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