Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of...: Homily VIII
1 John IV. 12–16
“If we love one another, God abideth 2390 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 ofthe 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, 2391 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.” 2392 Did He mean to say this, that whatever good things we do, we should hide them from the eyes of men, 2393 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 thy p. 507 self 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, 2394 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.” 2395 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.” 2396 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 and healed the greatness of the sore. That voice from heaven prostrated the persecutor, and raised up the preacher; killed Saul, and quickened Paul. 2397 For Saul was the persecutor of a holy man; thence had this man his name, when he persecuted the Christians: 2398 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. 2399 Hear that he was made little: “For I am the least of the apostles; 2400 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. 2401
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.” 2402
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.” 2403 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?” 2404 How is it then that John p. 508 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, 2405 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 love 2406 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;” 2407 and again it is said, “The beginning of all sin is pride.” 2408 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.” 2409 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 Gods 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 p. 509 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.” 2410 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. 2411 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. 2412 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 Gods servants the three men, whom it burned not, neither hurt their garments; 2413 and did it not acknowledge the Maccabees? 2414 It acknowledged the Maccabees; it did, my brethren, acknowledge them also. But there was need of a scourge, by the Lords permission: He hath said in Scripture, “He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” 2415 For think ye, my brethren, the iron would have pierced into the vitals 2416 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,” 2417 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;” 2418 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 shalt 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.” 2419 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 p. 510 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.” 2420 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, love 2421 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:” 2422 —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 p. 511 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.” 2423 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 Gods 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, 2424 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.” 2425 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.” 2426 He, this same enemy of thine, is in a manner the instrument 2427 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 p. 512 will dwell in us, and His love will be perfected in us.” 2428 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.” 2429 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.” 2430
13. “And we have seen, and are witnesses, that God hath sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.” 2431 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.” 2432 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.” 2433 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.” 2434 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.” 2435 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. 2436 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.” 2437 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 p. 513 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. 2438 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.
In Augustins time and later, it was the usage of the Latin Churches (derived, as St. Gregory relates lib. ix. Ep. 12, from the Church of Jerusalem) to sing the “Alleluia” on Easter Sunday, and during the whole Quinquagesima, or seven weeks from Easter to Whit-sunday. But it was not everywhere restricted to that time: Aug. Epist. (ad Januar.) 55, 32. Ut Alleluia per solos dies quinquaginta cantetur in Ecclesia, non usquequaque observatur: nam et aliis diebus varie cantatur alibi atque alibi: ipsis autem diebus ubique. Comp. ibid 28. Enarr. in Psa. cvi. sec. 1 where this usage is said to rest upon an ancient tradition: in Psa. cxlviii. sec. 1, and xxi. sec. 24, that it is observed throughout the whole world: Serm. ccx. 8; cclii. 9. S. Hieronym. Præf. in Psa. l. and c. Vigilant. 1 (exortus est subito Vigilantius qui dicat nunquam nisi in Pascha Alleluia cantandum: i.e.,Vig. wished it to be sung only on Easter day).506:2391
In Augustins time and later, it was the usage of the Latin Churches (derived, as St. Gregory relates lib. ix. Ep. 12, from the Church of Jerusalem) to sing the “Alleluia” on Easter Sunday, and during the whole Quinquagesima, or seven weeks from Easter to Whit-sunday. But it was not everywhere restricted to that time: Aug. Epist. (ad Januar.) 55, 32. Ut Alleluia per solos dies quinquaginta cantetur in Ecclesia, non usquequaque observatur: nam et aliis diebus varie cantatur alibi atque alibi: ipsis autem diebus ubique. Comp. ibid 28. Enarr. in Psa. cvi. sec. 1 where this usage is said to rest upon an ancient tradition: in Psa. cxlviii. sec. 1, and xxi. sec. 24, that it is observed throughout the whole world: Serm. ccx. 8; cclii. 9. S. Hieronym. Præf. in Psa. l. and c. Vigilant. 1 (exortus est subito Vigilantius qui dicat nunquam nisi in Pascha Alleluia cantandum: i.e.,Vig. wished it to be sung only on Easter day).506:2392
Matt. vi. 1.506:2393
De Serm. Dom. in Monte, ii. 1, ff., Serm. cxlix. 10–13; De Civ. Dei, v. 14; Enarr. in Ps. lxv. sec 2.507:2394
Quod susum faciens jusum; quod deorsum faciens sursum. Jusum vis facere Deum, et te susum? Infra, x. 8, Jusum me honoras, susum me calcas. Several mss. have sursum deorsum for susum jusum.—Ben. Laud. 116 and 136, and also Bodl. 813, as first written, have susum, jusum.507:2395
Matt. v. 16.507:2396
Gal. i. 22-24.507:2397
Serm. clxviii. 6.507:2398
1 Sam. xix.507:2399
So Serm. ci. 1; clxviii. 7; cclxxix. 5; cccxv. 7; Lib. de Sp. et Litt. vii. sec. 12. But Confess. viii. 4, sec. 9, it is remarked, without reference to the etymology, that the change of name from Saul to Paul was designed to commemorate the conversion of Sergius Paulus, Acts 13:7, 12; Origen Præf. in Ep. ad Rom. “Some have thought that the Apostle took the name of Paulus, the Proconsul, whom at Cypress he had subjected to the faith of Christ: that as kings are wont to assume a title from the nations they have conquered, as Parthicus and Gothicus from Parthians and Goths, so the Apostle took the appellation Paulus from the Paulus whom he had subjugated. Which we do not think is altogether to be set aside.” St. Jerome Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. “As Scipio took the name Africanus as conqueror of Africa, so the Apostle took the name Paulus by way of trophy, &c.”507:2400
1 Cor. 15:9, Eph. 3:8.507:2401
Matt. ix. 20-22.507:2402
Heb. xiii. 1.507:2403
1 John 2:10, 1 John 3:23.507:2404
Matt. v. 46.508:2405
1 Tim. vi. 10.508:2408
Gen. i. 26.509:2410
Ps. xxxii. 9.509:2411
Dan. vi. 22.509:2412
Dan. iii. 50.509:2414
2 Macc. vii.509:2415
Heb. xii. 6.509:2416
Luke xv. 22, stolam primam. S. Aug. de Gen. ad litt. vi. 38. “That first robe is either the righteousness from which man fell, or, if it signify the clothing of bodily immortality, this also he lost, when by reason of sin he could not attain thereto:” and sec. 31. “Why is the first robe brought forth to him, but as he receives again the immortality which Adam lost?” Tertullian: vestem prestinam, priorem: “the former robe, which he had of old…the clothing of the Holy Spirit.” Theophylact. τὴν στολὴν τὴν ἀρχαίαν…τὸ žνδυμα τῆς ἀφθαρσιας, “the original robe, the clothing of incorruption.”509:2418
1 Cor. xv. 44-49.509:2419
1 Cor. vii. 7.510:2420
1 Cor. xiii. 3.510:2421
Matt. v. 6.511:2423
Matt. ix. 12.511:2424
Luke xxiii. 34.511:2426
Heb. xii. 6.511:2427
1 John. iv. 12.512:2429
1 John iv. 13.512:2430
Rom. v. 5.512:2431
1 John iv. 14.512:2432
1 John viii. 24.512:2433
1 Cor. xv. 53.512:2434
1 John iv. 15. [Life; “the Life eternal.”—The Epistle begins and ends with Life, announced and promised (the word occurs thirteen times in the one hundred and ten verses). The intermediate presentation of Love, as the grand efflux from the inner, spiritual life, gives the main theme of St. John, and it is of this that Augustin delights to speak in these discourses.
The life of an intelligent being is in conscious dependence on God. In the fullest sense, “in Him we live.”
Death and life are among the striking contrasts named in the epistle: “the death,” “the life,”—“the death that is truly death, the life that is truly life.”
This life is in Christ. He not only brings it and imparts it, but He is “our Life.” The living and life-giving Christ is manifested in this epistle, and also the death that exists where there is no union, by love, to Him.
The Life, eternal (to distinguish it from the life that now is, the life bounded by sense and time), is not mere prolongation of existence. We must use sensuous images in order to apprehend the idea, but we are to remember that they are not realities in the spiritual order.
The life which Christ gives, enabling men to have life in Him, cannot exist apart from Himself; His seal remains in them, and He abides in them.
The “life eternal,” while future as to its full realization, is present, is begun here and now. “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life,” and its possession is matter of actual knowledge to those who have this life; “we know that we abide in Him and He in us” (1 John v. 13).
It is a life which unites heaven and earth, bringing into this stage of being “the powers of the world to come.”
A life that satisfies, while it enkindles desire and aspiration: it gives strength to bear present ills in the joyous and assured hope of “a life beyond life.”]—J.H.M.512:2435
1 John iv. 16.512:2436
Hom. in Ev. xi. 5.512:2437
Ps. xvi. 2.513:2438
Luke 15:4, 5.
Next: Homily IX
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