Augustin on 1John 700
700 1Jn 4,4-12.
“Now are ye of God, little children, and have overcome him: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in this world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. From this know we the spirit of truth, and [the spirit] of error. Dearly, beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God in us, that God sent His only-begotten Son into this world, that we may live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the Atoner1 for our sins. Dearly beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time.”
701 1. So is this world to all the faithful seeking their own country, as was the desert to the people Israel. They wandered indeed as yet, and were seeking their own country: but with God for their guide they could not wander astray. Their way was God’s bidding.2 For where they went about during forty years, the journey itself is madeup of a very few stations, and is known to all. They were retarded because they were in training, not because they were forsaken. That therefore which God promiseth us is ineffable sweetness and a good,3 as the Scripture saith, and as ye have often heard by us rehearsed, which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man.”4 But by temporal labors we are exercised, and by temptations of this present life are trained. Howbeit, if ye would not die of thirst in this wilderness, drink charity. It is the fountain which God has been pleased to place here that we faint not in the way: and we shall more abundantly drink thereof, when we are come to our own land. The Gospel has just been read; now to speak of the very words with which the lesson ended, what other thing heard ye but concerning charity? For we have made an agreement with our God in prayer, that if we would that He should forgive us our sins, we also should forgive the sins which may have been committed against us.5 Now that which forgiveth is none other than charity. Take away charity from the heart; hatred possesseth it, it knows not how to forgive. Let charity be there, and she fearlessly forgiveth, not being straitened. And this whole epistle which wehave undertaken to expound to you, see whether it commendeth aught else than this one thing, charity. Nor need we fear lest by much speaking thereof it come to be hateful. For what is there to love, if charity come to be hateful? It is by charity that other things come to be rightly loved; then how must itself be loved! Let not that then which ought never to depart from the heart, depart from the tongue.
2 Jussio Dei: so the Mss. but the printed copies, visio Dei). Ben. (Bodl. 455, and Laud. 116, “visio;” Bodl. 813, so with “jussio” over the line; the rest “jussio.”)
3 Is 64,4
4 1Co 2,9
5 Mt 6,12).
702 2. “Now,” saith he, “are ye of God little children, and have overcome him:”6 whom but Antichrist? For above he had said, “Whosoever unmaketh7 Jesus Christ and denieth that He is come in the flesh is not of God.” Now we expounded, if ye remember, that all those who violate charity deny JesusChrist to have come in the flesh. For Jesus had no need to come but because of charity: as indeed the charity we are commending is that which the Lord Himself commendethin the Gospel, “Greater love than this can no man have, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”8 How was it possible for the Son of God to lay down His life for us without putting on flesh in which He might die? Whosoever therefore violates charity, let him say what he will with his tongue, his life denies that Christ is come in the flesh; and this is an antichrist, wherever he may be, whithersoever he have come in. But what saith the apostle to them who are citizens of that country for which we sigh? “Ye have overcome him.” And whereby have they overcome? “Because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in this world.” Lest they should attribute the victory to their own strength, and by arrogance of pride should be overcome, (for whomsoever the devil makes proud, he overcomes,) wishing them to keep humility, what saith he? “Ye have overcome him.” Every man now, at hearing this saying, “Ye have overcome,” lifts up the head, lifts up the neck, wishes himself to be praised. Do not extol thyself; see who it is that in thee hath overcome. Why hast thou overcome? “Because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Be humble, bear thy Lord; be thou the beast for Him to sit on. Good is it for thee that He should rule, and He guide. For if thou have not Him to sit on thee, thou mayest lift up the neck, mayest strike out the heels: but woe to thee without a ruler, for this liberty sendeth thee among the wild beasts to be devoured!
6 1Jn 4,4
8 Jn 15,13
703 3. “These are of the world.”9 Who? The antichrists. Ye have already heard who they be. And if ye be not such, ye know them, but whosoever is such, knows not. “These are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” Who are they that “speak of the world”? Mc who are against charity. Behold, ye have heard the Lord saying, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your trespasses. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”10 It is the sentence of Truth: or if it be not Truth that speaks, gainsay it. If thou art a Christian and believest Christ, He hath said, “I am the truth.” This sentence is true, is firm. Now hear men that “speak of the world.” “And wilt thou not avenge thyself? And wilt thou let him say that he has done this to thee? Nay: let him feel that he has to do with a man.” Every day are such things said, They that say such things, “of the world speak they, and the world heareth them.” None say such things but those that love the world, and by none are such things heard but by those who love the world. And ye have heard that to love the world and neglect charity is to deny that Jesus came in the flesh. Or say if the Lord Himself in the flesh did that? if, being buffeted, He willed to be avenged? if, hanging on the cross, He did not say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?11 But if He threatened not, who had power; why dost thou threaten, why art thou inflated with anger, who art under power of another? He died because it was His will to die, yet He threatened not; thou knowest not when thou shall die, and dost thou threaten?
9 1Jn 4,5
10 Mt 6,14-15
11 Lc 23,34
704 4. “We are of God.”12 Let us see why; see whether it be for any other thing thancharity. “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and of error:” namely by this, that he that heareth us hath the spirit of truth; he that heareth not us, hath the spirit of error. Let us see what he adviseth, and let us choose rather to hear him advising in the spirit of truth, and not antichrists, not lovers of the world, not the world. If we are born of God, “beloved,”13 he goes on—see above from what: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and of error:” aye, now, he makes us eagerly attentive: to be told that he who knows God, hears; but he who knows not, hears not; and that this is the discerning between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: well then, let us see what he is about to advise; in what we must hear him—“Beloved, let us love one another.”14 Why? because a man adviseth? “Because love is of God.” Much hath he commended love, in that he hath said, “Is of God:” but he is going to say more; let us eagerly hear. At present he hath said, “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God.”15 Why? “For God is love” [Love is God].16 What more could be said, brethren? If nothing were said in praise of love throughout the pages of this epistle, if nothing whatever throughout the other pages of the Scriptures, and this one only thing were all we were told by the voice of the Spirit of God, “For Love is God;” nothing more ought we to require.
12 1Jn 4,6
13 1Jn 4,7).
14 1Jn 4,7).
15 1Jn 4,7-8
16 Deus dilectio est: Augustin here expounds it, “Love is God;” it is “of God” and “is God,” (as “the Word was with God and was God:”) this is clear from sec. 6 and Hom viii. 14, “For He has not hesitated to say, Deus charitas est, Charity is God.” In the theological exposition de Trin. xv. 27, he takes it in the usual sense, “God is Love” (as “God is Spirit”). In the Greek the proposition is not convertible, ajlavph being marked as the predicate by the absence of the article while qeoj" has it: oJ qeo;" ajgavph ejstin.
705 5. Now see that to act against love is to act against God. Let no man say, “I sin against man when I do not love my brother, (mark it!) and sin against man is a thing to be taken easily; only let me not sin against God. How sinnest thou not against God, when thou sinnest against love? “Love is God.” Do “we” say this? If we said, “Love is Gods” Imply some one of you might be offended and say, What hath he said? What meant he to say, that “Love is God”? God “gave” love, as a gift God bestowed love. “Love is of God: Love Is God.” Look, here have ye, brethren, the Scriptures of God: this epistle is canonical; throughout all nations it is recited, it is held by the authority of the whole earth, it hath edified the whole earth. Thou art here told by the Spirit of God, “Love is God.” Now if thou dare, go against God, and refuse to love thy brother!
706 6. In what sense then was it said a while ago, “Love is of God;” and now, “Love Is God?” For God is Father and Son and Holy Ghost: the Son, God of God, the Holy Ghost, God of God; and these three, one God, not three Gods. If the Son be God, and the Holy Ghost God, and that person loveth in whom dwelleth the Holy Ghost: therefore “Love is God;” but “Is God,” because “Of God.” For thou hast both in the epistle; both, “Love is of God,” and, “Love is God.” Of the Father alone the Scripture hath it not to say, that He is “of God:” but when thou hearest that expression, “Of God,” either the Son is meant, or the Holy Ghost. Because while the apostle saith, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto. us:”17 let us understand that He who subsisteth in love is the Holy Ghost. For it is even this Holy Spirit, whom the bad cannot receive, even He is that Fountain of which the Scripture saith, “Let the fountain of thy water be thine own, and let no stranger partake with thee.”18 For all who love not God, are strangers, are antichrists. And though they come to the churches, they cannot be numbered among the children of God; not to them belongeth that Fountain of life. To have baptism is possible even for a bad man; to have prophecy is possible even for a bad man. We find that king Saul had prophecy: he was persecuting holy David, yet was he filled with the spirit of prophecy, and began to prophesy.19 To receive the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord is possible even for a bad man: for of such it is said, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.”20 To have the name of Christ is possible even for a bad man; i.e. even a bad man can be called a Christian: as they of whom it is said, “They polluted the name of their God.”21 I say, to have all these sacraments is possible even for a bad man; but to have charity, and to be a bad man, is not possible. This then is the peculiar gift, this the “Fountain” that is singly one’s “own.” To drink of this the Spirit of God exhorteth you, to drink of Himself the Spirit of God exhorteth you.
17 Rm 5,5
18 Pr 5,16-17
19 (1S 19
20 1Co 11,29
21 Ez 36,20
707 7. “In this was manifested the love of God in us.”22 Behold, in order that we may love God, we have exhortation. Could we love Him, unless He first loved us? If we were slow to love, let us not be slow to love in return. He first loved us; not even so do we love. He loved the unrighteous, but He did away the unrighteousness: He loved the unrighteous, but not unto unrighteousness did He gather them together: He loved the sick, but He visited them to make them whole. “Love,” then, “is God.” “In this was manifested the love of God in us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we may live through Him.” As the Lord Himself saith: “Greater love than this can no man have, that a man lay down his life for his friends:”23 and there was proved the love of Christ towards us, in that He died for us: how is the love of the Father towards us proved? In that He “sent His only Son” to die for us: so also the apostle Paul saith: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not with Him also freely given us all things?”24 Behold the Father delivered up Christ; Judas delivered Him up; does it not seem as if the thing done were of the same sort? Judas is “traditor,” one that delivered up, [or, a traitor]: is God the Father that? God forbid! sayest thou. I do not say it, but the apostle saith, “He that spared not His own Son, but “tradidit Eum” delivered Him up for us all.” Both the Father delivered Him up, and He delivered up Himself. The same apostle saith: “Who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”25 If the Father delivered up the Son; and the Son delivered up Himself, what has Judas done? There was a “traditio” (delivering up) by the Father; there was a “traditio” by the Son; there was a “traditio” by Judas: the thing done is the same,but what is it that distinguishes the Father delivering up the Son, the Son delivering up Himself, and Judas the disciple delivering up his Master? This: that the Father and the Son did it in love, but Judas did this26 in treacherous betrayal. Ye see that not what the man does is the thing to be considered; but with what mind and will he does it. We find God the Father in the same deed in which we find Judas; the Father we bless, Judas we detest. Why do we bless the Father, and detest Judas? We bless charity, detest iniquity. How great a good was conferred upon mankind by the delivering up of Christ! Had Judas this in his thoughts, that therefore he delivered Him up? God had in His thoughts our salvation by which we were redeemed; Judas had in his thoughts the price for which he sold the Lord. The Son Himself had in His thoughts the price He gave for us, Judas in his the price he received to sell Him. The diverse intention therefore makes the thingsdone diverse. Though the thing be one, yet if we measure it by the diverse intentions, we find the one a thing to be loved, the other to be condemned; the one we find a thing to be glorified, the other to be detested. Such is the force of charity. See that it alone discriminates, it alone distinguishes the doings of men.
22 1Jn 4,9
23 Jn 15,13).
24 Rm 8,32
25 Ga 2,20
26 In proditione.
708 8. This we have said in the case where the things done are similar. In the case where they are diverse, we find a man by charity made fierce;27 and by iniquity made winningly gentle. A father beats a boy, and a boy-stealer caresses. If thou name the two things, blows and caresses, who would notchoose the caresses, and decline the blows?If thou mark the persons, it is charity that beats, iniquity that caresses. See what we are insisting upon; that the deeds of men are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet proceed not from the root of charity. For thorns also have flowers: some actions truly seem rough, seem savage; howbeit they are done for discipline at the bidding of charity. Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace,through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
709 9. “In this is love—in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God senthis only-begotten Son into this world, that we may live through Him.—In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us:”28 we did not love Him first: for to this end loved He us, that we may love Him: “And sent His Son to be the Atoner for our sins: “litatorem,” i.e. one that sacrifices. He sacrificed for our sins. Where did He find the sacrifice? Where did He find the victim which he would offer pure? Other He found none; His own self He offered. “Beloved, if God so loved us we ought also to love one another.29 Peter,” saith He, “lovest thou me?” And he said, “I love.” “Feed my sheep.”
28 1Jn 4,9-10.
29 1Jn 4,11
710 10. “No man hath seen God at any time:”30 He is a thing invisible; not with the eye but with the heart must He be sought. But just as if we wished to see the sun, we should purge the eye of the body; wishing to see God, let us purge the eye by which God can be seen. Where is this eye? Hear the Gospel: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”31 But let no man imagine God to himself according to the lust of his eyes. For so he makes unto himself either a huge form, or a certain incalculable magnitude which, like the light which he sees with the bodily eyes, he makes extend through all directions; field after field of space he gives it all the bigness he can; or, he represents to himself like as it were an old man of venerable form. None of these things do thou imagine. There is something thou mayest imagine, if thou wouldest see God; “God is love.” What sort of face hath love? what form hath it? what stature? what feet? what hands hath it? no man can say. And yet it hath feet, for these carry men to church: it hath hands; for these reach forth to the poor: it hath eyes; for thereby we consider the needy: “Blessed is the man,” it is said, “who considereth the needy and the poor.”32 Ithath ears, of which the Lord saith, “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.”33 Theseare not members distinct by place, but with the understanding he that hath charity sees the whole at once. Inhabit, and thou shalt be inhabited; dwell, and thou shalt be dwelt in. For how say you, my brethren? who loves what he does not see? Now why, when charity is praised, do ye lift up your hands, make acclaim, praise? What have I shown you? What I produced, was it a gleam of colors? What I propounded, was it gold and silver? Have I dug out jewels from hid treasures? What of this sort have I shown to your eyes? Is my face changed while I speak? I am in the flesh; I am in the same form in which I came forth to you; ye are in the same form in which ye came hither charity is praised, and ye shout applause. Certainly ye see nothing. But as it pleases you when ye praise, so let it please you that ye may keep it in your heart. For mark well what I say brethren; I exhort you all, as God enables me, unto a great treasure. If there were shown you a beautiful little vase, embossed,34 inlaid with gold, curiously wrought, and it charmed your eyes, and drew towards it the eager desire of your heart, and you were pleased with the hand of the artificer, and the weight of the silver, and the splendor of the metal; would not each one of you say, “O, if I had that vase!” And to no purpose ye would say it, for it would not rest with you to have it. Or if one should wish to have it, he might think of stealing it from another’s house. Charity is praised to you; if it please you, have it, possess it: no need that ye should rob any man, no need that ye should think of buying it; it is to be had freely, without cost. Take it, clasp it; there is nothing sweeter. If such it be when it is but spoken of, what must it be when one has it?
30 1Jn 4,12
31 Mt 5,8).
32 Ps 41,1
33 Lc 8,8
711 11. If any of you perchance wish to keep charity, brethren, above all things do not imagine it to be an abject and sluggish thing; nor that charity is to be preserved by a sort of gentleness, nay not gentleness, but tameness and listlessness.35 Not so is it preserved. Do not imagine that thou then lovest thy servant when thou dost not beat him, or that thou then lovest thy son when thou givest him not discipline, or that thou then lovest thy neighbor when thou dost not rebuke him: this is not charity, but mere feebleness. Let charity be fervent to correct, to amend: but if there be good manners, let them delight thee; if bad, let them be amended, let them be corrected. Love not in the man his error, but the man: for the man God made, the error the man himself made. Love that which God made, love not that which the man himself made. When thou lovest that, thou takest away this: whenthou esteemest that, thou amendest this. But even if thou be severe36 at any time, let it be because of love, for correction. For thiscause was charity betokenedby the Dove which descended upon the Lord.37 That likeness of a dove, the likeness in which came the Holy Ghost, by whom charity should be shed forth into us: wherefore was this? The dove hath no gall: yet with beak and wings she fights for her young; hers is a fierceness without bitterness. And so does also a father; when he chastises his son, for discipline he chastises him. As I said, the kidnapper, in order that he may sell, inveigles the child with bitter endearments; a father, that he may correct, does without gall chastise. Such be ye to all men. See here, brethren, a great lesson, a great rule: each one of you has children, or wishes to have; or if he has altogether determined to have no children after the flesh, at least spiritually he desires to have children:—what father does not correct his son? what son does not his father discipline? And yet he seems to be fierce38 with him. It is the fierceness of love, the fierceness of charity: a sort of fierceness without gall after the manner of the dove, not of the raven. Whence it came into my mind, my brethren, to tell you, that those violaters of charity are they that have made the schism: as they hate charity itself, so they hate also the dove. But the dove convicts them: it comes forth from heaven, the heavens open, and it abideth on the head of the Lord. Wherefore this? That Jn may hear, “This is He that baptizeth.”39 Away, ye robbers; away, ye invaders of the possession of Christ! On your own possessions, where ye will needs be lords, ye have dared to fix the titles of the great Owner. He recognizes His own titles; He vindicates to Himself His own possession. He does not cancel the titles, but enters in and takes possession. So in one that comes to the Catholic Church, his baptism is not cancelled, that the title of the commander40 be not cancelled: but what is done in the Catholic Church? The title is acknowledged; the Owner enters in under His own titles, where the robber was entering in under titles not his own).
35 Ep. cliii. 17, c. litt.; Petil. ii. 67: Serm. clxxi. 5.
37 Hom. in Ev. 6,p. 82; Mt 3,16.
39 Jn 1,33
40 [“Captain (ajschvzo") of their salvation.” He 2,10.—J. H. M.]
“If we love one another, God abideth1 in us, and His love will be perfected in us. In this know we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and are witnesses that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour ofthe world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.”
801 1. Love is a sweet word, but sweeter the deed. To be always speaking of it, is not in our power: for we have many things to do, and divers businesses draw us different ways, so that our tongue has not leisure to be always speaking of love: as indeed our tongue could have nothing better to do. But though we may not always be speaking of it, we may always keep it. Just as it is with the Alleluia which we sing at this present time,2 are we always doing this? Not one hour, I do not say for the whole space of it, do we sing Alleluia, but barely during a few moments of one hour, and then give ourselves to something else. Now Alleluia, as ye already know, means, Praise ye the Lord. He that praises God with his tongue, cannot be always doing this: he that by his life and conduct praises God, can be doing it always. Works of mercy, affections of charity, sanctity of piety, incorruptness of chastity, modesty of sobriety, these things are always to be practiced: whether we are in public, or at home; whether before men, or in our chamber; whether speaking, or holding our peace; whether occupied upon something, or free from occupation: these are always to be kept, because all these virtues which I have named are within. But who is sufficient to name them all? There is as it were the army of an emperor seated within in thy mind. For as an emperor by his army does what he will, so the Lord Jesus Christ, once beginning to dwell in our inner man, (i.e. in the mind through faith), uses these virtues as His ministers. And by these virtues which cannot be seen with eyes, and yet when they are named are praised—and they would not be praised except they were loved, not loved except they were seen; and if not loved except seen, they are seen with another eye, that is, with the inward beholding of the heart—by these invisible virtues, the members are visibly putin motion: the feet to walk, but whither whither they are moved by the good will which as a soldier serves the good emperor: the hands to work; but what that which is bidden by charity which is inspired within by the Holy Ghost. The members then are seen when they are put in motion; He that orders them within is not seen: and who He is that orders them within is known almost alone to Him that orders, and to him who within is ordered.
1 In Augustin’s time and later, it was the usage of the Latin Churches (derived, as St. Gregory relates lib. 9,Ep. 12, from the Church of Jerusalem) to sing the “Alleluia” on Easter Sunday, and during the whole Quinquagesima, or seven weeks from Easter to Whit-sunday. But it was not everywhere restricted to that time: Aug. Epist. (ad Januar). 55, 32). Ut Alleluia per solos dies quinquaginta cantetur in Ecclesia, non usquequaque observatur: nam et aliis diebus varie cantatur alibi atque alibi: ipsis autem diebus ubique. Comp). ibid 28). Enarr. in Psa. cvi. sec. 1 where this usage is said to rest upon an ancient tradition: in Psa. cxlviii. sec. 1, and 21,sec. 24, that it is observed throughout the whole world: Serm. ccx. 8; cclii. 9. S. Hieronym). Praef. in Psa. 50,and c. Vigilant. 1 (exortus est subito Vigilantius qui dicat nunquam nisi in Pascha Alleluia cantandum: i.e.,Vig. wished it to be sung only on Easter day).
2 In Augustin’s time and later, it was the usage of the Latin Churches (derived, as St. Gregory relates lib. 9,Ep. 12, from the Church of Jerusalem) to sing the “Alleluia” on Easter Sunday, and during the whole Quinquagesima, or seven weeks from Easter to Whit-sunday. But it was not everywhere restricted to that time: Aug. Epist. (ad Januar). 55, 32). Ut Alleluia per solos dies quinquaginta cantetur in Ecclesia, non usquequaque observatur: nam et aliis diebus varie cantatur alibi atque alibi: ipsis autem diebus ubique. Comp). ibid 28). Enarr. in Psa. cvi. sec. 1 where this usage is said to rest upon an ancient tradition: in Psa. cxlviii. sec. 1, and 21,sec. 24, that it is observed throughout the whole world: Serm. ccx. 8; cclii. 9. S. Hieronym). Praef. in Psa. 50,and c. Vigilant. 1 (exortus est subito Vigilantius qui dicat nunquam nisi in Pascha Alleluia cantandum: i.e.,Vig. wished it to be sung only on Easter day).
802 2. For, brethren, ye heard just now when the Gospel was read, at least if ye had for it the ear not only of the body but also of the heart. What said it? “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them.”3 Did He mean to say this, that whatever good things we do, we should hide them from the eyes of men,4 and fear to be seen? If thou fearest spectators thou wilt not have imitators: thou oughtest therefore to be seen. But thou must not do it to the end thou mayest be seen. Not there should be the end of thy joy, not there the goal of thy rejoicing, that thou shouldest account thyself to have gotten the whole fruit of thy good work, when thou art seen and praised. This is nothing. Despise thyself when thou art praised, let Him be praised in thee who worketh by thee. Therefore do not for thine own praise work the good thou doest: but to the praise of Him from whom thou hast the power to do good. From thyself thou hast the ill doing, from God thou hast the well doing. On the other hand, see perverse men, how preposterous they are. What they do well, they will needs ascribe to themselves; if they do ill, they will needs accuse God. Reverse this distorted and preposterous proceeding, which puts the thing, as one may say, head downwards, which makes that undermost which is uppermost,5 and that upwards which is downwards. Dost thou want to make God undermost and thyself uppermost? Thou goest headlong, not elevatest thyself; for He is always above. What then? thou well, and God ill? nay rather, say this, if thou wouldest speak more truly, I ill, He well; and what I do well from Him is the well-doing: for from myself whatever I do is ill. This confession strengthens the heart, and makes a firm foundation of love. For if we ought to hide our good works lest they be seen of men, what becomes of that sentence of the Lord in the sermon which He delivered on the mount? Where He said this, there He also said a little before, “Let your good works shine before men.”6 And He did not stop there, did not there make an end, but added, “And glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” And what saith the apostle? “And I was unknown by face unto the Churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And in me they glorified God.”7 See how he also, in regard that he became so widely known did not set the good in his own praise, but in the praise of God. And as for him, in his own person, that he was one who laid waste the Church, a persecutor, envious, malignant, it is himself that confesses this, not we that reproach him therewith. Paul loves to have his sins spoken of by us, that He may be glorified who healed such a disease. For it was the hand of the Physician that cut end healed the greatness of the sore. That voice from heaven prostrated the persecutor, and raised up the preacher; killed Saul, and quickened Paul.8 For Saul was the persecutor of a holy man; thence had this man his name, when he persecuted the Christians:9 afterward of Saul he became Paul. What does the name Paulus mean? Little. Therefore when he was Saul, he was proud, lifted up; when he was Paul, he was lowly, little, Thus we say, I will see thee “paulo post,” i.e. after a little while.10 Hear that he was made little: “For I am the least of the apostles;11 and, To me the least of all saints,” he saith in another place. So was he among the apostles as the hem of the garment: but the Church of the Gentiles touched it, as did the woman which had the flux, and was made whole.12
3 Mt 6,1
4 De Serm. Dom. in Monte, 2,1, ff., Serm. cxlix. 10-13; De Civ. Dei, 5,14; Enarr. in Ps 65,sec 2.
5 Quod susum faciens jusum; quod deorsum faciens sursum. Jusum vis facere Deum, et te susum? Infra, 10,8, Jusum me honoras susum me calcas. Several Mss. have sursum deorsum for susum jusum.—Ben. Laud. 116 and 136, and also Bodl. 813, as first written, have susum, jusum.
6 Mt 5,16
7 Ga 1,22-24.
8 Serm. clxviii. 6.
9 (1S 19
10 So Serm. 101,1; clxviii. 7; cclxxix. 5; cccxv. 7; Lib. de Sp. et Litt. 7,sec. 12. But Confess.viii. 4, sec. 9, it is remarked, without reference to the etymology, that the change of name from Saul to Paul was designed to commemorate the conversion of Sergius Paulus, Ac 13,7, 12; Origen Praef. in Rom. “Some have thought that the Apostle took the name of Paulus, the Proconsul, whom at Cypress he had subjected to the faith of Christ: that as kings are wont to assume a title from the nations they have conquered, as Parthicus and Gothicus from Parthians and Goths, so the Apostle took the appellation Pauluss from the Paulus whom he had subjugated. Which we do not think is altogether to be set aside.” St. Jerome Comm. in Ep. and Philem. “As Scipio took the name Africanus as conqueror of Africa, so the Apostle took the name Paulus by way of trophy, &c.”
11 1Co 15,9 Ep 3,8.
12 Mt 9,20-22.
803 3. Then, brethren, this I would say, this I do say, this if I might I would not leave unsaid: Let there be in you now these works, now those, according to the time, according to the hours, according to the days. Are you always to be speaking? always to keep silence? always to be refreshing the body? always to be fasting? always to be giving bread to the needy? always to be clothing the naked? always to be visiting the sick? always to be bringing into agreement them that disagree? always to be burying the dead? No: but now this, now that. These things are taken in hand, and they stop: but that which as emperor commands all the forces within neither hath beginning nor ought to stop. Let charity within have no intermission: let the offices of charity be exhibited according to the time. Let “brotherly love” then, as it is written, let “brotherly love continue.”13
13 He 13,1
804 4. But perchance it will have struck some of you all along, while we have been expounding to you this epistle of blessed John, why it is only “brotherly” love that he so emphatically commends. “He that loveth his brother,” saith he: and, “a commandment is given us that we love one another.”14 Again and again it is of brotherly love that he speaks: but the love of God, i.e. the love with which we ought to love God, he has not so constantly named; howbeit, he has not altogether left it unspoken. But concerning love of an enemy, almost throughout the epistle, he has said nothing. Although he vehemently preaches up and commends charity to us, he does not tell us to love our enemies, but tells us to love our brethren. But just now, when the Gospel was read, we heard, “For if ye love them that love you, what reward shall ye have? Do not even the publicans this? “15 How is it then that Jn the apostle, as the thing of great concern to us in order to a certain perfection, commends brotherly love; whereas the Lord saith it is not enough that we love our brethren, but that we ought to extend that love so that we may reach even to enemies? He that reaches even unto enemies does not overleap the brethren. It must needs, like fire, first seize upon what is nearest, and so extend to what is further off. A brother is nearer to thee than any chance person. Again, that person has more hold upon thee whom thou knowest not, who yet is not against thee, than an enemy who is also against thee. Extend thy love to them that are nearest, yet do not call this an extending: for it is almost loving thyself, to love them that are close to thee Extend it to the unknown, who have done thee no ill. Pass even them: reach on to love thine enemies. This at least the Lord commands. Why has the apostle here said nothing about loving an enemy.
14 1Jn 2,10 1Jn 3,23
805 5. All love,16 whether that which is called carnal, which is wont to be called not “dilectio” but “amor:” (for the word “dilectio” is wont to be used of better objects, and to be understood of better objects:) yet all love, dear brethren, hath in it a wishing well to those who are loved. For we ought not so to love, nor are we able so to love, (whether “diligere” or “amare:” for this latter word the Lord used when He said, “Petra, amas me?” “Peter, lovest thou me?”) we ought not so to love17 men, as we hear gluttons say, I love thrushes. Thou askest why he loves them? That he may kill, that he may consume. He says he loves, and to this end loves he them, that they may cease to be; to this end loves he them, that he may make away with them. And whatever we love in the way of food, to this end love we it, that it may be consumed and we recruited. Are men to be so loved as to be consumed? But there is a certain friendliness of well wishing, by which we desire at some time or other to do good to those whom we love. How if there be no good that we can do? The benevolence, the wishing well, of itself sufficeth him that loves. For we ought not to wish men to be wretched, that we may be enabled to practise works of mercy. Thou givest bread to the hungry: but better it were that none hungered, and thou hadst none to give to. Thou clothest the naked: oh that all were clothed, and this need existed not! Thou buriest the dead: oh that it were come at last, that life where none shall die! Thou reconcilest the quarrelling: oh that it were here at last, that eternal peace of Jerusalem, where none shall disagree! For all these are offices done to necessities. Take away the wretched; there will be an end to works of mercy. The works of mercy will be at an end: shall the ardor of charity be quenched? With a truer touch of love thou lovest the happy man, to whom there is no good office thou canst do; purer will that love be, and far more unalloyed. For if thou have donea kindness to the wretched, perchance thou desirest to lift up thyself over against him, and wishest him to be subject to thee, who hast done the kindness to him. He was in need, thou didst bestow; thou seemest to thyself greater because thou didst bestow, than he upon whom it was bestowed. Wish him thine equal, that ye both may be under the One Lord, on whom nothing can be bestowed.
15 Mt 5,46).
806 6. For in this the proud soul has passed bounds, and, in a manner, become avaricious. For, “The root of all evils is avarice;”18 and again it is said, “The beginning of all sin is pride.”19 And we ask, it may be, how these two sentences agree: “The root of all evils is avarice;” and, “The beginning of all sin is pride.” If pride is the beginning of all sin, then is pride the root of all evils. Now certainly, “the root of all evils is avarice.” We find that in pride there is also avarice, (or grasping;) for man has passed bounds: and what is it to be avaricious to go beyond that which sufficeth. Adam fell by pride: “the beginning of all sin is pride,” saith it: did he fall by grasping? What more grasping, than he whom God could not suffice? In fact, my brethren, we read how man was made after the image and likeness of God: and what said God of him? “And let him have power over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over all cattle which move upon the earth.”20 Said He, Have power over men? “Have power,” saith He: He hath given him natural power: “have power” over what? “over the fishes of the sea, the fowl of the heaven, and allmoving things which move upon the earth.” Why is this power over these things anatural power? Because man hath the power from this; that he was made after the image of God. And in what was he made after God’s image? In the intellect, in the mind, in the inner man; in that he understands truth, distinguishes between right and wrong, knows by whom he was made, is able to understand his Creator, to praise his Creator: he hath this intelligence, who hath prudence. Therefore when many by evil lusts wore out in themselves the image of God, and by perversity of their manners extinguished the very flame, so to say, of intelligence, the Scripture cried aloud to them, “Become not ye as the horse and mule which have no understanding.”21 That is to say, I have set thee above the horse and mule; thee, I made after mine image, I have given thee power over these. Why? Because they have not the rational mind: but thou by the rational mind art capable of truth, understandest what is above thee: be subject to Him that is above thee, and beneath thee shall those things be over which thou was set. But because by sin man deserted Him whom he ought to be under, he is made subject to the things which he ought to be above.
18 1Tm 6,10
19 Si 10,15
20 Gn 1,26).
21 Ps 32,9
807 7. Mc what I say: God, man, beasts: to wit, above thee, God; beneath thee, the beasts. Acknowledge Him that is above thee, that those that are beneath thee may acknowledge thee.22 Thus, because Daniel acknowledged God above him, the lions acknowledged him above them. But if thou acknowledge not Him that is above thee, thou despisest thy superior, thou becomest subject to thine inferior. Accordingly, how was the pride of the Egyptians quelled? By the means of frogs and flies.23 God might have sent lions: but a great man may be scared by a lion. The prouder they were, the more by the means of things contemptible and feeble was their wicked neck broken. But Daniel, lions acknowledge, because he was subject to God. What the martyrs who were cast to the wild beasts to fight with them, and were torn by the teeth of savage creatures, were they not under God? or were those three men servants of God, and the Maccabees not servants of God? The fire acknowledged as God’s servants the three men, whom it burned not, neither hurt their garments;24 and did it not acknowledge the Maccabees?25 It acknowledged the Maccabees; it did, my brethren, acknowledge them also. But there was need of a scourge, by the Lord’s permission: He hath said in Scripture, “He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”26 For think ye, my brethren, the iron would have pierced into the vitals27 of the Lord unless He had permitted its or that He would have hung fastened to the tree, unless it had been His will? Did not His own creature acknowledge Him? Or did He set an ensample of patience to His faithful ones? Ye see then, God delivered some visibly, some He delivered not visibly: yet all He spiritually delivered, spiritually deserted none. Visibly He seemed to have deserted some, some He seemed to have rescued. Therefore rescued He some, that thou mayest not think that He had not power to rescue. He has given proof that He has the power, to the end that where he doth it not, thou mayest understand a more secret will, not surmise difficulty of doing. But what, brethren? When we shall have come out of all these snares of mortality, when the times of temptation shall have passed away, when the river of this world shall have fleeted by, and we shall have received again that “first robe,”28 that immortality which by sinning we have lost, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption,” that is, this flesh shall have put on incorruption, “and this mortal shall have put on immortality;”29 the now perfected sons of God, in whom is no more need to be tempted, neither to be scourged, shall all creatures acknowledge: subjected to us shall all things be, if we here be subjected to God.
22 Da 6,22
23 Ex 8
24 Da 3,50
25 (2M 7
26 He 12,6
28 Lc 15,22 stolam primam. S. Aug). de Gn ad litt. 6,38. “That ‘first robe0’ is either the righteousness from which man fell, or, if it signify the clothing of bodily immortality, this also he lost, when by reason of sin he could not attain thereto:” and sec. 31. “Why is ‘the first robe0’ brought forth to him, but as he receives again the immortality which Adam lost?” Tertullian: vestem prestinam, priorem: “the former robe, which he had of old…the clothing of the Holy Spirit.” Theophylact). th;n stolh;n th;n ajrcaivan…to; e]nduma th`" ajfqarsia", “the original robe, the clothing of incorruption.”
29 1Co 15,44-49.
808 8. So then ought the Christian to be, that he glory not over other “men.” For God hath given it thee to be over the beasts, i.e. to be better than the beasts. This hast thou by nature; thou shall always be better than a beast. If thou wish to be better than another man, thou wilt begrudge him when thou shall see him to be thine equal. Thou oughtest to wish all men to be thine equals; and if by wisdom thou surpass any, thou oughtest to wish that he also may be wise. As long as he is slow, he learns from thee; as long as he is untaught, he hath need of thee; and thou art seen to be the teacher, he the learner; therefore thou seemest to be the superior, because thou art the teacher; he the inferior, because the learner. Except thou wish him thine equal, thou wishest to have him always a learner. But if thou wish to have him always a learner, thou wilt be an envious teacher. If an envious teacher, how wilt thou be a teacher? I pray thee, do not teach him thine enviousness. Hear the apostle speaking of the bowels of charity: “I would that all were even as I.”30 In what sense did he wish all to be his equals? In this was he superior to all, that by charity he wished all to be his equals. I say then, man has past bounds; he would needs be greedy of more than his due, would be above men, he that was made above the beasts: and this is pride.
30 1Co 7,7).
809 9. And see what great works pride does. Lay it up in your hearts, how much alike, how much as it were upon a par, are the works it doeth, and the works of charity. Charity feeds the hungry, and so does pride: charity, that God may be praised; pride, that itself may be praised. Charity clothes the naked, so does pride: charity fasts, so does pride: charity buries the dead, so does pride. All good works which charity wishes to do, and does; pride, on the other hand, drives at the same, and, so to say, keeps her horses up to the mark. But charity is between her and it, and leaves not place for ill-driven pride; not ill-driving, but ill-driven. Woe to the man whose charioteer is pride, for he must needs go headlong! But that, in the good that is done, it may not be pride that sets us on, who knows? who sees it? where is it? the works we see: mercy feeds, pride also feeds; mercy takes in the stranger, pride also takes in the stranger; mercy intercedes for the poor, pride also intercedes. How is this? In the works we see no difference. I dare to say somewhat, but not I; Paul hath said it: charity dies, that is, a man having charity confesses the name of Christ, suffers martyrdom: pride also confesses, suffers also martyrdom. The one hath charity, the other hath not charity. But let him that hath not charity hear from the apostle: “If I distribute all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.31 So then the divine Scripture calls us off from the display of the face outwardly to that which is within; from this surface which is vaunted before men, it calls us off to that which is within. Return to thy own conscience, question it. Do not consider what blossoms outwardly, but what root there is in the ground. Is lust rooted there? A show there may be of good deeds, truly good works there cannot be. Is charity rooted there? Have no fear: nothing evil can come of that. The proud caresses, love32 is severe. The one clothes, the other smites. For the one clothes in order toplease men, the other smites in order to correct by discipline. More accepted is the blow of charity than the alms of pride. Come then within, brethren; and in all things, whatsoever ye do, look unto God your witness. See, if He seeth, with what mind ye do it. If your heart accuse you not that ye do it for the sake of display, it is well: fear ye not. But when ye do good, fear not test another see you. Fear thou lest thou do it to the end that thou mayest be praised: let the other see it, that God may be praised. For if thou hidest it from the eyes of man, thou hidest it from the imitation of man, thou withdrawest from God His praise. Two are there to whom thou doest the alms: two hunger; one for bread, the other for righteousness. Between these two famishing souls:—as it is written, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled:”33 — between these two famishing persons thou the doer of the good work art set; if charity does the work by occasion of the one, therein it hath pity on both, it would succor both. For the one craves what he may eat, the other craves what he may imitate. Thou feedest the one, give thyself as a pattern to the other; so hast thou given alms to both: the one thou hast caused to thank thee for killing his hunger, the other thou hast made to imitate thee by setting him an example.
31 1Co 13,3
33 Mt 5,6).
810 10. Shew mercy then, as men of merciful hearts; because in loving enemies also, ye love brethren. Think not that Jn hasgiven no precept concerning love of our enemy, because he has not ceased to speak of brotherly love. Ye love brethren. “How,” sayest thou, “do we love brethren?” I ask wherefore thou lovest anenemy. Wherefore dost thou love him? That he may be whole in this life? what if it be not expedient for him? That he may be rich? what if by his very riches he shall be blinded? That he may marry a wife? what if he shall have a bitter life of it? That he may have children? what if they shall be bad? Uncertain therefore are these things which thou seemest to wish for thine enemy, in that thou lovest him; they are uncertain. Wish for him that he may have with thee eternal life; wish for him that he may be thy brother: when thou lovest him, thou lovest a brother. For thou lovest in him not what he is, but what thou wishest that he may be. I once said to you, my beloved, if I mistake not: There is a log of timber lying in sight; a good workman has seen the log, not yet planed, just as it was hewn from the forest, he has taken a liking to it, he would make something out of it. For indeed he did not love it to this end that it should always remain thus. In his art he has seen what it shall be, not in his liking what it is; and his liking is for the thing he will make of it, not for the thing it is. So God loved us sinners. We say that God loved sinners: for He saith, “They that are whole need not the Physician, but they that are sick.”34 Did He love us sinners to the end we should still remain sinners? As timber from the wood our Carpenter saw us, and had in His thoughts the building He would make thereof, not the unwrought timber that it was. So too thou seest thine enemy striving against thee, raging, biting with words, exasperating with contumelies, harassing with hatred: thou hast regard to this in him, that he is a man. Thou seest all these things that are against thee, that they were done by man; and thou seest in him that he was made by God. Now that he was made man, was God’s doing: but that be hates thee, is his doing; that he has ill-will at thee, is his doing. And what sayest thou in thy mind? Lord, be merciful to him, forgive him his sins, strike terror into him, changehim. Thou lovest not in him what he is, but what thou wishest him to be. Consequently, when thou lovest an enemy, thou lovest a brother. Wherefore, perfect love is the loving an enemy: which perfect love is in brotherly love. And let no man say that Jn the apostle has admonished us somewhat less, and the Lord Christ somewhat more. Jn has admonished us to love the brethren; Christ has admonished us to love even enemies. Mc to what end Christ hath bidden thee to love thine enemies. That they may remain always enemies? If He bade it for this end, that they should remain enemies, thou hatest,35 not lovest. Mc how He Himself loved, i.e. because He would not that they should be still the persecutors they were, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”36 Whom He willed to be forgiven, them He willed to be changed: whom He willed to be changed, of enemies He deigned to make brethren, and did in truth make them so. He was killed, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven: sent the Holy Ghost to His disciples: they began with boldness to preach His name, they did miracles in the name of Him that was crucified and slain: those slayers of the Lord saw them; and they who in rage had shed His blood, by believing drank it.
34 Mt 9,12
36 Lc 23,34
811 11. These things have I said, brethren, and somewhat at length: yet because charity was to be more earnestly commended to you, beloved, in this way was it to be commended. For if there be no charity in you, we have said nothing. But if it be in you, we have as it were east oil upon the flames. And in whom it was not, perchance by words it hath been kindled. In one; that which was there hath grown; in another, that hath begun to be, which was not. To this end therefore have we said these things, that ye be not slow to love your enemies. Does any man rage against thee? he rages, pray thou; he hates, pity thou. It is the fever of his soul that hates thee: he will be whole, and will thank thee. How do physicians love them that are sick? Is it the sick that they love? If they love them as sick, they wish them to be always sick. To this end love they the sick; not that they should still be sick, but that from being sick they should be made whole. And how much have they very often to suffer from the frenzied! What contumelious language! Very often they are even struck by them. He attacks the fever, forgives the man. And what shall I say, brethren? does he love his enemy? Nay, he hates his enemy, the disease; for it is this that he hates, and loves the man by whom he is struck: he hates the fever. For by whom or by what is he struck by the disease, by the sickness, by the fever. He takes away that which strives against him, that there may remain that from which he shall have thanks. So do thou. If thine enemy hate thee, and unjustly hate thee; know that the lust of the world reigns in him, therefore he hates thee. If thou also hate him, thou on the other hand renderest evil for evil. What does it, to render evil for evil? I wept for one sick man who hated thee; now bewail I thee, if thou also hatest. But he attacks thy property; he takes from thee I know not what things which thou hast on earth: therefore hatest thou him, because he puts thee to straits on earth. Be not thou straitened, remove thee to heaven above; there shalt thou have thine heart where there is wide room, so that thou mayest not be straitened in the hope of life eternal. Consider what the things are that he takes from thee: not even them would he take from thee, but by permission of Him who “scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”37 He, this same enemy of thine, is in a manner the instrument38 in the hands of God, by which thou mayest be healed. If God knows it to be good for thee that he should despoil thee, He permits him; if He knows it to be good for thee that thou shouldest receive blows, He permits him to smite thee: by the means of Him He careth for thee: wish thou that he may be made whole.
37 He 12,6
812 12. “No man hath seen God at any time.” See, beloved: “If we love one another, God will dwell in us, and His love will be perfected in us.”39 Begin to love; thou shalt be perfected. Hast thou begun to love? God has begun to dwell in thee: love Him that has begun to dwell in thee, that by more perfect indwelling He may make thee perfect. “In this we know that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.”40 It is well: thanks be to God! We come to know that He dwelleth in us. And whence come we to know this very thing, to wit, that we do know that He dwelleth in us? Because Jn himself has said this: “Because He hath given us of His Spirit.” Whence know we that He hath given us of His Spirit? This very thing, that He hath given thee of His Spirit, whence comest thou to know it? Ask thine own bowels: if they are full of charity, thou hast the Spirit of God. Whence know we that by this thou knowest that the Spirit of God dwelleth in thee? “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”41
39 1Jn 4,12
40 1Jn 4,13
41 Rm 5,5
813 13. “And we have seen, and are witnesses, that God hath sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.”42 Set your minds at rest, ye that are sick: such a Physician is come, and do ye despair? Great were the diseases, incurable were the wounds, desperate was the sickness. Dost thou note the greatness of thine ill, and not note the omnipotence of the Physician? Thou art desperate, but He is omnipotent; Whose witnesses are these that first were healed, and that announce the Physician: yet even they are made whole in hope rather than in the reality. For so saith the apostle: “For by hope we are saved.”43 We have begun therefore to be made whole in faith: but our wholeness shall be perfected “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.”44 This is hope, not the reality. But he that rejoiceth in hope shall hold the reality also: whereas he that hath not the hope, shall not be able to attain unto the reality.
42 1Jn 4,14
43 1Jn 8,24
44 1Co 15,53
814 14. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.”45 Now we may say it in not many words; “Whosoever shall confess;” not in word but in deed, not with tongue but with the life. For many confess in words, but in deeds deny: “And we have known and believed the love which God hath in us.”46 And again, by what hast thou come to know this? “Love is God.” He hath already said it above, behold he saith it again. Love could not be more exceedingly commended to thee than that it should be called God. Haply thou wast ready to despise a gift of God. And dost thou despise God? “Love is God: and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him.” Each mutually inhabiteth the other; He that holdeth, and he that is holden. Thou dwellest in God, but that thou mayest be holden: God inhabiteth thee, but that He may hold thee, lest thou fall. Lest haply thou imagine that thou becomest an house of God in such sort as thine house supports thy flesh: if the house in which thou art withdraw itself from under thee, thou fallest; but if thou withdraw thyself, God falleth not. When thou forsakest Him, He is none the less; when thou hast returned unto Him, He is none the greater.47 Thou art healed, on Him thou wilt bestow nothing; thou art made clean, thou art new-made, thou art set right: He is a medicine to the unhealthy, is a rule for the crooked, is light for the bedarkened, is an habitation for the deserted. All therefore is conferred on thee: see thou imagine not that ought is conferred upon God by thy coming unto Him: no, not so much as a slave. Shall God, forsooth, not have servants if thou like not, if all like not? God needs not the servants, but the servants need God: therefore saith the Psalm, “I have said unto the Lord, thou art my God.”48 He is the true Lord. And what saith it? “For of my goods Thou hast no need.” Thou needest the good thou hast by thy servant. Thy servant needeth the good he hath by thee, that thou mayest feed him; thou also needest the good thou hast by thy servant, that he may help thee. Thou canst not draw water for thyself, Canst not cook for thyself, canst not run before thy horse, canst not tend thy beast. Thou seest that thou needest the good thou hast by thy servant, thou needest his attendance. Therefore thou art not a true lord, while thou hast need of an inferior. He is the true Lord, who seeks nothing from us; and woe to us if we seek not Him! He seeks nothing from us: yet He sought us, when we sought not Him. One sheep had strayed; He found it, He brought it back on His shoulders rejoicing.49 And was the sheep necessary for the Shepherd, and not rather the Shepherd necessary for the sheep?—The more I love to speak of charity, the less willing am I that this epistle should be finished. None is more ardent in the commending of charity. Nothing more sweet is preached to you, nothing more wholesome drunk by you: but only thus if by godly living ye confirm in you the gift of God. Be not ungrateful for His so great grace, who, though He had one Only Son, would not that He should be alone a Son; but, that He might have brethren, adopted unto Him those who should with Him possess life eternal.
45 1Jn 4,15). [Life; “the Life eternal.”—The Epistle begins and ends with Life, announced and promised (the word occurs thirteen times in the one hundred and ten verses). The intermediate presentation of Love, as the grand efflux from the inner, Spiritual life, gives the main theme of St. John, and it is of this that Augustin delights to speak in these discourses.
The life of an intelligent being is in conscious dependence on God. In the fullest sense, “in Him we live.”
Death and life are among the striking contrasts named in the epistle: “the death,” “the life,”—“the death that is truly death, the life that is truly life.”
This life is in Christ. He not only brings it and imparts it, but He is “our Life.” The living and life-giving Christ is manifested in this epistle, and also the death that exists where there is no union, by love, to Him.
The Life, eternal (to distinguish it from the life that now is, the life bounded by sense and time), is not mere prolongation of existence. We must use sensuous images in order to apprehend the idea, but we are to remember that they are not realities in the spiritual order.
The life which Christ gives, enabling men to have life in Him, cannot exist apart from Himself; His seal remains in them, and He abides in them.
The “life eternal,” while future as to its full realization, is present, is begun here and now. “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life,” and its possession is matter of actual knowledge to those who have this life; “we know that we abide in Him and He in us” (1Jn 5,13).
It is a life which unites heaven and earth, bringing into this stage of being “the powers of the world to come.”
A life that satisfies, while it enkindles desire and aspiration: it gives strength to bear present ills in the joyous and assured hope of “a life beyond life.”]—J. H. M.
46 1Jn 4,16
47 Hom. in Ev. 11,5.
48 Ps 16,2).
49 Lc 15,4-5
Augustin on 1John 700