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On Patience by St. Augustine

On Patience

[De Patientia.]

Translated by Rev. H. Browne, M.A.

Of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; Late Principal of the Diocesan College, Chichester.
Erasmus infers from the style and language of this piece, that it is not S Erasmus infers from the style and language of this piece, that it is not S. Augustin's, putting it in the same category with the treatises On Continence, On substance of Charity, On Faith of things invisible. The Benedictine editors acknowledge that it has peculiarities of style which are calculated to move suspicion; (especially the studied assonances and rhyming endings, e.g. |cautior fuit iste in doloribus quam ille in nemoribus . . . consensit ille oblectamentis, non cessit ille tormentis,| chap.12.); yet they feel themselves bound to retain it among the genuine works by Augustin's own testimony, who mentions both this piece and that On Continence in his Epistle to Darius, 231. chap.7. [Vol. I.584.] That it is not named in the Retractations is accounted for by the circumstance that it appears to have been delivered as a sermon, see chap.1. and 3, and Augustin did not live to fulfill his intention of composing a further book of retractations on review of his popular discourses and letters. Ep.224. chap.2. In point of matter and doctrine this treatise has nothing contrary to or not in harmony with S. Augustin's known doctrine and sentiments. c1. That virtue of the mind which is called Patience, is so great a gift of God, that even in Him who bestoweth the same upon us, that, whereby He waiteth for evil men that they may amend, is set forth by the name of Patience, [or long-suffering.] So, although in God there can be no suffering, and |patience| hath its name a patiendo, from suffering, yet a patient God we not only faithfully believe, but also wholesomely confess. But the patience of God, of what kind and how great it is, His, Whom we say to be impassible, yet not impatient, nay even most patient, in words to unfold this who can be able? Ineffable is therefore that patience, as is His jealousy, as His wrath, and whatever there is like to these. For if we conceive of these as they be in us, in Him are there none. We, namely, can feel none of these without molestation: but be it far from us to surmise that the impassible nature of God is liable to any molestation. But like as He is jealous without any darkening of spirit, wroth without any perturbation, pitiful without any pain, repenteth Him without any wrongness in Him to be set right; so is He patient without aught of passion. Now therefore as concerning human patience, which we are able to conceive and beholden to have, of what sort it is, I will, as God granteth and the brevity of the present discourse alloweth, essay to set forth.


Pati Nihil patientem


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