Monday, August 1, 2011

St Augustine on the Blessings of Eternity

A reading from the book of St Augustine The City of God.
XXII, 30

How great shall be that felicity, which shall be tainted with no evil, which shall lack no good, and which shall afford leisure for the praises of God, who shall be all in all!  For I know not what other employment there can be where no lassitude shall slacken activity, nor any want stimulate to labour.  I am admonished also by the sacred song, in which I read or hear the words, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord; they will be alway praising thee.” (Ps 84:5)

Certainly that city shall have no greater joy than the celebration of the grace of Christ, who redeemed us by his blood.  There shall be accomplished the words of the psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:11) There shall be the great Sabbath which has no evening, which God celebrated among his first works, as it is written, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made.  And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God began to make.” (Gen. 2:2-3) For we shall ourselves be the seventh day, when we shall be filled and replenished with God's blessing and sanctification.  There shall we be still, and know that he is God; when we are restored by him, and perfected with greater grace, we shall have eternal leisure to see that he is God, for we shall be full of him when he shall be all in all (I Cor. 15:28). 

For even our good works, when they are understood to be rather his than ours, are imputed to us that we may enjoy this Sabbath rest.  For if we attribute them to ourselves, they shall be servile; for it is said of the Sabbath, “You shall do no servile work in it.” (Deut. 5:14) Wherefore also it is said by Ezekiel the prophet, “And I gave them my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctify them.” (Ezek. 20:12) This knowledge shall be perfected when we shall be perfectly at rest, and shall perfectly know that he is God.

After this period God shall rest as on the seventh day, when he shall give us (who shall be the seventh day) rest in himself. 

Suffice it to say that the seventh shall be our Sabbath, which shall be brought to a close, not by an evening, but by the Lord’s day, as an eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the resurrection of Christ, and prefiguring the eternal repose not only of the spirit, but also of the body.  There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.  This is what shall be in the end without end.  For what other end do we propose to ourselves than to attain to the kingdom of which there is no end?

No comments: