The Fourth Sunday after Easter

Augustine on Psalm CXXX
Home, the Fourth Sunday after Easter

ALMIGHTY God, which dost make the minds of all faithful men to be of one will; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect: Sacrementary of Gelasius [ca 494 AD]. This is the 1552 BCP rendering. The collect was later changed in 1662 so that the attribute read, "who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men", in response to the years before when the Church of England, Bishops, and Prayer Book had been suppressed under Cromwell.

Ecclesiastes ii. 22, Psalms 126, 127, 128 | 129, 130, 131; St. James i. 17. St. John xvi. 5.
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXXX

Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice


Psalms 126, 127, 128 | 129, 130, 131

St. James i. 17.

EVERY good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

St. John xvi. 5.

JESUS said unto his disciples, Now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.


Augustine of Hippo

Psalm CXXX

Psalm CXXX. [5566]

1. "Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice" (ver. 1). Jonas cried from the deep; from the whale's belly. [5567] He was not only beneath the waves, but also in the entrails of the beast; nevertheless, those waves and that body prevented not his prayer from reaching God, and the beast's belly could not contain the voice of his prayer. It penetrated all things, it burst through all things, it reached the ears of God: if indeed we ought to say that, bursting through all things, it reached the ears of God, since the ears of God were in the heart of him who prayed. For where hath not he God present, whose voice is faithful? Nevertheless, we also ought to understand from what deep we cry unto the Lord. For this mortal life is our deep. Whoever hath understood himself to be in the deep, crieth out, groaneth, sigheth, until he be delivered from the deep, and come unto Him who sitteth above all the deeps....For they are very deep in the deep, who do not even cry from the deep. The Scripture saith, "When the wicked hath reached the depth of evils, he despiseth." [5568] Now consider, brethren, what sort of deep that is, where God is despised. When each man seeth himself overwhelmed with daily sins, pressed down by heaps and weights, so to speak, of iniquities: if it be said unto him, Pray unto God, he laughs. In what manner? He first saith, If crimes were displeasing unto God, should I live? If God regarded human affairs, considering the great crimes which I have committed, should I not only live, but be prosperous? For this is wont to happen to those who are far in the deep, and are prosperous in their iniquities: and they are the more plunged in the deep, in proportion as they seem to be more happy; for a deceitful happiness is itself a greater unhappiness....

2. "Lord, hear my voice. O let Thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint" (ver. 2). Whence doth he cry? From the deep. Who is it then who crieth? A sinner. And with what hope doth he cry? Because He who came to absolve from sins, gave hope even to the sinner down in the deep. What therefore followeth after these words: "If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?" (ver. 3). So, he hath disclosed from what deep he cried out. For he crieth beneath the weights and billows of his iniquities....He said not, I may not abide it: but, "who may abide it?" For he saw that nigh the whole of human life on every side was ever bayed at by its sins, that all consciences were accused by their thoughts, that a clean heart trusting in its own righteousness could not be found.

3. But wherefore is there hope? "For there is propitiation with Thee" (ver. 4). And what is this propitiation, except sacrifice? And what is sacrifice, save that which hath been offered for us? The pouring forth of innocent blood blotted out all the sins of the guilty: so great a price paid down redeemed all captives from the hand of the enemy who captured them. "With Thee," then, "there is propitiation." For if there were not mercy with Thee, if Thou chosest to be Judge only, and didst refuse to be merciful, Thou wouldest mark all our iniquities, and search after them. Who could abide this? Who could stand before Thee, and say, I am innocent? Who could stand in Thy judgment? There is therefore one hope: "for the sake of Thy law have I borne Thee, O Lord." What law? That which made men guilty. For a "law, holy, just, and good," [5569] was given to the Jews; but its effect was to make them guilty. A law was not given that could give life, [5570] but which might show his sins to the sinner. For the sinner had forgotten himself, and saw not himself; the law was given him, that he might see himself. The law made him guilty, the Lawgiver freed him: for the Lawgiver is the Supreme Power. [5571] ...There is therefore a law of the mercy of God, a law of the propitiation of God. [5572] The one was a law of fear, the other is a law of love. The law of love giveth forgiveness to sins, blotteth out the past, warneth concerning the future; forsaketh not its companion by the way, becometh a companion to him whom it leadeth on the way. But it is needful to agree with the adversary, whilst thou art with him in the way. [5573] For the Word of God is thine adversary, as long as thou dost not agree with it. But thou agreest, when it has begun to be thy delight to do what God's Word commandeth. Then he who was thine adversary becometh thy friend: so, when the way is finished, there will be none to deliver thee to the Judge. Therefore, "For the sake of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord," because thou hast condescended to bring in a law of mercy, to forgive me all my sins, to give me for the future warnings that I may not offend...."For the sake," therefore, "of" this "law I have waited for Thee, O Lord." I have waited until Thou mayest come and free me from all need, for in my very need Thou hast not forsaken the law of mercy...."My soul hath waited for Thy word."...

4. We therefore trust without fear on the word of Him who cannot deceive. "My soul hath trusted in the Lord, from the morning watch even unto night" (ver. 5). This morning watch is the end of night. We must therefore understand it so that we may not suppose we are to trust in the Lord for one day only. What do you conceive to be the sense, then, brethren? The words mean this: that the Lord, through whom our sins have been remitted, arose from the dead at the morning watch, so that we may hope that what went before in the Lord will take place in us. For our sins have been already forgiven: but we have not yet risen again: if we have not risen again, not as yet hath that taken place in us which went before in our Head. What went before in our Head? Because the flesh of that Head rose again; did the Spirit of that Head die? What had died in Him, rose again. Now He arose on the third day; and the Lord as it were thus speaketh to us: What ye have seen in Me, hope for in yourselves; that is, because I have risen from the dead, ye also shall rise again.

5. But there are who say, Behold, the Lord hath risen again; but must I hope on that account that I also may rise again? Certainly, on that account: for the Lord rose again in that which He assumed from thee. For He would not rise again, save He had died; and He could not have died, except He bore the flesh. What did the Lord assume from thee? The flesh. What was He that came Himself? The Word of God, who was before all things, through whom all things were made. But that He might receive something from thee, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." [5574] He received from thee, what He might offer for thee; as the priest receiveth from thee, what he may offer for thee, when thou wishest to appease God for thy sins. It hath already been done, it hath been done thus. Our Priest received from us what He might offer for us: for He received flesh from us, in the flesh itself He was made a victim, He was made a holocaust, He was made a sacrifice. In the Passion He was made a sacrifice; in the Resurrection He renewed that which was slain, and offered it as His first-fruits unto God, and saith unto thee, All that is thine is now consecrated: since such first-fruits have been offered unto God from thee; hope therefore that that will take place in thyself which went before in thy first-fruits.

6. Since He then rose with the morning watch, our soul began to hope from hence: and how far? "Even unto night;" until we die; for all our carnal death is as it were sleep....

7. And he returns to this, "From the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord." Not only "let Israel hope," but "from the morning watch let Israel hope." Do I then blame the hope of the world, when it is placed in the Lord? No; but there is another hope belonging to Israel. Let not Israel hope for riches as his highest good, not for health of body, not for abundance of earthly things: he will indeed have to suffer tribulation here, if it should be his lot to suffer any troubles for the sake of the truth....

8. "For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption" (ver. 7). Admirable! This could not have been better said in its own place, on account of the words, "From the morning watch." Wherefore? Because the Lord rose again from the morning watch; and the body ought to hope for that which went before in the Head. But, lest this thought should be suggested: The Head might rise again, because It was not weighed down with sins, there was no sin in Him; what shall we do? Shall we hope for such a resurrection, as went before in the Lord, whilst we are weighed down by our sins? But see what followeth: "And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins" (ver. 8). Though therefore he was weighed down with his sins, the mercy of God is present to him. For this reason, He went before without sin, that He may blot out the sins of those that follow Him. Trust not in yourselves, but trust from the morning watch.... Let us pray in the words of Augustine.

Turn we to the Lord God, the Father Almighty, and with pure hearts offer to him, so far as our meanness can, great and true thanks, with all our hearts praying his exceeding kindness, that of his good pleasure he would deign to hear our prayers, that by his Power he would drive out the enemy from our deeds and thoughts, that he would increase our faith, guide our understandings, give us spiritual thoughts, and lead us to his bliss, through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with him, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[A prayer which he was wont to use after his Sermons and Lectures.]

NPNF (V1-08) St. Augustine

__________________________________________________________________ [5566] Lat. CXXIX. A song of degrees. A sermon to the people. [5567] Jonah ii. 2. [5568] Prov. xviii. 3. [5569] Rom. vii. 12. [5570] Gal. iii. 21. [5571] Imperator. [5572] [Note (Greek) Luke xviii. 13.--C.] [5573] Matt. v. 25. [5574] John i. 1, 3, 14.