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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 7.—Of True Love, by Which We Arrive at the Knowledge of the Trinity. God is to Be Sought, Not Outwardly, by Seeking to Do Wonderful Things with the Angels, But Inwardly, by Imitating the Piety of Good Angels.

10. No other thing, then, is chiefly to be regarded in this inquiry, which we make concerning the Trinity and concerning knowing God, except what is true love, nay, rather what is love. For that is to be called love which is true, otherwise it is desire; and so those who desire are said improperly to love, just as they who love are said improperly to desire. But this is true love, that cleaving to the truth we may live righteously, and so may despise all mortal things in comparison with the love of men, whereby we wish them to live righteously. For so we should be prepared also to die profitably for our brethren, as our Lord Jesus Christ taught us by His example. For as there are two commandments on which hang all the Law and the prophets, love of God and love of our neighbor; 677 not without cause the Scripture mostly puts one for both: whether it be of God only, as is that text, “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God;” 678 and again, “But if any man love God, the same is known of Him;” 679 and that, “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;” 680 and many other passages; because he who loves God must both needs do what God has commanded, and loves Him just in such proportion as he does so; therefore he must needs also love his neighbor, because God has commanded it: or whether it be that Scripture only mentions the love of our neighbor, as in that text, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ;” 681 and again, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;” 682 and in the Gospel, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the prophets.” 683 And many other passages occur in the sacred writings, in which only the love of our neighbor seems to be commanded for perfection, while the love of God is passed over in silence; whereas the Law and the prophets hang on both precepts. But this, too, is because he who loves his neighbor must needs also love above all else love itself. But “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God.” 684 Therefore he must needs above all else love God.

11. Wherefore they who seek God through those Powers which rule over the world, or parts of the world, are removed and cast away far from Him; not by intervals of space, but by difference of affections: for they endeavor to find a path outwardly, and forsake their own inward things, within which is God. Therefore, even although they may either have heard some holy heavenly Power, or in some way or another may have thought of it, yet they rather covet its deeds at which human weakness marvels, but do not imitate the piety by which divine rest is acquired. For they prefer, through pride, to be able to do that which an angel does, more than, through devotion, to be that which an angel is. For no holy being rejoices in his own power, but in His from whom he has the power which he fitly can have; and he knows it to be more a mark of power to be united to the Omnipotent by a pious will, than to be able, by his own power and will, to do what they may tremble at who are not able to do such things. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in doing such things, in order that He might teach better things to those who marvelled at them, and might turn those who were intent and in doubt about unusual temporal things to eternal and inner things, says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.” And He does not say, Learn of me, because I raise those p. 123 who have been dead four days; but He says, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” For humility, which is most solid, is more powerful and safer than pride, that is most inflated. And so He goes on to say, “And ye shall find rest unto your souls,” 685 for “Love 686 is not puffed up;” 687 and “God is Love;” 688 and “such as be faithful in love shall rest in 689 Him,” 690 called back from the din which is without to silent joys. Behold, “God is Love:” why do we go forth and run to the heights of the heavens and the lowest parts of the earth, seeking Him who is within us, if we wish to be with Him?


Footnotes

122:677

Matt. 22.37-40

122:678

Rom. 8.28Rom. viii. 28

122:679

1 Cor. 8.31 Cor. viii. 3

122:680

Rom. 5.5Rom. v. 5

122:681

Gal. 6.2Gal. vi. 2

122:682

Gal. 5.14Gal. v. 14

122:683

Matt. 7.12

122:684

1 John 4.61 John iv. 6

123:685

Matt. 11:28, 29

123:686

Charity.—A.V.

123:687

1 Cor. 13.41 Cor. xiii. 4

123:688

1 John 4.81 John iv. 8

123:689

Abide with.—A.V.

123:690

Wisdom 3.9Wisd. iii. 9


Next: Chapter 8

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