Thursday, March 31, 2016

He Is Good to All

Continuing my posts of patristic texts coinciding with this Sunday’s Psalm study.

The Lᴏʀᴅ is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lᴏʀᴅ is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.  (Ps 145:8-9)

Were He not such as this, there would be no seeking to recover us.  Consider yourself: what did you deserve, O sinner?  Despiser of God, what did you deserve?  See if anything occurs to you but penalty, if anything occurs to you but punishment.  You see, then, what was due to you, and what He has given, who gave freely.  There was given pardon to the sinner.  There was given the spirit of justification.  There was given charity and love, wherein you may do all good works.  And beyond this, He will give you also life everlasting, and fellowship with the angels: all of His mercy.… Hear the Scripture: “I do not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn, and live.”  By these words of God, he is brought back to hope, but there is another snare to be feared, lest through this very hope he sins all the more.  What then did you also say, you who through hope sins yet more?  “Whenever I shall turn, God will forgive me all; I will do whatever I desire.”  Do not say, “Tomorrow I will turn, tomorrow I will please God; and all today’s and yesterday’s deeds shall be forgiven me.”  You speak the truth: God has promised pardon to your conversion, but He has not promised a tomorrow to your delay.

Why then does He condemn?  Why does He scourge?  Are not they whom He condemns, whom He scourges, His works?  Plainly they are.  And will you know how “His compassions are over all His works”?  Thence is that long-suffering, whereby “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good.”  Are not “His compassions over all His works, who sends rain upon the just and upon the unjust”?  In His long-suffering He waits for the sinner, saying, “Turn to Me, and I will turn to you.”  Are not “His compassions over all His works”?  And when He says, “Go into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” this is not His compassion, but His severity.  His compassion is given to His works.  His severity is not over His works, but over your works.  Lastly, if you remove your own evil works, and there remain in you nothing but His work, His compassion will not leave you, but if you do not leave your works, there will be severity over your works, not over His works.

Augustine, Expositions on the Book of Psalms 145.7-8

No comments: