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. James Innes, of Panbride, near Dundee, Scotland

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

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Tractate XL.

Chapter VIII. 28-32

1. Of the holy Gospel according to John, which you see in our hand, your Charity has already heard much, whereon by God's grace we have discoursed according to our ability, pressing on your notice that this evangelist, specially, has chosen to speak of the Lord's divinity, wherein He is equal with the Father and the only Son of God; and on that account he has been compared to the eagle, because no other bird is understood to take a loftier flight. Accordingly, to what follows in order, as the Lord enables us to treat of it, listen with all your attention.

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2. We have spoken to you on the preceding passage, suggesting how the Father may be understood as True, and the Son as the Truth. But when the Lord Jesus said, "He that sent me is true," the Jews understood not that He spake to them of the Father. And He said to them, as you have just heard in the reading, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am, and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things." What means this? For it looks as if all He said was, that they would know who He was after His passion. Without doubt, therefore, He saw that some there, whom He Himself knew, whom with the rest of His saints He Himself in His foreknowledge had chosen before the foundation of the world, would believe after His passion. These are the very persons whom we are constantly commending, and with much entreaty setting forth for your imitation. For on the sending down of the Holy Spirit after the Lord's passion, and resurrection, and ascension, when miracles were being done in the name of Him whom, as if dead, the persecuting Jews had despised, they were pricked in their hearts; and they who in their rage slew Him were changed and believed; and they who in their rage shed His blood, now in the spirit of faith drank it; to wit, those three thousand, and those five thousand Jews [718] whom now He saw there, when He said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [He]." It was as if He had said, I let your recognition lie over till I have completed my passion: in your own order ye shall know who I am. Not that all who heard Him were only then to believe, that is, after the Lord's passion; for a little after it is said, "As He spake these words, many believed on Him;" and the Son of man was not yet lifted up. But the lifting up He is speaking of is that of His passion, not of His glorification; of the cross, not of heaven; for He was exalted there also when He hung on the tree. But that exaltation was His humiliation; for then He became obedient even to the death of the cross. [719] This required to be accomplished by the hands of those who should afterwards believe, and to whom He says, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [He]." And why so, but that no one might despair, however guilty his conscience, when he saw those forgiven their homicide who had slain the Christ?

3. The Lord then, recognizing such in that crowd, said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [He]." You know already what "I am" signifies; and we must not be continually repeating, lest so great a subject beget distaste. Recall that, "I am who am," and "He who is hath sent me," [720] and you will recognize the meaning of the words, "Then shall ye know that I am." But both the Father is, and the Holy Spirit is. To the same is belongs the whole Trinity. But because the Lord spake as the Son, in order that, when He says, "Then shall ye know that I am," there might be no chance of entrance for the error of the Sabellians, that is, of the Patripassians,--an error which I have charged you not to hold, but to beware of,--the error, I mean, of those who have said, The Father and Son are one and the same; two names, but one reality;--to guard them against that error, when the Lord said, "Then shall ye know that I am," that He might not be understood as Himself the Father, He immediately added, "And I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things." Already was the Sabellian beginning to rejoice over the discovery of a ground for his error; but immediately on showing himself as it were in the shade, he was confounded by the light of the following sentence. Thou thoughtest that He was the Father, because He said, "I am." Hear now that He is the Son: "And I do nothing of myself." What means this, "I do nothing of myself"? Of myself I am not. For the Son is God, of [721] the Father; but the Father is God, yet not of the Son. The Son is God of God, and the Father is God, but not of God. The Son is light of light; and the Father is light, but not of light. The Son is, but there is [One] of whom He is; and the Father is, but there is none of whom He is.

4. Let not then, my brethren, His further words, "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things," be the occasion of any carnal thought stealing into your minds. For human weakness cannot think, but as it is accustomed to act and to hear. Do not then set before your eyes as it were two men, one the father, the other the son, and the father speaking to the son; as any one of you may do, when you say something to your son, admonishing and instructing him how to speak, to charge his memory with what you have told him, and, having done so, to express it in words, to enunciate distinctly, and convey to the ears of others what he has apprehended with his own. Think not thus, lest you be fabricating idols in your heart. The human shape, the outlines of human limbs, the form of human flesh, the outward senses, stature and motions of the body, the functions of the tongue, the distinctions of sounds,--think not of such as existing in that Trinity, save as they pertain to the servant-form, which the only-begotten Son assumed, when the Word was made flesh to dwell among us. [722] Thereof I forbid thee not, human weakness, to think according to thy knowledge: nay, rather I require thee. If the faith that is in thee be true, think of Christ as such; but as such of the Virgin Mary, not of God the Father. He was an infant, He grew as a man, He walked as a man, He hungered, He thirsted as a man, He slept as a man; at last He suffered as a man, hung on the tree, was slain and buried as a man. In the same form He rose again; in the same, before the eyes of His disciples, He ascended into heaven; in the same will He yet come to judgment. For angel lips have declared in the Gospel, "He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." [723] When then you think of the servant-form in Christ, think of a human likeness, if you have faith; but when you think, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," [724] away with all human fashioning from your heart. Banish from your thoughts everything bounded by corporeal limits, included in local measurement, or spread out in a mass, how great soever its size. Perish utterly such a figment from your heart. Think, if you can, on the beauty of wisdom, picture to yourself the beauty of righteousness. Has that a shape? a size? a color? It has none of these, and yet it is; for if it were not, it would neither be loved nor worthy of praise, nor be cherished in our heart and life as an object of honor and affection. But men here become wise; and whence would they so, had wisdom no existence? And further, O man, if thou canst not see thine own wisdom with the eyes of the flesh, nor think of it by the same mental imagery as thou canst of bodily things, wilt thou dare to thrust the shape of a human body on the wisdom of God?

5. What shall we say then, brethren? How spake the Father to the Son, seeing that the Son says, "As the Father taught me, I speak these things"? Did He speak to Him? When the Father taught the Son, did He use words, as you do when you teach your son? How could He use words to the Word! What words, many in number, could be used to the one Word? Did the Word of the Father approach His ears to the Father's mouth? Such things are carnal: banish them from your hearts. For this I say, if only you have understood my words, I certainly have spoken and my words have sounded, and by their sound have reached your ears, and through your sense of hearing have carried their meaning to your mind, if so be you have understood. Suppose that some person of Latin [725] speech has heard, but has only heard without understanding, what I have said. As regards the noise issuing from my mouth, he who has understood not has been a sharer therein just like yourselves. He has heard that sound; the same syllables have smote on his ears, but they have produced no effect on his mind. Why? Because he understood not. But if you have understood, whence comes your understanding? My words have sounded in the ear: have I kindled any light in the heart? Without doubt, if what I have said is true, and this truth you have not only heard, but also understood, two things have there been wrought (distinguish between them), hearing and intelligence. Hearing has been wrought by me, but by whom has understanding? I have spoken to the ear, that you might hear; who has spoken to your heart for understanding? Doubtless some one has also said something to your heart, that not only the noise of words might strike your ear, but something also of the truth might descend into your heart. Some one has spoken also to your heart, but you do not see him. If, brethren, you have understood, your heart also has been spoken to. Intelligence is the gift of God. And who, if you have understood, has spoken so in your heart, but He to whom the Psalm says, "Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments?" [726] For example, the bishop has spoken. What has he said, some one asks. You repeat what he has spoken, and add, He has said the truth. Then another, who has not understood, says, What has he said, or what is it you are praising? Both have heard me; I have spoken to both; but to one of them God has spoken. If we may compare small things with great (for what are we to Him?), something, I know not what, of an incorporeal and spiritual kind God works in us, which is neither sound to strike the ear, nor color to be discerned by the eyes, nor smell to enter the nostrils, nor taste to be judged of by the mouth, nor anything hard or soft to be sensible to the touch; yet something there is which it is easy to feel,--impossible to explain. If then God, as I was saying, speaks in our hearts without sound, how speaks He to His Son? Thus then, brethren, think thus as much as you can, if, as I have said, we may in some measure compare small things with great: think thus. In an incorporeal way the Father spoke to the Son, because in an incorporeal way the Father begot the Son. Nor did He so teach Him as if He had begotten Him untaught; but to have taught Him is the same as to have begotten Him full of knowledge; and this, "The Father hath taught me," is the same as, The Father hath begotten me already knowing. For if, as few understand, the nature of the Truth is simple, to be is to the Son the same as to know. From Him therefore He has knowledge, from whom He has being. [727] Not that from Him He had first being, and afterwards knowledge; but as in begetting He gave Him to be, so in begetting He gave Him to know; for, as was said, to the simple nature of the Truth, being is not one thing and knowing another, but one and the same.

6. Thus then He spoke to the Jews, and added, "And He that sent me is with me." He had already said this also before, but of this important point He is constantly reminding them,--"He sent me," and "He is with me." If then, O Lord, He is with Thee, not so much hath the One been sent by the other, but ye Both have come. And yet, while Both are together, One was sent, the Other was the sender; for incarnation is a sending, and the incarnation itself belongs only to the Son and not to the Father. The Father therefore sent the Son, but did not withdraw from the Son. For it was not that the Father was absent from the place to which He sent the Son. For where is not the Maker of all things? Where is He not, who said, "I fill heaven and earth"? [728] But perhaps the Father is everywhere, and the Son not so? Listen to the evangelist: "He was in this world, and the world was made by Him." [729] Therefore said He, "He that sent me," by whose power as Father I am incarnate, "is with me,--hath not left me." Why hath He not left me? "He hath not left me," He says, "alone; for I do always those things that please Him." That equality exists always; not from a certain beginning, and then onwards; but without beginning, without end. For Divine generation has no beginning in time, since time itself was created by the Only-begotten.

7. "As He spake these words, many believed on Him." Would that, while I speak also, many, who before this were otherwise disposed, understood and believed on Him! For perhaps there are some Arians in this large assembly. I dare not suspect that there are any Sabellians, who say that the Father Himself is one with the Son, seeing that heresy is too old, and has been gradually eviscerated. But that of the Arians seems still to have some movement about it, like that of a putrefying carcase, or certainly, at the most, like a man at the last gasp; and from this some still require deliverance, just as from that other many were delivered. This province, indeed, did not use to have such; but ever since the arrival of many foreigners, some of these have also found their way to our neighborhood. See then, while the Lord spoke these words, many Jews believed on Him. May I see also that, while I am speaking, Arians are believing, not on me, but with me!

8. "Then said the Lord to those Jews who believed on Him, If ye continue in my word." "Continue," I say, for you are now initiated and have begun to be there. "If ye continue," that is, in the faith which is now begun in you who believe, to what will you attain? See the nature of the beginning, and whither it leads. You have loved the foundation, give heed to the summit, and out of this low condition seek that other elevation. For faith has humility, but knowledge and immortality and eternity possess not lowliness, but loftiness; that is, upraising, all-sufficiency, eternal stability, full freedom from hostile assault, from fear of failure. That which has its beginning in faith is great, but is despised. In a building also the foundation is usually of little account with the unskilled. A large trench is made, and stones are thrown in every way and everywhere. No embellishment, no beauty are apparent there; just as also in the root of a tree there is no appearance of beauty. And yet all that delights you in the tree has sprung from the root. You look at the root and feel no delight: you look at the tree and admire it. Foolish man! what you admire has grown out of that which gave you no delight. The faith of believers seems a thing of little value,--you have no scales to weigh it. Hear then to what it attains, and see its greatness: as the Lord Himself says in another place, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed." [730] What is there of less account than that, yet what is there pervaded with greater energy? What more minute, yet what more fervidly expansive? And so "ye" also, He says, "if ye continue in my word," wherein ye have believed, to what will ye be brought? "ye shall be my disciples indeed." And what does that benefit us? "and ye shall know the truth."

9. What, brethren, does He promise believers? "And ye shall know the truth." Why so? Had they not come to such knowledge when the Lord was speaking? If they had not, how did they believe? They believed, not because they knew, but that they might come to know. For we believe in order that we may know, we do not know in order that we may believe. For what we shall yet know, neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered the heart of man. [731] For what is faith, but believing what you see not? Faith then is to believe what you see not; truth, to see what you have believed, as He Himself saith in a certain place. The Lord then walked on earth, first of all, for the creation of faith. He was man, He was made in a low condition. He was seen by all, but not by all was He known. By many was He rejected, by the multitude was He slain, by few was He mourned; and yet even by those who mourned Him, His true being was still unrecognized. All this is the beginning as it were of faith's lineaments and future up-building. As the Lord, referring thereto, saith in a certain place, "He that loveth me keepeth my commandments; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." [732] They certainly already saw the person to whom they were listening; and yet to them, if they loved Him, does He give it as a promise that they should see Him. So also here, "Ye shall know the truth." How so? Is that not the truth which Thou hast been speaking? The truth it is, but as yet it is only believed, not beheld. If you abide in that which is believed, you shall attain to that which is seen. Hence John himself, the holy evangelist, says in his epistle, "Dearly beloved, we are the sons of God; but it is not yet apparent what we shall be." We are so already, and something we shall be. What more shall we be than we are? Listen: "It is not yet apparent what we shall be: [but] we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him." How? "For we shall see Him as He is." [733] A great promise, but the reward of faith. You seek the reward; then let the work precede. If you believe, ask for the reward of faith; but if you believe not, with what face can you seek the reward of faith? "If" then "ye continue in my word, ye shall be my disciples indeed," that ye may behold the very truth as it is, not through sounding words, but in dazzling light, wherewith He shall satisfy [734] us: as we read in the psalm, "The light of Thy countenance is impressed upon us." [735] We are God's money: we have wandered away as coin from the treasury. The impression that was stamped upon us has been rubbed out by our wandering. He has come to refashion, for He it was that fashioned us at first; and He is Himself asking for His money, as Cæsar for his. Therefore He says, "Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's:" [736] to Cæsar his money, to God yourselves. And then shall the truth be reproduced in us.

10. What shall I say to your Charity? Oh that our hearts were in some measure aspiring after that ineffable glory! Oh that we were passing our pilgrimage in sighs, and loving not the world, and continually pushing onwards with pious minds to Him who hath called us! Longing is the very bosom of the heart. We shall attain, if with all our power we give way to our longing. Such in our behalf is the object of the divine Scriptures, of the assembling of the people, of the celebration of the sacra ments, of holy baptism, of singing God's praise, and of this our own exposition,--that this longing may not only be implanted and germinate, but also expand to such a measure of capacity as to be fit to take in what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man. But love with me. He who loves God is not much in love with money. And I have but touched on this infirmity, not venturing to say, He loves not money at all, but, He loves not money much; as if money were to be loved, but not in a great degree. Oh, were we loving God worthily, we should have no love at all for money! Money then will be thy means of pilgrimage, not the stimulant of lust; something to use for necessity, not to joy over as a means of delight. Love God, if He has wrought in thee somewhat of that which thou hearest and praisest. Use the world: let not the world hold thee captive. Thou art passing on the journey thou hast begun; thou hast come, again to depart, not to abide. Thou art passing on thy journey, and this life is but a wayside inn. Use money as the traveller at an inn uses table, cup, pitcher, and couch, with the purpose not of remaining, but of leaving them behind. If such you would be, you, who can stir up your hearts and hear me; if such you would be, you will attain to His promises. It is not too much for your strength, for mighty is the hand of Him who hath called you. He hath called you. Call upon Him, say to Him, Thou hast called us, we call upon Thee; see, we have heard Thee calling us, hear us calling upon Thee: lead us whither Thou hast promised; perfect what Thou hast begun; forsake not Thine own gifts; leave not Thine own field; let Thy tender shoots yet be gathered into Thy barn. Temptations abound in the world, but greater is He who made the world. Temptations abound, but he fails not whose hope reposes in Him in whom there is no deficiency.

11. I have been exhorting you, brethren, to this in such words, because the freedom of which our Lord Jesus Christ speaks belongs not to this present time. Look at what He added: "Ye shall be my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." What means that--"shall set you free"? It shall make you freemen. In a word, the carnal, and fleshly-minded Jews--not those who had believed, but those in the crowd who believed not--thought that an injury was done them, because He said to them, "The truth shall make you free." They were indignant at being designated as slaves. And slaves truly they were; and He explains to them what slavery it is, and what is that future freedom which is promised by Himself. But of this liberty and of that slavery it were too long to speak to-day.

Footnotes

[718] Acts ii. 37, 41; iv. 4. [719] Phil. ii. 8. [720] Ex. iii. 14. [721] De: so in what follows. [722] Chap. i. 14. [723] Acts i. 11. [724] Chap. i. 1. [725] "Latin" here, as used by Augustin, would require to be translated "English," to give the exact force of the illustration in an English version.--Tr. [726] Ps. cxix. 73. [727] Ut noverit--ut sit. [728] Jer. xxiii. 24. [729] Chap. i. 10. [730] Matt. xvii. 20. [731] Isa. lxiv. 4; 1 Cor. ii. 9. [732] Chap. xiv. 21. [733] 1 John iii. 2. [734] Or "impress;" satiaverit, or signaverit. [735] Ps. iv. 6: Aug., with Vulg,. translates W+uN+J+R+"E+oJ+H+S+oN+ passively and indic., instead of active and imperat., as Engl. Vers.--Tr. [736] Matt. xxii. 21. .


Tractate XLI.

Chapter VIII. 31-36

1. Of what follows of the previous lesson, and has been read publicly to us to-day from the holy Gospel, I then deferred speaking, because I had already said much, and of that liberty into which the grace of the Saviour calleth us it was needful to treat in no cursory or negligent way. Of this, by the Lord's help, we purpose speaking to you to-day. For those to whom the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking were Jews, in a large measure indeed His enemies, but also in some measure already become, and yet to be, His friends; for some He saw there, as we have already said, who should yet believe after His passion. Looking to these, He had said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [He]." [737] There also were those who, when He so spake, straightway believed. To them He spake what we have heard to-day: "Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on Him, If ye continue in my word, ye shall be my disciples indeed." By continuing ye shall be so; for as now ye are believers, by so continuing ye shall be beholders. Hence there follows, "And ye shall know the truth." The truth is unchangeable. The truth is bread, which refreshes our minds and fails not; changes the eater, and is not itself changed into the eater. The truth itself is the Word of God, God with God, the only-begotten Son. This Truth was for our sake clothed with flesh, that He might be born of the Virgin Mary, and the prophecy fulfilled, "Truth has sprung from the earth." [738] This Truth then, when speaking to the Jews, lay hid in the flesh. But He lay hid not in order to be denied, but to be deferred [in His manifestation]; to be deferred, in order to suffer in the flesh; and to suffer in the flesh, in order that flesh might be redeemed from sin. And so our Lord Jesus Christ, standing full in sight as regards the infirmity of flesh, but hid as regards the majesty of Godhead, said to those who had believed on Him, when He so spake, "If ye continue in my word, ye shall be my disciples indeed." For he that endureth to the end shall be saved. [739] "And ye shall know the truth," which now is hid from you, and speaks to you. "And the truth shall free you." This word, liberabit [shall free], the Lord hath taken from libertas [freedom]. For liberat [frees, delivers] is properly nothing else but liberum facit [makes free]. As salvat [he saves] is nothing else but salvum facit [he makes safe]; as he heals is nothing else but he makes whole; he enriches is nothing else but he makes rich; so liberat [he frees] is nothing else but liberum facit [he makes free]. This is clearer in the Greek word. [740] For in Latin usage we commonly say that a man is delivered (liberari), in regard not to liberty, but only to safety, just as one is said to be delivered from some infirmity. So is it said customarily, but not properly. But the Lord made such use of this word in saying, "And the truth shall make you free (liberabit)," that in the Greek tongue no one could doubt that He spake of freedom.

2. In short, the Jews also so understood and "answered Him;" not those who had already believed, but those in that crowd who were not yet believers. "They answered Him, We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be free?" But the Lord had not said, "Ye shall be free," but, "The truth shall make you free." That word, however, they, because, as I have said, it is clearly so in the Greek, understood as pointing only to freedom, and puffed themselves up as Abraham's seed, and said, "We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be free?" O inflated skin! such is not magnanimity, but windy swelling. For even as regards freedom in this life, how was that the truth when you said, "We were never in bondage to any man"? Was not Joseph sold? [741] Were not the holy prophets led into captivity? [742] And again, did not that very nation, when making bricks in Egypt, also serve hard rulers, not only in gold and silver, but also in clay? [743] If you were never in bondage to any man, ungrateful people, why is it that God is continually reminding you that He delivered you from the house of bondage? [744] Or mean you, perchance, that your fathers were in bondage, but you who speak were never in bondage to any man? How then were you now paying tribute to the Romans, out of which also you formed a trap for the Truth Himself, as if to ensnare Him, when you said, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar?" in order that, had He said, It is lawful, you might fasten on Him as one ill-disposed to the liberty of Abraham's seed; and if He said, It is not lawful, you might slander Him before the kings of the earth, as forbidding the payment of tribute to such? Deservedly were you defeated on producing the money, and compelled yourselves to concur in your own capture. For there it was told you, "Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's," after your own reply, that the money-piece bore the image of Cæsar. [745] For as Cæsar looks for his own image on the coin, so God looks for His in man. Thus, then, did He answer the Jews. I am moved, brethren, by the hollow pride of men, because even of that very freedom of theirs, which they understood carnally, they lied when they said, "We were never in bondage to any man."

3. But to the Lord's own answer, let us give better and more earnest heed, lest we ourselves be also found bondmen. For "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that every one who committeth sin is the servant of sin." He is the servant--would that it were of man, and not of sin! Who will not tremble at such words? The Lord our God grant us, that is, both you and me, that I may speak in fitting terms of this freedom to be sought, and of that bondage to be avoided. "Amen, amen [verily, verily], I say unto you." The Truth speaks: and in what sense does the Lord our God claim it as His to say, "Amen, amen, I say unto you"? His charge is weighty in so announcing it. In some sort, if lawful to be said, His form of swearing is, "Amen, amen, I say unto you." Amen in a way may be interpreted, [It is] true [truly, verily]; and yet it is not interpreted, though it might have been said, What is true [verily] I say unto you. Neither the Greek translator nor the Latin has dared to do so; for this word Amen is neither Greek nor Latin, but Hebrew. So it has remained without interpretation, to possess honor as the covering of something hidden; not in order to be disowned, but that it might not, as a thing laid bare to the eye, fall into disrepute. And yet it is not once, but twice uttered by the Lord, "Amen, amen, I say unto you." And now learn from the very doubling, how much was implied in the charge before us.

4. What, then, is the charge given? Verily, verily, I say unto you, saith the Truth who surely, though He had not said, Verily, I say, could not possibly lie. Yet [thereby] He impresses, inculcates His charge, arouses in a way the sleeping, makes them attentive, and would not be contemned. What does He say? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that every one who committeth sin is the servant of sin." Miserable slavery! Men frequently, when they suffer under wicked masters, demand to get themselves sold, not seeking to be without a master, but at all events to change him. What can the servant of sin do? To whom can he make his demand? To whom apply for redress? Of whom require himself to be sold? And then at times a man's slave, worn out by the commands of an unfeeling master, finds rest in flight. Whither can the servant of sin flee? Himself he carries with him wherever he flees. An evil conscience flees not from itself; it has no place to go to; it follows itself. Yea, he cannot withdraw from himself, for the sin he commits is within. He has committed sin to obtain some bodily pleasure. The pleasure passes away; the sin remains. What delighted is gone; the sting has remained behind. Evil bondage! Sometimes men flee to the Church, and we generally permit them, uninstructed as they are--men, wishing to be rid of their master, who are unwilling to be rid of their sins. But sometimes also those subjected to an unlawful and wicked yoke flee for refuge to the Church; for, though free-born men, they are retained in bondage: and an appeal is made to the bishop. And unless he care to put forth every effort to save free-birth from oppression, he is accounted unmerciful. Let us all flee to Christ, and appeal against sin to God as our deliverer. Let us seek to get ourselves sold, that we may be redeemed by His blood. For the Lord says, "Ye were sold for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money." [746] Without price, that is, of your own; because of mine. So saith the Lord; for He Himself has paid the price, not in money, but His own blood. Otherwise we had remained both bondmen and indigent.

5. From this bondage, then, we are set free by the Lord alone. He who had it not, Himself delivers us from it; for He alone came without sin in the flesh. For the little ones whom you see carried in their mothers' hands cannot yet walk, and are already in fetters; for they have received from Adam what they are loosened from by Christ. To them also, when baptized, pertains that grace which is promised by the Lord; for He only can deliver from sin who came without sin, and was made a sacrifice for sin. For you heard when the apostle was read: "We are ambassadors," he says, "for Christ, as though God were exhorting you by us; we beseech you in Christ's stead,"--that is, as if Christ were beseeching you, and for what?--"to be reconciled unto God." If the apostle exhorts and beseeches us to be reconciled unto God, then were we enemies to God. For no one is reconciled unless from a state of enmity. And we have become enemies not by nature, but by sin. From the same source are we the servants of sin, that we are the enemies of God. God has no enemies in a state of freedom. They must be slaves; and slaves will they remain unless delivered by Him to whom they wished by their sins to be enemies. Therefore, says be, "We beseech you in Christ's stead to be reconciled unto God." But how are we reconciled, save by the removal of that which separates between us and Himself? For He says by the prophet, "He hath not made the ear heavy that it should not hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God." [747] And so, then, we are not reconciled, unless that which is in the midst is taken away, and something else is put in its place. For there is a separating medium, and, on the other hand, there is a reconciling Mediator. The separating medium is sin, the reconciling Mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ: "For there is one God and Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." [748] To take then away the separating wall, which is sin, that Mediator has come, and the priest has Himself become the sacrifice. And because He was made a sacrifice for sin, offering Himself as a whole burnt-offering on the cross of His passion, the apostle, after saying, "We beseech you in Christ's stead to be reconciled unto God,"--as if we had said, How shall we be able to be reconciled?--goes on to say, "He hath made Him," that is, Christ Himself, "who knew no sin, [to be] sin for us, that we may be the righteousness of God in Him," [749] "Him," he says, Christ Himself our God, "who knew no sin." For He came in the flesh, that is, in the likeness of sinful flesh, [750] but not in sinful flesh, because He had no sin at all; and therefore became a true sacrifice for sin, because He Himself had no sin.

6. But perhaps, through some special perception of my own, I have said that sin is a sacrifice for sin. Let those who have read it be free to acknowledge it; let not those who have not read it be backward; let them not, I say, be backward to read, that they may be truthful in judging. For when God gave commandment about the offering of sacrifices for sin, in which sacrifices there was no expiation of sins, but the shadow of things to come, the self-same sacrifices, the self-same offerings, the self-same victims, the self-same animals, which were brought forward to be slain for sins, and in whose blood that [true] blood was prefigured, are themselves called sins [751] by the law; and that to such an extent that in certain passages it is written in these terms, that the priests, when about to sacrifice, were to lay their hands on the head of the sin, that is, on the head of the victim about to be sacrificed for sin. Such sin, then, that is, such a sacrifice for sin, was our Lord Jesus Christ made, "who knew no sin."

7. With efficacious merit does He deliver from this bondage of sin, who saith in the psalms: "I am become as a man without help, free among the dead." [752] For He only was free, because He had no sin. For He Himself says in the Gospel, "Behold, the prince of this world cometh," meaning the devil about to come in the persons of the persecuting Jews;--"behold," He says, "he cometh, and shall find nothing in me." [753] Not as he found some measure of sin in those whom he also slew as righteous; in me he shall find nothing. And just as if He were asked, If he shall find nothing in Thee, wherefore will he slay Thee? He further said, "But that all may know that I do the will of my Father, rise and let us go hence." I do not, He says, pay the penalty of death as a necessity of my sinfulness; but in the death I die, I do the will of my Father. And in this, I am doing rather than enduring it; for, were I unwilling, I should not have had the suffering to endure. You have Him saying in another place, "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again." [754] Here surely is one "free among the dead."

8. Since, then, every one that committeth sin is the servant of sin, listen to what is our hope of liberty. "And the servant," He says, "abideth not in the house for ever." The church is the house, the servant is the sinner. Many sinners enter the church. Accordingly He has not said, "The servant" is not in the house, but "abideth not in the house for ever." If, then, there shall be no servant there, who will be there? For "when" as the Scripture speaketh, "the righteous king sitteth on the throne, who will boast of having a clean heart? or who will boast that he is pure from his sin?" [755] He has greatly alarmed us, my brethren, by saying, "The servant abideth not in the house for ever." But He further adds, "But the Son abideth ever." Will Christ, then, be alone in His house? Will no people remain at His side? Whose head will He be, if there shall be no body? Or is the Son all this, both the head and the body? For it is not without cause that He has inspired both terror and hope: terror, in order that we should not love sin; and hope, that we should not be distrustful of the remission of sin. "Every one," He says, "that committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever." What hope, then, have we, who are not without sin? Listen to thy hope: "The Son abideth for ever. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed." Our hope is this, brethren, to be made free by the free One; and that, in setting us free, He may make us His servants. For we were the servants of lust; but being set free, we are made the servants of love. This also the apostle says: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." [756] Let not then the Christian say, I am free; I have been called unto liberty: I was a slave, but have been redeemed, and by my very redemption have been made free, I shall do what I please: no one may balk me of my will, if I am free. But if thou committest sin with such a will, thou art the servant of sin. Do not then abuse your liberty for freedom in sinning, but use it for the purpose of sinning not. For only if thy will is pious, will it be free. Thou wilt be free, if thou art a servant still,--free from sin, the servant of righteous ness: as the apostle says, "When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." [757] Let us be striving after the latter, and be doing the other.

9. The first stage of liberty is to be free from crimes. Give heed, my brethren, give heed, that I may not by any means mislead your understanding as to the nature of that liberty at present, and what it will be. Sift any one soever of the highest integrity in this life, and however worthy he may already be of the name of upright, yet is he not without sin. Listen to Saint John himself, the author of the Gospel before us, when he says in his epistle, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [758] He alone could say this who was "free among the dead:" of Him only could it be said, who knew no sin. It could be said only of Him, for He also "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." [759] He alone could say, "Behold, the prince of this world cometh, and shall find nothing in me." Sift any one else, who is accounted righteous, yet is he not in all respects without sin; not even such as was Job, to whom the Lord bore such testimony, that the devil was filled with envy, and demanded that he should be tempted, and was himself defeated in the temptation, to the end that Job might be proved. [760] And he was proved for this reason, not that the certainty of his carrying off the conqueror's wreath was unknown to God, but that he might become known as an object of imitation to others. And what says Job himself? "For who is clean? not even the infant whose life is but a day's span upon the earth." [761] But it is plain that many are called righteous without opposition, because the term is understood as meaning, free from crime; for in human affairs there is no just ground of complaint attaching to those who are free from criminal conduct. But crime is grievous sin, deserving in the highest measure to be denounced and condemned. Not, however, that God condemns certain sins, and justifies and praises certain others. He approves of none. He hates them all. As the physician dislikes the ailment of the ailing, and works by his healing measures to get the ailment removed and the ailing relieved; so God by his grace worketh in us, that sin may be consumed, and man made free. But when, you will be saying, is it consumed? If it is lessened, why is it not consumed? That is growing less in the life of those who are advancing onwards, which is consumed in the life of those who have attained to perfection.

10. The first stage of liberty, then, is to be free from crimes [sinful conduct]. And so the Apostle Paul, when he determined on the ordination of either elders or deacons, or whoever was to be ordained to the superintendence of the Church, says not, If any one is without sin; for had he said so, every one would be rejected as unfit, none would be ordained: but he says, "If any one is without crime" [E.V. blame], [762] such as, murder, adultery, any uncleanness of fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege, and others of that sort. When a man has begun to be free from these (and every Christian man ought to be so), he begins to raise his head to liberty; but that is liberty begun, not completed. Why, says some one, is it not completed liberty? Because, "I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind;" "for what I would," he says, "that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." [763] "The flesh," he says, "lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; so that ye do not the things that ye would." [764] In part liberty, in part bondage: not yet entire, not yet pure, not yet full liberty, because not yet eternity. For we have still infirmity in part, in part we have attained to liberty. Whatever has been our sin, was previously wiped out in baptism. But because all our iniquity has been blotted out, has there remained no infirmity? If there had not, we should be living here without sin. Yet who would venture to say so, but the proud, but the man unworthy of the Deliverer's mercy, but he who wishes to be self-deceived, and who is destitute of the truth? Hence, from the fact that some infirmity remains, I venture to say that, in what measure we serve God, we are free; in what measure we serve the law of sin, we are still in bondage. Hence says the apostle, what we began to say, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." [765] Here then it is, wherein we are free, wherein we delight in the law of God; for liberty has joy. For as long as it is from fear that thou doest what is right, God is no delight to thee. Find thy delight in Him, and thou art free. Fear not punishment, but love righteousness. Art thou not yet able to love righteousness? Fear even punishment, that thou mayest attain to the love of righteousness.

11. In the measure then spoken of above, he felt himself to be already free, and there fore said, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." I delight in the law, I delight in its requirements, I delight in righteousness itself. "But I see another law in my members"--this infirmity which remains--"warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members." On this side he feels his captivity, where righteousness has not been perfected; for where he delights in the law of God, he is not the captive but the friend of the law; and therefore free, because a friend. What then is to be done with that which so remains? What, but to look to Him who has said, "If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed"? Indeed he also who thus spake so looked to Him: "O wretched man that I am," he says, "who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Therefore "if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." And then he concluded thus: "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." [766] I myself, he says; for there are not two of us contrary to each other, coming from different origins; but "with the mind I myself serve the law of God, and with the flesh the law of sin," so long as languor struggles against salvation.

12. But if with the flesh thou servest the law of sin, do as the apostle himself says: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof: neither yield ye your members as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin." [767] He says not, Let it not be; but, "Let it not reign." So long as sin must be in thy members, let its reigning power at least be taken away, let not its demands be obeyed. Does anger rise? Yield not up thy tongue to anger for the purpose of evil-speaking; yield not up thy hand or foot to anger for the purpose of striking. That irrational anger would not rise, were there no sin in the members. But take away its ruling power; let it have no weapons wherewith to fight against thee. Then also it will learn not to rise, when it begins to find the lack of weapons. "Yield not your members as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin," else will ye be entirely captive, and there will be no room to say, "With the mind I serve the law of God." For if the mind keep possession of the weapons, the members are not roused to the service of raging sin. Let the inward ruler keep possession of the citadel, because it stands there under a greater ruler, and is certain of assistance. Let it bridle anger; let it restrain evil desire. There is within something that needs bridling, that needs restraining, that needs to be kept in command. And what did that righteous man wish, who with the mind was serving the law of God, but that there should be a complete deliverance from that which needed to be bridled? And this ought every one to be striving after who is aiming at perfection, that lust itself also, no longer receiving the obedience of the members, may every day be lessened in the advancing pilgrim. "To will," he says, "is present with me; but not so, how to perfect that which is good." [768] Has he said, To do good is not present with me? Had he said so, hope would be wanting. He does not say, To do is not present with me, but, "To perfect is not present with me." For what is the perfecting of good, but the elimination and end of evil? And what is the elimination of evil, but what the law says, "Thou shalt not lust [covet]"? [769] To lust not at all is the perfecting of good, because it is the eliminating of evil. This he said, "To perfect that which is good is not present with me," because his doing could not get the length of setting him free from lust. He labored only to bridle lust, to refuse consent to lust, and not to yield his members to its service. "To perfect," then, he says, "that which is good is not present with me." I cannot fulfill the commandment, "Thou shalt not lust." What then is needed? To fulfill this: "Go not after thy lusts." [770] Do this meanwhile so long as unlawful lusts are present in thy flesh; "Go not after thy lusts." Abide in the service of God, in the liberty of Christ. With the mind serve the law of thy God. Yield not thyself to thy lusts. By following them, thou addest to their strength. By giving them strength, how canst thou conquer, when on thine own strength thou art nourishing enemies against thyself?

13. What then is that full and perfect liberty in the Lord Jesus, who said, "If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed;" and when shall it be a full and perfect liberty? When enmities are no more; when "death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed." "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.--And when this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy struggle?" [771] What is this, "O death, where is thy struggle"? "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh," but only when the flesh of sin was in vigor. "O death, where is [now] thy struggle?" Now shall we live, no more shall we die, in Him who died for us and rose again: "that they," he says, "who live, should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again." [772] Let us be praying, as those who are wounded, for the physician; let us be carried into the inn to be healed. For it is He who promises salvation, who pitied the man left half-alive on the road by robbers. He poured in oil and wine, He healed the wounds, He put him on his beast, He took him to the inn, He commended him to the innkeeper's care. To what innkeeper? Perhaps to him who said, "We are ambassadors for Christ." He gave also two pence to pay for the healing of the wounded man. [773] And perhaps these are the two commandments, on which hang all the law and the prophets. [774] Therefore, brethren, is the Church also, wherein the wounded is healed meanwhile, the traveller's inn; but above the Church itself, lies the possessor's inheritance.

Footnotes

[737] Chap. viii. 28. [738] Ps. lxxxv. 11. [739] Matt. x. 22. [740] eleutherosei. [741] Gen. xxxvii. 28. [742] 2 Kings xxiv. (Ezek. i. 1, etc.--Tr). [743] Ex. i. 14. [744] Ex. xiii. 3; Deut. v. 6, etc. [745] Matt. xxii. 15-21. [746] Isa. lii. 3. [747] Isa. lix. 1, 2. [748] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [749] 2 Cor. v. 20, 21. [750] Rom. viii. 3. [751] That is, "sin-offerings." Peccata is here used to correspond to the Hebrew #ShoM% and X+aTjuo#T+, which signify, the one, both trespass and trespass-offering, and the other, sin and sin-offering; indicating the thoroughness of the substitutionary idea.--Tr. [752] Ps. lxxxviii. 4, 5. [753] Chap. xiv. 30, 31. [754] Chap. x. 18. [755] Prov. xx. 8, 9. [756] Gal. v. 13. [757] Rom. vi. 20, 22. [758] 1 John i. 8. [759] Heb. iv. 15. [760] Job i. 2. [761] Job xiv. 4, 5; according to a reading of the Septuagint. [762] 1 Tim. iii. 10; Tit. i. 6. [763] Rom. vii. 13, 15. [764] Gal. v. 17. [765] Rom. vii. 22. [766] Rom. vii. 23-25. [767] Rom. vi. 12, 13. [768] Rom. vii. 18. [769] Ex. xx. 17. [770] Ecclus. xviii. 30. [771] 1 Cor. xv. 26, 53-55. Struggle, "contentio." [772] 2 Cor. v. 15. [773] Luke x. 30-35. [774] Matt. xxii. 37-40. .


Tractate XLII.

Chapter VIII. 37-47

1. Our Lord, in the form of a servant, yet not a servant, but even in servant-form the Lord (for that form of flesh was indeed servant-like; but though He was "in the likeness of sinful flesh," [775] yet was He not sinful flesh) promised freedom to those who believed in Him. But the Jews, as if proudly glorying in their own freedom, refused with indignation to be made free, when they were the servants of sin. And therefore they said that they were free, because Abraham's seed. What answer, then, the Lord gave them to this, we have heard in the reading of this day's lesson. "I know," He said, "that ye are Abraham's children; but ye seek to kill me, because my word taketh no hold in you." I recognize you, He says; "Ye are the children of Abraham, but ye seek to kill me." I recognize the fleshly origin, not the believing heart. "Ye are the children of Abraham," but after the flesh. Therefore He says, "Ye seek to kill me, because my word taketh no hold in you." If my word were taken, it would take hold: if ye were taken, ye would be enclosed like fishes within the meshes of faith. What then means that--"taketh no hold in you"? It taketh not hold of your heart, because not received by your heart. For so is the word of God, and so it ought to be to believers, as a hook to the fish: it takes when it is taken. No injury is done to those who are taken; since they are taken for salvation, and not for destruction. Hence the Lord says to His disciples: "Come after me, and I shall make you fishers of men." [776] But such were not these; and yet they were the children of Abraham,--children of a man of God, unrighteous themselves. For they inherited the fleshly genus, but were become degenerate, by not imitating the faith of him whose children they were.

2. You have heard, indeed, the Lord saying, "I know that ye are Abraham's children." Hear what He says afterwards: "I speak that which I have seen with my Father; and ye do that which ye have seen with your father." He had already said, "I know that ye are Abraham's children." What is it, then, that they do? What He told them: "Ye seek to kill me." This they never saw with Abraham. But the Lord wishes God the Father to be understood when He says, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father." I have seen the truth: I speak the truth, because I am the Truth. For if the Lord speaks the truth which He has seen with the Father, He has seen Himself--He speaks Himself; because He Himself is the Truth of the Father, which He saw with the Father. For He is the Word--the Word which was with God. The evil, then, which these men do, and which the Lord chides and reprehends, where have they seen it? With their father. When we come to hear in what follows the still clearer statement who is their father, then shall we understand what kind of things they saw with such a father; for as yet He names not their father. A little above He referred to Abraham, but in regard to their fleshly origin, not their similarity of life. He is about to speak of that other father of theirs, who neither begat them nor created them to be men. But still they were his children in as far as they were evil, not in as far as they were men; in what they imitated him, and not as created by him.

3. "They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father;" as if, What hast thou to say against Abraham? or, If thou canst, dare to find fault with Abraham. Not that the Lord dared not find fault with Abraham; but Abraham was not one to be found fault with by the Lord, but rather approved. But these men seemed to challenge Him to say some evil of Abraham, and so to have some occasion for doing what they purposed. "Abraham is our father."

4. Let us hear how the Lord answered them, praising Abraham to their condemnation. "Jesus saith unto them, If ye are Abraham's children, do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham." See, he was praised, they were condemned. Abraham was no manslayer. I say not, He implies, I am Abraham's Lord; though did I say it, I would say the truth. For He said in another place, "Before Abraham was, I am" (ver. 58); and then they sought to stone Him. He said not so. But meanwhile, as you see me, as you look upon me, as alone you think of me, I am a man. Wherefore, then, wish you to kill a man who is telling you what he has heard of God, but because you are not the children of Abraham? And yet He said above, "I know that ye are Abraham's children." He does not deny their origin, but condemns their deeds. Their flesh was from him, but not their life.

5. But we, dearly beloved, do we come of Abraham's race, or was Abraham in any sense our father according to the flesh? The flesh of the Jews draws its origin from his flesh, not so the flesh of Christians. We have come of other nations, and yet, by imitating him, we have become the children of Abraham. Listen to the apostle: "To Abraham and to his seed were the promises made. He saith not," he adds, "And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." [777] We then have become Abraham's seed by the grace of God. It was not of Abraham's flesh that God made any co-heirs with him. He disinherited the former, He adopted the latter; and from that olive tree whose root is in the patriarchs, He cut off the proud natural branches, and engrafted the lowly wild olive. [778] And so, when the Jews came to John to be baptized, he broke out upon them, and addressed them, "O generation of vipers." Very greatly indeed did they boast of the loftiness of their origin, but he called them a generation of vipers,--not even of human beings, but of vipers. He saw the form of men, but detected the poison. Yet they had come to be changed, [779] because at all events to be baptized; and he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." [780] If ye bring not forth fruits meet for repentance, flatter not yourselves about such a lineage. God is able to condemn you, without defrauding Abraham of children. For He has a way to raise up children to Abraham. Those who imitate his faith shall be made his children. "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Such are we. In our parents we were stones, when we worshipped stones for our god. Of such stones God has created a family to Abraham.

6. Why, then, does this empty and vain bragging exalt itself? Let them cease boasting that they are the children of Abraham. They have heard what they ought to have heard: "If ye are the children of Abraham," prove it by your deeds, not by words. "Ye seek to kill me, a man;"--I say not, meanwhile, the Son of God; I say not God; I say not the Word, for the Word dies not. I say merely this that you see; for only what you see can you kill, and whom you see not can you offend. "This," then, "did not Abraham." "Ye do the works of your father." And as yet He says not who is that father of theirs.

7. And now what answer did they give Him? For they began somewhat to realize that the Lord was not speaking of carnal generation, but of their manner of life. And because it is the custom of the Scriptures, which they read, to call it, in a spiritual sense, fornication, when the soul is, as it were, prostituted by subjection to many false gods, they made this reply: "Then said they to Him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." Abraham has now lost his importance. For they were repulsed as they ought to have been by the truth-speaking mouth; because such was Abraham, whose deeds they failed to imitate, and yet gloried in his lineage. And they altered their reply, saying, I believe, with themselves, As often as we name Abraham, he goes on to say to us, Why do ye not imitate him in whose lineage ye glory? Such a man, so holy, just, and guileless, we cannot imitate. Let us call God our Father, and see what he will say to us.

8. Has falsehood indeed found something to say, and should not truth find its fitting reply? Let us hear what they say: let us hear what they hear. "We have one Father," they say, "even God. Then said Jesus unto them, If God were your Father, ye would [doubtless] love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me." Ye call God Father; recognize me, then, as at least a brother. At the same time He gave a stimulus to the hearts of the intelligent, by touching on that which He has a habit of saying, "I came not of myself: He sent me. I proceeded forth and came from God." Remember what we are wont to say: From Him He came; and from whom He came, with Him He came. The sending of Christ, therefore, is His incarnation. But as respects the proceeding forth of the Word from God, it is an eternal procession. Time holds not Him by whom time was created. Let no one be saying in his heart, Before the Word was, how did God exist? Never say, Before the Word of God was. God was never without the Word, because the Word is abiding, not transient; God, not a sound; by whom the heaven and earth were made, and which passed not away with those things that were made upon the earth. From Him, then, He proceeded forth as God, the equal, the only Son, the Word of the Father; and came to us, for the Word was made flesh that He might dwell among us. His coming indicates His humanity; His abiding, His divinity. It is His Godhead towards which, His humanity whereby, we make progress. Had He not become that whereby we might advance, we should never attain to Him who abideth ever.

9. "Why," He says, "do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word." And so they could not understand, because they could not hear. And whence could they not hear, but just because they refused to be set right by believing? And why so? "Ye are of your father the devil." How long do ye keep speaking of a father? How often will ye change your fathers,--at one time Abraham, at another God? Hear from the Son of God whose children ye be: "Ye are of your father the devil."

10. Here, now, we must beware of the heresy of the Manicheans, which affirms that there is a certain principle of evil, and a certain family of darkness with its princes, which had the presumption to fight against God; but that God, not to let His kingdom be subdued by the hostile family, despatched against them, as it were, His own offspring, princes of His own [kingdom of] light; and so subdued that race from which the devil derives his origin. From thence, also, they say our flesh derives its origin, and accordingly think the Lord said, "Ye are of your father the devil," because they were evil, as it were, by nature, deriving their origin from the opposing family of darkness. So they err, so their eyes are blinded, so they make themselves the family of darkness, by believing a falsehood against Him who created them. For every nature is good; but man's nature has been corrupted by an evil will. What God made cannot be evil, if man were not [a cause of] evil to himself. But surely the Creator is Creator, and the creature a creature [a thing created]. The creature cannot be put on a level with the Creator. Distinguish between Him who made, and that which He made. The bench cannot be put on a level with the mechanic, nor the pillar with its builder; and yet the mechanic, though he made the bench, did not himself create the wood. But the Lord our God, in His omnipotence and by the Word, made what He made. He had no materials out of which to make all that He made, and yet He made it. For they were made because He willed it, they were made because He said it; but the things made cannot be compared with the Maker. If thou seekest a proper subject of comparison, turn thy mind to the only-begotten Son. How, then, were the Jews the children of the devil? By imitation, not by birth. Listen to the usual language of the Holy Scriptures. The prophet says to those very Jews, "Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite." [781] The Amorites were not a nation that gave origin to the Jews. The Hittites also were themselves of a nation altogether different from the race of the Jews. But because the Amorites and Hittites were impious, and the Jews imitated their impieties, they found parents for themselves, not of whom they were born, but in whose damnation they should share, because following their customs. But perhaps you inquire, Whence is the devil himself? From the same source certainly as the other angels. But the other angels continued in their obedi ence. He, by disobedience and pride, fell as an angel, and became a devil.

11. But listen now to what the Lord says: "Ye," said He, "are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." This is how ye are his children, because such are your lusts, not because ye are born of him. What are his lusts? "He was a murderer from the beginning." This it is that explains, "the lusts of your father ye will do." "Ye seek to kill me, a man that telleth you the truth." He, too, had ill-will to man, and slew man. For the devil, in his ill-will to man, assuming the guise of a serpent, spoke to the woman, and from the woman instilled his poison into the man. They died by listening to the devil, [782] whom they would not have listened to had they but listened to the Lord; for man, having his place between Him who created and him who was fallen, ought to have obeyed the Creator, not the deceiver. Therefore "he was a murderer from the beginning." Look at the kind of murder, brethren. The devil is called a murderer not as armed with a sword, or girded with steel. He came to man, sowed his evil suggestions, and slew him. Think not, then, that thou art not a murderer when thou persuadest thy brother to evil. If thou persuadest thy brother to evil, thou slayest him. And to let thee know that thou slayest him, listen to the psalm: "The sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." [783] Ye, then, "will do the lusts of your father;" and so ye go madly after the flesh, because ye cannot go after the spirit. "He was a murderer from the beginning;" at least in the case of the first of mankind. From the very time that murder [manslaughter] could possibly be committed, he was a murderer [manslayer]. Only from the time that man was made could manslaughter be committed. For man could not be slain unless man was previously made. Therefore, "he was a murderer from the beginning." And whence a murderer? "And he stood [abode] not in the truth." Therefore he was in the truth, and fell by not standing in it. And why "stood he not in the truth"? "Because the truth is not in him;" not as in Christ. In such a way is the truth [in Him], that Christ Himself is the Truth. If, then, he had stood in the truth, he would have stood in Christ; but "he abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him."

12. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." [784] What is this? You have heard the words of the Gospel: you have received them with attention. Here now, I repeat them, that you may clearly understand the subject of your thoughts. The Lord said those things of the devil which ought to have been said of the devil by the Lord. That "he was a murderer from the beginning" is true, for he slew the first man; "and he abode not in the truth," for he lapsed from the truth. "When he speaketh a lie," to wit, the devil himself, "he speaketh of his own;" for he is a liar, and its [his] father." From these words some have thought that the devil has a father, and have inquired who was the father of the devil. Indeed this detestable error of the Manicheans has found means down to this present time wherewith to deceive the simple. For they are wont to say, Suppose that the devil was an angel, and fell; and with him sin began as you say; but, Who was his father? We, on the contrary, reply, Who of us ever said that the devil had a father? And they, on the other hand, rejoin, The Lord saith, and the Gospel declares, speaking of the devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and his father."

13. Hear and understand. I shall not send thee far away [for the meaning]; understand it from the words themselves. The Lord called the devil the father of falsehood. What is this? Hear what it is, only revolve the words themselves, and understand. It is not every one who tells a lie that is the father of his lie. For if thou hast got a lie from another, and uttered it, thou indeed hast lied in giving utterance to the lie; but thou art not the father of that lie, because thou hast got it from another. But the devil was a liar of himself. He begat his own falsehood; he heard it from no one. As God the Father begat as His Son the Truth, so the devil, having fallen, begat falsehood as his son. Hearing this, recall now and reflect upon the words of the Lord. Ye catholic minds, consider what ye have heard; attend to what He says. "He"--who? The devil--"was a murderer from the beginning." We admit it,--he slew Adam. "And he abode not in the truth." We admit it, for he lapsed from the truth. "Because there is no truth in him." True: by falling away from the truth he has lost its possession. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." He is both a liar, and the father of lies. For thou, it may be, art a liar, because thou utterest a lie; but thou art not its father. For if thou hast got what thou sayest from the devil, and hast believed the devil, thou art a liar, but not the father of the lie. But he, because he got not elsewhere the lie wherewith in serpent-form he slew man as if by poison, is the father of lies just as God is Father of truth. Withdraw, then, from the father of lies: make haste to the Father of truth; embrace the truth, that you may enter into liberty.

14. Those Jews, then, spake what they saw with their father. And what was that but falsehood? But the Lord saw with His Father what He should speak; and what was that, but Himself? What, but the Word of the Father? What, but the truth of the Father, eternal itself, and co-eternal with the Father? He, then, "was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar,"--and not only a liar, but also "the father of it;" that is, of the very lie that he speaks he is the father, for he himself begat his lie. "And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convicteth me of sin," as I convict both you and your father? "If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me," but just because ye are the children of the devil?

15. "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Here, again, it is not of their nature as men, but of their depravity, that you are to think. In this way they are of God, and yet not of God. By nature they are of God, in depravity they are not of God. Give heed, I pray you. In the gospel you have the remedy against the poisonous and impious errors of the heretics. For of these words also the Manicheans are accustomed to say, See, here there are two natures, [785] --the one good and the other bad; the Lord says it. What says the Lord? "Ye therefore hear me not, because ye are not of God." This is what the Lord says. What then, he rejoins, dost thou say to that? Hear what I say. They are both of God, and not of God. By nature they are of God: by depravity they are not of God; for the good nature which is of God sinned voluntarily by believing the persuasive words of the devil, and was corrupted; and so it is seeking a physician, because no longer in health. That is what I say. But thou thinkest it impossible that they should be of God, and yet not of God. Hear why it is not impossible. They are of God, and yet not of God, in the same way as they are the children of Abraham, and yet not the children of Abraham. Here you have it. It is not as you say. Hearken to the Lord Himself; it is He that said to them, "I know that ye are the children of Abraham." Could there be any lie with the Lord? Surely not. Then is it true what the Lord said? It is true. Then it is true that they were the children of Abraham? It is true. But listen to Himself denying it. He who said, "Ye are the children of Abraham," Himself denied that they were the children of Abraham. "If ye are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that telleth you the truth, which I have heard from God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the works of your father," that is, of the devil. How, then, were they both Abraham's children, and yet not his children? Both states He showed in them. They were both Abraham's children in their carnal origin, and not his children in the sin of following the persuasion of the devil. So, also, apply it to our Lord and God, that they were both of Him, and not of Him. How were they of Him? Because He it was that created the man of whom they were born. How were they of Him? Because He is the Architect of nature,--Himself the Creator of flesh and spirit. How, then, were they not of Him? Because they had made themselves depraved. They were no longer of Him, because, imitating the devil, they had become the children of the devil.

16. Therefore came the Lord God to man as a sinner. Thou hast heard the two names, both man and sinner. As man, he is of God; as a sinner, he is not of God. Let the moral evil [786] in man be distinguished from his nature. Let that nature be owned, to the praise of the Creator; let the evil be acknowledged, that the physician may be called in to its cure. When the Lord then said, "He that is of God heareth the words of God: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." He did not distinguish the value of different natures, or find, beyond their own soul and body, any nature in men which had not been vitiated by sin; but foreknowing those who should yet believe, them He called of God, because yet to be born again of God by the adoption of regeneration. To these apply the words "He that is of God heareth the words of God." But that which follows, "Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God," was said to those who were not only corrupted by sin (for this evil was common to all), but also foreknown as those who would not believe with the faith that alone could deliver them from the bondage of sin. On this account He foreknew that those to whom He so spake would continue in that which they derived from the devil, that is, in their sins, and would die in the impiety in which they resembled him; and would not come to the regeneration wherein they would be the children of God, that is, be born of the God by whom they were created as men. In accordance with this predestinating purpose did the Lord speak; and not that He had found any man amongst them who either by regeneration was already of God, or by nature was no longer of God.

Footnotes

[775] Rom. viii. 3. [776] Matt. iv. 19. [777] Gal. iii. 16, 29. [778] Rom. xi. 17. [779] In some editions, "to be cleansed." [780] Matt. iii. 7-9. [781] Ezek. xvi. 3. [782] Gen. iii. 1. [783] Ps. lvii. 4. [784] In this and the following paragraph, Augustin deals with the rendering given to these words by the Manichæans in support of their heresy, stated in section 10. The words "pater ejus" (ho pater autou), taken by themselves, might of course mean either "his father" or "the father of it" [i.e. of falsehood]. Both the Greek idiom and the context require the latter, but the Manichæans adopted the former, and made the passage run, "for he [i.e. the devil] is a liar, and [so is] his father." Hence the question they are made to put afterwards, "Who was his [the devil's] father?" and our author's exposition of the passage.--Tr. [785] That is, in man. Compare section 10.--Tr. [786] Vitium. .


Tractate XLIII.

Chapter VIII. 48-59

1. In that lesson of the holy Gospel which has been read to-day, from power we learn patience. For what are we as servants to the Lord, as sinners to the Just One, as creatures to the Creator? Howbeit, just as in what we are evil, we are so of ourselves; so in whatever respects we are good, we are so of Him, and through Him. And nothing does man so seek as he does power. He has great power in the Lord Christ; but let him first imitate His patience, that he may attain to power. Who of us would listen with patience if it were said to him, "Thou hast a devil"? as was said to Him, who was not only bringing men to salvation, but also subjecting devils to His authority.

2. For when the Jews had said, "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" of these two charges cast at Him, He denied the one, but not the other. For He answered and said, "I have not a devil." He did not say, I am not a Samaritan; and yet the two charges had been made. Although He returned not cursing with cursing, although He met not slander with slander, yet was it proper for Him to deny the one charge and not to deny the other. And not without a purpose, brethren. For Samaritan means keeper. [787] He knew that He was our keeper. For "He that keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth;" [788] and, "Except the Lord keep the city, they wake in vain who keep it." [789] He then is our Keeper who is our Creator. For did it belong to Him to redeem us, and would it not be His to preserve us? Finally, that you may know more fully the hidden reason [790] why He ought not to have denied that He was a Samaritan, call to mind that well-known parable, where a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who wounded him severely, and left him half dead on the road. A priest came along and took no notice of him. A Levite came up, and he also passed on his way. A certain Samaritan came up--He who is our Keeper. He went up to the wounded man. He exercised mercy, and did a neighbor's part to one whom He did not account an alien. [791] To this, then, He only replied that He had not a devil, but not that He was not a Samaritan.

3. And then after such an insult, this was all that He said of His own glory: "But I honor," said He, "my Father, and ye dishonor me." That is, I honor not myself, that ye may not think me arrogant. I have One to honor; and did ye recognize me, just as I honor the Father, so would ye also honor me. I do what I ought; ye do not what ye ought.

4. "And I," said He, "seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth." Whom does He wish to be understood but the Father? How, then, does He say in another place, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son," [792] while here He says, "I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth"? If, then, the Father judgeth, how is it that He judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son?

5. In order to solve this point, attend. It may be solved by [quoting] a similar mode of speaking. Thou hast it written, "God tempteth not any man;" [793] and again thou hast it written, "The Lord your God tempteth you, to know whether you love Him." [794] Just the point in dispute, you see. For how does God tempt not any man, and how does the Lord your God tempt you, to know whether ye love Him? It is also written, "There is no fear in love but perfect love casteth out fear;" [795] and in another place it is written, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever." [796] Here also is the point in dispute. For how does perfect love cast out fear, if the fear of the Lord, which is clean, endureth for ever?

6. We are to understand, then, that there are two kinds of temptation: one, that deceives; the other, that proves. As regards that which deceives, God tempteth not any man; as regards that which proves, the Lord your God tempteth you, that He may know whether ye love Him. But here again, also, there arises another question, how He tempteth that He may know, from whom, prior to the temptation, nothing can be hid. It is not that God is ignorant; but it is said, that He may know, that is, that He may make you to know. Such modes of speaking are found both in our ordinary conversation, and in writers of eloquence. Let me say a word on our style of conversation. We speak of a blind ditch, not because it has lost its eyes, but because by lying hid it makes us blind to its existence. One speaks of "bitter lupins," that is, "sour;" not that they themselves are bitter, but because they occasion bitterness to those who taste them. [797] And so there are also expressions of this sort in Scripture. Those who take the trouble to attain a knowledge of such points have no trouble in solving them. And so "the Lord your God tempts you, that He may know." What is this, "that He may know"? That He may make you to know "if you love Him." Job was unknown to himself, but he was not unknown to God. He led the tempter into [Job], and brought him to a knowledge of himself.

7. What then of the two fears? There is a servile fear, and there is a clean [chaste] fear: there is the fear of suffering punishment, there is another fear of losing righteousness. That fear of suffering punishment is slavish. What great thing is it to fear punishment? The vilest slave and the cruelest robber do so. It is no great thing to fear punishment, but great it is to love righteousness. Has he, then, who loves righteousness no fear? Certainly he has; not of incurring of punishment, but of losing righteousness. My brethren, assure yourselves of it, and draw your inference from that which you love. Some one of you is fond of money. Can I find any one, think you, who is not so? Yet from this very thing which he loves he may understand my meaning. He is afraid of loss: why is he so? Because he loves money. In the same measure that he loves money, is he afraid of losing it. So, then, some one is found to be a lover of righteousness, who at heart is much more afraid of its loss, who dreads more being stripped of his righteousness, than thou of thy money. This is the fear that is clean--this [the fear] that endureth for ever. It is not this that love makes away with, or casteth out, but rather embraces it, and keeps it with it, and possesses it as a companion. For we come to the Lord that we may see Him face to face. And there it is this pure fear that preserves us; for such a fear as that does not disturb, but reassure. The adulterous woman fears the coming of her husband, and the chaste one fears her husband's departure.

8. Therefore, as, according to one kind of temptation, "God tempteth not any man;" but according to another, "The Lord your God tempteth you;" and according to one kind of fear, "there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear;" but according to another, "the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever;"--so also, in this passage, according to one kind of judgment, "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;" and according to another, "I," said He, "seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth."

9. This point may also be solved from the word itself. Thou hast penal judgment spoken of in the Gospel: "He that believeth not is judged [798] already;" and in another place, "The hour is coming, when those who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." [799] You see how He has put judgment for condemnation and punishment. And yet if judgment were always to be taken for condemnation, should we ever have heard in the psalm, "Judge me, O God"? In the former place, judgment is used in the sense of inflicting pain; here, it is used in the sense of discernment. [800] How so? Just because so expounded by him who says, "Judge me, O God." For read, and see what follows. What is this "Judge me, O God," but just what he adds, "and discern [801] my cause against an unholy nation"? [802] Because then it was said, "Judge me, O God, and discern [the true merits of] my cause against an unholy nation;" similarly now said the Lord Christ, "I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth." How is there "one that seeketh and judgeth"? There is the Father, who discerns and distinguishes between my glory and yours. For ye glory in the spirit of this present world. Not so do I who say to the Father, "Father, glorify Thou me with that glory which I had with Thee before the world was." [803] What is "that glory"? One altogether different from human inflation. Thus doth the Father judge. And so to "judge" is to "discern." [804] And what does He discern? The glory of His Son from the glory of mere men; for to that end is it said, "God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." [805] For not because He became man is He now to be compared with us. We, as men, are sinful, He is sinless; we, as men, inherit from Adam both death and delinquency, He received from the Virgin mortal flesh, but no iniquity. In fine, neither because we wish it are we born, nor as long as we wish it do we live, nor in the way that we wish it do we die: but He, before He was born, chose of whom He should be born; at His birth He brought about the adoration of the Magi; He grew as an infant, and showed Himself God by His miracles, and surpassed man in His weakness. Lastly, He chose also the manner of His death, that is, to be hung on the cross, and to fasten the cross itself on the foreheads of believers, so that the Christian may say, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." [806] On the very cross, when He pleased, He made His body be taken down, and departed; in the very sepulchre, as long as it pleased Him, He lay; and, when He pleased, He arose as from a bed. So, then, brethren, in respect to His very form as a servant (for who can speak of that other form as it ought to be spoken of, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"?)--in respect, I say, to His very form as a servant, the difference is great between the glory of Christ and the glory of other men. Of that glory He spoke, when the devil-possessed heard Him say, "I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth."

10. But what sayest Thou, O Lord, of Thyself? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." Ye say, "Thou hast a devil." I call you to life: keep my word and ye shall not die. They heard, "He shall never see death who keepeth my word," and were angry, because already dead in that death from which they might have escaped. "Then said the Jews, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death." See how Scripture speaks: "He shall not see," that is, "taste of death." "He shall see death--he shall taste of death." Who seeth? Who tasteth? What eyes has a man to see with when he dies? When death at its coming shuts up those very eyes from seeing aught, how is it said, "he shall not see death"? With what palate, also, and with what jaws can death be tasted, that its savor may be discovered? When it taketh every sense away, what will remain in the palate? But here, "he will see," and "he will taste," are used for that which is really the case, he will know by experience.

11. Thus spake the Lord (it is scarcely sufficient to say), as one dying to dying men; for "to the Lord also belong the issues from death," [807] as saith the psalm. Seeing, then, He was both speaking to those destined to die, and speaking as one appointed to death Himself, what mean His words, "He who keepeth my saying shall never see death;" save that the Lord saw another death, from which He was come to deliver us--the second death, death eternal, the death of hell, [808] the death of damnation with the devil and his angels? This is real death; for that other is only a removal. What is that other death? The leaving of the body--the laying down of a heavy burden; provided another burden be not carried away, to drag the man headlong to hell. Of that real death then did the Lord say, "He who keepeth my saying shall never see death."

12. Let us not be frightened at that other death, but let us fear this one. But, what is very grievous, many, through a perverse fear of that other, have fallen into this. It has been said to some, Adore idols; for if you do it not, you shall be put to death: or, as Nebuchadnezzar said, If you do not, you shall be thrown into the furnace of flaming fire. Many feared and adored. Shrinking from death, they died. Through fear of the death which cannot be escaped, they fell into that which they might happily have escaped, had they not, unhappily, been afraid of that which is inevitable. As a man, thou art born--art destined to die. Whither wilt thou go to escape death? What wilt thou do to escape it? That thy Lord might comfort thee in thy necessary subjection to death, of His own good pleasure He condescended to die. When thou seest the Christ lying dead, art thou reluctant to die? Die then thou must; thou hast no means of escape. Be it today, be it tomorrow; it is to be--the debt must be paid. What, then, does a man gain by fearing, fleeing, hiding himself from discovery by his enemy? Does he get exemption from death? No, but that he may die a little later. He gets not security against his debt, but asks a respite. Put it off as long as you please, the thing so delayed will come at last. Let us fear that death which the three men feared when they said to the king, "God is able to deliver us even from that flame; and if not," etc. [809] There was there the fear of that death which the Lord now threatens, when they said, But also if He be not willing openly to deliver us, He can crown us with victory in secret. Whence also the Lord, when on the eve of appointing martyrs and becoming the head-martyr Himself, said, "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do." How "have they no more that they can do"? What if, after having slain one, they threw his body to be mangled by wild beasts, and torn to pieces by birds? Cruelty seems still to have something it can do. But to whom is it done? He has departed. The body is there, but without feeling. The tenement lies on the ground, the tenant is gone. And so "after that they have no more that they can do;" for they can do nothing to that which is without sensation. "But fear Him who hath power to destroy both body and soul, in hell fire." [810] Here is the death that He spake of when He said, "He that keepeth my saying shall never see death." Let us keep then, brethren, His own word in faith, as those who are yet to attain to sight, when the liberty we receive has reached its fullness.

13. But those men, indignant, yet dead, and predestinated to death eternal, answered with insults, and said, "Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets." But not in that death which the Lord meant to be understood was either Abraham dead or the prophets. For these were dead, and yet they live: those others were alive, and yet they had died. For, replying in a certain place to the Sadducees, when they stirred the question of the resurrection, the Lord Himself speaks thus: "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read how the Lord said to Moses from the bush, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." [811] If, then, they live, let us labor so to live, that after death we may be able to live with them. "Whom makest thou thyself," they add, that thou sayest, "he shall never see death who keepeth my saying," when thou knowest that both Abraham is dead and the prophets?

14. "Jesus answered, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing: it is my Father that glorifieth me." He said this on account of their saying, "Whom makest thou thyself?" For He refers His glory to the Father, of whom it is that He is God. From this expression also the Arians sometimes revile our faith, and say, See, the Father is greater; for at all events He glorifies the Son. Heretic, hast thou not read of the Son Himself also saying that He glorifies His Father? [812] If both He glorifieth the Son, and the Son glorifieth the Father, lay aside thy stubbornness, acknowledge the equality, correct thy perversity.

15. "It is," then, said He, "my Father that glorifieth me; of whom ye say, that He is your God: and ye have not known Him." See, my brethren, how He shows that God Himself is the Father of the Christ, who was announced also to the Jews. I say so for this reason, that now again there are certain heretics who say that the God revealed in the Old Testament is not the Father of Christ, but some prince or other, I know not what, of evil angels. There are Manicheans who say so; there are Marcionites who say so. There are also, perhaps, other heretics, whom it is either unnecessary to mention, or all of whom I cannot at present recall; yet there have not been wanting those who said this. Attend, then, that you may have something also to affirm against such. Christ the Lord calleth Him His Father whom they called their God, and did not know; for had they known [that God] Himself they would have received His Son. "But I," said He, "know Him." To those judging after the flesh He might have seemed from such words to be self-assuming, because He said, "I know Him." But see what follows: "If I should say that I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you." Let not, then, self-assumption be so guarded against as to cause the relinquishment of truth. "But I know Him, and keep His saying." The saying of the Father He was speaking as Son; and He Himself was the Word of the Father, that was speaking to men.

16. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw, and was glad." Abraham's seed, Abraham's Creator, bears a great testimony to Abraham. "Abraham rejoiced," He says, "to see my day." He did not fear, but "rejoiced to see it." For in him there was the love that casteth out fear. [813] He says not, rejoiced because he saw; but "rejoiced that he might see." Believing, at all events, he rejoiced in hope to see with the understanding. "And he saw." And what more could the Lord Jesus Christ say, or what more ought He to have said? "And he saw," He says, "and was glad." Who can unfold this joy, my brethren? If those rejoiced whose bodily eyes were opened by the Lord, what joy was his who saw with the eyes of his soul the light ineffable, the abiding Word, the brilliance that dazzles the minds of the pious, the unfailing Wisdom, God abiding with the Father, and at some time come in the flesh and yet not to withdraw from the bosom of the Father? All this did Abraham see. For in saying "my day," it may be uncertain of what He spake; whether the day of the Lord in time, when He should come the flesh, or that day of the Lord which knows not a dawn, and knows no decline. But for my part I doubt not that father Abraham knew it all. And where shall I find it out? Ought the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ to satisfy us? Let us suppose that we cannot find it out, for perhaps it is difficult to say in what sense it is clear that Abraham "rejoiced to see the day" of Christ, "and saw it, and was glad." And though we find it not, can the Truth have lied? Let us believe the Truth, and cherish no doubt of Abraham's merited rewards. [814] Yet listen to one passage that occurs to me meanwhile. When father Abraham sent his servant to seek a wife for his son Isaac, he bound him by this oath, to fulfill faithfully what he was commanded, and know also for himself what to do. For it was a great matter that was in hand when marriage was sought for Abraham's seed. But that the servant might apprehend what Abraham knew, that it was not offspring after the flesh he desired, nor anything of a carnal kind concerning his race that was referred to, he said to the servant whom he sent, "Put thy hand under my thigh, and swear by the God of heaven." [815] What connection has the God of heaven with Abraham's thigh? Already you understand the mystery: [816] by thigh is meant race. And what was that swearing, but the signifying that of Abraham's race would the God of heaven come in the flesh? Fools find fault with Abraham because he said, Put thy hand under my thigh. Those who find fault with Christ's flesh find fault with Abraham's conduct. But let us, brethren, if we acknowledge the flesh of Christ as worthy of veneration, despise not that thigh, but receive it as spoken of prophetically. For a prophet also was Abraham. Whose prophet? Of his own seed, and of his Lord. To his own seed he pointed in saying, "Put thy hand under my thigh." To his Lord he pointed in adding, "and swear by the God of heaven."

17. The angry Jews replied, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" And the Lord: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was made, I am." [817] Weigh the words, and get a knowledge of the mystery. "Before Abraham was made." Understand, that "was made" refers to human formation; but "am" to the Divine essence. "He was made," because Abraham was a creature. He did not say, Before Abraham was, I was; but, "Before Abraham was made," who was not made save by me, "I am." Nor did He say this, Before Abraham was made I was made; for "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;" [818] and "in the beginning was the Word." [819] "Before Abraham was made, I am." Recognize the Creator--distinguish the creature. He who spake was made the seed of Abraham; and that Abraham might be made, He Himself was before Abraham.

18. Hence, as if by the most open of all insults thrown at Abraham, they were now excited to greater bitterness. Of a certainty it seemed to them that Christ the Lord had uttered blasphemy in saying, "Before Abraham was made, I am." "Therefore took they up stones to cast at Him." To what could so great hardness have recourse, save to its like? "But Jesus" [acts] as man, as one in the form of a servant, as lowly, as about to suffer, about to die, about to redeem us with His blood; not as He who is--not as the Word in the beginning, and the Word with God. For when they took up stones to cast at Him, what great thing were it had they been instantly swallowed up in the gaping earth, and found the inhabitants of hell in place of stones? It were not a great thing to God; but better was it that patience should be commended than power exerted. Therefore "He hid Himself" from them, that He might not be stoned. As man, He fled from the stones; but woe to those from whose stony hearts God has fled?

Footnotes

[787] Samaria, Hebrew ShM+R+W+N%, literally, "a keep," from ShoM+aR+ to keep, to guard; hence, according to Augustin, "Samaritan," ShM+R+N+iJ+, a keeper, a guardian.--Tr. [788] Ps. cxxi. 4. [789] Ps. cxxvii. 1. [790] Mysterium. [791] Luke x. 30-37. [792] Chap. v. 22. [793] Jas. i. 13. [794] Deut. xiii. 3. [795] 1 John iv. 18. [796] Ps. xix. 9. [797] Virg. Georg. lib. i. 75: Tristes lupinos non quia ipsi sunt tristes, sed quia gustati contristant, hoc est, tristes faciunt. [798] Judicatus. John iii. 18. [799] Judicium. John v. 28, 29. [800] Discretionem, discerne,--legal terms, implying the judicial expiscation and discriminating of the real facts and merits of a case, by sifting the evidence and separating the true from the false. [801] See previous note. [802] Ps. xliii. 1. [803] John xvii. 5. [804] Discretionem, discerne,--legal terms, implying the judicial expiscation and discriminating of the real facts and merits of a case, by sifting the evidence and separating the true from the false. [805] Ps. xlv. 7. [806] Gal. vi. 14. [807] Ps. lxviii. 20. [808] Gehennarum. [809] Dan. iii. 16-18. [810] "In the gehenna of fire." Matt. x. 28, and Luke xii. 4, 5. [811] Matt. xxii. 31, 32; Ex. iii. 6. [812] Chap. xvii. 4. [813] 1 John iv. 18. [814] Meritis. [815] Gen. xxiv. 2-4. [816] Sacramentum. [817] Antequam Abraham fieret ego sum. Greek, "prin 'Abraam genesthai, ego eimi." [818] Gen. i. 1. [819] Chap. i. 1. .


Tractate XLIV.

Chapter IX

1. We have just read the long lesson of the man born blind, whom the Lord Jesus restored to the light; but were we to attempt handling the whole of it, and considering, according to our ability, each passage in a way proportionate to its worth, the day would be insufficient. Wherefore I ask and warn your Charity not to require any words of ours on those passages whose meaning is manifest; for it would be too protracted to linger at each. I proceed, therefore, to set forth briefly the mystery of this blind man's enlightenment. All, certainly, that was done by our Lord Jesus Christ, both works and words, are worthy of our astonishment and admiration: His works, because they are facts; His words, because they are signs. If we reflect, then, on what is signified by the deed here done, that blind man is the human race; for this blindness had place in the first man, through sin, from whom we all draw our origin, not only in respect of death, but also of unrighteousness. For if unbelief is blindness, and faith enlightenment, whom did Christ find a believer at His coming? seeing that the apostle, belonging himself to the family of the prophets, says: "And we also in times past were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." [820] If "children of wrath," then children of vengeance, children of punishment, children of hell. For how is it "by nature," save that through the first man sinning moral evil rooted itself in us as a nature? If evil has so taken root within us, every man is born mentally blind. For if he sees, he has no need of a guide. If he does need one to guide and enlighten him, then is he blind from his birth.

2. The Lord came: what did He do? He set forth a great mystery. "He spat on the ground," He made clay of His spittle; for the Word was made flesh. [821] "And He anointed the eyes of the blind man." The anointing had taken place, and yet he saw not. He sent him to the pool which is called Siloam. But it was the evangelist's concern to call our attention to the name of this pool; and he adds, "Which is interpreted, Sent." You understand now who it is that was sent; for had He not been sent, none of us would have been set free from iniquity. Accordingly he washed his eyes in that pool which is interpreted, Sent--he was baptized in Christ. If, therefore, when He baptized him in a manner in Himself, He then enlightened him; when He anointed Him, perhaps He made him a catechumen. [822] In many different ways indeed may the profound meaning of such a sacramental act be set forth and handled; but let this suffice your Charity. You have heard a great mystery. Ask a man, Are you a Christian? His answer to you is, I am not, if he is a pagan or a Jew. But if he says, I am; you inquire again of him, Are you a catechumen or a believer? If he reply, A catechumen; he has been anointed, but not yet washed. But how anointed? Inquire, and he will answer you. Inquire of him in whom he believes. In that very respect in which he is a catechumen he says, In Christ. See, I am speaking in a way both to the faithful and to catechumens. What have I said of the spittle and the clay? That the Word was made flesh. This even catechumens hear; but that to which they have been anointed is not all they need; let them hasten to the font if they are in search of enlightenment.

3. And now, because of certain points in the lesson before us, let us run over the words of the Lord, and of the whole lesson itself rather than make them a theme of discourse. "As He passed out, He saw a man who was blind;" blind, not from any cause whatever, but "from his birth." "And His disciples asked Him, Rabbi." You know that "Rabbi" is Master. They called Him Master, because they desired to learn. The question, at all events, they proposed to the Lord as a master, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents," that he was born blind. What is this that He has said? If no man is sinless, were the parents of this blind man without sin? Was he himself either born without original sin, or had he committed none in the course of his lifetime? Because his eyes were closed, had his lusts lost their wakefulness? How many evils are done by the blind? From what evil does an evil mind abstain, even though the eyes are closed? He could not see, but he knew how to think, and perchance to lust after something which his blindness hindered him from attaining, and so still in his heart to be judged by the searcher of hearts. If, then, both his parents had sin, and the man himself had sin, wherefore said the Lord, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents," but only in respect to the point on which he was questioned, "that he was born blind"? For his parents had sin; but not by reason of the sin itself did it come about that he was born blind. If, then, it was not through the parents' sin that he was born blind, why was he born blind? Listen to the Master as He teaches. He seeks one who believes, to give him understanding. He Himself tells us the reason why that man was born blind: "Neither hath this man sinned," He says, "nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

4. And then, what follows? "I must work the works of Him that sent me." See, here is that sent one [Siloam], wherein the blind man washed his face. And see what He said: "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day." Recall to thy mind the way in which He gives universal glory to Him of whom He is: [823] for that One has the Son who is of Him; He Himself has no One of whom He is. [824] But wherefore, Lord, saidst Thou, "While it is day"? Hearken why He did so. "The night cometh when no man can work." Not even Thou, Lord. Will that night have such power that not even Thou, whose work the night is, wilt be able to work therein? For I think, Lord Jesus, nay I do not think, but believe and hold it sure, that Thou wast there when God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." [825] For if He made it by the Word, He made it by Thee: and therefore it is said, "All things were made by Him; and without Him was nothing made." [826] "God divided between the light and the darkness: the light He called Day, and the darkness He called Night." [827]

5. What is that night wherein, when it comes, no one shall be able to work? Hear what the day is, and then thou wilt understand what the night is. But how shall we hear what the day is? Let Himself tell us: "As long as I am in this world, I am the light of the world." See, He Himself is the day. Let the blind man wash his eyes in the day, that he may behold the day. "As long," He says, "as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Then will it be night of a kind unknown to me, when Christ will no longer be there; and so no one will be able to work. An inquiry remains, my brethren; patiently listen to me as I inquire. With you I inquire: With you shall I find Him to whom my inquiry is addressed. We are agreed; for it is expressly and definitely stated that the Lord proclaimed Himself in this place as the day, that is, the light of the world. "As long," He says, "as I am in this world, I am the light of the world." Therefore He Himself works. But how long is He in this world? Are we to think, brethren, that He was here then, and is here no longer? If we think so, then already, after the Lord's ascension, did that fearful night begin, when no one can work. If that night began after the Lord's ascension, how was it that the apostles wrought so much? Was that the night when the Holy Spirit came, and, filling all who were in one place, gave them the power of speaking in the tongues of every nation? [828] Was it night when that lame man was made whole at the word of Peter, or rather, at the word of the Lord dwelling in Peter? [829] Was it night when, as the disciples were passing by, the sick were laid in couches, that they might be touched at least by their shadow as they passed? [830] Yet, when the Lord was here, there was no one made whole by His shadow as He passed; but He Himself had said to the disciples, "Greater things than these shall ye do." [831] Yes, the Lord had said, "Greater things than these shall ye do;" but let not flesh and blood exalt itself: let such hear Him also saying, "Without me ye can do nothing." [832]

6. What then? What shall we say of that night? When will it be, when no one shall be able to work? It will be that night of the wicked, that night of those to whom it shall be said in the end, "Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." But it is here called night, not flame, nor fire. Hearken, then, why it is also night. Of a certain servant He says, "Bind ye him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness." [833] Let man, then, work while he liveth, that he may not be overtaken by that night when no man can work. It is now that faith is working by love; and if now we are working, then this is the day--Christ is here. Hear His promise, and think Him not absent. It is Himself who hath said, "Lo, I am with you." How long? Let there be no anxiety in us who are alive; were it possible, with this very word we might place in perfect security the generations still to come. "Lo," He says," I am with you always, even to the end of the world." [834] That day, which is completed by the circuit of yonder sun, has but few hours; the day of Christ's presence extends even to the end of the world. But after the resurrection of the living and the dead, when He shall say to those placed at His right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom;" and to those at His left, "Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;" [835] then shall be the night when no man can work, but only get back what he has wrought before. There is a time for working, another for receiving; for the Lord shall render to every one according to his works. [836] While thou livest, be doing, if thou art to be doing at all; for then shall come that appalling night, to envelope the wicked in its folds. But even now every unbeliever, when he dies, is received within that night: there is no work to be done there. In that night was the rich man burning, and asking a drop of water from the beggar's finger; he mourned, agonized, confessed, but no relief was vouchsafed. He even endeavored to do good; for he said to Abraham, "Father Abraham, send Lazarus to my brethren, that he may tell them what is being done here, lest they also come into this place of torment." [837] Unhappy man! when thou wert living, then was the time for working: now thou art already in the night, in which no man can work.

7. "When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He spread the clay upon his eyes, and said unto him, Go and wash in the pool of Siloam (which is, by interpretation, Sent). He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." As these words are clear, we may pass them over.

8. "The neighbors therefore, and those who saw him previously, for he was a beggar, said, Is not this he who sat and begged? Some said, It is he: others, No; but he is like him." The opening of his eyes had altered his countenance. "He said, I am he." His voice utters its gratitude, that it might not be condemned as ungrateful. "Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered, The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and saw." See, he is become the herald of grace; see, he preaches the gospel; endowed with sight, he becomes a confessor. That blind man makes confession, and the heart of the wicked was troubled; for they had not in their heart what he had now in his countenance. "They said to him, Where is he who hath opened thine eyes? He said, I know not." In these words the man's own soul was like that of one only as yet anointed, but not yet seeing. Let us so put it, brethren, as if he had that anointing in his soul. He preaches, and knows not the Being whom he preaches.

9. "They brought to the Pharisees him who had been blind. And it was the Sabbath when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked how he had received his sight. And he said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees;" not all, but some; for some were already anointed. What then said those who neither saw nor were anointed? "This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath." He it was rather who kept it, who was without sin. For this is the spiritual Sabbath, to have no sin. In fact, brethren, it is of this that God admonishes us, when He commends the Sabbath to our notice: "Thou shalt do no servile work." [838] These are God's words when commending the Sabbath, "Thou shalt do no servile work." Now ask the former lessons, what is meant by servile work; [839] and listen to the Lord: "Every one that committeth sin is the servant of sin." [840] But these men, neither seeing, as I said, nor anointed, kept the Sabbath carnally, and profaned it spiritually. "Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?" These were the anointed ones. "And there was a division among them." The day had divided between the light and the darkness. "They say then unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him who hath opened thine eyes?" What is thy feeling about him? what is thine opinion? what is thy judgment? They sought how to revile the man, that he might be cast out of the synagogue, but be found by Christ. But he steadfastly expressed what he felt. For he said, "That he is a prophet." As yet, indeed, anointed only in heart, he does not thus far confess the Son of God, and yet he speaks not untruthfully. For the Lord saith of Himself, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country." [841]

10. "Therefore the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, till they called the parents of him that received his sight;" that is, who had been blind, and had come to the possession of sight. "And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them, and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but how he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not. And they said, Ask himself; he is of age, let him speak of himself." He is indeed our son, and we might justly be compelled to answer for him as an infant, because then he could not speak for himself: from of old he has had power of speech, only now he sees: we have been acquainted with him as blind from his birth, we know him as having speech from of old, only now do we see him endowed with sight: ask himself, that you may be instructed; why seek to calumniate us? "These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had conspired already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." It was no longer a bad thing to be put out of the synagogue. They cast out, but Christ received. "Therefore said his parents, He is of age, ask himself."

11. "Then again called they the man who had been blind, and said unto him, Give God the glory." What is that, "Give God the glory"? Deny what thou hast received. Such conduct is manifestly not to give God the glory, but rather to blaspheme Him. "Give God," they say, "the glory: we know that this man is a sinner. Then said he, If he is a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said they to him, What did he to thee, how opened he thine eyes?" And he, indignant now at the hardness of the Jews, and as one brought from a state of blindness to sight, unable to endure the blind, "answered them, I have told you already, and ye have heard: wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also become his disciples?" What means, "Will ye also," but that I am one already? "Will ye also be so?" Now I see, but see not askance.

12. "They cursed him, and said, Thou art his disciple." Such a malediction be upon us, and upon our children! For a malediction it is, if thou layest open their heart, not if thou ponderest the words. "But we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." Would ye had known that "God spake to Moses!" ye would have also known that God preached by Moses. For ye have the Lord saying, "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have also believed me; for he wrote of me." [842] Is it thus ye follow the servant, and turn your back against the Lord? But not even the servant do ye follow; for by him ye would be guided to the Lord.

13. "The man answered and said unto them, Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man is a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth." He speaks still as one only anointed. For God heareth even sinners. For if God heard not sinners, in vain would the publican, casting his eyes on the ground, and smiting on his breast, have said, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." And that confession merited justification, as this blind man enlightenment. "Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." With frankness, constancy, and truthfulness [he spoke]. For these things that were done by the Lord, by whom were they done but by God? Or when would such things be done by disciples, were not the Lord dwelling in them?

14. "They answered and said unto him, Thou wast wholly born in sins." What means this "wholly"? Even to blindness of the eyes. But He who has opened his eyes, also saves him wholly: He will grant a resurrection at His right hand, who gave enlight enment to his countenance. "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out." They had made him their master; many questions had they asked for their own instruction, and they ungratefully cast forth their teacher.

15. But, as I have already said before, brethren, when they expel, the Lord receiveth; for the rather that he was expelled, was he made a Christian. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" Now He washes the face of his heart. "He answered and said," as one still only anointed, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee." The One is He that is sent; the other is one washing his face in Siloam, which is interpreted, Sent. And now at last, with the face of his heart washed, and a conscience purified, acknowledging Him not only as the son of man, which he had believed before, but now as the Son of God, who had assumed our flesh, "he said, Lord, I believe." It is but little to say, "I believe:" wouldst thou also see what he believes Him? "He fell down and worshipped Him."

16. "And Jesus said to him." Now is He, the day, discerning between the light and the darkness. "For judgment am I come into this world; that they who see not might see, and they who see might be made blind." What is this, Lord? A weighty subject of inquiry hast Thou laid on the weary; but revive our strength that we may be able to understand what Thou hast said. Thou art come "that they who see not may see:" rightly so, for Thou art the light: rightly so, for Thou art the day: rightly so, for Thou deliverest from darkness: this every soul accepts, every one understands. What is this that follows, "And those who see may be made blind?" Shall then, because Thou art come, those be made blind who saw? Hear what follows, and perhaps thou wilt understand.

17. By these words, then, were "some of the Pharisees" disturbed, "and said unto Him, Are we blind also?" Hear now what it is that moved them, "And they who see may be made blind." "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin;" while blindness itself is sin. "If ye were blind," that is, if ye considered yourselves blind, if ye called yourselves blind, ye also would have recourse to the physician: "if" then in this way "ye were blind, ye should have no sin;" for I am come to take away sin. "But now ye say, We see; [therefore] your sin remaineth." Wherefore? Because by saying, "We see:" ye seek not the physician, ye remain in your blindness. This, then, is that which a little above we did not understand, when He said, "I am come, that they who see not may see;" for what means this, "that they who see not may see"? They who acknowledge that they do not see, and seek the physician, that they may receive sight. And "they who see may be made blind:" what means this, "they who see may be made blind"? That they who think they see, and seek not the physician, may abide in their blindness. Such discerning therefore of one from another He called judgment, when He said, "For judgment I am come into this world," whereby He distinguishes the cause of those who believe and make confession from the proud, who think they see, and are therefore the more grievously blinded: just as the sinner, making confession, and seeking the physician, said to Him, "Judge me, O God, and discern my cause against the unholy nation," [843] --namely, those who say, "We see," and their sin remaineth. But it was not that judgment He now brought into the world, whereby in the end of the world He shall judge the living and the dead. For in respect to this He had said, "I judge no man;" [844] seeing that He came the first time, "not to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." [845]

Footnotes

[820] Eph. ii. 3. [821] Chap. i. 14. [822] The name given to one who was under instruction for baptism, and for entrance into the full privileges of church membership. [823] Or, "from whom He proceeds." The Son is of the Father, but the Father is of none. [824] Or, "from whom He proceeds." The Son is of the Father, but the Father is of none. [825] Gen. i. 3. [826] Chap. i. 3. [827] Gen. i. 4, 5. [828] Acts ii. 1, 6. [829] Acts iii. 6-8. [830] Acts v. 15. [831] Chap. xiv. 12. [832] Chap. xv. 5. [833] Matt. xxii. 13. [834] Matt. xxviii. 28. [835] Matt. xxv. 34, 41. [836] Matt. xvi. 27. [837] Luke xvi. 24-28. [838] Lev. xxiii. 8. [839] Tract. xx. 2. [840] Chap. viii. 34. [841] Matt. xiii. 57. [842] Chap. v. 46. [843] Ps. xliii. 1. [844] Chap. viii. 15. [845] Chap. iii. 17. .


Tractate XLV.

Chapter X. 1-10

1. Our Lord's discourse to the Jews began in connection with the man who was born blind and was restored to sight. Your Charity therefore ought to know and be advised that today's lesson is interwoven with that one. For when the Lord had said, "For judgment I am come into this world; that they who see not might see, and they who see might be made blind,"--which, on the occasion of its reading, we expounded according to our ability,--some of the Pharisees said, "Are we blind also?" To whom He replied, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; [therefore] your sin remaineth." [846] To these words He added what we have been hearing today when the lesson was read.

2. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." For they declared that they were not blind; yet could they see only by being the sheep of Christ. Whence claimed they possession of the light, who were acting as thieves against the day? Because, then, of their vain and proud and incurable arrogance, did the Lord Jesus subjoin these words, wherein He has given us also salutary lessons, if we lay them to heart. For there are many who, according to a custom of this life, are called good people,--good men, good women, innocent, and observers as it were of what is commanded in the law; paying respect to their parents, abstaining from adultery, doing no murder, committing no theft, giving no false witness against any one, and observing all else that the law requires--yet are not Christians; and for the most part ask boastfully, like these men, "Are we blind also?" But just because all these things that they do, and know not to what end they should have reference, they do to no purpose, the Lord has set forth in today's lesson the similitude of His own flock, and of the door that leads into the sheepfold. Pagans may say, then, We live well. If they enter not by the door, what good will that do them, whereof they boast? For to this end ought good living to benefit every one, that it may be given him to live for ever: for to whomsoever eternal life is not given, of what benefit is the living well? For they ought not to be spoken of as even living well, who either from blindness know not the end of a right life, or in their pride despise it. But no one has the true and certain hope of living always, unless he know the life, that it is Christ; and enter by the gate into the sheepfold.

3. Such, accordingly, for the most part seek to persuade men to live well, and yet not to be Christians. By another way they wish to climb up, to steal and to kill, not as the shepherd, to preserve and to save. And thus there have been certain philosophers, holding many subtle discussions about the virtues and the vices, dividing, defining, drawing out to their close the most acute processes of reasoning, filling books, brandishing their wisdom with rattling jaws; who would even dare to say to people, Follow us, keep to our sect, if you would live happily. But they had not entered by the door: they wished to destroy, to slay, and to murder.

4. What shall I say of such? Look, the Pharisees themselves were in the habit of reading, and in what they read, their voices re-echoed the Christ, they hoped He would come, and recognized Him not when present; they boasted, even they, of being amongst those who saw, that is, among the wise, and they disowned the Christ, and entered not in by the door. Therefore would such also, if they chanced to seduce any, seduce them to be slaughtered and murdered, not to be brought into liberty. Let us leave these also to themselves, and look at those who glory in the name of Christ Himself, and see whether even they perchance are entering in by the door.

5. For there are countless numbers who not only boast that they see, but would have it appear that they are enlightened by Christ; yet are they heretics. Have even they somehow entered by the gate? Surely not. Sabellius says, He who is the Son is Himself the Father; but if the Son, then is there no Father. He enters not by the door, who asserts that the Son is the Father. Arius says, The Father is one thing, the Son is another thing. He would say rightly if he said, Another person; but not another thing. [847] For when he says, Another thing, he contradicts Him who says in his hearing, "I and my Father are One." [848] Neither does he therefore enter by the door; for he preaches a Christ such as he fabricates for himself, not such as the truth declares Him. Thou hast the name, thou hast not the reality. Christ is the name of something; keep hold of the thing itself, if thou wouldst benefit by the name. Another, I know not from whence, says with Photinus, [849] Christ is mere man; He is not God. He enters not in by the door, for Christ is both man and God. But why need I make many references, and enumerate the many vanities of heretics? Keep hold of this, that Christ's sheepfold is the Catholic Church. Whoever would enter the sheepfold, let him enter by the door, let him preach the true Christ. Not only let him preach the true Christ, but seek Christ's glory, not his own; for many, by seeking their own glory, have scattered Christ's sheep, instead of gathering them. For Christ the Lord is a low gateway: he who enters by this gateway must humble himself, that he may be able to enter with head unharmed. But he that humbleth not, but exalteth himself, wishes to climb over the wall; and he that climbeth over the wall, is exalted only to fall.

6. Thus far, however, the Lord Jesus speaks in covert language; not as yet is He understood. He names the door, He names the sheepfold, He names the sheep: all this He sets forth, but does not yet explain. Let us read on then, for He is coming to those words, wherein He may think proper to give us some explanation of what He has said; from the explanation of which He will perhaps enable us to understand also what He has not explained. For He gives us what is plain, for food; what is obscure, for exercise. "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way." Woe to the wretch, for he is sure to fall! Let him then be humble, let him enter by the door: let him walk on the level ground, and he shall not stumble. "The same," He says, "is a thief and a robber." The sheep of another he desires to call his own sheep,--his own, that is, as carried off by stealth, for the purpose, not of saving, but of slaying them. Therefore is he a thief, because what is another's he calls his own; a robber, because what he has stolen he also kills. "But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep: to him the porter openeth." Concerning this porter we shall make inquiry, when we have heard of the Lord Himself what is the door and who is the shepherd. "And the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name." For He has their names written in the book of life. "He calleth his own sheep by name." Hence, says the apostle, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." [850] "And he leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger do they not follow, but do flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." These are veiled words, full of topics of inquiry, pregnant with sacramental signs. Let us follow then, and listen to the Master as He makes some opening into these obscurities; and perhaps by the opening He makes, He will cause us to enter.

7. "This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what He spake unto them." Nor we also, perhaps. What, then, is the difference between them and us, before even we can understand these words? This, that we on our part knock, that it may be opened unto us; while they, by disowning Christ, refused to enter for salvation, and preferred remaining outside to be destroyed. In as far, then, as we listen to these words with a pious mind, in as far as, before we understand them, we believe them to be true and divine, we stand at a great distance from these men. For when two persons are listening to the words of the gospel, the one impious, the other pious, and some of these are such as neither perhaps understands, the one says, It has said nothing; the other says, It has said the truth, and what it has said is good, but we do not understand it. This latter, because he believes, now knocks, that he may be worthy to have it opened up to him, if he continue knocking; but the other still hears the words, "If ye believe not, ye shall not understand." [851] Why do I draw your attention to this? Even for this reason, that when I have explained as I can these obscure words, or, because of their great abstruseness, I have either myself failed to arrive at an understanding of them, or wanted the faculty of explaining what I do understand, or every one has been so dull as not to follow me, even when I give the explanation, yet should he not despair of himself; but continue in faith, walk on in the way, and hear the apostle saying, "And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless whereto we have already attained, let us walk therein." [852]

8. Let us begin, then, with hearing His exposition of what we have heard Him propounding. "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep." See, He has opened the very door which was shut in His former description. He Himself is the door. We have come to know it; let us enter, or rejoice that we are already within. "All that ever came are thieves and robbers." What is this, Lord, "All that ever came"? How so hast Thou not come? But understand; I said, "All that ever came," meaning, of course, exclusive of myself. [853] Let us recollect then. Before His coming came the prophets: were they thieves and robbers? God forbid. They did not come apart from Him, for they came with Him. When about to come, He sent heralds, but retained possession of the hearts of His messengers. Do you wish to know that they came with Him, who is Himself ever existent? Certainly He assumed human flesh at the time appointed. But what means that "ever"? "In the beginning was the Word." [854] With Him, therefore, came those who came with the word of God. "I am," said He, "the way, and the truth, and the life." [855] If He is the truth, with Him came those who were truthful. As many, therefore, as were apart from Him, were "thieves and robbers," that is, had come to steal and to destroy.

9. "But the sheep did not hear them." This is a more important point, "the sheep did not hear them." Before the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He came in humility in the flesh, righteous men preceded, believing in the same way in Him who was to come, as we believe in Him who has come. Times vary, but not faith. For verbs themselves also vary with the tense, when they are variously declined. He is to come, has one sound; He has come, has another: there is a change in the sound between He is to come, and He has come: [856] yet the same faith unites both,--both those who believed that He would come, and those who have believed that He is come. At different times, indeed, but by the one doorway of faith, that is, by Christ, do we see that both have entered. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin, that He came in the flesh, suffered, rose again, ascended into heaven: all this, just as you hear verbs of the past tense, we believe to be already fulfilled. In that faith a partnership is also held with us by those fathers who believed that He would be born of the Virgin, would suffer, would rise again, would ascend into heaven; for to such the apostle pointed when he said, "But we having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." [857] The prophet said, "I believed, therefore have I spoken:" [858] the apostle says, "We also believe, and therefore speak." But to let you know that their faith is one, listen to him saying, "Having the same spirit of faith, we also believe." So also in another place, "For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, how 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, and did all drink the same spiritual drink." The Red Sea signifies baptism; Moses, their leader through the Red Sea, signifies Christ; the people, who passed through, signify believers; the death of the Egyptians signifies the abolition of sins. Under different signs there is the same faith. It is with different signs as with different words [verbs]; for verbs change their sounds through the tenses, and verbs are indeed nothing else than signs. For they are words because of what they signify: take away the meaning from a word, [859] and it becomes a senseless sound. All, therefore, have become signs. Was not the same faith theirs by whom these signs were employed, and by whom were foretold in prophecy the very things which we believe? Certainly it was: but they believed that they were yet to come, and we, that they have come. In like manner does he also say, "They all drank the same spiritual drink;" "the same spiritual," for it was not the same material [drink]. For what was it they drank? "For they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ." [860] See, then, how that while the faith remained, the signs were varied. There the rock was Christ; to us that is Christ which is placed on the altar of God. And they, as a great sacramental sign of the same Christ, drank the water flowing from the rock: what we drink is known to believers. If one's thoughts turn to the visible form, the thing is different; if to the meaning that addresses the understanding, they drank the same spiritual drink. As many, then, at that time as believed, whether Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Moses, or the other patriarchs or prophets who foretold of Christ, were sheep, and heard Christ. His voice, and not another's, did they hear. The Judge was present in the person of the Crier. For even when the judge speaks through the crier, the clerk [861] does not make it, The crier said; but the judge said. But others there are whom the sheep did not hear, in whom Christ's voice had no place,--wanderers, uttering falsehoods, prating inanities, fabricating vanities, misleading the miserable.

10. Why is it, then, that I have said, This is a more important point? What is there about it obscure and difficult to understand? Listen, I beseech you. See, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself came and preached. Much more surely was that the Shepherd's voice which was uttered by the very mouth of the Shepherd. For if the Shepherd's voice came through the prophets, how much more did the Shepherd's own tongue give utterance to the Shepherd's voice? Yet all did not hear Him. But what are we to think? Those who did hear, were they sheep? Lo? Judas heard, and was a wolf: he followed, but, clad in sheep-skin, he was laying snares for the Shepherd. Some, again, of those who crucified Christ did not hear, and yet were sheep; for such He saw in the crowd when He said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He." [862] Now, how is this question to be solved? They that are not sheep do hear, and they that are sheep do not hear. Some, who are wolves, follow the Shepherd's voice; and some, that are sheep, contradict it. Last of all, the sheep slay the Shepherd. The point is solved; for some one in reply says, But when they did not hear, as yet they were not sheep, they were then wolves: the voice, when it was heard, changed them, and out of wolves transformed them into sheep; and so, when they became sheep, they heard, and found the Shepherd, and followed Him. They built their hopes on the Shepherd's promises, because they obeyed His precepts.

11. That question has been solved in a way, and perhaps satisfies every one. But I bare still a subject of concern, and what concerns me I shall impart to you, that, in some sort inquiring together, I may through His revelation be found worthy with you to attain the solution. Hear, then, what it is that moves me. By the Prophet Ezekiel the Lord rebukes the shepherds, and among other things says of the sheep, "The wandering sheep have ye not recalled." [863] He both declares it a wanderer, and calls it a sheep. If, while wandering, it was a sheep, whose voice was it hearing to lead it astray? For doubtless it would not be straying were it hearing the shepherd's voice: but it strayed just because it heard another's voice; it heard the voice of the thief and the robber. Surely the sheep do not hear the voice of robbers. "Those that came," He said,--and we are to understand, apart from me,--that is, "those that came apart from me are thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them." Lord, if the sheep did not hear them, how can the sheep wander? If the sheep hear only Thee, and Thou art the truth, whoever heareth the truth cannot certainly fall into error. But they err, and are called sheep. For if, in the very midst of their wandering, they were not called sheep, it would not be said by Ezekiel, "The wandering sheep have ye not recalled." How is it at the same time a wanderer and a sheep? Has it heard the voice of another? Surely "the sheep did not hear them." Accordingly many are just now being gathered into Christ's fold, and from being heretics are becoming catholics. They are rescued from the thieves, and restored to the shepherds: and sometimes they murmur, and become wearied of Him that calls them back, and have no true knowledge of him that would murder them; nevertheless also, when, after a struggle, those have come who are sheep, they recognize the Shepherd's voice, and are glad they have come, and are ashamed of their wandering. When, then, they were glorying in that state of error as in the truth, and were certainly not hearing the Shepherd's voice, but were following another, were they sheep, or were they not? If they were sheep, how can it be the case that the sheep do not listen to aliens? If they were not sheep, wherefore the rebuke addressed to those to whom it is said, "The wandering sheep have ye not recalled"? In the case also of those already become catholic Christians, and believers of good promise, evils sometimes occur: they are seduced into error, and after their error are restored. When they were thus seduced, and were rebaptized, or after the companionship of the Lord's fold were turned back again into their former error, were they sheep, or were they not? Certainly they were catholics. If they were faithful catholics, they were sheep. If they were sheep, how was it that they could listen to the voice of a stranger when the Lord saith, "The sheep did not hear them"?

12. You hear, brethren, the great importance of the question. I say then, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." [864] He knoweth those who were foreknown, He knoweth those who were predestinated; because it is said of Him, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. If God be for us, who can be against us?" Add to this: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not with Him also freely given us all things?" But what "us"? Those who are foreknown, predestinated, justified, glorified; regarding whom there follows, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" [865] Therefore "the Lord knoweth them that are His;" they are the sheep. Such sometimes do not know themselves, but the Shepherd knoweth them, according to this predestination, this foreknowledge of God, according to the election of the sheep before the foundation of the world: for so saith also the apostle, "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world." [866] According, then, to this divine foreknowledge and predestination, how many sheep are outside, how many wolves within! and how many sheep are inside, how many wolves without! How many are now living in wantonness who will yet be chaste! how many are blaspheming Christ who will yet believe in Him! how many are giving themselves to drunkenness who will yet be sober! how many are preying on other people property who will yet freely give of their own! Nevertheless at present they are hearing the voice of another, they are following strangers. In like manner, how many are praising within who will yet blaspheme; are chaste who will yet be fornicators; are sober who will wallow hereafter in drink; are standing who will by and by fall! These are not the sheep. (For we speak of those who were predestinated,--of those whom the Lord knoweth that they are His.) And yet these, so long as they keep right, listen to the voice of Christ. Yea, these hear, the others do not; and yet, according to predestination, these are not sheep, while the others are.

13. There remains still the question, which I now think may meanwhile thus be solved. There is a voice of some kind,--there is, I say, a certain kind of voice of the Shepherd, in respect of which the sheep hear not strangers, and in respect of which those who are not sheep do not hear Christ. What a word is this! "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." [867] No one of His own is indifferent to such a voice, a stranger does not hear it: for this reason also does He announce it to the former, that he may abide perseveringly with Himself to the end; but by one who is wanting in such persevering continuance with Him, such a word remains unheard. One has come to Christ, and has heard word after word of one kind and another, all of them true, all of them salutary; and among all the rest is also this utterance, "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." He who has heard this is one of the sheep. But there was, perhaps, some one listening to it, who treated it with dislike, with coldness, and heard it as that of a stranger. If he was predestinated, he strayed for the time, but he was not lost for ever: he returns to hear what he has neglected, to do what he has heard. For if he is one of those who are predestinated, then both his very wandering and his future conversion have been foreknown by God: if he has strayed away, he will return to hear that voice of the Shepherd, and to follow Him who saith, "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." A good voice, brethren, it is; true and shepherd-like, the very voice of salvation in the tabernacles of the righteous. [868] For it is easy to hear Christ, easy to praise the gospel, easy to applaud the preacher: but to endure unto the end, is peculiar to the sheep who hear the Shepherd's voice. A temptation befalls thee, endure thou to the end, for the temptation will not endure to the end. And what is that end to which thou shalt endure? Even till thou reachest the end of thy pathway. For as long as thou hearest not Christ, He is thine adversary in the pathway, that is, in this mortal life. And what doth He say? "Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him." [869] Thou hast heard, hast believed, hast agreed. If thou hast been at enmity, agree. If thou hast got the opportunity of coming to an agreement, keep not up the quarrel longer. For thou knowest not when thy way will be ended, and it is known to Him. If thou art a sheep, and if thou endurest to the end, thou shalt be saved: and therefore it is that His own despise not that voice, and strangers hear it not. According to my ability, as He gave me the power, I have either explained to you or gone over with you a subject of great profundity. If any have failed fully to understand, let him retain his piety, and the truth will be revealed: and let not those who have understood vaunt themselves as swifter at the expense of the slower, lest in their vaunting they turn out of the track, and the slower more easily attain the goal. But let all of us be guided by Him to whom we say, "Lead me, O Lord, in Thy way, and I will walk in Thy truth." [870]

14. By this, then, which the Lord hath explained, that He Himself is the door, let us find entrance to what He has set forth, but not explained. And indeed who it is that is the Shepherd, although He hath not told us in the lesson we have read to-day, yet in that which follows He very plainly tells us: "I am the good Shepherd." And although He had not said so, whom else but Himself ought we to have understood in those words where He saith, "He that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To Him the porter openeth: and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice"? For who else calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them hence unto eternal life, but He who knoweth the names of those that are fore-ordained? Hence He said to His disciples, "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven;" [871] for from this it is that He calleth them by name. And who else putteth them forth, save He who putteth away their sins, that, freed from their grievous fetters, they may be able to follow Him? And who hath gone before them to the place whither they are to follow Him, but He who, rising from the dead, dieth no more; and death shall have no more dominion over Him; [872] and who, when He was manifest here in the flesh, said, "Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am"? [873] Hence it is that He saith, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." In this He clearly shows that not only the Shepherd, but the sheep also enter in by the door.

15. But what is this, "He shall go in and out, and find pasture"? To enter indeed into the Church by Christ the door, is eminently good; but to go out of the Church, as this same John the evangelist saith in his epistle, "They went out from us, but they were not of us," [874] is certainly otherwise than good. Such a going out could not then be commended by the good Shepherd, when He said, "And he shall go in and out, and find pasture." There is therefore not only some sort of entrance, but some outgoing also that is good, by the good door, which is Christ. But what is that praiseworthy and blessed outgoing? I might say, indeed, that we enter when we engage in some inward exercise of thought; and go out, when we take to some active work without: and since, as the apostle saith, Christ dwelleth in our hearts by faith, [875] to enter by Christ is to give ourselves to thought in accordance with that faith; but to go out by Christ is, in accordance also with that same faith, to take to outside works, that is to say, in the presence of others. Hence, also, we read in a psalm, "Man goeth forth to his work;" [876] and the Lord Himself saith, "Let your works shine before men." [877] But I am better pleased that the Truth Himself, like a good Shepherd, and therefore a good Teacher, hath in a certain measure reminded us how we ought to understand His words, "He shall go in and out, and find pasture," when He added in the sequel, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." For He seems to me to have meant, That they may have life in coming in, and have it more abundantly at their departure. For no one can pass out by the door--that is, by Christ--to that eternal life which shall be open to the sight, unless by the same door--that is, by the same Christ--he has entered His church, which is His fold, to the temporal life, which is lived in faith. Therefore, He saith, "I am come that they may have life," that is, faith, which worketh by love; [878] by which faith they enter the fold that they may live, for the just liveth by faith: [879] "and that they may have it more abundantly," who, enduring unto the end, pass out by this same door, that is, by the faith of Christ; for as true believers they die, and will have life more abundantly when they come whither the Shepherd hath preceded them, where they shall die no more. Although, therefore, there is no want of pasture even here in the fold,--for we may understand the words "and shall find pasture" as referring to both, that is, both to their going in and their going out,--yet there only will they find the true pasture. where they shall be filled who hunger and thirst after righteousness, [880] --such pasture as was found by him to whom it was said, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." [881] But how He Himself is the door, and Himself the Shepherd, so that He also may in a certain respect be understood as going in and out by Himself, and who is the porter, it would be too long to inquire to-day, and, according to the grace given us by Himself, to unfold in the way of dissertation.

Footnotes

[846] Chap. ix. 39-41. [847] Or, "substance:" Alius, non aliud. [848] Ver. 38, unum; lit. "one thing or substance." [849] Bishop of Sirmium, who published his heretical opinions about A.D. 343. [850] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [851] Isa. vii. 9, according to the Septuagint, which, however, can hardly be said here to give the meaning of the Hebrew text. Our English version gives a pretty correct translation of the latter.--Tr. [852] Phil. iii. 15, 16. [853] Præter me: besides, apart from, myself. These words are an explanation suggested by Augustin himself. The words, "pro emou," "before me," of the received text, which are undoubtedly genuine, were wanting in the version here used by Augustin, just as in the Vulgate. It is supposed that the authors of these versions had been tempted to omit them, because of the use made of them by some early heretics to throw discredit on the Old Testament Scriptures.--Tr. [854] Chap. i. 1. [855] Chap. xiv. 6. [856] Venturus est, et venit. [857] 2 Cor. iv. 13. [858] Ps. cxvi. 10. [859] Augustin seems here to use verbum sometimes in its grammatical, sometimes in its general, meaning.--Tr. [860] 1 Cor. x. 1-4. [861] Exceptor: the person employed to take down notes of the decisions, sentences, etc., in the public courts or assemblies.--Tr. [862] Chap. viii. 28. [863] Ezek. xxxiv. 4. [864] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [865] Rom. vii. 29-33. [866] Eph. i. 4. [867] Matt. x. 22. [868] Ps. cxviii. 15. [869] Matt. v. 25. [870] Ps. lxxxvi. 11. [871] Luke x. 20. [872] Rom. vi. 9. [873] Chap. xvii. 24. [874] 1 John ii. 19. [875] Eph. iii. 17. [876] Ps. civ. 23. [877] Matt. v. 16. [878] Gal. v. 6. [879] Rom. i. 17. [880] Matt. v. 6. [881] Luke xxiii. 43. .


Tractate XLVI.

Chapter X. 11-13

1. The Lord Jesus is speaking to His sheep--to those already so, and to those yet to become such--who were then present; for in the place where they were, there were those who were already His sheep, as well as those who were afterwards to become so: and He likewise shows to those then present and those to come, both to them and to us, and to as many also after us as shall yet be His sheep, who it is that had been sent to them. All, therefore, hear the voice of their Shepherd saying, "I am the good Shepherd." He would not add "good," were there not bad shepherds. But the bad shepherds are those who are thieves and robbers, or certainly hirelings at the best. For we ought to examine into, to distinguish, and to know, all the characters whom He has here depicted. The Lord has already unfolded two points, which He had previously set forth in a kind of covert form: we already know that He is Himself the door, and we know that He is Himself the Shepherd. Who the thieves and robbers are, was made clear in yesterday's lesson; and to-day we have heard of the hireling, as we have heard also of the wolf. Yesterday the porter was also introduced by name. Among the good, therefore, are the door, the doorkeeper, the shepherd, and the sheep: among the bad, the thieves and robbers, the hirelings, and the wolf.

2. We understand the Lord Christ as the door, and also as the Shepherd; but who is to be understood as the doorkeeper? For the former two, He has Himself explained: the doorkeeper He has left us to search out for ourselves. And what doth He say of the doorkeeper? "To him," He saith, "the porter [doorkeeper] [882] openeth." To whom doth he open? To the Shepherd. What doth he open to the Shepherd? The door. And who is also the door? The Shepherd Himself. Now, if Christ the Lord had not Himself explained, had not Himself said, "I am the Shepherd," and "I am the door," would any of us have ventured to say that Christ is Himself both the Shepherd and the door? For had He said, "I am the Shepherd," and had not said, "I am the door," we should be setting ourselves to inquire what was the door, and perhaps, mistaken in our views, be still standing before the door. His grace and mercy have revealed to us the Shepherd, by His calling Himself so; have revealed to us also the door, when declared Himself such; but He hath left us to search out the doorkeeper for ourselves. Whom, then, are we to call the doorkeeper? Whomsoever we fix upon, we must take care not to think of him as greater than the door itself; for in men's houses the doorkeeper is greater than the door. The doorkeeper is placed before the door, not the door before the doorkeeper; because the porter keepeth the door, not the door the porter. I dare not say that any one is greater than the door, for I have heard already what is the door: that is no longer unknown to me, I am not left to my own conjecture, and I have not got much room for mere human guess work: God hath said it, the Truth hath said it, and we cannot change what the Unchangeable hath uttered.

3. In respect, then, of the profound nature of this question, I shall tell you what I think: let each one make the choice that pleases him, but let him think of it reverently; as it is written, "Think of the Lord with goodness, and in simplicity of heart seek Him." [883] Perhaps we ought to understand the Lord Himself as the doorkeeper: for the shepherd and the door are in human respects as much different from each other as the doorkeeper and the door; and yet the Lord has called Himself both the Shepherd and the door. Why, then, may we not understand Him also as the doorkeeper? For if we look at His personal qualities, [884] the Lord Christ is neither a shepherd, in the way we are accustomed to know and to see shepherds; nor is He a door, for no artisan made Him: but if, because of some point of similarity, He is both the door and the Shepherd, I venture to say, He is also a sheep. True, the sheep is under the shepherd; yet He is both the Shepherd and a sheep. Where is He the Shepherd? Look, here thou hast it; read the Gospel: "I am the good Shepherd." Where is He a sheep? Ask the prophet: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter." [885] Ask the friend of the bridegroom: "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." [886] Moreover, I am going to say something of a still more wonderful kind, in accordance with these points of similarity. For both the lamb, and the sheep, and the shepherd are friendly with one another, but from the lions as their foes the sheep are protected by their shepherds: and yet of Christ, who is both sheep and Shepherd, we have it said, "The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed." [887] All this, brethren, understand in connection with points of similarity, not with personal qualities. It is a common thing to see the shepherds sitting on a rock, and there guarding the cattle committed to their care. Surely the shepherd is better than the rock that he sits upon; and yet Christ is both the Shepherd and the rock. All this by way of comparison. But if thou askest me for His peculiar personal quality: [888] "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [889] If thou askest me for the personal quality peculiarly His own: The only Son, from everlasting to everlasting begotten of the Father, the equal of Him that begat, the Maker of all things, unchangeable with the Father, unchanged by the assuming of human form, man by incarnation, the Son of man, and the Son of God. All this that I have said is not figure, but reality.

4. Therefore, let us not, brethren, be disturbed in understanding Him, in harmony with certain resemblances, as Himself the door, and also the doorkeeper. For what is the door? The way of entrance. Who is the doorkeeper? He who opens it. Who, then, is He that opens Himself, but He who unveils Himself to sight? See, when the Lord spoke at first of the door, we did not understand: so long as we did not understand, it was shut: He who opened it is Himself the doorkeeper. There is no need, then, of seeking any other meaning, no need; but perhaps there is the desire. If there is so, quit not the path, go not outside of the Trinity. If thou art in quest of some other impersonation of the doorkeeper, bethink thee of the Holy Spirit; for the Holy Spirit will not think it unmeet to be the doorkeeper, when the Son has thought it meet to be Himself the door. Look at the doorkeeper as perhaps the Holy Spirit: about Him the Lord saith to His disciples, "He shall guide you into all truth." [890] What is the door? Christ. What is Christ? The Truth. Who, then, openeth the door, but He who guideth into all truth?

5. But what are we to say of the hireling? He is not mentioned here among the good. "The good Shepherd," He says, "giveth His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the Shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep." The hireling does not here bear a good character, and yet in some respects is useful; nor would he be called an hireling, did he not receive hire from his employer. Who then is this hireling, that is both blameworthy and needful? And here, brethren, let the Lord Himself give us light, that we may know who the hirelings are, and be not hirelings ourselves. Who then is the hireling? There are some in office in the church, of whom the Apostle Paul saith, "Who seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's." What means that, "Who seek their own"? Who do not love Christ freely, who do not seek after God for His own sake; who are pursuing after temporal advantages, gaping for gain, coveting honors from men. When such things are loved by an overseer, and for such things God is served, whoever such an one may be, he is an hireling who cannot count himself among the children. For of such also the Lord saith: "Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward." [891] Listen to what the Apostle Paul says of St. Timothy: "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your circumstances; for I have no man like-minded, who will naturally [892] care for you. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." [893] The shepherd mourned in the midst of hirelings. He sought some one who sincerely loved the flock of Christ, and round about him, amongst those who were with him at that time, he found not one. Not that there was no one then in the Church of Christ but the Apostle Paul and Timothy, who had a brother's [894] concern for the flock; but it so happened at the time of his sending Timothy, that he had none else of his sons about him; only hirelings were with him, "who sought their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." And yet he himself, with a brother's anxiety for the flock, preferred sending his son, and remaining himself amongst hirelings. Hirelings are also found among ourselves, but the Lord alone distinguisheth them. He that searcheth the heart, distinguisheth them; and yet sometimes we know them ourselves. For it was not without a purpose that the Lord Himself said also of the wolves: "By their fruits ye shall know them." [895] Temptations put many to the question, and then their thoughts are made manifest; but many remain undiscovered. The Lord's fold must have as overseers, both those who are children and those who are hirelings. But the overseers, who are sons, are the shepherds. If they are shepherds, how is there but one Shepherd, save that all of them are members of the one Shepherd, to whom the sheep belong? For they are also members of Himself as the one sheep; because "as a sheep he was led to the slaughter."

6. But give heed to the fact that even the hirelings are needful. For many indeed in the Church are following after earthly profit, and yet preach Christ, and through them is heard the voice of Christ; and the sheep follow, not the hireling, but the Shepherd's voice speaking through the hireling. Hearken to the hirelings as pointed out by the Lord Himself: "The scribes," He saith, "and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: do what they say; but do not what they do." [896] What else said He but, Listen to the Shepherd's voice speaking through the hirelings? For sitting in Moses' seat, they teach the law of God; therefore God teacheth by them. But if they wish to teach their own things, hear them not, do them not. For certainly such seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's; but no hireling has dared to say to Christ's people, Seek your own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. For his own evil conduct he does not preach from the seat of Christ: he does injury by the evil that he does, not by the good that he says. Pluck the grapes, beware of the thorn. It is well I see that you have understood; but for the sake of those that are slower, I shall repeat these words with greater plainness. How said I, Pluck the bunch of grapes, beware of the thorn; when the Lord saith, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles"? That is quite true: and yet what I said is also true, Pluck the bunch of grapes, beware of the thorn. For sometimes the grape-cluster, springing from the root of the vine, finds its support in a common hedge; its branch, grows, becomes embedded among thorns, and the thorn bears other fruit than its own. For the thorn has not been produced from the vine, but has become the resting-place of its runner. Make thine inquiries only at the roots. Seek for the thorn-root, thou wilt find it apart from the vine: seek the origin of the grape, and from the root of the vine it will be found to have sprung. And so, Moses' seat was the vine; the morals of the Pharisees were the thorns. Sound doctrine cometh through the wicked, as the vine-branch in a hedge, a bunch of grapes among thorns. Gather carefully, so as in seeking the fruit not to tear thine hand; and while thou art to hear one speaking what is good, imitate him not when doing what is evil. "What they tell you, do,"--gather the grapes; "but what they do, do not,"--beware of the thorns. Even through hirelings listen to the voice of the Shepherd, but be not hirelings yourselves, seeing ye are members of the Shepherd. Yea, Paul himself, the holy apostle who said, "I have no one who hath a brother's concern about you; for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's," draws a distinction in another place between hirelings and sons; and see what he saith: "Some preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will: some of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; but some also preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds." These were hirelings who disliked the Apostle Paul. And why such dislike, but just because they were seeking after temporal things? But mark what he adds: "What then, notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached: and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." [897] Christ is the truth: let the truth be preached in pretense by hirelings, let it be preached in truth by the children: the children are waiting patiently for the eternal inheritance of the Father, the hirelings are longing for, and in a hurry to get, the temporal pay of their employer. For my part let me be shorn of the human glory, which I see such an object of envy to hirelings: and yet by the tongues both of hirelings and of children let the divine glory of Christ be published abroad, seeing that, "whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached."

7. We have seen who the hireling is also. Who, but the devil, is the wolf? And what was said of the hireling? "When he seeth the wolf coming, he fleeth: but the sheep are not his own, and he careth not for the sheep." Was the Apostle Paul such an one? Certainly not. Was Peter such an one? Far from it. Was such the character of the other apostles, save Judas, the son of perdition? Surely not. Were they shepherds then? Certainly they were. And how is there one Shepherd? I have already said they were shepherds, because members of the Shepherd. In that head they rejoiced, under that head they were in harmony together, with one spirit they lived in the bond of one body; and therefore belonged all of them to the one Shepherd. If, then, they were shepherds, and not hirelings, wherefore fled they when suffering persecution? Explain it to us, O Lord. In an epistle, I have seen Paul fleeing: he was let down by the wall in a basket, to escape the hands of his persecutor. [898] Had he, then, no care of the sheep, whom he thus abandoned at the approach of the wolf? Clearly he had, but he commended them by his prayers to the Shepherd who was sitting in heaven; and for their advantage he preserved himself by flight, as he says in a certain place, "To abide in the flesh is needful for you." [899] For all had heard from the Shepherd Himself, "If they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another." [900] May the Lord be pleased to explain to us this point! Lord, Thou saidst to those whom Thou didst certainly wish to be faithful shepherds, and whom Thou didst form into Thine own members, "If they persecute you, flee." Doest Thou, then, injustice to them, when Thou blamest the hirelings who flee when they see the wolf coming! We ask Thee to tell us what meaning lies hid in the depths of the question. Let us knock, and the keeper of the door, which is Christ, will be here to reveal Himself.

8. Who is the hireling that seeth the wolf coming, and fleeth? He that seeketh his own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. He is one that does not venture plainly to rebuke an offender. [901] Look, some one or other has sinned--grievously sinned; he ought to be rebuked, to be excommunicated: but once excommunicated, he will turn into an enemy, hatch plots, and do all the injury he can. At present, he who seeketh his own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's, in order not to lose what he follows after, the advantages of human friendship, and incur the annoyances of human enmity, keeps quiet and does not administer rebuke. See, the wolf has caught a sheep by the throat; the devil has enticed a believer into adultery: thou holdest thy peace--thou utterest no reproof. O hireling, thou hast seen the wolf coming and hast fled! Perhaps he answers and says: See, I am here; I have not fled. Thou hast fled, because thou hast been silent; thou hast been silent, because thou hast been afraid. The flight of the mind is fear. Thou stoodest with thy body, thou fleddest in thy spirit, which was not the conduct of him who said, "Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit." [902] For how did he flee in spirit, who, though absent in the flesh, yet in his letters reproved the fornicators? Our affections are the motions of our minds. Joy is expansion of the mind; sorrow, contraction of the mind; desire, a forward movement of the mind; and fear, the flight of the mind. For thou art expanded in mind when thou art glad; contracted in mind when thou art in trouble; thou movest forward in mind when thou hast an earnest desire; and thou fleest in mind when thou art afraid. This, then, is how the hireling is said to flee at the sight of the wolf. Why? "Because he careth not for the sheep." Why "careth he not for the sheep"? "Because he is an hireling." What is that, "he is an hireling"? He seeketh a temporal reward, and shall not dwell in the house for ever. There are still some things here to be inquired about and discussed with you, but it is not prudent to burden you. For we are ministering the Lord's food to our fellow-servants; we feed as sheep in the Lord's pastures, and are fed together. And just as we must not withhold what is needful, so our weak hearts are not to be overcharged with the abundance of provisions. Let it not then annoy your Charity that I do not take up to-day all that I think is still here to be discussed; but the same lesson will, in the Lord's name, be read over to us again on the preaching days, and be, with His help, more carefully considered.

Footnotes

[882] Ostiarius. [883] Wisdom i. 1. [884] Proprietates. [885] Isa. liii. 7. [886] Chap. i. 29. [887] Rev. v. 5. [888] Proprietatem. [889] Chap. i. 1. [890] Chap. xvi. 13. [891] Matt. vi. 5. [892] Germane, like a brother. [893] Phil. ii. 19-21. [894] Germane, like a brother. [895] Matt. vii. 16. [896] Matt. xxiii. 2, 3. [897] Phil. i. 15-18. [898] 2 Cor. xi. 33. [899] Phil. i. 24. [900] Matt. x. 23. [901] 1 Tim. v. 20. [902] Col. ii. 5. .


Tractate XLVII.

Chapter X. 14-21

1. Those of you who hear the word of our God, not only with willingness, but also with attention, doubtless remember our promise. Indeed the same gospel lesson has also been read to-day which was read last Lord's day; because, having lingered over certain closely related topics, we could not discuss all that we owed to your powers of understanding. Accordingly, what has been already said and discoursed about we do not inquire into to day, lest by continual repetitions we should be prevented from reaching what has still to be spoken. You know now in the Lord's name who is the good Shepherd, and in what way good shepherds are His members, and therefore the Shepherd is one. You know who is the hireling we have to bear with; who the wolf, and the thieves, and the robbers we have to beware of; who are the sheep, and what is the door whereby both sheep and shepherd enter: how we are to understand the doorkeeper. You know also that every one who entereth not by the door is a thief and a robber, and cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. All these sayings have, as I think, been sufficiently handled. To-day we ought to tell you, as far as the Lord enables us (for Jesus Christ our Saviour hath Himself told us that He is both the Shepherd and the door, and that the good Shepherd entereth in by the door), how it is that He entereth in by Himself. For if no one is a good shepherd but he that entereth by the door, and He Himself is preeminently the good Shepherd, and also Himself the door, I can understand it only in this way, that He entereth in by Himself to His sheep, and calleth them to follow Him, and they, going in and out, find pasture, which is to say, eternal life.

2. I proceed, then, without more delay. When I seek to get into you, that is, into your heart, I preach Christ: were I preaching something else, I should be trying to climb up some other way. Christ, therefore, is my gate to you: by Christ I get entrance, not to your houses, but to your hearts. It is by Christ I enter: it is Christ in me that you have been willingly hearing. And why is it you have thus willingly hearkened to Christ in me? Because you are the sheep of Christ, purchased with the blood of Christ. You acknowledge your own price, which is not paid by me, but is preached by my instrumentality. He, and only He, was the buyer, who shed precious blood--the precious blood of Him who was without sin. Yet made He precious also the blood of His own, for whom He paid the price of blood: for had He not made the blood of His own precious, it would not have been said, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." [903] So also when He saith, "The good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep," He is not the only one who has done such a deed; and yet if those who have done so are His members, He only Himself was the doer of it. For He was able to do so without them, but whence had they the power apart from Him, who Himself had said, "Without me ye can do nothing"? [904] But from the same source we can show what others also have done, for the apostle John himself, who preached the very gospel you have been hearing, has said in his epistle, "Just as Christ laid down His life for us, so ought we also to lay down our lives for the brethren." [905] "We ought," he says: He made us debtors who first set the example. To the same effect it is written in a certain place, "If thou sittest down to sup at a ruler's table, make wise observation of what is set before thee; and put to thy hand, knowing that it will be thy duty to make similar provision in turn." [906] You know what is meant by the ruler's table: you there find the body and blood of Christ; let him who comes to such a table be ready with similar provision. And what is such similar provision? As He laid down His life for us, so ought we also, for the edification of others, and the maintenance of the faith, [907] to lay down our lives for the brethren. To the same effect He said to Peter, whom He wished to make a good shepherd, not in Peter's own person, but as a member of His body: "Peter, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep." This He did once, again, and a third time, to the disciple's sorrow. And when the Lord had questioned him as often as He judged it needful, that he who had thrice denied might thrice confess Him, and had a third time given him the charge to feed His sheep, He said to him, "When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shall be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." And the evangelist has explained the Lord's meaning: "But this spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God." [908] "Feed my sheep" applies, then, to this, that thou shouldst lay down thy life for my sheep.

3. And now when He saith, "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father," who can be ignorant of His meaning? For He knoweth the Father by Himself, and we by Him. That He hath knowledge by Himself, we know already: that we also have knowledge by Him, we have like wise learned, for this also we have learned of Him. For He Himself hath said: "No one hath seen God at any time; but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." [909] And so by Him do we also get this knowledge, to whom He hath declared Him. In another place also He saith: "No one knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any one the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." [910] As He then knoweth the Father by Himself, and we know the Father by Him; so into the sheepfold He entereth by Himself, and we by Him. We were saying that by Christ we have a door of entrance to you; and why? Because we preach Christ. We preach Christ; and therefore we enter in by the door. But Christ preacheth Christ, for He preacheth Himself; and so the Shepherd entereth in by Himself. When the light shows the other things that are seen in the light, does it need some other means of being made visible itself? The light, then, exhibits both other things and itself. Whatever we understand, we understand with the intellect: and how, save by the intellect, do we understand the intellect itself? But does one in the same way with the bodily eye see both other things and [the eye] itself? For though men see with their eyes, yet their own eyes they see not. The eye of the flesh sees other things, itself it cannot [see]: but the intellect understands itself as well other things. In the same way as the intellect seeth itself, so also doth Christ preach Himself. If He preacheth Himself, and by preaching entereth into thee, He entereth into thee by Himself. And He is the door to the Father, for there is no way of approach to the Father but by Him. "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." [911] Many things are expressed by a word: all that I have just said, I have said, of course, by means of words. If I were wishing to speak also of a word itself, how could I do so but by the use of the word? And thus both many things are expressed by a word, which are not the same as the word, and the word itself can only be expressed by means of the word. By the Lord's help we have been copious in illustration. Remember, then, how the Lord Jesus Christ is both the door and the Shepherd: the door, in presenting Himself to view; the Shepherd, in entering in by Himself. And indeed, brethren, because He is the Shepherd, He hath given to His members to be so likewise. For both Peter, and Paul, and the other apostles were, as all good bishops are, shepherds. But none of us calleth himself the door. This--the way of entrance for the sheep--He has retained as exclusively belonging to Himself. In short, Paul discharged the office of a good shepherd when he preached Christ, because he entered by the door. But when the undisciplined sheep began to create schisms, and to set up other doors before them, not of entrance to their joint assembly, but for falling away into divisions, saying, some of them, "I am of Paul;" others, "I am of Cephas;" others, "I of Apollos;" others, "I of Christ:" terrified for those who said, "I am of Paul,"--as if calling out to the sheep, Wretched ones, whither are you going? I am not the door,--he said, "Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" [912] But those who said, "I am of Christ," had found the door.

4. But of the one sheepfold and of the one Shepherd, you are now indeed being constantly reminded; for we have commended much the one sheepfold, preaching unity, that all the sheep should enter by Christ, and none of them should follow Donatus. Nevertheless, for what particular reason this was said by the Lord, is sufficiently apparent. For He was speaking among the Jews, and had been specially sent to the Jews, not for the sake of that class who were bound up in their inhuman hatred and persistently abiding in darkness, but for the sake of some in the nation whom He calls His sheep: of whom He saith, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [913] He knew them even amid the crowd of His raging foes, and foresaw them in the peace of believing. What, then, does He mean by saying, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," but that He exhibited His bodily presence only to the people of Israel? He did not proceed Himself to the Gentiles, but sent: to the people of Israel He both sent and came in person, that those who proved despisers should receive the greater judgment, because favored also with the sight of His actual presence. The Lord Himself was there: there He chose a mother: there He wished to be conceived, to be born, to shed His blood: there are His footprints, [914] now objects of adoration where last He stood, and whence He ascended to heaven: but to the Gentiles He only sent.

5. But perhaps some one thinks that, as He Himself came not to us, but sent, we have not heard His own voice, but only the voice of those whom He sent. Far from it: let such a thought be banished from your hearts; for He Himself was in those whom He sent. Listen to Paul himself whom He sent; for Paul was specially sent as an apostle to the Gentiles; and it is Paul who, terrifying them not with himself but with Him saith, "Do ye wish to receive a proof of Him who speaketh in me, that is, of Christ?" [915] Listen also to the Lord Himself. "And other sheep I have," that is, among the Gentiles, "which are not of this fold," that is, of the people of Israel: "them also must I bring." Therefore, even when it is by the instrumentality of His servants, it is He and not another that bringeth them. Listen further: "They shall hear my voice." See here also, it is He Himself who speaks by His servants, and it is His voice that is heard in those whom He sends. "That there may be one fold, and one shepherd." Of these two flocks, as of two walls, is the corner-stone formed. [916] And thus is He both door and the corner-stone: all by way of comparison, none of them literally.

6. For I have said so before, and earnestly pressed it on your notice, and those who comprehend it are wise, yea, those who are wise do comprehend it; and yet let those who are not yet intellectually enlightened, keep hold by faith of what they cannot as yet understand. Christ is many things metaphorically, which strictly speaking [917] He is not. Metaphorically Christ is both a rock, and a door, and a corner-stone, and a shepherd, and a lamb, and a lion. How numerous are such similitudes, and as many more as would take too long to enumerate! But if you select the strict significations of things as you are accustomed to see them, then He is neither a rock, for He is not hard and senseless; nor a door, for no artisan made Him; nor a corner-stone, for He was not constructed by a builder; nor a shepherd, for He is no keeper of four-footed animals; nor a lion, as it ranks among the beasts of the forest; nor a lamb, as it belongs to the flock. All such, then, are by way of comparison. But what is He properly? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [God was the Word]." And what, as He appeared in human nature? "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us [in us]." [918]

7. Hear also what follows. "Therefore doth my Father love me," He saith, "because I lay down my life, that I might take it again." What is this that He says? "Therefore doth my Father love me:" because I die, that I may rise again. [919] For the "I" is uttered with special emphasis: "Because I lay down," He saith, "I lay down my life," "I lay down." What is that "I lay down"? I lay it down. Let the Jews no longer boast: they might rage, but they could have no power: let them rage as they can; if I were unwilling to lay down my life, what would all their raging effect? By one answer of His they were prostrated in the dust: when they were asked, "Whom seek ye?" they said, "Jesus;" and on His saying to them, "I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground." [920] Those who thus fell to the ground at one word of Christ when about to die, what will they do at the sound of His voice when coming to judgment? "I, I," I say, "lay down my life, that I may take it again." Let not the Jews boast, as if they had prevailed; He Himself laid down His life. "I laid me down [to sleep]," He says [elsewhere]. You know the psalm: "I laid me down and slept; and I awaked [rose up], for the Lord sustaineth me." What of that--"I lay down"? Because it was my pleasure, I did so. What does "I lay down" mean? I died. Was it not a lying down to sleep on His part, who, when He pleased, rose from the tomb as He would from a bed? But He loves to give glory to the Father, that He may stir us up to glorify our Creator. For in adding, "I arose, for the Lord sustaineth me;" think you there was here a kind of failing in His power, so that, while He had it in His own power to die, He had it not in His power to rise again? So, indeed, the words seem to imply when not more closely considered. "I lay down to sleep;" that is, I did so, because I pleased. "And I arose:" why? "Because the Lord sustaineth [will sustain] me." [921] What then? wouldst Thou not have power to rise of Thyself? If Thou hadst not the power, Thou wouldst not have said, "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again." But, as showing that not only did the Father raise the Son, but the Son also raised Himself, hear how, in another passage in the Gospel, He saith, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." And the evangelist adds: "But this He spake of the temple of His body." [922] For only that which died was restored to life. The Word is not mortal, His soul is not mortal. If even thine dieth not, could the Lord's be subject to death?

8. How can I know, thou wilt say, that mine dieth not? Slay it not thyself, and it cannot die. How, thou asketh, can I slay my soul? To say nothing meanwhile of other sins, "The mouth that lieth, slayeth the soul." [923] How, thou sayest, can I be sure that it dieth not? Listen to the Lord Himself giving security to His servant: "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do." But what in the plainest terms does He say? "Fear Him who hath power to slay both soul and body in hell." [924] Here you have the fact that it dieth, and that it doth not die. What is its dying? What is dying to thy flesh? Dying, to thy flesh, is the losing of its life: dying to thy soul, is the losing of its life. The life of thy flesh is thy soul: the life of thy soul is thy God. As the flesh dies in losing the soul, which is its life, so the soul dieth in losing God, who is its life. Of a certainty, then, the soul is immortal. Manifestly immortal, for it liveth even when dead. For what the apostle said of the luxurious widow, may also be said of the soul if it has lost its God, "she is dead while she liveth." [925]

9. How, then, does the Lord lay down His life [soul]? [926] Let us, brethren, inquire into this a little more carefully. The time is not so pressing as is usual on the Lord's day: we have leisure, and theirs will be the profit who have assembled to-day also to wait on the Word of God. "I lay down my life," He says. Who lays down? What lays He down? What is Christ? The Word and man. Not man as being flesh alone: but as man consists of flesh and soul, so, in Christ there is a complete humanity. For He would not have assumed the baser part, and left the better behind, seeing that the soul of man is certainly superior to the body. Since, then, there is entire manhood in Christ, what is Christ? The Word, I repeat, and man. What is the Word and man? The Word, soul, and flesh. Keep hold of that, for there has been no lack of heretics on this point also, expelled as they were some time ago from the catholic truth, but still persisting, like thieves and robbers who enter not by the door, to lay their snares around the fold. These heretics are termed Apollinarians, [927] and have ventured to assert dogmatically that Christ is only the word and flesh, and contend that He did not assume a human soul. And yet some of them could not deny that there was a soul in Christ. See their intolerable absurdity and madness. They would have Him to possess an irrational soul, but deny Him a rational one. They allowed Him a mere animal, they deprived Him of a human, soul. But they took away Christ's reason by losing their own. Let it be otherwise with us, who have been nourished and established in the catholic faith. Accordingly, on this occasion I would remind your Charity, that, as in former lectures, we have given you sufficient instruction against the Sabellians and Arians,--the Sabellians, who say, The Father is the same as the Son--the Arians, who say, The Father is one being, the Son is another, as if the Father and Son were not of the same substance--and also, provided you remember as you ought, against the Photinian heretics, who have asserted that Christ was mere man, and destitute of Godhead: [928] and against the Manicheans, who maintain that He was God only without any true humanity: we may, on this occasion, in speaking about the soul, give you some instruction also in opposition to the Apollinarians, who say that our Lord Jesus Christ had no human soul, that is, a rational intelligent soul,--that soul, I mean, by which, as men, we differ from the brutes.

10. In what sense, then, did our Lord say here, "I have power to lay down my soul [life]"? Who lays down his soul, and takes it again? Is it as being the Word that Christ does so? Or is it the human soul He possesses that lays down and resumes its own existence? Or is it His fleshly nature that lays down its life and takes it again? Let us sift each of the three questions I have suggested, and choose that which conforms to the standard of truth. For if we say that the Word of God laid down His soul, and took it again, we should have to fear the entrance of a wicked thought, and have it said to us: Then there was a time when that soul was separated from the Word, and a time, after His assumption of that soul, when He was without a soul. I see, indeed, that the Word was once without a human soul, but only so, when "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." But from the time that the Word was made flesh, to dwell amongst us, [929] and manhood was assumed by the Word, that is, our whole nature, soul and flesh, what more could His passion and death do than separate the body from the soul? It separated not the soul from the Word. For if the Lord died, yea, because He died (for He did so for us on the cross), doubtless His flesh breathed out that which was its life: for a short time the soul forsook the flesh, although destined by its own return to raise the flesh again to life. But I cannot say that the soul was separated from the Word. He said to the soul of the thief, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." [930] He forsook not the believing soul of the robber, and did He abandon His own? Surely not; but when the Lord took that of the other into His keeping, He certainly retained His own in indissoluble union. If, on the other hand, we say that the soul laid down and reassumed itself, we fall into the greatest absurdity; for what was not separated from the Word, was inseparable from itself.

11. Let us turn, then, to what is true and easily understood. Take the case of any man, who does not consist of the word and soul and flesh, but only of soul and flesh; and let us inquire how any such man lays down his life. Can no ordinary man do so? Thou mayest say to me: No man has power to lay down his life [soul], and to take it again. But were not a man able to lay down his life, the Apostle John would not say, "As Christ laid down his life for us, even so ought we also to lay down our lives for the brethren." [931] Therefore may we also (if only we are filled with His courage, for without Him we can do nothing) lay down our lives for the brethren. When some holy martyr has laid down his life for the brethren, who laid it down, and what laid he down? If we understand this, we shall perceive in what sense it was said by Christ, "I have power to lay down my life." Art thou prepared, O man, to die for Christ? I am prepared, he replies. Let me repeat the question in other words. Art thou prepared to lay down thy life for Christ? And to these words he makes me the same reply, I am prepared, as he had, when I said, Art thou prepared to die? To lay down one's life [soul], is, then, the same as to die. But in whose behalf is the sacrifice in this case? For all men, when they die, lay down their life; but it is not all who lay it down for Christ. And no one has power to resume what he has laid down. But Christ both laid it down for us, and did so when it pleased Him; and when it pleased Him, He took it again. To lay down one's soul then, is to die. As also the Apostle Peter said to the Lord: "I will lay down my life [soul] for Thy sake;" [932] that is, I will die for Thy sake. View it, then, as referable to the flesh: the flesh layeth down its life, and the flesh taketh it again; not, indeed, the flesh by its own power, but by the power of Him that inhabiteth it. The flesh, then, layeth down its life in expiring. Look at the Lord Himself on the cross: He said, "I thirst:" those who were present dipped a sponge in vinegar, fastened it to a reed, and applied it to His mouth; then, having received it, He said, "It is finished;" meaning, All is fulfilled which had been prophesied regarding me as, prior to my death, still in the future. And because He had the power, when He pleased, to lay down His life, after He had said, "It is finished," what adds the evangelist? "And He bowed His head, and gave up the spirit." [933] This is to lay down the soul [life]. Only let your Charity attend to this. "He bowed His head, and gave up the spirit." Who gave up what gave He up? He gave up the spirit; His flesh gave it up. What means, the flesh gave it up? The flesh sent it forth, breathed it out. For so, in becoming separated from the spirit, we are said to expire. Just as getting outside the paternal soil is to be expatriated, turning aside from the track is to deviate; so to become separated from the spirit is to expire; and that spirit is the soul [life]. Accordingly, when the soul quits the flesh, and the flesh remains without the soul, then is a man said to lay down his soul [his human life]. When did Christ lay down His life? When it pleased the Word. For sovereign authority resided in the Word; and therein lay the power to determine when the flesh should lay down its life, and when it should take it again.

12. If, then, the flesh laid down its life, how did Christ lay down His life? For the flesh is not Christ. Certainly in this way, that Christ is both flesh, and soul, and the Word; and yet these three things are not three Christs, but one. Ask thine own human nature, and from thyself ascend to what is above thee, and which, if not yet able to be understood, can at least be believed. For in the same way that one man is soul and body, is one Christ both the Word and man. Consider what I have said, and understand. The soul and body are two things, but one man: the Word and man are two things, but one Christ. Apply, then, the subject to any man. Where is now the Apostle Paul? If one answer, At rest with Christ, he speaks truly. And likewise, should one reply, In the sepulchre at Rome, he is equally right. The one answer I get refers to his soul, the other to his flesh. And yet we do not say that there are two Apostle Pauls, one who rests in Christ, another who was laid in the sepulchre; although we may say that the Apostle Paul liveth in Christ, and that the same apostle lieth dead in the tomb. Some one dieth, and we say, He was a good man, and faithful; he is in peace with the Lord: and then immediately, Let us attend his obsequies, and lay him in the sepulchre. Thou art about to bury one whom thou hadst just declared to be in peace with God; for the latter regards the soul which blooms eternally, and the other the body, which is laid down in corruption. But while the partnership of the flesh and soul has received the name of man, the same name is now applied to either of them, singly and by itself.

13. Let no one, then, be perplexed, when he hears that the Lord has said, "I lay down my life, and I take it again." The flesh layeth it down, but by the power of the Word: the flesh taketh it again, but by the same power. Even His own name, the Lord Christ, was applied to His flesh alone. How can you prove it? says some one. We believe of a certainty not only in God the Father, but also in Jesus Christ His Son, our only Lord: and this that I have just said contains the whole, in Jesus Christ His Son, our only Lord. Understand that the whole is here: the Word, and soul, and flesh. At all events thou confessest what is also held by the same faith, that thou believest in that Christ who was crucified and buried. Ergo, thou deniest not that Christ was buried; and yet it was the burial only of His flesh. For had the soul been there, He would not have been dead: but if it was a true death, and its resurrection real, it was previously without life in the tomb; and yet it was Christ that was buried. And so the flesh apart from the soul was also Christ, for it was only the flesh that was buried. Learn the same likewise in the words of an apostle. "Let this mind," he says, "be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Who, save Christ Jesus, as respects His nature as the Word, is God with God? But look at what follows: "But emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant; being made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man." And who is this, but the same Christ Jesus Himself? But here we have now all the parts, both the Word in that form of God which assumed the form of a servant, and the soul and the flesh in that form of a servant which was assumed by the form of God. "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death." [934] Now in His death, it was His flesh only that was slain by the Jews. For if He said to His disciples, "Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul," [935] how could they do more in His own case than kill the body? And yet in the slaying of His flesh, it was Christ that was slain. Accordingly, when the flesh laid down its life, Christ laid it down; and when the flesh, in order to its resurrection, assumed its life, Christ assumed it. Nevertheless this was done, not by the power of the flesh, but of Him who assumed both soul and flesh, that in them these very things might receive fulfillment.

14. "This commandment," He says, "have I received of my Father." The Word received not the commandment in word, but in the only begotten Word of the Father every commandment resides. But when the Son is said to receive of the Father what He possesses essentially in Himself, as it is said, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself," [936] while the Son is Himself the life,there is no lessening of His authority, but the setting forth of His generation. For the Father added not after-gifts as to a son whose state was imperfect at birth, but on Him whom He begat in absolute perfection He bestowed all gifts in begetting. In this manner He gave Him equality with Himself, and yet begat Him not in a state of inequality. But while the Lord thus spake, for the light was shining in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not, [937] "there was a dissension again created among the Jews for these sayings, and many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad: why hear ye him?" This was the thickest darkness. Others said, "These are not the words of him that hath a devil; can a devil open the eyes of the blind?" The eyes of such were now begun to be opened.

Footnotes

[903] Ps. cxvi. 15. [904] Chap. xv. 5. [905] 1 John iii. 16. [906] Prov. xxiii. 1, 2, according to the Septuagint, whose reading of verse 2 must have been somewhat different from that of the present Hebrew text, with which our English version pretty closely agrees: "And thou shalt put a knife to thy throat, if thou art a man of appetite" (or perhaps, "if thou hast control over thy appetite," #iM%B+uaE+aL+ N+P+Sh #aT+uoH+). So somewhat similarly the Vulgate, which makes the last clause, "if thou hast power over thy life."--Tr. [907] This clause, "for the edification," etc., is wanting in many of the mss. [908] Chap. xxi. 15-19. [909] Chap. i. 18. [910] Matt. xi. 27. [911] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [912] 1 Cor. i. 12, 13. [913] Matt. xv. 24. [914] Of Christ's footprints on Mount Olivet, impressed on the ground, there is mention made in the works of Jerome, in the book on "Hebrew places," and in Bede, in the names of places in the Acts of the Apostles; as likewise in the sacred history of Sulpitius Severus, Book ii.--Migne. The text is somewhat uncertain, but indicates the existence of "holy places" in Augustin's day, and certain acts of worship performed in their honor.--Tr. [915] 2 Cor. xiii. 3. [916] Eph. ii. 11-22. [917] Per proprietatum. [918] Chap. i. 1, 14. [919] Migne says that "there is, perhaps, in this passage something either superfluous or lacking." But there does not seem any real cause for such a supposition.--Tr. [920] Chap. xviii. 4-6. [921] Ps. iii. 5. It need scarcely be said that this psalm cannot bear the Messianic interpretation attached to it by Augustin, any more than Prov. xxiii. 1, 2, similarly applied in Sec. 2 of this lecture; and frequently elsewhere. But the accommodation at the will of the writer of all Old Testament Scripture equally to such a purpose was characteristic of the age.--Tr. [922] Chap. ii. 19, 21. [923] Wisd. i. 11. [924] Matt. x. 28, and Luke xii. 4, 5. [925] 1 Tim. v. 6. [926] The word anima, according to Augustin's explanation of it above, may be rendered in these sections either "soul" or "life." The original also is psuche.--Tr. [927] From Apollinaris, bishop of Alexandria, who held that the body which Christ assumed had only a sensitive, and not a rational soul, and that His divine nature supplied the place of the latter. His doctrines were condemned by the Council of Alexandria, A.D. 362, and he himself was deposed by the Council of Rome, A.D. 378.--Tr. [928] Sine deo: which, however, is wanting in all the mss. [929] Chap. i. 1, 14. [930] Luke xxiii. 43. [931] 1 John iii. 16. [932] Chap. xiii. 37. [933] Chap. xix. 28-30. [934] Phil. ii. 6-8. [935] Matt. x. 28. [936] John v. 26. [937] Chap. i. 5. .


Tractate XLVIII.

Chapter X. 22-42

1. As I have already charged you, beloved, you ought steadfastly to bear in mind that Saint John the evangelist would not have us be always nourished with milk, but fed with solid food. Still, whoever is hardly able as yet to partake of the solid food of God's word, let him find nourishment in the milk of faith; and the word which he cannot understand, let him not hesitate to believe. For faith is the deserving: understanding, the reward. In the very labor of intent application the eye of our mind struggles [938] to get rid of the foul films of human mists, and be cleared up to the word of God. Labor, then, will not be declined if love is present; for you know that he who loves his labor is insensible to its pain. For no labor is grievous to those who love it. If cupidity on the part of the avaricious endures so great toils, what in our case will not love endure?

2. Listen to the Gospel: "And it was at Jerusalem the Encoenia." [939] Encoenia was the festival of the dedication of the temple. For in Greek kainos means new; and whenever there was some new dedication, it was called Encoenia. [940] And now this word is come into common use; if one puts on a new coat, he is said "encoeniare" (to renovate, or to hold an encoenia). For the Jews celebrated in a solemn manner the day on which the temple was dedicated; and it was the very feast day when the Lord spake what has just been read.

3. "It was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost thou keep our mind in suspense? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." They were not desiring the truth, but preparing a calumny. "It was winter," and they were chill; because they were slow to approach that divine fire. For to approach is to believe: he who believes, approaches; who denies, retires. The soul is not moved by the feet, but by the affections. They had become icy cold to the sweetness of loving Him, and they burned with the desire of doing Him an injury. They were far away, while there beside Him. It was not with them a nearer approach in believing, but the pressure of persecution. They sought to hear the Lord saying, I am Christ; and probably enough they only thought of the Christ in a human way. The prophets preached Christ; but the Godhead of Christ asserted in the prophets and in the gospel itself is not perceived even by heretics; and how much less by Jews, so long as the vail is upon their heart? [941] In short, in a certain place, the Lord Jesus, knowing that their views of the Christ were cast in a human mould, not in the Divine, taking His stand on the human ground, and not on that where along with the assumption of humanity He also continued Divine, He said to them, "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?" Following their own opinion, they replied, "Of David." For so they had read, and this only they retained; because while they read of His divinity, they did not understand it. But the Lord, to pin them down to some inquiry touching the divinity of Him whose apparent weakness they despised, answered them: "How, then, doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, till I put Thine enemies under Thy feet? If David, then, in spirit call Him Lord, how is He his son?" [942] He did not deny, but questioned. Let no one think, on hearing this, that the Lord Jesus denied that He was the Son of David. Had Christ the Lord given any such denial, He would not have enlightened the blind who so addressed Him. For as He was passing by one day, two blind men, who were sitting by the wayside, cried out, "Have mercy upon us, thou Son of David." And on hearing these words He had mercy on them. He stood still, healed, enlightened them; [943] for He owned the name. The Apostle Paul also says, "Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;" [944] and in his Epistle to Timothy, "Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, [He that is] of the seed of David, according to my gospel." [945] For the Virgin Mary drew her origin, and hence our Lord also, from the seed of David.

4. The Jews made this inquiry of Christ, chiefly in order that, should He say, I am Christ, they might, in accordance with the only sense they attached to such a name, that He was of the seed of David, calumniate Him with aiming at the kingly power. There is more than this in His answer to them: they wished to calumniate Him with claiming to be the Son of David. He replied that He was the Son of God. And how? Listen: "Jesus answered them, I tell you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me: but ye believe not; because ye are not of my sheep." Ye have already learned above (in Lecture XLV.) who the sheep are: be ye sheep. They are sheep through believing, sheep in following the Shepherd, sheep in not despising their Redeemer, sheep in entering by the door, sheep in going out and finding pasture, sheep in the enjoyment of eternal life. What did He mean, then, in saying to them, "Ye are not of my sheep"? That He saw them predestined to everlasting destruction, not won to eternal life by the price of His own blood.

5. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life." This is the pasture. If you recollect, He had said before, "And he shall go in and out, and find pasture." We have entered by believing--we go out at death. [946] But as we have entered by the door of faith, so, as believers, we quit the body; for it is in going out by that same door that we are able to find pasture. The good pasture is called eternal life; there no blade withereth--all is green and flourishing. There is a plant commonly said to be ever-living; there only is it found to live. "I will give," He says, "unto them," unto my sheep, "eternal life." Ye are on the search for calumnies, just because your only thoughts are of the life that is present.

6. "And they shall never perish:" you may hear the undertone, as if He had said to them, Ye shall perish for ever, because ye are not of my sheep. "No one shall pluck them out of my hand." Give still greater heed to this: "That which my Father gave me is greater than all." [947] What can the wolf do? What can the thief and the robber? They destroy none but those predestined to destruction. But of those sheep of which the apostle says, "The Lord knoweth them that are His;" [948] and "Whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate; and whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified;" [949] --there is none of such sheep as these that the wolf seizes, or the thief steals, or the robber slays. He, who knows what He gave for them, is sure of their number. And it is this that He says: "No one shall pluck them out of my hand;" and in reference also to the Father, "That which my Father gave me is greater than all." What did the Father give to the Son that was greater than all? To be His own only-begotten Son. What, then, means "gave"? Was He to whom He gave previously existent, or gave He in the act of begetting? For if He previously existed to whom He gave the gift of Sonship, there was a time when He was, and was not the Son. Far be it from us to suppose that the Lord Christ ever was, and yet was not the Son. Of us such a thing may be said: there was a time when we were the sons of men, but were not the sons of God. For we are made the sons of God by grace, but He by nature, for such was He born. And yet not so, as that one may say, He did not exist till He was born; for He, who was coeternal with the Father, was never unborn. Let him who is wise understand: and whoever understands not, let him believe and be nourished, and he will come to understanding. The Word of God was always with the Father, and always the Word; and because the Word, therefore the Son. So then, always the Son, and always equal. For it is not by growth but by birth that He is equal, who was always born, the Son of the Father, God of God, coeternal of the Eternal. But the Father is not God of [950] the Son: the Son is God of [951] the Father; therefore in begetting the Son, the Father "gave" Him to be God, in begetting He gave Him to be coeternal with Himself, in begetting He gave Him to be His equal. This is that which is greater than all. How is the Son the life, and the possessor of life? What He has, He is: as for thee, thou art one thing, thou hast another. For example, thou hast wisdom, but art thou wisdom itself? In short, because thou thyself art not that which thou hast, shouldst thou lose what thou hast, thou returnest to the state of no longer having it: and sometimes thou re-acquirest, sometimes thou losest. As our eye has no light inherently in itself, it opens, and admits it; it shuts, and loses it. It is not thus that the Son of God is God--not thus that He is the Word of the Father; and not thus is He the Word, that passes away with the sound, but that which abides in its birth. In such a way hath He wisdom that He is Himself wisdom, and maketh men wise: and life, that He is Himself the life, and maketh others alive. This is that which is greater than all. The evangelist John himself looked to heaven and earth when wishing to speak of the Son of God; he looked, and rose above them all. He thought on the thousands of angelic armies above the heavens; he thought, and, like the eagle soaring beyond the clouds, his mind overpassed the whole creation: he rose beyond all that was great, and arrived at that which was greater than all; and said, "In the beginning was the Word." But because He, of [952] whom is the Word, is not of the Word, and the Word is of Him, whose Word He is; therefore He says, "That which the Father gave me," namely, to be His Word, His only-begotten Son, the brightness of His light, "is greater than all." Therefore, "No one," He says, "plucketh my sheep out of my hand. No one can pluck them out of my Father's hand."

7. "Out of my hand," and "out of my Father's hand." What is this, "No one plucketh them out of my hand," and "No one plucketh them out of my Father's hand"? Have the Father and Son one hand, or is the Son Himself, shall we say, the hand of His Father? If by hand we are to understand power, the power of Father and Son is one; for their Godhead is one. But if we mean hand in the way spoken of by the prophet, "And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" [953] the Father's hand is the Son Himself, which is not to be so understood as if God had the human form, and, as it were, bodily members: but that all things were made by Him. For men also are in the habit of calling other men their hands, by whom they get done what they wish. And sometimes also the very work done by a man's hand is called his hand; as one is said to recognize his hand when he recognizes what he has written. Since, then, there are many ways of speaking of the hand of a man, who literally has a hand among the members of his body; how much rather must there be more than one way of understanding it, when we read of the hand of God, who has no bodily form? And in this way it is better here, by the hand of the Father and Son, to understand the power of the Father and the Son; lest, in taking here the hand of the Father as spoken of the Son, some carnal thought also about the Son Himself should set us looking for the Son as somehow to be similarly regarded as the hand of Christ. Therefore, "no one plucketh them out of my Father's hand;" that is, no one plucketh them from me.

8. But that there may be no more room for hesitation, hear what follows: "I and my Father are one." Up to this point the Jews were able to bear Him; they heard, "I and my Father are one," and they bore it no longer; and hardened in their own way, they had recourse to stones. "They took up stones to stone Him." The Lord, because He suffered not what He was unwilling to suffer, and only suffered what He was pleased to suffer, still addresses them while desiring to stone Him. "The Jews took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? And they answered, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Such was their reply to His words, "I and my Father are one." You see here that the Jews understood what the Arians understand not. For they were angry on this account, that they felt it could not be said, "I and my Father are one," save where there was equality of the Father and the Son.

9. But see what answer the Lord gave to their dull apprehension. He saw that they could not bear the brilliance of the truth, and He tempered it with words. "Is it not written in your law," that is, as given to you, "that I said, Ye are gods?" [954] And the Lord called all the Scriptures generally, the law: although elsewhere He speaks more definitely of the law, distinguishing it from the prophets; as it is said, "The law and the prophets were until John;" [955] and "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." [956] Sometimes, however, He divided the same Scriptures into three parts, as where He saith, "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me." [957] But now He includes the psalms also under the name of the law, where it is written, "I said, Ye are gods. If He calleth them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken: say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" If the word of God came to men, that they might be called gods, how can the very Word of God, who is with God, be otherwise than God? If by the word of God men become gods, if by fellowship they become gods, can He by whom they have fellowship not be God? If lights which are lit are gods, is the light which enlighteneth not God? If through being warmed in a way by saving fire they are constituted gods, is He who gives them the warmth other than God? Thou approachest the light and art enlightened, and numbered among the sons of God; if thou withdrawest from the light, thou fallest into obscurity, and art accounted in darkness; but that light approacheth not, because it never recedeth from itself. If, then, the word of God maketh you gods, how can the Word of God be otherwise than God? Therefore did the Father sanctify His Son, and send Him into the world. Perhaps some one may be saying: If the Father sanctified Him, was there then a time when He was not sanctified? He sanctified in the same way as He begat Him. For in the act of begetting He gave Him the power to be holy, because He begat Him in holiness. For if that which is sanctified was unholy before, how can we say to God the Father, "Hallowed be Thy name"? [958]

10. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye will not believe me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him." The Son says not, "the Father is in me, and I in Him," as men can say it. For if we think well, we are in God; and if we live well, God is in us: believers, by participating in His grace, and being illuminated by Himself, are in Him, and He in us. But not so is it with the only-begotten Son: He is in the Father, and the Father in Him; as one who is equal is in him whose equal he is. In short, we can sometimes say, We are in God, and God is in us; but can we say, I and God are one? Thou art in God, because God contains thee; God is in thee, because thou art become the temple of God: but because thou art in God, and God is in thee, canst thou say, He that seeth me seeth God; as the Only-begotten said, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also;" [959] and "I and the Father are one"? Recognize the prerogative of the Lord, and the privilege of the servant. The prerogative of the Lord is equality with the Father: the privilege of the servant is fellowship with the Saviour.

11. "Therefore they sought to apprehend Him." Would they had apprehended by faith and understanding, not in wrath and murder! For now, my brethren, when I speak thus, it is the weak one wishing to apprehend what is strong, the small what is great, the fragile what is solid; and it is we ourselves--both you who are of the same matter as I am, and I myself who speak to you--who all wish to apprehend Christ. And what is it to apprehend Him? [If] thou hast understood, thou hast apprehended. But not as did the Jews: thou hast apprehended in order to possess, they wished to apprehend in order to make away with Him. And because this was the kind of apprehension they desired, what did He do to them? "He escaped out of their hands." They failed to apprehend Him, because they lacked the hand of faith. The Word was made flesh; but it was no great task to the Word to rescue His own flesh from fleshy hands. To apprehend the Word in the mind, is the right apprehension of Christ.

12. "And He went away again beyond Jordan, into the place where John at first baptized; and there He abode. And many resorted unto Him, and said, John, indeed, did no miracle." You remember what was said of John, that he was a light, and bore witness to the day. [960] Why, then, say these among themselves, "John did no miracle"? John, they say, signalized himself by no miracle; he did not put devils to flight, he drove away no fever, he enlightened not the blind, he raised not the dead, he fed not so many thousand men with five or seven loaves, he walked not upon the sea, he commanded not the winds and the waves. None of these things did John, and in all he said he bore witness to this man. By lamp-light we may advance to the day. "John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true." Here are those who apprehended in a different way from the Jews. The Jews wished to apprehend one who was departing from them, these apprehended one who remained with them. In a word, what is it that follows? "And many believed on Him."

Footnotes

[938] Desudat, struggles to sweating. [939] Encænia, enkainia, from en and kainos, new. [940] It was a feast, however, instituted by Judas Maccabæus, to commemorate his purification of the temple, after its profanation by Antiochus.--Tr. [941] 2 Cor. iii. 15. [942] Matt. xxii. 42-45. [943] Matt. xx. 30-34. [944] Rom. i. 3. [945] 2 Tim. ii. 8. [946] The pasture, and the going in and out, refer rather to Christ's guidance and nourishment of His people in this present life.--Tr. [947] There is a considerable difference in these words, as rendered by Augustin, from that which is found in our English version: "My Father who gave them me is greater than all." The latter is certainly the more intelligible and suitable to the context. But the variation of the mss. between the two readings, "ho...meizon" and "hos...meizon," is somewhat remarkable. The far larger number are certainly in favor of the latter, as followed by our English Bibles, but the former is countenanced by some of the more important; while others which have hos have at the same time meizon (neut.) and vice versa. Thus the Sinaitic reads ho (neut.), and meizon (masc.); while the Alexandrian has hos (masc.), and meizon (neut.). The Vulgate, and some of the other early versions, have Augustin's reading; but the Peshito (Syriac), which is the earliest of them all, supports the other, its literal rendering being, "For my Father, who gave to me, than all greater [is] He." Modern critics have generally adopted the masc. reading,--Griesbach, Bengel, and others, almost ignoring the other, and Stier dismissing it as wholly inadmissible; while Alford, in a very strange and unsatisfactory way, gives the neuter in his Greek text, and not a syllable of explanation in his notes. It seems to us that the transcriber had first let ho creep into the text, perhaps from the previous similar expression in chap. vi. 39; and then meizon was made neuter by some other to agree with it. This is more likely than the reverse; and our English reading is every way more satisfactory than Augustin's.--Tr. [948] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [949] Rom. viii. 29, 30. [950] De. [951] De. [952] De. [953] Isa. liii. 1. [954] Ps. lxxxii. 6. [955] Luke xvi. 16. [956] Matt. xxii. 40. [957] Luke xxiv. 44. [958] Matt. vi. 9. [959] Chap. xiv. 9. [960] Chap. v. 35, 33. .


Tractate XLIX.

Chapter XI. 1-54

1. Among all the miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Lazarus holds a foremost place in preaching. But if we consider attentively who did it, our duty is to rejoice rather than to wonder. A man was raised up by Him who made man: for He is the only One of the Father, by whom, as you know, all things were made. And if all things were made by Him, what wonder is it that one was raised by Him, when so many are daily brought into the world by His power? It is a greater deed to create men than to raise them again from the dead. Yet He deigned both to create and to raise again; to create all, to resuscitate some. For though the Lord Jesus did many such acts, yet all of them are not recorded; just as this same St. John the evangelist himself testifies, that Christ the Lord both said and did many things that are not recorded; [961] but such were chosen for record as seemed to suffice for the salvation of believers. Thou hast just heard that the Lord Jesus raised a dead man to life; and that is sufficient to let thee know that, were He so pleased, He might raise all the dead to life. And, indeed this very work has He reserved in His own hands till the end of the world. For while you have heard that by a great miracle He raised one from the tomb who had been dead four days, "the hour is coming," as He Himself saith, "in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth." He raised one who was putrid, and yet in that putrid carcase there was still the form of limbs; but at the last day He will by a word reconstitute ashes into human flesh. But it was needful then to do only some such deeds, that we, receiving them as tokens of His power, may put our trust in Him, and be preparing for that resurrection which shall be to life and not to judgment. So, indeed, He saith, "The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." [962]

2. We have, however, read in the Gospel of three dead persons who were raised to life by the Lord, and, let us hope, to some good purpose. For surely the Lord's deeds are not merely deeds, but signs. And if they are signs, besides their wonderful character, they have some real significance: and to find out this in regard to such deeds is a somewhat harder task than to read or hear of them. We were listening with wonder, as at the sight of some mighty miracle enacted before our eyes, in the reading of the Gospel, how Lazarus was restored to life. If we turn our thoughts to the still more wonderful works of Christ, every one that believeth riseth again: if we all consider, and understand that more horrifying kind of death, every one who sinneth dies. [963] But every man is afraid of the death of the flesh; few, of the death of the soul. In regard to the death of the flesh, which must certainly come some time, all are on their guard against its approach: this is the source of all their labor. Man, destined to die, labors to avert his dying; and yet man, destined to live for ever, labors not to cease from sinning. And when he labors to avoid dying, he labors to no purpose, for its only result will be to put off death for a while, not to escape it; but if he refrain from sinning, his toil will cease, and he shall live for ever. Oh that we could arouse men, and be ourselves aroused along with them, to be as great lovers of the life that abideth, as men are of that which passeth away! What will a man not do who is placed under the peril of death? When the sword was overhanging their heads, men have given up every means of living they had in reserve. Who is there that has not made an immediate surrender of all, to escape being slain? And, after all, he has perhaps been slain. Who is there that, to save his life, has not been willing at once to lose his means of living, and prefer a life of beggary to a speedy death? Who has had it said to him, Be off to sea if you would escape with your life, and has delayed to do so? Who has had it said to him, Set to work if you would preserve your life, and has continued a sluggard? It is but little that God requires of us, that we may live for ever: and we neglect to obey Him. God says not to thee, Lose all you have, that you may live a little time oppressed with toil; but, Give to the poor of what you have, that you may live always exempt from labor. The lovers of this temporal life, which is theirs, neither when, nor as long as they wish, are our accusers; and we accuse not ourselves in turn, so sluggish are we, so lukewarm about obtaining eternal life, which will be ours if we wish it, and will be imperishable when we have it; but this death which we fear, notwithstanding all our reluctance, will yet be ours in possession.

3. If, then, the Lord in the greatness of His grace and mercy raiseth our souls to life, that we may not die for ever, we may well understand that those three dead persons whom He raised in the body, have some figurative significance of that resurrection of the soul which is effected by faith: He raised up the ruler of the synagogue's daughter, while still lying in the house; [964] He raised up the widow's young son, while being carried outside the gates of the city; [965] and He raised up Lazarus, when four days in the grave. Let each one give heed to his own soul: in sinning he dies: sin is the death of the soul. But sometimes sin is committed only in thought. Thou hast felt delight in what is evil, thou hast assented to its commission, thou hast sinned; that assent has slain thee: but the death is internal, because the evil thought had not yet ripened into action. The Lord intimated that He would raise such a soul to life, in raising that girl, who had not yet been carried forth to the burial, but was lying dead in the house, as if sin still lay concealed. But if thou hast not only harbored a feeling of delight in evil, but hast also done the evil thing, thou hast, so to speak, carried the dead outside the gate: thou art already without, and being carried to the tomb. Yet such an one also the Lord raised to life. and restored to his widowed mother. If thou hast sinned, repent, and the Lord will raise thee up, and restore thee to thy mother Church. The third example of death is Lazarus. A grievous kind of death it is, and is distinguished as a habit of wickedness. For it is one thing to fall into sin, another to form the habit of sinning. He who falls into sin, and straightway submits to correction, will be speedily restored to life; for he is not yet entangled in the habit, he is not yet laid in the tomb. But he who has become habituated to sin, is buried, and has it properly said of him, "he stinketh;" for his character, like some horrible smell, begins to be of the worst repute. Such are all who are habituated to crime, abandoned in morals. Thou sayest to such an one, Do not so. But when wilt thou be listened to by one on whom the earth is thus heaped, who is breeding corruption, and pressed down with the weight of habit? And yet the power of Christ was not unequal to the task of restoring such an one to life. We know, we have seen, we see every day men changing the very worst of habits, and adopting a better manner of life than that of those who blamed them. Thou detestedst such a man: look at the sister of Lazarus herself (if, indeed, it was she who anointed the Lord's feet with ointment, and wiped with her hair what she had washed with her tears), who had a better resurrection than her brother; she was delivered from the mighty burden of a sinful character. For she was a notorious sinner; and had it said of her, "Her many sins are forgiven her, for she has loved much." [966] We see many such, we know many: let none despair, but let none presume in himself. Both the one and the other are sinful. Let thine unwillingness to despair take such a turn as to lead thee to make choice of Him in whom alone thou mayest well presume.

4. So then the Lord also raised Lazarus to life. You have heard what type of character he represents; in other words, what is meant by the resurrection of Lazarus. Let us now, therefore, read over the passage; and as there is much in this lesson clear already, we shall not go into any detailed exposition, so as to take up more thoroughly the necessary points. "Now a certain man was sick, [named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and Martha, his sisters." In the previous lesson you remember that the Lord escaped from the hands of those who sought to stone Him, and went away beyond Jordan, where John baptized. [967] When the Lord therefore had taken up His abode there, Lazarus fell sick in Bethany, which was a town lying close to Jerusalem.

5. "But Mary was she who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying." We now understand whither it was they sent, namely, where the Lord was; for He was away, as you know, beyond the Jordan. They sent messengers to the Lord to tell Him that their brother was ill. He delayed to heal, that He might be able to raise to life. But what was the message sent by his sisters? "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." They did not say, Come; for the intimation was all that was needed for one who loved. They did not venture to say, Come and heal him: they ventured not to say, Command there, and it shall be done here. And why not so with them, if on these very grounds the centurion's faith was commended? For he said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." [968] No such words said these women, but only, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." It is enough that Thou knowest; for Thou art not one that loveth and forsaketh. But says some one, How could a sinner be represented by Lazarus, and be so loved by the Lord? Let him listen to Him, when He says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." [969] For had not God loved sinners, He would not have come down from heaven to earth.

6. "But when Jesus heard [that], He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified." Such a glorifying of Himself did not add to His dignity, but benefited us. Hence He says, "is not unto death," because even that death itself was not unto death, but rather unto the working of a miracle whereby men might be led to faith in Christ, and so escape the real death. And mark how the Lord, as it were indirectly, called Himself God, for the sake of some who deny that the Son is God. For there are heretics who make such a denial, that the Son of God is God. Let them hearken here: "This sickness," He says, "is not unto death, but for the glory of God." For what glory? For the glory of what God? Hear what follows: "That the Son of God may be glorified." "This sickness," therefore, He says, "is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God maybe glorified thereby." By what? By that sickness.

7. "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus." The one sick, the others sad, all of them beloved: but He who loved them was both the Saviour of the sick, nay more, the Raiser of the dead and the Comforter of the sad. "When He heard therefore that he was sick, He abode then two days still in the same place." They sent Him word: He abode where He was: and the time ran on till four days were completed. And not in vain, were it only that perhaps, nay that certainly, even the very number of days has some sacramental significance. "Then after that He saith again to His disciples, Let us go into Judea:" where He had been all but stoned, and from which He had apparently departed for the very purpose to escape being stoned. For as man He departed; but returned as if in forgetfulness of all infirmity, to show His power. "Let us go," He said, "into Judea."

8. And now see how the disciples were terrified at His words. "The disciples say unto Him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? "What means such an answer? They said to Him, "The Jews of late sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again" to be stoned? And the Lord, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? if any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world: but if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." He spoke indeed of the day, but to our understanding as if it were still the night. Let us call upon the Day to chase away the night, and illuminate our hearts with the light. For what did the Lord mean? As far as I can judge, and as the height and depth of His meaning breaks into light, He wished to argue down their doubting and unbelief. For they wished by their counsel to keep the Lord from death, who had come to die, to save themselves from death. In a similar way also, in another passage, St. Peter, who loved the Lord, but did not yet fully understand the reason of His coming, was afraid of His dying, and so displeased the Life, to wit, the Lord Himself; for when He was intimating to the disciples what He was about to suffer at Jerusalem at the hands of the Jews, Peter made reply among the rest, and said, "Far be it from Thee, Lord; pity Thyself: this shall not be unto Thee." And at once the Lord replied, "Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." And yet a little before, in confessing the Son of God, he had merited commendation: for he heard the words, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven." [970] To whom He had said, "Blessed art thou," He now says, "Get thee behind me, Satan;" because it was not of himself that he was blessed. But of what then? "For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven." See, this is how thou art blessed, not from anything that is thine own, but from that which is mine. Not that I am the Father, but that all things which the Father hath are mine. [971] But if his blessedness came from the Lord's own working, from whose [working] came he to be Satan? He there tells us: for He assigned the reason of such blessedness, when He said, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven:" that is the cause of thy blessedness. But that I said, "Get thee behind me, Satan, hear also its cause. For thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." Let no one then flatter himself: in that which is natural to himself he is Satan, in that which is of God he is blessed. For all that is of his own, whence comes it, but from his sin? Put away the sin, which is thine own. Righteousness, He saith, belongeth unto me. For what hast thou that thou didst not receive? [972] Accordingly, when men wished to give counsel to God, disciples to their Master, servants to their Lord, patients to their Physician, He reproved them by saying, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not." Follow me, if ye would not stumble: give not counsel to me, from whom you ought to receive it. To what, then, refer the words, "Are there not twelve hours in the day"? Just that to point Himself out as the day, He made choice of twelve disciples. If I am the day, He says, and you the hours, is it for the hours to give counsel to the day? The day is followed by the hours, not the hours by the day. If these, then, were the hours, what in such a reckoning was Judas? Was he also among the twelve hours? If he was an hour, he had light; and if he had light, how was the Day betrayed by him to death? But the Lord, in so speaking, foresaw, not Judas himself, but his successor. For Judas, when he fell, was succeeded by Matthias, and the duodenary number preserved. [973] It was not, then, without a purpose that the Lord made choice of twelve disciples, but to indicate that He Himself is the spiritual Day. Let the hours then attend upon the Day, let them preach the Day, be made known and illuminated by the Day, and by the preaching of the hours may the world believe in the Day. And so in a summary way it was just this that He said: Follow me, if ye would not stumble.

9. "And after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." It was true what He said. To his sisters he was dead, to the Lord he was asleep. He was dead to men, who could not raise him again; but the Lord aroused him with as great ease from the tomb as one arouseth a sleeper from his bed. Hence it was in reference to His own power that He spoke of him as sleeping: for others also, who are dead, are frequently spoken of in Scripture as sleeping; as when the apostle says, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope." [974] Therefore he also spoke of them as sleeping, because foretelling their resurrection. And so, all the dead are sleeping, both good and bad. But just as, in the case of those who sleep and waken day by day, there is a great difference as to what they severally see in their sleep: some experience pleasant dreams; others, dreams so frightful that the waking are afraid to fall asleep for fear of their recurrence: so every individual sleeps and wakens in circumstances peculiar to himself. And there is a difference as to the kind of custody one may be placed in, who is afterwards to be taken before the judge. For the kind of custody in which men are placed depends on the merits of the case: some are required to be guarded by lictors, an office humane and mild, and becoming a citizen; others are given up to subordinates; [975] some, again, are sent to prison: and in the prison itself all are not thrust together into its lowest dungeons, but dealt with in proportion to the merits and superior gravity of the charges. As, then, there are different kinds of custody among those engaged in official life, so there are different kinds of custody for the dead, and differing merits in those who rise again. The beggar was taken into custody, so was the rich man: but the one into Abraham's bosom; the other, where he thirsted, and found not a drop of water. [976]

10. Therefore, to make this the occasion of instructing your Charity, all souls have, when they quit this world, their different receptions. The good have joy; the evil, torments. But when the resurrection takes place, both the joy of the good will be fuller and the torments of the wicked heavier, when they shall be tormented in the body. The holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and good believers, have been received into peace; but all of them have still in the end to receive the fulfillment of the divine promises; for they have been promised also the resurrection of the flesh, the destruction of death, and eternal life with the angels. This we have all to receive together; for the rest, which is given immediately after death, every one, if worthy of it, receives when he dies. The patriarchs first received it--think only from what they rest; the prophets afterwards; more recently the apostles; still more lately the holy martyrs, and day by day the good and faithful. Thus some have now been in that rest for long, some not so long; others for fewer years, and others whose entrance therein is still less than recent. But when they shall wake from this sleep, they shall all together receive the fulfillment of the promise.

11. "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said His disciples"--according to their understanding they replied--"Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well." For the sleep of the sick is usually a sign of returning health. "Howbeit Jesus spake of his death, but they thought that He spake of the taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly,"--for He said somewhat obscurely, "He sleepeth;"--therefore He said plainly, "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe." I even know that he is dead, and I was not there: for he had been reported not as dead, but sick. But what could remain hid from Him who had created it, and into whose hands the soul of the dying man had departed? This is why He said, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe;" that they might now begin to wonder that the Lord could assert his death, which He had neither seen nor heard of. For here we ought specially to bear in mind that as yet the disciples themselves, who already believed in Him, had their faith built up by miracles: not that a faith, utterly wanting till then, might begin to exist; but that what had previously come into being might be increased; although He made use of such an expression as if only then they would begin to believe. For He said not, "I am glad for your sakes," that your faith may be increased or confirmed; but, "that ye may believe;" which is to be understood as meaning, that your faith may be fuller and more vigorous.

12. "Nevertheless, let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, who is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with Him. Therefore Jesus came, and found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already." Much might be said of the four days, according to the wont of the obscure passages of Scripture, which bear as many senses as there is diversity of those who understand them. Let us express also our opinion of what is meant by one four days dead. For as in the former case of the blind man we understand in a way the human race, so in the case of this dead man many perhaps are also to be understood; for one thing may be signified by different figures. When a man is born, he is born already in a state of death; for he inherits sin from Adam. Hence the apostle says: "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so that passed upon all men, wherein all have sinned." [977] Here you have one day of death because man inherits it from the seed stock of death. Thereafter he grows, and begins to approach the years of reason that he may know the law of nature, which every one has had implanted in his heart: What thou wouldst not have done to thyself, do not to another. Is this learned from the pages of a book, and not in a measure legible in our very nature? Hast thou any desire to be robbed? Certainly not. See here, then, the law in thy heart: What thou art unwilling to suffer, be unwilling to do. This law also is transgressed by men; and here, then, we have the second day of death. The law was also divinely given through Moses, the servant of God; and therein it is said, "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not bear false witness; honor thy father and mother; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's property; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife." [978] Here you have the written law, and it also is despised: this is the third day of death. What remains? The gospel also comes, the kingdom of heaven is preached, Christ is everywhere published; He threatens hell, He promises eternal life; and that also is despised. Men transgress the gospel; and this is the fourth day of death. Now he deservedly stinketh. But is mercy to be denied to such? God forbid; for to raise such also from the dead, the Lord thinks it not unfitting to come.

13. "And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat [still] in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee." She did not say, But even now I ask Thee to raise my brother to life again. For how could she know if such a resurrection would be of benefit to her brother? She only said, I know that Thou canst, and whatsoever Thou art pleased, Thou doest: for Thy doing it is dependent on Thine own judgment, not on my presumption. "But even now I know that, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee."

14. "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again." This was ambiguous. For He said not, Even now I will raise thy brother; but, "Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection, at the last day." Of that resurrection I am sure, but uncertain about this. "Jesus saith unto her, I am the resurrection." Thou sayest, My brother shall rise again at the last day: true; but by Him, through whom he shall rise then, can he rise even now, for "I," He says, "am the resurrection and the life." Give ear, brethren, give ear to what He says. Certainly the universal expectation of the bystanders was that Lazarus, one who had been dead four days, [979] would live again; let us hear, and rise again. How many are there in this audience who are crushed down under the weighty mass of some sinful habit! Perhaps some are hearing me to whom it may be said, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;" [980] and they say, We cannot. Some others, it may be, are hearing me, who are unclean, and stained with lusts and crimes, and to whom it is said, Refrain from such conduct, that ye perish not; and they reply, We cannot give up our habits. O Lord, raise them again. "I am," He says, "the resurrection and the life." The resurrection because the life.

15. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." What meaneth this? "He that believeth in me, though he were dead," just as Lazarus is dead, "yet shall he live;" for He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Such was the answer He gave the Jews concerning their fathers, long ago dead, that is, concerning Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto Him." [981] Believe then, and though thou wert dead, yet shalt thou live: but if thou believest not, even while thou livest thou art dead. Let us prove this likewise, that if thou believest not, though thou livest thou art dead. To one who was delaying to follow Him, and saying, "Let me first go and bury my father," the Lord said, "Let the dead bury their dead; but come thou and follow me." [982] There was there a dead man requiring to be buried, there were there also dead men to bury the dead: the one was dead in the flesh, the others in soul. And how comes death on the soul? When faith is wanting. How comes death on the body? When the soul is wanting. Therefore thy soul's soul is faith. "He that believeth in me," says Christ, though he were dead in the flesh, yet shall he live in the spirit; till the flesh also rise again, never more to die. This is "he that believeth in me," though he die, "yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth" in the flesh, "and believeth in me," though he shall die in time on account of the death of the flesh, "shall never die," because of the life of the spirit, and the immortality of the resurrection. Such is the meaning of the words, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who hast come into the world." When I believed this, I believed that Thou art the resurrection, that Thou art the life: I believed that he that believeth in Thee, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Thee, shall never die.

16. "And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister silently, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee." It is worthy of notice the way in which the whispering of her voice was denominated silence. For how could she be silent, when she said, "The Master is come, and calleth for thee"? It is also to be noticed why it is that the evangelist has not said where, or when, or how the Lord called for Mary; namely, that in order to preserve the brevity of the narrative, it may rather be understood from the words of Martha.

17. "As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto Him. For Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was still in that place where Martha met Him. The Jews, then, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily, and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave, to weep there." What cause had the evangelist to tell us this? To show us what it was that occasioned the numerous concourse of people to be there when Lazarus was raised to life. For the Jews, thinking that her reason for hastening away was to seek in weeping the solace of her grief, followed her; that the great miracle of one rising again who had been four days dead, might have the presence of many witnesses.

18. "Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping, who were with her, He groaned in the spirit, and troubled Himself, [983] and said, Where have ye laid him?" Something there is, did we but know it, that He has suggested to us by groaning in the spirit, and troubling Himself. For who could trouble Him, save He Himself? Therefore, my brethren, first give heed here to the power that did so, and then look for the meaning. Thou art troubled against thy will; Christ was troubled because He willed. Jesus hungered, it is true, but because He willed; Jesus slept, it is true, but because He willed; He was sorrowful, it is true, but because He willed; He died, it is true, but because He willed: in His own power it lay to be thus and thus affected or not. For the Word assumed soul and flesh, fitting on Himself our whole human nature in the oneness of His person. For the soul of the apostle was illuminated by the Word; so was the soul of Peter, the soul of Paul, of the other apostles, and the holy prophets,--the souls of all were illuminated by the Word; but of none was it said, "The Word was made flesh;" [984] of none was it said," I and the Father are one." [985] The soul and flesh of Christ is one person with the Word of God, one Christ. And by this [Word] wherein resided the supreme power, was infirmity made use of at the beck of His will; and in this way "He troubled Himself."

19. I have spoken of the power: look now to the meaning. It is a great criminal that is signified by that four days' death and burial. Why is it, then, that Christ troubleth Himself, but to intimate to thee how thou oughtest to be troubled, when weighed down and crushed by so great a mass of iniquity? For here thou hast been looking to thyself, been seeing thine own guilt, been reckoning for thyself: I have done this, and God has spared me; I have committed this, and He hath borne with me; I have heard the gospel, and despised it; I have been baptized, and returned again to the same course: what am I doing? whither am I going? how shall I escape? When thou speakest thus, Christ is already groaning; for thy faith is groaning. In the voice of one who groaneth thus, there comes to light the hope of his rising again. If such faith is within, there is Christ groaning; for if there is faith in us, Christ is in us. For what else says the apostle: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." [986] Therefore thy faith in Christ is Christ Himself in thy heart. This is why He slept in the ship; and why, when His disciples were in danger and already on the verge of shipwreck, they came to Him and awoke Him. Christ arose, laid His commands on the winds and waves, and there ensued a great calm. [987] So also with thee; the winds enter thy heart, that is, where thou sailest, where thou passest along this life as a stormy and dangerous sea; the winds enter, the billows rise and toss thy vessel. What are the winds? Thou hast received some insult, and art wroth: that insult is the wind; that anger, the waves. Thou art in danger, thou preparest to reply, to render cursing for cursing, and thy vessel is already nigh to shipwreck. Awake the Christ who is sleeping. For thou art in commotion, and making ready to render evil for evil, because Christ is sleeping in thy vessel. For the sleep of Christ in thy heart is the forgetfulness of faith. But if thou arousest Christ, that is, recallest thy faith, what dost thou hear said to thee by Christ, when now awake in thy heart? I [He says] have heard it said to me, "Thou hast a devil," [988] and I have prayed for them. The Lord hears and suffers; the servant hears and is angry! But thou wishest to be avenged. Why so? I am already avenged. When thy faith so speaks to thee, command is exercised, as it were, over the winds and waves, and there is a great calm. As, then, to awaken Christ in the vessel is just to awaken faith; so in the heart of one who is pressed down by a great mass and habit of sin, in the heart of the man who has been a transgressor even of the holy gospel and a despiser of eternal punishment, let Christ groan, let such a man betake himself to self-accusation. Hear still more: Christ wept; let man bemoan himself. For why did Christ weep, but to teach man to weep? Wherefore did He groan and trouble Himself, but to intimate that the faith of one who has just cause to be displeased with himself ought to be in a sense groaning over the accusation of wicked works, to the end that the habit of sinning may give way to the vehemence of penitential sorrow?

20. "And He said, Where have ye laid him?" Thou knewest that he was dead, and art Thou ignorant of the place of his burial? The meaning here is, that a man thus lost becomes, as it were, unknown to God. I have not ventured to say, Is unknown--for what is unknown to Him? but, As it were unknown. And how do we prove this? Listen to the Lord, who will yet say in the judgment, "I know you not: depart from me." [989] What does that mean, "I know you not"? I see you not in that light of mine--in that righteousness which I know. So here, also, as if knowing nothing of such a sinner, He said, "Where have ye laid him?" Similar in character was God's voice in Paradise after man had sinned: "Adam, where art thou?" [990] "They say unto Him, Lord, come and see." What means this "see"? Have pity. For the Lord sees when He pities. Hence it is said to Him, "Look upon my humility [affliction] and my pain, and forgive all my sins." [991]

21. "Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him!" "Loved him," what does that mean? "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." [992] "But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not die?" But He, who would do nought to hinder his dying, had something greater in view in raising him from the dead.

22. "Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself, cometh to the tomb." May His groaning have thee also for its object, if thou wouldst re-enter into life! Every man who lies in that dire moral condition has it said to him, "He cometh to the tomb." "It was a cave, and a stone had been laid upon it." Dead under that stone, guilty under the law. For you know that the law, which was given to the Jews, was inscribed on stone. [993] And all the guilty are under the law: the right-living are in harmony with the law. The law is not laid on a righteous man. [994] What mean then the words, "Take ye away the stone"? Preach grace. For the Apostle Paul calleth himself a minister of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; "for the letter," he says, "killeth, but the spirit giveth life." [995] The letter that killeth is like the stone that crusheth. "Take ye away," He saith, "the stone." Take away the weight of the law; preach grace. "For if there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness should be by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." [996] Therefore "take ye away the stone."

23. "Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days. [997] Jesus saith unto her, Have I not said unto thee, that, if thou believest, thou shalt see the glory of God?" What does He mean by this, "thou shalt see the glory of God"? That He can raise to life even one who is putrid and hath been four days [dead]. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [998] and, "Where sin abounded, grace also did superabound." [999]

24. "Then they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee, that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest me always: but because of the people that stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent me. And when He had thus spoken, He cried with a loud voice." He groaned, He wept, He cried with a loud voice. With what difficulty does one rise who lies crushed under the heavy burden of a habit of sinning! And yet he does rise: he is quickened by hidden grace within; and after that loud voice he riseth. For what followed? "He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And immediately he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with bandages; [1000] and his face was bound about with a napkin." Dost thou wonder how he came forth with his feet bound, and wonderest not at this, that after four days' interment he rose from the dead? In both events it was the power of the Lord that operated, and not the strength of the dead. He came forth, and yet still was bound. Still in his burial shroud, he has already come outside the tomb. What does it mean? While thou despisest [Christ], thou liest in the arms of death; and if thy contempt reacheth the lengths I have mentioned, thou art buried as well: but when thou makest confession, thou comest forth. For what is this coming forth, but the open acknowledgment thou makest of thy state, in quitting, as it were, the old refuges of darkness? But the confession thou makest is effected by God, when He crieth with a loud voice, or in other words, calleth thee in abounding grace. Accordingly, when the dead man had come forth, still bound; confessing, yet guilty still; that his sins also might be taken away, the Lord said to His servants: "Loose him, and let him go." What does He mean by such words? What soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [1001]

25. "Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done." All of the Jews who had come to Mary did not believe, but many of them did. "But some of them," whether of the Jews who had come, or of those who had believed, "went away to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done:" whether in the way of conveying intelligence, in order that they also might believe, or rather in the spirit of treachery, to arouse their anger. But whoever were the parties, and whatever their motive, intelligence of these events was carried to the Pharisees.

26. "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we?" But they did not say, Let us believe. For these abandoned men were more occupied in considering what evil they could do to effect His ruin, than in consulting for their own preservation: and yet they were afraid, and took counsel of a kind together. For "they said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles: if we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him; and the Romans shall come, and take away both our place and nation." They were afraid of losing their temporal possessions, and thought not of life eternal; and so they lost both. For the Romans, after our Lord's passion and entrance into glory, took from them both their place and nation, when they took the one by storm and transported the other: and now that also pursues them, which is said elsewhere, "But the children of the kingdom shall go into outer darkness." [1002] But this was what they feared, that if all believed on Christ, there would be none remaining to defend the city of God and the temple against the Romans; just because they had a feeling that Christ's teaching was directed against the temple itself and their own paternal laws.

27. "And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself; but being high priest that year, he prophesied." We are here taught that the Spirit of prophecy used the agency even of wicked men to foretell what was future; which, however, the evangelist attributes to the divine sacramental fact that he was pontiff, which is to say, the high priest. It may, however, be a question in what way he is called the high priest of that year, seeing that God appointed one person to be high priest, who was to be succeeded only at his death by another. But we are to understand that ambitious schemes and contentions among the Jews led to the appointment afterwards of more than one, and to their annual turn of service. For it is said also of Zacharias: "And it came to pass that, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord." [1003] From which it is evident that there were more than one, and that each had his turn: for it was lawful for the high priest alone to place the incense on the altar. [1004] And perhaps also there were several in actual service in the same year, who were succeeded next year by several others, and that it fell by lot to one of them to burn incense. What was it, then, that Caiaphas prophesied? "That Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." This is added by the evangelist; for Caiaphas prophesied only of the Jewish nation, in which there were sheep of whom the Lord Himself had said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [1005] But the evangelist knew that there were other sheep, which were not of this fold, but which had also to be brought, that there might be one fold and one shepherd. [1006] But this was said in the way of predestination; for those who were still unbelieving were as yet neither His sheep nor the children of God.

28. "Then, from that day forth, they took counsel together for to put Him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples." Not that there was any failure in His power, by which, had He only wished, He might have continued His intercourse with the Jews, and received no injury at their hands; but in His human weakness He furnished His disciples with an example of living, by which He might make it manifest that it was no sin in His believing ones, who are His members, to withdraw from the presence of their persecutors, and escape the fury of the wicked by concealment, rather than inflame it by showing themselves openly.

Footnotes

[961] Chap. xx. 30. [962] Chap. v. 28, 29. [963] Another reading of this sentence may be: "If we reflect, it is by a more wonderful work of Christ that every one who believeth rises again to life: if we reflect all, and understand, it is by a more horrible death that every sinner dieth." [964] Mark v. 41, 42. [965] Luke vii. 14, 15. [966] Luke vii. 37-47. Augustin is mistaken here, although his error has been followed by many ancient writers, and some in more recent times. The time, place, and circumstances make it impossible for the incident here referred to, to be the same as that which took place in Bethany immediately before our Lord's crucifixion. On that last occasion only was it Lazarus' sister, Mary, who anointed Jesus. Luke here speaks only of a woman that was a sinner, and there is little evidence to connect her with any of the other Scripture women, even with Mary of Magdala, as is often done, and who is first mentioned by Luke in a different connection in the following chapter (viii. 2).--Tr. [967] Chap. x. 39, 40. [968] Matt. viii. [969] Matt. ix. 13. [970] Matt. xvi. 16-23. [971] Chap. xvi. 15. [972] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [973] Acts i. 26. [974] 1 Thess. iv. 13. [975] Optionibus, assistants, underlings. In the mss., it is written, but incorrectly, optionibus; for Varro, Isidorus, and others think the optiones were so called ab optando, as being doubtless chosen as assistants to the decuriones and military adjutants. They were also attached to various offices: and hence there were artisan optiones, and those belonging to official or prison life, in which last signification they are used here; as also in Ambrose's works (Commentary on the Ephesians, chap. 4) in these words: "Nor did Paul and Silas delay to baptize the jailor (optionem carceris)." [976] Luke xvi. 22-24. [977] Rom. v. 12. [978] Ex. xx. 12-17. [979] That is (Augustin here would suggest the emblem) of one who was lying under the fourth and most terrible form of spiritual death referred to before.--Tr. [980] Eph. v. 18. [981] Matt. xxii. 32, and Luke xx. 37, 38. [982] Matt. viii. 21, 22. [983] As in margin of English Version. [984] Chap. i. 14. [985] Chap. x. 30. [986] Eph. iii. 17. [987] Matt. viii. 24-26. [988] Chap. vii. 30. [989] Matt. vii. 23. [990] Gen. iii. 9. [991] Ps. xxv. 18. [992] Matt. ix. 13. [993] Ex. xxxi. 18. [994] 1 Tim. i. 9. [995] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [996] Gal. iii. 21, 22. [997] Quatriduanus est. [998] Rom. iii. 23. [999] Rom. v. 20. [1000] Institis: Gr. keiriais. [1001] Matt. xvi. 19. [1002] Matt. viii. 12. [1003] Luke i. 8, 9. [1004] Ex. xxx. 7. [1005] Matt. xv. 24. [1006] Chap. x. 16.


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