Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament 61-70

Author: Augustine

(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all discovered errors.)



[Translated by Rev. R. G. MacMullen. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.]




1. "THE three measures of meal"(10) of which the Lord spake, is the human race. Recollect the deluge; three only remained, from whom the rest were to be re-peopled. Noe had three sons, by them was repaired the human race. That holy "woman who hid the leaven," is Wisdom. Lo, the whole world crieth out in the Church of God, "I know that the Lord is great."(11) Yet doubtless there are but few who are saved. Ye remember a question which was lately set before us out of the Gospel, "Lord," it was said, "are there few that be saved ?"(12)What said the Lord to this? He did not say, "Not few, but many are they who are saved." He did not say this. But what said He, when He had heard, "Are there few that be saved? Strive to enter by the strait gate."(1) When thou hearest then, "Are there few that be saved?" the Lord confirmed what He heard. Through the "strait gate" but "few" can "enter." In another place He saith Himself, "Strait and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that go thereby: but broad and spacious is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which walk thereby."(2) Why rejoice we in great numbers? Give ear to me, ye "few." I know that ye are "many," who hear me, yet but "few" of you hear to obey. I see the floor, I look for the corn. And hardly is the corn seen, when the floor is being threshed; but the time is coming, that it shall be winnowed. But few then are saved m comparison of the many that shall perish. For these same "few" will constitute in themselves a great mass. When the Winnower shall come with His fan in His Hand, "He will cleanse His floor, and lay up the wheat into the garner; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."(3) Let not the chaff scoff at the wheat; in this He speaketh truth, and deceiveth no one. Be ye then in yourselves among many a many, few though ye be in comparison of a certain many. So large a mass is to come out of this floor, as to fill the garner of heaven. For the Lord Christ would not contradict Himself, who hath said, "Many there are who enter in by the narrow gate, many who go to ruin through the wide gate;" contradict Himself, who hath in another place said, "Many shall come from the East and West."(4) "Many" then are the "few;" both "few" and "many." Are the "few" one sort, and the "many" another? No. But the "few" are themselves the "many;" "few" in comparison of the lost, "many in the society of the Angels. Hearken, dearly Beloved. The Apocalypse hath this written; "After this I beheld of all languages, and nations, and tribes, a great multitude, which no man can number, coming with white robes and palms."(5) This is the mass of the saints. With how much clearer voice will the floor say, when it has been fanned, separated from the crowd of ungodly, and evil, and false Christians, when those who "press" and do not "touch" (for a certain woman in the Gospel "touched," the crowd "pressed" Christ), shall have been severed unto everlasting fire; when all they then, who are to be damned shall have been separated off, with how great assurance will the purified mass, standing at the Right Hand, fearing now for itself the admixture of no evil men, nor the loss of any of the good, now about to reign with Christ, say, "I know that the Lord is great"!(6)

2. If then, my Brethren (I am speaking to the corn), if they acknowledge what I say, predestined unto life eternal, let them speak by their works, not by their voices. I am constrained to speak to you, what I ought not. For I ought to find in you matter of praise, not to seek subjects for admonition. Yet see I will say but a few words, I will not dwell upon it. Acknowledge the duty of hospitality, thereby some have attained unto God. Thou takest in some stranger, whose companion in the way thou thyself also art; for strangers are we all. He is a Christian who, even in his own house and in his own country, acknowledges himself to be a stranger. For our country is above, there we shall not be strangers. For every one here below, even in his own house, is a stranger. If he be not a stranger, let him not pass on from hence. If pass on he must, he is a stranger. Let him not deceive himself, a stranger he is; whether he will or not, he is a stranger. And he leaves that house to his children, one stranger to other strangers. Why? If thou wert at an inn, wouldest thou not depart when another comes? The same thou doest even in thine own house. Thy father left a place to thee, thou wilt some day leave it to thy children. Neither dost thou abide here, as one who is to abide always, nor to those who are so to abide, wilt thou leave it. If we are all passing away, let us do something which cannot pass away, that when we shall have passed away, and have come thither whence we may not pass away, we may find our good works there. Christ is the keeper, why dost thou fear lest thou shouldest lose what thou spendest on the poor? "Let us turn to the Lord," etc.

And after the Sermon.

I suggest to you, Beloved, what ye know already. To-morrow breaks the anniversary day of the venerable(7) lord Aurelius' ordination; he asks and admonishes you, dear Brethren, by my humble ministry, that ye would be so good (8) as to meet together with all devotion at the basilica of Faustus. Thanks be to God.




Delivered in the basilica Restituta.(9)

1. Holy lessons have been set forth before us, to which we should both give ear, and upon which by the Lord's help I would deliver some observations. In the Apostolic lesson thanks are rendered unto the Lord for the faith of the Gentiles, of course, because it was His work. In the Psalm we have said, "O God of hosts, turn us, and show us Thy Face, and we shall be saved."(1) In the Gospel we have been called to a supper; yea, rather others have been called, we not called, but led; not only led, but even forced. For so have we heard, that "a certain Man made a great supper."(2) Who is this Man, but "the Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"?(3) He sent that those who had been invited might come, for the hour was now come, that they should come. Who are they who had been invited, but those who had been called by the Prophets who were sent before? When? Of old, ever since the Prophets were sent, they invited to Christ's supper. They were sent then to the people of Israel. Often were they sent, often did they call men, to come at the hour of supper. But they received those who invited them, refused the supper. What means "they received those who invited them, refused the supper"? They read the Prophets and killed Christ. But when they killed Him, then though they knew it not, they prepared a Supper for us. When the Supper was now prepared, when Christ had been offered up, when the Supper of the Lord, which the faithful know, had been set forth after the resurrection of Christ, and established by His Hands and Mouth, were the Apostles sent to them, to whom the Prophets had been sent before. "Come ye to the supper."

2. They who would not come made excuses. And how did they excuse themselves? There were three excuses: "One said, I have bought a farm,(4) and I go to see it; have me excused. Another said, I have bought five pairs of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. A third said, I have married a wife, have me excused; I cannot come."(5) Do we suppose that these are not the excuses, which hinder all men, who decline to come to this supper? Let us look into them, discuss, find them out; but only that we may beware. In the purchase of the farm, the spirit of domination is marked out; therefore pride is rebuked. For men are delighted to have a farm, to hold, to possess it, to have men in it under them, to have dominion. An evil vice, the first vice. For the first man wished to have dominion, in that he would not that any should have dominion over him. What is to have dominion, but to take pleasure in one's own power? There is a greater power, let us submit ourselves to it, that we may be able to be safe. "I have bought a farm, have me excused." Having discovered pride, he would not come.

3. "Another said, I have bought five pairs of oxen." Would it not have been enough, have bought oxen"? Something beyond doubt there is, which by its very obscurity challenges us to seek out, and understand; and in that it is shut, He exhorteth us to knock. The five pairs of oxen are the senses of this body. There are numbered five senses of this body, as is known to all; and they who, it may be, do not consider it, will doubtless perceive it on being reminded of it. There are then found to be five senses of this body. In the eyes is the sight, the hearing in the ears, the smell in the nose, the taste in the mouth, the touch in all the members. We have perception of white and black, and things coloured in whatever way, light and dark, by the sight. Harsh and musical sounds, we have perception of by the hearing. Of sweet and offensive smells, we have perception by the smell. Of things sweet and bitter by the taste. Of things hard and soft, smooth and rough, warm and cold, heavy and light, by the touch. They are five, and they are pairs. Now that they are pairs, is seen most easily in the case of the three first senses. There are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils; see three pairs. In the mouth, that is in the sense of taste, a certain doubling is found, because nothing affects the taste, unless it is ,touched by the tongue and the palate. The pleasure of the flesh which pertains to the touch, has this doubling in a less obvious way. For there is both an outer and an inner touch. And so it too is double. Why are they called pairs of oxen? Because by these senses of the body, earthly things are sought for. For oxen turn up the earth. So there are men far off from faith, given up to earthly things, occupied in the things of the flesh; who will not believe anything but what they attain to by the five senses of their body. In those five senses do they lay down for themselves the rules of their whole will. "I will not believe," says one, "anything but what I see. See, here is what I know, and am sure of Such a thing is white, or black, or round, or square, or coloured so and so; this I know, am sensible of, have a hold of; nature itself teaches it me. I am not forced to believe what you cannot show me. Or it is a voice: I perceive that it is a voice; it sings well, it sings ill, it is sweet, it is harsh. I know, I know this, it has come to me. There is a good or a bad smell: I know, I perceive it. This is sweet, this is bitter; this is salt, this insipid. I know not what you would tell me more. By the touch I know what is hard, what is soft; what is smooth, what is rough; what is warm, and what cold. What more would you show me?"

4. By such an impediment was our Apostle Thomas held back, who as to the Lord Christ, the resurrection that is of Christ, would not believe even his own eyes only. "Unless," says he, "I put my fingers into the places of the nails and wounds, and unless I put my hand into His side, I will not believe."[1] And the Lord who could have risen again without any vestige of a wound, kept the scars, that they might be touched by the doubting Apostle, and the wounds of his heart be healed. And yet as designing to call to His supper others, against the excuse of "the five pairs of oxen," He said, "Blessed they who do not see, and believe."[2] We, my Brethren, who have been called to this supper, have not been kept back by "these five pairs." For we have not in this age desired to see the Face of the Lord's Body, nor have we longed to hear the Voice proceeding oat of the mouth of that Body; we have not sought in Him for any passing[3] odour. A certain "woman anointed Him with most costly ointment," that "house was filled with the odour;"[4] but we were not there; lo, we did not smell, yet we believe. He gave to the disciples the Supper consecrated by His Own Hands; but we did not sit clown at that Feast, and yet we daily eat this same Supper by faith. And do not think it strange that in that supper which He gave with His Own Hand, one was present without faith: the faith that appeared, afterwards was more than a compensation for that faithlessness then. Paul was not there who believed, Judas was there who betrayed. How many now too in this same Supper, though they saw not then that table, nor beheld with their eyes, nor tasted with their mouths, the bread which the Lord took in His Hands, yet because it is the same as is now prepared, how many now also in this same Supper, "eat and drink judgment to themselves "?[5]

5. But whence arose an occasion, so to say, to the Lord, to speak of this supper? One of them that sat at meat with Him (for He was at a feast, whither He had been invited), had said, "Blessed are they who eat bread in the kingdom of God."[6] He sighed as though after distant things, and the Bread Himself was sitting down before him. Who is the Bread of the kingdom of God, but He who saith, "I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven "?[7] Do not get thy mouth ready, but thine heart. On this occasion it was that the parable of this supper was set forth. Lo, we believe in Christ, we receive Him with faith. In receiving Him we know what to think of. We receive but little, and we are nourished in heart. It is not then what is seen, but what is believed, that feeds us. Therefore we too have not sought for that outward sense; nor have we said, "Let them believe who have seen with their eyes, and handled with their hands the Lord Himself after His resurrection, if what is said be true; we do not touch Him, why should we believe?" If we were to entertain such thoughts, we should be kept back from the supper by those "five pairs of oxen." That ye may know, Brethren, that not the gratification of these five senses, which softens and ministers pleasure, but a kind of curiosity was denoted, He did not say, "' I have bought five pairs of oxen,' and I go to feed them;" but, "I go to prove them." He who wishes to "prove "by "the pairs of oxen," does not wish to be in doubt, just as St. Thomas by these "pairs" did not wish to be in doubt. "Let me see, let me touch, let me put in my fingers." "'Behold,' saith the Lord, 'put in thy fingers along My Side, and be not unbelieving.'[8] For thy sake have I been slain; at the place which thou wishest to touch, have I shed My Blood, that I might redeem thee; and dost thou still doubt of Me, unless thou touch Me? Behold, this too I grant; behold, this too I show thee; touch, and believe; find out the place of My wound, heal the wound of thy doubting."

6. "The third said, I have married a wife." This is the pleasure of the flesh, which is a hindrance to many: and I would that it were so only without, and not within! There are men who say, "There is no happiness for a man, if he have not the pleasures of the flesh." These are they whom the Apostle censures, saying, "' Let us eat and drink, for to- morrow we shall die.'[9] Who hath risen to this life from the other? Who hath ever told us what goes on there? We take away with us, what in the time present makes our happiness." He that speaks thus, "has married a wife," attaches himself to the flesh, places his delight in the pleasures of the flesh, excuses himself from the supper; let him look well to it that he die not by an inward famine. Attend to John, the holy Apostle and Evangelist; "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."[10] O ye who come to the Supper of the Lord, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." He did not say, "Have not;" but, "Love not." Thou hast had, possessed, loved. The love of earthly things, is the bird-lime of the spirit's wings. Lo, thou hast desired, thou hast stuck fast. "Who will give thee wings as of a dove?"[11] When wilt thou fly, whither thou mayest in deed, seeing thou hast perversely wished to rest here, where thou hast to thy hurt stuck fast? "Love not the world," is the divine trumpet. By the voice of this trumpet unceasingly is it proclaimed to the compass of the earth, and to the whole world, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Whosoever loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of life."[1] He begins at the last with which the Gospel ends. He begins at that, at which the Gospel made an end. "The lust of the flesh, I have married a wife. The lust of the eyes, I have bought five pairs of oxen. The ambition of life, I have bought a farm."

7. Now these senses are denoted by the mention of the eyes only, the whole by a part, because the pre-eminence in the five senses belongs to the eyes. Wherefore though sight belongs peculiarly to the eyes, we are accustomed to use the word "seeing" through all the five senses. How? In the first place, in relation to the eyes themselves we say; "See how white it is, look and see how white it is:" this has relation to the eyes. Hear and see how musical it is !Could we say conversely, "Hear and see how white it is "? This expression, "see," runs through all the senses; whereas the distinguishing expression[2] of the other senses does not in its turn run through it. "Mark and see how musical; smell and see how agreeable it is; taste and see how sweet it is; touch and see how soft it is." And yet surely since they are senses, we should rather say thus; "Hear and be sensible how musical it is; smell and be sensible how agreeable it is; taste and be sensible how sweet it is; touch and be sensible how hot it is; handle and be sensible how smooth it is; handle and be sensible how soft it is." But we say none of these. For thus the Lord Himself after His resurrection when He appeared to His disciples, and when though they saw Him they still wavered in faith supposing that they saw a spirit, said, "Why do ye doubt, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My Hands and My Feet." It is not enough to say, "See;" He saith, "Touch, and handle, and see."[3] "Look and see, handle and see; with the eyes alone see, and see by all the senses." Because He was looking for the inner sense of faith, He offered Himself to the outward senses of the body. We have made no attainment[4] in the Lord by these outward senses, we have heard with our ears, have believed with our heart; and this hearing not from His mouth, but from the mouth of His preachers, from their mouths who were already at the supper, and who by the pouring forth of what they there drunk in invited us.

8. Let us away then with vain and evil excuses, and come we to the supper by which we may be made fat within. Let not the puffing up of pride keep us back, let it not lift us up, nor unlawful curiosity scare us, and turn us away from God; let not the pleasure of the flesh hinder us from the pleasure of the heart. Let us come, and be filled. And who came but the beggars, the "maimed," the "halt," the "blind"? But there came not thither the rich, and the whole, who walked, as they thought, well, and saw acutely; who had great confidence in themselves, and were therefore in the more desperate case, in proportion as they were more proud. Let the beggars come, for He inviteth them, "who, though He was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we beggars through His poverty might be enriched."[5] Let the maimed come, "for they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are in evil case."[6] Let the halt come who may say to Him, "Set in order my steps in Thy paths."[7] Let the blind come who may say, "Enlighten mine eyes, that I may never sleep in death."[8] Such as these came at the hour, when those who had been first invited, had been rejected for their own excuses: they came at the hour, they entered in from the streets and lanes of the city. And the servant "who had been sent," brought answer, "Lord, it is done as Thou hast commanded, and yet there is room." "Go out," saith He," into the highways and hedges, and compel those whom thou shall find to come in."[9] Whom thou shall find wait not till they choose to come, compel them to come in. I have prepared a great supper, a great house, I cannot suffer any place to be vacant in it. The Gentiles came from the streets and lanes: let the heretics come from the hedges, here they shall find peace. For those who make hedges, their object is to make divisions. Let them be drawn away from the hedges, let them be plucked up from among the thorns. They have stuck fast in the hedges, they are unwilling to be compelled.[10] Let us come in, they says of our own good will. This is not the Lord's order, "Compel them," saith he, "to come in." Let compulsion be found outside, the will arise within.




1. Our duty is to give to others the admonitions we have received ourselves. The recent lesson of the Gospel has admonished us to make friends of the mammon of iniquity, that they too may" receive "those who do so" into everlasting habitations." But who are they that shall have everlasting habitations, but the hints of God? And who are they who are to be received by them into everlasting habitations, but they who serve their need, and minister cheerfully to their necessities? Accordingly let us remember, that in the last judgment the Lord will say to those who shall stand on His right hand, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat;" and the rest which ye know. And upon their enquiring when they had afforded these good offices to Him, He answered, "When ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it unto Me."[1] These least are they who receive into everlasting habitations. This He said to them on the right hand, because they did so: and the contrary He said to them on the left, because they would not. But what have they on the right hand who did so, received, or rather, what are they to receive? "Come," says He, "ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat. When ye did it to one of the least of Mine, ye did it unto Me."[2] Who then are these least ones of Christ? They are those who have left all they had, and followed Him, and have distributed whatever they had to the poor; that unencumbered and without any worldly fetter they might serve God, and might lift their shoulders free from the burdens of the world, and winged as it were aloft. These are the least. And why the least? Because lowly, because not puffed up, not proud. Yet weigh them in the scales, these least ones, and thou wilt find them a heavy weight.

2. But what means it, that He says they are "friends of the mammon of iniquity "? What is "the mammon of iniquity "? First, what is "mammon "? For it is not a Latin word. It is a Hebrew word, and cognate to the Punic language. For these languages are allied to one another by a kind of nearness of signification. What the Punics call mammon, is called in Latin, "lucre "[3] What the Hebrews call mammon, is called in Latin, "riches." That we may express the whole then in Latin, our Lord Jesus Christ says this, "Make to yourselves friends of the riches of iniquity." Some, by a bad understanding of this, plunder the goods of others, and bestow some of that upon the poor, and so think that they do what is enjoined them. For they say, "To plunder the goods of others, is the mammon of iniquity; to spend some of it, especially on the poor saints, this is to make friends with the mammon of iniquity. This understanding of it must be corrected, yea, must be utterly effaced from the tablets of your heart. I would not that ye should so understand it. Give alms of your righteous labours: give out of that which ye possess rightfully. For ye cannot corrupt Christ your Judge, that He should not hear you together with the poor, from whom ye take away. For if thou wert to despoil any one who was weak, thyself being stronger and of greater power, and he were to come with thee to the judge, any man you please on this earth, who had any power of judging, and he were to wish to plead his cause with thee; if thou wert to give anything of the spoil and plunder of that poor man to the judge, that he might pronounce judgment in thy favour; would that judge please even thee? True, he has pronounced judgment in thy favour, and yet so great is the force of justice, that he would displease even thee. Do not then represent God to thyself as such an one as this. Do not set up such an idol in the temple of thine heart. Thy God is not such as thou oughtest not to be thyself. If thou wouldest not judge so, but wouldest judge justly; even so thy God is better than thou: He is not inferior to thee: He is more just, He is the fountain of justice. Whatsoever good thou hast done, thou hast gotten from Him; and whatsoever good thou hast given vent to,[4] thou hast drunk in from Him. Dost thou praise the vessel, because it hath something from Him, and blame the fountain? Do not give alms out of usury and increase. I am speaking to the faithful, am speaking to those to whom we distribute the body of Christ. Be in fear and amend yourselves: that I may not have hereafter to say, Thou doest so, and thou too doest so. Yet I trow, that if I should do so, ye ought not to be angry with me, but with yourselves, that ye may amend yourselves. For this is the meaning of the expression in the Psalm, "Be ye angry, and sin not."[5] I would have you be angry, but only that ye may not sin. Now in order that ye may not sin, with whom ought ye to be angry but with yourselves? For what is a penitent man, but a man who is angry with himself? That he may obtain pardon, he exacts punishment from himself; and so with good right says to God, "Turn Thine eyes from my sins, for I acknowledge my sin."[6] If thou acknowledgest it, then He will pardon it. Ye then who have done so wrongly, do so no more: it is not lawful.

3. But if ye have done so already, and have such money in your possession, and have filled your coffers thereby, and were heaping up treasure by these means: what ye have comes of evil, now then add not evil to it, and make to yourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity. Had Zacchaeus what he had from good sources ?[7] Read and see. He was the chief of the publicans, that is, he was one to whom the public taxes were paid in: by this he had his wealth. He had oppressed many, had taken from many, and so had heaped much together. Christ entered into his house, and salvation came upon his house; for so said the Lord Himself, "This day is salvation come to this house."[1] Now mark the method of this salvation. First he was longing to see the Lord, because he was little in stature: but when the crowd hindered him, he got up into a sycamore tree, and saw Him as He passed by. But Jesus saw him, and said, "Zacchaeus, come down, I must abide at thy house." Thou art hanging there, but I will not keep thee in suspense. I will not, that is, put thee off. Thou didst wish to see Me as I passed by, to-day shalt thou find Me dwelling at thy house. So the Lord went in unto him, and he, filled with joy, said, "The half of my goods I give to the poor." Lo, how swiftly he runs, who runs to make friends of the mammon of iniquity. And lest he should be held guilty on any other account, he said, "If I have taken anything from any man, I" will "restore fourfold." He inflicted sentence of condemnation on himself, that he might not incur damnation. So then, ye who have anything from evil sources, do good therewith. Ye who have not, wish not to acquire by evil means. Be thou good thyself, who doest good with what is evilly acquired: and when with this evil thou beginnest to do any good, do not remain evil thyself. Thy money is being converted to good, and dost thou thyself continue evil?

4. There is indeed another way of understanding it; and I will not withhold it too. The mammon of iniquity is all the riches of this world, from whatever source they come. For howsoever they be heaped together, they are the mammon of iniquity, that is, the riches of iniquity. What is, "they are the riches of iniquity "? It is money which iniquity calls by the name of riches. For if we seek for the true riches, they are different from these. In these Job abounded, naked as he was, when he had a heart full to Godward, and poured out praises like most costly gems to his God, when he had lost all he had.[2] And from what treasure did he this, if he had nothing? These then are the true riches. But the other sort are called riches by iniquity. Thou dost possess these riches. I blame it not: an inheritance has come to thee, thy father was rich, and he left it to thee. Or thou hast honestly acquired them: thou hast a house full of the fruit of just labour; I blame it not. Yet even thus do not call them riches. For if thou dost call them riches, thou wilt love them: and if thou love them, thou wilt perish with them. Lose, that thou be not lost: give, that thou mayest gain: sow, that thou mayest reap. Call not these riches, for "the true" they are not. They are full of poverty, and liable ever to accidents. What sort of riches are those, for whose sake thou art afraid of the robber, for whose sake thou art afraid of thine own servant, lest he should kill thee, and take them away, and fly? If they were true riches, they would give thee security.

5. So then those are the true riches, which when we have them, we cannot lose. And lest haply thou shouldest fear a thief because of them, they will be there where none can take them away. Hear thy Lord, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where no thief approacheth."[3] Then will they be riches, when thou hast removed them hence. As long as they are in the earth, they are not riches. But the world calls them riches, iniquity calls them so. God calls them therefore the mammon of iniquity, because iniquity calls them riches. Hear the Psalm, "O Lord, deliver me out of the hand of strange children, whose mouth hath spoken vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity. Whose sons are as new plants, firmly rooted from their youth. Their daughters decked out, adorned round about after the similitude of a temple. Their storehouses full, flowing out from this into that. Their oxen fat, their sheep fruitful, multiplying in their goings forth. There is no breach of wall, nor going forth, no crying out in their streets."[4] Lo, what sort of happiness the Psalmist has described: but hear what is the case with them whom he has set forth as children of iniquity. "Whose mouth hath spoken vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity." Thus has he set them forth, and said that their happiness is only upon the earth. And what did he add? "They are happy the people that hath these things." But who caller them so? "Strange children," aliens from the race, and belonging not to the seed of Abraham: they "called the people happy that hath these things." Who called them so? "They whose mouth hath spoken vanity." It is a vain thing then to call them happy who have these things. And yet they are called so by them, "whose mouth hath spoken vanity." By them the "mammon of iniquity" of the Gospel is called riches.

6. But what sayest thou? Seeing that these "strange children" that they "whose mouth hath spoken vanity," have "called the people happy that hath these things," what sayest thou? These are false riches, show me the true. Thou findest fault with these, show me what thou praisest. Thou wishest me to despise these, show me what to prefer. Let the Psalmist speak himself. For he who said, "they called the people happy that hath these things," gives us such an answer, as if we had said to him, that is, to the Psalmist[1] himself, "Lo, this thou hast taken away from us, and nothing hast thou given us: lo, these, lo, these we despise; whereby shall we live, whereby shall we be happy? For they who have spoken, they will undertake to answer[2] for themselves. For they have 'called' men 'who have' riches 'happy.' But what sayest thou?" As if he had been thus questioned, he makes answer and says, They call the rich happy: but I say, "Happy are the people whose is the Lord their God." Thus then thou hast heard of the true riches, make friends of the mammon of iniquity, and thou shalt be "a happy people, whose is the Lord their God." At times we go along the way, and see very pleasant and productive estates, and we say, "Whose estate is that?" We are told, "such a man's;" and we say, "Happy man !" We "speak vanity." Happy he whose is that house, happy he whose that estate, happy he whose that flock, happy he whose that servant, happy he whose is that household. Take away vanity if Thou wouldest hear the truth. "Happy he whose is the Lord" his "God." For not he who has that estate is happy: but he whose is that "God." But in order to declare most plainly the happiness of possessions, thou sayest that thy estate has made thee happy. And why? Because thou livest by it. For when, thou dost highly praise thine estate, thou sayest thus," It finds me food, I live by it." Consider whereby thou dost really live. He by whom thou livest, is He to whom thou sayest, "With Thee is the fountain of life."[3] "Happy is the people: whose God is the Lord." O Lord my God, O Lord our God, make us happy by Thee, that we may come unto Thee. We wish not to be happy from gold, or silver, or land, from these earthly, and most vain, and transitory goods of this perishable life. Let not "our mouth speak; vanity." Make us happy by Thee, seeing that we shall never lose Thee. When we shall once have gotten Thee, we shall neither lose Thee, nor be lost ourselves. Make us happy by Thee, because "Happy is the people whose is the Lord their God." Nor will God be angry if we shall say of Him, He is our estate. For we read that "the Lord is the portion of my inheritance."[4] Grand thing, Brethren, we are both His inheritance, and He is ours, seeing that we both cultivate His service? and He cultivateth us.[6] It is no derogation[7] to His honour that He cultivateth us. Because if we cultivate Him as our God, He cultivateth us as His field. And, (that ye may know that He doth cultivate us) hear Him whom He hath sent to us: "I," saith He, "am the vine, ye are the branches, My Father is the Husbandman."[8] Therefore He doth cultivate us. But if we yield fruit, He prepares for us His garner. But if under the attention of so great a hand we will be barren, and for good fruit[9] bring forth thorns, I am loth to say what follows.[10] Let us make an end with a theme of joy. "Let us turn then to the Lord," etc.




Delivered at the Table of St. Cyprian, in the presence of Count Boniface.

1. THE Holy Gospel which we heard just now as it was being read, has admonished touching the remission of sins. And on this subject must ye be admonished now by my discourse. For we are ministers of the word, not our own word, but the word of our God and Lord, whom no one serves without glory, whom no one despises without punishment. He then the Lord our God, who abiding with the Father made us, and having been made for us, re-made us, He the Lord our God Jesus Christ Himself says to us what we have heard just now in the Gospel. "If," He saith, "thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him, and if he shall repent, forgive him; and if he shall sin against time seven times m a day, and shall come and say, I repent, forgive him."[11] He would not have "seven times in a day" otherwise understood than "as often as may be," lest haply he sin eight times, and thou be unwilling to forgive. What then is "seven times "? Always, as often as he shall sin and repent. For this, "Seven times in a day will I praise thee,"[12] is the same as in another Psalm, "His praise shall always be in my mouth."[13] And there is the strongest reason why seven times should be put for that which is always: for the whole course of time revolves in a circle of seven coming and returning days.

2. Whosoever then thou art that hast thy thoughts on Christ, and desirest to receive what He hath promised, be not slow to do that which He hath enjoined. Now what hath He promised? "Eternal life." And what hath He enjoined? That pardon be given to thy brother. As if He had said to thee, "Do thou, O man, give pardon to a man, that I, who am God, may come unto thee." But that I may pass over, or rather pass by for a while, those more exalted divine promises in which our Creator engages to make us equal with His Angels, that we may with Him, and in Him, and by Him, live without end; not to speak of this just now, dost thou not wish to receive of thy God this very thing, which thou art commanded to give thy brother? This very thing, I say, which thou art commanded to give thy brother, dost thou not wish to receive from thy Lord? Tell me if thou wishest it not; and so give it not. What is this, but that thou shouldest forgive him that asks thee, if thou require to be forgiven? But if thou have nothing to he forgiven thee, I dare to say, be unwilling to forgive. Though I ought not even to say this. Though thou have nothing to be forgiven thee, forgive.

3. Thou art just on the point of saying to me, "But I am not God, I am a man, a sinner." God be thanked that thou dost confess thou hast sins. Forgive then, that they may be forgiven thee. Yet the Lord Himself our God exhorteth us to imitate Him. In the first place God Himself, Christ, exhorteth us, of whom the Apostle Peter said, "Christ hath suffered for us, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile, found in His mouth."[1] He then verily had no sin, yet did He die for our sins, and shed His Blood for the remission of sins. He took upon Him for our sakes what was not His due, that He might deliver us from what was due to us. Death was not due to Him, nor life to us. Why? Because we were sinners. Death was not due to Him, nor life to us; He received what was not due to Him, He gave what was not due to us. But since we are speaking of the remission of sins, lest ye should think it too high a thing to imitate Christ, hear the Apostle saying, "Forgiving one another, even as God in Christ hath forgiven you.'[2] Be ye therefore imitators of God." They are the Apostle's words, not mine. Is it indeed a proud thing to imitate God? Hear the Apostle, "Be ye imitators of God as dearly beloved children."[3] Thou art called a child: if thou refuse to imitate Him, why seekest thou His inheritance ?

4. This would I say even if thou hadst no sin which thou mightest desire to be forgiven thee. But as it is, whosoever thou art, thou art a man; though thou be righteous, thou art a man; be thou layman, or monk, or clerk, or Bishop, or Apostle, thou art a man. Hear the Apostle's voice, "If we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves."[4] He, that famous John and an Evangelist, he whom the Lord Christ loved beyond all the rest, who lay on His breast, he says, "If we shall say." He did not say, "If ye shall say that ye have no sin," but "if we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." He joined himself in the guilt, that he might be joined in the pardon also. "If we shall say." Consider who it is that says, "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 iniquity."[5] How does He cleanse? By forgiving, not as though He found nothing to punish, but as finding something to forgive. So then, Brethren, if we have sins, let us forgive them that ask us. Let us not retain enmities in our heart against another. For the retaining of enmities more than anything corrupts this heart of ours.

5. I would then that thou shouldest forgive, seeing that I find thee asking forgiveness. Thou art asked, forgive: thou art asked, and thou wilt ask thyself; thou art asked, forgive; thou wilt ask to be forgiven; for, lo, the time of prayer will come: I have thee fist in the words thou wilt have to speak. Thou wilt say, "Our Father, which art in heaven." For thou wilt not be in the number of children, if thou shalt not say, "Our Father." So then thou wilt say, "Our Father, which art in heaven." Follow on; "Hallowed be Thy Name." Say on, "Thy kingdom come." Follow still on, "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." See what thou addest next, "Give us this day our daily bread."[6] Where are thy riches? So thou art a beggar. Nevertheless in the mean while (it is the point I am speaking of), say what is next after, "Give us this day our daily bread." Say what follows this: "Forgive us our debts." Now thou hast come to my words, "Forgive us our debts." By what right? by what covenant? on what condition? on what express stipulation? "As we also forgive our debtors." It is but a small thing that thou dost not forgive; yea thou dost more, thou liest unto God. The condition is laid down, the law fixed. "Forgive as I forgive." Therefore He does not forgive, unless thou forgivest. "Forgive as I forgive." Thou wishest to be forgiven when thou askest, forgive him that asks of thee. He that is skilled in heaven's laws[7] has dictated these prayers: He does not deceive thee; ask according to the tenor of His heavenly voice: say, "Forgive us, as we also forgive," and do what thou sayest. He that lies in his prayers, loses the benefit he seeks: he that lies in his prayers, both loses his cause, and finds his punishment. And if any one lies to the emperor, he is convicted of his lie at his coming: but when thou liest in prayer, thou by thy very prayer art convicted. For God does not seek for witness as regards thee to convict thee. He who dictated the prayers to thee, is thine Advocate: if thou liest, He is a witness against thee: if thou dost not amend thyself, He will be thy Judge. So then both say it, and do. For if thou say it not, thou wilt not obtain making thy requests contrary to the law; but if thou say it and do it not, thou wilt be further guilty of lying. There is no means of evading that verse, save by fulfilling what we say. Can we blot this verse out of our prayer? Would ye that clause, "Forgive us our debts," should be there, and that we should blot out what follows, "As we also forgive our debtors "? Thou shalt not blot it out, lest thou be first blotted out thyself. So then in this prayer thou sayest, "Give," and thou sayest, "Forgive:" that thou mayest receive what thou hast not, and may be forgiven what thou hast done amiss. So then thou wishest to receive, give; thou wishest to be forgiven, forgive. It is a brief summary. Hear Christ Himself in another place, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." What will ye forgive? What others have sinned against you. What shall ye be forgiven? What ye have sinned yourselves. "Forgive." "Give, and there shall be given you what ye desire,"[1] eternal life. Support the temporal life of the poor man, sustain the poor man's present life, and for this so small and earthly seed ye shall receive for harvest life eternal. Amen.




1. THE lesson of the Holy Gospel builds us up unto the duty of praying and believing, and of not putting our trust in ourselves, but in the Lord. What greater encouragement to prayer than the parable which is proposed to us of the unjust judge? For an unjust judge, who feared not God, nor regarded man, yet gave ear to a widow who besought him, overcome by her importunity, not inclined thereto by kindness.[2] If he then heard her prayer, who hated to be asked, how must He hear who exhorts us to ask? When therefore by this comparison from a contrary case the Lord had taught that" men ought always to pray and not to faint,"[3] He added and said, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth?"[4] If faith fail, prayer perishes. For who prays for that which he does not believe? Whence also the blessed Apostle, when he exhorted to prayer, said, "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved."[5] And in order to show that faith is the fountain of prayer, he went on and said, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?"[6] So then that we may pray, let us believe; and that this same faith whereby we pray fail not, let us pray. Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith. Faith, I say, pours out prayer, the pouring out of prayer obtains strengthening even for faith itself. For that faith might not fail in temptations, therefore did the Lord say," Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."[7] "Watch," He saith, "and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." What is to "enter into temptation," but to depart from faith? For so far temptation advances as faith gives way: and so far temptation gives way, as faith advances. For that you may know, Beloved, more plainly, that the Lord said, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation," as touching faith lest it should fail and perish; He said in the same place of the Gospel " This night hath Satan desired to sift s you as wheat, and I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not."[9] He that defendeth prayeth, and shall not he pray who is in peril? For in the words of the Lord, "when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth ?" He spoke of that faith, which is perfect. For it is scarce found on the earth. Lo !this Church of God is full: and who would come hither, if there were no faith? But who would not remove mountains, if there were full faith? Look at the very Apostles: they would not have left all they had, have trodden under foot this world's hope, and followed the Lord, if they had not had great faith; and yet if they had full faith, they would not have said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."[10] See again, that man confessing both of himself (behold faith, yet not full faith), who when he had presented to the Lord his son to be cured of an evil spirit, and was asked whether he believed, answered and said, "Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief.[11] "Lord," says he, "I believe," I believe; therefore there was faith. But "help Thou mine unbelief," therefore there was not frill faith.

2. But inasmuch as faith belongs not to the proud, but to the humble, "He spake this parable unto certain who seemed to themselves to be righteous, and despised others. Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee said, God, I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of men."[1] He might at least have said, "as many men." What does, "as the rest of men," mean, but all except himself? "I," he says, "am just, the rest are sinners." "I am not as the rest of men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers." And, lo, from thy neighbour, the publican, thou takest occasion of greater pride. "As," he says, "this publican." "I," he says, "am alone, he is of the rest." "I am not," says he, "such as he is, through my righteous deeds, whereby I have no unrighteousness." "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."[2] In all his words seek out for any one thing that he asked of God, and thou wilt find nothing. He went up to pray: he had no mind to pray to God, but to laud himself. Nay, it is but a small part of it, that he prayed not to God, but lauded himself. More than this he even mocked him that did pray. "But the Publican stood afar off;"[3] and yet he was in deed near to God. The consciousness of his heart kept him off, piety brought him close. "But the Publican stood afar off:" yet the Lord regarded him near. "For the Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly."[4] But "those that are high" as was this Pharisee, "He knoweth afar off. "The high" indeed "God knoweth afar off," but He doth not pardon them. Hear still more the humility of the Publican. It is but a small matter that he stood afar off; "he did not even lift up his eyes unto heaven." He looked not, that he might be looked upon. He did not dare to look upwards, his conscience pressed him down: but hope lifted him up. Hear again, "he smote his breast." He punished himself: wherefore the Lord spared him for his confession. "He smote his breast, saying, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." See who he is that prays. Why dost thou marvel that God should pardon, when he acknowledges his own sin? Thus thou hast heard the cases of the Pharisee and Publican; now hear the sentence; thou hast heard the proud accuser, thou hast heard the humble criminal; hear now the Judge. "Verily I say unto you." The Truth saith, God saith, the Judge saith it. "Verily I say unto you, That Publican went down from the temple justified rather than that Pharisee."[6] Tell us, Lord, the cause. Lo! I see that the publican goes down from the temple justified rather than the Pharisee. I ask why? Dost thou ask why? Hear why. "Because every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."[6] Thou hast heard the sentence, beware of its evil cause. In other words, thou hast heard the sentence, beware of pride.

3. Let now those ungodly babblers, whosoever they be, who presume on their own strength, let them hear and see these things: let them hear who say, God made me a man, I make myself just. O thou who art worse and more detestable than the Pharisee! The Pharisee in the Gospel did indeed call himself just, but yet he gave thanks to God for it. He called himself just, but yet he gave God thanks. "I thank Thee, O God, that I am not as the rest of men." "I thank Thee, O God. He gives God thanks, that he is not as the rest of men: and yet he is blamed as being proud and puffed up; not in that he gave God thanks, but in that he desired as it were no more to be added unto him. "I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men, unjust." So then thou art just; so then thou askest for nothing; so then thou art full already; so then the life of man is not a trial upon earth;[7] so then thou art full already; so then thou aboundest already, so then thou hast no ground for saying, "Forgive us our debts !" What must his case be then who impiously impugns grace, if he is blamed who give thanks proudly?

4. And, lo, after the case had been stated, and the sentence pronounced, little children also came forth, yea, rather, are carried and presented to be touched. To be touched by whom, but the Physician? Surely, it will be said, they must be whole. To whom are the infants presented to be touched? To whom? To the Saviour. If to the Saviour, they are brought to be saved. To whom, but to Him "who came to seek and to save what was lost."[8] How were they lost? As far as concerns them personally, I see that they are without fault, I am seeking for their guiltiness. Whence is it? I listen to the Apostle, "By one man sin entered into the world. By one man," he says, "sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men by him in whom all sinned."[9] Let then the little children come, let them come: let the Lord be heard. "Suffer little children to come unto Me."[10] Let the little ones come, let the sick come to the Physician, the lost to their Redeemer: let them come, let no man hinder them. In the branch they have not yet committed any evil, but they are ruined in their root. "Let the Lord bless the small with the great."[11] Let the Physician touch both small and great. the cause of the little ones we commend to their eiders. Speak ye for them who are mute, pray for them who weep. If ye are not their elders to no purpose, be ye their guardians: defend them who are not able yet to manage their own cause. Common is the loss, let the finding be common we were lost all together, together be we found in Christ. Uneven is the desert, but common is the grace. They have no evil but what they have drawn from the source: they have no evil but what they have derived from the first original. Let not them keep them off from salvation. who to what they have so derived have added much more evil. The eider in age is the eider in iniquity too. But the grace of God effaces what thou hast derived, effaces too what thou hast added. For, "where sin abounded, grace hath superabounded."[1]




1. THE Lord appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, as ye have heard, and saluted them, saying, "Peace be unto you."[2] This is peace indeed, and the salutation of salvation: for the very word salutation has received its name from salvation.[3] And what can be better than that Salvation Itself should salute man? For Christ is our Salvation. He is our Salvation, who was wounded for us, and fixed by nails to the tree, and being taken down from the tree, was laid in the sepulchre. And from the sepulchre He arose, with His wounds healed, His scars kept. For this He judged expedient for His disciples, that His scars should be kept, whereby the wounds of their hearts might be healed. What wounds? The wounds of unbelief. For He appeared to their eyes, exhibiting real flesh, and they thought they saw a spirit. It is no light wound, this wound of the heart. Yea, they have made a malignant heresy who have abided in this wound. But do we suppose that the disciples had not been wounded, because they were so quickly healed? Only, Beloved, suppose, if they had continued in this wound, to think that the Body which had been buried, could not rise again, but that a spirit in the image of a body, deceived the eyes of men: if they had continued in this belief, yea, rather in this unbelief, not their wounds, but their death would have had to be bewailed.

2. But what said the Lord Jesus? "Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into your hearts?"[4] If thoughts ascend into your heart, the thoughts come from the earth. But it is s good for a man, not that a thought should ascend. into his heart, but that his heart should itself ascend upwards, where the Apostle would have believers place their hearts, to whom he said, "If ye be risen with Christ, mind those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Seek those things which are above, not the things which are upon the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."[5] In what glory? The glory of the resurrection. In what glory? Hear the Apostle saying of this body, "It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory."[6] This glory the Apostles were unwilling to assign to their Master, their Christ, their Lord: they did not believe that His Body could rise from the sepulchre: they thought Him to be a Spirit, though they saw His flesh, and they believed not their very eyes. Yet we believe them who preach but do not show Him. Lo, they believed not Christ who showed Himself to them. Malignant wound !Let the remedies for these scars come forth. "Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into your hearts? See My hands and My feet," where I was fixed with the nails. "Handle and see." But ye see, and yet do not see. "Handle and see." What? "That a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. When He had thus spoken," so it is written, "He showed them His hands and His feet."[7]

3. "And while they were yet in hesitation, and wondered for joy."[8] Now there was joy already, and yet hesitation continued. For a thing incredible had taken place, yet taken place it had. Is it at this day a thing incredible, that the Body of the Lord rose again from the sepulchre? The whole cleansed world[9] has believed it; whoso has not believed it, has remained in his uncleanness. Yet at that thee it was incredible: and persuasion was addressed not to the eyes only, but to the hands also, that by the bodily senses faith might descend into their heart, and that faith so descending into their heart might be preached throughout the world to them who neither saw nor touched, and yet without doubting believed. "Have ye," saith He, "anything to eat ?" How much doeth the good Builder still to build up the edifice of faith? He did not hunger, yet He asked to eat. And He ate by an act of His power, not through necessity. So then let the disciples acknowledge the verity of His body, which the world has acknowledged at their preaching.

4. If haply there be any heretics who still in their hearts maintain that Christ exhibited Himself to sight, but that Christ's was not very flesh; let them now lay aside that error, and let the Gospel persuade them. We do but blame them for entertaining this conceit: He will damn them if they shall persevere in it. Who art thou who dost not believe that a body laid in the sepulchre could rise again? If thou art a Manichee, who dost not believe that He was crucified either, because thou dost not believe that He was even born, thou declarest that all that He showed was false. He showed what was false, and dost thou speak the truth? Thou dost not lie with thy mouth, and did He lie in His body? Lo thou dost suppose that He appeared unto the eyes of men what He really was not, that He was a spirit, not flesh. Hear Him: He loves thee, let Him not condemn thee. Hear Him speaking: lo, He speaks to thee, thou unhappy one, He speaks to thee, "Why art thou troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into thine heart ?" "See," saith He, "My hands and My feet. Handle and see, because a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have." This spake the Truth, and did He deceive? It was a body then, it was flesh; that which had been buried, appeared. Let doubting perish, and meet praise ensue.

5. He showed himself then to the disciples. What is" Himself"? The Head of His Church. The Church was foreseen by Him as in thee to be throughout the world, by the disciples it was not yet seen. He showed the Head, He promised the Body. For what did He add next? "These are the words which I spake to you, while I was yet with you"[1] What is this," While I was yet with you"? Was He not with them then when He was speaking to them? What is, "when I was yet with you "? was with you as mortal, which now I am not. I was with you when I had yet to die. What is, "with you"? With you who were to die, Myself to die. Now I am no more with you: for I am with those who are to die, Myself to die no more for ever. This then is what I said to you. What? "That all things must be fulfilled which are written in the Law, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me."[1] I told you that all things must be fulfilled. "Then opened He their understanding."[2] Come then, O Lord, employ Thy keys, open, that we may understand. Lo, Thou dost tell all things, and yet are not believed. Thou art thought to be a spirit, art touched, art rudely handled,[3] and yet they who touch Thee hesitate. Thou dost admonish them out of the Scriptures, and yet they understand Thee not. Their hearts are closed, open, and enter in. He did so. "Then opened He their understanding." Open, O Lord, yea, open the heart of him who is in doubt concerning Christ. Open "his" understanding who believes that Christ was a phantom. "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures."

6. And "He said unto them." What? "That thus it behoved. That thus it is written, and thus it behoved." What? "That Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead the third day."[4] And this they saw, they saw Him suffering, they saw Him hanging, they saw Him with them alive after His resurrection. What then did they not see? The Body, that is, the Church. Him they saw, her they saw not. They saw the Bridegroom, the Bride yet lay hid. Let him promise her too. "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." This is the Bridegroom, what of the Bride? "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."[5] This the disciples did not yet see: they did not yet see the Church throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. They saw the Head, and they believed the Head touching the Body. By, this which they saw, they believed that which they saw not. We too are like to them: we see something which they saw not, and something we do not see which they did see. What do we see, which they saw not? The Church throughout all nations. What do we not see, which they saw? Christ present in the flesh. As they saw Him, and believed concerning the Body, so do we see the Body; let us believe concerning the Head. Let what we have respectively seen help us. The sight of Christ helped them to believe the future Church: the sight of the Church helps us to believe that Christ has risen. Their faith was made complete, and ours is made complete also. Their faith was made complete from the sight of the Head, ours is made complete by the sight of the Body. Christ was made known to them "wholly," and to us is He so made known: but He was not seen "wholly" by them, nor by us has He been "wholly" seen. By them the Head was seen, the Body believed. By us the Body has been seen, the Head believed. Yet to none is Christ lacking: in all He is complete, though to this day His Body remains imperfect. The Apostles believed; through them many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem believed; Judaea believed. Samaria believed. Let the members be added on, the building added on to the foundation. "For no other foundation can any man lay," says the Apostle, "than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus."[6] Let the Jews rage madly, and be filled with jealousy: Stephen be stoned, Saul keep the raiment of them who stone him, Saul, one day to be the Apostle Paul.[7] Let Stephen be killed, the Church of Jerusalem dispersed in confusion: out of it go forth burning brands, and spread themselves and spread their flame. For in the Church of Jerusalem, as it were burning brands were set on fire by the Holy Spirit, when they had all one soul, and one heart to God- ward.[1] When Stephen was stoned, that pile suffered persecution: the brands were dispersed, and the world was set on fire.

7. And then intent on his furious schemes, that Saul received letters from the chief of the priests, and began his journey in his cruel rage, breathing out slaughter, thirsting for blood, to drag bound and to hurry off to punishment whomsoever he could, and from every quarter that he could, and to satiate himself with the shedding of their blood. But where was God, where was Christ, where He that had crowned Stephen? Where, but in heaven? Let Him now look on Saul, and mock him in his fury, and call froth heaven, "'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me ?'[2] I am in heaven, and thou in earth, and yet thou persecutest Me. Thou dost not touch the body, but my members thou art treading down. Yet what art thou doing? What art thou gaining? 'It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.' Kick as thou wilt, thou only distressest thyself. Lay aside thy fury then, recover soundness. Lay aside evil counsel, seek after good succour." By that voice he was struck to the earth. Who was struck to the earth? The persecutor. Lo, by that one word was he overcome. After what wast thou going, after what was thy fury carrying thee? Those whom thou wast seeking out, now thou followest; whom thou wast persecuting, now for them thou sufferest persecution. He rises up the preacher, who was struck to the earth, the persecutor. He heard the Lord's voice. He was blinded, but in the body only, that he might be enlightened in heart. He was brought to Ananias, catechised on sundry points, baptized, and so came forth an Apostle. Speak then, preach, preach Christ, spread His doctrine, O thou goodly leader of the flock,[3] but lately a wolf. See him, mark him, who once was raging. "But for me, God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world."[4] Spread the Gospel: scatter with thy mouth what thou hast conceived in thine heart. Let the nations hear, let the nations believe; let the 'nations multiply, let the Lord's empurpled spouse spring forth from the blood of Martyrs. And from her how man), have come already, how many members have cleaved to the Head, and cleave to Him still and believe! They were baptized, and others shall be baptized, and after them shall others come. Then I say, at the end of the world shall the stones be joined to the, foundation, living stones, holy stones, that at the end the whole edifice may be built by that Church, yea by this very Church which now sings the new song, while the house is in building. For so the Psalm itself says," When the house was in building after the captivity;" and what says it, "Sing unto the Lord a new song, sing unto the Lord all the earth."[5] How great a house is this! But when does it sing the new song? When it is in building. When is it dedicated? At the end of the world. Its foundation has been already dedicated, because He hath ascended into heaven, and dieth no more. When we too shall have risen to die no more, then shall we be dedicated.




I. The section of the Gospel which has been read, most dearly beloved brethren, looketh for the pure eye of the heart. For from John's Gospel we have understood our Lord Jesus Christ according to His Divinity for the creating of the whole creation, and according to His Humanity for the recovery of the creature fallen. Now in this same Gospel we find what sort and how great a man was John, that from the dignity of the dispenser it may be understood of how great a price is the Word which could be announced by such a man; yea, rather how without price is That which surpasseth all things. For any purchasable thing is either equal to the price, or it is below it, or it exceeds it. When any one procures a thing for as much as it is worth, the price is equal to the thing which is procured; when for less, it is below it; when for more, it exceeds it. But to the Word of God nothing can either be equalled, or to exchange can anything be below It, or above It. For all things can be below the Word of God, for that "all things were made by Him;"[6] yet are they not in such wise below, as if they were the price of the Word, that any one should give something to receive That. Yet if we may say so, and if any principle or custom of speaking admit this expression, the price for procuring the Word, is the procurer himself, who will have given himself for himself to This Word. Accordingly when we bay anything we look out for something to give, that for the price we give we may have the thing we wish to buy. And that which we give is without us; and if it was with us before, what we give becomes without us, that that which we procure may be with us. Whatever price the purchaser may find it, it must needs be such as that he gives what he has, and receives what he has not; yet so that he from whom the price goes himself remains, and that for which he gives the price is added to him. But whoso would procure this Word, whoso would have it, let him not seek for anything without himself to give, let him give himself. And when he shall have done this, he doth not lose himself, as he loseth the price when he buys anything.

2. The Word of God then is set forth before all men; let them who can, procure It, and they can who have a godly will. For in That Word is peace; and "peace on earth is to men of good will."[1] So then whoso will procure it, let him give himself. This is as it were the price of the Word, if so it may in any way be said, when he that giveth doth not lose himself, and gaineth the Word for which he giveth himself, and gaineth himself too in the Word to whom he giveth himself. And what giveth he to the Word? Not ought that is any other's than His, for whom he giveth himself; but what by the Same Word was made, that is given back to Him to be remade; "All things were made by Him." If all things, then of course man too. If the heaven, and earth, and sea, and all things that are therein, if the whole creation; of course more manifestly he, who being made after the image of God by the Word was made man.

3. I am not now, brethren, discussing how the words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,"[2] can be understood. After an ineffable sort it may be understood; it cannot by the words of man he made to be understood. I am treating of the Word of God, and telling you why It is not understood. I am not now speaking to make It understood, but I tell you what hinders It from being understood. For He is a certain Form, a Form not formed, but the Form of all things formed; a Form unchangeable, without failure, without decay, without thee, without place, surpassing all things, being in all things, as at once a kind of foundation in which they are, and a Head-stone under which they are. If you say that all things are in Him, you lie not. For This Word is called the Wisdom of God; and we have it written, "In Wisdom hast Thou made all things."[3] Lo, then in Him are all things: and yet in that He is God, under Him are all things. I am showing how incomprehensible is what has been read; yet it has been read, not that it should be comprehended by man, but that man should sorrow that he comprehends it not, and find out whereby he is hindered from comprehending, and remove those hindrances, and, himself changed from worse to better, aspire after the perception of the unchangeable Word. For the Word doth not advance or increase by the addition of those who know It; but is Entire, if thou abide; Entire, if thou depart; Entire, when thou dost return; abiding in Itself, and renewing all things. It is then the Form of all things, the Form unfashioned, without thee, as I have said, and without space. For whatsoever is contained in space, is circumscribed. Every form is circumscribed by bounds; it hath limits where-from and whereunto it reaches. Again, what is contained in place, and has extension in a sort of bulk and space, is less in its parts than in the whole. God grant that ye may understand.

4. Now from the bodies which are day by day before our eyes, which we see, which we touch, among which we live, we are able to judge how that every body hath a form in space. Now everything which occupies a certain space, is less in its parts than in its whole. The arm, for instance, is a part of the human body; of course the arm is less than the whole body. And if the arm be less, it occupies a smaller space. So again the head, in that it is a part of the body, is contained in less space, and is less than the whole body of which it is the head. So all things which are in space, are less in their several parts than in the whole. Let us entertain no such idea, no such thought concerning That Word. Let us not form our conceptions of spiritual things from the suggestion of the flesh. That Word, That God, is not less in part than in the whole.

5. But thou art not able to conceive of any such thing. Such ignorance is more pious than presumptuous knowledge. For we are speaking of God. It is said, "And the Word was God."[2] We are speaking of God; what marvel, if thou do not comprehend? For if thou comprehend, He is not God. Be there a pious confession of ignorance, rather than a rash profession of knowledge. To reach to God in any measure by the mind, is a great blessedness; but to comprehend Him. is altogether impossible. God is an object for the mind, He is to be understood; a body is for the eyes, it is to be seen. But thinkest thou that thou comprehendest a body by the eye? Thou canst not at all. For whatever thou lookest at, thou dost not see the whole. If thou seest a man's face, thou dost not see his back at the thee thou seest the face; and when thou seest the back, thou dost not at that thee see the face. Thou dost not then so see, as to comprehend; but when thou seest another part which thou hadst not seen before, unless memory aid thee to remember that thou hast seen that from which thou dost withdraw, thou couldest never say that thou hadst comprehended anything even on the surface. Thou handiest what thou seest, turnest it about on this side and that, or thyself dost go round it to see the whole. In one view then thou canst not see the whole. And as long as thou turnest it about to see it, thou art but seeing the parts; and by putting together that thou hast seen the other parts, thou dost fancy that thou seest the whole. But this must not be understood as the sight of the eyes, but the activity of the memory. What then can be said, Brethren, of that Word? Lo, of the bodies which are before our eyes we say they cannot comprehend them by a glance; what eye of the heart then comprehendeth God? Enough that it reach to Him if the eye be pure. But if it reach, it reacheth by a sort of incorporeal and spiritual touch, yet it doth not comprehend; and that, only if it be pure. And a man is made blessed by touching with the heart That which ever abideth Blessed; and that is this Very Everlasting Blessedness, and that Everlasting Life, whereby man is made to live; that Perfect Wisdom, whereby man is made wise; that Everlasting Light, whereby man becomes enlightened. And see how by this touch thou art made what thou wast not, thou dost not make that thou touchest be what it was not before. I repeat it, there grows no increase to God from them that know Him, but to them that know Him, from the knowledge of God. Let us not suppose, dearly beloved Brethren, that we confer any benefit on God, because I have said that we give Him in a manner a price. For we do not give Him aught whereby He can be increased, Who when thou fallest away, is Entire, and when thou returnest, abideth Entire, ready to make Himself seen that He may bless those who turn to Him, and punish those with blindness who turn away. For by this blindness, as the beginning of punishment, doth He first execute vengeance on the soul that turns away from Him. For whoso turns away from the True Light, that is from God, is at once made blind. He is not yet sensible of his punishment, but he hath it already.

6. Accordingly, dearly beloved brethren, let us understand that the Word of God is incorporeally, inviolably, unchangeably, without temporal nativity, yet born of God. Do we think that we can any how persuade certain unbelievers that that is not it, consistent with the truth, which is said by us according to the Catholic faith, which is contrary to the Arians, by whom the Church of God hath been often tried, forasmuch as carnal men receive with greater ease what they have been accustomed to see? For some have dared to say, "The Father is greater than the Son, and precedes Him in thee;" that is, the Father is greater than the Son, and the Son is less than the Father, and is preceded by the Father in thee. And they argue thus; "If He was born, of course the Father was before His Son was born to Him." Attend; may He be with me, whilst your prayers assist me, and with godly heed desire to receive what He may give, what He may suggest to me; may He be with me, that I may be able in some sort to explain what I have begun. Yet, brethren, I tell you before I begin, if I shall not be able to explain it, do not suppose that it is the failure of the proof, but of the man. Accordingly I exhort and entreat you to pray; that the mercy of God may be with me, and make the matter be so explained by me, as is meet for you to hear, and for me to speak. They then say thus; "If He be the Son of God, He was born." This we confess. For He would not be a Son, if He were not born. It is plain, the faith admits it, the Catholic Church approves it, it is truth. They then go on; "If the Son was born to the Father, the Father was before the Son was born to Him." This the faith rejects, Catholic ears reject it, it is anathematized, whoso entertains this conceit is without, he belongs not to the fellowship and society of the saints. Then says he, "Give me an explanation, how the Son could be born to the Father, and yet be coeval with Him of whom He was born ?"

7. And what can we do, brethren, when we are conveying lessons of spiritual things to carnal men; even if so be we ourselves too are not carnal, when we intimate these spiritual truths to carnal then, to men accustomed to the idea of earthly nativities, and seeing the order of these creatures, where succession and departure separates off in age them that beget and them that are begotten? For after the father the son is born, to succeed the father, who in thee of course must die. This do we find in men, this in other animals, that the parents are first, the children after them in thee. Through this custom of observation they desire to transfer carnal things to spiritual, and by their intentness on carnal things are more easily led into error. For it is not the reason of the hearers which follows those who preach such things, but custom which even entangles themselves, that they do preach such things. Anti what shall we do? Shall we keep silence? Would that we might !For perchance by silence something might be thought of worthy of the unspeakable subject. For whatsoever cannot be spoken, is unspeakable. Now God is unspeakable. For if the Apostle Paul saith, that he "was caught up even unto the third heaven, and that he heard unspeakable words ;"[1] how much more unspeakable is He, who showed such things, which could not be spoken by him to whom they were shown? So then, brethren, if could keep silence, and say, "This is the faith contains; so we believe; thou art not able to receive it, thou art but a babe; thou must patiently endure till thy wings be grown, lest when thou wouldest fly without wings, it should not be the free[1] course of liberty, but the fill of temerity." What do they say against this? "O if he had anything to say, he would say it to me. This is the mere excuse of one who is at fault. He is overcome by the truth, who does not choose to answer." He to whom this is said, if he make no answer, though he be not conquered in himself is yet conquered in the wavering brethren. For the weak brethren hear it, and they think that there is really nothing to be said; and perhaps they think right that there is nothing to be said, yet not that there is nothing to be felt. For a man can express nothing which he cannot also feel; but he may feel something which he cannot express.

8. Nevertheless, saving the unspeakableness of that Sovereign Majesty, test when we shall have produced certain similitudes against them, any one should think that we have by them arrived at that which cannot be expressed or conceived by babes (and if it can be at all even by the more advanced, it can only be in part, only in a riddle, only "through a glass;" but not as yet, "rice to rice"[2]), let us too produce certain similitudes against them, whereby they may be refuted, not "it" comprehended. For when we say that it may very possibly happen, that it may be understood, that He may both be born, and yet Coeternal with Him of whom He was born, in order to refute this, and prove it as it were to be false, they bring forth similitudes against us. I From whence? From the creatures, and they say to us, "Every man of course was before he begat a son, he is greater in age than his son; and so a horse was before he begat his foal, and a sheep, and the other animals." Thus do they bring similitudes from the creatures.

9. What! must we labour too, that we may find resemblances of those things which we are establishing? And what if I should not find any, might I not rightly say, "The Nativity of the Creator hath, it may be, no resemblance of itself among the creatures? For as far as He surpasseth the things which are here, in that He is there, so far doth He surpass the things which are born here, in that He was born there. All things here have their being from God; and yet what is to he compared with God? So all things which are born here, are born by His agency. And so perhaps there is no resemblance of His Nativity found, as there is none found whether of His Substance, Unchangeableness, Divinity, Majesty. For what can be found here like these? If then it chance that no resemblance of His Nativity either be found, am I therefore overwhelmed, because I have not found resemblances to the Creator of all things, when desiring to find in the creature what is like the Creator ?"

10. And in very truth, Brethren, I am not likely to discover any temporal resemblances which I can compare to eternity. But as to those which thou hast discovered, what are they? What hast thou discovered? That a father is greater in time than his son; and therefore thou wouldest have the Son of God to be less in time than the Eternal Father, because thou hast found that a son is less than a father born in time. Find me an eternal father here, and thou hast found a resemblance. Thou findest a son less than a father in time, a temporal son less than a temporal father. Hast thou found me a temporal son younger than eternal father? Seeing then that in Eternity is stability, but in time variety; in Eternity all things stand still, in time one thing comes, another succeeds; thou canst find a son of lesser age succeeding his father in the variety of time, for that he himself succeeded to his father also, not a son born in time to a father eternal. How then, Brethren, can we find in the creature aught coeternal, when in the creature we find nothing eternal? Do thou find an eternal father in the creature, and I will find a coeternal son. But if thou find not an eternal father, and the one surpasses the other in thee; it is sufficient, that for a resemblance I find something coeval. For what is coeternal is one thing what is coeval another. Every day we call them coeval who have the same measure of times; the one is not preceded by the other in thee, yet they both whom we call coeval once began to "be." Now if I shall be able to discover something which is born coeval with that of which it is born; if two coeval things can be discovered, that which begets, and that which is begotten; we discover in this case things coeval, let us understand in the other things coeternal. If here I shall find that a thing begotten hath begun to be ever since that which besets began to be, we may understand at least that the Son of God did not begin to be, ever since He that begat Him did not begin to be. Lo, brethren, perhaps we may discover something in the creature, which is born of something else, and which yet began to be at the same thee as that of which it is born began to be. In the latter case, the one began to be when the other began to be; in the former the one did not begin to be, ever since the other began not to be. the first then is coeval, the second coeternal.

11. I suppose that your holiness has understood already what I am saying, that temporal things cannot be compared to eternal; but that by some slight and small resemblance, things coeval may be with things coeternal. Let us find accordingly two coeval things; and let us get our hints as to these resemblances from the Scriptures. We read in the Scriptures of Wisdom, "For she is the Brightness of the Everlasting Light." Again we read, "The unspotted Mirror of the Majesty of God."[1] Wisdom Herself is called, "The Brightness of the Everlasting Light," is called, "The Image of the Father;" from hence let us take a resemblance, that we may find two coeval things, from which we may understand things coeternal. O thou Arian, if I shall find that something that begets does not precede in time that which it begat, that a thing begotten is not less in time than that of which it is begotten; it is but just that thou concede to me, that these coeternals may be found in the Creator, when coevals can be found in the creature. I think that this indeed occurs already to some brethren. For some anticipated me as soon as I said, "For She is the Brightness of the Everlasting Light." For the fire throws out light, light is thrown out from the fire. If we ask which comes from which, every day when we light a candle are we reminded of some invisible and indescribable thing, that the candle as it were of our understanding may be lighted in this night of the world. Observe him who lights a candle. While the candle is not lighted, there is as yet no fire, nor any brightness which proceedeth from the fire. But I ask, saying, "Does the brightness come from the fire, or the fire from the brightness?" Every soul answers me (for it has pleased God to sow the beginnings of understanding and wisdom in every soul); every soul answers me, and no one doubts, that that brightness comes from the fire, not the fire from the brightness. Let us then look at the fire as the father of that brightness; for I have said before that we are looking for things coeval, not coeternal. If I desire to light a candle, there is as yet no fire there, nor yet that brightness; but immediately that I have lighted it, together with the fire comes forth the brightness also. Give me then here a fire without brightness, and I believe you that the Father ever was without the Son.

12. Attend; The matter has been explained by me as so great a matter could be, by the Lord helping the earnestness of your prayers, and the preparation of your heart, ye have taken ill as much as ye were able to receive. Yet these things are ineffable. Do not suppose that anything worthy of the subject has been spoken, if it only be for that things carnal are compared with coeternal, things temporal with things abiding ever, things subject to extinction to things immortal. But inasmuch as the Son is said also to be the Image of the Father, let us take from this too a sort of resemblance, though in things very different, as I have said before. The image of a man looking into a glass is thrown out from the glass. But this cannot assist us for the clearing of that which we are endeavouring in some sort to explain. For it is said to me, "A man who looks into a glass of course, 'was' already, and was born before that. The image came out only as soon as he looked at himself. For a man who looks in a glass, 'was' before he came to the glass." What then shall we find, from which we may be able to draw out such a resemblance, as we did from the fire and the brightness? Let us find one from a very little thing. You know without any difficulty how water often throws out the images of bodies. I mean, when any one is passing, or standing still along the water, he sees his own image there. let us suppose then something born on the water's side, as a shrub, or an herb, is it not born together with its image? As soon as ever it begins to be, its image begins to be with it, it does not precede in its birth its own image; it cannot be showed to me that anything is born upon the water's side, and that its image has appeared afterwards, whereas it first appeared without its image; but it is born together with its image; and yet the image comes from it, not it from the image. It is born then together with its image, and the shrub and its image begin to be together. Dost thou not confess that the image is begotten of that shrub, not the shrub of the image? So then thou dost confess that the image is from that shrub. Accordingly that which begets and that which is begotten began to "be" together. Therefore they are coeval. If the shrub had been always, the image from the shrub would have been always too. Now that which has its being from something else, is of course born of it. It is possible then that one that begets might always be, and always be together with that which was born of him. For here it was that we were in perplexity and trouble, how the Eternal Nativity might he understood. So then the Son of God is so called on this principle, that there is the Father also, that He hath One from whom He derives His Being; not on this, that the Father is first in thee, and the Son after. The Father always was, the Son always from the Father. And because whatever "is" from another thing, is born, therefore the Son was always born. The Father always was, the image from Him always was; as that image of the shrub was born of the shrub, and if the shrub had always been, the image would also have always been born from the shrub. Thou couldest not find things begotten coeternal with the eternal begetters, but thou hast found things born coeval with those that begat them in thee. I understand the Son coeternal with the Eternal who begat Him. For what with regard to things of thee is coeval, with regard to things eternal is coeternal.

13. Here there is somewhat for you to consider, Brethren,[1] as a protection against blasphemies. For it is constantly said, "See thou hast produced certain resemblances; but the brightness which is thrown out from the fire, shines less brilliantly than the fire itself, and the image of the shrub has less proper[2] subsistence, than that shrub of which it is the image. These instances have a resemblance, but they have not a thorough equality: wherefore they do not seem to be of the same substance." What then shall we say, if any one say, "The Father then is to the Son, such as the brightness is to the fire, and the image to the shrub "? See I have understood the Father to be eternal; and the Son to be coeternal with Him; nevertheless say we that He is as the brightness which is thrown out from and is less brilliant than the fire, or as the image which is reflected from and has less real existence than the shrub? No, but there is a thorough equality. "I do not believe it," he will say, "because thou hast not discovered a resemblance." Well then, believe the Apostle, because he was able to see what I have said. For he says, "He thought it not robbery to be equal with God."[3] Equality is[4] perfect likeness in every way. And what said he? "Not robbery." Why? Because that is robbery which belongs to another.

14. Yet from these two comparisons, these two kinds, we may perhaps find in the creature a resemblance whereby we may understand how the Son is both coeternal with the Father, and in no respect less than He. But this we cannot find in one kind of resemblances singly: let us join both kinds together. How both kinds? One, of which they themselves give instances of resemblances, and the other, of which we gave. For they gave instances of resemblances from those things which are born in thee, and are preceded in thee by them of whom they are born, as man of man. He that is born first is greater in thee; but yet man and man, that is of the same substance. For man begets a man, and a horse a horse, and a sheep a sheep. These beget after the same substance, but not after the same thee. They are diverse in thee, but not in nature diverse. What then do we praise here in this nativity? The equality of nature surely. But what is waiting? The equality of thee. Let us retain the one thing which is praised here, that is, the equality of nature. But in the other kind of resemblances, which we gave from the brightness of the fire and the image of the shrub, you find not an equality of nature, you do find an equality of thee. What do we praise here? Equality of thee. What is wanting? Equality of nature. Join the things which you praise together. For in the creatures there is wanting something which you praise, in the Creator nothing can be wanting: because what you find in the creature, came forth from the Hand of the Creator. What then is there in things coeval? Must not that be given to God which you praise herein? But what is wanting must not be attributed to that Sovereign Majesty, in the which there is no defect. See I offer to you things begetting coeval with things begotten: in these you praise the equality of thee, but find fault with the inequality[5] of nature. What you find fault with, do not attribute to God; what you praise, attribute to Him; so from this kind of resemblances you attribute to Him instead of a cotemporaneousness a coeternity, that the Son may be coeternal with Him of whom He was born. But from the other kind of resemblances, which itself too is a creature of God, and ought to praise the Creator, what do you praise in them? Equality of nature. You had before assigned coeternity by reason of the first distinction; by reason of this last, assign equality; and the nativity of the same substance is complete. For what is more mad, my brethren, than that I should praise the creature in anything which does not exist in the Creator? In man I praise equality of nature, shall I not believe it in Him who made man? That which is born of man is man; shall not that which is born of God, be That which He is of whom He was born? Converse have I none with works which God hath not made. Let then all the works of the Creator praise Him. I find in the one ease a cotemporaneousness, I get at the knowledge of a coeternity in the other. In the first I find an equality of nature, I understand an equality of substance in the other. In this then that is "wholly," which in the ether case is found in the several parts, and several things. It is then "wholly" here altogether, and not only what is in the creature; I find it wholly here, but as being in the Creator, in so much higher a way, in that the one is visible, the Other Invisible; the one temporal, the Other Eternal; the one changeable, the Other Unchangeable; the one corruptible, the Other Incorruptible. Lastly, in the case of men themselves, what we Find, man and man, are two men; here the Father and the Son are One God.

15. I render unspeakable thanks to our Lord God, that He hath vouchsafed, at your prayers, to deliver my infirmity from this most perplexed and difficult place. Yet above all things remember this, that the Creator transcends indescribably whatever we could gather from the creature, whether by the bodily senses, or the thought of the mind. But wouldest thou with the mind reach Him? Purify thy mind, purify thine heart. Make clean the eye whereby That, whatever It be, may be reached. For "blessed are the clean in heart, for they shall see God."[1] But whilst the heart was not cleansed, what could be provided and granted more mercifully by Him, than that That Word of whom we have spoken so great and so many things, and yet have spoken nothing worthy of Him; that That Word, "by whom all things were made," should become that which we are, that we might be able to attain to That which we are not? For we are not God; but with the mind or the interior eye of the heart we can see God. Our eyes dulled by sins, blinded, enfeebled by infirmity, desire to see; but we are in hope, not yet in possession. We are the children of God. This saith John, who says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; "[2] he who lay on the Lord's Breast, who drew in these secrets from the Bosom of His Heart; he says, "Dearly beloved, we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."[3] This is promised us.

16. But in order that we may attain, if we cannot yet see God the Word, let us hear the Word made Flesh; seeing we are carnal, let us hear the Word Incarnate. For for this cause came He, for this cause took upon Him our infirmity, that thou mightest be able to receive the strong words of a God bearing thy weakness. And He is truly called "milk." For He giveth milk to infants, that He may give the meat of wisdom to them of riper years. Suck then now with patience, that thou mayest be fed to thy heart's most[4] eager wish. For how is even the milk, wherewith infants are suckled, made? Was it not solid meat on the table? But the infant is not strong enough to eat the meat which is on the table; what does the mother do? She turns the meat[5] into the substance of her flesh, and makes milk of it. Makes for us what we may be able to take. So the Word was made Flesh, that we little ones, who were indeed as infants with respect to food, might be nourished by milk. But there is this difference; that when the mother makes the food turned into flesh milk, the food is turned into milk; whereas the Word abiding Itself unchangeably assumed Flesh, that there might be, as it were, a tissue of the two. What He is, He did not corrupt or change, that in the fashion, He might speak to thee, not transformed and turned into man. For abiding unalterable, unchangeable, and altogether inviolable, He became what thou art in respect of thee, what He is in Himself in respect of the Father.

17. For what doth He say Himself to the infirm, to the end that recovering that sight, they may be able in some measure to reach the Word by whom all things were made? "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, that I am meek and lowly in heart."[6] What doth the Master, the Son of God, the Wisdom of God, by whom all things were made, proclaim? He calleth the human race, and saith, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and learn of Me." Thou wast thinking haply that the Wisdom of God would say, "Learn how I have made the heavens and the stars; how all things also were numbered in Me before they were made, how by virtue of unchangeable principles[7] your very hairs were numbered." Didst thou think that Wisdom would say these things, and such as these? No. But first that. "That I am meek and lowly in heart." Lo, see here what ye can comprehend, brethren; it is surely a little thing. We are making our way to great things, let us receive the little things, and we shall be great. Wouldest thou comprehend the height of God? First comprehend the lowliness of God. Condescend to be humble for thine own sake, seeing that God condescended to be humble for thy sake too; for it was not for His own. Comprehend then the lowliness of Christ, learn to be humble, be loth to be proud Confess thine infirmity, lie patiently before the Physician; when thou shalt have comprehended His lowliness, thou risest with Him; not as though He should rise Himself in that He is the Word; but thou rather, that He may be more anti more comprehended by thee. At first thou didst understand falteringly and hesitatingly; afterwards thou wilt understand more surely and more clearly. He doth not increase, but thou makest progress, and He seemeth as it were to rise with thee. So it is, brethren. Believe the commandments of God, and do them, and He will give you the strength of understanding. Do not put the last first,[8] and, as it were, prefer knowledge to the !commandments of God; lest ye be only the lower, and none the more firmly rooted. Consider a tree; first it strikes downwards, that it may grow up on high; fixes its root low in the ground, that it may extend its top to heaven.

Does it make an effort to grow except from humiliation? And wouldest thou without charity comprehend these transcendent matters, shoot toward the heaven without a root? This were a ruin, not a growing. With "Christ" then "dwelling in your hearts by faith, be ye rooted and grounded in charity, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God."[1]




1. All ye who are looking for a man's many words, understand the One Word of God, "In the beginning was the Word."[2] Now, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth."[3] But, "The Word was," since we have heard, "In the beginning God made." Acknowledge we in Him the Creator; for Creator is He who made; and the creature what He made. For no creature which was made "was," as God the Word "was," by whom it was made, always. Now when we heard "The Word was," with whom was It? We understand the Father who did not make nor create the Same Word, but begat Him. For, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." Whereby made He them? "The Word was, and the Word was with God;"[2] but what kind of Word? Did it sound and so pass away? Was it a mere thought, and motion[4] of the mind? No. Was it suggested by memory, and uttered? No. What kind of Word then? Why dost thou look for many words from me? "The Word was God." When we hear, "The Word was God," we do not make a second God; but we understand the Son. For the Word is the Son of God. Lo, the Son, and What but God? For "The Word was God." What the Father? God of course. If the Father is God and the Son God, do we make two Gods? God forbid. The Father is God, the Son God; but the Father and the Son One God. For the Only Son of God was not made, but born. "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth;" but the Word was of the Father. Was the Word therefore made by the Father? No. "All things were made by Him."[5] If by Him all things were made, was He too made by Himself? Do not imagine that He by whom thou hearest all things were made was Himself made among all things. For if He were made Himself, all things were not made by Him, but Himself was made among the rest. You say, "He was made;" what, by Himself? Who can make himself? If then He was made, how by Him were all things made? See, Himself too was made, as you say, not I, for that He was begotten, I do not deny. If then you say that He was made, I ask by what, by whom? By Himself? Then He "was," before He was made, that He might make Himself. But if all things were made by Him, understand that He was not Himself made. If thou art not able to understand, believe, that thou mayest understand. Faith goes before; understanding follows after; since the Prophet says, "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand.[6] The Word was." Look not for thee in Him, by whom times were made. "The Word was." But you say, "There was a thee that the Word was not." You say falsely; nowhere do you read this. But I do read for you, "In the beginning was the Word." What look you for before the beginning? But if you should be able to find anything before the beginning, this will be the beginning. He is mad who looks for anything before the beginning. What then doth he say was before the beginning? "In the beginning was the Word."

2. But you will say, "The Father both 'was,' and was before the Word." What are you looking for? "In the beginning was the Word." What you find, understand; seek not for what you are not able to find. Nothing is before the beginning. "In the beginning was the Word." The Son is the Brightness of the Father. Of the Wisdom of the Father, which is the Son, it is said, "For He is the brightness of the Everlasting Light."[7] Are you seeking for a Son without a Father? Give me a light without brightness. If there was a time when the Son was net, the Father was a light obscure. For how was He not an obscure Light, if It had no brightness? So then the Father always, the Son always. If the Father always, the Son always. Do you ask of me, whether the Son were born? I answer, "born." For He would not be a Son if not born. So when I say, the Son always was, I say in fact was always born. And who understands, "Was always born "? Give me an eternal fire, and I will give thee an eternal brightness. We bless God who hath given to us the holy Scriptures. Be ye not blind in the brightness of the light. Brightness is engendered of the Light, and yet the Brightness is Coeternal with the Light that engenders It. The Light always, its Brightness always. It begat Its Own Brightness; but was it ever without Its Brightness? Let God be allowed to beget an eternal Son. I pray you hear of whom we are speaking; hear, mark, believe, understand. Of God are we speaking. We confess and believe the Son coeternal with the Father But you will say, "When a man begets a Son, he that begets is the eider, and he that is begotten the younger." It is true; in the case of men, he that begets is the elder, and he that is begotten, the younger, and he arrives in thee to his father's strength. But why, save that whilst the one grows, the other grows old? Let the father stand still a while, and in his growing the son will follow on him, and you will see him equal. But see, I give you whereby to understand this. Fire engenders a coeval brightness. Among men you only find sons younger, fathers older; you do not find them coeval: but as I have said, I show you brightness coeval with its parent fire. For fire begets brightness, yet is it never without brightness. Since then you see that the brightness is coeval with its fire, suffer God to beget a Coeternal Son. Whoso understandeth, let him rejoice: but whoso understandeth not, let him believe. For the word of the Prophet cannot be disannulled; "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand."[1]




1. That our Lord Jesus Christ in seeking lost man was made Man, our preaching has never withholden, and your faith has ever retained; and moreover, that this our Lord, who for our sakes was made Man, was always God with the Father, and always will be, yea rather always Is; for where there is no succession of thee, there is no "hath been" and "will be." For that of which it is said, "it hath been," is now no more; that of which it is said, "it will be," is not yet; but He always is, because He truly "is," that is, is unchangeable. For the Gospel lesson has just now taught us a high and divine mystery. For this beginning of the Gospel St. John poured forth[2] for that he drank it in from the Lord's Breast. For ye remember, that it has been very lately read to you, how that this St. John the Evangelist lay in the Lord's Bosom.[3] And wishing to explain this clearly, he says, "On the Lord's Breast;"[4] that we might understand what he meant, by "in the Lord's bosom." For what, think we, did he drink in who was lying on the Lord's Breast? Nay, let us not think, but drink;[5] for we too have just now heard what we may drink in.

2. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." 6 O glorious preaching! O[7] the result of the full feast of the Lord's Breast! "In the beginning was the Word." Why seekest thou for what was before It? "In the beginning was the Word." If the Word had been made (for made indeed that was not by which all things were made); if the Word had been made, the Scripture would have said, "In the beginning God made the Word;" as it is said in Genesis, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth."[8] God then did not in the beginning make the Word; because, "In the beginning was the Word." This Word which was in the beginning, where was It? Follow on, "And the Word was with God." But from our daily hearing the words of men we are wont to think lightly of this name of "Word." In this case do not think lightly of the Name of "Word;" "The Word was God. The same," that is the Word, "was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made."

3. Extend your hearts, help the poverty of my words. What I shall be able to express, give ear to; on what I shall not be able to express, meditate. Who can comprehend the abiding Word? All our words sound, and pass away. Who can comprehend the abiding Word, save He who abideth in Him? Wouldest thou comprehend the abiding Word? Do not follow the current of the flesh. For this flesh is indeed a current; for it has none abiding. As it were from a kind of secret fount of nature men are born, they live, they die; or whence they come, or whither they go, we know not. It is a hidden water, till it issue from its source; it flows on, and is seen in its course; and again it is hidden in the sea. Let us despise this stream flowing on, running, disappearing, let us despise it. "All flesh is grass, and all the glory of flesh is as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, the flower falleth away." Wouldest thou endure? "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever."[9]

4. But in order to succour us, "The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us."[10] What is, "The Word was made Flesh "? The gold became grass. It became grass for to be burned; the grass was burned, but the gold remained; in the grass It perisheth not, yea, It changed the grass. How did It change it? It raised it up, quickened it, lifted it up to heaven, and placed it at the right Hand of the Father. But that it might be said, "And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us," let us recollect awhile what went before. "He came unto His Own, and His Own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." "To become," for they "were" not; but He "was" Himself in the beginning. "He gave them" then "power to become the sons of God, to them that believe in His Name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."(1) Lo, born they are, in whatever age of the flesh they may be; ye see infants; see and rejoice. Lo, they are born; but they are born of God. Their mother's womb is the water of baptism.

5. Let no man in poorness of soul entertain this conceit, and turn over such most beggarly thoughts in his mind, and say to himself, "How 'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: all things were made by Him;' and lo, ' the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ?'" Hear why it was done. "To those" we know "who believed on Him He hath given power to become the sons of God." Let not those then to whom He hath given power to become the sons of God, think it impossible to become the sons of God. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Do not imagine that it is too great a thing for you to become the sons of God; for your sakes He became the Son of man, who was the Son of God. If He was made, that He might be less, who was more; can He not bring it to pass, that of that less which we were, we may be something more? He descended to us, and shall not we ascend to Him? For us He accepted our death, and shall He not give us His Life? For thee He suffered thy evil things, and shall He not give thee His good things?

6. "But how," one will say, "can it be, that the Word of God, by whom the world is governed, by whom all things both were, and are created, should contract Himself into the womb of a Virgin; should abandon the world, and leave the Angels, and be shut up in one woman's womb?" Thou skillest not to conceive of things divine. The Word of God (I am speaking to thee, O man, I am speaking to thee of the omnipotence of the Word of God) could surely do all, seeing that the Word of God is omnipotent, at once remain with the Father, and come to us; at once in the flesh come forth to us, and lay concealed in Him. For He would not the less have been, if He had not been born of flesh. He "was" before His own flesh; He created His Own mother. He chose her in whom He should be conceived, He created her of whom He should be created. Why marvellest thou? It is God of whom I am speaking to thee: "The Word was God."

7. I am treating of the Word, and perchance the word of men may furnish somewhat like; though very unequal, far distant, in no comparable, yet something which may convey a hint to you by way of resemblance. Lo, the word which I am speaking to you, I have had previously in my heart: it came forth to thee, ;yet it has not departed from me; that began to be in thee, which was not in thee; it continued with me when it went forth to thee. As then my word was brought forth to thy sense, yet did not depart from my heart; so That Word came forth to our senses, yet departed not from His Father. My word was with me, and it came forth into a voice: the Word of God was with the Father, and came forth into Flesh. But can I do with my voice that which He could do with His Flesh? For I am not master(2) of my voice as it flies; He is not only master of His Flesh, that It should be born, live, act; but even when dead He raised It up, and exalted unto the Father the Vehicle as it were in which He came forth to us. You may call the Flesh of Christ a Garment, you may call It a Vehicle, and as perchance Himself vouchsafed to teach us, you may call It His Beast; for on this beast He raised him who had been wounded by robbers;(3) lastly, as He said Himself more expressly, you may call It a Temple; This Temple knows death no more, Its seat is at the right Hand of the Father: in This Temple shall He come to judge the quick and dead. What He hath by precept taught, He hath by example manifested. What He hath in His own Flesh shown, that oughtest thou to hope for in thy flesh. This is faith; hold fast what as yet thou seest not. Need there is, that by believing thou abide firm in that thou seest not; lest when thou shalt see, thou be put to shame.


[CXX. BEN..]


1. THE beginning of John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word."(4) 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 therefrom 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 the idea of the light of this sun, expand, extend how yon will, set no bounds in your thought to that light; it is nothing to the Word of God. Whatsoever of this sort the mind conceives, is less in one part than in the whole. Of the Word conceive as Whole everywhere. Understand ye what I say; because of my stress of time I am limiting myself as much as I can for 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, it enlightens the earth, unfolds the day, develops forms, distinguishes colours. Great blessing it is, great gift of God to all mortal men; let His works 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 the Word of God all is open, from the Word of God nothing is hid. Observe another difference, how far from the Creator is the creature, especially the 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."(1) 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."(2) 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.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF I/VI, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.