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Excerpts from Augustine
 

Introduction:

The following writings of Augustine are taken from ENCHRIDION- ON FAITH, AND LOVE by Saint Augustine AGES Software • Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997. They are placed here for educational and research purposes only.
 

CHAPTER 3

GOD THE CREATOR OF ALL; AND THE GOODNESS OF ALL CREATION

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.” f20 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. f21 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. f22
 

CHAPTER 5

THE KINDS AND DEGREES OF ERROR

16. This being the case, when that verse of Maro’s gives us pleasure,

“Happy is he who can understand the causes of things,” f28

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 nature,

“Whence earthquakes, whose force swells the sea to flood,

so that they burst their bounds and then subside again,” f29

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. f30 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,” f31

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.” f32 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 deceived by somebody else. f33

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.
 

CHAPTER 6

THE PROBLEM OF LYING

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. f34 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,” f35 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 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.
 

CHAPTER 7

DISPUTED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE

AND CERTAINTY IN VARIOUS MATTERS

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

angel) f36 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” f37 — 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 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. f38 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.” f39

Now, if you take away positive affirmation, f40 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. f41 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 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.” f42 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.” f43
 

CHAPTER 15

THE HOLY SPIRIT (56) AND THE CHURCH (57-60)

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 demanded f110 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 Lord f111 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 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. f112 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. f113

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?” f114

In another place, he says of this body, “Know you not

that your bodies are members of Christ?” f115 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” f116 — “Destroy this temple and in three days I will

raise it up again.” f117 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”? f118

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’?”; f119 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,” f120

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”? f121 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 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...” f122

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...”? f123 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? f124 How, also, did Jacob wrestle with the angel in

such a tangible fashion? f125

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.
 

CHAPTER 17

FORGIVENESS OF SINS IN THE CHURCH

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” f132 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 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,” f133 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.”

f134

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, f135

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.” f136

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” f137 — 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, f138 without whom there is no forgiveness of sins. Those

forgiven thus obtain life everlasting.

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.” f139 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 world.”
 

CHAPTER 30

THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN LIVING: FAITH AND HOPE

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. f241 But of these affirmations, all of which ought faithfully to be

believed, only those which have to do with hope are contained in the

Lord’s Prayer. For “cursed is everyone,” as the divine eloquence

testified, “who rests his hope in man.” f242 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” f243 — 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,” f244 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. f245

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.