The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Thursday, May 26: St Augustine on Today’s Gospel (John 15:9-11)

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2011

Tractate 82 on John 15:8-10 (excerpt)~2. “As the Father hath loved me,” He says, “so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” Here, then, you see, is the source of our good works. For whence should we have them. were it not that faith worketh by love? (Gal 5:6)   And how should we love, were it not that we were first loved? With striking clearness is this declared by the same evangelist in his epistle: “We love God because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).  But when He says, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you,” He indicates no such equality between our nature and His as there is between Himself and the Father, but the grace whereby the Mediator between God and men is the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5).  For He is pointed out as Mediator when He says, “The Father-me, and I-you.” For the Father, indeed, also loveth us, but in Him; for herein is the Father glorified, that we bear fruit in the vine, that is, in the Son, and so be made His disciples.

“Continue ye,” He says, “in my love.” How shall we continue? Listen to what follows: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” Love brings about the keeping of His commandments; but does the keeping of His commandments bring about love? Who can doubt that it is love which precedes? For he has no true ground for keeping the commandments who is destitute of love. And so, in saying, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” He shows not the source from which love springs, but the means whereby it is manifested. As if He said, Think not that ye abide in my love if ye keep not my commandments; for it is only if ye have kept them that ye shall abide. In other words, it will thus be made apparent that ye shall abide in my love if ye keep my commandments. So that no one need deceive himself by saying that he loveth Him, if he keepeth not His commandments. For we love Him just in the same measure as we keep His commandments; and the less we keep them, the less we love. And although, when He saith, “Continue ye in my love,” it is not apparent what love He spake of; whether the love we bear to Him, or that which He bears to us: yet it is seen at once in the previous clause. For He had there said, “So have I loved you;” and to these words He immediately adds, “Continue ye in my love:” accordingly, it is that love which He bears to us. What, then, do the words mean, “Continue ye in my love,” but just, continue ye in my grace? And what do these mean, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” but, hereby shall ye know that ye shall abide in the love which I bear to you, if ye keep my commandments? It is not, then, for the purpose of awakening His love to us that we first keep His commandments; but this, that unless He loves us, we cannot keep His commandments. This is a grace which lies all disclosed to the humble, but is hid from the proud.

But what are we to make of that which follows: “Even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love”? Here also He certainly intended us to understand that fatherly love wherewith He was loved of the Father. For this was what He has just said, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you;” and then to these He added the words, “Continue ye in my love;” in that, doubtless, wherewith I have loved you. Accordingly, when He says also of the Father, “I abide in His love,” we are to understand it of that love which was borne Him by the Father. But then, in this case also, is that love which the Father bears to the Son referable to the same grace as that wherewith we are loved of the Son: seeing that we on our part are sons, not by nature, but by grace; while the Only-begotten is so by nature and not by grace? Or is this even in the Son Himself to be referred to His condition as man? Certainly so. For in saying, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you,” He pointed to the grace that was His as Mediator. For Christ Jesus is the Mediator between God and men, not in respect to His Godhead, but in respect to His manhood.  And certainly it is in reference to this His human nature that we read, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in favor [grace] with God and men” (Lk 2:52).  In harmony, therefore, with this, we may rightly say that while human nature belongs not to the nature of God, yet such human nature does by grace belong to the person of the only-begotten Son of God; and that by grace so great, that there is none greater, yea, none that even approaches equality. For there were no merits that preceded that assumption of humanity, but all His merits began with that very assumption. The Son, therefore, abideth in the love wherewith the Father hath loved Him, and so hath kept His commandments. For what are we to think of Him even as man, but that God is His lifter up? (Ps 3:3) for the Word was God, the Only-begotten, co-eternal with Him that begat; but that He might be given to us as Mediator, by grace ineffable, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (Jn 1:1, 14).

Tractate 83 on John 15:11-12 (excerpt)~You have just heard, beloved, the Lord saying to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be full.” And what else is Christ’s joy in us, save that He is pleased to rejoice over us? And what is this joy of ours which He says is to be made full, but our having fellowship with Him? On this account He had said to the blessed Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou shall have no part with me” (Jn 13:8).   His joy, therefore, in us is the grace He hath bestowed upon us: and that is also our joy. But over it He rejoiced even from eternity, when He chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).  Nor can we rightly say that His joy was not full; for God’s joy was never at any time imperfect. But that joy of His was not in us: for we, in whom it could be, had as yet no existence; and even when our existence commenced, it began not to be in Him. But in Him it always was, who in the infallible truth of His own foreknowledge rejoiced that we should yet be His own. Accordingly, He had a joy over us that was already full, when He rejoiced in foreknowing and foreordaining us: and as little could there be any fear intermingling in that joy of His, lest there should be any possible failure in what He foreknew would be done by Himself. Nor, when He began to do what He foreknew that He would do, was there any increase to His joy as the expression of His blessedness; otherwise His making of us must have added to His blessedness. Be such a supposition, brethren, far from our thoughts; for the blessedness of God was neither less without us, nor became greater because of us. His joy, therefore, over our salvation, which was always in Him, when He foreknew and foreordained us, began to be in us when He called us; and this joy we properly call our own, as by it we, too, shall yet be blessed: but this joy, as it is ours, increases and advances, and presses onward perseveringly to its own completion. Accordingly, it has its beginning in the faith of the regenerate, and its completion in the reward when they rise again. Such is my opinion of the purport of the words, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be made full:” that mine “might be in you;” that yours “might be made full.” For mine was always full, even before ye were called, when ye were foreknown as those whom I was afterwards to call; but it finds its place in you also, when ye are transformed into that which I have foreknown regarding you. And “that yours may be full:” for ye shall be blessed, what ye are not as yet; just as ye are now created, who had no existence before.

3 Responses to “Thursday, May 26: St Augustine on Today’s Gospel (John 15:9-11)”

  1. […] St Augustine on Today’s Gospel (John 15:9-11). […]

  2. […] St Augustine’s Tractates on Today’s Gospel (John 15:9-11). […]

  3. […] St Augustine’s Tractates on Today’s Gospel (John 15:9-11). […]

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