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
(Tractates 25-37)

and Rev. James Innes, of Panbride, near Dundee, Scotland
(Tractates 38 to 39)

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

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Tractate XXV.

Chapter VI. 15-44

1. Following upon yesterday's lesson from the Gospel is that of to-day, upon which this day's discourse is due to you. When that miracle was wrought, in which Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves, and the multitudes marveled and said that He was a great prophet that came into the world, then follows this: "When Jesus therefore knew that they came to seize Him, and to make Him king, He escaped again unto the mountain alone." It is therefore given to be understood that the Lord, when He sat on the mountain with His disciples, and saw the multitudes coming to Him, had descended from the mountain, and fed the multitudes on its lower parts. For how can it be that He should escape thither again, if He had not before descended from the mountain? There is something meant by the Lord's descending from on high to feed the multitudes. He fed them, and ascended.

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2. But why did He ascend after He knew that they wished to seize Him and make Him a king? How then; was He not a king, that He was afraid to be made a king? He was certainly not such a king as would be made by men, but such as would bestow a kingdom on men. May it not be that Jesus, whose deeds are words, does here, too, signify some thing to us? Therefore in this, that they wished to seize Him and make Him a king, and that for this He escapes to the mountain alone, is this action in His case silent; does it speak nothing, does it mean nothing? Or was this seizing of Him perhaps an intention to anticipate the time of His kingdom? For He had come now, not to reign immediately, as He is to reign in the sense in which we pray, Thy kingdom come. He ever reigns, indeed, with the Father, in that He is the Son of God, the Word of God, the Word by which all things were made. But the prophets foretold His kingdom according to that wherein He is Christ made man, and has made His faithful ones Christians. There will consequently be a kingdom of Christians, which at present is being gathered together, being prepared and purchased by the blood of Christ. His kingdom will at length be made manifest, when the glory of His saints shall be revealed, after the judgment is executed by Him, which judgment He Himself has said above is that which the Son of man shall execute. Of which kingdom also the apostle has said: "When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." [487] In reference to which also Himself says: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world." [488] But the disciples and the multitudes that believed on Him thought that He had thus come immediately to reign; hence, they wished to seize Him and to make Him a king; they wished to anticipate the time which He hid with Himself, to make it known in due time, and in due time to declare it in the end of the world.

3. That ye may know that they wished to make Him a king,--that is, to anticipate, and at once to have manifest the kingdom of Christ, whom it behoved first to be judged and then to judge,--when He was crucified, and they who hoped in Him had lost hope of His resurrection, having risen from the dead, He found two of them despairingly conversing together, and, with groaning, talking with one another of what had been done; and appearing to them as a stranger, while their eyes were held that He should not be recognized by them, He mixed with them as they held discourse: but they, narrating to Him the matter of their conversation, said that He was a prophet, mighty in deeds and in words, that had been slain by the chief priests; "And we," say they, "did hope that it was He that should have redeemed Israel." [489] Rightly you hoped: a true thing you hoped for: in Him is the redemption of Israel. But why are ye in haste? Ye wish to seize it. The following, too, shows us that this was their feeling, that, when the disciples inquired of Him concerning the end, they said to Him, "Wilt Thou at this time be made manifest, and when will be the kingdom of Israel?" For they longed for it now, they wished it now; that is, they wished to seize Him, and to make Him king. But saith He to the disciples (for He had yet to ascend alone), "It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father hath put in His own power: but ye shall receive virtue from on high, the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth." [490] You wish that I should manifest the kingdom now; let me first gather what I may manifest; you love elevation, and you shall obtain elevation, but follow me through humility. Thus it was also foretold of Him, "And the gathering of the peoples will surround Thee, and for this cause return Thou on high;" [491] that is, that the gatherings of the peoples may surround Thee, that Thou mayest gather many together, return Thou on high. Thus He did; He fed men, and ascended.

4. But why is it said, He escaped? For He could not be held against His will, nor seized against His will, since He could not be recognized against His will. But that you may know that this was done mystically, not of necessity, but of express purpose, you will presently see in the following: that He appeared to the same multitudes that sought Him, said many things in speaking with them, and discoursed much about the bread of heaven; when discoursing about bread, was He not with the same people from whom He had escaped lest He should be held of them? Then, could He not have so acted at that time that He should not be seized by them, just as afterwards when He was speaking with them? Something, therefore, was meant by His escaping. What means, He escaped? His loftiness could not be understood. For of anything which thou hast not understood thou sayest, "It has escaped me." Wherefore, "He escaped again unto the mountain alone,--the first-begotten from the dead, ascending above all heavens, and interceding for us." [492]

5. Meanwhile, He, the one great High Priest being above (He who has entered into that within the veil, the people standing without; for Him that priest under the old law, who did this once a year, did signify): He then be ing above, what were the disciples enduring in the ship? For that ship prefigured the Church while He is on high. For if we do not, in the first place, understand this thing which that ship suffered respecting the Church, those incidents were not significant, but simply transient; but if we see the real meaning of those signs expressed in the Church, it is manifest that the actions of Christ are a kind of speeches. "But when it was late, saith he, His disciples went down to the sea; and when they had entered into a ship, they came over the sea to Capernaum." He declared that as finished quickly, which was done afterwards,--"They came over the sea to Capernaum." He returns to explain how they came; that they passed over by sailing across the lake. And whilst they were sailing to that place to which He has already said they had come, He explains by recapitulation what befell them. "It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them." Rightly he said "dark," for the light had not come to them. "It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them." As the end of the world approaches, errors increase, terrors multiply, iniquity increases, infidelity increases; the light, in short, which, by the Evangelist John himself, is fully and clearly shown to be charity, so much so that he says, "Whoso hateth his brother is in darkness;" [493] that light, I say, is very often extinguished; this darkness of enmity between brethren increases, daily increases, and Jesus is not yet come. How does it appear to increase? "Because iniquity will abound, and the love of many will begin to wax cold." Darkness increases, and Jesus is not yet come. Darkness increasing, love waxing cold, iniquity abounding,--these are the waves that agitate the ship; the storms and the winds are the clamors of revilers. Thence love waxes cold; thence the waves do swell, and the ship is tossed.

6. "And a great wind blowing, the sea rose." Darkness was increasing, discernment was diminishing, iniquity was growing. "When, therefore, they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs." Meanwhile they struggled onward, kept advancing; nor did those winds and storms, and waves and darkness effect either that the ship should not make way, or that it should break in pieces and founder; but amid all these evils it went on. For, notwithstanding iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold, and the waves do swell, the darkness grows and the wind rages, yet the ship is moving forward; "for he that perseveres to the end, the same shall be saved." [494] Nor is that number of furlongs to be lightly regarded. For it cannot really be that nothing is meant, when it is said that, "when they had rowed twenty-five or thirty furlongs, Jesus came to them." It were enough to say, "twenty-five," so likewise "thirty;" especially as it was an estimate, not an assertion of the narrator. Could the truth be aught endangered by a mere estimate, if he had said nearly thirty furlongs, or nearly twenty-five furlongs? But from twenty-five he made thirty. Let us examine the number twenty-five. Of what does it consist? of what is it made up? Of the quinary, or number five. That number five pertains to the law. The same are the five books of Moses, the same are those five porches containing the sick folk, the same are the five loaves feeding the five thousand men. Accordingly the number twenty-five signifies the law, because five by five--that is, five times five--make twenty-five, or the number five squared. But this law lacked perfection before the gospel came. Moreover, perfection is comprised in the number six. Therefore in six days God finished, or perfected, the world, and the same five are multiplied by six, that the law may be completed by the gospel, that six times five become thirty. To them that fulfill the law, therefore, Jesus comes. And how does He come? Walking upon the waves, keeping all the swellings of the world under His feet, pressing down all its heights. Thus it goes on, so long as time endures, so long as the ages roll. Tribulations increase, calamities increase, sorrows increase, all these swell and mount up: Jesus passeth on treading upon the waves.

7. And yet so great are the tribulations, that even they who have trusted in Jesus, and who strive to persevere unto the end, greatly fear lest they fail; while Christ is treading the waves, and trampling down the world's ambitions and heights, the Christian is sorely afraid. Were not these things foretold him? Justly "they were afraid," too, at seeing Jesus walking on the waves; like as Christians, though having hope in the world to come, are frequently disquieted at the crash of human affairs, when they see the loftiness of this world trampled down. They open the Gospel, they open the Scriptures, and they find all these things there foretold; that this is the Lord's doing. He tramples down the heights of the world, that He may be glorified by the humble. Concerning whose loftiness it is foretold: "Thou shalt destroy strongest cities," and "the spears of the enemy have come to an end, and Thou hast destroyed cities." [495] Why then are ye afraid, O Christians? Christ speaks: "It is I; be not afraid." Why are ye alarmed at these things? Why are ye afraid? I have foretold these things, I do them, they must necessarily be done. "It is I; be not afraid. Therefore they would receive Him into the ship." Recognizing Him and rejoicing, they are freed from their fears. "And immediately the ship was at the land to which they went." There is an end made at the land; from the watery to the solid, from the agitated to the firm, from the way to the goal.

8. "On the next day the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea," whence the disciples had come, "saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone; but there came other boats from Tiberias, nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, giving thanks to the Lord: when, therefore, the multitudes saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus." Yet they got some knowledge of so great a miracle. For they saw that the disciples had gone into the ship alone, and that there was not another ship there. But there came boats also from near to that place where they did eat bread; in these the multitudes followed Him. He had not then embarked with His disciples, and there was not another ship there. How, then, was Jesus on a sudden beyond the sea, unless that He walked upon the sea to show a miracle?

9. "And when the multitudes had found Him." Behold, He presents Himself to the people from whom He had escaped into the mountain, afraid that He should be taken of them by force. In every way He proves to us and gives us to know that all these things are said in a mystery, and done in a great sacrament (or mystery) to signify something important. Behold, that is He who had escaped the crowds unto the mountain; is He not speaking with the same crowds? Let them hold Him now; let them now make Him a king. "And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?"

10. After the sacrament of the miracle, He introduces discourse, that, if possible, they who have been fed may be further fed, that He may with discourse fill their minds, whose bellies He filled with the loaves, provided they take in. And if they do not, let that be taken up which they do not receive, that the fragments may not be lost. Wherefore let Him speak, and let us hear. "Jesus answered and said Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the signs, but because ye have eaten of my loaves." Ye seek me for the sake of the flesh not for the sake of the spirit. How many seek Jesus for no other object but that He may bestow on them a temporal benefit! One has a business on hand, he seeks the intercession of the clergy; another is oppressed by one more powerful than himself, he flies to the church. Another desires intervention in his behalf with one with whom he has little influence. One in this way, one in that, the church is daily filled with such people. Jesus is scarcely sought after for Jesus' sake. "Ye seek me, not because ye have seen the signs, but because ye have eaten of my loaves. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life." Ye seek me for something else, seek me for my own sake. For He insinuates the truth, that Himself is that meat: this shines out clearly in the sequel. "Which the Son of man will give you." Thou didst expect, I believe, again to eat bread, again to sit down, again to be gorged. But He had said, "Not the meat which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life," in the same manner as it was said to that Samaritan woman: "If thou knewest who it is that asketh of thee drink, thou wouldest perhaps have asked of Him, and He would give thee living water." When she said, "Whence hast thou, since thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep?" He answered the Samaritan woman: "If thou knewest who it is that asketh of thee drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would give thee water, whereof whoso drinketh shall thirst no more; for whoso drinketh of this water shall thirst again." And she was glad and would receive, as if no more to suffer thirst of body, being wearied with the labor of drawing water. And so, during a conversation of this kind, He comes to spiritual drink. Entirely in this manner also here.

11. Therefore "this meat, not that which perisheth, but that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed." Do not take this Son of man as you take other sons of men, of whom it is said, "And the sons of men will trust in the protection of Thy wings." [496] This Son of man is separated by a certain grace of the spirit; Son of man according to the flesh, taken out from the number of men: He is the Son of man. This Son of man is also the Son of God; this man is even God. In another place, when questioning His disciples, He saith: "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they answered, Some John, some Elias, some Jeremias, or one of the prophets. And He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." [497] He declared Himself Son of man, Peter declared Him the Son of the living God. Most fitly did He mention that which in mercy He had manifested Himself to be; most fitly did the other mention that which He continues to be in glory. The Word of God commends to our attention His own humility: the man acknowledged the glory of his Lord. And indeed, brethren, I think that this is just. He humbled Himself for us, let us glorify Him. For not for Himself is He Son of man, but for us. Therefore was He Son of man in that way, when "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." For to that end "God the Father sealed Him." What is to seal, but to put some particular mark? To seal is to impress some mark which cannot be confounded with the rest. To seal is to put a mark on a thing. When thou puttest a mark on anything, thou doest so lest it might be confused with other things, and thou shouldst not be able to recognize it. "The Father," then, "hath sealed Him." What is that, "hath sealed"? Bestowed on Him something peculiar, which puts Him out of comparison with all other men. For that reason it is said of Him, "God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." [498] What is it then to seal, but to have Him excepted? This is the import of "above Thy fellows." And so, do not, saith He, despise me because I am the Son of man, but seek from me, "not the meat that perisheth, but that which endureth to eternal life." For I am the Son of man in such manner as not to be one of you: I am Son of man in such manner that God the Father sealed me. What does that mean, He "sealed me"? Gave me something peculiarly my own, that I should not be confounded with mankind, but that mankind should be delivered by me.

12. "They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" For He had said to them, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life." "What shall we do?" they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent." This is then to eat the meat, not that which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life. To what purpose dost thou make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and thou hast eaten already. Faith is indeed distinguished from works, even as the apostle says, "that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law:" [499] there are works which appear good, without faith in Christ; but they are not good, because they are not referred to that end in which works are good; "for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." [500] For that reason, He willeth not to distinguish faith from work, but declared faith itself to be work. For it is that same faith that worketh by love. [501] Nor did He say, This is your work; but, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent;" so that he who glories, may glory in the Lord. And because He invited them to faith, they, on the other hand, were still asking for signs by which they might believe. See if the Jews do not ask for signs. "They said therefore unto Him, What sign doest thou, that we may see and believe thee? what dost thou work?" Was it a trifle that they were fed with five loaves? They knew this indeed, but they preferred manna from heaven to this food. But the Lord Jesus declared Himself to be such an one, that He was superior to Moses. For Moses dared not say of himself that ge gave, "not the meat which perisheth, but that which endureth to eternal life." Jesus promised something greater than Moses gave. By Moses indeed was promised a kingdom, and a land flowing with milk and honey, temporal peace, abundance of children, health of body, and all other things, temporal goods indeed, yet in figure spiritual; because in the Old Testament they were promised to the old man. They considered therefore the things promised by Moses, and they considered the things promised by Christ. The former promised a full belly on the earth, but of the meat which perisheth; the latter promised, "not the meat which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life." They gave attention to Him that promised the more, but just as if they did not yet see Him do greater things. They considered therefore what sort of works Moses had done, and they wished yet some greater works to be done by Him who promised them such great things. What, say they, doest thou, that we may believe thee? And that thou mayest know that they compared those former miracles with this and so judged these miracles which Jesus did as being less; "Our fathers," say they, "did eat manna in the wilderness." But what is manna? Perhaps ye despise it. "As it is written, He gave them manna to eat." By Moses our fathers received bread from heaven, and Moses did not say to them, "Labor for the meat which perisheth not." Thou promisest "meat which perisheth not, but which endureth to eternal life;" and yet thou workest not such works as Moses did. He gave, not barley loaves, but manna from heaven.

13. "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, not Moses gave you bread from heaven, but my Father gave you bread from heaven. For the true bread is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world." The true bread then is He that giveth life to the world; and the same is the meat of which I have spoken a little before,--"Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life." Therefore, both that manna signified this meat, and all those signs were signs of me. Ye have longed for signs of me; do ye despise Him that was signified? Not Moses then gave bread from heaven: God gives bread. But what bread? Manna, perhaps? No, but the bread which manna signified, namely, the Lord Jesus Himself. My Father giveth you the true bread. "For the bread of God is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread." Like that Samaritan woman, to whom it was said, "Whoso drinketh of this water shall never thirst." She, immediately understanding it in reference to the body, and wishing to be rid of want, said, "Give me, O Lord, of this water;" in the same manner also these said, "O Lord, give us this bread;" which may refresh us, and yet not fail.

14. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." "He that cometh to me;" this is the same thing as "He that believeth on me;" and "shall never hunger" is to be understood to mean the same thing as "shall never thirst." For by both is signified that eternal sufficiency in which there is no want. You desire bread from heaven; you have it before you, and yet you do not eat. "But I said unto you, that ye also have seen me, and ye believed not." But I have not on that account lost my people. "For hath your unbelief made the faith of God of none effect?" [502] For, see thou what follows: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out of doors." What kind of within is that, whence there is no going out of doors? Noble interior, sweet retreat! O secret dwelling without weariness, without the bitterness of evil thoughts, without the solicitings of temptations and the interruptions of griefs! Is it not that secret dwelling whither shall enter that well-deserving servant, to whom the Lord will say, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?" [503]

15. "And him that will come to me, I will not cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." Is it for that reason that Thou wilt not cast out him that shall come unto Thee, because Thou hast descended from heaven, not to do Thine own will, but the will of Him that sent Thee? Great mystery! I beseech you, let us knock together; something may come forth to us which may feed us, according to that which has delighted us. That great and sweet secret dwelling-place: "He that will come to me." Give heed, give heed, and weigh the matter: "He that will come unto me, I will not cast out." Why? "Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me." Is it then the very reason why Thou castest not out him that cometh unto Thee, that Thou camest down from heaven, not to do Thy own will, but the will of Him that sent Thee? The very reason. Why do we ask whether it be the same? The same it is; Himself says it. For it would not be right in us to suspect Him to mean other than He says, "Whoso will come to me, I will not cast out." And, as if thou askedst, wherefore? He answered, "Because I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me." I am afraid that the reason why the soul went forth away from God is, that it was proud; nay, I do not doubt it. For it is written, "Pride is the beginning of all sin; and the beginning of man's pride is a falling away from God." It is written, it is firm and sure, it is true. And hence what is said of proud mortal man, clad in the tattered rags of the flesh, weighed down with the weight of a corruptible body, and withal extolling himself, and forgetting with what skin-coat he is clothed,--what, I ask, saith the Scripture to him? "Why is dust and ashes proud?" Why proud! Let the Scripture tell why. "Because in his life he put forth his inmost parts." [504] What is "put forth," but "threw afar off"? This is to go forth away. For to enter within, is to long after the inmost parts; to put forth the inmost parts, is to go forth away. The proud man puts forth the inmost parts, the humble man earnestly desires the inmost parts. If we are cast out by pride, let us return by humility.

16. Pride is the source of all diseases, because pride is the source of all sins. When a physician removes a disorder from the body, if he merely cures the malady produced by some particular cause, but not the cause itself, he seems to heal the patient for a time, but while the cause remains, the disease will repeat itself. For example, to speak of this more expressly, some humor in the body produces a scurf or sores; there follows a high fever, and not a little pain; certain remedies are applied to repress the scurf, and to allay that heat of the sore; the remedies are applied, and they do good; thou seest the man who was full of sores and scurf healed; but because that humor was not expelled, it returns again to ulcers. The physician, perceiving this, purges away the humor, removes the cause, and there will be no more sores. Whence doth iniquity abound? From pride. Cure pride and there will be no more iniquity. Consequently, that the cause of all diseases might be cured, namely, pride, the Son of God came down and was made low. Why art thou proud, O man? God, for thee, became low. Thou wouldst perhaps be ashamed to imitate a lowly man; at any rate, imitate the lowly God. The Son of God came in the character of a man and was made low. Thou art taught to become humble, not of a man to become a brute. He, being God, became man; do thou, O man, recognize that thou art man. Thy whole humility is to know thyself. Therefore because God teaches humility, He said, "I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me." For this is the commendation of humility. Whereas pride doeth its own will, humility doeth the will of God. Therefore, "Whoso cometh to me, I will not cast him out." Why? "Because I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me." I came humble, I came to teach humility, I came a master of humility: he that cometh to me is made one body with me; he that cometh to me becomes humble; he who adhereth to me will be humble, because he doeth not his own will, but the will of God; and therefore he shall not be cast out, for when he was proud he was cast out.

17. See those inner things commended to us in the psalm: "But the sons of men will put their trust in the covering of Thy wings." See what it is to enter within; see what it is to flee for refuge to His protection; see what it is to run even under the Father's lash, for He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. "But the sons of men shall put their trust under the cover of Thy wings." What is within? "They shall be filled with the plenteousness of Thy house," when Thou shalt have sent them within, entering into the joy of their Lord; "they shall be filled with the plenteousness of Thy house; and Thou shalt give them to drink of the stream of Thy pleasure. For with Thee is the fountain of life." Not away without Thee, but within with Thee, is the fountain of life. "And in Thy light we shall see light. Show Thy mercy upon them that know Thee, and Thy righteousness to them that are of upright heart." They who follow the will of their Lord, not seeking their own, but the things of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are the upright in heart, their feet shall not be moved. For "God is good to Israel, to the upright in heart. But, as for me, says he, my feet were almost moved." Why? "Because I was jealous at sinners, looking at the peace of sinners." [505] To whom is God good then, unless to the upright in heart? For God was displeasing to me when my heart was crooked. Why displeasing? Because He gave happiness to the wicked, and therefore my feet tottered, as if I had served God in vain. For this reason, then, my feet were almost moved, because I was not upright of heart. What then is upright in heart? Following the will of God. One man is prosperous, another man toils; the one lives wickedly and yet is prosperous, the other lives rightly and is distressed. Let not him that lives rightly and is in distress be angry; he has within what the prosperous man has not: let him therefore not be saddened, nor vex himself, nor faint. That prosperous man has gold in his own chest; this other has God in his conscience. Compare now gold and God, chest and conscience. The former has that which perishes, and has it where it will perish; the latter has God, who cannot perish, and has Him there whence He cannot be taken away: only if he is upright in heart; for then He enters within and goeth not out. For that reason, what said he? "For with Thee is the fountain of life:" not with us. We must therefore enter within, that we may live; we must not be, as it were, content to perish, nor willing to be satisfied of our own, to be dried up, but we must put our mouth to the very fountain, where the water fails not. Because Adam wished to live by his own counsel, he, too, fell through him who had fallen before through pride, who invited him to drink of the cup of his own pride. Wherefore, because "with Thee is the fountain of life, and in Thy light we shall see light," let us drink within, let us see within. Why was there a going out thence? Hear why: "Let not the foot of pride come to me." Therefore he, to whom the foot of pride came, went out. Show that therefore he went out. "And let not the hands of sinners move me;" because of the foot of pride. Why sayest thou this? "They are fallen, all they that work iniquity." Where are they fallen? In their very pride. "They were driven out, and they could not stand." [506] If, then, pride drove them out who were not able to stand, humility sends them in who can stand for ever. For this reason, moreover, he who said, "The bones that were brought low shall rejoice," [507] said before, "Thou shalt give joy and gladness to my hearing." What does he mean by, "to my hearing"? By hearing Thee I am happy; because of Thy voice I am happy; by drinking within I am happy. Therefore do I not fall; therefore "the bones that were brought low will rejoice;" therefore "the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him;" therefore he stands, because he hears. He drinks of the fountain within, therefore he stands. They who willed not to drink of the fountain within, "there are they fallen: they were driven, they were not able to stand."

18. Thus, the teacher of humility came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. Let us come to Him, enter in unto Him, be ingrafted into Him, that we may not be doing our own will, but the will of God: and He will not cast us out, because we are His members, because He willed to be our head by teaching us humility. Finally, hear Himself discoursing: "Come unto me, ye who labor and are heavy laden: take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart:" and when ye have learned this, "ye shall find rest for your souls," [508] from which ye cannot be cast out; "because I am come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me;" I teach humility; none but the humble can come unto me. Only pride casteth out; how can he go out who keeps humility and falls not away from the truth? So much as could be said about the hidden sense has now been said, brethren: this sense is hidden enough, and I know not whether I have drawn out and shaped in suitable words for you, why it is that He casteth not out him that cometh unto Him; because He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him.

19. "And this," saith He, "is the will of the Father that sent, that of all that He hath given me I should lose nothing." He that keeps humility was given to Him; the same He receives: he that keeps not humility is far from the Master of humility. "That of all which He hath given me, I should lose nothing." "So it is not the will of your Father that one of these little ones should perish." Of the proud, there may perish; but of the little ones, none perisheth; because, "if ye will not become as this little one, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." "Of all that the Father hath given me, I should lose nothing, but I will raise it up again on the last day." See how here He delineates that twofold resurrection. "He that cometh unto me" immediately rises again, being made humble in my members; but I will raise him up again on the last day also according to the flesh. "For this is the will of my Father that sent me, that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day." He said above, "Whoso heareth my word, and believeth Him that sent me:" but now, "Whoso seeth the Son, and believeth on Him." He has not said, seeth the Son, and believeth on the Father; for to believe on the Son is the same thing as to believe on the Father. Because, "even as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given also to the Son to have life in Himself. That every one who seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have eternal life:" by believing and by passing unto life, just as by that first resurrection. And, because that is not the only resurrection, He saith, "And I will raise him up at the last day."

Footnotes

[487] 1 Cor. xv. 24. [488] Matt. xxv. 34. [489] Luke xxiv. 13-21. [490] Acts i. 6-8. [491] Ps. vii. 8. [492] Col. i. 18; Rom. viii. 34. [493] 1 John ii. 11. [494] Matt. xxiv. 12. [495] Ps. ix. 7. [496] Ps. xxxvi. 7. [497] Matt. xvi. 13-16. [498] Ps. xlv. 8. [499] Rom. iii. 28. [500] Rom. x. 4. [501] Gal. v. 6. [502] Rom. iii. 3. [503] Matt. xxv. 23. [504] Ecclus. x. 14, 15. [505] Ps. lxxiii. 1, 2. [506] Ps. xxxvi. 8-13. [507] Ps. li. 10. [508] Matt. xi. 28, 29. .


Tractate XXVI.

Chapter VI. 41-59

1. When our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have heard in the Gospel when it was read, had said that He was Himself the bread which came down from heaven, the Jews murmured and said, "Is not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?" These Jews were far off from the bread of heaven, and knew not how to hunger after it. They had the jaws of their heart languid; with open ears they were deaf, they saw and stood blind. This bread, indeed, requires the hunger of the inner man: and hence He saith in another place, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." [509] But the Apostle Paul says that Christ is for us righteousness. [510] And, consequently, he that hungers after this bread, hungers after righteousness,--that righteousness however which cometh down from heaven, the righteousness that God gives, not that which man works for himself. For if man were not making a righteousness for himself, the same apostle would not have said of the Jews: "For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, they are not subject to the righteousness of God." [511] Of such were these who understood not the bread that cometh down from heaven; because being satisfied with their own righteousness, they hungered not after the righteousness of God. What is this, God's righteousness and man's righteousness? God's righteousness here means, not that wherein God is righteous, but that which God bestows on man, that man may be righteous through God. But again, what was the righteousness of those Jews? A righteousness wrought of their own strength on which they presumed, and so declared themselves as if they were fulfillers of the law by their own virtue. But no man fulfills the law but he whom grace assists, that is, whom the bread that cometh down from heaven assists. "For the fulfilling of the law," as the apostle says in brief, "is charity." [512] Charity, that is, love, not of money, but of God; love, not of earth nor of heaven, but of Him who made Heaven and earth. Whence can man have that love? Let us hear the same: "The love of God," saith he, "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." [513] Wherefore, the Lord, about to give the Holy Spirit, said that Himself was the bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe on Him. For to believe on Him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly is he born again. A babe within, a new man within. Where he is made new, there he is satisfied with food.

2. What then did the Lord answer to such murmurers? "Murmur not among yourselves." As if He said, I know why ye are not hungry, and do not understand nor seek after this bread. "Murmur not among yourselves: no man can come unto me, except the Father that sent me draw him." Noble excellence of grace! No man comes unless drawn. There is whom He draws, and there is whom He draws not; why He draws one and draws not another, do not desire to judge, if thou desirest not to err. Accept it at once and then understand; thou art not yet drawn? Pray that thou mayest be drawn. What do we say here, brethren? If we are "drawn" to Christ, it follows that we believe against our will; so then is force applied, not the will moved. A man can come to Church unwillingly, can approach the altar unwillingly, partake of the sacrament unwillingly: but he cannot believe unless he is willing. If we believed with the body, men might be made to believe against their will. But believing is not a thing done with the body. Hear the apostle: "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." And what follows? "And with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [514] That confession springs from the root of the heart. Sometimes thou hearest a man confessing, and knowest not whether he believes. But thou oughtest not to call him one confessing, if thou shouldest judge him to be one not believing. For to confess is this, to utter the thing that thou hast in thy heart: if thou hast one thing in thy heart, and another thing on thy tongue, thou art speaking, not confessing. Since, then, with the heart man believeth on Christ, which no man assuredly does against his will, and since he that is drawn seems to be as if forced against his will, how are we to solve this question, "No man cometh unto me, except the Father that sent me draw him"?

3. If he is drawn, saith some one, he comes unwillingly. If he comes unwillingly, then he believes not; but if he believes not, neither does he come. For we do not run to Christ on foot, but by believing; nor is it by a motion of the body, but by the inclination of the heart that we draw nigh to Him. This is why that woman who touched the hem of His garment touched Him more than did the crowd that pressed Him. Therefore the Lord said, "Who touched me?" And the disciples wondering said, "The multitude throng Thee, and press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched me?" [515] And He repeated it, "Somebody hath touched me." That woman touched, the multitude pressed. What is "touched," except "believed"? Whence also He said to that woman that wished to throw herself at His feet after His resurrection: "'Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to the Father." [516] Thou thinkest me to be that alone which thou seest; "touch me not." What is this? Thou supposest that I am that alone which I appear to thee: do not thus believe; that is, "touch me not for I am not yet ascended to the Father." To thee I am not ascended, for thence I never departed. She touched Him not while He stood on the earth; how then could she touch Him while ascending to the Father? Thus, however, thus He willed Himself to be touched; thus He is touched by those by whom He is profitably touched, ascending to the Father, abiding with the Father, equal to the Father.

4. Thence also He says here, if thou turn thy attention to it, "No man cometh to me except he whom the Father shall draw." Do not think that thou art drawn against thy will. The mind is drawn also by love. Nor ought we to be afraid, lest perchance we be censured in regard to this evangelic word of the Holy Scriptures by men who weigh words, but are far removed from things, most of all from divine things; and lest it be said to us, "How can I believe with the will if I am drawn?" I say it is not enough to be drawn by the will; thou art drawn even by delight. What is it to be drawn by delight? "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart." [517] There is a pleasure of the heart to which that bread of heaven is sweet. Moreover, if it was right in the poet to say, "Every man is drawn by his own pleasure," [518] --not necessity, but pleasure; not obligation, but delight,--how much more boldly ought we to say that a man is drawn to Christ when he delights in the truth, when he delights in blessedness, delights in righteousness, delights in everlasting life, all which Christ is? Or is it the case that, while the senses of the body have their pleasures, the mind is left without pleasures of its own? If the mind has no pleasures of its own, how is it said, "The sons of men shall trust under the cover of Thy wings: they shall be well satisfied with the fullness of Thy house; and Thou shalt give them drink from the river of Thy pleasure. For with Thee is the fountain of life; and in Thy light shall we see light"? [519] Give me a man that loves, and he feels what I say. Give me one that longs, one that hungers, one that is travelling in this wilderness, and thirsting and panting after the fountain of his eternal home; give such, and he knows what I say. But if I speak to the cold and indifferent, he knows not what I say. Such were those who murmured among themselves. "He whom the Father shall draw," saith He, "cometh unto me."

5. But what is this, "Whom the Father shall draw," when Christ Himself draws? Why did He say, "Whom the Father shall draw"? If we must be drawn, let us be drawn by Him to whom one who loves says, "We will run after the odor of Thine ointment." [520] But let us, brethren, turn our minds to, and, as far as we can, apprehend how He would have us understand it. The Father draws to the Son those who believe on the Son, because they consider that God is His Father. For God begat the Son equal to Himself, so that he who ponders, and in his faith feels and muses that He on whom he has believed is equal to the Father, this same is drawn of the Father to the Son. Arius believed the Son to be creature: the Father drew not him; for he that believes not the Son to be equal to the Father, considers not the Father. What sayest thou, Arius? What, O heretic, dost thou speak? What is Christ? Not very God, saith he, but one whom very God has made. The Father has not drawn thee, for thou hast not understood the Father, whose Son thou deniest: it is not the Son Himself but something else that thou art thinking of. Thou art neither drawn by the Father nor drawn to the Son; for the Son is very different from what thou sayest. Photius said, "Christ is only a man, he is not also God." The Father hath not drawn him who thus believes. One whom the Father has drawn says: "Thou art Christ, Son of the living God." Not as a prophet, not as John, not as some great and just man, but as the only, the equal, "Thou art Christ, Son of the living God." See that he was drawn, and drawn by the Father. "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven." [521] This revealing is itself the drawing. Thou holdest out a green twig to a sheep, and thou drawest it. Nuts are shown to a child, and he is attracted; he is drawn by what he runs to, drawn by loving it, drawn without hurt to the body, drawn by a cord of the heart. If, then, these things, which among earthly delights and pleasures are shown to them that love them, draw them, since it is true that "every man is drawn by his own pleasure," does not Christ, revealed by the Father, draw? For what does the soul more strongly desire than the truth? For what ought it to have a greedy appetite, with which to wish that there may be within a healthy palate for judging the things that are true, unless it be to eat and drink wisdom, righteousness, truth, eternity?

6. But where will this be? There better, there more truly, there more fully. For here we can more easily hunger than be satisfied, especially if we have good hope: for "Blessed," saith He, "are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness," that is here; "for they shall be filled," that is there. Therefore when He had said, "No man cometh unto me except the Father that sent me draw him," what did He subjoin? "And I will raise him up in the last day." I render unto him what he loves, what he hopes for: he will see what, not as yet by seeing, he has believed; he shall eat that which he hungers after; he shall be filled with that which he thirsts after. Where? In the resurrection of the dead; for "I will raise him up on the last day."

7. For it is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught of God." Why have I said this, O Jews? The Father has not taught you; how can ye know me? For all the men of that kingdom shall be taught of God, not learn from men. And though they do learn from men, yet what they understand is given them within, flashes within, is revealed within. What do men that proclaim tidings from without? What am I doing even now while I speak? I am pouring a clatter of words into your ears. What is that that I say or that I speak, unless He that is within reveal it? Without is the planter of the tree, within is the tree's Creator. He that planteth and He that watereth work from without: this is what we do. But "neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." [522] That is, "they shall be all taught of God." All who? "Every one who has heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." See how the Father draws: He delights by teaching, not by imposing a necessity. Behold how He draws: "They shall be all taught of God." This is God's drawing. "Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." This is God's drawing.

8. What then, brethren? If every man who has heard and learned of the Father, the same cometh unto Christ, has Christ taught nothing here? What shall we say to this, that men who have not seen the Father as their teacher have seen the Son? The Son spake, but the Father taught. I, being a man, whom do I teach? Whom, brethren, but him who has heard my word? If I, being a man, do teach him who hears my word, the Father also teacheth him who hears His word. And if the Father teacheth him that hears His word, ask what Christ is, and thou wilt find the word of the Father. "In the beginning was the Word." Not in the beginning God made the Word, just as "in the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." [523] Behold how that He is not a creature. Learn to be drawn to the Son by the Father: that the Father may teach thee, hear His Word. What Word of Him, sayest thou, do I hear? "In the beginning was the Word" (it is not "was made," but "was"), "and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." How can men abiding in the flesh hear such a Word? "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."

9. He Himself explains this also, and shows us His meaning when He said, "He that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." He forthwith subjoined what we were able to conceive: "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he who is of God, he hath seen the Father." What is that which He saith? I have seen the Father, you have not seen the Father; and yet ye come not unto me unless ye are drawn by the Father. And what is it for you to be drawn by the Father but to learn of the Father? What is to learn of the Father but to hear of the Father? What is to hear of the Father but to hear the Word of the Father--that is, to hear me? In case, therefore, when I say to you, "Every man that hath heard and learned of the Father," you should say within yourselves, But we have never seen the Father, how could we learn of the Father? hear from myself: "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He who is of God, He hath seen the Father." I know the Father, I am from Him; but in that manner in which the Word is from Him where the Word is, not that which sounds and passes away, but that which remains with the speaker and attracts the hearer.

10. Let what follows admonish us: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath eternal life." He willed to reveal Himself, what He was: He might have said in brief, He that believeth on me hath me. For Christ is Himself true God and eternal life. Therefore, he that believeth on me, saith He, goeth into me; and he that goeth into me, hath me. But what is the meaning of "to have me"? To have eternal life. Eternal life took death upon itself; eternal life willed to die; but of thee, not of itself; of thee it received that whereby it may die in thy behalf. Of men, indeed, He took flesh, but yet not in the manner of men. For having His Father in heaven, He chose a mother on earth; both there begotten without mother, and here born without father. Accordingly, life took upon itself death, that life might slay death. "For he that believeth on me," saith He, "hath eternal life:" not what is open, but what is hid. For eternal life is the Word, that "in the beginning was with God, and the Word was God, and the life was the light of men." The same eternal life gave eternal life also to the flesh which it assumed. He came to die; but on the third day He rose again. Between the Word taking flesh and the flesh rising again, death which came between was consumed.

11. "I am," saith He, "the bread of life." And what was the source of their pride? "Your fathers," saith He, "did eat manha in the wilderness, and are dead." What is it whereof ye are proud? "They ate manna, and are dead." Why they ate and are dead? Because they believed that which they saw; what they saw not, they did not understand. Therefore were they "your" fathers, because you are like them. For so far, my brethren, as relates to this visible corporeal death, do not we too die who eat the bread that cometh down from heaven? They died just as we shall die, so far, as I said, as relates to the visible and carnal death of this body. But so far as relates to that death, concerning which the Lord warns us by fear, and in which their fathers died: Moses ate manna, Aaron ate manna, Phinehas ate manna, and many ate manna, who were pleasing to the Lord, and they are not dead. Why? Because they understood the visible food spiritually, hungered spiritually, tasted spiritually, that they might be filled spiritually. For even we at this day receive visible food: but the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another. How many do receive at the altar and die, and die indeed by receiving? Whence the apostle saith, "Eateth and drinketh judgment to himself." [524] For it was not the mouthful given by the Lord that was the poison to Judas. And yet he took it; and when he took it, the enemy entered into him: not because he received an evil thing, but because he being evil received a good thing in an evil way. See ye then, brethren, that ye eat the heavenly bread in a spiritual sense; bring innocence to the altar. Though your sins are daily, at least let them not be deadly. Before ye approach the altar, consider well what ye are to say: "Forgive us our debts, even as we forgive our debtors." [525] Thou forgivest, it shall be forgiven thee: approach in peace, it is bread, not poison. But see whether thou forgivest; for if thou dost not forgive, thou liest, and liest to Him whom thou canst not deceive. Thou canst lie to God, but thou canst not deceive God. He knows what thou doest. He sees thee within, examines thee within, inspects within, judges within, and within He either condemns or crowns. But the fathers of these Jews were evil fathers of evil sons, unbelieving fathers of unbelieving sons, murmuring fathers of murmurers. For in no other thing is that people said to have offended the Lord more than in murmuring against God. And for that reason, the Lord, willing to show those men to be the children of such murmurers, thus begins His address to them: "Why murmur ye among yourselves," ye murmurers, children of murmurers? Your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; not because manna was an evil thing, but because they ate it in an evil manner.

12. "This is the bread which cometh down from heaven." Manna signified this bread; God's altar signified this bread. Those were sacraments. In the signs they were diverse; in the thing which was signified they were alike. Hear the apostle: "For I would not that ye should be ignorant, brethren," saith he, "that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat." Of course, the same spiritual meat; for corporally it was another: since they ate manna, we eat another thing; but the spiritual was the same as that which we eat. But "our" fathers, not the fathers of those Jews; those to whom we are like, not those to whom they were like. Moreover he adds: "And did all drink the same spiritual drink." They one kind of drink, we another, but only in the visible form, which, however, signified the same thing in its spiritual virtue. For how was it that they drank the "same drink"? "They drank," saith he "of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." [526] Thence the bread, thence the drink. The rock was Christ in sign; the real Christ is in the Word and in flesh. And how did they drink? The rock was smitten twice with a rod; the double smiting signified the two wooden beams of the cross. "This, then, is the bread that cometh down from heaven, that if any man eat thereof, he shall not die." But this is what belongs to the virtue of the sacrament, not to the visible sacrament; he that eateth within, not without; who eateth in his heart, not who presses with his teeth.

13. "I am the living bread, which came down from heaven." For that reason "living," because I came down from heaven. The manna also came down from heaven; but the manna was only a shadow, this is the truth. "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world." When did flesh comprehend this flesh which He called bread? That is called flesh which flesh does not comprehend, and for that reason all the more flesh does not comprehend it, that it is called flesh. For they were terrified at this: they said it was too much for them; they thought it impossible. "Is my flesh," saith He, "for the life of the world." Believers know the body of Christ, if they neglect not to be the body of Christ. Let them become the body of Christ, if they wish to live by the Spirit of Christ. None lives by the Spirit of Christ but the body of Christ. Understand, my brethren, what I mean to say. Thou art a man; thou hast both a spirit and a body. I call that a spirit which is called the soul; that whereby it consists that thou art a man, for thou consistest of soul and body. And so thou hast an invisible spirit and a visible body. Tell me which lives of the other: does thy spirit live of thy body, or thy body of thy spirit? Every man that lives can answer; and he that cannot answer this, I know not whether he lives: what doth every man that lives answer? My body, of course, lives by my spirit. Wouldst thou then also live by the Spirit of Christ. Be in the body of Christ. For surely my body does not live by thy spirit. My body lives by my spirit, and thy body by thy spirit. The body of Christ cannot live but by the Spirit of Christ. It is for this that the Apostle Paul, expounding this bread, says: "One bread," saith he, "we being many are one body." [527] O mystery of piety! O sign of unity! O bond of charity! He that would live has where to live, has whence to live. Let him draw near, let him believe; let him be embodied, that he may be made to live. Let him not shrink from the compact of members; let him not be a rotten member that deserves to be cut off; let him not be a deformed member whereof to be ashamed; let him be a fair, fit, and sound member; let him cleave to the body, live for God by God: now let him labor on earth, that hereafter he may reign in heaven.

14. The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" They strove, and that among themselves, since they understood not, neither wished to take the bread of concord: "for they who eat such bread do not strive with one another; for we being many are one bread, one body." And by this bread, "God makes people of one sort to dwell in a house." [528]

15. But that which they ask, while striving among themselves, namely, how the Lord can give His flesh to be eaten, they do not immediately hear: but further it is said to them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye will have no life in you." How, indeed, it may be eaten, and what may be the mode of eating this bread, ye are ignorant of; nevertheless, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye will not have life in you." He spoke these words, not certainly to corpses, but to living men. Whereupon, lest they, understanding it to mean this life, should strive about this thing also, He going on added, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." Wherefore, he that eateth not this bread, nor drinketh this blood, hath not this life; for men can have temporal life without that, but they can noways have eternal life. He then that eateth not His flesh, nor drinketh His blood, hath no life in him; and he that eateth His flesh, and drinketh His blood, hath life. This epithet, eternal, which He used, answers to both. It is not so in the case of that food which we take for the purpose of sustaining this temporal life. For he who will not take it shall not live, nor yet shall he who will take it live. For very many, even who have taken it, die; it may be by old age, or by disease, or by some other casualty. But in this food and drink, that is, in the body and blood of the Lord, it is not so. For both he that doth not take it hath no life, and he that doth take it hath life, and that indeed eternal life. And thus He would have this meat and drink to be understood as meaning the fellowship of His own body and members, which is the holy Church in his predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified saints and believers. Of these, the first is already effected, namely, predestination; the second and third, that is, the vocation and justification, have taken place, are taking place, and will take place; but the fourth, namely, the glorifying, is at present in hope; but a thing future in realization. The sacrament of this thing, namely, of the unity of the body and blood of Christ, is prepared on the Lord's table in some places daily, in some places at certain intervals of days, and from the Lord's table it is taken, by some to life, by some to destruction: but the thing itself, of which it is the sacrament, is for every man to life, for no man to destruction, whosoever shall have been a partaker thereof.

16. But lest they should suppose that eternal life was promised in this meat and drink in such manner that they who should take it should not even now die in the body, He condescended to meet this thought; for when He had said, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life," He forthwith subjoined, "and I will raise him up on the last day." That meanwhile, according to the Spirit, he may have eternal life in that rest into which the spirits of the saints are received; but as to the body, he shall not be defrauded of its eternal life, but, on the contrary, he shall have it in the resurrection of the dead at the last day.

17. "For my flesh," saith He, "is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." For whilst by meat and drink men seek to attain to this, neither to hunger nor thirst, there is nothing that truly affords this, except this meat and drink, which doth render them by whom it is taken immortal and incorruptible; that is, the very fellowship of the saints, where will be peace and unity, full and perfect. Therefore, indeed, it is, even as men of God understood this before us, that our Lord Jesus Christ has pointed our minds to His body and blood in those things, which from being many are reduced to some one thing. For a unity is formed by many grains forming together; and another unity is effected by the clustering together of many berries.

18. In a word, He now explains how that which He speaks of comes to pass, and what it is to eat His body and to drink His blood. "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, doubtless neither eateth His flesh [spiritually] nor drinketh His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather doth he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man taketh worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." [529]

19. "As the living Father hath sent me," saith He, "and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." He says not: As I eat the Father, and live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same shall live by me. For the Son, who was begotten equal, does not become better by participation of the Father; just as we are made better by participation of the Son, through the unity of His body and blood, which thing that eating and drinking signifies. We live then by Him, by eating Him; that is, by receiving Himself as the eternal life, which we did not have from ourselves. Himself, however, lives by the Father, being sent by Him, because "He emptied Himself, being made obedient even unto the death of the cross." [530] For if we take this declaration, "I live by the Father," [531] according to that which He says in another place, "The Father is greater than I;" just as we, too, live by Him who is greater than we; this results from His being sent. The sending is in fact the emptying of Himself, and His taking upon Him the form of a servant: and this is rightly understood, while also the Son's equality of nature with the Father is preserved. For the Father is greater than the Son as man, but He has the Son as God equal,--whilst the same is both God and man, Son of God and Son of man, one Christ Jesus. To this effect, if these words are rightly understood, He spoke thus: "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me:" just as if He were to say, My emptying of myself (in that He sent me) effected that I should live by the Father; that is, should refer my life to Him as the greater; but that any should live by me is effected by that participation in which he eats me. Therefore, I being humbled, do live by the Father, man being raised up, liveth by me. But if it was said, "I live by the Father," so as to mean, that He is of the Father, not the Father of Him, it was said without detriment to His equality. And yet further, by saying, "And he that eateth me, even he shall live by me," He did not signify that His own equality was the same as our equality, but He thereby showed the grace of the Mediator.

20. "This is the bread that cometh down from heaven;" that by eating it we may live, since we cannot have eternal life from ourselves. "Not," saith He, "as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth this bread shall live forever." That those fathers are dead, He would have to be understood as meaning, that they do not live forever. For even they who eat Christ shall certainly die temporally; but they live forever, because Christ is eternal life.

Footnotes

[509] Matt. v. 6. [510] 1 Cor. i. 30. [511] Rom. x. 3. [512] Rom. xiii. 10. [513] Rom. v. 5. [514] Rom. x. 10. [515] Luke viii. 45. [516] John xx. 17. [517] Ps. xxxvii. 4. [518] Trahit sua quemque voluptas.--Virg. Ec. 2. [519] Ps. xxxvi. 8. [520] Cant. i. 3. [521] Matt. xvi. 16, 17. [522] 1 Cor. iii. 7. [523] Gen. i. 1. [524] 1 Cor. xi. 29. [525] Matt. vi. 12. [526] 1 Cor. x. 1-4. [527] 1 Cor. x. 17. [528] Ps. lxviii. 6. [529] Matt. v. 8. [530] Phil. ii. 8. [531] Propter Patrem. .


Tractate XXVII.

Chapter VI. 60-72

1. We have just heard out of the Gospel the words of the Lord which follow the former discourse. From these a discourse is due to your ears and minds, and it is not unseasonable to-day; for it is concerning the body of the Lord which He said that He gave to be eaten for eternal life. And He explained the mode of this bestowal and gift of His, in what manner He gave His flesh to eat, saying, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." The proof that a man has eaten and drank is this, if he abides and is abode in, if he dwells and is dwelt in, if he adheres so as not to be deserted. This, then, He has taught us, and admonished us in mystical words that we may be in His body, in His members under Himself as head, eating His flesh, not abandoning our unity with Him. But most of those who were present, by not understanding Him, were offended; for in hearing these things, they thought only of flesh, that which themselves were. But the apostle says, and says what is true, "To be carnally-minded is death." [532] The Lord gives us His flesh to eat, and yet to understand it according to the flesh is death; while yet He says of His flesh, that therein is eternal life. Therefore we ought not to understand the flesh carnally. As in these words that follow:

2. "Many therefore," not of His enemies, but "of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?" If His disciples accounted this saying hard, what must His enemies have thought? And yet so it behoved that to be said which should not be understood by all. The secret of God ought to make men eagerly attentive, not hostile. But these men quickly departed from Him, while the Lord said such things: they did not believe Him to be saying something great, and covering some grace by these words; they understood just according to their wishes, and in the manner of men, that Jesus was able, or was determined upon this, namely, to distribute the flesh with which the Word was clothed, piecemeal, as it were, to those that believe on Him. "This," say they, "is a hard saying; who can hear it?"

3. "But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it,"--for they so said these things with themselves that they might not be heard by Him: but He who knew them in themselves, hearing within Himself,--answered and said, "This offends you;" because I said, I give you my flesh to eat, and my blood to drink, this forsooth offends you. "Then what if ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before?" What is this? Did He hereby solve the question that perplexed them? Did He hereby uncover the source of their offense? He did clearly, if only they understood. For they supposed that He was going to deal out His body to them; but He said that He was to ascend into heaven, of course, whole: "When ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before;" certainly then, at least, you will see that not in the manner you suppose does He dispense His body; certainly then, at least, you will understand that His grace is not consumed by tooth-biting.

4. And He said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Before we expound this, as the Lord grants us, that other must not be negligently passed over, where He says, "Then what if ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before?" For Christ is the Son of man, of the Virgin Mary. Therefore Son of man He began to be here on earth, where He took flesh from the earth. For which cause it was said prophetically, "Truth is sprung from the earth." [533] Then what does He mean when He says, "When ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before"? For there had been no question if He had spoken thus: "If ye shall see the Son of God ascending where He was before." But since He said, "The Son of man ascending where He was before," surely the Son of man was not in heaven before the time when He began to have a being on earth? Here, indeed, He said, "where He was before," just as if He were not there at this time when He spoke these words. But in another place He says, "No man has ascended into heaven but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." [534] He said not "was," but, saith He, "the Son of man who is in heaven." He was speaking on earth, and He declared Himself to be in heaven. And yet He did not speak thus: "No man hath ascended into heaven but He that came down from heaven," the Son of God, "who is in heaven." Whither tends it, but to make us understand that which even in the former discourse I commended to your minds, my beloved, that Christ, both God and man, is one person, not two persons, lest our faith be not a trinity, but a quaternity? Christ, therefore, is one; the Word, soul and flesh, one Christ; the Son of God and Son of man, one Christ; Son of God always, Son of man in time, yet one Christ in regard to unity of person. In heaven He was when He spoke on earth. He was Son of man in heaven in that manner in which He was Son of God on earth; Son of God on earth in the flesh which He took, Son of man in heaven in the unity of person.

5. What is it, then, that He adds? "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Let us say to Him (for He permits us, not contradicting Him, but desiring to know), O Lord, good Master, in what way does the flesh profit nothing, whilst Thou hast said, "Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him?" Or does life profit nothing? And why are we what we are, but that we may have eternal life, which Thou dost promise by Thy flesh? Then what means "the flesh profiteth nothing"? It profiteth nothing, but only in the manner in which they understood it. They indeed understood the flesh, just as when cut to pieces in a carcass, or sold in the shambles; not as when it is quickened by the Spirit. Wherefore it is said that "the flesh profiteth nothing," in the same manner as it is said that "knowledge puffeth up." Then, ought we at once to hate knowledge? Far from it! And what means "Knowledge puffeth up"? Knowledge alone, without charity. Therefore he added, "but charity edifieth." [535] Therefore add thou to knowledge charity, and knowledge will be profitable, not by itself, but through charity. So also here, "the flesh profiteth nothing," only when alone. Let the Spirit be added to the flesh, as charity is added to knowledge, and it profiteth very much. For if the flesh profited nothing, the Word would not be made flesh to dwell among us. If through the flesh Christ has greatly profited us, does the flesh profit nothing? But it is by the flesh that the Spirit has done somewhat for our salvation. Flesh was a vessel; consider what it held, not what it was. The apostles were sent forth; did their flesh profit us nothing? If the apostles' flesh profited us, could it be that the Lord's flesh should have profited us nothing? For how should the sound of the Word come to us except by the voice of the flesh? Whence should writing come to us? All these are operations of the flesh, but only when the spirit moves it, as if it were its organ. Therefore "it is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing," as they understood the flesh, but not so do I give my flesh to be eaten.

6. Hence "the words," saith He, "which I have spoken to you are Spirit and life." For we have said, brethren, that this is what the Lord had taught us by the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood, that we should abide in Him and He in us. But we abide in Him when we are His members, and He abides in us when we are His temple. But that we may be His members, unity joins us together. And what but love can effect that unity should join us together? And the love of God, whence is it? Ask the apostle: "The love of God," saith he, "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us." [536] Therefore "it is the Spirit that quickeneth," for it is the Spirit that makes living members. Nor does the Spirit make any members to be living except such as it finds in the body, which also the Spirit itself quickens. For the Spirit which is in thee, O man, by which it consists that thou art a man, does it quicken a member which it finds separated from thy flesh? I call thy soul thy spirit. Thy soul quickeneth only the members which are in thy flesh; if thou takest one away, it is no longer quickened by thy soul, because it is not joined to the unity of thy body. These things are said to make us love unity and fear separation. For there is nothing that a Christian ought to dread so much as to be separated from Christ's body. For if he is separated from Christ's body, he is not a member of Christ; if he is not a member of Christ, he is not quickened by the Spirit of Christ. "But if any man," saith the apostle, "have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." [537] "It is the Spirit," then, "that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." What means "are spirit and life"? They are to be understood spiritually. Hast thou understood spiritually? "They are spirit and life." Hast thou understood carnally? So also "are they spirit and life," but are not so to thee.

7. "But," saith He, "there are some among you that believe not." He said not, There are some among you that understand not; but He told the cause why they understand not. "There are some among you that believe not," and therefore they understand not, because they believe not. For the prophet has said, "If ye believe not, ye shall not understand." [538] We are united by faith, quickened by understanding. Let us first adhere to Him through faith, that there may be that which may be quickened by understanding. For he who adheres not resists; he that resists believes not. And how can he that resists be quickened? He is an adversary to the ray of light by which he should be penetrated: he turns not away his eye, but shuts his mind. "There are," then, "some who believe not." Let them believe and open, let them open and be illumined. "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed, and who should betray Him." For Judas also was there. Some indeed, were offended; but he remained to watch his opportunity, not to understand. And because he remained for that purpose, the Lord kept not silence concerning him. He described him not by name, but neither was He silent about him; that all might fear though only one should perish. But after He spoke, and distinguished those that believe from those that believe not, He clearly showed the cause why they believed not. "Therefore I said unto you," saith He, "that no man can come unto me except it were given to him of my Father." Hence to believe is also given to us; for certainly to believe is something. And if it is something great, rejoice that thou hast believed, yet be not lifted up; for "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" [539]

8. "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." Went back, but after Satan, not after Christ. For our Lord Christ once addressed Peter as Satan, rather because he wished to precede his Lord, and to give counsel that He should not die, He who had come to die, that we might not die for ever; and He says to him, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." [540] He did not drive him back to go after Satan, and so called him Satan; but He made him go behind Himself, that by walking after his Lord he should not be a Satan. But these went back in the same manner as the apostle says of certain women: "For some are turned back after Satan." [541] They walked not further with Him. Behold, cut off from the body, for perhaps they were not in the body, they have lost life. They must be reckoned among the unbelieving, notwithstanding they were called disciples. Not a few, but "many went back." This happened, it may be, for our consolation. For sometimes it happens that a man may declare the truth, and that what he says may not be understood, and so they that hear it are offended and go away. Now the man regrets that he had spoken that truth, and he says to himself, "I ought not to have spoken so, I ought not to have said this." Behold; it happened to the Lord: He spoke, and lost many; He remained with few. But yet He was not troubled, because He knew from the beginning who they were that believed and that believed not. If it happen to us, we are sorely perplexed. Let us find comfort in the Lord, and yet let us speak words with prudence.

9. And now addressing the few that remained: "Then said Jesus to the twelve" (namely, those twelve who remained), "Will ye also," said He, "go away?" Not even Judas departed. But it was already manifest to the Lord why he remained: to us he was made manifest afterwards. Peter answered in behalf of all, one for many, unity for the collective whole: "Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go?" Thou drivest us from Thee; give us Thy other self. "To whom shall we go?" If we abandon Thee, to whom shall we go? "Thou hast the words of eternal life." See how Peter, by the gift of God and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, understood Him. How other than because he believed? "Thou hast the words of eternal life." For Thou hast eternal life in the ministration of Thy body and blood. "And we have believed and have known." Not have known and believed, but "believed and known." For we believed in order to know; for if we wanted to know first, and then to believe, we should not be able either to know or to believe. What have we believed and known? "That Thou art Christ, the Son of God;" that is, that Thou art that very eternal life, and that Thou givest in Thy flesh and blood only that which Thou art.

10. Then said the Lord Jesus: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" Therefore, should He have said, "I have chosen eleven:" or is a devil also chosen, and among the elect? Persons are wont to be called "elect" by way of praise: or was man elected because some great good was done by him, without his will and knowledge? This belongs peculiarly to God; the contrary is characteristic of the wicked. For as wicked men make a bad use of the good works of God; so, on the contrary, God makes a good use of the evil works of wicked men. How good it is that the members of the body are, as they can be disposed only by God, their author and framer! Nevertheless what evil use doth wantonness make of the eyes? What ill use doth falsehood make of the tongue? Does not the false witness first both slay his own soul with his tongue, and then, after he has destroyed himself, endeavor to injure another? He makes an ill use of the tongue, but the tongue is not therefore an evil thing; the tongue is God's work, but iniquity makes an ill use of that good work of God. How do they use their feet who run into crimes? How do murderers employ their hands? And what ill use do wicked men make of those good creatures of God that lie outside of them? With gold they corrupt judgment and oppress the innocent. Bad men make a bad use of the very light; for by evil living they employ even the very light with which they see into the service of their villanies. A bad man, when going to do a bad deed, wishes the light to shine for him, lest he stumble; he who has already stumbled and fallen within; that which he is afraid of in his body has already befallen him in his heart. Hence, to avoid the tediousness of running through them separately, a bad man makes a bad use of all the good creatures of God: a good man, on the contrary, makes a good use of the evil deeds of wicked men. And what is so good as the one God? Since, indeed, the Lord Himself said, "There is none good, but the one God." [542] By how much He is better, then, by so much the better use He makes of our evil deeds. What worse than Judas? Among all that adhered to the Master, among the twelve, to him was committed the common purse; to him was allotted the dispensing for the poor. Unthankful for so great a favor, so great an honor, he took the money, and lost righteousness: being dead, he betrayed life: Him whom he followed as a disciple, he persecuted as an enemy. All this evil was Judas's; but the Lord employed his evil for good. He endured to be betrayed, to redeem us. Behold, Judas's evil was turned to good. How many martyrs has Satan persecuted! If Satan left off persecuting, we should not to-day be celebrating the very glorious crown of Saint Laurence. If then God employs the evil works of the devil himself for good, what the bad man effects, by making a bad use, is to hurt himself, not to contradict the goodness of God. The Master makes use of that man. And if He knew not how to make use of him, the Master contriver would not have permitted him to be. Therefore, He saith, "One of you is a devil," whilst I have chosen you twelve. This saying, "I have chosen you twelve," may be understood in this way, that twelve is a sacred number. For the honor of that number was not taken away because one was lost, for another was chosen into the place of the one that perished. [543] The number remained a sacred number, a number containing twelve: because they were to make known the Trinity throughout the whole world, that is, throughout the four quarters of the world. That is the reason of the three times four. Judas, then only cut himself off, not profaned the number twelve: he abandoned his Teacher, for God appointed a successor to take his place.

11. All this that the Lord spoke concerning His flesh and blood;--and in the grace of that distribution He promised us eternal life, and that He meant those that eat His flesh and drink His blood to be understood, from the fact of their abiding in Him and He in them; and that they understood not who believed not; and that they were offended through their understanding spiritual things in a carnal sense; and that, while these were offended and perished, the Lord was present for the consolation of the disciples who remained, for proving whom He asked, "Will ye also go away?" that the reply of their steadfastness might be known to us, for He knew that they remained with Him;--let all this, then, avail us to this end, most beloved, that we eat not the flesh and blood of Christ merely in the sacrament, as many evil men do, but that we eat and drink to the participation of the Spirit, that we abide as members in the Lord's body, to be quickened by His Spirit, and that we be not offended, even if many do now with us eat and drink the sacraments in a temporal manner, who shall in the end have eternal torments. For at present Christ's body is as it were mixed on the threshing-floor: "But the Lord knoweth them that are His." [544] If thou knowest what thou threshest, that the substance is there hidden, that the threshing has not consumed what the winnowing has purged; certain are we, brethren, that all of us who are in the Lord's body, and abide in Him, that He also may abide in us, have of necessity to live among evil men in this world even unto the end. I do not say among those evil men who blaspheme Christ; for there are now few found who blaspheme with the tongue, but many who do so by their life. Among those, then, we must necessarily live even unto the end.

12. But what is this that He saith: "He that abideth in me, and I in him"? What, but that which the martyrs heard: "He that persevereth unto the end, the same shall be saved"? [545] How did Saint Laurence, whose feast we celebrate to-day, abide in Him? He abode even to temptation, abode even to tyrannical questioning, abode even to bitterest threatening, abode even to destruction;--that were a trifle, abode even to savage torture. For he was not put to death quickly, but tormented in the fire: he was allowed to live a long time; nay, not allowed to live a long time, but forced to die a slow, lingering death. Then, in that lingering death, in those torments, because he had well eaten and well drunk, as one who had feasted on that meat, as one intoxicated with that cup, he felt not the torments. For He was there who said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth." For the flesh indeed was burning, but the Spirit was quickening the soul. He shrunk not back, and he mounted into the kingdom. But the holy martyr Xystus, whose day we celebrated five days ago, had said to him, "Mourn not, my son;" for Xystus was a bishop, he was a deacon. "Mourn not," said he; "thou shall follow me after three days." He said three days, meaning the interval between the day of Saint Xystus's suffering and that of Saint Laurence's suffering, which falls on to-day. Three days is the interval. What comfort! He says not, "Mourn not, my son; the persecution will cease, and thou wilt be safe;" but, "do not mourn: whither I precede thou shalt follow; nor shall thy pursuit be deferred: three days will be the interval, and thou shalt be with me." He accepted the oracle, vanquished the devil, and attained to the triumph.

Footnotes

[532] Rom. vii. 6. [533] Ps. lxxxv. 12. [534] John iii. 13. [535] 1 Cor. viii. 1. [536] Rom. v. 5. [537] Rom. viii. 9. [538] Isa. vii. 9, LXX. [539] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [540] Matt. xvi. 23. [541] 1 Tim. v. 15. [542] Mark x. 10. [543] Acts i. 26. [544] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [545] Matt. xxiv. 13. .


Tractate XXVIII.

Chapter VII. 1-13 1. In this chapter of the Gospel, brethren, our Lord Jesus Christ has most especially commended Himself to our faith in respect of His humanity. For indeed He always keeps in view, both in His words and deeds, that He should be believed to be God and man: God who made us, man who sought us; with the Father, always God; with us, man in time. For He would not have sought man whom He had made if Himself had not become that which He had made. But remember this, and do not let it slip from your hearts, that Christ became man in such manner that He ceased not to be God. While remaining God, He who made man took manhood. While, therefore, as man He concealed Himself, He must not be thought to have lost His power, but only to have offered an example to our infirmity. For He was detained when He willed to be, and He was put to death when he willed to be. But since there were to be His members, that is, His faithful ones, who would not have that power which He, our God, had; by His being hid, by His con cealing Himself as if He would not be put to death, He indicated that His members would do this, in which members He Himself in fact was. For Christ is not simply in the head and not in the body, but Christ whole is in the head and body. What, therefore, His members are, that He is; but what He is, it does not necessarily follow that His members are. For if His members were not Himself, He would not have said, "Saul, why persecutest thou me?" [546] For Saul was not persecuting Himself on earth, but His members, namely, His believers. He would not, however, say, my saints, my servants, or, in short, my brethren, which is more honorable; but, me, that is, my members, whose head I am.

2. With these preliminary remarks, I think that we shall not have to labor much for the meaning in this chapter; for that is often betokened in the head which was to be in the body. "After these things," saith he, "Jesus walked in Galilee: for He would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him." This is what I have said; He offered an example to our infirmity. He had not lost power, but He was comforting our weakness. For it would happen, as I have said, that some believer in Him would retreat into concealment, lest he should be found by the persecutors; and lest the concealment should be objected to him as a crime, that occurred first in the head, which should afterwards be confirmed in the member. For it is said, "He would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him," just as if Christ were not able both to walk among the Jews, and not be killed by them. For He manifested this power when He willed; for when they would lay hold of Him, as He was now about to suffer, "He said to them, Whom seek ye? They answered, Jesus. Then, said He, I am He," not concealing, but manifesting Himself. That manifestation, however, they did not withstand, but "going backwards, they fell to the ground." [547] And yet, because He had come to suffer, they rose up, laid hold of Him, led Him away to the judge, and slew Him. But what was it they did? That which a certain scripture says: "The earth was delivered into the hands of the ungodly." [548] The flesh was given into the power of the Jews; and this that thereby the bag, as it were, might be rent asunder, whence our purchase-price might run out.

3. "Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand." What the feast of tabernacles is, they who read the Scriptures know. They used on the holy day to make tabernacles, in likeness of the tabernacles in which they dwelt while they sojourned in the wilderness, after being led out of Egypt. This was a holy day, a great solemnity. The Jews were celebrating this, as being mindful of the Lord's benefits--they who were about to kill the Lord. On this holy day, then (for there were several holy days; but it was called a holy day with the Jews, though it was not one day, but several), "His brethren" spoke to the Lord Christ. Understand the phrase, "His brethren," as you know it must be taken, for it is not a new thing you hear. The blood relations of the Virgin Mary used to be called the Lord's brethren. For it was of the usage of Scripture to call blood relations and all other near kindred by the term brethren, which is foreign to our usage, and not within our manner of speech. For who would call an uncle or a sister's son "brother"? Yet the Scripture calls relatives of this kind "brothers." For Abraham and Lot are called brothers, while Abraham was Lot's uncle. [549] Laban and Jacob are called brothers, while Laban was Jacob's uncle. [550] When, therefore, you hear of the Lord's brethren, consider them the blood relations of Mary, who did not a second time bear children. For, as in the sepulchre, where the Lord's body was laid, neither before nor after did any dead lie; so, likewise, Mary's womb, neither before nor after conceived anything mortal.

4. We have said who the brethren were, let us hear what they said: "Pass over hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see thy work which thou doest." The Lord's works were not hid from the disciples, but to these men they were not apparent. They might have Christ for a kinsman, but through that very relationship they disdained to believe on Him. It is told us in the Gospel; for we dare not hold this as a mere opinion, you have just now heard it. They go on advising Him: "For no man doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly: if thou do these things, show thyself to the world." And directly after it says: "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." Why did they not believe in Him? Because they sought human glory. For as to what His brethren appear to advise Him, they consult for His glory. Thou doest marvellous works, make thyself known; that is, appear to all, that thou mayest be praised by all. The flesh spoke to the flesh; but the flesh without God, to the flesh with God. It was the wisdom of the flesh speak ing to the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us.

5. What did the Lord answer to these things? Then saith Jesus to them: "My time is not yet come; but your time is always ready." What is this? Had not Christ's time yet come? Why then was Christ come, if His time had not yet come? Have we not heard the apostle say, "But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son"? [551] If, therefore, He was sent in the fullness of time, He was sent when He ought to be sent, He came when it behoved that He should come. What means then, "My time is not yet come"? Understand, brethren, with what intention they spoke, when they appeared to advise Him as their brother. They were giving Him counsel to pursue glory; as advising in a worldly manner and with an earthly disposition, that He should not be unknown to fame, nor hide Himself in obscurity. This is what the Lord says in answer to those who were giving Him counsel of glory, "My time is not yet come;"--the time of my glory is not yet come. See how profound it is: they were advising Him as to glory; but He would have loftiness preceded by humility, and willed to prepare the way to elevation itself through humility. For those disciples, too, were of course seeking glory who wished to sit, one at His right hand and the other at His left: they thought only of the goal, and saw not by what way it must be reached; the Lord recalled them to the way, that they might come to their fatherland in due order. For the fatherland is on high, the way thither lies low. That land is the life of Christ, the way is Christ's death; that land is the habitation of Christ, the way is Christ's suffering. He that refuses the way, why seeks he the fatherland? In a word, to these also, while seeking elevation, He gave this answer: "Can ye drink the cup which I am about to drink?" [552] Behold the way by which you must come to that height which you desire. The cup He made mention of was indeed that of His humility and suffering.

6. Therefore also here: "My time is not yet come; but your time," that is the glory of the world, "is always ready." This is the time of which Christ, that is the body of Christ, speaks in prophecy: "When I shall have received the fit time, I will judge righteously." [553] For at present it is not the time of judging, but of tolerating the wicked. Therefore, let the body of Christ bear at present, and tolerate the wickedness of evil livers. Let it, however, have righteousness now, for by righteousness it shall come to judgment. And what saith the Holy Scripture in the psalm to the members,--namely, that tolerate the wickedness of this world? "The Lord will not cast off His people." For, in fact, His people labors among the unworthy, among the unrighteous, among blasphemers, among murmurers, detractors, persecutors, and, if they are allowed, destroyers. Yes, it labors; but "the Lord will not cast off His people, and He will not forsake His inheritance until justice is turned into judgment." [554] "Until the justice," which is now in His saints, "be turned into judgment;" when that shall be fulfilled which was said to them, "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." [555] The apostle had righteousness, but not yet that judgment of which he says, "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" [556] Be it now, therefore, the time for living rightly; the time for judging them that have lived ill shall be hereafter. "Until righteousness," saith he, "is turned into judgment." The time of judgment will be that of which the Lord has here said, "My time is not yet come." For there will be a time of glory, when He who came in humility will come in loftiness; He who came to be judged will come to judge; He who came to be slain by the dead will come to judge the quick and the dead. "God," saith the psalm, "will come manifest, our God, and He will not be silent." [557] What is "shall come manifest"? Because He came concealed. Then He will not be silent; for when He came concealed, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer, He opened not His mouth." [558] He shall come, and shall not keep silence. "I was silent," saith He, "shall I always be silent?" [559]

7. But what is necessary at the present time for those who have righteousness? That which is read in that psalm: "Until righteousness is turned into judgment, and they that have it are upright of heart." You ask, perhaps, who are the upright in heart? We find in Scripture those to be upright in heart who bear the evils of the world, and do not accuse God. See, brethren, an uncommon thing is that which I speak of. For I know not how it is that, when any evil befalls a man, he runs to accuse God, when he ought to accuse himself. When thou gettest any good, thou praisest thyself; when thou sufferest any evil, thou accusest God. This is then the crooked heart, not the upright. When thou art cured of this distorting and perversity, what thou didst use to do will be turned into the contrary. For what didst thou use to do before? Thou didst praise thyself in the good things of God, and didst accuse God in thine own evil things; with thy heart converted and made right, thou wilt praise God in His good things, and accuse thyself in thy own evil things. These are the upright in heart. In short, that man, who was not yet right in heart when the success of the wicked and the distress of the good grieved him, says, when he is corrected: "How good is the God of Israel to the upright in heart! But as for me," when I was not right in heart, "my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped." Why? "Because I was envious at sinners, beholding the peace of sinners." [560] I saw, saith he, the wicked prosperous, and I was displeased at God; for I did wish that God should not permit the wicked to be happy. Let man understand: God never does permit this; but a bad man is thought to be happy, for this reason, because men are ignorant of what happiness is. Let us then be right in heart: the time of our glory is not yet come. Let it be told to the lovers of this world, such as the brethren of the Lord were, "your time is always ready;" our time "is not yet come." For let us, too, dare to say this. And since we are the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, since we are His members, since we joyfully acknowledge our head, let us say it without hesitation; since, for our sakes, He deigned also Himself to say this. And when the lovers of this world revile us, let us say to them, "Your time is always ready; our time is not yet come." For the apostle has said to us, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." When will our time come? "When Christ," saith he, "your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." [561]

8. What said He further? "The world cannot hate you." What is this, but, The world cannot hate its lovers, the false witnesses? For you call the things that are evil, good; and the things that are good, evil. "But me it hateth, because I bear witness concerning it, that its works are evil. Go ye up to this feast." What means "to this"? Where ye seek human glory. What means "to this"? Where ye wish to prolong carnal joys, not to meditate on eternal joys. "I go not up to this feast, because my time is not yet full come." On this feast-day you seek human glory; but my time, that is, the time of my glory, is not yet come. That will be my feast-day, not running before and passing over these days, but remaining for ever; that will be festivity, joy without end, eternity without a blot, serenity without a cloud. "When He had said these words unto them, He abode still in Galilee. But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret." Therefore "not to this feast-day," because His desire was not for temporal glory, but to teach something to profit, to correct men, to admonish them of an eternal feast-day, to turn away their love from this world, and to turn it to God. But what means this, "He went up as it were in secret to the feast"? This action of the Lord also is not without meaning. It appears to me that, even from this circumstance that He went up as it were in secret, He had intended to signify something; for the things that follow will show that He thus went up on the middle of the feast, that is, when those days were half over, to teach even openly. But he said, "As it were in secret," meaning, not to show Himself to men. It is not without meaning that Christ went up "as it were in secret" to that feast, because He Himself lay hid in that feast-day. What I have said as yet is also under cover of secrecy. Let it be manifested then, let the veil be lifted, and let that which was secret appear.

9. All things that were spoken to the ancient people Israel in the manifold Scripture of the holy law, what things they did, whether in sacrifices, or in priestly offices, or in feast-days, and, in a word, in what things soever they worshipped God, what things soever were spoken to and given them in precept, were shadows of things to come. Of what things to come? Things which find their fulfillment in Christ. Whence the apostle says, "For all the promises of God are in Him yea;" [562] that is, they are fulfilled in Him. Again he says in another place, "All happened to them in a figure; but they were written for our sakes, upon whom the end of the ages is come." [563] And he said elsewhere, "For Christ is the end of the law;" [564] likewise in another place, "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of a new moon, or of Sabbath-days, which is a shadow of things to come." [565] If, therefore, all these things were shadows of things to come, also the feast of tabernacles was a shadow of things to come. Let us examine, then, of what thing to come was this feast-day a shadow. I have explained what this feast of tabernacles was: it was a celebration of taber nacles, because the people, after their deliverance from Egypt, while directing their course through the wilderness to the land of promise, dwelt in tents. Let us observe what it is, and we shall be that thing; we, I say, who are members of Christ, if such we are; but we are, He having made us worthy, not we having earned it for ourselves. Let us then consider ourselves, brethren: we have been led out of Egypt, where we were slaves to the devil as to Pharaoh; where we applied ourselves to works of clay, engaged in earthly desires, and where we toiled exceedingly. And to us, while laboring, as it were, at the bricks, Christ cried aloud, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden." Thence we were led out by baptism as through the Red Sea,--red because consecrated by the blood of Christ. All our enemies that pursued us being dead, that is, all our sins being blotted out, we have been brought over to the other side. At the present time, then, before we come to the land of promise, namely, the eternal kingdom, we are in the wilderness in tabernacles. They who acknowledge these things are in tabernacles; for it was to be that some would acknowledge this. For that man, who understands that he is a sojourner in this world, is in tabernacles. That man understands that he is travelling in a foreign country, when he sees himself sighing for his native land. But whilst the body of Christ is in tabernacles, Christ is in tabernacles; but at that time He was so, not evidently but secretly. For as yet the shadow obscured the light; when the light came, the shadow was removed. Christ was in secret: He was in the feast of tabernacles, but there hidden. At the present time, when these things are already made manifest, we acknowledge that we are journeying in the wilderness: for if we know it, we are in the wilderness. What is it to be in the wilderness? In the desert waste. Why in the desert waste? Because in this world, where we thirst in a way in which is no water. But yet, let us thirst that we may be filled. For, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." [566] And our thirst is quenched from the rock in the wilderness: for "the Rock was Christ," and it was smitten with a rod that the water might flow. But that it might flow, the rock was smitten twice: because there are two beams of the cross. [567] All these things, then, which were done in a figure, are made manifest to us. And it is not without meaning that it was said of the Lord, "He went up to the feast-day, but not openly, but as it were in secret." For Himself in secret was the thing prefigured, because Christ was hid in that same festal-day; for that very festal-day signified Christ's members that were to sojourn in a foreign land.

10. "Then the Jews sought Him on the feast-day:" before He went up. For His brethren went up before Him, and He went not up then when they supposed and wished: that this too might be fulfilled which He said, "Not to this, that is, the first or second day, to which you wish me to go. But He went up afterwards, as the Gospel tells us, "on the middle of the feast;' that is, when as many days of that feast had passed as there remained. For they celebrated that same festival, so far we can understand, on several successive days.

11. "They said, therefore, Where is he? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him." Whence the murmuring? Of strife. What was the strife? "Some said, He is a good man; but others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people." We must understand this of all His servants: this is said now of them. For whoever becomes eminent in some spiritual grace, of him some will assuredly say, "He is a good man;" others, "Nay; but he deceiveth the people." Whence is this? "Because our life is hid with Christ in God." [568] On this account people may say during the winter, This tree is dead; for example, a fig tree, pear tree, or some kind of fruit tree, it is like a withered tree, and so long as it is winter it does not appear whether it is so or not. But the summer proves, the judgment proves. Our summer is the appearing of Christ: "God shall come manifest, our God, and He will not be silent;" [569] "fire shall go before Him:" that fire "shall burn up His enemies:" [570] that fire shall lay hold of the withered trees. For then shall the dry trees be apparent, when it shall be said to them, "I was hungry, and ye gave me not to eat;" but on the other side, namely, on the right, will be seen abundance of fruit, and magnificence of leaves; the green will be eternity. To those, then, as withered trees, it shall be said, "Go into everlasting fire. For behold," it saith, "the axe is laid to the root of the trees: every tree, therefore, that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and cast into the fire." [571] Let them then say of thee, if thou art growing in Christ, let men say of thee, "He deceiveth the people." This is said of Christ Himself; it is said of the whole body of Christ. Think of the body of Christ still in the world, think of it still on the threshing-floor; see how it is blasphemed by the chaff. The chaff and the grain are, indeed, threshed together; but the chaff is consumed, the corn is purged. What was said of the Lord then, avails for consolation, whenever it will be said of any Christian.

12. "Howbeit no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews." But who were they that did not speak of Him for fear of the Jews? Undoubtedly they who said, "He is a good man:" not they who said, "He deceiveth the people." As for them who said "He deceiveth the people," their din was heard like the noise of dry leaves. "He deceiveth the people," they sounded more and more loudly: "He is a good man," they whispered more and more constrainedly. But now, brethren, notwithstanding that glory of Christ which is to make us immortal is not yet come, yet now, I say, His Church so increases, He has deigned to spread it abroad through the whole world, that it is now only whispered. "He deceiveth the people;" and more and more loudly it sounds forth, "He is a good man."

Footnotes

[546] Acts ix. 4. [547] John xviii. 6. [548] Job ix. 24. [549] Gen. xi. 27. [550] Gen. xxviii. 2. [551] Gal. iv. 4. [552] Matt. xx. 22. [553] Ps. lxxv. 2. [554] Ps. xciv. 14. [555] Matt. xix. 28. [556] 1 Cor. vi. 3. [557] Ps. l. 3. [558] Isa. liii. 7. [559] Isa. xlii. 14. [560] Ps. lxxiii. 1-3. [561] Col. iii. 3, 4. [562] 2 Cor. i. 20. [563] 1 Cor. x. 1. [564] Rom. x. 4. [565] 1 Cor. ii. 16, 17. [566] Matt. v. 6. [567] 1 Cor. x. 4; Num. xx. 11. [568] Col. iii. 3. [569] Ps. l. 3. [570] Ps. xcvii. 3. [571] Matt. iii. 10. .


Tractate XXIX.

Chapter VII. 14-18

1. What follows of the Gospel and was read to-day, we must next in order look at, and speak from it as the Lord may grant us. Yesterday it was read thus far, that although they had not seen the Lord Jesus in the temple on the feast-day, yet they were speaking about Him: "And some said, He is a good man: but others said, Nay; but he seduceth the people." For this was said for the comfort of those who, afterwards preaching God's word, were to be seducers, and yet true men. [572] For if to seduce is to deceive, neither was Christ a seducer, nor His apostles, nor ought any Christian to be such; but if to seduce (to lead aside) is by persuading to lead one from something to something else, we ought to inquire into the whence and the whither: if from evil to good, the seducer is a good man; if from good to evil, the seducer is a bad man. In that sense, then, in which men are seduced from evil to good, would that all of us both were called, and actually were seducers!

2. Then afterwards the Lord went up to the feast, "about the middle of the feast, and taught." "And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" He who was in secret taught, He was speaking openly and was not restrained. For that hiding of Himself was for the sake of example; this showing Himself openly was an intimation of His power. But as He taught, "the Jews marvelled;" all indeed, so far as I think, marvelled, but all were not converted. And why this wondering? Because all knew where He was born, where He had been brought up; they had never seen Him learning letters, but they heard Him disputing about the law, bringing forward testimonies of the law, which none could bring forward unless he had read, and none could read unless he had learned letters: and therefore they marvelled. But their marvelling was made an occasion to the Master of insinuating the truth more deeply into their minds. By reason, indeed of their wondering and words, the Lord said something profound, and worthy of being more diligently looked into and discussed. On account of which I would urge you, my beloved, to earnestness, not only in hearing for yourselves, but also in praying for us.

3. How then did the Lord answer those that were marvelling how He knew letters which He had not learned? "My doctrine," saith He, "is not mine, but His that sent me." This is the first profundity. For He seems as if in a few words He had spoken contraries. For He says not, This doctrine is not mine; but, "My doctrine is not mine." If not Thine, how Thine? If Thine, how not Thine? For Thou sayest both: both, "my doctrines;" and, "not mine." For if He had said, This doctrine is not mine, there would have been no question. But now, brethren, in the first place, consider well the question, and so in due order expect the solution. For he who sees not the question proposed, how can he understand what is expounded? The subject of inquiry, then, is that which He says, "My, not mine" this appears to be contrary; how "my," how "not mine"? If we carefully look at what the holy evangelist himself says in the beginning of his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" thence hangs the solution of this question. What then is the doctrine of the Father, but the Father's Word? Therefore, Christ Himself is the doctrine of the Father, if He is the Word of the Father. But since the Word cannot be of none, but of some one, He said both "His doctrine," namely, Himself, and also, "not His own," because He is the Word of the Father. For what is so much "Thine" as Thyself? And what so much not Thine as Thyself, if that Thou art is of another?

4. The Word then is God; and it is also the Word of a stable, unchangeable doctrine, not such as can be sounded by syllables and fleeting, but abiding with the Father, to which abiding doctrine let us be converted, being admonished by the transitory sounds of the voice. For that which is transitory does not so admonish us as to call us to transitory things. We are admonished to love God. All this that I have said were syllables; they smote through the air to reach your sense of hearing, and by sounding passed away: that, however, which I advise you ought not so to pass away, because He whom I exhort you to love passes not away; and when you, exhorted in transient syllables, shall have been converted, you shall not pass away, but shall abide with Him who is abiding. There is therefore in the doctrine this great matter, this deep and eternal thing which is permanent: whither all things that pass away in time call us, when they mean well and are not falsely put forward. For, in fact, all the signs which we produce by sounds do signify something which is not sound. For God is not the two short syllables "Deus," and it is not the two short syllables that we worship, and it is not the two short syllables that we adore, nor is it to the two short syllables that we desire to come--two syllables which almost cease to sound before they have begun to sound; nor in sounding them is there room for the second until the first has passed away. There remains, then, something great which is called "God," although the sound does not remain when we say the word "God." Thus direct your thoughts to the doctrine of Christ, and ye shall arrive at the Word of God; and when you have arrived at the Word of God, consider this, "The Word was God," and you will see that it was said truly, "my doctrine:" consider also whose the Word is, and you will see that it was rightly said, "is not mine."

5. Therefore, to speak briefly, beloved, it seems to me that the Lord Jesus Christ said, "My doctrine is not mine," meaning the same thing as if He said, "I am not from myself." For although we say and believe that the Son is equal to the Father, and that there is not any diversity of nature and substance in them, that there has not intervened any interval of time between Him that begets and Him that is begotten, nevertheless we say these things, while keeping and guarding this, that the one is the Father, the other the Son. But Father He is not if He have not a Son, and Son He is not if He have not a Father: but yet the Son is God from the Father; and the Father is God, but not from the Son. The Father of the Son, not God from the Son: but the other is Son of the Father, and God from the Father. For the Lord Christ is called Light from Light. The Light then which is not from Light, and the equal Light which is not from Light, are together one Light not two Lights.

6. If we have understood this, thanks be to God; but if any has not sufficiently understood, man has done as far as he could: as for the rest, let him see whence he may hope to understand. As laborers outside, we can plant and water; but it is of God to give the increase. "My doctrine," saith He, "is not mine, but His that sent me." Let him who says he has not yet understood hear counsel. For since it was a great and profound matter that had been spoken, the Lord Christ Himself did certainly see that all would not understand this so profound a matter, and He gave counsel in the sequel. Dost thou wish to understand? Believe. For God has said by the prophet: "Except ye believe, ye shall not understand." [573] To the same purpose what the Lord here also added as He went on--"If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from myself." What is the meaning of this, "If any man be willing to do His will"? But I had said, if any man believe; and I gave this counsel: If thou hast not understood, said I, believe. For understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand; since, "except ye believe, ye shall not understand." Therefore when I would counsel the obedience of believing toward the possibility of understanding, and say that our Lord Jesus Christ has added this very thing in the following sentence, we find Him to have said, "If any man be willing to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine." What is "he shall know"? It is the same thing as "he shall understand." But what is "If any man be willing to do His will"? It is the same thing as to believe. All men indeed perceive that "shall know" is the same thing as "shall understand:" but that the saying, "If any man be willing to do His will," refers to believing, all do not perceive; to perceive this more accurately, we need the Lord Himself for expounder, to show us whether the doing of the Father's will does in reality refer to believing. But who does not know that this is to do the will of God, to work the work of God; that is, to work that work which is pleasing to Him? But the Lord Himself says openly in another place: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent." [574] "That ye believe on Him," not, that ye believe Him. But if ye believe on Him, ye believe Him; yet he that believes Him does not necessarily believe on Him. For even the devils believed Him, but they did not believe on Him. Again, moreover, of His apostles we can say, we believe Paul; but not, we believe on Paul: we believe Peter; but not, we believe on Peter. For, "to him that believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousness." [575] What then is "to believe on Him"? By believing to love Him, by believing to esteem highly, by believing to go into Him and to be incorporated in His members. It is faith itself then that God exacts from us: and He finds not that which He exacts, unless He has bestowed what He may find. What faith, but that which the apostle has most amply defined in another place, saying, "Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love?" [576] Not any faith of what kind soever, but "faith that worketh by love:" let this faith be in thee, and thou shall understand concerning the doctrine. What indeed shall thou understand? That "this doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me;" that is, thou shall understand that Christ the Son of God, who is the doctrine of the Father, is not from Himself, but is the Son of the Father.

7. This sentence overthrows the Sabellian heresy. The Sabellians have dared to affirm that the Son is the very same as He who is also the Father: that the names are two, but the reality one. If the names were two and reality one, it would not be said, "My doctrine is not mine." Anyhow, if Thy doctrine is not Thine, O Lord, whose is it, unless there be another whose it is? The Sabellians understand not what Thou saidst; for they see not the trinity, but follow the error of their own heart. Let us worshippers of the trinity and unity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and one God, understand concerning Christ's doctrine, how it is not His. And He said that He spoke not from Himself for this reason, because Christ is the Son of the Father, and the Father is the Father of Christ; and the Son is from God the Father, God, but God the Father is God not from God the Son.

8. "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: `This will be he who is called Antichrist,' exalting himself," as the apostle says, "above all that is called God, and that is worshipped." [577] The Lord, declaring that this same it is that will seek his own glory, not the glory of the Father, says to the Jews: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye have not received me; another will come in his own name, him ye will receive." [578] He intimated that they would receive Antichrist, who will seek the glory of his own name, puffed up, not solid; and therefore not stable, but assuredly ruinous. But our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us a great example of humility: for doubtless He is equal with the Father, for "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" yea, doubtless, He Himself said, and most truly said, "Am I so long time with you, and ye have not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." [579] Yea, doubtless, Himself said, and most truly said, "I and the Father are one." [580] If, therefore, He is one with the Father, equal to the Father, God from God, God with God, coeternal, immortal, alike unchangeable, alike without time, alike Creator and disposer of times; and yet because He came in time, and took the form of a servant, and in condition was found as a man, [581] He seeks the glory of the Father, not His own; what oughtest thou to do, O man, who, when thou doest anything good, seekest thy own glory; but when thou doest anything ill, dost meditate calumny against God? Consider thyself: thou art a creature, acknowledge thy Creator: thou art a servant, despise not thy Lord: thou art adopted, not for thy own merits; seek His glory from whom thou hast this grace, that thou art a man adopted; His, whose glory He sought who is from Him, the Only-begotten. "But He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him." In Antichrist, however, there is unrighteousness, and he is not true; because he will seek his own glory, not His by whom he was sent: for, indeed, he was not sent, but only permitted to come. Let us all, therefore, that belong to the body of Christ, seek not our own glory, that we be not led into the snares of Antichrist. But if Christ sought His glory that sent Him, how much more ought we to seek the glory of Him who made us?

Footnotes

[572] 2 Cor. vi. 8. [573] Isa. vii. 9. [574] John vi. 29. [575] Rom. iv. 5. [576] Gal. v. 6. [577] 2 Thess. ii. 4. [578] John v. 45. [579] John xiv. 9. [580] John x. 30. [581] Phil. ii. 7. .


Tractate XXX.

Chapter VII. 19-24

1. The passage of the holy Gospel of which we have before discoursed to you, beloved, is followed by that of to-day, which has just now been read. Both the disciples and the Jews heard the Lord speaking; both men of truth and liars heard the Truth speaking; both friends and enemies heard Charity speaking; both good men and bad men heard the Good speaking. They heard, but He discerned; He saw and foresaw whom His discourse profited and would profit. Among those who were then, He saw; among us who were to be, He foresaw. Let us therefore hear the Gospel, just as if we were listening to the Lord Himself present: nor let us say, O happy they who were able to see Him! because there were many of them who saw, and also killed Him; and there are many among us who have not seen Him, and yet have believed. For the precious truth that sounded forth from the mouth of the Lord was both written for our sakes, and preserved for our sakes, and recited for our sakes, and will be recited also for the sake of our prosperity, even until the end of the world. The Lord is above; but the Lord, the Truth, is also here. For the body of the Lord, in which He rose again from the dead, can be only in one place; but His truth is everywhere diffused. Let us then hear the Lord, and let us also speak that which He shall have granted to us concerning His own words.

2. "Did not Moses," saith He, "give you the law, and yet none of you doeth the law? Why do ye seek to kill me?" For ye seek to kill me just for this reason, that none of you doeth the law; for if ye did do the law, ye would recognize Christ in its very letters, and ye would not kill Him when present with you. And they answered: "The crowd answered Him;" answered as a tumultuous crowd, [582] things not pertaining to order, but to confusion; in a word, the crowd was disturbed. See what answer it made: "Thou hast a devil: who seeks to kill thee?" As if it were not worse to say, "Thou hast a devil," than to kill Him. To Him, indeed, was it said, that He had a devil, who was casting out devils. What else can a turbulent disorderly crowd say? What else can filth stirred up do but stink? The crowd was disturbed; by what? By the truth. For the eyes that have not soundness cannot endure the brightness of the light.

3. But the Lord, manifestly not disturbed, but calm in His truth, rendered not evil for evil nor railing for railing; [583] although, if He were to say to these men, You have a devil, He would certainly be saying what was true. For they would not have said such things to the Truth, unless the falsehood of the devil had instigated them. What then did He answer? Let us calmly hear, and drink in the serene word: "I have done one work, and ye all marvel." As if He said, What if ye were to see all my works? For they were His works which they saw in the world, and yet they saw not Him who made them all: He did one thing, and they were disturbed because he made a man whole on the Sabbath-day. As if, indeed, when any sick man recovered his health on the Sabbath-day, it had been any other that made such a man whole than He who offended them, because He made one man whole on the Sabbath-day. For who else has made others whole than He who is health itself,--He who gives even to the beasts that health which He gave to this man? For it was bodily health. The health of the flesh is repaired, and the flesh dies; and when it is repaired, death is only put off, not taken away. However, even that same health, brethren, is from the Lord, through whomsoever it may be given: by whose care and ministry soever it may be imparted, it is given by Him from whom all health is, to whom it is said in the psalm, "O Lord, Thou wilt save men and beasts; as Thou hast multiplied Thy mercy, O God." For because Thou art God Thy multiplied mercy reaches even to the safety of human flesh, reaches even to the safety of dumb animals; but Thou who givest health of flesh common to men and beasts, is there no health which Thou reservest for men? There is certainly another which is not only not common to men and beasts, but to men themselves is not common to good and bad. In a word, when he had there spoken of this health which men and cattle receive in common, because of that health which men, but only the good, ought to hope for, he added as he went on: "But the sons of men shall put their trust under the cover of Thy wings. They shall be fully satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt give them drink from the torrent of Thy pleasure. For with Thee is the fountain of life; and in Thy light shall they see light." [584] This is the health which belongs to good men, those whom he called "sons of men;" whilst he had said above, "O Lord, Thou shall save men and beasts." How then? Were not those men sons of men, that after he had said men, he should go on and say, But the sons of men: as if men and sons of men meant different things? Yet I do not believe that the Holy Spirit had said this without some indication of distinction. The term men refers to the first Adam, sons of men to Christ. Perhaps, indeed, men relate to the first man; but sons of men relate to the Son of man.

4. "I have done one work, and ye all marvel." And immediately He subjoined: "Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision." It was well done that ye received circumcision from Moses. "Not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers;" since it was Abraham that first received circumcision from the Lord. [585] "And ye circumcise on the Sabbath-day." Moses has convicted you: ye have received in the law to circumcise on the eighth day; ye have received in the law to cease from labor on the seventh day; [586] if the eighth day from the child's birth fall on the seventh day of the week, what will ye do? Will ye abstain from work to keep the Sabbath, or will ye circumcise to fulfill the sacrament of the eighth day? But I know, saith He, what ye do. "Ye circumcise a man." Why? Because circumcision relates to what is a kind of seal of salvation, and men ought not to abstain from the work of salvation on the Sabbath-day. Therefore be ye not "angry with me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath-day." "If," saith He, "a man on the Sabbath-day receiveth circumcision that the law should not be broken" (for it was something saving that was ordained by Moses in that ordinance of circumcision), why are ye angry at me for working a healing on the Sabbath-day?

5. Perhaps, indeed, that circumcision pointed to the Lord Himself, at whom they were indignant, because He worked cures and healing. For circumcision was commanded to be applied on the eighth day: and what is circumcision but the spoiling of the flesh? This circumcision, then, signified the removal of carnal lusts from the heart. Therefore not without cause was it given, and ordered to be made in that member; since by that member the creature of mortal kind is procreated. By one man came death, just as by one man the resurrection of the dead; [587] and by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. [588] Therefore every man is born with a foreskin, because every man is born with the vice of propagation; and God cleanses not, either from the vice with which we are born, or from the vices which we add thereto by ill living, except by the stony knife, the Lord Christ. For Christ was the Rock. Now they used to circumcise with stone knives, and by the name of rock they prefigured Christ; and yet when He was present with them they did not acknowledge Him, but besides, they sought to kill Him. But why on the eighth day, unless because after the seventh day of the week the Lord rose again on the Lord's day? Therefore Christ's resurrection, which happened on the third day indeed of His passion, but on the eighth day in the days of the week, that same resurrection it is that doth circumcise us. Hear of those that were circumcised with the real stone, while the apostle admonishes them: "If then ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting on the right hand of God; set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." [589] He speaks to the circumcised: Christ has risen; He has taken away from you carnal desires, evil lusts, the superfluity with which you were born, and that far worse which you had added thereto by ill living; being circumcised by the Rock, why do you still set your affections on the earth? And finally, for that "Moses gave you the law, and ye circumcise a man on the Sabbath-day," understand that by this is signified the good work which I have done, in that I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath-day; because he was cured that he might be whole in body, and also he believed that he might be whole in soul.

6. "Judge not according to personal appearance, but judge righteous judgment." What is this? Just now, you who by the law of Moses circumcise on the Sabbath-day are not angry with Moses; and because I made a man whole on the Sabbath-day you are angry with me. You judge by the person; give heed to the truth. I do not prefer myself to Moses, says the Lord, who was also the Lord of Moses. So consider us as you would two men, as both men; judge between us, but judge a true judgment; do not condemn him by honoring me, but honor me by understanding him. For this He said to them in another place: "If ye believed Moses ye would certainly believe me also, for he wrote of me." [590] But in this place He willed not to say this, Himself and Moses being as it were placed before these men for judgment. Because of Moses' law you circumcise, even when it happens to be the Sabbath-day, and will ye not that I should show the beneficence of healing during the Sabbath? For the Lord of circumcision and the Lord of the Sabbath is the same who is the Author of health; and they are servile works that ye are forbidden to do on the Sabbath; if ye really understand what servile works are, ye sin not. For he that committeth sin is the servant of sin. Is it a servile work to heal a man on the Sabbath-day? Ye do eat and drink (to infer somewhat from the admonition of our Lord Jesus Christ, and from His words); at any rate, why do ye eat and drink on the Sabbath, but because that what ye do pertains to health? By this ye show that the works of health are not in any wise to be omitted on the Sabbath. Therefore "do not judge by person, but judge righteous judgment." Consider me as ye would a man; consider Moses as a man: if ye will judge according to the truth, ye will condemn neither Moses nor me; and when ye know the truth ye will know me, because I am the Truth.

7. It requires great labor in this world, brethren to get clear of the vice which the Lord has noted in this place, so as not to judge by appearance, but to keep right judgment. The Lord, indeed, admonished the Jews, but He warned us also; them He convicted, us He instructed; them He reproved, us He encouraged. Let us not imagine that this was not said to us, simply because we were not there at that time. It was written, it is read; when it was recited we heard it; but we heard it as said to the Jews; let us not place ourselves behind ourselves and watch Him reproving enemies, while we ourselves do that which the truth may reprove in us. The Jews indeed judged by appearance, but for that reason they belong not to the New Testament, they have not the kingdom of heaven in Christ, nor are joined to the society of the holy angels; they sought earthly things of the Lord; for a land of promise, victory over enemies, fruitfulness of child-bearing, increase of children, abundance of fruit,--all which things were indeed promised to them by God, the True and the Good, promised to them, however, as unto carnal men,--all these things made for them the Old Testament. What is the Old Testament? The inheritance, as it were, belonging to the old man. We have been renewed, have been made a new man, because He who is the new man has come. What is so new as to be born of a virgin? Therefore, because there was not in Him what instruction might renew, because He had no sin, there was given Him a new origin of birth. In Him a new birth, in us a new man. What is a new man? A man renewed from oldness. Renewed unto what? Unto desiring heavenly things, unto longing for things eternal, unto earnestly seeking the country which is above and fears no foe, where we do not lose a friend nor fear an enemy; where we live with good affection, without any want; where no longer any advances, because none fails; where no man is born, because no man dies; where there is no hungering nor thirsting; where immortality is fullness, and truth our aliment. Having these promises, and pertaining to the New Testament, and being made heirs of a new inheritance, and co-heirs of the Lord Himself, we have a far different hope from theirs: let us not judge by appearance, but hold right judgment.

8. Who is he that judges not according to the person? He that loves equally. Equal love causes that persons be not accepted. It is not when we honor men in diverse measure according to their degrees that we ought to fear lest we are accepting persons. For where we judge between two, and at times between relations, sometimes it happens that judgment has to be made between father and son; the father complains of a bad son, or the son complains of a harsh father; we regard the honor which is due to the father from the son; we do not make the son equal to the father in honor, but we give him preference if he has a good cause: let us regard the son on an equality with the father in the truth, and thus shall we bestow the honor due, so that equity destroy not merit. Thus we profit by the words of the Lord, and that we may profit, we are assisted by His grace.

Footnotes

[582] Turba. [583] 1 Pet. iii. 9. [584] Ps. xxxvi. 7-10. [585] Gen. xvii. 10. [586] Ex. xx. 10. [587] 1 Cor. xv. 21. [588] Rom. v. 12. [589] Col. iii. 1, 2. [590] John v. 46. .


Tractate XXXI.

Chapter VII. 25-36

1. You remember, beloved, in the former discourses,--for it was both read in the Gospel and also discussed by us according to our ability,--how that the Lord Jesus went up to the feast-day, as it were in secret, not because He feared lest He should be laid hold of,--He who had the power not to be laid hold of,--but to signify that even in that very feast which was celebrated by the Jews He Himself was hidden, and that the mystery of the feast was His own. In the passage read to-day then, that which was supposed to be timidity appeared as power; for He spoke openly on the feast-day, so that the crowds marvelled, and said that which we have heard when the passage was read: "Is not this he whom they sought to kill? And, lo, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the Christ?" They who knew with what fierceness He was sought after, wondered by what power He was kept from being taken. Then, not fully understanding His power, they fancied it was the knowledge of the rulers, that these rulers knew Him to be the very Christ, and that for this reason they spared Him whom they had with so much eagerness sought out to be put to death.

2. Then those same persons who had said, "Did the rulers know that this is the Christ?" proposed a question among themselves, by which it appeared to them that He was not the Christ; for they said in addition, "But we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is." As to how this opinion among the Jews arose, that "when Christ comes, no man knoweth whence He is" (for it did not arise without reason), if we consider the Scriptures, we find, brethren, that the Holy Scriptures have declared of Christ that "He shall be called a Nazarene." [591] Therefore they foretold whence He is. Again, if we seek the place of His nativity, as that whence He is by birth, neither was this hidden from the Jews, because of the Scriptures which had foretold these things. For when the Magi, on the appearing of a star, sought Him out to worship Him, they came to Herod and told him what they sought and what they meant: and he, having called together those who had knowledge of the law, inquired of them where Christ should be born: they told him, "In Bethlehem of Judah," and also brought forward the prophetic testimony. [592] If, therefore, the prophets had foretold both the place where the origin of His flesh was, and the place where His mother would bring Him forth, whence did spring that opinion among the Jews which we have just heard, but from this, that the Scriptures had proclaimed beforehand, and had foretold both? In respect of His being man, the Scriptures foretold whence He should be; in respect of His being God, this was hidden from the ungodly, and it required godly men to discover it. Moreover, they said this, "When Christ comes, no man knoweth whence He is," because that which was spoken by Isaiah produced this opinion in them, viz. "And His generation, who shall tell?" [593] In short, the Lord Himself made answer to both, that they both did, and also did not know whence He was; that He might testify to the holy prophecy which before was predicted of Him, both as to the humanity of infirmity and also as to the divinity of majesty.

3. Hear, therefore, the word of the Lord, brethren; see how He confirmed to them both what they said, "We know this man whence he is," and also what they said, "When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is. Then cried Christ in the temple, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not." That is to say, ye both know me, and ye know me not; ye both know whence I am, and ye know not whence I am. Ye know whence I am: Jesus of Nazareth, whose parents also ye knew. For in this case, the birth of the Virgin alone was hidden, to whom, however, her husband was witness; for the same was able faithfully to declare this, who was also able as a husband to be jealous. Therefore, this birth of the Virgin excepted, they knew all that in Jesus pertains to man: His face was known, His country was known, His family was known; where He was born was to be known by inquiry. Rightly then did He say, "Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am," according to the flesh and form of man which He bore; but according to His divinity, "And I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not;" but yet that ye may know Him, believe on Him whom He has sent, and ye will know Him. For, "No man has seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him:" [594] and, "None knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." [595]

4. Lastly, when He had said, "But He that sent me is true, whom ye know not," in order to show them whence they might know that which they did not know, He subjoined, "I know Him." Therefore seek from me to know Him. But why is it that I know Him? "Because I am from Him, and He sent me." Gloriously has He shown both. "I am from Him," said He; because the Son is from the Father, and whatever the Son is, He is of Him whose Son He is. Hence we say that the Lord Jesus is God of God: we do not say that the Father is God of God, but simply God: and we say that the Lord Jesus is Light of Light; we do not say that the Father is Light of Light, but simply Light. Accordingly, to this belongs that which He said "I am from Him." But as to my being seen of you in the flesh, "He sent me." When thou hearest "He sent me," do not understand a difference of nature to be meant, but the authority of Him that begets.

5. "Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come;" that is, because He was not willing. For what is this. "His hour was not yet come"? The Lord was not born under fate. This is not to be believed concerning thee, much less concerning Him by whom thou wast made. If thy hour is His good will, what is His hour but His good will? He meant not therefore an hour in which He should be forced to die, but that in which He would deign to be put to death. But He was awaiting the time in which He should die, for He awaited also the time in which He should be born. The apostle, speaking of this time, says, "But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son." [596] For this cause many say, Why did not Christ come before? To whom we must make answer, Because the fullness of time had not yet come, while He by whom the times were made sets their bounds; for He knew when He ought to come. In the first place, it was necessary that He should be foretold through a long series of times and years; for it was not something insignificant that was to come: He who was to be ever held, had to be for a long time foretold. The greater the judge that was coming, the longer the train of heralds that preceded him. In short, when the fullness of time came, He also came who was to deliver us from time. For being delivered from time, we shall come to that eternity where there is no time: there it is not said, When shall the hour come, for the day is everlasting, a day which is neither preceded by a yesterday, nor cut off by a morrow. But in this world days roll on, some are passing away, others come; none abides; and the moments in which we are speaking drive out one another in turn, nor stands the first syllable for the second to sound. Since we began to speak we are somewhat older, and without doubt I am just now older than I was in the morning; thus, nothing stands, nothing remains fixed in time. Therefore ought we to love Him by whom the times were made, that we may be delivered from time and be fixed in eternity, where there is no more changeableness of times. Great, therefore, is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that for our sakes He was made in time, by whom the times were made; that He was made among all things, by whom all things were made; that He became what He made. For He was made what He had made; for He was made man who had made man, lest what He had made should perish. According to this dispensation, the hour of His birth had now come, and He was born; but not yet had come the hour of His suffering, therefore not yet had He suffered.

6. In short, that ye may know that the words refer, not to the necessity of His dying, but to His power,--I speak this for the sake of some who, when they hear "His hour was not yet come," are determined on believing in fate, and their hearts become infatuated;--that ye may know, then, that it was His power of dying, recollect the passion, look at Him crucified. While hanging on the tree, He said, "I thirst." They, having heard this, offered to Him on the cross vinegar by a sponge on a reed. He received it, and said, "It is finished;" and, bowing His head, gave up the ghost. You see His power of dying, that He waited for this--until all things should be fulfilled that had been foretold concerning Him--to take place before His death. For the prophet had said, "They gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." [597] He waited for all these things to be fulfilled: after they were completed, He said, "It is finished;" and He departed by power, because He came not by necessity. Hence some wondered more at this His power to die than at His ability to work miracles. For they came to the cross to take the bodies down from the tree, for the Sabbath was drawing near, and the thieves were found still living. The punishment of the cross was so much the harder because it tortured men so long, and all that were crucified were killed by a lingering death. But the thieves, that they might not remain on the tree, were forced to die by having their legs broken, that they might be taken down thence. The Lord, however, was found to be already dead, [598] and the men marvelled; and they who despised Him when living, so wondered at Him when dead, that some of them said, "Truly this was the Son of God." [599] Whence also that, brethren, where He says to those that seek Him, "I am He;" and they, going backward, all fell to the ground? [600] Consequently there was in Him supreme power. Nor was He forced to die at an hour; but He waited the hour on which His will might fittingly be done, not that on which necessity might be fulfilled against His will.

7. "But many of the people believed on Him." The Lord made whole the humble and the poor. The rulers were mad, and therefore they not only did not acknowledge the Physician, but even were eager to slay Him. There was a certain crowd of people which quickly saw its own sickness, and without delay recognized His remedy. See what that very crowd, moved by His miracles, said: "When Christ cometh will He do more signs than these?" Surely, unless there will be two Christs, this is the Christ. Consequently, in saying these things, they believed on Him.

8. But those rulers, having heard the assurance of the multitude, and that murmuring noise of the people in which Christ was being glorified, "sent officers to take Him." To take whom? Him not yet willing to be taken. Because then they could not take Him while He would not, they were sent to hear Him teaching. Teaching what? "Then said Jesus, Yet a little while I am with you." What ye wish to do now ye will do, but not just now; because I am not just now willing. Why am I now as yet unwilling? Because "yet a little while I am with you; and then I go unto Him that sent me." I must complete my dispensation, and in this manner come to my suffering.

9. "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come." Here He has already foretold His resurrection; for they would not acknowledge Him when present, and afterwards they sought Him when they saw the multitude already believing on Him. For great signs were wrought, even when the Lord was risen again and ascended into heaven. Then mighty deeds were done by His disciples, but He wrought by them as He wrought by Himself: since, indeed, He had said to them, "Without me ye can do nothing." [601] When that lame man who sat at the gate rose up at Peter's voice, and walked on his feet, so that men marvelled, Peter spoke to them to this effect, that it was not by his own power that he did this, but in the virtue of Him whom they slew. [602] Many pricked in the heart said, "What shall we do?" For they saw themselves bound by an immense crime of impiety, since they slew Him whom they ought to have revered and worshipped; and this crime they thought inexpiable. A great wickedness indeed it was, the thought of which might make them despair; yet it did not behove them to despair, for whom the Lord, as He hung on the cross, deigned to pray. For He had said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." [603] He saw some who were His own among many who were aliens; for these He sought pardon, from whom at the time He was still receiving injury. He regarded not that He was being put to death by them, but only that He was dying for them. It was a great thing that was forgiven them, it was a great thing that was done by them and for them, so that no man should despair of the forgiveness of his sin when they who slew Christ obtained pardon. Christ died for us, but surely He was not put to death by us? But those men indeed saw Christ dying by their own villany; and yet they believed on Christ pardoning their villanies. Until they drank the blood they had shed, they despaired of their own salvation. Therefore said He this: "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, ye cannot come;" because they were to seek Him after the resurrection, being pricked in their heart with remorse. Nor did He say "where I will be," but "where I am." For Christ was always in that place whither He was about to return; for He came in such manner that He did not depart from that place. Hence He says in another place, "No man has ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." [604] He said not, who was in heaven. He spoke on the earth, and declared that He was at the same time in heaven. He came in such wise that He departed not thence; and He so returned as not to abandon us. What do ye marvel at? This is God's doing. For man, as regards his body, is in a place, and departs from a place; and when he comes to another place, he will not be in that place whence he came: but God fills all things, and is all everywhere; He is not held in places according to space. Nevertheless the Lord Christ was, as regards His visible flesh, on the earth: as regards His invisible majesty, He was in heaven and on earth; and therefore He says, "Where I am, thither ye cannot come." Nor did He say, "Ye shall not be able." but "ye are not able to come;" for at that time they were such as were not able. And that ye may know that this was not said to cause despair, He said something of the same kind also to His disciples: "Whither I go ye cannot come." [605] Yet while praying in their behalf, He said, "Father, I will that where I am they also may be with me." [606] And, finally, this He expounded to Peter, and says to him, "Whither I go thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me hereafter." [607]

10. "Then said the Jews," not to Him, but "to themselves, Whither will this man go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersion among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?" For they knew not what they said; but, it being His will, they prophesied. The Lord was indeed about to go to the Gentiles, not by His bodily presence, but still with His feet. What were His feet? Those which Saul desired to trample upon by persecution, when the Head cried out to him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" [608] What is this saying that He said, "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?" Wherefore the Lord said this they knew not, and yet they did predict something that was to be without knowing it. For this is what the Lord said that they knew not the place, if place however it must be called, which is the bosom of the Father, from which Christ never departed; nor were they competent to conceive where Christ was, whence Christ never withdrew, whither He was to return, where He was all the while dwelling. How was it possible for the human heart to conceive this, least of all to explain it with the tongue? This, then, they in no wise understood; and yet by occasion of this they foretold our salvation, that the Lord would go to the dispersion of the Gentiles, and would fulfill that which they read but did not understand. "A people whom I have not known served me, and by the hearing of the ear obeyed me." [609] They before whose eyes He was, heard Him not; those heard Him in whose ears He was sounded.

11. For of that Church of the Gentiles which was to come, the woman that had the issue of blood was a type: she touched and was not seen; she was not known and yet was healed. It was in reality a figure what the Lord asked: "Who touched me?" As if not knowing, He healed her as unknown: so has He done also to the Gentiles. We did not get to know Him in the flesh, yet we have been made worthy to eat His flesh, and to be members in His flesh. In what way? Because He sent to us. Whom? His heralds, His disciples, His servants, His redeemed whom He created, but whom He redeemed, His brethren also. I have said but little of all that they are: His own members, Himself; for He sent to us His own members, and He made us His members. Nevertheless, Christ has not been among us with the bodily form which the Jews saw and despised; because this also was said concerning Him, even as the apostle says: "Now I say that Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." [610] He owed it to have come to those by whose fathers and to whose fathers He was promised. For this reason He says also Himself: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [611] But what says the apostle in the following words? "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy." What, moreover, saith the Lord Himself? "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold." [612] He who had said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," how has He other sheep to which He was not sent, except that He intimated that He was not sent to show His bodily presence but to the Jews only, who saw and killed Him? And yet many of them, both before and afterwards, believed. The first harvest was winnowed from the cross, that there might be a seed whence another harvest might spring up. But at this present time, when roused by the fame of the gospel, and by its goodly odor, His faithful ones among all nations believe, He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles, when He shall come who has already come; when He shall be seen by all, He who was then not seen by some, by some was seen; when He shall come to judge who came to be judged; when He shall come to distinguish who came not to be distinguish ed. For Christ was not discerned by the ungodly, but was condemned with the ungodly; for it was said concerning Him, "He was accounted among the wicked." [613] The robber escaped, Christ was condemned. He who was loaded with criminal accusations received pardon; He who has released from their crimes all who confess Him, was condemned. Nevertheless even the cross itself, if thou considerest it well, was a judgment-seat; for the Judge being set up in the middle, one thief who believed was delivered, the other who reviled was condemned. [614] Already He signified what He is to do with the quick and the dead: some He will set on His right hand and others on His left. That thief was like those that shall be on the left hand, the other like those that shall be on the right. He was undergoing judgment, and He threatened judgment.

Footnotes

[591] Matt. ii. 23. [592] Matt. ii. 6. [593] Isa. viii. 8. [594] John i. 8. [595] Matt. xi. 27. [596] Gal. iv. 4. [597] Ps. lxix. 21. [598] John xix. 28-33. [599] Matt. xxvii. 54. [600] John xviii. 6. [601] John xv. 5. [602] Acts iii. 2-16. [603] Luke xxiii. 34. [604] John iii. 13. [605] John xiii. 33. [606] John xvii. 24. [607] John xiii. 36. [608] Acts ix. 4. [609] Ps. xviii. 44. [610] Rom. xv. 8. [611] Matt. xv. 24. [612] John x. 16. [613] Isa. liii. 12. [614] Luke xxii. 43. .


Tractate XXXII.

Chapter VII. 37-39

1. Among the dissensions and doubtings of the Jews concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, among other things which He said, by which some were confounded, others taught: "On the last day of that feast" (for it was then that these things were done) which is called the feast of tabernacles; that is, the building of tents, of which feast you remember, my beloved, that we have already discoursed, the Lord Jesus Christ calls, not by speaking in any way soever, but by crying aloud, that whoso thirsts may come to Him. If we thirst, let us come; and not by our feet, but by our affections; let us come, not by removing from our place, but by loving. Although, according to the inner man, he that loves does also move from a place. But it is one thing to move with the body, another thing to move with the heart: he migrates with the body who changes his place by a motion of the body; he migrates with the heart who changes his affection by a motion of the heart. If thou lovest one thing, and didst love another thing before, thou art not now where thou wast.

2. Accordingly, the Lord cries aloud to us: for, "He stood and cried out, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." We are not obliged to delay to inquire what this meant, since the evangelist has explained it. For why the Lord said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink;" and, "He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;" the evangelist has subsequently explained, saying: "But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." There is therefore an inner thirst and an inner belly, because there is an inner man. And that inner man is indeed invisible, but the outer man is visible; but yet better is the inner than the outer. And this which is not seen is the more loved; for it is certain that the inner man is loved more than the outer. How is this certain? Let every man prove it in himself. For although they who live ill may surrender their minds to the body, yet they do wish to live, and to live is the property of the mind only; and they who rule, manifest themselves more than those things that are ruled. Now it is minds that rule, bodies are ruled. Every man rejoices in pleasure, and receives pleasure by the body: but separate the mind from it, and nothing remains in the body to rejoice; and if there is joy of the body, it is the mind that rejoices. If it has joy of its dwelling, ought it not to have joy of itself? And if the mind has whereof it may have delight outside itself, does it remain without delights within? It is quite certain that a man loves his soul more than his body. But further, a man loves the soul even in another man more than the body. What is it that is loved in a friend, where the love is the purer and more sincere? What in the friend is loved--the mind, or the body? If fidelity is loved, the mind is loved; if benevolence is loved, the mind is the seat of benevolence: if this is what thou lovest in another, that he too loves thee, it is the mind thou lovest, because it is not the flesh, but the mind that loves. For therefore thou lovest, because he loves thee: ask why he loves thee, and then see what it is thou lovest. Consequently, it is more loved, and yet is not seen.

3. I would say something further, by which it may more clearly appear to you, beloved, how much the mind is loved, and how it is preferred to the body. Those wanton lovers even, who delight in beauty of bodies, and are charmed by shapeliness of limbs, love the more when they are loved. For when a man loves, and finds that he is regarded with hatred, he feels more anger than liking. Why does he feel anger rather than liking? Because the love that he bestows is not given him in return. If, therefore, even the lovers of bodies desire to be loved in return, and this delights them more when they are loved, what shall we say of the lovers of minds? And if the lovers of minds are great, what shall we say of the lovers of God who makes minds beautiful? For as the mind gives grace to the body, so it is God that gives grace to the mind. For it is only the mind that causes that in the body by which it is loved; when the mind has left it, it is a corpse at which thou hast a horror; and how much soever thou mayest have loved its beautiful limbs, thou makest haste to bury it. Hence, the ornament of the body is the mind; the ornament of the mind is God.

4. The Lord, therefore, cries aloud to us to come and drink, if we thirst within; and He says that when we have drunk, rivers of living water shall flow from our belly. The belly of the inner man is the conscience of the heart. Having drunk that water then, the conscience being purged begins to live; and drinking in, it will have a fountain, will be itself a fountain. What is the fountain, and what the river that flows from the belly of the inner man? Benevolence, whereby a man will consult the interest of his neighbor. For if he imagines that what he drinks ought to be only for his own satisfying, there is no flowing of living water from his belly; but if he is quick to consult for the good of his neighbor, then he becomes not dry, because there is a flowing. We will now see what it is that they drink who believe in the Lord; because we surely are Christians, and if we believe, we drink. And it is every man's duty to know in himself whether or not he drinks, and whether he lives by what he drinks; for the fountain does not forsake us if we forsake not the fountain.

5. The evangelist explained, as I have said, whereof the Lord had cried out, to what kind of drink He had invited, what He had procured for them that drink, saying, "But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." What spirit does He speak of, if not the Holy Spirit? For every man has in himself a spirit of his own, of which I spoke when I was commending to you the consideration of the mind. For every man's mind is his own spirit: of which the Apostle Paul says, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of the man which is in himself?" And then he added, "So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." [615] None knows the things that are ours but our own spirit. I indeed do not know what are thy thoughts, nor dost thou know what are mine; for those things which we think within are our own, peculiar to ourselves; and his own spirit is the witness of every man's thoughts. "So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." We with our spirit, God with His: so, however, that God with His Spirit knows also what goes on within us; but we are not able, without His own Spirit, to know what takes place in God. God, however, knows in us even what we know not in ourselves. For Peter did not know his own weakness, when he heard from the Lord that he would deny Him thrice: the sick man was ignorant of his own condition; the Physician knew him to be sick. There are then certain things which God knows in us, while we ourselves know them not. So far, however, as belongs to men, no man knows a man as he does himself: another does not know what is going on within him, but his own spirit knows it. But on receiving the Spirit of God, we learn also what takes place in God: not the whole, for we have not received the whole. We know many things from the pledge; for we have received a pledge, and the fullness of this pledge shall be given hereafter. Meanwhile, let the pledge console us in our pilgrimage here; because he who has condescended to bind himself to us by a pledge, is prepared to give us much. If such is the token, what must that be of which it is the token?

6. But what is meant by this which he says, "For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified?" He is understood to say this in a sense that is evident. For the meaning is not that the Spirit of God, which was with God, was not in being; but was not yet in them who had believed on Jesus. For thus the Lord Jesus disposed not to give them the Spirit of which we speak, until after His resurrection; and this not without a cause. And perhaps if we inquire, He will favor us to find; and if we knock, He will open for us to enter. Piety knocks, not the hand, though the hand also knocks, if it cease not from works of mercy. What then is the cause why the Lord Jesus Christ determined not to give the Holy Spirit until He should be glorified? which thing before we speak of as we may be able, we must first inquire, lest that should trouble any one, in what manner the Spirit was not yet in holy men, whilst we read in the Gospel concerning the Lord Himself newly born, that Simeon by the Holy Spirit recognized Him; that Anna the widow, a prophetess, also recognized Him; [616] that John, who baptized Him, recognized Him; [617] that Zacharias, being filled with the Holy Ghost, said many things; that Mary herself received the Holy Ghost to conceive the Lord. [618] We have therefore many preceding evidences of the Holy Spirit before the Lord was glorified by the resurrection of His flesh. Nor was it another spirit that the prophets also had, who proclaimed beforehand the coming of Christ. But still, there was to be a certain manner of this giving, which had not at all appeared before. For nowhere do we read before this, that men being gathered together had, by receiving the Holy Ghost, spoken in the tongues of all nations. But after His resurrection, when He first appeared to His disciples, He said to them: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Of this giving then it is said, "The Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. And He breathed upon their faces," [619] He who with His breath enlivened the first man, and raised him up from the clay, by which breath He gave a soul to the limbs; signifying that He was the same who breathed upon their faces, that they might rise out of the mire and renounce their miry works. Then, after His resurrection, which the evangelist calls His glorifying, did the Lord first give the Holy Ghost to His disciples. Then having tarried with them forty days, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles shows, while they were seeing Him and companying with Him, He ascended into heaven in their sight. There at the end of ten days, on the day of Pentecost, He sent the Holy Ghost from above. Which having received, they, who had been gathered together in one place, as I have said, being filled withal, spoke in the tongues of all nations.

7. How then, brethren, because he that is baptized in Christ, and believes on Him, does not speak now in the tongues of all nations, are we not to believe that he has received the Holy Ghost? God forbid that our heart should be tempted by this faithlessness. Certain we are that every man receives: but only as much as the vessel of faith that he shall bring to the fountain can contain, so much does He fill of it. Since, therefore, the Holy Ghost is even now received by men, some one may say, Why is it that no man speaks in the tongues of all nations? Because the Church itself now speaks in the tongues of all nations. Before, the Church was in one nation, where it spoke in the tongues of all. By speaking then in the tongues of all, it signified what was to come to pass; that by growing among the nations, it would speak in the tongues of all. Whoso is not in this Church, does not now receive the Holy Ghost. For, being cut off and divided from the unity of the members, which unity speaks in the tongues of all, let him declare for himself; he has it not. For if he has it, let him give the sign which was given then. What do we mean by saying, Let him give the sign which was then given? Let him speak in all tongues. He answers me: How then, dost thou speak in all tongues? Clearly I do; for every tongue is mine, namely, of the body of which I am a member. The Church, spread among the nations, speaks in all tongues; the Church is the body of Christ, in this body thou art a member: therefore, since thou art a member of that body which speaks with all tongues, believe that thou too speakest with all tongues. For the unity of the members is of one mind by charity; and that unity speaks as one man then spoke.

8. Consequently, we too receive the Holy Ghost if we love the Church, if we are joined together by charity, if we rejoice in the Catholic name and faith. Let us believe, brethren; as much as every man loves the Church of Christ, so much has he the Holy Ghost. For the Spirit is given, as the apostle saith, "to manifestation." To what manifestation? Just as the same apostle saith, "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge after the same Spirit, to another faith in the same Spirit, to another the gift of healing in one Spirit, to another the working of miracles in the same Spirit." [620] For there are many gifts given to manifestation, but thou, it may be, hast nothing of all those I have said. If thou lovest, it is not nothing that thou hast: if thou lovest unity, whoever has aught in that unity has it also for thee. Take away envy, and what I have is thine too. The envious temper puts men apart, soundness of mind unites them. In the body, the eye alone sees; but is it for itself alone that the eye sees? It sees both for the hand and the foot, and for all the other members. If a blow be coming against the foot, the eye does not turn away from it, so as not to take precaution. Again, in the body, the hand alone works, but is it for itself alone the hand works? For the eye also it works: for if a coming blow comes, not against the hand, but only against the face, does the hand say, I will not move, because it is not coming to me? So the foot by walking serves all the members: all the other members are silent, and the tongue speaks for all. We have therefore the Holy Spirit if we love the Church; but we love the Church if we stand firm in its union and charity. For the apostle himself, after he had said that diverse gifts were bestowed on diverse men, just as the offices of the several members, saith, "Yet I show you a still more pre-eminent way;" and begins to speak of charity. This he put before tongues of men and angels, before miracles of faith, before knowledge and prophecy, before even that great work of mercy by which a man distributes to the poor all that he possesses; and, lastly, put it before even the martyrdom of the body: before all these so great things he put charity. Have it, and thou shalt have all: for without it, whatever thou canst have will profit nothing. But that thou mayest know that the charity of which we are speaking refers to the Holy Spirit (for the question now in hand in the Gospel is concerning the Holy Spirit), hear the apostle when he says, "The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us." [621]

9. Why then was it the will of the Lord, seeing that the Spirit's benefits in us are the greatest, because by Him the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, to give us that Spirit after His resurrection? Why did He signify by this? In order that in our resurrection our love may be inflamed, and may part from the love of the world to run wholly towards God. For here we are born and die: let us not love this world; let us migrate hence by love; by love let us dwell above, by that love by which we love God. In this sojourn of our life let us meditate on nothing else, but that here we shall not always be, and that by good living we shall prepare a place for ourselves there, whence we shall never migrate. For our Lord Jesus Christ, after that He is risen again, "now dieth no more;" "death," as the apostle says, "shall no more have dominion over Him." [622] Behold what we must love. If we live, if we believe on Him who is risen again, He will give us, not that which men love here who love not God, or love the more the less they love Him, but love this the less the more they love Him; but let us see what He has promised us. Not earthly and temporal riches, not honors and power in this world; for you see all these things given to wicked men, that they may not be highly prized by the good. Not, in short, bodily health itself, though it is He that gives that also, but that, as you see, He gives even to the beasts. Not long life; for what, indeed, is long that will some day have an end? It is not length of days that He has promised to His believers, as if that were a great thing, or decrepit old age, which all wish for before it comes, and all murmur at when it does come. Not beauty of person, which either bodily disease or that same old age which is desired drives away. One wishes to be beautiful, and also to live to be old: these two desires cannot agree together; if thou shalt be old, thou wilt not be beautiful; when old age comes, beauty will flee away; the vigor of beauty and the groaning of old age cannot dwell together in one body. All these things, then, are not what He promised us when He said, "He that believeth in me, let him come and drink, and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." He has promised us eternal life, where we shall have no fear, where we shall not be troubled, whence we shall have no migration, where we shall not die; where there is neither bewailing a predecessor deceased, nor a hoping for a successor. Accordingly, because such is what He has promised to us that love Him, and glow with the charity of the Holy Spirit, therefore He would not give us that same Spirit until He should be glorified, so that He might show in His body the life which we have not now, but which we hope for in the resurrection.

Footnotes

[615] 1 Cor. ii. 11. [616] Luke ii. 25-38. [617] John i. 26-34. [618] Luke i. 35-79. [619] John xx. 22. [620] 1 Cor. xii. 7-9. [621] Rom. v. 5. [622] Rom. vi. 9. .


Tractate XXXIII.

Chapter VII. 40-53; VIII. 1-11

1. You remember, my beloved, that in the last discourse, by occasion of the passage of the Gospel read, we spoke to you concerning the Holy Spirit. When the Lord had invited those that believe on Him to this drinking, speaking among those who meditated to lay hold of Him, and sought to kill Him, and were not able, because it was not His will: well, when He had spoken these things, there arose a dissension among the multitude concerning Him; some thinking that He was the very Christ, others saying that Christ shall not arise from Galilee. But they who had been sent to take Him returned clear of the crime and full of admiration. For they even gave witness to His divine doctrine, when those by whom they had been sent asked, "Why have ye not brought him?" They answered that they had never heard a man so speak: "For not any man so speaks." But He spake thus, because He was God and man. But the Pharisees, repelling their testimony, said to them: "Are ye also deceived?" We see, indeed, that you also have been charmed by his discourses. "Hath any one of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on him? But this multitude who know not the law are cursed." They who knew not the law believed on Him who had sent the law; and those men who were teaching the law despised Him, that it might be fulfilled which the Lord Himself had said, "I am come that they who see not may see, and they that see may be made blind." [623] For the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, were made blind, and the people that knew not the law, and yet believed on the author of the law, were enlightened.

2. "Nicodemus," however, "one of the Pharisees, who had come to the Lord by night,"--not indeed as being himself unbelieving, but timid; for therefore he came by night to the light, because he wished to be enlightened and feared to be known;--Nicodemus, I say, answered the Jews, "Doth our law judge a man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" For they perversely wished to condemn before they examined. Nicodemus indeed knew, or rather believed, that if only they were willing to give Him a patient hearing, they would perhaps become like those who were sent to take Him, but preferred to believe. They answered, from the prejudice of their heart, what they had answered to those officers, "Art thou also a Galilean?" That is, one seduced as it were by the Galilean. For the Lord was said to be a Galilean, because His parents were from the city of Nazareth. I have said "His parents" in regard to Mary, not as regards the seed of man; for on earth He sought but a mother, He had already a Father on high. For His nativity on both sides was marvellous: divine without mother, human without father. What, then, said those would-be doctors of the law to Nicodemus? "Search the Scriptures, and see that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." Yet the Lord of the prophets arose thence. "They returned," saith the evangelist, "every man to his own house."

3. "Thence Jesus went unto the mount;" namely, to mount "Olivet,"--unto the fruitful mount, unto the mount of ointment, unto the mount of chrism. For where, indeed, but on mount Olivet did it become the Christ to teach? For the name of Christ is from chrism; chrisma in the Greek, is called in Latin unctio, an anointing. And He has anointed us for this reason, because He has made us wrestlers against the devil. "And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them." And He was not taken, for He did not yet deign to suffer.

4. And now observe wherein the Lord's gentleness was tempted by His enemies. "And the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman just taken in adultery: and they set her in the midst, and said to Him, Master, this woman has just been taken in adultery. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? But this they said, tempting Him, that they might accuse Him." Why accuse Him? Had they detected Himself in any misdeed; or was that woman said to have been concerned with Him in any manner? What, then, is the meaning of "tempting Him, that they might accuse Him"? We understand, brethren, that a wonderful gentleness shone out pre-eminently in the Lord. They observed that He was very meek, very gentle: for of Him it had been previously foretold, "Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most Mighty; in Thy splendor and beauty urge on, march on prosperously, and reign, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness." [624] Accordingly, as a teacher, He brought truth; as a deliverer, He brought gentleness; as a protector, He brought righteousness. That He was to reign on account of these things, the prophet had by the Holy Spirit foretold. When He spoke His truth was acknowledged; when He was not provoked to anger against His enemies, His meekness was praised. Whilst, therefore, in respect of these two,--namely, His truth and meekness,--His enemies were tormented with malice and envy; in respect of the third,--namely, righteousness,--they laid a stumbling-block for Him. In what way? Because the law had commanded the adulterers to be stoned, and surely the law could not command what was unjust: if any man should say other than the law had commanded, he would be detected as unjust. Therefore they said among themselves, "He is accounted true, he appears to be gentle; an accusation must be sought against him in respect of righteousness. Let us bring before him a woman taken in adultery; let us say to him what is ordered in the law concerning such: if he shall approve her being stoned, he will not show his gentleness; if he consent to let her go, he will not keep righteousness. But, say they, that he may not lose the reputation of gentleness, for which he is become an object of love to the people, without doubt he will say that she must be let go. Hence we find an opportunity of accusing him, and we charge him as being a transgressor of the law: saying to him, Thou art an enemy to the law; thou answerest against Moses, nay, against Him who gave the law through Moses; thou art worthy of death: thou too must be stoned with this woman." By these words and sentiments they might possibly be able to inflame envy against Him, to urge accusation, and cause His condemnation to be eagerly demanded. But this against whom? It was perversity against rectitude, falsehood against the truth, the corrupt heart against the upright heart, folly against wisdom. When did such men prepare snares, into which they did not first thrust their own heads? Behold, the Lord in answering them will both keep righteousness, and will not depart from gentleness. He was not taken for whom the snare was laid, but rather they were taken who laid it, because they believed not on Him who could pull them out of the net.

5. What answer, then, did the Lord Jesus make? How answered the Truth? How answered Wisdom? How answered that Righteousness against which a false accusation was ready? He did not say, Let her not be stoned; lest He should seem to speak against the law. But God forbid that He should say, Let her be stoned: for He came not to lose what He had found, but to seek what was lost. What then did He answer? See you how full it is of righteousness, how full of meekness and truth! "He that is without sin of you," saith He, "let him first cast a stone at her." O answer of Wisdom! How He sent them unto themselves! For without they stood to accuse and censure, themselves they examined not inwardly: they saw the adulteress, they looked not into themselves. Transgressors of the law, they wished the law to be fulfilled, and this by heedlessly accusing; not really fulfilling it, as if condemning adulteries by chastity. You have heard, O Jews, you have heard, O Pharisees, you have heard, O teachers of the law, the guardian of the law, but have not yet understood Him as the Lawgiver. What else does He signify to you when He writes with His finger on the ground? For the law was written with the finger of God; but written on stone because of the hard-hearted. The Lord now wrote on the ground, because He was seeking fruit. You have heard then, Let the law be fulfilled, let the adulteress be stoned. But is it by punishing her that the law is to be fulfilled by those that ought to be punished? Let each of you consider himself, let him enter into himself, ascend the judgment-seat of his own mind, place himself at the bar of his own conscience, oblige himself to confess. For he knows what he is: for "no man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of man which is in him." Each looking carefully into himself, finds himself a sinner. Yes, indeed. Hence, either let this woman go, or together with her receive ye the penalty of the law. Had He said, Let not the adulteress be stoned, He would be proved unjust: had He said, Let her be stoned, He would not appear gentle: let Him say what it became Him to say, both the gentle and the just, "Whoso is without sin of you, let him first cast a stone at her." This is the voice of Justice: Let her, the sinner, be punished, but not by sinners: let the law be fulfilled, but not by the transgressors of the law. This certainly is the voice of justice: by which justice, those men pierced through as if by a dart, looking into themselves and finding themselves guilty, "one after another all withdrew." The two were left alone, the wretched woman and Mercy. But the Lord, having struck them through with that dart of justice, deigned not to heed their fall, but, turning away His look from them, "again He wrote with His finger on the ground."

6. But when that woman was left alone, and all they were gone out, He raised His eyes to the woman. We have heard the voice of justice, let us also hear the voice of clemency. For I suppose that woman was the more terrified when she had heard it said by the Lord, "He that is without sin of you, let him first cast a stone at her." But they, turning their thought to themselves, and by that very withdrawal having confessed concerning themselves, had left the woman with her great sin to Him who was without sin. And because she had heard this, "He that is without sin. let him first cast a stone at her," she expected to be punished by Him in whom sin could not be found. But He, who had driven back her adversaries with the tongue of justice, raising the eyes of clemency towards her, asked her, "Hath no man condemned thee?" She answered, "No man, Lord." And He said, "Neither do I condemn thee;" by whom, perhaps, thou didst fear to be condemned, because in me thou hast not found sin. "Neither will I condemn thee." What is this, O Lord? Dost Thou therefore favor sins? Not so, evidently. Mark what follows: "Go, henceforth sin no more." Therefore the Lord did also condemn, but condemned sins, not man. For if He were a patron of sin, He would say, Neither will I condemn thee; go, live as thou wilt: be secure in my deliverance; how much soever thou wilt sin, I will deliver thee from all punishment even of hell, and from the tormentors of the infernal world. He said not this.

7. Let them take heed, then, who love His gentleness in the Lord, and let them fear His truth. For "The Lord is sweet and right." [625] Thou lovest Him in that He is sweet; fear Him in that He is right. As the meek, He said, "I held my peace;" but as the just, He said, "Shall I always be silent?" [626] "The Lord is merciful and pitiful." So He is, certainly. Add yet further, "Long-suffering;" add yet further, "And very pitiful:" but fear what comes last, "And true." [627] For those whom He now bears with as sinners, He will judge as despisers. "Or despisest thou the riches of His long-suffering and gentleness; not knowing that the forbearance of God leadeth thee to repentance? But thou, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up for thyself wrath against the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds." [628] The Lord is gentle, the Lord is long-suffering, the Lord is pitiful; but the Lord is also just, the Lord is also true. He bestows on thee space for correction; but thou lovest the delay of judgment more than the amendment of thy ways. Hast thou been a bad man yesterday? To-day be a good man. Hast thou gone on in thy wickedness to-day? At any rate change to-morrow. Thou art always expecting, and from the mercy of God makest exceeding great promises to thyself. As if He, who has promised thee pardon through repentance, promised thee also a longer life. How knowest thou what to-morrow may bring forth? Rightly thou sayest in thy heart: When I shall have corrected my ways, God will put all my sins away. We cannot deny that God has promised pardon to those that have amended their ways and are converted. For in what prophet thou readest to me that God has promised pardon to him that amends, thou dost not read to me that God has promised thee a long life.

8. From both, then, men are in danger; both from hoping and despairing, from contrary things, from contrary affections. Who is deceived by hoping? He who says, God is good, God is merciful, let me do what I please, what I like; let me give loose reins to my lusts, let me gratify the desires of my soul. Why this? Because God is merciful, God is good, God is kind. These men are in danger by hope. And those are in danger from despair, who, having fallen into grievous sins, fancying that they can no more be pardoned upon repentance, and believing that they are without doubt doomed to damnation, do say with themselves, We are already destined to be damned, why not do what we please with the disposition of gladiators destined to the sword. This is the reason that desperate men are dangerous: for, having no longer aught to fear, they are to be feared exceedingly. Despair kills these; hope, those. The mind is tossed to and fro between hope and despair. Thou hast to fear lest hope slay thee; and, when thou hopest much from mercy, lest thou fall into judgment: again, thou hast to fear lest despair slay thee, and, when thou thinkest that the grievous sins which thou hast committed cannot be forgiven thee, thou dost not repent, and thou incurrest the sentence of Wisdom, which says, "I also will laugh at your perdition." [629] How then does the Lord treat those who are in danger from both these maladies? To those who are in danger from hope, He says, "Be not slow to be converted to the Lord, neither put it off from day to day; for suddenly His anger will come, and in the time of vengeance, will utterly destroy thee." [630] To those who are in danger from despair, what does He say? "In what day soever the wicked man shall be converted, I will forget all his iniquities." [631] Accordingly, for the sake of those who are in danger by despair, He has offered us a refuge of pardon; and because of those who are in danger by hope, and are deluded by delays, He has made the day of death uncertain. Thou knowest not when thy last day may come. Art thou ungrateful because thou hast to-day on which thou mayest be improved? Thus therefore said He to the woman, "Neither will I condemn thee;" but, being made secure concerning the past, beware of the future. "Neither will I condemn thee:" I have blotted out what thou hast done; keep what I have commanded thee, that thou mayest find what I have promised.

Footnotes

[623] John ix. 39. [624] Ps. xlv. 3, 4. [625] Ps. xxv. 8. [626] Isa. xlii. 14. [627] Ps. lxxxvi. 15. [628] Rom. ii. 4-6. [629] Prov. i. 26. [630] Ecclus. v. 8, 9. [631] Ezek. xviii. 21. .


Tractate XXXIV.

Chapter VIII. 12

1. What we have just heard and attentively received, as the holy Gospel was being read, I doubt not that all of us have also endeavored to understand, and that each of us according to his measure apprehended what he could of so great a matter as that which has been read; and while the bread of the word is laid out, no one can complain that he has tasted nothing. But again I doubt not that there is scarcely any who has understood the whole. Nevertheless, even should there be any who may sufficiently understand the words of our Lord Jesus Christ now read out of the Gospel, let him bear with our ministry, whilst, if possible, with His assistance, we may, by treating thereof, cause that either all or many may understand that which a few are joyful of having understood for themselves.

2. I think that what the Lord says, "I am the light of the world, "is clear to those that have eyes, by which they are made partakers of this light: but they who have not eyes except in the flesh alone, wonder at what is said by the Lord Jesus Christ, "I am the light of the world." And perhaps there may not be wanting some one too who says with himself: Whether perhaps the Lord Christ is that sun which by its rising and setting causes the day? For there have not been wanting heretics who thought this. The Manichæans have supposed that the Lord Christ is that sun which is visible to carnal eyes, exposed and public to be seen, not only by men, but by the beasts. But the right faith of the Catholic Church rejects such a fiction, and perceives it to be a devilish doctrine: not only by believing acknowledges it to be such, but in the case of whom it can, proves it even by reasoning. Let us therefore reject this kind of error, which the Holy Church has anathematized from the beginning. Let us not suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ is this sun which we see rising from the east, setting in the west; to whose course succeeds night, whose rays are obscured by a cloud, which removes from place to place by a set motion: the Lord Christ is not such a thing as this. The Lord Christ is not the sun that was made, but He by whom the sun was made. For "all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made."

3. There is therefore a Light which made this light of the sun: let us love this Light, let us long to understand it, let us thirst for the same; that, with itself for our guide, we may at length come to it, and that we may so live in it that we may never die. This is indeed that Light of which prophecy long ago going before thus sang in the psalm: "O Lord, Thou shalt save men and beasts; even as Thy mercy is multiplied, O God." These are the words of the holy psalm: mark ye what the ancient discourse of holy men of God did premise concerning such a light. "Men," saith it, "and beasts Thou shalt save, O Lord; even as Thy mercy is multiplied, O God." For since Thou art God, and hast manifold mercy, the same multiplicity of Thy mercy reaches not only to men whom Thou hast created in Thine own image, but even to the beasts which Thou hast made subservient to men. For He who gives salvation to man, the same gives salvation also to the beast. Do not blush to think this of the Lord thy God: nay, rather believe this and trust it, and see thou think not otherwise. He that saves thee, the same saves thy horse and thy sheep; to come to the very least, also thy hen: "Salvation is of the Lord," [632] and God saves these. Thou art uneasy, thou questionest. I wonder why thou doubtest. Shall He disdain to save who deigned to create? Of the Lord is the saving of angels, of men, and of beasts: "Salvation is of the Lord." Just as no man is from himself, so no man is saved by himself. Therefore most truly and right well doth the psalm say, "O Lord, Thou shall save men and beasts." Why? "Even as thy mercy is multiplied, O God." For Thou art God, Thou hast created, Thou savest: Thou gavest being, Thou givest to be in health.

4. Since, therefore, as the mercy of God is multiplied, men and beasts are saved by Him, have not men something else which God as Creator bestows on them, which He bestows not on the beasts? Is there no distinction between the living creature made after the image of God, and the living creature made subject to the image of God? Clearly there is: beyond that salvation common to us with the dumb animals, there is what God bestows on us, but not on them. What is this? Follow on in the same psalm: "But the sons of men shall hope under the covert of Thy wings." Having now a salvation in common with their cattle, "the sons of men shall hope under the covert of Thy wings." They have one salvation in fact, another in hope. This salvation which is at present is common to men and cattle; but there is another which men hope for; and which they who hope for receive, they who despair of receive not. For it saith, "The sons of men shall hope under covert of Thy wings." And they that perseveringly hope are protected by Thee, lest they be cast down from their hope by the devil: "Under covert of Thy wings they shall hope." If they shall hope, what shall they hope for, but for what the cattle shall not have? "They shall be fully drunk with the fatness of Thy house; and from the torrent of Thy pleasure Thou shalt give them drink." What sort of wine is that with which it is laudable to be drunk? What sort of wine is that which disturbs not the mind, but directs it? What sort of wine is that which makes perpetually sane, and makes not insane by drinking? "They shall be fully drunk." How? "With the fatness of Thy house; and from the torrent of Thy pleasure Thou shalt give them drink." How so? "Because with Thee is the fountain of life." The very fountain of life walked on the earth, the same who said, "Whoso thirsts, let him come unto me." Behold the fountain! But we begin to speak about the light, and to handle the question laid down from the Gospel concerning the light. For we read how the Lord said, "I am the light of the world." Thence arose a question, lest any one, carnally understanding this, should fancy this light to mean the sun: we came thence to the psalm, which having considered, we found meanwhile that the Lord is the fountain of life. Drink and live. "With Thee," it saith, "is the fountain of life;" therefore, "under the shadow of Thy wings the sons of men hope," seeking to be full drunk with this fountain. But we were speaking of the Light. Follow on, then; for the prophet, having said, "With Thee is the fountain of life," went on to add, "In Thy light shall we see light,"--God of God, Light of Light. By this Light the sun's light was made; and the Light which made the sun, under which He also made us, was made under the sun for our sake. That Light which made the sun, was made, I say, under the sun for our sake. Do not despise the cloud of the flesh; with that cloud it is covered, not to be obscured, but to be moderated.

5. That unfailing Light, the Light of wisdom, speaking through the cloud of the flesh, says to men, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." How He has withdrawn thee from the eyes of the flesh, and recalled thee to the eyes of the heart! For it is not enough to say, "Whoso followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have light;" He added too, "of life;" even as it was there said, "For with Thee is the fountain of life." See thus, my brethren, how the words of the Lord agree with the truth of that psalm: both there, the light is put with the fountain of life, and by the Lord it is said, "light of life." But for bodily use, light and fountain are different things: our mouths seek a fountain, our eyes light; when we thirst we seek a fountain, when we are in darkness we seek light; and if we chance to thirst in the night, we kindle a light to come to a fountain. Not so with God: light and fountain are the same thing: He who shines for thee that thou mayest see, the same flows for thee that thou mayest drink.

6. You see, then, my brethren, you see, if you see inwardly, what kind of light this is, of which the Lord says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." Follow the sun, and let us see if thou wilt not walk in darkness. Behold, by rising it comes forth to thee; it goes by its course towards the west. Perhaps thy journey is towards the east: unless thou goest in a contrary direction to that in which it travels, thou wilt certainly err by following it, and instead of east wilt get to the west. If thou follow it by land, thou wilt go wrong; if the mariner follow it by sea, he will go wrong. Finally, it seems to thee, suppose, that thou must follow the sun, and thou also travellest thyself towards the west, whither it also travels; let us see after it has set if thou wilt not walk in darkness. See how, although thou art not willing to desert it, yet it will desert thee, to finish the day by necessity of its service. But our Lord Jesus Christ, even when He was not manifest to all through the cloud of His flesh, was yet at the same time holding all things by the power of His wisdom. Thy God is whole everywhere: if thou fall not off from Him, He will never fall away from thee.

7. Accordingly, "He that followeth me," saith He, "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." What He has promised, He put in a word of the future tense; for He says not has, but "shall have the light of life." Yet He does not say, He that shall follow me; but, he that does follow me. What it is our duty to do, He put in the present tense; but what He has promised to them that do it, He has indicated by a word of the future tense. "He that followeth, shall have." That followeth now, shall have hereafter: followeth now by faith, shall have hereafter by sight. For, "whilst we are in the body," saith the apostle, "we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight." [633] When shall we walk by sight? When we shall have the light of life, when we shall have come to that vision, when this night shall have passed away. Of that day, indeed, which is to arise, it is said, "In the morning I will stand near thee, and contemplate thee." [634] What means "in the morning"? When the night of this world is over, when the terrors of temptations are over, when that lion which goeth about roaring in the night, seeking whom it may devour, is vanquished. "In the morning I will stand near thee, and contemplate." Now what do we think, brethren, to be our duty for the present time, but what is again said in the psalm, "Every night through will I wash my couch; I will moisten my bed with my tears"? [635] Every night through, saith he, I will weep; I will burn with desire for the light. The Lord sees my desire: for another psalm says to Him, "All my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee." [636] Dost thou desire gold? Thou canst be seen; for, while seeking gold, thou wilt be manifest to men. Dost thou desire corn? Thou askest one that has it; whom also thou informest, while seeking to get at that which thou desirest. Dost thou desire God? Who sees, but God? From whom, then, dost thou seek God, as thou seekest bread, water, gold, silver, corn? From whom dost thou seek God, except from God? He is sought from Himself who has promised Himself. Let the soul extend her desire, and with more capacious bosom seek to comprehend that which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man." [637] Desire it we can, long for it we can, pant after it we can; but worthily conceive it, worthily unfold it in words, we cannot.

8. Wherefore, my brethren, since the Lord says briefly, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;" in these words He has commanded one thing, promised another; let us do what He has commanded, that we may not with shameless face demand what He has promised; that He may not say to us in His judgment, Hast thou done what I commanded, that thou shouldest expect what I promised? What hast Thou commanded, then, O Lord our God? He says to thee, That thou shouldest follow me. Thou hast sought counsel of life? Of what life, but of that of which it is said, "With Thee is the fountain of life"? A certain man heard it said to him," Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." He followed not, but went away sorrowful; he sought the "good Master," went to Him as a teacher, and despised His teaching; he went away sorrowful, tied and bound by his lusts; he went away sorrowful, having a great load of avarice on his shoulders. He toiled and fretted; and yet he thought that He, who was willing to rid him of his load, was not to be followed but forsaken. But after the Lord has, by the gospel, cried aloud, "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart," [638] how many, on hearing the gospel, have done what that rich man, on hearing from His own mouth, did not do? Therefore, let us do it now, let us follow the Lord; let us loose the fetters by which we are hindered from following Him. And who is sufficient to loose such bonds, unless He help, to whom it is said, "Thou hast burst asunder my bonds"? [639] Of whom another psalm says, "The Lord looseth them that are in bonds; the Lord raiseth up them that are crushed and oppressed." [640]

9. And what do they follow, who have been loosed and raised up, but the Light from which they hear, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness"? For the Lord gives light to the blind. Therefore we, brethren, having the eye-salve of faith, are now enlightened. For His spittle did before mingle with the earth, by which the eyes of him who was born blind were anointed. We, too, have been born blind of Adam, and have need of Him to enlighten us. He mixed spittle with clay: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." He mixed spittle with earth; hence it was predicted, "Truth has sprung from the earth;" [641] and He said Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." When we shall see face to face, we shall have the full fruition of the truth; for this also is promised to us. For who would dare hope for what God had not deigned either to promise or to give? We shall see face to face. The apostle says, "Now I know in part, now through a glass darkly; but then, face to face." [642] And the Apostle John says in his epistle, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it has not yet appeared what we shall be: we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is." [643] This is a great promise; if thou lovest, follow. I do love, sayest thou, but by what way am I to follow? If the Lord thy God had said to thee, "I am the truth and the life," in desiring truth and longing for life, thou mightest truly ask the way by which thou mightest come to these, and mightest say to thyself: A great thing is the truth, a great thing is the life, were there only the means whereby my soul might come thereto! Dost thou ask by what way? Hear Him say at the first, "I am the way." Before He said whither, He premised by what way: "I am," saith He, "the way." The way whither? "And the truth and the life." First, He told thee the way to come; then, whither to come. I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. Remaining with the Father, the truth and life; putting on flesh, He became the way. It is not said to thee, Labor in finding a way to come to the truth and life; this is not said to thee. Sluggard, arise: the way itself has come to thee, and roused thee from thy sleep; if, however, it has roused thee, up and walk. Perhaps thou art trying to walk, and art not able, because thy feet ache. How come thy feet to ache? Have they been running over rough places at the bidding of avarice? But the word of God has healed even the lame. Behold, thou sayest, I have my feet sound, but the way itself I see not. He has also enlightened the blind.

10. All this by faith, so long as we are absent from the Lord, dwelling in the body; but when we shall have traversed the way, and have reached the home itself, what shall be more joyful than we? What shall be more blessed than we? Because nothing more at peace than we; for there will be no rebelling against a man. But now, brethren, it is difficult for us to be without strife. We have indeed been called to concord, we are commanded to have peace among ourselves; to this we must give our endeavor, and strain with all our might, that we may come at last to the most perfect peace; but at present we are at strife, very often with those whose good we are seeking. There is one who goes astray, thou wishest to lead him to the way; he resists, thou strivest with him: the pagan resists thee, thou disputest against the errors of idols and devils; a heretic resists, thou disputest against other doctrines of devils; a bad catholic is not willing to live aright, thou rebukest even thy brother within; he dwells with thee in the house, and seeks the paths of ruin; thou art inflamed with eager passion to put him right, that thou mayest render to the Lord a good account of both concerning him. How many necessities of strife there are on every side! Very often one is overcome with weariness, and says to himself, "What have I to do with bearing with gainsayers, bearing with those who render evil for good? I wish to benefit them, they are willing to perish; I wear out my life in strife; I have no peace; besides, I make enemies of those whom I ought to have as friends, if they regarded the good will of him that seeks their good: what business is it of mine to endure this? Let me return to myself, I will be kept to myself, I will call upon my God. Do return to thyself, thou findest strife there. If thou hast begun to follow God, thou findest strife there. What strife, sayest thou, do I find? "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." [644] Behold thou art thyself, thou art alone, thou art with thyself; behold, thou art bearing with no other person, but yet thou seest another law in thy members warring against the law of thy mind, and taking thee captive in the law of sin, which is in thy members. Cry aloud, then, and cry to God, that He may give thee peace from the inner strife: "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ." [645] Because, "He that followeth me," saith He, "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." All strife ended, immortality shall follow; for "the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed." And what peace will this be? "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." [646] To which that we may come (for it will then be in reality), let us now follow in hope Him who said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Footnotes

[632] Ps. iii. 9. [633] 2 Cor. v. 6, 7. [634] Ps. v. 4. [635] Ps. vi. 6. [636] Ps. xxxviii. 10. [637] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [638] Matt. xi. 29. [639] Ps. cxvi. 16. [640] Ps. xlvi. 8. [641] Ps. lxxxv. 11. [642] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [643] 1 John iii. 2. [644] Gal. v. 17. [645] Rom. vii. 23-25. [646] 1 Cor. xv. 26. .


Tractate XXXV.

Chapter VIII. 13, 14

1. You who were present yesterday, bear in mind that we were a long while discoursing of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, where He says, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;" and if we wished to go on discoursing of that light, we might still speak a long time; for it would be impossible for us to expound the matter in brief. Therefore, my brethren, let us follow Christ, the light of the world, that we may not be walking in darkness. We must fear the darkness,--not the darkness of the eyes, but that of the moral character; and even if it be the darkness of the eyes, it is not of the outer, but of the inner eyes, of those by which we discern, not between white and black, but between right and wrong.

2. When our Lord Jesus Christ had spoken these things, the Jews answered, "Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true." Before our Lord Jesus Christ came, He lighted and sent many prophetic lamps before Him. Of these was also John Baptist, to whom the great Light itself, which is the Lord Christ, gave a testimony such as was given to no other man; for He said, "Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." [647] Yet this man, than whom none was greater among those born of women, said of the Lord Jesus Christ, "I indeed baptize you in water; but He that is coming is mightier than I, whose shoe I am not worthy to loose." [648] See how the lamps submits itself to the Day. The Lord Himself bears witness that the same John was indeed a lamp: "He was," saith He, "a burning and a shining lamp; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." [649] But when the Jews said to the Lord, "Tell us by what authority thou doest these things," He, knowing that they regarded John the Baptist as a great one, and that the same whom they regarded as a great one had borne witness to them concerning the Lord, answered them, "I also will ask you one thing; tell me, the baptism of John, whence is it? from heaven, or from men?" Thrown into confusion, they considered among themselves that, if they said, "From men," they might be stoned by the people, who believed John to be a prophet; if they said, "From heaven," He might answer them, "He whom ye confess to have been a prophet from heaven bore testimony to me, and ye have heard from him by what authority I do these things." They saw, then, that whichever of these two answers they made, they would fall into the snare, and they said, "We do not know." And the Lord answered them, "Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things." [650] "I tell you not what I know, because you will not confess what you know." Most justly, certainly, were they repulsed, and they departed in confusion; and that was fulfilled which God the Father says by the prophet in the psalm, "I have prepared a lamp for my Christ" (the lamp was John); "His enemies I will clothe with confusion." [651]

3. The Lord Jesus Christ, then, had the witness of prophets sent before Him, of the heralds that preceded the judge: He had witness from John; but He was Himself the greater witness which He bore to Himself. But those men with their feeble eyes sought lamps, because they were not able to bear the day; for that same Apostle John, whose Gospel we have in our hands, says in the beginning of his Gospel, concerning John the Baptist: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent to bear witness of the light. That was the true light, that lighteth every man coming into the world." If "every man," therefore also lighteth John. Whence also the same John says, "We all have received out of His fullness." Wherefore discern ye these things, that your minds may profit in the faith of Christ, that ye be not always babes seeking the breasts and shrinking from solid food. You ought to be nourished and to be weaned by our holy mother the Church of Christ, and to come to more solid food by the mind, not by the belly. This discern ye then, that the light which enlighteneth is one thing, another that which is enlightened. For also our eyes are called lights; [652] and every man thus swears, touching his eyes, by these lights of his: "So may my lights live." This is a customary oath. Let these lights, if lights they are, be opened, and shine for thee in thy closed chamber, when the light is not there; they certainly cannot. Therefore, as these which we have in our face, and call lights, when they are both healthy and open, need the help of light from without,--which being removed or not brought in, though they are sound and are open, yet they do not see,--so our mind, which is the eye of the soul, unless it be irradiated by the light of truth, and wondrously shone upon by Him who enlightens and is not enlightened, will not be able to come to wisdom nor to righteousness. For to live righteously is for us the way itself. But how can he on whom the light does not shine but stumble in the way? And hence, in such a way, we have need of seeing, in such a way it is a great thing to see. Now Tobias had the eyes in his face closed, and the son gave his hand to the father; and yet the father, by his instruction, pointed out the way to the son. [653]

4. The Jews then answered, "Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true." Let us see what they hear; let us also hear, yet not as they did: they despising, we believing; they wishing to slay Christ, we desiring to live through Christ. Let this difference distinguish our ears and minds from theirs, and let us hear what the Lord answers to the Jews. "Jesus answered and said to them, Though I bear witness of myself, my witness is true; because I know whence I came and whither I go." The light shows both other things and also itself. Thou lightest a lamp, for instance, to look for thy coat, and the burning lamp affords thee light to find thy coat; dost thou light the lamp to see itself when it burns? A burning lamp is indeed capable at the same time of exposing to view other things which the darkness covered, and also of showing itself to thine eyes. So also the Lord Christ distinguished between His faithful ones and His Jewish enemies, as between light and darkness: as between those whom He illuminated with the ray of faith, and those on whose closed eyes He shed His light. So, too, the sun shines on the face of the sighted and of the blind; both alike standing and facing the sun are shone upon in the flesh, but both are not enlightened in the eyesight. The one sees, the other sees not: the sun is present to both, but one is absent from the present sun. So likewise the Wisdom of God, the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is everywhere present, because the truth is everywhere, wisdom is everywhere. One man in the east understands justice, another man in the west understands justice; is justice which the one understands a different thing from that which the other understands? In body they are far apart, and yet they have the eyes of their minds on one object. The justice which I, placed here, see, if justice it is, is the same which the just man, separated from me in the flesh by ever so many days' journey, also sees, and is united to me in the light of that justice. Therefore the light bears witness to itself; it opens the sound eyes and is its own witness, that it may be known as the light. But how about the unbelievers? Is it not present to them? It is present also to them, but they have not eyes of the heart with which to see it. Hear the sentence fetched from the Gospel itself concerning them: "And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." [654] Hence the Lord saith, and saith truly, "Though I bear witness of myself, my witness is true; because I know whence I came and whither I go." He meant us to understand the Father here: the Son gave glory to the Father. Himself the equal glorifies Him by whom He was sent. How ought man to glorify Him by whom he was created!

5. "I know whence I came and whither I go." He who speaks to you in person has what He has not left, and yet He came; for by coming He departed not thence, nor has He forsaken us by returning thither. Why marvel ye? It is God: this cannot be done by man; it cannot be done even by the sun. When it goes to the west it leaves the east, and until it returns to the east, when about to rise, it is not in the east; but our Lord Jesus Christ both comes and is there, both returns and is here. Hear the evangelist himself speaking in another place, and, if thou canst, understand it; if not, believe it: "God," saith he, "no man hath ever seen, but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." He said not was in the bosom of the Father, as if by coming He had quitted the Father's bosom. Here He was speaking, and yet He declared that He was there; and when about to depart hence, what said He? "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." [655]

6. The witness of the light then is true, whether it be manifesting itself or other things; for without light thou canst not see light, and without light thou canst not see any other thing whatever that is not light. If light is capable of showing other things which are not lights, is it not capable of showing itself? Does not that discover itself, without which other things cannot be made manifest? A prophet spoke a truth; but whence had he it, unless he drew it from the fountain of truth? John spoke a truth; but whence he spoke it, ask himself: "We all," saith he, "have received of His fullness." Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ is worthy to bear witness to Himself. But in any case, my brethren, let us who are in the night of this world hear also prophecy with earnest attention: for now our Lord willed to come in humility to our weakness and the deep night-darkness of our hearts: He came as a man to be despised and to be honored, He came to be denied and to be confessed; to be despised and to be denied by the Jews, to be honored and confessed by us: to be judged and to judge; to be judged unjustly, to judge righteously. Such then He came that He behoved to have a lamp to bear witness to Him. For what need was there that John should, as a lamp, bear witness to the day, if the day itself could be looked upon by our weakness? But we could not look upon it: He became weak for the weak; by infirmity He healed infirmity; by mortal flesh He took away the death of the flesh; of His own body He made a salve for our eyes. Since, therefore, the Lord is come, and since we are still in the night of the world, it behoves us to hear also prophecies.

7. For it is from prophecy that we convince gainsaying pagans. Who is Christ? says the pagan. To whom we reply, He whom the prophets foretold. What prophets? asks he. We quote Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and other holy prophets: we tell him that they came long before Christ, by what length of time they preceded His coming. We make this reply then: Prophets came before Him, and they foretold His coming. One of them answers: What prophets? We quote for him those which are daily read to us. And, said he, Who are these prophets? We answer: Those who also foretold the things which we see come to pass. And he urges: You have forged these for yourselves, you have seen them come to pass, and have written them in what books you pleased, as if their coming had been predicted. Here in opposition to pagan enemies the witness of other enemies offers itself. We produce books written by the Jews, and reply: Doubtless both you and they are enemies of our faith. Hence are they scattered among the nations, that we may convince one class of enemies by another. Let the book of Isaiah be produced by the Jews, and let us see if it is not there we read, "He was led as a sheep to be slaughtered, and as a lamb before his shearer was dumb, so He opened not His mouth. In humility His judgment was taken away; by His bruises we are healed: all we as sheep went astray, and He was delivered up for our sins." [656] Behold one lamp. Let another be produced, let the psalm be opened, and thence, too, let the foretold suffering of Christ be quoted: "They pierced my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones: but they considered me and gazed upon me, they parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast the lot. My praise is with Thee; in the great assembly will I confess to Thee. All the ends of the earth shall be reminded, and be converted to the Lord: all countries of the nations shall worship in His sight; for the kingdom is the Lord's, and He shall have dominion over the nations." [657] Let one enemy blush, for it is another enemy that gives me the book. But lo, out of the book produced by the one enemy, I have vanquished the other: nor let that same who produced me the book be left; let him produce that by which himself also may be vanquished. I read another prophet, and I find the Lord speaking to the Jews: "I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, nor will I accept sacrifice at your hands: for from the rising of the sun even to his going down, a pure sacrifice is offered to my name." [658] Thou dost not come, O Jew, to a pure sacrifice; I prove thee impure.

8. Behold, even lamps bear witness to the day, because of our weakness, for we cannot bear and look at the brightness of the day. In comparison, indeed, with unbelievers, we Christians are even now light; as the apostle says, "For ye were once darkness, but now light in the Lord: walk as children of light:" [659] and he says elsewhere, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast away the works of darkness, and put on us the armor of light; let us walk honestly as in the day." [660] Yet that even the day in which we now are is still night, in comparison with the light of that to which we are to come, listen to the Apostle Peter: he says that a voice came to the Lord Christ from the excellent glory, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This voice," said he, "which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount." But because we were not there, and have not then heard this voice from heaven, the same Peter says to us, "And we have a more sure word of prophecy." You have not heard the voice come from heaven, but you have a more sure word of prophecy. For the Lord Jesus Christ, foreseeing that there would be certain wicked men who would calumniate His miracles, by attributing them to magical arts, sent prophets before Him. For, supposing He was a magician, and by magical arts caused that He should be worshipped after His death, was He then a magician before He was born? Hear the prophets, O man dead, and breeding the worms of calumny, hear the prophets: I read, hear them who came before the Lord. "We have," saith the Apostle Peter, "a more sure word of prophecy, to which ye do well to give heed, as to a lamp in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." [661]

9. When, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ shall come, and, as the Apostle Paul also says, will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the thoughts of the heart, that every man may have praise from God; [662] then, in presence of such a day, lamps will not be needed: no prophet shall then be read to us, no book of an apostle shall be opened; we shall not require the witness of John, we shall not need the Gospel itself. Accordingly all Scriptures shall be taken out of the way,--which, in the night of this world, were as lamps kindled for us that we might not remain in darkness,--when all these are taken away, that they may not shine as if we needed them, and the men of God, by whom these were ministered to us, shall themselves, together with us, behold that true and clear light. Well, what shall we see after these aids have been removed? Wherewith shall our mind be fed? Wherewith shall our gaze be delighted? Whence shall arise that joy which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath gone up into the heart of man? What shall we see? I beseech you, love with me, by believing run with me: let us long for our home above, let us pant for our home above, let us feel that we are strangers here. What shall we see then? Let the Gospel now tell us: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Thou shalt come to the fountain from which a little dew has already besprinkled thee: thou shalt see that very light, from which a ray was sent aslant and through many windings into thy dark heart, in its purity, for the seeing and bearing of which thou art being purified. John himself says, and this I cited yesterday: "Beloved, we are the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be: we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him even as He is." [663] I feel that your affections are being lifted up with me to the things that are above: but the body, which is corrupt, weighs down the soul; and, the earthly habitation depresses the mind while meditating many things. [664] I am about to lay aside this book, and you too are going to depart, every man to his own house. It has been good for us to have been in the common light, good to have been glad therein, good to have rejoiced therein; but when we part from one another, let us not depart from Him.

Footnotes

[647] Matt. xi. 11. [648] John i. 26, 27. [649] John v. 35. [650] Matt. xxi. 23-27. [651] Ps. cxxxii. 17, 18. [652] Lumina. [653] Tobit ii. 11. [654] John i. 5. [655] Matt. xxviii. 20. [656] Isa. liii. 5-8. [657] Ps. xxii. 17-29. [658] Mal. i. 10, 11. [659] Eph. v. 8. [660] Rom. xiii. 12, 13. [661] 2 Pet. i. 17-19. [662] 1 Cor. iv. 5. [663] 1 John iii. 2. [664] Wisd. ix. 15. .


Tractate XXXVI.

Chapter VIII. 15-18

1. In the four Gospels, or rather in the four books of the one Gospel, Saint John the apostle, not undeservedly in respect of his spiritual understanding compared to the eagle, has elevated his preaching higher and far more sublimely than the other three; and in this elevating of it he would have our hearts likewise lifted up. For the other three evangelists walked with the Lord on earth as with a man; concerning His divinity they have said but little; but this evangelist, as if he disdained to walk on earth, just as in the very opening of his discourse he thundered on us, soared not only above the earth and above the whole compass of air and sky, but even above the whole army of angels and the whole order of invisible powers, and reached to Him by whom all things were made; saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made." To this so great sublimity of his beginning all the rest of his preaching well agrees; and he has spoken concerning the divinity of the Lord as none other has spoken. What he had drank in, the same he gave forth. For it is not without reason that it is recorded of him in this very Gospel, that at supper he reclined on the Lord's bosom. From that breast then he drank in secret; but what he drank in secret he gave forth openly, that there may come to all nations not only the incarnation of the Son of God, and His passion and resurrection, but also what He was before His incarnation, the only Son of the Father, the Word of the Father, coeternal with Him that begat, equal with Him by whom He was sent; but yet in that very sending made less, that the Father might be greater.

2. Whatever, then, you have heard stated in lowly manner concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, think of that economy by which He assumed flesh; but whatever you hear, or read, stated in the Gospel concerning Him that is sublime and high above all creatures, and divine, and equal and coeternal with the Father, be sure that this which you read appertains to the form of God, not to the form of the servant. For if you hold this rule, you who can understand it (inasmuch as you are not all able to understand it, but you are all bound to trust it),--if, I say, you hold this rule, as men walking in the light, you will fight against the calumnies of heretical darkness without fear. For there have not been wanting those who, in reading the Gospel, followed only those testimonies that concern the humility of Christ, and have been deaf to those which have declared His divinity; deaf for this reason, that they may be full of evil words. There have likewise been some, who, giving heed only to those which speak of the excellency of the Lord, even though they have read of His mercy in becoming man for our sakes, have not believed the testimonies, but accounted them false and invented by men; contending that our Lord Jesus Christ was only God, not also man. Some in this way, some in that: both in error. But the catholic faith, holding from both the truths which each holds and preaching the truth which each believes, has both understood that Christ is God and also believed Him to be man: for each is written and each is true. Shouldst thou assert that Christ is only God, thou deniest the medicine whereby thou wast healed: shouldst thou assert that Christ is only man, thou deniest the power whereby thou wast created. Hold therefore both. O faithful soul and catholic heart, hold both, believe both, faithfully confess both. Christ is both God and also man. How is Christ God? Equal with the Father, one with the Father. How is Christ man? Born of a virgin, taking upon Himself mortality from man, but not taking iniquity.

3. These Jews then saw the man; they neither perceived nor believed Him to be God: and you have already heard how, among all the rest, they said to Him, "Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true." You have also heard what He said in reply, as it was read to you yesterday, and according to our ability discussed. To-day have been read these words of His, "Ye judge after the flesh." Therefore it is, saith He, that you say to me, "Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true," because you judge after the flesh, because you perceive not God; the man you see, and by persecuting the man, you offend God hidden in Him. "Ye," then, "judge after the flesh." Because I bear witness of myself, I therefore appear to you arrogant. For every man, when he wishes to bear commendatory witness of himself, seems arrogant and proud. Hence it is written, "Let not thy own mouth praise thee, but let thy neighbor's" mouth praise thee. [665] But this was said to man. For we are weak, and we speak to the weak. We can speak the truth, but we can also lie; although we are bound to speak the truth, still we have it in our power to lie when we will. But far be it from us to think that the darkness of falsehood could be found in the splendor of the divine light. He spoke as the light, spoke as the truth; but the light was shining in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not: therefore they judged after the flesh. "Ye," saith He, "judge after the flesh."

4. "I judge not any man." Does not the Lord Jesus Christ, then, judge any man? Is He not the same of whom we confess that He rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, there sits at the right hand of the Father, and thence shall come to judge the quick and the dead? Is not this our faith of which the apostle says, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation?" [666] When, therefore, we confess these things, do we contradict the Lord? We say that He shall come a judge of the quick and the dead, whilst He says Himself, "I judge not any man." This question may be solved in two ways: Either that we may understand this expression, "I judge not any man," to mean, I judge not any man now; in accordance with what He says in another place, "I am not come to judge the world, but to save the world;" not denying His judgment here, but deferring it. Or, otherwise, surely that when He said, "Ye judge after the flesh," He subjoined, "I judge not any man," in such manner that thou shouldst understand "after the flesh" to complete the sense. Therefore let no scruple of doubt remain in our heart against the faith which we hold and declare concerning Christ as judge. Christ is come, but first to save, then to judge: to adjudge to punishment those who would not be saved; to bring them to life who, by believing, did not reject salvation. Accordingly, the first dispensation of our Lord Jesus Christ is medicinal, not judicial; for if He had come to judge first, He would have found none on whom He might bestow the rewards of righteousness. Because, therefore, He saw that all were sinners, and that none was exempt from the death of sin, His mercy had first to be craved, and afterwards His judgment must be executed; for of Him the psalm had sung, "Mercy and judgment will I sing to Thee, O Lord." [667] Now, He says not "judgment and mercy," for if judgment had been first, there would be no mercy; but it is mercy first, then judgment. What is the mercy first? The Creator of man deigned to become man; was made what He had made, that the creature He had made might not perish. What can be added to this mercy? And yet He has added thereto. It was not enough for Him to be made man, He added to this that He was rejected of men; it was not enough to be rejected, He was dishonored; it was not enough to be dishonored, He was put to death; but even this was not enough, it was by the death of the cross. For when the apostle was commending to us His obedience even unto death, it was not enough for him to say, "He became obedient unto death;" for it was not unto death of any kind whatever: but he added, "even the death of the cross." [668] Among all kinds of death, there was nothing worse than that death. In short, that wherein one is racked by the most intense pains is called cruciatus, which takes its name from crux, a cross. For the crucified, hanging on the tree, nailed to the wood, were killed by a slow lingering death. To be crucified was not merely to be put to death; for the victim lived long on the cross, not because longer life was chosen, but because death itself was stretched out that the pain might not be too quickly ended. He willed to die for us, yet it is not enough to say this; He deigned to be crucified, became obedient even to the death of the cross. He who was about to take away all death, chose the lowest and worst kind of death: He slew death by the worst of deaths. To the Jews who understood not, it was indeed the worst of deaths, but it was chosen by the Lord. For He was to have that very cross as His sign; that very cross, a trophy, as it were, over the vanquished devil, He was to put on the brow of believers, so that the apostle said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." [669] Nothing was then more intolerable in the flesh, nothing is now more glorious on the brow. What does He reserve for His faithful one, when He has put such honor on the instrument of His own torture? Now is the cross no longer used among the Romans in the punishment of criminals, for where the cross of the Lord came to be honored, it was thought that even a guilty man would be honored if he should be crucified. Hence, He who came for this cause judged no man: He suffered also the wicked. He suffered unjust judgment, that He might execute righteous judgment. But it was of His mercy that He endured unjust judgment. In short, He became so low as to come to the cross; yea, laid aside His power, but published His mercy. Wherein did He lay aside His power? In that He would not come down from the cross, though He had the power to rise again from the sepulchre. Wherein did He publish His mercy? In that, when hanging on the cross, He said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." [670] Whether, then, it be that He said, "I judge not any man," because He had come not to judge the world, but to save the world; or, that, as I have mentioned, when He had said, "Ye judge after the flesh," He added, "I judge not any man," for us to understand that Christ judgeth not after the flesh, like as He was judged by men.

5. But that you may know that Christ is judge even now, hear what follows: "And if I judge, my judgment is true." Behold, thou hast Him as thy judge, but acknowledge Him as thy Saviour, lest thou feel the judge. But why has He said that His judgment is true? "Because," saith He, "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." I have said to you, brethren, that this holy Evangelist John soars exceedingly high: it is with difficulty that he is comprehended. But we need to remind you, beloved, of the deeper mystery of this soaring. Both in the prophet Ezekiel, and in the Apocalypse of this very John whose Gospel this is, there is mentioned a fourfold living creature, having four characteristic faces; that of a man, of an ox, of a lion, and of an eagle. Those who have handled the mysteries of Holy Scripture before us have, for the most part, understood by this living creature, or rather, these four living creatures, the four evangelists. They have understood the lion as put for king, because he appears to be, in a manner, the king of beasts on account of his strength and terrible valor. This character is assigned to Matthew, because in the generations of the Lord he followed the royal line, showing how the Lord was, along the royal line, of the seed of David. But Luke, because he begins with the priesthood of Zacharias, mentioning the father of John the Baptist, is designated the ox; for the ox was an important victim in the sacrifice of the priests. To Mark is deservedly assigned the man Christ, because neither has he said anything of the royal authority, nor did he begin with the priestly function, but only set out with the man Christ. All these have departed but little from the things of earth, that is, from those things which our Lord Jesus Christ performed on earth; of His divinity they have said very little, like men walking with Him on the earth. There remains the eagle; this is John, the preacher of sublime truths, and a contemplator with steady gaze of the inner and eternal light. It is said, indeed, that the young eagles are tested by the parent birds in this way: the young one is suspended from the talons of the male parent and directly exposed to the rays of the sun; if it looks steadily at the sun, it is recognized as a true brood; if its eye quivers, it is allowed to drop off, as a spurious brood. Now, therefore, consider how sublime are the things he ought to speak who is compared to the eagle; and yet even we, who creep on the earth, weak and hardly of any account among men, venture to handle and to expound these things; and imagine that we can either apprehend when we meditate them, or be apprehended when we speak.

6. Why have I said this? For perhaps after these words one may justly say to me: Lay aside the book then. Why dost thou take in hand what exceeds thy measure? Why trust thy tongue to it? To this I reply: Many heretics abound; and God has permitted them to abound to this end, that we may not be always nourished with milk and remain in senseless infancy. For inasmuch as they have not understood how the divinity of Christ is set forth to our acceptance, they have concluded according to their will: and by not discerning aright, they have brought in most troublesome questions upon catholic believers; and the hearts of believers began to be disturbed and to waver. Then immediately it became a necessity for spiritual men, who had not only read in the Gospel anything respecting the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, but had also understood it, to bring forth the armor of Christ against the armor of the devil, and with all their might to fight in most open conflict for the divinity of Christ against false and deceitful teachers; lest, while they were silent, others might perish. For whoever have thought either that our Lord Jesus Christ is of another substance than the Father is, or that there is only Christ, so that the same is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; whoever also have chosen to think that He was only man, not God made man, or God in such wise as to be mutable in His Godhead, or God in such wise as not to be man; these have made shipwreck from the faith, and have been cast forth from the harbor of the Church, lest by their inquietude they might wreck the ships in their company. Which thing obliged that even we, though least and as regards ourselves wholly unworthy, but in regard of His mercy set in some account among His stewards, should speak to you what either you may understand and rejoice with me, or, if you cannot yet understand, by believing it you may remain secure in the harbor.

7. I will accordingly speak; let him who can, understand; and let him who cannot understand, believe: yet will I speak what the Lord saith, "Ye judge after the flesh; I judge not any man," either now, or after the flesh. "But even, if I judge, my judgment is true." Why is Thy judgment true? "Because I am not alone," saith He, "but I and the Father that sent me." What then, O Lord Jesus? If Thou wert alone would Thy judgment be false: and is it because Thou art not alone, but Thou and the Father that sent Thee, that Thou judgest truly? How shall I answer? Let Himself answer: He saith, "My judgment is true." Why? "Because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." If He is with Thee, how has He sent Thee? And has He sent Thee, and yet is He also with Thee? Is it so that having been sent, Thou hast not departed from Him? And didst Thou come to us, and yet abode there? How is this to be believed? how apprehended? To these two questions I answer: Thou sayest rightly, how is it to be apprehended; how believed, thou sayest not rightly. Rather, for that reason is it right to believe it, because it is not immediately to be apprehended; for if it were a thing to be immediately apprehended, there would be no need to believe it, because it would be seen. It is because thou dost not apprehend that thou believest; but by believing thou art made capable of apprehending. For if thou dost not believe, thou wilt never apprehend, since thou wilt remain less capable. Let faith then purify thee, that understanding may fill thee. "My judgment is true," saith He, "because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." Therefore, O Lord our God, Jesus Christ, Thy sending is Thy incarnation. So I see, so I understand: in short, so I believe, in case it may smack of arrogance to say, so I understand. Doubtless the Lord Jesus Christ is even here; rather, was here as to His flesh, is here now as to His Godhead: He was both with the Father and had not left the Father. Hence, in that He is said to have been sent and to have come to us, His incarnation is set forth to us, for the Father did not take flesh.

8. For there are certain heretics called Sabellians, who are also called Patripassians, who affirm that it was the Father Himself that had suffered. Do not thou so affirm, O Catholic; for if thou wilt be a Patripassian, thou wilt not be sane. Understand, then, that the incarnation of the Son is termed the sending of the Son; and do not believe that the Father was incarnate, but do not yet believe that He departed from the incarnate Son. The Son carried flesh, the Father was with the Son. If the Father was in heaven, the Son on earth, how was the Father with the Son? Because both Father and Son were everywhere: for God is not in such manner in heaven as not to be on earth. Hear him who would flee from the judgment of God, and found not a way to flee by: "Whither shall I go," saith he, "from Thy Spirit; and whither shall I flee from Thy face? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there." The question was about the earth; hear what follows: "If I descend unto hell, Thou art there." [671] If, then, He is said to be present even in hell, what in the universe remains where He is not present? For the voice of God with the prophet is, "I fill heaven and earth." [672] Hence He is everywhere, who is confined by no place. Turn not thou away from Him, and He is with thee. If thou wouldst come to Him, be not slow to love; for it is not with feet but with affections thou runnest. Thou comest while remaining in one place, if thou believest and lovest. Wherefore He is everywhere; and if everywhere, how not also with the Son? Is it so that He is not with the Son, while, if thou believest, He is even with thee?

9. How, then, is His judgment true, but because the Son is true? For this He said: "And if I judge, my judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." Just as if He had said, "My judgment is true," because I am the Son of God. How dost Thou prove that Thou art the Son of God? "Because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." Blush, Sabellian; thou hearest the Son, thou hearest the Father. Father is Father, Son is Son. He said not, I am the Father, and I the same am the Son; but He saith, "I am not alone." Why art Thou not alone? Because the Father is with me. "I am, and the Father that sent me;" thou hearest, "I am, and He that sent me." Lest thou lose sight of the person, distinguish the persons. Distin guish by understanding, do not separate by faithlessness; lest again, fleeing as it were Charybdis, thou rush upon Scylla. For the whirlpool of the impiety of the Sabellians was swallowing thee, to say that the Father is the same who is Son: just now thou hast learned, "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." Thou dost acknowledge that the Father is Father, and that the Son is Son; thou dost rightly acknowledge: but do not say the Father is greater, the Son is less; do not say, the Father is gold, the Son is silver. There is one substance, one Godhead, one co-eternity, perfect equality, no unlikeness. For if thou only believe that Christ is another, not the same person that the Father is, but yet imagine that in respect of His nature He is somewhat different from the Father, thou hast indeed escaped Charybdis, but thou hast been wrecked on the rocks of Scylla. Steer the middle course, avoid each of the two perilous sides. Father is Father, Son is Son. Thou sayest now, Father is Father, Son is Son: thou hast fortunately escaped the danger of the absorbing whirl; why wouldst thou go unto the other side to say, the Father is this, the Son that? The Son is another person than the Father is, this thou sayest rightly; but that He is different in nature, thou sayest not rightly. Certainly the Son is another person, because He is not the same who is Father and the Father is another person, because He is not the same who is Son: nevertheless, they are not different in nature, but the selfsame is both Father and Son. What means the self-same? God is one. Thou hast heard, "Because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me:" hear how thou mayest believe Father and Son; hear the Son Himself, "I and the Father are one." [673] He said not, I am the Father; or, I and the Father is one person; but when He says, "I and the Father are one," hear both, both the one, unum, and the are, sumus, and thou shalt be delivered both from Charybdis and from Scylla. In these two words, in that He said one, He delivers thee from Arius; in that He said are, He delivers thee from Sabellius. If one, therefore not diverse; if are, therefore both Father and Son. For He would not say are of one person; but, on the other hand, He would not say one of diverse. Hence the reason why He says, "my judgment is true," is, that thou mayest hear it briefly, because I am the Son of God. But I would have thee in such wise believe that I am the Son of God, that thou mayest understand that the Father is with me: I am not Son in such manner as to have left Him; I am not in such manner here that I should not be with Him; nor is He in such manner there as not to be with me: I have taken to me the form of a servant, yet have I not lost the form of God; therefore He saith, "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me."

10. He had spoken of judgment; He means to speak of testimony. "In your law," saith He, "it is written that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." He expounded the law to them also, if they were not unthankful. For it is a great question, my brethren, and to me it certainly appears to have been ordained in a mystery, where God said, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall stand." [674] Is truth sought by two witnesses? Clearly it is; so is the custom of mankind: but yet it may be that even two witnesses lie. The chaste Susanna was pressed by two false witnesses: were they not therefore false because they were two? Do we speak of two or of three? A whole people lied against Christ. [675] If, then, a people, consisting of a great multitude of men, was found a false witness, how is it to be understood that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall stand," unless it be that in this manner the Trinity is mysteriously set forth to us, in which is perpetual stability of truth? Dost thou wish to have a good cause? Have two or three witnesses,--the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In short, when Susanna, the chaste woman and faithful wife, was pressed by two false witnesses, the Trinity supported her in her conscience and in secret: that Trinity raised up from secrecy one witness, Daniel, and convicted the two. [676] Therefore, because it is written in your law that the witness of two men is true, receive our witness, lest ye feel our judgment. "For I," saith He, "judge not any man; but I bear witness of myself:" I defer judgment, I defer not the witness.

11. Let us, brethren, choose for ourselves God as our judge, God as our witness, against the tongues of men, against the weak suspicions of mankind. For He who is the judge disdains not to be witness, nor is He advanced in honor when He becomes judge; since He who is witness will also Himself be judge. In what way is He witness? Because He asks not another to learn from Him who thou art. In what way is He judge? Because He has the power of killing and making alive, of condemning and acquitting, of casting down into hell and of raising up into heaven, of joining to the devil and of crowning with the angels. Since, therefore, He has this power, He is judge. Now, because He requires not another witness that He may know thee; and that He who will hereafter judge thee is now seeing thee, there is no means whereby thou canst deceive Him when He begins to judge. For there is no furnishing thyself with false witnesses who can circumvent that judge when He shall begin to judge thee. This is what God says to thee: When thou despisedst, I did see it; and when thou believedst not, I did not frustrate my sentence. I delayed it, not removed it. Thou wouldst not hear what I enjoined, thou shalt feel what I foretold. But if thou hearest what I enjoined, thou shalt not feel the evils which I have foretold, but thou shalt enjoy the good things which I have promised.

12. Let it not by any means surprise any one that He says, "My judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me;" whilst He has said in another place, "The Father judgeth not any man, but all judgment hath He given to the Son." We have already discoursed on these same words of the evangelist, and we remind you now that this was not said because the Father will not be with the Son when He comes to judge, but because the Son alone will be apparent to the good and the bad in the judgment, in that form in which He suffered, and rose again, and ascended into heaven. For at that moment, indeed, as they were beholding Him ascending, the angelic voice sounded in the ears of His disciples, "So shall He come in like manner as ye have seen Him going into heaven;" [677] that is, in the form of man in which He was judged, will He judge, in order that also that prophetic utterance may be fulfilled, "They shall look upon Him whom they pierced." [678] But when the righteous go into eternal life, we shall see Him as He is; that will not be the judgment of the living and the dead, but only the reward of the living.

13. Likewise, let it not surprise you that He says, "In your law it is written that the testimony of two men is true," that any man should hence suppose that this was not also the law of God, because it is not said, In the law of God: let him know that, when it is said thus, In your law, it is just as if He said, "In the law which was given to you;" given by whom, except by God? Just as we say, "Our daily bread;" and yet we say, "Give us this day."

Footnotes

[665] Prov. xxvii. 2. [666] Rom. x. 10. [667] Ps. ci. 1. [668] Phil. ii. 8. [669] Gal. vi. 14. [670] Luke xxiii. 34. [671] Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8. [672] Jer. xxiii. 24. [673] John x. 30. [674] Deut. xix. 15; Matt. xviii. 16. [675] Luke xxiii. 1. [676] Dan. xiii. 36-62 (apocryphal addition). [677] Acts i. 11. [678] Zech. xii. 10; John xix. 37. .


Tractate XXXVII.

Chapter VIII. 19, 20

1. What in the holy Gospel is spoken briefly ought not briefly to be expounded, so that what is read may be understood. The words of the Lord are few, but great; to be valued not by number, but by weight: not to be despised because they are few, but to be sought because they are great. You who were present yesterday have heard, as we discoursed according to our ability from that which the Lord said, "Ye judge after the flesh: I judge not any man. But yet if I judge, my judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." Yesterday, as I have said, from these words a discourse was delivered to your ears and to your minds. When the Lord had spoken these words, they who heard, "Ye judge after the flesh," manifested the truth of what they had heard. For they answered the Lord, as He spoke of God His Father, and said to Him, "Where is thy Father?" The Father of Christ they understood carnally, because they judged the words of Christ after the flesh. But He who spoke was openly flesh, but secretly the Word: man visible, God hidden. They saw the covering, and despised the wearer: they despised because they knew not; knew not, because they saw not; saw not, because they were blind; they were blind, because they believed not.

2. Let us see, then, what answer the Lord made to this. "Where," say they, "is thy Father?" For we have heard thee say, "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me:" we see thee alone, we do not see thy Father with thee; how sayest thou that thou art not alone, but that thou art with thy Father? Else show us that thy Father is with thee. And the Lord answered them: Do ye know me, that I should show you the Father? This is indeed what follows; this is what He answered in His own words, the exposition of which we have already premised. For see what He said, "Ye neither know me nor my Father: if ye knew me, ye would perhaps know my Father also." Ye say then, "Where is thy Father?" As if already ye knew me; as if what you see were all that I am. Therefore because ye know not me, I do not show you my Father. Ye suppose me, in fact, to be a man; hence ye seek a man for my father, because "ye judge after the flesh." But because, according to what you see, I am one thing, and another thing according to what you see not, and that I as hidden from you speak of my Father as hidden, it is requisite that you should first know me, and then ye know my Father also.

3. "For if ye knew me, ye would perhaps know my Father also." He who knows all things is not in doubt when He says perhaps, but rebuking. Now see how this very word perhaps, which seems to be a word of doubting, may be spoken chidingly. Yea, a word expressive of doubt it is when used by man, for man doubts because he knows not; but when a word of doubting is spoken by God, from whom surely nothing is hid, it is unbelief that is reproved by that doubting, not the Godhead merely expressing an opinion. For men sometimes chidingly express doubt concerning things which they hold certain; that is, use a word of doubting, while in their heart they doubt not: just as thou wouldst say to thy slave, if thou wert angry with him, "Thou despisest me; but consider, perhaps I am thy master." Hence also the apostle, speaking to some who despised him, says: "And I think that I also have the Spirit of God." [679] When he says, "I think," he seems to doubt; but he is rebuking, not doubting. And in another place the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, rebuking the future unbelief of mankind, saith: "When the Son of man cometh, will He, thinkest thou, find faith on the earth?" [680]

4. You now, as I think, understand how the word perhaps is used here, in case any weigher of words and poiser of syllables, as if to show his knowledge of Latin, finds fault with a word which the Word of God spoke; and by blaming the Word of God, remain not eloquent, but mute. For who is there that speaks as doth the Word which was in the beginning with God? Do not consider these words as we use them, and from these wish to measure that Word which is God. Thou hearest the Word indeed, and despisest it; hear God and fear Him: "In the beginning was the Word." Thou referrest to the usage of thy conversation, and sayest within thyself, What is a word? What mighty thing is a word? It sounds and passes away; after beating the air, it strikes the ear and is no more. Hear further: "The Word was with God;" remained, did not by sounding pass away. Perhaps thou still despisest it: "The Word was God." With thyself, O man, a word in thy heart is a different thing from sound; but the word that is with thee, in order to pass to me, requires sound for a vehicle as it were. It takes to itself sound, mounts it as a vehicle, runs through the air, comes to me and yet does not leave thee. But the sound, in order to come to me, left thee and yet did not stay with me. Now has the word that was in thy heart also passed away with the passing sound? Thou didst speak thy thought; and, that the thought which was hid with thee might come to me, thou didst sound syllables; the sound of the syllables conveyed thy thought to my ear; through my ear thy thought descended into my heart, the intermediate sound flew away: but that word which took to itself sound was with thee before thou didst sound it, and is with me, because thou didst sound it, without quitting thee. Consider this, thou nice weigher of sounds, whoever thou be. Thou despisest the Word of God, thou who comprehendest not the word of man.

5. He, then, by whom all things were made knows all things, and yet He rebukes by doubting: "If ye knew me ye would perhaps know my Father also." He rebukes unbelievers. He spoke a like sentence to the disciples, but there is not a word of doubting in it, because there was no occasion to rebuke unbelief. For this, "If ye knew me, ye would perhaps know my Father also," which He said to the Jews, He said also to the disciples, when Philip asked, or rather, demanded of Him, saying, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us:" just as if he said, We already know Thee even ourselves; Thou hast been apparent to us; we have seen Thee; Thou hast deigned to choose us; we have followed Thee, have seen Thy marvels, heard Thy words of Salvation, have taken Thy precepts upon us, we hope in Thy promises: Thou hast deigned to confer much upon us by Thy very presence: but still, while we know Thee, and we do not yet know the Father, we are inflamed with desire to see Him whom we do not yet know; and thus, be cause we know Thee, but it is not enough until we know the Father, show us the Father and it sufficeth us. And the Lord, that they might understand that they knew not what they thought they did already know, said, "Am I so long time with you, and ye know me not, Philip? he who hath seen me hath seen the Father." [681] Has this sentence a word of doubting in it? Did He say, He that hath seen me hath perhaps seen the Father? Why not? Because it was a believer that listened to Him, not a persecutor of the faith: hence did the Lord not rebuke, but teach. "Whoso hath seen me hath seen the Father also:" and here, "If ye knew me, ye would know my Father also," let us remove the word which indicates the unbelief of the hearers, and it is the same sentence.

6. Yesterday we commended it to your consideration, beloved, and said that the sentences of the Evangelist John, in which he narrates to us what he learned from the Lord, had not required to be discussed, were that possible, except the inventions of heretics had compelled us. Yesterday, then, we briefly intimated to you, beloved, that there are heretics who are called Patripassians, or Sabellians after their founder: these say that the same is the Father who is the Son; the names different, but the person one. When He wills, say they, He is Father; when He wills, He is Son: still He is one. There are likewise other heretics who are called Arians. They indeed confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Son of the Father; the one, Father of the Son; the other, Son of the Father; that He who is Father is not Son, nor He who is Son is Father; they confess that the Son was begotten, but deny His equality. We, namely, the catholic faith, coming from the doctrine of the apostles planted in us, received by a line of succession, to be transmitted sound to posterity,--the catholic faith, I say, has, between both those parties, that is, between both errors, held the truth. In the error of the Sabellians, He is only one; the Father and Son is the same person: in the error of the Arians, the Father and the Son are indeed different persons; but the Son is not only a different person, but different in nature. Thou midway between these, what sayest thou? Thou hast shut out the Sabellian, shut out the Arian also. The Father is Father, the Son is Son; another person, not another in nature; for, "I and the Father are one," which, so far as I could, I pressed on your thoughts yesterday. When he hears that word, we are, let the Sabellian go away confounded; when he hears the word one, let the Arian go away confounded. Let the catholic steer the bark of his faith between both, since in both he must be on his guard against shipwreck. Say thou, then, what the Gospel saith, "I and the Father are one." Not different in nature, because one; not one person, because are.

7. A little before He said, "My judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me:" as if He said, The reason why my judgment is true is, because I am the Son of God, because I speak the truth, because I am truth itself. Those men, understanding Him carnally, said, "Where is thy Father?" Now hear, O Arian: "Ye neither know me, nor my Father;" because, "If ye knew me, ye would know my Father also." What doth this mean, except "I and the Father are one"? When thou seest some person like some other,--give heed, beloved, it is a common remark; let not that appear to you difficult which you see to be customary,--when, I say, thou seest some person like another, and thou knowest the person to whom he is like, thou sayest in wonder, "How like this person is to that!" Thou wouldst not say this unless there were two. Here one who does not know the person to whom thou sayest the other is like remarks, "Is he so like him?" And thou answerest him: What, dost thou not know that person? Saith he, "No, I do not." Immediately thou, in order to make known to him the person whom he does not know by means of the person whom he observes before him, answerest, saying, Having seen this man, thou hast seen the other. Thou didst not, surely, assert that they are one person in saying this, or that they are not two; but made such answer because of the likeness: "If thou knowest the one, thou knowest the other; for they are very like, and there is no difference whatever between them." Hence also the Lord saith, "If ye knew me, ye would know my Father also;" not that the Son is the Father but like the Father. Let the Arian blush. Thanks be to the Lord that even the Arian is separate from the Sabellian error, and is not a Patripassian: he does not affirm that the Father assumed flesh and came to men, that the Father suffered, rose again, and somehow ascended to Himself; this he does not affirm; he acknowledges with me the Father to be Father, the Son to be Son. But, O brother, thou hast escaped that shipwreck, why go to the other? Father is Father, Son is Son; why dost thou affirm that the Son is unlike, that He is different, another substance? If He were unlike, would He say to His disciples, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"? Would He say to the Jews, "If ye knew me, ye would know my Father also"? How would this be true, unless that other was also true, "I and the Father are one"?

8. "These words spake Jesus in the treasury, speaking in the temple:" great boldness, without fear. For He could not suffer if He did not will it, since He were not born if He did not will it. What follows then? "And no man laid hold of Him, because His hour was not yet come." Some, again, when they hear this, believe that the Lord Christ was subject to fate, and say: Behold, Christ is held by fate! O, if thy heart were not fatuous, thou wouldst not believe in fate. If fate, as some understand it, is derived from fando, that is from speaking, how can the Word of God be held by fate, whilst all things that are made are in the Word itself? For God has not ordained anything which He did not know beforehand; that which was made was in His Word. The world was made; both was made and was there. How both was made and was there? Because the house which the builder rears, was previously in his art; and there, a better house, without age, without decay: however, to show forth his art, he makes a house; and so, in a manner, a house comes forth from a house; and if the house should fall, the art remains. So were all things that are made with the Word of God; because God made all things in wisdom, [682] and all that He made were known to Him: for He did not learn because He made, but made because He knew. To us they are known, because they are made: to Him, if they had not been known, they would not have been made. Therefore the Word went before. And what was before the Word? Nothing at all. For were there anything before it, it would not have been said, "In the beginning was the Word;" but, In the beginning was the Word made. In short, what says Moses concerning the world? "In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth." Made what was not: well, if He made what was not, what was there before? "In the beginning was the Word." And whence came heaven and earth? "All things were made by Him." Dost thou then put Christ under fate? Where are the fates? In heaven, sayest thou, in the order and changes of the stars. How then can fate rule Him by whom the heavens and the stars were made; whilst thy own will, if thou thinkest rightly, transcends even the stars? Or, because thou knowest that Christ's flesh was under heaven, is that the reason why thou thinkest that Christ's power was put under the heavens?

9. Hear, thou fool: "His hour was not yet come;" not the hour in which He should be forced to die, but that in which He would deign to be put to death. For Himself knew when He should die: He considered all things that were foretold of Him, and awaited all to be finished that was foretold to be before His suffering; that when all should be fulfilled, then should come His suffering in set order, not by fatal necessity. In short, hear that you may prove. Among the rest that was prophesied of Him, it is also written: "They gave me gall for meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." [683] How this happened, we know from the Gospel. First, they gave Him gall; He received it, tasted it, and spat it out. Thereafter, as He hung on the cross, that all that was foretold might be fulfilled, He said, "I thirst." They took a sponge filled with vinegar, bound it to a reed, and put it to His mouth; He received it, and said, "It is finished." What did that mean? All things which were prophesied before my death are completed, then what do I here any longer? In a word, when He said "It is finished, He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." Did the thieves, who were nailed beside Him, expire when they would? They were held by the bonds of flesh, for they were not the creators of the flesh; fixed by nails, they were a long time tormented, because they had not lordship over their weakness. The Lord, however, when He would, took flesh in a virgin's womb: came forth to men when He would; lived among men so long as He would; and when He would He quitted the flesh. This is the part of power, not of necessity. This hour, then, He awaited; not the fated, but the fitting and voluntary hour; that all might first be fulfilled which behoved to be fulfilled before His decease. How could he have been under necessity of fate, when He said in another place, "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 and take it again?" [684] He showed this power when the Jews sought Him. "Whom seek ye?" saith He. "Jesus," said they. And He answered, "I am He." When they heard this voice, "they went back and fell to the ground." [685]

10. Says one, If he had this power, why, when the Jews insulted him on the cross and said, "If he be the Son of God let him come down from the cross," did He not come down, to show them His power by coming down? Because He was teaching us patience, therefore He deferred the demonstration of His power. For if He came down, moved as it were at their words, He would be thought to have been overcome by the sting of their insults. He did not come down; there He remained fixed, to depart when He would. For what great matter was it for Him to descend from the cross, when He could rise again from the sepulchre? Let us, then, to whom this is ministered, understand that the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, then concealed, will be made manifest in the judgment, of which it is said, "God will come manifest; our God, and He will not be silent." [686] Why is it said, "will come manifest"? Because He, our God,--namely, Christ,--came hidden, will come manifest. "And will not be silent:" why this "will not be silent"? Because at first He did keep silence. When? When He was judged; that this, too, might be fulfilled which the prophet had foretold: "As a sheep He was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." [687] He would not have suffered did He not will to suffer: did He not suffer, that blood had not been shed; if that blood were not shed, the world would not be redeemed. Therefore let us give thanks to the power of His divinity, and to the compassion of His infirmity; both concerning the hidden power which the Jews did not recognize, whence it is now said to them, "Ye neither know me nor my Father," and also concerning the flesh assumed, which the Jews did not recognize, and yet knew His lineage: whence He said to them elsewhere, "Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am." Let us know both in Christ, both wherein He is equal to the Father and wherein the Father is greater than He. That is the Word, this is the flesh; that is God, this is man; but yet Christ is one, God and man.

Footnotes

[679] 1 Cor. vii. 40. [680] Luke xviii. 8. [681] John xiv. 8. [682] Ps. civ. 24. [683] Ps. lxix. 22. [684] John x. 18. [685] John xviii. 6. [686] Ps. l. 3. [687] Isa. liii. 7. .


Tractate XXXVIII.

Chapter VIII. 21-25

1. The lesson of the holy Gospel which preceded to-day's had concluded thus: that "the Lord spake, teaching in the treasury," what it pleased Him, and what you have heard; "and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come." [688] Accordingly, on the Lord's day we made our subject of discourse what He Himself thought fit to give us. We indicated to your Charity why it was said, "His hour was not yet come," lest any in their impiety should have the effrontery to suspect Christ as laid under some fatal necessity. For the hour was not yet come when by His own appointment, in accordance with what was predicted regarding Him, He should not be forced to die unwillingly, but be ready to be slain.

2. But of His own passion itself, which lay not in any necessity He was under, but in His own power, all that He said in His discourse to the Jews was, "I go away." For to Christ the Lord's death was His proceeding to the place whence He had come, and from which He had never departed. "I go away," said He, "and ye shall seek me," not from any longing for me, but in hatred. For after His removal from human sight, He was sought for both by those who hated Him and those who loved Him; by the former in a spirit of persecution, by the latter with the desire of having Him. In the Psalms the Lord Himself says by the prophet, "A place of refuge hath failed me, and there is none that seeketh after my life;" [689] and again He says in another place in the Psalms, "Let them be confounded and ashamed who seek after my life." [690] He blamed the former for not seeking, He condemned the latter because they did. For it is wrong not to seek the life of Christ, that is, in the way the disciples sought it; and it is wrong to seek the life of Christ, that is, in the way the Jews sought it: for the former sought to possess it, these latter to destroy it. Accordingly, because these men sought it thus in a wrong way, with a perverted heart, what next did He add? "Ye shall seek me, and"--not to let you suppose that ye will seek me for good--"ye shall die in your sin." This comes of seeking Christ wrongly, to die in one's sin; this of hating Him, through whom alone salvation could be found. For, while men whose hope is in God ought not to render evil even for evil, these men were rendering evil for good. The Lord therefore announced to them beforehand, and in His foreknowledge uttered the sentence, that they should die in their sin. And then He adds, "Whither I go, ye cannot come." He said the same to the disciples also in another place; and yet He said not to them, "Ye shall die in your sin." But what did He say? The same as to these men: "Whither I go, ye cannot come." [691] He did not take away hope, but foretold delay. For at the time when the Lord spake this to the disciples, they were not able to come whither He was going, yet were they to come afterwards; but these men never, to whom in His foreknowledge He said, "Ye shall die in your sin."

3. But on hearing these words, as is usual with those whose thoughts are carnal, who judge after the flesh, and hear and apprehend everything in a carnal way, they said, "Will he kill himself because he said, Whither I go ye cannot come." Foolish words, and overflowing with stupidity! For why could they not go whither He would have proceeded had He killed Himself? Were not they themselves to die? What, then, means, "Will he kill himself because he said, Whither I go ye cannot come?" If He spake of man's death, what man is there that does not die? Therefore, by "whither I go" He meant, not the going to death, but whither He was going Himself after death. Such, then, was their answer, because they did not understand.

4. And what said the Lord to those who savored of the earth? "And He said unto them, Ye are from beneath." For this cause ye savor of the earth, because ye lick dust like serpents. Ye eat earth! What does it mean? Ye feed on earthly things, ye delight in earthly things, ye gape after earthly things, ye have no heart for what is above. "Ye are from beneath: I am from above. Ye are of this world: I am not of this world." For how could He be of the world, by whom the world was made? All that are of the world come after the world, because the world preceded; and so man is of the world. But Christ was first, and then the world; and since Christ was before the world, before Christ there was nothing: because "In the beginning was the Word; all things were made by Him." [692] He, therefore, was of that which is above. But of what that is above? Of the air? Perish the thought! there the birds wing their flight. Of the sky that we see? Again I say, Perish the thought! it is there that the stars and sun and moon revolve. Of the angels? Neither is this to be understood: by Him who made all things were the angels also made. Of what, then, above is Christ? Of the Father Himself. Nothing is above that God who begat the Word equal with Himself, co-eternal with Himself, only-begotten, timeless, that by Him time's own foundations should be laid. Understand, then, Christ as from above, so as in thy thought to get beyond everything that is made,--the whole creation together, every material body, every created spirit, everything in any way subject to change: rise above all, as John rose, in order to reach this: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

5. Therefore said He, "I am from above. Ye are of this world: I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins." He has explained to us, brethren, what He wished to be understood by "ye are of this world." He said therefore in fact, "Ye are of this world," because they were sinners, because they were unrighteous, because they were unbelieving, because they savored of the earthly. For what is your opinion as regards the holy apostles? What difference was there between the Jews and the apostles? As great as between darkness and light, as between faith and unbelief, as between piety and impiety, as between hope and despair, as between love and avarice: surely the difference was great. What then, because there was such a difference, were the apostles not of the world? If thy thoughts turn to the manner of their birth, and whence they came, inasmuch as all of them had come from Adam, they were of this world. But what said the Lord Himself to them? "I have chosen you out of the world." [693] Those, then, who were of the world, became not of the world, and began to belong to Him by whom the world was made. But these men continued to be of the world, to whom it was said, "Ye shall die in your sins."

6. Let none then, brethren, say, I am not of this world. Whoever thou art as a man, thou art of this world; but He who made the world came to thee, and delivered thee from this world. If the world delights thee, thou wishest always to be unclean (immundus); but if this world no longer delight thee, thou art already clean (mundus). And yet, if through some infirmity the world still delight thee, let Him who cleanseth (mundat) dwell in thee, and thou too shalt be clean. [694] But if thou art once clean, thou wilt not continue in the world; neither wilt thou hear what was heard by the Jews, "Ye shall die in your sins." For we are all born with sin; we have all in living added to that wherein we were born, and have since become more of the world than when we were born of our parents. And where should we be, had He not come, who was wholly free from sin, to expiate all sin? And so, because in Him the Jews believed not, they deservedly heard [the sentence], "Ye shall die in your sins;" for in no way could ye, who were born with sin, be without sin; and yet, said He, if ye believe in me, although it is still true that ye were born with sin, yet in your sin ye shall not die. The whole misery, then, of the Jews was just this, not to have sin, but to die in their sins. From this it is that every Christian ought to seek to escape; because of this we have recourse to baptism; on this account do those whose lives are in danger from sickness or any other cause become anxious for help; for this also is the sucking child carried by his mother with pious hands to the church, that he may not go out into the world without baptism, and die in the sin wherein he was born. Most wretched surely the condition and miserable the lot of these men, who heard from those truth-speaking lips, "Ye shall die in your sins!"

7. But He explains whence this should befall them: "For if ye believe not that I am [He], ye shall die in your sins." I believe, brethren, that among the multitude who listened to the Lord, there were those also who should yet believe. But against all, as it were, had that most severe sentence gone forth, "Ye shall die in your sin;" and thereby even from those who should yet believe had hope been withdrawn: the others were roused to fury, they to fear; yea, to more than fear, they were brought now to despair. But He revived their hope; for He added, "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins." Therefore if ye do believe that I am, ye shall not die in your sins. Hope was restored to the desponding, the sleeping were aroused, their hearts got a fresh awakening; and thereafter very many believed, as the Gospel itself attests in the sequel. For members of Christ were there, who had not yet become attached to the body of Christ; and among that people by whom He was crucified, by whom He was hanged on a tree, by whom when hanging He was mocked, by whom He was wounded with the spear, by whom gall and vinegar were given Him to drink, were the members of Christ, for whose sake He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And what will a convert not be forgiven, if the shedding of Christ's blood is forgiven? What murderer need despair, if he was restored to hope by whom even Christ was slain? After this many believed; they were presented with Christ's blood as a gift, that they might drink it for their salvation, rather than be held guilty of shedding it. Who can despair? And if the thief was saved on the cross,--a murderer shortly before, a little afterwards accused, convicted, condemned, hanged, delivered,--wonder not. The place of his conviction was that of his condemnation; while that of his conversion was the place also of his deliverance. [695] Among this people, then, to whom the Lord was speaking, were those who should yet die in their sin: there were those also who should yet believe on Him who spake, and find deliverance from all their sin.

8. But look at this which is said by Christ the Lord: "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins." What is this, "If ye believe not that I am?" "I am" what? There is nothing added; and because He added nothing, He left much to be inferred. For He was expected to say what He was, and yet He said it not. What was He expected to say? Perhaps, "If ye believe not that I am" Christ; "if ye believe not that I am" the Son of God; "if ye believe not that I am" the Word of the Father; "if ye believe not that I am" the founder of the world; "if ye believe not that I am" the former and re-former, the creator and re-creator, the maker and re-maker of man;--"if ye believe not that I am" this, "ye shall die in your sins." There is much implied in His only saying "I am;" for so also had God said to Moses, "I am who am." Who can adequately express what that am means? God by His angel sent His servant Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt (you have read and know what you now hear; but I recall it to your minds); He sent him trembling, self-excusing, but obedient. And while thus excusing himself, he said to God, whom he understood to be speaking in the person of the angel: If the people say to me, And who is the God that hath sent thee? what shall I say to them? And the Lord answered him, "I am who am;" and added, "Thou shalt say to the children of Israel, He who is hath sent me to you." There also He says not, I am God; or, I am the framer of the world; or, I am the creator of all things; or, I am the multiplier of the very people to be delivered: but only this, "I am who am;" and, "Thou shall say to the children of Israel, He who is." He added not, Who is your God, who is the God of your fathers; but said only this: "He who is hath sent me to you." Perhaps it was too much even for Moses himself, as it is too much for us also, and much more so for us, to understand the meaning of such words, "I am who am;" and, "He who is hath sent me to you." And supposing that Moses comprehended it, when would those to whom he was sent comprehend it? The Lord therefore put aside what man could not comprehend, and added what he could; for He said also besides, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." [696] This thou canst comprehend; for "I am who am," what mind can comprehend?

9. What then of us? Shall we venture to say anything on such words, "I am who am;" or rather on this, that you have heard the Lord saying, "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins"? Shall I venture with these feeble and scarcely existing powers of mine to discuss the meaning of that which Christ the Lord hath said, "If ye believe not that I am"? I shall venture to ask the Lord Himself. Listen to me as one asking rather than discussing, inquiring rather than assuming, learning rather than teaching, and fail not yourselves also to be asking with me or through me. The Lord Himself, who is everywhere, is also at hand. Let Him hear the feeling that prompts to ask, and grant the fruit of understanding. For in what words, even were it so that I comprehend something, can I convey to your hearts what I comprehend? What voice is adequate? what eloquence sufficient? what powers of intelligence? what faculty of utterance?

10. I shall speak, then, to our Lord Jesus Christ; I shall speak and may He be pleased to hear me. I believe He is present, I am fully assured of it; for He Himself has said, "Lo, I am with you even to the end of the world." [697] O Lord our God, what is that which Thou saidst, "If ye believe not that I am"? For what is there that belongs not to the things Thou hast made? Does not heaven so belong? Does not the earth? Does not everything in earth and heaven? Does not man himself to whom Thou speakest? Does not the angel whom Thou sendest? If all these are things made by Thee, what is that existence [698] Thou hast retained as something exclusively Thine own, which Thou hast given to none besides, that Thou mightest be such Thyself alone? For how do I hear "I am who am," as if there were none besides? and how do I hear "If ye believe not that I am"? For had they no existence who heard Him? Yea, though they were sinners, they were men. What then can I do? What that existence is, let Him tell my heart, let Him tell, let Him declare it within; let the inner man hear, the mind apprehend this true existence; for such existence is always unvarying in character. [699] For a thing, anything whatever (I have begun as it were to dispute, and have left off inquiring. Perhaps I wish to speak what I have heard. May He grant enlargement to my hearing, and to yours, while I speak);--for anything, whatever in short be its excellence, if it is changeable, does not truly exist; for there is no true existence wherever non-existence has also a place. For whatever can be changed, so far as changed, it is not that which was: if it is no longer what it was, a kind of death has therein taken place; something that was there has been eliminated, and exists no more. Blackness has died out in the silvery locks of the patriarch, comeliness in the body of the careworn and crooked old man, strength in the body of the languishing, the [previous] standing posture in the body of one walking, walking in the body of one standing, walking and standing in the body of one reclining, speech in the tongue of the silent;--whatever changes, and is what it was not, I see there a kind of life in that which is, and death in that which was. In fine, when we say of one deceased, Where is that person? we are answered, He was. O Truth, it is thou [alone] that truly art! For in all actions and movements of ours, yea, in every activity of the creature, I find two times, the past and the future. I seek for the present, nothing stands still: what I have said is no longer present; what I am going to say is not yet come: what I have done is no longer present; what I am going to do is not yet come: the life I have lived is no longer present; the life I have still to live is not yet come. Past and future I find in every creature-movement: in truth, which is abiding, past and future I find not, but the present alone, and that unchangeably, which has no place in the creature. Sift the mutations of things, thou wilt find was and will be: think on God, thou wilt find the is, where was and will be cannot exist. To be so then thyself, rise beyond the boundaries of time. But who can transcend the powers of his being? May He raise us thither who said to the Father, "I will that they also be with me where I am." And so, in making this promise, that we should not die in our sins, the Lord Jesus Christ, I think, said nothing else by these words, "If ye believe not that I am;" yea, by these words I think He meant nothing else than this, "If ye believe not that I am" God, "ye shall die in your sins." Well, God be thanked that He said, "If ye believe not," and did not say, If ye comprehend not. For who can comprehend this? Or is it so, since I have ventured to speak and you have seemed to understand, that you have indeed comprehended somewhat of a subject so unspeakable? If then thou comprehendest not, faith sets thee free. Therefore also the Lord said not, If ye comprehend not that I am; but said what they were capable of attaining, "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins."

11. And savoring as these men always did of the earth, and ever hearing and answering according to the flesh, what did they say to Him? "Who art thou?" For when thou saidst, "If ye believe not that I am," thou didst not tell us what thou wert. Who art thou, that we may believe? He answered "The Beginning." Here is the existence that [always] is. The beginning cannot be changed: the beginning is self-abiding and all-originating; that is, the beginning, to which it has been said, "But thou Thyself art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." [700] "The beginning," He said, "for so I also speak to you." Believe me [to be] the beginning, that ye may not die in your sins. For just as if by saying, "Who art thou?" they had said nothing else than this, What shall we believe thee to be? He replied, "The beginning;" that is, Believe me [to be] the "beginning." For in the Greek expression we discern what we cannot in the Latin. For in Greek the word "beginning" (principium, arche), is of the feminine gender, just as with us "law" (lex) is of the feminine gender, while it is of the masculine (nomos) with them; or as "wisdom" (sapientia, sophia) is of the feminine gender with both. It is the custom of speech, therefore, in different languages to vary the gender of words, because in things themselves there is no place for the distinction of sex. For wisdom is not really female, since Christ is the Wisdom of God, [701] and Christ is termed of the masculine gender, wisdom of the feminine. When then the Jews said, "Who art thou?" He, who knew that there were some there who should yet believe, and therefore had said, Who art thou? that so they might come to know what they ought to believe regarding Him, replied, "The beginning:" not as if He said, I am the beginning; but as if He said, Believe me [to be] the beginning. Which, as I said, is quite evident in the Greek language, where beginning (arche) is of the feminine gender. [702] Just as if He had wished to say that He was the Truth, and to their question, "Who art thou?" had answered, Veritatem [703] [the Truth]; when to the words, "Who art thou?" He evidently ought to have replied, Veritas [704] [the Truth]; that is, I am the Truth. But His answer had a deeper meaning, when He saw that they had put the question, "Who art thou?" in such a way as to mean, Having heard from thee, "If ye believe not that I am," what shall we believe thee to be? To this He replied, "The beginning:" as if He said, Believe me to be the beginning. And He added "for [as such] I also speak to you;" that is, having humbled myself on your account, I have condescended to such words. For if the beginning as it is in itself had remained so with the Father, as not to receive the form of a servant and speak as man with men; how could they have believed in Him, since their weak hearts could not have heard the Word intelligently without some voice that would appeal to their senses? Therefore, said He, believe me to be the beginning; for, that you may believe, I not only am, but also speak to you. [705] But on this subject I have still much to say to you; may it therefore please your Charity that we reserve what remains, and by His gracious aid deliver it tomorrow.

Footnotes

[688] Chap. viii. 20. [689] Ps. cxlii. 4. [690] Ps. xl. 14. [691] Chap. xiii. 33. [692] Chap. i. 1, 3. [693] Chap. xv. 19. [694] There is a play here on the words mundus, the world, and mundus, clean, with its compound immundus, and its cognate verb mundare. Such plays are frequent in St. Augustin.--Tr. [695] Luke xviii. 34-43. [696] Ex. iii. 13-15. [697] Matt. xxviii. 20. [698] Esse. [699] Eodem modo. [700] Ps. cii. 27. [701] 1 Cor. i. 24. [702] The Greek is ten arche;n, which to some has here the sound of an adverb, like the Latin principio and primum. So at least it sounded to Chrysostom. But Augustin's interpretation is favored by Ambrose, Bernard, etc. [703] In the accusative case. [704] In the nominative case. [705] Augustin here makes Christ's speaking--His use of human language--the means whereby they should be able to know and believe Him to be the beginning, the Eternal Alpha. Had He not become man and spoken to them, but remained always hidden with the Father, and silent, they could never have had the means of knowing that He personally was the beginning, or believing Him such.--Tr. .


Tractate XXXIX.

Chapter VIII. 26, 27

1. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He had addressed to the Jews, so regulating His discourse that the blind saw not, and believers' eyes were opened, are these, which have been read to-day from the holy Gospel: "Then said the Jews, Who art thou?" Because the Lord had said before, "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins." [706] To this accordingly they rejoined, "Who art thou?" as if seeking to know on whom they ought to believe, so as not to die in their sin. He replied to those who asked Him: "Who art thou?" by saying, "The beginning, for [so] also I speak to you." If the Lord has called Himself the beginning, it may be inquired whether the Father also is the beginning. For if the Son who has a Father is the beginning, how much more easily must God the Father be understood as the beginning, who has indeed the Son whose Father He is, but has no one from whom He Himself proceedeth? For the Son is the Son of the Father, and the Father certainly is the Father of the Son; but the Son is called God of God,--the Son is called Light of Light; the Father is called Light, but not, of Light,--the Father is called God, but not, of God. If, then, God of God, Light of Light, is the beginning, how much more easily may we understand as such that Light, from whom the Light [cometh], and God, of whom is God? It seems, therefore, absurd, dearly beloved, to call the Son the beginning, and not to call the Father the beginning also.

2. But what shall we do? Are there, then, two beginnings? Let us beware of saying so. What then, if both the Father is the beginning and the Son the beginning, how are there not two beginnings? In the same way that we call the Father God, and the Son God, and yet say not that there are two Gods; and yet He who is the Father is not the Son, He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, is neither the Father nor the Son. Although, then, as Catholic ears have been taught in the bosom of mother Church, neither He who is the Father is the Son, nor He who is the Son is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit, of the Father and of the Son, either the Son or the Father, yet we say not that there are three Gods; although, if we are asked of each apart, we must, of whichever we are questioned, confess that He is God.

3. But all this seems absurd to those who drag up familiar things to a level with things little known, visible things with invisible, and compare the creature to the Creator. For unbelievers sometimes question us and say: Whom you call the Father, do you call him God? We answer, God. Whom you call the Son, do you call him God? We answer, God. Whom you call the Holy Spirit, do you call him God? We answer, God. Then, say they, are the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit three Gods? We answer, No. They are confounded, because they are not enlightened; they have their heart shut up, because they want the key of faith. Let us then, brethren, by an antecedent faith that heals the eye of our heart, receive without obscurity what we understand,--and what we understand not, believe without hesitation; let us not quit the foundation of faith in order to reach the summit of perfection. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God: and yet He is not the Father who is the Son, nor He the Son who is the Father, and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is neither the Father nor the Son. The Trinity is one God. The Trinity is one eternity, one power, one majesty;--three, [but not three] Gods. Let not the reviler answer me: "Three what, then? For," he adds, "if there are three, you must say, three what?" I reply: The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. "See," he says, "you have named three; but express what the three are?" Nay, count them yourself; for I make out three when I say, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For the Father is God as respects Himself, but [He is] the Father as respects the Son; the Son is God as respects Himself, but He is the Son as regards the Father.

4. What I say you may gather from daily analogies. So it is with one man and another, if the one be a father, the other his son. He is man as regards himself, but a father as regards his son; and the son man as respects himself, but a son as respects his father. For father is a name given relatively, and so with son; but these are two men. And certainly God the Father is Father in a relative sense, that is, in relation to the Son; and God the Son is Son relatively, that is, in relation to the Father; but not as the former are two men are these two Gods. Why is it not so here? Because that belongs to one sphere and this to another; for this is divine. There is here something ineffable which cannot be explained in words, that there should both be, and not be, number. For see if there appear not a kind of number, Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost--the Trinity. If three, three what? Here number fails. And so God neither keeps apart from number, nor is comprehended by number. Because there are three, there is a kind of number. If you ask three what, number ceases. Hence it is said, "Great is our Lord, and great His power; and of His understanding there is no number." [707] When you have begun to reflect, you begin to number; when you have numbered, you cannot tell what you have numbered. The Father is Father, the Son is Son, the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. What are these three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Are They not three Gods? No. Are They not three Almighties? No. Not three Creators of the world? No. Is the Father then almighty? Manifestly almighty. And is the Son then not almighty? Clearly the Son is also almighty. And is the Holy Spirit then not almighty? He, too, is almighty. Are there then three Almighties? No; only one Almighty. Only in Their relation to each other do They suggest number, not in Their essential existence. For though God the Father is, as respects Himself, God along with the Son and the Holy Spirit, there are not three Gods; and, though as respects Himself He is omnipotent, as well as the Son and the Holy Spirit, there are not three omnipotents; for in truth He is the Father not in respect to Himself, but to the Son; nor is the Son so in respect to Himself, but to the Father; nor is the Spirit so as regards Himself, in as far as He is called the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. I have no name to give the three, save the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, one Almighty. And so one beginning.

5. Take an illustration from the Holy Scriptures, whereby you may in some measure comprehend what I am saying. After our Lord Jesus Christ rose again, and was pleased to ascend into heaven, at the end of ten days He sent from thence the Holy Spirit, by whom those who were present in that one chamber were filled, and began to speak in the languages of all nations. The Lord's murderers, terrified by the miracle, were pricked to the heart and sorrowed; sorrowing, were changed; and being changed, believed. There were added to the Lord's body, that is, to the number of believers, three thousand people. And so also by the working of another miracle there were added other five thousand. A considerable community was created, in which all, receiving the Holy Spirit, by whom spiritual love was kindled, were by their very love and fervor of spirit welded into one, and began in the very unity of fellowship to sell all that they had, and to lay the price at the apostles' feet, that distribution might be made to every one as each had need. And the Scripture says this of them, that "they were of one soul and one heart toward God." [708] Give heed then, brethren, and from this acknowledge the mystery of the Trinity, how it is we say, There is both the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and yet there is one God. See! there were so many thousands of these, and yet there was one heart; there were so many thousands, and one soul. But where? In God. How much more so God Himself? Do I err at all in word when I call two men two souls, or three men three souls, or many men many souls? Surely I speak correctly. Let them approach God, and one soul belongs to all. If by approaching God many souls by love become one soul, and many hearts one heart, what of the very fountain of love in the Father and Son? Is it not still more so here that the Trinity is one God? For thence, of that Holy Spirit, does love come to us, as the apostle says: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us." [709] If then the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us, makes many souls one soul, and many hearts one heart, how much rather are the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, one God, one light, and one beginning?

6. Let us hear, then, the Beginning who speaks to us: "I have," said He, "many things to say of you and to judge." You remember that He said, "I do not judge any one." [710] See, now He says, "I have many things to say of you and to judge." But, "I do not judge" is one thing: "I have to judge" is another; for He had come to save the world, not to judge the world. [711] In saying, "I have many things to say of you and to judge," He speaks of the future judgment. For therefore did He ascend, that He may come to judge the living and the dead. No one will judge more justly than He who was unjustly judged. "Many things," said He, "have I to say of you and to judge; but He that sent me is true." See how the Son, His equal, gives glory to the Father. For He sets us an example, and says as it were in our hearts: O believer, if thou hearest my gospel, the Lord thy God saith to thee, when I, in the beginning God the Word with God, equal with the Father, coeternal with Him that begat, give glory to Him whose Son I am, how canst thou be proud before Him, whose servant thou art?

7. "I have many things," He said, "to say of you and to judge: but He that sent me is true;" as if He had said, Therefore I judge the truth, because, as the Son of the True One, I am the truth. The Father true, the Son the truth,--which do we account the greater? Let us reflect, if we can, which is the greater, the True One or the Truth. [712] Take some other instances. Is a pious man, or piety, the more comprehensive? Surely piety itself; for the pious is derived from piety, not piety from the pious. For piety may still exist, though he who was pious became impious. He has lost his piety, but has taken nothing from piety itself. What also of comely and comeliness? Comeliness is more than comely; for comeliness gives existence to the comely, not the comely to comeliness. And so of chaste and chastity. Chastity is clearly something more than chaste. For if chastity had no existence, one would have no ground to be chaste; but though one may refuse to be chaste, chastity remains entire. If then the term piety implies more than the term pious, comeliness more than comely, chastity than chaste, shall we say that the Truth is more than the True One? If we say so, we shall begin to say that the Son is greater than the Father. For the Lord Himself says most distinctly, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." [713] Therefore, if the Son is the truth, what is the Father but what the Truth Himself says, "He that sent me is true"? The Son is the truth, the Father true. I inquire which is the greater, but find equality. For the true Father is true not because He contained a part of that truth, but because He begat it entire.

8. I see I must speak more plainly. And, not to detain you long, let me treat only of this point to-day. When I have finished what, with God's help, I wish to say, my discourse shall close. I have said this, then, to enlist your attention. Every soul, as being a thing, is mutable; and although a great creature, yet a creature; though superior to the body, yet made. Every soul, then, since it is changeable--that is, sometimes believes, sometimes disbelieves; at one time wishes, at another time refuses; at one time is adulterous, at another chaste; now good, and again wicked,--is changeable. But God is that which is, and so has retained as His own peculiar name, "I am who am." [714] Such also is the Son, when He says, "If ye believe not that I am;" and thereto pertains also, "Who art thou? The Beginning" (ver. 25). God therefore is unchangeable, the soul changeable. When the soul receives from God the elements of its goodness it becomes good by participation, just as by participation thine eye seeth. For it sees not when the light is withdrawn, while so long as it shares in the light it sees. Since then by participation the soul is made good, if it changes and becomes bad, the goodness remains that made it good. For there is a goodness of which it partook when good; and when it has turned to evil, that goodness continues entire. If the soul fall away and become evil, there is no lessening of goodness; if it return and become good, that goodness is not enlarged. Thine eye participates in this light, and thou seest. Is it shut? Then thou hast not diminished the light. Is it open? Thou hast not increased the light. By this illustration, brethren, understand that if the soul is pious, there is piety with God, of which the soul is partaker; if the soul is chaste, there is chastity with God, of which it partakes; if it is good, there is goodness with God, of which it partakes; if it is true, there is truth with God, of which the soul is partaker. Whereof if the soul is no partaker, every man is false; [715] and if every man may be false, no man is true of himself. [716] But the true Father is true of Himself, [717] for He begat the Truth. It is one thing to say, That man is true, for he has taken in the truth: it is another, God is true, for He begat the Truth. See then how God is true,--not by participating in, but by generating the Truth. I see you have understood me, and am glad. Let this suffice you to-day. The rest, according as He gives it, we shall expound when the Lord pleases.

Footnotes

[706] Chap. viii. 25, 24. [707] Ps. cxlvii. 5 (marg.). [708] Acts ii. and iv. 32, etc. [709] Rom. v. 5. [710] Ver. 15. [711] Chap. xii. 47. [712] Verax an veritas. [713] John xiv. 6. [714] Ex. iii. 14. [715] Ps. cxvi. 11. [716] De suo. [717] De suo.


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