Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/On the Good of Widowhood/Section 20
20. Wherefore, forasmuch as in the beginning of this little work I had proposed certain two necessary matters, and had undertaken to follow them out; one which related to doctrine, the other to exhortation; and I have not failed in the former part, to the best of my power, according to the business which I had undertaken; let us come to exhortation, in order that the good which is known wisely, may be pursued ardently. And in this matter I give you this advice first, that, how great soever love of pious continence you feel to be in you, you ascribe it to the favor of God, and give Him thanks, Who of His Holy Spirit hath freely given unto you so much, as that, His love being shed abroad in your heart, the love of a better good should take away from you the permission of a lawful matter. For it was His gift to you that you should not wish to marry, when it was lawful, in order that now it should not be lawful, even if you wished; and that by this means the wish not to do it might be the more settled, lest what were now unlawful be done, which was not done even when lawful; and that, a widow of Christ, you should so far attain as to see your daughter also a virgin of Christ; for whilst you are praying as Anna, she hath become what Mary was. These by how much the more you know them to be gifts of God, by so much the more are you by the same gifts blessed; yea, rather, you are not so otherwise than as you know from Whom you have what you have. For listen to what the Apostle said on this matter, “But we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit Which is of God, that we may know what things have been given to us by God.” Forsooth many have many gifts of God, and by not knowing from Whom they have them, come to boast themselves with impious vanity. But there is no one blessed with the gifts of God, who is ungrateful to the Giver. Forasmuch as, also, whereas in the course of the sacred Mysteries we are bidden to “lift up our hearts,” it is by His help that we are able, by Whose bidding we are admonished; and therefore it follows, that, of this so great good of the heart lifted up, we give not the glory to ourselves as of our own strength, but render thanks unto our Lord God. For of this we are straightway admonished, that “this is meet,” “this is right.” You remember whence these words are taken, you recognize by what sanction, and by how great holiness they are commended within. Therefore hold and have what you have received, and return thanks to the Giver. For, although it be yours to receive and have, yet you have that, which you have received; forasmuch as to one waxing proud, and impiously glorying of that which he had, as though he had it of himself, the Truth saith by the Apostle, “But what hast thou, which thou hast not received? But, if thou hast received, why boastest thou, as if thou hadst not received?”
- 1 Cor. ii. 12
- “Intus qua sanctione,” al. “inter quas actiones,” “amongst what actions;” there are other various readings besides.
- 1 Cor. iv. 7