Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 2
Chapter 2.—Faith a Thing of the Heart, Not of the Body; How It is Common and One and the Same in All Believers. The Faith of Believers is One, No Otherwise than the Will of Those Who Will is One.
5. But faith, of which we are compelled, by reason of the arrangement of our subject, to dispute somewhat more at length in this book: faith I say, which they who have are called the faithful, and they who have not, unbelievers, as were those who did not receive the Son of God coming to His own; although it is wrought in us by hearing, yet does not belong to that sense of the body which is called hearing, since it is not a sound; nor to the eyes of this our flesh, since it is neither color nor bodily form; nor to that which is called touch, since it has nothing of bulk; nor to any sense of the body at all, since it is a thing of the heart, not of the body; nor is it without apart from us, but deeply seated within us; nor does any man see it in another, but each one in himself. Lastly, it is a thing that can both be feigned by pretence, and be thought to be in him in whom it is not. Therefore every one sees his own faith in himself; but does not see, but believes, that it is in another; and believes this the more firmly, the more he knows the fruits of it, which faith is wont to work by love. 795 And therefore this faith is common to all of whom the evangelist subjoins, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of p. 169 blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;” common I say, not as any form of a bodily object is common, as regards sight, to the eyes of all to whom it is present, for in some way the gaze of all that behold it is informed by the same one form; but as the human countenance can be said to be common to all men; for this is so said that yet each certainly has his own. We say certainly with perfect truth, that the faith of believers is impressed from one doctrine upon the heart of each several person who believes the same thing. But that which is believed is a different thing from the faith by which it is believed. For the former is in things which are said either to be, or to have been or to be about to be; but the latter is in the mind of the believer, and is visible to him only whose it is; although not indeed itself but a faith like it, is also in others. For it is not one in number, but in kind; yet on account of the likeness, and the absence of all difference, we rather call it one than many. For when, too, we see two men exceedingly alike, we wonder, and say that both have one countenance. It is therefore more easily said that the souls were many,—a several soul, of course, for each several person—of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, that they were of one soul, 796 —than it is, where the apostle speaks of “one faith,” 797 for any one to venture to say that there are as many faiths as there are faithful. And yet He who says, “O woman, great is thy faith;” 798 and to another, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” 799 intimates that each has his own faith. But the like faith of believers is said to be one, in the same way as a like will of those who will is said to be one; since in the case also of those who have the same will, the will of each is visible to himself, but that of the other is not visible, although he wills the same thing; and if it intimate itself by any signs, it is believed rather than seen. But each being conscious of his own mind certainly does not believe, but manifestly sees outright, that this is his own will.
Gal. 5.6Gal. v. 6169:796
Acts 4.32Acts iv. 32169:797
Eph. 4.5Eph. iv. 5169:798
Next: Chapter 3
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