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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 121

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 121.—Love is the End of All the Commandments, and God Himself is Love.

All the commandments of God, then, are embraced in love, of which the apostle says: “Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” 1324 Thus the end of every commandment is charity, that is, every commandment has love for its aim. But whatever is done either through fear of p. 276 punishment or from some other carnal motive, and has not for its principle that love which the Spirit of God sheds abroad in the heart, is not done as it ought to be done, however it may appear to men. For this love embraces both the love of God and the love of our neighbor, and “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” 1325 we may add the Gospel and the apostles. For it is from these that we hear this voice: The end of the commandment is charity, and God is love. 1326 Wherefore, all God’s commandments, one of which is, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” 1327 and all those precepts which are not commandments but special counsels, one of which is, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” 1328 are rightly carried out only when the motive principle of action is the love of God, and the love of our neighbor in God. And this applies both to the present and the future life. We love God now by faith, then we shall love Him through sight. Now we love even our neighbor by faith; for we who are ourselves mortal know not the hearts of mortal men. But in the future life, the Lord “both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God;” 1329 for every man shall love and praise in his neighbor the virtue which, that it may not be hid, the Lord Himself shall bring to light. Moreover, lust diminishes as love grows, till the latter grows to such a height that it can grow no higher here. For “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 1330 Who then can tell how great love shall be in the future world, when there shall be no lust for it to restrain and conquer? for that will be the perfection of health when there shall be no struggle with death.


Footnotes

275:1324

1 Tim. 1.51 Tim. i. 5

276:1325

Matt. 22:40, Rom. 5:5Matt. xxii. 40; comp. Rom. v. 5

276:1326

1 Tim. 1:5, 1 John 4:161 Tim. i. 5; 1 John iv. 16

276:1327

Comp. Matt. 5:27, Rom. 13:9Matt. v. 27 and Rom. xiii. 9

276:1328

1 Cor. 7.11 Cor. vii. 1

276:1329

1 Cor. 4.51 Cor. iv. 5

276:1330

John 15.13John xv. 13


Next: Chapter 122

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