Augustine on NT 57
57 Again, on Mt 6. On the Lord’s prayer. To the Competentes.
1. The order established for your edification requires that ye learn first what to believe, and afterwards what to ask. For so saith the Apostle, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.”1 This testimony blessed Paul cited out of the Prophet; for by the Prophet were those times foretold, when all men should call upon God; “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.” And he added, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? Or how shall they hear without a preacher? Or how shall they preach except they be sent?”2 Therefore were preachers sent. They preached Christ. As they preached, the people heard, by hearing they believed, and by believing called upon Him. Because then it was most rightly and most truly said, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” therefore have ye first learned what to believe: and to-day have learnt to call on Him in whom ye have believed.
2. The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, hath taught us a Prayer; and though He be the Lord Himself, as ye have heard and repeated in the Creed, the Only Son of God, yet He would not be alone. He is the Only Son, and yet would not be alone; He hath vouchsafed to have brethren. For to whom doth He say, “Say, Our Father, which art in heaven?”3 Whom did He wish us to call our Father, save His own Father? Did He grudge us this? Parents sometimes when they have gotten one, or two, or three children, fear to give birth to any more, lest they reduce the rest to beggary. But because the inheritance which He promiseth us is such as many may possess, and no one be straitened; therefore hath He called into His brotherhood the numberless brethren; who say, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” So said they who have been before us; and so shall say those who will come after us. See how many brethren the Only Son hath in His grace, sharing His inheritance with those for whom He suffered death. We had a father and mother on earth, that we might be born to labours and to death: but we have found other parents, God our Father, and the Church our Mother, by whom we are born unto life eternal. Let us then consider, beloved, whose children we have begun to be; and let us live so as becomes those who have such a Father. See, how that our Creator hath condescended to be our Father!
3. We have heard whom we ought to call upon, and with what hope of an eternal inheritance we have begun to have a Father in heaven; let us now hear what we must ask of Him. Of such a Father what shall we ask? Do we not ask rain of Him, to-day, and yesterday, and the day before? This is no great thing to have asked of such a Father, and yet ye see with what sighings, and with what great desire we ask for rain, when death is feared, when that is feared which none can escape. For sooner or later every man must die, and we groan, and pray, and travail in pain, and cry to God, that we may die a little later. How much more ought we to cry to Him, that we may come to that place where we shall never die!
4. Therefore is it said, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” This we also ask of Him that his Name may be hallowed in us; for Holy is it always. And how is His Name hallowed in us, except while it makes us holy. For once we were not holy, and we are made holy by His Name; but He is always Holy, and His Name always Holy. It is for ourselves, not for God, that we pray. For we do not wish well to God, to whom no ill can ever happen. But we wish what is good for ourselves, that His Holy Name may be hallowed, that that which is always Holy, may be hallowed in us.
5. “Thy kingdom come.”4 Come it surely will, whether we ask or no. Indeed, God hath an eternal kingdom. For when did He not reign? When did He begin to reign? For His kingdom hath no beginning, neither shall it have any end. But that we may know that in this prayer also we pray for ourselves, and not for God (for we do not say, “Thy kingdom come,” as though we were asking that God may reign); we shall be ourselves His kingdom, if believing in Him we make progress in this filth. All the faithful, redeemed by the Blood of His Only Son, will be His kingdom. And this His kingdom will come, when the resurrection of the dead shall have taken place; for then He will come Himself. And when the dead are risen, He will divide them, as He Himself saith, “and He shall set some on the right hand, and some on the left.”5 To those who shall be on the right hand He will say, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom.” This is what we wish and pray for when we say, “Thy kingdom come;” that it may come to us. For if we shall be reprobates, that kingdom will come to others, but not to us. But if we shall be of that number, who belong to the members of His Only-begotten Son, His kingdom will come to us, and will not tarry. For are there as many ages yet remaining, as have already passed away? The Apostle John hath said, “My little children, it is the last hour.”6 But it is a long hour proportioned to this long day; and see how many years this last hour lasteth. But nevertheless, be ye as those who watch, and so sleep, and rise again, and reign. Let us watch now, let us sleep in death; at the end we shall rise again, and shall reign without end.
6. “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.”7 The third thing we pray for is, that His will may be done as in heaven so in earth. And in this too we wish well for ourselves. For the will of God must necessarily be done. It is the will of God that the good should reign, and the wicked be damned. Is it possible that this will should not be done? But what good do we wish for ourselves, when we say, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth”? Give ear. For this petition may be understood in many ways, and many things are to be in our thoughts in this petition, when we pray God, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” As Thy Angels offend Thee not, so may we also not offend Thee. Again, how is “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth,” understood? All the holy Patriarchs, all the Prophets, all the Apostles, all the spiritual are as it were God’s heaven; and we in comparison of them are earth. “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth;” as in them, so in us also. Again, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth;” the Church of God is heaven, His enemies are earth. So we wish well for our enemies, that they too may believe and become Christians, and so the will of God be done, as in heaven, so also in earth. Again, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Our spirit is heaven, and the flesh earth. As our spirit is renewed by believing, so may our flesh be renewed by rising again; and “the will of God be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Again, our mind whereby we see truth, and delight in this truth, is heaven; as, “I delight in the law of God, after the inward man.” What is the earth? “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind?”8 When this strife shall have passed away, and a full concord brought about of the flesh and spirit, the will of God will be done as in heaven, so also in earth. When we repeat this petition, let us think of all these things, and ask them all of the Father. Now all these things which we have mentioned, these three petitions, beloved, have respect to the life eternal. For if the Name of our God is sanctified in us, it will be for eternity. If His kingdom come, where we shall live for ever, it will be for eternity. If His will be done as in heaven, so in earth, in all the ways which I have explained, it will be for eternity.
7. There remain now the petitions for this life of our pilgrimage; therefore follows, “Give us this day our daily bread.”9 Give us eternal things, give us things temporal. Thou hast promised a kingdom, deny us not the means of subsistence. Thou wilt give everlasting glory with Thyself hereafter, give us in this earth temporal support. Therefore is it “day by day,” and “to-day,” that is, in this present time. For when this life shall have passed away, shall we ask for daily bread then? For then it will not be called, “day by day,” but “to-day.” Now it is called, “day by day,” when one day passes away, and another day succeeds. Will it be called “day by day,” when there will be one eternal day? This petition for daily bread is doubtless to be understood in two ways, both for the necessary supply of our bodily food, and for the necessities of our spiritual support. There is a necessary supply of bodily food, for the preservation of our daily life, without which we cannot live. This is food and clothing, but the whole is understood in a part. When we ask for bread, we thereby understand all things. There is a spiritual10 food also which the faithful know, which ye too will know, when ye shall receive it at the altar of God. This also is “daily Bread,” necessary only for this life. For shall we receive the Eucharist when we shall have come to Christ Himself, and begun to reign with Him for ever? So then the Eucharist is our daily bread; but let us in such wise receive it, that we be not refreshed in our bodies only, but in our souls. For the virtue which is apprehended there, is unity, that gathered together into His body, and made His members, we may be what we receive. Then will it be indeed our daily bread. Again, what I am handling before you now is “daily bread;” and the daily lessons which ye hear in church, are daily bread, and the hymns ye hear and repeat are daily bread. For all these are necessary in our state of pilgrimage. But when we shall have got to heaven, shall we hear the word,11 we who shall see the Word Himself, and hear the Word Himself, and eat and drink Him as the angels do now? Do the angels need books, and interpreters, and readers? Surely not. They read in seeing, for the Truth Itself they see, and are abundantly satisfied from that fountain, from which we obtain some few12 drops. Therefore has it been said touching our daily bread, that this petition is necessary for us in this life.
8. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”13 Is this necessary except in this life? For in the other we shall have no debts. For what are debts, but sins? See, ye are on the point of being baptized, then all your sins will be blotted out, none whatever will remain. Whatever evil ye have ever done, in deed, or word, or desire, or thought, all will be blotted out. And yet if in the life which is after Baptism there were security from sin, we should not learn such a prayer as this, “Forgive us our debts.” Only let us by all means do what comes next, “As we forgive our debtors.” Do ye then who are about to enter in to receive a plenary and entire remission of your debts, do ye above all things see that ye have nothing in your hearts against any other, so as to come forth from Baptism secure, as it were free and discharged of all debts, and then begin to purpose to avenge yourselves on your enemies, who in time past have done you wrong. Forgive, as ye are forgiven. God can do no one wrong, and yet He forgiveth who oweth nothing. How then ought he to forgive, who is himself forgiven, when He forgiveth all, who oweth nothing that can be forgiven Him?
9. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”14 Will this again be necessary in the life to come? “Lead us not into temptation,” will not be said, except where there can be temptation. We read in the book of holy Job, “Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation?”15 What then do we pray for? Hear what. The Apostle James saith, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.”16 He spoke of those evil temptations, whereby men are deceived, and brought under the yoke of the devil. This is the kind of temptation he spoke of. For there is another sort of temptation which is called a proving; of this kind of temptation it is written, “The Lord your God tempteth (proveth) you to know whether ye love Him.”17 What means “to know”? “To make you know,” for He knoweth already. With that kind of temptation, whereby we are deceived and seduced, God tempteth no man. But undoubtedly in His deep and hidden judgment He abandons some. And when He hath abandoned them, the tempter finds his opportunity. For he finds in him no resistance against his power, but forthwith presents himself to him as his possessor, if God abandon him. Therefore that He may not abandon us, do we say, “Lead us not into temptation.” “For every one is tempted,” says the same Apostle James, “when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”18 What then has he hereby taught us? To fight against our lusts. For ye are about to put away your sins in Holy Baptism; but lusts will still remain, wherewith ye must fight after that ye are regenerate. For a conflict with your own selves still remains. Let no enemy from without be feared: conquer thine own self, and the whole world is conquered. What can any tempter from without, whether the devil or the devil’s minister, do against thee? Whosoever sets the hope of gain before thee to seduce thee, let him only find no covetousness in thee; and what can he who would tempt thee by gain effect? Whereas if covetousness be found in thee, thou takest fire at the sight of gain, and art taken by the bait of this corrupt food.19 But if he find no covetousness in thee, the trap remains spread in vain. Or should the tempter set before thee some woman of surpassing beauty; if chastity be within, iniquity from without is overcome. Therefore that he may not take thee with the bait of a strange woman’s beauty, fight with thine own lust within; thou hast no sensible perception of thine enemy, but of thine own concupiscence thou hast. Thou dost not see the devil, but the object that engageth thee thou dost see. Get the mastery then over that of which thou art sensible within. Fight valiantly, for He who hath regenerated thee is thy Judge; He hath arranged the lists, He is making ready the crown. But because thou wilt without doubt be conquered, if thou have not Him to aid thee, if He abandon thee: therefore dost thou say in the prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.” The Judge’s wrath hath given over some to their own lusts; and the Apostle says, “God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts.”20 How did He give them up? Not by forcing, but by forsaking them.
10. “Deliver us from evil,” may belong to the same sentence. Therefore, that thou mayest understand it to be all one sentence, it runs thus, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Therefore he added “but,” to show that all this belongs to one sentence, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” How is this? I will propose them singly. “Lead By delivering us from evil, He leadeth us not into temptation; by not leading us into temptation, He delivereth us from evil.
11. And truly it is a great temptation, dearly beloved, it is a great temptation in this life, when that in us is the subject of temptation, whereby we attain21 pardon, if in any of our temptations we have fallen. It is a frightful temptation, when that is taken from us, whereby we may be healed from the wounds of other temptations. I know that ye have not yet understood me. Give me your attention, that ye may understand. Suppose avarice tempts a man, and he is conquered in any single temptation (for sometimes even a good wrestler and fighter may get roughly handled22 ): avarice then has got the better of a man, good wrestler though he be, and he has done some avaricious act. Or there has been a passing lust; it has not brought the man to fornication, nor reached unto adultery, for when this does take place, the man must at all events be kept back from the criminal act. But he “hath seen a woman to lust after her;”23 he has let his thoughts dwell on her with more pleasure than was right; he has admitted the attack; excellent combatant though he be, he has been wounded, but he has not consented to it; he has beaten back the motion of his lust, has chastised it with the bitterness of grief, he has beaten it back; and has prevailed. Still in the very fact that he had slipped, has he ground for saying, “Forgive us our debts.” And so of all other temptations, it is a hard matter that in them all there should not be occasion for saying, “Forgive us our debts.” What then is that frightful temptation which I have mentioned, that grievous, that tremendous temptation, which must be avoided with all our strength, with all our resolution; what is it? When we go about to avenge ourselves. Anger is kindled, and the man burns to be avenged. O frightful temptation! Thou art losing that, whereby thou hadst to attain pardon for other faults. If thou hadst committed any sin as to other senses, and other lusts, hence mightest thou have had thy cure, in that thou mightest say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” But whoso instigateth thee to take vengeance, will lose for thee the power thou hadst to say, “As we also forgive our debtors.” When that power is lost, all sins will be retained; nothing at all is remitted.
12. Our Lord and Master, and Saviour, knowing this dangerous temptation in this life, when He taught us six or seven petitions in this Prayer, took none of them for Himself to treat of, and to commend to us with greater earnestness, than this one. Have we not said, “Our Father, which art in heaven;” and the rest which follows? Why after the conclusion of the Prayer, did He not enlarge upon it to us, either as to what He had laid down in the beginning, or concluded with at the end, or placed in the middle? For why said He not, if the Name of God be not hallowed in you, or if ye have no part in the kingdom of God, or if the will of God be not done in you, as in heaven, or if God guard you not, that ye enter not into temptation; why none of all these? but what saith He? “Verily I say unto you, that if ye forgive men their trespasses;”24 in reference to that petition, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Having passed over all the other petitions which He taught us, this He taught us with an especial force. There was no need of insisting25 so much upon those sins in which if a man offend, he may know the means whereby he may be cured: need of it there was, with regard to that sin in which if thou sin, there is no means whereby the rest can be cured. For this thou oughtest to be ever saying, “Forgive us our debts.” What debts? There is no lack of them; for we are but men; I have talked somewhat more than I ought, have said something I ought not, have laughed more than I ought, have eaten more than I ought, have listened with pleasure to what I ought not, have drunk more than I ought, have seen with pleasure what I ought not, have thought with pleasure on what I ought not; “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” This if thou hast lost, thou art lost thyself.
13. Take heed, my brethren, my sons, sons of God, take heed, I beseech you, in that I am saying to you. Fight to the uttermost of your powers with your own hearts. And if ye shall see your anger making a stand against you, pray to God against it, that God may make thee conqueror of thyself, that God may make thee conqueror, I say, not of thine enemy without, but of thine own soul within. For He will give thee His present help, and will do it. He would rather that we ask this of Him, than rain. For ye see, beloved, how many petitions the Lord Christ hath taught us; and there is scarce found among them one which speaks of daily bread, that all our thoughts may be moulded after the life to come? For what can we fear that He will not give us, who hath promised and said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you; for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things before ye ask Him. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”26 For many have been tried even with hunger, and have been found gold, and have not been forsaken by God. They would have perished with hunger, if the daily inward bread were to leave their heart. After this let us chiefly hunger. For, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”27 But He can in mercy look upon our infirmity, and see us, as it is said, “Remember that we are dust.”28 He who from the dust made and quickened man, for that His work of clay’s sake, gave His Only Son to death. Who can explain, who can worthily so much as conceive, how much He loveth us?
1 (Jl 2,32 Rm 10,13
2 (Rm 10,14-15.
3 (Mt 6,9).
4 (Mt 6,10
5 (Mt 25,33
6 (1Jn 2,18 Vulgate).
7 (Mt 6,10
8 (Rm 7,22-23.
9 (Mt 6,11
10 See Sermon 6,(lvi. Bened). 10 and note.
13 (Mt 6,12
14 (Mt 6,13
15 (Jb 7,1 Sept.; peirathrivon.
16 (Jc 1,13
17 (Dt 13,3).
18 (Jc 1,14-15.
19 Vitiosae escae laqueo.
20 (Rm 1,24 Vulgate.
23 (Mt 5,28).
24 (Mt 6,14
26 (Mt 6,53
27 (Mt 5,6
28 (Ps 102,14 Sept. (ciii. English version).
58 Again on the Lord’s prayer, Mt 6. To the Competentes.
1. You have just repeated the Creed, where in brief summary is contained the Faith. I have already before now told you what the Apostle Paul says, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”1 Because then you have both heard, and learnt, and repeated how you must believe in God; hear to-day how He must be called upon. The Son Himself, as you heard when the Gospel was read, taught His disciples and His faithful ones this Prayer. Good hope have we of obtaining our cause, when such an Advocate2 hath dictated our suit. The Assessor of the Father, as you have confessed, who sitteth on the right hand of the Father; He is our Advocate who is to be our Judge. For from thence will He come to judge the quick and dead. Learn then, this Prayer also which you will have to repeat in eight days time. But whosoever of you have not repeated the Creed well, have yet time enough, let them learn it; because on the Sabbath day3 in the hearing of all who shall be present, you will have to repeat it: on the last4 Sabbath day, when you will be here to be baptized. But in eight days from to-day will you have to repeat this Prayer, which you have heard to-day.
2. Of which the first clause is, “Our Father, which art in heaven.”5 We have found then a Father in heaven; let us take good heed how we live on earth. For he who hath found such a Father, ought so to live that he may be worthy to come to his inheritance. But we say all in common, “Our Father.” How great a condescension! This the emperor says, and this says the beggar: this says the slave, and this his lord. They say all together, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Therefore do they understand that they are brethren, seeing they have one Father. Now let not the lord disdain to have his slave for a brother, seeing the Lord Christ has vouch-safed to have him for a brother.
3. “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come.”6 This hallowing of God’s Name is that whereby we are made holy. For His Name is always Holy. We wish also for His kingdom to come; come it will, though we wish it not; but to wish and pray that His kingdom may come, is nothing else than to wish of Him, that He wouldmake us worthy of His kingdom, lest haply, which God forbid, it should come, and not come to us. For to many that will never come, which nevertheless must come. For to them will it come, to whom it shall be said, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”7 But it will not come to them to whom it shall be said,“Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.”8 Therefore when we say, “Thy kingdom come,” we pray that it may come to us. What is, “may come to us”? May find us good. This we pray for then, that He would make us good; for then to us will His kingdom come.
4. We go on, “Thy will be done as in heaven so in earth.”9 The Angels serve Thee in heaven, may we serve Thee in earth! The Angels do not offend Thee in heaven, may we not offend Thee in earth! As they do Thy will, so may we do it also! And here what do we pray for, but that we may be good? For when we do God’s will (for He without doubt doeth His own will), then is His will done in us. And we may understand in another and a right sense these words, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” We receive the commandment of God, and it is well-pleasing to us, well-pleasing to our mind. “For we delight in the law of God after the inward man.”10 Then is His will done in heaven. For our spirit is compared to heaven, but to the earth our flesh. What then is “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth”? That as Thy command is well-pleasing to our mind, so may our flesh consent thereto; and so that strife be ended which is described by the Apostle, “for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”11 When the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, His will is even now done in heaven; when the flesh lusteth not against the Spirit, His will is now done in earth. There will be harmony complete when He will; be then the contest now, that there may be victory hereafter. Thus again, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth,” may be well understood, by making “heaven” to be the Church, because it is the throne12 of God; and “earth” the unbelievers, to whom it is said, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shall thou go.”13 When therefore we pray for our enemies, for the enemies of the Church, the enemies of the Christian name, we pray that His will may be done “as in heaven, so in earth,” that is, as in Thy faithful ones, so in Thy blasphemers also, that they all may become “heaven.”
5. There follows next, “Give us this day our daily bread.”14 It may be understood simply that we pour forth this prayer for daily sustenance, that we may have abundance: or if not that, that we may have no want. Now he said “daily,” for as long as it is called “to-day.”15 Daily we live, and daily rise, and are daily fed, and daily hunger. May He then give us daily bread. Why did He not say “covering” too, for the support of our life is in meat and drink, our covering in raiment and lodging. Man should desire nothing more than these. Forasmuch as the Apostle saith, “We brought nothing into this world, neither can we carry anything out: having food and covering,16 let us be therewith content.”17 Perish covetousness, and nature is rich. Therefore if this prayer have reference to our daily sustenance, since this is a good understanding of the words, “Give us this day our daily bread;” let us not marvel, if under the name of bread other necessary things are also understood. As when Joseph invited his brethren, “These men,” saith he, “will eat bread with me to-day.”18 Why, were they to eat bread only? No, but in the mention of bread only, all the rest was understood. So when we pray for daily bread, we ask for whatever is necessary for us in earth for our bodies’ sake. But what saith the Lord Jesus? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”19 Again, this is a very good sense of, “Give us this day our daily bread,” thy Eucharist, our daily food. For the faithful know what they receive, and good for them it is to receive that daily bread which is necessary for this time present. They pray then for themselves, that they may become good, that they may persevere in goodness, and faith, and a holy life. This do they wish, this they pray for; for if they persevere not in this good life, they will be separated from that Bread. Therefore, “Give us this dayour daily bread.” What is this? Let us live so,that we be not separated from Thy altar. Again, the Word of God which is laid open to us, and in a manner broken day by day, is “daily bread.” And as our bodies hunger after that other, so do our souls after this bread. And so we both askfor this bread simply, and whatsoever is in this life needful both for our souls and bodies, is included in “daily bread.”
6. “Forgive us our debts,”20 we say, and we may well say so; for we say the truth. For who is he that lives here in the flesh, and hath no debts? What man is there that lives so, that this prayer is not necessary for him? He may puff himself up, justify himself he cannot. It were well for him to imitate the Publican, and not swell as the Pharisee, “who went up into the temple,”21 and boasted of his deserts, and covered up his wounds. Whereas he who said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,”22 knew wherefore he went up. This prayer the Lord Jesus, consider, my brethren, this prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to offer, those great first Apostles of His, the leaders of our flock.23 If the leaders of the flock then pray for the remission of their sins, what ought the lambs to do, of whom it is said, “Bring young rams unto the Lord”?24 You knew then that you have repeated this in the Creed, because amongst the rest you have mentioned there “the remission of sins.” There is one remission of sins which is given once for all; another which is given day by day. There is one remission of sins which is given once for all in Holy Baptism; another which is given as long as we live here in the Lord’s Prayer. Wherefore we say, “Forgive us our debts.”
7. And God has brought us into a covenant, and agreement, and a firm bond25 with Him, in that we say, “as we also forgive our debtors.” He who would say it effectually, “Forgive us our debts,” must say truly, “as we also forgive our debtors.”26 If this which is last he either say not, or say deceitfully, the other which is first he says in vain. We say to you then especially who are approaching to Holy Baptism, from your hearts forgive everything. And ye faithful, who taking advantage of this occasion are listening to this prayer, and our exposition of it, do ye wholly and from your hearts forgive whatsoever ye have against any. Forgive it there where God seeth. For sometimes a man remittethwith the mouth, and in the heart retaineth; he remitteth with the mouth for men’s sake, and retaineth in the heart, as not fearing the eyes of God. But do ye remit entirely. Whatever ye have retained up to these holy days,27 in these holy days at least remit. “The sun ought not to go down upon your wrath,”28 yet many suns have passed. Let then your wrath at length pass away also, now that we are celebrating the days of the great Sun, of that Sun of which Scripture saith, “Unto you shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.”29 What is, “in His wings”? In His protection. Whence it is said in the Psalms,” Keep me under the shadow of Thy wings.”30 But as to others who in the day of judgment shall repent, but all too late, and who shall mourn, yet unavailingly, it hath been foretold by Wisdom what they shall then say as they repent and groan for anguish of spirit, “What hath pride profited us, or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? All these things are passed away like a shadow.” And, “Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the Sun of righteousness rose not upon us.”31 That Sun riseth upon the righteous only; but this sun which we see, God “maketh,” daily “to rise upon the good and evil.”32 The righteous attain to the seeing of that Sun; and that Sun dwelleth now in our hearts by faith. If then thou art angry, let not this sun go down in thine heart upon thy wrath; “Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath;” lest haply thou be angry, and so the Sun of righteousness go down upon thee, and thou abide in darkness.
8. Now do not think that anger is nothing. “Mine eye was disordered because of anger,”33 saith the Prophet. Surely he whose eye is disordered cannot see the sun; and if he should try. to see it, it were pain, and no pleasure tohim. And what is anger? The lust of vengeance. A man lusteth to be avenged, and Christ is not yet avenged, the holy martyrs are not yet avenged. Still doth the patience ofGod wait, that the enemies of Christ, the enemies of the martyrs, may be converted. And who are we, that we should seek for vengeance? If God should seek it at our hands, where should we abide? He who hath never in any matter done us harm, doth not wish to avengeHimself of us; and do we seek to be avenged, who are almost daily offending God? Forgive therefore; from the heart forgive. If thou art angry, yet sin not. “Be ye angry, and sin not.”34 Be ye angry as being but men, if so be ye are overcome by it; yet sin not, so as to retain anger in your heart (for if ye do retain it, ye retain it against yourselves), lest ye enter not into that Light. Therefore forgive. What then is anger? The lust of vengeance. And what is hatred? Inveterate anger. If anger become inveterate, it is then called hatred. And this he seems to acknowledge, who when he had said, “Mine eye is disordered because of anger;” added, “I have become inveterate among all mine enemies.”35 What was anger when it was new, became hatred when it was turned into long continuance.36 Anger is a “mote,” hatred, a “beam.” We sometimes find fault with one who is angry, yet we retain hatred in our own hearts; and so Christ saith to us, “Thou seest the mote in thy brother’s eye, and seest not the beam in thine own eye.”37 How grew the mote into a beam? Because it was not at once plucked out. Because thou didst suffer the sun to rise and go down so often upon thy wrath, and madest it inveterate, because thou contractedst evil suspicions, and wateredst the mote, and by watering hast nourished it, and by nourishing it, hast made it a beam. Tremble then at least when it is said, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”38 Thou hast not drawn the sword, nor inflicted any bodily wound, nor by any blow killed another; the thought only of hatred is in thy heart, and hereby art thou held to be a murderer, guilty art thou before the eyes of God. The other man is alive, and yet thou hast killed him. As far as thou art concerned, thou hast killed the man whom thou hatest. Reform then, and amend thyself, If scorpions or adders were in your houses, how would ye toil to purify them, that ye might be able to dwell in safety? Yet are ye angry, yea inveterate anger is in your hearts, and there grow so many hatreds, so many beams, so many scorpions, so many vipers, and will ye not then purify the house of God, your heart? Do then what is said, “As we also forgive our debtors;” and so say securely,” Forgive us our debts.” For without debts in this earth ye cannot live; but those great crimes which it is your blessing to have been forgiven in Baptism, and from which we ought to be ever free, are of one sort, and of another are those daily sins, without which a man cannot live in this world, by reason of which this daily prayer with its covenant and agreement is necessary; that as we say with all cheerfulness, “Forgive us our debts;” so we may say with all truth, “As we also forgive our debtors.” So much then have we said as touching past sins; what now for the future?
9. “Lead us not into temptation:”39 forgive what we have done already, and grant that we may not commit any more sins. For whosoever is overcome by temptation, committeth sin. Thus the Apostle James saith, “Let no man say when he is tempted, he is tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, whenhe is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”40 Therefore that thou be not drawn away by thy lust; consent not to it. It hath no means of conceiving, but by thee. Thou hast consented, hast as it were in thine heart admitted41 her embrace. Lust has risen up, deny thyself to her,follow her not. It is a lust unlawful, impure, and shameful, it will alienate thee from God. Give it not then the embrace of thy consent, lest thou have to bewail the birth; for if thou consent, that is, when thou hast embraced her, she conceives, “and when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” Dost thou not yet fear? “Sinbringeth forth death;” at least, fear death. If thou fear not sin, yet fear that whereunto it leads. Sin is sweet; but death is bitter. This is the infelicity of men; that for which they sin, they leave here when they die, and the sin themselves they carry with them. Thou dost sin for money, it must be left here: or for a country seat; it must be left here: or for some woman’s sake; she must be left here; and whatsoever it be for which thou dost sin, when thou shalt have closed thine eyes in death, thou must leave it here; yet the sin itself which thou committest, thou carriest with thee.
10. May sins then be forgiven; the past forgiven, and the future cease. But without them there below thou canst not live; be they either lesser sins, or small, or trivial. Yet let not even these small and trivial sins be despised. With little drops is the river filled. Let not even the lesser sins be despised. Through narrow chinks in the ship the water oozes in,42 the hold keeps filling, and if it be disregarded the ship is sunk. But the sailors are not idle; their hands are active,43 —active that the water may be drained off from day to day. So be thy hands active, that thou mayest pump from day to day. What is the meaning of” be thy hands active”? Let them give, do good works, so be thy hands engaged “Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor and houseless into thine house; if thou seest the naked, clothe him.”44 Do all thou canst, do it with the means thou canst command, do it cheerfully, and so put up thy prayer with confidence. It will have two wings, a double alms. What is “a double alms”? “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given unto you.”45 The one alms is that which is done from the heart, when thou forgivest thy brother his sin. The other alms is that which is done out of thy substance, when thou dealest bread to the poor. Offer both, lest without either wing thy prayer remain motionless.
11. Therefore when we have said, “Lead us not into temptation,” there follows, “But deliver us from evil.” Now whoso wishes to be delivered from evil, bears witness that he is in evil. And thus saith the Apostle, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”46 But who is there “that wisheth for life, and loveth to see good days”?47 Seeing that all men in this flesh have only evil days; who doth not wish it? Do thou what follows, “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile: depart from evil, and do good, seek peace, and ensue it;”48 and then thou hast got rid of evil days, and thy prayer, “deliver us from evil,” is fulfilled.
12. Therefore the three first petitions, “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth,” are for eternity. But the four following relate to this life, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Shall we ask day by day for daily bread, when we shall have come to that fulness of blessing? “Forgive us our debts.” Shall we say this in that kingdom, when we shall have no debts? “Lead us not into temptation.” Shall we be able to say this then, when there will be no temptation? “Deliver us from evil.” Shall we say this, when there shall be nothing from which to be delivered? Therefore these four are necessary, because of our daily life, but the three first in reference to the life eternal. But all things let us ask, with a view of attaining to that life, and let us pray here, that we be not separated from it. Every day must this prayer be said by you, when you are baptized. For the Lord’s Prayer is said daily in the Church before the Altar of God, and the faithful hear it. We have no fear therefore as to your not learning it carefully, because even if any of you should be unable to get it perfectly, he will learn it by hearing it day by day.
13. Therefore on the Saturday49 when by thegrace of God you will keep the Vigil, you will have to repeat not the Prayer, but the Creed.For if you do not know the Creed now, you will not hear that every day in the Church, grad among the people. But when you have learnt it, that you may not forget it, say it every day when you rise; when you are preparing for sleep, rehearse your Creed, to the Lord rehearse it, remind yourselves of it, and be not weary of repeating it. For repetition is useful, lest forgetfulness steal over you. Do not say, “I said it yesterday, I have said it today, I say it every day, I know it perfectly well.” Call thy faith to mind, look into thyself, let thy Creed be as it were a mirror to thee. Therein see thyself, whether thou dost believe all which thou professest to believe, and so rejoice day by day in thy faith. Let it be thy wealth, let it be in a sort the daily clothing of thy soul. Dost thou not always dress thyself when thou risest? So by the daily repetition of thy Creed dress thy soul, lest haply forgetfulness make it bare, and thou remain naked, and that take place which the Apostle saith, (may it be far from thee!) “If so be that being unclothed,50 we shall not be found naked.”51 For we shall be clothed by our faith: and this faith is at once a garment and a breastplate; a garment against shame, a breastplate against adversity. But when we shall have arrived at that place where we shall reign, no need will there be to say the Creed. We shall see God; God Himself will be our vision; the vision of God will be the reward of our present faith.
1 (Rm 10,14
3 Easter Eve.
4 i.e. in Lent.
5 (Mt 6,9).
6 (Mt 6,9-10.
7 (Mt 25,34
8 (Mt 25,41
9 (Mt 6,10
10 (Rm 7,22
11 (Ga 5,17
13 (Gn 3,19 Sept.
14 (Mt 6,11
15 (He 3,13
16 Tegumentum; skepavsmata.
17 (1Tm 6,7-8.
18 (Gn 43,16 Sept.
19 (Mt 6,33).
20 (Mt 6,12
21 (Lc 18,10-11.
22 (Lc 18,13
23 Arietes nostros.
24 (Ps 28,1 Sept. (xxix. English version).
26 (Mt 6,12
27 The Feast of Easter, the great season for baptizing. See Bingham, 11,6, 7.
28 (Ep 4,26
29 (Ml 4,2
30 (Ps 17,8
31 (Sg 5,8 Sg 9,6.
32 (Mt 5,45
33 (Ps 6,8 Sept. (vi. 7, English version).
34 (Ps 4,5 Sept. (iv. 4, English version)).
35 (Ps 6,8 Sept. (vi. 7, English version).
37 (Mt 7,3
38 (1Jn 3,15
39 (Mt 6,13
40 (Jc 1,13 etc.
42 Insudat aqua.
44 (Is 58,7 Sept.
45 (Lc 6,37-38).
46 Ep 5,16.
47 (Ps 34,12
48 (Ps 34,13-14.
49 Easter Eve. See Bingham, 21,1, 32.
50 The reading of D. F. G., some Mss. ap. Chrys. and Ambr. Ar.Pol. Vet. Lat. Tert. Paulin, Macar, ap. Mill. Auct. quaestt. V. T. St. Augustin’s present text has elsewhere “induti” (see (Sabat).; but the text of the Fathers is often involuntarily conformed to the Vulgate.
51 (2Co 5,3
Augustine on NT 57