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

Archive for the ‘Notes on 1 John’ Category

Fr. MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 John 2:22-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 2, 2019

1 Jn 2:22. “Who is a liar, but he who denieth?” &c. As if to say, if there be a liar in existence, one guilty of a lie, “which is not of the truth” (verse 21), he must be one who denies Jesus to be the long expected Messiah. Reference is, probably, made to the errors of the Judaizantes, or of the heretics, Ebion and Cerinthus, who broached pernicious errors regarding the Divinity of Christ, even in the Apostle’s own lifetime. “This is Antichrist,” or one of the precursory Antichrists, to whom I have referred (verse 18). “Who denieth the Father and the Son,” &c. Such a person is an Antichrist; for, by erring regarding the Son, he also falls into error, both regarding Father and Son, and denies the high and eternal attributes and relations of both.

1 Jn 2:23. “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” The denial of the Son involves a denial of the Father. They are correlative terms. Hence, the relation of paternity is destroyed, if filiation be denied; for, if Jesus be not the Son of God, neither can we attribute to the Father the relation of paternity; and hence, these heretics, by erring regarding the Son, fall into error, consequently, regarding the Father. “He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also.” These words are not read in the ordinary Greek copies, although they are found in the three principal Greek manuscripts, and in all Latin copies, and in many of the Fathers. Their omission can be easily ascribed to homoioteleuton, that is to say, to a desire, on the part of the Greek transcriber, to avoid the repetition of the same words, with which two successive sentences concluded; but their insertion, if not genuine, could not be so easily accounted for.

1 Jn 2:24. “As for you, let that which you have heard,” &c. The Greek runs thus: “Let that, therefore, which you have heard,” &c., which words convey an inference deduced from verse 21, as if he said, I have written nothing new to you, nothing but what you already know; persevere, then, in what you have known from the beginning of your conversion. The chief MSS. have not the word, therefore. “If that abide in you,” or, if you do persevere thus, “you shall also abide in the Son,” &c., you shall permanently enjoy the friendship of the Father and of the Son.

1 Jn 2:25. He shows the value of this union and friendship with God; it is the secure attainment of eternal life, the reward or inheritance promised to God’s friends—“This is the promise,” or, the thing promised.

1 Jn 2:26. These things he has written regarding the false teachers, who endeavour to corrupt the integrity of their faith.

1 Jn 2:27. “Let the unction which you have received abide in you,” according to which reading, he wishes them to persevere in the “unction,” or, doctrine taught and impressed upon them by the grace of the Holy Ghost. In the Greek, it runs thus: μενει εν ὑμιν, “The unction … abideth in you,” and to this you owe your faith and stability in the same. “And you have no need that any man teach you,” that is, you have no need to be taught by any of these false teachers, to whom allusion is made (verse 28), as endeavouring to seduce them; or, you have no need to be taught by any one, as ignorant persons, unacquainted with the elementary truths of your religion. “But as his unction teaches you of all things (and is truth …) and as it has taught you, so abide in him;” for “in him,” the Greek, εν αυτῷ, may also be translated, in it. Others arrange the sentence without including any part in a parenthesis, thus: As his unction has taught you concerning all things, so it is true, and there is no falsehood in what it taught you. St. John repeats the same truth negatively, a thing quite usual with Hebrew writers, who, after making an assertion, confirm the same by a denial of the contrary. The grace of God is called “unction,” or anointing, on account of the effects produced by it in the spiritual order, analogous to those produced by ointment in the natural. It cools and refreshes, it exhilarates, strengthens, heals, enriches, &c.; and it is said “to teach them concerning all things,” because, it is the principal cause of our faith; and hence, the entire effect is attributed to it, a thing quite usual in sacred Scripture. The words of this verse convey the same idea with the words of verse 20, “but you have unction from the holy one, and know all things.” “And as it has taught you, abide in him;” for “in him,” the Greek might be rendered. in it, in the unction, or rather doctrine, impressed in you by the grace of the Holy Ghost. That the Apostle does not here exclude the external ministry of teachers, is clear from his writing this Epistle; for, why write it, if the external ministry of teaching were not required? In writing it, he would be contradicting his own words: and from the whole context it is quite evident that he is only encouraging the faithful to persevere in the doctrine which they originally believed—of course, from the preaching of the Apostles, and aided by Divine grace—and to shun the new doctrines of error from which the grace of God, confirming in their minds the truths which they originally received, will preserve them. The necessity of an external ministry is abundantly proved from other passages of Scripture (1 Cor. 12:28), where he mentions “Doctors,” in the third place—Ephes. 4:11-13; Rom. 10:14, &c.

1 Jn 2:28. “And now”—a term ordinarily used in urging an earnest request—“little children,” shows his love for them; “abide in him,” εν αυτῷ, may also be rendered “abide in it,” and both may be united in sense thus: “Continue united to him by the steady profession of the faith which the grace and unction of God has enabled you to conceive”—(vide Paraphrase); “that when he shall appear” in majesty to judge the world, “we may have confidence,” that is, great intrepidity in standing before him, “and not be confounded by him at his coming.” Estius understands the word “we” to refer to the Apostles, who would be subject to the slight confusion of losing the accidental crown of witnessing the success of their labours, in the salvation of their people. Of course, the essential reward is attached to the labour itself; this reward the Apostles and all teachers would enjoy independently of the fruits produced—which are not theirs but God’s—should they discharge their functions properly. “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”—(1 Cor. 3:8). The fruits result from God’s grace; the labour is ours. It is likely, that the Apostle included the people also, when he says “we,” and their confusion by falling away from the faith, would be the eternal confusion of the damned (as is explained in the Paraphrase).

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St Augustine’s Tenth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 5:1-3)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 5:1–3.

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat Him, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, because we love God, and do His commandments. For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments.”

1. I Suppose ye remember, those of you who were present yesterday, to what place in the course of this epistle our exposition has reached: namely, “He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also.”1 Thus far we discoursed. Let us see then what comes next in order. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”2 Who is he that believeth not that Jesus is the Christ? He that does not so live as Christ commanded. For many say, “I believe:” but faith without works saveth not. Now the work of faith is Love, as Paul the apostle saith, “And faith which worketh by love.”3 Thy past works indeed, before thou didst believe, were either none, or if they seemed good, were nothing worth. For if they were none, thou wast as a man without feet, or with sore feet unable to walk: but if they seemed good, before thou didst believe, thou didst run indeed, but by running aside from the way thou wentest astray instead of coming to the goal. It is for us, then, both to run, and to run in the way. He that runs aside from the way, runs to no purpose, or rather runs but to toil. He goes the more astray, the more he runs aside from the way. What is the way by which we run? Christ hath told us, “I am the Way.”4 What the home to which we run? “I am the Truth.” By Him thou runnest, to Him thou runnest, in Him thou restest. But, that we might run by Him, He reached even unto us: for we were afar off, foreigners in a far country. Not enough that we were in a far country, we were feeble also that we could not stir. A Physician, He came to the sick: a Way, He extended Himself to them that were in a far country. Let us be saved by Him, let us walk in Him. This it is to “believe that Jesus is the Christ,” as Christians believe, who are not Christians only in name, but in deeds and in life, not as the devils believe. For “the devils also believe and tremble,”5 as the Scripture tells us. What more could the devils believe, than that they should say, “We know who thou art, the Son of God?”6 What the devils said, the same said Peter also. When the Lord asked them who He was, and whom did men say that He was, the disciples made answer to Him, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”7 And this he heard from the Lord: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” See what praises follow this faith. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” What meaneth, “Upon this rock I will build my Church”? Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Upon this rock,” saith He, “I will build my Church.” Mighty praise! So then, Peter saith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God:” the devils also say, “We know who thou art, the Son of God, the Holy One of God.” This Peter said, this also the devils: the words the same, the mind not the same. And how is it clear that Peter said this with love? Because a Christian’s faith is with love, but a devil’s without love. How without love? Peter said this, that he might embrace Christ; the devils said it, that Christ might depart from them. For before they said, “We know who thou art, the Son of God, they said, “What have we to do with thee? Why art thou come to destroy us before the time?” It is one thing then to confess Christ that thou mayest hold Christ, another thing to confess Christ that thou mayest drive Christ from thee. So then ye see, that in the sense in which he here saith, “Whoso believeth,” it is a faith of one’s own, not as one has a faith in common with many. Therefore, brethren, let none of the heretics say to you, “We also believe.” For to this end have I given you an instance from the case of devils, that ye may not rejoice in the words of believing, but search well the deeds of the life.

2. Let us see then what it is to believe in Christ; what to believe that Jesus, He is the Christ. He proceeds: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” But what is it to believe that? “And every one that loveth Him that begat Him, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” To faith he hath straightway joined love, because faith without love is nothing worth. With love, the faith of a Christian; without love, the faith of a devil: but those who believe not, are worse than devils, more stupid than devils. Some man will not believe in Christ: so far, he is not even upon a par with devils. A person does now believe in Christ, but hates Christ: he hath the confession of faith in the fear of punishment, not in love of the crown: thus the devils also feared to be punished. Add to this faith love, that it may become a faith such as the Apostle Paul speaks of, a “faith which worketh by love:”1 thou hast found a Christian, found a citizen of Jerusalem, found a fellow-citizen of the angels, found a pilgrim sighing in the way: join thyself to him, he is thy fellow-traveller, run with him, if indeed thou also art this. “Every one that loveth Him that begat Him, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” Who “begat”? The Father. Who “is begotten”? The Son. What saith he then? “Every one that loveth the Father, loveth the Son.”

3. “In this we know that we love the sons of God.”2 What is this, brethren? Just now he was speaking of the Son of God, not of sons of God: lo, here one Christ was set before us to contemplate, and we were told, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat,” i.e. the Father, “loveth Him also that is begotten of Him,” i.e. the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And he goes on: “In this we know that we love the sons of God;” as if he bad been about to say, “In this we know that we love the Son of God.” He has said, “the sons of God,” whereas he was speaking just before of the Son of God—because the sons of God are the Body of the Only Son of God, and when He is the Head, we the members, it is one Son of God. Therefore, he that loves the sons of God, loves the Son of God, and he that loves the Son of God, loves the Father; nor can any love the Father except he love the Son, and he that loves the sons, loves also the Son of God. What sons of God? The members of the Son of God. And by loving he becomes himself a member, and comes through love to be in the frame of the body of Christ, so there shall be one Christ, loving Himself. For when the members love one another, the body loves itself. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.”3 And then he goes on to say, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members.” John was speaking just before of brotherly love, and said, “He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?”4 But if thou lovest thy brother, haply thou lovest thy brother and lovest not Christ? How should that be, when thou lovest members of Christ? When therefore thou lovest members of Christ, thou lovest Christ; when thou lovest Christ, thou lovest the Son of God; when thou lovest the Son of God, thou lovest also the Father. The love therefore cannot be separated into parts. Choose what thou wilt love; the rest follow thee. Suppose thou say, I love God alone, God the Father. Thou liest: if thou lovest, thou lovest Him not alone; but if thou lovest the Father, thou lovest also the Son. Behold, sayest thou, I love the Father, and I love the Son: but this only, the Father God and the Son God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, that Word by which all things were made, and “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us:” this alone I love. Thou liest; for if thou lovest the Head, thou lovest also the members; but if thou lovest not the members, neither lovest thou the Head. Dost thou not quake at the voice uttered by the Head from Heaven on behalf of His members, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?”5 The persecutor of His members He called His persecutor: His lover, the lover of His members. Now what are His members, ye know, brethren: none other than the Church of God. “In this we know that we love the sons of God, in that we love God.” And how? Are not the sons of God one thing, God Himself another? But he that loves God, loves His precepts. And what are the precepts of God? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”6 Let none excuse himself by another love, for another love; so and so only is it with this love: as the love itself is compacted in one, so all that hang by it doth it make one, and as fire melts them down into one. It is gold: the lump is molten and becomes some one thing. But unless the fervor of charity be applied, of many there can be no melting down into one. “That we love God,” by this “know we that we love the sons of God.”

4. And by what do we know that we love the sons of God? By this, “that we love God, and do His commandments.” We sigh here, by reason of the hardness of doing the commandments of God. Hear what follows. O man, at what toilest thou in loving? In loving avarice. With toil is that loved which thou lovest: there is no toil in loving God. Avarice will enjoin thee labors, perils, sore hardships and tribulations; and thou wilt do its bidding. To what end? That thou mayest have that with which thou shalt fill thy chest, and lose thy peace of mind. Thou didst feel thyself haply more secure before thou hadst it, than since thou didst begin to have. See what avarice has enjoined thee. Thou hast filled thine house, and art in dread of robbers; hast gotten gold, lost thy sleep. See what avarice has enjoined thee. Do, and thou didst. What does God enjoin thee! Love me. Thou lovest gold, thou wilt seek gold, and perchance not find it: whoso seeks me, I am with him. Thou wilt love honor, and perchance not attain unto it: who ever loved me, and did not attain? God saith to thee, thou wouldest make thee a patron, or a powerful friend: thou seekest a way to his favor by means of another inferior. Love me, saith God to thee: favor with me is not had by making interest with some other: thy love itself makes me present to thee. What sweeter than this love, brethren? It is not without reason that ye heard just now in the Psalm, “The unrighteous told me of delights,1 but not as is Thy law, O Lord.”2 What is the Law of God? The commandment of God. What is the commandment of God? That “new commandment,” which is called new because it maketh new: “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”3 Hear because this is the law of God. The apostle saith, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so shall ye fulfill the law of Christ.”4 This, even this, is the consummation of all our works; Love. In it is the end: for this we run: to it we run; when we are come to it, we shall rest.

5. Ye have heard in the Psalm, “I have seen the end of all perfection.5 He hath said, I have seen the end of all perfection: what had he seen? Think we, had he ascended to the peak of some very high and pointed mountain, and looked out thence and seen the compass of the earth, and the circles of the round world, and therefore said, “I have seen the end of all perfection”? If this be a thing to be praised, let us ask of the Lord eyes of the flesh so sharp-sighted, that we shall but require some exceeding high mountain on earth, that from its summit we may see the end of all perfection. Go not far: lo, I say to thee, it is here; ascend the mountain, and see the end. Christ is the Mountain; come to Christ: thou seest thence the end of all perfection. What is this end? Ask Paul: “But the end of the, commandment is charity, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned:”6 and in another place, “Charity is the fullness,” or fulfillment, “of the law.” What so finished and terminated as “fullness”? For, brethren, the apostle here uses end in a way of praise. Think not of consumption, but of consummation. For it is in one sense that one says, I have finished my bread, in another, I have finished my coat. I have finished the bread, by eating it: the coat, by making it. In both places the word is “end,” “finish:” but the bread is finished by its being consumed, the coat is finished by being made: the bread, so as to be no more; the coat, so as to be complete. Therefore in this sense take ye also this word, end, when the Psalm is read and ye hear it said, “On the end, a Psalm of David.”7 Ye are for ever hearing this in the Psalms, and ye should know what ye hear. What meaneth, “On the end”?—“For Christ is the end of the law unto every one that believeth.”8 And what meaneth, “Christ is the end”? Because Christ is God, and “the end of the commandment is charity,” and “Charity is God:” because Father and Son and Holy Ghost are One. There is He the End to thee; elsewhere He is the Way. Do not stick fast in the way, and so never come to the end. Whatever else thou come to, pass beyond it, until thou come to the end. What is the end? It is good for me to “hold me fast in God.”9 Hast thou laid fast hold on God? thou hast finished the way: thou shalt abide in thine own country. Mark well! Some man seeks money: let not it be the end to thee: pass on, as a traveller in a strange land. But if thou love it, thou art entangled by avarice; avarice will be shackles to thy feet: thou canst make no more progress. Pass therefore this also: seek the end. Thou seekest health of the body: still do not stop there. For what is it, this health of the body, which death makes an end of, which sickness debilitates, a feeble, mortal, fleeting thing? Seek that, indeed, lest haply ill-health hinder thy good works: but for that very reason, the end is not there, for it is sought in order to something else. Whatever is sought in order to something else, the end is not there: whatever is loved for its own sake, and freely, the end is there. Thou seekest honors; perchance seekest them in order to do something, that thou mayest accomplish something, and so please God: love not the honor itself, lest thou stop there. Seekest thou praise? If thou seek God’s, thou doest well; if thou seek thine own, thou doest ill; thou stoppest short in the way. But behold, thou art loved, art praised: think it not joy when in thyself thou art praised; be thou praised in the Lord, that thou mayest sing, “In the Lord shall my soul be praised.”1 Thou deliverest some good discourse, and thy discourse is praised. Let it not be praised as thine, the end is not there. If thou set the end there, there is an end of thee: but an end, not that thou be perfected, but that thou be consumed. Then let not thy discourse be praised as coming from thee, as being thine. But how praised? As the Psalm saith, “In God will I praise the discourse, in God will I praise the word.”2 Hereby shall that which there follows come to pass in thee: “In God have I hoped, I will not fear what man can do unto me.”3 For when all things that are thine are praised in God, no fear lest thy praise be lost, since God faileth not. Pass therefore this also.

6. See, brethren, how many things we pass, in which is not the end. These we use as by the way; we take as it were our refreshment at the halting places on our journey, and pass on.4 Where then is the end? “Beloved, we are sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be;”5 here is this said, in this epistle. As yet then, we are on the way; as yet, wherever we come, we must pass on, until we attain unto some end. “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. That is the end; there perpetual praising, there Alleluia6 always without fail. This, then is the end he has spoken of in the Psalm: “I have seen the end of all perfection:”7 and as though it were said to him, What is the end thou hast seen? “Thy commandment, exceeding broad.” This is the end: the breadth of the commandment. The breadth of the commandment is charity, because where charity is, there are no straits. In this breadth. this wide room, was the apostle when he said, “Our mouth is open to you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged: ye are not straitened in us.”8 In this, then, is “Thy commandment exceeding broad.” What is the broad commandment? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.” Charity, then, is not straitened. Wouldest thou not be straitened here on earth? Dwell in the broad room. For whatever man may do to thee, he shall not straiten thee; because thou lovest that which man cannot hurt: lovest God, lovest the brotherhood, lovest the law of God, lovest the Church of God: it shalt be for ever. Thou laborest here on earth, but thou shall come to the promised enjoyment. Who can take from thee that which thou lovest? If no man can take from thee that which thou lovest, secure thou sleepest: or rather secure thou walchest, lest by sleeping thou lose that which thou lovest. For not without reason is it said, “Enlighten mine eyes, lest at any time I sleep in death.”9 They that shut their eyes against charity, fall asleep in the lusts of carnal delights. Be wakeful, therefore. For then are the delights, to eat, to drink, to wanton in luxury, to play, to hunt; these vain pomps all evils follow. Are we ignorant that they are delights? who can deny that they delight? But more beloved is the law of God. Cry against such persuaders: “The unrighteous have told me of delights: but not so as is thy law, O Lord.”10 This delight remaineth. Not only remaineth as the goal to which thou mayest come, but also calleth thee back when thou fleest.

7. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”11 Already ye have heard, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” See how He would not have thee divide thyself over a multitude of pages: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” On what two commandments? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”12 See here of what commandments this whole epistle talks. Therefore hold fast love, and set your minds at rest. Why fearest thou lest thou do evil to some man? Who does evil to the man he loves? Love1 thou: it is impossible to do this without doing good. But it may be, thou rebukest? Kindness2 does it, not fierceness. But it may be thou beatest? For discipline thou dost this; because thy kindness of love3 will not let thee leave him undisciplined. And indeed there come somehow these different and contrary results, that sometimes hatred uses winning ways, and charity shows itself fierce. A person hates his enemy, and feigns friendship for him: he sees him doing some evil, he praises him: he wishes him to go headlong, wishes him to go blind over the precipice of his lusts, haply never to return; he praises him, “For the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul;”4 he applies to him the unction of adulation; behold, he hates, and praises. Another sees his friend doing something of the same sort; he calls him back; if he will not hear, he uses words even of castigation, he scolds, he quarrels:5 there are times when it comes to this, that one must even quarrel! Behold, hatred shows itself winningly gentle, and charity quarrels! Stay not thy regard upon the words of seeming kindness, or the seeming cruelty of the rebuke; look into the vein6 they come from; seek the root whence they proceed. The one is gentle and bland that he may deceive, the other quarrels that he may correct. Well then, it is not for us, brethren, to enlarge your heart: obtain from God the gift to love one another. Love all men, even your enemies, not because they are your brethren, but that they may be your brethren; that ye may be at all times on fire with brotherly love, whether toward him that is become thy brother, or towards thine enemy, so that, by being beloved, he may become thy brother. Wheresoever ye love a brother, ye love a friend. Now is he with thee, now is he knit to thee in unity, yea catholic unity. If thou art living aright, thou lovest a brother made out of an enemy. But thou lovest some man who has not yet believed Christ, or, if he have believed, believes as do the devils: thou rebukest his vanity. Do thou love, and that with a brotherly love: he is not yet a brother, but thou lovest to the end he may be a brother. Well then, all our love is a brotherly love, towards Christians, towards all His members. The discipline of charity, my brethren, its strength, flowers, fruit, beauty, pleasantness, food, drink, meat, embracing, hath in it no satiety. If it so delight us while in a strange land, in our own country how shall we rejoice!

8. Let us run then, my brethren, let us run, and love Christ. What Christ? Jesus Christ. Who is He? The Word of God. And how came He to the sick? “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us.”7 It is complete then, which the Scripture foretold, “Christ must suffer, and rise again the third day from the dead.”8 His body, where is it? His members, where toil they? Where must thou be, that thou mayest be under thine Head? “And that repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name through all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”9 There let thy charity be spread abroad. Christ saith, and the Psalm, i.e. the Spirit of God, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad:” and for-sooth some man will have charity to be confined to Africa! Extend thy charity over the whole earth if thou wilt love Christ, for Christ’s members are over all the earth. If thou lovest but a part, thou art divided: if thou art divided, thou art not in the body; if thou art not in the body, thou art not under the Head. What profiteth it thee that thou believest10 and blasphemest? Thou adorest Him in the Head, blasphemest Him in the Body. He loves His Body. If thou hast cut thyself off from His Body, the Head hath not cut itself off from its Body. To no purpose dost thou honor me, cries thine Head to thee from on high, to no purpose dost thou honor me. It is all one as if a man would kiss thine head and tread upon thy feet: perchance with nailed boots he would crush thy feet, while he will clasp thy head and kiss it: wouldest thou not cry out in the midst of the words with which he honors thee, and say, What art thou doing, man? thou treadest on me. Thou wouldest not mean, Thou treadest on my head; for the head he honored; but more would the head cry out for the members trodden upon, than for itself because it was honored. Does not the head itself cry out, I will none of thine honor; do not tread on me? Now say if thou canst, How have I trodden upon thee? say that to the head: I wanted to kiss thee, I wanted to embrace thee. But seest thou not, O fool, that what thou wouldest embrace does in virtue of a certain unity, which knits the whole frame together, reach to that which thou treadest upon? Above11 thou honorest me, beneath12 thou treadest upon me. That on which thou treadest pains more than that which thou honorest rejoiceth. In what sort does the tongue cry out? “It hurts me.” It saith not, “It hurts my foot,” but, “It hurts me,” saith it. O tongue, who has touched thee? who has struck? who has goaded? who has pricked? No man, but I am knit together with the parts that are trodden upon. How wouldest thou have me not be pained, when I am not separate?

9. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, ascending into heaven on the fortieth day, did for this reason commend to us His Body where it would continue to lie, because He saw that many would honor Him for that He is ascended into heaven: and saw that their honoring Him is useless if they trample upon His members here on earth. And lest any one should err, and, while he adored the Head in heaven should trample upon the feet on earth, He told us where would be His members. For being about to ascend, He spake His last words on earth: after those same words He spake no more on earth. The Head about to ascend into heaven commended to us His members on earth and departed. Thenceforth thou findest not Christ speaking on earth; thou findest Him speaking, but from heaven. And even from heaven, why? Because His members on earth were trodden upon. For to the persecutor Saul He said from on high, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”1 I am ascended into heaven, but still I lie on earth: here I sit at the right hand of the Father, but there I yet hunger, thirst, and am a stranger. In what manner then did He commend to us His Body, when about to ascend into heaven? When the disciples asked Him, saying, “Lord, wilt thou at this time present2 thyself, and when shall be the kingdom of Israel?”3 He made answer, now at the point to depart, “It is not for you to know the time which the Father hath put in His own power: but ye shall receive strength of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me.” See where His Body is spread abroad, see where He will not be trodden upon: “Ye shall be witnesses to me, unto Jerusalem, and unto Judea, and even unto all the earth.” Lo, where I lie that am ascending! For I ascend, because I am the Head: my Body lies yet beneath. Where lies? Throughout the whole earth. Beware thou strike not, beware thou hurt not, beware thou trample not: these be the last words of Christ about to go into heaven. Look at a sick man languishing on his bed, lying in his house, and worn out with sickness, at death’s door, his soul as it were even now between his teeth: who, anxious, it may be, about something that is dear to him, which he greatly loves, and it comes into his mind, calls his heirs, and says to them, I pray you, do this. He, as it were, detains his soul by a violent effort, that it may not depart ere those words be made sure. When he has dictated those last words, he breathes out his soul, he is borne a corpse to the sepulchre. His heirs, how do they remember the last words of the dying man? How, if one should stand up and say to them, Do it not: what would they say? “What? shall I not do that which my father, in the act of breathing out his soul, commanded me with his last breath, the last word of his that sounded in my ears when my father was departing this life? Whatever other words of his I may not regard, his last have a stronger hold upon me: since which I never saw him more, never more heard speech of his. Brethren, think with Christian hearts; if to the heirs of a man, his words spoken when about to go to the tomb are so sweet, so grateful, so weighty, what must we account of the last words of Christ, spoken not when about to go back to the tomb, but to ascend into heaven! As for the man who lived and is dead, his soul is hurried off to other places, his body is laid in the earth, and whether these words of his be done or not, makes no difference to him: he has now something else to do, or something else to suffer: either in Abraham’s bosom he rejoices, or in eternal fire he longs for a drop of water, while his corpse lies there senseless in the sepulchre; and yet the last words of the dying man are kept. What have those to look for, who keep not the last words of Him that sitteth in heaven, who seeth from on high whether they be despised or not despised? The words of Him, who said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?” who keeps account, unto the judgment, of all that He seeth His members suffer?

10. And what have we done, say they? We are the persecuted, not the persecutors. Ye are the persecutors, O wretched men. In the first place, in that ye have divided the Church. Mightier the sword of the tongue than the sword of steel. Agar, Sarah’s maid, was proud, and she was afflicted by her mistress for her pride. That was discipline, not punishment.4 Accordingly, when she had gone away from her mistress, what said the angel to her? “Return to thy mistress.”5 Then, O carnal soul, like a proud bond-woman, suppose thou have suffered any trouble for discipline’ sake, why rarest thou? “Return to thy mistress,” hold fast the peace of the Church.6 Lo, the gospels are produced, we read where the Church is spread abroad: men dispute against us, and say to us, “Betrayers!”1 Betrayers of what? Christ commendeth to us His Church, and thou believest not: shall I believe thee, when thou revilest my parents? Wouldest thou that I should believe thee about the “betrayers”? Do thou first believe Christ. What is worth believing? Christ is God, thou art man: which ought to be believed first? Christ has spread His Church abroad over all the earth: I say it—despise me: the gospel speaks—beware. What saith the gospel? “It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.”2 Where remission of sins, there the Church is. How the Church? Why, to her it was said,3 “To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” 4Where is this remission of sins spread abroad? “Through all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Lo, believe Christ! But, because thou art well aware that if thou shalt believe Christ, thou wilt not have anything to say about “betrayers,” thou wilt needs have me to believe thee when thou speakest evil against my parents, rather than thyself believe what Christ foretold!

• • • • • • • •

[The remainder of the Homily is wanting in all the manuscripts. It seems also that St. Augustin was hindered from completing the exposition of the entire epistle, as he had undertaken to do: at least Possidius specifies this work under the title, “In Epist. Joannis ad Parthos Tractatus decem,” and it is scarcely likely that the whole of the fifth chapter was expounded in this tenth Homily.—Of the “Sermons,” there are none upon the remaining part of this epistle: the following extracts from other works of St. Augustin will supply what will be most desiderated: namely, his exposition of the text on “the Three Witnesses,” of “the sin unto death,” and of the twentieth verse].

Contra Maximinum, lib. ii. c. 22 §. 3.

1 Joann 5:7–8. Tres sunt testes; spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis; et tres unum sunt.5

I would not have thee mistake that place in the epistle of John the apostle where he saith, “There are three witnesses: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three are one.” Lest haply thou say that the Spirit and the water and the blood are diverse substances, and yet it is said, “the three are one:” for this cause I have admonished thee, that thou mistake not the matter. For these are mystical expressions,6 in which the point always to be considered is, not what the actual things are, but what they denote as signs: since they are signs of things, and what they are in their essence is one thing, what they are in their signification another. If then we understand the things signified, we do find these things to be of one substance. Thus, if we should say, the rock and the water are one, meaning by the Rock, Christ; by the water, the Holy Ghost: who doubts that rock and water are two different substances? yet because Christ and the Holy Spirit are of one and the same nature, therefore when one says, the rock and the water are one, this can be rightly taken in this behalf, that these two things of which the nature is diverse, are signs of other things of which the nature is one. Three things then we know to have issued from the Body of the Lord when He hung upon the tree: first, the spirit: of which it is written, “And He bowed the head and gave up the spirit:”7 then, as His side was pierced by the spear, “blood and water.” Which three things if we look at as they are in themselves, they are in substance several and distinct, and therefore they are not one. But if we will inquire into the things signified I by these, there not unreasonably comes into our thoughts the Trinity itself, which is the One, Only, True, Supreme God, Father and Son and Holy Ghost, of whom it could most truly be said, “There are Three Witnesses, and the Three are One:” so that by the term Spirit we should understand God the Father to be signified; as indeed it was concerning the worshipping of Him that the Lord was speaking, when He said, “God is a Spirit:”8 by the term, blood, the Son; because “the Word was made flesh:”9 and by the term water, the Holy Ghost; as, when Jesus spake of the water which He would give to them that thirst, the evangelist saith, “But this said He of the Spirit which they that believed on Him were to receive.”10 Moreover, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “Witnesses,” who that believes the Gospel can doubt, when the Son saith, “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me, He beareth witness of me.”11 Where, though the Holy Ghost is not mentioned, yet He is not to be thought separated from them. Howbeit neither concerning the Spirit hath He kept silence elsewhere, and that He too is a witness hath been sufficiently and openly shown. For in promising Him He said, “He shall bear witness of me.”1 These are the “Three Witnesses, and the Three are One, because of one substance. But whereas, the signs by which they were signified came forth from the Body of the Lord, herein they figured the Church preaching the Trinity, that it hath one and the same nature: since these Three in threefold manner signified are One, and the Church that preacheth them is the Body of Christ. In this manner then the three things by which they are signified came out from the Body of the Lord: like as from the Body of the Lord sounded forth the command to “baptize the nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”2 “In the name:” not, In the names: for “these Three are One,” and One God is these Three. And if in any other way this depth of mystery which we read in John’s epistle can be expounded and understood agreeably with the Catholic faith, which neither confounds nor divides the Trinity, neither believes the substances diverse nor denies that the persons are three, it is on no account to be rejected. For whenever in Holy Scriptures in order to exercise the minds of the faithful any thing is put darkly, it is to be joyfully welcomed if it can be in many ways but not unwisely expounded.

De Sermone Domini in Monte, lib. i. 22, §. 73.

1 John 5:16. Si quis scit peccare fratrem suum peccatum non ad mortem, postulabit, et dabit illi Dominus vitam qui peccat non ad mortem; est autem peccatum ad mortem; non pro illo dico ut roget.

But what presses harder upon the present question [in the Lord’s command of praying for enemies and persecutors] is that saying of the apostle John, “If any man know that his brother sinneth a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and the Lord will give life to that man who sinneth not unto death: but there is a sin unto death: not for that do I say that he should ask.” For it manifestly shows that there are some “brethren” whom we are not commanded to pray for, whereas the Lord bids us pray even for our persecutors. Nor can this question be solved except we acknowledge, that there are some sins in brethren that are worse than the sin of enemies in persecuting. That “brethren” mean Christians, may be proved by many texts of Holy Writ; the plainest, however, is that of the apostle which he puts thus: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother.”3 For he has not added our; but thought it plain enough, when by the term brother he spake of the Christian that should have an unbelieving wife. And accordingly he says just afterwards, “But if the unbelieving depart, let her depart: but a brother or sister is not put under servitude in a matter of this sort.” The “sin,” therefore, of a brother, “unto death,” I suppose to be when, after the acknowledging of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, one fights against the brotherhood, and is set on by the fire-brands of hatred4 against the very grace through which he was reconciled to God.5 But “a sin not unto death” is when a person, not having alienated his love from his brother. yet through some infirmity of mind may have failed to exhibit the due offices of brotherhood. Wherefore, on the one hand, the Lord on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”6 since they had not yet, by being made partakers of the grace of the Holy Spirit, entered into the fellowship of holy brotherhood; and blessed Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles prays for them who are stoning him;7 because they had not yet believed Christ, and were not fighting against that grace of communion. On the other hand, the apostle Paul does not pray for Alexander, and the reason I suppose, is, that this man was a brother, and had sinned “unto death,” i.e. by opposing the brotherhood in a spirit of hatred.8 Whereas for such as had not broken off the bonds of love, but had given way through fear, he prays that they may be forgiven. For so he says: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.”9 Then he subjoins for whom he prays, saying, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” This difference of sins it is that distinguishes Judas with his treason from Peter with his denial. Not that to him who repenteth there is to be no forgiveness: lest we go against that sentence of the Lord, in which He commands always to forgive the brother who asks his brother’s forgiveness:1 but that the mischief of that sin is, that the man cannot submit to the humiliation of begging for pardon, even when he is forced by his evil conscience both to acknowledge and to publish his sin. For when Judas had said, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood,”2 he went and hanged himself in desperation, rather than pray for forgiveness in humiliation. Wherefore it makes a great difference, what sort of repentance God forgives. For many are much quicker than others to confess that they have sinned, and are angry with themselves in such sort that they vehemently wish they had not sinned, while yet they cannot lay down their pride, and submit to have the heart humbled and broken so as to implore pardon: a state of mind which one may well believe to be, for the greatness of their sin, a part of their already begun damnation.

And this, perhaps, it is “to sin against the Holy Ghost:”3 i.e. through malice and envy to fight against brotherly charity after receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit: that sin which the Lord saith hath no forgiveness, either here or in the world to come … For the Lord in saying to the Pharisees, “Whosoever shall speak an evil word against the Son of Man,”4 &c., may have meant to warn them to come to the grace of God, and having received it, not to sin as they have now sinned. For now they have spoken an evil word against the Son of Man, and it may be forgiven them, if they be converted and believe and receive the Holy Spirit: which when they have received, if they will then have ill-will against the brotherhood and oppose the grace they have received, there is no forgiveness for them, either in this world or in the world to come.

Liber de Correptione et Gratia, § 35.

By this grace such is the liberty they receive, that although as long as they live here they have to fight against the lusts of sins, and are overtaken by some sins for which they must daily pray, “Forgive us our debts,” yet they no longer serve the sin which is unto death, of which the apostle John saith, “There is a sin unto death, I do not say that he shall ask for that.” Concerning which sin (since it is not expressed) many different opinions may be formed: but I affirm that sin to be the forsaking until death5 the “faith which worketh by love.

Contra Maximinum, lib. ii. c. 14, § 2, 3.

1 John 4:20. “Ut simus in vero Filio ejus Jesu Christo; ipse est verus Deus et vita aterna.”6

When ye read, “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ,” think of the “true Son” of God. But this Son ye in no wise think to be the true Son of God, if ye deny Him to be begotten of the substance of the Father. For was He already Son of Man and by gift of God became Son of God, begotten indeed of God, but by grace, not by nature? Or, though not Son of Man, yet was He some sort of creature which, by God’s changing it, was converted into Son of God? If you mean nothing of this sort, then was He either begotten of nothing, or of some substance. But thou hast relieved us from all fear of having to suppose that you affirm the Son of God to be of nothing, for thou hast declared that this is not your meaning. Therefore, He is of some substance. If not of the substance of the Father, then of what? Tell me. But ye cannot find any other … Consequently, the Father and the Son are of one and the same substance. This is the Homousion … In the Scriptures both you and we read, “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ; He is the true God and Eternal Life.” Let both parties yield to such weighty evidence. Tell us then, whether this “true Son” of God, discriminated as He is by the property of this name from those who are sons by grace,1 be of no substance or of some substance. Thou sayest, “I do not say that He is of no substance, lest I should say that He is of nothing.” He is therefore of some substance: I ask, of what? If not of the substance of the Father, seek another. If thou findest not another, as indeed thou canst find none at all, then acknowledge it to be the Father’s, and confess the Son Homöusios, “of one substance with the Father.” Flesh is begotten of flesh, the Son of flesh is begotten of the substance of the flesh. Set aside corruption, reject from the eye of the mind all carnal passions, and behold “the invisible things of God understood by the means of the things that are made.”2 Believe that the Creator who hath given flesh power to beget flesh, who hath given parents power of the substance of the flesh to generate “true sons” of flesh, much more had power to beget a “true Son” of His own substance, and to have one substance with the true Son, the spiritual incorruption remaining and carnal corruption being altogether alien there from.3

Collatio cum Maximino, § 14.

If He is begotten, He is Son: if He is Son, He is the “true Son,” because Only-Begotten. For we also are called sons: He Son by nature, we sons by grace … To say that because He is begotten, He is of another nature, is to deny that He is the “true Son.” Now we have the Scripture: “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ; He is the true God and Eternal Life.”4 Why “true God”? because “true Son” of God. For if He has given to animals this property, that what they beget shall be none other than what they themselves are: man begets man, dog begets dog, and should God not beget God? If then He is of the same substance, why callest thou Him less? Is it because when a human father begets a son, though human beget human, yet greater begets less? If so, then let us wait for Christ to grow as human beings grow whom human beings beget!5 But if Christ, ever since He was begotten (and this was not in time but from eternity), is what He is, and yet is less than the Father, at that rate the human condition is the better of the two: for a human being at any rate can grow, and has the property of sooner or later attaining to the age, to the strength of the father; but He never: then how is He a “true Son”?

De Trinitate, lib. i. 6, § 9.

And if the Son be not of the same substance as the Father, then is He a made substance: if a made substance, then not “all things were made by Him:” but, “all things were made by Him;”6 therefore, He is of one and the same substance with the Father. And therefore, not only God, but True (or, Very) God. Which the same John doth most openly affirm in his epistle: Scimus quod Filius Dei venerit et dederit nobis intellectum ut cognoscamus verum Deum, et simus in vero Filio ejus Jesu Christo. Hic est verus Deus et vita aterna.” “We know that the Son of God is come; and hath given us an understanding that we may (learn to) know the True God,7 and may be in His true Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and Eternal Life.”

10. Hence also by consequence we understand, that what the apostle Paul saith, “Who only hath immortality,”8 he saith not merely of the Father, but of the One and Only God, which the Trinity itself is. For neither is the “Eternal Life” itself mortal in respect of any mutability: and consequently, since the Son of God “is Eternal Life,” He also is to be understood together with the Father, where it is said, “Who only hath immortality.

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St Augustine’s Ninth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 4:17-21)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 4:17–21.

“Herein is love made perfect in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. Let us love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

1. Ye remember, beloved, that of the epistles of John the apostle the last past remains to be handled by us and expounded to you, as the Lord vouchsafes. Of this debt then we are mindful: and ye ought to be mindful of your claim. For indeed this same charity, which in this epistle is chiefly and almost alone commended, at once maketh us most faithful in paying our debts, and you most sweet in exacting your rights. I have said, most sweet in exacting, because where charity is not, he that exacts is bitter: but where charity is, both he that exacts is sweet, and he of whom it is exacted, although he undertakes some labor, yet charity makes the very labor to be almost no labor, and light. Do we not see how, even in dumb and irrational animals, where the love is not spiritual but carnal and natural, with great affection the mother yields herself to her young ones when they will have the milk which is their right: and however impetuously the suckling rushes at the teats, yet that is better for the mother than that it should not suck nor exact that which of love is due? Often we see great calves driving their heads at the cow’s udders with a force that almost lifts up the mother’s body, yet does she not kick them off; nay, if the young one be not there to suck, the lowing of the dam calls for it to come to the teats. If then there be in us that spiritual charity of which the apostle saith, “I became small in the midst of you even as a nurse cherishing her young ones;”2 we love you the more when ye are exacting. We like not the sluggish, because for the languid ones we are afraid. We have been obliged, however, to intermit the continuous reading of this epistle, because of certain stated lessons coming between, which must needs be read on their holy days, and the same preached upon. Let us now come back to the order which was interrupted; and what remains, holy brethren, receive ye with all attention. I know not whether charity could be more magnificently commended to us, than that it should be said, “Charity is God.”3 Brief praise, yet mighty praise: brief in utterance, mighty in meaning! How soon is it said, “Love is God!” This also is short: if thou count it, it is one: if thou weigh it, how great is it! “Love is God, and he that dwelleth,” saith he, “in love, dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him.” Let God be thy house, and be thou an house of God; dwell in God, and let God dwell in thee. God dwelleth in thee, that He may hold thee: thou dwellest in God, that thou mayest not fall; for thus saith the apostle of this same charity “Charity never falleth.”1 How should He fall whom God holdeth?

2. “Herein is our love made perfect in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.”2 He tells how each may prove himself, what progress charity has made in him; or rather what progress he has made in charity. For if charity is God, God is capable neither of proficiency nor of deficiency: that charity is said to be making proficiency in thee, means only that thou makest proficiency in it. Ask therefore what proficiency thou hast made in charity, and what thine heart will answer thee, that thou mayest know the measure of thy profiting. For he has promised to show us in what we may know Him, and hath said, “In this is love made perfect in us.” Ask, in what? “That we have boldness in the day of judgment.” Whoso hath boldness in the day of judgment, in that man is charity made perfect. What is it to have boldness in the day of judgment? Not to fear lest the day of judgment should come. There are men who do not believe in a day of judgment; these cannot have boldness in a day which they do not believe will come. Let us pass these: may God awaken them, that they may live; why speak we of the dead? They do not believe that there will be a day of judgment; they neither fear nordesire what they do not believe. Some man has begun to believe in a day of judgment: if he has begun to believe, he has also begun to fear. But because he fears as yet, because he hath not yet boldness in the day of judgment, not yet is charity in that man made perfect. But for all that, is one to despair? In whom thou seest the beginning, why despairest thou of the end? What beginning do I see? (sayest thou.) That very fear. Hear the Scripture: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”3 Well then, he has begun to fear the day of judgment: by fearing let him correct himself, let him watch against his enemies, i.e. his sins; let him begin to come to life again inwardly, and to mortify his members which are upon the earth, as the apostle saith, “Mortify your members which are upon the earth.”4 By the members upon earth he means spiritual wickedness:5 for he goes on to expound it, “Covetousness, uncleanness,”6 and the rest which he there follows out. Now in proportion as this man who has begun to fear the day of judgment, mortifies his members which are upon the earth, in that proportion the heavenly members rise up and are strengthened. But the heavenly members are all good works. As the heavenly members rise up, he begins to desire that which once he feared. Once he feared lest Christ should come and find in him the impious whom. He must condemn; now he longs for Him to come, because He shall find the pious man whom He may crown. Having now begun to desire Christ’s coming, the chaste soul which desires the embrace of the Bridegroom renounces the adulterer, becomes a virgin within by faith, hope, and charity. Now hath the man boldness in the day of judgment: he fights not against himself when he prays, “Thy kingdom come.”7 For he that fears lest the kingdom of God should come, fears lest his prayer be heard. How can he be said to pray, who fears lest his prayer be heard? But he that prays with boldness of charity, wishes now that He may come. Of this same desire said one in the Psalm, “And thou, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver my soul.”8 He groaned at being so put off. For there are men who with patience submit to die; but there are some perfect who with patience endure to live. What do I mean? When a person still desires this life, that person, when the day of death comes, patiently endures death: he struggles against himself that he may follow the will of God, and in his mind desires that which God chooseth, not what man’s will chooseth: from desire of the present life there comes a reluctance against death, but yet he takes to him patience and fortitude, that he may with an even mind meet death; he dies patiently. But when a man desires, as the apostle saith, “to be dissolved and to be with Christ,”9 that person, not patiently dies, but patiently lives, delightedly dies. See the apostle patiently living, i.e. how with patience he here, not loves life, but endures it. “To be dissolved,” saith be, “and to be with Christ, is far better: but to continue in the flesh is necessary for your sakes.” Therefore, brethren, do your endeavor, settle it inwardly with yourselves to make this your concern, that ye may desire the day of judgment. No otherwise is charity proved to be perfect, but only when one has begun to desire that day. But that man desires it, who hath boldness in it, whose conscience feels no alarm in perfect and sincere charity.

3. “In this is His love perfected in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.” Why shall we have boldness? “Because as He is are we also in this world.” Thou hast heard the ground of thy boldness: “Because as He is,” saith the apostle, “are we also in this world.” Does he not seem to have said something impossible? For is it possible for man to be as God? I have already expounded to you that “as” is not always said of equality, but is said of a certain resemblance. For how sayest thou, As I have ears, so has my image? Is it quite so? and yet thou sayest “so, as.” If then we were made after God’s image, why are we not so as God? Not unto equality, but relatively to our measure. Whence then are we given boldness in the day of judgment? “Because as He is, are we also in this world.” We must refer this to the same charity, and understand what is meant. The Lord in the Gospel saith, “If ye love them that love you, what reward shall ye have? do not the publicans this?”1 Then what would He have us do? “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray far them that persecute you.” If then He bids us love our enemies, whence brings He an example to set before us? From God Himself: for He saith, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” How doth God this? He loveth His enemies, “Who maketh His sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.” If this then be the perfection unto which God inviteth us, that we love our enemies as He loved His; this is our boldness in the day of judgment, that “as He is, so are we also in this world:” because, as He loveth His enemies in making His sun to rise upon good and bad, and in sending rain upon the just and unjust, so we, since we cannot bestow upon them sun and rain, bestow upon them our tears when we pray for them.

4. Now therefore concerning this same boldness, let us see what he says. Whence do we understand that charity is perfect? “There is no fear in charity.”2 Then what say we of him that has begun to fear the day of judgment? If charity in him were perfect, he would not fear. For perfect charity would make perfect righteousness, and he would have nothing to fear: nay rather he would have something to desire; that iniquity may pass away, and God’s kingdom come. So then, “there is no fear in charity.” But in what charity? Not in charity begun: in what then? “But perfect charity,” saith he, “casteth out fear.” Then let fear make the beginning, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear, so to say, prepares a place for charity. But when once charity has begun to inhabit, the fear which prepared the place for it is cast out. For in proportion as this increases, that decreases: and the more this comes to be within, is the fear cast out. Greater charity, less fear; less charity, greater fear. But if no fear, there is no way for charity to come in. As we see in sewing, the thread is introduced by means of the bristle;3 the bristle first enters, but except it come out the thread does not come into its place: so fear first occupies the mind, but the fear does not remain there, because it enters only in order to introduce charity. When once there is the sense of security in the mind, what joy have we both in this world and in the world to come! Even in this world, who shall hurt us, being full of charity? See how the apostle exults concerning this very charity: “Who shall separate us from the charity of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”4 And Peter saith: “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers5 of that which is good?—There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.”6 The consciousness of sins torments the heart: justification has not yet taken place. There is that in it which itches, which pricks. Accordingly in the Psalm what saith he concerning this same perfection of righteousness? “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing to thee, and that I be not pricked.”7 What is this, “That I be not pricked?” That there be not that which shall goad my conscience. Fear doth goad: but fear not thou: charity enters in, and she heals the wound that fear inflicts. The fear of God so wounds as doth the leech’s knife;8 it takes away the rottenness, and seems to make the wound greater. Behold, when the rottenness was in the body, the wound was less, but perilous: then comes the knife; the wound smarted less than it smarts now while the leech is cutting it. It smarts more while he is operating upon it than it would if it were not operated upon; it smarts more under the healing operation, but only that it may never smart when the healing is effected. Then let fear occupy thine heart, that it may bring in charity; let the cicatrice succeed to the leech’s knife. He is such an Healer, that the cicatrices do not even appear: only do thou put thyself under His hand. For if thou be without fear, thou canst not be justified. It is a sentence pronounced by the Scriptures; “For he that is without fear, cannot be justified.”1 Needs then must fear first enter in, that by it charity may come. Fear is the healing operation: charity, the sound condition. “But he that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Why? “Because fear hath torment;” just as the cutting of the surgeon’s knife hath torment.

5. But there is another sentence, which seems contrary to this if it have not one that understands.2 Namely, it is said in a certain place of the Psalms, “The fear of the Lord is chaste, enduring forever.”3 He shows us an eternal fear, but a chaste. But if he there shows us an eternal fear, does this epistle perchance contradict him, when it saith, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear?” Let us interrogate both utterances of God. One is the Spirit, though the books two, though the mouths two though the tongues two. For this is said by the mouth of John, that by the mouth of David: but think not that the Spirit is more than one. If one breath fills two pipes [of the double-flute], cannot one Spirit fill two hearts, move two tongues? But if two pipes filled by one breathing sound in unison, can two tongues filled with the Spirit or Breathing of God make a dissonance? There is then an unison there, there is a harmony, only it requires one that can hear. Behold, this Spirit of God hath breathed into and filled two hearts, hath moved two tongues: and we have heard from the one tongue, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear;” we have heard from the other, “The fear of the Lord is chaste, enduring for ever.” How is this? The notes seem to jar. Not so: rouse thine ears: mark the melody. It is not without cause that in the one place there is added that word, chaste, in the other it is not added: but because there is one fear which is called chaste, and there is another fear which is not called chaste. Let us mark the difference between these two fears, and so understand the harmony of the flutes. How are we to understand, or how to distinguish? Mark, my beloved. There are men who fear God, lest they be cast intohell, lest haply they burn with the devil in everlasting fire. This is the fear which introduces charity: but it comes that it may depart. For if thou as yet fearest God because of punishments, not yet dost thou love Him whom thou in such sort fearest. Thou dost not desire the good things, but art afraid of the evil things. Yet because thou art afraid of the evil things, thou correctest thyself and beginnest to desire the good things. When once thou hast begun to desire the good, there shall be in thee the chaste fear. What is the chaste fear? The fear lest thou lose the good things themselves. Mark! It is one thing to fear God lest He cast thee into hell with the devil, and another thing to fear God lest He forsake thee. The fear by which thou fearest lest thou be cast into hell with the devil, is not yet chaste; for it comes not from the love of God, but from the fear of punishment: but when thou fearest God lest His presence forsake thee, thou embracest Him, thou longest to enjoy God Himself.

6. One cannot better explain the difference between these two fears, the one which charity casteth out, the other chaste, which endureth for ever, than by putting the case of two married women, one of whom, you may suppose, is willing to commit adultery, delights in wickedness, only fears lest she be condemned by her husband. She fears her husband: but because she yet loves wickedness, that is the reason why she fears her husband. To this woman, the presence of her husband is not grateful but burdensome; and if it chance she live wickedly, she fears her husband, lest he should come. Such are they that fear the coming of the day of judgment. Put the case that the other loves her husband, that she feels that she owes him chaste embraces, that she stains herself with no uncleanness of adultery; she wishes for the presence of her husband. And how are these two fears distinguished? The one woman fears, the other also fears. Question them: they seem to make one answer: question the one, Dost thou fear thine husband? she answers, I do. Question the other, whether she fears her husband; she answers, I do fear him. The voice is one, the mind diverse. Now then let them be questioned, Why? The one saith, I fear my husband, lest he should come: the other saith, I fear my husband, lest he depart from me. The one saith, I fear to be condemned: the other, I fear to be forsaken. Let the like have place in the mind of Christians, and thou findest a fear which love casteth out, and another fear, chaste, enduring for ever.

7. Let us speak then first to these who fear God, just in the manner of that woman who delights in wickedness; namely, she fears her husband test he condemn her; to such let us first speak. O soul, which fearest God lest He condemn thee, just as the woman fears, who delights in wickedness: fears her husband, lest she be condemned by her husband as thou art displeased at this woman, so be displeased at thyself. If perchance thou hast a wife, wouldest thou have thy wife fear thee thus, that she be not condemned by thee? that delighting in wickedness, she should be repressed only by the weight of the fear of thee, not by the condemnation of her iniquity? Thou wouldest have her chaste, that she may love thee, not that she may fear thee. Show thyself such to God, as thou wouldest have thy wife be to thee. And if thou hast not yet a wife, and wishest to have one, thou wouldest have her such. And yet what are we saying, brethren? That woman, whose fear of her husband is, to be condemned by her husband, perhaps does not commit adultery, lest by some means or other it come to her husband’s knowledge, and he deprive her of this temporal light of life: now the husband can be deceived and kept in ignorance; for he is but human, as she is who can deceive him. She fears him, from whose eyes she can be hid: and dost thou not fear the face ever upon thee of thine Husband? “The countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil.”1 She catches at her husband’s absence, and haply is incited by the delight of adultery; and yet she saith to herself, I will not do it: he indeed is absent, but it is hard to keep it from coming in some way to his knowledge. She restrains herself, lest it come to the knowledge of a mortal man, one who, it is also possible, may never know it, who, it is also possible, may be deceived, so that he shall esteem a bad woman to be good, esteem her to be chaste who is an adulteress: and dost thou not fear the eyes of Him whom no man can deceive? thou not fear the presence of Him who cannot be turned away from thee? Pray God to look upon thee, and to turn His face away from thy sins; “Turn away Thy face from my sins.”2 But whereby dost thou merit that He should turn away His face from thy sin, if thou turn not away thine own face from thy sins? For the same voice saith in the Psalm: “For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sins is ever before me.”3 Acknowledge thou, and He forgives.4

8. We have addressed that soul which hath as yet the fear which endureth not for ever, but which love shuts out and casts forth: let us address that also which hath now the fear which is chaste, enduring for ever. Shall we find that soul, think you, that we may address it? think you, is it here in this congregation? is it, think you, here in this chancel?5 think you, is it here on earth? It cannot but be, only it is hidden. Now is the winter: within is the greenness in the root. Haply we may get at the ears of that soul. But wherever that soul is, oh that I could find it, and instead of its giving ear to me, might myself give ear to it! It should teach me something, rather than learn of me! An holy soul, a soul of fire, and longing for the kingdom of God: that soul, not I address, but God Himself doth address, and thus consoleth while patiently it endures to live here on earth: “Thou wouldest that I should even now come, and I know that thou wishest I should even now come: I know what thou art, such that without fear thou mayest wait for mine advent; I know that is a trouble to thee: but do thou even longer wait, endure; I come, and come quickly.” But to the loving soul the time moves slowly. Hear her singing, like a lily as she is from amid the thorns; hear her sighing and saying, “I will sings, and will understand in a faultless6 way: when will thou come unto me?”7 But in a faultless way well may she not fear; because “perfect love casteth out fear.” And when He is come to her embrace, still she fears, but8 in the manner of one that feels secure. What does she fear? She will beware and take heed to herself against her own iniquity, that she sin not again: not test she be cast into the fire, but lest she be forsaken by Him. And there shall be in in her—what? the “chaste fear, enduring for ever.” We have heard the two flutes sounding in unison. That speaks of fear, and this speaks of fear: but that, of the fear with which the soul fears lest she be condemned; this, of the fear with which the soul fears lest she be forsaken.9 That is the fear which charity casteth out: this, the fear that endureth for ever.

9. “Let us love,10 because He first loved us.”11 For how should we love, except He had first loved us? By loving we became friends: but He loved us as enemies, that we might be made friends. He first loved us, and gave us the gift of loving Him. We did not yet love Him: by loving we are made beautiful. If a man deformed and ill-featured love a beautiful woman, what shall he do? Or what shall a woman do, if, being deformed and ill-featured and black-complexioned, she love a beautiful man? By loving can she become beautiful? Can he by loving become handsome? He loves a beautiful woman, and when he sees himself in a mirror, he is ashamed to lift up his face to her his lovely one of whom he is enamored. What shall he do that he may be beautiful? Does he wait for good looks to come? Nay rather, by waiting old age is added to him, and makes him uglier. There is nothing then to do, there is no way to advise him, but only that he should restrain himself, and not presume to love unequally: or if perchance he does love her, and wishes to take her to wife, in her let him love chastity, not the face of flesh. But our soul, my brethren, is unlovely by reason of iniquity: by loving God it becomes lovely. What a love must that be that makes the lover beautiful! But God is always lovely, never unlovely, never changeable. Who is always lovely first loved us; and what were we when He loved us but foul and unlovely? But not to leave us foul; no, but to change us, and of unlovely make us lovely. How shall we become lovely? By loving Him who is always lovely. As the love increases in thee, so the loveliness increases: for love is itself the beauty of the soul. “Let us love, because He first loved us.” Hear the apostle Paul: “But God showed His love in us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us:”1 the just for the unjust, the beautiful for the foul. How find we Jesus beautiful? “Thou art beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men; grace is poured upon thy lips.”2 Why so? Again see why it is that He is fair; “Beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men:” because “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”3 But in that He took flesh, He took upon Him, as it were, thy foulness, i.e. thy mortality, that He might adapt Himself to thee, and become suited to thee, and stir thee up to the love of the beauteousness within. Where then in Scripture do we find Jesus uncomely and deformed, as we have found Him comely and “beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men?” where find we Him also deformed? Ask Esaias: “And we saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness.”4 There now are two flutes which seem to make discordant sounds: howbeit one Spirit breathes into both. By this it is said, “Beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men:” by that it is said in Esaias, “We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness.” By one Spirit are both flutes filled, they make no dissonance. Turn not away thine ears, apply the understanding. Let us ask the apostle Paul, and let him expound to us the unison of the two flutes. Let him sound to us the note, “Beauteous in loveliness surpassing the sons of men.—Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”5 Let him sound to us also the note, “We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness.—He made Himself of no reputation, taking upon Him the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men, and in fashion found as man. He had no form nor comeliness,” that He might give thee form and comeliness. What form? what comeliness? The love which is in charity:6 that loving, thou mayest run;7 running, mayest love. Thou art fair now: but stay not thy regard upon thyself, lest thou lose what thou hast received; let thy regards terminate in Him by whom thou wast made fair. Be thou fair only to the end He may love thee. But do thou direct thy whole aim to Him, run thou to Him, seek His embraces, fear to depart from Him; that there may be in thee the chaste fear, which endureth for ever. “Let us love, because He first loved us.”

10. “If any man say, I love God.”8 What God?9 wherefore love we? “Because He first loved us,” and gave us to love. He loved us ungodly, to make us godly; loved us unrighteous, to make us righteous; loved us sick, to make us whole. Ask each several man; let him tell thee if he love God. He cries out, he confesses: I love, God knoweth. There is another question to be asked. “If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.” By what provest thou that he is a liar? Hear. “For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?” What then? does he that loves a brother, love God also? He must of necessity love God, must of necessity love Him that is Love itself. Can one love his brother, and not love Love? Of necessity he must love Love. What then? because he loves Love, does it follow that he loves God? Certainly it does follow. In loving Love, he loves God. Or hast thou forgotten what thou saidst a little while ago, “Love is God”?1 If “Love is God,” whoso loveth Love, loveth God. Love then thy brother, and feel thyself assured. Thou canst not say, “I love my brother, but I do not love God.” As thou liest, if thou sayest “I love God,” when thou lovest not thy brother, so thou art deceived when thou sayest, I love my brother, if thou think that thou lovest not God. Of necessity must thou who lovest thy brother, love Love itself: but “Love is God:” therefore of necessity must he love God, whoso loveth his brother. But if thou love not the brother whom thou seest, how canst thou love God whom thou seest not? Why does he not see God? Because he has not Love itself. That he does not see God, is, because he has not love: that he has not love, is, because he loves not his brother. The reason then why he does not see God, is, that he has not Love. For if he have Love, he sees God, for “Love is God:” and that eye is becoming more and more purged by love, to see that Unchangeable Substance, in the presence of which he shall always rejoice, which he shall enjoy to everlasting, when he is joined with the angels. Only, let him run now, that he may at last have gladness in his own country. Let him not love his pilgrimage, not love the way: let all be bitter save Him that calleth us, until we hold Him fast, and say what is said in the Psalm: “Thou hast destroyed all that go a-whoring from Thee”2—and who are they that go a-whoring? they that go away and love the world: but what shalt thou do? he goes on and says:—“but for me it is good to cleave to God.” All my good is, to cling unto God, freely. For if thou question him and say, For what dost thou cling to Him? and he should say, That He may give me—Give thee what? It is He that made the heaven, He that made the earth: what shall He give thee? Already thou are cleaving to Him: find something better, and He shall give it thee.

11. “For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.”3 Marvellous fine talk it was, that thou didst say, “I love God,” and hatest thy brother! O murderer, how lovest thou God? Hast thou not heard above in this very epistle, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer”?4 Yea, but I do verily love God, however I hate my brother. Thou dost verily not love God, if thou hate thy brother. And now I make it good by another proof. This same apostle hath said, “He gave us commandment that we should love one another.” How canst thou be said to love Him whose commandment thou hatest? Who shall say, I love the emperor, but I hate his laws? In this the emperor understands whether thou love him, that his laws be observed throughout the provinces. Our Emperor’s law, what is it? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”5 Thou sayest then, that thou lovest Christ: keep His commandment, and love thy brother. But if thou love not thy brother, how canst thou be said to love Him whose commandment thou despisest?—Brethren, I am never satiated in speaking of charity in the name of the Lord. In what proportion ye have an insatiable desire of this thing, in that proportion we hope the thing itself is growing in you, and casting out fear, that so there may remain that chaste fear which is for ever permanent. Let us endure the world, endure tribulations, endure the stumbling-blocks of temptations. Let us not depart from the way; let us hold the unity of the Church, hold Christ, hold charity. Let us not be plucked away from the members of His Spouse, not be plucked away from faith, that we may glory in His coming: and we shall securely abide in Him, now by faith, then by sight, of whom we have so great earnest, even the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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St Augustine’s Eighth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 4:12-16)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 4:12–16.

“If we love one another, God abideth1 in us, and His love will be perfected in us. In this know we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and are witnesses that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.”

1. Love is a sweet word, but sweeter the deed. To be always speaking of it, is not in our power: for we have many things to do, and divers businesses draw us different ways, so that our tongue has not leisure to be always speaking of love: as indeed our tongue could have nothing better to do. But though we may not always be speaking of it, we may always keep it. Just as it is with the Alleluia which we sing at this present time,2 are we always doing this? Not one hour, I do not say for the whole space of it, do we sing Alleluia, but barely during a few moments of one hour, and then give ourselves to something else. Now Alleluia, as ye already know, means, Praise ye the Lord. He that praises God with his tongue, cannot be always doing this: he that by his life and conduct praises God, can be doing it always. Works of mercy, affections of charity, sanctity of piety, incorruptness of chastity, modesty of sobriety, these things are always to be practiced: whether we are in public, or at home; whether before men, or in our chamber; whether speaking, or holding our peace; whether occupied upon something, or free from occupation: these are always to be kept, because all these virtues which I have named are within. But who is sufficient to name them all? There is as it were the army of an emperor seated within in thy mind. For as an emperor by his army does what he will, so the Lord Jesus Christ, once beginning to dwell in our inner man, (i.e. in the mind through faith), uses these virtues as His ministers. And by these virtues which cannot be seen with eyes, and yet when they are named are praised—and they would not be praised except they were loved, not loved except they were seen; and if not loved except seen, they are seen with another eye, that is, with the inward beholding of the heart—by these invisible virtues, the members are visibly put in motion: the feet to walk, but whither? whither they are moved by the good will which as a soldier serves the good emperor: the hands to work; but what? that which is bidden by charity which is inspired within by the Holy Ghost. The members then are seen when they are put in motion; He that orders them within is not seen: and who He is that orders them within is known almost alone to Him that orders, and to him who within is ordered.

2. For, brethren, ye heard just now when the Gospel was read, at least if ye had for it the ear not only of the body but also of the heart. What said it? “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them.”3 Did He mean to say this, that whatever good things we do, we should hide them from the eyes of men,4 and fear to be seen? If thou fearest spectators thou wilt not have imitators: thou oughtest therefore to be seen. But thou must not do it to the end thou mayest be seen. Not there should be the end of thy joy, not there the goal of thy rejoicing, that thou shouldest account thyself to have gotten the whole fruit of thy good work, when thou art seen and praised. This is nothing. Despise thyself when thou art praised, let Him be praised in thee who worketh by thee. Therefore do not for thine own praise work the good thou doest: but to the praise of Him from whom thou hast the power to do good. From thyself thou hast the ill doing, from God thou hast the well doing. On the other hand, see perverse men, how preposterous they are. What they do well, they will needs ascribe to themselves; if they do ill, they will needs accuse God. Reverse this distorted and preposterous proceeding, which puts the thing, as one may say, head downwards, which makes that undermost which is uppermost,1 and that upwards which is downwards. Dost thou want to make God undermost and thyself uppermost? Thou goest headlong, not elevatest thyself; for He is always above. What then? thou well, and God ill? nay rather, say this, if thou wouldest speak more truly, I ill, He well; and what I do well from Him is the well-doing: for from myself whatever I do is ill. This confession strengthens the heart, and makes a firm foundation of love. For if we ought to hide our good works lest they be seen of men, what becomes of that sentence of the Lord in the sermon which He delivered on the mount? Where He said this, there He also said a little before, “Let your good works shine before men.”2 And He did not stop there, did not there make an end, but added, “And glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” And what saith the apostle? “And I was unknown by face unto the Churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And in me they glorified God.”3 See how he also, in regard that he became so widely known did not set the good in his own praise, but in the praise of God. And as for him, in his own person, that he was one who laid waste the Church, a persecutor, envious, malignant, it is himself that confesses this, not we that reproach him therewith. Paul loves to have his sins spoken of by us, that He may be glorified who healed such a disease. For it was the hand of the Physician that cut end healed the greatness of the sore. That voice from heaven prostrated the persecutor, and raised up the preacher; killed Saul, and quickened Paul.4 For Saul was the persecutor of a holy man; thence had this man his name, when he persecuted the Christians:5 afterward of Saul he became Paul. What does the name Paulus mean? Little. Therefore when he was Saul, he was proud, lifted up; when he was Paul, he was lowly, little. Thus we say, I will see thee “paulo post,” i.e. after a little while.6 Hear that he was made little: “For I am the least of the apostles;7 and, To me the least of all saints,” he saith in another place. So was he among the apostles as the hem of the garment: but the Church of the Gentiles touched it, as did the woman which had the flux, and was made whole.8

3. Then, brethren, this I would say, this I do say, this if I might I would not leave unsaid: Let there be in you now these works, now those, according to the time, according to the hours, according to the days. Are you always to be speaking? always to keep silence? always to be refreshing the body? always to be fasting? always to be giving bread to the needy? always to be clothing the naked? always to be visiting the sick? always to be bringing into agreement them that disagree? always to be burying the dead? No: but now this, now that. These things are taken in hand, and they stop: but that which as emperor commands all the forces within neither hath beginning nor ought to stop. Let charity within have no intermission: let the offices of charity be exhibited according to the time. Let “brotherly love” then, as it is written, let “brotherly love continue.”9

4. But perchance it will have struck some of you all along, while we have been expounding to you this epistle of blessed John, why it is only “brotherly” love that he so emphatically commends. “He that loveth his brother,” saith he: and, “a commandment is given us that we love one another.”10 Again and again it is of brotherly love that he speaks: but the love of God, i.e. the love with which we ought to love God, he has not so constantly named; howbeit, he has not altogether left it unspoken. But concerning love of an enemy, almost throughout the epistle, he has said nothing. Although he vehemently preaches up and commends charity to us, he does not tell us to love our enemies, but tells us to love our brethren. But just now, when the Gospel was read, we heard, “For if ye love them that love you, what reward shall ye have? Do not even the publicans this? “11 How is it then that John the apostle, as the thing of great concern to us in order to a certain perfection, commends brotherly love; whereas the Lord saith it is not enough that we love our brethren, but that we ought to extend that love so that we may reach even to enemies? He that reaches even unto enemies does not overleap the brethren. It must needs, like fire, first seize upon what is nearest, and so extend to what is further off. A brother is nearer to thee than any chance person. Again, that person has more hold upon thee whom thou knowest not, who yet is not against thee, than an enemy who is also against thee. Extend thy love to them that are nearest, yet do not call this an extending: for it is almost loving thyself, to love them that are close to thee Extend it to the unknown, who have done thee no ill. Pass even them: reach on to love thine enemies. This at least the Lord commands. Why has the apostle here said nothing about loving an enemy.

5. All love,1 whether that which is called carnal, which is wont to be called not “dilectio” but “amor:” (for the word “dilectio” is wont to be used of better objects, and to be understood of better objects:) yet all love, dear brethren, hath in it a wishing well to those who are loved. For we ought not so to love, nor are we able so to love, (whether “diligere” or “amare:” for this latter word the Lord used when He said, “Petra, amas me?” “Peter, lovest thou me?”) we ought not so to love2 men, as we hear gluttons say, I love thrushes. Thou askest why he loves them? That he may kill, that he may consume. He says he loves, and to this end loves he them, that they may cease to be; to this end loves he them, that he may make away with them. And whatever we love in the way of food, to this end love we it, that it may be consumed and we recruited. Are men to be so loved as to be consumed? But there is a certain friendliness of well wishing, by which we desire at some time or other to do good to those whom we love. How if there be no good that we can do? The benevolence, the wishing well, of itself sufficeth him that loves. For we ought not to wish men to be wretched, that we may be enabled to practise works of mercy. Thou givest bread to the hungry: but better it were that none hungered, and thou hadst none to give to. Thou clothest the naked: oh that all were clothed, and this need existed not! Thou buriest the dead: oh that it were come at last, that life where none shall die! Thou reconcilest the quarrelling: oh that it were here at last, that eternal peace of Jerusalem, where none shall disagree! For all these are offices done to necessities. Take away the wretched; there will be an end to works of mercy. The works of mercy will be at an end: shall the ardor of charity be quenched? With a truer touch of love thou lovest the happy man, to whom there is no good office thou canst do; purer will that love be, and far more unalloyed. For if thou have done a kindness to the wretched, perchance thou desirest to lift up thyself over against him, and wishest him to be subject to thee, who hast done the kindness to him. He was in need, thou didst bestow; thou seemest to thyself greater because thou didst bestow, than he upon whom it was bestowed. Wish him thine equal, that ye both may be under the One Lord, on whom nothing can be bestowed.

6. For in this the proud soul has passed bounds, and, in a manner, become avaricious. For, “The root of all evils is avarice;”3 and again it is said, “The beginning of all sin is pride.”4 And we ask, it may be, how these two sentences agree: “The root of all evils is avarice;” and, “The beginning of all sin is pride.” If pride is the beginning of all sin, then is pride the root of all evils. Now certainly, “the root of all evils is avarice.” We find that in pride there is also avarice, (or grasping;) for man has passed bounds: and what is it to be avaricious? to go beyond that which sufficeth. Adam fell by pride: “the beginning of all sin is pride,” saith it: did he fall by grasping? What more grasping, than he whom God could not suffice? In fact, my brethren, we read how man was made after the image and likeness of God: and what said God of him? “And let him have power over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over all cattle which move upon the earth.”5 Said He, Have power over men? “Have power,” saith He: He hath given him natural power: “have power” over what? “over the fishes of the sea, the fowl of the heaven, and all moving things which move upon the earth.” Why is this power over these things a natural power? Because man hath the power from this; that he was made after the image of God. And in what was he made after God’s image? In the intellect, in the mind, in the inner man; in that he understands truth, distinguishes between right and wrong, knows by whom he was made, is able to understand his Creator, to praise his Creator: he hath this intelligence, who hath prudence. Therefore when many by evil lusts wore out in themselves the image of God, and by perversity of their manners extinguished the very flame, so to say, of intelligence, the Scripture cried aloud to them, “Become not ye as the horse and mule which have no understanding.”1 That is to say, I have set thee above the horse and mule; thee, I made after mine image, I have given thee power over these. Why? Because they have not the rational mind: but thou by the rational mind art capable of truth, understandest what is above thee: be subject to Him that is above thee, and beneath thee shall those things be over which thou was set. But because by sin man deserted Him whom he ought to be under, he is made subject to the things which he ought to be above.

7. Mark what I say: God, man, beasts: to wit, above thee, God; beneath thee, the beasts. Acknowledge Him that is above thee, that those that are beneath thee may acknowledge thee.2 Thus, because Daniel acknowledged God above him, the lions acknowledged him above them. But if thou acknowledge not Him that is above thee, thou despisest thy superior, thou becomest subject to thine inferior. Accordingly, how was the pride of the Egyptians quelled? By the means of frogs and flies.3 God might have sent lions: but a great man may be scared by a lion. The prouder they were, the more by the means of things contemptible and feeble was their wicked neck broken. But Daniel, lions acknowledge, because he was subject to God. What? the martyrs who were cast to the wild beasts to fight with them, and were torn by the teeth of savage creatures, were they not under God? or were those three men servants of God, and the Maccabees not servants of God? The fire acknowledged as God’s servants the three men, whom it burned not, neither hurt their garments;4 and did it not acknowledge the Maccabees?5 It acknowledged the Maccabees; it did, my brethren, acknowledge them also. But there was need of a scourge, by the Lord’s permission: He hath said in Scripture, “He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”6 For think ye, my brethren, the iron would have pierced into the vitals7 of the Lord unless He had permitted it, or that He would have hung fastened to the tree, unless it had been His will? Did not His own creature acknowledge Him? Or did He set an ensample of patience to His faithful ones? Ye see then, God delivered some visibly, some He delivered not visibly: yet all He spiritually delivered, spiritually deserted none. Visibly He seemed to have deserted some, some He seemed to have rescued. Therefore rescued He some, that thou mayest not think that He had not power to rescue. He has given proof that He has the power, to the end that where he doth it not, thou mayest understand a more secret will, not surmise difficulty of doing. But what, brethren? When we shall have come out of all these snares of mortality, when the times of temptation shall have passed away, when the river of this world shall have fleeted by, and we shall have received again that “first robe,”8 that immortality which by sinning we have lost, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption,” that is, this flesh shall have put on incorruption, “and this mortal shall have put on immortality;”9 the now perfected sons of God, in whom is no more need to be tempted, neither to be scourged, shall all creatures acknowledge: subjected to us shall all things be, if we here be subjected to God.

8. So then ought the Christian to be, that he glory not over other “men.” For God hath given it thee to be over the beasts, i.e. to be better than the beasts. This hast thou by nature; thou shall always be better than a beast. If thou wish to be better than another man, thou wilt begrudge him when thou shalt see him to be thine equal. Thou oughtest to wish all men to be thine equals; and if by wisdom thou surpass any, thou oughtest to wish that he also may be wise. As long as he is slow, he learns from thee; as long as he is untaught, he hath need of thee; and thou art seen to be the teacher, he the learner; therefore thou seemest to be the superior, because thou art the teacher; he the inferior, because the learner. Except thou wish him thine equal, thou wishest to have him always a learner. But if thou wish to have him always a learner, thou wilt be an envious teacher. If an envious teacher, how wilt thou be a teacher? I pray thee, do not teach him thine enviousness. Hear the apostle speaking of the bowels of charity: “I would that all were even as I.”10 In what sense did he wish all to be his equals? In this was he superior to all, that by charity he wished all to be his equals. I say then, man has past bounds; he would needs be greedy of more than his due, would be above men, he that was made above the beasts: and this is pride.

9. And see what great works pride does. Lay it up in your hearts, how much alike, how much as it were upon a par, are the works it doeth, and the works of charity. Charity feeds the hungry, and so does pride: charity, that God may be praised; pride, that itself may be praised. Charity clothes the naked, so does pride: charity fasts, so does pride: charity buries the dead, so does pride. All good works which charity wishes to do, and does; pride, on the other hand, drives at the same, and, so to say, keeps her horses up to the mark. But charity is between her and it, and leaves not place for ill-driven pride; not ill-driving, but ill-driven. Woe to the man whose charioteer is pride, for he must needs go headlong! But that, in the good that is done, it may not be pride that sets us on, who knows? who sees it? where is it? the works we see: mercy feeds, pride also feeds; mercy takes in the stranger, pride also takes in the stranger; mercy intercedes for the poor, pride also intercedes. How is this? In the works we see no difference. I dare to say somewhat, but not I; Paul hath said it: charity dies, that is, a man having charity confesses the name of Christ, suffers martyrdom: pride also confesses, suffers also martyrdom. The one hath charity, the other hath not charity. But let him that hath not charity hear from the apostle: “If I distribute all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.1 So then the divine Scripture calls us off from the display of the face outwardly to that which is within; from this surface which is vaunted before men, it calls us off to that which is within. Return to thy own conscience, question it. Do not consider what blossoms outwardly, but what root there is in the ground. Is lust rooted there? A show there may be of good deeds, truly good works there cannot be. Is charity rooted there? Have no fear: nothing evil can come of that. The proud caresses, love2 is severe. The one clothes, the other smites. For the one clothes in order to please men, the other smites in order to correct by discipline. More accepted is the blow of charity than the alms of pride. Come then within, brethren; and in all things, whatsoever ye do, look unto God your witness. See, if He seeth, with what mind ye do it. If your heart accuse you not that ye do it for the sake of display, it is well: fear ye not. But when ye do good, fear not lest another see you. Fear thou lest thou do it to the end that thou mayest be praised: let the other see it, that God may be praised. For if thou hidest it from the eyes of man, thou hidest it from the imitation of man, thou withdrawest from God His praise. Two are there to whom thou doest the alms: two hunger; one for bread, the other for righteousness. Between these two famishing souls:—as it is written, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled:”3—between these two famishing persons thou the doer of the good work art set; if charity does the work by occasion of the one, therein it hath pity on both, it would succor both. For the one craves what he may eat, the other craves what he may imitate. Thou feedest the one, give thyself as a pattern to the other; so hast thou given alms to both: the one thou hast caused to thank thee for killing his hunger, the other thou hast made to imitate thee by setting him an example.

10. Shew mercy then, as men of merciful hearts; because in loving enemies also, ye love brethren. Think not that John has given no precept concerning love of our enemy, because he has not ceased to speak of brotherly love. Ye love brethren. “How,” sayest thou, “do we love brethren?” I ask wherefore thou lovest an enemy. Wherefore dost thou love him? That he may be whole in this life? what if it be not expedient for him? That he may be rich? what if by his very riches he shall be blinded? That he may marry a wife? what if he shall have a bitter life of it? That he may have children? what if they shall be bad? Uncertain therefore are these things which thou seemest to wish for thine enemy, in that thou lovest him; they are uncertain. Wish for him that he may have with thee eternal life; wish for him that he may be thy brother: when thou lovest him, thou lovest a brother. For thou lovest in him not what he is, but what thou wishest that he may be. I once said to you, my beloved, if I mistake not: There is a log of timber lying in sight; a good workman has seen the log, not yet planed, just as it was hewn from the forest, he has taken a liking to it, he would make something out of it. For indeed he did not love it to this end that it should always remain thus. In his art he has seen what it shall be, not in his liking what it is; and his liking is for the thing he will make of it, not for the thing it is. So God loved us sinners. We say that God loved sinners: for He saith, “They that are whole need not the Physician, but they that are sick.”1 Did He love us sinners to the end we should still remain sinners? As timber from the wood our Carpenter saw us, and had in His thoughts the building He would make thereof, not the unwrought timber that it was. So too thou seest thine enemy striving against thee, raging, biting with words, exasperating with contumelies, harassing with hatred: thou hast regard to this in him, that he is a man. Thou seest all these things that are against thee, that they were done by man; and thou seest in him that he was made by God. Now that he was made man, was God’s doing: but that he hates thee, is his doing; that he has ill-will at thee, is his doing. And what sayest thou in thy mind? Lord, be merciful to him, forgive him his sins, strike terror into him, change him. Thou lovest not in him what he is, but what thou wishest him to be. Consequently, when thou lovest an enemy, thou lovest a brother. Wherefore, perfect love is the loving an enemy: which perfect love is in brotherly love. And let no man say that John the apostle has admonished us somewhat less, and the Lord Christ somewhat more. John has admonished us to love the brethren; Christ has admonished us to love even enemies. Mark to what end Christ hath bidden thee to love thine enemies. That they may remain always enemies? If He bade it for this end, that they should remain enemies, thou hatest,2 not lovest. Mark how He Himself loved, i.e. because He would not that they should be still the persecutors they were, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”3 Whom He willed to be forgiven, them He willed to be changed: whom He willed to be changed, of enemies He deigned to make brethren, and did in truth make them so. He was killed, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven: sent the Holy Ghost to His disciples: they began with boldness to preach His name, they did miracles in the name of Him that was crucified and slain: those slayers of the Lord saw them; and they who in rage had shed His blood, by believing drank it.

11. These things have I said, brethren, and somewhat at length: yet because charity was to be more earnestly commended to you, beloved, in this way was it to be commended. For if there be no charity in you, we have said nothing. But if it be in you, we have as it were cast oil upon the flames. And in whom it was not, perchance by words it hath been kindled. In one, that which was there hath grown; in another, that hath begun to be, which was not. To this end therefore have we said these things, that ye be not slow to love your enemies. Does any man rage against thee? he rages, pray thou; he hates, pity thou. It is the fever of his soul that hates thee: he will be whole, and will thank thee. How do physicians love them that are sick? Is it the sick that they love? If they love them as sick, they wish them to be always sick. To this end love they the sick; not that they should still be sick, but that from being sick they should be made whole. And how much have they very often to suffer from the frenzied! What contumelious language! Very often they are even struck by them. He attacks the fever, forgives the man. And what shall I say, brethren? does he love his enemy? Nay, he hates his enemy, the disease; for it is this that he hates, and loves the man by whom he is struck: he hates the fever. For by whom or by what is he struck? by the disease, by the sickness, by the fever. He takes away that which strives against him, that there may remain that from which he shall have thanks. So do thou. If thine enemy hate thee, and unjustly hate thee; know that the lust of the world reigns in him, therefore he hates thee. If thou also hate him, thou on the other hand renderest evil for evil. What does it, to render evil for evil? I wept for one sick man who hated thee; now bewail I thee, if thou also hatest. But he attacks thy property; he takes from thee I know not what things which thou hast on earth: therefore hatest thou him, because he puts thee to straits on earth. Be not thou straitened, remove thee to heaven above; there shalt thou have thine heart where there is wide room, so that thou mayest not be straitened in the hope of life eternal. Consider what the things are that he takes from thee: not even them would he take from thee, but by permission of Him who “scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”4 He, this same enemy of thine, is in a manner the instrument5 in the hands of God, by which thou mayest be healed. If God knows it to be good for thee that he should despoil thee, He permits him; if He knows it to be good for thee that thou shouldest receive blows, He permits him to smite thee: by the means of Him He careth for thee: wish thou that he may be made whole.

12. “No man hath seen God at any time.” See, beloved: “If we love one another, God will dwell in us, and His love will be perfected in us.”1 Begin to love; thou shalt be perfected. Hast thou begun to love? God has begun to dwell in thee: love Him that has begun to dwell in thee, that by more perfect indwelling He may make thee perfect. “In this we know that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.”2 It is well: thanks be to God! We come to know that He dwelleth in us. And whence come we to know this very thing, to wit, that we do know that He dwelleth in us? Because John himself has said this: “Because He hath given us of His Spirit.” Whence know we that He hath given us of His Spirit? This very thing, that He hath given thee of His Spirit, whence comest thou to know it? Ask thine own bowels: if they are full of charity, thou hast the Spirit of God. Whence know we that by this thou knowest that the Spirit of God dwelleth in thee? “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”3

13. “And we have seen, and are witnesses, that God hath sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.”4 Set your minds at rest, ye that are sick: such a Physician is come, and do ye despair? Great were the diseases, incurable were the wounds, desperate was the sickness. Dost thou note the greatness of thine ill, and not note the omnipotence of the Physician? Thou art desperate, but He is omnipotent; Whose witnesses are these that first were healed, and that announce the Physician: yet even they are made whole in hope rather than in the reality. For so saith the apostle: “For by hope we are saved.”5 We have begun therefore to be made whole in faith: but our wholeness shall be perfected “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.”6 This is hope, not the reality. But he that rejoiceth in hope shall hold the reality also: whereas he that hath not the hope, shall not be able to attain unto the reality.

14. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.”7 Now we may say it in not many words; “Whosoever shall confess;” not in word but in deed, not with tongue but with the life. For many confess in words, but in deeds deny. “And we have known and believed the love which God hath in us.”8 And again, by what hast thou come to know this? “Love is God.” He hath already said it above, behold he saith it again. Love could not be more exceedingly commended to thee than that it should be called God. Haply thou wast ready to despise a gift of God. And dost thou despise God? “Love is God: and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him.” Each mutually inhabiteth the other; He that holdeth, and he that is holden. Thou dwellest in God, but that thou mayest be holden: God inhabiteth thee, but that He may hold thee, lest thou fall. Lest haply thou imagine that thou becomest an house of God in such sort as thine house supports thy flesh: if the house in which thou art withdraw itself from under thee, thou fallest; but if thou withdraw thyself, God falleth not. When thou forsakest Him, He is none the less; when thou hast returned unto Him, He is none the greater.9 Thou art healed, on Him thou wilt bestow nothing; thou art made clean, thou art new-made, thou art set right: He is a medicine to the unhealthy, is a rule for the crooked, is light for the bedarkened, is an habitation for the deserted. All therefore is conferred on thee: see thou imagine not that ought is conferred upon God by thy coming unto Him: no, not so much as a slave. Shall God, forsooth, not have servants if thou like not, if all like not? God needs not the servants, but the servants need God: therefore saith the Psalm, “I have said unto the Lord, thou art my God.”10 He is the true Lord. And what saith it? “For of my goods Thou hast no need.” Thou needest the good thou hast by thy servant. Thy servant needeth the good he hath by thee, that thou mayest feed him; thou also needest the good thou hast by thy servant, that he may help thee. Thou canst not draw water for thyself, canst not cook for thyself, canst not run before thy horse, canst not tend thy beast. Thou seest that thou needest the good thou hast by thy servant, thou needest his attendance. Therefore thou art not a true lord, while thou hast need of an inferior. He is the true Lord, who seeks nothing from us; and woe to us if we seek not Him! He seeks nothing from us: yet He sought us, when we sought not Him. One sheep had strayed; He found it, He brought it back on His shoulders rejoicing.1 And was the sheep necessary for the Shepherd, and not rather the Shepherd necessary for the sheep?—The more I love to speak of charity, the less willing am I that this epistle should be finished. None is more ardent in the commending of charity. Nothing more sweet is preached to you, nothing more wholesome drunk by you: but only thus if by godly living ye confirm in you the gift of God. Be not ungrateful for His so great grace, who, though He had one Only Son, would not that He should be alone a Son; but, that He might have brethren, adopted unto Him those who should with Him possess life eternal.

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St Augustine’s Seventh Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 4:4-12)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 4:4–12.

“Now are ye of God, little children, and have overcome him: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in this world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. From this know we the spirit of truth, and [the spirit] of error. Dearly, beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God in us, that God sent His only-begotten Son into this world, that we may live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the Atoner3 for our sins. Dearly beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time.”

1. So is this world to all the faithful seeking their own country, as was the desert to the people Israel. They wandered indeed as yet, and were seeking their own country: but with God for their guide they could not wander astray. Their way was God’s bidding.4 For where they went about during forty years, the journey itself is made up of a very few stations, and is known to all. They were retarded because they were in training, not because they were forsaken. That therefore which God promiseth us is ineffable sweetness and a good,5 as the Scripture saith, and as ye have often heard by us rehearsed, which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man.”6 But by temporal labors we are exercised, and by temptations of this present life are trained. Howbeit, if ye would not die of thirst in this wilderness, drink charity. It is the fountain which God has been pleased to place here that we faint not in the way: and we shall more abundantly drink thereof, when we are come to our own land. The Gospel has just been read; now to speak of the very words with which the lesson ended, what other thing heard ye but concerning charity? For we have made an agreement with our God in prayer, that if we would that He should forgive us our sins, we also should forgive the sins which may have been committed against us.7 Now that which forgiveth is none other than charity. Take away charity from the heart; hatred possesseth it, it knows not how to forgive. Let charity be there, and she fearlessly forgiveth, not being straitened. And this whole epistle which we have undertaken to expound to you, see whether it commendeth aught else than this one thing, charity. Nor need we fear lest by much speaking thereof it come to be hateful. For what is there to love, if charity come to be hateful? It is by charity that other things come to be rightly loved; then how must itself be loved! Let not that then which ought never to depart from the heart, depart from the tongue.

2. “Now,” saith he, “are ye of God little children, and have overcome him:”1 whom but Antichrist? For above he had said, “Whosoever unmaketh2 Jesus Christ and denieth that He is come in the flesh is not of God.” Now we expounded, if ye remember, that all those who violate charity deny Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh. For Jesus had no need to come but because of charity: as indeed the charity we are commending is that which the Lord Himself commendeth in the Gospel, “Greater love than this can no man have, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”3 How was it possible for the Son of God to lay down his life for us without putting on flesh in which He might die? Whosoever therefore violates charity, let him say what he will with his tongue, his life denies that Christ is come in the flesh; and this is an antichrist, wherever he may be, whithersoever he have come in. But what saith the apostle to them who are citizens of that country for which we sigh? “Ye have overcome him.” And whereby have they overcome? “Because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in this world.” Lest they should attribute the victory to their own strength, and by arrogance of pride should be overcome, (for whomsoever the devil makes proud, he overcomes,) wishing them to keep humility, what saith he? “Ye have overcome him.” Every man now, at hearing this saying, “Ye have overcome,” lifts up the head, lifts up the neck, wishes himself to be praised. Do not extol thyself; see who it is that in thee hath overcome. Why hast thou overcome? “Because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Be humble, bear thy Lord; be thou the beast for Him to sit on. Good is it for thee that He should rule, and He guide. For if thou have not Him to sit on thee, thou mayest lift up the neck, mayest strike out the heels: but woe to thee without a ruler, for this liberty sendeth thee among the wild beasts to be devoured!

3. “These are of the world.”4 Who? The antichrists. Ye have already heard who they be. And if ye be not such, ye know them, but whosoever is such, knows not. “These are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” Who are they that “speak of the world”? Mark who are against charity. Behold, ye have heard the Lord saying, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your trespasses. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”5 It is the sentence of Truth: or if it be not Truth that speaks, gainsay it. If thou art a Christian and believest Christ, He hath said, “I am the truth.” This sentence is true, is firm. Now hear men that “speak of the world.” “And wilt thou not avenge thyself? And wilt thou let him say that he has done this to thee? Nay: let him feel that he has to do with a man.” Every day are such things said. They that say such things, “of the world speak they, and the world heareth them.” None say such things but those that love the world, and by none are such things heard but by those who love the world. And ye have heard that to love the world and neglect charity is to deny that Jesus came in the flesh. Or say if the Lord Himself in the flesh did that? if, being buffeted, He willed to be avenged? if, hanging on the cross, He did not say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?6 But if He threatened not, who had power; why dost thou threaten, why art thou inflated with anger, who art under power of another? He died because it was His will to die, yet He threatened not; thou knowest not when thou shalt die, and dost thou threaten?

4. “We are of God.”7 Let us see why; see whether it be for any other thing than charity. “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and of error:” namely by this, that he that heareth us hath the spirit of truth; he that heareth not us, hath the spirit of error. Let us see what he adviseth, and let us choose rather to hear him advising in the spirit of truth, and not antichrists, not lovers of the world, not the world. If we are born of God, “beloved,”8 he goes on—see above from what: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and of error:” aye, now, he makes us eagerly attentive: to be told that he who knows God, hears; but he who knows not, hears not; and that this is the discerning between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: well then, let us see what he is about to advise; in what we must hear him—“Beloved, let us love one another.”9 Why? because a man adviseth? “Because love is of God.” Much hath he commended love, in that he hath said, “Is of God:” but he is going to say more; let us eagerly hear. At present he hath said, “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God.”1 Why? “For God is love” [Love is God].2 What more could be said, brethren? If nothing were said in praise of love throughout the pages of this epistle, if nothing whatever throughout the other pages of the Scriptures, and this one only thing were all we were told by the voice of the Spirit of God, “For Love is God;” nothing more ought we to require.

5. Now see that to act against love is to act against God. Let no man say, “I sin against man when I do not love my brother, (mark it!) and sin against man is a thing to be taken easily; only let me not sin against God. How sinnest thou not against God, when thou sinnest against love? “Love is God.” Do “we” say this? If we said, “Love is God,” haply some one of you might be offended and say, What hath he said? What meant he to say, that “Love is God”? God “gave” love, as a gift God bestowed love. “Love is of God: Love IS God.” Look, here have ye, brethren, the Scriptures of God: this epistle is canonical; throughout all nations it is recited, it is held by the authority of the whole earth, it hath edified the whole earth. Thou art here told by the Spirit of God, “Love is God.” Now if thou dare, go against God, and refuse to love thy brother!

6. In what sense then was it said a while ago, “Love is of God;” and now, “Love Is God?” For God is Father and Son and Holy Ghost: the Son, God of God, the Holy Ghost, God of God; and these three, one God, not three Gods. If the Son be God, and the Holy Ghost God, and that person loveth in whom dwelleth the Holy Ghost: therefore “Love is God;” but “IS God,” because “Of God.” For thou hast both in the epistle; both, “Love is of God,” and, “Love is God.” Of the Father alone the Scripture hath it not to say, that He is “of God:” but when thou hearest that expression, “Of God,” either the Son is meant, or the Holy Ghost. Because while the apostle saith, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us:”3 let us understand that He who subsisteth in love is the Holy Ghost. For it is even this Holy Spirit, whom the bad cannot receive, even He is that Fountain of which the Scripture saith, “Let the fountain of thy water be thine own, and let no stranger partake with thee.”4 For all who love not God, are strangers, are antichrists. And though they come to the churches, they cannot be numbered among the children of God; not to them belongeth that Fountain of life. To have baptism is possible even for a bad man; to have prophecy is possible even for a bad man. We find that king Saul had prophecy: he was persecuting holy David, yet was he filled with the spirit of prophecy, and began to prophesy.5 To receive the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord is possible even for a bad man: for of such it is said, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.”6 To have the name of Christ is possible even for a bad man; i.e. even a bad man can be called a Christian: as they of whom it is said, “They polluted the name of their God.”7 I say, to have all these sacraments is possible even for a bad man; but to have charity, and to be a bad man, is not possible. This then is the peculiar gift, this the “Fountain” that is singly one’s “own.” To drink of this the Spirit of God exhorteth you, to drink of Himself the Spirit of God exhorteth you.

7. “In this was manifested the love of God in us.”8 Behold, in order that we may love God, we have exhortation. Could we love Him, unless He first loved us? If we were slow to love, let us not be slow to love in return. He first loved us; not even so do we love. He loved the unrighteous, but He did away the unrighteousness: He loved the unrighteous, but not unto unrighteousness did He gather them together: He loved the sick, but He visited them to make them whole. “Love,” then, “is God.” “In this was manifested the love of God in us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we may live through Him.” As the Lord Himself saith: “Greater love than this can no man have, that a man lay down his life for his friends:”9 and there was proved the love of Christ towards us, in that He died for us: how is the love of the Father towards us proved? In that He “sent His only Son” to die for us: so also the apostle Paul saith: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not with Him also freely given us all things?”1 Behold the Father delivered up Christ; Judas delivered Him up; does it not seem as if the thing done were of the same sort? Judas is “traditor,” one that delivered up, [or, a traitor]: is God the Father that? God forbid! sayest thou. I do not say it, but the apostle saith, “He that spared not His own Son, but “tradidit Eum” delivered Him up for us all.” Both the Father delivered Him up, and He delivered up Himself. The same apostle saith: “Who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”2 If the Father delivered up the Son, and the Son delivered up Himself, what has Judas done? There was a “traditio” (delivering up) by the Father; there was a “traditio” by the Son; there was a “traditio” by Judas: the thing done is the same,but what is it that distinguishes the Father delivering up the Son, the Son delivering up Himself, and Judas the disciple delivering up his Master? This: that the Father and the Son did it in love, but Judas did this3 in treacherous betrayal. Ye see that not what the man does is the thing to be considered; but with what mind and will he does it. We find God the Father in the same deed in which we find Judas; the Father we bless, Judas we detest. Why do we bless the Father, and detest Judas? We bless charity, detest iniquity. How great a good was conferred upon mankind by the delivering up of Christ! Had Judas this in his thoughts, that therefore he delivered Him up? God had in His thoughts our salvation by which we were redeemed; Judas had in his thoughts the price for which he sold the Lord. The Son Himself had in His thoughts the price He gave for us, Judas in his the price he received to sell Him. The diverse intention therefore makes the things done diverse. Though the thing be one, yet if we measure it by the diverse intentions, we find the one a thing to be loved, the other to be condemned; the one we find a thing to be glorified, the other to be detested. Such is the force of charity. See that it alone discriminates, it alone distinguishes the doings of men.

8. This we have said in the case where the things done are similar. In the case where they are diverse, we find a man by charity made fierce;4 and by iniquity made winningly gentle. A father beats a boy, and a boy-stealer caresses. If thou name the two things, blows and caresses, who would not choose the caresses, and decline the blows? If thou mark the persons, it is charity that beats, iniquity that caresses. See what we are insisting upon; that the deeds of men are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet proceed not from the root of charity. For thorns also have flowers: some actions truly seem rough, seem savage; howbeit they are done for discipline at the bidding of charity. Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.

9. “In this is love—in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God senthis only-begotten Son into this world, that we may live through Him.—In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us:”5 we did not love Him first: for to this end loved He us, that we may love Him: “And sent His Son to be the Atoner for our sins: “litatorem,” i.e. one that sacrifices. He sacrificed for our sins. Where did He find the sacrifice? Where did He find the victim which he would offer pure? Other He found none; His own self He offered. “Beloved, if God so loved us we ought also to love one another.6 Peter,” saith He, “lovest thou me?” And he said, “I love.” “Feed my sheep.”

10. “No man hath seen God at any time:”7 He is a thing invisible; not with the eye but with the heart must He be sought. But just as if we wished to see the sun, we should purge the eye of the body; wishing to see God, let us purge the eye by which God can be seen. Where is this eye? Hear the Gospel: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”8 But let no man imagine God to himself according to the lust of his eyes. For so he makes unto himself either a huge form, or a certain incalculable magnitude which, like the light which he sees with the bodily eyes, he makes extend through all directions; field after field of space he gives it all the bigness he can; or, he represents to himself like as it were an old man of venerable form. None of these things do thou imagine. There is something thou mayest imagine, if thou wouldest see God; “God is love.” What sort of face hath love? what form hath it? what stature? what feet? what hands hath it? no man can say. And yet it hath feet, for these carry men to church: it hath hands; for these reach forth to the poor: it hath eyes; for thereby we consider the needy: “Blessed is the man,” it is said, “who considereth the needy and the poor.”1 It hath ears, of which the Lord saith, “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.”2 These are not members distinct by place, but with the understanding he that hath charity sees the whole at once. Inhabit, and thou shalt be inhabited; dwell, and thou shalt be dwelt in. For how say you, my brethren? who loves what he does not see? Now why, when charity is praised, do ye lift up your hands, make acclaim, praise? What have I shown you? What I produced, was it a gleam of colors? What I propounded, was it gold and silver? Have I dug out jewels from hid treasures? What of this sort have I shown to your eyes? Is my face changed while I speak? I am in the flesh; I am in the same form in which I came forth to you; ye are in the same form in which ye came hither: charity is praised, and ye shout applause. Certainly ye see nothing. But as it pleases you when ye praise, so let it please you that ye may keep it in your heart. For mark well what I say brethren; I exhort you all, as God enables me, unto a great treasure. If there were shown you a beautiful little vase, embossed,3 inlaid with gold, curiously wrought, and it charmed your eyes, and drew towards it the eager desire of your heart, and you were pleased with the hand of the artificer, and the weight of the silver, and the splendor of the metal; would not each one of you say, “O, if I had that vase!” And to no purpose ye would say it, for it would not rest with you to have it. Or if one should wish to have it, he might think of stealing it from another’s house. Charity is praised to you; if it please you, have it, possess it: no need that ye should rob any man, no need that ye should think of buying it; it is to be had freely, without cost. Take it, clasp it; there is nothing sweeter. If such it be when it is but spoken of, what must it be when one has it?

11. If any of you perchance wish to keep charity, brethren, above all things do not imagine it to be an abject and sluggish thing; nor that charity is to be preserved by a sort of gentleness, nay not gentleness, but tameness and listlessness.4 Not so is it preserved. Do not imagine that thou then lovest thy servant when thou dost not beat him, or that thou then lovest thy son when thou givest him not discipline, or that thou then lovest thy neighbor when thou dost not rebuke him: this is not charity, but mere feebleness. Let charity be fervent to correct, to amend: but if there be good manners, let them delight thee; if bad, let them be amended, let them be corrected. Love not in the man his error, but the man: for the man God made, the error the man himself made. Love that which God made, love not that which the man himself made. When thou lovest that, thou takest away this: when thou esteemest that, thou amendest this. But even if thou be severe5 at any time, let it be because of love, for correction. For this cause was charity betokened by the Dove which descended upon the Lord.6 That likeness of a dove, the likeness in which came the Holy Ghost, by whom charity should be shed forth into us: wherefore was this? The dove hath no gall: yet with beak and wings she fights for her young; hers is a fierceness without bitterness. And so does also a father; when he chastises his son, for discipline he chastises him. As I said, the kidnapper, in order that he may sell, inveigles the child with bitter endearments; a father, that he may correct, does without gall chastise. Such be ye to all men. See here, brethren, a great lesson, a great rule: each one of you has children, or wishes to have; or if he has altogether determined to have no children after the flesh, at least spiritually he desires to have children:—what father does not correct his son? what son does not his father discipline? And yet he seems to be fierce7 with him. It is the fierceness of love, the fierceness of charity: a sort of fierceness without gall after the manner of the dove, not of the raven. Whence it came into my mind, my brethren, to tell you, that those violaters of charity are they that have made the schism: as they hate charity itself, so they hate also the dove. But the dove convicts them: it comes forth from heaven, the heavens open, and it abideth on the head of the Lord. Wherefore this? That John may hear, “This is He that baptizeth.”8 Away, ye robbers; away, ye invaders of the possession of Christ! On your own possessions, where ye will needs be lords, ye have dared to fix the titles of the great Owner. He recognizes His own titles; He vindicates to Himself His own possession. He does not cancel the titles, but enters in and takes possession. So in one that comes to the Catholic Church, his baptism is not cancelled, that the title of the commander9 be not cancelled: but what is done in the Catholic Church? The title is acknowledged; the Owner enters in under His own titles, where the robber was entering in under titles not his own.

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St Augustine Sixth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 3:19-4:3)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 3:19–4:3.

“And herein we know that we are of the truth, and assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart think ill of us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart think not ill of us, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do in His sight those things that please Him. And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. And he that keepeth His commandments shall dwell in Him, and He in him. And herein we know that He abideth in us, by the Holy Spirit which He hath given us. Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into this world. In this is known the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the antichrist, of whom ye have heard that he should come; and even now already is he in this world.”

1. If ye remember, brethren, yesterday we closed our sermon at this sentence,1 which without doubt behooved and does behoove to abide in your heart, seeing it was the last ye heard. “My little children, let us not love only in word and in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Then he goes on: “And herein we know that we are of the truth, and assure our hearts before Him.”2 “For if our heart3 think ill of us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” He had said, “Let us not love only in word and in tongue, but in work and in truth:” we are asked, In what work, or in what truth, is he known that loveth God, or loveth his brother? Above he had said up to what point charity is perfected: what the Lord saith in the Gospel, “Greater love than this hath no man, that one lay down his life for his friends,”4 this same had the apostle also said: “As He laid down His life for us, we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.”5 This is the perfection of charity, and greater can not at all be found. But because it is not perfect in all, and that man ought not to despair in whom it is not perfect, if that be already born which may be perfected: and of course if born, it must be nourished, and by certain nourishments of its own must be brought unto its proper perfection: therefore, we have asked concerning the commencement of charity, where it begins, and there have straightway found: “But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of the Father in him?”6 Here then hath this charity, my brethren, its beginning: to give of one’s superfluities to him that hath need to him that is in any distress; of one’s temporal abundance to deliver his brother from temporal tribulation. Here is the first rise of charity. This, being thus begun, if thou shalt nourish with the word of God and hope of the life to come, thou wilt come at last unto that perfection, that thou shalt be ready to lay down thy life for thy brethren.

2. But, because many such things are done by men who seek other objects, and who love not the brethren; let us come back to the testimony of conscience. How do we prove that many such things are done by men who love not the brethren? How many in heresies and schisms call themselves martyrs! They seem to themselves to lay down their lives for their brethren. If for the brethren they laid down their lives, they would not separate themselves from the whole brotherhood. Again, how many there are who for the sake of vainglory bestow much, give much, and seek therein but the praise of men and popular glory, which is full of windiness, and possesses no stability! Seeing, then, there are such, where shall be the proof of brotherly charity? Seeing he wished it to be proved, and hath said by way of admonition, “My little children, let us not love only in word and in tongue; but in deed and in truth;” we ask, in what work, in what truth? Can there be a more manifest work than to give to the poor? Many do this of vainglory, not of love. Can there be a greater work than to die for the brethren? This also, many would fain be thought to do, who do it of vainglory to get a name, not from bowels of love. It remains, that that man loves his brother, who before God, where God alone seeth, assures his own heart, and questions his. heart whether he does this indeed for love of the brethren; and his witness is that eye which penetrates the heart, where man cannot look. Therefore Paul the Apostle, because he was ready to die for the brethren, and said, “I will myself be spent for your souls,”1 yet, because God only saw this in his heart, not the mortal men to whom he spake, he saith to them, “But to me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or at man’s bar.”2 And the same apostle shows also in a certain place, that these things are oft done of empty vainglory, not upon the solid ground of love: for speaking of the praises of charity he saith, “If I distribute all my goods to the poor. and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”3 Is it possible for a man to do this without charity? It is. For they that have divided unity, are persons that have not charity. Seek there, and ye shall see many giving much to the poor; shall see others prepared to welcome death, insomuch that where there is no persecutor they cast themselves headlong: these doubtless without charity do this. Let us come back then to conscience, of which the apostle saith: “For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience.”4 Let us come back to conscience, of which the same saith, “But let each prove his own work, and then he shall have glorying in himself and not in another.”5 Therefore, let each one of us “prove his own work,” whether it flow forth from the vein of charity, whether it be from charity as the root that his good works sprout forth as branches. “But let each prove his own work, and then he shall have glorying in himself and not in another,” not when another’s tongue bears witness to him, but when his own conscience bears it.

3. This it is then that he enforces here. “In this we know that we are of the truth, when in deed and in truth” we love, “not only in words and in tongue: and6 assure our heart before Him.”7 What meaneth, “before Him?” Where He seeth. Whence the Lord Himself in the Gospel saith: “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven.”8 And what meaneth, “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:” except that the right hand means a pure conscience, the left hand the lust of the world?9 Many through lust of the world do many wonderful things: the left hand worketh, not the right. The right hand ought to work, and without knowledge of the left hand, so that lust of the world may not even mix itself therewith when by love we work aught that is good. And where do we get to know this? Thou art before God: question thine heart, see what thou hast done, and what therein was thine aim; thy salvation, or the windy praise of men. Look within, for man cannot judge whom he cannot see. If “we assure our heart,” let it be “before Him.” Because “if our heart think ill of us,” i.e. accuse us within, that we do not the thing with that mind it ought to be done withal, “greater is God than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Thou hidest thine heart from man: hide it from God if thou canst! How shalt thou hide it from Him, to whom it is said by a sinner, fearing and confessing, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? and from Thy face whither shall I flee?”10 He sought a way to flee, to escape the judgment of God, and found none. For where is God not? “If I shall ascend,” saith he, “into heaven, Thou art there: if I shall descend into hell, Thou art there.” Whither wilt thou go? whither wilt thou flee? Wilt thou hear counsel? If thou wouldest flee from Him, flee to Him. Flee to Him by confessing, not from Him by hiding: hide thou canst not, but confess thou canst. Say unto Him, “Thou art my place to flee unto;”1 and let love be nourished in thee, which alone leadeth unto life. Let thy conscience bear thee witness that thy love is of God. If it be of God, do not wish to display it before men; because neither men’s praises lift thee unto heaven, nor their censures put thee down from thence. Let Him see, who crowneth thee: be He thy witness, by whom as judge thou art crowned. “Greater is God than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

4. “Beloved, if our heart think not ill of us, we have confidence towards God:”2—What meaneth, “If our heart think not ill”? If it make true answer to us, that we love and that there is3 genuine love in us: not feigned but sincere; seeking a brother’s salvation, expecting no emolument from a brother, but only his salvation—“we have confidence toward God: and whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because we keep His commandments.”4—Therefore, not in the sight of men, but where God Himself seeth, in the heart—“we have confidence,” then, “towards God: and whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him:” howbeit, because we keep His commandments. What are “His commandments”? Must we be always repeating? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”5 It is charity itself that he speaks of, it is this that he enforces. Whoso then shall have brotherly charity, and have it before God, where God seeth, and his heart being interrogated under righteous examination make him none other answer than that the genuine root of charity is there for good fruits to come from; that man hath confidence with God, and whatsoever he shall ask, he shall receive of Him, because he keepeth His commandments.

5. Here a question meets us: for it is not this or that man, or thou or I that come in question,—for if I have asked any thing of God and receive it not, any person may easily say of me, “He hath not charity:” and of any man soever of this present time, this may easily be said; and let any think what he will, a man of man:—not we, but those come more in question, those men of whom it is on all hands known that they were saints when they wrote, and that they are now with God. Where is the man that hath charity, if Paul had it not, who said, “Our mouth is open unto you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged; ye are not straitened in us:”6 who said, “I will myself be spent for your souls:” and so great grace was in him, that it was manifested that he had charity. And yet we find that he asked and did not receive. What say we, brethren? It is a question: look attentively to God: it is a great question, this also. Just as, where it was said of sin, “He that is born of God sinneth not:” we found this sin to be the violating of charity, and that this was the thing strictly intended in that place: so too we ask now what it is that he would say. For if thou look but to the words, it seems plain: if thou take the examples into the account, it is obscure. Than the words here nothing can be plainer. “And whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” “Whatsoever we ask,” saith he, “we shall receive of Him.” He hath put us sorely to straits. In the other place also he would put us to straits, if he meant all sin: but then we found room to expound it in this, that he meant it of a certain sin, not of all sin; howbeit o[ a sin which “whosoever is born of God committeth not:” and we found that this same sin is none other than the violation of charity. We have also a manifest example from the Gospel, when the Lord saith, “If I had not come, they had not had sin.”7 How? Were the Jews innocent when He came to them, because He so speaks? Then if He had not come, would they have had no sin? Then did the Physician’s presence make one sick, not take away the fever? What madman even would say this? He came not but to cure and heal the sick. Therefore when He said, “If I had not come, they had not had sin,” what would He have to be understood, but a certain sin in particular? For there was a sin which the Jews would not have had. What sin? That they believed not on Him, that when he had come they despised Him. As then He there said “sin,” and it does not follow that we are to understand all sin, but a certain sin: so here also not all sin, lest it be contrary to that place where he saith, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us:”8 but a certain sin in particular, that is, the violation of charity. But in this place he hath bound us more tightly: “If we shall ask,” he hath said, “if our heart accuse us not, and tell us in answer, in the sight of God, that true love is in us;” “Whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him.”

6. Well now: I have already told you, my beloved brethren, let no man turn toward us. For what are we? or what are ye? What, but the Church of God which is known to all? And, if it please Him, in that Church are we; and those of us who by love abide in it, there let us persevere, if we would show the love we have. But then the apostle Paul, what evil are we to think of him? He not love the brethren! He not have within himself the testimony of his conscience in the sight of God! Paul not have within him that root of charity whence all good fruits proceeded! What madman would say this? Well then: where find we that the apostle asked and did not receive? He saith himself: “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me. For which thing I besought the Lord thrice, that He would take it from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is made perfect in weakness.”1 Lo, he was not heard in his prayer that the “angel of Satan” should be taken from him. But wherefore? Because it was not good for him. He was heard, then, for salvation, when he was not heard according to his wish. Know, my beloved, a great2 mystery: which we urge upon your consideration on purpose that it may not slip from you in your temptations. The saints are in all things heard unto salvation: they are always heard in that which respects their eternal salvation; it is this that they desire: because in regard of this, their prayers are always heard.

7. But let us distinguish God’s different ways of hearing prayer. For we find some not heard for their wish, heard for salvation: and again some we find heard for their wish, not heard for salvation. Mark this difference, hold fast this example of a man not heard for his wish but heard for salvation. Hear the apostle Paul; for what is the hearing of prayer unto salvation, God Himself showed him: “Sufficient for thee,” saith He, “is my grace; for strength is perfected in weakness.” Thou hast besought, hast cried, hast thrice cried: the very cry thou didst raise once for all I heard, I turned not away mine ears from thee; I know what I should do: thou wouldest have it taken away, the healing thing by which thou art burned; I know the infirmity by which thou art burdened. Well then: here is a man who was heard for salvation, while as to his will he was not heard. Where find we persons heard for their will, not heard for salvation? Do we find, think we, some wicked, some impious man, heard of God for his will, not heard for salvation? If I put to you the instance of some man, perchance thou wilt say to me, “It is thou that callest him wicked, for he was righteous; had he not been righteous, his prayer would not have been heard by God.” The instance I am about to allege is of one, of whose iniquity and impiety none can doubt. The devil himself: he asked for Job, and received.3 Have ye not here also heard concerning the devil, that “he that committeth sin is of the devil”?4 Not that the devil created, but that the sinner imitates. Is it not said of him, “He stood not in the truth”?5 Is not even he “that old serpent,” who, through the woman pledged the first man in the drink of poison?6 Who even in the case of Job, kept for him his wife, that by her the husband might be, not comforted, but tempted? The devil asked for a holy man, to tempt him; and he received: the apostle asked that the thorn in the flesh might be taken from him, and he received not. But the apostle was more heard than the devil. For the apostle was heard for salvation, though not for his wish: the devil was heard for his wish, but for damnation. For that Job was yielded up to him to be tempted, was in order that by his standing the proof the devil should be tormented. But this, my brethren, we find not only in the Old Testament books, but also in the Gospel. The demons besought the Lord, when He expelled them from the man, that they might be permitted to go into the swine. Should the Lord not have power to tell them not to approach even those creatures? For, had it not been His will to permit this, they were not about to rebel against the King of heaven and earth. But with a view to a certain mystery, with a certain7 ulterior meaning, He let the demons go into the swine: to show that the devil hath dominion in them that lead the life of swine.8 Demons then were heard in their request; was the apostle not heard? Or rather (what is truer) shall we say, The apostle was heard, the demons not heard? Their will was effected; his weal was perfected.

8. Agreeably with this, we ought to understand that God, though He give not to our will, doth give for our salvation. For suppose the thing thou have asked be to thine hurt, and the Physician knows that it is to thine hurt; what then? It is not to be said that the physician does not give ear to thee, when, perhaps, thou askest for cold water, and if it is good for thee, he gives it immediately, if not good, he gives it not. Had he no ears for thy request, or rather, did he give ear for thy weal, even when he gainsaid thy will? Then let there be in you charity, my brethren; let it be in you, and then set your minds at rest: even when the thing ye ask for is not given you, your prayer is granted, only, ye know it not. Many have been given into their own hands, to their own hurt: of whom the apostle saith, “God gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts.”1 Some man hath asked for a great sum of money; he hath received, to his hurt. When he had it not, he had little to fear; no sooner did he come to have it, than he became a prey to the more powerful. Was not that man’s request granted to his own hurt, who would needs have that for which he should be sought after by the robber, whereas, being poor, none sought after him? Learn to beseech God that ye may commit it to the Physician to do what He knows best. Do thou confess the disease, let Him apply the means of healing. Do thou only hold fast charity. For He will needs cut, will needs burn; what if thou criest out, and art not spared for thy crying under the cutting, under the burning and the tribulation, yet He knows how far the rottenness reaches.2 Thou wouldest have Him even now take off His hands, and He considers only the deepness of the sore; He knows how far to go. He does not attend to thee for thy will, but he does attend to thee for thy healing. Be ye sure, then, my brethren, that what the apostle saith is true: “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered: for He maketh intercession for the saints.”3 How is it said, “The Spirit itself intercedeth for the saints,” but as meaning the charity which is wrought in thee by the Spirit? For therefore saith the same apostle: “The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”4 It is charity that groans, it is charity that prays: against it He who gave it cannot shut His ears. Set your minds at rest: let charity; ask, and the ears of God are there. Not that which thou wishest is done, but that is done which is advantageous. Therefore, “whatever we ask,” saith he, “we shall receive of Him,” I have already said, If thou understand it to mean, “for salvation,” there is no question: if not for salvation, there is a question, and a great one, a question that makes thee an accuser of the apostle Paul. “Whatever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do these things that are pleasing in His sight:” within, where He seeth.

9. And what are those commandments? “This,” saith he, “is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another.”5 Ye see that this is the commandment: ye see that whoso doeth aught against this commandment, doeth the sin from which “every one that is born of God” is free. “As He gave us commandment:” that we love one another. “And he that keepeth His commandment”6—ye see that none other thing is bidden us than that we love one another—“And he that keepeth His commandment shall abide7 in Him, and He in him. “And in this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us. Is it not manifest that this is what the Holy Ghost works in man, that there should be in him love and charity? Is it not manifest, as the Apostle Paul saith, that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given us”?8 For [our apostle] was speaking of charity, and was saying that we ought in the sight of God to interrogate our own heart. “But if our heart think not ill of us:” i.e. if it confess that from the love of our brother is done in us whatever is done in any good work. And then besides, in speaking of the commandment, he says this: “This is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” “And he that doeth His commandment abideth9 in Him, and He in him. In this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.”10 If in truth thou find that thou hast charity, thou hast the Spirit of God in order to understand: for a very necessary thing it is.

10. In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.”11 These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away. In the laying on of hands now, that persons may receive the Holy Ghost, do we look that they should speak with tongues? Or when we laid the hand on these infants,1 did each one of you look to see whether they would speak with tongues, and, when he saw that they did not speak with tongues, was any of you so wrong-minded as to say, These have not received the Holy Ghost; for, had they received, they would speak with tongues as was the case in those times? If then the witness of the presence of the Holy Ghost be not now given through these miracles, by what is it given, by what does one get to know that he has received the Holy Ghost? Let him question his own heart. If he love his brother, the Spirit of God dwelleth in him. Let him see, let him prove himself before the eyes of God, let him see whether there he in him the love of peace and unity, the love of the Church that is spread over the whole earth. Let him not rest only in his loving the brother whom he has before his eyes, for we have many brethren whom we do not see, and in the unity of the Spirit we are joined to them. What marvel that they are not with us? We are in one body, we have one Head, in heaven. Brethren, our two eyes do not see each other; as one may say, they do not know each other. But in the charity of the bodily frame do they not know each other? For, to shew you that in the charity which knits them together they do know each other; when both eyes are open, the right may not rest on some object, on which the left shall not rest likewise. Direct the glance of the right eye without the other, if thou canst. Together they meet in one object, together they are directed to one object: their aim is one, their places diverse. If then all who with thee love God have one aim with thee, heed not that in the body thou are separated in place; the eyesight of the heart ye have alike fixed on the light of truth. Then if thou wouldest know that thou hast received the Spirit, question thine heart: lest haply thou have the sacrament, and have not the virtue of the sacrament. Question thine heart. If love of thy brethren be there, set thy mind at rest. There cannot be love without the Spirit of God: since Paul cries, “The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”2

11. “Beloved, believe not every spirit.”3 Because he had said, “In this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” But how this same Spirit is known, mark this: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they be from God.” And who is he that proves the spirits? A hard matter has he put to us, my brethren! It is well for us that he should tell us himself how we are to discern them. He is about to tell us: fear not: but first see; mark: see that hereby is expressed the very thing that vain heretics4 taunt us withal. Mark, see what he says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they be from God.” The Holy Spirit is spoken of in the Gospel by the name of water; where the Lord “cried and said, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”5 But the evangelist has expounded of what He said this: for he goes on to say, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him should receive.” Wherefore did not the Lord baptize many. But what saith he? “For the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Then seeing those had baptism, and had not yet received the Holy Ghost, whom on the day of Pentecost the Lord sent from heaven, the glorifying of the Lord was first waited for, so that the Spirit might be given. Even before He was glorified, and before He sent the Spirit, He yet invited men to prepare themselves for the receiving of the water of which He said, “Whoso thirsteth, let him come and drink;” and, “He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” What meaneth, “Rivers of living water”? What is that water? Let no man ask me; ask the Gospel. “But this,” saith it, “He said of the Spirit, which they should receive that should believe on Him.” Consequently, the water of the sacrament is one thing: another, the water which betokens the Spirit of God. The water of the sacrament is visible: the water of the Spirit invisible. That washes the body, and betokens that which is done in the soul. By this Spirit the soul itself is cleansed and fed. This is the Spirit of God, which heretics and all that cut themselves off from the Church, cannot have. And whosoever do not openly cut themselves off, but by iniquity are cut off, and being within, whirl about as chaff and are not grain; these have not this Spirit. This Spirit is denoted by the Lord under the name of water: and we have heard from this epistle, “Believe not every spirit;” and those words of Solomon bear witness, “From strange water keep thee far.”1 What meaneth, “water”? Spirit. Does water always signify spirit? Not always: but in some places it signifies the Spirit, in some places it signifies baptism, in some places signifies peoples,2 in some places signifies counsel: thus thou findest it said in a certain place, “Counsel is a fountain of life to them that possess it.”3 So then, in divers places of the Scriptures, the term “water” signifies divers things. Now however by the term water ye have heard the Holy Spirit spoken of, not by an interpretation of ours but by witness of the Gospel, where it saith, “But this said He of the Spirit, which they should receive that should believe on Him.” If then by the name of water is signified the Holy Spirit, and this epistle saith to us, “Believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they be of God;” let us understand that of this it is said, “From strange water keep thee far, and from a strange fountain drink thou not.”4 What meaneth, “From a strange fountain drink thou not”? A strange spirit believe thou not.

12. There remains then the test by which it is to be proved to be the Spirit of God. He has indeed set down a sign, and this, belike, difficult: let us see, however. We are to recur to that charity; it is that which teacheth us, because it is the unction. However, what saith he here? “Prove the spirits, whether they be from God: because many false prophets have gone out into this world.” Now there are all heretics and all schismatics. How then am I to prove the spirit? He goes on: “In this is known5 the Spirit of God.” Wake up the ears of your heart. We were at a loss; we were saying, Who knows? who discerns? Behold, he is about to tell the sign. “Hereby is known the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the antichrist, of whom ye have heard that he should come; and even now already is he in this world.”6 Our ears, so to say, are on the alert for discerning of the spirits; and we have been told something, such that thereby we discern not a whit the more. For what saith he? “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, is of God.” Then is the spirit that is among the heretics, of God, seeing they “confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh”? Aye, here perchance they lift themselves up against us, and say: Ye have not the Spirit from God; but we confess “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh:” but the apostle here hath said that those have not the Spirit of God, who confess not “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.” Ask the Arians: they confess “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh:” ask the Eunomians; they confess “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh:” ask the Macedonians; they confess “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh:” put the question to the Cataphryges; they confess “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh:” put it to the Novatians; they confess “that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.” Then have all these heresies the Spirit of God? Are they then no false prophets? Is there then no deception there, no seduction there? Assuredly they are antichrists; for “they went out from us, but were not of us.”

13. What are we to do then? By what to discern them? Be very attentive; let us go together in heart, and knock. Charity herself keeps watch; for it is none other than she that shall knock, she also that shall open: anon ye shall understand in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Already ye have heard that it was said above, “Whoso denieth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, the same is an antichrist.” There also we asked, Who denies? because neither do we deny, nor do those deny. And we found that some do in their deeds deny;7 and we brought testimony from the apostle, who saith, “For they confess that they know God, but in their deeds deny Him.”8 Thus then let us now also make the enquiry in the deeds not in the tongue. What is the spirit that is not from God? That “which denieth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” And what is the spirit that is from God? That “which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” Who is he that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? Now, brethren, to the mark! let us look to the works, not stop at the noise of the tongue. Let us ask why Christ came in the flesh, so we get at the persons who deny that He is come in the flesh. If thou stop at tongues, why, thou shalt hear many a heresy confessing that Christ is come in the flesh: but the truth convicteth those men. Wherefore came Christ in the flesh? Was He not God? Is it not written of Him, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God?”9 Was it not He that did feed angels, is it not He that doth feed angels? Did He not in such sort come hither, that He departed not thence? Did He not in such sort ascend, that He forsook not us? Wherefore then came He in the flesh? Because it behooved us to have the hope of resurrection shown unto us. God He was, and in flesh He came; for God could not die, flesh could die; He came then in the flesh, that He might die for us. But how died He for us? “Greater charity than this hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”1 Charity therefore brought Him to the flesh. Whoever therefore has not charity denies that Christ is come in the flesh. Here then do thou now question all heretics. Did Christ come in the flesh? “He did come; this I believe, this I confess.” Nay, this thou deniest. “How do I deny? Thou hearest that I say it!” Nay, I convict thee of denying it. Thou sayest with the voice, deniest with the heart; sayest in words, deniest in deeds. “How,” sayest thou, “do I deny in deeds?” Because the end for which Christ came in the flesh, was, that He might die for us. He died for us, because therein He taught much charity. “Greater charity than this hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Thou hast not charity, seeing thou for thine own honor dividest unity. Therefore by this understand ye the spirit that is from God. Give the earthen vessels a tap, put them to the proof, whether haply they be cracked and give a dull sound: see whether they ring full and clear, see whether charity be there. Thou takest thyself away from the unity of the whole earth, thou dividest the Church by schisms, thou rendest the Body of Christ. He came in the flesh, to gather in one, thou makest an outcry to scatter abroad. This then is the Spirit, of God, which saith that Jesus is come in the flesh, which saith, not in tongue but in deeds, which saith, not by making a noise but by loving. And that spirit is not of God, which denies that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; denies, here also, not in tongue but in life; not in words but in deeds. It is manifest therefore by what we may know the brethren. Many within are in a sort within; but none without except he be indeed without.

14. Nay, and that ye may know that he has referred the matter to deeds, he saith, “And every spirit, qui solvit Christum, which does away with Christ that He came in the flesh,2 is not of God.” A doing away in deeds is meant. What has he shown thee? “That denieth:” in that he saith, “doeth away” (or, “unmaketh”). He came to gather in one, thou comest to unmake. Thou wouldest pull Christ’s members asunder. How can it be said that thou deniest not that Christ is come in the flesh, who rendest as under the Church of God which He hath gathered together? Therefore thou goest against Christ; thou art an antichrist. Be thou within, or be thou without, thou art an antichrist: only, when thou art within, thou art hidden; when thou art without, thou art made manifest. Thou unmakest Jesus and deniest that He came in the flesh; thou art not of God. Therefore He saith in the Gospel: “Whoso shall break3 one of these least commandments, and shall teach so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”4 What is this breaking? What this teaching? A breaking in the deeds and a teaching as it were in words.5 “Thou that preachest men should not steal, dost thou steal?”6 Therefore he that steals breaks or undoes the commandment in his deed, and as it were teaches so: “he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” i.e. in the Church of this present time.1 Of him it is said, “What they say do ye; but what they do, that do not ye.2 But he that shall do, and shall teach so, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” From this, that He has here said, fecerit, “shall do,” while in opposition to this He has there said solverit, meaning non fecerit, “shall not do, and shall teach so”—to break, then, is, not to do—what doth He teach us, but that we should interrogate men’s deeds, not take their words upon trust? The obscurity of the things compels us to speak much at length, chiefly that that which the Lord deigns to reveal may be brought within reach even of the brethren of slower understanding, because all were bought by the blood of Christ. And I am afraid the epistle itself will not be finished during these days as I promised: but as the Lord will, it is better to reserve the remainder, than to overload your hearts with too much food.

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St Augustine’s Fifth Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 3:9-18)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 3:9–18.

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever is not righteous is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate us. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. In this we know love, that He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him? My little children, let us not love only in word and in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

1. Hear intently, I do beseech you, because it is no small matter that we have to cope withal: and I doubt not, because ye were intent upon it yesterday, that ye have with even greater intentness of purpose come together to-day. For it is no slight question, how he saith in this Epistle, “Whosoever is born of God, sinneth not,”2 and how in the same Epistle he hath said above, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”3 What shall the man do, who is pressed by both sayings out of the same Epistle? If he shall confess himself a sinner, he fears lest it be said to him, Then art thou not born of God; because it is written, “Whosoever is born of God, sinneth not.” But if he shall say that he is just and that he hath no sin, he receives on the other side a blow from the same Epistle, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Placed then as he is in the midst, what he can say and what confess, or what profess, he cannot find. To profess himself to be without sin, is full of peril; and not only full of peril, but also full of error: “We deceive ourselves,” saith he, “and the truth is not in us, if we say that we have no sin.” But oh that thou hadst none, and saidst this! for then wouldest thou say truly, and in uttering the truth wouldest have not so much as a vestige of wrong to be afraid of. But, that thou doest ill if thou say so, is because it is a lie that thou sayest. “The truth,” saith he, “is not in us, if we say that we have no sin.” He saith not, “Have not had;” lest haply it should seem to be spoken of the past life. For the man here hath had sins: but from the time that he was born of God, he has begun not to have sins. If it were so, there would be no question to embarrass us. For we should say, We have been sinners, but now we are justified: we have had sin, but now we have none. He saith not this: but what saith he? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” And then after a while he says on the other hand, “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not.” Was John himself not born of God? If John was not born of God, John, of whom ye have heard that he lay in the Lord’s bosom; does any man dare engage for himself that in him has taken place that regeneration which it was not granted to that man to have, to whom it was granted to lie in the bosom of the Lord? The man whom the Lord loved more than the rest,1 him alone had He not begotten of the Spirit?

2. Mark now these words. As yet, I am urging it upon you, what straits we are put to, that by putting your minds on the stretch, that is, by your praying for us and for yourselves, God may make enlargement, and give us an outlet: lest some man find in His word an occasion of his own perdition, that word which was preached and put in writing only for healing and salvation. “Every man,” saith he, “that doeth sin, doeth also iniquity.” Lest haply thou make a distinction, “Sin is iniquity.” Lest thou say, A sinner I am, but not a doer of iniquity, “Sin is iniquity. And ye know that to this end was He manifested, that He should take away sin; and there is no sin in Him.” And what doth it profit us, that He came without sin? “Every one that sinneth not, abideth in Him: and every one that sinneth, hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man seduce you. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” This we have already said, that the word “as” is wont to be used of a certain resemblance, not of equality. “He that doeth sin is of the devil, because the devil sinneth from the beginning.” This too we have already said, that the devil created no man, nor begat any, but his imitators are, as it were, born of him. “To this end was the Son of God manifested, that He should undo2 the works of the devil.” Consequently, to undo (or loose) sins, He that hath no sin. And then follows: “Every one that is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God:”3 he has drawn the cord tight!—Belike, it is in regard of some one sin that he hath said, “Doth not sin,” not in regard of all sin: that in this that he saith, “Whoso is born of God, doth not sin,” thou mayest understand some one particular sin, which that man who is born of God cannot commit:4 and such is that sin that, if one commit it, it confirms the rest. What is this sin? To do contrary to the commandment. What is the commandment? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”5 Mark well! This commandment of Christ is called, “love.” By this love sins are loosed. If this love be not kept, the not holding it is at once a grievous sin, and the root of all sins.

3. Mark well, brethren; we have brought forward somewhat in which, to them that have good understanding, the question is solved. But do we only walk in the way with them that run more swiftly? Those that walk more slowly must not be left behind. Let us turn the matter every way, in such words as we can, in order that it may be brought within reach of all. For I suppose, brethren, that every man is concerned for his own soul, who does not come to Church without cause, who does not seek temporal things in the Church, who does not come here to transact secular business; but comes here in order that he may lay hold upon some eternal thing, promised unto him, whereunto he may attain: he must needs consider how he shall walk in the way, lest he be left behind, lest he go back, lest he go astray, lest by halting he do not attain. Whoever therefore is in earnest, let him be slow, let him be swift, yet let him not leave the way. This then I have said, that in saying, “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not,” it is probable he meant it of some particular sin: for else it will be contrary to that place: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In this way then the question may be solved. There is a certain sin, which he that is born of God cannot commit; a sin, which not being committed, other sins are loosed, and being committed, other sins are confirmed. What is this sin? To do contrary to the commandment of Christ, contrary to the New Testament.1 What is the new commandment? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”2 Whoso doeth contrary to charity and contrary to brotherly love, let him not dare to glory and say that he is born of God: but whoso is in brotherly love, there are certain sins which he cannot commit, and this above all, that he should hate his brother. And how fares it with him concerning his other sins, of which it is said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us?” Let him hear that which shall set his mind at rest from another place of Scripture; “Charity covereth a multitude of sins.”3

4. Charity therefore we commend; charity this Epistle commendeth. The Lord, after His resurrection, what question put He to Peter, but, “Lovest thou me?”4 And it was not enough to ask it once; a second time also He put none other question, a third time also none other. Although when it came to the third time, Peter, as one who knew not what was the drift of this, was grieved because it seemed as if the Lord did not believe him; nevertheless both a first time and a second, and a third He put this question. Thrice fear denied, thrice love confessed. Behold Peter loveth the Lord. What is he to do for the Lord? For think not that he in the Psalm did not feel himself at a loss what to do: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all the benefits He hath done unto me?”5 He that said this in the Psalm, marked what great things had been done for him by God; and sought what he should render to God, and could find nothing. For whatever thou wouldest render, from Him didst thou receive it to render. And what did he find to offer in return? That which, as we said, my brethren, he had received from Him, that only found he to offer in return. “I will receive the cup of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” For who had given him the cup of salvation, but He to whom he wished to offer in return? Now to receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord, is to be filled with charity; and so filled, that not only thou shalt not hate thy brother, but shalt be prepared to die for thy brother. This is perfect charity, that thou be prepared to die for thy brother. This the Lord exhibited in Himself, who died for all, praying for them by whom He was crucified, and saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”6 But if He alone hath done this, He was not a Master, if He had no disciples. Disciples who came after Him have done this.7 Men were stoning Stephen, and he knelt down and said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”8 He loved them that were killing him; since for them also he was dying. Hear also the Apostle Paul: “And I myself,” saith he, “will be spent for your souls.”9 For he was among those for whom Stephen, when by their hands he was dying, besought forgiveness. This then is perfect charity. If any man shall have so great charity that he is prepared even to die for his brethren, in that man is perfect charity. But as soon as it is born, is it already quite perfect? That it may be made perfect, it is born; when born, it is nourished; when nourished, it is strengthened; when strengthened, it is perfected; when it has come to perfection, what saith it? “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I wished to be dissolved, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is needful for you.”10 For their sakes he was willing to live, for whose sakes he was prepared to die.

5. And that ye may know that it is this perfect charity which that man violates not, and against which that man sins not, who is born of God; this is what the Lord saith to Peter; “Peter lovest thou me?” And he answers, “I love.” He saith not, If thou love me, shew kindness to me. For when the Lord was in mortal flesh, He hungered, He thirsted: at that time when He hungered and thirsted, He was taken in as a guest; those who had the means, ministered unto Him of their substance, as we read in the Gospel. Zacchæus entertained Him as his guest: he was saved from his disease by entertaining the Physician. From what disease? The disease of avarice. For he was very rich, and the chief of the publicans. Mark the man made whole from the disease of avarice: “The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man, I will restore him fourfold.”1 That he kept the other half, was not to enjoy it, but to pay his debts. Well, he at that time entertained the Physician as his guest, because there was infirmity of the flesh in the Lord, to which men might show this kindness; and this, because it was His will to grant this very thing to them that did Him kind service; for the benefit was to them that did the service, not to Him. For, could He to whom angels ministered require these men’s kindness? Not even His servant Elias, to whom He sent bread and flesh by the ravens upon a certain occasion,2 had need of this; and yet that a religious widow might be blessed, the servant of God is sent, and he whom God in secret did feed, is fed by the widow. But still, although by the means of these servants of God, those who consider their need get good to themselves, in respect of that reward most manifestly set forth by the Lord in the Gospel: “He that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward: and he that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward: and whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, He shall in no wise lose his reward:”3 although, then, they that do this, do it to their own good: yet neither could this kind office be done to Him when about to ascend4 into Heaven. What could Peter, who loved Him, render unto Him? Hear what. “Feed my sheep:” i.e. do for the brethren, that which I have done for thee. I redeemed all with my blood: hesitate not to die for confession of the truth, that the rest may imitate you.

6. But this, as we have said, brethren, is perfect charity. He that is born of God hath it. Mark, my beloved, see what I say. Behold, a man has received the Sacrament of that birth, being baptized; he hath the Sacrament, and a great Sacrament, divine, holy, ineffable. Consider what a Sacrament! To make him a new man by remission of all sins! Nevertheless, let him look well to the heart, whether that be thoroughly done there, which is done in the body; let him see whether he have charity, and then say, I am born of God. If however he have it not, he has indeed the soldier’s mark upon him, but he roams as a deserter. Let him have charity; otherwise let him not say that he is born of God. But he says, I have the Sacrament. Hear the Apostle: “If I know all mysteries,5 and have all faith, so that I can remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”6

7. This, if ye remember, we gave you to understand in beginning to read this Epistle, that nothing in it is so commended as charity. Even if it seems to speak of various other things, to this it makes its way back, and whatever it says, it will needs bring all to bear upon charity. Let us see whether it does so here. Mark: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” We ask, what sin? because if thou understand all sin, it will be contrary to that place, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Then let him say what sin; let him teach us; lest haply I may have rashly said that the sin here is the violation of charity, because he said above, “He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.”7 But perhaps he has said something in what comes afterwards, and has mentioned charity by name? See that this circuit of words hath this end, hath this issue. “Whosoever is born of God, sinneth not, because His seed remaineth in him.”8 The “seed” of God, i.e. the word of God: whence the apostle saith, “I have begotten you through the Gospel. And he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”9 Let him tell us this, let us see in what we cannot sin. “In this are manifested the children of God and the children of the devil. Whosoever is not righteous is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”10 Aye, now indeed it is manifest of what he speaks: “Neither he that loveth not his brother.” Therefore, love alone puts the difference between the children of God and the children of the devil. Let them all sign themselves with the sign of the cross of Christ; let them all respond, Amen; let all sing Alleluia; let all be baptized, let all come to church, let all build the walls of churches: there is no discerning of the children of God from the children of the devil, but only by charity. They that have charity are born of God: they that have it not, are not born of God. A mighty token, a mighty distinction! Have what thou wilt; if this alone thou have not, it profiteth thee nothing: other things if thou have not, have this, and thou hast fulfilled the law. “For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law,” saith the apostle: and, “Charity is the fulfilling of the law.”11 I take this to be the pearl which the merchant man in the Gospel is described to have been seeking, who “found one pearl, and sold all that he had, and bought it.”1 This is the pearl of price, Charity, without which whatever thou mayest have, profiteth thee nothing: which if alone thou have, it sufficeth thee. Now, with faith thou seest, then with actual beholding2 thou shalt see. For if we love when we see not, how shall we embrace it when we see! But wherein must we exercise ourselves? In brotherly love. Thou mayest say to me, I have not seen God: canst thou say to me, I have not seen man? Love thy brother. For if thou love thy brother whom thou seest, at the same time thou shalt see God also; because thou shalt see Charity itself, and within dwelleth God.

8. “Whosoever is not righteous is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”3 “For this is the message:” mark how he confirms it: “For this is the message which we heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” He has made it manifest to us that it is of this he speaks; whoso acts against this commandment, is in that accursed sin, into which those fall who are not born of God. “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”4 Therefore, where envy is, brotherly love cannot be. Mark, my beloved. He that envieth, loveth not. The sin of the devil is in that man; because the devil through envy cast man down. For he fell, and envied him that stood. He did not wish to cast man down that he himself might stand, but only that he might not fall alone. Hold fast in your mind from this that he has subjoined, that envy cannot exist in charity. Thou hast it openly, when charity was praised, “Charity envieth not.”5 There was no charity in Cain; and had there been no charity in Abel, God would not have accepted his sacrifice. For when they had both offered, the one of the fruits of the earth, the other of the offspring of the flock; what think ye, brethren, that God slighted the fruits of the earth, and loved the offspring of the flock? God had not regard to the hands, but saw in the heart: and whom He saw offer with charity, to his sacrifice He had respect; whom He saw offer with envy, from his sacrifice He turned away His eyes. By the good works, then, of Abel, he means only charity: by the evil works of Cain he means only his hatred of his brother. It was not enough that he hated his brother and envied his good works; because he would not imitate, he would kill. And hence it appeared that he was a child of the devil, and hence also that the other was God’s righteous one. Hence then are men discerned, my brethren. Let no man mark the tongue, but the deeds and the heart. If any do not good for his brethren, he shews what he has in him. By temptations are men proved.

9. “Marvel not, brethren, if the world hate us.”6 Must one often be telling you what “the world” means? Not the heaven, not the earth, nor these visible works which God made; but lovers of the world. By often saying these things, to some I am burdensome: but I am so far from saying it without a cause, that some may be questioned whether I said it, and they cannot answer. Let then, even by thrusting it upon them, something stick fast in the hearts of them that hear. What is “the world”? The world, when put in a bad sense, is, lovers of the world: the world, when the word is used in praise, is heaven and earth, and the works of God that are in them; whence it is said, “And the world was made by Him.”7 Also, the world is the fullness of the earth, as John himself hath said, “Not only for our sins is He the propitiator, but (for the sins) of the whole world:”8 he means, “of the world,” of all the faithful scattered throughout the whole earth. But the world in a bad sense, is, lovers of the world. They that love the world, cannot love their brother.

10. “If the world hate us: we know”—What do we know?—“that we have passed from death unto life”—How do we know? “Because we love the brethren.”9 Let none ask man: let each return to his own heart: if he find there brotherly love, let him set his mind at rest, because he is “passed from death unto life.” Already he is on the right hand: let him not regard that at present his glory is hidden: when the Lord shall come, then shall he appear in glory. For he has life in him, but as yet in winter; the root is alive, but the branches, so to say, are dry: within is the substance that has the life in it, within are the leaves of trees, within are the fruits: but they wait for the summer. Well then, “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not, abideth in death.” Lest ye should think it a light matter, brethren, to hate, or, not to love, hear what follows: “Every one that hateth his brother, is a murderer.”10 How now, if any made light of hating his brother, will he also in his heart make light of murder? He does not stir his hands to kill a man; yet he is already held by God a murderer; the other lives, and yet this man is already judged as his slayer! “Every one that hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

11. “In this know we love:”1 he means, perfection of love, that perfection which we have bidden you lay to heart: “In this know we love, that He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Lo here, whence that came: “Peter, lovest thou me? Feed My sheep.”2 For, that ye may know that He would have His sheep to be so fed by him, as that he should lay down his life for the sheep, straightway said He this to him: “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He,” saith the evangelist, “signifying by what death he should glorify God;” so that to whom He had said, “Feed my sheep,” the same He might teach to lay down his life for His sheep.

12. Whence beginneth charity, brethren? Attend a little: to what it is perfected, ye have heard; the very end of it, and the very measure of it is what the Lord hath put before us in the Gospel: “Greater love hath no man,” saith He, “than that one lay down his life for his friends.”3 Its perfection, therefore, He hath put before us in the Gospel, and here also it is its perfection that is put before us: but ye ask yourselves, and say to yourselves, When shall it be possible for us to have “this” charity? Do not too soon despair of thyself. Haply, it is born and is not yet perfect; nourish it, that it be not choked. But thou wilt say to me, And by what am I to know it? For to what it is perfected, we have heard; whence it begins, let us hear. He goes on to say: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have hunger,4 and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him?”5 Lo, whence charity begins withal!6 If thou art not yet equal to the dying for thy brother, be thou even now equal to the giving of thy means to thy brother. Even now let charity smite thy bowels, that not of vainglory thou shouldest do it, but of the innermost7 marrow of mercy; that thou consider him, now in want. For if thy superfluities thou canst not give to thy brother, canst thou lay down thy life for thy brother? There lies thy money in thy bosom, which thieves may take from thee; and though thieves do not take it, by dying thou wilt leave it, even if it leave not thee while living: what wilt thou do with it? Thy brother hungers, he is in necessity: be-like he is in suspense, is distressed by his creditor: he is thy brother, alike ye are bought, one is the price paid for you, ye are both redeemed by the blood of Christ: see whether thou have mercy, if thou have this world’s means. Perchance thou sayest, “What concerns it me? Am I to give my money, that he may not suffer trouble?” If this to be the answer thy heart makes to thee, the love of the Father abideth not in thee. If the love of the Father abide not in thee, thou art not born of God. How boastest thou to be a Christian? Thou hast the name, and hast not the deeds. But if the work shall follow the name, let any call thee pagan, show thou by deeds that thou art a Christian. For if by deeds thou dost not show thyself a Christian, all men may call thee a Christian yet; what doth the name profit thee where the thing is not forthcoming? “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need,8 and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him?” And then he goes on: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue but in deed and in truth.”9

13. I suppose the thing is now made manifest to you my brethren: this great and most concerning secret and mystery.10 What is the force of charity, all Scripture doth set forth; but I know not whether any where it be more largely set forth than in this Epistle. We pray you and beseech you in the Lord, that both what ye have heard ye will keep in memory, and to that which is yet to be said, until the epistle be finished, will come with earnestness, and with earnestness hear the same. But open ye your heart for the good seed: root out the thorns, that that which we are sowing in you be not choked, but rather that the harvest may grow, and that the Husbandman may rejoice and make ready the barn for you as for grain, not the fire as for the chaff

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St Augustine’s Third Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 2:18-27)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

1 John 2:18-27

“Children, it is the last hour: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us: if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things.3 I write unto you, not because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? [He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.]4 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath neither the Father nor the Son: and he that acknowledgeth the Son hath both the Father and the Son. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you; that ye may know that ye have an unction, and that the unction which ye have received of him may abide in you. And ye need not that any man teach you; because His unction teacheth you of all things.”

1. “Children,1 it is the2 last hour.” In this lesson he addresses the children that they may make haste to grow, because “it is the last hour.” Age or stature3 of the body is not at one’s own will. A man does not grow in respect of the flesh when he will, any more than he is born when he will: but where the being born rests with the will, the growth also rests with the will. No man is “born of water and the Spirit,4 except he be willing. Consequently if he will, he grows or makes increase: if he will, he decreases. What is it to grow? To go onward5 by proficiency. What is it to decrease? To go backward6 by deficiency. Whoso knows that he is born, let him hear that he is an infant; let him eagerly cling to the breasts of his mother, and he grows apace. Now his mother is the Church; and her breasts are the two Testaments of the Divine Scriptures. Hence let him suck the milk of all the things that as signs of spiritual truths were done in time for our eternal salvation,7 that being nourished and strengthened, he may attain to the eating of solid meat, which is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”8 Our milk is Christ in His humility; our meat, the self-same Christ equal with the Father. With milk He nourisheth thee, that He may feed thee with bread: for with the heart spiritually to touch Christ is to know that He is equal with the Father.

2. Therefore it was that He forbade Mary to touch Him, and said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father.”9 What is this? He gave Himself to be handled by the disciples. and did He shun Mary’s touch? Is not He the same that said to the doubting disciple, “Reach hither thy fingers, and feel the scars”?10 Was He at that time ascended to the Father? Then why doth He forbid Mary, and saith, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to the Father?” Or are we to say, that He feared not to be touched by men, and feared to be touched by women? The touch of Him cleanseth all flesh. To whom He willed first to be manifested, by them feared He to be handled? Was not His resurrection announced by women to the men, that so the serpent should by a sort of counterplot be overcome? For because he first by the woman announced death to man, therefore to men was also life announced by a woman. Then why was He unwilling to be touched, but because He would have it to be understood of that spiritual touch? The spiritual touch takes place from a pure heart. That person does of a pure heart reach Christ with his touch who understands Him coequal with the Father. But whoso does not yet understand Christ’s Godhead, that person reaches but unto the flesh, reaches not unto the Godhead. Now what great matter is it, to reach only unto that which the persecutors reached unto, who crucified Him? But that is the great thing, to understand the Word God with God, in the beginning, by whom all things were made: such as He would have Himself to be known when He said to Philip, “Am I so long time with you, and have ye not known me, Philip? He that seeth me, seeth also the Father.”11

3. But lest any be sluggish to go forward, let him hear: “Children, it is the last hour.” Go forward, run, grow; “it is the last hour.” This same last hour is long; yet it is the last. For he has put “hour” for “the last time;” because it is in the last times that our Lord Jesus Christ is to come.12 But some will say, How the last times? how the last hour? Certainly antichrist will first come, and then will come the day of judgment. John perceived these thoughts: test people should in a manner become secure, and think it was not the last hour because antichrist was to come, he said to them, “And as ye have heard that antichrist is to come, now are there come many antichrists.” Could it have many antichrists, except it were “the last hour”?

4. Whom has he called antichrists? He goes on and expounds. “Whereby we know that it is the last hour,” By what? Because “many antichrists are come. They went out from us;” see the antichrists! “They went out from us:” therefore we bewail the loss. Hear the consolation. “But they were not of us.” All heretics, all schismatics went out from us, that is, they go out from the Church; but they would not go out, if they were of us. Therefore, before they went out they were not of us. If before they went out they were not of us. many are within, are not gone out, but yet are antichrists. We dare to say this: and why, but that each one while he is within may not be an antichrist? For he is about to describe and mark the antichrists, and we shall see them now. And each person ought to question his own conscience, whether he be an antichrist. For antichrist in our tongue means, contrary to Christ.1 Not, as some take it, that antichrist is to be so called because he is to come ante Christum, before Christ, i.e. Christ to come after him: it does not mean this, neither is it thus written, but Antichristus, i.e. contrary to Christ. Now who is contrary to Christ ye already perceive from the apostle’s own exposition, and understand that none can go out but antichrists; whereas those who are not contrary to Christ, can in no wise go out. For he that is not contrary to Christ holds fast in His body, and is counted therewith as a member. The members are never contrary one to another. The entire body consists of all the members. And what saith the apostle concerning the agreement of the members? “If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it.”2 If then in the glorifying of a member the other members rejoice with it, and in its suffering all the members suffer, the agreement of the members hath no antichrist. And there are those who inwardly are in such sort in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ—seeing His body is yet under cure, and the soundness will not be perfect save in the resurrection of the dead—are in such wise in the body of Christ, as bad humors. When these are vomited up, the body is relieved: so too when bad men go out, then the Church is relieved. And one says, when the body vomits and casts them out, These humors went out of me, but they were not of me. How were not of me? Were not cut out of my flesh, but oppressed my breast while they were in me.

5. “They went out from us; but,” be not sad, “they were not of us.” How provest thou this? If they had been of us, they would doubtless have continued with us. Hence therefore ye may see, that many who are not of us, receive with us the Sacraments, receive with us baptism. receive with us what the faithful know they receive, Benediction, the Eucharist,3 and whatever there is in Holy Sacraments: the communion of the very altar they receive with us, and are not of us. Temptation proves that they are not of us. When temptation comes to them as if blown by a wind they fly abroad; because they were not grain. But all of them will fly abroad, as we must often tell you, when once the fanning of the Lord’s threshing-floor shall begin in the day of judgment. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.” For would ye know, beloved, how most certain this saying is, that they who haply have gone out and return, are not antichrists, are not contrary to Christ? Whoso are not antichrists, it cannot be that they should continue without. But of his own will is each either an antichrist or in Christ. Either we are among the members, or among the bad humors. He that changeth himself for the better, is in the body, a member: but he that continues in his badness, is a bad humor; and when he is gone out, then they who were oppressed will be relieved. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but (they went out), that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” That he has added, “that they might be made manifest,” is, because even when they are within they are not of us; yet they are not manifest, but by going out are made manifest. “And ye have an unction from the Holy One, that ye may be manifest to your own selves.4 The spiritual unction is the Holy Spirit Himself, of which the Sacrament is in the visible unction.1 Of this unction of Christ he saith, that all who have it know the bad and the good; and they need not to be taught, because the unction itself teacheth them.

6. “I write unto you not because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”2 Behold, we are admonished how we may know antichrist. What is Christ? Truth. Himself hath said “I am the Truth.”3 But “no lie is of the truth.” Consequently, all who lie are not yet of Christ. He hath not said that some lie is of the truth, and some lie not of the truth. Mark the sentence. Do not fondle yourselves, do not flatter yourselves, do not deceive yourselves, do not cheat yourselves: “No lie is of the truth.” Let us see then how antichrists lie, because there is more than one kind of lying. “Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?” One is the meaning of the word “Jesus,” another the meaning of the word “Christ:” though it be one Jesus Christ our Saviour, yet “Jesus” is His proper name. Just as Moses was so called by his proper name, as Elias, as Abraham: so as His proper name our Lord hath the name “Jesus:” but “Christ” is the name of His4 sacred character. As when we say, Prophet, as when we say, Priest; so by the name Christ we are given to understand the Anointed, in whom should be the redemption of the whole people. The coming of this Christ was hoped for by the people of the Jews: and because He came in lowliness, He was not acknowledged; because the stone was small, they stumbled at it and were broken. But “the stone grew, and became a great mountain;”5 and what saith the Scripture? “Whosoever shall stumble at this stone shall be broken;6 and on whomsoever this stone shall come, it will grind him to powder.” We must mark the difference of the words: it saith, he that stumbleth shall be broken; but he on whom it shall come, shall be ground to powder. At the first, because He came lowly, men stumbled at Him: because He shall come lofty to judgment, on whomsoever He shall come, He will grind him to powder. But not that man will He grind to powder at His future coming, whom He broke not when He came. He that stumbled not at the lowly, shall not dread the lofty. Briefly ye have heard it, brethren: he that stumbled not at the lowly. shall not dread the lofty. For to all bad men is Christ a stone of stumbling; whatever Christ saith is bitter to them.

7. For hear and see. Certainly all who go out from the Church, and are cut off from the unity of the Church, are antichrists; let no man doubt it: for the apostle himself hath marked them, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.” Therefore, whoso continue not with us, but go out from us, it is manifest that they are antichrists. And how are they proved to be antichrists? By lying. “And who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?”7 Let us ask the heretics: where do you find a heretic that denies that Jesus is the Christ? See now, my beloved, a great mystery.8 Mark what the Lord God may have inspired us withal, and what I would fain work into your minds. Behold, they went out from us, and turned Donatists: we ask them whether Jesus be the Christ; they instantly confess that Jesus is the Christ. If then that person is an antichrist, who denies that Jesus is the Christ, neither can they call us antichrists, nor we them; therefore, neither they went out from us, nor we from them. If then we have not gone out one from another, we are in unity: if we be in unity, what means it that there are two altars in this city? what, that there are divided houses, divided marriages? that there is a common bed, and a divided Christ? He admonishes us, he would have us confess what is the truth:—either they went out from us, or we from them. But let it not be imagined that we have gone out from them. For we have the testament of the Lord’s inheritance, we recite it, and there we find, “I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and for Thy possessions the ends of the earth.”9 We hold fast Christ’s inheritance; they hold it not, for they do not communicate with the whole earth, do not communicate with the10 universal body redeemed by the blood of the Lord. We have the Lord Himself rising from the dead, who presented Himself to be felt by the hands of the doubting disciples: and while they yet doubted, He said to them, “It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name”11—Where? which way? to what persons?—“through all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Our minds are set at rest concerning the unity of the inheritance! Whoso does not communicate with this inheritance, is gone out.

8. But let us not be made sad: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.”1 If then they went out from us, they are antichrists; if they are antichrists, they are liars; if they are liars, they deny that Jesus is the Christ. Once more we come back to the difficulty of the question. Ask them one by one; they confess that Jesus is the Christ. The difficulty that hampers us comes of our taking what is said in the Epistle in too narrow a sense. At any rate ye see the question; this question puts both us and them to a stand, if it be not understood. Either we are antichrists, or they are antichrists; they call us antichrists, and say that we went out from them; we say the like of them. But now this epistle has marked out the antichrists by this cognizance: “Whosoever denies that Jesus is the Christ,” that same “is an antichrist.” Now therefore let us enquire who denies; and let us mark not the tongue, but the deeds. For if all be asked, all with one mouth confess that Jesus is the Christ. Let the tongue keep still for a little while, ask the life. If we shall find this, if the Scripture itself shall tell us that denial is a thing done not only with the tongue, but also with the deeds, then assuredly we find many antichrists, who with the mouth profess Christ, and in their manners dissent from Christ. Where find we this in Scripture? Hear Paul the Apostle; speaking of such, he saith, “For they confess that they know God, but in their deeds deny Him.”2 We find these also to be antichrists: whosoever in his deeds denies Christ, is an antichrist. I listen not to what he says, but I look what life he leads. Works speak, and do we require words? For where is the bad man that does not wish to talk well? But what saith the Lord to such? “Ye hypocrites, how can ye speak good things, while ye are evil?”3 Your voices ye bring into mine ears: I look into your thoughts. I see an evil will there, and ye make a show of false fruits. I know what I must gather, and whence; I do not “gather figs of thistles,” I do not gather “grapes of thorns;” for “every tree is known by its fruit.”4 A more lying antichrist is he who with his mouth professes that Jesus is the Christ, and with his deeds denies Him. A liar in this, that he speaks one thing, and does another.

9. Now therefore, brethren, if deeds are to be questioned, not only do we find many antichrists gone out; but many not yet manifest, who have not gone out at all. For as many as the Church hath within it that are perjured, defrauders,5 addicted to black arts, consulters of fortune-tellers, adulterers, drunkards, usurers, boy-stealers,6 and all the other vices that we are not able to enumerate; these things are contrary to the doctrine of Christ, are contrary to the word of God. Now the Word of God is Christ: whatever is contrary to the Word of God is in Antichrist. For Antichrist means, “contrary to Christ.” And would ye know how openly these resist Christ? Sometimes it happens that they do some evil, and one begins to reprove them; because they dare not blaspheme Christ, they blaspheme His ministers by whom they are reproved: but if thou show them that thou speakest Christ’s words, not thine own, they endeavor all they can to convict thee of speaking thine own words, not Christ’s: if however it is manifest that thou speakest Christ’s words, they go even against Christ, they begin to find fault with Christ: “How,” say they, “and why did He make us such as we are?” Do not persons say this every day, when they are convicted of their deeds? Perverted by a depraved will, they accuse their Maker. Their Maker cries to them from heaven, (for the same made us, who new-made us:) What made I thee? I made man, not avarice; I made man, not robbery; I made man, not adultery. Thou hast heard that my works praise me. Out of the mouth of the Three Children, it was the hymn itself that kept them from the fires.”7 The works of the Lord praise the Lord, the heaven, the earth, the sea, praise Him; praise Him all things that are in the heaven, praise Him angels, praise Him stars, praise Him lights, praise Him whatever swims, whatever flies, whatever walks, whatever creeps; all these praise the Lord. Hast thou heard there that avarice praises the Lord? Hast thou heard that drunkenness praises the Lord? That luxury praises, that frivolity praises Him? Whatever thou hearest not in that hymn give praise to the Lord, the Lord made not that thing. Correct what thou hast made, that what God made in thee may be saved. But if thou wilt not, and lovest and embracest thy sins, thou art contrary to Christ. Be thou within, be thou without, thou art an antichrist; be thou within, be thou without, thou art chaff. But why art thou not without? Because thou hast not fallen in with a wind to carry thee away.

10. These things are now manifest, my brethren. Let no man say, I do not worship Christ, but I worship God His Father. “Every one that denieth the Son, hath neither the Son nor the Father; and he that confesseth the Son, hath both the Son and the Father.”1 He speaks to you that are grain: and let those who were chaff, hear, and become grain. Let each one, looking well to his own conscience, if he be a lover of the world, be changed; let him become a lover of Christ, that he be not an antichrist. If one shall tell him that he is an antichrist, he is wroth, he thinks it a wrong done to him; perchance, if he is told by him that strives with him2 that he is an antichrist, he threatens an action at law.3 Christ saith to him, Be patient; if thou hast been falsely spoken of, rejoice with me, because I also am falsely spoken of by the antichrists: but if thou art truly spoken of, come to an understanding with thine own conscience; and if thou fear to be called this, fear more to be it.

11. “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that He hath promised us.”4 For haply thou mightest ask about the wages, and say, Behold, “that which I have heard from the beginning I keep safe in me, I comply therewith; perils, labors, temptations, for the sake of this continuance, I bear up against them all: with what fruit? what wages? what will He hereafter give me, since in this world I see that I labor among temptations? I see not here that there is any rest: mere mortality weigheth down the soul, and the corruptible body presseth it down to lower things: but I bear all things, that “that which I have heard from the beginning”5 may “remain” in me; and that I may say to my God, “Because of the words of Thy lips have I kept hard ways.”6 Unto what wages then? Hear, and faint not. If thou wast fainting in the labors, upon the promised wages be strong. Where is the man that shall work in a vineyard, and shall let slip out of his heart the reward he is to receive? Suppose him to have forgotten, his hands fail. The remembrance of the promised wages makes him persevering in the work: and yet he that promised it is a man who can deceive thine expectation. How much more strong oughtest thou to be in God’s field, when He that promised is the Truth, Who can neither have any successor, nor die, nor deceive him to whom the promise was made! And what is the promise? Let us see what He hath promised. Is it gold which men here love much, or silver? Or possessions, for which men lavish gold, however much they love gold? Or pleasant lands, spacious houses, many slaves, numerous beasts? Not these are the wages, so to say, for which he exhorts us to endure in labor. What are these wages called? “eternal life.” Ye have heard, and in your joy ye have cried out: love that which ye have heard, and ye are delivered from your labors into the rest of eternal life. Lo, this is what God promises; “eternal life.”7 Lo, this what God threatens; eternal fire. What to those set on the right hand? “Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”8 To those on the left, what? “Go into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Thou dost not yet love that: at least fear this.

12. Remember then, my brethren, that Christ hath promised us eternal life: “This,” saith he, “is the promise which He hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written to you concerning them which seduce you.”9 Let none seduce you unto death: desire the promise of eternal life. What can the world promise? Let it promise what you will, it makes the promise perchance to one that to-morrow shall die. And with what face wilt thou go hence to Him that abideth for ever? “But a powerful man threatens me, so that I must do some evil.” What does he threaten? Prisons, chains, fires, torments, wild beasts: aye, but not eternal fire? Dread that which One Almighty threatens; love that which One Almighty promises; and all the world becomes vile in our regard, whether it promise or terrify. “These things have I written unto you concerning them which seduce you; that ye may know that ye have an unction, and the unction which we have received from Him may abide in you.”10 In the unction we have the sacramental sign [of a thing unseen], the virtue itself is invisible;11 the invisible unction is the Holy Ghost; the invisible unction is that charity, which, in whomsoever it be, shall be as a root to him: however burning the sun, he cannot wither. All that is rooted is nourished by the sun’s warmth, not withered.

13. “And ye have no need that any man teach you, because His1 unction teacheth you concerning all things.”2 Then to what purpose is it that “we,” my brethren, teach you? If “His unction teacheth you concerning all things,” it seems we labor without a cause. And what mean we, to cry out as we do? Let us leave you to His unction, and let His unction teach you. But this is putting the question only to myself: I put it also to that same apostle: let him deign to hear a babe that asks of him: to John himself I say, Had those the unction to whom thou wast speaking? Thou hast said, “His unction teacheth you concerning all things.” To what purpose hast thou written an Epistle like this? what teaching didst “thou “give them? what instruction? what edification? See here now, brethren, see a mighty mystery.3 The sound of our words strikes the ears, the Master is within. Do not suppose that any man learns ought from man. We can admonish by the sound of our voice; if there be not One within that shall teach, vain is the noise we make. Aye, brethren, have ye a mind to know it? Have ye not all heard this present discourse? and yet how many will go from this place untaught! I, for my part, have spoken to all; but they to whom that Unction within speaketh not, they whom the Holy Ghost within teacheth not, those go back untaught. The teachings of the master from without are a sort of aids and admonitions. He that teacheth the hearts, hath His chair in heaven. Therefore saith He also Himself in the Gospel: “Call no man your master upon earth; One is your Master, even Christ.”4 Let Him therefore Himself speak to you within, when not one of mankind is there: for though there be some one at thy side, there is none in thine heart. Yet let there not be none in thine heart:5 let Christ be in thine heart: let His unction be in the heart, lest it be a heart thirsting in the wilderness, and having no fountains to be watered withal. There is then, I say, a Master within that teacheth: Christ teacheth; His inspiration teacheth. Where His inspiration and His unction is not, in vain do words make a noise from without. So are the words, brethren, which we speak from without, as is the husbandman to the tree: from without he worketh, applieth water and diligence of culture; let him from without apply what he will, does he form the apples? does he clothe the nakedness of the wood with a shady covering of leaves? does he do any thing like this from within? But whose doing is this? Hear the husbandman, the apostle: both see what we are, and hear the Master within: “I have planted, Apollos hath watered; but God gave the increase: neither he that planteth is any thing, neither he that watereth, but He that giveth the increase, even God.”6 This then we say to you: whether we plant, or whether we water, by speaking we are not any thing; but He that giveth the increase, even God: that is, “His unction which teacheth you concerning all things.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 7

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle replies to several questions, about which he was consulted, regarding matrimony and virginity. The first question was, whether a Christian, engaged in marriage, was allowed marriage intercourse? In reply to this question, he tells them, that taking all things into account, it would be better for the married to abstain altogether from marriage intercourse; as a remedy, however, against incontinence, he says they may cohabit, unless it be that they consent, on certain solemn occasions of public prayer, to separate for a short time, after which time they should again continue to live on the same familiar terms as before. This, however, the Apostle does not command them to do, but only allows it by way of indulgence; for, if it were possible, he would prefer that all should lead the same chaste life that he followed himself (1 Cor 7:1–8).

The next question was, whether it was expedient for the unmarried to engage in the marriage state? In reply, he tells them that it is better for them to remain single, if they can do so without incontinence; if not they should marry (1 Cor 7:8-9).

The next question regarded divorce. To this he replies, in accordance with the doctrine of our Redeemer, that the marriage of Christians., once consummated, is indissoluble (1 Cor 7:10-11).

The next question regarded the marriage of parties, one of whom is a believer, and the other an unbeliever. He replies, if the unbelieving party wishes to adhere to the marriage contract, and does not interfere with the faith or morals of the believing party, the latter is not free to leave the unbeliever; but, if the unbeliever first break through his marriage contract and abandons the believing party, or does not permit him to enjoy Christian peace—then, the, marriage contract is not binding on the latter (1 Cor 7:13–17). He then subjoins some counsel respecting other conditions in life generally (1 Cor 7:17–21).

In the next place, he commends virginity, and gives it a preference before matrimony, for several reasons. He gives a counsel, but he gives no command respecting it; he says, that matrimony is good, but virginity and celibacy are better (1 Cor 7:25–40).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture

1 Cor 7:1. As to the questions about which you have written to consult me, I say, with reference to the use of matrimony, that it is an act of virtue, or it is better, taking all things into consideration, for a man to abstain from all marriage intercourse with his wife.

In this chapter, according to Theodoret, commences the second part of the present Epistle. It appears, from the words of this verse, that he was consulted about certain doubts which the Corinthians entertained on several points both of faith and morals. The first question about which, either the vain teachers, in order to show their zeal for sanctity, or the faithful themselves, for the purpose of prayer, wished to consult him, regarded the lawfulness of marriage intercourse with the wives whom they had espoused before their conversion. To this the Apostle replies that it is “good,” καλον, i.e., an act of virtue; or the word may mean, better to abstain from all such intercourse, which is modestly expressed by the Apostle in the words, “not to touch a woman.” The words convey the avoidance of the slightest sexual intercourse.

1 Cor 7:2. But in order to avoid fornication and uncleanness of all kinds, let each husband cohabit with his own wife, and each wife with her own husband.

“Fornication,” is in the plural in the Greek, δια τας πορνειας “Have his own wife.” The word, “have” bears the meaning of, cohabit with, his own wife; in which signification the word is employed (1 Cor 5:1). That there is no precept here conveyed to enter the married state is clear, since the Apostle is evidently addressing those who are already married, as appears from verse 8, where he addresses “the unmarried.” Moreover, if the Apostle delivered a precept here for all Christians to marry, he would be contradicting himself, for he says: “he speaks not by commandment, but by indulgence” (verse 6), and wishes all to be like himself (verse 7), and he tells us (verse 38), that virginity is better than matrimony.

1 Cor 7:3. Let the wife and husband mutually discharge the marriage debt.

Although, in the marriage state, the rights of the husband are more extensive than those of the wife, yet, so far as the marriage debt is concerned, both parties are on a perfect equality; “render the debt,” οφειλην. In the common Greek text, for οφειλην, we have την οφειλομενην ευνοιαν, but this latter reading is rejected by Griesbach and other critics, who prefer the former reading, on the authority of the chief MSS. and versions.

1 Cor 7:4. Because from the very nature of the marriage contract, the husband and wife have mutually transferred to each other, a power over their persons. They are not, therefore, at liberty to decline discharging the marriage debt, or to make a transfer of their persons to any other parties.

“The wife hath not power,” &c. In this verse is assigned a reason for the precept contained in the preceding; both parties have an equal right, in this respect, owing to the very nature of the marriage contract.

1 Cor 7:5. Do not, therefore, defraud one another of your just rights, unless it be that abstinence from mutual cohabitation be agreed upon by both parties, and that only for a time, for the purpose of more freely discharging the duty of prayer; and afterwards return to the same marriage intercourse; lest Satan may take occasion from your incontinency to tempt you.

“Defraud not one another.” The word “defraud” shows the strict justice of the marriage debt. “That you may give yourselves to prayer.” This does not refer to the ordinary exercise of prayer, which men are enjoined to practise at all times; it refers to their meeting at public prayer and sacrifice, where, in compliance with early usage, all present partook of holy communion. Hence, the Church counsels the married to abstain from the marriage intercourse some time before holy communion, and that for greater purity of soul. Even in the Old Law, the priests, while engaged in the ministry of the temple, were obliged to abstain from their wives.

In the Greek copies, “fasting” is added to “prayer,” thus: That you may give your selves to (fasting) and prayer. In the reading of St. Chrysostom and Theophylact, and many other Greek copies, the word “fasting” is not, however, found; nor does it well accord with the Greek word for “give yourselves to,” (σχολαζητε). “And return together again,” &c., i.e., after the time of public prayer has expired, return again to your former terms of intimacy, lest Satan, taking advantage of your incontinency and infirmity, may tempt you to more grievous sins. The words “your incontinency,” may, in the construction, be connected with the words, “return together again,” thus: return again to the same marriage intercourse to avoid incontinency, lest otherwise Satan might tempt you. This construction is rendered probable by a similar passage (verse 2), “for fear of fornication,” where the same idea is conveyed by the Apostle as here.

1 Cor 7:6. But all that I have said regarding marriage intercourse is to be regarded not in the light of a precept, but rather of indulgence or permission in condescension to your infirmity.

All that the Apostle has said about “each man having his own wife,” &c. (verse 2), and “return together again” to marriage intercourse, &c., is not a precept, but an indulgence or permission which he grants in condescension to their weakness, and of which they may decline availing themselves, should they please. It is not likely that “indulgence” supposes the opposite course to be sinful; for, St. Paul, instead of permitting a sinful course, would counsel them to avoid all sin whatsoever.

1 Cor 7:7. For I would have you all to be like myself, living in a state of perpetual continence; but, each person has his proper gift from God; one indeed hath this gift and another that.

It is the common opinion of the Holy Fathers, that St. Paul lived in a state of perpetual continence. St. Jerome (ad Eustochium de Continentia, chap. viii.); St. Augustine (de Libero Arbitrio, chap. iv.); St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, Theophylact, &c. Hence, the unmeaning folly of Erasmus, in his notes on this passage, who holds that St. Paul must have been married, because, addressing those engaged in the married state, he proposes himself as their model. The Apostle addresses, in this passage, not only the married, but “all men.” “For, I would that all men were even as myself,” and in the Greek reading, which Erasmus himself adopts, it is, θελω γαρ παντας ανθρωπους ειναι ὡς και εμαυτον, I wish that all men were even as I am myself. Moreover, if the words of this verse proved that he was married, the words of the next, where, addressing the unmarried, he counsels them to continue like himself, would prove him to be unmarried, at the same time. “I would that all men,” &c. This wish of St. Paul regards mankind, abstracting from circumstances, and only refers to the absolute superiority of continence, as a state, over the opposite state. “But every one has his proper gift from God.” The Apostle adds this, lest he might dishearten those already engaged in the marriage state, who, in consequence of their marriage obligations, could not be in the condition in which, abstracting from circumstances, he wished all mankind to be—“one after this manner,” &c. The gifts of God are different, and differently dispensed. Those who have not the more exalted gift of virginal chastity, may, still, have the gift of conjugal chastity. He calls one and the other the “gift” of God, because, although requiring human co-operation, they, still, must proceed from God’s grace.

1 Cor 7:8But to the widows and the unmarried, I say, it is good, or, an act of virtue, for them to remain in a single state, such as I myself continue to live in.

From this verse it is clear that the Apostle, in the foregoing passage, has been addressing those who were already engaged in the marriage state. The “unmarried,” may refer to those who never contracted marriage, in contradistinction to “widows,” under whom are included, widowers; or, it may simply refer to those now unmarried, without considering whether they were married before or not. “For them it is good,” which does not simply regard their exemption from temporal afflictions and solicitude. The word “good” (καλον), means, is is a matter of virtue, or of moral goodness. “If they so continue even as I am.” These words furnish the clearest evidence of St. Paul’s having been unmarried; for, how could he exhort others to continue unmarried after his own example, unless he himself also remained unmarried?

1 Cor 7:9. But if such persons do not contain themselves, then let them have recourse to marriage (as a remedy against concupiscence); it is better to marry than be a slave to the passions of lust.

“If they do not contain themselves,” which is corruptly rendered in the Protestant version, “if they cannot contain themselves,” the Greek being, εἰ δὲ οὐκ ἐγκρατευονται. “Let them marry.” Of course, this advice to marry, in case they do not wish to practise continence, is to be taken restrictively, and to be confined to those who may lawfully and without impediment do so. For, speaking in his first Epistle to Timothy, (1 Tim 5:12), of the widows who married in violation of their vows of chastity, he says, “habent damnationem, quia primam fidem irritam feceruut.” Hence, in reference to such persons, St. Paul never would say, “it is better to marry.” For, he could never say, any state was better or even good, the embracing of which would be a cause of damnation. Such persons must look for other remedies against concupiscence, such as fasting, prayer, pious reading, meditation on God’s holy presence, constant occupation, fervent and repeated appeals to the most chaste Virgin Mother of God, St. Joseph, &c. But they cannot marry. Just as a man already married, who is in danger of violating conjugal fidelity (v.g.), in case of lawful divorce, or in case of the absence, long sickness, or the inveterate aversion entertained towards the other party, cannot marry. Of him the Apostle would not say “it is better to marry,” &c. For, having once freely engaged in the marriage state, he must submit to its inconvenience, and have recourse to other means than remarrying for preserving the chastity of the marriage bed. So, in like manner, a person who has freely and voluntarily made a vow of perpetual chastity, must have recourse to other means different from marriage, to resist the assaults of impurity. God, who never refuses to anyone the graces necessary for his state, will, if fervently invoked, give to every such person the graces necessary to preserve chastity. Hence, the words, “it is better to marry than burn,” must be received with the limitations which the SS Scriptures and reason have affixed to them. The word “burn,” does not merely imply violent assaults of impurity. Those, if manfully resisted and combatted, may be, and often are, designed by God, as means of heaping up a treasure of merit. It implies consent to these temptations; it refers to those who “do not contain themselves,” just as a person is said to be burned by fire, when he is injured by it. St. Paul himself, though continent, and recommending continence to all, was not, still, exempted from the stings of the flesh.—(2 Cor. 12:7).

1 Cor 7:10. But, with regard to those already engaged in the marriage state, I give them a command, not from myself, but on the authority of the Lord; that the wife should not depart from her husband.

Among other things, it would appear from this verse that the Apostle was consulted regarding the right of separation on the part of those engaged in the marriage state, and also regarding the nature of the marriage tie. This verse is, of course, to be understood with the limitations affixed to this command by the Lord himself in the Gospel. The case of separation quoad thorum, admitted by the Lord himself as lawful, is that of fornication; because “fornication,” i.e., adultery, is the only just cause of separation peculiar to the marriage contract. The other causes ordinarily admitted are such as are common to any other contract whatever, as well as the marriage contract. “From her husband,” απο ανδρος, “from the husband.”

1 Cor 7:11. But, if from any just cause she depart, she has but one alternative, viz., that of remaining unmarried, or of becoming reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.

It is clear that, in this verse, the Apostle contemplates the case of separation quoad thorum with a just cause, (v.g)., fornication, &c; since, if the wife departed from her husband without a just cause, the Apostle, far from giving the alternative of remaining unmarried, or of becoming reconciled, &c., would order her to return at once to her husband, this being the only way of complying with the precept of the Lord, non discedere (verse 10), or, at least, of making reparation for it, when violated. He then supposes, in this verse, a case of just separation such as adultery, which is one of the most prominent justifying causes for such separation. And this at once proves the indissolubility of Christian marriage, not excepting the case of fornication, i.e., adultery. Because, if the marriage tie, or vinculum, was dissolved by the fornication of the other party, why should the Apostle prevent the woman from marrying?

Objection.—By saying, “or be reconciled with her husband,” does not the Apostle suppose the departing wife to be in fault; and hence, she is supposed to have departed without just cause; for, who is to seek a reconciliation but the offending party?

Resp.—The corresponding Greek word for “reconciled,” καταλλαγητω, simply signifies mutual reconcilliation of parties at variance, and is understood as well of the offending as of the offended party. Thus, in SS. Scripture, God is said to be reconciled with man.—(2 Macc 1:5, 7:28, 8:29). Thus, we also find it said of the Levite, whose wife was guilty of fornication, that “he followed her, willing to be reconciled with her” (Judges 19:3), although she was the offending party. The Apostle employs the form “depart” in reference to the woman, and “put away” in reference to the husband, since the separation was supposed to be effected by the wife departing, and the husband putting her away, although he uses the word “put away” in reference to the wife also—(verse 13).

1 Cor 7:12For, as to the rest, that is to say, the unmarried I have no precept on the part of the Lord to propound. I only give a counsel from myself. In reference to the marriages contracted by you before your conversion, I say, if a Christian have an unbelieving wife, and if she consent to dwell with him, let him not send her away.

In the Paraphrase, the words, “the rest,” are made to refer to the unmarried; for, the form is perfectly similar to that in 1 Cor 7:25, where there is reference expressly made to virgins. “Concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord.” Again, in the words immediately preceding, he expressly refers to the married; and if the words, “the rest,” be referred to infidels, as is done by some Commentators, the other member of the antithesis would not be clearly expressed; for, the Apostle does not in express terms speak of the believers as such, while he expressly speaks of the married; hence, the opposition requires that “the rest” should refer to the unmarried. Add to the foregoing, the perfect analogy between the phrase here, “I speak not the Lord,” and that employed in verse 25. Others make “the rest “refer to the following, thus: with reference to the married Christians, I have the express command of the Lord, but with reference to the married couple, both of whom are not Christians, the Lord has given no precept, but I, as an inspired Apostle, give the following precept, viz.: “if any brother have a wife that believeth not,” &c. In the words, “if any brother,” &c., the Apostle commences a new subject regarding the indissolubility of marriages contracted in infidelity, about which it is likely they consulted him. From this verse it follows that a marriage contracted among unbelievers is not dissolved by the conversion of one of the parties.

1 Cor 7:13. The same is to be said of a Christian wife similarly circumstanced, in regard to an unbelieving or Pagan husband.

The Apostle here says, that if the unbelieving party consent to live with the Christian, the marriage is not dissolved. But if the unbelieving party depart, either physically or morally, i.e., if he consent to remain with the believing partner, to the evident danger of corrupting either his faith or morals, the case is quite different as in 1 Cor 7:15. “Put away her husband,” in the common Greek, “put him away,” αυτον; the chief MSS. have τον ανδρα.

1 Cor 7:14. The reason of this precept is, that if the unbelieving party consent to remain with the believer, both physically and morally, i.e., without any attempt to seduce him into infidelity or any other mortal sin, the unbelieving party receives a sort of extrinsic sanctity, and becomes disposed for the true sanctity of the faith by such cohabitation; moreover, if a separation took place, your children would be regarded as illegitimate, or, rather, would receive a Pagan, unchristian education; whereas, now, owing to the peaceable cohabitation of the Christian and unbelieving parties, they are permitted to be brought up in a state of sanctity, viz., in the Christian religion.

In case of consenting to remain on these terms, the unbelieving party, far from imparting defilement to the believer—as many amongst them, probably, seemed to dread—would, on the contrary, become sanctified by this union (vide Paraphrase); for, the good example of the Christian party would ultimately have the effect of converting a person thus disposed. “By the believing wife;” “believing” is not in the Greek, which is, ἐν τῇ γυναικὶ; the same holds regarding “the believing husband”; “believing” is wanting in the Greek. “Your children should be unclean,” which, according to some, means, they would be illegitimate, the marriage of the parents having been dissolved. According to others, the words, more probably, refer to the idolatrous and unchristian education of the children in all the defilements of Paganism. For, in case of the departure of the Christian party without cause, the Pagan party would, very likely, insist on this, and would be supported by the laws.

“But now they are holy,” because in the case made, the Pagan party would allow them to be educated in the Christian faith. This permission on his part would appear to be included in his consenting to “remain” morally with the other party; for, if he insisted on bringing up the offspring in Paganism, notwithstanding the pious zeal of the Christian party for the contrary, he would, undoubtedly, blaspheme the Christian religion, and far from consenting to “remain” peaceably, he would morally “depart” from the Christian party. This interpretation leaves no room for the heresy of Calvin, viz., that by our birth of faithful parents, we are saints; for, we might equally infer from the passage, that the unbelieving Pagan is really a saint by his union with a Christian spouse. Moreover, the word “holy” or “saints,” is frequently employed by St. Paul, as here, to refer to a state of sanctity, the profession of Christianity, whether each individual referred to was really a saint or not.

1 Cor 7:15. But if the unbelieving party be the first to depart, let him do so: the Christian party is no longer bound by a marriage, the vinculum of which is dissolved. He is no longer subject to the servitude entailed by the painful alternative of either remaining unmarried, or of becoming reconciled to such a person (verse 11). Because God has called us to a state of peace, and not of annoyance of this sort.

The Apostle now explains the words, “and she consent to dwell with him,” verse 12. “But if the unbeliever depart,” which is understood, both by Canonists and Divines, not only of physical, but also of moral, departure. The party is said to depart morally, when he wishes to seduce the other party from the faith, or lead him into mortal sin, manet non sine contumelia Creatoris, as is expressed by Canonists after Innocent III. In the case of either physical or moral departure, as now explained, on the part of the unbeliever, the believing party is no longer bound by the tie or vinculum of marriage, no longer subject to the servitude referred to in verse 11.—(See Paraphrase). From the words of this verse Canonists and Divines commonly prove, that in case of the conversion of either of two parties who were united in the bonds of marriage in a state of unbelief, should the infidel party refuse to remain with the Christian, or consent to remain only with evident risk to either his faith or morals, non sine contumelia Creatoris, the Christian party may again marry, and the instant he marries, the former marriage is dissolved. This interpretation is given to the passage by Innocent III., and by Divines generally. The former marriage is dissolved even quoad vinculum, when the Christian party, in whose favour only, this exceptional law of privilege is laid down by the Apostle, actually contracts another marriage, but not before he actually does so.—(See Carriere, De Proprietatibus Matt., pars. II.) The case here contemplated is, therefore, an exception to the general law of the indissolubility of marriage propounded by our Blessed Lord in the gospel; and hence, commonly termed, casus Apostoli. With us, this can hardly ever become a practical case. In infidel countries only, where both parties may contract marriage in a state of infidelity, can it have any practical bearing.

1 Cor 7:16. (Nor should the hope of bringing the other party to embrace the faith, be alleged as a reason for remaining in this state of annoyance; for, the hope of conversion in such a case is by no means so certain); for how dost thou know, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or, how dost thou know, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife? (therefore, allow the reluctant party to depart, and use thy liberty).

In this verse the Apostle meets an objection which might be made against his teaching in the preceding. Ought not the believing party remain in every case, in the hope of bringing about the conversion of the other? He tells them in reply, that the hope of conversion is by no means certain in the case in question; and, therefore, such a hope is no reason why the believing party should remain exposed to the danger of fornication, in the case of the physical departure, or, of perversion, in the case of the moral departure, of the unbelieving party.

1 Cor 7:17. But, however, passing over dubious matters, let each person continue to act or live according to the degree of talents or ability granted to him, and in the condition of life in which God has placed him, and in which he was when called to the faith; and this is the doctrine which I teach in all the churches.

The meaning of “however,” given in the Paraphrase, to the Greek words, εἰ μὴ, (in Latin, nisi), seems far the more probable. In them the Apostle commences a reply to other questions proposed to him. It appears, that, among other matters, he was consulted about the propriety of Christians remaining in a state of servitude after their conversion, as being inconsistent with that Christian liberty into which Christ had asserted us all. The Apostle undertakes here the correction of this error, and recommends all to remain in the condition of life in which they were found at the period of their conversion to the faith. He thereby lays down a great principle of Christian policy, and fully meets one of the charges preferred against the Christian religion, viz., that it dissolved the social relations and the other pre-existing obligations, which were the bonds of civil society. Others connect the words “but as” (εἰ μὴ) with the preceding words, thus: Let the unbelieving party depart, for why expose yourself on account of, at best a doubtful good (verse 16), unless, indeed, God has inspired you with the courage to submit to the inconvenience of living with such a person, in order to procure his conversion. The former interpretation is, however, the more probable. The common Greek text has, “but as God has distributed to every one, as the Lord has called,” &c. Our reading is the one found in the chief MSS. and ancient versions.

1 Cor 7:18. With regard to the religion out of which each one was called to the faith, if a Jew, when called, let him not affect the manners of the Pagans and desert the synagogue; if a Gentile, let him not submit to the Jewish ceremonies.

“Procure uncircumcision,” by bringing back the foreskin, a thing said to be attempted in some cases. Among others it is recorded of the famous interpreter of the SS. Scripture, Symmachus, that he attempted to do so. The words, however, more probably mean (as in Paraphrase), let him not affect the manners, &c. It is to be borne in mind that the Jews could at this time practise the ceremonies of their religion. These were, as they are termed, mortua, but not mortifera, or sinful. This was allowed them, for the purpose, as St. Augustine expresses it, of burying the Synagogue with honour.

1 Cor 7:19For circumcision is no avail, neither is uncircumcision. The only thing profitable is the observance of the commandments of God.

The Apostle speaks of circumcision in reference to the Jews only, for it would be clearly illicit in the Gentiles to practise the Jewish ceremonies, as a matter of precept, or necessity; and it could be only as a matter of precept or necessity a Gentile would resort to their ceremonies.

1 Cor 7:20 In whatever state or condition of life a person may chance to be placed, when called, let him remain in that state.

No commentary is offered.

1 Cor 7:21. If in a state of servitude, be not troubled about it, but even if you could obtain your freedom, avail yourself rather of your former servile condition.

“Use it rather.” The Apostle adds this to guard against one of the charges made against Christianity, viz., that it subverted the pre-existing relations of society, as explained, verse 17. Some Commentators, imagining the interpretation now given of the words, “use it rather,” too harsh and severe, explain them thus: if you have been a slave, when called to the faith, you should not be concerned about it: this, however, should not prevent you from embracing a state of freedom, as preferable, should an opportunity offer.

This passage furnishes no argument in favour of the inhuman and unnatural treatment of slaves, recorded of many slave-owners in the Indies and the Continent of America. This shocking crime is denounced by the Apostle (1 Tim. 1:10), and punished with death in the Old Testament (Exod. 21:16, Deut. 24:7). A wide distinction, however, is to be made between slave trading, or the unjust abduction of free mer into a state of servitude, and slave holding. The former is as unjust as any other species of robbery. The latter, as a status, does not seem to be opposed to the law of nature for, it may be a privilege in some cases, as when prisoners captured in a just war accept slavery in exchange for loss of life, or when a man sells his natural liberty for some good which he could not otherwise obtain; nor to the divine law, as appears from the case of Abraham, who had slaves. The same also appears from the fact, that among the laws of Moses, there are found some regulating the relations of masters and slaves; and although slavery prevailed very generally at the introduction of Christianity, neither our blessed Lord nor his Apostles denounced it. On the contrary, the Apostle here recommends the slaves whom he addresses, even if freedom were offered them, to persevere in the state of slavery; in other passages of his Epistles (Ephesians 6.; Coloss. 3; 1 Tim. 6, &c.), he merely contents himself with regulating the relations of masters and slaves; but neither he nor the other inspired penmen denounce slavery in se, as opposed to the law of God. Neither does the status of slavery seem to be forbidden by the Church; for, although many of the Roman Pontiffs, viz., Paul II., Paul III., Urban VIII., Benedict XIV., Gregory XVI., denounced trading in slaves, they still do not seem to have prohibited slave holding. Hence, slavery, although a state to be discouraged, is not per se, unlawful.

1 Cor 7:22. For he who is called to the faith, though in a state of servitude, is made the freed man of the Lord, having been freed from the worst state of moral servitude, the slavery of the passions. While in another point of view, the man called to the faith in a state of freedom, is made the slave of Christ; being bound by the indispensable obligation of observing his commandments, or, because he is become such by purchase, at the price of his most precious blood (verse 23).

The words of this verse render the interpretation of “use it rather,” adopted in the Paraphrase, the more probable. In them is conveyed a reason why a man called to the faith in a state of servitude, should not be too concerned about his servile condition, but should rather, for the exercise of virtue, and particularly for the purpose of removing all grounds for the calumnies preferred against the Christian religion, of subverting pre-existing civil relations, continue in servitude. The Christian freeman is a slave, and the Christian slave is a freeman under different respects; hence, viewed under different relations, both are placed on an equal footing, both are equal in Christ, and so the slave need not be over anxious to leave his servile condition.

1 Cor 7:23Whether slaves or freemen, you are the purchased slaves of Christ; do not, therefore, enter into any engagement, that might in any way interfere with the service which you owe Christ.

In this verse is shown the species of servitude condemned by the Apostle, viz., moral servitude, or the slavery of sin. The slave should so serve his master as to render his temporal service subservient to the glory of God; hence, this service should not have for ultimate end, the pleasing of men. And the freeman, or temporal master, should refer all his actions to the glory of his supreme heavenly Lord.

1 Cor 7:24. Brethren, let every one continue in the state wherein he had been when called to the faith, provided, however, it be such a state as may be persevered in, consistently with the duty which he owes God.

In this verse, the Apostle repeats his former injunction conveyed to them, in 1 Cor 7:20, to remain in the state wherein they had been when called to the faith, provided it be a lawful one, which is the meaning of the words “with God.”

1 Cor 7:25. With reference to virginity, I have no precept from the Lord to propound enjoining its observance, I have only a counsel to propose on the subject; the counsel, however, of a man, who, through the mercy of God, has been called to the exalted office of the Apostleship, to be a faithful expositor of his holy will.

The Apostle now enters on quite a different topic, regarding which, it appears, they consulted him, viz., the subject of the excellence of virginity, and also, whether it was a virtue to be observed by Christians. On this point he, has no precept from the Lord to deliver, but only a counsel of his own.

1 Cor 7:26Favoured, therefore, with a knowledge of God’s will and heavenly counsels for the purpose of faithfully expounding them, I give it as my opinion, that it is an exercise of virtue (or, better) for one to remain a virgin, on account of the pressing necessities of the marriage state.

“The present necessity,” means the great difficulty and the many obstacles which prevent the married man from attending to the concerns of his soul, and from which the unmarried man is comparatively exempt. The words have the same meaning as “tribulation of the flesh” (verse 28). Some Expositors understand them to refer to the straitened and distressed condition of the Church of Corinth at the time. However, the Apostle clearly refers to the worldly solicitude induced by marriage, and as he wrote for all times, his words are as true to-day, and in reference to all states of the Church, as when he wrote this Epistle to the Corinthians; moreover, his reasons for dissuading those already married from the exercise of marriage, and the unmarried from entering that state (1 Cor 7:5), “to give yourselves to prayer” (1 Cor 7:33-34), apply to all times and all circumstances. “That it is good (καλον) for a man,” is but a repetition of words, “it is good,” for emphasis sake.

1 Cor 7:27. While recommending virginity, I by no means wish that persons already engaged in the marriage state, should seek a divorce. All I recommend is, that the unmarried should not engage in marriage.

While recommending virginity, he would by no means be understood to recommend a single state in such a way, as that the married would desert their partners; “bound,” and “loosed” are allusive to the perpetual vinculum induced by marriage; “loosed,” means free to marry. It may regard either those before married, but now free, or those who never engaged in marriage.

1 Cor 7:28. From this it is by no means to be inferred, that to marry is a sin; if a virgin marry, she commits no sin, although by engaging in the marriage state, she and other such shall have to endure the tribulations of the flesh; but I wish to spare you these, by recommending a course which will exempt you from them; viz., a continuance in a state of virginity.

While praising virginity, he maintains against another class of heretics, that marriage is not sinful, but only a less perfect state. “Tribulation of the flesh,” refers to temporal inconveniences and crosses, the solicitude about the world, &c. “I spare you.” These words are interpreted by some to mean, I refrain from recounting these tribulations in detail, in order to spare the feelings of the married, and also, lest I should deter the unmarried from a lawful state. The interpretation in the Paraphrase seems the more probable.

1 Cor 7:29. What I, then, say to all of you, brethren, is this; the term of this life is but short; the consequence should, therefore, be, that those who have wives should be as if they had them not, the term of enjoyment being so very brief.

No commentary is given.

1 Cor 7:30. And those who are sad from enduring tribulations and the crosses of this life, should be like persons neither sad nor weeping; and those who rejoice from prosperity, should not be, in consequence, too much elated; and those who buy and acquire possessions, should be like persons who, having no permanent dominion over earthly goods, merely enjoy their passing use.

“They that buy” should regard themselves not as masters of their possessions, but as merely enjoying their passing use. The precepts of the Old Law, commanding that after the lapse of fifty years the several acquisitions among the Jews should revert to their original owners, was a practical exhortation to that detachment from earthly things here inculcated by the Apostle.

1 Cor 7:31. And those who enjoy the goods of this world should be as persons who indulge not in their immoderate enjoyment; for the outward scene, the external show of this world, quickly passes away.

“Used it not.” The Greek (καταχρωμενος), means, abusing it not.—“For the fashion of this world, &c.” The Greek word for “fashion” (σχημα), means, the outward show of things, the scene of this world. It suggests the idea of a theatrical exhibition, wherein several characters are successively brought upon the stage, and the several acts rapidly succeed each other; so, it is with the world. All its external glory quickly passes away; one actor in human life, one scene quickly succeeds another. The Apostle considers here only the external appearance of the world; for, the substance of this material world shall be changed and transformed into a state suited to the glory of the children of God. Oh! how calculated the serious meditation on the words of the Apostle in this passage is, to inspire us with a salutary detachment from the goods, the honours, the enjoyments, and the pleasures of this life. The world and all its glory are fleeting and transitory; viewed in reference to eternity—to that unchangeable moment of never-ending duration—the longest life is but a mere point; men are but mere actors upon a stage from which they are to be shifted into the imperishable stage of never ending woe or happiness. “For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen, are eternal.”—(2 Cor. 4). How excessive, then, the folly and madness of those who, knowing from faith, that when they die, they shall not take anything with them, nor shall their glory go down with them to the grave, yet still devote their whole time and energies to the amassing of wretched pelf, or to leave behind them an empty name, which shall avail but little in hell. Why not, therefore, seek after the eternal possessions of God? Why continue “dull of heart? Why love vanity, and seek after lying?”—(Psalm 4).

1 Cor 7:32. Now, in dissuading you from entering the marriage state, and in exhorting you to celibacy, I have only in view to free you from all the solicitude that interferes with the concerns of the life to come. The man who is without a wife has all his solicitude centered in the things whereby he may serve God in a most perfect degree.

In this verse, the Apostle assigns a reason for recommending virginity in preference to marriage. “Without solicitude.” He by no means condemns all solicitude, but only the solicitude that interferes with the affairs of salvation. It is clear that the Aposde prefers virginity not simply on account of the exemption it gives us from temporal troubles and uneasiness, but principally on account of the facility it affords us of discharging our duty to God, and gaining eternal life.

1 Cor 7:33. Whereas, the married man has his solicitude centered in the things of this world, his whole anxiety is, how he may best please his wife, and thus his care is divided between his wife and God.

“He is divided.” Is not marriage, therefore, unlawful, since God hates a divided heart?

Resp.—The married Christian is not always divided in heart, in the sinful manner referred to; that is to say, in such a way as to make creatures his ultimate end. It frequently happens that he makes creatures his immediate end, with the danger of ultimately resting in them; but the unmarried man has God always not only for ultimate, but also for immediate end.

1 Cor 7:34The same is equally true of the virgin and married woman. The former is anxious about the things of the Lord, and the service of God, preserving her body free from all carnal defilement and her soul from the least stain of sin; whereas, the latter is distracted by the cares of the world, and by endeavouring to please her husband.

No commentary

1 Cor 7:35Now, in all that I have said in praise of virginity, I had solely for object to promote your spiritual interests; I, by no means, intended to lay a snare for you, by deterring you from embracing a lawful state, and forcing you to embrace the state of virginity which may not suit you. I had solely in view to encourage you to embrace that more perfect state, which will afford you greater facilities of serving God without interruption or restraint.

“To cast a snare,” &c. The Apostle would have laid a snare for them, if by making a precept of that which was merely a counsel, he induced them to embrace a state of virginity, which might be above their strength. From this and the preceding verses it is clear, that the Apostle estimates the advantages of a single state over the married, not so much on account of the exemption it affords from temporal solicitude and anxieties, and as on account of its advantages in a religious point of view.

1 Cor 7:36. If a man thinks himself exposed to ridicule and derision on account of his virgin daughter having passed the flower of her age, and if it must be, that she will marry, he may act as he pleases, he shall not sin, if she marry.

“He sinneth not, if she marry.” In Greek, οὐχ ἀμαρτάνει, γαμειτωσαν, he sinneth not, let them marry, i.e., the girl and her suitor.

1 Cor 7:37. For, he who comes to the steadfast determination, without any necessity to pursue a different course, and having free power to act as he pleases; he, I say, who comes to the determination of preserving his virgin in an unmarried state, does well.

“Having no necessity,” i.e., without being necessitated to adopt a different course, either from motives of conscience, arising from the dispositions of his daughter to marry; or, from the circumstances of the impossibility of disposing of her in marriage, owing to personal deformity, want of means, &c. (for, if he cannot dispose of her, there is no virtue in retaining her in a single state); “having power of his own will,” having free power to act as he pleases. In this passage, the question of retaining the virgin unmarried, or of giving her away, is referred to the will of the father or guardian, because it is their business to arrange such things; for, although the personal will of the virgin herself should be principally consulted, still, it would not be quite consistent with virginal modesty on her part to bring about such arrangements.

1 Cor 7:38. To remove, then, all difficulties on the subject, he who gives his virgin in marriage, does well—marriage being a lawful state—but he who preserves her in a state of virginity does better, virginity being a more perfect state than marriage.

From this verse, it is clear, that, it is in reference to the spiritual concerns of the life to come, the Apostle considers the excellence of the state of virginity; for, otherwise, how could he say, that the man “who gives his virgin in marriage does well,” in reference to exemption from temporal solicitude; when, by the very act of engaging her in marriage, he is involving her in temporal troubles and anxieties? It is needless to argue from this text, in favour of the superior excellence of virginity over marriage. If words have any meaning, they convey this in the clearest form; and hence, as the words of God, dictated by the Holy Ghost, they prove it to demonstration. The words, “doth well,” and “doth better,” uttered absolutely, clearly show the superior excellence of one state of life beyond the other.

1 Cor 7:39. During her husband’s life-time, the woman is bound by the indissoluble tie of the marriage law; but after his death, she is free to marry whom she pleases; he should, however, be a Christian.

It appears that, among other points, the Apostle was consulted about the indissolubility of matrimony. To this point he gives a reply in this verse. “Only in the Lord,” i.e., he ought to be a Christian. Hence, it would appear, that even at this early period, infidelity was at least a prohibent impediment of matrimony.

1 Cor 7:40. But she shall be more happy, by remaining according to my advice, in a single state, in the state of holy widowhood; for, in giving this counsel, I am persuaded that I am following the dictates of God’s spirit.

The Apostle, although perfectly sure that he was under the influence of God’s spirit, still employs the words, “I think,” through a feeling of humility.

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St Augustine’s Second Homily on 1 John (1 Jn 2:12-17)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

1 John 2:12–17.

“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven through His name. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, children, because ye have known the Father. I write5 unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love 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 pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (even as God also abideth for ever).

1. All things that are read from the Holy Scriptures in order to our instruction and salvation, it behoves us to hear with earnest heed. Yet most of all must those things be commended to our memory, which are of most force against heretics; whose insidious designs cease not to circumvent all that are weaker and more negligent. Remember that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ both died for us, and rose again; died, to wit, for our offenses, rose again for our justification.6 Even as ye have just heard concerning the two disciples whom He met with in the way, how “their eyes were holden that they should not know Him:”1 and He found them despairing of the redemption that was in Christ, and deeming that now He had suffered and was dead as a man, not accounting that as Son of God He ever liveth; and deeming too that He was so dead in the flesh as not to come to life again, but just as one of the prophets: as those of you who were attentive have just now heard their own words. Then “He opened to them the Scriptures, beginning at Moses,” and going through all the prophets, showing them that all He had suffered had been foretold, lest they should be more staggered if the Lord should rise again, and the more fail to believe Him, if these things had not been told before concerning Him. For the firmness of faith is in this, that all things which came to pass in Christ were foretold. The disciples, then, knew Him not, save “in the breaking of bread.” And truly he that eateth and drinketh not judgment to himself in the breaking of bread doth know Christ.2 Afterward also those eleven “thought they saw a spirit.” He gave Himself to be handled by them, who also gave Himself to be crucified; to be crucified by enemies, to be handled by friends: yet the Physician of all, both of the ungodliness of those, and of the unbelief of these. For ye heard when the Acts of the Apostles were read, how many thousands of Christ’s slayers believed.3 If those believed afterwards who had killed, should not those believe who for a little while doubted? And yet even in regard of them, (a thing which ye ought especially to observe, and to commit to your memory, because that which shall make us strong against insidious errors, God has been pleased to put in the Scriptures, against which no man dares to speak, who in any sort wishes to seem a Christian), when He had given Himself to be handled by them, that did not suffice Him, but He would also confirm by means of the Scriptures the heart of them that believe: for He looked forward to us who should be afterwards; seeing that in Him we have nothing that we can handle, but have that which we may read. For if those believed only because they held and handled, what shall we do? Now, Christ is ascended into heaven; He is not to come save at the end, to judge the quick and the dead. Whereby shall we believe, but by that whereby it was His will that even those who handled Him should be confirmed? For He opened to them the Scriptures and showed them that it behoved Christ to suffer, and that all things should be fulfilled which were written of Him in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms. He embraced in His discourse the whole ancient text of the Scriptures. All that there is of those former Scriptures tells of Christ; but only if it find ears. He also “opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” Whence we also must pray for this, that He would open our understanding.

2. But what did the Lord show written of Him in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms? What did He show? Let Himself say. The evangelist has put this briefly, that we might know what in all that great compass of the Scriptures we ought to believe and to understand. Certainly there are many pages, and many books; the contents of them all is this which the Lord briefly spake to His disciples. What is this? That “it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again the third day.” Thou hast it now concerning the Bridegroom, that “it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again:” the Bridegroom has been set forth to us. Concerning the Bride, let us see what He saith; that thou, when thou knowest the Bridegroom and the Bride, mayest not without reason come to the marriage. For every celebration is a celebration of marriage: the Church’s nuptials are celebrated. The King’s Son is about to marry a wife, and that King’s Son is Himself a King: and the guests frequenting the marriage are themselves the Bride. Not, as in a carnal marriage, some are guests, and another is she that is married; in the Church they that come as guests, if they come to good purpose, become the Bride. For all the Church is Christ’s Bride, of which the beginning and first fruits is the flesh of Christ: there was the Bride joined to the Bridegroom in the flesh. With good reason when He would betoken that same flesh, He brake bread, and with good reason “in the breaking of bread,” the eyes “of the disciples were opened, and they knew Him.” Well then, what did the Lord say was written of Him in the Law and Prophets and Psalms? That “it behoved Christ to suffer.” Had He not added, “and to rise again,” well might those mourn whose eyes were holden; but “to rise again” is also foretold. And wherefore this? Why did it behove Christ to suffer and to rise again? Because of that Psalm which we especially commended to your attention on the fourth day, the first station, of last week.4 Why did it behove Christ to suffer and to rise again? For this reason: “All the ends of the earth shall be reminded and converted unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Him.”1 For that ye may know that it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again; in this place also what hath He added, that after setting forth the Bridegroom He might also set forth the Bride? “And that there be preached,” saith He, “in His name, repentance and remission of sins throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Ye have heard, brethren; hold it fast. Let no man doubt concerning the Church, that it is “throughout all nations:” let no man doubt that it began at Jerusalem, and hath filled all nations. We know the field where the Vine is planted: but when it is grown we know it not, because it has taken up the whole. Whence did it begin? “At Jerusalem.” Whither has it come? To “all nations.” A few remain: it shall possess all. In the mean time, while it is taking possession of all, it has seemed good to the Husbandman to cut off some unprofitable branches, and they have made heresies and schisms. Let not the branches that are cut off induce you to be cut off: rather exhort ye them that are cut off that they be graffed in again. It is manifest that Christ hath suffered, is risen again, and is ascended into heaven: made manifest also is the Church, because there is “preached in His name repentance and remission of sins throughout all nations.” Whence did it begin? “Beginning at Jerusalem.” The man hears this; foolish and vain, and (how, shall I express it?) worse than blind! so great a mountain, and he does not see it; a candle set upon a candlestick, and he shuts his eyes against it!

3. When we say to them, If ye be Catholic Christians, communicate with that Church from which the Gospel is spread abroad over the whole earth: communicate with that Jerusalem:2 when this we say to them, they make answer to us, we do not communicate with that city where our King was slain, where our Lord was slain: as though they hate the city where our Lord was slain. The Jews slew Him whom they found on earth, these scorn3 Him that sitteth in heaven! Which are the worse; those who despised Him because they thought Him man, or those who scorn the sacraments of Him whom now they confess to be God? But they hate, forsooth, the city in which their Lord was slain! Pious men, and merciful! they much grieve that Christ was slain, and in men they slay Christ! But He loved that city, and pitied it: from it He bade the preaching of Him begin, “beginning at Jerusalem.” He made there the beginning of the preaching of His name: and thou shrinkest back with horror from having communion with that city!4 No marvel that being cut off thou hatest the root. What said He to His disciples? “Sit ye still in the city, because I send my promise5 upon you.” Behold what the city is that they hate! Haply they would love it, if Christ’s murderers dwelt in it. For it is manifest that all Christ’s murderers, i.e., the Jews, are expelled from that city.6 That which had in it them that were fierce against Christ, hath now them that adore Christ. Therefore do these men hate it, because Christians are in it. There was it His will that His disciples should tarry, and there that He should send to them the Holy Ghost. Where had the Church its commencement, but where the Holy Ghost came from heaven, and filled the hundred and twenty sitting in one place? That number twelve was made tenfold. They sat, an hundred and twenty persons, and the Holy Ghost came, “and filled the whole place, and there came a sound, as it were the rushing of a mighty wind, and there were cloven tongues like as of fire.” Ye have heard the Acts of the Apostles: this was the lesson read today:7 “They began to speak with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” And all who were on the spot. Jews who were come from divers nations, recognised each his own tongue, and marvelled that those unlearned and ignorant men had on the sudden learned not one or two tongues, but the tongues of all nations whatsoever. There, then, where all tongues sounded, there was it betokened that all tongues should believe. But these men, who much love Christ, and therefore refuse to communicate with the city which killed Christ, so honor Christ as to affirm that He is left to two tongues, the Latin and the Punic, i.e. African. Christ possess only two tongues! For there are but these two tongues on the side of Donatus, more they have not. Let us awake, my brethren, let us rather see the gift of the Spirit of God, and let us believe the things spoken before concerning Him, and let us see fulfilled the things spoken before in the Psalm: “There are neither speeches nor discourses,8 but their voices are heard among them.9 And lest haply the case be so that the tongues themselves came to one place, and not rather that the gift of Christ came to all tongues, hear what follows: “Into all the earth is their sound gone out, and unto the ends of the world their words.” Wherefore this? Because “in the sun hath He set His tabernacle,” i.e., in the open light. His tabernacle, His flesh: His tabernacle, His Church: “in the sun” it is set; not in the night, but in the day. But why do those not acknowledge it? Return to the lesson at the place where it ended yesterday, and see why they do not acknowledge it: “He that hateth his brother, walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.” For us then, let us see what follows, and not be in darkness. How shall we not be in darkness? If we love the brethren. How is it proved that we love the brotherhood? By this, that we do not rend unity, that we hold fast charity.

4. “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you through His name.”1 Therefore, “little children,”2 because in forgiveness of sins ye have your birth. But through whose name are sins forgiven? Through Augustin’s? No, therefore neither through the name of Donatus. Be it thy concern to see who is Augustin, or who Donatus: no, not through the name of Paul, not through the name of Peter. For to them that divided unto themselves the Church, and out of unity essayed to make parties, the mother charity in the apostle travailing in birth with her little ones, exposeth her own bowels, with words doth as it were rend her breasts, bewaileth her children whom she seeth borne out dead, recalleth unto the one Name them that would needs make them many names, repelleth them from the love of her that Christ may be loved, and saith, “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”3 What saith he? “I would not that ye be mine, that so ye may be with me: be ye with me; all we are His who died for us, who was crucified for us”: whence here also it is said, “Your sins are forgiven you through His name,” not through the name of any man.

5. “I write unto you, fathers.”4 Why first sons? “Because your sins are forgiven you through His name,” and ye are regenerated into a new life, therefore sons. Why fathers? “Because ye have known Him that is from the beginning:” for the beginning hath relation unto fatherhood. Christ new in flesh, but ancient in Godhead. How ancient think we? how many years old? Think we, of greater age5 than His mother? Assuredly of greater age than His mother, for “all things were made by Him.”6 If all things, then did the Ancient make the very mother of whom the New should be born. Was He, think we, before His mother only? Yea, and before His mother’s ancestors is His antiquity. The ancestor of His mother was Abraham; and the Lord saith, “Before Abraham I am.”7 Before Abraham, say we? The heaven and earth, ere man was, were made. Before these was the Lord, nay rather also is. For right well He saith, not, Before Abraham I was, but, “Before Abraham I AM.” For that of which one says, “was,” is not; and that of which one says, “will be,” is not yet: He knoweth not other than to be. As God, He knoweth “to be:” “was,” and “will be,” He knoweth not. It is one day there, but a day that is for ever and ever. That day yesterday and to-morrow do not set in the midst between them: for when the ‘yesterday’ is ended, the ‘to-day’ begins, to be finished by the coming ‘to-morrow.’ That one day there is a day without darkness, without night, without spaces, without measure, without hours. Call it what thou wilt: if thou wilt, it is a day; if thou wilt, a year; if thou wilt, years. For it is said of this same, “And thy years shall not fail.”8 But when is it called a day? When it is said to the Lord, “To-day have I begotten Thee.”9 From the eternal Father begotten, from eternity begotten, in eternity begotten: with no beginning, no bound, no space of breadth; because He is what is, because Himself is “He that Is.” This His name He told to Moses: “Thou shalt say unto them, He that Is hath sent me unto you.”10 Why speak then of “before Abraham”? why, before Noe? why, before Adam? Hear the Scripture: “Before the day-star have I begotten Thee.”11 In fine, before heaven and earth. Wherefore? Because “all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.”12 By this know ye the “fathers:” for they become fathers by acknowledging “That which is from the beginning.”

6. “I write unto you, young men.” There are sons, are fathers, are young men: sons, because begotten; fathers, because they acknowledge the Beginning; why young men? “Because ye have overcome the wicked one.” In the sons, birth: in the fathers, antiquity: in the young men, strength. If the wicked one is “overcome” by the young men, he fights with us. Fights, but not conquers.1 Wherefore? Because we are strong, or because He is strong in us who in the hands of the persecutors was found weak? He hath made us strong, who resisted not His persecutors. “For He was crucified of weakness, but He liveth by the power of God.”2

7. “I write3 unto you,4 children.”5 Whence children? “Because ye have known the Father. I write unto you fathers:” he enforceth this, and repeateth,6 “Because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.” Remember that ye are fathers: if ye forget “Him that is from the beginning,” ye have lost your fatherhood. “I write unto you, young men.” Again and again consider that ye are young men: fight, that ye may overcome: overcome, that ye may be crowned: be lowly, that ye fall not in the fight. “I write unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”

8. All these things, my brethren,—“because we have known That which is from the beginning, because we are strong, because we have known the Father,”—do all these, while they in a manner commend7 knowledge, not commend charity? If we have known, let us love: for knowledge without charity saveth not. “Knowledge8 puffeth up, charity edifieth.”9 If ye have a mind to confess and not love, ye begin to be like the demons. The demons confessed the Son of God, and said, “What have we to do with Thee?”10 and were repulsed. Confess and embrace. For those feared for their iniquities; love ye Him that forgiveth your iniquities. But how can we love God, if we love the world? He prepareth us therefore to be inhabited by charity.11 There are two loves: of the world, and of God: if the love of the world inhabit, there is no way for the love of God to enter in: let the love of the world make way, and the love of God inhabit; let the better have place. Thou lovedst the world: love not the world: when thou hast emptied thine heart of earthly love, thou shall drink in love Divine: and thenceforth beginneth charity to inhabit thee, from which can nothing of evil proceed. Hear ye therefore his words, how he goes to work in the manner of one that makes a clearance. He comes upon the hearts of men as a field that he would occupy: but in what state does he find it? If he finds a wood, he roots it up; if he finds the field cleared, he plants it. He would plant a tree there, charity∙ And what is the wood he would root up? Love of the world. Hear him, the rooter up of the wood! “Love not the world,” (for this comes next,) “neither the things that are in the world; if any man love the world, the12 love of the Father is not in him.”13

9. Ye have heard that “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Let not any say in his heart that this is false, brethren: God saith it; by the Apostle the Holy Ghost hath spoken; nothing more true: “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Wouldest thou have the Father’s love, that thou mayest be joint-heir with the Son? Love not the world. Shut out the evil love of the world, that thou mayest be filled with14 the love of God. Thou art a vessel; but as yet thou art full. Pour out what thou hast, that thou mayest receive what thou hast not. Certainly,15 our brethren are now born again of water and of the Spirit: we also some years ago were born again of water and of the Spirit. Good is it for us that we love not the world, lest the sacraments remain in us unto damnation, not as means of strengthening16 unto salvation. That which strengthens unto salvation is, to have the root of charity, to have the “power of godliness,” not “the form” only.17 Good is the form, holy the form: but what avails the form, if it hold not the root? The branch that is cut off, is it not cast into the fire? Have the form, but in the root. But in what way are ye rooted so that ye be not rooted up? By holding charity, as saith the Apostle Paul, “rooted and grounded in charity.”18 How shall charity be rooted there, amid the overgrown wilderness of the love of the world? Make clear riddance of the woods. A mighty seed ye are about to put in: let there not be that in the field which shall choke the seed. These are the uprooting words which he hath said: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”1

10. “For all that is in the world, is2 the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride3 of life,”4 three things he hath said, which5 are not of the Father, but are of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever, even as He abideth for ever.”6 Why am I not to love what God made? What wilt thou? Whether wilt thou love the things of time, and pass away with time; or not love the world, and live to eternity with God? The river of temporal things hurries one along: but like a tree sprung up beside the river is our Lord Jesus Christ.7 He assumed flesh, died, rose again, ascended into heaven. It was His will to plant Himself, in a manner, beside the river of the things of time. Art thou rushing down the stream to the headlong deep? Hold fast the tree. Is love of the world whirling thee on? Hold fast Christ. For thee He became temporal, that thou mightest become eternal; because He also in such sort became temporal, that He remained still eternal. Something was added to Him from time, not anything went from His eternity. But thou wast born temporal, and by sin wast made temporal: thou wast made temporal by sin, He was made temporal by mercy in remitting sins. How great the difference, when two are in a prison, between the criminal and him that visits him! For upon a time a person comes to his friend and enters in to visit him, and both seem to be in prison; but they differ by a wide distinction. The one, his cause presses down: the other, humanity has brought thither. So in this our mortal state, we were held fast by our guiltiness, He in mercy came down: He entered in unto the captive, a Redeemer not an oppressor. The Lord for us shed His blood, redeemed us, changed our hope. As yet we bear the mortality of the flesh, and take the future immortality upon trust: and on the sea we are tossed by the waves, but we have the anchor of hope already fixed upon the land.

11. But let us “not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. For the things that are in the world, are the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” These three are they: lest haply any man say, “The things that are in the world, God made: i.e. heaven and earth, the sea: the sun, the moon, the stars, all the garniture of the heavens. What is the garniture of the sea? all creeping things. What of the earth? animals, trees, flying creatures. These are ‘in the world,’ God made them. Why then am I not to love what God hath made?” Let the Spirit of God be in thee, that thou mayest see that all these things are good: but woe to thee if thou love the things made, and forsake the Maker of them! Fair are they to thee: but how much fairer He that formed them! Mark well, beloved. For by similitudes ye may be instructed: lest Satan steal upon you, saying what he is wont to say, Take your enjoyment in the creature of God; wherefore made He those things but for your enjoyment? And men drink themselves drunken, and perish, and forget their own Creator: while not temperately but lustfully they use the things created, the Creator is despised. Of such saith the apostle: “They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever.”8 God doth not forbid thee to love9 these things, howbeit, not to10 set thine affections upon them for blessedness, but to approve and praise them to this end, that thou mayest love thy Creator. In the same manner, my brethren, as if a bridegroom should make a ring for his bride, and she having received the ring, should love it more than she loves the bridegroom who made the ring for her: would not her soul be found guilty of adultery in the very gift of the bridegroom, albeit she did but love what the bridegroom gave her? By all means let her love what the bridegroom gave: yet should she say, “This ring is enough for me, I do not wish to see his face now:” what sort of woman would she be? Who would not detest such folly? who not pronounce her guilty of an adulterous mind? Thou lovest gold in place of the man, lovest a ring in place of the bridegroom: if this be in thee, that thou lovest a ring in place of thy bridegroom, and hast no wish to see thy bridegroom; that he has given time an earnest, serves not to pledge thee to him, but to turn away thy heart from him! For this the bridegroom gives earnest, that in his earnest he may himself be loved. Well then, God gave thee all these things: love Him that made them. There is more that He would fain give thee, that is, His very Self that made these things. But if thou love these—what though God made them—and neglect the Creator and love the world; shall not thy love be accounted adulterous?11

12. For “the world” is the appellation given not only to this fabric which God made, heaven and earth, the sea, things visible and invisible: but the inhabitants of the world are called the world, just as we call a “house” both the walls and them that inhabit therein. And sometimes we praise a house, and find fault with the inhabitants. For we say, A good house; because it is marbled and beautifully1 ceiled: and in another sense we say, A good house: no man there suffers wrong, no acts of plunder, no acts of oppression, are done there. Now we praise not the building, but those who dwell within the building: yet we call it “house,” both this and that. For all lovers of the world, because by love they inhabit the world, just as those inhabit heaven, whose heart is on high while in the flesh they walk on earth: I say then, all lovers of the world are called the world. The same have only these three things, “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, vain glory of life.” For they lust to eat, drink, cohabit: to use these pleasures. Not surely, that there is no allowed measure in these things? or that when it is said, Love not these things, it means that ye are not to eat, or not to drink, or not to beget children? This is not the thing said. Only, let there be measure, because of the Creator, that these things may not bind you by your loving of them: lest ye love that for enjoyment, which ye ought to have for use. But ye are not put to the proof except when two things are propounded to you, this or that: Wilt thou righteousness or gains? I have not wherewithal to live, have not wherewithal to eat, have not wherewithal to drink. But what if thou canst not have these but by iniquity? Is it not better to love that which thou losest not, than to lose thyself by iniquity? Thou seest the gain of gold, the loss of faith thou seest not. This then, saith he to us, is “the lust of the flesh,” i.e. the lusting after those things which pertain to the flesh, such as food, and carnal cohabitation, and all other such like.

13. “And the lust of the eyes:” by “the lust of the eyes,” he means all curiosity. Now how wide is the scope of curiosity! This it is that works in spectacles, in theatres, in sacraments of the devil, in magical arts, in dealings2 with darkness: none other than curiosity. Sometimes it tempts even the servants of God, so that they wish as it were to work a miracle, to tempt God whether He will hear their prayers in working of miracles; it is curiosity: this is “lust of the eyes;” it “is not of the Father.” If God hath given the power, do the miracle, for He hath put it in thy way to do it: for think not that those who have not done miracles shall not pertain to the kingdom of God. When the apostles were rejoicing that the demons were subject to them, what said the Lord to them? “Rejoice not in this, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”3 In that would He have the apostles to rejoice, wherein thou also rejoicest. Woe to thee truly if thy name be not written in heaven! Is it woe to thee if thou raise not the dead? is it woe to thee if thou walk not on the sea? is it woe to thee if thou cast not out demons? If thou hast received power to do them, use it humbly, not proudly. For even of certain false prophets the Lord hath said that “they shall do signs and prodigies.”4 Therefore let there be no “ambition of the world:” Ambitio sæculi, is Pride. The man wishes to make much of himself in his honors: he thinks himself great, whether because of riches, or because of some power.

14. These three there are, and thou canst find nothing whereby human cupidity can be tempted, but either by the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. By these three was the Lord tempted of the devil.5 By the lust of the flesh He was tempted when it was said to Him, “If thou be the Son of God, speak to these stones that they become bread,” when He hungered after His fast. But in what way repelled He the tempter, and taught his soldier how to fight? Mark what He said to him: “Not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word of God.” He was tempted also by the lust of the eyes concerning a miracle, when he said to Him, “Cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” He resisted the tempter, for to do the miracle, would only have been to seem either to have yielded, or to have done it from curiosity; for He wrought when He would, as God, howbeit as healing the weak. For if He had done it then, He might have been thought to wish only to do a miracle. But lest men should think this, mark what He answered; and when the like temptation shall happen to thee, say thou also the same: “Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God:” that is, if I do this I shall tempt God. He said what He would have thee to say. When the enemy suggests to thee, “What sort of man, what sort of Christian, art thou? As yet hast thou done one miracle, or by thy prayers have the dead been raised, or hast thou healed the fevered? if thou wert truly of any moment, thou wouldest do some miracle:” answer and say: “It is written, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God:” therefore I will not tempt God, as if I should belong to God if I do a miracle, and not belong if I do none: and what becomes then of His words, “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven”? By “pride of life” how was the Lord tempted? When he carried Him up to an high place, and said to Him, “All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” By the loftiness of an earthly kingdom he wished to tempt the King of all worlds: but the Lord who made heaven and earth trod the devil under foot. What great matter for the devil to be conquered by the Lord? Then what did He in the answer He made to the devil but teach thee the answer He would have thee to make? “It is, written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Holding these things fast, ye shall not have the concupiscence of the world: by not having concupiscence of the world, neither shall the lust of the flesh, nor the lust of the eyes, nor the pride of life, subjugate you: and ye shall make place for Charity when she cometh, that ye may love God. Because if love of the world be there, love of God will not be there. Hold fast rather the love of God, that as God is for ever and ever, so ye also may remain for ever and ever: because such is each one as is his love. Lovest thou earth? thou shalt be earth. Lovest thou God? what shall I say? thou shalt be a god? I dare not say it of myself, let us hear the Scriptures: “I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High.”1 If then ye would be gods and sons of the Most High, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all the things that are in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world:”2 i.e. of men, lovers of the world. “And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever, even as God also abideth for ever.”

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