Theological Virtues Per St Augustine, Doctor of the Church, Bishop of Hippo (354-430AD)
Faith cont. (Ch33-41)
Chapter 33. Men, Being by Nature the Children of Wrath, Needed a Mediator. In What Sense God is Said to Be Angry.
And so the human race was lying under a just condemnation, and all men were the children of wrath. Of which wrath it is written: All our days are passed away in Your wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told. Of which wrath also Job says: Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. Of which wrath also the Lord Jesus says: He that believes in the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. He does not say it will come, but it abides on him. For every man is born with it; wherefore the apostle says: We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Eph2:3)Now, as men were lying under this wrath by reason of their original sin, and as this original sin was the more heavy and deadly in proportion to the number and magnitude of the actual sins which were added to it, there was need for a Mediator, that is, for a reconciler, who, by the offering of one sacrifice, of which all the sacrifices of the law and the prophets were types, should take away this wrath. Wherefore the apostle says: For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Now when God is said to be angry, we do not attribute to Him such a disturbed feeling as exists in the mind of an angry man; but we call His just displeasure against sin by the name anger, a word transferred by analogy from human emotions. But our being reconciled to God through a Mediator, and receiving the Holy Ghost, so that we who were enemies are made sons (For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God): this is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Chapter 34. The Ineffable Mystery of the Birth of Christ the Mediator Through the Virgin Mary.
Now of this Mediator it would occupy too much space to say anything at all worthy of Him; and, indeed, to say what is worthy of Him is not in the power of man. For who will explain in consistent words this single statement, that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (Jn1:14) so that we may believe, in the only Son of God the Father Almighty, born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary. The meaning of the Word being made flesh, is not that the divine nature was changed into flesh, but that the divine nature assumed our flesh. And by flesh we are here to understand man, the part being put for the whole, as when it is said: By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified, that is, no man. For we must believe that no part was wanting in that human nature which He put on, save that it was a nature wholly free from every taint of sin, — not such a nature as is conceived between the two sexes through carnal lust, which is born in sin, and whose guilt is washed away in regeneration; but such as it behooved a virgin to bring forth, when the mother’s faith, not her lust, was the condition of conception. And if her virginity, had been marred even in bringing Him forth, He would not have been born of a virgin; and it would be false (which God forbid) that He was born of the Virgin Mary as is virgin and declared by the whole Church, which, in imitation of His mother, daily brings forth members of His body, and yet remains a virgin. Read, if you please, my letter on the virginity of the holy Mary which I sent to that eminent man, whose name I mention with respect and affection, Volusianus.
Chapter 35. Jesus Christ, Being the Only Son of God, is at the Same Time Man.
Wherefore Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is both God and man; God before all worlds; man in our world: God, because the Word God(for the Word was God ); and man, because in His one person the Word was joined with a body and a rational soul. Wherefore, so far as He is God, He and the Father are one; so far as He is man, the Father is greater than He. For when He was the only Son of God, not by grace, but by nature, that He might be also full of grace, He became the Son of man; and He Himself unites both natures in His own identity, and both natures constitute one Christ; because, being in God the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be, what He was by nature, equal with God. But He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, not losing or lessening the form of God. And, accordingly, He was both made less and remained equal, being both in one, as has been said: but He was one of these as Word, and the other as man. As Word, He is equal with the Father; as man, less than the Father. One Son of God, and at the same time Son of man; one Son of man, and at the same time Son of God; not two Sons of God, God and man, but one Son of God: God without beginning; man with a beginning, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Chapter 36. The Grace of God is Clearly and Remarkably Displayed in Raising the Man Christ Jesus to the Dignity of the Son of God.
Now here the grace of God is displayed with the greatest power and clearness. For what merit had the human nature in the man Christ earned, that it should in this unparalleled way be taken up into the unity of the person of the only Son of God? What goodness of will, what goodness of desire and intention, what good works, had gone before, which made this man worthy to become one person with God? Had He been a man previously to this, and had He earned this unprecedented reward, that He should be thought worthy to become God? Assuredly nay; from the very moment that He began to be man, He was nothing else than the Son of God, the only Son of God, the Word who was made flesh, and therefore He was God so that just as each individual man unites in one person a body and a rational soul, so Christ in one person unites the Word and man. Now wherefore was this unheard of glory conferred on human nature — a glory which, as there was no antecedent merit, was of course wholly of grace — except that here those who looked at the matter soberly and honestly might behold a clear manifestation of the power of God’s free grace, and might understand that they are justified from their sins by the same grace which made the man Christ Jesus free from the possibility of sin? And so the angels, when he announced to Christ’s mother the coming birth, saluted her thus: Hail, you that are full of grace; and shortly afterwards, You have found grace with God. Now she was said to be full of grace, and to have found grace with God, because she was to be the mother of her Lord, nay, of the Lord of all flesh. But, speaking of Christ Himself, the evangelist John, after saying, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, adds, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn1:14). When he says, The Word made flesh, this is full of grace; when he says the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, this is full of truth. For the Truth Himself, who was the only-begotten of the Father, not by grace, but by nature, by grace took our humanity upon Him, and so united it with His own person that He Himself became also the Son of man.
Chapter 37. The Same Grace is Further Clearly Manifested in This, that the Birth of Christ According to the Flesh is of the Holy Ghost.
For the same Jesus Christ who is the only-begotten, that is, the only Son of God, our Lord, was born of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary. And we know that the Holy Ghost is the gift of God, the gift being Himself indeed equal to the Giver. And therefore the Holy Ghost also is God, not inferior to the Father and the Son. The fact, therefore, that the nativity of Christ in His human nature was by the Holy Ghost is another clear manifestation of grace. For when the Virgin asked the angel how this which he had announced should be, seeing she knew not a man, the angel answered, The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. [ Holy Trinity manifest in this verse.] And when Joseph was minded to put her away, suspecting her of adultery, as he knew she was not with child by himself, he was told by the angel, “Fear not to take unto you Mary your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost: (Lk1:30-32) that is, what you suspect to be begotten of another man is of the Holy Ghost.
Chapter 38. Jesus Christ, According to the Flesh, Was Not Born of the Holy Ghost in Such a Sense that the Holy Ghost is His Father.
Nevertheless, are we on this account to say that the Holy Ghost is the father of the man Christ, and that as God the Father begot the Word, so God the Holy Ghost begot the man, and that these two natures constitute the one Christ; and that as the Word He is the Son of God the Father, and as man the Son of God the Holy Ghost, because the Holy Ghost, as His father begot Him of the Virgin Mary?
Who will dare to say so? Nor is it necessary to show by reasoning how many other absurdities flow from this supposition, when it is itself so absurd that no believer’s ears can bear to hear it. Hence, as we confess, our Lord Jesus Christ, who of God is God, and as man was born of the Holy Ghost, and of the Virgin Mary, having both natures, the divine and the human, is the only Son of God, of the Father Almighty, from whom proceeds the Holy Ghost. Now in what sense do we say that Christ was born of the Holy Ghost, if the Holy Ghost did not beget Him? Is it that He made Him, since our Lord Jesus Christ, though as God all things were made by Him, yet as man was Himself made; as the apostle says, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh? But as that created thing which the Virgin conceived and brought forth though it was united only to the person of the Son, was made by the whole Trinity (for the works of the Trinity are not separable), why should the Holy Ghost alone be mentioned as having made it? Or is it that, when one of the Three is mentioned as the author of any work, the whole Trinity is to be understood as working? That is true, and can be proved by examples. But we need not dwell longer on this solution. For the puzzle is, in what sense it is said, born of the Holy Ghost, when He is in no sense the Son of the Holy Ghost? For though God made this world, it would not be right to say that it is the Son of God, or that it was born of God; we would say that it was created, or made, or framed, or ordered by Him, or whatever form of expression we can properly use. Here, then, when we make confession that Christ was born of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, it is difficult to explain how it is that He is not the Son of the Holy Ghost and is the Son of the Virgin Mary when He was born both of Him and of her. It is clear beyond a doubt that He was not born of the Holy Ghost as His father, in the same sense that He was born of the Virgin as His mother.
Chapter 39. Not Everything that is Born of Another is to Be Called a Son of that Other.
We need not therefore take for granted, that whatever is born of a thing is immediately to be declared the son of that thing. For, to pass over the fact that a son is born of a man in a different sense from that in which a hair or a louse is born of him, neither of these being a son; to pass over this, I say, as too mean an illustration for a subject of so much importance: it is certain that those who are born of water and of the Holy Ghost cannot with propriety be called sons of the water though they are called sons of God the Father, and of the Church their mother. In the same way, then, He who was born of the Holy Ghost is the Son of God the Father, not of the Holy Ghost. For what I have said of the hair and the other things is sufficient to show us that not everything which is born of another can be called the son of that of which it is born, just as it does not follow that all who are called a man’s sons were born of him, for some sons are adopted. And some men are called sons of hell, not as being born of hell, but as prepared for it, as the sons of the kingdom are prepared for the kingdom.
Chapter 40. Christ’s Birth Through the Holy Ghost Manifests to Us the Grace of God.
And, therefore, as one thing may be born of another, and yet not in such a way as to be its son, and as not every one who is called a son was born of him whose son he is called, it is clear that this arrangement by which Christ was born of the Holy Ghost, but not as His son, and of the Virgin Mary as her son, is intended as a manifestation of the grace of God. For it was by this grace that a man, without any antecedent merit, was at the very commencement of His existence as man, so united in one person with the Word of God, that the very person who was Son of man was at the same time Son of God, and the very person who was Son of God was at the same time Son of man; and in the adoption of His human nature into the divine, the grace itself became in a way so natural to the man, as to leave no room for the entrance of sin. Wherefore this grace is signified by the Holy Ghost; for He, though in His own nature God, may also be called the gift of God. And to explain all this sufficiently, if indeed it could be done at all, would require a very lengthened discussion.
Chapter 41. Christ, Who Was Himself Free from Sin, Was Made Sin for Us, that We Might Be Reconciled to God.
Begotten and conceived, then, without any indulgence of carnal lust, and therefore bringing with Him no original sin, and by the grace of God joined and united in a wonderful and unspeakable way in one person with the Word, the Only-begotten of the Father, a son by nature, not by grace, and therefore having no sin, of His own; nevertheless, on account of the likeness of sinful flesh in which He came, He was called sin, that He might be sacrificed to wash away sin. For, under the Old Covenant, sacrifices for sin, were called sins. And He, of whom all these sacrifices were types and shadows, was Himself truly made sin. Hence the apostle, after saying, We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God, immediately adds: for He has made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He does not say, as some incorrect copies read, He who knew no sin, did sin for us, as if Christ had Himself sinned for our sake; but he says, Him who knew no sin, that is, Christ, God, to whom we are to be reconciled, has made to be sin, for us, that is, has made Him a sacrifice for our sin, by which we might be reconciled to God. He, then, being made sin, just as we are made righteousness (our righteousness being not our own, but God’s, not in ourselves, but in Him); He being made sin, not His own, but ours, not in Himself, but in us, showed, by the likeness of sin, sinful flesh in which He was crucified, that though sin was not in Him, yet that in a certain sense He died to sin, by dying in the flesh which was the likeness of sin; and that although He Himself had never lived the old life of sin, yet by His resurrection He typified our new life springing up out of the old death in sin.
CityofGod.blog will post day 6 tomorrow chapters 42-51