“One Almighty is more than many mighties.”
–William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1662/2002), 35.
“A beggar would invite scorn if he were to boast of an expensive garment which someone had loaned him for one day… The graces, gifts, beauty, strength, riches, and whatever else you may have, God has but granted you on loan. Would you then put these on display as if they were your own?”
–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 4: Ethics and Eschatology, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 4: 71, 75.
“In Yourself You arouse us, giving us delight in glorifying You, because You made us with Yourself as our goal, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 3.
“What is it that I love?
I asked the earth, and it said, ‘It’s not me,’ and everything in it admitted the same thing.
I asked the sea and the great chasms of the deep, and the creeping things that have the breath of life in them, and they answered, ‘We aren’t your God: search above us.’
I asked the gusty winds, and all the atmosphere there is, along with its inhabitants, said, ‘I’m not God.’
I asked the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, and they said, “We’re not the God you’re looking for, either.”
I told all those beings who stand around outside my body’s gates, its senses, ‘Tell me about my God. You aren’t Him, but tell me something about Him.’ And they declared with a shout, ‘He made us!’
My question was the act of focusing on them, and their response was their beauty.
But then I turned myself toward myself and asked myself, ‘Who are you?’ and I answered, ‘A human being.’ Here at my service were my body and my soul, the one of which is outward, the other inward.
Which was the one I should use to seek my God– whom I’d already sought through material objects from the earth clear up to the sky, as far as I could send the message-bearing rays of my eyesight?
The soul within is certainly better for informing me, as all the messengers that are material objects relay to it their news, and it presides and judges the depositions of the sky and the earth and everything in them that says ‘We are not God,’ and ‘God made us.’
The inside person has found this out through the help of the outside person; my inside self found this out– I did, it was me, my mind working through my physical perception.
I asked the whole huge universe about my God, and it answered me, ‘I am not God, but God made me.'”
–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 284-284.
“It isn’t with a wavering but with a sure awareness that I love You, Master. You struck my heart to the core with Your Word, and I fell in love with You.
But the sky, too, and the earth, and everything that’s in them–look, from all directions everything is telling me to love You, and never stops telling all people, so that they have no excuse.
But deeper is the mercy You will grant to whomever You grant Your mercy, and the tenderheartedness You will show anyone to whom You’re tenderhearted. Otherwise, the sky and the earth could speak Your praises, but we would be deaf.
But what do I love, in loving You? It’s not the beauty of material things, or any attractiveness of this time-bound world, not the pale gleam of the light, this light here which is so friendly to these physical eyes of mine.
And it’s not the sweet melodies of every sort, and not the agreeable aromas of flowers and perfumes and spices, and not manna or honey on the tongue, and not a body welcome in a physical embrace.
I don’t love these things in loving my God.
But I do love a certain light, and a certain voice, and a certain fragrance, and a certain food, and a certain embrace in loving my God: this is the light, the voice, the fragrance, the food, the embrace of the person I am within, where something that space does not contain radiates, and something sounds that time doesn’t snatch away, and something sheds a fragrance that the wind doesn’t scatter, and something has a flavor that gluttony doesn’t diminish, and something clings that the full indulgence of desire doesn’t sunder.
This is what I love in loving my God.”
–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 281-282.