Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book X/Chapter 43

Chapter XLIII.—That Jesus Christ, at the Same Time God and Man, is the True and Most Efficacious Mediator.

68. But the true Mediator, whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast pointed out to the humble, and didst send, that by His example[1] also they might learn the same humility—that “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”[2] appeared between mortal sinners and the immortal Just One—mortal with men, just with God; that because the reward of righteousness is life and peace, He might, by righteousness conjoined with God, cancel the death of justified sinners, which He willed to have in common with them.[3] Hence He was pointed out to holy men of old; to the intent that they, through faith in His Passion to come,[4] even as we through faith in that which is past, might be saved. For as man He was Mediator; but as the Word He was not between,[5] because equal to God, and God with God, and together with the Holy Spirit[6] one God.

69. How hast Thou loved us,[7] O good Father, who sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us wicked ones![8] How hast Thou loved us, for whom He, who thought it no robbery to be equal with Thee, “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;”[9] He alone “free among the dead,”[10] that had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again;[11] for us was He unto Thee both Victor and Victim, and the Victor as being the Victim; for us was He unto Thee both Priest and Sacrifice, and Priest as being the Sacrifice; of slaves making us Thy sons, by being born of Thee, and serving us. Rightly, then, is my hope strongly fixed on Him, that Thou wilt heal all my diseases[12] by Him who sitteth at Thy right hand and maketh intercession for us;[13] else should I utterly despair.[14] For numerous and great are my infirmities, yea, numerous and great are they; but Thy medicine is greater. We might think that Thy Word was removed from union with man, and despair of ourselves had He not been “made flesh and dwelt among us.”[15]

70. Terrified by my sins and the load of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness;[16] but Thou didst forbid me, and didst strengthen me, saying, therefore, Christ “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them.”[17] Behold, O Lord, I cast my care upon Thee,[18] that I may live, and “behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”[19] Thou knowest my unskilfulness and my infirmities; teach me, and heal me. Thine only Son—He “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”[20]—hath redeemed me with His blood. Let not the proud speak evil of me,[21] because I consider my ransom, and eat and drink, and distribute; and poor, desire to be satisfied from Him, together with those who eat and are satisfied, and they praise the Lord that seek him.[22]



  1. See notes 3, p. 71, and 9 and 11, p. 74, above.
  2. 1 Tim. ii. 5.
  3. Not that our Lord is to be supposed, as some have held, to have been under the law of death in Adam, because “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. xv. 22; see the whole of c. 23, in De Civ. Dei, xiii, and compare ix. sec. 34, note 3, above); for he says in Serm. ccxxxii. 5: “As there was nothing in us from which life could spring, so there was nothing in Him from which death could come.” He laid down His life (John x. 18), and as being partaker of the divine nature, could see no corruption (Acts ii. 27). This is the explanation Augustin gives in his comment on Ps. lxxxv. 5 (quoted in the next section) of Christ’s being “free among the dead.” So also in his De Trin. xiii. 18, he says he was thus free because “solus enim a debito mortis liber est mortuus.” The true analogy between the first and second Adam is surely then to be found in our Lord’s being free from the law of death by reason of His divine nature, and Adam before his transgression being able to avert death by partaking of the Tree of Life. Christ was, it is true, a child of Adam, but a child of Adam miraculously born. See note 3, p. 73, above.
  4. See De Trin. iv. 2; and Trench, Hulsean Lectures (1845), latter part of lect. iv.
  5. Medius, alluding to mediator immediately before. See his De Civ. Dei, ix. 15, and xi. 2, for an enlargement of this distinction between Christ as man and Christ as the Word. Compare also De Trin. i. 20 and xiii. 13; and Mansel, Bampton Lectures, lect. v. note 20.
  6. Some mss. omit Cum spiritu sancto.
  7. Christ did not, as in the words of a well-known hymn, “change the wrath to love.” For, as Augustin remarks in a very beautiful passage in Ev. Joh. Tract. cx. 6, God loved us before the foundation of the world, and the reconcilement wrought by Christ must not be “so understood as if the Son reconciled us unto Him in this respect, that He now began to love those whom He formerly hated, in the same way as enemy is reconciled to enemy, so that thereafter they become friends, and mutual love takes the place of their mutual hatred; but we were reconciled unto Him who already loved us, but with whom we were at enmity because of our sin. Whether I say the truth on this let the apostle testify, when he says: ‘God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’” (Rom. v. 8, 9). He similarly applies the text last quoted in his De Trin. xiii. 15. See also ibid. sec. 21, where he speaks of the wrath of God, and ibid. iv. 2. Compare Archbishop Thomson, Bampton Lectures, lect. vii., and note 95.
  8. Rom. viii. 34, which is not “for us wicked ones,” but “for us all,” as the Authorized Version has it; and we must not narrow the words. Augustin, in Ev. Joh. Tract. cx. 2, it will be remembered, when commenting on John xvii. 21, “that they all may be one…that the world may believe Thou hast sent me,” limits “the world” to the believing world, and continues (ibid.sec. 4), “Ipsi sunt enim mundus, non permanens inimicus, qualis est mundis damnationi prædestinatus.” On Christ being a ransom for all, see Archbishop Thomson, Bampton Lectures, lect. vii. part 5, and note 101.
  9. Phil. ii. 6, 8.
  10. Ps. lxxxviii. 5; see sec. 68, note, above.
  11. John x. 18.
  12. Ps. ciii. 3.
  13. Rom. viii. 34.
  14. See note 11, p. 140, above.
  15. John i. 14.
  16. Ps. lv. 7.
  17. 2 Cor. v. 15.
  18. Ps. lv. 22.
  19. Ps. cxix. 18.
  20. Col. ii. 3. Compare Dean Mansel, Bampton Lectures, lect. v. and note 22.
  21. Ps. cxix. 122, Old Ver. He may perhaps here allude to the spiritual pride of the Donatists, who, holding rigid views as to purity of discipline, disparaged both his life and doctrine, pointing to his Manichæanism and the sinfulness of life before baptism. In his Answer to Petilian, iii. 11, 20, etc., and Serm. 3, sec. 19, on Ps. xxxvi., he alludes at length to the charges brought against him, referring then finally to his own confessions in book iii. above.
  22. Ps. xxii. 26. Augustin probably alludes here to the Lord’s Supper, in accordance with the general Patristic interpretation.