Category Archives: Church Fathers

“As if in the hand of God” by J.C. Ryle

“Ambrose says, quaintly enough, that the form of the cross is that of a sword with the point downward; above is the hilt toward heaven, as if in the hand of God; below is the point toward earth, as if thrust through the head of the old serpent the devil.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 296. Ryle is commenting on John 19:17.

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“The Maker of man became Man” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“The Word of the Father, by Whom all time was created, was made flesh and was born in time for us.

He, without whose divine permission no day completes its course, wished to have one day set aside for His human birth.

In the bosom of His Father, He existed before all the cycles of ages; born of an earthly mother, He entered upon the course of the years on this day.

The Maker of man became Man that He, Ruler of the stars, might be nourished at His mother’s breast;

that He, the Bread, might hunger;

that He, the Fountain, might thirst;

that He, the Light, might sleep;

that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey;

that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses;

that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge;

that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust;

that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips;

that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross;

that Courage might be weakened;

that Healer might be wounded;

that Life might die.

To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us, unworthy creatures, He who existed as the Son of God before all ages, without a beginning, deigned to become the Son of Man in these recent years.

He did this although He who submitted to such great evils for our sake had done no evil and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, had done nothing to merit these benefits.

Begotten by the Father, He was not made by the Father.

He was made Man in the mother whom He Himself had made, so that He might exist here for a while, sprung from her who could never and nowhere have existed except through His power.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Sermons 184-229: Sermons on Liturgical Seasons (Edmund Hill O.P. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1993), 191.1.

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“He sets our tears in His sight” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Prayer is to be free of much speaking (Matthew 6:7), but not of much entreaty, if the fervor and attention persist. To speak much in prayer is to transact a necessary piece of business with unnecessary words. But to entreat much of Him whom we entreat is to knock by a long-continued and devout uplifting of the heart (Luke 18:1, 7).

In general, this business of prayer is transacted more by sighs than by speech (Romans 8:26), more by tears than by utterance (Psalm 126:5-6).

But He sets our tears in His sight (Psalm 56:8) and our groaning is not hidden from Him (Psalm 38:9) who created all things by His Word and who does not need human words.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Letter 130 (A.D. 412)” in Letters, Volume 2 (83-130), Trans. Wilfrid Parsons (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press: 1953/2008), 391.

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“Drink of the torrent of His pleasure” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Whoever asks that one thing of the Lord (Psalm 27:4) and seeks after it asks with certainty and security, without fear that it will do him harm when he obtains it.

Without this, no other thing which he asks as he ought will do him any good when he obtains it. That one thing is the one true and solely happy life, that we may see forever the delight of the Lord, and made immortal and incorruptible in body and soul.

Other things are sought for the sake of this one thing, and are asked for with propriety. Whoever possesses it will have everything he wishes, and will not be able to wish for anything in that state, because it will not be possible for him to have anything unbecoming.

Truly, the fountain of life is found there (Psalm 34:8-10), which we must now thirst for in our prayers, as long as we live in hope, because we do not see what we hope for (Romans 8:25) under the cover of His wings, before whom is all our desire.

We hope to be inebriated with the plenty of His house, and to drink of the torrent of His pleasure, since with Him is the fountain of life, and in His light we shall see light. (Psalm 36:9)

Then our desire shall be satisfied with good things and there will be nothing more for us to seek by our groaning, since we will possess all things to our joy.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Letter 130 (A.D. 412)” in Letters, Volume 2 (83-130), Trans. Wilfrid Parsons (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press: 1953/2008), 398-398.

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“You pierced my heart” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“With Your word You pierced my heart, and I loved You.”

–Augustine of Hippo, St. Augustine Confessions, Trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), X.vi.8, p. 183.

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“O the sweet exchange!” by The Epistle to Diognetus

“When our unrighteousness was fulfilled, and it had been made perfectly clear that its wages—punishment and death—were to be expected, then the season arrived during which God had decided to reveal at last His goodness and power.

O, the surpassing kindness and love of God! He did not hate us, or reject us, or bear a grudge against us; instead He was patient and forbearing. In His mercy He took upon Himself our sins. He Himself gave up His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy one for the lawless, the guiltless for the guilty, the just for the unjust, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal.

For what else but His righteousness could have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone?

O the sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous person, while the righteousness of One should justify many sinners!”

The Epistle to Diognetus, 9:2-­5, in The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Michael W. Holmes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 709–710.

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“A unique phenomenon” by Johann Nepomuk Huber

“Augustine is a unique phenomenon in Christian history. No one of the other fathers has left so luminous traces of his existence. Though we find among them many rich and powerful minds, yet we find in none the forces of personal character, mind, heart, and will, so largely developed and so harmoniously working.

No one surpasses him in wealth of perceptions and dialectical sharpness of thoughts, in depth and fervor of religious sensibility, in greatness of aims and energy of action. He therefore also marks the culmination of the patristic age, and has been elevated by the acknowledgment of succeeding times as the first and the universal church father.”

–Johann Nepomuk Huber, Die Philosophie der Kirchenväter (Munich, 1859), 312. Cited in Philip Schaff, “Prolegomena” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1 Ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 1:9-10.

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