Augustin on John 11
12 (Jn 3,6-21.
1. We observe, beloved, that the intimation with which we yesterday excited your attention has brought you together with more alacrity, and in greater number than usual; but meanwhile let us, if you please, pay our debt of a discourse on the Gospel Lesson, which comes in due course. You shall then hear, beloved, as well what we have already effected concerning the peace of the Church, and what we hope yet further to accomplish. For the present, then, let the whole attention of your hearts be given to the gospel; let none be thinking of anything else. For if he who attends to it wholly apprehends with difficulty, must not he who divides himself by diverse thoughts let go what he has received? Moreover, you remember, beloved, that on the last Lord’s day, as the Lord deigned to help us, we discoursed of spiritual regeneration. That lesson we have caused to be read to you again, so that what was then left unspoken, we may now, by the aid of your prayers in the name of Christ, fulfill.
2. Spiritual regeneration is one, just as the generation of the flesh is one. And Nicodemus said the truth when he said to the Lord that a man cannot, when he is old, return again into his mother’s womb and be born. He indeed said that a man cannot do this when he is old, as if he could do it even were he an infant. But be he fresh from the womb, or now in years, he cannot possibly return again into the mother’s bowels and be born. But just as for the birth of the flesh, the bowels of woman avail to bring forth the child only once, so for the spiritual birth the bowels of the Church avail that a man be baptized only once. Therefore, in case one should say, “Well, but this man was born in heresy, and this in schism:” all that was cut away, if you remember what was debated to you about our three fathers, of whom God willed to be called the God, not that they were thus alonebut because in them alone the figure of the future people was made upin its completeness. For we find one born of a bond woman disinherited, one born of a free woman made heir: again, we find one born of a free woman disinherited, one born of a bond woman made heir. Ishmael, born of a bond woman, disinherited; Isaac, born of a free woman, made heir: Esau, born of a free woman, disinherited; the sons of Jacob, born of bond women, made heirs. Thus, in these three fathers the figure of the whole future people is seen: and not without reason God saith, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this,” saith He, “is my name for ever.”1 Rather let us remember what was promised to Abraham himself: for this was promised to Isaac, and also to Jacob. What do we find? “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.”2 At that time the one man believed what as yet he saw not: men now see, and are blinded. What was promised to the one man is fulfilled in the nations; and they who will not see what is already fulfilled, are separating themselves from the communion of the nations. But what avails it them that they will not see? See they do, whether they will or no; the open truth strikes against their closed eyes.
3. It was in answer to Nicodemus, who was of them that had believed on Jesus, that it was said, And Jesus did not trust Himself to them. To certain men, indeed, He did not trust Himself, though they had already believed on Him. Thus it is written, “Many believed in His name, seeing the signs which He did. But Jesus did not trust Himself to them. For He needed not that any should testify of man; for Himself knew what was in man.” Behold, they already believed on Jesus, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them. Why, because they were not yet born again of water and of the Spirit. From this have we exhorted and do exhort our brethren the catechumens. For if you ask them, they have already believed in Jesus; but because they have not yet received His flesh and blood, Jesus has not yet trusted Himself to them. What must they do that Jesus may trust Himself to them? They must be born again of water and of the Spirit; the Church that is in travail with them must bring them forth. They have been conceived; they must be brought forth to the light: they have breasts to be nourished at; let them not fear lest, being born, they may be smothered; let them not depart from the mother’s breasts.
4. No man can return into his mother’s bowels and be born again. But some one is born of a bond woman? Well, did they who were born of bond women at the former time, return into the wombs of the free to be born anew? The seed of Abraham was in Ishmael also; but that Abraham might have a son of the bond maid, it was at the advice of his wife. The child was of the husband’s seed, not of the womb, but at the sole pleasure of the wife. Was his birth of a bond woman the reason why he was disinherited? Then, if he was disinherited because he was the son of a bond woman, no sons of bond women would be admitted to the inheritance. The sons of Jacob were admitted to the inheritance; but Ishmael was put out of it, not because born of a bond woman, but because he was proud to his mother, proud to his mother’s son; for his mother was Sarah rather than Hagar. The one gave her womb, the other’s will was added: Abraham would not have done what Sarah willed not: therefore was he Sarah’s son rather. But because he was proud to his brother, proud in playing, that is, in mocking him; what said Sarah? “Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.”3 It was not, therefore, the bowels of the bond woman that caused his rejection, but the slave’s neck. For the free-born is a slave if he is proud, and, what is worse, the slave of a bad mistress, of pride itself. Thus, my brethren, answer the man, that a man cannot be born a second time; answer fearlessly, that a man cannot be born a second time. Whatever is done a second time is mockery, whatever is done a second time is play. It is Ishmael playing, let him be cast out. For Sarah observed them playing, saith the Scripture, and said to Abraham, “Cast out the bond woman and her son.” The playing of the boys displeased Sarah. She saw something strange in their play. Do not they who have sons like to see them playing? She saw and disapproved it. Something or other she saw in their play; she saw mockery in it, observed the pride of the slave; she was displeased with it, and she cast him out. The children of bond women, when wicked, are cast out; and the child of the free woman, when an Esau, is cast out. Let none, therefore, presume on his birth of good parents; let none presume on his being baptized by holy men. Let him that is baptized by holy men still beware lest he be not a Jacob, but an Esau. This would I say then, brethren, it is better to be baptized by men that seek their own and love the world, which is what the name of bond woman imports, and to be spiritually seeking the inheritance of Christ, so as to be as it were a son of Jacob by a bond woman, than to be baptized by holy men and to become proud, so as to be an Esau to be cast out, though born of a free woman. Hold ye this fast, brethren. We are not coaxing you, let none of your hope be in us; we flatter neither ourselves nor you; every man bears his own burden. It is our duty to speak, that we be not judged unhappily: yours to hear, and that with the heart, lest what we give be required of you; nay, that when it is required, it may be found a gain, not a loss.
5. The Lord says to Nicodemus, and explains to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Thou, says He, understandest a carnal generation, when thou sayest, Can a man return into his mother’s bowels? The birth for the kingdom of God must be of water and of the Spirit. If one is born to the temporal inheritance of a human father, be he born of the bowels of a carnal mother; if one is born to the everlasting inheritance of God as his Father, be he born of the bowels of the Church. A father, as one that will die, begets a son by his wife to succeed him; but God begets of the Church sons, not to succeed Him, but to abide with Himself. And He goes on: “That which is horn of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We are born spiritually then, and spirit we are born by the word and sacrament. The Spirit is present that we may be born; the Spirit is invisibly present whereof thou art born, for thou too must be invisibly born. For He goes on to say: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth.” None sees the Spirit; and how do we hear the Spirit’s voice? There sounds a psalm, it is the Spirit’s voice; the gospel sounds, it is the Spirit’s voice; the divine word sounds, it is the Spirit’s voice. “Thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” But if thou art born of the Spirit, thou too shall be so, that one who is not born of the Spirit knows not, as for thee, whence thou comest, or whither thou goest. For He said, as He went on, “So is also every one that is born of the Spirit.”
6. “Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be?” And, in fact, in the carnal sense, he knew not how. In him occurred what the Lord had said; the Spirit’s voice he heard, but knew not whence it came, and whither it was going. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?” Oh, brethren! What do we think that the Lord meant to taunt scornfully this master of the Jews? The Lord knew what He was doing; He wished the man to be born of the Spirit. No man is born of the Spirit if he be not humble, for humility itself makes us to be born of the Spirit; “for the Lord is nigh to them that are of broken heart.”4 The man was puffed up with his mastership, and it appeared of some importance to himself that he was a teacher of the Jews. Jesus pulled down his pride, that he might be born of the Spirit: He taunted him as an unlearned man; not that the Lord wished to appear his superior. What comparison can there be, God compared to man, truth to falsehood? Christ greater than Nicodemus! Ought this to be said, can it be said, is it to be thought? If it were said, “Christ is greater than angels,” it were ridiculous: for incomparably greater than every creature is He by whom every creature was made. But yet He rallies the man on his pride: “Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?” As if He said, Behold, thou knowest nothing, thou art a proud chief; be thou born of the Spirit: for if thou be born of the Spirit, thou wilt keep the ways of God, so as to follow Christ’s humility. So, indeed, is He high above all angels, that, “being in the forth of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant, being made into the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man: He humbled Himself, being made: obedient unto death” (and lest any kind of death should please thee), “even the death of the cross.”5 He hung on the cross, and they scoffed at Him. He could have come down from the cross; but He deferred, that He might rise again from the tomb. He, the Lord, bore with proud slaves;6 the physician with the sick. If He did this, how ought they to act whom it behoves to be born of the Spirit!-if He did this, He who is the true Master in heaven, not of men only, but also of angels. For if the angels are learned, they are so by the Word of God. If they are learned by the Word of God, ask of what they are learned; and you shall find, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The neck of man is done away with, only the hard and stiff neck, that it may be gentle to bear the yoke of Christ, of which it is said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”7
7. And He goes on, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?” What earthly things did He tell, brethren? “Except a man be born again;” is that an earthly thing? “The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth;” is that earthly? For if He spoke it of the wind, as some have understood it, when they were asked what earthly thing the Lord meant, when He said, “If I told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?”-when, I say, it was asked of certain men what “earthly thing” the Lord meant, being in difficulty, they said, What He said, “The Spirit bloweth where it listeth,” and “its voice thou hearest, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth,” He said concerning the wind. Now what did He name earthly? He was speaking of the spiritual birth; and going on, saith, “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Then, brethren, which of us does not see, for example, the south wind going from south to north, or another wind coming from east to west? How, then, know we not whence it cometh and whither it goeth? What earthly thing, then, did He tell, which men did not believe? Was it that which He had said about raising the temple again? Surely, for He had received His body of the earth, and that earth taken of the earthly body He was preparing to raise up. They did not believe Him as about to raise up earth. “If I told you earthly things,” saith He, “and ye believe not; how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?” That is, if ye believe not that I can raise up the temple cast down by you, how shall ye believe that men can be regenerated by the Spirit?
8. And He goes on: “And no man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Behold, He was here, and was also in heaven; was here in His flesh, in heaven by His divinity; yea, everywhere by His divinity. Born of a mother, not quitting the Father. Two nativities of Christ are understood: one divine, the other human: one, that by which we were to be made; the other, that by which we were to be made anew: both marvellous; that without mother, this without father. But because He had taken a body of Adam,-for Mary was of Adam,-and was about to raise that same body again, it was anearthly thing He had said in saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But this was a heavenly thing, when He said, “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not see the kingdom of God.” Come then, brethren! God has willed to be the Son of man; and willed men to be sons of God. He came down for our sakes; let us ascend for His sake. For He alone descended and ascended, He who saith, “No man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven.” Are they not therefore to ascend into heaven whom He makes sons of God? Certainly they are: this is the promise to us, “They shall be equal to the angels of God.”8 Then how is it that no man ascends, but He that descended? Because one only descended, only one ascends. What of the rest? What are we to understand, but that they shall be His members, that one may ascend? Therefore it follows that “no man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Dost thou marvel that He was both here and in heaven? Such He made His disciples. Hear the Apostle Paul saying, “But our conversation is in heaven.”9 If the Apostle Paul, a man, walked in the flesh on earth, and yet had his conversation in heaven, was the God of heaven and earth not able to be both in heaven and on earth?
9. Therefore, if none but He descended and ascended, what hope is there for the rest? The hope for the rest is this, that He came down in order that in Him and with Him they might be one, who should ascend through Him. “He saith not, And to seeds,” saith the apostle, “as in many; but as in one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” And to believers he saith, “And ye are Christ’s; and if Christ’s, then are Abraham’s seed.”10 What he said to be one, that he said that we all are. Hence, in the Psalms, many sometimes sing, to show that one is made of many; sometimes one sings, to show what is made of many. Therefore was it only one that was healed in the pool; and whoever else went down into it was not healed. Now this one shows forth the oneness of the Church. Woe to them who hate unity, and make to themselves parties among men! Let them hear him who wished to make them one, in one, for one: let them hear him who says, Be not ye making many: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. But neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”11 They were saying, “I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas.” And he says, “Is Christ divided?” Be ye in one, be one thing, be one person: “No man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven.” Lo! we wish to be thine, they said to Paul. And he said to them, I will not that ye be Paul’s, but be ye His whose is Paul together with you.
10. For He came down and died, and by that death delivered us from death: being slain by death, He slew death. And you know, brethren, that this death entered into the world through the devil’s envy. “God made not death,” saith the Scripture, “nor delights He in the destruction of the living; but He created all things to be.” But what saith it here? “But by the devil’s envy, death entered into the whole world.”12 To the death offered for our entertainment by the devil, man would not come by constraint; for the devil had not the power of forcing, but only cunning to persuade. Hadst thou not consented, the devil had brought in nothing: thy own consenting, O man, led thee to death. Of the mortal are mortals born; from immortals we are become mortals. From Adam all men are mortal; but Jesus the Son of God, the Word of God, by which all things were made, the only Son equal with the Father, was made mortal: “for the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
11. He endured death, then; but death He hanged on the cross, and mortal men are delivered from death. The Lord calls to mind a great matter, which was done in a figure with them of old: “And as Moses,” saith He, “lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that every one who believeth on Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.” A great mystery is here, as they who read know. Again, let them hear, as well they who have not read as they who have forgotten what perhaps they had heard or read. The people Israel were fallen helplessly in the wilderness by the bite of serpents; they suffered a great calamity by many deaths: for it was the stroke of God correcting and scourging them that He might instruct them. In this was shown a great mystery, the figure of a thing to come: the Lord Himself testifies in this passage, so that no man can give another interpretation than that which the truth indicates concerning itself. Now Moses was ordered by the Lord to make a brazen serpent, and to raise it on a pole in the wilderness, and to admonish the people Israel, that, when any had been bitten by a serpent, he should look to that serpent raised up on the pole. This was done: men were bitten; they looked and were healed.13 What are the biting serpents? Sins, from the mortality of the flesh. What is the serpent lifted up? The Lord’s death on the cross. For as death came by the serpent, it was figured by the image of a serpent. The serpent’s bite was deadly, the Lord’s death is life-giving. A serpent is gazed on that the serpent may have no power. What is this? A death is gazed on, that death may have no power. But whose death? The death of life: if it may be said, the death of life; ay, for it may be said, but said wonderfully. But should it not be spoken, seeing it was a thing to be done? Shall I hesitate to utter that which the Lord has deigned to do for me? Is not Christ the life? And yet Christ hung on the cross. Is not Christ life? And yet Christ was dead. But in Christ’s death, death died. Life dead slew death; the fullness of life swallowed up death; death was absorbed in the body of Christ. So also shall we say in the resurrection, when now triumphant we shall sing, “Where, O death, is thy contest? Where, O death, is thy sting?”14 Meanwhile brethren, that we may be healed from sin, let us now gaze on Christ crucified; for “as Moses,” saith He, “lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth on Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just as they who looked on that serpent perished not by the serpent’s bites, so they who look in faith on Christ’s death are healed from the bites of sins. But those were healed from death to temporal life; whilst here He saith, “that they may have everlasting life.” Now there is this difference between the figurative image and the real thing: the figure procured temporal life; the reality, of which that was the figure, procures eternal life.
12. “For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him may be saved.” So far, then, as it lies in the physician, He is come to heal the sick. He that will not observe the orders of the physician destroys himself. He is come a Saviour to the world: why is he called the Saviour of the world, but that He is come to save the world, not to judge the world? Thou wilt not be saved by Him; thou shall be judged of thyself And why do I say, “shall be judged”? See what He says: “He that believeth on Him is not judged, but he that believeth not.” What dost thou expect He is going to say, but “is judged”? “Already,” saith He, “has been judged.” The judgment has not yet appeared, but already it has taken place. For the Lord knoweth them that are His: He knows who are persevering for the crown, and who for the flame; knows the wheat on His threshing-floor, and knows the chaff; knows the good corn, and knows the tares. He that believeth not is already judged. Why judged? “Because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.”
13. “And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,because their deeds were evil.” My brethren, whose works does the Lord find to be good? The works of none: He finds the works of all evil. How is it, then, that some have done the truth, and are come to the light? For this is what follows: “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” In what way have some done a good work to come to the light, namely, to Christ? And how have some loved darkness? For if He finds all men sinners, and healeth all of sin, and that serpent in which the Lord’s death was figured healed them that were bitten, and on account of the serpent’s bite the serpent was set up, namely, the Lord’s death on account of mortal men, whom He finds unrighteous; how are we to understand that “this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”? How is this? Whose works, in fact, are good? Hast Thou not come to justify the ungodly? “But they loved,” saith He, “darkness rather than light.” There He laid the emphasis: for many loved their sins; many confessed their sins; and he who confesses his sins, and accuses them, doth now work with God. God accuses thy sins: and if thou also accusest, thou art united to God. There are, as it were, two things, man and sinner. That thou art called man, is God’s doing; that thou art called sinner, is man’s own doing. Blot out what thou hast done, that God may save what He has done. It behoves thee to hatethine own work in thee, and to love the work of God in thee. And when thy own deeds will begin to displease thee, from that time thy good works begin, as thou findest fault with thy evil works. The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works. Thou doest the truth, and comest to the light. How is it thou doest the truth? Thou dost not caress, nor soothe, nor flatter thyself; nor say, “I am righteous,” whilst thou art unrighteous: thus, thou beginnest to do the truth. Thou comest to the light, that thy works may be made manifest that they are wrought in God; for thy sin, the very thing that has given thee displeasure, would not have displeased thee, if God did not shine into thee, and His truth show it thee. But he that loves his sins, even after being admonished, hates the light admonishing him, and flees from it, that his works which he loves may not be proved to be evil. But he that doeth truth accuses his evil works in himself, spares not himself, forgives not himself, that God may forgive him: for that which he desires God to forgive, he himself acknowledges, and he comes to the light; to which he is thankful for showing him what he should hate in himself. He says to God, “Turn away Thy face from my sins:” yet with what countenance says it, unless he adds, “For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me?”15 Be that before thyself which thou desirest not to be before God. But if thou wilt put thy sin behind thee, God will thrust it back before thine eyes; and this He will do at a time when there will be no more fruit of repentance.
14. Run, my brethren, lest the darkness lay hold of you. Awake to your salvation, awake while there is time; let none be kept back from the temple of God, none kept back from the work of the Lord, none called away from continual prayer, none be defrauded of wonted devotion. Awake, then, while it is day: the day shines, Christ is the day. He is ready to forgive sins, but to them that acknowledge them; ready to punish the self-defenders, who boast that they are righteous, and think themselves to be something when they are nothing. But he that walks in His love and mercy, even being free from those great and deadly sins, such crimes as murder, theft, adultery; still, because of those which seem to be minute sins, of tongue, or of thought, or of intemperance in things permitted, he doeth the truth in confession, and cometh to the light in good works: since many minute sins, if they be neglected, kill. Minute are the drops that swell the rivers; minute are the grains of sand; but if much sand is put together, the heap presses and crushes. Bilge-water neglected in the hold does the same thing as a rushing wave. Gradually it leaks in through the hold; and by long leaking in and no pumping out, it sinks the ship. Now what is this pumping out, but by good works, by sighing, fasting, giving, forgiving, so to effect that sins may not overwhelm us? The path of this life, however, is troublesome, full of temptations: in prosperity, let it not lift us up; in adversity, let it not crush us. He who gave the happiness of this world gave it for thy comfort, not for thy ruin. Again, He who scourgeth thee in this life, doeth it for thy improvement, not for thy condemnation. Bear the Father that corrects thee for thy training, lest thou feel the judge in punishing thee. These things we tell you every day, and they must be often said, because they are good and wholesome.
1 (Ex 3,6 Ex 3,15
2 (Gn 22,18).
3 (Gn 21,9-10).
4 (Ps 34,18,
5 (Ph 2,6-8.
6 (Mt 11,30).
7 (Mt 11,30).
8 (Mt 22,30,
9 (Ph 3,20,
10 Ga 3,16 Ga 3,29.
11 (1Co 3,6-7.
12 (Sg 1,2).
13 (Nb 21,6-9.
14 (1Co 15,54).
15 (Ps 51,11,
1. The course of reading from the Gospel of John, as those of you who are concerned for your own progress may remember, so proceeds in regular order, that the passage which has now been read comes before us for exposition to-day. You remember that we have expounded it, in the preceding discourses, from the very beginning of the Gospel, as far as the lesson of to-day. And though perhaps you have forgotten much of it, at least it remains in your memory that we have done our part in it. What you have heard from it about the baptism of John, even though you retain not all, yet I believe you have heard that which you may retain. Also, what was said as to why the Holy Spirit appeared in the shape of a dove; and how that most knotty question was solved, namely, what was that something in the Lord which Jn did not know, and which he learned by means of the dove, whilst already Jn knew Him, since, as Jesus came to be baptized, he said to Him, “I ought to be baptized by Thee, and comest Thou to me?” when the Lord answered him, “Suffer it now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled.”1
2. Now, therefore, the order of our reading obliges us to return to that same John. The same is he who was prophesied of by Isaiah, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare yea way for the Lord, make His paths straight.”2 Such testimony gave he to his Lord and (for the Lord deemed him worthy) his friend. And the Lord, even his friend, did also Himself bear witness to John. For concerning Jn He said, “Among them that are born of women, there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.” But as He put Himself before John, in that wherein He was greater, He was God. “But he that is! less,” saith He, “in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”3 Less in age; greater in power, in deity, in majesty, in brightness: even as “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In the preceding passages, however, Jn had given testimony to the Lord, in such wise that he did indeed call Him Son of God, but said not that He was God, nor yet denied it: he was silent as to His being God, not denied that He was God; but yet he was not altogether silent as to His being God, for perhaps we find this in the lesson of to-day. He had called Him Son of God; but men, too, have been called sons of God. He had declared Him to be of such excellence, that he was not himself worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe. Now this greatness gives us much to understand: whose shoe-latchet he was not worthy to loose, he than whom none greater had arisen among them that are born of women. He was more, indeed, than all men and angels. For we find an angel forbidding a man to fall at his feet. For example, when in the Apocalypse an angel was showing certain things to John, the writer of this Gospel, John, terrified at the greatness of the vision, fell down at the angel’s feet. But said the angel, “Rise; see thou do it not: worship God, for I am thy fellow-servant, and the brethren’s.”4 An angel, then, forbade a man to fall down at his feet. Is it not manifest that He must be above all angels, for whom a man, such that a greater than he has not risen among them that are born of women, declares himself to be not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe?
3. John, however, may say something more evidently, that our Lord Jesus Christ is God. We may find this in the present passage, that it is perhaps of Him we have been singing, “The Lord reigned over all the earth;” against which they are deaf who imagine that He reigns only in Africa. But let them not suppose that it is not of Christ it is spoken when it is said, “God reigned over all the earth.” For who else is our King, but our Lord Jesus Christ? It is He that is our King. And what have you heard in the same psalm, in the verse just sung? “Sing praises to our God, sing praises: sing praises to our Kings sing praises.” Whom he called God, the same he called our King: “Sing praises to our God, sing praises: sing praises to our King, sing ye praises with understanding.” And that thou shouldest not understand Him to whom thou singest praises to reign in one part, he says, “For God is King of all the earth.”5 And how is He King of all the earth, who appeared in one part of the earth, in Jerusalem, in Judea,walking among men, born, sucking the breast, growing, eating, drinking, waking, sleeping, sitting at a well,wearied; laid hold of, scourged, spat upon,crowned with thorns, hanged on a tree, wounded with a spear, dead, buried? How then King of all the earth? What was seenlocally was flesh, to carnal eyes only flesh was visible; the immortal majesty was concealed inmortal flesh. And with what eyes shall we be able to behold the immortal majesty, after penetrating through the structure of the flesh? There is another eye, there is an inner eye. Tobias, for example, was not without eyes, when, blind in his bodily eyes, he was giving precepts of life to his son.6 The son was holding the father’s hand, that the father might walk with his feet, whilst the father was giving the son counsel to walk in the way of righteousness. Here I see eyes, and there I understand eyes. And better are the eyes of him that gives counsel of life, than his who holds the hand. Such eyes Jesus also required when He said to Philip, “Am I so long time with you, and ye have not known me?” Such eyes He required when He said, “Philip, he that seeth me, seeth the Father.” These are the eyes of the understanding, these are the eyes of the mind. It is for that reason that the psalm, when it had said, “For God is King of all the earth,” immediately added, “Sing ye praises with understanding.” For in that I say, “Sing ye praises to our God,” I say that God is our King. But yet our King you have seen among men, as man; you have seen Him suffering, crucified, dead: there was in that flesh something concealed, which you might have seen with eyes of flesh. What was there concealed? “Sing ye praises with understanding.” Do not seek to see with the eyes what is beheld by the mind. “Sing praises” with the tongue, for He is among you as flesh; but because “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” render the sound to the flesh, render to God the gaze of the mind “Sing ye praises with understanding,” and you see that the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
4. Now let Jn also declare his witness:“After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized.” Being baptized, He baptized. Not with that baptism with which He was baptized did He baptize. The Lord, being baptized by a servant gives baptism, showing the path of humility and leading to the baptism of the Lord, that is, His own baptism, by giving an example of humility, in not Himself refusing baptism from a servant. And in the baptism by a servant, a way was prepared for the Lord; the Lord also being baptized, made Himself a way for them that come to Him. Let us hear Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” If thou seekest truth, keep the way, for the way and the truth are the same. The way that thou art going is the same as the whither thou art going: thou art not going by a way as one thing, to an object as another thing; not coming to Christ by something else as a way, thou comest to Christ by Christ. How by Christ to Christ? By Christ the man, to Christ God; by the Word made flesh, to the Word which in the beginning was God with God; from that which man ate, to that which angels daily eat. For so it is written, “He gave them bread of heaven: man ate the bread of angels.”7 What is the bread of angels? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Re Word was God.” How has man eaten the bread of angels? “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
5. But though we have said that angels eat, do not fancy, brethren, that this is done with teeth. For if you think so, God, of whom the angels eat, is as it were torn in pieces. Who tears righteousness in pieces? But still, some one asks me, And who is it that can eat righteousness? Well, how is it said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled”? Thefood which thou eatest carnally perishes, in order to refresh thee; to repair thy waste it is consumed: eat righteousness; and while thou art refreshed, it continues entire. Just as by seeing this corporeal light, these eyes of ours are refreshed, and yet it is a corporeal thing that is seen by corporeal eyes. Many there have been, when too long in darkness, whose eyesight is weakened by fasting, as it were, from light. The eyes, deprived of their food (for they feed on light), become wearied by fasting, and weakened, so that they cannot bear to see the light by which they are refreshed; and if the light is too long absent, they are quenched, and the very sense of sight dies as it were in them. What then? Doesthe light become less, because so many eyes are daily fed by it? Thy eyesare refreshed, and the light remains entire. As God was able to show this in the case of corporeal light to corporeal eyes, does He not show that other light to clean hearts as unwearied, continuing entire, and in no respect failing? What light? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” Let us see if this is light. “For with Thee is the fountain of light, and in Thy light shall we see light.” On earth, fountain is one thing, light another. When thirsting, thou seekest a fountain, and to get to the fountain thou seekest light; and if it is not day, thou lightest a lamp to get to the fountain. That fountain is the very light: to the thirsting a fountain, to the blind a light. Let the eyes be opened to see the light, let the lips of the heart be opened to drink of the fountain; that which thou drinkest, thou seest, thou hearest. God becomes all to thee; for He is to thee the whole of these things which thou lovest. If thou regardest things visible, neither is God bread, nor is God water, nor is God this light, nor is He garment nor house. For all these are things visible, and single separate things. What bread is, water is not; and what a garment is, a house is not; and what these things are, God is not, for they are visible things. God is all this to thee: if thou hungerest, He is bread to thee; if thou thirstest, He is water to thee; if thou art in darkness, He is light to thee: for He remains incorruptible. If thou art naked, He is a garment of immortality to thee, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. All things can be said of God, and nothing is worthily said of God. Nothing is wider than this poverty of expression. Thou seekest a fitting name for Him, thou canst not find it; thou seekest to speak of Him in any way soever, thou findest that He is all. What likeness have the lamb and the lion? Both is said of Christ. “Behold the Lamb of God!” How a lion? “The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed.”8
6. Let us hear John: “Jesus baptized.” We said that Jesus baptized. How Jesus? How the Lord? How the Son of God? How the Word? Well, but the Word was made flesh. “And Jn also was baptizing in Aenon, near to Salim.” A certain lake, “Aenon.”9 How do we know it was a lake? “Because there was much water there, and they came and were baptized. For Jn was not yet cast into prison.” If you remember (see, I say it again), I told you why Jn baptized: because the Lord must needs be baptized. And why must the Lord be baptized? Because many there would be to despise baptism, that they might appear to be endowed with greater grace than they saw other believers endowed with. For example, a catechumen, now living continently, might despise a married person, and say of himself that he was better than the other believer. That catechumen might possibly say in his heart, “What need have I to receive baptism, to have just what that other man has, than whom I am already better?” Therefore, lest that neck of pride should hurl to destruction certain men much elated with the merits of their own righteousness, the Lord was willing to be baptized by a servant, as if addressing His chief sons: “Why do you extol yourselves? Why lift yourselves up because you have, one prudence, another learning, another chastity, another the courage of patience? Can you possibly have as much as I who gave you these? And yet I was baptized by a servant, you disdain to be baptized by the Lord.” This is the sense of “to fulfill all righteousness.”
7. But some one will say, “It were enough, then, that Jn baptized only the Lord; what need was there for others to be baptized by John?” Now we have said this too, that if Jn had baptized only the Lord, men would not be without this thought, that Jn had a better baptism than the Lord had. They would say, in fact, “So great was the baptism of John, that Christ alone was worthy to be baptized therewith.” Therefore, to show that the baptism which the Lord was to give was better than that of John,-that the one might be understood as that of a servant,the other as that of the Lord,-the Lord was baptized to give an example of humility; but He was not the only one baptized by John, lest John’s baptism should appear to be better than the baptism of the Lord. To this end, however, our Lord Jesus Christ showed the way, as you have heard, brethren, lest any man, arrogating to himself that he has abundance of some particular grace, should disdain to be baptized with the baptism of the Lord. For whatever the catechumen’s proficiency, he still carries the load of his iniquity: it is not forgiven him until he shall have come to baptism. Just as the people Israel were not rid of the Egyptians until they had come to the Red Sea, so no man is rid of the pressure of sins until he has come to the font of baptism.
8. “Then there arose a question on the part of John’s disciples with the Jews about purifying.” Jn baptized, Christ baptized. John’s disciples were moved; there was a running after Christ, people were coming to John. Those who came to John, he sent to Jesus to be baptized; but they who were baptized by Christ were not sent to John. John’s disciples were alarmed, and began to dispute with the Jews, as usually happens. Understand the Jews to have declared that Christ was greater, and that to His baptism people ought to have recourse. John’s disciples, not yet understanding this, defended John’s baptism. They came to Jn himself, that he might solve the question. Understand, beloved. And here we are given to see the use of humility, and, when people were erring in the subject of dispute, are shown whether Jn desired to glory in himself. Now probably he said, “You say the truth, you contend rightly; mine is the better baptism, I baptized Christ Himself.” Jn could say this after Christ was baptized. If he wished to exalt himself, what an opportunity he had to do so! But he knew better before whom to humble himself: to Him whom he knew to have come after himself by birth, he willingly yielded precedence by confessing Him. He understood his own salvation to be in Christ. He had already said above, “We all have received out of His fullness;” and this is to confess Him to be God. For how can all men receive of His fullness, if He be not God? For if He is man in such wise that He is not God, then Himself also receives of the fullness of God, and so is not God. But if all men receive of His fullness, He is the fountain, they are drinkers. They that drink of a fountain, both thirst and drink. The fountain never thirsts; it has never need of itself. Men need a fountain. With thirsty stomachs and parched lips they run to the fountain to be refreshed. The fountain flows to refresh, so does the Lord Jesus.
9. Let us see, then, what answer Jn gives: “They came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him:” that is, What sayest thou? Ought they not to be hindered, that they may rather come to thee? “He answered and said, A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven.” Of whom, think you, had Jn said this? Of himself. “As a man, I received,” saith he, “from heaven.” Note, my beloved: “A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ.” As much as to say, “Why do ye deceive yourselves? See how you have put this question before me. What have you said to me? ‘Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness.’ Then you know what sort of witness I bare to Him. Am I now to say that He is not the same whom I declared Him to be? And because I received somewhat from heaven, in order to be something, do you wish me to be empty of it, so as to speak against the truth? ‘A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said I am not the Christ.’“ Thou art not the Christ; but what if thou art greater than He since thou didst baptize Him? “I am sent:” I am the herald, He is the Judge.
10. But hear a far stronger, a far more expressive testimony. See ye what it is we are treating of; see ye that to love any person in place of Christ is adultery. Why do I say this? Let us attend to the voice of John. People could be mistaken in him, could think him to be the person he was not. He rejects the false honor, in order to hold the truth complete. See what he declares Christ to be; what does he say himself is? “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom.” Be chaste, love the bridegroom. But what art thou, who sayest to us, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom? But the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.” The Lord our God will help me in proportion to the tumult of my heart, for it is full of sadness, to utter the grief I feel; but I beseech you by Christ Himself to imagine in thought what it will not be possible forme to utter; for I know that my grief cannot be expressed with befitting impressiveness. Now I see many adulterers who desire to get possession of the bride, purchased at so great a price, loved while deformed that she might be made fair, having been purchased and delivered and adorned by such an one; and those adulterers strive with their words to be loved instead of the bridegroom. Of that One it is said, “This is He that baptizeth.”10 Who is he that goes forth from us and says, “I am he that baptizeth”? Who is he that goes forth from us and says, “That is holy which I give”? Who is he that goes hence and says, “It is good for thee to be born of me”? Let us hear the friend of the bridegroom, not the adulterers against the bridegroom; let us hear one jealous, but not for himself.
11. Brethen, return in thought to your own homes. I speak of carnal, I speak of earthly things; I speak after the manner of men, for the infirmity of your flesh. Many of you have, many of you wish to have, many, though you wish not to have, still have had wives; many who do not at all wish to have wives, are born of the wives of your fathers. This is a feeling that touches every heart. There is no man so alien from mankind in human affairs as not to feel what I say. Suppose that a man, having set out on a journey, had commended his bride to the care of his friend: “See, I pray thee, thou art my dear friend; see to it, lest in my absence some other may perchance be loved in my stead.” Then what sort of a person must he be, who, while the guardian of the bride or wife of his friend, does indeed endeavor that none other be loved, but if he wishes himself to be loved instead of his friend, and desires to enjoy her who was committed to his care, how detestable must he appear to all mankind! Let him see her gazing out of the window, or joking with some one somewhat too heedlessly, he forbids her as one who is jealous. I see him jealous, but let me see for whom he is jealous; whether for his absent friend or for his present self. Think that our Lord Jesus Christ has done this. He has committed His bride to the care of His friend; He has set out on a journey to a far country to receive a kingdom, as He says Himself in the Gospel,11 but yet is present in His majesty. Let the friend who has gone beyond the sea be deceived; and if he is deceived, woe to him who deceives! Why do men attempt to deceive God,-God who looks at the hearts of all, and searches the secrets of all? But some heretic shows himself, and says, “’Tis I that give, ’tis I that sanctify, ’tis I that justify; go not thou to that other sect.” He does well indeed to be jealous, but see for whom. “Go not thou to idols,” saith he,-he is rightly jealous; “nor to diviners,”-still rightly jealous. Let us see for whom he is jealous: “What I give is holy, because it is I that give it; he is baptized whom I baptize; he whom I baptize not is not baptized.” Hear thou the friend of the bridegroom, learn to be jealous for thy friend; hear His voice who is “He that baptizeth.” Why desire to arrogate to thyself what is not thine? Is he so very absent who has left here his bride? Knowest thou not, that He who rose from the dead is sitting at the right hand of the Father? If the Jews despised Him hanging on the tree, dost thou despise Him sitting in heaven? Be assured, beloved, that I suffer great grief of this matter; but, as I have said, I leave the rest to your thoughts. I cannot utter it if I speak the whole day. If I bewail it the whole day, I do not enough. I cannot utter it, if I should have, as the prophet says, “a fountain of tears;” and were I changed into tears, and to become all tears, were I turned into tongues, and to become all tongues, it were not enough.
12. Let us return and see what this Jn saith: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom;” she is not my bride. And dost thou not rejoice in the marriage? Yea, saith he, I do rejoice: “But the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the voice of the bridegroom.” Not because of mine own voice, saith he, do I rejoice, but because of the Bridegroom’s voice. I am in the place of hearer; He, of speaker: I am as one that must be enlightened, He is the light; I am as the ear, He is the word. Therefore the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him. Why standeth? Because he falls not. How fails not? Because he is humble. See him standing on solid ground; “I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe.” Thou doest well to be humble; deservedly thou dost not fall; deservedly thou standest, and hearest Him, and rejoicest greatly for the Bridegroom’s voice. So also the apostle is the Bridegroom’s friend; he too is jealous, not for himself, hut for the Bridegroom. Hear his voice when he is jealous: “I am jealous over you,” said he, “with the jealousy of God:” not with my own, nor for myself, but with the jealousy of God. Why? How? Over whom art thou jealous, and for whom? “For I have espoused you to one husband, to present a chaste virgin to Christ.” Why dost thou fear, then? Why art thou jealous? “I fear,” saith he, “lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the chastity which is in Christ.”12 The whole Church is called a virgin. You see that the members of the Church are divers, that they are endowed with and do rejoice in divers gifts: some men wedded, some women wedded; some are widowers who seek no more to have wives, some are widows who seek no more to have husbands; some men preserve continence from their youth, some women have vowed their virginity to God: divers are the gifts, but all these are one virgin. Where is this virginity, for it is not in the body. It belongs to few women; and if virginity can be said of men, to few men in the Church belongs a holy integrity even of body; yet one such is a more honorable member. Other members, however, preserve virginity, not in body, but all in mind. What is the virginity of the mind? Entire faith, firm hope, sincere charity. This is the virginity which he, who, was jealous for the Bridegroom, feared might be corrupted by the serpent. For, just as the bodily member is marred in a certain part, so the seduction of the tongue defiles the virginity of the heart. Let her who does not desire without cause to keep virginity of body, see to it that she be not corrupted in mind.
13. What shall I say, then, brethren? Even the heretics have virgins, and there are many virgins among heretics. Let us see whether they love the Bridegroom, so that this virginity may be guarded. For whom is it guarded? “For Christ.” Let us see if it be for Christ, and not for Donatus: let us see for whom this virginity is preserved: you can easily prove. Behold, I show you the Bridegroom, for He shows Himself. Jn bears witness to Him: “This is He that baptizeth.” O thou virgin, if for this Bridegroom thou preservest thy virginity, why runnest thou to him who says, “I am he that baptizeth,” while the friend of the Bridegroom tells thee, “This is He that baptizeth”? Again, thy Bridegroom possesseth the whole world; why, then, shouldst thou be defiled with a part of it? Who is the Bridegroom? “For God is King of all the earth.” This thy Bridegroom possesses the whole, because He purchased the whole. See at what price He purchased it, that thou mayest understand what He has purchased. What price has He given? He gave His blood. Where gave He, where shed He, His blood? In His passion. Is it not to thy Bridegroom thou singest, or feignest to sing, when the whole world was purchased: “They pierced my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones: but they themselves considered me, they looked upon me, they divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots”? Thou art the bride, acknowledge thy Bridegroom’s vesture. Upon what vesture was the lot cast? Ask the Gospel; see to whom thou art espoused, see from whom thou receivest pledges. Ask the Gospel; see what it tells thee in the suffering of the Lord. “There was a coat” there: let us see what kind; “woven from the top throughout.” What does the coat woven from the top signify, but charity? What does this coat signify, but unity? Consider this coat, which not even the persecutors of Christ divided. For it saith, “They said among themselves, Let us not divide it, but let us cast lots upon it.” Behold that of which the psalm spoke! Christ’s persecutors did not rend His garment; Christians divide the Church.
14. But what shall I say, brethren? Let us see plainly what He purchased. For there He bought, where He paid the price. Paid it for how much? If He paid it only for Africa, let us be Donatists, and not be called Donatists, but Christians; since Christ bought only Africa: although even here are other than Donatists. But He has not been silent of what He bought in this transaction. He has made up the account: thanks be to God, He has not tricked us. Need there is for that bride to hear, and then to understand to whom she has vowed her virginity. There, in that psalm where it says, “They pierced my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones;” wherein the Lord’s passion is most openly declared;-the psalm which is read every year on the last week, in the hearing of the whole people, at the approach of Christ’s passion; and this psalm is read both among them and us;-there, I say, note, brethren, what He has bought: let the bill of merchandise be read: hear ye what He bought: “All the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His sight: for the kingdom is His, and He shall rule the nations.” Behold what it is He has bought! Behold! “For God, the King of all the earth,” is thy Bridegroom. Why, then, wouldst thou have one so rich reduced to rags? Acknowledge Him: He bought the whole; yet thou sayest, “Thou hast a part of it here.” Oh, would that thou weft well-pleasing to thy Spouse; would that thou who speakest wert not defiled, and, what is worse, defiled in heart, not in body! Thou lovest a man instead of Christ; lovest one that says, “’Tis I that baptize;” not hearing the friend of the Bridegroom when he says, “This is He that baptizeth;” not hearing him when he says, “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom.” I have not the bride, said he; but what am I? “But the friend of the Bridegroom, who standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly, because of the Bridegroom’s voice.”
15. Evidently, then, my brethren, it profits those men nothing to keep virginity, to have continence, to give alms. All those doings which are praised in the Church profit them nothing; because they rend unity, namely, that “coat” of charity. What do they? Many among them are eloquent; great tongues, streams of tongues. Do they speak like angels? Let them hear the friend of the Bridegroom, jealous for the Bridegroom, not for himself: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”13
16. But what say they? “We have baptism.” Thou hast, but not thine. It is one thing to have, another to own. Baptism thou hast, for thou hast received to be baptized, received as one enlightened, provided thou be not darkened of thyself; and when thou givest, thou givest as a minister, not as owner; as a herald proclaiming, not as a judge. The judge speaks through the herald, and nevertheless it is not written in the registers, “The herald said,” but, “The judge said.” Therefore see if what thou givest is thine by authority. But if thou hast received, confess with the friend of the Bridegroom, “A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven.” Confess with the friend of the Bridegroom, “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him.” But O, would thou didst stand and hear Him, and not fall, to hear thyself! For by hearing Him, thou wouldst stand and hear; for thou wilt speak, and thy head is puffed with pride. I, saith the Church, if I am the bride, if I nave received pledges, if I have been redeemed at the price of that blood, do hear the voice of the Bridegroom; and I do hear the voice of the Bridegroom’s friend too, if he give glory to my Bridegroom, not to himself. Let the friend speak: “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him, and rejoices greatly because of the voice of the Bridegroom.” Behold, thou hast sacraments; and I grant that thou hast. Thou hast the form, but thou art a branch cut off from the vine; thou hast a form, I want the root. There is no fruit of the form, except where there is a root; but where is the root but in charity? Hear the form of the cut-off branches; let Paul speak: “Though I know all mysteries,” saith he, “and have all prophecy, and all faith” (and how great a faith!), “so as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
17. Let no man tell you fables, then. “Pontius wrought a miracle; and Donatus prayed, and God answered him from heaven.” In the first place, either they are deceived, or they deceive. In the last place, grant that he removes mountains: “And have not charity,” saith the apostle, “I am nothing.” Let us see whether he has charity. I would believe that he had, if he had not divided unity. For against those whom I may call marvel-workers, my God has put me on my guard, saying, “In the last times there shall arise false prophets, doing signs and wonders, to lead into error, if it were possible, even the elect: Lo, I have foretold it to you.”14 Therefore the Bridegroom has cautioned us, that we ought not to be deceived even by miracles. Sometimes, indeed, a deserter frightens a plain countryman; but whether he is of the camp, and whether he is the better of that character with which he is marked, is what he who would not be frightened or seduced attends to. Let us then, my brethren, hold unity: without unity, even he who works miracles is nothing. The people Israel was in unity, and yet wrought no miracles: Pharaoh’s magicians were out of unity, and yet they wrought the like works as Moses.”15 The people Israel, as I have said, wrought no miracles. Who were saved with God-they who did, or they who did not, work miracles? The Apostle Peter raised a dead person: Simon Magus did many things: there were there certain Christians who were not able to do either what Peter did or what Simon did; and wherein did they rejoice? In this, that their names were written in heaven. For this is what our Lord Jesus Christ said to the disciples on their return, because of the faith of the Gentiles. The disciples, in truth, themselves said, boasting, “Behold, Lord, in Thy name even the devils are subject to us.” Rightly indeed they confessed, they brought the honor to the name of Christ; and yet what does He say to them? “Do not ye glory in this, that the devils are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”16 Peter cast out devils. Some old widow, some lay person or other, having charity, and holding the integrity of faith, forsooth does not do this. Peter is the eye in the body, that man is the finger, yet is he in the same body in which Peter is; and if the finger has less power than the eye, yet it is not cut off from the body. Better is it to be a finger and to be in the body, than to be an eye and to be plucked out of the body.
18. Therefore, my brethren, let no man deceive you, let no man seduce you: love the peace of Christ, who was crucified for you, whilst He was God. Paul says, “Neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth, but God who giveth the increase.”17 And does any of us say that he is something? If we say that we are something, and give not the glory to Him, we are adulterers; we desire ourselves to be loved, not the Bridegroom. Love ye Christ, and us in Him, in whom also you are beloved by us. Let the members love one another, but live all under the Head. With grief indeed, my brethren, I have been obliged to speak much, and yet I have said little: I have not been able to finish the passage; God will help us to finish it in due season. I did not wish to burden your hearts further; I wish them to be free for sighs and prayers in behalf of those who are still deaf and do not understand.
1 (Mt 3,14,
2 (Is 40,3,
3 (Mt 11,11,
4 (Ap 22,8-9.
5 (Ps 47,3-8.
6 (Tb 4,
7 (Ps 78,24).
8 (Ap 5,5,
9 [An error.]
10 (Jn 1,33
11 (Lc 19,12).
12 (2Co 11,2-3).
13 (1Co 13,1).
14 (Mc 13,22-23.
15 (Ex 7,12,
16 (Lc 10,17,
17 (1Co 3,7,
Augustin on John 11