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Home > Fathers of the Church > Tractates on the Gospel of John (Augustine) > Tractate 100

Tractate 100 (John 16:13-15)

1. When our Lord gave the promise of the coming of His Holy Spirit, He said, He shall teach you all truth, or, as we read in some copies, He shall guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak. On these Gospel words we have already discoursed as the Lord enabled us; and now give your attention to those that follow. And He will show you, He said, things to come. Over this, which is perfectly plain, there is no need to linger; for it contains no question that demands from us any regular exposition. But the words that He proceeds to add, He shall make me clearly known; for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you, are not to be carelessly passed over. For by the words, He shall make me clearly known, we may understand, that by shedding abroad [God's] love in the hearts of believers, and making them spiritual, He showed them how it was that the Son was equal to the Father, whom previously they had only known according to the flesh, and as men themselves had thought of Him only as man. Or at least that, filled themselves through that very love with boldness, and divested of all fear, they might proclaim Christ unto men; and so His fame be spread abroad through the whole world. So that He said, He shall make me clearly known, as if meaning, He shall free you from fear, and endow you with a love that will so inflame your zeal in preaching me, that you will send forth the odor, and commend the honor of, my glory throughout the world. For what they were to do in the Holy Spirit, He said that the Spirit Himself would also do, as is implied in the words, For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you. Matthew 10:20 The Greek word, indeed, which is δοξάσει, has been rendered by the Latin interpreters in their respective translations, clarificabit (shall make clearly known) by one, and glorificabit (shall glorify) by another: for the idea expressed in Greek by the one term δόξα, from which is derived the verb δοξάσει, may be interpreted both by claritas (brightness) and gloria (glory). For by glory every one becomes bright, and glorious by brightness; and hence what is signified by both words, is one and the same thing. And, as the most famous writers of the Latin tongue in olden time have defined it, glory is the generally diffused and accepted fame of any one accompanied with praise. But when this happened in the world in regard to Christ, we are not to suppose that it was the bestowing of any great thing on Christ, but on the world. For to praise what is good is not of benefit to that which receives, but to those who give the commendation.

2. But there is also a false glory, when the praise given is the result of a mistake, whether in regard to things or to persons, or to both. For men are mistaken in regard to things, when they think that to be good which is evil; and in regard to persons, when they think one to be good who is evil; and in regard to both, when what is actually a vice is esteemed a virtue; and when he who is praised for something is destitute of what he is supposed to have, whether he be good or evil. To credit vain-glorious persons with the things they profess, is surely a huge vice, and not a virtue; and yet you know how common is the laudatory fame of such; for, as Scripture says, The sinner is praised in the desires of his soul, and he who practises iniquity is blessed. Here those who praise are not mistaken in the persons, but in the things; for that is evil which they believe to be good. But those who are morally corrupted with the evil of prodigality are undoubtedly such as those who praise them do not simply suspect, but perceive them to be. But further, if one feign himself a just man, and be not so, but, as regards all that he seems to do in a praiseworthy way in the sight of men, does it not for God's sake, that is, for the sake of true righteousness, but makes glory from men the only glory he seeks and hankers after; while those with whom his extolled fame is generally accepted think of him only as living in a praiseworthy way for God's sake—they are not mistaken in the thing, but are deceived in the person. For that which they believe to be good, is good; but the person whom they believe to be good, is the reverse. But if, for example, skill in magical arts be esteemed good, and any one, so long as he is believed to have delivered his country by those same arts whereof all the while he is utterly ignorant, attain among the irreligious to that generally accepted renown which is defined as glory, those who so praise err in both respects; to wit, both in the thing, for they esteem that good which is evil; and in the person, for he is not at all what they suppose him. But when, in regard to any one who is righteous by God's grace and for God's sake, in other words, truly righteous, there is on account of that very righteousness a generally accepted fame of a laudatory kind, then the glory is indeed a true one; and yet we are not to suppose that thereby the righteous man is made blessed, but rather those who praise him are to be congratulated, because they judge rightly, and love the righteous. And how much more, then, did Christ the Lord, by His own glory, benefit, not Himself, but those whom He also benefited by His death?

3. But that is not a true glory which He has among heretics, with whom, nevertheless, He appears to have a generally accepted fame accompanied with praise. Such is no true glory, because in both respects they are mistaken, for they both think that to be good which is not good, and they suppose Christ to be what Christ is not. For to say that the only-begotten Son is not equal to Him that begot, is not good: to say that the only-begotten Son of God is man only, and not God, is not good: to say that the flesh of the Truth is not true flesh, is not good. Of the three doctrines which I have stated, the first is held by the Arians, the second by the Photinians, and the third by the Manicheans. But inasmuch as there is nothing in any of them that is good, and Christ has nothing to do with them, in both respects they are in the wrong; and they attach no true glory to Christ, although there may appear to be among them a generally accepted fame regarding Christ of a laudatory character. And accordingly all heretics together, whom it would be too tedious to enumerate, who have not right views regarding Christ, err on this account, that their views are untrue regarding both good things and evil. The pagans, also, of whom great numbers are lauders of Christ, are themselves also mistaken in both respects, saying, as they do, not in accordance with the truth of God, but rather with their own conjectures, that He was a magician. For they reproach Christians as being destitute of skill; but Christ they laud as a magician, and so betray what it is that they love: Christ indeed they do not love, since what they love is that which Christ never was. And thus, then, in both respects they are in error, for it is wicked to be a magician; and as Christ was good, He was not a magician. Wherefore, as we have nothing to say in this place of those who malign and blaspheme Christ,— for it is of His glory we speak, wherewith He was glorified in the world—it was only in the holy Catholic Church that the Holy Spirit glorified Him with His true glory. For elsewhere, that is, either among heretics or certain pagans, the glory He has in the world cannot be a true one, even where there is a generally accepted fame of Him accompanied with praise. His true glory, therefore, in the Catholic Church is celebrated in these words by the prophet: Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; and Your glory above all the earth. Accordingly, that after His exaltation the Holy Spirit was to come, and to glorify Him, the sacred psalm, and the Only-begotten Himself, promised as an event of the future, which we see accomplished.

4. But when He says, He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you, listen thereto with Catholic ears, and receive it with Catholic minds. For not surely on that account, as certain heretics have imagined, is the Holy Spirit inferior to the Son; as if the Son received from the Father, and the Holy Spirit from the Son, in reference to certain gradations of natures. Far be it from us to believe this, or to say it, and from Christian hearts to think it. In fine, He Himself straightway solved the question, and explained why He said so. All things that the Father has are mine: therefore, said I, that He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. What would you more? The Holy Spirit thus receives of the Father, of whom the Son receives; for in this Trinity the Son is born of the Father, and from the Father the Holy Spirit proceeds. He, however, who is born of none, and proceeds from none, is the Father alone. But in what sense it is that the only-begotten Son said, All things that the Father has are mine (for it certainly was not in the same sense as when it was said to that son, who was not only begotten, but the elder of two, You are ever with me; and all that I have is yours), Luke 15:31 will have our careful consideration, if the Lord so will, in connection with the passage where the Only-begotten says to the Father, And all mine are Yours, and Yours are mine; so that our present discourse may be here brought to a close, as the words that follow require a different opening for their discussion.

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Source. Translated by John Gibb. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. 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/1701100.htm>.

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