Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 25 [XXIV.]--God by His Wonderful Power Works in Our Hearts Good Dispositions of Our Will.
Now I want him to tell us whether that king of Assyria, whose holy wife Esther |abhorred his bed,| whilst sitting upon the throne of his kingdom, and clothed in all his glorious apparel, adorned all over with gold and precious stones, and dreadful in his majesty when he raised his face, which was inflamed with anger, in the midst of his splendour, and beheld her, with the glare of a wild bull in the fierceness of his indignation; and the queen was afraid, and her colour changed as she fainted, and she bowed herself upon the head of the maid that went before her; -- I want him to tell us whether this king had yet |hastened to the Lord, and had desired to be directed by Him, and had subordinated his own will to His, and had, by cleaving fast to God, become one spirit with Him, simply by the force of his own free will.| Had he surrendered himself wholly to God, and entirely mortified his own will, and placed his heart in the hand of God? I suppose that anybody who should think this of the king, in the state he was then in, would be not foolish only, but even mad. And yet God converted him, and turned his indignation into gentleness. Who, however, can fail to see how much greater a task it is to change and turn wrath completely into gentleness, than to bend the heart to something, when it is not preoccupied with either affection, but is indifferently poised between the two? Let them therefore read and understand, observe and acknowledge, that it is not by law and teaching uttering their lessons from without, but by a secret, wonderful, and ineffable power operating within, that God works in men's hearts not only revelations of the truth, but also good dispositions of the will.