Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library
St. Augustine

IntraText CT - Text

Previous - Next

Click here to hide the links to concordance

CHAPTER XXVIII - The Destiny of Man

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 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.

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"
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 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.

229 Another 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.

230 Again, a wordplay between posset non mori and non possit mori.

231 Prov. 8:35 (LXX).

232 Rom. 6:23.

233 Cf. John 1:16.

234 Rom. 9:21.

235 1 Tim. 2:5 (mixed text).

Previous - Next

Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library

Best viewed with any browser at 800x600 or 768x1024 on Tablet PC
IntraText® (V89) - Some rights reserved by EuloTech SRL - 1996-2007. Content in this page is licensed under a Creative Commons License