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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Section 10. But in order that we fall not away from Continenceà

On Continence by St. Augustine

Section 10. But in order that we fall not away from Continenceà

10. But in order that we fall not away from Continence, we ought to watch specially against those snares of the suggestions of the devil, that we presume not of our own strength. For, |Cursed is every one that setteth his hope in man.| And who is he, but man? We cannot therefore truly say that he setteth not his hope in man, who setteth it in himself. For this also, to |live after man,| what is it but to |live after the flesh?| Whoso therefore is tempted by such a suggestion, let him hear, and, if he have any Christian feeling, let him tremble. Let him hear, I say, |If ye shall live after the flesh, ye shall die.|

Footnotes:

Jer. xvii.5 c11. But some one will say to me that it is one thing to live after man, another thing to live after the flesh; because man forsooth is a rational creature, and there is in him a rational soul, whereby he differs from the beast: but the flesh is the lowest and earthly part of man, and thus to live after it is faulty: and for this reason, he who lives after man, assuredly lives not after the flesh, but rather after that part of man, whereby he is man, that is, after the spirit of the mind whereby he excels the beasts. But this discussion is perhaps of some force in the schools of philosophers: but we, in order to understand the Apostle of Christ, ought to observe in what manner the Christian books are used to speak; at any rate it is the belief of all of us, to whom to live is Christ, that Man was taken unto Himself by the Word of God, not surely without a rational soul, as certain heretics will have it; and yet we read, |The Word was made flesh.| What is to be here understood by |flesh,| but Man? |And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.| What can be understood, but all men? |Unto Thee shall all flesh come.| What is it, but all men? |Thou hast given unto Him power over all flesh.| What is it, but all men? |Of the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.| What is it, but no man shall be justified? And this the same Apostle in another place confessing more plainly saith, |Man shall not be justified of the works of the Law.| The Corinthians also he rebukes, saying, |Are ye not carnal, and walk after man?| After he had called them carnal, he saith not, ye walk after the flesh, but after man, forasmuch as by this also what would he have understood, but after the flesh? For surely if to walk, that is, to live, after the flesh deserved blame, but after man deserved praise, he would not say by way of rebuke, |ye walk after man.| Let man recognize the reproach; let him change his purpose, let him shun destruction. Hear thou man: walk not thou after man, but after Him Who made man. Fall not thou away from Him Who made thee, even unto thyself. For a man said, who yet lived not after man, |Not that we are sufficient to think any thing from ourselves, as though of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God.| Consider if he lived after man, who spake these things with truth. Therefore the Apostle, admonishing man not to live after man, restores man to God. But whoso liveth not after man, but after God, assuredly liveth not even after himself, because himself also is a man. But he is therefore said also to live after the flesh, when he so lives; because also when the flesh alone hath been named, man is understood, as we have already shown: just as when the soul alone hath been named, man is understood: whence it is said, |Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers,| that is, every man; and, |Seventy-five souls went down into Egypt with Jacob,| that is, seventy-five men. Therefore live thou not after thyself, O man: thou hadst thence perished, but thou wast sought. Live not then, I say, after thyself, O man; thou hadst thence perished, but thou wast found. Accuse not thou the nature of the flesh, when you hear it said, |If ye shall live after the flesh, ye shall die.| For thus could it be said, and most truly could it, If ye shall live after yourselves ye shall die. For the devil hath not flesh, and yet, because he would live after himself, |he abode not in the truth.| What wonder therefore, if, living after himself, |when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own,| which the Truth spake truly of him.

Footnotes:

John i.14 Luke iii.6

Ps. lxv.2

John xvii.2

Rom. iii.20

Gal. ii.16

1 Cor. iii.3

1 Cor. iii.5

Rom. xiii.1

Gen. xlvi.27

Rom. viii.13

John viii.44

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