Augustine on NT 138
138 On the words of the gospel, Jn 10,14 “I am the good shepherd,” etc. Against the donatists.
1). We have heard the Lord Jesus setting forth to us the office of a good shepherd. And herein He hath doubtless given us to know, as we may understand it, that there are good shepherds. And yet that the multitude of shepherds might not be understood in a wrong sense; He saith, “I am the good Shepherd.”1 And wherein He is the good Shepherd, He showeth in the words following; “The good Shepherd,” saith He, “layeth down His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, seeth the wolf coming, and fleeth; because he careth not for the sheep, for he is an hireling.2 Christ then is the good Shepherd. What was Peter? was he not a good shepherd? Did not he too lay down his life for the sheep? What was Paul? what the rest of the Apostles? what the blessed Bishops, Martyrs, who followed close upon their times? What again our holy Cyprian? Were they not all good shepherds, not hirelings, of whom it is said, “Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward”?3 All these then were good shepherds, not simply for that they shed their blood, but that they shed it for the sheep.For not in pride, but in charity they shed it.
2. For even among the heretics, they who for their iniquities and errors have suffered any trouble, vaunt themselves in the name of martyrdom, that with this fair covering disguised4 they may plunder the more easily, for wolves they are. Now if ye would know in what rank they are to be held, hear that good shepherd, the Apostle Paul, that not all who even give up their bodies in suffering to the flames, are to be accounted to have shed their blood for the sheep, but rather against the sheep. “If,” saith he, “I speak with the tongues of men, and angels, but have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. If I should know all mysteries, and have all prophecy, and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing.”5 Now a great thing truly is this faith that removes mountains. They are indeed all great things; but if I have them without charity, saith he, not they, but I am nothing. But up to this point he haft not touched them, who glory in sufferings under the false name of martyrdom. Hear how he toucheth, yea rather pierceth them through anti through. “If I should distribute,” saith he, “all my goods to the poor, and deliver my body to be burned.” Now here they are. But mark what follows; “but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” Lo, they have come to suffering, come even to the shedding of blood, yea cometo the burning of the body; and yet it profiteth them nothing, because charity is lacking. Add charity, they all profit; take charity away, all the rest profit nothing.
3. What a good is this charity, Brethren! What more precious? what yieldeth greater light? or strength? or profit? or security? Many are the gifts of God, which even the wicked have, who shall say, “Lord, we have prophesied in Thy Name, in Thy Name have cast out devils, in Thy Name done many mighty works.”6 And He will not answer, “Ye have not done them.” For in the Presence of so great a Judge, they will not dare to lie or boast of things they have not done. But for that they had not charity, He answereth them all, “I know you not.” Now how can he have so much as the smallest charity, who when even7 convicted, loves not unity? It was then as impressing on good shepherds this unity, that our Lord was unwilling to mention many shepherds. For it is not, as I have said already, that Peter was not a good shepherd, and Paul, the rest of the Apostles, and the holy Bishops who were after them, and blessed Cyprian. All these were good shepherds; and notwithstanding to good shepherds, He commended not good shepherds, but a good Shepherd. “I,” saith He,” am the good Shepherd.”
4. Let us question the Lord with such little understanding as we have, and in most humble discourse hold converse with so great a Master. What sayest Thou, O Lord, Thou good Shepherd? For Thou art the good Shepherd, who art also the good Lamb; at once Pastor and Pasturage, at once Lamb and Lion. What sayest Thou? Let us give ear and aid us, that we may understand. “I,” saith He, “am the good Shepherd.” What is Peter? is he either not a shepherd, or a bad one? Let us see, if he be not a shepherd. “Lovest thou Me?”8 Thou saidst to Him Lord, “Lovest thou Me?” And he answered, “I do love Thee.” And Thou to him, “Feed My sheep.” Thou, Thou, Lord, by Thine Own questioning, by the strong assurance of Thine Own words, madest of the lover a shepherd. He is a shepherd then to whom Thou didst commit Thy sheep to be fed. Thou didst Thyself entrust them, he is a shepherd. Let us now see whether he be not a good one. This we find by the very question, and his answer. Thou didst ask, whether he loved Thee; he answered, “I do love Thee?” Thou sawest his heart, that he answered truth. Is he not then good, who Ioveth so great a Good? Whence that answer drawn front his inmost heart? Wherefore was this Peter, who had Thine eyes in his heart for witnesses, sad because Thou askedst him not once only, but a second and a third time, that by a threefold confession of love, he might efface the threefold sin of denial; wherefore, I say, being sad that he was asked repeatedly by. Him who knew what He was asking, and had given what He heard; wherefore being sad, did he return such an answer, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thyself knowest that I love Thee”? What! in making such a confession, such a profession rather, would he lie? In truth then, he made answer of his love to Thee, and from his inmost heart he gave utterance to a lover’s words. Now Thou hast said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things”9 So then he is both a shepherd, and a good shepherd; nothing it is true to the power and goodness of the Shepherd of shepherds; but nevertheless even he is both a shepherd, and a good one; and all other such are good shepherds.
5. What means it then, that to good shepherds Thou dost set forth One Only Shepherd, but that in One Shepherd Thou teachest unity? and the Lord Himself explains this more clearly by my ministry, putting you, beloved, in remembrance by this Gospel, and saying, “Hear ye what I have set forth; I have said, ‘I am the good Shepherd ;’ because all the rest, all the good shepherds, are My members.” One Head, One Body, One Christ. So then both the Shepherd of shepherds, and the shepherds of the Shepherd, and the sheep with their shepherds under The Shepherd. What is all this, but what the Apostle says? “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.”10 Therefore if Christ be even so, with good reason doth Christ in Himself containing all good shepherds, set forth One, saying, “‘ I am the good Shepherd.’ ‘I am,’ I Alone am, all the rest with Me are one in unity. Whoso feedeth without Me, feedeth against Me. ‘He that gathereth not with Me, scattereth.’”11 Hear then this unity more forcibly set forth; “Other sheep,” saith He, “I have which are not of this fold.”12 For He was speaking to the first fold of the stock of the fleshly Israel. But there were others of the stock of the faith of this Israel, and they were yet without, were among the Gentiles, predestinated, not yet gathered in. These He knew who had predestinated them; He knew, who had come to redeem them with the shedding of His Own Blood. He saw them who did not yet see Him; He knew them who yet believed not on Him. “Other sheep,” saith He, “I have which are not of this fold;” because they are not of the stock of the flesh of Israel. But nevertheless they shall not be outside of this fold, “for them also I must bring, that there may be One Fold, and One Shepherd.”
6. With good reason then to This Shepherd of shepherds, doth His Beloved, His Spouse, His Fair One, but by Him made fair, before by sin deformed, beautiful afterward through pardon and grace, speak in her love and ardour after Him, and say to Him, “Where feedest Thou?”13 And observe how, by what transport this spiritual love is here animated. And far better are they by this transport delighted, who have tasted ought of the sweetness of this love. They hear this properly, who love Christ. For in them, and of them, doth the Church sing this in the Song of Songs; who love Christ, as it seemed without beauty, yet the Only Beautiful One. “For we saw Him,” it is said, “and He had neither beauty nor comeliness.”14 Such He appeared on the Cross, such when crowned with thorns did He exhibit Himself, disfigured, and without comeliness, as if He had lost His power, as if not the Son of God. Such seemed He to the blind. For it is in the person of the Jews that Isaiah said this, “We saw Him, and He had no beauty nor comeliness.” When it was said, “If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross. He saved others, Himself He cannot save.”15 And smiting Him on the head with a reed, they said, “Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who smote Thee?”16 Because “He had neither beauty nor comeliness.” As such did ye Jews see Him. For” blindness hath happened in part to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles enter in,”17 until the other sheep come. Because then blindness hath happened, therefore did ye see the Comely One without comeliness. “For had ye known Him, ye would never have crucified the Lord of Glory.”18 But ye did it, because ye knew Him not. And yet He who as though without beauty bare with you, all Beauteous as He was, prayed for you; “Father,” saith He, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”19 For if He were without comeliness, how is it that she loveth Him, who saith, “Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth”?20 How is it that she loveth Him? how is it that she burneth for Him? how is it that she feareth so much to stray from Him? How is it that she hath so great delight in Him, that her only punishment is to be without Him? What would there be for which He should be loved, if He were not beautiful? But how could she love Him so, if He appeared to her as He did to those blind men persecuting Him, and knowing not what they do? As what then did she love Him? As “comely in form above the sons of men. Comely in form above the sons of men, grace is poured abroad in Thy Lips.”21 So then from these Thy Lips, “Tell me, 0 Thou whom my soul Ioveth. Tell me,” says she, “O Thou whom,” not my flesh, but, “my soul loveth. Tell me where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday; lest haply I light, as one veiled, upon the flocks of Thy companions.”22
7. It seems obscure, obscure it is; for it is a mystery of the sacred marriage bed. For she says, “The King hath brought me into His chamber.”23 Of such a chamber is this a mystery. But ye who are not as profane kept off from this chamber, hear ye what ye are, and say with her, if with her ye love (and ye do love with her, if ye are in her); say all, and yet let one say, for unity saith; “Tell me, O Thou whom my soul Ioveth. For they had one soul to Godward, and one heart.24 Tell me where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday?” What does the midday25 signify? “Great heat, and great brightness.” So then, “make known to me who are Thy wise ones,” fervent in spirit, and brilliant in doctrine. “Make known to me Thy Right Hand, and men learned in heart, in wisdom.”26 To them may I cleave in Thy Body, to them be united, with them enjoy Thee. Tell me then, “tell me, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday;” lest I fall upon them who say other things of Thee, entertain other sentiments of Thee; believe other things of Thee, preach other things of Thee; and have their own flocks, and are Thy companions; for that they live of Thy table, and handle the sacraments of Thy table. For companions are so called, because they eat together,27 messmates as it were. Such are reproved in the Psalm; “For if Mine enemy had spoken great things against Me, I would surely have hidden Myself from him; and if he that hated Me had spoken great things against Me, I would surely have hidden Myself from him; but thou a man of one mind with Me, My guide, and My familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with Me, in the house of God we walked with consent.”28 Why then now against the house of the Lord with dissent, but that “they have gone out from us, but they were not of us?29 Therefore, “O Thou whom my soul loveth,” that I may not fall upon such, Thy companions, but companions such as Samson’s were, who kept not faith with their friend, but wished to corrupt his wife.30 Therefore, that I may not fall upon such as these, “that I may not light upon them,” that is, fall upon them, “as one that is veiled,” as one that is concealed, that is, and obscure, not as established upon the mountain. “Tell me” then, “O thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down in the midday;” who are the wise and faithful in whom Thou dost specially rest, lest by chance as in blindness I fall upon the flocks, not Thy flocks, but the flocks of Thy companions. For thou didst not say to Peter, “Feed thy sheep,” but, “Feed My sheep.”31
8. Let then the “good Shepherd,” and, “the Comely in form above the sons of men,” make answer to this beloved one; make answer to her whom He hath made beautiful from among the children of men. Hear ye what He answereth, and understand, beware of that wherewith He alarmeth, love that which He adviseth. What then doth He answer? How free from soft caresses, yea, to her caresses He returneth severity! He is sharp that He may bind her closely, that He may keep her. “If thou know not thyself,” saith He, “0 thou fair one among women:”32 for however fair others may be by the gifts of thy Spouse, they are heresies, fair in outward ornament, not within:33 fair are they without, and outwardly they shine, they disguise themselves by the name of righteousness; “but all the beauty of the King’s daughter is within.”34 “If” then “thou know not thyself;” that thou art one, that thou art throughout all nations, that thou art chaste, that thou oughtest not to corrupt thyself with the disordered converse of evil companions. “If thou know not thyself,” that in uprightness, “he hath espoused thee to Me, to present you a chaste Virgin to Christ;”35 and that in uprightness thou shouldest present thine own self to Me, test by evil converse, “as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds too should be corrupted from my purity.”36 “If,” I say, “thou know not thyself” to be such, “go thy way; go thy way.” For to others I shall say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”37 To time I shall not say, “Enter in;” but, “Go thy way;” that thou mayest be among those, who “went out from us.” “Go thy way.” That is, “if thou know not thyself,” then, “go thy way.” But if thou know thyself, enter in. But, “if thou know not thyself, go thy way by the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy kids in the tents of the shepherds. Go thy way by the footsteps,” not “of the Flock,” but, “of the flocks, and feed,” not as Peter, “My sheep,” but, “thy kids; in the tents,” not “of the Shepherd,” but, “of the shepherds;” not of unity, but of dissension; not established there, where there is One flock and One Shepherd. The beloved one was confirmed, edified, made stronger, prepared to die for her Spouse and to live with her Spouse.
9. These words which I have quoted out of the Holy Song of Songs, of a kind of bridal song of the Bridegroom and the Bride (for it spiritual wedding, wherein we must live in great purity, for Christ hath granted to the Church in spirit that which His Mother had in body, to be at once a Mother and a Virgin); these words, I say, the Donatists accommodate to their own perverted sense in a very different meaning. And how I will not conceal from you, and what ye may answer them, I will, by the Lord’s help, as well as I shall be able, briefly recommend. When then we begin to press them with the light of the Church’s unity spread over the whole world, and demand of them to show us any testimony out of the Scriptures, where God hath foretold that the Church should be in Africa, as if all the rest of the nations were lost; they are in the habit of taking this testimony in their mouths, and saying; “Africa is under the midday sun; the Church then” they say, “asking the Lord where He feedeth, where He lieth down; He answereth, ‘Under the midday sun;’” as if the voice of her who put the question, were, “Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down;” and the Voice of Him who answereth, were, “Under the midday sun;” that is, in Africa. If then it be the Church which asketh, and the Lord maketh answer where he feedeth, in Africa, because the Church was in Africa; then she who asketh was not in Africa. “Tell me,” she saith, “O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down;” and He maketh answer to some Church out of Africa, “Under the midday sun,” in Africa I lie down, in Africa I feed, as if it were, “I do not feed in thee.” I repeat, if she who asketh is the Church, which no one disputes, which not even themselves gainsay; and they hear something about Africa; then she who asketh is out of Africa; and because it is the Church, the Church is out of Africa.
10. But see, I admit that Africa is under the midday sun; although Egypt is rather under the meridian, under the midday sun than Africa. Now after what fashion This Shepherd is there in Egypt, they who know, will acknowledge; and for them that know not, let them enquire how large a flock lie gathereth there, how great a multitude He hath of holy men and women who utterly despise the world. That flock hath so increased, that it hath expelled superstitions even thence. To pass over how it hath in its increase banished thence the whole superstition of idols, which had been firmly fixed there; I admit what you say, O evil companions; I admit it altogether, I agree that Africa is in the South, and that Africa is signified in that which is said, “Where feedest Thou, where dost Thou lie down under the midday sun?” But do ye too equally observe how that up to this point these are the words of the Bride, and not yet of the Bridegroom. Hitherto it is the Bride that saith, “Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou dost lie down in the midday, lest by chance I light, as one veiled.” O thou deaf, and blind one, if in the “midday” thou seest Africa, why in her that is “veiled” l dost thou not see the Bride? “Tell me,” she said, “O Thou whom my soul loveth.” Without doubt she addresses her Spouse, when she says, “whom” [in the masculine38 ]“my soul loveth.” Just as if it were said, “Tell me, O thou whom [in the feminine39 ], “my soul loveth;”we should understand that the Bridegroom spake these words to His Bride; so when you hear, “Tell me, O thou whom” (in the masculine) “my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou liest down;” add to this, to her words belongs also what follows, “In the midday.” I am asking, “where Thou feedest in the midday, lest by chance I light as one veiled upon the flocks of Thy companions.” I consent entirely, I admit what you understand of Africa; it is signified by “the midday” But then as you understand it, the Church of Christ beyond the sea is addressing her Spouse, in fear of falling into theAfrican error, “O Thou whom my soul, loveth, tell me,” teach me. For I hear that in the midday,” that is in Africa, there are two parties, yea rather many schisms.40 “Tell me,” then, “where Thou feedest,” what sheep belong to Thee, what fold Thou biddest me love there, whereunto ought I to unite myself. “Lest by chance I light as one veiled.” For they mock me as if I were concealed, they mock me as destroyed, as though I existed nowhere else. “Lest,” then, “as one veiled,” as if concealed, “I light upon the flocks,” that is, upon the congregarious of the heretics, “thy companions; the Donatists, the Maximinianists, the Rogatists and all the other pests who gather without, and who therefore scatter; “Tell me,” I pray Theeif I must seek my Shepherd there, that I fail not into the gulf of re-baptizing. I exhort you, I beseech you by the sanctity of such nuptials love this Church, be ye in this holy Church, be ye this Church; love the good Shepherd, theSpouse so fair, who deceiveth no one, who desireth no one to perish. Pray too for the scattered sheep; that they too may come, that theytoo may acknowledge Him, that they too may love Him; that there may be One Flock and One Shepherd. Let us turn to the Lord, etc
1 (Jn 10,11
2 (Jn 10,12-13.
3 (Mt 6,2 Mt 6,4.
5 (1Co 13,1 etc.
6 (Mt 7,22
7 Referring it would seem to the conference held but a little while before this with the Donatist party at Carthage.
8 (Jn 21,15).
9 (Mt 12,35
10 (1Co 12,12
11 (Mt 12,30
12 (Jn 10,16
13 (Ct 1,7 Ct 1
14 (Is 53,2 Sept.
15 (Mc 15,31
16 (Mt 26,68
17 (Rm 11,25
18 (1Co 2,8
19 (Lc 23,34).
20 (Ct 1,7 Ct 1
21 (Ps 14,2.
22 (Ct 1,7 Sept.
23 (Ct 1,4
24 (Ac 4,32
25 It is not possible in English to preserve the same translation for the word meridies, which occurs throughout this passage in the two senses of the noon or midday, and the South).
26 (Ps 89,12 Sept. (xc. English version).
27 Sodales enim dicti sunt, quod simul edant, quasi simul edales.
28 (Ps 54,13 etc., Sept. (lv. 12-14, English version).
29 (1Jn 2,19
30 (Jg 14.
31 (Jn 21,17
32 (Ct 8 Sept.
34 (Ps 45,13
35 (2Co 11,2
36 (2Co 11,3).
37 (Mt 25,21
139 On the words of the gospel, Jn 10,30 “I and the Father are one.”
1). Ye have heard what the Lord God, Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God, born of God the Father without any mother, and born of a Virgin mother without any human father, said, “I and My Father are One.”1 Receive ye this, believe it in such wise that ye may attain2 to understand it. For faith ought to go before understanding, that understanding may be the reward of faith. For the Prophet hath said most expressly, “Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand.”3 What then is simply preached is to be believed; what is with exactness discussed, is to be understood. At first then4 to imbue your minds with faith we preach to you Christ, the Only Son of God the Father. Why is added, “The Only Son “? Because He whose Only Son He is, hath many sons by grace. All the rest then, all saints are sons of God by grace, He Alone by Nature. They who are sons of God by grace are not What the Father is. And no saint hath ever dared to say, what that Only Son saith, “I and My Father are One.” Is He not then our Father too? If He be not our Father, how say we when we pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven”?5 But we are sons whom He hath made sons by His Own will, not begotten as sons of His Own Nature. And in truth He hath begotten us too, but as it is said, as adopted ones, begotten by the favour of His adoption, not by Nature. And this too are we called, for that “God hath called us into the adoption of sons;”6 we are though adopted, men. He is called the Only Son, the Only Begotten, in that, He is That which the Father is; but we are men, The Father is God. In then that He is That which the Father is; He said, and saidtruly “I and My Father are One.” What is, “are One “? Are of one Nature. What is, “areOne “? Are of one Substance.
2. Peradventure, ye but imperfectly understand what “of one Substance” is. Take we pains that ye may understand it; may God assist both me who speak, and you that hear; me, that I may speak such things as are true and fit for you; and you, that before and above all things ye may believe; and then that ye may understand as best ye can. What then is “of One Substance”? Let me make use of similitudes to you, that what is imperfectly understood maybe made clear by example. As, suppose, God is gold. His Son is gold also. If similitudes ought not to be given for heavenly things from things earthly, how is it written, “Now the Rock was Christ “?7 So then, Whatsoever the Fatheris, This is the Son also; as I have said, for example, “The Father is gold, the Son is gold.” For he who says, “The Son is not of the Very Substance which the Father is;” what else says he but, “The Father is gold, the Son is silver “? If the Father be gold, and the Son silver; the Only Son hath degenerated from the Father. A man begets a man; of what substance the father is who begets, of the same substance is the Son who is begotten. What is, “of the same substance “? The one is a man, and the other is a man; the one hath a soul; so hath the other a soul; the one hath a body, so hath the other a body; what one is, that is the other.
3. But the Arian heresy makes answer, and says. What says it to me? “Mc what thou hast said “? What have I said? “That the Son of a man may be compared to the Son of God.” Certainly he may be compared; but not as you suppose, in strictness of expression;8 but for a similitude. But tell me now what you would make of this. “Do you not see,” says he, “that the father who begets is greater9 in age, and the son who is begotten less? How then say ye? tell me; how then say ye, that the Father and the Son, God and Christ, are equal; when ye see that when a man begets a son, the son is less, and the father greater?” Thou wise one, in eternity thou art looking for times; where there are no times, thou art looking for differences of age! When the father is greater in age, and the son less, both are in time; the one groweth, for that the other groweth old. For by nature, the man, the father, did not beget one less, by nature, as I said, but by age. Wouldest thou know, how that by nature he did not begetone less? Wait, let him grow, and he will lie equal to his father. For a little boy even by growing attains to his father’s full size. Wherereas you assert that the Son of God is in such wise born less, as never to grow, and by growing even to attain to His Father’s size. Now then a man’s son born of a man, is born in a better condition than the Son of God. How? Because the former grows, and attains to his father’s size. But Christ, if it is as ye say, is in such wise born less, as that He must ever remain less, and no growth of years at least is to be looked for here. Thus then you say that there is a diversity in nature. But why say you so, but because you will not believe the Son to be of the Same Substance which the Father is? Finally, first acknowledge that He is of the Same Substance, and so call Him less. Consider the case of a man, he is a man. What is his substance? He is a man. What is he whom he begets? He is less, but he is a man. The age is unequal, the nature equal. Do you then say too, “What the Father is, That is the Son, but the Son is less “? Say so, make a step forward, say, “of the Same Substance, only less;” and you will get to His being equal. For it is not a little step you take, it is not a little approach you make to the truth, of acknowledging Him equal, if you shall acknowledge Him to be of the Same Substance, though less. “But He is not of the Same Substance,” this you say. So then in that you say this, here is gold and silver; what you say is as if a man were to beget a horse. For a man is of one substance, a horse of another. If then the Son is of another substance than the Father, the Father hath begotten a monster. For when a creature, that is a woman, gives birth to anything that is not a man, it is called a monster. But that it be not a monster, he that is born is that which he is that begat him, that is, a man and a man, a horse and a horse, a dove and a dove, a sparrow and a sparrow.
4. To His creatures hath He given to beget that which they are. To His creatures, to mortal, earthly creatures, hath God given, hath granted to beget that which they, are; and thinkest thou that He hath not been able to reserve this for Himself, He who is before all ages? Should He who hath no beginning of time, beget a son, different from That which Himself is, beget a degenerate son? Hear ye how great a blasphemy it is to say, that the Only Son of God is of another substance. Most certainly if He is so, He is degenerate. If you should say to any child of man, “Thou art degenerate,” how great an offence is it! And yet in what sense is any child of man said to be degenerate? As, for example, his father is brave, he is a poltroon and a coward. If any one sees him, and would rebuke him, as he thinks of his brave father, what does he say to him? “Get thee hence, thou degenerate one!” What is “degenerate one “? “Thy father was a brave man, and thou tremblest through fear.” He to whom this is said, is degenerate by some fault, by nature he is equal. What is, “by nature he is equal “? He is a man, which his father also is. But the one brave, the other a coward; the one bold, the other timid; yet both men. By some fault then he is degenerate, not by nature. But when you say, that the Only Son, the One Son of the Father, is degenerate, you say nought else, butthat He is not What the Father is; and you do not say, that having been already born, He has become degenerate; but He was begotten so. Who can endure this blasphemy? If they could in any sort whatever see this blasphemy, they would fly from it, and become catholics.
5. But what shall I say, Brethren? Let us not be angry with them; but pray we for them, that God would give them understanding; for peradventure they were born so.10 What is, were born so? They receive what they hold from their parents. They prefer their birth to the truth. Let them become what they are not, that they may be able to keep what they are; that is, let them become catholics, that they may keep their nature as men; that the creation of God in them perish not, let the grace of God be added to them. For they imagine that by their outrage of the Son they honour the Father. When you say to him, “Thou blasphemest;” he answers, “Why do I blaspheme?” “In that thou sayest that the Son is not what the Father is.” And he answers me, “Yea, it is thou who blasphemest.” Why? “Because thou wouldest make the Son equal to the Father.” “I do wish to make the Son equal with the Father, but is this to make a stranger equal? The Father rejoiceth when I equal with Him His Only Son; He rejoiceth because He is not envious. And because God is not envious of His Only Son, therefore did He beget Him Such as He is Himself. Thou doest wrong both to the Son, and to the Father Himself, for whose honour thou wouldest do outrage to the Son. For in truth for this reason dost thou say that the Son is not of the Same Substance, lest thou shouldest do wrong to His Father. I will soon show thee, that thou doest wrong to both.” “How?” saith he. “If I say to any man’s son, Thou art degenerate, thou art not like thy father; degenerate, thou art not what thy father is. The son hears it, and is angry, and says, ‘Was I then born degenerate?’ The father hears it, and is more angry still. And in his anger what says he? ‘Have I then begotten a degenerate son? If I then be one thing, and I have begotten another, I have begotten a monster.’ What is it then, that whereas thou wishest to pay honour to the One by doing outrage to the Other, thou doest outrage to Both? Thou offendest the Son, but thou wilt not propitiate the Father. When thou honourest the Father byoutraging the Son, thou offendest both the Son and the Father. From whom wilt thou fly? to whom wilt thou fly? When the Father is angry with thee, dost thou fly to the Son? What cloth He say to thee? ‘To whom dost thou fly, to Me, whom thou hast made degenerate?’ When the Son is offended, dost thou run to the Father? He too saith to thee; ‘To whom dost thou fly, to Me who, thou hast said, have begotten a degenerate Son?’“ Let this suffice for you; hold it fast, commit it to memory, inscribe it in your faith. But that ye may understand it, pour out your prayers to God, the Father and the Son, who are One.
1 (Jn 10,30
3 (Is 7,9 Sept.
4 (He seems to be addressing the Catechumens (Bened. note).
5 (Mt 6,9
6 (Ep 1,5
7 (1Co 10,4
8 Ad proprietatem.
Augustine on NT 138