Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 17 [VII.]--Their Calumny About the Fulfilment of Precepts in the Life to Come.
But who can bear their objecting to us, |that we say that after the resurrection such is to be our progress, that there men can begin to fulfil the commands of God, which they would not here;| since we say that there there will be no sin at all, no struggle with any desire of sin; as if they themselves would dare to deny this? That wisdom also and the knowledge of God, is then perfected in us, and that in the Lord there is such rejoicing that it is a full and a true security, who will deny, unless he is so averse from the truth that on this very account he cannot attain unto it? But these things will not be in precepts, but in reward of those precepts which should here be observed; the neglect of which precepts, indeed, does not lead thither to the reward. But here the grace of God gives the desire of keeping His commandments; and if anything in these commandments is less perfectly observed, He forgives it on account of what we say in prayer, as well |Thy will be done,| as |Forgive us our debts.| Here, then, it is prescribed that we sin not; there, the reward is that we cannot sin. Here, the precept is that we obey not the desires of sin; there, the reward that we have no desires of sin. Here, the precept is, |Understand, ye senseless among the people; and ye fools, be at some time wise;| there, the reward is full wisdom and perfect knowledge. |For we see now through a glass in an enigma,| says the apostle, |but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known.| Here, the precept is, |Exult unto the Lord, our helper,| and, |Rejoice, ye righteous, in the Lord;| there, the reward is to rejoice with a perfect and unspeakable joy. Lastly, in the precept it is written, |Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness;| but in the reward, |Because they shall be filled.| Whence, I ask, shall they be filled, except with what they hunger and thirst after? Who, then, is so abhorrent, not only from the divine perception, but also from the human perception, as to say that in man there can be such righteousness while he is hungering and thirsting for it, as there will be when he shall be filled with it? But when we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, if the faith of Christ is watchful in us, what is it to be believed that we are hungering and thirsting for, save Christ? |For He is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.| And because we only believe on Him not seeing Him, therefore we thirst and hunger after righteousness. For as long as we are in the body, we wander from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by appearance. But when we shall see Him, and attain certainly to the appearance, we shall rejoice with joy unspeakable; and then we shall be filled with righteousness, since now we say to Him with pious longing, |I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall be manifested.|