Augustine on NT 89


Sermon XXXIX. [LXXXIX. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Mt 21,19 Where Jesus dried up the fig-tree; and on the words, Lc 24,28 where he made a pretence as though he would go further.

1). The lesson of the Holy Gospel which has just been read, has given us an alarming warning, lest we have leaves only, and have no fruit. That is, in few words, lest words be present and deeds be wanting. Very terrible! Who does not fear when in this lesson he sees with the eyes of the heart the withered tree, withered at that word being spoken to it, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever”?1 Let the fear work amendment, and the amendment bring forth fruit. For without doubt, the Lord Christ foresaw that a certain tree would deservedly become withered, because it would have leaves, and would have no fruit. That tree is the synagogue, not that which was called, but that which was reprobate. For out of it also was called the people of God, who in sincerity and truth waited in the Prophets for the salvation of God, Jesus Christ. And forasmuch as it waited infaith, it was thought worthy2 to know Him when He was present. For out of it came the Apostles, out of it came the whole multitude of those who went before the ass of the Lord, and said, “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”3 There was a great company then of believing Jews, a great company of those who believed in Christ before He shed His Blood for them. For it was not in vain that the Lord Himself had come to none “but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”4 But in others, after He was crucified, and was now exalted into heaven, He found the fruit of repentance; and these He did not make to wither, but cultivated them in His field, and watered them with His word. Of this number were those four thousand Jews who believed, after that the disciples and those who were with them, filled with the Holy Ghost, spake with the tongues of all nations,5 and in that diversity of tongues announced in a way beforehand, that the Church should be throughout all nations. They believed at that time, and “they were the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” but because “the Son of Man had come to seek and to save that which was lost,”6 He found these also. But they lay hid here and there among thorns, as though wasted and dispersed by the wolves; and because they lay hid among thorns, He did not come to find them, save when torn by the thorns of His Passion; yet come He did, He found, He redeemed them. They had slain, not Him so much, as themselves. They were saved by Him who was slain for them. For, as the Apostles spake, they were pricked;7 they were pricked in conscience, who had pricked Him with the spear; and being pricked they sought for counsel, received it when it was given, repented, found grace, and believing drunk that Blood which in their fury they had shed. But they who have remained in this bad and barren race, even unto this day, and shall remain unto the end, were figured in that tree. You come to them at this day, and find with them all the writings of the Prophets. But these are but leaves; Christ is an hungred, and He seeketh for fruit; but findeth no fruit among them, because He doth not find Himself among them. For He hath no fruit, who hath not Christ. And he hath not Christ, who holdeth not to Christ’s unity, who hath not charity. And so by this chain he hath no fruit who hath not charity. Hear the Apostle, “Now the fruit of the Spirit is charity;” so setting forth the praise of this cluster, that is, of this fruit; “The fruit of the Spirit,” he says, “is charity,8 joy, peace, long-suffering.” Do not wonder at what follows, when charity leads the way.

2. Accordingly, when the disciples marvelled at the withering of the tree, He set forth to them the value of faith, and said to them, “If ye have faith, and doubt not;”9 that is, if in all things ye have trust in God; and do not say, “God can do this, this He cannot do;” but rely on the omnipotence of the Almighty; “ye shall not only do this, but also if ye shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”10 Now we read that miracles were wrought by the disciples, yea rather by the Lord through the disciples; for, “without Me,” He says, “ye can do nothing.”11 The Lord could do many things without the disciples, but the disciples nothing without the Lord. He who could make12 even the disciples themselves, was not certainly assisted by them to make them. We read then of the Apostles’ miracles, but we nowhere read of a tree being withered by them, nor of a mountain removed into the sea. Let us enquire therefore where this was done. For the words of the Lord could not be without effect. If ye are thinking of “trees” and “mountains” in their ordinary and familiar sense, it has not been done. But if ye think of that tree of which He spake, and of that mountain of the Lord of which the Prophet said, “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be manifest;”13 if ye think of it, and understand it thus, it has been done, and done by the Apostles. The tree is the Jewish nation, but I say again, that part of it which was reprobate, not that which was called; that tree which we have spoken of is the Jewish nation. The mountain, as the prophetic testimony hath taught us, is the Lord Himself. The withered tree is the Jewish nation reft of the honour of Christ; the sea is this world with all the nations. Now see the Apostles speaking to this tree which was about to be withered away, and casting the mountain into the sea. In the Acts of the Apostles they speak to the Jews who gainsay and resist the word of truth, that is, who have leaves and have no fruit, and they say to them, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye have put it from you” (for ye use the words of the Prophets, yet do not acknowledge Him whom the Prophets foretold, that is, ye have leaves only), “lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” For this also was foretold by the Prophets; “Behold, I have given Thee for a light of the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.”14 See then, the tree hath withered away; and Christ hath been removed unto the Gentiles, the mountain into the sea. For how should not the tree wither away which is planted in that vineyard, of which it was said, “I will command my clouds that they rain no rain upon it”?15

3. Now that in order to convey this truth the Lord acted prophetically, I mean that, as concerning this tree, it was not His will merely to exhibit a miracle, but that by the miracle He conveyed the intimation of something to come, there are many things which teach and persuade us, yea even against our wills force us to believe. In the first place, what fault in the tree was it that it had no fruit, when even if it had no fruit at the proper season, that is, the season of its fruit, it would not assuredly be any fault in the tree; for the tree as being without sense and reason could not be to blame. But to this is added, that as we read it in the narrative of the other Evangelist who expressly mentions this, “it was not the time for that fruit.”16 For that was the time when the fig-tree shoots forth its tender leaves, which come, we know, before the fruit; and this we prove, because the day of the Lord’s Passion was at hand, and we know at what time He suffered; and if we did not know it, we ought of course to give credit to the Evangelist who says, “The time of figs was not yet.” So then if it was only a miracle that was to have been set forth, and not something to be prophetically figured, it would have been much more worthy of the clemency and mercy of the Lord, to have made green again any tree He might find withered; as He healed the sick, as He cleansed the lepers, as He raised the dead. But then contrariwise, as though against the ordinary rule of His clemency, He found a green tree, not yet bearing fruit out of its proper season, but still not refusing the hope of fruit to its dresser, and He withered it away; as though He would say to us, “I have no delight in the withering away of this tree, but thus I would convey to you, that I have not designed to do this without any cause for it, but only because I desired thereby to convey to you a lesson you might the more regard. It is not this tree that I have cursed, it is not on a tree without sense that I have inflicted punishment, but I have made thee fear, whosoever thou art that dost consider the matter, that thou mightest not despise Christ when He is an hungered, that thou mightest love rather to be enriched with fruit, than to be overshadowed by leaves.”

4. This one thing is that which the Lord intimates that He designed to signify by what He did. What else is there? He cometh to the tree being hungry, and seeketh fruit. Did He not know that it was not the time for it? What the cultivator of the tree knew, did not its Creator know? He seeketh on the tree then for fruit which it had not yet. Doth He really seek for it, or rather make a pretence of seeking it? For if He really sought it, He was mistaken. But this be far from Him, to be mistaken! He made then a pretence of seeking it. Fearing to allow this, that he maketh a pretence, thou dost confess that He was mistaken. Again, thou dost turn away from the idea of His being mistaken, and so run into that of His making a pretence. We are parched up between the two. If we are parched, let us beg for rain, that we may grow green, lest in saying anything unworthy of the Lord, we rather wither away. The Evangelist indeed says, “He came to the tree, and found no fruit on it.”17 “He found none,” would not be said of Him, unless He had either really sought for it, or made a pretence of seeking, though He knew that there was none there. Wherefore we do not hesitate, let us by no means say that Christ was mistaken. What then? shall we say He made a pretence? Shall we say this? How shall we get out of this difficulty? Let us say what, if the Evangelist had not said of the Lord in another place, we should not of ourselves dare to say. Let us say what the Evangelist has written, and when we have said, let us understand it. But in order that we may understand it, let us first believe. For, “unless ye believe,” says the Prophet, “ye shall not understand.”18 The Lord Christ after His Resurrection, was walking in the way with two of His disciples, by whom He was not yet recognised, and with whom He joined company as a third traveller. They came to the place whither they were going, and the Evangelist says, “But He made a pretence as though He would have gone further.”19 But they kept Him, saying, in the spirit of a courteous kindness,20 that it was already drawing toward evening, and praying Him to tarry there with them; being received and entertained by them, He breaketh Bread, and is known of them in blessing and breaking of the Bread. So then, let us not now fear to say, that He made a pretence of seeking, if He made a pretence of going further. But here there arises another question. Yesterday21 I insisted22 at some length on the truth which is in the Apostles; how then do we find any “pretence” in the Lord Himself? Therefore, Brethren, I must tell you, and teach you according to my poor abilities, which the Lord giveth me for your benefit, and must convey to you what ye may hold as a rule23 in the interpretation of all Scripture. Everything that is said or done is to be understood either in its literal signification, or else it signifies something figuratively; or at least contains both of these at once, both its own literal interpretation,24 and a figurative signification also. Thus I have set forth three things, examples of them must now be given; and from whence, but from the Holy Scriptures? It is said in its literal acceptation, that the Lord suffered, that He rose again, and ascended into heaven; that we shall rise again at the end of the world, that we shall reign with Him for ever, if we do not despise Him. Take all this as spoken literally, and look not out for figures; as it is expressed, so it really is. And so also with divers actions. The Apostle went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, the Apostle actually did this, it actually took place, it was an action peculiar to himself. It is a fact which he tells you; a simple fact according to its literal meaning. “The stone which the builders refused, is become the Head of the corner,”25 is spoken in a figure. If we take “the stone” literally, what “stone did the builders refuse, which became the Head of the corner”? If we take “the stone” literally, of what corner is this “stone” become the Head? If we admit that it was figuratively expressed, and take it figuratively, the Corner-stone is Christ: the head of the corner, is the Head of the Church. Why is the Church the Corner? Because she has called the Jews from one side, and the Gentiles from another, and these two walls as it were coming from different quarters, and meeting together in one, she has bound together by the grace of her peace. For, “He is our peace, who hath made both one.”26

5. Ye have heard instances of a literal expression, and a literal action, and of a figurative expression; ye are waiting for an instance of a figurative action. There are many such, but meanwhile, as is suggested by this mention of the corner-stone, when Jacob anointed the stone which he had placed at his head as he slept, and in his sleep saw a mysterious27 dream, ladders rising from the earth to heaven, and Angels ascending and descending, and the Lord standing upon the ladder,28 he understood what it was designed to figure, and took the stone for a figure of Christ, to prove to us thereby that he was no stranger to the understanding of that vision and revelation. Do not wonder then that he anointed it, for Christ received His Name from “the anointing.” Now this Jacob was said in the Scripture to be “a man without guile.”29 And this Jacob ye know was called Israel. Accordingly in the Gospel, when the Lord saw Nathanael, He said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” And thatIsraelite not yet knowing who it was that talked with him, answered, “Whence knewest Thou me?” And the Lord said to him, “When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee;”30 as though he would say, When thou wast in the shadow of sin, I predestinated thee. And Nathanael,because he remembered that he had been under the fig-tree, where the Lord was not, acknowledged His Divinity, and answered, “Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.”He who had been under the fig-tree was not made a withered fig-tree; he acknowledged Christ. And the Lord said unto him, “Because I said, When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee, believest thou? thou shall see greater things than these.” What are these “greater things”? “Verily I say unto you” (for he “is an Israelite in whom is no guile;” remember Jacob in whom was no guile; and recollect of what he is speaking, the stone at his head, the vision in his sleep, the ladder from earth to heaven, the Angels ascending and descending; and so see what it is that the Lord would say to “the Israelite without guile”); “Verily I say unto you, Ye shall see heaven opened” (hear, thou guileless Nathanael, what guileless Jacob saw); “ye shall see heaven opened, and Angels ascending and descending” (unto whom?) “unto the Son of Man.” Therefore was He, as the Son of Man, anointed on the head; for “the head of the woman is the man, and the Head of the man is Christ.”31 Now observe, He did not say, “ascending from the Son of Man, and descending to the Son of Man,” as if He were only above; but “ascending and descending unto the Son of Man.” Hear the Son of Man crying out from above, “Saul, Saul.” Hear the Son of Man from below, “Why persecutest thou Me?”32

6. Ye have heard an instance of a literal expression, as “that we shall rise again;” of a literal action, as that, according as it is said, “Paul went up to Jerusalem to see Peter.”33 “The stone which the builders refused,” is a figurative expression; “the anointed stone” which was at Jacob’s head, is a figurative action. There is now due to your expectation an example made out of both together, something which is at once a literal fact, and which also signifies something else figured by it. “We know that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free-woman;”34 this was literally a fact, not only a story, but a fact; are ye looking for that which was figured in it? “These are the two Testaments.” That then which is spoken figuratively, is a sort of fiction. But since it has some real event represented by it, and the very figure itself has its ground of truth, it escapes all imputation of falsehood. “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way side, some fell upon stony places, some fell among thorns, and some fell upon good ground.”35 Who went out “to sow,” or when went he out, or Upon what “thorns,” or “stones” or “way side “or in what field did he sow? If we receive this as a fictitious story, we understand it in a figurative sense; it is fictitious. For if any sower really went out, and did cast the seed in these different places, as we have heard, it were no fiction, and so no falsehood. But now though it be a fiction, yet it is no falsehood. Why? Because the fiction has some further signification, it deceives thee not. It requires only one to understand it, and does not lead any one into error. And thus Christ wishing to convey this lesson to us, sought for fruit, and hereby set forth to us a figurative, and no deceiving fiction; a fiction therefore worthy of praise, not of blame; not one by the examination of which we might run into what was false; but by the diligent investigation of which we might discover what is true.

7. I see that one may say, Explain to me; what did that signify, that “He made a pretence of going further”? For if it had no further meaning, it is a deceit, a lie. We must then according to our rules of exposition, and distinctions, tell you what this “pretence of going further,” signified; “He made a pretence of going further,” and is kept back from going further. In so far then as the Lord Christ being as they supposed absent in respect of His Bodily presence, was thought to be really absent, He will as it were “go further.” But hold Him fast by faith, hold Him fast at the breaking of Bread. What shall I say more? Have ye recognised Him? If so, then have ye found Christ. I must not speak36 any longer on this Sacrament. They who put off the knowledge of this Sacrament, Christ goeth further from them. Let them then hold It fast, let them not let Him go; let them invite Him to their home, and so they are invited to heaven.

1 (Mt 21,19
2 Meruit.
3 (Mt 21,9
4 (Mt 15,24
5 (Ac 2,4
6 (Lc 19,10).
7 (Ac 2,37
8 (Ga 5,22
9 (Mt 21,21
10 Mt 21,22.
11 (Jn 15,5
12 The meaning of “facio” as “to do,” and “to make,” cannot be expressed in our language.
13 (Is 2,2
14 (Ac 13,46 etc.; Is 49,6
15 (Is 5,6
16 (Mc 11,13).
17 (Mt 21,19
18 (Is 7,9 Sept.
19 (Lc 24,28
20 More humanitatis.
21 Probably in that Sermon which is marked as next before this in Posidonius’ Catalogue, ch. 9, namely, “From the Epistle to the Galatians, where Paul reproved Peter.” Ben ed. note.
22 Commendavimus.
23 Regulariter.
24 Cognitionem.
25 (Mt 21,42 Ps 118,22).
26 (Ep 2,14
27 Magnum.
28 (Gn 28,11 etc.
29 (Gn 25,27
30 (Jn 1,47 etc.
31 (1Co 11,3
32 (Ac 9,4
33 (Ga 1,18
34 (Ga 4,22
35 (Mt 13,3 etc).
36 See Serm. vi (lvi. Ben). 10 (vi). note.


Sermon XL. [XC. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Mt 22,2 etc., About the marriage of the king’s son; against the donatists, on charity. Delivered at Carthage in the Restituta.1

1). All the faithful2 know the marriage of the king’s son, and his feast, and the spreading3 of the Lord’s Table is open to them all4 who will.But it is of importance to each one to see how he approaches, even when he is not forbidden to approach It. For the Holy Scriptures teach us that there are two feasts of the Lord; one to which the good and evil come, the other to which the evil come not. So then the feast, of which we have just now heard when the Gospel was being read, has both good and evil guests. All who excused themselves from this feast are evil; but not all those who entered in are good. You therefore who are the good guests at this feast do I address, who have in your minds the words, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.”5 All you who are such do I address, that ye look not for the good without, that ye bear with the evil within.

2. I do not doubt that ye wish to hear, Beloved, who they are of whom I have spoken in my address, that they should not look for the good without, and should bear with the evil within.If all within are evil, whom do I address? If all within are good, whom did I advise them tobear with being evil? Let me first then with the Lord’s assistance get out of this difficulty as best I can. If you consider good perfectly and strictly6 speaking, none is good but God Alone. Ye have the Lord saying most plainly, “Why callest thou Me good? there is none Good but One, that is, God.”7 How then can that marriage feast have good and bad guests, if “none is good but God Alone”? In the first place ye ought to know, that after a certain sort we are all evil. Yes, doubtless after a certain sort are we all evil; but after no sort are we all good. For can we compare ourselves with the Apostles, to whom the Lord Himself said, “If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children?”8 If we consider the Scriptures, there was but one evil one among the twelve Apostles, with reference to whom the Lord said in a certain place, “And ye are clean, but not all.”9 But yet in addressing them all together, He said, “If ye being evil.” Peter heard this, John heard this, Andrew heard this, all the rest of the eleven Apostles heard it. What did they hear? “If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” When they heard that they were evil, they were in despair; but when they heard that God in heaven was their Father, they revived. “Ye being evil;” what then is due to the evil, but punishment? “How much more shall your Father which is in heaven?” What is due to children but reward. In the name of “evil” is the dread of punishment; in the name of “children” is the hope of heirs.

3. According to a certain respect then they were evil, who after another respect were good. For to them to whom it is said, “Ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children;” is added immediately, “How much more shall your Father which is in heaven?” He is then the Father of the evil, but not of those who are to be left so; because He is the Physician of them who are to be cured. According to a certain sort then they were evil. And yet those guests of the Householder at the King’s marriage, were not I suppose of that number of whom it was said,” they invited good and bad,”10 that they should be reckoned among the number of the bad, who we have heard were shut out in his person who was found not to have a wedding garment. According to a certain respect, I repeat they were bad, who yet were good; and according to a certain respect they were good, who yet were bad. Hear John according to what respect they were bad: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”11 Behold after what respect they were bad: because they had sin. According to what respect were they good? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”12 If then we should say, on the principle of this interpretation which ye have now heard me bring, as I think, out of the sacred Scriptures, viz. that the same men are both after a certain manner, good, and after a certain manner bad; if we should wish to receive according to this sense the words, “they invited good and bad,” the same persons, that is, at once good and bad; if we should wish so to receive them, we are not permitted so to do, by reason of that one who was found “not having a wedding garment,” and who was not merely “cast forth,” so as to be deprived of that feast, but so as to be condemned in the punishment of everlasting darkness.

4. But one will say, What of one man? what strange, what great matter is it, if one among the crowd “not having a wedding garment” crept in unperceived to the servants of the Householder? Could it be said because of that one, “they invited good and bad”? Attend therefore, my Brethren, and understand. That one man represented one class; for they were many. Here some diligent hearer may answer me, and say, “I have no wish for you to tell me your guesses; I wish to have it proved to me that that one represented many.”13 By the Lord’s present help, I will prove it clearly; nor will I search far, that I may be able to prove it. God will assist me in His own words in in this place, and will furnish you by my ministry with a plain proof of it. “The Master of the house came in to see the guests.”14 See, my Brethren, the servants’ business was only to invite and bring in the good and bad; see that it is not said, that the servants took notice of the guests, and found among them a man which had not on a wedding garment, and spoke to him. This is not written. The Master of the house saw him, the Master of the house discovered, the Master of the house inspected, the Master of the house separated him out. It was not right to pass over this. But I have undertaken to establish another point, how that that one signifies many. “The Master of the house” then “came in to see the guests, and He found there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”15 For He who questioned him was One, to whom he could give no feigned reply. The garment that was looked for is in the heart, not on the body; for had it been put on externally, it could not have been concealed even from the servants. Where that wedding garment must be put on, hear in the words, “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness.”16 Of that garment the Apostle speaks,17 “If so be that we shall be found clothed, and not naked.”18 Therefore was he discovered by the Lord, who escaped the notice of the servants. Being questioned, he is speechless: he is bound, cast out, and condemned one by many. I have said, Lord, that Thou teachest us that in this Thou dost give warning to all. Recollect then with me, my Brethren, the words which ye have heard, and ye will at once discover, at once determine, that that one was many. True it was one man whom the Lord questioned, to one He said, “Friend, how camest thou in hither?” It was one who was speechless, and of that same one was it said, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”19 Why? “For many are called, but few chosen.”20 How can any one gainsay this manifestation of the truth? “Cast him,” He saith, “into outer darkness.” “Him,” that one man assuredly, of whom the Lord saith, “for many are called, but few chosen.” So then it is the few who are not cast out. He was it is true but one man “who had not the wedding garment. Cast him out.” But why is he cast out? “For many are called, but few chosen.” Leave alone the few, cast out the many. It is true, that man was but one. Yet undoubtedly that one not only was many, but those many in numbers far surpassed the number of the good. For the good are many also; but in comparison of the bad, they are few. In the crop there is much wheat; compare it with the chaff, and the grains of corn are few. The same persons considered in themselves are many, in comparison with the bad are few. How do we prove that in themselves they are many? “Many shall come from the East and from the West.” Whither shall they come? To that feast, into which both good and bad enter. But speaking of another feast, He subjoined, “and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”21 That is the feast to which the bad shall not approach. Be that feast which now is, received worthily, that we may attain to the other. The same then are many, who are also few; in themselves many; in comparison with the bad few. Therefore what saith the Lord? He found one, and said, “Let the many be cast out, the few remain.” For to say, “many are called, but few chosen,” is nothing else than to show plainly who in this present feast are accounted to be such, as to be brought to that other feast, where no bad men shall come.

5. What is it then? I would not that ye all who approach the Lord’s Table which is in this life, should be with the many who are to be shut out, but with the few who are to be reserved. And how shall ye be able to attain to this? Take “the wedding garment.” Ye will say, “Explain this ‘wedding garment’ to us.” Without a doubt, that is the garment which none but the good have, who are to be left at the feast, reserved unto that other feast to which no bad man approaches, who are to be brought safely thither by the grace of the Lord; these have “the wedding garment.” Let us then, my Brethren, seek for those among the faithful who have something which bad men have not, and this will be “the wedding garment.” If we speak of sacraments, ye see how that these are common to the bad and good. Is it Baptism? Without Baptism it is true no one attaineth to God; but not every one that hath Baptism attaineth to Him. I cannot therefore understand Baptism, the Sacrament itself that is, to be “the wedding garment;” for this garment I see in the good, I see in the bad. Peradventure it is the Altar, or That which is received at the Altar. But no; we see that many eat, and “eat and drink judgment to themselves.” What is it then? Is it fasting? The wicked fast also. Is it running together to the Church? The wicked run thither also. Lastly, is it miracles? Not only do the good and bad perform them, but sometimes the good perform them not. See, among the ancient people Pharaoh’s magicians wrought miracles, the Israelites did not; among the Israelites, Moses only and Aaron wrought them; the rest did not, but saw, and feared, and believed.22 Were the magicians of Pharaoh who did miracles, better men than the people of Israel who could not do them, and yet that people were the people of God. In the Church itself, hear the Apostle, “Are all prophets? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues?”23

6. What is that “wedding garment” then? This is the wedding garment: “Now the end of the commandment,” says the Apostle, “is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.”24 This is “the wedding garment.” Not charity of any kind whatever; for very often they who are partakers together of an evil conscience seem to love one another. They who commit robberies together, who love the hurtful arts of sorceries, and the stage together, who join together in the shout of the chariot race, or the wild beast fight; these very often love one another; but in these there is no “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. The wedding garment” is such charity as this. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal.”25 Tongues have come in alone, and it is said to them, “How came ye in hither not having a wedding garment?” “Though,” said he, “I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” See, these are the miracles of men who very often have not “the wedding garment.” “Though,” he says,” I have all these, and have not Christ, I am nothing.” Is then “the gift of prophecy” nothing? is then “the knowledge of mysteries”26 nothing? It is not that these are nothing; but” I,” if I have them, “and have not charity, am nothing.”How many good things profit nothing without this one good thing! If then I have not charity, though I bestow alms freely upon the poor, though I have come to the confession of Christ’s Name even unto blood and fire, these things may be done even through the love of glory, and so are vain. Because then they may be done even from the love of glory, and so be vain, and not through the rich charity of a godly affection, he names them all also in express terms, and do thou give ear to them; “though I distribute all my goods for the use of the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”27 This then is “the wedding garment.” Question yourselves; if ye have it, ye may be without fear in the Feast of the Lord. In one and the same man there exist two things, charity and desire. Let charity be born in thee, if it be yet unborn, and if it be born, be it nourished, fostered, increased. But as to that desire, though in this life it cannot be utterly extinguished; “for if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;”28 but in so far as desire is in us, so far we are not without sin: let charity increase, desire decrease; that the one, that is, charity, may one day be perfected, and desire be consumed. Put on “the wedding garment:” you I address, who as yet have it not. Ye are already within, already do ye approach to the Feast, and I still have ye not yet the garment to do honour to the Bridegroom; “Ye are yet seeking your own things, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”29 For “the wedding garment” is taken in honour of the union, the union, that is, of the Bridegroom to the Bride. Ye know the Bridegroom; it is Christ. Ye know the Bride; it is the Church. Pay honour30 to the Bride, pay honour to the Bridegroom. If ye pay due honour to them both, ye will be their children. Therefore in this make progress. Love the Lord, and so learn to love yourselves; that when by loving the Lord ye shall have loved yourselves, ye may securely love your neighbour as yourselves. For when I find a man that does not love himself, how shall I commit his neighbour whom he should love as himself to him? And who is there, you will say, who does not love himself? Who is there? See, “He that loveth iniquity hateth his own soul.”31 Does he love himself, who loves his body, and hates his soul to his own hurt, to the hurt of both his body and soul? And who loves his own soul? He that loveth God with all his heart and with all his mind. To such an one I would at once entrust his neighbour. “Love your neighbour as yourselves.”

7. One may say, “Who is my neighbour?” Every man is your neighbour. Had we not all the same two parents? Animals of every species are neighbours one to the other, the dove to the dove, the leopard to the leopard, the asp to the asp, the sheep to the sheep, and is not man neighbour to man? Call to mind the ordering of the creation. God spake, the waters brought forth swimming creatures, great whales, fish, birds, and such like things. Did all the birds come of one bird? Did all vultures come of one vulture? Did all doves come of one dove? Did all snakes come of one snake? or all gilt-heads of one gilt-head?32 or all sheep of one sheep? No, the earth assuredly brought forth all these kinds together. But when it came to man, the earth did not bring forth man. One father was made for us; not even two, father and mother: one father, I say, was made for us, not even two, father and mother; but out of the one father came the one mother; the one father came from none, but was made by God, and the one mother came out of him. Marc then the nature of our race: we flowed out of one fountain; and because that one was turned to bitterness, we all became from a good, a wild olive tree. And so grace came also. One begat us unto sin and death, yet as one race, yet as neighbours one to another, yet as not merely like, but related to each other. There came One against one; against the one who scattered, One who gathereth. Thus against the one who slayeth, is the One who maketh alive. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”33 Now as whosoever is born of the first, dieth; so whosoever believeth in Christ is made alive. Provided, that is, that he have “the wedding garment,” and be invited as one who is to remain, and not to be cast out.

8. So then, my Brethren, have charity. I have explained it to be this garment, this “wedding garment.” Faith is praised, it is plain, it is praised: but what kind of faith this is, the Apostle distinguishes. For certain who boasted of faith, and had not a good conversation, the Apostle James rebukes and says, “Thou believest there is one God, thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble.”34 Call to mind with me whereupon Peter was praised, whereupon called blessed. Was it because he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”?35 He who pronounced Him blessed, regarded not the sound of the words, but the affection of the heart. For would ye know that Peter’s blessedness lay not in these words? The devils also said the same. “We know Thee who Thou art, the Son of God.”36 Peter confessed Him to be “the Son of God;” the devils confessed Him to be “the Son of God.” “Distinguish, my lord, distinguish between the two.” I do make a plain distinction. Peter spake in love, the devils from fear. And again Peter says, “I am with Thee, even unto death.”37 The devils say, “What have we to do with Thee?” So then thou who art come to the feast, glory not of faith only. Distinguish well the nature of this faith; and then in thee is recognised “the wedding garment.” Let the Apostle make the distinction, let him teach us; “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith.”38 Tell us, what faith? do not even the devils believe and tremble? I will tell thee, he says, and listen, I will now draw the distinction,” But faith which worketh by love.” What faith, then, and of what kind? “That which worketh by love.” “Though I haveall knowledge,” he says, “and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” Have faith with love; for love without faith ye cannot have. This I warn, this I exhort, this in the name of the Lord I teach you, Beloved, that ye have faith with love; for ye may possibly have faith without love. I do not exhort you to have faith, but love. For ye cannot have love without faith; the love I mean of God and your neighbour; whence can it come without faith? How doth he love God, who doth not believe on God? How doth the fool love God, “who saith in his heart, there is no God”?39 Possible it is that ye may believe that Christ hath come and not love Christ. But it is not possible that ye should love Christ, and yet say that Christ hath not come.

9. So then, have faith with love. This is the “wedding garment.” Ye who love Christ, love one another, love your friends, love your enemies. Let not this be hard to you. What then do ye lose thereby, when ye gain so much? What? dost thou ask of God as some great favour, that thine enemy may die? This is not “the wedding garment.” Turn thy thoughts to the Bridegroom Himself hanging upon the Cross for thee, and praying to His Father for His enemies; “Father,” saith He, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”40 Thou hast seen the Bridegroom speaking thus; see too the friend of the Bridegroom, a guest “with the wedding garment.” Look at the blessed Stephen, how he rebukes the Jews as though in rage and resentment, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye have resisted the Holy Ghost. Which of the Prophets have not your fathers killed?”41 Thou hast heard how severe he is with his tongue. And at42 once thou art prepared to speak against any one; and I would it were against him who offendeth God, and not who offendeth thee. One offendeth God, and thou dost not rebuke him; he offendeth thee, and thou criest out; where is that “wedding garment”? Ye have heard therefore how Stephen was severe; now hear how he loved. He offended those whom he was rebuking, and was stoned by them. And as he was being overwhelmed and bruised to death by the hands of his furious persecutors on every side,and the blows of the stones, he first said, “Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.”43 Then after he had prayed for himself standing, he bent the knee for them who were stoning him, and said,“Lord, lay not this sin to their charge; let me die in my body, but let not these die in their souls. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”44 After these words he added no more; he spake them and departed; his last prayer was for his enemies. Learn ye hereby to have “the wedding garment.” So do thou too bend the knee, and beat thy forehead against the ground, and as thou art about to approach the Table of the Lord, the Feast of the Holy Scriptures, do not say, “O that mine enemymight die! Lord, if I have deserved ought of Thee, slay mine enemy.” Because if so be that thou sayest so, dost thou not fear lest He should answer thee, “If I should choose to slay thine enemy, I should first slay thee. What! dost thou glory because thou hast now come invited hither? Think only what thou wast but a little while ago. Hast thou not blasphemed Me? hast thou not derided Me? didst thou not wish to wipe out My Name from off the earth? Yet now thou dost applaud thyself because thou hast come invited hither! If I had slain thee when thou wast Mine enemy, how could I have made thee My friend? Why, by thy wicked prayers dost thou teach Me to do, what I did not in thine own case?” Yea rather God saith to thee, “Let me teach thee to imitate Me. When I was hanging on the Cross, I said, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do.’45 This lesson I taught My brave soldier. Be thou My recruit against the devil. In no other way wilt thou fight at all unconquerably, unless thou dost pray for thine enemies. Yet by all means ask this, yea ask this very thing, ask that thou mayest persecute thine enemy; but ask it with discernment; distinguish well what thou askest. See, a man is thine enemy; answer me, what is it in him which is at enmity with thee? Is it in this, that he is a man, that he is at enmity with thee? No. What then? That he is evil. In that he is a man, in that he is that I made him, he is not at enmity with thee.” He saith to thee, “I did not make man evil; he became evil by disobedience, who obeyed the devil46 rather than God. What he has made himself, is at enmity with thee; in that he is evil, he is thine enemy; not in that he is a man. For I hear the word “man,” and “evil;” the one is the name of nature the other of sin; the sin I cure; and the nature I preserve.” And so thy God saith to thee,” See, I do avenge thee, I do slay thine enemy; I take away that which makes him evil, I preserve that which constitutes him a man: now if I shall have made him a good man, have I not slain thine enemy, and made him thy friend?” So ask on what thou art asking, not that the men may perish, but that these their enmities may perish. For if thou pray for this, that the man may die; it is the prayer of one wicked man against another; and when thou dost say, “Slay the wicked one,” God answereth thee, “Which of you?”

10. Extend your love then, and limit it not to your wives and children. Such love is found even in beasts and sparrows. Ye know the sparrows and the swallows how they love their mates, how together they hatch their eggs, and nourish their young together, by a sort of free47 and natural kindliness, and with no thought of a return. For the sparrow does not say, “I will nourish my young, that when I am grown old, they may feed me.” He has no such thought; he loves and feeds them, for the love of them; displays the affection of a parent, and looks for no return. And so, I know, I am sure, do ye love your children. “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”48 Yea upon this plea it is that many of you excuse your covetousness, that ye are getting for your children, and are laying by for them.49 But I say, extend your love, let this love grow; for to love wives and children, is not yet that “wedding garment.” Have faith to Godward. First love God. Extend yourselves out to God; and whomsoever ye shall be able, draw on to God. There is thine enemy: let him be drawn to God. There is a son, a wife, a servant; let them be all drawn to God. There is a stranger; let him be drawn to God. There is an enemy; let him be drawn to God. Draw, draw on thine enemy; by drawing him on he shall cease to be thine enemy. So let charity be advanced, so be it nourished, that being nourished it may be perfected; so be “the wedding garment” put on; so be the image of God, after which we were created, by this our advancing, engraven anew in us. For by sin was it bruised, and worn away. How is it bruised? how worn away? When it is rubbed against the earth? And what is, “When it is rubbed against the earth “? When it is worn by earthly lusts. For “though man50 walketh in this image, yet is he disquieted in vain.”51 Truth is looked for in God’s image, not vanity.By the love of the truth then be that image, afterwhich we were created, engraven anew, and His Own tribute rendered to our Caesar. For so ye have heard from the Lord’s answer, when the Jews tempted Him, as He said, “Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites; show Me the tribute money,”52 that is, the impress and superscription of the image. Show me what ye pay, what ye get ready, what is exacted of you. And “they showed Him a denarius;” and “He asked whose image and superscription it had.” They answered, “Caesar’s.” So Caesar looks for his own image. It is not Caesar’s will that what he ordered to be made should be lost to him, and it is not surely God’s will that what He hath made should be lost to Him. Caesar, my Brethren, did not make the money; the masters of the mint53 make it; the workmen have their orders, he issues his commands to his ministers. His image was stamped upon the money; on the money was Caesar’s image. And yet he requires what others have stamped; he puts it in his treasures; he will not have it refused him. Christ’s coin is man. In him is Christ’s image, in him Christ’s Name, Christ’s gifts, Christ’s rules of duty.54

1 The great Church in Carthage where the bodies of the Martyr Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas lay. See Ben. ed. in Sermon 19,note.
2 Baptized fideles.
3 Apparatus.
4 Voluntati omnium.
5 (1Co 11,29
6 Liquido.
7 (Mt 19,17
8 (Mt 7,11
9 (Jn 13,10
10 (Mt 22,10
11 (1Jn 1,8
12 (1Jn 1,9).
13 Serm. 45,(xcv. Ben). 6.
14 (Mt 22,11
15 (Mt 22,12
16 (Ps 132,9
17 See note, Serm. 8,(lviii. Ben). 13 (xi)..
18 (2Co 5,3
19 (Mt 22,13
20 (Mt 22,14
21 (Mt 8,11).
22 (Ex 7
23 (1Co 12,29 etc.
24 (1Tm 1,5
25 (1Co 13,1
26 Sacramentorum.
27 (1Co 13,3
28 (1Jn 1,8
29 (Ph 2,21
30 Deferte).
31 (Ps 10,5 Sept. (xi. 5, English version).
32 Aurata.
33 (1Co 15,22
34 (Jc 2,19
35 (Mt 16,16
36 (Mt 8,29 Mc 1,24
37 (Mt 26,35
38 (Ga 5,6
39 (Ps 53,1
40 (Lc 23,34).
41 (Ac 7,51, 52.
42 Adhuc.
43 (Ac 7,59
44 (Ac 7,60
45 (Lc 23,34
46 Zabulo; Lactant). De Mort. Pers. 16.
47 Grata.
48 (2Co 12,14
49 Vid.Serm. 36,(lxxxvi. Ben). 11 (ix., x).).
50 Serm. 10,(lx. Ben). 2, etc.
51 (Ps 38,7 Sept. (xxxix. 6 English version).
52 (Mt 22,18-19.
53 Monetarii.
54 Officia.

Augustine on NT 89