Augustin on the mounts 1062

Chapter XX.

1062 Mt 5,39
62. And, indeed, in these three classes of examples, I see that no class of injury is passed over.184 For all matters in which we suffer any injustice are divided into two classes: of which the one is, where restitution cannot be made; the other, where it can. But in that case where restitution cannot be made, a compensation in revenge is usually sought. For what does it profit, that on being struck you strike in return? Is that part of the body which was injured for that reason restored to its original condition? But an excited mind desires such alleviations. Things of that sort, however, afford no pleasure to a healthy and firm one; nay, such an one judges rather that the other’s infirmity is to be compassionately borne with, than that his own (which has no existence) should be soothed by the punishment of another.

63. Nor are we thus precluded from inflicting such punishment [requital]185 as avails for correction, and as compassion itself dictates; nor does it stand in the way of that course proposed, where one is prepared to endure more at thehand of him whom he wishes to set right. But no one is fit for inflicting this punishment except the man who, by the greatness of his love, has overcome that hatred wherewith those are wont to be inflamed who wish to avenge themselves. For it is not to be feared that parents would seem to hate a little son when, on committing an offence, he is beaten by them that he may not go on offending. And certainly the perfection of love is set before us by the imitation of God the Father Himself when it is said in what follows: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them186 which persecute you;” and yet it is said of Him by the prophet, “For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; yea, He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”187 The Lord also says, “The servant that knows not188 his Lord’s will, and does things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; but the servant that knows his Lord’s will, and does things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with many stripes.”189 No more, therefore, is sought for, except that he should punish to whom, in the natural order of things, the power is given; and that he should punish with the same goodwill which a father has towards his little son, whom by reason of his youth he cannot yet hate. For from this source the most suitable example is drawn, in order that it may be sufficiently manifest that sin can be punished in love rather than be left unpunished; so that one may wish him on whom he inflicts it not to be miserable by means of punishment, but to be happy by means of correction, yet be prepared, if need be, to endure with equanimity more injuries inflicted by him whom he wishes to be corrected, whether he may have the power of putting restraint upon him or not.

64. But great and holy men, although they at the time knew excellently well that that death which separates the soul from the body is not to be dreaded, yet, in accordance with the sentiment of those who might fear it, punished some sins with death, both because the living were struck with a salutary fear, and because it was not death itself that would injure those who were being punished with death, but sin, which might be increased if they continued to live. They did not judge rashly on whom God had bestowed such a power of judging. Hence it is that Elijah inflicted death on many, both with his own hand190 and by calling down fire from heaven;191 as was done also without rashness by many other great and godlike men, in the same spirit of concern for the good of humanity. And when the disciples had quoted an example from this Elias, mentioning to the Lord what had been done by him, in order that He might give to themselves also the power of calling down fire from heaven to consume those who would not show Him hospitality, the Lord reproved in them, not the example of the holy prophet, but their ignorance in respect to taking vengeance, their knowledge being as yet elementary;192 perceiving that they did not in love desire correction, but in hated desired revenge. Accordingly, after He had taught them what it was to love one’s neighbour as oneself, and when the Holy Spirit had been poured out, whom, at the end of ten days after His ascension, He sent from above, as He had promised,193 there were not wanting such acts of vengeance, although much more rarely than in the Old Testament. For there, for the most part, as servants they were kept down by fear; but here mostly as free they were nourished by love. For at the words of the Apostle Peter also, Ananias and his wife, as we read in the Ac of the Apostles, fell down dead, and were not raised to life again, but buried.

65. But if the heretics who are opposed to the Old Testament194 will not credit this book, let them contemplate the Apostle Paul, whose writings they read along with us, saying with respect to a certain sinner whom he delivered over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, “that the spirit may be saved.”195 And if they will not here understand death (for perhaps it is uncertain), let them acknowledge that punishment [requital] of some kind or other was inflicted by the apostle through the instrumentality of Satan; and that he did this not in hatred, but in love, is made plain by that addition, “that the spirit may be saved.” Or let them notice what we say in those books to which they themselves attribute great authority, where it is written that the Apostle Thomas imprecated on a certain man, by whom he had been struck with the palm of the hand, the punishment of death in a very cruel form, while yet commending his soul to God, that it might be spared in the world to come,—whose hand, torn from the rest of his body after he had been killed by a lion, a dog brought to the table at which the apostle was feasting. It is allowable for us not to credit this writing, for it is not in the catholic canon; yet they both read it, and honour it as being thoroughly uncorrupted and thoroughly truthful, who rage very fiercely (with I know not what blindness) against the corporeal punishments which are in the Old Testament, being altogether ignorant in what spirit and at what stage in the orderly distribution of times they were inflicted.

66. Hence, in this class of injuries which is atoned for by punishment, such a measure will be preserved by Christians, that, on an injury being received, the mind will not mount up into hatred, but will be ready, in compassion for the infirmity, to endure even more; nor will it neglect the correction, which it can employ either by advice, or by authority, or by [the exercise of] power. There is another class of injuries, where complete restitution is possible, of which there are two species: the one referring to money, the other to labour. And therefore examples are subjoined: of the former in the case of the coat and cloak, of the latter in the case of the compulsory service of one and two miles; for a garment may be given back, and he whom you have assisted by labour may also assist you, if it should be necessary. Unless, perhaps, the distinction should rather be drawn in this way: that the first case which is supposed, in reference to the cheek being struck, means all injuries that are inflicted by the wicked in such a way that restitution cannot be made except by punishment; and that the second case which is supposed, in reference to the garment, means all injuries where restitution can be made without punishment; and therefore, perhaps, it is added, “if any man will sue thee at the law,” because what is taken away by means of a judicial sentence is not supposed to be taken away with such a degree of violence as that punishment is due; but that the third case is composed of both, so that restitution may be made both without punishment and with it. For the man who violently exacts labour to which he has no claim, without any judicial process, as he does who wickedly compels a man to go with him, and forces in an unlawful way assistance to be rendered to himself by one who is unwilling, is able both to pay the penalty of his wickedness and to repay the labour, if he who endured the wrong should ask it again. In all these classes of injuries, therefore, the Lord teaches that the disposition of a Christian ought to be most patient and compassionate, and thoroughly prepared to endure more.

67. But since it is a small matter merely to abstain from injuring, unless you also confer a benefit as far as you can, He therefore goes on to say, “Give to every one that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” “To every one that asketh,” says He; not, Everything to him that asketh: so that you are to give that which you can honestly and justly give. For what if he should ask money, wherewith he may endeavour to oppress an innocent man? what if, in short, he should ask something unchaste?196 But not to recount many examples, which are in fact innumerable, that certainly is to be given which may hurt neither thyself nor the other party, as far as can be known or supposed by man; and in the case of him to whom you have justly denied what he asks, justice itself is to be made known, so that you may not send him away empty. Thus you will give to every one that asketh you, although you will not always give what he asks; and you will sometimes give something better, when you have set him right who was making unjust requests.

68. Then, as to what He says, “From him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away,” it is to be referred to the mind; for God loveth a cheerful giver.197 Moreover, every one who accepts anything borrows, even if he himself is not going to pay it; for inasmuch as God pays back more to the merciful, whosoever does a kindness lends at interest. Or if it does not seem good to understand the borrower in any other sense than of him who accepts of anything with the intention of repaying it, we must understand the Lord to have included those two methods of doing a favour. For we either give in a present what we give in the exercise of benevolence, or we lend to one who will repay us. And frequently men who, setting beforethem the divine reward, are prepared to give away in a present, become slow to give what is asked in loan, as if they were destined to getnothing in return from God, inasmuch as he who receives pays back the thing which is given him. Rightly, therefore, does the divine authority exhort us to this mode of bestowing a favour, saying, “And from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away:” i.e., do not alienate your goodwill from him who asks it, both because your money will be useless, and because God will not pay you back, inasmuch as the man has done so; but when you do that from aregard to God’s precept, it cannot be unfruitful with Him who gives these commands.198

Chapter XXI.

1069 Mt 5,43-46
69. In the next place, He goeson to say, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them that have you, and pray for them which persecute you;199 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He commandeth200 His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love201 them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the Gentiles the very same?202 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven203 is perfect.” For without this love, wherewith we are commanded to love even our enemies and persecutors, who can fully carry out those things which are mentioned above? Moreover, the perfection of that mercy, wherewith most of all the soul that is in distress is cared for, cannot be stretched beyond the love of an enemy; and therefore the closing words are: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” Yet in such a way that God is understood to be perfect as God, and the soul to be perfect as a soul.

70. That there is, however, a certain step [in advance] in the righteousness of the Pharisees, which belongs to the old law, is perceived from this consideration, that many men hate even those by whom they are loved; as, for instance, luxurious children hate their parents for restraining them in their luxury. That than therefore rises a certain step, who loves his neighbour, although as yet he hates his enemy. But in the kingdom of Him who came to fulfil the law, not to destroy it, he will bring benevolence and kindness to perfection, when he has carried it out so far as to love an enemy. For the former stage, although it is something, is yet so little that it may be reached even by the publicans as well. And as to what is said in the law, “Thou shalt hate thine enemy,”204 it is not to be understood as the voice of command addressed to a righteous man, but rather as the voice of permission to a weak man.

71. Here indeed arises a question in no way to be blinked, that to this precept of the Lord, wherein He exhorts us to love our enemies, and to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us, many other parts of Scripture seem to those who consider them less diligently and soberly to stand opposed; for in the prophets there are found many imprecations against enemies, which are thought to be curses: as, for instance, that one, “Let their table become a snare,”205 and the other things which are said there; and that one, “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow,”206 and the other statements which are made either before or afterwards in the same Psalm by the prophet, as bearing on the case of Judas. Many other statements are found in all parts of Scripture, which may seem contrary both to this precept of the Lord, and to that apostolic one, where it is said, “Bless; and curse not; “207 while it is both written of the Lord, that He cursed the cities which received not His word;208 and the above-mentioned apostle thus spoke respecting a certain man, “The Lord will reward him according to his works.”209

72. But these difficulties are easily solved, for the prophet predicted by means of imprecation what was about to happen, not as praying for what he wished, but in the spirit of one who saw it beforehand. So also the Lord, so also the apostle; although even in the words of these we do not find what they have wished, but what they have foretold. For when the Lord says, “Woe unto thee, Capernaum,” He does not utter anything else than that some evil will happen to her as a punishment of her unbelief; and that this would happen the Lord did not malevolently wish, but saw by means of His divinity. And the apostle does not say, May [the Lord] reward; but, “The Lord will reward him according to his work;” which is the word of one who foretells, not of one uttering an imprecation. Just as also, in regard to that hypocrisy of the Jews of which we have already spoken, whose destruction he saw to he impending, he said,” God shall smite thee, thou whited wall.”210 But the prophets especially are accustomed to predict future events under the figure of one uttering an imprecation, just as they have often foretold those things which were to come under the figure of past time: as is the case, for example, in that passage, “Why have the nations raged, and the peoples imagined vain things?”211 For he has not said, Why will the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? although he was not mentioning those things as if they were already past, but was looking forward to them as yet to come. Such also is that passage, “They have parted my garments among them, and have cast lots upon my vesture: “212 for here also he has not said, They will part my garments among them, and will cast lots upon my vesture. And yet no one finds fault with these words, except the man who does not perceive that variety of figures in speaking in no degree lessens the truth of facts, and adds very much to the impressions on our minds.

Chapter XXII.

1073 Mt 5,44
73. But the question before us is rendered more urgent by what the Apostle Jn says: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and the Lord shall give him life for him who sinneth not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”213 For he manifestly shows that there are certain brethren for whom we are not commanded to pray, although the Lord bids us pray even for our persecutors. Nor can the question in hand be solved, unless we acknowledge that there are certain sins in brethren which are more heinous than the persecution of enemies. Moreover, that brethren mean Christians can be proved by many examples from the divine Scriptures. Yet that one is plainest which the apostle thus states: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother.”214 For he has not added the word our; but has thought it plain, as he wished a Christian who had an unbelieving wife to be understood by the expression brother. And therefore he says a little after, “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart: a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.”215 Hence I am of opinion that the sin of a brother is unto death, when any one, after coming to the knowledge of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, makes an assault on the brotherhood, and is impelled by the fires of envy to oppose that grace itself by which he is reconciled to God. But the sin is not unto death, if any one has not withdrawn his love from a brother, but through some infirmity of disposition has failed to perform the incumbent duties of brotherhood. And on this accountour Lord also on the cross says, “Father, forgive216 them; for they know not what they do:”217 for, not yet having become partakers of thegrace of the Holy Spirit, they had not yet entered the fellowship of the holy brotherhood. And the blessed Stephen in the Ac of the Apostles prays for those by whom he is being stoned,218 because they had not yet believed on Christ, and were not fighting against that common grace. And the Apostle Paul on this account, I believe, does not pray for Alexander, because he was already a brother, and had sinned unto death, viz. by making an assault on the brotherhood through envy. But for those who had not broken off their love, but had given way through fear, he prays that they may bepardoned. For thus he expresses it: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will reward him according to his works. Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatlywithstood our words.”219 Then he adds for whom he prays, thus expressing it: “At my first defence no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”220

74. It is this difference in their sins which separates Judas the betrayer from Peter the denier: not that a penitent is not to be pardoned, for we must not come into collision with that declaration of our Lord, where He enjoins that a brother is to be pardoned, when he asks his brother to pardon him;221 but that the ruin connected with that sin is so great, that he cannot endure the humiliation of asking for it, even if he should be compelled by a bad conscience both to acknowledge and divulge his sin. For when Judas had said, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood,” yet it was easier for him in despair to run and hang himself,222 than in humility to ask for pardon. And therefore it is of much consequence to know what sort of repentance God pardons. For many much more readily confess that they have sinned, and are so angry with themselves that they vehemently wish they had not sinned; but yet they do not condescend to humble the heart and to make it contrite, and to implore pardon: and this disposition of mind we must suppose them to have, as feeling themselves already condemned because of the greatness of their sin.

75. And this is perhaps the sin against the Holy Ghost, i.e. through malice and envy to act in opposition to brotherly love after receiving the grace of the Holy Ghost,—a sin which our Lord says is not forgiven either in this world or in the world to come. And hence it may be asked whether the Jews sinned against the Holy Ghost, when they said that our Lord was casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils: whether we are to understand this as said against our Lord Himself, because He says of Himself in another passage, “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how muchmore shall they call them of His household!”223 or whether, inasmuch as they had spoken from great envy, being ungrateful for so manifest benefits, although they were not yet Christians, theyare, from the very greatness of their envy, to be supposed to have sinned against the Holy Ghost? This latter is certainly not to be gathered from our Lord’s words. For although He has said in the same passage, “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come;” yet it may seem that He admonished them for this purpose, that they should come to His grace, and after accepting of it should not so sin as they have now sinned. For now they have spoken a word against the Son of man, and it may be forgiven them, if they be converted, and believe on Him, and receive the Holy Ghost; but if, after receiving Him, they should choose to envy the brotherhood, and to assail the grace they have received, it cannot be forgiven them, neither in this world nor in the world to come. For if He reckoned them so condemned, that there was no hope left for them, He would not judge that they ought still to be admonished, as He did by adding the statement, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt.”224

76. Let it be understood, therefore, that we are to love our enemies, and to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us, in such a way, that it is at the same time understood that there are certain sins of brethren for which we are not commanded to pray; lest, through unskilfulness on our part, divine Scripture should seem to contradict itself (a thing which cannot happen). But whether, as we are not to pray for certain parties, so we are also to pray against some, has not yet become sufficiently evident. For it is said in general, “Bless, and curse not;” and again, “Recompense to no man evil for evil.”225 Moreover, while you do not pray for one, you do not therefore pray against him: for you may see that his punishment is certain, and his salvation altogether hopeless; and you do not pray for him, not because you hate him, but because you feel you can profit him nothing, and you do not wish your prayer to be rejected by the most righteous Judge. But what are we to think respecting those parties against whom we have it revealed that prayers were offered by the saints, not that they might be turned from their error (for in this way prayer is offered rather for them), but that final condemnation might come upon them: not as it was offered against the betrayer of our Lord by the prophet; for that, as has been said, was a prediction of things to come, not a wish for punishment: nor as it was offered by the apostle against Alexander; for respecting that also enough has been already said: but as we read in the Apocalypse of Jn of the martyrs praying that they may be avenged;226 while the well-known first martyr prayed that those who stoned him should be pardoned.

77. But we need not be moved by this circumstance. For who would venture to affirm, in regard to those white-robed saints, when they pleaded that they should be avenged, whether they pleaded against the men themselves or against the dominion of sin? For of itself it is a genuine avenging of the martyrs, and one full of righteousness and mercy, that the dominion of sin should be overthrown, under which dominion they were subjected to so great sufferings. And for its overthrow the apostle strives, saying, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.”227 But the dominion of sin is destroyed and overthrown, partly by the amendment of men, so that the flesh is brought under subjection to the spirit; partly by the condemnation of those who persevere in sin, so that they are righteously disposed of in such a way that they cannot be troublesome to the righteous who reign with Christ. Look at the Apostle Paul; does it not seem to you that he avenges the martyr Stephen in his own person, when he says: “So fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection”?228 For he was certainly laying prostrate, and weakening, and bringing into subjection, and regulating that principle in himself whence he had persecuted Stephen and the other Christians. Who then can demonstrate that the holy martyrs were not asking from the Lord such an avenging of themselves, when at the same time, in order to their being avenged, they might lawfully wish for the end of this world, in which they had endured such martyrdoms? And they who pray for this, on the one hand pray for their enemies who are curable, and on the other hand do not pray against those who have chosen to be incurable: because God also, in punishing them, is not a malevolent Torturer, but a most righteous Disposer. Without any hesitation, therefore, let us love our enemies, let us do good to those that hate us, and let us pray for those who persecute us.

Chapter XXIII.

1078 Mt 5,45
78. Then, as to the statement which follows, “that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven,”229 it is to be understood according to that rule in virtue of which Jn also says, “He gave them power to become the sons of God.”230 For one is a Son by nature, who knows nothing at all of sin; but we, by receiving power, are made sons, in as far as we perform those things which are commanded us by Him. And hence the apostolic teaching gives the name of adoption to that by which we are called to an eternal inheritance, that we may be joint-heirs with Christ.231 We are therefore made sons by a spiritual regeneration, and we are adopted into the kingdom of God, not as aliens, but as being made and created by Him: so that it is one benefit, His having brought us into being through His omnipotence, when before we were nothing; another, His having adopted us, so that, as being sons, we might enjoy along with Him eternal life for our participation. Therefore He does not say, Do those things, because ye are sons; but, Do those things, that ye may be sons.

79. But when He calls us to this by the Only-begotten Himself, He calls us to His own likeness. For He, as is said in what follows, “maketh232 His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Whether you are to understand His sun as being not that which is visible to the fleshly eyes, but that wisdom of which it is said, “She is the brightness of the everlasting light ;”233 of which it is also said, “The Sun of righteousness has arisen upon me;” and again, “But unto you that fear the name of the Lord shall the Sun of righteousness arise:”234 so that you would also understand the rain as being the watering with the doctrine of truth, because Christ hath appeared to the good and the evil, and is preached to the good and the evil. Or whether you choose rather to understand that sun which is set forth before the bodily eyes not only of men, but also of cattle; and that rain by which the fruits are brought forth, which have been given for the refreshment of the body, which I think is the more probable interpretation: so that that spiritual sun does not rise except on the good and holy; for it is this very thing which the wicked bewail in that book which is called the Wisdom of Solomon, “And the sun rose not upon us:”235 and that spiritual rain does not water any except the good; for the wicked were meant by the vineyard of which it is said “I will also command my clouds that they rain no rain upon it.”236 But whether you understand the one or the other, it takes place by the great goodness of God, which we are commanded to imitate, if we wish to be the children of God. For who is there so ungrateful as not to feel how great the comfort, so far as this life is concerned, which that visible light and the material rain bring? And this comfort we see bestowed in this life alike upon the righteous and upon sinners in common. But He does not say, “who maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good;” but He has added the word “His,” i.e. which He Himself made and established, and for the making of which He took nothing from any one, as it is written in Genesis respecting all the luminaries;237 and He can properly say that all the things which He has created out of nothing are His own: so that we are hence admonished with how great liberality we ought, according to His precept, to give to our enemies those things which we have not created, but have received from His gifts.

80. But who can either be prepared to bear injuries from the weak, in as far as it is profitable for their salvation; and to choose rather to suffer more injustice from another than to repay what he has suffered; to give to every one that asketh anything from him, either what he asks, if it is in his possession, and if it can rightly be given, or good advice, or to manifest a benevolent disposition, and not to turn away from him who desires to borrow; to love his enemies, to do good to those who hate him, to pray for those who persecute him;—who, I say, does these things, but the man who is fully and perfectly merciful?238 And with that counsel misery is avoided, by the assistance of Him who says, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”239 “Blessed,” therefore, “are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” But now I think it will be more convenient, that at this point the reader, fatigued with so long a volume, should breathe a little, and recruit himself for considering what remains in another book).

1 On the principle that Davidica intelligit, qui Davidica patitur; or, as the German couplet runs,—
“Wer den Dichter will verstehen
Muss in Dichters Lande gehen.”
2 The passage is quoted in full by Trench (p. 64). His work, St. Augustin on the Sermon on the Mount, 4th ed., London, 1881, contains an elaborate introductory essay on Augustin as an Interpreter of Scripture.His use of allegory is considered in a separate chapter (iv). An older work is by Clausen: Augustinus, Sac. Script. Interpres, pp. 267, Berol. 1828).
1 Similabo. The Vulgate, conforming more closely to the Greek, has assimilabitur, “shall be likened.”
2 Offenderunt; the Vulgate has irruerunt.
3 The Vulgate, more closely conforming to the Greek, has similis erit.
4 The main purpose of the Sermon on the Mount has been variously stated. Augustin regards it as a perfect code of morals. Tholuck (Die Bergpredigt) calls it “the Magna Charta of the kingdom of heaven.” Lange says, “The grand fundamental idea is to present the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven in its relation to that of the Old Testament theocracy.” Geikie declares it to be the “formal inauguration of the kingdom of God and the Magna Charta of our faith.” Edersheim regards it as presenting “the full delineation of the ideal man of God, of prayer, and of righteousness; in short, of the inward and outward manifestation of discipleship.” Meyer (Com. 6th ed. p. 210) says that the aim of Jesus is, as the One who fulfils the Law and the Prophets, to present the moral conditions of participation in the Messianic kingdom. Weiss (Leben Jesu) speaks of it as being “as little an ethical discourse as a new proclamation of law. It is nothing else than an announcement of the kingdom of God, in which is visible everywhere the purpose of Jesus to distinguish between its righteousness and the righteousness revealed in the Old Testament as well as that taught by the teachers of his day.”
The Sermon on the Mount is a practical discourse, containing little of what, in the strict sense, may be termed the credenda of Christianity. It is the fullest statement of the nature and obligations of citizenship in God’s kingdom. It is noteworthy for its omissions as well as for its contents. No reference is made to a priesthood, a ritual, sacred places, or offerings. There is almost a total absence of all that is sensuous and external. It deals with the motives and affections of the inner man, and so comes into comparison and contrast with the Mosaic law as well as with the Pharisaic ceremonialism of the Lord’s Day. The moral grandeur of the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount has been acknowledged by believer and sceptics alike. Renan (Life of Jesus) says, “The Sermon on the Mount will never be surpassed.” On the 15th of October, 1852, two weeks before he died, Daniel Webster wrote and signed his name to the following words, containing a testimony to this portion of Scripture, which he also ordered placed upon his tombstone: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.… My heart has assured me and reassured me that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be a divine reality. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be a merely human production. This belief enters into the very depth of my conscience. The whole history of man proves it” (Curtis, Life of Webster, 2,p. 684).
The relation which the reports of Matthew and Lc (vi. 20-49) sustain to each other is ignored by Augustin here (who, except in rare cases, omits all critical discussion), but is discussed in his Harmony of the Gospels, 2,19. The agreements are numerous. The differences are striking, and concern the matter, the arrangement, the language, and the setting of the sermon. Matthew has a hundred and seven verses, Lc thirty. Matthew has seven (or eight) beatitudes, Lc but four, and adds four woes which Matthew omits. According to the first evangelist Jesus spoke sitting on a mountain: according to the third evangelist He spoke standing, and in the plain. The views are, (1) Matthew and Lc give accounts of the same discourse (Origen, Chrysostom, Calvin, Tholuck, Meyer, Keil, Schaff, Weiss). (2) They report different sermons spoken at different times (Augustin not positively, Storr, Plumptre). This is not probable, as so much of the matter in both is identical: both begin with the same beatitude, and close with the same parable; and both accounts are followed with the report of the healing of the centurion’s servant. (3) The two sermons were delivered in close succession on the summit of the mountain to the disciples, and on the plain to the multitude (Lange). Alford confesses inability to reconcile the discrepancy).
5 Multas turbas. The Vulgate omits multas).
6 The Greek has the definite article). to; oźro" Some, on this ground, explain the expression to mean “mountain region.” According to the Latin tradition of the time of the Crusaders, the exact spot is the Horns of Hattin, which Dean Stanley (Sinai and Palestine Am ed Am 436) and most others adopt. The hill, which is horned like a saddle, is south-west of Capernaum, and commands a good view of the Lake of Galilee. It seems to meet the requirements of the text. Robinson says there are a dozen other hills as eligible as this one. Tholuck enlarges upon the “beautiful temple of nature in which the Lord delivered the sermon.” Matthew Henry says, “When the law was given, the Lord came down upon the mountain, now the Lord went up; then He spake in thunder and lightning, now in a still, small voice; then the people were ordered to keep their distance, now they are invited to draw near,—a blessed change!”
7 (Ps 36,6).
8 Chrysostom, Euthymius, etc., see in the expression the implication that Christ also taught by works. Tholuck, with many modern commentators, finds in it a reference to “loud and solemn utterance.”
9 (Qo 1,14,
10 (Ps 148,8,
11 1Co 8,1.
12 (Ps 111,10.
13 (Si 10,13).
14 Not the intellectually poor (Fritzsche), nor the poor in worldly goods, as we might gather from Lc (vi. 20). Roman-Catholic commentators have found here support for the doctrine of voluntary poverty (Cornelius ŕ Lapide, Maldonatus, etc).. The Emperor Julian, in allusion to this passage and others like it, said he would only confiscate the goods of Christians, that they might enter as the poor into the kingdom of heaven (Lett. xliii).. Some (Olearius, Michaelis, Paulus) have joined “in spirit” with “blessed.” Augustin explains the passage of those who are not elated or proud, taking “spirit” in an evil sense. In another place he says, “Blessed are the poor in their own spirit, rich in God’s Spirit, for every man who follows his own spirit is proud.” He then compares him who subdues his own spirit to one living in a valley which is filled with water from the hills (En. in Ps 141,4). The most explain of those who are conscious of spiritual need (Mt 11,28), and are ready to be filled with the gospel riches, as opposed to the spiritually proud, the just who need no repentance (Tholuck, Meyer, Lange, etc).. “Many are poor in the world, but high in spirit; poor and proud, murmuring and complaining, and blaming their lot. Laodicea was poor in spirituals, and yet rich in spirit; so well increased with goods as to have need of nothing. Paul was rich in spirituals, excelling most in gifts and graces and yet poor in spirit; the least of the apostles, and less than the least of all saints” (M. Henry)).
15 Hereditate possidebunt.Vulgate omits hereditate. The passage is quoted almost literally in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 3,7).
16 (Ps 142,5.
17 (Rm 12,21).
18 The order in which Augustin places this Beatitude is followed in Cod. D, and approved by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Neander, and others (not Westcott and Hort). The meek not only bear provocation, but quietly submit to God’s dealings, and comply with His designs. The temporal possession promised is one of the few temporal promises in the New Testament. The inheritance of the earth is referred to “earthly good and possessions,” by Chrysostom, Euthymius, Luther, etc.; to conquest of the world by the kingdom of God, by Neander, to the actual kingdom on this earth, first in its millennial then in its blessed state, by Alford; typically to the Messiah kingdom, by Meyer; to the land of the living beyond the heavens by Gregory of Nyssa. “Humility and meekness have been proved to be a conquering principle in the world’s history” (Tholuck)).
19 Lugentes. Greek, penqou`nte". The Vulgate, qui lugent, which Augustin follows, p. 7.
20 The mourning is a mourning over sins of their own and others (Chrysostom, etc).; too restricted, as is also Augustin’s explanation. Spiritual mourning in general (Ambrose, Jerome, Tholuck, etc). sorrow according to God (2Co 7,10). We are helped to the meaning by comparing the woe on those that laugh (Lc 6,22); that is, upon those who are satisfied with earthly things, and avoid the seriousness of repentance.
21 (Jn 4,34 Jn 4,14.
22 Ipsorum miserabitur; closer to the Greek than the Vulgate ipsi misericordiam consequentur. The same thought that underlies the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, as Augustin also says, Retract. I. 19,3.
23 Mundi corde; the Vulgate, mundo corde).
24 (Sg 1,1).
25 “Pure in heart.” “Ceremonial purity does not suffice” (Bengel). The singleness of heart which has God’s will for its aim, and follows integrity with our fellow-men (Tholuck). “Shall see God:” the most infinite communion with God (Tholuck). The promise is fulfilled even here (Lange, Alford, Schaff, etc).. It concerns only the beatific vision in the spiritual body (Meyer). Not a felicity to the impure to see God (Henry). Comp. 1Jn 3,2,Ap 22,4, etc.. Augustin has a brilliant description of the future vision of God in City of God (this series, vol. 2,pp. 507-509).
26 (Lc 2,14,
27 The “peacemakers” not only establish peace within themselves as Augustin, encouraged by the Latin word, explains, but diffuse peace around about them,—heal the alienations and discords of others, and bring about reconciliations in the world; not merely peaceful, but peacemakers. “In most kingdoms those stand highest who make war: in the Messiah’s kingdom the crowning beatitude respects those who make peace.” The expressions will be remembered, “peace of God” (Ph 4,7); “peace of Christ” (Col 3,15); “God of peace” (Rm 15,33), etc. “If the peacemakers are blessed, woe to the peacebreakers!” (M. Henry)).
28 “In the eighth beatitude the other seven are only summed up under the idea of the righteousness of the kingdom in its relation to those who persecute it; while the ninth is a description of the eighth, with reference to the relation in which these righteous persons stand to Christ” (Lange).
29 (Rm 8,35,
30 (Is 11,2-3.
31 (Rm 11,20,
32 Augustin follows the Septuagint, which has “piety” instead of “the fear of the Lord” in the last clause of Is 11,2).
33 (Is 64,4 and 1Co 2,9,
34 This is guarded against misconstruction in the Retract. I. 19,1.
35 Multa; Vulgate, copiosa.
36 Anima ecclesiastica.
37 (Ps 45,13,
38 (Rm 5,3-5.
39 (Ha 2,4 and Rm 1,17).
40 (Rm 13,10,
41 (Col 1,24,
42 Maledicere.
43 Malum dicere.
44 Verum. The Vulgate more literally hasbene.
45 (Jn 8,48,
46 The Vulgate, following the Greek, has bonus,—good man.
47 Chap. 7,12.
48 “It is not the suffering but the cause, that makes men martyrs.” For, says Augustin in another place (En. in Ps 34,23), if the suffering made the martyr, every mine would be full of martyrs, every chain drag them, every one beheaded with the sword be crowned. They who suffer for righteousness’ sake, suffer for Christ’s sake.
49 (Gn 3,19,
50 (Ph 3,20,
51 “A warning against pride” (Schaff).
52 Infatuatum fuerit; Vulgate, evanuerit.
53 Others follow Augustin in regarding the connection of this verse and the next with the preceding one as very close. All the more must they refuse to yield to persecution, as they have a function in the world which is well represented by salt and light (Weizsäcker, Meyer, etc).. The function of salt is to preserve and to season. With it Elisha healed the unwholesome water (2R 2,21). The use of salt in the sacrifices is, no doubt, alluded to (Tholuck). It becomes savourless. Dr. Thomson says (Land and Book, 2,43), “It is a well-known fact that the salt in this country (gathered from the marshes in dry weather), when in contact with the ground, or exposed to air and sun, does become insipid and useless.” The disciples are appointed to communicate the truth and moral grace, before spoken of in the Beatitudes, to counteract the error and corruption m the earth. “Earth” not to be confined to “society as then existing, the definite form the world then presented” (Lange), but to mankind in general, as Augustin below. “Wherewith shall it be salted” does not imply that those who have once fallen cannot be reclaimed (Alford). The comment of Grotius is good: “Ipsi emendare alios debebent, non autem exspectare ut ab aliis ipsi emendarentur” (“They ought to improve others, not expect to be themselves improved by others”)).
54 Lumen, also used for a luminary; Vulgate, lux. In a lower and derivative sense are the disciples “the light,” etc. (Alford), deriving their light-giving quality from Him who is the “Light of the world” (Jn 8,12), so that they become “lights in the world” (Ph 2,15). Augustin (Sermon, ccclxxx).: Johannes lumen illuminatum, Christus lumen illuminans).
55 “The influence of salt is internal, of light external: hence the element in which they work, the earth and the world, both referring to mankind; the latter more to its organized external form” (Schaff).
56 Constituta; Vulgate, posita. The city was probably visible. Some have thought of the village on Mount Tabor, others of an ancient fortress, predecessor of the present Safed (Dean Stanley, Thomson); certainly not Jerusalem (Weizsäcker).
57 Lucerna.
58 The Greek has the definite article to;n movdion.
59 (2Co 5,10). Recipiat unusquisque quae gessit in corpore. Vulgate, referat unusquisque propria corporis, prout gessit, etc.
60 (Mt 7,2,
61 (Jn 3,34 which words, however, are, as Augustin subsequently observed (Retract. I. 19,3), applicable only to Christ.
62 Candelabrum.
63 Caedens; Vulgate, verberans.
64 (1Co 9,26-27). Ne forte aliis predicans…invenir. Vulgate, (Ne forte cum aliis praedicaverim…efficir.
65 Lumen; Vulgate, lux. Christ presupposes His righteousness to have become the principle of their life. “They were to stand forth openly and boldly with the message of the New Testament” ( Lange).
66 (Ga 1,10,
67 (Ps 53,5,
68 (Ga 5,26,
69 Chap. 6,4.
70 (Mt 9,8).
71 (Ga 1,23-24). Vastabat…glorificabant; Vulgate, expugnabat…clarificabant.
72 Here begins the second part of the Sermon. In it our Lord sets forth His relation as a lawgiver to the Mosaic law, especially a currently interpreted according to the letter only (Meyer, Alford etc)..
73 Veni; Greek, h|lqon.
74 A decisive assertion off authority). Asseveratio gravissima ei propria, qui per se ipsum et per suam veritatem asseverat (Bengel). The prophet’s most emphatic statement was, “Thus saith the Lord.” Christ speaks in His own name, as the fount of authority (v. 20 and often: Jn 3,3, 14,12, etc)..
75 “Christ’s words are decisive against all those who would set aside the Old Testament as without significance, or inconsistent with the New Testament” (Alford). Christ declares the New to be rooted in the Old; its consummation, not its destruction. The essence and purport of the law, the “whole law,” was fulfilled by Him (Meyer). Theophylact well compares the law to a sketch, which Christ (like the painter) does not destroy, but fills out.
76 Sic; Greek, ouvto"; Vulgate, hic).
77 “With all their care, they had not understood the true spirit off the law” (Schaff). The rest of the Sermon is largely a comment on this verse, Christ giving His interpretation of the law, and the righteousness following upon its observance; showing that the purport goes beyond the external act of obedience to the purpose of the heart, and that in the external act of obedience the real purport might be ignored).
78 Sine causa. The weight of critical evidence is against this clause, which is omitted by Tischendorf, Westcott, and Hort, the Vulgate and the Revised Version.
79 The “judgment” (krivsi") was the local court of seven, which every community was enjoined to have (Deut. xvi. 18). The “council” was the Sanhedrin, consisting ot seventy-two members, sitting in Jerusalem. The “gehenna” was the vale of Hinnom, on the confines of Jerusalem, where sacrifices were offered to Moloch, and which became the place for refuse and the burning of dead bodies. In the New Testament it is equivalent to “hell.”
80 R,iÔaca,/iÔ
 is from the Chald). aqyr
, and is a term of contempt equivalent to empty-headed (Thayer’s Lexicon). Trench translates, “Oh, vain man!”
81 It is important “to keep in mind that there is no distinction in kind between these punishments, only of degree.The ‘judgment0’ (krivsi") inflicted death by the sword, the Sanhedrin death by stoning, and the disgrace of the gehenna followed as an intensification of death; but the punishment is one and the same,—death. So also in the subject of the similitude. All the punishments are spiritual; all result in eternal death, but with various degrees, as the degrees of guilt have been” (Alford)).
82 Augustin helps us to understand how the word ejkh` (without cause) in the preceding clause crept into some of the Mss. In Retract. I. xix. 4 he makes the critical note and correction: “Codices graeci non habent sine causa.
83 (Ga 3,1,
84 Obtuleris; Vulgate, offers.
85 Ep 4,26.
86 The performance of an act of worship does not atone for an offence against a fellow-man. The duties toward God never absolve from man’s duties to his neighbour). Inter rem sacram magis subit recordatio offensarum, quam in strepitu negotiorum (Bengel)).
87 (1Co 3,17,
88 (Ep 3,17). In interiore homine, a different construction from the Greek, which has ei`" with the accusative. So Vulgate,in interiorem hominem).
89 “Discharge of duty to men does not absolve from duty to God.” The passage has strong bearing upon the relation of morality an religion.
90 Benevolus; Vulgate, consentiens. What is matter of prudence in a civil case, becomes matter of life and death in spiritual things. The Lord does not intend to inculcate simply a law of worldly prudence as asserted by a few modern commentators.
91 (Jn 5,22,
92 (Mt 4,11,
93 (Mt 8,12,
94 (Mt 25,23).
95 The word translated “farthing” means literally “a fourth part” and on this original sense Augustin’s second interpretation is based.
96 (Gn 3,19,
97 Universalists have quoted the passage to prove the doctrine that punishment will not be endless, others in favor of purgatory. The main idea is the inexorable rigor of the divine justice against the impenitent. “The whole tone of the passage is that of one who seeks to deepen the sense of danger, not to make light of it; to make men feel that they cannot pay their debt, though God may forgive it freely” (Plumptre)).
98 (Ps 110,1,
99 (1Co 15,25,
100 “The devil” (Clemens Alex).; “conscience” (Euthymius, Zig).; “the man who has done the injury” (Meyer, Tholuck Lange, Trench, etc).
101 (2Co 5,10). Exhiberi; Vulgate, manifestari.
102 (Lc 15,7,
103 (Jc 4,6,
104 (Si 10,12-13.
105 (Rm 5,10).
106 (Ps 139,8-10.
107 The Greek pro;" to; e`piqumh`sai refers to sin of intent. “The particle proJ indicates the mental aim” (Tholuck, Meyer, etc).. So Augustin, rightly: “Qui hoc fine et hoc animo attenderit.”
108 Titillari.
109 The reading “if” has been proposed by some.
110 (Gn 3,
111 (1Co 11,3 and Ep 5,23,
112 (Mc 5,41,
113 Juvenis; Vulgate, adolescens.
114 (Lc 7,14,
115 (Jn 11,33-44.
116 (Col 3,5 and Ep 5,5,
117 (Rm 7,24-25.
118 Lugentes; Vulgate, qui lugent.
119 Eat; Vulgate, mittatur.
120 Not literally (Fritzsche). Excision of the members would not of itself destroy the lust of the heart.
121 (So Meyer et al. What Robert South says (Sermon on Jn 7,17) of the Sermon on the Mount as a whole, can certainly be applied here: “All the particulars of Mt 5,-vii. are wrapt up in the doctrine of self-denial, prescribing to the world the most inward purity of heart, and a constant conflict with all our sensual appetites and worldly interests,” etc. Augustin’s interpretation is correct as far as it goes, but it is too restricted. Christ does not here insist upon the renunciation of sinful lusts, but upon the evasion of occasions of sin. What is harmless and innocent of itself, when through any temperament or condition it becomes an occasion of sinning, is to be relinquished.
122 Eat. So Vulgate).
123 Per alias nuptias, quarum potestatem dat divortium (“by another marriage, power of which divorce gives.”—Bengel). So also Meyer, Alford, etc.
124 Solutam a viro…moechatur; Vulgate, dimissam…adulterat.
125 (Mt 19,8,
126 (Rm 7,2-3.
127 In conjugio…mulierem; Vulgate, matrimonio…uxorem.
128 In conjugio…mulierem; Vulgate, matrimonio…uxorem.
129 (1Co 7,10-11.
130 (1Co 7,29,
131 (Lc 14,26,
132 (Mt 11,12). Qui vim faciunt diripiunt illud; Vulgate, violenti rapiunt illud).
133 (Ga 3,28 and Col 3,11,
134 Uxores ducent; Vulgate, nubentur.
135 (Mt 22,30,
136 (1Co 15,53-54.
137 (Lc 14,26,
138 (Mt 6,25,
139 (Jn 10,15).
140 Augustin expresses himself (Retract.I. 19,6) as having misgivings about his own explanation of this matter here. He advises readers to go to his other writings on the subject of marriage and divorce, or to the works of other writers. He says all sin is not fornication (omne peccatum fornicatio non est); and to determine which sins are fornication, and when a wife may be dismissed, is a most broad (latebrosissima) question. He calls the question a most difficult (difficillimam) one, and says, “But verily I feel that I have not come to the perfect conclusion of this matter (imo non me pervenisse ad hujus rei perfectionem sentio.” Retract. 2,57). Some of his treatises on the marriage relation: De Bono Conjugali; De Conjugiis Adulterinis; De Nuptiis et Concupiscientia.
141 (Jn 8,11). Vide deinceps ne pecces; Vulgate, jam amplius noli peccare.
142 Ignoscitur, lit. “is pardoned.”
143 Lit. “’it is pardoned.”
144 (1Co 7,14, conforms to the approved reading in the Greek text: in uxore…in fratre. Vulgate, per mulierem,…per virum.(See Revised Version).
145 (Lc 10,35,
146 Modern commentators do not spring this question, agreeing that the fornication referred to is of the wife. Paulus, Döllinger (in Christ. u. Kirche, to which Professor Conington replied in Cont. Rev., May, 1869) think the fornication of the woman was committed before her marriage. Plumptre also prefers the reference to ante-nuptial sin.
147 (Rm 2,1).
148 avpolelumevnhn; that is, one divorced unlawfully who has not been guilty of fornication (so Meyer very positively, Stier et. al., Alford hesitatingly). This explanation might seem to limit re-marriage to such an one, inasmuch as the essence of the marriage bond has not been touched (So Alford et. al).).
149 That is, innocent or guilty, she cannot marry without committing adultery. The Roman-Catholic Church forbids divorces, but permits an indefinite separation a mensa et toro (“from table and bed”).
150 Abraham taking Hagar with Sarah’s consent).
151 About the year 343; for Augustin wrote this treatise about the year 393).
152 The law permitted divorce for “some uncleanness” (Dt 24,1). In the time of Christ divorce was allowed on trivial grounds. While Schammai interpreted the Deuteronomic prescription of moral uncleanness or adultery, Hillel interpreted it to include physical uncleanness or unattractiveness. A wife’s cooking her husband’s food unpalatably he declared to be a legitimate cause for dissolution of the marriage bond. Opposing the loose views current, Christ declared that it was on account of the “hardness of their hearts” that Moses had suffered them to put away their wives, and asserted adultery to be the only allowable reason for divorce. The question whether the innocent party may marry, is beset with great difficulties in view of this passage and Mt 19,9. The answer turns somewhat upon the construction of the passage. Augustin here, the Council of Trent (and so the Roman-Catholic Church), Weiss, Mansel, and others hold that all marriage of a divorced person is declared illegal. In another place (De Conj. Adult. 1,9) Augustin says, “Why, I say, did the Lord interject ‘the cause of fornication,0’ and not say rather, in a general way, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another commits adultery0’?…I think, because the Lord wishes to mention that which is greater. For who will deny that it is a greater adultery to marry another when the divorced wife has not committed fornication than when any one divorces his wife and then marries another? Not because this is not adultery, but because it is a lesser sort.” The Apost. Constitutions (vii. 2) say, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, for thou dividest one flesh into two,” etc. Weiss: “Jesus everywhere takes it for granted that in the sight of God there is no such thing as a dissolution of the marriage bond” (Leben Jesu, 1,529). President Woolsey, on the other hand, unhesitatingly declares, that, by Christ’s precepts, marriage is dissolved by adultery, so that the innocent party may marry again. According to this passage, the woman divorced on other grounds than adultery seems to be declared adulterous if she marry. According to Mt 19,9 the man who puts away his wife for adultery, seems to be permitted to marry without becoming adulterous himself. According to Mc 10,12 the woman had the privilege in that day of putting away her husband, but “there is no evidence in the Hebrew Scriptures that the woman could get herself divorced from her husband.” To the able treatment of Augustin, which might seem either exceedingly fearless or mawkish at the present day, according to the stand-point of the critic, the reader would do well to read Alford and Lange on this passage; Stanley on 1Co 7, 11; and Woolsey, art. “Divorce” in Scaff-Herzog Encycl. Whatever may be the exact meaning of our Lord concerning the marriage of the innocent party, it is evident that He regards the marriage bond as profoundly sacred, and warrants the celebrant in binding the parties to marriage to be faithful one to the other “till death do you part.” He Himself said, “What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mc 10,9).
153 Jusjurandum; Vulgate, juramenta; Greek, tou` oźrkou".
154 Amplius; Vulgate, abundantius.
155 (Ga 1,20,
156 (2Co 11,31,
157 (Rm 1,9,
158 (1Co 15,31,
159 (Mt 6,13,
160 Revised Version, Evil One.So Euthymius, Zig. (auctorem habet diabolum), Chrysostom, Theophylact, Fritzsche, Keim, Meyer, Plumptre, etc. The interpretation of Augustin is shared by Luther, Bengel, De Wette, Tholuck, Ewald, etc).
161 Augustin is somewhat perplexed about the meaning, but decides the injunction to be directed against the abuse of the oath, not to forbid it wholly. The oath was permitted by the law (Lev. xxii. 11), was to be held sacred (Nb 30,2), and to be made in God’s name (Dt 6,13). It was customary under the Old Testament to swear (Gn xxiv. 37, Jos 9,15 perhaps only solemn affirmation), and in the name of the Lord (1S 20,42 Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Chrysostom, etc).. The Anabaptists, Mennonites, and Quakers understand the precept to forbid all oaths, even in the civil court. “Christendom, if it were fully conformed to Christ’s will, as it should be, would tolerate no oaths whatever” (Meyer). “The proper state of Christians is to require no oaths” (Alford). If interpreted as a definite prohibition of all swearing, the passage comes into conflict with Christ’s own example (Mt 26,63), and the apostle’s conduct in the passages quoted by Augustin. The meaning has been restricted to rash and frivolous oaths on the street and in the market (Keim); in daily conversation (Carr, Camb. Bible for Schools). In the ideal Christian community, where truth and honesty prevail, oaths will be superfluous: the simple asseverations, “Yea, nay,” will be sufficient. To this, Christ’s precept ultimately looks. But He, no doubt, had in mind the widespread profanity of His day, and the current opinion that only oaths containing the name of God were binding (Lightfoot cites from the Rabbinical books to this effect). All unnecessary appeals to God, as well as careless and profane swearing, are forbidden, as coming either from bad passions within or a want of reverence. “Prohibition would be repeal of the Mosaic law” (Plumptre). “All strengthening of the simple ‘Yea and nay0’ is occasioned by the presence of sin and Satan in the world. There is no more striking proof of the existence of evil than the prevalence of the foolish, low, useless habit of swearing. It could never have arisen if men did not believe each other to be liars,” etc. (Schaff). “Men use their protestations because they are distrustful one of another. An oath is physic, which supposes disease” (M. Henry). When the oath is performed for the “sake of ethical interests, as when the civil authority demands it,” as seems to be necessary and safe for society in its present unsanctified condition, the precept does not interfere (Köstlin, art. “Oath,” Schaff-Herzog Encyl., Meyer, Wuttke, Alford, Tholuck, etc).. An interesting imitation of the Rabbinical casuistry above referred to was practised by the crafty and subtle Louis XI. Scott says (Introd. to Quentin Durward), “He admitted to one or two peculiar forms of oath the force of a binding obligation which he denied to all others, strictly preserving the secret; which mode of swearing he really accounted obligatory, as one of the most valuable of State secrets.”
162 (1Co 2,15,
163 (Gn 3,19).
164 Pro fide et societate.
165 Adversus malum; Vulgate, malo.
166 Vestimentum; Vulgate, pallium.
167 Omni petenti te, da; Vulgate, qui petit a te, etc).
168 With Augustin, Calvin, Tholuck, Ewald, Lange construe this as neuter, evil; Chrysostom, Theophylact, the devil; De Wette, Meyer, Alford, Plumptre, as also the Revised Version, the man who does evil. Renan says the practice of this doctrine put down slavery: “It was not Spartacus who suppressed slavery, but rather was it Blandina” (“Ce n’est pas Spartacus qui a supprimč l’esclavage, c’est bien plűtô Blandine”).
169 Imbecillitate.
170 Toleratis; Vulgate, sustinetis.
171 (2Co 11,20-21.
172 (2Co 12,15,
173 (Ac 22,25).
174 Principi sacerdotum; Vulgate, summum sacerdotem).
175 (Ac 23,3-5.
176 Interpreted by modern commentators usually of temporary forgetfulness, or, what is much better, failure to recognise through infirmity of vision).
177 English version, “fixed”—Ps lvii. 7.
178 Exprobra de malo; Vulgate, testimonium perhibe de malo.
179 (Jn 18,23,
180 The coat or tunic was the under-garment.The cloak, or pallium, was the outer-garment, and the more precious.
181 English version, “coat.”
182 English version, “’cloak.”
183 The Greek word ajggareuvw is derived from the Persian, to press one into service, as a courier to bear despatches. (See Thayer, Lexicon)).
184 Exemplum citatur injuriae privatae, forensis, curialis (Bengel)).
185 Vindicta.
186 Pro eis qui vos persequuntur; Vulgate, pro persequentibus.
187 (Pr 3,12, the LXX. English version: “even as a father the son in whom he delighteth,” following the Hebrew.
188 Nescit; Vulgate, non cognovit.
189 (Lc 12,47-48).
190 (1R 18,40,
191 (2R 1,10,
192 (Lc 9,52-56.
193 (Ac 2,1-4.
194 i.e., The Manicheans.
195 (1Co 5,5).
196 “To give everything to every one—the sword to the madman, the alms to the impostor, the criminal request to the temptress—would be to act as the enemy of others and ourselves” (Alford). Paul’s willingness to spend and be spent illustrates a proper conformity to the precept.
197 (2Co 9,7).
198 This section, which concerns the law of retaliation, grew out of a rule of every-day life which the Pharisees constructed upon a principle of judicature laid down, Ex 21,24 (Tholuck). The spirit, not the exact letter, of the illustrations is to be observed, and, when the spirit of the precept would demand it, the exact letter. Christians are taught to bear witness by enduring, yielding. and giving. “’Sin is to be conquered by being made to feel the power of goodness.” Christ gave a good example at His trial, without following the letter of His precept here; and Paul followed Him (1Co 4,12-13).
199 Augustin, with the best Greek text, omits et calumniantibus vos (“and despitefully use you”) of the Vulgate.
200 Jubet; Vulgate, facit (with the Greek).
201 Dilexeritis; Vulgate, diligitis.
202 Hoc ipsum; Vulgate, hoc; Greek, to; aujtov.
203 Qui est in coelis; Vulgate, coelestis (see (Revised Version).
204 The first part of the Lord’s quotation is found in Lv 19,18; these words, whatever may be said about the sanction, real or apparent, of revenge and triumph over an enemy’s fall in the Old Testament, are not found there. Bengel well says “pessima glossa” (“wretched gloss”),—a gloss of the Pharisees, “bearing plainly enough the character of post-exilic Judaism in its exclusiveness toward all surrounding nations” ( Weiss). Centuries after Christ spoke these words, Maimonides gives utterance to this narrow feeling of hate: “If a Jew see a Gentile fall into the sea, let him by no means take him out; for it is written, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour’s blood,0’ but this is not thy neighbour.” The separation of the Jews, demanded by their theocratic position, was the explanation in part—not an excuse—for such feeling towards people of other nationalities. Heathen peoples had the same feeling towards enemies. “It was the celebrated felicity of Sulla; and this was the crown of Xenophon’s panegyric of Cyrus the Younger, that no one had done more good to his friends or more mischief to his enemies.” Plautus said, “Man is a wolf to the stranger” (“homo homini ignoto lupus est”). The term “stranger” in Greek means “enemy.” But common as this philosophy was to the pre-Christian world, the Jew was specially known for his hatred of all not of his own nationality (Juvenal, Sat. 14,104, etc).. The “enemy” referred to in the passage is not a national enemy ( Keim) but a personal one (Weiss, Meyer, etc).. Our Lord subsequently defined who was to be understood by the term “neighbour” in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lc 10,36)).
205 (Ps 69,22,
206 (Ps 109,9,
207 (Rm 12,14,
208 (Mt 11,20-24 and Lc 10,13-15.
209 (2Tm 4,14, here again follows the better text than the Textus Receptus; so also Vulgate, reddet. See Revised Version.
210 See above chap. 19,58.
211 (Ps 2,1, English version employs the present tense.
212 (Ps 22,18,
213 (1Jn 5,16,
214 See note p.
215 (1Co 7,14-15.
216 Ignosce; Vulgate, dimitte.
217 (Lc 23,34).
218 (Ac 7,60,
219 Sermonibus; Vulgate, verbis.
220 (2Tm 4,14-16.
221 (Mt 18,21 Mt 17,3,
222 (Mt 27,4-5.
223 (Mt 10,25 Mt 10,
224 (Mt 12,24-33.
225 (Rm 12,14 Rm 12,17).
226 (Ap 6,10,
227 (Rm 6,12,
228 (1Co 9,26-27). Sevituti subjicio; Vulgate, in servitutem redigo.
229 “Not in power or wisdom,—which was the cause of man’s fall, and leads evermore to the same,—but in love” (Plumptre).
230 (Jn 1,12,
231 Rm 8,17 and Ga 4,5.
232 Facit (above, jubet). Bengel’s comment is good: “Magnifica appellatio. Ipse et fecit solem et gubernat et habet in sua unius potestate” (“Splendid designation. He made the sun, governs it, and has it in His own power”).
233 (Sg 7,26,
234 (Ml 4,24,
235 (Sg 5,6).
236 (Is 5,6,
237 (Gn 1,16,
238 “Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek text has here the future: esesqe teleioi, “Ye therefore shall be perfect” (Revised Version). Meyer gives the verb the imperative sense; Alford, Lange, and others include the imperative sense. The imperative force adds not a little to the plausibility of deriving the doctrine of perfectibility on earth, or complete “sanctification,” from the passage, as the Pelagians (whom Augustin elsewhere combats) and some Methodist commentators (Whedon, etc).. Alford, Trench, etc., deny that the verse gives any countenance to the doctrine. As regards the nature of the perfection, Bengel sententiously says, “in amore, erga omnes” (“in love, toward all” See Col 3,14). It seems “to refer chiefly to the perfection of the divine love” (Mansel); so also Bleek, Meyer. Weiss (whose Leben Jesu, i. 532-534, see) finds an allusion to the fundamental command of the Old Testament “Be ye holy,” etc. In the place of the divine holiness, or God’s elevation above all uncleanness of the creature, is substituted the divine perfection, whose essence is all-comprehensive and unselfish love; and in the place of the God separated from the sinful people, appears He who in love condescends to them and brings them into likeness with Himself as His children. The last verse of the Sermon as reported by Lc (vi. 36) confirms the idea that the perfection is of love: “Be ye merciful, as your Father which is in heaven is merciful.” Commenting on this verse, Dr. Schaff says, “Instruction in morality cannot rise above this. Having thus led us up to our heavenly Father as the true standard, our Lord, by a natural transition, passes to our religious duties, i.e. duties to our heavenly Father.”
239 (Os 6,6).

Book II (Mt 6-7). On the latter part of our lord’s sermon on the mount, contained in the sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew.

Augustin on the mounts 1062