Augustine: Who Will Enable Me to Find Rest in You?

Who will enable me to find rest in you? Who will grant me that you come to my heart and intoxicate it, so that I forget my evils and embrace my one and only good, yourself? What are you to me?

Have mercy so that I may find words. What am I to you that you command me to love you, and that, if I fail to love you, you are angry with me and threaten me with vast miseries? If I do not love you, is that but a little misery? What a wretch I am! In your mercies, Lord God, tell me what you are to me. ‘Say to my soul, I am your salvation’ (Ps. 34: 3). Speak to me so that I may hear. See the ears of my heart are before you, Lord. Open them and ‘say to my soul, I am your salvation.’ After that utterance I will run and lay hold on you. Do not hide your face from me (cf. Ps. 26: 9). Lest I die, let me die so that I may see it.

-Augustine, Confessions, Book I, v.

Augustine: Who Are You, my God?

Who then are you, my God? What, I ask, but God who is Lord? For ‘who is the Lord but the Lord’, or ‘who is God but our God?’ (Ps. 17:32). Most high, utterly good, utterly powerful, most omnipotent, most merciful and most just, deeply hidden yet most intimately present, perfection of both beauty and strength,stable and incomprehensible, immutable and yet changing all things, never new, never old, making everything new and ‘leading’ the proud ‘to be
old without their knowledge’ (Job 9:5, Old Latin version); always active, always in repose, gathering to yourself but not in need, supporting and filling and protecting, creating and nurturing and bringing to maturity, searching even though to you nothing is lacking: you love without burning, you are jealous in a way that is free of anxiety, you ‘repent’ (Gen. 6:6) without the pain of regret, you are wrathful and remain tranquil. You will a change without any change in your design. You recover what you find, yet have never lost.

Never in any need, you rejoice in your gains (Luke 15:7); you are never avaricious, yet you require interest (Matt. 25:27). We pay you more than you require so as to make you our debtor, yet who has anything which does not belong to you? (1 Cor. 4: 7).

You pay off debts, though owing nothing to anyone; you cancel debts and incur no loss. But in these words what have I said, my God, my life, my holy sweetness? What has anyone achieved in words when he speaks about you? Yet woe to those who are silent about you because, though loquacious with verbosity,’ they have nothing to say.

-Augustine, Confessions, Book I, iv.

Augustine: Calling Upon God

‘You are great, Lord, and highly to be praised (Ps. 47: 2): great is your power and your wisdom is immeasurable’ (Ps. 146:5). Man, a little piece of your creation, desires to praise you, a human being ‘bearing his mortality with him’ (2 Cor. 4:10), carrying with him the witness of his sin and the witness that you ‘resist the proud’ (I Pet. 5:5).

Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.

‘Grant me Lord to know and understand’ (Ps. 118:34, 73, 144) which comes first—to call upon you or to praise you, and whether knowing you precedes calling upon you. But who calls upon you when he does not know you? For an ignorant person might call upon someone else instead of the right one. But surely you may be called upon in prayer that you may be known. Yet ‘how shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe without a preacher?’ (Rom. 10: 14). ‘They will praise the Lord who seek for him’ (Ps. 21: 27). In seeking him they find him, and in finding they will praise him.

Lord, I would seek you, calling upon you—and calling upon you is an act of believing in you. You have been preached to us. My faith, Lord, calls upon you. It is your gift to me. You breathed it into me by the humanity of your Son, by the ministry of your preacher.

How shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord? Surely when I call on him, I am calling on him to come into me, But what place is there in me where my God can enter into me? ‘God made heaven and earth’ (Gen. 1:1). Where may he come to me? Lord my God, is there any room in me which can contain you? Can heaven and earth, which you have made and in which you have made me, contain you? Without you, whatever exists would not exist. Then can what exists contain you? I also have being. So why do I request you to come to me when, unless you were within me, I would have no being at all?

-Augustine, Confessions, Book I, i.

Augustine and Piper: Loving Things Other Than God for God’s Sake

“He loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee which he loves not for Thy sake.” -Augustine

“What Augustine showed me was that there is a way to delight in God’s creation that is not for its sake but for God’s sake. Discovering how to do that is the secret of not committing idolatry on moonlight nights and beside sparkling morning lakes and over biyearly catfish feasts.” -John Piper

Augustine: Peter’s Exhortation

What else does the Lord’s passion present us with in our head, but supremely the tests and trials of this life? That is why, as the time of his death drew near, Christ said to Peter, “Satan has asked for you all to sift you like wheat. And I have prayed, Peter, for you, that your faith should not fall. Go and strengthen your brothers” (v. 31–32).

Peter certainly has strengthened us by his apostolate, martyrdom, and letters. In them he also instructed us to be carefully vigilant, having the consolation of prophecy like a light in the night. “We have,” he said, “the more certain prophetic word, to which you do well to attend, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your heart” (2 Peter 1:19).

-Augustine, Sermon 210:6

Give God the Glory

“If then he, one with the Father, equal to the Father, God from God, God with God, co-eternal, immortal, equally unchanging, equally timeless, equally creator and disposer of times, if he because he came in time, took the form of a slave, and was found in appearance as a man (Phil 2:7), then he seeks his Father’s glory, not his own. What should you, O man, do, you who seek your own glory whenever you do anything good, while when you do something bad, you figure out ways to blame God?

Take a look at yourself; you are a creature, acknowledge the creator; you are a slave, do not distain the master; you have been adopted, but not on your merits. Seek the glory of the one from whom you have received this grace, O adopted child, seek the glory of the one whose glory was sought by his only true born Son.”

-Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John 1-40, Homily 29. Translated by Edmund Hill (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2009), 495.