Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
(22.) Passages to Show that God's Commandments are Not Grievous.
He afterwards adduces those passages which represent God as recommending His own commandments as not grievous: let us now attend to their testimony. |Because,| says he, |God's commandments are not only not impossible, but they are not even grievous. In Deuteronomy: The Lord thy God will again turn and rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers, if ye shall hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments, and His ordinances, and His judgments, written in the book of this law; if thou turn to the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this command, which I give thee this day, is not grievous, neither is it far from thee: it is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who will ascend into heaven, and obtain it for us, that we may hear and do it? neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who will cross over the sea, and obtain it for us, that we may hear and do it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart, and in thine hands to do it.' In the Gospel likewise the Lord says: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' So also in the Epistle of Saint John it is written: This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.'| On hearing these testimonies out of the law, and the gospel, and the epistles, let us be built up unto that grace which those persons do not understand, who, |being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.| For, if they understand not the passage of Deuteronomy in the sense that the Apostle Paul quoted it, -- that |with the heart men believe unto righteousness, and with their mouth make confession unto salvation;| since |they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick,| -- they certainly ought (by that very passage of the Apostle John which he quoted last to this effect: |This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous| ) to be admonished that God's commandment is not grievous to the love of God, which is shed abroad in our hearts only by the Holy Ghost, not by the determination of man's will by attributing to which more than they ought, they are ignorant of God's righteousness. This love, however, shall then be made perfect, when all fear of punishment shall be cut off.