inheritance of a human father, be he born of the bowels of a carnal mother; if one is born to the everlasting inheritance of God as his Father, be he born of the bowels of the Church. A father, as one that will die, begets a son by his wife to succeed him; but God begets of the Church sons, not to succeed Him, but to abide with Himself. And He goes on: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." We are born spiritually then, and spirit we are born by the word and sacrament. The Spirit is present that we may be born; the Spirit is invisibly present whereof thou art born, for thou too must be invisibly born. For He goes on to say: "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth." None sees the Spirit; and how do we hear the Spirit's voice? There sounds a psalm, it is the Spirit's voice; the gospel sounds, it is the Spirit's voice; the divine word sounds, it is the Spirit's voice. "Thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." But if thou art born of the Spirit, thou too shall be so, that one who is not born of the Spirit knows not, as for thee, whence thou comest, or whither thou goest. For He said, as He went on, "So is also every one that is born of the Spirit."

6. "Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be?" And, in fact, in the carnal sense, he knew not how. In him occurred what the Lord had said; the Spirit's voice he heard, but knew not whence it came, and whither it was going. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" Oh, brethren! what? do we think that the Lord meant to taunt scornfully this master of the Jews? The Lord knew what He was doing; He wished the man to be born of the Spirit. No man is born of the Spirit if he be not humble, for humility itself makes us to be born of the Spirit; "for the Lord is nigh to them that are of broken heart." [286] The man was puffed up with his mastership, and it appeared of some importance to himself that he was a teacher of the Jews. Jesus pulled down his pride, that he might be born of the Spirit: He taunted him as an unlearned man; not that the Lord wished to appear his superior. What comparison can there be, God compared to man, truth to falsehood? Christ greater than Nicodemus! Ought this to be said, can it be said, is it to be thought? If it were said, "Christ is greater than angels," it were ridiculous: for incomparably greater than every creature is He by whom every creature was made. But yet He rallies the man on his pride: "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" As if He said, Behold, thou knowest nothing, thou art a proud chief; be thou born of the Spirit: for if thou be born of the Spirit, thou wilt keep the ways of God, so as to follow Christ's humility. So, indeed, is He high above all angels, that, "being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant, being made into the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man: He humbled Himself, being made obedient unto death" (and lest any kind of death should please thee), "even the death of the cross." [287] He hung on the cross, and they scoffed at Him. He could have come down from the cross; but He deferred, that He might rise again from the tomb. He, the Lord, bore with proud slaves; [288] the physician with the sick. If He did this, how ought they to act whom it behoves to be born of the Spirit!--if He did this, He who is the true Master in heaven, not of men only, but also of angels. For if the angels are learned, they are so by the Word of God. If they are learned by the Word of God, ask of what they are learned; and you shall find, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The neck of man is done away with, only the hard and stiff neck, that it may be gentle to bear the yoke of Christ, of which it is said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." [289]

7. And He goes on, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?" What earthly things did He tell, brethren? "Except a man be born again;" is that an earthly thing? "The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth;" is that earthly? For if He spoke it of the wind, as some have understood it, when they were asked what earthly thing the Lord meant, when He said, "If I told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?"--when, I say, it was asked of certain men what "earthly thing" the Lord meant, being in difficulty, they said, What He said, "The Spirit bloweth where it listeth," and "its voice thou hearest, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth," He said concerning the wind. Now what did He name earthly? He was speaking of the spiritual birth; and going on, saith, "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." Then, brethren, which of us does not see, for example, the south wind going from south to north, or another wind coming from east to west? How, then, know we not whence it cometh and whither it goeth? What earthly thing, then, did He tell, which men did not believe? Was it that which He had said about raising the temple again? Surely, for He had received His body of the earth, and that earth taken of the earthly body He was preparing to raise up. They did not believe Him as about to raise up earth. "If I told you earthly things," saith He, "and ye believe not; how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?" That is, if ye believe not that I can raise up the temple cast down by you, how shall ye believe that men can be regenerated by the Spirit?

8. And He goes on: "And no man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." Behold, He was here, and was also in heaven; was here in His flesh, in heaven by His divinity; yea, everywhere by His divinity. Born of a mother, not quitting the Father. Two nativities of Christ are understood: one divine, the other human: one, that by which we were to be made; the other, that by which we were to be made anew: both marvellous; that without mother, this without father. But because He had taken a body of Adam,--for Mary was of Adam,--and was about to raise that same body again, it was an earthly thing He had said in saying, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." But this was a heavenly thing, when He said, "Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not see the kingdom of God." Come then, brethren! God has willed to be the Son of man; and willed men to be sons of God. He came down for our sakes; let us ascend for His sake. For He alone descended and ascended, He who saith, "No man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven." Are they not therefore to ascend into heaven whom He makes sons of God? Certainly they are: this is the promise to us, "They shall be equal to the angels of God." [290] Then how is it that no man ascends, but He that descended? Because one only descended, only one ascends. What of the rest? What are we to understand, but that they shall be His members, that one may ascend? Therefore it follows that "no man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." Dost thou marvel that He was both here and in heaven? Such He made His disciples. Hear the Apostle Paul saying, "But our conversation is in heaven." [291] If the Apostle Paul, a man, walked in the flesh on earth, and yet had his conversation in heaven, was the God of heaven and earth not able to be both in heaven and on earth?

9. Therefore, if none but He descended and ascended, what hope is there for the rest? The hope for the rest is this, that He came down in order that in Him and with Him they might be one, who should ascend through Him. "He saith not, And to seeds," saith the apostle, "as in many; but as in one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." And to believers he saith, "And ye are Christ's; and if Christ's, then are Abraham's seed." [292] What he said to be one, that he said that we all are. Hence, in the Psalms, many sometimes sing, to show that one is made of many; sometimes one sings, to show what is made of many. Therefore was it only one that was healed in the pool; and whoever else went down into it was not healed. Now this one shows forth the oneness of the Church. Woe to them who hate unity, and make to themselves parties among men! Let them hear him who wished to make them one, in one, for one: let them hear him who says, Be not ye making many: "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. But neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." [293] They were saying, "I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas." And he says, "Is Christ divided?" Be ye in one, be one thing, be one person: "No man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven." Lo! we wish to be thine, they said to Paul. And he said to them, I will not that ye be Paul's, but be ye His whose is Paul together with you.

10. For He came down and died, and by that death delivered us from death: being slain by death, He slew death. And you know, brethren, that this death entered into the world through the devil's envy. "God made not death," saith the Scripture, "nor delights He in the destruction of the living; but He created all things to be." But what saith it here? "But by the devil's envy, death entered into the whole world." [294] To the death offered for our entertainment by the devil, man would not come by constraint; for the devil had not the power of forcing, but only cunning to persuade. Hadst thou not consented, the devil had brought in nothing: thy own consenting, O man, led thee to death. Of the mortal are mortals born; from immortals we are become mortals. From Adam all men are mortal; but Jesus the Son of God, the Word of God, by which all things were made, the only Son equal with the Father, was made mortal: "for the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."

11. He endured death, then; but death He hanged on the cross, and mortal men are delivered from death. The Lord calls to mind a great matter, which was done in a figure with them of old: "And as Moses," saith He, "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that every one who believeth on Him may not perish, but have everlasting life." A great mystery is here, as they who read know. Again, let them hear, as well they who have not read as they who have forgotten what perhaps they had heard or read. The people Israel were fallen helplessly in the wilderness by the bite of serpents; they suffered a great calamity by many deaths: for it was the stroke of God correcting and scourging them that He might instruct them. In this was shown a great mystery, the figure of a thing to come: the Lord Himself testifies in this passage, so that no man can give another interpretation than that which the truth indicates concerning itself. Now Moses was ordered by the Lord to make a brazen serpent, and to raise it on a pole in the wilderness, and to admonish the people Israel, that, when any had been bitten by a serpent, he should look to that serpent raised up on the pole. This was done: men were bitten; they looked and were healed. [295] What are the biting serpents? Sins, from the mortality of the flesh. What is the serpent lifted up? The Lord's death on the cross. For as death came by the serpent, it was figured by the image of a serpent. The serpent's bite was deadly, the Lord's death is life-giving. A serpent is gazed on that the serpent may have no power. What is this? A death is gazed on, that death may have no power. But whose death? The death of life: if it may be said, the death of life; ay, for it may be said, but said wonderfully. But should it not be spoken, seeing it was a thing to be done? Shall I hesitate to utter that which the Lord has deigned to do for me? Is not Christ the life? And yet Christ hung on the cross. Is not Christ life? And yet Christ was dead. But in Christ's death, death died. Life dead slew death; the fullness of life swallowed up death; death was absorbed in the body of Christ. So also shall we say in the resurrection, when now triumphant we shall sing, "Where, O death, is thy contest? Where, O death, is thy sting?" [296] Meanwhile brethren, that we may be healed from sin, let us now gaze on Christ crucified; for "as Moses," saith He, "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth on Him may not perish, but have everlasting life." Just as they who looked on that serpent perished not by the serpent's bites, so they who look in faith on Christ's death are healed from the bites of sins. But those were healed from death to temporal life; whilst here He saith, "that they may have everlasting life." Now there is this difference between the figurative image and the real thing: the figure procured temporal life; the reality, of which that was the figure, procures eternal life.

12. "For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him may be saved." So far, then, as it lies in the physician, He is come to heal the sick. He that will not observe the orders of the physician destroys himself. He is come a Saviour to the world: why is he called the Saviour of the world, but that He is come to save the world, not to judge the world? Thou wilt not be saved by Him; thou shalt be judged of thyself. And why do I say, "shall be judged"? See what He says: "He that believeth on Him is not judged, but he that believeth not." What dost thou expect He is going to say, but "is judged"? "Already," saith He, "has been judged." The judgment has not yet appeared, but already it has taken place. For the Lord knoweth them that are His: He knows who are persevering for the crown, and who for the flame; knows the wheat on His threshing-floor, and knows the chaff; knows the good corn, and knows the tares. He that believeth not is already judged. Why judged? "Because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God."

13. "And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." My brethren, whose works does the Lord find to be good? The works of none: He finds the works of all evil. How is it, then, that some have done the truth, and are come to the light? For this is what follows: "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." In what way have some done a good work to come to the light, namely, to Christ? And how have some loved darkness? For if He finds all men sinners, and healeth all of sin, and that serpent in which the Lord's death was figured healed them that were bitten, and on account of the serpent's bite the serpent was set up, namely, the Lord's death on account of mortal men, whom He finds unrighteous; how are we to understand that "this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil"? How is this? Whose works, in fact, are good? Hast Thou not come to justify the ungodly? "But they loved," saith He, "darkness rather than light." There He laid the emphasis: for many loved their sins; many confessed their sins; and he who confesses his sins, and accuses them, doth now work with God. God accuses thy sins: and if thou also accusest, thou art united to God. There are, as it were, two things, man and sinner. That thou art called man, is God's doing; that thou art called sinner, is man's own doing. Blot out what thou hast done, that God may save what He has done. It behoves thee to hate thine own work in thee, and to love the work of God in thee. And when thy own deeds will begin to displease thee, from that time thy good works begin, as thou findest fault with thy evil works. The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works. Thou doest the truth, and comest to the light. How is it thou doest the truth? Thou dost not caress, nor soothe, nor flatter thyself; nor say, "I am righteous," whilst thou art unrighteous: thus, thou beginnest to do the truth. Thou comest to the light, that thy works may be made manifest that they are wrought in God; for thy sin, the very thing that has given thee displeasure, would not have displeased thee, if God did not shine into thee, and His truth show it thee. But he that loves his sins, even after being admonished, hates the light admonishing him, and flees from it, that his works which he loves may not be proved to be evil. But he that doeth truth accuses his evil works in himself, spares not himself, forgives not himself, that God may forgive him: for that which he desires God to forgive, he himself acknowledges, and he comes to the light; to which he is thankful for showing him what he should hate in himself. He says to God, "Turn away Thy face from my sins:" yet with what countenance says it, unless he adds, "For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me?" [297] Be that before thyself which thou desirest not to be before God. But if thou wilt put thy sin behind thee, God will thrust it back before thine eyes; and this He will do at a time when there will be no more fruit of repentance.

14. Run, my brethren, lest the darkness lay hold of you. Awake to your salvation, awake while there is time; let none be kept back from the temple of God, none kept back from the work of the Lord, none called away from continual prayer, none be defrauded of wonted devotion. Awake, then, while it is day: the day shines, Christ is the day. He is ready to forgive sins, but to them that acknowledge them; ready to punish the self-defenders, who boast that they are righteous, and think themselves to be something when they are nothing. But he that walks in His love and mercy, even being free from those great and deadly sins, such crimes as murder, theft, adultery; still, because of those which seem to be minute sins, of tongue, or of thought, or of intemperance in things permitted, he doeth the truth in confession, and cometh to the light in good works: since many minute sins, if they be neglected, kill. Minute are the drops that swell the rivers; minute are the grains of sand; but if much sand is put together, the heap presses and crushes. Bilge-water neglected in the hold does the same thing as a rushing wave. Gradually it leaks in through the hold; and by long leaking in and no pumping out, it sinks the ship. Now what is this pumping out, but by good works, by sighing, fasting, giving, forgiving, so to effect that sins may not overwhelm us? The path of this life, however, is troublesome, full of temptations: in prosperity, let it not lift us up; in adversity, let it not crush us. He who gave the happiness of this world gave it for thy comfort, not for thy ruin. Again, He who scourgeth thee in this life, doeth it for thy improvement, not for thy condemnation. Bear the Father that corrects thee for thy training, lest thou feel the judge in punishing thee. These things we tell you every day, and they must be often said, because they are good and wholesome.

Footnotes

[283] Ex. iii. 6, 15. [284] Gen. xxii. 18. [285] Gen. xxi. 9, 10. [286] Ps. xxxiv. 18. [287] Phil. ii. 6-8. [288] Matt. xi. 30. [289] Matt. xi. 30. [290] Matt. xxii. 30. [291] Phil. iii. 20. [292] Gal. iii. 16, 29. [293] 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. [294] Wisd. i. 2. [295] Num. xxi. 6-9. [296] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [297] Ps. li. 11. .


Tractate XIII.

Chapter III. 22-29

1. The course of reading from the Gospel of John, as those of you who are concerned for your own progress may remember, so proceeds in regular order, that the passage which has now been read comes before us for exposition to-day. You remember that we have expounded it, in the preceding discourses, from the very beginning of the Gospel, as far as the lesson of to-day. And though perhaps you have forgotten much of it, at least it remains in your memory that we have done our part in it. What you have heard from it about the baptism of John, even though you retain not all, yet I believe you have heard that which you may retain. Also, what was said as to why the Holy Spirit appeared in the shape of a dove; and how that most knotty question was solved, namely, what was that something in the Lord which John did not know, and which he learned by means of the dove, whilst already John knew Him, since, as Jesus came to be baptized, he said to Him, "I ought to be baptized by Thee, and comest Thou to me?" when the Lord answered him, "Suffer it now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled." [298]

2. Now, therefore, the order of our reading obliges us to return to that same John. The same is he who was prophesied of by Isaiah, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye a way for the Lord, make His paths straight." [299] Such testimony gave he to his Lord and (for the Lord deemed him worthy) his friend. And the Lord, even his friend, did also Himself bear witness to John. For concerning John He said, "Among them that are born of women, there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist." But as He put Himself before John, in that wherein He was greater, He was God. "But he that is less," saith He, "in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." [300] Less in age; greater in power, in deity, in majesty, in brightness: even as "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In the preceding passages, however, John had given testimony to the Lord, in such wise that he did indeed call Him Son of God, but said not that He was God, nor yet denied it: he was silent as to His being God, not denied that He was God; but yet he was not altogether silent as to His being God, for perhaps we find this in the lesson of to-day. He had called Him Son of God; but men, too, have been called sons of God. He had declared Him to be of such excellence, that he was not himself worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe. Now this greatness gives us much to understand: whose shoe-latchet he was not worthy to loose, he than whom none greater had arisen among them that are born of women. He was more, indeed, than all men and angels. For we find an angel forbidding a man to fall at his feet. For example, when in the Apocalypse an angel was showing certain things to John, the writer of this Gospel, John, terrified at the greatness of the vision, fell down at the angel's feet. But said the angel, "Rise; see thou do it not: worship God, for I am thy fellow-servant, and the brethren's." [301] An angel, then, forbade a man to fall down at his feet. Is it not manifest that He must be above all angels, for whom a man, such that a greater than he has not risen among them that are born of women, declares himself to be not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe?

3. John, however, may say something more evidently, that our Lord Jesus Christ is God. We may find this in the present passage, that it is perhaps of Him we have been singing, "The Lord reigned over all the earth;" against which they are deaf who imagine that He reigns only in Africa. But let them not suppose that it is not of Christ it is spoken when it is said, "God reigned over all the earth." For who else is our King, but our Lord Jesus Christ? It is He that is our King. And what have you heard in the same psalm, in the verse just sung? "Sing praises to our God, sing praises: sing praises to our King, sing praises." Whom he called God, the same he called our King: "Sing praises to our God, sing praises: sing praises to our King, sing ye praises with understanding." And that thou shouldest not understand Him to whom thou singest praises to reign in one part, he says, "For God is King of all the earth." [302] And how is He King of all the earth, who appeared in one part of the earth, in Jerusalem, in Judea,walking among men, born, sucking the breast, growing, eating, drinking, waking, sleeping, sitting at a well, wearied; laid hold of, scourged, spat upon,crowned with thorns, hanged on a tree, wounded with a spear, dead, buried? How then King of all the earth? What was seen locally was flesh, to carnal eyes only flesh was visible; the immortal majesty was concealed in mortal flesh. And with what eyes shall we be able to behold the immortal majesty, after penetrating through the structure of the flesh? There is another eye, there is an inner eye. Tobias, for example, was not without eyes, when, blind in his bodily eyes, he was giving precepts of life to his son. [303] The son was holding the father's hand, that the father might walk with his feet, whilst the father was giving the son counsel to walk in the way of righteousness. Here I see eyes, and there I understand eyes. And better are the eyes of him that gives counsel of life, than his who holds the hand. Such eyes Jesus also required when He said to Philip, "Am I so long time with you, and ye have not known me?" Such eyes He required when He said, "Philip, he that seeth me, seeth the Father." These are the eyes of the understanding, these are the eyes of the mind. It is for that reason that the psalm, when it had said, "For God is King of all the earth," immediately added, "Sing ye praises with understanding." For in that I say, "Sing ye praises to our God," I say that God is our King. But yet our King you have seen among men, as man; you have seen Him suffering, crucified, dead: there was in that flesh something concealed, which you might have seen with eyes of flesh. What was there concealed? "Sing ye praises with understanding." Do not seek to see with the eyes what is beheld by the mind. "Sing praises" with the tongue, for He is among you as flesh; but because "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," render the sound to the flesh, render to God the gaze of the mind. "Sing ye praises with understanding," and you see that the "Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."

4. Now let John also declare his witness: "After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized." Being baptized, He baptized. Not with that baptism with which He was baptized did He baptize. The Lord, being baptized by a servant, gives baptism, showing the path of humility and leading to the baptism of the Lord, that is, His own baptism, by giving an example of humility, in not Himself refusing baptism from a servant. And in the baptism by a servant, a way was prepared for the Lord; the Lord also being baptized, made Himself a way for them that come to Him. Let us hear Himself: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." If thou seekest truth, keep the way, for the way and the truth are the same. The way that thou art going is the same as the whither thou art going: thou art not going by a way as one thing, to an object as another thing; not coming to Christ by something else as a way, thou comest to Christ by Christ. How by Christ to Christ? By Christ the man, to Christ God; by the Word made flesh, to the Word which in the beginning was God with God; from that which man ate, to that which angels daily eat. For so it is written, "He gave them bread of heaven: man ate the bread of angels." [304] What is the bread of angels? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." How has man eaten the bread of angels? "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."

5. But though we have said that angels eat, do not fancy, brethren, that this is done with teeth. For if you think so, God, of whom the angels eat, is as it were torn in pieces. Who tears righteousness in pieces? But still, some one asks me, And who is it that can eat righteousness? Well, how is it said, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled"? The food which thou eatest carnally perishes, in order to refresh thee; to repair thy waste it is consumed: eat righteousness; and while thou art refreshed, it continues entire. Just as by seeing this corporeal light, these eyes of ours are refreshed, and yet it is a corporeal thing that is seen by corporeal eyes. Many there have been, when too long in darkness, whose eyesight is weakened by fasting, as it were, from light. The eyes, deprived of their food (for they feed on light), become wearied by fasting, and weakened, so that they cannot bear to see the light by which they are refreshed; and if the light is too long absent, they are quenched, and the very sense of sight dies as it were in them. What then? Does the light become less, because so many eyes are daily fed by it? Thy eyes are refreshed, and the light remains entire. As God was able to show this in the case of corporeal light to corporeal eyes, does He not show that other light to clean hearts as unwearied, continuing entire, and in no respect failing? What light? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." Let us see if this is light. "For with Thee is the fountain of light, and in Thy light shall we see light." On earth, fountain is one thing, light another. When thirsting, thou seekest a fountain, and to get to the fountain thou seekest light; and if it is not day, thou lightest a lamp to get to the fountain. That fountain is the very light: to the thirsting a fountain, to the blind a light. Let the eyes be opened to see the light, let the lips of the heart be opened to drink of the fountain; that which thou drinkest, thou seest, thou hearest. God becomes all to thee; for He is to thee the whole of these things which thou lovest. If thou regardest things visible, neither is God bread, nor is God water, nor is God this light, nor is He garment nor house. For all these are things visible, and single separate things. What bread is, water is not; and what a garment is, a house is not; and what these things are, God is not, for they are visible things. God is all this to thee: if thou hungerest, He is bread to thee; if thou thirstest, He is water to thee; if thou art in darkness, He is light to thee: for He remains incorruptible. If thou art naked, He is a garment of immortality to thee, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. All things can be said of God, and nothing is worthily said of God. Nothing is wider than this poverty of expression. Thou seekest a fitting name for Him, thou canst not find it; thou seekest to speak of Him in any way soever, thou findest that He is all. What likeness have the lamb and the lion? Both is said of Christ. "Behold the Lamb of God!" How a lion? "The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed." [305]

6. Let us hear John: "Jesus baptized." We said that Jesus baptized. How Jesus? How the Lord? How the Son of God? How the Word? Well, but the Word was made flesh. "And John also was baptizing in Ænon, near to Salim." A certain lake, "Ænon." [306] How do we know it was a lake? "Because there was much water there, and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison." If you remember (see, I say it again), I told you why John baptized: because the Lord must needs be baptized. And why must the Lord be baptized? Because many there would be to despise baptism, that they might appear to be endowed with greater grace than they saw other believers endowed with. For example, a catechumen, now living continently, might despise a married person, and say of himself that he was better than the other believer. That catechumen might possibly say in his heart, "What need have I to receive baptism, to have just what that other man has, than whom I am already better?" Therefore, lest that neck of pride should hurl to destruction certain men much elated with the merits of their own righteousness, the Lord was willing to be baptized by a servant, as if addressing His chief sons: "Why do you extol yourselves? Why lift yourselves up because you have, one prudence, another learning, another chastity, another the courage of patience? Can you possibly have as much as I who gave you these? And yet I was baptized by a servant, you disdain to be baptized by the Lord." This is the sense of "to fulfill all righteousness."

7. But some one will say, "It were enough, then, that John baptized only the Lord; what need was there for others to be baptized by John?" Now we have said this too, that if John had baptized only the Lord, men would not be without this thought, that John had a better baptism than the Lord had. They would say, in fact, "So great was the baptism of John, that Christ alone was worthy to be baptized therewith." Therefore, to show that the baptism which the Lord was to give was better than that of John,--that the one might be understood as that of a servant, the other as that of the Lord,--the Lord was baptized to give an example of humility; but He was not the only one baptized by John, lest John's baptism should appear to be better than the baptism of the Lord. To this end, however, our Lord Jesus Christ showed the way, as you have heard, brethren, lest any man, arrogating to himself that he has abundance of some particular grace, should disdain to be baptized with the baptism of the Lord. For whatever the catechumen's proficiency, he still carries the load of his iniquity: it is not forgiven him until he shall have come to baptism. Just as the people Israel were not rid of the Egyptians until they had come to the Red Sea, so no man is rid of the pressure of sins until he has come to the font of baptism.

8. "Then there arose a question on the part of John's disciples with the Jews about purifying." John baptized, Christ baptized. John's disciples were moved; there was a running after Christ, people were coming to John. Those who came to John, he sent to Jesus to be baptized; but they who were baptized by Christ were not sent to John. John's disciples were alarmed, and began to dispute with the Jews, as usually happens. Understand the Jews to have declared that Christ was greater, and that to His baptism people ought to have recourse. John's disciples, not yet understanding this, defended John's baptism. They came to John himself, that he might solve the question. Understand, beloved. And here we are given to see the use of humility, and, when people were erring in the subject of dispute, are shown whether John desired to glory in himself. Now probably he said, "You say the truth, you contend rightly; mine is the better baptism, I baptized Christ Himself." John could say this after Christ was baptized. If he wished to exalt himself, what an opportunity he had to do so! But he knew better before whom to humble himself: to Him whom he knew to have come after himself by birth, he willingly yielded precedence by confessing Him. He understood his own salvation to be in Christ. He had already said above, "We all have received out of His fullness;" and this is to confess Him to be God. For how can all men receive of His fullness, if He be not God? For if He is man in such wise that He is not God, then Himself also receives of the fullness of God, and so is not God. But if all men receive of His fullness, He is the fountain, they are drinkers. They that drink of a fountain, both thirst and drink. The fountain never thirsts; it has never need of itself. Men need a fountain. With thirsty stomachs and parched lips they run to the fountain to be refreshed. The fountain flows to refresh, so does the Lord Jesus.

9. Let us see, then, what answer John gives: "They came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him:" that is, What sayest thou? Ought they not to be hindered, that they may rather come to thee? "He answered and said, A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven." Of whom, think you, had John said this? Of himself. "As a man, I received," saith he, "from heaven." Note, my beloved: "A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ." As much as to say, "Why do ye deceive yourselves? See how you have put this question before me. What have you said to me? `Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness.' Then you know what sort of witness I bare to Him. Am I now to say that He is not the same whom I declared Him to be? And because I received somewhat from heaven, in order to be something, do you wish me to be empty of it, so as to speak against the truth? `A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said I am not the Christ.'" Thou art not the Christ; but what if thou art greater than He since thou didst baptize Him? "I am sent:" I am the herald, He is the Judge.

10. But hear a far stronger, a far more expressive testimony. See ye what it is we are treating of; see ye that to love any person in place of Christ is adultery. Why do I say this? Let us attend to the voice of John. People could be mistaken in him, could think him to be the person he was not. He rejects the false honor, in order to hold the truth complete. See what he declares Christ to be; what does he say himself is? "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." Be chaste, love the bridegroom. But what art thou, who sayest to us, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom? But the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." The Lord our God will help me in proportion to the tumult of my heart, for it is full of sadness, to utter the grief I feel; but I beseech you by Christ Himself to imagine in thought what it will not be possible for me to utter; for I know that my grief cannot be expressed with befitting impressiveness. Now I see many adulterers who desire to get possession of the bride, purchased at so great a price, loved while deformed that she might be made fair, having been purchased and delivered and adorned by such an one; and those adulterers strive with their words to be loved instead of the bridegroom. Of that One it is said, "This is He that baptizeth." [307] Who is he that goes forth from us and says, "I am he that baptizeth"? Who is he that goes forth from us and says, "That is holy which I give"? Who is he that goes hence and says, "It is good for thee to be born of me"? Let us hear the friend of the bridegroom, not the adulterers against the bridegroom; let us hear one jealous, but not for himself.

11. Brethen, return in thought to your own homes. I speak of carnal, I speak of earthly things; I speak after the manner of men, for the infirmity of your flesh. Many of you have, many of you wish to have, many, though you wish not to have, still have had wives; many who do not at all wish to have wives, are born of the wives of your fathers. This is a feeling that touches every heart. There is no man so alien from mankind in human affairs as not to feel what I say. Suppose that a man, having set out on a journey, had commended his bride to the care of his friend: "See, I pray thee, thou art my dear friend; see to it, lest in my absence some other may perchance be loved in my stead." Then what sort of a person must he be, who, while the guardian of the bride or wife of his friend, does indeed endeavor that none other be loved, but if he wishes himself to be loved instead of his friend, and desires to enjoy her who was committed to his care, how detestable must he appear to all mankind! Let him see her gazing out of the window, or joking with some one somewhat too heedlessly, he forbids her as one who is jealous. I see him jealous, but let me see for whom he is jealous; whether for his absent friend or for his present self. Think that our Lord Jesus Christ has done this. He has committed His bride to the care of His friend; He has set out on a journey to a far country to receive a kingdom, as He says Himself in the Gospel, [308] but yet is present in His majesty. Let the friend who has gone beyond the sea be deceived; and if he is deceived, woe to him who deceives! Why do men attempt to deceive God,--God who looks at the hearts of all, and searches the secrets of all? But some heretic shows himself, and says, "'Tis I that give, 'tis I that sanctify, 'tis I that justify; go not thou to that other sect." He does well indeed to be jealous, but see for whom. "Go not thou to idols," saith he,--he is rightly jealous; "nor to diviners,"--still rightly jealous. Let us see for whom he is jealous: "What I give is holy, because it is I that give it; he is baptized whom I baptize; he whom I baptize not is not baptized." Hear thou the friend of the bridegroom, learn to be jealous for thy friend; hear His voice who is "He that baptizeth." Why desire to arrogate to thyself what is not thine? Is he so very absent who has left here his bride? Knowest thou not, that He who rose from the dead is sitting at the right hand of the Father? If the Jews despised Him hanging on the tree, dost thou despise Him sitting in heaven? Be assured, beloved, that I suffer great grief of this matter; but, as I have said, I leave the rest to your thoughts. I cannot utter it if I speak the whole day. If I bewail it the whole day, I do not enough. I cannot utter it, if I should have, as the prophet says, "a fountain of tears;" and were I changed into tears, and to become all tears, were I turned into tongues, and to become all tongues, it were not enough.

12. Let us return and see what this John saith: "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom;" she is not my bride. And dost thou not rejoice in the marriage? Yea, saith he, I do rejoice: "But the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the voice of the bridegroom." Not because of mine own voice, saith he, do I rejoice, but because of the Bridegroom's voice. I am in the place of hearer; He, of speaker: I am as one that must be enlightened, He is the light; I am as the ear, He is the word. Therefore the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him. Why standeth? Because he falls not. How falls not? Because he is humble. See him standing on solid ground; "I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe." Thou doest well to be humble; deservedly thou dost not fall; deservedly thou standest, and hearest Him, and rejoicest greatly for the Bridegroom's voice. So also the apostle is the Bridegroom's friend; he too is jealous, not for himself, but for the Bridegroom. Hear his voice when he is jealous: "I am jealous over you," said he, "with the jealousy of God:" not with my own, nor for myself, but with the jealousy of God. Why? How? Over whom art thou jealous, and for whom? "For I have espoused you to one husband, to present a chaste virgin to Christ." Why dost thou fear, then? Why art thou jealous? "I fear," saith he, "lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the chastity which is in Christ." [309] The whole Church is called a virgin. You see that the members of the Church are divers, that they are endowed with and do rejoice in divers gifts: some men wedded, some women wedded; some are widowers who seek no more to have wives, some are widows who seek no more to have husbands; some men preserve continence from their youth, some women have vowed their virginity to God: divers are the gifts, but all these are one virgin. Where is this virginity, for it is not in the body. It belongs to few women; and if virginity can be said of men, to few men in the Church belongs a holy integrity even of body; yet one such is a more honorable member. Other members, however, preserve virginity, not in body, but all in mind. What is the virginity of the mind? Entire faith, firm hope, sincere charity. This is the virginity which he, who, was jealous for the Bridegroom, feared might be corrupted by the serpent. For, just as the bodily member is marred in a certain part, so the seduction of the tongue defiles the virginity of the heart. Let her who does not desire without cause to keep virginity of body, see to it that she be not corrupted in mind.

13. What shall I say, then, brethren? Even the heretics have virgins, and there are many virgins among heretics. Let us see whether they love the Bridegroom, so that this virginity may be guarded. For whom is it guarded? "For Christ." Let us see if it be for Christ, and not for Donatus: let us see for whom this virginity is preserved: you can easily prove. Behold, I show you the Bridegroom, for He shows Himself. John bears witness to Him: "This is He that baptizeth." O thou virgin, if for this Bridegroom thou preservest thy virginity, why runnest thou to him who says, "I am he that baptizeth," while the friend of the Bridegroom tells thee, "This is He that baptizeth"? Again, thy Bridegroom possesseth the whole world; why, then, shouldst thou be defiled with a part of it? Who is the Bridegroom? "For God is King of all the earth." This thy Bridegroom possesses the whole, because He purchased the whole. See at what price He purchased it, that thou mayest understand what He has purchased. What price has He given? He gave His blood. Where gave He, where shed He, His blood? In His passion. Is it not to thy Bridegroom thou singest, or feignest to sing, when the whole world was purchased: "They pierced my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones: but they themselves considered me, they looked upon me, they divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots"? Thou art the bride, acknowledge thy Bridegroom's vesture. Upon what vesture was the lot cast? Ask the Gospel; see to whom thou art espoused, see from whom thou receivest pledges. Ask the Gospel; see what it tells thee in the suffering of the Lord. "There was a coat" there: let us see what kind; "woven from the top throughout." What does the coat woven from the top signify, but charity? What does this coat signify, but unity? Consider this coat, which not even the persecutors of Christ divided. For it saith, "They said among themselves, Let us not divide it, but let us cast lots upon it." Behold that of which the psalm spoke! Christ's persecutors did not rend His garment; Christians divide the Church.

14. But what shall I say, brethren? Let us see plainly what He purchased. For there He bought, where He paid the price. Paid it for how much? If He paid it only for Africa, let us be Donatists, and not be called Donatists, but Christians; since Christ bought only Africa: although even here are other than Donatists. But He has not been silent of what He bought in this transaction. He has made up the account: thanks be to God, He has not tricked us. Need there is for that bride to hear, and then to understand to whom she has vowed her virginity. There, in that psalm where it says, "They pierced my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones;" wherein the Lord's passion is most openly declared;--the psalm which is read every year on the last week, in the hearing of the whole people, at the approach of Christ's passion; and this psalm is read both among them and us;--there, I say, note, brethren, what He has bought: let the bill of merchandise be read: hear ye what He bought: "All the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His sight: for the kingdom is His, and He shall rule the nations." Behold what it is He has bought! Behold! "For God, the King of all the earth," is thy Bridegroom. Why, then, wouldst thou have one so rich reduced to rags? Acknowledge Him: He bought the whole; yet thou sayest, "Thou hast a part of it here." Oh, would that thou wert well-pleasing to thy Spouse; would that thou who speakest wert not defiled, and, what is worse, defiled in heart, not in body! Thou lovest a man instead of Christ; lovest one that says, "'Tis I that baptize;" not hearing the friend of the Bridegroom when he says, "This is He that baptizeth;" not hearing him when he says, "He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom." I have not the bride, said he; but what am I? "But the friend of the Bridegroom, who standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly, because of the Bridegroom's voice."

15. Evidently, then, my brethren, it profits those men nothing to keep virginity, to have continence, to give alms. All those doings which are praised in the Church profit them nothing; because they rend unity, namely, that "coat" of charity. What do they? Many among them are eloquent; great tongues, streams of tongues. Do they speak like angels? Let them hear the friend of the Bridegroom, jealous for the Bridegroom, not for himself: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." [310]

16. But what say they? "We have baptism." Thou hast, but not thine. It is one thing to have, another to own. Baptism thou hast, for thou hast received to be baptized, received as one enlightened, provided thou be not darkened of thyself; and when thou givest, thou givest as a minister, not as owner; as a herald proclaiming, not as a judge. The judge speaks through the herald, and nevertheless it is not written in the registers, "The herald said," but, "The judge said." Therefore see if what thou givest is thine by authority. But if thou hast received, confess with the friend of the Bridegroom, "A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven." Confess with the friend of the Bridegroom, "He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him." But O, would thou didst stand and hear Him, and not fall, to hear thyself! For by hearing Him, thou wouldst stand and hear; for thou wilt speak, and thy head is puffed with pride. I, saith the Church, if I am the bride, if I have received pledges, if I have been redeemed at the price of that blood, do hear the voice of the Bridegroom; and I do hear the voice of the Bridegroom's friend too, if he give glory to my Bridegroom, not to himself. Let the friend speak: "He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him, and rejoices greatly because of the voice of the Bridegroom." Behold, thou hast sacraments; and I grant that thou hast. Thou hast the form, but thou art a branch cut off from the vine; thou hast a form, I want the root. There is no fruit of the form, except where there is a root; but where is the root but in charity? Hear the form of the cut-off branches; let Paul speak: "Though I know all mysteries," saith he, "and have all prophecy, and all faith" (and how great a faith!), "so as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."

17. Let no man tell you fables, then. "Pontius wrought a miracle; and Donatus prayed, and God answered him from heaven." In the first place, either they are deceived, or they deceive. In the last place, grant that he removes mountains: "And have not charity," saith the apostle, "I am nothing." Let us see whether he has charity. I would believe that he had, if he had not divided unity. For against those whom I may call marvel-workers, my God has put me on my guard, saying, "In the last times there shall arise false prophets, doing signs and wonders, to lead into error, if it were possible, even the elect: Lo, I have foretold it to you." [311] Therefore the Bridegroom has cautioned us, that we ought not to be deceived even by miracles. Sometimes, indeed, a deserter frightens a plain countryman; but whether he is of the camp, and whether he is the better of that character with which he is marked, is what he who would not be frightened or seduced attends to. Let us then, my brethren, hold unity: without unity, even he who works miracles is nothing. The people Israel was in unity, and yet wrought no miracles: Pharaoh's magicians were out of unity, and yet they wrought the like works as Moses." [312] The people Israel, as I have said, wrought no miracles. Who were saved with God--they who did, or they who did not, work miracles? The Apostle Peter raised a dead person: Simon Magus did many things: there were there certain Christians who were not able to do either what Peter did or what Simon did; and wherein did they rejoice? In this, that their names were written in heaven. For this is what our Lord Jesus Christ said to the disciples on their return, because of the faith of the Gentiles. The disciples, in truth, themselves said, boasting, "Behold, Lord, in Thy name even the devils are subject to us." Rightly indeed they confessed, they brought the honor to the name of Christ; and yet what does He say to them? "Do not ye glory in this, that the devils are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." [313] Peter cast out devils. Some old widow, some lay person or other, having charity, and holding the integrity of faith, forsooth does not do this. Peter is the eye in the body, that man is the finger, yet is he in the same body in which Peter is; and if the finger has less power than the eye, yet it is not cut off from the body. Better is it to be a finger and to be in the body, than to be an eye and to be plucked out of the body.

18. Therefore, my brethren, let no man deceive you, let no man seduce you: love the peace of Christ, who was crucified for you, whilst He was God. Paul says, "Neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth, but God who giveth the increase." [314] And does any of us say that he is something? If we say that we are something, and give not the glory to Him, we are adulterers; we desire ourselves to be loved, not the Bridegroom. Love ye Christ, and us in Him, in whom also you are beloved by us. Let the members love one another, but live all under the Head. With grief indeed, my brethren, I have been obliged to speak much, and yet I have said little: I have not been able to finish the passage; God will help us to finish it in due season. I did not wish to burden your hearts further; I wish them to be free for sighs and prayers in behalf of those who are still deaf and do not understand.

Footnotes

[298] Matt. iii. 14. [299] Isa. xl. 3. [300] Matt. xi. 11. [301] Rev. xxii. 8, 9. [302] Ps. xlvii. 3-8. [303] Tobit iv. [304] Ps. lxxviii. 24. [305] Rev. v. 5. [306] [An error.] [307] John i. 33. [308] Luke xix. 12. [309] 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. [310] 1 Cor. xiii. 1. [311] Mark xiii. 22, 23. [312] Ex. vii. 12. [313] Luke x. 17. [314] 1 Cor. iii. 7. .


Tractate XIV.

Chapter III. 29-36

1. This lesson from the holy Gospel shows us the excellency of our Lord Jesus Christ's divinity, and the humility of the man who earned the title of the Bridegroom's friend; that we may distinguish between the man who is man, and the Man who is God. For the Man who is God is our Lord Jesus Christ, God before all ages, Man in the age of our world: God of the Father, man of the Virgin, yet one and the same Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Son of God, God and man. But John, a man of distinguished grace, was sent before Him, a man enlightened by Him who is the Light. For of John it is said, "He was not the Light, but that he should bear witness of the Light." He may himself be called a light indeed, and rightly so; but an enlightened, not an enlightening light. The light that enlightens, and that which is enlightened, are different things: for even our eyes are called lights (lumina), and yet when we open them in the dark, they do not see. But the light that enlightens is a light both from itself and for itself, and does not need another light for its shining; but all the rest need it, that they may shine.

2. Accordingly John confessed Him: as you have heard that when Jesus was making many disciples, and they reported to John as if to excite him to jealousy,--for they told the matter as if moved by envy, "Lo, he is making more disciples than thou,"--John confessed what he was, and thereby merited to belong to Him, because he dared not affirm himself to be that which Jesus is. Now this is what John said: "A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven." Therefore Christ gives, man receives. "Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, who standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice." Not of himself did he give himself joy. He that will have joy of himself shall be sad; but he that will have his joy of God will ever rejoice, because God is everlasting. Dost thou desire to have everlasting joy? Cleave to Him who is everlasting. Such an one John declared himself to be. "Because of the Bridegroom's voice, the friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth," not because of his own voice, and "standeth and heareth." Therefore, if he falls, he heareth Him not: for of a certain one who fell it is said, "And he stood not in the truth;" [315] this is said of the devil. It behoves the Bridegroom's friend, then, "to stand and to hear." What is it to stand? It is to abide in His grace, which he received. And he hears a voice at which he rejoices. Such was John: he knew whereof he rejoiced; he did not arrogate to himself to be what he was not; he knew himself as one enlightened, not the enlightener. "But that was the true Light," saith the evangelist, "that lighteneth every man coming into this world." If "every man," then also John himself; for he too is of men. Moreover, although none hath arisen among them that are born of women greater than John, yet he was himself one of those that are born of women. Is he to be compared with Him who, because He willed it, was born by a singular and extraordinary birth? For both generations of the Lord are unexampled, both the divine and the human: by the divine He has no mother; by the human, no father. Therefore John was but one of the rest: of greater grace, however, so that of those born of women none arose greater than he; so great a testimony he gave to our Lord Jesus Christ as to call Him the Bridegroom, and himself the Bridegroom's friend, not worthy however to loose the latchet of the Bridegroom's shoe. You have already heard much on this point, beloved: let us look to what follows; for it is somewhat hard to understand. But as John himself says, that "no man can receive anything, except it be given him from heaven," whatever we shall not have understood, let us ask Him who gives from heaven: for we are men, and cannot receive anything, except He, who is not man, give it us.

3. Now this is what follows: and John says, "This my joy therefore is fulfilled." What is his joy? To rejoice at the Bridegroom's voice. It is fulfilled in me, I have my grace; more I do not assume to myself, lest also I lose what I have received. What is this joy? "With joy rejoiceth for the Bridegroom's voice." A man may understand, then, that he ought not to rejoice of his own wisdom, but of the wisdom which he has received from God. Let him ask nothing more, and he loses not what he found. For many, in that they affirmed themselves to be wise, became fools. The apostle convicts them, and says of them, "Because that which is known of God is manifest to them; for God has showed it unto them." Hear ye what he says of certain unthankful, ungodly men: "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are seen, being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power likewise, and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Why without excuse? "Because, knowing God" (he said not, "because they knew Him not"), "they glorified Him not as God, nor were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened: professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." [316] If they had known God, they had known at the same time that God, and none other, had made them wise; and they would not then attribute to themselves that which they did not have from themselves, but to Him from whom they had received it. But by their unthankfulness they became fools. Therefore, what God gave freely, He took from the unthankful. John would not be this; he would be thankful: he confessed to have received, and declared that he rejoiced for the Bridegroom's voice, saying, "Therefore this my joy is fulfilled."

4. "He must increase, but I must decrease." What is this? He must be exalted, but I must be humbled. How is Jesus to increase? How is God to increase? The perfect does not increase. God neither increases nor decreases. For if He increases, He is not perfect; if He decreases, he is not God. And how can Jesus increase, being God? If to man's estate, since He deigned to be man and was a child; and, though the Word of God, lay an infant in a manger; and, though His mother's Creator, yet sucked the milk of infancy of her: then Jesus having grown in age of the flesh, that perhaps is the reason why it is said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." But why in this? As regards the flesh, John and Jesus were of the same age, there being six months between them: they had grown up together; and if our Lord Jesus Christ had willed to be here longer before His death, and that John should be here with Him, then, as they had grown up together, so would they have grown old together: in what way, then, "He must increase but I must decrease"? Above all, our Lord Jesus Christ being now thirty years old, does a man who is already thirty years old still grow? From that same age, men begin to go downward, and to decline to graver age, thence to old age. Again, even had they both been lads, he would not have said, "He must increase," but, We must increase together. But now each is thirty years of age. The interval of six months makes no difference in age; the difference is discovered by reading rather than by the look of the persons.

5. What means, then, "He must increase, but I must decrease"? This is a great mystery! Before the Lord Jesus came, men were glorying of themselves; He came a man, to lessen man's glory, and to increase the glory of God. Now He came without sin, and found all men in sin. If thus He came to put away sin, God may freely give, man may confess. For man's confession is man's lowliness: God's pity is God's loftiness. Therefore, since He came to forgive man his sins, let man acknowledge his own lowliness and let God show His pity. "He must increase, but I must decrease:" that is, He must give, but I must receive; He must be glorified, but I must confess. Let man know his own condition, and confess to God; and hear the apostle as he says to a proud, elated man, bent on extolling himself: "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? And if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou didst not receive it?" [317] Then let man understand that he has received; and when he would call that his own which is not his, let him decrease: for it is good for him that God be glorified in him. Let him decrease in himself, that he may be increased in God. These testimonies and this truth, Christ and John signified by their deaths. For John was lessened by the Head: Christ was exalted on the cross; so that even there it appeared what this is, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Again, Christ was born when the days were just beginning to lengthen; John was born when they began to shorten. Thus their very creation and deaths testify to the words of John, when he says, "He must increase, but I must decrease." May the glory of God then increase in us, and our own glory decrease, that even ours may increase in God! For this is what the apostle says, this is what Holy Scripture says: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [318] Wilt thou glory in thyself? Thou wilt grow; but grow worse in thy evil. For whoso grows worse is justly decreased. Let God, then, who is ever perfect, grow, and grow in thee. For the more thou understandest God, and apprehendest Him, He seems to be growing in thee; but in Himself He grows not, being ever perfect. Thou didst understand a little yesterday; thou understandest more to-day, wilt understand much more to-morrow: the very light of God increases in thee: as if thus God increases, who remains ever perfect. It is as if one's eyes were being cured of former blindness, and he began to see a little glimmer of light, and the next day he saw more, and the third day still more: to him the light would seem to grow; yet the light is perfect, whether he see it or not. Thus it is also with the inner man: he makes progress indeed in God, and God seems to be increasing in him; yet man himself is decreasing, that he may fall from his own glory, and rise into the glory of God.

6. What we have just heard, appears now distinctly and clearly. "He that cometh from above, is above all." See what he says of Christ. What of himself? "He that is of the earth, is of earth, and speaketh of the earth. He that cometh from above is above all"--this is Christ; and "he that is of the earth, is of earth, and speaketh of the earth"--this is John. And is this the whole: John is of the earth, and speaks of the earth? Is the whole testimony that he bears of Christ a speaking of the earth? Are they not voices of God that are heard from John, when he bears witness of Christ? Then how does he speak of the earth? He said this of man. So far as relates to man in himself, he is of earth, and speaks of the earth; and when he speaks some divine things, he is enlightened by God. For, were he not enlightened, he would be earth speaking of earth. God's grace is apart by itself, the nature of man apart by itself. Do but examine the nature of man: man is born and grows, he learns the customs of men. What does he know but earth, of earth? He speaks the things of men, knows the things of men, minds the things of men; carnal, he judges carnally, conjectures carnally: lo! it is man all over. Let the grace of God come, and enlighten his darkness, as it saith, "Thou wilt lighten my candle, O Lord; my God, enlighten my darkness;" [319] let it take the mind of man, and turn it to its own light; immediately he begins to say, as the apostle says, "Yet not I, but the grace of God that is with me;" [320] and, "Now I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." [321] That is to say, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Thus John: as regards John, he is of the earth, and speaks of the earth; whatever that is divine thou hast heard from John, is of Him that enlightens, not of him that receives.

7. "He that cometh from heaven is above all; and what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth: and no man receiveth His testimony." Cometh from heaven, is above all, our Lord Jesus Christ; of whom it was said above, "No man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." And He is above all; "and what He hath seen and heard, that He speaks." Moreover, He hath a Father, being Himself the Son of God; He hath a Father, and He also hears of the Father. And what is that which He hears of the Father? Who can unfold this? When can my tongue, when can my heart be sufficient, either the heart to understand, or the tongue to utter, what that is which the Son hath heard from the Father? May it be the Son has heard the Word of the Father? Nay, the Son is the Word of the Father. You see how all human effort is here wearied out; you see how all guessing of our heart, all straining of our darkened mind, here fails. I hear the Scripture saying that the Son speaks that which He heareth from the Father; and again, I hear the Scripture saying that the Son is Himself the Word of the Father: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The words that we speak are fleeting and transient: as soon as thy word has sounded from thy mouth, it passeth away; it makes its noise, and passes away into silence. Canst thou follow thy sound, and hold it to make it stand? Thy thought, however, remains, and of that thought that remains thou utterest many words that pass away. What say we, brethren? When God spake, did He give out a voice, or sounds, or syllables? If He did, in what tongue spake He? In Hebrew, or in Greek, or in Latin? Tongues are necessary where there is a distinction of nations. But there none can say that God spake in this tongue, or in that. Observe thy own heart. When thou conceivest a word which thou mayest utter,--For I will say, if I can, what we may note in ourselves, not whereby we may comprehend that,--well, when thou conceivest a word to utter, thou meanest to utter a thing, and the very conception of the thing is already a word in thy heart: it has not yet come forth, but it is already born in the heart, and is waiting to come forth. But thou considerest the person to whom it is to come forth, with whom thou art to speak: if he is a Latin, thou seekest a Latin expression; if a Greek, thou thinkest of Greek words; if a Punic, thou considerest whether thou knowest the Punic language: for the diversity of hearers thou hast recourse to divers tongues to utter the word conceived; but the conception itself was bound by no tongue in particular. Whilst therefore God, when speaking, required not a language, nor took up any kind of speech, how was He heard by the Son, seeing that God's speaking is the Son Himself? As, in fact, thou hast in thy heart the word that thou speakest, and as it is with thee, and is none other than the spiritual conception itself (for just as thy soul is spirit, so also the word which thou hast conceived is spirit; for it has not yet received sound to be divided by syllables, but remains in the conception of thy heart, and in the mirror of the mind); so God gave out His Word, that is, begat the Son. And thou, indeed, begettest the word even in thy heart according to time; God without time begat the Son by whom He created all times. Whilst, therefore, the Son is the Word of God, and the Son spoke to us not His own word, but the word of the Father, He willed to speak Himself to us when He was speaking the word of the Father. This it is that John said, as was fit and necessary; and we have expounded according to our ability. He whose heart has not yet attained to a proper perception of so great a matter, has whither to turn himself, has where to knock, has from whom to ask, from whom to seek, of whom to receive.

8. "He that cometh from heaven is above all; and what He hath seen and heard, that testifieth He; and His testimony no man receiveth." If no man, to what purpose came He? He means, no man of a certain class. There are some people prepared for the wrath of God, to be damned with the devil; of these, none receiveth the testimony of Christ. For if none at all, not any man, received, what could these words mean, "But he that received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true"? Not certainly, then, no man, if thou sayest thyself, "He that received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true." Perhaps John, on being questioned, would answer and say, I know what I have said, in saying no man. There are, in fact, people born to God's wrath, and thereunto foreknown. For God knows who they are that will and that will not believe; He knows who they are that shall persevere in that in which they have believed, and who that shall fall away; and all that shall be for eternal life are numbered by God; and He knows already the people set apart. And if He knows this, and has given to the prophets by His Spirit to know it, He gave this also to John. Now John was observing, not with his eye,--for as regards himself he is earth, and speaketh of earth,--but with that grace of the Spirit which he received of God, he saw a certain people, ungodly, unbelieving. Contemplating that people in its unbelief, he says, "His testimony, who came from heaven, no man receiveth." No man of whom? Of them who shall be on the left hand, of them to whom it shall be said, "Go into the everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels." Who are they that do receive it? They who shall be at the right hand, they to whom it shall be said, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world." He observes, then, in the Spirit a dividing, but in the human race a mingling together; and that which is not yet separated locally, he separated in the understanding, in the view of the heart; and he saw two peoples, one of believers, one of unbelievers. Fixing his thought on the unbelievers, he says, "He that cometh from heaven is above all; and what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth and no man receiveth His testimony." He then turned his thought from the left hand, and looked at the right, and proceeded to say, "He that received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true." What means "has set to his seal that God is true," if it be not that man is a liar, and God is true? For no human being can speak any truth, unless he be enlightened by Him who cannot lie. God, then, is true; but Christ is God. Wouldest thou prove this? Receive His testimony and thou findest it. For "he that hath received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true." Who is true? The same who came from heaven, and is above all, is God, and true. But if thou dost not yet understand Him to be God, thou hast not yet received His testimony: receive it, and thou puttest thy seal to it; confidently thou understandest, definitely thou acknowledgest, that God is true.

9. "For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God." Himself is the true God, and God sent Him: God sent God. Join both, one God, true God sent by God. Ask concerning them singly, He is God; ask concerning them both, they are God. Not individually God, and both Gods; but each individual God, and both God. For so great is the charity of the Holy Spirit there, so great the peace of unity, that when thou questionest about them individually, the answer to thee is, God; when thou askest concerning the Trinity, thou gettest for answer, God. For if the spirit of man, when it cleaves to God, is one spirit, as the apostle openly declares, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit;" [322] how much more is the equal Son, joined to the Father, together with Him one God! Hear another testimony. You know how many believed, when they sold all they had and laid it at the apostles' feet, that it might be distributed to each according to his need; and what saith the Scripture of that gathering of the saints? "They had one soul and one heart in the Lord." [323] If charity made one soul of so many souls, and one heart of so many hearts, how great must be the charity between the Father and the Son! Surely it must be greater than that between those men who had one heart. If, then, the heart of many brethren was one by charity, if the soul of many brethren was one by charity, wouldst thou say that God the Father and God the Son are two? If they are two Gods, there is not the highest charity between them. For if charity is here so great as to make thy soul and thy friend's soul one soul, how can it be then that the Father and the Son is not one God? Far be unfeigned faith from this thought. In short, how excellent that charity is, understand hence: the souls of many men are many, and if they love one another, it is one soul; still, in the case of men, they may be called many souls, because the union is not so strong. But there it is right for thee to say one God; two or three Gods it is not right for thee to say. From this, the supreme and surpassing excellency of charity is shown thee to be such, that a greater cannot be.

10. "For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God." This, of course, he said of Christ, to distinguish himself from Christ. What then? Did not God send John himself? Did he not say himself, "I am sent before Him"? and, "He that sent me to baptize with water"? And is it not of John that it is said, "Behold, I send my messenger before Thee, and he shall prepare Thy way"? [324] Does he not himself speak the words of God, he of whom it is said that he is more than a prophet? Then, if God sent him too, and he speaks the words of God, how do we understand him to have distinctly said of Christ, "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God"? But see what he adds: "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure." What is this, "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure"? We find that God does give the Spirit by measure. Hear the apostle when he says, "According to the measure of the gift of Christ." [325] To men He gives by measure, to the only Son He gives not by measure. How does He give to men by measure? "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of wisdom according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another kinds of tongues; to another the gift of healing. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" [326] This man has one gift, that man another; and what that man has, this has not: there is a measure, a certain division of gifts. To men, therefore, it is given by measure, and concord among them makes one body. As the hand receives one kind of gift to work, the eye another to see, the ear another to hear, the foot another to walk; nevertheless the soul that does all is one, in the hand to work, in the foot to walk, in the ear to hear, in the eye to see; so are also the gifts of believers diverse, distributed to them as to members, to each according to his proper measure. But Christ, who gives, receives not by measure.

11. Now hear further what follows: because He had said of the Son, "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure: the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand," He added, "hath given all things into His hands," that thou mightest know also here with what distinction it is said, "The Father loveth the Son." And why? Does the Father not love John? And yet He has not given all things into his hand. Does the Father not love Paul? And yet He has not given all things into his hand. "The Father loveth the Son:" but as father loveth, not as master loveth a servant; as the Only Son, not as an adopted son. And so "hath given all things into His hand." What means "all things"? That the Son should be such as the Father is. To equality with Himself He begat Him in whom it was no robbery to be in the form of God, equal to God. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand." Therefore, having deigned to send us the Son, let us not imagine that it is something less than the Father that is sent to us. The Father, in sending the Son, sent His other self.

12. But the disciples, still thinking that the Father is something greater than the Son, seeing only the flesh, and not understanding His divinity, said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us." As much as to say, "We know Thee already, and bless Thee that we know Thee: for we thank Thee that Thou hast shown Thyself to us. But as yet we know not the Father: therefore our heart is inflamed, and occupied with a certain holy longing of seeing Thy Father who sent Thee. Show us Him, and we shall desire nothing more of Thee: for it sufficeth us when He has been shown, than whom none can be greater." A good longing, a good desire; but small intelligence. Now the Lord Jesus Himself, regarding them as small men seeking great things, and Himself great among the small, and yet small among the small, says to Philip, one of the disciples, who had said this: "Am I so long time with you, and ye have not known me, Philip?" Here Philip might have answered, Thee we have known, but did we say to Thee, Show us Thyself? We have known Thee, but it is the Father we seek to know. He immediately adds, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also." [327] If, then, One equal with the Father has been sent, let us not estimate Him from the weakness of the flesh, but think of the majesty clothed in flesh, but not weighed down by the flesh. For, remaining God with the Father, He was made man among men, that, through Him who was made man, thou mightest become such as to receive God. For man could not receive God. Man could see man; God he could not apprehend. Why could he not apprehend God? Because he had not the eye of the heart, by which to apprehend Him. There was something within disordered, something without sound: man had the eyes of the body sound, but the eyes of the heart sick. He was made man to the eye of the body; so that, believing on Him who could be seen in bodily form, thou mightst be healed for seeing Him whom thou wast not able to see spiritually. "Am I so long time with you, and ye know me not, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also." Why did they not see Him? Lo, they did see Him, and yet saw not the Father: they saw the flesh, but the majesty was concealed. What the disciples who loved Him saw, saw also the Jews who crucified Him. Inwardly, then, was He all; and in such manner inwardly in the flesh, that He remained with the Father when He came to the flesh.

13. Carnal thought does not apprehend what I say: let it defer understanding, and begin by faith; let it hear what follows: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." He has not said, The wrath of God cometh to him; but, "The wrath of God abideth on him." All that are born mortals have the wrath of God with them. What wrath of God? That wrath which Adam first received. For if the first man sinned, and heard the sentence, "Thou shalt die the death," he became mortal, and we began to be born mortal; and we have been born with the wrath of God. From this stock came the Son, not having sin, and He was clothed with flesh and mortality. If He partook with us of the wrath of God, are we slow to partake with Him the grace of God? He, then, that will not believe the Son, on the same "the wrath of God abideth." What wrath of God? That of which the apostle says, "We also were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest." [328] All are therefore children of wrath, because coming of the curse of death. Believe on Christ, for thee made mortal, that thou mayest receive Him, the immortal; and when thou shalt have received His immortality, thou shalt no longer be mortal. He lived, thou wast dead; He died that thou shouldst live. He has brought us the grace of God, and has taken away the wrath of God. God has conquered death, lest death should conquer man.

Footnotes

[315] John viii. 44. [316] Rom. i. 19-22. [317] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [318] 1 Cor. i. 31. [319] Ps. xviii. 28. [320] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [321] Gal. ii. 20. [322] 1 Cor. vi. 17. [323] Acts iv. 32. [324] Mal. iii. 1. [325] Eph. iv. 7. [326] 1 Cor. xii. 8-30. [327] John xiv. 8, 9. [328] Eph. ii. 3..


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