Augustin on John 7

Tractate VIII.

(Jn 2,1-4.

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

2. And these things indeed we see; they lie before our eyes. But what of those we do not see, as angels, virtues, powers, dominions,and every inhabitant of this fabric which is above the heavens, and beyond the reach of our eyes? Yet angels, too, when necessary, often showed themselves to men. Has not God made all these too by His Word, that is, by His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ? What of the human soul itself, which is not seen, and yet by its works shown in the flesh excites great admiration in those that duly reflect on them,-by whom was it made, unless by God? And through whom was it made, unless through the Son of God? Not to speak as yet of the soul of man: the soul of any brute whatever, see bow it regulates the huge body, puts forth the senses, the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the nostrils to smell, the taste to discern flavors-the members, in short, to execute their respective functions! Is it the body, not the soul, namely the inhabitant of the body, that doeth these things? The soul is not apparent to the eyes, nevertheless it excites admiration by these its actions. Direct now thy consideration to the soul of man, on which God has bestowed understanding to know its Creator to discern and distinguish between good and evil, that is, between right and wrong: see how many things it does through the body! Observe this whole world arranged in the same human commonwealth, with what administrations, with what orderly degrees of authority, with what conditions of citizenship, with what laws, manners, arts! The whole of this is brought about by the soul, and yet this power of the soul is not visible. When withdrawn from the body, the latter is a mere carcase: first, it in a manner preserves it from rottenness. For all flesh is corruptible, and falls off into putridity unless preserved by the soul as by a kind of seasoning. But the human soul has this quality in common with the soul of the brute; those qualities rather are to be admired which I have stated, such as belong to the mind and intellect, wherein also it is renewed after the image of its Creator, after whose image man was formed.1 What will this power of the soul be when this body shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality?2 If such is its power, acting through corruptible flesh, what shall be its power through a spiritual body, after the resurrection of the dead? Yet this soul, as I have said, of admirable nature and substance, is a thing invisible, intellectual; this soul also was made by God Jesus, for He is the Word of God. “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.”

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

4. The Lord, on being invited, came to the marriage. What wonder if He came to that house to a marriage, having come into this world to a marriage? For, indeed, if He came not to a marriage, He has not here a bride. But what says the apostle? “I have espoused you to one husband, to present you a chaste virgin to Christ.” Why does he fear lest the virginity of Christ’s bride should be corrupted by the subtilty of the devil? “I fear,” saith he, “lest as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty, so also your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and chastity which is in Christ.”3 Thus has He here a bride whom He has redeemed by His blood, and to whom He has given the Holy Spirit as a pledge. He has freed her from the bondage of the devil: He died for her sins, and is risen again for her justification.4 Who will make such offerings to his bride? Men may offer to abride every sort of earthly ornament,-gold, silver, precious stones, houses, slaves, estates, farms,-but will any give his own blood? For if one should give his own blood to his bride, he would not live to take her for his wife. But the Lord, dying without fear, gave His own blood for her, whom rising again He was to have, whom He had already united to Himself in the Virgin’s womb. For the Word was the Bridegroom, and human flesh the bride; and both one, the Son of God, the same also being Son of man. The womb of the Virgin Mary, in which He became head of the Church, was His bridal chamber: thence He came forth, as a bridegroom from his chamber, as the Scripture foretold, “And rejoiced as a giant to run his way.” From His chamber He came forth as a bridegroom; and being invited, came to the marriage.

5. It is because of an indubitable mystery that He appears not to acknowledge His mother. from whom as the Bridegroom He came forth, when He says to her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” What is this? Did He come to the marriage for the purpose of teaching men to treat their mothers with contempt? Surely he to whose marriage He had come was taking a wife with the view of having children, and surely he wished to be honored by those children he would beget: had Jesus then come to the marriage in order to dishonor His mother, when marriages are celebrated and wives married with the view of having children, whom God commands to honor their parents? Beyond all doubt, brethren, there is some mystery lurking here. It is really a matter of such importance that some,-of whom the apostle, as we have mentioned before, has forewarned us to be on our guard, saying, “I fear, lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty, so also your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and chastity which is in Christ,”-taking away from the credibility of the gospel, and asserting that Jesus was not born of the Virgin Mary, used to endeavor to draw from this place an argument in support of their error, so far as to say, How could she be His mother, to whom He said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” Wherefore we must answer them, and show them why the Lord said this, test in their insanity they appear to themselves to have discovered something contrary to wholesome belief, whereby the chastity of the virgin bride may be corrupted, that is, whereby the faith of the Church may be injured. For in very deed, brethren, their faith is corrupted who prefer a lie to the truth. For these men, who appear to honor Christ in such wise as to deny that He had flesh, do nothing short of proclaiming Him a liar. Now they who build up a lie in men, what do they but drive the truth out of them? They let in the devil, they drive Christ out; they let in an adulterer, shut out the bridegroom, being evidently paranymphs, or rather, the panderers of the serpent. For it is for this object they speak, that the serpent may possess, and Christ be shut out. How doth the serpent possess? When a lie possesses. When falsehood possesses, then the serpent possesses; when truth possesses, then Christ possesses. For Himself has said, “I am the truth;”5 but of that other He said, “He stood not in the truth, because the truth is not him.”6 And Christ is the truth in such wise that thou shouldst receive the whole to be true in Him. The true Word, God equal with the Father, true soul, true flesh, true man, true God, true nativity, true passion, true death, true resurrection. If thou say that any of these is false, rottenness enters, the worms of falsehood are bred of the poison of the serpent, and nothing sound will remain.

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

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

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

9. Why, then, said the Son to the mother, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come?” Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had. She was the mother, then, of His flesh, of His humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes He took upon Him. But the miracle which He was about to do, He was about to do according to His divine nature, not according to His weakness; according to that wherein He was God not according to that wherein He was born weak. But the weakness of God is stronger than men.9 His mother then demanded a miracle of Him; but He, about to perform divine works, so far did not recognize a human womb; saying in effect, “That in me which works a miracle was not born of thee, thou gavest not birth to my divine nature; but because my weakness was born of thee, I will recognize thee at the time when that same weakness shall hang upon the cross.” This, indeed, is the meaning of “Mine hour is not yet come.” For then it was that He recognized, who, in truth, always did know. He knew His mother in predestination, even before He was born of her; even before, as God, He created her of whom, as man, He was to be created, He knew her as His mother: but at a certain hour in a mystery He did not recognize her; and at a certain hour which had not yet come, again in a mystery, He does recognize her. For then did He recognize her, when that to which she gave birth was a-dying. That by which Mary was made did not die, but that which was made of Mary; not the eternity of the divine nature, but the weakness of the flesh, was dying. He made that answer therefore, making a distinction in the faith of believers, between the who; and the how, He came. For whiIe He was God and the Lord of heaven and earth, He came by a mother who was a woman. In that He was Lord of the world, Lord of heaven and earth, He was, of course, the Lord of Mary also; but in that wherein it is said, “Made of a woman, made under the law,” He was Mary’s son. The same both the Lord of Mary and the son of Mary; the same both the Creator of Mary and created from Mary. Marvel not that He was both son and Lord. For just as He is called the son of Mary, so likewise is He called the son of David; and son of David because son of Mary. Hear the apostle openly declaring, “Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”10 Hear Him also declared the Lord of David; let David himself declare this: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand.”11 And this passage Jesus Himself brought forward to the Jews, and refuted them from it.12 How then was He both David’s son and David’s Lord? David’s son according to the flesh, David’s Lord according to His divinity; so also Mary’s son after the flesh, and Mary’s Lord after His majesty. Now as she was not the mother of His divine nature, whilst it was by His divinity the miracle she asked for would be wrought, therefore He answered her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” But think not that I deny thee to be my mother: “Mine hour is not yet come;” for in that hour I will acknowledge thee, when the weakness of which thou art the mother comes to hang on the cross. Let us prove the truth of this. When the Lord suffered, the same evangelist tells us, who knew the mother of the Lord, and who has given us to know about her in this marriage feast,-the same, I say, tells us, “There was there near the cross the mother of Jesus; and Jesus saith to His mother, Woman, behold thy son! and to the disciple, Behold thy mother!”13 He commends His mother to the care of the disciple; commends His mother, as about to die before her, and to rise again before her death. The man commends her a human being to man’s care. This humanity had Mary given birth to. That hour had now come, the hour of which He had then said, “Mine hour is not yet come.”

10. In my opinion, brethren, we have answered the heretics. Let us now answer the astrologers. And how do they attempt to prove that Jesus was under fate? Because, say they, Himself said, “Mine hour is not vet come.” Therefore we believe Him; and if He had said, “I have no hour,” He would have excluded the astrologers: but behold, say they, He said, “Mine hour is not yet come.” If then He had said, “I have no hour,” the astrologers would have been shut out, and would have no ground for their slander; but now that He said, “Mine hour is not yet come,” how can we contradict His own words? ’Tis wonderful that the astrologers, by believing Christ’s words, endeavor to convince Christians that Christ lived under an hour of fate. Well, let them believe Christ when He saith, “I have power to lay down my life and to take it up again: no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself, and I take it again.”14 Is this power then under fate? Let them show us a man who has it in his power when to die, how long to live: this they can never do. Let them, therefore, believe God when He says, “I have power to lay down my life, and to take it up again;” and let them inquire why it was said, “Mine hour is not yet come;” and let them not because of these words, be imposing fate on the Maker of heaven, the Creator and Ruler of the stars. For even if fate were from the stars, the Maker of the stars could not be subject to their destiny. Moreover, not only Christ had not what thou callest fate, but not even hast thou, or I, or he there, or any human being whatsoever.

11. Nevertheless, being deceived, they deceive others, and propound fallacies to men. They lay snares to catch men, and that, too. in the open streets. They who spread nets to catch wild beasts even do it in woods and desert places: how miserably vain are men, for catching whom the net is spread in the forum! When men sell themselves to men, they receive money; but these give money in order to sell themselves to vanities. For they go in to an astrologer to buy themselves masters, such as the astrologer is pleased to give them: be it Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, or any other named profanity. The man went in free, that having given his money he might come out a slave. Nay, rather, had he been free he would not have gone in; but he entered whither his master Error and his mistress Avarice dragged him. Whence also the truth says, “Every one that doeth sin is the slave of sin.”15

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

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

1 (Col 3,10,
2 (1Co 15,54,
3 (2Co 11,3,
4 (Rm 4,25,
5 (Ps 19,5).
6 (Jn 14,6,
7 (Jn 8,44).
8 (Jn 8,31,
9 (Ac 19,19).
10 (1Co 1,25,
11 (Rm 1,3,
12 (Ps 110,1,
13 (Mt 22,45,
14 (Jn 19,25 Jn 19,27).
15 (Jn 10,18,

Tractate IX.

9 (Jn 2,1-11

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

2. The Lord, in that He came to the marriage to which He was invited, wished, apart from the mystical signification, to assure us that marriage was His own institution. For there were to be those of whom the apostle spoke, “forbidding to marry,”1 and asserting that marriage was an evil, and of the devil’s institution: notwithstanding the same Lord declares in the Gospel, on being asked whether it be lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause, that it is not lawful save for the cause of fornication. In His answer, if you remember, He said, “What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.”2 And they that are well instructed in the catholic faith know that God instituted marriage; and as the union of man and wife is from God, so divorce is from the devil. But in the case of fornication it is lawful for a man to put away his wife, because she first chose to be no longer wife in not preserving conjugal fidelity to her husband. Nor are those women who vow virginity to God, although they hold a higher place of honor and sanctity in the Church, without marriage. For they too, together with the whole Church, attain to a marriage, a marriage in which Christ is the Bridegroom. And for this cause, therefore, did the Lord, on being invited, come to the marriage, to confirm conjugal chastity, and to show forth the sacrament of marriage. For the bridegroom in that marriage, to whom it was said, “Thou hast kept the good wine until now,” represented the person of the Lord. For the good wine-namely, the gospel-Christ has kept until now.

3. For now let us begin to uncover the hidden meanings of the mysteries, so far as He in whose name we made you the promise may enable us. In the ancient times there was prophecy, and no times were left without the dispensation of prophecy. But the prophecy, since Christ was not understood therein, was water. For in water wine is in some manner latent. The apostle tells us what we are to understand by this water: “Even unto this day,” saith he, “whilst Moses is read, that same veil is upon their heart; that it is not unveiled because it is done away in Christ. And when thou shalt have passed over,” saith he, “to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.”3 By the veil he means the covering over of prophecy, so that it was not understood. When thou hast passed over to the Lord, the veil is taken away; so likewise is tastelessness taken away when thou hast passed over to the Lord; and what was water now becomes wine to thee. Read all the prophetic books; and if Christ be not understood therein, what canst thou find so insipid and silly? Understand Christ in them, and what thou readest not only has a taste, but even inebriates thee; transporting the mind from the body, so that forgetting the things that are past, thou reachest forth to the things that are before.4

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

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

6. But observe what Himself saith, “The things which were written in the law, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.” And we know that the law extends from the time of which we have record, that is, from the beginning of the world: “In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.”5 Thence down to the time in which we are now living are six ages, this being the sixth, as you have often heard and know. The first age is reckoned from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; and, as Matthew the evangelist duly follows and distinguishes, the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from the carrying away into Babylon to Jn the Baptist;6 the sixth, from Jn the Baptist to the end of the world. Moreover, God made man after His own image on the sixth day, because in this sixth age is manifested the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us;7 and the water is turned into wine, that we may taste of Christ, now manifested in the law and the prophets, Hence “there were there six water-pots,” which He bade be filled with water. Now the six water-pots signify the six ages, which were not without prophecy. And those six periods, divided and separated as it were by joints, would be as empty vessels unless they were filled by Christ. Why did I say, the periods which would run fruitlessly on, unless the Lord Jesus were preached in them? Prophecies are fulfilled, the water-pots are full; but that the water may be turned into wine, Christ must be understood in that whole prophecy.

7. But what means this: “They contained two or three metretae apiece”? This phrase certainly conveys to us a mysterious meaning. For by “metretae” he means certain measures, as if he should say jars, flasks, or something of that sort). Metreta is the name of a measure, and takes its name from the word “measure.” For metron is the Greek word for measure, whence the word “metretae” is derived. “They contained,” then, “two or three metretae apiece.” What are we to say, brethren? If He had simply said “three apiece,” our mind would at once have run to the mystery of the Trinity. And, perhaps, we ought not at once to reject this application of the meaning, because He said, “two or three apiece;” for when the Father and Son are named, the Holy Spirit must necessarily be understood. For the Holy Spirit is not that of the Father only, nor of the Son only, but the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. For it is written,” If any man love the world, the Spirit of the Father is not in him.”8 And again, “Whoso hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of His.”9 The same, then, is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. Therefore, the Father and the Son being named, the Holy Spirit also is understood, because He is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. And when there is mention of the Father and Son, “two metretae,” as it were, are mentioned; but since the Holy Spirit is understood in them, “three metretae.” That is the reason why it is not said, “Some containing two metretae apiece, others three apiece;” but the same six water-pots contained “two or three metretae apiece.” It is as if he had said, When I say two apiece, I would have the Spirit of the Father and of the Son to be understood together with them; and when I say three apiece, I declare the same Trinity more plainly.

8. Wherefore, whoso names the Father and the Son ought thereby to understand the mutual love of the Father and Son, which is the Holy Spirit. And perhaps the Scriptures on being examined (r do not say that I am able to show you this to-day, or as if another proof cannot be found),-nevertheless, the Scriptures, perhaps, on being searched, do show us that the Holy Spirit is charity. And do not count charity a thing cheap. How, indeed, can it be cheap, when all things that are said to be not cheap are called dear (chara)? Therefore, if what is not cheap is dear, what is dearer than dearness itself (charitas)? The apostle so commends charity to us that he says, “I show unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I know all mysteries and all knowledge, and have prophecy and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I distribute all my goods to the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”10 How great, then, is charity, which, if wanting, in vain have we all things else; if present, rightly have we all things! Yet the Apostle Paul, setting forth the praise of charity with copiousness and fullness, has said less of it than did the Apostle Jn in brief, whose Gospel this is. For he has not hesitated to say, “God is love.” It is also written, “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given us.”11 Who, then, can name the Father and the Son without thereby understanding the love of the Father and Son? Which when one begins to have, he will have the Holy Spirit; which if one has not, he will not have the Holy Spirit. And just as thy body, if it be without spirit, namely thy soul, is dead so likewise thy soul, if it be without the Holy Spirit, that is, without charity, will be reckoned dead. Therefore “The water-pots contained two Metretae apiece,” because the Father and the Son are proclaimed in the prophecy of all the periods; but the Holy Spirit is there also, and therefore it is added, “or three apiece.” “I and the Father,” saith He, “are one.”12 But far be it from us to suppose that where we are told, “I and the Father are one,” the Holy Spirit is not there. Yet since he named the Father and the Son, let the water-pots contain “two metretae apiece;” but attend to this, “or three apiece.” “Go, baptize the nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” So, therefore, when it says “two apiece,” the Trinity is not expressed but understood; but when it says, “or three,” the Trinity is expressed also.

9. But there is also another meaning that must not be passed over, and which I will declare: let every man choose which he likes best. We keep not back what is suggested to us. For it is the Lord’s table, and the minister ought not to defraud the guests, especially when they hunger as you now do, so that your longing is manifest. Prophecy, which is dispensed from the ancient times, has for its object the salvation of all nations. True, Moses was sent to the people of Israel alone, and to that people alone was the law given by him; and the prophets, too, were of that people, and the very distribution of times was marked out according to the same people; whence also the water-pots are said to be “according to the purification of the Jews:” nevertheless, that the prophecy was proclaimed to all other nations also is manifest, forasmuch as Christ was concealed in him in whom all nations are blessed, as it was promised to Abraham by the Lord, saying, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.13 But this was not as yet understood, for as yet the water was not turned into wine. The prophecy therefore was dispensed to all nations. But that this may appear more agreeably, let us, so far as our time permits, mention certain facts respecting the several ages, as represented respectively by the water-pots.

10. In the very beginning, Adam and Eve were the parents of all nations, not of the Jews only; and whatever was represented in Adam concerning Christ, undoubtedly concerned all nations, whose salvation is in Christ. What better can I say of the water of the first water-pot than what the apostle says of Adam and Eve? For no man will say that I misunderstand the meaning when I produce, not my own, but the apostle’s. How great a mystery, then, concerning Christ does that of which the apostle makes mention contain, when he says, “And the two shall be in one flesh: this is a great mystery!”14 And lest any man should understand that greatness of mystery to exist in the case of the individual men that have wives, he says, “But I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” What great mystery is this, “the two shall be one flesh?” While Scripture, in the Book of Genesis, was speaking of Adam and Eve, it came to these words, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh.”15 Now, if Christ cleave to the Church, so that the two should be one flesh, in what manner did He leave His Father and His mother? He left His Father in this sense, that when He was in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking to Him the form of a servant.16 In this sense He left His Father, not that He forsook or departed from His Father, but that He did not appear unto men in that form in which He was equal with the Father. But how did He leave His mother? By leaving the synagogue of the Jews, of which, after the flesh, He was born, and by cleaving to the Church which He has gathered out of all nations. Thus the first water-pot then held a prophecy of Christ; but so long as these things of which I speak were not preached among the peoples, the prophecy was water, it was not vet changed into wine. And since the Lord his enlightened us through the apostle, to show us what we were in search of, by this one sentence, “The two shall be one flesh; a great mystery concerning Christ and the Church;” we are now permitted to seek Christ everywhere, and to drink wine from all the water-pots. Adam sleeps, that Eve may be formed; Christ dies, that the Church may be formed. When Adam sleeps, Eve is formed from his side; when Christ is dead, the spear pierces His side, that the mysteries may flow forth whereby the Church is formed. Is it not evident to every man that in those things then done, things to come were foreshadowed, since the apostle says that Adam himself was the figure of Him that was to come? “Who is,” saith he, “the figure of Him that was to come.”17 All was mystically prefigured. For, in reality, God could have taken the rib from Adam when he was awake, and formed the woman. Or was it, haply, necessary for him to sleep lest he should feel pain in his side when the rib was taken away? Who is there that sleeps so soundly that his bones may be torn from him without his awaking? Or was it because it was God that tore it out, that the man did not feel it? Well, He who could take it from him without pain when he was asleep, could do it also when he was awake. But, without doubt, the first water-pot was being filled, there was a dispensation of the prophecy of that time concerning this which was to be.

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

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

13. But as to David, why do I say that his prophecy extends to all nations, when we have just heard the psalm (and it is difficult to mention a psalm in which the same is not sounded forth)? But certainly, as I have said. we have been just singing, “Arise, O God, judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit among all nations.”18 And this is why the Donatists are as men cast forth from the marriage: just as the man who had not a wedding garment was invited, and came, but was cast forth from the number of the guests because he had not the garment to the glory of the bridegroom; for he who seeks his own glory, not Christ’s, has not the wedding garment: for they refuse to agree with him who was the friend of the Bridegroom, and says, “This is He that baptizeth.” And deservedly was that which he was not made, by way of rebuke, an objection to him who had not the wedding garment, “Friend, how art thou come hither? “19 And just as he was speechless, so also are these. For what can tongue-clatter avail when the heart is mute? For they know that inwardly, and with their own selves, they have not anything to say. Within, they are mute; without, they make a din. But whether they will or no, they hear this sung even among themselves, “Arise, O God, judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit among the nations “and by not communicating with all nations, what do they but acknowledge themselves to be disinherited?

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

15. Moreover, in the fifth age, in the fifth water-pot as it were, Daniel saw a stone that had been cut from a mountain without hands, and had broken all the kingdoms of the earth; and he saw the stone grow and become a great mountain, so as to fill the whole face of the earth.20 What can be plainer, my brethren? The stone is cut from a mountain: the same is the stone which the builders rejected, and is become the head of the corner.21 From what mountain is it cut, if not from the kingdom of the Jews, of which our Lord Jesus Christ was born according to the flesh? And it is cut without hands, without human exertion; because Christ sprung from a virgin, without a husband’s embrace. The mountain from which it was cut had not filled the whole face of the earth; for the kingdom of the Jews did not possess all nations. But, on the other hand, the kingdom of Christ we see occupying the whole world.

16. To the sixth age belongs Jn the Baptist, than whom none greater has arisen among those born of women; of whom it was said, that he was “greater than a prophet.”22 And how did Jn show that Christ was sent to all nations? When the Jews came to him to be baptized, that they might not pride themselves on the name of Abraham, he said to them, “O generation of vipers, who has proclaimed to you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance;” that is, be humble; for he was speaking to proud people. But whereof were they proud? Of their descent according to the flesh, not of the fruit of imitating their father Abraham. What said he to them? “Say not, We have Abraham for our father: for God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”23 Meaning by stones all nations, not on account of their durable strength, as in the case of that stone which the builders rejected, but on account of their stupidity and their foolish insensibility, because they had become like the things which they were accustomed to worship: for they worshipped senseless images, themselves equally senseless. “They that make them are like them, and so are all they that trust in them.”24 Accordingly, when men begin to worship God,what do they hear said to them? “That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; who maketh His sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”25 Wherefore, if a man becomes like that which he worships, what is meant by “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham”? Let us ask ourselves and we shall see that it is a fact. For of those nations are we come, but we should not have come of them had not God of the stones raised up children unto Abraham. We are made children of Abraham by imitating his faith, not by being born of his flesh. For just as they by their degeneracy have been disinherited, so have we by imitating been adopted. Therefore, brethren, this prophecy also of the sixth water-pot extended to all nations; and hence it was said concerning all, “containing two or three metretae apiece.”

17. But how do we show that all nations belong to the “two or three metretae apiece”? It was a matter of reckoning, in some measure, that he should say the same water-pots contained “two apiece,” which he had said contained “three apiece;” evidently in order to intimate to us a mystery therein. How are there “two metretae apiece”? Circumcision and uncircumcision. Scripture mentions these two classes of people, and leaves out no kind of men, when it says, “Circumcision and uncircumcision;”26 in these two appellations thou hast all nations: they are the two metretae apiece. In these two walls, meeting from different quarters, “Christ became the corner-stone, in order to make peace in Himself.”27 Let us show also the “three metretae; apiece” in the case of these same all nations. Noah had three sons, through whom the human race was restored. Hence the Lord says, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”28 What is this woman, but the flesh of the Lord? What is the leaven, but the gospel? What the three measures, but all nations, on account of the three sons of Noah? Therefore the “six water-pots containing two or three metretae apiece” are six periods of time, containing the prophecy relating to all nations, whether as represented in two sorts of men, namely, Jews and Greeks, as the apostle often mentions them;29 or in three sorts, on account of the three sons of Noah. For the prophecy was represented as reaching unto all nations. And because of that reaching it is called a measure,30 even as the apostle says, “We have received a measure for reaching unto you.”31 For in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, he says, “A measure for reaching unto you.”

1 (1Tm 4,3,
2 (Mt 19,6).
3 (2Co 3,14-16.
4 (Ph 3,13).
5 (Gn 1,1,
6 (Mt 1,17,
7 (Col 3,10).
8 (1Jn 2,15,
9 (Rm 8,9,
10 (1Co 13,1-3).
11 (Rm 5,5,
12 (Jn 10,30,
13 (Gn 22,18,
14 (Ep 3,31,
15 (Gn 2,24,
16 (Ph 2,6).
17 (Rm 5,14,
18 (Ps 82,8,
19 (Mt 22,13).
20 (Da 2,34,
21 (Ps 118,22,
22 (Mt 11,11,
23 (Mt 3,9).
24 (Ps 115,8,
25 (Mt 5,45,
26 (Col 3,11).
27 (Ep 2,14,
28 (Lc 13,21).
29 (Rm 2,9 1Co 1,24, etc.
30 Metreta.
31 (2Co 10,13,

Augustin on John 7