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 L.

Chapter XI. 55-57; XII

1. Yesterday's lesson in the holy Gospel, on which we spake as the Lord enabled us, is followed by to-day's, on which we purpose to speak in the same spirit of dependence. Some passages in the Scriptures are so clear as to require a hearer rather than an expounder: over such we need not tarry, that we may have sufficient time for those which necessarily demand a fuller consideration.

2. "And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand." The Jews wished to have that feast-day crimsoned with the blood of the Lord. On it that Lamb was slain, who hath consecrated it as a feast-day for us by His own blood. There was a plot among the Jews about slaying Jesus: and He, who had come from heaven to suffer, wished to draw near to the place of His suffering, because the hour of His passion was at hand. Therefore "many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to sanctify themselves." The Jews did so in accordance with the command of the Lord delivered by holy Moses in the law, that on the feast-day of the passover all should assemble from every part of the land, and be sanctified in celebrating the services of the day. But that celebration was a shadow of the future. And why a shadow? It was a prophetic intimation of the Christ to come, a prophecy of Him who on that day was to suffer for us: that so the shadow might vanish and the light come; that the sign might pass away, and the truth be retained. The Jews therefore held the passover in a shadowy form, but we in the light. For what need was there that the Lord should command them to slay a sheep on the very day of the feast, save only because of Him it was prophesied, "He is led as a sheep to the slaughter"? [1007] The door-posts of the Jews were sealed with the blood of the slaughtered animal: with the blood of Christ are our foreheads sealed. And that sealing--for it had a real significance--was said to keep away the destroyer from the houses that were sealed: [1008] Christ's seal drives away the destroyer from us, if we receive the Saviour into our hearts. But why have I said this? Because many have their door-posts sealed while there is no inmate abiding within: they find it easy to have Christ's seal in the forehead, and yet at heart refuse admission to His word. Therefore, brethren, I have said, and I repeat it, Christ's seal driveth from us the destroyer, if only we have Christ as an inmate of our hearts. I have stated these things, lest any one's thoughts should be turning on the meaning of these festivals of the Jews. The Lord therefore came as it were to the victim's place, that the true passover might be ours, when we celebrated His passion as the real offering of the lamb.

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3. "Then sought they for Jesus:" but with evil intent. For happy are they who seek for Jesus in a way that is good. They sought for Him, with the intent that neither they nor we should have Him more: but in departing from them, He has been received by us. Some who seek Him are blamed, others who do so are commended; for it is the spirit animating the seeker that finds either praise or condemnation. Thence you have it also in the psalms, "Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul:" [1009] such are those who sought with evil purpose. But in another place he says, "Refuge hath failed me, and there is no one that seeketh after my soul." [1010] Those who sought, and those who did not, are blamed alike. Therefore let us seek for Christ, that He may be ours, that we may keep Him, and not that we may slay Him; for these men sought to get hold of Him, but only for the purpose of speedily getting quit of Him for ever. "Therefore they sought for Him, and spake among themselves: What think ye, that He will not come to the feast?"

4. "Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where He were, he should show it, that they might take Him." Let us for our parts show the Jews where Christ is. Would, indeed, that all the seed of those who had given commandment to have it shown them where Christ was, would but hear and apprehend! Let them come to the church and hear where Christ is, and take Him. They may hear it from us, they may hear it from the gospel. He was slain by their forefathers, He was buried, He rose again, He was recognized by the disciples, He ascended before their eyes into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of the Father; and He who was judged is yet to come as Judge of all: let them hear, and hold fast. Do they reply, How shall I take hold of the absent? how shall I stretch up my hand into heaven, and take hold of one who is sitting there? Stretch up thy faith, and thou hast got hold. Thy forefathers held by the flesh, hold thou with the heart; for the absent Christ is also present. But for His presence, we ourselves were unable to hold Him. But since His word is true, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world," [1011] He is away, and He is here; He has returned, and will not forsake us; for He has carried His body into heaven, but His majesty He has never withdrawn from the world. 5. "Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom Jesus raised from the dead. And there they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that reclined at the table." To prevent people thinking that the man had become a phantom, because he had risen from the dead, he was one of those who reclined at table; he was living, speaking, feasting: the truth was made manifest, and the unbelief of the Jews was confounded. The Lord, therefore, reclined at table with Lazarus and the others; and they were waited on by Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus.

6. But "Mary," the other sister of Lazarus, "took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment." Such was the incident, let us look into the mystery it imported. Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment was righteousness, and therefore it was [exactly] a pound weight: but it was ointment of pure nard [nardi pistici], very precious. From his calling it "pistici," [1012] we ought to infer that there was some locality from which it derived its preciousness: but this does not exhaust its meaning, and it harmonizes well with a sacramental symbol. The root of the word ["pure"] in the Greek is by us called "faith." Thou wert seeking to work righteousness: the just shall live by faith. [1013] Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord's footsteps. Wipe them with thy hair: what thou hast of superfluity, give to the poor, and thou hast wiped the feet of the Lord; for the hair seems to be the superfluous part of the body. Thou hast something to spare of thy abundance: it is superfluous to thee, but necessary for the feet of the Lord. Perhaps on this earth the Lord's feet are still in need. For of whom but of His members is He yet to say in the end, "Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of mine, ye did it unto me"? [1014] Ye spent what was superfluous for yourselves, but ye have done what was grateful to my feet.

7. "And the house was filled with the odor." The world is filled with the fame of a good character: for a good character is as a pleasant odor. Those who live wickedly and bear the name of Christians, do injury to Christ: of such it is said, that through them "the name of the Lord is blasphemed." [1015] If through such God's name is blasphemed, through the good the name of the Lord is honored. Listen to the apostle, when he says, "We are a sweet savor of Christ in every place." As it is said also in the Song of Songs, "Thy name is as ointment poured forth." [1016] Attend again to the apostle: "We are a sweet savor," he says, "of Christ in every place, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of life unto life, to the other the savor of death unto death: and who is sufficient for these things?" [1017] The lesson of the holy Gospel before us affords us the opportunity of so speaking of that savor, that we on our part may give worthy utterance, and you diligent heed, to what is thus expressed by the apostle himself, "And who is sufficient for these things?" But have we any reason to infer from these words that we are qualified to attempt speaking on such a subject, or you to hear? We, indeed, are not so; but He is sufficient, who is pleased to speak by us what it may be for your profit to hear. The apostle, you see, is, as he calls himself, "a sweet savor:" but that sweet savor is "to some the savor of life unto life, and to others the savor of death unto death;" and yet all the while "a sweet savor" in itself. For he does not say, does he, To some we are a sweet savor unto life, to others an evil savor unto death? He called himself a sweet savor, not an evil; and represented himself as the same sweet savor, to some unto life, to others unto death. Happy they who find life in this sweet savor! but what misery can be greater than theirs, to whom the sweet savor is the messenger of death?

8. And who is it, says some one, that is thus slain by the sweet savor? It is to this the apostle alludes in the words, "And who is sufficient for these things?" In what wonderful ways God brings it about that the good savor is fraught both with life to the good, and with death to the wicked; how it is so, so far as the Lord is pleased to inspire my thoughts (for it may still conceal a deeper meaning beyond my power to penetrate),--yet so far, I say, as my power of penetration has reached, you ought not to have the information withheld. The integrity of the Apostle Paul's life and conduct, his preaching of righteousness in word and exhibition of it in works, his wondrous power as a teacher and his fidelity as a steward, were everywhere noised abroad: he was loved by some, and envied by others. For he himself tells us in a certain place of some, that they preached Christ not sincerely, but of envy; "thinking," he says, "to add affliction to my bonds." But what does he add? "Whether in pretence or in truth, let Christ be preached." [1018] They preach who love me, they preach who hate me; in that good savor the former live, in it the others die: and yet by the preaching of both let the name of Christ be proclaimed, with this excellent savor let the world be filled. Hast thou been loving one whose conduct evidenced his goodness then in this good savor thou hast lived. Hast thou been envying such a one? then in this same savor thou hast died. But hast thou, pray, in thus choosing to die, converted this savor into an evil one? Turn from thine envious feelings, and the good savor will cease to slay thee.

9. And now, lastly, listen to what we have here, how this ointment was to some a sweet savor unto life, and to others a sweet savor unto death. When the pious Mary had rendered this grateful service to the Lord, straightway one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was yet to betray Him, said, "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?" Alas for thee, wretched man! the sweet savor hath slain thee. For the cause that led him so to speak is disclosed by the holy evangelist. But we, too, might have supposed, had not the real state of his mind been revealed in the Gospel, that the care of the poor might have induced him so to speak. Not so. What then? Hearken to a true witness: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the money bag, and bare [1019] what was put therein." Did he bear it about, or bear it away? For the common service he bore it, as a thief he bore it away.

10. Look now, and learn that this Judas did not become perverted only at the time when he yielded to the bribery of the Jews and betrayed his Lord. For not a few, inattentive to the Gospel, suppose that Judas only perished when he accepted money from the Jews to betray the Lord. It was not then that he perished, but he was already a thief, and a reprobate, when following the Lord; for it was with his body and not with his heart that he followed. He made up the apostolic number of twelve, but had no part in the apostolic blessedness: he had been made the twelfth in semblance, and on his departure, and the succession of another, the apostolic reality was completed, and the entireness of the number conserved. [1020] What lesson then, my brethren, did our Lord Jesus Christ wish to impress on His Church, when it pleased Him to have one castaway among the twelve, but this, that we should bear with the wicked, and refrain from dividing the body of Christ? Here you have Judas among the saints,--that Judas, mark you! who was a thief, yea--do not overlook it--not a thief of any ordinary type, but a thief and a sacrilegist: a robber of money bags, but of such as were the Lord's; of money bags, but of such as were sacred. If there is a distinction made in the public courts between such crimes as ordinary theft and peculation,--for by peculation we mean the theft of public property; and private theft is not visited with the same sentence as public,--how much more severe ought to be the sentence on the sacrilegious thief, who has dared to steal, not from places of any ordinary kind, but to steal from the Church? He who thieves from the Church, stands side by side with the castaway Judas. Such was this man Judas, and yet he went in and out with the eleven holy disciples. With them he came even to the table of the Lord: he was permitted to have intercourse with them, but he could not contaminate them. Of one bread did both Peter and Judas partake, and yet what communion had the believer with the infidel? Peter's partaking was unto life, but that of Judas unto death. For that good bread was just like the sweet savor. For as the sweet savor, so also does the good bread give life to the good, and bring death to the wicked. "For he that eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself:" [1021] "judgment to himself," not to thee. If, then, it is judgment to himself, not to thee, bear as one that is good with him that is evil, that thou mayest attain unto the rewards of the good, and be not hurled into the punishment of the wicked.

11. Lay to heart our Lord's example while living with man upon earth. Why had He a money bag, who was ministered unto by angels, save to intimate that His Church was destined thereafter to have her repository for money? Why gave He admission to a thief, save to teach His Church patiently to bear with thieves? But he who had formed the habit of abstracting money from the bag, did not hesitate for money received to sell the Lord Himself. But let us see what answer our Lord gave to such words. See, brethren: He does not say to him, Thou speakest so on account of thy thievishness. He knew him to be a thief, yet did not betray him, but rather endured him, and showed us an example of patience in tolerating the wicked in the Church. "Then said Jesus to him: Let her keep it against the day of my burial." [1022] He announced that His own death was at hand.

12. But what follows? "For the poor ye have always with you, but me ye will not have always." We can certainly understand, "the poor ye have always;" what He has thus said is true. When were the poor wanting in the Church? "But me ye will not have always;" what does He mean by this? How are we to understand, "Me ye will not have always"? Don't be alarmed: it was addressed to Judas. Why, then, did He not say, thou wilt have, but, ye will have? Because Judas is not here a unit. One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter's case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." [1023] If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven,--for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven:--if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas' person were represented the bad in the Church, then to these latter was it said, "But me ye will not have always." But what means the "not always;" and what, the "always"? If thou art good, if thou belongest to the body represented by Peter, thou hast Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar. Thou hast Christ now, but thou wilt have Him always; for when thou hast gone hence, thou wilt come to Him who said to the robber, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." [1024] But if thou livest wickedly, thou mayest seem to have Christ now, because thou enterest the Church, signest thyself with the sign of Christ, art baptized with the baptism of Christ, minglest thyself with the members of Christ, and approachest His altar: now thou hast Christ, but by living wickedly thou wilt not have Him always.

13. It may be also understood in this way: "The poor ye will have always with you, but me ye will not have always." The good may take it also as addressed to themselves, but not so as to be any source of anxiety; for He was speaking of His bodily presence. For in respect of His majesty, His providence, His ineffable and invisible grace, His own words are fulfilled, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." [1025] But in respect of the flesh He assumed as the Word, in respect of that which He was as the son of the Virgin, of that wherein He was seized by the Jews, nailed to the tree, let down from the cross, enveloped in a shroud, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in His resurrection, "ye will not have Him always." And why? Because in respect of His bodily presence He associated for forty days with His disciples, and then, having brought them forth for the purpose of beholding and not of following Him, He ascended into heaven, [1026] and is no longer here. He is there, indeed, sitting at the right hand of the Father; and He is here also, having never withdrawn the presence of His glory. In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, "Me ye will not have always." In this respect the Church enjoyed His presence only for a few days: now it possesses Him by faith, without seeing Him with the eyes. In whichever way, then, it was said, "But me ye will not have always," it can no longer, I suppose, after this twofold solution, remain as a subject of doubt.

14. Let us listen to the other few points that remain: "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead." They were drawn by curiosity, not by charity: they came and saw. Hearken to the strange scheming of human vanity. Having seen Lazarus as one raised from the dead,--for the fame of such a miracle of the Lord's had been accompanied everywhere with so much evidence of its genuineness, and it had been so openly performed, that they could neither conceal nor deny what had been done,--only think of the plan they hit upon. "But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus." O foolish consultation and blinded rage! Could not Christ the Lord, who was able to raise the dead, raise also the slain? When you were preparing a violent death for Lazarus, were you at the same time denuding the Lord of His power? If you think a dead man one thing, a murdered man another, look you only to this, that the Lord made both, and raised Lazarus to life when dead, and Himself when slain.

Footnotes

[1007] Isa. liii. 7. [1008] Ex. xii. 22, 23. [1009] Ps. xl. 14. [1010] Ps. cxlii. 4, marg. [1011] Matt. xxviii. 20. [1012] The full expression is nardi pistici pretiosi: Gr. "nardou pistikes polutimou:" pistikos from pistis, trustworthy, hence, genuine, pure;--though Aug. seems to indicate that it may also have had a geographical reference.--Tr. [1013] Rom. i. 17. [1014] Matt. xxv. 40. [1015] Rom. ii. 24. [1016] Song of Sol. i. 3. [1017] 2 Cor. ii. 14-16. [1018] Phil. i. 16, 18. [1019] "ebastazen," as used by John, may signify here, carried, bore, in a good sense; or carried off as a thief: for the latter sense, see chap. xx. 15.--Tr. [1020] Acts i. 26. [1021] 1 Cor. xi. 29. [1022] Augustin's words, sinite illam, ut in diem sepulturæae meæ servet illud, as rendered above, differ considerably from those of our English version, and are more difficult to understand; but they agree with by far the larger number of Greek mss., which read, ,'Aphes auten hina eis ten hemeran tou entaphiasmou mou terese auto. Our English version, "Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this," is taken from mss. which omit hina, and have tetereken instead of terese.--Tr. [1023] Matt. xvi. 19. [1024] Luke xxiii. 43. [1025] Matt. xxviii. 20. [1026] Acts i. 3, 9, 10. .


Tractate LI.

Chapter XII. 12-26

1. After our Lord's raising of one to life, who had been four days dead, to the utter amazement of the Jews, some of whom believed on seeing it, and others perished in their envy, because of that sweet savor which is unto life to some, and to others unto death; [1027] after He had sat down to meat with Lazarus--the one who had been dead and raised to life--reclining also at table, and after the pouring on His feet of the ointment which had filled the house with its odor; and after the Jews also had shown their own spiritual abandonment in conceiving the useless cruelty and the monstrously foolish and insane guilt of slaying Lazarus;--of all which we have spoken as we could, by the grace of the Lord, in previous discourses: let your Charity now notice how abundant before our Lord's passion was the fruit that appeared of His preaching, and how large was the flock of lost sheep of the house of Israel which had heard the Shepherd's voice.

2. For the Gospel, the reading of which you have just been listening to, says: "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord as the King of Israel." The branches of palm trees are laudatory emblems, significant of victory, because the Lord was about to overcome death by dying, and by the trophy of His cross to triumph over the devil, the prince of death. The exclamation used by the worshipping [1028] people is Hosanna, indicating, as some who know the Hebrew language affirm, rather a state of mind than having any positive significance; [1029] just as in our own tongue [1030] we have what are called interjections, as when in our grief we say, Alas! or in our joy, Ha! or in our admiration, O how fine! where O! expresses only the feeling of the admirer. Of the same class must we believe this word to be, as it has failed to find an interpretation both in Greek and Latin, like that other, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca." [1031] For this also is allowed to be an interjection, expressive of angry feelings.

3. But when it is said, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, [as] the King of Israel," by "in the name of the Lord" we are rather to understand "in the name of God the Father," although it might also be understood as in His own name, inasmuch as He is also Himself the Lord. As we find Scripture also saying in another place, "The Lord rained [upon Sodom fire] from the Lord." [1032] But His own words are a better guide to our understanding, when He saith, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: another will come in his own name, and him ye will receive." [1033] For the true teacher of humility is Christ, who humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. [1034] But He does not lose His divinity in teaching us humility; in the one He is the Father's equal, in the other He is assimilated to us. By that which made Him the equal of the Father, He called us into existence; and by that in which He is like unto us, He redeemed us from ruin.

4. These, then, were the words of praise addressed to Jesus by the multitude, "Hosanna: blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel." What a cross of mental suffering must the Jewish rulers have endured when they heard so great a multitude proclaiming Christ as their King! But what honor was it to the Lord to be King of Israel? What great thing was it to the King of eternity to become the King of men? For Christ's kingship over Israel was not for the purpose of exacting tribute, of putting swords into His soldiers' hands, of subduing His enemies by open warfare; but He was King of Israel in exercising kingly authority over their inward natures, in consulting for their eternal interests, in bringing into His heavenly kingdom those whose faith, and hope, and love were centred in Himself. Accordingly, for the Son of God, the Father's equal, the Word by whom all things were made, in His good pleasure to be King of Israel, was an act of condescension and not of promotion; a token of compassion, and not any increase of power. For He who was called on earth the King of the Jews, is in the heavens the Lord of angels.

5. "And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon." Here the account is briefly given: for how it all happened may be found at full length in the other evangelists. [1035] But there is appended to the circumstance itself a testimony from the prophets, to make it evident that He in whom was fulfilled all they read in Scripture, was entirely misunderstood by the evil-minded rulers of the Jews. Jesus, then, "found a young ass, and sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt." Among that people, then, was the daughter of Zion to be found; for Zion is the same as Jerusalem. Among that very people, I say, reprobate and blind as they were, was the daughter of Zion, to whom it was said, "Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt." This daughter of Zion, who was thus divinely addressed, was amongst those sheep that were hearing the Shepherd's voice, and in that multitude which was celebrating the Lord's coming with such religious zeal, and accompanying Him in such warlike array. To her was it said, "Fear not:" acknowledge Him whom thou art now extolling, and give not way to fear when He comes to suffering; for by the shedding of His blood is thy guilt to be blotted out, and thy life restored. But by the ass's colt, on which no man had ever sat (for so it is found recorded in the other evangelists), we are to understand the Gentile nations which had not received the law of the Lord; by the ass, on the other hand (for both animals were brought to the Lord), that people of His which came of the nation of Israel, and was already so far subdued as to recognize its Master's crib.

6. "These things understood not His disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified," that is, when He had manifested the power of His resurrection, "then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and they had done these things unto Him," that is, they did nothing else but what had been written concerning Him. In short, mentally comparing with the contents of Scripture what was accomplished both prior to and in the course of our Lord's passion, they found this also therein, that it was in accordance with the utterance of the prophets that He sat on an ass's colt.

7. "The people, therefore, that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the crowd also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle. The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves: Perceive ye that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after Him." Mob set mob in motion. [1036] "But why art thou, blinded mob that thou art, filled with envy because the world has gone after its Maker?"

8. "And there were certain Gentiles among them that had come up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus." Let us hearken to the Lord's reply. See how the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him; and yet those, too, were of the Jews who cried, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel." Here, then, were they of the circumcision and they of the uncircumcision, like two house walls running from different directions and meeting together with the kiss of peace, in the one faith of Christ. Let us listen, then, to the voice of the Cornerstone: "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified." Perhaps some one supposes here that He spake of Himself as glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see Him. Such is not the case. But He saw the Gentiles themselves in all nations coming to the faith after His own passion and resurrection, because, as the apostle says, "Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles should be come in." [1037] Taking occasion, therefore, from those Gentiles who desired to see Him, He announces the future fullness of the Gentile nations, and promises the near approach of the hour when He should be glorified Himself, and when, on its consummation in heaven, the Gentile nations should be brought to the faith. To this it is that the prediction pointed, "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth." [1038] Such is the fullness of the Gentiles, of which the apostle saith, "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, till the fullness of the Gentiles come in."

9. But the height of His glorification had to be preceded by the depth of His passion. Accordingly, He went on to add, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." But He spake of Himself. He Himself was the grain that had to die, and be multiplied; to suffer death through the unbelief of the Jews, and to be multiplied in the faith of many nations.

10. And now, by way of exhortation to follow in the path of His own passion, He adds, "He that loveth his life shall lose it," which may be understood in two ways: "He that loveth shall lose," that is, If thou lovest, be ready to lose; if thou wouldst possess life in Christ, be not afraid of death for Christ. Or otherwise, "He that loveth his life shall lose it." Do not love for fear of losing; love it not here, lest thou lose it in eternity. But what I have said last seems better to correspond with the meaning of the Gospel, for there follow the words, "And he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." So that when it is said in the previous clause, "He that loveth," there is to be understood in this world, he it is that shall lose it. "But he that hateth," that is, in this world, is he that shall keep it unto life eternal. Surely a profound and strange declaration as to the measure of a man's love for his own life that leads to its destruction, and of his hatred to it that secures its preservation! If in a sinful way thou lovest it, then dost thou really hate it; if in a way accordant with what is good thou hast hated it, then hast thou really loved it. Happy they who have so hated their life while keeping it, that their love shall not cause them to lose it. But beware of harboring the notion that thou mayest court self-destruction by any such understanding of thy duty to hate thy life in this world. For on such grounds it is that certain wrong-minded and perverted people, who, with regard to themselves, are murderers of a specially cruel and impious character, commit themselves to the flames, suffocate themselves in water, dash themselves against a precipice, and perish. This was no teaching of Christ's, who, on the other hand, met the devil's suggestion of a precipice with the answer, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." [1039] To Peter also He said, signifying by what death he should glorify God, "When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not;" [1040] --where He made it sufficiently plain that it is not by himself but by another that one must be slain who follows in the footsteps of Christ. And so, when one's case has reached the crisis that this condition is placed before him, either that he must act contrary to the divine commandment or quit this life, and that a man is compelled to choose one or other of the two by the persecutor who is threatening him with death, in such circumstances let him prefer dying in the love of God to living under His anger, in such circumstances let him hate his life in this world that he may keep it unto life eternal.

11. "If any man serve me, let him follow me." What is that, "let him follow me," but just, let him imitate me? "Because Christ suffered for us," says the Apostle Peter, "leaving us an example that we should follow His steps." [1041] Here you have the meaning of the words, "If any man serve me, let him follow me." But with what result? what wages? what reward? "And where I am," He says, "there shall also my servant be." Let Him be freely loved, that so the reward of the service done Him may be to be with Him. For where will one be well apart from Him, or when will one come to feel himself in an evil case in company with Him? Hear it still more plainly: "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor." And what will be the honor but to be with His Son? For of what He said before, "Where I am, there shall also my servant be," we may understand Him as giving the explanation, when He says here, "him will my Father honor." For what greater honor can await an adopted son than to be with the Only-begotten; not, indeed, as raised to the level of His Godhead, but made a partaker of His eternity?

12. But it becomes us rather to inquire what is to be understood by this serving of Christ to which there is attached so great a reward. For if we have taken up the idea that the serving of Christ is the preparation of what is needful for the body, or the cooking and serving up of food, or the mixing of drink and handing the cup to one at the supper table; this, indeed, was done to Him by those who had the privilege of His bodily presence, as in the case of Martha and Mary, when Lazarus also was one of those who sat at the table. But in that sort of way Christ was served also by the reprobate Judas; for it was he also who had the money bag; and although he had the exceeding wickedness to steal of its contents, yet it was he also who provided what was needful for the meal. [1042] And so also, when our Lord said to him, "What thou doest, do quickly," there were some who thought that He only gave him orders to make some needful preparations for the feast-day, or to give something to the poor. [1043] In no sense, therefore, was it of this class of servants that the Lord said, "Where I am, there shall also my servant be," and "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor;" for we see that Judas, who served in this way, became an object of reprobation rather than of honor. Why, then, go elsewhere to find out what this serving of Christ implies, and not rather see its disclosure in the words themselves? for when He said, "If any man serve me, let him follow me," He wished it to be understood just as if He had said, If any man doth not follow me, he serveth me not. And those, therefore, are the servants of Jesus Christ, who seek not their own things, but the things that are Jesus Christ's. [1044] For "let him follow me" is just this: Let him walk in my ways, and not in his own; as it is written elsewhere, "He that saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked." [1045] For he ought, if supplying food to the hungry, to do it in the way of mercy and not of boasting, seeking therein nothing else but the doing of good, and not letting his left hand know what his right hand doeth; [1046] in other words, that all thought of self-seeking should be utterly estranged from a work of charity. He that serveth in this way serveth Christ, and will have it rightly said to him, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of those who are mine, ye did it unto me." [1047] And thus doing not only those acts of mercy that pertain to the body, but every good work, for the sake of Christ (for then will all be good, because "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" [1048] ), he is Christ's servant even to that work of special love, which is to lay down his life for the brethren, for that were to lay it down also for Christ. For this also will He say hereafter in behalf of His members: Inasmuch as ye did it for these, ye have done it for me. And certainly it was in reference to such a work that He was also pleased to make and to style Himself a servant, when He says, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto [served], but to minister [serve], and to lay down His life for many." [1049] Every one, therefore, is the servant of Christ in the same way as Christ also is a servant. And he that serveth Christ in this way will be honored by His Father with the signal honor of being with His Son, and having nothing wanting to his happiness for ever.

13. Accordingly, brethren, when you hear the Lord saying, "Where I am, there shall also my servant be," do not think merely of good bishops and clergymen. But be yourselves also in your own way serving Christ, by good lives, by giving alms, by preaching His name and doctrine as you can; and every father of a family also, be acknowledging in this name the affection he owes as a parent to his family. For Christ's sake, and for the sake of life eternal, let him be warning, and teaching, and exhorting, and correcting all his household; let him show kindliness, and exercise discipline; and so in his own house he will be filling an ecclesiastical and kind of episcopal office, and serving Christ, that he may be with Him for ever. For even that noblest service of suffering has been rendered by many of your class; for many who were neither bishops nor clergy, but young men and virgins, those advanced in years with those who were not, many married persons both male and female, many fathers and mothers of families, have served Christ even to the laying down of their lives in martyrdom for His sake, and have been honored by the Father in receiving crowns of exceeding glory.

Footnotes

[1027] 2 Cor. ii. 15. [1028] Obsecrantis, literally suppliant, which is scarcely suitable to the context. [1029] The "some" here referred to by Augustin could scarcely have had a very extensive knowledge of the Hebrew language, as the word Hosanna, though left untranslated, as a well-known exclamation of the Jews in their religious services, is part of the same quotation from Psalm cxviii. (see vers. 25, 26) with the words that follow in the text. The sacred writers gave the nearest equivalent in Greek letters (;;osanna, Hosanna) of the Hebrew H+W+ShiJ+E+H+ N+uo# Save now!--Tr. [1030] In text, in lingua latina. [1031] Raca (Syriac R+oQ+#o, Chaldee R+J+Q+o#, Hebrew R+J+Q+, empty) was an insulting epithet of common use from an early period among the Babylonians, and in our Lord's day among the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine. It exactly answers to our idiot, or numskull, and is of frequent occurrence afterwards in the same sense in rabbinical writings.--Tr. [1032] Gen. xix. 24. [1033] Chap. v. 43. [1034] Phil. ii. 8. [1035] Matt. xxi. 1-16; Mark xi. 1-11; Luke xix. 29-48. [1036] Turba turbavit turbam. [1037] Rom. xi. 25. [1038] Ps. cviii. 5. [1039] Matt. iv. 7. [1040] Chap. xxi. 18, 19. [1041] 1 Pet. ii. 21. [1042] Chap. xii. 2-6. There is no ground in these verses for Augustin's notion that the expense of that supper was defrayed out of the funds in Judas' keeping. The whole account leaves the impression that it was provided by Lazarus and his sisters, although strictly speaking, epoiesan (ver. 2) leaves it undetermined.--Tr. [1043] Chap. xiii. 27, 29. [1044] Phil. ii. 21. [1045] 1 John ii. 6. [1046] Matt. vi. 3. [1047] Matt. xxv. 40. [1048] Rom. x. 4. [1049] Matt. xx. 28. .


Tractate LII.

Chapter XII. 27-36

1. After the Lord Jesus Christ, in the words of yesterday's lesson, had exhorted His servants to follow Him, and had predicted His own passion in this way, that unless a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit; and also had stirred up those who wished to follow Him to the kingdom of heaven, to hate their life in this world if their thought was to keep it unto life eternal,--He again toned down His own feelings to our infirmity and says, where our lesson to-day commenced, "Now is my soul [1050] troubled." Whence, Lord, was Thy soul troubled? He had, indeed, said a little before, "He that hateth his life [soul] in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." Dost thou then love thy life in this world, and is thy soul troubled as the hour approacheth when thou shalt leave this world? Who would dare affirm this of the soul [life] of the Lord? We rather it was whom He transferred unto Himself; He took us into His own person as our Head, and assumed the feelings of His members; and so it was not by any others He was troubled, but, as was said of Him when He raised Lazarus, "He was troubled in Himself." [1051] For it behoved the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, just as He has lifted us up to the heights of heaven, to descend with us also into the lowest depths of suffering.

2. I hear Him saying a little before, "The hour cometh that the Son of man should be glorified: if a corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth much fruit." I hear this also, "He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." Nor am I permitted merely to admire, but commanded to imitate, and so, by the words that follow, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be," I am all on fire to despise the world, and in my sight the whole of this life, however lengthened, becomes only a vapor; in comparison with my love for eternal things, all that is temporal has lost its value with me. And now, again, it is my Lord Himself, who by such words has suddenly transported me from the weakness that was mine to the strength that was His, that I hear saying, "Now is my soul troubled." What does it mean? How biddest Thou my soul follow Thee if I behold Thine own troubled? How shall I endure what is felt to be heavy by strength so great? What is the kind of foundation I can seek if the Rock is giving way? But methinks I hear in my own thoughts the Lord giving me an answer, saying, Thou shalt follow me the better, because it is to aid thy power of endurance that I thus interpose. Thou hast heard, as addressed to thyself, the voice of my fortitude; hear in me the voice of thy infirmity: I supply strength for thy running, and I check not thy hastening, but I transfer to myself thy causes for trembling, and I pave the way for thy marching along. O Lord our Mediator, God above us, man for us, I own Thy mercy! For because Thou, who art so great, art troubled through the good will of Thy love, Thou preservest, by the richness of Thy comfort, the many in Thy body who are troubled by the continual experience of their own weakness, from perishing utterly in their despair.

3. In a word, let the man who would follow learn the road by which he must travel. Perhaps an hour of terrible trial has come, and the choice is set before thee either to do iniquity or endure suffering; the weak soul is troubled, on whose behalf the invincible soul [of Jesus] was voluntarily troubled; set then the will of God before thine own. For notice what is immediately subjoined by thy Creator and thy Master, by Him who made thee, and became Himself for thy teaching that which He made; for He who made man was made man, but He remained still the unchangeable God, and transplanted manhood into a better condition. Listen, then, to what He adds to the words, "Now is my soul troubled." "And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name." He has taught thee here what to think of, what to say, on whom to call, in whom to hope, and whose will, as sure and divine, to prefer to thine own, which is human and weak. Imagine Him not, therefore, as losing aught of His own exalted position in wishing thee to rise up out of the depths of thy ruin. For He thought it meet also to be tempted by the devil, by whom otherwise He would never have been tempted, just as, had He not been willing, He would never have suffered; and the answers He gave to the devil are such as thou also oughtest to use in times of temptation. [1052] And He, indeed, was tempted, but not endangered, that He might show thee, when in danger through temptation, how to answer the tempter, so as not to be carried away by the temptation, but to escape its danger. But when He here said, "Now is my soul troubled;" and also when He says, "My soul is sorrowful, even unto death;" and "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" He assumed the infirmity of man, to teach him, when thereby saddened and troubled, to say what follows: "Nevertheless, Father, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." [1053] For thus it is that man is turned from the human to the divine, when the will of God is preferred to his own. But to what do the words "Glorify Thy name" refer, but to His own passion and resurrection? For what else can it mean, but that the Father should thus glorify the Son, who in like manner glorifieth His own name in the similar sufferings of His servants? Hence it is recorded of Peter, that for this cause He said concerning him, "Another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not," because He intended to signify "by what death he should glorify God." [1054] Therefore in him, too, did God glorify His name, because thus also does He glorify Christ in His members.

4. "Then came there a voice from heaven, [saying], I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." "I have both glorified it," before I created the world, "and I will glorify it again," when He shall rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. It may also be otherwise understood. "I have both glorified it,"--when He was born of the Virgin, when He exercised miraculous powers; when the Magi, guided by a star in the heavens, bowed in adoration before Him; when He was recognized by saints filled with the Holy Spirit; when He was openly proclaimed by the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove, and pointed out by the voice that sounded from heaven; when He was transfigured on the mount; when He wrought many miracles, cured and cleansed multitudes, fed so vast a number with a very few loaves, commanded the winds and the waves, and raised the dead;--"and I will glorify it again;" when He shall rise from the dead; when death shall have no longer dominion over Him; and when He shall be exalted over the heavens as God, and His glory over all the earth.

5. "The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes." He thereby showed that the voice made no intimation to Him of what He already knew, but to those who needed the information. And just as that voice was uttered by God, not on His account, but on that of others, so His soul was troubled, not on His own account, but voluntarily for the sake of others.

6. Look at what follows: "Now," He says, "is the judgment of the world." What, then, are we to expect at the end of time? But the judgment that is looked for in the end will be the judging of the living and the dead, the awarding of eternal rewards and punishment. Of what sort, then, is the judgment now? I have already, in former lessons, as far as I could, put you in mind, beloved, that there is a judgment spoken of, not of condemnation, but of discrimination; [1055] as it is written, "Judge me, O God, and plead [discern, discriminate] my cause against an unholy nation." [1056] And many are the judgments of God; as it is said in the psalm, "Thy judgments are a great deep." [1057] And the apostle also says, "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments!" [1058] To such judgments does that spoken of here by the Lord also belong, "Now is the judgment of this world;" while that judgment in the end is reserved, when the living and the dead shall at last be judged. The devil, therefore, had possession of the human race, and held them by the written bond of their sins as criminals amenable to punishment; he ruled in the hearts of unbelievers, and, deceiving and enslaving them, seduced them to forsake the Creator and give worship to the creature; but by faith in Christ, which was confirmed by His death and resurrection, and, by His blood, which was shed for the remission of sins, thousands of believers are delivered from the dominion of the devil, are united to the body of Christ, and under this great head are made by His one Spirit to spring up into new life as His faithful members. This it was that He called the judgment, this righteous separation, this expulsion of the devil from His own redeemed.

7. Attend, in short, to His own words. For just as if we had been inquiring what He meant by saying, "Now is the judgment of the world," He proceeded to explain it when He says, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out." What we have thus heard was the kind of judgment He meant. Not that one, therefore, which is yet to come in the end, when the living and dead shall be judged, some of them set apart on His right hand, and the others on His left; but that judgment by which "the prince of this world shall be cast out." In what sense, then, was he within, and whither did He mean that he was to be cast out? Was it this: That he was in the world. and was cast forth beyond its boundaries? For had He been speaking of that judgment which is yet to come in the end, some one's thoughts might have turned to that eternal fire into which the devil is to be cast with his angels, and all who belong to him;--that is, not naturally, but through moral delinquency; not because he created or begat them, but because he persuaded and kept hold of them: some one, therefore, might have thought that that eternal fire was outside the world, and that this was the meaning of the words, "he shall be cast out." But as He says, "Now is the judgment of this world," and in explanation of His meaning, adds, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out," we are thereby to understand what is now being done, and not what is to be, so long afterwards, at the last day. The Lord, therefore, foretold what He knew, that after His own passion and glorification, many nations throughout the whole world, in whose hearts the devil was an inmate, would become believers, and the devil, when thus renounced by faith, is cast out.

8. But some one says, Was he then not cast out of the hearts of the patriarchs and prophets, and the righteous of olden time? Certainly he was. How, then, is it said, "Now he shall be cast out"? How else can we think of it, but that what was then done in the case of a very few individuals, was now foretold as speedily to take place in many and mighty nations? Just as also that other saying, "For the Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified," [1059] may suggest a similar inquiry, and find a similar solution. For it was not without the Holy Spirit that the prophets predicted the events of the future; nor was it so that the aged Simeon and the widowed Anna knew by the Holy Spirit the infant Lord; [1060] and that Zacharias and Elisabeth uttered by the Holy Spirit so many predictions concerning Him, when He was not yet born, but only conceived. [1061] But "the Spirit was not yet given;" that is, with that abundance of spiritual grace which enabled those assembled together to speak in every language, [1062] and thus announce beforehand in the language of every nation the Church of the future: and so by this spiritual grace it was that nations were gathered into congregations, sins were pardoned far and wide, and thousands of thousands were reconciled unto God.

9. But then, says some one, since the devil is thus cast out of the hearts of believers, does he now tempt none of the faithful? Nay, verily, he does not cease to tempt. But it is one thing to reign within, another to assail from without; for in like manner the best fortified city is sometimes attacked by an enemy without being taken. And if some of his arrows are discharged, and reach us, the apostle reminds us how to render them harmless, when he speaks of the breastplate and the shield of faith. [1063] And if he sometimes wounds us, we have the remedy at hand. For as the combatants are told, "These things I write unto you, that ye sin not:" so those who are wounded have the sequel to listen to, "And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins." [1064] And what do we pray for when we say, "Forgive us our debts," but for the healing of our wounds? And what else do we ask, when we say, "Lead us not into temptation," [1065] but that he who thus lies in wait for us, or assails us from without, may fail on every side to effect an entrance, and be unable to overcome us either by fraud or force? Nevertheless, whatever engines of war he may erect against us, so long as he has no more a place in the heart that faith inhabits, he is cast out. But "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." [1066] Presume not, therefore, about yourselves, if you would not have the devil, who has once been cast out, to be recalled within.

10. On the other hand, let us be far from supposing that the devil is called in any such way the prince of the world, as that we should believe him possessed of power to rule over the heaven and the earth. The world is so spoken of in respect of wicked men, who have overspread the whole earth; just as a house is spoken of in respect to its inhabitants, and we accordingly say, It is a good house, or a bad house; not as finding fault with, or approving of, the erection of walls and roofs, but the morals either of the good or the bad within it. In a similar way, therefore, it is said, "The prince of this world;" that is, the prince of all the wicked who inhabit this world. The world is also spoken of in respect to the good, who in like manner have overspread the whole earth; and hence the apostle says, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." [1067] These are they out of whose hearts the prince of this world is ejected.

11. Accordingly, after saying, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out," He added, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things [1068] after me." And what "all" is that, but those out of which the other is ejected? But He did not say, All men, but "all things;" for all men have not faith. [1069] And, therefore, He did not allude to the totality of men, but to the creature in its personal integrity, that is, to spirit, and soul, and body; or all that which makes us the intelligent, living, visible, and palpable beings we are. For He who said, "Not a hair of your head shall perish," [1070] is He who draweth all things after Him. Or if by "all things" it is men that are to be understood, we can speak of all things that are foreordained to salvation: of all which He declared, when previously speaking of His sheep, that not one of them would be lost. [1071] And of a certainty all classes of men, both of every language and every age, and all grades of rank, and all diversities of talents, and all the professions of lawful and useful arts, and all else that can be named in accordance with the innumerable differences by which men, save in sin alone, are mutually separated, from the highest to the lowest, and from the king to the beggar, "all," He says, "will I draw after me;" that He may be their head, and they His members. But this will be, He adds, "if I be lifted up from the earth," that is, when I am lifted up; for He has no doubt of the future accomplishment of that which He came to fulfill. He here alludes to what He said before: "But if the corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth much fruit." For what else did He signify by His lifting up, than His suffering on the cross, an explanation which the evangelist himself has not omitted; for he has appended the words, "And this He said signifying what death He should die."

12. "The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? And who is this Son of man?" It had stuck to their memory that the Lord was constantly calling Himself the Son of man. For, in the passage before us, He does not say, If the Son of man be lifted up from the earth; but had called Himself so before, in the lesson which was read and expounded yesterday, when those Gentiles were announced who desired to see Him: "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified" (ver. 23). Retaining this, therefore, in their minds, and understanding what He now said, "When I am lifted up from the earth," of the death of the cross, they inquired of Him, and said, "We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?" For if it is Christ, He, they say, abideth for ever; and if He abideth for ever, how shall He be lifted up from the earth, that is, how shall He die through the suffering of the cross? For they understood Him to have spoken of what they themselves were meditating to do. And so He did not dissipate for them the obscurity of such words by imparting wisdom, but by stimulating their conscience.

13. "Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little [1072] light is in you." And by this it is you understand that Christ abideth for ever. "Walk, then, while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you." Walk, draw near, come to the full understanding that Christ shall both die and shall live for ever; that He shall shed His blood to redeem us, and ascend on high to carry His redeemed along with Him. But darkness will come upon you, if your belief in Christ's eternity is of such a kind as to refuse to admit in His case the humiliation of death. "And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth." So may he stumble on that stone of stumbling and rock of offence which the Lord Himself became to the blinded Jews: just as to those who believed, the stone which the builders despised was made the head of the corner. [1073] Hence, they thought Christ unworthy of their belief; because in their impiety they treated His dying with contempt, they ridiculed the idea of His being slain: and yet it was the very death of the grain of corn that was to lead to its own multiplication, and the lifting up of one who was drawing all things after Him. "While ye have the light," He adds, "believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." While you have possession of some truth that you have heard, believe in the truth, that you may be born again in the truth.

14. "These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them." Not from those who had begun to believe and to love Him, nor from those who had come to meet Him with branches of palm trees and songs of praise; but from those who saw and hated Him, for they saw Him not, but only stumbled on that stone in their blindness. But when Jesus hid Himself from those who desired to slay Him (as you need from forgetfulness to be often reminded), He had regard to our human weakness, but derogated not in aught from His own authority.

Footnotes

[1050] The word anima used here, and frequently elsewhere, and corresponding to the Greek psuche, denotes "human life," in reference to its internal principle or substance; and differs from "vita" (Gr. zoe), as in the words following above, "unto eternal life" (vitam), which expresses rather the general idea of life in its existence, aggregate qualities, and duration. Our English word "soul," which best corresponds with anima, is, however, more restricted in the idea which it popularly suggests; and hence, as in our English version of the Scriptures, the apparent confusion, which is unavoidable, in translating anima sometimes by "soul" and sometimes by "life."--Tr. [1051] Chap. xi. 33: literally, as in margin of English Bible, "He troubled Himself." [1052] Matt. iv. 1-10. [1053] Matt. xxvi. 38, 39. [1054] Chap. xxi. 18, 19. [1055] Or, discernment, discretio; see Tract. XLIII. sec. 9. [1056] Ps. xliii. 1. [1057] Ps. xxxvi. 6. [1058] Rom. xi. 33. [1059] Chap. vii. 39. [1060] Luke ii. 25-38. [1061] Luke i. 41-45, 67-69. [1062] Acts ii. 4-6. [1063] 1 Thess. v. 8. [1064] 1 John ii. 1, 2. [1065] Matt. vi. 12, 13. [1066] Ps. cxxvii. 1. [1067] 2 Cor. v. 19. [1068] There are here two readings in the Greek mss., pantas (all men), and panta (all things), of which the former seems now the better approved; but the latter is that adopted by Augustin and the Vulgate.--Tr. [1069] 2 Thess. iii. 2. [1070] Luke xxi. 18. [1071] Chap. x. 28. [1072] Modicum lumen. [1073] 1 Pet. ii. 6-8. .


Tractate LIII.

Chapter XII. 37-43

1. When our Lord Christ, foretelling His own passion, and the fruitfulness of His death in being lifted up on the cross, said that He would draw all [things] after Him; and when the Jews, understanding that He spake of His death, put to Him the question how He could speak of death as awaiting Him, when they heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; He exhorted them, while still they had in them the little light, which had so taught them that Christ was eternal, to walk, to make themselves acquainted with the whole subject, lest they should be overtaken with darkness. And, when He had said this, He hid Himself from them. With these points you have been made acquainted in former Lord's day lessons and discourses.

2. The evangelist thereafter brings forward what has formed the brief subject of to-day's reading, and says, "But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Where he makes it sufficiently plain that the Son of God is Himself the arm of the Lord; not that the person of God the Father is determined by the shape of human flesh, and that the Son is attached to Him as a member of His body; but because all things were made by Him, and therefore He is designated the arm of the Lord. For as it is with thine arm that thou workest, so the Word of God is styled His arm; because by the Word He elaborated the world. For why does a man, in order to do some work, stretch forth his arm, but because the doing of it does not straightway follow his word? And if he was endowed with such pre-eminent power that what he said was done without any movement of his body, then would his word be his arm. But the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God the Father, as He is no mere member of the Father's body, so is He no mere thinkable, and audible, and transitory word; for, as all things were made by Him, He was the word of God.

3. When, therefore, we hear that the Son of God is the arm of God the Father, let no carnal custom raise its distracting din in our ears; but as far as His grace enables us, let us think of that power and wisdom of God by which all things were made. Surely such an arm as that is neither held out by stretching, nor drawn in by contracting it. For He is not one and the same with the Father, but He and the Father are one; and as equal with the Father, He is in all respects complete, as well as the Father: so that no room is left open for the abominable error of those who assert that the Father alone exists, but according to the difference of causes is Himself sometimes called the Son, sometimes the Holy Spirit; and so also from these words may venture to say, See you perceive that the Father alone exists, if the Son is His arm: for a man and his arm are not two persons, but one. Not understanding nor considering how words are transferred from one thing to another, on account of some mutual likeness, even in our daily forms of speech about things the most familiar and visible; and how much the more must it be so, in order that things ineffable may find some sort of expression in our speech, things which, as they really exist, cannot be expressed in words at all? For even one man styles another his arm, by whom he is accustomed to transact his business: and if he is deprived of him, he says in his grief, I have lost my arm; and to him who has taken him away, he says, You have deprived me of my arm. Let them understand, then, the sense in which the Son is termed the arm of the Father, as that by which the Father hath executed all His works; that they may not, by failing to understand this, and continuing in the darkness of their error, resemble those Jews of whom it was said, "And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?"

4. And here we meet with the second question, to treat of which, indeed, in any adequate manner, to investigate all its mysterious windings, and throw them open to the light in a befitting way, I think within the scope neither of my own powers, nor of the shortness of the time, nor of your capacity. Yet, as we cannot allow ourselves so far to disappoint your expectations as to pass on to other topics without saying something on this, take what we shall be able to offer you: and wherein we fail to satisfy your expectations, ask the increase of Him who appointed us to plant and to water; for, as the apostle saith, "Neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." [1074] There are some, then, who mutter among themselves, and sometimes speak out when they can, and even break forth into turbulent debate, saying: What did the Jews do, or what fault was it of theirs, if it was a necessity "that the saying of Isaiah the prophet should be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" To whom our answer is, that the Lord, in His foreknowledge of the future, foretold by the prophet the unbelief of the Jews; He foretold it, but did not cause it. For God does not compel any one to sin simply because He knows already the future sins of men. For He foreknew sins that were theirs, not His own; sins that were referable to no one else, but to their own selves. Accordingly, if what He foreknew as theirs is not really theirs, then had He no true foreknowledge: but as His foreknowledge is infallible, it is doubtless no one else, but they themselves, whose sinfulness God foreknew, that are the sinners. The Jews, therefore, committed sin, with no compulsion to do so on His part, to whom sin is an object of displeasure; but He foretold their committing of it, because nothing is concealed from His knowledge. And accordingly, had they wished to do good instead of evil, they would not have been hindered; but in this which they were to do they were foreseen of Him who knows what every man will do, and what He is yet to render unto such an one according to his work.

5. But the words of the Gospel also, that follow, are still more pressing, and start a question of more profound import: for He goes on to say, "Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." For it is said to us: If they could not believe, what sin is it in man not to do what he cannot do and if they sinned in not believing, then they had the power to believe, and did not use it. If, then, they had the power, how says the Gospel, "Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart;" so that (which is of grave import) to God Himself is referred the cause of their not believing, inasmuch as it is He who "hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart"? For what is thus testified to in the prophetical Scriptures, is at least not spoken of the devil, but of God. For were we to suppose it said of the devil, that he "hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart;" we have to undertake the task of being able to show what blame was theirs in not believing, of whom it is said, "they could not believe." And then, what reply shall we give touching another testimony of this very prophet, which the Apostle Paul has adopted, when he says: "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded, according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of remorse, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day"? [1075]

6. Such, as you have just heard, brethren, is the question that comes before us, and you can perceive how profound it is; but we shall give what answer we can. "They could not believe," because that Isaiah the prophet foretold it; and the prophet foretold it because God foreknew that such would be the case. But if I am asked why they could not, I reply at once, because they would not; for certainly their depraved will was foreseen by God, and foretold through the prophet by Him from whom nothing that is future can be hid. But the prophet, sayest thou, assigns another cause than that of their will. What cause does the prophet assign? That "God hath given them the spirit of remorse, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; and hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart." This also, I reply, their will deserved. For God thus blinds and hardens, simply by letting alone and withdrawing His aid: and God can do this by a judgment that is hidden, although not by one that is unrighteous. This is a doctrine which the piety of the God-fearing ought to preserve unshaken and inviolable in all its integrity: even as the apostle, when treating of the same intricate question, says, "What shall we say then? is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." [1076] If, then, we must be far from thinking that there is unrighteousness with God, this only can it be, that, when He giveth His aid, He acteth mercifully; and, when He withholdeth it, He acteth righteously: for in all He doeth, He acteth not rashly, but in accordance with judgment. And still further, if the judgments of the saints are righteous, how much more those of the sanctifying and justifying God? They are therefore righteous, although hidden. Accordingly, when questions of this sort come before us, why one is dealt with in such a way, and another in such another way; why this one is blinded by being forsaken of God, and that one is enlightened by the divine aid vouchsafed to him: let us not take upon ourselves to pass judgment on the judgment of so mighty a judge, but tremblingly exclaim with the apostle, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" [1077] As it is also said in the psalm, "Thy judgments are as a great deep." [1078]

7. Let not then, brethren, the expectations of your Charity drive me to attempt the task of penetrating into such a deep, of sounding such an abyss, of searching into what is unsearchable. I own my own little measure of ability, and I think I have some perception of yours also, as equally small. This is too high for my stature, and too strong for my strength; and for yours also, I think. Let us, therefore, listen together to the admonition and to the words of Scripture: "Seek not out the things that are too high for thee, neither search the things that are above thy strength." [1079] Not that such things are forbidden us, since the divine Master saith, "There is nothing hid that shall not be revealed:" [1080] but if we walk up to the measure of our present attainments, then, as the apostle tells us, not only what we know not and ought to know, but also if we are minded to know anything else, God will reveal even this unto us. [1081] But if we have reached the pathway of faith, let us keep to it with all constancy: let it be our guide to the chamber of the King, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [1082] For it was in no spirit of grudging that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself acted towards those great and specially chosen disciples of His, when He said, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." [1083] We must be walking, making progress, and growing, that our hearts may become fit to receive the things which we cannot receive at present. And if the last day shall find us sufficiently advanced, we shall then learn what here we were unable to know.

8. If, however, any one considers himself able, and has confidence enough, to give a clearer and better exposition of the question before us, God forbid that I should not be still more ready to learn than to teach. Only let no one dare to defend the freedom of the will in any such way as to attempt depriving us of the prayer that says, "Lead us not into temptation;" and, on the other hand, let no one deny the freedom of the will, and so venture to find an excuse for sin. But let us give heed to the Lord, both in commanding and in offering His aid; in both telling us our duty, and assisting us to discharge it. For some He hath let be lifted up to pride through an overweening trust in their own wills, while others He hath let fall into carelessness through a contrary excess of distrust. The former say: Why do we ask God not to let us be overcome by temptation, when it is all in our own power? The latter say: Why should we try to live well, when the power to do so is in the hands of God? O Lord, O Father, who art in heaven, lead us not into any of these temptations; but "deliver us from evil!" [1084] Listen to the Lord, when He says, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not;" [1085] that we may never think of our faith as so lying in our free will that it has no need of the divine assistance. Let us listen also to the evangelist, when he says, "He hath given them power to become the sons of God;" [1086] that we may not imagine it as altogether beyond our own power that we believe: but in both let us acknowledge His beneficent acting. For, on the one side, we have to give Him thanks that the power is bestowed; and on the other, to pray that our own little strength may not utterly fail. It is this very faith that worketh by love, [1087] according to the measure thereof that the Lord hath given to every man; [1088] that he that glorieth may glory, not in himself, but in the Lord. [1089]

9. It is no wonder, then, that they could not believe, when such was their pride of will, that, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, they wished to establish their own: as the apostle says of them, "They have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." [1090] For it was not by faith, but as it were by works, that they were puffed up; and blinded by this very self-elation, they stumbled against the stone of stumbling. And so it is said, "they could not," by which we are to understand that they would not; in the same way as it was said of the Lord our God, "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself." [1091] It is said of the Omnipotent, "He cannot." And so, just as it is a commendation of the divine will that the Lord "cannot deny Himself," that they "could not believe" is a fault chargeable on the will of man.

10. And, look you! so also say I, that those who have such lofty ideas of themselves as to suppose that so much must be attributed to the powers of their own will, that they deny their need of the divine assistance in order to a righteous life, cannot believe on Christ. For the mere syllables of Christ's name, and the Christian sacraments, are of no profit, where faith in Christ is itself resisted. For faith in Christ is to believe in Him that justifieth the ungodly; [1092] to believe in the Mediator, without whose interposition we cannot be reconciled unto God; to believe in the Saviour, who came to seek and to save that which was lost; [1093] to believe in Him who said, "Without me ye can do nothing." [1094] Because, then, being ignorant of that righteousness of God that justifieth the ungodly, he wishes to set up his own to satisfy the minds of the proud, such a man cannot believe on Christ. And so, those Jews "could not believe:" not that men cannot be changed for the better; but so long as their ideas run in such a direction, they cannot believe. Hence they are blinded and hardened; for, denying the need of divine assistance, they are not assisted. God foreknew this regarding these Jews who were blinded and hardened, and the prophet by His Spirit foretold it.

11. But when he added, "And they should be converted, and I should heal them," is there a "not" to be understood, that is, they should not be converted, connecting it with the clause before, where it is said, "that they should not see with their eyes and understand with their heart;" for here also it is certainly meant, "and should not understand"? For conversion itself is likewise a gift of His grace, as when it is said to Him, "Turn us, O God of Hosts." [1095] Or may it be that we are to understand this also as actually taking place through the merciful experience of the divine method of healing, [namely this,] that, being of proud and perverse wills, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, they were left alone for the very purpose of being blinded; and thus blinded in order that they might stumble on the stone of stumbling, and have their faces filled with shame; and so, being thus humbled, might seek the name of the Lord, and no longer a righteousness of their own, that inflated their pride, but the righteousness of God, that justifieth the ungodly? For this very way turned out to the good of many of them, who were afterwards filled with remorse for wickedness, and believed on Christ; and on whose behalf He Himself had put up the prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." [1096] And it is of that ignorance of theirs also that the apostle says, "I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge:" for he then goes on also to add, "For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." [1097]

12. "These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him." What Isaiah saw, and how it refers to Christ the Lord, are to be read and learned in his book. For he saw Him, not as He is, but in some symbolical way to suit the form that the vision of the prophet had itself to assume. For Moses likewise saw Him, and yet we find him saying to Him whom he saw, "If I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thyself, that I may clearly see Thee;" [1098] for he saw Him not as He is. But the time when this shall yet be our experience, that same Saint John the Evangelist tells us in his Epistle: "Dearly beloved, [now] are we the sons of God; and it hath not yet become manifest what we shall be: because we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." [1099] He might have said "for we shall see Him," without adding "as He is;" but because he knew that He was seen of some of the fathers and prophets, but not as He is, therefore after saying "we shall see Him," he added "as He is." And be not deceived, brethren, by any of those who assert that the Father is invisible, and the Son visible. This assertion is made by those who think that the latter is a creature, and whose understanding runs not in harmony with the words, "I and my Father one." [1100] Accordingly, as respects the form of God wherein He is equal with the Father, the Son also is invisible: but, in order to be seen of men, He assumed the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, [1101] became visible to man. He showed Himself, therefore, even before His incarnation, to the eyes of men, as it pleased Him, in the creature-form at His command, but not as He is. Let us be purifying our hearts by faith, that we may be prepared for that ineffable and, so to speak, invisible vision. For "blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." [1102]

13. "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but, because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God." See how the evangelist marked and disapproved of some, who yet, he said, believed on Him: who, if ever they did advance though this gateway of faith, would thereby also overcome that love of human glory which had been overcome by the apostle, when he said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." [1103] For to this end also did the Lord Himself, when derided by the madness of human pride and impiety, fix His cross on the foreheads of those who believed on Him, on that which is in a manner the abode of modesty, that faith may learn not to blush at His name, and love the glory of God more than the glory of men.

Footnotes

[1074] 1 Cor. iii. 7. [1075] Rom. xi. 7; Isa. vi. 10; "spirit of remorse," as in margin of English Bible, where the text has "blindness."--Tr. [1076] Rom. ix. 14. [1077] Rom. xi. 33. [1078] Ps. xxxvi. 6. [1079] Ecclus. iii. 22 (21). [1080] Matt. x. 26. [1081] Phil. iii. 15, 16. [1082] Col. ii. 3. [1083] Chap. xvi. 12. [1084] Matt. vi. 13. [1085] Luke xxii. 32. [1086] Chap. i. 12. [1087] Gal. v. 6. [1088] Rom. xii. 3. [1089] 1 Cor. i. 31. [1090] Rom. x. 3. [1091] 2 Tim. ii. 13. [1092] Rom. iv. 5. [1093] Luke xix. 10. [1094] Chap. xv. 5. [1095] Ps. lxxx. 7. [1096] Luke xxiii. 34. [1097] Rom. x. 2, 3. [1098] Ex. xxxiii. 13. [1099] 1 John iii. 2. [1100] Chap. x. 30. [1101] Phil. ii. 7. [1102] Matt. v. 8. [1103] Gal. vi. 14. .


Tractate LIV.

Chapter XII. 44-50

1. Whilst our Lord Jesus Christ was speaking among the Jews, and giving so many miraculous signs, some believed who were foreordained to eternal life, and whom He also called His sheep; but some did not believe, and could not believe, because that, by the mysterious yet not unrighteous judgment of God, they had been blinded and hardened, because forsaken of Him who resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. [1104] But of those who believed, there were some whose confession went so far, that they took branches of palm trees, and met Him as He approached, turning in their joy that very confession into a service of praise: while there were others, belonging to the chief rulers, who had not the boldness to confess their faith, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; and whom the evangelist has branded with the words, that "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God "(ver. 43). Of those also who did not believe, there were some who would afterwards believe, and whom He foresaw, when He said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye acknowledge that I am He:" [1105] but there were some who would remain in the same unbelief, and be imitated by the Jewish nation of the present day, which, being shortly afterwards crushed in war, according to the prophetic testimony which was written concerning Christ, has since been scattered almost through the whole world.

2. While matters were in this state, and His own passion was now at hand, "Jesus cried, and said," as our lesson to-day commences, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me; and he that seeth me, seeth Him that sent me." He had already said in a certain place, "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me." [1106] Where we understood that He called His doctrine just what He is Himself, the Word of the Father; and in saying, "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me," implied this, that He was not of Himself, but had His being from another. [1107] For He was God of God, the Son of the Father: but the Father is not God of God, but God, the Father of the Son. And now when He says, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me," how else are we to understand it, but that He appeared as man to men, while He remained invisible as God? And that none might think that He was no more than what they saw of Him, He indicated His wish to be believed on, as equal in character and rank with the Father, when He said, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me," that is, merely on what he seeth of me, "but on Him that sent me," that is, on the Father. But he that believeth on the Father, must believe that He is the Father; and he that believeth on Him as the Father, must believe that He has a Son; and in this way, he that believeth on the Father, must believe on the Son. But let no one believe about the only-begotten Son just what they believe about those who are called the sons of God by grace and not by nature, as the evangelist says, "He gave them power to become the sons of God," [1108] and according to what the Lord Himself also mentioned, as declared in the law, "I said, Ye are gods; and all of you children of the Most High:" [1109] because He said, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me," to show that the whole extent of our faith in Christ should not be limited by His manhood. He therefore, He saith, believeth on me, who doth not believe on me merely according to what he seeth of me, but on Him that sent me: so that, believing thus on the Father, he may believe that He has a Son co-equal with Himself, and then attain to a true faith in me. For if one should think that He has sons only according to grace, who are certainly no more than His creatures, and not the Word, but those made by the Word, and that He has no Son co-equal and co-eternal with Himself, ever born, alike incommutable, in nothing dissimilar and inferior, then he believes not on the Father who sent Him, for the Father who sent Him is no such conception as this.

3. And, accordingly, after saying, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me," that it might not be thought that He would have the Father so understood, as if He were the Father only of many sons regenerated by grace, and not of the only-begotten Word, His own co-equal, He immediately added, "And he that seeth me, seeth Him that sent me." Does He say here, He that seeth me, seeth not me, but Him that sent me, as He had said, "He that believeth me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me"? For He uttered the former of these words, that He might not be believed on merely as He then appeared, that is, as the Son of man; and the latter, that He might be believed on as the equal of the Father. He that believeth on me, believeth not merely on what He sees of me, but believeth on Him that sent me. Or, when he believeth on the Father, who begat me, His own co-equal, let him believe on me, not as he seeth me, but as [he believeth] on Him that sent me; for so far does the truth, that there is no distance between Him and me, reach, that He who seeth me, seeth Him that sent me. Certainly, Christ the Lord Himself sent His apostles, as their name implies: for as those who in Greek are called angeli are in Latin called nuntii [messengers], so the Greek apostoli [apostles] becomes the Latin missi [persons sent]. But never would any of the apostles have dared to say, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me;" for in no sense whatever would he say, "He that believeth on me." We believe an apostle, but we do not believe on him; for it is not an apostle that justifieth the ungodly. But to him that believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [1110] An apostle might say, He that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me; or, He that heareth me, heareth Him that sent me; for the Lord tells them so Himself: "He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me." [1111] For the master is honored in the servant, and the father in the son: but then the father is as it were in the son, and the master as it were in the servant. But the only-begotten Son could rightly say, "Believe on God, and believe on me;" [1112] as also what He saith here, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me." He did not turn away the faith of the believer from Himself, but only would not have the believer continue in the form of a servant: because every one who believeth in the Father that sent Him, straightway believeth on the Son, without whom he knoweth that the Father hath no existence as such, and thus reacheth in his faith to the belief of His equality with the Father, in conformity with the words that follow, "And he that seeth me, seeth Him that sent me."

4. Attend to what follows: "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." He said in a certain place to His disciples, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; that it may give light to all that are in the house: so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven:" [1113] but He did not say to them, Ye are come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on you should not abide in darkness. Such a statement, I maintain, can nowhere be met with. All the saints, therefore, are lights, but they are illuminated by Him through faith; and every one that becomes separated from Him will be enveloped in darkness. But that Light, which enlightens them, cannot become separated from itself; for it is altogether beyond the reach of change. We believe, then, the light that has thus been lit, as the prophet or apostle: but we believe him for this end, that we may not believe on that which is itself enlightened, but, with him, on that Light which has given him light; so that we, too, may be enlightened, not by him, but, along with him, by the same Light as he. And when He saith, "That whosoever believeth on me may not abide in darkness," He makes it sufficiently manifest that all have been found by Him in a state of darkness: but that they may not abide in the darkness wherein they have been found, they ought to believe on that Light which hath come into the world, for thereby was the world created.

5. "And if any man," He says, "hear my words, and keep them not, I judge him not." Remember what I know you have heard in former lessons; and if any of you have forgotten, recall it: and those of you who were absent then, but are present now, hear how it is that the Son saith, "I judge him not," while in another place He says, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;" [1114] namely, that thereby we are to understand, It is not now that I judge him. And why not now? Listen to the sequel: "For I am not come," He says, "to judge the world, but to save the world;" that is, to bring the world into a state of salvation. Now, therefore, is the season of mercy, afterwards will be the time for judgment: for He says, "I will sing to Thee, O Lord, of mercy and judgment." [1115]

6. But see also what He says of that future judgment in the end: "He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." He says not, He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, I judge him not at the last day; for had He said so, I do not see how it could have been else than contradictory of that other statement, when He says, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." But when He said, "He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one to judge him," and, for the information of those who were waiting to hear who that one was, went on to add, "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day," He made it sufficiently manifest that He Himself would then be the judge. For it was of Himself He spake, Himself He announced, and Himself He set forth as the gate whereby He entered as the Shepherd to His sheep. In one way, therefore, will those be judged who have never heard that word, in another way those who have heard and despised. "For as many as have sinned without law," says the apostle, "shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law." [1116]

7. "For I have not," He says, "spoken of myself." He says that He has not spoken of Himself, because He is not of Himself. Of this we have frequently discoursed already; so that now, without any more instruction, we have simply to remind you of it as a truth with which you are familiar. "But the Father who sent me, He gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak." We would not stay to elaborate this, did we know that we were now speaking with those with whom we have spoken on former occasions, and of these, not with all, but such only whose memories have retained what they heard: but because there are perhaps some now present who did not hear, and some in a similar condition who have forgotten what they heard, on their account let those who remember what they have heard bear with our delay. How giveth the Father a commandment to His only Son? With what words doth He speak to the Word, seeing that the Son Himself is the only-begotten Word? Could it be by an angel, seeing that by Him the angels were created? Was it by means of a cloud, which, when it gave forth its sound to the Son, gave it not on His account, as He Himself also tells us elsewhere, but for the sake of others who were needing to hear it (ver. 29)? Could it be by any sound issuing from the lips, where bodily form was wanting, and where there is no such local distance separating the Son from the Father as to admit of any intervening air, to give effect, by its percussion, to the voice, and render it audible? Let us put away all such unworthy notions of that incorporeal and ineffable subsistence. The only Son is the Word and the Wisdom of the Father, and therein are all the commandments of the Father. For there was no time that the Son knew not the Father's commandment, so as to make it necessary for Him to possess in course of time what He possessed not before. For what He has received from the Father, He received in being born, and was given it in being begotten. For the life He is, and life He certainly received in being born, while yet there was no antecedent time when life was wanting to His personal existence. For, on the one hand, the Father has life, and is what He has: and yet He received it not, because He is not of any one. But the Son received life as the Father's gift, of whom He is: and so He Himself is what He has; for He has life, and is the life. Listen to Himself when He says, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." [1117] Could He give it to one who was in being, and yet hitherto was destitute thereof? On the contrary, in the very begetting it was given by Him who begat the life, and so life begat the life. And to show that He begat the life equal, and not inferior to Himself, it was said, "As He hath life in Himself, so hath He also given to the Son to have life in Himself." He gave life; for in begetting the life, what was it He gave Him, save to be the life? And as His nativity is itself eternal, there never was a time without that Son who is the life, and never was there a time when the Son Himself was without the life; and as His nativity is eternal, so He, who was thus born, is eternal life. And so the Father gave not to the Son a commandment which He had not already; but, as I said, in the Wisdom of the Father, that is, in the word of the Father, are laid up all the Father's commandments. And yet the commandment is said to have been given Him, because He, to whom it is thus given, is not of Himself: and to give that to the Son which He never was without, is the same in meaning as to beget that Son who never was without existence.

8. There follow the words: "And I know that His commandment is life everlasting." If, then, the Son Himself is eternal life, and the Father's commandment the same, what else is expressed than this, I am the Father's commandment? And in like manner, in what He proceeds to say, "Whatsoever I speak, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak," let us not be taking the "said unto me" as if the Father used words in speaking to the only Word, or that the Word of God needed words from God. The Father spake to the Son in the same way as He gave life to the Son; not that He knew not the one, or had not the other, but just because He was the Son. What, then, do the words mean, "Even as He said unto me, so I speak;" but just, I speak the truth? So the former said as the Truthful One [1118] what the latter thus spake as the Truth. The Truthful begat the Truth. What, then, could He now say to the Truth? For the Truth had no imperfection to be supplied by additional truth. He spake, therefore, to the Truth, because He begat the Truth. And in like manner the Truth Himself speaks what has been said to Him; but only to those who have understanding, and who are taught by Him as the God-begotten Truth. But that men might believe what they had not yet capacity to understand, words that were audible issued from His human lips; sounds passing rapidly away broke on the ear, and speedily completed the little term of their duration: but the truths themselves, of which the sounds are but signs, passed, as it were, into the memory of those who heard them, and have come down to us also by means of written characters as signs addressed to the eye. But it is not thus that the Truth speaks; He speaks inwardly to the souls of the intelligent; He needs no sound to instruct, but floods the mind with the light of understanding. And he, then, who in that light is able to behold the eternity of His birth, himself hears in the same way the Truth speaking, as He heard the Father telling Him what He should speak. He has awakened in us a great longing for that sweet experience of His presence within; but it is by daily growth that we acquire it; it is by walking that we grow, and it is by forward efforts we walk, so as to be able at last to attain it.

Footnotes

[1104] Jas. iv. 6. [1105] Chap. viii. 28. [1106] Chap. vii. 16. [1107] Tract. XXIX., haberet a quo esset. [1108] Chap. i. 12. [1109] Chap. x. 34; Ps. lxxxii. 6. [1110] Rom. iv. 5. [1111] Matt. x. 40. [1112] Chap. xiv. 1. [1113] Matt. v. 14-16. [1114] Chap. v. 22. [1115] Ps. ci. 1. [1116] Rom. ii. 12. [1117] Chap. v. 26. [1118] Verax. .


Tractate LV.

Chapter XIII. 1-5

1. The Lord's Supper, as set forth in John, must, with His assistance, be unfolded in a becoming number of Lectures, and explained with all the ability He is pleased to grant us. "Now, before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Pascha (passover) is not, as some think, a Greek noun, but a Hebrew: and yet there occurs in this noun a very suitable kind of accordance in the two languages. For inasmuch as the Greek word paschein means to suffer, therefore pascha has been supposed to mean suffering, as if the noun derived its name from His passion: but in its own language, that is, in Hebrew, pascha means passover; [1119] because the pascha was then celebrated for the first time by God's people, when, in their flight from Egypt, they passed over the Red Sea. [1120] And now that prophetic emblem is fulfilled in truth, when Christ is led as a sheep to the slaughter, [1121] that by His blood sprinkled on our doorposts, that is, by the sign of His cross marked on our foreheads, we may be delivered from the perdition awaiting this world, as Israel from the bondage and destruction of the Egyptians; [1122] and a most salutary transit we make when we pass over from the devil to Christ, and from this unstable world to His well-established kingdom. And therefore surely do we pass over to the ever-abiding God, that we may not pass away with this passing world. The apostle, in extolling God for such grace bestowed upon us, says: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." [1123] This name, then, of pascha, which, as I have said, is in Latin called transitus (pass over), is interpreted, as it were, for us by the blessed evangelist, when he says, "Before the feast of pascha, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world to the Father." Here you see we have both pascha and pass-over. Whence, and whither does He pass? Namely, "out of this world to the Father." The hope was thus given to the members in their Head, that they doubtless would yet follow Him who was "passing" before. And what, then, of unbelievers, who stand altogether apart from this Head and His members? Do not they also pass away, seeing that they abide not here always? They also do plainly pass away: but it is one thing to pass from the world, and another to pass away with it; one thing to pass to the Father, another to pass to the enemy. For the Egyptians also passed over [the sea]; but they did not pass through the sea to the kingdom, but in the sea to destruction.

2. "When Jesus knew," then, "that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." In order, doubtless, that they also, through that love of His, might pass from this world where they now were, to their Head who had passed hence before them. For what mean these words, "to the end," but just to Christ? "For Christ is the end of the law," says the apostle, "for righteousness to every one that believeth." [1124] The end that consummates, not that consumes; the end whereto we attain, not wherein we perish. Exactly thus are we to understand the passage, "Christ our passover is sacrificed." [1125] He is our end; into Him do we pass. For I see that these gospel words may also be taken in a kind of human sense, that Christ loved His own even unto death, so that this may be the meaning of "He loved them unto the end." This meaning is human, not divine: [1126] for it was not merely up to this point that we were loved by Him, who loveth us always and endlessly. God forbid that He, whose death could not end, should have ended His love at death. Even after death that proud and ungodly rich man loved his five brethren; [1127] and is Christ to be thought of as loving us only till death? God forbid, beloved. He would have come in vain with a love for us that lasted till death, if that love had ended there. But perhaps the words, "He loved them unto the end," may have to be understood in this way, That He so loved them as to die for them. For this He testified when He said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." [1128] We have certainly no objection that "He loved them unto the end" should be so understood, that is, it was His very love that carried Him on to death.

3. "And the supper," he says, "having taken place, [1129] and the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, [Jesus] knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He has come from God, and is going to God; He riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded." We are not to understand by the supper having taken place, as if it were already finished and over; for it was still going on when the Lord rose and washed His disciples' feet. For He afterwards sat down again, and gave the morsel [sop] to His betrayer, implying certainly that the supper was not yet over, or, in other words, that there was still bread on the table. Therefore, by supper having taken place, is meant that it was now ready, and laid out on the table for the use of the guests.

4. But when he says, "The devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him;" if one inquires, what was put into Judas' heart, it was doubtless this, "to betray Him." Such a putting [into the heart] is a spiritual suggestion: and entereth not by the ear, but through the thoughts; and thereby not in a way that is corporal, but spiritual. For what we call spiritual is not always to be understood in a commendatory way. The apostle knew of certain spiritual things [powers], of wickedness in heavenly places, against which he testifies that we have to maintain a struggle; [1130] and there would not be spiritual wickednesses, were there not also wicked spirits. For it is from a spiritual being that spiritual things get their name. But how such things are done, as that devilish suggestions should be introduced, and so mingle with human thoughts that a man accounts them his own, how can he know? Nor can we doubt that good suggestions are likewise made by a good spirit in the same unobservable and spiritual way; but it is matter of concern to which of these the human mind yields assent, either as deservedly left without, or graciously aided by, the divine assistance. The determination, therefore, had now been come to in Judas' heart by the instigation of the devil, that the disciple should betray the Master, whom he had not learned to know as his God. In such a state had he now come to their social meal, a spy on the Shepherd, a plotter against the Redeemer, a seller of the Saviour; as such was he now come, was he now seen and endured, and thought himself undiscovered: for he was deceived about Him whom he wished to deceive. But He, who had already scanned the inward state of that very heart, was knowingly making use of one who knew it not.

5. "[Jesus] knowing that the Father has given all things into His hands." And therefore also the traitor himself: for if He had him not in His hands, He certainly could not use him as He wished. Accordingly, the traitor had been already betrayed to Him whom he sought to betray; and he carried out his evil purpose in betraying Him in such a way, that good he knew not of was the issue in regard to Him who was betrayed. For the Lord knew what He was doing for His friends, and patiently made use of His enemies: and thus had the Father given all things into His hands, both the evil for present use, and the good for the final issue. "Knowing also that He has come from God, and is going to God:" neither quitting God when He came from Him, nor us when He returned.

6. Knowing, then, these things, "He riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded." We ought, dearly beloved, carefully to mark the meaning of the evangelist; because that, when about to speak of the pre-eminent humility of the Lord, it was his desire first to commend His majesty. It is in reference to this that he says, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He has come from God, and is going to God." It is He, therefore, into whose hands the Father had given all things, who now washes, not the disciples' hands, but their feet: and it was just while knowing that He had come from God, and was proceeding to God, that He discharged the office of a servant, not of God the Lord, but of man. And this also is referred to by the prefatory notice he has been pleased to make of His betrayer, who was now come as such, and was not unknown to Him; that the greatness of His humility should be still further enhanced by the fact that He did not esteem it beneath His dignity to wash also the feet of one whose hands He already foresaw to be steeped in wickedness.

7. But why should we wonder that He rose from supper, and laid aside His garments, who, being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation? [1131] And why should we wonder, if He girded Himself with a towel, who took upon Him the form of a servant, and was found in the likeness of a man? [1132] Why wonder, if He poured water into a basin wherewith to wash His disciples' feet, who poured His blood upon the earth to wash away the filth of their sins? Why wonder, if with the towel wherewith He was girded He wiped the feet He had washed, who with the very flesh that clothed Him laid a firm pathway for the footsteps of His evangelists? In order, indeed, to gird Himself with the towel, He laid aside the garments He wore; but when He emptied Himself [of His divine glory] in order to assume the form of a servant, He laid not down what He had, but assumed that which He had not before. When about to be crucified, He was indeed stripped of His garments, and when dead was wrapped in linen clothes: and all that suffering of His is our purification. When, therefore, about to suffer the last extremities [of humiliation,] He here illustrated beforehand its friendly compliances; not only to those for whom He was about to endure death, but to him also who had resolved on betraying Him to death. Because so great is the beneficence of human humility, that even the Divine Majesty was pleased to commend it by His own example; for proud man would have perished eternally, had he not been found by the lowly God. For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. [1133] And as he was lost by imitating the pride of the deceiver, let him now, when found, imitate the Redeemer's humility.

Footnotes

[1119] Transitus, transit, pass over.--Tr. [1120] Ex. xiv. 29. A curious mistake of Augustin's to derive the name of the feast from Israel's passing over the Red Sea, instead of Jehovah's passing over the houses of the Israelites, when He smote the firstborn of Egypt! Compare Ex. xii. 11, 13, 23, 27.--Tr. [1121] Isa. liii. 7. [1122] Ex. xii. 23. [1123] Col. i. 13. [1124] Rom. x. 4. [1125] 1 Cor. v. 7. [1126] That is, "applies to Christ's humanity, not His divinity."--Tr. [1127] Luke xvi. 27, 28. [1128] Chap. xv. 13. [1129] Coena facta; deipnou genomenou. See Augustin's explanation below.--Tr. [1130] Eph. vi. 12. [1131] Literally, "emptied Himself," as in the Greek.--Tr. [1132] Phil. ii. 6, 7. [1133] Luke xix. 10. .


Tractate LVI.

Chapter XIII. 6-10

1. When the Lord was washing the disciples' feet, "He cometh to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" For who would not be filled with fear at having his feet washed by the Son of God? Although, therefore, it was a piece of the greatest audacity for the servant to contradict his Lord, the creature his God; yet Peter preferred doing this to the suffering of his feet to be washed by his Lord and God. Nor ought we to think that Peter was one amongst others who so expressed their fear and refusal, seeing that others before him had suffered it to be done to themselves with cheerfulness and equanimity. For it is easier so to understand the words of the Gospel, because that, after saying, "He began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded," it is then added, "Then cometh He to Simon Peter," as if He had already washed the feet of some, and after them had now come to the first of them all. For who can fail to know that the most blessed Peter was the first of the apostles? But we are not so to understand it, that it was after some others that He came to him; but that He began with him. [1134] When, therefore, He began to wash the disciples' feet, He came to him with whom He began, namely, to Peter; and then Peter took fright at what any one of them might have been frightened, and said, "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" What is implied in this "Thou"? and what in "my"? These are subjects for thought rather than for speech; lest perchance any adequate conception the soul may have formed of such words may fail of explanation in the utterance.

2. But "Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." And not even yet, terrified as he was by the sublimity of the Lord's action, does he allow it to be done, while ignorant of its purpose; but is unwilling to see, unable to endure, that Christ should thus humble Himself to his very feet. "Thou shalt never," he says, "wash my feet." What is this "never" [in æternum]? I will never endure, never suffer, never permit it: that is, a thing is not done "in æternum" which is never done. Then the Saviour, to terrify His reluctant patient with the danger of his own salvation, says, "If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me." He speaks in this way, "If I wash thee not," when He was referring only to his feet; just as it is customary to say, You are trampling on me, when it is only the foot that is trampled on. And now the other, in a perturbation of love and fear, and more frightened at the thought that Christ should be withheld from him, than even to see Him humbled at his feet, exclaims, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Since this, indeed, is Thy threat, that my bodily members must be washed by Thee, not only do I no longer withhold the lowest, but I lay the foremost also at Thy disposal. Deny me not having a part with Thee, and I deny Thee not any part of my body to be washed.

3. "Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." Some one perhaps may be aroused at this, and say: Nay, but if he is every whit clean, what need has He even to wash his feet? But the Lord knew what He was saying, even though our weakness reach not into His secret purposes. Nevertheless, so far as He is pleased to instruct and teach us out of His law, up to the little measure of my apprehension, I would also, with His help, make some answer bearing on the depths of this question: and, first of all, I shall have no difficulty in showing that there is no self-contradiction in the manner of expression. For who may not say, as here, with the greatest propriety, He is all clean, except [1135] his feet?--although he would speak with greater elegance were he to say, He is all clean, save [1136] his feet; which is equivalent in meaning. Thus, then, doth the Lord say, "He needeth not save to wash his feet, but is all clean." All, that is, except, or save [1137] his feet, which he still needs to wash.

4. But what is this? what does it mean? and what is there in it we need to examine? The Lord says, The Truth declares that even he who has been washed has need still to wash his feet. What, my brethren, what think you of it, save that in holy baptism a man has all of him washed, not all save his feet, but every whit; and yet, while thereafter living in this human state, he cannot fail to tread on the ground with his feet. And thus our human feelings themselves, which are inseparable from our mortal life on earth, are like feet wherewith we are brought into sensible contact with human affairs; and are so in such a way, that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [1138] And every day, therefore, is He who intercedeth for us, [1139] washing our feet: and that we, too have daily need to be washing our feet, that is ordering aright the path of our spiritual footsteps, we acknowledge even in the Lord's prayer, when we say, "Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors." [1140] For "if," as it is written, "we confess our sins," then verily is He, who washed His disciples' feet, "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," [1141] that is, even to our feet wherewith we walk on the earth.

5. Accordingly the Church, which Christ cleanseth with the washing of water in the word, is without spot and wrinkle, [1142] not only in the case of those who are taken away immediately after the washing of regeneration from the contagious influence of this life, and tread not the earth so as to make necessary the washing of their feet, but in those also who have experienced such mercy from the Lord as to be enabled to quit this present life even with feet that have been washed. But although the Church be also clean in respect of those who tarry on earth, because they live righteously; yet have they need to be washing their feet, because they assuredly are not without sin. For this cause is it said in the Song of Songs, "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" [1143] For one so speaks when he is constrained to come to Christ, and in coming has to bring his feet into contact with the ground. But again, there is another question that arises. Is not Christ above? hath He not ascended into heaven, and sitteth He not at the Father's right hand? Does not the apostle expressly declare, "If ye, then, be risen with Christ, set your thoughts on those things which are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. Seek the things which are above, not things which are on earth?" [1144] How is it, then, that to get to Christ we are compelled to tread the earth, since rather our hearts ought to be turned upwards toward the Lord, that we may be enabled to dwell in His presence? You see, brethren, the shortness of the time to-day curtails our consideration of this question. And if you perhaps fail in some measure to do so, yet I for my part see how much clearing up it requires. And therefore I beg of you to suffer it rather to be adjourned, than to be treated now in too negligent and restricted a manner; and your expectations will not be defrauded, but only deferred. For the Lord who thus makes us your debtors, will be present to enable us also to pay our debts.

Footnotes

[1134] It is curious to notice how Augustin here contradicts his previous and natural explanation of the passage, in order to uphold the primacy of Peter. It looks as if here he suddenly felt that his former words were rather adverse to the notion.--Tr. [1135] Of course, it is a mere elegance in the Latinity to which Augustin here refers, as between præter pedes and nisi pedes, when qualifying the expression, "Mundus est totus" (he is all clean).--Tr. [1136] Of course, it is a mere elegance in the Latinity to which Augustin here refers, as between præter pedes and nisi pedes, when qualifying the expression, "Mundus est totus" (he is all clean).--Tr. [1137] Of course, it is a mere elegance in the Latinity to which Augustin here refers, as between præter pedes and nisi pedes, when qualifying the expression, "Mundus est totus" (he is all clean).--Tr. [1138] 1 John i. 8. [1139] Rom. viii. 34. [1140] Matt. vi. 12. [1141] 1 John i. 9. [1142] Eph. v. 26, 27. [1143] Song of Sol. v. 3. [1144] Col. iii. 1, 2. .


Tractate LVII.

Chapter XIII. 6-10 (continued), and Song of Sol. V. 2, 3

In what way the Church should fear to defile her feet, while proceeding on her way to Christ.

1. I Have not been unmindful of my debt, and acknowledge that the time of payment has now come. May He give me wherewith to pay, as He gave me cause to incur the debt. For He has given me the love, of which it is said, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another." [1145] May He give also the word, which I feel myself owing to those I love. I put off your expectations till now for this reason, that I might explain as I could how it is we come to Christ along the ground, when we are commanded rather to seek the things which are above, not the things which are upon the earth. [1146] For Christ is sitting above, at the right hand of the Father: but He is assuredly here also; and for that reason said also to Saul, as he was raging on the earth, "Why persecutest thou me?" [1147] But the topic on which we were speaking, and which led to our entering on this inquiry, was our Lord's washing His disciples' feet, after the disciples themselves had already been washed, and needed not, save to wash their feet. And we there saw it to be understood that a man is indeed wholly washed in baptism; but while thereafter he liveth in this present world, and with the feet of his human passions treadeth on this earth, that is, in his life-intercourse with others, he contracts enough to call forth the prayer, "Forgive us our debts." [1148] And thus from these also is he cleansed by Him who washed His disciples' feet, [1149] and ceaseth not to make intercession for us. [1150] And here occurred the words of the Church in the Song of Songs, when she saith, "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" when she wished to go and open to that Being, fairer in form than the sons of men, [1151] who had come to her and knocked, and asked her to open to Him. This gave rise to a question, which we were unwilling to compress into the narrow limits of the time, and therefore deferred till now, in what sense the Church, when on her way to Christ, may be afraid of defiling her feet, which she had washed in the baptism of Christ.

2. For thus she speaks: "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my Beloved [1152] that knocketh at the gate." And then He also says: "Open to me, my sister, my nearest, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is filled with dew, and my hair with the drops of the night." And she replies: "I have put off my dress; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" [1153] O wonderful sacramental symbol! O lofty mystery! Does she, then, fear to defile her feet in coming to Him who washed the feet of His disciples? Her fear is genuine; for it is along the earth she has to come to Him, who is still on earth, because refusing to leave His own who are stationed here. Is it not He that saith, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world"? [1154] Is it not He that saith, "Ye shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man"? [1155] If they ascend to Him because He is above, how do they descend to Him, but because He is also here? Therefore saith the Church: "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" She says so even in the case of those who, purified from all dross, can say: "I desire to depart, and to be with Christ; nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." [1156] She says it in those who preach Christ, and open to Him the door, that He may dwell by faith in the hearts of men. [1157] In such she says it, when they deliberate whether to undertake such a ministry, for which they do not consider themselves qualified, so as to discharge it blamelessly, and so as not, after preaching to others, themselves to become castaways. [1158] For it is safer to hear than to preach the truth: for in the hearing, humility is preserved; but when it is preached, it is scarcely possible for any man to hinder the entrance of some small measure of boasting, whereby the feet at least are defiled.

3. Therefore, as the Apostle James saith, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak." [1159] As it is also said by another man of God, "Thou wilt make me to hear joy and gladness; and the bones Thou hast humbled will rejoice." [1160] This is what I said: When the truth is heard, humility is preserved. And another says: "But the friend of the bridegroom standeth and heareth him, and rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." [1161] Let us rejoice in the hearing that comes from the noiseless speaking of the truth within us. For although, when the sound is outwardly uttered, as by one that readeth; or proclaimeth, or preacheth, or disputeth, or commandeth, or comforteth, or exhorteth, or even by one that sings or accompanies his voice on an instrument, those who do so may fear to defile their feet, when they aim at pleasing men with the secretly active desire of human applause. Yet the one who hears such with a willing and pious mind, has no room for self-gratulation in the labors of others; and with no self-inflation, but with the joy of humility, rejoices because of the Master's words of truth. Accordingly, in those who hear with willingness and humility, and spend a tranquil life in sweet and wholesome studies, the holy Church will take delight, and may say, "I sleep, and my heart waketh." And what is this, "I sleep, and my heart waketh," but just I sit down quietly to listen? My leisure is not laid out in nourishing slothfulness, but in acquiring wisdom. "I sleep, and my heart waketh." I am still, and see that Thou art the Lord: [1162] for "the wisdom of the scribe cometh by opportunity of leisure; and he that hath little business shall become wise." [1163] "I sleep, and my heart waketh:" I rest from troublesome business, and my mind turns its attention to divine concerns (or communications). [1164]

4. But while the Church finds delightful repose in those who thus sweetly and humbly sit at her feet, here is one who knocks, and says: "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops." [1165] It is His voice, then, that knocks at the gate, and says: "Open to me, my sister, my neighbor, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." As if He had said, Thou art at leisure, and the door is closed against me: thou art caring for the leisure of the few, and through abounding iniquity the love of many is waxing cold. [1166] The night He speaks of is iniquity: but His dew and drops are those who wax cold and fall away, and make the head of Christ to wax cold, that is, the love of God to fail. For the head of Christ is God. [1167] But they are borne on His locks, that is, their presence is tolerated in the visible sacraments; while their senses never take hold of the internal realities. He knocks, therefore, to shake off this quiet from His inactive saints, and cries, "Open to me," thou who, through my blood, art become "my sister;" through my drawing nigh, "my neighbor;" through my Spirit, "my dove;" through my word which thou hast fully learned in thy leisure, "my perfect one:" open to me, go and preach me to others. For how shall I get in to those who have shut their door against me, without some one to open? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [1168]

5. Hence it happens that those who love to devote their leisure to good studies, and shrink from encountering the troubles of toilsome labors, as feeling themselves unsuited to undertake and discharge such services with credit, would prefer, were it possible, to have the holy apostles and ancient preachers of the truth again raised up against that abounding of iniquity which hath so reduced the warmth of Christian love. But in regard to those who have already left the body, and put off the garment of the flesh (for they are not utterly parted), the Church replies, "I have put off my dress; how shall I put it on?" That dress shall, indeed, yet be recovered; and in the persons of those who have meanwhile laid it aside, shall the Church again put on the garment of flesh: only not now, when the cold are needing to be warmed; but then, when the dead shall rise again. Realizing, then, her present difficulty through the scarcity of preachers, and remembering those members of her own who were so sound in word and holy in character, but are now disunited from their bodies, the Church says in her sorrow, "I have put off my dress; how shall I put it on?" How can those members of mine, who had such surpassing power, through their preaching, to open the door to Christ, now return to the bodies which they have laid aside?

6. And then, turning again to those who preach, and gather in and govern the congregations of His people, and so open as they can to Christ, but are afraid, amid the difficulties of such work, of falling into sin, she says, "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" For whosoever offendeth not in word, the same is a perfect man. And who, then, is perfect? Who is there that offendeth not amid such an abounding of iniquity, and such a freezing of charity? "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" At times I read and hear: "My brethren, be not many masters, seeing that ye shall receive the greater condemnation: for in many things we offend all." [1169] "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" But see, I rise and open. Christ, wash them. "Forgive us our debts," because our love is not altogether extinguished: for "we also forgive our debtors." [1170] When we listen to Thee, the bones which have been humbled rejoice with Thee in the heavenly places. [1171] But when we preach Thee, we have to tread the ground in order to open to Thee: and then, if we are blameworthy, we are troubled; if we are commended, we become inflated. Wash our feet, that were formerly cleansed, but have again been defiled in our walking through the earth to open unto Thee. Let this be enough today, beloved. But in whatever we have happened to offend, by saying otherwise than we ought, or have been unduly elated by your commendations, entreat that our feet may be washed, and may your prayers find acceptance with God.

Footnotes

[1145] Rom. xiii. 8. [1146] Col. iii. 1, 2. [1147] Acts ix. 4. [1148] Matt. vi. 12. [1149] Chap. xiii. 5. [1150] Rom. viii. 34. [1151] Ps. xlv. 2. [1152] Patruelis, literally cousin (by the father's side). [1153] Song of Sol. v. 2, 3. [1154] Matt. xxviii. 20. [1155] Chap. i. 51. [1156] Phil. i. 23, 24. [1157] Eph. iii. 17. [1158] 1 Cor. ix. 27. [1159] Jas. i. 19. [1160] Ps. li. 8. [1161] Chap. iii. 29. [1162] Ps. xlvi. 10. [1163] Ecclus. xxxviii. 24. [1164] Two readings, affectibus or affatibus. [1165] Matt. x. 27. [1166] Matt. xxiv. 12. [1167] 1 Cor. xi. 3. [1168] Rom. x. 14. [1169] Jas. iii. 1, 2. [1170] Matt. vi. 12. [1171] Ps. li. 8. .


Tractate LVIII.

Chapter XIII. 10-15.

1. We have already, beloved, as the Lord was pleased to enable us, expounded to you those words of the Gospel, where the Lord, in washing His disciples' feet, says, "He that is once washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." Let us now look at what follows. "And ye," He says, "are clean, but not all." And to remove the need of inquiry on our part, the evangelist has himself explained its meaning, by adding: "For He knew who it was that should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean." Can anything be clearer? Let us therefore pass to what follows.

2. "So, after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?" Now it is that the blessed Peter gets that promise fulfilled: for he had been put off when, in the midst of his trembling and asserting, "Thou shalt never wash my feet," he received the answer, "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" (vers. 7, 8). Here, then, is that very hereafter; it is now time to tell what was a little ago deferred. Accordingly, the Lord, mindful of His foregoing promise to make him understand an act of His so unexpected, so wonderful, so frightening, and, but for His own still more terrifying rejoinder, impossible to be permitted, that the Master not only of themselves, but of angels, and the Lord not only of them, but of all things, should wash the feet of His own disciples and servants: having then promised to let him know the meaning of so important an act, when He said, "Thou shalt know afterwards," begins now to show them what it was that He did.

3. "Ye call me," He says, "Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am." "Ye say well," for ye only say the truth; I am indeed what ye say. There is a precept laid on man: "Let not thine own mouth praise thee, but the mouth of thy neighbor." [1172] For self-pleasing is a perilous thing for one who has to be on his guard against falling into pride. But He who is over all things, however much He commend Himself, cannot exalt Himself above His actual dignity: nor can God be rightly termed arrogant. For it is to our advantage to know Him, not to His; nor can any one know Him, unless that self-knowing One make Himself known. If He, then, by abstaining from self-commendation, wish, as it were, to avoid arrogance, He will deny us the power of knowing Him. And no one surely would blame Him for calling Himself Master, even though believing Him to be nothing more than a man; seeing He only makes profession of what even men themselves in the various arts profess to such an extent, without any charge of arrogance, that they are termed professors. But to call Himself also the Lord of His disciples,--of men who, in an earthly sense, were themselves also free-born,--who would tolerate it in a man? But it is God that speaks. Here no elation is possible to loftiness so great, no lie to the truth: the profit is ours to be the subjects of such loftiness, the servants of the truth. That He calls Himself Lord is no imperfection on His side, but a benefit on ours. The words of a certain profane [1173] author are commended, when he says, "All arrogance is hateful, and specially disagreeable is that of talent and eloquence;" [1174] and yet, when the same person was speaking of his own eloquence, he said, "I would call it perfect, were I to pronounce judgment; nor, in truth, would I greatly fear the charge of arrogance." [1175] If, then, that most eloquent man had in truth no fear of being charged with arrogance, how can the truth itself have such a fear? Let Him call Himself Lord who is the Lord, let Him say what is true who is the Truth; so that I may not fail to learn that which is profitable, by His being silent about that which is. The most blessed Paul--certainly not himself the only-begotten Son of God, but the servant and apostle of that Son; not the Truth, but a partaker of the truth--declares with freedom and consistency, "And though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I say the truth." [1176] For it would not be in himself, but in the truth, which is superior to himself, that he was glorying both humbly and truly: for it is he also who has given the charge, that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord. [1177] Could thus the lover of wisdom have no fear of being chargeable with foolishness, though he desired to glory, and would wisdom itself, in its glorying, have any fear of such a charge? He had no fear of arrogance who said, "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord;" [1178] and could the power of the Lord have any such fear in commending itself, in which His servant's soul is making her boast? "Ye call me," He says, "Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am." Therefore ye say well, that I am so: for if I were not what ye say, ye would be wrong to say so, even with the purpose of praising me. How, then,could the Truth deny what the disciples of the Truth affirm? How could that which was said by the learners be denied by the very Truth that gave them their learning? How can the fountain deny what the drinker asserts? how can the light hide what the beholder declares?

4. "If I, then," He says, "your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." This, blessed Peter, is what thou didst not know when thou wert not allowing it to be done. This is what He promised to let thee know afterwards, when thy Master and thy Lord terrified thee into submission, and washed thy feet. We have learned, brethren, humility from the Highest; let us, as humble, do to one another what He, the Highest, did in His humility. Great is the commendation we have here of humility: and brethren do this to one another in turn, even in the visible act itself, when they treat one another with hospitality; for the practice of such humility is generally prevalent, and finds expression in the very deed that makes it discernible. And hence the apostle, when he would commend the well-deserving widow, says, "If she is hospitable, if she has washed the saints' feet." [1179] And wherever such is not the practice among the saints, what they do not with the hand they do in heart, if they are of the number of those who are addressed in the hymn of the three blessed men, "O ye holy and humble of heart, bless ye the Lord." [1180] But it is far better, and beyond all dispute more accordant with the truth, that it should also be done with the hands; nor should the Christian think it beneath him to do what was done by Christ. For when the body is bent at a brother's feet, the feeling of such humility is either awakened in the heart itself, or is strengthened if already present.

5. But apart from this moral understanding of the passage, we remember that the way in which we commended to your attention the grandeur of this act of the Lord's, was that, in washing the feet of disciples who were already washed and clean, the Lord instituted a sign, to the end that, on account of the human feelings that occupy us on earth, however far we may have advanced in our apprehension of righteousness, we might know that we are not exempt from sin; which He thereafter washes away by interceding for us, when we pray the Father, who is in heaven, to forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. [1181] What connection, then, can such an understanding of the passage have with that which He afterwards gave Himself, when He explained the reason of His act in the words, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you"? Can we say that even a brother may cleanse a brother from the contracted stain of wrongdoing? Yea, verily, we know that of this also we were admonished in the profound significance of this work of the Lord's, that we should confess our faults one to another, and pray for one another, even as Christ also maketh intercession for us. [1182] Let us listen to the Apostle James, who states this precept with the greatest clearness when he says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another." [1183] For of this also the Lord gave us the example. For if He who neither has, nor had, nor will have any sin, prays for our sins, how much more ought we to pray for one another's in turn! And if He forgives us, whom we have nothing to forgive; how much more ought we, who are unable to live here without sin, to forgive one another! For what else does the Lord apparently intimate in the profound significance of this sacramental sign, when He says, "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you;" but what the apostle declares in the plainest terms, "Forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye"? [1184] Let us therefore forgive one another his faults, and pray for one another's faults, and thus in a manner be washing one another's feet. It is our part, by His grace, to be supplying the service of love and humility: it is His to hear us, and to cleanse us from all the pollution of our sins through Christ, and in Christ; so that what we forgive even to others, that is, loose on earth, may be loosed in heaven.

Footnotes

[1172] Prov. xxvii. 2. [1173] Sæcularis. [1174] Cicero, in Q. Cæcilium. [1175] Cicero, de Oratore. [1176] 2 Cor. xii. 6. [1177] 1 Cor. i. 31. [1178] Ps. xxxiv. 2. [1179] 1 Tim. v. 10. [1180] Dan. iii. 88; that is, in the apocryphal piece called "The Song of the Three Children," and which, as it has no place in the Hebrew Scriptures, is also omitted in our English version. Its place would fall between the 23d and 24th verses of chap. iii.--Tr. [1181] Matt. vi. 12. [1182] Rom. viii. 34. [1183] Jas. v. 16. [1184] Col. iii. 13. .


Tractate LIX.

Chapter XIII. 16-20.

1. We have just heard in the holy Gospel the Lord speaking, and saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord, nor the apostle [he that is sent] greater than he that sent him: if ye know these things, blessed shall ye be if ye do them." He said this, therefore, because He had washed the disciples' feet, as the Master of humility both by word and example. But we shall be able, with His help, to handle what is in need of more elaborate handling, if we linger not at what is perfectly clear. Accordingly, after uttering these words, the Lord added, "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but, that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, shall lift up his heel upon me." And what is this, but that he shall trample upon me? We know of whom He speaks: it is Judas, that betrayer of His, who is referred to. He had not therefore chosen the person whom, by these words, He setteth utterly apart from His chosen ones. When I say then, He continues, "Blessed shall ye be if ye do them, I speak not of you all:" there is one among you who will not be blessed, and who will not do these things. "I know whom I have chosen." Whom, but those who shall be blessed in the doing of what has been commanded and shown as needful to be done, by Him who alone can make them blessed? The traitor Judas, He says, is not one of those that have been chosen. What, then, is meant by what He says in another place, "Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" [1185] Was it that he also was chosen for some purpose, for which he was really necessary; although not for the blessedness of which He has just been saying, "Blessed shall ye be if ye do these things"? He speaketh not so of them all; for He knows whom He has chosen to be associated with Himself in blessedness. Of such he is not one, who ate His bread in order that he might lift up his heel upon Him. The bread they ate was the Lord Himself; he ate the Lord's bread in enmity to the Lord: they ate life, and he punishment. "For he that eateth unworthily," says the apostle, "eateth judgment unto himself." [1186] "From this time," [1187] Christ adds, "I tell you before it come; that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He:" that is, I am He of whom the Scripture that preceded has just said, "He that eateth bread with me, shall lift up his heel upon me."

2. He then proceeds to say: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me." Did He mean us to understand that there is as little distance between one sent by Him, and Himself, as there is between Himself and God the Father? If we take it in this way, I know not what measurements of distance (which may God forbid!) we shall be adopting, in the Arian fashion. For they, when they hear or read these words of the Gospel, have immediate recourse to their dogmatic measurements, whereby they ascend not to life, but fall headlong into death. For they straightway say: The Son's messenger stands at the same relative distance from the Son, as expressed in the words, "He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me," as that in which the Son Himself stands from the Father, when He said, "He that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me." But if thou sayest so, thou forgettest, heretic, thy measurements. For if, because of these words of the Lord, thou puttest the Son at as great a distance from the Father as the messenger [apostle] from the Son, where dost thou purpose to place the Holy Spirit? Has it escaped thee, that ye are wont to place Him after the Son? He will therefore come in between the messenger and the Son; and much greater, then, will be the distance between the Son and His messenger, than between the Father and His Son. Or perhaps, to preserve that distinction between the Son and His messenger, and between the Father and His Son, at their equality of distance, will the Holy Spirit be equal to the Son? But as little will ye allow this. And where, then, do ye think of placing Him, if ye place the Son as far beneath the Father, as ye place the messenger beneath the Son? Restrain, therefore, your foolhardy presumption; and do not be seeking to find in these words the same distance between the Son and His messenger as between the Father and His Son. But listen rather to the Son Himself, when He says, "I and my Father are one." [1188] For there the Truth hath left you no shadow of distance between the Begetter and the Only-begotten; there Christ Himself hath erased your measurements, and the rock hath broken your staircase to pieces.

3. But now that the heretical slander has been disposed of, in what sense are we to understand these words of the Lord: "He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me"? For if we were inclined to understand the words, "He that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me," as expressing the oneness in nature of the Father and the Son; the sequence from the similar arrangement of words in the other clause, "He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me," would be the unity in nature of the Son and His messenger. And there might, indeed, be no impropriety in so understanding it, seeing that a twofold substance belongeth to the strong man, who hath rejoiced to run the race; [1189] for the Word was made flesh, [1190] that is, God became man. And accordingly He might be supposed to have said, "He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me," with reference to His human nature; "and he that receiveth me" as God, "receiveth Him that sent me." But in so speaking, He was not commending the unity of nature, but the authority of the Sender in Him who is sent. Let every one, therefore, so receive Him that is sent, that in His person he may give heed to Him who sent Him. If, then, thou lookest for Christ in Peter, thou wilt find the disciple's instructor; and if thou lookest for the Father in the Son, thou wilt find the Begetter of the Only-begotten: and so in Him who is sent, thou art not mistaken in receiving the Sender. What follows in the Gospel cannot be compressed within the shortness of the time remaining. And therefore, dearly beloved, let what has been said, if thought sufficient, be received in a healthful way, as pasture for the holy sheep; and if it is somewhat scanty, let it be ruminated over with ardent desire for more.

Footnotes

[1185] Chap. vi. 70. [1186] 1 Cor. xi. 29. [1187] A modo; Greek, 'Ap' arti; margin of English Bible, "From henceforth."--Tr. [1188] Chap. x. 30. [1189] Ps. xix. 5. [1190] Chap. i. 14. .


Tractate LX.

Chapter XIII. 21.

1. It is no light question, brethren, that meets us in the Gospel of the blessed John, when he says: "When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." Was it for this reason that Jesus was troubled, not in flesh, but in spirit, that He was now about to say, "One of you shall betray me"? Did this occur then for the first time to His mind, or was it at that moment suddenly revealed to Him for the first time, and so troubled Him by the startling novelty of so great a calamity? Was it not a little before that He was using these words, "He that eateth bread with me will lift up his heel against me"? And had He not also, previously to that, said, "And ye are clean, but not all"? where the evangelist added, "For He knew who should betray Him:" [1191] to whom also on a still earlier occasion He had pointed in the words, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" [1192] Why is it, then, that He "was now troubled in spirit," when "He testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me"? Was it because now He had so to mark him out, that he should no longer remain concealed among the rest, but be separated from the others, that therefore "He was troubled in spirit"? Or was it because now the traitor himself was on the eve of departing to bring those Jews to whom he was to betray the Lord, that He was troubled by the imminency of His passion, the closeness of the danger, and the swooping hand of the traitor, whose resolution was foreknown? For some such cause it certainly was that Jesus "was troubled in spirit," as when He said, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour." [1193] And accordingly, just as then His soul was troubled as the hour of His passion approached; so now also, as Judas was on the point of going and coming, and the atrocious villainy of the traitor neared its accomplishment, "He was troubled in spirit."

2. He was troubled, then, who had power to lay down His life, and had power to take it again. [1194] That mighty power is troubled, the firmness of the rock is disturbed: or is it rather our infirmity that is troubled in Him? Assuredly so: let servants believe nothing unworthy of their Lord, but recognize their own membership in their Head. He who died for us, was also Himself troubled in our place. He, therefore, who died in power, was troubled in the midst of His power: He who shall yet transform [1195] the body of our humility into similarity of form with the body of His glory, hath also transferred into Himself the feeling of our infirmity, and sympathizeth with us in the feelings of His own soul. Accordingly, when it is the great, the brave, the sure, the invincible One that is troubled, let us have no fear for Him, as if He were capable of failing: He is not perishing, but in search of us [who are]. Us, I say; it is us exclusively whom He is thus seeking, that in His trouble we may behold ourselves, and so, when trouble reaches us, may not fall into despair and perish. By His trouble, who could not be troubled save with His own consent, He comforts such as are troubled unwillingly.

3. Away with the reasons of philosophers, who assert that a wise man is not affected by mental perturbations. God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world; [1196] and the Lord knoweth the thoughts of men, that they are vain. [1197] It is plain that the mind of the Christian may be troubled, not by misery, but by pity: he may fear lest men should be lost to Christ; he may sorrow when one is being lost; he may have ardent desire to gain men to Christ; he may be filled with joy when such is being done; he may have fear of falling away himself from Christ; he may sorrow over his own estrangement from Christ; he may be earnestly desirous of reigning with Christ, and he may be rejoicing in the hope that such fellowship with Christ will yet be his lot. These are certainly four of what they call perturbations--fear and sorrow, love and gladness. And Christian minds may have sufficient cause to feel them, and evidence their dissent from the error of Stoic philosophers, and all resembling them: who indeed, just as they esteem truth to be vanity, regard also insensibility as soundness; not knowing that a man's mind, like the limbs of his body, is only the more hopelessly diseased when it has lost even the feeling of pain.

4. But says some one: Ought the mind of the Christian to be troubled even at the prospect of death? For what comes of those words of the apostle, that he had a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, [1198] if the object of his desire can thus trouble him when it comes? Our answer to this would be easy, indeed, in the case of those who also term gladness itself a perturbation [of the mind]. For what if the trouble he thus feels arises entirely from his rejoicing at the prospect of death? But such a feeling, they say, ought to be termed gladness, and not rejoicing. [1199] And what is that, but just to alter the name, while the feeling experienced is the same? But let us for our part confine our attention to the Sacred Scriptures, and with the Lord's help seek rather such a solution of this question as will be in harmony with them; and then, seeing it is written, "When He had thus said, He was troubled in spirit," we will not say that it was joy that disturbed Him; lest His own words should convince us of the contrary when He says, "My soul is sorrowful, even unto death." [1200] It is some such feeling that is here also to be understood, when, as His betrayer was now on the very point of departing alone, and straightway returning along with his associates, "Jesus was troubled in spirit."

5. Strong-minded, indeed, are those Christians, if such there are, who experience no trouble at all in the prospect of death; but for all that, are they stronger-minded than Christ? Who would have the madness to say so? And what else, then, does His being troubled signify, but that, by voluntarily assuming the likeness of their weakness, He comforted the weak members in His own body, that is, in His Church; to the end that, if any of His own are still troubled at the approach of death, they may fix their gaze upon Him, and so be kept from thinking themselves castaways on this account, and being swallowed up in the more grievous death of despair? And how great, then, must be that good which we ought to expect and hope for in the participation of His divine nature, whose very perturbation tranquillizes us, and whose infirmity confirms us? Whether, therefore, on this occasion it was by His pity for Judas himself thus rushing into ruin, or by the near approach of His own death, that He was troubled, yet there is no possibility of doubting that it was not through any infirmity of mind, but in the fullness of power, that He was troubled, and so no despair of salvation need arise in our minds, when we are troubled, not in the possession of power, but in the midst of our weakness. He certainly bore the infirmity of the flesh,--an infirmity which was swallowed up in His resurrection. But He who was not only man, but God also, surpassed by an ineffable distance the whole human race in fortitude of mind. He was not, then, troubled by any outward plessure of man, but troubled Himself; which was very plainly declared of Him when He raised Lazarus from the dead: for it is there written that He troubled Himself, [1201] that it may be so understood even where the text does not so express it, and yet declares that He was troubled. For having by His power assumed our full humanity, by that very power He awoke in Himself our human feelings whenever He judged it becoming.

Footnotes

[1191] Chap. xiii. 18, 10, 11. [1192] Chap. vi. 71. [1193] Chap. xii. 27. [1194] Chap. x. 18. [1195] Phil. iii. 21. The text has transfiguravit (pret.), "hath transformed," in this as well as in the next clause, "hath transferred," but here it is evidently a misprint for transfigurabit (fut.).--Tr. [1196] 1 Cor. i. 20. [1197] Ps. xciv. 11. [1198] Phil. i. 23. [1199] Gaudium, non lætitia. [1200] Matt. xxvi. 38. [1201] Chap. xi. 33, margin. .


Tractate LXI.

Chapter XIII. 21-26.

1. This short section of the Gospel, brethren, we have in this lesson brought forward for exposition, as thinking that we ought also to say something of the Lord's betrayer, as now plainly enough disclosed by the dipping and holding out to him of the piece of bread. Of that indeed which precedes, (namely), that Jesus, when about to point him out, was troubled in spirit, we have treated in our last discourse; but what I perhaps omitted to mention there, the Lord, by His own perturbation of spirit, thought proper to indicate this also, that it is necessary to bear with false brethren, and those tares that are among the wheat in the Lord's field until harvest-time, because that when we are compelled by urgent reasons to separate some of them even before the harvest, it cannot be done without disturbance to the Church. Such disturbance to His saints in the future, through schismatics and heretics, the Lord in a way foretold and prefigured in Himself, when, at the moment of that wicked man Judas' departure, and of his thereby bringing to an end, in a very open and decided way, his past intermingling with the wheat, in which he had long been tolerated, He was troubled, not in body, but in spirit. For it is not spitefulness, but charity, that troubles His spiritual members in scandals of this kind; lest perchance, in separating some of the tares, any of the wheat should also be uprooted therewith.

2. "Jesus," therefore, "was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." "One of you," in number, not in merit; in appearance, not in reality; in bodily commingling, not by any spiritual tie; a companion by fleshly juxtaposition, not in any unity of the heart; and therefore not one who is of you, but one who is to go forth from you. For how else can this "one of you" be true, of which the Lord so testified, and said, if that is true which the writer of this very Gospel says in his Epistle, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us"? [1202] Judas, therefore was not of them; for, had he been of them, he would have continued with them. What, then, do the words "One of you shall betray me" mean, but that one is going out from you who shall betray me? Just as he also, who said, "If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us," had said before, "They went out from us." And thus it is true in both senses, "of us," and "not of us;" in one respect "of us," and in another "not of us;" "of us" in respect to sacramental communion, but "not of us" in respect to the criminal conduct that belongs exclusively to themselves.

3. "Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake." For while they were imbued with a reverential love to their Master, they were none the less affected by human infirmity in their feelings towards each other. Each one's own conscience was known to himself; but as he was ignorant of his neighbor's, each one's self-assurance was such that each was uncertain of all the others, and all the others were uncertain of that one.

4. "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom, one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved." What he meant by saying "in His bosom," he tells us a little further on, where he says, "on the breast of Jesus." It was that very John whose Gospel is before us, as he afterwards expressly declares. [1203] For it was a custom with those who have supplied us with the sacred writings, that when any of them was relating the divine history, and came to something affecting himself, he spoke as if it were about another; and gave himself a place in the line of his narrative becoming one who was the recorder of public events, and not as one who made himself the subject of his preaching. Saint Matthew acted also in this way, when, in coming in the course of his narrative to himself, he says, "He saw a publican named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, and saith unto him, Follow me." [1204] He does not say, He saw me, and said to me. So also acted the blessed Moses, writing all the history about himself as if it concerned another, and saying, "The Lord said unto Moses." [1205] Less habitually was this done by the Apostle Paul, not however in any history which undertakes to explain the course of public events, but in his own epistles. At all events, he speaks thus of himself: "I knew a man in Christ fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up into the third heaven." [1206] And so, when the blessed evangelist also says here, not, I was leaning on Jesus' bosom, but, "There was leaning one of the disciples," let us recognize a custom of our author's, rather than fall into any wonder on the subject. For what loss is there to the truth, when the facts themselves are told us, and all boastfulness of language is in a measure avoided? For thus at least did he relate that which most signally pertained to his praise.

5. But what mean the words, "whom Jesus loved"? As if He did not love the others, of whom this same John has said above, "He loved them to the end" (ver. 1); and as the Lord Himself, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." And who could enumerate all the testimonies of the sacred pages, in which the Lord Jesus is exhibited as the lover, not only of this one, or of those who were then around Him, but of such also as were to be His members in the distant future, and of His universal Church? But there is some truth, doubtless, underlying these words, and having reference to the bosom on which the narrator was leaning. For what else can be in dicated by the bosom but some hidden truth? But there is another more suitable passage, where the Lord may enable us to say something about this secret that may prove sufficient.

6. "Simon Peter therefore beckons, and says to him." [1207] The expression is noteworthy, as indicating that something was said not by any sound of words, but by merely beckoning with the head. "He beckons, and says;" that is, his beckoning is his speech. For if one is said to speak in his thoughts, as Scripture saith, "They said [reasoned] with themselves;" [1208] how much more may he do so by beckoning, which expresses outwardly by some sort of signs what had previously been conceived within! What, then, did his beckoning mean? What else but that which follows? "Who is it of whom He speaks?" Such was the language of Peter's beckoning; for it was by no vocal sounds, but by bodily gestures, that he spake. "He then, having leaned back on Jesus' breast,"--surely the very bosom [1209] of His breast this, the secret place of wisdom!--"saith unto Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a piece of bread, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the bread, Satan entered into him." The traitor was disclosed, the coverts of darkness were revealed. What he got was good, but to his own hurt he received it, because, evil himself, in an evil spirit he received what was good. But we have much to say about that dipped bread which was presented to the false-hearted disciple, and about that which follows; and for these we shall require more time than remains to us now at the close of this discourse.

Footnotes

[1202] 1 John ii. 19. [1203] Chap. xxi. 20-24. [1204] Matt. ix. 9. [1205] Ex. vi. 1. [1206] 2 Cor. xii. 2. [1207] The original mss. give different readings of this verse. That followed by our English version is supported by the Codd. Alex. and Cantabr., which read, Neuei oun touto Simon Petros puthesthai tis an eie peri hou legei. The Latin version used by Augustin reads, Innuit ergo Simon Petrus, et dicit ei, Quis est de quo dicit, and approaches nearly to that found in the Codd. Vat. and Ephr., which read, Neuei houn touto S. P., kai legei auto, Eipe tis estin peri hou legei--"Simon Peter therefore beckons to this one, and says to him, Say [ask], who is it of whom He speaks?" Of the early versions, the Syriac adopts the former, while the Vulgate resembles the latter. The Sinaitic gives a fuller reading, compounded of both the others. There is thus some doubt as to the original text; but the latter has some special arguments of an internal kind in its favor: such as the consideration that, from its peculiar and somewhat redundant form, it could hardly have been substituted in place of the former, which is smoother and more elegant, while the converse is perfectly supposable; and also the weighty fact that John nowhere else makes use of the optative mood, as he would here (tis an eie), if the former reading--that followed by our English version--were the true one.--Tr. [1208] Wisd. of Sol. ii. 1. [1209] Pectoris sinus; the hollow, the inmost part of the breast. .


Tractate LXII.

Chapter XIII. 26-31.

1. I Know, dearly beloved, that some may be moved, as the godly to inquire into the meaning of, and the ungodly to find fault with, the statement, that it was after the Lord had given the bread, that had been dipped, to His betrayer that Satan entered into him. For so it is written: "And when He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the Son of Simon. And after the bread, then entered Satan into him." For they say, Was this the worth of Christ's bread, given from Christ's own table, that after it Satan should enter into His disciple? And the answer we give them is, that thereby we are taught rather how much we need to beware of receiving what is good in a sinful spirit. For the point of special importance is, not the thing that is received, but the person that receives it; and not the character of the thing that is given, but of him to whom it is given. For even good things are hurtful, and evil things are beneficial, according to the character of the recipients. "Sin," says the apostle, "that it might appear sin, wrought death to me by that which is good." [1210] Thus, you see, evil is brought about by the good, so long as that which is good is wrongly received. It is he also that says: "Lest I should be exalted unduly through the greatness of my revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. For which thing I besought the Lord thrice, that He would take it away from me; and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is made perfect in weakness." [1211] And here, you see, good was brought about by that which was evil, when the evil was received in a good spirit. Why, then, do we wonder if Christ's bread was given to Judas, that thereby he should be made over to the devil; when we see, on the other hand, that Paul was visited by a messenger of the devil, that by such an instrumentality he might be perfected in Christ? In this way, both the good was injurious to the evil man, and the evil was beneficial to the good. Bear in mind the meaning of the Scripture, "Whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." [1212] And when the apostle said this, he was dealing with those who were taking the body of the Lord, like any other food, in an undiscerning and careless spirit. If, then, he is thus taken to task who does not discern, that is, does not distinguish from the other kinds of food, the body of the Lord, what condemnation must be his, who in the guise of a friend comes as an enemy to His table! If negligence in the guest is thus visited with blame, what must be the punishment that will fall on the man that sells the very person who has invited him to his table! And why was the bread given to the traitor, but as an evidence of the grace he had treated with ingratitude?

2. It was after this bread, then, that Satan entered into the Lord's betrayer, that, as now given over to his power, he might take full possession of one into whom before this he had only entered in order to lead him into error. For we are not to suppose that he was not in him when he went to the Jews and bargained about the price of betraying the Lord; for the evangelist Luke very plainly attests this when he says: "Then entered Satan into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, being one of the twelve; and he went his way, and communed with the chief priests." [1213] Here, you see, it is shown that Satan had already entered into Judas. His first entrance, therefore, was when he implanted in his heart the thought of betraying Christ; for in such a spirit had he already come to the supper. But now, after the bread, he entered into him, no longer to tempt one who belonged to another, but to take possession of him as his own.

3. But it was not then, as some thoughtless readers suppose, that Judas received the body of Christ. For we are to understand that the Lord had already dispensed to all of them the sacrament of His body and blood, when Judas also was present, as very clearly related by Saint Luke; [1214] and it was after this that we come to the moment when, in accordance with John's account, the Lord made a full disclosure of His betrayer by dipping and holding out to him the morsel of bread, and intimating perhaps by the dipping of the bread the false pretensions of the other. For the dipping of a thing does not always imply its washing; but some things are dipped in order to be dyed. But if a good meaning is to be here attached to the dipping, his ingratitude for that good was deservedly followed by damnation.

4. But still, possessed as Judas now was, not by the Lord, but by the devil, and now that the bread had entered the belly, and an enemy the soul of this man of ingratitude: still, I say, there was this enormous wickedness, already conceived in his heart, waiting to be wrought out to its full issue, for which the damnable desire had always preceded. Accordingly, when the Lord, the living Bread, had given this bread to the dead, and in giving it had revealed the betrayer of the Bread, He said, "What thou doest, do quickly." He did not command the crime, but foretold evil to Judas, and good to us. For what could be worse for Judas, or what could be better for us, than the delivering up of Christ,--a deed done by him to his own destruction, but done, apart from him, in our behalf? "What thou doest, do quickly." Oh that word of One whose wish was to be ready rather than to be angry! That word! expressing not so much the punishment of the traitor as the reward awaiting the Redeemer! For He said, "What thou doest, do quickly," not as wrathfully looking to the destruction of the trust-betrayer, but in His own haste to accomplish the salvation of the faithful; for He was delivered for our offences, [1215] and He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. [1216] And as the apostle also says of himself: "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." [1217] Had not, then, Christ given Himself, no one could have given Him up. What is there in Judas' conduct but sin? For in delivering up Christ he had no thought of our salvation, for which Christ was really delivered, but thought only of his money gain, and found the loss of his soul. He got the wages he wished, but had also given him, against his wish, the wages he merited. Judas delivered up Christ, Christ delivered Himself up: the former transacted the business of his own selling of his Master, the latter the business of our redemption. "What thou doest, do quickly," not because thou hast the power in thyself, but because He wills it who has all the power.

5. "Now no one of those at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the money-bag, that Jesus said unto him, Buy those things which we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor." The Lord, therefore, had also a money-box, where He kept the offerings of believers, and distributed to the necessities of His own, and to others who were in need. It was then that the custom of having church-money was first introduced, so that thereby we might understand that His precept about taking no thought for the morrow [1218] was not a command that no money should be kept by His saints, but that God should not be served for any such end, and that the doing of what is right should not be held in abeyance through the fear of want. For the apostle also has this foresight for the future, when he says: "If any believer hath widows, let him give them enough, that the church may not be burdened, that it may have enough for them that are widows indeed." [1219]

6. "He then, having received the morsel of bread, went immediately out: and it was night." And he that went out was himself the night. "Therefore when" the night "was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified." The day therefore uttered speech unto the day, that is, Christ did so to His faithful disciples, that they might hear and love Him as His followers; and the night showed knowledge unto the night, [1220] that is, Judas did so to the unbelieving Jews, that they might come as His persecutors, and make Him their prisoner. But now, in considering these words of the Lord, which were addressed to the godly, before His arrest by the ungodly, special attention on the part of the hearer is required; and therefore it will be more becoming in the preacher, instead of hurriedly considering them now, to defer them till a future occasion.

Footnotes

[1210] Rom. vii. 13. [1211] 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. [1212] 1 Cor. xi. 27. [1213] Luke xxii. 3, 4. [1214] Luke xxii. 19-21. [1215] Rom. iv. 25. [1216] Eph. v. 25. [1217] Gal. ii. 20. [1218] Matt. vi. 34. [1219] 1 Tim. v. 16. [1220] Ps. xix. 2. .


Tractate LXIII.

Chapter XIII. 31-32.

1. Let us give our mind's best attention, and, with the Lord's help, seek after God. The language of the divine hymn is: "Seek God and your soul shall live." [1221] Let us search for that which needs to be discovered, and into that which has been discovered. He whom we need to discover is concealed, in order to be sought after; and when found, is infinite, in order still to be the object of our search. Hence it is elsewhere said, "Seek His face evermore." [1222] For He satisfies the seeker to the utmost of his capacity; and makes the finder still more capable, that he may seek to be filled anew, according to the growth of his ability to receive. Therefore it was not said, "Seek His face evermore," in the same sense as of certain others, who are "always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth;" [1223] but rather as the preacher saith, "When a man hath finished, then he beginneth;" [1224] till we reach that life where we shall be so filled, that our natures shall attain their utmost capacity, because we shall have arrived at perfection, and no longer be aiming at more. For then all that can satisfy us will be revealed to our eyes. But here let us always be seeking, and let our reward in finding put no end to our searching. For we do not say that it will not be so always, because it is only so here; but that here we must always be seeking, lest at any time we should imagine that here we can ever cease from seeking. For those of whom it is said that they are "always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth," are here indeed always learning; but when they depart this life they will no longer be learning, but receiving the reward of their error. For the words, "always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth," mean, as it were, always walking, and never getting into the road. Let us, on the other hand, be walking always in the way, till we reach the end to which it leads; let us nowhere tarry in it till we reach the proper place of abode: and so we shall both persevere in our seeking, and be making some attainments in our finding, and, thus seeking and finding, be passing on to that which remains, till the very end of all seeking shall be reached in that world where perfection shall admit of no further effort at advancement. Let these prefatory remarks, dearly beloved, make your Charity attentive to this discourse of our Lord's, which He addressed to the disciples before His passion: for it is profound in it self; and where, in particular, the preacher purposes to expend much labor, the hearer ought not to be remiss in attention.

2. What is it, then, that the Lord says, after that Judas went out, to do quickly what he purposed doing, namely, betraying the Lord? What says the day when the night had gone out? What says the Redeemer when the seller had departed? "Now," He says, "is the Son of man glorified." Why "now"? It was not, was it, merely that His betrayer was gone out, and that those were at hand who were to seize and slay Him? Is it thus that He "is now glorified," to wit, that His deeper humiliation is approaching; that over Him are impending both bonds, and judgment, and condemnation, and mocking, and crucifixion, and death? Is this glorification, or rather humiliation? Even when He was working miracles, does not this very John say of Him, "The Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified"? [1225] Even then, therefore, when He was raising the dead, He was not yet glorified; and is He glorified now, when drawing near in His own person unto death? He was not yet glorified when acting as God, and is He glorified in going to suffer as man? It would be strange if it were this that God, the great Master, signified and taught in such words. We must ascend higher to unveil the words of the Highest, who reveals Himself somewhat that we may find Him, and anon hides Himself that we may seek Him, and so press on step by step, as it were, from discoveries already made to those that still await us. I get here a sight of something that prefigures a great reality. Judas went out, and Jesus is glorified; the son of perdition went out, and the Son of man is glorified. He it was that had gone out, on whose account it had been said to them all, "And ye are clean, but not all" (ver. 10). When, therefore, the unclean one departed, all that remained were clean, and continued with their Cleanser. Something like this will it be when this world shall have been conquered by Christ, and shall have passed away, and there shall be no one that is unclean remaining among His people; when, the tares having been separated from the wheat, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. [1226] The Lord, foreseeing such a future as this, and in testimony that such was signified now in the separation of the tares, as it were, by the departure of Judas, and the remaining behind of the wheat in the persons of the holy apostles, said, "Now is the Son of man glorified:" as if He had said, See, so will it be in that day of my glorification yet to come, when none of the wicked shall be present, and none of the good shall be wanting. His words, however, are not expressed in this way: Now is prefigured the glorification of the Son of man; but expressly, "Now is the Son of man glorified:" just as it was not said, The Rock signified Christ; but, "That Rock was Christ." [1227] Nor is it said, The good seed signified the children of the kingdom, or, The tares signified the children of the wicked one; but what is said is, "The good seed, these are the children of the kingdom; and the tares, the children of the wicked one." [1228] According, then, to the usage of Scripture language, which speaks of the signs as if they were the things signified, the Lord makes use of the words, "Now is the Son of man glorified;" indicating that in the completed separation of that arch sinner from their company, and in the remaining around Him of His saints, we have the foreshadowing of His glorification, when the wicked shall be finally separated, and He shall dwell with His saints through eternity.

3. But after saying, "Now is the Son of man glorified," He added, "and God is glorified in Him." For this is itself the glorifying of the Son of man, that God should be glorified in Him. For if He is not glorified in Himself, but God in Him, then it is He whom God glorifies in Himself. And just as if to give them this explanation, He furthers adds: "If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself." That is, "If God is glorified in Him," because He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him; "and God shall glorify Him in Himself," in such wise that the human nature, in which He is the Son of man, and which was so assumed by the eternal Word, should also be endowed with an eternal immortality. "And," He says, "He shall straightway glorify Him;" predicting, to wit, by such an asseveration, His own resurrection in the immediate future, and not, as it were, ours in the end of the world. For it is this very glorification of which the evangelist had previously said, as I mentioned a little ago, that on this account the Spirit was not yet in their case given in that new way, in which He was yet to be given after the resurrection to those who believed, because that Jesus was not yet glorified: that is, mortality was not yet clothed with immortality, and temporal weakness transformed into eternal strength. This glorification may also be indicated in the words, "Now is the Son of man glorified;" so that the word "now" may be supposed to refer, not to His impending passion, but to His closely succeeding resurrection, as if what was now so near at hand had actually been accomplished. Let this suffice your affection to-day; we shall take up, when the Lord permits us, the words that follow.

Footnotes

[1221] Ps. lxix. 32. [1222] Ps. cv. 4. [1223] 2 Tim. iii. 7. [1224] Ecclus. xviii. 7. [1225] Chap. vii. 39. [1226] Matt. xiii. 43. [1227] 1 Cor. x. 4. [1228] Matt. xiii. 38. .


Tractate LXIV.

Chapter XIII. 31-32.

1. It becomes us, dearly beloved, to keep in view the orderly connection of our Lord's words. For after having previously said, but subsequently to Judas' departure, and his separation from even the outward communion of the saints, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;"--whether He said so as pointing to His future kingdom, when the wicked shall be separated from the good, or that His resurrection was then to take place, that is, was not to be delayed, like ours, till the end of the world;--and having then added, "If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him," whereby without any ambiguity He testified to the immediate fulfillment of His own resurrection; He proceeded to say, "Little children, yet a little while I am with you." To keep them, therefore, from thinking that God was to glorify Him in such a way that He would never again be joined with them in earthly intercourse, He said, "Yet a little while I am with you:" as if He had said, Straightway indeed I shall be glorified in my resurrection; and yet I am not straightway to ascend into heaven, but "yet a little while I am with you." For, as we find it written in the Acts of the Apostles, He spent forty days with them after His resurrection, going in and out, and eating and drinking: [1229] not indeed that He had any experience of hunger and thirst, but even by such evidences confirmed the reality of His flesh, which no longer needed, but still possessed the power, to eat and to drink. Was it, then, these forty days He had in view when He said, "Yet a little while I am with you," or something else? For it may also be understood in this way: "Yet a little while I am with you;" still, like you, I also am in this state of fleshly infirmity, that is, till He should die and rise again: for after He rose again He was with them, as has been said, for forty days in the full manifestation of His bodily presence; but He was no longer with them in the fellowship of human infirmity.

2. There is also another form of His divine presence unknown to mortal senses, of which He likewise says, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." [1230] This, at least, is not the same as "yet a little while I am with you;" for it is not a little while until the end of the world. Or if even this is so (for time flies, and a thousand years are in God's sight as one day, or as a watch in the night,) [1231] yet we cannot believe that He intended any such meaning on this occasion, especially as He went on to say, "Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come." That is to say, after this little while that I am with you, "ye shall seek me, and whither I go, ye cannot come." Is it after the end of the world that, whither He goes, they will not be able to come? And where, then, is the place of which He is going to say a little after in this same discourse, "Father, I will that they also be with me where I am"? [1232] It was not then of that presence of His with His own which He is maintaining with them till the end of the world that He now spake, when He said, "Yet a little while I am with you;" but either of that state of mortal infirmity in which He dwelt with them till His passion, or of that bodily presence which He was to maintain with them up till His ascension. Whichever of these any one prefers, he can do so without being at variance with the faith.

3. That no one, however, may deem that sense inconsistent with the true one, in which we say that the Lord may have meant the communion of mortal flesh which He held with the disciples till His passion, when He said, "Yet a little while I am with you;" let those words also of His after His resurrection, as found in another evangelist, be taken into consideration, when He said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you:" [1233] as if then He was no longer with them, even at the very time that they were standing by, seeing, touching, and talking with Him. What does He mean, then, by saying, "while I was yet with you," but, while I was yet in that state of mortal flesh wherein ye still remain? For then, indeed, He had been raised again in the same flesh; but He was no longer associated with them in the same mortality. And accordingly, as on that occasion, when now clothed in fleshly immortality, He said with truth, "while I was yet with you," to which we can attach no other meaning than, while I was yet with you in fleshly mortality; so here also, without any absurdity, we may understand His words, "Yet a little while I am with you," as if He had said, Yet a little while I am mortal like yourselves. Let us look, then, at the words that follow.

4. "Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so say I to you now." That is, ye cannot come now. But when He said so to the Jews, He did not add the "now." [1234] The former, therefore, were not able at that time to come where He was going, but they were so afterwards; because He says so a little afterwards in the plainest terms to the Apostle Peter. For, on the latter inquiring, "Lord, whither goest Thou?" He replied to him, "Whither I go thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards" (ver. 36). But what it means is not to be carelessly passed over. For whither was it that the disciples could not then follow the Lord, but were able afterwards? If we say, to death, what time can be discovered when any one of the sons of men will find it impossible to die; since such, in this perishable body, is the lot of man, that therein life is not a whit easier than death? They were not, therefore, at that time less able to follow the Lord to death, but they were less able to follow Him to the life which is deathless. For thither it was the Lord was going, that, rising from the dead, He should die no more, and death should no more have dominion over Him. [1235] For as the Lord was about to die for righteousness' sake, how could they have followed Him now, who were as yet unripe for the ordeal of martyrdom? Or, with the Lord about to enter the fleshly immortality, how could they have followed Him now, when, even though ready to die, they would have no resurrection till the end of the world? Or, on the point of going, as the Lord was, to the bosom of the Father, and that without any forsaking of them, just as He had never quitted that bosom in coming to them, how could they have followed Him now, since no one can enter on that state of felicity but he that is made perfect in love? And to show them, therefore, how it is that they may attain the fitness to proceed, where He was going before them, He says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another" (ver. 34). These are the steps whereby Christ must be followed; but any fuller discourse thereon must be put off till another opportunity.

Footnotes

[1229] Acts i. 3. [1230] Matt. xxviii. 20. [1231] Ps. xc. 4. [1232] Chap. xvii. 24. [1233] Luke xxiv. 44. [1234] Scarcely an admissible use of the "now" (arti), which manifestly refers to the time of Jesus saying so to the disciples, and not to the period of their inability to come.--Tr. [1235] Rom. vi. 9. .


Tractate LXV.

Chapter XIII. 34, 35.

1. The Lord Jesus declares that He is giving His disciples a new commandment, that they should love one another. "A new commandment," He says, "I give unto you, that ye love one another." But was not this already commanded in the ancient law of God, where it is written, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"? [1236] Why, then, is it called a new one by the Lord, when it is proved to be so old? Is it on this account a new commandment, because He hath divested us of the old, and clothed us with the new man? For it is not indeed every kind of love that renews him that listens to it, or rather yields it obedience, but that love regarding which the Lord, in order to distinguish it from all carnal affection, added, "as I have loved you." For husbands and wives love one another, and parents and children, and all other human relationships that bind men together: to say nothing of the blame-worthy and damnable love which is mutually felt by adulterers and adulteresses, by fornicators and prostitutes, and all others who are knit together by no human relationship, but by the mischievous depravity of human life. Christ, therefore, hath given us a new commandment, that we should love one another, as He also hath loved us. This is the love that renews us, making us new men, heirs of the New Testament, singers of the new song. It was this love, brethren beloved, that renewed also those of olden time, who were then the righteous, the patriarchs and prophets, as it did afterwards the blessed apostles: it is it, too, that is now renewing the nations, and from among the universal race of man, which overspreads the whole world, is making and gathering together a new people, the body of the newly-married spouse of the only-begotten Son of God, of whom it is said in the Song of Songs, "Who is she that ascendeth, made white?" [1237] Made white indeed, because renewed; and how, but by the new commandment? Because of this, the members thereof have a mutual interest in one another; and if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. [1238] For this they hear and observe, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another:" not as those love one another who are corrupters, nor as men love one another in a human way; but they love one another as those who are God's, and all of them sons of the Highest, and brethren, therefore, of His only Son, with that mutual love wherewith He loved them, when about to lead them on to the goal where all sufficiency should be theirs, and where their every desire should be satisfied with good things. [1239] For then there will be nothing wanting they can desire, when God will be all in all. [1240] An end like that has no end. No one dieth there, where no one arriveth save he that dieth to this world, not that universal kind of death whereby the body is bereft of the soul; but the death of the elect, through which, even while still remaining in this mortal flesh, the heart is set on the things which are above. Of such a death it is that the apostle said, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." [1241] And perhaps to this, also, do the words refer, "Love is strong as death." [1242] For by this love it is brought about, that, while still held in the present corruptible body, we die to this world, and our life is hid with Christ in God; yea, that love itself is our death to the world, and our life with God. For if that is death when the soul quits the body, how can it be other than death when our love quits the world? Such love, therefore, is strong as death. And what is stronger than that which bindeth the world?

2. Think not then, my brethren, that when the Lord says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another," there is any overlooking of that greater commandment, which requires us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind; for along with this seeming oversight, the words "that ye love one another" appear also as if they had no reference to that second commandment, which says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." For "on these two commandments," He says, "hang all the law and the prophets." [1243] But both commandments may be found in each of these by those who have good understanding. For, on the one hand, he that loveth God cannot despise His commandment to love his neighbor; and on the other, he who in a holy and spiritual way loveth his neighbor, what doth he love in him but God? That is the love, distinguished from all mundane love, which the Lord specially characterized, when He added, "as I have loved you." For what was it but God that He loved in us? Not because we had Him, but in order that we might have Him; and that He may lead us on, as I said a little ago, where God is all in all. It is in this way, also, that the physician is properly said to love the sick; and what is it he loves in them but their health, which at all events he desires to recall; not their sickness, which he comes to remove? Let us, then, also so love one another, that, as far as possible, we may by the solicitude of our love be winning one another to have God within us. And this love is bestowed on us by Him who said, "As I have loved you, that ye also love one another." For this very end, therefore, did He love us, that we also should love one another; bestowing this on us by His own love to us, that we should be bound to one another in mutual love, and, united together as members by so pleasant a bond, should be the body of so mighty a Head.

3. "By this," He adds, "Shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another:" as if He said, Other gifts of mine are possessed in common with you by those who are not mine,--not only nature, life, perception, reason, and that safety which is equally the privilege of men and beasts; but also languages, sacraments, prophecy, knowledge, faith, the bestowing of their goods upon the poor, and the giving of their body to the flames: but because destitute of charity, they only tinkle like cymbals; they are nothing, and by nothing are they profited. [1244] It is not, then, by such gifts of mine, however good, which may be alike possessed by those who are not my disciples, but "by this it is that all men shall know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another." O thou spouse of Christ, fair amongst women! O thou who ascendest in whiteness, leaning upon thy Beloved! for by His light thou art made dazzling to whiteness, by His assistance thou art preserved from falling. How well becoming thee are the words in that Song of Songs, which is, as it were, thy bridal chant, "That there is love in thy delights"! [1245] This it is that suffers not thy soul to perish with the ungodly; it is this that judges thy cause, and is strong as death, and is present in thy delights. How wonderful is the character of that death, which was all but swallowed up in penal sufferings, had it not been over and above absorbed in delights! But here this discourse must now be closed; for we must make a new commencement in dealing with the words that follow.

Footnotes

[1236] Lev. xix. 18. [1237] Song of Sol. viii. 5, where Augustin, in dealbata, follows the Septuagint in their misreading and alteration of the original M%iN%H+aM+uiD+B+uoR+, "from the wilderness" (as in chap. iii. 6), into M+iX+B+uoR+R+X+ ,M+iX+L+aB+uN+X+, or some such participle. The Vulgate differs from Augustin, and reads correctly, de deserto, but interposes between this and the next clause another participial expression, deliciis affuens, abounding in delights. Our English version follows the original.--Tr. [1238] 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26. [1239] Ps. ciii. 5. [1240] 1 Cor. xv. 28. [1241] Col. iii. 3. [1242] Song of Sol. viii. 6. [1243] Matt. xxii. 37-40. [1244] 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. [1245] Song of Sol. vii. 6, according to the Septuagint. It is very doubtful, however, whether the LXX. themselves held the meaning drawn from their version by Augustin. It seems all to depend on where they inserted the point of interrogation (;); and the mss. vary. The Vatican, that in common use, places it after agape (love), which could hardly have been Augustin's reading. Other mss. place it at the end of the verse, making the whole a single sentence, as in our English version. Augustin must have found the point immediately after hedunthes ("thou art pleasant"), thus disjoining agape from what precedes, and making it, with en truphais sou, a clause by itself. The Masoretic punctuation of the Hebrew gives some grounds for Augustin's reading: for there is a larger disjunctive accent over N+E+M+H+ ("thou art pleasant"), indicating the central pause of the verse; while the minor disjunctive under #H+B+H+ may only be intended to make up by emphasis for the abruptness of the language.--Tr. .


Tractate LXVI.

Chapter XIII. 36-38.

1. While the Lord Jesus was commending to the disciples that holy love wherewith they should love one another, "Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, whither goest Thou?" So, at all events, said the disciple to his Master, the servant to his Lord, as one who was prepared to follow. Just as for the same reason the Lord, who read in his mind the purpose of such a question, made him this reply: "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now;" as if He said, In reference to the object of thy asking, thou canst not now. He does not say, Thou canst not; but "Thou canst not now." He intimated delay, without depriving of hope; and that same hope, which He took not away, but rather bestowed, in His next words He confirmed, by proceeding to say, "Thou shalt follow me afterwards." Why such haste, Peter? The Rock (petra) has not yet solidified thee by His Spirit. Be not lifted up with presumption, "Thou canst not now;" be not cast now into despair, "Thou shalt follow afterwards." But what does he say to this? "Why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake." He saw what was the kind of desire in his mind; but what the measure of his strength, he saw not. The weak man boasted of his willingness, but the Physician had an eye on the state of his health; the one promised, the Other foreknew: the ignorant was bold; He that foreknew all, condescended to teach. How much had Peter taken upon himself, by looking only at what he wished, and having no knowledge of what he was able! How much had he taken upon himself, that, when the Lord had come to lay down His life for His friends, and so for him also, he should have the assurance to offer to do the same for the Lord; and while as yet Christ's life was not laid down for himself, he should promise to lay down his own life for Christ! "Jesus" therefore "answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?" Wilt thou do for me what I have not yet done for thee? "Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?" Canst thou go before, who art unable to follow? Why dost thou presume so far? what dost thou think of thyself? what dost thou imagine thyself to be? Hear what thou art: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice." See, that is how thou wilt speedily become manifest to thyself, who art now talking so loftily, and knowest not that thou art but a child. Thou promisest me thy death, and thou wilt deny me thy life. Thou, who now thinkest thyself able to die for me, learn to live first for thyself; for in fearing the death of thy flesh, thou wilt occasion the death of thy soul. Just as much as it is life to confess Christ, it is death to deny Him.

2. Or was it that the Apostle Peter, as some with a perverse kind of favor strive to excuse him, [1246] did not deny Christ, because, when questioned by the maid, he replied that he did not know the man, as the other evangelists more expressly affirm? As if, indeed, he that denies the man Christ does not deny Christ; and so denies Him in respect of what He became on our account, that the nature He had given us might not be lost. Whoever, therefore, acknowledges Christ as God, and disowns Him as man, Christ died not for him; for as man it was that Christ died. He who disowns Christ as man, finds no reconciliation to God by the Mediator. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. [1247] He that denies Christ as man is not justified: for as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one man shall many be made righteous. [1248] He that denies Christ as man, shall not rise again into the resurrection of life; for by man is death, and by man is also the resurrection of the dead: for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [1249] And by what means is He the Head of the Church, but by His manhood, because the Word was made flesh, that is, God, the Only-begotten of God the Father, became man. And how then can one be in the body of Christ who denies the man Christ? Or how can one be a member who disowns the Head? But why linger over a multitude of reasons when the Lord Himself undoes all the windings of human argumentation? For He says not, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied the man; or, as He was wont to speak in His more familiar condescension with men, The cock shall not crow till thou hast thrice denied the Son of man; but He says, "till thou hast denied me thrice." What is that "me," but just what He was, and what was He but Christ? Whatever of Him, therefore, he denied, he denied Himself, he denied the Christ, he denied the Lord his God. For Thomas also, his fellow-disciple, when he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God," did not handle the Word, but only His flesh; and laid not his inquisitive hands on the incorporeal nature of God, but on His human body. [1250] And so he touched the man, and yet recognized his God. If, then, what the latter touched, Peter denied; what the latter invoked, Peter offended. "The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice." Although thou say, "I know not the man;" although thou say, "Man, I know not what thou sayest;" although thou say, "I am not one of His disciples;" [1251] thou wilt be denying me. If, which it were sinful to doubt, Christ so spake, and foretold the truth, then doubtless Peter denied Christ. Let us not accuse Christ in defending Peter. Let infirmity acknowledge its sin; for there is no falsehood in the Truth. When Peter's infirmity acknowledged its sin, his acknowledgment was full; and the greatness of the evil he had committed in denying Christ, he showed by his tears. He himself reproves his defenders, and for their conviction, brings his tears forward as witnesses. Nor have we, on our part, in so speaking, any delight in accusing the first of the apostles; but in looking on him, we ought to take home the lesson to ourselves, that no man should place his confidence in human strength. For what else had our Teacher and Saviour in view, but to show us, by making the first of the apostles himself an example, that no one ought in any way to presume of himself? And that, therefore, really took place in Peter's soul, for which he gave cause in his body. And yet he did not go before in the Lord's behalf, as he rashly presumed, but did so otherwise than he reckoned. For before the death and resurrection of the Lord, he both died when he denied, and returned to life when he wept; but he died, because he himself had been proud in his presumption, and he lived again, because that Other had looked on him with kindness.

Footnotes

[1246] See Ambrose, on Luke xxii. [1247] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [1248] Rom. v. 19. [1249] 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22. [1250] Chap. xx. 27, 28. [1251] Matt. xxvi. 34, 69-74, and Luke xxii. 55-60. .


Tractate LXVII.

Chapter XIV. 1-3.

1. Our special attention, brethren, must be earnestly turned to God, in order that we may be able to obtain some intelligent apprehension of the words of the holy Gospel, which have just been ringing in our ears. For the Lord Jesus saith: "Let not your heart be troubled. Believe [1252] in God, and believe [or, believe also] in me." That they might not as men be afraid of death, and so be troubled, He comforts them by affirming Himself also to be God. "Believe," He says, "in God, believe also in me." For it follows as a consequence, that if ye believe in God, ye ought to believe also in me: which were no consequence if Christ were not God. "Believe in God, and believe in" Him, who, by nature and not by robbery, is equal with God; for He emptied Himself; not, however, by losing the form of God, but by taking the form of a servant. [1253] You are afraid of death as regards this servant form, "let not your heart be troubled," the form of God will raise it again.

2. But why have we this that follows, "In my Father's house are many mansions," but that they were also in fear about themselves? And therein they might have heard the words, "Let not your heart be troubled." For, was there any of them that could be free from fear, when Peter, the most confident and forward of them all, was told, "The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice"? [1254] Considering themselves, therefore, beginning with Peter, as destined to perish, they had cause to be troubled: but when they now hear, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you," they are revived from their trouble, made certain and confident that after all the perils of temptations they shall dwell with Christ in the presence of God. For, albeit one is stronger than another, one wiser than another, one more righteous than another, "in the Father's house there are many mansions;" none of them shall remain outside that house, where every one, according to his deserts, is to receive a mansion. All alike have that penny, which the householder orders to be given to all that have wrought in the vineyard, making no distinction therein between those who have labored less and those who have labored more: [1255] by which penny, of course, is signified eternal life, whereto no one any longer lives to a different length than others, since in eternity life has no diversity in its measure. But the many mansions point to the different grades of merit in that one eternal life. For there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory; and so also the resurrection of the dead. The saints, like the stars in the sky, obtain in the kingdom different mansions of diverse degrees of brightness; but on account of that one penny no one is cut off from the kingdom; and God will be all in all [1256] in such a way, that, as God is love, [1257] love will bring it about that what is possessed by each will be common to all. For in this way every one really possesses it, when he loves to see in another what he has not himself. There will not, therefore, be any envying amid this diversity of brightness, since in all of them will be reigning the unity of love.

3. Every Christian heart, therefore, must utterly reject the idea of those who imagine that there are many mansions spoken of, because there will be some place outside the kingdom of heaven, which shall be the abode of those blessed innocents who have departed this life without baptism, because without it they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Faith like this is not faith, inasmuch as it is not the true and catholic faith. Are you not so foolish and blinded with carnal imaginations as to be worthy of reprobation, if you should thus separate the mansion, I say not of Peter and Paul, or any of the apostles, but even of any baptized infant from the kingdom of heaven; do you not think yourselves deserving of reprobation in thus putting a separation between these and the house of God the Father? For the Lord's words are not, In the whole world, or, In all creation, or, In everlasting life and blessedness, there are many mansions; but He says, "In my Father's house are many mansions." Is not that the house where we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens? [1258] Is not that the house whereof we sing to the Lord, "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they shall praise Thee for ever and ever"? [1259] Will you then venture to separate from the kingdom of heaven the house, not of every baptized brother, but of God the Father Himself, to whom all we who are brethren say, "Our Father, who art in heaven," [1260] or divide it in such a way as to make some of its mansions inside, and some outside, the kingdom of heaven? Far, far be it from those who desire to dwell in the kingdom of heaven, to be willing to dwell in such folly with you: far be it, I say, that since every house of sons that are reigning can be nowhere else but in the kingdom, any part of the royal house itself should be outside the kingdom.

4. "And if I go," He says, "and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." O Lord Jesus, how goest Thou to prepare a place, if there are already many mansions in Thy Father's house, where Thy people shall dwell with Thyself? Or if Thou receivest them unto Thyself, how wilt Thou come again, who never withdrawest Thy presence? Such subjects as these, beloved, were we to attempt to explain them with such brevity as seems within the proper bounds of our discourse to-day, would certainly suffer in clearness from compression, and the very brevity would become itself a second obscurity; we shall therefore defer this debt, which the bounty of our Family-head will enable us to repay at a more suitable opportunity.

Footnotes

[1252] A few of the mss. have "ye believe," after the Vulgate: the Greek verb also, pisteuete which occurs twice in this clause, is doubtful, signifying, ye believe, or, believe (imperative).--Migne. [1253] Phil. ii. 6, 7. [1254] Chap. xiii. 38. [1255] Matt. xx. 9. [1256] 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42, 28. [1257] 1 John iv. 8. [1258] 2 Cor. v. 1. [1259] Ps. lxxxiv. 4. [1260] Matt. vi. 9. .


Tractate LXVIII.

on the same passage.

1. We acknowledge, beloved brethren, that we are owing you, and ought now to repay, what was left over for consideration, how we can understand that there is no real mutual contrariety between these two statements, namely, that after saying, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, that I go to prepare a place for you;"--where He makes it clear enough that He said so to them for the very reason that there are many mansions there already, and there is no need of preparing any; [1261] --the Lord again says: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." How is it that He goes and prepares a place, if there are many mansions already? If there were not such, He would have said, "I go to prepare." Or if the place has still to be prepared, would He not then also properly have said, "I go to prepare"? Are these mansions in existence already, and yet needing still to be prepared? For if they were not in existence, He would have said, "I go to prepare." And yet, because their present state of existence is such as still to stand in need of preparation, He does not go to prepare them in the same sense as they already exist; but if He go and prepare them as they shall be hereafter, He will come again and receive His own to Himself: that where He is, there they may be also. How then are there mansions in the Father's house, and these not different ones but the same, which already exist in a sense in which they can admit of no preparation, and yet do not exist, inasmuch as they are still to be prepared? How are we to think of this, but in the same way as the prophet, who also declares of God, that He has [already] made that which is yet to be. For he says not, Who will make what is yet to be, but, "Who has made what is yet to be." [1262] Therefore He has both made such things and is yet to make them. For they have not been made at all if He has not made them; nor will they ever be if He make them not Himself. He has made them therefore in the way of fore-ordaining them; He has yet to make them in the way of actual elaboration. Just as the Gospel plainly intimates when He chose His disciples, that is to say, at the time of His calling them; [1263] and yet the apostle says, "He chose us before the foundation of the world," [1264] to wit, by predestination, not by actual calling. "And whom He did predestinate, them He also called;" [1265] He hath chosen by predestination before the foundation of the world, He chooses by calling before its close. And so also has He prepared those mansions, and is still preparing them and He who has already made the things which are yet to be, is now preparing, not different ones, but the very mansions He has already prepared: what He has prepared in predestination, He is preparing by actual working. Already, therefore, they are, as respects predestination; if it were not so, He would have said, I will go and prepare, that is, I will predestinate. But because they are not yet in a state of practical preparedness, He says, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself."

2. But He is in a certain sense preparing the dwellings by preparing for them the dwellers. As, for instance, when He said, "In my Father's house are many dwellings," what else can we suppose the house of God to mean but the temple of God? And what that is, ask the apostle, and he will reply, "For the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are." [1266] This is also the kingdom of God, which the Son is yet to deliver up to the Father; and hence the same apostle says, "Christ, the beginning, and then they that are Christ's in His presence; then [cometh] the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;" [1267] that is, those whom He has redeemed by His blood, He shall then have delivered up to stand before His Father's face. This is that kingdom of heaven whereof it is said, "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field. But the good seed are the children of the kingdom;" and although now they are mingled with tares, at the end the King Himself shall send forth His angels, "and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." [1268] The kingdom will shine forth in the kingdom when [those that are] the kingdom shall have reached the kingdom; just as we now pray when we say, "Thy kingdom come." [1269] Even now, therefore, already is the kingdom called, but only as yet being called together. For if it were not now called, it could not be then said, "They shall gather out of His kingdom everything that offends." But the realm is not yet reigning. Accordingly it is already so far the kingdom, that when all offences shall have been gathered out of it, it shall then attain to sovereignty, so as to possess not merely the name of a kingdom, but also the power of government. For it is to this kingdom, standing then at the right hand, that it shall be said in the end, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom;" [1270] that is, ye who were the kingdom, but without the power to rule, come and reign; that what you formerly were only in hope, you may now have the power to be in reality. This house of God, therefore, this temple of God, this kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven, is as yet in the process of building, of construction, of preparation, of assembling. In it there will be mansions, even as the Lord is now preparing them; in it there are such already, even as the Lord has already ordained them.

3. But why is it that He went away to make such preparation, when, as it is certainly we ourselves that are the subjects in need of preparation, His doing so will be hindered by leaving us behind? I explain it, Lord, as I can: it was surely this Thou didst signify by the preparation of those mansions, that the just ought to live by faith. [1271] For he who is sojourning at a distance from the Lord has need to be living by faith, because by this we are prepared for beholding His countenance. [1272] For "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;" [1273] and "He purifieth their hearts by faith." [1274] The former we find in the Gospel, the latter in the Acts of the Apostles. But the faith by which those who are yet to see God have their hearts purified, while sojourning at a distance here, believeth what it doth not see; for if there is sight, there is no longer faith. Merit is accumulating now to the believer, and then the reward is paid into the hand of the beholder. Let the Lord then go and prepare us a place; let Him go, that He may not be seen; and let Him remain concealed, that faith may be exercised. For then is the place preparing, if it is by faith we are living. Let the believing in that place be desired, that the place desired may itself be possessed; the longing of love is the preparation of the mansion. Prepare thus, Lord, what Thou art preparing; for Thou art preparing us for Thyself, and Thyself for us, inasmuch as Thou art preparing a place both for Thyself in us, and for us in Thee. For Thou hast said, "Abide in me, and I in you." [1275] As far as each one has been a partaker of Thee, some less, some more, such will be the diversity of rewards in proportion to the diversity of merits; such will be the multitude of mansions to suit the inequalities among their inmates; but all of them, none the less, eternally living, and endlessly blessed. Why is it that Thou goest away? Why is it Thou comest again? If I understand Thee aright, Thou withdrawest not Thyself either from the place Thou goest from, or from the place Thou comest from: Thou goest away by becoming invisible, Thou comest by again becoming manifest to our eyes. But unless Thou remainest to direct us how we may still be advancing in goodness of life, how will the place be prepared where we shall be able to dwell in the fullness of joy? Let what we have said suffice on the words which have been read from the Gospel as far as "I will come again, and receive you to myself." But the meaning of what follows, "That where I am, there ye may be also; and whither I go ye know, and the way ye know," we shall be in a better condition--after the question put by the disciple, that follows, and which we also may be putting, as it were, through him--for hearing, and more suitably situated for making the subject of our discourse.

Footnotes

[1261] The apparent contrariety that Augustin here deals with, partly arises from a mistaken interpretation of the second half of verse 2, as given above. His Latin version read, si quo minus, dixissem vobis quia vado,etc., and is a close verbal rendering of the original text, as found in several mss.,--ei de me, eipon an humin, hoti poreuomai,--although some others omit the hoti. But while verbally exact, grammatical accuracy and a fair exegesis will admit of a pause after humin (vobis), as the general sense of the passage requires. ;'Oti might thus be used in the sense of "because;" or, as it often is, as a particle introducing a direct statement.--Tr. [1262] Isa. xlv. 11, according to the Septuagint, whose reading, as usual, is followed by Augustin, although here a very manifest mistranslation of the Hebrew. The words are, "Thus saith Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel (W+J+ZJuR+W+ H+#J+T+W+T+ Sh#L+W+N+J+) and his Maker, Ask me of things to come," etc. This is the rendering really in accordance with the usual Hebrew idiom, with the sense of the passage itself, and with the frequent use of Yotser (Maker) by Isaiah. It is that also approved by the Masoretic pointing, and followed generally by the other translations, including the Vulgate, which has: plastes ejus: ventura interrogate me, etc. The LXX., however, make ha'othiyyoth dependent on yots'ro (notwithstanding its own suffix), instead of the verb that follows, and reads, ho poiesas (auton in some copies) ta eperchomena, which Augustin renders in the text: qui fecit quæ futura sunt.--Tr. [1263] Luke vi. 13. [1264] Eph. i. 4. [1265] Rom. viii. 30. [1266] 1 Cor. iii. 17. [1267] 1 Cor. xv. 23, 24. [1268] Matt. xiii. 24, 38-43. [1269] Matt. vi. 10. [1270] Matt. xxv. 34. [1271] Rom. i. 17. [1272] 2 Cor. v. 6-8. [1273] Matt. v. 8. [1274] Acts xv. 9. [1275] Chap. xv. 4. .


Tractate LXIX.

Chapter XIV. 4-6.

1. We have now the opportunity, dearly, beloved, as far as we can, of understanding the earlier words of the Lord from the later, and His previous statements by those that follow, in what you have heard was His answer to the question of the Apostle Thomas. For when the Lord was speaking above of the mansions, of which He both said that they already were in His Father's house, and that He was going to prepare them; where we understood that those mansions already existed in predestination, and are also being prepared through the purifying by faith of the hearts of those who are hereafter to inhabit them, seeing that they themselves are the very house of God; and what else is it to dwell in God's house than to be in the number of His people, since His people are at the same time in God, and God in them? To make this preparation the Lord departed, that by believing in Him, though no longer visible, the mansion, whose outward form is always hid in the future, may now by faith be prepared: for this reason, therefore, He had said, "And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." In reply to this, "Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest: and how can we know the way?" Both of these the Lord had said that they knew; both of them this other declares that he does not know, to wit, the place to which, and the way whereby, He is going. But he does not know that he is speaking falsely; they knew, therefore, and did not know that they knew. He will convince them that they already know what they imagine themselves still to be ignorant of. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life." What, brethren, does He mean? See, we have just heard the disciple asking, and the Master instructing, and we do not yet, even after His voice has sounded in our ears, apprehend the thought that lies hid in His words. But what is it we cannot apprehend? Could His apostles, with whom He was talking, have said to Him, We do not know Thee? Accordingly, if they knew Him, and He Himself is the way, they knew the way; if they knew Him who is Himself the truth, they knew the truth; if they knew Him who is also the life, they knew the life. Thus, you see, they were convinced that they knew what they knew not that they knew.

2. What is it, then, that we also have not apprehended in this discourse? What else, think you, brethren, but just that He said, "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know"? And here we have discovered that they knew the way, because they knew Him who is the way: the way is that by which we go; but is the way the place also to which we go? And yet each of these He said that they knew, both whither He was going, and the way. There was need, therefore, for His saying, "I am the way," in order to show those who knew Him that they knew the way, which they thought themselves ignorant of; but what need was there for His saying, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," when, after knowing the way by which He went, they had still to learn whither He was going, but just because it was to the truth and to the life He was going? By Himself, therefore, He was going to Himself. And whither go we, but to Him, and by what way go we, but by Him? He, therefore, went to Himself by Himself, and we by Him to Him; yea, likewise both He and we go thus to the Father. For He says also in another place of Himself, "I go to the Father;" [1276] and here on our account He says, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." And in this way, He goeth by Himself both to Himself and to the Father, and we by Him both to Him and to the Father. Who can apprehend such things save he who has spiritual discernment? and how much is it that even he can apprehend, although thus spiritually discerning? Brethren, how can you desire me to explain such things to you? Only reflect how lofty they are. You see what I am, I see what you are; in all of us the body, which is corrupted, burdens the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things. [1277] Do we think we can say, "To Thee have I lifted up my soul, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens"? [1278] But burdened as we are with so great a weight, under which we groan, how shall I lift up my soul unless He lift it with me who laid His own down for me? I shall speak then as I can, and let each of you who is able receive it. As He gives, I speak; as He gives, the receiver receiveth; and as He giveth, there is faith for him who cannot yet receive with understanding. For, saith the prophet, "If ye will not believe, ye shall not understand." [1279]

3. Tell me, O my Lord, what to say to Thy servants, my fellow-servants. The Apostle Thomas had Thee before him in order to ask Thee questions, and yet could not understand Thee unless he had Thee within him; I ask Thee because I know that Thou art over me; and I ask, seeking, as far as I can, to let my soul diffuse itself in that same region over me where I may listen to Thee, who usest no external sound to convey Thy teaching. Tell me, I pray, how it is that Thou goest to Thyself. Didst Thou formerly leave Thyself to come to us, especially as Thou camest not of Thyself, but the Father sent Thee? I know, indeed, that Thou didst empty Thyself; but in taking the form of a servant, [1280] it was neither that Thou didst lay down the form of God as something to return to, or that Thou lost it as something to be recovered; and yet Thou didst come, and didst place Thyself not only before the carnal eyes, but even in the very hands of men. And how otherwise save in Thy flesh? By means of this Thou didst come, yet abiding where Thou wast; by this means Thou didst return, without leaving the place to which Thou hadst come. If, then, by such means Thou didst come and return, by such means doubtless Thou art not only the way for us to come unto Thee, but wast the way also for Thyself to come and to return. For when Thou didst return to the life, which Thou art Thyself, then of a truth that same flesh of Thine Thou didst bring from death unto life. The Word of God, indeed, is one thing, and man another; but the Word was made flesh, or became man. And so the person of the Word is not different from that of the man, seeing that Christ is both in one person; and in this way, just as when His flesh died. Christ died, and when His flesh was buried, Christ was buried (for thus with the heart we believe unto righteousness, and thus with the mouth do we make confession unto salvation [1281] ); so when the flesh came from death unto life, Christ came to life. And because Christ is the Word of God, He is also the life. And thus in a wonderful and ineffable manner He, who never laid down or lost Himself, came to Himself. But God, as was said, had come through the flesh to men, the truth to liars; for God is true, and every man a liar. [1282] When, therefore, He withdrew His flesh from amongst men, and carried it up there where no liar is found, He also Himself--for the Word was made flesh--returned by Himself, that is, by His flesh, to the truth, which is none other but Himself. And this truth, we cannot doubt, although found amongst liars, He preserved even in death; for Christ was once dead, but never false.

4. Take an example, very different in character and wholly inadequate, yet in some lit tle measure helpful to the understanding of God, from things that are in peculiarly intimate subjection to God. See here in my own case, while as far as pertains to my mind I am just the same as yourselves, if I keep silence I am so to myself; but if I speak to you something suited to your understanding, in a certain sense I go forth to you without leaving myself, but at the same time approach you and yet quit not the place from which I proceed. But when I cease speaking, I return in a kind of way to myself, and in a kind of way I remain with you, if you retain what you have heard in the discourse I am delivering. And if the mere image that God made is capable of this, what may not God, the very image of God, not made by, but born of God; whose body, wherein He came forth to us and returned from us, has not ceased to be, like the sound of my voice, but abides there, where it shall die no more, and death shall have no more dominion over it? [1283] Much more, perhaps, might and ought to have been said on these words of the Gospel; but your souls ought not to be burdened with spiritual food, however pleasant, especially as the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. [1284]

Footnotes

[1276] Chap. xvi. 10. [1277] Wisd. ix. 15. [1278] Ps. cxxiii. 1. [1279] Isa. vii. 9, according to LXX., which reads, ean me pisteusete, oude me sunete. T+#oM+N+Z+u, however, will scarcely admit the meaning of "understand" (sunete). There is a play in the Hebrew upon the verb #oM+J+, which is the one used in both clauses, first in the Hiphil, where it means to cleave fast to, to show a firm trust in; and secondly, in the Niphal, to be held fast, to be confirmed in one's trust. Hence the rendering of our English Bible is more correct: "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established."--Tr. [1280] Phil. ii. 7. [1281] Rom. x. 10. [1282] Rom. iii. 4. [1283] Rom. vi. 9. [1284] Matt. xxvi. 41.


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