1. The title of it is, “Unto the end, in behalf of Idithun, a Psalm to David himself.” I recollect that already to you hath been explained what Idithun is (in his presentation of Ps 39, articles 1 & 2, St Augustine indicates that the name Idithun is a name meaning “over-leaping them”).… Let us see how far he hath leaped over, and whom he hath “leaped over,” and in what place, though he hath leaped over certain men, he is situate, whence as from a kind of spiritual and secure position he may behold what is below.… He being set, I say, in a certain fortified place, doth say, “Shall not my soul be subject to God?” (ver. 1). For he had heard, “He that doth exalt himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted:” (Mt 23:12) and fearful lest by leaping over he should be proud, not elated by those things which were below, but humble because of Him that was above; to envious men, as it were threatening to him a fall, who were grieved that he had leaped over, he hath made answer, “Shall not my soul be subject to God?” … “For from Himself is my salvation.” “For Himself is my God and thy salvation, my taker up, I shall not be moved more” (ver. 2). I know who is above me, I know who stretcheth forth His mercy to men that know Him, I know under the coverings of whose wings I should hope: “I shall not be moved more.” …
2. Therefore, down from the higher place fortified and protected, he, to whom the Lord hath been made a refuge, he, to whom is God Himself for a fortified place (Ps 90:1), hath regard to those whom he hath leaped over, and looking down upon them speaketh as though from a lofty tower: for this also hath been said of Him, “A Tower of strength from the face of the enemy” (Ps 61:3): he giveth heed therefore to them, and saith, “How long do ye lay upon a man?” (ver. 3). By insulting, by hurling reproaches, by laying wait, by persecuting, ye lay upon a man burthens, ye lay upon a man as much as a man can bear: but in order that a man may bear, under him is He that hath made man. If to a man ye look, “slay ye, all of you.” Behold, lay upon, rage, “slay ye, all of you.” “As though a wall bowed down, and as a fence smitten against;” lean against, smite against, as if going to throw down. And where is, “I shall not be moved more”? But wherefore? “I shall not be moved more.” Because Himself is God my Saving One, my taker up, therefore ye men are able to lay burdens upon a man; can ye anywise lay upon God, who protecteth man? “Slay ye, all of you.” What is that size of body in one man so great as that he may be slain by all? But we ought to perceive our person, the person of the Church, the person of the Body of Christ. For one Man with His Head and Body is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the Body and the Members of the Body: two in one Flesh (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31), and in one voice, and in one passion, and, when iniquity shall have passed over, in one rest. The sufferings therefore of Christ are not in Christ alone; nay, there are not any save in Christ. For if Christ thou understandest to be Head and Body, the sufferings of Christ are not, save in Christ: but if Christ thou understand of Head alone, the sufferings of Christ are not in Christ alone. For if the sufferings of Christ are in Christ alone, to wit in the Head alone; whence saith a certain member of Him, Paul the Apostle, “In order that I may supply what are wanting of the oppressions of Christ in my flesh”? (Col 1:24) If therefore in the members of Christ thou art, whatsoever man thou art that art hearing these words, whosoever thou art that dost hear these words (but however, thou dost hear, if in the members of Christ thou art): whatsoever thing thou sufferest from those that are not in the members of Christ, was wanting to the sufferings of Christ. Therefore it is added because it was wanting; thou fillest up the measure, thou causest it not to run over: thou sufferest so much as was to be contributed out of thy sufferings to the whole suffering of Christ, that hath suffered in our Head, and doth suffer in His members, that is, in our own selves. Unto this our common republic, as it were each of us according to our measure payeth that which we owe, and according to the powers which we have, as it were a quota of sufferings we contribute. The storehouse of all men’s sufferings will not be completely made up, save when the world shall have been ended.… That whole City therefore is speaking, from the blood of righteous Abel even to the blood of Zacharias (Mt 23:35). Thence also hereafter from the blood of John, through the blood of the Apostles, through the blood of Martyrs, through the blood of the faithful ones of Christ, one City speaketh, one man saith, “How long do ye lay upon a man? Slay ye, all of you.” Let us see if ye efface, let us see if ye extinguish, let us see if ye remove from the earth the name thereof, let us see if ye peoples do not meditate of empty things (Ps 2:1), saying, “When shall She die, and when shall perish the name of Her?” (Ps 41:5) “As though She were a wall bowed down, and a fence smitten against” (Ps 118:13), lean ye against Her, smite against Her. Hear from above: “My taker up, I shall not be moved more:” for as though a heap of sand I have been smitten against that I might fall, and the Lord hath taken me up.
3. “Nevertheless, mine honour they have thought to drive back” (ver. 4). Conquered while they slay men yielding, by the blood of the slain multiplying the faithful, yielding to these and no longer being able to kill; “Nevertheless, mine honour they have thought to drive back.” Now because a Christian cannot be killed, pains are taken that a Christian should be dishonoured. For now by the honour of Christians the hearts of ungodly men are tortured: now that spiritual Joseph, after his selling by his brethren, after his removal from his home into Egypt as though into the Gentiles, after the humiliation of a prison,8 after the made-up tale of a false witness, after that there had come to pass that which of him was said, “Iron passed through the soul of him:”9 now he is honoured, now he is not made subject to brethren selling him, but corn he supplieth to them hungering.10 Conquered by his humility and chastity, uncorruptness, temptations, sufferings, now honoured they see him, and his honour they think to check.… Is it all against one man, or one man against all; or all against all, or one against one? Meanwhile, when he saith, “ye lay upon a man,” it is as it were upon one man: and when he saith, “Slay all ye,” it is as if all men were against one man: but nevertheless it is also all against all, because also all are Christians, but in One. But why must those divers errors hostile to Christ be spoken of as all together? Are they also one? Truly them also as one I dare to speak of: because there is one City and one city, one People and one people, King and king. One City and one city is what? Babylon one, Jerusalem one. By whatsoever other mystical names besides She is called, yet One City there is and one city; over this the devil is king, over that Christ is King.…
4. Give heed, brethren, give heed, I entreat you. For it delighteth me yet to speak a few words to you of this beloved City. For “most glorious things of Thee have been spoken, City of God.”11 And, “if I forget Thee, O Jerusalem, let mine own right hand forget me.”12 For dear is the one Country, and truly but one Country, the only Country: besides Her whatsoever we have, is a sojourning in a strange land. I will say therefore that which ye may acknowledge, that of which ye may approve: I will call to your minds that which ye know, I will not teach that which ye know not. “Not first,” saith the Apostle, “that which is spiritual, but that which is natural,13 afterwards that which is spiritual.”14 Therefore the former city is greater by age, because first was born Cain, and afterwards Abel:15 but in these the elder shall serve the younger.16 The former greater by age, the latter greater in dignity. Wherefore is the former greater by age? Because “not first that which is spiritual, but that which is natural.”17 Wherefore is the latter greater in dignity? Because “the elder shall serve the younger.”18 … Cain first builded a city, and in that place he builded where no city was. But when Jerusalem was being builded, it was not builded in a place where there was not a city, but there was a city at first which was called Jebus, whence the Jebusites. This having been captured, overcome, made subject, there was builded a new city, as though the old were thrown down; and it was called Jerusalem,19 vision of peace, City of God. Each one therefore that is born of Adam, not yet doth belong to Jerusalem: for he beareth with him the offshoot1 of iniquity, and the punishment of sin, having been consigned to death, and he belongeth in a manner to a sort of old city. But if he is to be in the people of God; his old self will be thrown down, and he will be builded up new. For this reason therefore Cain builded a city where there was not a city. For from mortality and from naughtiness every one setteth out, in order that he may be made good hereafter. “For as by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One Man many shall be made just.”2 And all we in Adam do die:3 and each one of us of Adam was born. Let him pass over to Jerusalem, he shall be thrown down old, and shall be builded new. As though to conquered Jebusites, in order that there may be builded up Jerusalem, is said, “Put ye off the old man, and put on the new.”4 And now to them builded in Jerusalem, and shining by the light of Grace, is said, “Ye have been sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord.”5 The evil city therefore from the beginning even unto the end doth run on, and the good City by the changing of evil men is builded up. And these two cities are meanwhile mingled, at the end to be severed; against each other mutually in conflict, the one for iniquity, the other for the truth. And sometimes this very temporal mingling bringeth it to pass that certain men belonging to the city Babylon, do order matters belonging to Jerusalem, and again certain men belonging to Jerusalem, do order matters belonging to Babylon. Something difficult I seem to have propounded. Be ye patient, until it be proved by examples. “For all things” in the old people, as writeth the Apostle, “in a figure used to befall them: but they have been written for our amendment, upon whom the end of the world hath come.”6 Regard therefore that people as also set to intimate an after people; and see then what I say. There were great7 kings in Jerusalem: it is a known fact, they are enumerated, are named. They all were, I say, wicked citizens of Babylon, and they were ordering matters of Jerusalem: all men from thence to be dissevered at the end, to no one but to the devil do belong. Again we find citizens of Jerusalem to have ordered certain matters belonging to Babylon. For those three children, Nabuchodonosor, overcome by a miracle, made the ministers of his kingdom, and set them over his Satraps; and so there were ordering the matters of Babylon citizens of Jerusalem.8 Observe now how this is being fulfilled and done in the Church, and in these times.… Every earthly commonwealth, sometime assuredly to perish, whereof the kingdom is to pass away, when there shall come that kingdom, whereof we pray, “Thy kingdom come;”9 and whereof hath been foretold, “And of His kingdom shall be no end:”10 an earthly commonwealth, I say, hath our citizens conducting the affairs of it. For how many faithful, how many good men, are both magistrates in their cities, and are judges, and are generals, and are counts, and are kings? All that are just and good men, having not anything in heart but the most glorious things, which of Thee have been said, City of God.11 And as if they were doing bond-service12 in the city which is to pass away, even there by the doctors of the Holy City they are bidden to keep faith with those set over them, “whether with the king as supreme, or with governors as though sent by God for the punishment of evil men, but for the praise of good men:13” or as servants, that to their masters they should be subject,14 even Christians to Heathens, and the better should keep faith with the worse, for a time to serve, for everlasting to have dominion. For these things do happen until iniquity do pass away.15 Servants are commanded to bear with masters unjust and capricious: the citizens of Babylon are commanded to be endured by the citizens of Jerusalem, showing even more attentions, than if they were citizens of the same Babylon, as though fulfilling the precept, “He that shall have exacted of thee a mile, go with him other twain.”16 …
5. “I have run in thirst.”17 For they were rendering evil things for good things:18 for them was I thirsting: mine honour they thought to drive back: I was thirsting to bring them over into my body. For in drinking what do we, but send into our members liquor that is without, and suck it into our body? Thus did Moses in that head of the calf.19 The head of the calf is a great sacrament.20 For the head of the calf was the body of ungodly men, in the similitude of a calf eating hay,21 seeking earthly things: because all flesh is hay.22 … And what now is more evident, than that into that City Jerusalem, of which the people Israel was a type, by Baptism men were to be made to pass over? Therefore in water it was scattered, in order that for drink it might be given. For this even unto the end this man thirsteth; he runneth and thirsteth. For many men He drinketh, but never will He be without thirst. For thence is, “I thirst, woman, give Me to drink.”23 That Samaritan woman at the well found the Lord thirsting, and by Him thirsting she was filled: she first found Him thirsting, in order that He might drink her believing. And when He was on the Cross, “I thirst,”1 He said, although they gave not to Him that for which He was thirsting. For for themselves He was thirsting: but they gave vinegar, not new wine, wherewith are filled up the new bottles, but old wine, but old to its loss.2 For old vinegar also is said of the old men, of whom hath been said, “For to them is no changing;”3 namely, that the Jebusites should be overthrown, and Jerusalem be builded.4
6. So also the Head of this body even unto the end from the beginning runneth in thirst. And as if to Him were being said, Why in thirst? what is wanting to Thee, O Body of Christ, O Church of Christ? in so great honour, in so great exaltation, in so great height also even in this world established, what is wanting to Thee? There is fulfilled that which hath been foretold of thee, “There shall adore Him all kings of the earth, all nations shall serve Him.”5 … They that at Jerusalem’s festivals fill up the Churches, at Babylon’s festivals fill up the theatres: and for all they serve, honour, obey Her—not only those very persons that bear the Sacraments of Christ, and hate the commandments of Christ, but also they, that bear not even the mere Sacraments, Heathen though they be, Jews though they be,—they honour, praise, proclaim, “but with their mouths they were blessing.” I heed not the mouth, He knoweth that hath instructed me, “with their heart they were cursing.” In that place they were cursing, where “mine honour they thought to drive back.”
7. What dost Thou, O Idithun, Body of Christ, leaping over them? What dost Thou amid all these things? What wilt Thou? wilt faint? wilt Thou not persevere even unto the end? wilt Thou not hearken, “He that shall have persevered even unto the end, the same shall be saved,”6 though for that iniquity aboundeth, the love of many shall wax cold?7 And where is it that Thou hast leaped over them? where is it that Thy conversation is in Heaven?8 But they cleave unto earthly things, as though earthborn they mind the earth, and are earth, the serpent’s food.9 What dost thou amid these things?… “Nevertheless, to God my soul shall be made subject” (ver. 5). And who would endure so great things, either open wars, or secret lyings-in-wait? Who would endure so great things amid open enemies, amid false brethren? Who would endure so great things? Would a man? and if a man would, would a man of himself? I have not so leaped over that I should be lifted up, and fall: “To God my soul shall be made subject: for from Himself is my patience.” What patience is there amid so great scandals, except that “if for that which we do not see we hope, through patience we look for it”?10 There cometh my pain, there will come my rest also; there cometh my tribulation, there will come my cleansing also. For doth gold glitter in the furnace of the refiner? In a necklace it will glitter, in an ornament it will glitter: let it suffer however the furnace, in order that being cleansed from dross it may come into light. This is the furnace, there is there chaff, there gold, there fire, into this bloweth the refiner: in the furnace burneth the chaff, and the gold is cleansed; the one into ashes is turned, of dross the other is cleansed. The furnace is the world, the chaff unrighteous men, the gold just men; the fire tribulation, the refiner God: that which therefore the refiner willeth I do; wherever the Maker setteth me I endure it. I am commanded to endure, He knoweth how to cleanse. Though there burn the chaff to set me on fire, and as if to consume me; that into ashes is burned, I of dross am cleansed. Wherefore? Because “to God my soul shall be made subject: for from Himself is my patience.”
8. “For Himself is my God and My Saving One, my Taker up, I will not remove hence” (ver. 6). Because “Himself is my God,” therefore He calleth me: “and my Saving One,” therefore He justifieth me: “and my Taker up,” therefore He glorifieth me. For here I am called and am justified, but there I am glorified; and from thence where I am glorified, “I will not remove.” For a sojourner I am with Thee on earth as all my fathers were. Therefore from my lodging I shall remove, from my Heavenly home I shall not remove. “In God is my salvation and my glory” (ver. 7). Saved I shall be in God, glorious I shall be in God: for not only saved, but also glorious, saved, because a just man I have been made out of an ungodly man, by Him justified;11 but glorious, because not only justified, but also honoured. For “those whom He hath predestined, those also He hath called.”12 Calling them, what hath He done here? “Whom He hath called, the same also He hath justified; but whom He hath justified, the same also He hath glorified.” Justification therefore to salvation belongeth, glorifying to honour. How glorifying to honour belongeth, it is not needful to discuss. How justification belongeth to salvation, let us seek some proof. Behold there cometh to mind out of the Gospel: there were some who to themselves were seeming to be just men, and they were finding fault with the Lord because He admitted to the feast sinners, and with publicans and sinners was eating; to such men therefore priding themselves, strong men of earth very much lifted up, much glorying of their own soundness, such as they counted it, not such as they had, the Lord answered what? “They that are whole need not a Physician, but they that are sick.”1 Whom calleth He whole, whom calleth He sick? He continueth and saith, “I have not come to call just men, but sinners unto repentance.”2 He hath called therefore “the whole” just men, not because the Pharisees were so, but because themselves they thought so to be; and for this reason were proud, and grudged sick men a physician, and being more sick than those, they slew the Physician. He hath called whole, however, righteous men, sick, the sinners. My being justified therefore, saith that man that leapeth over, from Himself I have: my being glorified, from Himself I have: “For God is my salvation and my glory.” “My salvation,” so that saved I am: “my glory,” so that honoured I am. This thing hereafter: now what? “God of my help, and my hope is in God;” until I attain unto perfect justification and salvation. “For by hope we are saved: but hope which is seen, is not hope.”3 …
9. “Hope ye in Him, all the council of the people” (ver. 8). Imitate ye Idithun, leap over your enemies; men fighting against you, stopping up your way, men hating you, leap ye over: “Hope in Him all the council of the people: pour out before Him your hearts:”.… By imploring, by confessing, by hoping. Do not keep back your hearts within your hearts: “Pour out before Him your hearts.” That perisheth not which ye pour out. For He is my Taker up. If He taketh up, why fearest thou to pour out? “Cast upon the Lord thy care, and hope in Him.”4 What fear ye amid whisperers, slanderers hateful to God,5 where they are able openly assailing, where they are unable secretly lying in wait, falsely praising, truly at enmity, amid them what fear ye? “God is our Helper.” Do they anywise equal God? Are they anywise stronger than He? “God is our Helper,” be ye without care. “If God is for us, who is against us?”6 “Pour out before Him your hearts,” by leaping over unto Him, by lifting up your souls: “God is our helper.” … “Nevertheless, vain are the sons of men, and liars are the sons of men in the balances, in order that they may deceive, being at one because of vanity” (ver. 9). Certainly many men there are: behold there is that one man, that one man that was cast forth from the multitude of guests.7 They conspire, they all seek things temporal, and they that are carnal things carnal, and for the future they hope them, whosoever do hope: even if because of variety of opinions they are in division, nevertheless because of vanity they are at one. Divers indeed are errors and of many forms, and the kingdom against itself divided shall not stand:8 but alike in all is the will vain and lying, belonging to one king, with whom into fire everlasting it is to be thrown headlong9—“these men because of vanity are at one.” And for them see how the thirsteth, see how He runneth in thirst.
10. He turneth therefore Himself to them, thirsting for them: “Do not hope in iniquity” (ver. 10). For my hope is in God. Ye that will not draw near and pass over, “do not hope in iniquity.” For I that have leapt over, my hope is in God; and is there anywise iniquity with God?10 This thing let us do, that thing let us do, of that thing let us think, thus let us adjust our lyings in wait; “Because of vanity being at one.” Thou thirstest: they that think of those things against thee are given up by those whom thou drinkest, “Do not hope in vanity.” Vain is iniquity, nought is iniquity, mighty is nothing save righteousness. Truth may be hidden for a time, conquered it cannot be. Iniquity may flourish for a time, abide it cannot. “Do not hope upon iniquity: and for robbery be not covetous.” Thou art not rich, and wilt thou rob? What findest thou? What losest thou? O losing gains! Thou findest money, thou losest righteousness. “For robbery be not covetous.” … Therefore, vain sons of men, lying sons of men, neither rob, nor, if there flow riches, set heart upon them: no longer love vanity, and seek lying. For “blessed is the man who hath the Lord God for his hope, and who hath not had regard unto vanities, and lying follies.”11 Ye would deceive, ye would commit a fraud, what bring ye in order that ye may cheat. Deceitful balances. For “lying,” he saith, “are the sons of men in the balances,” in order that they may cheat by bringing forth deceitful balances. By a false balance ye beguile men looking on: know ye not that one is he that weigheth, Another He that judgeth of the weight? He seeth not, for whom thou weighest, but He seeth that weigheth thee and him. Therefore neither fraud nor robbery covet ye any longer, nor on those things which ye have set your hope:12 I have admonished, have foretold, saith this Idithun.
11. What followeth? “Once hath God spoken, these two things I have heard, that power is of God (ver. 11), and to Thee, O Lord, is mercy, for Thou shalt render to each one after his works” (ver. 12).… “Once hath God spoken.” What sayest thou, Idithun? If thou that hadst leapt over them art saying, “Once He hath spoken;” I turn to another Scripture and it saith to me, “In many quarters and in many ways formerly God hath spoken to the fathers in the prophets.”1 What is, “Once hath God spoken”? Is He not the God that in the beginning of mankind spake to Adam?2 Did not the Selfsame speak to Cain, to Noe, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to all the Prophets, and to Moses?3 One man Moses was, and how often to him spake God? Behold even to one man, not once but ofttimes God hath spoken. Secondly, He hath spoken to the Son when standing here, “Thou art My beloved Son.”4 God hath spoken to the Apostles, He hath spoken to all the Saints, even though not with voice sounding through the cloud, nevertheless in the heart where He is Himself Teacher.5 What is therefore, “Once hath God spoken”? Much hath that man leapt over in order to arrive at that place, where once God hath spoken. Behold briefly I have spoken to your Love. Here among men, to men ofttimes, in many ways, in many quarters, through creatures of many forms God hath spoken: by Himself once God hath spoken, because One Word God hath begotten.… For it could not be but that God did Himself know that which by the Word He made:6 but if that which He made He knew, in Him there was that which was made before it was made. For if in Him was not that which was made before it was made, how knew He that which He made? For thou canst not say that God made things He knew not. God therefore hath known that which He hath made. And how knew He before He made, if there cannot be known any but things made? But by things made there cannot be known any but things previously made, by thee, to wit, who art a man made in a lower place, and set in a lower place: but before that all these things were made, they were known by Him by whom they were made, and that which He knew He made. Therefore in that Word by which He made all things, before that they were made, were all things; and after they have been made there are all things; but in one way here, in another there, in one way in their own nature wherein they have been made, in another in the art by which they have been made. Who could explain this? We may endeavour: go ye with Idithun, and see.
12. … For even the Lord saith, “Many things I have to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now.”7 What is therefore, “These two things I, have heard”? These two things which to you I am about to say not of myself to you I say, but what things I have heard I say. “Once hath God spoken:” One Word hath He, the Only-begotten God. In that Word are all things, because by the Word were made all things. One Word hath He, “in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.”8 One Word He hath, “once hath God spoken.” “These two things,” which to you I am about to say, these I have heard: not of myself I speak, not of myself I say: to this belongeth the “I have heard.”9 But the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him, that he may speak the truth. For he heareth Him, lest by speaking a lie, of his own he should speak:10 lest thou shouldest say, Who art thou that sayest this thing to me? whence dost thou say this to me? I have heard these two things, and I that speak to thee that I have heard these two things, am one who also doth know that once God hath spoken. Do not despise a hearer saying to thee certain two things for thee so necessary; him, I say, that by leaping over the whole creation hath attained unto the Only-begotten Word of God, where he hath learned that “once God hath spoken.”
13. Let him therefore now say certain two things. For greatly to us belong these two things. “For power is of God, and to Thee, O Lord, is mercy.” Are these the two things, power and mercy? These two evidently: perceive ye the power of God, perceive ye the mercy of God. In these two things are contained nearly all the Scriptures. Because of these two things are the Prophets, because of these two, the Patriarchs, because of these the Law, because of these Himself our Lord Jesus Christ, because of these the Apostles, because of these all the preaching and spreading of the word of God in the Church, because of these two, because of the power of God, and His mercy. His power fear ye, His mercy love ye. Neither so on His mercy rely, as that His power ye despise: nor so the power fear ye, as that of mercy ye despair. With Him is power, with Him mercy. This man He humbleth, and that man He exalteth:11 this man He humbleth with power, that man He exalteth in mercy. “For if God, willing to show wrath and to prove His power, hath in much patience borne with the vessels of wrath, which have been perfected unto perdition12”—thou hast heard of power: inquire for mercy—“and that He might make known,” He saith, “His riches unto the vessels of mercy.” It belongeth therefore to His power to condemn unjust men. And to Him who would say, What hast thou done? “For thou, O man, who art thou that should make answer to God?”13 Fear therefore and tremble at His power: but hope for His mercy. The devil is a sort of power; ofttimes however he wisheth to hurt, and is not able, because that power is under power. For if the devil could hurt as much as he would; no one of just men would remain, nor could any one of the faithful be on earth. The same through his vessels smiteth against, as it were, a wall bowed down: but he only smiteth against, so far as he receiveth power. But in order that the wall may not fall, the Lord will support: for He that giveth power to the tempter, doth Himself to the tempted extend mercy. For according to measure the devil is permitted to tempt. And, “Thou wilt give us to drink in tears in a measure.”1 Do not therefore fear the tempter permitted to do somewhat: for thou hast a most merciful Saviour. So much he is permitted to tempt as is profitable for thee, that thou mayest be exercised, mayest be proved; in order that by thyself thou mayest be found out, that knowest not thyself. For where, or from whence, ought we to be secure, except by this power and mercy of God? After that Apostolic saying, “Faithful is God, that doth not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able.”2 … Fear not the enemy: so much he doeth as he hath received power to do, Him fear thou that hath the chief power: Him fear, that doeth as much as He willeth, and that doeth nothing unjustly, and whatever He shall have done, is just. We might suppose something or other to be unjust: inasmuch as God hath done it, believe it to be just.
14. Therefore, thou sayest, if any one slay an innocent man, doeth he justly or unjustly? Unjustly certainly. Wherefore doth God permit this?… The counsel of God to tell to thee, O man, I am not able: this thing however I say, both that the man hath done unjustly that hath slain an innocent person, and that it would not have been done unless God permitted it: and though the man hath done unjustly, yet God hath not unjustly permitted this. Let the reason lie concealed in that person whoever it be, for whose sake thou art moved, whose innocence doth much move thee. For to thee speedily I might make answer. He would not have been slain unless he were guilty: but thou thinkest him innocent. I might speedily say this to thee. For thou couldest not examine his heart, sift his deeds, weigh his thoughts, so that thou couldest say to me, unjustly he was slain. I might easily therefore make answer: but there is forced upon my view a certain Just One, without dispute just, without doubt just, who had no sin, slain by sinners, betrayed by a sinner; Himself Christ the Lord, of whom we cannot say that He hath any iniquity, for “those things which He robbed not He paid,”3 is made an objection to my answer. And why should I speak of Christ? “With thee I am dealing,” thou sayest. And I with thee. About Him thou proposest a question, about Him I am solving the question. For therein the counsel of God we know, which except by His own revealing we should not know: so that when thou shalt have found out that counsel of God, whereby He hath permitted His innocent Son to be slain by unjust men, and such a counsel as pleaseth thee, and such a counsel as cannot displease thee, if thou art just, thou mayest believe that in other things also by His counsel God doeth the same, but it escaped thee. Ah! brethren, need there was of the blood of a just one to blot out the handwriting of sins; need there was of an example of patience, of an example of humility; need there was of the Sign of the Cross to beat down the devil and his angels; need for us there was of the Passion of our Lord; for by the Passion of the Lord redeemed hath been the world. How many good things hath the Passion of the Lord done! And yet the Passion of this Just One would not have been, unless unrighteous men had slain the Lord. What then? is this good thing which to us hath been granted by the Lord’s Passion to be ascribed to the unjust slayers of Christ? Far be it. They willed, God permitted. They guilty would have been, even if only they had willed it: but God would not have permitted it, unless just it had been.… Accordingly, my brethren, both Judas the foul traitor to Christ, and the persecutors of Christ, malignant all, ungodly all, unjust all, are to be condemned all: and nevertheless the Father His own proper Son hath not spared, but for the sake of us all He hath delivered Him up.4 Order if thou art able; distinguish if thou art able (these things): render to God thy vows, which thy lips have uttered: see what the unjust hath here done, what the Just One. The one hath willed, the Other hath permitted: the one unjustly hath willed, the Other justly hath permitted. Let unjust will be condemned, just permission be glorified. For what evil thing hath befallen Christ, in that Christ hath died? Both evil were they that evil willed to do, and yet nothing of evil did He suffer on whom they did it. Slain was mortal flesh, slaying death by death, giving a lesson of patience, sending before an example of Resurrection. How great good things of the Just One were wrought by the evil things of the unjust! This is the great mystery5 of God: that even a good thing which thou doest He hath Himself given it to thee, and by thy evil He doeth good Himself. Do not therefore wonder, God permitteth, and in judgment permitteth: He permitteth, and in measure, number, weight, He permitteth. With Him is not iniquity:6 do thou only belong to Him; on Himself thy hope set thou, let Himself be thy Helper, thy Salvation: in Him be there the fortified place, the tower of strength,1 thy refuge let Himself be, and He will not suffer thee to be tempted above that which thou art able to bear, but will make with the temptation also an escape, that thou mayest be able to support it:2 so that His suffering thee to bear temptation, be His power; His suffering not any more on thee to be done than thou art able to bear, be His mercy: “for power is of God, and to Thee, O Lord, is mercy, because Thou wilt render to each one after his works.”
15. That thirst of the Church, would fain drink up that man also whom ye see.3 At the same time also, in order that ye may know how many in the mixed multitude of Christians with their mouth do bless, and in their heart curse, this man having been a Christian and a believer returneth as a penitent, and being terrified by the power of the Lord, turneth him to the mercy of the Lord. For having been led astray by the enemy when he was a believer, long time he hath been an astrologer, led astray, leading astray, deceived, deceiving, he hath allured, hath beguiled, many lies he hath spoken against God, That hath given to men power of doing that which is good, and of not doing that which is evil. He used to say, that one’s own will did not adultery, but Venus; one’s own will did not manslaying, but Mars; and God did not what is just, but Jupiter; and many other blasphemous things, and not light ones. From how many Christians do ye think he hath pocketed money? How many from him have bought a lie, to whom we used to say, “Sons of men, how long are ye dull of heart, wherefore love ye vanity, and seek a lie”?4 Now, as of him must be believed, he hath shuddered at his lie, and being the allurer of many men, he hath perceived at length that by the devil he hath himself been allured, and he turneth to God a penitent. We think, brethren, that because of great fear of heart it hath come to pass. For what must we say? If out of a heathen an astrologer were converted, great indeed would be the joy: but nevertheless it might appear, that, if he had been converted, he was desiring the clerical office in the Church. A penitent he is, he seeketh not anything save mercy alone. He must be recommended therefore both to your eyes and hearts. Him whom ye see in hearts love ye, with eyes guard ye. See ye him, mark ye him, and whithersoever he shall have gone his way, to the rest of the brethren that now are not here, point him out: and such diligence is mercy; lest that leader astray drag back5 his heart and take it by storm. Guard ye him, let there not escape you his conversation, his way: in order that by your testimony it may be proved to us that truly to the Lord he hath been turned. For report will not be silent about his life, when to you he is thus presented both to be seen and to be pitied. Ye know in the Acts of the Apostles how it is written, that many lost men, that is, men of such arts, and followers of naughty doctrines, brought unto the Apostles all their books; and there were burned so many volumes, that it was the writer’s task to make a valuation of them, and write down the sum of the price.6 This truly was for the glory of God, in order that even such lost men might not be despaired of by Him that knew how to seek that which had been lost. Therefore this man had been lost, is now sought, found,7 led hither, he bringeth with him books to be burned, by which he had been to be burned, so that when these have been thrown into the fire, he may himself pass over into a place of refreshment. Know ye that he, brethren, once knocked at the Church door before Easter:8 for before Easter he began to ask of the Church Christ’s medicine. But because the art wherein he had been practised is of such sort as that it was suspected of lying and deceit, he was put off that he might not tempt; at length however he was admitted, that he might not more dangerously be tempted. Pray for him through Christ. Straightway to-day’s prayer pour out for him to the Lord our God. For we know and are sure, that your prayer effaceth all his impieties. The Lord be with you.
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 54 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 27 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 52 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 90 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 149 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- Saint Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 77 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 149 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St John Chrysostom’s Homily on Philemon 9-19 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 132 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)