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NPNF1-06. St. Augustine: Sermon on the Mount; Harmony of the Gospels; Homilies on the Gospels
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Chapter XXV.

82. But seeing that, however pure an eye one may have, i.e. with however single and sincere a heart one may live, he yet cannot look into the heart of another: whatever things could not have become apparent in deeds or words, are disclosed by trials. Now trial is twofold; either in the hope of obtaining some temporal advantage, or in the terror of losing it. And especially must we be on our guard, lest, when striving after wisdom, which can be found in Christ alone, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;470470     Col. ii. 3. —we must be on our guard, I say, lest, under the very name of Christ, we be deceived by heretics, or by any parties whatever defective in intelligence, and lovers of this world. For on this account He adds a warning, saying, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord,471471     Many called Him Lord, but He never called any one Lord (ipsum multi, etiam amplissimi viri,—ipse neminem ne Pilatum quidem, dominum vocavit.—Bengel). shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven:” lest we should think that the mere fact of one saying to our Lord, “Lord, Lord,” belongs to those fruits; and from that he should seem to us to be a good tree. But those are the fruits, to do the will of the Father who is in heaven, in the doing of which He has condescended to exhibit Himself as an example.

83. But the question may fairly be started, how with this sentence the statement of the apostle is to be reconciled, where he says, “No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost:”472472     1 Cor. xii. 3. for neither can we say that any who have the Holy Spirit will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, if they persevere onwards to the end; nor can we affirm that those who say, “Lord, Lord,” and yet do not enter into the kingdom of heaven, have the Holy Spirit. How then does no one say “that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” unless it is because the apostle has used the word “say” here in a strict and proper sense, so that it implies the will and understanding of him who says? But the Lord has used the word which He employs in a general sense: “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” For he also who neither wishes nor understands what he says, seems to say it; but he properly says it, who gives expression to his will and mind by the sound of his voice: just as, a little before, what is called “joy” among the fruits of the Spirit is called so in a strict and proper sense, not in the way in which the same apostle elsewhere uses the expression, “Rejoiceth not in iniquity:”473473     1 Cor. xiii. 6. as if any one could rejoice in iniquity: for that transport of a mind making confused and boisterous demonstrations of joy is not joy; for this latter is possessed by the good alone. Hence those also seem to say it, who neither perceive with the understanding nor engage with the deliberate consent of the will in this which they utter, but utter it with the voice merely; and after this manner the Lord says, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But truly and properly those parties say it whose utterance in speech really represents their will and intention; and it is in accordance with this signification that the apostle has said, “No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”

84. And besides, it belongs especially to the matter in hand, that, in striving after the contemplation of the truth, we should not only not be deceived by the name of Christ, by means of those who have the name and have not the deeds; but also not by certain deeds and miracles, for when the Lord performed of the same kind for the sake of unbelievers, He has warned us not to be deceived by such things, thinking that an invisible wisdom is present where we see a visible miracle. Hence He annexes the statement: “Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say474474     Dicam; Vulgate, confitebor; Greek, ὁμολογήσω. Meyer says, “It is the conscious dignity of the future Judge of the world.” Bengel calls attention to the great power of the word (magna potestas hujus dicti). In this action Christ lays the most confident claim to functions not imparted to any human being. unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” He will not, therefore, recognise any but the man that worketh righteousness. For He forbade also His own disciples themselves to rejoice in such things, viz. that the spirits were subject unto them: “But rejoice,” says He, “because your names are written in heaven;”475475     Luke x. 20. I suppose, in that city of Jerusalem which is in heaven, in which only the righteous and holy shall reign. “Know ye not,” says the apostle, “that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?”476476     1 Cor. vi. 9.

85. But perhaps some one may say that the unrighteous cannot perform those visible miracles, and may believe rather that those parties are telling a lie, who will be found saying, “We have prophesied in Thy name, and have cast out devils in Thy name, and have done many wonderful works.” Let him therefore read what great things the magi of the Egyptians did who resisted Moses, the servant of God;477477     Exod. vii. and viii. or if he will not read this, because they did not do them in the name of Christ, let him read what the Lord Himself says of the false prophets, speaking thus: “Then, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that the very elect shall be deceived.478478     Inducantur etiam electi; Vulgate, inducantur, si fieri potest, etiam electi. Behold, I have told you before.”479479     Matt. xxiv. 23–25.

86. How much need, therefore, is there of the pure and single eye, in order that the way of wisdom may be found, against which there is the clamour of so great deceptions and errors on the part of wicked and perverse men, to escape from all of which is indeed to arrive at the most certain peace, and the immoveable stability of wisdom! For it is greatly to be feared, lest, by eagerness in quarrelling and controversy, one should not see what can be seen by few, that small is the disturbance of gainsayers, unless one also disturbs himself. And in this direction, too, runs that statement of the apostle: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle480480     Mitem…diversa sentientes; Vulgate, mansuetum…resistunt veritati. unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that think differently;481481     Mitem…diversa sentientes; Vulgate, mansuetum…resistunt veritati. if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”482482     2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. “Blessed,” therefore, “are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”483483     Matt. v. 9.

87. Hence we must take special notice how terribly the conclusion of the whole sermon is introduced: “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, is like484484     Similis est…; Vulgate, assimilabitur. Meyer, Tholuck, etc, refer this to the future judgment, “I will make him like,” etc., when Christ will establish those who keep His sayings for ever (opposed by Alford etc.). unto a wise man, which built his house upon the rock.” For no one confirms what he hears or understands, unless by doing. And if Christ is the rock, as many Scripture testimonies proclaim485485     1 Cor. x. 4. So Alford, who thinks this signification too plain to be overlooked. that man builds in Christ who does what he hears from Him. “The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat486486     Offenderunt; Vulgate, irruerunt. upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” Such an one, therefore, is not afraid of any gloomy superstitions (for what else is understood by rain, when it is put in the sense of anything bad?), or of turnouts of men, which I think are compared to winds; or of the river of this life, as it were flowing over the earth in carnal lusts. For it is the man who is seduced by the prosperity that is broken down by the adversities arising from these three things; none of which is feared by him who has his house founded upon a rock, i.e. who not only hears, but also does, the Lord’s commands. And the man who hears and does them not is in dangerous proximity to all these, for he has no stable foundation; but by hearing and not doing, he builds a ruin. For He goes on to say: “And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be like unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 487487     The transitory teachings and institutions of men as opposed to Christ’s own word. and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat488488     Offenderunt; Vulgate, irruerunt. upon that house; and it fell: and great was489489     Facta est; Vulgate, fuit. the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”490490     Vulgate adds et Pharisæi. The people were astonished, not merely at His teachings, but the dignity and self-consciousness with which Christ uttered them, quod nova quædam majestas et insueta hominum mentes ad se raperet (Calvin). The Scribes spoke as expounders of the law, and referred back to Moses for their authority; Christ spoke in His own name, and as an independent legislator, vested with greater authority than Moses and a higher dignity. The Scribes by elaborate sophistry often drew many meanings from a single precept, and burdened the people with an intricate and endless variety of precepts for the details of conduct, laying painful stress upon their observance; Christ directed attention from outward acts to the motive and intent of the heart. “He opposed a genuine righteousness to the mock righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.” This is what I said before was meant by the prophet in the Psalms, when he says: “I will act confidently in regard of him. The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried and proved in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”491491     Ps. xii. 5, 6. And from this number, I am admonished to trace back those precepts also to the seven sentences which He has placed in the beginning of this sermon, when He was speaking of those who are blessed; and to those seven operations of the Holy Spirit, which the prophet Isaiah mentions;492492     Isa. xi. 2, 3. but whether the order before us, or some other, is to be considered in these, the things we have heard from the Lord are to be done, if we wish to build upon a rock.


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