Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book X/Chapter 36

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Chapter XXXVI.—A Third Kind is “Pride” Which is Pleasing to Man, Not to God.

58. Shall we, then, account this too amongst such things as are to be lightly esteemed, or shall anything restore us to hope, save Thy complete mercy, since Thou hast begun to change us? And Thou knowest to what extent Thou hast already changed me, Thou who first healest me of the lust of vindicating myself, that so Thou mightest forgive all my remaining “iniquities,” and heal all my “diseases,” and redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with “loving-kindness and tender mercies,” and satisfy my desire with “good things;”[1] who didst restrain my pride with Thy fear, and subdue my neck to Thy “yoke.” And now I bear it, and it is “light”[2] unto me, because so hast Thou promised, and made it, and so in truth it was, though I knew it not, when I feared to take it up. But, O Lord,—Thou who alone reignest without pride, because Thou art the only true Lord, who hast no lord,—hath this third kind of temptation left me, or can it leave me during this life?

59. The desire to be feared and loved of men, with no other view than that I may experience a joy therein which is no joy, is a miserable life, and unseemly ostentation. Hence especially it arises that we do not love Thee, nor devoutly fear Thee. And therefore dost Thou resist the proud, but givest grace unto the humble;[3] and Thou thunderest upon the ambitious designs of the world, and “the foundations of the hills” tremble.[4] Because now certain offices of human society render it necessary to be loved and feared of men, the adversary of our true blessedness presseth hard upon us, everywhere scattering his snares of “well done, well done;” that while acquiring them eagerly, we may be caught unawares, and disunite our joy from Thy truth, and fix it on the deceits of men; and take pleasure in being loved and feared, not for Thy sake, but in Thy stead, by which means, being made like unto him, he may have them as his, not in harmony of love, but in the fellowship of punishment; who aspired to exalt his throne in the north,[5] that dark and cold they might serve him, imitating Thee in perverse and distorted ways. But we, O Lord, lo, we are Thy “little flock;”[6] do Thou possess us, stretch Thy wings over us, and let us take refuge under them. Be Thou our glory; let us be loved for Thy sake, and Thy word feared in us. They who desire to be commended of men when Thou blamest, will not be defended of men when Thou judgest; nor will they be delivered when Thou condemnest. But when not the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul, nor he blessed who doeth unjustly,[7] but a man is praised for some gift that Thou hast bestowed upon him, and he is more gratified at the praise for himself, than that he possesses the gift for which he is praised, such a one is praised while Thou blamest. And better truly is he who praised than the one who was praised. For the gift of God in man was pleasing to the one, while the other was better pleased with the gift of man than that of God.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Ps. ciii. 3–5.
  2. Matt. xi. 30.
  3. Jas. iv. 6.
  4. Ps. xviii. 7.
  5. Isa. xiv. 13, 14.
  6. Luke xii. 32.
  7. Ps. x. 3, in Vulg. and LXX.