Augustine on NT 133



On the words of the gospel of Jn 7,6 etc., Where Jesus said that He was not going up unto the feast, and notwithstanding went up.

1). I Purpose by the Lord’s assistance to treat of this section1 of the Gospel which has just been read; nor is there a little difficulty here, lest the truth be endangered, and falsehood glory. Not that either the truth can perish, nor falsehood triumph. Now hearken for a while what difficulty this lesson has; and being made attentive by the propounding of the difficulty, pray that I may be sufficient for its solution. “‘The Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand;”2 these it seems are the days which they observe even to this day, when they build huts.3 For this solemnity of theirs is called from the building of tabernacles; since skhnhmeans a “tabernacle, “skhnopha is the building of a tabernacle. These days were kept as feast days among the Jews; and it was called one feast day, not because it was over in one day, but because it was kept up by a continued festivity; just as the feast day of the Passover, and the feast day of unleavened bread, and notwithstanding, as is manifest, that feast is kept throughout many days. This anniversary then was at hand in Judaea, the Lord Jesus was in Galilee, where He had also been brought up, where too He had relations and kinsfolk, whom Scripture calls “His brethren.” “His brethren, therefore,” as we have heard it read, “said unto Him, Pass from hence, and go into Judaea; that Thy disciples also may see Thy works that Thou doest. For no man doeth anything in secret, and himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, manifest Thyself to the world.”4 Then the Evangelist subjoins, “For neither did His brethren believe in Him.”5 If then they did not believe in Him, the words they threw out were of envy. “Jesus answered them, My time is not yet come; but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you;but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up to this feast day. I go6 not up to this feast day, for My time is not yet accomplished.”7 Then follows the Evangelist; “When He had said these words, He Himself stayed in Galilee. But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up to the feast day, not openly, but as it were in secret.”8 Thus far is the extent of the difficulty, all the rest is clear.

2. What then is the difficulty? what makes the perplexity? what is in peril? Lest the Lord, yea, to speak more plainly, lest the Truth Itself should be thought to have lied. For if we would have it thought that He lied, the weak will receive an authority for lying. We have heard say that He lied. For those who think that He lied, speak thus, “He said that He should not go up to the feast day, and He went up.” In the first place then, let us, as far as in the press of time we can, see whether he does lie, who says a thing and does it not. For example, I have told a friend, “I will see you to-morrow;” some greater necessity occurs to hinder me; I have not on that account spokenfalsely. For when I made the promise, I meant what I said. But when some greater matter occurred, which hindered the accomplishment9 I of my promise, I had no design to lie, but I wasnot able to fulfil the promise. Lo, to my thinking I have used no labour to persuade you, buthave merely suggested to your good sense,10 that he who promises something, and doeth it not, does not lie, if, that he do it not, something has occurred to hinder the fulfilment of his promise, not to be any proof of falsehood.

3. But some one who hears me will say, “Canst thou then say this of Christ, that He either was not able to fulfil what He would, or that He did not know things to come?” Thou doest well, good is thy suggestion, right thy hint; but, O man, share with me my anxiety. Dare we to say that He lies, Who we do not dare to say is weak in power? I for my part, to the best of my thinking, as far as according to my infirmity I am able to judge, would choose that a man should be deceived in any matter rather than lie in any. For to be deceived is the portion of infirmity, to lie of iniquity. “Thou hatest, O Lord,” saith he, “all them that work iniquity.”11 And immediately after, “Thou shalt destroy all them that speak a lie.”12 Either “iniquity” and “a lie” are upon a level; or, “Thou shalt destroy,” is more than “Thou hatest.” For he who is held in hatred, is not immediately punished by destruction. But let that question be, whether there be ever a necessity to lie; for I am not now discussing that; it is a dark question, and has many lappings;13 I have not time to cut them, and to come to the quick.14 Therefore let the treatment of it be deferred to some other time; for peradventure it will be cured by the Divine assistance without any words of mine. But attend and distinguish between what I have deferred, and what I wish to treat of to-day. Whether on any occasion one may lie, this difficult and most obscure question I defer. But whether Christ lied, whether the Truth spake anything false, this, being reminded of it by the Gospel lesson, have I undertaken to-day.

4. Now what the difference is between being deceived, and lying, I will briefly state. He is deceived who thinks what he says to be true, and therefore says it, because he thinks it true. Now if this which he that is deceived says, were true, he would not be deceived; if it were not only true, but he also knew it to be true, he would not lie. He is deceived then, in that itis false, and he thinks it true; but he only says it because he thinks it true. The error lies in human infirmity, not in the soundness of the conscience. But whosoever thinks it to be false, and asserts it as true, he lies. See, my Brethren, draw the distinction, ye who have been brought up in the Church, instructed in the Lord’s Scriptures, not uninformed, nor simple,15 nor ignorant16 men. For there are among you men learned and erudite, and not indifferently instructed in all kinds of literature; and with those of you who have not learnt that literature which is called liberal, it is more that ye have been nourished up in the word of God. If I labour in explaining what I mean, do ye aid me both by the attention of your hearing, and the thoughtfulness17 of your meditations. Nor will ye aid, unless ye are aided. Wherefore pray we mutually for one another, and look equally for our common Succour. He is deceived, who whereas what he says is false, thinks it to be true; but he lies, who thinks a thing to be false, and gives it out as true, whether it be true or false. Observe what I have added, “whether it be true or false;” yet he who thinks it to be false, and asserts it as true, lies; he aims to deceive. For what good is it to him, that it is true? He all the while thinks it false, and says it as if it were true. What he says is true in itself, it is in itself true; with regard to him it is false, his conscience does not hold that which he is saying; he thinks in himself one thing to be true, he gives out another for truth. His is a double heart, not single; he does not bring out that which he has in it. The double heart has long since been condemned. “With deceitful lips in a heart and a heart have they spoken evil things.”18 Had it been enough to say, “in the heart have they spoken evil things,” where is the “deceitful lips”?19 What is deceit? When one thing is done, another pretended. Deceitful lips are not a single heart; and because not a single heart, therefore” in a heart and a heart;” therefore “in a heart” twice, because the heart is double.

5. How then think we of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He lied? If it is a less evil to be deceived than to lie, dare we to say that He lies who we dare not to say is deceived? But He is neither deceived, nor doth He lie; but in very deed as it is written (for of Him is it understood, of Him ought it to be understood),” Nothing false is said unto the King, and nothing false shall proceed out of His mouth.” If by King here he meant any man, let us prefer Christ the King, to a man-king. But if, which is the truer understanding of it, it is Christ of whom he spake, if I say, as is the truer understanding of it, it is Christ of whom he spake (for to Him indeed nothing false is said, in that He is not deceived; from His Mouth nothing false proceedeth, in that He doth not lie); let us look how we are to understand the section of the Gospel, and letus not make the20 pitfall of a lie, as it were, on heavenly authority. But it is most absurd to be seeking to explain the truth, and to prepare a place for a lie. What art thou teaching me, I ask thee, who art explaining this text to me, what wouldest thou teach me? I do not know whether you would dare to say, “Falsehood.” For if you should dare to say this, I turn away mine ears, and fasten them up with thorns, that if you should try to force your way, I might through their very pricking make away without the explanation of the Gospel. Tell me what thou wouldest wish to teach me, and thou hast resolved the difficulty. Tell me, I pray thee; lo, here I am; mine ears are open, my heart is ready, teach me. But I ask, what? I will not travel through many things. What art thou going to teach me? Whatsoever learning thou art about to bring forward, whatsoever strength to show in disputation, tell me this one thing only, one of two things I ask; art thou going to teach me truth or falsehood? What do we suppose he will answer lest one depart; lest while he is open-mouthed and making an effort to bring out his words, I forthwith leave him: what will he promise but truth? I am listening, standing, expecting, most earnestly expecting. See here, he who promised that he will teach me truth, insinuates falsehood concerning Christ. How then shall he teach truth, who would say that Christ is false? If Christ is false, can I hope that thou wilt tell me the truth?

6. Consider again. What does he say? Hath Christ spoken falsely? Where, I ask thee? “Where He says, ‘I go not up to the feast day;’ and went up.” For my part, I should wish thoroughly to examine this place, if so be we may see that Christ did not speak falsely. Yea rather, seeing that I have no doubt that Christ did not speak falsely, I will either thoroughly examine this passage and understand it, or, not understanding it, I will defer it. Yet that Christ spoke falsely will I never say. Grant that I have not understood it; I will depart in my ignorance. For better is it with piety to be ignorant, than with madness to pronounce judgment. Notwithstanding we are trying to examine, if so be by His assistance, who is the Truth, we may find something, and be found something ourselves, and this something will not be in the Truth a lie. For if in searching I find a lie, I find not a something but a nothing. Let us then look where it is thou sayest that Christ lied. He will say, “In that He said, ‘I go not up to this feast,’ and went up.” Whence dost thou know that He said so? What if I were to say, nay, not I, but any one, for God forbid that I should say it; what if another were to say, “Christ did not say this;” whereby dost thou refute him, whereby wilt thou prove it? Thou wouldest open the book, find the passage, point it out to the man, yea with great confidence force the book upon him if he resisted, “Hold it, mark, read, it is the Gospel you have in your hands.” But why, I ask thee, why dost thou so rudely accost21 this feeble one? Do not be so eager; speak more composedly, more tranquilly. See, it is the Gospel I have in my hands; and what is there in it? He answers: “The Gospel declares that Christ said what thou deniest.” And wilt thou believe that Christ said it, because the Gospel declares it? “Decidedly for that reason,” says he. I marvel exceedingly how thou shouldest say that Christ lieth, anti the Gospel doth not lie. But test haply when I speak of the Gospel, thou shouldest think of the book itself, and imagine the parchment and ink to be the Gospel, see what the Greek word means; Gospel is “a good messenger,” or “a good message.” The messenger then doth not lie, and doth He who sent him, lie? This messenger, the Evangelist to wit, to give his name also, this John who wrote this, did he lie concerning Christ, or say the truth? Choose which you will, I am ready to hear you on either side. If he spake falsely, you have no means of proving that Christ spake those words. If he said the truth, truth cannot flow from the fountain of falsehood. Who is the Fountain? Christ: let John be the stream. The stream comes to me, and you say to me, “Drink securely;” yea, whereas you alarm me as to the Fountain Himself, whereas you tell me there is falsehood in the Fountain, you say to me, “Drink securely.” What do I drink? What said John, that Christ spake falsely? Whence came John? From Christ. Is he who came from Him, to tell me truth, when He from whom he came lied? I have read in the Gospel plainly, “Jn lay on the Lord’s Breast;”22 but I conclude that he drank in truth. What saw he as he lay on the Lord’s Breast? What drank he in? what, but that which he poured forth? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. That which was made in Him was life, and the Life wasthe Light of men; And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended It not;”23 nevertheless It shineth, and though I chance to have some obscurity, and cannot thoroughly comprehend It, still It shineth. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John; he came to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not the Light:” who? John: who? John the Baptist. For of him saith John the Evangelist, “He was not the Light;” of whom the Lord saith, “He was a burning, and a shining lamp.”24 But a lamp can be lighted, and extinguished. What then? whence drawest thou the distinction? of what place art thou enquiring? He to whom the lamp bare witness, “was the True Light.”25 Where John added, “the True,” there art thou looking out for a lie. But hear still the same Evangelist John pouring forth what he had drunk in; “And we beheld,” saith he, “His glory.” What did he behold? what glory beheld he? “The glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”26 See then, see, if we ought not haply to restrain weak or rash disputings, and to presume nothing false of the truth, to give to the Lord what is His due; let us give glory to the Fountain, that we may fill ourselves securely. “Now God is true, but every man a liar.”27 What is this? God is fill; every man is empty; if he will be filled, let him come to Him That is full. “Come unto Him, and be enlightened.”28 Moreover, if man is empty, in that he is a liar, and he seeks to be filled, and with haste and eagerness runs to the fountain, he wishes to be filled, he is empty. But thou sayest, “Beware of the fountain, there is falsehood there.” What else sayest thou, but “there is poison there “?

7. “You have already,” he says, “said all, already have you checked, already chastened me. But tell me how He did not speak falsely who said, ‘I go not up,’ and went up?”will tell you, if I can; but think it no little matter, that if I have not established you in the truth, I have yet kept you back from rashness. I will nevertheless tell you, what I imagine you know even already, if you remember the words which I have set forth to you. The words themselves solve the difficulty. That feast was kept for many days. On this, that is this present feast day, saith He, this day, that is when they hoped, He went not up; but when He Himself resolved to go. Now mark what follows, “When He had said these words, He Himself stayed in Galilee.” So then He did not go up on that feast day. For His brethren wished that He should go first; therefore had they said, “Pass from hence into Judaea.” They did not say, “Let us pass,” as though they would be His companions; or, “Follow us into Judaea,” as though they would go first; but as though they would send Him before them. He wished that they should go before; He avoided this snare, impressing His infirmity as Man, hiding the Divinity; this He avoided, as when He fled into Egypt.29 For this was no effect of want of power, but even of truth, that He might give an example of caution; that no servant of His might say, “I do not fly, because it is disgraceful;” when haply it might be expedient to fly. As He was going to say to His disciples, “When they have persecuted you in this city, flee ye into another;”30 He gave them Himself this example. For He was apprehended, when He willed; He was born, when He willed. That they might not anticipate Him then, and announce that He was coming, and plots be prepared; He said, “I go not up to this feast day.”31 He said, “I go not up,” that He might be hid; He added “this,” that He might not lie. Something He expressed,32 something He suppressed, something He repressed; yet said He nothing false, for “nothing false proceedeth out of His Mouth.” Finally, after He had said these words, “When His brethren were gone up;”33 the Gospel declares it, attend, read what you have objected to me; see if the passage itself do not solve the difficulty, see if I have taken from anywhere else what to say. This then the Lord was waiting for, that they should go up first, that they might not announce beforehand that He was coming, “When His brethren were gone up, then went He also up to the feast day, not openly, but as it were in secret.” What is,” as it were in secret “? He acts there as if in secret. What is, “as it were in secret “? Because neither was this really in secret. For He did not really make an effort to be concealed, who had it in His Own power when He would be taken. But in that concealment, as I have said, He gave His weak disciples, who had not the power to prevent being taken when they would not, an example of being on their guard against the snares of enemies. For He went up afterwards even openly, and taught them in the temple; and some said, “‘ Lo, this is He; lo, He is teaching.’ Certainly our rulers said that they wished to apprehend Him: ‘Lo, He speaketh openly, and no one layeth hands on Him.’“34

8. But now if we turn our attention to ourselves, if we think of His Body, how that we are even He. For if we were not He, “Forasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me,”35 would not be true. If we were not He, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”36 would not be true. So then we are He, in that we are His members, in that we are His Body, in that He is our Head, in that Whole Christ is both Head and Body.37 Peradventure then He foresaw us that we were not to keep the feast days of the Jews, and this is, “I go not up to this feast day.” See neither Christ nor the Evangelist lied; of the which two if one must needs choose one, the Evangelist would pardon me, I would by no means put him that is true before the Truth Himself; I would not prefer him that was sent to Him by whom he was sent. But God be thanked, in my judgment what was obscure has been laid open. Your piety will aid me before God. Behold, I have, as I was best able, resolved the question, both concerning Christ and the Evangelist. Hold fast the truth with me as men who love it, embrace charity without contention.

1 Capitulo.
2 (Jn 7,2
3 Casas.
4 (Jn 7,3-4.
5 (Jn 7,5
6 In the Greek it is ou>pw, nondum, and so in some Latin copies (Ben. note); Griesbach and Scholz place oujk in the text, as having the authority of the Mss. D, K, most Verss., and the Fathers.
7 (Jn 7,6-8.
8 (Jn 7,9-10.
9 Fidem.
10 Prudentiam).
11 (Ps 5,5
12 (Ps 5,6
13 Sinus.
14 Vivum.
15 Rustici.
16 Idiotae.
17 Prudentia.
18 (Si 2,14 Vulgate (ii. 12, English version).
19 (Ps 12,2
20 Voraginem).
21 Conturbas.
22 (Jn 13,23
23 (Jn 1,1 etc.
24 (Jn 5,35
25 (Jn 1,9
26 (Jn 1,14).
27 (Rm 3,4
28 (Ps 33,6 Sept. (xxxiv. 5, English version).
29 (Mt 2,14
30 (Mt 10,23
31 (Jn 7,8
32 Aliquid intulit, aliquid abstulit, aliquid distulit.
33 (Jn 7,10
34 (Jn 7,25-26.
35 (Mt 25,40
36 Ac 9,4.
37 (Ep 1,22-23 1Co 12,12).


Sermon LXXXIV. [CXXXIV. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Jn 8,31 “If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples,” etc.

1). Ye know well, Beloved, that we all have One Master, and are fellow disciples under Him. Nor are we your masters, because we speak to you from this higher spot; but He is the Master of all, who dwelleth in us all. He just now spake to us all in the Gospel, and said to us, what I also am saying to you; but He saith it of us, as well of us as of you. “If ye shall continue in My word,” not of course in my word who am now speaking to you; but in His who spake just now out of the Gospel. “If ye shall continue in My word,” saith He, “ye are My disciples indeed.”1 To be a disciple, it is not enough to come, but to continue. He doth not therefore say, “If ye shall hear My word;” or, “If ye shall come to My word;” or, “If ye shall praise My word;” but observe what He said, “If ye shall continue in My word, ye are My disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall free you.”2 What shall we say, Brethren? To continue in the word of God, is it toilsome, or is it not? If it be toilsome, look at the great reward; if it be not toilsome, thou receivest the reward for nought. Continue we then in Him who continueth in us. We, ifwe continue not in Him, fall; but He if He continue not in us, hath not on that account lost anhabitation. For He skilleth to continue in Himself, who never leaveth Himself. But for man, God forbid that he should continue in himself who hath lost himself. So then we continue in Him through indigence; He continueth in us through mercy.

2. Now then seeing it hath been set forth what we ought to do, let us see what we are to receive. For He hath appointed a work, and promised a reward. What is the work? “If ye shall continue in Me.” A short work; short in description, great in execution. “If ye shall build on the Rock.”3 O how great a thing is this, Brethren, to build on the Rock, how great is it“The floods came, the winds blew, the rain descended, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.”4 What then is to continue in the word of God, but not to yield to any temptations? The reward, what is it? “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall free you.” Bear with me, for ye perceive that my voice is feeble;5 assist me by your calm6 attention. Glorious reward! “Ye shall know the truth.” Here one may haply say, “And what doth it profit me to know the truth?” “And the truth shall free you.” If the truth have no charms for you, let freedom have its charms. In the usage of the Latin tongue, the expression, “to be free,” is used in two senses; and chiefly we are accustomed to hear this word in this sense, that whosoever is free may be understood to escape some danger, to be rid of some embarrassment. But the proper signification of “to be free,” is “to be made free;” just as “to be saved,” is “to be made safe;” “to be healed,” is, “to be made whole;” so “to be freed,” is “to be made free.” Therefore I said, “If the truth have no charms for you, let freedom have its charms.” This is expressed more evidently in the Greek language, nor can it be there understood in any other sense. And that ye may know that in no other sense can it be understood; when the Lord spake, the Jews answered, “We were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou the Truth shall free you?”7 That is, “the Truth shall make you free,” how sayest thou to us, who were never in bondage to any man? “How,” say they, “dost Thou promise them freedom, who as Thou seest never bare the hard yoke of bondage?”

3. They heard what they ought; but they did not what they ought. What did they hear? Because I said, “The truth shall free you;” ye turned your thoughts upon yourselves, that ye are not in bondage to man, and ye said, “We were never in bondage to any man. Every one,” Jew and Greek, rich and poor, the man in authority and private station, the emperor and the beggar “Every one that committeth sin is the servant of sin.”8 “Every one,” saith He, “that committeth sin is the servant of sin.” If men but acknowledge their bondage, they will see from whence they may obtain freedom. Some free-born man has been taken captive by the barbarians, from a free man is made a slave; another hears, and pities him, considers how that he has money, becomes his ransomer, goes to the barbarians, gives money, ransoms the man. And he has indeed restored freedom, if he have taken away iniquity. But what man has ever taken away iniquity from another man? He whowas in bondage with the barbarians, has been redeemed by his ransomer; and great difference there is between the ransomer and the ransomed; yet haply are they fellow-slaves under the lordship of iniquity. I ask him that was ransomed, “Hast thou sin?” “I have,” he says. I ask the ransomer, “Hast thou sin?” “I have,” he says. So then neither do thou boast thyself that thou hast been ransomed, nor thou uplift thyself that thou art his ransomer; but fly both of you to the True Deliverer. It is but a small part of it, that they who are under sin, are called servants; they are even called dead; what a man is afraid of captivity bringing upon him, iniquity has brought on him already. For what? because they seem to be alive, was He then mistaken who said,” Let the dead bury their dead “?9 So then all under sin are dead, dead servants, dead in their service, servants in their death.

4. Who then freeth from death and from bondage, save He, who is “Free among the dead “?10 Who is “Free among the dead,” save He who among sinners is without sin? “Lo, the prince of the world cometh,” saith our Redeemer Himself, our Deliverer, “Lo, the prince of the world cometh, and shall find nothing in Me.”11 He holds fast those whom he hath deceived, whom he hath seduced, whom he hath persuaded to sin and death; “in Me shall he find nothing.” Come, Lord, Redeemer come, come; let the captive acknowledge thee, him that leadeth captive flee thee; be Thou my Deliverer. Lost as I was, He hath found me in Whom the devil findeth nothing that cometh of the flesh. The prince of this world findeth in Him Flesh, he findeth it but what kind of Flesh? A mortal Flesh, which he can seize, which he can crucify, which he can kill. Thou art mistaken, O deceiver, the Redeemer is not deceived; thou art mistaken. Thou seest in the Lord a mortal Flesh, it is not flesh of sin, it is the likeness of flesh of sin. “For God sent His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin.” True Flesh, mortal Flesh; but not flesh of sin. “For God sent His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, that by sin He might condemn sin in the Flesh.”12 “For God sent His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin;” in Flesh, but not in flesh of sin; but “in the likeness of flesh of sin.” For what purpose? “That by sin,” of which assuredly there was none in Him, “He might condemn sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”13

5. If then it was “the likeness of flesh of sin,” not flesh of sin, how, “That by sin He might condemn sin in the flesh”? So a likeness is wont to receive the name of that tiring of which it is a likeness. The word man is used for a real man; but if you show a man painted on the wall, and enquire what it is, it is answered, “A man.” So then Flesh having the likeness of flesh of sin, that it might be a sacrifice for sin, is called “sin.” The same Apostle says in another place, “He made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”14 “Him who knew no sin:” Who is He who knew no sin, but He That said, “Behold the prince of the world cometh, and shall find nothing in me?15 Him who knew no sin, made He sin for us;” even Christ Himself, who knew no sin, God made sin for us. What does this mean,Brethren? If it were said, “He made sin uponHim,” or, “He made Him to have sin;” it would seem intolerable; how do we toleratewhat is said, “He made Him sin,” that Christ Himself should be sin? They who are acquainted with the Scriptures of the Old Testament recognise what I am saying. For it is not an expression once used, but repeatedly, very constantly, sacrifices for sins are called “sins.” A goat, for instance, was offered for sin, a ram, anything; the victim itself which was offered for sin was called “sin.” A sacrifice for sin then was called “sin;” so that in one place the Law says, “That the Priests are to lay their hands upon the sin.”16 “Him” then, “who knew no sin, He made sin for us;” that is, “He was made a sacrifice for sin.” Sin was offered, and sin was cancelled. The Blood of the Redeemer was shed, and the debtor’s bond was cancelled. This is the “Blood, That was shed for many for the remission of sins.”17

6. What meaneth this then thy senseless exultation, O thou that didst hold me captive, for that my Deliverer had mortal Flesh? See, if He had sin; if thou hast found anything of thine in Him, hold Him fast. “The Word was made Flesh.”18 The Word is the Creator, the Flesh His creature. What is there here of thine, O enemy? And the Word is God, and His Human19 Soul is His creature, and His Human Flesh His creature, and the Mortal Flesh of God is His creature, Seek for sin here. But what art thou seeking? The Truth saith, “The prince of this world shall come, and shall find nothing in Me.”20 He did not therefore not find Flesh, but nothing of his own, that is, no sin. Thou didst deceive the innocent, thou madest them guilty. Thou didst slay the Innocent; thou destroyedst Him from whom thou hadst nothing due, render back what thou didst hold fast. Why then didst thou exult for a short hour, because thou didst find in Christ mortal Flesh? It was thy trap: whereupon thou didst rejoice, thereby hast thou been taken. Wherein thou didst exult that thou hadst found something, therein thou sorrowest now that thou hast lost what thou didst possess. Therefore, brethren, let us who believe in Christ, continue in His word. For if we shall continue in His word, we are His disciples indeed. For not those twelve only, but all we who continue in His word are His disciples indeed. And “we shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall free us;” that is, Christ the Son of God who hath said, “I am the Truth,”21 shall make you free, that is, shall free you, not from barbarians, but from the devil; not from the captivity of the body, but from the iniquity of the soul. It is He Only who freeth in such wise. Let no one call himself free, lest he remain a slave. Our soul shall not remain in bondage, for that day by day our debts are forgiven).

1 (Jn 8,31
2 (Jn 8,32
3 (Mt 7,24
4 (Mt 7,25
5 Obtusam.
6 Tranquillitate.
7 (Jn 8,33
8 (Jn 8,34
9 (Mt 8,22).
10 (Ps 88,5.
11 (Jn 14,30
12 (Rm 8,3
13 (Rm 8,4
14 (2Co 5,21
15 (Jn 14,30
16 (Lv 4,29, Sept.
17 (Mt 26,28
18 (Jn 1,14
19 Hominis.
20 (Jn 14,30
21 (Jn 14,6).


Sermon LXXXV. [CXXXV. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Jn 9,4 and Jn 9,31 “we must work the works of him that sent me,” etc. Against the Arians. And of that which the man who was born blind and received his sight said, “we know that God heareth not sinners.”

1). The Lord Jesus, as we heard when the Holy Gospel was being read, opened the eyes of a man who was born blind. Brethren, if we consider our hereditary punishment, the whole world is blind. And therefore came Christ the Enlightener, because the devil had been the Blinder. He made all men to be born blind, who seduced the first man. Let them run to the Enlightener, let them run, believe, receive the clay made of the spittle. The Word is as it were the spittle, the Flesh is the earth. Let them wash the face in the pool of Siloa. Now it was the Evangelist’s place to explain to us what Siloa means, and he said, “which is by interpretation, Sent.”1 Who is This That is Sent, but He who in this very Lesson said, “I am come to do the works of. Him That sent Me.”2 Lo, Siloa, wash the face, be baptized, that ye may be enlightened, and that ye who before saw not, may see.

2. Lo, first open your eyes to that which is said; “I am come,” saith He, “to do the works of Him That sent Me.” Now here at once stands forth the Arian, and says, “Here you see that Christ did not His Own works, but the Father’s who sent Him.” Would he say this, if he saw, that is, if he had washed his face in Himwho was sent, as it were in Siloa? What then dost thou say? “Lo,” says he, “Himself said it.”What said He? “I am come to do the works of Him That sent Me.” Are they not then His Own? No. What then is that which the Siloa Himself saith, the Sent Himself, the Son Himself, the Only Son Himself, whom thou complainest of as degenerate? What is that He saith, “All things that the Father hath are Mine.”3 You say that He did the works of Another, in that tie said, “I must do the works of Him That sent Me.” I say that the Father lead the things of another: I am speaking according to your4 principles. Why would you object to me that Christ said, “I am come to do His works” as if,” not Mine own but ‘His That sent Me’”?

3. I ask Thee, O Lord Christ, resolve the difficulty, put an end to the contention. “All things,” saith He, “that the Father hath are Mine.” Are they then not the Father’s, if they are Thine? For He doth not say, “All things that the Father hath He hath given unto Me;” although, if He bad said even this, He would have shown His equality. But the difficulty is that He said, “All things that the Father hath are Mine.” If yon understand it aright, All things that the Father hath, are the Son’s; all things that the Son hath, are the Father’s. Hear Him in another place; “All Mine are Thine, and. Thine are Mine.”5 The question is finished, as to the things which the Father and the Son have: they have them with one consent, do not thou introduce6 dissension. What He calleth the works of the Father, are His Own works; for, “Thine too are Mine,” for He speaketh of the works of That Father, to whom He said, “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.” So then, My works are Thine, and Thy works are Mine. “For what things soever the Father doeth;”7 Himself hath said, the Lord hath said, the Only-Begotten hath said, the Son hath said, the Truth hath said. What hath He said? “What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son in like manner.” Signal expression! signal truth! signal equality. “All things that the Father doeth, these doeth the Son also.” Were it enough to say, “All things that the Father doeth, these doeth the Son also “? It is not enough; I add, “in like manner.” Why do I add, “in like manner”? Because they who do not understand, and who walk with eyes not yet open, are wont to say, “The Father doeth them by way of command, the Son of obedience, therefore not in like manner.” But if in like manner, as the One, so the Other; so what things the One, the same the Other.

4. “But,” says he, “the Father commands, that the Son may execute.” Carnal indeed is thy conceit, but without prejudice to the truth, I grant it to you. Lo, the Father commands, the Son obeys; is the Son therefore not of the same Nature, because the One commands, and the Other obeys? Give me two men, father and son; they are two men: he that commands is a man; he that obeys is a man; he that commands and he that obeys have one and the same nature. Does not he that commands, beget a son of his own nature? Does he who obeys, by obeying lose his nature? Now take for the present, as you thus take two men, the Father commanding, the Son obeying, yet God and God. But the first two together are two men, the Latter together is but One God; this is a divine miracle. Meanwhile if you would that with you I acknowledge the obedience, do you first with me acknowledge the Nature. The Father begat That which Himself is. If the Father begat ought else than what Himself is, He did not beget a true Son. The Father saith to the Son, “From the womb before the day-star, I begat Thee.”8 What is, “before the day-star “? By the day-star times are signified. So then before times, before all that is called “before;” before all that is not, or before all that is. For the Gospel does not say, “In the beginning God made the Word;” as it is said, “In the beginning God made the Heaven and the earth;”9 or, “In the beginning was the Word born;” or, “In the beginning God begat the Word.” But what says it? “He was, He was, He was.” You hear, “He was;” believe. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”10 So often do ye hear, “Was:” seek not for thee, for that He always “was.” He then who always was, and was always with the Son, for that God is able to beget without thee; He said to the Son, “From the womb before the day-star I begat Thee.” What is from the womb? Had God a womb? Shall we imagine that God was fashioned with bodily members? God forbid! And why said He, “From the womb,” but that it might be understood that He begat Him of His Own Substance? So then froth the womb came forth That which Himself was who begat. For if He who begat was one thing, and another came forth out of the womb; it were a monster, not a Son.

5. Therefore let the Son do the works of Him That sent Him, and the Father also do the works of the Son. “At all events,” you say, “the Father wills, the Son executes.” Lo, I show, that the Son willeth, and the Father executeth. Do you say, “where dost thou show this?” I show it at once. “Father, I will.”11 Now here if I had a mind to cavil, lo, the Son commandeth, and the Father executeth. What wilt Thou? “That where I am, they may be also with Me.” We have escaped, there shall we be, where He is; there shall we be, we haveescaped. Who can undo the “I Will” of the Almighty? You hear the will of His power,hear now the power of His will. “As the Father” saith He “raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.”12 “Whom He will.” Say not,The Son quickeneth them, whom the Father commandeth Him to quicken. “He quickeneth whom He will.” So then whom the Father will, and whom Himself will: because where there is One Power, there is One Will. Let us then in a heart blind no more hold fast that the Nature of the Father and the Son is One and the Same; because the Father is very Father, the Son is very Son. What He is, That did He beget: because the Begotten was not degenerate.

6. There is a something in the words of that man who was blind, which may cause perplexity, and peradventure make many who understand them not aright despair. For he said amongst the rest of his words, the same man whose eyes were opened, “We know that God heareth not sinners.”13 What shall we do, if God heareth not sinners? Dare we pray to God if He heareth not sinners? Give me one who may pray: lo, here is One to hear. Give me one who may pray, sift thoroughly the human race from the imperfect to the perfect. Mount up from the spring to the summer; for this we have just chanted. “Thou hast made summer and spring;”14 that is, “Those who are already spiritual, and those who are still carnal hast Thou made;” for so the Son Himself saith, “Thine Eyes have seen My imperfect being.”15 That which is imperfect in My Body, Thine Eyes have seen. And what then? Have they who are imperfect hope? Undoubtedly they have. Hear what follows; “And in Thy Book shall all be written.” But perhaps, Brethren, the spiritual pray and are heard, because they are not sinners? What then must the carnal do? What must they do? Shall they perish? Shall they not pray to God? God forbid! Give me that publican in the Gospel. Come, thou publican, stand forth, show thy hope, that the weak may not lose hope. For behold the publican went up with the Pharisee to pray, and with face cast down upon the ground, standing afar off, beating his breast, he said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.16 And he went down justified rather than the Pharisee.” Said he true or false, who said, “Be merciful to me a sinner “? If he said true, he was a sinner; yet was he heard and justified. What then is that, that thou whose eyes the Lord opened didst say, “We know that God heareth not sinners?17 Lo, God doth hear smokers. But wash thou thy inferior face, let that be done in thy heart, which hath been done in thy face; and thou wilt see that God doth hear sinners. The imagination of thine heart hath deceived thee. There is still something for Him to do to thee. We see that this man was cast out of the synagogue; Jesus heard of it, came to him, and said to him, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” And He said, “Who is He, Lord, that I should believe on Him?18 He saw, and did not see; he saw with the eyes, but as yet with the heart he saw not. The Lord said to him, “Thou both seest Him,” that is, with the eyes; “and He that talketh with thee is He. He then fell down, and worshipped Him.”19 Then washed he the face of his heart.

7. Apply yourselves then earnestly to prayer, ye sinners: confess your sins, pray that they may be blotted out, pray that they may be diminished, pray that as ye increase, they may decrease: yet do not despair, and sinners though ye be, pray. For who hath not sinned? Begin with the priests. To the priests it is said, “First offer sacrifices for your own sins, and so for the people.”20 The sacrifices convicted the priests that if any one should call himself righteous and without sin, it might be answered him, “I look not at what thou sayest, but at what thou offerest; thine own victim convicteth thee. Wherefore dost thou offer for thine own sins, if thou have no sins? Dost thou in thy sacrifice lie unto God?” But peradventure the priests of the ancient people were sinners; of the new people are not sinners. Of a truth, Brethren, for that God hath so willed, I am His priest; I am a sinner; with you do I beat the breast, with you I ask for pardon, with you I hope that God will be merciful. But peradventure the Holy Apostles, those first and highest leaders21 of the flock, shepherds, members of The Shepherd, these peradventure had no sin. Yes, indeed, even they had, they had indeed; they are not angry at this, for they confess it. I should not dare. First hear the Lord Himself saying to the Apostles, “In this manner pray ye.”22 As those other priests were convicted by the sacrifices, so these by prayer. And amongst the other things which He commanded them to pray for, He appointed this also, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”23 What do the Apostles say? Every day they pray for their debts to be forgiven them. They come in debtors, they go out absolved, and return debtors to prayer. This life is not without sin, that as often as prayer is made, so often should sins be forgiven.

8. But what shall I say? Peradventure when they learnt the prayer, they were still weak. Some one, perhaps, will say this. When the Lord Jesus taught them that prayer, they were yet babes, weak, carnal; they were not yet spiritual, who have no sin. What then, Brethren? When they became spiritual, did they cease to pray? Then Christ ought to have said, “Pray in such wise now;” and to have given them, when spiritual, another prayer. It is one andthe same. He who gave it is One and theSame; use it then in prayer in the Church. But we will take away all controversy, when you say the Holy Apostles were spiritual, up to the time of the Lord’s Passion they were carnal; this you must say. And indeed, the truth is, as He was hanging, they were in alarm, and the Apostles then despaired when the robber believed. Peter dared to follow, when the Lord was led to suffering, he dared to follow, who came to the house, and was wearied in the palace, and stood at the fire, and was cold; he stood at the fire, he was frozen with a chilling fear. Being questioned by the maid-servant, he denied Christ once; being questioned a second thee, he denied Him; being questioned a third thee, he denied Him.24 God be thanked, that the questioning ceased; if the questioning had not ceased, long would the denial have been repeated. So then after He rose again, then He confirmed them, then did they become spiritual. Had they at that thee then no sin? The Apostles spiritual, wrote spiritual epistles, they sent them to the Churches; “they had no sin.” This you say. I do not believe you, I ask themselves. Tell us, O holy Apostles, after the Lord rose again, and confirmed you with the Holy Ghost sent from heaven; did ye cease to have sin? Tell us, I pray you. Let us hear, that sinners may not despair, that they may not leave off to pray to God, because they are not without sin. Tell us. One of them saith. And who? He whom the Lord loved the most, and who lay on the Lord’s Breast,25 and drank in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven which he was to pour forth again. Him I ask; “Have ye sin or not?” He maketh answer and saith, “If we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”26 Now it is the same John who said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”27 See ye what heights he had passed, that he could reach to the WordSuch an one, and so great, who like an eagle soared above the clouds, who in the serene clearness of his mind saw, “In the beginning was the Word ;” he hath said, “If we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we shall confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”28 Therefore pray ye.

1 (Jn 9,7
2 (Jn 9,4
3 (Jn 16,15
4 Cor.
5 (Jn 17,10
6 Litigare.
7 (Jn 5,19).
8 (Ps 109,3 Sept. (cx. English version).
9 (Gn 1,1
10 (Jn 1,1
11 (Jn 17,24
12 (Jn 5,21
13 (Jn 9,31
14 (Ps 73,17 Sept. (lxxiv. English version).
15 (Ps 138,16 Sept. (cxxxix. English version).
16 (Lc 18,13
17 Theoph. and Euthym. understand this not thus absolutely, but that God does not hear sinners so as to enable them to work miracles, the miracle being allowed; St. Hilary applies it to those who continue in sin, and whose prayer is not truly prayer, “prayer being not the profession of words, but of faith.” In Ps. 52,§ 13.
18 (Jn 9,35-36).
19 (Jn 9,37-38.
20 (Lv 16 He 7,27
21 Arietes.
22 (Mt 6,9
23 (Mt 6,12
24 (Mt 26,69 etc.
25 (Jn 13,23
26 (1Jn 1,8
27 (Jn 1,1
28 (1Jn 1,9).

Augustine on NT 133