Are you a Christian?
PREVIOUS SECTION - NEXT SECTION - HELP
1. I Confess to you, holy brethren, I was afraid the cold would have made you cold in assembling yourselves together; but since you prove by this, your crowded assembly, that you are fervent in spirit, I doubt not that you have also prayed for me, that I may pay you what I owe. For I promised you in the name of Christ that, as the shortness of the time prevented us from expounding it before, I would to-day discuss why God was pleased to manifest the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. That this may be explained, this day has dawned on us; and I perceive that from eagerness to hear, and pious devotion, you have come together in greater number than usual. May God, by our mouth, fulfill your expectation. For your coming together is of your love; but love of what? If of us, even that is well; for we desire to be loved by you, but not in ourselves. Because we love you in Christ, do you love us in Christ in return, and let our love mutually sigh towards God; for the note of the dove is a sighing or moaning.
2. Now if the dove’s note is a moaning, as we all know it to be, and doves moan in love, hear what the apostle says, and wonder not that the Holy Ghost willed to be manifested in the form of a dove: “For what we should pray for as we ought,” says he, “we know not; but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”116
3. Therefore, when He sent the Holy Spirit He manifested Him visibly in two ways—by a dove and by fire: by a dove upon the Lord when He was baptized, by fire upon the disciples when they were gathered together. For when the Lord had ascended into heaven after His resurrection, having spent forty days with His disciples, and the day of Pentecost being fully come, He sent unto them the Holy Spirit as He had promised. Accordingly the Spirit coming at that time filled the place, and there was first a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, and “there appeared unto them,” it says, “cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they began to speak with tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”120
4. Hence in this manner it behoved the Holy Spirit to be manifested when coming upon the Lord, that every one might understand that if he has the Holy Spirit he ought to be simple as the dove, to have true peace with his brethren, that peace which the kisses of doves signify. Ravens have their kisses too; but in the case of the ravens it is a false peace, in that of the dove a true peace. Not every one, therefore, who says, “Peace be with you,” is to be listened to as if he were a dove. How then are the kisses of ravens distinguished from those of doves? Ravens kiss, but they tear; the nature of doves is innocent of tearing. Where consequently there is tearing, there is not true peace in the kisses. They have true peace who have not torn the Church. Ravens feed upon carrion, it is not so with the dove; it lives on the fruits of the earth, its food is innocent. This, brethren, is really worthy of admiration in the dove. Sparrows are very small birds, but yet they kill flies at least. The dove does nothing of this sort, for it does not feed on what is dead. They who have torn the Church feed on the dead. God is mighty; let us pray that they who are devoured by them, and perceive it not, may come to life again. Many acknowledge that they do come to life again, for at their coming we daily express joy with them in the name of Christ. Be ye simple, but only in such wise that ye be fervent, and let your fervor be in your tongues. Hold not your peace, speak with glowing tongues, set those that are cold on fire.
5. For why, my brethren? Who does not see what they do not? And no wonder; for they who are unwilling to return from that are just like the raven that was sent forth from the ark. For who does not see what they see not? They are unthankful even to the Holy Spirit Himself. See, the dove descended upon the Lord, upon the Lord when baptized: and thereupon was manifested that holy and real Trinity, which to us is one God. For the Lord went up out of the water, as we read in the Gospel: “And, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and it abode upon Him: and immediately a voice followed, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”123
6. Now this it was in Him that John saw, and came to know which he did not know. Not that he did not know Him to be the Son of God, or that he did not know Him to be the Lord, or not know Him to be the Christ; or that he did not know this too, that it was He who should baptize with water and with the Holy Ghost. This he did know; but that he should do this so as to retain the authority to Himself and transfer it to none of His ministers, this is what he learnt in the dove. For by this authority, which Christ has retained to Himself alone, and conferred upon none of His ministers, though He has deigned to baptize by His ministers; by this authority, I say, stands the unity of the Church, which is figured in the dove, concerning which it is said, “My dove is one, the only one of her mother.”124
7. Mark, brethren; before our Lord Jesus Christ came to His baptism (for it was after the baptism that the dove descended, whereby John recognized something that was peculiar to Him, since he was told, “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending like a dove, and remaining on Him, the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost”), John knew that He it was that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost; but that it should be with this peculiarity, that the authority should not pass from Him to another, notwithstanding He confers it, this is what he learnt there. And whence do we prove that John did already know that the Lord was to baptize with the Holy Ghost; so that what he must be understood to have learned by the dove is, that the Lord was to baptize with the Holy Ghost in such wise that the authority should not pass from Him to any other man? Whence do we prove this? The dove descended after the Lord was baptized; but before the Lord came to be baptized by John in the Jordan, we have said that John knew Him, on the evidence of those words, in which he says, “Comest Thou to me to be baptized? I have need to be baptized of Thee.” Well, he did know Him to be the Lord, knew Him to be the Son of God; how do we prove that he knew already that the same was He who should baptize with the Holy Ghost? Before He came to the river, whilst many people were running together to John to be baptized, he says to them, “I indeed baptize you with water; but He that cometh after me is greater than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose; the same shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”125
8. For if the sanctity of baptism be according to the diversity of merits in them that administer it, then as merits are diverse there will be diverse baptisms; and the recipient will imagine that what he receives is so much the better, the better he appears to be from whom he received it. The saints themselves—understand brethren, they that belong to the dove, that have their part in that city of Jerusalem, the good themselves in the Church, of whom the apostle says, “The Lord know eth them that are His”126
9. Therefore, beloved, let us see what those men desire not to see; not what they may not see, but what they grieve to see, as though it were shut against them. Whither were the disciples sent to baptize as ministers, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? Whither were they sent? “Go,” said He, “baptize the nations.” You have heard, brethren, how that inheritance comes, “Ask of me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the utmost bounds of the earth for Thy possessions.”127
10. But lo, say the disciples to the Lord, we are told in what name we are to baptize; Thou hast made us ministers, and hast said to us, “Go, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Whither shall we go? Whither? Have you not heard? To Mine inheritance. You ask, Whither shall we go? To that which I bought with my blood. Whither then? To the nations, saith He. I fancied that He said, Go, baptize the Africans in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Thanks be to God, the Lord has solved the question the dove has taught us. Thanks be to God, it was to the nations the apostles were sent; if to the nations, then to all tongues. The Holy Spirit signified this, being divided in the tongues, united in the dove. Here the tongues are divided, there the dove unites them. The tongues of the nations agreed, perhaps that of Africa alone disagreed. What can be more evident, my brethren? In the dove the unity, in the tongues the community of the nations. For once the tongues became discordant through pride, and then of one became many tongues. For after the flood certain proud men, as if endeavoring to fortify themselves against God, as if aught were high for God, or aught could give security to pride, raised a tower, apparently that they might not be destroyed by a flood, should there come one thereafter. For they had heard and considered that all iniquity was swept away by a flood; to abstain from iniquity they would not; they sought the height of a tower as a defense against a flood; they built a lofty tower. “God saw their pride, and frustrated their purpose by causing that they should not understand one another’s speech, and thus tongues became diverse through pride.”131
11. But perhaps they will say: Well, as it is a dove, and the dove is one, baptism there cannot be apart from the one dove. Therefore if the dove is with thee, or if thou be thyself a dove, do thou give me, when I come to thee, that which I have not. You know that this is what they say; but you will presently see that it is not of the voice of the dove, but of the clamor of the raven. For attend a little, beloved, and fear their devices; nay, beware of them, and listen to the words of gainsayers only to reject them, not to swallow them and take them into your bowels. Do therein what the Lord did when they offered Him the bitter draught, “He tasted, and spat it out;”132
12. I also will put questions; let us meanwhile lay aside the inquiry as to whom this was said, “My dove is one, the only one of her mother;”—as yet we are inquiring;—it was said either to me or to thee; let us postpone the question as to whom it was said. This is what I ask, if the dove is simple, innocent, without gall, peaceful in its kisses, not fierce with its talons, I ask whether the covetous, the rapacious, the crafty, the sottish, the infamous, belong to the members of this dove? Are they members of this dove? Far be the thought, says he. And who would really say this, brethren? To speak of nothing else, if I mention the rapacious alone, members of the hawk they may be, not members of the dove. Kites seize and plunder, so do hawks, so do ravens; doves do not plunder nor tear, consequently they who snatch and rob are not members of the dove. Was there not even one rapacious person among you? Why abides the baptism, which in this case the hawk, not the dove, has given? Why do you not among yourselves baptize after robbers, after adulterers, after drunkards? Why not baptize after the avaricious among yourselves? Are these all members of the dove? You so dishonor your dove that you make those that have the nature of the vulture her members. What, then, brethren, what say we? There are the bad and the good in the Catholic Church, but with them the bad only. But perhaps I say this with a hostile feeling: let this too be afterwards examined. They do say, certainly, that among them are the good and the bad; for, should they assert that they have only the good, let their own credit it, and I subscribe. With us, let them say, there are none but holy, righteous, chaste, sober men; no adulterers, no usurers, no deceivers, no false swearers, no wine-bibbers;—let them say this, for I heed not their tongues, I touch their hearts. But since they are well known to us, and to you, and to their own, just as you are known both to yourselves in the Catholic Church and to them, neither let us find fault with them, nor let them flatter themselves. We confess that in the Church there are good and bad, yet as the grain and the chaff. Sometimes he who is baptized by the grain is chaff, and he who is baptized by the chaff is grain. Otherwise, if his baptism who is baptized by the grain stands good, and his who is baptized by the chaff not, then it is not true, “This is He that baptizeth.” But if it is true “This is He that baptizeth,” then what is given by the chaff stands good, and he baptizeth in like manner as the dove. For the bad man (who administers baptism) is not the dove, nor belongs to the members of the dove, nor can he possibly be affirmed to be so, either with us in the Catholic Church or with them, if they assert that their Church is the dove. What then are we to understand, brethren? Since it is evident, and known to all, and they must admit, though it be against their will, that when with them bad men give baptism, it is not given after those bad men; and with us, too, when the bad give baptism, it is not given after them. The dove does not baptize after the raven; why then would the raven baptize after the dove?
13. Consider, beloved, why also was there a something pointed out by means of the dove, as that the dove—namely, the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove—came to the Lord on being baptized, and rested upon Him, whilst by the coming of the dove John learned this, that there dwelt in the Lord a power peculiarly His own to baptize? Because it was by this power peculiar to Himself, as I have said, the peace of the Church was made secure. And yet it may be that one may have baptism apart from the dove; but that baptism apart from the dove should do him good, is impossible. Consider, beloved, and understand what I say, for by this deception they mislead such of our brethren as are dull and cold. Let us be more simple and more fervent. See, say they, have I received, or have I not? I answer, Thou hast received. Well, if I have received, there is nothing which thou canst give me; I am safe, even on thine own evidence. For I affirm that I have received, and thou, too, dost confess that I have received: I am safe by the confession of both: what then dost thou promise me? Why wouldst thou make me a Catholic, when thou wouldst not give me anything further, seeing thou confessest that I have already received that which thou affirmest thyself to possess? But when I say, Come to me, I say that thou dost not possess, who yet confessest that I do. Why dost thou say, Come to me?
14. The dove teaches us. From the head of the Lord she answers, and says, Thou hast baptism, but the charity with which I groan thou hast not. How is this, says he, I have baptism, and have not charity? Have I the sacraments, and not charity? Do not shout: show me how can he who divides unity have charity? I, saith he, have baptism. Thou hast; but that baptism, without charity, profits thee nothing; because without charity thou art nothing. The baptism itself, even in him who is nothing, is not nothing. Baptism, indeed, is something, aye, something great, for His sake, of whom it is said, “This is He that baptizeth.” But lest thou shouldst fancy that that which is great can profit thee aught, if thou be not in unity, it was after He was baptized that the dove descended, as if intimating, If thou hast baptism, be in the dove, lest what thou hast profit thee not. Come, then, to the dove, we say; not that thou mayest begin to have what thou hadst not before, but that what thou didst have may begin to profit thee. For thou didst have baptism to destruction without; if thou shalt have it within, it begins to profit thee to salvation.
15. For not only was baptism not profitable to thee, and not also hurtful. Even holy things may be hurtful. In the good, indeed, holy things are to salvation; in the evil, to judgment. For we certainly know, brethren, what we receive, and what we receive is at any rate holy, and no one says that it is not: and what says the apostle? “But he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.”133
16. But thou art anxious, it may be, and sayest, I was baptized without; I fear lest therefore I am guilty, in that I was baptized without. Already thou beginnest to know what thou hast to bewail. Thou sayest truly that thou art guilty, not because of thy re ceiving, but because of thy receiving without. Keep then what thou hast received; amend thy receiving it without. Thou hast received what is the dove’s apart from the dove. Here are two things said to thee: Thou hast received, and, Apart from the dove thou hast received. In that thou hast received, I approve; that thou hast received without, I disapprove. Keep then what thou hast received, it is not changed, but recognized: it is the mark of my king, I will not profane it. I will correct the deserter, not change the mark.
17. Boast not of thy baptism because I call it a real baptism. Behold, I say that it is so; the whole Catholic Church says that it is so; the dove regards it, and acknowledges it, and groans because thou hast it without; she sees therein what she may acknowledge, sees also what she may correct. It is a real baptism, come. Thou boastest that it is real, and yet wilt thou not come? What then of the wicked, who do not belong to the dove? Saith the dove to thee, Even the wicked, among whom I groan, who belong not to my members, and it must needs be that I groan among them, have not they that which thou boastest of having? Have not many drunkards baptism? Have not many covetous? Have not many idolaters, and, what is worse, who are such by stealth? Do not the pagans resort, or at least did resort, publicly to idols? And now Christians secretly seek out diviners and consult astrologers. And yet these have baptism; but the dove groans among ravens. Why then dost thou boast in the having it? This that thou hast, the wicked man also has. Have thou humility, charity, peace; have thou the good thing which as yet thou hast not, so that the good thing which thou hast may profit thee.
18. For what thou hast, even Simon Magus had: the Acts of the Apostles are witness, that canonical book which has to be read in the Church every year. You know that every year, in the season following the Lord’s Passion, that book is read, wherein it is written, how the apostle was converted, and from a persecutor became a preacher;134
19. Neither say, I will not come, because I was baptized without. So, begin to have charity, begin to have fruit, let there be fruit found in thee, and the dove will send thee within. We find this in Scripture. The ark was made of incorruptible wood. The incorruptible timbers are the saints, the faithful that belong to Christ. For as in the temple the living stones of which it is built are said to be faithful men, so likewise the incorruptible timbers are they who persevere in the faith. In that same ark, then, the timbers were incorruptible. Now the ark is the Church, it is there the dove baptizeth; for the ark was borne on the water, the incorruptible timbers were baptized within. We find that certain timbers were baptized without, such as all the trees that were in the world. Nevertheless the water was the same, not another sort; all had come from heaven, or from abysses of the fountains. It was the same water in which the incorruptible timbers which were in the ark were baptized, and in which the timbers that were without were baptized. The dove was sent forth, and at first found no rest for its feet; it returned to the ark, for all was full of water, and it preferred to return rather than be rebaptized. But the raven was sent out before the water was dried up. Rebaptized, it desired not to return, and died in those waters. May God avert from us that raven’s death. For why did not the raven return, unless because it was taken off by the waters? But on the other hand, the dove not finding rest for its feet, whilst the water was crying to it on every side, “Come, come, dip thyself here;” just as these heretics cry, “Come, come, here thou hast it;” the dove, finding no rest for its feet, returned to the ark. And Noah sent it out a second time, just as the ark sends you out to speak to them; and what did the dove afterwards? Because there were timbers without that were baptized, it brought back to the ark an olive branch. That branch had both leaves and fruit. Let there not be in thee words only, nor leaves only; let there be fruit, and thou returnest to the ark, not of thyself, the dove calls thee back. Groan ye without, that ye may call them back within.
20. Moreover, as to this fruit of the olive, if the matter be examined, you will find what it was. The fruit of the olive signifies charity. How do we prove this? Just as oil is kept down by no liquid, but bursting through all, bounds up and overtops them; so likewise charity cannot be pressed to the bottom, but must of necessity show itself at the top. Therefore the apostle says of it, “Yet show I unto you a more excellent137
22. But sayest thou, “Why do you seek us if we are bad men?” That you may be good. The reason why we seek you is, because you are bad; for if you were not bad, we should have found you, and would not be seeking you. He who is good is already found; he who is bad is still sought after. Consequently, we are seeking you; return ye to the ark. “But I have baptism already.” “Though I should know all mysteries,141
23. But what sayest thou? “Behold, we suffer many evils.” Would that ye suffered these for Christ, not for your own honor! Hear what follows: They, indeed, boast sometimes, because they do many alms, give to the poor; because they suffer afflictions: but it is for Donatus, not for Christ. Consider how thou sufferest; for if thou sufferest for Donatus, it is for a proud man: thou art not in the dove if thou art suffering for Donatus. Donatus was not the friend of the Bridegroom; for had he been, he would have sought the glory of the Bridegroom, not his own. See the friend of the Bridegroom saying, “This is He that baptizeth.” He, for whom thou art suffering, was not the friend of the Bridegroom. Thou hast not the wedding garment; and if thou art come to the feast, thou wilt be put out of doors; nay, thou hast been cast out of doors already, and for that reason thou art wretched: return at length, and do not boast. Hear what the apostle says: “Though I should distribute all my goods to the poor, and give my body to be burnt, but have not charity.” See what thou dost not have. “Though,” he saith, “I should give my body to be burnt;” and that, too, for the name of Christ; but since there are many who do this boastfully, not with charity, therefore, “Though I should give my body to be burnt, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”142
24. You see then, my brethren, that all things cry against them, all the divine pages, all prophecy, the whole gospel, all the apostolic letters, every sigh of the dove, and yet they awake not, they do not yet rouse from their sleep. But if we are the dove, let us groan, let us persevere, let us hope; God’s compassion will be with you, that the fire of the Holy Spirit may glow in your simplicity; and they will come. There must be no despairing; pray, preach, love; the Lord is able to the utmost. Already they begin to be sensible of their shame; many have become sensible of it, and blushed; Christ will aid, that the rest also may become sensible of it. However, my brethren, at least let the chaff alone remain there; let all the grain be gathered together; let whatever has borne fruit among them return to the ark by the dove.
25. Failing everywhere else, what do they now allege against us, not finding what to say? They have taken away our houses, they have taken away our estates. They bring forward wills. “See, Gaius Seius made a grant of an estate to the church over which Faustinus presided.” Of what church was Faustinus bishop? What is the church? To the church over which Faustinus presided, said he. But Faustinus presided not over a church, but over a sect. The dove, however, is the Church. Why cry out? We have not devoured houses; let the dove have them. Let inquiry be made who the dove is, and let her have them. For you know, my brethren, that those houses of theirs are not Augustin’s; and if you know it not, and imagine that I delight in the possession of them, God knows, yea, knows my judgment respecting those estates, and even what I suffer in that matter; He knows my groaning, since He has deigned to impart to me somewhat of the dove. Behold, there are those estates; by what right dost thou assert thy claim to them? By divine right, or by human? Let them answer: Divine right we have in the Scriptures, human right in the laws of kings. By what right does every man possess what he possesses? Is it not by human right? For by divine right, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”143
26. But what have we to do with the emperor? But I have already said that we are treating of human right. And yet the apostle would have us obey kings, would have us honor kings, and said, “Honor the king.”144