Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 1
Chapter 1.—We are Made Perfect by Acknowledgement of Our Own Weakness. The Incarnate Word Dispels Our Darkness.
2. But since we are exiled from the unchangeable joy, yet neither cut off nor torn away from it so that we should not seek eternity, truth, blessedness, even in those changeable and temporal things (for we wish neither to die, nor to be deceived, nor to be troubled); visions have been sent to us from heaven suitable to our state of pilgrimage, in order to remind us that what we seek is not here, but that from this pilgrimage we must return thither, whence unless we originated we should not here seek these things. And first we have had to be persuaded how much God loved us, lest from despair we should not dare to look up to Him. And we needed to be shown also what manner of men we are whom He loved, lest being proud, as if of our own merits, we should recede the more from Him, and fail the more in our own strength. And hence He so dealt with us, that we might the rather profit by His strength, and that so in the weakness of humility the virtue of charity might be perfected. And this is intimated in the Psalm, where it is said, “Thou, O God, didst send a spontaneous rain, whereby Thou didst make Thine inheritance perfect, when it was weary.” 442 For by “spontaneous rain” nothing else is meant than grace, not rendered to merit, but given freely, 443 whence also it is called grace; for He gave it, not because we were worthy, but because He willed. And knowing this, we shall not trust in ourselves; and this is to be made “weak.” But He Himself makes us perfect, who says also to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 444 Man, then, was to be persuaded how much God loved us, and what manner of men we were whom He loved; the former, lest we should despair; the latter, lest we should be proud. And this most necessary topic the apostle thus explains: “But God commendeth,” he says, “His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” 445 Also in another place: “What,” he says, “shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not with Him also freely given us all things?” 446 Now that which is declared to us as already done, was shown also to the ancient righteous as about to be done; that through the same faith they themselves also might be humbled, and so made weak; and might be made weak, and so perfected.
3. Because therefore the Word of God is One, by which all things were made, which is the unchangeable truth, all things are simultaneously therein, potentially and unchangeably; not only those things which are now in this whole creation, but also those which have been and those which shall be. And therein they neither have been, nor shall be, but only are; and all things are life, and all things are one; or rather it is one being and one life. For all things were so made by Him, that whatsoever was made in them was not made in Him, but was life in Him. Since, “in the beginning,” the Word was not made, but “the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and all things were made by Him;” neither had all things been made by Him, unless He had Himself been before all things and not made. But in those things which were made by Him, even body, which is not life, would not have been made by Him, except it had been life in Him before it was made. For “that which was made was already life in Him;” and not life of any kind soever: for the soul also is the life of the body, but this too is made, for it is p. 71 changeable; and by what was it made, except by the unchangeable Word of God? For “all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” “What, therefore, was made was already life in Him;” and not any kind of life, but “the life [which] was the light of men;” the light certainly of rational minds, by which men differ from beasts, and therefore are men. Therefore not corporeal light, which is the light of the flesh, whether it shine from heaven, or whether it be lighted by earthly fires; nor that of human flesh only, but also that of beasts, and down even to the minutest of worms. For all these things see that light: but that life was the light of men; nor is it far from any one of us, for in it “we live, and move, and have our being.” 447
Ps. 68.9Ps. lxviii. 9.—Pluviam voluntariam.70:443
2 Cor. 12.92 Cor. xii. 970:445
Rom. 5.8-10Rom. v. 8-10—Donavit.70:446
Rom. 8:31, 32Rom. 8:31, 3271:447
Acts 17:27, 28Acts 17:27, 28
Next: Chapter 2
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