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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book I, Chapter 31

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book I

Chapter 31. The Fulfilment of the Prophecies Concerning Christ.

47. Wherefore let those evil applauders of Christ, who refuse to become Christians, desist from making the allegation that Christ did not teach that their gods were to be abandoned, and their images broken in pieces. For the God of Israel, regarding whom it was declared aforetime that He should be called the God of the whole earth, is now indeed actually called the God of the whole earth. By the mouth of His prophets He predicted that this would come to pass, and by Christ He did bring it eventually to pass at the fit time. Assuredly, if the God of Israel is now named the God of the whole earth, what He has commanded must needs be made good; for He who has given the commandment is now well known. But, further, that He is made known by Christ and in Christ, in order that His Church may be extended throughout the world, and that by its instrumentality the God of Israel may be named the God of the whole earth, those who please may read a little earlier in the same prophet. That paragraph may also be cited by me. It is not so long as to make it requisite for us to pass it by. Here there is much said about the presence, the humility, and the passion of Christ, and about the body of which He is the Head, that is, His Church, where it is called barren, like one that did not bear. For during many years the Church, which was destined to subsist among all the nations with its children, that is, with its saints, was not apparent, as Christ remained yet unannounced by the evangelists to those to whom He had not been declared by the prophets. Again, it is said that there shall be more children for her who is forsaken than for her who has a husband, under which name of a husband the Law was signified, or the King whom the people of Israel first received. For neither had the Gentiles received the Law at the period at which the prophet spoke; nor had the King of Christians yet appeared to the nations, although from these Gentile nations a much more fruitful and numerous multitude of saints has now proceeded. It is in this manner, therefore, that Isaiah speaks, commencing with the humility of Christ, and turning afterwards to an address to the Church, on to that verse which we have already instanced, where he says: And He who brought you out, the same God of Israel, shall be called the God of the whole earth. Behold, says he, my Servant shall deal prudently, and shall be exalted and honoured exceedingly. As many shall be astonied at You; so shall Your marred visage, nevertheless, be seen by all, and Your honour by men. For so shall many nations be astonied at Him, and the kings shall shut their mouths. For they shall see to whom it has not been told of Him; and those who have not heard shall understand. O Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have proclaimed before Him as a servant, as a root in a thirsty soil; He has no form nor comeliness. And we have seen Him, and He had neither beauty nor seemliness; but His countenance is despised, and His state rejected by all men: a man stricken, and acquainted with the bearing of infirmities; on account of which His face is turned aside, injured, and little esteemed. He bears our infirmities, and is in sorrows for us. And we did esteem Him to be in sorrows, and to be stricken and in punishment. But He was wounded for our transgressions, and He was enfeebled for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray, and the Lord has given Him up for our sins. And whereas He was evil entreated, He opened not His mouth; He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before him who shears it is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. In humility was His judgment taken. Who shall declare His generation? For His life shall be cut off out of the land; by the iniquities of my people is He led to death. Therefore shall I give the wicked for His sepulture, and the rich on account of His death; because He did no iniquity, neither was any deceit in His mouth. The Lord is pleased to clear Him in regard to His stroke. If you shall give your soul for your offenses, you shall see the seed of the longest life. And the Lord is pleased to take away His soul from sorrows, to show Him the light, and to set Him forth in sight, and to justify the righteous One who serves many well; and He shall bear their sins. Therefore shall He have many for His inheritance, and shall divide the spoils of the strong; for which reason His soul was delivered over to death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sins of many, and was delivered for their iniquities. Rejoice, O barren, you that dost not bear: exult, and cry aloud, you that dost not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than those of her who has a husband. For the Lord has said, Enlarge the place of your tent, and fix your courts; there is no reason why you should spare: lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes firmly. Yea, again and again break thou forth on the right hand and on the left. For your seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and you shall inhabit the cities which were desolate. There is nothing for you to fear. For you shall prevail, and be not confounded as if you shall be put to shame. For you shall forget your confusion for ever: you shall not remember the shame of your widowhood, since I who made you am the Lord; the Lord is His name: and He who brought you out, the very God of Israel, shall be called the God of the whole earth.

48. What can be said in opposition to this evidence, and this expression of things both foretold and fulfilled? If they suppose that His disciples have given a false testimony on the subject of the divinity of Christ, will they also doubt the passion of Christ? No: they are not accustomed to believe that He rose from the dead; but, at the same time, they are quite ready to believe that He suffered all that men are wont to suffer, because they wish Him to be held to be a man and nothing more. According to this, then, He was led like a sheep to the slaughter; He was numbered with the transgressors; He was wounded for our sins; by His stripes were we healed; His face was marred, and little esteemed, and smitten with the palms, and defiled with the spittle; His position was disfigured on the cross; He was led to death by the iniquities of the people Israel; He is the man who had no form nor comeliness when He was buffeted with the fists, when He was crowned with the thorns, when He was derided as He hung (upon the tree); He is the man who, as the lamb is dumb before its shearer, opened not His mouth, when it was said to Him by those who mocked Him, Prophesy to us, you Christ. Now, however, He is exalted verily, now He is honoured exceedingly; truly many nations are now astonied at Him. Now the kings have shut their mouth, by which they were wont to promulgate the most ruthless laws against the Christians. Truly those now see to whom it was not told of Him, and those who have not heard understand. For those Gentile nations to whom the prophets made no announcement, do now rather see for themselves how true these things are which were of old reported by the prophets; and those who have not heard Isaiah speak in his own proper person, now understand from his writings the things which he spoke concerning Him. For even in the said nation of the Jews, who believed the report of the prophets, or to whom was that arm of the Lord revealed, which is this very Christ who was announced by them, seeing that by their own hands they perpetrated those crimes against Christ, the commission of which had been predicted by the prophets whom they possessed? But now, indeed, He possesses many by inheritance; and He divides the spoils of the strong, since the devil and the demons have now been cast out and given up, and the possessions once held by them have been distributed by Him among the fabrics of His churches and for other necessary services.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602131.htm>.

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