Augustine on NT 120


Sermon LXX. [CXX. Ben.]

On the same words of Jn 1 “In the beginning was the word,” etc.

1). The beginning of John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.”1 Thus he begins, this he saw, and transcending the whole creation, mountains, air, the heavens, the stars, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Powers, all Angels, and Archangels, transcending all; he saw the Word in the beginning, and drank It in. He saw above every creature, he drank in from the Lord’s breast. For this same St. John the Evangelist is he whom Jesus specially loved; insomuch that he lay on His Breast at supper. There was this secret, that there from might be drunk in, what in the Gospel was to be poured forth. Happy they who hear and understand. Of the next degree of blessedness are they who though they understand not, believe. For how great a thing it is to see This Word of God, who can explain in human words?

2. Lift up your hearts, my Brethren, lift them up as best ye can; whatsoever occurs to you from the idea of any body whatsoever, reject.If the Word of God occurs to you under theidea of the light of this sun, expand, extend how you will, set no bounds in your thought tothat light; it is nothing to the Word of God.Whatsoever of this sort the mind conceives, isless in one part than in the whole. Of theWord conceive as Whole everywhere. Understand ye what I say; because of my stress of time I am limiting myself as much as I canfor your sakes. Understand ye what I say.Lo, this light from heaven, which is called by the name of the sun, when it comes forth, itenlightens the earth, unfolds the day, develops forms, distinguishes colours. Great blessing itis, great gift of God to all mortal men; let Hisworks magnify Him. If the sun is so beauteous, what more beauteous than the sun’s Maker? And yet look, Brethren; lo, he pours his rays through the whole earth; penetrates open places, the closed resist him; he sends his light through windows; can he also through a wall? To theWord of God all is open, from the Word of God nothing is hid. Observe another difference, how far from the Creator is the creature, especiallythe bodily creature. When the sun is in the East, it is not in the West. Its light indeed shed from that vast body reaches even to the West; but itself is not there. When it begins to set, then it will be there. When it rises, it is in the East; when it sets it is in the West By these operations of his, it has given name to those quarters. Because it is in the East when it rises at the East, it has made it be called the Rising Sun; because it is at the West when it sets at the West, it has made it be called the Setting Sun. At night it is nowhere seen. Is the Word of God so? When It is in the East, is It not in the West; or when It is in the West, is It not in the East? or does It ever leave the earth, and go under or behind the earth? It is Whole everywhere. Who can in words explain this? Who see it? By what means of proof shall I establish to you what I say? I am speaking as a man, it is to men I speak; I am speaking as one weak, to men weaker am I speaking. And yet, my brethren, I am bold to say that I do in some sort see what I am saying to you, though “through a glass,” or “darkly,” I do in some sort understand even within my heart a word touching this thing. But it seeks to go forth to you, and finds no meet vehicle. The vehicle of the word is the sound of the voice. What I am saying within mine own self I seek to say to you, and words fail. For I wish to speak of the Word of God. How great a Word, what kind of Word? “All things were made by Him.”2 See the works, and stand in awe of the Worker. “All things were made by Him.”

3. Return with me, O human infirmity, return, I say. Let us comprehend these human e things if we can. We are men, I who speak, I am a man, and to men I speak, and utter the sound of my voice. I convey the sound of my voice to men’s ears, and by the sound of my voice I somehow through the ear lay up understanding also in the heart. Let us then speak on this point what and how we can, let us comprehend it. But if we have not ability to comprehend even this, in respect of the Other what are we? Lo, ye are listening to me; I am speaking a word. If any one goes out from us, and is asked outside what is being done here, he answers, “The Bishop is speaking a word.” I am speaking a word of the Word. But what a word, of what a Word? A mortal word, of the Word Immortal; a changeable word, of the Word Unchangeable; a passing word of the Word Eternal. Nevertheless, consider my word. For I have told you already, the Word of God is Whole everywhere. See, I am speaking a word to you; what I say reaches to all. Now that what I am saying might come to you all, did ye divide what I say? If I , were to feed you, to wish to fill not your minds, but your bodies, and to set loaves before you to be satisfied therewith; would ye not divide my loaves among you? Could my loaves come to every one of you? If they came to one only, the rest would have none. But now see, I am speaking, and ye all receive. Nay, not only all receive, but all receive it whole. It comes whole to all, to each whole. O the marvels of my word! What then is the Word of God? Hear again. I have spoken; what I have spoken, has gone forth to you, and has not gone away from me. It has reached to you, and has not been separated from me. Before I spake, I had it, and ye had not; I spake, and ye began to have, and I lost nothing. O the marvel of my word! What then is the Word of God? From little things form conjectures of things great. Consider earthly things, laud the heavenly. I am a creature, ye are creatures; and such great miracles are done with my word in my heart, in my mouth, in my voice, in your ears, in your hearts. What then is the Creator? O Lord, hear us. Make us, for that Thou hast made us. Make us good, for that Thou hast made us enlightened men. These white-robed, enlightened ones hear Thy word by me. For enlightened by Thy grace they stand before Thee. “This is the day which the Lord hath made.”3 Only let them labour, let them pray for this, that when these days shall have gone by, they may not become darkness, who have been made the light of the wonders and the blessings of God.

1 (Jn 1,1).
2 (Jn 1,3
3 (Ps 118,24)


Sermon LXXI. [CXXI. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Jn 1,10 “The world was made through him,” etc.

1. By the Lord “was the world made, and the world knew Him not.”1 What world was made by Him, what world knew Him not? For it is not the same world that was made by Him, which knew Him not. What is the world that was made by Him? The heaven and earth. How did not the heaven know Him, when at His Passion the sun was darkened? How did not the earth know Him, when as He hung upon the Cross, it quaked? But “the world knew Him not,” whose Prince he is, of whom it is said, “Behold, the prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in me.”2 Wicked men are called the world; unbelieving men are called the world. They have gotten their name from that they love. By the love of God we are made gods; so by the love of the world, we are called the world. But “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”3 “The world” then “knew Him not.” What? “all men?”

2. “He came unto His Own, and His Own received Him not.”4 All things are His, but they are called His Own, from among whom His mother was, among whom He had taken Flesh, to whom He had sent before the heralds of His advent, to whom He had given the law, whom He had delivered from the Egyptian bondage, whose father Abraham according to the flesh He elected. For He said truth, “Before Abraham was, I am.”5 He did not say, “Before Abraham was,” or “before Abraham was made, I was made.” For “in the beginning the Word was,” not,” was made.” So then “He came unto His Own,” He came to the Jews. “And His Own received Him not.”

3. “But as many as received Him.”6 For of course the Apostles were there, who “received Him.” There were they who carried branches before His beast. They went before and followed after, and spread their garments, and cried with a loud voice, “Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is He That cometh in the Name of the Lord.”7 Then said the Pharisees unto Him, “Restrain the children, that they cry not out so unto Thee.” And He said, “If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.”8 Us He saw when He spake these words; “If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.” Who are stones, but they who worship stones? If the Jewish children shall hold their peace, the elder and the younger Gentiles shall cry out. Who are the stones, but they of whom speaketh that very John, who came “to bear witness of the Light “?9 For when he saw these self-same Jews priding themselves on their birth from Abraham, he said to them, “O generation of vipers.”10 They called themselves the children of Abraham; and he addressed them, “O generation of vipers.” Did he do Abraham wrong? God forbid! He gave them a name from their character. For that if they were the children of Abraham, they would imitate Abraham; as He too telleth them who say to Him, “We be free, and were never in bondage to any man; we have Abraham for our father.” And He said, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the deeds of Abraham. Ye wish to kill Me, because I tell you the truth. This did not Abraham.”11 Ye were of his stock, but ye are a degenerate stock. So then what said John? “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Because they came to be baptized with the baptism of John unto repentance. “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. And say not in your hearts, We have Abraham to our father. For God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”12 For God is able of these stones which he saw in the Spirit; to them he spake; he foresaw us; “For God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Of what stones? “If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.” Ye have just now heard, and cried out. It is fulfilled, “The stones shall cry out.” For from among the Gentiles we came, in our forefathers we worshipped stones. Therefore are we called dogs too. Call to mind what that woman heard who cried out after the Lord, for she was a Canaanitish woman, a worshipper of idols, the handmaid of devils. What said Jesus to her? “It is not good to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”13 Have ye never noticed, how dogs will lick the greasy stones? So are all the worshippers of images. But grace has come to you. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” See ye have here some just now born: to them hath He “given power to become the sons of God.” To whom hath He given it? “To them that believe in His Name.”

4. And how do they become the sons of God? “Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.”14 Having received power to become the sons of God, they are born of God. Marc then: They are born of God, “not of blood,” like their first birth, like that wretched birth, issuing out of wretchedness. But they who are born of God, what were they? whereby were they first born? Of blood; of the joint blood of the male and female, of the carnal union of male and female, from this were they born. From whence now? They are born of God. The first birth of the male and female; the second birth of God and the Church.

5. Lo, they are born of God; whereby is it brought to pass that they should be born of God, who were first born of men? Whereby is it brought to pass, whereby? “And the Word was made Flesh, that It might dwell among us.”15 Wondrous exchange; He made Flesh, they spirit. What is this? What condescension is here, my brethren! Lift up your minds to the hope and comprehension of better things. Give not yourselves up to worldly desires. “Ye have been bought with a Price; “16 for your sakes the Word was made Flesh; for your sakes He who was the Son of God, was made the Son of man: that ye who were the sons of men, might be made sons of God. What was He, what was He made? What were ye, what were ye made? He was the Son of God. What was He made? The Son of man. Ye were the sons of men. What were ye made? The sons of God. He shared with us our evil things, to give us His good things. But even in that He was made the Son of man, He is different much from us. We are the sons of men by the lust of the flesh; He the Son of man by the faith of a virgin. The mother of any other man whatever conceives by a carnal union; and every one is born of human parents, his father and his mother. But Christ was born of the Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mary. He came to us, but from Himself departed not far; yea from Himself as God He departed never; but added what He was to our nature. For He came to that which He was not, He did not lose what He was. He was made the Son of man; but did not cease to be the Son of God. Hereby the Mediator, in the middle. What is, “in the middle “? Neither up above, nor down below. How neither up above, nor down below? Not above, since He is Flesh; not below, since He is not a sinner. But yet in so far as He is God, above always. For He did not so come to us, as to leave the Father. From us He went, and did not leave us; to us will He come again, and will not leave Him.

1 (Jn 1,10
2 (Jn 14,30
3 2Co 5,19.
4 (Jn 1,11
5 (Jn 8,58
6 (Jn 1,12
7 (Mt 21,9
8 (Lc 19,39-40.
9 (Jn 1,8
10 (Mt 3,7
11 (Jn 8,39-40.
12 (Lc 3,7-8.
13 (Mt 15,26).
14 (Jn 1,13
15 (Jn 1,14
16 (1Co 6,20


Sermon LXXII. [CXXII. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Jn 1,48 “When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee,” etc.

1). What we have heard said by the Lord Jesus Christ to Nathanael, if we understand it aright, does not concern him only. For our Lord Jesus saw the whole human race under the fig-tree. For in this place it is understood that by the fig-tree He signified sin. Not that it always signifies this, but as I have said in this place, in that fitness of significancy, in which ye know that the first man, when he sinned, covered himself withfig leaves. For with these leaves they covered their nakedness when they blushed for their sin;1 and what God had made them for members, they made for themselves occasions of shame. For they had no need to blush for the work of God; but the cause of sin preceded shame. If iniquity had not gone before, nakedness would never have been put to the blush. For “they were naked, and were not ashamed.”2 For they had committed nothing to be ashamed for. But why have I said all this? That we may understand that by the fig-tree sin is signified. What then is, “when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee”?3 When thou wast under sin, I saw thee. And Nathanael looking back upon what had occurred, remembered that he had been under a fig-tree, where Christ was not. He was not there, that is, by His Bodily Presence; but by His knowledge in the Spirit where is He not? And because he knew that he was under the fig-tree alone, where the Lord Christ was not; when He said to him, “When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee;” he both acknowledged the Divinity in Him, and cried out, Thou art the King of Israel.”4

2. The Lord said, “Because I said unto thee, I saw thee when thou wast under the fig-tree, marvellest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.”5 What are these greater things? And He said, “Ye shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”6 Let us call to mind the old story written in the sacred Book. I mean in Genesis.7 When Jacob slept at a certain place, he put a stone at his head; and in his sleep he saw a ladder reaching from earth even unto heaven; and the Lord was resting upon it; and Angels were ascending and descending by it. This did Jacob see. A man’s dream would not have been recorded, had not some great mystery been figured in it, had not some great prophecy been to be understood in that vision. Accordingly, Jacob himself, because he understood what he had seen, placed a stone there, and anointed it with oil. Now ye recognise the anointing; recognise The Anointed also. For He is “the Stone which the builders rejected; He was made the Head of the corner.”8 He is the Stone of which Himself said, “Whosoever shall stumble against This Stone shall be shaken; but on whomsoever That Stone shall fall, It will crush him.”9 It is stumbled against as It lies on the earth; but It will fall on him, when He shall come from on high to judge the quick and dead. Woe to the Jews, for that when Christ lay low in His humility, they stumbled against Him. “This Man,” say they, “is not of God, because He breaketh the sabbath day.”10 “If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the cross.”11 Madman, the Stone lies on the ground, and so thou deridest It. But since thou dost deride It, thou art blind; since thou art blind, thou stumblest; since thou stumblest, thou art shaken i since thou hast been shaken by It as It now lies on the ground, hereafter shall thou be crushed by It as It fails from above. Therefore Jacob anointed the stone. Did he make an idol of it? He showed12 a meaning in it, but did not adore it. Now then give ear, attend to this Nathanael, by the occasion of whom the Lord Jesus hath been pleased to explain to us Jacob’s vision.

3. Ye that are well instructed in the school of Christ, know that this Jacob is Israel too. They are two names; for they are one man. His first name Jacob, which is by interpretation supplanter, he received when he was born. For when those twins were born, his brother Esau was born first; and the hand of the younger was found on the elder’s foot.13 He held his brother’s foot who preceded him in his birth, and himself came after And because of this occurrence, because he held his brother’s heel,14 he was called Jacob, that is, Supplanter. And afterwards, when he was returning from Mesopotamia, the Angel wrestled with him in the way.15 What comparison can there. be between an Angel’s and a man’s strength? Therefore it is a mystery, a sacrament, a prophecy, a figure; let us therefore understand it. For consider the manner of the struggle too. While he wrestleth, Jacob prevailed against the Angel. Some high meaning is here. And when the man had prevailed against the Angel, he kept hold of Him; yes, the man kept hold of Him whom he had conquered. And said to Him, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”16 When the conqueror was blessed by the Conquered, Christ was figured. So then that Angel, who is understood to be the Lord Jesus, saith to Jacob, “Thou shall not be any more called Jacob, but Israel shall thy name be,”17 which is by interpretation,” Seeing God.” After this He touched the sinew of his thigh, the broad part, that is, of the thigh, and it dried up; and Jacob became lame. Such was He who was conquered. So great power had this Conquered One, as to touch the thigh, and make lame. It was then with His Own will that He was conquered. For He “had power to lay down” His strength, “and He had power to take It up.”18 He is not angry at being conquered, for He is not angry at being crucified. For He even blessed him, saying, “Thou shall not be called Jacob, but Israel.” Then the” supplanter” was made “the seer of God.” And He touched, as I have said, his thigh, and made him lame. Observe in Jacob the people of the Jews, those thousands who followed and went before the Lord’s beast, who in concert with the Apostles worshipped the Lord, and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”19 Behold Jacob blessed. He has continued lame until now in them who are at this day Jews. For the broad part of the thigh signifies the multitude ofincrease. Of whom the Psalm, when it prophesied that the Nations should believe, speaketh, saying, “A people whom I have not known, hath served Me; by the hearing of the ear it hath obeyed Me.”20 I was not there, and I was heard; here I was, and I was killed. “A people whom I have not known, hath served Me; by the hearing of the ear it hath obeyed Me.” Therefore, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”21 And it goes on, “The strange children have lied unto Me;” concerning the Jews. “The strange children have lied unto Me, the strange children have faded away and have halted from their paths.” I have pointed out Jacob to you, Jacob blessed and Jacob lame.

4. But as arising out of this occasion, this must not be passed over, which may haply of itself perplex some of you; with what design is it, that when this Jacob’s grandfather Abraham’s name was changed (for he too was first called Abram, and God changed his name, and said, “Thou shall not be called Abram, but Abraham”22 ; from that time he was not called Abram. Search in the Scriptures, and you will see that before he received another name, he was called only Abram; after he received it, he was called only Abraham. But this Jacob, when he received another name, heard the same words, “Thou shalt not be called Jacob, but Israel shalt thou be called.”23 Search the Scriptures, and see how that he was always called both, both Jacob and Israel. Abram after he had received another name, was called only Abraham. Jacob after he had received another name, was called both Jacob and Israel. The name of Abraham was to be developed in this world; for here he was made the father of many nations, whence he received his name. But the name of Israel relates to another world, where we shall see God. Therefore the people of God, the Christian people in this present time, is both Jacob and Israel, Jacob in fact, Israel in hope. For the younger people is called the Supplanter of its brother the eider people. What! have we supplanted the Jews? No, but we are said to be their supplanters, for that for our sakes they were supplanted. If they had not been blinded, Christ would not have been crucified; His precious Blood would not have been shed; if that Blood had not been shed, the world would not have been redeemed. Because then their blindness hath profited us, therefore hath the eider brother been supplanted by the younger, and the younger is called the Supplanter. But how long shall this be?

5. The time will come, the end of the world will come, and all Israel shall believe; not they who now are, but their children who shall then be. For these present walking in their own ways, will go to their own place, will pass on to everlasting damnation. But when they shall have been made all one people, that shall come to pass which we sing, “I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall be manifested.”24 When the promise which is made to us, that we “see face to flee,” shall come. “Now we see through a glass darkly,” and “in part;”25 but when both people, now purified, now raised again, now crowned, now changed into an immortal form, and into everlasting incorruption, shall see God face to face, and Jacob shall be no more, but there shall be Israel only; then shall the Lord see him in the person of this holy Nathanael, and shall say, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”26 When thou dost hear, “Behold an Israelite indeed;” let Israel come into thy mind; when Israel shall come into thy mind, let his dream come into thy mind, in which he saw a ladder from earth even to heaven, the Lord standing upon it, the Angels of God ascending and descending. This dream did Jacob see. But after this he was called Israel; that is, some little time after as he came from Mesopotamia, and on his journey. If then Jacob saw the ladder, and he is also called Israel; and this Nathanael is an “Israelite indeed in whom is no guile ·” therefore when he wondered because the Lord. said to him, “I saw thee under the fig-tree;”27 did He say to him, “Thou shalt see greater things than these.”28 And so He announced to him Jacob’s dream. To whom did He announce it? To him whom He called “an Israelite, in whom was no guile.” As if He had said, “His dream, by whose name I have called thee, shall be manifested in thee; make no haste to wonder, “thou shalt see greater things than these. Ye shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending unto the Son of Man.”29 See what Jacob saw; see why Jacob anointed the stone with oil; see why Jacob prophetically signified and prefigured the Anointed One. For that action was a prophecy.

6. Now I know what you are waiting for; I understand what you would hear from me. This too will I briefly declare, as the Lord enableth me; “ascending and descending unto the Sonof Man.” How—if they descend to Him, He is here; if they ascend to Him, He is above. But if they ascend to Him, and descend toHim, He is at once above and here. It cannot any way possibly be, that they should ascend to Him, and descend to Him, unless He be both there whither they ascend, and here whither they descend—How do we prove that He is both there, and that He is here? Let Paul, who was first Saul, answer us. He found it by experience, when he was first a persecutor, and afterwards became a preacher; first Jacob, afterwards Israel; who was himself too “of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin.”30 In him let us see Christ above, Christ below. First, the very Voice of the Lord from heaven shows this; “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? “31 What! had Paul ascended into heaven? Had Paul so much as cast a stone into heaven? He was persecuting the Christians, binding them, baling them to be put to death, searching them out in every place where they lay hid, when they were found on no consideration sparing them. To whom the Lord Christ saith, “Saul, Saul.” Whence crieth He? From heaven. Therefore He is above. “Why persecutest thou Me?” Therefore He is below. Thus have I explained all, though briefly, yet as well as I could to you, Beloved. I have ministered to you according to my duty, and now for your duty, do ye think upon the poor. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.

1 (Gn 3,7
2 (Gn 2,25
3 (Jn 1,48
4 (Jn 1,49
5 (Jn 1,50
6 (Jn 1,51
7 (Gn 28,11).
8 (Ps 118,22
9 (Mt 21,44
10 (Jn 9,16
11 (Mt 27,40
12 Significavit.
13 (Gn 25,25-26.
14 Plantam.
15 (Gn 32,24
16 (Gn 32,26
17 (Gn 35,10
18 (Jn 10,18
19 (Mt 21,9
20 (Ps 17,43-44 Sept. (xviii. 43, 44, English version).
21 (Rm 10,17
22 (Gn 17,5
23 (Gn 32,28 Gn 35,10).
24 (Ps 16,15 Sept. (xvii. 15, English version).
25 (1Co 13,12
26 (Jn 1,47
27 (Jn 1,48
28 (Jn 1,50
29 (Jn 1,51
30 (Ph 3,5
31 (Ac 9,4).


Sermon LXXIII. [CXXIII. Ben.]

On the words of the gospel, Jn 2,2 “and Jesus also was bidden, and his disciples, to the marriage.”

1). Ye know, Brethren, for ye have learnt it as believing in Christ, and continually too do we by our ministry impress it upon you, that the humility of Christ is the medicine of man’s swollen pride. For man would not have perished, had he not been swollen up through pride. For “pride,” as saith the Scripture, “is the beginning of all sin.”1 Against the beginning of sin, the beginning of righteousness was necessary. If then pride be the beginning of all sin, whereby should the swelling of pride be cured, had not God vouchsafed to humble Himself? Let man blush to be proud, seeing that God hath humbled Himself. For when man is told to humble himself, he disdains it; and when men are injured, it is pride that makes them wish to be avenged. Forasmuch as they disdain to humble themselves, they wish to be avenged; as if another’s punishment could be any profit to any man. One who has been hurt and suffered wrong wishes to be avenged; be seeks his own remedy from another’s punishment, and gains a great torment. The Lord Christ therefore vouchsafed to humble Himself in all things, showing us the way; if we but think meet to walk thereby.

2. Among His other acts, lo, the Virgin’s Son comes to the marriage; who being with the Father instituted marriage. As the first woman, by whom came sin, was made of a man without a woman; so the Man by whom sin was done away, was made of a woman without a man. By the first we fell, by the other we rise. And what did He at this marriage? Of water He made wine. What greater sign of power? He who had power to do such things, vouchsafed to be in need. He who made of water wine could also have of stones made bread. The power was the same; but then the devil tempted Him, therefore Christ did it not. For ye know that when the Lord Christ was tempted, the devil suggested this to Him. For He was an hungred, since this too He vouchsafed to be, since this too made part of His Humiliation. The Bread was hungry, as the Way fainted, as saving Health was wounded, as the Life died. When then He was an hungred as ye know, the tempter said to Him, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”2 And He made answer to the tempter, teaching thee to answer the tempter. For to this end does the general fight, that the soldiers may learn. What answer did He make? “Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”3 And He did not make bread of the stones, who of course could as easily have done it, as He made of water wine. For it is an exercise of the same power to make bread of stone; but He did it not, that He might despise the tempter’s will. For no otherwise is the tempter overcome, but by being despised. And when He had overcome the devil’s temptation, “Angels came and ministered to Him.”4 He then who had so great power, why did He not do the one, and do the other? Read, yea, recollect what thou hast just heard, when He did this, when, that is, He made of the water wine; what did the Evangelist add? “And His disciples believed on Him.”5 Would the devil on the other occasion have believed on Him?

3. He then who could do so great things, was hungry, and athirst, was wearied, slept, was apprehended, beaten, crucified, slain. This is the way; walk by humility, that thou mayest come to eternity. Christ-God is the Country whither we go; Christ-Man is the Way whereby we go. To Him we go, by Him we go; why fear we lest we go astray? He departed not from the Father; and came to us. He sucked the breasts, and He contained the world. He lay in the manger, and He fed the Angels. God and Man, the same God who is Man, the same Man who is God. But not God in that wherein He is Man, God, in that He is the Word; Man, in that the Word was made Flesh; by at once continuing to be God, and by assuming man’s Flesh; by adding what He was not, not losing what He was. Therefore henceforward, having now suffered in this His humiliation, dead, and buried, He has now risen again, and ascended into heaven, there He is, and sitteth at the right Hand of the Father: and here He is needy in His poor. Yesterday too I set this forth to your Affection by occasion of what He said to Nathanael, “Thou shalt see a greater thing than this. For I say unto you, Ye shall see Heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending unto the Son of Man.”6 We searched out what this meant, and spake at some length; must we recapitulate the same to-day? Let those who were present remember; yet I will briefly run over it.

4. He would not say, “ascending unto the Son of Man,” unless He were above; He would not say, “descending unto the Son of Man,” unless He were also below. He is at once above, and below; above in Himself, below in His; above with the Father, below in us. Whence also was that Voice to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”7 He would not say, “Saul, Saul,” unless that He was above. But Saul was not persecuting Him above. He then who was above would not have said, “Why persecutest thou me?” unless He were below also. Fear Christ above; recognise Him below. Have Christ above bestowing His bounty, recognise Him here in need. Here He is poor, there He is rich. That Christ is poor here, He tells us Himself for me, “I was an hungred, I was thirsty, I was naked, I was a stranger, I was in prison.”8 And to some He said, “Ye have ministered unto Me,” and to some He said, “Ye have not ministered unto Me.” Lo, we have proved Christ poor; that Christ is Rich, who knows not? And even here it was a property of these riches to turn the water into wine. If he who has wine is rich, how rich is He who maketh wine? So then Christ is rich and poor; as God, rich; as Man, poor. Yea rich too now as Very Man He hath ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right Hand of the Father; yet still He is poor and hungry here, thirsty, and naked.

5. What art thou? Rich, or poor? Many tell me, I am poor; and they tell the truth. I recognise some poor having something, and some having want. But some have much gold and silver. O that they would acknowledge themselves poor! Poor they will acknowledge themselves, if they acknowledge the poor about them. For how is it? How much soever thou hast, thou rich man whosoever thou art, thou art God’s beggar. The hour of prayer comes, and there I prove thee. Thou makest thy petition. How art thou not poor, who makest thy petition? I say more, Thou makest petition for bread. Wilt thou not have to say, “Give us our daily bread “?9 Thou, who askest for daily bread, art thou poor, or rich? And yet Christ saith to thee, “Give Me of that which I have given thee. For what didst thou bring here, when thou camest hither? All things that I created, thyself created hast found here; nothing didst thou bring, nothing shalt thou take away. Why wilt thou not give Me of Mine Own? For thou art full, and the poor man is empty. Look at your first origin; naked were ye both born. Thou too then wast born naked. Great store hast thou found here; didst thou bring ought with thee? I ask for Mine Own; give, and I will repay. Thou hast found Me a bountiful giver, make Me at once thy debtor. It is not enough to say, ‘Thou hast found Me a bountiful giver, make Me at once thy debtor;’ let Me regard thee as lending upon interest. Thou givest me but little, I will repay more. Thou givest me earthly things, I will repay heavenly. Thou givest me temporal things, I will restore eternal. I will restore thee to thyself, when I shall have restored thee unto Me.”

1 (Si 10,13
2 (Mt 4,3
3 (Mt 4,4
4 (Mt 4,11
5 (Jn 2,11
6 (Jn 1,50-51.
7 (Ac 9,4
8 (Mt 25,35 etc).
9 (Mt 6,11

Augustine on NT 120