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Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:
The Confessions: Chapter XII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.—Love is Not Condemned, But Love in God, in Whom There is Rest Through Jesus Christ, is to Be Preferred.

18. If souls please thee, let them be loved in God; for they also are mutable, but in Him p. 74 are they firmly established, else would they pass, and pass away. In Him, then, let them be beloved; and draw unto Him along with thee as many souls as thou canst, and say to them, “Him let us love, Him let us love; He created these, nor is He far off. For He did not create them, and then depart; but they are of Him, and in Him. Behold, there is He wherever truth is known. He is within the very heart, but yet hath the heart wandered from Him. Return to your heart, 314 O ye transgressors, 315 and cleave fast unto Him that made you. Stand with Him, and you shall stand fast. Rest in Him, and you shall be at rest. Whither go ye in rugged paths? Whither go ye? The good that you love is from Him; and as it has respect unto Him it is both good and pleasant, and justly shall it be embittered, 316 because whatsoever cometh from Him is unjustly loved if He be forsaken for it. Why, then, will ye wander farther and farther in these difficult and toilsome ways? There is no rest where ye seek it. Seek what ye seek; but it is not there where ye seek. Ye seek a blessed life in the land of death; it is not there. For could a blessed life be where life itself is not?”

19. But our very Life descended hither, and bore our death, and slew it, out of the abundance of His own life; and thundering He called loudly to us to return hence to Him into that secret place whence He came forth to us—first into the Virgin’s womb, where the human creature was married to Him,—our mortal flesh, that it might not be for ever mortal,—and thence “as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.” 317 For He tarried not, but ran crying out by words, deeds, death, life, descent, ascension, crying aloud to us to return to Him. And He departed from our sight, that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. He would not be long with us, yet left us not; for He departed thither, whence He never departed, because “the world was made by Him.” 318 And in this world He was, and into this world He came to save sinners, 319 unto whom my soul doth confess, that He may heal it, for it hath sinned against Him. 320 O ye sons of men, how long so slow of heart? 321 Even now, after the Life is descended to you, will ye not ascend and live? 322 But whither ascend ye, when ye are on high, and set your mouth against the heavens? 323 Descend that ye may ascend, 324 and ascend to God. For ye have fallen by “ascending against Him.” Tell them this, that they may weep in the valley of tears, 325 and so draw them with thee to God, because it is by His Spirit that thou speakest thus unto them, if thou speakest burning with the fire of love.



Augustin is never weary of pointing out that there is a lex occulta (in Ps. lvii. sec. 1), a law written on the heart, which cries to those who have forsaken the written law, “Return to your hearts, ye transgressors.” In like manner he interprets (De Serm. Dom. in Mon. ii. sec. 11) “Enter into thy closet,” of the heart of man. The door is the gate of the senses through which carnal thoughts enter into the mind. We are to shut the door, because the devil (in Ps. cxli. 3) si clausum invenerit transit. In sec. 16, above, the figure is changed, and we are to fear lest these objects of sense render us “deaf in the ear of our heart” with the tumult of our folly. Men will not, he says, go back into their hearts, because the heart is full of sin, and they fear the reproaches of conscience, just (in Ps. xxxiii. 5) “as those are unwilling to enter their houses who have troublesome wives.” These outer things, which too often draw us away from Him, God intends should lift us up to Him who is better than they, though they could all be ours at once, since He made them all; and “woe,” he says (De Lib. Arb. ii. 16), “to them who love the indications of Thee rather than Thee, and remember not what these indicated.”


Isa. 56.8.


See iv. cc. 1, 10, above, and vi. c. 16, below.


Ps. 19.5.


John 1.10.


1 Tim. 1.15.


Ps. 41.4.


Luke 24.25.


“The Son of God,” says Augustin in another place, “became a son of man, that the sons of men might be made sons of God.” He put off the form of God—that by which He manifested His divine glory in heaven—and put on the “form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6, 7), that as the outshining [ἀπαύγασμα] of the Father’s glory (Heb. 1.3) He might draw us to Himself. He descended and emptied Himself of His dignity that we might ascend, giving an example for all time (in Ps. xxxiii. sec. 4); for, “lest man should disdain to imitate a humble man, God humbled Himself, so that the pride of the human race might not disdain to walk in the footsteps of God.” See also v. sec. 5, note, below.


Ps. 73.9.


“There is something in humility which, strangely enough, exalts the heart, and something in pride which debases it. This seems, indeed, to be contradictory, that loftiness should debase and lowliness exalt. But pious humility enables us to submit to what is above us; and nothing is more exalted above us than God; and therefore humility, by making us subject to God, exalts us.”—De Civ. Dei, xiv. sec. 13.


Ps. 84.6.

Next: Chapter XIII

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