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against the error of the Donatists: an argument so strongly supported by other considerations, that it does not fall powerless, even if one should prefer (as perhaps most would prefer) the solution which was given (in answer to the cavil of the Emperor Julian) by Theodore of Mopsuestia, and more clearly enunciated by his illustrious scholar St. Chrysostom.
The Homilies contained in this Volume appear now for the first time in an English translation. The remaining Homilies, eighty in number, are so much shorter than these, that another Volume of the same size will complete the Work. It is hoped that this will appear before the close of the present year.
[For the above Preface, as well as for the Translation, the Editors are indebted to the Rev. H. BROWNE, M.A. of Corpus Christi Coll. Cambridge, Canon of Waltham in the Cathedral Church of Chichester, and formerly Principal of the Chichester Diocesan College. The first 150 pages were done some time since by another hand, and have been corrected by him. The Editors have considered that a very slight revision on their part would be sufficient, in the case of a Translator in whom they place so much confidence.]
THESE Discourses on St. John are assigned by the Benedictine Editors to A.D. 416, or the following year. In favour of an earlier date, it might indeed be alleged, that the keen controversy against the Donatists, which so frequently occurs in these Sermons, shews the schism to have been still flagrant when they were preached; as in fact in the Homilies on the Epistle of St. John, delivered in the same year, St. Austin expressly mentions, that the schismatics had still their altar at Hippo: quid faciunt in hac civitate duo altaria? Whence it might seem that their date must be prior to A.D. 411, the year of the Conference of Carthage. That this, however, would be too early a date, is shewn, as the Editors remark, by numerous passages, in which not only is the doctrine of Predestination put forth as a wellunderstood and most certain truth, (e. g. Tr. xlv. xlviii. lxviii. lxxxiii. cv. cxi.) but there is pointed reference, only not by name, (e. g. liii. lxvii. lxxxi. lxxxvi.) to the Pelagian heresy, which came into Africa in that same year 411. A distinct note of time, however, is given in Tract. cxx. 4. in the mention of the revelatio corporis beatissimi Stephani, which in the account written by the Presbyter Lucian is assigned to the close of A.D. 415.
The course appears to have been commenced in the winter months, Tr. vi. and was pursued on Sundays and other stated days, (dies reddendi Sermonis xlvi. fin. dies quo solet sermo deberi viii. 13.) sometimes consecutively, at other times with intermissions. Thus Tr. i.
was delivered on Sunday, Tr. ii. on the next day; Tr. vii. on a Sunday; Tr. viii. ix. x. on three consecutive days, of which the first was a 'solemnitas' (13). (In Tr. viii. he makes excuse for the omission of the Sermon on the preceding day.) When Tr. x. was delivered, the Holy Week of the Passion was at hand, (10.) and in Tr. xi. the Catechumens are exhorted to prepare for Baptism. After Tr. xii. the course was intermitted during several days. It was Easter week, and the Gospel Lessons proper for that week, (Serm. 232, 1. 239, 1. de Tempore,) were in no wise to be omitted and to give place to others. At other times during the delivery of this course of Exposition, the portion to be expounded was read in the Service as the Gospel for the day. At this season, therefore, St. Austin leaves the Gospel, and takes in hand to expound the first Epistle of St. John, ut cujus Evangelium paululum intermisimus, ejus Epistolam tractando ab eo non recedamus. Prolog. Tract. in Ep. Joann. The Discourses xv. xvi. were held on consecutive days, likewise xvii. xviii.; then again xix-xxiii. also xxiv. xxv. Yet at Tr. xxvii. the year was so far advanced, that on that day was the Feast of St. Laurentius. (10 August.)
In the Manuscripts, these Expositions are given under various names; some calling them Tractatus,' others Sermones,' others 'Homiliæ.' In three copies the title is thus set forth: 'Aurelii Augustini Doctoris Hippon. Episc. Hemiliæ in Evangelium Dom. Jesu secundum Joannem incipiunt, quas ipse colloquendo prius ad populum habuit, et inter loquendum a notariis exceptas, co quo habitæ sunt ordine, verbum ex verbo postea dictavit.'
a In St. Austin's time, there does not appear to have been (in the African Churches at least) a prescribed rule of Lessons (Epistles and Gospels) for each day or each Sunday throughout the year. Only, in that as in other Churches, a certain order was observed at the more solemn seasons: thus St. Aug. mentions u. s. that St. Matthew's narrative of the Passion was the Gospel Lesson for Good Friday; and the accounts of the Resurrection from the four Gospels taken in order, for Easter-week. We also learn that the Acts of the Apostles were read from Easter to Pentecost. (Tract. in Joann. vi. 18. so in the Church of Antioch, S. Chrys. Hom.
Cur in Pentecoste Acta legantur.) Otherwise, the selection of Lessons seems to have been unrestricted, as in Tertullian's time, when it rested with the Bishop to appoint for reading 'si quid præsentium qualitas aut præmonere cogit aut recognoscere.' (Apol. c. 39.) Accordingly St. Aug. says on one occasion, In memoria retinentes pollicitationem nostram congruas etiam ex Evangelio et Apostolo fecimus recitari lectiones: 'Serm.ccclxii. of which designed congruity we have an instance in the opening of this course of Sermons: the lectio apostolica of the first day was taken from 1 Cor. ii. Comp. Enarr. in Psa exlvii. §. 3.
JOHN i. 1-3.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. That which was made, in Him is life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
WHEN I call to mind what we have just heard from the Apostolic Lesson, The natural man receiveth not the things! Cor. of the Spirit of God; and when I consider that in the present mixed assembly, among you, my beloved, there must needs be many natural men; men who do still mind Rom. 8, the things of the flesh, neither are as yet able to raise themselves up to spiritual understanding; I am greatly at a loss how, as the Lord shall vouchsafe, I shall be able to express, or after my poor measure to explain, what has been read from the Gospel, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: for this the natural man perceiveth not. What then, brethren? shall we leave this unspoken of? Wherefore then is it read, if it shall not be spoken of? Or wherefore heard, if not explained? Yea, but why explained, if not understood? But then again, as there be, I doubt not, among you, some by whom it can not only be received when explained, but even before it is explained be understood, I will not defraud those who are able to receive it, through fear of speaking idly to the ears of those who are not able to receive it. Moreover, God's mercy will be with us, belike that all may have enough and each receive what he is able; while he that speaks, speaks what he is able. For to speak the thing as it is, who is able? I dare to say it, my brethren: per
Elevated Souls, as lofty Mountains,
HOMIL. adventure not John himself spake the thing as it is, but even he as he was able: for that thing was God, and he that spake was man inspired, indeed, of God, yet man. As he was inspired, he spake somewhat; had he not been inspired, he had spoken nothing: but as he was man inspired, he spake not the whole as it is, but what man could, that spake he.
2. For this John, dearly beloved brethren, was one of Ps.72,3. those mountains concerning which it is written, Let the mountains receive peace for thy people, and the hills righteousness. The mountains are elevated souls; the hills, little souls. Howbeit, to this end do the mountains receive peace, that the hills may be able to receive righteousness. What Habak. is the righteousness which the hills receive? Faith: for the Rom. 1,just doth live by faith. But lesser souls should not receive faith unless the larger souls which are called mountains were of Wisdom Herself enlightened, that they may be able to cast onwards to the little ones, what the little ones may be able to receive, and the hills may live by faith while the mountains receive peace. By the mountains themselves it was From. said to the Church, Peace be with you: and the mountains
themselves in announcing peace to the Church divided not themselves against Jim from whom they received peace, that in truth, not feignedly, they might announce peace.
3. For there be other mountains than these, dangerous headlands, perilous to ships, on which if the mariner once drive his vessel, she goes to pieces. For it is natural when land is descried by men in jeopardy, to make a push as it were to land: but sometimes the land descried is on a mountain, and there are sunken rocks at the mountain's base, so that when one makes for the mountain he falls upon the rocks, and finds not mooring there, but mourning. So have there been some mountains, and they have appeared great among men; and they have caused heresies and schisms, and have divided the Church of God. But these who have divided the Church of God were not those mountains concerning which it is spoken, Let the mountains receive peace for thy people. For after what sort have they received peace, who have broken unity?
4. But they who have received peace, to preach it to the people, have fixed the eyes of their minds upon Wisdom