Saint Augustine Enchiridion On Faith, Hope, and Love

1. I cannot say, my dearest son Laurence, how much your learning pleases
me, and how much I desire that you should be wise--though not one of those of
whom it is said: "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputant of
this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"1 Rather, you
should be one of those of whom it is written, "The multitude of the wise is the health
of the world"2; and also you should be the kind of man the apostle wishes those men
to be to whom he said,3 "I would have you be wise in goodness and simple in evil."4
2. Human wisdom consists in piety. This you have in the book of the saintly
Job, for there he writes that Wisdom herself said to man, "Behold, piety is
wisdom."5 If, then, you ask what kind of piety she was speaking of, you will find it
more distinctly designated by the Greek term qeosebeia, literally, "the service of
God." The Greek has still another word for "piety," ensebeia, which also signifies
"proper service." This too refers chiefly to the service of God. But no term is better
than qeosebeia, which clearly expresses the idea of the man's service of God as the
source of human wisdom.
When you ask me to be brief, you do not expect me to speak of great issues in
a few sentences, do you? Is not this rather what you desire: a brief summary or a
short treatise on the proper mode of worshipping [serving] God?
3. If I should answer, "God should be worshipped in faith, hope, love," you
would doubtless reply that this was shorter than you wished, and might then beg
for a brief explication of what each of these three means: What should be believed,
what should be hoped for, and what should be loved? If I should answer these
questions, you would then have everything you asked for in your letter. If you have
kept a copy of it, you can easily refer to it. If not, recall your questions as I discuss
4. It is your desire, as you wrote, to have from me a book, a sort of
enchiridion,6 as it might be called--something to have "at hand"--that deals with
your questions. What is to be sought after above all else? What, in view of the divers
heresies, is to be avoided above all else? How far does reason support religion; or
what happens to reason when the issues involved concern faith alone; what is the
beginning and end of our endeavor? What is the most comprehensive of all
explanations? What is the certain and distinctive foundation of the catholic faith?
You would have the answers to all these questions if you really understood what a
man should believe, what he should hope for, and what he ought to love. For these
are the chief things--indeed, the only things--to seek for in religion. He who turns
away from them is either a complete stranger to the name of Christ or else he is a
heretic. Things that arise in sensory experience, or that are analyzed by the
intellect, may be demonstrated by the reason. But in matters that pass beyond the
scope of the physical senses, which we have not settled by our own understanding,
and cannot--here we must believe, without hesitation, the witness of those men by
1I Cor. 1:20.
2Wis. 6:26 (Vulgate).
3Rom. 16:19.
4A later interpolation, not found in the best MSS., adds, "As no one can exist from himself, so also no one can be wise in himself save only as he is enlightened by Him of whom it is written, 'All wisdom is from God' [Ecclus. 1:1]."
5Job 28:28.
6A transliteration of the Greek egceiridion, literally, a handbook or manual.
whom the Scriptures (rightly called divine) were composed, men who were divinely
aided in their senses and their minds to see and even to foresee the things about
which they testify.
5. But, as this faith, which works by love,7 begins to penetrate the soul, it
tends, through the vital power of goodness, to change into sight, so that the holy and
perfect in heart catch glimpses of that ineffable beauty whose full vision is our
highest happiness. Here, then, surely, is the answer to your question about the
beginning and the end of our endeavor. We begin in faith, we are perfected in sight.8
This likewise is the most comprehensive of all explanations. As for the certain and
distinctive foundation of the catholic faith, it is Christ. "For other foundation," said
the apostle, "can no man lay save that which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus."9
Nor should it be denied that this is the distinctive basis of the catholic faith, just
because it appears that it is common to us and to certain heretics as well. For if we
think carefully about the meaning of Christ, we shall see that among some of the
heretics who wish to be called Christians, the name of Christ is held in honor, but
the reality itself is not among them. To make all this plain would take too long--
because we would then have to review all the heresies that have been, the ones that
now exist, and those which could exist under the label "Christian," and we would
have to show that what we have said of all is true of each of them. Such a discussion
would take so many volumes as to make it seem endless.10
6. You have asked for an enchiridion, something you could carry around, not
just baggage for your bookshelf. Therefore we may return to these three ways in
which, as we said, God should be served: faith, hope, love. It is easy to say what one
ought to believe, what to hope for, and what to love. But to defend our doctrines
against the calumnies of those who think differently is a more difficult and detailed
task. If one is to have this wisdom, it is not enough just to put an enchiridion in the
hand. It is also necessary that a great zeal be kindled in the heart.


7. Let us begin, for example, with the Symbol11 and the Lord's Prayer. What
is shorter to hear or to read? What is more easily memorized? Since through sin the
human race stood grievously burdened by great misery and in deep need of mercy, a
prophet, preaching of the time of God's grace, said, "And it shall be that all who
invoke the Lord's name will be saved."12 Thus, we have the Lord's Prayer. Later, the
apostle, when he wished to commend this same grace, remembered this prophetic
testimony and promptly added, "But how shall they invoke him in whom they have
not believed?"13 Thus, we have the Symbol. In these two we have the three
theological virtues working together: faith believes; hope and love pray. Yet without
faith nothing else is possible; thus faith prays too. This, then, is the meaning of the
saying, "How shall they invoke him in whom they have not believed?"
8. Now, is it possible to hope for what we do not believe in? We can, of course,
believe in something that we do not hope for. Who among the faithful does not
7Cf. Gal. 5:6.
8Cf. I Cor. 13:10, 11.
9I Cor. 3:11.
10Already, very early in his ministry (397), Augustine had written De agone Christiano, in which he had reviewed and refuted a full score of heresies threatening the orthodox faith.
11The Apostles' Creed. Cf. Augustine's early essay On Faith and the Creed.
12Joel 2:32.
13Rom. 10:14.
believe in the punishment of the impious? Yet he does not hope for it, and whoever
believes that such a punishment is threatening him and draws back in horror from
it is more rightly said to fear than to hope. A poet, distinguishing between these two
feelings, said, "Let those who dread be allowed to hope,"14
but another poet, and a better one, did not put it rightly:
"Here, if I could have hoped for [i.e., foreseen]
such a grievous blow..." 15
Indeed, some grammarians use this as an example of inaccurate language and
comment, "He said 'to hope' when he should have said 'to fear.'"
Therefore faith may refer to evil things as well as to good, since we believe in
both the good and evil. Yet faith is good, not evil. Moreover, faith refers to things
past and present and future. For we believe that Christ died; this is a past event.
We believe that he sitteth at the Father's right hand; this is present. We believe
that he will come as our judge; this is future. Again, faith has to do with our own
affairs and with those of others. For everyone believes, both about himself and other
persons--and about things as well--that at some time he began to exist and that he
has not existed forever. Thus, not only about men, but even about angels, we believe
many things that have a bearing on religion.
But hope deals only with good things, and only with those which lie in the
future, and which pertain to the man who cherishes the hope. Since this is so, faith
must be distinguished from hope: they are different terms and likewise different
concepts. Yet faith and hope have this in common: they refer to what is not seen,
whether this unseen is believed in or hoped for. Thus in the Epistle to the Hebrews,
which is used by the enlightened defenders of the catholic rule of faith, faith is said
to be "the conviction of things not seen."16 However, when a man maintains that
neither words nor witnesses nor even arguments, but only the evidence of present
experience, determine his faith, he still ought not to be called absurd or told, "You
have seen; therefore you have not believed." For it does not follow that unless a
thing is not seen it cannot be believed. Still it is better for us to use the term "faith,"
as we are taught in "the sacred eloquence,"17 to refer to things not seen. And as for
hope, the apostle says: "Hope that is seen is not hope. For if a man sees a thing, why
does he hope for it? If, however, we hope for what we do not see, we then wait for it
in patience."18 When, therefore, our good is believed to be future, this is the same
thing as hoping for it.
What, then, shall I say of love, without which faith can do nothing? There can
be no true hope without love. Indeed, as the apostle James says, "Even the demons
believe and tremble."19
Yet they neither hope nor love. Instead, believing as we do that what we hope
for and love is coming to pass, they tremble. Therefore, the apostle Paul approves
and commends the faith that works by love and that cannot exist without hope.
Thus it is that love is not without hope, hope is not without love, and neither hope
nor love are without faith.
14Lucan, Pharsalia, II, 15.
15Virgil, Aeneid, IV, 419. The context of this quotation is Dido's lament over Aeneas' prospective abandonment of her. She is saying that if she could have foreseen such a disaster, she would have been able to bear it. Augustine's criticism here is a literalistic quibble.
16Heb. 11:1.
17Sacra eloquia--a favorite phrase of Augustine's for the Bible.
18Rom. 8:24, 25 (Old Latin).
19James 2:19.


9. Wherefore, when it is asked what we ought to believe in matters of
religion, the answer is not to be sought in the exploration of the nature of things
[rerum natura], after the manner of those whom the Greeks called "physicists."20
Nor should we be dismayed if Christians are ignorant about the properties and the
number of the basic elements of nature, or about the motion, order, and deviations
of the stars, the map of the heavens, the kinds and nature of animals, plants,
stones, springs, rivers, and mountains; about the divisions of space and time, about
the signs of impending storms, and the myriad other things which these "physicists"
have come to understand, or think they have. For even these men, gifted with such
superior insight, with their ardor in study and their abundant leisure, exploring
some of these matters by human conjecture and others through historical inquiry,
have not yet learned everything there is to know. For that matter, many of the
things they are so proud to have discovered are more often matters of opinion than
of verified knowledge.
For the Christian, it is enough to believe that the cause of all created things,
whether in heaven or on earth, whether visible or invisible, is nothing other than
the goodness of the Creator, who is the one and the true God.21 Further, the
Christian believes that nothing exists save God himself and what comes from him;
and he believes that God is triune, i.e., the Father, and the Son begotten of the
Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the same Father, but one and the same
Spirit of the Father and the Son.
10. By this Trinity, supremely and equally and immutably good, were all
things created. But they were not created supremely, equally, nor immutably good.
Still, each single created thing is good, and taken as a whole they are very good,
because together they constitute a universe of admirable beauty.
11. In this universe, even what is called evil, when it is rightly ordered and
kept in its place, commends the good more eminently, since good things yield
greater pleasure and praise when compared to the bad things. For the Omnipotent
God, whom even the heathen acknowledge as the Supreme Power over all, would
not allow any evil in his works, unless in his omnipotence and goodness, as the
Supreme Good, he is able to bring forth good out of evil. What, after all, is anything
we call evil except the privation of good? In animal bodies, for instance, sickness and
wounds are nothing but the privation of health. When a cure is effected, the evils
which were present (i.e., the sickness and the wounds) do not retreat and go
elsewhere. Rather, they simply do not exist any more. For such evil is not a
substance; the wound or the disease is a defect of the bodily substance which, as a
substance, is good. Evil, then, is an accident, i.e., a privation of that good which is
called health. Thus, whatever defects there are in a soul are privations of a natural
good. When a cure takes place, they are not transferred elsewhere but, since they
are no longer present in the state of health, they no longer exist at all.22
20One of the standard titles of early Greek philosophical treatises was peri fnsewz, which would translate into Latin as De rerum natura. This is, in fact, the title of Lucretius' famous poem, the greatest philosophical work written in classical Latin.
21This basic motif appears everywhere in Augustine's thought as the very foundation of his whole system.
22This section (Chs. III and IV) is the most explicit statement of a major motif which pervades the whole of Augustinian metaphysics. We see it in his earliest writings, Soliloquies, 1, 2, and De ordine,
II, 7. It is obviously a part of the Neoplatonic heritage which Augustine appropriated for his
Christian philosophy. The good is positive, constructive, essential; evil is privative, destructive,


12. All of nature, therefore, is good, since the Creator of all nature is
supremely good. But nature is not supremely and immutably good as is the Creator
of it. Thus the good in created things can be diminished and augmented. For good to
be diminished is evil; still, however much it is diminished, something must remain
of its original nature as long as it exists at all. For no matter what kind or however
insignificant a thing may be, the good which is its "nature" cannot be destroyed
without the thing itself being destroyed. There is good reason, therefore, to praise
an uncorrupted thing, and if it were indeed an incorruptible thing which could not
be destroyed, it would doubtless be all the more worthy of praise. When, however, a
thing is corrupted, its corruption is an evil because it is, by just so much, a privation
of the good. Where there is no privation of the good, there is no evil. Where there is
evil, there is a corresponding diminution of the good. As long, then, as a thing is
being corrupted, there is good in it of which it is being deprived; and in this process,
if something of its being remains that cannot be further corrupted, this will then be
an incorruptible entity [natura incorruptibilis], and to this great good it will have
come through the process of corruption. But even if the corruption is not arrested, it
still does not cease having some good of which it cannot be further deprived. If,
however, the corruption comes to be total and entire, there is no good left either,
because it is no longer an entity at all. Wherefore corruption cannot consume the
good without also consuming the thing itself. Every actual entity [natura] is
therefore good; a greater good if it cannot be corrupted, a lesser good if it can be. Yet
only the foolish and unknowing can deny that it is still good even when corrupted.
Whenever a thing is consumed by corruption, not even the corruption remains, for it
is nothing in itself, having no subsistent being in which to exist.
13. From this it follows that there is nothing to be called evil if there is
nothing good. A good that wholly lacks an evil aspect is entirely good. Where there
is some evil in a thing, its good is defective or defectible. Thus there can be no evil
where there is no good. This leads us to a surprising conclusion: that, since every
being, in so far as it is a being, is good, if we then say that a defective thing is bad, it
would seem to mean that we are saying that what is evil is good, that only what is
good is ever evil and that there is no evil apart from something good. This is because
every actual entity is good [omnis natura bonum est.] Nothing evil exists in itself,
but only as an evil aspect of some actual entity. Therefore, there can be nothing evil
except something good. Absurd as this sounds, nevertheless the logical connections
of the argument compel us to it as inevitable. At the same time, we must take
warning lest we incur the prophetic judgment which reads: "Woe to those who call
evil good and good evil: who call darkness light and light darkness; who call the
bitter sweet and the sweet bitter."23 Moreover the Lord himself saith: "An evil man
brings forth evil out of the evil treasure of his heart."24 What, then, is an evil man
but an evil entity [natura mala], since man is an entity? Now, if a man is something
good because he is an entity, what, then, is a bad man except an evil good? When,
however, we distinguish between these two concepts, we find that the bad man is
not bad because he is a man, nor is he good because he is wicked. Rather, he is a
good entity in so far as he is a man, evil in so far as he is wicked. Therefore, if
anyone says that simply to be a man is evil, or that to be a wicked man is good, he
rightly falls under the prophetic judgment: "Woe to him who calls evil good and good
parasitic on the good. It has its origin, not in nature, but in the will. Cf. Confessions, Bk. VII, Chs.
III, V, XII-XVI; On Continence, 14-16; On the Gospel of John, Tractate XCVIII, 7; City of God, XI,
17; XII, 7-9.
23 Isa. 5:20.
24Matt. 12:35.
evil." For this amounts to finding fault with God's work, because man is an entity of
God's creation. It also means that we are praising the defects in this particular man
because he is a wicked person. Thus, every entity, even if it is a defective one, in so
far as it is an entity, is good. In so far as it is defective, it is evil.
14. Actually, then, in these two contraries we call evil and good, the rule of
the logicians fails to apply.25 No weather is both dark and bright at the same time;
no food or drink is both sweet and sour at the same time; no body is, at the same
time and place, both white and black, nor deformed and well-formed at the same
time. This principle is found to apply in almost all disjunctions: two contraries
cannot coexist in a single thing. Nevertheless, while no one maintains that good and
evil are not contraries, they can not only coexist, but the evil cannot exist at all
without the good, or in a thing that is not a good. On the other hand, the good can
exist without evil. For a man or an angel could exist and yet not be wicked, whereas
there cannot be wickedness except in a man or an angel. It is good to be a man, good
to be an angel; but evil to be wicked. These two contraries are thus coexistent, so
that if there were no good in what is evil, then the evil simply could not be, since it
can have no mode in which to exist, nor any source from which corruption springs,
unless it be something corruptible. Unless this something is good, it cannot be
corrupted, because corruption is nothing more than the deprivation of the good.
Evils, therefore, have their source in the good, and unless they are parasitic on
something good, they are not anything at all. There is no other source whence an
evil thing can come to be. If this is the case, then, in so far as a thing is an entity, it
is unquestionably good. If it is an incorruptible entity, it is a great good. But even if
it is a corruptible entity, it still has no mode of existence except as an aspect of
something that is good. Only by corrupting something good can corruption inflict
15. But when we say that evil has its source in the good, do not suppose that
this denies our Lord's judgment: "A good tree cannot bear evil fruit."26 This cannot
be, even as the Truth himself declareth: "Men do not gather grapes from thorns,"
since thorns cannot bear grapes. Nevertheless, from good soil we can see both vines
and thorns spring up. Likewise, just as a bad tree does not grow good fruit, so also
an evil will does not produce good deeds. From a human nature, which is good in
itself, there can spring forth either a good or an evil will. There was no other place
from whence evil could have arisen in the first place except from the nature--good in
itself--of an angel or a man. This is what our Lord himself most clearly shows in the
passage about the trees and the fruits, for he said: "Make the tree good and the
fruits will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruits will be bad."27 This is
warning enough that bad fruit cannot grow on a good tree nor good fruit on a bad
one. Yet from that same earth to which he was referring, both sorts of trees can


16. This being the case, when that verse of Maro's gives us pleasure,
"Happy is he who can understand the causes of things,"28
it still does not follow that our felicity depends upon our knowing the causes of the
great physical processes in the world, which are hidden in the secret maze of
25This refers to Aristotle's well-known principle of "the excluded middle."
26Matt. 7:18.
27Cf. Matt. 12:33.
28Virgil, Georgios, II, 490.
nature, "Whence earthquakes, whose force swells the sea to flood,
so that they burst their bounds and then subside again,"29
and other such things as this.
But we ought to know the causes of good and evil in things, at least as far as
men may do so in this life, filled as it is with errors and distress, in order to avoid
these errors and distresses. We must always aim at that true felicity wherein
misery does not distract, nor error mislead. If it is a good thing to understand the
causes of physical motion, there is nothing of greater concern in these matters
which we ought to understand than our own health. But when we are in ignorance
of such things, we seek out a physician, who has seen how the secrets of heaven and
earth still remain hidden from us, and what patience there must be in unknowing.
17. Although we should beware of error wherever possible, not only in great
matters but in small ones as well, it is impossible not to be ignorant of many things.
Yet it does not follow that one falls into error out of ignorance alone. If someone
thinks he knows what he does not know, if he approves as true what is actually
false, this then is error, in the proper sense of the term. Obviously, much depends
on the question involved in the error, for in one and the same question one naturally
prefers the instructed to the ignorant, the expert to the blunderer, and this with
good reason. In a complex issue, however, as when one man knows one thing and
another man knows something else, if the former knowledge is more useful and the
latter is less useful or even harmful, who in this latter case would not prefer
ignorance? There are some things, after all, that it is better not to know than to
know. Likewise, there is sometimes profit in error--but on a journey, not in
morals.30 This sort of thing happened to us once, when we mistook the way at a
crossroads and did not go by the place where an armed gang of Donatists lay in wait
to ambush us. We finally arrived at the place where we were going, but only by a
roundabout way, and upon learning of the ambush, we were glad to have erred and
gave thanks to God for our error. Who would doubt, in such a situation, that the
erring traveler is better off than the unerring brigand? This perhaps explains the
meaning of our finest poet, when he speaks for an unhappy lover:
"When I saw [her] I was undone, and fatal error swept me away,"31
for there is such a thing as a fortunate mistake which not only does no harm but
actually does some good.
But now for a more careful consideration of the truth in this business. To err
means nothing more than to judge as true what is in fact false, and as false what is
true. It means to be certain about the uncertain, uncertain about the certain,
whether it be certainly true or certainly false. This sort of error in the mind is
deforming and improper, since the fitting and proper thing would be to be able to
say, in speech or judgment: "Yes, yes. No, no."32 Actually, the wretched lives we lead
come partly from this: that sometimes if they are not to be entirely lost, error is
unavoidable. It is different in that higher life where Truth itself is the life of our
souls, where none deceives and none is deceived. In this life men deceive and are
deceived, and are actually worse off when they deceive by lying than when they are
deceived by believing lies. Yet our rational mind shrinks from falsehood, and
naturally avoids error as much as it can, so that even a deceiver is unwilling to be
29Ibid., 479.
30Sed in via pedum, non in via morum.
31Virgil, Eclogue, VIII, 42. The context of the passage is Damon's complaint over his faithless Nyssa; he is here remembering the first time he ever saw her--when he was twelve! Cf. Theocritus, II, 82.
32Cf. Matt. 5:37.
deceived by somebody else.33 For the liar thinks he does not deceive himself and
that he deceives only those who believe him. Indeed, he does not err in his lying, if
he himself knows what the truth is. But he is deceived in this, that he supposes that
his lie does no harm to himself, when actually every sin harms the one who commits
it more that it does the one who suffers it.


18. Here a most difficult and complex issue arises which I once dealt with in a
large book, in response to the urgent question whether it is ever the duty of a
righteous man to lie.34 Some go so far as to contend that in cases concerning the
worship of God or even the nature of God, it is sometimes a good and pious deed to
speak falsely. It seems to me, however, that every lie is a sin, albeit there is a great
difference depending on the intention and the topic of the lie. He does not sin as
much who lies in the attempt to be helpful as the man who lies as a part of a
deliberate wickedness. Nor does one who, by lying, sets a traveler on the wrong road
do as much harm as one who, by a deceitful lie, perverts the way of a life. Obviously,
no one should be adjudged a liar who speaks falsely what he sincerely supposes is
the truth, since in his case he does not deceive but rather is deceived. Likewise, a
man is not a liar, though he could be charged with rashness, when he incautiously
accepts as true what is false. On the other hand, however, that man is a liar in his
own conscience who speaks the truth supposing that it is a falsehood. For as far as
his soul is concerned, since he did not say what he believed, he did not tell the truth,
even though the truth did come out in what he said. Nor is a man to be cleared of
the charge of lying whose mouth unknowingly speaks the truth while his conscious
intention is to lie. If we do not consider the things spoken of, but only the intentions
of the one speaking, he is the better man who unknowingly speaks falsely--because
he judges his statement to be true--than the one who unknowingly speaks the truth
while in his heart he is attempting to deceive. For the first man does not have one
intention in his heart and another in his word, whereas the other, whatever be the
facts in his statement, still "has one thought locked in his heart, another ready on
his tongue,"35 which is the very essence of lying. But when we do consider the things
spoken of, it makes a great difference in what respect one is deceived or lies. To be
deceived is a lesser evil than to lie, as far as a man's intentions are concerned. But it
is far more tolerable that a man should lie about things not connected with religion
than for one to be deceived in matters where faith and knowledge are prerequisite
to the proper service of God. To illustrate what I mean by examples: If one man lies
by saying that a dead man is alive, and another man, being deceived, believes that
Christ will die again after some extended future period--would it not be
incomparably better to lie in the first case than to be deceived in the second? And
would it not be a lesser evil to lead someone into the former error than to be led by
someone into the latter?
19. In some things, then, we are deceived in great matters; in others, small.
In some of them no harm is done; in others, even good results. It is a great evil for a
33Cf. Confessions, Bk. X, Ch. XXIII.
34Ad consentium contra mendacium, CSEL (J. Zycha, ed.), Vol. 41, pp. 469-528; also Migne, PL, 40,
c. 517-548; English translation by H.B. Jaffee in Deferrari, St. Augustine: Treatises on Various
Subjects (The Fathers of the Church, New York, 1952), pp. 113-179. This had been written about a year earlier than the Enchiridion. Augustine had also written another treatise On Lying much earlier, c. 395; see De mendacio in CSEL (J. Zycha, ed.), Vol. 41, pp. 413-466; Migne, PL, 40, c. 487-
518; English translation by M.S. Muldowney in Deferrari, op. cit., pp. 47-109. This summary of his position here represents no change of view whatever on this question. 35Sallust, The War with Catiline, X, 6-7.
man to be deceived so as not to believe what would lead him to life eternal, or what
would lead to eternal death. But it is a small evil to be deceived by crediting a
falsehood as the truth in a matter where one brings on himself some temporal
setback which can then be turned to good use by being borne in faithful patience--as
for example, when someone judges a man to be good who is actually bad, and
consequently has to suffer evil on his account. Or, take the man who believes a bad
man to be good, yet suffers no harm at his hand. He is not badly deceived nor would
the prophetic condemnation fall on him: "Woe to those who call evil good." For we
should understand that this saying refers to the things in which men are evil and
not to the men themselves. Hence, he who calls adultery a good thing may be rightly
accused by the prophetic word. But if he calls a man good supposing him to be
chaste and not knowing that he is an adulterer, such a man is not deceived in his
doctrine of good and evil, but only as to the secrets of human conduct. He calls the
man good on the basis of what he supposed him to be, and this is undoubtedly a
good thing. Moreover, he calls adultery bad and chastity good. But he calls this
particular man good in ignorance of the fact that he is an adulterer and not chaste.
In similar fashion, if one escapes an injury through an error, as I mentioned before
happened to me on that journey, there is even something good that accrues to a man
through his mistakes. But when I say that in such a case a man may be deceived
without suffering harm therefrom, or even may gain some benefit thereby, I am not
saying that error is not a bad thing, nor that it is a positively good thing. I speak
only of the evil which did not happen or the good which did happen, through the
error, which was not caused by the error itself but which came out of it. Error, in
itself and by itself, whether a great error in great matters or a small error in small
affairs, is always a bad thing. For who, except in error, denies that it is bad to
approve the false as though it were the truth, or to disapprove the truth as though it
were falsehood, or to hold what is certain as if it were uncertain, or what is
uncertain as if it were certain? It is one thing to judge a man good who is actually
bad--this is an error. It is quite another thing not to suffer harm from something
evil if the wicked man whom we supposed to be good actually does nothing harmful
to us. It is one thing to suppose that this particular road is the right one when it is
not. It is quite another thing that, from this error--which is a bad thing--something
good actually turns out, such as being saved from the onslaught of wicked men.


20. I do not rightly know whether errors of this sort should be called sins--
when one thinks well of a wicked man, not knowing what his character really is, or
when, instead of our physical perception, similar perceptions occur which we
experience in the spirit (such as the illusion of the apostle Peter when he thought he
was seeing a vision but was actually being liberated from fetters and chains by the
angel36) Or in perceptual illusions when we think something is smooth which is
actually rough, or something sweet which is bitter, something fragrant which is
putrid, that a noise is thunder when it is actually a wagon passing by, when one
takes this man for that, or when two men look alike, as happens in the case of
twins--whence our poet speaks of "a pleasant error for parents"37--I say I do not
know whether these and other such errors should be called sins.
Nor am I at the moment trying to deal with that knottiest of questions which
baffled the most acute men of the Academy, whether a wise man ought ever to
affirm anything positively lest he be involved in the error of affirming as true what
may be false, since all questions, as they assert, are either mysterious [occulta] or
36Cf. Acts 12:9.
37Virgil, Aeneid, X, 392.
uncertain. On these points I wrote three books in the early stages of my conversion
because my further progress was being blocked by objections like this which stood at
the very threshold of my understanding.38 It was necessary to overcome the despair
of being unable to attain to truth, which is what their arguments seemed to lead one
to. Among them every error is deemed a sin, and this can be warded off only by a
systematic suspension of positive assent. Indeed they say it is an error if someone
believes in what is uncertain. For them, however, nothing is certain in human
experience, because of the deceitful likeness of falsehood to the truth, so that even if
what appears to be true turns out to be true indeed, they will still dispute it with
the most acute and even shameless arguments.
Among us, on the other hand, "the righteous man lives by faith."39 Now, if
you take away positive affirmation,40 you take away faith, for without positive
affirmation nothing is believed. And there are truths about things unseen, and
unless they are believed, we cannot attain to the happy life, which is nothing less
than life eternal. It is a question whether we ought to argue with those who profess
themselves ignorant not only about the eternity yet to come but also about their
present existence, for they [the Academics] even argue that they do not know what
they cannot help knowing. For no one can "not know" that he himself is alive. If he
is not alive, he cannot "not know" about it or anything else at all, because either to
know or to "not know" implies a living subject. But, in such a case, by not positively
affirming that they are alive, the skeptics ward off the appearance of error in
themselves, yet they do make errors simply by showing themselves alive; one cannot
err who is not alive. That we live is therefore not only true, but it is altogether
certain as well. And there are many things that are thus true and certain
concerning which, if we withhold positive assent, this ought not to be regarded as a
higher wisdom but actually a sort of dementia.
21. In those things which do not concern our attainment of the Kingdom of
God, it does not matter whether they are believed in or not, or whether they are
true or are supposed to be true or false. To err in such questions, to mistake one
thing for another, is not to be judged as a sin or, if it is, as a small and light one. In
sum, whatever kind or how much of an error these miscues may be, it does not
involve the way that leads to God, which is the faith of Christ which works through
love. This way of life was not abandoned in that error so dear to parents concerning
the twins.41 Nor did the apostle Peter deviate from this way when he thought he
saw a vision and so mistook one thing for something else. In his case, he did not
discover the actual situation until after the angel, by whom he was freed, had
departed from him. Nor did the patriarch Jacob deviate from this way when he
believed that his son, who was in fact alive, had been devoured by a wild beast. We
may err through false impressions of this kind, with our faith in God still safe, nor
do we thus leave the way that leads us to him. Nevertheless, such mistakes, even if
they are not sins, must still be listed among the evils of this life, which is so readily
subject to vanity that we judge the false for true, reject the true for the false, and
hold as uncertain what is actually certain. For even if these mistakes do not affect
that faith by which we move forward to affirm truth and eternal beatitude, yet they
are not unrelated to the misery in which we still exist. Actually, of course, we would
be deceived in nothing at all, either in our souls or our physical senses, if we were
already enjoying that true and perfected happiness.
22. Every lie, then, must be called a sin, because every man ought to speak
38This refers to one of the first of the Cassiciacum dialogues, Contra Academicos. The gist of
Augustine's refutation of skepticism is in III, 23ff. Throughout his whole career he continued to maintain this position: that certain knowledge begins with self-knowledge. Cf. Confessions, Bk. V, Ch. X, 19; see also City of God, XI, xxvii.
39Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17. 40A direct contrast between suspensus assenso--the watchword of the Academics--and assensio, the badge of Christian certitude. 41See above, VII, 90.
what is in his heart--not only when he himself knows the truth, but even when he
errs and is deceived, as a man may be. This is so whether it be true or is only
supposed to be true when it is not. But a man who lies says the opposite of what is
in his heart, with the deliberate intent to deceive. Now clearly, language, in its
proper function, was developed not as a means whereby men could deceive one
another, but as a medium through which a man could communicate his thought to
others. Wherefore to use language in order to deceive, and not as it was designed to
be used, is a sin.
Nor should we suppose that there is any such thing as a lie that is not a sin,
just because we suppose that we can sometimes help somebody by lying. For we
could also do this by stealing, as when a secret theft from a rich man who does not
feel the loss is openly given to a pauper who greatly appreciates the gain. Yet no one
would say that such a theft was not a sin. Or again, we could also "help" by
committing adultery, if someone appeared to be dying for love if we would not
consent to her desire and who, if she lived, might be purified by repentance. But it
cannot be denied that such an adultery would be a sin. If, then, we hold chastity in
such high regard, wherein has truth offended us so that although chastity must not
be violated by adultery, even for the sake of some other good, yet truth may be
violated by lying? That men have made progress toward the good, when they will
not lie save for the sake of human values, is not to be denied. But what is rightly
praised in such a forward step, and perhaps even rewarded, is their good will and
not their deceit. The deceit may be pardoned, but certainly ought not to be praised,
especially among the heirs of the New Covenant to whom it has been said, "Let your
speech be yes, yes; no, no: for what is more than this comes from evil."42 Yet because
of what this evil does, never ceasing to subvert this mortality of ours, even the joint
heirs of Christ themselves pray, "Forgive us our debts."43


23. With this much said, within the necessary brevity of this kind of treatise,
as to what we need to know about the causes of good and evil--enough to lead us in
the way toward the Kingdom, where there will be life without death, truth without
error, happiness without anxiety--we ought not to doubt in any way that the cause
of everything pertaining to our good is nothing other than the bountiful goodness of
God himself. The cause of evil is the defection of the will of a being who is mutably
good from the Good which is immutable. This happened first in the case of the
angels and, afterward, that of man.
24. This was the primal lapse of the rational creature, that is, his first
privation of the good. In train of this there crept in, even without his willing it,
ignorance of the right things to do and also an appetite for noxious things. And
these brought along with them, as their companions, error and misery. When these
two evils are felt to be imminent, the soul's motion in flight from them is called fear.
Moreover, as the soul's appetites are satisfied by things harmful or at least inane--
and as it fails to recognize the error of its ways--it falls victim to unwholesome
pleasures or may even be exhilarated by vain joys. From these tainted springs of
action--moved by the lash of appetite rather than a feeling of plenty--there flows out
every kind of misery which is now the lot of rational natures.
25. Yet such a nature, even in its evil state, could not lose its appetite for
blessedness. There are the evils that both men and angels have in common, for
whose wickedness God hath condemned them in simple justice. But man has a
unique penalty as well: he is also punished by the death of the body. God had indeed
threatened man with death as penalty if he should sin. He endowed him with
42Matt. 5:37.
43Matt. 6:12.
freedom of the will in order that he might rule him by rational command and deter
him by the threat of death. He even placed him in the happiness of paradise in a
sheltered nook of life [in umbra vitae] where, by being a good steward of
righteousness, he would rise to better things.
26. From this state, after he had sinned, man was banished, and through his
sin he subjected his descendants to the punishment of sin and damnation, for he
had radically corrupted them, in himself, by his sinning. As a consequence of this,
all those descended from him and his wife (who had prompted him to sin and who
was condemned along with him at the same time)--all those born through carnal
lust, on whom the same penalty is visited as for disobedience--all these entered into
the inheritance of original sin. Through this involvement they were led, through
divers errors and sufferings (along with the rebel angels, their corruptors and
possessors and companions), to that final stage of punishment without end. "Thus
by one man, sin entered into the world and death through sin; and thus death came
upon all men, since all men have sinned."44 By "the world" in this passage the
apostle is, of course, referring to the whole human race.
27. This, then, was the situation: the whole mass of the human race stood
condemned, lying ruined and wallowing in evil, being plunged from evil into evil
and, having joined causes with the angels who had sinned, it was paying the fully
deserved penalty for impious desertion. Certainly the anger of God rests, in full
justice, on the deeds that the wicked do freely in blind and unbridled lust; and it is
manifest in whatever penalties they are called on to suffer, both openly and secretly.
Yet the Creator's goodness does not cease to sustain life and vitality even in the evil
angels, for were this sustenance withdrawn, they would simply cease to exist. As for
mankind, although born of a corrupted and condemned stock, he still retains the
power to form and animate his seed, to direct his members in their temporal order,
to enliven his senses in their spatial relations, and to provide bodily nourishment.
For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.
And if he had willed that there should be no reformation in the case of men, as there
is none for the wicked angels, would it not have been just if the nature that deserted
God and, through the evil use of his powers, trampled and transgressed the precepts
of his Creator, which could have been easily kept--the same creature who stubbornly
turned away from His Light and violated the image of the Creator in himself, who
had in the evil use of his free will broken away from the wholesome discipline of
God's law--would it not have been just if such a being had been abandoned by God
wholly and forever and laid under the everlasting punishment which he deserved?
Clearly God would have done this if he were only just and not also merciful and if he
had not willed to show far more striking evidence of his mercy by pardoning some
who were unworthy of it.


28. While some of the angels deserted God in impious pride and were cast
into the lowest darkness from the brightness of their heavenly home, the remaining
number of the angels persevered in eternal bliss and holiness with God. For these
faithful angels were not descended from a single angel, lapsed and damned. Hence,
the original evil did not bind them in the fetters of inherited guilt, nor did it hand
the whole company over to a deserved punishment, as is the human lot. Instead,
when he who became the devil first rose in rebellion with his impious company and
was then with them prostrated, the rest of the angels stood fast in pious obedience
to the Lord and so received what the others had not had--a sure knowledge of their
everlasting security in his unfailing steadfastness.
44Rom. 5:12.
29. Thus it pleased God, Creator and Governor of the universe, that since the
whole multitude of the angels had not perished in this desertion of him, those who
had perished would remain forever in perdition, but those who had remained loyal
through the revolt should go on rejoicing in the certain knowledge of the bliss
forever theirs. From the other part of the rational creation--that is, mankind--
although it had perished as a whole through sins and punishments, both original
and personal, God had determined that a portion of it would be restored and would
fill up the loss which that diabolical disaster had caused in the angelic society. For
this is the promise to the saints at the resurrection, that they shall be equal to the
angels of God.45
Thus the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother and the commonwealth of God,
shall not be defrauded of her full quota of citizens, but perhaps will rule over an
even larger number. We know neither the number of holy men nor of the filthy
demons, whose places are to be filled by the sons of the holy mother, who seemed
barren in the earth, but whose sons will abide time without end in the peace the
demons lost. But the number of those citizens, whether those who now belong or
those who will in the future, is known to the mind of the Maker, "who calleth into
existence things which are not, as though they were,"46 and "ordereth all things in
measure and number and weight."47
30. But now, can that part of the human race to whom God hath promised
deliverance and a place in the eternal Kingdom be restored through the merits of
their own works? Of course not! For what good works could a lost soul do except as
he had been rescued from his lostness? Could he do this by the determination of his
free will? Of course not! For it was in the evil use of his free will that man destroyed
himself and his will at the same time. For as a man who kills himself is still alive
when he kills himself, but having killed himself is then no longer alive and cannot
resuscitate himself after he has destroyed his own life--so also sin which arises from
the action of the free will turns out to be victor over the will and the free will is
destroyed. "By whom a man is overcome, to this one he then is bound as slave."48
This is clearly the judgment of the apostle Peter. And since it is true, I ask you what
kind of liberty can one have who is bound as a slave except the liberty that loves to
He serves freely who freely does the will of his master. Accordingly he who is
slave to sin is free to sin. But thereafter he will not be free to do right unless he is
delivered from the bondage of sin and begins to be the servant of righteousness.
This, then, is true liberty: the joy that comes in doing what is right. At the same
time, it is also devoted service in obedience to righteous precept.
But how would a man, bound and sold, get back his liberty to do good, unless
he could regain it from Him whose voice saith, "If the Son shall make you free, then
you will be free indeed"49? But before this process begins in man, could anyone glory
in his good works as if they were acts of his free will, when he is not yet free to act
rightly? He could do this only if, puffed up in proud vanity, he were merely boasting.
This attitude is what the apostle was reproving when he said, "By grace you have
been saved by faith."50
31. And lest men should arrogate to themselves saving faith as their own
work and not understand it as a divine gift, the same apostle who says somewhere
else that he had "obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy"51 makes here an
additional comment: "And this is not of yourselves, rather it is a gift of God--not
45Cf. Luke 20:36.
46Rom. 4:17.
47Wis. 11:20.
48II Peter 2:19.
49John 8:36.
50Eph. 2:8.
51I Cor. 7:25.
because of works either, lest any man should boast."52 But then, lest it be supposed
that the faithful are lacking in good works, he added further, "For we are his
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath prepared
beforehand for us to walk in them."53
We are then truly free when God ordereth our lives, that is, formeth and
createth us not as men--this he hath already done--but also as good men, which he
is now doing by his grace, that we may indeed be new creatures in Christ Jesus.54
Accordingly, the prayer: "Create in me a clean heart, O God."55 This does not mean,
as far as the natural human heart is concerned, that God hath not already created
32. Once again, lest anyone glory, if not in his own works, at least in the
determination of his free will, as if some merit had originated from him and as if the
freedom to do good works had been bestowed on him as a kind of reward, let him
hear the same herald of grace, announcing: "For it is God who is at work in you both
to will and to do according to his good will."56 And, in another place: "It is not
therefore a matter of man's willing, or of his running, but of God's showing
mercy."57 Still, it is obvious that a man who is old enough to exercise his reason
cannot believe, hope, or love unless he wills it, nor could he run for the prize of his
high calling in God without a decision of his will. In what sense, therefore, is it "not
a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing mercy," unless it be that
"the will itself is prepared by the Lord," even as it is written?58 This saying,
therefore, that "it is not a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing
mercy," means that the action is from both, that is to say, from the will of man and
from the mercy of God. Thus we accept the dictum, "It is not a matter of human
willing or running but of God's showing mercy," as if it meant, "The will of man is
not sufficient by itself unless there is also the mercy of God." By the same token, the
mercy of God is not sufficient by itself unless there is also the will of man. But if we
say rightly that "it is not a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing
mercy," because the will of man alone is not enough, why, then, is not the contrary
rightly said, "It is not a matter of God's showing mercy but of a man's willing," since
the mercy of God by itself alone is not enough? Now, actually, no Christian would
dare to say, "It is not a matter of God's showing mercy but of man's willing," lest he
explicitly contradict the apostle. The conclusion remains, therefore, that this saying:
"Not man's willing or running but God's showing mercy," is to be understood to
mean that the whole process is credited to God, who both prepareth the will to
receive divine aid and aideth the will which has been thus prepared.59
52Eph. 2:8, 9.
53Eph. 2:10.
54Cf. Gal. 6:15; II Cor. 5:17.
55Ps. 51:10.
56Phil. 2:13.
57Rom. 9:16.
58Prov. 8:35 (LXX).
59From the days at Cassiciacum till the very end, Augustine toiled with the mystery of the primacy of God's grace and the reality of human freedom. Of two things he was unwaveringly sure, even though they involved him in a paradox and the appearance of confusion. The first is that God's grace is not only primary but also sufficient as the ground and source of human willing. And against the Pelagians and other detractors from grace, he did not hesitate to insist that grace is irresistible and inviolable. Cf. On Grace and Free Will, 99, 41-43; On the Predestination of the Saints, 19:10; On the Gift of Perseverance, 41; On the Soul and Its Origin, 16; and even the Enchiridion, XXIV, 97.
But he never drew from this deterministic emphasis the conclusion that man is unfree and
everywhere roundly rejects the not illogical corollary of his theonomism, that man's will counts for little or nothing except as passive agent of God's will. He insists on responsibility on man's part in
responding to the initiatives of grace. For this emphasis, which is characteristically directed to the faithful themselves, see On the Psalms, LXVIII, 7-8; On the Gospel of John, Tractate, 53:6-8; and For a man's good will comes before many other gifts from God, but not all of
them. One of the gifts it does not antedate is--just itself! Thus in the Sacred
Eloquence we read both, "His mercy goes before me,"60 and also, "His mercy shall
follow me."61 It predisposes a man before he wills, to prompt his willing. It follows
the act of willing, lest one's will be frustrated. Otherwise, why are we admonished to
pray for our enemies,62 who are plainly not now willing to live piously, unless it be
that God is even now at work in them and in their wills?63 Or again, why are we
admonished to ask in order to receive, unless it be that He who grants us what we
will is he through whom it comes to pass that we will? We pray for enemies,
therefore, that the mercy of God should go before them, as it goes before us; we pray
for ourselves that his mercy shall follow us.


33. Thus it was that the human race was bound in a just doom and all men
were children of wrath. Of this wrath it is written: "For all our days are wasted; we
are ruined in thy wrath; our years seem like a spider's web."64 Likewise Job spoke of
this wrath: "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble."65 And even the
Lord Jesus said of it: "He that believes in the Son has life everlasting, but he that
believes not does not have life. Instead, the wrath of God abides in him."66 He does
not say, "It will come," but, "It now abides." Indeed every man is born into this state.
Wherefore the apostle says, "For we too were by nature children of wrath even as
the others."67 Since men are in this state of wrath through original sin--a condition
made still graver and more pernicious as they compounded more and worse sins
with it--a Mediator was required; that is to say, a Reconciler who by offering a
unique sacrifice, of which all the sacrifices of the Law and the Prophets were
shadows, should allay that wrath. Thus the apostle says, "For if, when we were
enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, even more now being
reconciled by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him."68 However,
when God is said to be wrathful, this does not signify any such perturbation in him
as there is in the soul of a wrathful man. His verdict, which is always just, takes the
name "wrath" as a term borrowed from the language of human feelings. This, then,
is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord--that we are reconciled to God
through the Mediator and receive the Holy Spirit so that we may be changed from
enemies into sons, "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
34. It would take too long to say all that would be truly worthy of this
Mediator. Indeed, men cannot speak properly of such matters. For who can unfold
in cogent enough fashion this statement, that "the Word became flesh and dwelt
even his severest anti-Pelagian tracts: On Grace and Free Will, 6-8, 10, 31 and On Admonition and
Grace, 2-8.
60Ps. 58:11 (Vulgate).
61Ps. 23:6.
62Cf. Matt. 5:44.
63The theme that he had explored in Confessions, Bks. I-IX. See especially Bk. V, Chs. X, XIII; Bk.
VII, Ch. VIII; Bk. IX, Ch. I.
64Cf. Ps. 90:9.
65Job 14:1.
66John 3:36.
67Eph. 2:3.
68Rom. 5:9, 10.
69Rom. 8:14.
among us,"70 so that we should then believe in "the only Son of God the Father
Almighty, born of the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin." Yet it is indeed true that
the Word was made flesh, the flesh being assumed by the Divinity, not the Divinity
being changed into flesh. Of course, by the term "flesh" we ought here to understand
"man," an expression in which the part signifies the whole, just as it is said, "Since
by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified,"71 which is to say, no man shall
be justified. Yet certainly we must say that in that assumption nothing was lacking
that belongs to human nature.
But it was a nature entirely free from the bonds of all sin. It was not a nature
born of both sexes with fleshly desires, with the burden of sin, the guilt of which is
washed away in regeneration. Instead, it was the kind of nature that would be
fittingly born of a virgin, conceived by His mother's faith and not her fleshly desires.
Now if in his being born, her virginity had been destroyed, he would not then have
been born of a virgin. It would then be false (which is unthinkable) for the whole
Church to confess him "born of the Virgin Mary." This is the Church which,
imitating his mother, daily gives birth to his members yet remains virgin. Read, if
you please, my letter on the virginity of Saint Mary written to that illustrious man,
Volusianus, whom I name with honor and affection.72
35. Christ Jesus, Son of God, is thus both God and man. He was God before
all ages; he is man in this age of ours. He is God because he is the Word of God, for
"the Word was God."73 Yet he is man also, since in the unity of his Person a rational
soul and body is joined to the Word.
Accordingly, in so far as he is God, he and the Father are one. Yet in so far as
he is man, the Father is greater than he. Since he was God's only Son--not by grace
but by nature--to the end that he might indeed be the fullness of all grace, he was
also made Son of Man--and yet he was in the one nature as well as in the other, one
Christ. "For being in the form of God, he judged it not a violation to be what he was
by nature, the equal of God. Yet he emptied himself, taking on the form of a
servant,"74 yet neither losing nor diminishing the form of God.75 Thus he was made
less and remained equal, and both these in a unity as we said before. But he is one
of these because he is the Word; the other, because he was a man. As the Word, he
is the equal of the Father; as a man, he is less. He is the one Son of God, and at the
same time Son of Man; the one Son of Man, and at the same time God's Son. These
are not two sons of God, one God and the other man, but one Son of God--God
without origin, man with a definite origin--our Lord Jesus Christ.


36. In this the grace of God is supremely manifest, commended in grand and
visible fashion; for what had the human nature in the man Christ merited, that it,
and no other, should be assumed into the unity of the Person of the only Son of God?
What good will, what zealous strivings, what good works preceded this assumption
by which that particular man deserved to become one Person with God? Was he a
70John 1:14.
71Rom. 3:20.
72Epistle CXXXVII, written in 412 in reply to a list of queries sent to Augustine by the proconsul of Africa.
73John 1:1.
74Phil. 2:6, 7.
75These metaphors for contrasting the "two natures" of Jesus Christ were favorite figures of speech in Augustine's Christological thought. Cf. On the Gospel of John, Tractate 78; On the Trinity, I, 7; II,
2; IV, 19-20; VII, 3; New Testament Sermons, 76, 14.
man before the union, and was this singular grace given him as to one particularly
deserving before God? Of course not! For, from the moment he began to be a man,
that man began to be nothing other than God's Son, the only Son, and this because
the Word of God assuming him became flesh, yet still assuredly remained God. Just
as every man is a personal unity--that is, a unity of rational soul and flesh--so also
is Christ a personal unity: Word and man.
Why should there be such great glory to a human nature--and this
undoubtedly an act of grace, no merit preceding unless it be that those who consider
such a question faithfully and soberly might have here a clear manifestation of
God's great and sole grace, and this in order that they might understand how they
themselves are justified from their sins by the selfsame grace which made it so that
the man Christ had no power to sin? Thus indeed the angel hailed his mother when
announcing to her the future birth: "Hail," he said, "full of grace." And shortly
thereafter, "You have found favor with God."76 And this was said of her, that she
was full of grace, since she was to be mother of her Lord, indeed the Lord of all. Yet,
concerning Christ himself, when the Evangelist John said, "And the Word became
flesh and dwelt among us," he added, "and we beheld his glory, a glory as of the only
Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."77 When he said, "The Word was made
flesh," this means, "Full of grace." When he also said, "The glory of the only begotten
of the Father," this means, "Full of truth." Indeed it was Truth himself, God's only
begotten Son--and, again, this not by grace but by nature--who, by grace, assumed
human nature into such a personal unity that he himself became the Son of Man as
37. This same Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son our Lord, was born of the
Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Now obviously the Holy Spirit is God's gift, a gift
that is itself equal to the Giver; wherefore the Holy Spirit is God also, not inferior to
the Father and the Son. Now what does this mean, that Christ's birth in respect to
his human nature was of the Holy Spirit, save that this was itself also a work of
For when the Virgin asked of the angel the manner by which what he
announced would come to pass (since she had known no man), the angel answered:
"The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall
overshadow you; therefore the Holy One which shall be born of you shall be called
the Son of God."78 And when Joseph wished to put her away, suspecting adultery
(since he knew she was not pregnant by him), he received a similar answer from the
angel: "Do not fear to take Mary as your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of
the Holy Spirit"79--that is, "What you suspect is from another man is of the Holy


38. Are we, then, to say that the Holy Spirit is the Father of Christ's human
nature, so that as God the Father generated the Word, so the Holy Spirit generated
the human nature, and that from both natures Christ came to be one, Son of God
the Father as the Word, Son of the Holy Spirit as man? Do we suppose that the Holy
Spirit is his Father through begetting him of the Virgin Mary? Who would dare to
say such a thing? There is no need to show by argument how many absurd
consequences such a notion has, when it is so absurd in itself that no believer's ear
can bear to hear it. Actually, then, as we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God
76Luke 1:28-30.
77John 1:14.
78Luke 1:35.
79Matt. 1:20.
from God yet born as man of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, there is in each
nature (in both the divine and the human) the only Son of God the Father Almighty,
from whom proceeds the Holy Spirit.
How, then, do we say that Christ is born of the Holy Spirit, if the Holy Spirit
did not beget him? Is it because he made him? This might be, since through our
Lord Jesus Christ--in the form of God--all things were made. Yet in so far as he is
man, he himself was made, even as the apostle says: "He was made of the seed of
David according to the flesh."80 But since that creature which the Virgin conceived
and bore, though it was related to the Person of the Son alone, was made by the
whole Trinity--for the works of the Trinity are not separable--why is the Holy Spirit
named as the One who made it? Is it, perhaps, that when any One of the Three is
named in connection with some divine action, the whole Trinity is to be understood
as involved in that action? This is true and can be shown by examples, but we
should not dwell too long on this kind of solution.
For what still concerns us is how it can be said, "Born of the Holy Spirit,"
when he is in no wise the Son of the Holy Spirit? Now, just because God made [fecit]
this world, one could not say that the world is the son of God, or that it is "born" of
God. Rather, one says it was "made" or "created" or "founded" or "established" by
him, or however else one might like to speak of it. So, then, when we confess, "Born
of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary," the sense in which he is not the Son of the
Holy Spirit and yet is the son of the Virgin Mary, when he was born both of him and
of her, is difficult to explain. But there is no doubt as to the fact that he was not
born from him as Father as he was born of her as mother.
39. Consequently we should not grant that whatever is born of something
should therefore be called the son of that thing. Let us pass over the fact that a son
is "born" of a man in a different sense than a hair is, or a louse, or a maw worm--
none of these is a son. Let us pass over these things, since they are an unfitting
analogy in so great a matter. Yet it is certain that those who are born of water and
of the Holy Spirit would not properly be called sons of the water by anyone. But it
does make sense to call them sons of God the Father and of Mother Church. Thus,
therefore, the one born of the Holy Spirit is the son of God the Father, not of the
Holy Spirit.
What we said about the hair and the other things has this much relevance,
that it reminds us that not everything which is "born" of something is said to be
"son" to him from which it is "born." Likewise, it does not follow that those who are
called sons of someone are always said to have been born of him, since there are
some who are adopted. Even those who are called "sons of Gehenna" are not born of
it, but have been destined for it, just as the sons of the Kingdom are destined for
40. Wherefore, since a thing may be "born" of something else, yet not in the
fashion of a "son," and conversely, since not everyone who is called son is born of
him whose son he is called--this is the very mode in which Christ was "born" of the
Holy Spirit (yet not as a son), and of the Virgin Mary as a son--this suggests to us
the grace of God by which a certain human person, no merit whatever preceding, at
the very outset of his existence, was joined to the Word of God in such a unity of
person that the selfsame one who is Son of Man should be Son of God, and the one
who is Son of God should be Son of Man. Thus, in his assumption of human nature,
grace came to be natural to that nature, allowing no power to sin. This is why grace
is signified by the Holy Spirit, because he himself is so perfectly God that he is also
called God's Gift. Still, to speak adequately of this--even if one could--would call for
a very long discussion.
80Rom. 1:3.


41. Since he was begotten and conceived in no pleasure of carnal appetite--
and therefore bore no trace of original sin--he was, by the grace of God (operating in
a marvelous and an ineffable manner), joined and united in a personal unity with
the only-begotten Word of the Father, a Son not by grace but by nature. And
although he himself committed no sin, yet because of "the likeness of sinful flesh"81
in which he came, he was himself called sin and was made a sacrifice for the
washing away of sins.
Indeed, under the old law, sacrifices for sins were often called sins.82 Yet he
of whom those sacrifices were mere shadows was himself actually made sin. Thus,
when the apostle said, "For Christ's sake, we beseech you to be reconciled to God,"
he straightway added, "Him, who knew no sin, he made to be sin for us that we
might be made to be the righteousness of God in him."83 He does not say, as we read
in some defective copies, "He who knew no sin did sin for us," as if Christ himself
committed sin for our sake. Rather, he says, "He [Christ] who knew no sin, he [God]
made to be sin for us." The God to whom we are to be reconciled hath thus made
him the sacrifice for sin by which we may be reconciled.
He himself is therefore sin as we ourselves are righteousness--not our own
but God's, not in ourselves but in him. Just as he was sin--not his own but ours,
rooted not in himself but in us--so he showed forth through the likeness of sinful
flesh, in which he was crucified, that since sin was not in him he could then, so to
say, die to sin by dying in the flesh, which was "the likeness of sin." And since he
had never lived in the old manner of sinning, he might, in his resurrection, signify
the new life which is ours, which is springing to life anew from the old death in
which we had been dead to sin.
42. This is the meaning of the great sacrament of baptism, which is
celebrated among us. All who attain to this grace die thereby to sin--as he himself is
said to have died to sin because he died in the flesh, that is, "in the likeness of sin"--
and they are thereby alive by being reborn in the baptismal font, just as he rose
again from the sepulcher. This is the case no matter what the age of the body.
43. For whether it be a newborn infant or a decrepit old man--since no one
should be barred from baptism--just so, there is no one who does not die to sin in
baptism. Infants die to original sin only; adults, to all those sins which they have
added, through their evil living, to the burden they brought with them at birth.
44. But even these are frequently said to die to sin, when without doubt they
die not to one but to many sins, and to all the sins which they have themselves
already committed by thought, word, and deed. Actually, by the use of the singular
number the plural number is often signified, as the poet said,
"And they fill the belly with the armed warrior,"84
although they did this with many warriors. And in our own Scriptures we read:
"Pray therefore to the Lord that he may take from us the serpent."85 It does not say
"serpents," as it might, for they were suffering from many serpents. There are,
moreover, innumerable other such examples.
Yet, when the original sin is signified by the use of the plural number, as we
say when infants are baptized "unto the remission of sins," instead of saying "unto
81Rom. 8:3.
82Cf. Hos. 4:8.
83II Cor. 5:20, 21.
84Virgil, Aeneid, II, 1, 20.
85Num. 21:7 (LXX).
the remission of sin," then we have the converse expression in which the singular is
expressed by the plural number. Thus in the Gospel, it is said of Herod's death, "For
they are dead who sought the child's life"86; it does not say, "He is dead." And in
Exodus: "They made," [Moses] says, "to themselves gods of gold," when they had
made one calf. And of this calf, they said: "These are thy gods, O Israel, which
brought you out of the land of Egypt,"87 here also putting the plural for the singular.
45. Still, even in that one sin--which "entered into the world by one man and
so spread to all men,"88 and on account of which infants are baptized--one can
recognize a plurality of sins, if that single sin is divided, so to say, into its separate
elements. For there is pride in it, since man preferred to be under his own rule
rather than the rule of God; and sacrilege too, for man did not acknowledge God;
and murder, since he cast himself down to death; and spiritual fornication, for the
integrity of the human mind was corrupted by the seduction of the serpent; and
theft, since the forbidden fruit was snatched; and avarice, since he hungered for
more than should have sufficed for him--and whatever other sins that could be
discovered in the diligent analysis of that one sin.
46. It is also said--and not without support--that infants are involved in the
sins of their parents, not only of the first pair, but even of their own, of whom they
were born. Indeed, that divine judgment, "I shall visit the sins of the fathers on
their children,"89 definitely applies to them before they come into the New Covenant
by regeneration. This Covenant was foretold by Ezekiel when he said that the sons
should not bear their fathers' sins, nor the proverb any longer apply in Israel, "Our
fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge."90
This is why each one of them must be born again, so that he may thereby be
absolved of whatever sin was in him at the time of birth. For the sins committed by
evil-doing after birth can be healed by repentance--as, indeed, we see it happen even
after baptism. For the new birth [regeneratio] would not have been instituted except
for the fact that the first birth [generatio] was tainted--and to such a degree that one
born of even a lawful wedlock said, "I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my
mother nourish me in her womb."91 Nor did he say "in iniquity" or "in sin," as he
might have quite correctly; rather, he preferred to say "iniquities" and "sins,"
because, as I explained above, there are so many sins in that one sin--which has
passed into all men, and which was so great that human nature was changed and
by it brought under the necessity of death--and also because there are other sins,
such as those of parents, which, even if they cannot change our nature in the same
way, still involve the children in guilt, unless the gracious grace and mercy of God
47. But, in the matter of the sins of one's other parents, those who stand as
one's forebears from Adam down to one's own parents, a question might well be
raised: whether a man at birth is involved in the evil deeds of all his forebears, and
their multiplied original sins, so that the later in time he is born, the worse estate
he is born in; or whether, on this very account, God threatens to visit the sins of the
parents as far as--but no farther than--the third and fourth generations, because in
his mercy he will not continue his wrath beyond that. It is not his purpose that
those not given the grace of regeneration be crushed under too heavy a burden in
their eternal damnation, as they would be if they were bound to bear, as original
guilt, all the sins of their ancestors from the beginning of the human race, and to
pay the due penalty for them. Whether yet another solution to so difficult a problem
might or might not be found by a more diligent search and interpretation of Holy
Scripture, I dare not rashly affirm.
86Matt. 2:20.
87Ex. 32:4.
88Rom. 5:12.
89Deut. 5:9.
90Ezek. 18:2.
91Ps. 51:5.


48. That one sin, however, committed in a setting of such great happiness,
was itself so great that by it, in one man, the whole human race was originally and,
so to say, radically condemned. It cannot be pardoned and washed away except
through "the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,"92 who
alone could be born in such a way as not to need to be reborn.
49. They were not reborn, those who were baptized by John's baptism, by
which Christ himself was baptized.93 Rather, they were prepared by the ministry of
this forerunner, who said, "Prepare a way for the Lord,"94 for Him in whom alone
they could be reborn.
For his baptism is not with water alone, as John's was, but with the Holy
Spirit as well. Thus, whoever believes in Christ is reborn by that same Spirit, of
whom Christ also was born, needing not to be reborn. This is the reason for the
Voice of the Father spoken over him at his baptism, "Today have I begotten thee,"95
which pointed not to that particular day on which he was baptized, but to that "day"
of changeless eternity, in order to show us that this Man belonged to the personal
Unity of the Only Begotten. For a day that neither begins with the close of
yesterday nor ends with the beginning of tomorrow is indeed an eternal "today."
Therefore, he chose to be baptized in water by John, not thereby to wash
away any sin of his own, but to manifest his great humility. Indeed, baptism found
nothing in him to wash away, just as death found nothing to punish. Hence, it was
in authentic justice, and not by violent power, that the devil was overcome and
conquered: for, as he had most unjustly slain Him who was in no way deserving of
death, he also did most justly lose those whom he had justly held in bondage as
punishment for their sins. Wherefore, He took upon himself both baptism and
death, not out of a piteous necessity but through his own free act of showing mercy--
as part of a definite plan whereby One might take away the sin of the world, just as
one man had brought sin into the world, that is, the whole human race.
50. There is a difference, however. The first man brought sin into the world,
whereas this One took away not only that one sin but also all the others which he
found added to it. Hence, the apostle says, "And the gift [of grace] is not like the
effect of the one that sinned: for the judgment on that one trespass was
condemnation; but the gift of grace is for many offenses, and brings justification."96
Now it is clear that the one sin originally inherited, even if it were the only one
involved, makes men liable to condemnation. Yet grace justifies a man for many
offenses, both the sin which he originally inherited in common with all the others
and also the multitude of sins which he has committed on his own.
51. However, when he [the apostle] says, shortly after, "Therefore, as the
offense of one man led all men to condemnation, so also the righteousness of one
man leads all men to the life of justification,"97 he indicates sufficiently that
everyone born of Adam is subject to damnation, and no one, unless reborn of Christ,
is free from such a damnation.
52. And after this discussion of punishment through one man and grace
through the Other, as he deemed sufficient for that part of the epistle, the apostle
92I Tim. 2:5.
93Matt. 3:13.
94Luke 3:4; Isa. 40:3.
95Ps. 2:7; Heb. 5:5; cf. Mark 1:9-11.
96Rom. 5:16.
97Rom. 5:18.
passes on to speak of the great mystery of holy baptism in the cross of Christ, and to
do this so that we may understand nothing other in the baptism of Christ than the
likeness of the death of Christ. The death of Christ crucified is nothing other than
the likeness of the forgiveness of sins--so that in the very same sense in which the
death is real, so also is the forgiveness of our sins real, and in the same sense in
which his resurrection is real, so also in us is there authentic justification.
He asks: "What, then, shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may
abound?"98--for he had previously said, "But where sin abounded, grace did much
more abound."99 And therefore he himself raised the question whether, because of
the abundance of grace that follows sin, one should then continue in sin. But he
answers, "God forbid!" and adds, "How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer
therein?"100 Then, to show that we are dead to sin, "Do you not know that all we
who were baptized in Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?"101
If, therefore, the fact that we are baptized into the death of Christ shows that
we are dead to sin, then certainly infants who are baptized in Christ die to sin, since
they are baptized into his own death. For there is no exception in the saying, "All we
who are baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into his death." And the effect of
this is to show that we are dead to sin.
Yet what sin do infants die to in being reborn except that which they inherit
in being born? What follows in the epistle also pertains to this: "Therefore we were
buried with him by baptism into death; that, as Christ was raised up from the dead
by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. For if
we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also united
with him in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old man is
crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we
should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we are dead with
Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ, being
raised from the dead, dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. For the
death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives unto God. So
also, reckon yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive unto God through Christ
Now, he had set out to prove that we should not go on sinning, in order that
thereby grace might abound, and had said, "If we have died to sin, how, then, shall
we go on living in it?" And then to show that we were dead to sin, he had added,
"Know you not, that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized
into his death?" Thus he concludes the passage as he began it. Indeed, he introduced
the death of Christ in order to say that even he died to sin. To what sin, save that of
the flesh in which he existed, not as sinner, but in "the likeness of sin" and which
was, therefore, called by the name of sin? Thus, to those baptized into the death of
Christ--into which not only adults but infants as well are baptized--he says, "So also
you should reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
53. Whatever was done, therefore, in the crucifixion of Christ, his burial, his
resurrection on the third day, his ascension into heaven, his being seated at the
Father's right hand--all these things were done thus, that they might not only
signify their mystical meanings but also serve as a model for the Christian life
which we lead here on the earth. Thus, of his crucifixion it was said, "And they that
are Jesus Christ's have crucified their own flesh, with the passions and lusts
thereof"103; and of his burial, "For we are buried with Christ by baptism into death";
of his resurrection, "Since Christ is raised from the dead through the glory of the
Father, so we also should walk with him in newness of life"; of his ascension and
98Rom. 6:1.
99Rom. 5:20.
100Rom. 6:2.
101Rom. 6:3.
102Rom. 6:4-11.
103Gal. 5:24.
session at the Father's right hand: "But if you have risen again with Christ, seek
the things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set
your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and
your life is hid with Christ in God."104
54. Now what we believe concerning Christ's future actions, since we confess
that he will come again from heaven to judge the living and the dead, does not
pertain to this life of ours as we live it here on earth, because it belongs not to his
deeds already done, but to what he will do at the close of the age. To this the apostle
refers and goes on to add, "When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, you shall
then also appear with him in glory."105
55. There are two ways to interpret the affirmation that he "shall judge the
living and the dead." On the one hand, we may understand by "the living" those who
are not yet dead but who will be found living in the flesh when he comes; and we
may understand by "the dead" those who have left the body, or who shall have left it
before his coming. Or, on the other hand, "the living" may signify "the righteous,"
and "the dead" may signify "the unrighteous"--since the righteous are to be judged
as well as the unrighteous. For sometimes the judgment of God is passed upon the
evil, as in the word, "But they who have done evil [shall come forth] to the
resurrection of judgment."106 And sometimes it is passed upon the good, as in the
word, "Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me in thy strength."107 Indeed, it is
by the judgment of God that the distinction between good and evil is made, to the
end that, being freed from evil and not destroyed with the evildoers, the good may
be set apart at his right hand.108 This is why the psalmist cried, "Judge me, O God,"
and, as if to explain what he had said, "and defend my cause against an unholy


56. Now, when we have spoken of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God our Lord,
in the brevity befitting our confession of faith, we go on to affirm that we believe
also in the Holy Spirit, as completing the Trinity which is God; and after that we
call to mind our faith "in holy Church." By this we are given to understand that the
rational creation belonging to the free Jerusalem ought to be mentioned in a
subordinate order to the Creator, that is, the supreme Trinity. For, of course, all
that has been said about the man Christ Jesus refers to the unity of the Person of
the Only Begotten.
Thus, the right order of the Creed demanded110 that the Church be made
subordinate to the Trinity, as a house is subordinate to him who dwells in it, the
temple to God, and the city to its founder. By the Church here we are to understand
the whole Church, not just the part that journeys here on earth from rising of the
sun to its setting, praising the name of the Lord111 and singing a new song of
deliverance from its old captivity, but also that part which, in heaven, has always,
from creation, held fast to God, and which never experienced the evils of a fall. This
part, composed of the holy angels, remains in blessedness, and it gives help, even as
104Col. 3:1-3.
105Col. 3:4.
106John 5:29.
107Ps. 54:1.
108Cf. Matt. 25:32, 33.
109Ps. 43:1.
110Reading the classical Latin form poscebat (as in Scheel and PL) for the late form poxebat (as in Riviere and many old MSS.).
111Cf. Ps. 113:3.
it ought, to the other part still on pilgrimage. For both parts together will make one
eternal consort, as even now they are one in the bond of love--the whole instituted
for the proper worship of the one God.112 Wherefore, neither the whole Church nor
any part of it wishes to be worshiped as God nor to be God to anyone belonging to
the temple of God--the temple that is being built up of "the gods" whom the
uncreated God created.113 Consequently, if the Holy Spirit were creature and not
Creator, he would obviously be a rational creature, for this is the highest of the
levels of creation. But in this case he would not be set in the rule of faith before the
Church, since he would then belong to the Church, in that part of it which is in
heaven. He would not have a temple, for he himself would be a temple. Yet, in fact,
he hath a temple of which the apostle speaks, "Know you not that your body is the
temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God?"114 In another
place, he says of this body, "Know you not that your bodies are members of
Christ?"115 How, then, is he not God who has a temple? Or how can he be less than
Christ whose members are his temple? It is not that he has one temple and God
another temple, since the same apostle says: "Know you not that you are the temple
of God," and then, as if to prove his point, added, "and that the Spirit of God
dwelleth in you?"
God therefore dwelleth in his temple, not the Holy Spirit only, but also
Father and Son, who saith of his body--in which he standeth as Head of the Church
on earth "that in all things he may be pre-eminent"116--"Destroy this temple and in
three days I will raise it up again."117 Therefore, the temple of God---that is, of the
supreme Trinity as a whole--is holy Church, the Universal Church in heaven and on
the earth.
57. But what can we affirm about that part of the Church in heaven, save
that in it no evil is to be found, nor any apostates, nor will there be again, since that
time when "God did not spare the sinning angels"--as the apostle Peter writes--"but
casting them out, he delivered them into the prisons of darkness in hell, to be
reserved for the sentence in the Day of Judgment"118?
58. Still, how is life ordered in that most blessed and supernal society? What
differences are there in rank among the angels, so that while all are called by the
general title "angels"--as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "But to which of the
angels said he at any time, 'Sit at my right hand'?"119; this expression clearly
signifies that all are angels without exception--yet there are archangels there as
well? Again, should these archangels be called "powers" [virtutes], so that the verse,
"Praise him all his angels; praise him, all his powers,"120 would mean the same
thing as, "Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his archangels"? Or, what
distinctions are implied by the four designations by which the apostle seems to
encompass the entire heavenly society, "Be they thrones or dominions,
principalities, or powers"121? Let them answer these questions who can, if they can
indeed prove their answers. For myself, I confess to ignorance of such matters. I am
not even certain about another question: whether the sun and moon and all the
stars belong to that same heavenly society--although they seem to be nothing more
112Here reading unum deum (with Rivière and PL) against deum (in Scheel).
113A hyperbolic expression referring to "the saints." Augustine's Scriptural backing for such an unusual phrase is Ps. 82:6 and John 10:34f. But note the firm distinction between ex diis quos facit
and non factus Deus.
114I Cor. 6:19.
115I Cor. 6:15.
116Col. 1:18.
117John 2:19.
118II Peter 2:4 (Old Latin).
119Heb. 1:13.
120Ps. 148:2 (LXX).
121Co1. 1:16.
than luminous bodies, with neither perception nor understanding.
59. Furthermore, who can explain the kind of bodies in which the angels
appeared to men, so that they were not only visible, but tangible as well? And,
again, how do they, not by impact of physical stimulus but by spiritual force, bring
certain visions, not to the physical eyes but to the spiritual eyes of the mind, or
speak something, not to the ears, as from outside us, but actually from within the
human soul, since they are present within it too? For, as it is written in the book of
the Prophets: "And the angel that spoke in me, said to me..."122 He does not say,
"Spoke to me" but "Spoke in me." How do they appear to men in sleep, and
communicate through dreams, as we read in the Gospel: "Behold, the angel of the
Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying..."123? By these various modes of
presentation, the angels seem to indicate that they do not have tangible bodies. Yet
this raises a very difficult question: How, then, did the patriarchs wash the angels'
feet?124 How, also, did Jacob wrestle with the angel in such a tangible fashion?125
To ask such questions as these, and to guess at the answers as one can, is not
a useless exercise in speculation, so long as the discussion is moderate and one
avoids the mistake of those who think they know what they do not know.


60. It is more important to be able to discern and tell when Satan transforms
himself as an angel of light, lest by this deception he should seduce us into harmful
acts. For, when he deceives the corporeal senses, and does not thereby turn the
mind from that true and right judgment by which one leads the life of faith, there is
no danger to religion. Or if, feigning himself to be good, he does or says things that
would fit the character of the good angels, even if then we believe him good, the
error is neither dangerous nor fatal to the Christian faith. But when, by these alien
wiles, he begins to lead us into his own ways, then great vigilance is required to
recognize him and not follow after. But how few men are there who are able to avoid
his deadly stratagems, unless God guides and preserves them! Yet the very
difficulty of this business is useful in this respect: it shows that no man should rest
his hopes in himself, nor one man in another, but all who are God's should cast their
hopes on him. And that this latter is obviously the best course for us no pious man
would deny.
61. This part of the Church, therefore, which is composed of the holy angels
and powers of God will become known to us as it really is only when, at the end of
the age, we are joined to it, to possess, together with it, eternal bliss. But the other
part which, separated from this heavenly company, wanders through the earth is
better known to us because we are in it, and because it is composed of men like
ourselves. This is the part that has been redeemed from all sin by the blood of the
sinless Mediator, and its cry is: "If God be for us, who is against us? He that spared
not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all...."126 Now Christ did not die for the
angels. But still, what was done for man by his death for man's redemption and his
deliverance from evil was done for the angels also, because by it the enmity caused
by sin between men and the angels is removed and friendship restored. Moreover,
this redemption of mankind serves to repair the ruins left by the angelic apostasy.
62. Of course, the holy angels, taught by God--in the eternal contemplation of
122Zech. 1:9.
123Matt. 1:20.
124Gen. 18:4; 19:2.
125Gen. 32:24.
126Rom. 8:31, 32.
whose truth they are blessed--know how many of the human race are required to fill
up the full census of that commonwealth. This is why the apostle says "that all
things are restored to unity in Christ, both those in heaven and those on the earth
in him."127 The part in heaven is indeed restored when the number lost from the
angelic apostasy are replaced from the ranks of mankind. The part on earth is
restored when those men predestined to eternal life are redeemed from the old state
of corruption.
Thus by the single sacrifice, of which the many victims of the law were only
shadows, the heavenly part is set at peace with the earthly part and the earthly
reconciled to the heavenly. Wherefore, as the same apostle says: "For it pleased God
that all plenitude of being should dwell in him and by him to reconcile all things to
himself, making peace with them by the blood of his cross, whether those things on
earth or those in heaven."128
63. This peace, as it is written, "passes all understanding." It cannot be
known by us until we have entered into it. For how is the heavenly realm set at
peace, save together with us; that is, by concord with us? For in that realm there is
always peace, both among the whole company of rational creatures and between
them and their Creator. This is the peace that, as it is said, "passes all
understanding." But obviously this means our understanding, not that of those who
always see the Father's face. For no matter how great our understanding may be,
"we know in part, and we see in a glass darkly."129 But when we shall have become
"equal to God's angels,"130 then, even as they do, "we shall see face to face."131 And
we shall then have as great amity toward them as they have toward us; for we shall
come to love them as much as we are loved by them.
In this way their peace will become known to us, since ours will be like theirs
in kind and measure--nor will it then surpass our understanding. But the peace of
God, which is there, will still doubtless surpass our understanding and theirs as
well. For, of course, in so far as a rational creature is blessed, this blessedness
comes, not from himself, but from God. Hence, it follows that it is better to interpret
the passage, "The peace of God which passes all understanding," so that from the
word "all" not even the understanding of the holy angels should be excepted. Only
God's understanding is excepted; for, of course, his peace does not surpass his own


64. The angels are in concord with us even now, when our sins are forgiven.
Therefore, in the order of the Creed, after the reference to "holy Church" is placed
the reference to "forgiveness of sins." For it is by this that the part of the Church on
earth stands; it is by this that "what was lost and is found again"132 is not lost
again. Of course, the gift of baptism is an exception. It is an antidote given us
against original sin, so that what is contracted by birth is removed by the new birth-
-though it also takes away actual sins as well, whether of heart, word, or deed. But
except for this great remission--the beginning point of a man's renewal, in which all
guilt, inherited and acquired, is washed away--the rest of life, from the age of
accountability (and no matter how vigorously we progress in righteousness), is not
without the need for the forgiveness of sins. This is the case because the sons of
127Cf. Eph. 1:10.
128Col. 1:19, 20.
129Cf. I Cor. 13:9, 12
130Cf. Luke 20:36.
131I Cor. 13:12.
132Cf. Luke 15:24.
God, as long as they live this mortal life, are in a 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,"133 yet even as they are being led by the Spirit of God and, as sons of God,
advance toward God, they are also being led by their own spirits so that, weighed
down by the corruptible body and influenced by certain human feelings, they thus
fall away from themselves and commit sin. But it matters how much. Although
every crime is a sin, not every sin is a crime. Thus we can say of the life of holy men
even while they live in this mortality, that they are found without crime. "But if we
say that we have no sin," as the great apostle says, "we deceive even ourselves, and
the truth is not in us."134
65. Nevertheless, no matter how great our crimes, their forgiveness should
never be despaired of in holy Church for those who truly repent, each according to
the measure of his sin. And, in the act of repentance,135 where a crime has been
committed of such gravity as also to cut off the sinner from the body of Christ, we
should not consider the measure of time as much as the measure of sorrow. For, "a
contrite and humbled heart God will not despise."136
Still, since the sorrow of one heart is mostly hid from another, and does not
come to notice through words and other such signs--even when it is plain to Him of
whom it is said, "My groaning is not hid from thee"137--times of repentance have
been rightly established by those set over the churches, that satisfaction may also
be made in the Church, in which the sins are forgiven. For, of course, outside her
they are not forgiven. For she alone has received the pledge of the Holy Spirit,138
without whom there is no forgiveness of sins. Those forgiven thus obtain life
66. Now the remission of sins has chiefly to do with the future judgment. In
this life the Scripture saying holds true: "A heavy yoke is on the sons of Adam, from
the day they come forth from their mother's womb till the day of their burial in the
mother of us all."139 Thus we see even infants, after the washing of regeneration,
tortured by divers evil afflictions. This helps us to understand that the whole import
of the sacraments of salvation has to do more with the hope of future goods than
with the retaining or attaining of present goods.
Indeed, many sins seem to be ignored and go unpunished; but their
punishment is reserved for the future. It is not in vain that the day when the Judge
of the living and the dead shall come is rightly called the Day of Judgment. Just so,
on the other hand, some sins are punished here, and, if they are forgiven, will
certainly bring no harm upon us in the future age. Hence, referring to certain
temporal punishments, which are visited upon sinners in this life, the apostle,
speaking to those whose sins are blotted out and not reserved to the end, says: "For
if we judge ourselves truly we should not be judged by the Lord. But when we are
judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we may not be condemned along with this
133Rom. 8:14.
134I John 1:8.
135In actione poenitentiae; cf. Luther's similar conception of poenitentiam agite in the 95 Theses and in De poenitentia.
136Ps. 51:17.
137Ps. 38:9.
138II Cor. 1:22.
139Ecclus. 40:1 (Vulgate).
140I Cor. 11:31, 32.


67. There are some, indeed, who believe that those who do not abandon the
name of Christ, and who are baptized in his laver in the Church, who are not cut off
from it by schism or heresy, who may then live in sins however great, not washing
them away by repentance, nor redeeming them by alms--and who obstinately
persevere in them to life's last day--even these will still be saved, "though as by
fire." They believe that such people will be punished by fire, prolonged in proportion
to their sins, but still not eternal.
But those who believe thus, and still are Catholics, are deceived, as it seems
to me, by a kind of merely human benevolence. For the divine Scripture, when
consulted, answers differently. Moreover, I have written a book about this question,
entitled Faith and Works,142 in which, with God's help, I have shown as best I could
that, according to Holy Scripture, the faith that saves is the faith that the apostle
Paul adequately describes when he says, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision
avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but the faith which works through love."143
But if faith works evil and not good, then without doubt, according to the apostle
James "it is dead in itself."144 He then goes on to say, "If a man says he has faith,
yet has not works, can his faith be enough to save him?"145
Now, if the wicked man were to be saved by fire on account of his faith only,
and if this is the way the statement of the blessed Paul should be understood--"But
he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire"146--then faith without works would be
sufficient to salvation. But then what the apostle James said would be false. And
also false would be another statement of the same Paul himself: "Do not err," he
says; "neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the unmanly, nor
homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God."147 Now, if those who persist in such
crimes as these are nevertheless saved by their faith in Christ, would they not then
be in the Kingdom of God?
68. But, since these fully plain and most pertinent apostolic testimonies
cannot be false, that one obscure saying about those who build on "the foundation,
which is Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay, and stubble"148-
-for it is about these it is said that they will be saved as by fire, not perishing on
account of the saving worth of their foundation--such a statement must be
141This chapter supplies an important clue to the date of the Enchiridion and an interesting side light on Augustine's inclination to re-use "good material." In his treatise on The Eight Questions of Dulcitius (De octo Dulcitii quaestionibus), 1: 10-13, Augustine quotes this entire chapter as a part of his answer to the question whether those who sin after baptism are ever delivered from hell. The date of the De octo is 422 or, possibly, 423; thus we have a terminus ad quem for the date of the Enchiridion. Still the best text of De octo is Migne, PL, 40, c. 147-170, and the best English translation is in Deferrari, St. Augustine: Treatises on Various Subjects (The Fathers of the Church,
New York, 1952), pp. 427-466.
142A short treatise, written in 413, in which Augustine seeks to combine the Pauline and Jacobite emphases by analyzing what kind of faith and what kind of works are both essential to salvation.
The best text is that of Joseph Zycha in CSEL, Vol. 41, pp. 35-97; but see also Migne, PL, 40, c. 197-
230. There is an English translation by C.L. Cornish in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic
Church; Seventeen Short Treatises, pp. 37-84.
143Gal. 5:6.
144James 2:17.
145James 2:14.
146I Cor. 3:15.
147I Cor. 6:9, 10.
148I Cor. 3:11, 12.
interpreted so that it does not contradict these fully plain testimonies.
In fact, wood and hay and stubble may be understood, without absurdity, to
signify such an attachment to those worldly things--albeit legitimate in themselves--
that one cannot suffer their loss without anguish in the soul. Now, when such
anguish "burns," and Christ still holds his place as foundation in the heart--that is,
if nothing is preferred to him and if the man whose anguish "burns" would still
prefer to suffer loss of the things he greatly loves than to lose Christ--then one is
saved, "by fire." But if, in time of testing, he should prefer to hold onto these
temporal and worldly goods rather than to Christ, he does not have him as
foundation--because he has put "things" in the first place--whereas in a building
nothing comes before the foundations.
Now, this fire, of which the apostle speaks, should be understood as one
through which both kinds of men must pass: that is, the man who builds with gold,
silver, and precious stones on this foundation and also the man who builds with
wood, hay, and stubble. For, when he had spoken of this, he added: "The fire shall
try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abides which he has built
thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burns up, he shall suffer
loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."149 Therefore the fire will test
the work, not only of the one, but of both.
The fire is a sort of trial of affliction, concerning which it is clearly written
elsewhere: "The furnace tries the potter's vessels and the trial of affliction tests
righteous men."150 This kind of fire works in the span of this life, just as the apostle
said, as it affects the two different kinds of faithful men. There is, for example, the
man who "thinks of the things of God, how he may please God." Such a man builds
on Christ the foundation, with gold, silver, and precious stones. The other man
"thinks about the things of the world, how he may please his wife"151; that is, he
builds upon the same foundation with wood, hay, and stubble. The work of the
former is not burned up, since he has not loved those things whose loss brings
anguish. But the work of the latter is burned up, since things are not lost without
anguish when they have been loved with a possessive love. But because, in this
second situation, he prefers to suffer the loss of these things rather than losing
Christ, and does not desert Christ from fear of losing such things--even though he
may grieve over his loss--"he is saved," indeed, "yet so as by fire." He "burns" with
grief, for the things he has loved and lost, but this does not subvert nor consume
him, secured as he is by the stability and the indestructibility of his foundation.
69. It is not incredible that something like this should occur after this life,
whether or not it is a matter for fruitful inquiry. It may be discovered or remain
hidden whether some of the faithful are sooner or later to be saved by a sort of
purgatorial fire, in proportion as they have loved the goods that perish, and in
proportion to their attachment to them. However, this does not apply to those of
whom it was said, "They shall not possess the Kingdom of God,"152 unless their
crimes are remitted through due repentance. I say "due repentance" to signify that
they must not be barren of almsgiving, on which divine Scripture lays so much
stress that our Lord tells us in advance that, on the bare basis of fruitfulness in
alms, he will impute merit to those on his right hand; and, on the same basis of
unfruitfulness, demerit to those on his left--when he shall say to the former, "Come,
blessed of my Father, receive the Kingdom," but to the latter, "Depart into
everlasting fire."153
149I Cor. 3:11-15.
150Ecclus. 27:5.
151Cf. I Cor. 7:32, 33
152See above, XVIII, 67.
153Matt. 25:34, 41.


70. We must beware, however, lest anyone suppose that unspeakable crimes
such as they commit who "will not possess the Kingdom of God" can be perpetrated
daily and then daily redeemed by almsgiving. Of course, life must be changed for
the better, and alms should be offered as propitiation to God for our past sins. But
he is not somehow to be bought off, as if we always had a license to commit crimes
with impunity. For, "he has given no man a license to sin"154--although, in his
mercy, he does blot out sins already committed, if due satisfaction for them is not
71. For the passing and trivial sins of every day, from which no life is free,
the everyday prayer of the faithful makes satisfaction. For they can say, "Our
Father who art in heaven," who have already been reborn to such a Father "by
water and the Spirit."155 This prayer completely blots out our minor and everyday
sins. It also blots out those sins which once made the life of the faithful wicked, but
from which, now that they have changed for the better by repentance, they have
departed. The condition of this is that just as they truly say, "Forgive us our debts"
(since there is no lack of debts to be forgiven), so also they truly say, "As we forgive
our debtors"156; that is, if what is said is also done. For to forgive a man who seeks
forgiveness is indeed to give alms.
72. Accordingly, what our Lord says--"Give alms and, behold, all things are
clean to you"157--applies to all useful acts of mercy. Therefore, not only the man who
gives food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to
the wayfarer, refuge to the fugitive; who visits the sick and the prisoner, redeems
the captive, bears the burdens of the weak, leads the blind, comforts the sorrowful,
heals the sick, shows the errant the right way, gives advice to the perplexed, and
does whatever is needful for the needy158--not only does this man give alms, but the
man who forgives the trespasser also gives alms as well. He is also a giver of alms
who, by blows or other discipline, corrects and restrains those under his command,
if at the same time he forgives from the heart the sin by which he has been wronged
or offended, or prays that it be forgiven the offender. Such a man gives alms, not
only in that he forgives and prays, but also in that he rebukes and administers
corrective punishment, since in this he shows mercy.
Now, many benefits are bestowed on the unwilling, when their interests and
not their preferences are consulted. And men frequently are found to be their own
enemies, while those they suppose to be their enemies are their true friends. And
then, by mistake, they return evil for good, when a Christian ought not to return
evil even for evil. Thus, there are many kinds of alms, by which, when we do them,
we are helped in obtaining forgiveness of our own sins.
73. But none of these alms is greater than the forgiveness from the heart of a
sin committed against us by someone else. It is a smaller thing to wish well or even
to do well to one who has done you no evil. It is far greater--a sort of magnificent
goodness--to love your enemy, and always to wish him well and, as you can, do well
to him who wishes you ill and who does you harm when he can. Thus one heeds
God's command: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for
them that persecute you."159
154Ecclus. 15:20.
155John 3:5.
156Matt. 6:9-12.
157Cf. Luke 11 :41.
158This is a close approximation of the medieval lists of "The Seven Works of Mercy." Cf. J.T.
McNeill, A History of the Cure of Souls, pp. 155, 161. (Harper & Brothers, 1951, New York.)
159Matt. 5:44.
Such counsels are for the perfect sons of God. And although all the faithful
should strive toward them and through prayer to God and earnest endeavor bring
their souls up to this level, still so high a degree of goodness is not possible for so
great a multitude as we believe are heard when, in prayer, they say, "Forgive us our
debts, as we forgive our debtors." Accordingly, it cannot be doubted that the terms of
this pledge are fulfilled if a man, not yet so perfect that he already loves his
enemies, still forgives from the heart one who has sinned against him and who now
asks his forgiveness. For he surely seeks forgiveness when he asks for it when he
prays, saying, "As we forgive our debtors." For this means, "Forgive us our debts
when we ask for forgiveness, as we also forgive our debtors when they ask for
74. Again, if one seeks forgiveness from a man against whom he sinned--
moved by his sin to seek it--he should no longer be regarded as an enemy, and it
should not now be as difficult to love him as it was when he was actively hostile.
Now, a man who does not forgive from the heart one who asks forgiveness
and is repentant of his sins can in no way suppose that his own sins are forgiven by
the Lord, since the Truth cannot lie, and what hearer and reader of the gospel has
not noted who it was who said, "I am the Truth"160? It is, of course, the One who,
when he was teaching the prayer, strongly emphasized this sentence which he put
in it, saying: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will
also forgive you your trespasses. But if you will not forgive men, neither will your
Father forgive you your offenses."161 He who is not awakened by such great
thundering is not asleep, but dead. And yet such a word has power to awaken even
the dead.


75. Now, surely, those who live in gross wickedness and take no care to
correct their lives and habits, who yet, amid their crimes and misdeeds, continue to
multiply their alms, flatter themselves in vain with the Lord's words, "Give alms;
and, behold, all things are clean to you." They do not understand how far this saying
reaches. In order for them to understand, let them notice to whom it was that he
said it. For this is the context of it in the Gospel: "As he was speaking, a certain
Pharisee asked him to dine with him. And he went in and reclined at the table. And
the Pharisee began to wonder and ask himself why He had not washed himself
before dinner. But the Lord said to him: 'Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the
cup and the dish, but within you are still full of extortion and wickedness. Foolish
ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside too? Nevertheless, give for
alms what remains within; and, behold, all things are clean to you.'"162 Should we
interpret this to mean that to the Pharisees, who had not the faith of Christ, all
things are clean if only they give alms, as they deem it right to give them, even if
they have not believed in him, nor been reborn of water and the Spirit? But all are
unclean who are not made clean by the faith of Christ, of whom it is written,
"Cleansing their hearts by faith."163 And as the apostle said, "But to them that are
unclean and unbelieving nothing is clean; both their minds and consciences are
unclean."164 How, then, should all things be clean to the Pharisees, even if they
gave alms, but were not believers? Or, how could they be believers, if they were
unwilling to believe in Christ and to be born again in his grace? And yet, what they
160John 14:6.
161Matt. 6:14, 15.
162Luke 11:37-41.
163Acts 15:9.
164Titus 1:15.
heard is true: "Give alms; and behold, all things are clean to you."
76. He who would give alms as a set plan of his life should begin with himself
and give them to himself. For almsgiving is a work of mercy, and the saying is most
true: "Have mercy upon your own soul, pleasing God."165 The purpose of the new
birth is that we should become pleasing to God, who is justly displeased with the sin
we contracted in birth. This is the first almsgiving, which we give to ourselves--
when through the mercy of a merciful God we come to inquire about our
wretchedness and come to acknowledge the just verdict by which we were put in
need of that mercy, of which the apostle says, "Judgment came by that one trespass
to condemnation."166 And the same herald of grace then adds (in a word of
thanksgiving for God's great love), "But God commendeth his love toward us in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."167 Thus, when we come to a valid
estimate of our wretchedness and begin to love God with the love he himself giveth
us, we then begin to live piously and righteously.
But the Pharisees, while they gave as alms a tithing of even the least of their
fruits, disregarded this "judgment and love of God." Therefore, they did not begin
their almsgiving with themselves, nor did they, first of all, show mercy toward
themselves. In reference to this right order of self-love, it was said, "You shall love
your neighbor as yourself."168
Therefore, when the Lord had reproved the Pharisees for washing themselves
on the outside while inwardly they were still full of extortion and wickedness, he
then admonished them also to give those alms which a man owes first to himself--to
make clean the inner man: "However," he said, "give what remains as alms, and,
behold, all things are clean to you." Then, to make plain the import of his
admonition, which they had ignored, and to show them that he was not ignorant of
their kind of almsgiving, he adds, "But woe to you, Pharisees"169--as if to say, "I am
advising you to give the kind of alms which shall make all things clean to you." "But
woe to you, for you tithe mint and rue and every herb"--"I know these alms of yours
and you need not think I am admonishing you to give them up"--"and then neglect
justice and the love of God." "This kind of almsgiving would make you clean from all
inward defilement, just as the bodies which you wash are made clean by you." For
the word "all" here means both "inward" and "outward"--as elsewhere we read,
"Make clean the inside, and the outside will become clean."170
But, lest it appear that he was rejecting the kind of alms we give of the
earth's bounty, he adds, "These things you should do"--that is, pay heed to the
judgment and love of God--and "not omit the others"--that is, alms done with the
earth's bounty.
77. Therefore, let them not deceive themselves who suppose that by giving
alms--however profusely, and whether of their fruits or money or anything else--
they purchase impunity to continue in the enormity of their crimes and the
grossness of their wickedness. For not only do they do such things, but they also
love them so much that they would always choose to continue in them--if they could
do so with impunity. "But he who loves iniquity hates his own soul."171 And he who
hates his own soul is not merciful but cruel to it. For by loving it after the world's
way he hates it according to God's way of judging. Therefore, if one really wished to
give alms to himself, that all things might become clean to him, he would hate his
soul after the world's way and love it according to God's way. No one, however, gives
any alms at all unless he gives from the store of Him who needs not anything.
165Ecclus. 30:24 (Vulgate).
166Rom. 5:16.
167Rom. 5:8.
168Luke 10:27.
169Luke 11:42.
170Matt. 23:26.
171Ps. 10:6 (Vulgate).
"Accordingly," it is said, "His mercy shall go before me."172


78. What sins are trivial and what are grave, however, is not for human but
for divine judgment to determine. For we see that, in respect of some sins, even the
apostle, by pardoning them, has conceded this point. Such a case is seen in what the
venerable Paul says to married folks: "Do not deprive one another, except by
consent for a time to give yourselves to prayer, and then return together lest Satan
tempt you at the point of self-control."173 One could consider that it is not a sin for a
married couple to have intercourse, not only for the sake of procreating children--
which is the good of marriage--but also for the sake of the carnal pleasure involved.
Thus, those whose self-control is weak could avoid fornication, or adultery, and
other kinds of impurity too shameful to name, into which their lust might drag them
through Satan's tempting. Therefore one could, as I said, consider this not a sin, had
the apostle not added, "But I say this as a concession, not as a rule." Who, then,
denies that it is a sin when he agrees that apostolic authority for doing it is given
only by "concession"?
Another such case is seen where he says, "Dare any of you, having a case
against another, bring it to be judged before the unrighteous and not the saints?"174
And a bit later: "If, therefore, you have cases concerning worldly things," he says,
"you appoint those who are contemptible in the Church's eyes. I say this to shame
you. Can it be that there is not a wise man among you, who could judge between his
brethren? But brother goes to law with brother, and that in the presence of
unbelievers."175 And here it might be thought that it was not a sin to bring suit
against a brother, and that the only sin consisted in wishing it judged outside the
Church, if the apostle had not added immediately, "Now therefore the whole fault
among you is that you have lawsuits with one another."176 Then, lest someone
excuse himself on this point by saying that he had a just cause and was suffering
injustice which he wished removed by judicial sentence, the apostle directly resists
such thoughts and excuses by saying: "Why not rather suffer iniquity? Why not
rather be defrauded?"177 Thus we are brought back to that saying of the Lord: "If
anyone would take your tunic and contend in court with you, let go your cloak
also."178 And in another place: "If a man takes away your goods, seek them not
back."179 Thus, he forbids his own to go to court with other men in secular suits.
And it is because of this teaching that the apostle says that this kind of action is "a
fault." Still, when he allows such suits to be decided in the Church, brothers judging
brothers, yet sternly forbids such a thing outside the Church, it is clear that some
concession is being made here for the infirmities of the weak.
Because of these and similar sins--and of others even less than these, such as
offenses in words and thoughts--and because, as the apostle James confesses, "we
all offend in many things,"180 it behooves us to pray to the Lord daily and often, and
say, "Forgive us our debts," and not lie about what follows this petition, "As we also
forgive our debtors."
172Ps. 58:11 (Vulgate); cf. Ps. 59:10 (R.S.V.).
173I Cor. 7:5 (mixed text).
174I Cor. 6:1.
175I Cor. 6:4-6.
176I Cor. 6:7a.
177I Cor. 6:7b.
178Matt. 5:40.
179Luke 6:30.
180James 3:2 (Vulgate).
79. There are, however, some sins that could be deemed quite trifling if the
Scriptures did not show that they are more serious than we think. For who would
suppose that one saying to his brother, "You fool," is "in danger of hell-fire," if the
Truth had not said it? Still, for the hurt he immediately supplied a medicine, adding
the precept of brotherly reconciliation: "If, therefore, you are offering a gift at the
altar, and remember there that your brother has something against you,"181 etc.
Or who would think how great a sin it is to observe days and months and
years and seasons--as those people do who will or will not begin projects on certain
days or in certain months or years, because they follow vain human doctrines and
suppose that various seasons are lucky or unlucky--if we did not infer the
magnitude of this evil from the apostle's fear, in saying to such men, "I fear for you,
lest perhaps I have labored among you in vain"182?
80. To this one might add those sins, however grave and terrible, which,
when they come to be habitual, are then believed to be trivial or no sins at all. And
so far does this go that such sins are not only not kept secret, but are even
proclaimed and published abroad--cases of which it is written, "The sinner is
praised in the desires of his soul; and he that works iniquity is blessed."183
In the divine books such iniquity is called a "cry" (clamor). You have such a
usage in the prophet Isaiah's reference to the evil vineyard: "I looked that he should
perform justice, yet he did iniquity; not justice but a cry."184 So also is that passage
in Genesis: "The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is multiplied,"185 for among these
people such crimes were not only unpunished, but were openly committed, as if
sanctioned by law.
So also in our times so many evils, even if not like those [of old], have come to
be public customs that we not only do not dare excommunicate a layman; we do not
dare degrade a clergyman for them. Thus, several years ago, when I was
expounding the Epistle to the Galatians, where the apostle says, "I fear for you, lest
perchance I have labored in vain among you," I was moved to exclaim: "Woe to the
sins of men! We shrink from them only when we are not accustomed to them. As for
those sins to which we are accustomed--although the blood of the Son of God was
shed to wash them away--although they are so great that the Kingdom of God is
wholly closed to them, yet, living with them often we come to tolerate them, and,
tolerating them, we even practice some of them! But grant, O Lord, that we do not
practice any of them which we could prohibit!" I shall someday know whether
immoderate indignation moved me here to speak rashly.


81. I shall now mention what I have often discussed before in other places in
my short treatises.186 We sin from two causes: either from not seeing what we ought
to do, or else from not doing what we have already seen we ought to do. Of these
two, the first is ignorance of the evil; the second, weakness.
We must surely fight against both; but we shall as surely be defeated unless
we are divinely helped, not only to see what we ought to do, but also, as sound
judgment increases, to make our love of righteousness victor over our love of those
181Matt. 5:22, 23.
182Gal. 4:11 (Vulgate).
183Ps. 10:3 (Vulgate).
184Isa. 5:7 (LXX).
185Gen. 18:20 (Vulgate with one change).
186For example, Contra Faust., XXII, 78; De pecc. meritis et remissione, I, xxxix, 70; ibid., II, xxii, 26; Quaest. in Heptateuch, 4:24; De libero arbitrio, 3:18, 55; De div. quaest., 83:26; De natura et gratia, 67:81; Contra duas ep. Pelag., I:3, 7; I:13:27.
things because of which--either by desiring to possess them or by fearing to lose
them--we fall, open-eyed, into known sin. In this latter case, we are not only
sinners--which we are even when we sin through ignorance--but also lawbreakers:
for we do not do what we should, and we do what we know already we should not.
Accordingly, we should pray for pardon if we have sinned, as we do when we
say, "Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors." But we should also pray
that God should guide us away from sin, and this we do when we say, "Lead us not
into temptation"--and we should make our petitions to Him of whom it is said in the
psalm, "The Lord is my light and my salvation"187; that, as Light, he may take away
our ignorance, as Salvation, our weakness.
82. Now, penance itself is often omitted because of weakness, even when in
Church custom there is an adequate reason why it should be performed. For shame
is the fear of displeasing men, when a man loves their good opinion more than he
regards judgment, which would make him humble himself in penitence. Wherefore,
not only for one to repent, but also in order that he may be enabled to do so, the
mercy of God is prerequisite. Otherwise, the apostle would not say of some men, "In
case God giveth them repentance."188 And, similarly, that Peter might be enabled to
weep bitterly, the Evangelist tells, "The Lord looked at him."189
83. But the man who does not believe that sins are forgiven in the Church,
who despises so great a bounty of the divine gifts and ends, and persists to his last
day in such an obstinacy of mind--that man is guilty of the unpardonable sin
against the Holy Spirit, in whom Christ forgiveth sins.190 I have discussed this
difficult question, as clearly as I could, in a little book devoted exclusively to this
very point.191


84. Now, with respect to the resurrection of the body--and by this I do not
mean the cases of resuscitation after which people died again, but a resurrection to
eternal life after the fashion of Christ's own body--I have not found a way to discuss
it briefly and still give satisfactory answers to all the questions usually raised about
it. Yet no Christian should have the slightest doubt as to the fact that the bodies of
all men, whether already or yet to be born, whether dead or still to die, will be
85. Once this fact is established, then, first of all, comes the question about
abortive fetuses, which are indeed "born" in the mother's womb, but are never so
that they could be "reborn." For, if we say that there is a resurrection for them, then
we can agree that at least as much is true of fetuses that are fully formed. But, with
regard to undeveloped fetuses, who would not more readily think that they perish,
like seeds that did not germinate?192
But who, then, would dare to deny--though he would not dare to affirm it
either--that in the resurrection day what is lacking in the forms of things will be
filled out? Thus, the perfection which time would have accomplished will not be
lacking, any more than the blemishes wrought by time will still be present. Nature,
then, will be cheated of nothing apt and fitting which time's passage would have
187Ps. 27:1.
188II Tim. 2:25 (mixed text).
189Cf. Luke 22:61.
190Cf. John 20:22, 23.
191This libellus is included in Augustine's Sermons (LXXI, PL, 38, col. 445-467), to which Possidius, gave the title De blasphemia in Spiritum Sanctum. English translation in N-PNF, 1st Series, Vol. VI, Sermon XXI, pp. 318-332.
192Sicut semina quae concepta non fuerint.
brought, nor will anything remain disfigured by anything adverse and contrary
which time has wrought. But what is not yet a whole will become whole, just as
what has been disfigured will be restored to its full figure.
86. On this score, a corollary question may be most carefully discussed by the
most learned men, and still I do not know that any man can answer it, namely:
When does a human being begin to live in the womb? Is there some form of hidden
life, not yet apparent in the motions of a living thing? To deny, for example, that
those fetuses ever lived at all which are cut away limb by limb and cast out of the
wombs of pregnant women, lest the mothers die also if the fetuses were left there
dead, would seem much too rash. But, in any case, once a man begins to live, it is
thereafter possible for him to die. And, once dead, wheresoever death overtook him,
I cannot find the basis on which he would not have a share in the resurrection of the
87. By the same token, the resurrection is not to be denied in the cases of
monsters which are born and live, even if they quickly die, nor should we believe
that they will be raised as they were, but rather in an amended nature and free
from faults. Far be it from us to say of that double-limbed man recently born in the
Orient--about whom most reliable brethren have given eyewitness reports and the
presbyter Jerome, of holy memory, has left a written account193--far be it from us, I
say, to suppose that at the resurrection there will be one double man, and not rather
two men, as there would have been if they had actually been born twins. So also in
other cases, which, because of some excess or defect or gross deformity, are called
monsters: at the resurrection they will be restored to the normal human
physiognomy, so that every soul will have its own body and not two bodies joined
together, even though they were born this way. Every soul will have, as its own, all
that is required to complete a whole human body.
88. Moreover, with God, the earthly substance from which the flesh of mortal
man is produced does not perish. Instead, whether it be dissolved into dust or ashes,
or dispersed into vapors and the winds, or converted into the substance of other
bodies (or even back into the basic elements themselves), or has served as food for
beasts or even men and been turned into their flesh--in an instant of time this
matter returns to the soul that first animated it, and that caused it to become a
man, to live and to grow.
89. This earthly matter which becomes a corpse upon the soul's departure
will not, at the resurrection, be so restored that the parts into which it was
separated and which have become parts of other things must necessarily return to
the same parts of the body in which they were situated--though they do return to
the body from which they were separated. Otherwise, to suppose that the hair
recovers what frequent clippings have taken off, or the nails get back what
trimming has pared off, makes for a wild and wholly unbecoming image in the
minds of those who speculate this way and leads them thus to disbelieve in the
resurrection. But take the example of a statue made of fusible metal: if it were
melted by heat or pounded into dust, or reduced to a shapeless mass, and an artist
wished to restore it again from the mass of the same material, it would make no
difference to the wholeness of the restored statue which part of it was remade of
what part of the metal, so long as the statue, as restored, had been given all the
material of which it was originally composed. Just so, God--an artist who works in
marvelous and mysterious ways--will restore our bodies, with marvelous and
mysterious celerity, out of the whole of the matter of which it was originally
composed. And it will make no difference, in the restoration, whether hair returns
to hair and nails to nails, or whether the part of this original matter that had
perished is turned back into flesh and restored to other parts of the body. The main
thing is that the providence of the [divine] Artist takes care that nothing
unbecoming will result.
193Jerome, Epistle to Vitalis, Ep. LXXII, 2; PL, 22, 674. Augustine also refers to similar phenomena in The City of God, XVI. viii, 2.
90. Nor does it follow that the stature of each person will be different when
brought to life anew because there were differences in stature when first alive, nor
that the lean will be raised lean or the fat come back to life in their former obesity.
But if this is in the Creator's plan, that each shall retain his special features and
the proper and recognizable likeness of his former self--while an equality of physical
endowment will be preserved--then the matter of which each resurrection body is
composed will be so disposed that none shall be lost, and any defect will be supplied
by Him who can create out of nothing as he wills.
But if in the bodies of those rising again there is to be an intelligible
inequality, such as between voices that fill out a chorus, this will be managed by
disposing the matter of each body so to bring men into their place in the angelic
band and impose nothing on their senses that is inharmonious. For surely nothing
unseemly will be there, and whatever is there will be fitting, and this because the
unfitting will simply not be.
91. The bodies of the saints, then, shall rise again free from blemish and
deformity, just as they will be also free from corruption, encumbrance, or handicap.
Their facility [facilitas] will be as complete as their felicity [felicitas]. This is why
their bodies are called "spiritual," though undoubtedly they will be bodies and not
spirits. For just as now the body is called "animate" [animale], though it is a body
and not a "spirit" [anima], so then it will be a "spiritual body," but still a body and
not a spirit.
Accordingly, then, as far as the corruption which weighs down the soul and
the vices through which "the flesh lusts against the spirit"194 are concerned, there
will be no "flesh," but only body, since there are bodies that are called "heavenly
bodies."195 This is why it is said, "Flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of
God," and then, as if to expound what was said, it adds, "Neither shall corruption
inherit incorruption."196 What the writer first called "flesh and blood" he later called
"corruption," and what he first called "the Kingdom of God" he then later called
But, as far as the substance of the resurrection body is concerned, it will even
then still be "flesh." This is why the body of Christ is called "flesh" even after the
resurrection. Wherefore the apostle also says, "What is sown a natural body [corpus
animale] rises as a spiritual body [corpus spirituale]."197 For there will then be such
a concord between flesh and spirit--the spirit quickening the servant flesh without
any need of sustenance therefrom--that there will be no further conflict within
ourselves. And just as there will be no more external enemies to bear with, so
neither shall we have to bear with ourselves as enemies within.
92. But whoever are not liberated from that mass of perdition (brought to
pass through the first man) by the one Mediator between God and man, they will
also rise again, each in his own flesh, but only that they may be punished together
with the devil and his angels. Whether these men will rise again with all their
faults and deformities, with their diseased and deformed members--is there any
reason for us to labor such a question? For obviously the uncertainty about their
bodily form and beauty need not weary us, since their damnation is certain and
eternal. And let us not be moved to inquire how their body can be incorruptible if it
can suffer--or corruptible if it cannot die. For there is no true life unless it be lived
in happiness; no true incorruptibility save where health is unscathed by pain. But
where an unhappy being is not allowed to die, then death itself, so to say, dies not;
and where pain perpetually afflicts but never destroys, corruption goes on endlessly.
This state is called, in the Scripture, "the second death."198
93. Yet neither the first death, in which the soul is compelled to leave its
194Gal. 5:17.
195I Cor. 15:40.
196I Cor. 15:50.
197I Cor. 15:44.
198Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14.
body, nor the second death, in which it is not allowed to leave the body undergoing
punishment, would have befallen man if no one had sinned. Surely, the lightest of
all punishments will be laid on those who have added no further sin to that
originally contracted. Among the rest, who have added further Sins to that one, they
will suffer a damnation somewhat more tolerable in proportion to the lesser degree
of their iniquity.


94. And thus it will be that while the reprobated angels and men go on in
their eternal punishment, the saints will go on learning more fully the blessings
which grace has bestowed upon them. Then, through the actual realities of their
experience, they will see more clearly the meaning of what is written in The Psalms:
"I will sing to thee of mercy and judgment, O Lord"199--since no one is set free save
by unmerited mercy and no one is damned save by a merited condemnation.
95. Then what is now hidden will not be hidden: when one of two infants is
taken up by God's mercy and the other abandoned through God's judgment--and
when the chosen one knows what would have been his just deserts in judgment--
why was the one chosen rather than the other, when the condition of the two was
the same? Or again, why were miracles not wrought in the presence of certain
people who would have repented in the face of miraculous works, while miracles
were wrought in the presence of those who were not about to believe. For our Lord
saith most plainly: "Woe to you, Chorazin; woe to you, Bethsaida. For if in Tyre and
Sidon had been wrought the miracles done in your midst, they would have repented
long ago in sackcloth and ashes."200 Now, obviously, God did not act unjustly in not
willing their salvation, even though they could have been saved, if he willed it so.201
Then, in the clearest light of wisdom, will be seen what now the pious hold by
faith, not yet grasping it in clear understanding--how certain, immutable, and
effectual is the will of God, how there are things he can do but doth not will to do,
yet willeth nothing he cannot do, and how true is what is sung in the psalm: "But
our God is above in heaven; in heaven and on earth he hath done all things
whatsoever that he would."202 This obviously is not true, if there is anything that he
willed to do and did not do, or, what were worse, if he did not do something because
199Ps. 100:1 (Vulgate); cf. Ps. 101:1 (R.S.V.).
200Matt. 11:21.
201This is one of the rare instances in which a textual variant in Augustine's text affects a basic issue in the interpretation of his doctrine. All but one of the major old editions, up to and including Migne, here read: Nec utique deus injuste noluit salvos fiere eum possent salvi esse SI VELLENT (if they willed it). This would mean the attribution of a decisive role in human salvation to the human
will and would thus stand out in bold relief from his general stress in the rest of the Enchiridion and elsewhere on the primacy and even irresistibility of grace. The Jansenist edition of Augustine, by Arnauld in 1648, read SI VELLET (if He willed it) and the reading became the subject of acrimonious controversy between the Jansenists and the Molinists. The Maurist edition reads si vellet, on the
strength of much additional MS. evidence that had not been available up to that time. In modern times, the si vellet reading has come to have the overwhelming support of the critical editors, although Rivière still reads si vellent. Cf. Scheel, 76-77 (See Bibl.); Rivière, 402-403; J.=G. Krabinger,
S. Aurelii Augustini Enchiridion (Tübingen, 1861 ), p. 116; Faure-Passaglia, S. Aurelii Augustini
Enchiridion (Naples, 1847), p. 178; and H. Hurter, Sanctorum Patrum opuscula selecta (Innsbruck,
1895), p. 123.
202Cf. Ps. 113:11 (a mixed text; composed inexactly from Ps. 115:3 and Ps. 135:6; an interesting instance of Augustine's sense of liberty with the texts of Scripture. Here he is doubtless quoting from memory).
man's will prevented him, the Omnipotent, from doing what he willed. Nothing,
therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen. He either allows it to
happen or he actually causes it to happen.
96. Nor should we doubt that God doth well, even when he alloweth whatever
happens ill to happen. For he alloweth it only through a just judgment--and surely
all that is just is good. Therefore, although evil, in so far as it is evil, is not good,
still it is a good thing that not only good things exist but evil as well. For if it were
not good that evil things exist, they would certainly not be allowed to exist by the
Omnipotent Good, for whom it is undoubtedly as easy not to allow to exist what he
does not will, as it is for him to do what he does will.
Unless we believe this, the very beginning of our Confession of Faith is
imperiled--the sentence in which we profess to believe in God the Father Almighty.
For he is called Almighty for no other reason than that he can do whatsoever he
willeth and because the efficacy of his omnipotent will is not impeded by the will of
any creature.
97. Accordingly, we must now inquire about the meaning of what was said
most truly by the apostle concerning God, "Who willeth that all men should be
saved."203 For since not all--not even a majority--are saved, it would indeed appear
that the fact that what God willeth to happen does not happen is due to an embargo
on God's will by the human will.
Now, when we ask for the reason why not all are saved, the customary
answer is: "Because they themselves have not willed it." But this cannot be said of
infants, who have not yet come to the power of willing or not willing. For, if we could
attribute to their wills the infant squirmings they make at baptism, when they
resist as hard as they can, we would then have to say that they were saved against
their will. But the Lord's language is clearer when, in the Gospel, he reproveth the
unrighteous city: "How often," he saith, "would I have gathered your children
together, as a hen gathers her chicks, and you would not."204 This sounds as if God's
will had been overcome by human wills and as if the weakest, by not willing,
impeded the Most Powerful so that he could not do what he willed. And where is
that omnipotence by which "whatsoever he willed in heaven and on earth, he has
done," if he willed to gather the children of Jerusalem together, and did not do so?
Or, is it not rather the case that, although Jerusalem did not will that her children
be gathered together by him, yet, despite her unwillingness, God did indeed gather
together those children of hers whom he would? It is not that "in heaven and on
earth" he hath willed and done some things, and willed other things and not done
them. Instead, "all things whatsoever he willed, he hath done."


98. Furthermore, who would be so impiously foolish as to say that God cannot
turn the evil wills of men--as he willeth, when he willeth, and where he willeth--
toward the good? But, when he acteth, he acteth through mercy; when he doth not
act, it is through justice. For, "he hath mercy on whom he willeth; and whom he
willeth, he hardeneth."205
Now when the apostle said this, he was commending grace, of which he had
just spoken in connection with the twin children in Rebecca's womb: "Before they
had yet been born, or had done anything good or bad, in order that the electing
purpose of God might continue--not through works but through the divine calling--it
203I Tim. 2:4.
204Matt. 23:37.
205Rom. 9:18.
was said of them, 'The elder shall serve the younger.' "206 Accordingly, he refers to
another prophetic witness, where it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau have I
hated."207 Then, realizing how what he said could disturb those whose
understanding could not penetrate to this depth of grace, he adds: "What therefore
shall we say to this? Is there unrighteousness in God? God forbid!"208 Yet it does
seem unfair that, without any merit derived from good works or bad, God should
love the one and hate the other. Now, if the apostle had wished us to understand
that there were future good deeds of the one, and evil deeds of the other--which God,
of course, foreknew--he would never have said "not of good works" but rather "of
future works." Thus he would have solved the difficulty; or, rather, he would have
left no difficulty to be solved. As it is, however, when he went on to exclaim, "God
forbid!"--that is, "God forbid that there should be unfairness in God"--he proceeds
immediately to add (to prove that no unfairness in God is involved here), "For he
says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will show pity to
whom I will show pity.'"209 Now, who but a fool would think God unfair either when
he imposes penal judgment on the deserving or when he shows mercy to the
undeserving? Finally, the apostle concludes and says, "Therefore, it is not a question
of him who wills nor of him who runs but of God's showing mercy."210
Thus, both the twins were "by nature children of wrath,"211 not because of
any works of their own, but because they were both bound in the fetters of
damnation originally forged by Adam. But He who said, "I will have mercy on whom
I will have mercy," loved Jacob in unmerited mercy, yet hated Esau with merited
justice. Since this judgment [of wrath] was due them both, the former learned from
what happened to the other that the fact that he had not, with equal merit, incurred
the same penalty gave him no ground to boast of his own distinctive merits--but,
instead, that he should glory in the abundance of divine grace, because "it is not a
question of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God's showing mercy."212 And,
indeed, the whole visage of Scripture and, if I may speak so, the lineaments of its
countenance, are found to exhibit a mystery, most profound and salutary, to
admonish all who carefully look thereupon "that he who glories, should glory in the
99. Now, after the apostle had commended God's mercy in saying, "So then,
there is no question of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God's showing
mercy," next in order he intends to speak also of his judgment--for where his mercy
is not shown, it is not unfairness but justice. For with God there is no injustice.
Thus, he immediately added, "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very
purpose I raised you up, that I may show through you my power, and that my name
may be proclaimed in all the earth."214 Then, having said this, he draws a
conclusion that looks both ways, that is, toward mercy and toward judgment:
"Therefore," he says, "he hath mercy on whom he willeth, and whom he willeth he
hardeneth." He showeth mercy out of his great goodness; he hardeneth out of no
unfairness at all. In this way, neither does he who is saved have a basis for glorying
in any merit of his own; nor does the man who is damned have a basis for
complaining of anything except what he has fully merited. For grace alone separates
206Rom. 9:11, 12.
207Cf. Mal. 1:2, 3 and Rom. 9:13.
208Rom. 9:14.
209Rom. 9:15.
210Rom. 9:15; see above, IX, 32.
211Eph. 2:3.
212Rom. 9:16.
213I Cor. 1 :31; cf. Jer. 9:24. The religious intention of Augustine's emphasis upon divine sovereignty and predestination is never so much to account for the doom of the wicked as to underscore the sheer and wonderful gratuity of salvation.
214Rom. 9:17; cf. Ex. 9:16.
the redeemed from the lost, all having been mingled together in the one mass of
perdition, arising from a common cause which leads back to their common origin.
But if any man hears this in such a way as to say: "Why then does he find fault? For
who resists his will?"215--as if to make it seem that man should not therefore be
blamed for being evil because God "hath mercy on whom he willeth and whom he
willeth he hardeneth"--God forbid that we should be ashamed to give the same reply
as we see the apostle giving: "O man, who are you to reply to God? Does the molded
object say to the molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Or is not the potter
master of his clay, to make from the same mass one vessel for honorable, another
for ignoble, use?"216
There are some stupid men who think that in this part of the argument the
apostle had no answer to give; and, for lack of a reasonable rejoinder, simply
rebuked the audacity of his gainsayer. But what he said--"O man, who are you?"--
has actually great weight and in an argument like this recalls man, in a single
word, to consider the limits of his capacity and, at the same time, supplies an
important explanation.
For if one does not understand these matters, who is he to talk back to God?
And if one does understand, he finds no better ground even then for talking back.
For if he understands, he sees that the whole human race was condemned in its
apostate head by a divine judgment so just that not even if a single member of the
race were ever saved from it, no one could rail against God's justice. And he also
sees that those who are saved had to be saved on such terms that it would show--by
contrast with the greater number of those not saved but simply abandoned to their
wholly just damnation--what the whole mass deserved and to what end God's
merited judgment would have brought them, had not his undeserved mercy
interposed. Thus every mouth of those disposed to glory in their own merits should
be stopped, so that "he that glories may glory in the Lord."217


100. These are "the great works of the Lord, well-considered in all his acts of
will"218--and so wisely well-considered that when his angelic and human creation
sinned (that is, did not do what he willed, but what it willed) he could still
accomplish what he himself had willed and this through the same creaturely will by
which the first act contrary to the Creator's will had been done. As the Supreme
Good, he made good use of evil deeds, for the damnation of those whom he had
justly predestined to punishment and for the salvation of those whom he had
mercifully predestined to grace.
For, as far as they were concerned, they did what God did not will that they
do, but as far as God's omnipotence is concerned, they were quite unable to achieve
their purpose. In their very act of going against his will, his will was thereby
accomplished. This is the meaning of the statement, "The works of the Lord are
great, well-considered in all his acts of will"--that in a strange and ineffable fashion
even that which is done against his will is not done without his will. For it would
not be done without his allowing it--and surely his permission is not unwilling but
willing--nor would he who is good allow the evil to be done, unless in his
omnipotence he could bring good even out of evil.
101. Sometimes, however, a man of good will wills something that God doth
not will, even though God's will is much more, and much more certainly, good--for
215Rom. 9:19.
216Rom. 9:20, 21.
217I Cor. 1:31.
218Ps. 110:2 (Vulgate).
under no circumstances can it ever be evil. For example, it is a good son's will that
his father live, whereas it is God's good will that he should die. Or, again, it can
happen that a man of evil will can will something that God also willeth with a good
will--as, for example, a bad son wills that his father die and this is also God's will.
Of course, the former wills what God doth not will, whereas the latter does will
what God willeth. Yet the piety of the one, though he wills not what God willeth, is
more consonant with God's will than is the impiety of the other, who wills the same
thing that God willeth. There is a very great difference between what is fitting for
man to will and what is fitting for God--and also between the ends to which a man
directs his will--and this difference determines whether an act of will is to be
approved or disapproved. Actually, God achieveth some of his purposes--which are,
of course, all good--through the evil wills of bad men. For example, it was through
the ill will of the Jews that, by the good will of the Father, Christ was slain for us--a
deed so good that when the apostle Peter would have nullified it he was called
"Satan" by him who had come in order to be slain.219 How good seemed the purposes
of the pious faithful who were unwilling that the apostle Paul should go to
Jerusalem, lest there he should suffer the things that the prophet Agabus had
predicted!220 And yet God had willed that he should suffer these things for the sake
of the preaching of Christ, and for the training of a martyr for Christ. And this good
purpose of his he achieved, not through the good will of the Christians, but through
the ill will of the Jews. Yet they were more fully his who did not will what he willed
than were those who were willing instruments of his purpose--for while he and the
latter did the very same thing, he worked through them with a good will, whereas
they did his good will with their ill will.
102. But, however strong the wills either of angels or of men, whether good or
evil, whether they will what God willeth or will something else, the will of the
Omnipotent is always undefeated. And this will can never be evil, because even
when it inflicts evils, it is still just; and obviously what is just is not evil. Therefore,
whether through pity "he hath mercy on whom he willeth," or in justice "whom he
willeth, he hardeneth," the omnipotent God never doth anything except what he
doth will, and doth everything that he willeth.


103. Accordingly, when we hear and read in sacred Scripture that God
"willeth that all men should be saved,"221 although we know well enough that not
all men are saved, we are not on that account to underrate the fully omnipotent will
of God. Rather, we must understand the Scripture, "Who will have all men to be
saved," as meaning that no man is saved unless God willeth his salvation: not that
there is no man whose salvation he doth not will, but that no one is saved unless He
willeth it. Moreover, his will should be sought in prayer, because if he willeth, then
what he willeth must necessarily be. And, indeed, it was of prayer to God that the
apostle was speaking when he made that statement. Thus, we are also to
understand what is written in the Gospel about Him "who enlighteneth every
man."222 This means that there is no man who is enlightened except by God.
In any case, the word concerning God, "who will have all men to be saved,"
does not mean that there is no one whose salvation he doth not will--he who was
unwilling to work miracles among those who, he said, would have repented if he had
wrought them--but by "all men" we are to understand the whole of mankind, in
219Matt. 16:23.
220Acts 21:10-12.
221I Tim. 2:4.
222John 1:9.
every single group into which it can be divided: kings and subjects; nobility and
plebeians; the high and the low; the learned and unlearned; the healthy and the
sick; the bright, the dull, and the stupid; the rich, the poor, and the middle class;
males, females, infants, children, the adolescent, young adults and middle-aged and
very old; of every tongue and fashion, of all the arts, of all professions, with the
countless variety of wills and minds and all the other things that differentiate
people. For from which of these groups doth not God will that some men from every
nation should be saved through his only begotten Son our Lord? Therefore, he doth
save them since the Omnipotent cannot will in vain, whatsoever he willeth.
Now, the apostle had enjoined that prayers should be offered "for all men"223
and especially "for kings and all those of exalted station,"224 whose worldly pomp
and pride could be supposed to be a sufficient cause for them to despise the humility
of the Christian faith. Then, continuing his argument, "for this is good and
acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour"225-- that is, to pray even for such as
these [kings]--the apostle, to remove any warrant for despair, added, "Who willeth
that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."226 Truly, then, God
hath judged it good that through the prayers of the lowly he would deign to grant
salvation to the exalted--a paradox we have already seen exemplified. Our Lord also
useth the same manner of speech in the Gospel, where he saith to the Pharisees,
"You tithe mint and rue and every herb."227 Obviously, the Pharisees did not tithe
what belonged to others, nor all the herbs of all the people of other lands. Therefore,
just as we should interpret "every herb" to mean "every kind of herb," so also we can
interpret "all men" to mean "all kinds of men." We could interpret it in any other
fashion, as long as we are not compelled to believe that the Omnipotent hath willed
anything to be done which was not done. "He hath done all things in heaven and
earth, whatsoever he willed,"228 as Truth sings of him, and surely he hath not willed
to do anything that he hath not done. There must be no equivocation on this point.


104. Consequently, God would have willed to preserve even the first man in
that state of salvation in which he was created and would have brought him in due
season, after the begetting of children, to a better state without the intervention of
death--where he not only would have been unable to sin, but would not have had
even the will to sin--if he had foreknown that man would have had a steadfast will
to continue without sin, as he had been created to do. But since he did foreknow
that man would make bad use of his free will--that is, that he would sin--God
prearranged his own purpose so that he could do good to man, even in man's doing
evil, and so that the good will of the Omnipotent should be nullified by the bad will
of men, but should nonetheless be fulfilled.
105. Thus it was fitting that man should be created, in the first place, so that
he could will both good and evil--not without reward, if he willed the good; not
without punishment, if he willed the evil. But in the future life he will not have the
power to will evil; and yet this will not thereby restrict his free will. Indeed, his will
will be much freer, because he will then have no power whatever to serve sin. For
we surely ought not to find fault with such a will, nor say it is no will, or that it is
not rightly called free, when we so desire happiness that we not only are unwilling
223I Tim. 2:1.
224I Tim. 2:2.
225I Tim. 2:3.
226I Tim. 2:4.
227Luke 11:42.
228Ps. 135:6.
to be miserable, but have no power whatsoever to will it.
And, just as in our present state, our soul is unable to will unhappiness for
ourselves, so then it will be forever unable to will iniquity. But the ordered course of
God's plan was not to be passed by, wherein he willed to show how good the rational
creature is that is able not to sin, although one unable to sin is better.229 So, too, it
was an inferior order of immortality--but yet it was immortality--in which man was
capable of not dying, even if the higher order which is to be is one in which man will
be incapable of dying.230
106. Human nature lost the former kind of immortality through the misuse of
free will. It is to receive the latter through grace--though it was to have obtained it
through merit, if it had not sinned. Not even then, however, could there have been
any merit without grace. For although sin had its origin in free will alone, still free
will would not have been sufficient to maintain justice, save as divine aid had been
afforded man, in the gift of participation in the immutable good. Thus, for example,
the power to die when he wills it is in a man's own hands--since there is no one who
could not kill himself by not eating (not to mention other means). But the bare will
is not sufficient for maintaining life, if the aids of food and other means of
preservation are lacking.
Similarly, man in paradise was capable of self-destruction by abandoning
justice by an act of will; yet if the life of justice was to be maintained, his will alone
would not have sufficed, unless He who made him had given him aid. But, after the
Fall, God's mercy was even more abundant, for then the will itself had to be freed
from the bondage in which sin and death are the masters. There is no way at all by
which it can be freed by itself, but only through God's grace, which is made effectual
in the faith of Christ. Thus, as it is written, even the will by which "the will itself is
prepared by the Lord"231 so that we may receive the other gifts of God through
which we come to the Gift eternal--this too comes from God.
107. Accordingly, even the life eternal, which is surely the wages of good
works, is called a gift of God by the apostle. "For the wages of sin," he says, "is
death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."232 Now, wages for
military service are paid as a just debit, not as a gift. Hence, he said "the wages of
sin is death," to show that death was not an unmerited pun ishment for sin but a
just debit. But a gift, unless it be gratuitous, is not grace. We are, therefore, to
understand that even man's merited goods are gifts from God, and when life eternal
is given through them, what else do we have but "grace upon grace returned"233?
Man was, therefore, made upright, and in such a fashion that he could either
continue in that uprightness--though not without divine aid--or become perverted by
his own choice. Whichever of these two man had chosen, God's will would be done,
either by man or at least concerning him. Wherefore, since man chose to do his own
will instead of God's, God's will concerning him was done; for, from the same mass
of perdition that flowed out of that common source, God maketh "one vessel for
honorable, another for ignoble use"234; the ones for honorable use through his
mercy, the ones for ignoble use through his judgment; lest anyone glory in man, or--
what is the same thing--in himself.
108. Now, we could not be redeemed, even through "the one Mediator
229Another example of Augustine's wordplay. Man's original capacities included both the power not to sin and the power to sin (posse non peccare et posse peccare). In Adam's original sin, man lost the posse non peccare (the power not to sin) and retained the posse peccare (the power to sin)--which he continues to exercise. In the fulfillment of grace, man will have the posse peccare taken away and receive the highest of all, the power not to be able to sin, non posse peccare. Cf. On Correction and Grace XXXIII.
230Again, a wordplay between posset non mori and non possit mori.
231Prov. 8:35 (LXX).
232Rom. 6:23.
233Cf. John 1:16.
234Rom. 9:21.
between God and man, Man himself, Christ Jesus,"235 if he were not also God. For
when Adam was made--being made an upright man--there was no need for a
mediator. Once sin, however, had widely separated the human race from God, it was
necessary for a mediator, who alone was born, lived, and was put to death without
sin, to reconcile us to God, and provide even for our bodies a resurrection to life
eternal--and all this in order that man's pride might be exposed and healed through
God's humility. Thus it might be shown man how far he had departed from God,
when by the incarnate God he is recalled to God; that man in his contumacy might
be furnished an example of obedience by the God-Man; that the fount of grace might
be opened up; that even the resurrection of the body--itself promised to the
redeemed--might be previewed in the resurrection of the Redeemer himself; that the
devil might be vanquished by that very nature he was rejoicing over having
deceived--all this, however, without giving man ground for glory in himself, lest
pride spring up anew. And if there are other advantages accruing from so great a
mystery of the Mediator, which those who profit from them can see or testify--even
if they cannot be described--let them be added to this list.


109. Now, for the time that intervenes between man's death and the final
resurrection, there is a secret shelter for his soul, as each is worthy of rest or
affliction according to what it has merited while it lived in the body.
110. There is no denying that the souls of the dead are benefited by the piety
of their living friends, when the sacrifice of the Mediator is offered for the dead, or
alms are given in the church. But these means benefit only those who, when they
were living, have merited that such services could be of help to them. For there is a
mode of life that is neither so good as not to need such helps after death nor so bad
as not to gain benefit from them after death. There is, however, a good mode of life
that does not need such helps, and, again, one so thoroughly bad that, when such a
man departs this life, such helps avail him nothing. It is here, then, in this life, that
all merit or demerit is acquired whereby a man's condition in the life hereafter is
improved or worsened. Therefore, let no one hope to obtain any merit with God after
he is dead that he has neglected to obtain here in this life.
So, then, those means which the Church constantly uses in interceding for
the dead are not opposed to that statement of the apostle when he said, "For all of
us shall stand before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may receive according to
what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."236 For each man has for
himself while living in the body earned the merit whereby these means can benefit
him [after death]. For they do not benefit all. And yet why should they not benefit
all, unless it be because of the different kinds of lives men lead in the body?
Accordingly, when sacrifices, whether of the altar or of alms, are offered for the
baptized dead, they are thank offerings for the very good, propitiations for the notso-
very-bad [non valde malis], and, as for the very bad--even if they are of no help to
the dead--they are at least a sort of consolation to the living. Where they are of
value, their benefit consists either in obtaining a full forgiveness or, at least, in
making damnation more tolerable.
111. After the resurrection, however, when the general judgment has been
held and finished, the boundary lines will be set for the two cities: the one of Christ,
the other of the devil; one for the good, the other for the bad--both including angels
and men. In the one group, there will be no will to sin, in the other, no power to sin,
nor any further possibility of dying. The citizens of the first commonwealth will go
on living truly and happily in life eternal. The second will go on, miserable in death
235I Tim. 2:5 (mixed text).
236Rom. 14:10; II Cor. 5:10.
eternal, with no power to die to it. The condition of both societies will then be fixed
and endless. But in the first city, some will outrank others in bliss, and in the
second, some will have a more tolerable burden of misery than others.
112. It is quite in vain, then, that some--indeed very many--yield to merely
human feelings and deplore the notion of the eternal punishment of the damned and
their interminable and perpetual misery. They do not believe that such things will
be. Not that they would go counter to divine Scripture--but, yielding to their own
human feelings, they soften what seems harsh and give a milder emphasis to
statements they believe are meant more to terrify than to express the literal truth.
"God will not forget," they say, "to show mercy, nor in his anger will he shut up his
mercy." This is, in fact, the text of a holy psalm.237 But there is no doubt that it is to
be interpreted to refer to those who are called "vessels of mercy,"238 those who are
freed from misery not by their own merits but through God's mercy. Even so, if they
suppose that the text applies to all men, there is no ground for them further to
suppose that there can be an end for those of whom it is said, "Thus these shall go
into everlasting punishment."239 Otherwise, it can as well be thought that there will
also be an end to the happiness of those of whom the antithesis was said: "But the
righteous into life eternal."
But let them suppose, if it pleases them, that, for certain intervals of time,
the punishments of the damned are somewhat mitigated. Even so, the wrath of God
must be understood as still resting on them. And this is damnation--for this anger,
which is not a violent passion in the divine mind, is called "wrath" in God. Yet even
in his wrath--his wrath resting on them--he does not "shut up his mercy." This is not
to put an end to their eternal afflictions, but rather to apply or interpose some little
respite in their torments. For the psalm does not say, "To put an end to his wrath,"
or, "After his wrath," but, "In his wrath." Now, if this wrath were all there is [in
man's damnation], and even if it were present only in the slightest degree
conceivable--still, to be lost out of the Kingdom of God, to be an exile from the City
of God, to be estranged from the life of God, to suffer loss of the great abundance of
God's blessings which he has hidden for those who fear him and prepared for those
who hope in him240--this would be a punishment so great that, if it be eternal, no
torments that we know could be compared to it, no matter how many ages they
113. The eternal death of the damned--that is, their estrangement from the
life of God--will therefore abide without end, and it will be common to them all, no
matter what some people, moved by their human feelings, may wish to think about
gradations of punishment, or the relief or intermission of their misery. In the same
way, the eternal life of the saints will abide forever, and also be common to all of
them no matter how different the grades of rank and honor in which they shine
forth in their effulgent harmony.


114. Thus, from our confession of faith, briefly summarized in the Creed
(which is milk for babes when pondered at the carnal level but food for strong men
when it is considered and studied spiritually), there is born the good hope of the
faithful, accompanied by a holy love.241 But of these affirmations, all of which ought
faithfully to be believed, only those which have to do with hope are contained in the
237Cf. Ps. 77:9.
238Rom. 9:23.
239Matt. 25:46.
240Cf. Ps. 31:19.
241Note the artificial return to the triadic scheme of the treatise: faith, hope, and love.
Lord's Prayer. For "cursed is everyone," as the divine eloquence testified, "who rests
his hope in man."242 Thus, he who rests his hope in himself is bound by the bond of
this curse. Therefore, we should seek from none other than the Lord God whatever
it is that we hope to do well, or hope to obtain as reward for our good works.
115. Accordingly, in the Evangelist Matthew, the Lord's Prayer may be seen
to contain seven petitions: three of them ask for eternal goods, the other four for
temporal goods, which are, however, necessary for obtaining the eternal goods.
For when we say: "Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be
done on earth, as it is in heaven"243--this last being wrongly interpreted by some as
meaning "in body and spirit"--these blessings will be retained forever. They begin in
this life, of course; they are increased in us as we make progress, but in their
perfection--which is to be hoped for in the other life--they will be possessed forever!
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,"244
who does not see that all these pertain to our needs in the present life? In that life
eternal--where we all hope to be--the hallowing of God's name, his Kingdom, and his
will, in our spirit and body will abide perfectly and immortally. But in this life we
ask for "daily bread" because it is necessary, in the measure required by soul and
body, whether we take the term in a spiritual or bodily sense, or both. And here too
it is that we petition for forgiveness, where the sins are committed; here too are the
temptations that allure and drive us to sinning; here, finally, the evil from which we
wish to be freed. But in that other world none of these things will be found.
116. However, the Evangelist Luke, in his version of the Lord's Prayer, has
brought together, not seven, but five petitions. Yet, obviously, there is no
discrepancy here, but rather, in his brief way, the Evangelist has shown us how the
seven petitions should be understood. Actually, God's name is even now hallowed in
the spirit, but the Kingdom of God is yet to come in the resurrection of the body.
Therefore, Luke was seeking to show that the third petition ["Thy will be done"] is a
repetition of the first two, and makes this better understood by omitting it. He then
adds three other petitions, concerning daily bread, forgiveness of sins, and
avoidance of temptation.245 However, what Matthew puts in the last place, "But
deliver us from evil," Luke leaves out, in order that we might understand that it
was included in what was previously said about temptation. This is, indeed, why
Matthew said, "But deliver us," instead of, "And deliver us," as if to indicate that
there is only one petition--"Will not this, but that"--so that anyone would realize
that he is being delivered from evil in that he is not being led into temptation.


117. And now regarding love, which the apostle says is greater than the other
two--that is, faith and hope--for the more richly it dwells in a man, the better the
man in whom it dwells. For when we ask whether someone is a good man, we are
not asking what he believes, or hopes, but what he loves. Now, beyond all doubt, he
who loves aright believes and hopes rightly. Likewise, he who does not love believes
in vain, even if what he believes is true; he hopes in vain, even if what he hopes for
is generally agreed to pertain to true happiness, unless he believes and hopes for
this: that he may through prayer obtain the gift of love. For, although it is true that
he cannot hope without love, it may be that there is something without which, if he
does not love it, he cannot realize the object of his hopes. An example of this would
242Jer. 17:5.
243Matt. 6:9, 10.
244Matt. 6:11-13.
245Luke 11:2-4.
be if a man hopes for life eternal--and who is there who does not love that?--and yet
does not love righteousness, without which no one comes to it.
Now this is the true faith of Christ which the apostle commends: faith that
works through love. And what it yet lacks in love it asks that it may receive, it seeks
that it may find, and knocks that it may be opened unto it.246 For faith achieves
what the law commands [fides namque impetrat quod lex imperat]. And, without the
gift of God--that is, without the Holy Spirit, through whom love is shed abroad in
our hearts--the law may bid but it cannot aid [jubere lex poterit, non juvare].
Moreover, it can make of man a transgressor, who cannot then excuse himself by
pleading ignorance. For appetite reigns where the love of God does not.247
118. When, in the deepest shadows of ignorance, he lives according to the
flesh with no restraint of reason--this is the primal state of man.248 Afterward,
when "through the law the knowledge of sin"249 has come to man, and the Holy
Spirit has not yet come to his aid--so that even if he wishes to live according to the
law, he is vanquished--man sins knowingly and is brought under the spell and made
the slave of sin, "for by whatever a man is vanquished, of this master he is the
slave"250. The effect of the knowledge of the law is that sin works in man the whole
round of concupiscence, which adds to the guilt of the first transgression. And thus
it is that what was written is fulfilled: "The law entered in, that the offense might
abound."251 This is the second state of man.252
But if God regards a man with solicitude so that he then believes in God's
help in fulfilling His commands, and if a man begins to be led by the Spirit of God,
then the mightier power of love struggles against the power of the flesh.253 And
although there is still in man a power that fights against him--his infirmity being
not yet fully healed--yet he [the righteous man] lives by faith and lives righteously
in so far as he does not yield to evil desires, conquering them by his love of
righteousness. This is the third stage of the man of good hope.
A final peace is in store for him who continues to go forward in this course
toward perfection through steadfast piety. This will be perfected beyond this life in
the repose of the spirit, and, at the last, in the resurrection of the body.
Of these four different stages of man, 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, also, the history of God's people has been ordered by successive temporal
epochs, as it pleased God, who "ordered all things in measure and number and
weight."254 The first period was before the law; the second under the law, which was
given through Moses; the next, under grace which was revealed through the first
Advent of the Mediator."255 This grace was not previously absent from those to
whom it was to be imparted, although, in conformity to the temporal dispensations,
it was veiled and hidden. For none of the righteous men of antiquity could find
salvation apart from the faith of Christ. And, unless Christ had also been known to
them, he could not have been prophesied to us--sometimes openly and sometimes
obscurely--through their ministry.
119. Now, in whichever of these four "ages"--if one can call them that--the
246Matt. 7:7.
247Another wordplay on cupiditas and caritas.
248An interesting resemblance here to Freud's description of the Id, the primal core of our
unconscious life.
249Rom. 3:20.
250II Peter 2:19.
251Rom. 5:20.
252Compare the psychological notion of the effect of external moral pressures and their power to arouse guilt feelings, as in Freud's notion of "superego."
253Gal. 5:17.
254Wis. 11:21 (Vulgate).
255Cf. John 1:17.
grace of regeneration finds a man, then and there all his past sins are forgiven him
and the guilt he contracted in being born is removed by his being reborn. And so
true is it that "the Spirit breatheth where he willeth"256 that some men have never
known the second "age" of slavery under the law, but begin to have divine aid
directly under the new commandment.
120. Yet, before a man can receive the commandment, he must, of course, live
according to the flesh. But, once he has been imbued with the sacrament of rebirth,
no harm will come to him even if he then immediately depart this life--"Wherefore
on this account Christ died and rose again, that he might be the Lord of both the
living and the dead."'257 Nor will the kingdom of death have dominion over him for
whom He, who was "free among the dead,"258 died.


121. All the divine precepts are, therefore, referred back to love, of which the
apostle says, "Now the end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart, and a
good conscience and a faith unfeigned."259 Thus every commandment harks back to
love. For whatever one does either in fear of punishment or from some carnal
impulse, so that it does not measure up to the standard of love which the Holy Spirit
sheds abroad in our hearts--whatever it is, it is not yet done as it should be,
although it may seem to be. Love, in this context, of course includes both the love of
God and the love of our neighbor and, indeed, "on these two commandments hang
all the Law and the Prophets"260--and, we may add, the gospel and the apostles, for
from nowhere else comes the voice, "The end of the commandment is love,"261 and,
"God is love."262
Therefore, whatsoever things God commands (and one of these is, "Thou shalt
not commit adultery"263) and whatsoever things are not positively ordered but are
strongly advised as good spiritual counsel (and one of these is, "It is a good thing for
a man not to touch a woman"264)--all of these imperatives are rightly obeyed only
when they are measured by the standard of our love of God and our love of our
neighbor in God [propter Deum]. This applies both in the present age and in the
world to come. Now we love God in faith; then, at sight. For, though mortal men
ourselves, we do not know the hearts of mortal men. But then "the Lord will
illuminate the hidden things in the darkness and will make manifest the cogitations
of the heart; and then shall each one have his praise from God"265--for what will be
praised and loved in a neighbor by his neighbor is just that which, lest it remain
hidden, God himself will bring to light. Moreover, passion decreases as love
increases266 until love comes at last to that fullness which cannot be surpassed, "for
greater love than this no one has, that a man lay down his life for his friends."267
Who, then, can explain how great the power of love will be, when there will be no
passion [cupiditas] for it to restrain or overcome? For, then, the supreme state of
256John 3:8.
257Rom. 14:9.
258Cf. Ps. 88:5.
259ITim. 1:5.
260Matt. 22:40.
2611Tim. 1:5.
262I John 4:16.
263Ex. 20:14; Matt. 5:27; etc.
264I Cor. 7:1.
265I Cor. 4:5.
266Minuitur autem cupiditas caritate crescente.
267John 15:23.
true health [summa sanitas] will have been reached, when the struggle with death
shall be no more.


122. But somewhere this book must have an end. You can see for yourself
whether you should call it an Enchiridion, or use it as one. But since I have judged
that your zeal in Christ ought not to be spurned and since I believe and hope for
good things for you through the help of our Redeemer, and since I love you greatly
as one of the members of his body, I have written this book for you--may its
usefulness match its prolixity!--on Faith, Hope, and Love.

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Note: Enchiridion means Catechism a Teaching!