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19

Tractate III.

Chapter I. 15–18

We undertook, in the name of the Lord, and promised to you, beloved, to treat of that grace and truth of God, full of which the only-begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, appeared to the saints, and to show how, as a matter belonging to the New Testament, it is to be distinguished from the Old Testament. Give, then, your attention that what I receive in my measure from God you in your measure may receive and hear the same. For it will only remain if, when the seed is scattered in your hearts, the birds take it not away, nor thorns choke it, nor heat scorch it, and there descend upon it the rain of daily exhortations and your own good thoughts, by which that is done in the heart which in the field is done by means of harrows, so that the clod is broken, and the seed covered and enabled to germinate: that you bear fruit at which the husbandman may be glad and rejoice. But if, in return for good seed and good rain, you bring forth not fruit but thorns, the seed will not be blamed, nor will the rain be in fault; but for thorns due fire is prepared.4343     Matt. xiii. 3–25.

2. I do not think that I need spend much time in endeavoring to persuade you that we are Christian men; and if Christians, by virtue of the name, belonging to Christ. Upon the forehead we bear His sign; and we do not blush because of it, if we also bear it in the heart. His sign is His humility. By a star the Magi knew Him;4444     Matt. ii. 2. and this sign was given by the Lord, and it was heavenly and beautiful. He did not desire that a star should be His sign on the forehead of the faithful, but His cross. By it humbled, by it also glorified; by it He raised the humble, even by that to which He, when humbled, descended. We belong, then, to the gospel, we belong to the New Testament. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” We ask the apostle, and he says to us, since we are not under the law but under grace.4545     Rom. vi. 14. “He sent therefore His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”4646     Gal. iv. 4, 5. Behold, for this end Christ came, that He might redeem those who were under the law; that now we may not be under the law, but under grace. Who, then, gave the law? He gave the law who gave likewise grace; but the law He sent by a servant, with grace He Himself came down. And in what manner were men made under the law? By not fulfilling the law. For he who fulfills the law is not under the law, but with the law; but he who is under the law is not raised up, but pressed down by the law. All men, therefore, being placed under the law, are by the law made guilty; and for this purpose it is over their head, that it may show sins, not take them away. The law then commands, the Giver of the law showeth pity in that which the law commands. Men, endeavoring by their own strength to fulfill that which the law commands, fell by their own rash and headstrong presumption; and not with the law, but under the law, became guilty: and since by their own strength they were unable to fulfill the law, and were become guilty under the law, they implored the aid of the Deliverer; and the guilt which the law brought caused sickness to the proud. The sickness of the proud became the confession of the humble. Now the sick confess that they are sick; let the physician come to heal the sick.

3. Who is the Physician? Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who is our Lord Jesus Christ? He who was seen even by those by whom He was crucified. He who was seized, buffeted, scourged, spit upon, crowned with thorns, suspended upon the cross, died, pierced by the spear, taken down from the cross, laid in the sepulchre. That same Jesus Christ our Lord, that same Jesus exactly, He is the complete Physician of our wounds. That crucified One at whom insults were cast, and while He hung on the cross His persecutors wagging the head, and saying, “If he be the Son of God, let him come down from the cross,”4747     Matt. xxvii. 39, 40. —He, and no other, is our complete Physician. Wherefore, then, did He not show to his deriders that He was the Son of God; so that if He allowed Himself to be lifted up upon the cross, at least when they said, “If he be the Son of God, let him come down from the cross,” He should then come down, and show to them that He was the very Son of God whom they had dared to deride? He would not. Wherefore would He not? Was it because He could not? Manifestly 20He could. For which is greater, to descend from the cross or to rise from the sepulchre? But He bore with His insulters; for the cross was taken not as a proof of power, but as an example of patience. There He cured thy wounds, where He long bore His own; there He healed thee of death eternal, where He vouchsafed to die the temporal death. And did He die, or in Him did death die? What a death was that, which slew death!

4. Is it, however, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself—His whole self—who was seen, and held, and crucified? Is the whole very self that? It is the same, but not the whole, that which the Jews saw; this is not the whole Christ. And what is? “In the beginning was the Word.” In what beginning? “And the Word was with God.” And what word? “And the Word was God.” Was then perhaps this Word made by God? No. For “the same was in the beginning with God.” What then? Are the other things which God made not like unto the Word? No: because “all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.” In what manner were all things made by Him? Because “that which was made in Him was life;” and before it was made there was life. That which was made is not life; but in the art, that is, in the wisdom of God, before it was made, it was life. That which was made passes away; that which is in wisdom cannot pass away. There was life, therefore, in that which was made. And what sort of life, since the soul also is the life of the body? Our body has its own life; and when it has lost it, the death of the body ensues. Was then the life such as this? No; but “the life was the light of men.” Was it the light of cattle? For this light is the light of men and of cattle. There is a certain light of men: let us see how far men differ from the cattle, and then we shall understand what is the light of men. Thou dost not differ from the cattle except in intellect; do not glory in anything besides. Dost thou presume upon thy strength? By the wild beasts thou art surpassed. Upon thy swiftness dost thou presume? By the flies thou art surpassed. Upon thy beauty dost thou presume? How great beauty is there in the feathers of a peacock! Wherein then art thou better? In the image of God. Where is the image of God? In the mind, in the intellect. If then thou art in this respect better than the cattle, that thou hast a mind by which thou mayest understand what the cattle cannot understand; and therein a man, because better than the cattle; the light of men is the light of minds. The light of minds is above minds and surpasses all minds. This was that life by which all things were made.

5. Where was it? Was it here? was it with the Father, and was it not here? or, what is more true, was it both with the Father and here also? If then it was here, wherefore was it not seen? Because “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” Oh men, be not darkness, be not unbelieving, unjust, unrighteous, rapacious, avaricious lovers of this world: for these are the darkness. The light is not absent, but you are absent from the light. A blind man in the sunshine has the sun present to him, but is himself absent from the sun. Be ye not then darkness. For this is perhaps the grace regarding which we are about to speak, that now we be no more darkness, and that the apostle may say to us, “We were sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord.”4848     Eph. v. 8. Because then the light of men was not seen, that is, the light of minds, there was a necessity that a man should give testimony regarding the light, who was not in darkness, but who was already enlightened; and nevertheless, because enlightened, not the light itself, “but that He might bear witness of the light.” For “he was not that light.” And what was the light? “That was the true light which enlightened every man that cometh into the world.” And where was that light? “In this world it was.” And how was it “in this world?” As the light of the sun, of the moon, and of lamps, was that light thus in the world? No. Because “the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not;” that is to say, “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” For the world is darkness; because the lovers of the world are the world. For did not the creature acknowledge its Creator? The heavens gave testimony by a star;4949     Matt. ii. 2. the sea gave testimony, and bore its Lord when He walked upon it;5050     Matt. xiv. 26. the winds gave testimony, and were quiet at His bidding;5151     Matt. xxiii. 27. the earth gave testimony, and trembled when He was crucified.5252     Matt. xxvii. 51. If all these gave testimony, in what sense did the world not know Him, unless that the world signifies the lovers of the world, those who with their hearts dwell in the world? And the world is evil, because the inhabitants of the world are evil; just as a house is evil, not because of its walls, but because of its inhabitants.

6. “He came unto His own;” that is to say, He came to that which belonged to Himself; “and His own received Him not.” What, then, is the hope, unless that “as many 21as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God”? If they become sons, they are born; if born, how are they born? Not of flesh, “nor of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; but of God are they born.” Let them rejoice, therefore, that they are born of God; let them believe that they are born of God; let them receive the proof that they are born of God: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” If the Word was not ashamed to be born of man, are men ashamed to be born of God? And because He did this, He cured us; and because He cured us, we see. For this, “that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” became a medicine unto us, so that as by earth we were made blind, by earth we might be healed; and having been healed, might behold what? “And we beheld,” he says, “His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

7. “John beareth witness of Him, and crieth, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is made before me.” He came after me, and He preceded me. What is it, “He is made before me”? He preceded me. Not was made before I was made, but was preferred before me, this is “He was made before me.” Wherefore was He made before thee, when He came after thee? “Because He was before me.” Before thee, O John! what great thing to be before thee! It is well that thou dost bear witness to Him; let us, however, hear Himself saying, “Even before Abraham, I am.”5353     John viii. 58. But Abraham also was born in the midst of the human race: there were many before him, many after him. Listen to the voice of the Father to the Son: “Before Lucifer I have begotten Thee.”5454     Ps. cx. 3.—Vulgate. He who was begotten before Lucifer Himself illuminates all. A certain one was named Lucifer, who fell; for he was an angel and became a devil; and concerning him the Scripture said, “Lucifer, who did arise in the morning, fell.”5555     Isa. xiv. 27. And why was he Lucifer? Because, being enlightened, he gave forth light. But for what reason did he become dark! Because he abode not in the truth.5656     John viii. 44. Therefore He was before Lucifer, before every one that is enlightened; since before every one that is enlightened, of necessity He must be by whom all are enlightened who can be enlightened.

8. Therefore this follows: “And of His fullness have all we received.” What have ye received? “And grace for grace.” For so run the words of the Gospel, as we find by a comparison of the Greek copies. He does not say, And of His fullness have all we received grace for grace; but thus He says: “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace,”—that is, have we received; so that He would wish us to understand that we have received from His fullness something unexpressed, and something besides, grace for grace. For we received of His fullness grace in the first instance; and again we received grace, grace for grace. What grace did we, in the first instance, receive? Faith: walking in faith, we walk in grace. How have we merited this? by what previous merits of ours? Let not each one flatter himself, but let him return into his own conscience, seek out the secret places of his own thoughts, recall the series of his deeds; let him not consider what he is if now he is something, but what he was that he might be something: he will find that he was not worthy of anything save punishment. If, then, thou wast worthy of punishment, and He came not to punish sins, but to forgive sins, grace was given to thee, and not reward rendered. Wherefore is it called grace? Because it is bestowed gratuitously. For thou didst not, by previous merits, purchase that which thou didst receive. This first grace, then, the sinner received, that his sins were forgiven. What did he deserve? Let him interrogate justice, he finds punishment; let him interrogate mercy, he finds grace. But God promised this also through the prophets; therefore, when He came to give what He had promised, He not only gave grace, but also truth. How was truth exhibited? Because that was done which had been promised.

9. What, then, is “grace for grace”? By faith we render God favorable to us; and inasmuch as we were not worthy to have our sins forgiven, and because we, who were unworthy, received so great a benefit, it is called grace. What is grace? That which is freely given. What is “freely given”? Given, not paid. If it was due, wages were given, not grace bestowed; but if it was reply due, thou wast good; but if, as is true, thou wast evil, but didst believe on Him who justifieth the ungodly5757     Rom. iv. 5. (What is, Who justifieth the ungodly? Of the ungodly maketh pious), consider what did by right hang over thee by the law, and what thou hast obtained by grace. But having obtained that grace of faith, thou shalt be just by faith (for the just lives by faith);5858     Hab. ii. 4; Rom. i. 17. and thou shalt obtain favor of God by living by faith. And having obtained favor from God by living by faith, 22thou shalt receive immortality as a reward, and life eternal. And that is grace. For because of what merit dost thou receive life eternal? Because of grace. For if faith is grace, life eternal is, as it were, the wages of faith: God, indeed, appears to bestow eternal life as if it were due (To whom due? To the faithful, because he had merited it by faith); but because faith itself is grace, life eternal also is grace for grace.

10. Listen to the Apostle Paul acknowledging grace, and afterwards desiring the payment of a debt. What acknowledgment of grace is there in Paul? “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained,” saith he, “mercy.”5959     1 Tim. i. 13. He said that he who obtained it was unworthy; that he had, however, obtained it, not through his own merits, but through the mercy of God. Listen to him now demanding the payment of a debt, who had first received unmerited grace: “For,” saith he, “I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” 6060     2 Tim. iv. 6–8. Now he demands a debt, he exacts what is due. For consider the following words: “Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall render unto me in that day.” That he might in the former instance receive grace, he stood in need of a merciful Father; for the reward of grace, of a just judge. Will He who did not condemn the ungodly man condemn the faithful man? And yet, if thou dost rightly consider, it was He who first gave thee faith, whereby thou didst obtain favor; for not of thine own didst thou so obtain favor that anything should be due to thee. Wherefore, then, in afterwards bestowing the reward of immortality, He crowns His own gifts, not thy merits. Therefore, brethren, “we all of His fullness have received;” of the fullness of His mercy, of the abundance of His goodness have we received. What? The remission of sins that we might be justified by faith. And what besides? “And grace for grace;” that is, for this grace by which we live by faith we shall receive another grace. What, then, is it except grace? For if I shall say that this also is due, I attribute something to myself as if to me it were due. But God crowns in us the gifts of His own mercy; but on condition that we walk with perseverance in that grace which in the first instance we received

11. “For the law was given by Moses;” which law held the guilty. For what saith the apostle? “The law entered that the offense might abound.” It was a benefit to the proud that the offense abounded, for they gave much to themselves, and, as it were, attributed much to their own strength; and they were unable to fulfill righteousness without the aid of Him who had commanded it. God, desirous to subdue their pride, gave the law, as if saying: Behold, fulfill, and do not think that there is One wanting to command. One to command is not wanting, but one to fulfill.

12. If, then, there is one wanting to fulfill, whence does he not fulfill? Because born with the heritage of sin and death. Born of Adam, he drew with him that which was there conceived. The first man fell, and all who were born of him from him derived the concupiscence of the flesh. It was needful that another man should be born who derived no concupiscence. A man and a man: a man to death and a man to life. Thus saith the apostle: “Since, indeed, by man death, by man also the resurrection of the dead.” By which man death, and by which man the resurrection of the dead? Do not make haste: he goes on to say, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”6161     1 Cor. xv. 21, 22. Who belong to Adam? All who are born of Adam. Who to Christ? All who were born through Christ. Wherefore all in sin? Because no one was born except through Adam. But that they were born of Adam was of necessity, arising from damnation; to be born through Christ is of will and grace. Men are not compelled to be born through Christ: not because they wished were they born of Adam. All, however, who are of Adam are sinners with sin: all who are through Christ are justified, and just not in themselves, but in Him. For in themselves, if thou shouldest ask, they belong to Adam: in Him, if thou shouldest ask, they belong to Christ. Wherefore? Because He, the Head, our Lord Jesus Christ, did not come with the heritage of sin; but He came nevertheless with mortal flesh.

13. Death was the punishment of sins; in the Lord was the gift of mercy, not the punishment of sin. For the Lord had nothing on account of which He should justly die. He Himself says, “Behold, the prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in me.” Wherefore then dost Thou die? “But that all may know that I do the will of my Father, arise, let us go hence.”6262     John xiv. 30, 31. He had not in Himself any reason why He should die, and He died: thou hast such a reason, and 23dost thou refuse to die? Do not refuse to bear with an equal mind thy desert, when He did not refuse to suffer, to deliver thee from eternal death. A man and a man; but the one nothing but man, the other God-man. The one a man of sin, the other of righteousness. Thou didst die in Adam, rise in Christ; for both are due to thee. Now thou hast believed in Christ, render nevertheless that which thou owest through Adam. But the chain of sin shall not hold thee eternally; because the temporal death of thy Lord slew thine eternal death. The same is grace, my brethren, the same is truth, because promised and manifested.

14. This grace was not in the Old Testament, because the law threatened, did not bring aid; commanded, did not heal; made manifest, but did not take away our feebleness: but it prepared the way for that Physician who was to come with grace and truth; as a physician who, about to come to any one to cure him, might first send his servant that he might find the sick man bound. He was not sound; he did not wish to be made sound and lest he should be made sound, he boasted that he was so. The law was sent, it bound him; he finds himself accused, now, he exclaims against the bandage. The Lord comes, cures with somewhat bitter and sharp medicines: for He says to the sick, Bear; He says, Endure; He says, Love not the world, have patience, let the fire of continence cure thee, let thy wounds endure the sword of persecutions. Wert thou greatly terrified although bound? He, free and unbound, drank what He gave to thee; He first suffered that He might console thee, saying, as it were, that which thou fearest to suffer for thyself, I first suffer for thee. This is grace, and great grace. Who can praise it in a worthy manner?

15. I speak, my brethren, regarding the humility of Christ. Who can speak regarding the majesty of Christ, and the divinity of Christ? In explaining and speaking of the humility of Christ, to do so in any fashion we find ourselves not sufficient, indeed wholly insufficient: we commend Him entire to your thoughts, we do not endeavor to fill Him up to your hearing. Consider the humility of Christ. But who, thou sayest, may explain it to us, unless thou declare it? Let Him declare it within. Better does He declare it who dwelleth within, than he who crieth without. Let Himself show to you the grace of His humility, who has begun to dwell in your hearts. But now, if in explaining and setting forth His humility we are deficient, who can speak of His majesty? If “the Word made flesh” disturbs us, who shall explain “In the beginning was the Word”? Keep hold then, brethren, upon the entireness of Christ.

16. “The law was given by Moses: grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” By a servant was the law given, and made men guilty: by an Emperor was pardon given, and delivered the guilty. “The law was given by Moses.” Let not the servant attribute to himself more than was done through him. Chosen to a great ministry as one faithful in his house, but yet a servant, he is able to act according to the law, but cannot release from the guilt of the law. “The law,” then, “was given by Moses: grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

17. And lest, perhaps, any one should say, And did not grace and truth come through Moses, who saw God, immediately he adds, “No one hath seen God at any time.” And how did God become known to Moses? Because the Lord revealed Himself to His servant. What Lord? The same Christ, who sent the law beforehand by His servant, that He might Himself come with grace and truth. “For no one hath seen God at any time.” And whence did He appear to that servant as far as he was able to receive Him? But “the Only-begotten,” he says, “who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” What signifieth “in the bosom of the Father?” In the secret of the Father. For God has not a bosom, as we have, in our garments, nor is He to be thought of sitting, as we do, nor is He girt with a girdle so as to have a bosom; but because our bosom is within, the secret of the Father is called the bosom of the Father. And He who knew the Father, being in the secret of the Father, He declared Him. “For no man hath seen God at any time.” He then came and narrated whatever He saw. What did Moses see? Moses saw a cloud, he saw an angel, he saw a fire. All that is the creature: it bore the type of its Lord, but did not manifest the presence of the Lord Himself. For thou hast it plainly stated in the law: “And Moses spake with the Lord face to face, as a friend with his friend.”6363     Ex. xxxiii. 11, 13, 20. Following the same scripture, thou findest Moses saying: “If I have found grace in Thy sight, show me Thyself plainly, that I may see Thee.” And it is little that he said this: he received the reply, “Thou canst not see my face.” An angel then spake with Moses, my brethren, bearing the type of the Lord; and all those things which were done by the angel promised that future grace and truth. Those who 24examine the law well know this; and when we have opportunity to speak somewhat of this matter also, we shall not fail to speak to you, beloved brethren, as far as the Lord may reveal to us.

18. But know this, that all those things which were seen in bodily form were not that substance of God. For we saw those things with the eyes of the flesh: how is the substance of God seen? Interrogate the Gospel: “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.”6464     Matt. v. 8. There have been men who, deceived by the vanity of their hearts, have said, The Father is invisible, but the Son is visible. How visible? If on account of His flesh, because He took flesh, the matter is manifest. For of those who saw the flesh of Christ, some believed, some crucified; and those who believed doubted when He was crucified; and unless they had touched the flesh after the resurrection, their faith would not have been recalled. If, then, on account of His flesh the Son was visible, that we also grant, and it is the Catholic faith; but if before He took flesh, as they say, that is, before He became incarnate, they are greatly deluded, and grievously err. For those visible and bodily appearances took place though the creature, in which a type might be exhibited: not in any fashion was the substance itself shown and made manifest. Give heed, beloved brethren, to this easy proof. The wisdom of God cannot be beheld by the eyes. Brethren, if Christ is the Wisdom of God and the Power of God;6565     1 Cor. i. 24. if Christ is the Word of God, and if the word of man is not seen with the eyes, can the Word of God be so seen?

19. Expel, therefore, from your hearts carnal thoughts, that you may be really under grace, that you may belong to the New Testament. Therefore is life eternal promised in the New Testament. Read the Old Testament, and see that the same things were enjoined upon a people yet carnal as upon us. For to worship one God is also enjoined upon us. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” is also enjoined upon us, which is the second commandment. “Observe the Sabbath-day” is enjoined on us more than on them, because it is commanded to be spiritually observed. For the Jews observe the Sabbath in a servile manner, using it for luxuriousness and drunkenness. How much better would their women be employed in spinning wool than in dancing on that day in the balconies? God forbid, brethren, that we should call that an observance of the Sabbath. The Christian observes the Sabbath spiritually, abstaining from servile work. For what is it to abstain from servile work? From sin. And how do we prove it? Ask the Lord. “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”6666     John viii. 34. Therefore is the spiritual observance of the Sabbath enjoined upon us. Now all those commandments are more enjoined on us, and are to be observed: “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honor thy father and thy mother. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”6767     Ex. xx. 3–17. Are not all these things enjoined upon us also? But ask what is the reward, and thou wilt find it there said: “That thine enemies may be driven forth before thy face, and that you may receive the land which God promised to your fathers.”6868     Lev. xxvi. 1–13. Because they were not able to comprehend invisible things, they were held by the visible. Wherefore held? Lest they should perish altogether, and slip into idol-worship. For they did this, my brethren, as we read, forgetful of the great miracles which God performed before their eyes. The sea was divided; a way was made in the midst of the waves; their enemies following, were covered by the same waves through which they passed:6969     Ex. xiv. 21–31. and yet when Moses, the man of God, had departed from their sight, they asked for an idol, and said, “Make us gods to go before us; for this man has deserted us.” Their whole hope was placed in man, not in God. Behold, the man is dead: was God dead who had rescued them from the land of Egypt? And when they had made to themselves the image of a calf, they offered it adoration, and said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which delivered thee out of the land of Egypt.” 7070     Ex. xxxii. 1–4. How soon forgetful of such manifest grace! By what means could such a people be held except by carnal promises?

20. The same things are commanded in the Decalogue as we are commanded to observe; but the same promises are not made as to us. What is promised to us? Life eternal. “And this is life eternal, that they know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”7171     John xvii. 3. The knowledge of God is promised: that is, grace for grace. Brethren, we now believe, we do not see; for faith the reward will be to see what we believe. The prophets knew this, but it was concealed before He came. For a certain lover sighing, says in the Psalms: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will 25I seek after.” And dost thou ask what he seeks? For perhaps he seeks a land flowing with milk and honey carnally, although this is to be spiritually sought and desired; or perhaps the subjection of his enemies, or the death of foes, or the power and riches of this world. For he glows with love, and sighs greatly, and burns and pants. Let us see what he desires: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.” What is it that he doth seek after? “That I may dwell,” saith he, “in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” And suppose that thou dwellest in the house of the Lord, from what source will thy joy there be derived? “That I may behold,” saith he, “the beauty of the Lord.”7272     Ps. xxvi. 4.

21. My brethren, wherefore do you cry out, wherefore do you exult, wherefore do you love, unless that a spark of this love is there? What do you desire? I ask you. Can it be seen with the eyes? Can it be touched? Is it some fairness which delights the eyes? Are not the martyrs vehemently beloved; and when we commemorate them do we not burn with love? What is it that we love in them, brethren? Limbs torn by wild beasts? What is more revolting if thou askest the eyes of the flesh? what more fair if thou askest the eyes of the heart? How appears in your eyes a very fair young man who is a thief? How shocked are your eyes! Are the eyes of the flesh shocked? If you interrogate them, nothing is more shapely and better formed than that body; the symmetry of the limbs and the beauty of the color attract the eyes; and yet, when thou hearest that he is a thief, your mind recoils from the man. Thou beholdest on the other hand a bent old man, leaning upon a staff, scarcely moving himself, ploughed all over with wrinkles. Thou hearest that he is just: thou lovest and embracest him. Such are the rewards promised to us, my brethren: love such, sigh after such a kingdom, desire such a country, if you wish to arrive at that with which our Lord came, that is, at grace and truth. But if you covet bodily rewards from God, thou art still under the law, and therefore thou shalt not fulfill the law. For when thou seest those temporal things granted to those who offend God, thy steps falter, and thou sayest to thyself: Behold, I worship God, daily I run to church, my knees are worn with prayers, and yet I am constantly sick: there are men who commit murders, who are guilty of robberies, and yet they exult and have abundance; it is well with them. Was it such things that thou soughtest from God? Surely thou didst belong to grace. If, therefore, God gave to thee grace, because He gave freely, love freely. Do not for the sake of reward love God; let Him be the reward. Let thy soul say, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the beauty of the Lord.” Do not fear that thine enjoyment will fail through satiety: such will be that enjoyment of beauty that it will ever be present to thee, and thou shalt never be satisfied; indeed thou shalt be always satisfied, and yet never satisfied. For if I shall say that thou shalt not be satisfied, it will mean famine; and if I shall say thou shalt be satisfied, I fear satiety: where neither satiety nor famine are, I know not what to say; but God has that which He can manifest to those who know not how to express it, yet believe that they shall receive.


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