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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 18

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 18.—No Gift of God is More Excellent Than Love.

32. There is no gift of God more excellent than this. It alone distinguishes the sons of the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition. Other gifts, too, are given by the Holy Spirit; but without love they profit nothing. Unless, therefore, the Holy Spirit is so far imparted to each, as to make him one who loves God and his neighbor, he is not removed from the left hand to the right. Nor is the Spirit specially called the Gift, unless on account of love. And he who has not this love, “though he speak with the tongues of men and angels, is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though he have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though he have all faith, so that he can remove mountains, he is nothing; and though he bestow all his goods to feed the poor, and though he give his body to be burned, it profiteth him nothing.” 1012 How great a good, then, is that without which goods so great bring no one to eternal life! But love or charity itself,—for they are two names for one thing,—if he have it that does not speak with tongues, nor has the gift of prophecy, nor knows all mysteries and all knowledge, nor gives all his goods to the poor, either because he has none to give or because some necessity hinders, nor delivers his body to be burned, if no trial of such a suffering overtakes him, brings that man to the kingdom, so that faith itself is only rendered profitable by love, since faith without love can indeed exist, but cannot profit. And therefore also the Apostle Paul says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love:” 1013 so distinguishing it from that faith by which even “the devils believe and tremble.” 1014 Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. 1015 And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God?


Footnotes

217:1012

1 Cor. 13.1-31 Cor. xiii. 1-3

217:1013

Gal. 5.6Gal. v. 6

217:1014

Jas. 2.19Jas. ii. 19

217:1015

Acts 8.20Acts viii. 20


Next: Chapter 19

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