Archive for the ‘Augustine’ Category

Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering

August 15, 2011

It is, indeed, better that men should be brought to serve God by instruction than by fear of punishment, or by pain. But because the former means are better, the latter must not therefore be neglected. Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering, before they attain the highest grade of religious development. . . . The Lord himself orders that guests be first invited, then compelled, to his great supper.

This quote is attributed to Augustine. If any reader can verify where Augustine said it I’d appreciate it. I can’t remember it from City of God or Confessions but they are long books – well the former is!

If the quote is genuine it demonstrates how even a great theologian can completely misunderstand a parable to great detriment.

The greatest preacher of the English Reformation was Hugh Latimer, and often he was called to preach before King Henry VIII

November 17, 2009

The greatest preacher of the English Reformation was Hugh Latimer, and often he was called to preach before King Henry VIII. When he was made a king’s chaplain a courtier said to him, “Beware of contradicting the king. Speak as he speaks, and instead of presuming to lead him, strive to follow him.” “Away with your counsel !” replied Latimer. He took his calling seriously, and all he read confirmed his need to be faithful. One day he picked up Augustine’s writings and read there, “He who for fear of any power hides the truth, provokes the wrath of God to come upon him, for he fears men more than God.” Another day he picked up Chrysostom’s writings and read, “He is not only a traitor to the truth who openly for truth teaches a lie, but he also who does not pronounce and show the truth he knows.” Latimer said that those two sentences made him afraid and he vowed, “I had rather suffer extreme punishment than be a traitor unto the truth.” He met many obstacles in speaking to the king, some even in his own impetuous make-up, but he wrote a letter one day to Henry VIII, “Your Grace, I must show forth such things as I have learned in Scripture, or else deny Jesus Christ. The which denying ought more to be dreaded than the loss of all temporal goods, honour, promotion, fame, prison, slander, hurts, banishment, and all manner of torments and cruelties, yea, and death itself, be it never so shameful and painful … There is as great distance between you and me as between God and man; for you are here to me and to all your subjects in God’s stead; and so I should quake to speak of your Grace. But as you are a mortal man having in you the corrupt nature of man, so you have no less need of the merits of Christ’s passion for your salvation than I and others of your subjects have”

(The Reformation in England, D’Aubigne, Vol.2, p.42).

The king was not offended by the letter and continued to appreciate his chaplain Hugh Latimer.

The New is in the Old contained – the Old is in the New explained

November 4, 2009

The New is in the Old contained – the Old is in the New explained.

Augustine

or

The old is in the new revealed, the new is in the old concealed.

though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer

November 2, 2009

Wherefore, though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer.  For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing.  For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked.  And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise.  So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them.  For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odor.

Augustine, City of God, Book 1, ch.8

I was bound by the iron chain of my own will

October 19, 2009

I was bound by the iron chain of my own will. The enemy held fast my will, and had made of it a chain, and had bound me tight with it. For out of the perverse will came lust, and the service of lust ended in habit, and habit, not resisted, became necessity. By these links, as it were, forged together–which is why I called it “a chain”–a hard bondage held me in slavery.

Augustine, Confessions, VIII, 5, 10

For the law of sin is the tyranny of habit, by which the mind is drawn and held, even against its will. Yet it deserves to be so held because it so willingly falls into the habit.

Augustine, Confessions, VIII, 5,12

I lusted to thieve, and did it, compelled by no hunger, nor poverty…For I stole that, of which I had enough, and much better

October 16, 2009

…I lusted to thieve, and did it, compelled by no hunger, nor poverty…For I stole that, of which I had enough, and much better. Nor cared I to enjoy what I stole, but joyed in the theft and sin itself. A pear tree there was near our vineyard, laden with fruit, tempting neither for colour nor taste. To shake and rob this, some lewd young fellows of us went, late one night…and took huge loads, not for our eating, but to fling to the very hogs, having only tasted them. And this, but to do what we liked only, because it was misliked. Behold my heart, O God, behold my heart, which Thou hadst pity upon in the bottom of the bottomless pit. Now, behold, let my heart tell Thee what it sought there, that I should be gratuitously evil, having no temptation to ill, but the ill itself. It was foul, and I loved it; I loved to perish, I loved mine own fault, not that for which I was faulty, but my fault itself. Foul soul, falling from Thy firmament to utter destruction; not seeking aught through the shame, but the shame itself!

Augustine, Confessions, 2.4.

For faith is understanding’s step; and understanding faith’s attainment

October 8, 2009

The mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of God first seek for believing men, that they may make them understanding. For faith is understanding’s step; and understanding faith’s attainment. This the Prophet expressly says to all who prematurely and in undue order look for understanding, and neglect faith. For he says, ‘Unless ye believe, you shall not understand.’ (Isa. 7.9, LXX)

Augustine, sermon 76 on the New Testament

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you might believe, but believe that you may understand

October 8, 2009

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you might believe, but believe that you may understand.

Augustine, De Utilitate Credendi, 22-25 and In Joan Evang. xxix, 6

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you

October 7, 2009

The human heart is never satisfied.

Chinese saying

There is a god-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.

Pascal

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

St. Augustine, Confessions, Bk.1.1.1

If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself

September 26, 2009

If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.

Augustine