Thursday, June 18, 2009

Augustine: None Perish for whom Christ Died

For if Christ died for those only who with clear intelligence can discern these things, our labour in the Church is almost spent in vain. But if, as is the fact, crowds of common people, possessing no great strength of intellect, run to the Physician in the exercise of faith, with the result of being healed by Christ and Him crucified, that "where sin has abounded, grace may much more abound," [Romans 5:20] it comes in wondrous ways to pass, through the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God and His unsearchable judgments, that, on the one hand, some who do discern between the material and the spiritual in their own nature, while pluming themselves on this attainment, and despising that foolishness of preaching by which those who believe are saved, wander far from the only path which leads to eternal life; and, on the other hand, because not one perishes for whom Christ died, [John 17:12] many glorying in the cross of Christ, and not withdrawing from that same path, attain, notwithstanding their ignorance of those things which some with most profound subtlety investigate, unto that eternity, truth, and love—that is, unto that enduring, clear, and full felicity—in which to those who abide, and see, and love, all things are plain.

Nam si propter eos solos Christus mortuus est, qui certa intellegentia possunt ista discernere, pene frustra in Ecclesia laboramus. Si autem, quod veritas habet, infirmi populi credentium ad medicum currunt, sanandi per Christum, et hunc crucifixum, ut ubi abundavit peccatum, superabundet gratia; miris fit modis per altitudinem divitiarum sapientiae et scientiae Dei, et per inscrutabilia iudicia eius, ut et nonnulli a corporibus incorporea discernentes, cum sibi ex hoc magni videntur, et irrident stultitiam praedicationis, qua salvi fiunt credentes, ab unica via longe exerrent, quae ad vitam aeternam sola perducit: et multi in cruce Christi gloriantes, et ab eadem via non recedentes, etiamsi ista quae subtilissime disseruntur, ignorant, quia non perit unus pusillus mortuus est, ad eamdem perveniant aeternitatem, veritatem, caritatem, id est ad stabilem, certam, plenamque felicitatem, ubi manentibus, videntibus, amantibus sunt cuncta perspicua.

- Augustine, Letter 169 (to Evodius), (NPNF1, Volume 1, J. G. Cunningham translator), (English)(Latin)