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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 9

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 9.—In the Love of Spiritual Things the Word Born is the Same as the Word Conceived. It is Otherwise in the Love of Carnal Things.

14. But the word conceived and the word born are the very same when the will finds rest in knowledge itself, as is the case in the love of spiritual things. For instance, he who knows righteousness perfectly, and loves it perfectly, is already righteous; even if no necessity exist of working according to it outwardly through the members of the body. But in the love of carnal and temporal things, as in the offspring of animals, the conception of the word is one thing, the bringing forth another. For here what is conceived by desiring is born by attaining. Since it does not suffice to avarice to know and to love gold, except it also have it; nor to know and love to eat, or to lie with any one, unless also one does it; nor to know and love honors and power, unless they actually come to pass. Nay, all these things, even if obtained, do not suffice. “Whosoever drinketh of this water,” He says, “shall thirst again.” 708 And so also the Psalmist, “He hath conceived pain and brought forth iniquity.” 709 And he speaks of pain or labor as conceived, when those things are conceived which it is not sufficient to know and will, and when the mind burns and grows sick with want, until it arrives at those things, and, as it were, brings them forth. Whence in the Latin language we have the word “parta” used elegantly for both “reperta” and “comperta,” which words sound as if derived from bringing forth. 710 Since “lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin.” 711 Wherefore the Lord proclaims, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden;” 712 and in another place “Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days!” 713 And when therefore He referred all either right actions or sins to the bringing forth of the word, “By thy mouth,” 714 He says, “thou shalt be justified, and by thy mouth 715 thou shalt be condemned,” 716 intending thereby not the visible mouth, but that which is within and invisible, of the thought and of the heart.


Footnotes

131:708

John 4.13John iv. 13

131:709

Ps. 7.14Ps. vii. 14

131:710

Partus

131:711

Jas. 1.15Jas. i. 15

131:712

Matt. 11.28

131:713

Matt. 24.19

131:714

Words.

131:715

Words.—A.V.

131:716

Matt. 12.37


Next: Chapter 10

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