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Enchiridion On Faith, Hope and Love
by Saint Augustine


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

223I Tim. 2:1.

224I Tim. 2:2.

225I Tim. 2:3.

226I Tim. 2:4.

227Luke 11:42.

228Ps. 135:6.


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.230

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"233?

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

229Another 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.

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

231Prov. 8:35 (LXX).

232Rom. 6:23.

233Cf. John 1:16.

234Rom. 9:21.


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.









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