Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book X/Chapter 29

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Chapter XXIX.—All Hope is in the Mercy of God.

40. And my whole hope is only in Thy exceeding great mercy. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt. Thou imposest continency upon us,[1] “nevertheless, when I perceived,” saith one, “that I could not otherwise obtain her, except God gave her me; . . . that was a point of wisdom also to know whose gift she was.”[2] For by continency are we bound up and brought into one, whence we were scattered abroad into many. For he loves Thee too little who loves aught with Thee, which he loves not for Thee,[3] O love, who ever burnest, and art never quenched! O charity, my God, kindle me! Thou commandest continency; give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.


  1. In his 38th Sermon, he distinguishes between continentia and sustinentia; the first guarding us from the allurements of worldliness and sin, while the second enables us to endure the troubles of life.
  2. Wisd. viii. 21.
  3. In his De Trin. ix. 13 (“In what desire and love differ”), he says, that when the creature is loved for itself, and the love of it is not referred to its Creator, it is desire (cupiditas) and not true love. See also p. 129, note 8, above.