St Augustine’s Tractates on John 7:32-39

The Following post contains St Augustine’s Tractates 31 and 32 on the Gospel of John, covering chapter 7, verses 25-39. Augustine’s treatment of today’s reading (verses 32-39) begins at paragraph number 8 of Tractate 31 and continues through the end of Tractate 32.

TRACTATE 31 ON JOHN 7:25-36

1. You remember, beloved, in the former discourses,-for it was both read in the Gospel and also discussed by us according to our ability,-how that the Lord Jesus went up to the feast-day, as it were in secret, not because He feared lest He should be laid hold of,-He who had the power not to be laid hold of,-but to signify that even in that very feast which was celebrated by the Jews He Himself was hidden, and that the mystery of the feast was His own. In the passage read to-day then, that which was supposed to be timidity appeared as power; for He spoke openly on the feast-day, so that the crowds marvelled, and said that which we have heard when the passage was read: “Is not this he whom they sought to kill? And, lo, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the Christ?” They who knew with what fierceness He was sought after, wondered by what power He was kept from being taken. Then, not fully understanding His power, they fancied it was the knowledge of the rulers, that these rulers knew Him to be the very Christ, and that for this reason they spared Him whom they had with so much eagerness sought out to be put to death.

2. Then those same persons who had said, “Did the rulers know that this is the Christ?” proposed a question among themselves, by which it appeared to them that He was not the Christ; for they said in addition, “But we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.” As to how this opinion among the Jews arose, that “when Christ comes, no man knoweth whence He is” (for it did not arise without reason), if we consider the Scriptures, we find, brethren, that the Holy Scriptures have declared of Christ that “He shall be called a Nazarene.”1 Therefore they foretold whence He is. Again, if we seek the place of His nativity, as that whence He is by birth, neither was this hidden from the Jews, because of the Scriptures which had foretold these things. For when the Magi, on the appearing of a star, sought Him out to worship Him, they came to Herod and told him what they sought and what they meant: and he, having called together those who had knowledge of the law, inquired of them where Christ should be born:they told him, “In Bethlehem of Judah,” andalso brought forward the prophetic testimony.2 If, therefore, the prophets had foretold both the place where the origin of His flesh was, and the place where His mother would bring Him forth, whence did spring that opinion among the Jews which we have just heard, but from this, that the Scriptures had proclaimed beforehand, and had foretold both? In respect of His being man, the Scriptures foretold whence He should be; in respect of His being God, this was hidden from the ungodly, and it required godly men to discover it. Moreover, they said this, “When Christ comes, no man knoweth whence He is,” because that which was spoken by Isaiah produced this opinion in them, viz. “And His generation, who shall tell?”3 In short, the Lord Himself made answer to both, that they both did, and also did not know whence He was; that He might testify to the holy prophecy which before was predicted of Him, both as to the humanity of infirmity and also as to the divinity of majesty.

3. Hear, therefore, the word of the Lord, brethren; see how He confirmed to them both what they said, “We know this man whence he is,” and also what they said, “When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is. Then cried Christ in the temple, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not.” That is to say, ye both know me, and ye know me not; ye both know whence I am, and ye know not whence I am. Ye know whence I am: Jesus of Nazareth, whose parents also ye knew. For in this case, the birth of the Virgin alone was hidden, to whom, however, her husband was witness; for the same was able faithfully to declare this, who was also able as a husband to be jealous. Therefore, this birth of the Virgin excepted, they knew all that in Jesus pertains to man: His face was known, His country was known, His family was known; where He was born was to be known by inquiry. Rightly then did He say, “Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am,” according to the flesh and form of man which He bore; but according to His divinity, “And I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not;” but yet that ye may know Him, believe on Him whom He has sent, and ye will know Him. For, “No man has seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him:”4 and, “None knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”5

4. Lastly, when He had said, “But He that sent me is true, whom ye know not,” in order to show them whence they might know that which they did not know, He subjoined, “I know Him.” Therefore seek from me to know Him. But why is it that I know Him? “Because I am from Him, and He sent me.” Gloriously has He shown both. “I am from Him,” said He; because the Son is from the Father, and whatever the Son is, He is of Him whose Son He is. Hence we say that the Lord Jesus is God of God: we do not say that the Father is God of God, but simply God: and we say that the Lord Jesus is Light of Light; we do not say that the Father is Light of Light, but simply Light. Accordingly, to this belongs that which He said “I am from Him.” But as to my being seen of you in the flesh, “He sent me.” When thou hearest “He sent me,” do not understand a difference of nature to be meant, but the authority of Him that begets.

5. “Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come;” that is, because He was not willing. For what is this. “His hour was not yet come”? The Lord was not born under fate. This is not to be believed concerning thee, much less concerning Him by whom thou wast made. If thy hour is His good will, what is His hour but His good will? He meant not therefore an hour in which He should be forced to die, but that in which He would deign to be put to death. But He was awaiting the time in which He should die, for He awaited also the time in which He should be born. The apostle, speaking of this time, says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son.”6 For this cause many say, Why did not Christ come before? To whom we must make answer, Because the fullness of time had not yet come, while He by whom the times were made sets their bounds; for He knew when He ought to come. In the first place, it was necessary that He should be foretold through a long series of times and years; for it was not something insignificant that was to come: He who was to be ever held, had to be for a long time foretold. The greater the judge that was coming, the longer the train of heralds that preceded him. In short, when the fullness of time came, He also came who was to deliver us from time. For being delivered from time, we shall come to that eternity where there is no time: there it is not said, When shall the hour come, for the day is everlasting, a day which is neither preceded by a yesterday, nor cut off by a morrow. But in this world days roll on, some are passing away, others come; none abides; and the moments in which we are speaking drive out one another in turn, nor stands the first syllable for the second to sound. Since we began to speak we are somewhat older, and without doubt I am just now older than I was in the morning; thus, nothing stands, nothing remains fixed in time. Therefore ought we to love Him by whom the times were made, that we may be delivered from time and be fixed in eternity, where there is no more changeableness of times. Great, therefore, is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that for our sakes He was made in time, by whom the times were made; that He was made among all things, by whom all things were made; that He became what He made. For He was made what He had made; for He was made man who had made man, lest what He had made should perish. According to this dispensation, the hour of His birth had now come, and He was born; but not yet had come the hour of His suffering, therefore not yet had He suffered.

6. In short, that ye may know that the words refer, not to the necessity of His dying, but to His power,-I speak this for the sake of some who, when they hear “His hour was not yet come,” are determined on believing in fate, and their hearts become infatuated;-that ye may know, then, that it was His power of dying, recollect the passion, look at Him crucified. While hanging on the tree, He said, “I thirst.” They, having heard this, offered to Him on the cross vinegar by a sponge on a reed. He received it, and said, “It is finished;” and, bowing His head, gave up the ghost. You see His power of dying, that He waited for this-until all things should be fulfilled that had been foretold concerning Him-to take place before His death. For the prophet had said, “They gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”7 He waited for all these things to be fulfilled: after they were completed, He said, “It is finished;” and He departed by power, because He came not by necessity. Hence some wondered more at this His power to die than at His ability to work miracles. For they came to the cross to take the bodies down from the tree, for the Sabbath was drawing near, and the thieves were found still living. The punishment of the cross was so much the harder because it tortured men so long, and all that were crucified were killed by a lingering death. But the thieves, that they might not remain on the tree, were forced to die by having their legs broken, that they might be taken down thence. The Lord, however, was found to be already dead,8 and the men marvelled; and they who despised Him when living, so wondered at Him when dead, that some of them said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”9 Whence also that, brethren, where He says to those that seek Him, “I am He;” and they, going backward, all fell to the ground?10 Consequently there was in Him supreme power. Nor was He forced to die at an hour; but He waited the hour on which His will might fittingly be done, not that on which necessity might be fulfilled against His will.

7. “But many of the people believed on Him.” The Lord made whole the humble and the poor. The rulers were mad, and therefore they not only did not acknowledge the Physician, but even were eager to slay Him. There was a certain crowd of people which quickly saw its own sickness, and without delay recognized His remedy. See what that very crowd, moved by His miracles, said: “When Christ cometh will He do more signs than these?” Surely, unless there will be two Christs, this is the Christ. Consequently, in saying these things, they believed on Him.

8. But those rulers, having heard the assurance of the multitude, and that murmuring noise of the people in which Christ was being glorified, “sent officers to take Him.” To take whom? Him not yet willing to be taken. Because then they could not take Him while He would not, they were sent to hear Him. teaching. Teaching what? “Then said Jesus, Yet a little while I am with you.”What ye wish to do now ye will do, but not just now; because I am not just now willing. Why am I now as yet unwilling? Because “yet a little while I am with you; and then I go unto Him that sent me.” I must complete my dispensation, and in this manner come to my suffering.

9. “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Here He has already foretold His resurrection; for they would not acknowledge Him when present, and afterwards they sought Him when they saw the multitude already believing on Him For great signs were wrought, even when the Lord was risen again and ascended into heaven. Then mighty deeds were done by His disciples, but He wrought by them as He wrought by Himself: since, indeed, He had said to them, “Without me ye can do nothing.”11 When that lame man who sat at the gate rose up at Peter’s voice, and walked on his feet, so that men marvelled, Peter spoke to them to this effect, that it was not by his own power that he did this, but in the virtue of Him whom they slew.12 Many pricked in the heart said, “What shall we do?” For they saw themselves bound by an immense crime of impiety, since they slew Him whom they ought to have revered and worshipped; and this crime they thought inexpiable. A great wickedness indeed it was, the thought of which might make them despair; yet it did not behove them to despair, for whom the Lord, as He hung on the cross, deigned to pray. For He had said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.13 He saw some who were His own among many who were aliens; for these He sought pardon, from whom at the time He was still receiving injury. He regarded not that He was being put to death by them, but only that He was dying for them. It was a great thing that was forgiven them, it was a great thing that was done by them and for them, so that no man should despair of the forgiveness of his sin when they who slew Christ obtained pardon. Christ died for us, but surely He was not put to death by us? But those men indeed saw Christ dying by their own villany; and yet they believed on Christ pardoning their villanies. Until they drank the blood they had shed, they despaired of their own salvation. Therefore said He this: “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, ye cannot come;” because they were to seek Him after the resurrection, being pricked in their heart with remorse. Nor did He say “where I will be,” but “where I am.” For Christ was always in that place whither He was about to return; for He came in such manner that He did not depart from that place. Hence He says in another place, “No man has ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.”14 He said not, who was in heaven. He spoke on the earth, and declared that He was at the same time in heaven. He came in such wise that He departed not thence; and He so returned as not to abandon us. What do ye marvel at? This is God’s doing. For man, as regards his body, is in a place, and departs from a place; and when he comes to another place, he will not be in that place whence he came: but God fills all things, and is all everywhere; He is not held in places according to space. Nevertheless the Lord Christ was, as regards His visible flesh, on the earth: as regards His invisible majesty, He was in heaven and on earth; and therefore He says, “Where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Nor did He say, “Ye shall not be able.” but “ye are not able to come;” for at that time they were such as were not able. And that ye may know that this was not said to cause despair, He said something of the same kind also to His disciples: “Whither I go ye cannot come.”15 Yet while praying in their behalf, He said, “Father, I will that where I am they also may be with me.”16 And, finally, this He expounded to Peter, and says to him, “Whither I go thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me hereafter.”17

10. “Then said the Jews,” not to Him, but “to themselves, Whither will this man go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersion among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” For they knew not what they said; but, it being His will, they prophesied. The Lord was indeed about to go to the Gentiles, not by His bodily presence, but still with His feet. What were His feet? Those which Saul desired to trample upon by persecution, when the Head cried out to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”18 What is this saying that He said, “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?” Wherefore the Lord said this they knew not, and yet they did predict something that was to be without knowing it. For this is what the Lord said that they knew not the place, if place however it must be called, which is the bosom of the Father, from which Christ never departed; nor were they competent to conceive where Christ was, whence Christ never withdrew, whither He was to return, where He was all the while dwelling. How was it possible for the human heart to conceive this, least of all to explain it with the tongue? This, then, they in no wise understood; and yet by occasion of this they foretold our salvation, that the Lord would go to the dispersion of the Gentiles, and would fulfill that which they read but did not understand. “A people whom I have not known served me, and by the hearing of the ear obeyed me,”19 They before whose eyes He was, heard Him not; those heard Him in whose ears He was sounded.

11. For of that Church of the Gentiles which was to come, the woman that had the issue of blood was a type: she touched and was not seen; she was not known and yet was healed. It was in reality a figure what the Lord asked: “Who touched me?” As if not knowing, He healed her as unknown: so has He done also to the Gentiles. We did not get to know Him in the flesh, yet we have been made worthy to eat His flesh, and to be members in His flesh. In what way? Because He sent to us. Whom? His heralds, His disciples, His servants, His redeemed whom He created, but whom He redeemed, His brethren also. I have said but little of all that they are: His own members, Himself; for He sent to us His own members, and He made us His members. Nevertheless, Christ has not been among us with the bodily form which the Jews saw and despised; because this also was said concerning Him, even as the apostle says: “Now I say that Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.20 He owed it to have come to those by whose fathers and to whose fathers He was promised. For this reason He says also Himself: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”21 But what says the apostle in the following words? “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” What, moreover, saith the Lord Himself? “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.22 He who had said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” how has He other sheep to which He was not sent, except that He intimated that He was not sent to show His bodily presence but to the Jews only, who saw and killed Him? And yet many of them, both before and afterwards, believed. The first harvest was winnowed from the cross, that there might be a seed whence another harvest might spring up. But at this present time, when roused by the fame of the gospel, and by its goodly odor, His faithful ones among all nations believe, He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles, when He shall come who has already come; when He shall be seen by all, He who was then not seen by some, by some was seen; when He shall come to judge who came to be judged; when He shall come to distinguish who came not to be distinguished. For Christ was not discerned by the ungodly, but was condemned with the ungodly; for it was said concerning Him, “He was accounted among the wicked.”23 The robber escaped, Christ was condemned. He who was loaded with criminal accusations received pardon; He who has released from their crimes all who confess Him, was condemned. Nevertheless even the cross itself, if thou considerest it well, was a judgment-seat; for the Judge being set up in the middle, one thief who believed was delivered, the other who reviled was condemned.24 Already He signified what He is to do with the quick and the dead: some He will set on His right hand and others on His left. That thief was like those that shall be on the left hand, the other like those that shall be on the right. He was undergoing judgment, and He threatened judgment.

TRACTATE 32 ON JOHN 7:37-39

1. Among the dissensions and doubtings of the Jews concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, among other things which He said, by which some were confounded, others taught: “On the last day of that feast” (for it was then that these things were done) which is called the feast of tabernacles; that is, the building of tents, of which feast you remember, my beloved, that we have already discoursed, the Lord Jesus Christ calls, not by speaking in any way soever, but by crying aloud, that whoso thirsts may come to Him. If we thirst, let us come; and not by our feet, but by our affections; let us come, not by removing from our place, but by loving. Although, according to the inner man, he that loves does also move from a place. But it is one thing to move with the body, another thing to move with the heart: he migrates with the body who changes his place by a motion of the body; he migrates with the heart who changes his affection by a motion of the heart. If thou lovest one thing, and didst love another thing before, thou art not now where thou wast.

2. Accordingly, the Lord cries aloud to us: for, “He stood and cried out, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith., out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” We are not obliged to delay to inquire what this meant, since the evangelist has explained it. For why the Lord said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink;” and, “He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;” the evangelist has subsequently explained, saying: “But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” There is therefore an inner thirst and an inner belly, because there is an inner man. And that inner man is indeed invisible, but the outer man is visible; but yet better is the inner than the outer. And this which is not seen is the more loved; for it is certain that the inner man is loved more than the outer. How is this certain? Let every man prove it in himself. For although they who live ill may surrender their minds to the body, yet they do wish to live, and to live is the property of the mind only; and they who rule, manifest themselves more than those things that are ruled. Now it is minds that rule, bodies are ruled. Every man rejoices in pleasure, and receives pleasure by the body: but separate the mind from it, and nothing remains in the body to rejoice; and if there is joy of the body, it is the mind that rejoices. If it has joy of its dwelling, ought it not to have joy of itself? And if the mind has whereof it may have delight outside itself, does it remain without delights within? It is quite certain that a man loves his soul more than his body. But further, a man loves the soul even in another man more than the body. What is it that is loved in a friend, where the love is the purer and more sincere? What in the friend is loved-the mind, or the body? If fidelity is loved, the mind is loved; if benevolence is loved, the mind is the seat of benevolence: if this is what thou lovest in another, that he too loves thee, it is the mind thou lovest, because it is not the flesh, but the mind that loves. For therefore thou lovest, because he loves thee: ask why he loves thee, and then see what it is thou lovest. Consequently, it is more loved, and yet is not seen.

3. I would say something further, by which it may more clearly appear to you, beloved, how much the mind is loved, and how it is preferred to the body. Those wanton lovers even, who delight in beauty of bodies, and are charmed by shapeliness of limbs, love the more when they are loved. For when a man loves, and finds that he is regarded with hatred, he feels more anger than liking. Why does he feel anger rather than liking? Because the love that he bestows is not given him in return. If, therefore, even the lovers of bodies desire to be loved in return, and this delights them more when they are loved, what shall we say of the lovers of minds? And if the lovers of minds are great, what shall we say of the lovers of God who makes minds beautiful? For as the mind gives grace to the body, so it is God that gives grace to the mind. For it is only the mind that causes that in the body by which it is loved; when the mind has left it, it is a corpse at which thou hast a horror; and how much soever thou mayest have loved its beautiful limbs, thou makest haste to bury it. Hence, the ornament of the body is the mind; the ornament of the mind is God.

4. The Lord, therefore, cries aloud to us to come and drink, if we thirst within; and He says that when we have drunk, rivers of living water shall flow from our belly. The belly of the inner man is the conscience of the heart. Having drunk that water then, the conscience being purged begins to live; and drinking in, it will have a fountain, will be itself a fountain. What is the fountain, and what the river that flows from the belly of the inner man? Benevolence, whereby a man will consult the interest of his neighbor. For if he imagines that what he drinks ought to be only for his own satisfying, there is no flowing of living water from his belly; but if he is quick to consult for the good of his neighbor, then he becomes not dry, because there is a flowing. We will now see what it is that they drink who believe in the Lord; because we surely are Christians, and if we believe, we drink. And it is every man’s duty to know in himself whether or not he drinks, and whether he lives by what he drinks; for the fountain does not forsake us if we forsake not the fountain.

5. The evangelist explained, as I have said, whereof the Lord had cried out, to what kind of drink He had invited, what He had procured for them that drink, saying, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” What spirit does He speak of, if not the Holy Spirit? For every man has in himself a spirit of his own, of which I spoke when I was commending to you the consideration of the mind. For every man’s mind is his own spirit: of which the Apostle Paul says, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of the man which is in himself?” And then he added, “So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”1 None knows the things that are ours but our own spirit. I indeed do not know what are thy thoughts, nor dost thou know what are mine; for those things which we think within are our own, peculiar to ourselves; and his own spirit is the witness of every man’s thoughts. “So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” We with our spirit, God with His: so, however, that God with His Spirit knows also what goes on within us; but we are not able, without His own Spirit, to know what takes place in God. God, however, knows in us even what we know not in ourselves. For Peter did not know his own weakness, when he heard from the Lord that he would deny Him thrice: the sick man was ignorant of his own condition; the Physician knew him to be sick. There are then certain things which God knows in us, while we ourselves know them not. So far, however, as belongs to men, no man knows a man as he does himself: another does not know what is going on within him, but his own spirit knows it. But on receiving the Spirit of God, we learn also what takes place in God: not the whole, for we have not received the whole. We know many things from the pledge; for we have received a pledge, and the fullness of this pledge shall be given hereafter. Meanwhile, let the pledge console us in our pilgrimage here; because he who has condescended to bind himself to us by a pledge, is prepared to give us much. If such is the token, what must that be of which it is the token?

6. But what is meant by this which he says, “For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified?” He is understood to say this in a sense that is evident. For the meaning is not that the Spirit of God, which was with God, was not in being; but was not yet in them who had believed on Jesus. For thus the Lord jesus disposed not to give them the Spirit of which we speak, until after His resurrection; and this not without a cause. And perhaps if we inquire, He will favor us to find; and if we knock, He will open for us to enter. Piety knocks, not the hand though the hand also knocks, if it cease not from works of mercy. What then is the cause why the Lord Jesus Christ determined not to give the Holy Spirit until He should be glorified? which thing before we speak of as we may be able, we must first inquire, lest that should trouble any one, in what manner the Spirit was not yet in holy men, whilst we read in the Gospel concerning the Lord Himself newly born, that Simeon by the Holy Spirit recognized Him; that Anna the widow, a prophetess, also recognized Him;2 that John, who baptized Him, recognized Him;3 that Zacharias, being filled with the Holy Ghost, said many things; that Mary herself received the Holy Ghost to conceive the Lord.4 We have therefore many preceding evidences of the Holy Spirit before the Lord was glorified by the resurrection of His flesh. Nor was it another spirit that the prophets also had, who proclaimed beforehand the coming of Christ. But still, there was to be a certain manner of this giving, which had not at all appeared before. For nowhere do we read before this, that men being gathered together had, by receiving the Holy Ghost, spoken in the tongues of all nations. But after His resurrection, when He first appeared to His disciples, He said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Of this giving then it is said, “The Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. And He breathed upon their faces,”5 He who with His breath enlivened them first man, and raised him up from the clay, by which breath He gave a soul to the limbs; signifying that He was the same who breathed upon their faces, that they might rise out of the mire and renounce their miry works. Then, after His resurrection, which the evangelist calls His glorifying, did the Lord first give the Holy Ghost to His disciples. Then having tarried with them forty days, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles shows, while they were seeing Him and companying with Him, He ascended into heaven in their sight. There at the end of ten days, on the flay of Pentecost, He sent the Holy Ghost from above. Which having received, they, who had been gathered together in one place, as I have said, being filled withal, spoke in the tongues of all nations.

7. How then, brethren, because he that is baptized in Christ, and believes on Him, does not speak now in the tongues of all nations, are we not to believe that he has received the Holy Ghost? God forbid that our heart should be tempted by this faithlessness. Certain we are that every man receives: but only as much as the vessel of faith that he shall bring to the fountain can contain, so much does He fill of it. Since, therefore, the Holy Ghost is even now received by men, some one may say, Why is it that no man speaks in the tongues of all nations? Because the Church itself now speaks in the tongues of all nations. Before, the Church was in one nation, where it spoke in the tongues of all. By speaking then in the tongues of all, it signified what was to come to pass; that by growing among the nations, it would speak in the tongues of all. Whoso is not in this Church, does not now receive the Holy Ghost. For, being cut off and divided from the unity of the members, which unity speaks in the tongues of all, let him declare for himself; he has it not. For if he has it, let him give the sign which was given then. What do we mean by saying, Let him give the sign which was then given? Let him speak in all tongues. He answers me: How then, dost thou speak in all tongues? Clearly I do; for every tongue is mine, namely, of the body of which I am a member. The Church, spread among the nations, speaks in all tongues; the Church is the body of Christ, in this body thou art a member: therefore, since thou art a member of that body which speaks with all tongues, believe that thou too speakest with all tongues. For the unity of the members is of one mind by charity; and that unity speaks as one man then spoke.

8. Consequently, we too receive the Holy Ghost if we love the Church, if we are joined together by charity, if we rejoice in the Catholic name and faith. Let us believe, brethren; as much as every man loves the Church of Christ, so much has he the Holy Ghost. For the Spirit is given, as the apostle saith, “to manifestation.” To what manifestation? Just as the same apostle saith, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge after the same Spirit, to another faith in the same Spirit, to another the gift of healing in one Spirit, to another the working of miracles in the same Spirit.”6 For there are many gifts given to manifestation, but thou, it may be, hast nothing of all those I have said. If thou lovest, it is not nothing that thou hast: if thou lovest unity, whoever has aught in that unity has it also for thee. Take away envy, and what I have is thine too. The envious temper puts men apart, soundness of mind unites them. In the body, the eye alone sees; but is it for itself alone that the eye sees? It sees both for the hand and the foot, and for all the other members. If a blow be coming against the foot, the eye does not turn away from it, so as not to take precaution. Again, in the body, the hand alone works, but is it for itself alone the hand works? For the eye also it works: for if a coming blow comes, not against the hand, but only against the face, does the hand say, I will not move, because it is not coming to me? So the foot by walking serves all the members: all the other members are silent, and the tongue speaks for all. We have therefore the Holy Spirit if we love the Church; but we love the Church if we stand firm in its union and charity. For the apostle himself, after he had said that diverse gifts were bestowed on diverse men, just as the offices of the several members, saith, “Yet I show you a still more pre-eminent way;” and begins to speak of charity. This he put before tongues of men and angels, before miracles of faith, before knowledge and prophecy, before even that great work of mercy by which a man distributes to the poor all that he possesses; and, lastly, put it before even the martyrdom of the body: before all these so great things he put charity. Have it, and thou shalt have all: for without it, whatever thou canst have will profit nothing. But that thou mayest know that the charity of which we are speaking refers to the Holy Spirit (for the question now in hand in the Gospel is concerning the Holy Spirit), hear the apostle when he says, “The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.”7

9. Why then was it the will of the Lord, seeing that the Spirit’s benefits in us are the greatest, because by Him the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, to give us that Spirit after His resurrection? Why did He signify by this? In order that in our resurrection our love may be inflamed, and may part from the love of the world to run wholly towards God. For here we are born and die: let us not love this world; let us migrate hence by love; by love let us dwell above, by that love by which we love God. In this sojourn of our life let us meditate on nothing else, but that here we shall not always be, and that by good living we shall prepare a place for ourselves there, whence we shall never migrate. For our Lord Jesus Christ, after that He is risen again, “now dieth no more;” “death,” as the apostle says, “shall no more have dominion over Him.”8 Behold what we must love. If we live, if we believe on Him who is risen again, He will give us, not that which men love here who love not God, or love the more the less they love Him, but love this the less the more theylove Him; but let us see what He has promised us. Not earthly and temporal riches, not honors and power in this world; for you see all these things given to wicked men, that they may not be highly prized by the good. Not, in short, bodily health itself, though it is He that gives that also, but that, as you see, He gives even to the beasts. Not long life; for what, indeed, is long that will some day have an end? It is not length of days that He has promised to His believers, as if that were a great thing, or decrepit old age, which all wish for before it comes, and all murmur at when it does come. Not beauty of person, which either bodily disease or that same old age which is desired drives away. One wishes to be beautiful, and also to live to be old: these two desires cannot agree together; if thou shalt be old, thou wilt not be beautiful; when old age comes, beauty will flee away; the vigor of beauty and the groaning of old age cannot dwell together in one body. All these things, then, are not what He promised us when He said, “He that believeth in me, let him come and drink, and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” He has promised us eternal life, where we shall have no fear, where we shall not be troubled, whence we shall have no migration, where we shall not die; where there is neither bewailing a predecessor deceased, nor a hoping for a successor. Accordingly, because such is what He has promised to us that love Him, and glow with the charity of the Holy Spirit, therefore He would not give us that same Spirit until He should be glorified, so that He might show in His body the life which we have not now, but which we hope for in the resurrection. (source).

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One Response to St Augustine’s Tractates on John 7:32-39

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Vigil of Pentecost | stjoeofoblog

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