Augustin on John 33
1. What we have just heard and attentively received, as the holy Gospel was being read, I doubt not that all of us have also endeavored to understand, and that each of us according to his measure apprehended what he could of so great a matter as that which has been read; and while the bread of the word is laid out, no one can complain that he has tasted nothing. But again I doubt not that there is scarcely any who has understood the whole. Nevertheless, even should there be any who may sufficiently understand the words of our Lord Jesus Christ now read out of the Gospel, let him bear with our ministry, whilst, if possible, with His assistance, we may, by treating thereof, cause that either all or many may understand that which a few are joyful of having understood for themselves.
2. I think that what the Lord says, “I am the light of the world, “is clear to those that have eyes, by which they are made partakers of this light: but they who have not eyes except in the flesh alone, wonder at what is said by the Lord Jesus Christ, “I am the light of the world.” And perhaps there may not be wanting some one too who says with himself: Whether perhaps the Lord Christ is that sun which by its rising and setting causes the day? For there have not been wanting heretics who thought this. The Manichaeans have supposed that the Lord Christ is that sun which is visible to carnal eyes, exposed and public to be seen, not only by men, but by the beasts. But the right faith of the Catholic Church rejects such a fiction, and perceives it to be a devilish doctrine: not only by believing acknowledges it to be such, but in the case of whom it can, proves it even by reasoning. Let us therefore reject this kind of error, which the Holy Church has anathematized from the beginning. Let us not suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ is this sun which we see rising from the east, setting in the west; to whose course succeeds night, whose rays are obscured by a cloud, which removes from place to place by a set motion: the Lord Christ is not such a thing as this. The Lord Christ is not the sun that was made, but He by whom the sun was made. For “all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.”
3. There is therefore a Light which made this light of the sun: let us love this Light, let us long to understand it, let us thirst for the same; that, with itself for our guide, we may at length come to it, and that we may so live in it that we may never die. This is indeed that Light of which prophecy long ago going before thus sang in the psalm: “O Lord, Thou shalt save men and beasts; even as Thy mercy is multiplied, O God.” These are the words of the holy psalm: mark ye what the ancient discourse of holy men of God did premise concerning such a light. “Men,” saith it, “and beasts Thou shalt save, O Lord; even as Thy mercy is multiplied, O God.” For since Thou art God, and hast manifold mercy, the same multiplicity of Thy mercy reaches not only to men whom Thou hast created in Thine own image, but even to the beasts which Thou hast made subservient to men. For He who gives salvation to man, the same gives salvation also to the beast. Do not blush to think this of the Lord thy God: nay, rather believe this and trust it, and see thou think not otherwise. He that saves thee, the same saves thy horse and thy sheep; to come to the very least, also thy hen: “Salvation is of the Lord,”1 and God saves these. Thou art uneasy, thou questionest. I wonder why thou doubtest. Shall He disdain to save who deigned to create? Of the Lord is the saving of angels, of men, and of beasts: “Salvation is of the Lord.” Just as no man is from himself, so no man is saved by himself. Therefore most truly and right well doth the psalm say, “O Lord, Thou shall save men and beasts.” Why? “Even as thy mercy is multiplied, O God.” For Thou art God, Thou hast created, Thou savest: Thou gavest being, Thou givest to be in health.
4. Since, therefore, as the mercy of God is multiplied, men and beasts are saved by Him, have not men something else which God as Creator bestows on them, which He bestows not on the beasts? Is there no distinction between the living creature made after the image of God, and the living creature made subject to the image of God? Clearly there is: beyond that salvation common to us with the dumb animals, there is what God bestows on us, but not on them. What is this? Follow on in the same psalm: “But the sons of men shall hope under the covert of Thy wings.” Having now a salvation in common with their cattle, “the sons of men shall hope under the covert of Thy wings.” They have one salvation in fact, another in hope. This salvation which is at present is common to men and cattle; but there is another which men hope for; and which they who hope for receive, they who despair of receive not. For it saith, “The sons of men shall hope under covert of Thy wings.” And they that perseveringly hope are protected by Thee, lest they be cast down from their hope by the devil: “Under covert of Thy wings they shall hope.” If they shall hope, what shall they hope for, but for what the cattle shall not have? “They shall be fully drunk with the fatness of Thy house; and from the torrent of Thy pleasure Thou shalt give them drink.” What sort of wine is that with which it is laudable to be drunk? What sort of wine is that which disturbs not the mind, but directs it? What sort of wine is that which makes perpetually sane, and makes not insane by drinking? “They shall be fully drunk.” How? “With the fatness of Thy house; and from the torrent of Thy pleasure Thou shalt give them drink.” How so? “Because with Thee is the fountain of life.” The very fountain of life walked on the earth, the same who said, “Whoso thirsts, let him come unto me.” Behold the fountain! But we begin to speak about the light, and to handle the question laid down from the Gospel concerning the light. For we read how the Lord said, “I am the light of the world.” Thence arose a question, test any one, carnally understanding this, should fancy this light to mean the sun: we came thence to the psalm, which having considered, we found meanwhile that the Lord is the fountain of life. Drink and live. “With Thee,” it saith, “is the fountain of life;” therefore, “under the shadow of Thy wings the sons of men hope,” seeking to be full drunk with this fountain. But we were speaking of the Light. Follow on, then; for the prophet, having said, “With Thee is the fountain of life,” went on to add, “In Thy light shall we see light,”-God of God, Light of Light. By this Light the sun’s light was made; and the Light which made the sun, under which He also made us, was made under the sun for our sake. That Light which made the sun, was made, I say, under the sun for our sake. Do not despise the cloud of the flesh; with that cloud it is covered, not to be obscured, but to be moderated.
5. That unfailing Light, the Light of wisdom, speaking through the cloud of the flesh, says to men, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” How He has withdrawn thee from the eyes of the flesh, and recalled thee to the eyes of the heart! For it is not enough to say, “Whoso followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have light;” He added too, “of life;” even as it was there said, “For with Thee is the fountain of life.” See thus, my brethren, how the words of the Lord agree with the truth of that psalm: both there, the light is put with the fountain of life, and by the Lord it is said, “light of life.” But for bodily use, light and fountain are different things: our mouths seek a fountain, our eyes light; when we thirst we seek a fountain, when we are in darkness we seek light; and if we chance to thirst in the night, we kindle a light to come to a fountain. Not so with God: light and fountain are the same thing: He who shines for thee that thou mayest see, the same flows for thee that thou mayest drink.
6. You see, then, my brethren, you see, if you see inwardly, what kind of light this is, of which the Lord says, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” Follow the sun, and let us see if thou wilt not walk in darkness. Behold, by rising it comes forth to thee; it goes by its course towards the west. Perhaps thy journey is towards the east: unless thou goest in a contrary direction to that in which it travels, thou wilt certainly err by following it, and instead of east wilt get to the west. If thou follow it by land, thou wilt go wrong; if the mariner follow it by sea, he will go wrong. Finally, it seems to thee, suppose, that thou must follow the sun, and thou also travellest thyself towards the west, whither it also travels; let us see after it has set if thou wilt not walk in darkness. See how, although thou art not willing to desert it, yet it will desert thee, to finish the day by necessity of its service. But our Lord Jesus Christ, even when He was not manifest to all through the cloud of His flesh, was yet at the same time holding all things by the power of His wisdom. Thy God is whole everywhere: if thou fall not off from Him, He will never fall away from thee.
7. Accordingly, “He that followeth me,” saith He,” shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” What He has promised, He put in a word of the future tense; for He says not has, but “shall have the light of life.” Yet He does not say, He that shall follow me; but, he that does follow me. What it is our duty to do, He put in the present tense; but what He has promised to them that do it, He has indicated by a word of the future tense. “He that followeth, shall have.” That followeth now, shall have hereafter: followeth now by faith, shall have hereafter by sight. For, “whilst we are in the body,” saith the apostle, “we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight.”2 When shall we walk by sight? When we shall have the light of life, when we shall have come to that vision, when this night shall have passed away. Of that day, indeed, which is to arise, it is said. “In the morning I will stand near thee, and contemplate thee.”3 What means “in the morning”? When the night of this world is over, when the terrors of temptations are over, when that lion which goeth about roaring in the night, seeking whom it may devour, is vanquished. “In the morning I will stand near thee, and contemplate.” Now what do we think, brethren, to be our duty for the present time, but what is again said in the psalm, “Every night through will I wash mycouch; I will moisten my bed with my tears”?4 Every night through, saith he, I will weep; I will burn with desire for the light. The Lord sees my desire: for another psalm says to Him, “All my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee.”5 Dost thou desire gold? Thou canst be seen; for, while seeking gold, thou wilt be manifest to men. Dost thou desire corn? Thou askest one that has it; whom also thou informest, while seeking to get at that which thou desirest. Dost thou desire God? Who sees, but God? From whom, then, dost thou seek God, as thou seekest bread, water, gold, silver, corn? From whom dost thou seek God, except from God? He is sought from Himself who has promised Himself. Let the soul extend her desire, and with more capacious bosom seek to comprehend that which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man.”6 Desire it we can, long for it we can, pant after it we can; but worthily conceive it, worthily unfold it in words, we cannot.
8. Wherefore, my brethren, since the Lord says briefly, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;” in these words He has commanded one thing, promised another; let us do what He has commanded, that we may not with shameless face demand what He has promised; that He may not say to us in His judgment, Hast thou done what I commanded, that thou shouldest expect what I promised? What hast Thou commanded, then, O Lord our God? He says to thee, That thou shouldest follow me. Thou hast sought counsel of life? Of what life, but of that of which it is said, “With Thee is the fountain of life”? A certain man heard it said to him,” Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” He followed not, but went away sorrowful; he sought the “good Master,” went to Him as a teacher, and despised His teaching; he went away sorrowful, tied and bound by his lusts; he went away sorrowful, having a great load of avarice on his shoulders. He toiled and fretted; and yet he thought that He, who was willing to rid him of his load, was not to be followed but forsaken. But after the Lord has, by the gospel, cried aloud, “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart,”7 how many, on hearing the gospel, have done what that rich man, on hearing from His own mouth, did not do? Therefore, let us do it now, let us follow the Lord; let us loose the fetters by which we are hindered from following Him. And who is sufficient to loose such bonds, unless He help, to whom it is said, “Thou hast burst asunder my bonds”?8 Of whom another psalm says, “The Lord looseth them that are in bonds; the Lord raiseth up them that are crushed and oppressed.”9
9. And what do they follow, who have been loosed and raised up, but the Light from which they hear, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness”? For the Lord gives light to the blind. Therefore we, brethren, having the eye-salve of faith, are now enlightened. For His spittle did before mingle with the earth, by which the eyes of him who was born blind were anointed. We, too, have been born blind of Adam, and have need of Him to enlighten us. He mixed spittle with clay: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” He mixed spittle with earth; hence it was predicted, “Truth has sprung from the earth;”10 and He said Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” When we shall see face to face, we shall have the full fruition of the truth; for this also is promised to us. For who would dare hope for what God had not deigned either to promise or to give? We shall see face to face. The apostle says, “Now I know in part, now through a glass darkly; but then, face to face.”11 And the Apostle Jn says in his epistle, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it has not yet appeared what we shall be: we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is.”12 This is a great promise; if thou lovest, follow. I do love, sayest thou, but by what way am I to follow? If the Lord thy God had said to thee, “I am the truth and the life,” in desiring truth and longing for life, thou mightest truly ask the way by which thou mightest come to these, and mightest say to thyself: A great thing is the truth, a great thing is the life, were there only the means whereby my soul might come thereto! Dost thou ask by what way? Hear Him say at the first, “I am the way.” Before He said whither, He premised by what way: “I am,” saith He, “the way.” The way whither? “And the truth and the life.” First, He told thee the way to come; then, whither to come. I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. Remaining with the Father, the truth and life; putting on flesh, He became the way. It is not said to thee, Labor in finding a way to come to the truth and life; this is not said to thee. Sluggard, arise: the way itself has come to thee, and roused thee from thy sleep; if, however, it has roused thee, up and walk. Perhapsthou art trying to walk, and art not able, because thy feet ache. How come thy feet to ache? Have they been running over rough places at the bidding of avarice? But the word of God has healed even the lame. Behold, thou sayest, I have my feet sound, but the way itself I see not. He has also enlightened the blind.
10. All this by faith, so long as we are absent from the Lord, dwelling in the body; but when we shall have traversed the way, and have reached the home itself, what shall be more joyful than we? What shall be more blessed than we? Because nothing more at peace than we; for there will be no rebelling against a man. But now, brethren, it is difficult for us to be without strife. We have indeed been called to concord, we are commanded to have peace among ourselves; to this we must give our endeavor, and strain with all our might, that we may come at last to the most perfect peace; but at present we are at strife, very often with those whose good we are seeking. There is one who goes astray, thou wishest to lead him to the way; he resists, thou strivest with him: the pagan resists thee, thou disputest against the errors of idols and devils; a heretic resists, thou disputest against other doctrines of devils; a bad catholic is not willing to live aright, thou rebukest even thy brother within; he dwells with thee in the house, and seeks the paths of ruin; thou art inflamed with eager passion to put him right, that thou mayest render to the Lord a good account of both concerning him. How many necessities of strife there are on every side! Very often one is overcome with weariness, and says to himself, “What have I to do with bearing with gainsayers, bearing with those who render evil for good? I wish to benefit them, they are willing to perish; I wear out my life in strife; I have no peace; besides, I make enemies of those whom I ought to have as friends, if they regarded the good will of him that seeks their good: what business is it of mine to endure this? Let me return to myself, I will be kept to myself, I will call upon my God. Do return to thyself, thou findest strife there. If thou hast begun to follow God, thou findest strife there. What strife, sayest thou, do I find? “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”13 Behold thou art thyself, thou art alone, thou art with thyself; behold, thou art bearing with no other person, but yet thou seest another law in thy members warring against the law of thy mind, and taking thee captive in the law of sin, which is in thy members. Cry aloud, then, and cry to God, that He may give thee peace from the inner strife: “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”14 Because, “He that followethme,” saith He, “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” All strife ended, immortality shall follow; for “the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed.” And what peace will this be? “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”15 To which that we may come (for it will then be in reality), let us now follow in hope Him who said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
1 (Ps 3,9).
2 (2Co 5,6-7.
3 (Ps 5,4,
4 (Ps 6,6,
5 (Ps 38,10,
6 (1Co 2,9).
7 (Mt 11,29).
8 (Ps 116,16,
9 (Ps 46,8,
10 (Ps 85,11).
11 (1Co 13,12,
12 (1Jn 3,2,
13 (Ga 5,17).
14 (Rm 7,23-25.
15 (1Co 15,26,
1. You who were present yesterday, bear in mind that we were a long while discoursing of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, where He says, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;” and if we wished to go on discoursing of that light, we might Still speak a long time; for it would be impossible for us to expound the matter in brief. Therefore, my brethren, let us follow Christ, the light of the world, that we may not be walking in darkness. We must fear the darkness,-not the darkness of the eyes, but that of the moral character; and even if it be the darkness of the eyes, it is not of the outer, but of the inner eyes, of those by which we discern, not between white and black, but between right and wrong.
2. When our Lord Jesus Christ had spoken these things, the Jews answered, “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.” Before our Lord Jesus Christ came, He lighted and sent many prophetic lamps before Him. Of these was also Jn Baptist, to whom the great Light itself, which is the Lord Christ, gave a testimony such as was given to no other man; for He said, “Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than Jn the Baptist.”1 Yet this man, than whom none was greater among those born of women, said of the Lord Jesus Christ, “I indeed baptize you in water; but He that is coming is mightier than I, whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.”2 See how the lamps submits itself to the Day. The Lord Himself bears witness that the same John was indeed a lamp: “He was,” saith He, “a burning and a shining lamp; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.”3 But when the Jews said to the Lord, “Tell us by what authority thou doest these things,” He, knowing that they regarded Jn the Baptist as a great one, and that the same whom they regarded as a great one had borne witness to them concerning the Lord, answered them, “I also will ask you one thing; tell me, the baptism of John, whence is it from heaven, or from men?” Thrown into confusion, they considered among themselves that, if they said, “From men,” they might be stoned by the people, who believed Jn to be a prophet; if they said, “From heaven,” He might answer them, “He whom ye confess to have been a prophet from heaven bore testimony to me, and ye have heard from him by what authority I do these things.” They saw, then, that whichever of these two answers they made, they would fall into the snare, and they said, “We do not know.” And the Lord answered them, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.”4 “I tell you not what I know, because you will not confess what you know.” Most justly, certainly, were they repulsed, and they departed in confusion; and that was fulfilled which God the Father says by the prophet in the psalm, “I have prepared a lamp for my Christ” (the lamp was John); “His enemies I will clothe with confusion.”5
3. The Lord Jesus Christ, then, had the witness of prophets sent before Him, of the heralds that preceded the judge: He had witness from John; but He was Himself the greater witness which He bore to Himself. But those men with their feeble eyes sought lamps, because they were not able to bear the day; for that same Apostle John, whose Gospel we have in our hands, says in the beginning of his Gospel, concerning Jn the Baptist: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent to bear witness of the light. That was the true light, that lighteth every man coming into the world.” If “every man,” therefore also lighteth John. Whence also the same Jn says, “We all have received out of His fullness.” Wherefore discern ye these things, that your minds may profit in the faith of Christ, that ye be not always babes seeking the breasts and shrinking from solid food. You ought to be nourished and to be weaned by our holy mother the Church of Christ, and to come to more solid food by the mind, not by the belly. This discern ye then, that the light which enlighteneth is one thing, another that which is enlightened. For also our eyes are called lights;6 and every man thus swears, touching his eyes, by these lights of his: “So may my lights live.” This is a customary oath. Let these lights, if lights they are, be opened, and shine for thee in thy closed chamber, when the light is not there; they certainly cannot. Therefore, as these which we have in our face, and call lights,when they are both healthy and open, need the help of light from without,-which being removed or not brought in, though they are sound and are open, yet they do not see,-so our mind, which is the eye of the soul, unless it be irradiated by the light of truth, and wondrously shone upon by Him who enlightens and is not enlightened, will not be able to come to wisdom nor to righteousness. For to live righteously is for us the way itself. But how can he on whom the light does not shine but stumble in the way? And hence, in such a way, we have need of seeing, in such a way it is a great thing to see. Now Tobias had the eyes in his face closed, and the son gave his hand to the father; and yet the father, by his instruction, pointed out the way to the son.7
4. The Jews then answered, “Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true.” Let us see what they hear; let us also hear, yet not as they did: they despising, we believing; they wishing to slay Christ, we desiring to live through Christ. Let this difference distinguish our ears and minds from theirs, and let us hear what the Lord answers to the Jews. “Jesus answered and said to them, Though I bear witness of myself, my witness is true; because I know whence I came and whither I go.” The light shows both other things and also itself. Thou lightest a lamp, for instance, to look for thy coat, and the burning lamp affords thee light to find thy coat; dost thou light the lamp to see itself when it burns? A burning lamp is indeed capable at the same time of exposing to view other things which the darkness covered, and also of showing itself to thine eyes. So also the Lord Christ distinguished between His faithful ones and His Jewish enemies, as between light and darkness: as between those whom He illuminated with the ray of faith, and those on whose closed eyes He shed His light. So, too, the sun shines on the face of the sighted and of the blind; both alike standing and facing the sun are shone upon in the flesh, but both are not enlightened in the eyesight. The one sees, the other sees not: the sun is present to both, but one is absent from the present sun. So likewise the Wisdom of God, the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is everywhere present, because the truth is everywhere, wisdom is everywhere. One man in the east understands justice, another man in the west understands justice; is justice which the one understands a different thing from that which the other understands? In body they are far apart, and yet they have the eyes of their minds on one object. The justice which I, placed here, see, if justice it is, is the same which the just man, separated from me in the flesh by ever so many days’ journey, also Sees, and is united to me in the light of that justice. Therefore the light bears witness to itself; it opens the sound eyes and is its own witness, that it may be known as the light. But how about the unbelievers? Is it not present to them? It is present also to them, but they have not eyes of the heart with which to see it. Hear the sentence fetched from the Gospel itself concerning them: “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.”8 Hence the Lord saith, and saith truly, “Though I bear witness of myself, my witness is true; because I know whence I came and whither I go.” He meant us to understand the Father here: the Son gave glory to the Father. Himself the equal glorifies Him by whom He was sent. How ought man to glorify Him by whom he was created!
5. “I know whence I came and whither I go.” He who speaks to you in person has what He has not left, and yet He came; for by coming He departed not thence, nor has He forsaken us by returning thither. Why marvel ye? It is God: this cannot be done by man; it cannot be done even by the sun. When it goes to the west it leaves the east, and until it returns to the east, when about to rise, it is not in the east; but our Lord Jesus Christ both comes and is there, both returns and is here. Hear the evangelist himself speaking in another place, and, if thou canst, understand it; if not, believe it: “God,” saith he, “no man hath ever seen, but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” He said not was in the bosom of the Father, as if by coming He had quitted the Father’s bosom. Here He was speaking, and yet He declared that He was there; and when about to depart hence, what said He? “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”9
6. The witness of the light then is true, whether it be manifesting itself or other things; for without light thou canst not see light, and without light thou canst not see any other thing whatever that is not light. If light is capable of showing other things which are not lights, is it not capable of showing itself? Does not that discover itself, without which other things cannot be made manifest? A prophet spoke a truth; but whence had he it, unless he drew it from the fountain of truth? Jn spoke a truth; but whence he spoke it, ask himself: “We all,” saith he “have received of His fullness.” Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ is worthy to bear witness to Himself. But in any case, my brethren, let us who are in the night of this world hear also prophecy with earnest attention for now our Lord willed to come in humility to our weakness and the deep night-darkness of our hearts: He came as a man to be despised and to be honored, He came to be denied and to be confessed; to be despised and to be denied by the Jews, to be honored and confessed by us: to be judged and to judge; to be judged unjustly, to judge righteously. Such then He came that He behoved to have a lamp to bear witness to Him. For what need was there that Jn should, as a lamp, bear witness to the day, if the day itself could be looked upon by our weakness? But we could not look upon it: He became weak for the weak; by infirmity He healed infirmity; by mortal flesh He took away the death of the flesh; of His own body He made a salve for our eyes. Since, therefore, the Lord is come, and since we are still in the night of the world, it behoves us to hear also prophecies.
7. For it is from prophecy that we convince gainsaying pagans. Who is Christ says the pagan. To whom we reply, He whom the prophets foretold. What prophets asks he. We quote Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and other holy prophets: we tell him that they came long before Christ, by what length of time they preceded His coming. We make this reply then: Prophets came before Him, and they foretold His coming. One of them answers: What prophets? We quote for him those which are daily read to us. And, said he, Who are these prophets? We answer: Those who also foretold the things which we see come to pass. And he urges: You have forged these for yourselves, you have seen them come to pass, and have written them in what books you pleased, as if their coming had been predicted. Here in opposition to pagan enemies the witness of other enemies offers itself. We produce books written by the Jews, and reply: Doubtless both you and they are enemies of our faith. Hence are they scattered among the nations, that we may convince one class of enemies by another. Let the book of Isaiah be produced by the Jews, and let us see if it is not there we read, “He was led as a sheep to be slaughtered, and as a lamb before his shearer was dumb, so He opened not His mouth. In humility His judgment was taken away; by His bruises we are healed: all we as sheep went astray, and He was delivered up for our sins.”10 Behold one lamp. Let another be produced, let the psalm be opened, and thence, too, let the foretold suffering of Christ be quoted: “They pierced my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones: but they considered me and gazed upon me, they parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast the lot. My praise is with Thee; in the great assembly will I confess to Thee. All the ends of the earth shall be reminded, and be converted to the Lord: all countries of the nations shall worship in His sight; for the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He shall have dominion over the nations.”11 Let one enemy blush, for it is another enemy that gives me the book. But lo, out of the book produced by the one enemy, I have vanquished the other: nor let that same who produced me the book be left; let him produce that by which himself also may be vanquished. I read another prophet, and I find the Lord speaking to the Jews: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, nor will I accept sacrifice at your hands: for from the rising of the sun even to his going down, a pure sacrifice is offered to my name.”12 Thou dost not come, O Jew, to a pure sacrifice; I prove thee impure.
8. Behold, even lamps bear witness to the day, because of our weakness, for we cannot bear and look at the brightness of the day. In comparison, indeed, with unbelievers, we Christians are even now light; as the apostle says, “For ye were once darkness, but now light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”13 and he says elsewhere, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast away the works of darkness, and put on us the armor of light; let us walkhon estly as in the day.”14 Yet that even the day in which we now are is still night, in comparison with the light of that to which we are to come, listen to the Apostle Peter: he says that a voice came to the Lord Christ from the excellent glory, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This voice,” said he, “which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount.” But because we were not there, and have not then heard this voice from heaven, the same Peter says to us, “And we have a more sure word of prophecy.” You have not heard the voice come from heaven, but you have a more sure word of prophecy. For the Lord Jesus Christ, foreseeing that there would be certain wicked men who would calumniate His miracles, by attributing them to magical arts, sent prophets before Him. For, supposing He was a magician, and by magical arts caused that He should be worshipped after His death, was He then a magician before He was born? Hear the prophets, O man dead, and breeding the worms of calumny, hear the prophets: I read, hear them who came before the Lord. “We have,” saith the Apostle Peter, “a more sure word of prophecy, to which ye do well to give heed, as to a lamp in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.”15
9. When, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ shall come, and, as the Apostle Paul also says, will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the thoughts of the heart, that every man may have praise from God;16 then, in presence of such a day, lamps will not be needed: no prophet shall then be read to us, no book of an apostle shall be opened; we shall not require the witness of John, we shall not need the Gospel itself. Accordingly all Scriptures shall be taken out of the way,-which, in the night of this world, were as lamps kindled for us that we might not remain in darkness,-when all these are taken away, that they may not shine as if we needed them, and the men of God, by whom these were ministered to us, shall themselves, together with us, behold that true and clear light. Well, what shall we see after these aids have been removed? Wherewith shall our mind be fed? Wherewith shall our gaze be delighted? Whence shall arise that joy which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath gone up into the heart of man? What shall we see? I beseech you, love with me, by believing run with me: let us long for our home above, let us pant for our home above, let us feel that we are strangers here. What shall we see then? Let the Gospel now tell us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Thou shalt come to the fountain from which a little dew has already besprinkled thee: thou shalt see that very light, from which a ray was sent aslant and through many windings into thy dark heart, in its purity, for the seeing and bearing of which thou art being purified. Jn himself says, and this I cited yesterday: “Beloved, we are the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be: we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him even as He is.”17 I feel that your affections are being lifted up with me to the things that are above: but the body, which is corrupt, weighs down the soul; and, the earthly habitation depresses the mind while meditating many things.18 I am about to lay aside this book, and you too are going to depart, every man to his own house. It has been good for us to have been in the common light, good to have been glad therein, good to have rejoiced therein; but when we part from one another, let us not depart from Him).
1 (Mt 11,11,
2 (Jn 1,26-27.
3 (Jn 5,35,
4 (Mt 21,23-27.
5 (Ps 132,17-18).
7 (Tb 2,11,
8 (Jn 1,5).
9 (Mt 28,20,
10 (Is 53,5-8.
11 (Ps 22,17-29).
12 (Ml 1,10-11.
13 (Ep 5,8,
14 (Rm 13,12-13.
15 (2P 1,17-19.
16 (1Co 4,5,
17 (1Jn 3,2,
18 (Sg 9,15,
Augustin on John 33