Tuesday, December 31, 2013

St. Augustine: "Wisdom"

“Dost thou hold wisdom to be anything other than truth, wherein we behold and embrace the supreme good.”

~St. Augustine: De Libero Arbitrio, 2, 9.

Monday, December 30, 2013

St. Augustine: The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love (III)

(Third Part)

98. Predestination to Eternal Life is Wholly of God's Free Grace.


And, moreover, who will be so foolish and blasphemous as to say that God cannot change the evil wills of men, whichever, whenever, and wheresoever He chooses, and direct them to what is good? But when He does this He does it of mercy; when He does it not, it is of justice that He does it not for He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens. And when the apostle said this, he was illustrating the grace of God, in connection with which he had just spoken of the twins in the womb of Rebecca, who being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. And in reference to this matter he quotes another prophetic testimony: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. But perceiving how what he had said might affect those who could not penetrate by their understanding the depth of this grace: What shall we say then? he says: Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For it seems unjust that, in the absence of any merit or demerit, from good or evil works, God should love the one and hate the other. Now, if the apostle had wished us to understand that there were future good works of the one, and evil works of the other, which of course God foreknew, he would never have said, not of works, but, of future works, and in that way would have solved the difficulty, or rather there would then have been no difficulty to solve. As it is, however, after answering, God forbid; that is, God forbid that there should be unrighteousness with God; he goes on to prove that there is no unrighteousness in God's doing this, and says: For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Now, who but a fool would think that God was unrighteous, either in inflicting penal justice on those who had earned it, or in extending mercy to the unworthy? Then he draws his conclusion: So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. Thus both the twins were born children of wrath, not on account of any works of their own, but because they were bound in the fetters of that original condemnation which came through Adam. But He who said, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, loved Jacob of His undeserved grace, and hated Esau of His deserved judgment. And as this judgment was due to both, the former learned from the case of the latter that the fact of the same punishment not falling upon himself gave him no room to glory in any merit of his own, but only in the riches of the divine grace; because it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. And indeed the whole face, and, if I may use the expression, every lineament of the countenance of Scripture conveys by a very profound analogy this wholesome warning to every one who looks carefully into it, that he who glories should glory in the Lord.

99. As God's Mercy is Free, So His Judgments are Just, and Cannot Be Gainsaid.

Now after commending the mercy of God, saying, So it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy, that he might commend His justice also (for the man who does not obtain mercy finds, not iniquity, but justice, there being no iniquity with God), he immediately adds: For the scripture says unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. And then he draws a conclusion that applies to both, that is, both to His mercy and His justice: Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens. He has mercy of His great goodness, He hardens without any injustice; so that neither can he that is pardoned glory in any merit of his own, nor he that is condemned complain of anything but his own demerit. For it is grace alone that separates the redeemed from the lost, all having been involved in one common perdition through their common origin. Now if any one, on hearing this, should say, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? as if a man ought not to be blamed for being bad, because God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens, God forbid that we should be ashamed to answer as we see the apostle answered: Nay, but, O man, who are you that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why have You made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? Now some foolish people, think that in this place the apostle had no answer to give; and for want of a reason to render, rebuked the presumption of his interrogator. But there is great weight in this saying: Nay, but, O man, who are you? and in such a matter as this it suggests to a man in a single word the limits of his capacity, and at the same time does in reality convey an important reason. For if a man does not understand these matters, who is he that he should reply against God? And if he does understand them, he finds no further room for reply. For then he perceives that the whole human race was condemned in its rebellious head by a divine judgment so just, that if not a single member of the race had been redeemed, no one could justly have questioned the justice of God; and that it was right that those who are redeemed should be redeemed in such a way as to show, by the greater number who are unredeemed and left in their just condemnation, what the whole race deserved, and whither the deserved judgment of God would lead even the redeemed, did not His undeserved mercy interpose, so that every mouth might be stopped of those who wish to glory in their own merits, and that he that glories might glory in the Lord.

100. The Will of God is Never Defeated, Though Much is Done that is Contrary to His Will.

These are the great works of the Lord, sought out according to all His pleasure, and so wisely sought out, that when the intelligent creation, both angelic and human, sinned, doing not His will but their own, He used the very will of the creature which was working in opposition to the Creator's will as an instrument for carrying out His will, the supremely Good thus turning to good account even what is evil, to the condemnation of those whom in His justice He has predestined to punishment, and to the salvation of those whom in His mercy He has predestined to grace. For, as far as relates to their own consciousness, these creatures did what God wished not to be done: but in view of God's omnipotence, they could in no wise effect their purpose. For in the very fact that they acted in opposition to His will, His will concerning them was fulfilled. And hence it is that the works of the Lord are great, sought out according to all His pleasure, because in a way unspeakably strange and wonderful, even what is done in opposition to His will does not defeat His will. For it would not be done did He not permit it (and of course His permission is not unwilling, but willing); nor would a Good Being permit evil to be done only that in His omnipotence He can turn evil into good.

101. The Will of God, Which is Always Good, is Sometimes Fulfilled Through the Evil Will of Man.

Sometimes, however, a man in the goodness of his will desires something that God does not desire, even though God's will is also good, nay, much more fully and more surely good (for His will never can be evil): for example, if a good son is anxious that his father should live, when it is God's good will that he should die. Again, it is possible for a man with evil will to desire what God wills in His goodness: for example, if a bad son wishes his father to die, when this is also the will of God. It is plain that the former wishes what God does not wish, and that the latter wishes what God does wish; and yet the filial love of the former is more in harmony with the good will of God, though its desire is different from God's, than the want of filial affection of the latter, though its desire is the same as God's. So necessary is it, in determining whether a man's desire is one to be approved or disapproved, to consider what it is proper for man, and what it is proper for God, to desire, and what is in each case the real motive of the will. For God accomplishes some of His purposes, which of course are all good, through the evil desires of wicked men: for example, it was through the wicked designs of the Jews, working out the good purpose of the Father, that Christ was slain and this event was so truly good, that when the Apostle Peter expressed his unwillingness that it should take place, he was designated Satan by Him who had come to be slain. How good seemed the intentions of the pious believers who were unwilling that Paul should go up to Jerusalem lest the evils which Agabus had foretold should there befall him! And yet it was God's purpose that he should suffer these evils for preaching the faith of Christ, and thereby become a witness for Christ. And this purpose of His, which was good, God did not fulfill through the good counsels of the Christians, but through the evil counsels of the Jews; so that those who opposed His purpose were more truly His servants than those who were the willing instruments of its accomplishment.

102. The Will of the Omnipotent God is Never Defeated, and is Never Evil.

But however strong may be the purposes either of angels or of men, whether of good or bad, whether these purposes fall in with the will of God or run counter to it, the will of the Omnipotent is never defeated; and His will never can be evil; because even when it inflicts evil it is just, and what is just is certainly not evil. The omnipotent God, then, whether in mercy He pities whom He will, or in judgment hardens whom He will, is never unjust in what He does, never does anything except of His own free-will, and never wills anything that He does not perform.

103. Interpretation of the Expression in I Tim. II. 4 "Who Will Have All Men to Be Saved."

Accordingly, when we hear and read in Scripture that He will have all men to be saved, although we know well that all men are not saved, we are not on that account to restrict the omnipotence of God, but are rather to understand the Scripture, Who will have all men to be saved, as meaning that no man is saved unless God wills his salvation: not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will, but that no man is saved apart from His will; and that, therefore, we should pray Him to will our salvation, because if He will it, it must necessarily be accomplished. And it was of prayer to God that the apostle was speaking when he used this expression. And on the same principle we interpret the expression in the Gospel: The true light which lights every man that comes into the world: not that there is no man who is not enlightened, but that no man is enlightened except by Him. Or, it is said, Who will have all men to be saved; not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will (for how, then, explain the fact that He was unwilling to work miracles in the presence of some who, He said, would have repented if He had worked them?), but that we are to understand by all men, the human race in all its varieties of rank and circumstances—kings, subjects; noble, plebeian, high, low, learned, and unlearned; the sound in body, the feeble, the clever, the dull, the foolish, the rich, the poor, and those of middling circumstances; males, females, infants, boys, youths; young, middle-aged, and old men; of every tongue, of every fashion, of all arts, of all professions, with all the innumerable differences of will and conscience, and whatever else there is that makes a distinction among men. For which of all these classes is there out of which God does not will that men should be saved in all nations through His only-begotten Son, our Lord, and therefore does save them; for the Omnipotent cannot will in vain, whatsoever He may will? Now the apostle had enjoined that prayers should be made for all men, and had especially added, For kings, and for all that are in authority, who might be supposed, in the pride and pomp of worldly station, to shrink from the humility of the Christian faith. Then saying, For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, that is, that prayers should be made for such as these, he immediately adds, as if to remove any ground of despair, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. God, then, in His great condescension has judged it good to grant to the prayers of the humble the salvation of the exalted; and assuredly we have many examples of this. Our Lord, too, makes use of the same mode of speech in the Gospel, when He says to the Pharisees: You tithe mint, and rue, and every herb. For the Pharisees did not tithe what belonged to others, nor all the herbs of all the inhabitants of other lands. As, then, in this place we must understand by every herb, every kind of herbs, so in the former passage we may understand by all men, every sort of men. And we may interpret it in any other way we please, so long as we are not compelled to believe that the omnipotent God has willed anything to be done which was not done: for setting aside all ambiguities, if He has done all that He pleased in heaven and in earth, as the psalmist sings of Him, He certainly did not will to do anything that He has not done.

104. God, Foreknowing the Sin of the First Man, Ordered His Own Purposes Accordingly.

Wherefore, God would have been willing to preserve even the first man in that state of salvation in which he was created, and after he had begotten sons to remove him at a fit time, without the intervention of death, to a better place, where he should have been not only free from sin, but free even from the desire of sinning, if He had foreseen that man would have the steadfast will to persist in the state of innocence in which he was created. But as He foresaw that man would make a bad use of his free-will, that is, would sin, God arranged His own designs rather with a view to do good to man even in his sinfulness, that thus the good will of the Omnipotent might not be made void by the evil will of man, but might be fulfilled in spite of it.

105. Man Was So Created as to Be Able to Choose Either Good or Evil: in the Future Life, the Choice of Evil Will Be Impossible.

Now it was expedient that man should be at first so created, as to have it in his power both to will what was right and to will what was wrong; not without reward if he willed the former, and not without punishment if he willed the latter. But in the future life it shall not be in his power to will evil; and yet this will constitute no restriction on the freedom of his will. On the contrary, his will shall be much freer when it shall be wholly impossible for him to be the slave of sin. We should never think of blaming the will, or saying that it was no will, or that it was not to be called free, when we so desire happiness, that not only do we shrink from misery, but find it utterly impossible to do otherwise. As, then, the soul even now finds it impossible to desire unhappiness, so in future it shall be wholly impossible for it to desire sin. But God's arrangement was not to be broken, according to which He willed to show how good is a rational being who is able even to refrain from sin, and yet how much better is one who cannot sin at all; just as that was an inferior sort of immortality, and yet it was immortality, when it was possible for man to avoid death, although there is reserved for the future a more perfect immortality, when it shall be impossible for man to die.

106. The Grace of God Was Necessary to Man's Salvation Before the Fall as Well as After It.

The former immortality man lost through the exercise of his free-will; the latter he shall obtain through grace, whereas, if he had not sinned, he should have obtained it by desert. Even in that case, however, there could have been no merit without grace; because, although the mere exercise of man's free-will was sufficient to bring in sin, his free-will would not have sufficed for his maintenance in righteousness, unless God had assisted it by imparting a portion of His unchangeable goodness. Just as it is in man's power to die whenever he will (for, not to speak of other means, any one can put an end to himself by simple abstinence from food), but the mere will cannot preserve life in the absence of food and the other means of life; so man in paradise was able of his mere will, simply by abandoning righteousness, to destroy himself; but to have maintained a life of righteousness would have been too much for his will, unless it had been sustained by the Creator's power. After the fall, however, a more abundant exercise of God's mercy was required, because the will itself had to be freed from the bondage in which it was held by sin and death. And the will owes its freedom in no degree to itself, but solely to the grace of God which comes by faith in Jesus Christ; so that the very will, through which we accept all the other gifts of God which lead us on to His eternal gift, is itself prepared of the Lord, as the Scripture says.

107. Eternal Life, Though the Reward of Good Works, is Itself the Gift of God.

Wherefore, even eternal life itself, which is surely the reward of good works, the apostle calls the gift of God. For the wages of sin, he says, is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Wages (stipendium) is paid as a recompense for military service; it is not a gift: wherefore he says, the wages of sin is death, to show that death was not inflicted undeservedly, but as the due recompense of sin. But a gift, unless it is wholly unearned, is not a gift at all. We are to understand, then, that man's good deserts are themselves the gift of God, so that when these obtain the recompense of eternal life, it is simply grace given for grace. Man, therefore, was thus made upright that, though unable to remain in his uprightness without divine help, he could of his own mere will depart from it. And whichever of these courses he had chosen, God's will would have been done, either by him, or concerning him. Therefore, as he chose to do his own will rather than God's, the will of God is fulfilled concerning him; for God, out of one and the same heap of perdition which constitutes the race of man, makes one vessel to honor, another to dishonor; to honor in mercy, to dishonor in judgment; that no one may glory in man, and consequently not in himself.

108. A Mediator Was Necessary to Reconcile Us to God; And Unless This Mediator Had Been God, He Could Not Have Been Our Redeemer.

For we could not be redeemed, even through the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, if He were not also God. Now when Adam was created, he, being a righteous man, had no need of a mediator. But when sin had placed a wide gulf between God and the human race, it was expedient that a Mediator, who alone of the human race was born, lived, and died without sin, should reconcile us to God, and procure even for our bodies a resurrection to eternal life, in order that the pride of man might be exposed and cured through the humility of God; that man might be shown how far he had departed from God, when God became incarnate to bring him back; that an example might be set to disobedient man in the life of obedience of the God-Man; that the fountain of grace might be opened by the Only-begotten taking upon Himself the form of a servant, a form which had no antecedent merit; that an earnest of that resurrection of the body which is promised to the redeemed might be given in the resurrection of the Redeemer; that the devil might be subdued by the same nature which it was his boast to have deceived, and yet man not glorified, lest pride should again spring up; and, in fine, with a view to all the advantages which the thoughtful can perceive and describe, or perceive without being able to describe, as flowing from the transcendent mystery of the person of the Mediator.

109. The State of the Soul During the Interval Between Death and the Resurrection.

During the time, moreover, which intervenes between a man's death and the final resurrection, the soul dwells in a hidden retreat, where it enjoys rest or suffers affliction just in proportion to the merit it has earned by the life which it led on earth.

110. The Benefit to the Souls of the Dead from the Sacraments and Alms of Their Living Friends.

Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead are benefited by the piety of their living friends, who offer the sacrifice of the Mediator, or give alms in the church on their behalf. But these services are of advantage only to those who during their lives have earned such merit, that services of this kind can help them. For there is a manner of life which is neither so good as not to require these services after death, nor so bad that such services are of no avail after death; there is, on the other hand, a kind of life so good as not to require them; and again, one so bad that when life is over they render no help. Therefore, it is in this life that all the merit or demerit is acquired, which can either relieve or aggravate a man's sufferings after this life. No one, then, need hope that after he is dead he shall obtain merit with God which he has neglected to secure here. And accordingly it is plain that the services which the church celebrates for the dead are in no way opposed to the apostle's words: For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad; for the merit which renders such services as I speak of profitable to a man, is earned while he lives in the body. It is not to every one that these services are profitable. And why are they not profitable to all, except because of the different kinds of lives that men lead in the body? When, then, sacrifices either of the altar or of alms are offered on behalf of all the baptized dead, they are thank-offerings for the very good, they are propitiatory offerings for the not very bad, and in the case of the very bad, even though they do not assist the dead, they are a species of consolation to the living. And where they are profitable, their benefit consists either in obtaining a full remission of sins, or at least in making the condemnation more tolerable.

111. After the Resurrection There Shall Be Two Distinct Kingdoms, One of Eternal Happiness, the Other of Eternal Misery.

After the resurrection, however, when the final, universal judgment has been completed, there shall be two kingdoms, each with its own distinct boundaries, the one Christ's, the other the devil's; the one consisting of the good, the other of the bad—both, however, consisting of angels and men. The former shall have no will, the latter no power, to sin, and neither shall have any power to choose death; but the former shall live truly and happily in eternal life, the latter shall drag a miserable existence in eternal death without the power of dying; for the life and the death shall both be without end. But among the former there shall be degrees of happiness, one being more pre-eminently happy than another; and among the latter there shall be degrees of misery, one being more endurably miserable than another.

112. There is No Ground in Scripture for the Opinion of Those Who Deny the Eternity of Future Punishments.

It is in vain, then, that some, indeed very many, make moan over the eternal punishment, and perpetual, unintermitted torments of the lost, and say they do not believe it shall be so; not, indeed, that they directly oppose themselves to Holy Scripture, but, at the suggestion of their own feelings, they soften down everything that seems hard, and give a milder turn to statements which they think are rather designed to terrify than to be received as literally true. For Hath God they say, forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Now, they read this in one of the holy psalms. But without doubt we are to understand it as spoken of those who are elsewhere called vessels of mercy, because even they are freed from misery not on account of any merit of their own, but solely through the pity of God. Or, if the men we speak of insist that this passage applies to all mankind, there is no reason why they should therefore suppose that there will be an end to the punishment of those of whom it is said, These shall go away into everlasting punishment; for this shall end in the same manner and at the same time as the happiness of those of whom it is said, but the righteous unto life eternal. But let them suppose, if the thought gives them pleasure, that the pains of the damned are, at certain intervals, in some degree assuaged. For even in this case the wrath of God, that is, their condemnation (for it is this, and not any disturbed feeling in the mind of God that is called His wrath), abides upon them; that is, His wrath, though it still remains, does not shut up His tender mercies; though His tender mercies are exhibited, not in putting an end to their eternal punishment, but in mitigating, or in granting them a respite from, their torments; for the psalm does not say, to put an end to His anger, or, when His anger is passed by, but in His anger. Now, if this anger stood alone, or if it existed in the smallest conceivable degree, yet to be lost out of the kingdom of God, to be an exile from the city of God, to be alienated from the life of God, to have no share in that great goodness which God has laid up for them that fear Him, and has wrought out for them that trust in Him, would be a punishment so great, that, supposing it to be eternal, no torments that we know of, continued through as many ages as man's imagination can conceive, could be compared with it.

113. The Death of the Wicked Shall Be Eternal in the Same Sense as the Life of the Saints.

This perpetual death of the wicked, then, that is, their alienation from the life of God, shall abide for ever, and shall be common to them all, whatever men, prompted by their human affections, may conjecture as to a variety of punishments, or as to a mitigation or intermission of their woes; just as the eternal life of the saints shall abide for ever, and shall be common to them all, whatever grades of rank and honor there may be among those who shine with an harmonious effulgence.

Hope
114. Having Dealt with Faith, We Now Come to Speak of Hope. Everything that Pertains to Hope is Embraced in the Lord's Prayer.

Out of this confession of faith, which is briefly comprehended in the Creed, and which, carnally understood, is milk for babes, but, spiritually apprehended and studied, is meat for strong men, springs the good hope of believers; and this is accompanied by a holy love. But of these matters, all of which are true objects of faith, those only pertain to hope which are embraced in the Lord's Prayer. For, Cursed is the man that trusts in man is the testimony of holy writ; and, consequently, this curse attaches also to the man who trusts in himself. Therefore, except from God the Lord we ought to ask for nothing either that we hope to do well, or hope to obtain as a reward of our good works.

115. The Seven Petitions of the Lord's Prayer, According to Matthew.

Accordingly, in the Gospel according to Matthew the Lord's Prayer seems to embrace seven petitions, three of which ask for eternal blessings, and the remaining four for temporal; these latter, however, being necessary antecedents to the attainment of the eternal. For when we say, Hallowed be Your name: Your kingdom come: Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (which some have interpreted, not unfairly, in body as well as in spirit), we ask for blessings that are to be enjoyed for ever; which are indeed begun in this world, and grow in us as we grow in grace, but in their perfect state, which is to be looked for in another life, shall be a possession for evermore. But when we say, Give us this day our daily bread: and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, who does not see that we ask for blessings that have reference to the wants of this present life? In that eternal life, where we hope to live for ever, the hallowing of God's name, and His kingdom, and His will in our spirit and body, shall be brought to perfection, and shall endure to everlasting. But our daily bread is so called because there is here constant need for as much nourishment as the spirit and the flesh demand, whether we understand the expression spiritually, or carnally, or in both senses. It is here too that we need the forgiveness that we ask, for it is here that we commit the sins; here are the temptations which allure or drive us into sin; here, in a word, is the evil from which we desire deliverance: but in that other world there shall be none of these things.

116. Luke Expresses the Substance of These Seven Petitions More Briefly in Five.

But the Evangelist Luke in his version of the Lord's prayer embraces not seven, but five petitions: not, of course, that there is any discrepancy between the two evangelists, but that Luke indicates by his very brevity the mode in which the seven petitions of Matthew are to be understood. For God's name is hallowed in the spirit; and God's kingdom shall come in the resurrection of the body. Luke, therefore, intending to show that the third petition is a sort of repetition of the first two, has chosen to indicate that by omitting the third altogether. Then he adds three others: one for daily bread, another for pardon of sin, another for immunity from temptation. And what Matthew puts as the last petition, but deliver us from evil, Luke has omitted, to show us that it is embraced in the previous petition about temptation. Matthew, indeed, himself says, but deliver, not and deliver, as if to show that the petitions are virtually one: do not this, but this; so that every man is to understand that he is delivered from evil in the very fact of his not being led into temptation.

Love

117. Love, Which is Greater Than Faith and Hope, is Shed Abroad in Our Hearts by the Holy Ghost.

And now as to love, which the apostle declares to be greater than the other two graces, that is, than faith and hope, the greater the measure in which it dwells in a man, the better is the man in whom it dwells. For when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves. For the man who loves aright no doubt believes and hopes aright; whereas the man who has not love believes in vain, even though his beliefs are true; and hopes in vain, even though the objects of his hope are a real part of true happiness; unless, indeed, he believes and hopes for this, that he may obtain by prayer the blessing of love. For, although it is not possible to hope without love, it may yet happen that a man does not love that which is necessary to the attainment of his hope; as, for example, if he hopes for eternal life (and who is there that does not desire this?) and yet does not love righteousness, without which no one can attain to eternal life. Now this is the true faith of Christ which the apostle speaks of, which works by love; and if there is anything that it does not yet embrace in its love, asks that it may receive, seeks that it may find, and knocks that it may be opened unto it. For faith obtains through prayer that which the law commands. For without the gift of God, that is, without the Holy Spirit, through whom love is shed abroad in our hearts, the law can command, but it cannot assist; and, moreover, it makes a man a transgressor, for he can no longer excuse himself on the plea of ignorance. Now carnal lust reigns where there is not the love of God.

118. The Four Stages of the Christian's Life, and the Four Corresponding Stages of the Church's History.

When, sunk in the darkest depths of ignorance, man lives according to the flesh undisturbed by any struggle of reason or conscience, this is his first state. Afterwards, when through the law has come the knowledge of sin, and the Spirit of God has not yet interposed His aid, man, striving to live according to the law, is thwarted in his efforts and falls into conscious sin, and so, being overcome of sin, becomes its slave (for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage ); and thus the effect produced by the knowledge of the commandment is this, that sin works in man all manner of concupiscence, and he is involved in the additional guilt of willful transgression, and that is fulfilled which is written: The, law entered that the offense might abound. This is man's second state. But if God has regard to him, and inspires him with faith in God's help, and the Spirit of God begins to work in him, then the mightier power of love strives against the power of the flesh; and although there is still in the man's own nature a power that fights against him (for his disease is not completely cured), yet he lives the life of the just by faith, and lives in righteousness so far as he does not yield to evil lust, but conquers it by the love of holiness. This is the third state of a man of good hope; and he who by steadfast piety advances in this course, shall attain at last to peace, that peace which, after this life is over, shall be perfected in the repose of the spirit, and finally in the resurrection of the body. Of these four different stages the first is before the law, the second is under the law, the third is under grace, and the fourth is in full and perfect peace. Thus, too, has the history of God's people been ordered according to His pleasure who disposes all things in number, and measure, and weight. For the church existed at first before the law; then under the law, which was given by Moses; then under grace, which was first made manifest in the coming of the Mediator. Not, indeed, that this grace was absent previously, but, in harmony with the arrangements of the time, it was veiled and hidden. For none, even of the just men of old, could find salvation apart from the faith of Christ; nor unless He had been known to them could their ministry have been used to convey prophecies concerning Him to us, some more plain, and some more obscure.

119. The Grace of Regeneration Washes Away All Past Sin and All Original Guilt.

Now in whichever of these four stages (as we may call them) the grace of regeneration finds any particular man, all his past sins are there and then pardoned, and the guilt which he contracted in his birth is removed in his new birth; and so true is it that the wind blows where it lists, that some have never known the second stage, that of slavery under the law, but have received the divine assistance as soon as they received the commandment.

120. Death Cannot Injure Those Who Have Received the Grace of Regeneration.

But before a man can receive the commandment, it is necessary that he should live according to the flesh. But if once he has received the grace of regeneration, death shall not injure him, even if he should immediately depart from this life; for to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living; nor shall death retain dominion over him for whom Christ freely died.

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. 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 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, 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. Wherefore, all God's commandments, one of which is, You shall not commit adultery, 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, 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; 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 has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 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.

122. Conclusion.

But now there must be an end at last to this volume. And it is for yourself to judge whether you should call it a hand-book, or should use it as such. I, however, thinking that your zeal in Christ ought not to be despised, and believing and hoping all good of you in dependence on our Redeemer's help, and loving you very much as one of the members of His body, have, to the best of my ability, written this book for you on Faith, Hope, and Love. May its value be equal to its length.
(To First Part) (To Second Part)

The Eucharist: Transubstantiation

• “The bread and wine of the Eucharist before the invocation of the holy and adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine; while after the invocation bread becomes the Body of Christ, and wine the Blood of Christ.” ~St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Discourses, 19, 7.

• “Having learnt these things, and been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to the taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ: and that of this David sung of old, saying, ‘And bread strengthens man’s heart, to make his face to shine with oil’ (Ps 103:15), strengthen your heart by partaking thereof as spiritual, and make the face of your soul to shine.” ~St. Ambrose: Catechetical Discourses, 22, 9.

• “The word of Christ could make out of nothing that which was not; can it then not change the things which are into that which they were not? For to give new natures to things is quite as wonderful as to change their natures.” ~St. Ambrose: On the Mysteries, 9, 52.

• “In that sacrament [of the Eucharist] is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ, it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Whence the Apostle says of its type: ‘Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink’ (1 Cor 10:3, 4). ~St. Ambrose: On the Mysteries, 9, 58.

• “‘My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink’ (Jn 6:56). You hear Him speak of His Flesh and of His Blood, you perceive the sacred pledges (conveying to us the merits and power) of the Lord’s death, and you dishonor His Godhead? Hear His own words: ‘A spirit has not flesh and bones’ (Lk 24:39). Now we, as often as we receive the Sacramental Elements, which by the mysterious efficacy of holy prayer are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood, ‘do show the Lord’s Death’ (1 Cor 11:26).” ~St. Ambrose: To Gratian, On the Christian Faith, 4, 10.

• "Now we, as often as we receive the Sacraments, which by the mystery of holy prayer are transformed (transfigurantur) into Flesh and Blood, proclaim the Lord's death." ~St. Ambrose: Concerning Faith, 4, 124.

• “You say perhaps, ‘My bread is of the usual kind.’ But that bread before the words of the sacraments; when consecration has been added, from bread it becomes the Flesh of Christ. Let us therefore prove this. How can that which is bread be the Body of Christ? By consecration. But in what words and in whose language is the consecration? Those of the Lord Jesus.” ~St. Ambrose: On the Sacraments, 4, 4, 14.

• “He washes us from our sins daily in His Blood, when the memory of His blessed passion is repeated at the altar, when the creature of the bread and wine is transferred into the sacrament of His Flesh and Blood by the by the ineffable sanctification of His Spirit: and thus His Body and Blood is poured out and killed, not by the hands of infidels unto their destruction, but is assumed by the mouth of the faithful unto their salvation.” ~St. Bede the Venerable: Homilies, 1, 14.

• “Just as in nature the bread by the eating and the wine and the water by the drinking are changed into the body and blood of the eater and drinker, and do not become a different body from the former one, so the bread of the altar (prothesis) and the wine and water are supernaturally changed by the invocation and presence of the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ, and are not two but one and the same.” ~St. John Damascene: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4, 13.

• “The bread and the wine are merely figured of the Body and Blood of Christ (God forbid!) but the deified Body of the Lord itself, for the Lord has said: This is My body, not, this is a figure of my body; and My blood, not, a figure of my blood.” ~St. John Damascene: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4, 13.

The Victory of Eucharistic Truth over Heresy, by Peter Paul Rubens.
Oil on panel, c. 1626; Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

St. Bernard: Feast of the Holy Family

In Mary we praise that which places her above all others, that is, fruitfulness of offspring together with virginity. For never has it been known in this world that anyone was at the same time mother and virgin. And see of Whom she is mother. Where does your astonishment at this so wondrous dignity lead you? Is it not to this, that you may gaze in wonder yet never sufficiently revere? Is she not in your veneration, nay, in the esteem of Truth itself, raised above choirs of angels? Does not Mary address the Lord and God of all the angels as Son, saying: Son, why hast thou done so to us?

Who among the angels may thus presume? It is enough for them, and for them their greatest honour, that while they are spirits by nature they have become and are called angels, as David testifies: Who makest thy angels spirits (Ps. 103:4). Mary, knowing herself a mother, with confidence calls that Majesty Son Whom the angels in reverence serve. Nor does God disdain to be called that which He disdained not to be. For the Evangelist adds a little later: He was subject to them. 

Who was subject to whom? A God to men. God, I repeat, to Whom the angels are subject: Whom principalities and powers obey: was subject to Mary; and not alone to Mary, but to Joseph also, because of Mary. Admire and revere both the one and the other, and chose which you admire the more: the most sweet condescension of the Son or the sublime dignity of the Mother. For either am I at a loss for words: for both are wondrous. For that God should obey a woman is humility without compare; and that a woman should have rule over God dignity without equal. In praise of virgins is it joyfully proclaimed: that they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth (Apoc. 14:4). Of what praise shall you esteem her worthy who also goeth before Him? 

Learn, O Man, to obey. Learn, O Earth, to be subject. Learn, O Dust, to submit. The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to them; that is, without doubt, to Mary and Joseph. Be you ashamed, vain ashes that you are. God becomes subject to men, and will you, eager to lord it over men, place yourself above your Maker? O would that God might deign to make me, thinking such thoughts at times in my own mind, such answers as He made, reproving him, to His apostle: Go behind Me, Satan: because thou savourest not the things that are of God (Mk. 8:33). 

For as often as I desire to be foremost among men, so often do I seek to take precedence of God; and so do I not truly savour the things that are of God. For of Him was it said, And he was subject to them. If you disdain, O Man, to follow the example of a Man, at least it will not lower thee to imitate thy Maker. If perhaps you cannot follow wheresoever He goeth, at least follow in that wherein He has come down to you. 

If you are unable to follow Him on the sublime way of virginity, then follow God by that most sure way of humility; from whose straightness should some even from among the virgins go aside, then I must say what is true, that neither so they follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. He that is humble, even though he be stained, he follows the Lamb; so too does the proud virgin; but neither of the two whithersoever He goeth: because the one cannot ascend to the purity of the Lamb that is without stain, nor will the other deign to come down to the meekness of the Lamb, Who stood silent, not merely before the shearer, but before the one that put Him to death. Yet the sinner who makes after Him in humility, has chosen a wholesomer part than the one that is proud in his virtue; since the humble repentance of the one washes away uncleanness, but the pride of the other contaminates his own virtue.

Truly blessed was Mary who possessed both humility and virginity. And truly wondrous the virginity whose fruitfulness stained not, but adorned her; and truly singular the humility, which this fruitful virginity has not troubled, but rather exalted; and wholly incomparable the fruitfulness which goes hand in hand with her humility and he virginity. Which of these things is not wondrous? Which is not beyond all comparison? Which that is not wholly singular? It would be strange if you did not hesitate to decide which you regard as most worthy of praise: whether the wonder of fruitfulness of offspring in virginity, or of virginal integrity in a mother: sublimity of Offspring, or humility joined to such dignity: unless it be that we place both together above each one singly: and it is truly beyond any doubt more excellent and more joyful to have beheld these perfections united in her, than to see but one part of them. 

And can we wonder that God, of Whom it is written that He is wonderful in his saints (Ps. 67:36), shows Himself in His own Mother yet more wondrous still? Venerate them, Ye spouses, this integrity of flesh in our corruptible flesh. Revere likewise, Ye virgins, fruitfulness in virginity. Let all men imitate the humility of God’s Mother. Honour, Ye angels, the Mother of your King and our King, the Healer of our race, the Restorer of our fatherland: Who among you is so sublime, yet among us was so lowly: to Whose Majesty as well from you as from us let there be adoration and reverence: to whose Perfection be there honour and glory and empire for ever and ever. 
Amen.

~St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Sermon, PG 72, 863-866.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, called "the last of the Fathers" of the Church because once again in the 12th century he renewed and brought to the fore the important theology of the Fathers.


The Nativity, by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Tempera on wood, c. 1492; Pinacoteca, Vatican.

Friday, December 27, 2013

St. Augustine: John the Evangelist

"FOR this John, dearly beloved brethren, was one of those mountains concerning which it is written: “Let the mountains receive peace for your people, and the hills righteousness.” The mountains are lofty souls, the hills little souls. But for this reason do the mountains receive peace, that the hills may be able to receive righteousness. What is the righteousness which the hills receive? Faith, for “the just does live by faith.” The smaller souls, however, would not receive faith unless the greater souls, which are called mountains, were illuminated by Wisdom herself, that they may be able to transmit to the little ones what the little ones can receive; and the hills live by faith, because the mountains receive peace. By the mountains themselves it was said to the Church, “Peace be with you;” and the mountains themselves in proclaiming peace to the Church did not divide themselves against Him from whom they received peace, (Jn 20:19) that truly, not feignedly, they might proclaim peace."

".... Accordingly, brethren, of these mountains was John also, who said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This mountain had received peace; he was contemplating the divinity of the Word. Of what sort was this mountain? How lofty? He had risen above all peaks of the earth, he had risen above all plains of the sky, he had risen above all heights of the stars, he had risen above all choirs and legions of the angels. For unless he rose above all those things which were created, he would not arrive at Him by whom all things were made."

~St. Augustine: Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tractate 1:2, 5.



St. John the Evangelist on Patmos, by Agnolo Bronzino.
Fresco, 1541. Vault of the Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo. Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. (Image source: Olga's Gallery)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

St. Fulgentius: The Armament of Love

"YESTERDAY we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier.Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin's womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.

"Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvellous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.

"And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen's weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbour made him pray for those who were stoning him.

"Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.

"Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen.

"This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen's death, and Stephen delights in Paul's companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen's love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul's love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven.

"Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defence,-- and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey's end.

"My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together."

~St. Fulgentius of Ruspe: 'Sermo 3,' 1-3,5-6.



The Stoning of St. Stephen, by Fra Angelico.
Fresco, 1447-49; Cappella Niccolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

St. Leo the Great: "All share in the joy of Christmas"

"OUR SAVIOUR, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fulness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin. Truly foreign to this nativity is that which we read of all others, "no one is clean from stain, not even the infant who has lived but one day upon earth." Nothing therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated with the sacred seed and to conceive the Divinely-human offspring in mind first and then in body. And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result, she learns from converse with the angel that what is to be wrought in her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she believe it loss of honour that she is soon to be the Mother of God. For why should she be in despair over the novelty of such conception, to whom the power of the most High has promised to effect it. Her implicit faith is confirmed also by the attestation of a precursory miracle, and Elizabeth receives unexpected fertility: in order that there might be no doubt that He who had given conception to the barren, would give it even to a virgin."

~St. Leo the Great: Sermon XXI, On the Feast of the Nativity, I.

Nativity, by Robbia della Giovanni.Glazed terracotta, A.D. 1521;
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

St. Augustine: Faith Without Works is Dead

Faith Without Works is Dead, and Cannot Save a Man

"IT IS believed, moreover, by some, that men who do not abandon the name of Christ, and who have been baptized in the Church by His baptism, and who have never been cut off from the Church by any schism or heresy, though they should live in the grossest sin and never either wash it away in penitence nor redeem it by almsgiving, but persevere in it persistently to the last day of their lives, shall be saved by fire; that is, that although they shall suffer a punishment by fire, lasting for a time proportionate to the magnitude of their crimes and misdeeds, they shall not be punished with everlasting fire. But those who believe this, and yet are Catholics, seem to me to be led astray by a kind of benevolent feeling natural to humanity. For Holy Scripture, when consulted, gives a very different answer. I have written a book on this subject, entitled "Of Faith and Works," in which, to the best of my ability, God assisting me, I have shown from Scripture, that the faith which saves us is that which the Apostle Paul clearly enough describes when he says: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which works by love. But if it works evil, and not good, then without doubt, as the Apostle James says, it is dead, being alone. The same apostle says again, What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? And further, if a wicked man shall be saved by fire on account of his faith alone, and if this is what the blessed Apostle Paul means when he says, But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire; then faith without works can save a man, and what his fellow-apostle James says must be false. And that must be false which Paul himself says in another place: Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners; shall inherit the kingdom of God. For if those who persevere in these wicked courses shall nevertheless be saved on account of their faith in Christ, how can it be true that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"

~St. Augustine: The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, 67.


Parable of the Good Samaritan, by Jan Wynants.
Oil on canvas, 1670; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

Friday, December 20, 2013

St. John Cassian: The Incarnation

"But in all the holy Scriptures He joins together and as it were incorporates in the Godhead, the Lord's manhood, so that no one can sever man from God in time, nor God from man at His Passion. For if you regard Him in time, you will find that the Son of man is ever with the Son of God. If you take note of His Passion, you will find that the Son of God is ever with the Son of man, and that Christ the Son of man and the Son of God is so one and indivisible, that, in the language of holy Scripture, the man cannot be severed in time from God, nor God from man at His Passion....There was not then before the birth of a Virgin the same eternity belonging in the past to the manhood as to the Divinity, but because Divinity was united to manhood in the womb of the Virgin, it follows that when we use the name of Christ one cannot be spoken of without the other."

~St. John Cassian (c. 360-c. 435): On the Incarnation of the Lord, Against Nestorius, Bk. 6:22.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sign of the Cross

"LET US, therefore, not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ; but though another hide it, do thou openly seal it upon your forehead, that the devils may behold the royal sign and flee trembling far away. Make then this sign at eating and drinking, at sitting, at lying down, at rising up, at speaking, at walking: in a word, at every act."

~St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Discourses, 4, 14.


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“IN ALL our actions when we come in or go out, when we dress, when we wash, at our meals, before retiring to sleep, we make on our foreheads the sign of the cross. These practices are not committed by a formal law of Scripture, but tradition teaches them, custom confirms them, faith observes them.”

~Tertullian: De Corona, 3.

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"IF YOU are tempted, seal your foreheads reverently. For this is the Sign of the Passion, displayed and made manifest against the devil, provided that you do it with faith, not to be seen by men, but by presenting it with skill like a shield.

"Because the Adversary, when he sees the strength of the heart and when he sees the inner man which is animated by the Word show, formed on the exterior, the interior image of the Word, he is made to flee by the Spirit which is in you. This is symbolized by the Paschal lamb which was sacrificed, the blood of which Moses sprinkled on the threshold, and smeared on the doorposts. He told us of the faith which is now in us, which was given to us through the perfect Lamb.

"By sealing the forehead and eyes with the hand, we turn aside the one who is seeking to destroy us."

~St. Hippolytus of Rome: The Apostolic Tradition, 42.

St. Augustine: Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love (II)


(Second Part)

62. By the Sacrifice of Christ All Things are Restored, and Peace is Made Between Earth and Heaven.


And, of course, the holy angels, taught by God, in the eternal contemplation of whose truth their happiness consists, know how great a number of the human race are to supplement their ranks, and fill up the full tale of their citizenship. Wherefore the apostle says, that all things are gathered together in one in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth. The things which are in heaven are gathered together when what was lost therefrom in the fall of the angels is restored from among men; and the things which are on earth are gathered together, when those who are predestined to eternal life are redeemed from their old corruption. And thus, through that single sacrifice in which the Mediator was offered up, the one sacrifice of which the many victims under the law were types, heavenly things are brought into peace with earthly things, and earthly things with heavenly. Wherefore, as the same apostle says: For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell: and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself: by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

63. The Peace of God, Which Reigns in Heaven, Passes All Understanding.

This peace, as Scripture says, passes all understanding, and cannot be known by us until we have come into the full possession of it. For in what sense are heavenly things reconciled, except they be reconciled to us, viz. by coming into harmony with us? For in heaven there is unbroken peace, both between all the intelligent creatures that exist there, and between these and their Creator. And this peace, as is said, passes all understanding; but this, of course, means our understanding, not that of those who always behold the face of their Father. We now, however great may be our human understanding, know but in part, and see through a glass darkly. But when we shall be equal unto the angels of God then we shall see face to face, as they do; and we shall have as great peace towards them as they have towards us, because we shall love them as much as we are loved by them. And so their peace shall be known to us: for our own peace shall be like to theirs, and as great as theirs, nor shall it then pass our understanding. But the peace of God, the peace which He cherishes towards us, shall undoubtedly pass not our understanding only, but theirs as well. And this must be so: for every rational creature which is happy derives its happiness from Him; He does not derive His from it. And in this view it is better to interpret all in the passage, The peace of God passes all understanding, as admitting of no exception even in favor of the understanding of the holy angels: the only exception that can be made is that of God Himself. For, of course, His peace does not pass His own understanding.

64. Pardon of Sin Extends Over the Whole Mortal Life of the Saints, Which, Though Free from Crime, is Not Free from Sin.

But the angels even now are at peace with us when our sins are pardoned. Hence, in the order of the Creed, after the mention of the Holy Church is placed the remission of sins. For it is by this that the Church on earth stands: it is through this that what had been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again. For, setting aside the grace of baptism, which is given as an antidote to original sin, so that what our birth imposes upon us, our new birth relieves us from (this grace, however, takes away all the actual sins also that have been committed in thought, word, and deed): setting aside, then, this great act of favor, whence commences man's restoration, and in which all our guilt, both original and actual, is washed away, the rest of our life from the time that we have the use of reason provides constant occasion for the remission of sins, however great may be our advance in righteousness. For the sons of God, as long as they live in this body of death, are in conflict with death. And although it is truly said of them, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, yet they are led by the Spirit of God, and as the sons of God advance towards God under this drawback, that they are led also by their own spirit, weighted as it is by the corruptible body; and that, as the sons of men, under the influence of human affections, they fall back to their old level, and so sin. There is a difference, however. For although every crime is a sin, every sin is not a crime. And so we say that the life of holy men, as long as they remain in this mortal body, may be found without crime; but, as the Apostle John says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

65. God Pardons Sins, But on Condition of Penitence, Certain Times for Which Have Been Fixed by the Law of the Church.

But even crimes themselves, however great, may be remitted in the Holy Church; and the mercy of God is never to be despaired of by men who truly repent, each according to the measure of his sin. And in the act of repentance, where a crime has been committed of such a nature as to cut off the sinner from the body of Christ, we are not to take account so much of the measure of time as of the measure of sorrow; for a broken and a contrite heart God does not despise. But as the grief of one heart is frequently hid from another, and is not made known to others by words or other signs, when it is manifest to Him of whom it is said, My groaning is not hid from You, those who govern the Church have rightly appointed times of penitence, that the Church in which the sins are remitted may be satisfied; and outside the Church sins are not remitted. For the Church alone has received the pledge of the Holy Spirit, without which there is no remission of sins— such, at least, as brings the pardoned to eternal life.

66. The Pardon of Sin Has Reference Chiefly to the Future Judgment.

Now the pardon of sin has reference chiefly to the future judgment. For, as far as this life is concerned, the saying of Scripture holds good: A heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother's womb, till the day that they return to the mother of all things. So that we see even infants, after baptism and regeneration, suffering from the infliction of various evils: and thus we are given to understand, that all that is set forth in the sacraments of salvation refers rather to the hope of future good, than to the retaining or attaining of present blessings. For many sins seem in this world to be overlooked and visited with no punishment, whose punishment is reserved for the future (for it is not in vain that the day when Christ shall come as Judge of quick and dead is peculiarly named the day of judgment); just as, on the other hand, many sins are punished in this life, which nevertheless are pardoned, and shall bring down no punishment in the future life. Accordingly, in reference to certain temporal punishments, which in this life are visited upon sinners, the apostle, addressing those whose sins are blotted out, and not reserved for the final judgment, says: For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

67. Faith Without Works is Dead, and Cannot Save a Man.

It is believed, moreover, by some, that men who do not abandon the name of Christ, and who have been baptized in the Church by His baptism, and who have never been cut off from the Church by any schism or heresy, though they should live in the grossest sin and never either wash it away in penitence nor redeem it by almsgiving, but persevere in it persistently to the last day of their lives, shall be saved by fire; that is, that although they shall suffer a punishment by fire, lasting for a time proportionate to the magnitude of their crimes and misdeeds, they shall not be punished with everlasting fire. But those who believe this, and yet are Catholics, seem to me to be led astray by a kind of benevolent feeling natural to humanity. For Holy Scripture, when consulted, gives a very different answer. I have written a book on this subject, entitled Of Faith and Works, in which, to the best of my ability, God assisting me, I have shown from Scripture, that the faith which saves us is that which the Apostle Paul clearly enough describes when he says: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which works by love. But if it works evil, and not good, then without doubt, as the Apostle James says, it is dead, being alone. The same apostle says again, What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? And further, if a wicked man shall be saved by fire on account of his faith alone, and if this is what the blessed Apostle Paul means when he says, But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire; then faith without works can save a man, and what his fellow-apostle James says must be false. And that must be false which Paul himself says in another place: Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners; shall inherit the kingdom of God. For if those who persevere in these wicked courses shall nevertheless be saved on account of their faith in Christ, how can it be true that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

68. The True Sense of the Passage (1 Cor. 3:11-15) About Those Who are Saved, Yet So as by Fire.

But as these most plain and unmistakeable declarations of the apostles cannot be false, that obscure saying about those who build upon the foundation, Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay, and stubble (for it is these who, it is said, shall be saved, yet so as by fire, the merit of the foundation saving them ), must be so interpreted as not to conflict with the plain statements quoted above. Now wood, hay, and stubble may, without incongruity, be understood to signify such an attachment to worldly things, however lawful these may be in themselves, that they cannot be lost without grief of mind. And though this grief burns, yet if Christ hold the place of foundation in the heart—that is, if nothing be preferred to Him, and if the man, though burning with grief, is yet more willing to lose the things he loves so much than to lose Christ,— he is saved by fire. If, however, in time of temptation, he prefer to hold by temporal and earthly things rather than by Christ, he has not Christ as his foundation; for he puts earthly things in the first place, and in a building nothing comes before the foundation. Again, the fire of which the apostle speaks in this place must be such a fire as both men are made to pass through, that is, both the man who builds upon the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, and the man who builds wood, hay, stubble. For he immediately adds: The fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. The fire then shall prove, not the work of one of them only, but of both. Now the trial of adversity is a kind of fire which is plainly spoken of in another place: The furnace proves the potter's vessels: and the furnace of adversity just men. And this fire does in the course of this life act exactly in the way the apostle says. If it come into contact with two believers, one caring for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord, that is, building upon Christ the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones; the other caring for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife, that is, building upon the same foundation wood, hay, stubble—the work of the former is not burned, because he has not given his love to things whose loss can cause him grief; but the work of the latter is burned, because things that are enjoyed with desire cannot be lost without pain. But since, by our supposition, even the latter prefers to lose these things rather than to lose Christ, and since he does not desert Christ out of fear of losing them, though he is grieved when he does lose them, he is saved, but it is so as by fire; because the grief for what he loved and has lost burns him. But it does not subvert nor consume him; for he is protected by his immoveable and incorruptible foundation.

69. It is Not Impossible that Some Believers May Pass Through a Purgatorial Fire in the Future Life.

And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it. This cannot, however, be the case of any of those of whom it is said, that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God, unless after suitable repentance their sins be forgiven them. When I say suitable, I mean that they are not to be unfruitful in almsgiving; for Holy Scripture lays so much stress on this virtue, that our Lord tells us beforehand, that He will ascribe no merit to those on His right hand but that they abound in it, and no defect to those on His left hand but their want of it, when He shall say to the former, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom, and to the latter, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.

70. Almsgiving Will Not Atone for Sin Unless the Life Be Changed.

We must beware, however, lest any one should suppose that gross sins, such as are committed by those who shall not inherit the kingdom of God, may be daily perpetrated, and daily atoned for by almsgiving. The life must be changed for the better; and almsgiving must be used to propitiate God for past sins, not to purchase impunity for the commission of such sins in the future. For He has given no man license to sin, although in His mercy He may blot out sins that are already committed, if we do not neglect to make proper satisfaction.

71. The Daily Prayer of the Believer Makes Satisfaction for the Trivial Sins that Daily Stain His Life.

Now the daily prayer of the believer makes satisfaction for those daily sins of a momentary and trivial kind which are necessary incidents of this life. For he can say, Our Father which art in heaven, seeing that to such a Father he is now born again of water and of the Spirit. And this prayer certainly takes away the very small sins of daily life. It takes away also those which at one time made the life of the believer very wicked, but which, now that he is changed for the better by repentance, he has given up, provided that as truly as he says, Forgive us our debts (for there is no want of debts to be forgiven), so truly does he say, as we forgive our debtors; that is, provided he does what he says he does: for to forgive a man who asks for pardon, is really to give alms.

72. There are Many Kinds of Alms, the Giving of Which Assists to Procure Pardon for Our Sins.

And on this principle of interpretation, our Lord's saying, Give alms of such things as you have, and, behold, all things are clean unto you, applies to every useful act that a man does in mercy. Not only, then, the man who gives food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to the stranger, shelter to the fugitive, who visits the sick and the imprisoned, ransoms the captive, assists the weak, leads the blind, comforts the sorrowful, heals the sick, puts the wanderer on the right path, gives advice to the perplexed, and supplies the wants of the needy,— not this man only, but the man who pardons the sinner also gives alms; and the man who corrects with blows, or restrains by any kind of discipline one over whom he has power, and who at the same time forgives from the heart the sin by which he was injured, or prays that it may be forgiven, is also a giver of alms, not only in that he forgives, or prays for forgiveness for the sin, but also in that he rebukes and corrects the sinner: for in this, too, he shows mercy. Now much good is bestowed upon unwilling recipients, when their advantage and not their pleasure is consulted; and they themselves frequently prove to be their own enemies, while their true friends are those whom they take for their enemies, and to whom in their blindness they return evil for good. (A Christian, indeed, is not permitted to return evil even for evil. ) And thus there are many kinds of alms, by giving of which we assist to procure the pardon of our sins.

73. The Greatest of All Alms is to Forgive Our Debtors and to Love Our Enemies.

But none of those is greater than to forgive from the heart a sin that has been committed against us. For it is a comparatively small thing to wish well to, or even to do good to, a man who has done no evil to you. It is a much higher thing, and is the result of the most exalted goodness, to love your enemy, and always to wish well to, and when you have the opportunity, to do good to, the man who wishes you ill, and, when he can, does you harm. This is to obey the command of God: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which persecute you. But seeing that this is a frame of mind only reached by the perfect sons of God, and that though every believer ought to strive after it, and by prayer to God and earnest struggling with himself endeavor to bring his soul up to this standard, yet a degree of goodness so high can hardly belong to so great a multitude as we believe are heard when they use this petition, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; in view of all this, it cannot be doubted that the implied undertaking is fulfilled if a man, though he has not yet attained to loving his enemy, yet, when asked by one who has sinned against him to forgive him his sin, does forgive him from his heart. For he certainly desires to be himself forgiven when he prays, as we forgive our debtors, that is, Forgive us our debts when we beg forgiveness, as we forgive our debtors when they beg forgiveness from us.

74. God Does Not Pardon the Sins of Those Who Do Not from the Heart Forgive Others.

Now, he who asks forgiveness of the man against whom he has sinned, being moved by his sin to ask forgiveness, cannot be counted an enemy in such a sense that it should be as difficult to love him now as it was when he was engaged in active hostility. And the man who does not from his heart forgive him who repents of his sin, and asks forgiveness, need not suppose that his own sins are forgiven of God. For the Truth cannot lie. And what reader or hearer of the Gospel can have failed to notice, that the same person who said, I am the Truth, taught us also this form of prayer; and in order to impress this particular petition deeply upon our minds, said, For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses? The man whom the thunder of this warning does not awaken is not asleep, but dead; and yet so powerful is that voice, that it can awaken even the dead.

75. The Wicked and the Unbelieving are Not Made Clean by the Giving of Alms, Except They Be Born Again.

Assuredly, then, those who live in gross wickedness, and take no care to reform their lives and manners, and yet amid all their crimes and vices do not cease to give frequent alms, in vain take comfort to themselves from the saying of our Lord: Give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. For they do not understand how far this saying reaches. But that they may understand this, let them hear what He says. For we read in the Gospel as follows: And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him; and He went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. You fools, did not he that made that which is without, make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. Are we to understand this as meaning that to the Pharisees who have not the faith of Christ all things are clean, if only they give alms in the way these men count almsgiving, even though they have never believed in Christ, nor been born again of water and of the Spirit? But the fact is, that all are unclean who are not made clean by the faith of Christ, according to the expression, purifying their hearts by faith; and that the apostle says, Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. How, then, could all things be clean to the Pharisees, even though they gave alms, if they were not believers? And how could they be believers if they were not willing to have faith in Christ, and to be born again of His grace? And yet what they heard is true: Give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

76. To Give Alms Aright, We Should Begin with Ourselves, and Have Pity Upon Our Own Souls.

For the man who wishes to give aims as he ought, should begin with himself, and give to himself first. For almsgiving is a work of mercy; and most truly is it said, To have mercy on your soul is pleasing to God. And for this end are we born again, that we should be pleasing to God, who is justly displeased with that which we brought with us when we were born. This is our first alms, which we give to ourselves when, through the mercy of a pitying God, we find that we are ourselves wretched, and confess the justice of His judgment by which we are made wretched, of which the apostle says, The judgment was by one to condemnation; and praise the greatness of His love, of which the same preacher of grace says, God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us: and thus judging truly of our own misery, and loving God with the love which He has Himself bestowed, we lead a holy and virtuous life. But the Pharisees, while they gave as alms the tithe of all their fruits, even the most insignificant, passed over judgment and the love of God, and so did not commence their almsgiving at home, and extend their pity to themselves in the first instance. And it is in reference to this order of love that it is said, Love your neighbor as yourself. When, then, our Lord had rebuked them because they made themselves clean on the outside, but within were full of ravening and wickedness, He advised them, in the exercise of that charity which each man owes to himself in the first instance, to make clean the inward parts. But rather, He says, give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. Then, to show what it was that He advised, and what they took no pains to do, and to show that He did not overlook or forget their almsgiving, But woe unto you, Pharisees! He says; as if He meant to say: I indeed advise you to give alms which shall make all things clean unto you; but woe unto you! For you tithe mint, and rue, and all manner of herbs; as if He meant to say: I know these alms of yours, and you need not think that I am now admonishing you in respect of such things; and pass over judgment and the love of God, an alms by which you might have been made clean from all inward impurity, so that even the bodies which you are now washing would have been clean to you. For this is the import of all things, both inward and outward things, as we read in another place: Cleanse first that which is within, that the outside may be clean also. But lest He might appear to despise the alms which they were giving out of the fruits of the earth, He says: These ought ye to have done, referring to judgment and the love of God, and not to leave the other undone, referring to the giving of the tithes.

77. If We Would Give Alms to Ourselves, We Must Flee Iniquity; For He Who Loves Iniquity Hates His Soul.

Those, then, who think that they can by giving alms, however profuse, whether in money or in kind, purchase for themselves the privilege of persisting with impunity in their monstrous crimes and hideous vices, need not thus deceive themselves. For not only do they commit these sins, but they love them so much that they would like to go on forever committing them, if only they could do so with impunity. Now, he who loves iniquity hates his own soul; and he who hates his own soul is not merciful but cruel towards it. For in loving it according to the world, he hates it according to God. But if he desired to give alms to it which should make all things clean unto him, he would hate it according to the world, and love it according to God. Now no one gives alms unless he receive what he gives from one who is not in want of it. Therefore it is said, His mercy shall meet me.

78. What Sins are Trivial and What Heinous is a Matter for God's Judgment.

Now, what sins are trivial and what heinous is not a matter to be decided by man's judgment, but by the judgment of God. For it is plain that the apostles themselves have given an indulgence in the case of certain sins: take, for example, what the Apostle Paul says to those who are married: Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer: and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Now it is possible that it might not have been considered a sin to have intercourse with a spouse, not with a view to the procreation of children, which is the great blessing of marriage, but for the sake of carnal pleasure, and to save the incontinent from being led by their weakness into the deadly sin of fornication, or adultery, or another form of uncleanness which it is shameful even to name, and into which it is possible that they might be drawn by lust under the temptation of Satan. It is possible, I say, that this might not have been considered a sin, had the apostle not added: But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. Who, then, can deny that it is a sin, when confessedly it is only by apostolic authority that permission is granted to those who do it? Another case of the same kind is where he says: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? And shortly afterwards: If then you have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the Church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now it might have been supposed in this case that it is not a sin to have a quarrel with another, that the only sin is in wishing to have it adjudicated upon outside the Church, had not the apostle immediately added: Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law with one another. And lest any one should excuse himself by saying that he had a just cause, and was suffering wrong, and that he only wished the sentence of the judges to remove his wrong, the apostle immediately anticipates such thoughts and excuses, and says: Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Thus bringing us back to our Lord's saying, If any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also; and again, Of him that takes away your goods, ask them not again. Therefore our Lord has forbidden His followers to go to law with other men about worldly affairs. And carrying out this principle, the apostle here declares that to do so is altogether a fault. But when, notwithstanding, he grants his permission to have such cases between brethren decided in the Church, other brethren adjudicating, and only sternly forbids them to be carried outside the Church, it is manifest that here again an indulgence is extended to the infirmities of the weak. It is in view, then, of these sins, and others of the same sort, and of others again more trifling still, which consist of offenses in words and thought (as the Apostle James confesses, In many things we offend all ), that we need to pray every day and often to the Lord, saying, Forgive us our debts, and to add in truth and sincerity, as we forgive our debtors.

79. Sins Which Appear Very Trifling, are Sometimes in Reality Very Serious.

Again, there are some sins which would be considered very trifling, if the Scriptures did not show that they are really very serious. For who would suppose that the man who says to his brother, You fool, is in danger of hell-fire, did not He who is the Truth say so? To the wound, however, He immediately applies the cure, giving a rule for reconciliation with one's offended brother: "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there rememberest that your brother has ought against you; leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way: first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Again, who would suppose that it was so great a sin to observe days, and months, and times, and years, as those do who are anxious or unwilling to begin anything on certain days, or in certain months or years, because the vain doctrines of men lead them to think such times lucky or unlucky, had we not the means of estimating the greatness of the evil from the fear expressed by the apostle, who says to such men, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain?

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 boasts of his heart's desire, and blesses the covetous, whom the Lord abhors. 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 for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. Whence also the expression in Genesis: The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is great, 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 same as those of Sodom and Gomorrha, 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.

81. There are Two Causes of Sin, Ignorance and Weakness; And We Need Divine Help to Overcome Both.

I shall now say this, which I have often said before in other places of my works. There are two causes that lead to sin: either we do not yet know our duty, or we do not perform the duty that we know. The former is the sin of ignorance, the latter of weakness. Now against these it is our duty to struggle; but we shall certainly be beaten in the fight, unless we are helped by God, not only to see our duty, but also, when we clearly see it, to make the love of righteousness stronger in us than the love of earthly things, the eager longing after which, or the fear of losing which, leads us with our eyes open into known sin. In the latter case we are not only sinners, for we are so even when we err through ignorance, but we are also transgressors of the law; for we leave undone what we know we ought to do, and we do what we know we ought not to do. Wherefore not only ought we to pray for pardon when we have sinned, saying, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; but we ought to pray for guidance, that we may be kept from sinning, saying, and lead us not into temptation. And we are to pray to Him of whom the Psalmist says, The Lord is my light and my salvation: my light, for He removes my ignorance; my salvation, for He takes away my infirmity.

82. The Mercy of God is Necessary to True Repentance.

Now even penance itself, when by the law of the Church there is sufficient reason for its being gone through, is frequently evaded through infirmity; for shame is the fear of losing pleasure when the good opinion of men gives more pleasure than the righteousness which leads a man to humble himself in penitence. Wherefore the mercy of God is necessary not only when a man repents, but even to lead him to repent. How else explain what the apostle says of certain persons: if God perhaps will give them repentance? And before Peter wept bitterly, we are told by the evangelist, The Lord turned, and looked upon him.

83. The Man Who Despises the Mercy of God is Guilty of the Sin Against the Holy Ghost.

Now the man who, not believing that sins are remitted in the Church, despises this great gift of God's mercy, and persists to the last day of his life in his obstinacy of heart, is guilty of the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, in whom Christ forgives sins. But this difficult question I have discussed as clearly as I could in a book devoted exclusively to this one point.

84. The Resurrection of the Body Gives Rise to Numerous Questions.

Now, as to the resurrection of the body, — not a resurrection such as some have had, who came back to life for a time and died again, but a resurrection to eternal life, as the body of Christ Himself rose again—I do not see how I can discuss the matter briefly, and at the same time give a satisfactory answer to all the questions that are ordinarily raised about it. Yet that the bodies of all men— both those who have been born and those who shall be born, both those who have died and those who shall die— shall be raised again, no Christian ought to have the shadow of a doubt.

85. The Case of Abortive Conceptions.

Hence in the first place arises a question about abortive conceptions, which have indeed been born in the mother's womb, but not so born that they could be born again. For if we shall decide that these are to rise again, we cannot object to any conclusion that may be drawn in regard to those which are fully formed. Now who is there that is not rather disposed to think that unformed abortions perish, like seeds that have never fructified? But who will dare to deny, though he may not dare to affirm, that at the resurrection every defect in the form shall be supplied, and that thus the perfection which time would have brought shall not be wanting, any more than the blemishes which time did bring shall be present: so that the nature shall neither want anything suitable and in harmony with it that length of days would have added, nor be debased by the presence of anything of an opposite kind that length of days has added; but that what is not yet complete shall be completed, just as what has been injured shall be renewed.

86. If They Have Ever Lived, They Must of Course Have Died, and Therefore Shall Have a Share in the Resurrection of the Dead.

And therefore the following question may be very carefully inquired into and discussed by learned men, though I do not know whether it is in man's power to resolve it: At what time the infant begins to live in the womb: whether life exists in a latent form before it manifests itself in the motions of the living being. To deny that the young who are cut out limb by limb from the womb, lest if they were left there dead the mother should die too, have never been alive, seems too audacious. Now, from the time that a man begins to live, from that time it is possible for him to die. And if he die, wheresoever death may overtake him, I cannot discover on what principle he can be denied an interest in the resurrection of the dead.

87. The Case of Monstrous Births.

We are not justified in affirming even of monstrosities, which are born and live, however quickly they may die, that they shall not rise again, nor that they shall rise again in their deformity, and not rather with an amended and perfected body. God forbid that the double limbed man who was lately born in the East, of whom an account was brought by most trustworthy brethren who had seen him—an account which the presbyter Jerome, of blessed memory, left in writing; — God forbid, I say, that we should think that at the resurrection there shall be one man with double limbs, and not two distinct men, as would have been the case had twins been born. And so other births, which, because they have either a superfluity or a defect, or because they are very much deformed, are called monstrosities, shall at the resurrection be restored to the normal shape of man; and so each single soul shall possess its own body; and no bodies shall cohere together even though they were born in cohesion, but each separately shall possess all the members which constitute a complete human body.

88. The Material of the Body Never Perishes.

Nor does the earthly material out of which men's mortal bodies are created ever perish; but though it may crumble into dust and ashes, or be dissolved into vapors and exhalations, though it may be transformed into the substance of other bodies, or dispersed into the elements, though it should become food for beasts or men, and be changed into their flesh, it returns in a moment of time to that human soul which animated it at the first, and which caused it to become man, and to live and grow.

89. But This Material May Be Differently Arranged in the Resurrection Body.

And this earthly material, which when the soul leaves it becomes a corpse, shall not at the resurrection be so restored as that the parts into which it is separated, and which under various forms and appearances become parts of other things (though they shall all return to the same body from which they were separated), must necessarily return to the same parts of the body in which they were originally situated. For otherwise, to suppose that the hair recovers all that our frequent clippings and shavings have taken away from it, and the nails all that we have so often pared off, presents to the imagination such a picture of ugliness and deformity, as to make the resurrection of the body all but incredible. But just as if a statue of some soluble metal were either melted by fire, or broken into dust, or reduced to a shapeless mass, and a sculptor wished to restore it from the same quantity of metal, it would make no difference to the completeness of the work what part of the statue any given particle of the material was put into, as long as the restored statue contained all the material of the original one; so God, the Artificer of marvellous and unspeakable power, shall with marvellous and unspeakable rapidity restore our body, using up the whole material of which it originally consisted. Nor will it affect the completeness of its restoration whether hairs return to hairs, and nails to nails, or whether the part of these that had perished be changed into flesh, and called to take its place in another part of the body, the great Artist taking careful heed that nothing shall be unbecoming or out of place.

90. If There Be Differences and Inequalities Among the Bodies of Those Who Rise Again, There Shall Be Nothing Offensive or Disproportionate in Any.

Nor does it necessarily follow that there shall be differences of stature among those who rise again, because they were of different statures during life; nor is it certain that the lean shall rise again in their former leanness, and the fat in their former fatness. But if it is part of the Creator's design that each should preserve his own peculiarities of feature, and retain a recognizable likeness to his former self, while in regard to other bodily advantages all should be equal, then the material of which each is composed may be so modified that none of it shall be lost, and that any defect may be supplied by Him who can create at His will out of nothing. But if in the bodies of those who rise again there shall be a well-ordered inequality, such as there is in the voices that make up a full harmony, then the material of each man's body shall be so dealt with that it shall form a man fit for the assemblies of the angels, and one who shall bring nothing among them to jar upon their sensibilities. And assuredly nothing that is unseemly shall be there; but whatever shall be there shall be graceful and becoming: for if anything is not seemly, neither shall it be.

91. The Bodies of the Saints Shall at The Resurrection Be Spiritual Bodies.

The bodies of the saints, then, shall rise again free from every defect, from every blemish, as from all corruption, weight, and impediment. For their ease of movement shall be as complete as their happiness. Whence their bodies have been called spiritual, though undoubtedly they shall be bodies and not spirits. For just as now the body is called animate, though it is a body, and not a soul [anima], so then the body shall be called spiritual, though it shall be a body, not a spirit. Hence, as far as regards the corruption which now weighs down the soul, and the vices which urge the flesh to lust against the spirit, it shall not then be flesh, but body; for there are bodies which are called celestial. Wherefore it is said, Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; and, as if in explanation of this, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. What the apostle first called flesh and blood, he afterwards calls corruption; and what he first called the kingdom of God, he afterwards calls incorruption. But as far as regards the substance, even then it shall be flesh. For even after the resurrection the body of Christ was called flesh. The apostle, however, says: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body; because so perfect shall then be the harmony between flesh and spirit, the spirit keeping alive the subjugated flesh without the need of any nourishment, that no part of our nature shall be in discord with another; but as we shall be free from enemies without, so we shall not have ourselves for enemies within.

92. The Resurrection of the Lost.

But as for those who, out of the mass of perdition caused by the first man's sin, are not redeemed through the one Mediator between God and man, they too shall rise again, each with his own body, but only to be punished with the devil and his angels. Now, whether they shall rise again with all their diseases and deformities of body, bringing with them the diseased and deformed limbs which they possessed here, it would be labor lost to inquire. For we need not weary ourselves speculating about their health or their beauty, which are matters uncertain, when their eternal damnation is a matter of certainty. Nor need we inquire in what sense their body shall be incorruptible, if it be susceptible of pain; or in what sense corruptible, if it be free from the possibility of death. For there is no true life except where there is happiness in life, and no true incorruption except where health is unbroken by any pain. When, however, the unhappy are not permitted to die, then, if I may so speak, death itself dies not; and where pain without intermission afflicts the soul, and never comes to an end, corruption itself is not completed. This is called in Holy Scripture the second death.

93. Both the First and the Second Deaths are the Consequence of Sin. Punishment is Proportioned to Guilt.

And neither the first death, which takes place when the soul is compelled to leave the body, nor the second death, which takes place when the soul is not permitted to leave the suffering body, would have been inflicted on man had no one sinned. And, of course, the mildest punishment of all will fall upon those who have added no actual sin, to the original sin they brought with them; and as for the rest who have added such actual sins, the punishment of each will be the more tolerable in the next world, according as his iniquity has been less in this world.

94. The Saints Shall Know More Fully in the Next World the Benefits They Have Received by Grace.

Thus, when reprobate angels and men are left to endure everlasting punishment, the saints shall know more fully the benefits they have received by grace. Then, in contemplation of the actual facts, they shall see more clearly the meaning of the expression in the psalms, I will sing of mercy and judgment; for it is only of unmerited mercy that any is redeemed, and only in well-merited judgment that any is condemned.

95. God's Judgments Shall Then Be Explained.

Then shall be made clear much that is now dark. For example, when of two infants, whose cases seem in all respects alike, one by the mercy of God chosen to Himself, and the other is by His justice abandoned (wherein the one who is chosen may recognize what was of justice due to himself, had not mercy intervened); why, of these two, the one should have been chosen rather than the other, is to us an insoluble problem. And again, why miracles were not wrought in the presence of men who would have repented at the working of the miracles, while they were wrought in the presence of others who, it was known, would not repent. For our Lord says most distinctly: Woe unto you, Chorazin! Woe unto you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And assuredly there was no injustice in God's not willing that they should be saved, though they could have been saved had He so willed it. Then shall be seen in the clearest light of wisdom what with the pious is now a faith, though it is not yet a matter of certain knowledge, how sure, how unchangeable, and how effectual is the will of God; how many things He can do which He does not will to do, though willing nothing which He cannot perform; and how true is the song of the psalmist, But our God is in the heavens; He has done whatsoever He has pleased. And this certainly is not true, if God has ever willed anything that He has not performed; and, still worse, if it was the will of man that hindered the Omnipotent from doing what He pleased. Nothing, therefore, happens but by the will of the Omnipotent, He either permitting it to be done, or Himself doing it.

96. The Omnipotent God Does Well Even in the Permission of Evil.

Nor can we doubt that God does well even in the permission of what is evil. For He permits it only in the justice of His judgment. And surely all that is just is good. Although, therefore, evil, in so far as it is evil, is not a good; yet the fact that evil as well as good exists, is a good. For if it were not a good that evil should exist, its existence would not be permitted by the omnipotent Good, who without doubt can as easily refuse to permit what He does not wish, as bring about what He does wish. And if we do not believe this, the very first sentence of our creed is endangered, wherein we profess to believe in God the Father Almighty. For He is not truly called Almighty if He cannot do whatsoever He pleases, or if the power of His almighty will is hindered by the will of any creature whatsoever.

97. In What Sense Does the Apostle Say that God Will Have All Men to Be Saved, When, as a Matter of Fact, All are Not Saved?

Hence we must inquire in what sense is said of God what the apostle has mostly truly said: Who will have all men to be saved. For, as a matter of fact, not all, nor even a majority, are saved: so that it would seem that what God wills is not done, man's will interfering with, and hindering the will of God. When we ask the reason why all men are not saved, the ordinary answer is: Because men themselves are not willing. This, indeed cannot be said of infants, for it is not in their power either to will or not to will. But if we could attribute to their will the childish movements they make at baptism, when they make all the resistance they can, we should say that even they are not willing to be saved. Our Lord says plainly, however, in the Gospel, when upbraiding the impious city: How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! as if the will of God had been overcome by the will of men, and when the weakest stood in the way with their want of will, the will of the strongest could not be carried out. And where is that omnipotence which has done all that it pleased on earth and in heaven, if God willed to gather together the children of Jerusalem, and did not accomplish it? Or rather, Jerusalem was not willing that her children should be gathered together? But even though she was unwilling, He gathered together as many of her children as He wished: for He does not will some things and do them, and will others and do them not; but He has done all that He pleased in heaven and in earth.

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