REPLY TO FAUSTUS THE MANICHAEAN

CONTRA FAUSTUM MANICHAEUM A.D. 400

BOOK XXII Part I

FAUSTUS STATES HIS OBJECTIONS TO THE MORALITY OF THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS, AND AUGUSTIN SEEKS BY THE APPLICATION OF THE TYPE AND THE ALLEGORY TO EXPLAIN AWAY THE MORAL DIFFICULTIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

1. FAUSTUS said: You ask why we blaspheme the law and the prophets. We are so far from professing or feeling any hostility to the law and the prophets, that we are ready, if you will allow us, to declare the falsehood of all the writings which make the law and the prophets appear objectionable. But this you refuse to admit, and by maintaining the authority of your writers, you bring a perhaps unmerited reproach upon the prophets; you slander the patriarchs, and dishonor the law. You are so unreasonable as to deny that your writers are false, while you uphold the piety and sanctity of those who are described in these writings as guilty of the worst crimes, and as leading wicked lives. These opinions are inconsistent; for either these were bad characters, or the writers were untruthful.

2. Supposing, then, that we agree in condemning the writers, we may succeed in vindicating the law and the prophets, By the law must be understood not circumcision, or Sabbaths, or sacrifices, or the other Jewish observances, but the true law, viz., Thou shall not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not bear false witness, and so on. To this law, promulgated throughout the world, that is, at the commencement of the present constitution of the world, the Hebrew writers did violence, by infecting it with the pollution of their disgusting precepts about circumcision and sacrifice. As a friend of the law, you should join with me in condemning the Jews for injuring the law by this mixture of unsuitable precepts. Plainly, you must be aware that these precepts are not the law, or any part of the law, since you claim to be righteous, though you make no attempt to keep the precepts. In seeking to lead a righteous life, you pay great regard to the commandments which forbid sinful actions, while you take no notice of the Jewish observances; which would be unjustifiable if they were one and the same law. You resent as a foul reproach being called negligent of the precept," Thou shalt not kill," or "Thou shall not commit adultery." And if you showed the same resentment at being called uncircumcised, or negligent of the Sabbath, it would be evident that you considered both to be the law and the commandment of God. In fact, however, you consider the honor and glory of keeping the one no way endangered by disregard of the other. It is plain, as I have said, that these observances are not the law, but a disfigurement of the law. If we condemn them, it is not as being genuine, but as spurious. In this condemnation there is no reproach of the law, or of God its author, but only of those who published their shocking superstitions under these names. If we sometimes abuse the venerable name of law in attacking the Jewish precepts, the fault is yours, for refusing to distinguish between Hebrew observances and the law. Only restore to the law its proper dignity, by removing these foul Israelitish blots; grant that these writers are guilty of disfiguring the law, and you will see at once that we are the enemies not of the law, but of Judaism. You are misled by the word law; for you do not know to what that name properly belongs.

3. For my part, I see no reason for your thinking that we blaspheme your prophets and patriarchs. There would indeed be some ground for the charge, if we had been directly or remotely the authors of the account given of their actions. But as this account is written either by themselves, in a criminal desire to be famous for their misdeeds, or by their companions and coevals, why should you blame us? You condemn them in abhorrence of the wicked actions of which they have voluntarily declared themselves guilty, though there was no occasion for such a confession. Or if the narrative is only a malicious fiction, let its authors be punished, let the books be condemned, let the prophetic name be cleared from this foul reproach, let the patriarchs recover the respect due to their simplicity and purity of managers.

4. These books, moreover, contain shocking calumnies against God himself. We are told that he existed from eternity in darkness, and admired the light when he saw it; that he was so ignorant of the future, that he gave Adam a command, not foreseeing that it would be broken; that his perception was so limited that he could not see Adam when, from the knowledge of his nakedness, he hid himself in a corner of Paradise; that envy made him afraid lest his creature man should taste of the tree of life, and live for ever; that afterwards he was greedy for blood, and fat from all kinds of sacrifices, and jealous if they were offered to any one but himself; that he was enraged sometimes against his enemies, sometimes against his friends; that he destroyed thousands of men for a slight offense, or for nothing; that he threatened to come with a sword and spare nobody, righteous or wicked. The authors of such bold libels against God might very well slander the men of God. You must join with us in laying the blame on the writers if you wish to vindicate the prophets.

5. Again, we are not responsible for what is said of Abraham, that in his irrational craving to have children, and not believing God, who promised that his wife Sara should have a son, he defiled himself with a mistress, with the knowledge of his wife, which only made it worse;(1) or that, in sacrilegious profanation of his marriage, he on different occasions, from avarice and greed, sold his wife Sara for the gratification of the kings Abimelech and Pharas, telling them that she was his sister, because she was very fair.(2) The narrative is not ours, which tells how Lot, Abraham's brother, after his escape from Sodom, lay with his two daughters on the mountain(3) (better for him to have perished in the conflagration of Sodom, than to have burned with incestuous passion); or how Isaac imitated his father's conduct, and called his wife Rebecca his sister, that he might gain a shameful livelihood by her;(4) or how his son Jacob, husband of four wives--two full sisters, Rachel and Leah, and their handmaids--led the life of a goat among them, so that there was a daily strife among his women who should be the first to lay hold of him when he came from the field, ending sometimes in their hiring him from one another for the night;(5) or, again, how his son Judah slept With his daughter-in-law Tamar, after she had been married to two of his sons, deceived, we are told, by the harlot's dress which Tamar put on, knowing that her father-in-law was in the habit of associating with such characters;(1) or how David, after having a number of wives, seduced the wife of his soldier Uriah, and caused Uriah himself to be killed in the battle;(2) or how his son Solomon had three hundred wives, and seven hundred concubines, and princesses without number;(3) or how the first prophet Hosea got children from a prostitute, and, what is worse, it is said that this disgraceful conduct was enjoined by God;(4) or how Moses committed murder,(5) and plundered Egypt,(6) and waged wars, and commanded, or himself perpetrated, many cruelties.(7) And he too was not content with one wife. We are neither directly nor remotely the authors of these and similar narratives, which are found in the books of the patriarchs and the prophets. Either your writers forged these things, or the fathers are really guilty. Choose which you please; the crime in either case is detestable, for vicious conduct and falsehood are equally hateful.

6. AUGUSTIN replied: You understand neither the symbols of the law nor the acts of the prophets, because you do not know what holiness or righteousness means. We have repeatedly shown at great length, that the precepts and symbols of the Old Testament contained both what was to be fulfilled in obedience through the grace bestowed in the New Testament, and what was to be set aside as a proof of its having been fulfilled in the truth now made manifest. For in the love of God and of our neighbor is secured the accomplishment of the precepts of the law, while the accomplishment of its promises is shown in the abolition of circumcision, and of other typical observances formerly practised. By the precept men were led, through a sense of guilt. to desire salvation; by the promise they were led to find in the typical observances the assurance that the Saviour would come. The salvation desired was to be obtained through the grace bestowed on the appearance of the New Testament; and the fulfillment of the expectation rendered the types no longer necessary. The same law that was given by Moses became grace and truth in Jesus Christ. By the grace in the pardon of sin, the precept is kept in force in the case of those supported by divine help. By the truth the symbolic rites are set aside, that the promise might, in those who trust in the divine faithfulness, be brought to pass.

7. Those, accordingly, who, finding fault with what they do not understand, call the typical institutions of the law disfigurements and excrescences, are like men displeased with things of which they do not know the use. As if a deaf man, seeing others move their lips in speaking, were to find fault with the motion of the mouth as needless and unsightly; or as if a blind man, on hearing a house commended, were to test the truth of what he heard by passing his hand over the surface of the wall, and on coming to the windows were to cry out against them as flaws in the level, or were to suppose that the wall had fallen in.

8. How shall I make those whose minds are full of vanity understand that the actions of the prophets were also mystical and prophetic? The vanity of their minds is shown in their thinking that we believe God to have once existed in darkness, because it is written, "Darkness was over the deep."(8) As if we called the deep God, where there was darkness, because the light did not exist there before God made it by His word. From their not distinguishing between the light which is God, and the light which God made, they imagine that God must have been in darkness before He made light, because darkness was over the deep before God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." In the New Testament both these things are ascribed to God. For we read, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;"(9) and again, "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts."(10) So also, in the Old Testament, the name "Brightness of eternal light"(11) is given to the wisdom of God, which certainly was not created, for by it all things were made; and of the light which exists only as the production of this wisdom it is said, "Thou wilt light my candle, O Lord; my God, Thou wilt enlighten my darkness."(12) In the same way, in the beginning, when darkness was over the deep, God said, "Let there be light, and there was light," which only the light-giving light, which is God Himself, could have made.

9. For as God is His own eternal happiness, and is besides the bestower of happiness, so He is His own eternal light, and is also the bestower of light. He envies the good of none, for He is Himself the source of happiness to all good beings; He fears the evil of none, for the loss of all evil beings is in their being abandoned by Him. He can neither be benefited by those on whom He Himself bestows happiness, nor is He afraid of those whose misery is the doom awarded by His own judgment. Very different, O Manichaeus, is the object of your worship. You have departed from God in the pursuit of your own fancies, which of all kinds have increased and multiplied in your foolish roving hearts, drinking in through the sense of sight the light of the heavenly bodies. This light, though it too is made by God, is not to be compared to the light created in the minds of the pious, whom God brings out of darkness into light, as He brings them out of sinfulness into righteousness. Still less can it be compared to that inaccessible light from which all kinds of light are derived. Nor is this light inaccessible to all; for "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."(1) "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;" but the wicked shall not see light, as is said in Isaiah.(2) To them the light-giving light is inaccessible. From the light comes not only the spiritual light in the minds of the pious, but also the material light, which is not denied to the wicked, but is made to rise on the evil and on the good.

10. So, when darkness was over the deep, He who was light said, "Let there be light." From what light this light came is clear; for the words are, "God said." What light is that which was made, is not so clear. For there has been a friendly discussion among students of the sacred Scriptures, whether God then made the light in the minds of the angels, or, in other words, these rational spirits themselves, or some material light which exists in the higher regions of the universe beyond our ken. For on the fourth day He made the visible luminaries of heaven. And it is also a question whether these bodies were made at the same time as their light, or were somehow kindled from the light made already. But whoever reads the sacred writings in the pious spirit which is required to understand them, must be convinced that whatever the light was which was made when, at the time that darkness was over the deep, God said, "Let there be light," it was created light, and the creating Light was the maker of it.

11. Nor does it follow that God, before He made light, abode in darkness, because it is said that darkness was over the deep, and then that the Spirit of God moved on the waters. The deep is the unfathomable abyss of the waters. And the carnal mind might suppose that the Spirit abode in the darkness which was over the deep, because it is said that He moved on the waters. This is from not understanding how the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not, till by the word of God those who were darkness are made light, and it is said to them, "Ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord."(3) But if rational minds which are in darkness through a sinful will cannot comprehend the light of the wisdom of God, though it is present everywhere, because they are separated from it not in place, but in disposition: why may not the Spirit of God have moved on the darkness of the waters, when He moved on the waters, though at an immeasurable distance from it, not in place, but in nature?

12. In all this I know I am singing to deaf ears; but the Lord, from whom is the truth which we speak, can open some ears to catch the strain. But what shall we say of those critics of the Holy Scriptures who object to God's being pleased with His own works, and find fault with the words, "God saw the light that it was good," as if this meant that God admired the light as something new? God's seeing His works that they were good, means that the Creator approved of His own works as pleasing to Himself. For God cannot be forced to do anything against His will, so that He should not be pleased with His own work; nor can He do anything by mistake, so that He should regret having done it. Why should the Manichaeans object to our God seeing His work that it was good, when their god placed a covering before himself when he mingled his own members with the darkness? For instead of seeing his work that it is good, he refuses to look at it because it is evil.

13. Faustus speaks of our God as astonished, which is not said in Scripture; nor does it follow that one must be astonished when he sees anything to be good. There are many good things which we see without being astonished, as if they were better than we expected; we merely approve of them as being what they ought to be. We can, however, give an instance of God being astonished, not from the Old Testament, which the Manichaeans assail with undeserved reproach, but from the New Testament, which they profess to believe in order to entrap the unwary. For they acknowledge Christ as God, and use this as a bait to entice Christ's followers into their snares. God, then, was astonished when Christ was astonished. For we read in the Gospel, that when Christ heard the faith of a certain centurion, He was astonished, and said to His disciples, "Verily I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."(4) We have already given our explanation of the words, "God saw that it was good." Better men may give a better explanation. Meanwhile let the Manichaeans explain Christ's being astonished at what He foresaw before it happened, and knew before He heard it. For though seeing a thing to be good is quite different from being astonished at it, in this case there is some resemblance, for Jesus was astonished at the light of faith which He Himself had created in the heart of the centurion; for Jesus is the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.

14. Thus an irreligious Pagan might bring the same reproaches against Christ in the Gospel, as Faustus brings against God in the Old Testament. He might say that Christ lacked foresight, not only because He was astonished at the faith of the centurion, but because He chose Judas as a disciple who proved disobedient to His commands; as Faustus objects to the precept given in Paradise, which, as it turned out, was not obeyed. He might also cavil at Christ's not knowing who touched Him, when the woman suffering from an issue of blood touched the hem of His garment; as Faustus blames God for not knowing where Adam had hid himself. If this ignorance is implied in God's saying, "Where art thou, Adam?"(1) the same may be said of Christ's asking, "Who touched me?"(2) The Pagans also might call Christ timid and envious, in not wishing five of the ten virgins to gain eternal life by entering into His kingdom, and in shutting them out, so that they knocked in vain in their entreaty to have the door opened, as if forgetful of His own promise, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you;"(3) as Faustus charges God with fear and envy in not admitting man after his sin to eternal life. Again, he might call Christ greedy of the blood, not of beasts, but of men, because he said, "He that loseth his life for my sake, shall keep it unto life eternal;"(4) as Faustus reproaches God in reference to those animal sacrifices which prefigured the sacrifice of blood-shedding by which we are redeemed. He might also accuse Christ of jealousy, because in narrating His driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, the evangelist quotes as applicable to Him the words, "The jealousy of Thine house hath eaten me up;"(5) as Faustus accuses God of jealousy in forbidding sacrifices to be offered to other gods. He might say that Christ was angry with both His friends and His enemies: with His friends, because He said, "The servant that knows his lord's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes;" and with His enemies, because He said, "If any one shall not receive you, shake off against him the dust of your shoes; verily I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for that city;"(6) as Faustus accuses God of being angry at one time with His friends, and at another with His enemies; both of whom are spoken of thus by the apostle: "They that have sinned without law shall perish without law, and they that have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law."(7) Or he might say that Christ shed the blood of many without mercy, for a slight offense or for nothing. For to a Pagan there would appear to be little or no harm in not having a wedding garment at the marriage feast, for which our King in the Gospel commanded a man to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness;(8) or in not wishing to have Christ for a king, which is the sin of which Christ says, "Those that would not have me to reign over them, bring hither and slay before me;"(9) as Faustus blames God in the Old Testament for slaughtering thousands of human beings for slight offenses, as Faustus calls them, or for nothing. Again, if Faustus finds fault with God's threatening to come with the sword, and to spare neither the righteous nor the wicked, might not the Pagan. find as much fault with the words of the Apostle Paul, when he says of our God," He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all;"(10) or of Peter, when, in exhorting the saints to be patient in the midst of persecution and slaughter, he says, "It is time that judgment begin from the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that believe not the gospel of the Lord? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?"(11) What can be more righteous than the Only-Begotten, whom nevertheless the Father did not spare? And what can be plainer than that the righteous also are not spared, but chastised with manifold afflictions, as is clearly implied in the words, "If the righteous scarcely are saved"? As it is said in the Old Testament, "Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth, and chastiseth every son whom He receiveth;"(12) and, "If we receive good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not also receive evil?"(13) So we read also in the New Testament, "Whom I love I rebuke and chasten;"(14) and, "If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged of the Lord; but when we are judged, we are corrected of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world."(15) If a Pagan were to make such objections to the New Testament, would not the Manichaeans try to answer them, though they themselves make similar objections to the Old Testament? But supposing them able to answer the Pagan, how absurd it would be to defend in the one Testament what they find fault with in the other! But if they could not answer the objections of the Pagan, why should they not allow in both Testaments, instead of in one only, that what appears wrong to unbelievers, from their ignorance, should be believed to be right by pious readers even when they also are ignorant?

15. Perhaps our opponents will maintain that these parallel passages quoted from the New Testament are themselves neither authoritative nor true: for they claim the impious liberty of holding and teaching, that whatever they deem favorable to their heresy was said by Christ and the apostles; while they have the profane boldness to say, that whatever in the same writings is unfavorable to them is a spurious interpolation I have already at some length, as far as the intention of the present work required, exposed the unreasonableness of this assault upon the authority of the whole of Scripture.

16. At present I would call attention to the fact, that when the Manichaeans, although they disguise their blasphemous absurdities under the name of Christianity, bring such objections against the Christian Scriptures, we have to defend the authority of the divine record in both Testaments against the Manichaeans as much as against the Pagans. A Pagan might find fault with passages in the New Testament in the same way as Faustus does with what he calls unworthy representations of God in the Old Testament; and the Pagan might be answered by the quotation of similar passages from his own authors, as in Paul's speech at Athens.(1) Even in Pagan writings we might find the doctrine that God created and constructed the world, and that He is the giver of light, which does not imply that before light was made He abode in darkness; and that when His work was finished He was elated with joy, which is more than saying that He saw that it was good; and that He made a law with rewards for obedience, and punishments for disobedience, by which they do not mean to say that God was ignorant of the future, because He gave a law to those by whom it was to be broken. Nor could they make asking questions a proof of a want of foresight even in a human being; for in their books many questions are asked only for the purpose of using the answers for the conviction of the persons addressed: for the questioner knows not only what answer he desires, but what will actually be given. Again, if the Pagan tried to make out God to be envious of any one, because He will not give happiness to the wicked, he would find many passages in the writings of his own authors in support of this principle of the divine government.

17. The only objection that a Pagan would make on the subject of sacrifice would refer to our reason for finding fault with Pagan sacrifices, when in the Old Testament God is described as requiring men to offer sacrifice to Him. If I were to reply at length on this subject, I might prove to him that sacrifice is due only to the one true God, and that this sacrifice was offered by the one true Priest, the Mediator of God and man; and that it was proper that this sacrifice should be pre figured by animal sacrifices, in order to foreshadow the flesh and blood of the one sacrifice for the remission of sins contracted by flesh and blood, which shall not inherit the kingdom of God: for the natural body will be endowed with heavenly attributes, as the fire in the sacrifice typified the swallowing up of death in victory. Those observances properly belonged to the people whose kingdom and priesthood were prophetic of the King and Priest who should come to govern and to consecrate believers in all nations, and to lead them into the kingdom of heaven, and the holy society of angels and eternal life. And as this true sacrifice was piously set forth in the Hebrew observances, so it was impiously caricatured by the Pagans, because, as the apostle says, what they offer they offer to devils, and not to God.(2) The typical rite of blood-shedding in sacrifice dates from the earliest ages, pointing forward from the outset of human history to the passion of the Mediator. For Abel is mentioned in the sacred Scripture as the first who offered such sacrifices.(3) We need not therefore wonder that fallen angels who occupy the air, and whose chief sins are pride and falsehood, should demand from their worshippers by whom they wished to be considered as gods what they knew to be due to God only. This deception was favored by the folly of the human heart, especially when regret for the dead led to the making of likenesses, and so to the use of images(4) By the increase of this homage, divine honors came to be paid to the dead as dwelling in heaven, while devils took their place on earth as the objects of worship, and required that their deluded and degraded votaries should present sacrifices to them. Thus the nature of sacrifice as due only to God appears not only when God righteously claims it, but also when a false god proudly arrogates it. If the Pagan was slow to believe these things, I should argue from the prophecies, and point out that, though uttered long ago, they are now fulfilled. If he still remained in unbelief, this is rather to be expected than to be wondered at; for the prophecy itself intimates that all would not believe.

18. If the Pagan, in the next place, were to find fault with both Testaments as attributing jealousy to God and Christ, he would only show his own ignorance of literature, or his forgetfulness. For though their philosophers distinguish between desire and passion, joy and gratification, caution and fear, gentleness and tender-heartedness, prudence and cunning, boldness and daring, and so on, giving the first name in each pair to what is good, and the second to what is bad, their books are notwithstanding full of instances in which, by the abuse of these words, virtues are called by the names which properly belong to vices; as passion is used for desire, gratification for joy, fear for caution, tender-heartedness for gentleness, cunning for prudence, daring for boldness. The cases are innumerable in which speech exhibits similar inaccuracies. Moreover, each language has its own idioms. For in religious writings I remember no instance of the word tender-heartedness being used in a bad sense. And common usage affords examples of similar peculiarities in the use of words. In Greek, one word stands for two distinct things, labor and pain; while we have a separate name for each. Again, we use the word in two senses, as when we say of what is not dead, that it has life; and again, of any one that he is a man of good life, whereas in Greek each of these meanings has a word of its own. So that, apart from the abuse of words which prevails in all languages, it may be an Hebrew idiom to use jealousy in two senses, as a man is called jealous when he suffers from a diseased state of mind caused by distress on account of the faithlessness of his wife, in which sense the word cannot be applied to God; or as when diligence is manifested in guarding conjugal chastity, in which sense it is profitable for us not only unhesitatingly to admit, but thankfully to assert, that God is jealous of His people when He calls them His wife, and warns them against committing adultery with a multitude of false gods. The same may be said of the anger of God. For God does not suffer perturbation when He visits men in anger; but either by an abuse of the word, or by a peculiarity of idiom, anger is used in the sense of punishment.

19. The slaughter of multitudes would not seem strange to the Pagan, unless he denied the judgment of God, which Pagans do not; for they allow that all things in the universe, from the highest to the lowest, are governed by God's providence. But if he would not allow this, he would be convinced either by the authority of Pagan writers, or by the more tedious method of demonstration; and if still obstinate and perverse, he would be left to the judgment which he denies. Then, if he were to give instances of the destruction of men for no offense, or for a very slight one, we should show that these were offenses, and that they were not slight. For instance, to take the case already referred to of the wedding garment, we should prove that it was a great crime in a man to attend the sacred feast, seeking not the bridegroom's glory, but his own, or whatever the garment may be found on better interpretation to signify. And in the case of the slaughter before the king of those who would not have him to reign over them, we might perhaps easily prove that, though it may be no sin in a man to refuse to obey his fellow-man, it is both a fault and a great one to reject the reign of Him in whose reign alone is there righteousness, and happiness, and continuance.

20. Lastly, as regards Faustus' crafty insinuation, that the Old Testament misrepresents God as threatening to come with a sword which will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked, if the words were explained to the Pagan, he would perhaps disagree neither with the Old Testament nor with the New; and he might see the beauty of the parable in the Gospel, which people who pretend to be Christians either misunderstand from their blindness, or reject from their perversity. The great husbandman of the vine uses his pruning-hook differently in the fruitful and in the unfruitful branches; yet he spares neither good nor bad, pruning one and cutting off the other.(1) There is no man so just as not to require to be tried by affliction to advance, or to establish, or to prove his virtue. Do the Manichaeans not reckon Paul as righteous, who, while confessing humbly and honestly his past sins, still gives thanks for being justified by faith in Jesus Christ? Was Paul then spared by Him whom fools misunderstand, when He says, "I will spare neither the righteous nor the sinner"? Hear the apostle himself: "Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. For this I besought the Lord thrice, that He would remove it from me; and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is perfected in weakness."(1) Here a just man is not spared that his strength might be perfected in weakness by Him who had given him an angel of Satan to buffet him. If yon say that the devil gave this angel, it follows that the devil sought to prevent Paul's being exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, and to perfect his strength. This is impossible. Therefore He who gave up this righteous man to be buffeted by the messenger of Satan, is the same as He who, through Paul, gave up to Satan himself the wicked persons of whom Paul says: "I have delivered them to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."(2) Do you see now how the Most High spares neither the righteous nor the wicked? Or is it the sword that frightens you? For to be buffeted is not so bad as to be put to death. But did not the thousands of martyrs suffer death in various forms? And could their persecutors have had this power against them except it had been given them by God, who thus spared neither the righteous nor the wicked? For the Lord Himself, the chief martyr, says expressly to Pilate: "Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above."(3) Paul also, besides recording his own experience, says that the afflictions and persecutions of the righteous exhibit the judgment of God.(4) This truth is set forth at length by the Apostle Peter in the passage already quoted, where he says: "It is time that judgment should begin at the house of the Lord. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of those that believe not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely are saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"(5) Peter also explains how the wicked are not spared, for they are branches broken off to be burnt; while the righteous are not spared, because their purification is to be brought to perfection. He ascribes these things to the will of Him who says in the Old Testament, I will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked; for he says: "It is better, if the will of the Spirit of God be so, that we suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing."(6) So, when by the will of the Spirit of God men suffer for well-doing, the righteous are not spared; when they suffer for evil-doing, the wicked are not spared. In both cases it is according to the will of Him who says: I will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked; correcting the one as a son, and punishing the other as a transgressor.

21. I have thus shown, to the best of my power, that the God we worship did not abide from eternity in darkness, but is Himself light, and in Him is no darkness at all; and in Himself dwells in light inaccessible; and the brightness of this light is His coeternal wisdom. From what we have said, it appears that God was not taken by surprise by the unexpected appearance of light, but that light owes its existence to Him as its Creator, as its owes its continued existence to His approval. Neither was God ignorant of the future, but the author of the precept as well as the punisher of disobedience; that by showing His righteous anger against transgression, He might provide a restraint for the time, and a warning for the future Nor does He ask questions from ignorance, but by His very inquiry declares His judgment. Nor is He curious or timid, but excludes the transgressor from eternal life, which is the just reward of obedience. Nor is He greedy for blood and fat; but by requiring from a carnal people sacrifices, suited to their character, He by certain types prefigures the true sacrifice. Nor is His jealousy an emotion of pale anxiety, but of quiet benevolence, in desire to keep the soul, which owes chastity to the one true God, from being defiled and prostituted by serving many false gods. Nor is He enraged with a passion similar to human auger, but is angry, not in the sense of desiring vengeance, but in the peculiar sense of giving full effect to the sentence of a righteous retribution. Nor does He destroy thousands of men for trifling offenses, or for nothing, but manifests to the world the benefit to be obtained from fearing Him, by the temporal death of those already mortal. Nor does He punish the righteous and sinners indiscriminately, but chastises the righteous for their good, in order to perfect them, and gives to sinners the punishment justly due to them. Thus, ye Manichaeans, do your suspicions lead you astray, when, by misunderstanding our Scriptures, or by hearing bad interpreters, you form a mistaken judgment of Catholics. Hence you leave sound doctrine, and turn to impious fables; and in your perversity and estrangement from the society of saints, you reject the instruction of the New Testament, which, as we have shown, contains statements similar to those which you condemn in the Old Testament. So we are obliged to defend both Testaments against you as well as against the Pagans.

22. But supposing that there is some one so deluded by carnality as to worship not the God whom we worship, who is one and true, but the fiction of your suspicions or your slanders, whom you say we worship, is not even this god better than yours? Observe, I beseech you, what must be plain to the feeblest understanding; for here there is no need of great perspicacity. I address all, wise and unwise. I appeal to the common sense and judgment of all alike. Hear, consider, judge. Would it not have been better for your god to have remained in darkness from eternity, than to have plunged the light coeternal with him and cognate to him into darkness? Would it not have been better to have expressed admiration in surprise at the appearance of a new light coming to scatter the darkness, than to have been unable to baffle the assault of darkness except by the concession of his own light? Unhappy if he did this in alarm, and cruel if there was no need of it. Surely it would have been better to see light, made by himself, and to admire it as good, than to make the light begotten by himself evil; better than that his own light should become hostile to himself in repelling the forces of darkness. For this will be the accusation against those who will be condemned for ever to the mass of darkness, that they suffered themselves to lose their original brightness, and became the enemies of sacred light. If they did not know from eternity that they would be thus condemned, they must have suffered the darkness of eternal ignorance; or if they did know, the darkness of eternal fear. Thus part of the substance of your god really did remain from eternity in its own darkness; and instead of admiring new light on its appearance, it only met with another and a hostile darkness, of which it had always been in fear. Indeed, God himself must have been in the darkness of fear for this part of himself, if he was dreading the evil coming upon it. If he did not foresee the evil, he must have been in the darkness of ignorance. If he foresaw it, and was not in fear, the darkness of such cruelty is worse than the darkness either of ignorance or of fear. Your god appears to be destitute of the quality which the apostle commends in the body, which you insanely believe to be made not by God, but by Hyle: "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it."(1) But suppose he did suffer; he foresaw, he feared, he suffered, but he could not help himself. Thus he remained from eternity in the darkness of his own misery; and then, instead of admiring a new light which was to drive away the darkness, he came in contact, to the injury of his own light, with another darkness which he had always dreaded. Again, would it not have been much better, I say, not to have given a commandment like God, but even to have received a commandment like Adam, which he would be rewarded for keeping and punished for breaking, acting either way by his own free-will, than to be forced by inevitable necessity to admit darkness into his light in spite of himself? Surely it would have been better to have given a precept to human nature, not knowing that it would become sinful, than to have been driven by necessity to sin contrary to his own divine nature. Think for a moment, and say how darkness could be conquered by one who was himself conquered by necessity. Conquered already by this greater enemy, he fought under his conqueror's orders against a less formidable opponent. Would it not have been better not to know where Adam had hid himself, than to have been himself destitute of any means of escape, first from a hard and hateful necessity, and then from a dissimilar and hostile race? Would it not have been better to grudge eternal life to human nature, than to consign to misery the divine nature; to desire the blood and fat of sacrifices, than to be himself slaughtered in so many forms, on account of his mixture with the blood and fat of every victim; to be disturbed by jealousy at these sacrifices being offered to other gods as well as to himself, than to be himself offered on all altars to all devils, as mixed up not only with all fruits, but also with all animals? Would it not have been much better to be affected even with human anger, so as to be enraged against both his friends and his enemies for their sins, than to be himself influenced by fear as well as by anger wherever these passions exist, or than to share in all the sin that is committed, and in all punishment that is suffered? For this is the doom of that part of your god which is in confinement everywhere, condemned to this by himself, not as guilty, but in order to conquer his dreaded enemy. Doomed himself to such a fatal necessity, the part of himself which he has given over to condemnation might pardon him, if he were as humble as he is miserable. But how can you pretend to find fault with God for His anger against both friends and enemies when they sin, when the god of your fancies first under compulsion compels his own members to go to be devoured by sin, and then condemns them to remain in darkness? Though he does this, you say that it will not be in anger. But will he not be ashamed to punish, or to appear to punish, those from whom he should ask pardon in words such as these: "Forgive me, I beseech you. You are my members; could I treat you thus, except from necessity? You know yourselves, that you were sent here because a formidable enemy had arisen; and now you must remain here to prevent his rising again"? Again, is it not better to slay thousands of men for trifling faults, or for nothing, than to cast into the abyss of sin, and to condemn to the punishment of eternal imprisonment, God's own members, his substance--in fact, God himself? It cannot properly be said of the real substance of God that it has the choice of sinning or not sinning, for God's substance is absolutely unchangeable. God cannot sin, as He cannot deny Himself Man, on the contrary, can sin and deny God, or he can choose not to do so. But suppose the members of your god had, like a rational human soul, the choice of sinning or not sinning; they might perhaps be justly punished for heinous offenses by confinement in the mass of darkness. But you cannot attribute to these parts a liberty which you deny to God himself. For if God had not given them up to sin, he would have been forced to sin himself, by the prevalence of the race of darkness. But if there was no danger of being thus forced, it was a sin to send these parts to a place where they incurred this danger. To do so, indeed, from free choice is a crime deserving the torment which your god unnaturally inflicts upon his own parts, more than the conduct of these parts in going by his command to a place where they lost the power of living in righteousness. But if God himself was in danger of being forced to sin by invasion and capture, unless he had secured himself first by the misconduct and then by the punishment of his own parts, there can have been no free-will either in your god or in his parts. Let him not set himself up as judge, but confess himself a criminal. For though he was forced against his own will, he professes to pass a righteous sentence in condemning those whom he knows to have suffered evil rather than done it; making this profession that he may not be thought of as having been conquered; as if it could do a beggar any good to be called prosperous and happy. Surely it would have been better for your god to have spared neither righteous nor wicked in indiscriminate punishment (which is Faustus' last charge against our God), than to have been so cruel to his own members,--first giving them up to incurable contamination, and then, as if that was not enough, accusing them falsely of misconduct. Faustus declares that they justly suffer this severe and eternal punishment, because they allowed themselves to be led astray from their original brightness, and became hostile to sacred light. But the reason of this, as Faustus says, was that they were so greedily devoured in the first assault of the princes of darkness, that they were unable to recover themselves, or to separate themselves from the hostile principle. These souls, therefore, did no evil themselves, but in all this were innocent sufferers. The real agent was he who sent them away from himself into this wretchedness. They suffered more from their father than from their enemy. Their father sent them into all this misery; while their enemy desired them as something good, wishing not to hurt them, but to enjoy them. The one injured them knowingly, the other in ignorance. This god was so weak and helpless that he could not otherwise secure himself first against an enemy threatening attack, and then against the same enemy in confinement. Let him, then, not condemn those parts whose obedience defended him, and whose death secures his safety. If he could not avoid the conflict, why slander his defenders? When these parts allowed themselves to be led astray from their original brightness, and became hostile to sacred light, this must have been from the force of the enemy; and if they were forced against their will, they are innocent; while, if they could have resisted had they chosen, there is no need of the origin of evil in an imaginary evil nature, since it is to be found in free-will. Their not resisting, when they could have done so, is plainly their own fault, and not owing to any force from without. For, supposing them able to do a thing, to do which is right, while not to do it is great and heinous sin, their not doing it is their own choice. So, then, if they choose not to do it, the fault is in their will not in necessity. The origin of sin is in the will; therefore in the will is also the origin of evil, both in the sense of acting against a just precept, and in the sense of suffering under a just sentence. There is thus no reason why, in your search for the origin of evil, you should fall into so great an evil as that of calling a nature so rich in good things the nature of evil, and of attributing the terrible evil of necessity to the nature of perfect good, before any commixture with evil. The cause of this erroneous belief is your pride, which you need not have unless you choose; but in your wish to defend at all hazards the error into which you have fallen, you take away the origin of evil from freewill, and place it in a fabulous nature of evil. And thus you come at last to say, that the souls which are to be doomed to eternal confinement in the mass of darkness became enemies to sacred light not from choice, but by necessity; and to make your god a judge with whom it is of no use to prove, in behalf of your clients. that they were under compulsion, and a king who will make no allowance for your brethren, his own sons and members, whose hostility against you and against himself you ascribe not to choice, but to necessity. What shocking cruelty! unless you proceed in the next place to defend your god, as also acting not from choice, but by necessity. So, if there could be found another judge free from necessity, who could decide the question on the principles of equity, he would sentence your god to be bound to this mass, not by being fastened on the outside, but by being shut up inside along with the formidable enemy. The first in the guilt of necessity ought to be first in the sentence of condemnation. Would it not be much better. then, in comparison with such a god as tills, to choose the god whom we indeed do not worship, but whom you think or pretend to think we worship? Though he spares not his servants, whether righteous or sinful, making no proper separation, and not distinguishing between punishment and discipline, is he not better than the god who spares not his own members though innocent, if necessity is no crime, or guilty from their obedience to him, if necessity itself is criminal; so that they are condemned eternally by him, along with whom they should have been released, if any liberty was recovered by the victory, while he should have bean condemned along with them if the victory reduced the force of necessity even so far as to give this small amount of force to justice? Thus the god whom you represent us as worshipping, though he is not the one true God whom we really worship, is far better than your god. Neither, indeed, has any existence; but both are the creatures of your imaginations. But, according to your own representations, the one whom you call ours, and find fault with, is better than the one whom you call your own, and whom you worship.[1]

23. So also the patriarchs and prophets whom you cry out against are not the men whom we honor, but men whose characters are drawn from your fancy, prompted by illwill. And yet even thus as you paint them, I will not be content with showing them to be superior to your elect, who keep all the precepts of Manichaeus, but will prove their superiority to your god himself. Before proving this, however, I must, with the help of God, defend our holy fathers the patriarchs and prophets against your accusations, by a clear exposition of the truth as opposed to the carnality of your hearts. As for you Manichaeans, it would be enough to say that the faults you impute to our fathers are preferable to what you praise in your own, and to complete your shame by adding that your god can be proved far inferior to our fathers as you describe them. This would be a sufficient reply for you. But as, even apart from your perversities, some minds are of themselves disturbed when comparing the life of the prophets in the Old Testament with that of the apostles in the New,--not discerning between the manner of the time when the promise was under a veil, and that of the time when the promise is revealed,--I must first of all reply to those who either have the boldness to pride themselves as superior in temperance to the prophets, or quote the prophets in defence of their own bad conduct.

24. First of all, then, not only the speech of these men, but their life also, was prophetic; and the whole kingdom of the Hebrews was like a great prophet, corresponding to the greatness of the Person prophesied. So, as regards those Hebrews who were made wise in heart by divine instruction, we may discover a prophecy of the coming of Christ and of the Church, both in what they said and in what they did; and the same is true as regards the divine procedure towards the whole nation as a body. For, as the apostle says, "all these things were our examples."

25. Those who find fault with the prophets, accusing them of adultery for instance, in actions which are above their comprehension, are like those Pagans who profanely charge Christ with folly or madness because He looked for fruit from a tree out of the season;[2] or with childishness, because He stooped down and wrote on the ground, and, after answering the people who were questioning Him, began writing again.[3] Such critics are incapable of understanding that certain virtues in great minds resemble closely the vices of little minds, not in reality, but in appearance. Such criticism of the great is like that of boys at school, whose learning consists in the important rule, that if the nominative is in the singular, the verb must also be in the singular; and so they find fault with the best Latin author, because he says, Pars in frusta secant.[1] He should have written, say they, secat. And again, knowing that religio is spelt with one l, they blame him for writing relligio, when he says, Relligione patrum.[2] Hence it may with reason be said, that as the peotical usage of words differs from the solecisms and barbarisms of the unlearned, so, in their own way, the figurative actions of the prophets differ from the impure actions of the vicious. Accordingly, as a boy guilty of a barbarism would be whipped if he pled the usage of Virgil; so any one quoting the example of Abraham begetting a son from Hagar, in defence of his own sinful passion for his wife's handmaid, ought to be corrected not by carting only, but by severe scourging, that he may not suffer the doom of adulterers in eternal punishment. This indeed is a comparison of great and important subjects with trifles; and it is not intended that a peculiar usage in speech should be put on a level with a sacrament, or a solecism with adultery. Still, allowing for the difference in the character of the subjects, what is called learning or ignorance in the proprieties and improprieties of speech, resembles wisdom or the want of it in reference to the grand moral distinction between virtue and vice.[3]

26. Instead of entering on the distinctions between the praiseworthy and the blameworthy, the criminal and the innocent, the dangerous and the harmless, the guilty and the guiltless, the desirable and the undesirable, which are all illustrations of the distinction between sin and righteousness, we must first consider what sin is, and then examine the actions of the saints as recorded in the holy books, that, if we find these saints described as sinning, we may if possible discover the true reason for keeping these sins in memory by putting them on record. Again, if we find things recorded which, though they are not sins, appear so to the foolish and the malevolent, and in fact do not exhibit any virtues, here also we have to see why these things are put into the Scriptures which we believe to contain wholesome doctrine as a guide in the present life, and a title to the inheritance of the future. As regards the examples of righteousness found among the acts of the saints, the propriety of recording these must be plain even to the ignorant. The question is about those actions the mention of which may seem useless if they are neither righteous nor sinful, or even dangerous if the actions are really sinful, as leading people to imitate them, because they are not condemned in these books, and so may be supposed not to be sinful, or because, though they are condemned, men may copy them from the idea that they must be venial if saints did them.

27. Sin, then, is any transgression in deed, or word, or desire, of the eternal law. And the eternal law is the divine order or will of God, which requires the preservation of natural order, and forbids the breach of it. But what is this natural order in man? Man, we know, consists of soul and body; but so does a beast. Again, it is plain that in the order of nature the soul is superior to the body. Moreover, in the soul of man there is reason, which is not in a beast. Therefore, as the soul is superior to the body, so in the soul itself the reason is superior by the law of nature to the other parts which are found also in beasts; and in reason itself, which is partly contemplation and partly action, contemplation is unquestionably the superior part. The object of contemplation is the image of God, by which we are renewed through faith to sight. Rational action ought therefore to be subject to the control of contemplation, which is exercised through faith while we are absent from the Lord, as it will be hereafter through sight, when we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.[4] Then in a spiritual body we shall by His grace be made equal to angels, when we put on the garment of immortality and incorruption, with which this mortal and corruptible shall be clothed, that death may be swallowed up of victory, when righteousness is perfected through grace. For the holy and lofty angels have also their contemplation and action. They require of themselves the performance of the commands of Him whom they contemplate, whose eternal government they freely because sweetly obey. We, on the other hand, whose body is dead because of sin, till God quicken also our mortal bodies by His Spirit dwelling in us, live righteously in our feeble measure, according to the eternal law in which the law of nature is preserved, when we live by that faith unfeigned which works by love, having in a good conscience a hope of immortality and in-corruption laid up in heaven, and of the perfecting of righteousness to the measure of an inexpressible satisfaction, for which in our pilgrimage we must hunger and thirst, while we walk by faith and not by sight.

28. A man, therefore, who acts in obedience to the faith which obeys God, restrains all mortal affections, and keeps them within the natural limit, regulating his desires so as to put the higher before the lower. If there was no pleasure in what is unlawful, no one would sin. To sin is to indulge this pleasure instead of restraining it. And by unlawful is meant what is forbidden by the law in which the order of nature is preserved. It is a great question whether there is any rational creature for which there is no pleasure in what is unlawful. If there is such a class of creatures, it does not include man, nor that angelic nature which abode not in the truth. These rational creatures were so made, that they had the potentiality of restraining their desires from the unlawful; and in not doing this they sinned. Great, then, is the creature man, for he is restored by this potentiality, by which, if he had so chosen, he would not have fallen. And great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, who created man. For He created also inferior natures which cannot sin, and superior natures which will not sin. Beasts do not sin, for their nature agrees with the eternal law from being subject to it, without being in possession of it. And again, angels do not sin, because their heavenly nature is so in possession of the eternal law that God is the only object of its desire, and they obey His will without any experience of temptation. But man, whose life on this earth is a trial on account of sin, subdues to himself what he has in common with beasts, and subdues to God what he has in common with angels; till, when righteousness is perfected and immortality attained, he shall be raised from among beasts and ranked with angels.

29. The exercise or indulgence of the bodily appetites is intended to secure the continued existence and the invigoration of the individual or of the species. If the appetites go beyond this, and carry the man, no longer master of himself, beyond the limits of temperance, they become unlawful and shameful lusts, which severe discipline must subdue. But if this unbridled course ends in plunging the man into such a depth of evil habits that he supposes that there will be no punishment of his sinful passions, and so refuses the wholesome discipline of confession and repentance by which he might be rescued; or, from a still worse insensibility, justifies his own indulgences in profane opposition to the eternal law of Providence; and if he dies in this state, that unerring law sentences him now not to correction, but to damnation.

30. Referring, then, to the eternal law which enjoins the preservation of natural order and forbids the breach of it, let us see how our father Abraham sinned, that is, how he broke this law, in the things which Faus-tus has charged him with as highly criminal. In his irrational craving to have children, says Faustus, and not believing God, who promised that his wife Sara should have a son, he defiled himself with a mistress. But here Faustus, in his irrational desire to find fault, both discloses the impiety of his heresy, and in his error and ignorance praises Abraham's intercourse with the handmaid. For as the eternal law--that is, the will of God the Creator of all--for the preservation of the natural order, permits the indulgence of the bodily appetite under the guidance of reason in sexual intercourse, not for the gratification of passion, but for the continuance of the race through the procreation of children; so, on the contrary, the unrighteous law of the Manichaeans, in order to prevent their god, whom they bewail as confined in all seeds, from suffering still closer confinement in the womb, requires married people not on any account to have children, their great desire being to liberate their god. Instead, therefore, of an irrational craving in Abraham to have children, we find in Manichaeus an irrational fancy against having children. So the one preserved the natural order by seeking in marriage only the production of a child; while the other, influenced by his heretical notions, thought no evil could be greater than the confinement of his god.

31. So, again, when Faustus says that the wife's being privy to her husband's conduct made the matter worse, while he is prompted only by the uncharitable wish to reproach Abraham and his wife, he really, without intending it, speaks in praise of both. For Sara did not connive at any criminal action in her husband for the gratification of his unlawful passions; but from the same natural desire for children that he had, and knowing her own barrenness, she warrantably claimed as her own the fertility of her handmaid; not consenting with sinful desires in her husband, but requesting of him what it was proper in him to grant. Nor was it the request of proud assumption; for every one knows that the duty of a wife is to obey her husband. But in reference to the body, we are told by the apostle that the wife has power over her husband's body, as he has over hers;[1] so that, while in all other social matters the wife ought to obey her husband, in this one matter of their bodily connection as man and wife their power over one another is mutual,--the man over the woman, and the woman over the man. So, when Sara could not have children of her own, she wished to have them by her handmaid, and of the same seed from which she herself would have had them, if that had been possible. No woman would do this if her love for her husband were merely an animal passion; she would rather be jealous of a mistress than make her a mother. So here the pious desire for the procreation of children was an indication of the absence of criminal indulgence.

32. Abraham, indeed, cannot be defended, if, as Faustus says, he wished to get children by Hagar, because he had no faith in God, who promised that he should have children by Sara. But this is an entire mistake: this promise had not yet been made. Any one who reads the preceding chapters will find that Abraham had already got the promise of the land with a countless number of inhabitants,[1] but that it had not yet been made known to him how the seed spoken of was to be produced, whether by generation from his own body, or from his choice in the adoption of a son, or, in the case of its being from his own body, whether it would be by Sara or another. Whoever examines into this will find that Faustus has made either an imprudent mistake or an impudent misrepresentation. Abraham, then, when he saw that he had no children, though the promise was to his seed, thought first of adoption. This appears from his saying of his slave, when speaking to God, "This is mine heir;" as much as to say, As Thou hast not given me a seed of my own, fulfill Thy promise in this man. For the word seed may be applied to what has not come oat of a man's own body, else the apostle could not call us the seed of Abraham: for we certainly are not his descendants in the flesh; but we are his seed in following his faith, by believing in Christ, whose flesh did spring from the flesh of Abraham. Then Abraham was told by the Lord "This shall not be thine heir; but he thai cometh out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir."[2] The thought of adoption was thus removed; but it still remained uncertain whether the seed which was to come from himself would be by Sara or another. And this God was pleased to keep concealed, till a figure of the Old Testament had been supplied in the handmaid. We may thus easily understand how Abraham, seeing that his wife was barren, and that she desired to obtain from her husband and her handmaid the offspring which she herself could not produce, acted not in compliance with carnal appetite, but in obedience to conjugal authority, believing that Sara had the sanction of God for her wish; because God had already promised him an heir from his own body, but had not foretold who was to be the mother. Thus, when Faustus shows his own infidelity in accusing Abraham of unbelief, his groundless accusation only proves the madness of the assailant. In other cases, Faustus' infidelity has prevented him from understanding; but here, in his love of slander, he has not even taken time to read.

33. Again, when Faustus accuses a righteous and faithful man of a shameless profanation of his marriage from avarice and greed, by selling his wife Sara at different times to the two kings Abimelech and Pharaoh, telling them that she was his sister, because she was very fair, he does not distinguish justly between right and wrong, but unjustly condemns the whole transaction. Those who think that Abraham sold his wife cannot discern in the light of the eternal law the difference between sin and righteousness; and so they call perseverance obstinacy, and confidence presumption, as in these and similar cases men of wrong judgment are wont to blame what they suppose to be wrong actions. Abraham did not become partner in crime with his wife by selling her to others: but as she gave her handmaid to her husband, not to gratify his passion, but for the sake of offspring, in the authority she had consistently with the order of nature, requiring the performance of a duty, not complying with a sinful desire; so in this case, the husband, in perfect assurance of the chaste attachment of his wife to himself, and knowing her mind to be the abode of modest and virtuous affection, called her his sister, without saying that she was his wife, test he himself should be killed, and his wife fall into the hands of strangers and evil-doers: for he was assured by his God that He would not allow her to suffer violence or disgrace. Nor was he disappointed in his faith and hope; for Pharaoh, terrified by strange occurrences, and after enduring many evils on account of her, when he was informed by God that Sara was Abraham's wife, restored her with honor uninjured. Abimelech also did the same, after learning the truth in a dream.

34. Some people, not scoffers and evil-speakers like Faustus, but men who pay due honor to the Scriptures, which Faustus finds fault with because he does not understand them, or which he fails to understand because of his fault-finding, in commenting on this act of Abraham, are of opinion that he stumbled from weakness of faith, and denied his wife from fear of death, as Peter denied the Lord. If this is the correct view, we must allow that Abraham sinned; but the sin should not cancel or obliterate all his merits, any more than in the case of the apostle. Besides, to deny his wife is not the same as to deny the Saviour. But when there is another explanation, why not abide by it, instead of giving blame without cause, since there is no proof that Abraham told a lie from fear? He did not deny that Sara was his wife in answer to any question on the subject; but when asked who she was, he said she was his sister, without denying her to be his wife: he concealed part of the truth, but said nothing false.

35. It is waste of time to observe Faustus' remark, that Abraham falsely called Sara his sister; as if Faustus had discovered the family of Sara, though it is not mentioned in Scripture. In a matter which Abraham knew, and we do not, it is surely better to believe the patriarch when he says what he knows, than to believe Manichaeus when he finds fault with what he knows nothing about. Since, then, Abraham lived at that period in human history, when, though marriage had become unlawful between children of the same parents, or of the same father or mother, no law or authority interfered with the custom of marriage between the children of brothers, or any less degree of consanguinity, why should he not have had as wife his sister, that is, a woman descended from his father? For he himself told the king, when he restored Sara, that she was his sister by his father, and not by his mother. And on this occasion he could not have been led to tell a falsehood from fear, for the king knew that she was his wife, and was restoring her with honor, because he had been warned by God. We learn from Scripture that, among the ancients, it was customary to call cousins brothers and sisters. Thus Tobias says in his prayer to God, before having intercourse with his wife, 'And now, O Lord, Thou knowest that not in wantonness I take to wife my sister;"[1] though she was not sprung immediately from the same father or the same mother, but only belonged to the same family. And Lot is called the brother of Abraham, though Abraham was his uncle.[2] And, by the same use of the word, those called in the Gospel the Lord's brothers are certainly not children of the Virgin Mary, but all the blood relations of the Lord.[3]

36. Some may say, Why did not Abraham's confidence in God prevent his being afraid to confess his wife? God could have warded off from him the death which he feared, and could have protected both him and his wife while among strangers, so that Sara, although very fair, should not have been desired by any one, nor Abraham killed on account of her. Of course, God could have done this; it would be absurd to deny it. But if, in reply to the people, Abraham had told them that Sara was his wife, his trust in God would have included both his own life and the chastity of Sara. Now it is part of sound doctrine, that when a man has any means in his power, he should not tempt the Lord his God. So it was not because the Saviour was unable to protect His disciples that He told them, "When ye are persecuted in one city, flee to another."[4] And He Himself set the example. For though He had the power of laying down His own life, and did not lay it down till He chose to do so, still when an infant He fled to Egypt, carried by His parents;[5] and when He went up to the feast, He went not openly, but secretly, though at other times He spoke openly to the Jews, who in spite of their rage and hostility could not lay hands on Him, because His hour was not come,[6]--not the hour when He would be obliged to die, but the hour when He would consider it seasonable to be put to death. Thus He who displayed divine power by teaching and reproving openly, without allowing the rage of his enemies to hurt Him, did also, by escaping and concealing Himself, exhibit the conduct becoming the feebleness of men, that they should not tempt God when they have any means in their power of escaping threatened danger. So also in the apostle, it was not from despair of divine assistance and protection, or from loss of faith, that he was let down over the wall in a basket, in order to escape being taken by his enemies:[7] not from want of faith in God did he thus escape, but because not to escape, when this escape was possible, would have been tempting God. Accordingly, when Abraham was among strangers, and when, on account of the remarkable beauty of Sara, both his life and her chastity were in danger, since it was in his power to protect not both of these, but one only,--his life, namely,--to avoid tempting God he did what he could; and in what he could not do, he trusted to God. Unable to conceal his being a man, he concealed his being a husband, test he should be put to death; trusting to God to preserve his wife's purity.

37. There might also be a difference of opinion on the nice point whether Sara's chastity would have been violated even if some one had intercourse with her, since she submitted to this to save her husband's life, both with his knowledge and by his authority. In this there would be no desertion of conjugal fidelity or rebellion against her husband's authority; in the same way as Abraham was not an adulterer, when, in submission to the lawful authority of his wife, he consented to be made a father by his wife's handmaid. But, from the nature of the relationship, for a wife to have two husbands, both in life, is not the same thing as for a man to have two wives: so that we regard the explanation already given of Abraham's conduct as the most correct and unobjectionable; that our father Abraham avoided tempting God by taking what measures he could for the preservation of his own life, and that he showed his hope in God by entrusting to Him the chastity of his wife.

38. But a pleasure which all must feel is obtained from this narrative so faithfully recorded in the Holy Scriptures, when we examine into the prophetic character of the action, and knock with pious faith and diligence at the door of the mystery, that the Lord may open, and show us who was prefigured in the ancient personage, and whose wife this is, who, while in a foreign land and among strangers, is not allowed to be stained or defiled, that she may be brought to her own husband without spot or wrinkle. Thus we find that the righteous life of the Church is for the glory of Christ, that her beauty may bring honor to her husband, as Abraham was honored on account of the beauty of Sara among the inhabitants of that foreign land. To the Church, to whom it is said in the Song of Songs, "O thou fairest among women,"(1) kings offer gifts in acknowledgment of her beauty; as king Abimelech offered gifts to Sara, admiring the grace of her appearance; all the more that, while he loved, he was not allowed to profane it. The holy Church, too is in secret the spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is secretly, and in the hidden depths of the Spirit, that the soul of man is joined to the word of God, so that they two are one flesh; of which the apostle speaks as a great mystery in marriage, as referring to Christ and the Church.(2) Again, the earthly kingdom of this world, typified by the kings which were not allowed to defile Sara, had no knowledge or experience of the Church as the spouse of Christ, that is, of how faithfully she maintained her relation to her Husband, till it tried to violate her, and was compelled to yield to the divine testimony borne by the faith of the martyrs, and in the person of later monarchs was brought humbly to honor with gifts the Bride whom their predecessors had not been able to humble by subduing her to themselves. What, in the type, happened in the reign of one and the same king, is fulfilled in the earlier monarchs of this era and their successors.

39. Again, when it is said that the Church is the sister of Christ, not by the mother but by the father, we learn the excellence of the relation, which is not of the temporary nature of earthly descent, but of divine grace, which is everlasting. By this grace we shall no longer be a race of mortals when we receive power to be called and to become sons of God. This grace we obtain not from the synagogue, which is the mother of Christ after the flesh, but from God the Father. And when Christ calls us into another life where there is no death, He teaches us, instead of acknowledging, to deny the earthly relationship, where death soon follows upon birth; for He says to His disciples, "Call no man your father upon earth; for you have one Father, who is in heaven."(3) And He set us an example of this when He said, "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth His hand to His disciples, He said, These are my brethren." And lest any one should think that He referred to an earthly relationship, He added, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother;"(4) as much as to say, I derive this relationship from God my Father, not from the Synagogue my mother; I call you to eternal life, where I have an immortal birth, not to earthly life, for to call you away from this life I have taken mortality.

40. As for the reason why, though it is concealed among strangers whose wife the Church is, it is not hidden whose sister she is, it is plainly because it is obscure and hard to understand how the human soul and the Word of God are united or mingled, or whatever word may be used to express this connection between God and the creature. It is from this connection that Christ and the Church are called bridegroom and bride, or husband and wife. The other relationship, in which Christ and all the saints are brethren by divine grace and not by earthly consanguinity, or by the father and not by the mother, is more easily expressed in words, and more easily understood. For the same grace makes all the saints to be also brethren of one another; while in their society no one is the bridegroom of all the rest. So also, notwithstanding the surpassing justice and wisdom of Christ, His manhood was much more plainly and readily recognized by strangers, who, indeed, were not wrong in believing Him to be man, but they did not understand His being God as well as man. Hence Jeremiah says: "He is both a man, and who shall know Him?"(1) He is a man, for it is made manifest that He is a brother. And who shall know Him? for it is concealed that He is a husband. This must suffice as a defense of our father Abraham against Faustus' impudence and ignorance and malice.

41. Lot also, the brother of Abraham, was just and hospitable in Sodom, and was found worthy to escape the conflagration which prefigured the future judgment; for he was free from all participation in the corruption of the people of Sodom. He was a type of the body of Christ, which in the person of all the saints both groans now among the ungodly and wicked, to whose evil deeds it does not consent, and will at the end of the world be rescued from their society, when they are doomed to the punishment of eternal fire Lot's wife was the type of a different class of men,--of those, namely, who, when called by the grace of God, look back, instead of, like Paul, forgetting the things that are behind, and looking forward to the things that are before.(2) The Lord Himself says: "No man that putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is fit for the kingdom of Heaven."(3) Nor did He omit to mention the case of Lot's wife; for she, for our warning, was turned into a pillar of salt, that being thus seasoned we might not trifle thoughtlessly with this danger, but be on our guard against it. So, when the Lord was admonishing every one to get rid of the things that are behind by the most strenuous endeavor to reach the things that are before, He said, "Remember Lot's wife."(4) And, in addition to these, there is still a third type in Lot, when his daughters lay with him. For here Lot seems to prefigure the future law; for those who spring from the law, and are placed under the law, by misunderstanding it, stupefy it, as it were, and bring forth the works of unbelief by an unlawful use of the law. "The law is good" says the apostle, "if a man use it lawfully."(5)

42. It is no excuse for this action of Lot or of his daughters that it represented the perversity which was afterwards in certain cases to be displayed. The purpose of Lot's daughters is one thing, and the purpose of God is another, in allowing this to happen that He might make some truth manifest; for God both pronounces judgment on the actions of the people of those times, and arranges in His providence for the prefigurement of the future. As a part of Scripture, this action is a prophecy; as part of the history of those concerned, it is a crime.

43. At the same time there is in this transaction no reason for the torrent of abuse which Faustus' blind hostility discharges on it. By the eternal law which requires the preservation of the order of nature and condemns its violation, the judgment in this case is not what it would have been if Lot had been prompted by a criminal passion to commit incest with his daughters, or if they had been inflamed with unnatural desires. In justice, we must ask not only what was done, but with what motive, in order to obtain a fair view of the action as the effect of that motive. The resolution of Lot's daughters to lie with their father was the effect of the natural desire for offspring in order to preserve the race; for they supposed that there were no other men to be found, thinking that the whole world had been consumed in that conflagration, which, for all they knew, had left no one alive but themselves. It would have been better for them never to have been mothers, than to have become mothers by their own father. But still, the fulfillment of a desire like this is very different from the accursed gratification of lust.

44. Knowing that their father would condemn their design, Lot's daughters thought it necessary to fulfill it without his knowledge. We are told that they made him drunk, so that he was unaware of what happened. His guilt therefore is not that of incest, but of drunkenness. This, too, is condemned by the eternal law, which allows meat and drink only as required by nature for the preservation of health. There is, indeed, a great difference between a drunk man and an habitual drunkard; for the drunkard is not always drunk, and a man may be drunk on one occasion without being a drunkard. However, in the case of a righteous man, we require to account for even one instance of drunkenness. What can have made Lot consent to receive from his daughters all the cups of wine which they went on mixing for him, or perhaps giving him unmixed? Did they feign excessive grief, and did he resort to this consolation in their loneliness, and in the loss of their mother, thinking that they were drinking too, while they only pretended to drink? But this does not seem a proper method for a righteous man to take in consoling his friends when in trouble. Had the daughters learned in Sodom some vile art which enabled them to intoxicate their father with a few cups, so that in his ignorance he might sin, or rather be sinned against? But it is not likely that the Scripture would have omitted all notice of this, or that God would have allowed His servant to be thus abused without any fault of his own.

45. But we are defending the sacred Scriptures, not man's sins. Nor are we concerned to justify this action, as if our God had either commanded it or approved of it; or as if, when men are called just in Scripture, it meant that they could not sin if they chose. And as, in the books which those critics find fault with, God nowhere expresses approval of this action, what thoughtless folly it is to bring a charge from this narrative against these writings, when in other places such actions are condemned by express prohibitions! In the story of Lot's daughters the action is related, not commended. And it is proper that the judgment of God should be declared in some cases, and concealed in others, that by its manifestation our ignorance may be enlightened, and that by its concealment our minds may be improved by the exercise of recalling what we already know, or our indolence stimulated to seek for an explanation. Here, then, God, who can bring good out of evil, made nations arise from this origin, as He saw good, but did not bring upon His own Scriptures the guilt of man's sin. It is God's writing, but not His doing; He does not propose these things for our imitation, but holds them up for our warning.

46. Faustus' effrontery appears notably in his accusing Isaac also, the son of Abraham of pretending that his wife Rebecca was his sister.(1) For as regards the family of Rebecca Scripture is not silent, and it appears that she was his sister in the well-known sense of the word. His concealing that she was his wife is not surprising, nor is it insignificant, if he did it in imitation of his father, so that he can be justified on the same grounds. We need only refer to the answer already given to Faustus' charge against Abraham, as being equally applicable to Isaac. Perhaps, however some inquirer will ask what typical significance there is in the foreign king discovering Rebecca to be the wife of Isaac by seeing him playing with her; for he would not have known, had he not seen Isaac playing with Rebecca as it would have been improper to do with a woman not his wife. When holy men act thus as husbands, they do it not foolishly, but designedly: for they accommodate themselves to the nature of the weaker sex in words and actions of gentle playfulness; not in effeminacy, but in subdued manliness. But such behavior towards any woman except a wife would be disgraceful. This is a question in good manners, which is referred to only in case some stern advocate of insensibility should find fault with the holy man even for playing with his wife. For if these men without humanity see a sedate man chatting playfully with children that he may adapt himself to the childish understanding with kindly sympathy, they think that he is insane; forgetting that they themselves were once children, or unthankful for their maturity. The typical meaning, as regards Christ and His Church, which is to be found in this great patriarch playing with his wife, and in the conjugal relation being thus discovered, will be seen by every one who, to avoid offending the Church by erroneous doctrine, carefully studies in Scripture the secret of the Church's Bridegroom. He will find that the Husband of the Church concealed for a time in the form of a servant the majesty in which He was equal to the Father, as being in the form of God, that feeble humanity might be capable of union with Him, and that so He might accommodate Himself to His spouse. So far from being absurd, it has a symbolic suitableness that the prophet of God should use a playfulness which is of the flesh to meet the affection of his wife, as the Word of God Himself became flesh that He might dwell among us.

47. Again, Jacob the son of Isaac is charged with having committed a great crime because he had four wives. But here there is no ground for a criminal accusation: for a plurality of wives was no crime when it was the custom; and it is a crime now, because it is no longer the custom. There are sins against nature, and sins against custom, and sins against the laws. In which, then, of these senses did Jacob sin in having a plurality of wives? As regards nature, he used the women not for sensual gratification, but for the procreation of children. For custom, this was the common practice at that time in those countries. And for the laws, no prohibition existed. The only reason of its being a crime now to do this, is because custom and the laws forbid it. Whoever despises these restraints, even though he uses his wives only to get children, still commits sin, and does an injury to human society itself, for the sake of which it is that the procreation of children is required. In the present altered state of customs and laws, men can have no pleasure in a plurality of wives, except from an excess of lust; and so the mistake arises of supposing that no one could ever have had many wives but from sensuality and the vehemence of sinful desires. Unable to form an idea of men whose force of mind is beyond their conception, they compare themselves with themselves, as the apostle says,(1) and so make mistakes. Conscious that, in their intercourse though with one wife only, they are often influenced by mere animal passion instead of an intelligent motive, they think it an obvious inference that, if the limits of moderation are not observed where there is only one wife, the infirmity must be aggravated where there are more than one.

48. But those who have not the virtues of temperance must not be allowed to judge of the conduct of holy men, any more than those in fever of the sweetness and wholesomeness of food. Nourishment must be provided not by the dictates of the sickly taste, but rather by the judgment and direction of health, so as to cure the sickness. If our critics, then, wish to attain not a spurious and affected, but a genuine and sound moral health, let them find a cure in believing the Scripture record, that the honorable name of saint is given not without reason to men who had several wives; and that the reason is this, that the mind can exercise such control over the flesh as not to allow the appetite implanted in our nature bY Providence to go beyond the limits of deliberate intention. By a similar misunderstanding, this criticism, which consists rather in dishonest slander than in honest judgment, might accuse the holy apostles too of preaching the gospel to so many people, not from the desire of begetting children to eternal life, but from the love of human praise. There was no lack of renown to these our fathers in the gospel, for their praise was spread in numerous tongues through the churches of Christ. In fact, no greater honor and glory could have been paid by men to their fellow-creatures. It was the sinful desire for this glory in the Church which led the reprobate Simon in his blindness to wish to purchase for money what was freely bestowed on the apostles by divine grace.(2) There must have been this desire of glory in the man whom the Lord in the Gospel checks in his desire to follow Him, saying, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His Head."(3) The Lord saw that his mind was darkened by false appearances and elated by sudden emotion, and that there was no ground of faith to afford a lodging to the Teacher of humility; for in Christ's discipleship the man sought not Christ's grace, but his own glory. By this love of glory those were led away whom the Apostle Paul characterizes as preaching Christ not sincerely, but of contention and envy; and yet the apostle rejoices in their preaching, knowing that it might happen that, while the preachers gratified their desire for human praise, believers might be born among their hearers,--not as the result of the envious feeling which made them wish to rival or surpass the fame of the apostles, but by means of the gospel which they preached, though not sincerely; so that God might bring good out of their evil. So a man may be induced to marry by sensual desire, and not to beget children; and yet a child may be born, a good work of God, due to the natural power, not to the misconduct of the parent. As, therefore, the holy apostles were gratified when their doctrine met with acceptance from their hearers, not because they were greedy for praise, but because they desired to spread the truth; so the holy patriarchs in their conjugal intercourse were actuated not by the love of pleasure, but by the intelligent desire for the continuance of their family. Thus the number of their hearers did not make the apostles ambitious; nor did the number of their wives make the patriarchs licentious. But why defend the husbands, to whose character the divine word bears the highest testimony, when it appears that the wives themselves looked upon their connection with their husbands only as a means of getting sons? So, when they found themselves barren, they gave their handmaids to their husbands; so that while the handmaids had the fleshly motherhood, the wives were mothers in intention.

49. Faustus makes a most groundless statement when he accuses the four women of quarreling like abandoned characters for the possession of their husband. Where Faustus read this I know not, unless it was in his own heart, as in a book of impious delusions, in which Faustus himself is seduced by that serpent with regard to whom the apostle feared for the Church, which he desired to present as a chaste virgin to Christ; lest, as the serpent had deceived Eve by his subtlety, so he should also corrupt their minds by turning them away from the simplicity of Christ.(4) The Manichaeans are so fond of this serpent, that they assert that he did more good than harm. From him Faustus must have got his mind corrupted with the lies instilled into it, which he now reproduces in these infamous calumnies, and is even bold enough to put down in writing. It is not true that one of the handmaids carried off Jacob from the other, or that they quarreled about possessing him. There was arrangement, because there was no licentious passion; and the law of conjugal authority was all the stronger that there was none of the lawlessness of fleshly desire. His being hired by one of his wives proves what is here said, in plain opposition to the libels of the Manichaeans. Why should one have hired him, unless by the arrangement he was to have gone in to the other? It does not follow that he would never have gone in to Leah unless she had hired him. He must have gone to her always in her turn, for he had many children by her; and in obedience to her he had children by her hand-maid, and afterwards, without any hiring, by herself. On this occasion it was Rachel's turn, so that she had the power so expressly mentioned in the New Testament by the apostle, "The husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife."(1) Rachel had a bargain with her sister, and, being in her sister's debt, she referred her to Jacob, her own debtor. For the apostle uses this figure when he says, "Let the husband render unto the wife what is due."(2) Rachel gave what was in her power as due from her husband, in return for what she had chosen to take from her sister.

50. If Jacob had been of such a character as Faustus in his incurable blindness supposes, and not a servant of righteousness rather than of concupiscence, would he not have been looking forward eagerly all day to the pleasure of passing the night with the more beautiful of his wives, whom he certainly loved more than the other, and for whom he paid the price of twice seven years of gratuitous service? How, then, at the close of the day, on his way to his beloved, could he have consented to be turned aside, if he had been such as the ignorant Manichaeans represent him? Would he not have disregarded the wish of the women, and insisted upon going to the fair Rachel, who belonged to him that night not only as his lawful wife, but also as coming in regular order? He would thus have used his power as a husband, for the wife also has not power over her own body, but the husband; and having on this occasion the arrangement in their obedience in favor of the gratification of his love of beauty, he might have enforced his authority the more successfully. In that case it would be to the credit of the women, that while he thought of his own pleasure they contended about having a son. As it was, this virtuous man, in manly control of sensual appetite, thought more of what was due from him than to him, and instead of using his power for his own pleasure, consented to be only the debtor in this mutual obligation. So he consented to pay the debt to the person to whom she to whom it was due wished him to pay it. When, by this private bargain of his wives, Jacob was suddenly and unexpectedly forced to turn from the beautiful wife to the plain one, he did not give way either to anger or to disappointment, nor did he try to persuade his wives to let him have his own way; but, like a just husband and an intelligent parent, seeing his wives concerned about the production of children, which was all he himself desired in marriage, he thought it best to yield to their authority, in desiring that each should have a child: for, since all the children were his, his own authority was not impaired. As if he had said to them: Arrange as you please among yourselves which is to be the mother; it matters not to me, since in any case I am the father. This control over the appetites, and simple desire to beget children, Faustus would have been clever enough to see and approve, unless his mind had been corrupted by the shocking tenets of his sect, which lead him to find fault with everything in the Scripture, and, moreover, teach him to condemn as the greatest crime the procreation of children, which is the proper design of marriage.

Back To Volume Index