Enchiridion On Faith, Hope and Love
by Saint Augustine
CAUSES OF SIN
I shall now mention what I have often discussed before in other
short treatises.186 We
sin from two causes: either from not seeing what we ought
do, or else from not doing what we have already seen we ought to do.
the first is ignorance of the evil; the second, weakness.
must surely fight against both; but we shall as surely be defeated
are divinely helped, not only to see what we ought to do, but also,
increases, to make our love of righteousness victor over our love of
18:20 (Vulgate with one change).
example, Contra Faust., XXII, 78; De pecc. meritis et
remissione, I, xxxix, 70; ibid., II, xxii, 26;
in Heptateuch, 4:24; De libero arbitrio, 3:18, 55; De
div. quaest., 83:26; De natura et gratia,
Contra duas ep. Pelag., I:3, 7; I:13:27.
because of which--either by desiring to possess them or by fearing to
fall, open-eyed, into known sin. In this latter case, we are not only
we are even when we sin through ignorance--but also lawbreakers:
we do not do what we should, and we do what we know already we should
we should pray for pardon if we have sinned, as we do when we
"Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors." But
we should also pray
God should guide us away from sin, and this we do when we say, "Lead
temptation"--and we should make our petitions to Him of whom it
is said in the
"The Lord is my light and my salvation"187;
that, as Light, he may take away
ignorance, as Salvation, our weakness.
Now, penance itself is often omitted because of weakness, even when
custom there is an adequate reason why it should be performed. For
the fear of displeasing men, when a man loves their good opinion more
judgment, which would make him humble himself in penitence.
only for one to repent, but also in order that he may be enabled to
do so, the
of God is prerequisite. Otherwise, the apostle would not say of some
God giveth them repentance."188
And, similarly, that Peter might be enabled to
bitterly, the Evangelist tells, "The Lord looked at him."189
But the man who does not believe that sins are forgiven in the
despises so great a bounty of the divine gifts and ends, and persists
to his last
in such an obstinacy of mind--that man is guilty of the unpardonable
the Holy Spirit, in whom Christ forgiveth sins.190
I have discussed this
question, as clearly as I could, in a little book devoted exclusively