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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 80

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 80.—Sins, However Great and Detestable, Seem Trivial When We are Accustomed to Them.

Add to this, that sins, however great and detestable they may be, are looked upon as trivial, or as not sins at all, when men get accustomed to them; and so far does this go, that such sins are not only not concealed, but are boasted of, and published far and wide; and thus, as it is written, “The wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” 1260 Iniquity of this kind is in Scripture called a cry. You have an instance in the prophet Isaiah, in the case of the evil vineyard: “He looked p. 264 for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” 1261 Whence also the expression in Genesis: “The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great,” 1262 because in these cities crimes were not only not punished, but were openly committed, as if under the protection of the law. And so in our own times: many forms of sin, though not just the sameas those of Sodom and Gomorrah, are now so openly and habitually practised, that not only dare we not excommunicate a layman, we dare not even degrade a clergyman, for the commission of them. So that when, a few years ago, I was expounding the Epistle to the Galatians, in commenting on that very place where the apostle says, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed labor upon you in vain,” I was compelled to exclaim, “Woe to the sins of men! for it is only when we are not accustomed to them that we shrink from them: when once we are accustomed to them, though the blood of the Son of God was poured out to wash them away, though they are so great that the kingdom of God is wholly shut against them, constant familiarity leads to the toleration of them all, and habitual toleration leads to the practice of many of them. And grant, O Lord, that we may not come to practise all that we have not the power to hinder.” But I shall see whether the extravagance of grief did not betray me into rashness of speech.



Ps. 10.3Ps. x. 3


Isa. 5.7Isa. v. 7


Gen. 18.20Gen. xviii. 20

Next: Chapter 81